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wonders that remain

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He opens his phone camera to look at himself once more. He ruffles his hair a few times, making sure that the strands are in the right place. Even if it does nothing (his hair just pops right back to where it had been before), it calms his anxiety a little bit. His hands are sweaty as he locks his phone and puts it in his back pocket. A moment later, he immediately pulls it back out and checks for any notifications. There's only the text from Kuroo that he hasn't opened yet: U GOT THIS BRO!!!! step one to seduction is . . .

The rest trails off. Koutarou doesn't bother opening it now, and takes another deep breath. His grip tightens around his phone, and he reopens the message thread with Akaashi. His eyes scan over his last message several times: i'll be ready in five minutes. He himself had replied with an affirmative message, but it still stays on delivered.

God, he's nervous. He turns up his music a little louder. He's only a block or so away from Akaashi's house, but he needs all the support he can get. His playlists are some of the few things that keep him sane in these trying times. Even with the tunes blasting in his ears, it's like he can hear his own heartbeat picking up the pace as he gets closer and closer. He tries turning down the volume, but it only makes his anxiety spike. How is he supposed to survive when he sees Akaashi in person? It's not like he can keep his AirPods in the whole time — that would be rude! He has to make sure he treats Akaashi right, because what if Akaashi never wants to talk to him again? What if he fucks up their friendship-steadily-turning-romance? 

(He feels like he's gonna pass out.)

You're fine, you're fine, you're fine . . .

Suddenly, he remembers the way Akaashi smiled at him when he had first asked him out (after a handful of spluttering and choking over his own words), and he almost passes out again. He can't do this. Akaashi will just look at him and he'll die on the spot. Oh, god — what if they hold hands? What if their shoulders touch? What if they ki—

He has to stop himself in place before he runs into the telephone pole in front of him. He rips out his earphones, squeezes his eyes shut, and takes another few deep breaths. His eyes feel dry and he blinks several times. When he turns his head, he sees the path up to Akaashi's house.

It's big, but small for only the three people that live there. Koutarou himself has only been inside a few times. He doesn't like how empty and monochrome the interior is. The decorations are lacking. In his opinion, Akaashi is the prettiest thing in the house.

(Not that he would ever say that to his face.

Well. Maybe.


Most likely.)

He shoves his earphones in his pocket, not even putting them back in their little container. He can do that later, if he remembers it, but honestly, he doesn't really care. He looks at his reflection in his phone camera one more time, and pats at his face. He's never been so worried about his appearance before. His aunt and uncle and cousins had all reassured him several times that he looks fine, you're worrying over nothing, Koutarou, you're gonna have fun and he's gonna have fun, but he can't help but linger in his unease a little longer. So he stands there . . . and stands there . . . 

(Oh, fuck it.)

He all but stomps up the steps to Akaashi's house, and just as he's about to throw all caution to the wind and knock on the door (and maybe face the supposed wrath of Akaashi's parents), the door swings right open, like Akaashi had been standing there, waiting for him. He hasn't even knocked yet. His fist hangs in midair, his fingers uncurling slowly.

Oh, jeez. He's going to die.

Akaashi is still just standing there, looking straight at him, though his eyes continuously dart elsewhere. His feet shuffle nervously beneath him. One of his hands tightens its grip on the doorknob while the other is wrenched behind him. He's dressed nicer than usual, and that's saying something.

"Uh—" Koutarou manages, but even then he can't think of anything useful to say. His fist is still hanging. He brings it back, sucks his lower lip into his mouth, and slowly lowers it.

Akaashi snorts. When he bites his lip, it's only for a moment, and one of his canines catches at it. Koutarou watches the subtle movement for longer than is probably appropriate. Akaashi then takes a step forward, right into Koutarou's space, and shuts the door behind him. Through the window, there's the slight shuffling of a figure, like they're being watched. Akaashi glances once behind him, through the window, and then sighs.

"Shall we go?" he asks hurriedly.

Koutarou just nods, still at a loss for words. He can't believe this is actually happening. Is this a dream? Did he actually pass out on the way here?

(As they walk down the steps and away from his home, Koutarou pinches his arm once. It hurts. He beams.)



Koutarou soon realizes he forgot the flowers.



They end up at an ice cream parlor. Evidently, Akaashi loves ice cream. He had never pegged him as a sweets kind of guy, but this is a fact that Koutarou stores for later use.

Sitting in a little booth in the corner, Koutarou notes the abundance of people in the store. It's a warm day outside, and the place is very popular, but even so, he feels like he and Akaashi are the only two in the entire parlor. He can't even hear the loud conversations of the group of teenagers near them, because all of his attention is on the boy in front of him. God, he hopes he isn't bored. He feels like a freak from the way he attempts to analyze every expression on the other's face, like he's a detective or something. He pretends like he knows what the little quirk in Akaashi's eyebrows means, or what his different kinds of smiles reveal about what he's feeling. Does he clench his fingers when he's nervous, or is it just habit? Does he fidget with his hair all the time, or is today just a special occasion? How often does he bite his lips? What's his favorite ice cream flavor?

(He wants to know. He hopes there will be plenty of chances for him to get to know.)

"I didn't know you liked ice cream," Koutarou decides to say, the longest sentence he's managed since they started.

Akaashi glances up at him. His ice cream in question is cookies and cream flavored, topped with chocolate sprinkles and plenty of whipped cream. He slowly pulls his spoon out of his mouth, the motion almost teasingly. "It's one of the few sweet things I enjoy," he replies, and runs his tongue over the leftover cream on his upper lip.

Okay. So he isn't a sweets kind of guy. Koutarou updates his information in his brain.

Koutarou's ice cream is a simple chocolate flavor. Too much gives him sensory overload, but apparently, this is not the case for Akaashi. Koutarou's already managed to finish most of his, but Akaashi savors his. He works his way through each bite, making sure to get an even amount of ice cream and whipped cream on each spoonful. Their feet are fidgeting underneath the table. Akaashi is so invested in his ice cream; if he stretched his foot out a little further, he would touch Akaashi's. Maybe he'd even play with it. What is it called again? Footsie? Is that a couple thing? He wants to text Kuroo for advice, but he can't bring himself to move his hands down to his pockets. They remain wrapped tightly around his bowl, even if they're starting to shake from how cold they are. He doesn't want to give Akaashi the wrong idea. He doesn't want to make it awkward.

. . . But is he already making it awkward? He's not talking as much as he normally is — does Akaashi think he's bored? Or annoyed? Oh god, what if Akaashi himself is bored? What if he wants to leave? Koutarou doesn't want him to leave, but he can't really stop him if Akaashi decides to get up and leave him forever; he can imagine it now: bokuto-san, i don't like you—

"Bokuto-san. "

Here it comes. Koutarou resists the urge to squeeze his eyes shut and brace for impact. "Yeah?"

"Are you alright?" Koutarou looks up at Akaashi's face, and instantly regrets it. He feels like an arrow is going through his heart. "You seem tense."

"Um, yeah, I—" he tries, but starts talking too fast, and stumbles over his words. What then comes out is a weird jumble of yeah and okay. He closes his mouth, face flushing, and takes a deep breath before trying again, "I'm nervous. I've . . . never been on a d-date before." He can barely even say the word date. What if it's not a date and they're just friends? Then what will he do?

Akaashi swirls his spoon around his whipped cream. Then, he smiles a little. "I haven't, either. I suppose this is a first for both of us?"

So it is a date. Koutarou releases a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding in. "Yeah. I'm happy, though."

Akaashi's ears go a little pink, and he glances away, out the window. "It's a good day for ice cream, huh? It's hot out."

Onto weather . . . a concept Koutarou is very passionate about. "Yeah. Global warming."

Akaashi immediately looks back over at him, an amused look on his face. He furrows his eyebrows. "What?"

"Y'know," Koutarou says, "global warming . . . climate change. It just keeps getting hotter! The ozone layer is deter . . . deteror—deterating!"

"Deteriorating. "

"That's what I said! Anyway, haven't you noticed it just keeps getting warmer and warmer every year? There's nothing to protect us from the sun! We are all going to burn up and die."

Akaashi raises an eyebrow, and then lifts up a spoonful of his ice cream. "Not if my ice cream has anything to say about it."

"Can your ice cream save you from the steadily increasing temperature of Earth?"

"As a matter of fact—" Akaashi pops his spoon into his mouth and sucks on it, "—it can," he finishes around a mouthful of cream. 

"How so?"

"By keeping me cool and staying delicious."

"Your whipped cream is a metaphor for how the corporations are keeping a lockdown on planet Earth and killing us all by suppressing us. Seriously, who needs that much whipped cream?"

Akaashi responds by swiping up some of the cream with his finger and wiping it on Koutarou's nose. Koutarou goes cross-eyed trying to look down at it, and when he glances back up, Akaashi is trying not to smile and laugh.

"Oh, so you wanna play it that way, huh?"

Before Akaashi can do anything about it, Koutarou reaches over to one of the other tables and steals their salt shaker, and dumps it all over the rest of Akaashi's ice cream. The latter gasps in shock, his eyes going wide at the sight before him. Koutarou slams the salt shaker back onto the table triumphantly, but when he sees Akaashi's face he worries he may have gone too far. Akaashi stares at his ice cream for a long time, before picking up his spoon and dipping it into the ice cream. He takes a spoonful and shoves it in his mouth, making intense eye contact with the other, but it falters as soon as the taste of salt hits his tongue. He gags, and grabs a napkin so he can spit into it. Koutarou laughs.

"I don't think your ice cream can protect you anymore."

Akaashi looks up at him. "Are you going to let me burn now?"

"No," Koutarou replies, "I'll be the one protecting you from now on."

"And how are you going to do that?"

"I'll buy you another ice cream."

And as Akaashi downs his second bowl of ice cream, this time salt-less, their feet start drifting towards one another, and their next bantering becomes a fierce competition of who can get the other's shoe off first.



They end up going into the nearest dollar store and making fools of themselves in the toy aisle. They toss the bouncy balls back and forth so much that it eventually hits one of the aisles and knocks at least five whoopee cushions onto the floor. That, combined with the slam of the ball, garners a lot of attention towards them. They're both embarrassed, but they try to play it off, and pick up everything they had knocked off.

In the midst of figuring out where everything goes, they end up playing with the different toy guns, despite the fact that they're all still in the box. One of them is in the shape of a cartoon character, and the one Akaashi picks up lights up and makes noises.

A worker soon comes up and politely but nervously asks them to leave. They do, but not without buying the light-up gun first.



"Do you think your cousins would like it?" Akaashi asks, twirling the gun around his fingers.

"Probably," Koutarou snorts. "We have so many toy guns already. I think my aunt and uncle are tired of picking up darts."

"Well," Akaashi says, "my parents would never let me have something like this in the house."

"Then I'll keep it at mine," Koutarou offers, "for when you come over. We can have our epic battle then."

"Me versus you and all your cousins?"

"No. We'd be on the same team, of course. I think we work the best when we're together."

Koutarou wishes he could take a picture of the way Akaashi blushes then.

"Yes, well . . . I think so too."

He almost passes out when Akaashi reaches out to lace their fingers together.



On the doorstep to Akaashi's house, neither of them really want to leave. At least, Koutarou hopes that Akaashi doesn't want to leave. It'd be pretty awkward if Koutarou was the only antsy one around here. 

But he hopes he isn't reading too much into it, and that the hesitance of Akaashi opening his front door means that he wants to stay with him a little longer. He hopes that the shifting of his weight from left to right means some sort of anticipation. Even if he promised his parents he'd be home before it got too dark, he doesn't want to give Akaashi up too soon. Curfew is homophobic.

"Bokuto-san, " Akaashi suddenly says in a rush. He closes the door that had been slightly opened and turns back towards to face Koutarou. "I—I had a good time. Thanks for taking me out."

Koutarou flushes head to toe. "Y-you're—welcome! I had fun too!" He's well aware he's shouting, but he couldn't possibly calm down enough to control his volume now.

They both stand there in awkward silence. He hates to leave it at this. He doesn't want Akaashi to go, even though he knows they'll be texting tonight, that he'll see him at school, that this won't be the end of their friendship-turned-budding-romance.

Akaashi's face is only getting redder, and he walks over a few steps. He's standing at the second to last step whereas Koutarou stands on the ground. He's now taller than Koutarou by an inch or two. His eyes look anywhere but his face. His hands, however, reach up to grab onto Koutarou's cheeks. "I like you a lot, Bokuto-san, " he then says.

Koutarou might actually fall over now. His eyes are wide, and he can't move. "I—I like you too," he says, and his voice is softer now. His heart has jumped to his throat. He wants to reach out and hug Akaashi, but he can't move. He's rooted to the ground.

Akaashi swallows, bites his lip, and then leans in to kiss him. It's gentle, light, and only for a moment, as Akaashi pulls away as quickly as he had done it. Koutarou's eyes are still shut when the faint pressure leaves, and when he flutters them open, Akaashi is turning around and almost rushing back up to his front door.

"Wait, Akaashi—"

"I'll see you later, Bokuto-san. " He opens the door and steps inside, peeking out from the other side. "I'll—I'll text you."

". . . A-alright."

They stare at each other a moment longer, and then Akaashi closes the door. The silence that follows is deafening.

Koutarou mechanically turns around and starts to walk away, and he waits until he's two blocks down from the door, completely out of sight, before he does his victory dance. He jumps in the air, whoops loudly, and whips out his phone to text Kuroo to tell him of his achievements.




18:44 ] bedhead maniac: THAT SOUNDS LIKE A VICTORY TO ME!



When he's home, he has to fight off his cousins to keep the toy gun on him. He eventually locks it in a drawer in his room. A spare one, completely empty, just in case they go further and do actual couple things — like Akaashi staying over, and having clothes at his house, and eating dinner at his house, and Akaashi staying over.

(Or . . . he already said that, didn't he?

Doesn't matter. It's gonna happen. He swears it.)

His grin doesn't leave his face all night.