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The Worth for and of Everything

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It takes Tooru three heart beats long to understand what just happened.

Then he’s shoving Hajime away, stumbling over his own feet while trying to find a wall or something to slam into, a bit of balance that’ll keep him from fainting right on the spot. A heavy, uncomfortably hot blush spreads from his cheeks down to his neck.

“What the hell, what the actual hell!”

Hajime looks at him like he’s the irrational one here. “No need to overreact like that. I’m sorry, I thought you were waiting for me to – “

“To kiss me?!” Tooru’s voice is shrill, and he hates that it goes all high-pitched when he’s emotional and really damn confused, but he could care less right now. His lips are sparking like they’re electrified. Because you don’t get kissed by your best friend every day, and oh my god, he’s going to panic, he’s definitely going to flip out about this in a few seconds.

“You. Why. Talk.” Tooru jabs his finger into Hajime’s chest, teeth gritted into a snarl, and tries not to hyperventilate. He had imagined his first kiss with Hajime, for the impossible situation of Hajime actually returning his most likely unrequited year-long crush, but it hadn’t been like this. They’d gone home from training, Hajime had been supposed to pick up text books from his place, and now Tooru’s standing in the open front door with a blush on his cheeks and his first kiss bloomed on Hajime’s mouth.

Hajime lifts his hands defensively, his bag slipping from his shoulder to the crook of his elbow in a harsh drop of weight. “I thought you wanted me to kiss you,” he says quietly. A shadow has fallen over his face, which Tooru doesn’t like at all. He looks downright heartbroken, like a kicked and beaten puppy. “I thought maybe there’s a tiny chance that you’re at least a bit into guys, and I’m sick of pretending like I don’t like you as more than a friend, that there’s nothing more. It’s stupid, okay, I get that, you’re horrified, don’t look at me like that. We can still be friends, I can get over this, you don’t have to worry about anything. It’ll be just like before – us, best friends,” he laughs, bitterness swinging heavily in the low drop of his voice, “shit, I fucked it up, didn’t I? You probably never even thought about me like that.”

Tooru doesn’t catch anything after Hajime says that first sentence. He never wanted this to happen. He’d been happy with them as friends, had his hopeless crush under control, masking it with meaningless flirting towards girls and the usual banter with Hajime. I thought you wanted me to kiss you.

Hajime knows that Tooru –

His first impulse is to run. It’s not really a possibility, though, so Tooru’s lack of filter gets the best of him and, as usual, proceeds to ruin stuff.

“You don’t have to kiss me out of pity, you asshole!”

Hajime stops talking. He blinks, once, twice. Then, very slowly, he puts his bag down and crosses the threshold into the house. “What.”

Tooru is already spaced out, staring at his best friend, mouth parted as realization floods through his brain. “You. You noticed. I thought I wasn’t obvious, but you always knew me too well. When did you find out?”

“Find out what? What are you talking about?”

“My crush.” Tooru waves his hand impatiently between their chests. “On you. Was I staring? How’d you – well, doesn’t really matter.” He sinks back against the wall, feeling his body give up on the adrenaline rush as his muscles deflate. “I don’t want your pity. And I’d appreciate a quick rejection, I have homework and I kind of want to be alone a bit.”

“Are you actually braindead?” Hajime’s palm collides with Tooru’s shoulder, shoving him hard against the wall. There’s a snarl to his voice, and Tooru recognizes that expression – he’s hurt. “Didn’t you hear anything that I just said?”

“I did! You know I like you, you tried to be a good friend and decided to be all noble and kiss me. Listen closely, okay, I don’t want that.” He does, more than anything, he’d give all he has for Hajime to look at him with soft eyes and warmth in his smile just once. Tooru rubs a hand down his face, looks at the ground. “I get it, we’re friends. Best friends. That’s why I didn’t say anything. But this isn’t your problem. I don’t want your pity, and I don’t expect you like me back. I know you don’t.” The laugh that worms its way up his throat comes out as much more bitter than he wanted. “You didn’t have to waste that kiss on me.”

“Waste it,” Hajime parrots.

“On me,” Tooru helps him out. He tries to smile and isn’t surprised when he fails. “Tell me you feel as awkward as I do, that’ll make me feel better.”

Hajime stares at him for a bit longer. Tooru can almost watch the machinery of his brilliant head turn behind his skull (and everyone who can’t see how incredible of a player and strategist Hajime is can kindly get lost, in Tooru’s humble biased opinion), and when it seems to have clicked, Hajime shakes his head in disbelief. “Give me a moment here, alright, sometimes you talk so damn fast that I don’t understand a word. You want me to kiss you, but you don’t think… I should?”

Tooru’s shoulders sag forward. Hajime reaches out for him, slow, but doesn’t touch him. His hand hovers before Tooru’s chest. Maybe he’s gonna grab him and punch his nose in a second. Tooru quickly closes his eyes. He doesn’t want to see it coming, at least, and then he makes himself reply.

“Why would you ever kiss me? First off, you don’t even want to, and second… I’m not really someone you’d choose, we both know that. No need to rub it in.”

Tooru can’t see through his closed eyes, but he’s sure that Hajime is still looking at him when he starts talking again. “Let me get this as crystal clear as possible. You think you don’t – correct me if I’m wrong, seriously – you think you don’t deserve to be kissed?”

“It sounds stupid if you put it like that.” Tooru keeps his eyes firmly closed. He wants to die a tiny bit, or bite off his own tongue, and also maybe never try this thing called falling in love ever again. It only made his heart go all chaotic and hopeless, having stuck around for longer than anything else in Tooru’s life except, maybe, his family, but that also includes Hajime so it’s pointless to think about anything Tooru that isn’t also Hajime. So he swallows, juts out his chin, fists curled up by his side, and squeezes his eyes shut until flashes of colours twitch behind his lids. “I don’t need your pity, so thanks but no thanks. I don’t want you to kiss me because you’re trying to be a good friend and think that I’m gonna throw myself off a bridge if you don’t. ”

(Because you feel that you have to, his brain insists. But if you’d like to, if you really want to kiss me, oh my god my mouth is yours and I’ll really try hard not to let it show that I’ve never kissed anyone, I promise.)

Warm fingers touches against his cheek.

The noise he makes is pathetic, a tiny sigh that’s melting right out of his stomach, and the spark of heat that jolts through his body shouldn’t feel so good. Somewhere far away, Hajime says something that sounds like his name. Tooru mumbles back: “Can we just drop this and forget that any of this happened?”

“No,” Hajime says immediately. “We’re gonna talk about this. Right now.” And judging by the door that’s slammed shut just a second later and by the fact that Hajime’s still crowding him against the wall of his parents’ corridor, Tooru fears that he may actually be serious about this. Not good.

“I think there’s nothing to say about this,” he tries, and it’s hard to speak when all taste of air in his lungs is gone from the feeling of Hajime’s lips brushing softly against his own, as chaste and careful as if that kiss actually meant something –

Hajime’s growl is loud in the empty corridor. “You’re not getting out of this. Do you really think that you’re not worth being kissed? Wait. Don’t tell me you…” He’s silent for a moment. Please, Tooru thinks, just let it be.

“It’s okay, really. Forget about it.”

“You don’t think you deserve any love,” Hajime says, horror cowering like a wild animal in his words.

Tooru tries to remember what breathing is like. He fails spectacularly.

The touch on his cheek moves, and oh, Hajime’s cradling his face with both hands then, with his rough palms whose strength Tooru has heard a thousand times in the hard snap of a volleyball against the ground. Hajime traces his jaw as if he’s hesitating, like there’s something to be shy or careful about. Tooru wants to kiss him. He knows the calluses on Hajime’s thumbs like his own reflection, but he only ever dreamt about how good and right and liketheybelongthere they’d feel against his neck.

“Hajime,” his mouth says against his will.

“That okay?”

God. “Yeah.”

“Alright. Are you gonna stop your act now and listen to me?” Hajime asks softly.

Tooru licks his lips, hesitating for a second. “Can I keep my eyes closed?”

Hajime snorts. He’s close, the softness of his breath tickling Tooru’s lips, which isn’t helping at all, and it never has before. He sounds like he’s smiling. “You’re such a dork. But yeah. As long as you let me talk – “

“Look, I can explain this. It’s nothing, really.”

“Again with the not letting me talk. That’s not how communication works.”

“As if you know anything about that. I’m pretty certain you and Kyoutani have a secret language that consists entirely of growls and tackling each other, not to mention that dark-and-mysterious-glaring thing you’ve got going on with Karasuno’s captain. Honestly, how is that even communication? I know you can tell stories with your eyebrows but it’s gotten a bit ridiculous lately – “ He has to breathe, cuts off any attempt of Hajime to lift his voice, eyes still shut and it’s so dumb but he’s in love, okay, this isn’t his fault and he doesn’t need anyone’s pity, “but sure, let’s talk about communication, how you’re so blind and oblivious that it physically hurts me? Wanna talk about that? That you never know when a girl’s in love with you, when they’re cheering on you and not me, and hell, you have no idea that it’s boys as well, do you? And your fucking best friend, Hajime, you try to pretend that you aren’t disgusted by kissing me just then and I hate that, I hate that you’re playing me like that.”

He’s angry and it shows in a waterfall of words. Tooru slams his fist against Hajime’s shoulder, finding it even when he’s temporarily blinder in a literal sense than Hajime, and his fingers claw into the fabric until he’s holding him by his collar, their foreheads still together and flaring like wildfire where Hajime’s skin is against his.

“Shut up, Tooru,” Hajime whispers to his lips. “I’m trying to tell you something and I swear to god, I’m gonna make you listen.” His voice is quiet, but Tooru still feels like this is a good time to shut up, so he does. He’s exhausted, he’s done.

His soul aches. Hajime can say whatever he wants now. It’s over anyways. So Tooru nods, says: “Okay.”

A moment passes. Hajime sighs. “Good.”

Then, he puts his hand on Tooru’s neck, cups it with his burning-hot palm. His fingers rest on Tooru’s nape, almost shy, as if he hasn’t caught on the almost feverish shiver wrecking Tooru’s body, how his fists are painfully tight so he doesn’t just pull Hajime in, against himself to steady his own wild heart, so he doesn’t bury his face against Hajime’s beautiful pulse, so he doesn’t say something he can’t take back. But Hajime exhales and it’s a tremble that echoes right into Tooru’s skin. He’s nervous, Tooru finds it in his motions, in the slight hesitation before Hajime shuffles closer, their noses brushing together just barely.

“I wanted to kiss you.”

“Liar.”

“I’m not – “

“You are. I said I don’t need pity.” Tooru can barely hear his own voice as it drops to a whimper. He feels like Hajime’s wounded him, pushing his ribcage open and wide and has a callused hand around his lovestruck, hope-filled heart.

“You don’t give yourself enough credit. You never do.” Hajime’s sigh is almost a laugh, and he rubs the tip of his nose against Tooru’s, in the same careful way that he touched Tooru’s cheek. “Believe me when I say that you’re not at all what I expected to ever want. Took me a long time to admit it to myself. But I caught you staring, you know. You kept looking at me like you were expecting something, always had your hands on me, your eyes – god, your eyes, you don’t even know, they were on my mouth all the time like you wanted to kiss me, and you kept hugging me and I guess I just hoped that I really knew you well enough to interpret your signs right. And I suppose I did.”  

Everything is warm, quiet, as if they’re alone in the world, the air thick and their breath too loud and Tooru can’t, just can’t open his eyes. He’s going to ruin the moment. Hajime will snap out of it, stumble back as if Tooru had bitten him, and he can’t bear to see this. This is all he’s going to get, so he’s going to be a damn coward if only this lasts longer.

So he presses closer, lets something like a sob or a cry come out of his stupid throat. “This is a really bad joke, even for you.”

Hajime’s thumb feels for Tooru’s pulse and begins to stroke in slow, tiny circles.

“You’re an idiot,” Hajime mumbles, his voice dipping into that low, honey-warm octave that makes Tooru’s heart flutter like a little dumb bird. The words make him stiffen. It’s been so easy to love Hajime, but maybe it’s time to stop now.

Tooru finds a way to spit out words, his wrath flaring back up like fire. His eyes snap open, head jolting up and he stares right in Hajime’s eyes, dark and blown wide and so painfully gorgeous. “Oh alright, insult me then, that’s helping a lot. You know, I thought that maybe this meant something, that you weren’t just going around kissing people who looked pitiful and had a crush on you since third grade but hey, apparently I was wrong. This is the most embarrassing moment of my life, and that’s counting that one time you my dad walked in when I was – you know what, forget it, could you just ignore all of this and go home and tomorrow at practice, I’ll call you nicknames and you can shout at me for a bit, how’s that sound?“

Tooru’s desperate rambling is cut off then, because Hajime slaps a hand over his mouth. Somehow, he doesn’t look put off or remotely bothered by the most idiotic constellation of words that Tooru has ever poured out in his presence. Instead, he – Tooru swallows, and oh.

Hajime beams at him. “You did always talk a lot. I thought I’d start to find it annoying at some point, but when you’re not there, I kind of miss it.” He takes his hand off Tooru’s mouth, curls his fingers so gently around Tooru’s neck, and his eyes are alight and those have got to be stars whirling around the universe that is his smile.

The kiss that Hajime gives him is soft, and it makes something burst into radiance behind Tooru’s ribcage. Hajime’s mouth is warmth and a breathless “I want to kiss you, I always want to kiss you and I want to be the only one to ever do it” whispered between Tooru’s lips and the whimpering little hiccup he makes. Hajime laughs, pulls back a moment to watch him.

“That okay?”

Tooru chuckles at the repetition from earlier. God, this is a bit like flying, if it felt like exploding from the inside and happiness dancing by the edges of his lips. “Yeah. But you still didn’t confess to me. Not really. You didn’t say the three magical words, and I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure that my endless rambling contained at least two full-blown love prayers, so you kind of owe me – “

Hajime kisses him again. And that’s very okay, Tooru decides, finally pulling him in so that Hajime can bracket him properly against the wall and they can kiss like stupid teenagers in love.

Maybe he doesn’t need three words, Tooru thinks faintly while he’s melting, falling apart and oh, it’s definitely okay when Hajime makes a dark noise in his chest and opens his mouth just a little, that is better than anything he dreamt of, with the fingers on his neck sliding into his hairline throwing sparks and Tooru feeling like his chest is brimming with too much sunlight-trembling air.

Later, when Hajime has to go home, he lifts Tooru’s hand to his lips and kisses his knuckles. “Everything,” he says.

Tooru raises a brow. “Seems that becoming my boyfriend doesn’t keep you from talking in riddles sometimes.”

But the next moment he’s kind of too breathless for sarcasm, because Hajime steals a last kiss and says, easy as nothing else: “You deserve everything. If you forget that again, I’ll remind you. Every day, if necessary.”

It’s probably not polite to just close the door in his face, but Tooru hears Hajime laugh about it as he’s sinking down the corridor’s wall again, cheeks red and eyes maybe a tiny bit watery. “Idiot,” he says, wiping at his face, trying not to smile. “That doesn’t count as a confession either.”