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the art of thanking your friends

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Akira Kunimi isn’t the type of person to make a big deal out of dating someone.
He’s not the type to announce it to everyone, contrary to someone like Oikawa. But he wouldn’t hide it, either.

He’d be the type to show up to practice one day with a girlfriend out of nowhere and admit that they’d been dating for weeks.
Not subtle, but not at all flashy.

But in the four years he’s known Kunimi, Kindaichi can’t even recall the guy mentioning a crush.
Not that it’s any of his business, but he likes to think Kunimi would maybe at least tell him if he was dating someone.
Kindaichi’s pretty sure he’d tell Kunimi if he was dating someone, after all.

Because that’s what best friends do, right?

Though, calling Kunimi his “best friend” sounds strange to Kindaichi, even if it’s true.
He doesn’t have some deep childhood history with Kunimi or anything; they met in junior high when they joined the same volleyball team, and bonded over their mutual dislike for Kageyama.
They weren’t super close, they didn’t grow up together.

After they got partnered up for practice, they began hanging out at school more often and eventually, hung out together outside of school, becoming proper friends.
Kindaichi actually probably wouldn’t have even really thought much of Kunimi if he and Kunimi hadn’t taken the brunt of Kageyama’s anger together.

Even after they became friends, they weren’t particularly close, though. They’d study together, eat lunch together, practice together. Just normal friendly things.

But it wasn’t like Kindaichi had all that many friends to hang around in junior high.
He was charismatic, but not very sociable. And Kunimi definitely wasn’t sociable. Kindaichi thinks Kunimi probably slept through most of the “making friends” steps of school.

They were just the best possible friends for each other at the time; there was no one else around, so they got stuck together.
And then they just… stayed that way.

Kunimi’s quietly stayed by Kindaichi’s side for years, and Kindaichi doesn’t think any other label than “best friend” would describe him correctly, even if it sounds weird.

Kindaichi actually wonders how Kunimi would react if he called Kunimi his best friend to his face. He’s kind of curious about that, actually.

Best friend. Huh.

 

The topic of relationships comes up during practice. Kindaichi’s not completely sure how it got started, but he thinks he heard Yahaba bring it up first, complaining that he didn’t have a girlfriend.

Either way, Oikawa’s bragging about how many girlfriends he’s had (he claims it’s five, but Iwaizumi seems to be disagreeing), and Kindaichi begins to wonder if Kunimi’s ever actually dated anyone.

So he sidles up to Kunimi while the team’s arguing with Oikawa and either complaining or bragging about the number of relationships they’ve been in and nudges his arm, catching his attention.

“Have you ever dated anyone?” Kindaichi asks, picking up a stray ball.
Kunimi glances up, as if thinking for a moment, before he answers, “I had a girlfriend in junior high for a little bit. We broke up pretty soon after we got together, though.”

Kindaichi drops the ball in shock. “In junior high?” he echoes, frowning. “You never told me that!”
Kunimi shrugs indifferently. “We weren’t super close at the time. Besides, it wasn’t that big of a deal, anyway.”

Kindaichi watches as Kunimi fetches the dropped ball before it can roll away too far and tosses it into the ball cart.
“What about you, Kindaichi?” Kunimi asks, raising his eyebrow slightly.

Kindaichi fidgets his fingers awkwardly. “No, I’ve never- I mean, there were girls I liked. But I never dated any of them or anything,” he admits sheepishly.
Kunimi gives him a pitied look before patting him on the shoulder a couple times.
“Wh- hey! Don’t give me that sorry look!” Kindaichi protests.

Yahaba groans from where he stands by the third years. “Man, so even Kunimi’s had a girlfriend? This is seriously so depressing,” he sighs.
Hanamaki grins. “Don’t be so down, Yahaba. We’ve got volleyball to focus on, anyway.”
“You can only say that because you’ve had a girlfriend…”

Oikawa suddenly pipes up from where Iwaizumi has him in a headlock. “If you guys need to know how to attract girls, you need look no further! Now, I’m sure you guys know this, but I happen to be quite popul- ah! Iwa-chan!”

Iwaizumi tightens his grip on Oikawa as he grumbles, “No one’s asking you. Get back to practice.”
“I can’t if you’re holding me like this! Don’t be jealous just because you’ve never had a girlfriend, Iwa-chan!”
“You wanna die today?”

“Anyway,” Hanamaki turns to the rest of the team, “You’d really think the rest of us would be more popular, with how we’re ranked top four.”
Matsukawa sighs pensively, “It’s always Oikawa. He really steals the thunder.”

Yahaba groans, “We need a girl manager. Next to Oikawa-san, everyone else kind of pales in comparison in terms of attractiveness.”
Kindaichi watches as Kyoutani, from the other side of the court, serves a ball that goes smashing into the back of Yahaba’s head.

Yahaba yelps, “Hey! What was that for?!”
Kyoutani gives him an intense glare (though, that’s just how the guy looks regularly) before grumbling, “My bad. Looked like it was going the other way.”

Kindaichi’s, like, ninety percent sure that wasn’t an accident, but he’s not about to say anything.

 

Practice runs late, so Kindaichi and Kunimi walk together to the bus stop as they leave the club.
They don’t normally talk too much when they walk together, but Kindaichi usually doesn’t really mind the comfortable silence between them.

Every now and then, they’ll chat about upcoming tests or games, but tonight seems like a quiet one.
So Kindaichi takes this opportunity to start up a conversation himself.

“So, hey, Kunimi,” he begins, pausing until Kunimi glances at him to continue, “Who did you date in junior high, anyway? I mean, back then, it didn’t really seem like you hung around a lot of people.”
Kunimi gives him a half-offended look.
“No offence,” Kindaichi adds, scratching the back of his neck.

“I didn’t really know her that well, actually,” Kunimi answers indifferently, “We had cleaning duty together a couple times and she eventually confessed to me. I accepted without much thought, honestly.”

“Did you guys ever… kiss?” Kindaichi pries, fidgeting his fingers.
Kunimi breathes out in what Kindaichi thinks is something of a snort. “No. We just held hands a couple times, hung out together. I got busy with volleyball though, and I think she lost interest.”

Kindaichi frowns. “Did you have a bad breakup?”
“Kind of. She called me boring and said I didn’t care about anything. I think she was just upset, though,” Kunimi shrugs.

Kindaichi scoffs. “Even if she was, that’s still a rude thing to say. She just didn’t take the time to get to know you.”
Kunimi glances at him, eyes widened slightly, then mumbles, “Well, either way, I just got lucky. I don’t really think I’m all that charming enough to get another girlfriend, even if I tried.”

“You’re not an unattractive guy,” Kindaichi reassures with a huff, “You have your own way of showing you care, if anyone bothered to notice. You’re a good person.”
“You’re just saying that,” Kunimi sighs.

“Well, sure,” Kindaichi answers, “You’re my best friend. But it’s not like I don’t actually think that stuff. I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t think it.”
Kunimi goes quiet, and he stays quiet through the rest of the walk to the bus stop.

He’s quiet throughout the bus ride, and even dozes off at one point. His head lolls to the side and finds its way resting on Kindaichi’s shoulder. Kindaichi lets him; he doesn’t really mind, and it’s not the first time Kunimi’s done it, anyway.
Kunimi doesn’t say anything when he wakes up, either. Just slides off Kindaichi’s shoulder.

He doesn’t speak up again until the bus stops at Kunimi’s dark, lamp-lit street and Kindaichi steps out into the aisle to let Kunimi leave from where he sits by the window.

The bus is completely empty, besides the two of them. Which isn’t out of the ordinary; late practices usually mean taking the last bus of the night.

Kunimi’s face is slightly flushed, though Kindaichi imagines it’s from the spring chill in the night. He just hopes Kunimi doesn’t catch a cold or something.

“Kindaichi,” Kunimi starts softly, his voice almost drowned out by the grumble of the bus.
Kindaichi watches as Kunimi steps out from the seats and instead of walking down the aisle towards the front of the bus, steps closer to him.

“U-uh, yeah?” Kindaichi stutters, standing stiffly as Kunimi loosely grabs hold of the sides of his blazer.
It’s strange to have Kunimi so close inside his personal bubble. Kindaichi doesn’t really mind, but he’s worried that something’s wrong.

Kunimi pauses, looking between Kindaichi’s eyes but he shakes his head and pats Kindaichi’s shoulder. He brushes past, towards the front of the bus and glances back once.

“Thanks,” he says shortly before turning and leaving the bus.

Kindaichi spends an embarrassingly long time on the ride to his own street wondering if Kunimi was saying thank you to him or to the bus driver.
And also wondering what Kunimi was going to say before he left, when he was clinging to Kindaichi’s blazer.

He thinks about it as he’s laying in bed that night, too.

 

It follows his thoughts as he’s walking down the halls of the school the next morning.
He can’t imagine why it’s so stuck on his mind, but he shoves it aside when he sees Kunimi during their break period.

“Oh, Kindaichi,” Kunimi greets as he spots Kindaichi. “Do you mind lending me your math notes later?”
Kindaichi’s already pulling out his notebook as he answers with a chuckle, “Sure. D’you sleep through class again?”

Kunimi takes the notebook, quirking his eyebrows slightly in mild irritation. Kindaichi only barks a laugh and grins.

“I’ll return it tomorrow morning,” Kunimi assures.
Kindaichi shrugs. “Sure, whenever you want.”

The topic of dating gets brought up again during practice as everyone’s taking a short breather.

“I got confessed to today,” Yahaba proudly announces while Iwaizumi is passing around water bottles.
Almost immediately, a volleyball is launched Yahaba’s direction, only narrowly missing him.

“Kyoutani, I know that was you!” Yahaba hisses at the glaring wing spiker, standing on the other side of the net.
Kindaichi thinks he looks more pissed than usual, but he’s not about to ask him why.

Yahaba spins back around to face the group, hand on his hip. “Anyway! An underclassman confessed to me today,” he continues.
“Well, what did you say?” Matsukawa presses, raising an eyebrow.

“I turned her down,” Yahaba says nonchalantly.
That seems to stir the team up quite a bit (all besides Kyoutani, anyway…)

“Even after you complained so much?!” Kindaichi asks, exasperated.
Yahaba clicks his tongue, “Tsk, tsk, Kindaichi. Don’t you know how these things work?”
Kindaichi blinks, tilts his head. “N-no?”

“If I say yes at the first confession I get, I’ll seem desperate,” Yahaba explains, “I have to wait for the second or third one. With this first confession, my popularity has surely skyrocketed, I imagine.”

Kindaichi frowns. “That’s… a little shallow, isn’t it?” he mumbles to Kunimi, standing next to him.
Kunimi shrugs, sighing a little. “That’s just how he is, I guess.”

“That’s only if you get another confession, dude,” Hanamaki retorts.
Matsukawa nods in agreement as he adds, “You let her down easily? If not, she might tell her friends and ruin your chance for any potential confessions.”

Yahaba seems to freeze in realization.

Kindaichi thinks he maybe catches Kyoutani flashing a smirk as he wanders over to grab a towel to wipe his face, but when Kyoutani notices him, he only glares.

“Being popular can be hard,” Oikawa sighs sympathetically. “Getting so many confessions is difficult, you guys should be glad you’re so unpopular.”
Iwaizumi squeezes his water bottle in Oikawa’s direction, splashing water all over his face.

Iwa-chan!!” Oikawa shrieks, wiping at his face. “Don’t be mean! My hair...”
“Anyway,” Iwaizumi says, ignoring Oikawa’s whining, “Let’s get back to practice.”
I’m the captain! Let me make the call!”
“Do you guys hear something? No? Let’s work on receiving.”

Kindaichi thinks Kyoutani seems to be in a better mood for the rest of practice. He seems more willing to work with everyone, and nails most of his spikes.
Kindaichi’s wondering, but he thinks he’d rather stick his hand in a paper shredder than ask.

 

Practice lets out fairly early due to tests coming up, so Kindaichi and Kunimi walk together.
Kindaichi figures he’ll study with Kunimi; despite Kunimi constantly needing to borrow notes and sleeping in class, he’s fairly smart. Smarter than Kindaichi, at least.

“You said before…” Kunimi begins, then pauses for Kindaichi to glance at him to continue, “You said before, you’ve had crushes before. Have you ever confessed to them?”

Kindaichi laughs, waving a hand dismissively, “Nah, I never worked up the courage. You?”
Kunimi fidgets a bit with his backpack strap. “No. I’ve thought about it, though.”

“You have someone you like right now?” Kindaichi presses. “You’ve never talked about a crush or anything before.”
Kunimi stares straight ahead as he replies, “I guess. I don’t really have much to say about it, so I don’t talk about it.”

“Wait, really?!” Kindaichi gasps. “Who is it?!”
“Who did you have a crush on before?” Kunimi asks instead, pulling on the strap and tugging the bag against his back.

“Oh, just an upperclassman. She was pretty out of my league, honestly. She might have gotten a boyfriend like a year after I started crushing on her,” Kindaichi says with a shrug.
“Huh. You should have confessed, then.”

“Like I said, she was out of my league anyway. I think she ended up going somewhere else for highschool, too,” Kindaichi sighs resignedly.
Kunimi mumbles, just loud enough for Kindaichi to hear, “Still, it’s probably better to show you like her.”

“You’re one to talk,” Kindaichi nudges Kunimi with his elbow, “You should show your crush that you like them, too.”
Kunimi goes quiet for a few moments before he replies softly, “Maybe I should.”

They don’t say much for the rest of the walk.
Kindaichi wracks his brain, trying to think of any girl he’d seen around Kunimi in the past few months that Kunimi could possibly be crushing on.

But the fact of the matter is that most classes he has with Kunimi, Kunimi keeps to himself and naps during breaks unless Kindaichi comes over to chat with him.

Maybe she goes to a different school? Though, Kunimi never seems to be chatty with other teams that they’ve played matches with, and that’s the only way Kindaichi could think he’d have connections with other schools.

Oh, Kindaichi realizes far too slowly, Kunimi hadn’t answered when Kindaichi had asked directly who it was.
Maybe Kunimi just doesn’t want to talk about. Kindaichi feels like he shouldn’t pressure him too much, so he decides to just drop it.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Kunimi suddenly says, breaking Kindaichi out of his thoughts.

Kindaichi hadn’t realized they’d reached Kunimi’s street already. He blinks himself back to reality and nods.
“See you tomorrow,” he echoes as he watches Kunimi turn and walk down the street.

Kindaichi can’t help but feel a little offended that Kunimi would keep his crush from him.
They are best friends after all, aren’t they?
He stops himself, though. He really shouldn’t push it.

Best friends. That label still feels awkward for some reason.

 

When Kindaichi passes by Kunimi’s street the next morning, Kunimi’s waiting for him.

“Morning!” Kindaichi greets.
Kunimi nods silently, then digs into his backpack and pulls out Kindaichi’s notebook, holding it out to him.

“Oh, thanks,” Kindaichi says, reaching out to take it.
As he does, though, Kunimi finds a grip on his hand and pulls him down and -

Their lips clumsily meet.

It’s a little forceful, almost painful with how they crash together.
Kindaichi’s not sure if it’s an accident or Kunimi is intentionally kissing him or if he’s just dreaming this whole situation.

But before he can fully comprehend what is happening, Kunimi pulls back and turns to walk without another word.

Kindaichi blinks, his face warm, as he runs his fingers over his lips.
He absently follows behind Kunimi, trying to say something, but words can’t seem to form on his tongue.

It was his first kiss, but he’s not about to admit that.

Kunimi had surprisingly soft lips - at least, Kindaichi thinks so. He hadn’t gotten much time to fully take it in.

Kindaichi can’t understand why Kunimi would do something like that. There has to be a reason, right?

Did it have to do with the test, maybe? Some good luck charm?
Some kind of new morning greeting?

Kindaichi notices Kunimi glancing back at him as they walk, and worries he’s supposed to have some sort of reaction or response.
He doesn’t yet, so he just tries to ignore Kunimi’s anxious looks.

Kindaichi fusses over it all afternoon, too.
He barely pays attention in class, and during the class he shares with Kunimi, he lets Kunimi nap without disturbing him.

Was it an accident after all? Kunimi did grab him first, didn’t he?
Maybe he tripped or something?
Kunimi seemed sort of flustered afterwards; he hadn’t said anything and actually kept up a quick pace on their walk to school.

“Kindaichi.”

Kindaichi blinks out of his thoughts and glances up to find Kunimi standing over his desk. A quick look around the room, and Kindaichi finds it empty.

“You coming? Practice is gonna start soon,” Kunimi says, gently nudging his shoulder from where Kindaichi lays over his own desk.

Kindaichi slowly sits up. “Oh, yeah, one sec,” he mumbles as he starts shoving his notebook and pencils into his backpack.

“You okay? You seem out of it today,” Kunimi sits on the desk next to Kindaichi’s as he watches.
“I’m fine,” Kindaichi says quickly. “Uh, do you mind if I borrow your notes? I… napped in class.”

Kunimi furrows his eyebrows in suspicion.
“You? Napped in class?” Kunimi mutters, but shakes his head and digs his own notebook out of his bag. “Sure. Here.”

Kindaichi takes it and adds it to his jumbled pile of supplies in his backpack.
“Thanks. Let’s go,” Kindaichi says, scurrying out of the classroom with Kunimi trailing behind.

Practice seems to go by slowly. The topic of most of the chatter during breaks is about the upcoming exams.

At the end of practice, Oikawa and Iwaizumi gather everyone up.

“We’ll have some study groups in the next couple of days in preparation for the upcoming tests,” Iwaizumi says, then glances at Oikawa, “If you anyone needs help, you should come.”
Oikawa protests, “Why did you look at me when you say that?”
“Because you’re an idiot.”
“Mean!”

“Make sure you guys do well on your exams,” Iwaizumi reminds as he turns back to the group, “We have a training camp coming up soon.”
“Exams start next week, so be sure to rest up over the weekend!” Oikawa adds.

“Yessir!” comes the resounding response.

It’s as the team’s cleaning up and Kindaichi’s mopping the floor that he notices Oikawa and Iwaizumi slipped off somewhere.

Most of the supplies are put away, and everyone’s ready to head back to the clubroom.
Kunimi mentions that he has to leave early (something having to do with his family, apparently), so Kindaichi wanders around the gym looking for them.

Passing by the supply closet, he catches voices around the ajar door.

“-so mean to me today, Iwa-chan,” a voice that sounds like Oikawa’s is saying.
Iwaizumi’s voice grunts, “So? I’m mean to you every day.”
“So?! Make it up to me, already!”

A scoff, and the voices seem to stop.
Kindaichi pulls the door open and calls, “Um, Oikawa-san, Iwaizumi-san?”

He catches Oikawa - leaning over Iwaizumi, hands in his hair, lips moving over his, for a split second - before Oikawa shoves Iwaizumi an arms’ length away, much to what seems like Iwaizumi’s dismay.

“Uh, y-yeah, Kindaichi?” Oikawa says quickly.
His face looks flushed, and his hair is slightly tousled. Kindaichi tilts his head in confusion.

“We’re done in the gym. Everyone’s about to head up to the clubroom to change,” Kindaichi says slowly, pointing in the general direction of the door.

“We’re just finishing up here,” Iwaizumi says evenly, “We’re coming.”

“Um,” Kindaichi starts carefully, fidgeting his fingers, “What were you two doing? Oikawa-san was just kis-”
“I WAS THANKING HIM!” Oikawa blurts out quickly.

“What?” Kindaichi and Iwaizumi say at the same time, though Kindaichi only barely notices Iwaizumi saying it with him.

Oikawa puts a hand on his hip confidently as he grins and explains, “Iwa-chan helped me out earlier with some homework, so I was just thanking him. That’s… how I thank him.”
Iwaizumi narrows his eyes at Oikawa, frowning.

“Oh!” Kindaichi realizes, “That makes sense! That must be what he was doing!”
Kunimi had been giving Kindaichi’s notebook back at the time, after all.

He’s never heard of thanking people through kissing, but he supposes if his senpais do it, it’s just something he never noticed before.

“Thank you, Oikawa-san! I understand now!” Kindaichi bows his head and turns, leaving without waiting for a reply.

As he steps out the door, he hears Iwaizumi mutter to Oikawa.

“What the hell did you just teach that kid?”

 

The next morning, Kindaichi finds Kunimi waiting for him at the corner of his street again.
He’s blowing puffs of breath on his cold hands when Kindaichi approaches him, and he nods silently in greeting.

Kindaichi already has the notebook out of his backpack and offers it Kunimi.
Kunimi reaches out to take it and -

Kindaichi catches his wrist and pulls, bringing their lips together.

Despite himself, Kindaichi gets flustered and pulls away quickly, his own face warm.
But he smiles when he says, “Thanks for letting me borrow it, Kunimi!”

Kunimi’s face is… bright red. Well, that’s not what Kindaichi expected.

He thinks this is the first time he’s even seen Kunimi so flushed.
But Kunimi doesn’t say anything, just stands there, eyes wide and red-faced.

It only makes him more embarrassed, so he spins around and speed-walks up the sidewalk towards school.

Kindaichi worries about it all day all over again.
Maybe he misread the situation with Oikawa and Iwaizumi. Maybe it’s something only best friends like them do.

They’ve known each other far longer than he and Kunimi have, anyway.
He just hopes it doesn’t make things weird between them. Though, he did just kiss him.
That’s a little weird, right?

They don’t talk too much during class. In fact, they hardly even look at each other.
They sit together at lunch, but they sit in silence.
Kindaichi thinks Kunimi’s face is still a little red.

During practice, they get paired for warmups.

When Kindaichi pushes down on Kunimi’s back, he notices Kunimi jolt slightly at the touch.
Kunimi seems particularly stiff as they finish their stretches, but Kindaichi isn’t sure how to bring it up.

Iwaizumi keeps glancing at them, so maybe he notices the awkwardness too.

It’s during a break, as they’re resting on the sidelines by the wall, that Kunimi slides down next to him on the floor.

They sit in silence for a moment, Kunimi twisting the hem of his shirt between his fingers, until Kunimi finally looks up at him and catches his attention.

“So, Kindaichi,” he mumbles, voice shaking.
As always, Kunimi waits until Kindaichi looks his way to continue.

“Do you… wanna go out?” Kunimi murmurs, almost barely audible over the sounds of shoes squeaking over the gym floors.

Kyoutani, taking a break about ten feet away from them, perks up suddenly and looks their way for some reason. He looks shocked, though Kindaichi can’t imagine why.

“Oh. Sure,” he answers, tilting his head.
He can’t tell if Kunimi was nervous to ask that because of Kyoutani being in earshot (Kyoutani intimidates him too, after all), or if it was just because Kunimi’s never directly asked that before.

Kunimi blinks, like he’s surprised. He’s moving his mouth as if he wants to say something, but nothing’s coming out.

“Where to?” Kindaichi asks.

 

Kunimi seems quieter than usual, Kindaichi thinks.
Although, it’s not unnatural for him to be quiet, but he was the one who invited Kindaichi out, anyway.

They’re walking around an outdoor shopping center. It’s the weekend, so it’s crowded with people rushing around.
Neither of them really need to buy anything, so they just wander around together.

At one point, Kunimi loosely slips his hand into Kindaichi’s.
He doesn’t provide any explanation on it, so Kindaichi doesn’t say anything and just hooks his fingers along Kunimi’s.

It’s cold out anyway, and Kunimi’s hand is warm. Not to mention that it’s easier to stick together in the crowd like this.

Kindaichi glances around the packed streets. He doesn’t usually mean to people-watch, but he seems to end up doing it anyway.

His eyes land on a man and woman sitting at a fountain in the center of the plaza.
The woman leans in and plants a quick kiss on the man, and the man laughs and kisses her back.

They’re clearly on a date, with how close they’re sitting, the amount of shopping bags at their feet, and how they’re… holding hands.
Wait. Oh no. Oh no no no.

Something slowly - ever so slowly - clicks in the back of Kindaichi’s mind.
He swallows.
If he’s right about this, he realizes he might just be the biggest idiot in the universe.

“U-uh, hey, Kunimi?” he begins, voice slightly cracking at Kunimi’s name.
Kunimi glances at him, that typical indifferent gaze.

Kindaichi gathers all his nerves.
“Are we… on a date right now?”

Kunimi winces mildly and breathes a deep sigh, letting go of Kindaichi’s hand.
“Well… no, because you didn’t know and I feel like a date probably requires both parties to know,” he says, stopping and leading Kindaichi over to a bench, out of the way of the street.

Kindaichi’s entire body is tense. Oh boy.

“I’m kind of surprised you just now thought that,” Kunimi says, a resigned expression on his face, “We’ve been walking around for hours, you know.”
“Wh- I- that’s-” Kindaichi stutters, his face heating up.

Kunimi breathes something like a laugh and Kindaichi’s scrambling to get a sentence out.

“Well, I guess I should have just come out and said it from the start,” Kunimi says with a shrug. “I was nervous before, but I think I’m less nervous about it now.”

Kindaichi finally manages to stammer, “W-wait, are you… do you… do you like me?”
It sounds stupid in his ears and definitely seemed like a much more eloquent question in his head, but there it is.

Kunimi scoffs - actually scoffs - and replies, “Yeah. Have for a year or so now. Glad to have you on board.”

Kindaichi’s face is red, he knows it. His mind is going a million miles an hour and he even feels a little light-headed.

“I- How was I supposed to know?” Kindaichi blurts out, even though he knows it’s a dumb question.

Kunimi gives him an incredulous look.
“Kindaichi, you… you do know we kissed, right?” he says slowly.

“T-That was.. You were just thanking me…” Kindaichi mumbles.
The look on Kunimi’s face clears up that misunderstanding pretty easily.

Kindaichi’s kiss earlier that morning flashes across his mind and he starts sweating with how hot his face burns. He slaps a shaky hand over his mouth to try to contain his gasp, but it does little to do so.

“I-! This morning, I- Oh my god, Kunimi, I’m so- Oh god,” Kindaichi can’t seem to get the sentence out.

Kunimi says it outright though, “You kissed me, yeah. I was… surprised.”
Kindaichi lets out a groan of despair. “That wasn’t- I mean I- It was just-”

Kunimi shakes his head. “Well, whatever. There, it’s out in the open now. It doesn’t have to change stuff. I mean, it’s been like this for like a year, so we can just forget it and go back to normal.”

“No!” Kindaichi exclaims, a little too loudly.
His outburst seems to have surprised Kunimi, too.
He backtracks and tries again, softer this time, “No, I mean- well no, not ‘no’, but- it’s okay, I mean- er, I mean I also- I like- I’m, uh-”

Kunimi rolls his eyes, but there’s a hint of a smile in the corner of his mouth.
“If I ask you properly, will you get an answer out?” he jokes, nudging Kindaichi with his elbow.

Kindaichi swallows again and nods.

“Kindaichi, will you go out with me? As in, be my boyfriend?” Kunimi says gently and calmly, but Kindaichi notices how he cups his hands and squeezes them together, his knuckles turning white.

Kindaichi reaches out to hold his hands in one swift movement.
He takes a deep breath and replies, “Yeah. I… like you, Kunimi.”

Kindaichi catches Kunimi’s red cheeks before he dips his head, hiding his face behind his bangs.
Kindaichi grins and eases Kunimi’s hands open so he can lace their fingers together.

“Hey, now that we’re, uh, actually dating…” Kindaichi says, “Can we, like, have a do-over on that kiss?”
Kunimi lifts his head and Kindaichi can see how much he’s blushing.

“Okay,” Kunimi mumbles.

Kindaichi leans in first, and Kunimi follows suit. The kiss is brief and less messy than the other ones, and it’s not quite a kiss, but it still makes Kindaichi’s stomach flutter.

When they pull back, the corners of Kunimi’s mouth are upturned into a very subtle smile - but Kindaichi still catches it.
Without thinking, Kindaichi ducks to leave one more short peck on Kunimi’s lips.
This time, Kunimi fully smiles.

“Oh,” Kindaichi says, “That was smooth of me.”
Kunimi snorts, bumping Kindaichi’s shoulder with his own. “Dork.”

They sit like that for a few more minutes, quietly leaning against each other, hands intertwined.
It’s cheesy, incredibly cliche, Kindaichi thinks, but he kinda likes the feeling.

 

As they’re going home, walking close together, Kunimi mumbles, “Are we explaining this to the team? It seems kind of bothersome to tell them all.”

“I guess they can just figure it out themselves,” Kindaichi says with a shrug. “We’ll just explain it whenever we need to.”

“Now that I think about it,” Kunimi turns to Kindaichi, “What made you think my kiss was just a thank you, anyway?”

“Well, I found Oikawa-san and Iwaizumi-san in… the…” Kindaichi trails off, stops completely.
Wait a damn second.

Kunimi nudges him.
“What about Oikawa-san and Iwaizumi-san?” he presses, raising an eyebrow.

“They weren’t-” Kindaichi can’t bring himself to finish that sentence.
His ears are burning, his whole face is burning.

“I think…” Kindaichi mumbles, “They’re the ones who need to do some explaining.”