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Tactile

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Mob had noticed that Hanazawa was a really tactile person. If it wasn’t a hand on his shoulder, back or arm, they were always sitting close enough for their shoulders to brush. Or when they’d be staying at Hanazawa’s place to watch movies together, he would often times throw his arm over him and snuggle close.

He didn’t think much of it at first. After all, wasn’t that what friends did? Tome would shake him around when she got excited and he was used to captain Musashi carrying him back after he passed out during a run. The members of the Body Improvement Club often patted each other on the back or even gave congratulatory bear hugs and Master Reigen was quick to rest his hand on Mob’s shoulder, pat it as a thanks for a job well done.

He didn’t really notice, even though Hanazawa was the only one to leave lingering touches that were often coupled with intense looks, even though Hanazawa often leaned closer into his personal space than others did and sometimes caressed his fingers over Mob’s when they were talking. He did realize, somewhere in the back of his mind, that Hanazawa was the only one of his friends that would sometimes get flustered by his own actions, but didn’t think much of it anyway. Hanazawa did have a tendency to get carried away. To Mob, it seemed perfectly normal.

It didn’t seem like such a strange thing to him. Hanazawa was trying to change, he was trying to become a friendlier, more easily approachable person and he was making great strides. Just because Mob was slow to get comfortable enough with others to consider touching them didn’t mean others shouldn’t seek out comfort from friendly contact. If Hanazawa wanted to be closer with other people, Mob couldn’t deny that for him. And he really didn’t mind. Hanazawa was always gentle, his hand on Mob’s waist light when walking together, his leg brushing against his when he’d sit down next to Mob in a café.

Mob didn’t mind it at all. Quite the opposite.

He just didn’t think about it much. Didn’t even consider them being anything more than friendly gestures from someone who liked to get close.

*

Hanazawa liked to invite him over often. They lived pretty close to each other, so they’d walk together many times a week when their schedules matched up and most of those times ended with Hanazawa inviting him over. Together, they’d watch movies and play games late into the night, Mob completely losing track of time. It was rare but nice to have so much fun that time would just stop existing. Hanazawa lived alone, so Mob knew that when he came over, it would be just the two of them. It was nice. Despite his nervousness on the first few times, Hanazawa’s small apartment had become a safe place to stay, comfortable and nice. They’d often times pull Hanazawa’s mattress off the bed and sit on it while playing, Hanazawa pressing his leg against Mob’s. It was nice and cozy. Warm. Soft. Mob liked it very much.

On this Friday, though, they were doing something a bit different.

Hanazawa was already waiting by the time Mob arrived at his apartment. He opened the door before Mob could even ring the bell, smiling widely.

”I hope you don’t mind. I already ordered us food. I was so hungry!”

Mob didn’t mind at all. After all, he always ordered the same thing and Hanazawa knew that. He guided Mob in with his hand on Mob’s back as if Mob didn’t know where everything was. And Mob didn’t really mind, not when Hanazawa dragged his hand across his back before letting go, pulling a chair for him and sitting on the other side of the table. Their knees knocked together under the small table.

Hanazawa pushed a takeaway box for him. His fingers brushed over Mob’s fingers. Accidentally, probably.

”You know,” he said. ”I haven’t had others stay over night before. I’m kind of nervous.” He laughed in a way that in no way sounded like nervous.

Mob smiled. His overnight bag was resting against the legs of the table.

”I haven’t been invited to stay over before either.”

”Oh?” Hanazawa asked. ”Then I guess we’ll have to learn together, then.” He seemed really pleased by this. “Not that it’s any different from the normal, right?”

Hanazawa was a big eater. Even though Mob had taken Captain Musashi’s advice to eat more to help his muscle growth to heart, Hanazawa had still ordered thrice the amount Mob ever did. But then again, he would often lean over the table with some piece of food and asked if Mob wanted a taste.

He was so quick to share.

”Oh, these dumplings are really good. Kageyama, here. Try these!” He offered a dumpling over the table in his chopsticks. Mob leaned over.

He’d been right, it was good. Mob smiled.

He had to wonder, though. At what point had Hanazawa stopped sending the food flying over the table with his powers and started using his own utensils instead? Mob couldn’t remember. He chewed on the dumpling for a moment. Maybe he was trying to use his powers less these days.

Mob thought it was nice. And Hanazawa was smiling, too.

They ate and Hanazawa kept conversation going. Even though Hanazawa had so much more food and he did most of the talking, he still finished his dinner first. He moved to his TV set and started prepping the game while Mob was still eating.

He lifted his head, when he heard Hanazawa cursing quietly.

Looking away from his nearly finished box, he could see Hanazawa standing in the middle of his room, a slightly panicked look on his face.

”Is something wrong?” Mob asked.

”Huh? No! I mean… Yes. Kind of. I didn’t – I forgot – I don’t have a futon. I swear, I didn’t do this on purpose, it was a pure accident.”

Whatever he was worried about, it must have been genuine. He seemed so agitated.

”You don’t have a futon?” Mob repeated.

”Yeah,” Hanazawa said miserably. “I told you, I’ve never had anyone stay the night. I didn’t plan this. I didn’t plan this at all.”

Mob was still having a hard time seeing what the problem was and Hanazawa must have seen that. He waved helplessly at his bed. “I only have one mattress.”

Oh. That was a bit troublesome. There was no couch to sleep on either.

“You can,” Hanazawa started, then seemed to think it over. “I can sleep on the floor, I guess.”

That was silly. The mattress looked large enough to fit them both if they were careful. Mob said so to Hanazawa as well. In response, Hanazawa’s face went red.

”Um,” he said. ”Yeah. I guess. You’re right. Sure. That’s fine with me!”

Mob supposed it would be a bit cramped and he most definitely was not used to sharing a bed, but it was Hanazawa. He wouldn’t mind Hanazawa.

They dragged the mattress off the bed again and made a little nest on the floor out of pillows and blankets. Hanazawa offered Mob a controller and booted up the game. Laying side by side, their legs stuck out from over the mattress and under Hanazawa’s bedframe, all the pillows of the house making a soft rise towards the small TV set. It was nice and comfy and Mob could have just sunken into the fresh smelling covers and never get up.

The game was a co-op sidescroller, and it was apparently pretty new. Hanazawa was good at it. Very good and he liked to show it. He was kicking down the enemies with no problem, showing flashy moves while Mob was still learning controls.

They ended up playing for a few hours and by the end of that time, Mob had gotten a good grasp of the game. Hanazawa’s arm was pressed against his, he’d been slowly inching closer all through the night without Mob realizing, but now they were side to side. Mob had seen Shou do that to Ritsu, to try to distract him to get an easy victory, shoving his elbows into Ritsu’s side ”on accident” and getting into Ritsu’s personal bubble.

This didn’t feel as distracting as Hanazawa must have thought, though. It was warm and cozy and Mob liked it. He was glad Hanazawa was as easy with touching. It was something Mob wouldn’t have known how to ask for, so to have Hanazawa initiate it was nice.

His friendship with Hanazawa felt different than it did with others. Mob couldn’t quite explain it himself. He didn’t mind it, not at all. But it was different.

He was glad to have someone like Hanazawa.

Ah. In his distraction he’d ended up dying on the screen.

Hanazawa shifted and lifted his hand to run it up Mob’s back.

”Getting tired?” he asked.

”Mmh,” Mob said. Maybe a little.

Hanazawa smiled and bumped their shoulders together softly, his hand stopping on Mob’s lower back. ”Then how about we switch from games to a movie, huh?”

That did sound like a good idea. Mob nodded.

Hanazawa clawed his way out from under the covers and got the game out. Meanwhile Mob got up as well and went to wash his teeth and change into his pajamas in the bathroom. Just a simple t-shirt and some worn cotton pants. By the time he got back out, Hanazawa had already started going through his streaming choices. He took a look at Mob, then did a double take.

”Your training is really starting to pay off,” he said with a smile.

Mob looked at his arms. ”You think so?” he asked.

”Yeah! Definitely. Trust me, I’d notice.”

He was so nice. Mob smiled as well and got back down on the mattress.

”So, what’s the goal?” Hanazawa asked kindly, turning to his side to run his eyes up and down Mob. ”Working on a good sixpack?”

Mob placed his hand on his stomach.

”I think it might be starting to show,” he said.

Hanazawa’s eyes grew larger. ”What, really?” He lifted his hand, then put it right back down, shoved it under the pillow he was leaning on. ”Cool.”

Mob hummed. He thought so too. ”Do you think it would make me more attractive?”

Hanazawa smiled. ”As if you needed to look any better than you already do.”

Hanazawa was so nice. It was kind of an ego booster to hear an attractive person say something like that.

”Thank you, Hanazawa. You’re very handsome too.”

Oh. Hanazawa was good at giving out compliments, but didn’t seem to know what to do with them once he got them himself. His face went red and he did look very pleased, but momentarily he was at a loss for words.

”Ah. Well. Thank you, Kageyama!”

This was fun.

”Of course,” he said, leaning closer. ”But you don’t need me to tell you how handsome you are. You have…” He thought about it a moment, trying to put to words what he thought about. ”You have a very nice face. I like it.” Maybe not the best compliment, he thought after the fact.

But then again, Hanazawa looked like he’d liked it very much, smiling this odd smile, eyes shining and redness spreading all the way to his ears.

”But maybe that’s just my preference,” he continued. ”I really like blue eyes. I think they’re beautiful.” Now that he thought about it, Tsubomi had blue eyes as well.

The noise Hanazawa made was curious. High-pitched, light, like swallowing words he’d meant to say. He was slowly retreating into the pile of blankets he’d gathered around him, the redness of his face only amplified by the pale blue of the blanket around him. He still looked very much pleased, but in a sort of stiff, embarrassed sort of way.

Maybe Mob had gone too far. He pulled back, sat on his pillow. Maybe he’d been a little insensitive.

But then again, he’d been saying nice things. True things, too.

Maybe Hanazawa still had some trouble with the humility thing. Mob supposed it could be hard to change something so integral to one’s life and he shouldn’t poke him just to get a reaction he liked.

”You know, Kageyama – ” Hanazawa started suddenly, jumping out from under his blankets. He moved close. Really close. He took Mob’s hand into his. He had that intense look in his eyes again, a heavy stare that seemed to leave room for nothing but Mob in it.

And then he just… didn’t say anything more. Hanazawa left his mouth hanging open mid thought, letting no words come through.

”Hanazawa?”

He swallowed visibly, twisted his mouth and drew in a shuddering breath.

Then, suddenly, just as fast as he’d grabbed on, Hanazawa let go of his hand.

”I… never mind. I need to… I’m going to go change into my… pajamas,” Hanazawa said, waving his hand dismissively. ”It was nothing. Never mind.”

It had clearly been something. Hanazawa got up in a hurry and made his way into his bathroom. Mob watched him go, then stood up himself to get water from the kitchen. He stopped by the bathroom door to hear Hanazawa muttering to himself inside.

Mob understood. Sometimes he had so many thoughts in his head that he wanted to speak, so many things he wanted to talk about. But the words… He was missing the words and when he’d try to say what he was thinking, he’d end up confusing others. It was embarrassing. Most of the times it was just easier to let the others do the talking. Collect his thoughts. He couldn’t blame Hanazawa for feeling a little overwhelmed, not when he’d been the one who had teased him first like that.

Mob drank in silence and returned back to the mattress. He made himself comfortable, legs sticking out from under the covers, feet kicking in the chilly air. Hanazawa didn’t stay away for long. Mob could hear him flushing and then the door opened and out stepped the regular old, unbothered Hanazawa. He smiled as he got back.

“Did you choose a movie?” he asked.

Oh. Mob had not.

Hanazawa chuckled softly and got down next to him, shoulder to shoulder.

“Let’s see,” he said.

*

Morning light was streaming through where the curtains hadn’t been closed properly. Mob blinked his eyes slowly, blinked a few times more until what he was seeing grew sharper, edges appearing where the walls met the ceiling. Tiny pieces of dust were dancing in the light like specs of gold. He was warm and content.

As wakefulness came to him slowly, he came to realize that he wasn’t at home. He craned his neck, followed the walls down to Hanazawa’s familiar TV set.

He must have fallen asleep during the movie. To be honest, he didn’t remember much of it to begin with. Five minutes into the credits and his lights had gone out.

He breathed in deeply and came to realize that there was something on his chest, a warm weight.

Oh. It was Hanazawa’s arm.

Mob shifted a little, turned his head, then stilled.

At some point in the night Hanazawa must have accidentally snuggled up to him. He was practically hugging Mob’s side, cheek mushed to the side of his chest and an arm thrown over him.

Well. Mob turned to look back at the ceiling. This was maybe a little awkward. It wasn’t that Hanazawa’s arm was heavy or anything. Mob had grown used to Hanazawa’s arm around him. And he wasn’t uncomfortable. Not really. He just knew that once Hanazawa would wake up, he’d end up feeling pretty embarrassed.

Not that it was his fault. Mob could remember when he and Ritsu were a lot younger, they’d sometimes fall asleep watching TV and end up tangled in the blankets, Ritsu’s foot mushed against his face. It happened sometimes. There was no reason to feel embarrassed about it.

Besides, there was a sort of comfort to being to close to someone you trusted like this. It made Mob feel an odd sort of feeling he couldn’t name, warm and soft in his stomach.

The dust flecks kept dancing slowly. Outside, cars were passing the building by, speeding off to unknown destinations. Not many people were on the move this early and Mob could relate. He didn’t want to get up either.

He didn’t want to make Hanazawa feel uncomfortable. He watched the ceiling and the line of light slowly shifting across it as the sun rose outside. Maybe he could try to remove Hanazawa’s arm from around him? Ah. But that might wake him up and make things worse.

And Mob was feeling so comfortable.

Maybe if Hanazawa thought he was still asleep, that Mob hadn’t woken up at all and hadn’t found out this little mishap, maybe that would lessen the feeling. It wouldn’t be that embarrassing then, would it?

Yes. That was right. That was the best solution here and would give them both what they wanted. Mob closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. It seemed like a perfectly good solution for him.

He listened to the slow traffic outside, heard a car door opening and closing and then the engine revving. Even on a Saturday, people were busy with their little tasks and Mob imagined what it would be like.

Hmm. He much preferred this. A slow, warm morning.

Hanazawa shifted and for a moment Mob forgot how to breathe. He didn’t wake up, though and Mob’s breathing returned back to normal. He was supposed to be acting like he was sleeping, right? People sleeping rarely held their breaths, he thought.

Hanazawa rubbed his cheek against Mob’s side, mumbled something incoherent and quieted down.

Mob got lost in his own thoughts, watching but not really seeing the light’s journey across the ceiling. It would have been easy to just… drift off… fall back asleep and snooze the calm morning away.

But then Hanazawa shifted again. And this time he didn’t stay asleep.

The change was slow, gradual, but having listened to his sleep heavy breathing, Mob could tell the difference. He moved a little, started breathing faster. Grew stiff for a moment, then yawned sweetly.

This time Mob was prepared. He kept breathing slow and steady,

“Mmh,” Hanazawa said and started moving. He pulled back a little, hand pulling over Mob’s chest, then stopping mid motion.

Hanazawa stopped moving completely.

The side he’d been leaning on felt cold without him, but the warm hand stuck on Mob’s stomach radiated warmth.

For a moment, neither of them moved. Mob worried that his pretend sleeping wasn’t believable enough. Never had he been that could at pretending to be something he was not.

Oh no. This would be even more awkward like this, wouldn’t it?

But then Hanazawa let out a sound somewhere between a soft snort and a sigh and relaxed. He must have felt a little silly. Mob was relieved that everything still seemed to be alright. Mob didn’t have to focus so hard on his breathing anymore.

Hmm. He still had some homework left. He should ask Hanazawa to help with it. But then again, Hanazawa had already spent the entire evening with him. Maybe it was a bit too much.

He’d expected Hanazawa to move. To maybe get up and go to the bathroom or at least turn to sleep on his back. Put some distance between them.

He had not thought Hanazawa would very slowly slide his hand back down to where it had been in the first place, grasping softly at his hip. He had not expected Hanazawa to lie back down, even closer than before.

Hanazawa rested his head on Mob’s shoulder.

Oh. Well.

Hanazawa’s breathing came out stuttery, light and shallow. Mob could feel it against his cheek, so close he was. His fingers curled at the edges of Mob’s t-shirt, playing with it nervously. For a moment he was very stiff, like a spring about to break loose, coiled against his side.

Mob wasn’t sure what to do about this. He had not prepared mentally for this possibility.

Had Hanazawa not woken up all to begin with? Mob hadn’t actually looked, so… But no. He’d woken up, he was sure of it, and had not moved away.

Just closer.

Curious.

Slowly Hanazawa relaxed against him. He breathed out sigh, went lax like a cat in sunlight and snuggled even closer.

Very curious. But then again, Hanazawa was a very tactile person, always easy in getting into Mob’s personal space. And this was comfortable. Maybe Hanazawa thought so too.

Mob cracked his eyes open, opened them just enough to take a peek. The line of light had travelled a long way from one corner of the room to close to halfway over it. From the corner of his eye he could see Hanazawa. Resting peacefully.

Drooling on his shirt.

He hadn’t taken a long time at all to fall asleep again.

Mob looked back up at the ceiling and thought about this morning.

Hanazawa’s head was a little heavy. Mob’s arm could get a little numb in the long run. But otherwise, it was perfectly comfortable. All things considered, Mob didn’t mind the situation at all.

He supposed there was nothing wrong with the situation. Hanazawa certainly seemed to think so. Mob just couldn’t imagine doing this anyone else, though. Not while still feeling this cozy.

Mob couldn’t find himself minding one bit.

So he didn’t.

He closed his eyes and kept breathing. He found a sync with Hanazawa, feeling his chest rise and fall, fingers touching skin under the hem of his shirt. Maybe the situation was a little complicated, but if it was, it was too complicated to be pondered over this early in the morning.

Mob didn’t even mean to fall asleep for real. But it was a slow morning, the building was quiet and he felt like he could just melt into a puddle and stay like that forever.

One moment he was just listening to the sounds of a waking city outside Hanazawa’s window, the next he was fast asleep.

*

When he next woke up, it was to the smell of breakfast.

He pushed off the mattress, feeling far more disjointed than he had when he first woken up. Looking around blearily, he came soon to realize that Hanazawa was no longer next to him. He wasn’t too far off, though, setting the table a few steps away.

“Hey! Good morning!” Hanazawa said. “I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

Mob hummed quietly. He wasn’t awake enough to say one way or another and it must have shown.

“Sorry, sorry!” Hanazawa said. “I tried to keep it down. But hey, breakfast is almost ready, if you feel like it.”

Mob blinked slowly, not fully in this world yet. Hanazawa had opened the curtains some more, letting more light in, but the sun had moved behind another building by now, leaving the light of the room diluted. Mob yawned, stretching his arms over his head, his neck and back popping pleasantly. Rubbing his head and the messy hair on top of it, he climbed to his feet and shambled into the bathroom like the living dead he was feeling like.

Something was… off. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was something static in the air. He stared at his image in the mirror.

He hadn’t realized it at first, but there was an edge to Hanazawa’s voice he didn’t recognize.

Maybe he had not meant to sleep this late.

Brushing his teeth, brushing his hair, Mob felt a bit more awake by the time he got out of the bathroom. Hanazawa had already sat down and was starting at his own share of the food.

Mob was a bit slower to move. Were they… going to talk about the morning?

Was there anything to talk about?

Maybe not.

Hanazawa wasn’t looking at him when Mob sat down. Maybe that wasn’t so odd, he seemed to be pretty busy with his food. Well. Busy and busy. He was staring at it, not eating.

But he was always looking at Mob.

Hm.

Mob stared at his own food without really seeing it.

“Did you sleep well?” Hanazawa asked.

His voice was shaky. It wasn’t usually this shaky. Well. Sometimes. But not when talking about quality of sleep. A voice like that meant that there was something being left unsaid.

A shaky voice like that meant it wasn’t what Hanazawa was really asking about.

“I… slept well,” he said, truthfully. Then, after a moment of thought: “How about you?”

Oh. He was blushing. And he didn’t look happy about it.

“Well,” he started. ”You know. It was. The bed was. Kind of crowded.”

”I didn’t mind.”

Hanazawa lifted his eyes for a quick look. It didn’t last for long. He mumbled something to his food.

They were… not going to talk about it, then. Hanazawa didn’t look like he wanted to.

Maybe he was a little more embarrassed than Mob had originally thought. But then again, he had purposefully put his head on his shoulder.

Hadn’t he?

Now he was confused.

For the first time in a while Mob was the first to finish his food. While he gathered his belongings, cleaned up and changed clothes, Hanazawa lifted the mattress back to its place and tidied up the kitchen. An uncomfortable silence hung over them through the whole thing.

Mob should have said something. Probably. But he wasn’t used to this. His head was ringing empty, everything he thought to say sounding bad and contrived in his mind.

He walked to get a glass of water from the kitchen, reached to pick a clean glass from the cupboard. Hanazawa was right next to him.

They didn’t touch at all.

No hand on his hip or back. No shoulder to shoulder. Hanazawa slid away to give him more room, offered a weird smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes and walked to the other side of the room.

A break in the norm. Mob blinked a few times. This wasn’t how these things worked.

He needed to say something.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Hanazawa flashed a smile. It looked genuine…

“Yeah, totally! Of course. Why are you asking?”

He wasn’t looking at Mob, but somewhere to his left. Mob followed his eyes to the empty wall.

Mob hummed. Words weren’t coming out of his mouth, he couldn’t put them into a position that wouldn’t make things more awkward between them. So he went around it. ”I didn’t kick you in my sleep, did I?”

Hanazawa lifted his eyes for a moment, looked right back down a moment later. ”No, no,” he said weakly. ”It’s just that… Well. Ah. Like I said. I’ve never had anyone over night.”

Oh. Mob rubbed his fingers together nervously. ”I see,” he said. ”Should I not have stayed?”

”Oh, no, no, no!” Hanazawa said, waving his hands around, backpedaling quickly. ”Just… I’ll be more prepared next time. Get a futon. Or something.”

So it was about that. He hadn’t liked being that close after all.

Mob frowned a little. It… didn’t make any sense.

So instead of asking more, he said: ”Okay.”

Hanazawa nodded.

It was weird. Mob had not thought something as simple as staying the night at Hanazawa’s would put such a strain on their friendship. But, he reasoned, whatever it was, it would blow over. A bit of embarrassment was okay, it happened. It would pass.

Or so he thought.

He didn’t notice at first. The next time Hanazawa walked home with him, he was as talkative as ever, explaining about what had happened at school and Mob listened with a sense of relief. It only clicked with him once at home that Hanazawa had not touched him once during their walk.

It was odd, but not enough to do more than rouse suspicion.

It kept happening, though.

An arm’s length between them when they were walking. Hanazawa skirting out of his way when Mob would accidentally bump into him. He no longer chose to sit next to Mob in cafes, choosing a spot across from him instead, their legs never brushing against each other under the table. When he’d offer Mob his drink, his fingers would hold the cup precariously, as far back as possible so there was no possibility of their fingers brushing.

They still spent time together. But there was a distance of stale air between them, an uneasy feel to Hanazawa’s step.

And then there was the thing that broke it. They’d been sitting in a café, Mob with his hot chocolate, Hanazawa enjoying his cake. Mob had watched how Hanazawa had scooped up a piece of the cake with his fork, moved to offer it across the table for him and then frozen like he had not meant to do that at all.

“Here, try this,” he had said, hiding away any signs of discomfort and picked up the piece of cake with his powers.

Something was wrong. And as much as Mob would have liked to think they were going to go back to normal if he just waited long enough, that was not the case.

It was confusing. And a little bit distressing.

Mob missed the small touches, the constant closeness and the warmth.

Someone needed to do something about it, otherwise they’d be stuck in this weird situation forever. And Hanazawa wasn’t showing any signs of change, not with his pinched expressions when he thought Mob wasn’t looking or his aborted moves closer, hand that was reaching but ended up doing a loop and going to his hair instead.

Mob was going to have to take the lead in this.

*

Communication. That was the key to any relationship.

That was what Master Reigen said, anyway. And on this Mob was ready to agree. Whether it was a familial, friendship based or a romantic relationship, communication was important.

It was also the hardest part. Mob liked things when they went like they always did, when there was an easily followed pattern and no changes in the norm. He knew what to do with the norm, he had his own little blueprints in his head for them.

When there was a break, something needed to be done.

And Mob wasn’t going to let it overwhelm him.

He was the one to ask Hanazawa come over this time. His parents were at work and Ritsu had to stay late with the student council.

“If that’s okay with you,” he said, when Hanazawa hesitated a bit longer than Mob had expected.

“Aah, yeah. Of course. I’ve got no plans for today,” Hanazawa said, rubbing his neck. He wasn’t looking at Mob when he said that. They needed a calm and safe place to talk and his home was the best bet right now.

Their walk was slow. Mob kept glancing Hanazawa’s way, seeing him staring off to somewhere else. It was like the space between them was a bottomless canyon, too wide to cross, impossible to go over.

Mob rubbed his thumb against his forefinger, then nodded sharply. Biting his teeth together, he stepped right into the no-man’s land between them.

Hanazawa’s response was almost immediate. He took half a step away, almost hitting another pedestrian in his hurry.

“Whoops,” he said. “It’s a bit crowded here. Sorry!”

It really wasn’t. Mob frowned. This had never been a problem before. From the corner of his eye he could see Hanazawa staring at the ground with a sour look.

“What are you doing?” Mob asked quietly.

“Hm? Is something the matter, Kageyama?”

Mob opened his mouth, then closed it. Yes. No. He wasn’t sure. He frowned and started playing with the edge of his school uniform jacket.

No. He wasn’t going to let it deter him. He stepped closer again and this time he reached for the sleeve of Hanazawa’s jacket, grabbed on and held it.

Hanazawa let out an interesting sound. Not a gasp or a gulp exactly, but maybe something between them. He didn’t try to break free.

“What… What’s this, Kageyama?” he asked shakily.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” Mob said.

Hanazawa’s mouth twisted, jaw worked for a while. It took a moment longer for his usual look of crafted carefreeness to slip back in its place.

“What? Huh? No I haven’t. What are you talking about, Kageyama?”

Mob curled his fingers around his sleeve, pulled at it.

“You know what I mean,” he said. “Please do not try to make me feel stupid.”

“Huh?” Hanazawa said, his voice considerably more high-pitched now. “I’m sorry! That’s not what I meant to do.”

Mob didn’t want to do this here. Not out on the street, not where anyone could hear them talk. He started walking faster, yanking Hanazawa’s sleeve to make sure he’d keep up. Neither of them spoke while Mob dragged them to his home, neither of them said anything when they were removing their shoes or when Kageyama made them tea.

The silence was terrible. Mob felt it all the way in his bones, laying heavy on his neck, pushing him down.

He bit his teeth together and sat down at their kitchen table. Hanazawa was a bit slower to follow, but pulled a chair for himself all the same.

“I’m… sorry if you’ve felt like I’ve been avoiding you – “ he started, but Mob cut in before he could go any further.

“You have been avoiding me,” he said with as much confidence as he could gather and it must have surprised Hanazawa how much it actually was, since he flinched and looked at Mob from under his brows. “I want to know if it was something I did. Because if it was, I’m sorry. I liked how things were before. So.”

“No, no, no!” Hanazawa said, waving his hands around wildly. “This isn’t your fault! Not at all!”

Mob frowned. That was a relief. But it didn’t solve their situation.

“Then what is it?”

”It’s just that…” Hanazawa started. For once he seemed to be the one having trouble putting his thoughts to words. But then again, Mob had had time to gather his thoughts, while Hanazawa was in denial. “This… this might not make sense to you, and I get that, but…” He fell silent again.

They were too far apart. Hanazawa was twisting his hands on top of the table and the air that had festered between them outside was back. Mob wanted to reach over it… wanted to grab Hanazawa’s hand, shoulder, face, anything he could reach. But his own hands lay limp on his lap.

“I feel like when I’m near you,” Hanazawa said, his voice barely above a whisper. “When I’m near you, I can’t – I have a hard time of… sometimes… containing myself.” His head was slowly pulling between his shoulders. “And – and it’s not your fault! Absolutely not! I just… I just feel like sometimes I’m about to do something stupid and I need to stop doing that and it’s so hard sometimes and – ”

He was talking a lot but saying very little. His barrage of words was getting a bit much and Mob was having a hard time following. ”Is this about that time I stayed over?” he asked.

”I – ” He twisted his mouth shut and licked his lips. ”In a way, yes, but – ”

”About how you put your head on my shoulder?”

Hanazawa’s mouth clicked shut very fast and his face got really red. An unhealthy shade of red. Mob locked his legs around the legs of his chair.

Hanazawa opened his mouth, said something, Mob wasn’t sure what, he couldn’t recognize any words, just garbled sounds. Hanazawa swallowed thickly and said in a very light, very high-pitched tone: ”You knew about that?”

”Yes,” Mob said. He wanted to say about how he hadn’t wanted to make Hanazawa feel uncomfortable. But he’d gotten uneasy anyway, so it was kind of pointless. ”I don’t understand why it is a problem.”

”I – But –! It was – ”

”You were sleeping,” Mob said.

”Yes!” Hanazawa yelled and threw his hands down. ”And then I woke up and I didn’t move away. I got closer! And you were sleeping and you didn’t know I was doing that!”

”I wasn’t,” Mob said slowly, thinking about it. ”And I did.”

”That’s not the point!” Hanazawa cried out. ”I thought you were asleep and that you wouldn’t find out and I did it anyway!”

Oh. So that was the problem.

”And I keep thinking about doing things like that with you all the time and then I feel bad about it.”

Mob thought about it for a moment. “But I liked it,” he said. “I think I wouldn’t mind.”

“That’s not the point,” Hanazawa said miserably.

”You are very important to me,” Mob said. ”One of my closest friends.”

”But I don’t want to be your friend!” Hanazawa shouted, squeezing his eyes shut.

It struck Mob sharply and with stinging pain. He had not expected that either. He had not expected many things, but that was maybe the most unexpected thing of them all.

He stared at the table between them, through it into some nothingness beyond.

”Oh,” he said.

”No, that came out wrong. No, Kageyama, wait. I meant… I don’t want to be just your friend. I love being your friend, really. But…” He drew a breath, looked around at a loss for words. ”I just… I want to be… more. Than that.”

”More than –?”

”I want to be your boyfriend.”

Oh. Mob no longer saw the table, their teacups, his own hands or even Hanazawa on the other side. His stared into nothingness and for a long time he just sat there and processed nothing.

Hanazawa let out a small, wounded sound. It sounded very little like his usual voice and it felt so wrong.

”And I keep doing things even though we’re not together and even though you didn’t know and you’re just too nice of a person to say anything about it and I’m horrible. I haven’t really changed at all, have I?”

Oh no. Mob had not prepared for this possibility.

Hanazawa was crying.

Oh no. Mob’s heart was beating a rhythm too fast in his throat. He couldn’t think of anything to say at all. Nothing that would make this better. Nothing that would make it worse either. Words just disappeared out of his head and into a void. He could see Hanazawa lifting his hand to rub away the tears aggressively, rubbing them to the side of his sleeve. He was saying something more, but Mob wasn’t listening, he’d stopped listening the moment he realized Hanazawa was crying.

He had not wanted that. Anything but that.

There had to be something. Words didn’t cut it here. He moved like he was in tar, reaching across the table, towards Hanazawa. He reached his hands, placed them on either side of Hanazawa’s face and held it there between them. Hanazawa’s eyes flew open, tears stuck to his lashes.

It seemed to have the opposite reaction to what Mob had been hoping for, though.

Hanazawa’s face crumpled as he started rubbing his cheek against Mob’s hand.

“I’m a horrible person”, he whispered.

“You’re not really”, Mob said.

Hanazawa just chuckled, his voice wet and stuffy, his laughter completely void of humor. He put his hand on Mob’s and pushed it tighter against his cheek.

“I’m not?” he said. “Am I not using your kindness again? Every reason to get close to you, right?”

Mob hummed. ”Not really,” he said. ”I like being close to you.”

Hanazawa looked at him through his lashes, his eyes shining like jewels through his tears. He turned his face in his hands and pressed his lips against Mob’s palm.

Something warm fluttered in his chest. His cheeks got itchy and warm.

“Are you sure?” Hanazawa asked as if that had supposed to prove his point.

“Yes.”

Hanazawa stilled and stared at him, his stare moving from Mob’s eyes to his brows, to his hands, to his mouth and then eyes again.

“Really?” he said, so very quietly it was almost lost to Mob, his lips moving against his hand.

“Yes,” he repeated. But that was not quite enough, was it? He pursed his lips. “I… really like you, Hanazawa,” he said. “And I like how close we are. I like being comfortable with you. I like… I liked waking up next to you. It was warm and nice and I didn’t want to move, so I pretended to sleep. So. If something like that makes you a bad person then I guess it makes me one too.”

Hanazawa shook his head sharply.

”It’s not the same thing,” he said, his nose stuffy. ”Not really.”

”I guess not,” Mob said. “I guess it would have been better to… talk about it first. But I understand. Words can be hard sometimes.”

“Mm.” Hanazawa closed his eyes and rubbed his cheek against Mob’s hand again. Mob could feel the wetness of his tears on his palms and it wasn’t a nice feeling. He removed his hands and Hanazawa let out a questioning little sound. Mob reached over the table awkwardly to pull Hanazawa into a one-armed hug.

Hanazawa was still for maybe one whole second before throwing both his arms around Mob and nearly pulling him across the table in his hurry to crush Mob in his embrace.

He laughed a little hysterically. “And the one time I decide to sit across from you instead of next to you!”

“Hold up,” Mob said. This was awkward. He disentangled from Hanazawa’s hold and walked properly around the table.

He barely got two steps in before Hanazawa had already pulled him into another bone crushing hug, buried his face into Mob’s hair and started rubbing against the top of his head.

“If this is what you want to do, Hanazawa, I don’t mind,” Mob mumbled against his school uniform. It smelled clean and familiar and safe. “I think it’s nice.”

”Really?” Hanazawa asked. ”Are you sure?”

Mob hummed. He felt comfortable. Being with Hanazawa was nice. And if it meant this sort of a change in their relationship, Mob couldn’t really complain. He snuggled closer to Hanazawa, who let out a high-pitched sound.

Maybe he was a little tactile as well.