Tsukishima Kei was nesting. Excessively.
"No," he said, though the words lacked the kind of finality he was looking for. He blamed it on the number of pillows and blankets he had surrounded himself with. They were warm and fluffy, and it was hard to resist drowning in them when his alpha was right there, close enough to touch. Kei persevered.
Tetsurou had no such qualms. Careful not to disturb the meticulous arrangement of all things soft and cosy, he curled around Kei from behind, placing his chin on top of a t-shirt covered shoulder. Waiting. Knowing.
"Let me rephrase: absolutely not."
With his right hand around Kei’s middle, Tetsurou dangled a phone with photo-lit screen in front of Kei’s face with his left. "Just look at his face. Isn't it the cutest?"
"I have looked,” Kei replied, leaning back with a soft, pleased sigh. “The first ten times you've shown the photo to me."
"Maybe eleventh is the charm." With Tetsurou dressed in a neatly pressed dress shirt and a blood red tie, Kei had no doubt that he could, indeed, be charmed. Until he looked down at Tetsurou's All of the good science puns Argon boxers and only one sock. Then he became certain he would be.
It was far, far too early in the morning for this. Even with the blinds partially closed and his glasses still in their case on the bedside table, Kei could tell that the sun was barely up, and that the day was promising to be bleary and gloomy. Just the thought of it had him pulling one of the blankets—the thickest one—higher up his lap. He wasn’t cold per se, but his body was craving the comfort, insisting on never leaving the nest. On keeping his alpha right there with him, cocooned in their mingled scents, far away from the rest of the world.
Which was ridiculous, of course.
As if reading his mind, Tetsurou dropped the phone in favour of draping both arms around Kei's waist, pulling him closer still. His breath ticked the short hairs on the nape of Kei’s neck as he nuzzled the skin with the tip of his nose. "We could go see them both next week."
Kei couldn't help the shudder, body reacting, inviting. He tilted his head to the side, baring his neck. Immediately, Tetsurou’s lips found the bite mark. "Or we could see whether we can handle one, first. Then think about another."
It really was unfair, that smile of Tetsurou's that he could feel stretching against his skin without even seeing it. Years together, and it still made him weak. And agreeable.
"It's you and me. There’s nothing we can't handle, babe."
"Except your level of sap." Kei thought about it, hard as it was with his body and senses focused on other things entirely. "And Bokuto-san after his team won Olympic gold."
Tetsurou winced at the memory—it had been quite an event. They stayed silent for a while, just like that, on their shitty bed with its cheap mattress and rumpled sheets, wrapped around each other. Kei’s eyes started to droop.
The clock on the wall ticked seven.
Reluctantly, with a sigh, Tetsurou pulled away. "You need anything before I go?"
You, Kei almost said. Then shook his head. Without anything holding him up, he fell back on the mountain of pillows. Almost out of instinct, he grabbed Tetsurou's and hugged it close. Still smelling of the alpha—of pine and berries and his citrusy shampoo, it was the next best thing.
Tetsurou did not comment on it as he dressed, knowing better. "I'll see if I can leave early today."
Having graduated a year prior, he had landed an entry level job at a major medical lab. And while his co-workers varied from stuck-up HR people in fancy suits to socially incompetent underappreciated geniuses with terrible sense of humour, his team manager at least was surprisingly understanding towards matters pertaining to heats and ruts.
Kei hummed into the pillow. He knew his body well enough to calculate it wouldn't hit until late in the evening and Tetsurou could most likely smell it too, but who was Kei to say no to such an offer. The hours before were always the worst, his body craving and needing but not yet ready. It was why he was skipping university today.
Fully dressed, Tetsurou leaned down to kiss him, chasing away any thoughts with the sweet taste of honey and lemon tea on his tongue. Then another, and another.
His hands skittered under Kei’s shirt, teasing. Kei had to hold onto whatever sense of responsibility he had left in that moment with teeth and nails.
"You're going to be late for work.”
It was that tone that had Tetsurou stopping in his tracks, swearing low under his breath as he took a step back. Kei could certainly sympathise.
Sometimes it still amazed him how affected Tetsurou was by his scent, and not just when in heat. Just as it never failed to sooth Kei’s own thoughts regarding the matter.
They weren’t always pretty.
Naturally, Tetsurou sensed the subtle shift in the mood. “Get some sleep,” he said. The look on his face was far, far too soft. But he wouldn’t be Tetsurou if he didn’t then add, “And when you wake up, hopefully slightly less grumpy, do give baby kitten number two another thought, mmkay? So that baby kitten number one isn’t lonely when we finally take her home.”
Kei had given it a thought, and not just one. “I am literally hours away from going into heat. Are kittens really what you want me to be thinking about?”
And so, the matter was dropped. For now.
(The thing was, Kei wasn’t bothered that he gave in so easily these days. And it was precisely the problem.)
Kei woke up a few hours later, groggy and thirsty. His head was pounding. His body felt sluggish and hot. Too hot.
For a moment, he just lay there, unmoving, unblinking. Normally, Tetsurou would be there. His face would be smushed between two pillows, his ridiculous hair all over the place. His arm would be somewhere on Kei’s chest, as if making sure he was still there. Then the alarm would go off and Kei would snort loudly at Tetsurou’s multiple attempts at getting up. Kei himself wouldn’t have to for a while yet, having few morning classes this semester. But they tried to make their schedules match and waking up early regardless had become as natural as everything else in Kei’s life. Because it was an effort worth making.
It hadn’t been easy, in the beginning. Tetsurou’s first year at university had them realising how much time together they had been granted simply by being in the same school, even if most of it had gone into volleyball. It had made them both too accustomed to such luxury. By Tetsurou’s second, they learned to make it work, with a lot of fumbling on both sides because by then, there had been expectations, like meeting the family and talking about a future that included them both. And by third, they were on the same team again, in the same apartment, sharing the same space.
Now they had routines that Kei had never expected to take such comfort in.
But he did.
Watching half-asleep and barely dressed Tetsurou make breakfast in their tiny cramped kitchen with its stupidly loud fridge and truly ugly view from the window was the kind of thing that filled Kei with something that still made his heart clench tight from time to time. And he would have to busy himself with making his own coffee and Tetsurou’s tea, in a futile attempt at controlling it. Only Tetsurou would notice and he would plant a loud kiss on Kei’s cheek and there would be no escaping anymore. Not when Tetsurou would smile, all rumpled and dazed and dear.
Fucking hell, he sounded like a school girl from shoujo manga.
Utterly disgusted with himself, Kei got up.
The apartment was dim and silent, the pitter-patter of rain against the living room window the only sound in it as Kei dragged himself to the kitchen. A loose floorboard, right next to a dining chair, creaked loudly beneath his feet, the way it always did. Kei merely clicked his tongue in annoyance, the way he always did, and reached for Tetsurou’s hoodie that was thrown carelessly over the back of the chair.
There, on the table, lay a foil-covered plate. On it was a bright yellow post-it note:
Eat me. All of me.
At the bottom was a grinning cat face that was probably aiming to be a Cheshire but looked more like a product of a five-year-old with limited art skills.
As Kei moved to put the coffeemaker on, he had to thank whatever force was in charge of the universe that Tetsurou had not been there to witness his undoubtedly embarrassing expression. Even if the alpha was much, much worse. Sometimes he still looked at Kei like he couldn’t believe it was real and happening and true. Kei couldn’t blame him.
But at least they managed to tone it down in public, unlike certain people they had the misfortune of calling friends.
Two strong cups of coffee and one empty plate later, he felt marginally more alive. But still thankful when his phone rang somewhere in the living room, relieving him of facing the day for just a little longer.
“Kei!” Akiteru’s face was positively beaming on the smartphone screen.
Sitting down on the lumpy sofa, Kei pulled the snatched hoodie tighter around himself. He felt simultaneously too hot and too comforted with Tetsurou’s scent still clinging to the thick soft fabric. “Oh, it’s the traitor.”
Akiteru laughed. “Still not letting that one go?”
“You tied the Tsukishima family to the Tanaka family. I am never letting it go.”
That one had been unexpected. He’d known when his brother had started dating someone seriously—hard not to, when Akiteru couldn’t keep a secret if his life depended on it. When the awkward but necessary meeting-the-future-in-laws dinner happened at last, Kei even enjoyed Tanaka Saeko’s company. Particularly her brand of teasing her fiancé.
Until a few months later, during one of many wedding preparation events he was forced to attend as the best man, he’d found out who her little brother was. Tragically, also a best man. Was it not enough that Kei had learned to work with Haiba during their third year? And to tolerate Yaku’s hyper-active boyfriend from Karasuno?
Tetsurou had laughed his ass off when Kei voiced those questions out loud and Kei had to eventually shut him up with less than fair tactics. Whatever worked.
Akiteru, though, was still not forgiven. Even if he was now happily married and well into his honeymoon somewhere in Korea. “We went to see the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall yesterday. It was magical, Kei!”
As his brother described the beauty and nature of Jeju island, gesticulating wildly in excitement to the point where he’d almost smacked his tablet a few times, Kei settled into a more comfortable position, pulling his knees up and resting his chin on them.
That, too, was a routine now. Akiteru never went longer than a week without calling. Kei never failed to answer.
“What’s got you looking so solemn and grown-up?”
Kei shrugged, not willing to go into the details. “Hormones.”
Maybe he should have, seeing as his brother gasped dramatically and said, “Are you pregnant?”
“Nii-chan, what the fuck.”
“Because if you are…”
“Are you sure? Do I need to talk to that alpha of yours?”
“What you need to do is stop talking.”
Akiteru sighed heavily. This was not the first time he’d tried to initiate this conversation, much to Kei’s horror. Last time Tetsurou was present, too. After which they had wordlessly agreed to pretend it never happened. “Kei, it’s nothing to be—”
“If you give me the baby talk, I will hang up and never talk to you again.”
“I just want you to—”
Kei did hang up then, but knew he’d pick up the phone next time his brother’s name flashed on the screen.
Because this was his life now, apparently.
With all of his university assignments finished, and therefore lacking a substantial excuse, Kei was forced to face the issue of the few unpacked boxes they had absolutely not hidden away behind the sofa just to avoid seeing them. It was mostly books and movies and sentimental trinkets, so it wasn’t like they had needed them right away.
But it had been almost over a month since they’d moved in from their shitty first apartment. This one was only slightly less so, but at least the hot water was always working and the neighbours did not have cheap-porn kind of loud sex at three in the morning every other weekend.
Their new neighbour was a badass looking old lady who liked to call Kei a good boy and pinch him on the cheeks whenever they crossed paths, so the jury was still out on that one. But she did do the same thing to Yaku, once, which made the odds tilt slightly in her favour. Or a lot. His expression had been priceless.
She also made best double chocolate chip cookies that she didn’t mind sharing.
Realising he was procrastinating again, Kei put on some music and got to work. He made his way through old textbooks and encyclopaedias, both Tetsurou’s and his, a pile of old essays that should probably go to the trash, an entire collection of Star Wars and some ancient Gundam DVDs because Tetsurou had always been a nerd, a few random volumes of manga and an almost finished pack of cat-shaped post-its.
The last one was a memento from those initial days when the stress from moving in together was overshadowed by clashing university schedules and part-time jobs that had them missing each other even on weekends. Until one day Kei had come home to a multitude of bright messages plastered all over their apartment. It hadn’t quenched the need for an actual moment together, but it did make the situation slightly more bearable and therefore had only escalated from there. It was Kei who’d picked this particular pack from a bookstore one lonely afternoon.
At the very bottom of the last box, he’d found an old group photo of Nekoma, the very first one he’d been forced into. He’d found out much later that Tetsurou had framed it all those years ago. He’d even written out the date on the back. It was utterly cheesy, and Kei never stopped rolling his eyes at it, but he also hadn’t made a single attempt at taking it down from its usual place on one of the bookshelves. Exactly where he put it now.
(In his mind, he could already picture Tetsurou’s goofy grin once he saw the picture. It was why Kei put it back in the first place.
And maybe it wasn’t a problem after all. To do things just for that smile, and to have Tetsurou know it. Embarrassing, often mortifyingly so, but okay.
Certainly something he could live happily with.)
Tetsurou did come home early, just after three in the afternoon instead of the usual five. Kei had already crawled back to bed by then, body hot and shivering with need. His headache had gotten ten times worse before it went away at last.
“Hey,” Tetsurou said softly as he walked into the bedroom. “Did I wake you?”
Kei shook his head, then shifted slightly to his side of the bed in a wordless request. Some things he still couldn’t say out loud, not even to his mate.
Tetsurou’s tie was already crooked and loose, but he shrugged off his jacket, leaving it uncharacteristically carelessly right there on the fluffy rug, then sat down on the bed. He waved the plastic bag in his hands. “I brought food.”
With effort, Kei sat up, while Tetsurou took out multiple take-out containers and broke off chopsticks, offering one pair to Kei. At the smell of food, Kei’s body reacted with its usual pang of pre-heat hunger, vicious and deep. Obstinately, he ate even slower than usual, swirling rice noodles with his chopsticks between bites.
They didn’t talk, because right then it was too much effort. This close, Kei could see the tension in Tetsurou’s posture, the occasional subtle flare of his nostrils and the blown pupils that made his eyes look darker, fiercer. He wasn’t in rut yet, but the room was permeated with thick, heavy pheromones and it wouldn’t be long now, for either of them.
Kei focused on the sound of rain beating hard against the window, the soothing dimness of the room—they hadn’t bothered with lights.
Finished with their food, Tetsurou went to take away leftovers and trash. Kei heard water running in the kitchen but didn’t ease back under the blankets until Tetsurou came back. This time, the alpha stripped off his pants and dress shirt and socks before joining Kei. With a tiny, sympathetic smile, he took off Kei’s glasses and put them carefully on the bedside table. Then finally, he laid down.
His scent enveloped Kei like a hug.
Needing more contact, he cuddled into the space under Tetsurou’s arm, pillowing his head on the broad naked chest. In that moment, it was the only place he wanted to be.
Tetsurou placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. Then, he started talking.
Mostly about nothing at all. He ranted about his work day and his co-workers, laughed about the most recent disaster caused by an intern in one of the labs, wondered about the new development in Bokuto’s epic plan to propose.
Kei merely listened, feeling warm and safe and settled. Even with slick making an uncomfortable mess out of his underwear, body heating with each passing moment.
But his alpha was right there.
And when it finally hit, Kei was ready.
“Tetsu,” he breathed, voice breaking on a moan. He was burning again, shaking, shivering like an addict. He wanted—he needed—
His mate’s hands were on him, all around, soft and smooth, touching reverently, raising him up so easily, until he was straddling Tetsurou and leaning down to kiss him, long and deep and desperate.
The hands glided up his arms, curled around his neck, tangled in the short damp hairs there, pulling Kei closer, closer. He went willingly, obediently, every part of him pressing against Tetsurou, craving the touch, the smell, the heat.
His hips had begun rocking slowly, leaving wet sticky trails on Tetsurou’s thighs.
Their clothes were a nuisance.
Deeming it a priority, Kei made quick work of ridding them both of their remaining clothing. His uncooperative limbs got tangled in the sleeves of his shirt, but Tetsurou was on it, pushing the fabric up until Kei was free, until it was skin against skin, lips on lips and bodies tangled.
Kei was hard, so hard, aching, keening every time his cock brushed against Tetsurou’s, dripping slick on navy sheets. He wanted—needed more.
“Kei,” the alpha said.
In the late evening gloom, his face was all angles and sharp lines. A bed of sweat tricked down his temple, and disappeared into inky mess of his hair. His full, red lips were parted, air escaping them in short heavy puffs. His eyes were completely taken over by black.
And under Kei’s palm, his heart beat an erratic, crazy rhythm.
In tune with Kei’s.
Yes, this was exactly what he needed.
It took Kei time to get used to this. To let Tetsurou take control.
To understand that being pinned to the bed, baring his neck with a filthy moan, did not mean he was weak. That he was less.
Should he choose to, he could turn the tables, and take and take and take.
And Tetsurou would let him. Would enjoy it. Would moan and groan and whisper things that would make Kei see stars.
But right now, he chose this.
Tetsurou growled; a rough, possessive sound that shot straight to Kei’s cock, followed by blunt fingernails digging into his ass, leaving behind marks that no one would see. Kei arched into the touch. Tetsurou took it as a chance to trail wet, sloppy kisses down his neck, across his chest, to the hollow of his hipbone, and the inside of his thigh, where he left a bright red mark, then another, and another, before moving to the other side.
Two of his fingers had pushed into Kei, probing, stretching, making it so hard to fight the urge to touch himself—too soon, too empty, not yet, not enough.
The alpha raised his head from the mess he was turning Kei’s leg into.
Wild and dark and beautiful.
Kei remembered how he’d used to wish he could lose his mind completely during heats, so he would forget being needy and pathetic and loud.
Now, though. Now he was glad that this image of Tetsurou could be seared into his memory. Because Tetsurou in a rut was a different beast entirely. Gone was the patience, the softness, the control. His shoulders seemed broader. His posture radiated power. His scent was overwhelming.
And Kei revelled in every moment of it.
"You're thinking too much." Even his voice was lower, huskier, sexier.
"Then you're not doing a very good job."
Tetsurou’s eyes flashed gold. Kei felt a shudder go through him.
Kei did exactly as he was told, burying his face in a pillow and raising his ass high. Presenting for his alpha.
The low animalistic sound was the only warning he’d gotten before the thick blunt head of Tetsurou’s cock was pressing into him, pushing all the way, with enough force to leave Kei scrambling for purchase, twisting the sheets in his fingers.
He felt so wonderfully, gloriously full.
And then Tetsurou started to thrust, hard and fast and good. His arms had wound tight around Kei’s waist, holding him up and steady, each harsh move of his hips making it impossible for Kei to stay upright on his own.
He was close, so close.
Tetsurou knew it too, with how tight Kei was clenching around his cock, fucking himself eagerly on it. His thrusts went shallower, quicker, beginnings of a knot already catching on the rim.
He pulled Kei up like it was nothing, chest to back, skin to skin. And his mouth went straight to the mating mark on Kei’s neck.
When sharp canines finally pierced the flesh, Kei came with a soundless scream, head thrown back as the world went technicolour.
Tetsurou fucked him through it all, and a few moments or maybe an eternity later, he was spilling inside, the swell of his knot a pleasant burn that finally, finally eased the ache in Kei.
They stayed still, overwhelmed and desperate for oxygen, locked together. Until the sweat cooling on his skin made Kei shiver.
Carefully, Tetsurou manoeuvred them back to where they started, cuddled close in the comfort of blankets and sheets. They had some time now. To simply lay there, in the fallen dark, basking in each other’s presence. Sharing the warmth. Listening to the rain and the slowly calming breaths.
Tetsurou held him close in his strong arms, nuzzling lovingly against the fresh bite. Later, Kei would bite him back. For now, he was sated and happy and loved.
"What are you thinking about?" Tetsurou asked, in a voice that was as lazy and content as he. His hand stroked soothing circles into Kei's belly.
"Once my heat is over... Maybe we could go see those kittens of yours."
Tetsurou’s arms tightened against him imperceptibly. But Kei had felt it nonetheless. As he did the smile against his neck. "Both of them?"
"Keep pushing it and I'll get a dog."
"But we will get a dog,” Tetsurou protested. “One day. In the future.”
Yes, one day. For now, they would start small. And take it one step at a time.