Bokuto Koutarou was ready to do this.
Bare chested, in his comfiest sweatpants, he settled down into his huge bed. His laptop was sitting on some books so that it wouldn’t overheat. There was lotion on the bedside table in case he needed it. He figured that he probably would. Feather was sleeping on the floor: he could hear her snores, so she probably wasn’t going to interrupt anything.
It was now or never.
Opening up his browser, he found the guy that Terushima had recommended and clicked on the first video.
Tucking his hand under the waistband of his pants, he leaned back on his pillow and tried to relax.
See, it had started awhile back.
“Your bed is for sleep and sex,” his doctor had insisted. “If you bring screens into the bedroom, you will almost certainly have difficulty sleeping.”
Well, Bokuto listened. He’d been doing what medical science insisted on for about three weeks now. You’d think doctors would know what they were doing, but you’d be wrong. Maybe ideally his bed was for sleep and sex, but since he wasn’t getting much of the first or any of the second, he’d decided that he was gonna try something new.
Except that so far he couldn’t think of a single thing to try. So, he did what he always did when he had a problem…
“I dunno man,” Kuroo shrugged, sipping his gin and tonic. “I sleep like a baby, even when Kenma’s got his phone screen glowing next to my head. Pretty sure I’m insomnia-proof, my guy.”
They were sitting in the same shitty bar at the same shitty table where they’d been meeting since their second year of college. The meetings had started as a “study group,” then became a place to talk about their weekend exploits, and now they were just a chance for bunch of adults to complain. Next to Kuroo, Yukie was shoving fried squid into her mouth like it was going to disappear forever. Daichi was out of the country making buckets of money, and Terushima was… oh, there he was.
“What’re you all talking about?” The blonde sat down, enormous pink frozen drink in his hand. “Insomnia? Damn, that shit’s rough. How long have you had it?”
“That’s just the thing!” Bokuto sat his beer down too hard, and it sloshed over the side of the glass. “I’ve always slept! No problems! But lately, I just can’t dude. Like, there’s been budget cuts and that always gets me so worked up. I can’t even read out loud without practicing till I pretty much memorize it – I’m gonna be the first to go when layoffs start! Can’t stop worrying about that shit at night, can’t calm down, can’t sleep.”
“You try jerking off?”
Kuroo cackled, “This asshole gets energized after he gets off. Daytime sex, or an all-nighter: those are your choices.” Yukie snorted, then nearly choked on her squid.
“Where’d you get that info?” Terushima twirled the paper umbrella on the edge of his glass.
“Wouldn’t you like to know, Yuuji?”
“I’m just curious,” Terushima sighed petulantly, “but anyway, Kou, I’ve had insomnia my whole life. Think I’ve gotten half as much sleep as any other twenty-nine-year-old. Nothing works.”
Bokuto’s heart sank, but Terushima wasn’t done. He leaned forward, still holding his ridiculous drink in one hand.
“But, I do know all the tricks that work for other people, so listen up…”
It was a few days later when Bokuto looked it up on an afternoon when the library was completely empty but he was stuck at the reference desk anyway. A pretty appropriate time to do some research.
“Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a euphoric experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine, precipitating relaxation.”
He must have been making a face because when he looked up, Yachi, the branch’s only other librarian (and his boss), was staring at him with concern.
“Koutarou-kun, is… everything okay?”
“Ah, yeah Yacchan,” he licked his lip. “Have you ever heard of this stuff, though?”
“Well they’re like…” he waved his hands as he tried to explain, “whispery videos? You watch them and then get tickly feelings at the back of your head that make you relax? Maybe?”
Yachi blinked, then her mouth formed a wide ‘oh’. “You mean ASMR! Yes, I have! Kei suggested Tadashi and I look into it because we get anxious a lot. It doesn’t do much for ‘Dashi but I love the videos where people cook miniature foods! They really help when I’m trying to calm down.”
Bokuto leaned back in his chair the way you weren’t supposed to, “How do they work, though? Just… seein’ tiny foods helps you chill out?”
Yachi laughed, “No, it’s not really seeing that does it. Well, it’s watching the process? And for me it’s even more the sounds that come with it – the little taps of the knives and things. A lot of people’s ASMR is triggered by sound, so whisper videos can be good if you’re just starting.”
Bokuto was even more confused than before.
“Eh, sorry,” Yachi scratched the back of her head. “It’s almost easier if you just watch, but, hmm… did you ever sit somewhere quiet and hear a sound… like a click, or a crinkle, and it made you feel really nice? Like your head was all tingly?”
He wasn’t sure if it counted but, “Well, when Feather was a pup she used to make these little clicky noises when she was excited. I did like ‘em a lot. Dunno about tingles though…”
“You should probably try!” Yachi interrupted with a smile, “I only know the food channels now, but I’m sure that I could find some…”
“Yuuji wrote some down for me. I just, I dunno, Yacchan, when you look stuff up about it, it seems pretty fake.”
“Where have you been looking?” Yachi peered around the screen. “Wikipedia!” she tsked. “Did you look anywhere else? Like those five articles they cited in the clinical research part?”
Bokuto shook his head.
“What kind of librarian are you?” she teased with a giggle that sounded like flowers blooming.
“The lazy dyslexic kind,” he chuckled, “who’s prolly at the same reading level as the kids he orders books for.”
After apologizing for nearly a half hour, Yachi spent the rest of the day leaving encouraging sticky notes wherever she thought he might find them. Bokuto felt as bad as she did. He sometimes forgot that though he could joke about his reading struggles with lots of people, Yachi was not one of them.
At the end of the day, after one last apology, she urged him to just try watching the weird whisper videos. Since the sweetest and the smartest two people he knew were telling him the things worked (and Kuroo insisted there was no reason not to try), Bokuto decided to suck up his pride. He’d feel dumber than usual if nothing happened, but if all he did was listen to some weirdo with nothing better to do than whisper into a microphone, no one would be around to see it happen.
He’d stopped at the convenience store on the way back to his apartment because Terushima had also said that certain smells could help people relax. There hadn’t been any candles or diffusers or anything, so he’d bought a bottle of lavender lotion hoping that might help.
After walking Feather he made a light meal. When he was finished, he took a real long bath, until his fingers and toes were pruned so much they almost hurt. He walked the dog again, and then was settled in bed, waiting for the video to start, wondering if he should have just started with melatonin and… smelling the lotion?
But it was too late.
The only thing he could see on the screen was the sunset from an apartment balcony. It was actually pretty nice, definitely somewhere in Tokyo. Then he heard the small pop of a microphone turning on, the almost imperceptible rustle of someone leaning forward to speak. And in that hovering moment of almost silence, there was a tingle, maybe? He wasn’t quite sure. But there wasn’t time to figure it out because–
“Hello, my friends…”
Galaxies exploded to life at the crown of his skull, and rolled down his spine.
“Yacchan, you were right!” Bokuto yelled, striding through the doors. Of the library. A place with at least a reputation for quiet. An old man stared at him from the circulation desk as Aone checked out his books. Then Bokuto got his sweater vest caught on the entrance gate in his excitement and he kinda made an ass of himself tripping all over the place. But none of that mattered because he had gotten nine full hours of sleep. Nine!
“That’s wonderful, Bokuto-kun,” Yachi power walked him to her office, looking torn between joy and severe anxiety. “Please don’t yell in front of our patrons, though?”
“OH. Yeah, sorry,” he scratched his head. “I just got excited y’know, cause I feel so rested? Man, my head felt so good, that stuff you said, that tingly feeling? I thought it was some kind of weird sex thing, but it was the opposite. It was like, the whole back of my head and neck was just… having a party! But like, a chill kind of party. Then I fell right asleep!”
“That’s wonderful Bokuto-kun,” Yachi was sincere, but she was also starting to tremble, “but have you forgotten that you have a story hour thirty minutes from now? The volunteer has been here for fifteen minutes, and I have to leave now for the board meeting.” She yanked on her suit jacket, looking three hundred times more businesslike than normal.
Bokuto just kinda gaped.
“I know I set this up while you were on vacation but, as I explained last week, he’s a voice actor and a friend of Kei’s. We have copies of his clearances, and he’s picked out the book he’ll be reading. Just keep him comfortable and happy until the children arrive?”
“Well, course, that’s my job n’stuff,” Bokuto chuckled, gut twisting for messing up but not wanting to make her feel any worse.
Yachi’s face went white, “I didn’t mean you were doing a bad job, Bokuto-kun. I would have appreciated you coming in a bit early today… of course I forgot to tell you that and…” she blinked, as though she were remembering something.
“No. I am in charge. I don’t have to apologize,” she muttered to herself, then looked up sternly. “Bokuto-kun, I understand you’ve been having difficulty sleeping, but I would appreciate it if next time you remember what we have scheduled, especially if it is in your area of responsibility. That way if you can’t make it in time, you can at least let me know.”
“You got it Yachi-san. Sorry I forgot.”
She gave a sharp nod and marched past the circulation desk and out the door.
He’d known Yachi for a long time, in the mixed up way that hits in your mid-twenties when people start to move or have kids, and no one has any friends anymore. What you do have is lots of work acquaintances and neighbors who seem like they could be cool. Maybe. Those people end up being the ones you gotta risk making friends with.
A big risk, cause you gotta see em even if the friendship fails, but if you don’t take it, you end up alone eventually.
Yachi’d been one of those risks. His coworker before the library system lost their mind and decided to send him to grad school, she started drinking with him to commiserate his course load. That had gone good, but then she’d started seeing his best friend – a huge risk. But she ended up being friends with both of them even after she and Kuroo broke up.
She was gentle with Bokuto usually: firstly because she was nice, but also because he was pretty… sensitive.
He knew it. And he hated it. It was probably why he couldn’t sleep. Things upset him for way too long and he didn’t know how to chill. When things were bad, he was some flavor of upset all the time. He misinterpreted people’s behavior a lot. Either thought they were being kind or cruel when they weren’t, and it tended to fuck things up.
Since Yachi had issues herself – a ton of management anxiety – they helped each other out. Bokuto had a therapist too, and she’d told him stuff to do to ground himself, but it was still really hard to not listen to his brain when it whispered, “you’re the worst” and everybody around seemed to agree.
But the reader guy was waiting.
Bokuto walked past the offices, then around the curved wall of the building to the children’s section. His section. It sat, cheerful and bright, with jewel toned beanbags on the floor, a mural of birds turning into stars that Yukie had painted on the biggest wall, and lots of animal puzzles and other toys for really little kids to play with. He’d spent like three months figuring out the best way to decorate the space so that it would be comfy for kids and make them wanna read. Turns out that he’d done an awesome job.
There were already a bunch of kids. A little boy with an owl backpack and his mom: regulars. A dad who’d used to come twice a week, but had stopped for a while. Now he was back with not only his daughter, but infant twins in a stroller. There were a lot of others who greeted him happily, their children asking him to help them pick out books.
It wasn’t hard to find the volunteer. Mostly because he was wearing all black in a sea of primary colors. He was tall and slender, and the black showed that off. His shirt had weird sleeves that hooked over his thumbs. It would have looked stupid as hell on anybody else, but on him, it just looked like he needed that extra thumb coverage.
Also he stood out because he was almost insultingly gorgeous.
Bokuto knew some damn fine-looking people, a variety to suit any taste: Kuroo was wild and mysterious, Kenma was… otherworldly? Yachi was adorable, Yukie was all curves, Daichi looked like he’d take care of you forever, and Terushima screamed “bad boy with a heart of gold." Bokuto himself had two angles: handsome and hideous, and he had no idea how to work either. But with those odds, he was sexy at least half the time.
Despite being comfortable around attractive people, hell, being one of them even, he did get nervous and stupid around hotties from time to time. But this reader guy was so far out of his league he might actually be the most approachable person Bokuto had ever seen. That’s how little chance he had.
Well, if Bokuto could actually approach him. There were about a dozen little kids pulling at his slacks, asking him to sing a song. When Bokuto finally freed himself, he saw the volunteer letting himself into the bathroom. With only ten minutes left until everything was supposed to begin, he figured he’d just catch up with him afterwards.
With one minute left before the start, the bathroom door opened. The man walked out, looking even more stunning than before, with shimmering galaxies painted above his brilliant green eyes.
“Mama, his eyes are like space!” a little boy yelled. “I wanna do that!”
Bokuto remembered he had to give an introduction only after the volunteer walked past him. He tripped over someone’s foot, a stroller, and a puzzle on his way to the chair where the man had settled himself, a hint of a smile on his lips. The children were sitting up straight, quiet and quivering with excitement instead of loud and chaotic like usual.
“Hey hey hey, everybody,” Bokuto clapped his hands.
“Hey hey hey, Bokuto-san!” they responded. Their chatter destroyed the quiet magic the reader had cast.
Bokuto glanced at him, then at the practiced words written on his hand, then turned back to the kids. “Okay, guys, this is Akaashi-san, and his story for today is about owls!”
“You love owls, Bokuto-san!” a tiny girl gasped.
“You bet I do, Tamiko-chan! So I feel pretty lucky. Are you all ready?”
As if on cue, all the children sat still, eyes flashing. Bokuto moved off to the side so he could watch as the volunteer leaned forward and spoke in a low, quiet voice.
Almost a whisper.
“Hello, my friends…”
Bokuto knocked an entire display of children’s manga onto the floor.
The reader had gone from being completely approachable to the last person on the planet Bokuto ever wanted to speak to.
He had paused when the softcover newsprint books slid down around Bokuto’s feet in a heap of mortification, but just as quickly he’d gone back to speaking to the children like nothing had happened. A sly grandma had helped Bokuto pick up the display. Well, really she’d done most of the work, because he’d just been staring.
The kids had been just as riveted as Bokuto. It was an old trick: the guy’s voice was so soft that they had to be completely silent to hear. But they didn’t know that. He hadn’t been expressive either – certainly not by Bokuto’s standards, considering he shouted and sang and made up different voices. It didn’t matter. There was an intensity about the guy’s reading that gave the slightest inflection more impact than Bokuto could get if he yelled across the room. Which he did often enough.
He was amazing.
He was also definitely silentwings, the whisper guy who had talked Bokuto to sleep last night. No. That made it sound too simple. He’d like… poured stars under his skin maybe? Or something not cheesy but still great. And there he was, at Bokuto’s place of employment, volunteering for a vital community service. It felt like Bokuto had run into a porn star he’d just jerked off to.
But worse because it was at his job and the whole ASMR thing felt weirdly intimate. More than sex. Or maybe just different.
Now was not the time to think about sex.
The kids swarmed both of them after the story hour, postponing their encounter. They asked about owls and why didn’t he paint his face that would be more fun, and he said he’d see but he didn’t think he’d be very good at it. One by one they were taken away by their minders, leaving the only two adults without children to stare at each other.
“Hey, hey, hey, Akaashi-san!” Bokuto tried, although he stuttered through at least two of the heys and the honorific got left out. “I’m Bokuto Koutarou, the children’s librarian, if you can believe it.”
The last part he added as a preemptive strike, because nobody ever did.
“Why wouldn’t I believe it, Bokuto-san?” the guy blinked his glimmering eyelids with something that seemed kinda like… disdain, maybe?
No one had ever come back at him like that.
“W-w-well,” he stammered, “heh, usually people expect more glasses, less muscles, y’know?” Flashing a cocky grin, he flexed and his bicep bulged against his rolled up shirtsleeve.
Another shimmery blink, “I try not to make such assumptions about people I don’t know.”
Bokuto kinda wanted to flex in this guy’s face until he appreciated his muscles. Or, alternatively, climb into the book return and live there for the rest of his life.
“Akaashi Keiji,” the guy bowed. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Bokuto-san.”
Bokuto thought that awkward encounter would be the end of that. Realizing that silentwings was pretty snotty in real life, not to mention someone he was professionally connected to, he attempted to sever their one-sided online relationship before things got messy.
Unfortunately, none of the other whisper dudes worked. So he tried the people cooking miniature foods that Yachi liked instead. Though flyingsunshine sure was energetic, and what he was doing was really awesome, Bokuto didn’t feel any tingles. Watching the guy cook was the opposite of relaxing. Bokuto ended up burning four fingers trying to make tiny pancakes over a lighter at three in the morning.
He put on headphones because he was told to, then watched people wordlessly take stuff out of packages, listened to the crinkle of different kinds of cellophane, watched disembodied hands mix paint, and awkwardly sat while a smiling, dark-skinned man who went by kaithecat pretended to give the viewer (him) a haircut. He listened to dozens of whispering women, one who roleplayed an erotic massage in too much detail. That shit had creeped him the fuck out.
None of it was the same.
He felt things sometimes, when the videos had no speaking and just sounds of people doing stuff with a lot of clicking. It helped a little. But not enough.
So he came crawling back to silentwings. He was never on camera, just softly talked about stuff, or described his day. Bokuto avoided the latter because this was supposed to be a professional relationship (and what if Akaashi decided to rant about him?). But he listened to silentwings whisper about metaphysics, tell stories about women in history, explain what he liked about his favorite books, and describe the magnificent arc of a wild-looking ace hitting a spike in a volleyball game he’d seen in high school.
And after, Bokuto slept.
He slept like a baby.
Two very different voices were saying his name as he rounded the corner. Feather wanted both of them to pet her immediately so she was yanking him across the sidewalk.
Pulling him towards none other than Otomo Noriko, a second grader in the reading program Bokuto organized. And Akaashi Keiji. Again. Noriko was clinging to Akaashi like he might run away, as dog and man came to a skittering stop in front of them.
“Hey hey hey, Riko-chan!” Bokuto meant to say hello to Akaashi too, but Feather spun him around in her eagerness to get some attention. It took time to untangle himself – his dog was a lot stronger than she was big.
Behind him, Noriko chirped, “Keiji-ojisan, Bokuto-san helps me with my reading! He was ten when he learned how, ojisan, and now all he does is read all day!”
Bokuto turned, chuckling nervously. He wasn’t about to explain his actual job to a kid, especially if she was inspired by what she thought he did, “Well, not all day. Sometimes I gotta clean the library bathroom. But, you know, pretty much I’m the best!”
Noriko shrieked with laughter, giving Bokuto the confidence to look at her uncle. Akaashi was still dressed simply– dark jeans and a fitted grey shirt – but his eyes were lined sharply with black and gold that contrasted perfectly with his dark skin. He looked as distant and beautiful as he had the first time Bokuto had seen him… until Feather decided she needed his attention and jumped on his knees.
Bokuto leaned down to grab her, but she swerved away, the leash yanking him much too far into Akaashi’s personal space. Feather looped around them once, then ran for Noriko’s open arms, tightening the leash around their ankles until their knees knocked together, and their bodies followed.
Akaashi was very tall. Which was probably good for him, who didn’t wanna be tall? But it meant they were pretty close to eye-to-eye, nose-to-nose…
In order to keep his lips away from Akaashi’s dusky pink pout, glowing cheeks, or any other part of his magnificent face, Bokuto leaned back. He immediately regretted that move: it pressed their pelvises together so much he could feel the sharp edge of Akaashi’s hipbones jut into the sensitive junction of his own torso and thigh.
“Kinda bony, aren’t ya?” he grinned, trying to diffuse the situation, remembering just as his eyebrow hit its highest point that this sort of shit did not work on this guy.
Akaashi grabbed his shoulders to hold him still, then bent over at a nearly impossible angle to reach the leash. On his way down he paused at Bokuto’s ear and murmured so his giggling niece couldn’t hear.
“Perhaps you’re just a bit… soft, Bokuto-san.”
He was done. That was it, he was done. He’d watch the excited guy’s hands make tiny foods, listen to paint get mixed together, hang lavender from the ceiling in bunches, and take three melatonin at once (even though Kuroo, an actual pharmacist, said that wouldn’t work). No more silentwings. Bokuto didn’t need one dude’s whispering any more than any other. He was awesome and if he could be a dyslexic fucking librarian, he could do this too.
He… wasn’t done. Getting sleep for that short period had spoiled him. Going without it again flipped the switch that made his moods a disaster. He felt like a teenager; when he’d thrown fits and sulked for hours because something had gone wrong. When the only way to deal with the feelings that ripped apart his insides was to externalize them. When everyone had said he was moody like they had any idea what it felt like to be on the verge of exploding all the time.
He was out of control and he hated it.
On the third day of this, Yachi found him crying pissed-off tears over a minor paper jam and insisted he go home. It was in both of their best interests, but leaving work made him feel like even more of a failure than the paper jam had. As he packed up, she insisted he come over for dinner at the end of the week. Kuroo would be there! And Kenma! Wouldn’t that be great?
Sure. Sure that’d be real nice, Yacchan.
He put on a mask to make himself look ill instead of bawling in public and took the long way through the park. It had wider sidewalks and fewer people. Some dudes were playing volleyball in a sand court in the rec area. As he passed, he felt nostalgic. The good kind. Not the kind that involved a blown out shoulder and shattered dreams.
But there was a more immediate shoulder in his life. The one that he was unexpectedly trying to take a bite out of. As quickly as it had hit him, it flew back, and its owner grunted in pain as they landed on the ground.
Of course it was Akaashi. Of course. Who else but the last person on the planet Bokuto wanted to cry in front of?
He was in jogging clothes, but unlike everything he’d worn before, they were not put together at all. His obscenely tiny shorts were a shabby teal, and he was wearing a ratty tank top that had some slogan from a company on it. Bokuto had never seen a person that sweaty before, and he’d almost played volleyball professionally.
The guy was still so beautiful Bokuto wanted to lodge an angry complaint.
But Akaashi’s nose was also bleeding a hell of a lot, so instead Bokuto knelt down, stammering out apologies. Ripping off his pointless mask, he pulled a dingy pack of tissues out of his bag. He pressed a huge wad of them under Akaashi's nose.
“Sorry! I was looking at the volley... god does it hurt? You gotta like,” he grabbed Akaashi’s gravel-scored hand and moved his fingers to the correct position, “pinch it and lean forward so it’ll stop.”
“Bokuto-san,” Akaashi said through the tissues as he leaned, “you are four centimeters away from destroying your shirt.”
He was right. There was blood on his neck for some reason. The trail went all the way up to his lip, which actually hurt kind of a lot. Probably because he’d smashed it on the bony part of Akaashi’s shoulder.
“Here,” his victim grabbed more tissues and dabbed at Bokuto’s neck. Bokuto wanted to stop him, but he didn’t have that many shirts and it wasn’t like he could clean unseen blood up himself.
Instead he took to apologizing, “I’m real sorry Akaashi, I just had a real bad day, and I got distracted by that volleyball game and I’m really, really–”
“Blubbering is unnecessary,” Akaashi’s voice was as sharp as it could get when it came through a tissue, “I was distracted as well. Since I was the one running, I’m certainly responsible for my own bloody nose and your bloody lip. Not to mention the bite marks in my shoulder. I’m sorry, Bokuto-san.”
Bokuto wasn’t sure if he should cry or feel relieved. This guy was such a dick. But not? It was very confusing and he was just so freaking tired.
“Well, I still feel bad.”
“With a body like that, I’d imagine you plow over pedestrians on a regular basis. You might as well get used to it.”
Even hate-watching silentwings' relaxation videos put Bokuto to sleep. He listened to the one about volleyball, his favorite, and dreamed night after night about being on a team with a nicer version of Akaashi, one that didn’t keep saying such mean things. Well he said some, because Bokuto couldn’t subconsciously disconnect being salty as fuck from Akaashi’s face, but it was different. Like the ASMR Akaashi and the Akaashi in real life had merged into one guy – someone who could calm Bokuto down, but kept him in line with his blunt (mean) honesty.
The dream got sexy and Bokuto woke up hard and frustrated. He didn’t know what this guy’s deal was, but he was hot, and he was everywhere. Apparently Bokuto’s subconscious wanted to watch Akaashi jerk off in the middle of a volleyball court while he told Bokuto how much he liked him. While wearing Bokuto’s high school uniform.
If this was what sleep brought, Bokuto didn’t want it. Akaashi was mean. Other than that, Bokuto didn’t know anything about him! He’d gotten casual sex out of his system ages ago. Screwing strangers sucked.
Akaashi was too pretty to ever take interest anyway.
Dreams didn't mean anything. He didn’t want Akaashi as anything other than a reading volunteer, and a guy who made the back of his head feel like the origins of the universe.
Just those two minor things.
“I’m sorry, Koutarou-kun, but Kenma and Kuroo aren’t able to make it tonight. Kuroo said they’ve both come down with something. I hope they’re okay!” Yachi fretted at the door. From behind her, her laughably tall partner rolled his eyes then took the beer from Bokuto’s hands and strode into the kitchen in three long steps.
Bokuto knew why he was reacting like that. They weren’t sick – Kenma likely just didn’t feel like leaving the house. But Kenma didn’t feel like leaving the house for a lot of reasons: some pretty lazy, others pretty serious. Tsukishima probably didn’t know that. Even he wasn’t that mean.
Not as mean as some people Bokuto could think of.
“So it’s just the five of us then,” Yachi guided him through their larger-than-average apartment. “Kei did the cooking, Dashi made dessert, and I didn’t touch anything, so I’m certain dinner’s going to be delicious! And of course,” she turned the corner where Tsukishima was talking to a dark-haired guy who looked kinda… “you already know Keiji-kun! I was really hoping he could meet Kenma. I think they'd be great friends, don’t you?”
“Can I, uh, get one of those beers, Yacchan?”
“So Tsukki found out the redheaded guy had followed him into the chef’s convention! He ended up vouching for him just to keep from looking stupid!” Yamaguchi finished, laughing over his boyfriend’s muttered, “Shut up, Tadashi.”
Bokuto was laughing along, probably too loud, but after two beers and some of the whisky his nemesis had brought (yeah, that’s what Akaashi was, his nemesis) he was feeling pretty relaxed. Everyone was, especially their hosts, who were on the edge of wasted. With the end of Yamaguchi’s story, the three started getting completely caught up in each other. Yachi was feeding her boyfriends strawberry shortcake. Since she couldn’t reach from her seat she climbed halfway onto the table.
The two fourth wheels were left to awkwardly glance at each other over their own dessert.
“So how’d ya get into volleyball, Akaashi?” “You mentioned you played volleyball, Bokuto-san...” They simultaneously grasped for the only thing they had in common.
“You go first,” Bokuto waved, sitting down his whisky when he realized he was spilling it all over his vest. It was time to cut himself off.
“Oh, I ah…” Akaashi was flushed, but he seemed only a tiny bit tipsy. As well as Bokuto could tell, since he barely knew him at all. Well, outside of the sound of his whispers, the things he liked to talk about, his family struggles, and the ways he liked to give back to the community. “I played in high school. We went to nationals my second year, actually. I believe we had the strategy to win, but lacked the firepower.”
That was a lot more than Bokuto had expected. “Shit, I went to nationals too! What position did you play?”
“Setter," Akaashi answered coolly, then flipped the focus of their conversation. "And you, Bokuto-san? You certainly don’t have the build of a volleyball player.”
Alcohol had made Bokuto generous, so he ignored the third? fourth? tenth? raw insult that Akaashi had thrown his way and grinned with clenched teeth. “I was the ace. Got scouted to go pro in college but it didn't work out.”
Akaashi crossed his arms, expression unmoved, “Quite a bold claim. Any evidence to support it?”
Bokuto put his hands on the table and pushed himself up. He peered at their hosts. Yachi was sprawled across Yamaguchi and Tsukishima’s laps and the latter was even drunk enough to be smirking about it. The evening looked like it was winding down. Or ramping up, maybe, but Bokuto didn’t wanna stick around to find out.
“Come home with me and I’ll show you,” he hissed at Akaashi.
Green eyes blinked rapidly. There was a long pause.
“O-okay,” Akaashi’s perfect voice stammered.
If that’s all it took to surprise him, Bokuto was gonna blow his fucking mind.
“So,” Bokuto threw open the door, Feather straining on her leash to return to the interesting stranger she’d had to leave in their apartment. “It’s time to watch some of the most stunning volleyball footage of your life, Akaashi Keiji.”
Akaashi was sitting on the couch, pretending like he hadn’t been scoping out the place. Glancing up from his shoes Bokuto gave himself a second to actually look at the person he’d brought home. His guest was wearing all black again, with an asymmetrical grey jacket. His eyes were lined with black and silver; Bokuto could see the shine across the apartment. It was subtle, though. Somehow.
Maybe he looked good, but that was not what was going on here.
“Scoot over,” Bokuto sat his laptop on the coffee table. After making certain their guest was thoroughly sniffed, Feather settled at her master’s feet. Akaashi hadn’t scooted far enough and their thighs were touching. For someone so slender, his thighs were… something else.
Something that was definitely not that interesting, Bokuto reminded himself, opening the screen.
The thing about Bokuto and computers was this: he did whatever they told him to. It had taken a bunch of viruses before he'd figured out which commands were from the computer and which were not. But he knew now. So that afternoon, when his laptop had said it was time to update his browser, he'd listened. He didn’t really know or care what that entailed, just figured it’d be better if he did it.
He had no idea that it’d reset all his tabs.
“Hello, my friends…”
“Okay,” Bokuto said after the endless mortified silence that had followed slamming his laptop shut on Akaashi’s recorded voice. “So. Uh. Yeah you can just go home now. Heh. That’d be fine. Heh.”
There was another long pause and Bokuto wanted to yell something at the top of his lungs. He wasn’t sure what. He wanted Akaashi to leave so he could yell whatever it was alone. It was probably the word “fuck,” in all honesty.
Akaashi did not do what Bokuto wanted. In fact, he did the opposite.
“You watch my ASMR videos?" he sounded… shocked.
Bokuto could tell Akaashi had turned to look at him, so he looked at the ground.
“I tried to stop, okay?” he growled, gritting his teeth. “Once I met you, I tried not to use em but I couldn’t sleep and there were like, stars under my skin when I heard you and I couldn’t stop.”
Akaashi just hummed.
“Look, I know it was super unprofessional cause of the work thing. Then you were just so mean so I didn’t even want to use ‘em, especially cause you’re so fucking hot on top of all that. I didn’t wanna dream about you, I didn’t, but I couldn’t sleep without them. I was going crazy! I thought you hating me would keep them from working but it didn’t! Your voice is so fucking magical and I need to get sleep or it’s so hard for me to do my job. God, I know you already think I’m a huge meathead, but still I’m really sorry and you never gotta talk to me again and–”
His emotional cascade was cut off by the sound of the worst laugh he’d ever heard. It was worse than Kuroo’s, even. Akaashi laughed like a congested hyena and his perfect persona shattered into a million pieces by the third snort.
“What about that was funny?” Bokuto protested furiously, at least able to form a coherent sentence now. “I’m baring my soul here and you’re laughing! See, this is what I’m talking about, why are you so mean?”
“Y-you think I’m mean?” Akaashi gasped out, taking a few panting breaths. “I’ve-I’ve been flirting with you since the m-moment you knocked over that display case, and you thought I was being mean.” He fell into full-fledged hysterics.
It took a solid thirty seconds for Bokuto to gather together a response.
“YOU ARE REALLY BAD AT FLIRTING, AKAASHI!”
His face was so red he could feel the heat with the fingers he was using to hide his eyes. There was no way. There was just no way.
“I thought I was rather obvious in what I was trying to do,” Akaashi forced out between his fading cackles.
“No, you were mean!” Bokuto shouted. “Why would you even wanna flirt with somebody like me, anyways? I mean look at you! You’re the most gorgeous person on the planet. You have a beautiful voice, and you made those kids listen in like, a millisecond. You’re so damn clever about everything. In those videos you make it’s not just your voice, you’re just so interesting! You probably calm down, like, millions of people!”
“Of course,” Akaashi responded sternly, probably as close as he could get to yelling, laughter replaced by furrowed eyebrows. “Why would I flirt with someone who uses his own struggle with reading to help others? Who makes every person he meets grow fond of him, from my niece to Tsukishima Kei, of all people? Why would I flirt with someone who has an offensively appealing physique?”
“Am I supposed to answer that?” Bokuto muttered.
“Who wouldn’t flirt with you, Bokuto-san?” Akaashi’s voice rose to a depth of expression that finally proved he was good at his job. “I was not being cruel; I was throwing myself at you.”
His words echoed around the apartment, and then were replaced by silence. Bokuto looked at his feet, realizing that Feather had made herself scarce. Probably because of all the yelling.
“So… I guess maybe… we like each other?” The admission connected quite a few points of confusion, but Bokuto still wasn't sure how he felt about it.
“It seems that we do.”
They both turned, but the instant they made eye contact Bokuto looked at the floor again.
“I’ve, uh, had… inappropriate dreams about you,” he admitted. “Guess that was probably a sign I shoulda picked up on.”
Akaashi waited until they made eye contact again to mildly announce, “I’ve masturbated to the thought of you at least a dozen times.”
“Oh fuck me!” Bokuto blurted out, though he didn’t mean it like that.
But it kinda worked anyway, since after he said it they were kissing.
Akaashi tasted like whiskey and strawberries. His lips were chapped. He was insistent, pushing until Bokuto was on his back, legs hanging off the side of the couch. Akaashi kissed with the fervor of someone totally plastered, the precision of someone completely sober. It would have been really easy to get lost in it but…
“Why are you holding back?” Akaashi whispered, setting the back of Bokuto’s neck sparking. He had expected the feeling to be sexy, but it wasn’t. Just really soothing.
“I, uh,” he pulled away, panting, “I don’t mind doing stuff backwards or whatever, but I don’t do one-night stands anymore so if that’s what this is then I can’t...”
“The things I like about you are not one-night stand fodder,” Akaashi stated, kissing the words into his neck. “Although I am interested in how your cock might feel inside me. I’d like to investigate that thoroughly between now and breakfast.”
Between the couch and the table, there wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver, but Bokuto stood up and slung Akaashi over his shoulder anyway. He carried his protesting guest into the bedroom, and threw him onto the mattress.
“I’m taking you on a real date tomorrow,” Bokuto grunted, pulling off his shirt and vest. When they were on the floor, he glanced at the bed to see Akaashi leaning back on his elbows, nonplussed. “I’m serious! There’s gonna be food that you like to eat… that I gotta figure out, and like things you like to do… that I gotta figure out. And.”
“Why not the movies? The back of the theater is pleasant…”
“You’re insatiable!” Bokuto’s face was on fire.
“Somewhat inaccurate, considering I have yet to be sated.”
“I wasn’t questioning your ability to accomplish the task, Bokuto… s-saa...ann”
Between the come-ons and being aroused as hell, Bokuto had gotten distracted to the point of idiocy. But muscle memory had taken over after he took off his shirt. For better or for worse, he’d stripped off the rest of his clothes without realizing he was doing it until his boxers were around his ankles.
He was naked as the day he was born. The bright overhead light was still on. Proof the carpet matched the drapes, his post-college belly, stretch marks, and anything else embarrassing about his body was on full display for the most beautiful man in the world to judge.
But after his initial shock, Akaashi’s tiny smile was feral.
“Is that equipment functional, or just highly decorative?” he deadpanned.
With a snarl, Bokuto hit the light switch and crawled across the bed. He arrived where Akaashi was supposed to be, and found nothing but sheets. There was a click and his far bedside lap flickered to life, revealing a calm face, eyebrows lifted just enough to tease.
“Akaashi,” Bokuto growled out a gravely whisper, “take off your clothes or I’m gonna rip them off.”
There was a shuffle of fabric as Akaashi methodically stripped off his jacket. He sat up, facing straight ahead, fingers dancing down the buttons of his shirt. While he was struggling out of his sleeves, Bokuto grabbed his shirt collar and pulled to make it easier.
A fine dusting of red started to gather at the base of Akaashi’s neck.
"Are you okay?" Bokuto whispered again, this time into the juncture between Akaashi’s neck and collarbone.
The flush spread, and Akaashi's hands trembled on his belt buckle.
Bokuto wasn't… Well, he wasn't quite sure what to do with this sudden change in atmosphere. He watched Akaashi wiggle out of his own pants, left panting in nothing but his black socks and neon pink boxer briefs. Was he sober? Was this okay?
"I've never been particularly skilled at math, Bokuto-san,” Akaashi took a deep breath, then pulled off his socks by the toes. He rolled onto his side where he stared at Bokuto pointedly. Like he knew just what he was thinking, “but I will solve for x if you'd like me to prove my ability to give consent.”
“See, this is why I thought you were mean,” Bokuto grumbled, remembering that he was buck-ass naked and trying to adjust himself so things weren’t all… out there. It wasn’t like he was getting soft or anything, just the opposite, the way Akaashi was ogling. And the way Akaashi was 93% naked in his bed, his dark skin and bright underwear contrasting with the pale grey of Bokuto’s unmade sheets.
They lay on their sides, about a foot apart, just kind of staring. Well, Bokuto was staring. Akaashi’s eyes were shamelessly sweeping up and down his body until they finally rested on his face.
“You may be the most innocent person I’ve ever met,” he observed coolly, twirling a finger around Bokuto’s nipple.
That was fucking it.
“What was that, Akaaaashi?” he huskily whispered to the man writhing underneath him.
Akaashi arched his back without even being touched, inadvertently rubbing their cocks together, only the fabric of his underwear keeping them from skin to skin contact. The friction set off a series of tiny whimpers, and Akaashi rolled his hips, trying to recreate it.
“Nah-ah-ah,” Bokuto hummed, taking one hand off of Akaashi’s pinned wrists to press his lower stomach back down to the bed. Muscles strained against his fingers, and Akaashii whined when he massaged back against them. “Dunno what you were trying to do to an innocent guy like me, Akaashi, but it doesn’t seem real appropriate.”
He slid his fingers down the line of Akaashi’s abs with gentle pressure, “I kinda think you need to be taught a lesson, after being so mean, then trying to seduce me.”
“As I’ve mentioned,” Akaashi panted as he twisted under Bokuto’s hand, “the fact that you did not understand my intentions did not make me ‘mean’.”
“Ohoho, I forgot. It was,” Bokuto leaned down to kiss him deeply, “all my fault. Cause I’m so innocent. Weird though, you’re the one wiggling around just from getting your belly touched.”
“You are holding me down, Bokuto-san.”
Bokuto kissed him again. “You don’t seem to mind so much,” he whispered.
Akaashi gasped and squirmed, pulling in deep breaths of air to calm down. Bokuto wasn’t certain what he’d done to get that reaction, but he wasn’t about to stop.
“If all you plan on doing is pinning me to the bed,” Akaashi lifted his eyebrows when he’d caught his breath, “I’m likely to fall asleep.”
“Nah,” Bokuto chuckled, rolling into a seated position, and using the opportunity to rip off Akaashi’s underwear. “Now get on your knees,” he whispered.
Akaashi had a pert round ass that Bokuto wanted to sink his teeth into. He had thick thighs that he wanted to cover with bruises from hanging on tight. His cock was the platonic ideal of what a penis should look like. Bokuto was certain about that last one because he’d taken a philosophy class once, and he was currently tying a leather shoelace around the base of Akaashi’s shaft and balls in a tight, loopy bow.
He kissed the head tenderly then looked up at Akaashi’s face, which flickered from a scowl to desperation about every other second. There wasn’t much else he could do, since Bokuto had tied his wrists to his ankles with some neckties.
“Ah shit,” he realized, “we did this backwards. I didn’t ask if you were okay and there’s no safewor–”
“Bokuto-san, I will say ‘volleyball’ if I want you to stop, but in order for that to happen you must start first.”
Bokuto rose to his knees, putting his chin on Akaashi’s shoulder. The same one that had a huge bite mark from their collision.
“Do you want my dick in your ass or not?” he ground out a whisper.
“I believe I mentioned several times that–”
“Akaashi. Do you want my dick in your ass or not?”
“Yes,” Akaashi shuddered, “Bokuto-san.”
Bokuto loosened the tie holding Akaashi’s hands to his ankles, then untied his hands altogether.
“Then you gotta work for it.”
As Akaashi shook out his wrists, Bokuto reached into the bedside table and pulled out a condom and a bottle of lube. He flipped open the cap and grabbed Akaashi’s wrist to unceremoniously pour a bunch into his hand.
“I kept having this dream about you, y’see,” his thumb made little circles on Akaashi’s wrist. “And since I thought you were a jerk, I tried really hard to forget about it, so I never got to… appreciate it, if you know what I mean. Plus, this fits in with what you said before.”
“Akaashi,” Bokuto leaned close to his ear and spoke lowly, “I want you to touch yourself for me right fucking now.”
Arm trembling, Akaashi wrapped his fingers around his cock and slowly began to stroke.
“Good, that’s good, but the dream wasn’t just that. Now you gotta tell me what you like about me, kay? Since you were so mean before.”
“Yes, Bokuto-san,” Akaashi’s hand moved faster, but he made no indication that he was going to speak.
“Baby,” Bokuto hummed, “I’m not a very patient guy.”
“I-I thought you w-were adorable,” he choked out, his hand repeatedly making three stokes, then passing over the head. “For instance, at your job. But… please don’t make me talk about children right now.”
Bokuto didn’t say anything, which Akaashi took as a hint to continue.
“And then you were so uh…” he shuddered at a particularly sensitive pass “awkward, and you tried so hard to impress me, but you weren’t hitting on me at all. And everyone a-always does.”
“Bunch of assholes,” Bokuto growled, brushing Akaashi’s hair off his forehead before shifting positions to sit behind him. “Don’t stop now. Keep going, you’re doing so good, baby.”
At the click of the cap, Akaashi stiffened. “B-Bokuto-san, no, please, not when I can’t co–”
Bokuto poured the cold lube onto the small of Akaashi’s back. It ran down the cleft of his ass, while Bokuto coated all the fingers on his right hand.
“I’m gonna take care of you, okay? But I didn’t say you could stop talking or jerking off,” he murmured, running his finger across the edge of Akaashi’s hole.
“I-I mentioned a-already how attractive you are. B-but it’s not just your physicality,” Bokuto slid in his finger and Akaashi hissed. He stopped and rested his head on Akaashi’s shoulder, looking down to watch slender fingers work that perfect dick over and over.
Akaashi took a deep breath, and Bokuto began to move, “Your face, it’s… bizarre.”
“That doesn’t sound very nice, Akaashi,” Bokuto growled, pushing in a second finger a little sooner than entirely necessary.
“No! I mean, in a-ahhhh… it’s unique. Evocative. In a way that I… couldn’t forget. So I forgot… myself. I’m not normally so aggressive. Or aggressive at all. I’ve always been p-pursued. I’ve never had to flirt with anyone before, I d-didn’t know how.”
Akaashi turned, so that he could see Bokuto’s face. Silver stars with shadowy tails were running from the corners of his eyes, and Bokuto had never wanted to kiss anybody more in his life.
It was hard to say who moved first, but this kiss was different. Akaashi was still jerking off while Bokuto stretched him open, but his lips moved fervently, like nothing else was happening in the world. Bokuto tried his best to reciprocate. He framed Akaashi’s jaw with his free hand, just as Akaashi pulled back and looked in his eyes.
“I like you, Bokuto-san,” he whispered over his own gasps. “I-I want you to take me on dates. I want to meet your friends. I want to meet your parents. I want you to meet my mother. I want your dog to learn my name. I like you so much it’s apparently made me idiotic.”
Stars, universes, sparkled down the back of Bokuto’s neck.
“I guess that’s kinda convincing,” he muttered, pressing in a third finger as deep as it could go.
Akaashi threw back his head and wailed, his hand still frantically moving on his own cock. “Please, Bokuto-san. Please, please, please.”
“Tell me what you need,” Bokuto nibbled his neck. Too hard. It was going to leave bruises, but he couldn’t stop, any more than he could stop the curl and thrust of his fingers that had Akaashi writhing. “C’mon, I’m no good at reading minds, ‘Kaashi.”
“Fuck me, Bokuto-san, please.”
Bokuto pulled out his fingers and wiped them on the sheets before he untied Akaashi’s ankles.
“How do you want it, baby?” he stilled Akaashi’s hands, then untied the shoelace, keeping his fingers tight at the base so Akaashi didn’t immediately come.
“Hard,” Akaashi sobbed.
Bokuto could probably do that.
He lifted Akaashi into his lap, kissing him as soon as he was settled. Hands twined into his hair, and Akaashi started to pull. He kissed his way down Bokuto’s neck while Bokuto tried to find the condom he’d sat somewhere in the sea of sheets. The instant his fingers closed around it, Akaashi plucked it from his hands, ripping open the foil.
Lube-slicked fingers slid down his long-ignored cock, and Bokuto groaned deep enough for Akaashi to look down at him and smirk through his shuddering.
“If I wasn’t on the verge of insanity, I’d make you wait a very long time,” he slid the condom down in one smooth stroke, coating it with lube from his other hand.
Not even giving Akaashi a chance to sit up straight, Bokuto lifted him against his chest with one arm, using the other to line up his cock.
“Tell me what you want, Akaashi,” he whispered. He could feel Akaashi’s heartbeat accelerate.
“You already know,” Akaashi scowled, trying to regain his lost pride.
Bokuto growled lowly, “Akaashi. I asked you a fucking question.”
“I,” Akaashi sneered back, “want you to fuck me until we are both unconscious.”
Bokuto didn’t drop him on his dick. That would have been dangerous.
He came pretty close though.
Akaashi’s thighs were as powerful as they were enormous, and they shook as he pulled himself up by his arms to ride him. If taking so much dick at once fazed him he didn’t show it, just threw back his head and groaned as he bounced up and down, his own cock slapping against Bokuto’s stomach. He was tight, so fucking tight, and Bokuto was gonna come in a second if he didn’t do something.
He lifted Akaashi off completely, turned him around, and dropped him so that he was on his hands and knees.
“Look,” Bokuto apologized as he lined himself up again, “I know this is backwards all over again, and I promise we can have slow romantic sex lookin’ in each other’s eyes, but right now I need to fucking rail you like this.”
“I don’t care. Just fuck me,” Akaashi’s level voice had crumbled into desperation.
Bokuto put a hand on his shoulder to hold him down, and did as he was told.
The noises Akaashi made were inhuman, cut off with a hiccup each time Bokuto bottomed out. He clawed at the sheets while Bokuto’s fingers dug deep dents into the tops of his thighs with each thrust. The curve of his sweaty back was a goddamn masterpiece, and seeing it reminded Bokuto that this was actually happening.
No amount of stamina could withstand this. None.
As Akaashi’s ass tightened and he cried out his name, Bokuto felt his own hips stutter, and he pulled those thighs in tight. Then he was coming, buried so deep. He couldn’t fucking stop, it was like he hadn’t touched himself in weeks.
By the time he was spent, he could barely hold himself up, shuddering as he pulled out. He struggled to knot the condom and throw it in the trash, but he had to do it so he could roll back to Akaashi and ask him to marry him or something.
The most beautiful person in the world was in the middle of the bed, an absolute wreck. His whole body was quivering, and his stomach was smeared with the cum that was all over the bedsheets. His eyeliner was smudged and streaked with tears. He looked more well-fucked than anyone Bokuto had ever seen or imagined.
He wiped off Akaashi’s stomach with a pillowcase, then tried to deal with the mess on the bed. That was all he had left in him.
“So you like me, eh?” he collapsed, putting his hands behind his head. They were close, but not close enough. He wanted to wrap his arms around Akaashi and pepper him with kisses, but he didn’t feel like he was allowed.
“Is cuddling not in your extensive repertoire?” Akaashi sassed weakly.
Well, that answered that.
After a busy night, a mass of curly bedhead blearily shuffled into the kitchen around eleven. He was wearing Bokuto’s button-up and nothing else. Feather was following him, and Bokuto was pretty sure she’d woken him up.
“Hey, hey, hey! You’re awake!” Bokuto called over the frying pan. “Didn’t know what you’d like for breakfast, so I made, eh. Everything. I’m a pretty awesome cook, you know.”
“Where are my clothes, Bokuto-san?” Akaashi yawned, lifting his arms in a stretch that revealed the bottom of his perky ass.
Bokuto flipped the contents of the pan, but he kind of missed, due to distraction. “Ah, they’re in the dryer and your coat’s on the balcony to air. Feather slept on em, so I figured you’d want em clean.”
“Clean?” Akaashi blinked at the coffee Bokuto slid across the counter.
“Yeah, you know, for our lunch date,” he smiled, then leaned forward to whisper, “you look beautiful, Agaasheee.”
“If you want us to leave this apartment,” Akaashi announced, “I suggest you stop.”
He was talking about something sexy, but Bokuto had no idea what.
Akaashi sat down his mug with a clack. He looked done, but Bokuto had no idea why.
“Huh?” Bokuto muddled the eggs for the omelet, splashing them out of the bowl because he wasn’t paying attention. “But those whisper tingles aren’t a sex thing! Even when we were havin–”
“Perhaps,” Akaashi sighed wearily, “but ASMR isn’t something I experience myself.”
“But my whisper is all gravely!” Bokuto was baffled, sprinkling way too much pepper into the eggs.
“Yes,” Akaashi took a sip of coffee. “It certainly is.”
Oh. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Oh.
A grin split Bokuto’s face from end to end. “So what you’re sayin is…”
“Your whispering turns me on? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying, Koutarou.”
Bokuto swallowed hard. His dick was recovering from exhaustion really fast.
“A-are you hungry? We should have breakfast now so we can eat out… uh… I mean… go out…”
Akaashi’s smile wasn’t very big. But he said a lot with it.
“I’m ravenous, actually.”
Their late evening dinner date turned out real nice, though Bokuto would have liked a pillow to sit on.
Compromise was good for relationships, after all.