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Tetsurou likes the look of the house. It’s big enough for the two of them but he’s still nervous about the vast amount of houses in the whole neighbourhood, he grew up in a place much smaller than this. There are kids running around playing soccer and it looks fun, he lights up a little, “Tetsu, why don’t you go play?” He shakes his head furiously and his father sighs.

“Excuse me,” The voice makes Tetsurou hop up to his feet and hide behind his father. His father smiles at the lady who’s approached their garden. A young boy is with her, who is eyeing Tetsurou curiously, “My name is Kozume Ayasa. It’s nice to meet you, it’s lovely to see someone new in the neighbourhood.”

“Hi, my name is Kuroo Nobuo, it’s lovely to meet you. This is Tetsurou, he’s a little shy.”

“No worries, I understand that. This is Kenma, he’s usually shy too.”

The two get talking and Tetsurou is left to watch his father chatting away. He turns to Kenma who is still staring and gives a small wave, he notices a Nintendo DS poking from Kenma’s pocket and he lights up, “What are you playing?”

“Oh,” Kenma looks down to his DS and smiles, “It’s called Monster Hunters.”

“Can you show me?” Kenma nods, he pulls out the device and loads it up. Tetsurou finally comes from behind his mother and to Kenma’s side, so he can watch the game. It looks interesting and his eyes light up, “This looks amazing.” Kenma lets Tetsurou play for a while and they sit down in the grass to talk more about it. Their parents are watching with fond smiles.

The first day of school is nerving for Tetsurou. He doesn’t find Kenma until lunch and they sit together, chatting about video games. Tetsurou noticed a flyer for the volleyball club in the hall and he hopes to meet some more people that he’d have a common interest with, “Kenma, do you like volleyball?”

“Not really. Sport is too exhausting.”

Tetsurou’s nerves come back. He doesn’t want to go somewhere unfamiliar, with no-one that he’ll know, it causes him to start picking at his bento box, “Will you please come with me? I just want to see what it’s like.”

“Sure,” Kenma shrugs. It isn’t a big deal for him and he doesn’t understand why Tetsurou seems so interested in it. But he doesn’t mind going along to keep Tetsurou company, “It’s almost class time. I’ll see you later.” They head off in separate directions, with Tetsurou hoping that the volleyball club is welcoming.

Even with Kenma at his side, Tetsurou is nervous. The club leader (and team captain) is kind and quick to include Tetsurou in their practice. Kenma sits in the stands and decides to play on his DS while Tetsurou is in the middle of the game. The spiker is good too, there are a few balls that fly past Kuroo with targeted ease, so he grins with each one he manages to block.

The captain is pleased with Kuroo’s performance and asks him to be a sub for their next practice game, which is three days away. Kuroo eagerly agrees, the thought of it is more than exciting, he looks up to the stands and gives Kenma a wave before heading into the locker room. A few of the members introduce themselves properly and congratulate his skill, and once that’s done, he gets changed.

"Hey," A sharp voice jolts Tetsurou and he nervously looks up from his shoes, "You were great out there."

"Ah. T-thanks, you too."

"I'm Daishou Suguru. It's nice to meet you."

"I’m Kuroo Tetsurou," He extends a hand and Suguru shakes it with a smile. For some reason, Tetsurou's heart thumps loudly in his chest. Suguru's smile is beautiful and Tetsurou is mesmerised by it. They talk about the game for a little while, but are soon ushered on by the captain who’s seen that they’re already changed, and when they leave the locker room, Kenma is stood there waiting for Tetsurou, “Hey, did you watch?”

“Hm,” Kenma shrugs, “It was okay.”

“We should get going,” Tetsurou turns back to Suguru with a smile, “I’ll see you later Suguru.”

“Yeah, see you.”

Tetsurou heads off with Kenma, they’re met by Tetsurou’s father who is happy to take them both home, “How was it?”

“It was great dad! They want me to play, will you come to watch us?”

“Of course, that’s great news! What about you Kenma, are you interested?”

“Not really, but they looked cohesive. Tetsu played well.”

“Well, try to have some fun even if you’re only watching.” He smiles brightly. They get into the car and head home together. Tetsurou is still thinking about Suguru for the rest of the night. Kenma joins them for dinner and Tetsurou tries to make small talk about video games and when they settle down to play for a short while, Kenma wins easily with Tetsurou’s mind distracted. After Kenma heads home, Tetsurou does some studying, absentmindedly doodling Suguru in the corner of his notebook.

Tetsurou is itching to play volleyball. His father buys a ball so he can practice his serves in the garden. When Tetsurou can, he drags Kenma out to toss him some balls, which he’s surprisingly good at, once Tetsurou helps him get the basics down and it’s nice, but it only serves to sooth Tetsurou’s itch slightly. He loves volleyball.

When their practice game comes around, Tetsurou almost stops breathing the moment he sees Suguru again. His heart feels like it might jump out of his chest and he isn’t sure why. Suguru greets him with a soft pat to the shoulder and a bright smile, “Are you excited for the game?”

“Yes! I hope I get to play.”

“I think you will. Inami seems to really like you and you’re a good blocker, it will help strengthen our defence quite a bit. I look forward to seeing you play.”

“Y-yeah. Me too.” There’s heat nipping at Tetsurou’s neck, Suguru does seem to notice and shoots Tetsurou a smile. They head into the locker room, Tetsurou is given the number thirteen jersey and he hopes it won’t be unlucky.

He’s at the sidelines throughout the entirety of the first set. It slips through their grasp at twenty-six to twenty-four, they fall behind in the second set by five points and take a timeout. Inami wants to sub Tetsurou in and provide more strength to their blocks, the coach agrees eagerly and they go back to playing. They sub Tetsurou in and manage to clinch the second set back, the other team look a little surprised by the change. They adjust and the momentum stays even, until Suguru slams a spike through the block to finally take their team a break ahead.

Finally, they hold down the game and win. Even with it only being a practice game, the team celebrate and Tetsurou feels his whole breath leave his body when Suguru hugs him, “You were great!”

“You too!” The teams line up and there’s a chorus of 'thank you' resounding through the gymnasium. They head into the locker room and change quickly. Tetsurou is a little disappointed that he’s going to have to say goodbye to Suguru for the day. They don’t share a class. Tetsurou has seen Suguru around the school and during lunch, but nervousness always fills his body when he sees him, and in those moments he usually only manages to give Suguru a small smile.

Tetsurou pushes aside those thoughts and leaves the locker room, Nubou and Kenma are waiting, Kenma is still staring at his DS. Nobuo looks Suguru over and gives him a bright smile, “Hello there, I’m Tetsu’s father, Nobuo, it’s lovely to meet you. Are you two friends? I can’t say I know much about volleyball but you boys worked really well together out there, the block was impeccable.”

“Ah. Thank you,” Suguru bows and Tetsurou hurries to distract himself by watching Kenma play, “I’m Suguru, it’s a pleasure to be on the same team as Tetsurou.”

Nobuo is still smiling and gives a small bow in return. Tetsurou impatiently tugs at his sleeve, “I’m hungry.”

“Yes, yes!” He chuckles and they began heading off. Suguru is left watching them, his friends were unable to watch the match and he doesn’t really want to head back alone, to an empty house. He quickly picks his feet up though, he doesn’t want anyone to take pity on him, it’s the worst feeling. When he gets outside, Kenma and Tetsurou are clambering into a car and Suguru gives a small wave. Tetsurou waves back with a grin and Nobuo turns around, “Suguru! If you’re not in a rush home, would you like to come for dinner?”

“Dad! His parents will be waiting.”

“No! It’s fine, my dad’s at work. I can come. Uh, if you want me there.”

“Of course we do! I wouldn’t have offered. Kenma is over almost every day anyway, hop in!” Suguru eagerly heads over to the car and hops in the back with Kenma. He notices the video game and all three of them talk about it during the ride back. Tetsurou is hoping his blush won’t get noticed. There’s something special about Suguru and he doesn’t know what it is.

With four pair of hands in the kitchen, dinner is prepared quickly. Tetsurou is smiling brightly, they eat up quickly and retire upstairs to play a game together. Suguru wins ever round, a smirk dancing on his lips when Kenma decides to call it a night and head home, “See you at school.”

“Bye Kenma!”

“Cya, it was nice talking with you.” Kenma nods and heads out, they can hear Nobuo downstairs bidding him goodbye. Suguru turns to smirk at Tetsurou, “Want me to beat you again?”

“I won’t lose this time!” Tetsurou protests, gently shoving Suguru.

He doesn’t lose, but it isn’t down to his skill and he knows it. Suguru has fallen asleep. His head is resting against Tetsurou’s shoulder and he doesn’t know what to do, his cheeks are burning and his heart is pounding. The door quietly opens and Nobuo smiles at them without a care in the world, “He must be exhausted, poor boy. I’ll bring in the futon, okay?”

Tetsurou nods. His father is only gone for a moment and once the futon is set-up, he leaves with a smile. Tetsurou is certain he’s blushing more in the wake of his father’s presence. He carefully moves Suguru to the futon and decides to sit down to do some studying. Tetsurou ends up a little distracted, looking over his shoulder to check on Suguru. He barely shifts on the futon and Tetsurou finds himself staring sometimes.

Suguru’s brow knot together suddenly and Tetsurou quickly turns back to his homework, he’s not sure if they’re quite friends yet, they only speak during club hours. Regardless of friendship or not, Tetsurou doesn’t want to get caught staring. There’s a soft mutter, Tetsurou can’t make out if it’s words or something else.

“Mom,” Suguru’s voice makes Tetsurou turn back around. Suguru’s eyes are still shut, he looks like he’s in pain and Tetsurou wants to hug him. He wants to help, “Don’t leave, mom,” His voice is barely above a whisper and Tetsurou know that he’s sleep-talking, “Mom!” Suguru quickly sits up and looks around, a little dazed and confused.

Tetsurou leaves his chair and kneels on the floor near Suguru, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Suguru holds his head in his palms, “Just a nightmare.”

“You were calling for your mom. I lost mine too, she passed away when I was two. I don’t remember her.”

“Tetsu,” Suguru looks up and places a hand to Tetsurou’s shoulder, “I’m so sorry.”

“I-it’s okay!” Tetsurou grasps Suguru’s hand, “I just wanted you to know that I understand whatever it is you’re going through. I’m here if you want to talk.”

Suguru nods, he’s staring at their hands and Tetsurou gently pulls away with a shy smile, “Thanks. I’ve never had anyone to talk to about it. My dad doesn’t like hearing it, she walked out on us. Three years ago. She just packed and left without a word.”

“That’s awful. I’m sorry Suguru.”

“It’s fine, I understand now. I’m okay...I just think about her sometimes,” Their hands have seemingly found each other again and their fingers are curling around each other, it’s natural, “Thank you for being my friend.”

“Of course!”

They share a smile and Suguru leans forward to press his head against Tetsurou’s shoulder. They stay like that for a moment, holding onto each other and basking in the silence of the room. It’s a while until they move away from each other. Tetsurou doesn’t return to his homework, they sit down to play another game, until Nobuo pokes his head into the room, “Hey. Suguru, are you staying over? I’m not sure if Tetsu’s clothing will fit you very well, but if you get changed, I’ll wash your uniform.”

“Thank you. I’d like to stay.”

“That’s great! I’ll bring some snacks up then. Tetsu, find something for Suguru.”

Tetsurou nods and Nobuo leaves with a smile. Tetsurou hops up and digs through his dresser for a pair of pyjamas, quickly handing them over to Suguru, “Here. I think these should be okay.”

“Thanks,” Suguru looks a little nervous and it dawns on Tetsurou that he’s never seen Suguru getting changed in the locker room after practice. He’s always vanished.

“The bathroom is just across the hall.” Suguru nods with a soft smile and leaves the room.

It doesn’t take long for Suguru to return. Nobuo is moments behind him, he puts down a tray of assorted snacks and takes Suguru’s uniform for him, “I’ll leave it in the bathroom for tomorrow if you’d like to shower or clean-up before school. Do you need to call your father?”

“No, it’s okay,” Nobuo nods and leaves them alone again. Tetsurou looks at Suguru, for a moment, he feels like he’s trying to solve a puzzle and all Suguru does is smile. So he doesn’t ask and they play a couple more games before calling it a night.

They settle down easily and doze off in the middle of a conversation about volleyball. Nobuo quietly takes away the tray before going to bed himself. Tetsurou is dreaming about Suguru, how his face lights up with a smile, his eyes crinkled at the corners. He’s sweet, soft. Tetsurou remembers how easily their hands fit together and he wants to experience it again, he wants it to last forever.

“M-” The voice breaks through Tetsurou’s conscious and his eyes open half-way, still bleary with sleep. The air is quiet, and he wonders if a memory from the day had just returned. He lays there for a moment, staring at the ceiling, “Mom, come back. Mom.” He knows it’s Suguru this time and he shoots out of bed.

Suguru is writhing on the futon, his hands gripping tightly at the sheets. Tetsurou carefully curls his hand around Suguru’s, “Suguru, wake up,” He shakes him a little and Suguru’s eyes shoot open. They find Tetsurou and he relaxes, “Your mom again?”

“Yeah. C...Can I sleep with you?”

“Of course.” They squeeze into Tetsurou’s bed together. Tetsurou waits patiently for Suguru to fall asleep before he thinks to close his eyes.

They wake up to Tetsurou’s alarm without another incident. They’re curled into each other and both become a little embarrassed, they quickly part from each other. Suguru goes for a shower first, his uniform is waiting just like Nobuo said. He thinks about how safe he feels beside Tetsurou, how he wishes someone had come into his life sooner and saved him from the hell he was living. He wishes he could wash away the scars on his body.

He tries not to take too long, he knows that Tetsurou will need to shower too. They share a small smile when he returns to the room, now donned in his uniform and Tetsurou heads to the bathroom. Suguru wonders if his father so much as questioned where he was...If he’d even returned from work, with a shudder, he heads downstairs. Nobuo has breakfast on the table already and he smiles to Suguru, “Good morning. Did you sleep well?”

“Yes. Thanks again.”

“Anytime. May I talk with you?” Suguru nods and Nobuo takes a seat, “You said your dad would be working, but you didn’t want to call him and you looked reluctant to return. Now, I won’t ask for your life story, but if you ever need a place to stay, please know that my door is open. As are my ears, if you need them.”

“Thank you so much. He--” Suguru checks behind him, he hears the shower switch off and relaxes a little, “He changed since my mom walked out. It’s never been the same...I’m scared.”

“It isn’t easy coming from a broken home. I was lost too when my wife died, but I knew I needed to be there for Tetsu and I am truly sorry that your dad can’t do that for you,” He rises from his seat and gives Suguru a reassuring pat on the shoulder, “You can get through it. I will always be here if you need somewhere safe.”

Suguru nods. Nobuo sets to pouring drinks - coffee for himself and orange juice for the boys. Tetsurou walks into the kitchen moments later and grabs the milk to fill up his bowl, “Mornin’” His uniform looks almost like he gave up half-way through; the tie is loose and his top two buttons aren’t secured. Suguru fills up his bowl and smiles once Tetsurou gets comfortable - he tries not to think about how he can’t stop staring at Tetsurou and how every inch of his appearance drags Suguru’s attention away from everything else. After breakfast, Kenma shows up at the door, his mother introduces herself to Suguru and they head off to school in her car. They part ways to head to their respective classroom.

Suguru returns home once the day is over. He already knows that his father is home from the pungent smell of alcohol, it instils fear through his body. It’s an ache that runs cold to his bones, “Suguru!” The sharp call of his name has him holding his breath as he carefully walks into the lounge, “What the hell have you been doing? I heard from Atani that you were hanging around some dumb-looking kid!”

“N-no! It was just someone on the volleyball team.”

His dad frowns, his fist curls tighter around the neck of the bottle. Suguru steps back. It flies across the room and crashes against the wall near his head, “I wish you’d give up on that stupid game! It won’t get you anywhere,” Suguru nods and his dad turns back to the fridge with a tut, “Get out of my sight.”

Suguru runs up to his room. There are tears in his eyes and he can remember every time a glass hadn’t just hit the wall. The times his father’s anger was out of control. He sniffs and packs some clothes in a bag and leaves. It’s only a few blocks to Kuroo’s house but he still checks behind himself every step of the way. He’s grateful when it’s Nobuo who answers, he’s not sure he could face Tetsurou at this moment.

He calms down over a glass of water and Nobuo goes upstairs. There are three pairs of voices travelling down: Tetsurou, Kenma and Nobuo. He sees Kenma leave then Tetsurou appears in front of him and takes his hand, “Come on, you’re welcome to stay in my room.”

Suguru barely manages to grab his bag before he’s whisked upstairs. When they reach Tetsurou’s bedroom, silence envelopes them and it’s like both of them are afraid of breaking it. Suguru sits down and begins tracing shapes into the carpet, “I don’t want to go back there.”

“It’s okay. You’ll be safe here,” Tetsurou sits down with Suguru and holds his hand, “My dad and I will make sure of it!”

“Thank you, Tetsu.”

“Come on, let’s play something. I’ll let you win again.”

“Yeah right! You couldn’t beat me if you tried.”

Tetsurou grins and Suguru smiles for the first time since walking into the house. They settle down together and play a few games. Nobuo sets up the futon again and drops off a tray of snacks and a couple of drinks.

As their night slowly dies down, and after Suguru has changed in the bathroom, there’s a quiet moment and Suguru stares at the futon. Tetsurou is already in bed, only the lamp is lighting the room, he slowly pushes aside the bedsheets so Suguru can squeeze into bed with him again. Suguru gets comfortable and a silence falls over the room, Tetsurou lets his arm fall over Suguru and he smiles, “You’re okay.”

“Tetsu…” Suguru relaxes in Tetsurou’s arms and they slowly drift off.

Chapter Text

Suguru and Tetsurou spend most of their time together, Kenma usually joins them to play video games and Tetsurou is happy when he decides to join them for volleyball practice too. Tetsurou is making more friends at school too and they play soccer every Saturday, Suguru tends to join if he isn’t helping around the house (he’d insisted to Nobuo that he needed to repay his help somehow), his father hasn’t come looking either. It’s a relief, but it angers Tetsurou that someone could turn their back on somebody as kind as Suguru.

Over the past few months together, there’s been a feeling burning in Tetsurou’s chest and he doesn’t know what it is. It feels good and when he’s with Suguru it bursts into more; a warm feeling fills his whole body. It’s unexplainable and as natural as waves against sand. He enjoys playing more too, being on the court with Suguru is thrilling.

They still share a bed, even though Nobuo has had the house renovated to include an extra room for Suguru. Tetsurou worries about the day when Suguru decides to sleep in the room full time, when he’s no longer haunted by nightmares. He’s not sure why his chest hurts when he thinks of that, because he’ll be happy to see Suguru free from the pain. Maybe he’s worried that it’ll mean Suguru no longer needs him, maybe he’ll be forgotten about.

Suguru pats Tetsurou’s back and he’s shaken out of those thoughts, he looks up and Suguru is smiling, “Come on bed-head, your dad will be waiting.”

“Yeah!” He pulls on his shoes and leaves the gymnasium with Suguru and Kenma at his side.

They have a nice dinner and then play video games for most of the night. Kenma makes a studying plan with Tetsurou for their upcoming study night and Suguru adds a few points where he needs a little extra help. Once everything is set-up for their study night, they chat until Kenma is called to go home. Tetsurou thinks it would be nice to have a real sleepover sometime, they could all fit into his room and play video games until they got tired.

“I want us all to be friends forever.”

“That would be nice. I really enjoy being friends with you and Kenma.”

Tetsurou smiles brightly and Suguru finds it contagious, it’s always easy for him to smile around Tetsurou, “Good! I’m really glad.”

It’s easy to lose track of time between school and volleyball, but it’s fun and Tetsurou is glad to see both Kenma and Suguru enjoying themselves too. Kenma is still neutral about volleyball, he plays well but he won’t exert a lot of energy on the court and he never says he enjoys it. It’s still fun, Tetsurou has a feeling Kenma enjoys it, otherwise, he wouldn’t be out there.

They still spend a lot of time playing video games or studying together. Suguru has fit easily into the routine. Tetsurou likes having his two closest friends by his side. He still doesn’t know what the strange feeling in his chest is, but it’s nice and it warms his body whenever they’re alone together. Everything has fallen into place and it’s good.

It’s too cold. Suguru can feel it—ice in his bones, a chill clawing down his spine. There’s a smash and he tries to sink further into the corner, hide better, keep safe, “Suguru!” His name sounds like venom, he covers his ears and tucks his head closer to his knees. He prays, someone will save him—his room door won’t open.

It does.

His hands are pulled away from his head and he’s met with a vicious smile, “Suguru, why would you hide from me? I thought you loved your father,” He’s thrown across the room, he hits into his dresser with a loud thud and a soft cry, “Everything I’ve done for you. I kept you around when your mother wanted neither of us. It’s your fault. She was happy, so-so happy before you came along. Before you ruined everything,” The glass touches his skin, fingers dig roughly into his leg, “Be a good boy and stay quiet.”

“No!” Suguru sits up. He holds his head and sobs quietly.

“Suguru, it’s okay.” Tetsurou gently touches his arm but Suguru moves away like he’s been burned.

“Don’t touch me!”

Tetsurou drops his hand, he has to bite his lip to stop it from quivering. Everything had been good. Why did this have to happen now? Did he do something wrong? Could Suguru tell that Tetsurou felt differently? No, no! That can’t be true. It was a nightmare and Tetsurou almost felt consumed by it too, “Sugu,” He tries again, softly. He doesn’t reach out and Suguru turns to face him, “It’s okay, I’m here. You’re safe.”

“Tetsu!” Suguru collapses into him. The door opens and Tetsurou looks up to his father who seems struck with fear. Suguru is still sobbing, clinging onto Tetsurou like it’s his only hope—his safety net.

“Is everything okay?” Nobuo’s voice is quiet, Tetsurou nods. His father still stands there for a moment, until Suguru has calmed down. The boys settle back into bed again, Suguru is closer, grip tight on Tetsurou’s pyjama top. Nobuo quietly leaves them.

“You’re okay,” Tetsurou says, “You’re okay.” It’s a mutter and turns into a soft mantra, Suguru falls asleep. Tetsurou doesn’t. He’s far too alert, worried Suguru will have another nightmare.

When morning breaks and Suguru wakes up to the sound of Tetsurou’s alarm, it takes him a moment to pry himself away from Tetsurou. Tetsurou yawns and Suguru feels the guilt crawling through his veins, “I’m sorry.”

“Huh?” Tetsurou blinks away the tiredness weighing him down and he shakes his head, “It isn’t your fault. I don’t mind, I told you, I will keep you safe.”

“Thank you,” Suguru looks away, Tetsurou is sure his cheeks are a little red, “Tetsu, will you call me Sugu from now on?”

“Yeah, of course,” Suguru nods, he grabs his things and disappears into the bathroom. Nobuo walks into the room and smiles at Tetsurou, “Morning.”

“You look tired. The nightmare?”

“Yeah. I didn’t want him to have another one.”

“I should have been here quicker. You don’t have to take all the responsibility.”

“It’s okay dad! I want to protect him too, he’s my friend.”

Nobuo smiles. It seems knowing, but Tetsurou can’t figure out why, “Of course you do. I’ll go get breakfast ready,” He walks back out of the room but stops for a moment in the doorway, “You’ll know son, when you’re older.”

“Huh?” But Nobuo only smiles and finally heads downstairs. Tetsurou is still a little dazed, even when Suguru returns and tells him the bathroom is free.

He jerks back when Suguru taps his arm, “Is something wrong?”

“Uh! No, just my dad is being cryptic,” Tetsurou shrugs, “Thanks!” He quickly heads to the bathroom.

Weeks passed without incident. But this time Tetsurou isn’t letting himself get too comfortable, he waits longer every night for Suguru to fall asleep in his arms.

They’re getting older, but it’s still normal—it's second nature.

They’ve even had sleepovers with Kenma and he never brings it up with Tetsurou. It’s been two years already and Tetsurou doesn’t know how he spent a single moment without Suguru in his life.

He still hasn’t figured out his father’s words though, and he thinks about them all the time, wondering when he’ll figure things out. When this will all make sense. He wonders if he should press the matter, but the timing never seems quite right. And it’s nice having Suguru there.

Tetsurou doesn’t want to chase him off, he’s already worrying that Suguru will go to a different junior high-school, that they will separate for the first time since they met. It’s like a light, waiting to go out at dusk.

Tetsurou talks about school a lot. even high-school, which is further away and just a dream. He wants to join Nekoma, which is close by and has a strong team, Kenma has already agreed to go with him—he’s agreed to continue volleyball, and aim for nationals. It makes it easier to fall asleep at night, his dreams of the future is strong.

He misses Suguru’s brow furrowing in his sleep.

Suguru can feel a hand, ice-cold against his skin. Then there’s a sting, it’s a small cut, but it still makes him bite his lip, “Suguru, remind me of how much of a failure you are,” The voice is far off, but still somehow feels buried deep into his ears. A second cut comes, it’s bigger and deeper, he tries to move away from the pressure, “You should quit volleyball too. I can’t believe you got into that stupid sport. Your mother would be ashamed too, I know she would—” There’s a foot pressing into Suguru’s side and he coughs out a breath, “If she were still here. If we never had you.”

He can’t stop shaking. He loses count of the cuts. A hand touches his face and he jumps away with a soft shout, “Sugu!” It’s Tetsurou. He’s blurry, Suguru realises he’s crying and he quickly rubs away the tears. A hand is extended towards him, there’s hesitation to the movement. Suguru grasps it, like a lifeline and he snuggles into a warm embrace. Familiarity fills his body and he closes his eyes for a moment, “I’m so sorry, Sugu.”

“This isn’t your fault. My father—Masashi is haunting me,” Tetsurou pulls Suguru closer, gently running a hand over his spine, “The things he did, Tetsu—I don’t know if I will ever recover. He hurt me,” Anger flashes through Tetsurou’s body, he clenches his teeth. It’s not easy to hear, but he has a feeling that Suguru needs to let this all out, “He really hurt me.”

Tetsurou holds Suguru as he sobs. He wishes that this could wash away so easily, that Suguru can sleep through the night with ease. Tetsurou at least knows no-one at ten should be dealing with this. He isn’t, his father takes care of him. He gently pulls away and wipes away Suguru’s tears, “He can’t hurt you now. I won’t let him, neither will my dad.” Tetsurou doesn’t think, he kisses Suguru. He’s seen it before on TV, when someone has been unable to find clarity—unable to breathe. It feels right, it feels like he should. That he could do it a thousand times.

Suguru is stiff, blinking in confusion and Tetsurou pulls away, blushing bright red, “W-what? Tetsu, why would you do that?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry. I thought that it could help.”

“A-ah…” Suguru turns away, Tetsurou feels guilty, he already wants to apologise again, “Forget about it! Just, go back to sleep.” Suguru still settles into Tetsurou’s arms and it’s reassuring. He waits for Suguru’s breathing to even out, then closes his eyes.

His lips are buzzing with the remnants of the kiss.

Chapter Text

A week has passed since the kiss. Suguru has moved into the bedroom Nobuo set up for him and he’s going to therapy every Sunday and Wednesday. Tetsurou is happy, but it still leaves a sting in his chest when he’s crawling into bed at night—it’s always cold, alone, foreign.

Tetsurou is trying desperately to grasp onto the small moments they had together. The times their hands would meet, how Suguru felt pressed against him during the night—the kiss—it’s all too much. Tetsurou wants to take it back, so things will return to normal and Suguru will sleep in his room again.

He knows he’s thinking about it too much, that this was going to happen eventually. But they’ve known each other for two years and it’s the first time they’re separated. Tetsurou hates it. He spends more time with Kenma instead, who listens to his troubles and tries to reassure Tetsurou that they’re still friends. It isn’t an issue when they play volleyball, and Suguru hasn’t mentioned that he wants to go to a different junior high.

Tetsurou holds onto that fact. There’s hope filling his veins.

Everything comes down like a lead balloon in the middle of their last year at elementary school. Suguru isn’t following Tetsurou and Kenma into the same school, the one he’s going to is still close enough that he’ll only have to hop on a bus every morning. For the first time since the kiss, Tetsurou considers asking Nobuo what the problem is.

Tetsurou knows Suguru isn’t sleeping well. It shows in his face. Tetsurou isn’t sure he’s doing much better, he wakes the moment he hears the shower running—he knows it’s Suguru and the time only gets earlier every day. He wonders if Suguru is having nightmares again.

It only takes a few weeks for it to feel like it’s crushing Tetsurou and he wakes before Suguru one morning. Suguru is twitching in his bed, grasping tightly at the sheets. Tetsurou quietly climbs in beside him and runs a soothing hand through brown hair; it’s nice to see how quickly Suguru relaxes under his touch.

Suguru’s eyes open a little, everything is hazy. Except for Tetsurou. He breaks through it like the sun through dark clouds on a rainy day. Suguru says nothing. He accepts the comforting hand—he accepts Tetsurou curled up against him and they both doze off peacefully.

They wake up to Suguru’s alarm in a tangle of limbs. They say nothing and Tetsurou quietly returns to his room, while Suguru heads into the bathroom.

Even when they head downstairs for breakfast, they share no words. Kenma arrives at the door at the same time as normal, they pull on their shoes and Nobuo drives them to school—Suguru sits in the front, and Tetsurou joins Kenma in the back. Nobuo makes conversation, but there’s a tense atmosphere settled over the car and Tetsurou finds it easier to distract himself with the game Kenma’s playing.

Tetsurou wonders how different things might be if he hadn’t tried to soothe Suguru’s worries with his lips. If he’d listened, and held Suguru like he normally would. When they reach the school, they bid Nobuo goodbye and Suguru heads off to meet his friends. Tetsurou can’t help but sigh and Kenma gives him a side-ways glance but he refrains from saying anything.

“Suguru, have you decided on a high school?”

“No,” Suguru drags his eyes away from Tetsurou, who’s having lunch with Kenma and someone else who he doesn’t know. Numai’s smiling and Suguru huffs softly, “It’s too soon to think about that.”

“We should go to Nohebi together,” Suguru’s brows raise. He hasn’t thought about that. He remembered Numai mentioning moving to Ota City for his mom’s job—it’ll put him a good distance away from Nerima and away from Tetsurou. Tetsurou who fills his every thought, who makes his chest warm and achy, “Do you want to stay here?”

It’s a hard question for Suguru to answer and he can only shrug. He doesn’t want to stay, it means being close to Masashi—his father—his father who doesn’t want him. Who hadn’t bothered to search for him since Suguru walked out; it’s been three long years and he’s sick of being haunted by those memories, “I’ll apply for Nohebi.”

“Good!” Suguru smiles and when he glances over his shoulder again, Tetsurou is already gone.

Tetsurou hadn’t meant to see Suguru without his shirt. It was natural to walk into the bathroom at this time, ready to shower, he hadn’t known Suguru was there. Usually, the door would be locked and now he doesn’t know where to look. The scars marking Suguru’s skin are horrifying, a reminder of what Masashi did to him, Tetsurou stares at the one on Suguru’s side—it’s tempting him to reach out, to smooth a finger over the skin—“What the hell?!”

Suguru’s voice snaps Tetsurou out of his daze and he looks away, “I’m sorry. The door was open, I didn’t think anyone would be in here.”

“Whatever,” Suguru pulls his shirt on then pushes past Tetsurou, “Don’t ever tell anyone about this.”

“I wouldn’t!” Suguru huffs and returns to his room, the door slamming behind him. Tetsurou takes a deep breath. He knows that their relationship hasn’t been the same, he wishes it hadn’t changed. Being at different junior high-schools meant that they were opponents—rivals, and Tetsurou didn’t like it. He didn’t like knowing that Suguru was getting ready to head off to Ota City and attend Nohebi Academy, that he’d be living in the dorms.

An hour on the train wasn’t much, Tetsurou would remind himself, but somehow it felt like there was about be an ocean between them. It’s hard having a short ten minutes between them, it’s hard meeting on opposite sides of the net. Suguru takes advantage of how distracted Tetsurou can be when they’re face-to-face. Tetsurou is just glad that he still has Kenma by his side, that Kenma will be going to Nekoma with him—their promise still stands, that Kenma will help Tetsurou go to nationals.

It’s the only thing he can look forward to now. Now that Suguru was beyond his reach and going further away.

Chapter Text

It’s far too strange for Tetsurou to stand on the opposite side of the net to Suguru—he’d been hoping to avoid their teams meeting in an official match. He’d heard how good the team is, everyone talks about how amazing the libero is, but Tetsurou can’t take his eyes off Suguru.

He knows he needs to focus on the match. But Suguru is baiting him on with snide words and they drop the first set by five points, “Stop being a snake,” He mutters through the net, “It’s not like you.”

“Are you talking to me, Rooster Hair?”

Tetsurou freezes. Suguru is smirking—the name has struck a chord and Tetsurou has to take a deep breath. He’s heard it before, it isn’t new. But coming from Suguru, with that venomous smirk, hurts deep in his veins. He decides that he doesn’t like being Suguru’s opponent, it had been better when they were on the same team.

They end up losing, and it’s clear to the entire team that Tetsurou had been distracted. He doesn’t care about running laps, it helps him forget what Suguru had said. His excuse is just having an off day, Kenma raises a brow at him but there are no questions, the captain tells him to shake it off and soon. Before an official game rolls around.

Kenma doesn’t bring up the game on the journey home and Tetsurou is grateful. They both have homework and say goodbye before heading into different houses. Nobuo is in the kitchen with Suguru and it makes Tetsurou smile—Suguru looks happy to be there, helping to prepare the food for dinner. Tetsurou drops his book bag onto the sofa and joins them.

It’s pleasant, and there are no nasty jibes from Suguru. There’s not even a single bad word. It's like their rivalry doesn't exist and dinner is peaceful.

After they've finished eating and cleaned up, they both retire upstairs. Suguru stops at his bedroom door and Tetsurou looks at him, "You know, you're only taller than me because of your stupid hair."

"Huh?" Tetsurou touches his hair and Suguru grins then vanishes into his room. Tetsurou is left staring at him and it takes him a moment to walk into his room. He sits at the desk and starts going through his homework.

It’s hard to focus, he can’t stop thinking about Suguru.

Weeks pass and nothing changes. Sometimes if Tetsurou gets up to use the bathroom in the night, he hears Suguru whimpering softly and he’ll join him in bed. They never look at each other when they wake to Suguru’s alarm, and Suguru never mentions it.

He’s always snide and snarky on the court, he throws insults Tetsurou’s way whenever their teams meet. Tetsurou has stopped letting affect his play, he retorts back and pretends it doesn’t sting—Tetsurou’s team are doing better in the overall head-to-head, and Suguru’s team has only beaten them twice in official matches, it’s good.

They’re still normal at home, around Nobuo, for his sake. Tetsurou is aware that Suguru is going to apply for Nohebi Academy, he’d overheard the conversation between Suguru and Nobuo, about Suguru moving. Tetsurou is scared, Suguru isn’t just putting a metaphorical distance between them, when he moves, it’ll be physical too—as if he’s trying to run away from Tetsurou.

They’re getting older quicker (it feels that way) and when Tetsurou goes to Nekoma, he’ll be going alone. It will take a full year before Kenma follows him like he’d promised. The promise Suguru had broke.

It feels too much.

He returns home late after volleyball practice, eats with his father (Suguru already ate, Nobuo said) and when he retires upstairs for the night, he stops at his door. Tetsurou doesn’t know what’s preventing him from going in, but he can’t even place his hand on the door handle. It’s easier for him to quietly let himself into Suguru’s room.

Suguru is studying and he looks up to meet Tetsurou’s eyes. He scoffs softly but doesn’t say anything and Tetsurou quietly sits on the bed. The silence of the room isn’t uncomfortable, and Tetsurou thinks it should be, they don’t act like friends any longer, it’s different now. But it feels fine, it’s soothing.

Then Suguru’s pen stops scratching against the paper, the room plunges into total silence and Tetsurou holds his breath, waiting. Suguru turns in his chair and narrows his eyes, “Did you want something Kuroo?”

That stings more than being called rooster head, it sounds strange to hear Suguru avoid using his given name. There’s the distance again and Tetsurou stands, “It was nothing,” He moves across the room quickly, stopping momentarily in the doorway, “Goodnight Daishou.” It slips from his lips and he retreats to his room, closing the door a little too loudly. Tetsurou feels sick, the name had made him feel that way, it had been heavy in his mouth, syllables he isn’t used to...A name he doesn’t know. Yet he’d let it come, forced it out like a dam breaking.

He doesn’t know how he’s supposed to keep up this charade.

Tetsurou tosses and turns at night. He’s glad it’s a Friday night, he’s not sure how he’d make it to school tomorrow in this state. It’s almost four am, he should be asleep by now, he should have been able to chase away the thoughts of Suguru.

He can’t.

The silence in the air is cracked by soft sobs and Tetsurou sits up in bed, he’s otherwise unmoving, unwilling to help Suguru after their conversation. Then he hears his father’s soft voice and he slowly relaxes into the mattress—Tetsurou can’t make out Nobuo’s hushed words, but he hears Suguru’s sobs clearly, and a broken: he hates me. Tetsurou feels sick again. He can’t know for sure that Suguru is talking about him, but it feels that way and it sinks through his skin, to his bones.

He doesn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

Tetsurou gets a shower once dawn breaks. It helps to refresh him for the day and he glances at Suguru’s door on the way to his room; it’s still open a crack and Tetsurou can see Suguru curled around his comforter. Nobuo is already gone. Tetsurou considers himself, he stares at Suguru who’s unmoving and swallows. It’d be easy to walk in there and join Suguru, but Tetsurou doesn’t—he returns to his room and quietly shuts the door.

The weekends are always a little rough, there’s a tension in the air and Tetsurou is sure his father is just ignoring it. He’s grateful when Monday comes, Suguru goes for the bus and Tetsurou heads to school with Kenma (they’re going in the same direction anyway). It’s the same routine.

Tetsurou still can’t shake Suguru’s words.

He hears them at night, even when Suguru doesn’t wake after a nightmare. He hears them when he’s studying, or doing homework. Tetsurou hears them at school when Suguru is nowhere near him.

He puts more effort into volleyball and it begins to feel better when they win. When Suguru loses and looks frustrated, or heat-broken, it doesn’t hit Tetsurou the same any more. He smirks across the court at Suguru. It’s easier.

When Kenma finally joins Tetsurou’s junior high, they win more. Tetsurou is growing and it helps to master his blocks, he reads people better too and he always grins at Suguru whenever he stops a spike. It starts to feel exhilarating.

Tetsurou doesn’t miss Suguru as much anymore. He’s prepared for Suguru moving across Tokyo to attend Nohebi, it doesn’t bother him if it’s mentioned in conversation. Suguru’s found where he wants to be, with Numai and new friends he’s making at his school, most of which are all going to Nohebi with him.

(It bothers Tetsurou a lot.)

Kenma notices. Of course he does, “Are you okay with this?”

Tetsurou stops wiping his face and looks to Kenma, whos already finished changing and is playing on his DS as usual. Tetsurou knows what he means, so he laughs it off and grins, “It’s what that snake deserves.”

“If you say so.” Kenma doesn’t look up, he doesn’t need to, Tetsurou knows he doesn’t believe a word of it.

Tetsurou brushes it off and he finishes changing. They head home together and Kenma waves him off at their gates. Suguru is curled up on the couch when Tetsurou finally makes his way in. He says nothing and grabs a drink from the kitchen, “Hey dad. Practice was great! I got praised for doing the best.”

“That’s great to hear.” Nobuo smiles. Tetsurou throws his dirty clothes in the laundry then sits down for a bite to eat. Suguru hasn’t moved from the couch, Tetsurou doesn’t expect him to and it seems like Nobuo doesn’t either. After eating and cleaning up, Tetsurou takes his book-bag upstairs with him.

School pushes Kuroo further. He pushes back by acing all of his classes and shining on the volleyball court. Sometimes he thinks Daishou is at breaking point, but he doesn’t hear any complaints; not even in the night, when Nobuo has to sooth Daishou back to sleep. There’s not a mention of who Daishou thinks hates him and Kuroo still hasn’t forgotten about it.

Kuroo is accepted into Nekoma and Daishou is accepted into Nohebi. Kuroo’s father has already said how proud he is of both of them. He leaves to take Daishou all the way to Ota city and help him get settled into his dorms. Kuroo is glad he doesn’t have anything to move, he spends the day at Kenma’s and plays video games.

They don’t talk, and Kuroo knows that Kenma wants to say something, it’s easy enough to tell. He puts down the controller with a sigh, “Daishou is gone. There’s only us.”

“I know.”

Kuroo looks at Kenma, he’s put down his controller too and the game is forgotten. “Are you coming to Nekoma?”

“Probably. You’d be hopeless there without me anyway.”

“That’s big talk!”

Kenma nods. There’s a pause and Kuroo wonders what Kenma is thinking—what words he’s considering. It feels like forever, but Kenma finally speaks again, “You’ve always said you needed a setter like me. I don’t love playing volleyball, but it’s nice. We’ll face off against Daishou again.” like last time, Kuroo thinks Kenma leaves it unspoken on purpose, like dragging up the past will make everything feel worse. “Kuro, you don’t have to say it. I know you still like him. I know it hurts that you’re opponents now, things had been so simple when we were kids.”

Kenma is too damn smart. Kuroo sighs and nods, “I wish we could go back.”

Kuroo is surprised to see Yaku at Nekoma. He remembers him from Daishou’s junior high team, how he was always the biggest obstacle. They don’t get along at first, they’re always competing and their personalities clash—until their agreement on wanting to dominate at nationals, then they start getting along. They’re a force to be reckoned with on the court.

They start studying together and Kuroo finally decides to ask the one thing plaguing his mind. “Why didn’t you go to Nohebi too? I remember you were on Daishou’s team.”

“I wanted to stay close to home. I wouldn’t want my parents to relocate for me, I remember Numai saying his parents were moving for work, which is why he was going there. Maybe it was the same for Daishou too?”

Kuroo only hums. He drops the subject and they finish up for the night. Yaku returns to his dorm and Kuroo takes the bus home. He thinks about what Yaku said, how far away from the truth it is—he’s old enough to understand now, he knows Daishou moved to get away from him. It’s already been two months, there’s no sign of Daishou returning. No mention that he’d be home for the winter holidays either.

He gets in, slips off his shoes and puts his things away then helps his father with cooking dinner. He’s still thinking about Daishou, when his father’s voice cuts through his thoughts, “Tetsu, would you like to talk about it?”

Nobuo’s voice surprises him, and he looks over his shoulder. His father looks a little worn, Kuroo forgets what he’s been through—late nights of calming Daishou, taking in someone else's son...Dealing with the two of them silently feuding, “I’m sorry dad. It’s my fault that Daishou is gone.”

“Why on Earth would you say that?”

“I pushed him away. He needed us, both of us and I let his stupid words get to me and I pushed back. I made him hate me, it was easier.” Tetsu, comes Nobuo’s soft mutter and he pulls Kuroo into a hug, “I should have told him—”

“It’s okay. Tetsurou, I promise it’s okay, Suguru didn’t move because of anything you did. He wanted to get away from Masashi. It wasn’t you.” Kuroo sobs into Nobuo’s chest. His father holds him tightly and waits for him to let it all out.

It takes some time, but Kuroo finally relaxes in Nobuo’s arms. Nobuo quietly sits him down and finishes dinner alone—Kuroo mostly picks at his food, but he isn’t forced into eating everything on his plate. When he quietly heads upstairs, Nobuo squeezes him close one last time. Kuroo whispers, “It’s all my fault—” There’s more to it, Nobuo doesn’t hear and Kuroo slumps upstairs and quietly curls up in bed, the words running through his head. Mom left, and Suguru left. It’s my fault.

Kuroo buries his pain in volleyball, it’s easier that way. He sees the schedule and the teams they’re setting up practice games with, Nohebi is far down on the list. He’s not sure if Naoi will even consider Nohebi as a worthy opponent. Nekomata seems to think they are though and he marks them with a sticker.

It takes a month for Nekoma to face-off against Nohebi, and it’s only a practice match. Kuroo has grown and he stands a head above Daishou, he can’t help but smirk, “Do you really think hair counts for height?” Daishou glares and Kuroo laughs. Daishou’s hair has changed, it looks longer but he’s got half of it gelled up. It doesn’t change their height difference, there’s no pretending that Kuroo is taller, it’s obvious enough, “I see you’re trying to compensate.”

Daishou looks like he’s about to punch Kuroo, but Kuroo retreats, going to join his team where they’re warming up. Daishou returns to his own team, his jaw clenched; he’s determined, he wants to push his team to victory, no matter what.

Nekoma easily picks up the win. Kuroo feels conflicted because he sees the disappointment in Daishou’s face—Kuroo thought he’d buried those feelings long ago, he pushes them away and celebrates with his team. It’s hard to shake everything off and his heart aches.

Daishou returns to Nohebi, his head hanging low. He’s chewing aimlessly at the inside of his cheek, it doesn’t help to dispel the unworthy feeling simmering in his chest. Takachiho puts an arm around him and Daishou lets himself fall into it. He’s used to being hugged by Novuo or Kuroo, this is different—it doesn’t feel the same, it feels like he’s a thousand miles from home.

It was only a practice match, but the loss weighs heavy on his shoulders, he wishes he never got picked by Oumizu had picked anyone else in his place. Maybe they could have won—maybe Daishou wouldn’t be bringing the team down.

Maybe he wouldn’t have seen Kuroo smiling, laughing with his teammates without a care in the world.

Daishou doesn’t know how he’ll find a way to manage this for the next three years. It’s already exhausting to pretend he hates Kuroo—to keep up his snide remarks and stupidly immature jibes. Sometimes, he remembers laying in Kuroo’s bed, awake from a nightmare and Kuroo kissing him—his first and only kiss.

Daishou remembers the warmth bloom in his chest. Now it’s much more, it’s a tree, fast and outgrowing his entire body. He hides away from it—pretends it doesn’t exist and hopes it will fade with the distance, aided along by time. He’s broken beyond repair, wounded and hurt—he can’t drag Kuroo into his mess.

Despite how much he loves Kuroo, they need to be rivals now...Daishou needs to hate him.

Chapter Text

Daishou likes his friends and he enjoys being at Nohebi. He still misses Kuroo, but he pretends he doesn’t. It gets harder as the days pass—it’s worse when their teams meet for a match, he masks it all by insulting Kuroo and pushing him further away.

Numai is a good roommate. He adjusted quickly to Daishou’s nightmares, and sometimes it’s like living with Kuroo again. (But he isn’t. Daishou doesn’t even plan on going back there.) He keeps distracted with volleyball, studying and the part-time job he’d found, Daishou doesn’t want Nobuo worrying about him.

Volleyball is fun. (He misses Kuroo on his team). Nohebi practice every other day and have a few practice matches with some nearby schools. So far, they’ve only been beaten by Fukurodani and Nekoma, but they’re improving, Daishou can feel it in his bones. He wants to be able to beat Kuroo the next time they meet.

As soon he makes it through his exams. If there’s one thing he won’t be beaten in, it’s his grades. Nohebi have their first official match against Nekoma soon, they’d easily gotten past the first two teams, but Daishou knows what to expect from Nekoma and how they will be one of their toughest battles ahead.

“You really don’t like that middle blocker from Nekoma, do you?”

“Huh? No. He’s a pesky cat, we were in the same elementary school, he was still just as annoying back then.” It hurts, but Daishou needs to say it and it rolls off his tongue easily. “I’d rather not come face to face with him again without a game plan.”

“Yeah. I thought I’d heard you complaining about him before. But I do see what you mean.” Daishou hums, waiting for Miyata to elaborate. “Maybe if we could keep him off the court, things would be easier. I could accidentally hurt him—”

“No. We can’t play that dirty, we’re already under people’s eyes as it is. It needs to be smarter.”

Miyata huffs and folds his arms. He looks like he’s contemplating himself and Daishou braces for what’s to come. “Your insults don’t seem to affect him. Which means it comes down to someone else, maybe there’s something we could use against him.” Daishou knows what he could say, the one thing that would get deep under Kuroo’s skin—but he won’t sink that low. He’d never bring Kuroo’s mom into any conversation, he’s tuned out of the conversation and quickly looks at Miyata. “—You’ve known him for a long time. Do you remember what he was like in elementary school?”

“No.” He does—he remembers everything. Daishou remembers meeting Kuroo when he was eight, he remembers feeling blown away by his volleyball skill. He remembers being ten, and the feeling of Kuroo’s lips on his own, soft and delicate. “I don’t think any of that would matter anyway. We were kids, we all did stupid things.”

“I suppose you’re right. I’ll find something though, and it will trip him up.

Daishou doesn’t expect to see Kuroo in the hallway. Miyata is talking to him and Daishou quietly approaches, he wonders if Miyata even found anything out, if he has a way to put Kuroo off his game. As he gets closer, he picks up little bits from Miyata’s less than quiet voice. “—t’s true then. You really are lacking a mommy dearest.” Daishou can hear the smirk in his voice. Anger flashes through him and he rushes over. This isn’t right. He spins Miyata around and punches him as hard as possible—his hand stings at the contact and Miyata drops to the floor, his nose bloody, “What the fuck?!”

“Get lost.” Daishou hisses; Miyata scurries to his feet and holds his hand to his nose, then he runs. Daishou sighs and turns to Kuroo. His eyes are wet, tears swimming along the lash line, “Tetsu—”

“How could you?”

Kuroo’s voice is cold and Daishou steps back. “I didn’t—I would never stoop that low.”

“Liar!” Daishou almost crumbles to his knees. A tear drops down Kuroo’s cheek and he sniffs, “I always knew you were a snake, Suguru. I didn’t realise how bad it had got.” Kuroo storms off towards the bathroom. Daishou watches another tear slide down his face and it makes Daishou collapse to the floor, his legs unsteady—it makes him feel sick, because of what’s been said...Because Kuroo believes he’d be that cold, that he’d ever tell anyone about Kuroo’s mom.

“If Daishou is the one who mentioned it, why would he punch that guy?”

It makes sense. But Kuroo is furious, and ashamed, he thinks he’s too old to be crying about this—he shouldn’t have been crying in front of Daishou. “I don’t know! He must be messing with my head.”

“You don’t believe that.”

“Does it matter what I believe?” Kuroo folds his arms and huffs softly. He knows Yaku has a point, but it’s hard to trust in anything when it comes to Daishou. “It’s Daishou, I don’t trust him.” He has to say it out loud—he has to—it’s not only to convince Yaku, but it’s also so he can convince himself too. But he still holds a little semblance of hope that Daishou—that his precious, soft Suguru, is deep in there somewhere, waiting for someone to have faith in him. Kuroo wants to provide that.

When Nekoma lose the game, it’s hard for him to think the same. Daishou celebrates with his team, he’s smiling and laughing, it doesn’t look like he cares. He doesn’t even glance in Kuroo’s direction. Kuroo doesn’t know why it bothers him so much, Daishou had come to his aid—risked punishment for punching another student—but now he’s off in his own world again.

A world that feels a thousand miles away from Kuroo.

Nohebi end up getting beat by Fukurodani. Daishou feels frustrated. He’s not even a full-time regular yet, but the coach trusts in him and Numai to get the job done—they’ve failed. The upperclassmen look just as frustrated. It had been a long three sets, which is better than getting beat in two straight sets, like they would have at the beginning of the year.

Winter break arrives soon after. Daishou has already told Nobuo that he’s staying on campus during the holiday to finish up some homework and cram in extra studying. He’s lying—he knows he doesn’t need to. All his homework is finished, usually the day he gets it, and there are no exams coming up any time soon.

Daishou just doesn’t want to see Kuroo’s face—he doesn’t want to look at him and remember what little trust Kuroo had left in him. Nobuo hasn’t mentioned it, so he assumes Kuroo kept it to himself (for whatever reason) and Daishou is grateful for that much.

He’s bored out of his mind and it’s only the second day.

“Why don’t you come to mine?” Numai’s voice startles Daishou a little. He stares at him for a moment, considering the offer. “My mom always makes too much, you’d be a welcome sight. It beats staying here by yourself.”

Daishou is certain he hears an unspoken, alone with your nightmares. It does scare him, but he wants to start relying on himself more, he wants to beat this and prove that he’s stronger—prove to Masashi that he no longer has a hold on him. Daishou doesn’t answer Numai and the silence between them stretches.

Numai sighs softly. He doesn’t sound annoyed and Daishou relaxes a little. “You don’t have to come. I thought it might be nice.”

“Yeah.” Daishou is sick of being hung up on Kuroo—of what Kuroo thinks of him. Of the times Kuroo’s warmth—his touch—had kept Daishou safe at night; of the way their hands always found each other, like magnets pulling together. Of being in a dark room and kissing away the pain—but not the same soft kiss that Kuroo had peppered him when they were ten. It’s more, sometimes he’s sure Kuroo’s hands are tangled in his hair, holding him close and ground him—it’s more than their lips touching, it’s their tongues meeting. (Daishou had seen it enough on tv to get it in his head.)

It’s a puzzle, completed.

“Okay! My mom’s place isn’t far on the train.” Daishou wonders why Numai hadn’t decided to live at home. “I’ll let her know to expect both of us.”


Numai’s hand rests on Daishou’s shoulder and he smiles softly, “I know it sucks that we lost. But it’s a team effort, don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“Yeah. I know. It’s fine.” Daishou smiles back—he wasn’t thinking about their loss, or the Fukurodani match, the only thing on his mind is Kuroo. He can’t forget how sad he’d looked when Miyata had brought up his mom. It kills Daishou, because he knows he’d feel the same if someone had mentioned his parents.

He tries to tell himself that it’s fine. That Kuroo isn’t going to be holding a grudge over something Daishou hadn’t even done.

Daishou joins Numai. They enjoy fried chicken with Numai’s family and Daishou grows a little attached to Numai’s younger sister, who enjoys painting his nails a different colour every week. He’s a little disappointed when they have to return to the dorms at Nohebi—but Numai had been right, it was only a short ride on the train, he could always visit again.

When they’re back in the safety of their dorm-room, Numai gently claps Daishou on the back and grins, “Yuki loved you! I think she’ll be trying to adopt you.”

“She’s nice. You’re lucky to have such a wonderful family.”

“Suguru, I hadn’t meant—”

“No! Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound like I was bringing the mood down. I really enjoyed myself. Just…” Daishou takes a breath and Numai’s brows raise. “Promise me you’ll cherish it.”

“Of course. You’re welcome back with me any time. Yuki will love to have you there and I think my mom would too. She always wanted to have more children.”


Numai smiles softly. Daishou suddenly realises how close they’re stood together, and Numai’s hand is still at his back—he can’t help but feel a little flustered. The only other person to be this close to him was Kuroo, and that had always felt normal, as normal as climbing out of bed in the morning. Kuroo was his awakening—the realisation of Daishou’s feelings sunk in, it played out in front of him like a movie. The moments he spent with Kuroo, the times Daishou had pushed him away and pretended they were enemies, that they didn’t know each other. Oh. It was much worse.

He loves Kuroo.

Daishou is so spaced out, thinking about it, he doesn’t notice Numai stepping closer. He doesn’t realise the hand has moved to his face. Daishou jolts back when lips press against his own—it’s like being burned by ice, and he stares at Numai, questioning.

“Sorry.” Numai steps back. His hands ball into his pockets and he glances away from Daishou. “D-don’t tell anyone.”

“Kazuma. What was that?”

“I like you. I think you’re a good person Suguru, and you deserve to be happy.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t—”

“Yeah. I figured, you don’t need to tell me.” Numai faces Daishou again and he chuckles, “You like Kuroo. You always have, haven’t you?”

“I—” Daishou thinks about lying. About saying that he hates Kuroo, that they’re rivals and enemies. But he’s known Numai longer than he’s known Kuroo. “I do.” There’s no point faking it and Numai nods. He looks a little sad, but he shrugs off Daishou and drops down onto his bed—Daishou feels a little lighter, telling someone else how he feels.

Maybe one day, he’ll be brave enough to tell Kuroo too.

Nohebi meets Nekoma again at the competition and end up losing. It’s hard, but Daishou is glad to see Kuroo can find enjoyment out of it. It’s harder for the Nohebi third-year’s, who are graduating soon. Daishou tries to help with comforting them and they agree to go out for a meal together after drilling in some last-minute practices once they return.

Daishou drags behind his team (he always does) and someone grabs his arm, stopping him from going further. He spins, ready to hit whoever has a problem with him, he’s surprised to see Kuroo there. He looks sad, like Nekoma are the ones who just got beat.

“What do you want Kuroo?”

Kuroo drops Daishous arms and folds his over his chest. “My dad was upset you didn’t come home during winter. Will you be back for the summer?”

“I don’t think so. I think we’ll be running practice drills and we have to get ready for the new first-year’s.”

“Bullshit.” Kuroo’s voice surprises Daishou and he steps back, almost expecting Kuroo to hit him. “I know how a team works. I’m on one. You’re avoiding me.”

“You don’t like me, why would I want to be around you?”

“When have I ever said that? It’s not about me, it’s for my dad. He misses you. Could you at least call? Everything he’s done—”

“I know what he’s done for me—” Daishou’s voice is a hiss. He glares at Kuroo. “You don’t need to tell me, I was there.”

“Then act like it.”

“Fuck you, Tetsu.” Daishou storms away. Hiroo is waiting for him and doesn’t say anything. They board the bus together and the ride back to Nohebi is silent. It’s a long drive, Daishou stays awake for all of it, he’s still thinking about what Kuroo said.

Before going to bed, he takes his phone down to the common room at the end of the hall—it’s the quietest place, and most of the dorm are asleep by now, so it’s deserted. He doesn’t phone Nobuo, or Kuroo. He dials Masashi’s number.

There’s a long wait and there’s a small part of Daishou hoping that an answer won’t come. ”Hello?” Of course it does. But he’s the one making this call, he’s prepared himself for hearing that familiar voice.

“It’s Suguru.” There’s some fumbling and a sharp inhale. “I wanted to let you know I moved. I’m in high school now, I wouldn’t expect you to know that. And I wanted to tell you—” He pauses, this is the hardest part. Masashi isn’t speaking though, he’s breathing and clearly waiting for what Daishou is about to say. “I’m gay.”

There’s no reply. Masashi starts coughing, like it’s the biggest shock of his life. Daishou has to hang up, he’s not sure if he could face a reply anyway. It’s just another reason Masashi has to hate him—to pretend they’re not related. Daishou collapses onto one of the sofas and takes a few deep breaths. He won’t lie to himself and say that Kuroo is his only interest, looking back on it, he’d always found the boys on his team attractive. And if Daishou wasn’t hopelessly in love with Kuroo, he could have happily dated Numai—it’s not fair to either one of them to pretend that everything’s normal.

It takes that thought to finally call Nobuo. He answers a lot quicker than Masashi had. “Suguru! It’s wonderful to hear from you. How are you?”

“I’m okay. Everything’s good here. I’m sorry I wasn’t home during the winter holidays, I was with a friend.”

”Good. I was worried you’d be alone. I know why you left and you never have to force yourself to come back. Not even for me, okay?”

“Yeah, okay. It’s nice to hear your voice though. Are you doing well?”

”Of course! I still have a spring in my step. Tetsu spoke to you, didn’t he?”

Daishou nods. He finds it funny how Nobuo can pick up on that. He knows what Kuroo is like. “Yeah—” Daishou realises Nobuo can’t see him. It’s silly really, he wishes it was easy to return to Nerima. But it’s not—Masashi is there. Kuroo is there and Daishou can’t get that close, knowing how he feels. “Nobuo, I wanted to tell you something while I’m on the phone. I’m gay.”

There’s a soft sigh, it sounds like relief. ”I thought that was about to be something bad! I’m happy you felt comfortable telling me that. You must be tired, look at the time!” Daishou does. It’s late, he should sleep. He’s got a study group tomorrow morning, ”I’ll let you get going. Take care of yourself Suguru and make sure to stay in touch. I’m so proud of you.” Daishou sniffs softly. It’s much more than anything his own father has ever told him. He’s glad Nobuo has been in his life and has supported him at every moment. ”Goodnight. Rest well.”

“Goodnight. Thank you, Nobuo. For everything.” There’s a soft chuckle in response and Daishou smiles. They end the call and he quietly returns to his room. He feels like a feather, light and free.

He sleeps peacefully for the whole night.

Chapter Text

Kuroo hadn’t been surprised when Daishou didn’t return during the spring, before second-year begins. But his dad seems happy and there are no complaints. Kenma joins Nekoma and the first practice together syncs perfectly—they still have a rhythm, Kuroo’s been practising with him when they’re not at school. And Kenma looks happy, he fits into the team easily and the others are quick to take him under their wing.

It isn’t just his on-court abilities either. His planning impresses everyone, including the coaches, and practices run smoothly with Kenma—he knows how to make the most of everyone on the team. Kuroo and Yaku are still a fearsome duo, if a ball makes it through Kuroo’s block, Yaku is always there waiting to receive.

It’s nice.

He’s having fun. He loves volleyball. Winning is exhilarating, even against Nohebi and he hasn’t really spoken to Daishou since he told him to call Nobuo. There’s an occasional insult at each other before a match and sometimes Daishou whispers one low under his breath during an official game.

It only makes Kuroo play harder. Nekoma has to adjust to the new change in Nohebi’s line-up. The new libero is almost as good as Yaku and Kuroo keeps an eye on him. He watches games in his spare time too (it’s not to see Daishou) and makes notes on how each of them act.

The one person who gets riled up by the insults is Yamamoto, but usually, Kuroo can keep him contained, and he feels better when he can score against them, it always boosts his morale. Kenma always knows when to send a toss his way.

They make it to nationals but get beat in the second round by Fukurodani. It had been an unlucky draw. Their new setter brings the best out in Bokuto, who’s starting to become a real star—Kuroo has already heard people whispering that he’ll be an ace soon enough.

Even after they lose, they’re still training and practising. Fukurodani makes it to the quarter-finals, where they get beat, and since their schools are close, it’s easier to have full practice matches against them. It gives a chance for Nekoma to try out different rotations, and to prepare for the third-year’s graduating. Kuroo is grateful when the mantle of captain passes to him. He swears to do it proudly and to take them to nationals again—hopefully, make it further (and maybe win).

He’s well aware that Fukurodani will be a big challenge. Nohebi will most likely give them some hassle too, but that’s mostly down to their cheap tricks. Kuroo tries to forget his feelings for Daishou. The ones he’d realised back in junior-high, but now they seem more prominent than ever—any time Kuroo sees Daishou, his heart flutters and he doesn’t try to hide it around Kenma. He’s figured out that Kenma has (a bit of, Kenma insisted and Kuroo refused to believe it) a crush on Hinata and it’s much easier to tease him about that.

Kenma told Kuroo he’ll confess (if) when Kuroo ever gets his ass into gear and confesses to Daishou. Kuroo brushed it off. They face Nohebi again in the prelims and win. Kuroo sees Daishou crying with his team and he almost goes to comfort him, but he leaves it. Because he knows if it was him, he’d hate to have the person who beat him comforting him.

Kuroo sees the same girl he’d seen Daishou with before and smiles sadly—he’s already missed his chance, Daishou has a girlfriend. Someone who can make him laugh despite having just lost and it pains Kuroo. So when he hears someone insulting Nohebi, he takes a moment to get a little revenge and make sure he’s protecting Daishou.

But even as rivals, Kuroo is fearsomely protective of Daishou. But the teasing and insults between them are now as natural as the way their hands would meet when they were young and needed comfort. Kuroo makes sure that no-one else is actually insulting Daishou. He won’t stand for that.

It had been strange to only meet Daishou when their teams had faced off. Nekoma had won though and went on to nationals, Kuroo wouldn’t be seeing Daishou for a while, maybe not until they graduate. He can’t help but hope they’re applying for the same university, he hopes to make up with Daishou and, at the very least, become friends again.

They eventually get beat by Karasuno, their dreams of winning nationals are destroyed—Kuroo can only home to pass the torch onwards, that the next team might make it. He’s happy to see Fukurodani go on to win the whole competition and he celebrates with Bokuto, who’s become one of his best friends and has applied to the same universities as Kuroo has. So they can stick together.

Nekoma and Nohebi aren’t close enough to meet up for practice and it’s strange not to face Nohebi for one final practice match. It’s getting closer to graduation, and exams are taking up most of the time for the third-years. Kuroo is stuck at home doing extra studying.

There’s a knock at his front door. Kuroo’s dad is at work and he wonders who it could be. He opens the door to see a brash looking man, who seems far from sober. He baulks when the man pushes past him, “Where is he?!”

“Where’s who?”

The man huffs with a glare and stalks through the house. He returns with a frown when he’s done, “Suguru! What did you do? Where is he?”

“He’s at school! What do you mean? Who are you?”

“I’m his father.”

Kuroo’s face drops. He heard everything he needed to, he knows Masashi well enough to know that he’s far from perfect. His hands are already balling into fists, “You...You hurt Sugu.”

Sugu?” Masashi looks taken aback, then he nods like he’s suddenly aware. He almost looks sober for a second, “I see. You’re the boy who turned my son into a fag,” He swings for Kuroo, who easily dodges, “You little shit. He phoned me to tell me he’d moved. That’s all I got, a goddamn fucking phone call! And he told me—He told me that he likes boys! This didn’t happen before he met you. You changed him.”

“No. Suguru is better now, he’s better because he left you,” Kuroo takes a deep breath. He can’t handle this anymore. He’s gritting his teeth and his nails are digging into his palm from his closed fist, “You hurt him!” Kuroo swings. He makes contact with Masashi’s cheek and he drops to the floor with a thud. Kuroo quickly grabs the phone and dials Daishou’s number.

There’s a pause, the phone is ringing. Then—“Nobuo, is something wrong? Is Tetsu okay?”

Kuroo’s heart skips a beat. He feels short of breath, he’s grateful that it’s the first thing Daishou asks. All their animosity and childish insults feel a million years away, he’s content, “Suguru, it’s me.”

“Kuroo,” He can hear a hiss in Daishou’s voice and, the moment fades, he’s almost regretting making this call, “Is your dad okay?”

“He’s fine. It’s not about my dad. It’s yours.”

“My dad—” There’s a huff of air. Kuroo knows it well, Daishou is annoyed, “—Has Masashi finally drank himself into a ditch? I don’t care.”

Kuroo’s hand is buzzing, there are remnants of an ache, a reminder of what he’s done, “No. He showed up at my house. My dad’s at work—”

“What did he do? Are you okay?”

There’s a rush in Daishou’s voice. He almost sounds panicked, and Kuroo chuckles, “I punched him. I knocked him out, he’s just laying on the floor.”

“Tetsu,” The nickname is spoken softly and Kuroo melts to the carpet, he keeps one eye on Daishou’s father. Like Masashi’s bound to pop up at any minute, ”Why did you do that?”

“He hurt you! He had the gall to come here and call you a disgusting word, it might be better to talk in person. Can we meet up?”

”I can come over now. I want to make sure that Masashi isn’t dead, then I can kill him myself.” The phone hangs up before Kuroo can say anything else. He grips the phone tightly and watches Masashi.

It’s a while before the door opens—it feels like forever. At first, Kuroo is worried it’s his father returning until he sees Daishou, “Suguru…”

Daishou says nothing and leans down, pressing two fingers to Masashi’s neck. There’s a steady pulse under his fingers and he scoffs, “I’ll be your witness if you need it. He’s a drunk anyway, it’d be hard for police to believe him immediately,” Daishou approaches Kuroo and sits down, “What did he say?”

“He told me that I turned you gay,” Kuroo rolls his eyes, “I wasn’t going to try and tell him that it doesn’t work that way. Then he swung for me, which was easy to avoid, given his state.”

“Well, you’re certainly not the reason for turning me gay. But I guess he’s not completely off the mark. I was the one who phoned him to tell him that I was never going back. He never came for me when I first started living here anyway, he didn’t care. I figured it would just be another thing for him to drink away.”

Kuroo’s brows raise and he turns to face Daishou, the phone has fallen from his grip now. He wants to hold Daishou and remind him that there’s nothing to worry about, he’s safe here. Kuroo wants to kiss him, but there’s something sitting on his tongue and he needs to ask, “What do you mean? He’s not off the mark with what?”

“You made me realise it. When we were young, things always came more naturally. Whenever we’d hold hands or hug, or share a bed. It came easily, and when I was old enough to understand that none of that was normal—that you didn’t even do those things with Kozume, your best friend. I knew it was because I liked you, and there were a few other boys that I thought were attractive. I knew why, it all suddenly made sense to me and it’s your stupid fault.”

“Suguru,” Kuroo gently takes Daishou’s hands in his own, “Was that just then? Is that why we’re not really friends now? Do you hate me?”

“Of course not!” Daishou spits. He looks a little flustered and huffs, “Would I ask about you if I didn’t care? If I didn’t still—” Kuroo doesn’t need to hear it. He knows, he feels the same and he can’t stop himself from leaning over to press his lips against Daishou’s. Daishou relaxes against him instantly, his fingers curling around Kuroo’s hands, they bask in it for a moment and slowly pull away, “Bastard, you didn’t even let me say it!”

“I like you Suguru. I always have and I never really knew what it was, not until you were mean to me for the very first time. I didn’t admit it until we went our separate ways for high school.”

“Idiot, I like you too.” Daishou puffs out his cheeks and Kuroo chuckles. The door opens again, this time it is Kuroo’s dad and he smiles at them before turning to Masashi.

Masashi finally moves, he slowly sits up, looking a little dazed and confused. He frowns the moment he sees Daishou and is surprisingly quick to his feet. Daishou shuffles closer to Kuroo and before anything can happen, Nobuo stops it. Two police officers walk in and one of them places handcuffs on Masashi. Then they’re taking him away.

“What are you doing? That’s my son in there! You should be arresting that other boy!” His yells slowly fade off into the distance.

Nobuo sighs softly, “What a day. I’ll make us some drinks.” He heads into the kitchen and leaves Kuroo and Daishou alone.

Daishou collapses into Kuroo with a chuckle, “Talk about timing.”

“Did you phone him?”

“Yes, on my way over,” Daishou looks up at Kuroo, they share another kiss and get up. They walk into the kitchen, with their hands entwined and smile at Nobuo, “I hope it was okay to drop by.”

“You do have the unfortunate luck of Masashi being your father. I remember the first time we spoke about it. You were so scared and you said it too, I knew you’d be safe here. I hoped that you’d be happy too and when you never went back, I was relieved, you became like a second son,” He smiles at them both, “I hope that you two find happiness together, it’s about time you faced up to those feelings.”

“Dad! You knew?”

“Of course I did. I’m not blind.”

Daishou lets Kuroo’s hand fall from his own and gives Nobuo a deep bow, “I promise I’ll look after Tetsu.”

“I’m sure you will,” Nobuo chuckles, he gently pats Daishou’s shoulder and straightens him up, “That’s better. Now, take a seat, and I’ll make something to eat.” They sit down and Kuroo takes Daishou’s hand again. They don’t let go of each other until Nobuo serves their food.

It’s a hassle getting through police interviews and Suguru is exhausted by the time everything is over. He still has to study for the end of year exams and finds himself in Tetsurou’s bedroom, pouring over materials and listening as Tetsurou reads over his notes. Suguru gives a sigh and lays down over the kotetsu, “I’m bored. Can we do something else?”

“Don’t you want to go to the same university?”

“Yeah, it could be fun. I’d get to tease you all the time.”

Tetsurou smirks, he leans down and presses a soft kiss to Suguru’s temple, who turns a little red and pouts in response, “Maybe I’ll tease you. After all, you promise to look after me, right?”

“You—” Suguru sits up, red-faced, and before he can say anything else, Tetsurou kisses him. He relaxes under the touch then Tetsurou’s hands are holding his waist, and they fall to the floor together; the kiss is soft and sweet, it has Suguru gently grasping at Tetsurou’s shoulders. The kiss travels down and he gasps when Tetsurou’s lips touch his neck, his eyes slide shut.

Then the pressure is too much, Suguru is closed in and it’s hard to breathe. There’s a hand at his side, he can’t breathe, it’s too much—too fast, it’s familiar. There’s a snap and he shudders, “Sugu. Suguru!” Suguru gasps, his eyes quickly take in his surroundings, like everything is closing in on him, “Sugu, please look at me,” There’s a hand at Suguru’s face and he recoils away from it, his breathing comes fast and heavy. Tetsurou slowly moves and pulls him up into a hug, “You’re okay, I won’t hurt you. I’d never hurt you.”

“Tetsu—” Suguru sobs, holding onto Tetsurou. Why hadn’t he realised he was crying? What had changed? “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to apologise to me,” Tetsurou pulls away slightly and wipes away Suguru’s tears, “Just breathe, okay? Nice and slow,” He takes a breath, it’s shaky and he manages another, “That’s right, in and out,” It’s easy with Tetsurou talking to him, soft fingers tracing shapes over his cheeks, and he slowly settles down, “Do you wanna talk?”

“I—” There’s a break in Suguru’s voice and he sighs softly. Tetsurou isn’t rushing him, his fingers are now slowly carding through Suguru’s hair, “I don’t know. It just felt too much, it was like I was being crushed and then...I just remembered everything he did to me.”

“He’s gone now. I know it’s not going to be easy and I’m not expecting you to be better in a day, you just had to relive it all for the police. Come on,” Tetsurou moves slowly and they settle around the kotetsu, Suguru is holding tightly onto one of Tetsurou’s hand, “You’ll always be safe with me, I promise you.”

“I know,” Suguru looks up at Tetsurou, a small smile gracing his face, “Thank you,”

They sit there, allowing the silence of the room to swallow them. Tetsurou has been thinking for a while, he knows that his father supports them, that he’d always known—and now a lot of things make sense—but Tetsurou is old enough to know what people might think about them. Nobuo has always treated Suguru like a second son, and Tetsurou knows they’re not brothers, they’ve never acted that way but it worries him anyway. Tetsurou wonders what Suguru thinks about it all, and why Nobuo hadn’t brought it up—maybe he’s just being paranoid.

“Tetsu,” Suguru’s voice brings Tetsurou out of his thoughts with a jolt, “Lost in that big brain of yours?”

“Yeah, I was just thinking. How do you see my dad?”

“Well, he’s far better than my own, that’s for sure. He’s always been good to me and I respect him a lot, he didn’t need to put me up for so long. Seven years of my life and it was better than the eight I spent with my own dad. He’s been a great influence, and a great father figure, you’re lucky.”

“And that’s it?”

“Yeah. What are you worried about?”

“My dad has always treated you like another son, and he said he thought of you that way. I—” Tetsurou sighs softly and Suguru gently squeezes his hand, “I was worried people might think it’s weird that we’re dating.”

“I don’t think it’s weird, and your dad said he was happy for us, we can talk to him again in the morning. Okay?”

“Okay.” They finally return to studying and stay up late getting the information into their heads. When they both start yawning, they quietly get ready for bed. Tetsurou is a little surprised when Suguru walks back into the room, he’d expected him to go into the bedroom that Nobuo had set-up years ago, that Suguru had begun sleeping in before he left for Nohebi. There’s no futon in the room and Tetsurou isn’t certain they’ll both be able to fit into his bed.

The look on Suguru’s face tells Tetsurou that it’s worth trying. He’s upgraded to a small-double, to accommodate for his growth, but it’s still a bit of a squeeze with Suguru added. More of their bodies are pressed together than what had been when they were kids, Tetsurou remembers laying here and sharing his first kiss with Suguru.

He buries his head into the crook of Suguru’s neck and sighs softly, “Sorry for stealing your bed.”

“Don’t be.” Tetsurou mutters his reply, “I want you here.” Tetsurou is sure he hears Suguru mutter a very soft oh, but it’s hard to tell and he doesn’t want to move.

They fall asleep, curled around each other.

They sit down for breakfast in the morning and Tetsurou is itching with anticipation and nerves. A squeeze of his hand from Suguru calms him down and he takes a deep breath. “Dad. Are you really okay with Suguru and I dating? I know you see him as a son and I don’t want things to feel weird.”

Nobuo is silent after Tetsurou’s question and it begins to worry him, he squeezes Suguru’s hand and his father laughs, “Tetsu, I’ve spent a long time preparing myself for this to happen. After Suguru moved in, it was easy to accept him into the family because I knew that one day he would be, that you two would run off and get married if anyone tried to stop you. I know things weren’t easy for the two of you. Masashi always made it hard too, even when he wasn’t around Suguru, it was still affecting him and I was so scared that he’d come for both of you. Punish you for being friends. I’m glad he never did,” Nobuo smiles and turns to Suguru, “Suguru, you will always be like a son to me, even if Tetsu doesn’t get a ring on your finger.”

“D-dad!” Suguru giggles and Tetsurou feels himself turning red, “Just how long have you known?”

“Since you were eight, the first time Suguru came to our house. People always told me that I looked at your mother the same way.” Nobuo laughs and shakes his head, “I imagine it’s strange hearing that. Especially when you were both so young, but I think sometimes the universe has a funny way of working, and a funny way of bringing each other together.” They all share a smile. “I remember pulling Ieko’s braids and telling her I didn’t like her, I was surprised when she wanted to go out with me. But I grew up, the same way you both have.” He reaches for their hands and they both hold out a hand for him to take. Nobuo presses them together between his and smiles, “I want both of you to be happy, cherish what you have. I know I’ll never forget a single day I spent with Ieko.”


Tetsurou’s voice is soft and Nobuo pulls back with a shaky sigh, “You’ve got me feeling sentimental.”

Tetsurou smiles softly. He gets up and gives Nobuo a tight hug. “Thanks, dad. I love you.”

“I love you too.” He chuckles and he looks over at Suguru. “Both of you.” Suguru smiles and joins the hug. They enjoy it for a moment before Nobuo shakes them off and gets started on breakfast. Suguru happily takes Tetsurou’s hand, their fingers tangle—like they always should have, and they take a seat at the table again.