Squeak, thump, smack. The sounds of the gymnasium have long since become a soundtrack in Aran’s mind. They blend together seamlessly, and, adding his own breathing, he knows that no other mishmash of noise can quickly appease him.
He’s been practicing jump serves, thighs beginning to burn, and his right hand throbs a little. He’s lost count of how many he’s done so far, but the gym is clearing up, and he wants to get a neat number before he absolutely has to wrap up. After five more tries, Aran’s body signals that it has reached its limits for the night. All he wants, now, is to be ferried to his dorm room and into bed.
The showers are noisy, but nothing the pounding of the water over his head can’t dampen. While he’s getting dressed, his phone lights up. Apparently, something has woken up the text group he’s in with the Inarizaki guys.
Osamu is abusing emojis. Sending one onigiri after the other, ribbing Atsumu about some Shouyou Aran can vaguely remember. Suna is uncharacteristically quiet. Aran scrolls all the way to the beginning of that evening’s texts and finds the reason he has to wade through fifty messages from the Miya twins.
Kita Shinsuke: It’s harvesting season. You are welcome to come and prove your mettle at the farm.
Invitations from Kita don’t come often. He sends the guys reminders to keep healthy and not to overexert themselves. Aran, however, rarely gets them.
He sits down, puts the phone back in his bag, and wears his shoes. A weekend at the farm, huh? Kita probably wants to put them to work, and Aran has to get this jump serve perfected by the next match. It isn’t for another month, but he’s diligent. He just needs to put in the hours at practice. He’s had that mindset instilled in him by none other than Kita himself.
The walk home is quiet. Aran isn’t the kind to have music blasting in his ears, preferring to listen to the sounds of the city around him; cars speeding by, voices mingling. He misses the ruckus of his old teammates sometimes, their incessant need to make practice as wild as possible. The twins with their back and forth, Suna falling into their trap only to be annoyed by himself at the end of the day, and Kita, the sound of reason, breaking up their nonsensical arguments. However, Aran’s favorite thing was watching Kita follow his own ritual. Donning his gloves to clean up the lockers and toilets before he went home.
Aran used to like nothing more than helping Kita, follow in his movements, watch how he moved without hesitation, without laziness. Like every step and swipe were accounted for.
He smiles, remembering how he used to have the most maddening crush on Kita. He has once thought that copying Kita would make the guy notice him a little, see how Aran has always sort of flailed around him, his retorts making absolutely no sense to anyone.
But he didn’t.
Kita has never noticed Aran’s sweaty palms, or how his heart sounded like it might beat right out of his mouth. How Aran has wanted nothing but to thread his fingers through Kita’s fine hair, tilt his lovely face towards him, and kiss that unerring mouth.
Kita didn’t notice, and Aran very pointedly has since successfully squished the crush to the ground.
He’s in his room, now, pacing, feeling like the calm lake in his mind has been undulated by the memory of his impossible crush of past days. He can’t sit down and write the words: I can’t. I’ve got practice.
That would be lying, and Aran despised liars.
Kita Shinsuke: Are you coming, Aran?
It’s unfair how he, presuming it’s Aran alone, gets a private text. Now he definitely can’t lie and say no. He opens a different text message.
His coach responds in thirty minutes, tells Aran he’s free to take the weekend off, recover a little—his right hand has been bothering him more and more lately—and come back better than ever.
His duffel bag is at the bottom of his closet. He takes it out and fills it with essentials. He opens his bedside table and finds condoms and lube. He hasn’t had a reason to open this drawer in a long time, but presumptuously, he grabs both and stuffs them at the bottom of the bag.
Come weekend, Aran has his bus ticket in his hand and anticipation sitting nice and comfortable at the bottom of his stomach. He’s woken up with it and now it refuses to leave him alone. He gets on the bus and occupies himself by watching old volleyball games of the MSBY Black Jackals on his phone since they might play them soon, if the Jackals manage to beat the Schweiden Adlers in two weeks’ time.
After an hour or two, the bus exits the city, the scenery changing from metropolitan buildings and cars to rolling hills and wide expanses of greenery that Aran can’t stop watching. He abandons his phone and props his chin in the palm of his hand. He’s not seen Kita for over a year now. Has he grown any taller? Maybe his arms have grown a bit thicker.
He shakes his head, trying to avoid being directed down a dark, lonely tunnel plastered with Kita imageries.
He can’t spend even a minute lamenting the what ifs. Those feelings have been borne of close proximity and contact. Mostly hormones, really. Nobody who has ever looked at Kita was spared wayward daydreams of having the stern third year push them around.
The bus drops Aran off ten kilometers away from the farm, so he puts on his running shoes, takes off his jacket, and begins to jog lightly, the clear air fresh and nice, enjoying how every inhale feels purifying, expanding his lungs until all his little pesky thoughts begin to evaporate. It’s hardly difficult to cover this much distance, but he’s still sweating, breaths coming out in tiny pants when he’s at the perimeters welcoming him into Kita Farm.
He’s bent over, hands resting on his knees, sweat trailing down his back and coating his neck when he feels the pressure of someone’s eyes on a very specific part of him. He turns around and finds none other than Kita Shinsuke, the first and only crush Aran has ever had, staring at his ass.
He swallows back the thick yearning, which has never had any consideration for his sanity.
“Welcome, Aran-kun.” Kita swipes off his hat, dark eyes set on Aran like they have all the time to stand there and watch one another.
The sun loves Kita, shines down on him adoringly, painting his light hair in its rays. Aran’s hands are sweatier than ever, his mouth drying, and his head is a jumbled mess. He can’t help but pinpoint every square of skin of Kita where his mouth begs to taste. Not two seconds into this weekend and already he has been proved absolutely helpless for Kita.
“Thank you for inviting me.”
Kita’s smile tugs his lips. His face is all different, lovely but different. His cheeks have lost their roundness, and Aran can see more of Kita’s forehead, high and perfect for kissing. He lets Kita lead him into the main house, barely able to take his eyes off the broad expanse of Kita’s shoulders long enough to catalog the traditional structure around him. All dark wood that’s been polished to a shine, and tatami mats under his feet. The feel is familiar and nostalgic all at once.
“How was your bus ride, Aran-kun?”
He can’t tell if he’s annoyed at the formality or excited that Kita cares for such a mundane thing. Yet, looking at Kita, spotting the sweat shining against his neck, Aran knows that every word coming out of Kita’s mouth is laden with sincerity.
“It was fine. I was watching Atsumu’s game. That kid has vicious serves. Makes me want to get better and faster.”
Kita tilts his head. “I’m sure you’re doing your best, Aran-kun.”
He has no reason to feel the warmth in his cheeks. Unless that reason is the monstrous crush rearing its head from its deep hole. The ache in his chest is too scary to inspect, so he lets Kita show him his room. It’s small but neat. There is a TV, even, and comfortable-looking futons in the closet.
“You and I be rooming together. I hope that’s okay with you.”
Aran’s mind short circuits, but he’s had practice pretending to be all right before. Besides, he’s slept less than a meter away from Kita’s calm countenance a hundred of times before. He can do it again. He nods absently, and Kita continues, “Suna and Osamu are set up in the neighboring room.”
Aran is quiet throughout the tour, taking in the many rooms, which Kita says are for the staff, mostly, and thinking of dinner, when Kita loops back to the room and, before he leaves to let Aran change, asks, “Are you sure that you don’t mind?”
Aran can’t make his throat work so he nods again. Kita leaves after a long, lingering look.
There’s a disquiet in his mind that follows him around. Ten minutes later, he’s changed into dark trousers and a plain blue shirt. He’s introduced to Kita’s grandmother, who he’s met a long time ago. At first, he doubts she remembers him, but her warm smile and quiet way of holding his hands in hers tell him otherwise.
“Thank you for taking care of my Shin.”
He bows his head, too embarrassed over the instant image of Kita and he signing a marriage certificate, pops into his mind.
“Thank you for inviting me.”
“Shin’s friends are always welcome. I hear two more are showing up?”
“Yes, Suna and Osamu should be here for dinner.”
They were driving in. Aran didn’t want to think of being in a car with those two. Despite how sensible they look, Osamu is plain weird and food-obsessed, and Suna has a hard time letting anything go by without commenting on it.
Grandma pats the seat next to her. “Is it hard?” she asks Aran.
The question is harder to answer than it should be. “Not really. But it’s different from high school volleyball.”
She smiles knowingly. “From what I hear from Shin, you’ll do just fine, Aran-kun.”
He thanks her, face hot enough to fry an egg. He sneaks a look at Kita, but he’s sitting across them, hand busy peeling back a bright red apple’s skin, his hand working so smoothly with the knife. As Aran watches, Kita makes little rabbits out of the slices and places them neatly on the plate before him.
Aran is too charmed not to. As he slowly chews—the fact that this piece of apple has been sliced by Kita is too important for him to simply shove it in his mouth and move on to another—he thinks that this is the first time he’s seen Kita cut apples. It isn’t like his former captain is known for sloppiness. That can’t be any further from the truth. But the act is so impossibly nurturing that Aran has a hard time taking his eyes off Kita.
Slicing apples into rabbits isn’t the only thing about Kita that scrambles Aran’s mind. By dinner’s time, Aran has noticed other things. Kita personally takes him on a tour, shows him a small percentage of the vast farms. The equipment looks so high tech and impressive, and for a bare second, he wonders if Kita operates it himself. He doesn’t have to wonder for long. Kita demonstrates. He gets inside a tractor, which, he has told Aran, could lift over two tons of rice, and shows him how it starts up. Aran has never in his life thought he can have this many tender feelings over watching someone start a tractor. Then they go to the kitchen to help prepare dinner, and Aran falls for the way Kita rolls back his sleeves and washes rice.
When Osamu and Suna show up, they look like they have been bickering, Suna pointedly not looking at Osamu while Osamu looks resolute to shove as much food into his mouth as possible. He’s brought a huge box of prepared onigiri along in every flavor his shop offers. Grandma smiles and tries the very one Kita chooses for her. Aran knows this because he has been watching Kita since the sliced apples and can’t seem to take his eyes off him quite yet. Kita has changed. Aran can’t pinpoint where, but it isn’t just the widening of his shoulders and added muscles in his arms. It’s this confidence that overwhelms Aran whenever Kita catches him staring.
Kita has always been confident, so Aran has no idea why this version of him makes a shiver wreck his spine.
“What’s wrong with these two?” he asks Kita as they’re clearing away dinner. There are helping hands at the farm, but Aran likes the mechanics of piling up plates and utensils. It’s soothing. Besides, this means he can stand close to Kita and smell the vinegar on his breath, and, god help him, he really wants to kiss those thin lips. He just wants to swoop down and plant a kiss so deep and tender that Kita will never forget it. Wants. Wants. Wants. Will he ever stop wanting?
Kita gives the two in mention a look. “I think that’s,” he turns to look at Aran, and somewhere inside Aran shivers again—he’s so desperate for Kita’s touch—and continues, “none of our business.”
Not one to be bugged by Kita’s straightforwardness, Aran sighs. He has a point there. Aran has bigger problems on his hands than investigating what has gotten into Suna and Osamu.
“You don’t have to come this far, Aran-kun.” Kita stops him at the entrance of the kitchen. He has done the same thing earlier, trying to be a good host, but Aran ignores him a second time.
“It’s okay. I like doing dishes.” He bypasses him and walks in, setting the dishes in a large tub of soapy water. He picks up a pair of bright red gloves and is scrubbing in no time. He is lost in the mechanics of it, belatedly noticing Kita by his side, who is taking every clean dish and wiping it down with precise movements of his clean towel. There is no such thing as wasted effort with him. Again, Kita has rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, too, which brings up the same desperation in Aran.
“Say. Haven’t you bulked up a bit?” He can’t help himself.
Kita looks like he knows exactly what Aran is thinking but that’s impossible. Aran is thinking of Kita pushing him down and pinning his wrists with one arm. No one ever looks at Aran, sees his height, build, and knows he wants to be pushed around, to not have to be the one on top for once.
“Farming takes a lot of stamina. I found it very hard at first but I had to accumulate my body to the load I had. I began eating more and naturally doing the heavy work around made me gain some weight. It’s a shame it all goes towards my belly rather than my height.” He touches his stomach, which looks soft.
Aran moves before he properly thinks it through and places a wet hand against that same soft center. The movement shocks Kita into snapping his neck and looking at him. “No way. Your abs are still here, captain. Don’t worry about it. If you want, I can show you some exercises that are easy to squeeze into your busy schedule.”
He doesn’t know half of what he’s saying, just knows that Kita’s eyes are terrifyingly wide and honest, and if Aran looks too much into it—which, naturally, he does—he can see desire mirroring his own. But of course, neither of them acts on it. They simply continue doing the dishes until everything is spotless and set aside for tomorrow.
Kita doesn’t really take him up on his offer, but he walks an inch closer—Aran knows this because he’s a hopeless romantic and terrifyingly perceptive when it comes to how close or far Kita is. Osamu and Suna have taken the liberty to use the baths. Aran hopes whatever goes down between them is peaceful and mature—but knowing them, it’ll probably make things even worse.
Kita pauses, and so does Aran automatically, his body attuned to Kita.
“What’s the matter? Did you not enjoy your dinner?”
Aran blinks. “What? No, no, it’s not that. I’m just—overthinking.”
This prompts Kita to smile sweetly, the act in of itself testing Aran’s restraint. “Never thought you’d be someone prone to overthinking, Aran-kun.”
Yeah. That is his limit. “What’s up with that, Kita? You can call me…” he trails off, his brain catching up to his tongue, but he says it anyway, “Aran.”
Kita’s eyes widen, and that chips off a huge part of Aran's control. “Can I be that familiar?”
“I mean we’ve known each other since we were grubby first years. You’re the closest thing I have to a best friend, Kita. I mean…” He has begun to lose steam.
Kita’s touch is a shock and relief all rolled up together. He puts his hand on Aran’s arm, where his shirt-sleeves cap off and his skin begins. It’s slightly cool, but the fire its glancing touch starts in Aran’s veins is wild and scary. It’s like someone has doused the kindling of a crush at his center with gasoline. He stands still, the minutes warping around them, flowing smoother, his breathing noisy to his ears.
And that’s all it takes to blow right though Aran’s flimsy walls. When he’s leaning down, neck tilting like this is the most natural and logical course of action. He sees Kita’s eyelashes flutter then rest against the thin skin under his eyes. When they kiss, it feels like the beginning of a game, anticipation building with every stroke of their lips. Aran holds his body taut and careful, hands fisted by his side, worried the second he’s allowed to touch Kita he’ll burn them both with the slick fire spreading through his cells.
Kita’s lips don’t taste of vinegar, but of something addictive, subtle, and slightly salty. Before he knows it, Aran is smiling, bending over Kita like a ravenous beast has been allowed to come out of its cage. But he’s still careful because this is Kita. He’s wanted to kiss him forever, and if he wrecks this delicate opportunity, he will never forgive himself.
The kiss comes to an end eventually, and they’re both breathing fast and heavy. Kita’s hand on his skin has turned into a grip that Aran dares to call possessive. Like Kita wants him there, close, and sure. He holds his breath, and soon it gets to his head, makes focusing more difficult with each passing second.
He’s wanted it for so long he can’t quite process his next move. Can’t tell if he should kiss Kita again or if he should walk away. The first sounds like heaven, the second absolute hell. He is walking a tightrope.
“Don’t. Don’t overthink it, Aran,” Kita speaks right against his lips, his breath so sweet that Aran has no other instinct but to nod his head and kiss him again.
There’s a tiny surprised breath leaving Kita’s mouth, and Aran wants to swallow it deep into his chest, let it feed the seedling of ardor he feels. This time, Aran’s hand softly mirrors Kita’s, reaches for the strong width of Kita’s back and fits between Kita’s shoulder and neck, and he is glad he doesn’t begin to sob right there. Kita’s vitality and plain force are under his fingertips, and he wants to bottle this feeling. Take a sip whenever things get a little too hard.
This kiss is a little playful, and Aran realizes, reverently, that Kita is licking and nipping at his lips, successfully pulling Aran towards a sharp cliff.
“Don’t kiss me like that—” He is panting. “I don’t—I can’t stop otherwise—Kita—I”—
—“Then don’t stop, Aran,” Kita says, like Aran’s name is a delicacy of which he’s grown fond. Aran stares into those steady eyes, unflinching and unquestionable, and decides right then and there to become a cloud, trail after Kita lovingly, living out his short lifespan keeping this man in the shade.
Before he can move for another kiss, the one to hopefully launch a thousand kisses, there’s a sound of feet, padding softly against the tatami flooring. As if on automatic, Aran unfurls his fingers from where they were gently memorizing the lines of Kita’s long neck and takes a step back. He doesn’t look at Kita, scared to see relief. It’s Suna, hair soft from his bath, but there’s a line between his eyebrows.
“Aran-san, can I swap with you? I’m not rooming with Osamu.”
Kita opens his mouth but Aran beats him to it. “Sure.” He’s forgotten all about their rooming situation, but now that he doesn’t have the luxury of going back to the same room as Kita, his heart grows heavy.
Suna gives them a look, thanks Aran, then turns back. Whatever is between him and Osamu has just successfully popped Aran’s bubble.
He’s rubbing at the back of his head, pulling words out of his ass, “Sorry, Kita. I just—It seems like—I'm—I guess I was caught up in the moment”—
But Kita’s quiet, his eyes staring a hole through Aran’s flimsy barrier, cutting him off. Aran doesn’t know if he should apologize for attempting to apologize for kissing him or run away from Kita’s gaze. Then Kita looks away, and then there’s no more overthinking to be done. Kita’s walking away, and every cell in Aran’s body is screaming at him to follow him, grab him by his perfect hands and confess everything; every instance he’s wanted Kita to lean on him, every desire he’s had, late at night and early in the morning. How he’s wanted and wanted and wanted until there seemed to be nothing left in him but wanting. Yet his body is terrified of following through, and he’s sickeningly worried he’s messed with the fragile thing between them with that excuse. For a second, there has seemed to be something worth nurturing, looking after, forming in every space where their lips met and parted and tasted.
Kita turns the corner, and Aran lets him.
Osamu is already snoozing when Aran walks into the room after his bath. He lies down on the prepared futon, sees that his things have been moved already, and simmers in his feelings. He doesn’t know who he’s madder at: Suna or himself. He shouldn’t have said yes. He should have told Suna to deal with whatever squabble he was having with Osamu. Half of him agrees. The other half is a cowardly bastard who tells him that nothing can come of him and Kita kissing again.
How can you know that, overthinking brain of mine?
He’s kicking himself all night long, barely sleeping a wink before they’re woken up at the ass crack of dawn. He doesn’t dare look at Kita, for fear of finding Kita avoiding him. He eats his breakfast quickly, beating even Osamu in his speed, then excuses himself to get changed, looking at nobody and nothing in particular.
They’re handed sickles and clear instruction to stay out of the way of the other workers harvesting rice alongside them. Kita doesn’t seem to be extremely bothered by Suna’s halfhearted work, and Aran likes the straightforward work.
Being busy following Kita’s instructions is a bliss. He’s allowed to think and think, dissecting everything he’s done last night and every word Kita has said, then comes up with one preposterous reasoning after the other of why he should quit the weekend early and catch a bus to get him as far away from his feelings as possible.
Suna and Osamu are doing the same game from last night: Suna glaring at Osamu, and Osamu pretending not to feel the intensity of said glare. They’re taking a break at noon; Aran barely believes that almost six hours passed of manual work. Kita helps setting lunch, the sweat hasn’t even dried on his forehead, yet his every movement was careful. Everything Kita does simply helps Aran fall further deeper into his I Love Kita Shinsuke hole. He tries to help clearing up lunch but there’s a chill in the air he can’t shake off, and so he opts to donning his wide-brimmed hat and gloves and heading right back out there into the fields. Osamu follows him.
He shouldn’t say a word to Osamu—he has it on good authority that nothing positive ever comes out of nosing into other people's problems. And hasn’t Kita already told him, in not so many words, that this is out of their jurisdiction as former captain and on-court-captain?
But Aran has a big mouth.
“What’s up with you and Suna, anyway?”
Osamu shrugs. “I have no idea what you mean, Aran-san.”
He rolls his eyes. “Don’t give me that. Something has you two bent out of shape.”
After a long minute of them going through their route, cutting down enough stalks to fill their bags, Osamu says, “I proposed to Suna.”
Aran pauses, takes off his hat, and runs his wrist across his sweaty forehead. He hasn’t known they were even together, but doesn’t think that matters. “And?”
“And he said he’ll think about it. So. I’m giving him space to think about it.”
He blinks. That doesn’t explain why Suna looks like the one whose relationship has been paused. If he can even call that a pause. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take one’s time to contemplate such an important decision. Then he notices the way Osamu’s bare hand fists around the sickle handle, knuckles white with exertion. There’s something there.
Aran pokes Osamu’s knee with one foot. “Go on.”
“Well, I want to move to Tokyo, open a bigger branch of Miya Onigiri. And I want Rin alongside me. But… does he want to even bother with me? I am scared, Aran. I’m scared that all his thinking will just make him realize what a futile end a relationship between two men can be in the end.”
Aran stands, stock-still, the honesty in Osamu’s voice ringing in his ear. Then, with a steady foot, he gives Osamu a quick thump on his ass. Osamu looks outraged, but it’s a good change from the teary-eyed look he has been sporting right then.
“How about you stop the goddamn overthinking. Hell, I didn't even think you had that kind of ability. Shouldn’t you be convincing Suna that you are worth taking this huge step rather than giving him space? Why are you ignoring him and being a total asshole?” he rants. He’s breathless after, glaring at Osamu and decides that Suna has every right to be petty.
It’s funny how his very own words can be thrown back at him. Hasn’t he been pulling the same act the past morning? He has ignored Kita, given him such a weak excuse last night, and run away. So, ignoring Osamu’s outraged calls, Aran walks frantically to find that specific head of hair under a specific light blue hat. He spots him a little deeper in the fields and wastes no time. Aran runs towards Kita.
Once he’s eaten up the space with his legs, breathless and slightly dehydrated from having the sun beat down on him, his hat long flung away, Aran realizes he doesn’t know what to say, really.
He just knows that he really wants that something between him and Kita to be given a chance to breathe and expand. Kita turns to the sound of his footsteps and watches him.
“Kita—I… I liked kissing you. I mean—I like it. I want to do it more. I want to kiss you and maybe even suck your—”
Kita’s eyes are wide as he covers Aran’s mouth. He hisses, “Aran, we’re—”
But Aran lowers Kita’s hand and goes on, “I’m sorry— I just. I had the biggest crush on you in high school, and I never thought you’d ever want to kiss me so I thought I squashed it. I really thought I did. But I didn't, Kita. Coming here for five minutes has already and clearly pointed out to me that I can never do anything about these feelings I have for you.”
Kita stares at him, and for once Aran would like to know what he’s thinking. He knows Kita isn’t the robot he is rumored to be. He’s a kind man who gives Aran heart palpitations.
“I liked you too, Aran.”
He knows he’s looking ridiculous as he blinks. He opens his mouth. Nothing comes out. He’s been officially shut up.
“I didn’t have any plans on confessing either. You see, I used to believe that if you put in the work, the hours, and the sweat, you could have anything you wanted. Except for you. I could never have you.”
Kita raises a hand, touches the exact same spot on Aran’s arm, as if he can find it again without error. Aran decides that it is now his switch button because it allows him to step closer and, knowing no one will hear him, whispers, “I want to kiss every inch of your body. I don’t have a good reason as to why, but I don’t need a reason.”
“If it makes you happy then that’s a good enough reason, hm?” He’s paraphrasing Aran’s own words, and in Aran’s heart blooms the most breathtaking emotion: love. He loves this guy.
“I would be kissing you so hard right now if we weren’t standing in the middle of your rice fields.”
Kita’s eyes are bright and, dare Aran think, mischievous.
“I guess you’ve got something to look forward to tonight.
And what an anticipation that lives and breathes under Aran's skin. It feels like the accumulation of over a decade’s worth of feelings. Has it even been that long since he’s first looked at Kita and fallen? He should be embarrassed over the way he corners Kita after their baths, practically dragging him to their room, but he doesn’t care. He has no shame in how his body burns for Kita, how he attacks Kita’s mouth, how he fits their bodies, heart, and souls together into an indecipherable mold.
Kita is so warm to the touch, his palms burning up and down Aran’s arms, and when he takes Aran’s lower lip between his teeth and lets out a tiny breathless uh, Aran shatters. They’re sliding down, their legs can’t hold them up. There is a futon laid out so Aran lies down on it, Kita kneeling over him, their mouths never ceasing their exploration. Their tongues are tasting, and teeth are nipping.
His hands itch to take off Kita’s shirt. He wants to see how the years apart have molded and changed the Kita from his memories but Kita beats him to it, and suddenly Aran is shirtless, his pants are undone, and Kita has him rolled onto his stomach. He blinks at the wall.
“Wait, how did this happen?”
Kita murmurs softly against his ear, and Aran shudders, “I need to see something.”
He swallows thickly when he realizes something is very much his ass. Kita is peeling down Aran’s pants, and the air meeting his heated skin makes Aran shiver. But there’s this terrifying presence in the air, and when he turns around, he finds it is Kita’s hunger. Aran has always thought himself somewhat delusional for wanting Kita so much, for thinking his crush will die as it is; unrequited, but here, lying on the soft sheets, having his thighs spread by Kita’s calloused fingertips, his eyes taking in Aran’s body, pebbling his skin with goosebumps, he knows he’s wrong.
He will never be alone in his feelings.
He pulls Kita atop him, whines when Kita teases him with chaste kisses, how he keeps his body away, drags a finger down Aran’s bath-warmed pectorals. Kita follows his fingers with his tongue, mapping out Aran’s chest and moving down between his legs. The pleasure is too great at first, then it melts him down to his bones, and he lays there, the only thought in his mind is a litany of I love him, his desire overwhelming every other emotion he’s ever had.
He has a fistful of Kita’s hair in his hands afterwards, kissing Kita’s eager, hungry mouth. He shouldn’t be this much in love after being sucked off, but Aran doesn’t care to psychoanalyze himself just yet. He doesn’t rest until they’re both equally naked, Kita’s thigh between his, goading him into another sharp climax, their cocks slick between their hands, their kisses sloppy and open-mouthed. Aran doesn’t believe he ever thought he could live life without this. Kita’s heavy on top of him, his shoulders eclipsing the light peeking through the thin paneling, his bright grin as Aran lets out one curse after the other, his hands working on Aran like he knows exactly how to push his button.
Spent, Aran tucks his head against Kita’s chest, lets his finger trail the thin hair Kita has leading down his body, his soft belly rippling when he finds Kita’s tickle spot. He mumbles a quick sorry, then they’re kissing again. Slower and softer. There’s that frantic energy, but it's simmering for now.
Kita’s hand is on his ass still, and Aran thinks he likes it there. He squirms when Kita palms one cheek, pulling Aran into another maddening kiss.
They fall asleep like that, naked and wrapped around one another, their mouths a hair’s breadth apart, ready to melt together.
His bed is empty the next morning and for a worrisome minute, Aran thinks Kita has disappeared off the face of the earth. But he finds him in the kitchen, hair dripping into the shoulders of his grey T-shirt.
“What are you doing?”
Kita turns around and reveals the box in his hand. Ritz crackers. Aran brightens and accepts it, breaking the seal and ripping the bag open. He is eating four crackers at once when he notices Kita watching him.
“What?” he asks, but his mouth is full, and he ends up spraying crumbs everywhere just as Suna and Osamu walk in.
“Ew, Aran-san, say it, don’t spray it,” Suna complains, reaching out to grab the box in Aran’s hand but he pulls it out of reach.
“Get your own. This one’s mine,” he says once he’s sure he’s swallowed, eyes firm on Kita. He hasn’t thought he’ll ever see Kita blush, but this weekend is intent on proving him wrong because there he is, Kita Shinsuke, blushing pink and lovely, and Aran is very sure he wants to eat him, but he’s busy protecting his box of crackers from Suna’s fingers.
Osamu goes for onigiris, many left over from the box he brought over, double-fisting, watching Suna try and fail to get the box of Ritz from him. Aran notices Kita watching them, his mouth pulled into a small smile into which Aran wants to fall, heads over heels. He finally cedes the box to Suna, choosing instead to side up next to Kita, watching him spoon rice into bowls. Then Aran is bending over Kita, uncaring for the very possible audience of two they might have, and kisses the thin skin behind Kita’s lovely ear. Kita’s shoulders shudder, and he gives Aran a look that makes Aran want to drag him back to their room for a vigorous repeat from last night.
But their underclassmen are making it hard to ignore their presence: Suna is coughing loudly into one fist, and Osamu is talking to an onigiri about his “embarrassing upperclassmen.” Aran throws a glare over his shoulders at them, but there’s a hand slipping down his back, familiar even in its newness, tickling his side and finally resting on the rise of his ass. Ah, Kita is definitely an ass man, and Aran doesn’t know if he’s charmed or not.
Kita gives his ass a squeeze, and yeah, Aran is so fucking charmed. He’s leaning down to plant that kiss on Kita but there’s a spoonful of rice pushed into his mouth instead, so he chews and waits. It’s so good and soft in his mouth he’s momentarily distracted. He sees the bag in the open cupboard.
“Say, Kita, how come your rice doesn’t have a label?”
Kita’s pouring miso soup now, and hums absently. “What?”
“I mean, it’s just proper Hyogo rice. Doesn’t that make it confusing?”
“A label is unnecessary. It’s proper Hyogo rice.”
“But a label would distinguish it.”
Osamu pipes up, “Make it Shinricesuke.”
Suna cackles and slaps Osamu’s arm. “Good one, babe.”
Aran ignores them. “I’m serious. A brand could make your rice go a long way.”
But Kita simply repeats, “A label isn’t important, Aran.”
Aran’s mouth opens for another retort but his argument has been successfully nipped at the bud by Kita saying his name. He’s too busy blushing to speak.
Osamu pipes up, “I mean, proper Hyogo rice is a good label.”
Aran sighs and says softly, “Proper Hyogo my ass.”
To his shock, Kita leans close, noses Aran’s cheek, his breath hot, and says, “Yes. Your ass is proper Hyogo ass indeed.” Then, he pats it. Aran swears he can see hearts around Kita.
He’s gearing up to attack Kita’s mouth, bruising it with the strength of passion he feels for Kita, when Suna and Osamu, in irritating unison, say, “Stop that.”
“I’m eating,” Suna adds despite the fact that they weren’t supposed to spoil their appetite.
He turns to Suna and snaps, “How is my ass ruining your breakfast?”
Suna shrugs, shoving another piece of egg roll in his mouth, “Dunno,” he says through a full mouth, and Aran is outraged at Suna’s hypocrisy, but it’s quickly doused when Kita turns to him, a tray in his hand.
“Is it not enough that I like your ass, Ojiro?”
Kita’s doing that thing, that scrambling Aran’s mind until every last shred of sense has escaped through his ears. He takes the tray from Kita’s hold automatically, and receives a kiss in return, sweet and lingering.
He wants to wonder why he feels like he wants to quit volleyball and move into the countryside to be Kita’s husband so bad, but there’s breakfast to be had and then work to do. Sitting side by side, their knees touching, Aran eats the food he’s been provided, and thanks heaven for Kita next to him.
He almost doesn’t want to leave. The scent of their lovemaking still permeates the air. Kita’s naked chest is covered with a sheen of sweat, and Aran is on his side, cataloging all of the hickeys forming mostly around Kita’s hips and thighs. Apparently, he wanted to live between Kita’s thighs. He is unperturbed by the realization. The bottle of lube they have abused is on the other side of their cot, and they’re talking about nothing and everything, when Aran finally lets himself ask the question on his mind,
“What changed?” He trails a finger up Kita’s side, smiles when Kita shudders and lets out an annoyed laugh. Oh, how easy it is to get drunk on that sound.
Kita’s cheek is soft under his knuckle, creasing into a smile when Aran blows a raspberry into it. “Nothing. Everything. I woke up one day, alone as usual, ate my food, went into the field, stood there, and, like every morning before it, I thought of you.”
Aran blinks. That’s hardly romantic. He doesn’t know what other response he has been subconsciously expecting, but he waits. Is he really bothered by Kita’s simplicity? With a smile, he decides no. Kita’s hands are hardened by the tough toil, and Aran kisses its lines, places it on his chest, and admits, “I love you.”
Aran lingers at the threshold. His bus shows up in forty minutes. Kita has offered him a bicycle to take him to the stop, but Aran’s legs are craving the exercise. Despite the hard work of the past two days, he still needs to put himself back in the proper head-space for his harsh regimen.
He looks back at Kita. “There’s—I mean, if you’re not too busy—there’s a game. It’s next month but with your schedule I just thought to bring it up now. You could come stay with me. I mean”—
Kita cuts him off, gentle and lovely, and says, “I’ll come.”
Aran spends a minute, simply taking in the sight of Kita Shinsuke, his high school crush, now his first (and last) love, who comes to him in long, sure steps, tiptoes, and whispers against his lips, “I love you.”