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Of coming together (and other fuckery)

Chapter Text

Today is the day.

Fukurodani’s graduation ceremony is a boast in and of itself, golden, black, and white streamers hanging from every ceiling, banners adorn the walls giving the school a regal appearance. The cherry blossoms outside the school are near full bloom and the air is tinged with their sweetness.

It is the exact time for this.

Now or never.

Akaashi Keiji is determined, standing among the onlookers, he is ready.

He must be because this is his last chance. This is it.

There have been others, like after their last match at Nationals, or at one of the many get-togethers at either of their houses, and some others he doesn’t care to remember at the moment.

But those times he didn’t reach out and grab the chance, so there is only this, and this time he is ready.

It doesn’t matter that Bokuto has only ever -if scarcely- dated girls. It doesn’t matter that Keiji has spent the better part of the last two year nagging at him, sometimes being overbearing, sometimes underestimating the man when he’s clearly the most amazing Ace that Keiji knows.

It really doesn’t matter that he’s most likely going to get rejected.

Keiji has to believe that their friendship can stand that.

And maybe he has a bit of hope -a very small, insecure bit of hope- that he’ll be loved back.

There’s a sort of speech in the back of his throat and his stomach is a knot so tight he doesn’t think anyone would take the time to untangle it

Keiji does not even have to look, he is hyper-aware of the presence just ahead of him, tangled in a teary embrace with Konoha and Sakurui after taking their final photo together as high school students.

Bokuto wears the usual graduation robe, hat long since lost, his golden eyes shine. Keiji clutches the small box in his hands and tells himself he is shaking from the cold and not the anticipation.

As if sensing the eyes on him Bokuto turns around, light bouncing off his eyes, his golden skin and the grin on his face stretches even wider if that’s even possible. His arms release Sakurui and Konoha and he sprints towards Keiji -almost knocking down a couple of innocent bystanders – and wraps him up in what must be the warmest, tightest embrace he’s ever received from his senior. “AKAASHII!!”

Keiji wavers between never wanting to be let go and hoping he is in time to breathe.

He would feel so very special, if this wasn’t how Bokuto is with everyone.

“Congratulations Bokuto-san.” Keiji raises his hands to rest on the other man’s back and takes a deep breath, Bokuto smells like cologne and musk. “Thank you for all of this.”

“Bokuto-san!! You’re gonna crush him.” Someone calls out from the crowd and Akaashi curses them inwardly as the warm enveloping him stiffens and slowly let’s go.

Bokuto’s face comes into view, red-rimmed eyes, and a puffy nose. Keiji has never been more in love. “O-Oh yeah, sorry Akaashi. I just- You- You’re b- I’m going to miss you so much!” A small sniffle escapes him.

“Don’t worry Bokuto-san” Keiji says smiling his best smile -the reassuring one, the one he’s given Bokuto at every game- “I got you something.” He says lifting the box. “It’s not much. And I guess you can’t wear it to games, but still.”

And it isn’t, Bokuto excitedly takes the box from Keiji’s hands and opens it to reveal a small owl pendant. His eyes shine, dewy and wide and its half a second before the lid slams shut and Keiji is enveloped in his arms again. “I’m going to miss you so much Akaashi. Thank you! You didn’t have to, y'know? I wouldn’t have made it this far without you anyways!”

This is it, now, Keiji can feel it. He doesn’t say it this moment and Bokuto will go off to the rest of his life as a Pro Volleyball Player and he will never have said it.

“Bokuto-san I- “

“You’re my best friend Akaashi.” It hits like a punch in the gut, it’s not the first time he hears it, but the thought of his impending confession maybe destroying everything he and Bokuto already are is ever-present and right now, reinforced at the very worst moment. “Promise that won't stop?”

The bravery, the almost speech all but dies in his mouth, melted by Bokuto’s shaky voice. Keiji scrambles for words. “I- Kuroo-san is going to be sad if he hears you said that to me.” And somehow his voice is even.

“Nah, Kuroo is my best Bro. “A grin spreads over Bokuto’s face but is gone in a second. “But really, Akaashi, can we still- “

It hurts to see the doubt in his face, like he could ever lose Keiji.

“Of course.” Keiji blurts out before he has a chance to think. “You’ll drop by whenever anyway, Bokuto-san. And we’ll be happy to have you”

Bokuto's head tilts to the side, for a moment he looks a bit lost, a bit sadder than the situation calls for. "I mean-Yes!" But it is gone as soon as it came. “It's going to be amazing!”

And then there’s more crying, and the moment – and the confidence he so painstakingly gathered – is gone. For all that he would like to tell Bokuto that he has been in love with him for a while now, that same love holds him back, Bokuto needs Akaashi, his friend.

And Keiji can give that to him -and to himself- for a bit longer before he gambles everything they are on a confession.

Today was not the day.

.

.

Akaashi is so beautiful.

In the split second where he opens his eyes while hugging Konoha, Koutarou can't help the thoughts and what comes with them.

The rush of the many things he already knows, that he counts on. Akaashi's curly, ink-black hair, his dark blue eyes. The way he’s slender, almost weedy, but still so nice to look at.

How his long fingers are longer than Koutarou’s own, and what he wouldn’t give to entangle them together.

Keiji stands there with pink cheeks, bundled up in a coat, and a jewel blue scarf.

And Koutarou’s heart fills, and fills so much it seems impossible.

There’s no containing himself from dashing at Akaashi and wrapping him in his arms. For today it’s okay, for today he has the excuse of emotion, and longing and nostalgia so he can do this and not feel like he’s going to fuck everything up.

Akaashi’s hands come up to circle his back.

So nice, so perfect.

If only he could say the words.

But it would be no good. Akaashi clearly just cares for him as a friend.

And that’s very fine, it’s a gift, it’s more than Koutarou could ask for. Akaashi’s patience, his constant caring, and his support, the small smiles, and sharing food, sharing friends, and sometimes a bed, it’s so much more than he deserves.

And it has to be enough.

Someone yells behind them. “Bokuto-san!! You’re gonna crush him.” And Bokuto kind of wants to punch them, but he's somehow so tense and jittery at the same time that he just manages to release Keiji for a second, and stammers something that’s half an apology and surely half gibberish.

Keiji just smiles, that centered smile that is the bedrock of Koutarou’s world “Don’t worry Bokuto-san, I got you something.” Koutarou barely sees the box, there’s a dusting of pink on Akaashi’s cheekbones and he so wants to kiss it. “It’s not much. And I guess you can’t wear it to games, but still.”

The small Owl hangs from a thin silver chain.

Koutarou is so in love with this perfect, perfect man. If only he could tell Akaashi without losing what he already has…

But he can't, so he hugs him instead.

And it’s enough, it has to be..

.

Takeda Sensei is nothing but efficient.

Or so Kei supposes.

Their shy, often stuttering club supervisor has secured an early practice match against Fukurodani, and somehow managed to convince everyone involved that the Fukurodani team should be the one driving up to Sendai and not the other way around.

Well, it’s not like Kei’s going to be complaining, 4 hours in a bus with Tanaka’s snoring and Hinata and Noya’s constant chatter are definitely not something he’s in the mood for.

Especially this early on.

Besides, if they lay the pressure of a trip or a whole new court on top of facing the team that placed second in Nationals, he’s sure that at least one of the first years is going to puke.

To his left, one of them takes a ball to the face.

Oh joy.

There are four in total, three from middle schools with decent volleyball clubs, but they range between slightly awkward to one with decent serves that cannot look at any of his seniors in the eye without going red and choking.

Fukurodani arrives in their usual, white, and black get-up, their numbers have if anything increased. In a way it is strange when everyone comes down quietly, and Bokuto’s broad form never once appears among them.

Kei feels a twinge of… something. Maybe it’s for the best that Bokuto isn’t here. He doesn’t want to know what strange thing he could end up dragged into if the man was here.

Akaashi enters the gym last, dark hair curling prettily at the nape of his neck, his new number stark against the white of his Fukurodani uniform.

The forlorn feeling that is a bit too much like longing in Kei’s stomach pulses harder.

Fukurodani’s members approach, and beside Kei, Ennoshita is already offering his hand to Akaashi. “Akaashi-san, hi.” He says, smiling. “How was the trip up? It can be a bit rough by bus.”

“It was alright,” Akaashi says. “A bit longer than we’ve traveled for a practice game before, but alright in general.”

“Well I’m glad you all made it!” Ennoshita says. “We were about to start warm-up drills.”

Akaashi nods. “We’ll join you in a bit.” And then he turns his head and his grey eyes meet Kei’s. “Tsukishima, how have you been?”

If Kei were a weaker person, he would blush, or stammer, especially after his realization from last year. But he is Kei so all that really happens is that his hand comes up to adjust his -already very well positioned- glasses. “Good, things haven’t changed much. Congratulations on becoming captain Akaashi-san”

“Thank you, I guess I’ll be telling you the same thing next year?”

As if. Kei smirks. “Probably not, I don’t have the patience.” He looks pointedly at the edge of the court where Hinata and Kageyama seem to be bickering. “I guess you had a lot of practice for it with Bokuto-san.”

Akaashi has the decency to look slightly offended for a second before chuckling. “I sure did. So, it’s going to be Yamaguchi-san?” he asks, sly eyes drifting to the back of the court where Yamaguchi is chatting with the first years. “I can see that, he’s a lot more strong-willed than he looks.”

And Kei just knows Akaashi’s thinking of that one embarrassing episode from training camp -just about everyone ended up finding out- but there’s not much he can say about that. “He is.”

 Akaashi smiles. “I’m looking forward to playing you again.” And with this, he moves on towards the rest of his teammates.

The game itself isn’t quite eventful. Both teams still getting used to both the first years in their lineups and the absence of their seniors. It’s still barely a month after practice started up again, and there is a definite gap where both Fukurodani’s and Karasuno’s cannons used to be.

It ends with a very close Karasuno victory, and Kei catches himself staring at Akaashi more than once for a player he does not go up against at the net regularly.

His form is even better. His form is all Kei should be watching.

Afterward the coaches split them and start working on different drills.

It turns out that the other team isn’t heading back until late afternoon -some issue or other with the bus they came in-so it falls to Karasuno to play hosts and show them around town after lunch.

A bunch of -mostly- taller than average highschoolers walking around a small town is probably a strange sight. But surprisingly no one pays much attention to them.

They visit the few landmarks within walking distance and all but raid a Mochi stand, Kei finds himself sandwiched in a bench between Hinata and Yamaguchi, with Akaashi sitting straight in front of them, a cup of steaming green tea in his hand.

“-but maan,” Hinata is saying, “It would’ve been awesome, we could’ve practiced like at the training camp!”

“I guess so, but Bokuto-san is very busy now,” Akaashi replies, and threads his fingers together around the cup a little too tightly. “It’s still a professional team he was scouted on, and since he isn’t in college, he’s giving it his all.”

“Man, that’s so cool!” Tanaka joins in from the side.

“I can’t believe I received spikes from a pro.” Hinata agrees. “Do you think he’ll maybe show up for the training camp?!”

Akaashi blinks, as if the possibility is something that he hasn’t considered. “He might, I don’t think he’ll have much time though.”

“Oh.” Hinata looks down, the resemblance to a kicked puppy is astounding. “Will you do night practice with us Akaashi-san? Lev will still want to, and we can drag the French Fry and the first years there.”

“I’m right here, Hinata.” Kei growls, despite suddenly being very curious as to why Akaashi seems to be uncomfortable with the current topic.

The ginger huffs. “Do I look like I don’t know that? You could help, you know? I know Kuroo-san gave you his number.”

“Of course, I'm going to harass him to practice with us. He’s in college, idiot he probably has things to do.” Kei purses his lips. “It’s not like I text him often.”

Across from him, he sees a small smile spread over Akaashi’s lips.

“But you do!” Yamaguchi protests from the other side. “I always see his name popping up in Tsukki’s phone.” He says, as if it is anyone else's business. “And if you guys are doing extra practice I want in too”

Kei rolls his eyes. “He occasionally sends me cat pictures. I mostly don’t answer.”

“Wha-rude!” Hinata quips. “You can still ask him.”

“No way.” He looks toward Akaashi in front of him, hoping for some help. But the captain just seems amused.

Hinata pokes his side, and Kei almost sees red “Then give me his number, I’ll ask him.”

“Yeah Tsukishima,” Tanaka says gruffly. “You can’t keep him to yourself.”

“Tsukiiii- “Even Yamaguchi is whining beside him.

“I am not-! You know what?” He turns toward Hinata. “Will you pester him instead of me if I do?” Better Hinata than him, anyway, he is not going to beg Kuroo to come to a training camp like some lovesick girl. No matter how many texts he sends to Kei about inane things, it really isn’t his place.

Besides the older man probably is busy.

“Well duh?”

Kei sighs and sends the number.

They head back quickly after that, Kei lives in the direction that the Fukurodani team is going in, so he is put in charge of them getting in one piece and on time to their bus, as Tadashi is walking Yachi home.

 On the way back he finds himself walking beside Akaashi, a companionable silence stretching between him and the Fukurodani captain.

Kei smiles softly to himself; he feels at ease with Akaashi, perhaps because he is used to the other being the sole island of calm around Kuroo and Bokuto, or because of his demeanor.

Either way, it's nice.

“So, you speak to Kuroo-san often?” The tone isn’t teasing, or mocking, so Kei takes a deep breath and answers.

“We text. Sometimes.”

The clipped answer doesn’t deter Akaashi. “You dislike that?”

“Not really. Most of the time it’s fine, but he is a- “Kei doesn’t know how to put it “-bit too enthusiastic sometimes.”

Akaashi chuckles. “It shows that you've never been in a chat with Bokuto-san. Even in group chats, he’s very- “

“Intense?” Kei tilts his head to the side and his eyes meet Akaashi’s.

“I was going to say hyper, but that works too.” The man smiles, but his expression turns somber not too long after. Kei does not know him all that well, but something definitely seems to be bothering him.

Another person, he might needle a bit more directly, perhaps even allude to Akaashi and Bokuto’s unusual closeness despite the gap in their ages as being more than friendship. “I can’t imagine how he’s been since he started Pro training then.” But he actually likes Akaashi and he does not seem like the kind to get flustered and spill anyways.

So, Kei goes in softly, and it works.

“I guess…” Akaashi’s voice falters a little. “He is very happy.” And there is a note of something, not unlike bitterness but leaning more toward regret, that soaks into his tone.

It is close, so Kei presses forward, voice soft and almost disinterested. “And busy, I imagine. Since he’s a new player and all.”

“Yeah, that too…” Those long, thick eyelashes lower, obscuring Akaashi’s dark eyes. “The volume of the texts has actually decreased. I didn’t think that could happen.” And the thing in Akaashi’s tone is not bitterness or regret, it’s longing.

In the dying amber light, Akaashi looks more like some actor in a movie than a high school student, his skin is painted slightly darker and his eyes shine like polished stones. Caught in his tracks by this for a second, Kei can’t find much in the way of words. “Hm.”

But it’s enough.

“And we don’t do calls often anymore either, but it’s nice he’s so happy.” Akaashi continues, and at this point, for a second Kei gets the distinct impression that he is about to cry.

A need to do something fills Kei. Not only because this was not what he initially aimed to do, but because the face Akaashi’s making is so full of resignation it’s a bit unbearable. “Fit right in, didn’t he?” He says before he can bite it back. “With all the volleyball freaks I mean.”

A watery chuckle escapes Akaashi. “Bokuto-san fits in anywhere, it’s like people can’t dislike him. Even you are fond of him, Tsukishima”

Kei’s about to rebuff, say he really dislikes the Owl, but truth be told and as much as he annoys him, Kei can’t quite say that anymore. “Hm, that is true. But only in a disgusting way.”

“Especially if it’s in a disgusting way.” Akaashi pauses, and breathes in like Hinata does when he is about to start running, or jumping, or doing something equally strenuous. But instead of dashing anywhere, the older boy’s shoulders sag, and he sighs. “I miss him” he says, and it is all Kei can do to not freeze. “It was very easy to forget he was leaving before me.”

Well fuck. Kei wonders what he should say, he has never been particularly good at comforting anyone but Tadashi -and that's more about letting him rant or cry and then giving him food-. Maybe honesty would be est, seeing as Akaashi is so direct “It shows” he blurts out, and, seeing the shine to Akaashi’s eyes, immediately amends “I mean, it sometimes looks like you're waiting for him to come on the court.”

Akaashi nods quietly. “And then he doesn’t.”

“Yeah” The forlorn feeling, the longing that he has been feeling since morning, that seems to relate to Akaashi so much unfurls in Kei’s stomach. He lets it. “It’s a shame, they were a pain in the ass, but I'm going to miss playing them.”

“So am I,” Akaashi says, a bit more composed, smiling softly at Kei “But there’s always college volleyball”

Around them, the streetlights switch on in both sides of the road, bathing the world in orange.

“Do you really think we’ll have the time?” Kei’s only partly being sarcastic, he knows the effort that kind of thing takes.

“Kuroo-san makes the time.” Akaashi says.

Kei scoffs, and turns towards the other man, a grin pulling at his cheeks. “That’s because he doesn't sleep”

A laugh escapes Akaashi, and Kei feels a bit lighter. In the scarce light of the streetlamps, the other boy seems relieved too. For the rest of the way back they settle back into that comfortable silence, the chatter of all the other Fukurodani students surrounding them.

“Well, here we are,” Akaashi says once the bus is within sight. “Thank you from making sure we got here on time Tsukishima.”

“You’re welcome Akaashi-san.”

“You can drop the honorific,” Akaashi says, softly. “It was good to see you." He pauses for a moment, eyes sharp and assessing. "May I have your number? Just in case.” At Kei’s startled look, he smiles. “I won't blow up your phone. I promise.”

“S-sure.” It comes out as more of a question than anything, the smile throwing him off balance way more than it should, but he grabs Akaashi's phone as it's offered.

Once he is done, Kei passes the phone back and the setter looks up at Kei. “Well then, see you, Tsukishima.”

Kei takes the hand that Akaashi offers him, for once feeling quite at ease with the day he has just had.

.

.

FROM: UNKNOWN NUMBER- 19:32

Tsukishima, this is Akaashi Keiji.

FROM: NEKOMA KUROO-SAN- 18:52

Tsukki, did you give Shrimpy and your Seniors my #?

Because I am suddenly in a group chat with them.

But there are so many stickers, Tsukki, SO MANY!

And I have no idea what they want.

I’m giving Bokuto your # just so you know. ;3

FROM: UNKNOWN NUMBER- 18:56

*sent a sticker*

*sent a sticker*

*sent a sticker*

YO TSUKKI!

.

.

Chapter Text

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -KARASUNO 15:45

So, it’s a no on that?

I’d take the gray ones, no stripes... or Owls

Even Bokuto-san never dared to have so much going on in his legs.

Are you alright?

FROM: ME 15:50

Pretty much, unless disaster strikes, or some bored deity moves Kyoto.

Hmm I am getting the plain ones for practice.

If they are tolerable to wear, I’ll consider the Owl ones.

I… think so. It was never a big chance.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -KARASUNO 16:01

Sorry, I know you wanted to see him.

Oh god.

You like the Owl ones, don’t you?

If you say so.

FROM: ME 16:10

It’s fine. Maybe better, really. I am not sure I know how to react to him anymore.

Tsukishima Kei, you own dinosaur print compression socks.

You do not get to criticize my Owls.

I do. We can still hang out, you know?

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI 16:13

I’m pretty sure a lack of exposure to Bokuto-san won’t make you faint when you see him.

My dinosaurs are anatomically correct and they do not have bows.

(Birds do not wear clothes, Akaashi)

As long as that us doesn’t include Hinata… or Lev

FROM: ME 16:17

Better not to find out. I’m not seeing him so.

For all we know now they had feathers, so there goes your correctness.

(So?)

You know we’re going to end up playing with them at night at least once, don’t you?

But no, I meant us two.

.

.

This year's Golden Week training camp is hosted in Fukurodani.

It’s convenient for Keiji at least. He will be sleeping at his home not subjected to anyone’s snoring or having to share a bathroom.

He arrives at his usual time and is surprised to find that the Nekoma and Shinzen teams are already there. Only Karasuno is missing, but that is to be expected. There is a limit to how early one can coordinate with a bunch of teenagers to get up.

In his pocket, his phone buzzes.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI 6:32

Entering Tokyo now.

Hinata is drooling, it’s horrible.

Often, he wonders if it is strange that he and Tsukishima seem to do so well texting each other when neither of them is fond of it in general. Still, it has become very common to do it at least once a day. Most often it is to complain about Tsukishima’s teammates’ antics or how being captain is very different from just being the one in charge of Bokuto’s moods.

Other days they talk more though, about random things, about Bokuto -Tsukishima had the honor of being the first person Keiji told about his failed attempt to confess at graduation last March- abut Tsukishima’s brother. Keiji feels very at ease with it all, Tsukishima listens and he only teases where he knows it will be welcome.

It is nice.

Nice enough that he actually felt better after opening up to the blond and pouring out his frustrations about Bokuto all but having disappeared from his life as of late.

After being basically glued at the hip, in three months all Akaashi has gotten is the occasional text form the silver-haired man. It stings, but it’s not like there's anything to be done about it.

Maybe it is for the best.

The drills will start once everyone is changed, Karasuno will probably not be in for another hour still, so it doesn’t make much sense to wait.

Keiji busies himself with serves.

But he still does not miss the crows’ arrival, they come in quietly, as if trying not to disturb practice though they draw literally everyone’s attention, and his coach quickly ushers them towards the locker rooms.

Tsukishima stands out among them, all long limbs and shiny golden hair. His eyes manage to meet Keiji’s as he’s being pushed into the changing room by Hinata.

Keiji can only imagine the way he rolls his eyes as he lets himself be pushed along.

The practice goes by smoothly enough, with it being the first day the coaches lump them together by court position for the morning, promising some matches in the afternoon if they behave.

So, the day passes quickly, it is easy to get lost in Volleyball, even if sometimes a particular spike or yell reminds him of Bokuto and the place in his chest where that hole is widens just a bit.

Night arrives. Keiji is minding his own business, filling his tray with the least heavy food he can find since it’s already late. He could technically have dinner at his house, but his parents are both out working late, so it would just mean cooking for himself.

Until he is ambushed by something fast and orange.

Hinata beams up at him and promptly gestures towards Tsukishima, whom he’s holding by the wrist. The other man sports a pinched look like he very much wants to hang Hinata by his ears at the moment. His cheeks are slightly plink under narrowed golden eyes.

“C’mon Tsukishima, ask him!” Hinata urges. “You two are friends, aren't you?”

Tsukishima rolls his eyes. “Maybe I want to spare my friend the suffering.” He drawls, and Hinata squeaks indignantly. “I don’t think we’re getting out of this one.”  His golden gaze meets Keiji's.

“Well, we did agree we’d humor them at least once.” Keiji says, a small, amused smile at the edge of his mouth.

Tsukishima frowns. “I never agreed to anything and you just mentioned it.”

Keiji just raises an eyebrow at him. It isn’t even that Tsukishima doesn’t want the extra practice, he's just being purposefully difficult because it's Hinata dragging him into it. “Well Hinata has you caught.” He smirks. “I could leave you to suffer alone.” Tsukishima’s frown deepens at that.

Hinata shoots the blond a dirt look. “Please Akaashi-san? Kenma won't toss to us for more than half an hour.”

Keiji looks at Hinata's shiny puppy eyes and then back up to Tsukishima’s barely there pout, and he chuckles. “Ok.”

“Yesss!” Hinata jumps -and I’s not any less scary than in the court- but Keiji is mostly looking at the small smile on the corner of Tsukishima’s mouth.

A bit of warmth, not unfamiliar at all, curls around in his stomach as he finds himself being tugged to a table along with the blond.

.

.

 

Kei chucks the volleyball towards the cart.

Of course it’s him and Akaashi stuck cleaning up after everyone else went way over their limit and all but collapsed -Kenma from Nekoma was asleep like thirty minutes into the practice, and Kei can’t even find it in himself to blame him-. The only other functioning person at the end of the practice was Tadashi, and he was given the task to get everyone to their rooms without waking the coaches up.

Then again, cleaning up with a sleepy Hinata and Lev isn’t a better prospect -the flailing appendages, the face planting into walls and benches- Kei has seen it all.

So yes, he and the Fukurodani captain methodically make their way through the room picking up volleyballs and gear and whatever else they can find.

Each one of them has taken a side of the court. Kei scours the stands with his eyes, hoping he hasn’t missed something in the upper stands, his legs ache more than he cares to admit.

“I think I got everything on this side” Akaashi’s voice rings through the empty court.

“I’m done too” Kei yawns. “I'm surprised it didn’t take longer.”

“You mean because they left us to do it on our own?” Akaashi’s smiling as he pushes his own cart towards the edge of the court. “Or because they insisted on doing jump serves?”

Kei snorts. And points up at the walkway above the stands. “The jump serves, mostly, I found balls way up there.”

“And that’s without Bokuto-san here.” Akaashi says, voice warm, somewhat content. “Come on, the storage room is over here.”

Kei follows shortly, pushing his own cart towards the small door on the edge of the court.

The storage room is large, but cramped, nothing surprising considering that Fukurodani has various sports clubs in the national level. Akaashi shows him where to stash the carts while Kei wonders how many footballs a school really needs. “You have to put that chain around it.” The older man instructs, reaching around Kei to hand him a short length of silver chain attached to the wall. In the cramped space his chest presses flush to Kei’s back. “Otherwise they are going to slide out when the basketball team gets their balls tomorrow, and then the whole room will get messy.” Kei nods mutely, fighting back a shiver when Akaashi’s breath fans over his neck. “It’s like gear Tetris.”

Kei is barely listening, maybe in other circumstances he’d be a lot more amused by the thought of a bunch of sports knuckleheads stuck trying to retrieve the locked in carts. Right now, however, he can feel each warm inch of Akaashi’s body against his back and that is taking up most of his brainpower. “There,” he says, about half an octave higher than his usual tone. “Done.”

“Good, uh, Tsukishima?” Behind him Akaashi sounds flustered, his voice high as well, Kei would look back and confirm but he has his own predicaments right now.

“Yes?” Really, it is a miracle he manages to say that with an even voice, Kei’s starting to get annoyed, why won’t Akaashi just step back and let him breathe?

“Um- Can you please move? I’m kind of stuck between you and the hurdles back here.” Akaashi says with what’s the most obviously faux calm voice ever.

What the hell is Akaashi talking about? Of course, Kei isn’t! He looks back, forcing himself to bypass the way Akaashi’s cheeks are pink and his eyes won't meet Kei’s. The dark-haired man is indeed stuck between his own cart, the hurdles, and  -there’s no other way to put it- Kei’s butt.

Kei groans and his face burns. “Ah, sorry. Didn’t notice that.”

Or noticed it too much.

He slides from the compromising position as coolly as he can and heads out of the room, all the while avoiding Akaashi’s face.

Behind Kei the lights of the storage room and the court are shut down one after another. He walks straight towards the locker rooms, sweaty, tired, and very disconcerted. Quickly, he undresses and slides into one of the stalls, even more, glad than he usually would be for the smoked glass partitions.

A quiet rustle and the click of a locker snapping shut alerts him to Akaashi’s presence. The other man picks a shower on the other end of the row and Kei thanks the heavens for the his demure nature. Unlike certain other people that he knows would be acting like idiots right now, and if the small incident in the storage room already has his heart racing, he can’t imagine if Kuroo and Bokuto were here to tease him about stuff.

He sighs and turns the water on colder, not a line of thought he wants to follow.

Once he’s calmed down enough, Kei emerges from the shower quickly drying himself off and donning some underwear -he’s not going to head back in a towel for god’s sake, Tanaka always does that and it has turned out badly more than once- and heads back. Akaashi is already there, rummaging through his locker, wearing nothing but socks and a pair of dark blue sweatpants.

Oh.

Kei’s suddenly glad that Akaashi’s facing away, he is very sure he is blushing, hard.

The setter’s svelte frame is another one that is going to haunt him.

As he walks quickly over to his bag, Kei wracks his brain for something to say, some conversation that brings the room back to their usual comfortable silence instead of…

Instead of whatever this is. “So… Do you still want to hang out on Friday?” They have the afternoon off on that day, and Akaashi initially suggested they go somewhere interesting -because the rest of Karasuno is planning to go to some trampoline place and Kei’s pretty sure that’s a sure recipe for Hinata breaking someone's bones, or glasses.

Or his own, whatever.

Kei’s voice breaks the tense silence quite ungracefully, startled, Akaashi jumps a bit. “Hm? Oh Yes.”

“I mean, it’s fine if you have something else to do” he says, backtracking a bit. Maybe it’s not such a great idea.

“No, no.” he dark-haired man quickly says, shaking his head almost nervously, his long fingers tangled together and pulling at each other. “I don’t. Are you sure you don’t want to go to…? What was it? Trampoland?”

“I’d rather not risk anyone landing on me. It’s a bit more dangerous with these.” Kei shrugs, pointing at his glasses. “But really, I can stay in and read.”

Akaashi rolls his eyes, finally finding what he was looking for inside his locker – a shirt and thank god it is-. “You like being difficult, don’t you?” He says, as Kei is pulling his own sweatpants up. “There’s a new exposition at the NSM.”

Fucking Akaashi and his sensible interests and that stupid shirt he is struggling to get on “The one with the new sea fossils?” Kei tries not to seem too enchanted by the prospect, but the other man is onto him, Akaashi just smirks.

“Yeah, they also have some texts from a shipwreck in the 1600s” he says sheepishly. “I usually go to these things alone, but you actually like them so…”

“Sure, let's do that.” It counts as a personal win to Kei that it comes out sounding neither nervous nor overly excited. He bends down to grab his t-shirt, but he must do it too fast or in a weird angle or something because pain shoots through his calve. “Ow, fuck.”

 

 

Akaashi turns too him. “Are you alright?” He says, eyes running up and down Kei’s form, trying to find the source of his discomfort as Kei does his best to ignore the pain and put on his shirt. “Did you bump into the bench?”

“No.” Kei carefully shifts his body so he can drop onto the bench.  “My calf muscles cramped up. It happens sometimes.”

“I remember, last year at nationals,” Akaashi says, as he takes a step towards Kei and crouches down to examine his -still very cramped up- leg. “Does it happen often?”

“Mostly when I practice spikes for too long.” Kei scoffs, amazed that Akaashi had noticed that from so far. “It’s a wonder it didn’t happen earlier last year I-” whatever comment he was going to make, however, gets lost when he feels long, calloused fingers begin prodding at the back of his leg. “Wha-”

“Stay still for a second.” Akaashi hums, fingers pressing deeper, finding a spot that makes Kei yelp when he presses it. “You have a muscle spasm; you haven’t gotten it looked at?”

“Ow! What- It doesn’t happen that often- Ow-” those hands continue, tracing the tense cord of muscle up and down.

“Well your leg says otherwise, it’s all knotted up.” Akaashi rises. “Lie down on the bench, I can loosen it up a little.”

Kei blushes, of course, he knows Akaashi definitely does not mean that in the way that his traitorous mind has decided to interpret it. The whole thing is very clear in this context and he trusts Akaashi. But it still manages to fluster him for a second. He sighs, and with some help from the setter, lies face down on the bench. “You get these too?”

“Not really.” Akaashi walks over to his locker, Kei hears him squirt something into his hands. “Bokuto-san does though, usually after matches, it’s like he won't let his muscles cramp up before.”

“Or he’s just too into the game to realize it?” Kei offers. “That’s like a requirement for the monster squad.”

Akaashi chuckles.  “True that. Didn't Hinata play with a fever at that same match?”

Kei snorts, as if anyone could forget. “Yeah, everyone was pissed. It sucked.”

“That’s probably worse.” Even though he doesn’t turn his head, Kei knows full the disbelieving smile that has taken over Akaashi’s features. The other man continues in the same deep, commanding tone from when he told Kei to lie down. “Ready?”

Kei’s leg throbs, as if reminding him why he's in this position in the first place. “Please.” Then those wonderful, long fingers are wrapping around Kei’s leg, slowly working the tense muscle over from the pit of his knee to the tendon at his heel, gliding smoothly over his skin thanks to the cream in Akaashi’s hands. It alternates between feeling very nice to a sort of dull pain when Akaashi’s fingers press into the knots.

“Hmmm,” Akaashi says, after a few seconds.

Drifting between feeling very relaxed and controlling himself to stop from making any embarrassing noise, Kei barely acknowledges it. “Hm?”

“It’s nothing.” Akaashi says, pressing down into a knot, making Kei bite his lip in order not to yelp. “This is a bit different. Bokuto-san used to get them on his quadriceps”

Now that gets Kei’s attention. “And you massaged that for him?” he cannot help the sardonic tone or the way he knows his eyebrows have lifted, Akashi won't mind anyway, not since they’ve become somewhat close. “With that big crush you have on him?”

As expected, Akashi only laughs, the sound low. Kei has known for a while about the whole Bokuto thing – not that it wasn’t obvious since before-, he provided support when Akaashi decided to invite Bokuto for the training camp and did his best to distract the other man when it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen. “Especially with that big old crush. Why? You wouldn’t?”

“Of course not?” he says, and whatever Kei was going to follow that up with dies in his tongue when Akaashi’s fingers press into a particularly tender spot. “Mmmm.”

“Is that a question?” Kei doesn’t really know, and Akaashi’s fingers are still kneading at a particularly sensitive spot. Briefly, he imagines wrapping his hands around someone's muscular thigh and working at the hard muscle with his fingers. The problem is that the person is faceless for only a couple of seconds before dark hair and an ample smirk come to Kei’s mind.

“No, I mean I’ve never been in that position.” He grumbles, silently praying that the other man will let it be.

“But that was a long pause.” Akaashi’s voice is soft. “Were you thinking about someone?”

Kei chokes, face burning. “Not particularly.”

“Really?” Akaashi’s voice is still soft and smooth, but there is a small, daring edge to it. “So it wasn’t Kuroo-san?”

“Wha-“ Kei jumps, or flails, or something, because the next second his hand on the floor and Akaashi’s on his leg are the only thing stopping him from faceplanting into the floor. He turns his head around and glares at Akaashi. “No! I don’t even- I-”

“Oh. Sorry, my mistake.” Akaashi’s voice does not sound apologetic, if anything it sounds smug. The man’s hands quickly switch to Kei’s other leg, massaging languidly, finding the sore spots all over.

Kei sighs, he kind of wants to lash out, but then again, that’s not an Akaashi strategy, it’s a Hinata strategy, it might get him in deeper. And who’s to say that actually talking about this instead of ruminating on it -which he has been doing for a whole year- would not yield at least some peace of mind.

At least Akaashi won’t tease him about it -in public- or tell the team.

“Is it that obvious?” He’s aware that asking someone as observant as Akaashi will likely just yield an affirmative answer. But he is here, isn’t he?

“That you’re gay or that you were thinking about Kuroo?” Akaashi says, calm, almost nonchalant. It’s probably to try and help Kei feel more at ease. Anyways, he’s thankful for it.

“Both?” he takes a deep breath, concentrating on the pleasant sensation of Akaashi’s hand on his leg. “I don’t- I haven’t come out to anyone.”

“No?” He sounds surprised. “I figured you all just… weren’t making a big deal out of it.”

I am not, I realized last year at camp.” Kei huffs. Does Akaashi think his sempais would have the decency to be quiet about it?  “That’s it, it’s not a big thing. My brother and my mom always knew, I didn't even have to tell them and I'm pretty sure Yamaguchi knows, and Sugawara definitely does, but that’s it.”

“And now I know.” Akashi says, giving Kei’s arm a reassuring squeeze “Are you sure it’s fine? I won’t mention it if it makes you uncomfortable Tsukishima.”

In the quiet moment that ensues, he mulls over it for a second.

“It’s fine.” Kei rolls his eyes, of course now, Akaashi takes the time to get all bashful and correct. “Like I haven’t been hearing you talk about Bokuto all this time, that’s way more embarrassing.”

Laughter escapes the other man, low pitched and genuine, and Kei can’t help his smile “Hey!” Akaashi says, and then pauses for a moment. “So, you realized at camp? Kuroo-san does have a nice body. I can’t blame you, really you looked-.”

Akaashi sharing his opinion on Kuroo isn’t what Kei expected, but it’s not upsetting either. At least this way Kei knows he is not crazy and, seeing that Kuroo was not the only one he found attractive last year, it’s reassuring.

-and for a second, he muses on what Akaashi would say about him, if asked, but that idea dies rapidly right where it sprouted. -

Still, he didn’t think it had been so obvious. “Oh stop!” he says, this receding blush coming back full force.

Akaashi chuckles. “Ok, then. You’re the one who asked.”

And then he stops talking, and Kei just knows that he’s massaging his leg with this amused, shit-eating grin on his face.

So, he takes a deep breath, and man’s up, already surprised with how easy it is to just talk about these things to the other man. “What were you going to say?”

“Oh, nothing Tsukishima.” The hands at his leg redouble their efforts, and for a second Kei feels relaxed enough to let it go.

But like hell he is letting the other man think he can't handle something like this. Kei turns his head and glares at Akaashi, who just stares back with this perfectly innocent expression. “Akaashi.”

“Well…” He says, a grin slowly spreading across his lips. “you looked at his legs a lot. And his back. And you let him drag you to practice with us. It wasn’t subtle at all.” Akaashi shrugs, as if it’s not a big deal, as if he has not just laid Kei bare.

Kei only finds it in himself to frown. “Finally realizing why girls were never that interesting to me will do that.”

Akaashi’s eyes meet his -and Kei might be a bit delirious because there’s the slightest hint of a blush on the setter’s face-, they are dark and bright, and full of mirth. “Don’t worry, it was like a millimeter off from your usual scowl.”

“Thankfully most of my teammates are as thick as brick walls.” Kei says, with a sigh and a yawn

“That probably helps.” The dark, amused timbre of Akaashi’s voice is doing a bunch of things it shouldn’t be to Kei. “I think most of my team knew, about me, I mean. You’ve said yourself that it was pretty obvious. Thankfully Bokuto-san was not my first crush, or I’d have probably self-combusted at some point last year.”

For once, when Akaashi mentions Bokuto there isn’t a shred of wistfulness or sadness to it, and it’s more than refreshing enough to Kei, he keeps going, out of curiosity mostly. “He wasn’t?”

The other man shakes his head. “No, when I was a first-year and I wasn’t a starter I used to hook up with my class president.” His eyebrows and nose scrunch up at the memory, but he continues. “He turned out to be a jerk and then I started setting more for Bokuto-san and that was it.”

Akaashi is smiling, as if it’s just some random, boring thing he’s recounting, he’s so calm that Kei doesn’t really know how to follow that, so he just lays his head back down and hums in response.

For another minute of comfortable silence and Akaashi’s hands rubbing over his thigh, Kei feels like he’s about to drift off. As if sensing this, Akaashi nudges him up into a sitting position. “There, all done” He says, and maybe it’s the sleep getting in Kei’s eyes, but his long eyelashes and fair skin make an even prettier picture. “Put something warm on them when you go to sleep.”

“Thank you Akaashi, it really does feel better,” Kei says. And he means to pat Akaashi on the shoulder, a very normal, very platonic gesture. But his eyes are still sleep heavy, trained on Akaashi’s face, and the hand that falls on Akaashi’s shoulder slides down his arm gently, lingering.

Akaashi’s eyes flicker down to Kei’s mouth, just for a second, and Kei mimics the gesture, just because he has been avoiding forming any opinions on it. His lips are thin, and they look soft.

“Tsukishima.” He is close enough that Kei can feel his warm breath on his skin. “Have you kissed…”He pauses, trying to find the words. “anyone?”

It’s a whisper, a secret spoken into an empty locker room of an empty court in an empty building. Something unfurls in Kei’s chest, it is light and warm, and somehow stops him from choking on the words that come out of his mouth. “Girls, before.”

Akaashi’s looking at his lips again. And it’s unbearable, Kei knows what is coming. His mouth is dry and there’s heat humming under his skin. He wants this.

“Can I-“

Kei has never been the best at saying things, at least not the ones that matter, he’s too self-aware and just awkward enough for it to be a challenge, so before Akaashi’s done talking, before his courage runs out Kei surges forward. He leans down and plants a soft, firm kiss on Akaashi’s lips, already half expecting to be rebuffed.

But Akaashi responds eagerly, one of his hands fists Kei’s t-shirt while the other settles on the juncture between his jaw and his neck. His lips push insistently at Kei’s

And it’s all kinds of wonderful.

Almost enough to stop Kei from freaking out.

Almost.

“Akaa- Aren’t you supposed to- I thought you-“ Akaashi pulls back, and he looks at Kei with a wide-eyed, quizzical gaze. His eyes are shiny and his lips are pink, and Kei curses his mouth for a second.

The other man tilts his head to the side. “Bokuto-san?” Kei nods. “We’re not together, and he’s not here. Same as Kuroo-san” He looks down. “You are, and I want to- it doesn’t have to be a thing if-“

“Yes.” The words are out before Kei has a chance to know what they are. “I- it doesn’t have to-“

And, much like Kei did before, Akaashi cuts him off, those soft lips pressing hungrily against his, tongue licking into his mouth. From their earlier conversation, Kei knows the other man has more experience than he does, but the feeling of closeness, of touch, is too good, too much.

The angles are slightly awkward at first, there are noses bumping and for seconds at a time Kei feels clumsy, before he lets himself be swept away again.

They keep on kissing, frantically, softly, everything in between, Akaashi scoots closer, and closer to Kei until he’s slipping a thigh over him, settling on his lap as Kei softly sucks little red spots into the column of his neck.

Kei’s hands have long since slipped under the soft fabric of Keiji’s t-shirt and they idly stroke the skin of his back that he so avoided looking at earlier.

Kei isn't all that sure where this is going.

They are in the middle of a particularly messy kiss when that thought comes to him, and he freezes, hands still at the small of Akaashi’s back. “Is everything alright?” The setter asks, his swollen lips twisted in concern.

“It’s nothing I just- I” Kei has momentarily forgotten how to speak it seems, mentally he’s running through so many sentences, ranging from ‘come back here’ to ‘we should forget this ever happened’ but none takes, so he sputters and meets Akaashi’s eyes.

Somehow it is enough.

“Too much?” The other man asks, a hand on Kei’s cheek.

Tsukishima frowns. “A bit, I’d never…”

“Made out with someone?”

“Clearly.”  He looks up, Akashi’s face is guarded, waiting for Kei to make his move. Kei clears his throat. “But it was good.”

“Very.” The guardedness melts away, and Akaashi smiles. “We should leave it there for today, though. I was supposed to be home by eleven.”

Kei glances at the clock on the wall, it’s past midnight. “Are the buses even running at this hour?”

“No, but I live close by.”

“Oh.” Kei can’t think of any more to say, suddenly, they are back to a comfortable, warm silence. They both finish dressing, and though Kei can't quite look at Akaashi’s mouth -nor does he think he ever will be able to- everything feels fine.

Akaashi accompanies him to the inn where Karasuno is staying for the week. “See you tomorrow, Tsukishima.” He says, and he doesn’t kiss Kei goodbye, and Kei doesn’t ask him to.

And all through the night, Kei sleeps deeply and soundly.

Chapter Text

Its Thursday morning, day four of the training camp, earlier than anyone should ever have to get up, but drills start early and Keiji is the captain, he is supposed to be a good example for everyone else.

Which brings him to his current predicament. For once he curses the fact that he does not have siblings, neither older nor younger. A sister would be salvation incarnate right now.

Because, really, Keiji has a very conspicuous hickey on the side of his neck and -god help him- the only  person within his reach that owns some sort of makeup he could cover the offending spot with is his mom, who is still asleep in her room.

And that is not happening.

But he still has to get to practice in like fifteen minutes.

The bruise is low on his neck, almost at the place where his trapezium comes out, maybe his shirt will partially cover it? Gods, if he weren’t so pale it would stand out less.

Or if it were anywhere else, really, there’s another on his chest, almost to his side, but that can be hidden by just changing quickly.

Keiji sighs, glancing at the clock on the wall, very well aware that he is already late. And he does the one thing he can think of, since the team doesn’t have a manager for this year, he takes a picture as fast as he can so as not to lose his nerve and sends it to Tsukishima.

FROM: ME 6:13

**attached image**

Please tell me your manager brought makeup.

Tsukishima doesn’t respond right away, he’s probably having breakfast anyways. Keiji walks back to his room he shrugs on his shirt- which doesn’t cover the thing at all- and jacket and a blue scarf that has seen better days.

He sets off to school, the streets are busy even though it's golden week there's enough people walking around that he doesn't feel unsafe even this early, when it's still a little dark, halfway there he feels his phone vibrate.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI-KARASUNO 6:22

Fuck.

Sorry.

I didn’t notice.

Meet me in the bathrooms in front of the cafeteria.

There’s no reassurance that Tsukishima actually got something to cover the hickey with, but Keiji doesn’t have a backup plan. This is not a situation he thought he would ever be in.

The school is luckily empty on golden week, the bathroom Tsukishima said to meet him in is fairly out of the way, neither his teammates nor the other players should be around, still, Keiji rushes through the dark chilly corridors.

Tsukishima is leaning against the sinks, face slightly flushed and stance stiff. His eyes soften once they land on Keiji but it doesn’t make the atmosphere any less awkward.

After all, what's happening between them isn’t a thing.

“Hey.” Keiji greets, eyes not meeting Tsukishima’s. “Did you manage to get it?”

Tsukishima’s gaze feels heavy on Keiji. “Yeah…” he says, producing a couple of small tubes from his pocket as he trails off. “I- uh sorry.” He says, eyes glued onto the marble of the sinks.

“Don’t worry, I’m not mad,” Keiji says, hand coming up to pat Tsukishima’s shoulder. “I just hope that the makeup covers it.”

Keiji actually really wishes that he could be mad at Tsukishima for this, but he always has bruised more easily than most people. Any intense receiving practice often ends up with his arms dotted red, and when he was a kid he’d often find bruises on his arms and legs from things that hadn't even hurt.

What Tsukishima and him did last night definitely didn’t hurt.

“Hopefully?” the blond says, turning over the little tubes in his hand. “Yachi said that she wasn’t sure it would match your skin.”

Keiji freezes in his tracks “You told her it was for me?”

“No!” Tsukishima scoffs. “Who do you think I am? I just said it was a friend. Yachi’s cool, she won’t say anything.”

Truly, as long as the thing becomes at least half as conspicuous, he won't mind if he’s walking around with a giant green patch on his neck. Else he’ll never hear the end of it. “That’s good to hear.” Keiji says dryly, as his hands rise to take off the scarf and lower the zipper of his jacket. “Will you help me with it?”

Tsukishima looks at his face and then his eyes drift down to the purple splotch above the neck of Keiji’s shirt. “I have no idea how to do it though.”

“Do you think I do?” Keiji says, mildly agitated, fingers flexing and unflexing rapidly.

Tsukishima sighs. “Ok.” His hand comes up and brushes against the mark. “I really am sorry”

Keiji takes a deep breath, his heart suddenly racing despite the situation. “I told you, it’s fine. My skin bruises easily. Just be careful next time.” He tries to tack on a smile to the end of that sentence, to seem calm, even though he’s anything but.

Tsukishima seems to buy it though. “Are you sure? I don’t mind if you uh- didn’t want to do that again.” His hesitant tone bothers Keiji for some reason, it’s like he’s talking about something other than he is.

“It’s a hickey Tsukishima. There’s another on my side.” He looks away, gritting his teeth a little, cheeks burning “You’re acting like you stabbed me.”

“I know.” The blond huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. “You just seem mad.”

Keiji’s eyes widen. “I’m not.” He says, voice small, fingers hooking nervously onto each other. “I’m just freaked out. This kind of thing makes other people annoying. And I don’t like that”

It’s a stupid thing, sure, getting teased is annoying but it shouldn't be this uncomfortable. Briefly he remembers the first time Bokuto showed up to practice sporting one. He had been dating Himekawa-san from class 3 and he wore the little bruise like a medal.

Keiji wishes he had the self-confidence or that he was suave enough to brush it off, or something.

But when he tries to imagine doing that himself he just feels ridiculous.

Through his spiraling thoughts, he distantly notices Tsukishima’s hand tightening around his shoulder. “Hey, it’s fine.” he says, and that anchors Keiji enough to draw a deep breath. “Yachi said to use the green one first then the peach.” He says, uncapping the first tube, it’s kind of a mochi green.

Keiji frowns. “Won’t that just make brown?”

Tsukishima's hand leaves his shoulder but the warm sensation linger, truly, he's not mad, and Tsukishima is gentle enough, sort of hesitant with every new thing.

It's nice, And Keiji doesn't want to stop it, at least for the three days they have left.

“I asked the same.” The blond says, staring at the very green, creamy substance on its applicator. “She said the green would neutralize the red? And to blend it properly.”

“Like mix them?” Keiji says, other than putting mascara on once on a dare he has no experience with makeup, not even from a sister r cousin, and as far as he knows, neither does Tsukishima.

In fact, the other’s puzzled face is a dead giveaway. “Uh, sort of. I thought it was more like spreading it thin.”

Maybe it’s the situation, maybe it’s the fact that Tsukishima looks very aggravated with the green tube, but Keiji laughs.

And then Tsukishima laughs, deep and tinged with amusement, and when they’re done Keiji's cheeks hurt and he feels a bit lighter.

“Well, go ahead.” He says.

.

.

They are exactly twenty-three minutes late to practice.

After having to wash off the makeup twice -it kept looking too green- and three Youtube videos, the bruise reached a nice coverage.

The patch is noticeably lighter than Keiji’s skin, but at least it doesn’t stand out on sight.

So Keiji hopes.

.

.

“Tsukki, are you mad at Akaashi-san?” Yamaguchi’s voice startles him, and Kei notices that for what’s probably the thirtieth time today he’s spaced out looking at Akaashi.

More specifically Akaashi’s neck where a light patch draws his eyes like a hawk on a country mouse.

“No.” He says, turning to Tadashi, face neutral. “Why would you say that?”

Tadashi rolls his eyes at him, and Kei wonders when his best friend became so sassy. “Because you keep glaring at him?” he says, voice coated in annoyance. “Did you two have a fight last night tidying up?”

Kei is very, very thankful that this is Tadashi, because if that comment had come from anyone else he’d probably have imploded.

He still might.

Images from last night do come to the forefront of his mind though, it definitely wasn’t a fight – he has to shut down thoughts of Akaashi’s skin, of how the godforsaken hickey came to be in the first place-.

“No, and I’m not glaring at him.”

“Sure,” Tadashi says, voice dripping with sarcasm.

Kei all but growls. “Drop it.”

“I’m just saying you look mad.” Tadashi shrugs. “Like when Kuroo-san teases you mad.”

“Well I’m not.” He says, rolling his eyes -and if what Tadashi just said is true he actually feels relieved that this is how the other has come to interpret it, because that look is not anger at all-.

Not mad, a bit concerned, if anything. Akaashi is usually the more put together of the two of them -if only because Kei has less experience than him- but today he arrived frazzled, wringing his hands like he wanted to twist his own fingers off. And though he was a lot more relaxed by the time they finally got the bruise properly covered -how do women do that? and quickly too- it still somewhat bothers him.

He hasn't noticed anything else since morning though, so maybe he is being overzealous.

Dinner passes as a quiet affair. Even Hinata is surprisingly quiet and excuses himself from the table without much fuss.

Kei almost has enough time to process that he hasn’t been dragged to the gym -almost enough time to get disappointed about it too- before Hinata reappears, bright eyes, and shit-eating grin in place. Behind him stand Lev and Akaashi, looking confused.

“C’mon Tsukishima! I have a surprise for everyone.” Hinata all but screams, and for some unknown reason dread settles in Kei’s stomach.

“Aren’t you just going to drag us off to practice again?” Kei rolls his eyes and yawns. “Why up the theatrics?”

“Because I have an actual surprise, you dumbass.” Hinata says, mimicking the eye-roll with surprising  skill.

“Yeah, sure.” Kei scoffs. “Another way to receive with your face?”

“Oh, shut up and follow me, you ass.”

He looks at Akaashi, but the setter only shrugs, apparently Hinata has kept this -whatever it is- very quiet. They follow him to the usual gymnasium, Lev chattering away. Akaashi and Kei quietly exchanging glances.

Kei is -again- preoccupied with Akaashi’s neck, so the only reason he looks up is Akaashi’s small gasp, and he does so just in time to see the setter to get tackled by an armful of large, overexcited volleyball player.

One with ridiculously high silver hair.

“AKAASHI!!”

Kei is sure his eyes can’t go any wider, until a familiar voice somewhere in front of him startles him. “Whoa, Bo! We need him for practice.” There’s no taking a deep breath, no pulling himself together, Kei can’t not turn around immediately, so he does and takes it all in.

Kuroo is smirking that damned, lopsided smirk that made Kei realize that he liked men in the first place. He wears a white muscle shirt and black shorts that are just high enough that the defined muscles of his thighs look even nicer. “Hi Tsukki.”

The world stops for a second and Kei’s blood boils a little.

“Hello, Kuroo-san”

.

.

Kuroo Tetsuro is a pretty laid-back guy.

At least he likes to believe that.

His college experience so far has mostly been comprised of him enjoying everything that has been put in front of him, from classes, to volleyball, to parties.  He has the time to do everything right. And when he doesn’t he makes some. However, Tetsuro is very aware of the fact that there are a couple of things that he just can’t be that chill about.

Volleyball, of course.

And Tsukishima Kei.

And he would be lying if he were to say that he didn’t blow writing an essay off when Hinata finally -after many, many stickers- got his point across in the group chat.

The blond, tall bane of his existence stands right in front of him, staring at Tetsuro with a mix of surprise and dread.  He has grown even taller, his blond hair falls softly, framing his face in loose curls, it's longer than Tetsuro has ever seen him. His fingers itch to run through it. He gulps, a year is a long time to pine over someone. “Hi Tsukki.”

Somehow, Tsukishima’s frown manages to deepen. “Hello, Kuroo-san.” He says, and whips his head back immediately to the place where Bokuto is all but squeezing the life out of Akaashi, Tetsuro's eyes follow.

Oh, young love.

“See guys! I got them both to come! Isn’t it amazing!” Tetsuro almost jumps at the squeaky voice, he feels a bit guilty, for a second he forgot Hinata and Lev were even there, standing just to Tsukki’s left.

“Awesome! We’ll see if you can block me now, Capt- I mean Kuroo-san.” Lev says, and Tetsuro turns to look at them. Hinata has that shine to his eyes… it’s gonna be a long night.

“It was a great idea Chibi-chan, I’ve missed training my little Kouhai’s so much!” He adds a fake, exaggerated sigh, just for the effect. “Especially mini-me who’s trying to ignore me over there!”

“I am not your mini anything.” Kei finally meets his eyes, his own golden ones are narrowed and mocking and god, Tetsuro’s got it bad. “Isn't it that you’re just not cool enough for the college crowd, Kuroo-san?”

And fuck, he did miss this. “Nope Tsukki, I’m already way high in campus hierarchy. And very busy if I might add.” He takes a step towards the man, craning his neck and getting all up in Tsukki’s face. “But Chibi-chan reached out to me and I just couldn’t leave you guys hanging.” He smirks, relishing on the pinched expression that takes over the other’s features. “’ Cause I'm that good.”

Tsukishima sputters, then rolls his eyes. “Sure you are. Don’t you have a paper to write?” That last part is punctuated with a smirk.

God. It’s so rare to find someone he can have a go at who doesn’t back off. “Lots of them. But what’s Sunday for, eh?” He leans in, just a bit closer, by now he has to look up to meet Tsukki’s eyes, did the little bastard grow again? “Besides I wasn’t gonna be studying today or tomorrow night. That’s not what Fridays exist for.”

One of those perfect golden eyebrows rises.“So you’re coming in to train alone tomorrow. Kuroo-san? So much for Mr Popular!” Tsukki says, snickering like the overgrown gremlin that he is.

A hot gremlin, but still.

There’s a tugging on his sleeve, and there’s Hinata again, looking sheepish. “Oh, Kuroo-san, I forgot to tell you, tomorrow is a free afternoon.” Tetsuro is inclined to be a bit offended, but then again he just forgot Hinata was even here, again.

It's all Tsukki’s fault.

He takes a hand to his chest in an over-dramatic gesture and gasps like some lady in a period piece. “And you're not gonna train? Youngsters these days- Back in my day-“

“We know, back in Edo, when there wasn’t electricity and people died before they turned forty.” Tsukishima cuts him off, smirk still on his face.

He can't even be mad. “Ahh come on Tsukki, at least let me finish.” Tetsuro whines.

“Like we haven’t heard that one.” The man drawls, and Tetsuro is mesmerized by the way Tsukki’s lips curl around the words.

Tetsuro meets the eye-roll with one just as potent, and then, if only to piss Tsukki off, turns to address Hinata. “No, but seriously, what do you mean you’re not training tomorrow? I’m skipping a party!”

“Uh well, us Karasuno are going to Trampoland!” Hinata all but punctuates it with a jump, grin taking over half his face. “Y’know? The place that’s all trampolines.”

“Isn’t that a little unsafe? And fun?” Tetsuro looks at Tsukishima’s expression change to sour as the place is mentioned, he brings a hand to rest at Tsukki’s shoulder. “How did you rope this one into it?”

“They didn’t” The blond drawls. Shoulder tense under Tetsuro’s hand. “I value my physical integrity, so I will be spending the afternoon at the NSM with Akaashi.”

“Ohhh for the sea fossils?” If anything, Tetsuro’s smirk widens, that’s so like Tsukki. And with Akaashi? It seems like his pupil has been making some friends.

“Uh- yes.” The blond seems surprised. Psh, like Tetsuro wouldn’t know, he’s majoring in science, at least that’s what he knows so far, he hasn’t had to choose a particular branch yet.

Tetsuro snickers. “And you just called me uncool.”

Tsukki scoffs. “I’m not crashing some highschoolers' practice.”

“Hey-“ Just as Tetsuro is actually starting to take offense, Bokuto ambles up to them and swings an arm over Tsukishima’s shoulder.

“Now, now you guys.” The silver-haired man laughs. Apparently unbothered by the way Tsukishima twitches at his touch. “Tsukki, you want us here! Don’t play Tsundere! It's not cute" Hi pinches Tsukishima's cheek, and Tetsuro ban tell the blonde is this close to snapping at Bokuto. "And Kuroo, my man, we’re going to that party.

”It’s not a bad idea, but…“Aww I wanted to spend more time with my Kouhais.”

Bokuto laughs, again, and it’s booming and infectious and Tetsuro remembers he missed him too. “No, I mean all of us!” He says, gesturing in a wide arch at everyone, a large, mischievous grin on his face. “It’s going to be amazing.”

The idea is good. No, scratch that, it’s bad, they’re taking them to a college party that’s not going to be tame by any means. “Bo, they’re babies!” And they are, even if Tsukki and Akaashi are way too mature for their age, the other two worry him even more.

“C’mon, we’ll take care of them Bro.” Bokuto insists. “Tsukki and Akaashi are like twice the adults we are. Unless you’re too chicken?”

“Well that’s true but…” There’s no denying that part of him wants to spend time with Tsukki that’s not all volleyball, but still.  “Ugh Bo! Why do you have to play the chicken card?!”

“But nothing!! It’s decided.” Bokuto hollers.

Tsukishima, who has drifted as far away from Bokuto’s body as the arm around his shoulder allows, snorts. “Aren’t you supposed to, you know, ask us?

“This is a school trip for them, Bokuto-san” Akaashi, who has been quiet all the way up until now interjects. Steady blue eyes glued to Bokuto’s face.

“Bah, you’re a third-year Akaashi, don't be a party pooper.” Bokuto says, chuckling, and then turns towards Hinata and Lev. “What about you guys? Are you in?”

Well, that’s a reaction that is easy to predict, Tetsuro isn’t surprised when the question is answered with a simultaneous “Of course Bokuto-san!” from Hinata and a “Hell yes!” from Lev.

Turning to Tsukishima Bokuto wiggles his eyebrows. Leaning his head close enough to the blond’s that he can probably feel Bokuto’s breath on his face. “See, Tsukishima, you’re outvoted.”

“You’re all crazy.” He rolls his eyes and carefully extricates himself from Bokuto’s grip. “Thankfully I can just not go.”

It looks like Tsukki’s just abut to stomp off, and he does get about a half step in before a soft voice stops him. “Tsukishima” Akaashi, in a surprising turn of events, is looking at Tsukki with these wide eyes, and instead of looking away Tsukki meets his stare. “I promise we’ll be back by eleven. And you’re all heading back on Saturday morning anyway.”

Something happens then, Tetsuro knows, some silent exchange between Akaashi’s almost pleading blue eyes and Tsukki’s earnest golden ones, a second later Tsukki sighs. “Uh-“ He looks up at Bokuto “Fine, happy?” and then looks at Akaashi again. “But we’re coming back early.”

To which Akaashi just nods.

Huh, weird.

“Very”  Bokuto, who has seemingly not gathered anything from the exchange just swings an arm over Akaashi’s shoulders. “You’re the best Akaashi!” And Bokuto doesn’t turn to look, he clearly doesn’t see Akaashi's blush or the way his eyes trail down the silver-haired man's face like a caress. “Now who’s ready for some practice?”

Tetsuro can’t help but feel a bit bad for Akaashi, neither he nor Bokuto can seem to get it out. And at least Bokuto dates, Akaashi’s spending his best high-school years pining for an idiot when, with his looks, he could probably have just about anyone in a ten-mile radius.

“C’mon guys let’s play three on three. “ Tetsuro smirks. “I pick Tsukki”

The aforementioned man just groans, and slides over to stand behind Tetsuro.

“Fiine” Bokuto hollers, already dragging a ball cart towards them. “I pick Akaashi”

“I pick Lev.” He counters.

No one objects, so they start. Tetsuro plays setter where it count’s because Tsukki’s spiking form is just… too unreal to miss. And when Their bodies bump against each other while blocking he feels sparks ignite on his skin.

He’s fucked, isn’t he?

Three on three is followed by spikes, followed by serves, followed by some strange, exhausting time trial that only Lev, Bokuto, and Hinata keep up for long.

Tetsuro finds himself stretched out on the stands with Akaashi and Tsukki sitting close beside him, watching incredulously as the ball becomes a blur between one side of the court and the other. They finally tire out at about eleven.

Lev and Hinata all but drape themselves on the bench. “Has this been happening all week?” He asks Akaashi.

“Yes, it’s actually worse with the first years here.” The other man says. Watching while Lev and Hinata drag themselves to the showers. “They can probably get back on their own today. Tsukishima and I usually stay behind to clean up.”

“Oh, haven’t you two gotten cozy?” Tetsuro says, feeling a little jealousy tug at his chest. “You never helped clean up last year Tsukki!”

A couple of meters away, already retrieving a Volleyball from the higher part of the stands, Tsukishima rolls his eyes. “You never asked.” He says and bends back over, Tetsuro’s eyes can’t help but follow.

“Say what, because we’re such good sempais, Bo and I are going to finish cleaning up.” Tetsuro figures that he better butter them up. This party idea is sounding better and it wouldn’t do if they bolted. “You both just go get some sleep.”

“We don’t’ mind staying, Kuroo-san” Akaashi says. “Won’t the trains stop running?”

“Nah, we came in my car.” Tetsuro says proudly, his graduation present still fills him with pride, even two months after he actually got it. “Now, go on, I don’t want you both falling asleep at the party tomorrow.”

Tsukki’s only answer is a snort, but he must be more tired than he looks because he chucks the volleyball he’s holding into the cart and skips down the stands, long legs making a show of themselves. Then he shoots Akaashi a look, that look again, and the setter immediately tuns to Tetsuro and smiles prettily at him. “Thank you Kuroo-san.” And he’s promptly gone.

Those two weren’t always this close, Tetsuro this whole thing must have happened pretty recently, last year at nationals they barely said a word to each other.

There isn’t much to pick up, so he and Bokuto are done soon. They exit the storage room laughing, one of Bokuto’s hands on Tetsuro’s shoulder. “- and Akaashi backed me up! How neat is that!”

“A surprise Bo, really.” He says, sarcasm dripping from his voice. “anyone would think he liked you from that.”

“Nah, I wish! That's just how amazing he is.” Sometimes Tetsuro wonders if Bokuto plays the dense card a bit harder than he needs to to get out of talking about things he doesn’t want to. “And Tsukki is coming! Aren’t you excited?”

“I’m scared” Whatever else, Bokuto is not that bad at keeping secrets, officially only he and Kenma know of Tetsuro's rather ill-advised crush. “I might fuck up, he’s prickly as it is and clearly doesn't want anything to do with me."

Bokuto snorts, squeezing Tetsuro's shoulder reassuringly. “He just spent like four hours eating you up with his eyes. Glasses is just aggravated by the sexy.”

“Well, bro, when you look like me…” Tetsuro is about to make a quip, but then voices reach them from the locker room door. “Shh, they might hear us.” He whispers, and strides ahead.

It turns out it’s just Lev and Hinata leaving, fresh and pink-cheeked from their showers. “Those two are still going to be a while.” Hinata says as they pass by. “They take super long showers. Bye Bokuto-san, Kuroo-san. Thanks for coming to practice with us!”

They what now?

Tsukishima and Akaashi are indeed still in the showers when he and Bokuto enter the locker room. Both quickly shed their clothes and head in as well.

From behind, it's even more obvious that Bokuto’s back has gotten like twice as wide since he started with the team. Tetsuro is slightly envious. “Bro, you look like a brick house.”

“With our training, I better.” Bokuto laugh. “I bet I could bench you now Bro.”

Tetsuro cackles “Bah, you’re all talk”

“I bet you” Bokuto hollers, rolling his shoulders, and then winces. “But tomorrow."

Tetsuro laughs, and steps into a nearby shower “Whatever you say.”

Outside of the stall, Bokuto grumbles, and another peal of laughter escapes Tetsuro, fuck did he miss these people.

The warm water is heaven on his skin, Tetsuro takes all the advantage of it that he can, here he doesn’t have to worry about it running out like at the dorm, so nice.

He also tries to think as little as possible of the fact that Tsukki is in his immediate vicinity, all wet and very naked. Those thoughts do him no good when he knows he doesn’t have much of a chance.

For now.

He hears the showers shut off, until only one other sound is discernible from his own, having had enough, Tetsuro shuts off his own and makes his way back toward the locker room, where right before he enters, hushed voices catch his attention.

“-you sure you want to do this?” It’s Tsukishima, voice low and rushed. Tetsuro peeks through the gap between the door at the wall, only the back of Tsukki’s head and his bare back are visible.

“I haven’t seen him in three months. I guess I got carried away.” Akaashi’s voice breaks the silence now. “You don’t have to come.”

“Do you want me to? It might be better to have someone sane to latch on to.” Tetsuro can almost hear the smirk on Tsukki’s voice… the little shit.

“I can’t ask that of you.” Akaashi says, very formally. “But yes.”

“As long as we don’t stay out too late.” Tsukki says. "Takeda will have our heads if we're not here when he wakes up."

“Thank y-“ the footsteps startle both them and Tetsuro, who only manages to see Kei jump back before he himself turns to look at Bokuto, whose distinctive footsteps just scared the life out of them all.

“Ahh, I’m so tired! My shoulder’s sore!”

“Careful that.” Tetsuro says absently, running through the conversation he just witnessed in his head. "You should put some ice on it."

He pulls at the door to see Tsukishima crouched by his bag and Akaashi rummaging through his locker, no evidence that they were just all but holding hands.

“So, where are we meeting up tomorrow?” Bokuto says.

Tetsuro follows up “I can pick you two nerds, up here or at the museum.”

Still bent over his bag, and now thankfully wearing a shirt, Kei just shrugs.

Akaashi, however turns around to meet Tetsuro’s eyes. “You’d still be picking up Hinata and Lev here though. I think it’s better we all just meet at this same point.”

“True, they might get lost-“

Tetsuro doesn't even manage to finish his sentence, Bokuto’s yell interrupts him. “AKAASHI ARE THOSE-“ The man blurts out beside him, eyes like saucers and then he chokes on the last world

Tetsuro wouldn’t have finished the sentence anyways. Because he sees the same as Bokuto surely has. There, making a stark contrast with Akaashi’s smooth skin stand two purple-blue hickeys, clearly no more than a couple days old. One is on the side of the setters neck and the other on the opposite side, right over his ribs.

“Akaashi-“ Bokuto seems to have been rendered speechless, so Tetsuro, astonished as he is, picks up the ball. “Are those hickeys?”

Akaashi blanches, hands coming up to cover the marks, very aware of them all of a sudden. As if on reflex, his eyes seek out the one other person in the room.

Tetsuro follows the gaze, incredulous, towards Tsukishima who also looks like he’s just been hit over the head with a hammer.

No way.

Chapter Text

Koutarou is… not mad, not at all.

It’s something else, jealousy? Maybe that’s it. It rings closer to whatever this hole in his chest feels like.

He’s sitting on the passenger seat of Kuroo’s car, in the parking lot of a McDonald's while Kuroo gets them both a large helping of something greasy that Koutarou really shouldn’t be eating according to the team’s dietitian.

All he knows is that this feeling sucks, majorly.

After a few minutes Kuroo slips into the car, eyes downcast and arms laden with food. “Hey Bo.” Koutarou hugs his knees a bit tighter. “I got us a lot of sauces.” He buries his face between his knees. “And cheese to dip the fries into.”

Really, he must’ve done something right in another life to have a friend like Kuroo. Koutarou takes a deep breath and uncurls his body. “Thanks Kuroo.” He says, reaching out for the food.

Silence stretches between them as the two men reach into their paper bags. “You wanna talk about it?”

About Akaashi's dating someone, he means, no Koutarou doesn't want to talk about it.

“What’s there to talk about?” Koutarou says around a mouthful of fries, avoiding Kuroo's gaze with an amount of determination that he usually reserves for the court. “I’m totally happy for Akaashi.”

Kuroo sighs,  and for once the sound irritates Koutarou. “Bo, you’re burying yourself in grease.”

“So are you.” Hell, Kuroo is probably going through his fries twice as fast as Koutarou is, something's bothering him too, but Koutarou can't stop to think about it right now. The Akaashi thing is too acute, like a fish bone stuck in his throat. “I'm a growing boy, I’m hungry.” Koutarou grumbles, eyes fixated on the McDonald's sign way above them. “We should've gotten McFlurries too.”

"Bo, if you grow anymore soon you aren't going to fit in the car... it’s fine to be upset, you know?” Something brushes Koutarou's chin, and he finds it’s Kuroo’s hand, sticking a napkin to his face so he doesn’t drip sauce on his shirt.

“I’m not upset.” Koutarou sighs, if he knows his friend – and he does know this one, dammit- Kuroo is not letting this thing go.  “I’m not even surprised, Akaashi’s hot, and smart, and amazing and I’m sure he's dated people before, I can't be upset about this.” He tries to keep his tone at least a little cheerful, almost does too, but it’s useless because his mouth is a little traitor and it won’t even manage a small smile.

“Bo-“

“It’s not like I’ve missed him like hell these three months.” Koutarou interrupts. “And he wouldn’t date someone so different from him, y’know, like me? So it’s fine Bro, it’s fine.”

And it really is, or it should be. There is a little, traitorous part of Koutarou that’s always whispering he’s not good enough for the things he wants, too loud, too different. Over time he has learned to tell the voice to fuck off, Koutarou is good enough.

But not for Akaashi.

Cool, beautiful, smart Akaashi who has already done so much for him.

Koutarou can’t ask for more, and he doesn’t want the setter's pity either.

“Bo, it’s only the two of us here.” Kuroo continues, as if he has not heard. “It’s fine to feel frustrated when you find out about something like that.” At some point the man's arm has ended up around Koutarou's shoulders, and he pulls him in to lean on him, shoulder to shoulder.

Frustration, yeah, that's more like it.

Koutarou looks up at his friend, wondering when his eyes got so moist.  “I always knew I didn’t have a chance.”

.

.

Tetsuro sighs.

For a second he wanted to tell Bokuto about his suspicions.

But his friend definitely does not need that right now. And for all he knows, he could still totally be misreading the situation.

It’s not like Tsukishima was the first to snap at them and say the hickeys were absolutely none of their business and to please get out of Akaashi’s.

It's also not like Akaashi just sagged in relief at those words, like he trusts Tsukishima, like he's glad to have him on his side.

“No, no, Bo, listen to me.” It’s easier to concentrate on Bokuto for now, he'll deal with his own feelings later, if he has to.  “You’re a hell of a catch ok? Even for a guy like Akaashi."

Nose deep in his burger, Bokuto snorts. "Aww Bro, I didn't know you felt that way about me."

"Oh shut up, you know you're hot." And if Bokuto thinks that's going to derail the conversation, he's wrong as hell, if Tetsuro is anything its confident enough in their friendship and the fact that he can just say that.  "Look, for all you know he's just like, hooking up with someone. The same way you hooked up with that Teruwaka guy last month.”

Bokuto’s chuckle is watery at best. “Terushima”

“Whatever, the annoying one with the bleached hair.” Bokuto hasn’t been the best with hookups since he joined the team, ad since he wouldn’t tarnish his kouhai’s opinion of him like that, it’s Tetsuro that gets to hear all about it. “Akaashi is always looking at you like a girl in a K-drama, even today. You should find out more before you let it get to you.”

And that much is true, hell, maybe Tetsuro misinterpreted the scene earlier, but this is something everyone has seen. Akaashi stuck with Bokuto through everything in high school, even the bad, uninspiring, frustrating things, and he did it unconditionally, if with a bit of fond annoyance.

It was obvious, everyone knew.

Of course, if Tetsuro is right about Tsukki and Akaashi that kind of throws things for a loop. But who’s to say it isn’t a hookup? Who’s to say Akaashi can’t love two people? That’s a thing, Tetsuro has heard about it.

“I’ve known him for two years, and he never dated anyone Kuroo, Akaashi isn't like that, it’s serious.” And Bokuto says it with such conviction, Tetsuro doesn't know Akaashi as well as he does Bokuto, son he almost has to believe him.

Only his heart might break if he does.

“C’mon Bo, just... ask it doesn’t even have to be direct, you just apologize for making him uncomfortable and say you support his relationship. He’ll probably say it if it’s not something serious.” Tetsuro says, busying himself with his burger, feeling dampness seep into the shoulder of his -shirt. “And if it is, we-you can move on. And next break we get we’ll go on a crazy trip and you can meet some really cute guy or girl and just-”

Tetsuro needs that trip now, being a responsible person sucks.

“But I want Akaashi. I’ve always-“ Bokuto sniffles, and whatever else he was going to say disappears into the sleeve of his jumper.

“Well you still might get to be with him y’know? Have some faith.” Tetsuro bites his tongue, he hopes this is not false hope that he’s doling out to his very vulnerable best friend -and to himself-. “they're coming to the party tomorrow; you have a chance. And if you don’t want to see him, we can just say it's canceled.”

“Nah, I don’t want him to think I’m mad, or bitter, or whatever… apologizing is a good idea, though.”

Tetsuro wonders if that is not already the case though. The betrayed, desperate look that Akaashi shot back at them as he and Tsukishima awkwardly exited the locker room was enough to make even him, envious as he is, feel terribly sorry for the man.

Still, dwelling on that is no good. “Now that’s the spirit Bo.”

 

.

.

Kei is pretty sure that Akaashi’s gong to twist one of his fingers off.

Really, he is.

They have been on the train for about ten minutes, and all Akaashi keeps staring off into space and wringing at his hands like he has no feeling in them.

Not that Kei blames him.

All morning, the other man seemed alright, normal even -even if Kei could tell that there wasn't only make up over the bruise on his neck, but also under his eyes-.

Since they got on the train, however, the older man seems to be getting more and more anxious. He wrings his fingers, picks at the loose sleeves of the beige sweater that he changed into after practice, and won’t meet Kei’s eyes for a second.

Finally, in the second to last station before theirs, Kei hears him take a deep breath. “Do you… think it’s a bad idea to go tonight?” He says, eyes on the floor, fingers bunched up in the thick wool of his sleeves.

Kei doesn’t really have an answer, after all, though the scene last night was just… mortifying at best, and a complete mess at worst, it isn’t him that got badgered and embarrassed in front of his crush of all high school. “Not quite?” He says, voice even. “I mean, it’s not that big of a deal, we all just overreacted.”

That much is true, the idiots made such a racket that Akaashi got mortified and froze and some sort of protective streak drove Kei to tell their sempai’s off -which he hadn't done in a while, gods,-and then get the third year out of there like the room was on fire.

Maybe if someone -and, given the circumstances, it should’ve been Kei… or Kuroo- had stayed calm, the night would have ended in a less awkward note.

“I think you’re right,” Akaashi’s hands come up, and he stretches like a cat, the soft looking sweater riding up, making a show of the contrast between the wide garment and Akaashi’s shapely waist. “It might be worse to not go. It’s not like he’s mad, right?”

“Not mad, I don’t think so.” Kei pauses, thinking back on Bokuto’s desolate expression from last night. “You know them, they were exaggerating.”

Well Bokuto was, at least, he flailed and pushed and got all up in Akaashi’s face, Kuroo was uncharacteristically quiet after he first pointed out the hickeys -never mind that he’s usually a notch less extra than Bokuto, this was something else- his eyes darting between Kei and Akaashi with an incredulous look.

A few seconds pass before Akaashi’s voice snaps Kei from his thoughts. “And you still want to come?”

“If you’re coming,” Kei drawls, for what it's worth, he appreciates Akaashi, and it'd be pretty shitty of him to abandon him now. “I need someone to hide from Hinata with.”

The rest of the train ride passes in silence, Kei thinks back to Kuroo and his quick, sly eyes. That and the look from last night in them, the one that makes him both want to run in the opposite direction or drag himself closer.

In his pocket, his phone beeps. Kei pulls it out for a cursory glance at the message -not answering his mom right now isn’t the best idea-.

Something curious and daring inside of him snaps.

.

.

The museum’s new exhibition is good.

Better than good actually, Keiji manages to relax and enjoy it about halfway through, and realizes that it’s exactly what he needed to put things in perspective.

Tsukishima was right, everyone overreacted, especially Keiji himself.

They are almost back where they started by now, it turns out that the fossils were last, and Tsukishima is looking quite enchanted with them. He looks a bit softer like this, with the glow of the lights that illuminate the pieces cast over his delicate features.

It startles Keiji a bit, not how attracted he is to the other man, but the feeling of fondness that he hasn’t felt before for anyone other than Bokuto.

Of course he’s still attracted to him, he muses eyes sliding up the man's form. Tsukishima is wearing these slim fit, dark brown, pants and an off-white, slightly loose button-up. He has no right to look like this when he’s a whole year younger than Keiji.

He looks down at his own body, maybe he should’ve worn something other than this loose sweater and nondescript jeans, he probably looks out of place.

Keiji entertains these thoughts as they reach the end of the exhibition, though he tries to pay as much attention as possible to some of Tsukishima’s commentary on the fossils, it mostly turns to him admiring Kei’s neck or his mouth. Considering last night, he probably shouldn’t but he finds himself longing for a bit of affection form the blond.

“-Akaashi?”

“Uh? Sorry, I was distracted.” He says, looking up at Tsukishima, whose eyes are stuck on something behind Keiji’s.

“Never mind.” His voice is a bit colder and more stilted than how Keiji has gotten accustomed to hearing it. He cranes his head to the side, hoping to spot whatever it is that’s grabbing Tsukishima’s attention.

 And he does.

There, leaning against a column right outside the museum doors are Kuroo and Bokuto, bathed in the light of twilight, looking like something out of a professional photo shoot. The two notice Keiji and Tsukishima at about the same time and begin approaching with long, fast strides.

As they come closer, Keiji can make out more details, Kuroo is wearing dark wash skinny jeans, lace-up boots, and a tight dark red t-shirt.

And Bokuto… he’s wearing black cargoes and something that Keiji refuses to consider any sort of top. It’s basically a pillowcase with a hole for his head and sides that are open like halfway down its length, showing off Bokuto’s arms and shoulders and -Keiji guesses, and hopes he's wrong- a fair bit of his ribs when he lifts his arms.

Oh he’s fucked.

At least he is not alone, beside him, Tsukishima is standing ramrod straight, a bright streak of pink across his face, looking like he would like to melt into the ground.

The two men come to a stop in front of them, Kuroo smirking, with eyes that subtly drift over to Tsukishima.

Bokuto, however looks bashful, he’s not even smiling and his eyes only come up to meet Keiji’s after they have run over everything else in the hall.

“So, uh.” Kuroo begins, side-eyeing Bokuto as if expecting him to say something. “Hey guys, I know we said to meet a school but…”

Tsukishima's eyebrows rise. “Yes?” His tone is impatient, almost sharp.

Kuroo looks around them, it's late afternoon on a Friday and the place is starting to fill up. “Maybe we can talk about it outside.”

“Ok.” Keiji rushes to say, the amount of people is starting to become stressful.

They walk outside, and into the parking lot, Kuroo on the lead, closely followed by Bokuto, Tsukishima, and Keiji keep in step with each other a couple of meters behind.

Finally, Kuroo leans against the front of a car, the one that Keiji assumes is his, it's an older model, but it looks well cared for. Its shiny black paint doesn't have a speck of dust or scratch.

This time it is Bokuto that starts speaking. “Umm, Kuroo and I wanted to apologize-“

“To both of you-” The dark-haired man cuts in, eyes fixed on Tsukishima.

“But mostly to you.” The silver-haired man pins Keiji with his look, those clear bronze eyes wide and regretful. “I’m sorry I- we made you uncomfortable. Akaashi.” the man says, gaze dropping to the floor. “You know I get excited.”

Seeing Bokuto like this hurts, it makes Keiji want to wrap him up in his arms and stroke his hair. Fills him with this indescribable emotion. If this were another world, another reality where he actually was allowed to do that,  he'd love to take the chance. “It’s nothing Bokuto-san, I'm used to that, so I overreacted too, actually I-“ He's sorry too, if only for not just brushing it off last night.

But Bokuto cuts him off and continues, voice hollow and seemingly filled with longing. “And I’m really glad that you found a nice girl Akaashi, please introduce us sometime.”

Keiji isn’t sure if he should laugh because Bokuto has seemingly spun a whole other reality in his head or just run to him and hug him. He settles for laying a hand on the man’s hunched shoulder, the way Bokuto is looking at him right ow is something he has to mull over in peace. “It’s not like that, Bokuto-san.” Because it isn’t, whatever else, he and Tsukishima did agree this wouldn’t be anything serious, and even if things have gone a bit further than Keiji initially planned it’s barely been like four days since it started. Not to mention the fact that Tsukishima lives in another prefecture. Still, he does owe the world a little bit of honesty. “And it wasn’t a girl.”

Bokuto looks up at him, surprise in his wide eyes, and then hunches over again. “Wha- Oh Akaashi how did I not know!! I'm such a bad Sempai!” But Keiji knows that the worst has passed, this is just Bokuto being himself.

Behind him, he hears someone clear their throat. Tsukishima is standing about three feet away, his back ramrod straight and his face pinched. His eyes drift between Bokuto’s hunched form and Kuroo, who is leaning against the car, face schooled into a perfect mask of indifference. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I yelled at you two too.” His tone is dry, but the flush in his cheeks isn’t completely gone.

It’s a bit uncalled for, but Keiji spots a small smile on the corner of Bokuto's mouth.

Before he pounces, that is. “Tsukkii! Don’t worry, I know you were just being a good friend!” Bokuto all but wails while his arms squeeze Tsukishima. The latter alternates between looking completely aggravated and like he fears for his life, his hands come up to pat Bokuto’s back.

“Ok Bokuto-san, Ok” Tsukishima struggles, or tries to, the chance he’s escaping Bokuto’s arms is slim. “Please let go.”

“Bro, that’s enough.” Kuroo, who has stepped in closer at some point, says. "But thank you Tsukki, I’m touched.” with this, he extricates Bokuto's form by pulling him by the neck of his top.

Tsukishima's mildly grateful expression turns into a frown as soon as Bokuto is safely away. “Oh shut up.”

Kuroo just rolls his eyes. “Well, if we’re all good, Lev and Shrimpy are waiting for us and I don’t want to leave those two alone for too long so…” he gestures to the car.

“Shotgun!” Bokuto cries, and rushes towards the passenger side.

“Literally no one else was asking Bokuto-san.” Tsukishima deadpans, but Kuroo's laugh drowns him out.

“Well joke’s on you Tsukki, shotgun controls the music.” the man grins, and Keiji feels like Tsukishima is going to explode a little bit. "That's the rule."

Tsukishima's frown deepens. “We’re switching once we get the idiots.”

And for a second, Keiji feels like it is all going to be fine.

.

.

So Kei is riding shotgun in Kuroo Tetsuro’s car.

Yes, this is happening.

They didn’t let him switch seats when they picked up Hinata and Lev, -something about Bokuto’s back taking up less space than Kei’s or whatever- but he managed to bribe Bokuto with ice cream at the drive thru McDonald's they visited after.

All for the best, at the pace they were going he was about two seconds away from hurling Hinata out of the window.

Kuroo is bopping his head to the music Kei chose. “You have good taste, Tsukki. A bit punk, but still good.”

Although anything is probably better than the slew of K-pop that Bokuto subjected them to -Kei has nothing against it, it’s just a bit too much-. “At least someone here appreciates it.” Kei says glancing at the backseat where Akaashi, Bokuto, Hinata, and Lev are stuffed.

“Hey! It’s not my fault I don’t like your emo stuff, Tsukishima” Hinata, who is sitting on Bokuto’s knees, says.

Kei glances at the rear view mirror and has to restrain a peal of laughter at Akaashi’s expression every time he has to turn and look at that -Kei doesn’t blame him, honestly-. “Of course you don’t. You have no taste.” He scoffs.

“Hey, are we there yet?” Lev whines.

Beside Kei, Kuroo chuckles, the sound deep and throaty -and Kei’s insides are not in a knot because of it, dammit-. “Almost, we're leaving the car at my dorm and walking from there.”

“Aw we’re walking?” The pout in Hinata’s voice can almost be heard, Kei fights the urge to smirk.

Kuroo snorts. “Hey, Bo and I are going to drink, and since none of you have a license I’d rather just leave the car where it’s safe.”

There’s a moment of silence while Kuroo takes a turn and promptly parks near one large building. “We’re here.” The older man promptly slips out of the car. Kei disconnects his phone from the aux cord and follows him. Outside it’s chilly, Kei finds -to his delight, or dismay, or something- that Kuroo has slipped into a leather jacket.

Because of course he has.

Another check for Tsukishima Kei's walking wet dream list, why don't you?

Bokuto is still wearing that ridiculous tank top thing that really shouldn’t be legal – isn’t he cold?-.

For a moment, Kei wonders if he’s lucky or unlucky that he's had his gay awakening in the precise stage of his life and situation wherein he’s surrounded by a bunch of extremely attractive men.

At some point, Akaashi has come up behind him. “Actually going over there and licking him would be a bit less obvious.” It’s all said in this soft tone, if Kei didn’t know this man as he does, he’d surely have missed the hint of playfulness.

But he's not the kind to back down, turning insides and all. Kei rolls his eyes and vaguely gestures to where Bokuto’s giving Hinata a piggyback ride. “Maybe take your own advice? I’m pretty sure with the way Bokuto’s dressed you're going to walk into a pole at some point.”

Akaashi sighs, but there’s a smile stretching across his face. “That top-thing should be illegal.” He says, eyes appraising Bokuto, then he looks down. “Maybe I’m a bit under-dressed.”

Kei turns an incredulous look on him. The sweater Akaashi’s wearing is an oversized cream thing that almost falls off his shoulders and the almost tight jeans compliment his pretty legs nicely. “To the museum?” If anything it’s Kei that’s looking like a librarian, he doesn’t much care though. “ Besides, Hinata and Lev are wearing volleyball shorts.”

One of Akaashi’s perfect eyebrows goes up. “Did you expect any better from them?”

“No” Says Kei.

It’s easy, this whole thing with Akaashi. They’re friends, and they’re fine and ether will tell the other when they aren’t. No embarrassing conversations needed. Akaashi seems so much calmer since Bokuto apologized -and thankfully did not push about who was responsible for the hickey-, Kei is just glad about it.

Up ahead he hears Kuroo raise his voice. “So no one needs to use the toilet?”

He’s met by a chorus of No’s. Which only seems to widen the smirk on his face.

“Ok, so, let's go.”

.

.

 

Tsukki is looking at him.

Tsukki is staring at him.

If he is to believe what Akaashi said earlier -and why would he lie?- Then Tsukki is not attached to the setter, at least not in a romantic, established relationship way.

Tetsuro would be lying if he said hearing those words didn't make him feel a lot lighter.

He finishes lighting his cigarette. The cherry burning bright in the dark of the street, smoke rifting up in rivulets above him.

It’s already pretty late, or well, late enough that it won’t be totally lame to get to the party at this hour. Tetsuro wonders how much time he’ll get to spend with the blond, it’s not like he’s actually going to let them leave at eleven, but still, Tsukki really doesn’t seem like he’s going to want to stay longer.

He’s currently walking beside Tsukki, at the front of the group, with Lev and Hinata following further behind and Bokuto and Akaashi in the rear, he can hear bits and pieces of the conversation though, Bokuto really does have a loud outdoors voice.

It’s mostly about Fukurodani, the team and god knows what else, it seems his friend is back in high spirits and Tetsuro can’t help but feel happy for him.

Now if only one of them would just spit it out.

“Well that’s a stupid habit.” Tsukki’s voice is just the right amount of mocking. Sometime Tetsuro wonders if he has a kink of being talked down to. “Weren’t you supposed to be smart? Mr. Tokyo University.”

“It’s cold out here Tsukki!” Tetsuro knows it’s a stupid habit, that doesn’t mean he’s gonna take the bait. “Besides I only smoke when I go out.”

“Sure,” Tsukishima says, obviously not convinced. “Go out of the house, you mean?”

Now that isn’t true, and Tetsuro hasn’t even been smoking long enough for it to even be a little real, this is like the seventh cigarette he has ever smoked. “No. Go out to party! Have fun.” He says, gesturing around them with his arms and striking a pose. “I know it’s a foreign concept to you but…”

Tetsuro takes a drag off the cigarette, he can almost feel Tsukishima rolling his eyes. “I’m here, aren’t I? Genius.”

For most of his life Tetsuro has been very good at provoking reactions from people, a large part of that is knowing when to strike. Tsukishima is tougher than most, but he still has openings. “Because Akaashi somehow pried his way into your cold little heart, no doubt.” He says. “It warms my heart a little to see you both so close, after I introduced you too.”

He stares at Tsukishima’s face, waiting for a twitch, some giveaway, but the blond only frowns harder, his pretty nose scrunching up. “You did not introduce us. And I wasn’t going to leave him alone with you lot.”He drawls. “At least he has a sensible person here for when he wants to run.”

“Uh-huh” Tetsuro rolls his eyes, that’s an excuse that would’ve worked if Bokuto had not apologized, but here they are. “I can assure you that this can become the carnival of Rio and Akaashi’s not leaving until Bokuto does.” He gestures at their backs. “Look at them, half an hour in, and they’re attached at the hip.”

And for a second Tsukki does look, he glances back and his long, ivory neck strains to look, a hint of collarbone visible beneath the collar of the shirt.

Maybe what Tetsuro catches in his eyes is pride, maybe it’s longing, or jealousy, whatever it is, it’s intense and it lasts but for a second. Tsukishima clears his throat, and Tetsuro realizes he’s been caught staring. “You underestimate Akaashi, he’s rational”

“Whatever you say Tsukki.” It comes out weak, though. And Tetsuro has the choice, to back down or go on. The small spot inside of him that burns with a small ember of curiosity makes it easy. “I’d really love to know who he’s been hooking up with though. I mean it must be a hell of a guy.”

Hook, line, and sinker. Tsukishima stiffens and turns his head as far away from Tetsuro as his neck will allow.

“Or maybe Akaashi is just a normal person with urges.” He says, voice a bit raw but composed despite everything. “It’s not like Owl-head is going to get around to asking him out this century.”

“Well Akaashi is just as choked up.” Tetsuro mock sighs, and takes a drag of the cigarette, eyes fixed on what he can see of Tsukki’s face “Should we just lock them in a closet together?”

And then, all of a sudden, Tsukishima looks at the floor, eyes tired. “It’s none of our business Kuroo-san.”

“Isn’t it?” Tetsuro, says, smirking. “We’d mess up Akaashi’s fling, but if it really isn’t serious…”

“Well he said it wasn’t, didn’t he?” Tsukki snaps.

For all that he thought things made sense, this conversation is only leaving Tetsuro more confused. It’ seems things aren’t as clear cut as they initially seemed. “Oh ho ho, so you’ll help?”

Tsukishima fixes him with a glare that would wither most people. Luckily Tetsuro has practice.“Fat chance! I appreciate Akaashi enough not to meddle with his life.” That's so like Tsukki.

“Oh Tsukki, don’t be a stick in the mud. They want each other!” he exclaims, taking a last drag out of the dying cigarette and tossing it into a nearby trashcan.

Another snort. “I’m respectful, Kuroo-san, you should learn to be.” Tsukishima’s tone is dry, like he’s fed up with it all.

“You’re a stick in the mud, is what you are.”Tetsuro grins his brightest grin at the blond. “Just look at how you’re wearing that shirt.”

It’s dark and they're moving, but Tetsuro is ninety-nine percent sure that Tsukishima blushes. “What’s wrong with my shirt?” His hand comes up to clutch at said shirt in an offended gesture.

Tetsuro laughs, and hopes he isn’t pushing it too far. “You look like you’re going to church, here!” One of his hands grabs Tsukki’s closer shoulder, and the other makes quick work of the top two buttons of his shirt, exposing an expanse of creamy pale skin. “Ohh much better.”

Tsukishima glares at him, scandalized for a couple of seconds, but he doesn’t close the shirt back up. “Shut it.” Instead he rolls up his sleeves until his lean forearms are showing.

Tetsuro wonders if he’s paying for being a little shit or being rewarded. If Tsukki looked hot before, now, well...

And so in true Tetsuro fashion, he decides to push further. “Stick, stick, sticky, stick.” He says in a sing-song voice.

If he didn’t know better he’d think Tsukki was about to explode. “Oh stop, what do you want me to do, uh?” The blond says, annoyance coating his voice. Tetsuro just gestures at their backs, at the place where Bokuto and Akaashi are still looking at each other like they are the last human beings on earth. “What other thing do you want me to do?” The blond amends.

“Well Tsu-Oh! We’re here!” And they are, A bunch of narrow, English styled houses flank the street, the one in question has a bunch of garden gnomes arranged in its little fenced garden, the door is half open and Tetsuro can already hear the music playing.

“Really? Here?” Tsukishima’s sardonic tone is noted, Tetsuro can all but hear him calling the place a suburban nightmare.

A laugh escapes him, this is going to be great. “C’mon, let's go in.” He says, and dares to grab Tsukki’s wrist and pull him along -there is surprisingly little resistance from the blond-.

Tetsuro pushes the door open and finds the inside is another world.

There are already a fair amount of people there, and a good percentage seems very intoxicated already. Someone has brought a bunch of colorful lights over and a few people are dancing in different spots.

What really catches Tetsuro’s attention is a girl, on one of the tables, pulling something red out of a red cup that Tetsuro knows is filled with cherry vodka.

It’s cherry pie, or at least the college version of it.

He really tries not to say it, surely it’s a bad idea, but in the end the little hell-raiser in the back of Tetsuro’s head wins. “That,” he says, pointing at the girl. “I want you to do that.”

Tsukishima stares at him for a second, golden eyes narrowed. “Fuck you’re annoying.” And Tetsuro is so sure that he’s going to say no, but then… “Lead the way you Pain-in-the-ass Kuroo-san.”

There’s a predator smile on Tsukki’s face that Tetsuro just knows is mirrored in his own.

And so, he steps further inside, still holding Tsukishima’s wrist.

Chapter Text

This was a much better idea when Kei was not here staring at a bunch of party cups.

His opponent -some girl with purple hair who already looks like she’s about to keel over- stands across from Kei with a cocky smile on her face.

The five little cherries floating in liquor glitter like they are trying to mock him.

The one time that Kei lets his mouth get the better of him.

He spots the very reason for all of this nonsense draped oven an armchair. Kuroo’s mouth is stretched in a grin that makes Kei want to choke him -and other things, when he’s not as annoyed at he currently is- he’s taken off the leather jacket and the muscles of his arm look even more defined in the low, colorful lights.

The host -or at least the guy that Kuroo greeted at the door- stands in front of them, a devious smile on his face.  His eyes rise to Kei’s and the fucker has the nerve to wink at him. “Three… two… one… Go!”

The purple-haired girl dives for the cups – almost slams face-first into the table- and pulls out the first cherry by the stem. 

How the fuck did Kei end up in this situation? “Tsukishima!! What are you doing? we bet on you!!” Hinata crows from... somewhere, Kei has no time to look. His moment of hesitation has him behind already, and he'll be damned if he's going to lose at something this dumb.

He bends down, more off-balance than he thought he’d be with his hands behind his back. The first cherry is easy to retrieve, the cup is full so he just sucks it into his mouth.

And almost spits it back out.

Kei has never had anything alcoholic other than the occasional sip of wine.

This is so much worse, and Kuroo had the gall to say it was cherry flavored. Ugh.

He bites into the cherry if only to overpower the bitter taste of cheap vodka and moves on to the next and the next, careful to get the least possible amount of the vile liquid into his mouth every time. The last cup is only filled halfway, and it takes more tongue gymnastics than Kei cares to admit to even get the cherry stem between his lips.

He straightens, cherry still dangling from his mouth, and glares at the host to untie his hands. The man does, hands brushing his hips and lingering on Kei's forearm for too long. “Shot for the winner?” He says, handing the bond a small glass?” Winner? Kei looks over at the other table, his ‘opponent’ apparently knocked over her own cups, at some point.

Kei eyes the glass, unsure. “Uh, I-“

As the glass is being pushed towards him, and Kei debates just declining or like, running, a thick arm appears practically out of nowhere a pulls him towards the hallway, its owner.  “I’ll take that Take-san,” Kuroo says, Kei turns his head to take in the brilliant smile on his face -and the unusual smell of cigarette smoke and cologne that’s a lot nicer than Kei thought it would be- and instantly has to turn away for fear of blushing.

The other man purses his lips. “Oh? So he is with you Kuroo?”

“If that’s what you want to think, man.” The arm around Kei stiffens, and he can tell that Kuroo is giving this stranger the evil eye, even though he’s doing his damnedest to keep looking at the tacky velvet curtains. ”He’s my responsibility for the night.”

With a roll of his eyes, the man turns around. “Greedy.” He says as he walks away, further into the large living room.

Kei turns to look at Kuroo, shaking off his arm in the process, glare well in place this time. “Hey! What the hell?”

Kuroo’s eyebrows shoot up to his hairline and that damned smirk only grows wider. “Oh, you wanted the shot? Naughty Tsukki.” He drawls, making a motion as if trying to hand Kei the glass.

“No, you idiot! keep it.” Kei growls, his hand coming u to Kuroo’s shoulder and guiding the man into the hallway. “I meant what the hell was up with that!”

The former captain just looks at Kei, as if he’s about to explain something to a four-year-old, then he sighs and downs the contents of the glass in a single swallow.“Oh Takeshi? He asked me if we were… y’know?” he gestures awkwardly between them and when Kei’s scowl deepens he adds. “I said no!! But I guess he took it as a pass to hit on you or something.”

Kei can just feel the way the blush spreads outward from his cheeks, all the way up to his forehead and down to his chest. “And you came in to defend my honor?” he makes his tone as mocking as he can, staring pointedly at the tip of Kuroo’ ear. “I can take care of myself Kuroo.”

He expects more resistance from the older man, but all Kuroo does is pout, lower lip jutting out in a way that is most certainly distracting. “Fine, I was only trying to help.” He turns away, setting down the glass in a nearby cabinet, eyes scouring the room. “Want me to go tell him he can keep plying you with drinks all night?”

Obviously Kuroo knows which game he’s playing. “Fuck no, he’s handsy.” Kei snaps, and Kuroo’s eyes widen.

“That bastard…” Kuroo growls, shooting a look at the living room where the man just entered. “You’re ok?”

“Yeah, nothing really happened.” Kei fights down a smile. For all that Kuroo aggravates him sometimes, he then shows this side of him and where Kei spent the past hour fighting varying degrees of attraction towards the man, now an all too familiar feeling of fondness is rising in his stomach.  “Thanks.” He says, voice softer than he’d like. “For... getting him off my back I guess.”

A bright grin blooms in Kuroo’s face. “Aww Tsukki.” He says, and then the arm comes back around Kei’s shoulders. “C’mon, lets get you something you’re actually going to drink.”

Kei looks back into the living room, he can spot someone with short orange hair with a rather high chance of being Hinata, dancing on top of a table.

Well, so long as he is still here and conscious.

Kei looks around for Akaashi, but he can’t find the man. He’s surely with Bokuto though.

So he goes along with Kuroo.

.

.

Considering the current state of affairs, it is pretty ironic that the sole reason Tsukishima was supposed to come was to keep Keiji company in some dark corner where no one would harass them.

Well Keiji found his corner, at least, and the plush couch that he has managed to secure for himself and Bokuto is pretty comfortable.

If Bokuto would appear.

As soon as Tsukishima actually started fishing for the cherries, Bokuto waved at someone somewhere in the crowd, and then promptly disappeared, leaving Keiji stranded on the couch with two drinks.

Hopefully Tsukishima will notice him there, but since he just pulled Kuroo into the hallway that's not likely. 

Although really, if something comes out of that, he won't blame Tsukishima at all.

Keiji sighs and sips at his drink, it’s sweet, barely tastes like alcohol at all. Bokuto did say he’d have them put in more sugar so Keiji wouldn’t find it tasted bad.

The room has gotten a lot more crowded in the short time since they arrived. There are enough people in here that he can’t even really see the door that opens into the hallway where Tsukishima and Kuroo disappeared.

Not that he wants to go that way. Keiji may not have experience with these things, but he is not dense.

A man drops down in the vacant part of the couch. “Hey, got a drink for me, cutie?” He says, pointing at Bokuto’s drink.

Keiji figures it’s time he moved. Noticing that his original cup is pretty much empty, he gently sets it down to the ground. “Nope, both of these are mine.” He stands, a bit wobbly - from being in one position for too long, he tells himself- and as if to prove it to the other man he takes a sip of Bokuto’s.

It… doesn’t taste too bad.

On the other side of the room, Keiji spots a silver head, rising taller than other people’s. It must be Lev.

Well it’s not like he knows anyone else here. And so, Keiji dives into the crowd of strangers.

.

.

It hasn't been that long.

He thinks.

Koutarou was planning the evening, thinking of how much fun he was going to have with Akaashi, how he might even get to dance with him.

Until they crossed the threshold and his eyes instantly met Terushima's.

What are the fucking odds? I mean he did meet the man through Kuroo and he is at this party because of Kuroo, but still… Terushima doesn't even go to Kuroo's college -hell, as far as he knows the other's still a third year, his sister just lives in Tokyo, she's the one in actual college-.

Koutarou's glad that he's quick on his feet. He managed to set Akaashi somewhere comfy where he won’t be bothered and made him a drink so he didn’t have to get up, and Tsukki's wholly unexpected endeavor into party games gave him the distraction he needed to head off towards Terushima who was frantically waving at him from across the room.

Koutarou was a man on a mission, even if the mission ended up being a bust.

Terushima was there with someone already, but Koutarou ended up dragged all the way to the backyard and roped into a beer pong -which he won- contest before he could actually talk to the guy, and by the end of it, Terushima pulled him aside and asked Bokuto not to say anything about them having hooked up.

God, Akaashi must be hating him for leaving him stuck with two drinks and Kuroo and Tsukishima who must be making heart eyes -Or 'imma slam you against a a wall and bite you' eyes- to each other.

And he’s probably done with his drink too, Bokuto muses as he passes the kitchen. Maybe it’ll be good to bring him another, as an apology.

Akaashi never stays mad for too long.

Somehow, the amount of people in this place seems to have doubled in the short amount of time, that he was in the backyard, Koutarou has to push past quite a few of them to even get to the kitchen door. Inside, there’s surprisingly not as many people, a couple of girls waiting for something to cook in the microwave, and not so surprisingly Kuroo and Tsukishima.

“So moonshine, what do you want?” Kuroo is saying, hands on his hips, eyes stuck to Tsukishima’s face like it’s actually the moon. “Strawberry milkshake?” The man says smirking.

Tsukki’s sitting on the counter, long legs dangling lose to the ground, body leaning towards Kuroo. "I said I wasn't looking to get drunk, but I'm not a five year old either Kuroo." Koutarou smiles, they make such a pretty picture. Hopefully Kuroo will get his head out of his ass soon.

“Hey, guys!” He crows, Tsukishima stiffens and sides off the counter as soon as he spots Koutarou.

Aw, baby’s shy.

Kuroo, however, just smiles at him, a dazed, happy look on his face. “Bro! What are you doing here?”

“Yeah, where’s Akaashi?” Tsukishima adds, pretty golden eyes narrowed.

Koutarou freezes in his tracks. “What do you mean? He was with you guys!” Or at least he was supposed to be, once Tsukki finished fishing for cherries.

Tsukishima glares at him. “Umm no? He was with you?”

“We figured you two were together Bro” Kuroo says. “We didn’t see you after the cherry game.”

He tilts his head to the side, is he so drunk already? “But I left before the cherry game?” Tsukki’s glaring harder every second that passes so Koutarou directs his pleading gaze towards Kuroo. “Teru was here, I had to, uh, you know.”

“So you left him alone with Hinata and Lev?” Tsukishima snaps, voice indignant.

Koutarou looks away, guilt sweeping over him like a wave. “Uh, they were already… at some table playing a game.” It’s not like Akaashi would have wanted to stay there, it was supposed to involve dancing!

Kuroo frowns. “Bro, you left him alone!?” 

I thought you guys were coming back to hang with him!” Koutarou whines, it's not his fault they were too engrossed with each other to think of Akaashi. “I left him with my drink and all, I didn't mean to take so long. I just got dragged into beer pong and-”

“Well go find him!” Wow, Tsukishima looks mad. This is a level of murderous glare that Koutarou hasn’t seen before. “I’d text him but his phone died at the museum.”

“I wanted to get him a drink.” Koutarou says, looking down, he can still feel Tsukishima's glare though.

“Oh Bo” Kuroo groans, dragging the palm of his hand down his face. He eyes the booze shelf for a second and reaches out to grab a bottle and a cup. “Just, give him this, it's not strong and it has coffee, he likes it doesn’t he?” Kuroo says while scooping some ice and liquor into the cup.

Koutarou nods, he takes a deep breath and grabs the cup. “Thanks Bro!” He hollers, as he makes his way out of the room, heart set on the plush couch on the corner where he knows Akaashi is waiting for him.

.

.

“Shouldn’t we go too?” Tsukishima says, golden eyes lingering on the doorway that Bokuto just disappeared through. “Akaashi might be in trouble.”

Tetsuro shrugs, he doesn’t want to meddle with Bokuto and Akaashi, sometimes it’s better to let things sort themselves out, besides, after last night this feels like a chance. “Nah, Akaashi’s the most level headed one out of all of us.” He says, moving slightly to block Tsukki’s line of sight, appreciating the way the blond's neck stretches to keep looking at the door. “He’s probably sulking in a corner, I think Bo should deal with it.”

“Bokuto-san is the idiot that left him alone in the first place.” Tsukishima grumbles, face painted in a sour expression. 

“Hey, Tsukki! Don’t be so hard on him.” Bokuto has been his friend for a while, and though he isn’t going to go out there to defend his decision making progress, Tetsuro still takes offense to him being dismissed this way. “He’s nervous, and some guy he hooked up with last month showed up here.”

It takes a second still, for Tetsuro to realize that not only he did not mean to make that last remark, but also, that considering recent events, it's not something he should've said at all.

Obviously, that slip of tongue doesn’t calm Tsukishima at all, if anything he looks even madder, Hands curled into fists and eyes narrowed. “So he snuck off to see someone else.” He grits out and then sidesteps Tetsuro, eyes fixed on the door. “I’m going to go get Akaashi, it’s about to be eleven.”

Whipping around, he manages to grab on to Tsukishima’s wrist. “No. Hey! Tsukki, stop.” 

Tsukishima turns to look down at him, glaring hard at the place where the former captain's hand is clamped around his like a vice. “Why should I? Akaashi’s alone and probably getting harassed by some rando.” 

Trying to focus on the intricate pattern of the tiles on the wall and not on the man in front of him, lest he says something stupid, Tetsuro takes a deep breath, sometimes he forgets how stubborn Tsukishima can be. “No, he’s not, Akaashi can take care of himself.” He says, and then, because he can’t help it, he adds. “Man, if I didn’t know better I’d think you were jealous Tsukki.”

Tsukishima glares harder, but he sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and bites it. Tetsuro can’t help but appreciate the gesture, despite the situation they are in. “I’m not jealous, I’m being a decent friend. Now if you’ll let me go.”

“Oh, Tsukki. You are jealous” Tetsuro croons, tugging at the blond’s wrist until their faces are no more than a foot apart.

A pretty shade of pink crawls over Tsukishima’s cheeks, whether from the way Tetsuro is pulling him or because of the insinuation he’s making. “What the- I am not.” The blond exclaims, using Tetsuro’s brief moment of distraction to snatch his arm back.

He’s flustered, Tetsuro knows he has him. “Are too.” He bellows.

“Am not.” Tsukishima snaps, an exasperated lilt to his voice. His hands come up to rub his temples, Tetsuro feels a bit bad for riling him up so much. “Ugh, you’re giving me a headache.”

“But you are! And for no reason.” Because there shouldn’t be a reason, even if Tsukishima is the person that Akaashi has been seeing, if things are casual then there really shouldn’t be one. “Unless you have a reason?” he adds.

Tsukishima folds his arms over his chest and starts towards the door. “I’m not jealous, I’m concerned.” That way he grits his teeth is almost audible.

Maybe Tetsuro has gone too far? He reaches out and grabs the blond, by his shoulder this time, and turns him around -which is not easy, Tsukki may be slim but he’s also very tall. “Tsukiiii.” Tetsuro crows, trying to stun him with the best puppy eyes impression that he knows how to do. “Okay fine, just let me get you that drink, ok? we’ll call Bo in ten minutes, if he’s not with Akaashi we can go look for him.”

Tsukishima takes a deep breath, he stares at Tetsuro for a second, eyes hard and filled with something that Tetsuro can’t quite place, but he takes a step back slides up to sit on the counter. “I want the coffee thing.” He says, at last.

“The what?” Tetsuro says, confused for a second.

“The one you gave to Bokuto?” Tsukishima says, rolling his eyes and gesturing toward the wide-bottomed bottle. 

God, Tetsuro likes him when he’s demanding.

“Oh, the Kahlua?” Tetsuro asks, the blond shrugs. “Coming right up Tsukki, I’ll even put some milk into yours to make it a proper drink.”

A mock gagging sound escapes the blond. “Ugh, who makes drinks with milk?”

Tetsuro just rolls his eyes, sometimes he forgets that Tsukishima is three years younger than him and very much a homebody. “Look, it’s called a- I don’t remember what it’s called, but it’s a thing, Tsukki.” He rambles, and then grins at the man. “Trust your sempai, will you?”

The blond eyes him, gaze suspicious. “If it tastes gross you’re drinking it.”

Shrugging, Tetsuro pours the drink milk over the ice. “Sure Tsukki, but you’re going to love it.” Tetsuro hands him the cup with a flourish, it’s a shame there isn't a proper glass to serve it in. “Here’s your drink, fine gentleman.”

The blond chuckles, it’s short and clipped, but it’s there. Though the furrow on Tsukishima's brown remains in place. He sniffs at the drink, nose wrinkling cutely, and takes the smallest sip Tetsuro has ever seen anyone take. Then after a couple of seconds, he takes another. “It’s… not horrible.”

“I’ll take it if you don’t like it Tsukki.” Tetsuro says, reaching out as if to grab the glass. Tsukishima's free hand slaps his away, the gesture almost playful.

“No.” Tsukishima cuts in, taking another sip. "Hands off."

All Tetsuro can do is let out a peal of laughter that resonates on the tiled walls. Even when he’s being difficult Tsukishima manages to be quite endearing. He fixes himself a drink, just soda and some vodka, nothing fancy and silently leans on the counter, elbows sprouting goosebumps at the contact with the cold marble.

The blond is leaning back, relaxed, and quiet. Golden eyes staring ahead as if contemplating something.

He is lovely. 

Even caught up admiring the other as he is, Tetsuro can't help but wonder, does Akaashi see this side of Tsukki too? Is this the softer, more caring side that Tetsuro got a glimpse of last night at Fukurodani? 

He really would like to be able to let it go, really. But Tetsuro is real bad at that. He may be almost sure, but he needs to know. “Hey I-“

“What?” The other's face snaps to the side, his whole body jolts as if he spent more than just a couple of minutes pacing out.

And meeting those golden eyes with his own, Tetsuro chickens out, maybe this isn’t the way.“It’s nothing Tsukki.”

The blond frowns, torso leaning closer to Tetsuro’s, eyes inspecting his features. “No, spit it out, you look constipated.” There's a ghost of a smirk in the corner of his mouth. 

It's distracting

“No, it’s just-“ Tetsuro is pinned by that golden gaze, there’s nothing else he can say for himself. The words are out of his mouth before he can even think of saying them. It’s like mulling over this since yesterday has given him some ability to say it out loud without even meaning to. “Well, I-I couldn’t help but notice how you’re acting around Akaashi. I mean you can tell me if you’re jealous. I can keep a secret.”

Tsukishima’s features tun stony in a second, he straightens up, making the distance between him and Tetsuro as wide as it can be without Tsukki getting off the counter. “Didn’t I just answer you? Akaashi’s just my friend.” He sounds exasperated, too much for it to be believable. “Why the hell would I be jealous?” 

Tetsuro takes a deep breath, he could backtrack, try and play it off as a joke, but neither of them would believe it. So this is it. “Because you’re the one he has been hooking up with?”

Tsukishima goes pale, then red as a fire hydrant. He has a horrible look in his eyes that spells out betrayal that Tetsuro can’t stand. “I- he told-“ he stammers.

Fuck, Tetsuro fucked up. “No, no no no Tsukki, there hasn’t been any time he could’ve-.”But Tsukishima is no longer listening, the damage is done. The blond chugs down what’s left of his drink in one gulp and slides off the counter. Batting Tetsuro’s hand away when he tries to stop him. “I figured it out it’s not that-“

“I need to use the bathroom.” He says, sharply, and all but shoves past Tetsuro.

The older man follows. “Tsukki, wait.”

But Tsukishima is running now, making a sharp turn at the stairs and climbing them in twos and threes with his long legs. By the time Tetsuro makes it to the second floor all he can hear is a door slamming shut in the general direction of one of the bedrooms.

Fuck.

Tetsuro hurries toward the origin of the sound.

It turns out the bedroom’s already occupied. The couple making out on the bed barely notices him other than to say. “Some guy just went in.” When Tetsuro approaches the bathroom door. He hesitates for a second, and exits the room.

Leaning against the wall, hoping something good will come to mind to defuse this issue with Tsukishima, he waits.

Is the younger man really so sensitive? Nah, Tetsuro probably just hit right where it hurts.

Ten minutes pass, then fifteen, then twenty.

And it’s enough

He enters the room again, the happy drunk couple is a lot more naked. “I think that cute blond died in there.” The guy hollers, and Tetsuro sighs.

He knocks softly on the door. “Tsukki?” Behind the door, someone groans. “Tsukki please, I just want to apologize.”

“Well, apology accepted.” Comes the muffled reply from inside. "Now leave me alone."

“No, really, just let me in, will you? Things are getting R-rated out here.” An awkward pause follows, so Tetsuro presses. “Please Tsukki, we’ll go look for Akaashi after.”

Of course that works.

Another moment of silence, and then the door creaks on its hinges and opens a crack. One of Tsukki’s golden eyes peeks through it. “I’m alright Kuroo-san, I just need a minute.”

“Oh, no, no. Don’t pull that with me Tsukki.” Tetsuro says, wedging one of his boots between the door and the wall. “Just let me in for a sec.”

“Go get it, guy!” The very drunk guy on the bed exclaims, and Tetsuro looks at Tsukishima, eyes pleading.

The blond narrows his eyes, but doesn’t comment, instead opening the door a slight bit wider, just enough that Tetsuro can slip through to find himself in a rather frilly bathroom. The toilet cover matches the little frills on top of the mirror and the counter and everything. Tsukishima closes the door and leans back against the sink.

One of those impossibly neat eyebrows rises. “Go on Kuroo-san.” The man says, clearly more composed than twenty minutes ago. “Else we’ll be in here all night.”

And it is in this moment that the belted realization of where he is and with whom finally hits Tetsuro. “Well -fuck, Tsukishima.” Or fuck Tsukishima? his brain unhelpfully provides, and he can't help but blush. “ I just- I’m sorry ok? I shouldn’t have meddled, I was just curious.”

Where is all of this even coming from? He’s barely buzzed.

Tsukishima frowns, eyes on the smooth ornate furnishings on the edges of the ceiling. “Why? It has nothing to do with you.”

“Uh, it does? Bo’s my best friend and he’s been pining over Akaashi since forever.”Tetsuro explains, he takes a step back and rests his elbow on the towel holder, willing his heart to go a little slower. “Maybe if I knew he was dating someone I wouldn’t egg Bokuto on to confess.”

“But he’s not dating anyone! He told you last night.” The blond counters. “You could have just believed that.”

“Right.” Tetsuro sighs. “So you’re just what? Hooking up.”

“I guess… We just said it wouldn’t be like-,” He stops, ad a small, secret smile creeps over his face. “A thing.”

Tetsuro bites back a laugh, really these two. “Whoa, that’s mature of the two of you.” He says.

“Don’t mock this Kuroo.” Tsukishima snaps.

He couldn’t be further from what’s happening, Tetsuro is actually a bit surprised both at the and at himself. “No, really Tsukki, I’d be more apprehensive of hooking up with a friend, but you two seem to have it under control.” And Tetsuro is aware that he's being a bit of a hypocrite, because there was that one incident- ok, multiple incidents-with Bokuto when they were in high school but - Maybe it’s easier because they are not in constant contact, who knows? Tetsuro pictures it in his mind, constantly hooking up with a friend, Kenma? No, that’s borderline incest. Yaku? No, same thing. Bokuto is a story of his own,  the friends line was talked about very clear from the beginning, he and Bokuto were young and-

Right. Not the moment for that.

Tsukishima sighs and some of the tension melts from his shoulders. “Well, I can't speak for results, it’s…recent.” The man looks down to meet Kuroo’s eyes. “Like this week recent.”

“Oh.” That explains them being so jumpy, it’s probably not even a stretch to suppose that it’s the first time either is in this kind of relationship. “And you don’t mind that he’s uh-“

That’s the other point that Tetsuro is iffy on, preexisting feelings seem like a lot to deal with in such an agreement. “Totally gone for Bokuto-san? No, I knew going in.” Tsukki surprises him yet again. His voice is calmer than it has been in the rest of the conversation. “We’ve been texting since school started, he told me himself.”

It all seems a bit too perfect. “That doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother you, look how you were downstairs.” Tetsuro says, careful to keep any insinuation out of his tone.

“That’s different, Akaashi’s my friend and it was shitty of all of us to leave him alone.”He blond says, gaze clouded, frown marring his pretty features. “He was excited to come.”

“Fuck, you’re right.” Tetsuro says, suddenly feeling a lot more guilty himself. “In my defense, I was playing wingman.”

“Technically so was I.” Tsukki smirks. “I guess we suck at that.”

Tetsuro is a curious person by nature when he was young he used to be pretty shy, but that's definitely not the case anymore. He’s pushed it this far, what more could go wrong? “And if they do get together?”

The other man shrugs. “I’d be… happy for him. If Bokuto ever confesses. Akaashi has tried like four times, but he always ends up choking.” 

He laughs, his friends are a mess. Not that he's much better, his eyes run up and down Tsukishima’s from, hell he might be worse. “Bo thinks he doesn’t have a chance… we really should lock them in a closet.”

“That might only make everything worse.” Tsukishima says dryly, but his smirk widens. "They’ve managed to misunderstand everything this far.”

“True.” It makes Tetsuro laugh again, he’s surprised by how easy it seems to be to talk to Tsukki in person, all these months of barely answered text messages pale in front of five minutes actually talking to the blond. “So you’d just move on?”

A part of Tetsuro wants to pretend that he’s still asking because he’s concerned for Bokuto and Akaashi, hell he might even shield himself with the excuse of looking out for Tsukki. But there’s another part of him, larger and more powerful every second, that knows he's just asking because there’s something he wants.

And Tetsuro wants to know that it’s alright to take it. 

“There isn’t much to move on from.” Tsukishima points out, craning his neck to the side, eyes clear and piercing Tetsuro to his core. “We’d still be friends.”

At some point, Tetsuro’s mouth has gone dry, he swallows against the jittery feeling that fills his chest. “That’s mature.” He takes a step forward, ready to slip to the side or to go back if Tsukishima tries to avoid him. “So he wouldn't be mad if you hooked up with someone else either?” His words are half a whisper and half a plea.

Tsukishima doesn’t move, he doesn’t lean back. There was only a little more than a foot between them in the first place, now if Tetsuro took another step he’d be pressed against Tsukishima’s body.

The blond’s eyes are piercing, his pupils blown wide. “No.” He says and Tetsuro can feel his warm breath, a hint of coffee, a hint of booze, on his face “Why do you ask?” The tone is almost innocent, almost makes Tetsuro reconsider this whole thing, it must be madness.

But Tsukishima is outing like he knows the way it makes his full lips look. So Tetsuro rises to the challenge “I… might be interested.”

That lovely mouth stretches into a smirk. “I thought you were- What was it? Apprehensive?” He whispers, voice teasing, lower than usual.

Tetsuro scoffs. “Not with you Tsukki.”

Despite the tension that fills the room, it starts soft, Tetsuro closes the space between them, and Tsukishima’s hands curl around his hips, thumbs rubbing into the ridges of bone.

There’s a second where they both hold their breath, and Tetsuro is sure that Kei is going to say something, but he only closes his eyes, a blush high on his cheeks.

It's beautiful, he is.

Then it gets out of control, Tetsuro presses the blond into the sink and joins their lips with a lot more force than strictly necessary. This is a kiss that he has been waiting for for ages. Tsukishima isn’t pliant under him either, the blond sucks Tetsuro’s lower lip into his mouth and sucks hard. 

A groan escapes the older man, and he delves his tongue into the other's mouth, one hand wrapped around his jaw, the other fisted in the back of that damned shirt. Tsukishima’s own hands wander, finding their way under Tetsuro’s shirt to caress the soft skin of his back. 

Tsukishima parts for air first his eyes are half-lidded, molten gold in the amber light, the sliver of chest that Tetsuro made him expose early is heaving, agitated. The man braces himself and slides up to sit on the marble counter that houses the sink, legs opening slightly, and Tetsuro follows, no questions asked to settle between them.

He kisses Tsukishma's bruised mouth again, then shifts to the side, to press wet, open-mouthed kisses to the edge of the man’s jaw, then works his way down, sucking softly on the skin, careful not to leave any marks, not yet

Tsukishima moans softly every time he feels Tetsuro’s lips scrape over his skin, his hands curled into fists at the older man’s shirt, tugging insistently.

Tetsuro stops for a moment, they are in a random bathroom, in a random party. He’s pretty sure they’re both sober enough, but... ”Kuroo…” And the breathy sound is so full of want he can’t help but humor Tsukishima, so he leans forward and lets the blond tug the shirt up over his head before he dives back in, biting at Tsukishima’s insistent lips.

Tsukishima’s hands roam over Tetsuro's chest and shoulders, sometimes soft, sometimes raking his nails lightly down his skin in a way that gives him goosebumps.

They’re in the middle of a heated kiss, Tetsuro making quick work of Tsukishima’s shirt buttons when the blond experimentally bucks his hips upwards, the older man can't help but groan at the feeling of friction, he can feel Tsukishima’s hardness against his legs and he isn’t much better off. 

The next time Tsukishima grinds against him, he bucks back.

Groaning, as Tsukishima’s legs come up to wrap around Tetsuro’s middle.

Still kissing, hands roaming, scratching and caressing, they build a rhythm, rutting against each other. The friction too much, Tetsuro feels too warm, but also like he’s not ever going to have enough, he kisses all of the skin that he can reach, biting at Kei’s collarbone, softly grazing his nipples. Cataloging each sounds that he draws from him.

Tsukishima doesn’t stay behind though, his hands wander just as much, they scratch Tetsuro’s sides and pull at his hair to drag him in for kisses that get more demanding every time.

This is-

A knock o the door startles them both, Tetsuro has half a mind to tell whoever the bastard is to find another bathroom.

That is until said bastard speaks. “Uh- sorry whoever’s in there.” They both recognize the voice immediately, of all the people that could interrupt… “I just- I'm looking for my friend. Could I just have a peek in there to make sure he isn’t inside?” Bokuto’s voice sounds breathy and shaky, and the man doesn’t tire quickly, he must have been running around for a whole.

How long has he been outside?

Tetsuro stares at the door, then looks back at Tsukishima, who is shakily trying to get the buttons on his shirt closed.

“Uh, please?” Bokuto sounds a bit desperate. Tetsuro sighs and pulls his own shirt back on.

“Wait a sec.” He calls, in what hopes is the composed voice of someone who was not hardcore grinding on the object of his obsession in the bathroom of a random house.

“Bro!” The owl exclaims outside. “Is that you?”

Tetsuro looks back at Tsukishima, who is giving him the most wide-eyed, panicked expression that he has ever seen on him. “Say something.” The blond mouths.

“Yeah, Tsukki got sick, he's cleaning up.” It really is the first thing that comes to his mind, he can feel the blond glaring at him, but it was that or telling the truth. He shrugs in the blond’s direction, and concentrates on fixing the -even bigger than usual- mess on his head.

Bokuto doesn't seen to believe it anyways. “Right Bro, just get your clothes on fast, please.” Tetsuro would try to convince him, except the urgent tone in the other’s voice startles him.

He shoots a glance in Tsukishima’s direction, the blond is as composed as he’s going to get, there’s no hiding the bruised lips and the way his hair is sticking up anyways. Tetsuro opens the door. Instead of the couple from before, all he finds is Bokuto, a miserable expression taking over his face and red-rimmed eyes. 

“Who’s lost, Bo? Last I saw Hinata and Lev they were playing that dancing game-“ He’s cut off by the other’s apologetic vice.

“Yes uh, they’re asleep, on a couch.” The silver-haired man looks at his feet, trembling a little. “It’s Akaashi, Akaashi’s lost.”

Behind him, there’s a sharp intake of breath. Tetsuro turns around, and he doesn’t know who looks guiltier, Bokuto or Tsukishima.

Chapter Text

There’s no other way to say it, Koutarou is freaking out.

He’s been through all of the rooms on the first floor at least twice, then trough the backyard, and the kitchen, and all of the rooms upstairs too.

He’s only missing this bathroom and he just prays Akaashi will come out, that he’ll be alright.

Never mind that the sounds that were just coming from the bathroom are nothing but lewd, still, he’ll take a safe Akaashi hooking up with someone else over a missing one every day. Even if his heart breaks a little just thinking about it

“Wait a sec!” Someone exclaims from the inside, voice rough and so familiar.

“Bro is that you?” A small spot of hope ignites in his chest, Kuroo has to be able to help.

There is a pregnant pause before Kuroo speaks again. “Yeah, Tsukki got sick, he’s cleaning up.”

Now Koutarou can be a bit slow, he’s not denying that, but the way Kuroo’s voice sounds -not to mention the noises coming from the bathroom when he arrived- there’s no way that those two weren’t just making out… or worse. “Right Bro, just get your clothes on fast, please.”

Still, that hardly matters right now. He can think of congratulating Kuroo later.

Finally, the other two emerge from the bathroom, Kuroo’s hair looks a lot more rumpled than usual and his shirt is on inside out. Tsukishima looks slightly less rumpled, -now if it weren’t for his swollen lips and dazed expression-. “Who’s lost, Bo? Last I saw Hinata and Lev they were playing that dancing game-“ 

“Yes uh, they’re asleep, on a couch.” Koutarou cuts him off, he can’t bear to look at either of them in the face, a fresh wave of guilt crashes over him. “It’s Akaashi, Akaashi’s lost.”

Tsukishima gasps, and his face morphs into a murderous scowl. In front of him, Kuroo covers his face with his hand and takes a deep breath. “Oh Bo, let's think about this ok? Have you called his house? Maybe he left?” The man says, examining Koutarou's expression.

“I don’t think he would have left without telling us,” Tsukishima interjects, his tone concerned.

“Maybe he couldn’t find any of us?” Kuroo says. “Do you know his house number, Bo?”

At least that he knows. “Yeah.”

“Good, call them.” Tetsuro says.

Koutarou is about to pull out his phone, but surprisingly Tsukishima stops him. “And if he isn’t there? His mom might freak out.”

Kuroo turns to the blond, eyes narrowed, and they exchange a silent look. “Ugh.” He groans, handing Koutarou his phone. “Just dial it ok?”

“Ok,” He quickly types in the number and hands the phone back to Kuroo.

They hear the dial tone, faint, and then someone's sleepy voice answering. “Hello Akaashi-san, This is Sawamura, I’m in Akaashi-kun’s class?” Kuroo says, voice half an octave higher than usual. “I’m so sorry abut the hour, I just lost his cell number and I wanted to ask something about a chemistry assignment.” Kuroo’s forehead scrunches, and he sighs. “Oh, I see, no it’s not urgent, don’t worry, I’ll make sure to call tomorrow. Ok, have a great night too.”

Fuck.” Tsukishima mutters.

Koutarou feels like he’s crashing, on what, he doesn’t know, all he knows is he’s a horrible friend and won’t even be mad if Akaashi never even talks to him again.

“Ok so, lets search again, lets ask people. Someone must have seen him” Kuroo says, looking between Koutarou and Tsukishima. “I’ll take this floor, you two take the first.”

He doesn’t seem to notice his mistake until Tsukishima blows past Koutarou, glaring a him the whole time. “This is your fault.” He says, and hurries downstairs and into the throng of people.  

Koutarou wants to bite back, say he’s not the only one at fault, say he’s sorry, but Tsukishima is probably going to snap at him again.

And this is mostly his fault.

It's always like this, always him dropping the ball, always him disappointing Akaashi. Making him jump through hoops in every sense.

First, they go to the living room, but it’s filled to the brim with strangers, none of whom seem very cooperative, all they manage to do is rescue Kuroo’s jacket from one of the chairs. The hall and the dining room are the same.

Both of the downstairs bathrooms yield nothing but drunken couples in varying states of undress.

They find Hinata and Lev, sitting in the kitchen. They have somehow managed to charm some older girls into taking care of the poor, drunken high schoolers. Luckily they seem a bit more sober and willing to cooperate than before.

“Have either of you seen Akaashi?” And he must say it very loud because all of the occupants of the room look at him like he’s just sprouted horns.

Hinata wobbles in his seat. “Uh not lately. He played with us a little, but then he lost a few times and said he had to get some fresh air.”

“Like, he was way wasted though.” Lev blinks at them slowly. “Is he lost?”

He and Tsukishima exchange a look, dread fills the blond's eyes, and he doesn’t even deign to answer Lev, just groans and grabs Koutarou by the wrist.

They run together to the front yard, with its stupid little gnomes and manicured grass, but there’s only some guy smoking out there. Koutarou hurries towards him. “Did you see a really pretty guy leave? A bit shorter than me, dark hair, beige sweater?”

The guy shakes his head no. “I’ve been here for like two minutes dude.” 

Fuck, fuck.

Koutarou is breathing hard, he wants to tun he wants to find Akaashi and hug him, and apologize.

A warm weight suddenly settles on his shoulder, he turns to look at Tsukishima, who has worry etched over his features. “Should we each take a side?” He says, gesturing toward the street. 

Koutarou is about to say yes. He’ll scour the streets until dawn if it’s necessary.

But then there's some sort of commotion inside the house, someone screams, and there’s the sound of people arguing. “Some guy just fell in the fountain, man!” Someone yells from inside. And it hits Koutarou, the backyard. 

He’s suddenly sprinting inside, shoving people to the side all but jumping over every step or obstacle in his way. Tsukishima is right behind him. 

At the backyard, a couple of guys have stepped in and they are pulling a sopping wet form out of the small fountain.”C'mon dude, you alright to walk?” One says.

“We’ll get you a cab.” The other continues. 

They come closes, and Tsukishima rushes forward, it takes a second for Koutarou to realize that it’s because he’s recognized the sweater clinging to the man's torso and the matted dark hair.

“ I need to- to find my friend.” Akaashi is saying, shivering violently. Then he looks up, and Koutarou can see how his eyes fill with relief when they meet the blond’s “Tsu-Tsukishima.”

The younger man is on him in a second, checking over Akaashi's head and face for injuries from the fall. Koutarou hurries ahead too. “Thanks, guys, he says to the two others. “He’s our friend, we’ll uh, take him home now.” Then he turns to look, really look, Akaashi is wet from his hair to his toes, he leans against Tsukishima like he can't find balance on his own. “Akaashi, oh gods, I’m so sorry. So sorry, are you okay?” He says, pushing back the wet hair that is plastered on the other's face.

“Bokuto-san? I’m f-fine, just c-cold?” The setter stammers, eyes glassy. "Where w-were you?"

Tsukishima sighs, though thankfully he doesn't comment. “Bokuto-san, I’m going to take off his sweater, you help him put on Kuroo’s jacket.”

Koutarou nods, and mutely does what he’s told, he doesn’t really want to speak right now.

“Oi guys! You found him?” Kuroo is here now too, running towards them, relief painted over his face. “What happened?”

“He fell in the pond." Tsukishima says. Gesturing towards Akaashi’s sodden clothes. “I uh, gave him your jacket.”

Kuroo looks down at the soaking wet man again, expression turning to dismay. “Good thinking Tsukki.”

“What do we do now?” Koutarou asks “We can't just drop him off at his house like this.”

And it’s true, Akaashi’s parents are lax, but that’s because Akaashi is usually very responsible, they are not going to just look this over. 

“Let's take him to my dorm.” Kuroo suggests, hands folded across his chest. “We’ll give him some food and throw his clothes in the dryer and see what we do from there.”

“Ok, let's go.” Tsukishima sighs, he tightens his arm around Akaashi’s waist. “C’mon Keiji.” He says like it’s nothing, Koutarou wonders when those two became so close.

Akaashi manages a couple of steps before he stumbles, and that’s it, Koutarou can’t take it, he slips under Akaashi’s other arm and none too gently gestures at Tsukishima to let go of the drunk boy. “Grab on to my shoulders Akaashi.” He says, and as soon as those shivering arms are around his neck, he bends down and slips his other arm under the man’s knees, effectively carrying him.

They pass by the kitchen on their way out, turns out Lev and Hinata -or the group of college girls watching over them- have already called cabs for themselves.

It’s a relief. “You could go too, Tsukishima” He finds himself saying, But the blond just looks down. 

“I’m staying until we drop him off.” He says, no room for discussion, and then turns around to glare at Hinata. “You'll send me a picture once you’re there, and it better be soon.”

Koutarou doesn’t press the issue, he just looks down at Akaashi, who is watching him with his pretty, unfocused eyes. The setter burrows against Koutarou’s chest, still trembling a little and he says “I’m sorry, Bokuto-san”

And Koutarou’s heart breaks, just a little more.

.

.

The walk to Kuroo’s is thankfully not long, more so with Bokuto carrying Akaashi in his arms and all but sprinting there, like it’s nothing, like Akaashi is not a full-grown 6 feet tall volleyball player -a little part of Kei, deep inside, is very grateful for Bokuto’s tenacity right now-.

He’s walking beside Kuroo, a few steps behind the owl, almost struggling to keep up. A tense silence stretches between them.

Now that Akaashi’s safe -although not too well- Kei has finally had time to let everything that happened at the party dawn on him.

Everything including what happened in the bathroom.

He’d like to be able to say that he was drunk, but he wasn’t, he’d barely had one drink, and Kuroo wasn’t drunk either, so Kei’s out of excuses -and completely mortified by his own behavior-. He’s faced with the reality that he just acted like… well like a slut. There’s no other term for it in his mind.

The thing with Akaashi was different, they’d spoken and agreed, and understood it all.

With Kuroo he’d just let himself go, used, user the older man probably thinks Kei’s gross by ow, and not without a reason.

He knows about Akaashi too.

Kei chances a look at Kuroo out of the corner of his eye, but the other’s face is staring straight ahead, it betrays nothing.

They are almost at the dorms, Kei, second-guessing his decision to stay, looks around, wondering if it’s better to just call a cab now, just then, Kuroo’s voice breaks the silence. “Bo, I, there’s nothing to eat up there.” He says. “Do you mind running to the 24-hour store and grabbing a few things? I’ll take Akaashi and Tsukki up.”

The statement is innocent enough, but once Kei looks at Akaashi, it’s clear he’s a dry change of clothes away from falling asleep.

Which would mean he and Kuroo basically alone, he and Kuroo with what just happened hanging between them.

And that is when he panics, he eyes Bokuto, as the other man hands Akaashi over to Kuroo. Kei is mad at him, very, but he’s also mad at himself and… it’s the lesser of two evils. “I’ll go with him.” He says, voice raspy and unsure. “I mean I have a headache.” He says, panicked gaze meeting Kuroo’s brown, disconcerted one for a second. “I need pills.”

The older man sighs, he looks at Kei for a second, gaze pitying. “Ok. Tsukki” his voice sounds hollow, and he adjusts his grip on Akaashi. Then his eyes drift towards Bokuto’s hunched back. “Play nice, won’t you?”

Kei doesn’t have the strength to do anything but nod, he just steps toward the former ace, not meeting the other’s eyes. “Lead the way.”

And Bokuto -this strange, silent version of him with downcast eyes and hunched shoulders- starts walking. Kei follows, if only because he doesn’t know where the store is -hell he’s not that sure where he is either-, the silence that falls over him and Bokuto is heavy, Kei is mostly fine with it, really, he doesn’t have much to say to Bokuto and has only ever seen the other man like this from afar. Loud, nosy, energetic Bokuto he can sort of handle, down Bokuto is Akaashi’s territory, and he’s never known how the setter does it.

He’ll probably bounce back as soon as they get back to Akaashi anyways.

Besides, now that his emotions aren’t running so high -and he’s by all means avoiding the thought of Kuroo- Kei might be starting to feel like he went too hard on the former ace.

Not that this isn’t still mostly Bokuto’s fault, mind you.

But Kei had a hand in it too.

So they walk, silently, the store is a few blocks over and when they go in the fluorescent lights make Kei’s eyes hurt.

Bokuto, still silent, wanders around the store, he grabs a few sports drinks, instant noodles, and a pack of onigiri -the fancy, expensive kind- the silver-haired man hesitates before picking up that last item.

And Kei feels himself soften a bit.

Those are Akaashi’s favorite, when it comes to convenience store food, at least. 

Whatever else, Bokuto does love Akaashi.

Kei sighs, it's too late and he’s too tired for this. He waits until the owl has paid to pick out four meat buns and stuff them into a bag. He lets it fall on the counter beside the box of analgesics he has picked. All without meeting the other’s eyes. “Hey! I already got everything.” Bokuto says, lifting his own bag.

“Well, I want some.” Kei shrugs and finishes paying. “Kuroo likes them too, if you don’t want any I’ll just give the extra to Hinata when I get back.”

Bokuto just stares at him, eyes wide and head craned to one side, in a way that makes Kei feel a bit exposed. Then the man just pouts, shoulders still drooping, eyes shiny. “Aw, but they’ll be cold by then Tsukki.” 

Kei tries not to be irked by the use of that nickname -he’s mostly given up trying to get them not to use it, doesn’t mean it’s not annoying- “Not my problem.” Kei says nonchalantly, walking past Bokuto towards the door, meat bun already in hand. 

It takes a second before Bokuto’s heavy footsteps catch up to him, Kei looks down at the man, he seems a bit more animated as he scows at him. “Gimme my meat bun Tsukki.” He says, and Kei wants to laugh.

He lifts the bag towards Bokuto, who gingerly takes out the warm thing. “Thanks.” The man grumbles, shoving the bun in his mouth. They walk silently for a few minutes, until Bokuto seemingly can’t hold it anymore. “So you and Kuroo.” He says, and Kei is staring ahead but he’s absolutely positive that the other man is wiggling his eyebrows at him.

“I think you’ve misunderstood the situation Bokuto-san.” Kei says, trying to keep his voice even, hand coming up to adjust his glasses.

“Tsukki, he came out of that bathroom with his shirt inside out.” Bokuto smugly counters. “I’m not stupid.”

Uh, had Kuroo? Kei was worried about Akaashi, but he must’ve been more rattled than he thought. No wonder though, as images from before rush in and fill his head, Kei feels his blush spread all the way down to his chest. “I-I’m not talking about this, go ask Kuroo if you’re so curious.” 

“Aw c’mon Tsukki.” The owl drags that last syllable, like he’s just waiting for Kei to lose his patience… only that's more Kuroo’s thing. 

Kei takes a deep breath. “Don’t call me that.” he bites back. “And worry about your own problems.”

"You're no fun." Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Bokuto’s head droop again, his eyes staring at the floor. “But yeah, I guess I have a big one.” Those irises, bright like pennies, weighted with guilt, look up at Kei “How long do you think he’s going to hate me?”

And at that, Kei wants to laugh, a less stoic person would, if they knew as Kei does that Bokuto couldn’t be further for the truth if he were trying to explain quantum physics. Even if the man wasn’t so unbearably, cluelessly nice, it would probably not be an issue. “I don’t think he’s even physically capable of that Bokuto-san.”

Bokuto is giving him that wide-eyed stare again. “I know! But still…” He whines, and then buries his face in his hands -which seems ill-advised, seeing as they are in the middle of the street and all-. “Bah, I’m a horrible friend.”

Raising his eyes to the sky, Kei takes a deep breath, he wonders if it’s going to be very long until they get back to Kuroo’ dorm, at this pace he’s going to have Bokuto in tears, and that’s not the point. He tries to think of something empathetic to say that’s not totally lame, but there’s no much he can come up with. “So am I.” Kei concedes. “To a smaller degree though.”

Bokuto’s eyes are grateful for a second -the man practically radiates gratefulness- but then they drop to the pavement again. “You didn’t just abandon him there! Oh, I don’t deserve Akaashi.” He seems to be getting louder each time he speaks. “I’m so awful.”

And Kei doesn’t really understand why Bokuto is beating himself up over this so... enthusiastically, but then again, he shouldn’t have brought this up, even if Bokuto did push him into it a little. 

Awkwardly, and ready to retreat it at any second, he raises his left arm and softly pats Bokuto’s back.

“I don’t-“ Kei has always sucked at comforting people, even when he actually knows them well, he doesn’t like to lie and is no good at it either. “He doesn’t think so.” He says blush now high in his cheeks for another reason, voice as dismissive as he can make it sound. “Besides I’m sure you’re already forgiven.”

“That’s sweet Tsukki.” Bokuto says, as if surprised, he smiles up at Kei through moist eyes. “I’m sure he’s not mad at you either.”

Kei can see the dorms about a block ahead and there’s nothing else to say anyways. “Hmph”

.

.

Oh god, the world is still spinning.

After being assaulted with bright light, Keiji had thought it may be safe to try and open his eyes. 

How wrong he’d been.

Kuroo’s strong arms carry him and gently set his body down somewhere soft that smells nice, Keiji gladly burrows deeper. “Oh, c’mon Akaashi.” He hears Kuroo sigh. “Get in something warm first.”

Keiji’s tired, and the world is disgustingly unstable and spinny right now. “The light hurts, Kuroo-san.”

“Will you let me help you change if I turn it off?”

Keiji nods, and whimpers as the world tilts dangerously to one side. The offending light is soon turned off, and he opens his eyes. 

There's a scant amount of light coming from the hallway. He can make out a hamper and a desk next to the bed that he’s been laid down in. Everything still seems a bit unstable, but the dark helps. Keiji takes a breath and pushes himself up. 

Someone is quietly rummaging through the closet. Keiji wants to be afraid for a second, until the figure turns around, right, Kuroo-san is here. This is Kuroo-san’s room.

Oh god, what has he done?

Way in the back of his mind where a headache is slowly taking form, a little voice says that he has thoroughly fucked everything up.

Though right now he doesn’t quite know what everything is. 

 Still, he feels tears fill his eyes.

“Hey, hey, Akaashi.” Kuroo’s face is now in front of his, brows furrowed in concern, voice soft. “What’s wrong? Does something hurt?” Keiji shakes his head no, he just knows that all of a sudden he feels so very anxious. “Ok, I’m going to help you with your shoes and pants ok?” The other man says, gaze averted.

Keiji feels heat rise to his cheeks, still, getting vertical and coordinated enough to switch clothes doesn't seem to be in his immediate future, and he’s cold, shivering, he realizes. “Ok.” He says.

“Just tell me if you wanna puke ok? I have a bucket ready.” Kuroo gets to work right away, sliding Keiji’s sneakers off his feet, pulling off his socks. Letting Keiji grab onto his shoulders when he has to slide off his sodden pants and he can't find enough balance to hold himself up. 

The man slips him into sweatpants that feel soft and well worn, then he gently coaxes his jacket off Keiji’s shoulders. “Lift your arms now.” And he slips a warm hoodie over Keiji.

God, he owes Kuroo a huge thank you gift.

“There.” Kuroo steps back, surveying his work. “Better?” When Keiji nods, the man takes a seat beside him on the bed. “What happened Akaashi?”

“I-“ Keiji can't help but flinch.

“Don’t worry, I just want to know if we have to go punch someone.”

Keiji takes a deep breath, and sways as he does, he might feel a bit better but the world is still off tilt. “I- I waited for Bokuto-san.” He says, and then realizes something very important. “Where's Bokuto-san? Is he mad?” He whips his head around, but all it accomplishes is making him even dizzier, before he falls back on the bed, Akaashi feels the weight of a warm arm falling across his shoulders, pulling him to lean on Kuroo’s shoulder.

“Oh that one can’t get mad at you ‘Kaashi, no" Kuroo's voice is sweet, reassuring. "Bo is getting some food for us, Tsukki is with him,” He says, Keiji feels the rumble of his voice more than he hears it. It’s soothing. “What happened next?”

“Uh.” Keiji furrows his brows. “He didn’t come back.” He says feeling a wave of sadness sweep over him. “I wanted to go find Tsukishima... I drank both drinks to get rid of them "That was probably where everything went to hell, Keiji muses. "There was this irritating guy… then I was dancing?”

“With Lev and Hinata?” Kuroo prompts.

“I… think so?” Keiji’s not sure, everything is a jumble. “I think I drank more there? And then I was outside in the street and the annoying guy came back?” He recalls the guy’s hand settling on the small of his back, the stench of alcohol on his breath.

Kuroo hums and tenses over Keiji. “So you went back in?”

At some point, he shoved the guy on his ass though, that he remembers. “Y-yes, but there were too many people, I got… I couldn’t breathe. And I couldn’t find anyone” He was scared, breathing like he was hungry for air and all those bodies ere crushing him and then-

“Oh, Akaashi,” Kuroo says, softly, and pulls Keiji a bit closer. Glad for the contact, Keiji leans into it.

“Then I… Did I fall in a pond Kuroo-san?” He turns to meet the other’s worried eyes.

The other man sighs, he tugs at the hoodie that Keiji’s wearing and wipes the tear that has at some point made its way down his face. “A fountain, Bo carried you back here.”

Keiji feels even more blood rush to his cheeks, and idly wonders if it is possible for excessive embarrassment to trigger a stroke. “Oh, I’m so-“

“Don’t apologize” Kuroo interrupts him. “If anything we should, we’re supposed to be your friends.” Being so close, Keiji can hear the way he grinds his teeth together, see how his forehead scrunches up.

“But no one made me drink.” Keiji points out. He doesn’t want Kuroo to make that face. “I really should-“

“No, Akaashi, we should’ve been with you. Instead, we got caught up with other things and…”

Kuroo looks a bit too guilty, his ears are hot, could it be? “So you finally confessed?” It’s out before Keiji can help it, he usually would’ve abstained from saying anything

“Uh- what?” the man gasps, stiffening even further.

“To Tsukishima.” Keiji says evenly.

Kuroo laughs. “It didn’t quite go like that.”

“What happened, Kuroo-san?” Keiji says, brow furrowed, suddenly quite concerned.

“Nothing much.” Akaashi’s not too confident of his current control over his own body, but he probably pulls a sufficiently incredulous expression because Kuroo just sighs. “Well, nothing more than what you guys have done.”

“He told you.” Keiji’s more surprised than anything, but then the older man chuckles.

“No Tsukki wouldn't, I figured it out.” And then it’s like a dam bursts. “We made out, that’s it-“

“Kuroo-san-“ Keiji’s very invested in this, he is, after all, whatever happened might have Tsukishima’s head tangled like a ball of yarn, or anything might be alright -although it sounds more like the first one-.

But over the last few seconds, the largest, more overpowering wave of nausea has filled him

“It’s fine, I know Tsukki doesn’t like me like that, he’s just… curious-” He says forlornly.

“Kuroo-san.” Keiji’s about to gag.

Kuroo continues. “He lives all the way in Miyagi any-.”

“Kuroo-san- The bucket.” Then Kuroo finally gets it, he dives for the bucket at the foot of the bed and manages to shove it under Keiji’s head just in time for him to empty the contents of his stomach in it. 

Scratch what he thought before, as Keiji hurls again into the bucket and Kuroo’s had rubs his back soothingly, the setter thinks that he owes his soul to Kuroo Tetsuro for this. 

.

.

Tsukishima and Bokuto arrive around twenty minutes after Akaashi finishes puking. Thankfully, the setter seems like he’s feeling much better than before.

Bokuto too is mostly back to his usual high spirits, Tetsuro can only wonder what happened. He was expecting to deal with a full-on armful of self-deprecating owl. Instead, the man just seems concerned.

Tetsuro leads him, and Tsukishima to his room, where Bokuto takes his place sitting beside Akaashi, he looks at the setter gravely, and then envelops those long-fingered hands in his wide ones. “'Kaashi, I’m so sorry.” He says, eyes downcast. “I left you I’m so sorry.”

Akaashi, still swaying a bit, leans his forehead on Bokuto’s shoulder. “It’s fine Bokuto-san.” He mumbles, sounding much more composed than half an hour ago. 

Bokuto’s face remains pinched, but he lets go of Akaashi’s hands and pulls something from his convenience store bag. “These are for you.” He says “It’s your favorite brand.”

Akaashi takes the pack of onigiri, looking at them like Bokuto has just handed him solid gold. His eyes tear up. “Than you Bokuto-san, he says, even as he unwraps one, and Bokuto just hugs him. Akaashi leans into it.

Tetsuro can’t help but feel just a little bit envious.

“Oi…” He hears from behind him. Tsukishima is scowling and holding another bag out at him. Tetsuro peeps in, finding a couple of still-warm meat buns. He looks up at the other man, mildly surprised. “You didn’t have to Tsukki.”

The blond rolls his eyes and shakes the bag at him. “You all eat like twice the normal amount. Take it.”

“The whole bag?” Suddenly Tetsuro feels warm all over.

Tsukishima shrugs, glancing at the bed. “I don’t think Akaashi’s eating his.” At Tetsuro’s narrowed gaze he adds. “We ate ours on the way.”

Ears burning, heart pumping a bit harder than usual, Tetsuro takes the bag. “Thank you.” He says. “And for the record, we eat like normal people, you eat like a bird.”

“Whatever.” Tsukishima says and drops his body on Tetsuro’s couch, avoiding all eye contact.

Fuck, they still have to talk.

But first, sits on the arm of the couch and finishes his meat buns, he’s starving. 

Akaashi’s wet clothes are still on the floor, so Tetsuro picks them up. by this point, everyone has finished eating and Akaashi is resting his head sleepily on Bokuto’s lap, who in turn is leaning back against Tetsuro’s pillows. “I’m taking these down to the dryer ok?” He says, to the three sleepy men in the room. “Behave.”

He goes through the whole errand mechanically, eyes almost drooping, he’s tired, and worried still about the whole Tsukki situation. 

Once back upstairs, the first thing he notices is that Bokuto and Akaashi are fast asleep, Tsukishima himself is nodding off sprawled on the couch. 

Tetsuro wants to either curse or be careful for the chance. “Hey, Tsukishima.” He says, startling the blond. “Can we talk for a bit?”

Tsukishima must’ve known it was coming, he doesn't look surprised, his shoulders tense, and he stares straight at Tetsuro. “I’m tired. Can’t it wait?”

“Tsukki.” Tetsuro gently scolds. “Don’t shut me out.”

“I’m not I just-“ Tsukishima pauses, eyes narrowed, almost confused. "I really am tired, I’m not saying we won't talk, but…”

Tetsuro sighs. “Not right now?” And though no words come from Tsukishima’s mouth, he can see the 'please' in his golden eyes. “Ok, but only if you make some space.” He says, gesturing to the couch. “I'm wiped too and the clothes won’t be ready for half an hour still.”

Tsukishima scoots over at the couch and gives him a quizzical look. “The machines are old.” Tetsuro explains, and drops into the couch, sagging over the arm.

“I’m sorry, you didn’t even get to drink.” Tsukishima says, after a second.

Tetsuro smiles, feeling his eyes droop. “Nevermind, I got something better.”

And Tsukishima says something else, but he’s already gone.

.

.

About two hours later -and very close to dawn- they are all sitting in the car, everyone decently sober by now. 

They drop Akaashi off first, he steps off the car with surprisingly steady steps, among a flurry of apologies.

Next goes Tsukishima, sleep weighing down his eyes, he groans when he sees the Karasuno bus already waiting outside of Fukurodani.

As for Kuroo and Bokuto, they find themselves watching the sunset in the McDonald's parking lot, Both relatively silent, both with weights on their minds.

What little is spoken ends in the same conclusions. Koutarou needs to make this up to Akaashi.

And Tetsuro…

Well, Tetsuro needs to figure a lot of shit out.

.

.

@3RD GYM BBYS.

FROM: TSUKKI -SUNSHINE- 7:45

Hinata got scolded, and he threw up on the bus, as for me, I am alright. 

I hate you all.

Auewbhbgs- This is Yamaguchi, next time I’m not covering for anyone if I’m not invited.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI <3 - 8:15

I’m glad, Tsukishima.

I have a headache, but everything else seems fine.

I’m sorry, again

FROM: KUBROO- 8:17

Akaashi, drink a lot of water, I’m not kidding.

Tsukki, you don't have a right to this much grumpiness, you’re not even hungover.

Of course, Yamaguchi’s invited next time.

Take care, and stop apologizing.

Tsukki, tell us when you get there.

FROM: ME- 8:30

Don’t u guys sleep?

I’m dropping by later ‘kaashi, listen to Kuroo.

You’re all weird and grumpy but 

I love you guys.

Also, I’m going back to sleep.

And before you can say it Tsukki, there will be a next one.

FROM: TSUKKI -SUNSHINE- 9:48

There absolutely won't.

Chapter Text

@THE VB BAES.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 8:16

*attached image*

SEE THAT!

Told ya we could do it.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI- 8:18

Congrats Bokuto-san.

(are both of you alright?)

FROM: ME - 8:20

No one said you couldn’t, just that it’s dangerous and you shouldn’t.

It looks fun I guess.

(But are you?)

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 8:23

Oh, you men of little faith.

Of coursE.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 8:24

Well...

I may have fallen on Bo.

And he may have a black eye.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI - 8:18

Kuroo-san. 

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 8:25

Akaashiiiii.

It’s just a little bruise.

*image attached*

FROM: ME - 8:26

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Not a little bruise.

I (we) told you so.

You might want to ice that.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 8:28

You’re mean.

FROM: ME - 8:32

You look like you picked a fight with a kangaroo.

Besides, we did warn you two.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 8:33

Aw but it was fun Tsukki.

Bruises heal.

Any chance you’ll join us ;)?

FROM: ME - 8:35

No thanks, I like my face.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 8:33

But we’ll take care of you! you can be the one on top.

Oops.

You know what I mean.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 8:33

We like your face too Tsukkii ;)

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 8:34

We’re also thinking of trying pole dancing.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI - 8:36

:O 

No.

Kuroo-san.

Just no.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 8:37

But whyyyyy?

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI - 8:38

*image attached*

This.

Also, you two would probably disrupt the classes.

And that’s rude.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 8:40

You can come too ‘kaashi.

To make sure we behave.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI - 8:40

I-

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 8:40

Hell yeah, you’re flexible!

You’ll do better than us.

FROM: ME - 8:41

You are not potentially killing Akaashi too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have calculus.

 

“Who are you texting so much Tsukki?” Tadashi says beside him, craning his head to catch the name in Kei’s phone and making the blond jump -when the hell did his friend even get here?-.

Kei quickly snatches the phone away, fighting back the thoughts of him being too engrossed in the chat to notice Tadashi arriving. “No one.”

“Hmm Kuroo-san? Akaashi-san?” seeing the blush on Kei’s face spread, Yamaguchi flashes him an innocent smile. “I can go on if you wanna keep being cagey.”

“It’s a group chat.” Kei sighs, at least it’s Tadashi asking. “With them in it.”

“Oh.” It almost seems like Tadashi is just going to leave it at that, but of course, Kei’s not that lucky. “So what were you laughing about?”

“I was not laughing.” Kei rebuffs, shooting his best friend a dirty look.

Tadashi rolls his eyes, a concerning habit that seems to be rubbing off on him. “Well, smirking or whatever.”

He’s really not getting out of this one, is he? Kei gives up and opens up the chat app -there are like twenty new messages, which he ignores.- and scrolls up to the initial photo.

Kuroo and Bokuto, in an attempt to not ‘lose touch’ started an acro yoga class last week, -of course, because a pro Volleyball player and one of the starting players of a university team don't work out near enough- only, of course, they seem hell-bent on trying advanced stuff right of the bat. Like this.

In the photo, they are in some park, probably in Kuroo’s campus, Bokuto is lying on his back, legs and arms extended towards the sky and spread. His hands are holding on to Kuroo’s shoulders, whose own arms are also extended pushing his knees out and keeping his legs in a lotus position. “Whoa that’s cool.” Yamaguchi says, grabbing the hone from him. “And they look hot, can’t blame you, really.”

The worst is that they are, both are wearing muscle shirts and loose shorts, Bokuto’s biceps and deltoids bulge in a distracting way that makes Kei sort of want to lick them, and Kuroo’s shirt is riding up showing off smooth tanned skin and the way his abs tighten to keep the position, his thighs are also straining with the effort. “Oh shut up Yamaguchi.” To think that Kei has actually run his hands over that smooth skin almost sends him reeling. It has been a month already and the memories are clear as if it happened just yesterday.

And they haunt him when he’s sleeping.

“Sorry Tsukki, but it’s the truth.” Tadashi says. “Why were you laughing at this though? it’s good.”

“Oh, that’s because of this.” Kei grabs the phone again and switches pictures, the next one is of Bokuto with a purple-blue bruise that goes from above his eyebrow to halfway down his cheek, eye injected with blood and grinning like a maniac, his hand raised in a thumbs-up sign. “Apparently, Kuroo fell on him.”

Tadashi winces. “Ugh, knee to the face?”

“I don’t want to know.” Actually, he does, but he’s not about to ask. Ever since that happened with Kuroo he’s been answering his texts -mostly memes- sometimes even sending one of his own but he’s staunchly stayed away from any serious conversation or anything that could lead to it.

Snatching away his phone to return to the previous photo, Tadashi studies it. “They’re still hot.”

Someone, somewhere, must be laughing at Kei, he’s sure. “Shut up Yamaguchi.”

.

.

The door closes with a click and Tetsuro kind of wants to rest against it for a little while. He’s feeling all kinds of sore and achy after that class, it’s the good kind of sore and achy though.

Which is not something he can say about his best bro.

So he drags his sore body to the kitchen and fetches an ice pack from the freezer.

What? They’re a necessity.

He heads back to his room where Bokuto lays sprawled on his bed. Tetsuro considers tossing him the ice pack but taking certain recent events into account that might not be the best of ideas. “Bo, I got you some ice for that.”

The other man lifts his head, and oh, the bruise is getting even darker. “Bro, I think my face's gonna fall off.” He says, letting his head fall back down as dramatically as he can. “Please put it on for me?”

Tetsuro rolls his eyes. “Fine, you spoiled owl.” He slides on the bed right beside his friend and carefully presses the ice pack to the battered side of his face.

Bokuto’s visible eye crinkles, and he smiles, and Tetsuro feels a wave of fondness wash over him as he lays down as well, shoulder brushing Koutarou’s. They’re both sweaty, but it’s laundry day, so he doesn’t mind lying down like this for a little.  

Koutarou has, meanwhile, grabbed a pillow and is smelling it. “How do you get them to smell this nice?”

“They don’t smell nice.” Tetsuro grabs the pillow and takes a whiff, there’s a faint hint of soap, but that’s it. “They don’t smell at all.”

“Uh-huh.” Bokuto huffs, clearly incredulous. “You just don’t wanna tell me.”

Turning his head to meet the other’s copper-colored eye Tetsuro furrows his brow. “Why would I not want to tell you, I don’t have a secret or anything, I just wash them every two weeks like a normal person.”

Bokuto, however, doesn’t seem to have heard past the first part of that sentence. “Oh, so there’s a secret now?” He accuses, voice high-pitched.

Sighing, Tetsuro props himself u on his elbow and fixes Bokuto’s one visible eye with the most serious stage he can manage as he’s repressing a giggle. “Bo, no.”

“You secret hoarder.” The other says, bottom lip jutting out, un-bruised eye growing wider.

 Tetsuro giggles, and it develops into a deep belly laugh, god, he misses these moments so much lately. “They smell like pillows, for fucks sake Bo!”

“Nope, they smell like your hair when it’s clean… No, a bit more citrusy…. they just smell nice, Kuroo, ok?” If that’s what he thinks… Tetsuro really doesn't smell anything other than, well, pillows, but then again, they are his pillows, maybe he’s used to the smell. “Even Akaashi said so.” Bokuto sounds a bit annoyed at that, they haven’t talked much about the incident last month since that day. 

He didn’t see Bokuto for two weeks after, the Owl claimed he was busy making up for practice. Tetsuro decided not to press. After all, when that period ended Bokuto was back to his usual bubbly self, spamming the group chat and inviting him to acro yoga of all things.

It is fun though -how did Bokuto know about it? This is Tetsuro’s campus- and more challenging he thought it’d be, how are these people so flexible?

Still, it seems Bokuto is ready to talk about the whole thing. “Akaashi commented on the scent of my pillows?” Tetsuro decides to play dumb, see where it takes him. “When has he even smelled them?”

Bokuto raises his eyebrow at him and winces, bruised face, right. “Uh last month when I- we lost him at that party?”

A peal of laughter escapes Tetsuro, but something in him softens as he remembers poor Akaashi who couldn't keep himself sitting straight. “Sure, we can trust his extremely inebriated judgment.”

“You know what they say about drunk words.” Bokuto remarks.

“Bo, think back to the last time you were drunk around me.” A couple of weeks before the incident they went to a fraternity party, needless to say, Bokuto cannot fly and he couldn’t do that one weird backflip either. “You’re finally back to talking normally with Akaashi then?”

“Uh, no, not really.” He says, and Tetsuro waits for him to continue. “We were talking little lately. And now I feel like he doesn’t want to text me much, he’s always online though, I think-”

Funny, Tetsuro has noticed the exact same pattern in someone else he knows. “What Bo?” He says, pushing softly at the other’s shoulder.

The other man hesitates. “No, it’s just- Bro, do you think Akaashi likes Tsukishima?” and there it is, Bokuto’s lip is pushed out even further, the uninjured side of his face smushed into the duvet. “He asked for Tsukishima that night, and they talk a lot.”

Tetsuro has a bit more information on that, for a second he feels insanely guilty for not telling Bokuto. But it would also be unfair to go around airing other people's dirty laundry, not to mention that there might be a fallout of some sort between everyone involved.

Maybe Tetsuro was better off not knowing in the first place, both for his own sake and everyone else's, all this knowledge has done for him has been give Tetsuro either increasingly uncomfortable dreams or whole lot of material for overthinking. “I’m-“ Still, with the way Bokuto looks, he’s not going to lie. “Not sure, I guess they seem closer.” He lets his gaze drift towards the ceiling. “How do you know they text a lot? I mean, Akaashi's barely active in the group chat.”

“Akaashi's told me.” Bokuto blows up his cheeks, in a way that makes Tetsuro want to pinch them, eye still averted. “Sometimes when we talk he’s all like ‘Tsukki- this’ or ‘Tsukki said’ and stuff like that, it started before the training camp too.”

“Bo… what if they’re just friends? Like we do things like that, don’t we?” his hand comes up to brush some strands of hair that have escaped Bokuto’s usual hairdo. “Those two get each other, doesn’t mean they’re in love.”

But it also doesn’t mean that they aren’t, that they don’t at least like each other. There’s an attraction there, that much is a given, who’s to say there aren’t feelings. Akaashi has been in love with Bokuto for almost three years now, but h might well be moving on.

And Tsukishima… Well, despite what went down in that one bathroom, he doesn’t seem like he has any previous attachments.

Leaning into his touch, Bokuto sighs. “I don’t know man, something's up with Akaashi,” he says. “Like it wouldn’t be weird, they fit together! I don't think Akaashi fits with me like that.” Eyes downcast, he adds. "You talk to Tsukishima, don't you? Have you noticed anything?”

“We don’t…” Tetsuro tries to find a decent way to explain it. “… really talk that much, I guess, I send him memes, sometimes tell him stuff, but he’s closed off and any time I bring up that party-“ He brings the heels of his hands together and slams them shut, interlacing his fingers. “-like a little clam.”

“That’s rough buddy,” Koutarou says, shoving a pillow under his own back and stretching over it like a cat, the muscles of his shoulders and neck making a show of themselves. “Maybe he’s embarrassed?” The owl offers. “You know how he is.”

“I know, but either way, I’m not going to push him.” Tetsuro sighs, head dropping to the bed, hair obscuring his vision even more than usual. “If anything it’s clear he doesn’t want anything like that from me. Whatever his reasons are.”

“Hey.” And then there’s a hand pushing back his bangs and Bokuto’s full face comes into view in all of it’s bruised glory, The Owl’s eyes are narrowed. “I don’t think he’d just hook up with anyone in a bathroom.”

Oh, if Bokuto only knew… “Maybe he just thinks I’m hot.” Tetsuro says, heaving an even larger sigh. “It doesn’t have to be that deep Bo.”

Bokuto stares at him for a second, and then he’s shifted to his side, face like ten centimetres from Tetsuro’s. Hand pinching his cheek. “First, everyone thinks you’re hot, second, Tsukishima won’t even share a fork with other people, what makes you think he’s like that?”

“Uh- That he kissed the soul out of me in a bathroom a month ago and now acts like it never happened?” He blows up his cheeks, but Bokuto holds firm. “Forget it Bo" Tetsuro averts his eyes and presses his head harder into the duvet. "You should confess to Akaashi, for what it’s worth.”

“Nah.” Bokuto averts his eyes. “I don’t want to interfere.”

Stubbornness has always been one of Bokuto’s strong suits, after all, "So then..."

"I'm just gonna focus on the team." The owl says, taking a deep breath. "I'm not gonna stop talking to him or anything, just..."

"Let things take their course." Tetsuro cant help the little smile he gives the other. Yes, Bokuto can be a real child, but he's also a sweetheart, deep down. "My, how mature!"

Bokuto chuckles, eyes narrowing playfully. "Like you're one to talk."

"Hey! I'm very mature, you're the one always dragging me into all the hullabaloo"

This draws a deep, long stretch of laughter from both of them, it's a while before Bokuto can actually speak again. "You love it."

Tetsuro smiles, warm and relaxed all over. "My life wouldn't be the same without it."

After that, a warm, comfortable silence stretches between them, and as a couple of second’s pass, Tetsuro notices that Bokuto’s hand is still on his cheek, only now it’s just laying there, a warm weight, he almost wants to lean into it.

There’s a decent amount of sun outside, it’s summer after all. And it glints off of Bokuto’s shiny coin-like eyes, makes his tanned skin look golden. The purple of the bruise almost looks good on his skin, a stretch of galaxy around a living, shining yellow star.

It's probably not the right moment to remember that Bokuto was his first kiss with a guy, he was also Tetsuro’s first real crush. Akaashi was not in the picture back then though, but he still doubts he was ever Bokuto’s.

And the owl never really knew, everything was done as friends, explicitly stated.

God, he really was an hypocrite to Tsukki.

The man’s low voice snaps Tetsuro from his thoughts. “Bro, you remember?” There’s a sweet, fond tilt to it, and for once, Bokuto’s talking at a normal speaking volume.

“Remember what Bo?” Tetsuro almost whispers, but he knows just what Bokuto’s going to say, the other’s pupils are blown wide, in intense look, much like the one he gets when he's about to spike, predates his features.

Bokuto clears his throat, looks away for a second. “Back in first year, we-“ That hand on Tetsuro’s cheek cups his face, thumb rubbing little circles in his cheek, at the corner of his mouth. "We used to fool around a lot."

He takes a deep breath, despite the way he usually acts Bokuto is not the kind to rush into a situation like this, after the handful of times they hooked up in first and second year of high school, nothing has happened between the two, even being very close to each other. “Oh Bo, you don’t have to, I’ll get over this. It's just a crush on a snarky blond menace.” But then again, he is a good friend, and one that knows that Tetsuro craves physical attention like Hinata does volleyball.

“But I want to.” The other man says, eyes now locked on Tetsuro’s, a soft pink flush dancing on his cheeks “And it’s not to comfort you.”

“Then why?” Tetsuro asks, perplexed.

For a second, Bokuto seems taken aback, then he just chuckles. “Because.” He says, face breaking out in a grin that's almost blinding. “We’re just spoiling each other, right? Also, you look amazing in this light.”

Just spoiling each other, That phrase brings back memories. So many of Tetsuro’s firsts happened shortly after Koutarou uttering it.

Tetsuro takes a deep breath, his mouth is dry and his cheeks are flushed. He can hear his heart beating in his ears. “Right.”

Then the warmth on the side of his face is gone, the hand is retreating. “Unless you don’t-“

Tetsuro doesn’t panic, he knows he could just stay quiet, let Bokuto get his bearings and then they would go on just as they always have, it would be alright. But this… well, he feels a hole open up in his stomach, and the fondness for Bokuto that's always there pulses in his chest. This is something he wants.

One of his hands rises to cover Bokuto’s retreating one and lay it right back where it was. “No, I do.”

Bokuto grins wider and he moves in swiftly. His lips find Tetsuro’s with ease, molding into them, soft and a bit salty from the workout. The kiss is languid, slow, they have the rest of the morning before any immediate obligations call them away after all.

Tetsuro’s free arm wraps around his friend’s middle to pull their torso’s closer together, legs tangling almost automatically. When they break away his hand comes up to trace the bruise on Bokuto’s face, he leans in to place soft, barely-there kisses on it, and the ace’s nose. “That tickles.” The other says, giggling, then blows a mouthful of hot air onto Tetsuro’s neck and he can’t help but shiver.

“That tickles too.” He protests, and then there’s a tongue tracing a long line down his neck, drawing a laugh from him. “Bo!”

“I can't believe you’re still ticklish.” He says, propping himself up on his elbows and using the added height to tower over Tetsuro with a smug smirk on his face.

Glaring at the other playfully, Tetsuro shifts so he’s lying a bit more directly under the Bokuto, noting the way the sunlight falls over the planes of Bokuto's face and muscles above him. “I haven’t switched necks, you know?” He says, hand brushing over Bokuto’s chest, sneakily shifting over to his side. And tickling right where he knows Bokuto is weak. The man tries to hold it in, until a chortle escapes and he almost loses his balance and falls right on top of Tetsuro. “You haven’t changed ribs either.” He says, smirking like a fool

“You little shit,” Bokuto says, breathless, leaning down to capture Tetsuro’s lips for a second before making his way down, his free hand already having snaked under Tetsuro's top.

Instead of continuing the tickling -because this totally could devolve into a tickle fight, it has happened before- that large, calloused hand wraps around Tetsuro’s ribcage, thumb teasing at his left nipple. He can’t help but groan, and Bokuto’s grin only gets wider.

Tetsuro finishes taking off his shirt and immediately reaches for the hem of Bokuto’s, pulling the soft fabric off the other’s body in one movement. He takes a second to admire the greek statue that’s his friend, only to find himself under an onslaught of little kiss-bites down his torso.

Someone’s eager.

Bokuto’s eyes are trained on his face, sucking a little bruise just below the place where his sternum ends. His fingers are hooked tentatively t the elastic of Tetsuro’s shorts. He’s asking for permission.

And he can’t help but be a little cheesy here. “Fuck, you're a dream.”

Bokuto just laughs. “I hope so Tetsu.” One of Tetsuro’s hands has come to caress his cheek, he leans into the touch, and when that hand wanders into his hair, messing up what was left of his usual hairdo, the Owl doesn’t hesitate.

Tetsuro's shorts are shoved down along with his boxers, the room’s air, despite being warm makes goosebumps rise on his newly exposed skin.

For a second, Bokuto just stares, Tetsuro has half a mind to bury his head in the pillows to hide his blush and cover himself. “Whoa, you’re still big.”

His cheeks burn. “Well, what did you expect?"

“I dunno” Bokuto canes his head to the side and brings a hand to wrap around the base of Tetsuro’s cock. “That my memory was exaggerating.” He says, pumping his hand up and down, grinning as Tetsuro moans. “I was little and innocent back then, you know?” He says, eyes growing devilish.

“So was I! Why are you making it sound like I-ah” The sentence gets cut off when Koutarou leans down and gives the head a long, swirling lick, then sucks on it softly. “You sure aren’t now.” Tetsuro huffs, half laugh, half moan.

His fingers burrow deeper into Koutarou's hair, and as if on cue, the former ace dips his head taking most of his cock into that warm, wet mouth.

This wasn’t how Tetsuro expected the morning to go, -that was more like a shower and falling asleep, waking up with Bokuto's hair in his mouth-, but it’s heaven compared to the alternative.

Koutarou sets his own pace, a bit brutal, Tetsuro thinks, but he’s not complaining, in fact, every time he tries to voice anything he finds Bokuto sucking a bit harder or doing something nice with his tongue and replacing Tetsuro's words with a moan.

The little bastard, he's enjoying that.

“Fuck Bo, you’re- ah so good” he manages to choke out, and Bokuto’s eyes go half-lidded, he dips further down and swallows even more of Tetsuro, moaning as he comes up for air, a little choked up, face red. "So good,” Tetsuro mutters, affection coating his tone even as his hand tangles on the other’s hair and pushes him back down.

He'd like to say he set the pace after that, but truthfully, it’s Bokuto that goes a little faster, that makes him feel better and better every time he moves until -arching and moaning in such a way that it’s surprising that he doesn’t pull a muscle- Tetsuro comes, spraying over Bokuto's chin and his own stomach.

There’s a huge, self-satisfied grin in Bokuto’s face, his lips are all red and wet and his eyes are half-lidded, needy.

He’s pretty like this, Tetsuro muses as he gently pulls that head back up to kiss him, feeling the way their bodies slide together, sweaty and warm.

Hooking his fingers over the elastic of the other man’s shorts, knee coming up to brush against Bokuto’s hardness, he figures this has gotten a bit more complicated than before.

But this is not the time to think about that.

Tetsuro slides the fabric down Bokuto’s thighs and then grabs the other’s shoulder and flips them over, grinning at the wonderfully aroused expression on Bokuto’s face.

“My turn.” He smirks.

.

.

FROM: ‘KAASHI KEIJI – 20:49

Hello

How is your face Bokuto-san?

FROM: ME – 20:57

‘kaashi!

See for yourself

**image attached**

FROM: ‘KAASHI KEIJI – 21:05

That is very swollen. Have you put ice on it?

Does it hurt a lot?

FROM: ME – 21:06

Nah, it only really hurt when it happened 

Kuro made me

But I could use one of those hot gel pads too

FROM: ‘KAASHI KEIJI – 21:09

Are you home?

FROM: ME – 21:09

Uh, yeah.

FROM: ‘KAASHI KEIJI – 21:23

Come out, I’m cold.

FROM: ME – 21:23

‘kaashi, it’s summer!

Coming!

21:57

Text me when you get home.

You’re the best friend ever and I love you ‘kaashi.

I’ll treat you to something when we have time.

.

.

Holding the warm, gel pad up to his bruised face and eye, Koutarou stares down the street until not even the blinking light of the back of Akaashi’s bicycle is visible.

Less than twelve hours ago he was saying he was going to clam down and focus on volleyball and himself -since, Akaashi clearly is focused on someone else no matter what Kuroo said, that thought won't leave his head- but then Akaashi had to show up, all pink-cheeked and out of breath at Koutarou’s house at nine pm on a Tuesday.

With warm gel pads and bruise cream.

Part of him wanted to cry and retreat because he’s really getting his hopes up here, part of him wanted to kiss Akaashi.

He ended up crushing him in a hug, like always, not wanting to let go but aware of how annoying it must be for Akaashi to be on the other side of it.

Fuck, love is complicated, a least being in love like this is.

Like he loves Kuroo, he’s not in love with Kuroo per se, but loves him all the same and being around each other is nice, and fun, and Koutarou’s heart doesn’t do that hollow-achy thing that it does when Akaashi looks at him.

Maybe it’s because he knows he has Kuroo.

Oh, it makes his head hurt.

.

.

FROM: ME – 21:46

**image attached**

Look Tsukki!! Now we match.

FROM: TSUKKI – 21:54

If you’re talking about my dinosaur socks no, we do not match.

Also, why are those cats grinning? Did you have them custom made?

Also, I’m killing Akaashi, that was a secret

FROM: ME – 22:00

Aww, you know he’s weak to Bokuto’s puppy eyes, don’t kill him.

And no, they’re not custom made!! 

Is the thought of smiley cats so foreign to you?

FROM: TSUKKI – 22:10

Well, I know you, so it really shouldn’t.

But those are going to haunt my nightmares.

FROM: ME – 22:11

Oh, aren’t you dramatic.

I’m surprised my kitties are scary to someone who sleeps surrounded by dinosaur figurines.

FROM: TSUKKI – 22:12

Your ‘kitties’ have the creepiest grin on their faces!

Also, how the hell do you know that! It was Hinata, wasn’t it!?

FROM: ME – 22:13

LOL

Calm down Tsu-cakes, I guessed.

FROM: TSU-CAKES – 22:14

You’re insufferable and I’m not talking to you anymore.

FROM: ME – 22:14

Sure.

Guess what your new name is on my phone.

**image attached***

Tsukii

.

.

Kei sighs and drops the phone on the bed beside him. Somehow Kuroo seems a bit more annoying and needy today.

He’s been sending random pictures non-stop since like two in the afternoon -many selfies too, though Kei won’t complain about that- and Kei’s not sure if he’s just trying to keep the conversation from dying or the college student is just a bit desperate to get Kei to actually discuss something with him.

He kind of wants to ask -it’s a bit worrying to see Kuroo behaving this way- but he knows Kuroo, and even if it’s not about that the older man will see it as an opening.

And Kei... Kei’s not so sure.

He doesn’t want to have an embarrassing conversation that he doesn’t see a good end to, no matter what the outcome is, all the outcome she can think about are mortifying, or pathetic, or sad or all three of those.

It’s better just to let Kuroo forget it.

Although Kei’s not sure that he can.

.

.

.

.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 20:45

I mean it can’t be too bad. 

You bought the washable stuff, right?

Right?

FROM: ME – 20:47

I- I think I did.

Oh, this is stupid.

I am not doing it.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 20:47

Sure, chicken out.

FROM: ME – 20:49

The nerve of you, Tsukishima Kei.

I know what you’re doing

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 20:49

Can I go to sleep?

You’ve been talking yourself in circles for like an hour.

FROM: ME – 20:50

Has anyone told you that you are annoying?

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 20:51

Has anyone told you that makeup washes off?

It’s not a big deal.

FROM: ME – 20:51

I will end up looking like a clown.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 20:53

Akaashi.

Calm down.

Even Hinata didn’t fuck up that badly.

FROM: ME – 20:53

Hinata tried this stuff?

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 20:55

Just another day at Karasuno.

**image attached**

Yachi even got him hair extensions.

FROM: ME – 20:57

Oh my, that’s.

Are you sure it wasn’t just some girl posing as him?

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 20:58

**image attached**

FROM: ME – 21:00

Ok, I believe you. No one else jumps like that.

Doesn’t mean I won’t look like an alien.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 21:00

Akaashi.

I’m going to sleep and telling Bokuto-san about this.

He gave you the idea with that bruise last week.

He can deal with it.

FROM: ME – 21:04

Don’t you dare.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI – 21:04

I can tell him about the pole dance class too.

.

.

Keiji sighs and sends the video call invitation.

Not that he believes Tsukishima would tell Bokuto-san.

At least about the pole dance class that Akaashi sneakily attended last week. He can’t be sure about what he’s about to do. 

Objectively, though, it’s not a big deal. 

It’s eyeliner and a little tube of mascara.

Still, Keiji can’t help but worry that he’s going to end up looking like a raccoon for a week or having to tear out his eyelashes.

Tsukishima Kei has accepted your video call invitation.

The screen takes a second to buffer, when it does, the image starts out grainy and blurry but over a few seconds, it settles into decent quality. Tsukishima is leaning on his left hand, eyes perched on the tip of his nose, wearing a dark green, v-neck sweater that compliments his shoulders.

He looks bored.

“Quit looking like that, worst case is you’re going to have to ask your mom for some of that remover.” The man says, eyes taking in Keiji’s form.

Keiji shivers, that’s not something he wants to do, his mom would probably just laugh, but it’s embarrassing and she isn’t even here. “I could have to tear out all of my eyelashes.” He says, tone as neutral as he can make it.

Tsukishima throws his head back and laughs, and Keiji just knows he’s red from the base of his neck to his hairline, his heart beating fast at the deep sound. “Only you could look like that saying something so dumb.” He says, once he’s stopped laughing. Then he stops for a second takes a look at Keiji’s flustered expression. “Hey, don’t freak out. You want to try this, don't you?”

“Yes, but, it’s weird, isn’t it?” Keiji says, looking down at his fingers which are pulling at each other.

In the screen, Tsukishima shrugs. “I know like ten people who use it, just from volleyball.” He says, voice even and calm. “That one midget from Kamomedai had eyeliner too.” He offers.

Keiji is used to being the calm, direct, and rational one, it’s nice to be able to grab on to someone else confidence for once, he lifts his eyes. “The twins from Inarizaki don’t have eyebrows that perfect.”

Tsukishima smirks, soft and full of humor. “Never.” He says, smug. 

Keiji is not going to admit it but he feels better, Tsukishima knows anyways.

After the incident with the hickey, and more recently Bokuto’s unfortunate accident where the left side of his face got quite well acquainted with Kuroo’s knee, Keiji has been curious about makeup.

The fact that some girls from the cosmetology course got Bokuto looking almost normal the next day didn’t help. Although afterward, Bokuto did claim that it took the better part of two hours.

So today, while shopping for a new binder he did something a bit crazy. The kohl pencil and tube of mascara sitting pretty on his desk are proof of it.

“You tell me if it looks weird.” He says, not meeting Tsukishima’s eyes. 

“Sure”

He has watched a few tutorials already, so Keiji repositions the little mirror he found in his parent’s room and gets to work. It’s not actually hard, his hands are pretty steady. 

Before he knows it, his right eye is done, he turns to Tsukishima. 

Who is watching, wide-eyed. “Is it bad?” Keiji doesn’t really think it is, his eye looks a bit wider, surrounded by all that black, the line of his lower lid is a bit smudged, but that’s it.

“N-no.” Tsukishima stumbles over his words. “Your eye looks more blue.” He adds. “Do the other side?”

Keiji would be lying if he sad he doesn’t like the flustered expression in Tsukishima’s face. 

Smiling, he leans over the mirror again. It’s harder to do his left eye, he ends up with a slightly thicker line than he intended. Still, it doesn’t look too bad for the first time.

In fact, Keiji feels a bit naughty like this.

The way Tsukishima is looking at him when he sits back again and lets the camera capture all of his face only cements that. Keiji lets his made-up eyes drift to meet Tsukishima’s on the screen. “So?”

Tsukishima clears his throat, eyes averting from the screen “You look punk.” He says, voice a bit shaky. “I think the eyeliner is a bit thick. But it looks good on you.”

Keiji’s eyes fall on the mirror again, trying not to make it too obvious he turns a little to each side. “I like it.” He says.

And Tsukishima has the decency not to say 'I told you so'. He just laughs and asks whether Keiji’s going to start doing makeup tutorials soon.

Akaashi Keiji may be falling in love a little.

With a second person.

.

.

 

BOKUTO KOUTAROU has changed the group name from THE VB BAES to TSUKKI WE’RE COMING

@ TSUKKI WE’RE COMING

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 16:38

Wait, I have a match that weekend.

Noooooo.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 16:40

So September? 

It can be a joint birthday thing too.

Tsukki’s b-day is on the twenty-ninth

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 16:41

Broooo.

How did I not know this!?

We’re born like seven days apart Tsukiiiii!

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI- 16:43

Isn’t that like a month after the actual Inter-high?

Just saying.

Although I can’t do the last weekend of August either.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 16:45

That’s why!

There’s a long weekend between their birthdays.

I just checked.

We can go to the cat island! Or the castle!

FROM: ME-16:47

I fell asleep on the bus.

Why are there 83+ messages here?

16:59

Was no one going to ask me?

Akaashi, you’re not on board with this too, right?

You’re going to dissuade them-

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 16:48

Hoot, hoot.

You didn’t answer.

We all figured it was as good as a yes.

I mean with you Tsukki.

It's hard to tell.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI- 17:00

I can do that long weekend

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 17:02

We’ll meet you at the train station Tsukki.

FROM: ME-17:03

I’m not getting a say on this, am I?

17:10

It’s called Tashirojima.

The cat island, I mean.

.

.

Chapter Text

Some people might say that Akaashi Keiji has been doing increasingly crazy things as of late, there's the hint of mascara that he’s begun wearing to school, very well received by most of his female classmates. There’s also the weekly pole dance class that he's signed up for, which only Tsukishima Kei actually knows about.

But, he thinks, he kind of has a right to a little bit of slack.

Because he’s come into the realization that he might be in love with more than one person. Romantically. At the same time.

And maybe that is the craziest thing of them all.

FROM: ME-14:32

What are you doing right now?

To be sincere, his traitorous brain may have had this whole thing in the back burner. But Keiji also did try to resist.

He didn’t tell Tsukishima about the practice match that Fukurodani had with Shiratorizawa, he made no allusion to being relatively close to the blond's house on this fine Saturday afternoon.

Seriously, who keeps saying yes to these practice matches away from Tokyo?

Keiji almost made it without telling Tsukishima, but as the team caught a late lunch in a nearby food court, well… his fingers started to itch suspiciously.

Now he waits with bated breath, torn between deleting the text and desperately wanting Tsukishima to respond before he has to get back on the bus.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -14:37

Nothing? 

I guess I was reading.

Why do you ask?.

 Well, that’s it, maybe the gods want Keiji to do this. 

He wants to.

It should help him figure out the tangle of feelings he’s harboring for the blond. At first, he thought it was stress about the inter-high messing with his head, now the inter-high is two weeks in his past and well… 

The weird tangle is still there. And it better be gone two weeks from now when he comes up here with Kuroo and Bokuto. All being confused over his own feelings has afforded Keiji so far has been a hangover and a night he simultaneously doesn’t quite remember and really, really wants to forget.

FROM: ME-14:39

I had a practice game at Shiratorizawa.

I thought we could hang out?

No pressure though, I don’t know how close this is to your house.

***location***

It’s not close at all, is it?

He waits, phone in hand as Tsukishima types, the three little dots blinking up at Keiji. It takes the other a while for the message he sends, Kei wonders if he was put out by him showing up out of the blue.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI-14:44

Oh wow.

Sort of? you’ll be here in fifteen in the 541 bus.

***location***

It’s alright if you just want to go home.

Ten minutes isn’t far at all, Keiji looks around, spotting his coach, he approaches with his best ‘I am a third year, a responsible person who can be trusted to get back to Tokyo without getting lost unlike Bokuto-san that one time.’ Impression. Chest out, back straight.

“Coach.” He clears his throat. “Would it be alright for me to stay behind? A friend lives nearby and I wanted to pay him a visit.”

Takeyuki looks him up and down, Keiji tries not to squirm. “Is your mom ok with it?”

“Yes sir,” Keiji says, his mom would be alright with it, she’s taking pictures of god knows what at the top f a mountain with no cell reception though, so he can't really ask for updated permission.

The older man smiles at him and clamps a hand over Keiji’s shoulder. “Sure, just take care and message the group chat when you get home. I can trust you not to end up in Aomori, right?”

Keiji smiles and thanks him, then gathers his stuff and is on his way to the bus stop, guided by Tsukishima’s instructions on his phone. He double-checks the number and direction of the bus as he gets on and settles into one of the seats at the front. The bus glides swiftly through the slightly rural scenery, he knows Karasuno is not directly in Sendai, so it makes sense Tsukishima would live on the outskirts.

Hinata did once tell them that he crosses a mountain in his bike to get to and from school. It all seems a bit excessive for Keiji’s city self, but maybe the years of such a thing have contributed to the way Hinata's legs defy physics, so who is he to judge?

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI-15:10

Get off at the next stop, there’s a huge tree.

There is indeed a huge tree, thick with gnarled roots and drooping branches, Tsukishima is waiting in its shade. It’s not so hot anymore in Tokyo, but down here it seems summer is barely starting to leave. He is wearing a loose white V-neck tee and some light blue sweatpants.

Keiji is a bit glad, if only because he's in his Fukurodani gear.

Still, Tsukishima looks like a painting with the soft summer sun filtering through the leaves and falling on his face.

Bokuto should draw him, someday.

Tsukishima steps out of the shadows, awkwardly waving at Keiji, as if he doesn’t have his attention already. Keeping an eye out for other cars, Keiji crosses the street. “Hey.” His eyes meet Tsukishima’s. “Sorry I called you out like this, I hope I’m not imposing.”

A small smile stretches over the blond’s mouth. “I was surprised, you would’ve usually told me first.” He says thoughtfully. “But I wasn’t doing anything important.”

“Oh, I’m glad then.” Keiji looks around them, they are in a suburban area, with small houses and decently sized yards, there’s so many green that he’s a bit taken aback. “It must be nice to live somewhere with so much space.”

“It’s quiet,” Tsukishima says. “It was great when we were kids, I used to go bug catching with Tadashi.”

Keiji chuckles, trying to imagine a smaller Tsukishima all dirty with a butterfly net. “Are there pictures?”

“Yep.” Tsukishima narrows his eyes. “But I have no clue where, Akiteru must have them hidden somewhere.”

“Why hidden?”

The other’s expression turns sour. “There are a few I don’t want anyone seeing. Come on, let's go to my house, it's hot out here."

It’s hard to suppress the laugh that fills his chest, Keiji tries to swallow it back as he follows the blond through the streets, taking in the fresh air. Finally, they arrive at a two-story house, not unlike the others. Tsukishima slips in, leaving his shoes at the door.

“Nii-san I’m home.” He calls. “A friend came over.” Then he turns to Keiji. “My parents are away on an anniversary trip, so it’s just us and Akiteru.” As he speaks, however, there’s a racket upstairs and then the distinct sound of footsteps hurrying down, a man comes into view, he has the same blond hair and golden eyes as Tsukishima.

The man stops in his tracks. “Oh, I thought it was one of your teammates.” He looks a bit nonplussed. “Nice to meet you, I’m Akiteru, Kei’s older brother. You’re from the school that got to finals at Nationals last year aren’t you?”

“Fukurodani, yes,” Keiji responds, taking the other’s outstretched hand. “I’m Akaashi Keiji.”

“You’re an amazing setter Akaashi-kun.” He turns to his brother. “I’ve got to run, Saeko needs help with some stuff. Are you going to be ok by yourselves?”

“Sure,” Tsukishima smirks, eyes narrowing. “Should I tell mom you’re going over to Tanaka’s?”

Akiteru matches him with a glare that can only belong to a Tsukishima. “Kei.” Then Tsukishima laughs and his brother rolls his eyes. “You boys behave, I got ice cream, it’s in the fridge.” That said, he slips into a pair of shoes and pretty much bolts out.

To Keiji’s amusement, Tsukishima is giggling when he turns around -it’s a bit of a super-villain giggle, but still- it’s almost cute. “Saeko is Tanaka’s sister.” The blond explains. “Akiteru doesn’t want our parents to know they’re dating yet.”

“Why?” Keiji asks. Akiteru doesn’t seem so young. “He’s what? Four years older than you?”

“Five.” Tsukishima smirks. “But that's exactly why, our cousin just had a baby last year. If my mom finds out Akiteru is dating someone she might start planning a wedding.”

“Really?” Keiji’s eyebrows rise.

“I wouldn’t put it past her.” Tsukishima shrugs. “He’s whipped though.”

Thinking back to the expression that took over the older Tsukishima’s features when he mentioned the woman’s name, Keiji can’t help but agree. “I can tell.”

They retrieve the promised ice cream and move upstairs to Tsukishima’s room. It’s neat, with a narrow western-style bed placed against the far wall, a desk and a bookcase that’s filled equally with dinosaur figurines and books. Keiji has seen it in video calls before, but seeing it up close it suits the blond.

They end up sitting

on the bed, watching some show on Tsukishima’s laptop, eating ice cream out of the carton. Keiji is all too aware of the way their shoulders are pressed together

An episode ends and he turns to look at Tsukishima, feeling his gaze on him. The blond’s eyes are narrowed, his eyebrows pinched. There’s a second when Keiji thinks he’s going to kiss him but he reaches for his phone instead. 

“Wanna rile Kuroo and Bokuto up?”

.

.

@THE BIRDS AND THE CAT

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI- 18:48

**image attached**

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 18:48

YOU GUYSSSS

Why didn’t you tell us?

Akaashi you said you couldn’t do this weekend!

Im betrayed.

FROM: ME- 18:50

I didn’t know the practice match was against Shiratorizawa.

You and Kuroo-san had things to do too.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO- 18:51

STILL!!

BETRAYAL!

You two owe us ice cream.

And a picture. Why do we never take pictures?

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI- 18:52

Because you two can’t stay still for long enough.

We can negotiate the ice cream.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO-

18:53

But Tsukkiiiiii!

.

.

The photo isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Keiji is leaning on Tsukishima’s shoulder, a spoon in his mouth, and the blond is just sitting there, shirt askew, showing off his collarbone and smirking like he just knows he looks like something out of one of those dramas that Keiji's mom watches. The carton of ice cream sits innocently between them.

He still saves it. 

Turning his eyes away from his phone to set on Tsukishima’s face. In the low, amber light of late afternoon, he looks all golden, smirking down at the phone like a little kid, without much malice to the act. His hair, longer than last time, has begun to form actual waves.

It would be so good to reach out and grab them. If only Keiji was a bit more sure of where they stand.

He knows Tsukishima and Kuroo kissed at that party, but the blond seems to be ignoring that fact. 

Maybe everything that happened at the training camp should stay there.

That’s when Tsukishima turns to look at Keiji, eyes growing soft when they meet his. 

Akaashi Keiji does a lot of crazy things lately, but kissing Tsukishima Kei doesn’t feel crazy. It’s soft and slow, tastes like strawberry ice cream, and when his hands tangle in the other’s hair they confirm that it’s just as soft as it looks.

It feels right.

Tsukishima sighs into the kiss, when they break apart he stares ar Keiji, eyes earnest. “I thought you didn't want to-“ but Keiji’s intoxicated, he steals a peck from the other’s lips.

“I want to.” He says. “I didn’t think you did.” He murmurs, mouth still at the corner of Tsukishima’s mouth.

Tsukishima chuckles. “Why?”

“Kuroo-san.” Keiji says, taking a deep breath.

The blond’s face grows pale, and his whole body stiffen. “How do you know?”

“I was drunk, but Kuroo-san is transparent.” Keiji lets his hand, still in Tsukishima’s hair, start massaging circles into Tsukishima’s scalp. “So are you.”

Despite his obvious discomfort, Tsukishima leans into the touch. “I don’t know what to do about it.”The blond sighs. “I mean, he did say he didn’t have to worry about developing feelings with me.” 

Keiji tries not to make his surprise so obvious, but it’s hard, not only does Kuroo not seem like that kind of person, but the way he looks at Tsukishima is not the way someone just looking for a hook up looks at someone else. “Did he?”

“Verbatim.” Tsukishima says, eyes averted. “I should be glad I guess, I acted very-“ he trails off.

“S-improperly?” Keiji offers, the blond nods. “I don’t think so.” He says calmly. “Unless you made out with someone else and you’re not telling me about it.”

This earns him a chuckle and a half-hearted shove. “No.” Tsukishima glares, but then his face softens. “But I don’t want to think about it.”

“They’re coming up in two weeks.” Keiji reminds him and it almost sounds like a warning.

“I know, I’ll figure it out then.” Tsukishima almost looks miserable for a second, he probably has been mulling over this a lot more than Keiji assumed before.

Thoughtlessly, he slides his hand from TsukishIma’s hair to pull off his glasses, and then trail over his cheekbones, his pretty, upturned nose, the ridges of his eyebrows. The surprising thing is that the other man leans into it, the tension leaves his body bit by bit and he lets go of a soft, resigned breath.

Finally, Keiji’s thumb comes to rest over Kei’s soft lips, the blond opens his eyes, gaze meeting Keiji’s own, his tongue flicks out to lick slowly at the thumb pressed against his mouth, and he smirks at the furious blush that this draws from Keiji.

A second later they are kissing again, Tsukishima is on Keiji like a switch has been flicked inside him. His lips turn insistent, he maneuvers Keiji onto his back with ease -and somehow neither of them knocks the laptop to the floor-.

He’s beautiful like this, Keiji muses, as his hands trace the blond's arms up and down, feeling the lean muscles tense as he brushes over them.

To think none of this would be happening if Tsukishima didn’t have that recurrent cramp. But then there’s a side of Keiji that knows it might have still happened.

Gods, he’s in love with Tsukishima, he’s also in love with his best friend.

The feeling of the blond biting softly at his neck pulls him from the torrent of his thoughts. Keiji whimpers.

He’s beyond aroused, and Tsukishima can probably feel it. Not that the other isn’t in a similar position. Keiji can feel how hard Tsukishima is at the place against Keiji’s belly.

They did do more than just kissing at training camp.

The next time Tsukishima breaks away for air Keiji swiftly maneuvers his legs from under the blond -he’s a bit more flexible than before, shut up- and wraps them around the other’s middle, effectively causing Tsukishima to lose his balance and fall right on top of him.

Feeling a little wild and not deterred by it at all, Keiji turns to mouth at the other’s jaw and ear, pleased with the shivers that go down Tsukishima’s body when he sucks the lobe into his mouth. “Ak-“ he chokes up a bit when Keiji bucks his hips up, feeling needy for some friction.

“What was that-“ He pauses to consider, but the urge is too great. Keiji feels a bit drunk. “Kei.” He blows the other’s name right against the side of his neck and Tsukishima stiffens.

Slowly, he lifts his head, expression indecipherable. “Keiji.” The blond smirks, and though he was the one that set this off, Keiji can’t help but blush. The way Tsukihima’s tongue curls around his name goes into the box with Bokuto’s top and all the other things that really should not be legal.

Tsukishima leans down for a kiss and Keiji meets him halfway, legs tightening on the other’s hips,  bucking up in an almost desperate way. Understanding, Tsukishima’s hand trails down to tug at both his own and Keiji’s pants and underwear, just enough to free both of their erections from the confines of the garments.

Keiji blindly wraps a hand around them both, not daring to break the kiss, as it turns more frantic and breathless, he pumps his hand in time with their thrusts, moaning unabashedly now int Keis mouth, swallowing the blond’s sounds.

Tsukishima’s movements start getting erratic a little later, he breaks the kiss and Keiji revels in the blond’s hazy eyes and half-open, reddened mouth. He comes with a choked off moan collapsing on top of Keiji just as the setter moans in time with his orgasm.

At some point the room has gone dark, Keiji muses, trying to control his rapid breathing. Tsukishima smells like sweat and fresh laundry over him.

Distantly, he registers a door slamming shut. “Kei, I’m home. I brought some chicken wings. Is Akaashi-kun still here?”

Both stiffen at the sound of Akiteru’s voice. Tsukishima stands retrieving his glasses from the bedside table. “The bathroom is the first door down the hall.” And Keiji doesn’t have to be told twice.

He cleans up the mess on his stomach as well as he can. His hair is a lost cause though.

Keiji emerges to the smell of chicken and chatter downstairs. He makes his way down to see Tsukishima and his brother sitting on the kitchen table, a third spot is made up. “Oh, Akaashi-kun, come have some wings.” Akiteru says, and Keiji hopes to god he’s not blushing too hard. “You must’ve been very tired from your game to fall asleep like that.” The man says, a knowing glint in his eyes.

Scratch that, he’s blushing.

“It was Shiratorizawa Nii-san.” Tsukishima replies curtly. If it weren’t fr the matching blush on his face, it would sound perfectly normal.

“Yeah, you slept until midday after you guys played them last year.” Akiteru says, still smiling brightly.

The rest of the meal passes quietly, with Akiteru making small talk, asking Keiji about his hobbies -he does not mention the pole dancing- his parents, his plans for college -Tokyo, literature-.

When the wings are gone the older man rises and stretches. Keiji takes his queue and rises too. “It’s late, I should get going or I’m going to miss the last train.”

“We can give you a lift to the station.” Akiteru says, hand ruffling Tsukishima’s hair. “I don’t get to go driving around with  my little brother enough lately.”

“Actually, Nii-san.” When Kei’s eyes meet Keiji’s they are piercing. “Akaashi, do-“ He pauses for a second, then seems to shake his head slightly. “Never mind, I’ll grab our things from upstairs.”

And he proceeds to do just that, red-cheeked and jittery.

The drive to the station is quiet, everyone is sleepy form the hour and the food.

Keiji can’t help but keep thinking though, that Tsukishima almost asked him to spend the night.

And he would have said yes.

.

.

Something is poking at Tetsuro’s side, right where it makes him the most ticklish, it's insistent and annoying. 

Groaning, he burrows his face into the heat that he has been leaning into for this whole trip and bats at the offending object. 

“C’mon- Bro, people are getting off.” Bokuto’s voice sounds distant, in his sleepy haze Tetsuro wonders who he’s talking to. 

“I have a water bottle; we could drip some down on him.” Now it’s Akaashi’s voice, sounding amused.

The insistent, annoying, pokey thing is back now, with a vengeance, Tetsuro bats it away. “Bro, I’m not gonna carry you.” A second of silence and then he’s ripped from the warm and being shaken. “Wake up Kuroo!” 

His eyes open to find a red-faced, annoyed owl and a glowing Akaashi -what teenager owns a hat like that anyways?- in front of them. The warmth he was leaning into must have been Bokuto’s shoulder, Tetsuro isn’t sure just when he fell asleep but it is likely that it happened even before they got out of Tokyo.

Well, that is what he gets for pulling an all-nighter to finish that chemistry paper.

It was, after all, easier to just stay awake through the night and finish it rather than get up early. Besides, like this, he can have fun without worrying about a half-finished essay, even though he still has a week to turn it in.

“Are you sure you're alright Kuroo-san?” Akaashi asks. “I know you said that one all-nighter is not a big deal, but you seem exhausted.”

Tetsuro blinks slowly, trying to focus his bleary eyes on the other man. He still is groggy, and the trip up here is not that long to have made up for the night of sleep he missed. “Yup, just fine.” He says, looking around, trying to seem cheerful, but really, he's pretty sure he only manages to look like a frazzled cat. “We’re already at Sendai?”

“For like ages bro, we’ve been trying to wake you up for fifteen whole minutes.” Bokuto says, pointing at a wet patch on his grey t-shirt. “You were out so hard that you drooled on my shirt.”

“W-well lets go.” Tetsuro stands, grabbing his overnight bag, his ears burn and he is still a bit off balance. “Tsukki must be waiting for us.”

“Don’t worry Kuroo-san, I sent him a photo, he knows we’re running late,” Akaashi says, holding up his phone for Tetsuro to see the photo, where he’s all but spooning Bokuto -no doubt leeching heat from the human furnace that he is- and very clearly drooling on his shirt.

The worst is that Akaashi and Bokuto look great in the photo. 

Tetsuro narrows his eyes at the setter, deceptively evil creature that he is. “Oh make up your minds.” He growls, irritated, he's too tired for this. “Are we getting off or not?”

At the outburst, Akaashi gives him a once over and walks right past him. Bokuto swings one of his arms around Tetsuro’s shoulders, probably very aware of his current terrible mood and says. “C’mon man. You can sleep on the train to Ishinomaki” the man smiles brightly, it takes over his whole face. “And the ferry too!”

To get to Tashirojima early in the afternoon, they had to take the 6 am Shinkansen to Sendai. Now they have to take another train to get to Ishinomaki and then the ferry from there.

Bokuto better be prepared to carry him at least for a little while.

They meander through the Sendai station, trying to find the normal trains. Tetsuro, who usually be leading the pack, can’t shake off his headache or his bad mood. In retrospect, that all-nighter wasn’t such a good idea. At some point, Akaashi gives in and asks one of the station workers for directions.

They find Tsukishima lounging on the train platform, leaning back into a pillar, wearing green shorts and a long-sleeved shirt made of some coarse, gauzy-looking material that falls gracefully over his lean form.

Tetsuro gulps, mouth suddenly very dry.

And in his hand, he holds a tray with four paper cups of what definitely smells like the coffee that Tetsuro currently so desperately needs. “Tsukiii!” He cries, lunging for the blond and throwing his arms around him, making Tsukishima stumble. Luckily Akaashi steps in to save the coffee and prevent someone from getting burned.

“Hello, Kuroo-san.” Tsukishima says, stiff as a board. “it’s good to see you too.”

“It’s Kuroo.” Tetsuro looks up at him and grins. “It’s better to see you Tsukki, even more, when you’ve been a dear and brought coffee for your dear, tired sempai.”

Tsukishima shrugs, nose wrinkling like he's just smelt something rotten. “Kei-Akaashi told me you all were half asleep and it seemed rude to just get one or me.” He takes one cup from the tray. “Your tea is on the left Akaashi.”

Tetsuro has to blink, long and slow as he reaches for his own cup. Did Tsukishima just almost call Akaashi by his first name? While Kuroo is back to honorifics? “Thanks anyway Moonshine.” He says, trying to keep from sounding jealous. “I pulled an all-nighter and I am dying. Treasure your easy life right now Tsukki.”

Truthfully, after that one picture incident two weeks ago, something like this was kind of expected. Tetsuro knows Akaashi enough to bet that he would not have stayed behind after a match to meet Hinata or really, anybody else. Nor does he ever look as relaxed as he does in that picture around anyone else -barring Bokuto, of course-.

Bokuto who Tetsuro had-

Right, definitely not the time for that. 

“I’m good at managing my time, thank you very much.” The blond drawls, eyes lingering pointedly on the dark shadows under Tetsuro’s eyes. “And also, Kuroo-san.” That pretty mouth twists into a smirk. “I hope you don’t mind I set a new contact photo for you.”

As their train arrives, Tsukishima lifts his phone to let Tetsuro see that there, right above his name is a cropped up version of the train photo, with his clinging, drooling form center and forward.

.

.

The sea air is moist and it tastes like salt. It brushes over Koutarou’s skin softly as he and the rest disembark the ferry. 

Tashirojima is mostly flat grasslands and clusters of traditional-style buildings peppered through it. The weather is nice, with summer almost ending it’s just warm enough that none of the others are shivering.

Not that Koutarou minds, he runs hot, hardly ever needs to cover up -although Akaashi did make him bring a sweater, just in case- when it's not winter. 

Speaking of Akaashi, he looks way too perfect today. He’s wearing these wide, breezy light blue pants, a white, short-sleeved t-shit that falls to the side baring one of his shoulders and a wide-brimmed hat that Koutarou is very sure is meant for a woman, but he rocks it just the same, maybe even better.

He and Tsukishima look like they could have come out of a painting as they walk together beside him. Maybe if he’s lucky, Koutarou will get a chance to sketch them today or tomorrow, he has his supplies with him for once.

-the amount of times he has sketched Akaashi with pens in fast food joint napkins is well almost in the three-digit count.-

“Oh, there really aren't any restaurants.” Kuroo remarks, now in a better mood after having slept another hour and a half between the second train and the ferry. “I guess it really was better to have lunch back at the port.”

Tsukishima snorts at the sheepish tone. “As much as you were mad that we woke you up.” He says dryly. “I didn’t know we’d brought an old man.”

“Oh Tsukki, you'll understand when you’re actually in college.” Kuroo says.

“And I keep telling you I will not.” Tsukishima sighs and then mutters, almost low enough to escape Koutarou’s hearing. “And here I thought I knew chaotic overachievers after Oikawa…”

“So!” He says barging into the conversation, swinging an arm around each of them. “What are we doing first?”

“Were we not going to the cat shrine?” Akaashi points out. “The weather is nice enough for a walk.”

“Yes, let's do that.” Tsukishima agrees, swiftly ducking under Koutarou’s arm in favor of walking beside Akaashi.

And so they set off. The amount of cats in the village is pretty surprising. Of course, they are the tourist attraction of the island, but as soon as the felines catch a whiff of the snacks Kuroo has brought along, it’s fair to say that they have a little army of meowing creatures following them. 

“Wow” He hears Tsukishima say, low and soft, as he bends to scratch behind the ears of a grey tabby. “They really aren’t scared of humans.”

Koutarou chuckles. “Are cats often scared of you?” He asks, and Tsukishima’s expression sours. 

“They don’t dislike me, but they often run away.” He says, eyes avoiding Koutarou’s. "Doesn't seem like you have that problem Bokuto-san."

“Bokuto-san is an animal magnet,” Akaashi interjects. “There wasn’t a week he didn’t have at least a couple of dogs or stray cats following him to practice.”

The blond’s eyes widen. “Really?”

“Yeah, I got our dog out of it, but they never stopped following me.” He says, scratching lightly at the back of his neck. Tsukishima’s stare is something else. “Luckily my mom has a friend who runs a shelter, or we’d be like neck-deep in kittens.”

To demonstrate, he bends down to pet one of the strays, who, without much prompting decides to rub its little orange head all over his arm. Koutarou picks the little bugger up, stares into its baby blue eyes, and brings it close to his chest to pet its belly.

That is when he notices the other three gaping at him. Kuroo clears his throat. “Bro, none of them has let me just grab them like that.”

“Ah, well, Akaashi told you all already.” he says, gently setting the cat down. “Do you have pets Tsukki?” He asks, catching up to the group.

“No, my mom is allergic.” The blond says and pauses for a second. “I wanted a lizard when I was little, but my brother was scared of them.”

“Wha- a lizard?!” He can't help but ask.

“Tsukki is a reptile person I guess.” Kuroo interjects, smile curving to a smirk. “That’s where his hard shell comes from.”

Tsukishima glares at the dark-haired man. “Probably Kuroo-san, probably.”

It’s silent for a second, and Koutarou can’t help but note how tense both Tsukishima and Kuroo seem, and even Akaashi’s shoulders look a bit more squared than usual. 

Koutarou knows, instinctively that something is up with all of them, himself included, he’s been wondering how meeting Akaashi again after a month of determination to be chill about this whole mess. 

But it turns out it’s the same as ever, just a bit more concerning because he’s been, well-

Sleeping with Kuroo.

Although they did say it was just friendly hooking up, it’s not like it doesn’t add another layer of awkwardness to things, and though they have no way of knowing about it, even Akaashi and Tsukishima seem to sense there’s something that they are not being told.

The walk to the cat shrine is longer than Koutarou expected. After leaving the town they find themselves on a well-marked path, along rows of native trees and wild flora, with the occasional cat coming out to say hi to Koutarou or to beg treats from Kuroo.

Koutarou gravitates towards the college student too, if only because, although they do include him in the conversation, there are moments when Akaashi and Tsukishima seem to be off in their little world.

And Koutarou can’t be less than a bit envious.

He’s not an idiot.

So, he walks along with Kuroo, making little jokes and stealing cat treats from the other’s bag. 

Koutarou wonders how the four of them look like t other people. Tsukishima and Akaashi of course look like they’ve come out of one of those terribly unrealistic books with Fabio as the cover. He and Kuroo probably just look like two regular jocks, in their sports shorts and snug t-shirts.

They arrive -or at least so Akaashi’s map says- at the shrine, to find that it’s on top of the closest thing that this island has to a hill, with steps winding up its side. Not enough for it to be daunting, but enough. Koutarou whips his head around to meet Kuroo’s mischievous gaze, which he can already sense on him. “You in bro?!” 

He doesn’t even have to gesture at the steps. “Are you nuts! Of course!” Kuroo hollers.

“Ok, one, two-“ 

“Bo, wait.” Kuroo cuts him off. “I just had an idea.”

Akaashi seems to find that the perfect moment to intervene. “We are not racing you two up that hill.”

“Oh, that wasn’t my idea Akaashi.” Kuroo responds with a glint in his eye and a smirk that makes him look just shy of dangerous. Koutarou can never deny that it makes him look attractive. 

“Well, I’m in, Tetsu.” He says, belatedly noticing his slip.

Kuroo cranes his neck to the side, the way he looks at Koutarou is curious, but he's definitely not mad. “Well… It’s not that many steps up, so why don’t we add a handicap?” 

“Like take their backpacks too?” Koutarou asks, sizing up the Tsukishima and Akaashi's very sensibly sized luggage.

“Nope, them.”

Tsukishima goes pale. “Of course not!”

“What? Afraid you’re too heavy?” Kuroo taunts. "Maybe it's time you cut down on the cakes Tsukki."

Fuming, Tsukishima turns away from them, he doesn't say anything but with the way he's grinding his teeth, Koutarou wouldn't be surprised if he cracked one.

Akaashi sighs. “One of you is going to throw out their back.”

“Oh c’mon Akaashi” Koutarou whines. “I’ve carried you before, you're pretty light.”

“I don’t remember that.” Akaashi quips, a flush rising to his face.

“You don’t remember that sprain last year either?” Koutarou counters, puffing out his cheeks. "C'mon, trust me 'kaashi."

Akaashi just stares at him for a moment before a beautiful smile crawls right over his face. “Ok, Bokuto-san” and then he adds. “But if you drop me you’re the one explaining all this to my mom.”

Koutarou would never drop him, but Akaashi’s mom is a little terrifying, so that just solidifies the fact.

“Akaashi!” Tsukishima gasps, and when he’s only met with a shrug, he turns his pleading eyes towards Kuroo. "You can't be serious!"

“I can carry you.” The dark-haired man says smugly. “You're like a very long feather.”

Tsukishima goes red again Koutarou is worried that he's going to snap, but then he just laughs, in this tinny, slightly maniacal way, for a moment Koutarou is worried that they’ve broken him. “Oh, whatever.” He says, as the other three watch him with slack jaws.

Huh, who knows? Maybe he’s getting around to trusting them after all.

Or going through a bit of a crisis, that one’s more likely.

Everyone gets into position, switching around their various backpacks, and making sure that there's nothing they can get tangled in. Koutarou crouches to allow Akaashi to climb on his back, which he does with surprising ease. Lean thighs squeeze at his hips reassuringly. 

Akaashi’s breath is on his ear. “Don’t worry, Bokuto-san I can hold on.” And suddenly all the blood in his body is confused if it should go to his face or his dick.

A groan interrupts Koutarou's train of thought, beside them, Tsukishima and Kuroo seem to be having some technical difficulties. 

“Tsukki, you can’t tell me you can’t hold on, your legs are like two meters long.”

“Would you give me a minute?” Tsukishima huffs, doing some sort of bunny hop to try and wrap his legs around Kuroo. “I haven’t gotten carried like this since I was nine." He says, eyeing Kuroo's hips like they've done him a personal wrong. "Also, that’s completely anatomically incorrect, leave my legs alone.”

“Well, it sure seems like it right now,” Kuroo grumbles as Tsukishima struggles again. “Ow! careful with the hair! And the neck! I didn't know you were this kinky!”

"Oh shut up, you pain in the ass." Koutarou has half a mind to ask when the wedding is going to be, but even he isn’t that dense -and also he doesn’t fancy getting a shoe to the face from either of them-.

“Where’s Mr. high and mighty from a couple of seconds ago, huh?” Tsukishima says after another failed attempt.

Behind Koutarou, Akaashi chuckles, and a second later Koutarou feels those lean thighs squeezing harder and Akaashi’s arms disappearing completely. “Hey, Tsukishima,” Akaashi says, although Koutarou can’t look back for fear that it will make him drop the other man, he knows that Akaashi is looking a little smug. “Squeeze your thighs over his hipbone.” He instructs, and Koutarou is sure that if it were anyone else giving these instructions Tsukishima would be eating them alive, but the blond seems to be so surprised by the way Akaashi’s keeping himself on Koutarou’s back with just his thighs that he just mutely follows. “Grab his legs properly Kuroo-san, further back.”

To everyone's amazement, it works, Tsukishima is as red as a fire hydrant and Kuroo’s ears could give off steam, but the blond is securely on his back and Koutarou wastes no more time once Akaashi’s arms are back around his neck. “Three, two, one. GO!”

They race up at top speed, Akaashi is laughing, Tsukishima seems to be screaming. 

Kuroo, knowing he has the longer legs is taking the steps two and three at the time, and that ends up granting his victory -a very close one, but a victory none the less-.

As soon as they stop Tsukishima leaps off of Kuroo’s back, looking pale and more winded than either of them, and stomps off towards the back of the shrine. “I need some air without you two in it.”

He doesn’t seem mad, more like spooked and dizzy, so when Akaashi follows him neither he nor Kuroo say anything.

Koutarou and Kuroo go inside and snoop around, a couple of girls are taking pictures of each other, but it’s empty for the most part.

After feeding a couple more cats, Tsukishima and Akaashi aren’t back yet, so they go around the shrine to look for them.

Turns out that there are a couple of stone benches behind the shrine, placed just under the branches of a couple old, cool-looking trees right before the hill slopes down. Akaashi and Tsukishima are sitting there. The blond’s legs are stretched and he’s leaning his head on Akaashi’s shoulder. He, in turn, has his legs tucked under him, a hand idly toying with Tsukishima’s hair.

Beside him, Kuroo steps forward, no doubt about to disrupt the scene.

Koutarou clamps a hand around Kuroo's arm, a silent message for him to stop. And when the other turns his head to look at him, he gives Kuroo a pointed look before quickly and as silently as possible, taking out his sketch pad and a couple of graphite pencils.

The light is hitting just right and although Koutarou would like to be the one leaning on Akaashi like that, the second-best thing he can do is draw it.

Even if it does make his chest ache a little bit.

Kuroo sits on the stone steps as he works, content with feeding the cats.

By the time Koutarou has a pretty decent sketch, albeit, with fewer details than he’d want, they see the other two move. Tsukishima throws his head back and laughs as he gets up from the bench and stretches his long limbs. Akaashi follows him.

Once they spot Koutaro and Kuroo, however, they tense up all over again. “Uh, sorry guys,” Koutarou says. “You two looked good and-“

“We didn’t want to interrupt.” Kuroo says, voice dry and rough. 

Tsukishima seems mortified, but he doesn’t say anything. Akaashi, however, leans over, eyes seeking Koutarou’s sketch. “Can I see?”

“Sure, ‘kaashi.” He says, stretching the pad out to him, relieved someone is acting normal. 

Tsukishima and Kuroo also crowd around it to take a peek, both stiff and frowning.

Akaashi gasps “Oh Bokuto-san its-“ 

The hard swallow Tsukishima needs to be able to talk is audible. Somehow his sour expression has morphed into one of fondness by the time he speaks. “You have a lot of talent. Bokuto-san.”

It’s sincere praise, all the more coming from Tsukishima, Koutarou can't help but grin, forgetting for a second that he feels jealous of the younger man. “Just you wait until I’m done with it Tsukki! This is just the sketch.”

“At least we know what you could go to college for if you ever want to Bo.” Kuroo says, reaching out to ruffle his hair, tone affectionate and somehow resigned. “C’mon, all of you, it’s late and we have to find somewhere to sleep.”

It’s true, at some point between the cats, the walking and the race, the afternoon has slipped away from them, the sunlight is already starting to get dimmer. 

“Uh, Kuroo-san what do you mean find somewhere to sleep?” Akaashi asks as they descend the stairs.

“Well Bo and I looked at the places online, I have them all noted down in the map.”

“Oh,” Akaashi says, and Koutarou can tell he's trying to be polite. “I thought most of these places required advanced reservations, since it’s a time of the year when there are many tourists.”

“Didn't you two say you'd take care of it?” Tsukishima asks, alarmed. “The last ferry left like an hour ago.”

“Oh don’t worry Tsukki.” Kuroo huffs, pulling out his phone. “Look this is the website of the place with the cat cabin- Oh.” He dark-haired man stops in his tracks.

“Kuroo,” Tsukishima growls.

“Please don’t kill me?!” Kuroo pleads, only half-joking. “There are a few bed and breakfasts too. There have to be free beds in one of those, right?”

Koutarou turns to look at Akaashi’s pale face wonders what he did in a past life to deserve this constant bad luck in front of the man he’s in love with. "Then we better hurry up, right guys?” he says, quickly sandwiching himself between Kuroo and Tsukishima's glare.

“Of course.” Tsukishima grinds out. And then he’s almost skipping down the stone steps, his stride as large as he can make it with those long legs of his.

They get back to the town in like half the time it took them to get to the shrine, but Tsukishima’s worst fears are confirmed. Not a single bed and breakfast has room, much less for all four of them.

By the time they’ve asked everywhere and it’s starting to look like they are going to have to spend the night in the one convenience store in the little town, Akaashi, who has been quite silent until now, finally speaks. “We can still ask at the cabin place right?” he says. “Even if they charge us extra, it beats the convenience store.”

Behind him, Tsukishima snorts.

And so, off they go. The front desk is manned by a portly woman with a large mouth, a huge, steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a Home Decor magazine in the other. As soon as they enter she shoots them a dirty look, taking in their casual clothes and backpacks. “Reservation?”

“Uh, no but-“ Kuroo says. 

“We only take reservations, two weeks minimum.” She says with that low voice, and turns back to her magazine. "Try your luck at the town boys."

For a second they are all quiet, dread dripping down their backs. 

Then Akaashi steps forward, all prim and smiling at the angry woman. “We’re so sorry for inconveniencing you.” He says, bowing, eyes all wide and, fuck, Akaashi's laying his charm on the woman, isn’t he? Koutarou can't help but feel a bit proud. “There are no rooms anywhere in the town and my friends." he shoots an annoyed glance back at where they are standing. "Forgot to make a reservation. Even if you only have a small room we can make it work."

Narrowing her eyes, the lady looks down at a ledger on her desk. “Are y’all sure about that?”

“Yes! Of course.” Akaashi says. “Does that mean you have a room?”

“A cottage, child.” The woman snorts. “It's meant for a family so it only has two beds and I’ll have to charge you extra.” 

They all turn to look at each other. On one side, there’s the potential awkwardness, on the other, it’s either this, the streets, or the convenience store.

So it’s decided. Koutarou steps forward, handing off his -brand new- bank card where his first few cheques from the volleyball team rest. 

The woman eyes it appreciatively. “Ok, then Mr. Bokuto.” She jots down Koutarou’s information and then says. “Cottage number 6.” She hands him an old looking key. “We have a breakfast service but you’re going to have to handle yourselves for the night.”

“Of course.” Akaashi says. “Thank you so much.”

The reality of their sleeping arrangements for the night finally dawns on Koutarou.

 He’s maybe, a little bit, fucked.

.

.

Kei is fucked, so, so fucked.

After a brief but rather explosive disagreement about who was going to sleep with who, somehow these three lunatics he calls friends arrived at the conclusion that it is easier to just push the beds together.

Moreover, Bokuto and Kuroo skipped out to buy alcohol and food and god knows what else in order to "Have a little party after all that running.” As Bokuto said.

He and Akaashi finish putting the beds together and Kei looks up at his friend? Fling? with pleading eyes before he just lets himself fall back on the soft mattress.

“At least we got somewhere to sleep.” Akaashi says, with a sigh. “For the record, I wanted to share with you.”

“It was the sane choice.” Kei shrugs. “This is going to be weird.”

“Let's try to make it a little less weird then?” Akaashi says, dropping on the bed beside him, his long graceful fingers brushing Kei’s.

Kei laughs. “How are we going to do that, my neck already hurts from the tension.”

“Lets just.” Akaashi pauses for a second. “Go along with it? We’re all friends aren’t we?”

“So just drink with them?”

“And eat.” Akaashi agrees. “Maybe we all need to relax a little.” He says, and turns to Kei with that smile that makes his insides flutter. “We can start now, c’mon, I’ll take a look at your neck.”

And, though he’s exhausted -and sore, and confused, and very much attracted to everyone he’s going to be sharing a bed with tonight- Kei sits up. That one illogical, traitorous part of him that got him to this island in the first place whispers that he does need to relax.

He’s so done with tension for today.

Although speaking of tension… There is one thing that has been bugging Kei the whole day. And it’s completely his fault.

Kuroo deserved at least a chance to talk. 

Akaashi’s talented hands come up to his shoulders and Kei swears he’s going to try.

Chapter Text

Tetsuro was the one who suggested pushing the beds together.

Lest a full-on fight broke out over who got Akaashi as a bed partner. 

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, and he has just realized what this means and that he should have been fighting to get Akaashi for a bed partner too.

He is the only one Tetsuro hasn’t done stuff with. And therefore the least awkward option.

-and no, he’s not complaining, not at all, no matter how pretty Akaashi is, but this situation is complicated enough as is-

He and Bokuto pay for their items and walk back to the cottage. Tetsuro silently hoping that the small kitchen has enough things to make something halfway decent. 

Otherwise, he has four volleyball players to fill up with snacks and booze and he is pretty sure it will cause a riot. 

Bokuto enters the room first, gasping softly at, what Tetsuro soon finds, is Akaashi rubbing Tsukishima’s shoulders in some magical way that has the blond looking almost blissful. “’kaashi, no fair, you haven’t given me a massage in forever!” Bokuto all but howls, dropping his part of the food on the kitchen counter and bounding for the bed. 

Akaashi chuckles fondly. “You can go next, we’re almost done. “

“Huh?” Of course, that startles Tsukishima from his dazed state. “Why?” he almost whines.

“It’s barely 8, and you’re falling asleep sitting up.” Akaashi offers softly to the blond, who must still be pretty gone because he just nods. 

“Tsukki!” Tetsuro can’t help it, there’s only so much jealousy he can field. “Can you come help me with dinner?” he calls, effectively catching the blond’s attention.

“Why me?” he snaps.

Tetsuro snorts, happy to have a decent explanation already on hand. “I don’t trust Bo around knives, and he’s gonna sulk until Akaashi gives him that massage.”

A grumble and some shifting later, Tsukishima comes up beside him. “What do I have to do?” he says, voice stilted and cold. 

“Just chop the vegetables.” Tetsuro sighs, Tsukishima is mad, this was a bad idea. “You can go back to the room if you don’t want to help.”

“It’s fine.” Tsukishima grumbles. Grabbing the fish-shaped cutting board and a knife.

He is surprisingly decent at it.

Tetsuro wants to say something about it, maybe make a joke or something, but he’s tired, four hours of sleep with the day they had are not enough. And it’s not really worth talking when everything he says seems to make Tsukishima clam up even more.

It’s fine, the silence is fine.

He busies himself with the rice and the meat instead, seasoning and stirring. Cooking is relaxing, for some reason, maybe it’s because he’s done a fair bit of it around the house since he was twelve, but he can just stop thinking for a bit.

“Kuroo, here.” Tsukishima’s voice snaps him from his thoughts. He turns to find the blond handing him the vegetables. His golden eyes burn behind the glasses.

“Uh, thanks. You’re decent at this.” He says, quickly tearing his eyes away. 

“Thanks?” Tsukishima says, voice trailing off, his eyes are still scrutinizing Tetsuro’s face. A couple of seconds pass and he doesn’t move, it’s like he’s waiting for Tetsuro to say something. “If you want to lay down, I can finish up here.”

“It’s just stir fry, I can deal with it” Tetsuro snaps, not really meaning to, but not caring for once. 

Maybe this whole thing was a bad idea. 

He doesn’t know what face Tsukishima makes, concentrated on mixing the ingredients, the blond zooms out of the room like he’s on fire anyway. Leaving Tetsuro to sigh his heart out and crumble a bit in peace.

Except he doesn’t.

Tsukishima comes back with the plastic plates, sets them beside the stove and starts plating the rice. Tetsuro turns to look at him, the blond has his head bowed shoulders tense. 

He looks… guilty. 

Well good for him.

Or something.

Ugh.

This whole trip Tsukishima has been hiding behind Akaashi, and Tetsuro has tried to be understanding and give him as much space as he can without rousing questions from the two others. So why does he have to seek him out now? 

Tetsuro takes a deep breath. He can be the adult here just once more tonight.

“I don’t want things to be weird.” Tsukishima says, cutting off Tetsuro just as he was opening his mouth. “That’s why I don’t want to talk about it.”

Tetsuro is a bit mad, and jealous, and fuck he’s in love.

He feels all of the things he wants to say deflate inside of him, it’s not the moment, and nothing good is going to come out of it. “I gathered.” He nudges the other’s hip with his own so he can start plating the stir fry. “You could’ve just told me.”

“I-“

“I can always understand.” He says, not daring to look up. “And anyway, it’s no big deal, right?”

For a moment, the other is quiet, the silence is loaded and heavy. “Right.” He finally says, voice rough. “I don’t regret it or anything.”

And then he’s gone, plates in his hands.

.

.

Dinner is quiet, if only because everyone is so hungry that the large helpings that Kuroo prepared are practically inhaled. 

Kei isn’t usually a big eater, but it’s easier not to look at Kuroo with his mouth full and busy chewing. 

It’s no good even when he speaks anyways. 

Akaashi quickly gathers the empty plates as soon as everyone's done, on his way to the little kitchen, he grabs Bokuto’s arm and all but drags him along. “We’ll clean up since you two took care of dinner.” He sounds too cheery.

Kei would be mad at him for meddling but it’s hard for him to be mad at Akaashi for anything lately.  

It was immediately noticeable, from the moment after Kuroo woke up at the ferry, he barely engaged Kei. Only doing so when the others were around and before racing up the stairs to the temple. So, Kei tried to fix things, it’s not like he doesn't understand why Kuroo is acting like this -probably, at least-.

In this situation, Kuroo would usually be the first one to speak, but well… Kei looks up at the other man, he’s resolutely staring away. “Thanks for the food.” He says, trying to sound as normal as possible. “You don’t look like it, but you cook well.”

Kuroo looks up at him, reddish-brown eyes widening. “You’re welcome Tsukishima, it was just stir-fry, it’s not like it’s complicated.”

“Still-“

“I’m going to go change.” Kuroo interrupts, he stands up and proceeds to retrieve some clothes from his bag, disappearing into the bathroom soon after.

So that bridge is burned huh?

Maybe waiting three months wasn’t the best idea. 

Alone in the large dining room/bedroom, Kei spots the unopened convenience store bag on the corner of the kitchen counter. He pads over towards it -Akaashi and Bokuto barely notice him, Bokuto is engrossed in telling some story from his training last week, Akaashi listening with rapt attention-. As expected, the bag is filled with two six-packs of beer and two bottles of liquor. 

What catches Kei’s attention is one of the bottles, the liquid swirling inside is dark, almost as much as coffee and the label is familiar.

Oh

He remembered.

Well, fuck, if Kei felt guilty before…

“Tsukki!” Bokuto has at some point crept up behind him. “Don’t tell me you’re actually going to drink with us today!”

Kei almost rebuffs him, but then he remembers promising Akaashi -and to a degree, himself- to try. And who knows? Maybe he can smooth things out a little with Kuroo if he tries to engage with them more. “If I don’t fall asleep first.” He says. 

Akaashi’s looking at him like he’s gone a bit crazy, but then he just smiles. “That’s good, I don’t plan on partaking.”

“Awww, Akaashi!” Bokuto whines, looking at the setter with wide, bright eyes. “C’mon.”

Akaashi seems to consider it for a second, although Kei already knows what he’s going to say. “Fine, but only a little.” He sighs. “And I’m not touching that.” He declares, pointing at the other bottle in the bag, Kei’s pretty sure it’s vodka.

“You’re the best!” It’ doesn’t dampen Bokuto’s spirits at all. “Tsukki, come with me, let’s set up on the bed.”

Setting up turns out to consist of getting plastic cups while Bokuto drains a bottle of beer and tries to find his deck of Uno, and making sure all the pillows are out of the way. As Kei is occupied with the latter, Kuroo emerges from the bathroom, in -predictably- a pair of sweatpants and a sleeping shirt with some anime character stamped on the front. His hair is slightly messier than usual, and he keeps pushing it back.

Despite his current inner turmoil, Kei can’t help but appreciate how soft he looks.

Bokuto is sitting in front of Kei, reclining comfortably on the pillows, and Akaashi is slipping into his own pajamas -a pair of distractingly short shorts and an oversized t-shirt-, but his backpack is on the lower half of the bed where Bokuto is sitting.

Kuroo hesitates for a second, but he eventually settles in front of Kei, gratefully reaching out for the beer that Bokuto hands him. "Thanks, Bro, it’s so hot here, even at night.” He says as he takes a sip. His eyes scour the room, stop for a second on Akaashi who is cradling his own beer, if he notices Kei drinking the dark liquor from a clear plastic cup, he doesn’t mention it. “So? What are we playing? Truth or dare? Never have I ever? I don’t think two of us could fit in the closet, so I think seven minutes in heaven is out.”

“It could be seven minutes in the bathroom.” Bokuto offers.

“I’m afraid we wouldn't last long at that game,” Akaashi replies, ever the voice of reason. “There’s only four of us. And the toilet seat cover is creepy.”

“True,” Bokuto says, thoughtful. “I guess never have I ever? Tsukishima?”

Kei weighs his options, truth or dare seems more dangerous, given the fact that they could ask direct questions. Besides, if he says no they might suggest spin the bottle next. “They are all cheesy as hell. It doesn’t make much of a difference to me.”

“Ok then!” Bokuto loudly declares, holding up his hand. “One sip of your drink for each finger.” He explains, Kei almost tells him that he has played before, but he decides to gauge Kuroo’s reaction instead. “And when you’re out of fingers you chug what’s left. And you can say something you’ve done, but then you have to take two sips.” This, he demonstrates with a newly prepared cup of vodka and soda.

“We can bow out at any time.” Akaashi says, eyes fixed on Kei, it’s not a question.

Kuroo snorts. “We’re not gonna force you to drink or anything.” His eyes drift to Kei and he lifts his own drink to his lips, taking a sip. “Should I start?”

“Sure.” He says and realizes for the first time that the older man is sitting as far away as the bed will allow. It irritates him a bit, so Kei does what any other reactionary teenager would.

He scoots forward until their knees are almost touching -which really isn’t much, this is a normal bed and even sitting cross-legged they both take up a lot of space-. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“Oh, Tsukki.” The man says, clearly taken aback, but it lasts for just a second before a ghost of a smirk takes over his mouth. “Never have I ever needed prescription glasses.” 

Kei sputters, though it was a very obvious choice. He takes a sip of his drink -reveling in the slightly bitter, coffee-like taste-, looking at Kuroo smirking -now for real- over the rim of his glass.

To his surprise, Bokuto also drinks. “Really?” Kei says, scrutinizing the other’s face.

“Heh, I wear contacts now.” The owl responds with a shrug. And Kei has a hard time picturing it, he keeps imagining him in novelty glasses for some reason. “Your turn Tsukki.”

Kei pauses for a second, he wants to return the favor. “Never have I ever had a teacher complain about my hair.” He says, smirk mirroring the one on Kuroo’s face.

“Hey!” Bokuto takes a sip. “No fair.”

“Yeah, Tsukki.” Kuroo echoes, pouting.

Kei frowns at the man, fighting the urge to stick out his tongue like a little kid. “Neither was yours.”

“Maybe.” Kuroo say says, making a show of staring at his nails. “Bo, you turn!” 

The owl stiffens, apparently not having thought of something beforehand. “Umm.” He pauses for a moment. “Never have I ever been a middle blocker?”

Kuroo lets a peal of laughter loose. “Bro!”

“It was meant for him!” Bokuto excuses himself, hand waving in Kei's general direction.

Kei feels a vein pop in his forehead. “Oh, so now you’re ganging up on me?" He rolls his eyes. "Real mature.” 

“You started it!” Bokuto exclaims, laughing.

Kei points at Kuroo who is smirking wide now. “He started it; I was defending myself.”

“Oh, whatever.” Kuroo doesn’t even deny it, he just takes a sip of his drink and lowers one finger. “You’re next Akaashi!” he exclaims, pointing at the other man who is sitting all prim and looking amused, half-finished beer in hand. 

“Never have ever graduated high school.” The setter says, his expression not faltering once.

Bokuto puffs out his cheeks. “Aww ‘kaashi!”

“Sorry, Bokuto-san.” Akaashi shrugs, hand rising to pat Bokuto’s back. “I guess I’m on Tsukishima’s team if we’re playing like this.”

“BETRAYAL!” The owl exclaims drink sloshing dangerously in his hand. “I won’t go easy on you Akaashi!”

“That’s quite alright.” Akaashi responds, and, as if in defiance takes a sip of his beer, all five of his fingers still up.

“Never have I ever had Bokuto as my captain then.” Kuroo says smiling indulgently. “Akaashi-kun

Kei can’t be too sure, because it only lasts for a second, but he’s sure that for a second Akaashi’s eyes flash like those of an actual bird of prey as he takes another sip of the beer. 

Well, Kei’s not about to drop the ball. “As for me, Kuroo-san, I’ve never colluded with Hinata to crash someone else’s practice.” 

Kuroo’s glare is playful. “You little…”

A whole ‘never have I ever’ war is started after this, with Kei and Akaashi on one side and Kuroo and Bokuto on the other. It ends with the former as winners, if only because Akaashi knows way too many of Bokuto’s stories from high school and Kuroo has always overshared. 

Also, Kei takes a lot of cheap shots.

By the time they consider the game finished Kei has gone through four cups and Kuroo is at 6 and Bokuto at 8. Akaashi has just finished his second beer and is nursing a second cup of Kei’s drink.

Kei’s feeling a bit dizzy and very animated for some reason. 

“So what now?” Kuroo says, leaning forward on his palms, smile a bit too wide.

“Hmmmm…” Bokuto makes a face like he is thinking and ever so slowly pulls out a beer bottle from behind him. “I wonder…” he says, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Bro.” Kuroo says, grinning.

“Oh no, we’re not doing that.” Kei says, using the small part of his brain that is still completely logical.

“Why not Tsukki?” Bokuto says, laughing and setting the bottle on the bed. “We’ve all kissed at least one person here.”

Kei’s eyes widen, he was very -if anything overly- aware of the fact that everybody knew about him hooking up with Kuroo in the bathroom at that party.  

He had been relieved thinking that Bokuto didn’t know about Akaashi though. “How did you find out?” He asks, eyes trained on Akaashi who has gone pale.

“Tsukki! I was there! Kuroo got out of that bathroom with his shirt inside o-“Finally noticing Kei’s stare, Bokuto’s eyes drift to Akaashi’s face. “Akaashi?”

“You just said you already knew Bokuto-san.” The setter says, refusing to meet Bokuto’s eyes and taking a large gulp of his drink. 

“No!” Bokuto gapes for a second. “I meant me! At the sports festival two years ago.”

What now? Kei looks to the side, at Kuroo who seems just as confused.

“I- no- oh!” Akaashi swells, cheeks red, and promptly starts laughing. “I didn’t think that counted!”

“What do you mean!? Our lips touched!”

“It was a game Bokuto-san and they touched for half a second.” Akaashi giggles and takes yet another gulp of Kahlua. He turns to Kei and Kuroo’s confused gazes. “We got dared by our seniors to play the pocky game. Bokuto-san lost.”

“But we’re going off-topic here!” Bokuto exclaims, gesturing between Akaashi and Kei. “When did this happen?”

Kei’s eyes meet Akaashi’s flustered blue ones, the setter’s cheeks are red from the drinking and the embarrassment and he shrugs timidly at Kei’s pointed gaze. 

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. “Training camp.” Kei says, looking down at his drink. “And we are not saying anything else about it Bokuto-san.”

“Mean Tsukki.” Bokuto pouts, eyes downcast. Then he turns to Akaashi. “So, are you two together?”

Another glance, and they respond in unison. “No.” and “Not really.”

Bokuto seems suspicious, but then he just looks back down at the mattress, an uncomfortable silence falls over the room. Kei turns to look at Kuroo who is staring at the owl but turns to him as soon as he feels Kei’s gaze.

“What?” he mouths.

“How do we get him normal?” Kei mouths back.

Kuroo thinks for a second. “I have an idea.” His eyes are mischievous but concerned. Kei just knows this is going to be a mess. 

He shrugs, a mess is better than this.

“Ohhhhhhh.” Kuroo gasps, loudly. “So, the only ones here who haven’t kissed are me and Akaashi and…” He pauses dramatically. Fuck, Kei knows where this is going. “You and Tsukki?”

.

.

Keiji might be a bit surprised by the turn things have taken.

It’s not like he expected this trip to be uneventful… but he also didn't expect it to include kissing each other like they are ticking off boxes of a challenge.

Oh well.

He might be a bit drunker than he initially thought… not that-one-party bad, just slightly more than expected. 

That is probably why it takes the whole thing so long to hit him. “Wait, you two have kissed too?” he says, pointing at Bokuto and then Kuroo. “You knew?” he looks at Tsukishima.

“I assumed.” Tsukishima shrugged. “Is it that far-fetched?”

It is not. Keiji takes another sip of his drink and shakes his head. “Well, it’s fine by me.” He says, and really, at this point, he might as well let the night lead him where it may. 

“Tsukki?” Kuroo asks, voice low and surprised. “We can make it like a truth or dare thing I guess.” He says pushing back his bangs. “Spin the bottle would be a little pointless with us.”

Tsukishima just stares for a minute, from his expression, Keiji isn’t sure if he’s going to bolt or burst into another scary laughter fit. But something passes between Tsukishima’s stare and Kuroo’s because the blond, flushed cheeks and all, rolls his eyes. “I- at this point I’m more surprised that it hasn’t happened already.” He says, but there’s amusement in his voice. “You’re all heathens.”

Bokuto laughs. “Says the one who’s showing us all up.”

“You’re welcome to join us heathens.” Kuroo agrees. “You pass!” he laughs and throws his arms up. 

Maybe they are all a bit drunker than expected. 

“So Tsukki?” Bokuto wiggles his eyebrows and throws his arms out in Tsukishima’s general direction. “I don’t bite.” 

They are all already sitting pretty close to each other, but it’s still a surprise for Keiji when Tsukishima moves, fast and surprisingly precise. The blond leans down, dodging one of Bokuto’s flailing arms and proceeds to surge up, swiftly pressing his lips to the silver-haired man’s. Even Bokuto is frozen for half a second before one of his hands finds purchase on Tsukishima’s waist and the other on his shoulder, pulling the blond close.

Keiji should probably be jealous, of either of them? Of both?

But surprisingly he does not feel weird. If anything, the sight is kind of… attractive. 

Maybe he is a voyeur? At this point it would not be too surprising. 

The whole thing is over as abruptly as it started, Tsukishima, fire hydrant-red sits back in the same cross-legged position that he was in before and Bokuto just sits there, frozen, with a dazed look and a hand softly held to his lips. “You take care of your skin, don’t you?” He half whispers.

“Oh, shut up.” Tsukishima groans, grabbing one of the fluffy pillows to hold angrily across his chest. “Your turn.” He says, gaze jumping between Kuroo and Keiji.

Keiji turns to look at the older man who has gone stiff, eyes shifting nervously around the room.

Kuroo is not hard on the eyes at all. Never has been, really, but being made to see him in this light -as a kissing partner? What?- Keiji notices the straight, bold slope of his nose, his full lips and chiseled jaw.

Distantly, he realizes that he has half crawled over to Kuroo until he's hovering over the other man's lap, their faces inches apart. Kuroo is blushing from ear to ear.

To his left Keiji hears a muted. “Well, now we know how he ended up in the fountain.” From Tsukishima and something that sounds suspiciously like Bokuto holding back a snicker.

He leans in closer, close enough to feel Kuroo's breath on his face. The man chuckles and closes the distance between them with a short jerky movement. His lips are a bit chapped and taste like vodka, and it’s… nice, the smell that envelops Keiji is the same pleasant one he remembers from that night at the party.

He kisses a little deeper, feels Kuroo’s mouth get more pliant.

And that is it, Kuroo breaks the kiss, redder than he was before if it’s even possible, and Keiji sits back. 

No one makes a sound for some time, and Keiji is drunk so it could be minutes or hours, the air is charged with something that he can’t really identify, and neither can anyone else by the looks of it. After a while, Keiji realizes that someone’s staring intently at him. He turns to find Bokuto’s bronze-colored eyes, wide open and trained on his face.

“Bokuto-san?”

“Can I get a do-over of our kiss?” he blurts out.

Keiji knows he ought to be embarrassed enough to crawl under the bed, but for some reason, he feels confident. “Why?” he asks, blinking up at the silver-haired man.

The man he loves.

One of them.

Bokuto looks so nervous and Keiji loves him all the more for it. “Because you said it didn’t count." He says eyes wandering. “and all the ones today have.”

This is crazy and Keiji’s ready to believe that he got sloppy drunk again and hallucinated… after he gets his kiss. 

He meets Bokuto’s wide eyes with his own and nods

And then Bokuto’s hands are warm, so warm around his face, and at some point, he has closed his eyes. When they kiss the warmth, the anticipation it’s like those little candy that pop when you eat them are popping right under Keiji’s skin where it meets Bokuto’s. 

It is probably the most chaste kiss of all the ones that have happened, but it is the longest.

When they part, Keiji finds that Tsukishima and Kuroo are looking at each other, stubborn and blushing. 

Tsukishima takes a swig of his Kahlua bottle and hands it off to Kuroo, who does the same. A part of Akaashi -the one that is still giddy and warm from all the kissing- wants to shout out ‘indirect kiss’ even though it would be so pointless in the current situation.

Kuroo clears his throat. “I think truth or dare might get… messy.” He says, and Tsukishima nods. “Let’s stick to Uno and drinking.”

Uno.

Keiji’s getting so many nice things tonight.

.

.

So, it turns out Akaashi Keiji is batshit crazy.

When it comes to Uno at least. 

And poor Kuroo Tetsuro who has already been startled into a kiss by that same man today is paying the price.

Kei isn’t only surprised; he’s flabbergasted by how bad Kuroo is at Uno -or how good Akaashi is at it-. At this pace they might have to take him to the hospital, Akaashi has made him drink that many shots with +4s. 

While thankful for the barrier between himself and Akaashi’s crazy Uno rampage -he would already be getting his stomach pumped- Kei is kind of getting worried.

Like Kuroo is swaying in place worried. 

Kei weighs his options -his mind very helpfully reminds him that Kuroo didn’t sleep last night- and, this may be the alcohol, but he makes a decision.

Kuroo can keep being cagey in the morning for all he cares.

After all, he’s already kissed Bokuto tonight, he can blame at least two other things on the drinking.

The next time Kuroo sways towards Kei, his head drooping, Kei very unceremoniously pulls the man’s head down to rest on his lap, while the Kuroo's body immediately curls up, he slurs out a protest. “Tsukki but we’re not doneeee.” 

You’re done,” Kei says, doing his best not to look down. “If you fall over and crack your head, we’re going to have to take you to a hospital and god knows if there’s one in this island.”

“M’kay Tsukki.” Kuroo slurs sleepily body curling up tighter. “Bossy Tsukki.”

Kei turns to look at the others. “Can one of you please hand me some water? I’m not drinking anymore”

Akaashi lowers his cards, he seems a bit annoyed to have to stop his game. “I’ll bring some for Kuroo too.”

.

.

Soft light and the meowing of a cat outside awaken Tetsuro.

From the looks of the sliver of sky that the closed curtains leave bare, it must be around five or six am.

He is lying on his stomach, arms snug around a warm, comfy pillow, and there’s a weight over his hips, like someone’s slung a leg over him. Which turns out to indeed be the case when he looks down. It is almost fearfully that his eyes slide up his ‘allow’ -which is breathing, oh god-.

Tsukishima’s sleeping face up, arms spread, his hair messy and his face relaxed in a way he never thought he would get to see. And Tetsuro is hugging his middle.

Akaashi’s head is lying on one of Tsukishima’s arms, using it as a pillow, he’s curled on his side facing Tetsuro’s back in a very decent position. And behind the setter is Bokuto, all of his limbs but the leg over Tetsuro’s hip are wrapped right around Akaashi, spooning him in a way that even in sleep manages to be possessive.

It is, all in all, a cute picture, and Tetsuro would appreciate it so much more if he didn’t have a raging hangover and wasn’t freaking about just how he ended up basically sleeping on top of Tsukishima.

His memory’s relatively good until the Uno game starts, then he just remembers Akaashi laughing like a forest witch and a lot of vodka. 

And Tsukki pulling him to his lap? What?

He shakes his head, maybe it’s better to postpone this until he can ask Bokuto, the man is a tank, he probably remembers.

Carefully -oh so carefully- he extracts his arms from around Tsukishima’s body and disentangles their legs. The blond whines sleepily and curls up on his side. 

God, he’s pretty.

Tetsuro makes his way to the kitchen, luckily, among the snacks that they didn’t eat yesterday, he and Bokuto got some sports drinks, he all but chugs one.

“Do you need painkillers?” A soft voice breaks the silence, and Tetsuro jumps like a child watching a horror movie. He turns to see Akaashi, with his head craned to the side, hair messy and adorable and wearing those damned tiny sleeping shorts.

“Fuck, you almost killed me there.” He says, voice rough, reaching out to retrieve the pills the setter is offering. “Thanks, Akaashi.” Imagining the other man is in the kitchen for similar reasons as him, Tetsuro hands him a sports drink which is gratefully accepted. “How did you get out of the bed? Bokuto had you clutched tight.”

Akaashi sets down his drink, blinking sleepily at Tetsuro. “I’m used to that, I just pulled Kei over and let Bokuto-san latch on to him instead.”

That happened often when you were in high school?” Tetsuro’s eyebrows rise. “I mean he is clingy but…”

“When he’s very tired.” Akaashi smiles forlornly to himself. “All you really need to do is give him something else to hug, preferably warm. I’d thought you’d know that already.” Akashi looks up at him inquisitively. “Or is it not like that?”

Tetsuro could lie, but there really isn’t a point to that now. “It kind of is? I dunno, we’re just pals, y’know? He doesn’t stay over to sleep.”

Akaashi chuckles, tired but somehow still one of the cutest things ever. “We’ve had this conversation before, haven’t we?”

“Yeah, it’s disquieting, this is like the third time." Tetsuro leans against the counter beside him. “You aren’t mad?” 

“I… don’t know. I think I am jealous.” Akaashi smiles down softly. “But I also can't be a hypocrite.”

“So, it’s fine?” Tetsuro looks at him, really looks at him, with his stupid wide-necked t-shirt and ridiculously tiny sleeping shorts. 

“I guess?” Akaashi stares back at him, eyes earnest. “We have time to figure all this out.”

“I think…” Tetsuro pauses for a second, remembering the whirlwind of emotions that he day before was. “that this trip should be just that. It’s all getting weird too fast and we’re all going to crash and burn at this pace.”

Akaashi’s azure eyes widen. “You’re going to tell them that?”

“Nope.” Tetsuro snorts at just the thought. “Bo is too sensitive and Tsukki will get huffy and it might set off something.” He gives Akaashi a meaningful look. “We can keep the whole thing in check, can’t we?”

The setter stops to think for a second, eyes shifting to the kitchen doorway. Then he looks back at Tetsuro, gaze resolute. “I guess, between the two of us it might be doable.”

“Cheers to that?” He can’t help the grin that takes over his face when Akaashi -the usually serious and reserved Akaashi- lifts his plastic bottle to bump it with Tetsuro's and smiles in a way that resolves all doubts Tetsuro might have ever had about how and why Bokuto fell for him. 

“Cheers.” He says. “I’m glad you are alright with this, after the way you were yesterday.”

Looking down, he sighs. “I needed to chill; I know. But in my defense, I had a reason.”

“You’re playing a dangerous game Kuroo-san.” Akaashi says, voice low.

“So are you.” Tetsuro retorts, because whit the meager information he has, he can just feel that whatever way things fall -whatever way Akaashi falls-, when they do, someone’s going to end up hurt.

Akaashi’s mouth falls open a little, he looks like he is about to ask something, but then grumbling from the other room distracts him. “Let me go you oaf!” It is Tsukishima’s voice, steadily growing louder and more annoyed. “Come on! I need to use the bathroom!”

Tetsuro is ready to step in, but Akaashi grabs him by the arm, effectively stopping the older man. 

It’s not like he can’t imagine what’s going on. 

“OW!” Bokuto yelps.“Wha? Uh? Tsukki? Did you bite me?”

“I barely nipped you, and I’m actually going to bite you if you don’t let me go.” Wow, Tsukishima sounds mad, Akaashi sighs beside him and rummages through the convenience store bag, no doubt looking for another sports drink for the blond. 

“I’m not- Oh?” There’s a rustle and then muffled stomping until Tetsuro hears the bathroom door slam closed. “Why were you there Tsukki?” Bokuto asks, sounding confused

Muffled, no doubt from behind the bathroom door, Tsukishima answers. “Hell if I fucking know.”

Tetsuro shoots a knowing glance toward Akaashi. “Looks like Tsukki has a hangover”

“Let's start making breakfast.” The setter says, fiddling with his phone. “But check your phone first.”

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI-10:32

**image attached**

It takes a full five minutes for Tetsuro’s brain to work again. 

The picture shows Tsukishima curled up like a -stupidly leggy- kitten into Bokuto’s chest, while the former ace surrounds him tenderly with all of his limbs. They are both bathed in the warm yellow glow of dawn.

It’s precious.

And also so embarrassing.

“Oh Akaashi, you devil.”

.

.  

As he stands in the train platform with Tsukishima, waiting for Kuroo and Akaashi to fetch them all some coffee, Koutarou can’t help but feel a little bit lost.

Aside from the very chaotic Saturday night, the trip went by without much of a hitch, getting back to Ishinomaki and then Sendai and then going to the nearby islands for views. His sketch book is filled with them, and the very familiar face of his friends, of course.

The lodging mishap from the first night did not repeat itself and they all did manage to get separate futons for the other night of the trip.

And maybe that was a good thing.

Since waking up in Tashirojima everyone acted quite…sedated? Both Kuroo and Akaashi seemed hell-bent on keeping things relatively tranquil and restrained. Though it was still fun, Koutarou really would like to know what the hell is up. And Tsukishima brooded for at least half of that so that counts too.

Especially after the picture.

Koutarou thinks it’s actually quite cute.

He looks at Tsukishima, who stands quietly by his side, hair a bit mused.

Tsukishima has really soft lips, Koutarou knows he does something to his skin, even if the blond refuses to admit it.

That’s one of two realizations he’s had on this trip.

The other one is that he doesn’t have a chance with Akaashi

At least not right now.

So many things came out on this trip, if he made a move now, he might lose him forever, and that’s not allowed. After both his thirsts with Kuroo and whatever is happening between Akaashi and Tsukishima came out on Saturday, well…

Maybe it’s better to keep up with his plan to let sleeping dogs lie. He can’t even blame Tsukishima.

And it does hurt, a lot, like his heart is being squeezed dry bad.

But he still has a little bit of hope.

After that kiss. It’s not possible to not have it.

Akaashi was right, that brush of lips a year ago doesn’t come close, what’s more, that short, timid, kiss puts all others to shame.

“Bo, Tsukki!” He hears Kuroo calling, He and Akaashi approach with a tray of coffee. “Come, quick!” the college student calls.

They meet him halfway, both wondering what the fuss is about.

“Is something wrong Kuroo?” Tsukishima asks, brow furrowed.

“Nope.” Kuroo grins. “I just realized you guys still owe us a photo. Now c’mon,” He pulls out his phone. “Huddle up behind Akaashi, god you’re tall.”

Surprisingly, the blond does as asked, and Koutarou walks behind Kuroo and opens his arms wide, setting one hand on Kuroo’s shoulder, the other on Tsukishima’s and his chin on Akaashi’s.

“Ok, one, two, say cheese.”

It’s the first of like 57 pictures they manage to get before their train arrives, but somehow, it’s the best one.

@ THE HOOLABALOOS

FROM: KUBROO-15:36

**image attached**

**image attached**

**image attached**

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**image attached**

FROM: TSUKKI-CAKES-15:39

Bokuto-san looks like a kidnapper.

FROM: KUBROO-15:40

Tsukki, you’re literally making the same face in all of them.

You have no right to complain.

What are you, Dorian Gray?

FROM: TSUKKI-CAKES-15:42

That’s not even how it is in the book!

And you know that

Ugh

KUBROO HAS CHANGED THIS GROUP’S ICON

Chapter Text

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI - 14:35

Nothing much.

I mean my mom isn't home and everyone else is busy.

It's fine really, I think I will study.

They are throwing that party tomorrow anyways.

.

.

Tokyo’s freezing.

And here Kei is, with a potted plant and hardly a plan, waiting outside a house that he’s never been in.

Maybe going for a surprise wasn’t that good an idea.

But Akiteru was coming down here today.

It seemed like a sign. But now that Kei thinks of it maybe it wasn’t a ‘go’ sign, maybe it was more along the lines of a ‘slow down’ sign, especially considering the weird impasse that everyone seems to be into since that trip they took for his birthday.

Or Bokuto’s, whatever.

But Akaashi being completely alone the night before his birthday had kind of struck a chord in Kei, so here he is.

The sound of soft footsteps inside the house startles him. Everything’s silent for a second, then the door opens. And there’s Akaashi, hair mused, in loose pajama bottoms and a long-sleeved, off-the-shoulder -Kei is starting to see a pattern there- top. He blinks sleep out of his eyes and cranes his head to the side like a bird, like he’s not very sure if he has actually woken up. “Kei?”

“Uh.” Kei really didn’t think of what he was going to say, he lifts the plant. “Happy early birthday?”

“Wha-? Oh.” Keiji takes the little succulent into his hands, cradling it like it’s so fragile. “Thank you. Do you want to come in?”

Kei’s glad to get out of the cold, he wanders in behind Akaashi. The house is dark, and large but toasty, probably thanks to central heating, so he removes his jacket and scarf. “Won’t your mom mind?” he asks.

“She’s on a trip. She'll be back on Sunday.” Akaashi shrugs and leads him to the kitchen, he leans back against the counter. “When did you get here? I thought you two were coming down tomorrow.”

“Saeko-nee wanted to catch some concert.” He smirks. “Of course, Akiteru wanted to go with her, so we took a long weekend.”

“Saeko-nee, huh?” Akaashi smiles. “Are you looking at tuxedos?”

“Nah.” Tsukishima pauses, then adds. “Maybe, but I mostly say that because it flusters Akiteru. I shouldn't let it become a habit.”

Akaashi chuckles, one of his hands wraps around Kei’s wrist and guides him to a little stool. “Do you want some hot cocoa? It's cold outside.”

“You don’t have to, it’s not that bad,” Kei says, and then feels Akaashi’s warm hands wrap around his, rubbing the cold out and the man's sharp eyes scrutinizing his face. “Ok.” And without thinking raises their joined hands to blow a warm breath on them. Akaashi's fingers are so long, so delicate.

Kei looks up, Akaashi is blushing a pretty, rosy pink, smiling soft and wide, after everything, it's frighteningly easy to stretch up and place a short little peck at his lips. 

It’s easy to feel comfortable like this, even the little voice in his head that’s usually telling him how Akaashi’s in love with someone else is quiet -it’s quiet  lot lately, Akaashi barely ever mentions Bokuto anyways-.

The setter leans his forehead on Kei’s. “Thanks for coming.” He says and then he turns around to begin making the hot cocoa.

“What were you doing before I got here?” Kei asks, curiosity suddenly piqued. The dark-haired man is quieter than usual and it’s barely eight pm.

Akaashi hums, long, elegant hand stirring the cocoa. “I had that class today.” He says, and Kei knows just which one it means. “It left me very sore, I had laid down for a nap when you rang the bell.” His voice is low, somehow toneless, he wonders if it’s just exhaustion or something more.

“I’m sorry,” Kei says. “I’ll let you rest in a bit.”

“No, it’s fine, it’s lonely here when mom is away.” Akaashi pours the warm drink into two mugs and, wincing, hands one to Kei. “Come on, let's go up to my room,” he says, carefully picking up the succulent.

“Are you ok?” Kei asks, noticing the man's discomfort and the way that Akaashi grips the cup on his right hand as he follows him upstairs. “Did you get hurt?”

The room that Akaashi guides him into is sparsely decorated, with a slightly messed up bed in the center -no doubt form where Kei woke him up, god, he’s imposing, he really shouldn't have come- and a neat desk. Akaashi’s Fukurodani jacket is hung on the side of a large wooden dresser.

The setter places his mug on top of his nightstand and the little plant on his desk, then he lets himself fall on the bed, wincing as he tries to roll his shoulder. “No, I’m just bruised.” He says. “It happens when trying a new position. My thighs are the same.” 

Kei takes a sip of the cocoa -which is creamy and perfect, and Akaashi has to stop being so perfect or Kei is going to explode - and sets the mug beside Akaashi’s, leaning closer to him. The bruised shoulder turns out to be the one that his sweater actually covers, so he tugs at it to slide it over.

The purple splotch covers most of the front of Akaashi’s right shoulder, it’s not swollen, or anything, just dark purple and blue like a little constellation on the other’s creamy skin. He has no idea what he’s doing, but Kei rubs a hand over it in a way that he hopes is reassuring. “How did you even get this?” he asks. “Did you switch to martial arts or something?” He says, retrieving his mug with his free hand, taking a sip from it.

Akaashi actually laughs. “Very funny, but no.” He pulls out his phone and fiddles with the screen for a second. “ I might actually get less bruised up if I did.”

He hands Kei the phone, the screen shows Akaashi standing with his back to a silver pole, in rather tiny black shorts -stupid, perfect Akaashi- he arches his back slightly and places his right shoulder on the polished surface, then his hands rise to grip the pole right above him and he pulls.

Kei isn’t quite sure how he does it because he doubts even Bokuto has that much strength, but then Akaashi’s legs are over his head, pin-straight, and he bends in half, upper thighs clenching around the pole hard. One of his hands lets go and for a second Kei’s deathly afraid that he’s going to fall, but then it wraps around the tube right above Akaashi’s legs, he shifts his hips and lets go of his other hand.

The result is Akaashi face down, with one of his hands pulling him back towards the tube, back arched enticingly, with the pole between his upper thighs, his body almost completely horizontal, legs stretched daintily. Kei takes another sip of his cocoa, if only to buy himself some time. “How- what’s even holding you in that last pose?” He asks, unable to tear his eyes away as the video loops.

Akaashi waits for a second, and then pauses the video at the right point. “Here.” He says, pointing to the place where his thighs have their death grip around the pole. “The friction and the position of your hips holds you there.”

Kei winces just imagining. “Is that why you’re wearing a swimsuit?” He wishes he had stopped himself as soon as the words leave his mouth, here is Akaashi showing him something he clearly enjoys -enough to get bruises like that, those have to hurt- and Kei snaps at him.

But surprisingly, the older boy just rolls his eyes, playfully at that. “Actually it is.” He purrs. “And you wish you got to see me in the swimsuit.”

“As long as I don't have to get on any actual poles.” Kei is sure he has a cocoa mustache, but he can’t help but smirk at Akaashi. “I thought you were the sane one.”

“None of us is very sane.” Akaashi fake-grumbles. “And it’s really not scary, so long as you learn the techniques.”

Brushing his hand again over the bruise, Kei huffs softly. “I’ll take your word for it.”

Akaashi leans into his hand, however, and since Kei has finished his cocoa at some point, he shifts on the bed to better slide his hand over Akaashi’s shoulders. The older man is tenser than Kei initially thought, and his shoulder muscles ripple at the gentle touches.

He kind of feels bad, Akaashi has done this for him so many times and he’s never even offered. Kei wonders if it’s stepping some line. But it’s not as if they have ever set any. “Can- How should- Do you want me to try?” And he really could stand to be smoother.

Sensing his hesitation, Akaashi sets his mug down beside Kei’s and leans his head back, resting it on Kei’s own shoulder, his eyes closed and content, and Kei has this urge to kiss Akaashi's eyelids. “I would love that.” He says, voice breathy. “I can take off my top and talk you through it.”

Kei nods and turns his head to breathe in the scent of Akaashi’s shampoo.

The older man makes quick work of his top, and moves to lie flat on the bed, the expanse of his back bare to Kei’s hands and eyes. “You have to feel where the knots are,” Akaashi explains, and, as if hypnotized, Kei follows. 

Akaashi has him knead all over his shoulders and upper arms, letting little sighs and yelps out when Kei finds knots, breathing hard when he has the blond softly massage the bruised tissue of his right shoulder. Kei is sure he has slipped into some other reality where Akaashi’s relaxed state is seeping over to him.

He’s not relaxed enough, however, to not have a bit of a problem in his pants -he’s straddling a very attractive man, rubbing all over his back, it’s kind of unavoidable- and he’s also pretty sure Akaashi has felt it. 

When the setter is sufficiently turned to goo, Kei moves to lie on his back beside him. 

The light from Akaashi’s desk lamp is dim, Kei looks to the side, meeting that dark blue gaze. Akaashi is watching him with hazy, adoring eyes, smiling. “Kei.” He says.

And Kei is lost now, very much gone for Akaashi, for those eyes and his voice, and no matter what other feelings he may have, Kei is just, very gone for this man.

A hand drifting to the hem of his shirt, snaking up under it, snaps him from his thoughts, Kei’s skin sings at the contact. “Do you want to help with the ones on my thighs too?”

Kei is very sure that the current distribution of blood in his body is not very healthy.

But who could say no to that? He nods, and Akaashi’s already kicking off his pants and somehow tugging at Kei’s shirt to pull it over his head at the same time.

It turns out that the bruises on Akaashi’s thighs look even more lovely than the one on his shoulder. A beautiful contrast on his pale skin

.

.

They are sweaty, and all too warm, lying mostly naked -if only for their socks- on top of Keiji’s bedspread.

Something has shifted, they can both feel it. 

Something besides the sex, even if Tsukishima’s mouth on him is probably the most amazing thing he has ever felt.

Something.

He turns to look at Tsukishima, who is staring at the ceiling, cheeks still flushed, hair mussed and sticking up on the side when Keiji grabbed it. “Do you mind?” he says, and then realizing how that sounded adds. “That we’re not… together I mean.”

It has been bothering Keiji a lot, partly because he sometimes gets the urge to do certain things but they seem too close to being what one does in a relationship, and he doesn't want to overstep.

There's also the fact that often, he feels Tsukishima holding back somehow, and he's not blind enough to not see that the blond might be holding out in deference to Keiji's ages old crush on Bokuto. And while those feelings still exist, Bokuto is as good as lost to Keiji these days, at least compared to how they were in highschool.

And he feels so much for Tsukishima too. Maybe it's time to take a leap before he foolishly looses him.

Tsukishima’s head whips towards him, he looks at Keiji for a moment and then sighs. “Do you?”

And Keiji thinks for a moment, it is not like he minds per se, but this feels strange. Adding to his feelings for the blond, the whole situation isn't all that secret, it must look like they are embarrassed of each other, which isn’t how it is at all, at least not for him. He’s pretty out, after all, but Tsukishima…

“Only if you do?” he says, and then, like releasing a breath that he’d been holding in for too long. “I like you.”

The blond’s eyes widen, and Keiji is sure that he has just fucked everything up. He goes to sit up, eyes averted, and suddenly very warm. A warm hand on his arm dissuades him. Tsukishima’s grip is delicate, he could probably snatch his arm away if he wanted to. 

Keiji takes a deep breath, hopes his eyes aren’t too watery and looks back at Tsukishima’s pleading golden eyes, he lets himself be guided down, held by that gaze. “I can’t react fast when you say things like that“ The blond grumbles, hot breath brushing Keiji’s face. Then he takes a deep breath, looking away and at Keiji as if he doesn’t know what to do. Finally, he settles. “I like you too, thought it was obvious.” The small pout that his mouth twists into is adorable, or maybe Keiji is just too elated right now. “And if you want this to be a-“ he hesitates.

Keiji can’t help but chuckle, remembering that day, so many months ago. “A thing?” Tsukishima nods, a rare, pure smile on his face. “If you want to, it might be nice. We don’t have to advertise it or anything if you aren’t out?”

The blond scoffs. “What gave you that idea? Part of the reason why my mom is so hell-bent on getting grandchildren from Akiteru is that she knows.”

“And your dad?” Keiji asks, scooting closer to Tsukishima’s warm form.

Tsukishima's mouth twists, a gesture more sour than anything. “He thinks I’ll change my mind.” Tsukishima sighs. “But he’s cool with it in general.”

“So you want to tell people?” It’s surprising, but then again, not so much, Kei has always been reserved, but he doesn’t hide who he is, snark and all, and Keiji loves that. 

Maybe this is it, him moving on, despite whatever other feelings he may have, he knows he’s in love with the man in his bed, and nothing changes that -especially knowing that there’s something here where there was nothing there, and Keiji could never have both, he could never even ask for both, it would not be fair-.

The blond shrugs, and in true Tsukishima fashion, grumbles. “Can we just make a Facebook post? Let them think whatever. Akiteru already knows, and Tadashi won’t be surprised.”

“With the party tomorrow?” Keiji asks, happy to draw circles on the other’s chest with his fingers.

He feels the rumble of Tsukishima’s laugh under his cheek. “That way we don’t have to actually tell them.” He says.

“Even so, they are going to grill us about it.” Keiji reminds him.

Tsukishima’s hand rises to bury in Keiji’s hair “But this way we don’t have to bring it up, and we can say it's none of their business.”

And Keiji can’t help but laugh, because, really, that’s so like Kei. 

“I don’t mind.”

.

.

Akaashi Keiji is in a relationship with Tsukishima Kei.

.

.  

A long lazy afternoon with Kenma’s mom’s cooking in his belly was all he needed after a week of barely sleeping to complete a project.

Tetsuro is lying on his back, pretty close to nodding off when Kenma stiffens.

Well, not so much stiffens but jumps, and immediately holds his phone, where he’d previously been playing some aliens game, to his chest in a most dramatic way.

Of course, being the good best friend that he is, he is instantly concerned. 

But he also feels like messing with Kenma. “Chibi-chan send you a racy pic?” he says, trying to peer over the other's shoulder even though the phone is firmly pressed into Kenma’s hoodie. 

“W-we’re not like that Kuro.” Kenma’s voice is shaky, he pulls his knees up to his chest as if to shield himself.

“So you say.” Tetsuro grins, then drops his voice to a more concerned tone. “But really, what is it?”

“Nothing.” Kenma holds the phone a bit tighter. “Let me play, if you keep looking over my shoulder you’ll make me lose.”

That's a blatant lie, Kenma could play in a monkey house and still concentrate. Now it's really getting mysterious. There are few things Kenma doesn’t tell him. “Ken.” he lays his hand on the other’s shoulder. “C’mon, you can tell me if it’s nothing bad, I tell you everything!”

“And I’m not thankful for that.” His shorter friend says, shivering a little, Tetsuro knows that laying all that happened on that trip to Miyagi on Kenma may have been a bit of oversharing. 

But he couldn't talk to Bokuto about it, he was too close to the whole thing!

“I needed advice!” He exclaims, flopping back on the bed as dramatically as he can. “My best friend doesn’t trust me.”

“Advice you didn’t listen to.” Kenma rebuffs. “And I have the mental scars.”

“Oh like you haven’t kissed people.” Tetsuro grumbles, it’s not like he told him about Bokuto, or at least the details of that.

Now that would’ve been oversharing.

Besides, Kenma’s advice had been to just tell everyone how he felt and Tetsuro has no idea how he feels, his heart feels like that one box with various strings of Christmas lights all tangled up together that no one ever dares to try and detangle.

Kenma snorts. “I haven’t ever been in some kind of kissing Pokemon hunt, that’s for sure.”

As soon as the setter sees Tetsuro leaning back n the bed, he carefully pulls his phone away from his chest and unblocks the screen. “Oh, so it’s something from Facebook!” Tetsuro exclaims, diving for his own phone that’s charging on the nightstand.

“Kuro no!” 

But Tetsuro is faster and has longer arms, he scoots back and stands on Kenma’s bed, keeping his hone out of the other’s reach, he opens the app in his phone. Wondering if he’s going to have to dig too deep, they have basically the same social circles.

He doesn’t.

The post in question already has like fifty comments -most of them from Hinata and Kageyama-.

Tetsuro stops, reads the text on the little banner, scrolls down, reads three comments then comes up and reads it again.

Akaashi Keiji is in a relationship with Tsukishima Kei.

25 minutes ago

Maybe it’s a joke? Maybe one of Tsukishima’s teammates has his phone? Maybe it was a dare?

But the blond was supposed to come in for Akaashi’s birthday get-together tomorrow, what-if he showed up early, what if-?

He scrolls down to the comments again. Ready for one to be Tsukishima in a murderous rage or Hinata bragging.

Kageyama Tobio:  How the hell? This is a joke right, Hinata?

Hinata Shouyou:  Why’d you tag me Bakageyama, I showed it to you!

Kageyama Tobio:  Because you obviously took Tsukishima’s phone! Someone as cool as Akaashi wouldn’t date him!

Hinata Shouyou:  Akaashi was the one who posted it, idiot! And I haven’t seen the French fry since yesterday.

Tanaka Ryuunosuke:  OHHHHHHHH NOYA.

Nishinoya Yuu:  OHHHHHH! But it might still be a prank.

Tanaka Ryuunosuke:   NO, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND NEE-SAN WENT TO TOKYO TODAY, WITH OUR LITTLE KOUHAI AND HIS BRO!!!

Nishinoya Yuu:  :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O :O 

 It continues in that vein until there’s a comment that completely melts any and all hope from Tetsuro’s bones.

Tsukishima Kei:  B)

After which a whole new comment war between most of Karasuno starts. 

Kenma is staring at him, big cat-like eyes sharp, his smaller hand comes up to grasp at Tetsuro’s wrist and slowly, ever so slowly coaxes him to sit on the bed again. He hesitates for a second, before pulling him down further to have his head resting on the setter’s shoulder.

After what feels like an eternity, Tetsuro feels like the shock has washed out enough that he can speak. “I mean, I called it.” He croaks. “Ever since that party in August I knew.”

Tetsuro wishes he hadn’t, it’s like he was watching a train hit him in slow motion.

“I know,” Kenma says. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, Tsukki never liked me like that anyways.” He takes a deep breath. “He made that very clear.”

“Kuro,” Kenma says, voice low and full of concern.

“’m gonna be fine.” He says, burying his face in Kenma’s shoulder, breathing in the familiar scent calms him down somehow. “We should worry about- Oh, Bo!”

He has been moping fr like fifteen minutes at this point, but when he lifts his phone, but no new messages are blinking up at Tetsuro, he strains to remember whether Bokuto has practice tonight, but comes up blank.

FROM: ME -22:32

Bo, where are you?

Are you OK?

If you haven’t, don’t open Facebook.

Please.

I’m coming.

You’re home, right?

He gives it ten minutes waiting for an answer, Bokuto’s house is not close to his by any means, he doesn’t want to be halfway there and then have to turn back to go somewhere else. 

Without a reply, Tetsuro decides to fuck all and gathers his stuff, if he’s not there he’ll just cuddle up to the dog. 

Distantly, he knows he’s fixating on Bokuto and how he might be affected by this because he doesn’t want to deal with how he feels about it. He is also aware that his chest hurts and he’d probably have to get that checked out if he were older. 

Fuck.

Kenma lets him go.

.

.

Already in his car, a reply arrives.

FROM: BO THE BRO -22:45

Home.

Meet you outside.

.

.

They end up at Tetsuro’s dorm room, curled up in his bed, laptop turned on, and playing that one movie Closer that always makes Bokuto cry.

The room is slightly chilly from the shitty central heating, making the little hairs in Tetsuro's arms stand on end. They start out in individual blankets, but at some point, Bokuto starts whining about being cold, and although he knows there's no way that's true, Tetsuro slips out of his own and into the owl’s, very aware of the fact that Bokuto is probably one of the warmest people to cuddle with ever. And grateful for it too.

And then there’s no booze, or sex because it all might just make it worse, “The blower’s daughter” plays over the last scene of the movie, Bokuto sniffles and Tetsuro curls up around him and cards his fingers through his hair, pressing his lips to the nape of Bokuto's neck. Murmuring softly how great he thinks the other is.

And they both pretend it’s because of the movie.

When Tetsuro leans down to pull the extra blanket over both of them, Bokuto long since asleep, he does so feeling grateful that Bokuto reacted so sedately, he had expected more fuss, maybe a few more instances of breaking into a run unexpectedly. But his friend was just quiet and crestfallen, seeking comfort where Tetsuro could provide it.

Maybe he’s growing up.

Maybe they all are.

Tetsuro curls back up around Bokuto’s broad, warm back, wraps a pillow around his head, and lets himself stop thinking.

.

.

“… I mean we can always just drop by for like a second and say there’s an emergency or something.” Kuroo is saying, and he’s looking at Koutarou with those pitying eyes from last night.

And by this point, he needs that to stop. “We’re throwing this thing, Bro,” Koutarou says, trying to drag up the widest smile he can find it in himself to give him. “It’s at my house and all! It’s going to be fine! like they are now Sawamura and Sugawara, I don’t think they’re just gonna start making out in the middle of it.” That last part, at least, he really believes.

The party is not so much a party as it is a little get together of Fukurodani players and a few other close friends, just like Akaashi requested after the incident in August, there’s barely going to be any alcohol insight, and then, only for the seniors. 

Koutarou has been planning for it for like a month, and he really has no excuse to bail on his own party.

Only that despite every brave word he ever said to himself about letting things fall as they may and letting go, and knowing Akaashi definitely only sees him as a friend, his heart still just got broken.

But he still feels better when doing something, and he asked to have this Saturday off from practice last month so beating all of the hurt out into volleyballs is not in the cards right now.

Koutarou needs to do this, for so many reasons.

“Bo, you don’t have to push yourself,” Kuroo says as he pushes the shopping cart. “It’s fine, I can chaperone.”

“What are you saying bro, it’s my house.” He shrugs. “I’m, what did ya call it? Rising over this." He snorts, like he doesn't know that Kuroo is just as thrown off by this whole thing as he is. "Please pass that birthday candle.”

“Rising above it, you mean?” Kuroo grumbles, but reaches fro the ridiculously sparkly birthday candle that he knows Koutarou was pointing at n the first place. When Koutarou nods, the other sighs. “Ok, I’m with you then.” Kuroo sighs. "Just saying, you're not a shark, you won't die if you stop swimming."

“I won't get anything out of it tho', you know I got sad last night but I kinda already figured.” He pulls two packets of paper plates out f a shelf. “You know how they had those weird looks between them.”

Yes, Koutarou had sen, he had just decided not to dwell that much on it, looking at it this way, maybe he should’ve been a lot more prepared for this inevitable outcome. It had all pointed to this, after all, Akaashi slowly slipping away, Tsukishima being way easier to convince to be involved in things when the setter was involved. 

“And all the touching.” Kuroo agrees. 

The rest of the shopping trip is mostly spent in silence, they buy ice cream for themselves and that’s it.

It’s as they are on the check out line that a memory comes to the forefront of Koutarou’s mind. “Hey, Kuroo.” He says, voice almost a whisper. “Can I take you up on that trip in winter break?”

Kuroo’s brows furrow, confused, until realization dawns on his face of the promise he made to Koutarou four months ago. The dark-haired man’s face immediately softens. “Oh, Bo. Yes.” Kuroo’s hands are on his shoulders in a second. “We’re going to have the best trip ever!” he grins. “What do you think? Hokkaido?”

“Hmm I always wanted to be in Sapporo for the festival, but I wanna see the icebreaker!” Koutarou says, letting himself be swept up in the enthusiasm. “Do you think it would be too expensive?”

Kuroo shrugs. “It’s the same prefecture, and we can always share a bed to save money.”

“You're the best Bro!” Koutarou exclaims, and it’s true.

And his heart is still broken but Koutarou feels just a little bit lighter.

.

.

For the record, Tetsuro still feels like this is a massive mistake to make.

But Bokuto is set on the idea in a quiet, focused way that feels much too fragile, so Tetsuro hangs festoons and sets plates and lets the Fukurodani team do the same.

Bokuto’s little sisters help out too.

At last, where there's little enough to do, he sends them all to play in the backyard while he finishes blowing up balloons, Tetsuro needs some peace.

Everything seems normal for a second, until he remembers the elephant in the room. An elephant that grows like three times in size as soon as Tsukishima crosses the threshold of the front door, dressed like a lit professor and somehow making it look good. A soft glow to his smile that Tetsuro can bet wasn’t there before.

He really wishes he had some idea what to say. But he doesn’t, so he settles for banter. “Oh ho?” He smirks. “I thought you’d be getting in with Akaashi.”

“Usually, when I make a compromise, I follow through.” Tsukishima says, setting his bag down on a couch, looking around at the very overdecorated living room Bokuto’s family is the kind to start on Christmas decoration on the first of December- “But is there anything to do left?”

“Just hanging the banner the first years made.” He says, pointing at a small pile of canvas fabric. “But really, you two could have stayed together being lovey-dovey.”

Tsukishima shoots him an annoyed look. “Stop that. I spent all morning Christmas shopping with my brother.” He grumbles. “I haven’t seen Keiji since yesterday.”

“But Tsukki it’s the fifth! Who does Christmas shopping so early?” He says, kind of wanting to take a dig at the first name basis, in the end deciding not to since it's not like it isn't completely normal.

The bond scoffs and grabs the edge of the banner, looking up, expecting to find somewhere to hook it on. “Normal people who don’t want to be trampled by crazy people with no capacity to plan ahead.” He lifts an eyebrow. “Knowing you and Bokuto-san you probably do shopping cart races, so I don’t expect you to understand.”

“That’s because you’ve never been racing in a shopping cart going t full speed,” Tetsuro grumbles. “We could always show you what you’re missing If you’re coming up to visit Akaashi on Christmas.”

“Huh.” Tsukishima cranes his head to the side. “Probably not Christmas, New years maybe.”

Tetsuro shrugs. “Hm, then it’s gonna be next year.”

“You going on a trip or something?” Tsukishima climbs on one sofa and hooks the end of the banner in his hand to a poor nail that’s already supporting a girdle and some Christmas lights.

Tetsuro wonders here he’s planning to hook the other, but Tsukishima seems to have a plan, so he says nothing. “Yup, a bro trip, with Bo.” And it is not that he intends to make Tsukishima feel bad, or to draw attention to Bokuto's long-standing crush on the blond's new boyfriend.

It just kind of comes out that way

Tsukishima looks at him, long and hard, he looks slightly guilty, but brave at the same time. For all his snark, Tetsuro knows here’s a soft heart somewhere in there. “I hope you two have a lot of fun.” He says, sounding forlorn. “Are you going to go looking for winter sights?” His eyes avert, and he hops to another couch to finish hanging the banner without a hitch.

“Oh, Tsukki you’re here!” Bokuto yells from the kitchen door. Tetsuro turns to look at him. He’s smiling brightly with an apron and a smudge of frosting on the side of his face, no doubt from meddling while his mom decorates the cake. Anyone else couldn’t place the fragile, almost too wide, way his smile stretches. I can't believe you two! We should have gotten first dibs on the news!” Bokuto rambles to a stunned looking Tsukishima.

“We wanted to have to talk about it as little as possible.” Tsukishima pushes his glasses back. “This way was easier.”

“You’re a bad kouhai.” Bokuto grumbles

“I’m not even your kouhai.” Tsukishima shoots back. “That’s Keiji.”

Bokuto stiffens for a second, but then continues. “You’re my volleyball kouhai.” Tsukishima snorts, and he’s obviously about to rebuff, but the bell ringing interrupts him. “I’ll get it!” Bokuto exclaims, and skips over to the door.

 

Tetsuro cant see past Bokuto’s wide back at the newcomer, but he doesn’t have to, it’s enough to see the way Tsukishima’s face softens and Bokuto’s back and neck stiffen further. 

“Hello, Bokuto-san.” Says that smooth voice that Tetsuro made a deal with not so long ago. A deal that supposedly expired after the trip to Miyagi, but also one that Tetsuro can’t help but feel was broken.

Bokuto deserved at least a heads up, not just some random post.

“Akaashi! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” But Bokuto doesn’t sound bitter -Tetsuro doesn’t believe he can be bitter towards Akaashi- or sad, he just takes the setter into his arms, and hugs him hard.

And Tetsuro feels his own bitterness melt away a little when they split and he sees the relieved expression on Akaashi’s face. “Thank you.” He says, taking a step inside and looking around, eyes setting on Tsukishima, mouth stretching into a wide, sincere smile. “Hey.” He says, suddenly seeming unsure of how to greet his own boyfriend.

Tsukishima too hesitates, blushes bright pink and looks down at the floor. He stretches his hand towards Akaashi. “Happy Birthday.” He says, as Akaashi and him draw each other into an awkward but still enthusiastic hug.

It’s cute.

Fuck, Tetsuro can’t hide behind his rightful annoyance like this. Something in his chest squirms at the scene.

“Happy birthday Akaashi.” He says quickly. “Uh, I’m gonna go check on the first years.” He says, and is on his way to the backyard before anyone can say a word.

.

.

Koutarou watches Kuroo go.

He looks back at Akaashi and Tsukishima, who are now thankfully just standing closely, looking at the hallway that Kuroo just disappeared into.

This ‘rising above stuff’ thing is hard, but it's near impossible when he has to see them touching so much a tender twenty-four hours after he found out about the relationship.

Not that he’d ever say that, they’re still his friends, after all.

And he didn’t ever confess to Akaashi anyways, now that ship has sailed.

“Uh, sorry guys.” He says, hand coming up to scratch at the back of his head. “He hasn't slept much this week.”

“I see.” Akaashi says, sharp eyes trained on Koutarou’s face like he can read his mind and knows that although true, that’s not the reason for Kuroo storming out at all. “College sure has hit him hard.”

“Yeah, I’ll go get the cake, he’s probably corralling everyone back he now that the day’s star is here.” He says, clapping a hand over Akaashi's shoulder. Out of the corner of his eye, he can tell that Tsukishima stiffens.

Oh, right, boyfriend.

“Shall we wait here?” the blond asks.

“Yeah, I’ll hurry.” But Koutarou doesn’t go to the kitchen, at least not at first, he slips to the backyard where a whole improvised Volleyball match is going on despite the cold and the fact that Koutarou’s backyard is like half as big as an actual court. Mayu and Akemi are sitting comfortably beside Kuroo on the deck, all three nursing hot chocolate clearly sent back there by Koutarou’s mom. 

“You ok Bro?” He asks, sitting down beside him on the deck.

“’M fine.” Kuroo says slurping at his drink. “Just needed a sec.”

This is cagey Kuro, see? And Koutarou might push him a bit more, but they are in the worst situation for him to get all annoyed if it goes awry. “Sure. Help me get everyone inside in five?” He slings his arm around the man’s shoulders, giving them a squeeze. “I’m gonna go get the cake.”

Kuroo gives him a weak nod, still staring at the game.

So Koutarou actually heads to the kitchen this time, sneaks a couple of strawberries while his mom finishes writing on the cake and is back in the living room by the time everyone’s forming a line to congratulate Akaashi. 

The living room is a bit too festive, he admits that, birthday decorations and Christmas kind of clash. He sneaks around the throng of people, hoping to find a clear path to the center table, so preoccupied with not smearing half the cake on someone that one of Mayu's toy trains takes him by surprise. The little toy pretty much stabs him on the sole of his foot, and then rolls backward, toppling Bokuto Koutarou, professional volleyball player, currently holding a cake, right over.

For a second he feels like it’s all happening in slow motion, he tries not to flail, the cake might yet be salvageable.

And then his back collides with something solid and a pair of arms catch him around the armpits. “How do you even weigh so much?” the person grumbles. “I’m taller than you.”

Koutarou cranes his head back. “Tsukki?”

“Of course it’s me.” The blond's brows furrow. “Can you please stand on your own now, I’m going to drop you a this pace and it will only be half intentional.”

Koutarou straightens, surveying the damage on the cake, it seems fine aside from a couple of lopsided strawberries. “Thanks.” He turns to Tsukishima with a grin. “You’ll bulk up eventually.”

Tsukishima just lifts a perfect, honey-blond eyebrow at him and snatches one of the wayside strawberries, biting into it with thin, light pink lips, then he walks past Koutarou.

He walks around the throng of people and takes his seat beside Akaashi. For a second, Koutarou can, in a totally non-jealous way, appreciate how nice they look together, Akaashi looking all doll-like and Tsukishima with his smirk and his pale coloring.

-and he yearns just a little.-

The congratulations end, and they have the cake -Koutarou tears up a bit, his mom is such a great cook-. One of the first years manages to get some under his shirt and everyone gets a good laugh out of it. Even Kuroo, curled up on the couch beside Koutarou seems to be having a good time despite his earlier misgivings.

Then come the presents, Akaashi gets mostly stuff for school, binders, color pens, which ought to be very useful, his notes are almost like textbooks with how pretty he makes them. 

The highlights are a set of mittens and a scarf from Konoha -which Akaashi delights over, since he gets cold so easily-, the most impressive array of colored highlighters and from Kuroo -nerds-, and a hardcover copy f some book by some Russian author -whose name Koutarou can't pronounce- from Tsukishima.

About this last one, the blond clarifies. “The plant was from Akiteru, actually.” And Akaashi looks up at him with adoring eyes, like he’d very much kiss his blond if so many people were around. 

“Thank you.” He says.

Then it’s time for Koutarou to give him his own gift, which has really been ready for like a month. It’s nothing much. 

He stands and walks over to Akaashi with the thin, rectangular package. “I mean, you really liked it ‘kaashi.” He says, looking away, for once not too keen on seeing the other’s expression when he opens it.

Koutarou couldn't have predicted this, ok? At least not that it would have already happened by this exact date.

So he hears Akaashi pull out the wooden frame, and hears him gasp as soon as he recognizes the drawing. 

Koutarou doesn’t draw that often anymore, but during that trip, he couldn’t stop, and still, this was the best, most beautiful thing he drew then. Tsukishima and Akaashi sitting in that bench in the sun, leaning on each other like a romance novel cover.

He’s added proper shadows and highlighting and color and, really, Koutarou is pretty proud of it.

Akaashi’s eyes are wide, when he looks back at him, wide and glassy. “Thank you Bokuto-san. It’s beautiful.” He says, looking back down at it. “You have an impressive memory.”

The scene is burned into his head.

“I’m so glad you like it.” He beams, eyes not leaving Akaashi’s face even once. “I guess it’s even more fitting now, huh?”

Akaashi’s eyes brusquely shift to the side, breaking the connection. “I guess so.”

Afterward, he goes back to sit beside Kuroo, a fresh slice of cake in his plate. He leans into the other man's shoulder and, despite everything, feels really glad he gets to be a little part of Akaashi’s life.

Chapter Text

Everything is covered in white and steel gray and black-blue.

Bokuto himself is, too, aside from his tanned skin and bronze eyes. His hair is freshly bleached down to his roots and for once, not styled, but falling around his face making him look like three years younger. He’s wearing a simple, dove grey, cashmere sweater, and dark grey winter pants.

All while Tetsuro has two shirts, a sweater, and two thermal jackets on.

He is never going to understand how Bokuto’s body works.

They are in Shiretoko, one of the first stops to their ‘Bro trip’ which dubs as an escape from the city and their respective crushes who have just recently started dating. And it’s turning out quite nicely.

The boat sails smoothly through the ice-filled waters, pushing the small floating pieces to its sides, the water a deep dark grey. 

Bokuto is standing by the railing, sketchpad propped up haphazardly on it in a way that makes Tetsuro want to hold it for him lest it ends up in the sea, it would be a shame. Especially since Bokuto’s passion for drawing seems to have come back, full force.

Upon meeting in high school, Tetsuro remembers Bokuto showing him his drawings, saying he always made some time for art, but as time passed he lost interest. He made a starter position and Akaashi came into the picture and at some point, Bokuto stopped drawing formally, if ever, he would draw Akaashi in napkins or doodle on the corners of his notebooks, but that was it.

Since the trip they took to Miyagi in September, he started getting back into it, and since he and Tetsuro got in the bullet train bond out of Tokyo, he hasn’t stopped. Right now too, he’s so absorbed in the -most desolate- landscape that he doesn’t notice Tetsuro snapping a picture of him.

@ LOVEBIRDS AND THE BROS

FROM: ME-12:45

**image attached**

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t feel the cold. 

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI- 12:47

Is that a single layer?

How cold is it again?

FROM: ME-12:49

Exactly 0 Cº, last I checked.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI -12:49

Please don’t let him catch a cold.

And put something under the sketchpad.

FROM: ME-12:53

HE REFUSES!

 I’m wearing his jacket on top of mine because he didn’t even want to bring it on the boat.

...and I was cold.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI- 12:47

…are we sure he’s not some sort of Yeti?

Tetsuro looks up at his friend, a chuckle already halfway up his throat. All he really needs to look like a yeti is some fur.

Not that Bokuto would agree to wear anything, Tetsuro tried to get him into a jacket for like two hours this morning only to be rebuffed. “Hey Bro!” He calls, taking a couple strides towards him. The former ace barely jumps, despite how concentrated he was. His hand grips the sketchbook as he turns towards Tetsuro. “C’mon, let's take a pic, I wanna change my Facebook profile.”

“Sure Bro!” Bokuto grins, arm coming up to pull Tetsuro close by his shoulders -or the many layers over them-.

The picture turns out pretty nice itself, they have their arms around the other’s backs. The few strands of hair that escape Tetsuro’s beanie point in about every direction, but he has that proud, half-smile on his face that makes him look all dangerous, and Bokuto is grinning wide, sketchbook in hand, turned towards the camera to show off the surprisingly realistic depiction of drifting ice in an endless lonely sea.

Maybe Tetsuro has eyebags that are just a bit more pronounced than usual, maybe Bokuto’s cheeks are not quite as round as they were a month ago. Maybe both their hair is completely unstyled and without his roots Bokuto looks just a tad pale.

But it’s as happy a picture as it can be.

Tetsuro looks at it for another second before noticing that Bokuto is again sketching the water.

@ LOVEBIRDS AND THE BROS

FROM: ME-13:15

***attached image***

.

.

 

Winter is quiet for Kei, he trains where he can, gets snowed in a couple of times, after the twenty-fifth he finds himself sorting through Bokuto and Kuroo’s mountain of pictures from their trip to Hokkaido -eight hundred and twenty-seven in total-, and fields questions left and right about Akaashi from his mom and Akiteru.

He waits for new years with renovated excitement, until on the twenty-sixth, as he leaves for a joint training day with Dateko, he checks his messages to find a very worrying one from Akaashi

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI – 23:43

My mom won’t be here on new years, and she said she doesn’t want us alone at home.

I think she’s going to call your mom.

Just a heads up.

As Kei is not a person who likes to have his phone stuck to his hand, by the time he reads this, he’s halfway to Dateko, far enough from his mom that it doesn't make much of a difference -it probably wouldn't anyways-. He wonders about shooting her a text, but that’s probably not going to help either.

He waits for a text or something from his mom -or hell, even from Akiteru- all day, but nothing comes, and by the time he arrives home after practice Kei’s on the edge of an anxiety-induced mini-meltdown. After all, while he didn’t lie about his parents being -mostly- cool with his sexuality, there’s still a big leap from that to arranging stuff so he can meet with his boyfriend, Kei can just hope the conversation went well, he hasn't actually met Akaashi's mother as she's never home, but she seems nice enough from the stories he tells.

Still, when he opens the door, nothing odd greets him, just the scent of sweet and sour pork wafting from the kitchen, practically dragging Kei by his teenage boy stomach. “I’m home!”

“Oh hi, baby.” His mom’s blond head peeks out from the kitchen doorway. “Dinner is almost ready, go freshen up.”

He rushes upstairs for a quick shower and a fresh change of clothes. Maybe his mom had sounded a bit too cheery.

When he comes down Akiteru and his dad are already sitting on their places on the table, dinner smells delicious, Kei slides into his chair and hopes this is all a happy family night that is not going to include any embarrassment. 

“So, Kei.” His mom starts and Kei braces himself. “Akaashi-kun’s mom contacted me today.” She says, as if it’s the most casual thing in the world, she turns to Kei’s father. “She’s a wilderness photographer, how nice is that?”

His father’s face looks like it’s made of stone when he replies. “Very.”

“Anyways, apparently the boys were planning to meet up in Tokyo for new years, but she won’t be around that week so…” she trails off and Kei’s dad gives a long-suffering sigh. “We were wondering if Keiji-kun could come stay here for new years instead? if it’s ok with you dear?”

And Kei knows that sugar-sweet tone, it’s the one that his mom uses when she’s telling her husband about something and just doesn’t want to look like she’s going ver his authority to him and Akiteru. Hizashi sighs again. “I’m not opposed to it, if Kei promises they will behave.” He gives him the look out of the corner of his eye.

Kei knows what he means, but his room is right beside Akiteru’s and the walls are thin, he’s not going to risk that, nor would Akaashi. “We can behave dad.” It’s clear by now that no one is asking, his mom has been needling him about when she’s going to be able to meet Kei’s boyfriend since the Facebook post, and after she learned that Akiteru met him… well, let's just say that it’s better that they meet quickly now.

His dad is probably just going to grumble and lock himself in the study anyways.

Whatever, Kei was looking forward to new years specifically to see Keiji. He’s not big on shrine visits or anything, but after he had to go back to Miyagi less than forty-eight hours after they got together, reality actually hit him.

His first actual relationship.

A long-distance relationship.

He had missed Akaashi before, don’t get him wrong. Somehow the man’s company did not make Kei exhausted. But now that he’s actually allowed to want things -and though Kei would never ever admit it to anyone’s face- he really does long to have Akaashi beside him, to talk and cuddle, and rub each other's sore muscles and-

Great, now on top of being a sap he’s turning into a pervert too.

.

.

Despite the view being astonishing by any standards, Koutarou does promise himself he’ll come down here in autumn at some point in his life.

Its new years eve and Noboribetsu is just as cold and snow-covered as Shiretoko was if not more, the Jigokudani, the valley where the famous hot springs have their origin is imposing in all of its white glory.

He’s currently sketching one of the sulfur ponds while Kuroo and some other people in the group wander around taking pictures.

Koutarou blows a strand of hair away from his face, and continues sketching. He feels... he’s not so sure how he feels, it’s been like this ever since Akaashi’s party. Throwing himself into practice extra hard has helped, and maybe, every day that passes he thinks about his former setter less, at least in a romantic way.

It’s not that he’s sad, he just… ugh, feels all introspective. Like since this trip began he mostly wants to draw whatever catches his eye, he's almost out of pages in his sketchbook, and Kuroo is worried, he can see the mama hen in him surfacing.

Not that he is handling things well. As far as Koutarou can tell he’s moping in a very specific way that includes finishing all of his assigned reading for the rest of the semester -up to March- and getting extra credit in things that he doesn’t even need extra credit with University volleyball on top.

At least his grades won’t suffer, but Koutarou wonders how long he can go reading articles on his phone at night when he thinks his travel partner is sleeping, before he up and passes out or gets a fever -like Hinata last year- or something.

His sketch is almost done. Now he’d like to add a bit of color but he looks up and spots Kuroo walking into a copse of trees.

Maybe he can ease things a little.

This whole thing is lame and so not like him and Kuroo. 

So Koutarou slips his hand back in a glove, shoves the sketchpad in his backpack and grabs a fistful of snow from the floor beside him, he races as quietly as he can -which is not much, really, thankfully the layer of snow on the ground manages to muffle most of it- towards the copse of trees.

Kuroo doesn’t notice him, he is looking up at the branches of the trees, nose and cheeks tinged red from the cold, hair bunching wildly under the beanie he wears, Koutarou almost stops himself, to admire the scene.

Only the face Kuroo’s making hurts a bit and he wants it off.

So he swings. “Think fast Bro!” he yells just as the snowball hits Kuroo right on the shoulder.

Kuroo looks surprised for a moment. “Bo, you-“ And then his expression goes dark and mischievous, he kneels to the ground and grabs a fistful of snow. “You’re going down!”

And Koutarou kneels down too, grinning more sincerely than he has in weeks, grabbing as much snow as his hands will allow.

.

.  

New Years diner is not as awkward as Keiji feared.

While he was a bit reluctant when his mother carted him off to Miyagi like a three-year-old, he concedes that Tsukishima’s mother is an excellent cook, the evening meal she serves everyone is, of course, far better than anything Kei and he could have cooked on their own, alone in Tokyo.

“You’re going to university next year, aren’t you Akaashi-kun?” Tsukishima’s father asks, his voice stern. 

He’s the only one who doesn’t seem too welcoming, but he hasn’t been anything less than polite, so Keiji doesn’t mind much. “Yes.” He says. “I’m hoping to get into Tokyo University.”

The man’s eyebrows rise, and he looks so much like Kei for a second that Keiji has to blink. “That is a very good school, what program?”

“Literature, Tsukishima-san.” And it’s not the right answer, the man’s expression sours.

“I see.” He takes a sip from his glass of wine, turning to look at Kei, who has been sitting, ramrod straight, pushing his food around since this all began. “You’re planning to join him in Tokyo aren’t you, son?”

The blond shrugs. “Tokyo university has an amazing history program.” He says stiffly. “And I have the grades, it’s not a stretch.”

The older man's frown deepens.

“Kei, stop stringing your dad along.” His mother chimes in. “I’m sorry Akaashi-kun, this son of mine never gives us a straight answer, it’s like he wants to rile his father up.”

Keiji swallows. “Well, Kei still has time to decide.” He says, noncommittally “Even I haven’t sat my exams yet, I'm sure he'll have a more solid plan by next year.”

Across the table, Kei smiles at him, and so does his mother. “You play volleyball too, don’t you?” she asks, and as if she has worked some magic over everyone at the table, the tense ambiance dissipates and they finish dining while making small talk and nothing more, it helps that Akiteru has finally decided to tell his family about his girlfriend, so the conversation often deviates toward that topic.

-Kei definitely wasn't kidding with that wedding commentary.-

Once the fireworks end, he and Tsukishima go up and get ready to sleep, Tsukishima’s mother has laid out a futon beside the blonds bed. Keiji uses it for about half an hour, just until ten minutes have passed since the light of the hall got turned off and Tsukishima heard the door to his parent's room click shut.

“Come up here?” Kei’s voice calls out in the darkness. Keiji complies, he trusts the other to be rational about all this, his brother is like five meters away. 

And Kei gets embarrassed way too easily for that.

He slips into the already warm bed, finding Tsukishima turned to his side, arms ready for Keiji to curl up in. “I’m sorry, my dad is a bit…”

“Judgmental?” Keiji burrows deeper into the warmth. “I think it’s alright. He’s worried because you won’t let him know what plans you have.”

Tsukishima huffs. “I don’t have plans.” He says.” Why is that so hard for people to grasp.”

“Because you’re not the kind to not have plan’s Kei,” Keiji says, hand coming up to brush at his boyfriend’s face. “Is something wrong?”

“No, I just…” He shakes his head. “There are a lot of options, my parents want me to stay in Miyagi. I’m not sure I want to, for now at least. And since I won’t make a decision, dad likes to imply I’m going to run away to any college that anyone mentions in front of us. I think he’s trying to get a rise out of me.”

“Well, you had to have inherited that from someone.”Keiji whispers, slipping a hand over Tsukishima’s middle. “You really don’t have a preference?”

Tsukishima lets loose a large sigh “I like Tokyo. It’s not far by bullet train and…” He pauses. “It’s where the best programs are for what I want. But I know dad is going to get huffy, and mom will get sad. I was the same when Akiteru left.”

“Really?” Keiji tries to keep any inflection out of his voice. Nevermind that Tsukishima going to Tokyo for college would make him very happy, they haven't talked that far ahead and he doesn't want to put undue pressure on the other when this is already a tender subject.

“Yeah, he didn’t come by much either.” Kei sighs, and Keiji pulls him close. “It was kind of my fault too.”

“So you feel guilty for causing that again.” At the nod against his shoulder, Keiji presses a small kiss to the other’s collarbone “Why was it your fault?”

“Oh, that’s-“ Tsukishima pauses for a minute. “It’s a long story, don’t you want to sleep?”

“If you do,” Keiji says, sensing some hesitation still. This is important. “But if you want to tell me, I’m all ears.” he leans back, presses a kiss to the other's nose, and then burrows down again, leaving the ball in Tsukishima's court.

There’s a moment of silence, Keiji breathes in the scent of Tsukishima’s skin, and just as he’s about to close his eyes and try to drift off, the blond begins talking.

And he talks, and talks.

.

.

 

They get back to the hotel thoroughly soaked and shivering, but his belly hurts from laughing so much and he’s sure Kuroo’s does too. So the whole thing was worth it in Koutarou's book.

The sky is growing dark by the minute outside. “Hot spring first?” Kuroo asks, peeling his sodden clothes off layer by layer. “Or food?”

Koutarou thinks for a second. “I might pass out in the hot spring if we don’t eat first.” It has been a long day and his stomach has been growling since they got on the bus after their snowball fight.

Kuroo snickers. “Ok, Bo. But I can’t promise I won't fall asleep at the hot spring.” He says, bringing a towel to try and dry off his head as much as he can. Muscles rippling.

After everything, in order for the trip to actually fit their budget, Kuroo’s suggestion of sharing a bed ended up being more of a necessity, especially with the fact that they are traveling in a popular tourist season to visit a bunch of landmarks.

Still, so far it hasn’t been awkward, since most of the places they visit are so touristy few people really bat an eye at them sharing a room like this. Neither of them really minds that they all think they are a couple, after all, it’s not like this and that hasn’t happened between them before.

So far the trip has been surprisingly PG, Koutarou muses, but as his eyes slide down his best friend’s toned and most definitely very attractive body, he wonders if that isn’t just because they both were too distracted and introspective.

Koutarou definitely isn’t now. 

He shakes his head, instead of reaching for another towel to dry off his own hair. “I can carry you up.” He mumbles, eyes averting from the other’s body. “If that will get you to sleep.”

“Uh?” Kuroo asks, apparently not having heard. “Did you say something?”

Koutarou sighs, he’s not about to spoil the mood. “Just that I have the guns to carry you up.” He grins. “Don’t worry bro.”

“Oh ho? I'm not as light as A-“ he cuts himself off. “I’m not that light, you might have trouble.”

Koutarou smirks. “Really?”

“Wanna test it?” Kuroo says, taking a step forward and getting in his face. 

“Sure Bro,” Koutarou says, very much aware of how cocky his statement is. “Loser does laundry.” He picks up a dark red sweater and pulls it over his head, eyes meeting Kuroo’s stunned ones.

Oh, Kuroo’s going to lose.

They make their way down to the hotel’s tiny restaurant for a New Year’s dinner that turns out a lot better than either expected.

Or maybe they are both that hungry, Koutarou scarfs down a plate of what seems like an endless amount of meat then still has room for more.

At some point he catches Kuroo staring at him, fondness painted all over his face. His fingers itch to draw it. “You wanted some?” he says instead, mouth still stuffed with meat.

Kuroo chuckles and says no.

They head to the hot spring, racing each other through the couple f meters of chilly air between the door of the dressing rooms and the actual pools. Everything is surprisingly empty, with just a couple other patrons relaxing along the row of stone carved pools.

Everyone’s probably looking for fancy places to do New Year’s toasts or dinner.

It’s so much better, Koutarou lets himself groan as he sinks into the scalding hot water, feeling how his muscles, stiff from the cold loosen up with every second he spends inside. Kuroo drops in beside him with a similar groan, he’s close enough for their shoulders to be touching, and here they do, Koutarou feels his skin tingle. 

Koutarou stretches, arms coming up and back. “Why don’t we go to hot springs more often bro?” he groans. “This is heaven.”

“’Cause we live in Tokyo.” Kuroo grumbles, face all flushed from the heat. “But this trip is the best idea we’ve had.”

“And we’re only halfway through.” Koutarou agrees, head lolling back further. “I’m so happy to be here with you.” And that much is true, -whatever else he feels- Koutarou wouldn’t have this any other way.

“So am I, Bo.” Kuroo says, voice deep and dark “You- We’re amazing.”

And Koutarou is so relaxed, so content, that he just lets his head drift to the side and land on Kuroo’s shoulder. They stay like that for what feels like an eternity, soaking until their fingers prune up. It’s not until someone clears their throat that Koutarou opens his eyes to find one of the hotel employees standing awkwardly in front of them. 

“I’m sorry to disturb you, dear patrons, but the hot spring closes at eleven for today.” The man says, carefully looking away. “It’s half-past eleven, I hope you understand“

Koutarou looks around, they are the only ones there. 

“Of course, we’ll be out in a minute.” Kuroo says, and the employee promptly leaves.

They step out and dry off, getting into underwear and robes only, as not to have their hair dripping on to the clean clothes they wore for dinner. As they are about to step out of the changing room Bokuto remembers their earlier bet. “Hey, Tetsu. Hold on.” He says, eyes gleaming before dipping down to quite literally sweep the man off his feet. Kuroo barely manages to get his arms around Koutarou’s neck in time. “You’re doing the laundry.” Koutarou says, smug grin all but plastered to his face.

And he takes off running.

Truthfully, Tetsuro is heavier than Akaashi, and Koutarou is out of breath after carrying him up a whole two floors to their room.

But hey, he won. 

Kuroo grumbles a bit, smiling still, as Koutarou sets him down in front of their door. He pushes open the door only to be met with a surprising sight. 

A small cart has bee left inside their room, with two flutes of champagne and a couple of chocolates. 

Kuroo steps forward and picks up a card from beside the flutes. “To our honored guests, a complimentary New Year’s gift. We hope you had a most satisfying stay here at- How cool is this?!” Kuroo exclaims, taking one of the flutes and his chocolate in hand and flopping down on the bed.

He looks like a kid all excited like this, Koutarou takes his own flute, sniffing the contents, and then letting himself fall right beside Kuroo. “Like you said.” He smiles at the man. “best trip ever.”

Outside, fireworks start to go off. Both of their families have received their respective greetings already. Kuroo turns towards Koutarou and their eyes meet “Happy new year Bo.” He holds out his flute, voice full of emotion.

Suddenly Koutarou has to swallow around a humongous knot at his throat. He manages though “Happy new year Tetsu.”

Their glasses clink, they both down the champagne n a single swallow.

And then Kuroo is on him, there’s not a moment to question, no hesitation on either side. The college student’s lips are insistent on Koutarou’s, his thighs settle on either side of Koutarou’s hips, his hands burying in Koutarou's white hair.

There’s nothing else to do but kiss him back, grip at those thighs hard, lean into the pull of the other’s strong fingers.

Koutarou wants this so much.

He sucks Kuroo’s tongue into his mouth, hard, enjoying the noises that this draws from the other man, his hands seek the knot on Kuroo’s robe and undo it easily, the garment slips off of his wide shoulders, complimenting the tanned skin underneath.

Kuroo’s face is flushed when they part, he’s breathing hard like he’s just run a marathon, but Koutarou can’t quite judge, he’s in much the same state. Smirk widening, the dark-haired man makes quick work of Koutarou’s robe, then leans down to bite at Koutarou’s collarbone, hard enough to bruise, he knows.

This continues, all the way down his abdomen, but who cares, they are going to be in winter clothes all week. Koutarou can only grab at Kuroo's hair, making even more of a mess of it. He’s about to reach the waistband of Koutarou’s boxers when he stops abruptly. 

His eyes, that haven’t left Koutarou’s for a second turn pleading, then his whole face flushes even more. “Bo, do you- Did you bring any lube?”

He looks at Kuroo, all messy hair and tan skin and so handsome. “In my bag.” He answers. And Kuro all but leaps to it, face still burning.

He comes back red-faced, shoulders slumping in an insecure way that’s so not like him. “So? You up for it Bro?” Kuroo says, still flushed and not meeting Koutarou’s eyes.

Through the all too loud beats of his heart, Koutarou wonders how Kuroo can manage to look both adorable and so terribly hot at the same time. “In what universe would I say no? C’mere.” Koutarou asks, arms reaching out for the other man while Kuroo slides up his body again and captures Koutarou’s lips with renewed vigor.

The kiss is extremely messy, all spit and sucking, positively obscene. Kuroo manages to get rid of Koutarou’s boxers without so much as having to break the kiss, prodding and pulling at him to lift his hips. Then the dark-haired man lets his own body fall to the side, pulling Koutarou long with him as he slides out of his own underwear.

Koutarou can’t help but stop him then, he has to let his eyes trail over the other man’s body, drinking It all in.

 Kuroo is so-

He kissed him again, hands wrapping around hips, pressing bruises into Kuroo’s hipbones as he bucks, flush against Koutarou’s body. “Fuck, Bo.” The man growls, turning them over again, straddling Koutaou, their erections pressing together as they rut against each other.

Blindly, Koutarou reaches out for the lube, but his hands don’t find the bottle, it’s not until he hears the wet sound of the bottle being squeezed that he realizes Kuroo’s grabbed it and already has his fingers coated in it.

They break apart for a second, Koutarou observes, mesmerized as Kuroo’s cheeks go even redder, he bites his bottom lip ash he reaches back and Koutarou can tell it’s probably been a while by the way he flinches. “You’re too hot.” He says, reaching up to pull the other man closer, hand stroking softly over his cheek, sliding down to brush over Kuroo’s wet lips, playing with the soft flesh, Koutarou watches, mesmerized when Kuroo’s tongue comes out to lick at his thumb in a way that makes his heart stutter.

His other hand slides down to wrap around Kuroo, stroking gently, building up a rhythm that takes Kuroo moan softly, needy. “It’s Ok,” Koutarou whispers against his skin. “You’re doing so well Tetsu.”

Kuroo’s eyes fall closed, his hand speeds up, and Koutarou can only whisper to him, he can only watch, mesmerized.

After a couple of minutes, the dark-haired man pulls his hand back, he steadies himself on top of Koutarou, flushed and quivering slightly. Koutarou feels his own erection brush against the wet cleft of Kuroo’s ass. And he can’t help but groan.

Their eyes meet, and for a second Koutarou wants to ask if it’s enough if Kuroo is sure, he’s not small and he’d hate to hurt him. But the Kuroo reaches back, guiding Koutarou inside, so tight and warm that it feels impossible. Kuroo’s breath stutters, he winces. “Fuck baby, you’re thick.” he says as he bottoms out, eves glazed over, legs shaking around Koutarou’s hips.

“You’re so good at taking it.” Koutarou can't help but say, nudging his hips up just slightly, making the man above him whine.

“Kou…”Kuroo says, drifting off at the last moment hands spreading over Koutarou’s chest as he grinds down, purposefully, eyes soft and pleading.

Koutarou grabs the other’s hips, steadying them, then his heels dig into the bed and he thrusts up.

Kuroo howls.

So he does it again, and again, until he’s built up a brutal rhythm and Kuroo’s hands are scrambling for purchase on his chest, short nails raking paths over Koutarou’s chest.

Kuroo collapses on him, hand gliding down to stroke his own cock, quivering and whimpering, meeting Koutarou in a searing kiss while the silver-haired man feels him tighten up around him and it’s not long before he’s losing his rhythm, slamming into the other hard and coming, just a few seconds after Kuroo shoots his own release across their bellies.

Koutarou feels Kuroo take a deep breath, chest expanding almost violently. He looks down at the man’s sleepy eyes, cheek pressed to Koutarou’s shoulder, and wordlessly nudges him until he can get a decent amount of blanket over their bodies.

They can clean up later.

.

.

The morning of the second of January, Kei takes Akaashi to the train station. After two days, he seems to have forgotten all over again that Akaashi lives a fair distance away.

If Kei were anyone else, he’d be begging to keep him for a day more.

His mom wouldn’t say no.

But he isn’t like that, and he doesn’t want to come off like a crazy, clingy person, so he kisses Akaashi’s cheek as the train pulls up and asks him to text him once he’s home.

.

.

Sapporo is beautiful, they don’t make it to the festival, the schedule doesn’t allow for time, Bokuto is already getting calls from his coach asking when he can come in to practice.

It’s still beautiful.

Tetsuro takes so many photos.

And at night, when they share a bed, Bokuto steals his phone, so he curls up into a comfortable position beside the other and sleeps.

.

.

FROM: ME -8:35

It’s Ok, I found the room.

Everyone here looks older than me.

I might be freaking out a bit.

FROM: KEI -8:36

You’ll be fine.

Breathe.

And text me when you’re done.

FROM: ME -12:05

I’m done.

FROM: KEI -12:05

So? How was it?

FROM: ME -12:07

Not that hard.

I mean, hard, but not horribly.

I don’t know if that makes sense.

My brain feels slow

FROM: KEI -12:07

Good! Congrats.

Go eat something. You’ll get in.

And sleep.

FROM: ME -12:08

Videocall tonight?

FROM: KEI -12:09

Yes.

.

.

FROM: ME -15:03

Are you there?

Keiji.

FROM: KEIJI -18:56

I’m sorry, my phone died, and I had practice.

Are you alright?

Do you want me to call you?

FROM: ME -18:59

Just a stupid fight with my dad.

It’s fine, you’re busy

We’ll see each other in a couple of days for Nationals, I’ll tell you then.

Keiji is calling.

.

.

In the quarter-finals of Kei’s second Spring nationals, they lose to Inarizaki.

Kei will never admit it but he cried -just in a very dignified way-.

After all the hard work, after everything, it still isn’t enough. Kei hates feeling this dejected, rationally, he knows that only one team wins, everyone else loses. Besides the Miya twins are, if anything, even more formidable than before. Definitely not rials he feels bad losing against. Atsumu Miya’s winning grin is going to be embedded in Kei’s memory for a long time. 

When they are all sufficiently re-hydrated and everyone has taken pictures, Kei heads to the stands. He easily spots Akiteru, he and Saeko are two blond heads bobbing right in front of Karasuno’s mostly black and orange cheering squad.

Fukurodani’s quarterfinals match is still in its first set. If it were any further along he’d stay behind at floor level. But he doesn’t want to mess with Akaashi’s concentration, and besides, he’ll have a better eye on the plays from up here.

The game is close, but they are facing Itachiyama after all, so there’s nothing strange about that. Kei is on the edge of his seat for all of it, he barely even notices Akiteru and Saeko holding hands and leaning on each other like an old couple beside him. 

He cheers when they take the first set -with a dump from his boyfriend no less, he feels ride bloom in his chest at this-.

Just as the whistle sounds, he feels several bodies drop on the recently vacated bench beside him. “I told you they would be sitting over here!” He hears Hinata crow, and turns his head, expecting to find his human tangerine of a friend. Instead, an all too familiar smirk and a mess of black hair greet him. 

“Hi, Tsukki.” Kuroo drawls. Behind him, Kenma, Hinata, and Miya Atsumu slide on the seats.

An odd group but then again this is Hinata. “Kuroo-san.” He says dryly. “Fancy seeing you here, Nekoma already advanced, didn’t they?”

“Oh yeah,” Kuroo says, leaning forward on his elbows. “I’m just recording Fukurodani for Bo.”

“Oh?” Kei hums. “I guess he couldn't come after all.”

“He’s a Pro, it eats into his time.” Kuroo agrees. “You’re cheering for your boyfriend I see.”

Kei rolls his eyes. “Hard not to.” He says. “Shame we’re not facing them if they win.”

“Were you looking forward to that?” Kuroo asks with a glint in his eye.

Kei allows himself to smirk. “Sure.”

Kuroo looks ahead again, still leaning on his elbows. Without him as a distraction Kei can hear the conversation going on behind Kuroo.

“-that’s what I’m sayin’” Miya exclaims. “Yer menacing Shouyou-kun, yer not scary.”

“There’s no difference to that.” Hinata protests. “Tell him Kenma.”

Kenma, without so much as looking up from his game console, responds. “Technically there is.”

“Ha!” Miya cackles. “See, not scary. Like, blondie over there is scary.” He says, and Kei’s head can’t help but snap towards them, glowering as hard as he can, as if to prove something. “Oh sorry dude, yer like hot scary, if that helps.”

Kuroo stiffens beside him, and Kei kind of wants to lay it into that asshole, but the whistle stops him in his tracks. Shooting a last, annoyed glance at Miya, he looks back at the court.

Fukurodani doesn’t take the second set.

Nor the third.

Kei can see the stiff set to Akaashi's shoulders as they line up, he can almost see the tears that gather at the corners of his eyes. Suddenly all he wants is to go don there. He stands calmly and picks up his bag. “Nice to see you Kuroo-san,” He says to his left. “Hinata, tell coach I’m going back with my brother.”

Then he turns to Akiteru, who is looking up at him already. “See you later Nii-san.”

His brother gives him an all too knowing look. “Take care.” He says, all seriousness.

And then Saeko stands up, leans towards Kei and stage whispers. “He means use protection.”

Kei can’t be out of there faster, even if he does feel Kuroo's eyes trained on his back.

Downstairs, he waits on the sidelines, letting Akaashi have as much time as he needs to hug all his team members. The first years even give him a small gift.

Then their eyes meet across the court. Akaashi walks towards him, his pace little faster than his usual, limping slightly on his left leg, his eyes a little glassier.

Kei isn’t one for public displays of attention, but damn him if he doesn’t hug Akaashi. “We’re not facing each other after all. “He says. And though his eyes are rimmed red, he's smiling. “It’s a shame.”

“It is.” Kei says, overcome by how much he feels for the other. “Are you doing something with the team?”

“No, we’re having a leaving party but it’s on the weekend.” Akaashi responds. “We didn’t want to think today would be our last match.”

“Oh.” Kei says, a bit more pleased by those news than he’d like to admit. “So I’ll treat you to something.”

Akaashi smiles, beautiful, but somewhat nervous. “I’m not that hungry. But you can walk me home.” He pauses and then adds, in a much more hushed tone. “My mom is out of town again.”

Maybe Kei’s mind is in the gutter -it’s probably all Saeko’s fault, really- but that totally sounds like Akaashi has something planned that involves his house and the abject absence of anyone in it. The way the setter looks up at him, with half-lidded eyes and a blush high on his cheeks just hammers the idea in more.

He’s so beautiful. Kei would follow him anywhere.

“Sure” he says. And Akaashi doesn’t need any more prompting, he quickly says his goodbyes and they walk out of the gymnasium.

Outside it’s the middle of the afternoon and spring is starting, through their walk Kei notices a bunch of early blooming plants. They’ve walked silently for a few blocks when Akaashi speaks up. “I don’t think I’m going to keep playing in college.” He says, eyes firmly on the street ahead of them. 

Kei startles, but only slightly. It’s not out of place. Keiji has a firm grasp on what he wants from college, volleyball is in that list but not high enough to supersede other things. “It’s your decision.” He says. “I like to watch you play, but if you want to focus on college it’s totally valid.”

Akaashi’s head slowly turns to Kei, his eyes are wide. “You’re not telling me to try and make it work?”

A slight bit of panic courses through Kei, he didn’t mean to upset the other. “You are one of the most dedicated people I know. And I’m sure you’re not making a decision like that lightly.” He shrugs. “Who do you think I am, Hinata?”

Akaashi sighs. “I just, everyone I’ve told said to try.” He says. “I’m actually grateful, I don’t think I can keep things up to my standards, and I don’t love volleyball enough to put it above everything else.”

“You were having second thoughts?” Kei asks, his fingers brushing Akaashi’s knuckles as they walk, hoping it’s a reassuring gesture. 

“No, I just wondered if I was wasting a chance.” He reaches back, fingers tangling with Kei's for a second. Then he adds. “But I’m not Kuroo. I can’t keep that up I think it’s better just to apply myself.”

“Then that’s good, right?” Kei says.

“It is.” 

They keep walking, Akaashi’s house soon comes up in front of them, Kei wonders if he should ask -after all, maybe Saeko’s jab did get in his head- but decides to wait instead, after all, if they go in the house and Akaashi only wants to cuddle and eat, then that's just fine with him too.

Of course, he’s not mad to find out that wasn’t the case at all.

As soon as the door closes behind him, Akaashi turns around, pushes Kei against the door and proceeds to give him one of the most intense kisses that Kei has ever been part of, then, before the blond has time to recover, a dainty, long-fingered hand closes around his wrist and leads him upstairs. 

Once in the room, Akaashi turns bashful, he looks to the side face flushed. “I thought we could-“ he pauses, fingers pulling at each other in a too familiar way. “I mean since I have the house to myself If you want to-“

He looks so frazzled and nervous that Kei just cuts him off with a kiss, gently taking the other's hands in his and breaking them apart. He knows this is as much Akaashi’s first as it is his. “It’s fine.” He says, trying to sound reassuring even though his hands are very noticeably trembling.

“We can shower first if you want to.” Akaashi proposes.

Kei thinks it over, on one hand, they are sweaty, on the other, they are going to have to shower again after, well… He says as much.

“Oh, you’re right.” Akaashi says his hands coming up to hook over Kei’s neck. “How do you want to do it?” he asks bluntly.

Kei is just thinking he didn’t think this particular part through -sure he’s watched porn but…- “I-however you want to.” He mumbles, dropping his forehead to rest on Akaashi’s, he doesn’t know whose forehead is hotter.  “You know I’ve never-“

“I have-“ Akaashi looks down. “looked into it a little. I can- if you want me to?”

And that earnestness is what sets Kei’s chest on fire the way even cool and collected Akaashi chokes up with this and still manages to be the most prepared person in the room. “God, Keiji.” He says, and steals a shot kiss from those lips. “Do you have… you know, lube and stuff?”

“Under my pillow.” Akaashi says, and like a switch has been flipped, his eyes shift from nervousness to desire. He uses his grasp on Kei’s neck to pull the blond down again, effectively trapping his mouth with his own.

Akaashi tastes like salt and mint toothpaste.

One of the setter’s hands manages to tug Kei’s shirt up, and he allows him to part from the kiss only to pull it up over his head. Kei takes the moment to do the same to his partner, blood thrumming in his ears as that pale, lean chest comes into view.

His hands wander all over it, stroking at the places in Akaashi’s sides where he knows the setter is sensitive, tugging and twisting at his nipples, knowing the breathy whine that it’s going to get from him. His mouth too, licks down the other’s neck his collarbone, the soft skin of his belly. Akaashi’s hands grab on to Kei’s hair, stroke his face and his shoulders.

And Kei can't wait, he pushes Akaashi backward, gently, until the backs of the man’s knees brush the edge of the bed, and Akaashi lets himself fall on to it, propped up by his elbows, eyes trained on Kei’s face, filled with want.

Kei kneels between his boyfriend’s legs, reverently sliding his hands up the soft skin to grip at the waistband of Akaashi’s shorts, where he can already see the outline of the other’s erection straining against the fabric. Kei lowers it, careful and slow, feeling Akaashi’s azure gaze on him.

The moment his hand wraps around Akaashi’s dick, the man moans. “Kei…” And what was left of his blood elsewhere instantly in his body migrates to Kei’s groin.

Akaashi shuffles to finish getting his shorts and underwear off, but it turns into a long, frustrating process when Kei decides that he wants to hear that more and leans in to suck softly at the head. This at least, they’ve done before.

He takes as much of Akaashi as he can in his mouth, bobbing his head softly, using his free arm to keep the other’s hips from bucking up while his hand strokes Akaashi’s balls and perineum.

Kei continues until Akaashi shivers every time he bobs his head down, thighs clenching at his sides. “Kei. I think you should-“ and how rough that voice is. “I’m not going to last otherwise.”

Kei reaches under the pillow, finding the smooth surface of a bottle and dragging it out. He looks up at Akaashi, suddenly more than a bit lost. “Talk me through it? I don’t want to hurt you” he asks.

Akaashi smiles, fond and warm “Yes Kei.” And he reaches his arms out, Kei can’t help but slide up there, into those arms, lips meeting Akaashi’s, slowly pressing together in a kiss that’s more reassuring than anything else “We can do it like this, so you don’t have to worry.”

Kei doesn’t have an answer, doesn’t think he can say anything right now, so he nods as he is dragged into another kiss.

He’s still wearing his sweatpants and underwear, in between kisses, he tugs them off as well as he can.

Akaashi pulls his hand up, and squeezes a generous amount of lube from the little bottle on it. “I’m ready.” He says, and lifts one of his legs to his chest hooping it on the arm that Kei is bracing himself on.

God, he looks so beautiful.

“I guess I should be thankful for your classes.” Kei smirks as his hand travels lower, over the curve of Keiji’s ass, until his fingers are rubbing right over his opening.

Gasping, Akaashi manages to give shoot him an aggravated look. “Very.” He says. “For the videos too”

“Of course.” Kei says, feeling Akaashi’s hole flutter under his fingers. “I like those too.”

“I like you.” Akaashi says, another gasp soon follows. “And I really want you to start. One at a time.”

Kei complies, hands shaking only a little, he pushes in the tip of one of his fingers, feeling the little hole clench. Akaashi sighs, the sound soft but not at all pained, so he continues, pushing deeper, feeling the warm heat surround him. He pumps his finger in and out a few times, Akaashi whining softly into his neck. “I can do another Kei.” He breathes into his skin.

“Are you sure?”

Akaashi nods, Kei pulls out his finger and lines up another, suddenly vary grateful for how short he has to keep his nails, lest he pinches the other. There’s a little more resistance this time, but he slides in all the same, Akaashi whines. “It’s ok, Kei.” He says, quickly after Kei freezes. “Please go on.”

Kei knows -both from that his heard and his few experiments on himself- that the uncomfortable sensation isn’t so mild that Akaashi could just shrug it off. “you’ve done this to yourself?” he asks, fingers pumping in and out slowly.

“Well I dd tell you I did some research. “ the setter says, pulling his head back to look at Kei. “It’s not bad.” His cheeks redden more. “You haven’t tried it?”

“I-“ Kei looks away. “It didn’t go that well.” Embarrassed, he starts moving his fingers a bit faster.

“Hmmm- you probably were a bit impatient.” Akaashi moans. His flesh around Kei’s fingers doesn’t feel so tight anymore,  “Curl up your fingers.” He whimpers, voice almost commanding.

And Kei couldn’t not obey, the next time he pushes inside, he curls his fingers upwards, feeling fort that little spot. Until he feels a smooth, slightly harder area, when he presses it, Akaashi’s back arches, and he pants.

From then on, it’s a lot easier, Akaashi very enthusiastically assures him that Kei’s not hurting him, and Kei’s meaner side delights on making the other arch and wiggle and moan with every pass of his fingers.

He also learns that when he teases and avoids it Akaashi gets all grumpy and needy. “Kei, I’m good.” He says, out of breath, voice hoarse.

“Hmm.” Kei pretends to be thinking. “I don’t know.” He says,  softly pressing on the other’s prostate.

Akaashi pouts, precious and very annoyed. “Tsukishima Kei, if you don’t make love to me right now I’m going to flip this around.” He all but growls.

Kei lifts his eyebrows. “Really?”

“Really.” Akaashi scoffs, staring straight into Kei’s eyes. He then apparently decides to change tactics. His eyes grow wide, he bites his lip. “Please.”

Kei knows full well that it’s completely deliberate, but he’s still not going to make those eyes wait more. He pulls his fingers out, wiping them clean on the sheets, and slicks up his own, painful erection with -a probably exaggerated amount of- lube.

Akaashi lifts his other leg, allowing Kei to settle between them. His face hovering a few centimetres from Akaashi’s own. He lines himself up with one hand, using the other to grab Akaashi’s jaw and draw him into a soft kiss.

Then Kei pushes in. he feels his partner stiffen, breathing deep and hard, and he almost stops, except Akaashi’s legs wrap around him, and nudge him to press further into that tight, impossible heat.

So Kei wipes away the single tear that escapes Akaashi’s eyes and kisses him hard, pushing slowly and steadily into him. Hand coming down to stroke his hardness in an attempt to soothe him.

When he’s all in Akaashi’s panting, eyes glassy still. “Give me a second. “ he says, taking impossibly deep breaths, hands buried in Kei’s hair.

It takes a couple of minutes but the dark-haired man opens his eyes, he smiles at Kei, wide and happy. “Go on.” He says, and Kei doesn’t know if he can, he’s so hard and Akaashi’s so warm and- “I’m not going to last that long, Kei.” He says pushing up into Kei’s hand.

And Kei just gives in, he goes slow at first, trying to angle himself up to that spot while he strokes Akaashi. On one particular thrust, the setter arches up, crying out into the darkness of the room, Kei looks up at him, Akaashi’s flushed from his cheeks to his chest, his eyes are misty and his mouth is open in a perfect ‘o’.

It’s too much, he thrusts in hard, picking up the pace, half expecting Akaashi to push him away, but the man’s legs only pull Kei closer.

He doesn’t last long after that.

"Keiji!" Kei comes with a groan, lips pressed to Akaashi’s collarbone, hand still stroking the other’s cock until he too, seizes up and moans for all of the empty house to hear.

He lets himself fall to the side, arms around Keiji, holding him close.

They stay like that for what feels like an eternity, wrapped up in each other’s warmth.

Chapter Text

Koutarou isn’t too sure about this.

No one has ever really approached him for his art after all, not in a professional sense -besides, he’s no professional-, nor in a romantic sense.

Now, this guy seems to be doing both. 

He was hanging out at Tokyo Uni’s gym, waiting for Kuroo to finish his practice, sketching particularly wicked block that his best friend- slash whatever- had just pulled off. These days, some of Kuroo’s practices are even more time consuming than Koutarou’s, with the championship coming up.

-he kind of has to show up often to make sure Kuroo is not living solely on coffee and convenience store onigiri-

-so much for him being a good cook, he refuses to do it for himself-

And this guy came up, one of the team's seniors going by his uniform, with piercing blue eyes, pale skin and a blond ponytail. He leaned in, casting his tall shadow over Koutarou’s drawing, baby blue eyes glinting. “Man you're amazing!” he exclaimed and proceeded to rant about Koutarou’s drawing like he was describing something by someone who actually has some idea what they are doing.

“Are you in art? I’ve never seen you around?” he asks and Koutarou startles out of his thoughts.

“Nah, I don’t go here, I’m Kuroo’s friend.” He says, widely gesturing to where Kuroo is still practicing.

The guy's eyes dart to Kuroo. “Friend? Are you the pro he keeps ranting about?” His head cranes to the side, his ponytail of honey-blond hair brushing Koutarou’s shoulder. “You look familiar now that I think of it.”

Koutarou can’t help his chest puffing up with pride. “Bokuto Koutarou, and yeah, I am.”

Someone yells in the distance and the man shoots them a quick “I’m going!” he turns to Koutarou again. “Look Bokuto-san, my name is Miura Atsushi. I’m on my last year in this university’s art program. I’m coordinating a bit of an amateur exposition and if you have other pieces I’d be honored to have you participate. Would you mind if I ask Kuroo for your number later?”

He’s so… formal, and direct, almost reminds Koutarou of a certain someone he tries not to think about much. “Uh- Yeah! Of course! I mean you can, I don’t have that much to show but yeah man!” He’s not that sure what possesses him to say yes.

“Good,” Miura says. “Would you mind if I ask you out for a drink too?”

He says yes to that too, for what reason? Koutarou doesn't want to dwell on that.

Not at all.

.

.

BOKUTO KOUTAROU changed this group’s name to GUESS WHO’S GOT A DATE.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 21:39 

ME!

Also, I need help with what to wear.

I stalked his Instagram and

It’s this like, really stylish art guy.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO-21:40

WTF

HE SAID HE WANTED YOUR DRAWINGS!

That dog Atsushi.

Meh, he’s not picky, just wear whatever.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 21:42

Uh, he has an exposition thing too.

Bro he’s like hella hot!

I just realized I don’t have casual clothes.

FROM: ME -21:45

Just wear that thing with no arms.

The white one.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI -21:46

I agree.

He won't be able to find a fault with it.

FROM: ME -21:47

He won’t even see it.

If you’re looking to have the guy walk into a lamppost just lift your arms a lot.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO-21:49

As your friend, I’m obligated to warn you that he is a fuckboy. 

(But do wear that… top-thing, it’s not a shirt.)

Just make sure the exposition thing is legit tho’

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU- 21:39 

I guess it does show off the goods…

I’m gonna ignore how you all jumped on that one.

Well, I’m going to sleep.

See y’all at Keiji’s graduation next week.

.

.  

Tsukishima Kei has sent you a videocall request.

Usually, Keiji’s boyfriend asks before video calling. Kei is not the kind to just hit him with a call out of nowhere.

Keiji’s already in bed in his pajamas, ready to go to sleep after the very uncomfortable -for him, at least- conversation that just went on in the group chat. With everything that has been going on and the added distance, he had thought his feelings for Bokuto were fading.

Turns out they aren’t.

And it’s… gods, it’s horrible and confusing, and Keiji feels like the most despicable being on earth.

He’s in a relationship with someone he loves.

He shouldn’t be feeling jealous about this. It’s not fair to Bokuto, it is definitely not fair to Kei.

And it’s not something isolated, it has happened other times too, and every time he feels like the most selfish, inconsiderate person to have ever grazed earth. He wouldn’t change any of his choices so far, so why can't those feelings just go? There's no place for them.

Keiji sighs, fingers knotting together, cracking where his joints are a bit stiff. The familiar motion somewhat soothes him.

He clicks on the ‘accept call’ icon, curious and a bit thirsty for something to distract him.

The image that comes into view is of Kei’s desk, with a bunch of books and scattered papers. “It’s almost spring break, he says you're still studying?” he asks.

Then Kei comes into view, he’s in his pajamas too, he slides into the chair, looking at the camera, his eyes rimmed with dark circles. “I have one exam left.”

“Oh.” Keiji nods. “Make sure to get some sleep tomorrow then. You look tired.”

Kei waves him off. “It’s fine, I'll get two weeks to rest.” he sighs, eyes on Keiji through the screen, then Kei’s shoulders sag, he looks guilty somehow. “Actually I wanted to talk to you about something.”

Keiji nods, more concerned every time. “Tell me.” 

Tsukishima starts opening his mouth, then he closes it, he sighs. “I'm not going to be able to make it next week. My grandparents are coming over and dad won’t let me go.”

It takes a second for Keiji to process it. To say that he has been anticipating seeing Kei in person almost as much as his actual graduation would be very accurate, exaggerated as it sounds. “Oh.” He only manages to say that measly syllable.

The thing is, a long-distance relationship has turned out to be a lot more challenging than either of them expected, and though Keiji would not change anything, it takes a toll on him, on both of them. He remembers, for a second Hinata telling him -in one of his scarce visits to Miyagi- that they probably would rock it, both of them being the more detached type.

He knows that wasn’t said with malicious intent.

But the truth is they aren’t, not around each other, if he could see Kei every day, even if just to kiss him and do homework he’d take the chance no matter what.

“Keiji?” comes the concerned voice from the screen, and Keiji notices his eyes are wet. “I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s fine.” Keiji rushes to answer. “I mean I want you here. But I understand, it’s out of your hands.”

In the screen, Tsukishima looks at him like nothing is fine at all. “I tried to convince him. But he’s been sensitive on the Tokyo topic lately, every time I bring up going he gets mad.” He looks down. “I’ll make it at some point of the break.” 

And the way he looks up, determines but still so guilty, as if he has just ruined Keiji’s graduation, it’s heartbreaking. “Don’t worry Kei.” He says softly, the urge to soothe the other man growing by the second. “We can meet another time. You shouldn’t fight with your dad to come see me.”

“I shouldn’t have to.” Kei drops his head on the desk, golden eyes still turned towards the screen. “I miss you.” He mumbles.

Keiji’s chest hurts a little. “I miss you too.”

.

.

It’s a Saturday two days after Bokuto’s chance encounter with Tetsuro’s -well-known fuckboy- teammate.

Currently lying upside down with his head hanging off the edge of Bokuto’s bed, Tetsuro eyes the Instagram post. 

It is on Miura’s very public account that his classmates and some of the faculty follow. Ok, so the offer of an amateur exposition is legit.

And maybe it’s good that Bokuto is getting out there instead of carting himself from practice, to his room to draw, to Tetsuro's to hang out, or eat, or fool around.

There’s still something that bugs him so much, of course, he knows even Bo isn’t gullible enough to be looking for the love of his life in some guy he met two days ago and who is very obviously -even if Tetsuro hadn’t already pointed it out- very promiscuous. 

-besides, the guy is not particularly known for playing with his conquests, he’s a more direct kind of guy-

But still.

Maybe it's the fact that Bokuto is so excited over this, he’s currently checking himself out from all angles in front of his sister’s mirror, that they lugged here. 

Akaashi and Tsukishima had been right to suggest the top-thing for his date. Bokuto is currently wearing a light green version of it -because who can have that terribly skimpy thing in just one color? This is all going to be Tetsuro’s death- above Tetsuro’s only pair of light wash jeans and some random white shoes he swears he doesn’t know where he got.

“What d’ya think bro?” Bokuto says, peering at his legs for what must be the seventh time.

“Like you could sell that thing,” Tetsuro says. “But really, you look hot Bo.”

He looks like he stepped out of a movie set in a much more colorful decade than the current one.

He also looks like a walking wet dream.

“Oh, you’re the best!” Bokuto exclaims, arms going up in the air.

Yeah, Tsukishima and Akaashi were right, Atsushi’s gonna walk into a pole, or a manhole, or something.

.

.

Miura takes him to a restaurant.

Koutarou expected a club, or at least something more casual, but then again, the other is older than him so maybe this is normal with more mature people.

He’s just out of high school, what's he to know?

Most of the dinner is spent with Miura barely eating, flipping through Kotarou’s drawings and his -attempts at- paintings, critiquing them like a pro and all but gushing about how he likes them.

“You’re amazing at capturing movement, and expressions!” Miura says and Koutarou just knows he’s looking at one of his volleyball sketches. “I can’t believe you never had formal training.”

“I did though,” Koutarou responds. “When I was in middle school, until I got into volleyball in my second year.”

“So about a year?” Miura’s eyebrow rises in a way that seems too familiar to Koutarou. “You’re still much better than some people that get into the art program.”

“Oh.” Koutarou knows he’s blushing, it’s nice to her. “Thanks. So you want my drawings?”

The man laughs, deep and rough. “Of course, I knew on Thursday, I just also thought you were cute and since you accepted my invitation to a date…” he stops, then looks Koutarou in the eye. “They are separate matters, don’t worry. The exposition will take place in June, you’re actually the second person that has said yes.”

“Really?” Koutarou asks. “Is it like your graduation project or something?”

“Of a sort.” The man answers. “We agree that you’re in right? You can invite your models too if you want to.”

“My- oh, they’re just my friends.” An embarrassing amount of his drawing are of Akaashi and Kuroo, there are even a few of Tsukishima, aside from the ones from the trip they are the best, so, even though looking at a few of them still makes Koutarou kind of sad, he brought them. “But yes! Yes, I'm in!”

Miura’s smile widens even more. “Good.” He claps his hands together. “Now on to other topics.” He says, taking a bite of his dessert. “Would you like to come back to my apartment tonight?”

His bluntness leaves Koutarou sputtering, is this why he seems so interested in his drawings? “Wha-“

The man holds up a hand. “Don’t worry, our talk about the exhibition is done, if you don’t feel like it, it’s completely fine.”

“Oh sorry.” Koutarou’s arm lifts to scratch as his neck, he notes the way the man’s eyes follow the movement. “I guess I misunderstood a bit.”

“It’s fine. I see how that sounded.” He waves for the bill. “You just happen to be extremely attractive on top of being talented. So, how about it?”

Koutarou tries to sound mature and nonchalant “Sure.” He says.

They stand and walk out, Miura’s building is close by apparently. The more they walk, the more an uncomfortable, nausea-like sensation settles in Koutarou’s belly

By the time they reach the other’S building, he’s not sure at all anymore.

This might not be a good idea, he’d been attracted to this man’s bluntness and his bright eyes, but at this moment it doesn’t feel right.

“We’re here.” Miura says, looking up at the building, arm wrapping around Koutarou’s shoulders, drawing him close, lips soft on the shell of his ear and Koutarou shivers.

The other seems to take it as an invitation because his mouth seeks out Koutarou’s next.

Their lips press together.

This is wrong.

When they part, Miura is looking at him strangely. “I take it you’re going home then?”

Koutarou lets out a breath he had no idea he was holding. “Yeah, sorry.”

“Don’t be.” The man says, flagging down a cab. “I’ll text you the details for the exhibit.”

And Koutarou runs away.

.

.

On the very first day of Kei’s third year of high school, his teacher sets an all too familiar form in front of him.

But for Kei, it feels like she has just given him a form to either sign his soul or his body away.

The letter spelling out ‘first choice’ feel like they are mocking him.

He’s been saying all his life that he might go to Sendai University, if only on the rare occasions that he wants to please his father. He always knew, since the first time someone gave him one of these forms in the first year that he really wants to go to Tokyo instead.

The History department -and the Paleontology department- are marginally better in Tokyo, but aside from that, Kei always craved the independence, to really be on his own.

Not that he doesn’t love his family, he just doesn’t see himself in Sendai.

Call it a whim, call it a hunch. It's still terrifyingly powerful.

So why is it so hard to just write it as he has every year before?

Maybe that one part of him that loves to be contrary is finally rebelling against its master.

Maybe he dreads the knowing looks and the side-eyes from his dad when the man inevitably links this to Akaashi, to Kei’s predilection.

And he’d be right, Tokyo is what Kei wants for himself, but Keiji makes it what Kei is going to choose

No matter how much his father huffs and promises a new car and stuff Kei doesn’t really need. No matter how much his mother pleads and tries to talk him into staying in Sendai

Because he wants to study history in these halls but he also wants to be with Keiji, because he misses him so much it hurts. Because long-distance is killing him a little and he might be acting like a schoolboy with his first real relationship but that’s what he is.

And he doesn’t want to lose this.

Even if odds are that he will.

That he and Keiji will tire, that Keiji will meet someone that is not such a hassle to be with.

Hell, Kei wouldn’t blame him, when he decided to ignore how he knew Bokuto felt for Akaashi that night in November.

And maybe he’s ashamed of it and how he handled the whole thing, but he would never regret it, never regret Keiji.

He writes it, clear and large ‘Tokyo University’ on the first slot.

It’s what he wants, in every way.

.

.

Keiji gets lost on his first day.

The campus is large and he has never had the best sense of direction.

A quick call to Kuroo -he only person he knows in this university- solves the problem, but he’s still twenty minutes late to his first lecture.

The teacher glares at him as he slides inside the room and sets his things down in one of the few free spots.

By the end of the day, Keiji notices that being organized and on time with things here is going to need a lot more time and devotion than it did in high-school. He is already aware of several projects that he should start working on early so he doesn’t have to rush at the end of the semester.

On the way home, he wonders what Kei is doing, he started both school and practice a week ago.

Since then, they have spoken less, not that Keiji doesn’t understand.

Third-year is no joke when one is aiming for a good university and with the way Kei gets sometimes…

Keiji debates calling him, but after a second he puts away his phone and heads to the dorms, dread filling his belly for some reason.

.

.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI -3:56

I' m so sorry I missed your videocall.

I was tired and fell asleep.

FROM: ME -6:15

Don't worry, it's not a big deal.

I was tired too.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI -6:20

I'll make it up to you.

It's tonight ok?

FROM: ME -6:21

I have cram school.

Tomorrow?

.

.

Miyagi in spring is a personal affront to Kei’s allergies.

No, really, he’s fine the rest of the year, but the first weeks of spring he is a red-eyed, congested, red-nosed wreck. And of course, all of his third-year college-preparatory classes start by asking him for full papers on something or another.

He’s glad he ended up reading Demian per Keiji’s recommendation during the break. That’s one thing off his back.

But still.

All this has resulted in a very sleep deprived -because of the clogged nose he more often than not startles awake half-suffocated, when he actually has time to sleep of course-, annoyed and very grumpy Kei.

It’s really not his best version, and he tries to let people see the least possible amount of that side of him.

Keiji calls him out of the blue one day as Kei is finishing some English workshops. And he is so tired -it’s just ten pm but he hasn’t had a decent night of sleep in like two weeks- he feels like he might fall asleep while answering the call.

He almost lets it go to voicemail and then feels terrible about that.

Terrible because he and Keiji have barely talked this last week and every time they answer each other’s messages less and less. Their schedules don’t mix too well, Keiji has a lot of late afternoon classes, Kei only has the late afternoon and evening for himself and usually uses them up doing homework at that -hell, sometimes he wishes he was in the idiot duo's class, they are relaxed enough-. 

And Keiji’s busy too, he spends a lot of nights up, there’s apparently this group project where he got paired with a couple of irresponsible clowns that he’s stressing over.

So Kei answers, exhaustion be damned.

He owes himself this.

And Keiji.

“Hello. Kei?” he hears Keiji’s shaky voice, can almost see how his top lip might be trembling. “I’m sorry to call like this I just wanted to hear you and...”

Kei takes a deep breath. “It’s alright. Did something happen?”

“I-“ Akaashi sighs, Kei can hear him flop on his bed. “In a way. That group project I told you about, it’s getting worse every time. I had to ask for more time to turn in our first draft.” 

Kei can only imagine, form what he has heard about it at least. “They didn’t do any research on their own, did they?”

“No,” Keiji exclaims, frustration evident in his tone, it almost surprises Kei enough to make him jump, it’s rare for Keiji to raise his voice like that. At least when it comes to school. “No, they are lazy freeloaders and I would do it on my own but it’s- I-“

“Shouldn’t have to, I know. Have you asked the professor? Can’t you like drop the group and do it on your own or something?” Kei offers, it feels like a sensible option, Keiji could probably pull it off alone, especially without the undue stress of to deadbeats mooching off him.

“I don’t know.” Keiji mumbles and Kei can imagine him fiddling with his fingers. “If I can I will, from what I’ve heard they are doing this in every class, I was just unlucky enough to get the both of them for partners.”

“We should have gotten the luck charms back in December.” Kei says, though his attempt at being light-hearted falls flat in front of how upset his boyfriend obviously is. “Don’t let them take advantage of you, even if you don’t manage to drop the group part.”

“I know.” Keiji's voice is low, somewhat hollow. “I’m happy I managed to talk to you, I needed a break.” Kei can’t even be fully mad at the backhanded remark, it’s not like his partner is lying, he has been hard to reach as of late. 

“I’m sorry, I haven’t been easy to reach lately.” He takes a deep breath. Honesty is the best policy, right? “ You haven’t been either.”

On the other end of the line, what feels like half a world away even though it’s only two hours by bullet train, Akaashi sighs, loud and filled with longing. “I try- but you’re right, I’m not.”

There's a moment of silence then, awkward silence, unlike the one that usually fills the moments between them that Kei has so come to appreciate. Something inside of him says that this is all going in the wrong direction. In the moment of mild desperation that follows, he steps up with an olive branch, hoping it might be enough. “But I liked talking to you tonight, maybe we can make it a habit?”

Keiji doesn’t answer fr a moment. “Yeah, we should.”

They talk for a long time after that, about inane things, about important things, about Kei and the college-of-choice paper sheet.

And by the end, Kei feels just a smidge better.

.

.

Between the two of them they barely manage to meet once in April. 

Keiji gets off of the train looking terribly tired and sweaty. They are supposed to go see a movie but Kei just takes him home. He kisses Keiji asleep, trying to make up for all the lost time, all that he has needed the other lately.

The next day Kei gets up early for practice, he doesn't want to wake up his boyfriend, tired as he looks, so he leaves a note.

.

.

The world is dark and spinning.

Keiji should have learned his lesson the first time, really, he’s not made for drinking.

Now he doesn’t know where he is, his phone is about to die and for some reason he’s wearing a coat two sizes too big in the middle of summer.

He sits on the edge of the sidewalk, at least he doesn’t feel as out of control as that one time. 

And he’s dry.

He thought a night out would make him feel better, but s far it’s just dizziness and bitter drinks. He misses Tsukishima.

He misses highschool and he misses Kuroo and Bokuto too.

He’s barely talked to either of them aside from the group chat since he started college -that time Kuroo helped him to get to his first class of the semester non-withstanding- and he feels like maybe there’s a lot more he could have done to keep in contact.

A knot forms in Keiji’s throat when he realizes that thy stopped seeking he nd Kei out so much -not that he blames them, after the high wore off, Keiji and even Tsukishima realized that maybe the way they handled both the start and the news about their relationship may not have been the best- and them stopping lifted a veil of sorts, showing the truth underneath, neither he nor Kei made that much of an effort. Maybe if they had, even after the Facebook thing…

He sighs.

Some guy, whose face he can’t see too well sits down beside him. “You look like you need a cigarette.” He says, and Keiji sees the stick he’s handing him, he shouldn’t take it. 

“I don’t know how to smoke.” He says, gently pushing the hand back towards its owner.

“Want me to teach you?” the other asks, and that one part of him that threw Keiji in the fountain last year says yes.

He chokes like three times before he gets the hang of it. It’s not wholly unpleasant, though the taste is… horrible, no other way to describe it comes to mind.

Keiji's about to toss what’s left of it while the guy is distracted when he notices the discreet vibrations inside his jacket.

It’s Kei, calling him. 

Without thinking, he answers. “Hi, uh.” The other’s voice is scratchy with exhaustion. “I just got worried, you didn’t call me when you got home.”

“I’m not home yet.” Keiji answers, the words tumbling out of his mouth. “I’m still at the party.”

“Oh, ok.” Kei says, he hesitates for a second. “Are you ok?”

Found out, Keiji answers. “I might be a bit drunk.”

Part of him wants Kei to be at least a bit mad, to tell him it’s three in the morning and Keiji has things to do tomorrow. To tell him he shouldn't be drinking at some random person's house with people he doesn't even know and who ditched him two hours ago. But the blond just sighs. “Are you going home soon or should I call you when I get up for practice?” 

Annoyance, that’s all. “No, I’m going home.”

“Ok.” Kei says, voice somber and strained. “Text me when you get there Keiji, please.”

And then he hangs up, somehow, Keiji feels very, very alone.

.

.

FROM: KEIJI -3:52

I’m at home.

I didn’t want to go back t the dorm.

9:52   please get mad at me next time, I’m hungover and have a lot of things to do today.

The supermarket lines today are extra slow.

12:34  Kei?

13:59  Are you mad?

Kei isn’t mad, he’s… god, he doesn’t know, being mad would be easier than this.

He feels like he’s missing out on great things with Keiji which makes him dejected and jealous -of who or what, he’s not sure-. And of course it’s not Keiji’s fault, and Kei doesn’t want to ruin things for him by being a crazy person that doesn't respect the other's individuality. And he also can't help but feel incredibly left behind and insecure and…

Maybe they jumped into this too fast.

Akaashi is amazing to him while Kei can’t so much as feel happy for him for going out to have fun.

It’s not fair. 

Kei’s not being fair. 

He takes a deep breath and sends out a response. 

FROM: ME -14:12

Not mad, just tired.

Sleep

We can talk tonight.

Kei’s no good at hiding how he feels, this is the best he can give.

He knows it’s not enough.

.

.

Some part of him hopes this training camp will fix things. Or at least show Keiji where to start, find him some magic way he hasn't considered in the past two months to keep Kei from feeling left behind and to keep Keiji from feeling like a terrible, selfish person.

Because he’s losing Tsukishima, has been for a while and they both can tell.

While there are still good days, Keiji finds himself feeling abandoned and selfish and guilty too often now. And he's sure, whatever Tsukishima feels that ha him acting so distant, it's as ever-present as Keiji's own demons.

Maybe they didn’t think this through.

But he still does love Kei, he does, there is no contending that because it’s true.

-he does love someone else too, but that’s neither here nor there, Bokuto is lost to him and probably dating that art major or whatever-

-God, Keiji’s so selfish, what does he care? He has no right-

So the training camp is his hope, where it began, maybe he can use that thread to find his way back to Kei again. 

Only destiny has different plans, Keiji doesn’t manage to make it on Monday or Tuesday, his university obligations dragging him back every time he tried to escape them. And every day he presents excuses -however valid- he feels Kei drift away a little.

Feels that wall between them rise up again.

And Keiji can't even blame the other, it’s his own fault.

On Wednesday he manages to make it, late and tired. He watches the extra practice unfold from a corner of the gym -it’s in Shinzen this time around- until Kei finally notices him sitting there and he splits from the group.

“I didn't think you’d come.” He says as Keiji stands to follow him, he knows the conversation they’re about to have is better had somewhere outside, with clean air and less people around.

“I wasn't sure I could make it either.“ Keiji responds. Observing the way Tsukishima keeps his eyes straight ahead, how his hair, even longer now, curls around his ears in that angelic way. How he fidgets with his fingers as a distraction. “I’m sorry I haven’t been able to be here this week.”

“I know you’re busy. “ Tsukishima says, stopping in front of Shinzen’s famed hill, looking up at the dark sky. He turns to look at Keiji, expression unreadable. “I understand that, I do. But I'm not sure I can keep saying that every time.”

And Keiji knows there won’t be resistance to what he’s about to say, though he can only wish there is, if only so he can force himself to do it.

He heaves a sigh that has the beginnings of a sob inside it and grabs Tsukishima’s hand, pulling the man to sit on the grass with him. “I know, you’re not irrational, is see it too. This isn’t your fault.”

Those golden eyes are filled with impotence and pain, they are trained on Keiji’s and for a second he can’t breathe. “It’s not yours either. “ Tsukishima says softly, knees coming up to his chest, those long arms wrapping around them like he is protecting himself. “You’re great and this has been great, I wouldn't change anything but“

“You don’t think it’s working.” Keiji completes the sentence, feeling pain bloom in his chest and a knot form at his throat. “I can tell. And I… I agree. We rushed in without thinking about what our situations would mean. And I don’t want you to end up hating me, but if we go on like this it might happen. I really couldn’t take that.”

He next breath Tsukishima takes is shaky. “So that’s it,” he says, looking down at the grass between them. “With how things are right now, I can’t think of a way to fix it. I thought I could hold on for a year but...”

“I know,” Keiji says, and he feels the first tear spring free. “I really do love you Kei, but-“ He swallows. “We’re just making each other miserable at this point. Even if we want the same things.”

“Maybe if things were different.” Tsukishima agrees, back shaking. “I don’t want to lose you.”

“I’m still your friend.” As if to prove it, Keiji raises his hand and lays it on Tsukishima’s back, hoping the gesture is reassuring in some way for the other. “I want to stay your friend. If you let me. Maybe we can take a couple of weeks and give that a go again. I don't want to lose you completely either.”

“I guess that would take the pressure off.” Tsukishima scoffs, it doesn't even manage to be disdainful. “I’m still sorry for making you waste your time like this.”

“You didn’t.” Keiji drops his head on the blond's shoulder, soaking up the warmth. “I was happy and I'm glad we had those moments, it’s just that now we just make each other sad. I don’t want that for you… or me, maybe it wasn’t the right time, or maybe it’s us, but I don’t want you out of my life. This was never a waste of time.”

“I was happy too, I love you too.” Tsukishima says, voice breaking up and Keiji can’t help but wrap his arms around him and sob into his shirt, the sound so quiet in the empty hill that it's devastating. Minutes pass while they are like that and Keiji doesn’t want to let go, because he knows hen he does it’s really going to be the end.

Still, the air grows chilly, and at some point, both of their sobbing dies down.

Keiji knows he's at his breaking point, if he stays for even a second longer he'll lose his resolve and beg for them to try, to make things work, but he has to be honest with himself and he knows a year of this will end p in the two hating each other for all the promises they couldn't keep.

“I’m- I’ll get going ok?” It takes all of Keiji’s strength but he can do this. He picks his bag up and walks through Shinsen’s familiar courtyard, all the while fighting with the knot in his throat and a little voice inside him begging, pleading for him to look back or for Tsukishima to reach him, not let him leave like this.

Not like this.

But in the end, he reaches the doors, no one behind him when Keiji dares to look back.

.

.

Kei stays there for what feels like hours, rubbing furiously at his eyes when they start tearing up. Some part of him doesn’t want to move because Akaashi might come back, because he won’t find him if he does, because…

In the end, the one who comes is Tadashi, he takes one look at the way Kei’s eyes are rubbed raw and hugs him.

When they finally leave, Kei can’t help but look back at the nondescript spot on the grass one last time

 

Chapter Text

Recently, Tetsuro has been doing well, or what’s to say, better. After the end of last year and the beginning of this one were a clusterfuck of tangled feelings, the last month has been relatively decent.

Maybe his second year of college can be all of the fun things the first one kind of wasn’t.

He’s ahead enough on his studies -even for his own standards- to have just taken a rather nice trip for Golden Week with some awesome people he met in Biochem.

One of his electives for the semester happens to be a general psychology course, which takes him out of his usual haunt in the science building.

He doesn’t come to this part of campus often and the buildings are kind of confusing, no wonder Akaashi got lost on his first day. 

Speaking of Akaashi, there’s a guy walking towards Tetsuro that looks just like him -if Akaashi walked with a bowed back and was paler than a ghost, and had swollen eye bags- the man doesn’t seem to notice him until they are right in front of each other.

And then this man startles, his eyes go wide, he mutters something that sounds suspiciously like Tetsuro’s name, dips his head and hurries forward like he’s been dosed with pressurized cold water.

Tetsuro stands there for a moment, befuddled.

Holy fuck, that was Akaashi.

Looking like he got run over by a semi-truck but still, unmistakably Akaashi.

He turns back, but there’s no sign of the younger man, so Tetsuro walks to his class, an uneasy feeling growing on the back of his throat.

He can’t fully concentrate during the class, his brain keeps drifting back to Akaashi’s disheveled appearance, he’s not about to say he knows the man well, but from what memories Tetsuro has of him, he always looks ridiculously perfect even when he hs just woken up.

Huffing, he pulls out his phone, making sure the teacher can’t see it.

FROM: ME -10:14

Bo, have you ever seen Akaashi looking like

Like unkept and stuff

FROM: BBB (BEST BRO BO)- 10:25

Uh strange question.

But no

He’s like always pretty

Like he can iron clothes with his eyes.

Why?

FROM: ME -10:26

I see.

Nothing.

Existential musings.

FROM: BBB (BEST BRO BO)- 10:28

Ok Bro

You’re weird sometimes

It’s no use dragging Bo into this, not when he doesn’t know what it’s about and when his friend is finally -apparently completely- out of the Akaashi induced rut he’d been in since November.

For all Tetsuro knows it wasn’t Akaashi, or he looked like that because he spent the weekend having crazy good monkey sex with he-who-Tetsuro-refuses-to-name.

Wait, fuck.

He has his phone back in his hand in what feels like a second, rushing to Akaashi’s Facebook page.

There it is, in the little slot that so taunted Tetsuro back in November.

Relationship status: Single.

It must be a new thing, or someone from their shared friend group would’ve already informed Tetsuro -or Bokuto- in some way or other. And it completely explains why Akaashi looked like he’d just been pulled out of a basement after a month.

First break up, alone in the dorms, first year of college.

Damn, he must be having a bad time.

He would like to think that he opens his messaging app and looks up Akaashi purely because of his thirst for details -after all, the start of that relationship forced Tetsuro to face some pretty painful feelings, not to speak of the rather untactful way it was announced, like three people sent him messages to confirm his well being at the time-. But the truth is that Akaashi did look like he’d spent the last few years being haunted by a particularly scary ghost.

And some little thing deep inside Tetsuro really dislikes seeing his friends like that.

FROM: ME -10:41

Hey, I’m pretty sure I just saw you in the hall.

My class is about to let out.

Let's have some coffee if you have some free time.

There’s no answer, not even a blue check to indicate that Akaashi read the messages, his class ends -without him having any idea what it was about, that’s one more thing to do- and he walks out of the classroom. 

At the main hall, he spots a familiar figure. Now that he has time to take in the way Akaashi looks, he realizes how bad it is. Akaashi, pristine-Akaashi is wearing pajama pants and a sweater so thin and large that when he stands in front of any light Tetsuro can see his silhouette.

Bad indeed.

That’s when his phone buzzes.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI-FUKURODANI -11:06

I don’t think it’s a good moment.

Oh, no, he won’t.

Tetsuro takes a few long strides forward to catch up to the lone figure, arm reaching out to grab Akaasi’s shoulder. 

“Wha- Oh, Kuroo-san.” His voice is so low and scratchy that it’s hard to hear in the packed hall. “I don’t- I have to-“ he scrambles for words, color rising in his cheeks.

“You’re a bad liar.” Tetsuro says, his heart softening a little. “Come on, I have beer in my dorm.”

One of those perfect eyebrows rises, some semblance of normality returning to Akaashi’s face. “It’s Monday Kuroo-san.” He says. “And it’s eleven in the morning.”

Tetsuro shrugs. “So? It’s just one beer, I'm not gonna get you drunk. Your face is telling me you need it.”

It really is a testament to how bad the whole thing is that Akaashi just follows him, no quips, no struggle. They are halfway to Tetsuro’s dorm when he finally speaks. “How did you know? Did K-Tsukishima tell you?”

“Nope. I don’t speak with him that much.” Tetsuro mumbles. “Don’t think that he’d tell me either.”

He actually hasn’t heard from the blond in almost a week, not eve a reaction to one of his memes or anything. That and the general absence of movement in the group chat suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

-Tetsuro pushes the worry away, it’ll only drag him backwards-

Akaashi thinks for a moment. “Then?”

“You look like you just got released from a traumatic kidnapping,” Tetsuro says. “Also after I saw you I got curious and checked your Facebook.”

Akaashi’s eyes furrow, he tilts his head to the side. “What do you m-Oh.” Sadness falls over his face like a curtain. “I guess he deleted that.”

It was a lot easier to be annoyed at Akaashi when he didn’t look like… well like how Tetsuro felt for all of December. For a second he wonders if he shouldn't call Bokuto, but it feels too much like pouring salt into an open wound. He’ll tell him later, in a controlled environment with plenty of food.

“Let’s order lunch too,” Tetsuro says as they arrive at his dorm, feeling guilty. “Burritos?”

Akaashi just nods.

Up in Tetsuro’s apartment, he stands in the middle of his room, beer in hand, looking lost. Tetsuro has to pull him down on the bed before the other makes him nervous. “It was that bad, huh?”

Akaashi takes a deep gulp of his beer and, to Tetsuro’s surprise, lets himself fall back on the bed, eyes glued to the ceiling. “It wasn’t.” he says simply.

“Ok?” Tetsuro says. “We don’t have to talk about that if you don't want to.”

Akaashi lifts his head, only enough to make eye contact with Tetsuro. “No, really, we didn’t even fight. It was mutual.”

So they are talking about it. “That’s why you look like a narcoleptic?” Tetsuro can’t help the little bit of bite in his voice. “I mean, I’m sorry but this doesn’t scream ‘mutual breakup, just fine’” he makes air quotes with his fingers.

“I never said I was fine.” The man says stubbornly, taking another swig of the beer eyes drifting back up like the ceiling of Tetsuro's student dorm holds the secrets of the universe. 

A rather uncomfortable silence follows, Tetsuro isn’t sure what he should say and he also kind of wants to let Akaashi decide if he really wants to talk about it. 

And like a faucet, the other man opens up. “It’s just hard to believe it, I thought I felt alone before. We did not have time for each other, but he was there. I keep waking up and looking for good morning messages.” He takes a shaky breath. “I miss him, and sometimes I wonder if I should have tried harder.”

Tetsuro looks the other over, he has no idea what to say. It seems like the whole thing was actually quite pacific, no explosive fights or anything. Akaashi seems to still be processing it though, and not doing a very good job of it.

-that one piece of his brain that is locked up for misbehaving wonders if Tsukishima is taking it this badly too, Tetsuro shuts it down, one problem at a time-

"And you feel guilty for letting it go?" Akaashi nods. “When did this happen?” he finds himself asking while he putters around the room, gathering his laptop and a few other things. 

“Last Wednesday.” Akaashi answers, sliding up the bed to make space for Tetsuro to place the laptop in front of them. “You really don’t have to do all this.” He curls up into himself, knees hiding the bottom part of his face.

“Nope, I don’t.” Tetsuro says, frowning because it’s true, of all people he’s the least obligated to look after Akaashi like this. “But I guess I’m just a good guy.” He says, sighing while he turns on the laptop and throws Akaashi a light blanket even though the climate definitely doesn’t warrant it.

The younger man takes one look at it and wraps the fabric tight around himself. “Thank you.” Those blue eyes are earnest and whatever annoyance Tetsuro had left melts away. “I think I should apologize to you too.” Tetsuro can see how Akaashi’s wringing his fingers under the blanket. “When Kei and I got together I was… inconsiderate of your feelings.”

It has been a while since all of that happened but Tetsuro can’t really help the knot that tries to form at the base of his throat. For a moment he’s speechless but there’s no denying that he needed to hear that. “It’s ok.” He grumbles. “I know you two didn’t do it on purpose. And it’s in the past, so let’s not talk about it.” 

Akaashi looks down, nodding reluctantly.

Taking a deep breath, Tetsuro opens the computer’s browser. “Well, what’s your poison?” he asks, and when Akaashi looks confused he clarifies. “Rom-coms? Sad movies? Kids movies?” None of those seem to appeal to him, Tetsuro pauses and thinks for a second. “Period pieces?” Akaashi nods, and Tetsuro somehow isn’t surprised.

They end up settling on Anna Karenina, and it turns out that the whole reason Akaashi likes these is to point out the discrepancies between the movie and the books.

It’s kind of adorable, and Tetsuro doesn’t know if it’s coming from the whole break-up situation or if Akaashi is usually this harsh a critic.

The burritos arrive a while later, and despite everything, Tetsuro can’t help but feel a little pleased when he sees a little color return to Akaashi’s face while he stuffs it with the burrito.

After Anna Karenina they end up watching Pride and Prejudice, which even Akaashi can’t judge too harshly -and now Tetsuro can see where a large part of Akaashi’s style comes from-.

Aside from roasting the movies, they don’t talk much, though it does feel like a weight has been lifted from the room, so Tetsuro leans back and lets himself enjoy the chill afternoon.

As it happens, he gets a little too comfortable because the next thing he knows is that his phone is vibrating, his volleyball coach asking him where the hell he is.

Beside him, Akaashi is deeply asleep, still bundled up in the blanket.

Tetsuro hurries out as silently as he can, thankful that his bag with all his equipment is already in his car, he leaves a note for Akaashi.

Vb practice

Had to run, didn’t want to wake you.

--Kuroo.

.

.

Thank you for everything Kuroo-san.

I’m sorry for imposing.

Please let me make it up to you next time we meet.

--Akaashi Keiji

.

.

Koutarou’s knee-jerk reaction when he hears of the breakup and Akaashi’s current state is to rush over to comfort the other.

It feels built-in, like dragging Kuroo outside and feeding him when he’s burning himself out on volleyball and papers.

Kuroo tries to stop him from going, but only succeeds in getting Koutarou to do a pit stop for food.

This has nothing to do with feelings or anything, he tells himself, it’s just what Akaashi would’ve done for him.

What he used to do, often.

.

.

Keiji finds himself in his dorm room, still groggy from the nap he ended up taking at Kuroo’s. It was a strange afternoon, to be sincere, though that’s not to mean that he isn’t grateful.

If anything, Kuroo’s quiet, respectful care was what he needed as he miserably dragged himself out of his one class of the day.

Keiji didn’t let himself stop moving after the break up until today, feeling like he might crumble into a bunch of dime-sized pieces, he cocks his head at the mirror and realizes, however belatedly that he does look quite… unkept.

It’s a shame to take a shower and wash the nice smell of Kuroo’s room away -what does he do his laundry with? The first time Keiji figured he hallucinated from being too drunk, but the man and his things consistently smell very nice- but his hair is greasy and he didn’t take his make up off properly last night so there are smidges of mascara under his eyes making him look like he has not slept in a week.

Yes, he understands why Kuroo felt the need to pick him up like some abandoned baby animal.

Keiji undresses and heads for the shower, it’s seven in the evening, so there’s enough hot water and he doesn’t want to worry about anybody taking a shower after him.

As the scalding hot water hits his back, he can’t help the sad sigh that escapes him. The afternoon was nice, and being able to apologize to Kuroo was nicer still.

But he misses Kei.

He misses him so much it’s ridiculous.

How do people get over relationships that last years? Here he is turning to a hot pile of tears and regret every time he thinks of one that barely lasted six months.

And his mind won’t leave him alone, how many things Keiji could’ve done to fix things, he saw the truck coming from the very first time neither he nor Tsukishimma could come up for something important, why didn’t he pull them both out of its way before it hit?

Why didn’t Tsukishima?

Keiji’s eyes well up with tears.

He stands in the shower until the water goes cold and then for a little while too.

Getting out of the shower, he dries off and slips into some soft pajama shorts and a loose, dark blue, long-sleeved shirt.

He feels better, if marginally. 

The sensation that he’s lugging around a Tsukishima shaped hole is still there too.

Keiji looks at the mess on his desk, that has to go.

After cleaning up he pulls up some assignments he hasn’t gotten to, he’s in the middle of reading a chapter of some obscure gothic novel he got as assigned reading when there’s a shy knock at his door.

Worrying that he actually inconvenienced one of his dorm mates by using up all the hot water he rushes to the door.

Opening it to find Bokuto Koutarou, looking nervous and holding a bag of takeout from a Hindi place that makes things extra spicy. Just as Keiji likes them.

Keiji sometimes doesn’t know if the gods above hate or love him.

“’ Kaashi!!” the man exclaims. “I uh- heard from Kuroo. I figured you might want to hang out?” he must read the surprise in Keiji’s face as something else, because he immediately backtracks. “I mean if you wanna be alone that’s fine too! I brought food tho’ so maybe we can like, eat and I’ll let you have some time? Did you eat already?”

Keiji can’t help it, it’s his natural reaction to answer with a dry “You’re rambling Bokuto-san.” But at the same time, he opens the door and lets the man in, very relieved that he tidied up somewhat. “I appreciate the company.”

“Yeah? I mean I don’t want you to be uncomfortable!” Bokuto says, as Keiji gently guides him to sit on his bed. “I just got worried, y’know and you didn’t tell me so I got even more worried.”

“I didn’t feel like telling anyone.” Keiji says, sitting in front of the other man. Trying not to look too sad as he reaches into the takeout bag. “And I didn’t want to inconvenience you.”

“You know you wouldn’t have.” Bokuto seems to take offense. “C’mon ‘Kaashi, we’re friends.” He says, eyes downcast. “Or we were at least.”

And fuck f that strikes just the chord Keiji has been avoiding. Limiting Bokuto’s presence in his life after he got together with Kei seemed like the most logical choice, especially with the feelings he still had for the silver-haired man.

Especially because of them, Keiji didn’t want to feel like even more of a selfish asshole keeping Bokuto close while he was with someone else.

But Bokuto never knew about that, and it must’ve hurt. “I’m sorry I have been distant Bokuto-san. Balancing everything lately was hard, and I didn’t want to disturb you, not when you were making a starter position.”

“What does that have to do with it?!” Bokuto scoffs while shoveling food in his mouth, Keiji can tell, by the color of the sauce that he got himself the mildest sauce, while Keiji got one of the hottest. “I’m always gonna have time for you, you’re like, the best thing I got from high school.”

And there’s that feeling, the one he’d almost forgotten, if Kei is the endless, calming sea, Bokuto is the warm, all-consuming sun. “The best?” Keiji can’t help but chuckle. “Along with Kuroo-san and volleyball, you mean?”

“Nah.” Bokuto’s earnest, bronze gaze drills into Keiji. “Volleyball’s from middle school, but you’re the best thing.” And then he grins, goofy and wide and this was a bad idea too, Keiji realizes. He’s currently the emotional equivalent to roadkill and that’s not taking Bokuto into account at all. 

“Oh.” He looks down, has to break from that gaze, whatever else, it’s liable to destroy the little stability Keiji has regained.

“But Kuroo might be a close contender.” Bokuto blurts out. “I might have to get you two to race each other…somehow.” he actually looks very meditative while he says it, like he could create a race to measure that.

And with that Keiji breaks, he laughs, and laughs, and laughs and cries at the same time. 

Bokuto is on him in a second, food container all but tossed to the side and the very small part of Keiji that keeps its sanity hopes it doesn’t spill, strong arms wrapping around Keiji’s body in a way that might look suffocating to others but it’s perfect to Keiji.

God, he is fucked up, he really doesn’t deserve all this.

It takes about ten minutes for the fit to subside, for all that time, Keiji’s former captain only rubs his back and holds him tight, there, like he’s about to fly away like a hot air balloon. When it’s done Keiji feels weak like a kitten, he eats slowly while Bokuto explores every millimeter of his apartment, commenting on every knickknack and thankfully never mentioning the fact that Keiji just cry/laughed into his shoulder for like an eternity like he’s completely off his rocker. 

When he’s done eating, Bokuto takes the container from his hands and gently nudges Keiji back against the pillows. “So, I know you watched mushy movies with Tetsu.” He says, and even Keiji’s exhausted brain registers the nickname as odd, but can't find the energy to really wonder. “But-“ he stops dramatically. “The god of breakups is trashy reality TV and that’s not up for discussion!” he hollers. “What d’ya say ‘kaashi?”

Warm, full, tired, emotional-roadkill Keiji is not going to argue, he just nods, nestles up too Bokuto in a way that’s too familiar from their school days and proceeds to watch two episodes of extremely hot, sex-addicted people in an island who are, for some reason not allowed to so much as kiss.

In a strange way, all their frustration makes him feel a little less pathetic.

He falls asleep at some point -something he seems to be doing alarmingly often lately-, head on Bokuto's shoulder. 

Not without feeling like he’s extremely lucky, but also like he really doesn’t deserve it.

.

.

He leaves in the middle of the night like some sort of ashamed hookup.

There’s really no other way around it.

Koutarou feels like staying the night would definitely be crossing a boundary, if not for Akaashi, at least for him.

After all these months of being strong, of letting go and putting himself out there to get new experiences -trying to leave his stupid feelings for Akaashi in high school where they belong- one evening and he’s back in the swamp, like he never left.

Maybe worse than if he never had.

Not that Akaashi is like a swamp, he’s lovely and smells nice and has eyes like blue jewels and skin like velvet, but Koutarou’s feelings for him sure resemble one. 

Seeing Akaashi like this just-

Hurts.

Because Koutarou would’ve never made him cry like he surely has been.

If Kuroo hadn’t told him that the break up was mutual in the first place and no one had hurt the other deliberately he’d be halfway to Miyagi to punch a certain blond.

-only, now that he thinks of it, if Tsukishima is even half as bad as Akaashi, he might find himself nursing him too, for… some reason, and wouldn’t that be a sight.-

So he grabs a blanket and covers Akaashi -this pale, red-eyed, all too thin and dispirited one that he loves just the same- up to his shoulders. 

He takes the containers to the trash bin on his way out.

.

.

Up to this point, Kei had felt sort of proud of how he had taken things.

He did not leave the training camp the morning after Akaashi broke up with him -coincidentally, almost exactly a year after that whole thing started- he did not spend the rest of the training camp curled up in his futon with his headphones blaring music the way he definitely wanted to, he didn’t even skip night practices…. Hell, he let Hinata make them as long as he wanted.

Better half-dead from exhaustion that feeling sorry for himself, really.

On Monday he went back to school and the thousand things he has to do normally, he didn’t miss one volleyball practice, turned in his essays, helped Akiteru paint his room and Tadashi with a bunch of club things.

Hell, he even helped Sawamura and Sugawara finish moving in together.

It doesn’t occur to him until exactly twenty-one days have passed since the whole thing happened that maybe those last few things weren’t so much his idea as they were things he was roped into by everyone else.

And the thought only does come to him because he finds himself helping set up for his class’ summer festival, something he has always avoided like the plague using club activities as an excuse. He vaguely remembers Tadashi saying that if the team captain has the time then Kei should too.

He doesn’t remember trying to resist anyways.

The whole thing still takes a second to hit him, it’s not until he sees Tadashi standing by the door with Yachi, side-eyeing him like he’s some sort of freak that he reacts.

It feels the same as when Kuroo reached out to him, clearly having learned of the breakup, the same as when Asahi sent him a basket full of baked goods.

Kei hates feeling pitied.

He wasn’t enough, he gets it.

Kei looks down at the piece of cardboard he’s painting, it’s good enough. He stands, almost violently grabbing his stuff and storms out, almost knocking a couple of passing first years on their asses. He barely even registers Tadashi and Yachi’s concerned gazes.

Kei has to get out of there or he's going to explode.

.

.

So maybe Tadashi has let this thing go on for too long now. 

 It has been exactly three weeks and his best friend is still walking around like an automaton. Everywhere except on the court where he’s ferocious, the first years are scared of him now, and coordinating drills has become more akin to tiptoeing around landmines than it ever was.

He thought that maybe Tsukki needed some time to recharge, but after the first week, he only seemed to close up more and more, like he was slowly and surely sinking into quicksand.

Tadashi tried, and Akiteru tried and then Tadashi even roped in their seniors.

But nothing came out of it, Tsukki did what he was asked to do with a blank look on his face and barely even speaking, only to snap at anyone who tried to have an actual conversation with him.

Seeing him mechanically rearranging a living room per Suga’s instructions was hilarious in a very, very sad way. 

-Suga had him rearrange his cacti collection three times and Kei did not complain, snap or otherwise engage anyone while he did-

Maybe him storming out of their classroom, looking like he’s a manga character set on murdering god is progress, but towards what?

“I can take care of the uniforms.” Hitoka tells him, her lips pressing into a tight line, hand reaching up to pat his shoulder reassuringly. “You go after him.” 

He can only feel lucky that their classes are doing a joint café for the festival, Tadashi leans down to press a quick kiss to her cheek and is off to find Tsukki.

That night he found him staring into space with his eyes rubbed raw on Shinzen’s hill, he’d been about to tell him that Hitoka had just accepted his confession. Obviously, he never did, and Tsukki’s still in the dark, not that they are trying to hide it or anything. At this point, he and Hitoka could probably have sex in front of him and Tsuki would be none the wiser.

Tadashi would be lying if he said he didn't see it coming, when Tsukki's hopeful happiness when he mentioned Akaashi started turning to longing and then to dejection, but he didn't think it would happen this quickly.

This sucks.

When Tadashi catches up to his fleeing best friend, he’s already across the courtyard, clearly headed for the gym. “Tsukki, there’s no practice today, where do you think you’re going?”

The blond looks back at him, annoyed. “Serving practice, I’ve got the keys.” He growls pulling said keys from his pocket. “Remember?”

Being friends with someone for upwards of six years, Tadashi knows there won't be any way of getting through to Kei with a normal human conversation, so he has to resort to taunting. “Y’know, I expected this from Kageyama or Hinata, not from you Tsukki.”

"Those two haven't dated anyone, they have their heads too far up their asses."The blond turns to him, a dangerous irritated look on his face. “And what do you mean this? Yamaguchi.” He hisses. “Maybe you all could stop coddling me, I’d be better off.”

“I mean this acting like a robot, fixating on volleyball and refusing to listen to anyone else? You know we can all still see how hurt you are, right?” Tsukki’s face turns stony, Tadashi presses on. “That coddling is us trying to get you to do something and stop bottling things up.”

“I am not.” The blond snaps, hands balled into fits at his sides “What am I supposed to do then? Disappear in my room for a week? I have stuff to do." His voice cracks so slightly that Tadashi doubts anyone else could pick up on it. "If I fuck up and my grades or anything else. It all will have been for nothing.”

Oh well, the can of worms is open now, Tadashi can see. “I don’t know." he says "Let yourself be sad? Cry? You wouldn’t even let Yourself cry at Shinzen. I think we would all accept a breakdown haircut at this point.” He sighs. “You’ve been diligent for three years, the world is not going to fall down on your head because you slow down for a minute and let yourself grieve.”

He can tell, without seeing that Tsukishima is grinding his teeth so hard it’s probably hurting him. Through all this, they are still walking to the gym, until the blond takes an abrupt turn towards the school entrance. “Uh, where are we going now?” Tadashi asks. 

I am going to go get a haircut.” The blond says. “Isn't that what you wanted? You’re welcome to come or go back to setting up, I don’t care.”

It’s as much of an invitation as he’s going to get. “You don’t have to take it to heart, you know?” he says.

“I know.” Tsukki answers, glaring. “But it might get you off my back and the whole thing is getting long. Not that you’d let me practice in peace.”

Tadashi flashes him a grin that he knows will only rile the blond up. At last, it looks like they are getting somewhere.

.

.

Kei knows Tadashi will follow him, after all, the taunt was pretty obvious.

Not that it didn’t hit the mark.

And Kei does need a haircut, he’s going to start looking like Hinata soon if he doesn’t get one.

He was actually supposed to get one after golden week, but… yeah, that didn’t happen.

So he finds himself in the only hair salon within walking distance of Karasuno. The hairdresser fusses over him as soon as he asks her to take his hair down an inch or so. “But you have such pretty hair.” She says.  “So healthy too.”

“I play sports.” He answers, aggravated. “It’s a bother to have so much hair around my ears and on my neck.”

The woman raises an eyebrow, looks at him like she’s trying to picture something than runs to the back of the store and comes back with a magazine, pointing at something on the cover. “Then wouldn’t you like a style like this, your hair has a nice curl pattern, it won't be hard to maintain.” Kei glares at her. “I’m sorry," she takes the magazine away. “It just seems like a shame.”

Beside him, Tadashi, who has been silent so far, heaves a big sigh.

Kei knows what he’s doing.

He’ll also be damned if he doesn’t prove Tadashi wrong.”

“Let’s do it. “ he says.

“Really?” The woman’s eyes sparkle. “Would you like a hair mask too?”

Kei takes off his glasses, feeling a familiar pinch of pain at his temples. “Yeah, whatever.”

She proceeds to wash his hair and put on some warm mixture that smells like herbs on it. “Twenty minutes.” She says, and leaves Kei with his head hanging backward over the special sink, then disappears on the back of the store.

Tadashi drags a chair to sit beside him, he leans forward, coming into the meter-or-so zone that Kei can see clearly without his glasses. “Glad to see you still have the ability to be spiteful.” He says. “We have twenty minutes.”

Kei’s hands itch for his headphones, he fell right in the trap, didn’t he? “Shut up Tadashi.” He growls.

“I didn’t plan this.” The other shrugs. “You put yourself on that chair. Now if there was something a pair of best friends could talk about for twenty minutes…”

“What do you want me to say?” Kei snaps, he would be glaring at Tadashi, but he’s afraid the herbal thing will get in his eyes if he turns his head, so he glares daggers at the ceiling instead. “We broke up. It was mutual. My life goes on.”

Tadashi snorts. “I have a twenty-five minutes long video of you rearranging cacti, Tsukki.” He sighs. “I get that you’re sad. But you keep pushing everyone away  and we’re worried, we care about you.”  The warmth of a hand on his forearm startles him. “Until just now I didn’t even know the split was mutual, and you know I’m not prying because I’m exactly thrilled to know the details.”

Somewhere in Kei’s mind, he thinks that he hadn’t even noticed that he never told Tadashi anything, that he has barely spoken five words at a time to his best friend for almost a month.

“It just wasn’t working out.” He starts talking before he knows he is, and then he can’t stop. “We kept missing out on things, and I didn’t want to be annoying but it still bothered me that we didn’t text or call as much anymore.”

He remembers the way either of them would have to cut calls short, the texts left unanswered for hours on end because the other person was busy. Any people with decent communication and logical thinking skills should have been able to work through it.

“Oh Tsukki. So neither of you did anything- um-“ he pauses, unsure f to continue.

Kei laughs and it’s this chocked up, deformed sound. “No, maybe I wouldn’t miss him so much then. It would make more sense.” Kei breathes in deep. “He kept saying that he didn’t want me to end up hating him that night. I don’t think I could.”

“But you were going to go to Tokyo next year. I know this sounds harsh but you didn’t think you could hold on?”

“I think we did at first, until we realized how much it actually took.” Kei snorts. “I could tell he was unhappy, I was too.” Then he adds. “I think I always knew it was going to end, it was a high school relationship after all.”

By this point Kei is glad that he can’t move his head, he doesn’t want the wetness of his eyes to slide down his cheeks. He takes in the small comfort of Tadashi’s hand on his arm until the hairdresser comes back and washes his hair.

The actual cutting process takes less time than Kei expected, he sees curls of blond hair fall and fall to the floor, filled with some wistful feeling that he doesn’t want to name, not right now.

When she finishes, Kei turns his head in front of the mirror, it really does look kind of good, the undercut is just like the Miya twins’ but with his curly hair on top. “You could model Tsukki!” Tadashi tells him as they exit the salon.

“Not gonna needle me more?” Kei asks in response.

“Nope, I think you’re good,” Tadashi says as he taps the tips of his fingers together. “But I’m here if you wanna talk, all of us are, me Hitoka, our sempais.”

Now that doesn’t take long to dawn on him. “You're dating her, aren’t you?”

“Yeah.” Tadashi looks nervous, like he’s expecting some biting remark, Kei just sighs and he seems to take it as a congratulations because he pulls out his phone. “Let's take a picture while your hair is still all styled.”

At this point, Kei might as well agree.

.

.

Tsukishima Kei has changed his profile picture.

.

.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO -20:34

Uh hi Tsukki.

You look nice in that picture.

How are you doing?

Chapter Text

The chance to repay Kuroo for his -rather kind and necessary- actions in the wake of the worst emotional disaster of Keiji’s life -to date- comes sooner rather than later.

A few weeks after the whole incident, a much more stable Keiji is looking for a place to escape from the hellish summer heat outside, his dorm room is out because one of his dorm mates has recently gotten a girlfriend whom he has no problem having sex with when Keiji is in the next room.

And Keiji is not that stable yet.

The literature building, which would be his usual haunt has also been crossed out since there's this second year on his program that doesn’t seem to understand that Keiji really isn’t interested, like really.  It’s not that the guy is creepy or unattractive, but he keeps trying to start something and it’s exhausting, Keiji has enough internal conflict, he can't be adding more factors into the mix.

For a second, he contemplates going back home, the long ride might be worth it, but then he remembers that his mom is somewhere in South America, so he’d just be crossing the whole city to cook for himself and feel lonely.

It’s only logical that he ends up in one of the many libraries on campus, he doesn’t really care enough to look at which one, his assigned readings are in his backpack and that’s all he really needs, until there’s an actual idea in his head for the essay he has to write.

Keiji chooses a random table and lets the afternoon slip away. 

That is until a couple of girls walk by him. “…Do you really think he was fine?” one asks.

“I wasn’t gonna wake him up and find out.” The other says “He was really ht though, maybe we should’ve taken a picture.”

“Oh, you can’t mean that Yumi.” The first one giggles. “With that hair, he kinda looked like a rooster… a black one, but still…”

“Still hot, you must mean.” The other says, throaty laugh vanishing as they walk out.

This campus is huge, there’s no way…

Keiji still gets up, carefully gathering his things and slipping into the alcove he saw the girls come from.

Apparently, there is a way. Kuroo Tetsuro’s unmistakable form is slumped over a table, head buried between his folded arms, he’s wearing a back t-shirt with some logo on the front and his Nekoma sweatpants. Keiji can almost spy dark shadows under his eyes.

He has heard of Kuroo’s rather strict work ethic from Bokuto -especially these past few weeks, where they’ve begun to speak more, almost like they did back in high school- but he has never witnessed it first hand, but from the amount of notes strewn around, he can tell the other man has been here for a while.

As if subconsciously noticing Keiji’s eyes on him, Kuroo stirs, groaning, his face -or what Keiji can see of it- is pinched into a frown. “Nghhh”

Keiji figures the charitable thing is to wake the other up, he might have practice to get to or something on a deadline.

Still, it feels kind of wrong to do so without at least something to soften the blow. He lays his bag beside the sleeping man and takes the short walk to the coffee machine in the lobby. 

Kuroo takes it black, he remembers Tsukishima telling him that.

Right.

Keiji gets a cold green tea for himself and tries not to let his thoughts drift in that direction. 

He comes back into the alcove to find Kuroo slumped over the long table in pretty much the same position. 

Feeling a bit like a huge asshole, Keiji lays his hand on Kuroo’s shoulder and gently nudges him. 

Which only achieves a grunt and a “’M allowed to sleep in Bro, it’s Sunday.”

Keiji can’t help but chuckle, it’s almost cute. “It’s Wednesday Kuroo-san,” he says, nudging again. “You are asleep in the library.”

“The lib-“ Kuroo’s head rises slowly, eyes bleary with sleep and adorned with -now that Keiji can’t actually see them- rather impressive eyebags. “Fuck I’m not done with Bioc- Akaashi?”

“I’m sorry I woke you up.” Keiji answers sheepishly. “I figured you might have things to do. If you don’t, you can lie back down, I’ll look after your stuff.”

Kuroo groans, one of his hands comes up to rake through his messy hair. “No, no, thank you.” He says, voice raspy and Keiji wonders if he’s sick to top it all off. “I haven’t finished my essay and today’s the only day in the week that we don’t have practice.”

“Oh, I’m glad I did then.” He holds out the hot cup of coffee at the older man. “I figured this might help.”

The other’s eyes widen a little, he takes the coffee from Keiji with a surprisingly soft expression. “Thanks. You can sit with me if you want.” He says, smirk tired and drooping at the edges of his mouth. “Help me stay awake?”

“Sure.” Keiji lets himself fall on the chair beside Kuroo and pulls out his book.

But he soon grows bored and restless, thumbing through the pages trying to find any motifs or analogies he’s missed. This is a book he has read several times, so Keiji isn’t too invested. 

Beside him, Kuroo is. His hands fly over the keyboard of his laptop, pulling up windows and switching from program to program while he writes and takes sporadic sips of the coffee Keiji got him. 

Keiji can’t help but admire it, it’s also kind of worrying.

Kuroo’s profile is the same as ever, that straight nose, that strong jaw, but his lips are paler than usual, his eyes are bloodshot and the dark bags under them are quite a sight. 

“Are you on a deadline Kuroo-san?” Keiji rarely speaks without thinking, but he finds the words tumbling out of his mouth without much f a warning.

The other startles, tuning to blink owlishly at Keiji. “Uh sort of.” He says, hand coming up to rub the back of his neck the same way Bokuto does when he’s embarrassed.

“What do you mean sort of?” Keiji says, head craning to the side. 

The older man’s eyes drift away from Keiji’s looking guilty. “It's actually my final project for Biochem. But I want to start really cramming for finals next week and I won't be able to if I still have this hanging over my head.”

It takes a moment for Keiji to process, he considers himself a very diligent person, but this seems a bit excessive, even for him. “So you’re not.”

Now he kind of regrets waiting Kuroo up.

“Ehh, I’m on my own schedule.” Kuroo shrugs, eyes drifting back to the computer. “I want to make time for Bo’s exhibition too, and that falls smack in the middle of finals, so I can’t be slacking.” 

“What exhibition?” Keiji asks, confused, he knows when Bokuto’s going to play next, and there are no exhibition matches in the program for next month. “Did they program a new match?”

“Uh.” Kuroo stiffens. “I thought he told you- um.”

“I should ask him?” Keiji offers, he doesn’t want to cause conflict, Bokuto probably just forgot. 

Kuroo gives him a grateful smile. “Yeah, sorry.”

“Don’t worry, Kuroo-san.” he says, turning back to his book, hoping it will dissipate the awkward atmosphere. 

“Kuroo.” The other corrects him. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”

Keiji looks up at him, puzzled, sure he does consider Kuroo a friend. He just didn’t think the other did lately. He smiles. “Yeah, we are.”

They both turn back to their respective tasks, an hour passes, and Keiji can already see the sky turning dark outside, not that it really matters, the library is open until nine. However, as the sky in the windows darkens, Kuroo seems to hunch more and more, eyes narrowing until they are slipping closed and his head keeps drooping. 

“Kuroo.” It tastes strange on his tongue, not bad, just new. “Don’t you want to take a nap? I’ll wake you up at eight.”

“Nah-“ Kuroo begins to say, but cuts himself off, he glances at the computer screen and then back at Keiji, then his hands come up and rub at his eyes. “Actually that’s a good idea.” He says, getting up and sliding his laptop into his bag. “I’m going to take the sofa though.” He says, pointing at an old, worn leather sofa. “You should come too, those chairs get pretty hard to sit on after a while.”

The sofa is quite wide enough for the two of them, and Keiji’s behind has been hurting for the last half an hour.

He nods, following the other quietly to the sofa, settling on one end of it, quietly lamenting the lack of an armrest. Keiji sits on the edge of it, while Kuroo curls up into himself, head pressed between his knees.

Strange way to sleep.

Keiji goes back to his book, only he can't really concentrate, out of the corner of his eye, he can see Kuroo squirming and trying to get comfortable, Keiji can’t fathom ever being able to relax, let alone sleep curled up like that.

He’s distracted by this, enough so that the memory sneaks up on him. It’s blurry, but it doesn’t seem to be picture-sharp for Keiji to very clearly remember Kei puling Kuroo’s head to his lap.

At least that one doesn’t hurt too much, not anymore.

Still, Keiji can’t help but keep being distracted b the other’s shifting. “Do you want to lie down, Kuroo?” He says, making an effort to sound neutral. “You can use my lap as a pillow if you want, I don’t mind.”

The older man lifts his head, looking at Keiji in some way he can’t decipher, there seems to be a bit of an internal struggle there but in the end, Kuroo sighs, eyes drooping. “’ kay.” He says, crawling over to Keiji and under his book. “You’re nice Akaashi.”

“It’s nothing, you look like you need the sleep.” He says lifting the book to allow the other to settle. “Besides, I owe you.”

All the answer he gets is a sleepy. “Nah” And Kuroo is asleep in seconds, Keiji can just wonder how long it has been since he had a proper night of rest.

After a while Keiji sets his book aside, he hangs his head back over the back of the couch, tired and hungry by now.

Kuroo probably is too.

He looks down at the older man, an idea assaulting him.

He really should not.

Still, his hand finds its way into the other’s elevated hairstyle, marveling at how soft it feels, not a hair product on sight. Touching it like this Keiji can almost believe it really is a bedhead.

His fingers reach in a little deeper, brushing the man’s scalp, which prompts a sleepy whine as the other leans into the touch.

Something inside Keiji lurches, he quickly extricates his hand, he shouldn’t have done that, it was stepping over a line, no matter how soft Kuroo’s hair is or how much he seemed to be enjoying the whole thing.

FROM: ME-19:14

Hello Bokuto-san, are you out of practice?

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU-19:15

Akaashi!

Yup, just got out.

Whatcha doing?

FROM: ME-19:16

I ran into Kuroo-san at the library.

** attached image**

I promised to wake him up at 8.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU-19:16

That workaholic little shit

He said he was taking it easy!

Have either of you eaten?

FROM: ME-19:18

He was passed out when I found him.

No.

Actually if I could trouble you to bring us some food? I‘ll pay you back

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU-19:19

Silly ‘Kaashi, I was gonna anyways

McDonalds? I’m also near that pizza-in-a-cone-place

Tetsu wanted to try it

FROM: ME-19:21

Sure, just make sure there’s no pineapple in mine.

Thank you.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU-19:22

Thank you ‘kaashi!

I’ll be there in half an hour

.

.

The initial picture did not do justice to the scene that Koutarou encounters as soon as he arrives at the library.

Kuroo is sleeping curled up like a cat, head on Akaashi’s lap, a line of drool drying on the side of his face

Akaashi’s fingers are buried gently in his hair while his other hand holds a book up to his face. Koutarou's fingers itch to draw it.

There’s something about drawing people doing these kinds of mundane things that he really loves.

-having two gorgeous models that he loves very much has everything to do with it too-

Akaashi notices him, his head pulls away from the book and he smiles, holding his hand up in a wave-like gesture. Koutarou approaches, noticing more things with every step, the way Akaashi’s dark shorts stop at the middle of his thighs, the loose collared shirt he wears, Kuroo's defined arms bent at his chest, the dark shadows under the one eye Koutarou can see. “Hey, hey ‘kaashi.” 

“Bokuto-san.” He says, and Koutarou can see how he looks him over, he’s wearing his practice shorts and a tank top, he also might be kind of sweaty. “Did you run here?”

“Sort of?” Koutarou sets the food down on a nearby table. “I had some extra energy after class. I also didn’t want the food to get cold.”

“That’s thoughtful, thank you again.” Koutarou expects him to start trying to wake Kuroo up, but Akaashi just stares at him for a long moment, face indecipherable.

“So, um? Can we eat here?” Koutarou asks, breaking the silence. “I kind of have no idea.”

Akaashi chuckles, fond and low. “No, we can't.” Now his hand does reach down to Kuroo's shoulder, squeezing slightly. ”Kuroo, Bokuto-san brought food.” But there’s no response, Kuroo must’ve been very tired. “Kuroo, wake up.”

“Mmmm.” Kuroo groan, eyes opening just slightly. “It smells good ‘kaashi.”

“It’s pizza cones Bro!” Koutaro steps in closer. “You said you wanted to try them!”

“Uh Bo?” Kuroo sits up, rubbing his eyes as if it’s going to make Koutarou disappear “Why do people keep appearing while I sleep?”

“Because you run yourself ragged enough to pass out in libraries.” Koutarou reaches out to ruffle the other’s hair. “C’mon, you big dummy they’re getting cold.” 

Kuroo snickers, still sleepy, then he jolts, eyes drifting to his bag. “But I haven’t finished fixing up the bibliography, Bo.” He whines. 

Koutarou can’t decide if this is annoying or incredibly adorable -sleepy Kuroo is always adorable- either way, he loves the workaholic cat. He rolls his eyes. “Is this the paper that's due in a month?”

“End of semester, actually.” Akaashi interjects. “And all you have left to do is that?”

Kuroo nods, looking a little guilty. “I won’t be long.”

“Because you’re doing that tomorrow.” Koutarou counters swinging an arm over the other's shoulders. “Now c’mon, I’m hungry.”

Kuroo pouts, but lets himself be dragged out to a nice tree beside the building, it’s warm enough that it’s actually pleasant to sit down on the grass and eat. It’s not until they are all munching on cheesy goodness that something suspicious starts nagging at Koutarou. “Hey! Akaashi! Why are you not using honorifics with him? I've known you longer!”

“I’m sorry, Bokuto-san, it’s a habit,” Akaashi says, somehow the only one without any pizza sauce on his cheeks. “I can try if you want?”

“I mean, you don’t have to,” Koutarou says, looking down. He’s not as used to being around Akaashi as before, he realizes, because it surprises him when a hand is laid on his shoulder and those tantalizing blue eyes are looking at him.

“Bokuto.” Akaashi hums. “I guess I could.”

Bokuto Koutarou’s heart feels a little like it’s going to burst inside his chest. 

“Well, if you don’t wanna drop the honorific.” Kuroo takes another bite of his cone pizza. “You could always call him Koutarou-san.” He finishes with a mischievous glint in his eyes, now fully awake.

Koutarou can feel the blush taking over his face, Akaashi sports a similar one. “I-I wouldn’t mind, I mean i-if you want to, Akaashi,” He says, looking down at the place where Akaashi’s fingers are tangled on the fabric of the former setter’s shirt.

“Kou- umm” Akaashi looks away. “I’ll think about it.”

Kuroo just laughs, and Koutarou can’t help but think that was a very deliberate attempt to put them on the spot. 

Still, it’s nice to be with both of them like this, after so much time has passed of Akaashi drifting away and Kuroo being busy. Not that Koutarou would ever expect them to put him above the things that really matter in their lives. He’s just a friend after all.

And he’s pretty busy making starter, so…

They finish eating while making small talk and Koutarou is really glad to see Akaashi more relaxed and… more himself, really. He’s tried to keep tabs on the other, but the fear of crossing a line and both their schedules aren’t really helping.

They walk back to Kuroo’s dorm first, where Koutarou finds himself genuinely worried for the other man. “And you better go to sleep, if I see you online, so help me Kuroo, I’ll-“

“You’ll what?” The man says, tired smirk wide on his face. “Tattle to Kenma? He’ll understand.”

Koutarou frowns, blowing up his cheeks. “I’ll tell your grandma.”

This actually does seem to get to Kuroo, he goes pale. “Fine.” The man says with a pout that has no right to fit so nicely in his face. “You’re a good library buddy Akaashi.” He calls before entering the building. “See you around!”

Akaashi doesn’t say anything, and neither does Koutarou. They don’t need to, as soon as Kuroo disappears into the building they begin walking to Akaashi’s dorm at a leisurely pace.

It all feels so familiar.

Koutarou kind of wants to scream

At one point Akaashi clears his throat. “Um, Bokuto? Can I ask you something?” he says, looking away towards a copse of trees. The way he says his name, unsure and experimental, sends a jolt down Koutarou’s spine.

“’kaashi, you know you don’t have to ask,” Koutarou says, knowing he always will anyways.

“Kuroo-san mentioned you had an exhibition next month.” Akaashi starts, voice careful. “But I don’t think he was talking about Volleyball. I figured maybe your drawings…”

Damn Kuroo, Koutarou has a reason for not having told Akaashi yet, he wanted it to be tactful, because a couple of the pieces he submitted are… well… Akaashi, the way Koutarou sees him. And he didn’t want it to look like he’s trying to say something.

They aren’t a declaration, they just are the reality of how he perceives Akaashi.

“Uh, yeah that.” He stammers. “I- next month, one of Kuroo’s volleyball teammates turned out to be in the art department, he invited me.”

“Oh.” Akaashi stops for a moment, meditative. “You do not want me there?”

“No! I mean Yes! I do!” Koutarou exclaims, and Akaashi is looking more confused by the second, head tilted to the side, fingers tangled in each other. “I do.” He insists vehemently. “I just didn’t know how to ask you…”

“I love your drawings, I still have the-“ Akaashi stops himself, a veil of longing falling over his face, it makes Koutarou’s chest hurt. “I mean I’d love to go, but you seem uncomfortable.”

“Look ‘kaashi, I just-” Koutarou drags a hand through his hair, already quite messed up from practice. “Some of them are of you, ok? I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I didn’t know what you’d think.” 

Akaashi stops in his tracks, mouth shifting into a silent ‘o’ it takes a while for him to snap out of it. “That’s not a problem.” He says, and continues walking. “I wish you’d shown me before. But I still would like to see them.”

A suspicious amount of tension leaves Koutarou’s neck at the admission. “I-I guess I’ll send you the details!” he grins at Akaashi, but that seems to make him wilt, like he’s feeling guilty of something. “’kaashi? Are you alright?” he asks, leaning in close.

Akaashi steps back a bit. “I’m sorry, Bokuto. I almost got upset, but then,” He says. “I haven’t told you a lot of things too.”

Koutarou looks away, of course, Akaashi hasn’t, for close to six months he had someone else, and that someone got too see so many things of Akaashi that Koutarou can only dream of. “You can always tell me now.” His voice comes out a lot more hoarse than he expected. “I’m here.”

He’ll always be. 

The other man thinks for a moment, then he proceeds to pull out his phone. “I’ve been doing something.” He says, and Koutarou can see he’s embarrassed, there's a light pink dusting on his cheeks. “Since last year actually. It’s better if you see for yourself, I think.”

Koutarou takes the phone when Akaashi offers it, suffice it too say it’s not what he expected.

Why would Akaashi act embarrassed abut this it’s? well, it’s amazing. Hell, he and Kuroo probably gave him the idea, Koutarou can't help but mentally cheer for having suggested it, even if they never made it there.

He scrolls through the album, more amazed every time. Akaashi pulls off things that even he would be too scared to try, and he does it beautifully.

-in booty shorts too, oh god, Koutarou might die-

Around fifteen minutes have passed when he notices that they’ve stopped, Akaashi’s looking at him with an expression that reminds Koutarou of an embarrassed little kid. He can’t help but smile wide and enthusiastically wrap his arms around the other. “It’s amazing!” he exclaims. “Yo go up like- like- whoosh. Even I couldn’t do that, how does it not hurt?!?

Akaashi leans into the hug, a relieved giggle breaks free from his throat. “It does. But it feels amazing to get the tricks.” Then his hands come up to grip Koutarou’s tank top.

And Koutaro knows that he’s not crossing a line, Akaashi’s right here, with him, in his arms. And though it’s not the way he wants it, he’ll take it, always.

.

.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 17:34

And he’s just going alone?

Like aren’t his parents worried?

Does he even speak Portuguese?

FROM: ME – 17:37

Yes, I don’t know, and no.

He’s not great at English either.

But I mean, it’s still Hinata, he can weasel in any anywhere.

I guess we can all just hope he doesn’t get bitten by something poisonous.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 17:39

Uh, Shrimpy has my respect.

Even Bo wouldn’t just up and go to the other side of the world.

Even if Kenma was giving him money

Scratch that, he might.

Aw did he weasel into your heart too, Tsukki?

(that would be venomous, I think, not poisonous)

FROM: ME – 17:45

But then, Bokuto-san is that same kind of crazy.

Shut up, I just don’t want to get spammed when he’s lost in Rio.

(For all the wrong references you use you’re surprisingly stingy to me)

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 17:46

C’mon, Bo would drag at least one of us there.

You know you’re gonna.

He considers you the smart one in your little generation (not that you aren’t)

(You’re not exactly sweet to me either Shortcake.)

FROM: ME – 17:48

And it would probably be you, thankfully.

Tadashi’s decent too (he better at least alternate between us)

(And you think that antagonizing me will make that improve?)

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 17:50

Aww don’t be sad Shortcake, I’d bring you along too.

Yamaguchi is quite effective

He did corral you three for his whole high-school career

I’d have gray hairs

(I like my sour Tsukki, wouldn’t have you any other way)

FROM: ME – 17:51

If that ever does happen, please don’t, you two get into enough trouble here.

I resent you lumping me in with them.

Ha! Like you don’t already.

(Oh, shut up.)

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 17:53

That’s what we need you Tsukki! You’re the soothing to out crazy

You love being difficult and we both know it

I do not!

You have wounded me, Tsukki

Deeply in my young heart

FROM: ME – 17:53

I never accepted that job

I have a personality, it’s not the same

Boohoo, I’ve seen them, back on that trip.

And quit the theatrics.

Don’t you have an essay to write?

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 17:54

We can pay you in desserts.

LIES! 

I am young and have no grey hairs!!!!!

Actually, I do, I just got to the library.

Talk to you later.

FROM: ME – 17:56

What desserts?

If that helps you sleep at night.

Sure, old man.

.

.

Because this year hasn’t been shitty enough for Tsukishima Kei -and lo, and behold, it’s still just July- It decides to send an awful cold his way just one week before his midterms.

Luckily Kei’s ahead on his studies.

But he still has papers to turn in.

And he would write them, he wants to, but he’s also a wreck. One that feels like death warmed over.

The second and worst day of his cold falls on a Friday, Tadashi rats him out to his mom so Kei’s forced to stay in his house wandering around like mildly annoyed ghost wrapped in a blanket, chugging cold medicine that makes him sleepy.

Very sleepy, seeing as falls asleep in five different surfaces waking up only to eat, and when his mother decided to clean the living room. 

This results in him being a wide-awake mess with a huge headache and a sore throat at exactly three thirty-five am that night. Joy. He’s currently sitting on his bed, miserably flipping through Netflix shows, having already done everything he knows to do to get to sleep.

This is great, just when things were starting to get a little better. 

-or at least when he was starting to be able to live normally despite the fact that Kei still loves his ex, no matter how much he tries to stop-

Keiji would be telling him what to read, or sending weird sleep remedy recipes.

Kei lets his body fall back on the bed, careful not to allow any part of it outside of his hands and face to escape the blanket he’s wrapped in. He pulls out his phone and starts scrolling.

After a few youtube videos, and the long, nonsensical thing that is the Karasuno group chat, he’s about to give up and go ask his dad for one of his sleeping pills, when something catches his eye.

The small green dot beside the name Kuroo Tetsuro.

He has been texting the other, regularly at that. Since Kuroo reached out again after Kei got his hair cut -an unwise choice in all, while he likes how it looks, it has resulted in a lot of unwanted attention from the girls in his class- they have kept in touch, constantly.

In fact, noticeably more than even before Kei and Akaashi -it's... still annoyingly hard to think of the name- started dating.

Kei blames it on the fact that he had gotten used to being in constant contact with someone other than Tadashi, and when Akaashi and he so abruptly stopped talking he was slightly lonely -seeing as their group chat kind of died after the break-up- and Kuroo has a knack for finding some very cruel, very inappropriate to laugh at memes.

And he’s gotten Kei used to talking to him, whatever.

FROM: ME – 03:48

I’m going to assume you’re cramming.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 03:50

I could be at an awesome, wild party, thank you very much.

Please don’t tell Bo.

Are you cramming too?

FROM: ME – 03:51

This is you we’re talking about, we’re a week away from exams.

What does he have to do with this?

I wish.

I have a cold from hell, and I can’t sleep

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 03:53

-_- fine, I’m cramming.

He thinks I run myself to the ground, I said I’d sleep tonight

Poor Tsukki.

Have you tried honey and chamomile tea?

FROM: ME – 03:56

Knew it.

So what? Is he going to climb in through your window and lock your books away?

I’ve tried everything.

Might as well accept it at this point

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 03:58

Worse.

He’s going to come with food and puppy eyes.

Then he’ll burrito-wrap me in a blanket.

Hey! Tsukki, I have a great idea

FROM: ME – 04:00

I… have never understood your relationship.

That doesn’t sound bad though.

-_- What?

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 04:02

We’re Bros!

It’s amazing.

Which is why I can’t allow it.

I’m weak Tsukki

Lets video call! 

 Kei takes a second to amuse himself with the mental picture of Kuroo burrito-wrapped in a blanket, being fed by Bokuto of all people. It sounds hilarious, yet oddly adorable.

Then his eyes land on the last message again. It’s not like he has anything to do, and Kuroo is probably not going to sleep anyways.

Sending video call request to Kuroo Tetsuro.

The dark screen blinks to life almost immediately. Kuroo is sitting to one side of the screen, hair as messy as always, eyes tired and flanked by shadows. He’s wearing a dark purple hoodie with its arms bunched up at his elbows showing off his muscled forearms.

“What’s with the hoodie?” Kei asks, trying to ignore the jolt of attraction that courses through him, it’s the first time he sees Kuroo since Akaashi’s birthday last year, but it does not seem to have dulled at all.

“What’s with the blanket?” Kuroo shoots back. “I’m pretty sure it’s also summer in Miyagi.”

Kei grits his teeth. “I’m trying to kill the virus through heat.” Kei deadpans. “Isn’t Tokyo supposed to be hotter?”

Kuroo’s eyes shift down “Caught me Tsukki.” He says. “Our AC unit has a real bad character. Lately, it shifts to uber cold at night and no one knows how to repair it.”

“That sucks.” Kei responds. “It must be nice for sleeping though.”

Kuroo frowns. “Like to bundle up?” he shrugs. “I guess, I can sleep anywhere so…”

Kei can’t help but laugh, remembering that one photo from the trip last year. “Yeah, I know.” He says. It’s probably the cold, but he feels a little giddy, even with his sore throat. “What were you even studying at this hour?”

The question seems to take the other by surprise, his eyes widen and he leans back. “Just- Respiratory physiology.” He says licking his lips. “I’m taking an advanced biology course.”

“Oh.” It’s hard to find things to say when he realizes that this is the first time he brings up Kuroo’s studies, even before, all Kei ever cared to know was that he was majoring in something to do with science. He kind of feels like an asshole. “In your second year? Isn’t it kind of…”

“Advanced?” Kuroo chuckles, leaning back forward, and Kei can’t help but notice a little spark in his eyes. “You’re probably going to be the same as me, y’know? I’m also thinking of switching to pre-med.” He stops to think for a moment. “Or vet school, I bet that would be fun.”

It probably is the cold when he asks. “Why those things?” without an ounce of sarcasm. Kuroo’s voice is deep and relaxing, it distracts Kei from the fact that he currently feels like death.

And Kuroo tells him, shiny eyes when he speaks of how interesting these things are and how he would love to work with patients. At some point Kei migrates with his laptop to his bed, still listening intently but overcome by the necessity to lie down somewhere soft. “You want to do history, don’t you Tsukki?” The other man asks.

“Yeah, or Paleontology,” Kei says, face half smooshed into a pillow. “But there aren’t so many offers for that.”

“I’m sure you could get something in a museum though.” Kuroo counters. “Oh my- would you mind tilting your screen up a little Tsukki?”

Kei does it without thinking, he’s warm and comfy and Kuroo’s deep voice is hard to disobey. “huh?”

“You really have dinosaur figurines!” and then he laughs, a deep, belly laugh that resonates in Kei’s chest even though he knows that’s impossible. “I didn’t believe it! That’s so cute Tsukki.”

In normal circumstances, Kei would be beside himself with righteous anger -no one gets to mess with his figurines- but he’s tired and sore all over, he barely manages to shoot the other a glare before he’s yawning. “You’re the biggest nerd I know. You don’t get to mock my figurines.”

“I’m not mocking them!” Kuroo says, laughter still tinging his voice. “I do think it’s cute, I had some molecular models I kept all highschool in my room.”

“You did?” Kei’s eyebrows rise. 

“Yup.” Kuroo says, and launches into a short diatribe about the whole thing, how he made the models and everything. It interests Kei, it does, but the other’s dark voice seems to be achieving what a bunch of tea, milk and honey didn’t manage.

Kei can feel his eyes droop as he nods along to Kuroo’s explanation, warm and lulled by that deep, kind voice. 

When he wakes up again, the computer screen is dark and light is streaming in through his windows from outside. His throat feels a lot less sore though his nose is still stuffy. Distantly, he remembers Kuroo’s voice lulling him to sleep and… singing? No, that can't be right, Kei was fixating on the guy’s voice anyways, he must have dreamed it.

He reaches for his phone, to find a couple of unopened conversations 

FROM: KUROO TETSURO – 06:12

**image attached**

I hope you don’t mind I got a new profile pic for u.

You’re a pretty sleeper.

Also, don’t sweat it for falling asleep, you’re sick, you needed it.

FROM: ME – 08:23

You bastard. 

Unlike you.

I still have that picture from when you fell asleep on the train.

I wasn’t going to apologize.

.

.

 

FROM: ME -14:35

Hello Tsukishima.

How have you been?

Keiji looks at his phone for the tenth time in the last five minutes.

He’s just finished his second to last exam of the week, the last one is tomorrow, and he is so ready for this first -tragic, messy, and tiring- term to end… His mom is home too, will be for all of summer vacation, and Keiji is not ashamed to admit that he’s going to curl up at home with her eating ice cream for most of it.

Today also happens to be the day of Bokuto’s exhibition, which he’s supposed to arrive at by seven.

Part of him is curious and excited about Bokuto’s work, Keiji loves how he draws, and always thought to himself that it was a shame that he barely did in highschool.

Another part of him, however, is actually very nervous, when combining how cagey Bokuto was when Keiji asked him about the exhibition with the fact that some of those pictures are of him, Keiji can’t help but feel anxious. He’s even mused if the whole thing didn’t have to do with Bokuto actually dating that one guy form the volleyball team, the art major.

Maybe Bokuto didn’t tell him from the start because the guy might be the kind to get jealous or something like that. 

-he has mulled over this thought a lot more than he likes to admit, Bokuto mentions the guy a lot, but Keiji has never had the guts to really ask-

But Keiji’s going, regardless, it just feels like something he has to do.

It does not quench his nerves. He decided to text Tsukishima today of all days too because he realized that it’s been two months, exactly, since they’ve spoken -since they broke up-. Their agreement of ‘a few weeks’ turned into eight.

And Keiji really doesn’t want to lose the blond as a friend, he’s fine giving him more space if the other needs it, but it never hurts to ask.

Besides… Keiji’s feelings aren’t really gone.

Just as his feelings for Bokuto never were.

He is tender from it all but that’s the one thing he can’t deny. 

And even though he's hanging out more with Kuroo and Bokuto now, even though he's made more friends, a part of him keeps on acutely missing Kei's wit and the quiet comfort he offered.

He is about to start picking his clothes for the night -Kuroo did say they have to go in semi-formal dress, whatever that means- or at least 

get a head start on his makeup, when his phone vibrates.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -17:12

Hi.

I’m doing well.

Just out from a cold from hell but

Ok.

How about you?

The message isn’t hostile, it’s not even snappy, as if Tsukishima is being as careful with the situation they are in as Keiji. Like they are tiptoeing around glass shards of what they were to see if, in some way, they can find each other again.

Keiji responds, a small smile on his face.

And then, he starts doing his makeup.

.

.

 

FROM: ME -18:40

Looking for my blue shirt.

I’m sure mom made me bring it but, I have no idea where it s.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -18:48

Are you going somewhere fancy?

Maybe it’s still in your suitcase.

Or the boxes?

FROM: ME -18:56

Yeah, Bokuto-san has an art showing tonight.

It was in my suitcase.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -19:00

Oh.

What?

Are you two dating now?

.

.

As the very snooty couple in the snooty clothing walks away, Koutarou is really not sure he’s doing this exhibition thing well.

Like at all.

Everyone keeps throwing weird art terms and names at him and all Koutarou can say is that these are his friends and the sights of a couple of trips he has been in.

It makes him feel stupid, which is totally unfair.

Also, his suit -the one from graduation- is way too tight now and he’s kind of walking like a robot in order not to rip the back.

Someone comes up from behind him, laying an arm across his shoulder, he’s ready to believe it’s Kuroo when he meets blond hair and baby blue eyes instead. Miura is smirking like a madman. “Four of your pieces already have buyers, you just have to name the prices.”

“I- what? People want to buy them?” Koutarou asks, confused, from the way most of the people he has spoken to have looked at him down their noses and condescendingly patted him he’d have thought no one would be bidding.

“Of course, silly. We’ve been here for like an hour and all I’ve done is hear how they capture the feeling, the tone, people are enchanted with them.” Miura says with a glint in his eyes. “The gallery takes a 15% cut though. But still, do you want to hear some of the bids?”

Koutarou, for once stunned into silence, nods.

The first amount Miura mentions -for one Kuroo looking out at the ice floats- is enough for him to make a deposit to rent an apartment and maybe a couple of months of rent, even with the gallery cut.

He does feel kind of conflicted over selling them.

He’s also not a fool and wants to move out.

So Koutarou nods and Miura goes off to find his buyers.

Good god.

After this, he walks around dazed. He finds Kuroo standing in front of one of his pieces.

It’s him, jumping up and set for a spike, legs bent, spine arched, face terribly intense. He sees Koutarou approaching and turns to him with a grin, arms open for a hug which Koutarou gladly takes, enveloping the other in his arms.

At last someone he feels comfortable with, Kuroo feels like home.

Until a terrifying ripping sound startles them both and Koutarou’s jacket feels a lot more comfortable.

Fuck.

“You can have mine,” Kuroo says quickly as Koutarou divests himself from the ruined garment. “They’re both black.”

And it’s true, he’s wearing this lovely blazer with a cream collared shirt under it, it looks amazing – and he’s made sure it actually fits-.

“I don’t want to ruin your look bro,” Koutarou says, embarrassed. “My shirt will have to do. It’s not bad, is it?” he turns to the side to give Kuroo a look, at least the pristine white shirt’s new, and it fits.

“N-no” Kuroo stammers. “It’s fine.”

“Are you su-“ Koutarou looks up at Kuroo, but the other is not looking at him at all, his eyes are fixed on a point behind him, mouth hanging open just slightly.

Koutarou turns, not knowing what to expect.

And there, standing in the middle of the room in front of the very portrait of himself that made Koutarou hesitate to tell him about the exhibition at all, is Akaashi.

He’s wearing a midnight blue shirt with the collar popped open and grey straight-cut pants that make his legs look miles long. His hair is artfully disheveled, and even from this far away, Koutarou can see the hint of eyeliner, bringing out the sapphire blue eyes that are currently looking at his drawing like it’s making him horribly sad.

Fuck, he was supposed to text Koutarou.

No choice but to face the music, he supposes, walking towards the other man.

.

.

Bokuto must’ve drawn this from memory. 

There isn’t any other explanation, Keiji finds himself feeling like he’s in front of a mirror, he almost reaches up to his neck to feel for his blue scarf -that he knows he doesn’t even have anymore, he left it in Miyagi on new years-. 

It’s there, in photorealistic detail, large enough that the proportions between him and the picture are almost the same. Keiji looks so much more beautiful than he really is in it, so hopeful and young and-

In love.

The only color in the picture is his eyes and his blue scarf, everything else is traced in smooth, loving strokes of graphite and ink, but Keiji can smell the cherry blossoms, he can feel the spring air on his nose.

He wants to cry for a second.

There’s no way Bokuto doesn’t know, right? 

No way he could recall that expression on his face without seeing, without knowing without a shadow of a doubt that-

“’Kaashi!” Golden eyes catch his own, Keiji can’t come up with anything to say, he debates running away like some girl in a novel but finds his legs unresponsive and stuck to the ground.

Bokuto is walking towards him, all childlike golden eyes and tanned skin, and ridiculous hair. Decked out in a shirt that Keiji wants to burn if only to have a second to see what’s under it. “You came!” the man exclaims as he reaches Keiji and stops short of wrapping an arm around him. “Are you ok Akaashi? Is something wrong?” he says, as he takes in his glassy eyes.

Keiji reaches up and wipes the excess moisture from his eyes, glad that he’s snapped back from whatever that was. “Yes, Bokuto.” He says, without much strength in his voice. “It’s just-“ he gestures towards the picture. “I didn’t know I looked like that back then, is all. I got embarrassed.”

“Are you sure? I can ask Miura to take it down?” Bokuto fusses over him, hands clapping over his shoulders, and Keiji’s such a cesspool of emotion, he wants to kiss him, he wants to hug him, he wants to run away to raise llamas in Peru. 

He wants all this confusion to stop.

He wants to stop feeling like he wants too much.

“Bo.” Kuroo’s voice makes Bokuto break the eye contact and Keiji feels like he can breathe again. “There’s someone asking for you back there.” He says, walking up to them, looking like something out of a bond movie. “Akaashi and I can wait for you around here, right?”

Relieved, Keiji takes a step back. “Yeah, Bokuto-san, it might be something important, I haven’t seen any of the others yet either, Kuroo can accompany me.” 

Bokuto frowns at him, noticing the honorific, the unspoken distance it adds. “’Kay, but don’t wander too far.” He says, eyes dulling.

Keiji nods.

And Bokuto is off.

.

.

Honestly, he doesn’t know if he should be crying or laughing or a little bit of both.

Bokuto and Akaashi sure are thick-headed, Tetsuro only needs to take one look at what Akaashi was looking at and one look at the man’s face. 

Sometimes the truth has a way of hitting people hard after they’ve ignored it enough. 

“Do you want to go for some air?” he asks. “We’ll be back before he’s done, there was a line.”

Akaashi nods, mutely, he doesn’t speak until they are outside, leaning against a column facing away from the lights and the suffocating throng of people. “Does he always draw me like that?” he asks, voice weak.

Tetsuro wants to tell him to wait for Bokuto -he has just sent him a text with their whereabouts- but knowing Akaashi -and knowing Bokuto- this might end up in a very big mess if he doesn’t help a little. “Always. Since he met you.” He says, pulling a cigarette out of his pack and lighting it. “He barely drew in high-school but it was always you.”

Akaashi looks up at him, eyes both hard and glassy at the same time, and the desperation in them, the shame, breaks Tetsuro’s heart. “He always knew I was in love with him then?”

“Wha- no! Akaashi, no!” he says, grabbing the other’s shoulder with his free hand. “But he always, he-“ 

“He what? Kuroo, I can’t do this!” Akaashi all but exclaims, composed façade cracking even further. “I don’t understand! He must have known, it’s all over that drawing.”

“You over-estimate him hon.” Tetsuro sighs, taking a puff from his cigarette before it’s snatched from his fingers.

Akaashi, with his fast reflexes and long fingers, takes a long drag of it. “I don't understand.” He repeats, voice far away. “Why?”

He is one of the most intelligent people Tetsuro knows. But right now he has such a large need to shake some sense into Akaashi, it’s like he believes Bokuto couldn’t be in love with him, like he believes he’s not w-

Oh.

That’s a feeling Tetsuro knows well, that feeling that someone is as far out of reach as the moon and the stars. 

Only, for Tetsuro, it was reality, Akaashi… Akaashi has a chance, more than one, and Tetsuro can see why.

This sweet thing, this noble, caring, smart man, could ever think something like that.

Not when everyone loves him, not when he him-

Oh no.

He is Bokuto’s, and Tsukishima’s and-

Tetsuro can’t go down this path, not right now, not ever. He shoves the feelings down, with a strength he never thought he had, with tenacity borne of pure desperation.

Just when things are going right.

He retrieves his cigarette, long drag after long drag sucked out of it, finally Tetsuro speaks. “He only drew you, even now that he started again, it was because of you.” He says, voice low and rapid. “Bo’s very noble, he has a heart that even I don’t understand too well but-“

“But what? He was humoring me Kuroo?” Akaashi grits out. “He thought it was cute?”

Tetsuro sighs. This stubborn man…“You know he’s not like that.”

“Then what do you mean?” Akaashi asks, recoiling, fingers pulling at each other.

“I mean that you need to talk to him, really talk to him.” He says, looking away, resisting the impulse to stop Akaashi from doing that to his fingers. “Akaashi he-“

And then a voice comes from behind him, a voice he could recognize anywhere. “I can say it Bro. But can you give us a moment?”

Akaashi peers around the column, only to stiffen completely, and Tetsuro turns around, wide-eyed and pale. “How long have you been there?”

Bokuto looks down sheepishly. “Since you lit the cigarette, there were too many people in line and Miura was entertaining them just fine.”

Well, fuck.

He stubs out his cigarette, and walks around Bokuto, hand rising to give him a little, reassuring pat on the shoulder.

And he walks back inside.

Alone.

.

.

Keiji figures it’s all his confused, traitorous, selfish feelings that have facilitated this situation.

He looks up at Bokuto’s eyes that are filled with hope, and just knows that his own are filled with fear, wide like a fleeing animal’s. 

And when the other’s eyes fill with fondness, Keiji knows all he needs to.

Knows he’s been a blind idiot,

“’kaashi, I-“ Bokuto starts. “Since we met I- You were everything, like you were always there, you picked me up and coddled me and you were so gracious through it all. You were the best setter, the best friend I could ask for. And I never thought- I always did-“

It's watching him like this, chocked up.

Bokuto who’s always so sure of everything, Bokuto who’s the sun, Bokuto who deserves someone better. Not someone in love with two people, not someone who still has dreams of waking up in his ex’s bed, not someone who could never see he was hurting.

Even though it was obvious.

Keiji could kick himself.

“Bokuto.” he stops the other, hand coming to rest on his chest, soaking up the warmth. “Stop.”

He can’t do this to Bokuto, he can’t do this to himself.

No matter how much he wants it.

And oh he wants it. As much as he has ever wanted anything, as much as he waned Kei, as much as-

It would be so easy, Bokuto has forgiven him already, forgiven him for never noticing, forgiven him for leaving him hanging. He probably was never angry in the first place.

Keiji could sink into his arms and forget, damn the world and what anyone might think, he would be war and loved and happy.

But it’s not fair to Bokuto. “But ‘kaashi, I-”

“Don’t say it.” Keiji blinks back tears. “I can’t hear you- I can't do this right now.”

“But I-“ Bokuto’s eyes widen, a tear slips free from one of them. 

“Look, I know. And now you do too.” Keiji closes his eyes as hard as he can. “But I can’t do this right now, please understand. I’m not ready yet- and you deserve someone who is.”

There’s a moment of silence, Keiji’s ready for the other’s warmth to disappear from under his palms, but he doesn’t dare to open his eyes. God, he’s a wreck, two things ruined in less than a year.

Finally, when Bokuto speaks, his voice is low and sad. “’kaashi, you can have as much time as you want.” He says, and then Keiji looks up and sees tear-stained cheeks, and those eyes are not looking at him anymore. “All of it if you want. I was ready to never say anything, y’know?” He says, and there’s that self-deprecating smile that Keiji hates, and loves. “But please don’t leave?”

And Keiji really doesn’t know anything right now, not where they are going to stand tomorrow, not if he’s broken something he can’t fix.

All he knows is that he’s not going anywhere, his arms come up to wrap around Bokuto, letting the man bury his face in the shoulder of Keiji's shirt, feeling his arms come up around him. “Time?” he asks, voice broken up and croaky and god, his eyeliner must be running.

“All of it.” Bokuto answers into his shoulder. 

Keiji can only sigh, heart all knotted up, lips shaking. “I’ll be here.”

.

.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -19:05 That came out wrong

I meant that you could tell me.

19:15 Like it would be fine

FROM: ME -22:16

I know, sorry I didn’t answer, I never thought you were mad.

It was an eventful night.

But no, we aren’t.

It would be a bit soon, I think.

For me.

Like it could get weird.

Or I could, I mean.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -22:20

Ok, good.

Did something happen?

22:31 I don’t think it would be weird… I mean you’ve liked him for years.

FROM: ME -22:34

Actually something did.

Are you sure this is ok?

You’re the person I feel most comfortable telling.

But not if you would prefer not to hear about it.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -22:36

We said we’d be friends right?

It’s fine.

I can tell you stuff too, when there’s something to tell.

.

.

That night Kei lies awake staring at the ceiling.

For one he’s surprised he ended up telling Akaashi to pour out his woes about Bokuto. Just like they used to, before everything.

He’s even more surprised that it doesn’t feel wrong, sure, it hurts, but no more than it has been hurting so far. And when Kei told him not to get too into his head and push Bokuto away, he actually meant it.

Akaashi deserves to be happy.

Even when Kei still loves him.

He couldn’t be a good boyfriend.

But he can be a good friend.

This is what Akaashi wanted from the start, after all.

And this way, maybe, he won’t lose the other completely, maybe as Kei’s life goes forward one day it’ll be Akaashi helping him with these things and not the other way around. Maybe when he sees the other on Bokuto’s arm he’ll be glad.

Maybe things can be ok.

Chapter Text

FROM: ME – 21:33

No way! You’re coming down for my bday!

I knew you missed me Tsukki.

FROM: TSUKKI – 21:38

Is that what that date is?

I didn’t remember.

FROM: ME – 21:43

Liar.

You knew perfectly well.

FROM: TSUKKI – 21:45

I call plausible deniability.

Besides, I do need to look at colleges.

I might leave Tokyo Uni for the seventeenth though.

FROM: ME – 21:47

Tsukki’s coming for my bday!

I’ll give you a tour!

I have like two classes that day though.

They’re morning classes.

And practice after five.

FROM: TSUKKI – 21:49

I can entertain myself for the morning.

Akiteru gave me a mile long list of stuff to buy

I can also swing by the admissions office in the morning

And it’s fine, I can watch the practice

FROM: ME – 21:50

Ohh is that a gift run I’m smelling

I'll introduce you to the team, how does that sound?

You might be playing with us next year

FROM: TSUKKI – 21:51

Maybe.

If you don’t gloat.

I would actually like that.

FROM: ME – 21:33

 I won’t gloat.

I’ll fawn!

Then it's done!

FROM: TSUKKI – 21:38

-_-

.

.

BOKUTO KOUTAROU has added you to the group KUROO’S BDAY SURPRISE!!!!!

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -16:34

So, Tsukki, Kuroo just told us you’re going to be in town for his bday.

And that’ like perfect for my plan.

Why didn’t you tell us.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI -16:38

Actually I knew Bokuto-san

You never asked me.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -16:39

‘kaashi!

Oh, whatever.

Anyways, there’s a whole party set up for him on Saturday.

But since his actual birthday lands on a Tuesday.

Like, we at least need to do something.

So ‘kaashi has class from three to five, and I have practice from four to six thirty.

We need you to distract him for the whole afternoon, until after seven.

We’ll decorate his dorm.

FROM: ME-16:45

So you want me to do what I’m already doing?

**image attached**

He wants to give me a tour.

Which I actually need.

So, sure.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -16:47

You’re usually so much harder to convince.

Heart eyes much?

Anyways, just keep my Bro busy.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI -16:49

I will text you once you can be on your way then.

FROM: ME-16:52

Sure.

Because this is the first time you ask me to do something easy.

Shut up.

.

.

His study sessions with Akaashi in the science building’s library become a regular thing.

At first, Tetsuro is afraid he’s going to end up in one of those awkward situations where he has to choose a side, after what happened at the exhibition.

Bokuto tried to explain it to him, and Tetsuro would love to be able to say that he understands, that Bokuto's calm blissful face and Akaashi's tired relief make sense, but the truth is that he doesn’t and they don't.

Akaashi and Bokuto are right in front of each other, barely an arm's length away, but for months and months on end neither of them reaches out. They stay close friends in a way that's almost too normal and familiar.

Kuroo couldn’t do that.

-even if someone did love him like that-

He can’t, actually, which is why he limits his contact with them.

Even as he has forbidden himself from dwelling on the feelings that night brought forth, he can’t help but know they’re there, squashed somewhere along the months before his parents’ divorce, somewhere in the back of Tetsuro’s mind. 

Still, he’s not just going to ghost them, at least not for now. He might die and Kenma would kill him and bring him back for being an idiot. 

So Tetsuro studies with Akaashi and goes on weird errands with Bokuto, and sometimes the three get together to watch movies or something. But he also takes on more work and finds a group of friends in his major. It's all part of  growing up after all, isn't it?

And he finds solace in the conversations he often has with Tsukishima, because in a way, he's the only one that understands how it feels to be sucked not that vortex.

Like right now, Tetsuro is sitting to Akaashi’s left side, he has a perfect view of the small furrow at his nose as he frowns down at his assignment for a creative writing class. Tetsuro wants to brush his hair back.

He’s actually dying for Tsukishima to get here, Tetsuro knows how to handle him better and he also really needs a buffer for this.

Not that Akaashi’s ever unpleasant, he’s one of the people whose company Tetsuro most enjoys. These comfortable, companionable times are amazing for bouncing ideas off of each other and discussing topics that Tetsuro doesn’t really have the chance to discuss with people outside his major.

Also, both the hug and the knee pads he received for his birthday from Akaashi this morning were pretty sweet -he’s not that sure how Akaashi found out that his old ones were worn and the left one was loose enough to have his knee hurting-.

As if summoned by Tetsuro’s thoughts, it’s in that moment that Tsukishima decides to text him. “Akaashi.” He says, and the other snaps his head up to look at him. “Tsukki’s outside.”

Tetsuro pretends he doesn’t see the way Akaashi's shoulders square nor how his fingers -that nervous habit that makes Tetsuro flinch every time he sees it- start pulling at each other in a way that looks painful.

From what he’s heard, this is the first time they are meeting face to face since that day in May. 

Well, Akaashi said it was ok, so did Tsukki.

They pick up their things and head outside, where Tetsuro can pick Tsukishima out form everyone else there with one glance.

He seems to be -impossibly- a bit taller than the last time he saw him, still sporting that undercut with his slightly curly hair spilling to the side and over his forehead, golden eyes set off by thin-framed glasses, headphones wrapped around his neck. He’s wearing a tan coat over a beige v-neck sweater, with the collar of a white shirt poking out on top, and dark blue slim-fit jeans, probably in preparation for the late autumn weather that they’re sure to have to face

In conclusion, Tetsuro’s mind provides, he looks like a young professor he’d very much love to be naughty with.

And that is a thought that he really shouldn’t be having.

He’s Tsukki’s friend, he’s Tsukki’s friend.

-that one part of his brain, still locked up as it is, whispers that he could be so much more, and it has already been six months-

Beside him Akaashi stiffens.

Right, he’s supposed to be the one not actively freaking out in this situation. Tetsuro raises his hand, waving it. “Tsukki! Over here.”

The blond notices them immediately and starts strolling towards them, smiling slightly, even when his eyes drift to Akaashi. “Hello, Kuroo-san, Happy Birthday.” He says, letting Tetsuro draw him in in an awkward, one-armed hug. “Akaashi.” He nods at the other man when they separate.

There is a moment of tension, but then Akaashi smiles, sweet and soft. “Tsukishima, it’s good to see you.” And that’s it.

Damn. Tetsuro wishes things could ever go that smoothly for him. 

“So, um.” Tsukishima clears his throat, eyes averting from Tetsuro. “I got you something.” He says, extending a small, package wrapped in dark paper towards him. 

“Oh Tsukki.” Tetsuro takes it carefully from the blond’s hands, trying and failing to keep from feeling giddy. “You didn’t actually have to, you know? I was mostly joking.”

Tsukishima shrugs. “It’s not much, but please, open it later.”

Tetsuro is intrigued, but still slips his bag from his shoulder and carefully places the box inside. Making sure it's snug and protected between his books. “Oh ho Tsukki, did you get me something naughty?” 

“N-no.” The other stammers. “You can see what it is later, I’m hungry.” he says haughtily, managing to find his footing in the conversation.

“Tch, Tsukki,” Tetsuro says. “So demanding. But I am hungry too.”

“We could go to that grill place you like Kuroo, it’s off-campus but it’s not far.” Akaashi offers, "I’ll treat since it’s your birthday.”

It’s unsurprisingly sweet and thoughtful, for all his bluntness, Akaashi seems to tailor easily to anyone once he gets close to them. “Aww, Akaashi. You don’t have to.”

“I insist.” Akaashi says, earnest blue eyes drilling into Tetsuro's in a way that makes his stomach knot up.

“I’ll chip in too.” Tsukishima says.

And Tetsuro can’t really argue with that, so off they go.

Lunch passes without a hitch, Tetsuro gets to eat his favorite food and the conversation flows easily, mostly around Tsukishima, and Volleyball -his next tournament is the last one of his high school career after all-and Akaashi explaining the annoying creative writing assignment that he took for extra credit. 

Akaashi and Tsukishima fall into their old habit of ganging up on Tetsuro -which is totally unfair, he was just teasing Tsukki- and it’s all around pretty fun.

Akaashi excuses himself to go to class -and, to prepare Tetsuro’s surprise dinner or whatever tonight, Bokuto is bad at being sneaky, he swiped Tetsuro’s spare key yesterday in his very line of sight- after, and he and Tsukishima are left alone at the university's entrance.

“So, Tsukki, we have like three hours, where do you wanna go?” Tetsuro says, turning to where the other is looking in wonder at the buildings. “You know where the dorms are already, and we’re going to go to the gyms for my practice anyway so…”

“Since I already did the paperwork, I guess wherever the history building is?” Tsukishima looks around him. “And then I don’t know cafeterias…” he looks down. “Maybe…” Tsukishima mumbles something that Tetsuro doesn’t quite catch.

He has a feeling though. “You want to go to the museums too?” he asks. “We have time for like one at least. If we hurry.”

Tsukishima’s gaze is back on him in a second, he looks… thrilled actually. The blond is still not too effusive, but Tetsuro can tell. “Can it be the Komaba? Or the Intermediatheque?” he asks, voice rising a little.

He’s cute.

Fuck.

“Sure Tsukki” Tetsuro says, hand reaching up to ruffle the other’s hair. Tsukishima doesn’t flinch away, which is weird. “Let’s go to the history building first though.” 

He gets a nod in response, Tsukishima still hasn’t moved away, so Tetsuro takes his chances and lets his arm fall around the other’s shoulders, a la Bokuto. The blond stiffens, but allows it to stay there and Tetsuro’s belly feels with relief.

Never mind that he’s not supposed to be doing this anyway.

But he’s always restraining himself and-

Fuck it.

It's his birthday nothing's going to come out of it, after all, Tsukki doesn't like him like that.

-though maybe physically... who knows, Tsukishima has always been a walking, ticking contradiction, so wound up that even Tetsuro has trouble figuring him out sometimes-

They walk like that, Tsukishima slightly stiff, Tetsuro stuck to his side, happily pointing out school landmarks or cafeterias or libraries. 

At some point Tsukishima gets snackish and Tetsuro gets him to try crepes in a cone -from that one everything-in-a-cone place that he and Bokuto have been crazy about for the past six months.- which results in the most adorable scene of Tsukishima with chocolate on his face.

And he feels light, none of the burden of the past months matters for a little bit.

They go to the history building, then the museum, there’s no time for more but it’s fine, Tetsuro can tel how enamored Tsukishima is with the university, he's almost sure this will be his choice in the end.

Although they do have to sprint for Tetsuro to get to the gym in time for practice.

He spends the whole afternoon reminding himself that it isn’t a date.

No matter how much it feels like one.

.

.

Kei doesn’t know what’s more unfair on his poor insides.

On one hand, when he met Kuroo and Akaashi, Kuroo happened to be wearing these absurdly tight black pants that left no curve of his behind to Kei’s imagination. Not to speak of the tight, bright red turtleneck sweater and the lace-up boots -he stood out like a Vogue cover, even standing beside Akaashi, who looked perfectly ethereal as always in one of his oversized sweaters-.

To be concise, the moment Kei saw him, he wanted to tug that turtleneck down and lick and bite into the tanned skin -and when Kuroo hugged him and he smelt that familiar scent he ha a hard time parting from the other-.

It was startling, because since breaking up with Akaashi six months ago, Kei has been… well, not in the mood for things like that often, if at all.

Not like he has had the time or anyone who remotely interests him around either.

That said, he should’ve been prepared to see the other in his volleyball gear, seeing as a large part of their interactions have happened with Kuroo wearing that sort of outfit.

But, the world hates Kei, so he wasn’t.

-and his phone is on its last legs, so he can’t even hide behind it, he doubts he’ll even have enough battery to text Akaashi later-

Kuroo steps out of the changing rooms in volleyball shorts, knee pads, and a tank top. Nothing fancy, and yet, Kei can feel himself notice more with every second. And the want he feels secondary to every kernel of information it terrifying.

He really shouldn’t want Kuroo like this.

Though he’s reluctant to admit it, the older man has been around a lot for the past six months, in Kei’s computer and his phone, but still there.

Where Tadashi’s the comforting presence most of the time, Kuroo is the honest, sometimes even stern one that Kei bounces things off when he really can’t take sweetness. In his mischievous, yet kind way, Kuroo says it like it is, he doesn't have to push the older man to the brink like he does with Tadashi and he's not afraid to snark back at Kei.

And this happens more often than Kei cares to admit.

He’s not the best at feelings, and right now he neither wants to deal with, nor does he feel like he’s ready for any.

So this whole ogling Kuroo thing, not good.

Unless he finds some way not to slip back into that old crush, now wouldn’t that be ideal?

At least Kuroo has told him that he doesn’t have to worry about any feelings coming from him.

-Like a million years ago, but still-

Kei might be deep in his musings, but he doesn’t miss the way Kuroo’s legs tense as he stretches, or the tattoo on his left arm. Fuck, that’s new. From afar, it looks like some sort of pattern inked all over his shoulder and upper arm, almost like feathers but Kei can’t be sure.

Kuroo waves at him from the court and Kei finds himself lifting his hand too.

Then practice starts.

And Kei is enamored, not only with Kuroo, but the whole thing, the court, the drills.

Maybe, someday -probably while at least a little drunk- he’ll thank Kuroo for making him practice with them in first year.

He’s debated leaving the sport for college, the way Akaashi did, it is a sensible decision, time is scarce and Kuroo seems to be doing well, but Kei has been in quite a few video calls where the other is running on coffee fumes.

It takes a lot.

But Kei’s not done with it, and seeing a college team play cements that idea.

And gives Kei another, much more dangerous and exciting one.

He’s watching Kuroo savagely block a spike from their ace, smirk wide and feral in his face, the defined muscles on his back and arms tense with the effort, and Kei realizes that if he continues playing, if he makes the team here… he might be playing on the same side of the net with Kuroo for two, hell, maybe even three years if the other does switch his focus.

The thought shouldn’t be so exhilarating.

It turns out that the two hours the practice lasts are the most bewildering hours of Tsukishima Kei’s life yet -well, maybe excluding that night at Tashirojima- and he can't look away. When it lulls down, Kei finds Kuroo waving at him again. “Come meet the guys Tsukki!” he yells.

And Kei goes. “-he’s not my Kouhai, he’s from Karasuno, y’know? The ones with the jumping kid.” Kuroo is saying as he approaches.

“Wait, he’s the one that kept blocking Ushijima two years ago?” someone asks, eyeing Kei.

“Yeah!” Kuroo exclaims. “And he was a first-year.”

He can introduce himself, Kuroo.” Kei drawls at the older man, unable to suppress a small smile. “I’m Tsukishima Kei, it’s good to meet you all.” He says, bowing slightly.

And this, for some reason kick starts pandemonium. “Man, he’s so cute, he bowed!” someone says.

“So polite! How are you friends with this kid and Bo-san?” another says.

Kei even manages to hear someone saying that they are going to be short on blockers next year.

Well that’s good for him.

In the end, however, everyone heads for the locker room, Kei debates following them to see if he can find somewhere to plug his phone -which died for good like half an hour into the practice- but maybe it’s not the best of ideas if he’s going to be near a nearly naked Kuroo.

Akaashi and Bokuto had all afternoon to hang a few streamers and get the food, hell they’re probably going to be making out on the sofa when they get there.

-not that Kei is mad at them… he might be a little jealous, but he’s working on that-

So he waits outside the locker room, lost in his thoughts until a hand claps over his shoulder. “Ready to go?” Kuroo is wearing that damned turtleneck again, his hair is flagging, wet from the quick shower he surely took.

“Uh, yeah. Sure.” Kei says. “What time is it?”

“Ummm” Kuroo pulls out his phone, taps on the screen a couple of times. “No idea, my phone’s dead.” He sighs. “Hey! Matsumoto! What time is it?” he yells back to the locker room.

“Half-past seven!” someone answers.

And god, it’s late, he’s sure Akaashi must be blowing up his phone for having to keep Bokuto from the fancy beer he and Kuroo discovered on that trip to Hokkaido.

“Let's go.” Kei says, and starts forward, Kuroo on his heels.

Outside, the air is crisp and cold, Kuroo shivers. “I should have brought the car.” He says, wrapping his arms around himself in a way that Kei’s sure provides no warmth and just showcases his biceps.

He kind of wants to give the other his coat. Kei has two layers under it after all -and Kuroo’s sweater is tight and thin enough that Kei could bet he’s not wearing anything under it-.

And Kuroo’s dorm is not that close.

Before he can chicken out on account of embarrassment, Kei slips his arms out from the sleeves and shoves the garment into the other’s hands. “You just exercised, you’ll catch your death." he grumbles eyes on the sidewalk ahead of him.

-oh, shut up, it’s Kuroo’s birthday-

“Aw you care,” Kuroo says, and hesitates as he looks down at the coat, a light blush apparent on his face, even in the relative darkness. “Are you sure you won’t be cold?”

“Only if you keep slowing us down.” Kei says, frowning. “Besides, I don’t want people to say I let you catch pneumonia on your birthday.”

“Ok, then.” Kuroo grins at him while slipping into the garment. Kei pointedly looks away. “Thanks, Tsukki, it’s warm.”

They pick up the pace, Kuroo is abnormally silent, but Kei doesn’t really mind for the moment, there’s enough noise in his mind. Although he can't help but occasionally slip glances at the other, where he's walking with his hands buried deep in Kei's cot's pockets. He looks strangely bashful.

At least until, like the special effects in a b-movie, lightning flashes over their heads, a booming sound close behind it, and drops of water of increasing size start falling on Kei.

He looks at Kuroo, panicked, hoping the other has an umbrella. The dark-haired man shakes his head. “Tsukki, we’re going to have to run.” He says. And Kei curses his luck, he takes his headset and quickly shoves it under his shirt, hoping that will keep it dry enough.

Kuroo grabs him by the wrist, while fat drops of rain fall on them both, it barely started, but it’s already pouring.

They are nowhere near the dorm buildings, Kuroo takes Kei through some shortcuts that are somehow already filled with puddles and soak Kei up to his thighs when he steps on them.

Finally, Kuroo’s dorm building comes into view, they hurry towards it.

Once inside, in the landing to Kuroo’s room, Kei surveys the damage. He’s soaked from head to toe, his pants are full of mud and there’s enough water in his shoes to water all of Suga’s cacti collection.

Twice.

Kuroo is a bit better off, Kei’s coat seems to have protected the -goddamned- turtleneck, and since he’s wearing leather boots, Kei doubts the man's socks are in the same predicament as his own.

Akaashi and Bokuto are going to have a huge laugh at their expense, Kei thinks as Kuroo ushers him in.

If they ever come out of wherever it is they’re hiding. The streamers and the food and even the small cake are in the common area, but there’s no one to be found, not even Kuroo’s flatmates.

“Wait, where are Bo and Akaashi?” Kuroo asks beside him.

“You knew?” Kei responds.

Kuroo scoffs. “Of course I knew. Bo can’t be sneaky, like, at all.” He peers into the kitchen. “Not here either.”

Kei takes a deep breath and shudders as he lets it out. “Maybe they are making out in your room?” he says, shrugging.

Kuroo gives him that stunned look. “I’m still friends with Akaashi.” Kei rolls his eyes. “I know about… well, the exhibition.” He says and can't help looking away from Kuroo’s inquisitive eyes. “It’s fine, if you start walking on eggshells around me like everyone else, I might have to throttle you.”

Akaashi is not a common topic in their conversations, at least not when it comes to him in the present as a person. Kei prefers to talk about the relationship in general terms, when he does, because that way it doesn’t feel like he’s trying to make Kuroo take sides or something equally ridiculous.

“If you say so, Tsukki.” Kuroo says, taking a step toward his bedroom door and peeking through the minuscule crack between the door and the wall. “Nope, not here either.” He says, swinging the door open. “Now c’mon, I’ll lend you some sweatpants.” He looks down at Kei’s destroyed flats. “And socks, and everything, really.”

The world hates Kei, or loves him, depends on how you see it.

Still, he’s in the room of literally the guy that brought forth Kei’s gay awakening and he’s about to put on said guys' clothes. It might just be awkward if Bokuto and Akaashi were her to buffer. “Do you have somewhere I can plug my phone?” Kei says, desperate for something to distract him as he follows Kuroo into the room. “We're going to have to call them.”

“Uh yeah.” Kuroo says, rummaging through his closet. “Behind the bed. Can you be a dear and plug mine in too Tsukki? It’s on the nightstand, and the charger is plugged in already.”

It takes him a couple of tries to grab Kuroo's phone. His glasses are all wet and on the nightstand beside it after all. "Only if you don't ever tell me to 'be a dear' again." Kei huffs. "You sound like a grandma" Kei plugs the phones in, he taps at his phone's screen with annoyance, only to obtain a ‘system rebooting’ message.

You’re going to catch death if you don’t change Tsukki dear.” Something soft hits him on the back of the head. "Or do you prefer my knight in shining armor? You did give me your coat." There's a nervous lilt to it, and for a second, Kei wonders if Kuroo is as put out by the situation as he is.

Reaching back, Kei finds Kuroo’s old Nekoma sweatpants and a shirt. “I'm only this wet because I gave you my coat.” Kei grumbles, staring straight ahead at the wall while pulling his sodden sweater over his head. “And stop it with the nicknames.”

Behind him, Kuroo laughs. “Thanks for that Tsukki.” He says, in that dark voice. “I guess I can't really call you my knight, you didn't have an umbrella after all.” He eases.

“It didn’t fit in my bag." Kei counters. “And what are you even complaining about? You have dry shoes right here, unlike me.”

But Kuroo, seems to be in a playful mood. He sighs dramatically. ”Ah if only my knight in shining armor had been more thoughtful.”

He’s obviously playing, but Kei still turns around to give him the meanest glare he can muster, fingers working at the slippery buttons of his shirt. “Oh, you big baby, you already got my coat.” He says, one mocking, until he really sees Kuroo, shirtless Kuroo with his hair plastered down around his face, looking at Kei from over his tattooed shoulder -they are feathers, it’s a wing wrapped around his deltoid-  with his mouth hanging open. “What… more could the birthday boy want...” His mouth finishes the sentence, but Kei doesn’t really know what he’s saying anymore.

The decent part of his brain -the one that’s currently gathering all the blood in his body in his cheeks- is telling him to turn around and pretend this isn’t happening.

Kei doesn’t listen

Kuroo, seems to also have absolutely no idea what he’s doing, because his mouth forms words and Kei takes a second to understand them and then another to connect them to his previous question. “A kiss would be nice.” As the words sink in, Kuroo goes red from the tips of his ears down. “Fuck, I said that out loud.”

And this is all so stupid and cliché, and Kei feels like a drowned cat staring at Michelangelo’s David. He feels minuscule and pathetic and god, he wants Kuroo so much.

Decency be damned, Kei needs this.

He strides forward, for once actually towering over the other.

Kuroo doesn’t step back, and the kiss that Kei plants on his lips swallows up whatever he was going to say.

-He doesn’t really care to know, the moment Kuroo’s hands bury themselves in his damp hair,  he knows he is wanted back just as hard-

It’s a rough, clumsy kiss, bracing himself on the door behind Kuroo, Kei doesn’t measure the distance quite well without his glasses and ends up knocking their teeth together. For a second, he can almost taste a hint of blood.

But it doesn’t matter. He keeps going, tongue slipping into Kuroo’s mouth, swallowing the other’s deep groan. This must be the most alive Kei has felt in a long time.

Kuroo’s hands roam over his shoulders, peeling his shirt over them, warm enough to set Kei’s skin on fire. 

Kei can’t help but lean into the heat, pressing his chilled skin against the other’s bare chest. 

They part for air and it’s as if something has been broken. Kei’s suddenly very aware that he’s soaked half to the bone and pinning Kuroo against a door like some manga protagonist.

Kei knows how he must look right now, the dread and fear, and surprise in his face.

And Kuroo’s letting him, Kuroo is looking up at him like he wants Kei.

To the older man’s credit, though, he does seem to catch on to Kei’s internal conflict. He stands up straighter, grabbing Kei’s arm when he flinches back. “Hey, it’s alright.” He blurts out, eyes roving over Kei’s panicked features, hand stroking tenderly at the soft skin of his arm. “It’s alright Tsukki, I know it’s soon, this doesn’t have to mean anything.” His voice is deep, with a twinge of something that sounds almost desolate. 

And Kei can’t help but melt into it.

He’s pliant as Kuroo pushes him back until his knees hit the bed, and lets the other man disentangle his arms from the wet mess that is his shirt. All the while stealing little kisses, brushing his lips over Kei’s collarbone and jaw and nuzzling the soft hairs of his undercut. Kei feels dizzy, he runs his fingers over Kuroo’s tattoo and his broad shoulders, tilts his head back baring his neck to the other’s mouth, suddenly too swept up to care about anything but the other touching him.

Until Kuroo stops moving. Kei opens his eyes to find him staring, reddish brown eyes narrowed and dark, mouth pressed in a thin line.

“Is something wrong?” he asks, straightening up, self-conscious once more. 

Kuroo stares for another couple of seconds, then he sighs, hands clenching into fists. “It’s nothing Tsukki. “And then his voice is rough and embarrassed, Kei sees him reach for the dry clothes he gave Kei earlier. “Do you want to get dressed?” the older man says, holding the clothes out to him.

And Kei is so ready to take it as a rejection, to storm into the bathroom and change as fast as he can. But the longing in Kuroo’s eyes stops him. He’s being given a choice. 

Because Kuroo is a good person, and clearly doesn't want to take advantage of the mess Kei currently is.

Fuck, Kei hates being pitied, but he can’t even say anything in this situation.

He takes a deep breath and decides.

That’s when a shrill, ringing sound -some anime song- startles them both, Kuroo dives for the phone, canceling the call before he can even see who it is. 

Kei looks at him, just for a second, stretched up on the bed, that gloriously miserable look in his eyes.

But then it’s his phone that rings, and Kei picks it up with all the intent to reject the call and attend to what’s currently in front of him.

It never happens, though because it’s Akaashi that’s calling, Akaashi that has called exactly thirty-four times. So he answers. “Hey, where are you guys?” he says.

Akaashi seems to be somewhere noisy, but even then, Kei can identify the note of panic to that beloved voice, the way it trembles at the end of sentences. He knows it that well. “K-Kei. I’m at the hospital.”

“What? Why?” Kei rips the dry clothes form under Kuroo. Trying to keep the phone to his ear and slip into the sweatshirt at the same time.

Kuroo watches him, wide-eyed.

“I- Bokuto called me, he said there was an accident and they were taking him to a nearby hospital,” Akaashi says, and by that point, Kei just turns on the speaker, so Kuroo can stop looking at him like that. “He said it wasn’t anything big, and not to tell his mom.” Akaashi rants. “But he won’t answer his phone anymore and since I got here I haven’t been able to speak to anyone I'm not sure what happened, what if-“

“We’re coming Akaashi.” Kuroo interrupts him. “We’re coming, ok? Where did you say you were?”

While Kuroo takes down the data, Kei slips out of his pants and into Kuroo’s Nekoma ones, and helps himself to some shoes that are lying under the bed. 

Kuroo’s not going to mind -though is shoes are a size too big, god, Kei’s going to look ridiculous at the hospital.

They are in the car in less than ten minutes, the previous incident not forgotten, but certainly taking the backseat to the current situation.

.

.

Keiji had just finished putting the candles on the cake. When he got the call.

Bokuto was due there any second. And then, Kuroo and Tsukishima in about half an hour.

He remembers Bokuto’s pained voice with startling clarity. “I fell off the stands ‘Kaashi, but it’s not a big deal, really, my leg's hurt but I’m ok everywhere else, I think- Please don’t tell my mom.” And then someone, further away. "Don't listen to him, he hit his head."

The resulting scuffle, Bokuto getting the phone back and then giving Keiji the name of a hospital close to the gym where Bokuto’s team has their practice every day. "But it's really nothing, I'm fine- No, shut up, I'm fine."

Keiji was calm for the first few minutes, he left everything straightened out, checked the stove, made sure to lock the door and walked outside and off-campus to get a cab.

He tried both Kuroo and Tsukishima’s phones but they both seemed to be off. 

So he got on the cab, and then started freaking out, he tied calling Bokuto again, begging for an assurance that it’s really nothing severe, that he only has to go to the hospital because it’s part of the team’s insurance since the whole thing happened during practice.

But he didn’t answer, he still hasn’t, his phone goes straight to voicemail.

And neither Kuroo nor Tsukishima have turned theirs on.

What Keiji wouldn't give to have Tsukishima, calm, demanding Tsukishima here to deal with the whole thing.

Keiji feels like he’s moored in his little island of waiting room chairs, no one has agreed to give him any details until Bokuto says it’s fine, and he apparently can’t do this because he’s in radiology.

Their excuse is that Keiji isn’t family.

And he can feel his blood boil every time they say it. Objectively, Keiji knows this is no one else’s fault and that it’s protocol, and that he really shouldn't feel such blinding fury.

Besides, he really isn't family, he’s nothing of Bokuto’s where it counts. Just an old friend from high school that all but rejected the other once already. Fuck, he doesn’t have a right to know.

All this time, he’s been waiting, quietly letting the fractured bits of his heart pull themselves back together. Hoping there will be a sign that even if he loves someone else on top of loving Bokuto, that even if he’s messed up, that even if he was a blind idiot for four years resulting in god-knows how much pain for the other, there is a chance that he can make Bokuto happy and be happy in kind, that he should try, that maybe it won't turn out horribly wrong and Keiji can make life work while shoving the feelings that aren't convenient aside.

That he can do what he's always wanted to and slip between Bokuto's arms and not let go.

Because those arms are open, they always have been.

Keiji knows better than anyone, Bokuto’s being patient and he always will be.

Doesn’t mean that he isn’t hurting though, and Keiji can’t begin to explain his web of messy feelings for one person or another.

Now he might not even get the chance.

No.

No.

He’s aware that his thoughts are running away with him now. Everything so far points at Bokuto being mostly alright, or at least not in mortal peril, it even makes sense -in Keiji's scarce knowledge of the subject- that he’s not allowed to have his phone with him in radiology, but still…

Keiji tries Kuroo and Tsukishima again, and surprisingly, this time they answer.

He feels better to know that they’re coming, but his anxiety keeps mounting. Keiji knows he shouldn’t, but he pulls at his fingers and pops his knuckles so hard that they end up hurting. Breathing in the seraile waiting room air that smells like antiseptic and almost makes him want to puke.

When the nurse comes to the door that connects the waiting room with the rest of the hospital, Keiji doesn’t lift his head, there’s a good amount of people here, and there have been many calls from many nurses already, everytime Keiji looks up hoping it's for him he ends up a little bit more anxious. “Umm who is here for… Bokuto Koutarou?” She calls.

And Keiji gets up so fast that he gets dizzy.

Chapter Text

Everyone’s overreacting.

He’s fine for god’s sake. At most, he must have an ankle sprain.

But no, just because he got a little cut on the side of his face and head while rolling down the stand’s, he had to get a brain scan and all.

Like really, he can count, talk, and could probably draw pretty decently if he was allowed a pencil and paper to do it with.

After they made up Kuroo’s apartment so nicely too.

And now he’s here in this tiny cubicle without a stitch of clothing and starting to get cold.

Koutarou pouts.

After a while, he hears steps coming down the hall. The cubicle’s curtain opens on the same nurse that set him up in the cubicle.

And Akaashi.

Akaashi who is looking at him like Koutarou has been missing for ages and he has just been found, not like they just saw each other this morning. “Our Trauma specialist will be by in a second to give you a rundown on the scans.” The nurse says, cheerily and steps out, leaving Koutarou and Akaashi alone.

For a second, Akaashi just looks at him, a haunted look on his face. Koutarou suddenly feels like he really needs to apologize. 

Then he steps towards Koutarou, his left hand rising slowly to brush over the stitched cut on his cheekbone and head. “What happened? You’re all beat up.”

He sort of is, there’s this big cut on his cheekbone and temple that’s just surrounded by a huge bruise. His shoulder and ribs are bruised too, and his right ankle hurts like hell. The doctor even said it might be broken, and that would be bad.

Especially since the reason is so tremendously stupid that even Koutarou is kind of ashamed to tell. “So- uh- I kind off fell down the stands.” He says, unable to meet Akaashi’s eyes.

“Uh-huh.” The man hums, looking at Koutarou with narrowed eyes. “How?”

It's like he already knows. Koutarou feels like a fool, he’s just made Akaashi rush across the city, probably nearly killing him from an anxiety attack. He at least deserves is the truth. “Ugh, do you remember that backflip video? The one I managed to do last week?”

Akaashi’s eyebrows rise, a knowing expression dawning on his face. “The one I said was very dangerous because you literally fall a meter lower than you started?” His lips press into a thin line and the hand brushing comfortingly over Koutarou’s cheek disappears. “On top of doing it way up on the stands, where you can roll down?”

Koutarou flinches. “Hey 'kaashi! It's on top of the stands because it looks cooler. But yeah, Oomori landed it too.” He explains, as his cheeks fill with color, looking down at his fingers. “We wanted to make a cool video doing it at the same time, and like everything was going fine ‘Kaashi, really! But I think I jumped a little further than usual the second time, cuz I was excited. And like only one of my feet made it to the edge and then it bent, so I…”

“Rolled down the stands.” Akaashi completes, hands coming up to cover his face in an exasperated gesture.

“It was only like three levels.” Koutarou puffs out his cheeks and turns away. Yeah, it does sound really stupid when he puts it like this.

A long, drawn-out groan escapes from Akaashi’s chest. 

When he finally pulls his hands away, his face is red, eyes brimming with tears. His mouth opens. “Bokuto Koutarou, I love you, I do, but if you ever do something that stupid and scare me like that again I’m going to-“

“I love you too.” It’s automatic, Koutarou hasn’t finished processing Akaashi’s words, but it doesn’t matter, his mouth moves before he can tell it not to. 

And just saying it feels wonderful, like he’s letting down a load so large that he can breathe properly for the first time in what feels like an eternity. Koutarou has to fight an overbearing urge to smile.

Because Akaashi said it too, Akaashi said it first, and to him.

Hearing him tell Kuroo before doesn’t hold a candle to it.

And then he looks up at Akaashi, who is frozen, still red, still wide-eyed. And then a tear slips out of his right eye, and another out of his left. “You are an idiot.” He says, even as Koutarou pulls him in by the wrist until Akaashi is leaning towards him, face close enough that Koutarou can see the way his perfectly applied eyeliner starts dissolving like watercolor.

Koutarou lifts his hand to wipe the tears away. “Is this ok?” he asks, because he did promise after all.

All the time in the world.

Or whatever Akaashi wants.

And for four months he's done it, no matter what.

“It’s ok.” Akaashi says, lips and voice trembling “I don’t think I need any more time, if you still-”

Koutarou knows the question that’s going to come now is the most obvious thing in the world, and they’ve wasted so much time already, he doesn’t want or need to hear it. So his hand cups Akaashi’s jaw and pulls him gently forward while Koutarou leans in.

It’s just like their kiss at Tashirojima, only better, because they are both sober and Koutarou feels certain, and loved and it’s actually so much more. Akaashi’s lips are soft and plump and they meld with his in a way that just feels right.

Akaashi’s hands come up to cup Koutarou’s face too, those long fingers soft and soothing over the injured side of it. He grins into the kiss, and feels his love smile slightly in return. 

The whole thing is quietly groundbreaking, at least until someone clears their throat outside. “So, uh guys, we were giving you two some space, but Bo’s doctor is here now.”

Kuroo, obviously.

Akaashi startles and separates from Koutarou, moving to stand respectably to his side, though one of his hands remains tangled with Koutarou's. “You can come in.” he calls, cheeks red. 

And suddenly the little cubicle is filled with people, an awkward-looking Kuro, an even more awkward looking Tsukishima and a smiling doctor with her dark hair in a long ponytail.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Kida.” She introduces herself. “I’m glad to see you’re feeling better, Bokuto-san. I am here to talk to you about your scans, is it alright to do it with your-“ her eyes drift to where his and Akaashi’s hands are tangled on each other. “-friends here?”

Koutarou grins, he’s not sure he’ll ever stop grinning now. “Sure sensei. It’s not bad news, is it?”

“No, no, not at all.” She smiles. “You were extremely lucky, actually our Neurosurgeon reviewed your brain scans and there is no apparent injury, since you never had any signs of neurological injury in the first place he’s given you the all-clear to go home.” She turns to the others. “As for the Orthopedic side of things, you have a small fracture in your ankle.” 

For a second, Koutarou feels his stomach sink, but he continues, pulling up a scan in her tablet. “It’s small and in a place that has a low rate of complications.” She says, pointing out a place where the thinner bone in his leg has a very obvious line going through it right before his foot appears, Kuroo leans in, suddenly a lot more interested. “and it’s not displaced. You won’t even need a cast, just a special ankle brace.”

That’s… a lot better than he expected. “So no surgery? How long until I can play again?” he blurts out.

She smiles knowingly. “Of course not, but you are going to have to keep from doing anything strenuous for at least four weeks.”

Four weeks is actually pretty decent, there are no tournaments until February, the team will probably be ok with it. Koutarou might just jump from happiness if he didn’t currently feel like he was trampled by a baby rhino. "That’s all? Thanks doc! Do I have to stay the night?”

“No, no, of course not.” She says. “We're already doing the paperwork, you have very good insurance. Although I would like to ask you for a favor in the meanwhile.”

“Whatever it is!” Koutarou says. 

“Well, the friends who brought you showed me a video of how you got injured, it shows the way your foot bends when you try to land very clearly. Would you mind if we used it for future seminars? You’ll have to sign a release form. Your friend said he had already sent it to you.”

“Well sure.” Koutarou snickers. “At least people are gonna get a laugh out of it. “Kuroo, can you hand me my phone? It’s over there charging.”

Kuroo hands him the phone, and when it turns on, all of them. The doctor included lean in to look at the video.

The first one to speak after it plays is Tsukishima. “How are you alive?” he says, nose furrowing cutely. “Are we sure your head’s right? That looked like a bad hit.”

“Don’t be a downer Tsukki, I never even passed out!” Koutarou counters. “’sides, I’m tough!”

“Yup, Bo’s head is hard,” Kuroo responds. “Which is really good luck for you Bro, any of us mortals would be in the ICU.”

“That’s actually true, you were lucky.” The doctor says, handing Koutarou a form, which he promptly signs. “Thank you very much. You’ll be out in about half an hour, maybe one of you can get Bokuto-san’s clothes?”

Though all of it, there’s one person in the room that isn’t smiling -even nervously like Tsukishima- Koutarou squeezes the hand in his lightly, and Akaashi turns his head to him, face serious and worried. “Are you mad?”

Akaashi’s lips press into a tight line. “Of course.” He says. “That’s a scary thing to watch, you could have really gotten hurt. Promise you won’t do things like that?”

Koutarou smiles, understanding Akaashi’s genuine worry. “I can take it down a notch.” He says, smiling up at him.

“Good.” Akaashi’s mouth stretches into a small smile, and then he looks up at the others in the room, worried again.

“Tsukishima, will you accompany me to get Bokuto’s clothes?”

.

.

Kei can see the tense set of Akaashi’s shoulders as they walk to the zone where the patient’s belongings are delivered. 

It is quite obvious that he and Kuroo were there for a large part of the exchange that most definitely led to the sprouting of an actual romantic relationship between Bokuto and Akaashi.

So what’s making Akaashi all tense is probably that. “I'm sorry you had to see that.” He says. “I didn’t think you two would make it so quick, and I also didn’t plan for it to happen like this.”

“So you didn’t plan to have Bokuto do something stupid that could have killed him, only to land him briefly in the hospital so you could confess in a fit of concerned anger?” Kei chuckles and raises an eyebrow a the other's stunned face. “I know.” He says, voice a lot quiet. “I'm happy for you two.”

“Tsukishima.” Akaashi all but whispers. “Are- Thank you. But I really un-” He then looks Kei up and down, like it’s the first time he’s really taking in how he looks. “Why are you wearing Kuroo-san’s clothes?”

“Because it started pouring as soon as we left his practice,” Kei grumbles. “Don’t make those eyes at me, if anything this is Bokuto’s fault.”

Akaashi gives him a look that Kei can easily interpret as the other man not believing it was that innocent.

Still, some part of him doesn’t want to tell Akaashi. Even if he might make the man feel better about the fact that on the first day they’ve met up since they broke up, Kei had to listen to him confess to someone else.

I might be because he’s still stunned enough from the fact that he almost had sex with Kuroo, that he mostly does feel happy for Akaashi -there’s always that annoying, part of him that is immensely jealous and sad but that can’t be helped-. But Kei thinks there’s something else.

He doesn’t want to tell Akaashi -and he probably won’t tell Tadashi- because he doesn’t know what that meant to him. 

Or to Kuroo.

And he’ll be damned if he’s going to talk to the other man about it.

.

.

Tetsuro can’t help but love the precious grin in Bokuto’s face.

He also can’t look at it for too long, it’s too bright and his thoughts are running an the opposite current. Now that he knows that Bokuto is going to be fine -although he has absolutely no idea how, Bokuto probably leeches luck from the environment- his brain is reminding him in very unsubtle ways that he almost-

There’s no other way to say it, he almost fucked Tsukki in his room after the younger man riled him up.

And the blond’s moment of hesitation barely deterred him, it took all of Tetsuro’s self-control to stop for a second. If Akaashi hadn’t called, he’s not sure what would’ve happened.

At least Tsukishima seemed to want him back, Tetsuro muses, the blond may not be interested in him the way Kuroo is, but at least like this, he’s not a sucker drooling over someone he can’t have.

Well, partly.

Being subtle is not one of Tsukishima’s talents, Tetsuro could practically feel his gaze all through practice, and it was definitely not innocent.

They really need to talk about this.

Except…

He looks at Bokuto again, with his bright, bright grin. “So you think you two are together now?”

Bokuto’s grin grows impossibly wider. “Well, duh. I know Akaashi.”

And so does Tetsuro. 

Fuck.

Whatever existential issue that was stopping Akaashi before has been superseded, it’s obvious. He’s letting himself be Bokuto’s now, so maybe it’s not the best moment to talk to Tsukishima either.

Tetsuro might also need a second to process it.

But just a second, because the feelings he’s processing shouldn’t even exist.

-shut up, they don’t, they don’t-

“Well, congrats Bro.” he manages to smile, noting how it gets easier every time he has to force it. “It took you two long enough.”

“I don’t care,” Bokuto says. “I’m happy, I’m even happy I fell down the stands.”

Tetsuro is about to admonish him for that, after all, Bokuto did pull a stupidly dangerous stunt and he’s as mad as Akaashi if not more, but then Akaashi and Tsukishima step into the room, carrying Bokuto’s clothes with them. 

Beside him, the owl stiffens, eyes widening. “Tsukki, you-“ The blond turns to Bokuto, eyes narrowed but resigned, like he just knows. “You’re wearing Kuroo’s clothes!”

A pandemonium of yelling and Tsukishima almost throwing a basin at Bokuto ensues, and Tetsuro is so busy laughing that he forgets he’s sad for a minute.

.

.

They arrive at his dorm when the food is cold and Tetsuro’s flatmates are just staring at it. The whole meal ends up being pretty rushed, it’s well into the night and Tsukishima has an early morning, while Bokuto has to explain to his mother how he got hurt.

So he doesn’t really get the opportunity to speak to Tsukishima, hell the blond ends up leaving in his clothes, promising to send them through the mail or bring them to Kuroo when he comes down for Spring Nationals.

Tetsuro is already in bed by the time that he remembers his gift, half-asleep even, but he makes the effort to get up and pull it out of his bag.

It turns out to be one of those Bluetooth speakers -that he remembers complaining to Tsukki about not having, and thus being unable to listen to music in the bathroom-. In the shape of a black, fuzzy cat with smart-looking eyes.

There’s a note to go along with it.

Couldn’t find one with a bird’s nest on his head.

You're using it for my playlist first.

-Tsukishima.

.

.

Keiji goes back home that weekend.

Partly because he’s running out of clean clothes, partly because there’s a pole seminar close by on Saturday morning, and partly because his boyfriend, who is on relative rest orders is stuck at his own house which is conveniently close by.

And Bokuto is being whiny.

He’s not supposed to run or jump for a while still, and limiting his energy to a reasonable walking pace is apparently quite challenging. 

And then there’s the fact that Bokuto has two younger sisters, both of whom are still very young and run circles around him.

So, for the sake of Bokuto’s fractured foot, Keiji has lunch with him and his family on Saturday and then whisks the other man away to his house where he can at least keep him still with movies.

All for the sake of his ankle of course.

It’s not that Keiji’s feeling slightly insecure and needy since he and Kuroo dropped Bokuto off at his house on Tuesday night, not at all, even if after all that, real-life hit him and he couldn’t visit under the weekend.

It has only been three days.

But a hard three days.

So when Keiji comes back to the room after brushing his teeth and Bokuto already has rearranged the pillows and blanket and is flipping through Keiji’s Netflix account his heart warms a little.

It’s also slightly weird, even if they used to do this before in high school. 

“Are you looking for something in particular?” Keiji says taking a seat on the edge of the bed with all the decorum he can muster.

“Nah.” Bokuto says, sitting up against the headboard stiffly. “I was going to put in a superhero movie, but it’s kinda rainy outside and- I dunno.” He says, and Keiji wonders if he’s nervous too. “Maybe you had something you wanted to watch?”

“Not really.” Keiji hums, “I’ve been meaning to start a lot of shows but I never get to it.”

An awkward silence stretches between them, and Keiji can't help but look way. This might be a lot of pressure. “Um- Akaashi.” Bokuto is biting his lip, looking at him with a sort of pleading expression. “Like it’s fine if you don't want to cuddle or anything. You don’t have to be so fidgety, y'know?”

“No, no. I-I want to.” Keiji stammers. “It just felt strange, and I'm moving like this because my legs are sore from the workshop this morning.”

Bokuto bites down at his bottom lip and opens his arms at Keiji. “Well come here.” He says. “It’s chilly outside.”

And Keiji wonders why he even worried in the first place as he crawls on the bed and leans back on one of Koutarou’s outstretched arms while the other falls heavy around his middle and the man’s lips press softly to his cheek. “You’re warm." he says, and wiggles closer.

“You know me ‘kaashi.” He chuckles. “Now which of these were you wanting to start?”

"Umm, that one?" And so, the first episode of Outlander starts playing on the screen and Keiji feels like things might be alright after all.

He gets through the first episode and about half of the second, as far as he remembers at least. 

When he wakes up there’s still some dim light streaming into the room through his curtains. He’s enveloped in heat, Bokuto’s strong arms wrapped around him with his back pressed against the other’s front, and Bokuto’s heard buried into Keiji’s shoulder.

It would be adorable and Keiji might just go back to sleep if something were not poking him in the thigh. 

He could always slip away to the bathroom and pretend he never felt it. Bokuto’s probably not going to acknowledge it when he wakes up.

But something stops him.

Keiji kind of wants Bokuto to.

He was never an overly physical person, until Tsukishima, and even then they couldn’t meet so often that it really mattered. But right now, as he feels the heat rise to his cheeks and coil in his belly, he realizes that he’s alone in his house with his boyfriend and really, really wants to fool around.

With considerable effort, he manages to wiggle inside Bokuto’s hold enough that he’s facing the other man, Keiji throws a leg over the other’s hip and stares at his sleeping face. It’s almost a waste to wake up someone that looks so content.

But then again, he’s sure Bokuto won’t mind. 

The cut on Bokuto’s face is still stitched up and healing, and Keiji begins from there, kissing softly down the tender skin until he reaches Bokuto’s plump, slightly chapped lips. He can tell, by the sharp intake of breath when the other wakes up.

Bronze eyes open, bleary from sleep, and filled with affection. “’kaashi.” He says against Keiji’s lips. “Whatcha doin’?”

“Mmm, nothing.” Keiji hums. “I woke up an you looked nice.” He presses a short peck to the other’s chin. “Wanted to kiss you.”

Bokuto is quiet fr a moment, gathering himself, Keiji supposes, he’s slow to wake. But he can still feel Bokuto’s hard on poking at him through the thin fabric of their sweatpants. “Umm ‘kaashi, I mean it’s not like I don’t want to.” He says, cheeks turning slightly pink

“But?” Keiji teases, Bokuto seems to think he hasn’t noticed. 

“I have a little, y’know?” He says, eyes drifting downwards.

Keiji chuckles and wiggles a little, better adjusting their bodies to rub against each other, making Bokuto groan. “You mean this? It’s ok.” Keiji kisses him again, slow and soft. "I am too"

“Mmm ‘kaashi.” Bokuto moans into the kiss, and Keiji takes the chance to slip his tongue into his mouth, relishing on the wet heat and the way Bokuto immediately sucks on his tongue.

Keiji feels one of Bokuto’s hands slide down to grab his ass, while the other pulls him closer into the kiss, turning it slightly more intense than the sleepy thing it was a second ago. "Want you a lot baby."

In response he wraps his leg tighter around the older man's hip, causing Bokuto to shift so he’s bucking up into Keiji’s thigh, right where he has a little bruise from practice. It makes him see stars and moan into Bokuto’s mouth.

They break the kiss, breathing hard. Keiji takes the chance to gently push Bokuto on his back rolling along with him so he’s straddling his muscled hips, rocking softly against him, the friction sending little shocks of pleasure up his body. 

The image before him is tantalizing, Bokuto’s shirt is riding up, giving Keiji a peep at his tanned, muscled abdomen and the man is looking at him with eyes so full of love that it makes Keiji dizzy. “Koutarou,” he says, almost without thinking, and when the other props himself up and tugs at his shirt Keiji is happy to comply, lifting his arms so the garment can be removed.

.

.

He’s in heaven, there’s no other way to say it.

Koutarou didn't expect this at all, when Akaashi asked him to spend the evening at his house the most he thought was going to happen was cuddling, maybe some kissing if Akaashi was in the mood.

And here he is, with this beautiful creature in his arms, panting and moaning and-

He runs his hands over the other’s chest, mapping out every nook, softly stroking the bruise on his side that he knows comes from Akaashi’s pole practice. He gets to the others hard, pink nipples, bending down to kiss and nip at them while the dark-haired man shivers and moans. “So pretty Keiji.”

Akaashi’s hands bury in his hair, pushing it back and pulling Koutarou up for another kiss. “You’re the one that looks pretty,” Akaashi says when they break the kiss. And a jolt of affection courses through Koutarou. "Your body, and your eyes and your smile."

“You’re beautiful then. My beautiful Keiji.” He says, looking into those pretty blue eyes and means it so much. Even more when Akaashi starts grinding softly against him. "Hmm so good to me." Koutarou can feel the way their erections rub together, even through their pants, and he responds in kind. One of his hands stays on Akaashi’s chest, pulling and pinching at his nipples, while the other slides down under Akaashi’s pants and underwear to cup his ass and pull him closer, impossibly closer.

Akaashi keeps on moving, little sounds of pleasure escaping him, hands wrapping like an anchor around Koutarou’s neck, head thrown back exposing the arch of his neck.

Koutarou can’t help it, like the starved man he is, he dives in to bite at it, softly at first then -when Akaashi moans loud and arches even more- harder, sucking into the place where Akaashi’s shoulder meets his neck.

It leaves a pretty impressive red mark that Koutarou is pretty damn proud of.

For a second he wonders if it’s all going too fast, but after four years of admiring and loving and wanting it just feels like exactly what he should be doing.

Akaashi looks down at him, mouth red and bruised. Koutarou can’t help but bring his hand up and brush his thumb over it, which Akaashi seems to take as an invitation to suck on the thumb in a way that only makes Koutarou harder.

They stare at each other for a second, and then Akaashi kisses his slick finger and says “Please.”

And that’s Koutarou’s undoing, he reaches down to shove Akaashi’s ants and underwear down and then tries to do it on himself. Only he puts weight on his ankle then, and a jolt of pain courses up from his leg. “Ow. ‘kaashi, I’m gonna need a little help there.”

Akaashi smiles. “Of course.” He moves so he’s on Koutarou's side and takes off his pants all the way. His boyfriend’s long, creamy legs fully on display, dotted here and there with purplish spots are delightful, his round ass even more so. And Koutarou can see his hard, red cock leaking n between them. “Now lift your hips, Koutarou.” 

He obeys, and Akaashi reverently slides the pants down his legs, carefully extricating them from his swollen, purplish ankle. This, of course, leaves his pretty ass turned towards Koutarou. “So nice.” He finds himself saying, hand reaching out to fondle the toned globes.

A shiver courses down Akaashi’s spine, and he leans back against the hand, Koutarou licks his lips. “C’mere.” He whispers, laying back against the pillows and bringing a pliant Akaashi with him “Lift your leg.” Koutarou says, and manages to maneuver him so Akaashi can straddle his face.

“Koutarou are- oh.” He licks and bites up Akaashi’s inner thighs, coming to place a broad lick down the underside of his dick. Akaashi doesn’t stay still either, he arches his back in this tantalizing way that shouldn’t be possible, and though Koutarou can’t see it he feels the younger man's hands grasp his hard length. “You’re very big.” Akaashi sounds a bit perplexed. "It's going to be so good Kou."

Koutarou chuckles. ”I'm going to make you feel so good Keiji.”, and then he’s mouthing at the head of the other’s dick and Keiji’s doing the same to him.

It feels so good, Koutarou nearly comes on the spot. Akaashi’s strokes are practiced, though he gags a little, hand grasping at the base which he can’t reach with his out. Koutarou does his best to buck up, but it's hard when Akaashi's stroking him so nicely.

He keeps licking, the angle is a little awkward to get all of Akaashi down his throat, but he almost manages to and the vibrations of Akaashi’s moans on his own erection feel wonderful when he does.

They find a rhythm, Koutarou stopping sometimes to lick playfully at the other’s perineum and press his tongue softly at the fluttering pink hole which makes Akaashi whine loudly.

Oh, he wants to fuck him, but for the moment his ankle will probably not allow that, So Koutarou settles for swallowing as much of Akaashi’s cock as he can while pressing his spit-covered thumb inside with surprisingly little resistance. He feels Akaashi clench against him then, throat constricting and vibrating from his moans, making Koutarou see white. He comes down Koutarou’s throat just a second before Koutarou does, all over Akaashi’s chin and the upper part of his chest.

Akaashi’s legs are shaking, so Koutarou helps him turn around. The expression he sees on his face once he's upright and nestled in his arms is fascinating. He’s flushed, pupils blown wide and eyes hazy. “You’re so good, Kou, make me feel so good. I love you.” He rambles, a bit incoherently, delighting Koutarou.

“Nope, it’s all you, baby, I love you too.” Koutaro says, grinning and he kisses Akaashi again, basking in the afterglow. 

.

.

Kei’s last high school qualifiers match is in early December against Aoba Johsai.

Karasuno wins, of course, the five third years finally understanding how that long-ago day when Hinata scored the last point against Shiratorizawa felt for their seniors.

So Kei’s going to Nationals.

And probably the university of Tokyo, if he passes the exam.

Both things are coincidentally happening the next month. As he walks to hug Akiteru in the stands, Kei can already see how his winter break is going to be spent. He makes a mental note to ask Kuroo how in hell he lives, because or the next month, Kei is going to have to take a page out of the other’s book.

Maybe the dread to know what’s coming and the infinity of what will come after that is why, when Kunimi, now Aoba Johsai’s captain, flirts with Kei -as much as someone similarly stoic ever does flirt-, Kei finds himself flirting back.

And also why, the next day, a fine Sunday afternoon of Kei’s is spent in Kunimi’s bed, burying his hands in the other’s dark hair and very purposefully fucking him into the mattress.

Whatever, Kei feels a lot less stressed after.

And Kunimi doesn't want a relationship which is completely fine.

It’s his right, isn’t it?

And then he figures, this might where the whole issue with Kuroo came from, maybe Kei was just frustrated? And stressed. And Kuroo is attractive, but he’s Kei’s friend too and that’s where all the inner conflict came from.

It’s just s good an explanation as any.

Besides, it just isn’t possible that Kei’s dumb crush from first year could have transcended so much right? Much less when he, in his own, quite restrained and resigned way, still has feelings for Akaashi.

Right?

.

.

Winter break of Tetsuro’s second year of college couldn’t be more different from the previous one.

He’d thought being angsty on a trip with his close friend was sad, he’d been angry, even and stared out at the ice in Hokkaido like it had done him a personal wrong.

But all in all, he had Bo.

He'd always had Bo, now that he thinks about it.

Now… now he doesn’t and that’s the hard truth. 

Not that Tetsuro begrudges him his happiness -or if he does, it’s only a little-, or Akaashi his. After all, people get together all the time, and if they chose each other what do Tetsuro’s feelings matter? Or anyone else’s for that matter.

But he still misses Bokuto in a way he hasn’t missed anyone before. And that's saying a lot, because they still do see each other, but Tetsuro somehow feels like he's stopped fitting beside him.

It’s something that tears at him, like someone has taken a big bite of the bedrock of Tetsuro’s world. And now nothing really makes sense and every other step he feels like he’s sinking into burning lava or molten ice.

And God he can’t deal with this. 

Not more of this.

He’s already such a messed up person, and now he’s going to have to look up if having romantic ‘feelings’ for multiple people at the same time is even a thing that happens or if he’s starting to hallucinate.

And he has no idea what would be worse.

-at least, if it’s a hallucination, he can get medication and therapy, the other things, not so much.-

Even Tsukishima, who was his solace these past few months is more distant. Tetsuro doesn’t push because he understands. The blond has his university exams and Nationals in January. Tetsuro himself got very wound up around this time in his third year of high school.

-when it was Kenma dragging him to eat and making him sleep, that’s how everyone knew it was serious-.

Tetsuro at least had championships in December -made it to quarterfinals, thank you very much- and now he has… dorm parties he supposes, not everyone wants to be with their family.

And he’s afraid of all the questions if he comes back home for more than two days at a time, his grandma has a laser eye for sadness and worrying.

So he has parties, and extra studying and thinking of changing his major. 

And Bokuto has Volleyball and Akaashi. And Akaashi has Bokuto and college and his pole classes.

And there’s no room in there for Tetsuro.

.

.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -18:47

‘Sup Tsukki.

I need your help.

FROM: ME -18:49

No

It’s Christmas Eve Bokuto-san.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -18:49

I haven’t even asked you!

You little brat.

I just.

Is Kuroo mad at me? I know you two talk.

He’s barely talked to me all month.

I mean ‘kaashi has seen him more!

FROM: ME -18: 57

They do go to the same university, Bokuto-san.

Proximity and all that.

Why would I tell you?

I’m not going to start spilling stuff said to me in confidence.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -18:57

**sent a sticker**

**sent a sticker**

**sent a sticker**

**sent a sticker**

I knew it, he’s mad at me.

What did I do Tsukki?

I miss him.

And don’t sass me, I’m your sempai.

FROM: ME -19:00

Please stop it with the crying cats.

And I don’t know.

He’s being weird in general. But if he won't admit it to you, he won't admit it to me.

You know how he is.

And you’re not my sempai, for the last time, we didn’t go to the same school.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -19:01

**sent a sticker**

That’s the last one, I swear.

I didn’t do anything.

We were fine one day.

And the next poof.

Cold, moody Kuroo getting drunk without me

Tsukki, what do I do?

FROM: ME -19:03

I don’t know.

Talk to him?

You’re the one that’s worried.

.

.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -14:13

Are you sure you want to do that?

I mean the noise.

And the lack of personal space.

You’re going to be the only sane one out.

FROM: ME -14:16

I don’t think I mind so much.

I’m like desensitized to it now.

Sometimes it’s even fun.

And we have to do it before January ends.

FROM: TSUKISHIMA KEI -14:26

O_o Whatever floats your boat then.

Although I guess you couldn’t date Bokuto-san if you weren’t used to it.

I mean if it’s affecting your lives so much go for it.

For what is worth, Kuroo is acting weird.

Even I see it.

.

.

Koutarou isn’t stupid.

He’s not book smart like Tsukki and Akaashi, he’s also not good at reading people like Kuroo.

But he’s not stupid and he takes great offense to his best-fucking-friend thinking he is.

At least that’s how it seems. 

His initial plan was to shake some sense into Kuroo until that stupid, dogged look left his face and then get his best friend back.

Akaashi -the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to him- stopped him. Pointing out that Kuroo is stubborn and never going to admit that he thinks Koutaro doesn’t want to see him now that he has a boyfriend.

The worst is that he’s right.

Kuroo might be the most stubborn person ever, once something gets in his head, more than even Tsukki if that’s possible.

Akaashi asks Koutarou to let him think of a solution, but a month passes and then two. He and Akaashi look at apartments because Koutarou needs his own space and Akaashi is done with living at the dorms and the flatmates who don’t even have the decency to not have sex in the kitchen.

And they find the perfect one, but it’s too big.

Koutarou would get it, only Akaashi doesn’t want him to pay for everything -that’s why Koutarou has a job anyways- so they keep looking.

And the Kuroo-problem perpetuates itself until it's the last week of January. Koutarou is pissed at this point.

But it seems that the apartment search has paid off, Akaashi calls him all excited one day to one of the cafés on his campus, saying he has found a way. 

Of course, it wouldn't be that easy, he arrived to find Akaashi sitting with a bundled up, tired-looking Kuroo that startled and almost tried to bolt when he saw Koutarou. 

So now Koutarou is here, facing his best friend who barely talked to him all December and wondering if it’s too late for his 'shaking some sense into him' plan.

What the hell does Akaashi -who is sitting on the chair between them like a cat with a cream mustache- pretend with this? “I know the two of you haven’t been on very good terms lately. But I need you two to talk.” He says. “Besides if you work it out I might have something interesting to propose.”

Koutarou loves him, but sometimes he has no idea what goes through his lovely boyfriend’s head. Under the table, one of those long-fingered hands squeezes his knee reassuringly.

No, scratch that, whatever other convoluted idea Akaashi has, he knows Koutarou misses Kuroo, that’s why they’re here and he trusts Akaashi. “Well, I mean- I'm not mad or anything.” He says, huffing and looking at Kuroo, who, he now just realizes, looks both hangover and run down. “You’re the one who randomly stopped wanting to hang out.”

Kuroo sighs, hand tugging at his thick scarf. “I didn’t really, I was busy.” he groans. “I had championships and midterms.”

“Uh-huh,” Koutarou says. “Like I wouldn’t want to just hang around your dorm, and you didn't even let me go see you at championships!” Their drinks arrive and Kuroo looks at his cup of black coffee like it’s the most delicious thing in the world. It’s annoying. “If you don’t want to be friends anymore it’s fine,” Koutarou snaps, crossing his arms, eyes burning.

At least that gets the other’s attention. “Bo, no.” he says, looking up from the drink. Guilt taking over his face. “I really have been busy. And I didn’t want to intrude on you two, ok?”

Koutarou glares at him. “You know you wouldn't be intruding. 'Kaashi likes you too.”

“I do.” The man interjects directing a soft smile at Koutarou.

“Yeah but it’s like you two have your couple time now too.” Kuroo looks up, voice soft. “I thought you’d prefer to spend it alone.”

“Tetsu, there’s like, a lot of time.” Koutarou says, he’s not sure what brought this on, hell, he doesn’t recall saying anything of the sort at any point. Under the table, he slides his foot to nudge at the other’s shoe. “’kaashi and I are not like melded together or anything. And I miss my Bro.”

Kuroo looks down, takes a sip of his coffee, looking tired and very miserable. “I miss you too.” He mumbles. “But I mean, it’s normal. We don’t even live close anymore.”

“I-“

But then Akaashi interrupts him. “So you both agree that you would like to see each other more?” Perplexed, he and Kuroo exchange a look and nod at Akaashi. “Look, this is just a proposal.” He starts, looking at Kuroo. “You don’t have to say yes, there are other ways for you two to spend time together.”

“Um, sure?” Kuroo answers with a bit of humor in his voice, for the first time in the whole conversation he sounds like himself. “It would really help if I knew what you were proposing because so far it sounds like a threesome.”

And that’s it, Koutarou can’t help but laugh.

Akaashi chuckles too. “I see how that happened but no.” he pulls a folded up sheet of paper from a pocket of his coat. “This is an apartment that Bo and I were looking at last week, it’s a bit large for two people. It’s half a block from campus.” Akaashi’s voice is soft and soothing. “We decided not to take it because I didn’t want Kou to pay so much more than I was, it didn’t feel fair.”

“’kaashi! You know I don’t mi-“

“But I do.” he argues. “I know you don’t like your roommates or the dorms Kuroo. I’m a private person, so I am not sure I would like to share an apartment with a stranger, that’s why you were my first choice.” He explains. “Plus, this one here does miss you.”

“Akaashi, this is almost the same I pay for my dorm.” Kuroo says, scanning the page. “And it has three bedrooms? How?”

“We were lucky.” Akaashi shrugs. “We could even get another roommate if it turns into a financial strain.”

Koutarou has been looking at them, perplexed for all of the exchange, no, he’s not dumb, but Akaashi’s so smart. He can feel a surge of love for the other man filling him. “Keiji, that's like the best idea ever! He exclaims, throwing his arms around the other. “Bro, can you imagine? We can do video game nights again, and throw parties and-” He says turning to look at Kuroo, who seems unconvinced.

“Are you sure you two would want me in your space like that?” Kuroo asks, looking uncertain.

“Well, duh!” Koutarou lets go of Akaashi and lifts his hand across the table, clamping it over Kuroo’s shoulder, grinning like a madman. “You’re my best bro. This is like a dream.”

Kuroo’s lips press into a thin line, but it’s Akaashi that speaks fist. “I am fond of you too, Kuroo, you’re a good study partner. Unless you don’t feel comfortable living with us?”

Kuroo’s eyes meet Akaashi’s, and for a second Kutarou is sure there’s some part of the conversation that he’s missing. But then it’s gone and the first actual smile he’s seen on Kuroo’s face since he sat down appears. It’s small and a little pained but it’s there. “No, not at all. I think it’s an amazing idea.” He says.

And really, why wouldn’t it be?

.

.

FROM: ME -12:30

It actually is a great deal, financially wise.

I’m not sure I wanna know how Akaashi even got it.

I couldn’t find anything close to that price that wasn’t the dorms when I moved.

But I dunno, what if we all end up uncomfortable?

FROM: TSUKKI -12:33

I mean it doesn’t sound entirely bad.

Like it might be for me because I would be really awkward with them

But it sounds decent for you.

You’re getting a parking space for free and all.

FROM: ME -12:35

That’s quite the pragmatic perspective.

Where did my sour Tsukki go?

But ugh, yeah it does.

It actually sounds really fun.

Why am I having second thoughts in the first place?

FROM: TSUKKI -12:37

It’s common sense?

I’m friends with them, no reason to be resentful.

I don’t know, the PDA maybe?

I’d invest in soundproof headphones if I were you.

FROM: ME -12:41

My little Kouhai is growing up ;-;

Oh the PDA is fine, it’s sweet.

That might be a good idea.

FROM: TSUKKI -12:45

I’m not your Kouhai.

Wow, you’re weird.

I have to go, the bus is here.

FROM: ME -12:47

‘Kay.

Lets o grab a drink after, I’ll be around.

Good luck in nationals.

Chapter Text

In the last couple of months, Tetsuro has discovered something a bit disquieting. 

Namely that he has a really hard time saying no to Bokuto when he gets excited, or Akaashi when he shows that characteristic, quiet fondness for him.

Like really.

This predicament catches up to him as he is moving the last of his boxes to his -surprisingly spacious- new room. 

Of course, he knew that emotionally, this was a very bad idea from the very moment Akaashi suggested it, the threesome might have been more healthy, even. But in the end, the raw financial convenience and the way Bokuto’s childlike excitement flourished right in Tetsuro’s face won.

Also, he did feel very touched by the gesture.

-what’s to say he felt cherished and his heart wouldn’t let him say no-

Starving himself of their company for more than a month left his resolve weak, he supposes. Since he’d been seeing Akaashi like three times a week and Bokuto even more before deciding to put some distance.

So now here he is. 

So much for distance. 

At least his bedroom is the furthest from the master.

“’kaashi no!” the sound seems to be coming from the living room. "We can't return them!"

“Kou we don’t need this many volleyballs.” Akaashi’s voice sounds annoyed. “You said there were five. Why would we need this many!”

He can almost picture the cute way Bokuto is blowing out his cheeks. “It’s just a few more!! And for practice!”

“It’s twenty-five, it’s on the box.” Akaashi says, sounding mortified. 

“Bro! A little help?” And there’s his cue. He walks to the living room where Bokuto is sitting atop a wooden crate that indeed boasts the text ’25 volleyballs’ in bright bold blue letters on its side. “It’s not too many! Tell him.”

Tetsuro is split, on one hand, volleyballs, on the other hand- “Where are we going to put that?” He asks. 

True, they don’t have that much furniture and for the price, this is a surprisingly large apartment, but it’s still a big crate. “I mean we could always stuff the volleyballs somewhere but…”

“In the guest room!” Bokuto exclaims. 

Akaashi’s eyebrows rise. “Are our guests going to sleep on the crate?”

“Oh, no one will mind!!” The owl says, stubborn. And Akaashi pinches his nose like he’s warding from a headache.

“Cant we like put them in the closet?” Tetsuro offers. “We don’t have like a bed or anything for that room anyways, and then we just throw the crate out for recycling.”

“That might work.” Akaashi shoots them both a resigned look and hums while heading to the kitchen. “But you’re figuring out how to stuff them in there.”

“That works!” Bokuto surges up, his ankle is completely healed by now and Tetsuro couldn’t be more glad for it. Then he finds himself in this crushing -trademark Bokuto- hug. “You’re the best, Bro, c’mon, let's do it now.”

Tetsuro thinks back to his unpacked boxes, the fact that the semester ends in March and it’s already late February, and how he still hasn’t done his Biology extra -credit. 

Then Koutarou lets him go and he looks at the Owl’s bright grin that almost makes his eyes close up.

“Let's go.”

Damn, he’s weak.

.

.

Akiteru and Saeko help him move in.

His dorm is pretty much just the same as Kuroo’s old one, same layout, same tiny room, same shared bathroom with limited hot water, and a dingy shower.

It’s fine though.

Everything’s fine.

After Nationals and their loss in semifinals, after his letter of acceptance for the university of Tokyo came in, Kei found himself in a rather pleasant spot, where he had time and very little in the way of responsibilities. 

And it was nice, he spent it all listening to music and going with Tadashi to the places in Sendai that they always promised they would in college. He even went on a trip to the beach with everyone so that they could see Hinata start his beach volleyball practice.

It was hilarious, he was so bad at the start.

It was as nice as it was sad, bookends and all that stuff.

Akaashi would probably chide him for using that wrong.

But he’s not here.

Akiteru and Saeko leave soon after everything's in place and they make sure Kei has stuff to eat.

As he leaves, his brother fixes him with a nervous smile, no doubt connected to the jewelry box in the older man’s pocket.

Yup, it’s happening, Kei’s officially going to be in-laws with Tanaka Ryuunosuke.

As they leave, he shoots a quick text.

FROM: ME -18:45

Tell me how it goes.

Good luck Nii-san.

Not that he’s going to need it. 

After the door clicks shut behind them, Kei fixes himself a cup of coffee and goes to lie on his bed. Somehow the tiny room seems too big, the air too light. He ponders texting Kuroo, or Akaashi. They’re really the only people whom he knows out here.

-Asahi is somewhere in Tokyo too, but Kei’s not even sure he still has his number.-

But at the end of the day, this is what he's living with here, and his ex and an old friend are not going to fix the fact that this city is a stranger to Kei.

He finishes his coffee and gets around to putting away his figurines where they fit into the room when the ring of a buzzer startles him. “Tsukishima, it’s for you.” He hears Takumi, one of his flatmates, yell.

Maybe Akiteru forgot something? Keiji steps out, glad he hasn’t changed into his pajamas yet. There, on the flat’s doorway is standing no other than Kuroo Tetsuro, leaning on the doorjamb like something out of Seventeen, leather jacket and all. “Yo, Tsukki, I’m here to kidnap you.” 

Takumi, a rather mousy looking five-feet tall computer science major gives Kei a confused look.

To be fair Kuroo’s intimidating at the best of times. 

“Uh- Kuroo?” Is al Kei manages to say.

The other chuckles. “No, it’s Bokuto now, you see, we eloped.” At Takumi’s and Kei's startled faces, the man laughs. “Who are you taking me for Tsukki?”

“He’s like that,” Kei reassures Takumi. “Am I allowed to go find a jacket and shoes?” He asks Kuroo.

The other nods, smirking. And Kei heads to his room, at this point he might as well just go along with it, he is kind of grateful for the company. And he should have expected something like this, both Kuroo and Akaashi knew when he was moving after all.

He slips into a pair of warm loafers and a dove grey cardigan, it’s very unlikely they’re taking him out to drink or something like that. 

Well, he thinks so, Kuroo always looks like that when he sees him.

Kei walks back outside, phone in hand, Takumi is nowhere to be seen and Kuroo is playing on his phone. He looks up as Kei approaches and smiles at him. “You look cute Tsukki.”

It’s not true, he looks like a grandma, but he’s comfortable this way. “Sure.” He says, and then adds. “You’re not taking me to a club or something, right?”

“Nah, it’s Sunday Tsukki. ‘kaashi and I have class tomorrow and so do you.” He says standing up. “You can’t believe we’re that bad.”

Kei shrugs. “Knowing you and Bokuto it’s better to ask.” he says.

Kuroo smirks. “Don’t worry, we’re just showing you around the apartment and watching movies.” He pauses for a second. “Though Bo is making mojitos, he doesn’t have to be up early.”

“I’m drinking one at most, I distinctly remember kissing him the last time I drank with you people.” Kei says, stepping out of the door, trying to ignore when something shifts inside his chest at Kuroo’s deep laugh.

.

.

Keiji sighs. 

His face is pressed against the back of Bokuto’s back, arms around his middle, leeching heat from the older man because spring nights are chilly and Bokuto smells so nice right after a shower.

Like musk and vanilla body wash -which is actually Keiji's, but whatever-.

“There we are.” He says, proudly presenting Keiji with his creations.

The month that Bokuto had to spend waiting for his foot to heal was hard on both of them. The older man had so much energy that Keiji couldn’t keep him still, no manner of tiring him out was good enough and he once found him doing pull-ups in a park near their houses. 

Even sex wasn’t enough. If anything Keiji found himself passing out and then limping to class a couple of times.

So Keiji suggested some courses, on whatever, he brought the equivalent of a whole info board of pamphlets that offered courses from different faculties and let him choose.

The results were a drawing group and a mixology course.

The mojitos look nice, despite being in the only set of glasses that they own, which are low and clunky and definitely not made for cocktails.

“They look nice Kou.” He says, and Bokuto frowns.

“Is something wrong?” he asks, turning around to face Keiji, his hands coming up to cup his face. “Are you nervous because Tsukishima is coming over?”

Keiji nods. “I don’t know, I don’t want things to get awkward.”

“Well you text normally, don’t you?” Bokuto says, kissing the tip of his nose, smiling brightly. “Tsukki’s a good guy and he’s still your friend. You worry too much ‘kaashi.” Bokuto says, ruffling his hair.

Keiji smiles, it’s hard not to.

But the truth is he’s still a bit worried, sure, he and Tsukishima text often and there’s no animosity or anything, but then again, he did break up with the blond and then got together with someone else the very next time they saw each other.

And he’s unsure of how both of them are going to feel about seeing the other.

-he’s chosen Bokuto, he has, for all the good it does at quenching his traitorous feelings-

Bokuto turns around again and swiftly hands Keiji a drink. “That’s yours, mostly sugar and soda, almost no booze.”

And Keiji wasn’t going to drink at all but the gesture is sweet and his throat is dry.

He does need it.

.

.

The door swings open right on Koutarou’s line of sight and in comes a frazzled looking Tsukishima -he’s wearing a cardigan, how cute is that?- escorted by a smug-looking Kuroo.

“Hey, Bo!” Kuroo call. “We have news.”

Koutarou picks up two drinks and walks towards them. “What's it Bro?” he asks, handing a drink to each man. Tsukishima looks down at the drink like it might be poisoned but takes a sip anyways.

“Tsukki’s gonna be playing with me!” Kuroo beams.

“But it’s not tryouts week?” Koutarou cranes his head to the side. “No way- you got a letter invite Tsukki?”

The blond peers down at him through pale eyelashes. God Koutarou may have gotten desensitized to how pretty he is. “Yes, after Nationals. It invited me to start regular practice before tryouts.” He hums. “This is actually pretty decent.” He says.

“Bah Tsukki, it's good!” Koutarou boasts. “I’m the best in my class.”

“Class?” Tsukishima’s brow furrows.

“Bo’s doing a mixology course.” Kuroo explains, smirking. “I’m pretty sure it’s just an excuse to get me and Akaashi drunk, but well…”

Koutarou rolls his eyes. “Maybe, but I’m still good and you like it. Any requests Tsukki?”

“I thought we weren’t getting drunk today.” The blond says dryly, eyes shifting to Kuroo.

Koutarou laughs. “No, Tsukki, but I can make you something nice next time you come. I like to practice.”

Tsukishima scoffs. “Ok then, I want Kahlua.”

“Any actual preparation?” Koutarou asks, lifting an eyebrow at him, leaning forward in a challenging way. “Or do you take it straight like a brute?”

“I have seen videos of you chugging moonshine Bokuto-san.” Tsukishima bites back, leaning in further. “But you're welcome to try to surprise me.”

By this point, they’re like less than half a foot away. Koutarou can count Tsukishima’s eyelashes and see the flecks of brown at the center of his eyes. “Fine.” He says, and stands straight again, flustered for some reason. 

Tsukishima too straightens, looking dazed, he shoots Koutarou a dirty look and starts for the kitchen. Where Keiji is peering out, looking nervous.

He’s wearing an oversized lilac sweater that makes him look smaller than he is, the sleeves are wide, but Koutarou can see the way he’s fiddling with his fingers where they join.

Kuroo stiffens when he sees him too, he hurries to the other. “Akaashi, hey.” He says, hand patting him on the back. “Tsukki’s going to play with me since tomorrow.”

“I heard Kuroo-san.” He says, evenly. “Hello Tsukishima, how have you been?” He says, looking up at the other. Akaashi’s the shortest of the four, and for once Koutarou notices how tall Tsukishima has gotten, there have to be around five inches between them. 

“Good, Akaashi.” He says softly, eyes averting. “Although I’m about to become in-laws with Tanaka-sempai.”

Akaashi tilts his head to the side, looking interested. “He proposed?”

Wait what? Koutarou and Kuroo look at each other, stunned looks in each of their faces.

Tsukki’s getting married? “He’s doing it today.”

“Wait what?” Kuroo interrupts. “I didn't get that? Isn’t Tanaka the one that looks like Tora?”

“Right, Bro.” Koutarou continues. “Are you marrying someone from his family?!! Him?”

Akaashi and Tsukishima look art each other, and burst out laughing, awkwardness dissipated. It’s rare -and actually very nice- to hear them both laugh like this, even if Tsukishima’s laugh is half-mocking. “You two are so-“ he laughs more. “My brother.” He turns to Kuroo. “He has a girlfriend he’s proposing to today. She’s Tanaka’s sister.”

“How did you assume that Kou?” Akaashi asks between discreet laughing fits.

“It sounded like that!” Koutarou defends himself, but he’s glad. Even if it does make him a bit jealous to see them have these little moments. He hasn’t forgotten they were together, and sometimes he does worry.

But Akaashi is so loving, so perfect.

He can’t even be annoyed, and if he wants to remain friends with Tsukishima, all the better. Koutarou knows a part of Akaashi cares for him.

Then Kuroo startles them all. “What are we watching then? Or are we eating first? Do I have time to show Tsukki around?”

Akaashi looks at him funny. “There are like six rooms, Kuroo-san, and I’m sure Tsukishima is hungry.”

“Also, our room is not too clean right now.” Koutarou jumps to add. He’s pretty sure his clothes from practice are still on the floor. 

“Is this about your owl boxers?” Kuroo asks tauntingly.

Koutaru narrows his eyes at him. “Shut up.”

God, he missed Kuroo so much all December, having him around still feels like a little breather. Even if he is a relentless, teasing bastard half of the time.

Meanwhile, Akaashi who has somehow slipped into the kitchen and back, walks past them with the take out in his hands. “I call the corner,” he says calmly, hurrying for the sofa.

It’s probably the nicest piece of furniture the own, L-shaped and grey, so comfortable Koutarou did not think twice about buying it. He has enough money still left over from that exhibition anyways. “’kaashi, we have a guest!" he mock complains. 

“Tsukishima will be fine. “Akaashi says, already curled up on the corner of the sofa with his favorite cushion and his drink. Container of Chinese takeout in front of him. 

Koutarou follows, taking his spot to Akaashi’s free side, pressing into his boyfriend’s lithe body and grabbing his own container. Kuroo corrals Tsukishima into sitting between the two of them. The blond settles in stiffly, legs drawing into his chest.

Once everyone has their food Koutarou grabs the remote. “So?” he says, mouth half fool of food. “I vote Zootopia.”

“Bro,” Kuroo says, amused as Akaashi speaks too.

“Nope, adult movie Kou.” He says, snatching the remote from his hand. 

Koutarou turns to wiggle his eyebrows at him. “Adult, adult?” 

“Kou! You know what I meant.” Akaashi says, glaring a little, brow furrowing. 

He’s so cute, Koutarou leans in to kiss that little crease, and then his nose, and he’s just brushed his lips over the other’s when Kuroo’s voice startles him.

“What do you mean you might not take the invitation Tsukki?”

.

.

Well, now everyone’s looking at him, Kuroo’s outburst even managed to stop Bokuto and Akaashi from making out.

-which is appreciated, but still-

Kei looks around, hoping to find some way to escape or something to hide behind, but the apartment -or what little he has seen of it so far- is pretty bare in general, there’s a TV, the sofa and a dining room table with only three chairs.

“Just until tryouts.” He tries to explain. Everyone is still looking at him like he has spouted an extra head though. “I planned on working these first three weeks.”

“But- but- coach rarely sends those out Tsukki! He might get mad.” Kuroo pleads. “Are you that strapped for cash?”

“Yeah, Tsukki.” Bokuto echoes. “I mean we can loan you some, like unless you have some mafia debts or something?”

Kei, despite his mortification, can’t help but chuckle at the thought. “No, I just don't have much spending money with the move and everything.” He says. “And I don’t want to ask my parents for more so soon.” He turns to Kuroo. “It’s just three weeks.”

“Just- No Tsukki- you don’t understand-“ he starts saying, but Bokuto cuts him off. One of his strong hands clamps over Kei’s shoulder.

“Tsukki, I now something you could do.” He says, eyes positively glittering, and Kei can’t decide if he wants to hear it or if it’s kind of weird. “I mean if you don’t need like a permanent job.”

“What are you- oh.” Akaashi grimaces. “I don’t think he’s going to want to do that.”

Ok now this is weird and Kei is kind of scared.

“Oh don’t scare him ‘kaashi!” Bokuto pulls Kei closer with a grin. “you remember when I broke my foot Tsukki?”

“Yes, Bokuto-san, I was there.” Kei answers soberly. “How does that-“

“No wait, there’s a story.” Bokuto waves his free arm. “Like I was really bored and ‘kaashi wouldn’t let me use my foot, so he got me all these pamphlets for groups and classes that you didn’t have to be in college to be in. That’s where the cocktails came in, by the way.” He grins, gesturing at their glasses. “But I also ended up in this anatomy drawing group-“

“I think I’ve heard enough,” Kei shudders, this is going in a direction that just… no.

“No- it’s not like that Tsukki. Like half the group is snooty highschoolers, the models can’t do nudes or their parents would flip.”

Kei lifts his eyebrows at the man. “Ok, go on.”

“Like, at most we might ask you to wear some short shorts, but that's it, and we need someone tall. I’ve been doing it but it’s more fun to draw.” And Kei can't help but appreciate the reverence with which he says it. “Here’ I’ll send you the info sheet, the pay’s good and we do like, six hours a week tops!”

“So I could start on the Volleyball team tomorrow,” Kei says, feeling nonplussed, he silently opens the document Bokuto has sent him to his phone. His eyes widen. “Bokuto-san this is for a session?”

“What? No, that’s the hourly rate, we all pitch in, the study belongs to one of the kids' parents so it’s not that expensive.” He shrugs. “Like I said, snooty highschoolers.”

Kei takes a gulp of his mojito -it really is good, not that he knows a lot about these things-. He does the mental math, it’s about twice what he would earn as a library assistant for each week and with a lot less hours.

Still, it’s weird.

He doesn’t want to seem too eager, but something deep inside his head -or his wallet- tells him he’s going to end up accepting. “I’ll text you.” He says.

"New model!" Bokuto somehow manages to jump while seated. “We’re meeting Wednesday night and Saturday in the early morning.”

Beside him, he notices Kuroo is gaping. “Are you really-“

“Kuroo-san, don't say anything.” Kei cuts him off. 

"Can I come?" The dark-haired man asks, eyes heavy on Kei's face.

Kei's a bit giddy and all too warm. "Only if you draw like Bokuto-san." he says and snickers at the perplexed expression in Kuroo’s face.

.

.

The Martian, ends quietly as Kei yawns in the warm shoulder beside him.

Bokuto, having had extra practice in the afternoon, did not make it past the first movie of the night, which actually did end up being Zootopia.

Kuroo held on past the opening scene of the Martian, but not by much, since Kei found the weight of the dark-haired man’s head on his shoulder not long after.

They are all huddled on the couch, Bokuto has his arm around Akaashi, hugging him close protectively, while the other is curled up into his side, arm thrown around the owl’s middle. Bokuto’s other arm is in the back of the couch, behind Kei and it radiates hear that kind of makes him want to lean against Bokuto too.  Kuroo is leaning into Kei, head resting on his shoulder and body almost curled into itself the way Akaashi’s is.

He doesn’t like to admit it, but the movie night and the cocktails and everything else relaxed him a lot.

Even Akaashi seems to be asleep and Kei wonders if it would be so bad to take a little nap too.

It’s already past midnight and his orientation starts at eight, he’s going to wish he had slept more anyways.

But it’s kind of not his place. Kei knows none of them would feel uncomfortable with it, but he still thinks there are things he shouldn't be doing.

For his own good, if anything else.

Kei takes one last look at Kuroo’s sleeping face -at least spring break erased some of the dark circles under his eyes- and begins trying to wiggle free without waking the older man.

“Tsukishima.” A hushed voice startles him. He knows it’s Akaashi anyways, Kei lifts his head to the place where, God knows for how long now, those eyes are staring at him. “Try to get Kuroo to shift closer to us, and lean forward while you do.” Kei does as he’s told. And then watches with no small amount of amazement how through a mix of careful touches, Akaashi nudges Bokuto to turn on his side. “Ok, now get up.” He says, ducking under Bokuto’s arm with a fluidity that Kei does not believe he’s seen in anyone before.

He stands up, just as Bokuto’s newly freed am comes searching, it catches on Kuroo’s shoulder, and the silver-haired man’s body immediately shifts closer and molds itself to Kuroo’s.

“What the- Akaashi?” Kei whisper-shouts at the other.

Akaashi shrugs. “Do you want some tea? I had just put on a pot when you guys got here.”

So Kei nods and follows him into the kitchen, not without shooting one last glance towards Bokuto and Kuroo, cuddled up and still out cold on the couch. Akaashi pours the warm liquid into two cups. “Is that how I ended up cuddling with Bokuto in Tashirojima?” He asks.

The older man looks up at him through his long eyelashes. “Maybe, I may have needed to use the toilet”

Narrowing his eyes at the other, Kei takes his cup and sips at the tea. It’s good. “You’re a devil.” He sips at it again. “But it’s probably very useful when living with them.”

Akaashi has this habit of grabbing cups with both hands and drinking like he’s downing a bowl of miso. Kei had forgotten, until now. The dark-haired man looks down at here his cup rests between his hands. “It is.” He says quietly. “It makes Kuroo sleep well, at least. And Kou-Bokuto, when he’s tired and I still have stuff to do.”

“So you just let them cuddle?” Kei asks, genuinely curious.

“They’re used to it from before, you know?” Akaashi takes a big drink of his tea,. “And in general, I think if it was only Bokuto and me we’d have more issues. Kuroo balances things out.”

Kei snickers. “And here I thought it was going to be you against two hyperactive toddlers.”

“Oh, sometimes it is,” Akaashi says, slightly aggravated. “But then they are also very sweet, considerate people.” His eyes rise to bear into Kei’s. “Both of them.”

For a second, Kei feels like he's been left out of the loop, he knows that’s not what Akaashi means, at all. But it feels like it, even if all evening he felt like he belonged perfectly.

Maybe he was fooling himself.

“I know.” He responds “Do you like it?”

“I do.” Akaashi hums, setting his now empty cup on the counter. “At first I only proposed it because Kuroo was being distant and it was hurting Bokuto, but it has turned out nicely.” He pauses for a second and then adds. “They are a lot less messy than I thought.”

“Really?” Kei asks. “Every time I saw Kuroo’s dorm it was full of clutter.”

Akaashi chuckles. “Don’t remind me, we have a closet full of volleyballs.” A Kei’s puzzled look he shrugs again. “They showed up in a crate, I don’t know why. But I mean, they clean up after themselves for the most part”  Kei finishes his coffee and doesn’t answer. “Are you really going to do the modeling job?”

Staring down at the kitchen tiles, Kei nods. “I think so. It’s not a long term commitment, and it pays well.”

“Well if you want to, I know you’re not that fond of Kou.” The nickname escapes Akaashi, at last, Kei has noticed him suppressing it for the whole conversation.

“I like Bokuto fine.” Kei grumbles, and Akaashi looks at him with something he can't decipher in his eyes. It’s too late for this whole thing, both literally and figuratively. “I’m going to call a cab.” He says.

Akaashi nods. “Good luck on your first day tomorrow.” He says with a weak smile, walking back to the living room.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kei sees him lay a blanket over the sleeping men on the couch.

And deep inside him, wishes he took that nap after all.

.

.

Tetsuro gets hit in the head twice during this particular practice.

He’d like to think he’s just having an odd day, a byproduct of being overfed by his grandma all spring break -and spending most of it being lazy and playing games with Kenma-, but he can’t deny that Tsukishima is mostly at fault.

It’s not like he hasn't played on the same side of the net as Tsukki in training camps and the like, but this feels somewhat different.

Before there was o actual expectation to keep doing it. Now Tetsuro has to consider the fact that if Tsukishima makes it to first string -as he surely will- this is going to happen often.

On one hand, it’s nice, Tetsuro muses, in the past two days they have formulated a couple of block setups that feel amazing to do together. There was no preparation or strategizing like this before, there was barely any time to get used to how the other moves.

On the other hand, the body of a person that Tetsuro is deeply attracted to, keeps bumping into his side with only a thin barrier of cloth separating them.

At least he knows Tsukishima’s feeling something similar. Tetsuro has caught him staring more than once, especially at the tattoo on his shoulder.

It was a spur of the moment during their trip to Hokkaido, and it doesn’t have any actual meaning other than Tetsuro thought the wings on the guy’s designs looked sick.

But it does look good. 

Tetsuro wants to be giddy about it, really, probably last year it would have been a highlight.

But lately, he’s just very tired. 

He adores Bokuto and Akaashi, but living with them takes a toll, no matter how much they try to include him in everything. In the end most nights, that door closes behind them and Tetsuro is alone in his room, with his noise-canceling headphones.

He figures they haven’t noticed, hopes they never do.

And now Tsukki’s here and suddenly everything’s all too real.

It’s overwhelming, especially because he knows that Tsukki ‘s not looking for anything more with him.

The worst is that Tetsuro has researched it, it’s got a name and everything -polyamory- and it’s not a hallucinatory disorder or anything, apparently there are people in the world fro whom it has worked out into long term, stable relationships.

So there’s no pill to cure it, and he’s clearly not going to be one of those people.

And he can’t just put distance between himself and them, not right now at least, he tried in December and look how that worked out.

Ugh.

Kuroo shakes his head and tries to focus on the present, he and Tsukishima are going up against their ace in a 3 vs 3. The bond Is looking at him through narrowed eyes. “Kuroo, focus.” He says. “Do you need a second?”

Tetsuro does his best to smirk. “Nah. I’m fine. How are you finding it Tsukki?” he says, hand coming up to the other's shoulder, leading him to the court. “Think you can keep up?”

The blond looks at him with one of those perfect eyebrows high up. “I’m ok.” He says. “So long as you stop trying to outdo Hinata in balls taken to the face, it’s scary.”

“Aw, you’re worried about me Tsukki.” Tetsuro smiles a little wider. “Never mind that, I was just distracted.”

“Mmm.” Tsukishima hums. “Whatever you say.”

And then they play again and again, and for a bit, Tetsuro forgets about the whole thing.

Because despite all it’s ill and potentially embarrassing effects on his body, he likes to play with Tsukishima.

After the end of the practice, he’s just getting out of the showers, and he notices a small group of people leaning against the gym’s entrance. He recognizes his recently graduated senior immediately, especially because Miura -whom he still doesn’t really like- is sitting amongst them, in one of those dandy shirts he favors, Tsukishima and a couple other’s are standing in front of them, making conversation.

Tetsuro approaches quietly, just in time to see Tsukishima exchanging numbers with Miura. One of those small wry smiles on his face. “Heyy!” he exclaims, getting closer. “I didn’t know you guys were coming in today.”

“Oh, you know, we were in campus taking care of some paperwork, Atsushi suggested we come to check the team out.” one says.

“Coach really has outdone himself with the letter invitations this year.” Miura continues, shooting an appreciative look in Tsukishima’s direction that makes Kuro kind of want to punch him. 

Instead, he laughs, swinging an arm over Tsukishima’s shoulders. “I know! This one was my Kouhai in high school.”

“Really?” Miura says, smile mocking. “Because Tsukishima-kun was telling us he went to school in Miyagi.”

Tsukishima rolls his eyes taking a step away from Tetsuro and ducking under his arm. “Our schools played each other often is all.” He says, pushing his glasses up, visibly uncomfortable. “Kuroo taught me a couple of things.”

Miura looks between them, at Tsukishima’s stiff form and Tetsuro’s clenched fists. “I see.” He says. “Well, do give me a call if you want to Tsukishima. Nice to see you Kuroo.”

And with that, as if he appeared solely to deprive Tetsuro of the last dregs of peace of mind that he had, Miura and his cohort stand up and walk towards the exit. 

Tetsuro turns to look at Tsukishima, who is staring at him with a frown to rival Kenma’s when someone wakes him up before dawn. The blond looks like he’s going to say someone, but then he just turns around, swinging his bag over a sweatshirt clad shoulder and starts for the opposite exit.

Tetsuro should just leave well enough alone, but he’s a fool, so he follows. 

As soon as Tsukishima hears his footsteps coming up behind him he stops and turns around. “Isn't your car in the parking lot?” he asks, annoyed. “That’s in the other direction.”

“Tsukki, don't be mad at me, the guy’s a creep.” He says.

“Is he really?” Tsukishima hisses. “Bokuto gets along with him just fine. You’re the one acting creepy.”

“I just wanted to- to.” He stammers, there’s no way that sentence is going to end up pacifying the blond.

Tsukishima sighs, hard. “Look, I know you feel responsible for me or whatever.” He looks at Tetsuro, anger patent on his face. “But it’s annoying when you treat me like a child, I know what he was asking and what I do about it is none of your business.”

Tetsuro doesn’t want to fight, really, he doesn’t.

Two kisses, years apart don’t mean much, in the end, Tsukishima’s right. “I guess.” he says, looking down. “I won’t meddle, message received Tsukki.”

For a second it looks like Tsukishima is going to say something else, though he barely looks mad, but he doesn’t and Tetsuro walks away in the other direction.

For all he wants to, he does not belong here either. 

.

.

Kei’s first session with the drawing group -or whatever it’s called- is relatively uneventful.

He is asked to take off his shirt and simply sit there, first looking straight ahead of him, then with his back to them.

It’s mind numbingly boring, it’s just him, the scratching of pencils on paper and the occasional comment from Bokuto, who seems to be the only one willing to talk while he draws.

Figures.

Kei does try to meditate or concentrate on other stuff, but the truth is that his little fight with Kuroo is front and center in his mind. He can’t figure out why he feels so guilty… well, he can, actually. Kuroo is a friend, however long it’s taken Kei to admit that, and maybe he was too harsh.

Even if the way the other treated him -like Kei’s suddenly some five year old that can’t make decisions for himself or ward off unwanted advances- was quite annoying.

It’s Kei’s business what he does and doesn’t,  and he does not appreciate the possessiveness, especially when he has caught Kuroo looking at him in ways that are definitely not friendly.

As the session ends, he stretches  feeling stiff and cold from being in the same position for too long

Bokuto comes up to him, envelope in hand. “Tsukki, I didn’t know you got so beefy.” He says. “Like it really doesn’t show well in you usual clothes.” He says, patting Kei’s still naked shoulder.

No boundaries huh?

But still, Bokuto is the last person he’s going to feel intimidated by. The man only has eyes for Akaashi after all.

So in a strange way he feels safe. “Because I haven’t been playing sports basically full time for three years?” he asks, tone dripping with sarcasm.

“Heh, like you weren’t all stringy when I met you.”  The older man says. “And you’re only getting buffer, that coach of yours really wrings you guys out”

Kei pulls on his jersey, he came straight from practice, and the comfortable sports clothes are appreciated. “I don’t know what to say to that Bokuto-san.” Kei says, arms coming back to stretch his back again. He must be all knotted up.

“Hey! I told you to not use the honorific! We’re friends!” Bokuto says. “Also if you’re having back aches ‘kaashi can help. I won’t get mad.”

“God, you guys are really relaxed with each other, aren’t you?” Kei remarks.

Bokuto frowns. “What do you mean, Tsukki?”

“I mean, you don’t mind him giving me massages, he doesn’t mind you cuddling with Kuroo.” He shrugs.

“Meh, we trust each other.” Bokuto says, leading Kei downstairs. “We don’t get mad for silly things like that, much less with close friends.”

“Oh.” Kei isn’t sure how to respond to that. “That must be nice.”

“It is.” Bokuto says, smiling softly, and suddenly Kei is so envious of him. Why can’t he feel that secure in… well anything. “Hey Tsukki.” The owl says, perking up. Wanna go for a little run?”

Kei looks at him out of the corner of his eye, the owl seems serious. “Right now? It’s 10 pm.”

“Yeah, but I mean, who wouldn’t have energy after sitting around for three hours? C’mon, it’s just going to be half an hour.” He says, stepping out not the street of the residential neighborhood where the studio is.

Kei grimaces. “Why would you want to jog with me?”

“It seems fun.” Bokuto shrugs. “Besides you’re not gonna get left behind, are you?”

The gall of him, to talk like Kei has already said yes…

Although it is a decently warm night, and maybe a run would help Kei sleep. At the pace Bokuto will be setting it’s very likely.  

Kei turns his head to the other. Bokuto is standing looking at him with this grin, that screams cat-that-got-the-cream, features softened by the light of the lampposts. Kei smirks, slowly. “No.” He says.

He doesn’t know why Bokuto is doing this, maybe he just wants someone to run with, maybe he knows about him and Kuroo being on the outs.

But it’s a distraction, and Kei has been craving something like this.

He appreciates it all the same.

.

.

FROM: UNKNOWN NUMBER -22:12

Hello, Tsukishima, this is Miura Atsushi

A friend is playing with his band on a bar close to campus.

On Friday

Would you like to join me there for a drink?

FROM: ME -23:29

It depends.

What time were you thinking?

.

.

FROM: ME -23:35

I am home.

Thank you for the fun night Miura-san

FROM: UNKNOWN NUMBER -23:45

My pleasure.

You’re very beautiful Tsukishima.

Maybe  we’ll meet again if out social circles intercept.

FROM: ME -23:48

Maybe.

See you around.

Chapter Text

Tsukishima is seriously way too pretty.

Like he’s all long and lean and pale and Koutarou would really like to paint him when he’s all smeared with golden paint like in that one movie The Neon Demon. 

This creates a lot of conflict within him, because Kuroo has been moping like hell and Koutarou’s sure it has something to do with Tsukki. Kuroo was fine before going to Volleyball practice on Tuesday then the next time Koutarou saw him after his art group on Wednesday, he was all grim faced and monosyllabic. Short of the man'smother, no one gets to Kuroo like Tsukishima does.

Now it’s Saturday morning, Kuroo is back to overworking himself, and Tsukishima is laying in front of him on a fainting couch -that's what they're called, right?-, wearing a pair of white short-shorts and staring up at the study's ceiling like it holds the secrets of the universe.

The picture he makes is pretty enough, they’ve had him lie on his back with one leg thrown over the armrest and one over the back of the couch. One of his hands is hanging over the edge of it, brushing the floor. The couch’s upholstery is a deep purple, setting off Tsukki’s complexion perfectly.

He doesn’t want to know how one of the high school kids bought a thing like this in three days and got it into the study, but hey, here it is. 

Koutarou fishes his own piece relatively fast, he prefers to do color at home anyways, and they go through another two position changes before the session disbands. 

He catches Tsukishima almost out of the door, looking distant but satisfied, no doubt because of the amount of money he has just received. “Hey Tsukki!” he says, hand closing around the other’s arm. “Do you have some time? I’m in the mood for ice cream.”

Tsukishima’s eyes widen slightly, and Koutarou delights in it, he knows the other well enough to be aware of his sweet tooth. “I have practice in an hour and a half.” The blond answers.

“Good, so do I! There’s a gelato place two blocks over.” Koutarou chirps, and before Tsukishima comes enough to his senses to find an excuse, he pulls the blond along.

Tokyo’s always nice in early April, not too hot and the places with actual greenery are in full color, Koutarou lifts his face to let the sun fall over it. 

Achoo

He turns to Tsukishima, startled.

Achoo

Of course, he has to have the smallest, cutest sneezes ever. Koutarou laughs. “Allergies?” he asks, eyeing the other’s red nose and wet eyes.

“Yesh.” Tsukishima answers while rummaging through his bag until he finds a pillbox and a bottle of water. “They’re so much worse here, ugh.”

“Well Tokyo it’s a lot more pollu- plo- contaminated.” Koutarou adds sympathetically.” ‘Kaashi told me you lived on the outer part of the city though, must be a tough change.”

Tsukishima looks at him for a second. “I’m still congested. And there’s a distinct lack of weeds“ He shrugs, looking out like he’s hoping to spot one of Tokyo’s manicured decorative gardens. “But I still did live in Sendai, it’s nothing strange.”

“Yeah, well… You’re a terrific model Tsukki.” Koutarou’s not going to let this conversation die out before he can actually get some details, but for that, he needs Tsukishima to relax and that’s no easy feat. “I mean I knew but today you looked like a pro.”

“I mean I mostly laid on my back today.” The blond says, eyes downcast, almost bashful. 

“No, no Tsukki! It’s the expression and everything! You have to let me show you the drawings when I’m done putting color on them. You look amazing.” Koutarou beams and for some reason, Tsukishima flushes. “Oh, it’s here.” He says and steps into the tiny shop. “Hi Tsubasa-san!”

A small middle-aged woman peeks over the counter. “Oh dear, it’s you.” She says, standing up “How is your volleyball going?” she asks. “And who is this young man, is this your Keiji?”

“Oh, no, no, this is a friend.” Koutarou gestures to Tsukishima to approach the counter.

“Tsukishima Kei” the blond says. “I met Bokuto-san in highschool.”

“My, you’re tall, she says. “So what’s it going to be? Pistachio-green tea and…”

Tsukishima peeks over the crystal panel at the flavors. 

“Let me guess,” Koutarou says. “Strawberry…”

Tsukishima narrows his eyes. “Choco strawberry, please," he says dryly

Once they get their ice cream, Bokuto gets Tsukishima to go sit in one of the outside tables. The blond seems quite taken with his ice cream and Koutarou can’t help but watching. Wondering if Tsukishima would let hi sketch this too.

Their eyes meet several times, and each time Tsukishima flushes more.

Maybe he’s nervous? He probably knows Koutarou is going to ask about Kuroo, but then, what could have happened for him to be jumpy even when it’s just Koutarou sitting here.

“Hey Tsukki.” He asks, noticing something a she scrutinizes Tsukishima’s face. “Did you stay up late? You look like you’re wearing makeup.” The blond startles, hand flying up to his neck. So dramatic. “Like I’m not criticizing, ‘Kaashi wears it, that’s how I know where to look for eyebags.”

Tsukishima sighs, looking somewhat relieved, he slowly lowers his hand, staring at Koutarou like he expects the other to say something else. Finally he speaks. “I did stay up a bit.” And then resumes eating his ice cream.

There’s definitely something odd there too, Tsukishima is usually jumpy, but not in this… weird way.

It probably has something to do with Kuroo too, knowing the tempestuous history there.

Koutarou decides he’s not going to figure it out by just watching the other eat ice cream. “So why did’ya fight this time?” he asks, and when Tsukishima stiffens, clarifies. “You and Kuroo I mean.”

“Nothing.” The blond’s lips pressed tight together.

“Tsukki.” Koutarou croons. “I know you both, c'mon, tell me.”

“We did not fight.” Tsukishima says, straightening up all prim and proper. “That answers your question.”

Koutarou hums. “You know Keiji is way better evading things than you.” He says. “So then what’d he say to you? Or was it something he did?” With each question, Tsukishima stiffens further. “What’d you say to him Tsu -kki?”

The other sighs, long and hard. “I told him not to poke his head in my business, that’s all.”

“And?” Koutarou pushes.

“That was it, then I left,” Tsukishima says, taking an indignant spoonful of ice cream up to his mouth. “And then he stopped talking to me.”

Koutarou hums. “Oh. But hey! What did he do to make you mad in the first place?”

Tsukishima looks away. “Just- It doesn’t matter.”

“Tsukki” Koutarou tries to sound stern.

“He got mad that I exchanged numbers with that friend of yours.” He says and Koutarou catches the shadow of a blush at the tip of his ears. “Miura?”

“Oh, now that makes sense. But what was he doing there? Didn’t he graduate already?” Koutarou asks, confused. 

“He said he came by the university for paperwork.” Tsukishima grumbles. “And what do you mean it makes sense?”

“Oh, Tetsu has never liked him,” Koutarou says, almost off-hand. “I mean he’s a bit of a playboy, I was the same when he first met me.”

“It does explain it. And I get it, but…” Tsukishima hangs his head and stabs at the little of his ice cream that’s melting in the cup. “I don’t know why Kuroo thinks he’s responsible for me, it’s annoying.”

Koutarou thinks for a moment… he could give Tsukishima a nudge in Kuroo’s direction, but knowing the blond, he might freak out or find Kuroo in a particularly bad mood. Tsukishima isn't the kind who has the patience to unwind Kuroo when he's like that. Telling him that this whole thing might have to do with Kuroo's feelings for him feels distinctly like throwing a mint into a bottle of coke.

“Well, y’know, he’s like that.” He says instead. “He’s used to being the responsible one, so he’s always trying to take care of us, even when he’s not taking care of himself.” Koutarou shrugs. “I guess you count now too. Go easy on him Tsukki, he’s not doing it to be annoying or anything.”

Tsukishima looks away, lips pressed together in a guilty grimace. “Right.” He says, straightening up. “I have to run now though. Thanks, Bokuto-san.”

And then he’s all but fleeing down the street. “It’s just Bokuto!” Koutarou calls after his retreating form.

He smiles a little to himself.

It’s all probably going to resolve itself.

Tsukishima is a good kid after all.

.

.

The blaring of his alarm -a loud, piercing siren- pierces into Tetsuro’s dreams like a knife.

As It always does, he’s a pretty deep sleeper and nothing short of that wakes him up.

The smell of bacon is wafting from somewhere in the apartment, Tetsuro groggily opens his eyes. He has about an hour to get to practice and he wants to squeeze in a short run before.

He hopes whichever of his roommates made the bacon left some -probably Bokuto, and in that case, he hopes nothing’s burnt-.

Tetsuro gets up, stretching with a groan, hearing the joints in his back pop. He heads to the kitchen, vision still blurry. And there, on top of the counter, he sees two perfectly cooked plates of eggs and bacon. 

On the corner, Akaashi -in leggings and a loose t-shirt that leaves both his shoulders bare, as a very obvious attack to Tetsuro’s sanity- is pouring coffee into two mugs, one with milk and the other without. “Oh Kuroo,” he says, turning around, looking as fresh-faced and perfect as ever. “I figured you would be getting up soon.”

This isn’t a usual thing, they all have such different schedules, after all, so no one really bothers to cook for the others -how does Akaashi even know what time Tetsuro planned to get up?-. “What are you doing here? Dint you have that pole class?” Tetsuro asks, confused.

“It’s at ten.” Akaashi answers simply. “I made too much.” He says, gesturing at the second plate. “You can help yourself if you want.”

As if Tetsuro was going to throw food away. “’Kay, thanks Akaashi.” he says, picking up his own plate and cup and following the other man to the living room.

Not that Tetsuro believes him, it’s blatant that Akaashi has something he wants to talk to Tetsuro about, the food is just the bait, one that would be very rude not to take. He sets his plate down and takes a seat beside Akaashi. “Did Bo leave early?”

“He had that art group,” Akaashi says, shrugging. “They met at six today, apparently no other hour worked.”

“How?” Tetsuro asks. “It’s a Saturday.”

“The highschoolers have cram school.” Akaashi explains, shooting Tetsuro a pointed look. “And Tsukishima has practice, doesn’t he?”

“Uh, yeah.” Tetsuro says, stabbing at his eggs, this just had to come up, didn't it? “I’m still kinda surprised he’s sticking with that job.”

One of Akaashi’s perfect, dark eyebrows rises. “Why? Has he said something?” he asks softly, knowingly. 

Tetsuro looks down, guilt flooding his chest. He could always just say no, but chances are Akaashi already knows and is trying to prod him into an explanation. “I don’t know, haven’t spoken to him lately.”

“Did you two fight?” Tetsuro continues stabbing at his eggs, he doesn’t look up. “You know? Kou says he’s a pretty good model.” He takes a sip of his coffee. “I think they’re getting along, they even went on a run on Wednesday.”

Tsukki went on a run with Bokuto?” Tetsuro says, startled into speaking. “At night?”

Akaashi nods. “It is very uncharacteristic of him. And he got up before dawn today too, he hates doing that.” Akaashi’s eyes have his in a hold, Tetsuro knows, those blue, heavy-lidded orbs are not going to let him escape. “It’s almost like something’s bothering him.”

Tetsuro kind of wants to be mad at being cornered like this. But then, he understands if Akaashi and Bokuto are worried, he’s been snappy and annoyed all week, and it's mostly because of the row he had with Tsukishima on Monday. “Maybe Bo’s just getting to him.” He groans, throwing his head back, feeling Akaashi’s patient gaze on him. “Fine, I got mad at Tsukki for something stupid.”

“Oh?” Akaashi looks at him over the rim of his cup. “Would you like to tell me?”

Tetsuro shakes his head. “It’s dumb.” He says. “I know I need to apologize, but he was pretty rude too.”

Humming, Akaashi sets don his cup. “You know, he-“ then he pauses, and shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter. Is there anything I can do to help?” He says, leaning forward and lying one of his hands softly on Tetsuro’s shoulder.

Actually, Tetsuro wants advice and a hug. But this is his best friend’s boyfriend whom he shouldn’t be touching at all, so he settles for advice. “Do you really think it’s bothering him?”

“I do,” Akaashi says earnestly, yet looking away for some reason. “Why wouldn’t it? You’re his friend.”

The conversation leaves with a strange after taste, for a second it had seemed like Akaashi was ready to talk him into apologizing and give him advice to get Tsukki in a better mood, and then he clammed up, a faraway look in his eyes.

Sometimes Tetsuro wonders… but then, he sees every day how much Akaashi and Bokuto love each other. He finishes his eggs in silence. “Thanks Akaashi.” He says ruffling the other’s hair on his way t the shower. “I owe you breakfast.”

There’s actually no time to jog, Tetsuro ends up having to take the car after contemplating his conversation with Akaashi for an overly long time in the shower.

When he gets there most of the team is already doing their warmups, he spots Tsukishima with some of the other younger players, and debates walking over to him. In the end, he figures it’s better to try when practice is done and they can talk calmly.

If Tsukishima even wants to talk to him.

The many hours of practice pass fast, while Tetsuro formulates a myriad of scenarios in his head. Maybe he should apologize outright? But then Tsukishima might get flustered and feel like he has to apologize too, and if he acts like nothing happened won't he look too nonchalant?

The whole thing is giving him a headache.

When he’s about to just give up, walking out of the gym with his bag slung over his shoulder, he feels someone tap on it.

Tsukishima is looking at the floor, looking sour and a bit mad. “Hey.” He says, and Tetsuro can see how he’s grinding his teeth. “Do you want to grab something for lunch?” 

Tetsuro is so stunned that he almost says no. “Uh- sure Tsukki.” He stammers and only then does Tsukishima look at him directly. “I mean it’s past two, I’m starving.”

“So…” Tsukishima trails off. “I’ve been here for a week. I have no idea where to go.”

“Oh, yes.” Sometimes when he’s with Tsukishima, Tetsuro feels like he has like one functioning brain cell, and half of it is just fawning over the blond. “Mmm, there’s a nice Indian food place over by our apartment.”

“That’s not too close.” Tsukishima looks down. “I have to start my assigned reading. 

“Well, I brought the car.” Tetsuro reasons. “You can study at the apartment if you want, it'll be quiet, Bo has practice all afternoon.”

Tsukishima seems to think it over for a moment. “That’s- Actually, yes, my roommates are noisy.”

Tetsuro’s eyebrows shoot up. “Really? The one who answered your door the other day looked decent.”

He is, the others are insufferable. I think Bokuto makes less noise on average.” Tsukishima says, with a little upturn to the side of his mouth.

Resting his eyes behind his head, Tetsuro wonders how someone can be so pretty when they are frowning like that -like maybe Akaashi could, but still-.“Man, they must be something. I’m glad I moved.”

Tsukishima doesn’t answer as Tetsuro unlocks the car doors and he slips into the passenger set. Suddenly the air between them turns stale and Tetsuro figures it’s time he spoke. “Tsukki I’m sorry about Monday. I don’t want you to feel like I’m all up in your business. I just got worried because I know the guy and… I didn’t want you to get hurt or anything.“

Beside him, the blond sighs “I may have overreacted too, and avoiding you since then… I’m sorry about that.” It’s said in this quiet, steady voice, like Tsukishima has really thought about this and rehearsed what he would say. “And I did know, I mean he made it obvious. But I can handle myself Kuroo, if I need help I know who to ask it from.” A warm weight settles on his bicep and Tetsuro finally gathers the courage to look the blond’s way.

The small, apologetic smile in Tsukishima’s face makes it worth it. And any thoughts that Tetsuro had of asking whether he ended up calling Miura melt away. “Ok, Tsukki.” He says quietly, because what else is he going to do? Confess his undying love conveniently leaving out the part where he’s also in love with his roommates? It’s a moot point from wherever you see it. “I’m here if you need anything.”

Tsukishima has every right to run his life whatever the way he wants to.

And maybe he doesn’t need any extra weight.

.

.

It’s hard to compartmentalize.

But it’s effective.

Kei muses, his head lying on Kuroo’s lap while they watch some space movie that he doesn’t really care about.

Still, it’s hard, with Kuroo so close and the fact that he was almost ready to kiss him in the car.

After the dark-haired man just looked down and said he was ready to help Kei with anything.

It’s a tried and true thing that Kei might not be the best at relationships, he’s impatient and gets too attached and… Akaashi’s living proof, there’s nothing left to say. 

And he likes Kuroo, he likes talking to him and hanging out and he’s not going to ruin all that just for sex. Which he can so get elsewhere with little hassle. Guys like Miura do exist after all, and in a larger quantity than one would think.

Even if Kuroo is extremely hot, Kei’s just going to have to rope him in with Akaashi and Bokuto in the category of attractive people he’s not going to fuck. Because they’re his friends and why would they want to be with him anyway?

The door swings open at a pivotal moment in the movie. “You guys made up!” Bokuto hollers. “Hey, ‘kaashi! We did it, they made up!” 

“I know Kou!” Akaashi answers from their bedroom.

Kuroo raises an eyebrow at the Owl and Kei glares, so that's where the whole thing came from. “This was a whole plan?”

“Well, yeah!” Bokuto says, walking closer, craning his neck at the tv. “Oh, don’t look at me like that Tsukki, you got ice cream out of it! What are you guys watching? Can I watch too?!”

“Sure bro, it’s interstellar. Wait! You took Tsukki out for ice cream?” Kuroo asks, while Bokuto sits on the fluffy carpet right in front of Kei. “The couch is gigantic, Bo, get your ass up here.”

“Nah, I’m still overheated from practice! And yeah I took Tsukki to that gelato place this morning, but I barely managed to say anything to him. If he apologized it’s all his little crow heart.” He loudly proclaims. “Also, you know he’s like the best model ever? He’s so natural, today we had him lie on his back and-“

As the older and speaks, Kei feels himself get progressively redder. Somehow having Bokuto tell Kuroo that is a lot more embarrassing than doing it.

He glances at Bokuto where he’s sitting in front of him, head turned and eyes shining like two chrome coins, grin so wide it looks like it’s going to split his face. “-you know and everyone loves sketching his legs and-“

Yeah, there the cute goes. Kei can't think of anything else, so he shifts so both his hands are free and buries them into the Owl’s hair, gently turning it towards the screen. “You keep talking about that and I’m not going back.”

He expects some retort about how Bokuto’s also a very good model and such, but to both his and Kuroo’s surprise, he’s surprised by a half-choked sound that almost sounds like a moan. “Ok Tsukki.” The owl says weakly. “Just keep doing that.”

Kei stares at where his hands are buried in Bokuto’s hair, for the first time noticing the softness of the strands, experimentally, he drags the nails of his right hand across the man's scalp.

And Bokuto melts into it, he groans and throws his head back to give Kei easier access.

And he looks cute again, so Kei keeps at it. 

“Tsukki, I think you found an off-button,” Kuroo whispers to him after thirty minutes of uninterrupted silence -aside from a couple of groans when Kei scratched behind Bokuto’s ears-.

Although Kei’s hand is cramping up. 

That’s when he notices Akaashi standing in the entrance to the hall that goes to the bedrooms. 

The Tv throwing light over him, washing his face, his sad eyes and down-turned mouth in pale blue light. 

Kei can only look at him for a second before he remembers that this is Akaashi’s boyfriend he’s touching -which he definitely shouldn't be doing- and that he has no right to act on his first impulse, which was to reach an arm out to Akaashi, have him cuddle up in the couch with them and ask why he looks sad.

Kei burned that bridge, and he’s not supposed to let those feelings take over.

His hands leave Bokuto’s hair, the moment broken.

.

.

Keiji might be going crazy.

It's been three and a half weeks and he keeps having this dream. Half fever-nightmare half beautiful idyll.

And it's simple really, it's that night, except instead of standing at the mouth of the hallway like a ghoul, he steps forward, pads quietly towards the sofa in his sock clad feet and wraps himself around Tsukishima, or huddles beside Bokuto, or slips into Kuroo’s waiting arms. If it were that easy, if Keiji wee that lucky.

But he's lucky enough. He has Bokuto, his sunbeam, his ace.

The snapshot of it haunts him. Kei's head lying comfortably in Kuroo's lap, the dark-haired man's hand stroking at his shoulders, his mouth curled in a small, genuine smile devoid of worry or stress. And Bokuto, oh Bokuto with his head thrown back, the expression on his face blissful while Tsukishima, softly, tenderly massages at his scalp.

It's all Keiji wants, he loves them all so much... and if they could be happy, and together...

But that's just a fantasy, a pipe dream that will never happen, Koutarou loves Keiji, god knows why, but he's the only one. And Keiji won't push this -delusions, fever dreams, whatever they are- on Kuroo, and even less on Kei.

Whom he's already hurt.

Who is sitting in front of him drinking coffee and waiting for Keiji to speak.

And Keiji isn't sure what's worse, that Tsukishima knows him enough to see how conflicted, and raw, and hurting he is or that he isn't saying anything.

He probably doesn't think he has a right to.

Maybe it's for the best.

"How are you holding up with that?" his own voice sounds hollow. "I know you said that you were only short on money because of the move but..."

Tsukishima smiles at him, small and restrained. "It's fine, Bokuto-san's drawing group paid well, I’m in the clear again." he says.

"I'm glad, and your classes?" This feels wrong, Keiji can't separate this Tsukishima with the one in his dream, the one he hugs, the one who loves him.

"Good, it's barely been two weeks. My paleo classes are very good. And my TA's are all sane, so that's good." Tsukishima studies him with those smart golden eyes, eyebrows furrowing into a small, concerned 'v'. "Are you still doing your pole classes?"

Keiji appreciates how he's trying. "Yes, I have new videos. Do you want to see?"

It's so much easier like this, Tsukishima watches quietly, appreciatively, asking questions about the moves and it almost feels like before. "Hey Tsukishima, are you-"

"Hey, hey! You ready Tsukki?!" Bokuto bursts into the living room, all energy in a tank top and shorts, always saving Keiji, though he never notices.

"Yes, yes, I'm coming." Tsukishima says with a sigh. "Were you asking me something?" he looks at Keiji.

He shakes his head. "Nothing important. I can't believe Kou got you to agree to this."

"Lost a bet." Tsukishima grumbles, raking a hand through the top of his head, where his hair curls the most. "It's only until June."

"If! You beat me by then." Bokuto boasts. Grabbing Tsukishima by the wrist and dragging him to the door. "We'll be back before 10! Love you 'Kaashi."

"Bye Akaashi!" Tsukishima calls.

And the door closes.

And Keiji is alone with his thoughts.

It is kind of funny that Tsukishima ended up his boyfriend's running partner, lost bet or not. But at the same time it warms Keiji to see them getting along, as much as Tsukishima likes to grumble and pretend, Bokuto pays no mind to those nuances, he just bursts right through, knocking down the blond's walls.

And perhaps that will be good for Tsukishima, with all of the things he isn't telling them.

Keiji doesn't want to say anything, though right now he almost did, but some of the people he met at that creative writing class that last semester have the biggest nose for gossip.

And who to tell it to.

Tsukishima, in little over a month has made quite the reputation for himself.

Not that it's a bad thing, or reprehensible or anything. Tsukishima has the right to be with whoever he wants.

Rather, it worries Keiji.

He knows he was Tsukishima's first, so there's no previous pattern to compare this to -and also, he's very sure at least some of it is made up by the campus hive mind- but Kei, reserved, easily flustered Kei didn't seem like the type. Until now, when it seems he may have a more pragmatic reward-fueled side. And Keiji has seen the proof, it was what snapped him from looking at them that night, the telltale patch of makeup on Tsukishima's neck, dredging up one of Keiji's most precious memories. And he's seen others like it often since.

But maybe it's just his own bias or because it does hurt to see him doing that.

It hurts to see him in the apartment too, he's here almost everyday lately, for some reason or other. And Keiji wouldn't have it any other way because the day Kei... the day any of them disappear from his world he’s going to be destroyed, a part of him will just never be the same.

He guesses this is something he'll have to learn to take, on all fronts. After all it is better to have this than to have what his dream turns to in some cold, treacherous nights, when it turns from the happiest scenario to Keiji's worst fear, in which they all leave him, varying expressions of disgust on their faces. And Keiji is there, cold and alone and at fault for it all.

Since they stopped fighting Kuroo and Tsukishima have been inseparable too, and with Bokuto thrown into the mix, well...

Tsukishima might well end up living in their spare room at this pace.

And Keiji would have him, always, always.

.

.

Kei sometimes wonders if being attracted to someone has a cumulative effect on how one views them.

It’s Saturday morning and he’s watching Kuroo laugh while they sit on the grass outside the gym. The older man is wearing his usual, dark-colored tank top and shorts, much more appropriate now that summer’s on their heels. And the whole thing hits Kei hard. The way Kuroo throws his head back, the way droplets of sweat slide down his throat over his adam’s apple.

And the way his lips stretch over and he smirks.

Lately, every time he sees the other, Kei feels like his mind is stuck in slow-mo mode.

It happened with Akaashi a couple of times, but for much shorter, much less intense intervals.

This I just…

Exhausting.

“Do I have something on my face Tsukki?” Kuroo is looking at him, red-brown eyes narrowed inquisitively. Kei has to swallow hard to be able to answer.

“No, you’re just sweating like you’re in a sauna.” He busies himself picking a the grass avoiding that disarming gaze. “I can’t believe I’m still getting dragged into runs when Bokuto is out of town.”

After Bokuto -unfairly, he had a head start, dammit- beat him at a race that Kei accepted only because he was tired and was promised ice cream whatever the result, he’s become the Owl’s running partner. Except for today, since Bokuto has an away game and Akaashi’s gone with him to Kyoto.

It’s not too bad, at least when it’s Bokuto’s turn to set the pace Kei ends up so tired he can’t think much, and that’s a good thing, most of the time, especially when it doesn't involve having to play the very tired game of letting himself be picked up at the bars near campus.

Although that’s also very good for not thinking.

And after this morning, he’s looking forward to the party he was invited to tonight with renewed interest. 

Kuroo snickers, throwing a blade of grass at him. “What can I say? We’re good bros, we share.”

Kei sighs, throwing himself backward to lie on the cool grass. “You two want to kill me from exhaustion, that’s what.” He looks at his phone, it’s still a quarter to ten, when practice starts.

“We’re doing you a favor Tsukki. Aren’t you guys having a re-match on June? At this pace, you’re going to end up jogging with Bo until you graduate.” Kuroo says smugly.

Kei lets go of a long, deep breath. “I'm kind of hoping he'll have made a V1 team and has no time by then.”

Kuroo snorts. “I’m glad you two re getting along, you never were too close to Bo.” he says, watching him through narrowed eyes.

“He’s not quite as chatty when he’s running,” Kei says, lifting his hands to the sky, watching for the sun between his fingers. “And he buys me ice cream." he knows he's smiling a little, but it's good ice cream. "It is him after all, but I also think he’s doing it for Akaashi, who knows.”

“Right…” Kuroo trails off. Flopping dramatically beside Kei. “You mean all I had to do to get you to be nicer was give you sweets? Could’ve saved me a lot of glares.”

“That and be less chatty.” Kei grumbles, turning his head, and it’s a colossal mistake because Kuroo is looking straight at him and his face is like less than a foot away. 

Kuroo rolls his eyes jaw twitching in a way that definitely shouldn’t be sexy but it is. “You know you love my chatter.” He says, smirking softly. “Hey Tsukki, wanna come over tonight? We can watch movies, or study, whatever.”

Half of Kei does want to say yes, all things considered, he does enjoy Kuroo’s company but then, being alone with him somewhere he doesn’t have to worry about flatmates or teammates might be a bit much.

And Kei is feeling quite pent up.

“I have plans, sorry.” He says. Hell, he’d invite Kuroo, but the party he was invited to tonight has certain undertones that Kei’s not so sure he wants to be exploring with someone else,-especially Kuroo- at least until he decides it’s his thing. “But I could come over tomorrow.”

Kuroo’s face falls, and Kei's almost taken over by the impulse of making the other smile. “Sure. Run?” It’s still strange that he doesn’t prod for what Kei is doing tonight, and with whom, but he'll take the easy out.

“Is that all you can think about?” Kei says, eyes narrowing. “But sure, as long as it’s after ten, I want to sleep in.”

Kuroo laughs, and he doesn’t say anything else, he doesn’t look at Kei either. Kei stares up at the sky until practice starts.

Practice passes in a fog, he’s not paired with Kuroo, for once. This helps with his anxiety a little, It’s hard for the other man to look at him with that intensity from the other side of the gym. After they finish, Kei says goodbye to him in passing, heading to his dorm.

The afternoon too feels like it passes in some sort of fever. Kei eats re-heated leftovers and makes some progress on one of his assignments and then takes a nap, he doesn’t know how the night is going to go and he did promise to go running with Kuroo tomorrow.

By the time half-past eight rolls around, he decides to dress.

Only he has no idea how to.

One of his acquaintances from his ‘art through the ages’ class invited him. Kei supposed Ishida is nice enough, if slightly odd. This is supposed to be some sort of gay-mixer-thing but Ishida also did mention that there would “be some kink stuff, but don’t worry if it’s not your scene, it's supposed to be for like people outside of it.”

That’s what he said at least.

Kei looks through his closet, it’s not like he has many clothes that fit that aesthetic -and a cursory google search left him quite confused so…- everything is so much easier when he’s just hanging around in a bar or a house party. For a second he’s tempted to call Kuroo and ask if he still wants to hang out, but in the end, he promised he’s going to this thing. 

Finally, he figures it’s better to stand out for looking too normal. He picks his tightest pair of pants -which are dark red with a sheen to them, a gift from Hinata and Noya, obviously- and a white shirt, pairs them with low, black shoes and that’s that. 

He looks decent, at least, Kei muses. For a second he almost wishes he knew how to do makeup, like Akaashi. But he doesn’t so that’s how he walks out of his house, at exactly nine pm.

Kei arrives at the address in the photo Ishida sent him, it’s a club in a neighborhood known for such establishments, not all that far from campus, as he arrives he looks surreptitiously at the partygoers, relieved that most people seem to be in relatively risqué yet mostly normal clothing, just like he is.

There are a couple in harnesses and stuff Kei thought was only featured in movies though, but they're mostly decently covered and the harnesses, when delicate do look nice.

“Tsukishima!” someone yells behind him, Kei turns around to find Ishida, dressed in a white, nearly translucent shirt and tight white pants. “You came.” The man smiles, approaching Kei along with a tall, dark-haired man, Ishida swings an arm around Kei’s shoulders, “and you look so good! Oh this is Yoshifumi, my boyfriend, Yoshi, this is Tsukishima, we have a class in common.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Kei says. 

“No, you, Tsukishima-san.” Yoshifumi answers. 

“Oh, Yoshi! You know that choker I made?! It would look so good on Tsukki, do you still have it?” 

Ishida is a fashion student, he’s always making little things like that. Kei seems to be a favorite subject of his, the man has even asked him to model before, though Kei is sure he’d be a mess at it.

It’s the height he supposes.

Yoshifumi produces a small choker with little red details from his pocket. “May I?” Ishida asks. Kei nods and turns around to let him put it on. The man's moods are even more fragile than Bokuto's used to be in high school, and it’s easier to let him give Kei things than deal with his pouting. “And it fits so well with your outfit Tsukishima, it’s like I'm psychic or something.”

Kei lifts his hand to brush against the fabric, it sits snugly around his throat, just snug enough to not slide down. “It is pretty,” he says.

And it is, also, Ishida is the only person in that class that Kei can stand working with, so he might as well butter him up, knowing how he is. “You can keep it Tsukishima. He says.”

Kei rolls his eyes. “I’m going to go get a drink. I’ll find you guys.” He says and walks deeper into the club, noting the stage, as of now empty, but it does look like there’s going to be a band playing later on.

.

.

FROM: SAKAMOTO RYUU -20:53

We’re going to a party.

I mean if you wanna.

It’s like this bondage-themed mixer thing.

Y’know, the one the art kids are organizing

It’s supposed to be cool

Nori’s girlfriend’s band is playing.

Tetsuro stares at the message, then looks up at his notes, scattered over the desk n his room.

After Tsukishima refused his offer to hang out, he had planned to stay in and study, it’s not often that he has the apartment all to himself, and he doesn’t even have to wear headphones.

Not that he doesn’t love them but Bokuto and Akaashi are pretty loud.

Still, he feels lonely and kind of pathetic. If Tsukishima gets to go around, getting conquests that even the science department knows all about Tetsuro should also be able to have a night or two of fun.

It’s not like they’re anything more than friends.

Besides, Sakamoto is cool, Tetsuro met him at a physics class in first semester. For all his partying ways, he’s always got top grades and generally doesn’t wind up in messes. Who better to party with? Short of Bokuto, of course.

Tetsuro takes a deep breath, the clock on his bedside table marks nine o’clock. 

Fuck it.

FROM: ME -21:01

Sure.

I mean whatevs.

It’s not like a full-on show or anything right?

Because I don’t have clothes for that.

Tetsuro remembers his first year, he’d briefly dated this one guy who was really into it. It didn’t really work out, and then he got into this whole mess, but he thinks he still has…

Bingo

The pants are relatively tight, they sit low on his hips and are covered fro the waist to the cuffs at his ankles in silver buckles. He tucks the ends into his most gaudy pair of combat boots -which also happen to have a couple of buckles along the sides- and a grey, sleeveless top that cuts off just a little short than the waistband of the pants.

Then he adds some fingerless leather gloves.

 Pretty good outfit if he does say himself, especially for someone who hasn’t been in that scene inlike two and a half years.

FROM: SAKAMOTO RYUU -21:15

Nah, Nori says it's chill

We’re pregaming at Saru’s

Want me to pick you up?

FROM: ME -21:17

Sure, man

Let’s get wasted

.

.

Sakamoto, however, is the kind of guy that wouldn’t let his group leave for a party until they are at least buzzed. So he and his group arrive at the party a around half-past eleven, giddy and loud, shoving at each other playfully.

It’s a lot of fun, maybe he should do this more often.

The club they arrive at is rather large, lit up with strobe lights on the inside, there’s a bunch of people out in the sidewalk outside, smoking joints or regular cigarettes. Tetsuro finds he’s dressed for the occasion, though he does spy a lot of leather inside.

They make their way in, Nori separating from the group soon enough as her girlfriend is already setting up with her band on the stage. 

The place is teeming with people, the dancefloor especially is so full that when they jump in they are all grinding into each other whether they want to or not. Tetsuro makes it around thirty minutes before he's all sweaty, shirt sticking to his chest, and heads to the bar for a drink with Sakamoto.

“Rum and coke?” the other asks, Tetsuro agrees.

He’s on his second by the time he sees him.

It’s just a glimpse, of pale skin and wheat-blond hair. It could be anyone, really, how many blond’s could there be in Tokyo? But for some reason, Tetsuro can’t leave it to chance. “I’ll find you guys, Sakamoto. I’m in the mood for a cig.”

The other shrugs. “Suit yourself.”

Senses dulled, he elbows his way through the crowd, chasing that glimpse of yellow and white. The man is tall enough to be Tsukishima, but there’s no way he would be wearing pants like that right? However scandalous the rumors are, Tetsuro has always thought they were exaggerating. 

The man in question is helping another, tall, burly individual drag a limp figure, dressed in all white over to the club’s door.

Tetsuro follows. 

Outside, the air is crisp, and the crowd has doubled in size.

He has a hard spotting the blond and his group, but once he does, he can’t rip his eyes away from them.

Because that is Tsukishima.

The street lamp throws a new lever of definition and Tetsuro could never not recognize those shoulders, those legs. It becomes even more obvious when the blond turns to the side, helping the white-clad man into a car while he chats with the tall, dark-haired one. 

Tetsuro waits for him to get into the car, but he doesn’t.

And suddenly the blond is walking back to the club, straight towards him, and Tetsuro’s heart starts running a marathon all by himself.

He fumbles for his lighter and cigarettes, watching the blond -who hasn’t noticed him yet- walk closer and closer through his fringe. Tsukishisma is wearing tight red pants and a frilly white shirt with wide sleeves that close snugly around his wrists, the front of it is loose and undone until the tops of his pectorals peek out, taut and lean. And there’s an actual choker around his neck, black and red, a stark contrast against the pale skin beneath it.

Tetsuro isn’t sure if he wants to talk to him or not, but his traitorous mouth makes the choice before he does. “Tsukishima!” The blond’s head snaps towards him, eyes wide in recognition. And he freezes, for a second Tetsuro is sure that the other’s going to bolt. 

But then Tsukishima steels himself, squaring his shoulders and lifting his chin, he walks towards Tetsuro with a confidence that almost makes him choke on the smoke of his cigarette.

So this is the Tsukishima he hasn’t seen yet, huh?

Those long legs stop right in front of Tetsuro, Tsukishima watches him trough narrowed golden eyes, a slight flush on his cheeks. “What are you doing here Kuroo?” he asks, half-whisper, half recrimination.

For a second it almost sounds like he’s talking to himself.

A surge of indignation fills Tetsuro. Does Tsukishima think he’s here for him? Ha! “I’m hanging out with some friends.” He says. “Since you were so busy tonight. I guess the rumors are true.” He shoots back, brushing invisible dust off the other’s shoulder. “But I didn’t think you were into this Tsukki.”

He wants to reach out, tug at the choker, tug him close enough that Tsukishima is kissing him.

But maybe that’s the alcohol talking. Tetsuro knows he shouldn’t.

He knows.

And Tsukishima sneers, he actually sneers. “Back at you.” He says eyes traveling down Tetsuro’s body, gaze hungry. “I guess there’s a bunch of things about you I don’t know, Kuroo-san.”

God, he wishes he were imagining the provocative tone. But Tsukishima is blatant, Tetsuro is sure the blond is at least buzzed, but then again, so is he. 

This is a bad idea. “Well, you’ve never asked Tsukki.” There’s a part of Tetsuro screaming to stop, but most of him wants to push, fuck everything. He leans in smirking at the blond, their faces even closer than they were in the morning outside of the gym. “For all you know I’m way into this.”

Tsukishima’s cheeks flare red, but he doesn’t back down. He hovers over Tetsuro as much as he can without actually kissing him, pupils dilated, eyes heavy-lidded. “Really? You look like such a softie.”

That part of Tetsuro, the good one, the one that’s usually in control, makes its last attempt to stop what's coming at them like a derailed train. “Maybe.” He says, looking away. “But I’m here with some friends so…”

Tsukishima rolls his eyes “Sure Kuroo-san.” He says it like a challenge, like they're not done, then stretches to his full height looking around them, eyes glistening, predatory. “But I’m not here tonight looking for friends. See you-“

And that’s it, a wave of possessive want sweeps over Tetsuro, it overcomes him. His cigarette falls to the ground and he reaches out to hook a finger under that choker, there’s no resistance as he pulls Tsukishima down and crushes their lips together. Tasting the alcohol on the other's breath. The blond has the gall to smirk into the kiss, he sucks Tetsuro's lower lip into his mouth and sucks.

“You brat.” Tetsuro groans when they part, just a kiss, and his pants are tighter, it’s always like this with Tsukishima. One of his hands wanders down, cupping the blond's behind and pulling him close. 

“What?” Tsukishima says, licking his lips. “Scared now?”

“Fuck no,” Tetsuro smirks, wicked and wide, and oh it doesn’t matter anymore! What has all this care and doubting gotten him other than a thrice-broken heart and a lot of anxiety? Both of which he would’ve had anyways. “But Tsukki, we’re doing things my way.”

And then, there’s a mirror of his own smirk in Tsukishima’s face. “Do your worst, just make sure I don’t fall asleep.”

Yeah, Tetsuro's wanted this for four years, he deserves it.

He's letting himself have it.

They catch the next cab that drives by.

Chapter Text

As soon as the match ends Keiji rushes downstairs, as soon as he arrives at one of the side doors to the court he’s met with an armful of sweaty, smiling Bokuto.

He’s not grossed out, or even surprised. Bokuto is a mass of energy and heat and Keiji would let the man consume him whole, sweat or no sweat. “Congratulations Kou.” He says, wrapping his arms around the other’s broad back. 

“Love you ‘kaashi,” Bokuto says, face buried in Keiji’s shoulder grinning so wide that he can feel it even through the layers.

“I love you, too.” Keiji says, “Now go shower, it’s late.”

“’kay,” Bokuto says, stealing a quick peck from Keiji’s lips when he knows no one else is looking. “Wanna order room service? We have all of tomorrow to sightsee.”

How Bokuto always knows what Keiji needs is always going to be a secret. Or maybe it’s just that obvious that he’s dead on his feet. After all, he took the earliest morning pole class -6:30 am, it’s actually a pretty popular time, for some reason Keiji can’t comprehend now that it's seven pm and he's swaying on his feet- so that he could be packed and ready to drive down here at half-past eight.

And that's a seven-hour drive on top of a very tiring week.

Keiji smiles gratefully up at Bokuto, he knows the man could probably go clubbing now, with that stamina of his, but he’d rather be cuddled with Keiji. “That sounds good, I’ll give you a massage?”

Bokuto’s eyes sparkle, he leans in to kiss Keiji’s forehead. “You’re amazing.” He says and bolts for the changing rooms.

Why can’t things always be this easy and feel this good?

Bokuto is always so good to him, too good sometimes.

Keiji only had to say he didn’t want Tsukishima out of his life and Bokuto had made sure the blond was at their apartment more often than he was at his dorm. It’s no that Keiji’s not grateful, but sometimes he wonders if he isn’t asking for too much. 

Bokuto would give him the moon, he knows, but still.

Later in the evening, with a full belly, warm and sated, holding a shirtless Bokuto to his chest under the hotel sheets, Keiji decides to ask.

“Kou, are you awake?” he says, softly, almost ping the older man won’t answer.

Bokuto looks up, nuzzling Keiji’s shirt-clad chest. His sleepy eyes shine like copper coins in the scarcely light that enters through the window. “’m awake ‘kaashi. Is everything alright?”

Those eyes are so adoring and the last thing Keiji wants is to seem ungrateful, so he almost backs out. “I wanted to ask you something.” He says, steeling himself. When Bokuto nods, he takes a deep breath. “Are you being so nice to Tsukishima because I told you I didn’t want him to drift away?”

Just saying it, it sounds ridiculous. Maybe if it were someone else, but Bokuto is just generally like that, Keiji is not sure why he feels so insecure about it in the first place.

His boyfriend hums a little against Keiji’s chest, and then answers. “A bit?” he hesitates. “At first, I mean. Tsukki and I were never that close, y’know ‘kaashi? I just thought he might feel uncomfortable with me there so I started trying more.”

“Oh, Kou.” Keiji says feeling so guilty, fingers stroking over the other's cheekbone. “I’m sorry, you don’t-“

“But I mean he’s pretty neat.” Koutarou interrupts him. “When you figure out his mixed signals he’s fun and he gives great head massages.” The silver-haired man leans into Keiji’s palm, pressing a kiss to it. “Don’t worry, you’re not making me do anything weird and I mean… I understand.”

“Even though he and I…” Keiji trails off, sometimes it’s hard to say it, even now. 

“Well, Kuroo lives with us, right?” Bokuto says, strong arms bringing Keiji closer. “I used to have this huge crush on him ‘kaashi.” the man confesses. “It was before I met you, and then you know about all that time we fooled around… I think in a way I still- a little, I-” Bokuto stutters, snapping up to meet Keiji’s eyes with wide, slightly scared ones.

“That does explain why you were so sad in December,” Keiji says, fingers burying in silver hair soothingly. “I’d never ask you not to be in his life.”

“I know.” Bokuto closes his eyes. “And you didn’t, you fixed it for us. You’re so selfless ‘kaashi, I love that.” He says and Keiji’s heart seizes up. “I love you, and I trust you, and you can trust me with this Tsukishima thing.”

It takes all of Keiji’s willpower to not start crying and make a mess of them both. Instead, he lifts his head do place a soft kiss on Bokuto’s forehead. “I love you too Kou, thank you.”

Bokuto holds him tighter, sleepy and warm.

And all through the night, while pondering his boyfriend’s confession, Keiji can’t sleep at all.

.

.

Last chance to turn tail and run.

A traitorous voice bounced around in Kei’s head, tauntingly reminding him of those words and then laughing mockingly

Because he’s not going to.

Four years he’s wanted this person, four years and nothing erases him, other loves, other fucks, nothing seems enough. Maybe, just maybe this will be.

One way or another.

But that’s a problem for tomorrow-Kei.

Today-Kei pushes Kuroo inside as soon as he hears the lock click open, today-Kei doesn’t care if the neighbors see them, he doesn’t even check that the door is properly closed.

He just wants.

Kuroo seems to be in the exact same mindset, he slams Kei into the wall beside the door, so easily like he’s some sort of ragdoll, and kisses the breath out of him.

It’s just as good as the other times if not better and Kei gives as good as he gets, biting and nipping and sucking at the other’s lips until Kuroo is groaning into his mouth, and his hands are gripping Kei’s hips so hard that they are sure to leave bruises in their wake.

Kuroo pulls away after a few minutes, eyes dark and narrowed, he licks the excess spit on his lips with a gesture that makes Kei want to drop to his knees. “C’mon, let's go to my room.” He says, hand closing around Kei’s left wrist, eyes drifting to the floor.

For a second Kei wants to ask if he’s having second thoughts, but the hand around his wrist tightens and he figures Kuroo’s old enough to know.

This is a one night stand.

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

Walking into Kuroo’s room, he finds himself spun around again. How does the older man manhandle him so? Kei isn’t light or short or particularly pliant.

Or maybe for Kuroo he is.

He finds his back pressed against the other’s front, the hard lanes and ridges of Kuroo’s body digging into Kei’s, even though they’re both still fully clothed. “I did say we were doing this my way Tsukki,” Kuroo says, voice dark and deep right beside his ear. “Brace yourself against the wall.”

Kei could be haughty, he could disobey, turn around and push Kuroo on the bed and tell him that he’s usually in charge and prefers it so. But something stops him, deep down, he wants to see where this leads. Kuroo’s always considerate, he always bends where Kei refuses and that’s exactly the point.

What’s going to happen now? What does Kuroo want when Kei’s not fighting him?

His alcohol addled brain wants to find out, if it turns out to be a bad idea in the morning, then Kei will simply deal with it.

-like it's so easy, the voice says-

Besides Kuroo wouldn’t hurt him.

So he stretches out his hands and Kuroo turns the light on just as his palms press against the cold wall, washing the whole room in cold white. Kei shivers, feeling exposed for the first time. Kuroo is still pressed behind him, his hands lazily stroking at Kei’s hips. “Good.” One hand slides under Kei’s shirt, nails drag over his stomach and he whines. “You look so good.” Kuroo purrs into his ear. “You’re always wearing these shirts and it drives me insane.”

Kei scoffs. “I thought I looked like a librarian.” He teases and Kuroo’s hand slides higher, tugging at his nipple just hard enough that it stings. “I-hnn.”

“Librarians can be hot Tsukki.” Kuroo’s other hand slides down, cupping Kei through his pants, where he’s somehow already hard and squeezing lightly. “Especially when they’re so easy to get hard.” Kei keens and rolls his eyes, he twists to talk back at Kuroo, but he pulls harder at his nipple. “Hands on the wall, Tsukki.”

“Even like this, you’re a pain in the ass.” Kei grumbles, but obeys, returning to his position string straight ahead. 

Kuroo chuckles behind him. “Well, you could put it that way. I would say I just want to spoil you.” His hand moves up to unbutton Kei’s pants and lower his fly, exposing the place in his underwear where there’s already a wet spot, Kei feels his cheeks burning, Kuroo has barely touched him. But it doesn’t stop at that, Kuroo leans down and carefully takes off Kei’s boots, setting them to the side carefully. “Step out of those for me.” Kuroo says gesturing to Kei’s ants while he stakes a stride to the night table.

“Can I take my hands off the wall?” He asks, teasing. 

“No.” Kuroo replies with a smirk, and to his credit, Kei does try, but these pants are practically painted on.

Kuroo is rummaging through a drawer until he produces a plastic bottle and a foil package. He turns to look at him with a frown. “Are those too tight for you to wiggle out of?” he asks, a tinge of mocking in the tone. 

“Clearly.” Kei snaps, red-faced, and with his ass half hanging out. “I’m just gonna-“

Kuroo is on him in a second, the sting of a swat at Kei’s bottom makes him moan. “You could have just asked me, be good Tsukki.” He says, smirking against his neck and slapping at the covered flesh again, this time harder, feeling Kei shiver. “Interesting.”

Kei jolts, he can feel his underwear getting wetter. “Oh shut up. Are you actually going to do anything?” he asks, trying to sound annoyed while hiding his blush in the crook of his shoulder.

“Ho, aren’t you impatient, Tsukki.” The man says, dragging his pants and underwear down with one hand while pressing kisses down Kei’s still clothed back. “How did you even get these on?” he hears the man mumble before he bites softly at the supple skin of his butt.

Kei swallows hard, holding back a moan, maybe he’s liking this more than he initially thought 

-but this is not how Kei usually does things at all-

Kuroo continues nipping at the sensitive skin while Kei steps out of the fabric, never getting too close to the place Kei needs him at. “Kuroo.” He half whines, half chides. “Come on.” 

“Aw but it’s so cute Tsukki.” The dark-haired man says, hand coming up to grab at Kei’s arousal, making him flinch. “And you seem to like it too.” He strokes Kei slowly, making him moan.

God this is Kuroo, he should’ve known it’d be all teasing. 

There’s a wet sound behind him, and suddenly Kuroo is standing again, pressing himself hard against Kei’s backside though he’s still clothed, Kei can hear the buckles on those ridiculous pants jingle and feel the other's hardness against his leg. The hand stroking at him goes a little harder, squeezes a little more and then Kuroo pulls way slightly and there’s another hand, wet, stroking at his taint and teasing his hole with every stroke.

Kei knew this was coming, but he has no idea what to do, he’s frozen.

Because -even with Akaashi- he’s always topped. Kuroo licks at the shell of his ear, hot breath washing in puffs over Kei’s face. “You’re so pretty down there Kei.” He says and sucks on the lobe of his ear, sending a jolt of pleasure down Kei’s back. 

Despite his uncertainty, Kei can’t help but moan, the stimulation just enough to make his head hazy, until he feels the finger prodding at his entrance slip inside, just a little and he whimpers. “Wait.”

The dark-haired man immediately stiffens. “Did I hurt you?” His voice turns tender and concerned, Kei can’t allow that.

This is a one night stand.

And Kei debates pushing him off, nothing’s holding him to the wall after all.

But he wants this, if anything he can always trust Kuroo to stop like this. “N-no, I got startled, I’ve never done that.” He says, face burning. 

“Oh.” Kuroo takes a deep breath. “Do you want-“

“No, it’s fine like this.” Kei manages to say, suddenly very glad that he can stare at the wall and is not subjected at the other's sharp stare. “Just be careful.” He says, jutting his hips out against the hand.

“You sure?” Kuroo says, voice still worried and Kei shivers.

No, it can't be like that. Kei might break.

“Yes, don’t treat me like a baby.” He snaps and Kuroo laughs.

“Ok.” He says, the finger returning, his other hand resuming its pace around Kei’s cock. “But I might just call you baby, you know?” he says.

“Oh, don’t you- oh” the finger pushes in, softly, it’s well lubricated enough that it’s only passing discomfort. “Dare.”

“You’re so tight, Tsukki.” Kuroo says, teasingly moving the finger in and out, wiggling it like he’s looking for something. 

It’s a strange sensation, it is even when Kei does this to himself, but Kuroo’s lips and his other hand keep him sufficiently distracted, surprised, he finds the sensation of being filled, however minimally starts to grow on him. 

Then Kuroo slides in the second finger. 

The stretch is slightly painful, but it’s worked in alongside the other slowly, and when Kuroo can finally slide both past the muscle ring, he immediately curls them downwards and Kei sees stars. “Ahhn. There, Kuroo.”

 Behind him, the man chuckles, lips skimming down Kei’s neck and tugging at the choker. He keeps up the pace, teasing and stretching Kei just so that the blond snaps at him and then abusing his prostate until the other is weak in the knees and can’t voice any complaints. 

Kei feels the precome sliding down his shaft and Kuroo’s hand and he can only shut his eyes and moan, hands firm on the wall.

This shouldn’t be so hot.

And maybe it’s for the best, Kei doesn’t want to lead Kuroo on into believing this is something it isn’t and he can’t risk catching even more feelings. So it might be better to keep it like this even if Kei’s not usually in this position.

At least he knows Kuroo will make it good.

So Kei lets himself moan and writhe against the other, begging for more, more fingers, harder, until Kuroo groans and kneels down behind him. “Kuroo, what-”

“You’re tight baby.” Kei turns his head and can’t stand the sight, Kuroo’s eyes are dark, his pupils taking over them his lips are red and bitten and he’s kneeling. “Let me try something?”

Kei’s unnerved, he has some inkling of what Kuroo wants to do, he has no actual experience with it though.

But then, he has no experience with any of this so he nods.

The dark-haired man has him stretched on three fingers, and the first stroke of his tongue sets Kei aflame, his legs, already shaking from all the stimulation threaten to buckle for a second. Perhaps the foreign sensation would feel less earth-shaking in other circumstances, but with how pent up and ready Kei is, it almost feels like fireworks. 

Kuroo builds a rhythm, sucking and slurping at Kei’s hole, fingers still teasing at his prostate on the occasion. And Kei just shivers, his arms bend and he braces himself on the wall on his elbows, back arched and presenting himself freely.

“God, you’re beautiful. Kuroo says from behind him, and continues and Kei knows that if he’s not getting fucked in the next five minutes he’s going to cum on Kuroo’s hands and mouth alone. So he turns his head around and gives the other the most heated look he can. “Kuroo, I don’t think can be more ready.” He pants, he’s also not sure his legs are going to carry him through this. “Come on, fuck me already."

Kuroo rolls his eyes and licks his lips like he’s been waiting for this. 

All through, he realizes, Kuroo hasn’t taken one clothing article off, he’s still in that stupid shirt that bares his midriff when his arms are up and those pants that look like something out of a photoshoot in the late 2000s. He rids himself of the top now, exposing all that skin that Kei has never sopped dreaming about since the one time he got to touch it. 

And then, knowing Kei’s watching, he opens the button and the fly of his pants and slowly, ever so slowly drags both the pants and the dark boxers underneath down the v of his hips. 

His cock springs forward, thick and red and god Kei’s a lot more thankful now that he was teased and stretched so thoroughly. Kuroo reaches for the condom packet and rips it open with his teeth, rolling the condom on with practiced ease.

-which Kei knows he shouldn’t do, but he’s putting his faith on this one-

And Kei wants to turn around, to kiss him because this is too much, but he can’t so he does the next best thing, leans properly on his elbows, and arches his back further making sure his behind is popping out enticingly. “Kuroo." he says, because of the four words he can’t think of right now it’s the least embarrassing. 

And the dark-haired man understands, he comes up behind Kei, the tip of his cock sliding all over his crack, catching at his stretched rim. His hands grab Kei’s hips and-

“Ready baby?” he asks and Kei nods frantically yes.

And then Kuroo pushes in, extraordinarily slow, so much that Kei bucks back against him, chasing the full feeling even though it stings. Kuroo groans, so impossibly hard and almost undone, he pulls back out to start thrusting, jerky and hard, knowing neither of them is really going to last. 

They build a rhythm, uneven because Kei’s not used to this position and he’s impatient, but hard and punishing and Kuroo angles himself so Kei sees stars every time. Then he drapes himself over Kei’s arched back, muffling his groans by biting at Kei’s shoulder, so hard it should hurt but his brain is short-circuiting and when the other’s hand starts stroking Kei’s cock in time it’s perfect.

More, more, more.

 He chases it, moaning shamelessly though he’s not listening to himself, just Kuroo’s huffs and choked off grunts and oh.

Kei comes all over Kuroo’s hand and the floor, harder than he ever has felt himself spasm around the other as Kuroo bites at his neck and tenses, finishing up himself with a couple of short thrusts before pulling out to discard the condom. 

His legs give up on him, and Kuroo quickly maneuvers him to the bed. 

He tries to stand immediately, because he’s not used to this, he generally doesn’t stay and suddenly looking at Kuroo’s flushed face is too much.

This is a one night stand.

Alas, he cant and is left sitting there, gaze locked with the older man.

.

.

The haze of the alcohol has worn off, he notices, mostly at least.

In the middle of this stormy sea of ‘what did I just do?’ there’s a part of Tetsuro that is strangely calm.

Tsukishima is looking up at him, the expression on his face so conflicted that Tetsuro is compelled to hug him, to comfort the other and tell him it’s all alright, he loves him but it’s alright, Tsukishima doesn’t love him back and that is too.

He wasn’t that drunk, he knew what he was getting into.

Still, he sits on the bed beside the blond, setting a hand on his shoulder because his face feels to intimate and his thigh too sexual. “Tsukki, c’mon, lie down for a bit.” He says, he knows what they just did wasn’t a scene, not in the traditional way. But something about the other screams vulnerability and Tetsuro will be damned if he’s just going to sit there.

Tsukishima turns to look at him eyes big and almost glassy, he nods and lets himself be pushed back on the bed. “You don’t need to take care of me, I’m alright.” he says, stubborn to the end, even as he settles against the pillows closing his eyes for a second and breathing in deep.

Tetsuro’s lips twitch. “I’m just laying you down for a bit. You don’t look like you can walk.” He says laying down too and doesn’t know what to do.

He wants to hold Tsukishima.

But it’s probably not going to go down well.

Instead, his head nudges at the blond’s still-covered shoulder -funny that, Tetsuro never took off the shirt- and Tsukishima turns his head away, his voice resonates in the room. “I’ll be out of your hair in a second.”

“You know I wouldn’t mind if you stayed.” Tetsuro says, though he knows what the response is going to be.

He hears Tsukishima sigh. “I think I’m better off going back to my dorm.” He says, head turning towards Tetsuro again, and then his eyes are so open, longing clear in them. “Can we keep this secret? I know there are rumors about me but-“

Ah, of course, Akaashi.

“Sure Tsukki, it’s fine.” Tetsuro all but forces himself to say, though he’d give anything for things to be different. “We’re still- I mean-“ he says, not really knowing what  to say. “Friends? Even after what just happened?” he finishes lamely.

Tsukishima blinks at him. “I- yeah.” He says lips spreading into a small smile. And fuck Tetsuro can’t even be mad, he doesn’t have the right to be anyways. “We’re on for movies tomorrow, aren’t we?”

Tetsuro closes his eyes to try and bat away the sting in them. “Yeah, I’m banning documentaries though.” He jokes, taking a deep breath.

“You were the one who wanted to watch that food one.” The blond says shrugging. The bed shifts beside him as Tsukishima’s weight is lifted off it, Tetsuro pretends to be occupied with the cracks on the ceiling while the blond quietly tugs on his clothes. “I’ll be off then.” He says.

“I’ll walk you to the door.” Tetsuro says, moving to stand, but the blond just shakes his head.

“No need.”

With those words, he departs, Tetsuro lets himself fall back on the bed the heels of his hands pressing at his eyes until little lights bloom across the dark.

.

.

‘There, it’s done’ Kei thinks.

He does so obsessively even, all through the walk to his dorm and up the stairs and all the way into his room.

Even as a desperate, cold feeling fills him, even as he hurries to the shower, suddenly craving warmth.

When he looks in the mirror there’s a huge bite mark on his shoulder, he’s never had a bruise this conspicuous, it’s not going to be easy to cover up.

And for some reason Kei wants to cry.

He goes into the shower.

.

.

The next day Kei doesn’t get up all morning, he has coffee for lunch and showers at three pm. Only because his huge mouth decided a good way to reassure the guy he goaded into fucking him last night that they are still friends, was to promise to come over to watch movies today.

For a second he entertains the idea of faking ill, but knowing Kuroo he’d be at his door in fifteen minutes, whether he believes Kei or not.

God, he fucked up.

-for really, really good sex, but that's a non-issue because he fucked up-

And Akaashi and Bokuto aren’t even going to be there to act as a buffer, Kei has chosen the worst possible moment to be a slut, hasn’t he?

But then, if he doesn’t go Kuroo may take it as a sign that Kei wants nothing to do with him, and Kei can’t stand that thought either. 

So he’s there at four pm sharp. Holding a tub of the macadamia ice cream that he knows Kuroo likes. And fuck it, really, wasn’t Kuroo fucking Bokuto back when they were in high school? for all Kei knows the other is inside buffing his nails in peace while Kei falls to pieces in front of his door.

He rings the doorbell once, twice. No one comes out.

Relief washes over him for a short moment, maybe Kuroo went out and he doesn’t have to face this just yet. 

Of course -the world hates him, Kei remembers- he’s not that lucky.

There's a groan and the sound of footsteps coming from behind the door and then Kuroo opens the door, hair askew, even messier than usual, in a black, oversized t-shirt that has what seems to be Dorito dust all over the front, and pajama pants. “Tsukki, hey.” He says. 

Kei grimaces. “I woke you up, didn’t I?” he asks. “Sorry, I’ll just-“

“No, no, not at all, come in.” Kuroo says, grabbing him by the wrist. “I’m sorry, we never set a time.” The older man rubs his nose. 

And despite his inner turmoil, Kei can admit that it’s adorable, he walks past Kuroo, entering the familiar apartment. It’s dark inside, the living room TV is on, paused in some movie that Kei doesn’t recognize, -the frozen screen shows Keira Knightley in a skimpy green dress though-and there’s a jumbo bag of Doritos laying open on it. 

Kei goes to sit while Kuroo slips to the kitchen for some spoons for the ice cream. 

His hands find the Doritos bag and he starts eating them, just for something to do. Kuroo finds him like that when he comes back. Kei immediately flushes. “Sorry, I was hungry.” He says.

Kuroo’s eyebrows rise above his tired eyes. “It’s fine, you got us ice cream.”

“Right.” Kei says. Continuing to eat the Doritos as they both sit, stiff-backed and awkward, a whole meter away from each other. Neither even moves to unpause the movie.

Then suddenly there’s a hand at his elbow. And Kei is so tense that he flinches away.

He turns to find Kuroo’s hurt eyes staring back at him.

The man recoils like he’s been burned. “Sorry,” he says, looking down at his hand.

And he looks so tired and unhappy, Kei feels the need to do something, even if whatever he can do is not going to be good enough.

So he does the only thing he knows how.

The only thing that makes sense.

He kisses Kuroo.

.

.

Tsukishima’s lips are on his.

And his hands are on Tetsuro’s cheeks. 

He’s not too sure he actually woke up and opened the door now, this might be a dream.

It probably is.

Although whether it’s a good or bad one is yet to be seen. 

It takes most of his strength to lift his hands and push the blond’s warm body away, to the point where Tetsuro feels a little empty and cold when they part. He stares at the other man, Tsukishima peers at him from behind his glasses. “Sorry.” He says, cheeks red and Tetsuro isn’t sure what he’s apologizing for. “Sorry, you just looked-“

Ah, it’s the kiss then. “Don’t worry.” He says because what else can he do? Scream and plead for the other to at least acknowledge the feelings Tetsuro has for him? Only if he wanted the blond to never speak to him again, would that be an option. “You don’t have to feel responsible or anything. If anything I should be the one apologizing.” He says, voice strained from the place where his vocal cords are trying to fold in on themselves. 

Tsukishima frowns, lips pressing together tightly. “Why?” He asks, and Tetsuro internally screams.

Because he took advantage of Tsukishima, because he’s supposed to be the older one, the rational one, he shouldn’t be randomly getting buzzed and sleeping with his friends. Because he’s pushing things he has no right to onto the blond and everyone else, just by selfishly staying close. “I should have- I know we both had a few drinks, but I shouldn’t have-“

“Done exactly what I goaded you into doing?” Tsukishima interrupts him, eyes hard, hands pinching the sofa cushions. “Don’t play the martyr, I wasn’t any drunker than you were.”

Tetsuro sighs. “That may be true.” He agrees. “But I’m still the older one.” Those long fingers ball not fists. 

“If you regret it so much then maybe I shouldn’t be here,” Tsukishima says, looking down, eyes glassy. And Tetsuro feels like he’s watching from outside himself, the blond gets up, face turned away.

He could let the other go, maybe pretending it never happened would be best. Then after some time, they could be friends, like the other times things like this have happened.

But something tells him that this isn’t like the other times.

Tetsuro shoots up, hands reaching out blindly, grabbing at the other’s shirt. “Hey, no. I don’t.” it’s all he can muster up, words fail him. He looks straight into Tsukishima’s hurt golden eyes and hopes it’s enough.

“Then what?” Tsukishima sniffs. “You used to do this with Bokuto, right? Why am I so different?”

And Tetsuro wants to be sincere, wants to say that he only realized how he feels about Bokuto a couple of months ago, that he has known what he feels about Tsukishima since that one barbecue in his third year, that Bokuto would never have him for real but he has dared to dream about being with Tsukishima.

But where would that lead them? 

“I know Tsukki.” He sighs. “I’m just scared that I did something to hurt you, you left like I was chasing you out with a knife last night, and then when you flinch like that around me…”

“You didn’t.” The blond says, looking down. “And I’m not flinching right now, am I?” he gestures at where Tetsuro’s hands re, on bunched up in the side of his t-shirt and the other around his arm. “Look, I wanted to.” He says, eyes averted, one of his hands closing warmly over Tetsuro’s elbow. “And I know how it looked when I left. It’s fine if you want to forget about it, but don’t act like you did me some wrong.” He sniffs, again, and that hand pulls him closer. “Because you didn’t.”

Tetsuro bites his lip, he swallows hard and steps forward, forehead falling on Tsukishima’s shoulder. “Ok.” 

And then the blond’s arms come up to wrap around his back, and Tetsuro’s hands snake around the taller man’s middle, squeezing hard because Tsukishima is there.

Holding him.

It takes a while for Tsukishima to stop sniffling and for Tetsuro’s breathing to calm down. "We're ok, right?" Tetsuro asks and Tsukishima nods.

He guides them both down to sit on the sofa and out of the corner of his eye, Tetsuro spots something dark marring the skin of the other’s neck, something that disappears under Tsukishima’s shirt. He tugs at the shirt from behind, revealing more bruised, bitten skin. “Holy hell.” He says, pulling back to gain some perspective. Tugging at the shirt until it exposes the whole thing. “Why didn’t you say anything!? This is huge.”

And it is, Tetsuro is surprised that there doesn’t seem to be any broken skin, yet all his teeth are there, etched in the other’s skin in purple-blue and maroon. 

Tsukishima coughs, hands pulling back to rest in his lap. “I didn’t notice it until I got home.”

Well, fuck.

“I’m so-“

Tsukishima glares at him. “Stop apologizing.”

“Fine.” Tetsuro purses his lips. “But are you sure you’re fine?” he runs a finger over the bruise and Tsukishima hisses. “Yeah, that must hurt. I guess I really was out of it…”

He expects the blond to move away and fix the shirt, but he stays there, and Tetsuro can’t help but map out the contours of the bruise with his finger, the touch feather-soft. “A wildcat might’ve mauled me less.” Tsukishima grumbles.

“You’ve clearly never had a cat.” Tetsuro says, looking up at Tsukishima’s haughty eyes, feeling like himself for the first time since yesterday. 

Tsukishima shrugs, leaning into his hand. “So? I'm pretty sure I'm right.”

The air in the room changes, gets heavy and loaded, and Tetsuro knows he’s getting sucked in again. 

“Tsukki…” He whispers, low and raspy. “We were supposed to watch movies.”

The blond’s eyes are earnest, clear. “We still can if you want to.” It’s just like back in November, only now it’s Tetsuro that’s being given a choice.

He swallows hard. “What do you want to do?” Tsukishima leans his head to the side, cheeks a rosy pink, cheek brushing Tetsuro’s hand. Eyes drilling into Tetsuro’s, and he’s not a fool, he knows what the blond is saying, even if he won't talk. “I need you to-“

“Can I show you?” He asks, and maybe Tetsuro would take offense if it were someone else, but Tsukishima has never been the kind to voice his feelings. This isn’t anything serious, it seems silly to push so much.

Just knowing he’s not alone in wanting this will do. “Yes.” Tetsuro croaks.

And then Tsukishima is turning to kiss the hand on his shoulder, he’s laying tiny kisses along Tetsuro’s arm until he reaches his neck, and bites down, just hard enough to make him groan. “You barely let me do anything last night.” He whispers against Tetsuro’s pulse. “So unfair.”

Letting himself fall backward, tugging Tsukishima along with him, Tetsuro smiles at the blond hovering above him. “We have a few hours.”

And then he’s being kissed again, soft, yet insistent lips are everywhere. In a way, Tetsuro knows where this is coming from, he saw it in Tsukishima’s demeanor, the way he actually hugged Tetsuro without any prompting. He can almost hear the words -some variation of ‘we’re fine, it’s fine’- and he relishes in being consoled so sweetly, it’s the best he can aspire to.

So he lets himself melt into it, knowing he’s at the very least wanted back.

.

.

Well into the night, Koutarou turns his key into the lock

Keiji totters behind him, arms laden with boxes from their day sightseeing in Kyoto, they had to take a cab from the station because of them. Kuroo wasn’t answering his phone.

He’s about to turn on the light when he notices a large, bulging form on the sofa, he turns to shush Akaashi, who rolls his eyes and walks past him, headed for their bedroom.

The dark-haired man rolls his eyes, used to the way he and Kuroo like to startle each other when either falls asleep on the couch

Koutaro tiptoes closer to the couch, eyes narrowing in the sparse light until Akaashi turns on the light in their bedroom and there’s just enough light that seeps over to the living room for him to see.

“’kaashi!” he whispers, padding towards the bedroom. “’kaashi, come see.”

Akaashi is setting down the many boxes, trying to keep some semblance of order in the room. “Kou, I know he sleeps funny.” He sighs. “We bought too many things.”

“No, ‘kaashi, really, come.” He says, dragging his boyfriend by the wrist. “They're so cute.”

Interest piqued, Akaashi follows him, to the mouth of the hallway, from where they can both see clearly, awash in the leftover light from the room are Tsukishima and Kuroo, sleeping curled into each other, covered with the blanket Akaashi keeps under the cushions for these situations. “Finally.” Akaashi whispers beside him.

Koutarou frowns. “You think?” He asks, leaning against the wall. “We all fall asleep like that lately.”

It’s true, he’s even fallen asleep on Tsukishima once or twice, in the two and a half months since the blond came to Tokyo the couch has kind of become a third bed, with all of them tired so often it can’t be helped. To be sincere, Koutarou just thought they were sleeping cutely.

After all, for the longest time, it has looked like that is going nowhere, what with Tetsuro being too hard to convince to do anything and Tsukishima being too caught up in his first semester of college.

“Kuroo has a hickey.” Akaashi says dryly, turning around and heading back to the bedroom.

Koutarou strains his eyes, and indeed, there, in plain sight on the visible side of Kuroo’s neck is a dark smudge. For some reason, it's uncomfortable to look at it, he turns around and goes to the room.

Akaashi’s pulled out some clothes from the boxes and is folding them. “I guess we can all go on double dates now.” He grins. “Isn’t that fun?”

But Akaashi doesn’t seem to find it fun. He gives Koutarou a tired look. “I think we better wait until they tell us.” He says, looking back don at the clothes.

“You don’t think they’re together?” Koutarou asks, confused and slightly irritated too. “I mean it looks pretty straightforward.”

“You don’t know Tsukishima like I do,” Akaashi says and hands him a box, presumably so Koutarou can help fold and put away its contents.

Suddenly he’s not so stoked about this whole thing, annoyance rises up his throat as he pulls out the shirt and folds it unevenly.

But no, he has to think positively and feel happy for Kuroo. That’s what a good best friend would do right?

Akaashi’s probably just being cautious and that’s perfectly normal for him. Koutarou can wait until the morning to find out anyways, even if the empty chasm that has opened up in his stomach is begging him to shake the men on the couch awake and ask for an explanation.

He’s not sure why it matters so much.

Chapter Text

The bruises on his legs hurt, even more than usual.

Keiji has never liked to take pain pills much, but he might need them if he wants to get a decent night of sleep

It's a long day tomorrow.

And Keiji keeps getting left behind.

He knows how ungrateful he's being, he has a wonderful boyfriend, he'd have amazing friends if he let himself.

If he didn't have this tangle of feelings growing in his chest every second of every day, making him bitter, jealous, annoyed even as he loves so, so much.

He had some solace in Kuroo.

Now Kuroo and Tsukishima are, whatever they are and Keiji can see oh so clearly how misplaced, how abhorrent his feelings are.

There's no idyll.

He's one side of the river and they are on another, he has to grow up, he has to face it, he has to get over it before it fucks up everything. He needs help.

Koutarou, blatant worry on his face, is a constant presence, as full of love for Keiji as he was from the start, but he seems to respect Keiji's decision to make some distance so he can breathe. He kisses Keiji asleep every night, he rubs his aches.

And Keiji can't tell him, he can't take a half-asleep confession as a fact, whatever inkling of truth he thinks he has grasped may be what sinks his relationship to the bottom of the ocean if he starts pulling on it.

For all he knows he might bring down the friendships between their little group with him too. And Keiji couldn't take that.

Sighing, he picks up the phone. "Hello, yes, I'd like to schedule an appointment." 

.

.

You know those faucets in movies that completely fall off when one tries to close them? And then start uncontrollably spraying water everywhere no matter how much anyone tries to contain the spray?

Well, Kei figures that’s an appropriate metaphor for his life right now.

Or at least the Kuroo situation.

That Sunday he was supposed to be mending things, putting them back in the dubious equilibrium in which they had been before.

Instead, he ended up sleeping with Kuroo again.

-and actually sleeping with him, they were woken up by a chipper Bokuto with two steaming mugs of coffee in his hands on Monday morning-

And it felt amazing.

It felt right, it-

Kei can't dimension things anymore, he doesn't know what he feels or ho he feels it for, if everyone weren't so nice and patient he's sure he would've already had a mental breakdown. He's sure he still has feelings for Akaashi, he's also sure that he feels more than just physical attraction for Kuroo.

Or he would've never slept with the dark-haired man again.

And again, and again, even when he came back from summer vacation a week ago.

He contemplates this while lying on Kuroo's bed, watching the early morning sunlight slowly travel over Kuroo's tanned skin, the planes and ridges of his handsome face, he has been watching the other since the sun came up, and he itches to leave because he technically doesn't have a relationship of any kind with him-other than as Kuroo's teammate and more than occasional hookup- but then he remembers how Kuroo looked that day, all crestfallen and hurt.

And god, if he goes the rest of his life without ever hearing Kuroo apologize like he's just crashed a truck full of puppies, it's going to be too long.

So he's at an impasse, with himself, with Kuroo, even with Akaashi, who is the picture of polite avoidance lately. And Kei doesn't understand why, maybe for him, it's more uncomfortable to know that Kei might be having sex with someone else than it is for Kei to see Bokuto sucking his face every fifteen minutes he's around them.

That said, Bokuto has grown on him.

Like a fungus, a loud fungus that knocks on Kuroo's door noisily. "Tsukki, you ready?"

Beside him, Kuroo stirs, curling up into himself, hand taking hold of a pillow and pressing it against the exposed side of his head. "What time's it?" he mumbles, sleepy."

"It's Sunday," Kei says, hand brushing over Kuroo's warm forehead, smoothing over the small furrow that has formed there. "Go back to sleep."

"M'kay Tsukki." Kuroo murmurs, relaxing into the pillow once again.

A wave of tenderness washes over Kei, he almost stays, he wants to stay, but it's not right.

So he gets up, grabs some sweatpants and his t-shirt from last night. He pulls them on quickly and tiptoes out of the room.

Bokuto is waiting for him on the kitchen counter, protein smoothies ready, brilliant grin on his face. It's seven in the morning on a Sunday and he looks his best. Kei sometimes hates him a little for his energy levels, but no one can hate Bokuto for long.

He's basically the personification of one of those sunbeams that are heaven to lie on the grass in.

At this point, Kei takes it, his newfound fondness of Bokuto is the least conflicting of the things that have hit him in the past year.

"At least someone wakes up before twelve in this house." Bokuto beams at him, offering out the smoothie.

Kei yawns. "Just because you cheated, again."

"You know I didn't cheat this time." the man says, chugging the thick drink like it's water.

"So you finally admit that you cheated the first time." Kei grumble, sipping at his like a normal person. "I don't know why I keep humoring you."

"Because you like our runs." Bokuto says, one arm pulling at the other behind his head, muscles bulging in the bright light.

Kei looks away, he can't deny that running clears his head, but he wouldn't do it by himself. And apart from occasionally teasing him, Bokuto doesn't judge him or ask awkward questions, even when Kei knows the other man wants to. 

As he does often.

And besides, Bokuto bribes him with desserts, what is he supposed to do?

It's that easy camaraderie that prompts him to do it.

Once they are doing their usual stretches in the bright August sun, Kei steels himself.

"Do you think I should come around less?" he asks, hands reaching for his feet.

Bokuto's surprised voice floats over to him. "No, why?"

"I have a feeling that it makes Akaashi uncomfortable." Kei reaches further, the backs of his thighs sting. "From the start actually, but even more lately."

There's silence then and Kei chances a look up, Bokuto is looking at him through narrowed eyes, face serious for once. "I'm not going to tell you to do anything." he starts. "You should talk to Keiji if you feel like that."

Of all possible outcomes, this wasn't high on Kei's list. He straightens up. "I've tried," he says. "He just puts on that blank face like he doesn't want to impose and says it's fine."

Bokuto stays still for a moment, eyes still narrowed, and Kei feels that distinct aura of a prey bird that the other emits on the court for a second. But then he smiles. "Well, I'll help you."

"How?" Kei asks.

The Owl shrugs. "I don't have a plan or anything." he says, clapping Kei on the shoulders. "But we can think of one while we run."

"I guess..." Kei sighs, grateful though his nerves are still on edge. "Can we get ice cream on the way back?"

Bokuto's booming laugh makes him feel just a little bit better.

.

.

The office handle turns softly in Keiji's hand. 

It opens to reveal a cushy room, so clean and neat that it instantly gives him shivers. The couch is plush and large and white. so much that he's afraid he'll dirty it by being near.

A woman in her thirties is sitting on a high backed chair in front of it, her hair is up in a perfect chignon and she's dressed in impeccable business casual attire. "Hello, Akaashi-kun, please come in, take a seat. You can call me Satoko," she says.

This may have been a mistake.

Keiji goes in, regardless and sits primly on the edge of the couch, he looks down at his outfit -loose shirt, leggings, sneakers- and his fingers lace together. "Hello, Satoko-sensei."

She smiles kindly. "No need for formalities." she says. "Unless you prefer it that way. I saw your file, you're a second year, right? Literature."

"Yes." he says looking down, the joints of his fingers already hurt. "I am." Keiji has no idea how to start.

"Was there anything in particular you wanted to talk about? You didn't list a reason, but you did get my first open slot, I usually don't get many patients this late on Friday afternoons."

"I-" he sighs, methodically popping his knuckles. "There is something specific, I just don't know where to start, it's a mess."

She hums. "Is this situation making you anxious? Does it affect your daily life?"

"In a way, it has to do with the people I live with." Keiji answers.

"I see." she says. "Are you in campus housing?"

"No." he shakes his head. "No, I live off-campus, with- with my boyfriend and a friend of ours."

The therapist's expression doesn't change, she simply nods and scribbles something into a pad. "So this is something to do with them?" Keiji nods. "Do you want to tell me more about your boyfriend, before we go on?"

That's a good place to start, easy, so Keiji does. He tells her that he met Bokuto in his first year of high school, that he was a supernova burst from the start, that he consumed Keiji's attention from the first time he tossed to the other, that Keiji's heart faltered every time he got into one of his moods. That he made a list of his weaknesses and solutions just so he could help. That then the older man left, and the hole he left in Keiji's everyday world was the blackhole resulting from the collapse of a star, that he dated someone, someone he loved, but he never forgot Bokuto. And when it didn't work out, Bokuto was suddenly there again, there, loving him, forgiving him, being everything that Keiji never deserved. And now he's the axis to his world, the one thing that keeps him steady through all the anxiety, the self-doubt and the conflict.

She watches, intelligent eyes intent on Keiji's face. "I see, you love your partner very much. He sounds like an amazing person." She says, smiling, pushing a bowl of candy towards Keiji. "Now would you like to tell me about your other roommate? If you feel comfortable with it, of course.

"Ok." Keiji takes a deep breath. "His name is Kuroo." Somehow, saying all of this feels good, Keiji has kept from writing about them, for fear that his writings would be found and also because he's not sure if he could ever stop if he did. And so, he thinks of Kuroo. Kuroo who takes care of everyone around him even at his own cost, who is noble, who has the most selfless heart out of the four of them. Kuroo who consoled Keiji after his break up even after the person Keiji was grieving over was someone he had feelings for. Kuroo who he knows couldn't be a better friend, whom he's so thankful to for being there for Koutarou when Keiji wasn't. The man that makes him coffee when they study late, the one that Keiji has wrapped in a blanket while he sleeps more times than he can remember. The one that looks like he might be bad but turns out to be the sweetest person when one gets to know him.

"Very well." She says while Keiji nods. "I'm correct to assume that these two are close?"

"Yes, they are best friends." Keiji answers, hand inadvertently squeezing hard at the little ball.

"So the conflict arises from their relationship with you?" she asks. "Or is something disquieting happening between them?"

Keiji thinks back to Kyoto, to Bokuto's mumbled, sleepy confession, to his support. And he doesn't know how to answer, he still hasn't given her the whole picture either. "Its- actually, there is someone else involved," he says, lips trembling, fingernails picking at the skin around his fingernails. "The person that I mentioned, the one I dated is a close friend of all of ours and he-" he what? He's sleeping with Kuroo, he's running with Bokuto, he's always there within reach and Keiji so wants to bridge that small, small gap.

He bites his lip. 

"Would you prefer to talk about him from the beginning, the way you've done for the others?" she asks, and then reaches into a small drawer on the coffee table, handing Keiji a stress ball. "Here." 

Keiji looks down, noticing the small drop of blood pooling beside the fingernail of his thumb where he's pinched the skin off. "I- yes, I think that might be better. Tsukishima, he-"

It pours from him now, Keiji feels conflicted still, but somehow lighter. He tells her how he got reacquainted with Kei, how he was Keiji's lifeline, a breath of fresh air, a comfort that he craved every night, that he never tired of. How he grew to want, to love him. And all the things he dreamed of, how he's the only one he ever wrote about. The way Keiji felt himself crumble to pieces when they broke up, and how he feels every time he looks at the other now, the shame, the envy that fills him up, eats into his heart when he sees the blond with Kuroo or Bokuto. Though he has no right. He has no right. He's hurt Kei enough and-

"I'm going to stop you there." her voice is kind. "Am I correct that you currently have romantic feelings for all three of these young men?" she asks, seriously, and for a second Keiji wants to fold in on himself and never speak again. He squeezes at the little ball, he's gotten this far, hasn't he? So he nods and she does too. "I see, is that the issue that prompted you to visit me today?" he nods again.

"I know it's not normal." he says, voice small, eyes burning and growing blurry. "I know I need help, that's why I'm here today."

He looks up, expecting to find concern, maybe even disgust, but her eyes are full of compassion. "Do these feelings that you have feel wrong? I'm not talking about how you feel about being in love with these people, I'm talking about if it feels wrong to love them?"

Keiji looks at her, confused. "Well, no." he answers. "It makes me feel selfish and strange, but in and of itself it doesn't feel wrong."

"Akaashi-kun, have you ever heard of the term polyamory?"

.

.

FROM: ME -18:36

‘Kaashi can you come home quick.

Please.

FROM: ‘KAASHI BABY <3 -18-42

I’m on my way.

Is something wrong?

Are you ok?

FROM: ME -18:43

Yep, just fine.

Miss u

Brow furrowed as he scans the liquor aisle of the convenience store, Koutarou puts away his phone.

The plan that he and Tsukishima came u with ended up being the simplest it can be -not for a lack of trying on his part, Tsukki vetted costumes and locking anyone anywhere- Koutarou just left the blond in their apartment, taking Kuroo with him. 

And so, now they are here, and Koutarou is sort of nervous.

But whatever way this goes, they are going to need the booze.

He shoots a glance at Kuroo, who is over by the chips aisle, he agreed quickly enough when Koutarou explained the plan, but he’s been extremely quiet since they left the apartment.

Koutarou is not a cautious person, he usually comes out and asks, but this business between Kuroo and Tsukishima is dicier than he’s used to, and delicate. Kuroo asked him to please not make it a big deal to the blond, and there's some sense in that.

But it’s almost been two months.

All he’s gotten from Kuroo is that no, they are not together, and Tsukishima will talk about anything but it, he’s even talked to Koutarou about his brother -while having ice cream after one of their runs- but no matter how Koutarou tries to get to the issue, no Kuroo.

He sighs and grabs two bottles, if things go well they’re all supposed to have a fun little night of drunk games and the like, if not, each is going to take their own introvert and ply them with booze and comfort. It’s simple, still, but this was necessary, it has gotten to a point when even he gets slightly uncomfortable by Akaashi handing Tsukishima a cup of coffee and then disappearing into heir bedroom with a smile straight out of Stepford town any time the blond visits.

Hell, Tsukishima actively tries to be nice to Akaashi lately.

It’s almost creepy.

Kuroo comes up to him, arms laden with chips and a couple of things to fry. Koutarou raises his eyebrows at the last ones. “You know how they are.” Kuroo excuses. “I’m hungry too.”

“You didn’t have lunch, I’m not surprised.” Koutarou grumbles. “Keep forgetting and you're going to get sick.”

“It’s once, I was studying.” Kuroo peers at the bottles. “Did you get Kahlua? You know Tsukki-“

“Yeah, I owe him a cocktail, we have a bottle at home, don’t worry.” Koutarou says, heading for the checkout, grabbing a ready-made sandwich on his way. 

They finish paying and go out, once they’re in Kuroo’s car Koutarou tosses him the sandwich. “I’m the only one who doesn't die drinking on an empty stomach.”

The other takes it without complaint. “You shouldn’t do that anyway it’s going to give you gastritis." He says between bites. “Think they’ll work it out?”

“Yeah.” Koutarou thinks for a second. “I mean they’re generally good at talking to each other.”

Kuroo looks at him, wide-eyed for a second and he goes back to the sandwich, chewing carefully, almost as if trying to stall, in the meanwhile, Koutarou checks his hone, no texts from Akaashi, or Tsukishima for that matter. He’s not sure if he should be worried or relieved.

Suddenly Kuroo straightens up. “Bo.”

“Huh?”

“D’you think they still have like… feelings for each other?” Koutarou turns to look at Kuroo, the other is looking through the windshield at the darkness outside. 

“I-“ Koutarou doesn’t want to lie, he sucks at it anyway. “I guess in a way… yeah.”

Kuroo hums. “And you’re cool with it?” he asks, voice oh so even. But Koutarou can sense the desperation in it.

“Well I mean-“ he leans his elbows on the dashboard. “I know ‘kaashi loves me, and he agreed to be with me. I get jealous sometimes but in the end, I trust him, and Tsukki’s fun anyways, I totally get it.” Never mind that Akaashi is always so understanding, that he always accepts Koutarou, with whatever he's giving.

“Look at you, being the mature one.” Kuroo groans, chin dropping to his chest. “I’m getting too attached man.” he says it softly, enough that had a car driven by, Koutarou wouldn’t have been able to hear. “And we’re not even dating.”

“Well, ask him to date you.” Koutarou shrugs. “He practically lives in your room, and you two share clothes, don't think I haven't noticed.”

“I can’t Bo.” He sighs. “We already had that conversation. We even said we could sleep with other people, for fuck’s sake.”

Koutarou stiffens. “Well have you?” Kuroo shakes his head. “Has he?”

“Not that I’ve noticed, I guess I’m convenient, we have volleyball together and all.” He says.

Koutarou really loves Kuroo, but sometimes the dark-haired man really makes him see red. “Bro don’t say that about yourself.” He says, voice serious. “You know Tsukishima doesn’t stick to things unless they matter.” He says, rubbing the other’s back. “Remember how much of a little shit he was about Volley in high school?” he asks. “And here he is, you just have to push a little bro. For yourself.”

Kuroo groans. “It’s not that easy.”

Stubborn Kuroo, he can never win with stubborn Kuroo. “Hey, wanna go play ball while we wait?” he offers, knowing this isn’t going anywhere. “You still have one on the back, right?”

Tossing the sandwich wrapper in the car’s trash baggie, Kuroo looks up. “Yeah Bo, it’s still there.”

.

.

The apartment is dark and quiet, it's later than Kei expected and still no sigh of Akaashi.

Kei throws his head back over the sofa's backrest and bounces his legs nervously.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU -18:55

On his way. 

Perk up Tsukki.

:D

Kei's going to have to buy the owl something, he has been so supportive that it makes him blush.

About ten minutes later, the door opens a crack. "Kou?" Akaashi's voice floats to him tentatively and Kei realizes that maybe waiting in the dark like a creep or a serial killer probably wasn't a good way to start this.

There's a click and the room floods with light.

Akaashi is in a pair of stylish grey shorts and a thin, wide-sleeved galaxy printed sweater.

He looks a little pale, but those smart blue eyes are sharp on Kei. "Tsukishima, good evening." he hesitates, immediately turning towards the hallway. "Do you know what Kou needed help with?"

"He's not in." Kei grumbles.

Akaashi's eyes narrow. "He just texted me saying he was."

"Uh." Kei grimaces, standing up. "That might not be wholly true." 

The dark-haired man stares at Kei for a second, until realization dawns on his face. "Are you serious?" his eyes are drilling holes in Kei.

And his mind goes blank, suddenly he feels like a complaining lover, except that Akaashi is not his lover and Kei definitely has no right to complain about him.

So he shrugs, which prompts Akaashi to shoot him a withering glare and stalk towards his room.

Kei stands there, flabbergasted for a couple of seconds -he has never seen Akaashi actually mad- before he snaps out of it and gives chase, just fast enough to slip into Akaashi and Bokuto's room before the other closes the door. "We wouldn't have done this if you weren't acting like a pre-teen girl," he says, facing Akaashi's glare with one of his own.

"I'm not doing anything." Akaashi says, bending down to take off his sock and slip into his house slippers. "Why can't you all give me some space?"

"It's not us all." Kei counters, and it all spills out, like he has no control over it. "You have some sort of problem with me, and fine, I get it, you don't want to see your slut of an ex, but at least face it and tell me. I never took you for a coward."

Thumbs rubbing hard at his temples, Akaashi takes a deep breath. "It's not that, Tsukishima. I'm not judging you for anything" he sighs sitting on the bed and when he looks up at Kei there's suddenly no anger, Akaashi just looks tired. "But I'm going through some things ok? I'm sorry."

"It's hard to believe that when you barely speak three words t a time to me. I'm not stupid." Kei says, dropping down next to him. "I'll stop hanging out here so much if it bothers you, so-"

"No, don't," Akaashi says, eyes suddenly worried. 

Kei's really thrown for a loop here, Akaashi is usually pretty straight forward, and he definitely doesn't pull these kinds of mood changes. "Then what?"

"Look, it's not something I want to talk about, but it isn't really about you." Akaashi's fingers intertwine with each other, and Kei braces himself for the popping sound. "I'd prefer if you stuck around, I know I'm being awkward but I'll try not to be from now on." he says.

And then it starts. 

Pop, pop, pop.

And Kei kind of can't take it he's worried and he really, really hates when Akaashi gets anxious enough to do that. So he grabs those pale, cold hands and pulls them apart softly. "Why are you so anxious? I don't want to stop seeing you, I don't appreciate feeling like a bother is all."

Akaashi closes his eyes, he takes a deep breath, hands shaking a little. "It's just a lot, sometimes. I'm sorry."

"Do you want to tell me?" He says, softening his grip on the other's hands but Akaashi doesn't pull back. "I won't say anything."

The older man chuckles, watery and sad. "No, it's fine, I'm feeling better about it in general since this afternoon. I'll make it up to you, ok? I haven't even asked you about Kuroo. I'm such a bad friend."

Kei rolls his eyes. "Sort of." He says, releasing Akaashi's hands. "But we can talk about that later."

"Ok." Akaashi looks up at him, he still looks forlorn, and Kei can't help it. He leans in just as Akaashi does, the older man's head falling on Kei's shoulder, the small gesture, it leeches the stiffness from Akaashi's back. They stay like that for a couple of minutes. Kei thought he would be sad, if he ever got to be close to Akaashi like this again, but he just feels relieved, and the other seems to feel better, for some reason.

"You can tell them to come back now, I'll make coffee, we can watch something trashy."

"Erm... about that."

.

.

 

"Why are you two sweaty?" Tsukishima takes a step back as the two others enter the living room.

Keiji turns his head to see that yes, both men are sweat, Bokuto is even wearing shorts though autumn is rolling in and it's chilly out at this hour. He sighs and finishes turning on the coffee pot, he's sure they're going to need it, from the looks of the convenience store bags in Bokuto's hand they bought a decent amount of alcohol.

For once Keiji's very glad, he kind of needs the alcohol.

He's emotionally drained and even more confused than before. Though talking to the therapist -and the fifteen articles that he read about polyamory in the building's lobby after he got out- did make him feel slightly better, now the thing is that he has to do something about his feelings.

-now that he knows he isn't going crazy-

Which probably involves talking to Bokuto about this.

But Keiji's going to get drunk first and deal with that tomorrow, besides, there's a couple of things he wants to observe first.

After all, the therapist did point out that Keiji has no idea how the other's feel. And with what Bokuto said before...

He needs perspective before he does something rash.

Hands snake around his middle, Bokuto's usual scent of Keiji's body wash and sweat fills him and he melts into the hug. "Hi 'kaashi." Bokuto's voice is concerned, but loving. "Everything ok?"

Keiji nods, face turning to kiss at his cheek. "We're good Kou. More than good, really." he says, eyeing the convenience store bag. "Are you sure no one has anything tomorrow?"

"It's all planned, don't worry." the man says, setting the bottles on the counter. "You're drinking tonight?"

"Yes." Keiji nods. "Something sweet please?"

Bokuto grins, wide and relieved and Keiji feels so lucky. "You're on baby."

He ducks out of Bokuto's embrace to fetch the glass while his boyfriend goes to town on the bottles, then peers into the living room, where Kuroo has Tsukishima helping him get the decorative cushions out of the way. He smiles. Maybe he's been looking at things all wrong, they're all here, with him after all. He sits on the couch and watches them feeling tranquil, there's a lot of things to figure out but this night is to be enjoyed.

By the time Bokuto swoops in with the drinks, Keiji's settled and almost nodding off. The drink he's handed is dark, with milk and whipped cream on top. Keiji sips gratefully at it.

Music starts playing from Kuroo’s cat speaker and Bokuto drops on the couch beside Keiji.

“What are we playing?” Tsukishima, who is primly seated beside Kuroo, asks.

“Twister!” Bokuto crows.

The blond narrows his eyes at him. “No”

“What Tsukki, not drunk enough for it?” Kuroo teases, hands sliding up Tsukishima’s forearm.

The blond clears his throat, narrowing his eyes at Kuroo. “Actually no, not nearly. Also, if Bokuto falls on me I might die”

“We can play something quick first.” Bokuto interjects. “And then we go on to more funny things.”

“Like what?” Kuroo asks, eyes still trailing Tsukishima’s face. “Truth or dare is not gonna be nearly as fun with us all sober.”

“Well there’s this app for truth or dare that’s supposed to be funny, but Bro!” Bokuto smirks, excited.

The man’s head snaps back to Bokuto. “What Bo?”

“Do you still have that Jenga?” He asks. “The one we wrote all over when you were in first year.”

“I-“ Kuroo hesitates. “Wasn’t that a bit… y’know Bo.”

“So?” The owl says, shrugging and inching closer to Keiji. “We all have done worse. You guys aren’t scared, are you?” Keiji leans into the warmth by his side, both slightly unnerved and grateful for his boyfriend’s general lack of inhibition.

Tsukishima sneers, hands folding over his lap. “Define scared.”

“Aw c’mon, it’s fast and the worst you’re going to have to do is sit on someone’s lap.” Bokuto says, ruffing the blond’s hair. “Not that you do little of that around here.”

“Oh whatever, lets just get on with it.” The blond frowns, face reddening. “I’m almost out as it is and so is Akaashi.”

Kuroo grins, excited and swings an arm around Tsukishima’s back. “Tsukki! Finally.”

“Just go get the damn thing.” Tsukishima says, though he’s smiling rather fondly.

And so Kuroo does, he comes out of the room with a Jenga set that, Keiji finds has been scribbled all over in Kuroo’s meticulous handwriting and Bokuto’s rougher, larger one. He inspects one of the pieces.  “I’m getting a sense of déjà vu.”

Once the tower is built, they do a couple of warm up rounds and draw lots to determine the turns. Tsukishima, who has just come back from the kitchen, protectively cradling the Kahlua bottle, gets the shortest. “Oh ho, you’re first moonshine.” Kuroo says, elbowing the man.

“That just means I’m getting the easiest tile, you buffoon.” He narrows his eyes at the tower, all the written-on parts are towards the inside, so there’s no way he can Know what he’s picking. He carefully removes one of the bottom pieces, the tower holds, unsurprisingly, but Tsukishima goes red while reading it. “I-“

“C’mon Tsukki, what did you get?” Kuroo says peering over the blond’s shoulder. “Sit on the- Ha! Bro you called it!”

“Oh shut up” Tsukishima shows them the tile ‘sit on the lap of the person to your left is written there in big blocky letters. He looks at Keiji, like he might protest and get him out of the bind, after all, it’s Bokuto’s lap he’s supposed to sit on.

“Go ahead, it’s just a game.” He says, smiling slightly at how the blond blushes.

Tsukishima awkwardly goes up and sits on the edge of a still-laughing Bokuto’s knees. Somehow balancing so that he doesn’t have to sit anywhere above the other man’s upper thighs “Wait what’s the one who topples the tower supposed to do?” He asks after taking a drink directly from the bottle.

“Uh.” Kuroo and Bokuto look at each other, guilt on their faces. “When we played it they were supposed to strip.” Kuroo explains, and then shoots an apologetic look to Tsukishima. “But I mean we can change that.”

An awkward silence falls over the group, Keiji tries to think of an alternative, something funny.

“I’ll take it if it’s just down to underwear.” Tsukishima says, surprising them all. “God knows what you two can come up with if we change it.”

“Your distrust is deeply wounding, moonshine.” Kuroo says with a grin pulling at Tsukishima’s cheek. “But I think it’s fine too.” He leans back on the back rest of the couch.

They all turn to look at Keiji, who just shrugs.

“Ok decided!” Bokuto crows. “I’m next, gonna need you to move a bit Tsukki. Oh- also, there’s a few repeats, just so you all know.”

It turns out to be a finish drink piece, as do the next two drawn, Bokuto wasn’t kidding about this getting them drunk fast. Nothing interesting appears until it is Bokuto’s next tun to draw, Keiji cranes his neck to read the small piece of wood with ‘kiss the person in front of you’ inscribed in it. He turns to look at Bokuto and Tsukishima who are looking at him with similarly wide eyes. “Umm.”

Bokuto smiles at him, reassuring and warm, and Keiji nods.

The silver haired man rises and carefully steps around the coffee table with Jenga tower. Tsukishima leans over to Keiji, sitting in Bokuto’s spot for the time being and whispers. “Are you sure?”

Keiji gives him a small smirk. “I’ve always wondered how it looked.” And turns to the two again, not paying any mind to Tsukishima’s blush.

Turns out it is not a bad sight at all, Kuroo and Bokuto grin at each other before his boyfriend sweeps in with practiced ease and presses his lips to Kuroo’s for an entirely too-long moment, hands tangling in the other’s hair. “That’s how ya do it.” Bokuto crows, coming back to sit by Keiji.

Surprisingly, Tsukishima doesn’t grumble before retaking his place in the Owl’s lap.

“You’re a heathen.” Kuroo grumbles.

Bokuto rolls his eyes. “Like you didn’t make up most of these, getting soft in your old age?”

“I’m younger than you.” Kuroo mumbles while Keiji reaches in to pick a piece for himself.

‘Swap shirts with the tallest person in the room’ leaves him in Tsukishima’s green shirt that reaches the tops of his thighs. But then, conversely it leaves Tsukishima in Keiji’s all too short top -it’s slightly short on Keiji at least- that bares both his shoulders and midriff.

Even Bokuto stares and Keiji catches Kuroo slipping a hand under the shirt when he thinks they’re not looking.

Then Kuroo picks and he has to chug a drink of the other’s preference, Tsukishima too.

And Bokuto gets a free pass because the world loves him.

Keiji picks again and he has to go sit in Kuroo’s lap for a turn. Which would be ok, if Kuroo didn’t get the ‘kiss the person to your left’ one just then.

His face burns, and he notices that the last time this happened he was way more drunk… so he steals Tsukishima’s bottle and drinks from it. Kuroo tastes like vodka and warmth, he makes a little groan when their lips meet that Keiji drinks in.

It’s over too soon.

As they part, Keiji notices the other’s heated stares, especially Tsukishima’s who is sitting right beside them. “Not fair, Kuroo is getting all the kisses.” Bokuto whines from where he’s sitting with Tsukishima on his lap.

“You got a kiss too Kou.” Keiji says, leaning back against Kuroo, who laughs, rumbling and deep.

“Yeah Bro, Tsukki should be the one complaining.” He says and Tsukishima stiffens, sliding back on Bokuto’s lap.

“Please don’t put words in my mouth.” He says, pushing up his glasses. “Besides, who do you want me to kiss anyways.” he stares intensely at Kuroo, like he’s daring him.

“Well it’s only fair if it’s me.” Bokuto blurts out, flush high on his cheeks. “You did just kiss my boyfriend Bro.”

Tsukishima rolls his eyes, digging at Bokuto’s side with his elbow. “Shouldn’t you be jealous?”

“Well I am, but it was still hot.” Bokuto smirks, holding his drink up to his lips. “And you’re hot too.”

Keiji is torn between being worried and finding the whole thing extremely hot, it’s like he found out this is something relatively normal if uncommon and the world jus decided to become very in his face about it. “Well it would be fair.” His hay mind makes him blurt out

Behind him Kuroo stiffens. “Well Tsukki, you’re a free man.” He rolls his eyes. “So if you wanna.”

“Tsukishima narrows his eyes playfully. “You sure?” he asks, eyebrows rising. When Kuroo nods, he answers with a smirk. “Sure, sure?” and then this time he grabs Bokuto’s hand, sipping at the other’s drink, the picture of suggestive.

Wondering when Tsukishima got to this stage of drunk, Keiji turns to look at Kuroo. The tips of the man’s ears are bright red, and his mouth is just barely open. “Sure.” He says, clearly trying to seem nonchalant.

For a second, he’s not sure that Tsukishima is going to do it, but he shoots Kuroo one last look.

And then he turns around hooks his arms over the owl’s shoulders and kisses the life out of Bokuto. And then Keiji feels the déjà vu again, only this time he knows exactly what he’s feeling while he watches. Not too subtly, he reaches for a cushion to tuck over his lap, especially when he sees one of Bokuto’s hand slip under the purple shirt to pull Tsukishima closer.

Kuroo shifts behind him, uncomfortable, and Keiji wants to laugh.

The two finally part, Tsukishima wiping a trail of spit from his lower lip. He turns to look at the both of them, a satisfied smirk crawling over his features when Kuroo groans. “Why was that so hot?”

“Cuz we’re hot.” Bokuto says, like this is something frequent.

Keiji looks back at the block tower, blushing, and settles in more comfortably on Kuroo’s knees, while Tsukishima. Who is now very red and quietly mumbling. “Please be a drink” pulls out another block from the now very precariously constructed tower.

When he pulls, it wobbles, but it doesn’t fall. And it is indeed a drink.  

Sort of.

‘Do a body shot off the person to your left or let them do a body shot off you.’

The smug satisfaction radiating from Kuroo behind him is palpable, even if Keiji doesn’t turn around as he slides off the man’s lap and into the edge of the couch beside him.

“Oops, forgot that one was in there.” Bokuto says, quickly sliding out from under a very annoyed blond. “I’ll get the lemon and the salt!” He says, scurrying over to the kitchen.

Tsukishima and Kuroo share a look, after which the blond sighs and moves to lie on his back  on the couch, head on Keiji’s lap. Keiji smiles down at him. “You were just teasing him, it’s kind of poetic.”

“The world just hates me, Keiji.” The blond pouts and Keiji startles a bit from the way he says his first name.

It does stir up memories. “You could really be doing worse.” He says. “And you should take of my shirt for the time being too, the alcohol is going to stain it.”

Tsukishima does so, with narrowed eyes, and lies back down. Keiji slips his fingers into the blond hair, as calming as he can. Bokuto comes back and hands Keiji the lemon wedge while he makes a little line of salt down the blond’s chest. “You’re all crazy.” The blond hisses.

“You did just kiss the soul out of my boyfriend Kei.” Keiji says, smiling. “I think you’re just as bad.”

“It’s all your fault anyways.” He says.

Keiji shrugs, he seems to be shrugging a lot tonight. “Maybe so. But you enjoy it.”

Looking away, Tsukishima doesn’t answer.

.

.

He’s a lot drunker than he has been in a while.

Really.

And being drunk does strange things to his sensitivity.

Akaashi’s fingers, gently scratching at his scalp, feel like heaven and when he gently places the lemon rind between Kei’s lips he almost melts.

What has he gotten himself into?

All of his second thoughts, however fly right out of his hazy head when Kuroo appears above him, Kuroo with his razor smirk and sharp eyes who leans over him and mutters. “It’s cold Tsukki.” Before a cold liquid fills Kei’s navel, making gooseflesh rise all over his belly.

Kei doesn’t know, to him it actually burns.

Beside him, Kuroo kneels. “Ready?” he asks and Kei nods, breath caught in his throat. All too aware of Akaashi and Bokuto’s eyes on him.

He feels naked, he-

Kuroo’s tongue slips into his navel, mouth making little slurping sounds, so cold against Kei’s skin, and then it travels up his chest, lapping up every last grain of salt for what feels like an eternity until finally, finally it reaches Kei’s mouth. He thinks the other is just going to take away the rind of lemon. Instead, as their lips meet Kuroo bites into it, before pulling the thing out and slipping his tongue deep in Kei’s mouth.

The sound of the Jenga tower toppling over startles them, Kei looks to the side to find Bokuto looking guilty. “Gotta pay up dude!” Kuroo says, voice loaded and raspy.

“Aw, man.” Bokuto stands up, blushing and shrugs off his shirt and shorts, exposing expanses of toned muscle and a surprisingly large bulge in his boxers. “At least I’ll be comfy for the twister.”

.

.

Tetsuro is woken up by a groan and the sound of someone tripping. And a whole lot of cursing.

And there’s something on him.

He punches the offending, heavy object off him, which causes it to fall to the side with a thud.

“OW! Kuroo, what the hell!” someone yells and Tetsuro finally deigns to open his eyes. 

And close them right back up again, the light hurts. When did they drink so much? Oh god, he barely remembers anything after they made Tsukishima and Akaashi kiss while playing twister… No, actually he distinctly remembers a twister round ending because Akaashi started sloppy-kissing a nearly naked Bokuto, but was that before or after?

Ugh.

Slowly, carefully and shielding them with a hand he opens his eyes again.

To be met with a very annoyed owl sitting on the floor. “Were you sleeping on top of me, Bro?”

“Why’d you push me! I was warm!” The man says, frowning, not an eye bag insight.

“Because you were crushing me! You’re like 200 pounds Bo!” Tetsuro says sitting up and rubbing at his neck. “Why were you even sleeping on top of me? Why are we in the living room?”

“You don’t remember?” Bokuto asks, blinking owlishly at him.

“Yeah, Kuroo.” Tsukishima says, prancing into the room with two cups full of coffee and handing one to Bokuto, very pointedly keeping the other for himself. “Don’t you remember?”

Ok, so he said something dumb.

Or he did something dumb

Then Akaashi comes in, looking pale, but still oh so pretty, he hands Kuroo a coffee cup and goes to sit on the other side of the sofa.”Of course, he doesn’t you de him chug like half the vodka bottle.” He says looking pointedly at Bokuto. “If anything you’re at fault.”

“Hey, I didn’t try to steal Tsukishima!” Bokuto defends.

“What? Can someone please give me some context.” He asks, wincing as he stretches his neck so he can sip at the coffee. “My back hurts, why does my back hurt.”

“You threw me over your back like a sack of potatoes, of course, it hurts!” Tsukishima grumbles from where he’s curled up like a gremlin.

Akaashi, however, does take pity on him. “Come here, you’re probably cramping.” He says, and then continues as Tetsuro pads towards him gratefully. “After we realized twister was a really bad idea with Bokuto half-naked-“

“As I had already pointed out.” Tsukishima cuts in.

“One of you, and I’m not sure which.” He says, looking between Tetsuro and Bokuto, while his warm hands glide over Tetsuro’s back. “Decided to download this weird app with dares that were just ridiculous.” He pauses. “Take off your shirt.”

“But Akaashi-“ he whines, blushing despite himself.

“Just do it, we were all at least half-naked at some point last night.” Tsukishima groans.

So Tetsuro complies, wondering just where his memory went, -he's not a lightweight, dammit- and Akaashi continues. “Lie I was saying, ridiculous, but we were all drunk so we started doing them, Kou even went down to the reception in his boxers. And then there was a dare where Tsukishima had to let Kou give him a lap dance? I think? something like that and I don’t know what he said-“

“That I might just steal him away because he was cute and you two kissing is hot.” Bokuto clarifies.

Akaashi glares at him. Hands squeezing at Tetsuro’s back. “Yeah, that, so you got all jealous, threw Tsukishima over your shoulder, and tried to get to your room while revealing some things I am not going to repeat out of respect for him.”

“Thank you.” Tsukishima says from over the rim of his cup. 

“But then you tripped over the carpet and fell.” Akaashi continues. Though his hands feel like heaven on Tetsuro’s back he can’t help but feel a little bad for going crazy. “He was mad and said he was sleeping with me because I was the only one with decency, and you said you were sleeping with Kou then because only he understood you.”

Bokuto shrugs. “I'm not that sure what you meant, but I mean, you're a good pillow.” He says. “Besides, we all did weird stuff, Akaashi danced, Tsukki had to do handstands.”

Really, where did his memory go? Tetsuro would kill to remember, he knew taking shots with Bokuto every time someone fell on Twister was a bad idea

“Wait, so we all kissed?” Tetsuro asks, still processing.

“Uh, yeah,” Bokuto says. “That was like the least weird part of everything.”

"It seems to have become a habit." Akaashi points out.

“But- But.” Akaashi squeezes one big knot in his trapezium and he all but melts. He can deal with all of that later. “ Nevermind.”

Tsukishima stands long legs on display -when did he get into Akaashi’s shorts- and heads fr the hallways. “I’m taking your room, Kuroo. I need to sleep and I have a huge bruise on my hip that you're responsible for. ” He calls, and after a few seconds, Akaashi laughs behind him.

“He’s such a big baby.” He says. “I’ll be done in a sec, and I’d go there if I were you. He looks like he is going to sulk.”

Tetsuro hums, he doesn’t remember doing anything more than kissing with anyone last night, and if Tsukki’s annoyed at him… well, he does know the blond relatively well when it comes to his moods. And since no one’s making a big deal out of this, he decides he won’t either, at least for now.

It feels nice, Akaashi’s soft voice, Bokuto’s warm weight on him when he woke up, even Tsukishima’s reluctant remarks, this whole thing is like he has stepped int a parallel universe, one where he doesn't feel guilty or sad, and everything is right, even if he’s hungover as hell.

So when Akaashi’s done he stands up and heads to the room.

Itching to curl around Tsukishima and keep living this nice morning as long as he can, happy to.

Chapter Text

September is a much better time to jog than June, or at least Koutarou thinks so.

There’s a much smaller amount of insects and the air is fresh and crisp at night, so he doesn’t have to chug water in fear of overheating.

Tsukishima doesn’t think the same.

He’s been whining since last month that the nights are colder and glaring at Koutarou for running in muscle shirts while the blond is stuck with sleeves.

“It’s just not normal.” He grumbles while they jog down their usual route, picking at the frayed wrists of an old Karasuno jumper. “You have to at least feel it.”

“I feel it! It’s nice. Not my fault you have a metabolism that won’t keep you warm.” Koutarou shrugs as they reach an overpass, speeding up the little stairs. “Maybe if you didn’t eat like a bird.”

“Ok, first, I can’t believe you used that word correctly,” Tsukishima says, speeding up to keep up. “Second, I eat like a normal person, you are the one that eats like you’re at a contest.”

“D’ya think I could win one?” Koutarou says, looking back and winning. “I’d give you the prize if it’s a year’s supply of something.”

The blond grimaces. “Please don’t.”

“What would you prefer Tsukki? Frozen cheese fingers? Onigiri?” He laughs. “Man, you should see your face.”

“I’d answer that, only I’m slightly concerned that you’re starting to confuse me with Akaashi, I barely like Onigiri.” He catches up to Koutarou, smirking slightly. “Now that’s a scary thought.”

“Bah.” Koutarou cackles. “You’re just jealous because we spoil him more.”

“I’m not dignifying that with an answer.” The blond snaps and stares ahead. Over time, these runs have begun to take up more time -Tsukishima’s stamina really has grown- they have a nice, set route around Tsukishima’s campus, which they tailor to be longer or shorter, depending on the day. At the end of which they either head to the apartment or he leaves Tsukishima at his dorm.

Lately, Tsukishima actually holds conversations with him, instead of just shooting Koutarou a snarky comment from time to time. It’s nice.

It’s a lot more than nice, Koutarou appreciates the quiet addition to his day, even when Tsukishima is in one of his moods. Sometimes he forgets that Tsukishima is almost-sort-of-not-really dating Kuroo, sometimes he even doesn’t think about Akaashi at all when he’s with the blond.

Which is strange, but oh well.

They’re probably just being the way other close friends are.

Kuroo is kind of a special case, but Koutarou doesn’t want to think about that right now.

They reach the crossroads and he nods at Tsukishima.

The blond groans. “I have a paper due Friday.” He says, and so, they veer right, towards his dorm.

As they reach the familiar building, Koutarou turns to the other. “Can I use your bathroom?”

Tsukishima shrugs. “Sure.”

So they both go up the stairs to the third floor and Tsukishima opens the door into a bunch of yelling. “-told you it’s not working you, idiot, no matter what we do!!” someone screams inside. “And it’s making a weird noise, the wall looks strange too!! There are four people here, send someone now or we’re going to complain!!”

Wow.

It’s no surprise that it’s one of Tsukishima’s more hated roommates, called Naoto, who is yelling at some poor person from campus support on the phone.

“Uh.” He shoots Tsukishima a look, the blond shoots one back.

“He’s like that.” He says. “The bathroom is the door in front of my bedroom.” He says, walking past his roommate like he doesn’t see him.

“Hey, Tsukishima!” the man says, following them

Koutarou stalks over to the bathroom because he doesn’t care to know what this whole thing is about, it’s 10 pm and he had practice earlier, at this time he’s starting to crave his bed and Akaashi’s legs tangled up in his. He pushes the bathroom door open while Tsukishima walks into his room still being followed by the annoyed, red-faced roommate.

He flips the light switch and turns the faucet’s handle, hoping to splash some water on his face.

But nothing happens.

He turns it again, and still, nothing, Koutarou peers under the sink, the wall looks somewhat deformed, and there definitely seems to be running water available because it’s leaking from a crack in it. Koutarou inspects the place where it looks like the wall sprung a blister, it’s at about waist-height, and the plaster looks like it’s been lifted by something.

“Bokuto please don’t-“ But Tsukishima’s yell and his hand tugging at Koutarou’s bicep comes a little too late.

The plaster gives way like it’s wet paper, and Koutarou’s finger, initially only intended to feel it, sinks in, after which it all cracks and there’s a geyser of water that completely showers him and Tsukishima.

And it doesn't stop there, water pools under them on the bathroom floor while they both run out, soaking wet.

At least it’s clean water

.

.

The day Tsukishima finally moves in -officially, because unofficially he has been spending eighty percent of his free time at the apartment for like a month- Keiji is happily helping Kuroo make ramen -a rarity since Kuroo has been more and more occupied since he decided to change his courses and transfer into veterinary school- the apartment smells great and he’s ahead on all of his projects.

That’s when he hears a scuffle at the door.

“-can’t find the keys Tsukki, everything is sticking to me.” He would recognize Koutarou’s voice anywhere.

Keiji walks to the door, wondering just what happened to Bokuto’s keys this time and why Tsukishima is here at exactly ten forty-three at night on a day he said he had some paper to work on.

He opens the door and his eyes widen.

Surpassing all expectations, Bokuto and Tsukishima are standing there, one holding a suitcase and the other a box that’s all wet at the bottom.

They are both soaked, and he means to head to toe, hair dripping -and plastered all over his face in Bokuto’s case- soaked. 

“So uh.” Bokuto begins. “Tsukki’s apartment flooded and I said he could stay here?”

Keiji recognizes the question in Bokuto’s tone and he can’t help but chuckle, like he’d say no. “Of course, come in, Kou, change before you drip on the carpet.”

“’kaashi!” the other mock-complains.

“Or catch your death." Keiji shoots towards the retreating back. "How did your dorm even flood?” He says, turning to Tsukishima.

“Broken pipe.” The blond says frowning, looking crestfallen like some sort of soaked but cute critter on the side of the road. “Or burst, whatever. We didn’t even manage to get all of my things.”

“Hey, what’s going on!” Kuroo hollers from the kitchen. “I hear Tsukki, Do I serve another plate?”

“Burst pipe in his apartment.” Keiji yells back. “And yes, please, but in a minute, they’re both soaked.” He then turns to Tsukishima, who is looking at him with amusement in his eyes. Well, that probably did sound quite domestic. “It burst while you two were there?” He asks, grabbing the suitcase and dragging it to the spare room while Tsukishima follows.

“While Bokuto was in the bathroom.” Tsukishima mumbles. “I’m sorry for imposing, it might be a couple of weeks.”

Setting the box on the floor, Keiji turns to the blond, he reaches up to brush the hair that's falling on his face back against his scalp. “Hey, you practically live here already.” He says. “Now go take a shower, I’ll lay out the guest futon.”

Tsukishima, stunned expression and all, smiles and turns to the closet. “Ok, let me just-“ 

“No-“ Akaashi tries to warn him before the door opens, but he’s not fast enough and a bunch of volleyballs slide from where they are piled on the shelves. “I’ll find a place for them.” He sighs. “Just go.”

Tsukishima just stares at the blue and yellow balls, apparently having used all his energy for being surprised already .“I never actually believed you guys had a closet full of volleyballs.”

“Yeah, I didn’t want to either.” He says, quickly gathering a couple of them under his arms. “I trust you know where the towels are?” Keiji shoots the other a pointed look.

Tsukishima scoffs. “Yes mom.”

“I will tell your actual mother if you keep standing soaked in the middle of my clean floor.” Keiji jokes, happy to see the other a bit more lively. "I still have her number."

Tsukishima gathers some clothes from his bag and is off to the bathroom, leaving Keiji with his thoughts.

He sighs, he knew it was only a question of time but somehow Keiji didn’t expect for it to happen so soon. Not that some part of him isn’t thrilled to have the blond here, but he knows it’s not that easy. This all might go very well, it might also completely explode in their faces.

But there’s nothing to do about it now.

.

.

 

Is it possible to be completely uncomfortable and comfortable at the same time?

For Kei, at least, it is.

On the morning after his birthday he fins himself sandwiched between Bokuto and Kuroo, in the bed in the master bedroom. he distinctly remembers Akaashi being between him an Bokuto when they went to sleep but he must've used that dirty little trick of his to escape Bokuto's grasp. So as it is, Kei is stuck, curled up in Bokuto's arms while Kuroo hugs him from behind.

At least this time around he doesn't have an hangover.

But he is in a very tight spot.

Kei wiggles, but it's no use, all he gets is a sleepy mumble. "Y'r pretty Tsukki." From Bokuto, and for Kuroo's arms to tighten around his middle.

He is kind of exasperated, he has stuff to do, even if he's just a first year. But then, he looks up at Bokuto, who really doesn't have the right to be a pretty sleeper but is one anyways. His dark lashes fall in stark contrast to the sunkissed face under it, his nose is a strong thing with a little hump at the middle that really gives it character and his mouth-

His mouth is something Kei really shouldn't be admiring, no matter how plump those slightly chapped lips are.

Even if Kei has kissed is a few times already.

Even if he stares at it sometimes when they got running and Bokuto wraps his lips around a bottle or gets some ice cream smeared over them.

No, this isn't right at all.

But he can't deny it's there, and maybe it's not so shocking because at the end of the day, he already had feelings for two people, three isn't a stretch, no these three.

Though it is quite a sad, annoying thing, because there is no good end to this. He either swallows his feelings or speaks up and gets looked at like some sort of crazy person. And if he were to do that he'd hurt them. And if he hurts them then he doesn't deserve them in the first place.

And- oh it's too early for that. He always spirals when he goes down that line of thought, it's better to just let life take it's course, he can be happy with what he has.

So he curls up tighter into the warmth of Bokuto's arms, and goes back to sleep, dreading the moment this balance ruptures, hoping it's not his fault when it does.

.

.

He’s woken up by the sound of soft footsteps heading past the door of his room. Whoever is sneaking around in the middle of the night is trying to not wake anyone up, and they’re doing a good job of it, as far as he can see.

But unluckily for them, Kei is a light sleeper at the best of times, and tonight is not it because he’s not used to sleeping in a futon.

And in the week that has passed, he’s made no progress at that.

Kei turns around, angrily furrowing his head in the pillow and pulling the covers closer.

And he does it again and again until he’s frustrated and all too warm. 

There’s faint, blue light coming from under his door too.

Ugh.

His phone marks four forty-three am, what the hell is Kuroo -because neither Akaashi nor Bokuto would wake up at this hour on a Sunday- doing awake?

Well, Kei’s not getting back to sleep, he might as well get some of his assignments done. He gets up, gathers his laptop and notes and pads quietly over to the living room, where Kuroo is indeed, crouched in an amazingly awkward position on the couch while typing away at his computer.

“Why don’t you sit at the table? You can’t keep complaining that your back hurts if you sit like that.” Kei says, making Kuroo jump.

“Tsukki, Hey!” the man looks up, eyes shadowed. “You almost gave me a heart attack, what are you doing awake?”

“Can’t get used to the futon.” Kei grumbles. “Why are you? Cramming in October?” he asks using what little light comes from Kuroo’s laptop to set his own down on the dining table-like a decent human being- and turn it on.

“Your bed isn’t coming until next week, is it?” the man asks over the computer. “You know there's always mine.” He says, with what looks like a wink but with the distorted shadows across the other’s face Kei can’t be too sure, now he’s glad for the darkness though, because his cheeks are burning. How does Kuroo say things like that so calmly? “I’m just seeing what courses I definitely need to complete this year, setting up extra credit… you know, all that stuff.”

Kei rolls his eyes. “Right, only you wouldn’t let me sleep either.” He says. “I can’t believe you’re switching, you do know it’s going to add like two years to college, don’t you? We're going to end up graduating at the same time.”

It's the first time Kei thinks of it that way, until about a month ago this all seemed like one of those things you talk about but don't really intend to do, but then Kuroo asked him to come to the admissions office with him one day and switched majors right in front of Kei's eyes. And now he's going to be around campus for two more years... it seems like an awfully long time, Kei has a hard time imagining things that far ahead.

Especially when it comes to Kuroo.

“I always let you sleep.” Kuroo counters. “I just tire you out first, which you should be thankful for mister.” And then he looks down at the laptop again, a little forlorn. “I know, but I mean, it’s just two years, I’m still young.”

“Oh cut it out.” Kei mumbles. “And sure, if that’s what you think.” He pauses and the whispers. “Grey hairs.”

“Tsukki!!” Kuroo shoots back. “You know I don’t have grey hairs!”

“I’ve shown them to you.” Kei smirks while opening the unfinished document of one of his papers. “Hmm, maybe you’re losing your memory too.”

“That wasn’t my hair, it was yours.” Kuroo interjects. “Hey, do you think I could balance both advanced biochem and advanced digestive tract physiology for next semester?”

“My hair is curly,” Kei says drily. “And how should I know? I’m a first-year in the history program, I barely know where not to eat on campus.”

Kuroo groans, still staring at the screen. “Oh, just come here, I need help and you’re good at scheduling.”

“I have my own work-“ he pauses, only because Kuroo looks really annoyed at the computer, he's frowning just slightly, and it’s kind of cute. “Ok fine, but you’re going to have to admit that you have grey hairs eventually.”

So Kei sits on the sofa and scoots up to Kuroo, trying not to press against the man’s warm body while he frowns at the computer screen. “This- How are you planning to do this?” Kuroo seems to be trying to drive himself to an early grave from exhaustion “Are you quitting the team?” Kei asks, a bit alarmed, it is the only way he sees the other pulling this amount of classes off.

“Tsukki no!” Kuroo gasps, like he can’t believe Kei would say that. “I mean I could leave a couple for next year.”

Kei looks at him for a second, at the shadows under the other’s eyes and his downturned mouth. “If you want to stay in the team you have to.” He says, as gently as he can. “Either that or stop sleeping more than four days per week.”

Kuroo chuckles softly, shoulders shaking in the dim blue light and Kei’s heart does a flip. “Who needs to sleep?” He says, but his tone is light and Kei laughs too.

Somehow, making a tentative schedule for Kuroo turns into watching dumb videos of people falling, then cats falling, then this one reality show that Kei doesn’t understand, outside the sky is clearer every time he looks up, but he doesn't feel like moving anyways. His laptop lies forgotten on the dining table

At exactly six am they are startled by the kitchen light turning on. Kuroo almost drops his laptop. “Tsukki, did you hear anything?” Kuroo whispers, clutching his arm.

Kei rolls his eyes. “No?”

The older man gasps dramatically, pulling Kei close, so much that he’s almost sitting on Kuroo’s lap now. “What if it’s a ghost?”

“It’s probably Akaashi wearing socks.” Kei reasons, just as said man’s head peeks out from the kitchen, making Kuroo jump.

“Do you two want coffee?” He asks, and then after the resulting nods. “Why are you even awake?”

“Well-“ Kuroo starts, but Kei interrupts him.

“He woke me up with his elephant footsteps at four am.” He whines. “And then he didn’t even let me study in peace.”

Akaashi smiles. “That was rude Kuroo.”

“He’s the one that wouldn’t let me get in all the classes I wanted!” Kuroo exclaims, and Kei can’t help but notice how one of his hands is still around his waist. 

After all this time he should be used to it, right? They’ve been in this friends-with-benefits thing for like three months already. But Kei can’t help but feel strange when Kuroo touches him like this, casual but still like he’s asserting some sort of belonging. 

Because Kei doesn’t belong to him, they’re not together, and Kuroo can touch him however during sex, even right after on account of the endorphins and all that, but not when it’s like this not when they're supposed to be acting like friends. 

Akaashi appears, balancing three cups of coffee in his hands somehow, he hands each of them on. “Careful, it’s hot.” And proceeds to sit beside Kei, apparently not minding that he’s sandwiching him between his body and Kuroo’s. The literature student is warm, no doubt from just getting out of Bokuto’s grip on the bed. “What are you two watching?”

“Some gameshow.” Kei grumbles, cradling his coffee in chilled hands. 

Akaashi grimaces, and Kuroo laughs, reaching over Kei to pat his cheek. “We can watch that movie you were going on about.”

Kei is about to protest, hell, he almost does, until he sees Akaashi perk up, eyes bright. He rolls his eyes. “It’s a Sunday after all.” He sighs, sometimes he wonders if he's ever going to get over Akaashi. The man is taken, and by this point it has gone way past funny or sad, it’s pathetic and it doesn’t make sense because he’s in love with Kuroo, so how-

While Kei has probably the quietest meltdown in the history of meltdowns, Kuroo gets up to plug the computer to the TV -bending over it in a way that should not be legal because he’s wearing Bokuto's sweatpants and those things lie low on his hips- and Akaashi gets their couch blanket from under the cushions, draping it over Kei and himself. It's an old, grey, fluffy thing that somehow hasn’t gotten all clumpy, and they all love it. 

Kuroo comes back, snuggling -there’s no other way to say it- up to Kei and the movie starts.

It is so much worse than Kei expected, it’s not like he doesn’t like musicals, he’s actually got quite a few broadway renditions of them in his usual playlists. But this is predictable, almost from the start, and though he hates to admit it, it hits too close to home in some aspects.

Sill, Akaashi’s head is leaning on his shoulder, and Kuroo is al but nuzzling his neck. Kei feels trapped, but where’s he going to run? Especially when Kuroo’s eyes start getting misty when the couple on-screen starts fighting.

He can’t leave without a reason now, he can’t stand to still be here.

That’s when his salvation arrives, and he will never admit it to Bokuto, but Kei is so thankful to hear his heavy footsteps coming down the hall that he almost runs over to him. 

The Owl stands at the mouth of the hall, one hand rubbing softly at his left eye. He’s wearing boxers and a sleeveless shirt.

To Kei right now, he’s perfect.

“Uh, why are you guys up so early? You never get up this early to run with me Tsukki.” He complains and it's perfect, just what Kei needs.

“Rude of you to say when I did just that today.” He answers quickly, faking a frown. "I was starting to think you were going to sleep in, Bokuto."

Bokuto looks confused for a second then he grins, wide. “Sorry, I forgot.” He says, and wanders off to the kitchen to make their usual protein shakes. Kei turns to shoot an apologetic glance at Kuroo, quickly getting up and leaving him and Akaashi to lean on each other. “You’re having the vanilla Tsukki, we’re out of strawberry.” He yells.

“It’s fine.” Kei yells back.

“You movie-bailer.” Kuroo grumbles, cocooning himself in the blanket. 

Akaashi looks amused, and a little sad, but Kei finally feels like he can breathe.

He changes quickly into sweatpants and a long sleeved top -and he’s sure the sweatpants are Kuroo’s but whatever- and goes to meet Bokuto in the kitchen.

Bokuto is safe, Bokuto he can handle.

They are out of the house in less than twenty minutes.

.

.

Tricking Tsukishima into tights and a leotard has to have been one of Akaashi’s best ideas, if Tetsuro has to see the blond glaring at Akaashi for all of November then so be it.

Because it’s fantastic.

He himself is in a Viking costume that Bokuto picked out, for both of them, since the two others were already planning their costumes and refused to even give them a clue.

But really, he doesn’t hold a candle.

As they all stumble into the apartment, drunk enough to be giddy and uninhibited, he can't help but admire the long, shapely legs walking right in front of him. His room is at the same time too close and too far.

Behind them, there's a thud, and Tetsuro doesn't have to look back but he does. Just for the very nice sight that he knows is Bokuto pinning Akaashi to a wall, hoisting him up by his thighs like he weighs nothing and kissing him silly.

“Forgot about little me already?” a honeyed voice drawls in his ear, drunk Tsukishima is so much more forward than usual that it often startles Tetsuro. The blond’s hands snake under the edge of his costume -a dress-like thing with slits up the sides and a belt- his nails carve paths of fire up Tetsuro’s naked tighs, right up to the place where his boxers begin. “You know this really isn’t historically accurate, but I see the charm.” The blond's hot breath brushes against his cheek and then Tsukishima’s hands are cupping him through his boxers.

“I could say the same for yours,” Tetsuro says, reaching behind blindly to cup at Tsukishima’s ass and squeeze teasingly at it. “I don’t think those tights are going to survive the night, just so you know.”

“Really.” Tsukishima’s ass wiggles in his hand and his tongue licks at the shell of Tetsuro’s ear. “What if I told you that the leotard opens at the bottom.”

It’s enough, it’s too much.

Tetsuro turns around capturing the blond's mouth in a searing kiss. ”You’re a brat, huh?” he asks between kisses, leaning down to nip at the other’s throat. “Cant stand me looking away from you.”

“No.” Tsukishima pouts, slowly walking Tetsuro back towards the sofa, apparently unable to keep waiting. “Though it’s a nice view”

“Oh, ho.” Tetsuro laughs. “Well, they don’t mind being watched. Remember back in Bo’s birthday.” And it's true, apparently Bokuto likes to be watched, and Akaashi is mostly indifferent to it. Today he definitely is.

The back of Tetsuro's knees hits the edge of the sofa, and he lets himself fall on it, Tsukishima follows, only at the last moment Tetsuro grabs his hips and turns him around before pulling him down to sit in his lap, where Tetsuro's costume is already pooling at his waist. 

“Hey!” Tsukishima snaps, only to be cut off with a moan as Tetsuro deftly unhooks his leotard, hand immediately slipping under it to grab at the other’s hardness.

“Watch, baby.” He purrs in the other’s ear. “I’m looking at you, I promise.”

The blond shivers, grinding down on Tetsuro’s lap, eyes stuck to the erotic picture presented to them.

Akaashi’s head is thrown back, his mouth open angelically. The man’s tights are already ripped to shreds and he’s rubbing against Bokuto’s leg while the other-wild eyed, with his hair getting messier by the second and somehow already out of his costume- fumbles to unhook the leotard. 

It was a spur of the moment choice, but Tsukishima rewards him with the most beautiful moans while Tetsuro figures out the way to pull down those tights. “Kuroo!” he whines, just as Tetsuro manages to grab hold of the waistband and tugs. 

“Patience baby.” He says, grinning while shimmying out of his own underwear. “Be a dear and get me the lube, will you?”

They aren’t being quiet at all, but the other two don't even turn to look. Tsukishima reaches over to the usual couch cushion and retrieves the bottle. 

He turns to fix Tetsuro with a lustful stare. “Hurry up.”

How could he ever not comply?

.

.

Keiji’s about to have sex with his boyfriend in front of their two best friends and roommates.

And he really doesn’t care.

He’s had a butt-plug inside him since just before they left the bar and he is so ready to get fucked that he wouldn’t ask Bokuto to stop if the president was in the room. 

Besides Tsukishima likes to watch.

-and he did come up with the plug idea, the last time they all got drunk together-

Besides, it’s a nice view, Tsukishima all spread on the couch, getting fingered like Kuroo wants to make him come just on that.

Keiji looks back at where Koutarou is still fumbling with the leotard, fuck, he looks so good. Eyes shining like pennies, that serious looks that lets him know that he is going to be limping tomorrow. Keiji buries one of his hands in the other’s disheveled hair and pulls him in for a frantic kiss, while his other hand unhooks the damned leotard once and for all.

The thighs are ruined anyway, so when Bokuto’s strong hand finishes ripping them from his body Keiji can only feel relief.

And his underwear doesn’t last much more either.

His legs wrap around Bokuto’s thick waist, his hands around the man's neck, he looks into those eyes and smiles the little, crooked smile he knows makes Bokuto go crazy. “I have a surprise for you,” He says, looking deep into the owl’s eyes foreheads pressed together. “Touch me, Kou, I won't fall.”

One of Bokuto’s hands lets go of his thigh, Keiji tightens his grip on the other, even as he’s securely pushed int the wall, one of Bokuto’s arms can hold him just fine after all. Then those rough hands, those thick fingers slide over the soft skin of his behind, leaving gooseflesh in their wake, they travel down Keiji’s crack until they collide with the smooth glass.

In the dim light, he can still see Koutarou’s pupils swallow his bronze irises. 

Keiji shivers and he says it, rough and dirty. “Make love to me Kou. I’m ready.”

.

.

Technically, Koutarou and Akaashi’s anniversary falls on Kuroo’s birthday.

But c’mon, they aren’t bad friends and besides, his birthday happens to fall on a Thursday where everyone but Koutarou has exams. So he and Akaashi made a deal Kuroo’s birthday on Friday and anniversary stuff on Saturday. It’s just two days after all.

So now it’s the afternoon and he’s running into a campus he doesn’t know that well with an ice cream cake in his hands -when he really shouldn’t be carrying any cakes anywhere- because Akaashi is helping Tsukishima with whatever it is the blond has prepared for Kuroo’s birthday.

-Koutarou knows it’s something to do with clothes, and they’ve been so secretive about it that he’s just assuming it’s something sexual. It’s not like either of those two would actually tell him-

It’s almost dusk and the light is dimming around him while he looks for the very specific science building that Kuroo has class in today.

Which isn’t fun, but he finds it. 

He pulls out his phone and dials Akaashi. “Kou, did you get there?” We’re at the campus entrance.”

“Yeah, but I don’t see- Oh Bro!” He yells, waving the hand holding the phone for all the quad to see.

Koutarou runs towards his friend’s distinctive hair, until he gets close enough to notice that he’s standing there with his arm around some guy, pulling him in by the waist in an embrace that’s intimate if nothing else, looking nonchalant and happy.

Kuroo throws his head back and laughs, and Koutarou stops running.

He tries to be logical, he does, but a wave of pure rage rises inside him, so powerful that he doesn’t know what to do with it.

For a second, he fumbles and almost drops the cake, but then he sees, very distinct, coming from the other direction are Tsukishima and Akaashi. They’re still fairly far, he doubts they’ve noticed the bizarre scene. Koutarou starts walking again, fast and purposeful, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do once he reaches the other but he has to reach him soon.

When Koutarou is about five meters from then the shorter guy stands on his tiptoes and presses a kiss to the other's cheek.

And Koutarou’s legs are long, he’s there, roughly tapping on the guy’s shoulder, the first syllable is out of his mouth before the man has even fully turned around. “You-“ Bright green eyes meet his, in a pale face that, apart from having a very similar hairstyle on top, has nothing to do with Kuroo’s. " Y- I-I’m so sorry.” He stammers. I thought you were my friend. 

“Kou, Kuroo.” Someone says, coming up behind him. “Oh, sorry, you’re not Kuroo.” Akaashi says, eyes on Koutarou’s pale face. 

“No, I guess not.” The stranger answers, turning back to his boyfriend. "Friend, huh, scary."

Tsukishima speaks then. “He says he’s inside in library A.” the blond says, looking down at his phone.

They head off that way, Koutarou is silent for once, his hands feel cold.

He just almost punched some random guy for looking like Kuroo kissing someone else. Moreover, he almost did it knowing full well that Tsukishima and Kuroo aren’t exclusive, in their words at least. And to top it all off, he has never, never felt rage like that when he sees them kiss.

Hell, there was that incident on Halloween when he and Akaashi full-on had sex in front of them and vice-versa.

What the hell?

“Uh, Bro, you ok?” now that is Kuroo’s voice, at some point while he was spaced out they must’ve made it to the library, because Kuroo is here and everyone is staring at Koutarou like he’s grown an extra head. 

Koutarou looks up. Those sharp, reddish-brown eyes are worried and honest.

And he’s not kissing some snooty faced kid.

“Happy birthday Bro!” he exclaims surging up to wrap his arms around Kuroo’s neck, Akaashi barely saves the cake from splattering all over the ground. “Happy late birthday, I mean.” he murmurs against the shoulder of Kuroo’s hoodie, even though he already said it yesterday when it was actually the other’s birthday.

“Uh. Thanks, Bo.” Kuroo says, warmly hugging back, and Koutarou really doesn’t want to let go, but it’s getting too long anyway so he does. “I didn’t think you three would drop by so early, sorry.”

“The ice cream cake place only does pickups until six.” Akaashi explains.

“And Kozume wouldn’t let us in the apartment, whatever your old team is preparing is big.” He drawls.

Akaashi shoots him a look. “You told him?”

“He always knows. “ Tsukishima shrugs. “He knew last year too.”

Kuroo laughs booming and deep and Koutarou suddenly needs a hard swallow to be able to breathe. “Tora can’t keep a secret to save his life.” He says, simply. “My, how well you know me Tsukki.”

And Tsukishima answers, glint in his golden eyes and oh so pretty. “I guess you’ve grown on me.”

.

.

Kei never got to win Nationals in high school and not for a lack of trying.

So, winning, even though he just barely made starter, even though he’s not sure he deserved it, is exhilarating.

It’s just his first year, and Kei’s so high right now, he fears the crash.

Or not.

Kei doesn’t fear anything right now, the moment his eyes and Kuroo’s met after they did the usual handshake with the other team, he stopped fearing and started wanting.

It’s a funny thing, because there are so many things that Kei escapes from, so many he doesn’t want to face, so many that scare him though he’d never admit it, to anyone, even to himself. And the best way to hide, the most powerful sedative, is to melt in Kuroo’s arms.

Even if a lot of things about Kuroo are part of the plethora of things -and situations, and feelings that he’s relentlessly escaping from.

But it takes not a second, just for Kuroo to slam him against the shower stall and his mind goes blank. The place is empty, they waited purposefully for their teammates to finish up first, only for this, this addictive, dizzying, completely unforgettable thing.

Kei doesn’t like water this hot, but the stream that reddens his skin gives Kuroo’s this mesmerizing red tint, and he’d brave it forever just to see that, to bite at the redder patches on Kuroo’s chest as he sinks to his knees and the other’s fingers tangle in his hair

He takes the man into his mouth, deep, so deep, Kei’s not playing around, he wants all of Kuroo, he wants him, he wants him. After all this time he knows how to, he plays the man like a fiddle, he makes him call. “Kei, Kei, Kei!” over and over again, voice reverberating on the tiled walls, and for a second he doesn’t care, Kuroo is his and damn anyone who-

But Kuroo is not his, even as he thrusts in Kei’s mouth and his eyes water, even as he calls for god, for Kei in the same breath. Even as he stiffens, eyes falling closed, mouth open in an expression that Kei can never grow tired of. 

Kuroo’s not his because Kei can’t love him right, because Kei can’t make him actually happy, because Kei has this split heart and split mind and- Oh, god, he’s lifted to his feet, with remarkable care reserved for lovers or priceless pieces of art and Kei is neither.  “Is something wrong moonshine? Did I hurt you?” And then those eyes, that mouth twists in worry, he doesn’t deserve it, not at all, but he leans into Kuroo’s palms, Kuroo’s warmth that’s not Kei’s to take.

He wraps one leg around those toned hips, pulls them closer, greedy, lost, running from it all. “Just dazed Tetsu. C’mon, c’mon.” And it’s a prayer, a plea, because his heart is going to burst otherwise, because it’s not big enough for Kuroo, for Kuroo and for-

No. That’s conscripted, that’s not right.

Only Kuroo’s voice breaks through the haze, the guilt that overtakes him, only it, dark and deep and possessive somehow though Kei knows, not really. “Shh, calm down.” And he’s stroking Kei’s lips, his cheeks, his forehead while those long, shapely fingers on those beautiful tanned hands turn his legs into gelatin, prod inside him until Kei’s undone. This is what he needs, this. “If it gets you like this, we’re going to have to win next year too baby.”

What’s like this? Overwhelmed by a fugue of thoughts? Completely and utterly terrified of so many things inside himself that he can’t even think of them? Irrevocably in love? Needy and aroused beyond belief? Kei doesn’t think to ask, Kei doesn’t want to ask. He barely manages to glare. “Of course, you’re ah- so composed yourself.”

And then Kuroo laughs and that laugh rumbles out of his chest and into Kei’s jostling his heart out of rhythm. “Can’t let you fall moonshine.” He says, hands rubbing, soothing at his sides, up down, up down as Kei stretches and stretches around him, nails digging deep on Kuroo’s back, teeth marking at his collarbone.

Moonshine, moonshine, Kei. The stream of words that falls out of Kuroo’s mouth, and into Kei’s abandon made sound, calling for him in any way, any form. And Kei answer. Kuroo. Tetsu. Please.

He swallows it all, the picture of greed, of lust and abandon, head falling back and smacking against the side of the stall though he barely even feels it. And then his leg is on Kuroo’s shoulder and he’s not sure how he isn't on the ground. Kei shakes, all of him, as he’s entered again, again, vision bursting into stars and fireworks, voice soaring, tumbling back at them from the walls distorted, but always carrying the same message. 

And Kuroo meets him, just as high and rougher, he fucks Kei through it and then past asking, pleading too. “Just a bit more baby. You’re good, so good.” And Kei feels like it, Kei is soaring and somehow still inexorably tied to his own body, bolts of lightning splitting his spine in two each time, each time and then he’s being pulled closer, he body around him tenses, shudders. Kuroo makes the most beautiful sounds, he calls for Kei, he- “I love you.”

It takes so long to register, so long, or maybe Kei doesn’t want it to, maybe it’s broken his heart another time, and this time it's irreparable. He stands there, Kuroo panting in his arms for what feels like millennia, like seconds.

“I’m sorry, I got caught up.“ Kuroo croaks , head stretching up into the shower steam. “I’m sorry it’s not- I don’t.“

“It’s fine.” Kei wants to slide down the wall, to sit on the floor, to turn back time and stay in Sendai, safe Sendai, familiar and faraway and completely removed from this cesspool of uncertain feelings that are turning him crazy. “It’s fine Kuroo, don’t worry. I understand, it was the moment.” The words tear at his throat, catch at his tongue, they pour out like molasses.

He waits for Kuroo to say something, but he only steps aside on the shower and Kei hurries to get clean, suddenly the air is thin and the walls are caving in.

And he really, really, shouldn’t be here.

Chapter Text

Kei has never had to sneak around this much. His parents are pretty liberal, Akiteru only wants to know he’s safe, he has never even snuck out through a window back at home.

Now he finds himself checking around corners and listening for footsteps all the time. He feels like he can’t breathe when he hears the footsteps stop outside his room, as they often do. But no one ever knocks, and eventually he learns to pretend they aren’t there.

He just- he can’t stand this, he feels ashamed and confused and like a piece of shit.

Fuck, he’s in love with three people.

It’s not right, it’s not right.

After more than two weeks, he still can’t look Kuroo in the eye, not after how hurt and sad Kei made him after the championship.

God, he doesn’t deserve him, no, not at all. He doesn’t deserve that smile, he doesn’t deserve those eyes or his arms around him in the morning.

It’s just a fact.

Kei does not belong here.

And if things go on like this, all three of them are going to end up hating him, no matter what he chooses to do.

He’s spent all this time packing up his few possessions-luckily the dorm was furnished from the start and what little time he’s spent in his room hasn’t required more than a futon- and sending them through the mail, now he just has to hold on until Winter break, just one more week. By this time next Saturday, he’ll be on a train back to Miyagi and then he’ll figure out what to do.

In the meanwhile, he needs to get out of this apartment.

He texts Miura, it’s always easy with Miura.

.

.

Whatever it was that happened, it was bad.

Winter break starts in a week and Tsukishima and Kuroo are still acting like the other killed their pet bunny or something.

Koutarou wishes he were exaggerating, but he isn’t, to be fair, at first it was just Tsukishima, who mysteriously disappeared to some party the night their university team won nationals, and didn't turn out until Sunday afternoon. By then all of their collective social circles and Tsukishima’s family were frantic to know where he was.

He arrived, disheveled, in pants that were not his and with a bright purple hickey on his neck -though Kuroo did say he might have been the one to make it-, and then proceeded to shut himself up in his room until everyone went to sleep and slipped out to campus in the wee hours of the morning before anyone woke up.

And through all of that Kuroo was this frantic, manic mess that radiated guilt and annoyance and-

Yeah, no wonder it all exploded in Tsukishima’s face on the one time he left his room without checking for anyone in the hallway.

Koutarou has never, in his life, heard such a screaming match.

So now, two and a half weeks later they still won't talk to each other. Kuroo won’t tell him what he did and Koutarou doesn’t know who to be mad at for hurting the other, so he chooses to be annoyed at  both of them.

He wakes up at five am, on Sunday morning, leaving the warmth of his bed -Akaashi’s gone to his house, his mom’s in town- to go and make two protein shakes.

At exactly half-past five he hears the alarm and the stirring, a couple of minutes later Tsukishima is out of the room, bleary-eyed, with dark circles all but painted under his eyes and his hair standing in every direction.

Koutarou stares at him sternly from the kitchen door.

Tsukishima takes a step back, then another, the little coward, and Koutarou follows.

“We’re going for a run Tsukki.” He says, swiftly blocking the blond from the entrance to his room. “It’s been two weeks.”

Tsukishima looks down, eyes tired and hidden under the shield of a frown, and they stay like that for a second, like Koutarou is going to back down with a grimace and an apology the way Kuroo does.

Ha! Not a chance.

Finally, the blond sighs. “Am I at least allowed to get changed?” He asks, and Koutarou blows out his cheeks.

“You have ten minutes, I have our shakes.” He says, surprised at how stern and irritated he sounds.

Akaashi did tell him not to meddle for the time being but… yeah, no way he can keep seeing this, knowing these two they are going to keep adding hurtful things onto hurtful things until this pressure cooker of an apartment explodes and damns them all to hell.

Defeated, the blond obeys, he changes ant they are soon outside, in the frigid winter air sipping at their shakes. Koutarou figures it might be a good time to talk while they finish. For all his thorns Tsukishima is usually decently receptive. “Tsukki-“

“No.” he snaps.

“I did not get up at five in the morning for you to throw a tantrum and shut me out.” Koutarou snaps back.

“Can you at least wait until we finish running?” Tsukishima says. And then, apparently surprising even himself from the way his eyes wide. “Please.”

It stops Koutarou in his tracks. That bad, huh? “Fine.” He says, “But I have extra practice at nine.”

Tsukishima heaves a relieved sigh. “Plenty of time.” He shivers, arms hugging his slender frame. “You did drag me out at six am in the middle of winter.”

Koutarou hesitates for a second, then he slips off his hoodie -he’s not cold, really and he’s going to work out, it's going to be annoying to wear in five minutes-, revealing a warm, long-sleeved workout shirt under it, and hands it over to the blond. ”Can’t complain if it’s like this, right?” he says.

And Tsukishima really must be cold because he slips it on without so much as a snarky comment.

Then they start running. 

And Koutarou has never seen Tsukishima set a pace like this one, the furrow of his brow is determined, he stares straight ahead, and doesn't waver. Koutarou would admire his determination of taking the longest route when he's clearly freezing if he were not so worried.

They're almost at their usual crossroads before Tsukishima's body finally catches up to him, he stops, almost suddenly, gasping, his breath coming out in white puffs, for a second Koutarou is scared he's going to puke.

Koutarou stops immediately he rushes over, clearing the meter and a half that separates them in one stride. "Hey, are you ok?" he asks. "C'mon, there has to be a bench somewhere." He looks around, frantically, and spots a clearing up ahead, they've run past it often but Koutarou never paid attention to it before.

"I'm fine." Tsukishima coughs, trying to catch his breath.

"No sir!" Koutarou shoots back, leading the blond to the stone bench. "You promised me a talk too, Stingy."

Tsukishima doesn't resist, he's still gasping and shivering and when Koutarou feels his forehead as they sit down, it's burning. They did just run, he really hopes it's just that.

All Koutarou knows to do is rub the blond's back and wait for his breathing to normalize. He hangs his head back, staring at the overcast sky. It hasn't snowed yet this winter but it doesn't seem to be very far off. "Are you good now? Tsukki?"

Tsukishima sighs, leaning on his knees burying his face in his hands.

Koutarou isn't so sure how to interpret that. "I'm worried about you."

"You just want me and Kuroo to start talking again." the blond says, muffled and soft.

Koutarou is rendered speechless for a second, because that's how it is. But also it's not how it is at all. "Yes- I mean- No- I'm worried about both of you, ok? Even if you're going to be stubborn and not believe me." he looks down, lower lip jutting out. "We had this happy thing going on in the apartment. I mean what could be so bad? I mean with everything that has happened between you two."

"It's precisely because-" Tsukishima grumbles, shivering despite the layers. "You're not going to get it Bokuto, but that really doesn't help."

"Oh, please, just tell me!" Koutarou exclaims, leaning in. "Please? Kuroo won't talk about it and I- I'm scared we're going to lose either of you." He takes a deep breath, eyes burning despite himself. "Or both."

And really, that's something he couldn't take. Koutarou doesn't understand what this is, as of now. And he hasn’t had time to, not with everything, all he knows is that for a minute there, all of them were relatively happy, and now they are not.

Tsukishima finally lifts his head, in the daylight, now that Koutarou has a chance to take a closer look, his eyes are swollen, blood vessels red and agglomerating. “I think you are.” He says simply.

And It sends Koutarou into overdrive. “What the hell do you mean? Can you please stop being cryptic? I’ve had it with all of you acting so constipated, especially you!”

Tsukishima looks down again. “Bokuto, just leave me be.” He snaps. “I don’t know what to tell you and this isn’t any of your business.”

“It is!” he snaps back, hands grabbing at Tsukishima’s shoulders. “I live with you two, I’ve known Kuroo for six years I l-“ No, not that, that’s not going to help anything. “I care about you!”

A furious glare is thrown his way. “You can’t do anything about this ok?” Tsukishima all but barks, trying to wiggle out of his hold. “You can’t, accept it already! It’s done, it’s fucked up! Even you should be smart enough to understand that!”

It stings, but by this point, Koutarou knows it’s just a defense mechanism, Tsukishima is just trying to keep him at bay, He grips harder, it must be getting painful, but the blond doesn’t seem to feel it, his rage-flushed face stares straight at his defiantly. “Then at least let me be there for you, Tsukki. You’re important to me. You and Kuroo both.”

Those golden eyes turn exasperated, he looks at Koutarou the way people look at stubborn children that just won’t listen but there's a fondness to is that won't let him look away. 

There’s a pause, a beat of breath that encompasses half the world and Tsukishima looks so hurt, and Koutarou doesn’t know what to do doesn’t know what he feels, he just-

He’s kissing Tsukishima, unsure of who moved first, of if he’s kissing back or just kissing.

Of if he’s just cheated on Akaashi.

The surprise must slacken his grip, because a second later he’s being pushed back violently and by the time he’s managed to catch himself, all he sees of the blond is his back, quickly running away from him.

Not that he would follow, not that he could, or should, what the hell did he just do? He sits there until his phone rings, one of his teammates asking if he could pick him up since he’s running late for practice.

“No sorry, can’t go today, my- umm sister’s sick, please tell coach.” How long has it been? Fifteen minutes? All Koutarou knows is that he has to hurry, that he has to make sense of things.

He has to fix this.

He has to.

 .

.

Tetsuro peeks out of his room, he heard Tsukishima and Bokuto leave in the early morning, but one can never be too sure.

It’s a shame Akaashi isn't here, these days, the other’s quiet company is the only one Tetsuro can deal with.

 Because Bokuto keeps needling him, trying to get to the bottom of it like they can all go back to being a bunch of happy friends, Tetsuro knows he means well, but it does not work like that. His stupid neurotransmitters have decided that he’s supposed to love three people and now that one of them has made his distaste apparent -without even knowing about the other two- he’s being punished.

Because he’d gotten used to Tsukishima, he craves him, dreams of the other and, fuck, he’s been rejected how many times? 

And he wants to spill anything, he wants to tell Bokuto and Akaashi, to be comforted. 

But that would be unfair.

It would be adding insult to injury, and Tsukishima is not at fault, it’s Tetsuro who is pushing all this on him. On them. 

And the worst is that he can’t stop being irritated, feeling like he was played with even though he knows he wasn’t, Tetsuro is just angry and he feels so alone in it.

He gets a cup of dark coffee from the machine and lets himself fall on the couch, groaning, bringing his phone up to his face, scrolling through Instagram like that’s going to fix something.

He should be studying, studying would at least bring something good, would make him better, more worthwhile. And he’s about to get up to go to his desk and do just that.

But then the picture catches his eye. 

MiuraATart:  A night to remember.

The caption is simple, it’s dated on Friday night, and it shows Tsukishima, clearly drinking, leaning suggestively on the other blond’s side, smiling, smiling. The blond doesn’t have an Instagram, there’s no way he has seen this.

Because he thinks he's so stealthy, sometimes Tetsuro wants to yell that he knows everything, that everyone knows that he’s being played for a goddamn fool.

And no, no he can’t take this, he can't-

And then the door opens, pouring light over the dining room and the single silhouette that makes it’s way inside is just the one that shouldn’t be around him right now, the one he can’t stand to lay eyes on for fear of combusting into bitter smelling confetti.

Tsukishima’s there, wild-eyed and ruffled and looking like he just witnessed the destruction of earth as he knows it.

And for a second, for a second nothing else matters. Not Miura and his stupid face, not the insults, not the two weeks of silence. God Tetsuro loves him, loves him and-

And this is not some movie, he can’t ignore reality. So he fixes his face into an apathetic frown, and he shoots first. “You don’t have to keep pretending you’re not fucking other people.” He says, acid burning up his throat as he pretends to scroll through his phone. “We all know already.”

But then Tsukishima ignores him, he rushes through the living room, pale and wide-eyed and Tetsuro sees red.

He’s not even worth a reply now?

So he follows, knowing he’s being irrational, knowing this makes no sense.

And he manages to peek into Tsukishima’s room, or rather, a room. The futon is folded neatly on the corner and there’s a phone charger attached to the wall, aside from that there’s nothing, not even a stray notebook a reading lamp. Even Tsukishima’s laptop is gone. “Are you leaving?!” he half yells, stunned.

“Well, what do you think Einstein?” Tsukishima sniffs, he’s on the far corner of the room, half his body inside the closet. “I’m not exactly doing that house cleansing bullshit.”

“You can’t leave.” Tetsuro doesn't even know how to put it, Tsukishima can't just up and leave, he can't.

The blond grunts, pulling a suitcase from inside the closet, already full from what Tetsuro can see. “Don’t worry, I’ll leave my part of the rent.” He says, voice stilted and harsh. “Now, please make way.”

“Wait you’re leaving now?!” he’s frozen in place, so much so that the blond almost makes it past him with the suitcase and a backpack slung on his shoulder. Tetsuro has to scramble to grab at his wrist. “What the fuck Tsukishima?”

“I’m leaving, yes.” Tsukishima says again, annoyed, like he’s explaining to a toddler. “Let go of me.”

“There’s still one week of class.” Tetsuro tries to reason, because Tsukishima can’t leave, he can’t just go. Tetsuro knows him this is not him just switching apartments, if Tsukishima crosses the front door he’s done, with him, with them. “Where are you even going.”

“That’s none of your business.” Those golden eyes pin Tetsuro’s in place. “I have plenty of people that can put me up as you well know. No please let go of me.”

The implied meaning of that sentence hits right on target, it stings and for a second Tetsuro’s grip relaxes. Tsukishima notices and snatches his wrist away, very resolutely walking down the hall, he stops for a second to leave a small white envelope on the dining room table. “Tsukishima, stop.” He pleads. “Stop.” No response. “You coward.”

And there he’s said it, with as much rage as he is able to muster, with as much hurt as he currently feels. Tsukishima turns around, golden eyes suddenly vulnerable. “Leave me alone Kuroo.” He says, coldly, and it only fans the fuel for Tetsuro.

He sprints forward, almost jumping and grabs at the handle on Tsukishima’s suitcase. “No.” Their eyes meet. “No.” He repeats. “You’re a coward and you’re cruel and I have a fucking right to say it. So you don’t love me, fine, fine, everything could have been normal. I’m used to it, it’s been four fucking years that I’ve known you didn’t and I’ve lived haven’t I?” he takes a deep breath. “But you had to go hide like a fucking thief and go around sleeping with Miura of all people like it’s going to do anyone any good. Or you think I don’t know it hurts you more?” And then Tetsuro knows his face is crumbling. This is it, huh? Showing his own cards at last. “I-we could have fixed it if you had wanted to.”

Tsukishima looks at him for a long moment, eyes bloodshot, wide, so full of angst. “This couldn't be fixed.” He says simply. “I ca- There’s no place for this in my life Kuroo, sorry.”

Tetsuro wants to ask him to wait, to stop, he wants to propose something like this is a game, like he can come u with some last-minute play. But he comes up blank, and, slowly, conscious of every move his fingers make lets go of Tsukishima’s suitcase.

Besides those words, those words cut deep, even though it's not like he didn't know, like he hasn't heard them before.

The blond doesn’t waste any time, he reaches the door, looks back one last time with the most heartbreaking expression that Tetsuro has ever seen.

Then he opens the door.

And jumps back, almost knocking the suitcase over.

.

.

So here’s the thing, he kissed -or was just kissed by, that part is hard to define- his ex-boyfriend’s current boyfriend who also happens to be the best friend of the guy Kei was having sex with until a few weeks ago. 

Oh, and he seems to have feelings for all three of them.

-and may he remark, that two of these people are in a committed relationship to each other?-

Kei has to get out of here fast before Bokuto or Akaashi come back, it’s early but it doesn’t matter. He can find someone to put him up for a week.

He takes one last look at Kuroo, who stands defeated in the living room, eyes filling with tears, face pale.

It breaks his already shattered heart, but there’s nothing he can do about that, there’s too much damage. Too much hurt.

So he opens the door.

To instantly meet a pair of bronze coins on a very unsettled face. “Tsukki what was that?! Why?!” Bokuto says, and it’s not until he’s half-shouldered his way in that he notices Kuroo, his distraught face, and the suitcase that Kei is dragging around. The silver-haired man’s eyebrows furrow in an expression that’s equal parts bewilderment and rage. “Are you leaving? Is that why you went jogging with me today?” he asks.

All Kei can do is nod.

“Is that why you- why we kissed?” he asks again, and Kei can feel Kuroo stiffen behind the, even if he’s not looking.

It isn’t, he would never do something that useless, that cruel. Especially not to Akaashi, and he never planned to leave today, but this is just how things are. “Does that matter?” he feels drained, it’s hard to throw so many walls up only for them to keep being knocked down. “Just let me through Bokuto.”

“No!” the man exclaims, entrenching himself on the door, and he’s almost as wide as the doorframe then, impossibly wide and strong. “Of course not, you can’t just leave like a coward. What about Tetsu? What about me? And Akaashi?”

“You’re all perfectly fine from what I can see.” Kei snaps, he can't keep doing this, he needs to go. “This wouldn’t be a problem if you all would keep your noses out of my business. It's the right thing to do, please just stop being stupid.”

“You-“ Bokuto growls, burying his hands in unstyled hair. “You’re impossible. Do you think you’re doing us a favor? Disappearing like this, you know Tsukishima, maybe your cold, hard, little heart is fine with something like this.” He jams a finger in Kei's chest, so hard it hurts, and when Kei’s eyes meet the owl’s, those bronze orbs are glimmering with tears. “But none of ours are.”

Kei is frozen, he can’t, he can’t.

“I don’t want-“ he swallows at the knot that his throat has transformed into. “To be here anymore.”

And there must be something in his face that moves Bokuto, because even though he’s still crying, even though he looks like he’s being ripped in two, he steps aside. “Go.” He says. “Be an idiot, if you don’t want us, we don't want you either.” The owl cries.

And Kei does. “Goodbye Bokuto, Kuroo.” He mumbles and steps out, one step, then another, he hears a scuffle behind him, Kuroo’s voice, somber and hollow.

“No, let him go.” 

And Kei doesn’t turn back, he keeps walking and walking and he doesn’t cry until he’s in the elevator fumbling with his phone, wondering who he can ask to put up with a wreck of a person for most of a week.

Many people are out, Kei’s not social, he’s not trusting and he’s just left his only haven.

So he takes the only shot that seems comfortable, he raises the phone to his ear and waits a couple of painstaking seconds until a voice on the other side answers. “Tsukishima? How long has it been.”

“Uh- Suga-san.” He sniffs. “Hello, I- do you maybe have Asahi-san’s number?”

It’s not until he’s setting down his suitcase on the floor of Asahi’s studio apartment that Kei realizes he’s still wearing Bokuto’s hoodie.

.

.

Making lunch with his mom has never been a usual thing, especially taking into account the fact that she’s more often than not shooting pictures of birds halfway across the world.

But it’s nice.

And eating the delicious Katsudon she makes even more so. Exactly what he needed after an especially stressful week of walking around on eggshells in an apartment that’s acting like a pressure cooker, even more, each day.

At this pace, he and Bokuto are actually going to have to intervene, and since they have no idea what actually happened it might get dicey.

His phone vibrated on the arm of the sofa.

FROM: KOU -13:42

Keiji.

Are you coming back soon?

I need to talk to you

FROM: ME- 13:44

I was going to stay for a couple more hours.

Did something happen?

If it’s something serious I can head back now.

FROM: KOU -13:45

It-

Yeah, something bad

I don’t want to ask you to come back 

But

FROM: ME- 13:45

Are you alright Kou?

Are you hurt? Is someone else?

Are you at the apartment?

I’ll be there in an hour, ok?

FROM: KOU -13:46

I mean, no

We’re at the apartment

I’m not sure Kuroo is ok

Please come fast.

FROM: ME- 13:47

Kou, you’re scaring me.

I’m going to get a cab.

FROM: KOU -13:49

‘kay

FROM: ME- 13:51

I’ll be there soon.

I promise.

As soon a she sends the last message there’s an alert from the taxi app that tells him his driver is two minutes away. Keiji dashes p the stairs, glad that he packed this morning, and retrieves his bag. “Mom." he yells in the general direction of the living room. “I’m sorry, something came up at the apartment and I have to get back now.”

Her head peeks out at the bottom of the stairs. Dark blue eyes narrowed in worry at his frantic tone. “Are you alright? Do you want me to come?”

Keiji sighs, quickly descending the stairs. “No, don’t worry. I don’t think it’s too bad, but it’s better if I go.” He says. “You’ll be here for winter break right?”

She smiles softly. “Yes, little bird.” His mother says, opening her arms and Keiji slides gratefully into them. Somehow he feels like he’s going to need this hug to draw strength form later. “Bring Koutarou-kun next time, ok?”

“Ok, mom.” He says as his phone rings, probably the taxi. “See you.”

All through the cab ride, Keiji has to resist the inexplicable urge to bite his nails, or to pick at his nail beds. As it is, by the time he gets off in front of their building, his fingers are aching from being pulled at too much. 

He tries to calm himself down as he walks up the stairs, this whole thing might be a joke gone out of control, or some way to cheer Kuroo up, at least he prays that it is. But there’s that nagging voice on the back of his head that tells him that he knows Bokuto better than anyone, and the panic, the frustration that came through with his texts was all too real 

And if Kuroo is involved… It can only mean that the pressure cooker has finally exploded.

He arrives at the apartment, unlocks the door swiftly, expecting to come in to people fighting, or maybe broken glass and things being thrown over his head. Instead, the apartment is dark, and cold, he turns to adjust the thermostat before walking ahead.

It’s quiet, so quiet, it feels sterile, like a picture frozen in time. So Keiji walks down the hall “Kou?” he calls, but there’s no answer, he walks past Kuroo's closed door, almost knocks but then something catches his eye at the corner of his vision. The door to Tsukishima’s room is wide open, the inside of it is empty, their guest futon folded to one side and nothing else. 

Keiji walks in, unsure, heart pounding. It couldn’t be, right?”

He whips around, rushes to the closet doors, flings them wide open and-

Volleyballs.

And a pile of clothes that he recognizes as his, and Bokuto’s and Kuroo’s, all neatly folded, probably freshly washed.

Tsukishima left it all the same way he found it.

Behind him, someone clears their throat, and Keiji could recognize Koutarou just by that little, embarrassed sound.

He turns around, eyes wide, feeling tears start to form. “What happened Kou?”

Bokuto looks… like hell, actually, his hair is unstyled and messy, sticking out like he has been running his hands through it, his eyes are bloodshot and his skin is pasty pale.”Can we go to our room? The owl says, looking sadly at the volleyballs. “Please, ‘kaashi.”

“ Of course.” Keiji says, grabbing the other’s lean hand and guiding him back to their room. Without any prompting, he climbs on the bed and beckons Bokuto to follow.

The silver-haired man hesitates, standing beside the bed. “’Kaashi I- I’m sorry.” He says, looking down, those bronze eyes glassy from tears. “I’m sorry.” He sniffs. “I-I think I kissed Tsukki- I- and then he left. I’m sorry.”

His eyes widen, surprise washing over his body. Was that why Tsukishima left? And why? Keiji had been waiting to see how the relationship between the two progressed before he talked to Bokuto about certain things. But that was before this whole mess of a fight.

Bokuto outright sobs, and to be sincere Keiji doesn’t care much about the rest right now. He’d be such a hypocrite if he got mad after all.

Keiji rises to his knees, arms coming up to pull Bokuto close. “Come here.” He says, pulling him along so they are both sitting on the bed, Bokuto presses closer but his hands don’t come up to return the hug. “Please tell me what happened? From the start?”

“So I waited up for him today.” He says, face buried on the crook of Keiji’s shoulder. “I made him go running, I just- wanted to try and talk, I know you said not to meddle until they cooled down a bit but- I mean I’ve never seen him like that- he made us run until he started wheezing and we had to sit. And I was trying to talk to him but he kept- he just- put those walls up ’Kaashi and I was .” his voice breaks. “I got mad and grabbed him by the shoulders and-“

“You kissed him.” Keiji sighs, arms tightening. “And what happened next?”

“Or he kissed me, I’m not sure.” Bokuto shivers. “And then he ran away. I came back here and he was on his way out with a suitcase. I-I think he and Kuroo were fighting. I tried to talk but he said-“ Bokuto sobs. “He said he didn’t want to be here anymore, and Kuroo made me let him leave. Then he got mad about- about the kiss, and he locked himself up in the room.”

“Oh.” It’s all Keiji can think to say. Truly he had expected for things to come to a head at some point soon but it seems they went the worst possible way. And besides that, from the looks of it, Tsukishima had already planned to leave, as little stuff as he brought with him, there’s no way he fit it all in a suitcase so quickly.

Bokuto, however, seems to take his silence for anger, he shivers in Keiji’s arms. “Please ‘kaashi- I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-“ he hiccups and it makes Keiji’s chest burn.

He takes a deep breath, hands rubbing soothingly at Bokuto’s back. “It’s ok, Kou I- I know you weren’t trying to hurt me.” He says. “Maybe if I had talked to you before it would have turned out different.” He takes a deep breath. “Just answer me something ok? I’m not going to be mad or hurt, but I need to know. Did you want to kiss him?”

After a moment of silence Bokuto answers. “I love you.” He croaks, turning his face up to look at Keiji. “But I- I think- yes.” He lets the word out like it’s a weight he has been bearing. “but I love you, I-I always have, I know it doesn’t make sense, but-“ And then his arms do come up, they pull Keiji impossibly closer into his boyfriend’s warmth. “Please.”

Keiji kisses the top of the other’s head, breathing in the scent of his hair. “It does make sense.” he says, and he knows now that he should have done this so long ago. But hindsight is always 20/20 as they say, and all he can do know is console Bokuto, because it truly, physically hurts to hear Bokuto like this. “Do you remember what you said to me in Kyoto? Before we fell asleep?” Bokuto stiffens, but nods against his shoulder. “I felt something similar, and then I felt so bad about it, I started going to a therapist, she- she showed me something. Can I show it to you?”

Bokuto pulls back, expression puzzled, eyes still slightly watery. “What is it?”

Keiji pulls up one of the articles on his phone quickly and hands it to the silver hired man, eyes intent on the other’s face. Bokuto starts reading, brow furrowed and as he scrolls down his expression goes from confusion to surprise, to terror and then settles on concern. “’Kaashi. Since when?” he asks simply.

“I- since before we got together. I felt so guilty.” Keiji confesses. “But I figured I loved you, and I wanted to be with you anyways, it was the normal thing to do.” He moves forward, catching Bokuto’s hands in his own, admiring those thick, calloused fingers. “And then we moved here and Kuroo got thrown into the mix, everything felt so complicated. You’re welcome to decline this, we can act like it never happened, but the truth is that I know why you kissed him today, and all those other times. And I’m not mad.” He feels his eyes water. “And I still love you a lot.”

“And you want us to-“ Bokuto’s head cranes to the side. “-Like date them?”

Keiji’s lips press tightly together. “If you want to, and they do. Only then, yes.” He looks away. Bokuto is silent for a long time. Then he scoots closer, lies down, and Keiji just knows what he wants, so he lets this broad, tall Greek god of a man curl up in his arms. “I think we’ve been doing that without realizing.” He says. “Well, until…”

“Yeah, that was bad.” Keiji sighs, letting his head sink on the pillow. “Are you really alright with this Kou? if you don-“

“I am.” Bokuto says, voice finally steadier. "I’m not sure how we’re going to bring it up to Kuroo after- I don’t think he-“

“I differ.” Keiji, turns to press a soft kiss at his nose. “But I think we should deal with the current crisis first. He must be heartbroken.”

Bokuto sniffs. “I threatened to kick down the door and he just yelled at me to try.”

Bad, then, it’s very bad. Keiji hums. “I can go talk to him?” he proposes. “You can pick up lunch for both of you, you haven’t eaten right?”

The silver-haired man lets out a nervous chuckle. “Since my shake, no.”

“There, you must be starving.” Keiji says, one hand rising to caress Bokuto’s cheek. “Go get some of that spicy curry, I’ll try to talk to him.” And then he kisses him, soft and sweet and Bokuto sighs against his lips, shaky and somewhat glad.

“Ok.”

.

.

His room is a dark, safe haven. 

Or it was, now even in it, Tetsuro finds himself hounded by memories, evocative of unwanted love.

But where else would he go? Where can he run? Kenma's new house on the outskirts might be a good choice.

But he can’t deal with the questions, and he doesn’t want to be a bother. 

Maybe he’ll go back home once he's composed himself enough that his grandmother won’t notice how run down and destroyed he really feels.

Yeah, that sounds good, his grandmother and his dad, his own bed and warm food, he could stay there even, commuting every day will be a pain, but finding another apartment would be hard this late in the school year.

He can’t stay here any longer, that’s clear too.

As if summoned, there’s a timid knock at the door. He knows who it is, but the visitor still announces himself. “Kuroo, it’s Akaashi. Can you open the door please?”

He heard him get home an hour ago, heard him talk to Bokuto though not what the conversation was about. Probably for the best since he’s still feeling sore from that particular blow.

It’s not that he’s mad at Bokuto -or maybe a little, it’s not fair to Akaashi after all-, it’s more that he could see how he and Tsukishima looked at each other. And Tetsuro is no fool, he could tell from a stadium away what those two were feeling. And, despite being so aware that he’s the odd one out, the unwanted one from the start, there's still that weight of crushing loneliness that falls over him. 

“Is Bokuto there?” he yells.

And he appreciates Akaashi’s patience, because he’s the one who has all the spare keys to the rooms. Outside, the man sighs audibly. “No, no he isn’t.”

Tetsuro rises on unsteady legs, trying to wipe the tear tracks from his face. He opens the door, into a dark blue, worried stare. “I’m fine, Akaashi.” He says, and even he can’t believe how rough his voice sounds. “Are you-“

“Can I come in?” the younger man asks, and Tetsuro, surprised as he is, steps aside. “I need to talk to you.” Akaashi says again, standing in the middle of Tetsuro’s room. “Come, let's sit.”

He feels too weak to resist, besides this is Akaashi, and he must be feeling just as hurt if not more, so Tetsuro walks up to him and sits on the bed, lips pressed together, arms crossed over his chest. 

Akaashi sits down beside him, utterly silent, he draws in a shaky breath. “I can’t believe he left.” He says. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice he was planning to.”

Tetsuro hangs his head, this is all his fault, him and his stupid mouth. “I didn’t notice either. I kept thinking he would calm down and we could make things better.”

“I think we did that too many times.” Akaashi says softly. “But if you’re willing, I’d like to know what happened.”

Tetsuro takes a deep breath. “Why does it matter?” he asks. Because really, Akaashi shouldn’t be concerning himself with this, so what if Tsukishima hates Tetsuro now, that shouldn't alter anything.

One of those pale, long-fingered hands grabs at his forearm. “Because you matter to me,” he says, eyes earnest. “And you’re hurting. I know you didn’t tell Kou, so it must be something that makes you feel ill about yourself. And I saw the way you two fought after, this is serious.”

For a second, and despite himself, Tetsuro feels his heart rate quicken, for a second he wants to feel like he really matters to this beautiful man in front of him. But then, he knows it’ll never be in the way that he wants, he shakes off the hand from his arm and looks away. “I said something I shouldn't have.” He grits out. “And then he ran away and decided he wanted nothing to do with me.” He laughs, hollow and hurt. “At all from what I can see.”

“What did you say?” the voice is soft, but it’s also the lash of a whip on shredded skin.

Tetsuro stands up. “Why do you want to know?” He snarls. “Shouldn't you be worrying about what Bokuto did?”

Slowly, purposefully, Akaashi stands up too, he takes a step towards him that forces Tetsuro to back up against the wall. “I already talked to him.” He says calmly “We are alright. And I am asking because I want to understand, what was so bad that he would leave like this?”

The honest, the forwardness is disarming, Tetsuro has become adept to dealing with people who try and hide things, or those who are denser when it comes to their feelings. This is neither and it knocks down every defense he’s ever built. And Akaashi is doing it all to know what he did to Tsukishima, what he did, like he’s the bad one. Something inside him bursts. “I told him I love him, ok? That’s the horrible, completely unforgivable thing I did.” He spits out, vision growing blurry. “Now leave me alone.”

“Oh, Kuroo.” Akaashi’s voice is soft. “That was it?”

Tetsuro looks away and nods. 

Akaashi should back down now, he should go to do whatever it is he’s planning to with that information.

But he doesn’t, he steps forward, lifting his hand to wipe the tears streaming down Tetsuro’s face with the sleeve of his sweater. “I am so sorry this happened.” He says, his other hand coming up to try and pull Tetsuro’s arms loose. 

And Tetsuro knows the other is going to keep trying, he knows Akaashi’s not going to stop trying to console him when he’s like this. Not unless he drives him away for real and there's only one conceivable way.

He doesn’t want to stick to a reminder of how unwanted he is, even if what he’s about to do might hurt just as much as Tsukishima leaving. “Please stop touching me Akaashi.” He says, voice shaky. “I don’t want to be around you, sorry.”

Akaashi’s hands retreat like he's been burned. “Why?” 

Tetsuro tries not to look straight at him, it hurts too much, this hurts too much. “Because it hurts.” He says. “Tsukki wasn't the only one I fell for.” He explains. “I thought I could live with it, but” he gestures out around them. “I guess not.” He laughs. “Shouldn't have been so stupid I guess. Don’t worry I don’t expect anything from Bo, or you.”

Akaashi is stunned into silence for a long moment, then those blue eyes narrow. “Did you really think that would make me leave?” he asks, brow furrowing. “Really? Ugh, even if I didn’t-“ his hands ball into fists at his sides.

Confused, Tetsuro tries to sidestep him, maybe Kenma’s is a good choice after all, even with the questions. But then Akaashi sniffles, and, fuck. “Hey it’s not your fault, I just can’t-“

“It’s completely my fault.” Akaashi hiccups. “If I had just spoken to you all sooner-“

Sometimes, he curses being moved so easily, this is one of them. Tetsuro can’t help it, he grabs one of Akaashi’s hands. “It really isn’t I’m sorry I made you go through so much trouble.” He says. “I don’t think it could have been avoided, even if we had talked.”

And then that hand turns around, it wraps around Tetsuro’s wrist. “I didn’t mean it like that. If I had known both you and Kou felt like this… I was almost sure Kei did too but-“

“What do you mean both of us Akaashi?” he says, voice so weak it’s hard to hear

“I mean that we all have been emotionally constipated idiots.” Akaashi exclaims suddenly, frustrated “Me included.” His grip around Tetsuro’s wrist grows tighter. He hesitates for a second, then more composed he says. “I just talked to Kou about this, Kuroo…” he pauses, free hand brushing over Tetsuro’s left eye, brushing away the new tears gathering there. “We feel the same.”

It’s like the floor has dropped out from underneath his feet, a pit opens in his belly, this, this can’t be true. If it were anyone else telling him, he might think it was a very cruel joke, but Akaashi’s face is earnest, his eyelashes wet with unshed tears. Tetsuro knows him well enough, he’s not lying.

Too much, that’s what it is. He lets himself fall seated on the bed, and Akaashi goes with him. “Are you sure?” he asks, voice trembling.

“No, I just go around saying that to everyone.” Akaashi shoots back, annoyed. “Of course, I am, I have been for more than a year.”

Tetsuro opens his mouth, but then they both hear the distinctive click of the front door opening. “’Kaashi?!”

Akaashi’s hand squeezes Tetsuro’s reassuringly. “In here Kou!”

A second later, Bokuto peeks into the room, looking crestfallen and anxious. “I have food, Kuroo.” He says. “Can I come in?”

“Y-yes.” He says, almost automatically. It’s the same sad look he remembers seeing on the other’s face when looking out of the boat on that trip to Hokkaido.

Bokuto walks in, small steps, somehow quiet. “So uh, are you alright?” he asks.”

“I’m not sure.” Tetsuro answers, looking down at where Akaashi’s hand is still firmly wrapped around his. “Bo, is it true?”

The owl cranes his head, handing Tetsuro a small container. “What?”

“I told Kuroo about what we discussed earlier.” Akaashi comments, sighing. “I know we said we would wait, but he made it necessary”

“Oh.” Bokuto’s eyes drift over to Tetsuro’s face, one of his hands comes up to scratch the back of his neck. “I mean Akaashi told you already, so yes.” He pauses for a minute. “Wait, does that mean that you- I mean- you too?“

He’s not too sure that he didn’t fall and hit his head at some point, this might still be a hallucination, or heaven, or something of the sort. But Akaashi’s hand in his feels real, and Bokuto’s expression too, Tetsuro looks down. “Yeah.”

Truly, he should expect what happens next, even if Bokuto is generally crazy fast. But he doesn’t and the pair of warm arms that wraps around him feels like fire, all-consuming, safe, and somehow terrifying. Akaashi lets go of his hand and Tetsuro hugs back, immediately.

And he’s crying again, but who cares.

.

.

Asahi is a very good cook.

Not that it’s surprising, Kei knows the other man has lived alone since he first moved to Tokyo for college, and that was three years ago.

After they finish eating dinner the older man hands him a mug of hot chocolate and invites Kei to watch Tv on the couch.

“Thank you again for this Asahi.” Kei says looking down at the foamy drink. “If I can turn in my papers early, I’ll be out of your hair by Wednesday.”

“Don’t mind Tsukishima,” Asahi says. “It’s always nice to have company, Noya hasn’t been here in months now and it does get very quiet.” He smiles.

“Well if you say so.” Kei takes a sip of the chocolate, feeling marginally better. “I didn’t know Nishinoya had been in Japan this year.” He muses.

“Ah, he had a layover.” Asahi answers. “It was just the night but I was happy to see him.”

It does strike Kei as odd, and he almost doesn’t ask. “Oh, I thought you two-“

“Broke up?” Asahi laughs. “Everyone does, we’re just doing out own thing for now, but we still are together.” He pulls out his phone to show Kei a photo of Nishinoya in safari get up grinning widely and making a heart with his hands, with a giraffe on the background. “He just sent me this yesterday, he’s in Tanzania.”

The caption in the photo very clearly says ‘Love ya big guy.’ And Asahi’s eyes soften while he rereads it.

“It must be tough.” Kei breathes out. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to.”

“It is.” Asahi answers, voice soft and full of longing. “Especially living here in Tokyo, I’ve thought about transferring to a university in Sendai often. At least I’d have my family and Daichi, and Suga.”

Kei holds a breath. “You can do that?”

“Sure.” Asahi sighs. “It’s not easy and it really depends on grades, but I could do it.” He says. “But then Noya helped me pick this place, and I always wait for him here.”

“Doesn’t it get tiring?” Waiting?” Kei asks, because he might as well, he’s too tired to fake indifference or throw up walls.

“Sometimes.” And then Asahi smiles, bright and full of love. “But I know he’ll come back eventually, I trust Noya, he wouldn’t leave me just like that.”

“I see.” Kei answers, finding no other words within himself, and later on at night when he’s trying to sleep in that exact same couch the conversation keeps going around and around in his head.

He picks up his phone from where it has been turned off all evening and erases all the notifications without even reading them, then with shaky fingers, Kei blocks all three numbers.

The decision is made.

.

.

Koutarou lies to one side of Kuroo, looking up at the ceiling, they’ve all been in bed since like six pm, laying on their backs like toys that have fallen over. He doesn’t have to talk to know what the other two are feeling.

Tsukishima is missing.

From the bed, from their lives. “What are we gonna do about him?” Koutarou croaks into the night.

Kuroo stiffens beside him, but he doesn’t say anything, it’s Akaashi that speaks. “I don’t know.” He says, soft and sad. “I think we’re going to have to wait until he comes back from winter break.”

“I don’t think he’ll want to talk to us anyways,” Kuroo says, defeated. “We all called him, he never answered, I don't think he’s going to.”

Koutarou shivers at the hollowness of that voice. He scoots closer to Kuroo, throwing an arm over the man’s body. “We can keep trying.” He says. “And if he still won’t talk to us we’ll seek him out when he comes back.”

Akaashi too, turns around to cuddle up to Kuroo. “It’s not the end.” He says. “Kou is right.”

Then, with Kuroo’s shaky breathing, and both their arms holding him together, they wait for the dawn, wide awake.

And in January, Tsukishima doesn’t come back.

Chapter Text

Kei eats and eats, and eats until he feels like his stomach will explode.

His mom beams at him across the table and keeps filling his plate. At least someone is happy with the change.

His dad is on a business trip, and Akiteru… Akiteru is home just for the evening but he’s observing Kei with a gaze that rivals Ushijima’s in intensity. His brother, for all his faults, knows Kei.

There’s an interrogation coming and he knows he’s not going to like it.

After all, Kei went against everything -convenience, his parents' wishes- to go to Tokyo, and now, not a year after he left, he comes back with his tail between his legs. Anyone else would simply assume Kei couldn’t deal with the pressure of college and being away from home.

Akiteru knows Kei isn’t like that.

It’s not a surprise when he follows him up the stairs to his room, steps quiet and cautious, like he’s measuring his every movement for fear of getting shut out. Kei fights against the instinct to run up and close his door before Akiteru can get to him. But he can’t keep doing that for the rest of his life and anyways, if there’s anyone besides Tadashi that he feels even somewhat comfortable talking to right now, it’s him.

Kei walks into his room forcing his stride too remain even, he sits on his bed and looks straight at the doorway where Akiteru soon appears.

His brother knocks on the doorframe with a sheepish expression. “Can we talk for a minute?”

Looking away, Kei answers. “Sure.”

Akiteru pauses for a second. “Do you want to toss a ball outside while we do it?” he asks, even wearier than before. Kei nods and follows him down the stairs. They walk past their mother, who is washing dishes, her gaze lingers on Kei, warm and loving.

Outside, Akiteru tosses him the ball, Kei tosses back. It goes on for a bit until the older man speaks. “So, why did you come back?” He asks. “I mean I’m glad you’re closer, mom’s over the moon. But it doesn’t seem like you.”

There, he’s come out and answered, Kei both wants to pour it all out or invent some credible lie. The second, of course, poses the risk of Akiteru noticing, and it’s pretty high. He settles for the middle. “I didn’t feel comfortable in Tokyo anymore.” He says, keeping his eyes on the ball. “I figured that coming back here even if I had only been there a year might help. “

“Hmm.” Akiteru pauses. “Was it about your new roommates? You seemed better when you were still at the dorms.”

Kei sighs, that’s an understatement, or maybe not. It’s true that him moving in with them caused everything to go downhill faster, but somehow, he feels that the situation was escalating so much that it was inevitable that this happened. “I-sort of.”

“Was it Akaashi-kun? It did strike me as odd that you’d move in with him and his boyfriend.” Akiteru continues. “But I thought you two were friends, still.”

“It’s complicated.” Kei says. “A lot of things happened, I needed space.”

But Akiteru presses. “Well, it must have been a lot for you to need this much space.” He hums. “I- Are you ok? I know you’re strong Kei, but I also know you enough to see this goes deep.”

Kei bites his lip, looking away just for long enough to miss the ball completely, it falls behind him on the grass with a soft thud. It’s not like he doesn’t trust his brother, but how can he begin to explain? All the things that were and were not there at the same time, and then, there’s the fact that Kei is ashamed of a lot of his behavior. Especially when it comes to Kuroo. He faces how cruel he was every night, staring at his ceiling, yearning for warm arms around him, and in two weeks it has not gotten easier in the slightest.

If Kuroo loved him.. hell, if any of them had any sort of feelings for him, he sure set those aflame with how he treated the other.

And then had to go and kiss Bokuto.

Cherry on cake, foot on mouth, whatever.

It takes Akiteru approaching with a sad, concerned look on his face. Noticing that he’s been staring out into space for a bit. His brother takes advantage of it, he wraps his arms around Kei. “You know, I’m not going to force you to tell me.” He says as Kei starts shaking.

“I just-” Kei shivers. “I didn’t pay enough attention, and I think I made a lot of things bad without noticing, and then when I did notice it was too late and the only option I had was to leave.”

Akiteru pulls back. “And you don’t think you could fix any of that?”

“No. I don’t think I’d be allowed to, anyway.”.

.

.

"So, he blocked our numbers, deactivated his Facebook, and apparently Hinata has not been told anything, at all." Keiji summarizes.

Bokuto looks up, lip pushed out in a pout. "Pretty much. Sawamura told me he's alright but that was all. The bastard."

They don't know what Tsukishima told his team but they're all being tight-lipped when they know anything at all. Maybe Kuroo could get something else from Sawamura but Kuroo...

Neither of them wants to involve him, he knows they want to talk to Tsukishima. But that's it.

Understandably, he doesn't want to go looking for Tsukishima, even though he clearly would rather the other was here. After all, he has been rejected once already and no amount of reassuring from Bokuto and Keiji is going to get that out of his mind.

But the only one who can untangle that particular knot is Tsukishima himself. Keiji looks down. "What if we manage to talk to him, and he wants nothing to do with this?" He picks at the tender skin around his fingernails. "Kou it has almost been two months, I'm not sure we should-"

"'Kaashi." Bokuto sighs, raking a hand through his hair. "I get it, I do but what if he's hu-"

Footsteps are padding down the hall, heavy, familiar footsteps. And Bokuto instantly changes his demeanor, he turns his head to the doorway, where a sleepy Kuroo soon appears. He's rubbing at his left eye, underneath which shadows gather.

Keiji smiles softly. "Good morning Kuroo." he says, as Bokuto walks up to the other.

"Morning sunshine." he says, pulling Kuroo into his arms and planting a huge kiss on his cheek. "You almost missed breakfast."

The dark-haired man smiles lightly, he leans a little into Bokuto. "Morning Bo, morning 'kaashi."

Keiji turns around to flip the bacon, just as the coffee machine beeps its completion. Kuroo steps forward to fill their two cups while Bokuto gets the milk. Keiji makes sure to plate the bacon and eggs in the proportions they usually prefer.

It’s nice, though the conversation is a bit stilted right up until Bokuto excuses himself to go train, typical Saturday morning.

Except Kuroo doesn’t have practice and Tsukishima isn’t here.

Tsukishima is not here.

Kuroo picks up the plates, a soft smile playing at the edge of his lips. “You're going to class too right?” he asks, turning away and heading for the kitchen.

“Actually, I was thinking I could stay in with you.” Keiji calls, as evenly as he can. After everything, the three of them decided to take things slow, Kuroo was, understandably the one most hurt by the whole ordeal and they agreed to give him some space.

Only space ended up being the older man overworking himself again and sleeping in his own room most nights. Keiji’s scared he’s going to end up disappearing from their lives too, and it's hard to not just outright treat Kuroo like a lover, now that he knows his feelings are reciprocated. 

There's no answer, so he peeks his head into the kitchen, where Kuroo is scrubbing at the dishes. “Unless you have something else to do?” he tries, and Kuroo keeps his gaze on the dishes.

“Uh, no." he says. “But really, you don’t have to.” He says. “I know you like your classes.”

If yelling at Kuroo to stop being stubborn would work, -as it would work on Tsukishima probably- Keiji would do it, but as it stands, Kuroo’s gentle deflection would only get stronger. “Well I wanted to be with you, do you want to come to the class? I think there’s a free spot.”

Kuroo turns to look at him for a second, eyes tired. “Sure.” He says. “But I’m not sure I have anything I can wear.”

“It’s your first class.” Keiji shrugs, heading for the bedroom. “Just take your shortest swimming trunks, you’re not going to be doing anything extreme.”

.

.

This is… a lot harder than it looks.

And it looks hard, to begin with.

Tetsuro has an advantage being relatively fit, but apparently, this involves a lot of shifting his weight… Hinata would probably amazing at it.

As it is, he’s very proud of himself for getting a halfway decent straddle by the halfway point of the class. “Ok Kuroo, very good.” The instructor praises. “Now hook the knee of your outside leg around the pole.”

“Outside?” he looks up, suddenly dizzy, which one is the outside?

He fumbles with his left, almost losing his grip, when warm hands suddenly appear, helping him hold on.

Akaashi’s pretty blue eyes appear in front of him. “Your left is to the tube, so your outside leg is your right.” He explains. “Hook your knee over the tube.”

Tetsuro does, it hurts a little, but his weight is still mostly on his hands. Akaashi smiles at him. “Clutch that hard, and if you feel safe, let go of your hands.”

“Wha- ‘kaashi I’ll fall.” He argues and tries not to flail.

Akaashi rolls his eyes. “With your legs?” he smiles. “It’s fine if you don't feel secure yet, but I’ve got you if you want to try.”

And maybe it’s that trusting expression or the long-fingered hands that hover near his hips but Tetsuro squeezes with his leg and let's go. And it’s fine for a second, it feels pretty damn badass. Until he feels the burn on the back of his knee.

His hands are back on the tube in a second and he falls quite ungracefully in a crouch. “How do you do that?”

Akaashi smiles, walking back to his tube. “You get used to it.” He says, and then proceeds to give him a show, doing what Tetsuro just did one, two, three, and four times, until he’s halfway up the tube, the movement fluid and graceful.

He’s so beautiful, Tetsuro’s tired heart skips a beat in the corner where it has been sulking for the past few weeks.

And then when he gets to the top Akaashi smiles.

The rest of the class goes by swiftly, Tetsuro tries out the knee hook thing a few more times until he can actually hold it and he keeps sneaking glances at Akaashi who is doing this thing where he has to hold himself perpendicular to the pole with just his arms. 

He’s glad he came, even though he knows this is just Akaashi try to make him stop moping and distracting himself with his studies. Both him and Bokuto have been so sweet, even though Tetsuro knows they miss Tsukishima too, and they know he was at fault for the blond leaving.

If Tetsuro had handled things better… but no, for all they know Tsukishima doesn’t reciprocate any of their feelings, he sure doesn’t reciprocate his.

But he kissed Bokuto, and Tetsuro has always had a feeling that he never got over Akaashi.

So he’s probably the odd man out, he thinks, as he gets dressed in the corner of the studio room, that’s probably why they barely mention Tsukishima in front of him too.

A hand timidly brushing at the side of his arm snaps him from his thoughts. Akaashi looks up at him. “Do you want to get some takeout?” he asks.

Tetsuro shakes his head. “I can make us something.” He doesn’t want to feel more coddled than he already is, even if it is sweet. “How do you feel about curry? I think we have enough stuff to make some.”

Akaashi smiles. “It sounds good, Kuroo.” He says, leaning up to place a shy, barely-there kiss on his cheek.

So they head home, mostly silent while Akaashi fiddles with his fingers and looks up at Tetsuro occasionally. He’s expecting some sort of uplifting speech once they arrive at home but all he gets is a timid glance. “Do you need something?” he asks, more out of habit than anything else.

“No, I just-“ Akaashi flushes. “We’re both sweaty, I thought we could shower together?” his eyes are determined, even if he looks like a ripe cherry at the moment. “I mean, if you want to, no pressure.” He says, and then scurries towards the master bedroom.

Sometimes, how hard Akaashi and Bokuto are trying to make it work, and to console him overwhelms Tetsuro. He goes to his room to pick out his room and sits in his bed for a moment. The sound of the master bedrooms shower turning on startles him. And he wants to go, he should go. He takes off his clothes quickly and grabs a towel.

The bathroom is full of steam by the point he actually dares enter it, behind a smoked glass partition he can see Akaashi’s lithe form. “Kuroo, is that you?” he calls when Tetsuro closes the door behind himself, heart racing. “Come inside.”

For a second, he’s sure he’s dreaming.

Scratch that, when he slides the partition to the side to find Akaashi naked, with a satisfied smile on his face despite the telltale embarrassment on his pink cheeks, he’s ninety percent sure that he is, in fact, dreaming. “Uh sorry.” He mumbles, trying not to stare too much. “I was picking out some clothes.”

Akaashi snickers. “Just get in, you’re letting the warmth out.” The younger man, it seems, enjoys scalding hot showers, just like Tetsuro does. He groans when the stream hits him. “Oh, sorry, too hot right?” Kou keeps telling me.” Akaashi says, leaning towards the handles.

Without thinking, Tetsuro grabs the other’s arm. “It’s perfect,”

“Oh, ok, I'm glad, this is just the temperature I like.” The other says, through a stuttered breath, looking up at him with half-lidded eyes. “Can I wash your hair?” he asks then and Tetsuro stiffens, feeling his ears burn. 

Which is completely irrational because they are naked in a shower and he shouldn’t be getting worked up because Akaashi wants to wash his hair of all things, no matter how intimate the gesture feels. “S-sure, go ahead, but only if I can do yours.”

“Of course.” Akaashi says, picking up a bottle of shampoo and squirting some on his hand. “Soon enough there are fingers rubbing at his scalp, tender yet strong, massaging hard at his temples, it would all be so perfect if Akaashi wasn't standing right in front of him, in the prime position to see how hard he is.

Between rinses, Tetsuro hazards a look down.

At least Akaashi is in the same state. He reddens, even more, averting his eyes and taking the shampoo bottle from the other's hands, it’s easier to concentrate on that, he doesn't know if he should start anything, with Bokuto not being here and all. He buries his fingers in the other’s hair, marveling at how the soft waves feel under his hands. He tries to do the same as Akaashi, press into the back of the other’s head, and his temples.

And Akaashi moans.

How much that sound affects him must show in his face, because the next thing he knows Akaashi is looking up at him, lower lip sucked into his mouth in a way that should be illegal. “Kuroo can I-“

And there he is, that careful demeanor again, like he’s going to break. 

Tetsuro’s hands are still around his head, so it’s not hard to pull Akaashi in and steal that soft pink lip away. He pulls away for a second. “Sure, you can, Akaashi.” And then goes back to pressing himself against Akaashi. 

It feels so good, he’s barely touched anyone in these two months, apart from the occasional hug and good morning kiss with Bokuto. He hadn’t felt ready, not after- 

But here’s Akaashi, kissing him softly, clinging to him as their bodies slide together in the warm water and -not to be cliché, but- it’s magical. Through the kiss, Tetsuro releases a breath he didn’t know he was holing, he leaves one of his hands still tangled in Akaashi’s head, the other goes to the small of his back to pull him closer.

It’s nothing like the other times he’s kissed him, it’s so full of caring and want that his eyes burn a little. “Is this ok to do?” he asks, resting his forehead on Akaashi’s.

Those blue eyes scrutinize his face. “Kou will be happy.” Akaashi says, mouth twisting into a little smirk, nose furrowing cutely. “And we can always make it up to him when he’s back.” It’s the casual way he says it, honest and trusting that makes Tetsuro’s heart swell in his chest. He kisses the other deeply again, feeling how Akaashi’s erection rubs against his hip.

He trails his hand down, mapping out the soft skin and the places where it’s lightly bruised, and finds that, as he moves to grab both their cocks, Akaashi is doing the same. That graceful hand tangles with his, leading Tetsuro into a languid pace of delightful friction as he’s kissed silly. He groans into Akaashi’s mouth, just as Akaashi pants into his, both of their hips thrusting forward slightly as they rock together.

It seems too long and too short a time before they reach their completions, both shivering and clinging at the other in the steam-filled bathroom.

Akaashi stays pressed up to him for a while after, then he looks up, threads his hands through Tetsuro’s hair, and pushes it back against his scalp, looking deep into his eyes. For a second it looks like he’s about to say something, but then he just smiles sweetly and kisses him one last time before turning around to fetch the soap.

.

.

 

When Koutarou arrives home from practice, he finds a plate of curry sitting on the microwave.

He can’t help but smile, he heats the dish and eats quickly, then wanders off towards the master bedroom, as quietly as he can as not to disturb the quiet, Kuroo and Akaashi are probably studying or something.

Or so he thought.

He finds them on the large bed that he shares with Akaashi, cuddled up to each other, watching some movie on Akaashi’s laptop, all relaxed, a hint of wet clinging at their hair. “When did you two get so cozy?” he asks grinning, because this is the first time he’s seen Kuroo cuddle up to either of them since that first night after Tsukishima left. “You didn't even wait for me to have lunch.” He narrows his eyes playfully at Kuroo. “I’m hurt, Bro.”

Regardless, he rounds the bed and goes to sit on the dark-haired man’s other side. “Akaashi tired me out!” Kuroo whines, and then immediately goes red. “Uh-“

Koutarou perks up, so a little more than cuddling then?  

But Kuroo is looking at him with almost panicked eyes. Something lurches in Koutarou’s chest, he slips into the bed beside the other, grinning at him. “Well, I say it was about time.” He says, wrapping his arms around Kuroo’s middle and burying his face on the crook on the other’s neck. “Mmm, you smell nice, did you use our body wash?”

“He did” Akaashi confirms from where he’s been watching the exchange go down. “I took him to my class and then we took a shower together.”

Kuroo chuckles lightly, still too shaky to sound like his usual self. “I thought it was just your body wash, Akaashi.”

“Nope.” Akaashi laughs. “Kou kept buying Axe and I didn’t like the smell, so I banned it.”

Koutarou smiles, reaching over to pinch Akaashi's cheek. “Yup, now we’re all going to smell like vanilla.” he puffs out his cheeks. “But I’m owed a shower with you.” He tightens his hands around Kuroo’s middle.

“He likes decently hot water.” Akaashi says, smug. “Just so you know.”

Koutarou laughs. “Oh, I know." 

He hasn’t forgotten, after all, the nights he’s spent with Kuroo before. Maybe things are different between them now, but then, he’s sure the other hasn't changed much, he’s probably even still ticklish at his ribs. 

Koutarou can't help but try it out. 

“Aghhhhh!” Kuroo says, jumping, ears turning red. “Bo, what are you doing?”

Koutarou grins impishly. “Nothing.” He says in a singsong voice. “Just checking”

Kuroo smirks then, and it’s beautiful. “Oh ho? Really?” he asks, and, lightning-fast turns to poke at the place under Koutarou’s armpit that brings a stream of giggles pouring out of his mouth. “Oh, you’re on.” He says, between peals of laughter, and then they’re both rolling around on the bed like they are still first years in high school. And Akaashi’s seated on one corner of it with the laptop, a peaceful little smile on his face.

The tickle fight dies down when both their stomachs hurt too much and they're gasping for breath. Kuroo is laying half on top of him, face flushed and hair falling in every direction. They stare at each other for a second and then Kuroo turns to look at Akaashi, a question in his eyes.

The younger man laughs. “You never have to ask.” He says, loving and tranquil and so perfect.

And for good measure. Koutarou grabs his head and pulls him into a kiss that’s too messy and too warm.

And when Kuroo kisses him back, he knows he wouldn’t change even a bit of it.

.

.

Spring and its allergies come as they have for the past twenty years.

But this time spring also brings Akiteru’s wedding, and Sawamura and Sugawara’s -unofficial, because it’s still not legal in Japan, but still-.

And the announcement of Kyoko and Tanaka’s to be held in autumn.

Kei sometimes thinks he’s lucky to be able to get away with wearing the same tuxedo for all formal events. He would go out of his head if he had to pick and choose a dress and shoes and what-nots for each. 

Well, he is but that’s beside the point.

Because really, he’s so happy for his sempai’s and Akiteru, the look on his brother’s face when Saeko pops two champagne bottles at the same time at the reception makes the large quantities of antihistaminic medication that Kei had to have for the outdoor wedding more than worth it.

But it’s a lot of sunshine and flowers for him, it would have been if he weren’t… well, a mess.

When Kei thinks he can’t miss them more he drives by a vet office, he sees someone wearing eyeliner the way Akaashi likes to, he spots someone sketching birds at the park. They’re everywhere, and he figures it comes from knowing them so well, but even perfectly mundane and unremarkable things bring forth the sound of Kuroo’s laugh to his mind, the way Akaashi’s snores manage to be cute, how Bokuto makes that little satisfied sound when he eats ice cream after a run.

A year ago, they probably were jogging together.

Since he joined the Sendai frogs two months ago it has been worse, but at least he memories that the court dredges up are less painful, he remembers Akaashi and his little strategies to get Bokuto out of a funk, Bokuto and his ridiculous spikes, the triumphant grin on Kuroo’s face when they won the college national championships.

And at least, when he’s tired he doesn't dream of them.

Kei takes a deep breath and drains his glass of champagne-the second one-. The line to congratulate Suga and Sawamura seems to have gotten shorter, at last, so he steps up to them and smiles sincerely fro the first time since Akiteru’s wedding in April. “Congratulations to both of you.” He bows, noting how blissful they seem, Suga has flowers in his hair and he looks all the more radiant for it.

“Tsukishima.” The silver-haired man hugs him. “No need to bow. Come around our house whenever.” 

Sawamura laughs, looking upon his -apparently slightly inebriated- husband with eyes teeming with adoration. “Do you mind if I have a word with him for a second, Koushi?” he asks

Sugawara waves them off, smiling brightly.

Sawamura pulls him aside behind a large floral arrangement -apparently Suga’s sister owns a flower shop- he smiles at Kei. “How are things going?” he says, And suddenly, though he has a whole foot on him, Kei feels like he’s as tall as a grade-schooler.

“Uh, fine?” he looks away. 

“That’s good. “ the other says, smile never faltering, it’s starting to be scary. “You know, we’ve been worried about you. Asahi said you looked pretty bad in December, and then you told us we couldn’t say a thing about you coming back here…”

Kei takes a deep breath. Sometimes he regrets his reckless decision to flee to Asahi’s, maybe he could have had a cleaner break if it had been better planned and involved fewer people. though it's not like he had much of a choice. “I’m sorry for worrying you. I had a hard year, but I’m doing well now.”

“Oh.” His old captain raises an eyebrow at him in a gesture so like Sugawara that it’s frightening. “So I can finally tell Bokuto that you transferred here?”

Kei freezes. “He’s still asking?”

Sawamura glares at him pointedly. “Every week.”

“I-“ It has been more than five months, and while Kei would like to hide under a rock for the rest of his life, he figures it’s time he stops acting like a man on the run. “Sure.” He tries to seem nonchalant, but Sawamura sees through it, he snatches a flute of champagne from one of the nearby tables and hands it to Kei.

“Don’t forget we’re here if you need anything,” Sawamura says, before heading back to his husband.

And Kei wonders if there's anyone in the world that could help him with what he needs, or at least what he feels like he needs.

.

.

August sees record-breaking temperatures.

Tetsuro is walking back home from volleyball practice on a Friday when he hears the little whine, he’s sweaty and tired, and the only reason he even looks is because he knows a kitten when he hears one. He’s going to be a vet after all.

He walks down the sketchy-as-hell alley to find the sound comes from a cardboard box, where, abandoned in the hellish heat, he finds two kittens.

Pulling out his phone, he checks the time, it’s after eight pm. He sighs and turns on the flashlight. Both of them look to be around four to five weeks old and alert enough. Tetsuro figures they haven’t been here for too long, they don’t seem lethargic or too dehydrated.

The one closest to him, a little grey tabby looks up at him and meows. It almost sounds demanding, and Tetsuro is instantly in love with it.

The other, -white with grey spots on his belly and til- fusses, hissing, and spitting when he picks up the box.

Tetsuro takes a deep breath, he knows there's a few vet clinics that do nights close by. But then they look well enough and, courtesy of a couple of pharma visits, he has supplies to feed them at home, -he was planning on donating those, but oh well-.

He reaches in, looking over the kittens once more before he sets off for the apartment.

When he opens the door he’s met with the sight of Bokuto lying sideways on the couch, laughing at something on the TV and the tell-tale sounds of Akaashi cooking in the kitchen. “Tetsu, hey!” Bokuto crows, instantly jumping out from the couch and walking up to him. “What do you have there?”

He hesitates a little. On one hand, he didn’t call to ask, and he feels kind of embarrassed. He places a little kiss to Bokuto's lips. “I found them in that alley you don’t like to walk through.” He explains. “It’s so hot out, I didn't want to leave them.”

“Tetsu, they’re so cute,” Bokuto says, reaching a hand into the box.

“Hey, be-“ And of course, Tetsuro’s warning comes too late, the white one hisses an immediately attacks Bokuto’s hand with all it's little teeth and claws.

“Ow!” Bokuto says, pulling out the hand, clinging kitten and all. He smooths the large fingers of his other hand over the little body until the cat relaxes, and within a second it’s nuzzling the other’s fingers. It’s Bokuto after all, t’s not surprising. “You’re going to be Coco,

isn't that right kitty?” Bokuto coos at the kitten that’s about the size of his hand.

That’s right when Akaashi comes walking from the kitchen “Tetsu, you're home- wha-“ His eyes widen, seeking Tetsuro holding a box -where the grey tabby is, it has been meowing distressedly since Bokuto took the other- and Bokuto with a kitten in his hands. “Did you bring these home?” he asks, curiously peering into the box.

The tabby looks at him for a second, then resumes that demanding little meow he's been making. “Uh-“ Tetsuro stammers while Akaashi reaches into the box -letting the cat smell him first, thankfully- “They were in this box in an alley, I can see if anyone wants them at the clinic tomorrow if you-“

“Hey, hey! No?” Bokuto is glaring at him from where he’s stroking the white-and grey cat. “I already bonded with Coco.”

Akaashi, who is gently cradling the other in his hands, gives Kuroo a fond, yet resigned look. “I guess we have cats now.” He says, scratching at the kitten's belly. “Is this one a boy or a girl?” he asks softly.

“I think they’re both male,” Tetsuro answers a bit thrown for a loop, bringing a hand up to brush gently over the little fuzzy head. “Do you want to name him?”

“You don’t want to?” Akaashi asks, tender blue eyes looking up at him. Tetsuro leans in and kisses the tip of his nose.

“Nah, I’d rather see what you come up with, I have no imagination for those kinds of things.” He answers.

“The other one is named Coco, I don't think he's going to need a creative name.” Akaashi snorts. “Well, let's see.” He hums. “Baudelaire, no, we’ll end up calling him Beau and..” he looks and Bokuto. “No, Dostoyevsky… No, mouthful.”

Tetsuro laughs and sets the box down. “I’ll go make some milk for them, you keep thinking of a name.”

“Please turn off the stove,” Akaashi mutters, distracted. “Dinner’s done.”

Tetsuro does as he’s bid and then sets to preparing the kittens meal, they ought to be able to feed them soft food soon, but they’re going to have to use syringes, for now, luckily he’s interning at a little vet clinic and his boss will probably not be mad if he brings them around on Monday.

He’s almost done with the syringes when the thought assaults him.

It doesn’t happen as often anymore.

And still, he can't help but wonder what Tsukishima would do. With the kittens… with everything. Tetsuro knows the other still hasn’t unblocked his number, but with time passing, every time he gets more and more curious about the blond.

The last they learned was a couple of months ago from Sawamura, who was finally allowed to tell them that Tsukishima transferred to Sendai Uni, and that he’s playing semi-pro. It looks like his life is going well, and Tetsuro feels awful for thinking about him in this light.

Because Tsukishima didn’t want them, that's that. And it’s not wrong of the blond, it's his right, but it still hurts.

All three of them.

He sees it in Bokuto who has taken to jogging on the machines at the gym, in Akaashi who sometimes sets an extra place at the table.

In himself, every single time he wakes up and the blond isn’t there.

“I picked a name.” Akaashi’s voice startles him, he’s still carrying the kitten. “He’s Lord Byron,” Akaashi says, holding it up, completely serious.

Tetsuro can’t help the peal of laughter that rises up his throat. “Byron?”

“Lord Byron.” Akaashi repeats.

Tetsuro laughs again. “Ok, c'mon, I’m going to need you guys to know how to feed them too.” He says, carrying the milk-substitute filled syringes back to the living room, where somehow, Bokuto has found a clean shoe box and made a little bed with one of his hoodies.

“Look guys!” he exclaims, face lit up like a kid’s on Christmas morning.

“Coco and Lord Byron, huh?” Tetsuro smiles.

There’s a little tug at his sleeve. Lord Byron is trying to climb on him. Tetsuro grabs the fluffy thing, looking into its little eyes.

“Kuroo.” Akaashi is looking up at him with soft eyes, just as blue as the kitten's.  Tetsuro turns to look at him. “Thank you,” Akaashi says simply, pressing a short kiss to Tetsuro’s lips before walking ahead.

.

.

It’s definitely the most adventurous birthday he’s had yet.

Koutarou shivers, not from cold, but anticipation. He can hear Kuroo’s breathing somewhere in the room and a shuffling that’s probably Akaashi looking for something.

But he can't see anything and his hands are deftly tied to the headboard.

Not that he’s complaining, like at all. He can only imagine what his lovers have in store for tonight.

Something brushes up his side, feather-soft and so delicate, then he hears Akaashi’s voice close to his face. “Kou, baby.” He says, lips pressing tenderly to his cheek. “Are you comfortable?” he asks, those fingers coming up to brush over his bound hands. “Do you need me to loosen them up?” 

Koutarou grins, the definition of uncomfortable is a bit loose, he has been hard since they were at that restaurant and Kuroo started telling him -with a completely straight face- what he and Akaashi had planned, and that was more than half an hour ago. “It’s fine ‘Kaashi.” He says, turning to the younger man, seeking that mouth. 

Akaashi chuckles, just out of reach. “You’re too impatient.” He purrs, sliding his hand down Koutarou’s chest, stroking over his hipbone, never getting close enough where he’s painfully hard and dripping precum over his own stomach. 

“We could keep him like that a little more, don’t you think?” it’s Kuroo, his voice slightly lower and darker than Akaashi’s, a calloused hand glides up his leg. “His quads are twitching.” He says, hand splaying over the muscle, so warm and large, Koutarou needs him to move it up just a little. "So cute."

He pouts. “Nooo.” he whines. “Kuroo don’t be mean.”

“Ho? It’s Kuroo now?” he gasps dramatically, nails digging into Koutarou’s thigh. “You’re terrible.”

“Tetsu.” Koutarou whimpers. “Just a little further up.” There’s no answer. “Please?”

The hand on his leg disappears for a second, and then that low voice is right beside his ear. “Nah, you’re going to have to wait for Keiji.” Kuroo sucks the lobe of his ear not his mouth, and Koutarou whimpers again. “You should see him, he’s so pretty.” He says.

Koutarou strains to hear, he’s sure that somewhere in the background he can hear he wet sounds of Akaashi preparing himself, but the man is being very quiet, like he’s hoping Koutarou will be looking for the sound. “Tetsu, please.” He tries again.

“Mmm no.” His tone is playful and soft. “We can always have fun for a bit though, and if you’re good for Keiji, I’ll fuck you next. How’s that sound?”

Koutarou squirms at the thought, he feels gooseflesh rise all over his body. “Sounds good Tetsu.” He croaks, head-turning to look for his lover's mouth. Kuroo humors him, lips meeting Koutarou’s hungrily, sucking his tongue into the dark-haired man’s mouth in a way that makes Koutarou’s stomach tingle.

He feels Kuroo’s hand sliding down his chest, pinching here, stroking there, god Kuroo knows him well, Koutarou whines again. “Pretty please Tetsu.” And his voice is rough, pleading. “I’ll be good, I’ll wait for ‘Kaashi but please.”

“You mean that?” Kuroo chuckles and Koutarou nods his head frantically. “Promise?”

“Promise, Tetsu.”

There’s a hum by his ear and then Kuroo kisses him once more before disappearing, Koutarou is about to call for him using every expletive ever created, when he hears the telltale sound of a bottle of lube being opened. “Remember, you promised,” Kuroo says, voice so smug, breath brushing over the head of Koutarou’s -until now- neglected cock. 

“Ah-“ Koutarou wants to rebuff him, but Kuroo doesn’t wait for him to speak, he nudges Koutarou’s legs apart and settles between them. Immediately after, he’s lapping at the head of his cock, little licks that are barely enough and make Koutarou wiggle every time. “Ah- Fuck- Kuroo.”

There’s a short pause, Koutarou feels a finger ever so slowly begin to tease at his hole. “Oh, what was that?” Kuroo says, again, blowing warm air on Koutarou’s arousal, slick finger sliding in slowly.

“Please Tetsu.” He concedes, bucking his hips upwards. He hears Akaashi's muffled laugh and feels a weight settle on the bed. 

“Aw babe, you're ready?” Kuroo asks.

Akaashi hums. “You can play with him for a bit still, I want to watch.” And his voice is impish and teasing, it makes Koutarou’s head spin. He can imagine the twin smirks on their faces. 

“Only because you said so.” Kuroo answers, and then Koutarou is being licked again, a hot tongue sliding down his shaft and lapping at his balls. He barely feels Kuroo’s finger, slowly pumping in and out of him, and when the dark-haired man goes on to swallow him whole, Koutarou clutches the headboard.

Akaashi’s voice drifts up to him “I can't believe he can take all of you, Kou.” He says, voice charged with want, a set of perfectly buffed fingernails scratching down his chest, leaving trails of heat in their wake. “He doesn’t even gag. So naughty, don’t you think?”

Koutarou is out of his mind. “He bucks his hips into Kuroo’s mouth, though the other man barely seems to notice. He keeps bobbing his head, and slides a second finger beside the fist, teasingly brushing at Koutarou’s prostate once in a while, but never outright pressing it. “Tetsu, you're teasing- Ahh. Fuck.”

Through it all, Akaashi has settled on his side, voice mellifluous while he talks Koutarou through it, fingers pulling and playing with his nipples. By the time Kuroo inserts the third finger, Koutarou is pretty much incoherent, he keeps thrusting upward and begging. “But you promised you’d wait. Kou-ta-rou.” Kuroo says, lifting his head. “Maybe if you ask Keiji.”

Head-turning to the side where Keiji is -or where he just was- Koutarou pants. “Please Keiji, I’m so close, please.”

There's a little laugh and Akaashi lays a little peck on his lips. “Of course Kou, it’s your birthday after all.” He says, and Koutarou feels the bed shift until Akaashi’s thighs settle on his sides.  

He is too worked up to answer, and Akaashi seems to have been preparing for a while because he lines Koutarou up with his opening and immediately takes him to the hilt. He can feel those lean thighs quivering on each side of his body, and Akaashi lets out a sound that may be a scream, a moan, or both. 

After a second, the younger man starts moving, carefully bouncing up and down at first, and then on an increasing tempo, his thighs are still trembling, but Akaashi continues and Koutarou cant help the sounds it tears from him. “Tetsu, please. I want to see him.” he grunts, hips snapping up, making Akaashi cry out.

The blindfold is lifted from his eyes, and Koutarou almost comes on the spot, Akaashi is sitting on his cock, mindlessly bouncing on it, panting and writhing, his eyes rolling into the back of his head. Kuroo is sitting behind him, smirk wide and wicked, hands gripping Akaashi's hip's and helping him keep balance, viciously sliding him up and down Koutarou's shaft when he slows down. “Like the view Kou?" He asks, lifting Akaashi’s hips and bringing them down with force, the younger man keens and throws his head back.

“He’s so pretty.” Koutarou pants, hips snapping up in earnest now, hands unconsciously tugging at the headboard. “Please touch him Tetsu.” 

Kuroo obeys without question, his hand wraps around Akaashi’s bouncing cock, and said man groans.”Look at him, he’s so gone for you, Keiji.” Kuroo whispers in his ear and Akaashi’s hazy blue eyes snap open, meeting Koutarou’s immediately.

It’s enough, with a high pitched moan, Akaashi stiffens in Kuroo's arms, shooting his completion all over Koutarou’s stomach.

And Koutarou is so close, and then he sees the predatory look in Kuroo's eyes and feels the coil in his belly snap too, coming into the panting Akaashi.

When he finally manages to calm down his breathing, he notices Kuroo gently laying Akaashi down beside him. The younger man turns to his side to smile at Koutarou, soft and sated. A hand cups Koutarou’s face, and he feels Kuroo slip between his legs again. “Be good for Tetsu, love.” Akaashi says with that sweet, mesmerizing voice. Though he just came, Koutarou feels his dick begin to fill again. 

He looks up to where Kuroo is trailing his fingers over Koutarou’s inner thighs. Upon noticing his gaze Kuroo bends down to suck a hickey on the sensitive skin of his upper thigh, eyes never leaving Koutarou’s.

Akaashi pulls himself closer, peppering Koutarou’s face with soft kisses. 

He swallows hard and gives Kuroo a little nod.

The dark-haired man doesn’t need another sign, he lines himself up with Koutarou’s hole and slips in slowly. It stings, but Akaashi soothes him. “You’re so good love, so good.” He praises, thumbs trailing over his cheekbones. “You look so hot taking Tetsu like this.” He says, reaching out to undo the knot that ties Koutarou to the headboard.

Once free, he slips his hands, which are still tied together, over Kuroo’s head, pulling the other man close. “Tetsu.” He pants, and Kuroo starts thrusting slowly, each thrust he pulls out almost to the tip and slams back in, it hits Koutarou’s prostate dead-on, making him squirm and moan.

Fuck Kuroo does know him too well, his bound hands cling to each other and he pulls Kuroo forward, devouring that smug smirk. Koutarou’s already hard again and he prays that the tanned hand that comes up to toy with his lower lip has plans on going to his cock next.

But that does not seem to be What Kuroo wants, he slides his thumb into Koutarou’s mouth, “Suck Kou.” He grunts, thrusts turning faster but just as deep. 

And Koutarou does, mesmerized by the look in those eyes, with Akaashi whispering praises int his ear. Against all odds, he feels that rope of heat start coiling in his belly again, he gasps around the finger in his mouth, which Kuroo seems to take as an invitation to put in another.

Koutarou moans around the digits, eyes rolling into the back of his head. “You can come just being fucked, right Koutarou?” Kuroo whispers, just loud enough that all three of them can hear it. 

Akaashi speaks, thankfully because Koutarou is in no state for speaking. “Of course he can.” He says, sucking at Koutarou’s earlobe. “He likes it, don’t you love?”

And oh, Koutarou does, he can’t really talk around Kuroo’s fingers, but he nods vigorously, and whines when they are taken away, only for Kuroo to brace himself beside his head and redouble the speed of his thrusts. "I know you can.2 he says, all the love in the world filling those eyes. "C'mon Kou."

It’s too much, Koutarou comes, moaning and twitching, overstimulated. Kuroo follows him soon enough, panting, face hidden in Koutarou’s shoulder.

Akaashi quickly undoes the rope still binding his wrists together, rubbing at the skin of his wrists. “You’re going to have to wear sleeves.” He says sweetly, while kissing the inside of his wrist. 

Koutarou chuckles. “Worth it.” He says weakly, pulling Kuroo so his head rests more comfortably on Koutarou’s shoulder. “So worth it.” He's sleepy now, his head burrows deeper into the pillow. 

“Kou we have to clean up,” Akaashi says, but he’s already cuddled up to Kuroo's body, his arms around him protectively.

There’s a quiet chuckle beside his ear. Kuroo’s voice is sweet. “I love you.” He says, settling deeper into Koutarou's arms.

“Mm, love you too.” Koutarou says before he finally drifts off.

.

.

It’s not until his birthday that Kei dares to try to date again.

If one can even call letting himself be picked up at a bar by a guy with bleached-white hair and a wide, almost familiar grin.

He’s drunker than he has been in ages, having shunned alcohol and social gatherings with few exceptions since December.

When he wakes up in a strange bed, with lukewarm autumn sunlight streaming across his face, he immediately rolls over into Bokuto’s warm embrace.

Only it isn’t Bokuto at all.

Kei wants to puke.

He leaves, and stops hanging out at bars.

.

.

That he no longer hangs out at bars doesn’t mean Kei stops drinking.

Not that he does it often or anything, but then Yamaguchi’s birthday comes around, it’s November again and the air is getting colder and colder.

And almost a year ago, there was another birthday and Kei was-

No, that’s something he shouldn’t be thinking about. It’s no use to dwell on lost friends -or lovers, or whatever, he lost three, not just one and it’s sometimes bad enough to make his chest physically hurt- when Yamaguchi, who has been the most patient, most loyal friend is celebrating his twenty-first.

And Kei goes a little too hard about it.

They’re at his house, an ill-advised choice brought on only by the fact that Kei’s parents are on a trip and Nishinoya has been back for a month -and only fifteen days of that month have actually been spent in Sendai- and he’s already managed to get banned from like five bars.

Tanaka isn’t much better, he’s been a newlywed for over a month -does the term still apply? Kei thinks it shouldn’t, and the reckless drive he seems to dredge from that is still going strong.

They do need a more controlled ambiance -and Kei did promise he would stop dousing his emotions with casual sex to see if they will wither away at some point-, but the fact that it’s his house is a bit unsettling.

All in all, it doesn’t turn out too bad. Nishinoya quite literally strips everyone down to their underwear through newly acquired abilities to cheat at poker -he apparently spent some time in Vegas- and Kei gets drunk enough that he sings some random k-pop song that Bokuto likes. By half-past three am everyone’s yawning and slowly tricking out of the house, Kei sleepily bids them goodbye, slumped over the banister of the stairs. 

The last one to leave is Yachi, who pecks Tadashi on the lips and promises to be back in the morning with something hangover-suitable. 

Kei drags himself to where Tadashi is lying on the couch, hair falling out of his ponytail, a tie around his head. He sits on the floor, back leaning against the couch, Tadashi seems content with humming some song, smiling softly, and Kei, being the good friend that he is, decides to document the moment.

He pulls out his phone, only to see that he has an Instagram notification from-

It can’t be.

He has an account yes, it even has his name, his first name and he only has like two pictures, one of Sugawara’s cacti collection and another of some random cat that he took on that vacation that he’s not supposed to think about- dammit.

Mostly, he lurks, and the only posts he likes are Tadashi’s or Akiteru’s.

But somehow, Bokuto has sent him four messages.

Against his best instincts, he opens the conversation.

Apparently, at some point in this ghastly night -exactly a quarter to one, so before Nishinoya tricked him out of his clothes- he’s sent a mildly embarrassing message to Bokut in reply to a story that- Oh.

It's just a short video where Bokuto jumps into the screen, wearing a black Jersey with distinctive markings and then jumps, revealing the number on the back. “Hey, hey, hey, guess who’s a black Jackal now?!” he yells and then the video ends.

Kei goes back to the conversation.

FROM: ME -00:45

Im really happy for you, congrats, you deserve that V1 league shirt a lottt 

You’ve earned it <3

Will b watching your matches.

FROM: BOKUTO KOUTAROU – 02:47

Why Hotaru-chan thank you.

I appreciate your support, I’ve been so wired I can’t sleep!

Hotaru?

Bokuto read his name wrong, it seems, and Kei’s mad for a second. He’s really that forgettable huh? Though this might be for the best, nothing about the account is identifiable and Bokuto has a bunch of followers.

He’s kept from seeking any of them out for almost a year now, it would be so stupid for him to fail like this.

It’s s like Bokuto to answer a -clearly drunk- stranger.

“Tsukki, are you crying?” Tadashi has moved at some point, he’s staring over Kei’s shoulder at his phone, swaying slightly. “Are you finally talking to Bokuto-san again?” Tadashi doesn’t know the details about why Kei came back, he assumed it was just about Kuroo in the beginning and Kei felt too weak and ashamed to contradict him at the time. “You know-“ he hiccups. “He blew up my phone for like two weeks after you came back. I don’t even know how he got my number.”

Kei looks down, only now noticing how blurry his glasses are. He takes them off to see fresh tears on the glass. “He’s persistent.”

Tadashi rests his chin on Kei's shoulder. “He had something to do with why you came back didn’t he?” he asks, voice slurred.”I didn't wanna say anything cuz I know you’re like really hurt.”

Kei huffs. “Then why say it.”

“Cuz I’m your best friend and I want to know.” Yamaguchi laughs. “And it’s my birthday, you have to humor me.”

Kei turns around, quite wobbly himself, his eyes meet Tadashi’s green ones and he sighs. “It’s not even your birthday anymore.” He accuses, sniffing as he does, he must look so ridiculous. “But if you really want to know how much of an idiot I was…”

“I do, I do.” Tadashi perks up.

So Kei tells it all, in painstaking detail, pausing to cry a couple of times. At least he has the alcohol to blame for telling.

At least something other than him is at fault, even if it’s just for that.

.

.

Tadashi insists that Kei should talk to them, while they are having Yachi’s miraculous hangover breakfast, the next morning.

Kei shuts him down.

And when the green-haired man mutters that he would really appreciate an apology if he were in their shoes Kei ignores him.

It’s not like he hasn't thought about it.

But shame and guilt are excellent restraints.

.

.

They spend their first Christmas Eve with Keiji’s mom. 

Not that any of them are particularly religious, but Bokuto’s family is on a trip -that he didn’t get to tag along in because he still has practice- and Kuroo is going to see his family the next day anyways.

Akaashi Miyuki dropped by to meet the cats unannounced, on the day after Kuroo’s birthday and found them all in bed, and quite naked. After a very uncomfortable conversation with Keiji -and another even more uncomfortable one with Kuroo and Bokuto- she simply smiled and said that they were to choose a holiday to spend with her when she actually would be in the country.

Considering that her reaction was the best of any other possible scenarios upon finding her son naked, in bed, with two men, no one even thought of saying no.

And so they are here. Bokuto -because he and kitchens should never mix- and Keiji -because a guest should never be left alone- are waiting in the living room, in the ugly Christmas sweaters that Bokuto’s mom knit for them, while Kuroo helps make dinner.

“I think she likes him more than us,” Keiji whispers, leaning on Bokuto’s shoulder. 

His boyfriend responds by giggling conspiratorially and kissing his forehead. “Hard not to, we’d live off takeout without him.”

“I cook Kou.” Keiji says, laughing. “Not often and mostly just coffee but I do.”

 “Sure honeybunch.” He grins down at Keiji, who rolls his eyes and snuggles closer. “This totally beats last year, huh?”

Keiji hums. “Everything beats last year.” Last year they spent it separately, the shadow of Tsukishima’s disappearance from their lives only a week old. When they all got home after midnight it devolved into a how-much-alcohol-until-I’m-not-sad-anymore contest. Bokuto puked in a faucet, it was that bad.

“Yeah.” Bokuto sags against him. “But we’re happy now.” He sighs.

Keiji knows his boyfriend too well. “What’s on your mind Kou?” he asks. 

“I dunno.” Bokuto says. “I keep thinking that if I didn’t fuck up at the park-”

It falls like a stone on Keiji stomach. “It’s not your fault.” He says, burying his head on the other’s shoulder. “We all could’ve done things better. But in the end, he chose.”

“I know,” Bokuto says, low and rough. “You know, last month this girl named Hotaru wrote to me on Insta, I thought it was him for a second, and I was happy.”

“I thought I saw him at Uni the other day.” Keiji offers. “I have a few times actually. But he’s gone, I guess even if we still lo- have feelings for him we have to accept it.”

Bokuto pouts, Keiji knows, even not seeing his face. “I know, for us and for Tetsu.” He says looking up at the kitchen doorway. Then he smiles softly, that private smile Keiji knows it’s just for the three of them. “Wanna know a secret ‘kaashi?”

He smiles back, and the knot in the back of his throat -the one that’s somewhat ever-present- softens. “What Kou?”

Bokuto kisses him, short and sweet. “I love you guys even more now.”

“Hey what are you two doing getting cozy without me?” Kuroo hollers from where he’s setting a platter on the table.

“We’ll save you your kisses, Tetsu,” Bokuto calls.

.

.

 Koutarou is enjoying his amazing Christmas eve dinner when the question is asked.

And he almost chokes to death on a piece of pork, which is actually lucky because it distracts everyone’s attention.

Akaashi’s mom is, has always been, super-nice, and she’s like very taken with Kuroo. He’s been praising his cooking, his career path, everything since they sat down to eat.

So it’s not out of place when she says. “Kuroo-kun, really, your mother must be amazing at cooking to have taught you this much. What does she do?”

It’s not out of place but Koutarou would rather she went back to that awful discussion they had about whether they and her son were being safe. Because Kuroo’s mom is not someone that should be mentioned, like ever.

The only reason Koutarou knows bout the whole ordeal is because he was there for part of it. 

However, it seems that him almost coughing his lungs out into Miyuki-san’s nice place mats that she brought all the way from Kenya isn’t enough for her to forget about it. “Oh where were we?” she asks. “Your mother right?”

Kuroo goes even paler than the first time, he clears his throat. And in the most polite and measured tone that Koutarou has ever heard him use, he speaks. “My mother is not a part of our life, I don’t really know much about her.”

Miyuki blanches too. “Oh, sorry I didn't mean to pry Kuroo-kun, I hope you can forgive him.”

“It’s alright.” Kuroo smiles wanly. “It was a completely normal question.” Koutarou can feel Keiji’s eyes drilling into his forehead, he avoids looking at him, this is kind of Kuroo’s thing to tell and he doesn’t want to give away anything

She smiles. “You’re too kind, I’m sure my husband would have loved to see Keiji with you two.” She says glancing at a framed picture on the living room -Akaashi’s dad died when he was two, he was a pilot, his son barely remembers him-.

The rest of the dinner isn’t awkward at all, but there’s certainly a faraway air about Kuroo. Miyuki bids them goodbye at the door with a smile and enough leftovers for them to gorge on for at least three days.

-which, being them, means a lot of leftovers-

They pile into Tetsuro’s car and drive to the apartment where the cats are waiting, both the little beasts demanding and slightly annoyed at there being no one warm in the bed to cuddle up to. Koutarou and Akaashi take care of the many Tupperware boxes and cleaning the litterboxes while Kuroo changes into his pajamas.

By the time they are done, they enter the master bedroom -and it’s new, larger bed- to find Kuroo absently scrolling through his Twitter feed, Coco sitting on his chest, and Lord Byron by his feet, both cats purring loudly. 

Koutarou shoots Keiji a look.

Each of them settles on one side of Kuroo. After the first few days of sleeping together they settled on Akaashi being in the middle, seeing as he gets up the latest, but tonight it feels necessary. “You two don’t need to worry about me, it’s fine” Kuroo says, even as he’s pulled into Koutarou’s arms.

Akaashi settles close to the other, fingers running through the black, messy hair. “I know, but we love you and we do.” He says softly. “I don’t really know what happened there, and it’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it but-“

“But you’re not escaping the cuddles.” Koutarou comments, pulling him closer.

In his arms, Kuroo sighs. 

“No, I think I should tell you.”

.

.

He doesn’t like to tell this story for obvious reasons, but also because everyone makes such a big deal out of it… And yeah, it sucks, but it’s not like making a fuss helps with that.

Still, this is his lover, and Tetsuro wants to tell him, he doesn’t want Akaashi to get the impression that he doesn’t trust him.

He tries to lean in deeper into both Bokuto’s body, steady behind him, and Akaashi’s soothing hands in his hair. Coco startles and daintily walks down to where Lord Byron is glaring at them from the foot of the bed.

Eyes closed, he begins to talk. “My mom left my dad and me when I was seven.” He says. “They fought all the time, I didn’t know about what, but it was almost every night and they went on until past midnight. I didn’t get much sleep.” He chuckles darkly. “I never knew at the time but she was cheating on him, dad never said a word to me, but then one day I came home and her stuff was gone.”

Akaashi’s hands are trailing up and down his necks now, feather-soft and loving. 

“Dad just said it was for the best and that we were moving.” Tetsuro tries to keep his tone even. “And we did, I never heard anything from her. But then I turned fifteen and overheard my dad talking to her on the phone, they were discussing money. I managed to get the number one day when dad wasn’t looking.”

Bokuto’s body stiffens behind him, the owl knows what’s coming, he and Tetsuro were already friends by then and he’s the only person he's told about it besides Kenma.

“I called and asked to see her. She said yes.” Tetsuro continues. “We met at the mall, and she was- let's just say that she didn’t want to see me. She begged me not to seek her out again because her other family is not aware that she was married before. And she said that there was no place in her life for me.” His voice trembles a bit with that last one, not quite because of the memory of his mother, long since accepted, but one much more recent. “And then she left.” He says, opening his eyes to Akaashi’s worried face.

The younger man scoots closer and hugs him. “I’m sorry, that’s- that’s awful.” He says.

“I mean I’m over it, mostly.” Tetsuro says, letting himself melt in their grip. “It sucks but now it’s only awkward to talk about when someone asks, even if they’re doing it to be nice and sweet like your Ma.”

“Still…” Akaashi trails off, now pressing little kisses all over his face. “We’re here for you Tetsu.” He says quietly.

“We love you Tetsu.” Bokuto whispers behind him, warm breath fanning over his ear.

Coco comes back to sit on top of him, and then, warm between his two lovers, Tetsuro knows he isn’t lying. “Thank you.” He says. “But I think I’m fine now. I love you two too.”

And then Bokuto’s arm leaves him for a second to flick at the light switch above the bed. It comes back to wrap around him again soon after, and Tetsuro sleeps through the night.

.

.

Kei’s third and final year of college starts as normally as one could expect.

He’s swamped looking at places that might want to hire him -he gets a letter form the NSM in Tokyo, even, and isn't that ironic?- and also with papers, a surprising amount of papers.

That and Volleyball keeps him occupied enough, the V2 league is busy when in season and as it is, if Kei wanted to he could have some sort of future in it.

He’s not that sure he wants to though.

At least not full time. His contract ends next march, he might decide to deescalate by then, depending on whether he lands a decent place for a first job or not.

Yes, everything is somewhat stable, he leads a mostly quiet life where all that really disturbs him is his mother occasionally trying to set him up with her friend’s sons. She’s just trying to be helpful, and besides, at least she’s not trying to get him to date women.

-his dad did it, once and ended up spending the night on the couch for his trouble-

So it’s peaceful, at least until a stream of messages lights up the Karasuno group chat on a fine Thursday morning.

@THE 2016 G :D

FROM: WALKING TANGERINE -8:23

YOU GUYSSSSSSS

REMEMBER WHEN I SAID I WAS GOING TO TRYOUTS

BEFORE I WENT UP TO MIYAGI

EVEN THOUGH IT WAS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO WORK OUT

WELL SIKEEE IT DID!!

(Take that Saltyshima)

GUESS WHOS ON A PRO TEAM

FROM: YAMAGUCHI TADASHI -8:29

Congrats!!!

What team? 

Now I have two friends in Pro teams ;)

FROM: YACHI HITOKA -8:34

Congratulations! I’m so happy for you. 

FROM: MILKBOY -8:36

Good for you.

Finally, going to keep that promise?

FROM: WALKING TANGERINE -8:40

OF COURSE BAKAGEYAMA!

**image attached**

**image attached**

GUESS WHO’S HOWLING?

(Do Jackals howl?)

ANYWAYS, I’M COMING UP TOMORROW, WE SHOULD HANG OUT.

Kei has to swallow hard a couple of times, the photo’s are of Hinata quite distinctively wearing the Black Jackals' jersey, on the foreground he can see, cr as day, two familiar forms, one with a shock of silver hair, the other, shorter all lean and graceful lines.

It’s the first photo he sees of Akaashi in a year.

For a second he considers not going to whatever this thing Hinata is proposing is. But then he’s supposed to not care so much anymore, he shoots a small, uncharacteristically polite text to the group chat and proceeds to go get the hottest, most bitter cup of coffee he can find.

They do, indeed meet up the next day.

Kei shows up at the little bar slightly late, spotting the distinctive orange head beside Yamaguchi and Yachi’s he shoves a bag from a popular sports store into Hinata’s hands and slides into his usual seat beside Yamaguchi. “Congrats.” he grumbles.

“You’re still a delight, aren’t you?” Hinata answers with a frown. “So as I was saying-“

And then he’s treated to a recounting of literally the past two years of Hinata’s life -and sworn to silence when it comes to the fact that he apparently managed to not only bump but also hook up with Oikawa halfway around the world, if it were to become common knowledge Kageyama would have a fit-, not like that’s a bad thing, it’s interesting.

Though he'd never let the other know.

“I can’t believe-“ Yamaguchi exclaims. “Wasn’t he dating Iwaizumi?”

Hinata shrugs. “Apparently they broke up before he went to Argentina, Iwaizumi is n the States anyways, can you please stop coming back to that? I just wanted to tell someone.”

“Well, it’s good gossip.” Yamaguchi defends.

Hinata rolls his eyes. “It is not! There are people with way more interesting sex lives.”

“Like who?” Kei mocks. “You have to admit you hit a lot of tropes there.”

Hinata groans. “Like- Like Bokuto-san!” He counters. “He’s got two boyfriends.”

Kei freezes, and so does Tadashi beside him, for what it’s worth in these long months they’ve barely talked about the whole mess, it’s not exactly a comfortable topic. And after Kei’s absolutely negative response to Yamaguchi’s suggestion to try and talk to them again, it has become kind of a touchy subject.

One that he thinks about often, sometimes with longing, sometimes just out of a deep desire to be rid of the guilt that punches at his stomach once he remembers how childishly he left that day.

He practically ghosted them, he didn’t even say goodbye to Akaashi.

Seeing as neither of them makes the move to ask, it’s Yachi’s soft voice that rises then. “Uh what do you mean Hinata?” she asks, eyes drifting to both Kei and her boyfriend.

“Oh! That was the other thing I wanted to tell someone about.” Hinata beams. “He’s dating both Kuroo-san and Akaashi-san. They’re like super in love. Akaashi was at the tryouts watching and everything.” He boasts. “We had lunch, and they have these super cute cats-“

Kei stands up, abruptly enough that their drinks almost end up in the ground. “I’m going to the bathroom.” He all but snarls.

It’s not until he’s in one of the stalls that he begins processing the information, he kind of wants to laugh. He’s been worrying and suffering all this time and they’ve all been happily playing house back in Tokyo. “Don’t fucking kid me!” he cries, hoping no one else is in the other stalls.

Sure, he has managed to steer clear of any news of them and their social media -except for that one night on Tadashi’s birthday- and even if they are public about it that probably just means they don’t deny it, it’s not like he would’ve been seeing their love plastered all over Instagram the way straight couples do. Especially with Bokuto's career.

He can’t deny that it stings though.

Kuroo said he loved him… how long after?

They probably had a good laugh after Kei left, finally able to form their little threesome at will.

Which is, of course not something he even thought was possible, -three people in an actual relationship? he's going to have to look that one up- but then, Hinata would have no reason to make up such an outlandish lie.

He takes a few deep breaths and comes out, heading tot he faucet to splash some water on his face.

It’s no time to be crying, if anything this confirms that Kei was the one making everything all tangled and awkward. So, maybe leaving was right.

The realization doesn’t make it hurt any less.

.

.

They’re all drunk.

Completely, inexorably drunk. 

It wasn’t the plan for tonight but as it stands, Keiji knows he’s going to have a hell of a wine hangover. And that’s going to be the good thing to come out of this night, because the rest of it.

The rest of it sucks.

The room where Tsukishima slept for those few short months remained untouched for over a year, but with the increasing amount of cat furniture in the apartment and the fact that they all do have paying jobs now, -as of two months ago, Keiji is an editor at a manga magazine, not really his dream job, but it’s interesting enough- it seemed like a waste to leave it empty but for a phone charger and a bunch of volleyballs that no one dares to touch.

It barely took two hours but somehow, even with the short time and all the heavy lifting -and setting up shelves for the cats to climb on- it entailed, it was very emotionally draining.

Especially when they fount one or other little thing that distinctively belonged to the blond -a photo booth strip, a leftover dinosaur figurine behind the volleyballs, one of those soft little cloth squares that he used for cleaning his glasses-.

Keiji thought they were over it.

This has been a rather nice year, despite it all the three of them and the cats and the bigger bed, there have been moments where he has been happier than ever.

But still-

“Can we-“ Bokuto rises on the sofa like a sock puppet, cheap bottle of wine in his hand. “-agree that we miss him?” he hiccups, petting Coco who is sitting happily in his lap. 

“Even if he’s an asshat-“ Kuroo says, lifting his own bottle where he’s sitting on their fluffy rug by Bokuto’s feet. “And a little shit.”

Keiji pauses for a second, he lifts his glass. “A little shit that never even said goodbye.” He says, voice shaky and, like he just knows, Kuroo is on his feet and climbing on the sofa with him in a second.

“There baby,” he says, pulling Keiji into his arms, and taking off his glasses. “At least the room is done.”

Keiji sniffles. “Yes, at least it’s done.”

Bokuto is uncharacteristically silent. Hand stroking Lord Byron’s head.

But, for now, Keiji’s in no state to pay attention.

.

.

Koutarou is in the zone.

No really, he’s having an amazing day, despite the fact that it’s August and the heat is kind of a mood killer.

“Hey, hey! TsumTsum gimme another!” He calls, brash and loud. And Atsumu does. They’re practicing quicks and back attacks, he, the setter and Hinata, who somehow developed superpowers in Bazil-.

-no, really, sometimes it’s like he can teletransport, he’s all fwooosh-

He’s the most delightful addition to the team. And has become a rather assiduous dinner visitor at their apartment. Akaashi is extremely fond of him and he’s a favorite of Coco’s.

So when Bokuto invites him over as practice ends it’s really nothing out of the ordinary. He and Hinata head out, talking excitedly about practice, and the heat, and the fact that Atsumu is a little shit but he’s a hot little shit and Hinata has the biggest crush known to man on him.

The conversation lulls for a second and then Hinata’s demeanor changes, it’s almost… bashful? Yeah, that's the word. “Bokuto-san, can I ask you something?” he says, those wide eyes trained on Koutarou’s face.

“Sure kiddo.” Koutarou ruffles his hair. “I’m your sempai after all.”

“Umm… it’s not like that.” He says. “I just- I wanted to know what happened between you guys and Tsukishima,” he says, brow furrowing. “Remember that time you called me at like three am?”

“I didn’t know it was that early in Brazil,” Koutarou says, sheepish. Though he can’t help the tense hum that fills his body at the mention of the blond’s name.

“Well I was in Miyagi back in May and I kinda mentioned you guys and how you’re dating, and he got all like Wahhh and just, kind of ran for the bathroom.” Hinata frowns even more. “And that little traitor Yamaguchi won’t tell me anything.”

Koutarou stops, he stops walking, even stops thinking for a second. He can picture it, the sour set of Tsukishima’s mouth, his wide eyes while he -rather impolitely- excused himself. And he feels a sort of twisting, thing in his gut. He turns to look at Hinata, with his wide eyes and furrowed brow.

Is it right to tell him? He’s his teammate now and for all he knows he’s doing Tsukishima a favor if he’s so disgusted when hearing about them. Maybe like this Hinata won’t mention it.

“Well, something did happen.” He says. “D’ya wanna grab ice cream? it’s kind of a long story.”

They don’t’ go to that gelato place, Koutarou can’t really set foot in there anymore without getting into a slump, Instead, they sit outside this very pink shop with their icecream rapidly melting.

And Koutarou tells him, sparing the more R-rated details, because he doesn’t really want to think about that anyway. By the time he’s done, Hinata is gawking, mouth open, ice cream dripping down his arm. “Holy hell, who knew?” he says, astonished. “That little! How could he do that! That’s like the most cruel, fucked-“

“I know.” Koutarou cuts him off, looking out into the distance. “I know, and we never even got like an explanation or something! Like he left this stupid little note with the rent money that said ‘I will not be living here anymore, it’s better if we cut contact for now’ and just left!” Koutarou rages. “Who does that?!”

Hinata rolls his eyes, desperately trying to catch the ice cream now that he's snapped out of his shock. “Stingyshima apparently.” He grumbles. “I thought you guys had actually done something wrong! Good lord, he’s just-“ Hinata takes a deep breath. “I mean why, we all knew he liked Kuroo, and Akaashi, and- I don’t get it.” the ginger ays, pouting. “He’s either an idiot or the most unstable person ever.”

Koutaoru sighs. “Yeah, I guess.” He looks down, suddenly feeling very tired. “I wish I could like actually talk to him for once. Like at least to ask for an explanation y’know? I mean he must’ve known we liked him, but he could’ve said he wasn’t interested.”

“I know, no need to pull a runner,” Hinata says, leaning back. “Do you really want to talk to him? After all that?”

Thinking for a moment, Koutarou looks away. “I mean- yes. We all still- I-“

“Well, I’ll help you if you really want me to!” Hinata beams.

“How?” Koutarou asks. And Hinata cranes his head to the side.

“I dunno, but we could think of something.”

Maybe that would be for the best, he might get a little closure for himself and Akaashi, and Kuroo, en if it all goes wrong.

After all, it seems like Tsukishima is never going to unblock his number, no matter how many messages he sends.

“Sure.”

.

.

@THE 2016 G :D

FROM: WALKING TANGERINE -16:43

Bakageyama and I are playing each other next month at Kamei arena

And we got you all tickets.

So you’re coming.

(yes, you too Saltyshima)

.

.

FROM: ME -18:45

Of course, I’m not going.

No.

Tadashi. 

It’s no good for me and I have a class that day.

FROM: TADASHI -18:46

Pray tell, what class do you take on Saturday afternoons?

Advanced Avoidance?

Kamei is huge.

You probably won’t even see them.

And that game is going to be sick.

Hinata has been to you last two.

FROM: ME -18:50

You’re not guilting or goading me into this.

And I am pretty sure I‘ll at least see Bokuto.

Tadashi no.

03:22

Fine, but I can leave whenever I want.

And were sitting somewhere I can see people coming.

Chapter Text

Hinata doesn’t ban costumes.

Which is very good because the only plan they were able to concoct that doesn’t involve him screaming at Tsukishima from the court in front of a bunch of people requires one.

And it’s not being easy to acquire. 

He’s been sneaking around to text Sawa-san, who wears the Black Jackals’ mascot costume, for an hour and he still hasn’t found something the man might want in exchange for lending Koutarou the suit and helping him get into it as soon as the match is done.

If the prospect of getting some sort of explanation and a few things off his chest weren’t so tempting, maybe Koutarou would think twice about this, but as it is-

A pair of arms snake around his waist, startling him. “Whatcha doing Bo?” Kuroo says sleepily, nuzzling Koutarou’s neck, his soft hair making him feel ticklish. “You’re all frowny.”

“Nothing.” He answers, much too fast, and that gets Kuroo’s attention.

“Oyaa?” The dark-haired man purrs. “Were you watching something naughty?” he chuckles. “Let me see.”

Even half-asleep, Kuroo is fast, he manages to take Koutarou’s phone without much trouble, it’s a normal thing between the two of them. Koutarou scrambles for the other, but Kuroo backs up into the refrigerator, holding the phone aloft. “Uh, Bo? Why are you begging your mascot’s costume off some guy?” he lifts an eyebrow and the phone vibrates “And why did Hinata just text you that the French fry is confirmed?”

“I-“ 

Well, fuck.

Kuroo isn’t stupid. Koutarou sees the recognition in his face. Hinata has always called Tsukishima that. There’s no point in lying.

Koutarou looks down. “I’m going to talk to Tsukishima tomorrow at the match.” He says, voice unwavering. “Hinata is helping me out.”

Kuroo hands him the phone wordlessly, he looks at Koutarou for a second and stalks back to the living room, face livid.

For a second Koutarou just stares, it’s not like he hasn’t thought of how this might feel for Kuroo and Akaashi if they found out. But he really, really wants answers.

He takes a deep breath and follows.

.

.

Tetsuro sighs, looking out the apartment's window, it’s not a particularly nice view, just a city street littered with fallen foliage at this time of the year. Something nudges at his foot and he bends down to grab Coco, gently cradling the -now rather plump, they might have to put them on a diet soon- cat in his arms.

He can feel Koutarou standing beside him, he doesn’t want to acknowledge him yet though, he needs to sort out his thoughts first.

There has always been a little part of him that wonders what’s going to happen if Tsukishima comes back into their lives in some way or other, at first it seemed imminent, and it made him extremely anxious. 

After all what’s to say it wouldn’t end up with Akaashi and Bokuto having to choose between him and Tsukishima, and though he knows it’s a silly thought and he trusts them with his life and his heart and all that mushy stuff he's come to love, the mere possibility of that happening, well…

It’s enough to send him reeling. And now Bokuto wants to talk to the blond.

He hears Bokuto step closer, takes a deep breath when he feels the other’s large hands com to hug around his shoulders. “Tetsu, I’m sorry.” Bokuto says, voice low and remorseful. “I just- I want to talk to him.”

Despite himself, Tetsuro leans into the quiet rumble of the words in Bokuto’s chest, it’s always so calming. “Why?” he asks. “How did you even get him to agree?”

“I haven’t,” Bokuto admits. “I’m kind of planning to catch him off guard, that's why Hinata is helping me out.” He grumbles, forehead pressing into Tetsuro’s shoulder. “And I just- I need an explanation. Ok? To move on or whatever.” He waits for a second, like Tetsuro is supposed to know what to say, then he sighs. “If you don’t want me to I won’t.” He adds finally, voice serious. 

“Does Akaashi know?” It’s the only thing that comes to mind.

Bokuto shakes his head behind him. “I didn’t want to bring bad memories up for you two,” he says. “It’s not like I'm going there to beg him to come back or anything. I just want-“

“Closure.” Tetsuro sighs, he understands and he would if he was Bokuto. He actually does want it for himself -there are so many unanswered questions, so many things he still doesn't understand-, but the fear of what could happen with his heart if he met the blond again stops him. He’s in a good place now and-

And for the longest of times, he wasn’t.

“Are you sure about doing this?” He asks, trying to nuzzle Bokuto’s unstyled hair. “I probably won't be able to come tomorrow, are you going to be ok?”

“If you’re ok with it.” Bokuto looks up, eyes meeting Tetsuro’s. “I think I’ll be fine."

“You’re too brave for your own good sometimes,” Tetsuro grumbles pressing a kiss to his forehead. He can’t ask Bokuto to not do it, just because he’s too afraid to. They were all hurt when Tsukishima left and if this is what his lover needs to make peace with it then he’s not going to take away the chance out of mere selfishness. “Just take care, ok?”

Bokuto smiles, tugging him closer, the distinctive scent of him fills Tetsuro’s nose and he Lets his head fall on the Owl’s shoulder. “I will. I’m coming home to you after all.” He says, always so sweet that Tetsuro is afraid for his blood sugar levels. 

He smiles slightly, trying not to think of Tsukishima at all, the way he always does. “So what’s your master plan?”

.

.

So he’s a little ahead on schedule.

But who gave Tsukishima the right to have legs this long?

Shouyou hurries after the blond. Tsukishima has that face on, the one that betrays how little he wants to be here, in the players’ area of the Gymnasium and he’s walking like ‘ò demonio’ himself is on his heels.

They walk past door after door, and fuck, no it’s too soon. Bokuto-san won't have the costume on by now and it’s all going to be ruined and Tsukishima is going to kill him.

Oh lord.

What would Kenma do?

He’d find something to distract Tsukishima with, but what? He’s already told the Oikawa story and he’s not even sure that would work. 

God, he’s running out of time, his palms are sweating and every time they’re closer to the supply closet where Bokuto said they would meet but there’s no one here yet and they’re too close to the Adler’s changing room -which is the point since he told Tsukishima that Kageyama needs him for something like, urgently-. But if they get there then the timing will be off.

And Shouyou will be found murdered via dinosaur bone, he’s almost sure.

Well, there’s one thing that might work, he takes a deep breath. “Hey, Tsukishima.” He calls. “Can I ask you a question?” 

The blond stops in his tracks, fingers curling and uncurling, a murderous glare aimed at Shouyou. “Just spit it out, it’s not like I didn’t already answer enough stupid questions while you were in Brazil.” he definitely knows something's wrong, he's breathing twice as fast as usual.

“I was being cautious!” Shouyou snaps.

“You sent me a picture of every reptile you saw, for two years asking if a bite would kill you?” Tsukishima groans, stance so stiff that Shouyou wonders if he's going to snap in half with a mild gust of wind.

“Well, you answered yes to at least two, so.” He rolls his eyes. “Anyway, would renting someone’s high school court, decorating it, and taking them there to ask them out be too much?”

Tsukishima’s face twists, first in confusion then into irritation. “C- Like Volleyball court?” Shouyou nods. “Why are you asking me? Do I look like a dating advice column?”

“Because Bokuto-san and Kageyama said it was nice, but they’re, well-“

“Volleyball freaks?” Tsukishima offers.

“Hey! You play pro too!” Shouyou hollers. “But yeah, I want an outside opinion.”

The blond still looks mildly confused. “Well, I guess they’ll have to like the crazy if they're going to date you.” He says, turning back to the hallway and resuming his stride.

He mentally flails, Shouyou can see a lone figure coming their way and he’s almost completely sure is Bokuto in Sawa’s costume, but he’s still too far. 

Shouyou shoots a quick look at the half-open door of the supply closet -something that took a hefty bribe of one of the janitors- and at the determined figure that’s coming down the hall, already making a show of tugging at the head of the costume. 

“It’s Atsumu.” He shrieks, and Tsukishima stops and turns back again, brows furrowed impatiently.

"Miya?" He stares at Shouyou for a second, then starts laughing. “Oh god, really?” he laughs again, hell he might’ve broken Tsukishima. "That one’s as much of a monster as you, he'll think it's cute, you'll be fine.” He laughs again and turns down the hallway.

But it’s enough.

The large, costumed form stands in front of them. “Uh, Hinata-kun.” He says, and it’s almost remarkable how well Bokuto is masking his voice. “Could you and your friend help me out, I’m stuck again.” He says, tugging at the furry head.

“Ohhhh Sawa,-san, sure, sure, this happens all the time,” Shouyou says, nervous. “Tsukishima could you grab the head? I’ll hold the suit in place and Sawa-san can help you tug.”

Tsukishima sighs, then with a quiet ‘tsk’ he grabs on to the furred whiskers of the costume. “This better be quick.” He grits his teeth, hard enough that it’s audible.

In the costume, Bokuto shifts just so they’re in the perfect position, with Tsukishima’s back perfectly aligned with the door. “Ok, on three.” Shouyou calls. “On, two, three!”

And then he pushes Bokuto who in turn pushes Tsukishima. The costume’s head pops off without any resistance and the blond gives him a stunned look as he’s pushed into the supply closet. Shouyou jumps to the door and slams it closed, using the key they got from the janitor to lock it.

“Hinata what the fuck!” He hears Tsukishima’s voice yell from the inside. “And what are you doing here!!!?”

Well that’s done, he had to reveal his super awesome plan to ask Atsumu out, but oh well. “You guys have half an hour, don’t get naked in there!” He yells, and skips over to the Adlers’ changing room, Kageyama’s going to have a laugh with this.

After all that Bokuto told him, he really hopes it goes well.

.

.

Sometimes Kei questions his life choices.

On times like this, he laments them outright.

Hinata laughs outside, and he distinctly hears the ginger’s skipping steps growing more and more distant.

It has come to this, he supposes, he’s locked in a supply closet with Bokuto Koutarou who is wearing a mascot costume and looking at Kei with a particular brand of conflict -like he both wants to throttle him and crush him with a hug at the same time- that definitely makes Kei uncomfortable.

He doesn’t even know where he is exactly so he can call Yamaguchi to get him out.

Kei glares at him and grinds his molars together. He wonders, for a second if one can break a tooth that way, and really hopes that the answer is no.

Bokuto, up close has barely changed, his hair is still bleached, only slightly shorter than Kei remembers it, his eyes are still these wide bronze orbs that couldn’t be more expressive, aside from that, the slope of his nose, the squared profile of his jaw are the same. 

A wave of nostalgia hits Kei so fast that he has to physically steady himself with a shelf, lest he ends up doing something stupid.”Uh, Tsukishima.” Bokuto says, eyes meeting Kei’s hard gaze with equal intensity. “Long time, uh? Can you help me out of this?" He gestures at the body of the costume. “I’m kind off about to pass out from the heat.”

Kei stares t him for a second, eyes widening in disbelief. “You’re seriously going to act like you didn’t collude with Hinata to lock me in a supply closet?” he snaps.

The silver-haired man cranes his head to the side. “Well you didn’t leave me much of a choice.” he turns around, pointing at the zipper on the back. “Please? These hands are not made for grabbing small things.”

Taking a deep breath, Kei feels his eyes start to water. He fights back the tears until he’s sure they’re gone and steps forward. “I’m only doing this because if you die in that thing there are going to be too many questions.” He says, opening the zipper all the way down and helping slide the costume off Bokuto’s broad back. Under it, he's still wearing his match uniform. He probably didn't even have a chance to shower.

“Nah, you wouldn’t let me die.” Bokuto answers, stepping out of the costume. He turns around, and again, that gaze is trained on Kei.

“So?” Kei leans back into the shelves, lifting his eyes to stare at the cement ceiling. “Why am I here? What do you want?”

Bokuto is silent for a long moment like he didn’t think of what he was going to say once he got Kei here -which is actually quite possible-. Kei hears him take in a deep, stuttered breath. “I just want to know what we did?” he says, looking straight at Kei. “And I wanted to apologize for kissing you that day, it wasn’t fair.”

Kei feels like he’s been punched in the gut, Bokuto’s eyes are steady, but at the same time, they betray such a depth of hurt that if his own load of guilt wasn’t weighing him down he’d probably be hugging the Owl right now. “That wasn’t all you.” He says, averting his eyes again. “I should be the one apologizing, it probably caused a lot of trouble with Kuroo and Akaashi. But I guess it turned out fine. You three are together now from what I’ve heard.”

“Yeah, we are.” Bokuto agrees. “Sort of since that day, actually.”

it catches him by surprise, he stiffens for a second, but then, what does it matter now?

“I’m glad,” Kei says, and wishes his voice didn’t sound this bitter. “I guess I was good for something at least.”

There’s a moment of silence and then Bokuto presses. “You didn’t answer my question.” Kei just keeps looking up, what the hell is he supposed to say? “Hey! Tsukishima!”

“Nothing.” He snaps. “You guys did nothing! I needed to leave.” 

“But why?” Bokuto asks, he crosses the narrow space separating them, laying a hand on the shelf beside Kei’s shoulder. “I mean if you didn’t want to be with us you could have just said so. It’s not like you didn’t reject Kuroo. We wouldn’t have tried to force you or anything.” those eyes are wide and clear, they make him pause just as he starts recoiling, uncomfortable with the closeness of the other’s body.

It feels like there’s a rock lodged n his throat, he surely must have heard wrong. “What-“ he swallows. “What do you mean?”

Bokuto looks at him, head craned to one side, eyes luminous. “What do you mean what? The three of us, we weren’t just in love with each other- you never saw any of the messages, did you? Not even theirs.”

Ashamed, Kei hangs his head. “No.”

Bokuto takes a step back eyes closing and brows furrowing. “Then why did you leave, really?” he asks, and Kei figures he owes him that truth at least.

The faster he can leave this place the better. “Because I was just making everybody miserable and uncomfortable by being there, even you and Akaashi. And I was sick of it.”

Thee’s a moment of silence “I shouldn’t have let you leave.” He says, hands balling into fists, bronze eyes drifting to the ground. “If you had still been there we could have explained-“ Kei’s hands wrap around the wood behind him, they itch to reach out, Bokuto looks like he's further away every second, even if that’s impossible. “You didn’t make us miserable, until you left, at least.”

“I was rash,” Kei admits, hands shaking. “And rude, I’m sorry.”

Bokuto sniffles, hand rising to pat at Kei’s shaking arm, eyes concerned. “S’alright.” He says, pulling out his phone. “You really should unblock us Tsukki. I- I don’t want to make you even more uncomfortable here, but if you choose to read those, I still feel that.”

Bokuto is… giving up? That’s what it sounds like at least, but Kei’s not sure, the short conversation has left him reeling. What does Bokuto mean what he feels? And what messages? he never unblocked the numbers.

Hinata’s distinctive footsteps appear, coming closer and closer every time. And Kei is frozen, he wants to ask Bokuto but he has no idea how to, and there are so many things… 

He hears the key slide into the lock. “Bokuto-san” he owl turns his head to look at him, eyes hurt and faraway. “How are they?”

Bokuto looks confused for a second, then his eyes widen. “They’re good.” He says. “’Kaashi's working at Biz he wanted to be in the literary department, but he likes it fine. Kuroo’s a vet, he's happy. And we have two cats.”

“Hey you guys didn’t take as long as I thought!” the door open’s on Hinata's bright hair, his bright smile. “Tsukishima, Yamaguchi’s looking for you.”

Kei swallows at the knot in his throat. He looks at Bokuto. “I’m glad you three are happy. And congrats, you were amazing out there.” 

Bokuto smiles, wan and small. “Thanks. Please read those. And stay safe, ok? See ya Tsukki.” He says, and steps out. “C’mon Hinata, we gotta hit the showers.”

The ginger only shoots Kei one confused glance before he leaves with Bokuto, and then Kei is alone. He walks back outside, it’s not hard to spot Tadashi, standing outside, glaring at his phone. “Tsukki!” he calls. “Over here.”

He walks to Yamaguchi, barely able to keep himself from falling apart, his friend knows that something’s wrong immediately. “Hey, what happened?” he says, quietly. “You disappeared.”

“Hinata-“ Kei articulates. “Bokuto, I- he locked me in a closet.”

“Oh, Tsukki.” Tadashi grabs his wrist, gently leading him to the street. “C’mon, let's go to mine, you can tell me there.”

Kei nods numbly, Yamaguchi already knows, what’s the point in keeping up the charade? He’s tired and hurt and for a second there he almost begged Bokuto not to leave, he almost said it all.

The cab ride to Tadashi’s place is short, once they get there he sits Kei down on a tall stool by the kitchen island, the green-haired man starts making chocolate while painstakingly extracting the details of the conversation from Kei who has all but disconnected himself from the world by this point.

“Wait, you didn’t get any messages?” Yamaguchi asks when Kei’s done.

“I’ve had their numbers blocked,” Kei explains. “I’m not going to get anything even if I unblock them right?”

“What? No, Tsukki, unless they deleted them the messages are there” he chides.

Kei pulls out his phone with a shaky hand. If that’s true… He sighs, he’s here already. 

So he looks for each number, trying to keep his breathing as even as possible, a second later the notifications start arriving. Akaashi’s number has the least -which is still well over twenty messages, but still- so he starts there. Yamaguchi leans over his shoulder, placing a cup of warm chocolate beside Kei’s hands.

FROM: AKAASHI KEIJI -18:35 15/12/2016

Tsukishima where are you.

We are worried, no one knows where you went.

Or they won't tell us.

Please. 

23:15

Please say you’re ok.

We need to talk to you.

Really.

I’m so sorry, I wasn’t here today.

Please come home, Kou told me.

I’m not mad.

I’m not mad Kei.

It’s fine, I think it’s high time we talked about this.

Please.

16:38 18/12/2016

I understand you need space.

But after Winter Break.

We really need to talk to you.

00:32

Do you know what Polyamory is?

**attached file** 

**attached file** 

**attached file** 

23:54 24/12/2016

It’s not fair.

You didn’t say goodbye.

You just left.

Why?

We miss you.

It’s alright if you don’t love us back.

But please at least let us explain.

We don’t want to lose you.

I don’t.

Wait. Kou is puking in the sink.

04:32 25/12/2016

We are going to look for you.

In January.

It can’t be like this.

23:47 31/12/2016

Happy New Year.

We miss you.

10:45 14/01/2017

You really didn’t come back.

You’re a real piece of work, you know?

What did we do that was so bad?

I know you’re not even reading this.

I will stop bothering you now.

Be happy.

There are a couple more messages after, all sent after midnight on random dates. It’s clear that Akaashi is inebriated in most of them. Kei hears Tadashi gasp beside him. He takes off his glasses, they’re all blurry by now anyway.

And he open’s Kuroo’s.

FROM: KUROO TETSURO 11:45 15/12/2016

I’m sorry I made it so unbearable that you had to leave.

I’m sorry, really.

You didn’t make it easy.

It was the truth, that day.

I’m sorry.

I know you don’t want anything to do with me. I just, I love you, but not only you.

I couldn’t.

I know it’s not possible.

21:15 15/12/2016

Bo and Akaashi need to talk to you.

Please don’t hold yourself back on my account.

11:13 18/12/2016

When are you coming back from Miyagi?

I still want to be your friend.

**image attached**

01:34 25/12/2016

I miss you.

You’re an inconsiderate French fry but I miss you.

I’m sorry I fucked everything up.

17:29 12/01/2017

I know you don’t want to be with me.

But please talk to them.

Who am I kidding, you’re not even getting these.

You cut us out of your life like this Tsukki.

It hurts and you don’t know how much.

Talk to them, they miss you.

I know you miss them.

19:59 24/02/2017

I might as well write here.

You’re never going to get these

So I might as well shoot it into the void.

The team isn’t the same without you.

Nothing is.

I really wish I hadn’t said what I did.

Any of it.

It’s not your fault.

I mean it’s your fault that you’re impossible to reason with and you up and left like we were threatening to hurt you.

But it’s not your fault that you don’t love me back.

I think they’re giving up.

Maybe you don’t really feel anything like that for any of us.

The more time passes I’m more sure we were all wrong.

It’s still not your fault.

09:45 17/05/2017

I keep thinking you might come back.

You’re not, are you?

06:45 26/08/2017

**image attached**

**image attached**

The tabby is Lord Byron, the one with the grey spot is Coco.

You would’ve liked them.

I think.

03:56 27/09/2017

I miss you

We miss you

Happy birthday, Tsukki.

I’ll stop bothering you.

I promise.

That’s the last message, Kei can feel the tears running down his face freely now. He almost doesn’t want to open Bokuto’s conversation, it has the most messages, and if Akaashi, who is more restrained, and Kuroo, who has every reason to hate him, wrote things that made him feel like this... 

Bokuto is a lot more expressive.