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More Than Enough

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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.’”

“Am not!”

A pause.

“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.

Chapter Text

While Chikara is son of the most powerful men in Karasuno, his friends’ parents aren't slapdash either. Just like him, Yahaba and Futakuchi both have parents formerly in the army; Oikawa Tooru’s knee prevented him from the battleground, causing he and his husband, Iwaizumi Hajime, settled for participating in the Congress, and Futakuchi’s parents, Moniwa Kaname and Kamasaki Yasushi, both retired the previous year to do the same as Yahaba’s dads.

The six parents grew close to each other, resulting in their children becoming friends from a young age and frequently seen at each other’s sides. They even went to the same college, complaining about their classes and professors. Friends that criticize together, stay together.

Yahaba sits in the same boat as Chikara; not allowed to partake in the army.

“My parents actually went to General Ukai and, out of own pocket, paid for the newest artillery, if he denied me acceptance into the army!” he grumbles to the older two as they explore the square.

“They got the idea from my parents,” Chikara guesses. Yahaba nods and stuffs his hands in his pockets. “I prodded them and they admitted couldn’t find anything medical from my biological family to prevent me, so they resorted to other means.”

Futakuchi snorts. “My dads are doing the same,” he says, staring straight ahead of him. “So I sneaked into their offices, searched for my medical records, and saw my birth mother had two heart attacks. She didn’t even die from them,” he mutters before clearing his throat and nonchalantly saying, “Anyway, I threw it in the fire.”

Chikara halts his footsteps and grabs Futakuchi’s sleeve. “Are you serious?” he slowly asks. The three recent college graduates stop in the middle of the street. Some people give them dirty looks until they realize who they are- and who their parents are- before simply moving around them.

“You actually burned your medical records so your parents wouldn’t send it in?” He wished he realized his parents would use that as a means to prevent his going to war, but it’s too late. Once General Ukai heard the news, he already banned him from applying for the military.

Futakuchi hums. “Yep. Now they can’t take my parents’ word for it. If that worked, then half the families would try it to prevent their kids from entering the war.”

“Your parents will be dismayed,” Chikara states.

“Just like how I was when they first went away for battle,” Futakuchi says. “But as I got older, after countless nights clenching my pillow and crying for fear of never seeing them again, I realized why they did it. And I want to do the same. I can’t change the pain they’ll feel, but I need to do this.” He clenches his jaw. “I want to fight for my country. No one will stop me. Not even my parents.”

An uncomfortable silence surrounds them until Yahaba clears his throat. “So you’re actually going to fight in the war.” It’s not a question.

“I already sent in my application,” Futakuchi responds. “Now I wait.”

The air turns cold. Chikara stares at the ground. He himself wishes to fight for his country, but his parents took away that choice from him. He knows it was out of love and fear, but he shakes the thought aside. Everyone close to him is getting in further danger, and even though he’d do the same if allowed, knowing how perilous the situation his loved ones have and will be in terrifies him.

Yahaba is the first to speak up. “Don’t be a dumbass and get killed,” he says, aiming for a light-hearted tone; his shaky voice betrays him and reveals his nervousness.

Futakuchi offers a weak smile. “If I get killed, you’ll find me and kill me again,” he replies. “I’d rather not face your wrath again.”

“I’d help Shigeru,” Chikara offers and Futakuchi squawks. “I don’t want to die three times! I’ll stay alive, jeez!” he rolls his eyes, lips twitching upwards.

“You better,” Yahaba mumbles, voice heavy. He clears his throat. “Let’s head to the tavern. This talk makes me want a drink.”

“You’re a baby, can you hold your alcohol?” Futakuchi teases. He steps aside, letting a rushing woman holding groceries run past him.

“I’m only a few months younger than you!” Yahaba yells, sharpening his gaze towards Futakuchi. “Don’t get all high and mighty with me.”

“I’m older than both of you!” Futakuchi triumphantly responds.

“Irrelevant!” Yahaba says. “Besides, Chikara outdrinks you. Remember on my birthday? You were wasted.”

Futakuchi huffs. “Now that’s irrelevant!”

“How so?” Yahaba demands.

“Because it’s false!”

“It totally is not! Ask Kuroo-san, he was there!”

Chikara laughs at his friends’ bickering. No matter the situation, he takes comfort in knowing certain things will never change.

~~

“Frankly, it’s clear what we need to do,” Keiji says, sipping his drink.

“What’s that?” Bokuto excitedly says. It’s been ages since he’s heard the older man’s boisterous noise, but it’s comforting. As loud as it is, Keiji’s reminded of home, of Fukurodani, and when he met Bokuto’s friends as a young child, when they helped him escape-

“Steal their canons,” Keiji answers.

The tavern’s chatter around the six soldiers dissipates as they think the suggestion over. Tsukishima grunts in agreement as Hinata and Lev turn to Keiji in awe.

“Akaashi-san, you’re so smart!” the fiery redhead yells.

“Thank you, Hinata,” he says, finding it funny how Hinata is so energetic about anything and everything.

Kuroo slings an arm around Keiji’s shoulders. “You’re going to be a great leader of a troop one day,” he claims. “Mark my words, you’ll be known throughout Karasuno as a hero.”

“I simply offered an idea the rest of the group agrees with,” Keiji deadpans. “I haven’t even stepped onto the battle field yet, unlike Bokuto-san.” Bokuto is the only one out of the six to fight in a battle. Everyone else has only recently signed up, working on the sidelines.

“That’s how it starts out!” Bokuto insists. “You gotta start somewhere!” He downs his beer and ruffles Keiji’s hair. He scowls but can’t bring himself to be truly annoyed. Bokuto is the older brother he never had, though many times Keiji is the one in charge of making sure Bokuto doesn’t get in trouble.

“Akaashi-san is so cool!” Hinata rambles to Tsukishima. The former’s face is full of energy while the latter appears as though he didn’t get enough sleep. “Why don’t you think so, huh Tsukishima?”

“I never said anything about whether he’s cool or not,” the blond curtly says. “I think it’s a good idea. We need to discourage the Shira army. Mentally wears them down and gives us another edge in battles.” He smirks. “And their supplies will be nothing less than perfect, so we get more equipment.”

“And we get more supplies!” Lev cheers. Hinata bounces up and down, hopefully looking at Keiji. “Akaashi-san, can I go with you? I can jump really high, you’ve seen me!”

“How does that help with stealing cannons?” Tsukishima smirks. Even to someone meeting the two for the first time, it’s evident how the tall male and energetic male butt heads, yet still partake in each other’s company. Keiji wouldn’t be surprised if their tension results to romantic feelings in the future. But that’s a whole other story. Right now, they have a war to discuss.

Hinata glowers over his shoulder at Tsukishima, sticking out his tongue. Keiji pats Hinata’s shoulder. “You’re quite sneaky when you’re quiet. You’ll be good to have on board.”

He proudly sticks out his chest. “See Tsukishima? Akaashi-san said I can help!”

“Good for you,” Tsukishima replies in a bored tone, before giving a curious glance to Keiji. “If you need help, Akaashi-san, I can be of assistance,” he begrudgingly says, trying to act as though he’s not interested.

Keiji fights back an amused chuckle. “That’d be nice, Tsukishima. Thank you.”

“Hey, hey!” Bokuto pouts. “You’re including me, right Akaaaashii?”

Keiji shares an entertained look with Kuroo. “Of course, Bokuto-san. Where would we be without our main source of manpower?”

Bokuto stands taller and flexes an arm. “I’m probably the stronger solider in the army!” he boasts. Kuroo hits Bokuto’s back. “No question about it, dude.”

Lev waves his hand enthusiastically and before he opens his mouth, Keiji says, “You all can if you’re quiet and don’t say a word. We can start as soon as I get the exact location of the closest Shira camp.”

Kuroo takes out a slightly water-damaged piece of paper. “Here you go,” he says, handing the paper to Keiji. He raises his eyes, but accepts the paper. “Where did you get this?” he asks, smoothing out the note. It’s a list of important tidbits with the address of the camp scrawled at the bottom.

“We may have a little spy named Kinoshita Hisashi,” Kuroo sing-songs proudly.

“The tailor?” Keiji checks.

Kuroo hums. “Just recently he started working part-time at the Shira camp. ‘Course, I gave General Ukai the idea and we worked on forgery papers so it looks like Kino is a Shira citizen. Copy the address ‘cause I need to give the report to General Ukai ASAP. He’s coming to town in a few days.”

Keiji nods, impressed. “Let’s plan for tomorrow night.” He turns to the bartender. “Another round, please. We won’t be leaving anytime soon.” Looking over his shoulder, he says, “Well? Everyone, sit down at a table. We have planning to do.”

They all cheer and even though war is a gruesome, bloody act, Keiji is grateful to have meet many friends because of it.

~~

Weeks later, Chikara doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary as he sits in his bed, a scattering of candles giving away light. He scribbles away edits to his script, biting his lip as he debates whether the main character should enter three lines ahead of the original entrance-

A sound outside his window grabs his attention. Curiously, he slips out of bed and pads over to the window.

Chikara immediately opens the window and pops his head out. “Keiji?” he gapes. What on earth is Akaashi doing here?

He merely gives a small wave, his other hand holding small pebbles. “Hello, Chikara.”

Biting his lips at Akaashi’s insouciance, Chikara prompts, “What are you doing?”

“Trying to get your attention. I see that it worked,” he replies.

Chikara tugs on his nightshirt, cotton fabric tickling his mid-thighs. “Are you planning to sneak into my room?” he asks teasingly. “Isn’t that improper for an unmarried couple to be alone in one’s quarters?”

Akaashi scoffs playfully, rolling his eyes. “Can you get dressed?” he responds. “I have something I’d like to show you.”

Chikara glances at his clock. “It’s after midnight,” he points out.

“I’m aware,” Akaashi smoothly says.

“And you decided right now, of all the hours in the day, is when you wanted to show me something.”

“I’ll tell you my reasoning for timing once we arrive, my love,” Akaashi promises.

Chikara grins, heart pounding at the pet-name. “Then I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

“Then I’ll be waiting.”

Chikara closes his window. He quickly gets dressed, nearly falling down in the rush to tug on his pants. Once clothed, he opens his window, stepping out of his room and onto a branch.

“What are you doing?” Akaashi hisses as Chikara makes his way down. “You could get hurt!”

“I’ve climbed down this tree countless times,” Chikara says, brushing off his concerns. “And the front door may have disturbed my parents. I’m assuming you don’t want them to know you’re taking their innocent, pure-”

Akaashi snorts.

“-Only son out into the streets at night.”

“This is by far the safest part of Karasuno,” Akaashi says.

Chikara laughs, jumping off the last branch and wipes his hands on his pants before holding one out to Akaashi. “Lead the way.”

Akaashi laces their hands together and they’re on their way. The sky, smooth and glossy as silk, shimmers with stars. They walk under the moon’s light, making soft conversation. Many times Chikara asks where Akaashi is taking him, and just as many times, he only receives a soft smile in answer.

They walk through the town square, a few late-goers still drinking and singing merrily. “It’s not too far,” Akaashi promises. “Oh look, it’s the Pleiades stars.”

He elucidates different constellations, having learned them all from Kuroo. Chikara happily listens, enjoying the mythology tales behind each constellation. Akaashi’s explaining Altair and Vega’s love story when they pause in front of a modest home. Eggshell paint covering the house, windowsills with freshly bloomed flowers, and beautiful cherry blossom trees all add to the beauty of the house. It may be a quarter of Chikara’s current home, but he doesn’t care- it’s still magnificent.

Akaashi examines Chikara’s reaction, hiding his nerves, pokerfaced. “What do you think?”

“It’s gorgeous,” he answers. “A lovely home to someone in the future.”

“Do you want to see the inside?” Akaashi says, letting go of Chikara’s hand to open the front gate.

“Isn’t that trespassing?” Chikara says, raising an eyebrow.

“Trust me, the sellers are okay with it,” Akaashi assures him.

Chikara steps aside Akaashi and enters the front yard. Cherry blossoms float from the trees, some petals landing on Chikara. He hums, smile quirking up on his lips, and strolls through the yard.

Akaashi goes up the steps to the front door. He pulls out a key and unlocks the door. “Want to see the inside?”

“How do you have a key?”

“I have my ways.” Akaashi beckons Chikara inside. The house is just as pretty on the inside. Furniture is already set up and pretty curtains curl to the side, moonlight cascading across the polished wooden floor.

“I know it’s nowhere near the stature of your home,” Akaashi says, fiddling with his fingers. “But I hope you like it.”

Chikara suspects Akaashi’s reasoning for bringing him here. “Size doesn’t matter in a home,” he reminds. “The only important aspect is the family inside.”

Akaashi’s shoulders relax, though he continues to fiddle with his fingers. He gives Chikara a quick tour of the house, both providing commentary on the rooms and appearance. Chikara lets Akaashi lead him along, eager to see all of what the taller man has planned.

They wind up in the backyard. The ground is covered in cherry blossoms and Chikara stares in awe. With scenery so delicate, he’s hesitant to take a step. Right near a tree but still within the light of the moon, a knit blanket is neatly laid out. A wicker basket sits upon it, waiting to be opened.

“You really do have your ways,” Chikara comments, squeezing Akaashi’s hand as they sit beside each other on the blanket. Akaashi only hums in response, opening the basket and setting out the food prepared. Chikara lights up when he sees sea pineapple.

He enjoys the soft chatter between them as they eat. Their positions switch from sitting to laying down with their arms brushing and hands linked, staring up at the stars. Chikara quizzes himself on the constellations Akaashi told him earlier, the latter either praising when he got one right or gently correcting him.

Silence between them doesn’t make Chikara uncomfortable, but after moments of a pause, he turns on his side and rests his chin on his hand, mentally chuckling at the act since his fingers are still looped with Akaashi’s.

Akaashi peers over, waiting for him to speak.

“I have a feeling why you brought me here,” Chikara reveals.

“And what might that be?” Akaashi responds, amused. Neither of them are one to beat around the bushes.

Chikara grins. “If you’re the one already set to do this, then you can be the one to say it.”

Akaashi gives one of his rare smiles, except it’s not rare to Chikara. He hopes it never will be.

The soldier sits up, rubbing his thumb over Chikara’s hand. “Chikara,” he starts, staring down at their enjoined fingers. “I’m not rich. I came from nothing, hid on the streets with friends while we scrapped together jobs that barely paid enough money to feed us. I only could attend college because they gave me a scholarship.” He glances to the side. “I’m not like you. I can’t guarantee the comforts you’ve lived with your whole life. The only thing I can promise you is my eternal love.”

“And that will be enough,” Chikara murmurs, sitting up and holding their hands close to his chest, pressing a kiss to Akaashi’s hand. “I don’t care about money. I only care about you.”

Akaashi blinks furiously and Chikara realizes he’s tearing up. Laughing silently, he brushes his thumb under those gorgeous eyes he fell in love with exactly a month ago.

“You brought me out here tonight because it’s been exactly a month since we met,” Chikara softly says.

“I am a romantic at heart.”

“You’re a charming sap,” Chikara fondly says.

Akaashi’s gaze turns to the house. “I’ve been saving money and I want to place a settlement down. That is- if you’d like to move in with me.” Before Chikara can answer, Akaashi reaches into his pocket. “But before that, I’d have to ask for your hand in marriage.” Teal eyes twinkling, he adds, “Because it’d be improper otherwise.”

Chikara laughs. “Have you asked my parents for their blessing?”

Akaashi appears nervous for the first time this entire evening. “I figured I should ask you first before I approached your parents.”

“They’ll say yes,” Chikara replies. “But even if they didn’t, I’d run away with you and elope.” He holds out his hand. “Now will you ask me officially so I can wear the ring?”

Akaashi lets out a chuckle and opens the box. “Chikara, will you do me the honor of becoming my husband?”

Chikara’s face hurts from smiling too big. “Please take care of me, Keiji.”

A silver band slides onto his ring finger. He examines the ring, eyes fixating on the engravings. A delicate crow and owl nuzzle together on a cherry blossom tree. The birds’ eyes are glittering gems reflecting his and Akaashi’s own eye colors.

“Keiji, it’s beautiful-”

Akaashi lets out a silent sigh. “What, you didn’t think I’d like it?”

“I was still nervous regardless.”

Chikara brushes aside Akaashi’s bangs. “I can’t wait to be your husband.”

“I’m counting down the days,” Akaashi replies.

Chikara plays with the ring, still looking into Akaashi’s eyes. “I don’t want our first kiss to be in front of people,” he admits.

“Oh?” Akaashi sounds amused. “You mean, kiss before marriage? Isn’t that improper?”

“You’re the one that sneaked me out. After dark, no less!” Chikara cries, playfully poking Akaashi, who laughs.

“By the way, I’m helping pay for the house.”

Akaashi begins to protest and stops when he sees Chikara’s serious look. “I mean it. And it won’t be my parents’ money. I have a job of my own and if this is our future home, then I want to help. Okay?”

“Only fair, I suppose,” Akaashi says, bumping their noses together. “Although I have it covered-”

“Don’t even think of it,” Chikara says, poking Akaashi’s forehead.

They giggle at their own silliness, taking quite a while to kiss one another. Even then, they keep pulling apart because they can’t help but laugh.

Chikara hopes the rest of his life will be like that. It’ll be more than enough.

 

Chapter Text

Keiji fiddles with his fingers, resisting the urge to look around the room. Across the table, Sawamura Daichi and Sugawara Koushi, are poised and calm. He tries to act the same. It doesn’t help that Ennoshita is invited out by Kuroo for supper, so he’s going alone. Probably for the best. He can’t have his hopefully future in-laws thinking he constantly needs his spouse for difficult moments.

He focuses on the meal presented before him and thanks the servant for the food. Daichi and Suga do the same once they’re given their plates and the room is silent sans the servant’s footsteps as she leaves.

The door closes and Suga picks up his glass of wine. “Akaashi-san,” he begins, staring into his glass as he swirls the dark red liquid. “Daichi and I are very observant people.”

“Needless to say, we’ve already seen the ring,” Daichi finishes, placing his forearms on the edge of the table. “Not up close, though it looks nice. Good job. Anyway, we already know of your and Chikara’s plans to marry.”

Keiji stops himself from biting his lip. Before he opens his mouth, Suga continues.

“We’re not mad you asked him first,” he assures Keiji. “I did the same thing before I approached Daichi’s parents and asked for their blessing. You wanted for Chi to be the first person to know of your wishes for marriage. In a sense, it’s far more romantic.” He takes a sip of wine. “But now comes for the hard part. The parents’ blessing? Good luck. It won’t be easy. Our son is too good for anyone to marry, so finding someone even close to what he deserves is a challenge.”

Daichi leans back against his chair, eyeing Keiji. “Give us one reason we should allow you to marry our son,” he simply says, pinning him under his dark, brown eyes.

“You don’t have a lot of money,” Suga points out, glass still in hand. He tilts his head. “Will our Chikara benefit from your marriage?”

“From what I’ve heard, never of you had much money as well starting out,” Keiji says, trying not to internally panic. He knows Ennoshita would still marry him, regardless of his parents’ opinion. But… what if Ennoshita won’t marry depending on the outcome of this meeting? What if he changes his mind and wants nothing to do with Keiji? What if his parents convince him to look for a different husband?

Keiji fidgets with the edges of his napkin, keeping eye contact with the couple across from him. “Many benefits from arranged marriages are for the family as a whole,” he says. “But does the couple themselves personally reap any of the benefits? It’s more for social status, to keep up appearances in society. Anyway, our marriage clearly isn’t arranged and Chikara already has his family name and status with him no matter who he chooses to marry.”

Suga sees through this answer like it’s drifting firewood smoke. “Chikara may not lose any benefits, but does he gain any by staying with you? There are plenty of suitors who’d offer him the world.”

“Chikara may not gain societal benefits,” Keiji admits, trying to ignore the ache in his heart at this true statement. “You’re true in that I’m not wealthy, but I intend to climb the ranks and work for Karasuno’s government.”

“Ah, politics,” Daichi sighs, resting his cheek against the palm of his hand. “Our other point.” He leans forward, elbow propped on either side of his plate. “Koushi and I have received countless letters asking for Chikara’s hand in marriage. I’ve lost track of how many suitors haven’t even met our son before writing such a request. Those men only wanted Chikara for political support. They cared nothing for his heart, only viewed him as a tool.” Daichi’s eyes darken. Keiji can only imagine what harm Ennoshita’s parents did to those men politically. “You can understand why we’d be angered?”

“I’m a modest man and I’ll freely admit we’re powerful,” Suga adds, setting down his wine glass. “We have heavy influence over Karasuno’s government. I was the strategist until I was wounded. Daichi and I still remain in Congress and with our past, we’re a force to be reckoned with, not even mentioning our allies. You’re a smart man, you’d have realized this fact.”

“What if the only reason you wish to marry Chikara is so you have a direct connection into Congress, into the paths of many powerful, influential people?” Daichi enquires.

Keiji sets down his napkin onto the table. “I’d be a fool to say that never crossed my mind. But… I could’ve easily found a connection without getting married. I know people myself, people that will viewed as honorable and, dare I say, powerful after the war. Have you heard of Bokuto-san? He’s practically my brother. I’m aware he’ll support me in every notion I place forward. Bokuto-san’s influence will be very beneficial.”

Daichi raises his eyebrows at the mention of Bokuto; even people living under rocks would’ve heard how strong the owl-like man is in battle.

“My point is,” Keiji concludes, pushing his chair backwards, still maintaining eye contact with the men across the table. “I’m a smart man. If I wanted your connections, I would’ve gotten it in a surefire way. Even if I’m your son’s husband, there is no promise you’ll back me up on my agendas and propositions.”

He stands and paces in front of the dining room fireplace. Ignoring the eyes piercing into his back, he stares up at the family portrait above the mantel. Unlike the one in the parlor one, Ennoshita is a young boy, perhaps eight or nine. A bright, innocent smile spread across his face, he stands in front of his parents. Daichi and Suga each have a hand on their son’s shoulder. The couple look noticeably younger, less stressed. Keiji’s heart melts at the painting.

He turns around, hands behind his back. “I love your son with all my heart and I wish to wed him. He’s the grandest person I’ve ever met and he inspires me to become a better person with every thought of him. I don’t care what happens in Congress, as long as I can head home and have a life with Chikara. Nothing else matters.”

Suga and Daichi are silent for a moment. Just when he’s about to speak again, they both stand. The steps they take towards him are painstakingly slow in his mind, when in reality they’re normal.

Keiji’s heart pounds loudly inside his chest. He’s never been so nervous in his entire life, sans his times on the streets of Fukurodani. But that was more fear and- he mentally shakes his head to concentrate back on subject at hand.

Suga and Daichi both offer a hand. Keiji blinks as realization sets in. He lets out a sigh of relief, shoulder relaxing, and quickly shakes both their hands.

“If you hurt our little boy, there will be hell to pay,” Suga says through a smile. Daichi nods, squeezing Keiji’s hand a tad too tightly. “He’s our angel and if you ever make him cry for any reason besides happiness, be prepared to pay the consequences.” He smiles alongside his husband. “Welcome to the family.”

~~

Kenji smooths his jacket. Brand new, made of heavy but easily moveable black fabric with buttons so shiny they’re practically orange. Already he feels more like a solider.

Moniwa and Kamasaki, his parents, were very upset when they heard news of him entering the military, and furious when he told them he burned the medical form. After an evening full of yelling and sobbing, they understood his reasoning, though they’re still not happy. What parents would be? Their child going off into violence, potentially dying? It’s not a happy situation.

Pushing these thoughts out of his head, Kenji checks his bunk, making sure everything is neat so when they do inspections, he’s not called out and forced to do that evening’s dishes as punishment.

He passes one of his fellow troop soldiers and childhood friends, Aone, who greets him with a slight nod, a silent way of telling Kenji hello as well as ‘don’t be a dumbass’ today. Kenji cheekily smiles, causing a slight drop in Aone’s eyebrow (bones), signaling his exasperation.

“I’m just being myself!” Kenji yells over his shoulder as he leaves their tent to discover what shenginans are occurring around camp today.

He passes a bickering Tsukishima and Hinata, their two respective best friends, Yamaguchi and Kageyama, providing occasional commentary as they stand to the side.

“Awkward romantic and sexual tension much?” Kenji says under his breath (read: quite loud enough for them to hear) as he passes the four. Ah, how he loves riling people up.

“Eh? What’s that supposed to mean?” Hinata cries out.

“Nothing at all,” Kenji smoothly replies, grinning even wider when he sees Tsukishima’s glare. “Thought I saw a lover’s spat is all.”

Kageyama’s confused look and Yamaguchi’s screech is enough to satisfy his daily riling. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll stop there.

“Call me when you get your wedding invitations,” he calls over his shoulder and judging by Hinata and Tsukishima’s sounds, Kageyama and Yamaguchi have to hold them back from running after him.

Almost immediately after, Bokuto surprises him by slinging an arm around his shoulders. “Futakuchi!” he cheers. “I was hoping to see you!”

“Hello, Bokuto,” Kenji says, used to the energetic soldier’s antics. “Need something?”

“Have you seen Ackaashii?” Bokuto asks, walking in step with Kenji. Fellow soldiers wander around them, polishing weapons and running errands for higher-ups.

“Not since breakfast,” he responses. “He really eats a lot of onigiri.” Kenji chuckles and glances back to Bokuto. “Why? Do you need Akaashi for something?”

“Nah,” Bokuto says, smiling like there’s nothing possibly wrong with the world. As if they’re not in a military camp, preparing for war. “Just wondering where my favorite guy is!”

“Wow,” Kenji deadpans. He places his hands on his stomach, leaning back as if punched in the gut. “I can’t hide the truth,” he whispers overdramatically. No matter where he is, he’ll always be ready for some teasing; it’s a good way to lighten moods… if done at the appropriate time. “You’ve deeply wounded me. My heart is breaking, I can’t carry on. Tell my parents I love them-”

“Ah!” Guilt covers Bokuto’s face. He really does wear his heart on his sleeve. Kenji almost feels bad for laying his act on so thick. “I didn’t mean it like that!” he insists, waving his hands. “I’ve just known him since we were kids! Akaaasshi is practically my little brother-”

Kenji bursts out laughing. “I know,” he assures Bokuto, swaying his hand. “It’s the same with my friends, I understand. Didn’t know you were so easy to guilt,” he says, amused.

“Hey!” Bokuto pouts, messing up Kenji’s hair, who squawks in indignation.

Kenji pats down his locks. “Not my hair!” he scoffs. “You of all people should understand.” Bokuto uses so much oil for his owl hair, Kenji wonders where he gets it all.

Bokuto sticks his tongue out at him, pulling the skin under his eye down. “Bleh!”

Kenji shakes his head, laughter bubbling out of his mouth. He’s only been at camp for a few days yet he’s already made friends such as Bokuto and Kuroo. While he’s known the latter since childhood due to Ennoshita, Kenji has gotten closer to him. Going through military drills and complaining about fellow soldiers overcooking food is a form of bonding, Kenji realizes.

Not even a minute later does the general make his way through the camp. Kenji immediately notes the poised as ever Akaashi. He leans close to Bokuto, whispering, “What’s Akaashi doing with General Ukai?”

Bokuto’s eyes glitter with pride. “He’s been selected!”

“Selected?” Kenji repeats. “Selected for what?” Did Akaashi get promoted to another troop?

Kuroo leans his shoulder on Kenji’s shoulder. “I think our precious ‘Kaashi has been chosen to be our new strategist.”

Realization sets in after Kenji gets a closer look at Akaashi’s uniform; clear from his straight posture, the only thing straight about him, he wears a special badge, signaling his new position. Sunshine reflecting off the metal, Kenji recalls noticing the badge from all the countless dinners Kenji’s family shared with Ennoshita and his parents, Suga always wearing it.

“You’re right,” he says under his breath. “Akaashi really got chosen to be the new stragetist.”

Bokuto sniffles. “He’s really becoming a hero,” he says, only half-joking. Kenji sees his serious expression.

“One day, he’ll really blow us all away,” Kuroo responds in the same tone. “One day…”

~~

Chikara paces back and forth in his tea parlor room. He fiddles with his suit, his boutineer, anything to distract him. Raising his hands to mess with his hair, he halts his hands when he receives a look from Kuroo. Chikara remembers the work his best man did with rose oil to style his hair and offers a sheepish smile.

“You’re quite nervous,” Kuroo notes, leaning against the walls with his hands stuck in his pockets.

“I’m marrying Keiji, of course I’m nervous!” Chikara replies, biting his lip. “What if he changes his mind?”

“He won’t.”

“How do you know?” Chikara demands, hands on his hips. “He can do so much better than me-”

“Chikara. Listen to me.” Kuroo kicks himself off the wall and places his hands on his shoulders. “He’s wild about you. One time he forgot the password to enter camp because he was too busy thinking about you. Ask Futakuchi and Hinata, they were there with him.”

He gapes before bursting into a fit of laughter. “Keiji did not.”

“Oh, he did,” Kuroo replies, smirking. “Akaashi appears suave when in reality, he’s a big dork. He writes about you in his journal all the time. Had to get another one to keep you separate from his work.”

Chikara doesn’t realize he’s guided into a chair until he’s facing Kuroo sitting across from him. “And you can’t be doubting his love for you if you want this~” he sing-songs, reaching into his jacket to reveal an envelope addressed to Chikara, signed in Akaashi’s beautiful, loopy handwriting.

Chikara reaches for it and Kuroo holds it high, out of grasp. “Well?”

“Fine, he won’t change his mind!”

“And?”

“And I know he loves me as much as I love him!”

Content with that answer, Kuroo relents and hands him the letter. Chikara runs his fingers over the envelope, the weight of the letter causing his lips to quirk up, and he runs a finger under the flap.

Uncurling the letter, he instantly relaxes with just the quick peek of Akaashi’s words.

 

     My dear Chikara,

          Considering the seriousness of our wedding and, thus marriage, I knew you would be suffering from nerves. I won’t lie and say I’m not nervous. I am nervous, but I’m also excited to begin this new life with you. You don’t know how happy I was, and still am, that you chose to take my name. It served as another reminder that we’re truly getting married. You’ll be my angel forever and I can’t help but smile at the images of our future; matching rings, lazy mornings spent cuddling, picnics in our yard under the falling cherry blossoms, walking around town listening to your excited discussion of your latest play… I can’t wait to have a life with you.

          As I write this, the clock informs me it’s only a few hours before we’re legally wed. My thoughts are jumbled up and you’re the only one to blame, yet I do not mind one bit. I find it very difficult to focus on other things when you grace my thoughts instead. It’s a happy problem and I hope never to find the solution.

          I can write pages more, my dear, but Bokuto-san just barged in my room, reminding me to prepare. I cannot look anything less than perfect for our special day, am I wrong?

          Please do not ever forget how much love flows in my body for you. I love you more than my words can ever express- but I shall continue to try, because you deserve so much.

                                        See you soon, darling,

                                                 Your Keiji

Post script: I would love to have another member with us in the future. I think you shall be the loveliest and most caring father.

 

Chikara reads the letter countless times and with each reread, he beams brighter than the sun.

Suga pokes his head through the parlor doorway. “Ready, love?” he softly says to Chikara.

He nods. I’m ready to marry the love of my life.

Kuroo offers his arm to Chikara. “Let’s go, shall we?”

Gladly taking it, he slowly lets out breath from his parted lips. “Let’s go.” Time for the rest of my life with the love of my life.

~~

Shigeru isn’t surprised to be named as one of Ennoshita’s groomsmen, but nevertheless honored. He proudly stands behind the Best Man, Kuroo, alongside the other groomsmen: Futakuchi, Kinoshita, and Narita, an apprentice/helper to the main Miyagi doctor. Shigeru doesn’t recognize most of Akaashi’s groomsmen and groomswoman, aside from Bokuto, but apparently, they’re all from the fallen territory of Fukurodani.

He can’t see Ennoshita’s face, but is able to spot Akaashi’s. Normally appearing, apathetic, his face expresses pure joy and adoration for the man beside standing by his side. No one can mistake their love. 

No one attending the ceremony leaves with a dry eye, especially after witnessing heartfelt vows and the infatuated looks the happy couple gave each other throughout the whole ceremony. The instant they meet each other at the altar to their perhaps too long kiss to walking down the aisle, their hands are linked, bodies pressed together as if they’re missing pieces to each other.

Shigeru wishes he could find his missing piece, his person…                                                                                                    

The reception swirls past. He hardly notices, only breaking out of his thoughts when a friend requests a dance or he’s thanking the staff for another drink or his next supper course.

The evening passes so fast yet so slow. With each second that passes, Shigeru’s smile becomes more forced. Every gaze towards the happy couple, every shared smile and giggle, beaming faces of love and adoration…

“Hey.” Shigeru jumps at Futakuchi’s shaking of his shoulder. “You okay?”

He forces another smile, face hurting from how painful it is, physically and mentally. He nods. “Trying not to drink a lot,” he fibs.

Futakuchi’s eyebrows clench together. “I don’t think alcohol has anything to do with-”

Glasses clink with silverware, Suga announcing the beginning of speeches and toasts. Grateful, Shigeru gives another fake smile and rushes off under the guise of claiming another glass of champagne. Futakuchi’s eyes pierce his back for seconds but feeling like years. Eventually, Futakuchi heads off to find Narita and wait beside him for his turn to speak.

Ennoshita’s parents, Kuroo, and Bokuto are the first four to speak. Luckily, no one mentions Akaashi’s parents- Shigeru knows it’s silently spoke what happened to them. Groomsmen from each side, along with Akaashi’s groomswoman, Shirofuku Yukie, make speeches, all varying in length. During all these speeches, watery eyes shines and hoarse voices are common, sore from yelling well wishes and cheering their happiness at the lovely couple.

Komi Haruki finishes his toast when Shigeru notices the majority of the crowd’s gaze upon him. “Yahaba-san? Want to finish us off?” He has to. If he didn’t, he’d be the only member of the wedding party to stay silent. Rumors only grow, after all. He’s not feeding into any of them.

Another smile, another internal piece of him cracking into a million pieces. “You know what they say,” he comments, making his way to the side of the sweetheart table. “Save the best for last,” he finishes as a waiter tops off his glass. Polite chuckles spread across the room.

Shigeru focuses on the couple. Akaashi has his arm wrapped around Ennoshita’s waist, the latter pressing snugly against the soldier. He lays his head on Akaashi’s shoulder. Neither of their eyes leave their new spouse’s face, expressions of adulation on show for everyone. They didn’t care, and why should they? The only thing to care about is their new husband, the love of their life folding into their side, goofy smiles dancing across their lips. Nothing else should matter as long as they have their lover. Nothing else matters.

Shigeru decides to start his speech off lightheartedly. “I think it’s good I’m on given name-basis with Chikara because otherwise, I’d say Akaashi and both Chikara and Akaashi-san would turn around.” The aforementioned couple burst out in snorts as the crowd cackles.

Shigeru has a tiny real smile before it slides off, remembering the reason for this speech. Immediately clearing his throat, he puts up his smiling façade once more. “I’m so happy for you two. Especially in this day and age, in a time of war and destruction, finding something as precious and delicate as love, you must hold onto it and never let it go. I hope for all your years, you’ll find happiness in each moment and be satisfied for all your days.” He lifts his glass. “To the lovebirds, flying forever together.” The crowd echoes him and he eagerly gulps down his champagne.

“Thought you were trying not to drink,” Futakuchi mutters into his ear.

“Trying not to drink a lot,” Shigeru corrects, twirling the stem of his glass. “I’m fine.”

“I didn’t say you weren’t.”

“Verbally, but your eyes said everything.”

Futakuchi sighs. “You can’t blame me for being concerned. You’re acting weird.”

Shigeru sets down his glass. “I’ll tell you later. I just need time by myself.”

“Are you leaving?” Futakuchi asks, surprised. “They’re about to serve the cake.”

Normally he’d spend the whole evening partying, dancing until his feet were sore for the rest of the week, but he’s suffocating.

“I don’t feel well,” Shigeru answers; a safe answer, though the implications are physical discomfort rather than his mental one. “Please don’t tell anyone, though. I don’t want to spoil the fun.”

Futakuchi rubs his back. “I don’t have to return to camp until tomorrow evening,” he informs him. “I’ll stop by and visit. You can’t persuade me otherwise.” Normally Futakuchi would sneak in quips, but he’s quite observant. He senses something is wrong and knows what would be crossing the line. So he stays silent and relies on his comforting side.

Shigeru nods. “Thanks, Kenji.” Bidding him goodnight, he slips out of the Sawamura-Sugawara household right as the cake slicing is announced. He welcomes the fresh air in his lungs.

He trudges home slowly, kicking rocks and staring at the sparkling sky. It’s too pretty for his current emotions.

Shigeru truly is happy for Chikara. He met the love of his life and got married. He couldn’t be gladder. But with his friend’s marriage and the constant reminder of his rejection to join the military, Shigeru’s world continues to change. And his world loves to rub it in that he can’t seem to do anything to help those around him.

He desperately wants someone to hold at night, whisper sweet nothings to, someone to fight for. But alas, his world keeps changing and all his hopes and dreams follow the example.

Sooner than he expects, he stands in front of his family’s mansion. Staring up at his home, he decides not to enter and instead goes around back, to their stables. The horse neigh at him in greeting.

“What are you guys doing still up?” he teases, not realizing how tense his shoulders were until he relaxes at seeing the animals. He adores his horses and frequently visits them.

“Come on, Tater Trot,” Shigeru softly says, smiling the first true smile this whole evening. The dot-speckled white horse nudges his snout against his hand. He chuckles and quickly saddles up Tater Trot.

“Let’s go forget the world for a while,” Shigeru whispers and Tater Trot agrees because he throws back his head with a whiny and runs.

Chapter Text

Shirabu Kenjirou is quite tired.

Ever since he was a little boy, he dreamed of working for the Shiratorizawa government. While he didn’t neccesarily think of the military, he wasn’t opposed to the idea. As long as he was able to work side by side with Ushijima Wakatoshi, that’s all that mattered.

Not long after Kenjirou graduated college, former strategist Semi Eita injured his leg during a battle and is forced to step down. With the courage only youth brings, he writes a letter to Commander Washijō for the recently opened up position, asking for a meeting. The commander seems fond of him and just a few days later, Kenjirou receives a letter offering the job. He eagerly accepts it, dreaming of helping Shiratorizawa reclaim all their glory.

Then the war with Karasuno increasingly got worse. No matter how good his strategies proved, Karasuno either was a step ahead or eventually got back on its feet, stronger than ever. What’s worse is Kenjirou’s wavering loyalty to his country.

Commander Washijō is a tyrant, carelessly tossing aside soldiers to make sure his “perfect team” wins the field, and gets angry when Karasuno’s methods, opposite of Shiratorizawa’s in every way, shape, and form, ends up victorious. Kenjirou first believes the rumors concerning Commander Washijō are greatly exaggerated or downright false.

Sadly, his faith dithers when one day Semi Eita arrives with a delivery. The older male, having chosen to help the efforts through other means such as speaking at the Senate but mostly working as the army’s tailor for uniforms, carries packages containing said new uniforms.

Kenjirou stands to greet him, having never met the man before, when he can’t help but notice the lack of a limp in Semi’s leg. When the former strategist hands a package to him, he gives a quick bow and introduces himself.

“Nice to meet you,” Semi replies, switching to a tone Kenjirou can only identify as bitter. “I think you’re what Washijō always wanted.”

Always wanted? Kenjirou repeats in his mind. “I’m terribly sorry to hear about your cut military career, Semi-san. I hope your leg has healed.”

Semi lets out a small laugh glances across the room, making sure the commander is far away. “I never got injured. Washijō didn’t want to make himself look bad and lied to get rid of me.”

Kenjirou’s instincts were correct, though with one question answered, another arose. “Why did he want to get rid of you?”

“I’m not the type of strategist he wanted,” Semi says, bitterness escaping from his tone to his face. “I wasn’t reliable. I changed orders different from the ones he ordered a lot, because I knew they would work. One time he called me a crow, because I remind him of Karasuno and everything Washijō is against.”

He sets his hands behind his back. “I’m just saying, be careful around him. If you make too many wild choices, he’ll chuck you away. He doesn’t care about you unless you follow his guidelines and his methods. As long as you’re valuable, you’re safe.” On that note, Semi offers a half-hearted smile and exits the room.

Kenjirou doesn’t know what to think anymore and starts erring on the side of caution. He quickly picks up on all the signs of Commander Washijō, believing Semi’s words more with each passing day. Whenever the elder gets cranky at the most bothersome issue, Kenjirou fears it’ll be his last day working. Yet somehow, he’s not afraid at all.

Each day proves another battle, aside from the ones with Karasuno. After prodding each fellow member of Commander Washijō’s chosen team, he’s understood every person to feel the same way. By now, Ushijima and Tendou Satori, two of the best generals and somewhat close friends of Kenjirou, have left the army, making it more unbearable, and the commander gets worse with each day.

Kenjirou is tired. He’s tired of dealing with a commander who doesn’t respect others or him at times, constantly getting angry when Karasuno figures out a solution to their latest attack, even though Kenjirou suggested countless other ways to avoid this problem, countless other ways that were all ignored. If Commander Washijō is like this if- the only time he’s thought if instead of when- they win, he hopes he retires and doesn’t try to run for president. Dealing with him on the Senate will be another nightmare- even though his childhood dreams is constantly, reckoned with, the desire to help lead a nation, to be part of the backbone, still thrives inside him, and he won’t let any old tyrant get in the way of that.

One night, it’s all too much. Before he says something that he will regrets, such as his resignation (though he can’t lie and says he’d regret it a hundred percent), he storms out of a meeting. No one follows him, not even his best friend Taichi, and he’s silently grateful.

Minutes later, he stands in front of the chosen team’s stables and realization hits in that he walked halfway across camp, normally a quarter of an hour by normal walking speed. He shakes his head and goes to his designated stall.

“Horse-chan?” he calls out and hears movement in the stall. A moment later, Horse-chan sticks her head above the door. He’s happy she’s already awake and goes to preparing her for riding. Horse-chan may be a silly name, but it’s what he named his first horse. Kenjirou can’t bear to give another name to any horse of his own, Horse-chan is too special to him.

He’s not sure where he wants to go, as long as he’s far away from camp. Letting Horse-chan guide him, they end up on the outskirts of the town they’re settled beside. He slows Horse-chan to a trot and scans the area around him. Usually he’s too busy writing away indoors to notice the beauty of nature surrounding him. In this moment, he spots the gorgeous cherry blossoms, eyeing how pretty the branches and petals are when they wave in the wind. So delicate and fragile, he muses. Yet how come they seem strong? Resilient.

And when did he start getting philosophical about nature?

Kenjirou slowly hops off Horse-chan, patting her side and tying the reins tightly to a low hanging branch. Even though he knows his horse would never run off, he takes the precaution in case she gets spooked.

The moon and stars reflect off a glittering lake. Not too many people know of this area since the lake is hooded by trees, but Kenjirou loves to occupy it whenever he needs a break. He unfortunately can’t come as often as he likes. Glad to have arrived at his secret hiding spot so he can unleash his thoughts as he pleases, he sits down a few meters away from the water. Horse-chan has enough room to curl up in a ball, dozing off to sleep. He smiles at the slight snores she emits.

Kenjirou enjoys the peace of mind he gets whenever he visits the lake. The calming outdoors full of distant animal sounds and soothing energy relaxes him;  it’s a great change of pace from the busy and stressful military work. He loses himself in his thoughts, delving on personal matters untouched during the furious, busy times of the war, when remote horse gallops sound.

He quickly hurries over to Horse-chan, reaching for the side satchel on her saddle. Pulling out his gun and checking to make sure it’s loaded, he tucks it partially inside his waistband and tugs back on his jacket to cover the handle. Kenjirou tries to tell himself it’s just another Shiratorizawa soldier, maybe Taichi to check on him; he doesn’t listen to himself because he’s never told a soul about the lake and not even his best friend knows to visit.

A dashing- oh how Kenjirou cringes at the use of that word, but it’s only fitting- young man with a head of puffy hair gently pulls on his horse’s reins. They stare at each other for a long moment and Kenjirou is grateful he’s not wearing his purple uniform jacket because he’s certain this is a Karasuno man.

“Fancy seeing someone out so late,” the male comments. He makes no move to get off his horse, even though his cantering has ceased.

“Likewise,” Kenjirou answers, not relaxing. He studies the man in front of him, trying to match his appearance with descriptions he’s heard. Nothing matches up and he huffs. That’s a slight problem.

“Am I bothering you?” The man finally steps down from his horse. He holds the reins, wrapping them around his hand a few times, and curiously eyes him.

“Not at all,” Kenjirou smoothly replies. “I’m just interested in your knowledge.”

“Knowledge of what?”

“The location of this lake,” he says, continuing to examine the stranger’s face. With his air and attitude, he somehow seems familiar. They’ve clearly never met, but where has Kenjirou heard of him?

“I have knowledge of a lot of things,” the male says. “Such as you’re the strategist for Shiratorizawa.” Before he even finishes, before  Kenjirou could even blink, they’re both pointing a gun at each other.

They stare at each other for such a long time it’s no longer intense, but rather awkward. There’s no sounds of gun shots and anguish, but only the trees shaking in the wind.

“If you’re going to shoot me, please get it over with,” Kenjirou requests. “I’m quite impatient.

“You’re the enemy my country is fighting against,” the male says, ignoring his previous words. “I should have every reason to shoot you. If they don’t have their prime strategist, they lose a valuable weapon.”

“I believe if you were going to shoot me, you would’ve done it long before now,” Kenjirou smoothly replies, almost wavering his position.

“I could say the same to you,” is the answer he receives. Under an unspoken agreement, they each lower their weapons.

“What are you doing here?” Kenjirou demands, though internally he’s questioning why he continues to speak to the enemy. If he was smart, he would’ve untied Horse-chan and run back to camp. He’s certain this thought is going through both of their minds, yet neither man makes a move to leave. “We made sure to set up camp a good distance away from Miyagi.”

“I needed fresh air.”

“There’s plenty in Miyagi, if I’m not mistaken.”

For the first time in their encounter, the male puts aside his mask and lets out a sigh. “I can’t be there right now. I’m too ashamed.” A pause. “Ashamed isn’t the right word, I suppose. My best friend is getting married, my other one finally achieves his dream of entering the military.”

“Why can’t you enter?” Kenjirou curiously asks.

The stranger hesitates, and he assumes telling the exact reason would give him clues to his identity. “The army’s been given reasons to deny my application.” Judging by his tone, he’s quite bitter.

“That’s a pity,” Kenjirou says, unsure of how to respond. Despite only knowing this man for a few moments, and excluding the fact he’s literally the enemy, he wants to comfort him. Ever since the issue with Commander Washijō has risen, he’s constantly questioned himself. This continues tonight, apparently, where he inquires every odd and unusual move. The old Kenjirou would’ve never let himself be drawn into a conversation with the enemy unless he captured him as a prisoner and interrogated him.

“What are you doing out here?” the man prods. “Shouldn’t you be working or sleeping?”

“I needed to take a break,” Kenjirou honestly says. He’s acutely aware they’re each holding back information, but considering how foolish their current conversation is, he won’t lie about it’s the only smart move either of them made.

Horse-chan stretches out her neck, staring at Kenjirou with wide eyes resulting in his melting heart.

“I should leave,” he says. “You should to.”

“Good luck,” the stranger replies. “I know you’ll need it.” Whether it’s for him personally or for Shiratorizawa in general, he’ll never know because the puffy-haired man swiftly hops on his horse.

"Wait a second," Kenjirou calls out before the man goes galloping into the sea of trees.

He looks over at him, holding up his reins. "Yes?"

"How did you know it was me? We'd never met before."

The male laughs. "Everyone knows about your hair, Shirabu-san." A teasing tone accompanies glittering, mischievous eyes. 

As he watches his- acquaintance? Former companion?- hurry off, Kenjirou doesn’t feel quite so tired anymore.

Chapter Text

Sawamura-Sugawara Ennoshita Chikara— Pardon, Akaashi Ennoshita Chikara— has been raised in a military life. Not to say he’s been raised to be a soldier, but rather the process and concept of the military. Both fathers climbed the ranks until they held top positions and while neither suffered great injuries until his father Koushi received such a wound they both retired from service, Chikara held out hope his future spouse would not want to engage in the military. Perhaps a bit hypocritical on his part, as he planned to join the ranks until his plans were dashed with the news of his biological family’s medical history, but it’s far easier to know his partner would be safe back home.

Of course, the universe discovered his hope and thrusted Akaashi Keiji upon him. The stoic strategist is the sweetest, most charming man he’s ever met, but if Chikara could change one thing about him it’s his military pursuits.

Alas, he cannot change anything, so he sits on the sidelines and supports his new husband in any way he can, no matter how much he internally protests. Sometimes he assists with planning dinners with valuable politicians his fathers deemed worthy of allies and used his parents’ connections to help Akaashi and his political life. Other times he and Yahaba help the war effort by speaking at Senate meetings, urging Senators to increase funds and raise more awareness for necessary supplies.

The public doesn’t want to be surrounded by dreary news of battle results and desolate news headlines. That’s where Chikara’s specialty comes into play (no pun intended). He deems his plays the main factor of Miyagi, and perhaps Karasuno, and its high morale. Even in dark times, one must keep up faith to continue the journey onwards.

No matter how fun running the theater may be, it doesn’t distract Chikara entirely. He still has plenty of time to worry over Akaashi, fret when any of his letters arrive late, even though that’s the messenger’s fault because his love isn’t anything if not punctual.

Chikara isn’t a fool. While Akaashi doesn’t hide anything per say in his letters, words are precisely chosen to limit worry and fear. Desperate conditions are masked as unfortunate bumps in the road, but Chikara sees right through it. Part of him is mad that Akaashi won’t directly state the truth, yet another part of him admires how dedicated he is to attempting cease of all worry.

He continues to do what he does best. He directs the latest plays, speaks at the Senate in hopes of helping the war efforts, and prays for his husband’s safe return.

And he waits.

~~

Chikara usually receives mail at work now, even personal letters. With Akaashi off at the war fronts, he spends more time at the theater, though his parents and Yahaba attempt to drag him away at proper hours. Quickly the messengers realized to stop by the theater instead of the longer walk to his home, saving time and energy.

He's reviewing his stage notes from the previous night’s performance when the messenger tapes on his office door. Chikara glances up and his shoulders sink in relief when he spots the familiar envelope and swoopy penmanship. Thanking the messenger with a folded yen, he all but rips apart the smooth envelope. Immediately he notices the writing slightly angled, implying Akaashi wrote quickly as if he couldn’t maintain all his thoughts in his head and had to speak out; well, write out in this case.

 

Dear My Beloved,

          Luckily for my heart, I’ll be seeing you far sooner than anticipated. As you read this letter, I’m already on my way home; but for fear of rumors spreading like wildfire back to town, I decided to write you a quick letter explaining what happened. Please do relax, as I’m perfectly fine health-wise. I am not sure how I managed to be unscathed by bullets and swords, but I am fine. I am emotionally wounded, however…

~~

Keiji is downright furious. With nearly half of their ranks fallen during the failed surprise attack at Shiratorizawa’s weaponry and the more than a quarter of the remaining soldiers somewhat wounded, he won’t stand for any cowardice. Yoshiki Towada is the biggest coward he’s ever has the misfortune to lay his eyes on, and Keiji will not stand for any leniency.

“General Ukai,” he calls out, hands fidgeting behind his back as he briskly walks towards Ukai’s back. “May I speak with you?”

Only a weak blow landed on Ukai, a dagger barely scrapping his upper left arm and a slightly deeper cut on his left hand. Takeda insisted Ukai only wear his loosest shirts and no jacket. He figured the wound would get irritated by tight fabrics, and this way the bandages would also not be easily altered by clothing as well as movement. Takeda also stated for Ukai to request help with picking up anything, or to only use his right arm if the load was light. Ukai had rolled his eyes but trusted his husband and followed his request.

“I know what this is about, Akaashi,” Ukai sighs, removing his cigar from his mouth using his good hand. “I already dispatched him from the military.”

“But he’s still with us!” Keiji furiously reminds him.

“We’re heading back to his hometown Ohgiminami in a week. It makes sense for us to wait it out,” Ukai replies. “If we send a soldier home alone when there’s a chance enemy troops are still out there, we’ll get major flack if harm happens to him.”

“He’s no soldier,” Keiji snarls, voice growing bolder in intensity and sound. “Men and women died because of him, because he was a coward who wouldn’t follow directions! How many families will messengers have to inform? Have to face their husbands and wives, their fathers and mothers, their children?!”

Ukai stays silent as he slowly walks towards his tent. “I have to keep a level head,” he quietly says. “I can’t blow up at him, it’ll cause my name to be shed in bad light.”

“You’ll be making your stance and showing you will not tolerate any cowardice and shame,” Keiji responds.

“Congress and the Senate are already iffy with me about certain… shall I say impulsive moves and choices I’ve made,” Ukai says, lifting his cigar back into his mouth. “I can’t risk losing even more funding.”

“It would take a lot more to lose funding,” Keiji reasons. “They’re in support of us winning the war. And besides, I’m sure they’d agree he was a coward who should’ve never stepped foot on the battlefield, never should’ve filled out an application to join the military.”

“You’re right,” Ukai says. “But there is always someone who will never agree. And many times, those people are quite persuasive. Other times, people who are fervently against me will grab at sand to use anything against me.”

They arrive at Ukai’s tent. He grasps the string holding the door together but makes no move to untie it. “I really agree with you, Akaashi,” he softly says, voice turning tender and paternal. “But I can’t. I hope you understand my reasoning.”

He glances over his shoulder, staring Keiji straight in the eye. “I’m also giving you an order.”

Keiji straightens his posture. “A letter to Congress or the Senate? I believe the new weaponry will arrive tomorrow morning, do you think they did not send enough?”

“It’s not about the Congress or Senate,” Ukai says. “I need you to promise me something.”

Keiji waits for Ukai to finish.

Ukai unties the door string. “You won’t say anything about the battle to Yoshiki Towada. No fighting, no passive-aggressiveness, nothing.”

Ukai’s eyes pierce into his own. “I want you to stay out of his way and he should know better than to cross paths with you on purpose.” He opens the door. “I’m ordering you not to do anything. And I mean, anything. Trust me to make sure he will be punished and dealt with accordingly. I’m just as upset with those deaths as you are, Akaashi, if not even more.” With those words, he finally steps through.

Keiji pauses in front of the doorway. Ukai would’ve called him instead if he needed letters written or strategies formed and when he heard no voice summoning him, Keiji swiftly turns on his heel and heads over to his tent, rage slowly consuming him once more.

A tap on his shoulder causes Keiji to turn around curiously, anger temporaily forgotten. “Yes, Futakuchi?”

Futakuchi’s face is hard as rock, brown eyes glittering with what Keiji later figures out is fury. “I have a plan and I know for a fact you’ll want to help me.” It’s already understood what the plan has to do with and a flicker of hope, like a fragile candle on a stormy night, refuses to go out.

Keiji purses his lips. “I’m all ears.”

Chapter Text

Sunlight streams through the curtains, setting the room aglow.

Ennoshita turns on his side, facing Keiji. He gently brushes hand against his face, moving his curly bangs from out of his eyes.

“Keiji, can you do me a favor while you’re away?” he murmurs, moving closer to his side.

“Of course, my love,” is the instant response. He’ll make any promise to make Ennoshita happy and he intends to keep his word. He reaches for Ennoshita’s hand and lays a kiss on top.

“You already promised not to get killed or injured,” he begins, causing Keiji to snort. That he did, in their wedding vows, as a matter of fact.

“But can you try your best to stay away from duels?” Ennoshita continues. “Please don’t challenge someone or accept someone’s offer. I know you’ll get plenty of enemies, but you being alive is more important than an opponent’s bruised ego searching for a fight.”

“Of course, my love,” he repeats. “I’m not fond of duels anyway.”

Ennoshita relaxes. “It’s one less thing to worry about,” he says. “I can’t believe you’re going away tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow is worlds away,” Keiji insists, wrapping his arms around Ennoshita’s waist. He tugs him on top of his chest and presses a sweet kiss to his lips.

“We have the full day ahead of us,” he promises.

Ennoshita settles his legs on either side of Keiji. Bending down and lacing his arms around Keiji’s neck, he rubs their noses together. “Let’s not waste a second, then,” he murmurs.

“Let’s not,” Keiji agrees, kissing Ennoshita softly once more.

Keiji did not expect to partake in a duel. At least he’s not the person actually dueling. He didn’t challenge anyone or accept an offer. As a second, he’s expected to step in if Futakuchi backs out, but he knows that won’t happen. He can at least guarantee that to Ennoshita.

He’ll make sure all the duel guidelines are followed, no one plays dirty, and that justice is served.

“Did you get the doctor?” Futakuchi asks.

Keiji nods. “He’ll meet us at the sight.”

“Who is it?”

“Watari Shinji.”

“He’s a good guy,” Futakuchi nods. “Has he ever been a doctor for a duel before?”

“I don’t believe so,” Keiji answers. “He’s relatively new to the army. I hope he won’t be in another one.”

Futakuchi grunts.

They picked a flat area of land hidden by trees, not easy to find unless one actively searched for it. Not too far from a lake, Keiji wrote down specific instructions to make sure Towada and his second don’t get lost. If they do, Keiji will simply arrange for the duel to commence at a later time. Towada can’t avoid it unless he turns down the offer and shames himself even more.

Futakuchi checks his pistol, fiddling with the trigger.

“Loaded?”

“Give me some credit, Akaashi,” Futakuchi scoffs, voice not as hard as it would be if he was actually mad.

“Just checking,” Keiji says. “It would be rather embarrassing if your pistol didn’t have any bullets and it’d be unfortunate if you discovered that right as the countdown ended.”

“You have a point,” Futakuchi agrees.

Watari shows up a few minutes later. He sets down his large medical bag. “I keep my back turned the whole time, right?” he asks. Keiji briefly thinks he looks too pure for this sort of environment. He’s not sure if he means the duel or the war as a whole.

“Yes,” Keiji tells him. “It’s so you have an alibi.”

Watari nods. “I hope my services won’t be needed.”

“They might,” Futakuchi darkly says. “Guess we’ll find out.”

Watari looks back towards his bag, opening it to save himself from replying.

Towada and his second, Karamatsu Takumi, arrive minutes before the duel is scheduled to begin.

Akaashi and Karamatsu examine both of the guns, agreeing they’re the proper ones for dueling. They also check for the bullets before reloading the guns and keeping them at their sides before giving them back to Futakuchi and Towada. All for safekeeping and keeping things fair.

“Are you going to apologize, or will we have to actually go through with the duel?” Futakuchi demands, glaring down Towada with an ice-cold gaze.

“People all make mistakes,” Towada says, nearly stuttering. He almost shudders. Keiji would sympathy for the man if he wasn’t a coward and caused innocent people to die.

“In the military, you don’t make mistakes like that,” Futakuchi practically growls. “Turn around and we’ll begin.”

Futakuchi spins on his heel, Towada following his lead. Keiji and second hand the respective pistols back to them.

Watari keeps his back turned, head bowed.

Keiji and second walk a few meters away. “Countdown will precede,” he calls out loudly. “If anyone fires before the count reaches ten, you will forfeit, and news will be told to the entire military.”

“Doesn’t the military kind of look down on duels?” Watari mutters to Keiji.

“Yes,” he responds. “That doesn’t stop anyone though. And if anyone commits an act of shame, or another act,” he adds, “Then military regulations be damned, your name will be cursed upon for the rest of time.”

Towada’s feet twitch, laces hitting the sides of his boots.

Keiji locks eyes with second. He nods and they both begin the countdown. With each number, the two duelers take a step forward.

“…Six, seven, eight, nine, ten!” they loudly say. Futakuchi and Towada whirl around.

Towada’s hand quivers.

Futakuchi fires.

Towada takes a few steps back. Blood soaks through the corner of his shirt. Must’ve hit his shoulder, Keiji thinks.

“Towada!” Karamatsu cries, racing over.

“Do you yield?” Keiji, ever the one to follow protocol, calls out.

“He’s shot, yes he yields!” Karamatsu shouts, bending down at Towada’s side.

Watari takes that as his cue to grab his bag and race over to the injured man. He gets to work.

“We need to clear out,” Futakuchi says, clearly shaken up.

Keiji gives him a look and that’s all the encouragement he needs for continuing. “I wanted to scare him, maybe graze his arm or leg… but I thought of all those families receiving news that their sons and daughters died. Then I couldn’t stand the thought of him walking away without more than a scrap. He needed to pay.”

“Make way for General Ukai!” a voice yells through the sound of hooves running against the ground.

“Oh no,” Keiji mutters. This isn’t good.

General Ukai arrives with a few other soldiers, all on horses.

“What is the meaning of this?” Ukai demands, getting off his horse.

“There was a duel, General Ukai,” Futakuchi answers, standing tall. “I dueled Towada Yoshiki, sir.”

Ukai rubs his forehead. “I’m not surprised,” he mutters, walking towards Watari and Towada. “We’ll load him on a horse and take him back to camp. After making sure he’s patched up, he’ll be sent home on dishonorable charges.” Towada is in too much pain to argue. Watari nods and helps the other soldiers with putting Towada on one of the horses. After strapping him against the horse’s back, they take him back to camp.

Ukai returns his attention to Futakuchi and Keiji.

“This duel was an irresponsible, dumb idea. Futakuchi, what compelled you to duel him?”

Futakuchi opens his mouth.

“Never mind, it’s clear why you did it.” Ukai examines Keiji. “I thought I told you to stay away from Towada. Didn’t I tell you that, Akaashi?”

“Yes, General Ukai,” Keiji replies. “But he needed to pay for what he did.”

“I was going to take care of it,” Ukai says, irritated. “But you couldn’t wait, could you? Did you give Futakuchi the idea?”

Keiji folds his hands behind his back, fists already forming. “No sir, Futakuchi approached me with the idea.”

“And you agreed to be his second, from the looks of it.”

“Yes sir.”

Ukai stares at Keiji for a long time. Finally, he says, “Futakuchi, go back to camp. I need to talk with Akaashi in private. If I hear about any future duels concerning you, then you’ll also be dishonorably discharged.”

Futakuchi nods and rushes off.

“I expected more from you, Akaashi,” Ukai begins as soon as they’re alone.

“He was also disgracing you,” Keiji reminds him. “Not to mention all the tragedies that happened due to his stupid actions.”

“I told you not to start anything,” Ukai continues. “Did you listen to me? No.”

“You wouldn’t do anything, so we had to!” Keiji insists.

“I was going to handle it, Akaashi! I need to trust that you wouldn’t do anything like this.”

“I need to know my general will take proper actions!”

Ukai stares at him again. “Go home, Akaashi. Go back to your husband.”

Keiji blinks. “Sir?”

“Go home.”

Chapter Text

Your anger is perfectly reasonable at this time, but I would like to remind you that I did not challenge anyone nor accept anyone’s offer of a duel, so I did follow your wishes somewhat.

Chikara snorts. Akaashi had to throw that out there, hoping to diffuse his frustration.

I only agreed to be Futakuchi’s second because I knew he would not back out and thus leaving me to fill his spot. I write this letter as I prepare my return home, so when you get this I may be mere hours away from you, my love. I hope you aren’t too mad at me. I’ve missed you so much and seeing your face so soon is a positive of this outcome.

I’ll be home soon.

Love,

Your Keiji

Chikara folds the paper and puts it back in the envelope. “Looks like my letter went through,” he says to himself. “Not in the way I expected, though.” He quickly fixes up his desk and leaves work early. Hurrying home, he makes sure the house is cleaned and ready for Akaashi’s return.

He’s not even home two hours when a carriage pulls up, right as he finishes plating dinner. Chikara rushes to the door and flings it open to see Akaashi taking off his luggage.

“Keiji!” He races down the steps and hugs his husband tightly. “Keiji, I’ve missed you so much.”

Akaashi returns the hug, burying his face in Chikara’s neck. “I’m so glad to see you,” he murmurs, fingers combing through his hair.

“I prepared dinner, you came just in time.” Chikara kisses his shoulder. “I figured I’d have to warm it up with you came home.” They pull apart so Akaashi can tip the driver. The carriage drives off and Akaashi picks up his bag. “Dinner sounds lovely,” he says, smiling softly.

“It’s one of your favorites, onigiri.”

Akaashi kisses his cheek. “Thank you.”

Chikara insists on Akaashi waiting until after eating to unpack. “That can wait, the food is hot now.”

“Alright, alright,” Akaashi laughs. Chikara smiles. He assumed Akaashi would be rather down at being sent home, even temporarily. But he also explained the reason for his early departure and the return home would’ve given him plenty of time to move on.

Chikara decides not to bring up anything involving the war over the course of dinner. He tells Akaashi about how the theater is going, that his parents were hoping Akaashi would be visiting for his birthday because it’s tradition to make a big feast for one’s birthday in their family.

“And we invite friends so it’s a party, but a small one,” Chikara says. “It’s really fun, we all pitch in to cook.”

“That sounds lovely,” Akaashi says. “I think I’ll be in town on my birthday.”

He reaches across the table to grab his hand. Akaashi squeezes it.

They’re quiet for the rest of dinner, enjoying each other’s company they so dearly missed. Right as Akaashi takes his last bite, Chikara takes his plate and hurries to the kitchen.

“Stay there!” he orders, glancing over his shoulder to find Akaashi pushing his chair back from the table. “I have a surprise.”

Akaashi sits back down. “Do you need any help?”

“No, I got it.” Chikara slowly walks back into the dining room, carrying a cake tray covered by a cake dome. He sets it in the center of the table.

“Dessert?”

“No, I carried an empty tray to get your hopes up,” Chikara teases.

Akaashi gives him an exasperated look. “If I wanted to get sassed, there are plenty of other people I could dine with.”

Chikara laughs and picks up the dome, revealing a freshly prepared tiramisu. “I realized I haven’t baked for you yet and luckily I was in the mood for tiramisu today. You need to chill it for a few hours, so I started making it this morning before I left for work.” He smiles. “Guess I had a feeling.”

Akaashi lights up. “That’s my favorite dessert.”

Chikara grins widely. “I thought I recalled you saying that.” He heads to the kitchen and brings out two plates, utensils, and a cake cutter. “Want a slice?”

Akaashi eagerly nods. “You’ve been working all evening, let me slice it.”

“It’s no problem, Keiji.”

“If it’s no problem then I can do it.”

Chikara shakes his head, amused. “Okay.” He hands Akaashi the cake cutter and sits back down. Akaashi cuts them two slices. Before sitting back down, he moves his chair to Chikara’s side. Akaashi gets a bite on his fork and raises it to Chikara’s lips. “Say ‘ah.’”

He opens his mouth and Akaashi feeds him the bite.

“I may be biased, but I think it tastes pretty good,” Chikara jokes.

Akaashi takes a bite. “I happen to agree.”

Chikara leans forward and presses his lips to Akaashi’s, sharing a sweet, coffee kiss.

They talk quietly for the rest of the evening, eating quite a few servings of the tiramisu.

~~

Chikara sits on their bed. “Keiji,” he softly says.

Akaashi pauses in his undressing. He doesn’t turn around. “Yes, Chikara?”

He stands up and hugs Akaashi from the back. “I know you’re disappointed with how things are going for you.”

Tension releases from his shoulders, but he remains silent.

“But you’re still really lucky, Keiji,” Chikara continues. “You’ve risen the ranks so quickly.”

“And I was sent home.”

“Not for lack of skills.” Chikara faces him. “You and I both know that this won’t be permanent. You’re too strong to keep you on the sidelines forever.” He sadly smiles. “I wish you wouldn’t return, as selfish as it is. I worry every second you’re out there, even if you’re not on the battlefield.”

“Even if I’m requested back, there’s nothing certain about my holding.” Akaashi sighs, resting his forehead against Chikara’s. “If I’m not given a command, there’s nothing to guarantee a political standing, a political future, any future with a stable job, for me.”

“Even if you don’t have a job immediately after the war, I do. Money won’t be an issue.”

“That’s not the point,” Akaashi claims. “I refuse to be dependent on you.”

“Marriage is a partnership,” Chikara reminds him. “We’re here to support each other, through thick and thin. You wouldn’t be dependent on me.” He cups his face, brushing aside his bangs of curls. Akaashi covers his hands with his own. “I need to tell you something and if I forgive you for the duel, then I hope you’ll forgive me for this.”

Akaashi pulls back slightly so their foreheads aren’t touching anymore. “What is it, love?”

Chikara swallows. “I wrote to Commander Ukai.”

Akaashi stares. “You did what?”

“I didn’t expect him to actually do anything,” Chikara admits. “I wrote hoping he’d allow you to come visit when the camp was nearby, maybe let you come down for the weekend when your birthday was here, and for Christmas… I didn’t expect him to send you home.”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

Chikara averts his eyes. “I was afraid you’d be mad that I asked Commander Ukai directly. I hoped that if I was the one who asked, he’d let you go. And I know it’s selfish, but as the son of two important Karasuno generals, I hoped he’d listen to me and send you home for a visit, but I didn’t know he’d send you home like this.” He wipes his watery eyes. “Please don’t be mad, Keiji.”

“Chikara, of course I would come home if you asked. In a heartbeat. I’d persuade Commander Ukai if he’d say no.” Akaashi holds Chikara tightly. Their heartbeats pound simultaneously.

“I’m sorry, Keiji,” he whispers.

“You don’t have to apologize.” Akaashi brushes his fingers through his hair, humming softly. “I understand what you did and while I wish you told me first or asked that I talk to Commander Ukai about it, I’m lucky to have a caring husband to look out for me.” He pauses. “I’ve had Bokuto-san and others be my family for years, but it wasn’t until I met you that I realized what I was missing. Thank you, Chikara. Really, thank you.”

Chikara pulls back. “I’m lucky to be married to you. I’m happy to be part of your life, especially your family, and you’re the same for me.” He smiles softly. “You’re so amazing, Keiji. You’ve done incredible things and you’ll do at least a hundred more.” He laces their fingers together. “Just stay alive, that’d be enough.”

Akaashi nods. “I really love you, Chikara. You’re the amazing one.”

Chikara smiles. “I’ve told you how much I love you, but I want to show you.”

That causes a raised eyebrow from Akaashi. “What is it, love?”

He takes their laced hands, leading his husband as he walks backwards to the bed.

Oh.” Akaashi chuckles. “That kind of love. In that case, I’d love to show you too.”

Chikara giggles, laying down on their bed. “Let’s get to work, shall we?”

Chapter Text

 

“Commander Ukai,” Futakuchi, the damn brat, says from a few meters away. A determined look on his face, he walks swiftly until he’s near Keishin’s side.

Here we go again. At least it’s not Bokuto this time.

“What?” Keishin grumbles, cleaning his pistol. “Is this about Akaashi again?”

“I think you need to reconsider your idea to send him away,” Futakuchi says, rushing to add “sir” in hopes he sounds more respectful.

Futakuchi isn’t the best person to talk about his decision to send Akaashi away, and Keishin “Why should I do that?”

“I think your workload is too much, you’re taking on responsibilities that someone other than the commander should do. Akaashi was the right person to help ease the load.”

“I appreciate your comfortableness in approaching your senior, but I made my choice very clear, Futakuchi. Go to your tent, inspections are drawing near.”

Futakuchi clearly wants to argue, based on his tone and posture, especially combined with his words. Nevertheless, he listens to Keishin. Finally.

The commander heads back to his own tent, eager to get time to himself and shred his mask. He’s had to be the man of inspiration, preservation, hope for these soldiers and that takes a toll of any person.

He pushes aside the cloth door, tying it shut so soldiers will know to save their breath, their commander doesn’t want to speak. Keishin sighs, rolling his shoulders in hopes of some tension being released. No such luck. He eyes the table before him, every speck of the surface covered with maps and battlefields. All the strategies cloud his mind, every possible risk and bad outcome causing him to question his every decision. He walks past his table and settles down on the cot.

“Keishin,” Takeda says, emerging from his tent and entering Keishin’s through their joint wall. While the couple sleeps together, they both want and need different work spaces. Hearing Takeda’s soft voice does wonders to his stress. Already he’s relaxing. Takeda has that effect on him, ever since they first met.

Takeda takes a seat beside him. Their knees touch. Years ago this would’ve caused Keishin to furiously blush, before he realized that Takeda reciprocated his feelings, before the collected man offered a marriage proposal and a ring. Strange to think how far ago that was. They were practically kids… “I think we both know what you need to do.”

“I sent him away, I can’t call him so quickly,” Keishin grumbles, rubbing his face. “I need to keep a reputation, I can’t bend backwards so quickly. What will my troops think of me? Or the Senate?”

“Gossip and drama aside, you need him,” Takeda insists. He slips an arm behind Keishin, slowly rubbing his back. “There’s a reason we have a strategist. They take weight off your shoulders, help ease the load.”

“Help win the war,” Keishin finishes. All familiar terms he’s heard ever since Akaashi departed in his carriage. He sighs and straightens his back. A glance over shows Takeda already looking at him. “Keishin.”

“Ittestu.”

Takeda sighs, removing his arm from Keishin’s back. “You know I’m right,” he gently says, hand moving towards his arm and giving a gentle squeeze. Slowly tension is released from his shoulders. Takeda has a magic touch.

“When aren’t you right?” Keishin complains, though he’s not really upset. One thing he loves about his husband is his wits and ability to think of all the positives, even in the bleak war.

Takeda chuckles. He pushes his chair back and stands. Stretching his arms, he starts to clear the table. A protest from Keishin is emitted after a piercing look from the dark-haired man.

“We aren’t having dinner on top of maps, Keishin.” Takeda turns back to the table, not wasting a moment to continue cleaning. “Who knows what stains might occur. And yes, we’re eating in here. You need a break.”

“You don’t get breaks during war,” Keishin says.

“We can’t do anything this evening,” Takeda replies, rolling up the largest map. He reaches for a tie to keep the map in its cylinder roll. “You’ll make yourself sick. You’ve barely gotten sleep these past few days. You’re going to get sick, and where will the army be without you to lead them?”

Keishin wants to argue, but he knows better than to do that. Save his energy for something he truly disagrees with. Takeda finishes clearing the table by the time a soldier carries in two plates of food. Keishin forces himself to stand up and trudge to the table. How Takeda is so full of energy after long days, he’ll never know.

Takeda situates the conversation, so it never lands on the war, never on the issues pounding inside Keishin’s head. The problems get the hint and take the night off, letting him rest for the first time in a long time.

And if Keishin gets in his cot for bed only to see Takeda at the table, writing away what surely is a letter requesting Akaashi Keiji to return to his position, Keishin simply turns on his side and drifts to sleep.

 

Chikara didn’t want Akaashi to fiddle his thumbs, or go on long writing spurts of essays that surely would cause an uproar when he’d probably be called back to the battlefield. The natural solution is to take him to the theater.

“Do you need help?” Chikara asks, crossing the stage.

Akaashi stares intently at the needle in hand, thread in the other. “No. I can do it.”

“Keiji, there’s a needle threader in my office. I can go it for you.”

“No, I can do it,” Akaashi repeats, looking up. Determination flashes across his face. “I will not be bested by a simple needle and thread, love.”

Chikara chuckles. “Alright. Though you’ll need a different color if you’re patching up the sleeve of that jacket.” He gestures to the coat laying across Akaashi’s lap. “The thread needs to be navy blue, not black.”

Akaashi pauses. “Damn thread.”

Chikara snorts and Akaashi lets out a small laugh. This is nice. He likes having Akaashi back home, showing him his second love.

Tsukishima Akiteru, a former soldier sent home a few months prior after a bad gunshot wound to his right side as well as his upper right leg, is still healing. Claimed he can’t be idle while resting up to rejoin the war, he took up the offer of a temporary finance director. Akiteru’s position gives Ennoshita more time focus on other aspects.

“When’s the next play?” Akaashi asks. He manages to sneak the dark navy thread through the tiny needle. He lets out a victorious cheer.

Chikara smiles, though his heart aches. Akaashi will most likely be called back to the frontlines before dress rehearsals approach, much less the run of the play. “A little less than two months. We had casting two days before you arrived. I wanted to work on the actual theater and other elements before starting the play rehearsals.”

“Who’s in the cast?”

“Shimizu Kiyoko-san and Misaki Hana-san are the leads,” Chikara says.

“I haven’t had a chance to read all of the script,” Akiteru admits sheepishly. “What is it about again?”

Chikara puffs out his chest slightly. He’s always happy to discuss his work. While sometimes his theater performs tradition acts or plays by other people, lots of what is performed is written by his own hand. “It’s about two immortal lovers reuniting after decades apart. It’s rather funny, though. Misaki-san’s character is the reason they’re finding each other again, she finds a mischievous warlock, who’s played by Terushima.”

“She makes a deal, right?” Akaashi recalls, thinking back when he read countless versions of multiple scenes, acting as Chikara’s beta and helping him through his creative slumps.

“Yep!” Yahaba calls from his position several meters above them. “Terushima is really thrilled with his role. He wants something flashy to wear.”

“He likes making an entrance,” Chikara says with a roll of his eyes.

The four hear their visitor before they see him. An old theater is great for aesthetic, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s old. One pair of doors leading to the auditorium part of the theater practically creaks even if someone breathes on the doorway.

“Hello?” Chikara says, already making his way off the stage and to the aisles.

A cloaked figure appears, holding an envelope. The stamp indicates it’s sent from the commander. Chikara swallows.

The figure pushes back his hood to reveal himself.

“Kenma, it’s daylight out,” Akaashi remarks curiously, making no move to stand up. “Why are you wearing a hood? Is it cold?”

Kenma simply gives Akaashi a look before handing the envelope to Chikara, who’s met him at the door. “I’m sure you can guess what this is,” he says softly.

“Sadly,” Chikara says. “But not unexpected.”

Chikara heads back towards the stage, where Akaashi takes the letter carefully. He eyes the envelope for a moment, fingers tracing the swoopy letters.

“Are you going to open it?” Kenma asks.

“I already know what it says,” Akaashi replies. “They wouldn’t send a soldier otherwise.”

Kenma isn’t on the frontlines, but he’s a behind the scenes guy. He helps out with secret undercover missions, like Kinoshita’s mission as a Shiratorizawa tailor, or helping steal cannons and the likes. He’s quick to move, sly on his feet, like a cat. It’s very clear he came from the former country of Nekoma.

Akiteru states the words Chikara had been avoiding. “You’re heading back out?”

“Apparently.” Akaashi stares at the envelope before tucking it in his jacket. “I’ll read the formalities later. I’m assuming they’re expecting us to leave in the morning, right Kenma? Surely they don’t want us traveling at night.”

Kenma shrugs. Akiteru glances up and Chikara assumes he’s sharing a look with Yahaba.

“You should stay for dinner,” Chikara encourages. “We have a guest room, it’ll be more comfortable than a hotel.” Akaashi nods in agreement.

Kenma fidgets. “If you guys are okay with that,” he quietly agrees.

“An offer wouldn’t be made otherwise,” Akaashi says, placing a gentle hand on Chikara’s waist.

“I hope you don’t mind waiting a few more minutes. Akiteru-san, Yahaba, can you guys hold down the fort? I’m heading home earlier for the night.”

“Of course,” Yahaba says, voice carrying down from the rafters nicely. “Don’t worry about us, we understand. Feel free to come in a little later tomorrow morning too.”

Akiteru shakes Akaashi’s hand. “Good luck to you, Akaashi, though I’m sure you’ll do well without it.”

Chikara’s shoulders sag. Keiji better do well…

~~

The entire way home, Kenma makes remarks about he could really visit a hotel if that would make things more comfortable. Surely the couple would prefer that. They only have a few hours until they’ll part. No physical contact, no whispered ‘I love you’ comments or tender hugs. Really, why did Kenma agree? Now he’ll only be a nuisance.

“You keep offering to stay at a hotel makes me wonder if I pressured you to accept,” Ennoshita says, sparing a glance across from Akaashi’s side.

“No,” Kenma honestly accepts. He didn’t feel pressured. Truthfully, he’d prefer staying in a somewhat familiar place rather than a random hotel. At least this way, he’ll have good company—

And books. The Akaashi couple has lots and lots of books, Kenma’s biggest weakness. The library would be closed at this hour and Kenma hopes to spot a favorite novel of his to reread during his brief stay.

“Then stop fidgeting,” Ennoshita not unkindly says, giving a soft smile. “I haven’t seen you in a while, I don’t think since before you and Keiji were dispatched. It’ll be nice to catch up.”

“Yeah,” Kenma says, grateful that Ennoshita knows that despite his short words, he’s not annoyed or anything. He’s gotten to know the man fairly well since they share a good friend by the name of Kuroo Tetsurō. Over the years, Ennoshita didn’t mind Kenma’s quietness and Kenma didn’t mind Ennoshita’s bursts of passion concerning his plays. Then again, Kenma has realized he doesn’t mind wild energy all the time. One of his new friends, Hinata, is a bundle of sunshine. There’s also Bokuto Kotarou, the dashing soldier everyone calls an ‘ace’ for all his achievements and glory.

He blinks. Dashing?

Kenma shakes his head to clear himself of the thought. He turns back towards Ennoshita. He holds up a mask well, Kenma muses as they enter the Akaashis’ front yard. Any spouse of a soldier rightfully is terrified for their wellbeing. And just when Akaashi narrowly missed the frontlines, he’s dragged back into it. Even though he doesn’t have a command of his own, Ennoshita must be scared for Akaashi’s wellbeing.

Kenma doesn’t have the heart to tell either of them he overheard Commander Ukai and Takeda discussing the possibility of giving Akaashi a command.

He tunes back into reality, as Ennoshita and Akaashi discuss all their plans concerning their home. Kenma nods politely, not entirely interested in home décor or refurnishing, but he doesn’t mind listening to it when it concerns his friends.

Akaashi shows Kenma to the guest room where he’ll spend the night.

“Chikara said dinner will be ready shortly,” Akaashi informs him. “Feel free to stay in here or go around the house. You remember where the library is, don’t you?” He raises his eyebrows, knowing Kenma never forgets a library.

“Of course I remember.”

Akaashi shakes his head in amusement. “I’ll leave you be.”

“Read the letter,” Kenma calls out a beat too late, as Akaashi is closing the door.

“What?”

“Read the letter,” Kenma says, mind racing back to the overheard discussion between the commander and his husband. “I know what’s in it. Just… don’t read it out loud to Ennoshita.”

Akaashi pauses, hand still on the door knob. He stares at Kenma for a few seconds. “Okay, I will.” He closes the door. Soft footsteps disappear down the hall.

Kenma doesn’t bother unpacking. He only bought a knapsack, knowing he won’t be long away from the camp. He unties his cloak and sets it on the chair beside the desk, making sure it doesn’t touch the floor.

Glancing in the mirror to make sure he looks presentable (he may not be the “usual” type of guest, but again, he’ll make an effort for friends), Kenma heads downstairs. Not making much noise, like the cat he is (Kuroo’s words, not his), he goes right towards the library. Good thing Akaashi and Ennoshita love to read. They have a rather impressive size library.

“Keiji, you have to promise me you’ll stay safe,” Ennoshita says from the kitchen. Clearly, he’s trying to keep his voice down, assuming Kenma is upstairs in the guestroom rather than on the same floor. “I don’t want you dying on the battlefield in vain to be a hero, to have your name written down in history.”

“I’m not going to leave you,” Akaashi gently says. Kenma guesses he walks closer to Ennoshita judging by the footsteps. “I’d hope you have more faith in me.”

“I know you want to be remembered,” Ennoshita says in a small voice. Kenma wishes he didn’t hear, but he’s nervous that if he tries to retreat back to the guest room, he’ll be caught. “I know you’re determined to change the game.” A heavy breath.

“Do you know I love you?” Akaashi slowly asks.

A pause. Kenma traces his finger across the spines of well-loved books. “Keiji—”

“Do you?” Akaashi repeats.

Ennoshita sighs. “I do, Keiji.”

“You can trust me, Chikara. I will make it back in one piece. I’ll be thinking of you every waking hour, and you’ll be what brings me home. Not the

“I think what will bring you home is the war being won by Karasuno.”

“That too.” Akaashi chuckles. “I don’t like you having to cook for yourself every day, dear. Especially after a long day of work.”

“Keiji, I’m fine. You could help me this time, you know.”

“I am,” Akaashi scoffs, though Kenma hears the playfulness seep out. “These vegetables didn’t chop themselves.” He returns to a more serious tone. “I mean when I’m not here. Maybe you should hire a cook.”

“I don’t know any private cooks, Keiji. Besides, I’m really fine.”

“You don’t need any more stress, darling. You stay late at the theater when I’m not here. I’m the same way, I know how it gets. You’ll stay even later the closer to the play production dates, too. I know I cause some of your stress, I want to eliminate any other stress I possibly can.”

“…Fine,” Ennoshita says, right as Kenma settles on a book. A tale of a lovesick siren determined to forget her past loves once and for all, she decides to tour the ocean floor and perform her tales of woo. An interesting tale. Kenma briefly wonders what it would be like if Ennoshita made it into a play. He’d love to see it. Perhaps he’ll suggest the idea. Ennoshita likes creative ideas, after all. Considering how much Akaashi and Ennoshita love books, even if this copy was Akaashi’s, it would be likely for the pair to exchange titles. And if Ennoshita hasn’t read it yet, Kenma will be sure to change it.

“I’ll put out an ad in the newspaper,” Ennoshita tells Akaashi. “I’m not promising I’ll hire any.”

“Only if you like them,” Akaashi compromises. “Maybe you can search for a maid or butler too. You have enough on your plate without worrying to keep the house in order. They can be part time, so they don’t have to live here.”

“Keiji, it’s like you want the staff of a mansion,” Ennoshita teases. Kenma settles in a comfy armchair, beside the window. The sun retreats over the hills, casting a rosy glow among the sky. Kenma hasn’t felt this content in a while, despite the circumstances.

“Only the best for my Chikara.”

He wonders how long it’ll last.