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It’s four o’clock in the morning and Daichi’s barely been asleep for two hours.

It’s pitch dark when a sudden sharp chirping noise startles him out of his sleep, stabbing at his ear drums like a sharp needle until it’s painful enough to make him sit up and look around. As far as he can tell, it’s not coming from his apartment, but it’s loud enough that it might as well be. He gropes around his side table for his glasses, eyes catching a blurry yet bright 4:03 AM glaring back at him, and he falters. The persuasive part of his brain is trying to seduce him back to sleep, telling him to just throw a pillow over his head and forget it. But the smarter side is telling him he should probably figure out what’s going on.

Daichi begrudgingly sides with logic and slides on his glasses.

Flipping on the light, he can’t help the string of profanities he lets out as he goes blind for a minute until his eyes have time to adjust. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he had to sacrifice sleep earlier in the night to finish his term paper due tomorrow, but now he has to walk out in the cold December night to figure out what the hell was making that god awful noise.

Standing up and grabbing a hoodie from his laundry basket, he faintly hears a sudden onslaught of excited and worried voices above him, along with a rush of footsteps. It’s too many people to just be his elderly old neighbor and that’s when it finally hits him.

It’s the fire alarm.

And just like that, Daichi’s moving at a faster pace, trying to figure out what to grab in case there’s an actual fire happening. He settles on his bag that’s full of end of term papers-- like hell he’d do those again --his phone, and a picture of his friends from back home; everything else is replaceable.

Making his way through the apartment, he slides his shoes on, grabs his jacket and scarf, and reluctantly walks out into the cold. It’s snowing a little, just enough to tickle the tip of his nose, and he catches a few neighbors coming down the stairs and follows them a safe distance away from the building.

“Anyone know what’s going on?” Daichi asks, catching the attention of his upstairs neighbor and a girl that seems to be around the same age as him.

“There’s been a fire on the third floor--someone’s Christmas tree caught fire, from what I heard--but it’s already been put out,” Mrs. Yamazaki smiles at him, offering a sweet she had in her coat pocket, and Daichi takes it out of habit.

“Ah, so soon? It’s only the first week of December.”

She agrees with him, saying that it’s odd, but the girl speaks up and says that her apartment’s already decked out from head to toe. Daichi isn’t even sure if he has any Christmas decorations with him, and thinks about going shopping for at least something red and green when the sound of sirens catches his ears.

Most of the crowd outside is unfamiliar to him, not by choice necessarily, but Daichi’s been too busy trying to figure out Tokyo and getting holed up in the library the past ten months to really get acquainted with anyone aside from Mrs. Yamazaki and a guy that’s in his philosophy class.

Kuroo Tetsurou has been a constant distraction since he showed up in Daichi’s life the first week of university. Moving to Tokyo had been a leap he still wasn’t sure he was ready for, and trying to find anyone he could be comfortable around was another task entirely. But it only took about half a minute after Kuroo collapsed in the chair next to him that Daichi was positive he couldn’t push him out of his life even if he wanted to.

And then Kuroo just happened to be his neighbor.

It was like someone was looking down on him and laughing.

Looking around for the familiar sharp smirk and bizarre bedhead that made up Kuroo, he finally spotted him talking to the landlord. His face is streaked with soot, eyes bright as he gestures wildly with one hand and holds tight to his cat with the other. Wondering what sort of tale Kuroo was spinning, Daichi takes one more look up at the building and laughs, noticing where the smoke was coming from now. Shaking his head, he turns back to get a better look at the damage on his friend when he notices Kuroo’s staring right back at him.

Daichi will never admit that his breath catches every time it happens.

He also won’t admit that Kuroo looks really cute with soot smeared across the bridge of his nose.

It’s an annoying new development for Daichi the past month and he’s certain that if he acknowledges the butterflies in his gut or the sweat dampening his palms,  he’ll have a much bigger problem than having a crush on the boy next door two flights up. Watching him for another minute, he turns away and busies himself with a text back home to Suga when Kuroo starts jogging over.

“So, how much do you love me, Sawamura?”

Daichi blames his lack of sleep on how fast his ears burn when he looks up again. “Do I even want to know what comes after that question?”

“Depends,” Kuroo smirks, turning Daichi’s stomach into a tightly wound knot. “Are you an absolute Scrooge who would let a handsome fellow and his adorable cat be homeless so close to Christmas? Or, do you feel like playing roommates until my apartment is less on fire?”

He wants to ask Kuroo why he can’t go live with his best friend, Bokuto, or even stay in the dorms at school with Kenma, but instead concedes with a roll of his eyes and a disgruntled, “Fine, but you’re sleeping on the floor.”

 

---

 

“How was I supposed to know that Christmas trees are flammable?”

It’s three hours later and Daichi really wants to go back to bed. Kuroo’s coming out of the bath, still dripping wet with a towel around his neck and a loose pair of sweats hanging worryingly low on his hips. Daichi does his best not to stare but can’t help the way his mouth goes desert level dry at the sight of Kuroo’s bare chest.

Bastard, why do you even look like that? Daichi thinks, deciding to act like he’s flustered over the fact that there’s invisible dust on his lenses and busies himself with wiping them off. If Kuroo notices, he doesn’t point it out.

“Didn’t you read the box when you bought it?” He asks, trying to think of anything that isn’t Kuroo’s muscles and only half failing. “Or, I don’t know, be smart enough to not fall asleep with your Christmas tree lights still on.”

“It was only supposed to be a cat nap.” Kuroo admits, fishing a t-shirt out of one of the boxes that now housed all his belongings before pulling it over his head. Daichi sits back on his bed, hands behind him to keep him propped up, and watches as Kuroo pulls a few of the boxes over and sits on the floor next to him as he goes through them.

Daichi barely thinks about what he’s doing when he huffs and grabs the towel from Kuroo’s neck. “You’re gonna catch a cold, or are you too big of an idiot to do that?” Daichi asks with a growl, rubbing at Kuroo’s hair with the towel as he laughs.

“Are you that sweet to everyone, or am I special?”

He doesn’t award Kuroo with any sort of answer and instead asks another question.  “Did you lose a lot of stuff?”

“Nah, I mean, most of the damage was from the smoke. Though some of this stuff got pretty charred,” Kuroo says, holding up what might’ve been an old N64 cartridge before throwing it in Daichi’s wastebin. “Anyway, did you get that paper done?"

“You mean the one that’s due this afternoon?”

Kuroo’s laugh is answer enough, following it up quickly with a pitiful sigh as the shirt he’s holding quickly follows the fate of the video game and Daichi tosses the towel into his laundry. “D’you think I’ll get pity points if I say my apartment burned down?”

“Takigawa is an asshole....I wouldn’t hold my breath, Kuroo,” he counters, yawning hard enough to make his eyes tear up.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Kuroo throws his first thing into the keep pile and seemingly gives up as he slides far enough to his left to rest his face on Daichi’s thigh. He tenses at the contact, staring down into the wild spikes on the top of Kuroo’s head, and Daichi’s fingers itch to run through them to see if they’re soft. “Maybe you can just tell him I died in the fire...how good are you at crying on the spot?”

Daichi grabs a small handful of hair and pulls; it’s softer than he imagined.  “Don’t be an idiot and just finish the damn thing.”

Chuckling, Kuroo moves away to stand up and stretch. He leans this way and that, cracking his spine in a way that makes Daichi envious, and he wonders just how exhausted he is when Kuroo catches him staring at his ass and he doesn’t even care. “Like what you see, Sawamura?”

Daichi shrugs with one-shoulder and looks up at him. “Not like there’s anything to look at...you’ve got no ass.” The red that blossoms in the apples of Kuroo’s cheeks is much too attractive and Daichi hates him for it.

“Not all of us can be blessed with an ass like yours, y’know.”

It’s Daichi’s turn to burn a bright red as he lifts a leg high enough to kick Kuroo on the back of his knees. “I have not had enough sleep to have this conversation right now.”

“We can talk about your ass again later, then? Cause it’s one of my favorite topics,” Kuroo’s smirk pulls at the corner of his mouth and slides effortlessly into place. Daichi wonders just how many people have been taken in by that look the way he has. How many people have wanted to kiss that smirk until it melts around the sound of a moan. How many people have succeeded.

Daichi stops fantasizing long enough to say a short, “Shut up,” and falls back into his pillows to hide his face. Aoi, Kuroo’s Russian Blue, decides to take his chance and jumps up next to him, curling up under his chin and nudging at his face as he purrs.

“But anyway, you got coffee, Sawamura? I’m not even gonna get a page done if I don’t have some sort of caffeine.”

“Yeah, second shelf in the kitchen, mugs are below it.”

Yawning again, he closes his eyes and listens to his temporary roommate banging around in the kitchen. Daichi’s almost completely asleep when the sweet smell of hazelnut coffee fills his bedroom and the edge of his bed dips low next to him. He doesn’t bother to fight Kuroo when he reaches over and slides his glasses off his face, fingers seeming to linger against one cheek even though Daichi brushes it off as his own sleep deprived delusion.

“Sweet dreams, Sawamura.”

And Daichi’s out like a light.

 

---

 

It’s already after twelve when he wakes up again, panicking for a second until he realizes he doesn’t have class today until three pm, and rolls over only to come face to face with Kuroo. There’s a minute when he forgets that there was a fire, forgets that he told Kuroo he could stay over, and wonders if he didn’t make some stupid mistake, but it all comes back to him when he gets a rough tongued lick to the side of his neck.

“I thought I told you both to sleep on the floor,” Daichi whispers to Aoi when he looks down into his bright green eyes. He can’t help but melt a little though, with Aoi purring his affection for the feeling of Daichi’s fingers on his neck and the way that Kuroo looks soft at the edges instead of his usual sharpness. He sweeps his thumb across Kuroo’s cheek, rubbing away some of the soot that hadn’t washed off, and lets his finger linger just against his lips.

It’s almost nice, like this, waking up to someone when he hasn’t done it in so long, but Daichi’s still very aware of the fact that he has no idea how Kuroo feels about him and gets out of bed after looking at him for a few more minutes.

He takes a quick hot shower, finds something clean enough to wear for the day, and starts making lunch by the time Kuroo pulls himself out of bed and goes straight to making another coffee pot. “Good morning, Sawamura.”

“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon.”

“Mmm, yeah,” Kuroo hums, getting the coffee started and then moving behind him to reach up into the cupboard.

Daichi can feel him flush against his back, all warm hard muscles between the two thin layers of cotton separating their skin and he wonders if Kuroo notices how red his ears are. “Other cupboard,” he says a little hoarsely, pointing next to the one Kuroo’s digging in and he can feel Kuroo’s laugh reverberate all the way down his spine.

“Ah, right.” He waits another minute and when Kuroo still hasn’t moved away, Daichi jabs him in the stomach with his elbow. “Ow...hey! What was that for?”

“Do you have any idea what you do to m--” Daichi stops abruptly before he puts his foot any further in his mouth, and groans to himself. “Just...it’s called personal space, Kuroo; get a clue.”

The cold that replaces the warmth of Kuroo’s body makes him shiver, and he’s already regretting letting Kuroo stay. Daichi’s got no clue how to act around him like this, in such close quarters for god knows how long. He’s just not used to this, hasn’t been with anyone he’s liked this much since he dated Suga back in his second year of high school. It’s just too much for him to handle and he’s about to tell Kuroo to leave and save his sanity when an apologetic mug of coffee appears beneath his nose.  

“Hey, thanks for letting me stay,” Kuroo offers the apology with another little nudge of the mug in his hand and Daichi feels his tiny panic attack melt away.

“Yeah, well...you owe me one now.”

Daichi notices that Kuroo’s smirk is softer when he’s just woken up and dampens the desire to get on his tiptoes and kiss it away. “I can cook, y’know, any favorite dishes?”

“Says the guy who just set his apartment on fire last night,” Daichi teases, laughing at the sudden sharp pinch to his hip.

“Not cooking, mind you.”

Taking a sip of coffee and reveling in the warmth now settling in his stomach, Daichi thinks for another minute and offers up sho-yu ramen. Once Kuroo agrees, they both go back to what they were doing and he hands his new roomate a plate of tamagoyaki and rice before eating his quickly and going back to his room to get ready for class.

Everything’s still in his bag from the night before so he grabs a pair of socks, finds his coat that he’d thrown near the closest, and offers his scarf to Kuroo when he comes back in. “I’m leaving in ten minutes for the train, so you better be ready or I’m leaving you behind.”

“Can we get back to that conversation about your ass on the walk there?”

Daichi deadpans,  “Nevermind,” and leaves Kuroo behind.

 

---

 

A few weeks later, they’re walking home from the train on Christmas Eve. Kuroo’s going on about a party that Bokuto’s throwing the next night and how they should go together, and Daichi finds himself watching Kuroo without complaint. It’s become even more clear to him as they started living together that Daichi’s got it bad.

They’ve fallen into a routine of waking up every morning with an argument over the fact that Kuroo still hasn’t given up sleeping next to him. After that it’s someone making breakfast, the other making coffee, small talk about how their days were laid out and plans for dinner when they’d get back. Most nights were spent in front of the TV, eating dinner and doing homework or watching a movie. It was all too comfortable and too domestic and Daichi couldn’t find a good reason to complain because he liked it.

And he really liked Kuroo.

He was doomed.

“So whaddya think? Wanna go to Bokuto’s place tomorrow and hang out?” Kuroo asks once they’re home, helping Daichi untangle the scarf around his neck before kicking off his shoes. “He kinda expects you there, so you can’t say no.”

“I can’t?” Daichi laughs, walking in and setting their take out down on the table in front of the TV. “That’s weird, because this is me saying no.”

Kuroo has perfected this deadly combination of puppy eyes and a pathetic pout that Daichi concedes to more than he should. He just turns his back on him this time, and moves into the kitchen to grab some drinks. “C’mon, Sawamura...you can’t stand me up now.”

“I barely even know Bokuto, Kuroo...and other than Kenma, I don’t know any of your other friends either.”

“But they know you,” Kuroo admits, sitting at the table already when Daichi comes back, “I mean, I bring you up a lot, so they have a pretty clear idea.”

Daichi ignores the warmth spreading in his chest from Kuroo’s words and sits across from him. “Bored to death, are they?”

“I’ve painted you in a very attractive light, don’t worry. Everyone probably just thinks you’re way too good for me,” Kuroo smiles softly, pulling Daichi’s eyes down to his lips, “and I’m in agreement.”

Kuroo’s gotten good at saying just the right thing to make Daichi flush, to make him flustered enough to reach out a foot and kick him under the table. It’s annoying, the way he’s crawled under his skin and made a home deep amongst his bones, and Daichi wishes he could shake him off so he could breathe.

“Now I’m even more worried.”

The guffaw that erupts from Kuroo’s mouth breaks whatever weird tension Daichi was feeling and he can finally start to eat his food. Their conversation veers back to a safe subject until dinner’s over and they’re cleaning up so they can watch a Christmas film that Kuroo had to wrestle him into the night before. Once the dishes are done and Daichi’s gotten a blanket from his room, he throws it over his shoulders and settles back on the sofa as Kuroo’s sets up the DVD and turns off the light.

“Mood lighting,” he explains as he flops down next to Daichi, smiling as the DVD menu throws light back into the room.

During the majority of the movie it’s comfortable silences only interrupted by some offhanded comments. Kuroo keeps pointing out his favorite scenes, laughing so hard at one point that Daichi’s curious to see if he cries, and Daichi’s just enjoying himself. He’s never been big on holiday spirit, but with the few Christmas decorations that were saved from Kuroo’s apartment hanging up, and the added company, Daichi doesn’t much mind it.

When the credits roll a little while later, the room falls back to almost complete darkness. He yawns a little, idly wondering what time it is, when he feels Kuroo’s fingers find his beneath the blanket still draped over his shoulders. They interlace easily, Kuroo’s hand much colder having not been in the blanket the whole time, and Daichi shivers a little.

“Sorry, you were stingy with the blanket and didn’t share.”

Daichi turns his face to argue when he notices Kuroo’s face is right next to his, illuminated just enough by the TV so he can make out his eyes. He’s close enough that Daichi can feel the puffs of his breath on his lips and his heart suddenly feels like a jackhammer beneath his ribs. “What’re you doing?”

“Y’know...I’m not sure if you’re just adorably naive to every line I’ve laid on you the past few months, or if you’re just incredibly stubborn.”

Kuroo’s other cool hand brushes against an overheated cheek and Daichi is thankful for the darkness now fully engulfing them. Like this, Kuroo can’t see anything; like this, Kuroo can’t see all the nerves passing over his face; and like this, Daichi has just enough bravery to close the small distance still left between their lips.

He never really figured the whole thing about fireworks and sparks igniting behind your eyelids held any truth -- and he was right. Kissing Kuroo was like pulling on your favorite wool sweater; it was comfort and warmth and home in so many ways that Daichi couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. It’s something he can melt into, lets his lips open to the gentle swipe of Kuroo’s tongue and finds his hands reaching up to run along the edge of Kuroo’s jaw before sliding up and into the hair at his nape.

“Wanna go to that party with me now?” Kuroo says once they pull apart to catch their breath, and Daichi can feel his smirk close enough to his mouth that he has to press his lips against it and taste what he’s been thirsting for.

It’s sharp, like he thought, but forms around his name beautifully when Daichi tugs Kuroo’s bottom lip between his teeth enough to get the perfect reaction; he's already desperate to hear it again. “Are you only seducing me to go to this stupid Christmas party, or do you have a better plan?"

Kuroo’s laugh is warmer than his hands and Daichi’s back hits the sofa just in time for Kuroo to map out the plan on his skin.