It was far too hot for this.
Tendou was convinced he would spontaneously combust very soon if he didn’t cool off. His face was as red as his hair, the relentless heat from the sun making his skin burn in spite of all the suncream he had already applied. Tendou was currently waiting in line to buy an ice cream from a little mobile VW in the hopes that the treat would help him cool down, but apparently, everyone else on the beach had thought the same thing.
He’d been waiting in the queue for almost ten minutes, sweating profusely and regretting the fact that he was still wearing a t-shirt. The only good thing about the entire ordeal was the broad back of the man standing in front of him. He was slightly taller than Tendou was, wider in the shoulders, with larger muscles too. The view of what Tendou was certain would be fantastic back muscles was blocked by a maroon t-shirt, which the man had paired with white shorts. He had short, dark brown hair, and from what Tendou had been able to tell from the one time he’d turned his head to the side, he was also pretty nice to look at in the face area as well. If Tendou hadn’t been feeling like he could melt into the floor at any moment, he would have started a conversation with the man already.
As it stood, he just wanted the damn line to move along. He could probably hunt down the mysterious stranger afterwards, when he was cooler, and looked a lot less like a bright red sack of sweat.
A few minutes passed and then Maroon-Shirt man was at the front of the queue, fortunately for Tendou. He could see the counter clearly; practically taste the sweetness of his favourite bubblegum ice cream. He may have drooled a little bit, but honestly, who could blame him?
Tendou was so engrossed in staring at the ice cream selection on the counter that he didn’t realise Maroon-Shirt man had been served, and by the time he recognized that he was probably standing a little bit too close for comfort, the taller man had already turned around.
The resulting collision caused the newly-purchased ice cream to drop onto Tendou’s shirt and then to the floor, and Tendou himself stumbled back, his arms flailing.
“Sorry,” both men apologised at once, and then met each other’s eyes in surprise.
That was a mistake, Tendou abruptly realised, because his previous view of the man’s side profile had not done him the slightest bit of justice, and the redhead was rapidly coming to terms with the fact that he had just bumped into one of the most attractive people he had ever seen in his life. His jawline was strong, angled, with a long straight nose between two brown eyes, the irises flecked with gold. Tendou gaped for a moment before hastily closing his mouth, praying that whatever blush had just taken over his cheeks could be passed off as a flush from the sun. God, if Eita were here, he’d never let me live this down, Tendou thought.
Suddenly remembering that the overly attractive stranger had also apologised, Tendou pointed at him in shock, frowning.
“Why are you apologising?” He asked.
“I bumped into you,” the stranger explained, and shit, his voice was deep and had definitely been plucked straight from one of Tendou’s fantasies. “I got ice cream all over your shirt. Please allow me to buy yours as an apology.”
Tendou glanced down, eyeing the trail of vanilla ice cream that was indeed covering the front of his t-shirt. “Well,” he started, a slow grin pulling at his lips, and an idea forming in the back of his mind. “I got shirt all over your ice cream. So how about I buy your replacement?”
The taller man seemed taken aback by Tendou’s suggestion for a moment, but then he nodded – Tendou did an internal victory dance. “Alright then. Thank you.”
“No problem! I’ll have bubblegum please. Do you want another vanilla – hey, what’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you Ushijima! I’m Tendou Satori.”
Ushijima inclined his head in acknowledgement, and Tendou beamed. He wasn’t the type to be put off by quiet people, and beneath all of the stoicism Tendou could see Ushijima was a good guy. Most people would have berated him for the loss of their ice cream, not offered to buy his in exchange, after all.
As the pair stepped up to the counter together, Ushijima glanced at Tendou out of the corner of his eye. “Do you want something to clean your shirt with?”
“Oh!” Tendou pulled at the hem of his t-shirt. “No, that’s okay, I’ll just…” he wrestled his way out of the fabric, emerging a moment later with a grin. “There!” He declared, throwing the now inside-out shirt over his shoulder.
Ushijima raised an eyebrow, but ultimately didn’t comment. Tendou wasn’t sure if he was glad that Ushijima didn’t mind, or disappointed that his gaze hadn’t travelled any further down.
The two men bought their new ice creams, a bright blue bubblegum cone for Tendou, and a sweet vanilla one for Ushijima, and walked away from the VW. Tendou wasn’t sure what Ushijima’s plans were for the afternoon, but he knew that whatever they were, he wasn’t ready to part from his new friend just yet. Especially not a friend as gorgeous as Ushijima.
Thankfully, Ushijima didn’t seem to be moving away. He was licking the ice cream from his cone, but his eyes kept flickering back to Tendou, almost like he was nervous. It was ridiculously endearing.
“Did you come here with anyone else, Ushijima-kun?” Tendou asked, and the brunet shook his head.
“I came by myself. It was too hot to stay in the house.”
“I know!” Tendou agreed, sighing dramatically. “Heat like this makes me feel like I could melt at any moment!”
Ushijima nodded slowly. “I prefer the cold,” he said. “I don’t really feel it.”
Tendou gaped, his chin almost landing in his ice cream when he dropped it down. “Really? I actually get super cold as well. I guess I’m just not good with the weather.”
Ushijima smiled at that, just slightly, and Tendou felt absurdly like he’d just won the lottery.
“Shall we head back down to the beach?” Ushijima asked. “Or did you come here with someone else?”
“Ah-” Tendou spun in the direction of the lifeguard tower, trying to spot the obvious two-tone hair of his friend. “I came here with my friend Eita, but he started flirting with that one lifeguard he’s got the hots for so I ditched him.”
“Which lifeguard?” Ushijima asked, and Tendou laid his hand flat a little lower than their shoulders.
“He was about this tall, had light hair, looked like a pretty boy,” Tendou explained.
“Oh. That’s Shirabu.”
“I don’t even get what Eita’s doing. I mean, I know he’s a lifeguard too, but trying to win over your crush by telling them all the things they’re doing wrong at their job doesn’t really seem like it’d be successful.”
Ushijima frowned. “Are you sure they are flirting? What you just described sounds like arguing.”
“Aww, Ushijima-kun, you’re so sweet! They’re definitely flirting.” Tendou nodded his head for emphasis, and though Ushijima seemed confused, he accepted the statement.
“Unfortunately,” Tendou continued. “Before we do anything else, I’m going to have to go back over there, wade through the jungle of mutual pining, swim through the sea of eternal salt, and retrieve my bag.” Tendou posed with one fist valiantly in the air. When Ushijima only looked more perplexed, he deflated. “Eita has it.”
“Oh, I see,” Ushijima said. “But the sea is out there.” He pointed towards the water, and Tendou wondered what he may have done in a past life to deserve meeting someone as delightful as Ushijima Wakatoshi. Maybe he’d been a valiant knight, or a superstar athlete.
“It’s just a joke, Ushijima-kun, don’t worry. So, fancy spending the afternoon with me? I mean, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, or you have other plans, or you need to meet your girlfriend or something-”
“Tendou,” Ushijima interrupted, which the redhead was grateful for, because he could very well have talked himself into a hole if he’d been allowed to carry on. What the hell was he mentioning a girlfriend for? This man was too attractive for Tendou. Ushijima was frying his brain.
“I’d like to spend the afternoon with you,” the aforementioned brain-fryer continued. “That would be nice.”
Tendou was almost certain he was going to die.
They retrieved Tendou’s bag from Eita – who was much closer to Shirabu than he had been when Tendou had left, the redhead noted with a sly glance – and headed back out onto the beach. Eita had given Tendou his own questioning look, his eyes demanding to know who Ushijima was, and why Tendou was shirtless, but Tendou had merely smiled and kept his mouth shut, taking joy in the irritated huff that left Eita’s throat. Served him right for making Tendou third-wheel.
As the new pair of friends strolled along the sand, looking for a place to sit, Tendou began to chatter amicably, hoping to discover something about Ushijima. Unfortunately, the taller man seemed much more content to listen than to speak, and while Tendou was grateful that there finally seemed to be someone who wouldn’t tell him to shut up when he went on one of his manga tirades, he also wanted to know more about the wonderfully attractive man who had literally crashed into his life.
Eventually, when they’d been sprawled in the sand for thirty minutes, Tendou digging little holes with his toes and Ushijima leaning back on his forearms, Tendou decided he’d just ask outright questions. He’d been trying to lead Ushijima into speaking, not wanting to seem overly pushy after accosting the man for the afternoon, but Ushijima was so adorably dense that he didn’t seem to pick up on any of Tendou’s small social cues. So, he was just going to have to be more direct.
“So, Ushijima-kun,” Tendou started. “Do you live alone?”
Ushijima shook his head. “I rent an apartment with Reon. We went to college together.”
“Oh, that’s nice!” Tendou said. “I actually share a flat with Eita, but we’ve been friends since high school.”
“He seems like a nice person.”
Tendou snorted. “Seriously? You listened to him ranting about the right time to move the warning flags, and you think he’s nice?”
Ushijima frowned. “He cares about public safety. That’s a nice thing to do.”
“He’s a walking salt shaker,” Tendou shot back. Still, it was sweet of Ushijima to watch Eita be an asshole and still figure out that a genuinely nice guy lay underneath.
“How come you didn’t come here with Reon?” Tendou asked, once he’d stopped laughing at the memory of Eita’s attempts at flirting with Shirabu.
“He had to work today,” Ushijima explained. “Though we do occasionally come down here together. He often catches crabs for me to look at from the rock pools.”
“Now see, that’s a nice person,” Tendou said. “Do you like wildlife, Ushijima?”
Ushijima nodded, sitting upright. Tendou looked up into his face and noticed that his friend’s eyes had lit up. He blinked a couple of times, but the image was still there. Ushijima looked excited, and it was positively adorable, and Tendou was very, very screwed.
“I like wildlife a lot,” Ushijima started. “But I prefer plants. I keep a small garden in the apartment, and I study agriculture sometimes when I have time to spare.”
Tendou grinned. Now he was getting somewhere.
“I tried keeping a cactus once,” he told Ushijima, and smiled sheepishly when the other man’s gaze turned down to meet his own. “I wasn’t very good. It exploded. I thought Eita was going to kill me.”
Ushijima frowned. “You must have overwatered it.”
Tendou laughed, flipping over onto his back. “That sounds like me. I guess I’m not cut out for raising plants, huh?”
“I could teach you.”
“What?” Ushijima’s voice had been quiet, and Tendou hadn’t quite made out the words. He thought he’d heard it right, but there was no way that sweet and shy Ushijima had actually-
“I could teach you how to look after plants.” Ushijima repeated, and Tendou stared. The brunet shifted his eyes away from the redhead’s direct gaze. “If you wanted me to.”
For a moment, Tendou lay still, but then he lurched upright and tackled Ushijima into a hug. “You’re such a great guy Wakatoshi!” he declared. “Can I call you Wakatoshi?”
Ushijima was quiet for a second, but then he nodded. Tendou thought he might be blushing. The back of his neck felt hot against Tendou’s arm.
All at once, Tendou was seized with the inexplicable urge to close the distance between them and kiss Ushi – Wakatoshi. But even he recognised that something like that would be a little too impulsive. No matter how easy it felt to be around Wakatoshi, they had only just met.
So instead, Tendou jumped to his feet and held out his hands to Wakatoshi, beaming bright and wide. “Come on, Wakatoshi. Let’s go have fun.”
It was late evening when Eita found Tendou again, huddled by the bonfire next to a hulking mass of a man, both of them watching the flames dance with tired smiles on their faces. Eita recognised his best friend’s companion as the same man he’d been with earlier, and he couldn’t deny the curiosity he felt. Who on Earth was he? And how had he survived an entire afternoon alongside the crazy ball of energy that was Tendou Satori?
Almost as though he was drawn to Eita’s thoughts, Tendou turned to look at him, waving high and fast. Eita sighed. He’d been debating heading home early, leaving his friend to his little rendezvous, but evidently that wouldn’t be happening.
Eita headed over to where Tendou was sat, mustering up a smile for the stranger beside him. “Hello,” he greeted. “I’m Semi Eita. I live with Tendou.”
“Ushijima Wakatoshi,” the man replied, and Eita did a double take.
“Oh, you’re the Ushijima that Kenji – I mean, Shirabu keeps talking about.” Eita shot Tendou a sharp glance warning him not to say anything, but if the look on his friend’s face said anything, Eita was in for a lot of teasing once they left the beach. No matter, he’d find his own ammunition soon enough.
“What did Shirabu say?” Tendou asked, a playful lilt to his voice.
“Just that your friend Ushijima here often brings the lifeguards on duty some cupcakes,” Eita replied, before nodding in Ushijima’s direction. “That’s really nice of you actually. Makes me wish I did my lifeguard shifts at this beach.”
“Oh, I bet there’s another reason you wish you worked here,” Tendou smirked. Before Eita could swipe at him, he turned back to Ushijima, his smirk softening into something unusually gentle. “You didn’t tell me you could bake, Wakatoshi!”
Eita raised an eyebrow. First name terms already?
Ushijima nodded. “I do bake occasionally.”
“Wow,” Tendou whistled. “Super strong, a planting wizard, and you bake? You’ll have to teach me how to do that too!”
Ushijima smiled at Tendou, and Eita was certain he could wrangle a good twenty minutes of mocking out of the way his friend’s cheeks flushed crimson in response. “I’d love to.”
Tendou beamed, but then he glanced back over at Eita, and smiled apologetically. “Another time though, okay Wakatoshi? I should escort Eita home now. He might get lost.”
Eita grumbled, glaring at Tendou as his friend confirmed that Ushijima had his phone number and the pair said their goodbyes. He may have been successful in finding something to tease Tendou about on their way home, but Eita at least had the courtesy to look away when Ushijima kissed his friend bashfully on the cheek. And he tried his best to act like he hadn’t heard Tendou’s answering whoop of joy, but he couldn’t help the way his eyes rolled, or the way a smile quirked at the corners of his lips. Eita’s fingers tightened around the piece of paper in his pocket, Kenjirou’s number written on it in smudged black ink.
It appeared that in one day, both he and Tendou had managed to be successful with romance.