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You Can't Just Say Things Like That

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Kazuya’s bare feet pressed against the kitchen tiles, dimly illuminated by the stove light as he stirred pasta. Diffuse light caught on the edges of his spine, shirt rumpling at the base where I liked to press my fingers against the indents. A warm, syrupy feeling spread through my chest, cool evening air breathing in from the window and sending steam swirling through the air.

“Eijun.” I hummed in response. “Can you grab the plates, the sauce is almost done.”

“Can do.” Crickets chirped along with the rattling of plates, and I took a deep breath, enjoying the smell of fresh air, pasta sauce and Kazuya’s aftershave.

It was a surprisingly pleasant evening for late fall, mild and crisp. I flipped some glasses onto the table, setting down silverware.

Kazuya turned with dinner in hand, hair sticking up slightly where it was still wet after his shower, sweats canting low on his hips under the ridiculous red shirt he’d had since his second year of high school which was faded after too many washes. His toes wiggled against the tiles and my throat closed up suddenly. I swallowed, struggling to hold back tears against the feeling expanding unbearably large in my chest.

“Eijun?” Plates were set down and Kazuya waved, trying to get my attention. I blinked rapidly, sniffing, and a rogue tear slid down my face. It was like opening the flood gates and I pressed my hands to my mouth, looking toward the open window where the sun was plunging into the horizon in a last ditch effort to save my pride.

“Sorry, sorry, I’m fine.” I squeaked out, laughing slightly and blinking down more tears. The laugh turned watery and I couldn’t stop the smile, sniffling.

“But you don’t- is something wrong, did something happen?” He sounded so worried, a tone I had been certain wasn’t even within Kazuya’s realm of possible emotions when I’d first met him. I took in a shuddering breath, almost overwhelmed but just how much-

“I love you, you know that? I love you so much.” My voice cracked on the last syllable. Kazuya broke out of whatever trance he’d been in, striding to the other side of the table and pulling me up before wrapping me in a bone crushing hug. My shoulders were shaking. “Sometimes I just see you around the house, cooking, reading, making plays, and I just get so overwhelmed by it.” The words were muffled against Kazuya's shirt, the damp heat and solid muscle of him comforting and pleasant. “You in that dumb shirt you like so much, with all your hats, and that ridiculous smirk, and all your cookbooks, how dare you be so perfect.”

I sucked in a deep breath and leaned back, Kazuya gripped me tighter, fingers clenching into my hoodie. I was confused until his minute shudders became apparent, his hands shaking against my back. I craned my neck, only getting a face full of hair for my efforts.

“I love you too.” He whispered against my neck, the words curling and intimate.

Oh.

It wasn’t the first time he’d said it, though I remembered that one clearly too, but something about the phrase felt real and very close, like I’d let someone into a part of my soul that had never been opened before.

“And sometimes I just can’t contain it and I’m sure it just comes pouring out like vomit or something horribly embarrassing.” He laughed slightly, self-deprecating. "I wonder how everyone can’t see it, how much I want to wrap you up and never let go.” Kazuya squeezed tighter, and I was feeling a little breathless, though whether that was the hug or his words was up for debate.

I was sure that was where he would leave off, progress and maturity or not, my significant other wasn’t the type to wax poetic. He had the emotional range of a teaspoon some days, and was overly reticent the rest.

“You know how you said you came to Seido because of me?” I twitched toward him, nodding. He chuckled. “Sometimes I wonder how much of me knew that first day. You were some idiot middle schooler mouthing off, totally fearless, the biggest idiot with these huge eyes and a blinding grin, and that final pitch. I knew I was so fucked.”

He paused, hesitating. Kazuya doesn’t hesitate to say a lot of things, he’s a little bit too much of an asshole to really hold back on brutal honesty, and if he has to talk about his feelings it’s usually detached and matter of fact. But he hesitated.

“You should marry me."

I froze, chin on his shoulder, before scrabbling back, prodding at him and wriggling to freedom until finally, finally, I could claim that mouth, palms framing Kazuya’s jaw with single minded purpose before breaking away breathlessly.

His face was red and debauched, eyes puffy and glasses knocked slightly off kilter. I had seen a lot of his expressions in my time, had slowly formed a catalogue of them. That smirk when he was teasing, the tiny quirk when he was actually happy, the wide-eyed wonder of surprise.

He was staring at me that way he stares at baseball. My breath caught.

“You can’t just- say things like that and expect me not to do anything.” I said, flushing. “Besides, I was going to ask first, you totally stomped on my plan and there was a plan.” The frozen expression broke and he cracked a smile. It grew before my eyes, becoming something unruly and bright, laughter bubbling up, just as honest and bright. He looked five years younger, and my heart clenched so violently I thought I might die.

“That wasn’t an answer you idiot.” He said in the midst of laughter. I blustered, punching him in the chest.

That watery feeling came back as I looked at Kazuya’s sharp gold eyes, the strong line of his nose, the soft brush of his fringe against deceptively long eyelashes, cords of muscle from hundreds upon hundreds of hours of practice, and bare feet peeking out from his sweatpants against the floor.

“Christ, Kazuya, you have to ask to get an answer.” I said, knocking a fist against his chest. I looked down seriously, and held up a hand. “Wait here a second.” I spun around, smiling ruefully at the sight of our pasta sitting forgotten on the kitchen table. This was more important though.

I jogged into our bedroom, dirty clothes escaping the hamper and various framed pictures of our team’s through the years and family on the walls and a candid photo of Kazuya and I on my bedside table, I was in the middle of an argument, face flushed in irritation while he stared at my distracted ranting with so much affection it practically exuded from the photo.

I sifted through my junk drawer, reaching into the very back and yanking out a box before hurrying back out, scrabbling a few roque pens and tubes of chapstick back into the drawer. Kazuya looked like he had just returned from a mad scramble as well, holding something in his hands.

“That better not be a baseball, Sawamura Eijun, I will not be impressed.” He teased, but from the shakiness of his smirk I could assume he was nervous. Late afternoon sunlight lit him up, highlighting his eyes in gold.

“Hm? Kazuya, catch.” I tossed the small box I was holding, smiling. He snapped it open and flushed, Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed and if there was a clear film of tears gathering in his eyes I was nice enough not to tell him I’d seen it. A solid band of platinum sat inside, plain and simple enough to be worn even on the field.

He padded up and pressed his own into mine. It was almost the exact same design, the sizing slightly different. My smile fell when I saw the tiny inscription on the inside.

I showed Kazuya his and his eyes widened. Great minds think alike, I guess.


Partner.

“So, partner, what do you think? Even though I’m emotional and loud and an idiot who ‘can’t throw straight’ and ‘has no control’-“ We grinned at each other, those issues had been solved a long time ago. “-will you stick with me?” I fiddled with Kazuya’s fingers. “Will you marry me?”

He set down the little boxes and calmly pulled out the rings, deftly capturing my hand and sliding it on before sliding on his own.

“Yes.” He said. "And how about you, is all this sarcasm wrapped up in human form going to be enough?" I grinned.

"I've followed your lead this long, the rest of my life doesn't sound so bad." We smiled at each other for a couple of seconds before Kazuya kissed me softly before releasing me and with the same devilish smirk that had gotten me into all this trouble he leaned forward and licked my face.

“Aw, gross!” I squawked, scrubbing at my cheek.

“No take-backs.” He cackled, marching over to the table. “Now eat the fucking dinner I made you, you sappy idiot, it’s getting cold."

“I can’t believe you did that, we were having a moment.” I grumbled, flopping into the chair and picking up my fork. I bit in, moaning in appreciation. “Never mind, I just remembered why I want you around.” Kazuya pressed a hand to his chest in mock pain.

“You only love me for my cooking."

“Absolutely."

But I caught him staring at the ring with an expression of longing and love and apprehension and even though my partner was a worrier he was my worrier and I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to ask him to stay with me for the rest of my life.

I took another bite of pasta.