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say you love me

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A year ago, Oikawa Tooru would have never guessed that he’d ever even entertain the idea of spending time alone with Kuroo Tetsurou, let alone every day.

But somehow, like a splinter, Kuroo had dug deep and found himself a home under Oikawa’s skin.

He is everywhere Oikawa looks, even when he isn’t actually in front of him.

He is in the smell of fresh-cut grass because of that one time he had somehow convinced Oikawa to play a round on the local golf course so early in the morning not even God had been awake yet. He is in the every now and again rush of air, cool and brisk, when a stranger passes Oikawa by, bringing chills up along the nape of his neck. He is the every blood-red horizon pooling over the draining sky.

Oikawa glances over to his side and watches as Kuroo yawns, long and loud like a lion. Just a moment later and the big cat analogy falls short as Kuroo wrinkles his nose and sighs, looking more like a kitten than anything else.

He catches Oikawa’s gaze wonderingly, asks, “Whatcha thinkin’ ‘bout?”

“Cats.” He responds, fingers lacing beneath his chin, eyes narrowing. “What about you?”

Kuroo raises a brow and though his eyes are still heavy with sleep they’re also bright with something Oikawa can’t really decipher this early in the morning. The sun’s still slowly marching its way across the sky, birds fluttering outside the café looking for twigs and day-old pieces of gum for their nests. Oikawa runs a hand through his hair and doesn’t hide the smile that curls over his lips, slow-moving like a sigh.

“Sleep,” Kuroo groans, nestling back further into his massive red sweatshirt. “My bed. Food.”

“Boring.” Oikawa drags the word out like a song, rolls his eyes and returns to chewing on the straw of his iced mocha cappuccino. He scratches at his side and slurps at his straw until he tastes the bottom of his cup, the leftover tufts of whipped cream wrapped around squares of ice.

After a heavy sigh, Oikawa flashes Kuroo a surefire grin and says, “Well, duty calls.”

He stands and adjusts his bag, wraps a hand around his cup and turns with a halfhearted wave over his shoulder, the only acknowledgement Kuroo gets. He knows it’s a game, knows that Oikawa would never just walk away and expect Kuroo to let him, not without some sort of affectionate rejoinder. He knows this, so he stays.

He watches Oikawa’s steps slow, marginally, watches his shoulders tense as he disposes of his cup and gets closer and closer to the entrance, watches him walk out of the shop, and even still, he stays.

Oikawa heads to class alone and untouched and tries not to show it, but it’s there sitting in his stomach like a stone, weighing him down, turning him sluggish, wilting his tree branch shoulders.

Disappointment.

 

 

“Tooru, hold up,” at his name, Oikawa turns and pretends like his cheeks aren’t stained pink and his heart isn’t in his throat, fluttering like a prisoner about to escape.

“Yeah?”

“Here,” Kuroo says, coming to a stop right in front of him and offering a shy smile, slightly abashed though Oikawa doesn’t know what for. He reaches out and for a moment Oikawa thinks that he is going to place his hand over Oikawa’s heart, his eyes wide and his mouth dropping open just enough to let a quick breath escape. But Kuroo’s fingers don’t linger long enough for his palm to make contact, rather he plucks at something on the collar of Oikawa’s shirt and his hand comes away with a single strand of red thread.

He glances from the thread and back down to Oikawa, his cheeks flaming. He shrugs halfheartedly at the look Oikawa gives him, merely says, “You had this on you all morning.”

Oikawa’s eyes trace the sharp slash of Kuroo’s eyes and drop to the thread hanging from his long fingers, idly twisting.

“Ah,” he says, trying to get his heart back under control without letting Kuroo know that anything is different at all in the first place. He clears his throat, eyes still tracing the thread for a moment before coming back up to see Kuroo’s a step behind, trailing up Oikawa’s throat, over the crest of his cheekbone and back to his eyes. “Thanks.”

Oikawa reaches out and pinches the thread between his fingers, clenching his jaw. He drops the thread and doesn’t watch it flutter to the ground, rather he glances off to the side, unable to meet Kuroo’s searching gaze when his heart’s still too close to slipping off his tongue, through his teeth, into the air between them. He watches the movement of the people around them, those shopping at vendors and those heading towards unknown destinations, everyone with somewhere to be. He runs a hand through his hair and scratches idly at the back of his neck.

“Do I get a reward?”

Eyes flashing, surprised and disbelieving, Oikawa meets Kuroo’s gaze and laughs. Kuroo’s cheeks are red and his lips are pushed to the side, almost as if he’d been trying to keep those words locked away, but his eyes stare unblinkingly, heavy and tired but piercing in a way that Oikawa still can’t figure out. Kuroo is the only person Oikawa knows that can be bone-weary and exhausted and still manage to look intent with only a glance.

“A reward?” Oikawa scoffs, shaking his head and readjusting the strap of his bag on his shoulder, a nervous habit he can’t break. “You’re gonna have to work harder than that, Tetsu-chan.”

Without waiting for Kuroo’s response or reaction, Oikawa turns and determinedly heads towards his first class, not looking back, even once—payback.

Kuroo watches the familiar line of Oikawa’s shoulders walk away from him, the seaside sway of his hips, the casual grace of every step, and puts his hands in his pockets.

He smiles.

 

 

Oikawa feels the armrest digging into his tailbone, his shoulder blades pressing hard against the window. There’s a streetlight several yards away that just barely reaches their taillights, the fine fingers of it filtering through the rear window. Kuroo bites at his lips, his tongue running against the fronts of Oikawa’s teeth and he’s hot and cornered and he can’t even think.

Kuroo’s hands are strong; they’re the first part of Kuroo that Oikawa ever actually paid attention to, balanced and secure under a volleyball, restless on a tabletop, steady on his skin. He threads his fingers through Oikawa’s hair, right above his ears, and holds his face still as he bites at Oikawa’s upper lip.

Oikawa moans, he can’t help it; his heart is a beast inside of him hungry for more of, well, everything. Kuroo’s hands, his lips, his tongue and teeth and the intent angle of his hips pressed so close to Oikawa’s, cradled against his groin—he’s hungry for it all.

“Ahh,” he gasps, his cheeks flaming, his hands shaking. It’s still embarrassing, to this day, that hands as steady as his refuse to stay so in the face of everything that is Kuroo Tetsurou. All Kuroo has to do is smile just right, with one side ticked up higher than the other, sunlight dancing over his features, and Oikawa feels his control slipping through the cracks. Quaking bones and hairline fractures all over his skin—in front of Kuroo and his devastating smile, Oikawa shifts from a contained storm and becomes quivering aftershocks.

Oikawa wraps his hands around Kuroo’s shoulders, digs under his shirt, and drags his nails against his skin. Kuroo hisses against him and it’s not an unpleasant sound, makes Oikawa feel heady and powerful. The deepest scratch comes from the ring finger of his right hand, a straight red thread directly over his heart.

Kuroo leans down, kisses his way over Oikawa’s jaw until his mouth is hovering over the pulse beating in his neck and says, “Yeah, yeah.”

Oikawa hears more than feels his button being popped, his zipper being pulled. He opens his eyes and sees the whirlwind of black hair shifting in front of him as Kuroo continues to suck on his neck, his hand steady and sure as he reaches beneath the waistband of Oikawa’s briefs.

He bites his lip when Kuroo’s hand reaches him, wraps around and slides his thumb along the underside until he’s nudging at the head of him, exhaling against the tender skin of his throat. Oikawa’s body bends, bows up towards Kuroo, pushes himself further against him, uncaring of the way his shoulder blades dig further into the window, or the fact that anyone can walk by and see them, even if it is late at night and they’re right outside of Oikawa’s apartment.

Kuroo kisses his way down to Oikawa’s collarbone as his hand starts to piston, kissing the bony line and curve of it and breathing soft words Oikawa can barely hear against his skin. He wraps his legs around Kuroo’s waist, presses them as close together as he can without hindering Kuroo’s hand, his progress.

He opens his eyes when he feels Kuroo’s lips leave his skin, focuses in on the haze of lust that throws Kuroo’s expression into shadows, his bright eyes, his open mouth. He licks his bottom lip and watches Oikawa’s panting breaths, watches the heat spread over the bridge of his nose and knows from experience that it’s touching the tips of his ears.

Kuroo does something with his thumb that makes Oikawa sob, makes his face shatter with pleasure, makes him think of the first day of summer and volleyball championships and winning, and Kuroo swallows his expression whole.

Oikawa opens his eyes and sees the fond expression bleeding through the lust on Kuroo’s face, focuses in on his lips as they wrap around words he’s never expected to hear from Kuroo.

“Love you,” he says, and he’s so sincere and brash about it that it makes Oikawa start to cry, makes him bite down on his lip and moan through his teeth as he climaxes between them. Kuroo laughs—a quiet morning, dew on the grass kind of laugh—and Oikawa leans forward and tastes the salt of his upper lip.

“Idiot,” he whispers, sniffling, nudging their foreheads together and closing his eyes as Kuroo rests against him, still hard and flustered and out of breath but content to move in Oikawa’s time.

Oikawa keeps his eyes closed, feels tear tracks slide down his cheeks, knows without having to look that Kuroo’s eyes are open. He nudges their noses together, embarrassingly affectionate, and whispers, “Me too.”

The red line of skin torn over Kuroo’s heart beads and leaves a scarlet stain against his crisp white shirt, which he doesn’t find until much later that night.

When he discovers it, he doesn’t mind.

He just laughs.

 

 

“Why does this always happen?” Oikawa huffs, holding the long red thread between his fingertips, right in front of his eyes. He refocuses around it on Kuroo’s amused ochre eyes and frowns. “What are you laughing at? This is your fault! I don’t wear red very often.”

“Maybe,” Kuroo admits, grinning. “But don’t you find it kind of ironic?”

“Ironic?” Oikawa asks, purposely skeptical. He raises an eyebrow and casually pockets the red thread; he pretends like he doesn’t notice the way Kuroo watches him do so, or the way Kuroo grins because of it. He sniffs.

“Well, we ran into each other when we first met, remember? I was wearing my red sweatshirt and a red thread rubbed off on you. And like now, almost every time we’re together, we find a red thread somewhere on our clothing.”

Oikawa stares at him, blinking slowly. “I still don’t see the irony. You wear a lot of red.”

Kuroo rolls his eyes, still grinning. “Haven’t you ever heard of the red string of fate?”

Oikawa pauses, deliberate, and turns his eyes away. He pretends to contemplate, even brings a hand up to his chin while he thinks. He can feel Kuroo’s eyes on his face, burning a hole in him, all too knowing. He hums and shakes his head, says, “The what?”

Kuroo knows that Oikawa knows what he’s talking about, and he also knows that Oikawa is pretending not to know what he’s talking about because he’s a difficult person by nature. Still, for some strange reason Kuroo can’t put into words, he finds Oikawa Tooru amusing—even more than that, he finds him endearing, difficult personality and all. Maybe it’s his inherent love of games or his cunning nature, easily as innate, but something about the challenge of Oikawa—who absolutely refuses to show him the same level of affection in public as he does behind closed doors—makes him feel refreshed and invigorated.

It’s a game he’s all too interested in playing; the rewards of Oikawa’s blush, of making him lose his cool and start tripping over his words, of his jumpy responses to Kuroo’s tender touches against his shoulders, his nape, his tailbone—all of it lights a fire under his skin.

So instead of giving a proper answer, because he knows Oikawa doesn’t actually need it and now that they’re playing again he plans to win, he says, “Look it up later,” and he moves in close, crowding Oikawa back against his own apartment door. He watches Oikawa swallow and feels his own cheeks begin to heat, his heart thundering in his chest. “I think it fits us.”

Oikawa rolls his eyes, playing it cool. He blows a burst of air up at his bangs and says, “Sure, okay, I’ll look it up later. Doesn’t sound cute at all, though.”

Kuroo smiles and thinks you’re cute and is glad that for once his thought remains his own and doesn’t become something he’s accidentally said. He glances down to Oikawa’s lips and leans in slowly, gives Oikawa plenty of time to turn away if he wants to. Instead, Oikawa tilts his chin up, just slightly, his amber eyes wide and bright as Kuroo’s lips touch his, soft and sweet.

Kuroo pulls back just enough to be able to speak, his lips moving against Oikawa’s as he says, “I’ll call you tomorrow, Tooru.”

Oikawa’s eyes are on Kuroo’s lips, crossing slightly at their close proximity. His breath smells like fruit loops and his lips are chapped but for some reason Kuroo can’t get enough of him, leans back in and kisses him a little more thoroughly, a proper good morning, a teasing goodbye.

He presses their foreheads together and pats Oikawa’s pocket, smiling so fondly down at Oikawa that his eyes squint almost completely shut when he says, “Keep that safe for us.”

For a flicker of a moment Oikawa looks scandalized and a little impressed but then he remembers the little red thread in his pocket and his cheeks become a canvas of spilled paint, red from ear to ear. He looks down at the ground and nods his head, a quick jerky motion, clearly embarrassed. Kuroo leans back, equally as embarrassed to have been the one to have said something so cheesy, and tucks his hands in his pockets. He nods his head and turns, heading down the steps towards the street where his car is still parked. He yawns on the way down, feels Oikawa’s eyes on his back.

When he gets to the gate, he turns over his shoulder and waves to Oikawa, who waves back with a smirk before crossing his arms over his chest. Kuroo walks to his car, gets in, and drives off in a matter of minutes, leaving Oikawa standing atop his front steps in an old shirt of Kuroo’s and his jeans from the night before, trying not to smile.

He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the little read string, unfurls it to work out the knots, and holds it between his two thumbs and pointer fingers. It’s a short, tiny, useless thing, really. Just a stray thread of a sweatshirt that Kuroo had been wearing when he rubbed up against Oikawa, something that could have just as easily fallen to the ground and been as lost to them as it was found.

And yet, somehow, the longer Oikawa looks at it, the more it feels like something special. He runs his finger over it in contemplation, finally letting that unbidden smile break free, brightening his entire expression like a slow sunrise.

“Red string of fate,” he says aloud, shaking his head. “What a dork.”

Even still, he tucks that little red string back into his pocket.

And then he laughs.