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Yahaba Shigeru has always heard that the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one.

And, well, right now he has a couple of problems. He's not doing as well at volleyball in college as he'd like, his high school senpai still calls him twice a week to chat about girls despite the fact that he's more in love with his best friend than Shigeru's parents are with each other after being married for thirty years, he's got the same hairstyle he had in high school but can't figure out another one he likes better even in his second year of university.

He's still sleeping with his ex three or four times a month.

It's not too much of a trouble to admit to these problems, not really. He just doesn't have anywhere to go on the matter of actually fixing them.

Kyoutani Kentarou is a problem he doesn't know how to fix.

They've always been like that—constantly bickering and right on the edge of punching one another in the face before deciding to make out instead. They got better, with time, forged something more like a real partnership, a real relationship. But that was always their foundation, cracked and flawed and riddled with little divots of spite and cruelty, and that wasn't good enough for Shigeru, wasn't good enough for either of them, really.

At least, that's how he framed his speech to Kentarou. Like he was doing the both of them a favor. Which, he was—he's not wrong about the two of them. They don't work out, not in that way.

The sex works out just fine, at least. It's would be the easiest of his problems to solve, Shigeru knows. He just has to stop. But, well, the sex is good and both of them enjoy it, so he doesn't.

Shigeru isn't stupid. He knows sleeping with his ex is probably not the way to get over a relationship. He's not the kind of charmer that Oikawa is, but he's cute enough that it wouldn't be that hard to find someone else to go home with.

But Kentarou knows him. Kentarou knows all the things that he likes and doesn't need to be directed in bed unless Shigeru is feeling bossy already, which Kentarou is always willing to either play along with (good) or be directly rebellious of, to make Shigeru feel like he has to fight to get him to behave (better).

Which is why when he meets Oikawa for coffee, he has a thick purple bruise right on his jugular.

Oikawa notices it.

“That's a nasty one, Shi-chan,” he leans forward across the small table between them in an effort to poke at the bruise, wrinkling his nose. “I didn't think I'd see those anymore now that you're not dating Kyoken-chan.”

It's actually been six months since he broke up with Kentarou. It's just that usually his meetings with Oikawa and his meetings with Kentarou don't fall so close together. He'd practically left Kentarou still in his bed while getting ready to go see Oikawa.

He probably could've gotten away with wearing a scarf, it's the tail end of November and just starting to get cold. But, Oikawa would've noticed something was up anyway, so it probably doesn't matter that much.

He swats Oikawa's hand away from his neck and shrugs a little. “How's Iwaizumi-san?”

Oikawa's face darkens instantly, and Shigeru might have felt like he'd stepped on a landmine if there wasn't always something going on with Iwaizumi. When they were both younger, he'd encouraged Oikawa to just be upfront with his feelings.

He was more innocent then, and way, way more stupid. Oikawa shuffles to a better position in his seat, lips pulled down into a frown. “He's dating a girl.”

“Oh,” Shigeru blinks, because as far as news of Iwaizumi goes, that one has never happened before. Oikawa dates girls, near constantly even, but he's never heard of Iwaizumi showing much interest in anyone. “What's she like?”

“Boring,” Oikawa huffs, leaning his elbow on the table and waving his hand. “Like a little mouse, you'd hardly notice she's even there.”

“Well,” Shigeru tries to think of the best way to approach this. Oikawa can be a little… volatile on the subject of Iwaizumi, and it's easy to step wrong. Shigeru has a lot of experience with minefields, though. “You knew this was going to happen eventually.”

Oikawa's face twists, his nose wrinkling again, looking very much like Shigeru had just stuffed a lemon into his mouth. Sourly disgusted. “I fully expected Iwa-chan to be a hermit forever.”

“I'm sure,” Shigeru rolls his eyes, taking a slow sip of his coffee and raising both eyebrows. It's a little bit on the bitter side, but he doesn't complain about it. Oikawa has hoarded most of the sugar that was left in the middle of the table anyway, drinking his coffee so sweet it was practically candy. When Shigeru doesn't revise his statement Oikawa huffs, sitting up straighter.

“You smell like smoke, you know,” there's a smile playing on his lips and Shigeru wills his face not to burn. Kentarou smokes. When they were dating Shigeru had gotten so used to the smell that he barely even notices it anymore. Kentarou never smoked inside their shared apartment, so his clothes had escaped the worst of it.

He doesn't really know what Kentarou's habits are like nowadays.

He's not supposed to know, he reminds himself.

“Do I?” He raises an eyebrow like he's barely interested in the information, and he doesn't sniff at his clothes to see. It's not that telling, tons of people smoke. Oikawa's face flinches towards frustration for a moment. Shigeru knows exactly why—he's used to reading people's tells, picking them apart bit by bit until he's inside their heads.

Shigeru doesn't have any tells. He sits still and straight and stares back at Oikawa with a perfectly placid expression, doesn't take a sip of his coffee like he wants to hide his face, waits for Oikawa to give up looking for something that he isn't going to find.

“You're not going to tell me if it's him?” Oikawa pouts when he finally decides to stop staring like he's trying to bore holes into Shigeru's soul. Shigeru shrugs his shoulders, looking as bored as ever with Oikawa's apparent curiosity.

“I'm not going to tell you anything about my sex life, Oikawa-san,” his lips catch into a tiny smile as he says it, swirling a finger around the edge of his cup of coffee. “Though I'm not sure why you want to know.”

“You're terrible at gossip,” Oikawa laments, tossing his hands up into the air. “You won't sympathize with me about Iwa-chan or give me something to distract me.”

“If you want information about someone's sex life, why not try Hanamaki-san or Matsukawa-san,” Shigeru responds blithely, shaking his head. “Why are you so desperate to hear about mine?”

“Because I have a bet on when you and Kyoken-chan get back together and I'd like to know if I'm going to get my prize money or not,” Oikawa grins, and Shigeru isn't sure how true that is or not.

“We're not going to get back together,” his response is just a little too terse, and he takes a soft breath to try and calm himself down. Even when he's nowhere close, Kentarou finds a way to get under his skin.

“Ah, still awhile to go then,” Oikawa beams, shrugging off the glare that Shigeru gives him in response. “It's okay, you'll come to your senses eventually.”

“Go back to complaining about Iwaizumi-san.”

 

The thing is, there's nothing for Shigeru to come to his senses about. He's smart enough to know that he and Kentarou aren't made for the long run. Hell, they aren't made for spending too much time stuck in the same room together.

Besides, it's not like Kentarou is out there pining after him every day of the week. They're just—friends with benefits doesn't quite cover it because they aren't friends anymore. They don't talk outside of sex, and they don't exactly talk during sex. They don't attend the same school or play on the same team anymore, and there's not much left to talk about.

Fuck buddies? Or possibly fuck enemies. Shigeru never makes a plan for seeing Kentarou, but they still sort of frequent the same places around the area, and when he walks into a bar and Kentarou is already there, he doesn't turn around to leave.

Kentarou doesn't lift his head, staring at the television over the bar with a scowl on his face. That alone isn't really a surprise because he practically always has a scowl on, and neither is the dark colored beer in his hand. Shigeru doesn't make a particular effort to sit near him, instead picking a spot a few seats down and ordering his own drink.

He steals glances, though. At the slope of Kentarou's shoulders, the way his t-shirt is settled low on the back of his neck, and Shigeru can see the small mole on the nape of it. It takes a moment of staring for Shigeru to realize he bought the shirt that Kentarou is wearing.

Shigeru clears his throat, feeling suddenly awkward about the whole thing. He's not sure why it's such a shock. Kentarou probably doesn't even remember that Shigeru bought it—it's not as big a deal as it suddenly seems in his brain.

It still takes two drinks before he has the courage to look over again, and now he catches Kentarou's eyes boring into the side of his head like hot coals. Kentarou doesn't look away when he's caught, which suits Shigeru just fine. He smiles in return, lifting his beer to his mouth, pressing the rim of it right between his lips and raising both eyebrows while he swallows the cold alcohol.

For as well as Kentarou knows him in bed, the reverse is just as true. The tips of his ears light up red like Shigeru's just done something absolutely obscene, and his fingers curl tighter around his own bottle.

Shigeru doesn't have any tells, and Kentarou is nothing but. He's a muddle of emotions that are constantly blaring out of his body language—he does more than just wear his heart on his sleeve, he shows it in every part of himself. His teeth dig at a loose patch of skin on the corner of his mouth for a moment before he pulls his eyes away from Shigeru and looks ahead again, digging into the back pocket of his jeans and coming up with a half crushed carton of cigarettes and his wallet.

He opens the latter first, pulling two bills out and setting them on the counter before sliding it away and walking outside with the carton still in his hand. He's not wearing a jacket, in spite of the small flurries of snow outside, and Shigeru waits long enough to finish and pay for his own drink to follow after him, buttoning his jacket again as he steps outside.

Kentarou cocks his head when the door shuts, cutting off the shaft of golden light that spills out of the bar and leaving them in the cool, blue evening air instead. “Hey.”

He lowers the cigarette from his lips, smoke falling out of his mouth with the single syllable. He breathes the rest out through his nose, using his thumb to flick ash onto the sidewalk. Despite the drawbacks of the habit, it's always suited Kentarou strangely well, and Shigeru stopped complaining about it after a short time.

“Hey,” he sidles a step closer. Not enough to be abnormal—they aren't touching, but Kentarou is within the reach of his arms now. The corners of his lips twitch upwards slightly and he takes another slow drag of the cigarette like that will somehow cover it.

“It's been awhile,” he settles on after another long moment, and Shigeru shrugs. It's not exactly like he's been keeping track of these little meetings.

(It's been two weeks and four days, Christmas is soon. Shigeru knows it.)

“What, did you miss me Kentarou-kun?” He grins. It's supposed to be a tease, light and flirtatious, but Kentarou's face falls into a frown immediately—not the one that rests on his face no matter how he's feeling, but an actual one.

He drops the cigarette to the pavement and stops the glowing ember at the tip out with his heel. His lips gather together when he looks back at Shigeru, clicking his tongue against the back of his teeth. “Course not.”

That has no reason to make Shigeru's chest sting. It does anyway.

He takes another step closer, and now he's in Kentarou's space. He's still a little bit taller, with the top of Kentarou's forehead reaching just between his eyebrows, meaning that once he's close like they are now, he's always looking down at him.

Kentarou snorts another breath out through his nose, lifting his hand from his side and instead laying it on the back of Shigeru's neck, broad and warm, pulling him down into a kiss that's all sharp edges and smoke and the taste of beer shared between their mouths.

It's not a kiss made to soothe the little bits of hurt that always seem to be between them, and by the time it's finished, Shigeru knows exactly the way this night is going to go.

Or at least, he thinks he does.

Kentarou's apartment is closer, and the two of them walk there side by side without discussing it. Shigeru is staying in the place that used to be theirs—it was small to begin with, and cheap enough that he could keep it without trying to stuff a roommate into the already lacking space. That means that Kentarou's apartment is mostly a mystery to him—he's only been there on nights like this when it's already dark and they aren't turning on lights or laying on his couch to eat pizza and watch bad movies.

He twists the key in the lock sharply, pulling it out so quickly after that the metal makes a sharp grinding sound. The whole space is bathed in shadow, and while they didn't touch at all on the way there, as soon as he kicks the door shut, Kentarou reaches back and laces his fingers through Shigeru's.

It's under the pretense of guiding Shigeru to the bedroom, he knows, but Kentarou isn't subtle and neither is the fact that they're holding hands, rather than Kentarou wrapping around his wrist or guiding him by his hip. The door to the bedroom yawns open, and there's soft light from the street outside filtering in, but Kentarou stops in the doorway, angling his body so Shigeru is backed into it.

He leans up, just slightly, so they're kissing again. It's less aggressive than before, with Kentarou licking into his mouth rather than biting at his lower lip, but the taste of it is no softer. Shigeru fits both his hands at the dip of Kentarou's spine, pulling their lower halves closer and grinning just a little at the extra puff of air from Kentarou's nose.

Shigeru slides his hands down to catch the hem of Kentarou's shirt, peeling it upward slowly, letting his feel bare skin on their way upward. He digs his thumbs at the base of Kentarou's shoulder blades, rolling them in small circles against the tense knots that are always there.

Kentarou makes a small, pleased noise in response, his fingers curling around the frame of the door on either side of Shigeru, tilting his head back enough to allow the shirt to be pulled over his head. There's a little smile on his face right before the fabric covers it, and it's gone again when Shigeru drops the shirt to the floor.

“Don't make a mess,” he huffs, tilting his head to drag his teeth over the side of Shigeru's neck instead, and a breathless laugh falls out of his mouth in return, digging his nails into Kentarou's back rather than the pads of his thumbs.

“You like messy,” it's a confirmation, not an accusation, and Kentarou bites down slightly harder in response. Shigeru tilts his head back, swallowing a gasp that catches in the back of his throat. He doesn't suck a bruise into the spot, instead, he drags them over the tendon of Shigeru's neck with only enough pressure to pull a tingle of sensation to the surface.

Kentarou is clearly feeling patient, which even after everything, Shigeru is never quite prepared for. Still, he nudges them actually into the room, glancing at the unmade state of Kentarou's bed and rolling his eyes. The blankets will probably get kicked off onto the floor, which Shigeru supposes he doesn't mind since he's not staying.

His back hits the bed first, and the bounce he might have had is quickly stopped by Kentarou leaning over him, one knee on the bed, brow slightly furrowed as he works the buttons of Shigeru's shirt apart. He looks like he's contemplating just yanking it open, and in an effort to save a button up that he actually likes, he bats Kentarou's hands away and sets to doing it himself.

He tries to still make it interesting, arching his back a little higher than he needs to and dragging his knee against Kentarou's thigh, and he's actually glad for the light that falls across the bed from the window, staring up at him with a little grin on his face.

The thing is, Kentarou is actually gorgeous. It's a fact that Shigeru has been struggling with since high school. It becomes even more pronounced when he smiles, especially when he smiles while he's kneeling on a bed shirtless with a tent in the front of his jeans, head tilted just a little to the side like he's deciding how best to approach Shigeru in front of him.

Shigeru starts to sit up once his shirt is open, because really that all just makes him want to touch Kentarou, but fingertips planted firmly against the center of his chest make him huff a soft breath and lay back down instead, hair fluffing slightly against the sheets. Kentarou, unlike Shigeru, hasn't kept the same hairstyle for years. It's actually changed quite frequently, though right now it's all been bleached the shade of yellow that he favors, slightly longer and fuzzier, with a little design shaved into the sides and, from what Shigeru saw, the nape of his neck. He bends forward at the waist, laying kisses along the flat of Shigeru's stomach, both of his hands sliding up the outside of his thighs, smoothing over the denim of his jeans.

This isn't exactly what Shigeru was expecting, and he's almost tempted to simply roll onto his stomach in an effort to force Kentarou to get a move on. It's not that what he's doing now is bad--in fact it feels nice, making heat burn slowly in Shigeru's gut, but it's that slowness that throws him off. He's used to knowing what to expect when it comes to Kentarou, and the hot lave of his tongue against the crease of his hip isn't really it. His hips squirm slightly before he can stop himself, unaccustomed to being left waiting.

Kentarou lifts his head just enough for Shigeru to catch his gaze, and he can see the wide smirk that's on his face instead and his stomach curls slightly. It's honestly, hopelessly, attractive, and Shigeru kind of hopes that no one else will get to see that expression on Kentarou's face just before his teeth sink into their skin, sucking slowly, making a bruise that will last.

Shigeru drops his head against the sheets again, trying to clear his mind out and ending up slapping a hand over his mouth to make himself quiet instead. One of Kentarou's hands leaves off stroking his leg to pop open his jeans instead, drawing the zipper down so slowly that the teeth unlocking is a palpable feeling. He swallows down another sound before it can be pressed into his palm, reluctant to give over the satisfaction though the sheer fact that he's making such an effort to keep quiet probably gives him away on its own.

The pace stays slow, even when Shigeru rolls his hips in an effort to get his jeans off faster, Kentarou slides them off at the speed he's picked out, peppering the insides of Shigeru's thighs with little kisses. His head is spinning a little, not that he particularly wants to admit it. It doesn't feel quite right, though he can't name why.

The heat of Kentarou's mouth closing around the head of his cock chases the thought out of his head with sparks clinging to its trail. He digs his heels against the sheets, a shudder rolling down his spine at the drag of Kentarou's tongue over his slit. He's drawn further in, with Kentarou's hand wrapping around the next of him and his thumb rolling over the vein that runs along the bottom of Shigeru's cock. He grunts into his hand, debating what to do with the other for a moment before lifting it over his head and flailing under Kentarou's pillow.

He ends up knocking that to the floor as well before he finds the tube of lubricant that he already knew would be there. He doesn't let himself question if Kentarou's been using it on him or someone else—he's a creature of habit, it would have ended up there anyway, and he tosses it at Kentarou, barely missing hitting him in the forehead with it.

Kentarou pulls off his cock to glare, but his hand still pumps slowly up and down the now spit-slicked skin, so Shigeru figures he can't really be that mad and takes the chance to push his luck a little. "I want you to finger me."

"Obviously," Kentarou snorts, dragging his tongue on the head of Shigeru's dick once more, probably filling his mouth with the precum that flows out. Shigeru digs his heels in slightly harder and stares up at Kentarou's ceiling, letting his hand fall to his side again instead.

"I want—" his voice is thick with a groan and he tries to clear his throat to get rid of it. Kentarou glances up, an eyebrow raised as one of Shigeru's legs brushes against them, trying to relax against the bed. “I want you to spread me open Ken, c'mon.”

He hasn't had enough to drink to explain himself talking like this, but it's worth the way Kentarou's eyes go a little wide and his ears go red even though he still pretty much has Shigeru's cock in his mouth. He grabs hold of the lube quickly after that, and the dry click of the cap opening is almost enough to make Shigeru groan all over again.

It does make him groan when one of Kentarou's slick fingers presses against his entrance, massaging around the rim, slightly warmed rather than outright cold. The sound shakes out of his lungs and Kentarou leans his head to the side to rest it against Shigeru's knee, eyes heavy-lidded, lips parted just slightly as he breathes.

His lips are still slick from sucking Shigeru off and he looks better than anyone has the right to, especially when Shigeru can't do anything more than lift a hand to slide through the short hairs on the back of his head, scraping his nails gently over Kentarou's scalp. He leans his head slightly into it, pressing his finger slowly inside, curling it to drag against Shigeru's walls and leaning down again to close his lips around his cock.

Shigeru's heel digs into the sheets again, forcing himself not to buck his hips up at the sudden assault of sensations. It's almost too much for him all at once, the wet heat of Kentarou's tongue massaging the head of his cock, along with his finger sinking in past both knuckles, and it makes a sob catch in his throat.

Fuck, Ken,” he gasps out, rolling his hips downwards and contemplating still asking him for more. Kentarou doesn't make him, giving several slow pumps of his finger before drawing it back and sliding the second one in as well, scissoring them both apart to stretch Shigeru out further.

His fingers curl into the sheets, tugging slightly, and at this point Kentarou has mostly forgotten the effort of assaulting Shigeru with both sensations at once because he leans his cheek against Shigeru's thigh again, breathing warm puffs of air that slide over the head of Shigeru's cock and cool the mix of saliva and precum already there, and instead, he strokes his fingers in all the way before curving them upward, grinning at the crack in Shigeru's voice that it results in.

He palms his own jeans open with his other hand, still using both fingers to open Shigeru up further, nipping the edge of his thigh.

“Good enough,” his voice slurs when he says it, and he really doesn't mind the sting that comes from still being a little too tight when Kentarou fucks into him anyway. “Wanna feel you, c'mon.”

Kentarou frowns slightly before adjusting to get his jeans off the rest of the way, leaning over Shigeru to dig a condom out of his nightstand and rip it open with his teeth. Shigeru takes the chance to grip onto the back of Kentarou's shoulders and lean up to kiss him, dragging their tongues together. There's a bitterness in his mouth still leftover from Shigeru and he groans into the kiss, surprised by it. Shigeru lets his nails drag down the back of Kentarou's shoulders, nipping at his lower lip and forgetting his impatience already.

There's a little growl from the back of his throat when the kiss ends, and Shigeru moves to roll onto his stomach and pull his knees under him, surprised when Kentarou pins his hip to stop him. He's rolled the condom over himself, still slicking lube over the surface of it with his other hand, a flush touching his cheeks when Shigeru raises an eyebrow.

They don't really fuck face to face anymore.

“Just—like this, okay?” His voice sounds a little strained, and Shigeru nods his head because he's halfway to agreeing to anything that Kentarou wants at this point. They don't usually end up so wound up and desperate, everything has been messy and quick and gone before morning with more bites than kisses.

Kentarou shifts and lines them up and steadies the little jump in Shigeru's hips by rubbing little circles in with his thumb before pressing the head inside. The blunt pressure makes Shigeru groan, trapping his lip between his teeth to try and muffle it. He's definitely still right on the edge of being too tight and it takes more effort than usual for Kentarou to push inside, and by the time he's seated all the way inside Shigeru is halfway to climbing out of his own skin.

He focuses on breathing sharply through his nose, trying to trick his body to relaxing around the intrusion faster, and Kentarou pitches forward, forehead resting in the middle of his chest, muffling a groan into the skin there, hands tracing over Shigeru's sides. “How are you so tight?

He presses the words into Shigeru's chest too, and after another moment, Shigeru lifts an ankle to push at the back of Kentarou's thigh. His body is as relaxed as it's going to get, and from there he just wants to feel good. Kentarou lifts his head, drawing his hips back slowly before pumping himself back inside. Shigeru can see the knotting of his jaw, the way his eyes flutter slightly at the tight drag on all sides. The first rolls of his hips are cautious, but when Shigeru goes quiet save for sharp breaths pushed out of his lungs at the end of each thrust, he pushes himself in all the way with each one.

It's a surprise when rather than gripping at his hips or tugging the back of his hair, Kentarou laces their fingers together and presses the back of his hand into the bed, keeping his pace unhurried. Shigeru tries to angle his hips so Kentarou's thrusts find his prostate but mostly ends up squirming helplessly under him, breathing a frustrated whine between his teeth.

“God, Ken please,” he gasps, shaking his head and making a greater mess of his hair, using his free hand to dig at Kentarou's side, pulling them closer together. Kentarou grunts softly, leaving kisses at the base of Shigeru's throat while he changes the angle of his hips until the head of his cock pushes against Shigeru's prostate, making his hips buck up like he's been electrocuted, mouth dropping open.

Kentarou's hand squeezes his tighter, focusing every thrust on that spot and assaulting Shigeru's insides with it. He lifts his head from biting Shigeru's collarbone to kiss him once again. He expects teeth and hunger and force that matches with their skin slapping together, but instead, Kentarou's mouth melts against his, thumb stroking the swell of Shigeru's cheek with a tenderness they aren't supposed to share anymore.

Shigeru uses Kentarou's next thrust as an excuse to push his head back against the bed, back arching as he rolls his hips up to beg for some kind of friction on his cock, digging his nails in harder to Kentarou's skin. “I can't—, Ken…”

He means too much when he says it.

Kentarou lifts his hand from touching Shigeru's face, wrapping around his cock and pumping it slowly instead. He has to turn his head and dig his teeth into his shoulder to keep from wailing because he goes from hovering on the edge to feeling his orgasm swell up hot and fast from the pit of his stomach, muscles squeezing tighter around Kentarou inside him, coming in sticky spurts over his hand.

His hips roll slowly, lazily, against Kentarou still thrusting into him, dragging his nails in small circles on his lower back and cooing out soft sounds, feeling boneless against the bed. He knows it before Kentarou comes, the way his shoulders quiver and his hand tightens again, the way his name falls out of Kentarou's mouth sounding like worship.

He rides it out before flopping himself forward onto Shigeru, eyes closed, chest heaving heavy breaths that Shigeru matches. Despite the fact that he probably shouldn't, he lets them continue holding hands, rubbing his fingers through Kentarou's hair while the both come back to themselves.

Shigeru also knows that he needs to untangle himself and leave before he drifts off in his haze and wakes up in Kentarou's bed later and feels the need to sneak himself out. Kentarou must read the intention before he starts moving because he shakes his head lazily. “'S cold out—just stay.”

And for a moment, Shigeru almost caves and says yes.

Instead, he shakes his head in return, releasing Kentarou's hand and sitting up despite the sleepy weight piled on top of him. “I gotta go.”

Kentarou lifts his head slowly, narrowing his eyes as he looks up at Shigeru, frowning. “Why?”

“Because I have to,” he snorts in reply, untangling himself the rest of the way and swinging his legs off the edge of the bed. They feel a little like jelly when he stands, but he powers through it and collects his clothes up instead.

“I don't—what the fuck is your problem?” Kentarou snaps after sliding the condom off and sending it, messily tied off, soaring into his small trash can. He's glaring, arms crossed over his chest, shaking his head. It's sort of a ridiculous thing, and it undermines the glare on his face really, and Shigeru almost gives him a smile.

He restrains it, though because he doesn't entirely want to follow this up with Kentarou punching him in the face.

“I don't have a problem,” he responds, prim and proper despite the fact that he's literally pulling his pants on as he speaks. He's glad, at least, that it's scarf season because he can feel the quiet throb of bruises forming on the side of his neck and he doesn't want to continue letting the whole world know about his sex life. “I'm just going home.”

“You don't,” he's not facing Shigeru anymore, looking down at his knees instead. His arms are less crossed over his chest and more wrapped around his sides like he's trying to hold himself together. “You don't have to leave every time.”

Outside their relationship, Shigeru doubts that Kentarou would strike anyone as the 'stay and cuddle' type. But, he is. He thrives far more off of affection than sex itself, and it would be so easy to crawl back into bed and wrap himself around Kentarou and watch him fall asleep.

Shigeru turns so his back is facing Kentarou, buttoning his shirt with quick fingers, frowning. “That is why I need to go.”

He doesn't turn back around until he's fully dressed, adjusting the collar of his shirt. “It's just sex, Kentarou-kun.”

It's easier for him to slide back into formality, lifting an eyebrow upward like he's daring Kentarou to argue with him. He doesn't, instead he sinks further into himself, and somehow that's worse. He's used to venom being met with venom until they're both out. Kentarou just shakes his head with a little sigh, like he'd like anything but. “I know.”

“Good,” Shigeru huffs, and he doesn't lean to kiss Kentarou, instead he turns back to the door, intent on making his own way out, despite the darkness. “See you around.”

He forgets his jacket, but walking home shivering against the cold probably serves him right.

 

Ken

your coat is on my couch(9:45)

just drop it off, have class in an hour(10:22)

It apparently only took three days for Kentarou either to notice the coat or decide that Shigeru wasn't going to come back for it on his own. It's just as well, and when he doesn't get an answer he's not exactly surprised, digging around in the back of his closet for an extra that he might have forgotten at some point.

He's almost ready to leave when Kentarou simply lets himself in, reminding Shigeru that he still has his own set of keys.

Shigeru sighs a little at that, rubbing his fingers into his temples and walking out into the living room, space they used to share.

It still echoes with Kentarou sometimes, and Shigeru has been glad over and over again that the apartment is small enough that it doesn't feel empty without him. He took the old pictures of the two of them and stuck them in the back of the hall closet, and without them, there's nothing particularly personal to decorate the room.

It's probably Shigeru's first time seeing him in the day in, well, awhile. Months, even. Even he's given in to wearing a hoodie, at least, zipped halfway up like the cold is only going to bother the lower half of his stomach anyway, and he looks tired. There're two coffees in his hands, Shigeru's coat thrown over his shoulder to allow him to hold both of them, and he sets one on the counter with a raised eyebrow, a peace offering, probably.

“I wanna talk to you,” he sets his own coffee down, followed by Shigeru's coat, unloading himself one thing at a time. His voice sounds raw, and he twitches like an exposed nerve, layers peeled back into vulnerability.

Maybe Shigeru shouldn't be so surprised by that anymore.

“About what?” It's obvious, but he crosses over into the small space of the kitchen warily, wrapping his fingers around the paper cup. His has a sleeve and Kentarou's doesn't, he probably felt like he didn't even need one, meaning the palm of his hand is probably searingly warm. Kentarou gives him a little frown for the question, eyes tilting downward, not quite looking at him but not quite looking away either.

“I just—I wanted to say that I'm sorry,” he huffs, shaking his head. Shigeru hovers, coffee halfway to his mouth, surprised into stillness. He opens his mouth to joke about the coat not being that big a deal, but the little shake of Kentarou's shoulders stops him. “For, whatever.”

“Whatever?” Shigeru blinks, setting the coffee down again. The paper makes a small click against the fake wooden surface of the counter. Kentarou shrugs his shoulders again, and it seems like it takes force to make him lift his head, mouth tight around his words.

“Whatever was so bad you couldn't put up with me anymore,” he huffs, and his mouth twists into a little self-deprecating smile, a bitter laugh following it. Kentarou, despite the way his face settles into a scowl as its default, is plenty expressive, and that's by far Shigeru's least favorite look on his face. “I dont—I don't get it, but I'm sorry.”

“Ken,” it's the first time he's called Kentarou that outside of sex since they broke up, and he's not sure of the way it rests on his tongue. He doesn't exactly know what to say in response because there isn't anything so bad that he wants rid of Kentarou entirely, but he did it anyway and met with the aftermath he can't explain it to himself anymore.

“You don't have to give me the whole speech again,” he frowns, nudging the coat on the counter and shaking his head. “But I can't do just sex. Not with you. Maybe not with anybody, but especially not with you.”

Shigeru doesn't have the right to treat that like a punch to the gut. It hurts anyway, burns like bile in the back of his throat because maybe he hasn't quite stopped being as attached to Kentarou, and maybe he's not ready to let this last piece of what they used to be slip out of his hands.

It does anyway, and Kentarou leans through the gulf separating them to press a kiss to Shigeru's cheek. It's fleeting, a rough brush of chapped lips, and then he tugs away again, his voice soft like he wants to give Shigeru the chance to ignore his words. “I'm still in love with you.”

He curls his fingers around his coffee again, slinking back like a wounded animal, eyes locked on Shigeru's face with little flecks of hope still clinging in the corners. He could fix them here, maybe, he could say he loves Kentarou still too and it would be the first time for the both of them. He doesn't and Kentarou sighs. “I don't know how to fix that, honestly.”

The door swings shut behind him before Shigeru starts crying.

 

He spends the longest part of the winter by himself, with the pavement bleached bone white by salt and cold eating at his bones. Oikawa jokes that he goes into hibernation, but it's obvious he's picked up on the fact Shigeru's gone from 'no longer dating' Kentarou to 'no longer seeing' him. It's a small shift in words and a much bigger one in life.

Spring comes slowly, in alternating waves of heat and bitter cold, curling around the trees like a cat that can't settle all the way. By the time the end of February hits with the threat of his birthday right around the corner, there's more slush on the ground than grass, and it's generally a miserable atmosphere.

He lets himself be tempted by Oikawa into going out with a few other former classmates from Seijou. There's no mention made of Kentarou in the planning, mostly just Oikawa vowing that Iwaizumi's girlfriend isn't coming (something he takes fiendish delight in), and that Watari and the duo of Hanamaki and Matsukawa have been talked into coming as well.

Shigeru should have known better than to trust Oikawa Tooru. As soon as he joins them at the table they have picked, Iwaizumi gives him a nervous smile and shuffles in his seat, glaring in the direction of the door. Oikawa hasn't shown up yet, and that's what Shigeru assumes he's so antsy about.

But when Oikawa does come sweeping through the door, he's practically dragging Kentarou along by the hand, chattering at him and ignoring the redness that's spread from the tips of his ears to the rest of his face, pulling against Oikawa's grip.

He doesn't notice Shigeru as fast as Shigeru notices him, and apparently he was the only one left out of the plan because the rest have arranged themselves so that there's nowhere else for Kentarou to sit other than next to Shigeru or directly across from him.

It stings when Kentarou does notice him and his loud complaining at Oikawa stops dead. He can feel the back of his neck burning and he wonders what kind of idiots his friends are to think they can fix things this way. Oikawa gives a lofty sigh when Kentarou doesn't sit.

“This is supposed to be an intervention,” he grips, and Shigeru turns in his seat to glare up at him. He's specifically told Oikawa that he doesn't want or need this sort of thing because his goal is very much not to get back together with Kentarou.

He doesn't really deserve it, but he keeps that to himself.

“If I agree to go outside and talk will you leave me the fuck alone?” The growl is directed at Oikawa, not Shigeru, and Oikawa flicks his wrist at them both.

“I'll agree, only because once you talk you'll see that this has all been very silly and kiss and make up,” his lips peel back around a threatening smile and Shigeru caves, pushing himself out of his seat and shooting all of them a look. He doesn't have the same sinister slant to his smile, but he'll certainly find a way to destroy every last one of them for this.

Kentarou shuffles out just behind him, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans and looking down at the salt bleached pavement, sighing. “This is stupid.”

“Sorry,” Shigeru rolls his eyes, crossing his arms and tucking his hands under his arms to ward off the cold. “Wasn't my idea.”

It seems like it takes a long time for Kentarou to talk again. “I wanna know why.”

Shigeru tenses, looking down at his own chest, responding just as softly. “I told you why.”

“Bullshit,” there's a spark in his voice, the first sign of him not running away anymore. Shigeru is secretly a little glad because it's not at all like Kentarou to back down. “We were doing fine. Shit, we fought more over stupid shit in high school, and you had no problem with it then. You ran away, and I wanna know why.”

He doesn't know how to answer, he doesn't now how to explain it to himself, not in any kind of satisfactory terms. But Kentarou shows no signs of moving, he's planted firm and Shigeru knows better than to try and retreat now. It won't work, it's not how they are.

“I got scared,” his mouth burns with the admission. He feels worse for it now than he did at the time, sick and shaking with tears starting to claw at the back of his throat. What was there to be so afraid of? “I'm an idiot and I got scared and decided we'd both be better off this way.”

“You feel better off now?” Kentarou gestures at the empty air between them, shaking his head with a growl. His teeth are grit in a hard line, and the words feel razor sharp. Shigeru doesn't give him an answer, and Kentarou sighs, softening. “Because I don't.”

“I don't either,” he shakes his head, and he wants to close the distance and touch Kentarou, but part of his mind talks him out of it still. Kentarou shakes his head again like he can't grasp what is going on with Shigeru.

“You're such an ass,” he tilts his head back with a groan, stepping to fill the space between them and rubbing the pad of his thumb against Shigeru's cheek. “Seriously. I figured—we were still screwing around all the time so I thought you were gonna change your mind.”

“I should have,” Shigeru sighs, dipping his head to knock his forehead gently against Kentarou's, untucking his hands to stroke the short hairs at the back of his head. He's back to his ridiculous black stripes, and Shigeru strokes them with his fingers as well. “I should've told you I still love you too.”

There's a small, pleased smile on his face, still tracing the side of Shigeru's face like he's forgotten it, or like he never wants to. “Not too late for that.”

“I still love you,” he feels stupidly shy about saying it, but he doesn't miss the pink at the tips of Kentarou's ears too and he doesn't feel quite so bad because of that.

“You can't do this again, though,” his thumb pauses at the corner of Shigeru's mouth. “You can't make my mind up for me because of your insecure bullshit, alright?”

Shigeru chuckles softly because he's never heard anything phrased in a way that's more Kentarou, but he nods his head anyway. “Alright.”

“Good,” Kentarou grunts before kissing him.

There's cheering from down the sidewalk, and Shigeru starts to pull his head back to tell their supposed friends to go back inside and do something… creative to themselves, but Kentarou's hand tightens to hold his face there, lifting his other hand behind his back to flip them off instead.

It works just as well, and honestly, Shigeru is too pleased to care all that much.

They do go back inside, for a celebration that's equal parts embarrassing and fun, as it should be honestly with that group. Watari beams at them both and Hanamaki and Matsukawa take turns jeering and the five of them pretend they haven't noticed Oikawa holding on to Iwaizumi's hand under the table.

Spring slides into place and Shigeru pulls the pictures out of his closet and sets them up again when Kentarou moves back in with him.