Kei constantly wondered how he kept letting Yamaguchi talk him into all these things. First it was Tsukki, let’s go get a few drinks at this frat party and then suddenly it was we got invited to the frat party next Saturday and that’s just after your big test. Let’s go to celebrate! And that left Kei slipping out into the chilly air and leaning against the porch rail while taking deep breaths that weren’t punctuated with the scent of sixty college students doing questionable things while drunk.
A car was backing up to the front of the house, a little too fast. With the way it parked there, Kei figured it was with the ease of a feat practiced many, many times. In the porch’s light, he could make out something scratched on the Pontiac’s trunk and, once his eyes adjusted to the glare on the metal and the two drinks he’d let Yamaguchi give him, he spotted a messy BITCH scratched above the lock.
The light glinted just right when the trunk popped, and he caught a different scrawl above it that read SEXY.
“Hey hey hey!” he heard the tone of one of the members of the fraternity, Bokuto, cry out as he barrelled down the steps next to Kei. “Kuro! There you are! You got the refills?”
“You mean you started without me? Bo, how could you?!” a teasing voice came, and the owner was clambering out of the Grand-Am. Kei recognized the names, and the messy hair that belonged to Kuroo Tetsurou. He’d only ever seen him from across the room, perhaps because they had the same lecture despite Kuroo being two years ahead of him, and that was plenty close enough. Kuroo was an ace at coercing people into helping he and Bokuto practice for whatever little sports event they had coming up, and Kei wanted nothing to do with that.
Now that he knew that Kuroo had SEXY BITCH scratched into the trunk of his car, he decided with even more certainty that he never wanted to speak to him. Ever. Not a chance.
At least he had a pretty face, though. Kei had noticed that the first time he’d seen the man.
Kei stood there a few minutes longer, stepping away from the stairs and looking off the side of the porch, as if by some miracle they wouldn’t notice him that way. It would be more likely that they’d just ignore him, as long as Bokuto still wanted to go back and pester Akaashi, the bored frat-elected DJ of the night--and most other nights, probably. After he heard the trunk slam and some shuffling back up the steps, Kei wondered if it might be safe to head back. He turned to slip back into the party, maybe to find Yamaguchi and tell him it was time to go, and stopped short.
Kuroo Tetsurou grinned at him, a wolfish expression that made Kei’s chest squeeze in a way that wasn’t immediately identifiable.
Out of a habit he’d been unable to break all these years, Kei responded with a disgruntled click of his tongue. Kuroo raised an eyebrow, and his grin quirked sideways in amusement. He clearly didn’t seem like he was going to speak first, or move, so Kei cleared his throat and said, “Excuse me.”
“No hello? Or hey? A what’s up, even?” his grin widened, and then he feigned offense. “Why, treated so coldly in my own home!”
Kei blinked, slowly, and then drawled, “We’re outside.”
Kuroo stared for a moment, and then he snorted and stepped up beside Kei. He dropped an arm around Kei’s shoulders and leaned closer, beaming. “You’re such a smartass! You’re Tsukishima, right?” Kuroo, without waiting for an answer, started leading Kei back to the door. “I like you already!”
Oh, no, Kei thought in mild panic. He wanted to get away from the man with SEXY BITCH etched into the trunk of his car, not have the man himself draped all over him.
“Hey hey hey, Kuro, I convinced Yakkun to mix you a drink!” Bokuto’s voice rang out from across the room, by the little bar that separated the living area from the kitchen. “Get over here and get started, Mr. Over-an-hour-late!”
“Shit,” Kuroo muttered under his breath, and then called back, adopting a teasing tone rather quickly after his curse, “I had to stop to pick up more booze like you asked, Bo, so you can’t really blame me for being late!”
“A likely story,” someone snickered from somewhere in the room, and Kuroo raised his free hand to flip the room off at large.
“Say that to my face, Tora!” he roared, with a grin still stretched lazily across his face. “I’ll be over there for my drink in a minute, Yakkun!”
Kei couldn’t hear exactly what Yaku responded, but he was busy mixing something. He felt himself being guided again, and he pressed back a little, trying to free himself. Kei couldn’t help clicking his tongue again, and he felt Kuroo’s arm tug on his shoulders. Mildly irritated, he finally bit out, “Could you let go?”
He really wanted to find Yamaguchi, and probably his girlfriend--or almost-girlfriend, since Yamaguchi kept dragging his feet about actually asking her out even though everyone knew she’d say yes--and drag them both out of here before much else happened. He didn’t want Kuroo to get too attached, or something, or think that they were suddenly friends. Kei had already had his few drinks for the night and just wanted to get back to his room and finish the paper he had due next Wednesday. Just because he was ahead didn’t mean he couldn’t stay ahead, after all.
Kuroo, apparently, had other plans.
“Let you go and suffer Yakkun’s mixed drinks by myself?” he scoffed, incredulous. “Not a chance in hell.” And then, to Kei’s utter horror, Kuroo raised his voice to call, “Hey, Yakkun, why don’t you mix one for Tsukishima, too?”
Yaku called out an affirmative, and the number of bottles that Yaku reached for was immediately concerning. He didn’t feel that all of those liquors should be combined, let alone consumed within a single drink.
“I never said--”
“Eh? Tsukki?” a voice asked, and Yamaguchi slipped out of the crowd with Yachi on his arm. The girl looked exasperated, and when he saw the flush high in Yamaguchi’s cheeks, Kei could see why. When Yamaguchi drank too much he was always hard to handle, but maybe that was because Kei had trouble with the loud, exuberant types. “I was wondering where you’d gone!”
“Tsukki?” Kuroo’s tone was amused, and Kei struggled to ignore it.
“Yachi, how many has he had?”
“Oi, Tsukki, don’t worry about it, I’m fine!” Yamaguchi laughed, a little more loudly than usual. “I knew we had a class together, but I didn’t know you knew Kuroo?”
“I don’t,” he answered immediately, trying to shrug Kuroo’s arm off his shoulder. Amazingly, the other let him escape, and he turned to cast a frown at him. But then Kuroo raised an amused eyebrow at him and laughed as he reached up to ruffle Kei’s hair.
“Is he always this much of a tsundere?” he asked Yamaguchi, as if they’d been friends for years. And Yamaguchi, the traitor, just laughed along and nodded.
“Has been since we were kids,” he confirmed.
“Yamaguchi,” Yachi tugged at his arm, “don’t be mean.”
“He’s not being mean, Yacchan!” Kuroo laughed, and Kei remembered hearing that both of them were assistants to the same professor. No wonder he’d adopted a nickname for her, too, just like with Yaku and Bokuto. “He’s just teasing Tsukki a little. This grump seems like he could loosen up a little, doesn’t he?”
And he'd already adopted Yamaguchi's nickname for Kei. Wonderful.
The inflection that Kuroo put on Tsukki made Kei equal parts irritated and confused, though. Irritated, because they’d only been speaking for a grand total of maybe five minutes and he was already adopting Yamaguchi’s childish nickname, and confused because of the strange fluttering in his stomach.
“W-well, Tsukishima is just--”
“Yacchaaaan,” Yamaguchi almost whined, pulling his arm from her grasp just to drop it around her shoulders, “Kuroo’s right, you know! And you’ve got another drink waiting for you, Tsukki, so go hang out and make nice for once!”
“I’m not sorry, Tsukki!” he laughed at his own joke, and tugged an apologetic looking Yachi back into the crowd.
“I’m sorry, Tsukishima!” Yachi called back to him before they slipped once more into the party. She looked like she was afraid he’d be angry at her--and maybe Kei was a little irritated that she couldn’t reign in her almost-boyfriend, but he wasn’t angry at her--but then Kei groaned when an arm dropped back around his shoulders.
“So, Tsukki,” he beamed, and Kei opened his mouth to correct him with it’s Tsukishima, not Tsukki, but Kuroo continued, “I heard from a little birdie that we have a class together, apparently?”
“What of it?” Kei asked stiffly, reluctantly letting Kuroo lead him to the two vacant seats at the bar, next to Akaashi Keiji, who sat across from Bokuto. Akaashi gave Kei a look that was one part quiet surprise and another part a sudden understanding. The latter probably came from the exasperation Kei was projecting. He wondered if it was also part quiet pity for the poor soul that Kuroo had decided to drag around this time.
“Well, which one?” Kuroo prompted, sliding onto the stools as Yaku slid their two drinks towards them. Kei hadn’t seen him use any soda or juice and sincerely hoped there was some sort of mixer in this drink.
“It’s the biochem lecture,” Akaashi interjected, and Kei internally thanked him.
“What?” Kuroo blinked, looking back and forth between Kei and Akaashi before asking, incredulously, “Is it really? Do we all have that class together?”
Yes, Kei thought, but Akaashi nodded in answer to the question. And it really was true--Kei, Yamaguchi, Yachi, Kuroo, Bokuto, and Akaashi were all in that class, but they sat on opposite sides of the room. Kei had hoped that this trend would continue, but since the professor didn’t make a seating chart or anything, he had the distinct impression that there was going to be a seat shift.
“Wait, hang on, I knew that!” he ran a hand through his already messy hair and then turned back to Kei. “Didn’t I? It was Tsukki, on the first day of class, wasn’t it?”
Bokuto joined in with a loud laugh from across the bar in front of Akaashi. He had just plopped his own drink back on the counter, nearly sloshing it over the edge, and he pointed between Kuroo and Kei as he chuckled. “Hey hey hey, you’re right, Kuro! It really was!”
“Me?” Kei arched a brow, lifting his drink to take a sip. He wrinkled his nose and scowled with Yaku just smirking the whole time, and then swallowed and looked back between the upperclassmen. “What did I do?”
“You exist, Tsukki!” Bokuto had already adopted the name too, and Kei was going to have some words with Yamaguchi later. Bokuto had dissolved into laughter again and Kuroo snorted a little. Kei started to look towards Akaashi for an answer, but Kuroo cleared his throat.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but I, uh, tripped up the stairs in the lecture hall on the first day of class,” he ran a hand, once again, through his messy hair, and then lifted the drink Yaku had mixed him. While he took a much longer drink than Kei had dared, Kei took the moment to remember that he had, in fact, noticed when Kuroo had tripped on the first day of class.
He’d never admit that it was because his eyes had been drawn to a horrendous bedhead and that his gaze had lingered because of a tantalizing jawline. Never.
“Tell him why,” Bokuto snickered, and realization dawned in Yaku’s eyes.
“Oh. Oh. So this is the story you guys told me, huh?”
“Shut up,” Kuroo hissed, putting his cup down with a little more force than necessary. There was red high in his cheeks, and Kei was amused at his embarrassment.
Kei took another drink, grimaced, and tried not to question why he was voluntarily interacting when he looked Kuroo in the eye, smirked, and drawled, “Oh, no, I think I’m interested in this story now.”
That red spread to Kuroo’s ears, and Kei ignored the way his chest tightened and the back of his own neck started to burn. He regretted getting drawn in by Kuroo, even a little bit. Hell, Kei regretted drinking anything at all tonight, and almost wished he hadn’t bothered coming out to the party at all. But Yamaguchi had ways of convincing him to come out, and one of them might have been well, at least you’ll be able to ogle him from a distance, though Kei would probably deny that it had been effective at all.
“C’mon, bro, you can’t chicken out now,” Bokuto snorted, and Akaashi just sighed and took a casual sip of the cider in front of him. “You gotta finish the story!”
“This,” Kuroo punctuated his words with another long drink and a disgusted sound in the back of his throat that Kei could relate to on a personal level, the weight of Yaku’s mixed drink in his hand, “is all your fault, bro.”
Bokuto just slapped his hand on the counter once, twice, thrice, and continued laughing. Yaku waited expectantly, and Akaashi had an eyebrow quirked with a knowing look across his features even as he turned to his laptop, connected to the sound system, to queue some more songs. He understood Kei fairly well, since they had a lot of classes together and got along well enough as biochem lab partners, so Kei started to wonder if maybe Akaashi had realized more than expected.
Objectively, though, even if Akaashi had realized that Kei thought Kuroo was attractive, it wouldn’t mean much. It was true, after all.
“Ugh, fine,” Kuroo pushed his mostly empty glass at Yaku. “I’ll probably need another drink after this, Yakkun, since Bo is so set on me embarrassing myself.”
“I think you do that on your own just fine.”
The words slipped out before Kei had even considered them, and Kuroo stared blankly at him for a long moment before Bokuto’s renewed laughter, along with Yaku’s, broke the silence at the bar.
“Hey hey hey, Tsukki, nice burn!” he slapped the counter again, trying to regain his composure, and Kei heard Akaashi snort from his left. To his right, Kuroo let out a low whine, somewhere in the back of his throat.
I didn’t give you permission to call me that, Kei thought again, but instead of speaking he met Kuroo’s eyes and drained the rest of his glass.
This is a bad decision, he acknowledged, pushing his glass back towards Yaku with a grin. Yaku, having just slid Kuroo’s cup back over, grinned deviously and accepted Kei’s offer. Kei very pointedly did not watch how Yaku was making the drink, choosing to focus instead on Kuroo.
“We’re waiting,” he prompted, probably with more snark than necessary. “You dragged me over here when I was about to leave, so the least you can do is entertain me.”
Bokuto’s laughter increased, Yaku nearly spilled some of the liquor he was pouring in Kei’s cup, and Kuroo’s face went through a metamorphosis of sorts, starting with a flabbergasted expression that morphed into realization, and then into a smirk, and then ended with his confidence faltering just a little and his face and ears slowly reddening. Kei was amused by this, but also found it far more attractive than it had any right to be. Dammit, Kuroo.
“Ugh,” Kuroo finally groaned, leaning an elbow on the countertop and resting his chin on his hand, facing Kei. “If you must know, that first day of our biochem lecture, I got distracted by a pretty face and missed a step. Which may have resulted in faceplanting on the stairs and a decision to sit on the far side of the lecture hall after that, just hoping that the aforementioned pretty face would forget about it.”
Ah, so he was staring at someone who sits near me.
“I know Yachi is cute, but I’m pretty sure she’s taken,” he chose to tease instead, resting his own chin in hand as Yaku passed his cup back. Kei took a sip of it even as Kuroo downed half of his own in one go.
“You gotta...you gotta tell it right, Kuro,” Bokuto wheezed, trying not to laugh. It wasn’t working. To be fair, Kei thought that Bokuto had probably been drinking for hours before the actual party, because he’d seemed a little tipsy when he and Yamaguchi had arrived.
“I was afraid he’d say that,” Kuroo said to no one in particular, then his eyes focused slowly on Kei again. “Well. If I don’t say it he will,” Kuroo lifted his drink and actually finished it, which Kei somehow felt was a very bad idea considering he’d had it for less than five minutes. Especially with the face of disgust he made right before he focused once more on Kei, likely because of Yaku’s heavy-handed drink mixing.
“Well?” Kei prompted, amused by the distress that Kuroo seemed to be in.
“Well,” Kuroo imitated. “That pretty face that distracted me wasn’t Yachi’s. It was yours.”
Kei stared unblinkingly at Kuroo for a really long moment, ignoring the heat he felt pooling in his cheeks and trying to find words to say. His inflection when he’d said it was Kei that had made him miss a step and fall on his face, as well as the serious eye contact he maintained, was doing tricky things to Kei’s pulse. Luckily, he managed to bite back the your face is prettier that he blamed on the alcohol, but he was wondering if saying that would be better than leaving the long silence hanging between them.
And then there was laughter, and someone was draped over his back asking Yaku for a drink.
“Ha, that’s fantastic,” Yamaguchi giggled, words slightly slurred. “I can’t believe that’s why you tripped. Well, no, I can, since Tsukki’s as pretty as he is, but until you fell on your face he wouldn’t stop staring at you.”
Yamaguchi laughed again, unabashedly, and Kei felt the back of his neck burn as one of Kuroo’s dark eyebrows rose in disbelief and amusement.
“Ohoho, really now?” Kuroo’s eyes flashed--something dark and questioning, and Kei felt his throat go dry. Without really thinking about it, Kei reached blindly for his drink and proceeded to down about a third in one fell swoop. As soon as the bitterness exploded on his tongue, Kei knew he’d probably have a lot of regrets about that decision.
“Sometimes you can tell who’s going to be annoying on sight,” Kei offered, and Yamaguchi snorted.
“Please, Tsukki, you still stare at him even though he sits all the way across the ro--”
He froze at Yachi’s voice, and the petite young woman stood behind him, hands on her hips. Kei was immediately grateful for her presence. “Stop teasing Tsukishima already or he’ll stop helping you with your calculus.”
“Even if Tsukki stops helping, I’ve still got you, Yacchan!”
“No you won’t, because Tsukishima will strangle you first for embarrassing him, and then he’ll come after me for letting you, and Tadashi I swear I’m too young to die at a frat party, it’s only our first year of college--”
“I’ll protect you from Tsukki, Yacchan!” Yamaguchi laughed a little, his new drink from Yaku in hand as he hefted his weight off of Kei’s back to hug his almost-girlfriend to his chest. Kei saw him place a sloppy kiss on her forehead and told himself, yet again, that if they weren’t dating already he’d never forgive them. “But seriously, Tsukki, you’re pretty, he’s pretty, you’re both pretty, so just admit that you stare at each other a lot, okay?”
“Yamaguchi Tadashi, I’m too young to die because you tease him too much when you’re drunk!” he heard Yachi wail as Yamaguchi dragged her back into the living room, towards the card table where it seemed they’d been part of a board game. At least they weren’t like that couple over in the corner, from whom Kei immediately averted his gaze.
Bokuto was still struggling to breathe, and Kei heard him repeating Yamaguchi’s “You’re pretty, he’s pretty, you’re both pretty” in broken breaths. He was still wheezing with the force of his laughter, and when Kei chanced a glance at Akaashi, he saw amusement and a smug smirk in his features.
“You are both pretty,” Akaashi offered, almost teasingly, and Kei wanted to eat his own words. Akaashi Keiji didn’t know him well at all--
Kei almost choked on his tongue, turning his gaze back to Kuroo. He was forced to admit that maybe, just maybe, the red in Kuroo’s cheeks wasn’t all because of the alcohol. In fact, he started to wonder if maybe none of it was because of the alcohol, since there hadn’t really been enough time for it to really sink into his system yet.
“I think ‘Kaashi’s the prettiest!” Bokuto interjected cheerfully. He’d finally stopped wheezing, and Yaku snorted at him.
“I,” Kei started, but couldn’t even find the words to continue. “What.”
Bokuto laughed again, and Kuroo, while still looking thoroughly embarrassed, forced a tenuous smirk across his face and leaned a little closer into Kei’s space.
“I said that you’re prettier.”
Kei swallowed his disbelief, and maybe a little bit of the pride that was already shattered in Kuroo’s company, and reached up to tug at wild black locks.
“Well, maybe if you did something about this bird’s nest, you’d be prettier for once.”
He tried to ignore the way Bokuto's laughter rose again and turned to take another long drink. He would definitely regret this later, but he'd had drinks before Kuroo had arrived and he'd been staring at Kuroo from across a lecture hall for over two months. And, if the others could be believed, Kuroo had been doing the same.
Kei realized, belatedly, that his fingers were still lingering in Kuroo's fringe, and he pulled his hand back. When he noticed, Kuroo reached forward and lightly grabbed his wrist.
“Hey, Tsukki,” he started, his voice a little breathless. “Wanna go out to dinner sometime? Like tomorrow, maybe?”
Like forever, maybe? supplied Kei's traitorous mind.
His mouth was much more controlled, but it still was going to get him into trouble. By tomorrow at least, if not tonight.
“Only if we don't take your car.”
A look of elation flitted across his handsome features for just a moment, and then his brow furrowed a little in confusion.
“How are we supposed to get anywhere without a car?” Kuroo's brows shot up into his fringe, now. There was something of a challenge in the quirk of his lips, and Kei was admittedly a competitive person.
“If you think I'm getting in a Pontiac that has SEXY BITCH scratched into the trunk, you're delusional.” Kei's tone was deadpan. “And the public transportation around here is pretty reliable, so I'd assume that's how we'd get around.”
Kuroo blinked a few times, as if surprised by Kei’s disdain for his car. But then a smirk twitched the corner of his mouth up and he leaned even farther into Kei’s space. “Oh? But it’s almost like it was carved there just for you.”
His tone was lower, a touch huskier, and Kei sipped his drink to hide the way he nearly gulped at the sound. At this point, he was ready to admit that he was royally fucked and he had no one to blame but himself. In about fifteen minutes, he could probably blame whatever he did on the alcohol, but right now? It was all Kei, and he knew it. He’d let himself be dragged into this situation by a pretty face he’d tried to convince himself to ignore, and yet here he was anyway.
“That’s too bad,” he found his voice, arching a brow at Kuroo with more confidence than he felt. Thank you, liquid courage. “Considering that I’ll never be in that car.”
With a soft laugh, Kuroo leaned even closer, rested his elbow on the bar, and tilted Kei’s chin downward just slightly. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” he winked, and then he leaned forward to press a kiss to the corner of Kei’s lips. The touch was light and quick, there and gone again, and he had to fight not to follow when Kuroo pulled back.
Damn tease, Kei thought.
“Damn tease,” Kei murmured.
In that moment, Kei realized that his brain-to-mouth filter had unsurprisingly been compromised by the alcohol, as was to be expected from any college frat party, and also that he would very much like to kiss Kuroo. Properly.
So he did.
Kei reached forward, his fingers tangling loosely in the hair at the nape of Kuroo’s neck, before he pulled Kuroo in to steal the air from his lungs. Kuroo hummed somewhere deep in his throat, his fingers sliding along Kei’s jawline to cup the side of his face, and Kei tilted his head for better leverage.
“Hey hey hey, save it for after your date tomorrow, guys!” a voice whined, sounding rather hazy and distant even though Kei knew for a fact that Bokuto was still just across the bar. “We were just starting to have fun, so I can’t have you guys disappearing somewhere!”
Yaku laughed, and topped off their drinks as they separated so Kuroo could cuss at Bokuto for “ruining the moment”, and Kei’s eyes sought Yamaguchi and Yachi out in the throng. Still at the table playing games and unlikely to want to leave any time in the immediate future, probably. So he sighed and turned to Akaashi next to him. Akaashi arched an amused brow at him and allowed a knowing grin to stretch across his face.
“Something to say?” Kei asked, boredly.
“You’re both pretty,” Akaashi offered, queuing another song. The makeshift bartender across from Kei laughed once more, and Kei snorted.
He didn’t say anything when Kuroo’s hand lightly squeezed his knee while Kuroo talked, animatedly, with Bokuto. Kei took a turn with Akaashi’s laptop to DJ for a bit when Akaashi excused himself for a few moments, and the night passed in a spinning haze of colored lights, sound, and a few stolen kisses.
Kei left looking forward to dinner the following night, if not looking forward to the hangover he figured he’d have when he woke up again.
“You’re kidding,” Hinata howled with laughter, doubled over at the table where the wedding party was seated. Yamaguchi and Yachi were dancing together out on the floor, her long white gown twisting around her legs so thoroughly that Kei was impressed she hadn't tripped yet. Despite Tetsurou’s pestering, he and Kei had yet to join them there. “That’s how you guys got together? A frat party? I can’t even imagine Tsukki at a frat party!”
“It’s true!” Tetsurou swore, raising a hand solemnly, though there was a grin threatening to stretch across his face. “Three years ago, I seduced a drunk man and scored a date. Not exactly the greatest tactic, granted, but here we are!”
Kei snorted, tugging on their intertwined hands as he reluctantly convinced himself to stand and pull his boyfriend towards the floor. “I think you mean that a drunk man seduced you, Tetsurou.”
With a laugh and a sappy grin, he acquiesced. “Ah, you’re probably right, Kei.”
“As usual,” Kei huffed, and Tetsurou pulled him close for a moment to press a kiss to the corner of Kei’s mouth, opposite of the first kiss they’d shared.
“Ohoho, Mr. Hot Stuff,” he snickered next to Kei’s ear. “Confident in your skills of seduction, are we?”
Kei rolled his eyes, offered his arm, and spoke bluntly. “I’m only giving you one chance for this dance, Tetsu. Are you going to take it or not?”
Tetsurou grinned, stepping closer to Kei in order to take up his position, and answered, “Always.”