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“Do you think we can run it?”

Today marks their last day of university before they go on break. Kuroo Tetsurou had just wrapped up his extra practice, having been talked into it by Bokuto, only to open the door to the noisy patter of rain. Streaky drops mute the colours of the world outside the gym, its chill rushing inside the building through the gap he created. Not exactly a downpour, though it’s definitely not a light drizzle either.

“Don’t worry man, I totally got this!” Bokuto exclaims, hastily grabbing at his gym bag and fumbling to open the zipper.

“Whoa, is this coming from someone who Akaashi had to chase around with a towel and an umbrella for two years?”

Stopping momentarily to glare at him for daring to be amused, Bokuto pulls out an umbrella.

An umbrella with a golden nylon canopy.

Tetsurou felt his face slacken, wiping out his earlier expression entirely. To his relief, Bokuto was too busy patting himself on the back for his preparation to notice. Schooling his features to their usual crooked state, he commends his friend and pretends that his chest didn’t feel tighter than normal when he receives a beaming response.

Clearing his throat, he gestures towards the umbrella. 

“That looks familiar,” he prompts, hoping that he was mistaken.

“It should,” Bokuto replies, “you gave it to me for my birthday, remember?”

So it was that one.

It takes all his restraint not to bolt out of the gym, rain be damned. Yeah. Damn the rain. If it hadn’t rained, he wouldn’t be in this situation.

Bokuto notices the shift this time.

Tetsurou should probably say something.

A thousand words and phrases run through his mind yet, when he opens his mouth, all that comes out is one shaky syllable.

“And?”

“And what? What else is there?” Bokuto’s eyebrows furrowed, wide eyes reflecting nothing besides concern. “Is everything all good, dude?”

“Yeah, I’m good.” He plays it off with a shrug. It comes across as stiff from how tense he is. “I just never saw you use it in the past 2-ish years that you’ve had it, that’s all.”

Hearing this dilutes the concern with confusion, Bokuto pairs this with the wary smile.

“There wasn’t much rain that autumn, so I didn’t really get to use it.” He mutters the next part, the way he does when he’s expecting to get gently scolded or playfully teased for saying it. “Then I kinda forgot about it.”

Yep. Me too.

This is fine, he could do damage control. Hold it off until he could remember what the hell his past self was thinking. First, the playful teasing that was expected of him.

“Wow. Can’t believe you really forgot a present from one of your nearest and dearest pals.” He keels over, clutching his chest in mock hurt. “I’m sorry, Bokuto. I don’t think we can be friends anymore.”

“Good riddance to bad rubbish.” Bokuto replies, sticking his tongue out.

Letting out a cry of feigned outrage, Tetsurou falls gently, yet dramatically, to the ground. His cheeks tug upwards when he hears the booming laughter that follows, a warmth that settles inside his chest. It weighs him down as he gets up from the hardwood floor, he manages nonetheless.

“I don’t think that umbrella’s big enough for the both of us.” He dusts himself off as an excuse to avoid eye contact. His gaze falls on his tracksuit and a light bulb goes off on his head. 

“Y’know, these things are made of nylon too.” He pinches the fabric of his jacket then proceeds to take it off. “We could probably just put them over our heads ‘til we get back to our dorm.”

“I already have the umbrella, don’t I?” his friend questioned with a stupidly endearing tilt of his head. “At least one of us has to use it.”

“Good point. I’ll take it.” he replies, almost frantic, discarding his jacket on the floor in favour of making a grab for the offending item.

Bokuto moves it out of the way but Tetsurou continues to swipe at it, hoping that it’s playful enough to hide his desperation.

“Wait- I’m the one who brought it! I should be the one who gets it!” Bokuto yells, keeping him back by pushing his palm against his face, the other hand that gripped the umbrella stretching as far out as it could.

Grinning against his friend’s palm, Tetsurou ducks down abruptly, leaving Bokuto pushing at empty air and knocking him off balance. Taking advantage of his friend’s now unsteady form, he slips past him, reaching out for his target.

His fingers only graze the nylon as he feels a hand yanking him back by the collar of his shirt. In the blink of an eye, he finds himself trapped in a headlock, face sandwiched between a burly bicep and a sturdy chest. His face goes red as he tries to wiggle free, not purely from exertion.

“We could just share you know,” Bokuto points out, slightly breathless from restraining him, “if they’re the same fabric, our tracksuits should protect the parts that the umbrella can’t.”

Tetsurou stops flailing, choosing to channel his dwindling brain power to think of another excuse.

He comes up empty.

What a crappy light bulb.

“Did I just outsmart you?”

“...no.” he replies, because Bokuto totally didn’t.

“I totally did!” the other boy pushes on, his contagious hooting echoes through the building, surrounding them in it. At some point, Tetsurou’s chortling joins the mix.

Click.

The sound of the button on the umbrella handle being pressed pulls him out of the momentary distraction, however it was too late. 

He could only look on in horror as the golden canopy rises and begins to unfurl, an inverted satellite dish broadcasting his doom, the emptiness in the gym serving to amplify its message to the worst possible person.

His breath hitches when he sees it.

Four characters written on the inside of the umbrella. 

Big, bold and blatant.

好きだよ。

(I like you.)

The grip on his head loosens and he uses the opportunity to free himself, a tad unsteady due to the fact that his mind was reeling. Bokuto pays him no mind, still gazing fixedly at the umbrella.

Stepping forward to position himself nearer to the doorway, Tetsurou hazards a sideways glance to parse the reception of his confession. It doesn’t fill him with much confidence.

Bokuto’s eyebrows were scrunched together, his mouth set in a firm line, nose wrinkling slightly.

A lead weight settles in his stomach.

“You know what?” He tries to muster a smile, yet he could tell that it comes out as a grimace. “You can have the umbrella. I’ll just-”

His brain doesn’t finish the sentence, his body already carrying him out of the gym.

Rain be damned.

*

Needless to say, Tetsurou doesn’t go back to their dorm, choosing to take the trip home a day earlier than planned. His grandparents missed him so much that they only scolded him a little for turning up on their doorstep dripping like a wet cat.

Also needless to say, he catches a fever for running to the station then to his house in the midst of a downpour.

Kenma says it anyway.

“What did you think was gonna happen?”

Four days have passed since the umbrella incident and his fever has dwindled down to a more manageable sore throat. Kenma sits at the foot of his bed, playing with his PSP while his head leans back on a pillow propped against Tetsurou’s left leg.

“Running in the rain or confessing?” 

“Both.”

He was grateful that he put on a mask to avoid getting Kenma sick, something about half of his face being obscured just makes it easier to talk about his feelings for some reason.

“To answer the first part, I was really hoping that the sooner I get myself out of that situation, the sooner we could forget that it happened.” He groans as his self-awareness hits him like a ton of bricks. “But now I’m saying this out loud and growing increasingly aware of how stupid I was.”

Kenma hums affirmatively, which is to be expected, even if his pride is a bit wounded.

“Can’t believe you still have some pride left after all this.”

Despite having known him for more than a decade, Kenma’s ability to read people startles him sometimes. The thought makes his smile a bit wider and more genuine, even if the other boy can’t see it.

“I clearly don’t have the stats for wisdom. They had to put it somewhere.”

There’s a huff of laughter at that. “Fair enough.” Then a pause. “Aside from low wisdom stats, what possessed you to confess like that anyway?”

“Ughhhhhh,” he whines into the crook of his elbow. “I didn’t want to have any regrets when I finished high school but I also didn’t want to be there when he found out so…” He gestures vaguely. “...umbrella.”

“And you couldn’t write it in a letter like a normal person because…?”

A warm sensation blooms outwards from his cheeks to his ears.

“Bokuto deserved something more unique than a letter,” he mutters, fully aware of how sappy it is. “Didn’t know it would poke such a big hole on the ‘not being there when he finds out’ part of the plan when I did it.”

A tinny chiptune melody emanates from somewhere on his left, signalling the completion of a level. Kenma finally looks up from the screen to face him with a look of exasperation. 

He holds it there.

Tetsurou squirms, unsure of what response Kenma was searching for. “Uh, thank you…?”

Kenma sighs. “Are you gonna be okay?”

“This was a long time coming.” He offers a reassuring grin. “I’m sure Bokuto and I will still be cool in the end, just need some time to acclimate.”

Scooting nearer to where his pudding-headed friend was sitting, Tetsurou reaches over and pinches his cheek. “Besides, I’ve got my old pal Kenma by my side, too.”

He pulls a face at that, though the effect is more ridiculous than anything with how stretched out his cheek is.

“Aw, don’t be like that.” Tetsurou snorts when his hand gets swatted away. “I could wingman for you and set you up with Shrimpy to make up for it.”

“After hearing about this trainwreck?” Kenma fixes him a half-serious glare. “No thank you, Kuro. I’ll take my payment in sweets and games as per usual.”

“Stone-cold as usual, too,” he remarks as he watches the other boy slide off his bed. “Are you going now?”

“Yeah, my grandparents are coming over for an early dinner and mom wants me to be there so she can make sure everything’s presentable.”

Seeing as his childhood friend was clad in a lint-covered sweatshirt and ratty pajama pants, he hazards a guess that Kenma means himself as well.

“There’s iced tea in the fridge if you wanna drink some before you go.”

The other boy just nods in acknowledgement and wishes him luck, closing the door behind him.

After Kenma leaves, he peels off his mask and grabs the volleyball under his bed. Lying back down, he starts tossing the ball absentmindedly as he stares at the ceiling.

He really does believe that him and Bokuto would be fine, it’s the adjustment period he worries about.

How long would it be?

How awkward would it be to keep rooming with him?

Of all the people to fall for it had to be the guy that he had to share a living space with. Curse the adorable crinkles near his eyes when he smiles and his compatible sense of humour. Screw his great hugs and his contagious laughter. Damn his energizing personality, damn it for its encompassing warmth. Tetsurou never wanted to leave it, like it was a heated table in winter. A Bokuto Kou-tatsu, if you will. He lets himself smirk at the thought.

Click.

The sound startles him out of his pensive state. The ball bounces awkwardly off his fingers and drops to the floor.

“Did you forget something, Kenma?” he inquires, propping himself up on his elbows to have a proper look at his friend.

His silver eyes lock on to golden ones, except different. Instead of being framed by brown and yellow strands, they are accompanied by a thick pair of grey eyebrows.

“You’re not Kenma.”

Bokuto chuckles nervously. “Yeah, he told me to just come right in.”

“I mean, it’s not like this is the first time you’ve been here.” The grin he gives the other boy is way less confident than he feels. “What brings you here, anyways? You’re supposed to be with your family. I’m sure your sisters missed you.”

“It’s fine. We’ve already caught up and there’s still the rest of the break left.” Bokuto replies, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m just here to return something to you.”

There’s a lump in his throat. He can’t say that it wouldn’t hurt when the umbrella is returned to him, it’s a scenario he is prepared for. Who would want to keep a memento of a confession that they rejected? A traitorous part of him was really hoping for something more positive though.

Worried that he’ll choke up the moment he looks at the other boy’s face again, he keeps his eyes on the floor and just holds out his hand.

“Well, give it here then. Let’s get this over with.”

The item he gets is definitely not an umbrella.

It’s nylon, sure, yet at the same time it’s flatter and lighter than the solid cylindrical shape he expected.

Looking up, continuing to be careful not to make eye contact with Bokuto, he finds his tracksuit jacket, neatly folded into a rectangle. It offers no clue as to how his confession was received, it’s more ambiguous than the umbrella at least, so he bites back a sigh of relief.

“I completely forgot I left it there.” He lets out a breathy chuckle. “Couldn’t even run with my own suggestion.”

His attempt to lighten the atmosphere is met with silence. He lifts his head to look at the boy in front of him, a small surge of strength now that the certainty of rejection didn’t loom over it. 

It was the same look he had back then.

Eyebrows scrunched together.

Mouth set in a firm line.

Nose wrinkled slightly.

All of a sudden, Tetsurou’s mouth goes dry. 

“Is there anything else?” he croaks out.

Bokuto turns his head away and mumbles something that could be construed as “unzip the jacket.”

Thoughts race through his head, manifesting into adrenaline, coursing through the shaky fingers that held the metal zipper.

He pulls it down.

His breath hitches when he sees it.

Four characters written on the inside of the tracksuit.

Big, bold and blatant.

俺も好き。

(I like you, too.)

 

Tetsurou slumps back on the mattress, continuing to hold it up.

“Do you mean it?” he asks, gaze glued to the object in his hands.

Some light from his window hits the fabric from an angle, creating a faint glow around the text as it passes through.

I like you, too.

“Of course I do.”

It feels like his heart could burst any second now.

“What I wanna know is…” Bokuto continues, “...do you still mean it?”

Tetsurou sits up.

“Bokuto I-“

“I took, like, 2-ish years to respond so it’s fine if you don’t.“

He sets aside the jacket and walks over to him.

“Bokuto.”

“Well, it’s not immediately fine, though given time-”

Placing his hands on the other boy’s shoulders, Tetsurou lightly bumps their foreheads together, not enough to hurt but hopefully enough to knock some sense into his stupid crush.

“Koutarou.”

Large tawny eyes regard him with full attention. When they’re this close, he could see the dazzling flecks of honey and bronze that adorn them. A slow smile finds itself on his face.

“I still mean it.”

He only catches a glimpse of Bokuto mirroring his expression before he is picked up and spun around, both of them laughing in delighted disbelief.

When they come to a stop, the stop being the floor because they lose their balance, he manages to get a better look at the boy lying down beside him. And what a sight it was.

Bokuto’s head is tilted upwards ever so slightly, eyelids shut in contentment. A cheerful squint is apparent in the corners of his eyes and he was smiling from ear to ear, lightly biting his bottom lip, as if to prevent the overflowing joy from leaving his being.

It’s like the embodiment of a patch of sunlight surrounded by cool shadows. Tetsurou just wants to bask in the warmth and the fuzzy feelings that it invokes from the top of his head to the tips of his toes.

If it wasn’t for the fact that he was sick, he’d definitely kiss him on the spot, as long as Bokuto was fine with it, of course.

“I’d be super cool with that! Even if you are sick!” says the voice on his right.

Ah. He said that out loud.

“If I get you sick, you’d be spending most of the break in bed instead of having fun, you idiot.”

His remark is momentarily rewarded with an adorably funny sulk, until Bokuto suddenly sits up, a smirk adorning his features.

“If I’m an idiot, and idiots can’t catch colds, then it’s fine!”

A guffaw involuntarily rips out of his throat. 

He really fell for him, huh? 

The boy in question beams, proud of himself for decimating Tetsurou into a dying hyena. A force all the more radiant in the cloudy October afternoon.

Of course he did.

Bokuto lowers himself, placing his arms on top of Tetsurou’s chest and folding them to cushion his silver-streaked head. Their faces only a few inches apart.

“I really wanna kiss you,” he whispers, hushed and soft, as if they weren’t the only ones around to hear.

Sure, the confession being reciprocated was one thing, but seeing the look on Bokuto’s face was another. No wrinkling or eyebrow scrunching, just his mouth curved in a dopey grin. It’s a sight that makes his heart feel too big for his ribcage to hold.

Maybe a kiss on the cheek should be fine. 

Lifting himself with his elbows, he uses Bokuto’s momentary surprise at the sudden movement to plant one on him.

Instead of smooth skin, he is greeted by the soft arch of a pair of lips against his own. 

Despite the point of contact being light from its tentative initiation, it still snatches Tetsurou’s heart in one fell swoop, carrying it up to higher altitudes with buffeting winds and thinning oxygen. He pulls back before he gets too carried away. 

Bokuto’s eyelids flutter open, a bit dazed. 

“Whuh- hey! You kissed me!” he exclaims, his voice a mixture of smugness, confusion and glee. “You said you wouldn’t, but you did!”

Tetsurou’s face felt like a furnace, a product of both the kiss and the embarrassment of him going against his own word.

“It was just gonna be a small one on the cheek until you turned your stupid head!”

“Well how was I supposed to guess that? You didn’t tell me! Communication is important in relationships, you know!” Bokuto rebuts theatrically.

“Want me to write that on an umbrella for you?” Tetsurou snarks, letting out a snort when Bokuto pinches his nose closed in retaliation.

“I’ll take another kiss for it.” He shrinks the gap between their faces, near enough that Tetsurou could feel the slight puff of breath hit his closed mouth. “On the lips, please.”

He rolls his eyes at the teasing tone although, now that he actually knows what it’s like to kiss Bokuto, his resolve has been reduced to a paper-thin sliver, easily swayed.

“Fine, but this is the last time.”

Despite the condition being accepted, a dangerous gleam appears in the other boy’s eyes. Tetsurou doesn’t question it, too busy leaning in.

It was firmer than last time, pressing together with more purpose. He’s back in the kotatsu again. Warmth from flushed faces and the air they exhale spreads from his head to his heart to his stomach to his hands and to his legs as they move their lips together, his cheeks cupped in the other boy’s hands. Even the citrus smell of Bokuto’s deodorant is reminiscent of the mandarins he’d peel while swathed in the table’s comfort.

He doesn’t know how long they kiss for, simply that, at one point, the shallow breaths he took weren’t enough. He moves to pull away, feeling lightheaded.

Bokuto doesn’t let him, the hands that gently held his head turning into vices that locked him in place. Tetsurou’s eyes fly open to shoot him a questioning glare. Bokuto senses this and also opens his eyes, holding up a finger as he grins against his lips.

One.

Is he for real? Is he actually gonna prolong this because Tetsurou said it was the last one? If not for the fact that his oxygen tank is running low, he might have been endeared. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

So, strategically, he relaxes into the kiss once more, armed with a course of action in mind.

His arms move to snake inside Bokuto’s t-shirt, earning him a pleased hum against his mouth. Idly rubbing circles on the skin with his thumbs, he takes a moment to appreciate the combination of soft curves and hard muscle.

Then he tickles him.

There’s a sputter at the corner of his lip and a tremble from the vices on his head, loosening as his fingers danced on Bokuto’s ribs. 

As the strength of the grip wanes, Tetsurou stands up from his lying position on the floor, albeit with some difficulty. Bokuto’s nose remained stubbornly smushed against his cheek and surprisingly, with the shaking and snickering, Bokuto’s mouth stayed on his. 

But not for long.

Standing to his full height, Tetsurou plans on using their small difference to his advantage. His hands stop their attack, opting to plant themselves firmly on Bokuto’s sides. Predictably, the other boy is suspicious of the sudden ceasefire and takes the opportunity to reinforce his hold, raising his arms to accommodate the change in elevation.

Sadly for him, that was exactly what Tetsurou was waiting for. He smirks into their kiss.

The new position left Bokuto’s extremely sensitive underarms exposed.

He goes in for the kill, eliciting a loud squawk from the other boy, who jolts back, releasing him from the lip lock, and falls on the long side of Tetsurou’s bed, legs dangling.

The rapid succession of events paints Bokuto’s face with a mix of shock and confusion, widening his eyes to the point that they resemble tiny saucers. It makes him look more owl-like than usual.

After taking a moment to chuckle at the sight and catch his breath, Tetsurou flicks Bokuto’s nose to snap him out of his trance and lays down beside him, shooting him a sideways smirk.

“I win.”

He feels knuckles brushing against the back of his hand, then calloused fingers interlacing through his.

“Nah, I think I do.”

That wasn’t fair, he can’t so much as laugh at the cheesy line.

All that he can think of is how he feels the exact same way.