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Prolong the Inevitable (I Know This Isn't Real)

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It started like any Friday evening: with movie night.

Friday movie nights were a time honored tradition in the Kei-Tadashi friendship, from about six months into their friendship, all the way through their third year of high school. Kei hoped it would continue further than that, but he never told Yamaguchi.

“I'm picking the movie!” Yamaguchi declared, hopping onto the couch and grabbing the remote before Kei had a chance.

“What? No, you picked last week,” Kei argued, grabbing for the remote.

“Sorry, Tsukki! You snooze, you lose!” Yamaguchi laughed and leaned away from Kei with the remote.

“You'll pick a shitty movie.”

“I am not rewatching Jurassic Park for the five hundredth time, Tsukki!” Yamaguchi argued, continuing to curl himself around the remote. “I wanna watch a romcom!”

“Fuck you!” Kei reached around Yamaguchi for the remote, but Yamaguchi elbowed him in the side.

“No! Go make popcorn, Tsukki! You're not winning this one!”

Kei figured the best plan of attack was to sit on his friend, as that usually worked in his favor.

“What about a documentary?” Kei asked, as though his knees weren't digging into Yamaguchi’s back.

“Get off of me!” Yamaguchi said instead, trying to shake Kei off.

Kei barely registered the front door opening as he wrestled Yamaguchi for the remote.

“Kei, be nice to Tadashi-kun,” Akiteru called as he walked in.

Hmm. Kei hadn’t realized he'd be home this weekend.

Yamaguchi took Kei's momentary surprise to push him onto the floor and press play on a romcom.

Kei pretended to glare, which just made Yamaguchi smile wider.

“You'll like it,” Yamaguchi said, “promise!”

 

Kei liked the movie.

It wasn't unique or particularly interesting, but he appreciated the use of misunderstandings for comedy instead of drama, like it would be in most things.

“It's a romantic comedy, Tsukki! Obviously the focus would be on comedy and not drama!” Yamaguchi pointed out.

“Yeah, but you know how these things go. They hate each other, they fake date, they fall in love, they think it's unrequited, drama, boring, lame.”

“So, what made this one special?” Yamaguchi teased, picking up the empty popcorn bags.

Kei rolled his eyes. “They were friends, not strangers, and the misunderstandings only caused minimal unnecessary drama.”

“And it was gay,” Yamaguchi teased, sticking out his tongue.

“I get it, I guess,” Kei mused. “Pretending to date your best friend to come out to your family. Seems like it would lighten the blow, divert from unnecessary drama.”

“Uh-oh,” Yamaguchi laughed, “Tsukki's having ideas.”

“I wouldn't do it,” Kei muttered. “I just get why someone would.”

 

Kei definitely understood it, when his parents started to tease him and Yamaguchi at dinner, asking about girls. He knew if he just came out, this sort of thing would stop.

When he and Yamaguchi were back in his room, he considered mentioning it.

“You really want to tell them,” Yamaguchi said before Kei even opened his mouth. “But you’re not sure they'll be happy about it.”

Kei rolled his eyes. “So what? They'll have to get used to it eventually. And anyways…”

“You're not quite ready?” Yamaguchi gathered, sitting next to Kei on the bed. “That's okay.”

“I just want–” Kei pursed his lips. “I want them to stop acting like it's the end of the world that I’m not seeing anyone.”

Yamaguchi hummed, thoughtful. “They're just worried about you not being able to express and process feelings, I think.”

“Whatever,” Kei sighed, falling back. “I'm going to sleep.”

“Okay,” Yamaguchi laughed. “Goodnight, Tsukki!”

 

In the morning, Kei reached a conclusion.

“Yamaguchi, be my fake boyfriend.”

Yamaguchi choked on his hot coffee until some came out his nose. “Be your what now?!”

Kei handed him a napkin. “Sorry.”

Once Yamaguchi was breathing normally again, he took a deep breath. “Tsukki, we watched an entire movie last night about why that's a bad idea.”

Kei nodded, slow and uncertain. “You're right. It's stupid. I just thought– no. It's stupid, right?”

Yamaguchi picked his coffee mug back up. “Tsukki…”

“I shouldn't even care. If they know I’m gay, they'll just be asking me why I don't have a boyfriend instead.” Kei shook his head and sat on his floor next to Yamaguchi. “It's stupid.”

“But they wouldn't do that…if they thought we were together.” Yamaguchi tapped his fingers against his mug, absently.

“It's stupid,” Kei repeated. “Forget I said anything.”

“They wouldn't believe it, anyways,” Yamaguchi pointed out, nose scrunching up with thought.

“Why not?”

“Well, no one tells their parents about a significant other right away,” Yamaguchi began. “If there's no build up, they'll just think you’re lying to get them off your back. Especially with how much time we spend together.”

Kei groaned, leaning back against his bed. “I guess you're right.”

“But,” Yamaguchi continued, chewing his bottom lip. Kei averted his eyes so he wouldn't look too long. “I'm guessing that you’re not ready to come out like, this week.”

Kei looked up again. “Well, not really…”

A smile tugged at Yamaguchi’s lips. “Then, we've got at least a month to lay the groundwork!”

Kei gaped at him. “What?”

“I'll do it!” Yamaguchi decided. “I'll be the best fake boyfriend you'll ever have!”

“Hopefully, you'll be the only fake boyfriend I ever have…” Kei mumbled.

“We should plan,” Yamaguchi said, exchanging his coffee for a notebook and pencil. “Just to make sure it's seamless, not too forced, and not too sudden.”

“Won't a plan make it seem forced?” Kei pointed out.

“Maybe,” Yamaguchi hummed, “but I think the benefits outweigh the costs. I want to do this right!”

Kei wanted to punch himself in the face, just a little, because he put himself into this situation. Maybe he'd been hoping Yamaguchi would agree that it was stupid and they could move on. Yeah, he wanted to come out to his family, and yeah, he'd like them off his back, but…

Your fake boyfriend is the person you wish was you real boyfriend. Idiot.

While Yamaguchi planned, Kei allowed himself three minutes to wallow in self-pity.

Yamaguchi was doing something nice for him, that was going to take a lot of commitment on both their ends, so Kei couldn't sulk. Not when he was the one who’d asked in the first place. But the implication of being any sort of intimate with his oldest friend and have it mean nothing – he wanted to dig himself a hole and never come out. (Both figuratively and literally.)

“How does this look so far?” Yamaguchi slid the notebook over to Kei.

My Calculus notebook, great, he noted. Now I'll want to die even more when I'm in math.

He scanned the page to see just what he’d gotten himself into.

 

 

Operation: Fake Dating!

  • Step 1. Get used to fake dating.
  • Step 2. Convince our friends.
  • Step 3. Be more couple-y when parents are home.
  • Step 4. Tell Tsukki’s parents.

Rules:

 

“Why are the rules blank?” Kei asked.

Yamaguchi scratched the back of his head and laughed. “Well, I didn’t know what lines you weren’t willing to cross. Like, if you didn’t wanna kiss me, I’d understand.”

Kei frowned. “Yeah, I’m sure my parents would really buy that. I’m dating you, who’s here all the time, but we never kiss.”

Yamaguchi started chewing his lip again. “So…all cards on the table, then?”

“Not…not all cards,” Kei mumbled, clearing his throat.

“Well – obviously we wouldn’t do that,” Yamaguchi squeaked out. “That’s not even… obviously, Tsukki!”

“Just making sure.” He frowned at the first step. “How do we get used to it.”

“Doing couple-y things in private,” Yamaguchi said with more confidence than Kei thought he should have.

“Like what? Holding hands and going on dates?” Kei snorted.

Yamaguchi nodded, offering his hand. Kei stared at it for a second too long before finally taking it.

“And well…” Yamaguchi looked away, suddenly shy. “If you’re not taking kissing off the table, then we’ll need to practice some. No one will believe we like each other if it looks stiff and like you’re being forced to kiss your auntie at a family reunion, you know?”

Kei felt his ears heat up, but he did his best to keep a flat expression. “Okay.”

“Okay?” Yamaguchi double-checked.

“Yeah,” Kei confirmed, against his better judgment. He pulled his hand back. “But first, we need breakfast, and to study. And we’re not…doing anything until my parents leave for the afternoon.”

Yamaguchi hid a laugh behind his hand. “You make it sound so dirty, Tsukki!”

“I’m just following your plan,” Kei grumbled, pulling himself to his feet. “Don’t want them to walk in on anything too soon, right? Even though that would be a lot easier than having a conversation with them…”

“Not a chance in hell, Tsukki,” Yamaguchi chided. “And besides, that would just lead to a more awkward conversation.”

“And what’s that?” Kei groaned.

“Instead of having the awkward, I’m gay, talk, you get to have your very straight parents try to explain gay sex to you!”

Kei blanched. “You’re right, I don’t want that at all.”

“Didn’t think so!” Yamaguchi jumped up and patted Kei’s head. “Let’s get breakfast!”

“Do you think you could’ve said gay sex literally any louder, by the way? Because that’s another surefire way to open that can of worms,” Kei complained.

“Sorry, Tsukki!”

 

When Kei neared the end of his homework for the weekend, he could feel himself slow down. He took too long double-checking answers, wrote more slowly and neatly than he really cared to, all because when homework was done…

He was such an idiot. Really, he should’ve known Yamaguchi would take matters into his own hands and overthink the whole ordeal. Kei should’ve just planned a normal way to come out to his parents, whatever the consequences.

“Tsukki, are you done yet?” Yamaguchi groaned from the bed. “I wanna get this over with so we can play video games or watch a movie.”

Get this over with. Kei tried not to flinch, but he couldn’t help the frown tugging at his lips. Good thing his desk faced away from his bed. He couldn’t afford Yamaguchi seeing all the conflicted emotions he was going through.

Honestly, Kei had probably gone through most of the five stages of grief just since that morning. Denial that it was even happening, anger at himself for being such an idiot, depression because Yamaguchi definitely only sees him as a friend after all of this, and now he was at bargaining. Maybe, he could convince Yamaguchi that they didn’t have to kiss to be dating. Asahi and Noya didn’t kiss, and they were the grossest, sappiest couple Kei knew. But he knew that wasn’t the issue, the issue was people buying it.

The only reason everyone bought Asahi and Noya was because it was so obvious how in love they were. Yamaguchi and Kei didn’t have anything like that. Or, well, Kei did, but Yamaguchi clearly didn’t feel the same.

A light touch on his shoulder brought Kei out of his thoughts.

“Tsukki, are you okay?”

He hadn’t even heard Yamaguchi get up.

“Because it’s okay if you’re nervous,” Yamaguchi continued, “or if this will be your first kiss…?”

Kei’s ears burned, and he refused to even glance at Yamaguchi.

“Or, if you don’t want to do this, and you’d rather tell your parents in a normal way,” Yamaguchi said, squeezing Kei’s shoulder. “You know I’m all for that.”

Kei realized Yamaguchi’s embarrassing suggestions were probably designed to make Kei not want to go through with it. Usually, that was how it would’ve gone; Kei wasn’t like the King or the shrimp, and he didn’t feel the need to rise to every ridiculous challenge he was presented with. But, that was what this was, right? A challenge?

And Kei didn’t usually feel the need to rise to stupid challenges, but the thing was that he really wanted to kiss Yamaguchi, even if it was a terrible idea.

“It’s just embarrassing,” he gritted out, as if Yamaguchi didn’t already know, as if Kei wasn’t just reaching the fifth and final stage of grief: acceptance.

Yamaguchi laughed, and his hand gently picked up Kei’s. “It’s not so bad, you know! You could be doing this with Hinata or Kageyama.”

Kei pulled a face. “That would be so much worse,” he agreed, opting out of paying attention to the warmth of their palms now pressed together. “I can’t just tell my parents. They’ll either think I’m lying, to get them off my back, or they’ll completely overreact.”

“You don’t know that Tsukki–”

Kei finally turned to look at Yamaguchi. “Yes. I do. So, let’s just get this over with?”

Yamaguchi nodded, then slowly pulled their joined hands up towards his face. “It’s not as bad as you’re expecting, I’m sure.”

When Yamaguchi’s lips brushed Kei’s knuckles, Kei did all he could to keep his face from reacting. There was nothing he could do about the heat rushing his cheeks, but he could maintain his disinterested expression. Yeah, he could do that much.

“See,” Yamaguchi laughed, scratching his head with his free hand. “Not so bad, right?”

“Yeah,” Kei said, cursing the way his voice broke. Yamaguchi didn’t seem to notice, though.

“Alright, so,” Yamaguchi said, bending forward a bit. “Uh…lay one on me.”

Kei tried to calm his breathing, then leaned in.

“Any day now, Tsukki,” Yamaguchi teased, and that did it.

Kei brought their lips together in a quick, closed mouth kissed, pulling away before he even had a chance to think about what it was like, kissing his best friend.

And he’d assumed that was fine, that was what they were going for, except Yamaguchi started giggling again.

“What?” Kei groaned.

“Tsukki, come on! It’s like you were being forced to kiss some old auntie you don’t remember at a family reunion. No one would think that was anywhere close to a romantic kiss,” Yamaguchi laughed, leaning on Kei’s desk to support himself. “That was like, a friend kiss. A very, very platonic friend kiss.” Yamaguchi burst into another fit of giggles, and Kei felt like his face was on fire.

“How would you know, anyways,” Kei grumbled, looking away.

“Because I’ve platonically kissed Yachi, and since she’s too gay for it to be romantic, it’s very much like that just was,” Yamaguchi explained, trying to stop his laughter. “I know we’re not really in love, but you’re gonna have to try harder if you want anyone to believe–”

Kei wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe, it was the little voice in his head saying, Yamaguchi kissed Yachi, on a loop. Or, maybe it was the way Yamaguchi was looking cute, biting his lip to stifle his laughter. Either way, he scoffed and pushed himself up out of the chair, a hand to Yamaguchi’s waist as he pushed him against the desk.

Yamaguchi’s eyes widened before he huffed a final laugh. “Yeah, that might be more convincing.”

Kei brought a hand up to the side of Yamaguchi’s face. “This isn’t my first kiss.”

“Okay,” Yamaguchi said, tilting his head up in a silent challenge.

Kei could almost hear it. It’s not too late to back out, Tsukki, his kind eyes seemed to scream. You don’t have to do this.

“Is this okay?” Kei asked when their noses touched.

Yamaguchi’s eyes seemed to be falling closed against his best efforts. “Yeah.”

Kei leaned in, brushing his lips against Yamaguchi’s, less stiff than the first time, but just as quick. Even as he pulled away, some invisible force pulled him back in, kissing harder and deeper, pushing Yamaguchi into the desk so hard that Yamaguchi shifted to sit on top of it. And despite this being so much, way too much, Yamaguchi kissed Kei back like there was nothing he’d rather be doing.

Kei moved his hand from Yamaguchi’s cheek to his hair, thinking about how long it was getting, silently hoping Yamaguchi didn’t plan on cutting it any time soon. When Yamaguchi’s hands finally came up to cup Kei’s jaw, touch his shoulders, his arms, his chest his hair, for a moment, he forgot the situation he’d just gotten himself into.

He tried not to focus on that, though, because right then, Yamaguchi’s tongue was in his mouth and if putting himself through emotional hell for a month or so meant also doing this for a month or so, well. It seemed worth it.

Or, it did, up until suddenly his bedroom door was opening and his brother was saying, “Kei, have you and Tadashi had lunch yet– oh my god!”

Kei and Yamaguchi jumped apart, Yamaguchi nearly falling onto the floor with Kei no longer there to stabilize him. Meanwhile, Kei’s mind went into overdrive trying to figure out how to fix the absolutely horrifying situation he’d just been faced with. His thoughts were backed by the sound of Akiteru slamming the door shut and yelling, I didn’t see anything, from the hall.

This…was not the plan.

“We tell nii-san,” Kei said simply, fixing his shirt and his hair, and schooling his expression. “Okay?”

Yamaguchi nodded. “I don’t think I’d feel comfortable lying to him,” he agreed, fixing himself. “Um, especially not after–”

Kei grunted his agreement, not wanting to address what had probably just become the biggest elephant in the room.

“Nii-san,” he said, trying to stay as calm as possible when he opened the door.

Akiteru stood in the hallway, sheet white, staring blankly like he’d just seen a ghost.

“We should talk, Aki-nii,” Yamaguchi said, surprisingly calm and collected.

Right, Kei remembered, that was just practice, and not an emotional experience for him.

Akiteru opened his mouth to speak, then snapped it back closed. Kei understood. He’d feel equally horrified if he walked in on Akiteru making out with someone. Except, to be fair, Kei had the decency to knock. Seriously, what kind of idiot just walked into a teenage boy’s room without warning? Did Akiteru have some kind of death wish or something?

Yamaguchi took Akiteru’s arm and gently tugged him into Kei’s room. Akiteru sat on the bed, Kei took the desk chair, and Yamaguchi hopped up on the desk.

“We’re not dating,” Yamaguchi began after no less than three silent minutes, trying to get Akiteru to meet his eye.

“Okay,” Akiteru said, absently and somewhat confused.

Kei sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m gay.”

Akiteru nodded slowly. “Okay.”

“I want our parents to stop asking me about girls. I want to come out to them.”

“Okay…”

“So, we thought,” Yamaguchi picked back up, “that if we pretend to date, maybe it would take the stress out of the situation. I mean, your parents already like me, so it might be easier to process Tsukki being gay!”

“That doesn’t explain–” Akiteru cut himself off, shifting uncomfortably.

“Practice,” Kei said flatly. “I think our parents would be a little suspicious that Yamaguchi spends so much time here, we claim we’ve been dating, and yet there’s been absolutely no change in how we act around each other.”

Akiteru nodded, but there was an unmistakable look in his eyes that said, we’ll talk about this later.

 

Since Kei’s door was open this time, Akiteru invited himself in, closed the door, and sat beside him on the bed.

“Kei, we should talk about what’s going on with you and Tadashi,” Akiteru began, his earlier horror seemingly forgotten.

“We did,” Kei said, continuing to scroll through his phone. “Yamaguchi will pretend to be my boyfriend for a little while to make it easier to come out to our parents.”

“That’s not how you kiss someone you’re only pretending to like,” Akiteru said, turning to face Kei. “As much as I didn’t want to see it with my own two eyes like that, I always kind of figured…it’d be you two, in the end.”

Kei clicked his tongue. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I can tell that you like him,” Akiteru sighed. “Which is why I think what you’re doing is equal parts selfish and stupid.”

“I don’t recall asking for your opinion,” Kei said, “and it’s none of your business.”

“Hey, you’re almost an adult. You can do what you want,” Akiteru said, holding his hands up defensively. “But if Tadashi thinks that this is only fake for you, then it’s never going to be real. Why only pretend to be his boyfriend, when you could have the real thing with the same result?”

Kei pursed his lips, fingers pausing over his phone screen. “He doesn’t see me like that.”

Akiteru rolled his eyes. “Yeah. I’ll pretend to believe that.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kei asked, looking at his brother for the first time.

“It means,” Akiteru began, chopping Kei on the head like he did when they were younger, “that of all the guys I’ve kissed, I only would’ve let the ones I liked kiss me like that.”

“Tch, I told you, that was just–” Kei’s voice died out as his eyes widened.

“Oh, right,” said, standing to his feet. “I must not have mentioned. I get it, because I’m bi.”

Kei gaped at him, not sure what to say.

“And I have a boyfriend – a real boyfriend,” Akiteru continued. “So, if you wanted to lighten the blow, we could’ve done this together. I’d invite him for dinner, and we’d both tell ka-san and to-san.”

That snapped Kei out of his surprise. “What? By giving them both a heart attack? Are you stupid or something?”

“Still, we could’ve done this together. And we still can. You shouldn’t get caught up in this charade with Tadashi, though.” Akiteru ruffled Kei’s hair. “I care about you both too much, and I can tell this won’t end well.”

Kei shrugged his brother off, pointedly looking back down at his phone. “I want to meet your boyfriend, you know.”

“You will.”

“He’d better not be an asshole.”

Akiteru laughed, loud and bright. “He isn’t, I promise.”

Kei gritted his teeth; he knew what Akiteru was waiting for. “I’ll…keep you in the loop, about me and Yamaguchi. Or whatever.”

“That’s all I’m asking,” Akiteru said, smile softening. “And by the way, if you want anyone to believe you’re together, you should probably figure out something to call him besides him family name, don’t you think?”

“He still calls me Tsukki,” Kei argued.

“That’s a cute nickname that only Tadashi is allowed to use,” Akiteru pointed out. “Think about it. Goodnight, Kei.”

Kei’s nose scrunched up like he’d just smelled something awful, but he replied, “Goodnight, nii-san,” anyways.

 

On Monday, when Kei met with Yamaguchi to walk to school, he thought about what Akiteru had said, and, unfortunately, he was right.

“Yamaguchi.”

Yamaguchi smiled at him, although it looked a little off. Not that Kei blamed him; it would’ve been weirder if he wasn’t at least a little awkward after what happened on Saturday.

“Nii-san…pointed out that no one will believe we’re dating if I always call you by your family name,” Kei grumbled out. “You can still call me what you usually do, because you’re the only person allowed to do it anyways.”

Yamaguchi tilted his head. “So, what do you want to call me instead? Just Tadashi?”

Kei felt like his face was on fire, but he shrugged. “If you think that’s the best option.”

“There’s not a lot of options,” Yamaguchi laughed. “I can call you Kei sometimes, if that will help.”

Right, because I’m not already suffering enough. “Whatever.”

Yamaguchi’s smile looked more normal, though, which relieved some of the tension, so Kei couldn’t really be upset about any of it.

“Should we hold hands?” Yamaguchi asked. “You know, practice?”

Who the hell needs to practice holding hands? Kei thought, but he let his best friend lace their fingers together anyways.

“Are we planning to tell anyone on the team, or at school?” Yamaguchi asked. “I don’t want to push you, if you’re not ready.”

“I don’t care what they think anyways. We should get used to putting on an act for everyone anyways, right?”

Yamaguchi smiled and squeezed his hand. “Yeah!”

 

While Kei didn’t plan to tell the team outright that he and his co-captain were dating, he figured he could make some sort of effort to show them something was clearly different. Yamaguchi agreed; building up to it seemed like the best idea. So, while they mostly carried on as usual, other than hand-holding, after Yamaguchi was done practicing his serves, Kei decided to step it up a notch.

He noticed Yamaguchi was shaking his hand, like it stung a bit from practice, which gave Kei the perfect opportunity. He took Yamaguchi’s hand, red palm up.

“Tsu-Tsukki?” Yamaguchi squeaked, watching with wide eyes as Kei pressed a gentle kiss to his palm.

“Don’t overwork yourself,” Kei said, and then remembered to tag on, “Tadashi.”

He did his best to ignore his team’s eyes burning into them, walking over to his water for a quick drink before returning to practice. He couldn’t ignore, however, what the idiot duo had to say about it.

“I told you they were dating, Yamayama! Pay up!”

“What? No way! That doesn’t prove anything! Shut up and practice the new quick, dumbass!”

“You just don’t wanna admit you were wrong, Bakageyama! You know I’m right!”

“Would you morons shut up,” Kei growled as he walked past. “We’re dating, and it’s none of your business.”

Yamaguchi gaped at him. “That’s how you’re telling them?”

Kei shrugged. “I didn’t want to hear them fighting about it.”

“Okay…”

 

Fake dating your best friend, as it would turn out, had more perks than just getting to make out with the love of your life or getting your parents off your back. Kei finally had a good excuse to turn down the girls who would confess to him (even though they’d literally never spoken before).

“Sorry,” he said to the one who’d approached him that very day. “I’m already seeing someone.”

“You are?” she asked, looking absolutely crestfallen.

Without prompting, there was an arm around his waist. “Tsukki, you ready to head back to class?”

The girl’s mouth fell into an oh, before she turned red and bowed. “My apologies! You two make a very cute couple!”

Once she was gone, Kei snickered.

“You shouldn’t laugh, Tsukki, that’s just mean,” Yamaguchi whined, leaning further into Kei’s side.

There wasn’t anyone around to see the act, but it didn’t really matter.

“Come on, she doesn’t even know me. She’ll be over it by tomorrow,” Kei said. “It’s just funny, because I didn’t realize I’d be getting an easy way out of confessions now.”

Yamaguchi tried to frown, but his own laugh betrayed him. “You’re such a bully, Tsukki.”

“You’re no better,” Kei laughed, pinching Yamaguchi’s nose. “Let’s go back to class.”

 

Being in class, however, was proving more and more challenging as the day dragged on. All of the weekend’s homework was now associated with what had quite possibly been some of the best kissing of Kei’s short life. And now, as he tried to remember how to calculate an expression with imaginary numbers, his eyes drifted across the classroom to Yamaguchi.

It wasn’t like this was the first time ever that he’d found himself staring at his childhood friend. He’d been in love with Yamaguchi since middle school, and obviously he stared a lot. Maybe not as much as your typical pining Shoujo protagonist, but enough that he knew it was probably too much. This felt different, now.

It wasn’t just fleeting glances to see if his best friend was suffering through this period as much as he was, occasionally meeting eyes and trying not to laugh. Honestly, they were probably more disruptive instead of less, every time a teacher separated them, but it didn’t matter. He wasn’t even just admiring Yamaguchi’s face of concentration – which, disgustingly romantic as it sounded, was beautiful enough on its own.

Kei felt his eyes trail over Yamaguchi’s face and down to his lips no less than seventeen times over the course of the day. He might’ve been subconsciously biting his own, weirdly needy to feel Yamaguchi’s against his again. It was weird.

He’d only ever kissed 1) Kuroo, at training camp in his first-year, because he was sad and touch-starved and Kuroo was too, and 2) Akaashi, at training camp in his second-year, because Akaashi was cute and he wanted to. Both of those experiences, while admittedly great and still made Kei’s brain short-circuit to think about, never left him like this. Wanting – needing – more. Those two had just been enough to satiate his curiosity. But with Yamaguchi? He was craving it like he craved shortcake.

It was to the point where he just wanted, wanted. What, he wasn’t sure. An empty classroom to push Yamaguchi onto other desk and French him again? Alone time so he didn’t have to think about this stupid rouse? Just to hold hands with Yamaguchi, for like, two seconds?

God, I’m such a fucking touch-starved gay trope.

 

When Yamaguchi met Kei to walk home together, there was a different sort of tension in the air than there had been that morning. There was a distance between them now, with no one there to see, and while part of Kei hated it, he was also grateful. If he touched Yamaguchi right then, even by accident, every molecule in his body would probably explode.

Yamaguchi didn’t seem to be fairing much better, which nearly gave Kei hope for the future. Surely you didn’t just get that heated over someone you didn’t have feelings for, right? Or, maybe Yamaguchi was touch starved too. That would make enough sense.

“Yours or mine?” Kei asked, trying to keep his voice neutral.

Yamaguchi shrugged, feigning disinterest. “My parents won’t be home until almost ten…”

They made brief eye contact before turning down Yamaguchi’s street, and if they both picked up the pace, no one needed to know that.

Kei felt like he was going to implode, just waiting for Yamaguchi to unlock the door. He knew how this would go, or at least, how it should go. They would go inside, get something to eat, and head up to Yamaguchi’s room. They would sit at the low table and work on homework for about an hour before ultimately Kei wanted to drill his own brain out, so they’d take a break and watch YouTube together. Then, they’d finish their homework, watch more videos, eat dinner, and one of them would go home.

That was their routine: safe, comfortable, normal.

When Yamaguchi headed into the kitchen to grab study snacks, Kei worked on shutting down his raging hormones. Everything seemed to be proceeding as usual, despite the tension hanging thick in the air. They headed up to Yamaguchi’s room. Still normal.

“What do you wanna work on first?” Yamaguchi asked, pulling out his binder. “I kinda wanted to start with chemistry, if that’s okay?”

“Sure,” Kei said, matching Yamaguchi’s tone. Alright, two could play at the ignoring the tension game.

That was the first break in routine: Yamaguchi sat on the same side of the table as Kei. There was plenty of room, but usually, Yamaguchi sat on the other side of the table. Now, Kei was hyperaware of their proximity, doing his best not to bump elbows, lest he do something completely impulsive. For instance, pushing his best friend onto the table and making out with him again. Or, you know. Something like that.

They worked together, efficient as always, but this time, instead of just the usual distraction when Yamaguchi stuck his tongue out while he worked or pushed his hair behind his ears, everything was more. Because even under the unfavorable pretenses, Kei could technically do something, instead of just look. God, he really wanted to do something. He wanted to take every advantage of this situation before it was ripped away from him, never to be talked about again.

But that wasn’t fair to Yamaguchi. He was already using his friend, which was shitty enough of him. Kei couldn’t justify taking every opportunity to make out with his best friend, even if that was all he really wanted to do. So, he sucked it up and continued to do homework.

Well, you know, until he ultimately wanted to drill his own brain out, so they took a break.

“I feel like my brain is melting,” he groaned, slamming his head on the table.

“We can take a break,” Yamaguchi said, reaching for his water bottle and taking a slow sip. “We actually finished like half of our homework; I’m impressed! You’re getting better at focusing.”

No, I just don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of you.

“Wanna watch something?” Yamaguchi offered, holding out his phone.

“Sure.” Even though that means I’ll have to get even closer to you.

They scooted closer to share the screen, the entire sides of their bodies touching. Kei tried to ignore the burning at every point of contact and focus on the video. Except, he was focusing so hard on focusing on the video, that he wasn’t even sure what was going on. He glanced at Yamaguchi, just to find Yamaguchi was already looking.

Their eyes met, and Kei’s breath caught in his throat. Maybe, it had just been a really good kiss. Maybe, if I kiss him again, we’ll realize we can never recreate whatever happened there. Maybe–

“Tsukki,” Yamaguchi began, already starting to lean in.

“Yeah?” Kei felt like literal gravity was drawing them together, and– ew, that was disgustingly romantic again. What was happening to him?

“We should probably practice kissing more regularly,” Yamaguchi said, bumping their noses together. “Because if we’re alone together, studying, a real couple would kiss during study breaks.”

Relief washed over Kei like an ocean – finally, an excuse.

“You’re so right,” Kei agreed. His hands practically moved on their own, one to Yamaguchi’s cheek and the other to his waist, wasting no time pulling him into another kiss.

And, yeah, okay, so their obvious chemistry hadn’t been a one-time thing. Because as soon as their lips touched, Kei was on fire again, trying and probably failing to keep his desperation out of it. He could chalk it up to a combination of hormones and not having kissed a guy in over a year. Yamaguchi clearly understood, kissing back just as enthusiastic as Kei.

I should probably stop, the rational part of Kei’s brain thought, but it was overruled by the fact that he was already half in Yamaguchi’s lap, and really, Kei might have bitched and moaned about everything that he ever did, but he wasn’t a quitter.

When they pulled apart about thirty minutes later, they were both out of breath and flushed.

“It’s kinda fun,” Yamaguchi said, breaking the silence. “But that was a way longer break than we should’ve taken, so I think we need to set a rule.”

Kei hummed, barely able to keep his eyes open. “Okay.”

“No kissing until homework is done.”

Kei huffed a laugh. “Yeah. Okay. That’s fine.”

“Okay,” Yamaguchi said, pulling his notebook back out.

“No,” Kei said, shaking his head. “You’re going to need to go on the other side of the table, if we’re ever going to finish our homework.”

Yamaguchi laughed. “Am I that irresistible, Tsukki?” Yamaguchi teased, looking up at Kei through his lashes.

God, yes, Kei’s mind screamed. Out loud, he only said, “I don’t trust my hormones, so shoo.”

Yamaguchi rolled his eyes, but he did as he was asked anyways. “Alright. Fine. I’ll just be all lonely over here…”

“You’re being dramatic.” Kei threw an eraser at him.

“So mean, Tsukki,” Yamaguchi pouted. “Is this how you’d treat your real boyfriend?”

Kei forced down a smile as he opened up his English notes. “Shut up, Yamaguchi.”

“Sorry, Tsukki!”

 

Steps one and two of Yamaguchi’s plan were more or less accomplished by the end of the first week.

Their friends had all sent their congratulations, saying shit like, about time, or, I thought you were already together, which wasn’t particularly comforting. Still, it helped sell this, at least.

As for being used to fake dating, Kei would say they were. They held hands to and from school and in between classes, Kei wrapped his arms around Yamaguchi’s waist when they were together with friends, and well. There was always the fact that they couldn’t seem to stop kissing whenever they were alone.

“We should join a study group, or something,” Yamaguchi said on Friday morning, adjusting his shirt collar as he tried to hide the damage Kei had done the evening before. “Because while we’ve stuck to nothing until we finish our homework, I think we’ve been rushing our homework.”

Kei bit the inside of his cheek to stifle a laugh and fixed Yamaguchi’s collar for him. “We’ll ask the idiot duo and Yachi at practice, okay?”

Yamaguchi narrowed his eyes, a smile on his lips betraying him. “You like this, you sadistic bastard.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Kei said, eyes ahead as he started the walk to school.

Yamaguchi knocked their shoulders together. “You like how embarrassing it’s going to be for me having to hide what you did,” Yamaguchi hissed. “You’d be so much worse if this was real, I can almost guarantee it.”

“When have I ever taken pleasure from the misery of others?” Kei said innocently.

“Always, and especially when you cause it!” Yamaguchi laughed.

Maybe, Kei conceded as he turned to cup Yamaguchi’s face in his hands. But lately, I seem to be more of a masochist, and he brought their lips together, short and sweet.

 

Movie night was sacred, so Kei resolved to do as he’d always done and not let his feelings get in the way.

He set the bowl of popcorn between them, like always, and ignored Yamaguchi’s pout. I can do this.

“Business as usual, then?” Yamaguchi noted, grabbing a handful of popcorn.

Kei nodded. “Movie night is more important.”

Yamaguchi shrugged. “Okay.”

Kei pressed play and reached for some popcorn himself, ignoring when his hand brushed Yamaguchi’s. That had been happening at movie nights since always. He could do this. The feelings were nothing new to navigate. This was simply Friday movie night.

“Are you okay, Tsukki?” Yamaguchi asked fifteen minutes in, pausing the movie. “Because this isn’t a normal movie night. Where’s the snarky comments? Insulting the poor writing?”

“I’m just kinda tired,” Kei lied, eyes fixed on the frozen screen. “Don’t worry about it.”

“We can call it quits whenever you want, you know,” Yamaguchi said hesitantly, laying a hand on Kei’s shoulder. “We can just go back to normal, fake dating forgotten.”

How could it ever be normal when I finally know what you taste like? “I know, Yamaguchi.” After a beat, “The same goes for you. You’re not obligated to do this.”

“I know,” Yamaguchi said, offering a comforting smile. “Thanks, Tsukki. I’m here for you, okay?”

“Okay.”

Yamaguchi ruffled Kei’s hair before pressing play. “So, first of all, the acting really sucks in this movie…”

 

Later that night, they sat on Kei’s bed, still talking about the week and the movie and the fake dating and, well, everything. It was a normal Tadashi and Kei Movie Night, and Kei couldn’t be more thankful. Sure, Yamaguchi was laying across his lap, but that wasn’t so unusual.

“So, if I wasn’t your first kiss, then who was?” Yamaguchi asked, looking up at Kei. There was no envy or disappointment in his eyes, only humor.

Right. This isn’t real. “You’ll make fun of me,” Kei muttered.

Yamaguchi hummed. “Well, my first kiss was with Hinata.”

Kei stared down at him in shock. “What?”

“Yeah,” Yamaguchi giggled, “it wasn’t very good. We were first-years and it just happened, I guess. Your turn.”

Kei sighed. “Kuroo-san.”

Yamaguchi sat straight up. “I knew it! I knew you liked him! It was training camp first-year, right? I knew he was more than just a senpai!”

“Shut up,” Kei groaned, hitting Yamaguchi with a pillow. “It was just a few times, and it didn’t even mean anything.”

“Sure,” Yamaguchi laughed, winking. “You totally had a crush on him, and I knew it!”

“I also kissed Akaashi-san last year,” Kei blurted out.

Yamaguchi’s jaw dropped. “You what?”

“Yeah…”

Yamaguchi punched him in the arm. “You lucky bastard! You never told me? Fuck you!”

“Tch, I don’t kiss and tell,” Kei said, grabbing Yamaguchi’s wrists so he didn’t get hit again. “I don’t see the point of telling people when it’s not that serious. Week-long flings are nothing to write home about.”

Yamaguchi pouted.

“Don’t give me that, you didn’t tell me either.”

“I guess you’re right,” Yamaguchi sighed, leaning his head against Kei’s chest. “It was just the once though. Every other kiss has been strictly platonic.”

“Yeah.”

Even ours, Kei reminded himself. Even ours.

 

 

Rules:

  • We can’t keep making out every time we’re alone, Tadashi. It’s blurring the lines too much.
  • Movie night is sacred. Until we tell my parents, at least, we have to keep everything normal.

.✫*゚・゚。.☆.*。・゚✫*.