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Akaashi slept more soundly than he had since the end of November.

When the alarm went off at five in the morning, it wasn’t nearly as hard for him to get moving as it had been for the last several weeks. He felt lighter, like a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders. By the time he’d finished taking a quick shower, he could smell the coffee that Bokuto had already made, and as he walked into the kitchen, his boyfriend greeted him with a quick kiss to the tip of his nose and his signature smile.

“We should start jogging again tomorrow!” he suggested. “What do you think?”

“Sure,” Akaashi agreed as he sipped at his coffee. “It has been a while, hasn’t it?”

“Yeah, I miss it! It was a lot of fun!” Bokuto beamed.

Akaashi sighed with exasperated fondness. “Running eight kilometers in the morning is a weird idea of fun.”

“You don’t mind, though, right?” Bokuto asked quietly.

“If I did, I wouldn’t go with you,” Akaashi replied easily. “You said recently that you had a new route in mind, right?” He finished the last of his coffee, and then rinsed his mug in the sink. “You should tell me about it.”

Bokuto didn’t need any more prompting than that; he talked about it all the way to the office, seemingly as enthusiastic and spirited as he usually was.

But as he listened, Akaashi couldn’t help but think that he looked just a little bit tired.

“All right! Yaku, Lev, come with me. You two have been cramped up in the office too long! We’re gonna go get lunch for everyone!” Bokuto said brightly. “Kuroo can do the interrogation after we all get some food!”

“Where should we get food from?” Yaku asked as he stood up.

Kuroo shrugged. “You know what we like. Surprise us.”

“How helpful,” Yaku sighed as he shrugged his coat on. “All right, let’s go.” He followed Bokuto out of the office, with Lev trailing behind like an excited puppy. Suddenly, it had become much quieter; Akaashi and Kuroo were the only two still in the room.

“So,” Kuroo said with a Cheshire grin as he sat down beside Akaashi on the couch, “how are things with you and the dear captain?”

“...They’re fine.” Akaashi’s tone was neutral, but the slight flush on his cheeks betrayed him.

“Oh? Seems more than just ‘fine’, from where I’m sitting.”

Akaashi gave him a flat look. “I’m assuming Bokuto-san already talked to you about it, since you’re best friends.”

“Bingo.” He sipped at his coffee to hide his growing smirk. “Seriously, though. How are you doing? It’s been hard for both of you.”

Akaashi sighed. “Better than before. But it may take some time for me to get back to 100%. It was... this case was incredibly difficult.”

Kuroo kicked his feet up on the table. “Yeah, I don’t blame you. You sure kept at it, though. Pretty commendable.”

“Thank you.” He looked out of the window in front of them that overlooked the city. “I’m worried about Bokuto-san, though. He’s energetic, but it seems a little forced.”

“That’s not surprising,” Kuroo said easily. “He was working that case on manic energy. Seems great in theory, but it has its drawbacks, like I said before.” He took another sip of coffee, and followed Akaashi’s gaze out of the window. “He’ll get too fired up, and gets reckless and hyperactive, and forget that he actually needs things like sleep or food. For like, weeks sometimes. He’s gotten better recently about not pushing himself too hard when that happens, but, well.” He shrugged. “This case was a little too serious for any of us to take it easy. So he’s probably exhausted and burned out right now.”

Akaashi looked over at him with a considering look in his eyes. “I see. Do you think he’ll have another one of his negative moods again?”

“What, like as a result of burning out? Maybe. Wouldn’t be the first time.” He met Akaashi’s stare with a smile. “You know, I had my doubts about you at first. Figured you’d ditch him and request a transfer, ‘cause you’d think he wasn’t worth the trouble or something. Glad to see I was wrong.”

Akaashi smiled a little, and looked away. “I meant it when I said that Bokuto-san is a great man. We work well together, and I consider myself lucky to be his partner.”

“Yeah, you two are a pretty good team. You’ve got my blessings,” Kuroo said as he drained the rest of his coffee. “Take care of each other.”

Akaashi’s smile was genuine and reassuring. “We will. Thank you, Kuroo-san.”

“Gotta say, I’m honored to have the Street Shark of Miyagi in custody,” Kuroo said with an unfriendly smile.

Across the desk, Kunimoto glowered at him. “Don’t call me that.”

“Whatever you say, Shark-san.” Kuroo kicked his feet up on the desk, and leaned back in his chair like he didn’t have a care in the world. “So, do you feel like fessing up? I’d offer you a deal, but I’m not all that interested in giving you one, to be entirely honest.”

“Why the hell would I tell you anything if you’re not even gonna give me something in return? Are you an idiot?” he sneered.

Kuroo’s grin was predatory. “Well, we already have you on camera attempting to murder one of our detectives, assaulting another one, and trying to coerce the captain of our unit into committing suicide by holding his partner hostage after the assault in question. So you might as well, because as far as we’re concerned, you’re already beyond screwed.”

Kunimoto’s eyes widened, and Kuroo laughed. “Body cameras are incredible things. We’ve all been wearing them for the last few weeks, just in case. And now that we’ve got you in custody, we can match our long, long list of forensic evidence to you as well.”

“If you already have proof of what I did, then why are you even interrogating me?!” Kunimoto asked as his jaw clenched in rage.

Kuroo’s smile grew even larger. “Honestly? I just wanted to gloat.”

Kunimoto slammed his head down on the table in frustration, and the detective laughed once again.

Bokuto was oddly quiet as he drove Akaashi back to his place several hours later.

“You really don’t mind me staying again?” Akaashi asked as he shut the door behind him.

“Nope, of course not! And a lot of your stuff is here right now anyways, right?” Bokuto kicked his shoes off and walked over to the couch; as soon as he sat down, he seemed to deflate, as though he were still exhausted.

Akaashi was silent as he took off his shoes and blazer; he loosened his tie as he put his bag down on the table in front of the couch, and sat beside his boyfriend. “Is something wrong?” he asked quietly.

Bokuto was silent for a moment as he considered his answer. “I don’t want you to think... that yesterday morning... was a mistake,” he said slowly. “I don’t want you to think I’m annoying. Or crazy.”

“...I don’t think any of that,” Akaashi said patiently. “At all.”

“But I’m such a mess!” he protested. “Right before Kunimoto started trying to kill people, I was totally useless. And then, the only reason I got through the first couple weeks was because I was still a mess, just... kind of in the opposite way, I guess?” He laughed, but there was no mirth in it. “And now I’m so tired again. And I can’t help but think you’re gonna see me fall apart again, and... and you’re gonna see how weak and terrible I really am.”

Akaashi scooted closer, and gently touched his cheek. “You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for, Koutarou.” Bokuto’s eyes widened as Akaashi kept talking. “You’re not weak at all. The opposite is true, honestly.”

“...What do you mean?” he asked quietly.

Akaashi smiled wistfully. “You’re one of the best detectives around. And I know how bad those low moods can be, because that’s the same thing I struggled with when I was younger, too. I still do, sometimes, though it’s not often so severe anymore.” His eyes held no judgement as he met Bokuto’s gaze. “That’s part of why I think you’re brave. Because I know how hard it can be to make it through those, sometimes... let alone face people afterwards.”


“And what you did yesterday, during that confrontation with Kunimoto. What you were willing to do.” The fingers he held against Bokuto’s cheek trembled slightly with the memory. “No coward would be able to do that.”

Bokuto shifted a little so he could face Akaashi better. “I just...” He looked a little bashful as he leaned into Akaashi’s hand and closed his eyes. “You really think so?”

“I don’t think so, I know so.” He smiled as Bokuto’s eyes flew open, and the captain’s face brightened, just a little. “You’re kind, strong, and brave, and very good at what you do. You’re so... you’re so genuine, and bright, and... really, really attractive,” Akaashi said quietly as a slight flush came to his cheeks. “You are the most incredible person I’ve ever had the fortune to meet. Your inner struggles are not going to turn me away from you.”

Bokuto looked at Akaashi in wonder, as if he could hardly believe what the other man had just said. He stared for a moment, completely speechless, before he buried his face in the crook of Akaashi’s neck in embarrassment. “You’re the amazing one,” he mumbled against his skin. “Seriously!”

“This isn’t about me,” Akaashi said with an amused smile.

“I’m making it about you!” Bokuto laughed. His breath was warm against Akaashi’s neck as he wrapped his arms around his boyfriend’s waist, and made himself comfortable. “You’re incredible!”

“Well, I’m certainly glad you feel that way,” Akaashi said with a small laugh. He paused for a moment in thought. “...Do you remember, when the case was still in its beginning stages, I said I could tell you what I’ve done to ease the depression?” Bokuto nodded against him, without raising his head. “Well, part of it involved talking to someone. His name is Komi Haruki.”

At that, Bokuto did look up a little, enough so that he could meet Akaashi’s eyes. “What, like a... a therapist?”

Akaashi nodded. “Sometimes, just talking helps. And he has useful tricks you can use when you feel your mind getting out of hand, as well as medicine that you can take to regulate it. Like those antidepressants we talked about, back when we were doing stakeouts.” Idly, he traced his fingers along the muscles of one of Bokuto’s arms. “I take them, actually. They help me a lot.”

Bokuto was quiet for a moment as he thought about it, and then he nodded. “Okay! I trust you, and it sounds good! I’ll give it a shot.”

Akaashi smiled. “All right. Here, I’ll give you his phone number, so you can call him whenever you’re ready.”

Bokuto reached into his pocket without leaving his spot in Akaashi’s lap, and took out his cell with a grin. He typed in the number as Akaashi recited it, and then saved it in his contacts. “Awesome, thanks! Oh, I should do something else, before I forget,” he beamed. He pushed a few more buttons, and Akaashi felt his curiosity get the better of him.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Changing your name in my address book! See?” With a bright smile, he turned his phone around; instead of [Akaashi], it now read [Keiji ~♥]. Immediately, Akaashi felt himself flush as a pleased smile curved at the corners of his lips.

“I guess we match now,” he said with a small laugh. At Bokuto’s look of confusion, he flipped his own phone open, pushed a few buttons, and turned it so that his boyfriend could see the screen.

[Koutarou ♥]

“Oh my god,” Bokuto whispered as the tips of his ears turned pink. “That is so cute!”

“...It’s literally the exact same thing you just did.”

“But it’s cuter when it’s you!” Bokuto said brightly.

Akaashi sighed with fond exasperation. “You seem to be feeling better. I’m glad.”

“Yeah,” he smiled, “I am. I guess it’s just... it’s really comforting! You know? Being reminded that you understand, and that there are ways to make it suck less.” He tossed his phone on the table, and then nuzzled his face against Akaashi’s chest. “I... I’m not as afraid that you’re going to leave because of it, and it’s awesome.”

Akaashi ran his fingers through Bokuto’s hair with a small smile. “Of course I won’t. I’ll be there for you, like you were there for me. We can make it easier for each other. Like a balanced scale.”

“Yeah! I like the way you think!” He pressed a soft kiss against Akaashi’s jawline, and looked at him with nothing but adoration. “You’re amazing. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

Akaashi leaned down a little to kiss him on the nose, and as he did, a thought occurred to him -- a question that he’d wanted to ask Bokuto months and months before.

“I’m curious... why did you decide to become a detective?” he asked quietly. “Was there any particular reason?”

Bokuto blinked at him, and then smiled sheepishly. “It sounds so dumb. You’re totally gonna laugh at me if I tell you!”

“I doubt it’s dumb. I won’t laugh,” Akaashi promised.

Bokuto grinned back at him in response. “Well, I wanted to make a difference! ‘Cause I figured, you know, then I wouldn’t be so worthless, if I could change peoples’ lives! And I figured I wasn’t good enough at anything else to do it any other way.”

Akaashi’s brow furrowed as he kept running his fingers through Bokuto’s hair, who sighed happily into the touch. “You’re not worthless,” Akaashi said firmly. “Even if you weren’t a detective, you wouldn’t be worthless.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Bokuto admitted slowly. “But I didn’t know that back then. I sucked at school, and my family thought I was weird and terrible ‘cause of the... the mood stuff? So yeah! That’s why. I don’t regret it at all, though, especially since it led me to meeting you!” he smiled.

Akaashi trailed his fingertips over Bokuto’s jaw. “That’s not a stupid reason at all, you know. Mine was almost the same as yours.”

“Really?” he asked, openly curious. “Tell me!”

“I didn’t have bad grades, but I felt... empty, I guess. Like my life lacked any sort of meaningful direction, and I had no real worth or purpose.” His fingers made their way back into Bokuto’s hair. “Like I could die, and nobody would miss me if I did.”

Bokuto’s expression instantly became serious. “Keiji--”

“I know. I don’t think that way anymore. But at the time... I wanted to make a difference. More than anything. So I became an officer, and figured I’d work my way up the ladder, to do as much as I could.” Idly, he played with the ends of Bokuto’s hair. “I thought that if I could help people, I could have a place in the world, and be less of a burden.”

“You’re not a burden!” Bokuto insisted. “You could never be a burden. You’re so important, Keiji! Not just to me, but to a lot of people!”

Akaashi’s smile was warm with fondness. “Thank you. The same is true about you, you know.” He placed a soft kiss against Bokuto’s forehead. “You mean a lot to many different people. Not just me. Your friends and coworkers all think highly of you for many reasons.”

Bokuto’s smile was as radiant as the sun itself as he pressed a warm kiss to Akaashi’s lips. “You’re a hell of a smooth talker, Keiji!” His eyes brightened as an idea came to him. “Oh! Hey, let’s go take a shower!”

“You know, we don’t always have to take them together.”

“But I like taking them with you,” Bokuto insisted. “It’s better with both of us!”

“...I suppose I can’t argue with that,” Akaashi said with a wry smile. “All right, let’s go. My legs are falling asleep under you, anyway.”

Bokuto got up with a cheer, and held out his hand to Akaashi. His chest felt warm as he took it and stood up; Bokuto linked their fingers together, and led the way to the bathroom. In the end, he managed to convince Akaashi to take another bath with him, too -- and the younger detective had no complaints when the captain snuck a few kisses in the shower as well.

The next two months went by in a blur.

With a few exceptions here and there, Akaashi and Bokuto’s schedules mostly went back to normal, including their morning jogs and evening visits to the gym. At that point, the damage that Kunimoto had caused during the case had mostly been repaired; Kenma, Onaga, Sarukui, and Akaashi’s parents had all recovered, though Onaga was still going to physical therapy sessions and taking it easy at work. The parts of the house that Kunimoto had burned down were rebuilt, Kunimoto was safely behind bars, and several of his subordinates had managed to find work, with Akaashi’s help.

Akaashi slowed to a stop as he thought about it, and looked to the still mostly-dark sky to see the rising sun just peeking over the horizon. Beside him, Bokuto came to a halt when he realized that Akaashi wasn’t moving anymore, and followed his gaze upwards as he casually wrapped an arm around his waist.

“Everything okay?” he asked curiously.

“Yeah. I was just thinking about the Kunimoto case.” He leaned on the railing at the edge of the sidewalk; the streetlight beside them bathed them in a soft glow.

“What about it?” Bokuto asked. He grinned playfully as he leaned against his boyfriend. “Oho, maybe about how dashing I was, right?”

“You were amazing, yes,” Akaashi replied with an amused sigh. “We all were, I think. Kuroo-san and Kenma were especially incredible. We all worked together, and you and I endured the final confrontation, but... if it wasn’t for the two of them, it would have turned out very differently.” Idly, he played with the bracelet on his wrist; the owl charms gleamed in the soft light, cool against his skin. “And I’m glad that Kunimoto can’t hurt people anymore.”

Bokuto pressed a quick kiss to Akaashi’s temple; Akaashi promptly wrinkled his nose. “I’m sweaty,” he protested.

“Doesn’t bother me!” Bokuto said with a smile. “You’re right, though. Everyone was great! That was definitely the most dangerous, personal case our unit has had to deal with since I started working there!” He looked up at the sky, entranced by the colors of the approaching dawn. “Hell of a way to start the new year, huh?”

“Yeah,” Akaashi agreed quietly. “Especially for Kenma.”

“Oh, yeah, he got shot on the night of New Year’s,” Bokuto said, a bit somber with the memory. “Hey, though! You totally sound like you still feel guilty about it! That’s totally your ‘feeling guilty’ face!”

“It’s just my face,” Akaashi said with a flat look.

“C’mon, you can’t fool me,” Bokuto said with a grin. He nudged Akaashi’s shoulder with his own, playful and energetic as usual. “You know, he seriously doesn’t blame you for that. Neither does Kuroo, or anyone else!”

“I know.” He watched the sky with Bokuto, quiet and thoughtful. “Logically, I understand that. But our emotions don’t always line up with logic, unfortunately.” He shrugged. “I know it wasn’t my fault. But sometimes, I still can’t help feeling a little guilty about it, I guess.”

Bokuto leaned over and gave him another kiss, and looked at him with nothing but adoration. “It’ll fade with time. Right?” he asked with a smile. “Life goes on! And Kenma and Kuroo both really like you, so that probably helps too!”

“You seem very certain about it.”

“I am! Because I know I’m right!” He tousled Akaashi’s hair with a grin. “I’ve been best friends with Kuroo for like, ages, so I totally know. He thinks you’re great! And if Kenma didn’t like you, you’d definitely know it,” he laughed.

“I suppose so,” Akaashi said as a small smile curved at his lips. “I’m sorry. It was just something I’ve been thinking about today, I guess.”

“No worries! You’ve got nothing to apologize for!” Bokuto said brightly. “Come on, wanna finish the rest of the route? We can get breakfast afterwards, and maybe that’ll help you feel better! But if not, we could totally talk about it some more, too. I don’t mind either way!”

“Breakfast sounds good. Let’s go, Koutarou.”

As the sun rose higher in the sky, Akaashi’s worries seemed to fade into the back of his mind, and he felt his anxieties begin to melt away.

“Another long night at home together?” Kuroo asked from his spot next to Kenma as Akaashi and Bokuto walked into the office together.

It was still early, and they were the only ones there, which meant less witnesses to see Bokuto immediately turned bright red as he began to splutter indignantly. Akaashi sighed as he set his bag on the long desk. “Are you trying to imply something, Kuroo-san?”

“Oh, I’m not implying anything,” he grinned. “I mean, it’s pretty obvious that you stay at his place more than you stay at your own.”

Akaashi’s cheeks began to turn pink. “I fail to see the point you’re making.”

“My place is bigger! And nicer!” Bokuto insisted. “That’s why!”

“Uh huh,” Kuroo smiled. “Serious question: why even pay rent on a place when you’re never there anyway, Akaashi? Seems like a waste of money, if you ask me.”

Akaashi’s blush grew darker as he turned away to busy himself with making a pot of coffee. “It’s not entirely my decision to make. Kenma, how’s your new game coming along?”

Kuroo laughed, and Bokuto plopped down on the couch next to him. “A masterful subject change.” He plucked his cellphone from the front pocket of his shirt and flipped it open as Akaashi and Kenma began to talk, and quickly pushed several buttons. A moment later, Bokuto’s phone vibrated; he glanced at Kuroo suspiciously, and then opened it to see a message from the other man.

>so, for real, are you gonna ask him to move in or what

Bokuto shot a quick glance to Akaashi before he began to reply; his partner wasn’t even looking in his direction.

>are you kidding! what if he says no?! i’m scared ok

Kuroo rolled his eyes as he replied immediately.

>did you hear what he just said? he’s not gonna say no. don’t make me meddle any more than i already have

“Bokuto-san, what are you doing?” Akaashi asked with a wary look as he sat down beside Kenma at the desk. “You’re being unusually quiet.”

“Oh! Uh, nothing!” he said with a forced laugh. “Nothing at all!”

“...Right,” Akaashi said. He clearly didn’t believe him. “Don’t forget that we still have paperwork left over from the painting theft.”

Bokuto groaned loudly, and Kuroo just laughed. “Tough luck.”

“Hey hey heeey, so! Where do you wanna go for lunch?” Bokuto asked as he threw an arm around Akaashi’s shoulder. “How about that cool little cafe that just opened down near the river? Yaku said their food is awesome! And they have little tables that you can sit at outside!”

“Sure. Let’s get going, then.”

“Have fun, kids,” Kuroo called out with a smile. Bokuto stuck his tongue out at him, and blushed when he saw Akaashi giving him a flat look.


“Nothing, Bokuto-san. I was just thinking about how mature you are.”

“I can’t tell if you’re serious or not!” he complained as they left the room.

Kuroo laughed as he watched them leave, and leaned against Kenma, who was sitting next to him on the couch with his laptop. “The captain’s looking better than ever these days.”

Kenma hummed his agreement. “Less self-destructive than he used to be. But somehow, even louder than before.” He paused for a moment. “...But it’s good to see him so happy.”

“Wow, it’s unusual for you to be so sappy,” Kuroo teased. “Are you turning into a big softie?”

He glared at the taller man. “You make it sound like I’m really mean.”

“Nah, you’re not mean. Just kind of a hermit,” he smiled as he ruffled Kenma’s hair. “Not that I mind. I wouldn’t change you for the world,” he said softly.

Kenma didn’t reply, but Kuroo didn’t miss the slight tint of pink on his face.

Bokuto was unusually quiet the entire way to the cafe, and it didn’t escape Akaashi’s notice.

After they’d been sitting outside at one of the tables for several minutes, he got tired of Bokuto poking at his food and staring into space. “What’s on your mind?”

Bokuto’s eyes snapped back to meet his gaze, and he looked almost guilty, like he’d been caught thinking about something he shouldn’t. “Uh... what?”

“Something is on your mind. You’re not usually so distracted. So what is it?” Akaashi asked. He took a sip of water, and watched Bokuto quietly.

Bokuto grinned sheepishly in response. “You’re so observant! And you know me so well! But I guess that’s not too surprising, right?” He fiddled with his napkin nervously. “I was just thinking, you know... about the stuff Kuroo said this morning!”

“Kuroo-san? He said a lot of things this morning. What do you mean?”

“You should move in with me!” Bokuto blurted. His entire face immediately turned red. “I mean! He was right? You spend most nights there anyway, so I just thought, maybe, I dunno--”

He stopped when he noticed the small smile that curved at Akaashi’s lips, accompanied with a small flush on his cheeks.

“I’d like that a lot, Koutarou.”

Bokuto’s eyes widened with sheer joy as he grasped both of Akaashi’s hands between his own. “Seriously?! You mean it? This is awesome! Oh man, I was so scared to ask, and Kuroo wouldn’t stop teasing me about it, that bastard -- ooh, I’m gonna have to get a key made for you. When do you wanna move in?!”

“One thing at a time,” Akaashi said with exasperated fondness. “We have a day off in a few days. I can start moving my stuff around then. A key isn’t a priority, since we’re together so often anyway because of work.”

“Oh, yeah, I guess you have a point. Okay!! This is gonna be so awesome, I can’t believe you agreed so quickly! I was so nervous!” He let go of Akaashi’s hands, and downed the rest of his drink. “This is great!”

“There’s no reason for me to say no,” Akaashi said as he took another sip of his water. “Besides,” he continued wryly, “I can use the money I save on rent to buy more bath bombs, since you seem to be incapable of not using one almost every single night now.”

Bokuto laughed a little sheepishly. “Hey, you’re not mad about that, right? They’re just so amazing! I can’t help myself!”

“I got used to it months ago. You’re insatiable.” Bokuto wiggled his eyebrows suggestively in response, and Akaashi blushed a little and rolled his eyes. “In more ways than one,” he said with a flat look.

Bokuto grinned as he picked up one of Akaashi’s hands again. Gently, he brought it up to his lips, and pressed a soft kiss against his fingers. “I can’t help it. I just love you so much, Keiji!”

Akaashi’s smile made him feel like he was soaring. “I love you too, Koutarou.”

“Hey hey heeey!” Bokuto said with a bright, happy smile as he walked back into the office with Akaashi. “I brought snacks for everyone!”

“You’re in an even better mood than usual,” Yaku observed. “Did something happen?”

Bokuto was beaming as he set the bag he was holding down on the desk. “Yup! Akaashi’s gonna move in with me! How awesome is that?!”

Lev looked at him, then at Akaashi, and then back to Bokuto. “Oh. You’re not already? I thought you were! You’re practically married!” he said with innocent enthusiasm. “Don’t you sleep together almost every night anyway?”

“Oh my god.” Akaashi put his face in his hands and turned towards the coffee pot to hide the fact that he was blushing; Bokuto’s own flush reached all the way to his ears as Kuroo started laughing so hard that he was almost crying.

Lev yelped as Yaku smacked him in the side of the head. “Ow! What was that for?” he pouted.

“We’re supposed to at least pretend that we don’t know they’re dating, you know,” he said with a sour look. “You’re the most oblivious guy in the world. Unbelievable.”

“Poor Akaashi,” Kuroo grinned, “I think you gave him heart failure.” Akaashi shot him a dirty look, but said nothing as Kuroo kept chuckling to himself. “Hey, don’t look so mad. I’m happy for you two, really. You’re a good team. Right, Kenma?”

“Yeah,” he agreed quietly, without looking up from his laptop. “You were right, when you said he was the best vice-captain we could have hoped for.”

Akaashi squinted at him in disbelief. “...Vice-captain? When did I become a vice-captain?”

Kuroo shrugged, and gave him his most charming grin. “Technically, in about thirty minutes, when Chief Nekomata calls you for a meeting. But in a spiritual sense, I’d say about six months ago.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Akaashi grumbled as he stirred sweetener into his coffee.

Bokuto had recovered from his initial embarrassment, and threw an arm around Akaashi’s shoulders; the smaller man gave him a dirty look when he nearly spilled his drink from being jostled so suddenly. “Hey, they have a point! You’re a great vice-captain, Akaashi!”

“Is that even a real position?”

“It totally is,” Kuroo grinned. “You are officially -- well, in half an hour you will be -- Vice-Captain of Special Investigations 1st Unit. No joke.”

“I don’t understand why it’s me. I’m the newest member of the unit,” he said with half-hearted protest.

Kuroo gave him the most genuine smile Akaashi had ever seen from him. “You’re our beloved captain’s partner, and you’re damn good at what you do. Which is why I recommended you personally when Chief Nekomata created the position last week.”

“...Oh.” He bowed his head a little in respect, caught off guard by the honest words. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “That means a lot from you, Kuroo-san.”

Kuroo winked, and gave him a lazy salute. “Think nothing of it, Vice-Captain.”

Bokuto plopped down on the couch beside Akaashi and let out a deep breath. “Whew! I’m beat! Moving is hard work.” He smiled as he said it, though, and placed a quick kiss on Akaashi’s temple. “But we’re all done! Isn’t that great?”

“Yeah.” He gave Bokuto a soft, chaste kiss on the lips when his phone vibrated on the table. He reached over to grab it, settled back into Bokuto’s arms, and flipped it open to read the text he’d received. “Oh, it’s from Sarukui. A congratulations on moving in with you.”

“Sarukui is a really cool guy!” Bokuto said as Akaashi typed out a response. “We should all hang out sometime!”

“Yes, that would be nice.” A moment later, his phone vibrated yet again. “...Oh. It’s from Onaga this time.” He smiled. “He just talked to Sarukui on the way back from physical therapy, and wanted to congratulate us as well.”

Bokuto snuggled against Akaashi as he texted back and forth for a bit; he was more than content to enjoy the warmth of the other man. When he’d finished, Akaashi put the cell on his lap, and leaned back against Bokuto’s chest. With a smile, the captain began placing tiny kisses everywhere he could reach; Akaashi’s ears, his neck, his shoulders, and even his hair.

“I can’t kiss you back in this position.” The words sounded like a complaint, but he smiled as he said them.

“I guess that is a pretty big flaw in my plan, isn’t it?” Bokuto asked with a playful grin.

Akaashi sat up and turned before crawling forward; he was practically in Bokuto’s lap, with his face mere centimeters from the other man’s. “And what plan would that be?”

“To seduce you with my awesome charisma and manly charms!” he proclaimed. “Is it working?”

“Well,” Akaashi said with a quiet smile, as his breath tickled Bokuto’s lips, “it’s not as if you have to try particularly hard.”

Bokuto smiled, and leaned forward to close the remaining distance between them.

“My father wants to meet you, and my parents both want you to come over for dinner,” Akaashi said quietly, later that same evening.

Bokuto blinked at him, and set his drink down on the table. “Oh.” He looked nervous. “They, uh, know we’re a thing now, right?”

“Yes. But they don’t mind.” He smiled a little, and softly kissed the tip of Bokuto’s nose. “In fact, they’re very pleased, in all honesty.”

“Really?” Bokuto asked with a bright smile. “I mean, I met your mom briefly in the hospital, but that was before we got together!”

“They’re very impressed with you. I’ve told them about your title as captain, and your skills as a detective at length.” Bokuto seemed to perk up at this, and Akaashi sighed and shook his head. “Your love of praise is never going to fade, is it?”

“Well, I mean, I know I’m awesome, but it sure doesn’t hurt to hear it!” he laughed. “I can’t wait! When should we go over?”

“We’ll have to coordinate our schedules. Maybe sometime in the next couple of weeks.” He reached for his laptop, and made himself comfortable on the couch as he opened it up. “Now, didn’t you say you wanted to find another show to watch?”

“Oh, yeah! But first, I need to show you this really cool video that Lev told me about earlier today! It’s an owl on a skateboard!”

“...An owl on a skateboard,” he repeated flatly. “That sounds cumbersome.”

“No, not like, a regular skateboard. It’s, I dunno, an owl-sized one? It’s so cool, we have to watch it, lemme pull it up!” He leaned into Akaashi and started typing away at his keyboard. “I think this is what he typed into the search...? Oh! There it is!!”

Akaashi smiled as they watched the video; Bokuto was overjoyed. “Look! It’s so cute! Oh my god, Keiji, it’s so cute. Look at it go!”

“It is very cute,” he admitted. “Oh, look. The next video here is of an owl cafe.”

Bokuto’s eyes widened. “An owl cafe. Keiji. Keiji.”

Akaashi’s eyes crinkled as he smiled. “You know, I think there’s one about a ten minute drive from work. We could look it up, if you wanted to visit it sometime.”

“Please. Please. Oh my god, look, you can pet them. Keiji, you can pet them!”  He practically vibrated with excitement as the video played, completely captivated. “They’re so cute! How have we not been to one of these already?! Is the one nearby open? We should go right now!”

“Let’s go tomorrow,” Akaashi laughed. “It’s late. But tomorrow, we can stay as long as you’d like.”

“Seriously?! You’re the best! Hey, do they have a website? Let’s check it out!” Akaashi smiled fondly as Bokuto typed away; the captain’s eyes lit up again as he found what he was searching for. “This place looks so cool!”

“You have to be calm while we’re there, or you might scare the owls,” Akaashi said sternly. “Don’t be so loud when you’re handling them.”

“I know, I know! We should have a bunch of pictures together while we're there!” he said with a bright smile.

“I somehow get the feeling that we’re going to become regulars at this place,” Akaashi replied with a wry smile. “All right. We’ll take plenty of pictures, too.”

Bokuto kissed him, hard, and threw his arms around Akaashi’s neck as he nuzzled into the side of his face. “Awesome! I’m looking forward to it! You’re the best, Keiji!”

The following day, when they made it to the owl cafe, Akaashi ended up having to remind Bokuto to quiet down multiple times. The captain of 1st Unit was so happy, though, that he couldn’t find it in himself to be even the slightest bit irritated.

They left several hours later with almost a hundred new pictures on Bokuto’s phone, and Akaashi wondered if the smile on his face was in danger of becoming a permanent fixture.

Akaashi wasn’t sure he could pick one particular thing as his favorite part of living together with Bokuto, because there were so many to choose from.

He liked the way Bokuto kissed him, constantly, for almost every little thing -- almost as if he was making up for not being able to kiss him at work. On the nose, the ear, the cheek, his mouth -- anywhere was fair game, regardless of what Akaashi had done, or if he’d even done anything at all. He particularly liked when Bokuto would pick up his hand, and gently kiss his fingers, like he was some kind of royalty that Bokuto treasured above all else.

He liked watching Bokuto cook, and helping him -- he enjoyed their conversations as the captain would poke at whatever he was doing, and how he’d casually hold his hand at any given opportunity. The way Bokuto fished for compliments after every meal was a comforting familiarity, a routine that Akaashi found amusing.

He enjoyed the way Bokuto’s enthusiasm permeated even more aspects of his life; their supply of bath bombs never ran low, and on their days off together, they always found a way to have fun, regardless of whether they went to the owl cafe, explored the city together, or just stayed home and watched videos online. Even grocery shopping, something that Akaashi had always thought of as an annoying task of necessity, became entertaining when he was doing it with Bokuto instead of by himself.

And in their darker moments, when sometimes their own minds worked against them, it was a great comfort to have the other there, as a steady rock, and a reliable presence to keep them grounded. The shadows didn’t completely disappear, but they were much easier to bear and recover from. Akaashi knew that wasn’t always the case with relationships, so he felt lucky indeed that they complimented one another so well.

Being able to fall asleep beside Bokuto every night, and wake up to his warmth and sleepy smiles every morning, was another thing that Akaashi came to enjoy. Being held by each other as they slept felt as natural as breathing, and brought them a sense of peace and warmth.

As they stood in the kitchen together one morning, drinking coffee and holding hands, Bokuto leaned over to kiss him softly on the nose and ruffle his hair, still messy from sleep.

“I love you so much, Keiji,” he said quietly. His smile lit up his entire face, not unlike the sun climbing into the sky at dawn.

Akaashi smiled back at him, still groggy but content. “I love you too, Koutarou.”

Bokuto’s lips were warm and sweet with the taste of his coffee as Akaashi kissed him, slow and tender. A profound sense of peace washed over him, and settled deep into the corners of his soul.

Individually, we are both strong in our own rights, but together, we become something incredible. Their noses touched as he looked deep into Bokuto’s golden eyes with a soft, affectionate smile. We help each other grow and stay grounded, and every day is something to look forward to now. Bokuto beamed at him, eyes glowing with love and adoration as he pressed another soft kiss to Akaashi’s lips.

I really feel a sense of belonging that I never felt before I accepted that promotion... as if all the gears in life finally clicked together.

Bokuto threaded their fingers together, brought Akaashi’s hand up to his face, and kissed his wrist, right over his pulse. The charms of the owl bracelet he’d given him for Christmas twinkled in warm light, and Akaashi felt his heart flutter as Bokuto leaned forward to kiss him on the lips.

My name is Akaashi Keiji, Vice Captain of Metropolitan PD Special Investigations, 1st Unit. I’m dating my partner, the captain. I’ve been through hell and back, but I’m still here. I’m still standing, despite it all, and I’ve finally found true happiness.

I’m finally home.

[in the midst of winter, i found that there was, within me, an invincible summer. -albert camus]