Winters can get cold in Japan.
In the small apartment he shares with his family, Kunimi feels that chill keenly. He’s not sure how the others can stand it. They don’t have a kotatsu table, and though Yahaba brought home a space heater, it’s usually set up in the living room. They take turns bringing it into the bedrooms at night, and Kunimi thinks that it’s unfair whenever Yahaba takes it into the room he shares with Kyoutani, seeing as Kyoutani is basically a walking space heater himself.
But when he pointed this out, Yahaba reminded him that Kyoutani felt the cold too.
Kunimi had looked at Kyoutani, standing in the doorway wearing only jeans and a sweater (instead of the shirt, sweater, jacket, and scarf Kunimi wore) with a smirk on his face and declared he was running away.
He didn’t mean it.
But he did tell Kindaichi to sleep closer to him that night. His best friend seemed nervous at the prospect, but Kunimi grabbed his arm and wrapped it around his waist, not caring about his discomfort when he needed to get warm.
Eventually Kindaichi grows used to the nights when they have to relinquish the heater, and it’s gotten to the point where he’ll move to hold Kunimi without any prompting.
He apparently gets a little too comfortable, however; something Kunimi discovers when he wakes early one morning to feel a very conspicuous shape pressing against his backside.
For a moment he freezes, not sure what to do. He’d find it funny if it’s not for the fact that just three weeks ago, Kindaichi took his hand and told him with such sincerity that he needed him. Just remembering that moment has Kunimi’s heart fluttering pathetically in his chest.
So instead of laughing, he just sits up and gets out of bed. Shivering, he slides his feet into his house slippers and makes his way into the kitchen to attempt to make coffee. He hasn’t completely gotten the hang of the coffee machine; despite the many times Kindaichi has shown him the correct way to use it.
He gets the coffee ready but then stares blankly at the multiple buttons on the machine. Slowly he pokes his finger at one, then another, furrowing his brow as he tries to remember which one makes a cappuccino. He clenches his hand into a fist, setting it against the countertop. He stares at the machine, shivering, his brain too tired to fully remember the steps he needs to take.
He’s half-contemplating getting his knife and just stabbing the damn thing, when Kindaichi comes shuffling into the room, his face oddly flushed.
“Kunimi-kun?” there’s a faint smile in his voice, and Kunimi’s neck begins to warm. “Did you forget how to make coffee?”
Kunimi looks over at him. “No, I just thought I’d work it telepathically today,” he deadpans.
Kindaichi giggles softly (which isn’t cute, Kunimi tells himself, before realizing that he’s too far gone at this point to deny anything and admits, to himself, that okay it was kind of cute). He steps forward, gently nudging Kunimi to the side.
“What are you trying to make?”
“You need milk for that,” Kindaichi says, turning to grab some from the fridge.
“Oh.” Kunimi says, grimacing inwardly. “I knew that.”
Kindaichi grins, coming back with the milk. “Watch me, okay?” he prompts, starting to go through the steps of making coffee once more.
Kunimi finds himself watching Kindaichi’s face more than whatever his hands are doing, however. He notices the flush of his cheeks and thinks back to the hard-on he felt in bed. He smirks faintly, wondering if Kindaichi got off to the thought of him. Then something in his chest tremors.
Shit. What if he got off to the thought of me?
Kunimi feels incredibly nervous suddenly. He’s never dealt with feelings like this before. He’s not sure what to do with them. Although he’s known for a while that his affection for Kindaichi went deeper than that of friendship or even as a brother, he never thought he had a chance so he buried it deep inside, trying to forget about it.
And then Kindaichi held his hand and told him he needed him.
Now he’s freaking out, thinking he should probably say something or do something.
He kind of wants to kiss him, but he doubts Kindaichi has ever been kissed, and it’s not like he’s got a ton of experience in that area himself (zero experience would be more accurate), so it’s awkward. He hates feeling awkward.
He doesn’t know what to do with his hands, for one, so he grips the countertop. Kindaichi is humming lightly under his breath. Maybe a quick little peck would be a nice first step. Something light and easy and non-awkward.
Kunimi leans up on his toes, cursing his short height. “Kindaichi,” he says, to get his friend’s attention, as he begins to move his face closer.
“Yes, Kunimi-kun?” Kindaichi turns his head while tilting it down, smacking his forehead against Kunimi’s.
Inhaling sharply in pain, Kunimi reels back, clutching at the spot where they collided. Kindaichi leans back as well, his eyes wide.
“Kunimi-kun! Are you okay?” he asks, hands reaching.
Kunimi scowls and smacks them away. “Why did you do that?”
“I didn’t mean to!”
Kunimi rubs the spot, angry with himself for attempting something like that when Kindaichi obviously wasn’t paying attention. Kindaichi’s worry starts to fade from his expression once he sees Kunimi is all right, and it’s replaced with confusion. Kunimi’s heart begins to pound faster, since he knows what he’s going to ask before Kindaichi even opens his mouth.
“What were you doing?”
A question so innocently put, and Kunimi can do nothing but turn his gaze to the coffee. “Is it done yet?”
“Oh! Yeah, I think so,” Kindaichi says, looking down at the machine.
Grateful for something to do that isn’t awkwardly standing around feeling pathetic, Kunimi steps over to the cupboards to pull down mugs for the four of them. He knows he and Kindaichi hadn’t been exactly quiet during that little exchange, and sure enough not two minutes later Yahaba and Kyoutani are entering the kitchen.
“Did you have a good sleep?” Kunimi can’t help but ask, barely containing his bitterness.
Yahaba simply smiles at him, that bastard. “Yes, we did. It was very warm.”
“I hate you,” Kunimi says without malice, as he holds out Yahaba’s mug for Kindaichi to pour the coffee, fixing it then the way he knows Yahaba likes before handing it to the man.
Kyoutani opens the fridge to begin pulling out food to make breakfast. It’s all disgustingly domestic. He fixes it with Yahaba standing beside him or hanging on his waist, as he and Kindaichi set the table. There’s no way to escape the soft murmur of Yahaba’s voice or the quiet grunting of Kyoutani’s stifled laughter, and it’s annoying because Kunimi can feel his chest aching.
He finds himself glancing sidelong at Kindaichi throughout the meal, though the other seems oblivious, as he listens intently to a story Yahaba tells them about something amusing that happened at the base the other day concerning the two lieutenants Tanaka and Nishinoya.
Sighing, Kunimi puts his elbows on the table, his chin in his hands. He slides his gaze off Kindaichi to stare at the window instead. The view is just of the building beside them, but it’s something other than Kindaichi’s face. He wonders how exactly he can get this kiss. He’s pretty sure Kindaichi was about to kiss him when he made his little confession, but the coward obviously chickened out.
Why does he have to be in love with a giant vegetable-head?
The words “in love” cause his insides to do weird things. It’s uncomfortable, and he stands abruptly. The others look at him in surprise, and he purses his lips.
“I’m going for a walk.”
They don’t try to stop him, though he can feel Kindaichi’s gaze on his back as he exits the kitchen.
It’s colder outside, but Kunimi is grateful for the sting of it against his face. It’s allowing his thoughts to clear, and the fresh air feels good in his lungs despite the bite on his teeth when he inhales through his mouth. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he makes his way toward the shops he used to frequent and lift from. His fingers begin to twitch as he walks by the doors, but he clenches them tightly and keeps walking.
He promised he wasn’t going to steal things anymore.
“Kunimi-kun! Kunimi-kun, wait up!”
Kunimi stiffens, groaning inwardly. He stops, though, and turns slightly to watch Kindaichi run after him.
“Be careful, you’re going to slip,” Kunimi says, just as Kindaichi’s foot hits a patch of ice, and he goes flying forward.
There’s a split second where Kunimi’s brain tells him that if he steps to the side he can avoid a collision. But that would mean allowing Kindaichi to hit the concrete and possibly bust something. So he resigns himself to his painful fate and stays where he is, bracing himself for impact.
Kindaichi hits him and they both tumble to the ground. Kindaichi’s taller and heavier than Kunimi, and for a moment the wind gets knocked out of him. He wheezes, and Kindaichi quickly pushes himself up on his hands, looking down at Kunimi with a horrified expression.
“Kunimi-kun! I’m so sorry!”
Kunimi realizes that this could be a perfect opportunity. He could reach up, grab the back of Kindaichi head and pull him down for a kiss right there on the sidewalk. But the cold is seeping into his clothes, his back hurts, and his hands are pinned beneath Kindaichi at an angle where he’s sure he’ll end up smacking his friend in the face if he tries to pull it free.
So instead he just sighs and stares up at the sky above, wondering why his luck sucks so badly.
“Get off of me.”
Kindaichi’s cheeks glow red, and he quickly scrambles to his feet, offering a hand to help Kunimi up as well. Kunimi contemplates not taking it, but decides that’s petty and grabs the hand, allowing Kindaichi to pull him to his feet.
“Why were you running after me anyway?” Kunimi asks, brushing the snow off his clothes as best he can.
“I just . . . wanted to make sure you weren’t going to do anything bad again,” Kindaichi admits sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand.
Kunimi shivers. “I promised I wouldn’t,” he says pointedly.
“I know, but—hey are you cold, Kunimi-kun?”
Kunimi’s teeth are chattering, so he’s about to make a sarcastic remark in response to what he perceives as a stupid question, when suddenly Kindaichi’s taking off his hat and gloves, setting the hat over Kunimi’s head and pulling it low to cover his ears, before grabbing his hands to slip the gloves onto them. They’re too big, but they’re warm, and it’s like putting his hands inside a toaster oven that’s just been turned off, heat still lingering.
“There! That should help,” Kindaichi says with a grin.
Kunimi stares down at the gloves, his heart thumping faster. He feels a little lightheaded, and Kindaichi is still holding his hands.
This is it. Do it. Do it now. Don’t be a coward.
He hesitates too long. Kindaichi drops his hands, shoving his own into his pockets, as he steps back and looks around.
“Hey, isn’t this the way back toward Block 6?”
Kunimi blinks, glancing down the street. “Oh. Yeah, I guess.”
“Do you want to visit Kenma-kun?”
Kunimi shrugs. “Sure.”
Kindaichi seems excited at the prospect of seeing the guy, so Kunimi tags along, walking alongside Kindaichi and only half-listening to him ramble about a game Kenma has that Kindaichi’s never played before that he’s thinking of trying this time. His hands remain inside his jacket pockets, so Kunimi places his own in his, guessing handholding is out of the question as well.
He’s starting to realize that he’s really bad at this romance thing.
It’s another night without the space heater. Kunimi sits on the edge of the bed, dressed in his flannel pajamas (the ugly ones with the yellow ducks on them, which were the only ones in his size the last time they went to the thrift store for winter clothes. Kindaichi says they’re cute, but Kunimi feels about five years old when he wears them). He’s wearing socks as well, and he rubs them against the carpet as he waits for Kindaichi to finish getting ready for bed.
When he comes into the room and gets close enough, Kunimi reaches out and touches his arm to shock him. Kindaichi yelps and jumps away.
Kunimi smirks faintly, as Kindaichi rubs at his arm and shakes his head.
“That’s mean, Kunimi-kun,” he says, his lower lip poking out in a small pout.
Shit. That’s adorable.
Steeling himself, Kunimi turns his gaze away to stare blankly at the equally blank wall in front of him.
Out of his peripheral, Kunimi can see the way Kindaichi freezes and turns toward him. He can’t make out his expression, and he curls his fingers into the edge of the mattress beneath him. Clearing his throat, he turns to look at Kindaichi, meeting his gaze squarely, as he attempts to keep his face a mask.
Kindaichi is staring at him with wide eyes, completely still in shock.
Kunimi nods, trying not to look affected by the way Kindaichi says his name with such reverence, like it’s some precious thing that Kunimi’s handed to him, not something as simple as a name.
“Goodnight,” Kunimi says then quickly, standing and moving to get into the bed. He lies down with his back to Kindaichi, pulling the blankets up over his shoulder.
“Akira.” Kindaichi says it this time slowly, as though tasting it, trying it out.
Kunimi clutches the blankets in his fist, squeezing his eyes shut as his heart pounds in his throat.
There’s a beat of silence, and the bed dips as Kindaichi gets into it. He doesn’t immediately snuggle against Kunimi’s back the way he has been lately, and Kunimi tenses, knowing what’s about to happen and bracing himself for it.
“Kindaichi, I swear to g—” Kunimi sits up and turns around, coming face to face with a grinning Kindaichi. He stops abruptly, swallowing hard.
Kindaichi’s grin slips, growing more bashful, as he leans back and looks away. “I just like your name,” he says, reaching up to rub the back of his neck, before picking at lint on the blanket. “It’s cute.”
Kunimi swallows hard, willing his cheeks to cool. It’s difficult, though, especially when Kindaichi glances sidelong at him with a shy smile and says, “You can call me Yuutarou. Or Yuu. W-whichever.”
“Yuu is less effort to say,” Kunimi replies stupidly, staring at the tiny dimple in Kindaichi’s cheek.
“Does this mean I can call you Aki-chan?” Kindaichi asks with a grin.
Kunimi purses his lips. “Absolutely not.”
Kindaichi giggles, and Kunimi feels his expressions softening once more. The moment is perfect really; Kunimi just needs to gather the courage to make a move. Inhaling sharply, he reaches up with one hand to touch just his fingertips to Kindaichi’s face. Abruptly, Kindaichi stops laughing, his eyes growing wide once more.
“I’ve been trying to do this for the past three days,” he admits softly.
“D-Do what?” Kindaichi asks, as though it isn’t obvious.
Rolling his eyes, Kunimi leans forward and presses his lips lightly against Kindaichi’s. It’s warm, but stiff, because Kindaichi seems frozen again. Grimacing inwardly, Kunimi leans back, lowering his hand and wondering if he grossly miscalculated. He was so confident he hadn’t misunderstood, but maybe he’d missed the mark completely and Kindaichi had only meant he needed him like a brother because they were family.
“Say something,” he prompts, when Kindaichi continues to stare.
“Um!” Kindaichi squeaks, before clearing his throat. “C-Can you do that again?”
Kunimi raises his eyebrows, and Kindaichi swallows hard, his throat bobbing.
“I-I was too surprised! I want to try again. Please?”
Kunimi stifles a smirk, moving closer again to take Kindaichi’s face in both hands. This time when he applies pressure to Kindaichi’s lips, Kindaichi pushes back, tentatively, with lips moving only slightly, as his hands come up to awkwardly hold Kunimi’s shoulders. Kunimi leans back, shaking his head, pushing them down to his waist. He notices that Kindaichi’s hands are trembling, but they grip his sides, and Kunimi goes in for another kiss.
They remain like that for several minutes, experimenting with tiny, soft kisses, getting used to each other’s movements. A couple times they clack teeth, once they bump noses, and when Kindaichi accidentally bites Kunimi’s lip (quickly withdrawing with an apology), Kunimi discovers he likes it and tells Kindaichi to do it again.
It’s only when they begin to tremble from the cold, with lips starting to grow dry from frequent use, that they pull apart for good. Both are flushed and a little breathless, but Kunimi feels a lightness in his chest that he isn’t used to.
Am I actually . . . happy right now?
He’s pretty sure he’s been happy before, but this feels like a different happiness, a more complex one. His chest hurts, but he’s happy about it. It’s strange.
“Kuni—Akira?” Kindaichi is watching him nervously. “Did you like it?”
Sometimes Kunimi forgets that his default face is one of boredom or disdain. He twists his lips into a faint smile, nodding in response.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t, dumbass,” he says, flicking Kindaichi’s forehead gently.
Kindaichi touches the spot, smiling widely in return. “I liked it too.”
“Sleep now,” Kunimi states, ignoring how his skin feels shivery and lying down beneath the covers.
Kindaichi lies down as well, and this time they are face to face. It’s weird, and Kunimi feels self-conscious looking into Kindaichi’s face, so he scoots down to tuck his head beneath Kindaichi’s chin, closing his eyes as he puts his forehead against Kindaichi’s collarbone. Kindaichi’s arm comes up hesitantly at first, but then it lies around him, holding him, and Kunimi breathes a soft sigh of contentment.
He doesn’t complain about cold nights again.