Sawamura-Sugawara Ennoshita Chikara is everything anyone could possibly want in a spouse: he’s as kind as a mother bird, handsome as a prince, determined as a warrior in a well-fought battle, soft as the first drifts of snow on a silent night. And he’s the son of the two most powerful men in Karasuno.
Keiji hears of Ennoshita far before he ever lays eyes on him. In this town, news travels as a bullet, so anything concerning anyone soon becomes everyone’s business. Usually this annoys him, but it comes quite in handy on certain events.
Kuroo unintentionally reminds him of this, when they’re at the tavern once more. Many a times, meetings concerning the Karasuno and Shiratorizawa war take place in a tavern, but tonight’s round is far past over with most of the attendants having left. Keiji stays to continue discussing the military’s plans and to keep an eye on Kuroo so he’ll make it home safe.
“Their strategist with the weird hair is so annoying,” he laments over his sake. “He probably cut with his own knife himself. And their crest is a swan, they can’t fool anyone with their eagle metaphors!” He traces the top of his glass. “Seriously, though. Their strategist isn’t someone to scoff at.”
Keiji hums in agreement. “General Ukai is doing a good job, but he’s been stressed ever since Lieutenant Sugawara, got injured, last month,” he notes, finishing his drink. “He can’t return to battle and Lieutenant Sawamura left the army as well.”
“I heard today they’re hosting a ball in a fortnight” Kuroo comments, finishing his drink as well and, much to Keiji’s relief, grabbing his coat. “Sugawara-san likes company and convinced Sawamura-san he’s in good enough condition to host. He sure is stubborn,” he adds with a chuckle. “You should come with me.”
“Why me?” Keiji warily asks, pulling on his own coat.
They each pull out yen to cover their drinks. As they exit the tavern, his eyes are captivated in the glittering night sky. The stars look too hopeful to be in a place of war.
“You’ll be stuck with your nose in a book or writing your hand off if I left you to your own devices,” Kuroo answers, glancing up at the sky as well. “Don’t give me that look, it’s true. Oh, look, Orion’s Belt!”
Keiji lightly smiles. Kuroo is a big researcher, especially in science. Astronomy isn’t his favorite yet he loves finding constellations. Keiji knows Kuroo would have a job in research if not for the war. The thought makes his smile slide off.
“I’ll go so you won’t keep on my tail,” he replies. Stating his agreement out loud causes anticipation running through his veins. He misses Kuroo’s grin.
Kuroo insists Keiji purchase a new suit for the ball.
“I have enough suits at home,” he deadpans.
“Dude. This is a nice ball. Trust me.” And so Keiji lets Kuroo drag him off to the tailor’s.
“Am I trying to impress someone specific?” Keiji says, still questioning Kuroo’s insistence, even as he’s getting measured.
Kuroo cocks an eyebrow up. “Want a reminder of who’s hosting the ball?” he retorts and Keiji glances away so he doesn’t spot the smirking cat. Perhaps he’s right this time.
“Getting a fancy suit for that ball,” the tailor, Kinoshita, states. “So that’s what this is for?” He unwraps the tape measure from around Keiji. Grabbing a pencil from behind his ear, he marks the measurements on the order form.
“Akaashi’s got to impress them,” Kuroo says, hitting Keiji’s back. He shoots the taller male an unimpressed look.
“Who knows if I’ll even talk to the hosts,” Keiji retorts, his own words sounding unlikely even to himself. One does not simply go to a ball, especially in day and age, and not make new friends and allies, especially with the hosts.
“You will,” Kinoshita pipes up, wraps the tape measure around his waist. “They never let anyone walk through their house without knowing them and their entire backstory, along with their birthday and address, so they can send a gift.”
“They’re quite friendly,” Kuroo agrees. Keiji makes a mental note. He hopes to gain more political allies while he’s there- while he intends to help out the war effort, he also must plan ahead for his future. If he doesn’t make an impact during the war, not only has he not personally helped Karasuno, he’s also lost a chance to broaden his future career, alienating a chance in this new country’s government.
“Hey Kino, will you be there?” Kuroo asks, fingers tracing over folded piles of fabric while smiling at the tailor.
Kinoshita places the tape measure around his neck. “Yeah, why?” he says, despite the mischievous spark in his eyes.
"Save me a dance, why don’t you?” Kuroo winks.
Kinoshita grins. “Only if you’re not late,” he smoothly says.
Kuroo nearly chokes. “I’m never late!”
“Sure, Kuroo. Now what color do you want your jacket to be, Akaashi-kun?”
With a deep sigh, Chikara swirls his champagne in the clear glass. He runs his finger along the gold-edged rim, staring into the glistening beverage.
“Your family’s having a ball for the first time in a year and your drink is the only interesting thing?” a familiar voice teases. Chikara moves his gaze up and smiles widely.
“Tetsu!” he happily cheers. He rushes to close the distance between them with a hug. “I’ve missed you.”
Kuroo has his own drink in hand and holds it up and away so he can hug the younger male back.
“So have I. It’s weird not seeing you around,” he notes, ruffling Chikara’s hair. “You’ve been coped up in your room, working on a script perhaps?”
"I’m been keeping myself distracted,” he admits. “Did you hear? My parents know I want to join the war and they went through my biological family’s medical records. My paternal grandfather has a heart disease and because of that, I’m not allowed to enter the military.” Chikara’s voice turns bitter by the end. “No one else had it, so it’s probably not hereditary!”
Kuroo hums sympathetically. “It shows you how much your dads love you,” he points out. “They’re desperate for you to stay safe.”
Chikara sighs. “I know. I’m not mad at them anymore, but it still stings. I want to help Karasuno in any way.”
“Morale is an important part,” Kuroo replies. Chikara gives him a curious look. “It is, but where are you going with this?” “The theater is looking for a new director,” Kuroo informs.
“Their last one just retired. Just retired as in, earlier today.”
Chikara widens his eyes. “Really?” he asks excitedly. It’s no secret Chikara loves to direct and he’s helped the theater many times. But being director by himself for such a large production? Chills run down his back.
“They’re probably considering as we speak, but it wouldn’t hurt to stop by in person,” Kuroo says.
Chikara grins. “I’ll send a letter asking them to dinner first thing in the morning.” He tilts his head back, finishing his drink. “Have you danced with anyone yet?”
“Kino promised me a dance,” Kuroo reports. He sipped the rest of his champagne and placed both of their glasses on a passing waiter’s tray. “Haven’t spotted him yet. So..." He offers a hand to Chikara. “How about you take his place for now?”
“How romantic,” he rejoinders, placing his hand in Kuroo’s. “I’m swooning,” he adds with a laugh.
Kuroo grins and tugs Chikara close to his chest. “Shall we?” A bellow of laughter parts from his mouth as he nods. Letting Kuroo take the lead due to his taller height, he loses himself in the dance and the commentary the two make as they make their way across the floor.
Chikara fights back a smile at seeing Hinata and Yachi dance together. “They look like the sun,” he comments to Kuroo. “With Yachi-chan’s gold dress and their hair colors.”
“Not to mention how fast Hinata is moving them,” Kuroo murmurs, causing a chuckle from Chikara. Hinata spins Yachi in a circle, the latter’s face an expression of shock and befuddlement. “He never was one to take things slow. Big, bundle of energy."
Chikara opens his mouth to agree when his heart stops, eyes locked on a figure across the room. Not an ordinary person, but the most beautiful one he’s ever seen in his entire life. Gorgeous, wavy black hair with curls framing his face. Sparkling eyes popping out and putting every gem at the ball to shame. A dark blue jacket fits him snugly and Chikara can’t bear to look away. He’s so engrossed he stops moving, right before a spin. Kuroo curiously eyes him before turning his head.
“What are you staring at?” he questions.
“What?” Chikara, reluctantly, focuses back on Kuroo. “Nothing. No one,” he lies with insistence before moving his gaze back to the dark-eyed man.
“That’s a lie if I ever heard one.” Kuroo didn’t even finish his sentence before Chikara lets out a dreamy sigh. The sneaky cat, at last, catches the person he’s looking at.
“You know Akaashi?” he prompts and Chikara doesn’t even bother to tear his gaze away. “Who?”
“The man you’re making googly eyes at.”
“I am not,” Chikara asserts.
Kuroo snorts. “You’re all ‘doki doki.’”
“Is that the man’s name? Akaashi?” Chikara hopefully asks.
“Akaashi Keiji,” Kuroo fills in and Chikara is too stuck by how perfect that name is to notice his partner spinning them closer to Akaashi.
“He’s gorgeous,” Chikara says under his breath. Kuroo’s smirk informs him he wasn’t low enough. A moment later, it’s time again for the dancing couples to spin each other. Kuroo gently pushes Chikara away. He almost stumbles against someone and when he looks up, he stops breathing. Damn that cat.
“Are you okay?” Akaashi concernedly asks, helping him steady his feet. Chikara gulps. He’s even more gorgeous closer up.
In the distance, Kuroo’s awful cackling, choked laughter nearly tunes out the music.
Akaashi’s eyebrows raise, worried even more and Chikara realizes he hasn’t spoken a word.
“Yes!” he quickly answers, face growing hotter by the second. “I’m so sorry, my dance partner-”
“Kuroo-san is a piece of work,” Akaashi chuckles. A heavenly sound, if Chikara may say so himself. “I understand.”
Chikara blinks, surprised. “You know Tetsu?” he inquires inquisitively. So that’s how Kuroo knew Akaashi’s name.
“We met when I came here for college,” Akaashi replies. “Are you Sawamura-Sug-”
Chikara closes his eyes and laughs. If he kept them open, he would’ve noticed the taller man’s tiny blush. “It’s a mouthful, I know. You can call me Ennoshita.”
Akaashi lightly smiles and takes his hand. “It’s an honor to meet you, Ennoshita-kun,” he purrs, bowing. He presses his lips against Chikara’s hand, maintaining eye contact.
Blushes take over Chikara's cheeks. Forget Yachi and Hinata, he’s certain he’s the sun now from the amount of heat on his face. He keeps quiet as he tries to gather his thoughts, increasing heartbeat making it difficult.
“Y-you’re Akaashi Keiji, right?” he checks, cursing himself for stuttering.
Akaashi nods, standing upright by now yet still holds Chikara’s hand. The band switches into another song.
“May I ask you for a dance?” Akaashi smoothly asks, gently pulling Chikara closer to him. “I’m not the best dancer. Perhaps you can teach me?”
Chikara smiles, heart beating so loud in his ears, the sound nearly overpowers the band.
“I’d love to,” he breathlessly answers, lacing his fingers with Akaashi’s. The rest of the evening, the two are inseparable. They dance across the room, laughter and smiles emitting from their conversation, and sneak out to the gardens towards the end of the evening. Kuroo grins to himself. "Wonder when the wedding is," he says to himself proudly.
Not even a day later, Tetsurō sits in the Sawamura-Sugawara parlor, observing the walls. No surprise many surfaces are covered with paintings of the three and pride swells inside him when he spots the ‘Kai Nobuyuki’ signature on the most recent pieces of art. Tetsurō grins, proud of Kai and his accomplishments, especially during the times of war and money shortage. He notices a large space above the mantel, recently occupied by the most recent family portrait just the evening before. Seconds tick by and realization sets in. They’re expecting a new portrait soon. After having one done so recently, the only reason to commission another is-
If they expect a marriage is on the horizon. Tetsurō chuckles to himself. So, he isn’t the only one who noticed the two lovebirds last night. Daichi and Suga are quite sneaky.
He’s stirred from his thoughts once Ennoshita enters the parlor. Arms full of papers and a large grin across his face, Tetsurō guesses, “Your meeting went well?”
“They hired me.” Ennoshita beams. He appears as an angel with warm lighting cascading across his face, his soft smile glowing. “The food wasn’t even brought out when they handed me the contract.”
A servant sets down a tray of tea and cookies. They thank the servant and dig into the food, despite supper around the corner. Ennoshita, while stuffing his face, explains to Tetsurō his idea for the next play, excitement radiating off him. He just smiles and listens, suggesting notions when need be.
Suga arrives home from his new job, helping the local orphanage, with Daichi not long behind him. Ennoshita excitedly tells them the news, resulting in a family hug that Tetsurō joins to make Suga and Ennoshita laugh, and to cause Daichi’s 'I would laugh but I have a reputation to maintain' face. Time ticks away and nearly supper time when the evening mail is delivered.
Ennoshita slips away from the ongoing conversation (Tetsurō explaining the time he drunkenly stumbled upon a duel) to answer the door. Moments later, Ennoshita screeches. “Honey?” Suga and Daichi both get up, concern across their face, as Ennoshita rushes to the living room.
“You know, the door is still open,” Tetsurō unhelpfully says.
“I got a letter!” Pure joy is written all over Ennoshita’s face as he waves the envelope. Tetsurō immediately recognizes the loopy, nearly delicate penmanship. Akaashi, doesn't even know how charming he truly is.
“You’ve gotten letters before,” Daichi points out, slightly puzzled. Suga is quick to connect Ennoshita’s reaction and the letter. “I don’t think it’s an ordinary letter,” he whispers to his husband.
“Who’s it from?” Daichi responds.
“I have an idea.” Suga gives Daichi a long look and flits his eyes to the new opening space above the fireplace mantel. Daichi’s mouth forms an ‘O’ and he grins.
Ennoshita doesn’t pay attention to them as he rips open the letter. He plops onto the couch, eyes focusing on the papers.
Tetsurō shamelessly leans towards him, glancing at the letter. He manages to catch a bit: Chikara, pray tell: How can I work on essays when you’re constantly on my mind? Your soft and handsome face, smooth cheeks, wonderful and kind smile… The way your eyes light up when discussing your passion and joy; I believe you’re some magical creature, bewitching me under a spell, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Tetsurō’s eyes swift to Ennoshita’s expression; his eyes shimmer with joy and infatuation. Even a blind person would be able to sense how smitten Ennoshita is- he’s fallen hard.
“That’s a long letter,” Daichi comments. He tries to get a peek but Ennoshita holds the letter closer to him, eyes widening along with his smile.
“Akaashi never writes anything short,” Tetsurō states. “He always has something to say.” Suga and Daichi share even wider grins, their suspicions confirmed.
“Perhaps we’ll invite him over this week,” Suga suggests and judging from the mischievous look in his eyes, it’s easy to tell which parent Ennoshita got his playful streak.
“A splendid idea, Koushi.”
“Do you expect anything less?” Suga retorts.
Daichi hums in agreement. “I’m sure this gentleman is spectacular.”
Ennoshita flushes harder the longer he continues to read. Tetsurō practically sees the hearts in his dark eyes. Despite the various pages, he flies through the letter, consuming every word like the paper may disappear at any moment. He giggles- giggles – multiple times.
“I’ll have supper later,” Ennoshita says; his eyes never leave the parchment, even when he stands up. If it wasn’t clear earlier, the way he holds the letter, tight and close to his chest, reveals how much he’s lovestruck.
“What for?” Suga queries. “We’re about to eat-”
“I have to write Keiji back immediately!” Ennoshita insists. He doesn’t even bother to bring his theater papers up with him; he only clenches his love letter as he races up the stairs to his room.
Tetsurō doesn’t ignore Ennoshita’s use of Akaashi’s given name. With the stoic man’s high use of honorifics no matter the length of years he’s known someone, it’s clear how smitten Akaashi is over Ennoshita.
He smirks to himself. The two are lovesick puppies. “Am I the only one hearing wedding bells?”
The next two weeks were a blur: whenever Keiji isn’t taking place in discussions concerning the war, he’s at Ennoshita’s side. Kuroo joked he’s at the younger male’s beck and call. Keiji chose to ignore that statement.
He’s supposed to write a letter to Commander Ukai, requesting a meeting the next time his troops roll into town. The letter must be convincing, strong but not negatively stubborn, clearly interested but not overbearing, since he wishes to apply for Suga’s previous job, Karasuno’s strategist. Alas, he cannot focus on his work due to a little distraction named Ennoshita.
They spent only one evening together two nights ago and he hasn’t left Keiji’s mind since, capturing his every thought. Running a hand through his hair, Keiji drags out a sigh. He grabs his coat and slips is on, hoping a walk will distract him from his distractions- oh the irony- and heads out to the town square.
Unsurprisingly, his subconscious brought him to the theater. He smiles to himself. One of the many parts he adored about Ennoshita is his love and drive. The theater is the perfect outlet for his creativity.
Keiji pushes open the doors and marvels in the rare sight of a quiet lobby. Normally wealthy people in ostentatious apparel sip their champagne between acts. Now, not a peep sounds, no swishes of sparkling drinks and rustles of fabric. An echo emerges from the auditorium catches his attention.
Keiji hums, walking forward until he once again pushes a set of doors open. A few voices sprinkle from throughout the stage and rafters above.
“Chikara, which rope closes the main curtains again?” a man calls out from a stage wing.
“Shigeru, I told you multiple times!” Ennoshita’s words appear annoyed, though he lets out an airy laugh. “I’ll show you again.”
Keiji looks up to the balcony and notices his positioning makes him invisible to the upper level. He takes a few steps forward and faces the balcony. “May I be of assistance?” Ennoshita immediately swivels his head towards him.
“Keiji!” he cheers, his smile infectious and spreading to Keiji. “I’ll be right down!”
“I’m guessing you won’t be showing me the ropes for a while?” the man, (Oikawa-Iwaizumi) Yahaba Shigeru if Keiji guesses by his first name, says. Ennoshita doesn’t respond, already rushing form the balcony. Judging from his appearance on the lower level thirty seconds later, he assumes Ennoshita ran. He chuckles at the thought.
“I’m glad I’m not the only eager one,” he comments, lightly grabbing Ennoshita’s hand to place a kiss.
The younger male blushes. “I didn’t know you’d be visiting,” Ennoshita replies. Keiji hums and offers his arm; he happily accepts.
“You see,” Keiji begins, slowly walking towards the stage, hoping Ennoshita will guide him as his eyes are glued to the other male’s face, “I couldn’t get any writing completed, you’ve taken over my thoughts. Quite inconvenient for my essays, I won’t lie.” He gives a smile, causing Ennoshita to lightly laugh. “Naturally, I assumed a distraction would help me calm my thoughts, so I took a walk. My subconscious brought me here. You always come to me, I suppose.”
Ennoshita flushes pink and turns away. “I hate how much you make me blush,” he mumbles, sporting a pout. “Especially your letters!”
“You don’t hate them.”
“No,” Ennoshita agrees. “I adore them just as I adore you.” Keiji hopes the nearly faint lighting of the auditorium covers his own soft blush. “I adore you. Would I write them otherwise? I must woo my lover, it’s part of the courting process.” Ennoshita turns as bright as the velvet red seats.
Although it’s been understood and unsaid by either until now, Keiji notes the sudden change in the air because of his words. A raw aura, full of pure, innocent adulation swells through the air and they both smile. Keiji could stare into Ennoshita’s eyes and never be bored for the rest of his life. Brown eyes, soft as Ennoshita himself, stare fondly back and he wishes he could pause this moment in time.
Many people may believe Keiji courts Ennoshita because a marriage would guarantee political support from Suga and Daichi. Keiji can’t lie and say that isn’t a nice thought, but even if it wasn’t true, he’d still court the younger male.
As Ennoshita gives Keiji a tour of the theater, he watches Ennoshita the whole time, enjoying his vibrant explanation of his most recent screenplay. Keiji won’t deny the true reason he’s falling for him: his passion, his heart, his desires and everything in between. No matter what other people may whisper behind hands or silently think, he knows the true reason of his feelings for Ennoshita.
And that will be enough.