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Perfectionism

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“It was awful,” Daichi’s classmate says. “Like a washing machine, going round and round. I don’t understand why people like it.”

The girl’s friend laughs. “Well, of course they wouldn’t like it like that. He just needs practice, that’s all.”

The girl with the washing-machine-tongue boyfriend mumbles something incoherent, and Daichi makes a conscious attempt to stop eavesdropping, glancing at Suga in silent commiseration. For once, Suga doesn’t read his mind.

“What?” he asks, one slim brow lifting.

“Kind of intimidating, isn’t it?” Daichi says. He knows he’s not the only one who overheard, because Suga is the king of eavesdropping. “You only get one chance to do it right the first time.”

Suga blinks. “What, kiss?”

“Yeah.”

“I don’t think you have to do it right the first time.”

Daichi frowns. All his life he’s strived to be good at the things he does and so far it’s worked out pretty well. He hates being bad at things, whether it’s math or a volleyball technique or kissing, and kissing isn’t something he can practice alone when no one’s looking.

Suga’s laughter pulls him out of his thoughts.

“What?” he asks.

“Your face! What, you need to be the best kisser on the planet on the first try?”

His frown deepens. Yes, that’s exactly what he needs.

Suga’s amused expression changes to something that almost looks like sympathy. “It won’t matter, you know.”

Daichi imagines his future wife recounting their first kiss: his tongue was like the spinner of a washing machine…

“I just wish it was something you could practice before you have to… perform.” He narrows his eyes, imagining it. “Like a CPR class.”

Suga raises an eyebrow. “You want to practice it. Beforehand.”

“Yeah. Are you offering?”

Suga splutters, which has the benefit of being a rare and beautiful sight. “You want to practice with me?” he asks, cheeks flushed, voice dropped low so no one eating lunch near them will hear it.

It had been a joke, but now Daichi’s considering it. Suga is pretty as a girl, and he’s a friend—Daichi’s closest, these days. “Why not?” he asks, half-smiling. He expects an immediate refusal.

Suga draws himself up in his chair, looking strangely regal. “Fine,” he says. “I’ll take pity on you.”

Surprise trickles through Daichi, and he laughs. “Okay, then.”

He wonders if Suga’s ever kissed anyone before.

 

 

Daichi isn’t sure whether he should mention Suga’s earlier promise to help. What if it seems like he’s forcing him? What if Suga was joking despite his serious expression?

The club room empties out after practice; Suga and Daichi stay behind.

“You sure you want to do this?” Suga asks. Daichi notices his curled fingers, the rapid rise and fall of his chest: he’s nervous but trying not to show it.

“You don’t have to,” Daichi says quickly. This might have been a bad idea. He doesn’t want to make Suga nervous.

Suga smiles. “It’s your choice.”

“Then let’s do this,” Daichi says, folding his arms—then abruptly unfolding them. “Ah. Um, have you done this before?”

“No,” Suga says. His brow furrows. “Who do you think I would have kissed?”

It’s a good question; if Suga was out kissing people there’s a good chance Daichi would know, or at least suspect. He’s not sure whether he’s relieved that Suga doesn’t have more experience or disheartened that he won’t be able to teach him properly.

“Well,” Daichi says, “Anyway. Should we sit or stand?”

“I think people stand? Usually?” Suga’s voice sounds a little high, but Daichi can’t blame him. He’s nervous too.

“Okay,” he says. He moves to stand opposite Suga. The smell of the club room isn’t at all romantic—sweat, deodorant, the rubber-metal smell that lingers in equipment rooms—but then this is practice. It doesn’t have to be romantic.

It’s nerve wracking enough as it is.

Suga looks at him, waiting. Daichi’s hands are heavy at his sides. In movies, people always reach out before kissing, don’t they? He lets one hand come up to cup Suga’s jaw. Suga’s skin is soft, and Daichi remembers how little Suga has to shave—less than once a week, he said once.

“Is this okay?” Daichi asks.

Suga nods mutely.

“Here I go,” Daichi mumbles, noting Suga’s amused exhale. A moment later he’s pressing their mouths together, wondering what happens next. He knows French kissing operates differently than cheek kisses, but the thought of opening his mouth and having Suga’s mouth open against his is strange, and he has no idea what he’d do after. Stick his tongue in, like washing machine man?

He opens his mouth just slightly, but Suga’s stays closed. He licks Suga’s bottom lip to get him to open his mouth too, unprepared for the shiver of nervousness that goes through him at doing something so unasked for. He hopes Suga doesn’t mind—and then Suga’s mouth opens in what Daichi can only guess is surprise.

His heart thunders at his apparent success, and he has to remind himself this is practice. It doesn’t feel like practice, beyond his inexperience; it’s just as frightening as a first kiss would be, and he has no idea what to do next with his tongue. Or rather, he knows what people do but—

Suddenly he feels a new warmth in his mouth—Suga’s tongue against his. A wave of heat crashes over him, and after holding the contact for a short time, moving his own tongue tentatively, they both draw back.

Their breathing is uneven.

“That was…” Daichi starts, but he’s not sure what it was. His body feels very light.

“Congratulations,” Suga says. “You’re a natural.”

Heat creeps down Daichi’s neck. “I don’t think so. You helped. I’m still not sure…” He trails off.

He’d like to try it again.

“So modest,” Suga says, and finally they make eye-contact; Suga looks just as self-conscious as Daichi feels, but he’s smiling. “Does that mean you want to keep going?”

Daichi scratches his cheek. “If you don’t mind?”

“Have a little more self-confidence,” Suga says. “You’re Karasuno’s reliable captain, you know.”

Daichi laughs, and steps in. This time he raises both hands to hold Suga’s face, and there isn’t the awkward pause between mouths touching and mouths moving. He feels Suga’s hands settle on his hips, radiating heat through his shirt; they have to be lava-hot to feel like that through fabric. He doesn’t notice them for long, though, his mind drawn to the feel of Suga’s tongue and the way it feels to drag his lip along Suga’s slowly.

He’s still afraid of putting his tongue in, partly because it seems like such a weird idea, putting his tongue in someone else’s mouth, and partly because he remembers the girl talking about her boyfriend and his washing machine tongue—but the small points of contact with Suga’s tongue feel good, not gross at all, and eventually he plucks up the courage to push back, push into Suga’s mouth enough to be felt, and he feels Suga’s hands clench in his shirt.

So this is what people mean when they talk about a kiss deepening—the way the slide and movement of lips and tongues turns just a little more tangible, the connection stronger, more solid, less teasing.

He likes it.

This time when they draw back he finds himself placing small kisses on Suga’s lips as the contact eases, as if drawing back in one go would be too much. When he moves back enough to see Suga’s face Suga is looking down, his cheeks red, not meeting Daichi’s stare.

Daichi needs to say something, but he’s not sure what. “Was that okay?” he asks finally, doubtfully, even though he’ll feel awful if it wasn’t because for him it felt—well, great. Much better than okay.

Suga punches his shoulder, though with none of the usual force. “You have to ask? You’ve got it. Let’s go.”

Suga turns away quickly, pulls on his coat and picks up his bag before waiting for Daichi to do the same. He does, feeling a little stunned.

He wonders if he was supposed to enjoy it as much as he did.

 

 

“If he’s the Grand King, what is Ushijima?” Yamaguchi asks.

“That’s obvious,” Hinata says. “The Emperor.

“Kingdoms don’t have kings and emperors,” Tsukishima says. “It has to be either a kingdom or an empire.”

“Says who?” Nishinoya asks; Daichi can’t help feeling he disagrees on purpose whenever Tsukishima talks.

“History,” Tsukishima says dismissively. “Maybe Oikawa is the shogun and Ushijima is the emperor. Or the opposite, depending on the period in history.”

“What does that make Kageyama?”

“Daimyo.”

Daichi stops listening when there’s a protest to that, partly because he’s used to the backdrop of these useless conversations after practice but mostly because Suga has just taken his shirt off. Daichi knows what Suga looks like without a shirt, but today his attention is caught by the uneven spread of moles across his back, more on his left than on his right. Daichi wants to touch each one in turn, trace them one to the other until he’s connected every one. It’s worrying, just like it’s worrying that he can’t look at Suga’s mouth anymore without remembering what it feels like against his.

He wishes it had taken longer to figure kissing out; he wants an excuse to try again. Maybe he can say there’s some technique he saw online that he wants to try out.

He’ll google kissing techniques when he gets home.

 

 

The next day he makes Suga help him with extra cleanup after practice, which means they’re the last to leave the club room after; the door closing behind Asahi and the second years makes his heart beat fast in his chest. It feels like an abuse of power keeping Suga behind like this, and also like being a bad friend, but if he doesn’t try this one more time he’ll always wonder what it would have been like.

“Were you trying to trap me?” Suga asks after the door closes, half-smiling, and Daichi doesn’t have the acting skills to play it cool. His face heats up.

“Yeah, actually,” he admits, rubbing at the back of his neck. Suga blinks at him in surprise.

“What is it?”

“There’s… something I wanted to try. But I was too embarrassed to ask.”

Suga goes still. He’s looking at Daichi strangely—almost like he’s being careful. “Oh?”

This time it’s Daichi’s turn to blink. “With the kissing, I mean.”

“Oh! Like a technique?”

Daichi nods, and Suga’s eyes narrow with amusement.

“Trust you to want to perfect this.”

“It’d reflect badly on the team if I was bad at something, right?”

Suga snorts. “Yeah, I’m sure they’d all know somehow.” He lifts an eyebrow. “Do I have to do anything?”

Daichi’s stomach roils with nervousness. “No, just stand there.”

Inexplicably, even though he did well last time, he’s more nervous now than he was then; his hands seem to want to shake, and he has to steady his breathing consciously. He’s glad Suga didn’t ask what it was he wanted to try because it would be embarrassing to have to explain first; instead he stands opposite him again, hands on his shoulders, and leans in.

It occurs to him that Suga is the perfect height for him: only a centimeter or two shorter, so kissing him is seamless. He could do it for any length of time, he thinks.

When their mouths finally touch—after days of not touching—something in Daichi’s chest fizzes, and the knot in his stomach loosens. Suga’s lips are soft and responsive; Daichi’s hands creep up from his shoulders to the back of his neck, then into his whisper-soft hair. He feels tingles along his spine when Suga’s mouth opens against his.

He’s forgotten what it is he wanted to try; all he wants is to keep going with their flimsy excuse in place and Suga still thinking he’s doing this out of misplaced perfectionism. He wants to drown in the bliss of Suga’s body close to his, their mouths connected. The hesitancy from the first two kisses is still there when Daichi presses his tongue into Suga’s mouth, licking and then retreating to place smaller kisses against his mouth, but there’s a sense of familiarity too. He remembers what the article online said, and sucks on Suga’s lower lip for a moment before placing his mouth back over Suga’s to deepen the kiss.

Suga’s hands grab at his shirt, pulling it tight.

Daichi loses himself in the breathless need of the moment; he has no intentions of stopping. He’d be happy to spend the next hour in here kissing Suga—but then Suga jumps and pulls away. “Um,” Suga says.

For a moment Daichi is confused, his brain addled by all the endorphins flooding his body—and then he realizes what Suga is looking down at, and what Suga must have felt through their tracksuit bottoms.

Somehow, Daichi had gotten so caught up in how great it felt to kiss Suga that he didn’t notice himself popping a boner.

“Oh god,” he says, taking a big step back before dropping to sit on his haunches, hiding his face in his hands. “I’m so sorry.”

Suga kneels down in front of him, awkwardly patting his shoulder. “It’s, um, okay.”

Daichi knows that it is very not okay. When roping friends into practice kissing sessions, popping boners has to be one of the first things on the list of don’ts—probably at the very top, and he blew it. The yawning chasm of guilt disappears, though, when Suga draws his hands away from his face and leans in to kiss him.

His mouth goes slack under Suga’s, surprise keeping him from responding. Suga draws back quickly, color high on his cheeks, his eyes lowered. They rise up slowly to meet his, communicating something Daichi doesn’t have the words for.

Daichi stares in blank incomprehension.

After a second—maybe two—the open expression on Suga’s face changes to one of horror, and he scoots back. He looks just like Daichi felt a moment ago.

“Oh god,” Suga says, the color on his cheeks spreading. “I totally misjudged. I—”

He scrambles as if he’s trying to get up, so Daichi grabs his wrist, holding him in place until he can sort out his thoughts. Mainly he’s stuck on the fact that Suga kissed him after knowing how it was affecting him. There was no disgust, just—tacit acceptance.

“Daichi,” Suga says, trying to shake his hand off. He looks desperate.

“Were you trying to be nice?” Daichi asks.

That stops Suga’s fidgeting. “What? No.”

“Then what?”

Suga falls back onto his butt, slumping, his wrist still caught. “Isn’t it obvious?”

Daichi’s stomach is squirming. Is he reading this right? How else should he read it? “You like me?”

Suga covers his face with his free hand. “Yeah. So when… that happened… I thought maybe I hadn’t been alone in that. But you really were just practicing. Oh, god.”

Now Daichi feels like hiding, and maybe burying his face in a pillow for a solid week, but the light feeling in his stomach isn’t wholly unpleasant.

“To start with I was practicing,” he says honestly, needing Suga to stop feeling guilty. “But then during and after it was… way nicer than it should have been.”

Suga lifts his head. “It was?”

Daichi raises his eyebrows. “Well, yeah. Obviously.”

They look at each other for a moment longer—and then Suga throws his head back and laughs, and Daichi is left grinning ruefully. His hand slips down Suga’s wrist to his hand, and he holds that instead. Suga grips back.

“What a mess,” Daichi says, but it doesn’t feel bad for all that it’s a mess; Suga likes him; Suga might be willing to kiss him without flimsy excuses in the future. Even though he’s sure there’s a million things to consider—how this will affect the team, what this means for him and Suga—all he can really think about is the miracle of Suga liking him.

“Is that why you agreed?” he asks. “Because you liked me already?”

“Well, yeah. I’m not that good of a friend.” Suga smiles at him. “But it’s a pretty weird thing to suggest, you have to admit.”

“In hindsight, yes.”

Suga laughs again, and Daichi’s chest fills with a weird glowy feeling at the sound of it.

“It was bad of me to agree anyway,” Suga says. “But I thought that was the only way I’d get to kiss my straight high school crush, so…”

Daichi shakes his head, smiling.

“Well, anyway,” Suga says, and embarrassment creeps back into his posture. “That’s that sorted.”

But it’s not, Daichi thinks, an edge of panic to the thought. “Will you go out with me?” he blurts. He should think about this, really, but he can’t stand to leave them both hanging like this. If Suga says no it’ll be a different matter; he’ll let it go with both hands.

“You mean that?” Suga’s voice is doubtful.

“Well, we wouldn’t be able to tell everyone but… yes?”

Suga nods slowly, color spreading across his face. “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Yeah. I meant yeah. Yes, Daichi, I’ll go out with you.”

Daichi grins, and Suga punches his knee.

Daichi wonders if this means Suga will let him trace the marks on his back, one day.