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Catch Me, I'm Falling

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The worst part of being in love with your best friend is… actually, scratch that. There is no worst part of being in love with your best friend, because all of it is just one big continuous stretch of exquisite, terrible suffering.

Okay, so maybe Teru’s being just a little bit dramatic. It’s not always awful. You get used to it, is a more accurate statement. It’s not good, of course, but you get used to it in the same way you get used to a bad haircut, or being shortsighted. Most days, it doesn’t even cross your mind.

But then there are moments where you’re suddenly reminded of the intrinsic awfulness of it all. Case in point: right now, when Teru stumbles home after a long day of terrible classes and the first thing he sees when he opens the door is Kageyama-kun sprawled across their couch, fast asleep, a textbook labelled Introduction to Developmental Psychology perched open on his chest, rising and falling along with the rhythm of his breath, and in that moment Teru experiences the acute sense of being run over by a truck. And then having that truck back up and run you over again.

There’s nothing particularly out of place about this scene. Kageyama-kun likes studying in their living room because when he tries getting any work done in his own bedroom he inevitably ends up falling asleep; of course, that rationale is flawed because nine out of ten times he just ends up taking a nap on the couch instead of his bed. In the six months since the both of them have started living together, Teru has walked in on this exact scene numerous times: Kageyama-kun fast asleep on their living room sofa with some textbook on his chest or on the floor or at his feet. But if Teru’s going to be completely honest, the sight of it gets to him every single damn time. It’s just… it’s just, his hair looks so soft and the look on his face is so peaceful, and it takes every single ounce of self-control in Teru’s body not to walk over, run his fingers through Kageyama-kun’s hair, and kiss him awake like Sleeping Beauty.

But he can’t do that, for a number of obvious reasons. The most important ones being 1. they’re not dating (as much as Teru wishes otherwise) and 2. Kageyama-kun is straight (as much as Teru also wishes otherwise).

Teru keeps those two facts close to his chest, like some sort of talisman. If his mind ever starts to wander, if he ever starts to wonder what if, he returns to those facts. Not dating. Not interested in men. And the fantasy immediately dissipates, and Teru can get on with his life again.

Hence the suffering and the terribleness of it all.

Of course, there is also the fact that there’s really no one to blame but himself for his current awful predicament. When Kageyama-kun told him in their third year of high school what colleges he was planning on applying to, Teru applied for all the same ones too. And when Kageyama-kun told him which one he was going to attend, Teru said oh wow what a coincidence I’ve also decided to go to that very same school (but not in those exact words). And then when Kageyama-kun asked him if he should stay in the dorms or if he should try looking for an off-campus apartment, Teru said oh wow what a coincidence I’m also currently facing the exact same predicament and hey this is a totally random and far out idea but what if we lived together in the same apartment? After all, it only makes sense since we’re going to be attending the same school and all. My motives are totally innocent and have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been hopelessly in love with you for the past five years now (but not in those exact words).

Teru has no idea what he was thinking back then, because not only has living with Kageyama-kun made the sheer intensity of his feelings a million times worse, it’s also meant that there are now a thousand different moments every single day where Teru has to confront the aforementioned magnitude of his crush. Like when he chances past Kageyama-kun’s bedroom door and hears him humming along to whatever upbeat pop song he’s listening to at the moment. Or when he walks into the kitchen in the morning and sees that Kageyama-kun’s bought him a new carton of yuzu juice when he’s running low. Or right now, coming home after a long day of school and seeing Kageyama-kun fast asleep, so calm and unguarded that it makes Teru’s heart ache.

I wish, Teru start to think, and then stops himself. Not dating, he reminds himself. He’s straight.

Kageyama-kun starts to stir, and it’s only then that Teru realizes he’s been standing on his doormat and staring this entire time like some kind of creep. Shaking himself, he kicks off his shoes and steps into the apartment, throwing his shoulder bag onto the dining table. He walks into their kitchenette and makes a show of opening the door to the fridge, grabbing a carton of juice, and pouring himself a huge drink, all while waiting for Kageyama-kun to fully wake up.

Another perk slash terrible drawback of living together with your best friend whom you’re madly in love with: you get to learn so much about them. Like the fact that Kageyama-kun never drinks coffee, but his favorite way to take his tea is with a generous splash of milk in a cup of hojicha. Or that he goes to bed at midnight every single night and wakes up at eight every single morning like clockwork. Or that for him, waking up is a whole multi-part process: Kageyama-kun drifts awake like he’s battling with his own subconscious, and it’s only by the time Teru’s drained most of his drink that Kageyama-kun finally has the presence of mind to sit up and rub sleepily at his eyes, his hair sticking up in odd cowlicks everywhere. It is so utterly adorable and Teru kind of wants to die a little bit.

“Oh,” Kageyama-kun says, finally noticing him standing by the kitchen. “You’re home.”

“And I see you’ve been studying hard,” Teru says, raising his cup in a mock salute.

Kageyama-kun goes a little pink, even though he’s been caught in this exact position numerous times. Teru would stop needling Kageyama-kun about if he didn’t look so adorably embarrassed every single time.

“I was studying,” Kageyama-kun insists.

“Oh yeah?” Teru teases. “Studying what?”

“Cognitive developmental theory,” Kageyama-kun answers promptly, and Teru makes the appropriate humming noise to convey being impressed.

Kageyama-kun wasn’t exactly the best student throughout middle and high school; Teru knows this because he essentially tutored Kageyama-kun through his final year of high school and college entrance exams. He’s still useless at anything to do with math, but he has a surprisingly good head for the social sciences—the theoretical parts, that is. He still asks for Teru’s help whenever anything vaguely math-y comes up, and last semester when he had to take a class on statistical analysis he was genuinely terrified for a hot second that he was actually going to flunk out of college. Of course, he passed with the aid of Teru’s excellent tutoring, and now he’s perfectly content reading up on adolescent pedagogy and educational sociology and all this other stuff he’s actually interested in.

Kageyama-kun’s working towards a degree in Educational Sciences; he thinks he wants to become a teacher after graduation. Teru tries not to think about it too much because picturing kindergarten teacher Kageyama-kun, with kind eyes and a soft smile and paint smeared across his cheek, makes him want to go into conniptions.

“How was your day?” Kageyama-kun asks, shifting so that he’s seated properly on the couch, his textbook now closed and placed neatly on his lap.

“Oh, terrible,” Teru replies, throwing back the last remnants of his drink. Kageyama-kun frowns.

“Are you okay, Hanazawa-kun?” he asks.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” Teru says, waving his hand in the air to signify nonchalance. “All my classes today were awful, is all. And Takahashi-sensei was being an idiot as always. I asked him a question that I don’t even think was controversial, I just noticed a contradiction between his lecture and the assigned reading, but he got all huffy and said that if I wasn’t going to show the appropriate level of respect I should just leave, it ended up being a whole thing. You’d think a professor of law would be more open to being challenged in the classroom, but no…”

Kageyama-kun listens attentively to the entire story. It’s another quality about him that Teru loves so much: he’s never dismissive or flippant, even when Teru indulges in his tendency toward the dramatic. He just listens, brow furrowing in concern on Teru’s behalf.

“That’s terrible,” he says when Teru’s done with the story. “Are you going to get into trouble for that?”

“Oh, of course not,” Teru responds glibly. “I’m one of the top students in his class right now, it’s not like he can fail me or anything. I just didn’t appreciate getting called out in the middle of a lecture like that.”

Kageyama-kun smiles, and Teru sets his mug down, crossing the room to unceremoniously plop himself down on the couch next to Kageyama-kun.

“What’s so funny?” he asks, and the smile on Kageyama-kun’s face just grows wider.

“I was just thinking that you’re amazing, that’s all,” Kageyama-kun says.

Teru’s heart rate rockets up, seizing almost painfully in his chest. What else is he supposed to do when Kageyama-kun talks like that? Teru feels lost, like an untethered ship drifting away from shore, and all he can do is to turn away, pretending like there’s a particularly interesting spot on the wall next to him that deserves his wholehearted attention right now. At least now he doesn’t have to look Kageyama-kun in the eye, which is marginally better than before.

“Why do you say that?” Teru asks, trying for casual. Instead his voice comes out squeaky and high-pitched, like he’s going through puberty all over again. If Kageyama-kun notices, he makes no indication of it.

“I just think it was really brave of you to ask that question in front of the entire lecture class,” Kageyama-kun says matter-of-factly, as if he’s talking about the weather. Not at all like he’s driving a knife into Teru’s heart with every single word he speaks, which is, in fact, what’s actually happening here. “And that you’re standing your ground.”

“I don’t think that’s bravery,” Teru responds, forcing himself to laugh. “I think it’s more like a lack of respect for authority.”

“Still,” Kageyama-kun insists, and Teru sucks in a harsh breath. Not dating, he reminds himself. He’s straight.

“Anyway,” he says, changing the topic because if Kageyama-kun says one more nice thing about him he might actually spontaneously combust, right there on their nice sofa, and then Kageyama-kun won’t be able to get the deposit for their apartment back. “How about your day? Did anything interesting happen?”

He’s expecting Kageyama-kun to tell him about his classes, or homework, or a phone call he might’ve had with Ritsu. What he doesn’t expect is for Kageyama-kun to go suddenly and inexplicably red.

“Um,” he says.

“Um?” Teru prompts, suddenly uneasy. It’s not rare for Kageyama-kun to be nervous about something, but it’s been a long time since he’s been nervous about telling Teru something. Now Kageyama-kun’s the one who can’t look Teru in the eye, and that… that doesn’t ever happen.

So Teru’s already bracing himself for bad news, but then what comes out of Kageyama-kun’s mouth ends up being so much worse than anything he could’ve anticipated:

“Someone… asked me out today,” he mutters, and it’s like that getting-run-over-by-a-bus feeling all over again, except somehow a thousand times worse. It feels like he’s just been sucker punched in the gut; he feels winded, completely bowled over.

“Oh? Who’s the lucky girl?” Teru asks, trying to keep his voice as steady as possible. He looks down at his hands. They’re shaking. He shoves them into his pockets, which is possibly the least natural thing he could be doing right now, but absolutely nothing about this situation is at all natural.

And as if they’ve in an unspoken competition to one-up each other, Kageyama-kun goes even redder.

“Um,” he says again. Teru could swear that there’s steam coming out of his ears right now.

“What?” Teru prompts, leaning in, grinning teasingly. He can play this part. He can play the part of supportive best friend in a romantic comedy. It’s what Kageyama-kun needs right now. What he doesn’t need is for Teru to be jealous and mean and cruel—that’s not the person he is anymore. Or maybe it is, but he has those parts of him locked down and buried deep inside of him where no one will ever have to see it. Or at least, where Kageyama-kun won’t have to see it. So he widens his smile, puts a hand on Kageyama-kun’s shoulder, and continues, “Is she pretty? Do I know who she is? Oh, I bet it’s Saori-chan, I remember her from—”

“It was a guy,” Kageyama-kun admits, and Teru… doesn’t know what to do with that information.

He’s straight, Teru thinks. So he isn’t interested. Right?

He looks at how flustered Kageyama-kun is. The last time Kageyama-kun was that flustered was when he tried asking Tsubomi-chan out for the second time.

“What’s his name?” Teru asks. He keeps on smiling, because if he doesn’t, he has no idea what else he might do.

“Miura-kun,” Kageyama-kun says, still looking down at his hands. “From my History of Japanese Education class.”

“Oh,” Teru says, just a touch too quiet to be casual. “Did you… what did you say?”

It’s only then that Kageyama-kun finally looks up. He takes one look at Teru, and his expression changes to one of concern.

“Are you okay, Hanazawa-kun?” he asks for the second time that day. “You look a little pale.”

“Oh, I’m fine,” Teru lies. “Just didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“That’s—”

“But enough about me, tell me about this dashing Miura-kun. How did it happen?”

Kageyama-kun looks unconvinced, but Teru can see the exact moment that the recollection of being asked out hits him again. His eyes go wide; his cheeks go pink. God, Teru would do anything to have Kageyama-kun make that face over him. He would swim oceans and torch cities for him.

“Well, I mean… It was so out of the blue… We’re friends, of course, we’re in a study group together, and he just asked me after class today.” Kageyama-kun pauses, sucks in a breath, and Teru can tell what he’s going to say next before he even opens his mouth. “And I… well, I said yes.”

Teru is suddenly overcome by a feeling he hasn’t felt in a long time. There’s a ringing in his ears. It feels like someone just dropped a sack of bricks squarely onto his chest. He thinks he might’ve stopped breathing for a second.

 “Oh,” he says again, voice cracking on that single syllable.

“Hanazawa-kun, are you sure you’re okay?” Kageyama-kun asks, leaning in to squint in his face. Teru laughs, too loud and too bright, leaning away from him.

“I’m fine! I told you, I’m just tired… I should probably go take a nap right now, actually,” Teru says, standing up.

“Okay,” Kageyama-kun says, but he still looks worried. “Do you wanna get takeout for dinner tonight?”

“That would be awesome,” Teru responds, grinning. “I’ll see you later then?”

Kageyama-kun nods, and Teru takes it as his sign to finally beat a hasty retreat. He turns around, walking down the hallway to his bedroom, and it’s only when he shuts the door behind him that he finally lets himself sink to the ground, burying his face in his knees.

Okay, he thinks. Okay.

Not dating, he repeats to himself. He’s straight.

Only one of those facts is true now. And it’s not even the right one.

So Kageyama-kun is into boys too, Teru thinks. Boys, but not me.

Somehow it hurts even more now, because at least before, Teru could tell himself that the possibility of something happening didn’t even exist anyway. That there was zero chance that they could ever be together. But now that he knows that it conceivably could happen, that the potential for attraction exists but that there is none anyway… well, he feels like complete shit, is the rude way of putting it.

Eventually he manages to pull himself up off the floor and onto his desk chair instead. He turns on his laptop, logs onto Facebook, navigates to Kageyama-kun’s profile, and then looks at his friends list.

Miura, he types.

The search shows that he’s friend with three different Miura’s. One is a woman and the other one goes to a different school, so the boy in question must be the remaining one.

Miura Hiroshi, it reads.

Teru clicks on his name and is taken to his profile. He clicks on his profile picture, and it’s blown up to full size on his screen.

Teru’s first thought is: he’s not even that good-looking.

And it’s true. He’s not. His hair is shaved unfashionably short, and his glasses are too big for his face. One of his eyes is noticeably bigger than the other. His teeth are slightly crooked.

But he’s smiling in the photo, wide and generous. He looks like a good person. He looks kind, friendly, someone who would never, ever harbor the kind of ugly, jealous thoughts that Teru’s thinking right now. And of course this Miura Hiroshi boy is a good person. He has to be, to have noticed Kageyama-kun at all. To have been able to see directly into Kageyama-kun’s soul, to see just how bright and beautiful he is.

And Teru… well, Teru knows how he is. He knows he’s prone to the dramatics. He likes knowing he’s better than other people. He has a little bit of a sadistic streak. He tried to kill Kageyama-kun, once, when he was much younger and a different person. He’s not really a good person, not really, not like Kageyama-kun is. Not like Miura Hiroshi probably is. But he tries. And he can try to be a good person now, and be the friend that Kageyama-kun needs.

But goddammit, it hurts. It really, really does.

Not dating, Teru thinks. It’s all he has left, after all.

-

Teru must’ve actually fallen asleep at some point, because when he opens his eyes he realizes it’s dark out. He rolls over groggily, checking the time on his phone. 8:26 PM, it reads, and Teru pushes his face back into his pillow to groan loudly. He must’ve been passed out for hours, but he still doesn’t feel any better than before. And, helpfully, his stomach starts growling right then. Great.

He hastily throws his hair into a ponytail and stumbles out into the common room. Kageyama-kun had mentioned takeout earlier, but it’s late, so he’s probably already finished his dinner, which is good, because that just means Teru won’t have to interact with Kageyama-kun, and having to sit across from him at their tiny dining table and pretend nothing’s wrong is the absolute last thing he needs right now.

Or so he thinks, right until he rounds the corner of the hallway and comes face-to-face with Kageyama-kun, who’s sitting at the dining table, ankles crossed, head bowed as he works on some assignment on his laptop. Perched in front of him is a plastic bag with the distinctive logo of Teru’s favorite gyoza restaurant on its side. They don’t do delivery, so Kageyama-kun must’ve gone over and bought the food himself. That the restaurant is a mere ten-minute walk away from their apartment isn’t the point—the point is that Kageyama-kun had thought to get food from there in the first place, instead of just picking up the phone and ordering pizza, and the thought of it makes Teru’s heart clench up painfully in his chest. He almost turns right back around, but then Kageyama-kun looks up and smiles. That smile. Teru regrets his entire life.

“Are you feeling better?” Kageyama-kun asks.

“Uh,” Teru says. “Yes?”

The smile on Kageyama-kun’s face falters.

“Not really, actually,” Teru tries again. “I think I’m… coming down with something.”

Kageyama-kun makes a sympathetic noise. “A lot of people in my classes are sick too,” he says. “There must be a bug going round.”

“Yeah,” Teru agrees. “That must be it.”

There’s a beat of silence.

“Are you hungry?” Kageyama-kun asks. “I got you gyoza.”

Teru smiles, even though the sight of that damned plastic bag is completely wrecking him right now.

“Thanks,” he said. “Yeah, I am, actually – but I thought you would be done eating by now. It’s pretty late.”

“I was waiting for you,” Kageyama-kun answers easily, and Teru truly could not be more mortified than he currently is in this exact moment.

“Well,” Teru says, and is relieved when his voice comes out sounding relatively normal. “Let’s eat then.”

Kageyama-kun nods, putting his laptop away, while Teru goes to get plates and utensils. He gets a smile and a nod in return when he sets them down in front of Kageyama-kun; Teru flashes a quick smile back when he takes his own seat.

They dig in. The food is delicious, but truth be told, Teru isn’t really feeling it. Maybe he actually is falling sick.

“So,” he finds himself asking, even though his tongue feels heavy in his mouth, “when is this date of yours going to be?”

“Friday,” Kageyama-kun says. “We’re just getting dinner after class.”

Friday. That’s three days from now. Teru stabs a hole into a piece of gyoza, trying to ignore the fact that he’s gripping onto his pair of chopsticks so tightly his knuckles are starting to turn white.

“That sounds great,” Teru lies, forcing himself to grin. “Are you excited?”

“Um,” Kageyama-kun says, staring down at his plate, even though it does absolutely nothing to hide the blush that’s staining his cheeks a delicate pink. “Yeah, I am.”

And Teru takes a moment to just… look at Kageyama-kun. His choppy bangs, his clear gaze, the bridge of his nose, the way he chews on his bottom lip when he’s nervous. Teru knows that face with an aching familiarity from a hundred thousand stolen moments over the years, chancing a look at that face, barely a second every single time because he couldn’t risk getting caught. Except for once in a blue moon, in moments just like this one, where Teru lets himself be greedy and drink in the sight of Kageyama-kun’s handsome face, where he lets himself stare until his chest hurt.

Then Kageyama-kun looks up, and the moment is broken.

“Dinner, huh,” Teru says, averting his gaze. “Do you guys know where you’re going to go yet?”

“Not yet,” Kageyama-kun answers. “But probably just somewhere casual, near campus… I don’t really know how to do this,” he admits shyly.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Teru laughs. “Dating’s not some kind of skill you have to learn. Just talk normally. Talk about yourself. Ask about the other person. It’s easy.”

“I guess it must be easy for you, Hanazawa-kun,” Kageyama-kun says, smiling wistfully. “You’ve gone on so many dates in the past, and you’re so nice and good at talking. Someone like you could probably date whoever they wanted to.”

“That’s… not true at all,” Teru says, almost laughing out loud at the irony of it all, and kind of wishes Kageyama-kun had just murdered him all those years ago after all.

-

The next day, Teru performs a God-given miracle and wakes up at seven in the morning.

When his alarm beeps to life his first instinct is to plant his face into his pillow and groan. Then he remembers why he needed to be up this early in the first place, and forces himself to throw off his sheets and crawl out of bed.

It takes him forty-five minutes to shower, throw on an outfit, go through his skincare routine, and walk out the door—all before Kageyama-kun is even awake. Which was, of course, part of the plan all along.

He takes a bus to a small coffee shop away from Kageyama-kun’s usual stomping ground, orders a giant cup of coffee, and situates himself at a small table near the back of the store. It’s a nice place, airy with exposed brick walls and lightbulbs hanging off the ceiling—the kind of place that’s perfect for hiding away.

He orders a latte in the largest size possible, pulls out his laptop, and gets to work. Today’s going to be a productive day, he tells himself. He’s going to get all his reading done and demolish an eight-page paper and do research on internships and—

And his phone buzzes, and he looks down at it, and there’s a text message from Kageyama-kun on the screen.

Kageyama Shigeo [8:52 AM]: Did you leave the house early? Is everything okay?

All pretense of productivity has gone out the window. There’s no way Teru’s going to be able to get anything done now.

Hanazawa Teruki [8:53 AM]: just had an early morning club meeting, all is fine! I’ll see you back at the apartment tonight

Kageyama Shigeo [8:53 AM]: Okay. Have a good day :)

Teru stares at that damned smiley face for a long, long time.

-

In the end, Teru gets almost no work done. Instead he ends up dicking around in the coffee shop for longer than he’d initially expected: checking and re-checking his email, watching mindless YouTube videos on auto play, flirting with the barista just to prove that he can. That he’s a likeable, desirable person.

He heads to class later in the afternoon and argues some more with his professor in the hopes that it’ll make him feel better (it does, but only temporarily). Afterwards, he goes stress shopping with a bunch of classmates he ordinarily has no interest hanging out with, but who now give him a good reason not to head home just yet.

At some point in the night he gets another text message from Kageyama-kun.

Kageyama Shigeo [9:02 PM]: Are you coming back for dinner?

Hanazawa Teruki [9:02 PM]: no, I’m out with friends. will be back late

He turns his phone off before he can see what Kageyama-kun says in response.

By the time he gets home later that night and pushes the front door open, the apartment is already dark, and Kageyama-kun’s already gone to bed.

-

The next day Teru wakes up early again and heads to the same coffee shop. He’s marginally more productive, actually getting some homework done. He’d written Kageyama-kun a note saying that he would be leaving early and getting back late again, so hopefully there will be no more errant text messages to ruin his day. He works on his paper, and resolutely does not think about the fact that it’s Thursday and the date is happening in less than forty-eight hours.

During hour three at the coffee shop, when Teru’s staring to get hungry and wondering if he should leave to go get food, he looks up and sees none other than Suzuki Shou waltz in.

For a second, he genuinely considers hiding under the table until he leaves. But then Suzuki turns and makes direct eye contact with him, and Teru remains frozen in spot.

In truth, he doesn't really know anything about Suzuki – they’re acquaintances at best, two almost-strangers who just happen to orbit in the same circles. All he knows is that his dad was the leader of Claw, and that he’s currently dating Kageyama-kun’s brother. Which seemed kind of weird to him initially, but then he remembers that the first time he met Kageyama-kun he tried to strangle him to death, so if anything, he hopes that having homicidal love interests runs in the Kageyama family.

“Hey, Ritsu’s brother’s friend,” Suzuki says, grinning, pulling up the chair across from Teru’s and sitting down. Teru’s eyebrow twitches.

“Hello, Kageyama-kun’s brother’s boyfriend,” he replies. “I thought you were still in Seasoning City.”

“I was,” Suzuki says, slouching back against the chair. “But I just finished a mission around here recently.”

A mission. Right. Suzuki Shou might be a high school drop-out, but he’s also a secret esper government agent or something like that. Teru’s pretty sure he isn’t actually supposed to know. Is Suzuki even supposed to be telling him this? Oh god, is Teru going to be arrested for this?

“How’s little brother-kun?” Teru asks, changing the subject quickly. The smile on Suzuki’s face turns softer, gentler somehow.

“He’s great,” he says, simply, and Teru breath stutters in his chest with envy – at the look on Suzuki’s face, at the quiet contentment in his voice, at the fact that Kageyama-kun’s snot-nosed little shithead of a brother gets to have this, but he doesn’t, and probably never will.

“The two of you still accidentally setting fire to trees?” Teru asks, just to be snide, and he feels a little twinge of guilt when Suzuki’s expression immediately sours.

“Okay, that was one time,” Suzuki mutters. “And how is Ritsu’s brother, huh? You still in love with him?”

Teru drops his coffee cup. Suzuki gracefully prevents it from shattering all over the floor by levitating it to safety.

“What the fuck,” Teru says.

Suzuki just raises an eyebrow. “Touchy subject?”

“What the fuck,” Teru repeats. “How the fuck did you know that? Do you read minds now too?”

“No,” Suzuki says, perfectly blasé. “You’re just pretty obvious.”

Teru feels like throwing up. Or running out of here. Or flinging himself off the nearest bridge. Or all three of those things, in that order.

“Wait,” Suzuki says, leaning towards Teru and squinting. “Did I actually touch a nerve?”

Teru looks away. “Guess,” he says.

A long silence stretches out between them. Teru doesn’t look up. It lasts for long enough that he thinks that Suzuki might’ve just upped and left, but when he turns back Suzuki is still sitting there, looking embarrassed.

“Sorry,” he mutters. “I didn’t realize that it was like,” he waves his hands around in a vague gesture, “off-limits.”

What Teru really should be doing is telling Suzuki to fuck off and never come back here again. What he does end up actually doing is croaking out, voice hoarse, “Was it really that obvious?”

“Um.” Suzuki looks even more embarrassed now, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. “I don’t know? I’ve never seen you guys actually interact much? That’s just what Ritsu says.”

Oh, great. Even Ritsu knows. Teru might as well go ahead and run himself through with a sword; it’ll probably hurt less than whatever little brother-kun might do to him if he even dares to lay a hand on Kageyama-kun.

“So you guys talk about us,” Teru says flatly. “You and little brother-kun.”

“Um,” Suzuki says again. “Sometimes?”

Teru buries his face in his hands and groans, not caring what the people around them might think.

“Like, occasionally,” Suzuki hastens to add. “Only once a while. When it comes up.”

When it comes up?” Teru repeats, putting his hands back on the table, not caring if his voice rises an octave in hysteria. “Like when?

“Uh… I don’t know if I should say.”

Teru balls his right hand into a fist. It starts glowing a little.

“Okay! Okay, jeez, no need to get all worked up.” Suzuki pushes his chair back, just an inch. “Fine. Like, when Ritsu’s brother told Ritsu that he got asked out on a date, and Ritsu was like, ‘Is Teru-san going to be okay?’”

Teru puts his face back in his hands again. It’s all he can do to not flip the table over and storm out right there and then.

“But like, y’know, we didn’t think it was upsetting for you or anything,” Suzuki continues rattling off, “since Ritsu thinks his brother is just being oblivious and it’s actually just funny, and—”

“Wait.” Teru peers at Suzuki through his fingers. “What did you say?”

“We thought it was funny?” Suzuki says.

“No. The part before that.”

“What did I say before that?”

“The part about Kageyama-kun just being oblivious.”

“Oh.” Suzuki blinks. “Well, Ritsu has this theory that his brother just genuinely has no idea that you have a crush on him—that’s the funny part—but like, eventually he’s gonna realize and then it’s just gonna be gross when you guys finally get together—that’s the less funny par—”

“Little brother-kun thinks that? Really?”

“Shit, did I say too much again?” Suzuki says, going a little ashen. Teru leans forward, both palms pressed firmly to the table in front of him, his cup of coffee long forgotten.

“No,” Teru says. “Keep talking.”

“You know what,” Suzuki says as he stands up, moving deliberately slowly, like someone trying to avoid spooking an animal, “I think I… uh… hear them calling for me, on my secret government agent earpiece. I should go. Fight crime. Et cetera. You know. Duty calls.”

And before either of them can say anything else he’s gone. Teru’s alone at his table, thinking. Hoping.

-

He doesn't actually get home late that night. Instead, he heads back right after he’s done with classes, as if it’s just another regular Thursday afternoon. The world around him feels strange and unnatural, as if someone’s holding a lens to his eyes, making the world look oversharp. Even though he’s done this exact same commute, gone the exact same route on the train for almost a year now, everything feels made new all over again: the thrum of the subway underneath him, the steady sound of the train going over the tracks, evening sunlight glinting at him from outside.

He makes the short walk from the subway station to his apartment. He climbs up two flights of stairs, fishes out his keys, and unlocks the front door.

Kageyama-kun looks up from where he’s sitting at the dining table.

“Oh,” he says, surprised. “I thought you said you were getting back late again.”

“Change of plans,” Teru says wryly, trying not to betray the fact that his heart has started beating traitorously in double time. “Can I join you?” he asks, pointing to the chair across from Kageyama-kun’s.

“Of course,” Kageyama-kun says, shutting his laptop carefully. “I wanted to talk to you about something, actually.”

“Oh,” Teru says. Breathe in. Breathe out. Don’t show you’re nervous. “Me too.”

“Okay,” Kageyama-kun says. His facial expression is as imperceptible as ever. Teru has no idea what he’s thinking. They’ve been friends for years now, and Teru’s learned to read him, a little – but at times like this, when Kageyama-kun’s trying to be deliberately cryptic, Teru can’t figure him out at all. “You first, then.”

Teru laughs, because if he doesn’t he feels like he’s going to have a nervous breakdown. “No, you go first, I insist.”

Kageyama-kun nods solemnly, takes a deep breath, and says, “Did I do something to upset you?”

“What?”

Teru just stares. Of all the things Kageyama-kun could’ve possibly said, this definitely ranks in the top ten most unlikely possibilities. If anything, Kageyama-kun’s the only one who has any right to be upset at all. Teru’s the one who’s been—who is currently being—a terrible friend.

“It just feels like you’ve been avoiding me lately,” Kageyama-kun admits, and Teru gut roils with an unpleasant emotion—shame. His eyes feel hot. He thinks about his conversation with Suzuki, and thinks maybe he and Kageyama-kun’s brother were wrong after all. Or rather, that Teru doesn’t deserve them being right.

“I—I haven’t,” he lies, but he knows Kageyama-kun knows he’s lying. Kageyama-kun just keeps staring at him. Teru still has no idea at all what he’s thinking.

“If I did something wrong,” Kageyama-kun continues, his voice very even, “please tell me. I don’t want you to be mad at me.”

“I’m not mad at you,” Teru says desperately. That much, at least, isn’t a lie. Kageyama-kun’s brow furrows in confusion, and finally, there’s some indication of emotion on his face, something that Teru can actually read.

“But if you’re not mad at me,” Kageyama-kun says slowly, “then why have you been avoiding me?”

“I… really don’t think we should be having this conversation,” Teru says, starting to stand up, but to his surprise Kageyama-kun reaches out and grabs his wrist, stilling him. His grip is surprisingly strong. Kageyama-kun’s been working out, Teru thinks to himself dimly, and then forces himself to stamp out that thought immediately.

“No,” Kageyama-kun says, his voice unexpectedly firm. “We should talk.”

There’s a look in his eyes, serious and resolute. Teru loves that look of his, because it’s usually targeted at enemies that need fighting, or people that need saving, or problems that need solving. But Teru has never had that look directed at him, and now that Teru’s here, with the full weight of Kageyama-kun’s heavy gaze pinned on him, he feels trapped, like an ant under a magnifying glass, like he’s slowing being ground to dust.

Teru sits back down.

“Okay,” he says, his stomach churning.

Kageyama-kun sits down too, inhaling sharply.

“I talked to Ritsu, actually,” he confesses.

“Oh,” Teru says, the feeling of nausea suddenly increasing exponentially. “What did he say?”

“Um.” Kageyama-kun pauses for a second, frowning. “I don’t know, he was being weird and cryptic. He kept muttering to himself?” The nausea only grows. Teru thinks he might actually throw up, right there, right onto his thrifted vintage boots. “But… he said we should talk. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Teru doesn’t say anything, and neither does Kageyama-kun for a long moment. They just stare at each other. Kageyama-kun looks straight at Teru, unflinching, and Teru gazes back, because he can’t help himself. He lets himself look at Kageyama-kun the way he does when he thinks Kageyama-kun isn’t looking back, openly, baring everything, holding nothing back.

It occurs to him that Kageyama-kun’s date is twenty-four hours from now.

“Hanazawa-ku—”

“Please don’t go on your date,” Teru blurts out.

Kageyama-kun stares at him.

“What?”

“Your date,” Teru says again, desperate. “Don’t go on it.”

Kageyama-kun blinks.

“Why?”

Teru exhales, letting out a breath in one long rush. He knots his fingers together, resting his forehead on his knuckles.

“Please don’t make me say it,” he sighs.

His heart is hammering so fast it feels like it’s going to burst right out of his chest. He’s never been this nervous in his entire life. He can’t look up, can’t bring himself to look Kageyama-kun in the eye right now.

This is it, he thinks. This is how it ends. He wonders, distantly, what the logistics of finding a new place to stay halfway through the semester are going to be like. Can he still move into the dorms at this point? Is he going to have to find a new apartment? And for that matter, how is he going to pack? He has so much stuff, all of it strewn all over the place, intermingling with Kageyama-kun’s things, dangling from shelves and peeking out from corners, and what’s going to happen to the furniture they bought together? He kind of wants to keep the throw pillows. Is he allowed to keep the throw pillows? Is he going to have to give up the throw pillows? Or—

“Ritsu did say something when we talked earlier that I didn’t get,” Kageyama-kun says, slowly.

“Yeah?” Teru asks, almost laughing out loud at the absurdity of the whole situation.

“He said… he said that you were probably just being jealous,” Kageyama-kun says. “But I didn’t know what he was talking about at the time.”

Teru doesn’t say anything. This is excruciating. He wants to tell Kageyama-kun to just hurry up and get this whole exchange over with already, because this slow, agonizing burn is truly so much worse than flat-out rejection. He doesn’t say it, though, because it feels like his throat’s suddenly jammed up, like he’s choking with all the words he so desperately wants to say.

“Hanazawa-kun,” Kageyama-kun says gently. He reaches out, gently touches Teru’s elbow. Teru still can’t bear to look.

“You don’t need to be jealous,” he continues.

Teru stops breathing.

And then Kageyama-kun says, completely and utterly solemn, “I’m sure you could get a date whenever you want. I can introduce you to people if you want.”

And Teru can’t help it: he bursts into hysterical, maniacal laughter.

He’s doubling over, shoulders shaking from how hard he’s laughing. When he finally straightens up again Kageyama-kun’s still sitting straight as a rod, looking more confused than ever.

“God,” Teru gasps. “God, no, you’ve got it all wrong.” He lets out another peal of laughter, snorting loudly and ungracefully. “Holy shit, I can’t believe…” He puts his hands over his forehead, shutting his eyes as he breathes deeply, in, and then out again. He shakes his head, eyes still screwed shut, still on the verge of another round of laughter.

“You’ve got it all wrong,” Teru repeats. “I’m not – I’m not jealous of you, Kageyama-kun. I’m jealous of Miura Hiroshi.”

He lifts his head, and he gets to see the complex mix of emotions on Kageyama-kun’s face, how it goes from confusion to a slow, dawning realization.

“Oh,” he says, very soft.

“Yeah,” Teru says.

A long beat of silence.

“I’m just gonna – go,” Teru says, finally getting off his chair. He walks to their front door, clutching his messenger bag to his chest. He should probably get an extra change of clothes, or his toothbrush at the very least, but he doesn’t think he could stand being in the same house as Kageyama-kun for a second longer.

“Hanazawa-kun, wait,” Kageyama-kun says, clearly upset, but he doesn’t get up to follow when Teru steps outside, slamming the door shut behind him.

-

He ends up crashing in the nearest hostel he can find. He buys an extra toothbrush from the local Family Mart, but he goes to bed in the same set of clothes, leaving him feeling absolutely gross the next morning.

As he sits on the creaky hostel bed, it occurs to him that he doesn’t really have friends other than Kageyama-kun. Sure, he has acquaintances, classmates he can hang out with, but he doesn’t really have anyone to go to in situations like these, when he’s feeling upset and in need of comfort. Usually, the person he goes to is Kageyama-kun.

For a second he contemplates calling Reigen-san, but Reigen-san will probably just end up talking to Kageyama-kun, so that option is out.

He ends up heading to campus, even though he doesn’t have class on Fridays. He sits in the library and works on homework, some manic part of him taking the reins as he demolishes the paper he’s been trying fruitlessly to finish for the past week. He runs into some classmates at the dining hall later that day, and ends up spending time with them. They head to the movies, and it’s… well, it’s not great, but it’s fine. Teru might even hazard to say that he’s having fun.

One of the girls in the group, a petite sophomore named Yukimura, keeps trying to make eye contact with him. He thinks he might ask her out, just for the hell of it. I’m sure you could get a date whenever you want, Kageyama-kun had said to him. Well, he definitely could, if he wanted to. Maybe he will.

He ends up asking for her phone number as they’re heading their separate ways at the end of the evening. The absolutely ecstatic look on her face just leaves Teru feeling vaguely ill.

By the time Teru heads back home it’s eight p.m. Kageyama-kun’s probably already on his date at this point. And that's fine. It’s really none of his business.

He unlocks the front door, trying to ignore how heavy his heart feels in his chest. He’s expecting the apartment to be dark, but as the door creaks open, he realizes all the lights in the living room are on, and Kageyama-kun is sitting on the couch, staring intently at his phone.

He looks up when Teru walks in. Teru stares back at him.

“Aren’t you supposed to be on your date?” Teru blurts out.

“I didn’t go,” Kageyama-kun says.

Teru stays frozen in the doorway. He still hasn’t shut the door behind him. He doesn’t think any of his limbs are working right now.

“Why not?” he finds himself asking.

“You told me not to,” Kageyama-kun replies easily, slipping his phone back into his pocket as he stands up. He walks towards Teru. Teru stares at each of his footsteps, counts them in his head – one, two, three, four.

Kageyama-kun stops right in front of him. He gracefully pushes the door shut behind Teru.

“Kageyama-kun,” Teru says. “I don’t—”

And then Kageyama-kun grabs Teru’s hands, and Teru abruptly stops talking. His heart is so loud. He can hear it roaring in his ears. He wouldn’t be surprised if even Kageyama-kun could hear it.

“Teru-kun,” Kageyama-kun says, and Teru’s breath stutters to a halt. “Is it okay if I kiss you?”

“Why?” Teru squeaks out. Kageyama-kun blinks. Teru watches the graceful fan of his eyelash against his cheek, that’s how close they’re standing.

“I want to,” Kageyama-kun says simply. “I didn’t realize I wanted to until yesterday.”

“I’ve wanted to kiss you since we were fourteen,” Teru confesses in a rush. He watches that piece of information register on Kageyama-kun’s face – the surprise, the sudden shyness.

“I didn’t know,” Kageyama-kun says. “I’m sorry I didn’t know.”

“Well,” Teru says, “I never told you.”

Kageyama-kun smiles, and it feels like a sunrise blooming over his face.

“Yes,” Teru says suddenly. Kageyama-kun blinks at him questioningly.

“To your earlier question,” Teru clarifies. It takes a second, but Teru can see it on Kageyama-kun’s face when he gets it. His cheeks go a little pink, but he tightens his grip on Teru’s hands.

“I’ve never kissed anyone before,” he admits.

“I don’t care,” Teru says, and then finally, finally leans in and closes the gap between them.