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Crisis Converted

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Akaashi Keiji did not sign up for this.

In the most literal sense, he really hadn’t. Common, run-of-the-mill cops weren’t really expected to go chasing after armed drug dealers with records longer than the Bible, but that’s what he had done anyway.

“You certainly went above and beyond the call of duty, huh?” The cop that he’d worked with the most over the last several years grinned and twirled a pen between his fingers. Akaashi was at the desk of the tiny station on the corner, slumped against a wall; the right knee of his pants was torn and muddied with dirt and a little blood from where he’d hit the pavement during the scuffle. “You know, anyone else would’ve left that for Special Investigations. Let the guys with the bulletproof vests handle it.”

“He would’ve been gone by then, Sarukui,” Akaashi replied quietly. “Who knows what else he would’ve done in the time it took a detective to take him down?”

“Your dedication is really next level,” the other man said with a smile. “Most anyone else would’ve been too worried about dying to think about all of that, especially since he was waving a gun around.”

“And that’s exactly what makes him stand out from the rest of the force.” The man leaning in the doorway was someone Akaashi couldn’t recall seeing before; tall and dressed in an immaculate, crisp suit, with a lazy smile. His hair is... an impressive disaster, though. What a strange contrast. “Hey there, officers. I’m Detective Kuroo with Special Investigations 1st Unit, here to collect the shining star of this patrol group.” He smirked a little at their blank stares. “That would be you, Officer Akaashi. The Chief of Police wants a word with you.”

“...About what?” he asked carefully as he stood. “I’ve filled out all the paperwork on the arrest.”

“You engaged with an armed, wanted gang member that Special Investigations has been keeping tabs on for the last five months and got him like it was nothing. You’re gonna have to deal with a little more than the usual paperwork this time,” he grinned. “Come on, follow me. Hope you like promotions, because you’re probably gonna get one.”

Sarukui waved at him with wide eyes as Akaashi excused himself to follow Kuroo outside. “A promotion?” he asked, more than a little skeptical. “For a single arrest?”

“Nah, the Chief’s not that sloppy. Give him a little credit,” he laughed. “It’s not the first time you’ve done something like this... or even the second, or third. You’ve got a penchant for getting yourself into stuff that we should be taking care of, you know? And we noticed. Be kinda hard not to, honestly.”

He stopped in front of an unmarked black car and opened the driver side door; silently, Akaashi got in the passenger seat. “You didn’t get checked out by a doctor yet?” Kuroo asked with a quick glance to the shorter man’s knee as he started the car and pulled smoothly away from the curb.

“No. Things have been a little hectic.”

Kuroo hummed in response. “Chief’s probably gonna tell you to go see one after he talks to you.”

Akaashi nodded, but didn’t say anything in response. “Quiet guy, huh?” Kuroo asked with a grin. “That’s cool. Nothing 1st Unit isn’t used to. My partner is the same way... well. He’s a little meaner, though.”

“Is that so?” Akaashi asked, in an effort to be polite.

“Yup. For someone as quiet and disinterested as he usually is, he’s got a hell of a mouth on him sometimes. You’ll see.”

Akaashi quirked a single eyebrow at the man beside him. “You’re saying it like I’m getting promoted for sure, Detective.”

Kuroo flashed him a smile, but didn’t take his eyes off of the road. “I’m pretty sure you are. Chief’s had his eye on you for the last year. You can say no if you want, but if you’re gonna be tackling guys with guns anyway, might as well get the benefits that come along with it, right?”

“I suppose a bulletproof vest would have been a little reassuring in that situation, yes.”

Kuroo laughed as he took another turn. “I meant a pay raise, but yeah, those too. If he does offer you a promotion, you can turn it down... don’t see why you would, though, honestly.”

Akaashi didn’t say anything else, and Kuroo was silent as well as he drove the last few minutes towards their destination. As he pulled up to the curb, Akaashi unbuckled his seatbelt and stepped out, his eyes drawn to the enormous office building that loomed in front of them.

“Welcome to the Metropolitan Police Department,” Kuroo grinned. “Let’s get going. Chief Nekomata’s pretty excited to finally meet you face-to-face.”

Akaashi nodded and followed him as he walked in through the large glass doors out front; he made a lazy pace across the marble floors towards a set of elevators to the side, and pressed a button for the 18th floor once they were both inside. Akaashi was still quiet as they reached the 18th floor and the door opened to let them into the hallway; he took a deep breath, and did his best to quash his slight feeling of uneasiness as the detective led him to a room further down the hall.

“Here we are,” Kuroo said as he knocked on the door. “Chief? It’s Kuroo. Got the golden boy you wanted to see.”

“Come in,” a man called out from the other side.

Kuroo opened the door and ushered Akaashi inside. The room was large, furnished with a plush couch and various plants and paintings, but the most noticeable thing was the elderly man seated at a huge desk stacked with paperwork.

Akaashi felt a little awkward as he bowed, but the man smiled warmly and beckoned him closer. “Officer Akaashi, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person. I’m Nekomata Yasufumi, the Chief of Police.”

Akaashi already knew that, but he was a little surprised at how polite and welcoming he was. I expected him to be... rougher, I guess. “The pleasure is mine, sir.”

Nekomata smiled. “Well, I’m assuming Kuroo’s told you why you’re here. We’ve had our eye on you for a while, and the arrest you pulled off today was particularly impressive.”

“Thank you,” Akaashi replied quietly. “He... did mention a few things.”

He could swear that Nekomata’s smile turned a little predatory. “Well, then you know that we’d like you on our team. You’re an excellent officer. Too excellent to be wasted on things like purse snatching and checking foreigner IDs. Consider this your official invitation to become a detective of Special Investigations 1st Unit.”

“I accept,” he said immediately. “Thank you again. I’ll do my best.”

Nekomata and Kuroo both blinked at him, and Kuroo cracked a smile as Nekoma leaned back in his chair. “You can take some time to think about it, you know. I don’t need an answer right away.”

“That’s fine,” Akaashi replied smoothly. “A day or a week from now, I know the answer would still be the same. Extra time to consider it wouldn’t really be necessary.”

Nekomata laughed. “I like you, kid! You’ll do great here... well, in that case, welcome aboard, Detective Akaashi. We’ll have a badge ready for you tomorrow morning. Kuroo, please introduce him to the rest of 1st Unit. And, Akaashi? Please have your knee examined before you head home tonight.”

Akaashi nodded politely before following Kuroo back out of the room. “Next stop is 1st Unit’s office, I guess.” He snickered a little. “Oh, man, and you’re gonna get partnered up with the star of the show himself. We’ve had an uneven number of people since our last hire, so he’s been flying solo.”

“I see,” Akaashi said cautiously.

“He’s an interesting guy. Best detective in the city, honestly. Just a little weird, is all, but I mean. Who isn’t, right?”

“...Weird.” Akaashi repeated the word suspiciously. “How is he weird, exactly?”

“You’ll see,” Kuroo grinned. “Hope you’ve got a lot of patience. And here we are,” he said as he stopped in front of a door and swung it open. “Hey, everyone! I’m back, and I’ve got a new friend with me. This is Detective Akaashi; he’s part of 1st Unit now.”

Akaashi closed the door behind him, and took in every detail of the room in the span of half a second; there was a large desk, long enough to seat at least ten people and covered with various stacks of paperwork, half-full mugs of coffee, and several laptops, a large couch facing the glass wall that overlooked the city... and several sets of curious eyes all resting on him.

“Nice to meet you,” he said with a polite bow. “It’s an honor to be here. I’ll do my best.”

“Hey hey heyyy!” A detective sitting on the couch sprung up, his pork bun forgotten on the cushions beside where he’d been sitting a moment before. He was tall, and his eyes were so striking, and...

It seems Kuroo-san isn’t the only one with an unusual hairstyle here. His hair was streaked with black and white, and Akaashi was pretty sure there should be a law on how much gel he probably had to use every morning to get it to spike the way it did. “You’re Akaashi, right?” he asked as he took the shorter man’s hands into his own and shook them enthusiastically. “So you accepted the promotion! Awesome! I’m Bokuto Koutarou, the head of 1st Unit, and your new partner!”

“It’s nice to meet you, Bokuto-san,” he replied coolly; his lips quirked into a smile despite himself and his still slightly aching knee.

“Hey, Kenma,” Kuroo called to a short man sitting at the desk with a laptop. Another guy with interesting hair... “Stop playing Minesweeper, and say hi to the new detective.”

“I’m not playing Minesweeper,” he said quietly, still clicking away. “I’m playing Solitaire, and I’m about to win.”

Kuroo let out a long-suffering sigh, but he still smiled with exasperated fondness. “Got bored with Minesweeper, huh?”

“It was barely even a game, anyway. More like a science. It’s not fun anymore.”

“Solitaire isn’t fun either.”

“No,” he agreed. His eyes hadn’t left his screen once during the entire exchange. “But it’s better than paperwork.”

Kuroo chuckled and shook his head. “Anyway, that’s Kenma. He’s my partner, the guy with the rude streak I was telling you about in the car.”

“And that guy over there is Yaku!” Bokuto said excitedly. A man that was even shorter than Kenma waved at Akaashi from his own spot at the desk. “And next to him is his partner, Lev.”

“He’s even weirder than Bokuto is,” Kuroo said. His grin grew wider at the two men’s sudden protests.

“Rude,” Bokuto pouted.

“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, those guys over there eating at the desk are Inuoka and Yamamoto. And the last team of two at the coffee pot is Konoha and Washio.” They waved politely, and smiled knowingly as Bokuto threw an arm around Akaashi’s shoulders without warning. 

“It’s a lot to remember, but you’ll get it eventually!” he said brightly.

For his part, Akaashi looked mostly unperturbed by the unexpected closeness of the other man. He... smells like sandalwood,  he noted distantly. “...Shouldn’t you be saying that about the work itself, and not the names of my coworkers, Bokuto-san?”

Kuroo laughed as Bokuto pouted once more. “Y’know, I think you’re gonna be the perfect partner for him. Welcome aboard, Akaashi.”

Akaashi nodded in reply; Bokuto’s arm was still around his shoulder, and when he looked over at his brand new partner, he realized he was so close that he could see the flecks of gold color in the other man’s amber eyes.

“All right, I guess I gotta show you the ropes of detective work! It’ll be fun!” Bokuto promised with a warm smile. He broke away and playfully punched Akaashi in the arm. “First, though, let’s get you to a doctor for a checkup. You got that from the arrest, right?”

With a quick nod, Akaashi replied, “Yeah. It’s not that urgent, though. I’m only a little scraped up.”

“Still, still! Let’s get going!” He took hold of Akaashi’s hand and practically dragged him from the office; the other men looked after the pair as the door swung shut behind them.

“Things are about to get interesting,” Kuroo grinned.

“We’ve all heard a lot about you!” Bokuto said with a smile as he started his car up. “I’m glad you’re finally in our unit! We’re gonna be a great team.”

“Hearing everyone say that they know a lot about me is a little disconcerting,” Akaashi said coolly as he watched Bokuto drive. “I don’t know anything about the rest of you.”

“That’ll change over time, don’t worry! The most vital information you need right now is that my favorite food is yakiniku!”

“Is that so,” Akaashi said with a small smile. “All right, so now I know three things about you. Your favorite food, that you have the weirdest hair I’ve ever seen on an officer of the law, and that according to Kuroo-san, you’re the best detective in the city. In that sense, I guess I’m pretty honored to be partnered up with you.”

Bokuto’s grip on the wheel tightened with excitement. “Did he really say that?! Wait, what’s so weird about my hair?”

“He really did. And your hair is very unusual. Not that it’s a bad thing,” he said. “It’s... interesting. Unique.”

Bokuto looked a little sullen as he stopped at a red light. “You’re not just saying that, right? Hey, I’m great all around, I promise! You’ll see! We should spar together sometime while we work out!”

“...All right,” Akaashi conceded. “How often do you exercise, Bokuto-san?”

“At least every other day!” he grinned. “Unless a big case or something else comes up, anyway. I’ve gotta stay in top shape if I wanna be the best, right? We should go together! Nobody else will stay late with me,” he pouted. “They all get too tired too quickly!”

“That’s too bad. I’ll come with you next time, then. I could use an exercise partner as well.”

Bokuto’s entire face lit up with what Akaashi was pretty sure way too much happiness for such a simple agreement. “Awesome! As long as the doctor says you’re fine, maybe we could even go tonight if you want? As long as we don’t get any cases, anyway. We could totally--”

“That sounds good to me. Sure.”

“Hey hey hey, now that’s what I like to hear!” He pulled smoothly into the parking lot of the nearby hospital, and had the car parked and his seatbelt unbuckled in the blink of an eye. “Come on, let’s go!”

“You’re a very excitable person, aren’t you, Bokuto-san?” Akaashi asked wryly as he got out and closed the car door. “Most people wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about going to the hospital.”

“I’m not excited about the hospital part, but as long as you’re fine, we get to work out and stuff!”

“You’re only worried because you want someone to exercise with. I see how it is.” Bokuto looked over, brow furrowed in worry and mouth opened and ready to protest when he saw the smile curving at the corners of Akaashi’s mouth.

“Was that a joke? Akaashi! You were teasing me now, weren’t you?”

“Maybe,” he admitted as they walked towards the reception area. “Is that a bad thing?”

“Only if you think I’m annoying or something,” Bokuto laughed. “You don’t, right? I’m great! I’ll prove it later tonight when we spar!”

“I barely know you,” Akaashi said with an edge of exasperation and amusement. “But I’m sure you’re as wonderful as you say, Bokuto-san.”

Bokuto’s smile was as bright as the sun. “That’s right! Don’t you doubt it!”

After a short wait, they were led to a side room where a doctor sat down and poked experimentally at Akaashi’s knee as he asked various questions.

“Well, Detective, I think you’re right. It looks like you just scraped it up a little. If it was sprained or other damage was present, you’d be in a lot more pain than you are now.” He smiled as he reached behind him for supplies. “I’ll just get it cleaned up and bandaged, and then you can be on your way. It shouldn’t affect your duties at all, but if you feel pain or discomfort, come on back and I’ll take a look.”

“Thank you,” Akaashi said as the older man disinfected the scrapes.

“Awesome! I know some great places we can work out,” Bokuto grinned.

“Don’t we have other things to do first?” Akaashi asked flatly.

Bokuto seemed to deflate a little. “Oh, yeah... I guess you’re right. We can head back to the office, and I’ll show you how to do all the boring stuff, like the paperwork and filing and where we keep the coffee.”

“Coffee is vital to our operation. That’s not boring at all,” Akaashi said serenely as the doctor wrapped gauze around his knee.

Bokuto’s grin was infectious. “You know, I like you a lot already. I’ve got a good feeling about you, Akaashi! We’re gonna be great together!”

Akaashi’s smile was wide and genuine as he stood up and tested his knee with the new bandage. “I think so too, Bokuto-san.”

Almost as soon as they got back to the office, Chief Nekomata called Bokuto into a one-on-one meeting, which left Akaashi alone in the office with Kuroo and Kenma.

“How are you liking being partnered up with the leader of this little band of misfits?” Kuroo asked with a lazy smile. He was sprawled out over the couch, typing away at his laptop; Kenma sat on the end, engrossed in a spreadsheet with a game of Solitaire open in the corner of his screen.

“He’s very... enthusiastic.” Akaashi said evenly. “I’m sure he’ll be... interesting to work with.”

Kuroo barked out a short laugh. “Yeah, that’s one way of putting it. Dude’s seriously the best detective in the city, even if he doesn’t look like it. He’s got the highest close rate for cases by a mile, and his sense of fairness and making sure he doesn’t bag the wrong guy are so intense they’ve gotten him on the shitlist of some higher ups more than once.”

“His downswings are where the real trouble starts,” Kenma said without looking away from his screen, “if you don’t know how to deal with them.”

Akaashi’s brow furrowed. “...Downswings?”

“He’s got... moods,” Kuroo explained carefully. He stopped typing and looked up at Akaashi; the new detective felt almost felt like he was being sized up. “He plays it like a joke a lot, but sometimes it’s bad. Like he gets it in his head that he’s worthless garbage or something. And he turns into a mess until he can snap out of it.” His dark eyes narrowed dangerously. “But he’s a good guy. One of the best I know. And a damn good detective. Just so we’re clear.”

Akaashi nodded. “That’s fine,” he said cautiously. “We’ve all got our inner demons. I don’t mind if Bokuto-san has some as well.”

The tension in the room evaporated as Kuroo’s frown transformed into a carefree grin. “Good man,” he laughed as he went back to his work.

It had gone unsaid, but Akaashi was relatively certain that in a way, he’d just been tested -- and luckily, managed to pass.

Bokuto was right: learning the paperwork and filing systems and regulations wasn’t particularly thrilling. But Akaashi paid attention anyway, and took in every detail with surprising speed.

“Wow, you’re sharp, aren’t you?” Bokuto asked, a little awed. “It took me a week to remember those codes and you just recited them like it was nothing! Chief Nekomata told me you were smart as hell, but I’m still really impressed!”

“Thank you,” Akaashi said, a little awkwardly. “I suppose it’s one of my strengths.”

“What do you think mine are?” Bokuto asked brightly as he unceremoniously shoved a stack of completed paperwork to the side.

Akaashi gave him a flat look. To the side, the coffee maker beeped as it finished brewing a new pot, and Kenma absentmindedly poured himself a cup while he texted someone on his phone. “Bokuto-san, we’ve only known each other for a few hours. I have no idea.”

“At least say that I’m charismatic or something,” he said a little sullenly.

“...I suppose that’s true,” Akaashi said with a tiny smile. “You’re very energetic.”

Bokuto’s entire demeanor brightened almost immediately. “Hey, that’s more like it! All right, you know the filing systems and the codes and all that stuff, so why don’t we get to the good part? Wanna go to the gym?”

Akaashi hummed quietly. “Sure, I don’t see why not. But I’ll need to stop by my apartment to get something to wear.”

“Awesome!” The unit leader twirled his keys on his fingers with a bright smile. “I keep mine in the car since I go all the time anyway. You should too, from now on!”

Akaashi nodded. “All right. I can give you directions to my place. Lead the way, Bokuto-san.”

As he followed the other man’s quick, sure pace, Akaashi couldn’t help but smile once more. I have a good feeling about this job.

As luck would have it, Akaashi’s apartment was right down the street from the gym that Bokuto liked to frequent.

Bokuto’s fingers tapped an impatient, erratic rhythm against the steering wheel as Akaashi climbed back into the passenger seat and tossed a small sports bag into the back. “All right. Sorry for the wait, Bokuto-san.”

“You’re so formal, Akaashi!” Bokuto said with a laugh as he pulled away from the curb. “Have you ever been to this gym before?”

“No,” he admitted. “I just moved to this apartment a few months ago and never got around to looking at it. I’ve been doing most of my exercise on the job, or by jogging in the mornings.”

“Ooh!! I jog every morning too! Let’s go together! It’ll be like partner bonding time, right?”

“...Sure,” he agreed. “When do you normally go?”

“Five to six in the morning, if nothing comes up. It gets my blood pumping!”

Akaashi hummed. “Do things come up a lot? You’ve mentioned it more than once.”

“Hmm, kinda,” he replied, a little subdued and thoughtful. “Especially around important events, like ambassadors visiting, or even things like high-profile concerts, or just drawn-out investigations. Stuff like that. Then the usual schedule gets disrupted... so there’s often not even much of a schedule in the first place.”

Akaashi was silent for a moment as he watched him. Bokuto’s profile was sharp, and even when he was serious, his charisma was oddly magnetic. “Does that bother you?” he asked quietly.

“Nah.” The car bounced just slightly as they pulled into the parking lot for the gym. “Work’s more important to me than anything. I’ve lived for this job since before I even had it, you know? So everything else comes in second place anyway.” He flashed Akaashi a smile as he parked and turned the car off. “Doesn’t matter to me if I jog at five or eleven, as long as cases get solved in the end! Right?”

“Yeah,” Akaashi said, even though he wasn’t sure exactly what he was agreeing with. The sentiment in general, I guess. He really is dedicated. I wonder if there’s a reason?

But now’s probably not an appropriate time to ask, he thought as they got out of the car with their respective bags. Maybe once we know each other a little bit better.

As he walked out of the locker room and caught sight of his partner, Akaashi was a little bit embarrassed, not that you could tell by looking at him. Bokuto’s workout clothes were pretty standard; a loose white t-shirt and black shorts.

But he was also wearing the most interesting combination of knee pads and thigh compression sleeves.

They stopped at his knees, and ended somewhere high up on his thighs, covered by the hem of his shorts. The sharp, muscular lines of his legs were accentuated, and Akaashi found it almost unpleasantly difficult to look away.

Bokuto had really nice legs.

He managed to tear his eyes away and focused on looking at nothing in particular as he took in the various details of the gym and stretched to warm up. He focused on his arms, then bent down to touch his toes; when he stood up and straightened out, he looked up to see something strange.

Bokuto was staring at him, with his mouth slightly open.

“Is... something wrong, Bokuto-san?” he asked, a little hesitant.

Immediately, Bokuto flushed and looked away. “N-nope! Everything’s great!” He launched into his stretches with his back to Akaashi, but the shorter man could see that the tips of his ears were faintly pink.


After a few minutes of awkward silence, Bokuto turned back around with a grin, as if nothing strange had happened at all. “All right! Are you ready?”

Akaashi nodded, and followed him out towards the opposite corner of the gym; it was mostly empty, with only a few other people training near the punching bags. Protective mats covered the entire floor, slightly soft beneath the heels of his feet.

Once they were in a good spot, Bokuto stopped, and once again Akaashi saw his entire demeanor change.

He dropped into a fighting stance so fluidly that the younger detective was caught off guard, and they hadn’t even actually started yet. Bokuto radiated a chilling intensity, his face alight with an excited, almost predatory smile. “I’m not gonna go easy on you, Akaashi. Is that okay?”

A split second later, Akaashi snapped to his senses, and dropped into his own stance, relaxed and at ease. Bokuto’s eyes widened a little, and the smaller detective nodded.

“Ready when you are, Bokuto-san.”

Bokuto took a deep breath in and lunged; his fist soared towards Akaashi’s face, and for a moment, he was certain that he was going to make contact. He was just about to pull the force of the strike...

...and then Akaashi moved.

He sidestepped so quickly and so fluidly that for a second, Bokuto was disoriented. His hand went past Akaashi’s nose, and a moment later, he barely avoided being struck as he stepped back; the shorter man had dropped close to the ground and attempted to sweep Bokuto’s feet from underneath him, and he’d damn near succeeded.

“Holy shit,” he said breathlessly. Akaashi was standing again in a moment, the picture of composure as he carefully strafed his partner.

This time, Akaashi moved first; he reached forward to grapple Bokuto’s right arm, but Bokuto moved with him, twisted his body, and applied just enough pressure to Akaashi’s wrist to get him to let go. With a smile, Akaashi stepped back into his stance; he watched Bokuto with observant eyes, and the captain of the unit felt like every part of his soul was suddenly being laid bare.

“You’re very skilled, Bokuto-san. Your speed and power are both impressive,” Akaashi said quietly. “I can tell that if you really wanted to hit me, and did, it would hurt. Probably because you’d break something.”

“Are you kidding me?” he blurted. He relaxed into a normal standing position, and smiled so hard that it nearly hurt; Akaashi lowered his arms and stood up straighter, since sparring clearly wasn’t on Bokuto’s mind any longer. “Akaashi, you’re so fast that I can hardly see what you’re doing! You could mess me up good if you really wanted! No wonder you’ve been able to take down so many dangerous guys.”

Akaashi smiled, and Bokuto felt butterflies in his stomach as his thoughts began to race. Holy shit. He’s so hot. My partner is hot and I’m really gay. He tried not to cringe. Kuroo will never let me hear the end of it! Damn it! 

“I think we balance each other very well,” Akaashi said. The praise crawled along every inch of Bokuto’s skin like electricity, and in that moment, he knew he was totally fucked. “I’m looking forward to this, Bokuto-san. Both the exercise, and working together in general.”

He held out his hand, and for a moment, Bokuto just stared at him before he smiled and grabbed onto it and shook vigorously. I don’t think anyone’s ever been so excited to shake my hand before, the smaller man thought with amusement.

“Akaashi, you’re awesome!” he laughed, a little breathless. “Hey, want me to show you some martial arts forms? I took Tang Soo Do for a while!”

“So did I,” Akaashi grinned. “I’m a fourth degree black belt.”

It had taken him twenty seven years of living, but in that moment, Bokuto Koutarou was pretty sure he’d finally met the perfect man.

>bro seriously you barely know him. what if he’s a dick? he could be a total asshole, and we just havent realized it

Bokuto frowned at the text from Kuroo and typed back at a furious pace. >dude, he’s a 4th degree black belt! in the exact same martial arts style that i studied!! it’s gotta be tru love ok.

His phone vibrated a moment later with several more incoming texts.
>just cool your jets man. give it some time. take it easy
>you don’t wanna scare him off or anything. see how it works out. maybe he’ll be into you before too long ok

>i wasn’t planning on asking him out yet!! or anytime soon! i’m just saying. he’s hot and i’m so screwed. i gotta be on my best behavior.
>shit. what if he thinks i’m weird? when i get all... you know?
>it hasn’t happened in a while but it will eventually.

His hands shook a little as he typed frantically.

>it always does.

He felt a growing, unpleasant coldness inside of him as he hugged his knees. A moment later, Kuroo texted him back, much more quickly than he normally did.

>nah. i talked to him about that already. don’t be mad. but i don’t think you have anything to worry about.
>just take it easy. i think he understands. i get the feeling it’s from personal experience for him.
>you’ll be fine.

A deep sigh and full-body stretch later, Bokuto picked up his phone and wandered into his kitchen to have a snack before he passed out. He didn’t mind waiting to see if there could be something between him and Akaashi.

I just hope I don’t fuck it all up with my stupid problems.

Faint shimmers rippled through the bathwater as Akaashi sank into his tub with a sigh. Tonight was a good night for a bath bomb, he thought with a wry smile. He felt all the tension go out of his sore muscles as he came close to dozing off; he’d ended up sparring and doing exercises with Bokuto for upwards of three hours before his partner had finally called it quits for the night.

His stamina is ridiculous. No wonder nobody else wants to go to the gym with him. He focused on the feeling of the water against his skin as his thoughts continued to wander. And he wants to go jogging at five in the morning tomorrow... I guess I’ll be in top form before too long. Not that I was in bad shape anyway.

To the side, his phone vibrated against the floor. With a sigh, he dried his hands on a towel and picked it up to see a text from Sarukui, asking how his day had been.

>It still feels a little surreal, honestly. It was pretty exciting and tiring, even though I haven’t actually worked a case yet.
>I did end up working out at the gym for three hours with my new partner, though.

He paused in thought before sending another text.

>He’s very... interesting. Eccentric. But not in a bad way. He’s good at his job and loves the work. He didn’t add that Bokuto’s legs were absurdly attractive, much like the rest of him. After their workout, he’d pulled his shirt up to wipe sweat off his his forehead, and Akaashi had needed a moment to collect himself.

Sarukui didn’t really need to know that; he teased Akaashi enough as it was about being sexually frustrated, no matter how much he insisted that he didn’t mind being ‘eternally single’, as the other cop had so jokingly put it. And hopefully Bokuto was oblivious to Akaashi’s quick and slightly inappropriate stares.

But of course, Sarukui was pretty sharp in his own right.

>ok, so tell me the important thing: is he hot?

Akaashi sighed. >I’ve known him for all of 12 hours. I’m not asking my partner out on a date.

>look, give it a few weeks and report back to me ok. im invested in this. i wanna see you find love. my heart aches for you.
>work isnt everything akaashi!! let down the armor! live a little!

Akaashi rolled his eyes and set his phone back down without responding, and sank back into the water, determined to enjoy his bath.

After the long day he’d just had, he’d earned a little relaxation.

As soon as the clock hit five in the morning, Akaashi heard a sharp knock on his door.

He finished off the last of his coffee and placed the mug in the sink, and ran a hand through his slightly mussed hair one last time before he opened the door to see Bokuto standing there in his workout clothes, grinning as though it wasn’t disgustingly early.

“Hey hey hey, good morning! Ready to go?”

“Yes. I just need to put my shoes on; one moment.” He turned away to slip into his sneakers; Bokuto took the chance to peer into his apartment for a second as his curiosity got the better of him.

“Whoa, your place is pretty cozy looking! Not that it’s a bad thing,” Bokuto grinned. Akaashi shrugged as he closed and locked the door behind him.

“It’s a nice place for one person. I almost never have any guests, and I live alone, so it serves its purpose, I suppose.” He took the lead as he walked down the hall. “You know, you didn’t need to come inside the building. I would have met you outside and saved you the trouble.”

“It’s fine! I like seeing new places!” he exclaimed as they reached the elevator and got inside. “...You don’t mind, right?”

“No,” Akaashi said as he hit the button for the ground level. “I just don’t want to bother you, is all.”

“You’re not bothering me!” Bokuto said with a smile. “Don’t worry about that! You’re already the best partner I’ve ever had!”

“You’re just saying that because I stayed at the gym for three hours last night,” Akaashi said flatly. He tried not to smile, but still felt one tug at the corners of his mouth despite himself.

Bokuto grinned a little sheepishly. “Well, it definitely didn’t hurt my opinion of you! Nobody else in the office likes to work out that much, not even Lev!”

“I don’t like working out that much either,” Akaashi said drily as the doors opened and they walked out side by side. “But I’m not opposed to it, I guess.”

Bokuto laughed and slapped him on the back as they exited through the front doors. Outside, it was just as quiet as it had been inside the apartment building; most of the city was still fast asleep, and the sky was only just barely showing the first light of dawn.

“October is my favorite month to run,” Akaashi said with a small smile as they made their way to the street, and started their route with walking to warm up. “Cold, but not too cold. It’s very pleasant.”

“Yeah, yeah!” Bokuto agreed. “Summer’s the worst. It’s just hot and miserable!” He laughed as he said it, and Akaashi chuckled.

What a strange guy. “How far did you want to run today?”

“To the office and back!” he said brightly. “About eight kilometers altogether!”

“Eight kilometers... seriously, Bokuto-san, is it any wonder that nobody else wants to work out with you?” Akaashi’s pace had become more brisk, but he nearly stumbled when Bokuto slowed down, his eyes downcast.

“I mean, you don’t have to be here. If you don’t want. I don’t mind,” he said quietly. He smiled again, but it was hollow and fake in a way that Akaashi found vaguely unsettling. “It’s fine! You’re not obligated to run with me and stuff just because we’re partners, you know!”

Akaashi shook his head, and before he could think better of it, he grasped one of Bokuto’s hands and started walking again, pulling the other man along behind him. “I know that. I’m still here anyway, though, and I plan to be here whenever you need me. Please don’t let it bother you, Bokuto-san.” He turned, just enough so that Bokuto could see the weight of promise in his dark eyes and the small smile that curved at the corners of his mouth. “After all, isn’t that what partners are for?”

Speechless, Bokuto simply nodded in reply. For a long while, he was unusually quiet; but as the dawn grew brighter, so did his mood.

I guess Kuroo was probably right after all.

Later that day, Akaashi found himself thrown into his first case: investigating a smuggling ring that was likely responsible for a rash of fine art theft in one of the wealthier districts of the city.

Being part of Special Investigations involved a lot more footwork than just standing around a booth all day and responding to radio calls -- not that he minded. Life felt more fulfilling than it had before, like everything had suddenly clicked into place. He was much more active and involved with his work in 1st Unit than he’d ever been as a regular officer... and to him, it was perfect.

Two weeks, three all nighters, and countless cups of coffee later, they’d officially closed the case and made twelve arrests altogether. All that was left at the end was a mountain of paperwork -- something that Bokuto insisted they could worry about tomorrow.

“You should go home and get some sleep!” Bokuto said brightly. “Feel free to take the car!”

“But what about you, Bokuto-san?” Akaashi peered at him, a little suspicious. “You usually just drop me off. Why not do that tonight as well?”

“I’ve still got a few things to take care of, and I can just take a cab! Seriously! Go take a bath and get some rest, you definitely earned it!” He clapped him on the back and beamed at him, and Akaashi figured that was the end of it.

Once he gets an idea in his head, he’s impressively stubborn,  Akaashi thought with an exasperated fondness that was quickly becoming routine. “All right. I’ll meet you back here in the morning, then, right? At six, just to go over the last few details.”

“Sounds good! Enjoy the rest of your night!”

“You too, Bokuto-san.”

The drive back felt downright weird without Bokuto’s endless animated chatter. Just over two weeks, and he’s already become such a huge part of my life. I guess that’s part of the deal when you have a partner you work around the clock with, though.  Once he got back to his apartment, he found he didn’t even have the energy to shower; he collapsed into bed, still in his work clothes, and passed out almost immediately.

He slept deeply, and had the most pleasant dreams about familiar golden eyes.

Akaashi woke a full half hour before his alarm went off.

With a huge yawn, he shuffled into the bathroom, brushed his teeth and took a hot shower before he ate a little leftover takeout from the previous day. He washed it down with a quick cup of coffee, got dressed and was on his way, still slightly off-kilter with the unusual silence that came with the lack of Bokuto’s presence.

The streets were still mostly empty as he drove to the office; it was just before six in the morning when he entered the building, which was just as subdued as the rest of the city began to wake. He fiddled with the strap of his messenger bag as he got in the elevator and waited to get to the 18th floor.

His footsteps echoed through the empty hallway; as he stepped inside 1st Unit’s office, he blinked. It was completely silent; there was no loud greeting waiting for him, no typing, no coffee brewing.

As the door closed behind him, he felt himself smile as his eyes landed on Bokuto, slumped over a stack of paperwork, snoring lightly. He wanted to spare me the trouble of the final paperwork and filing, and ended up staying so late he fell asleep. Ridiculous.

A few moments later, he had a pot of coffee ready and waiting to be consumed as he opened his laptop and began looking over new reports, content to let his partner sleep a little while longer.

When Bokuto woke thirty minutes later, he was momentarily disoriented. The blanket that was normally on the couch was now firmly tucked around his shoulders; it fell to the floor as he sat up straight and rubbed his eyes. Huh? I didn’t get that last night... Who...?  “What... Akaashi? Shit, what time is it?”

Dark eyes crinkled with quiet mirth as Akaashi took a sip from his mug. “Just past six thirty, Bokuto-san. Good morning. And don’t worry about it. There’s coffee for you when you’d like some.”

Bokuto’s smile was as bright as the sun itself. “Akaashi, you’re seriously the best partner ever.”

The smile he got in return was quiet, but genuine. “I could say the same to you, Bokuto-san.”

to be continued in chapter 2