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i should be over all the butterflies

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Mornings with Kageyama after a game never fail to disappoint.

For the most part, Kei understands this. Volleyball is tiring: an experience even more evident for himself than for Kageyama. Battered and spent, he always comes home exhausted after a game day and knocks out the instant his head hits the pillow. Without fail, he wakes up the next morning still sore and aching, desiring nothing more but to turn over and sleep in a little bit longer.

Kageyama, on the other hand, behaves more or less the same after a game, except when he wakes up in the morning, there’s a tiny, minor difference that greatly inconveniences Kei:

He doesn’t.

“Oi, King.”

Faint sunlight filters in through the sheer curtains, bathing the broad form of sleeping Kageyama in a warm glow. Cheek buried in his pillow, Kageyama is stretched out on his stomach, the curve of his back rising and falling with each slow breath. No part of him shows any sign that he’s heard Kei call his name.

Kei purses his lips and leans down until his mouth is at Kageyama’s ear.

“Ouuuuu-sa-ma,” he tries again, drawing the vowels out. “It’s ten thirty, Your Majesty.”

Still nothing.

With a sigh, Kei props his head up with his hand and stares down at his boyfriend.

He had fallen asleep last night with his cheek pressed against Kageyama’s back, his steady breathing a familiar comfort after a few nights of absence due to Kageyama being away at a game. Although it hasn’t been too long since they moved in together, for Kei, simply having Kageyama’s warm weight by his side again is a gentle reassurance that they’re both home. In the mornings when neither of them has a game, Kageyama is usually up first. He goes for runs, he goes to the gym, he has a systematic regime. Kei does too, but it’s much less rigorous and physically demanding. Regardless, most of his morning routines do not involve waking up before Kageyama.

Perhaps he can find a silver lining to this though, Kei thinks as he continues to stare down at Kageyama. Silky and soft, his dark hair spills over in smooth tresses across his brow, falling just shy of brushing the slight slope of his nose. His mouth, usually shapely and twisted in an angry frown, remains open and slack as it rests against his pillow. Kei’s eyes trace the shape of his lips and the outline of his jaw. Funny. There’s a serene calmness buried deep underneath Kageyama’s intense exterior that often surfaces when he’s sleeping and it never ceases to make Kei’s breath hitch in his throat, no matter how many times he’s seen Kageyama sleep. Sleep always looks beautiful on him — it’s the unfortunate laws of physics. The way gravity pulls one towards the earth. Grounds them. Maintains the balance.

Kei’s lips curl into a smile. Not many people are privy to pro volleyball player Kageyama Tobio’s peaceful, unguarded side.

Lowering his voice so that he can barely hear himself speak, he tries a different name on his lips.

“Tobio.”

The word feels cumbersome and strange in his mouth, even though it’s one that’s crossed Kei’s mind quite a lot in his head.

“To-bi-o,” he repeats, a little louder than the last.

Kageyama still doesn’t stir.

Kei releases a small sigh through his nose, then smiles to himself as Kageyama’s mouth twitches.

Well. Breakfast it is, then.

 

 

🍚🥢🛏️

 

 

After brushing his teeth, Kei throws on his glasses and a pair of gym shorts and trudges into the kitchen. Upon a quick survey of their fridge, he finds eggs, leftover rice, mustard greens, soybeans, and some chopped green onions he’d had the foresight to cut up a few days ago. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to make natto. Grabbing the mustard greens, soybeans, and the carton of eggs, Kei transfers the ingredients to the counter and sets to work right away.

Pulling out a knife and cutting board, he peels a couple cloves of garlic from its stem and begins chopping them along with the mustard greens.

As always, the repetitive clop of his knife to the cutting board soothes him. Soft morning light streams in through the kitchen window. Behind him, Kageyama sleeps in the far corner of their one bedroom studio. In the familiar comfort of his quotidian surroundings, Kei surrenders his mind to the monotony, easing smoothly into quiet contentment as a pleasant sense of peace washes over the apartment.

When he finishes chopping the vegetables, Kei pours a modest amount of oil onto a medium-sized pan and tosses the garlic in. While the pan heats up, he pours an arbitrary mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil with the soybeans into a small bowl and sets it aside. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, he throws the mustard greens in and lets it simmer.

His mind wanders back to Kageyama’s sleeping form as he turns the vegetables over in the pan. In the midst of this calm morning, a growing itch nags at the back of his brain.

Why did saying ‘Tobio’ that way feel so foreign on his lips? He’s known Kageyama for a long time now. Called him plenty of names. King. Your Majesty. His favorite: Royal Highness. From resentful goading to terms of endearment, calling Kageyama every one of his monikers became habit long before he ever even considered the name Tobio.

He’s considered it many times by now. For much, much longer than he’d like to admit. Sometime during their second year of high school, before the mere thought of dating was even on the table, he had shown Kageyama how to calculate a series of equations to optimize a volleyball serve. Pushed to hair-tearing frustration with the King’s subpar grasp on physics, Kei had resorted to relating problems of classic mechanics to the one thing Kageyama knows best. To his surprise, Kageyama picked it up almost immediately. His look of childlike excitement and sheer joy at understanding the math behind a simple volleyball play — and the knowledge that Kei had been the one to inspire it — had caused a whole host of funny feelings to erupt in the pit of his stomach. Insistent among them was a sudden and inexplicable desire to tell him, out loud, Congratulations, Tobio-chan.

Wherever the urge came from, it had disappeared just as fast, but Kei had never forgotten it (though he had sincerely tried). He had always enjoyed teasing Kageyama but that moment especially tiptoed for the first time towards actual endearment. Ever since then, the name ‘Tobio’ had started floating around in his mind along with all his other kingly nicknames, but he never truly felt compelled to call him that ever again.

Until now.

With an irritated tch , Kei switches the fire off and scoops the vegetables into an empty bowl. Circling back to the fridge, he grabs the tupperware of rice and removes the lid before placing it in the microwave and pressing ‘2.’ Its low humming fills the kitchen, giving him space to ruminate as he stirs the soybeans in the meantime.

It’s been approximately four years of dating and almost eight years of knowing each other, yet they’ve never bothered to call each other by their first names. When habit becomes too familiar, you settle into it. Wear it like a second skin. Develop knowledge and trust that against all expectations, things won’t suddenly change; the rug won’t be pulled out from under you. Like knowing where all the furniture is in your home, more than enough to navigate any given room in the dark. At this point, it’s hard to imagine calling him anything else. Kageyama and King have become adornments that furnish every centimeter of Kei’s life. In turn, Kageyama has never called him anything else besides Tsukishima. Introducing a new piece would offset the status quo.

He remembers the first time the furniture in his house back in Miyagi had been rearranged from its original setting. He was almost five, a month after his father had left them, when his okaasan decided it was for the best if they “shake things up.” With the help of Akiteru and their neighbor, they switched around the couch, cabinets, and tables of the living room until she was satisfied with the new placements. At the time, Kei was too young to understand the symbolism behind his okaasan’s desire for a reset, but he felt refreshed all the same by the change in space. It wasn’t until later that night when he stubbed his toe on the coffee table leg in his hurry to go play outside with Akiteru that he realized how disruptive and unfamiliar his own home became. He spent the next few days on edge, cautious and alert every time he stepped into the living room. Fortunately, it hadn’t taken long for him to readjust.

More difficult than that was the time Akiteru moved out for university. They hadn’t rearranged the furniture, but they had gotten a new couch during his absence. And even though their common spaces hadn’t shifted much, Akiteru’s room was almost barren. Kei remembers the haunting emptiness he felt every time he had to pass by in the hallway. Back then, his brother felt gone in more ways than one. Even now, after everything has passed, Kei’s still not sure how well he’s adjusted to it.

The microwave beeps, its sharp cry piercing the quiet stillness of the apartment. Somewhere behind him, Kageyama shifts. Kei hears a faint rustling of sheets followed by a small squeak of the mattress. Turning his head, he glances over his shoulder. His Royal Highness is still very much in bed, eyes closed, and snoozing away.

Mornings with Kageyama after a game never fail to disappoint.

With a sigh, Kei turns back to the kitchen and takes the rice out of the microwave. He spoons equal helpings of them into two separate bowls then cracks an egg over each one. Using chopsticks, he mixes both portions thoroughly until both rice are coated in yolk before shoveling the mustard greens and soybeans in to cover the tops. As a final garnish, he grabs the green onions from the fridge and a small furikake shaker from the cupboard and sprinkles seaweed, sesame seeds, and scallions over their natto.

Setting the furikake down, Kei steps back. His work is finished. It’s time to present it to the King. (Not that he deserves it…)

He grabs a pair of chopsticks and one of the bowls and walks over to the bed.

“Oi,” he says once he’s standing over His Majesty’s sleeping form. “It’s almost eleven.”

No response.

Taking a seat at the edge of the mattress, Kei nudges Kageyama’s hip with his own, willing him to shift over enough for Kei to properly sit. Kageyama lets out a soft groan and turns over onto his side, facing away from Kei.

“Oi,” Kei repeats, reaching his arm over him to hold the bowl underneath his nose. “I made breakfast, Your Highness.”

That gets his attention. Brows furrowing, he cracks one eye open, then the other. With a smirk, Kei rests an elbow on Kageyama’s arm and presses his lips to his shoulder.

“Rise and shine,” he murmurs into his shirt.

Scowling, Kageyama blinks and pushes the bowl away.

“Five more minutes,” he mumbles before turning his face into his pillow.

Rolling his eyes, Kei sets the bowl and chopsticks down on the nightstand beside him and climbs over Kageyama and drapes himself onto him.

“Come on,” he whines in his ear, leaning his entire weight on Kageyama. “Food’s going to get cold.”

Kageyama grunts but doesn’t budge even when Kei nudges him again with his whole body. 

“Oi. We agreed we wouldn’t overdo the whole post-game recovery period.” Still no movement. Kei shoves him again. “Hah?”

“Mm,” is all Kageyama responds. Even when half-asleep, he’s as sturdy as an iron wall. Kei could intensify his workout regime ten times over for the rest of his life and he still would never be able to overpower him.

“I’m going to dump your natto in the trash,” he threatens, hovering his hand over the bowl on the nightstand.

Kageyama’s hand shoots out and grabs Kei’s wrist. The goading smile vanishes off Kei’s face as Kageyama pulls him down to the mattress and wraps his arms around him in a vice-like grip. Kei struggles to break free from his clutch but it’s too late — Kageyama’s elbows have already locked him down. Before he can protest, he feels Kageyama’s warm breath at the back of his neck as his low voice fills his ear.

“You wouldn’t.”

A sharp chill runs down his spine. Warmth pools in his belly. Refusing to be outdone so early by His Highness, Kei elbows him in the ribs and wriggles around to face him.

“Try me.”

The frown lines on Kageyama’s face smooth out into a smirk. Reaching a hand up between them, he lifts Kei’s glasses up and moves forward to kiss him, slow and deep.

“You haven’t brushed your teeth,” Kei mutters against his lips, even though he’s already kissing him back.

Kageyama pulls back and utters, “Shut up,” before pressing their mouths together again.

Kei allows them a few minutes to make out before he breaks away and fixes Kageyama with a glare.

“Okay, seriously. The food is getting cold.”

Kageyama purses his lips.

“Fine.” He slides Kei’s glasses back on for him then pushes himself onto his elbow. “I’m up, I’m up. Happy?”

“Ecstatic,” Kei intones with a straight face. Reaching around him to grab the neglected bowl of natto, he places it in Kageyama’s hands and sits up next to him.

“Where’s yours?” Kageyama asks, digging his chopsticks into the rice. “You should go get it.”

“It’s cold now, thanks to you,” Kei scowls. “I’ll heat it up and eat it later.”

“Oh. Sorry,” Kageyama says. Then he takes a big bite of natto.

Kei scoffs as he watches him eat. “No you’re not.”

Kageyama grins, his cheeks full of food. “You’re right. I’m not.”

“Egotistical King,” Kei quips back with a smile.

“Love you too, Kei.”

Kei freezes. Everything around him comes to a sudden stop. He can’t hear anything but the pounding of his heart and the distinct sound of Kageyama casually chewing rice.

Did he—? Did he just—?

“Wh-What did you just call me?” Kei chokes, feeling his face heat up.

Kageyama pauses to spare him a glance before returning his attention back to his food. It never ceases to amaze Kei how Kageyama can swing from grumpy and scowling to calm and indifferent in a matter of seconds. A process that always expedites itself when he eats.

He swallows his next bite then responds without batting an eye: “Kei.”

It hits him like another arrow shot through the heart. Kageyama continues to shovel more food into his mouth. How can he just say it with such a straight face?

Kei looks away and covers his face with his hand. “You didn’t give me any warning for that!”

“Hm?” Kageyama tilts his head. “What was I supposed to say?”

“I — you—” he splutters. “It’s not about saying anything. It’s just — there was nothing in that moment to signal to me that you were about to call me by my first name so casually like that!”

Kageyama frowns, his chopsticks resting on his bottom lip. “Was it that weird?”

Yes, Kei thinks. “I don’t know,” he says, keeping his face covered. In all honesty, he doesn’t want Kageyama to stop. “It’s complicated.”

“Why?” Kageyama asks, lowering the chopsticks. “You called me ‘Tobio’ earlier.”

Kei’s brain completely short circuits. Removing his hand from his face, he levels Kageyama with a blank stare. “You heard that?”

Kageyama blinks. “Was I not supposed to?”

Kei groans. “Oh my god. I thought you were asleep.”

“Oh. I still heard you. Sorry?”

“But you didn’t react,” Kei points out.

“I was sleeping,” Kageyama replies. Kei shoves him.

“Idiot.”

Kageyama merely shrugs. “I don’t know what you want. What’s the difference? I think of you as Kei in my head all the time. It’s just force of habit to keep calling you Tsukishima. I thought maybe you were trying to switch.”

“I wasn’t trying to switch ,” he insists, his ears growing warm. “I was just testing it out .”

“Oh,” Kageyama says. He takes another bite of rice. After he swallows, he adds, “Well we don’t have to change anything if you don’t want to.”

“I—” Kei falters. Crossing his arms, he breathes out with a huff. “That’s not what I said either.”

“So what’s the problem?”

Kei purses his lips. “Nothing. You just threw me off for a second, that’s all.”

A shadow of a smirk plays on Kageyama’s lips. “That seems to happen a lot, doesn’t it?”

Kei scowls. “Shut up, King.”

“Okay, Kei.”

Kei takes his pillow and smacks him in the face.

The force of the blow knocks one of Kageyama’s chopsticks out of his hands. Kei bursts into laughter at the pure look of shock on his face. For a long moment, Kageyama silently stares at the single stick still left in his hand, and Kei knows he’s in trouble before Kageyama even begins to set down his bowl.

The second the bottom of the dish touches the nightstand, Kageyama has Kei pinned on the bed, an expression of smug triumph written all over his face. Kei looks up at him with a sly smirk of his own and reaches up to brush a strand of Kageyama’s hair out of his dark blue eyes.

“To-bi-o,” he says. Kageyama narrows his eyes and starts to lower his face towards his.

“Tobio,” he tríes again as Kageyama slides his glasses off and sets it aside.

“Are you done?” Kageyama asks in a bored tone.

Kei grins and pulls him down by the shirt collar.

“Not at all,” he replies before tilting up to meet him.

After all, it’s the kind of change Kei can adjust to.