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Among Giants

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Morisuke is surrounded by tall people.

This is his own fault. He should never have agreed to come over and help Lev with his homework. He should have known how this would end, dammit.

“Yaku-san?” A woman who has to be 180mms tall is smiling at him. She has Lev’s green eyes and his alarmingly long limbs. “Would you care for some tea?” Her japanese is slightly accented, but perfectly understandable.

“Um, okay.” Morisuke does his best to smile at her, but he’s pretty sure that it looks like a grimace. He’s not at his best right now. He is understandably alarmed by the horde of tall russian people that are milling about Lev’s house.

“So you’re on the volleyball team?” Lev’s brother, who is four years older and a good deal taller than Lev, is leaning against the counter and regarding Morisuke with open curiosity.

“Yes.” Morisuke nods.

"Aren't you kinda short?" He accepts tea from his mother and sips it, looking at Morisuke over the rim.

I am not going to punch Lev's brother, I am not going to punch Lev's brother, I am not going to punch Lev's brother. He repeats it to himself like a mantra. "There's more to being good at volleyball than just height." Morisuke forces himself to be calm. It's a skill that he's developed and perfected while dealing with Lev. He accepts his own cup of tea with a tight smile. “You said that Lev would be down soon, right Haiba-san?”

Lev’s mother smiles and pours her own cup of tea. “You caught him coming out of the shower. He should be down as soon as he’s dressed.”

Morisuke glances at the clock on the microwave. It’s five til four and he said that they’d meet at four, so he can’t really be all that mad at Lev. He’s not really late. Morisuke is just early. Still, he would have liked some warning before being ambushed by Lev’s giant mother and brother. He takes another sip of tea, just for something to do. It’s good tea, at least.

“So, are you a first year like Lev?” Lev’s brother asks.

Morisuke sets down his tea. “Third year, actually.”

The brother, whose name Morisuke really needs to find out, looks surprised. “Why are you helping Lev with his homework, then?”

Morisuke finds himself wondering if boundless curiosity is a common trait in all Russian people or if it’s just Lev and his strange, tall family.

“He’s bad at english and I’m good at it.” He shrugs. He helps most of the first years out with their homework, when they need it. “Besides, if his grades slip, it puts his place on the team in jeopardy.”

“That sounds like Lev alright.”

Lev’s mother frowns at her son and smiles at Morisuke. “I appreciate it, Yaku-san.” She reaches over and flicks her son’s ear. “You were bad at english too, Ilia. Don’t be so hard on your brother.”

His brother, whose name is apparently Ilia, smiles shamelessly and holds up his hands in surrender. “True enough, mom.”

Upstairs, Morisuke hears a door opening and looks hopefully around. Sure, Lev is annoying and huge, but Lev is the kind of annoying and huge that he’s used to. It’s probably not a sensible distinction to anyone but Morisuke.

“Yaku-saaaan.” Lev finally, finally, trots down the stairs. He’s waving at Morisuke and smiling like this is all perfectly normal. “You’re here!”

“It’s four.” He nods towards the microwave. It reads exactly fouro’clock. “We said two, didn’t we?”

Lev nods eagerly, grabbing Morisuke by the wrist and dragging him in the general direction of the stairs. “Come up to my room!”

“Thanks for the tea, Haiba-san.” Morisuke manages to say as Lev steers him away. “It was nice to meet you.” She waves at him with a benign smile, like Lev’s behavior is both expected and accepted.

Ilia grins and hops up on the counter. “See you, Yaku.”

He doesn’t have a chance to answer before he’s being more or less pulled up the stairs. Morisuke has never been up to Lev’s room. The thought of it fills him with trepidation. He has seen Lev’s gym locker. He has absolutely zero faith in the other boy to keep anything clean.

“Tada!” Lev opens the door with an unnecessary amount of fanfair, revealing his bedroom. It’s cleaner than Morisuke expected. Everything in it is brightly colored and absolutely nothing matches. He can see three volleyballs scattered around the room. He is willing to bet that there are more he hasn’t spotted yet. Morisuke glances at Lev. The room fits him, really.

Lev flops down on his bed, a sideways slide that reminds Morisuke a bit of a building collapsing. The sheets are bright red and blue, vibrant against Lev’s pale hair and paler skin. “Can we do spikes instead of english, Yaku-san?” Lev peers up at Morisuke with puppy eyes that clearly think are endearing.

“No!” Morisuke does not find the puppy eyes endearing. In fact, it kind of makes him want to punch Lev in the stomach (which is the best place for punching Lev since his face is so damn high up). “English now, volleyball later.” He sits on the edge of the bed, taking up the little space that isn’t already filled by Lev’s sprawling limbs.

Lev’s eyes gleam. “So we can do spikes after we do english?”

Morisuke fights to urge to roll his eyes.

He rolls his eyes at Lev.

Honestly, he didn’t fight all that hard.

“The gym isn’t open today.” He starts rummaging through his bag, pulling out his notes and textbook. “We don’t have anywhere to play.”

“I have a net in the backyard!” Lev pulls himself into a sitting position and scoots closer to Morisuke, face imploring. “Pleeeeeease, Yaku-san.”

Morisuke doesn’t usually give in to Lev’s pleading. However, Lev is still staring at him with those not-at-all-endearing puppy eyes and Morisuke knows from experience that the promise of eventual volleyball makes Lev work harder at his studies. “If you do a good job.” He sighs wearily. “Then we can do spikes after.”

“Wooo!” Lev cheers and grins at him. He scrambles off the bed, looking for all the world like a knobbly-kneed foal that’s trying very hard to run without actually knowing how the action works. He goes to his desk and pulls out his own textbooks and notes. “Let’s study then, Yaku-san!”

Lev isn’t stupid. He just kind of loses interest in whatever he's doing unless he thinks it's interesting. He can talk volleyball with Morisuke for hours, but he stops paying attention to English after about five minutes. Granted, five minutes of attention is better than his usual no minutes of attention. They work like that, in five minute intervals punctuated by Morisuke yelling and hitting Lev up side the head. It takes a while, but they get there.

After about two hours, Morisuke gives in to the puppy eyes and escalating dramatic sighs. "Okay, fine, we can go practice." He flips his book closed and rubs his eyes.

"Yay!" Lev sits up and stretches, shutting his book with significantly more force than Morisuke. "Let's go!"

The Haibai's backyard is grassy, with a net strung up across the middle. The grass is more brown than green, thanks to winter steadily creeping up on them.

Morisuke played setter for a while in middle school, so it works out that Lev hits the ball more than he doesn’t. Granted, a lot of those hits are messy and horrible and would absolutely get blocked in any actual game. But when Lev really hits the ball, he really hits it. It slams to the grassy ground with a dull sound, but Morisuke knows that in the gym those hits would make a loud, satisfying smack. Lev grins, wide and proud, when he hits the first of those spikes and, for a brief second, it seems to Morisuke like Lev could do just about anything.

They stay out for hours, moving from spikes to serves to blocks to receives and then back to spikes again. Ilia comes out after they’ve been at it for an hour so so and watches them curiously. Eventually, he asks to try hitting the ball too, so Morisuke spends the afternoon tossing a volleyball to two inexperienced russian giants and praying they won’t hit him in the head by accident.

It’s not the worst way he can think of spending an afternoon.

The shadows are long and dark by the time Morisuke finally remembers that he really needs to be getting home. He waves down the invitation to dinner, promising that he’ll stay next time, and lets Ilia put his number in his phone. Lev waves him off, looking tired from the exercise, but pleased.

Morisuke waves back, equally tired and equally pleased.

^^^^^^^^

 

Morisuke isn’t sure how, exactly, but the following weekend he finds himself in almost the exact same situation. He and Lev study (math this time) and then play volleyball until night starts to creep up on them. Lev's younger sister Yana, who is only a little bit shorter than Lev, watches them from the back steps.

The days are getting colder. Lev wears gloves that his mother knitted him and insists that Morisuke borrow one of his old pairs. They’re bright orange and absolutely hideous. Still, they help keep the chill from numbing his fingertips.

They tromp inside together, noses red and running from the cold.

 "Stay for dinner, Yaku-San." Lev's mother says with a smile. Morisuke has a protest ready on the tip of his tongue, but she cuts him off. "You did promise, last time."

Morisuke hates tall people. Especially tall people who do puppy dog eyes at him and make him promise things. He texts his parents, letting them know he'll be late. They don't respond and he doesn't really expect them too. The Yakus have a polite, and rather distant, relationship. His parents both work high-stress jobs in the city that have long hours. They sit down to one family dinner a week. It’s every Monday at exactly eight o’clock. It’s been that way since Morisuke started middle school.

When he tells people about it, they give him pitying looks that he really, really hates. He doesn’t want to people feeling sorry for him because his parents are busy. He doesn’t mind that they’re busy. They’re separate people with separate lives and that’s fine. It’s always been that way. He’s so used to it that he’s not sure if he could deal with parents who were constantly in his space, asking about his life.

Despite that, he doesn’t dislike sitting down to dinner with Lev’s family as much as he expected to. Sure, they all talk over each other and elbow him in the head once or twice, but it’s warm. Comfortable. It’s not that it’s any better or worse than the dinners that Morisuke has with his parents. It’s just...different. Very different.

“Sorry that dad couldn’t be here.” Lev says to him. There are crumbs on his face. Morisuke wants to brush them off. He doesn’t, because that would be weird, but the impulse lingers. “He works all around the country! It’s hard to tell what days he’ll be home and what days he won’t.”

“I’m sure that dad can meet Yaku some other time.” Ilia gestures towards him with a chopstick. Ilia, Morisuke has learned, decided against university after graduating and now works at a restaurant in the city.

“Mmmm.” Lev’s mother hums in agreement. “I’m sure that he’ll want to. Maybe after the spring tournament,” She glances at Morisuke. “Do you think Lev will be able to play by then?”

Morisuke laughs and flicks Lev’s arm. “Maybe if he starts listening during practices.”

“Hey!” Lev protests over Ilia’s snickers and his mother’s titters. “I listen way better now than I used to! Don’t I, Yaku-san?” When Morisuke doesn’t answer immediately he leans closer, his elbows dangerously close to Morisuke’s food. “Don’t I, don’t I?”

Morisuke huffs and pulls his plate away from Lev’s hazardous elbows. “Yes, fine.” He relents. “You listen a little bit better.”

He nods smugly, looking over at Ilia. “You see?”

Before Ilia can answer, Yana lets out a loud, obviously fake yawn. “Volleyball talk again?” She moans. “Come on, you two did this yesterday too!”

“Well what do you want to talk about?” Lev blinks at her, nonplussed. The complete lack of comprehension on his face makes Morisuke want to laugh. It’s like he can’t imagine a single thing that a person might find more interesting to talk about than volleyball.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that he’s been playing for just a couple of months. He loves the game the way that Kuroo and Kai and they other seasoned veterans do. Morisuke loves volleyball like that too. It’s why he sticks with it, despite his obvious limitations.

“Come on.” Yana complains. “School, shopping. TV, whatever! Just no more volleyball.”

Lev huffs in annoyance and rolls his eyes over at Morisuke like he’s saying see? This is what I have to put up with. It’s completely stupid, but it makes Morisuke laugh anyway.

Lev gets this pleased little smile on his face when Morisuke laughs, like it’s a miraculous event or something. It makes Morisuke feel warm and embarrassed, but also kind of pleased. It’s a confusing tangle of emotions that he doesn’t want to deal with, so he leans forward to proceeds to ask Yana about her schoolwork.

Beside him. Lev is still smiling.

^^^^^^^^

Dinner doesn’t end until late. And after dinner, Lev insists on a movie. So by the time Morisuke is getting ready to leave, it is really late.

He’s not looking forward to practice tomorrow on the little amount of sleep he’s going to get. He still has to make the train ride home and walk from the station to his apartment...

“It’s too late for the train, Yaku-san.” Lev’s mother is waiting by the front door to ambush him like a well-meaning, unreasonably tall spider. “I’m sure that your parents would agree with me,”

“I…” Morisuke sighs. He actually doesn’t think his parents would care, actually, but he isn’t going to argue. He has a feeling that it will lead to the same pitying looks that he gets when he talks about his scheduled family dinners. He doesn’t want any of those looks from Lev’s family, not after he’s gotten to know them and, despite their tallness, to like them all.

“Yaku-san can stay in my room!” Lev is bouncing on the balls of his feet. “We can leave early and stop by his apartment on the way to school.”

“Lev, shut up. Habai-san, I really appreciate the offer, but I’m okay…” He tries, but trails off as Lev grabs him by the arm and starts dragging him up the stairs.

“No, no, no!” Lev sings. “It is much to late for someone so little to be wandering around by himself…”

Morisuke punches Lev in the stomach and the other boy lets him go with a loud whoosh of breath. “So help me god, Lev, if you call me short one more time…” He growls.

“It’s not my fault that you’re small enough to be easily abducted, Yaku-san!” Les looks rather affronted. “A kidnapper could just pick you up and go! I won’t apologize for saying what we’re all thinking!”

“No one was thinking that!” Morisuke yanks at his hair in frustation. “No one would ever be thinking that! You wanna know why Lev? Because it’s completely insane!”

“Yaku-san needs to accept…”

“I will actually kill you, Lev.”

“It’s not my fault that you’re so small.”

“You invited me into your house. I am going to wait until you’re asleep and then…”

“I’m just keeping you safe!”

No court would convict me!”

“Boys!” Both of them freeze, looking over at the door that they were arguing in front. Yana is standing there, dressed in frilly white pajamas and glaring murderously. “I think that Yaku killing you is going to be the least of your worries if you both don’t shut up!”

“Ah…”

“Uh…”

“Apologize and go to bed!” She screeches.

“Sorry, nee-san.”

“Sorry, Yana.”

“Thank you!” The door slams behind her. Morisuke exchanges a look with Lev and, before he knows it, they’re both laughing. It’s horrible, gasping laughter that makes it impossible to breathe.

“Did you see her face?” Lev wheezes.

“And those pajamas!” Morisuke chokes out. Morisuke clutches Lev’s arm, seriously worried that he might actually fall over from laughing too hard. He can’t remember a time that he’s laughed this hard. He really can’t.

“GO TO BED!” The shout from Yana’s room makes them both laugh harder, but they make their way towards Lev’s bedroom anyway. Morisuke collapses on the bed, trying to muffle his giggles in his hands. Lev falls beside him, making the bed bounce. Eventually, they hiccup their way back into normalcy.

“I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard.” Morisuke is still grinning. He wipes tears from the corners of his eyes. “Oh my god, that was great.”

Lev giggles in agreement.

“We really should sleep though.” Morisuke admits. “Practice in the morining and everything.” Lev sits up and looks Morisuke up and down. Morisuke feels his face color. Lev’s gaze is weirdly heavy. It makes his whole body feel hot.

“I don’t think any of my clothes will fit you.” He says finally.

“Uh,” Morisuke swallows. “Just give me a shirt and I can wear my boxers with it.”

“Okay.” Lev gets up and tosses him a red Nekoma shirt from the basket of clean clothes by the door. It is, predictably, too big on Yaku. It falls almost to his knees making him feel a bit like he’s wearing a dress. A dress that smells like Lev’s laundry soap and his mother’s tea.

Whatever. He can roll with this.

They take turns in the bathroom brushing their teeth. Morisuke uses his finger and makes a mental note to bring a toothbrush next time. Then he stops because there won’t be a next time because this is stupid.

Finally, they turn off the lights and clamber into bed. It’s a bit of tight fit, but they both manage without falling off.

“Goodnight, Yaku-san.” Lev whispers.

“Night.” Morisuke mutters back, turning to face the wall.

Lev falls asleep quickly. Morisuke expected Lev to fail and thrash and to just generally fail at sleeping like a human being. But that isn’t the case at all. Lev sleeps quiet and deep, curled up on his side and not moving at all. Morisuke has never seen him so still before. It’s...weird.

The room is cold, thanks to the chill outside. But Morisuke feels warm, hot even. It’s not something that he wants to think about too deeply.

He closes his eyes and tries not to think about the inch or so of space between his back and Lev’s.

^^^^^^^^^

Morisuke wakes to a unfamiliar alarm and, for a minute, has no idea where he is. He clambers into a sitting position, sees the room, and the previous night comes back.

Lev is still curled up. The inch between them remains. Morisuke swallows and reaches across the other boy to silence his alarm.

“C’mon Lev.” He shakes Lev’s shoulder. “Cmon you idiot, get up.”

Lev groans and tries to burrow deeper into the blankets. “Don’t wanna.”

“We have practice.” Morisuke reminds. He’s not happy about this whole getting up business either, but as usual it’s his job to be responsbile and do the unpleasant things that other people don’t want to. “So get up.”

“Ugh.” Lev claws his way into a sitting position, hugging the blankets around him. “You’re mean, Yaku-san.”

“Good morning to you too, Lev.”

Lev snickers like an idiot. Probably because he’s an idiot. Morisuke smacks him upside the head and clambers out of the bed. “I’ve got to hurry.” He complains, putting on the clothes he wore the day before. “I’ve still got to go to my apartment and get my uniform.”

“I’ll walk you to the train station.” Lev offers.

Morisuke just grunts, hicking up his jeans and zipping them. “Let Kuroo know I’ll be late for morning practice, all right?”

“Kay.” Lev yawns, finally dropping his blankets shroud and getting up. Morisuke glances at him. Morning Lev appears to be much more docile than normal Lev. He watches as Lev puts on his uniform in silence, not once making any comments about volleyball or school or Moriuske’s bedhead. Morisuke thinks he likes morning Lev.

They troop downstairs a few minutes later. Lev’s mother smiles and gives them both pieces of toast and lunches on their way out the door. “Have a good day, boys!” She calls and they both grunt back their thanks.

It’s nice. Different than Morisuke’s usual Monday mornings, but nice.

Still, this is the last time that it’s going to happen. He’s not going to let this become, like, a thing.

Weekends at Lev’s are not going to be a thing.

^^^^^^^^

Weekends at Lev’s are totally a thing.

Morisuke is rightly ashamed by it.

He promised himself that he wasn’t going to let himself become a regular fixture in the House of Giant Russians, but despite his best efforts, he has spent the last five weekends there and he knows he is going to spend this one there too.

He drops his head onto his desk and sighs. Loudly. He has never been good at containing his misery. Lev says its because he’s so small. The thought of Lev makes him sigh again, even louder.

“That was ominous.” Morisuke looks up to see Kuroo staring down at him through hooded eyes. It’s a bit of a surprise to see Kuroo here during lunch, even though they share a class. He usually wanders off to wherever Kenma is and hangs off of him like a large, needy cat.

“Why aren’t you with Kenma?” Morisuke says, poking listlessly at the remains of his lunch.

Kuroo raises an eyebrow. “I was leaving, but then I heard your very dramatic sigh.” He hunches over Morisuke’s desk, examining him. “What’s up?”

Kuroo is an attentive captain and a good friend. He notices when people have problems. It’s usually Morisuke who actually does things about Kuroo’s observations, like tutoring struggling first years or bringing soup to sick teammates. But, apparently, when Morisuke is in distress the caretaking falls to Kuroo.

Morisuke glares up at Kuroo, very resentful of his tallness all of the sudden. “I’m so sick of tall people.” He groans, leaning back in his chair and rubbing his eyes.

“So, it’s Lev?” Kuroo sits down backward in the empty desk in front of him and tilts his head. “I thought you were getting along.”

“We are.” Lev admits, very resentfully. He can’t remember the last time that he yelled at Lev and actually meant it. He still yells at Lev during practice because of course he does, but he never really needs to during their weekends. He never really wants to, either.

“So what’s the problem?” Kuroo can never sit like a normal person. No, he has to lounge, claiming all the space around him like someone might take it if he doesn’t.

“I…” And there’s the real issue. There is no problem. He likes Lev and he likes his weird, tall family and the weird japanese/russian fusion food they feed him and he really likes the weekends they spend playing volleyball and studying and sleeping smushed into Lev’s too-small bed. He’s not sure that he should like it, though. At least, not as much as he does.

He’s not really sure how to articulate all of that to Kuroo, though. At least in a way that wouldn’t make him sound insane.

“Um…”

“Hey, Yaku.” Kuroo is smiling at him, pleased and knowing, and all of the sudden Morisuke feels like the other boy can tell exactly what he’s thinking. Morisuke tenses, suddenly very worried for whatever the next words are going to be. He genuinely likes Kuroo and considers the other boy his friend, but there is no denying that Kuroo can be an utter bastard when he feels like it.

“What?” He looks at Kuroo, wary.

Kuroo’s smile widens to a full-on smirk. Morisuke expects the worst.

“Don’t let anybody tell you how to feel but you.”

“W-what?” That is not what he expected. Kuroo just shrugs, smirk falling as his gaze fixes on the ceiling instead of on Morisuke.

“You’ll figure it out.” He stretches, a liquid movement that moves all the way down from his head to his toes. He stands, lips quirked into a small smile. “Good luck, man.”

He leaves Morisuke staring after him. Part of him is completely bewildered by the exchange.

The rest of him really, really isn’t.

^^^^^^^^

That Saturday morning finds Morisuke in the Haiba’s kitchen, watching as Lev’s mother makes tea. Her hands are long-fingered, graceful. She works with a careful precision that Morisuke envies. He thinks she’d probably be good at volleyball with hands like those.

The kitchen is quiet and dripping with morning sunlight. Ilia is at work and Yana and Lev are still upstairs sleeping. As usual, Morisuke isn’t quite sure where Lev’s illusive father is and he doesn’t know how to ask.

“You’re starting university next year.” Lev’s mother hums. Morisuke doesn’t answer her because it isn’t a question. She knows he is. Her lips pull into a sad smile. “We will miss you.”

Morisuke swallows. “I’ll miss you all too.”

For a minute, they sit in silence. She pours him some tea and slides the mug across the counter. He takes it with a murmur of thanks. She pours her own then stands across the counter from him, eyes considering. “I’m very glad that Lev joined the volleyball team.” She says, apropos of nothing. “They were never kind to him, on the basketball team.”

Morisuke laughs despite himself. “I’m not exactly kind to your son, Habai-san.”

She smiles at him. “No, you’re his friend.” She is remarkably pretty, when she smiles. “That’s different.”

Those words stick in Morisuke’s brain, for some reason. That’s different. He won’t argue with it. Different is certainly something that his relationship with Lev is.

He’s known Lev for about five months. Not very long, in the scheme of things. He’s known the clerk at the convenience store by his house for longer than five months. Lev shouldn’t feel as essential as he does. Morisuke shouldn’t feel like needs Lev to be happy. But he does. And, frankly, it scares him a little bit.

His thoughts must show on his face because Lev’s mother prods the tea closer to him. “Drink.” She encourages him. “Tea helps.”

“Tea helps what?” He mutters, but he sips it obediently.

“Whatever you need it to.” She leans more heavily on the counter, so she is eye-level with him. “Lev is a very honest boy.” She says. Morisuke sips his tea. “He isn’t one to hide his feelings, Yaku-san.”

“Morisuke is fine.” He says quietly and she beams at him.

He would really like to pretend he has no idea what she’s on about. He’d like to pretend he doesn’t know what the gleam in her eye means. But he’s never been any good at pretending, not really.

He gets it and it scares him more than just a little bit.

Because it means that this weirdness, the intense need to be closer and to be more, isn’t just him. Lev feels it too. If he thought about it a little harder, he might be able to give it a name.

But he doesn’t dare. Not yet.

They sit in silence for a while longer, listening to the birds singing and finishing their tea, before Lev tromps down the stairs clad in scarlet boxers and bedhead. His entire face brightens when he sees Morisuke and Morisuke feels his pulse beat an erratic rhythm as the other boy comes closer.

“Morning, Yaku-saaaan.” Lev chirps, accepting tea from his mother.

“Morning, Lev.” Morisuke murmurs.

They sit there beside each other and Morisuke could swear that he feels every inch between Lev’s bare shoulder and his clothed one.

Oh no, oh no, oh no.

^^^^^^^^

Their weekend is as normal as Morisuke can possibly make it. He scolds Lev for not paying attention to his schoolwork for a few hours and then, deciding that the weather is too cold for exercise, they spend the time after dinner playing video games. Morisuke is really bad at video games. Lev beats him almost every time and, the few times that Morisuke actually wins seem likely to be the product of pity.

“Kenma would still absolutely wipe the floor with both of us.” Morisuke sighs, setting down his control after a few hours and admitting defeat. “But you’re better than I thought you’d be, Lev.”

“Nah.” Lev grins at him, unrepentant. “I’m not actually all that good. Yaku-san is just really bad.”

“Hey!” Morisuke grabs a pillow off of Lev’s bed and chucks it at his head. Lev laughs, hugging the pillow to his chest. “Take it back!” He growls, though admittedly there isn’t all that much force behind it.

“I won’t.” Lev smirks. “Besides, it’s nice to know that Yaku-san isn’t good at everything.”

Morisuke’s eyes go wide. “Wha…” He shakes his head, trying to get his bearings back. “I’m not good at everything, Lev.”

“You’re good at school and at being friends and at volleyball.” Lev slumps over, his torso landing across Morisuke’s lap. “You’re good at all the important things.”

“Except video games, apparently.” His voice is a bit breathless, even to his own ears. He should really push Lev off and complain at the other boy for not respecting his personal space. But he doesn’t actually want Lev to respect his personal space, apparently. Apparently, he wants Lev to forget that his personal space is even a thing.

Ugh. This is so stupid.

Lev continues to lie across Morisuke’s lap like a gigantic cat and Morisuke stares out the windows, examing the frost on pane.

Winter is truly here. The end of Morisuke’s high school career is creeping steadily up on him. He looks down at Lev, spread across his lap and thinks about what Kuroo said. Don’t let anyone tell you what to feel but you.

This is stupid. What he wants is stupid. But he doesn’t want to leave high school with any regrets. And not telling Lev about what he’s feeling...he thinks that he would regret that.

“Lev.”

“Yaku-san?” Lev hums, drowsy.

“Let’s go for a walk.”

“Now?” Lev blinks.

“Yes now.”

Lev pushes himself up and out of Morisuke’s lap. He misses the warmth briefly and then stands, enjoying the brief second where Lev is still sitting and he gets to be taller. Then Lev stands and everything is normal again. Or, as normal as things can be.

“C’mon.” Morisuke sighs reluctantly. “Let’s go.”

“Okay.” Lev just obeys him. Morisuke is pretty sure it’s ingrained in him like a reflex at this point.

They both put on their coats and hats and gloves in silence. Morisuke still has the awful orange gloves that Lev gave him more than a month ago. They clash spectacularly with his coat.They creep down the stairs, careful not to wake anyone.

They’re outside his door and halfway down the street before Lev thinks to ask, “Where are we going?”

Morisuke really shouldn’t find it endearing, but he does. He is so, so screwed.

“I need to talk to you about something.” He admits.

Lev glances at him. “Why can’t we talk in my room?”

Morisuke doesn’t really have a good answer. Lev’s room just felt too normal, too comfortable. Everything that this conversation isn’t. “I…” He swallows. “I didn’t want to ruin it. In case this goes wrong, I mean.” He shoves his hands in his pockets, balling them into fists.

Lev’s eyes gleam in the glare from a streetlight. His neighborhood is outside the city, a bit, so the street they’re on is empty.

Morisuke leads the way, eventually stopping at a small, empty park. It’s just a pair of swings with tangled chains and a patch of frosty, dead grass. Morisuke sits on one of the swing, feet brushing the ground. Beside him, Lev sits too. His knees threaten to hit his chin.

The night is bitterly cold. Morisuke can see his breath when he exhales, lit up orange thanks to the streetlight overhead. He glances up. Something, either clouds or smog, is covering the stars beyond. He sighs. There are likely perfect nights for confessing. This isn’t one of them.

He glances at Lev. The other boy is watching him, tugging on his scarf and biting his lips like he wants to speak but is waiting for Morisuke’s permission. Morisuke swallows. Perfect nights are well and good, but all he really wants is the boy sitting beside him.

“So I graduate soon.” He says.

Lev nods.

“And you’re really, really tall.”

Lev nods again.

“And you are, on occasion, incredibly obnoxious.”

Lev tilts his head and opens his mouth like he wants to disagree. Morisuke glares and he relents into a kind of half-nod.

“What I’m trying to say is that this is really stupid.”

“What’s really stupid?” Lev is whispering, like he isn’t sure if he’s supposed to talk yet or not.

Morisuke looks at him. His eyes and hair gleam orange in the glow of the streetlight. He sighs, completely defeated. “Me. Liking you.” He shakes his head. This is all his fault. He never should have gotten involved with tall people. It never ended well. “I like you.”

Lev is still staring at him with wide, gleaming eyes. He seems lost for words. Morisuke has to look away.

“You like me?” Lev’s voice is full of wonder. “You know, like like and not just friend like?”

“Yes, you idiot.” Morisuke mumbles, staring down at his feet. They’re smaller than Lev’s by a lot. Sometimes, Lev being two years younger than him seems impossible.

“I knew it!” “What?” Morisuke is too surprised to even be mad. He isn’t sure what response he expected from Lev, but yelling “I knew it” and punching the air certainly wasn’t it. "I knew you liked me!" Lev looks incredibly triumphant. "I knew it, I knew it!"

He probably would have probably gone on like that for a while longer, but Morisuke reaches over and hits him upside the head. “People are sleeping, you idiot!”

“Mom and Dad both told me to tell you, you know.” Lev continues to babble, ignoring the interruption. “Ilia did too. He said you’d be okay with it, even if you didn’t feel the same way. Yana said I should wait until graduation because it was more romantic like that.” He rolls his eyes “Can you believe that?”

“You told them?” Morisuke would like to say that he doesn’t shriek the words. He would also be lying.

“Of course I did.” Lev frowns. “Didn’t you talk to your family about it?”

“Um, no.” Morisuke pictures telling his straight-laced, proper parents that he had a crush on a tall, male, half-russian first-year on his volleyball team. It would, at least, be a surefire way to gain their attention. He clears his throat, ignoring that realization that he likely will have to tell them eventually. “I did talk to Kuroo, a bit.”

“You really should talk to your family, though.” Lev says, swinging back and forth a little. “They would probably like to know.”

Morisuke sighs, tugging at his hair. This is not the conversation he wanted to have tonight. “Everybody’s family is different, Lev.” He says. “Not every family is as...close as yours.”

“Oh.”

“Mine isn’t bad or anything. It’s just...different.”

“Different?” Lev murmurs, eyes tracking Morisuke’s lips the way that they tracked a volleyball on the court.

Morisuke swallows, feeling exposed. “Yes.” He looks away. “Different.”

For a minute, they’re both silent. Then, Lev speaks. “I’m going to kiss you now, if that’s okay.”

Morisuke doesn’t protest, even though he can hear his heart pounding in his ears. He wants Lev to kiss him. He’s not sure how long, exactly, he’s wanted this, but right now it is all he can think about.

Lev leans over, and down of course, and kisses him.

Morisuke kissed a girl once, back in his first year of high school. He remembers her soft lips and her delicate hands on his face. His kiss with Lev...it’s different. Not better or worse, just very, very different.

It doesn’t last very long. The angle is awkward, thanks to both the height difference and the swings, and Lev’s nose presses hard against his. But his lips are soft and eager and Morisuke doesn’t stand a chance against a kiss like that, he really doesn’t.

The swings wobble a bit as they part, caught between moving back and forth or side to side. Morisuke is breathing hard, like they were just running instead of kissing. He sees Lev doing the same beside him, exhales rising in tiny clouds in the cold air, and, for some reason, it makes the panic rising in his chest abate.

“Hey.” Morisuke says.

“Yaku-san?” Lev is wide-eyed in the dim streetlight.

Morisuke bites his bottom lip to contain a smile and reaches out to grab Lev’s hand and take it in his own. Their hands tangle together like the swing chains, gloved fingers overlapping and making nonsense shapes. Lev’s hand is big and warm, like the rest of him.

“This isn’t going to be easy.” Morisuke murmurs, his thumb resting over the pulse in Lev’s wrist. “I’m leaving soon. And you’ve still got school and volleyball…”

“We can do it.” Lev smiles widely and Morisuke feels the way he does right after Lev hits a perfect spike, like Lev can do just about anything if he wants to.

“You know.” Morisuke lets himself smile, just for Lev. “I think that we can.”

^^^^^^^^

Morisuke doesn’t want to tell the volleyball team that he and Lev are (and he internally cringes here) dating. He really, really doesn’t. He’s pretty sure that Kuroo would be annoying yet supportive and Kenma would absolutely not care, but the he isn’t sure about the others.

He isn’t worried for himself. The Spring Highs are right around the corner and after that, he can just stop coming if the rest of the team doesn’t want him there.But Lev has more than two more years with this team. He doesn’t want to make things harder than they have to be.

Unfortunately, Lev doesn’t seem to be on the same wavelength.

Morisuke wakes up Monday to a record number of text messages. He only has to glance at a few of them to realize what they’re about. He dials Lev’s number from memory.

“Yaku-san!” Lev says brightly. “Are we doing lovey-dovey phone calls in the morning?”

“No!” Morisuke snarls. “We are not doing lovey-dovey phone calls in the morning! We are not doing lovey-dovey phone calls ever!”

“Aw.” Lev has the gall to sound disappointed. For a moment, Morisuke finds himself literally mute with rage. “So, why did you call, Yaku-san? Couldn’t wait until practice to talk to me?”

“I...you…”

“Take your time, Yaku-san!” Morisuke has to stop a take a deep breath. He did this to himself. This torture is completely self-inflicted. He deserves this.

“Why,” He begins with hard-won (and mostly fake) calm, “Did the entire volleyball team text me demanding to know if I was really dating you?”

“Well, it’s probably because I told them that you were dating me, Yaku-san.”

“Lev.” Morisuke is fighting very hard to stay calm. “What on earth possessed you to tell them that.

“Well, it’s the truth. We are dating. We kissed and everything!” Morisuke can hear rustling in the background. Lev is probably getting dressed or maybe getting ready to take a shower...ngh. These are not good thoughts to be having when he is trying to be mad.

“Uh, right.” Morisuke swallows, trying to get back on track. “I don’t get why you told them, though.”

“They’re our friends, they should know.” More rustling fabric. Morisuke kind of wants to die.

“You could have waited a little, at least.” Morisuke sighs, crossing his legs and valiantly trying not to picture Lev in the shower.

“I didn’t want to lead Kenma on anymore, Yaku-san.” Lev’s voice is serious. “I think he really likes me and it wouldn’t be fair not to let him know that I’m taken now.”

“Lev,” Morisuke groans. “I am absolutely positive that the only things Kenma really likes are video games, and very occasionally, Kuroo.”

“Yaku-san, I’m very talented.” Lev’s voice is slow, like he’s explaining this to someone who is exceptionally slow. “I’m pretty sure that anyone would want to date Nekoma’s ace.”

“Ugh.” Morisuke drags a hand down his face. “At this point, even I don’t want to date you.” He thinks about Lev in the shower again. He is definitely lying.

“You don’t mean that, Yaku-san.” Lev says confidently. “You like me.”

Morisuke can’t even find it in himself to be properly enraged at him or even to produce a flimsy, token argument. It might be possible that he finds Lev’s absolute idiocy endearing. It is an absolutely horrifying thought.

“I like that you like me,” Lev continues. “So I told the team. I thought that it was okay.”

“Lev, you have to know that our situation isn’t exactly...normal.” Morisuke says. “Some people might not take it very well, you know.”

“Are you...are you mad at me, Yaku-san?” Lev suddenly sounds uncharacteristically worried.

Morisuke sighs. “No, Lev. Just...it’s not just you in this,” He stops and fights the urge to bury his head in his blankets and never come out. “Relationship.” He spits the word out through gritted teeth.“We need to make decisions like this one together, okay?”

“Okay!” Lev chirps. “I won’t let you down again, Yaku-san.”

“Okay, Lev.” Morisuke clambers out of bed. “I’ll see you at practice.”

“See you!” Lev hangs up and Morisuke is absolutely disgusted with himself when he realizes that, for the last couple minutes, he’s been smiling without even meaning to.

^^^^^^^^

Meeting up with the team that morning is...weird. Morisuke expected at least a few people to be upset with him. He’d be lying if he claimed that he wasn’t a bit anxious walking into the club room for morning practice. He had faith in most of them to at least be quietly disgruntled rather than out and out hostile. He expected glares, maybe some derisive comments.

What he did not expect was a complete lack of reaction from any of them. A couple call out lazy greeting and one or two wave, but for the most part he’s ignored. It’s the same as any morning. He stands in the doorway blinking for a long moment.

“What is it, Yaku?” Kuroo leers over at him from where he stands in the corner, pulling his shirt over his head. “Something wrong?”

“Uh.” Morisuke sets down his bag. “You all got Lev’s messages, right?”

“Oh, right.” Kuroo walks over and slaps him on the back. Morisuke stumbles and then glares at him. “Congratulations.” Kuroo smiles. “Glad to see you took my advice about that.”

“So, everybody knows?”

“Yep.”

“Everybody?”

“Lev mass texted the whole team. Said it was more efficient that way. There were lots of emojis...I think you might be the cat one”

God.” Morisuke snarls with feeling. “He’s such trash. He’s so dumb.”

“Hey, you’re the one dating him.” Kuroo holds up his hands in surrender. “Which, by the way, means that Kenma wins the pool.” The last part is directed at the room at large. “So congrats on that, Kenma.”

Kenma looks up, expression completely flat. “We’re going to the game store after school.”

“After practice.” Kuroo corrects.

Kenma sighs. “Fine.”

“Wait.” Morisuke holds up a hand. “There was a pool? A betting pool? About what?”

“When you’d start dating.” Kai explains patiently. “It’s been going on for like a month now.”

“Couldn’t you have waited a week?” Yamamoto complains. “Then I would have won! Kenma doesn’t even want that money. Kuroo made him enter!”

“It was a mandatory team bonding exercise.” Kuroo replies archly. “He had to participate.” Yamamoto huffs, Inuoka giggles and Kenma shakes his head. Morisuke is still feeling distinctly unbalanced, the way that he feels after missing a step on the stairs he was sure was there.

He turns to Kai, desperate for answers. “Yaku...come on.” Kai sighs. “It’s not like Lev’s been subtle about it.”

“You knew?”Morisuke gapes like a fish. “You all knew?”

“Uh, yeah?” Kai looks extremely uncomfortable. “He’s kind of...all over you, Yaku. All of the time. For, like, months now”

“ Oh god.” Morisuke puts his face in his hands. “I’m an idiot. I’m such an idiot.”

Kuroo slaps him on the shoulder. “Well, admitting that is the first step.” Morisuke resolutely keeps his face in his hands. He is never coming out. He is going to die here, in the club room hiding his face in his hands. “Not that this isn’t fun, but we’ve got Spring Highs soon. Let’s get out there and practice, guys.”

Morisuke continues to stand there until everyone leaves. "Yaku-san? What are you doing?" Lev's voice sounds a few moments after the rest troop out. 

"They all knew, Lev." Morisuke says with his face still in his hands. "All of them." 

"About what?" 

"What do you think, Lev?" Morisuke hisses. 

"Oh." Morisuke feels Lev put his hands on his shoulders. "That's neat. We didn't even have to bother telling them!" He laughs. "It's kind of funny, when you think about it." 

Morisuke drops his hands to glare at Lev. "Aren't you even a little bit embarrassed?" He demands. 

Lev just shrugs. "Not really. I like you. You like me. It's not embarrassing, Yaku-san."

 

Lev leans forward and kisses him and all of the sudden Morisuke isn't embarrassed anymore either. He's too distracted by Lev and the hands that are pulling him ever-closer. Lev's lips are warm and soft and wow, Morisuke really wants to explore that further and see if all of his skin is that soft...

“Hey, no making out in the club room.” Morisuke pulls away from Lev frantically and spins to see Kuroo standing in the doorway with a shit-eating grin on his face.

“We weren’t…!” Morisuke splutters.

“Aw, c’mon.” Lev is pouting. Morisuke fails in his general direction, trying to make him shut up.

“Lev!” Morisuke hisses. Kuroo is still leaning against the doorframe, smirking. “Sorry.” He says to Kuroo. And then, more to Lev than Kuroo, he adds. “It won’t happen again.”

“Not ever?” Lev looks devastated. “You’re not going to kiss me again ever?”

“No, you idiot!” Morisuke snaps. “I’m not going to kiss you in the clubroom! I’ll...you know…” He trails off, very aware of Kuroo watching them.

“You’ll kiss me other places?” Lev looks marginally less devastated. He sighs. “I guess that’s okay.”

Morisuke storms away. “Oh my god, I hate you.”

“No you don’t!” Lev crows and happily follows him out of the clubroom.

Kuroo follows then both, snickering all the while. “This is so dysfunctional.”

Morisuke sighs. “Yeah, I know.” Lev falls into step and grabs his hand. Lev’s hand is warm and Morisuke can’t find it in himself to be mad anymore. “I know.”

^^^^^^^^

 

The next few weeks are weirdly normal.

Pretty much all of Morisuke’s friends are on the team, so there’s no worrying about telling people about his shiny new boyfriend. It’s not like it’s a secret, it’s more like no one actually cares enough to be bothered.

The worst thing that happens is a couple of second years shouting abuse as he walks to the train station one day after practice. The next day, he catches Kuroo and Lev looming over the second years and looking generally intimidating. Morisuke forgets that Lev actually looks kind of intimidating to people who don’t know how much of an idiot he is. And Kuroo has a leering smirk that makes you feel like the flesh is peeling off your bones. The second years look genuinely terrified. Morisuke is sure that they won’t be bothering him again.

It feels...kind of nice to see Lev and Kuroo defending him like that. He’s absolutely going to give them shit for it later, but still. It’s nice.

Morisuke spends most of the winter holidays over at Lev’s house. It’s easy. The Haiba’s all know that they’re dating, so Morisuke doesn’t have to worry about accidentally standing too close to Lev or lacing their fingers together when the urge strikes him. Ilia rolls his eyes and makes gagging noises when he sees and Yana giggles, but other than that...things are pretty normal.

They spend a lot of time making out in Lev’s brightly colored bed, hands sliding up shits and lips wandering over collarbones. It never goes that far. Lev is young and Morisuke is inexperienced and they both fumble around with more enthusiasm than skill. Despite that, it’s hot and breathless and fun. Lev giggles against Morisuke’s lips and makes terrible jokes and Morisuke thinks he might be falling in love, just a little.

The days are fun too. They play volleyball outside despite the bitter cold and wander around Tokyo, stopping at the restaurant that Ilia works at. Lev holds Morisuke’s hand the whole time, insisting that no one can see.

Morisuke knows that people can see.

But the truth is, he doesn’t really care that much.

^^^^^^^^

“We should go to your house, Yaku-san!” Lev proposes for what is probably the eighty-fifth time. “I want to see it!”

Break is close to over and they’re both sitting in Lev’s room, avoiding the homework that they didn’t do over break. Lev is spinning a volleyball in his hands. Morisuke is checking emails on his phone. It takes him a moment to register Lev’s question.

“First of all no.” Morisuke snaps, looking up from his phone. “Second, it’s an apartment not a house. Third, I am never taking you there. Fourth, I am never telling you where it is so there is no way for you to sneak there either.”

“I bet Kuroo would tell me.” Lev pouts and folds his arms across his chest.

“Do you really think that I would let Kuroo know where I live?” Morisuke raises an eyebrow.

Lev laughs at that, leaning in to Morisuke’s space. He’s big and warm and smells like clean clothes and soap. “I like you a lot, Yaku-san.” He says eventually, head rested on Morisuke’s thigh.

Morisuke runs a hand through his hair, It’s so pale. “I like you too, you idiot.” He hums. For a couple of minutes, they stay like that. Then, “Why do you even want to come to my apartment, anyway?”

Lev does his best to shrug while lying on the floor. “Yaku-san gets to see where I live all the time.” He looks up, eyes hooded and sleepy. “S’not fair. I want to go to your house now.”

“Lev…” Morisuke sighs, hand stilling in Lev’s hair. “It’s not honestly that great.”

“Yaku-san…” Lev whines. “People who date are supposed to see each other’s houses, you know.”

“Ugh.” He’s silent for a long moment. Then, “Fine.” He gives up. He usually does, with Lev. “We can go tomorrow.”

“Yay~” Lev hums, sleepy. Morisuke starts petting his hair again, trying to ignore the useless and frankly stupid dread that he feels.

^^^^^^^^

They go to Morisuke’s apartment that afternoon. The train ride is short and Lev keeps making stupid jokes that make Morisuke laugh even though he doesn’t want to. But despite that, Morisuke is worried.

His apartment is just so different than Lev’s. He doesn’t understand, most days, how they fit together as well as they do with how different they are.

Morsiuke can’t decide if Lev’s intense enthusiasm upon seeing the lobby, the stairwell and the front door is genuine or not. He kind of hopes that it’s fake. He doesn’t think that his two-bedroom apartment will live up to the hype.

“Come on.” He unlocks the door and ushers Lev inside. “Let’s go.”

He leads the way to his bedroom instinctively. His bedroom is small and neat. His comforter is grey and his sheets are black. Everything matches and has its place. He can feel Lev beside him, looking at it and taking in its contents. He feels disturbingly exposed and he can’t figure out why.

It’s just a room.

“I like it.” Lev decides before bounding over to sit on the bed. He waggles his eyebrows. “Wanna join me, Yaku-saaan?”

Morisuke picks up a sweater on the peg by the door and chucks it at him. “I’m going to get a drink.” He announces and stalks out of the room.

Lev stops him before he gets to the kitchen, a hand on his shoulder. “Hey.” He says. “Are you okay, Yaku-san?”

Morisuke shakes his head, dragging an agitated hand through his hair. “It’s just...weird for me. To have you here, I mean.”

“Good weird or bad weird?” Lev tilts his head to the side,

“Just, I don’t know, weird weird.” Morisuke huff in frustration. “I’m not mad or anything. We’re just so different, Lev. It’s hard to think about sometimes.”

“It would be boring if we were the same though. We’re so good together because we’re so different, you know?” Lev says, like it’s obvious. And really, it kind of is.

Morisuke laughs without meaning to. “You’re such an idiot.” He smiles at Lev. “But then sometimes you just…” He trails off, laughing again. “This is so stupid.”

“It’s okay, Yaku-san. Even if we’re different, I still like you.”

“Yeah.” Morisuke walks to stand in front of Lev and wrap his arms around the other boy. “I still like you too.”

He stands on his tiptoes and grabs Levs’ shoulders, bringing him down for a kiss. Lev leans forward, pressing his lips against Morisuke’s. He kisses with enthusiasm like he always does, but it’s more skillful now than it was at the start. They’ve both gotten a quite a bit of experience in these last few weeks. Lev bites down on gently Morisuke’s lower lip, making him groan.

Morisuke grips the front of Lev’s shirt hard and pulls him lower, making his mouth easier to reach.They kiss like that for a few moments with Morisuke steadily steering Lev backwards until the other boy is pressed against the wall. “So forceful, Yaku-san.” He breathes, lips against Morisuke’s ear.

He shivers and grips the hem of Lev’s shirt. “Shut up, Lev.” Morisuke mumbles, leaning up to kiss the place where Lev’s neck meets his shoulder. He pulls at the hem of Lev’s shirt. “Can I?” He asks, head tilted back so he can meet Lev’s eyes. Lev nods immediately and Morisuke shoves the shirt up, trying to get it off.

Lev giggles. “Yaku-san that tickles!” He protests between hiccupy giggles.

“Fine!” Morisuke growls. “You take it off, then!”

Lev does so, dropping his shirt on the floor. “You’re so bossy, Yaku-san.” He says.

Morisuke cuts Lev off by grabbing him by the waistband of his pants and dragging him forward. He presses himself flush against the other boy, acutely aware of everywhere their bodies touch. “Just come here.” He mumbles, lips pressing against Lev’s collarbone. He can feel the other boy’s rapid heartbeat against his chest. Lev leans down and recaptures Morisuke’s lips with his own. He feels the wet, warm feeling of Lev’s tongue against his lower lip and opens his mouth, head tilting, when...

Morisuke?” A shriek interrupts them and Morisuke looks over to see his mother standing just inside the door.

Morisuke freezes, his hands still tucked in the waistband on Lev’s pants. For a moment, they all remain frozen in an absurd tableau of what has to the be the worst parent-boyfriend introduction of all time.

“What are you doing?” His mother finally breaks the silence.

“Um.” Morisuke detaches from Lev. “Hi mom.”

There’s another moment of horrible, stifling silence.

“Uh, Yaku-san…” Lev says.

“Not now, Lev!” Morisuke hisses. He bends down and picks up Lev’s shirt from the floor, very aware of the way his mother is looking at him and at Lev. He shoves the shirt back at the other boy. “Just...put that on.”

“Morisuke…” His mother is growing paler and paler as time goes on. “Who’s this?”

“This is Lev.” He says. “We’re teammates. For volleyball. At school.” He swallows. This is so bad, oh my god, this is so so so bad. “He was just leaving!”

“I was?” Lev blinks.

“So help me god, Lev.” Morisuke hisses, trying and failing to get a handle on the panic rising in his chest. “Just go.”

“Yaku-san…”

Go, Lev.” Morisuke snaps. “Now.”

Lev goes.

Morisuke is alone with his mother now. It is not really an improvement.

“Would you care to explain what exactly you were doing when I walked in?” She hasn’t moved from her position a few steps from the door. She’s still holding her keys in one hand and her briefcase in the other.

“No?” Morisuke tries.

Morisuke.” She snaps.

“Fine!” He grinds out, tangling a hand in his hair. “I was kissing boyfriend.”

Her eyes go wide and he worries for a moment that she’ll pass out. She sets her keys on the table by the door and her briefcase on the floor. Morisuke stands, tense and still, as she takes a few tottering steps before collapsing on the couch. “You boyfriend.” She echoes, the words hollow.

“I...yes.” He swallows. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”

“How long, Morisuke?” She asks after a few more painfully silent seconds.

“A few weeks.” He sighs, finally walking over and settling on the couch beside her. He is careful to keep a foot or so of space between them. There’s more silence. Morisuke never thought it was possible to hate the absence of something this much. But he wants some sort of noise, needs it, is desperate for something beside the hum of the refridgerator and his mother’s too-fast breathing.

“And you… you’re sure about this, Morisuke?” She finally asks. He looks at her, examines the tightness around her eyes.

Morisuke raises his chin. He’s never fought his parents on anything, not really. He .. They’ve never been close, but it’s been easy, simple.

As usual, Lev is complicating things.

“I really like him mom.” He says. “I know he’s not the sort of person you expected me to date. He’s not the sort of person I expected to date either. He’s a boy and he’s loud and he’s obnoxious and he doesn’t know how to follow directions, like, at all and he’s so tall that sometimes I think that he might step on me and not notice, but…”

“But?”

“He makes me happy.” Morisuke shrugs, helpless, and meets her eyes. “I know that dating him won’t be easy because of what other people think, but being with him...that part is easy. For me.”

“I’ve never seen you like someone like this before.” She sighs, heavy and tired. “I won’t pretend that I understand, but I won’t go against you.”

Morisuke blinks, nonplussed. “You won’t?” As soon as she walked in, he assumed that it would end badly. At the very least, he expected her to at least disapprove.

She smiles, tired and still a bit shocked, but real. “Would it change anything if I did?” He shakes his head and her smiles widens a little. “You’re old enough to make your own decisions, Morisuke. If this is something that’s important to you, then I’ll try to accept it.”

“It is.” He assures her. “It’s important to me, I mean. He is. Lev. My boyfriend.” She cringes a little on the word boyfriend. but Morisuke doesn’t really blame her. He still kind of cringes when he says the word.

He swallows, looking away. “Are you going to tell Dad about this?” He asks. She’s silent for a moment. Morisuke continues to stare at the carpet.

Then, “Do you want me to tell him?”

“Not...not yet.” He decides. He’s not close with his father. He never has been. His mother might be busy and a little bit distant, but she’s come to a few of his games and made a point to ask him about school and his friends when they have dinner. She knows him, at least a little. He isn’t sure if his father knows him at all.

He looks up at his mother, decision made. “I’ll tell him when I leave for university, okay?”

She folds her arms. “Well, okay.” She agrees reluctantly. “I wish I could tell you that he’ll take it well, but…” She trails off, shaking her head. “Just...be discreet will this boy, okay?”

Morisuke doesn’t want to be discreet. He wants to hold Lev’s hand and take stupid couple pictures with him and go on dates with him and give him chocolates on valentine’s day. He wants that. But, for his mother’s peace of mind, he nods and he lies. “Okay, I’ll be discreet.”

^^^^^^^^

It’s warm enough now that a sweater is all Morisuke needs to put on before heading out to find Lev. He doesn’t find him in the hallway right outside his apartment, which is honestly what he expected, or in the lobby. He pulls out his phone with a frown and dials Lev’s number.

“Hello?” Lev answers on the second ring, sounding absolutely miserable. His voice is thick and nasally, like he’s caught a bad headcold.

“Lev?” Morisuke says. “Are you...are you crying?”

“No!” The indignation in Lev’s voice makes it pretty clear that he’s lying. “I am not!”

“Uh, right, whatever.” Morisuke leans against the wall of the lobby, fingers tapping on the wall behind him. “Where are you?”

“Where am I?” Lev repeats with a sniff.

“Yes, you idiot.” Morisuke huffs. “Where did you go?”

“Back to the train station…”

Morisuke rolls his eyes and leans away from the wall. “Well hang on.” He says. “I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.”

“Y-you’re coming here?” Lev shouts.

Morisuke flinches away from the phone. Lev is so loud sometimes. “Yes, idiot. I need to talk to you.”

“Oh.” Lev’s voice is quiet, maybe quieter than Lev has ever heard it. “Okay, Yaku-san.”

“See you soon.”

“Yeah, okay.” Yaku hangs up the phone and slides it back into his pocket, feeling like he missed something. Whatever. He’ll see Lev in a minute.

The walk to the train station is short and unseasonably sunny. He still feels sick about the confrontation with his mother, but it ended so much better than he thought it would. She isn’t mad. She doesn’t hate him. She knows about Lev and...it’s okay.

It’s not perfect. But it’s enough.

He spots Lev, tall and pale and conspicuous, leaning against the wall.

“Hey!” He shouts and waves, making his way through the crowd towards Lev. “Lev!”

Lev catches sight and gives him a wobbly smile. His eyes are red. He really has been crying.

“Hey.” Morisuke stands in front of him and reaches up to cup his jaw the best he can with the height difference. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

“It’s okay, Yaku-san.” He continues to smile, wobbly and wrong. “We can still be friends if you want. Or I can just leave you alone.”

“Lev, what are you talking about?” Morisuke frowns. “Why would you leave me alone?”

“I thought that most people wanted space after they break up.” He sniffs.

“Break up?” Morisuke drops his hands, panicked. “You’re breaking up with me? Why?”

“You broke up with me, Yaku-san!” Lev glowers at him, looking like a giant, petulant child.

“What?” Morisuke goggles at him. “No I didn’t!”

“You told me to go!” Lev says.

“Yeah, because I didn’t want you to have to watch me fight with my mom.”

“Yaku-san...”

“Idiot.” Morisuke says and socks him in the side, but keeps the hit gentle. “I just needed to talk to my mom alone for a few minutes. I said some really cool things to her, you know.” Morisuke looks up at Lev. “Things about how I liked you and wasn’t going to stop being with you. It would make me look pretty stupid if we stopped dating now."

Lev’s eyes go wide. “So...you aren’t breaking up with me?”

“Idiot.” Morisuke huffs. “I told you. I like you. Breaking up with you when I still like you would be stupid.”

“But your mom…”

Morisuke waves a hand. “She’s not mad.” He says. “Disappointed and kind of confused, sure, but not mad. I told her I was going to keep dating you.” He glances up, make sure Lev is looking at him. “So, as long as we’re together, I don’t think she’ll actually say or do anything to stop is.”

“Oh.”

“Yep.”

For a beat, they stand together in silence and watch the trains come and go. “How long are we going to be together, Yaku-san?” Lev asks eventually, reaching over and tangling their fingers together like they did the first time they kissed.

“For as long as I keep liking you, you idiot.” Morisuke squeezes Lev’s hand. Lev squeezes back.

“Huh.” Lev hums. “When do you think you’ll stop liking me?”

Morisuke shrugs, shifting closer to Lev. “I don’t think I will.”

“Oh.” Lev is biting his lip, hiding a smile. “That sounds pretty good, Yaku-san.”

"Yeah. I think so too." Morisuke doesn’t say anything else. There’s a lot he needs to say, about his parents and about family dinners and about pitying looks that he absolutely can’t stand. But for now, he tightens his grip on Lev’s hand and holds on.

^^^^^^^^

Morisuke is surrounded by tall people.

But this time, it’s by his own choosing. It’s fine. He’s accepted that he’s probably crazy. If you hang around crazy people long enough, they infect you. Like the plague. Morisuke is resigned to his fate. A silent martyr suffering for the greater good. He’s like Gandhi, probably.

“Oi, Yaku!” Kuroo shouts at him. “You coming?”

“Yeah, wait up!” Morisuke runs the few steps between him and the rest of the team. They’re headed to the Lev’s house for an apparent strategy session that Morisuke knows will end in pizza and video games.

He breathes deep, stays calm, thinks Gandhi thoughts.

“He can’t help it.” Lev is grinning at him. “His legs are so short. It’s hard for him to keep up.”

“You are just the worst.” Morisuke elbows him in the side, then proceeds to grab his hand and lace their fingers together.

“You two are so messed up.” Kuroo snickers. Besides him, Kenma continues to tap on his phone, obvious to the fact that Kuroo is subtly steering him around obstacles such as trees, buildings, and bikers.

“That coming from you?” Morisuke raises an eyebrow at Kenma. Kuroo just shrugs, unrepentant.

“I think it’s cute!” Inuoka says brightly.

“I changed my mind.” Morisuke mutters. “Lev isn’t the worst. You are all the worst. Like, collectively.”

“Aw!” Lev squeezes Morisuke’s hand. “I knew you liked me!”

“I hate you.”

“So sweet.”

“Seriously.” Yamamoto looks over at them. “So messed up.”

Morisuke leans a little closer to Lev. “Yeah. I’m not going to argue that.”

^^^^^^^^

It takes less than an hour before strategy has been put aside in favor of pizza and video games. They all cram into Lev’s living room, accepting sodas from his mother and getting to know his siblings. Ilia and Kuroo are getting on disturbingly well. Despite his scary appearance and unpleasant personality, Kuroo somehow manages to make friends just about everywhere.

“This is nice.” Lev hums as he and Morisuke slump together on the couch and watch Kenma destroy everyone else at Super Smash Brothers. Yamamoto had started crying a little bit ago. It was great.

“It really is.” Morisuke laces his fingers with Lev’s. Lev’s mother spots them and smiles. Despite the blush it brings to his cheeks, Morisuke smiles right back.

“Hey.” Lev says after a few minutes.

“Mmmm?” Morisuke glances up at him. The other boy is grinning.

“Let’s go to the kitchen for a couple minutes.”

“Why?” Morisuke frowns. “I already ate.”

Lev grins wider. “We could be alooone, Yaku-san.”

Morisuke snickers and lets Lev pull him into the empty kitchen, hoping that no one noticed their exit. He leans up against the counter and raises an eyebrow at Lev. “So?”

Lev grins his most shit-eating grin and leans forward to press his lips against Morisuke’s. “Mmmm.” He hums, the movement sending tingles down Morisuke’s spine. “I know something that we can do nw that we’re all alone, Yaku-san.”

“Oh?” Morisuke breathes.

“Mmmhmmm.” One of Lev’s big hands is splayed out across his back. “Spikes.”

Morisuke freezes. “What.”

Lev leans back. “Spikes, Yaku-san!” He releases Morisuke and begins to back towards the door to his yard. “Let’s go practice while we’ve got the yard to ourselves.”

Goddammit, Lev.” Morisuke growls, advancing on him.

Lev raises his hands, as if to ward him off. “Isn’t that what you thought I meant, Yaku-san?” He dances out of reach of Morisuke’s failing fists, laughing all the while.

“Lev!” Morisuke chases the other boy out into the frigid air of early spring. “Get back here!”

Lev just keeps running and laughing like an idiot. Morisuke follows, like he always does.

All of this, Lev and his family and all of it, it’s not something that he could have imagined. It’s weird and oftentimes stupid, but it’s warm and it’s happy and it’s so much fun.

He tackles Lev to the hard ground with a triumphant laugh. “I’ve got you!”

“Yeah.” Lev grins up at him. “You do.”

It’s not perfect. But it’s enough.