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“I’m hanging out with Bokuto tonight.”

Kuroo glances up from his screen and knows immediately that Kenma did not hear a word he just said. The internet sensation has his gaming headphones on, subtly glowing underneath his hood, and his pupils are pinpricks transfixed to his monitor. 

It’s 4pm, Thursday. Kenma’s wood-paneled house is breezy and cool despite the oppressive August heat, tatami and paper blanketing the space with a gentle arboreal smell. Though the JVA’s teleworking policies are probably not as lenient as Kuroo interprets them to be, he finds himself here more often than not anyway, taking conference calls from the shaded patios or idling backyard. It works out well enough, he is on the board for Bouncing Ball Corp after all, so this is technically a legitimate office. 

Kuroo assesses his friend - no, rather his co-worker and business associate - balled up in the padded office chair across the room. A familiar fondness tugs the corners of his lips into a subconscious smile. They’ve been  everything from friends to best friends to schoolmates to teammates and now...now, Kenma is practically his boss. The absurdity of it all still makes Kuroo’s eyes water sometimes. Who’d’ve thunk.

Subtly, he closes his own laptop with a gentle click, and leans back, elbows up, waiting for Kenma to notice his expectancy. It doesn’t take long. Their communication has long superseded anything vocal. A moment of stillness bleeds by - Kenma’s hunched over posture doesn’t change, but Kuroo sees the golden irises slide in his direction, an indication that yes I am listening. What is it?

He clears his throat and tries again. “I’m heading out early. Hanging out with Bokuto tonight.”

Something barely perceptible trickles over Kenma’s expression. He slowly sits up, the hood slipping off his crown. Fingers barely peeking out from sleevecuffs reach up to slide the headphones behind his head, neatly avoiding his ponytail. Kuroo freezes. Whoa . He hadn’t quite expected such a, well, dramatic reaction. Kenma doesn’t pause his replays lightly.

“Bokuto’s in town?”

Kuroo tries and fails to keep his expression nonchalant. He opts to gaze at the ceiling instead. “Uh, yeah. He’s taking a couple weeks off to visit his family up here and stuff. We’re going to grab dinner and catch up.”

Kenma pins him with an unimpressed look. “Catch up, huh?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kuroo feels the heat behind his ears. Kenma’s gaze is unwavering, and he refuses to meet it. “Yeah like…talk about life and shit. You know, like adults. Bro time.”

Kuroo knows he’s flailing. He’s a good businessman, a great talker, smooth as silk in the tensest of negotiations, and yet. Even with his hair falling over his eyes and sweatshirt threatening to eat him alive, Kenma can still sidestep all of Kuroo’s defenses easily as pie, without really saying anything at all. It’s completely unfair. 

And Bokuto…well, that’s another story. Kuroo can’t remember the last time they’d actually spent any time together. It must have been before the Olympics? God, but that was a whole year ago. And it must’ve been way before the training schedules had ramped up in preparation for the games. Sure, they’ve run into each other here and there - Bouncing Ball did a few joint sponsorships with both the Japan National Team and the Black Jackals, and Kuroo’s overseen some of the promotional efforts, but other than that… other than those chance business encounters and quick courtside fistbumps...

Adults is a stretch. And I don’t want to know what bro time means,” Kenma deadpans, but his eyes soften minutely. “But I’m glad you guys are reconnecting.”

Kuroo feels the exhale between his teeth, the air rushing past his leaden tongue. He scratches the back of his head helplessly. “Yeah, me too, it’s been a minute. We haven’t… You know how busy we are. He’s a fucking olympian, that guy,” he laughs unwittingly, voice a little too high, “Of course we all knew that was going to happen. I just…we used to be close and haven’t really....” He’s rambling and he notices with a slight panic the increasingly gentle look Kenma is leveling, and feels the knot of things that he had packed so neatly into a box labeled Bokuto in the back of his mind slowly unraveling. 

“It’s not like I haven’t seen him around,” he finishes lamely.

“You don’t have to explain it to me, Kuro,” Kenma’s eyes at this point are honeyed and sympathetic, a rarity reserved only for his cats and his oldest friend.  Kuroo can barely stand it.

He deflates. “Yeah, I know. You get it.” 

Hoping to avoid any further interrogation, he slides his laptop into his backpack, picking up his keys and wallet from the desk, and grabs his useless jacket off the back of the chair. On his way to the door, Kuroo pauses behind Kenma’s compact form, leaning over to softly press his nose to his friend’s hooded head. Coffee and dandruff, with a hint of cat litter -  an idiosyncratic but strangely calming combination. “Catch you later, kitty. Don’t stay up too late.”

Kenma’s headphones are back in place and his screen is a frenzy of little NPCs and erratic lights, but Kuroo can see the small smile that pushes out the corner of Kenma’s mouth.

“Take your own advice, Tetsurou. Say hi to Bokuto for me.”

As Kuroo steps out into the muggy Tokyo heat, he hears the echo of their conversation in his mind. You don’t have to explain it to me, Kuro and of course he didn’t. Kenma knew Kuroo better than Kuroo knew himself. He saw things with a clarity that Kuroo often envied and admired. In that moment Kuroo had felt a tome of understanding pass between them, even if he grasped empty-handed at what exactly that tome contained. What is there to even explain? He should have asked while he had the chance. Kenma, can you please explain it to me? Because I don’t even know.

 

---

 

They had agreed to meet at a small izakaya in Shinjuku off the beaten path. The cheery owners, elderly Miki-baachan and her husband Saito-jiichan, loved Kuroo like a son, and he’d had countless hazy nights here drenched with yakiniku smoke and too much sake. It’s rustic and warm and has the tendency to get endearingly rowdy, which is perfect because Bokuto is nothing if not loud, and together, they’ve always been bordering on apocalyptic. Well, at least they were back in their heyday. Kuroo tentatively hopes that some things are still the same.

He arrives at 6PM on the dot, business punctual, and is ushered to his favorite booth by the smiling matron, who clucks at him good naturedly that he needs to eat more before arraying a hefty spread of bar snacks on the table. 

“Date?” she asks cheekily, eyes lost in her laugh lines and weathered face, while she pours him a generous cup of sweet sake on the house. “I hope it’s not business. You work too much.”

He smiles, shaking his head. “Just an old friend. He’s loud and eats a lot. You’ll like him.”

She brings her hand to her face. “Oh but I didn’t even do my hair today, Kuroo-san. You have to warn me before bringing all your athletic friends here.” 

“You are as stunning as ever, baachan,” he chuckles, remembering the first time he and Kenma had invited Hinata here. Tanned and fresh off the Brazilian beaches, not-so-little-anymore Shouyou had devastated the entire restaurant, staff and patrons alike, with dazzling smiles, the breezy mannerisms and occasional Portuguese exclamations painting him in swaths of exotic gold.  There had been a lot of free drinks that night. 

Kuroo accepts the sake from Miki-baachan gratefully, continuing to casually banter with her and the other restaurant staff while he waits. He tries hard to keep his fidgeting at bay, but he can feel his leg jittering incessantly, the small ceramic dishes on the table vibrating with him. His skin feels overly warm, veins too close to the surface, and the rushing blood makes his fingertips tingle. 

It’s just Bokuto he wills himself to think.  Loud happy Bokuto. The one and only and ever. Bokuto Koutarou who can outshine the sun itself and wears his passions like a supernova. Yeah that Bokuto.

And like Kuroo cast the spell himself, the door to the izakaya jingles a warning and all at once he is there, eclipsing the entryway, 190 centimeters of a life so bright it’s blinding. Kuroo’s prior flashback to Hinata’s rampage feels suddenly so very small.

“Hey hey hey!”

Of course Bokuto has spotted him immediately and his booming voice easily fills the small space. His presence, on the other hand, practically obliterates it. Bokuto is, objectively speaking, a very large person, but with his full arsenal of volume, energy, and sheer Bokuto-ness , the magnitude of his being is nothing short of astronomical. Kuroo jerks to his feet, smiling probably as stupidly as he feels, and is reeled into Bokuto’s irresistible gravitational field. 

And when Bokuto pulls him the last arm’s length into a crushing hug, Kuroo briefly wonders how ridiculous they look to onlookers. They’re both towering giants in the cozy low-ceilinged space, their embrace a clash of titans. Kuroo is in a black shirt and dark jeans, Bokuto in a white tee and sand-colored joggers and Kuroo is amused at the thought that they must resemble an epic fucking yin yang.

“Oh my god Tetsu, it’s so good to see you!” Bokuto squeezes the ever-loving daylights out of him and Kuroo’s laugh stutters out of his throat in dry ugly gasps. 

“A-ahah Kou you’re killin’ me here,” he wheezes, pushing uselessly at Bokuto’s broad shoulders. He’s so solid and warm and large and blots out Kuroo’s entire field of vision. His entire field of everything really.

Bokuto throws his head back and laughs, lantern light glinting off all his teeth. He lets one arm drop and slides the other across Kuroo’s shoulders. “You’ve gotten soft, Tetsu.”

“Well we can’t all be fucking olympians , bro. You’re basically a god.”

Bokuto beams at him, eyes molten. “I am, aren’t I?”

“And humble as ever,” Kuroo jostles him playfully, but it backfires because it feels like running into a wall. They’re both smiling too wide and Bokuto’s arm is heavy and anchoring across his shoulders, solidly pinning him to the present. Which is good because Kuroo feels suddenly so giddy that he fears he might just float away, buzzing and weightless.

Steadying himself back in reality, Kuroo notices the owners whispering animatedly behind the bar, gesturing none too subtly while a waitress scrolls intensely through her phone. Ah . They probably recognize Bokuto from somewhere and are trying to figure out just how famous he is. It’s par for the course. There was a brief run of Bouncing Ball billboards featuring his megawatt smile (and very defined arms) modeling their new line of warm up gear, oh and the fucking Olympics , so occasional recognition is inevitable. 

Bokuto realizes what’s happening, of course, but is unfazed, unwavering as always in the spotlight. He’s so consistently Bokuto , despite fame, world-class endeavors, corporate sponsorships, and being a literal superhuman. His utter  imperviousness to these things allows the accolades to fall away, so that at the end of it all, he’s able to meet everyone simply as a  fellow human being. Kuroo’s always admired that about him - that joyous effortless humanity.  

There are people who are meant to be the stars of the social cosmos and Bokuto has undoubtedly always been one of them, deservedly so. Kuroo gets a funny feeling in his chest when he thinks about it, every now and again. Back when he was a teenager, he used to think the feeling was envy, and maybe a part of it was then, but now over a decade later he can see it glowing bright for what it is: a fierce and aching pride for everything Bokuto is and ever was.

Among other things. But that’s for later.

“This way then, Bokuto-sama,” Kuroo ducks out from under his friend’s arm and parodies a reverential bow, palms pressed together. Bokuto hoots

“You my high priestess or something?”

“Just a mere mortal, bro.”

Bokuto looks offended on his behalf. “You? Dude, never. You’re magical as fuck.”

Kuroo barks a laugh as he slides into their booth. “You make me sound like a fairy.”

“Yeah like a fairy...cat. Like Nyan Cat!”  

Kuroo snorts and Bokuto waves his hands in a shooing motion, “Move over, Tets”. He slides into the same side of the booth so they’re shoulder to shoulder.

It’s something so natural Kuroo almost doesn’t think about it. But he does think about it because it’s been so long and the last time they were pressed shoulder to hip on the same side of a restaurant booth must have been when he was still in college, more than seven? Eight years ago? 

It’s a ritual that started shortly after they had met as gawky fifteen year olds, when both their legs were too long for their growing bodies, and sitting across from each other meant knocking knees and shins and the inevitable kicking war. Utterly fed up and particularly prickly one angsty teenage day, Kuroo had promptly gotten up from his side of the table and unceremoniously shoved Bokuto over, who had squawked loudly in protest until Kuroo stretched his legs in front of him unhindered and gave his friend a pointed look like isn’t this better?   Bokuto’s eyes had grown wide, smile stretching even wider. “Bro...this makes so much sense! And…” He swiped a handful of Kuroo’s fries. “I don’t have to reach for your food anymore!”  

And that had settled that.

It probably doesn’t quite make sense anymore. Both of them have broadened in their adulthood so that sitting like this is by no means roomy. Plus it’s kind of weird in general. But something settles soft and languid and familiar inside Kuroo’s ribs and he knows neither one of them is moving.

“Alright fairy cat, what’s good here?” Bokuto wastes no time grabbing a menu, one hand flipping through the specials, while the other palms a handful of rice crackers. 

Kuroo is pulled out of his reverie, dazed at the sight of his friend, larger than life and pilfering bar snacks right in front of him. It’s like some surreal reboot of a series that aired half a lifetime ago, where adult actors have replaced the child ones, an incongruous continuity. 

“If you still eat like I remember, we’re going to have to get one of everything.”

“Ha! I probably eat twice as much as you remember. So how about... three of everything!”

“Well it’s clear you didn’t go to university…” Kuroo quips mindlessly as he lazily pages the menu. It’s all a moot point anyway - he knows food is just going to start appearing on their table any moment courtesy of the very excitable owners and they’ll both barely make it out of here alive at the end of it all. “I think this place has the best yakitori in the city. You still like chicken hearts right? I should let Miki-baachan...uh, why are you looking at me like that?”

Bokuto has paused in his appetizer decimation, one enormous  hand still hovering over the dish of peanuts. He’s giving Kuroo a stupidly stupidly  fond look, head slightly tilted and golden eyes practically glowing. 

Kuroo can’t even.

“Kou, you’re creeping me ou…”

“It’s just so great to see you, Testu!” Bokuto blurts too loudly. And then, softer, “I’ve really missed you.” 

And it’s so fucking earnest. Kuroo feels all the air leaves him in one huge Bokuto-sized whoosh. It’s way too early in the night for this. “D-dude, you can’t just hit me with sappy shit like that. I wasn’t ready!”

“Too bad. I’m a big man with big manly emotions. I gotta let them out,” Bokuto shrugs and resumes shoveling peanuts into his face. Kuroo feels himself gaping like an unattractive fish.

Luckily, blessed Miki appears at the table right there and then, thank all the gods, with a frosted bottle of sake and a steaming plate of golden-edged gyoza. Bokuto yells in hearty approval and that’s how it begins. 

It doesn’t take long for everyone on the restaurant staff to be utterly smitten with Kuroo’s “strong celebrity friend” and as predicted, the stream of dishes being sent to their table is unrelenting. Bokuto compliments everything from the dishes to the decor to Miki’s hair and sensible shoes, and she winks at Kuroo approvingly, sliding them another plate of chicken hearts. Dinner becomes a raucous blur of food, drink, and rapid conversation, punctuated by Bokuto’s booming contagious laughter, and their volume steadily increases with the amount of sake, banter, and whatever else that lingers in the spaces between them. 

An unholy amount of grilled meat later, Kuroo is laughing idiotically at Bokuto’s impersonation of Sakusa’s utter disdain for communal showers, while Bokuto is trying very hard to stay in character despite using a piece of lettuce as a face mask. It’s late and they’re so loud, and most of the other patrons have either moved to the bar on the far end of the restaurant or left altogether. 

Kuroo is flushed, his blood heated through with sake and the feeling of Bokuto’s shoulders rippling with laughter against his own. At this point, he honestly has no idea what has him more intoxicated. 

It’s so easy, it’s always been so easy , Kuroo thinks, to fall into Bokuto’s orbit and drift exultantly in that gravitational thrall.  Bokuto is so impossibly engaged and present and alive , and when Kuroo is with him, he feels drunk on the sheer possibilities of life. 

Like he can go toe to toe with giants, mountains, gods even, and somehow win against them all.

The piece of lettuce is not so fortunate, however, and falls to the table with a final pitiful smack. There’s a brief moment of silence before they both absolutely lose their shit, dissolving  into a helpless frenzy of laughter. Kuroo clutches  the back of Bokuto’s shirt, his face pressed into the fabric, trying to quell the tears squeezing out from the corners of his eyes. He doesn’t even recognize the sounds coming from his own throat. Bokuto’s leaning against the back of the booth, throat and teeth bared, huge gasping laughs rattling their entire table. 

“T-tetsu! Your laugh is so dumb !” he manages between gasps, “You’re such a cool guy, don’t get me wrong, but your laugh is so stupid.”

Kuroo swears he’s about to pass out. He wonders if anyone has ever died from laughing because he feels suddenly deeply empathetic. He chokes and feels like his cheeks are going to fall off.

“Rude! Oh my god ahaha, ow ow,” Kuroo wheezes and dabs at his eyes with a napkin, “Shh, don’t talk, just don’t say anything for ahahaha oh my god!”

Another painfully long minute passes before Kuroo finally stops involuntarily spasming himself into another fit of giggles. He collapses against the seat, taking long sips of air. A mirthful silence stretches between them, comfortable and warm. After another small eternity, Kuroo dares to glance over and sees Bokuto sitting back slightly, eyes round, gazing at him with that look again. Fuck.

“We should go,” Kuroo rasps finally, “they’re probably closing up soon.”

Bokuto hums and nods amiably. “I think we’ve done enough damage here.” He’s rifling in his back pocket for his wallet but Kuroo stops him.

“Nah, dude, it’s on the company,” he flags the waitress down and slides her his corporate card. “You can thank Kenma later.”

“I didn’t realize this was a business meeting,” Bokuto grins.

“Hey when you love what you do, what’s the difference between business and pleasure right?”

“Dude...cheers to that.”

There’s an extended round of heartfelt farewells to the restaurant staff, in which Bokuto promises to come back with the whole team, and the waitress finally works up the courage to ask for a selfie, blushing all the way to her ears. Bokuto obliges with gusto, and then proceeds to take several more rounds of selfies with literally everyone in the vicinity, ending in an outrageous group photo with Bokuto in the center carrying no less than three people in his arms. By the time they stumble out of the izakaya into the dim sidestreet, they’re laughing again, clear and loud against the night.

Kuroo doesn’t really have a plan in mind for what happens next. In years long past, they would’ve stayed out until some unholy hour terrorizing the 7-11s and sneaking through the city parks, hopping between subway stations on a whim until they closed. On a school night they would have ended up at their respective homes eventually, but on a weekend... Kuroo doesn’t chase that thought. This is uncharted territory between them now. 

He isn’t sure what the social etiquette between friends in your late twenties entails - do they part ways now? Back to their lives and jobs and whatever it is that prevents them from doing this on a regular basis? Kuroo imagines their sporadic hangouts like a chain of islands, the distance between each growing longer as the islands themselves only get smaller and smaller until there’s only the empty ocean beyond.  He desperately wants to build bridges between them, big solid ones, wants to pull all those tiny disparate islands together again to form the continent he swears they once were.

“Hey hey hey! Te! Tsu! Rou!” Kuroo is jarred from his maudlin thoughts by Bokuto’s sudden voice in his ear, low and urgent.

“What’s up, Kou?” He angles his face so that he meets Bokuto’s eyes, luminous under the streetlamps.

“You got anywhere you need to be?” 

Kuroo inhales sharply and holds it. “No I don’t…” 

Bokuto’s smile steals the very light from the moon. He leans in, nose barely brushing Kuroo’s temple, and whispers conspiratorially, “Hey, you wanna fuck shit up?”

Exhale. 

His own responding grin glints like a knife in the dark. “Bro...I thought you’d never ask.”

 

---

 

Kuroo is thirteen years old when he sees Bokuto Koutarou for the first time. They don’t actually meet for another two years, but Kuroo sees the other boy from across the gymnasium at his first official regional volleyball tournament, and can’t look away. Their teams don’t end up playing each other (Kuroo’s middle school  is eliminated in the first round), but he is both captivated and annoyed by Bokuto’s bright and palpable self-assurance. He never learns the boy's name or what team he’s on, but Kuroo remembers the sound of his ringing laughter across the court, the focused intent of his gaze, that ridiculous hair, and the arc of his spine as he leaps for the toss. He remembers the way his own fingertips tingle when he witnessed Bokuto’s spike for the first time. 

I’m gonna be in your way one day , Kuroo thinks, surprising himself with the tenacity of his own thoughts. It’s only after Kenma gives a small tug on his jersey, gently and somehow already knowing , that he is forced to look away and follow his team outside.

Two years later, when Kuroo stumbles off the bus at his first training camp with the Nekoma team, it is in fact Bokuto who is standing in his way. Kuroo is the last one remaining onboard, having jarred awake only to discover that someone (Yaku) had tied his shoelaces together. By the time he detangles himself and gathers his duffle and backpack, the rest of the Nekoma team has already started to wander towards the residential buildings.

At fifteen, Kuroo is neither cool nor confident; these signature traits will slowly take root over the next couple of years and blossom with his ascension to captain of the Nekoma team. At fifteen, his legs are overlong like a newborn giraffe’s, and he purposely sweeps his hair low to hide the breakouts on his forehead. He’s awkwardly, painfully self-conscious, and wants more than anything to exhibit some modicum of natural grace. Today is not that day, however, because his duffle strap catches the handrail and he trips down the last two steps off the bus, bowling right into another body in front of the doors. 

“Whoa hey hey!” 

Their first meeting is not cute. 

Kuroo is mortified, gritting his teeth around a frustrated apology, frantically eyeing the retreating backs of his teammates with a dull panic. He’s so subsumed by his own embarrassment that he almost doesn’t notice the other boy peering owlishly at him. By the time he’s registered the golden eyes mirroring his own, and the suddenly very familiar spray of monochrome hair and wide smile, Kuroo is so overwhelmed he feels he might faint.

“Sorry about that! I thought this was the Fukurodani bus, I left my knee pads in the back and...whoa dude you alright there?”

Kuroo has to bite his tongue in order to not say something completely dumb like I’m going to block your stupid spike or I remember your stupid laugh.

“Yeah,” he says instead and hastily adds, “Dude.”

“Oh. Great! You looked a little zoned out there.” Owl guy looks him up and down. “Nekoma huh? Heard you guys are pretty good! It’s my first year, but I think our team is great too. What’s your name?”

Kuroo blinks, buzzy and off-balance. “I’m Kuroo Tetsurou. It’s my first year as well.”

“Kuroo! Wow, that’s a cool name! I’m Bokuto Koutarou.” Bokuto’s smile is all teeth and sunshine. “I gotta find my stuff, but see you out on the court, hey? Let’s have fun!”

Bokuto Koutarou . Kuroo smiles back, a small genuine thing, shoelaces and awkwardness momentarily traded for a fluttery hopeful sensation in his chest. “Alright. Catch you later, Bokuto.”

Bokuto’s parting laugh is exactly as he remembers.

Their first training camp together passes by in a blur. The novelty and excitement of the new teams, the new space, the new schedule, all of it, leaves Kuroo breathless and exhausted by the end of each night. As he’s swept into the rhythm of drills and practice matches, he has a fuzzy peripheral awareness of where Bokuto is at all times. It’s not hard - Bokuto is loud and dramatic after all, and his reputation as Fukurodani’s up and coming ace precedes him. 

At fifteen, Bokuto is eager and unguarded, with a breezy magnetism that draws people in heedless of year or school affiliations. His moods fluctuate wildly, from booming confidence to wilting self-deprecation, but strangely that endears people to him even more. 

Perhaps it’s not so strange though. Maybe it is exactly Bokuto’s disarming genuinity that unwittingly brings out the truest versions of the people around him. Bokuto’s easy laughter pulls the same out of Kuroo, and together they can be heard across the entire campus. Kuroo is hooked on it. When they’re together, he feels sharp and decisive, a blade with an edge, all wit and stunning sarcasm. And Bokuto seems to think it’s the coolest thing ever.

During practice, Bokuto’s spikes are as ruthless as Kuroo remembers, and he struggles to even graze one with his fingertips. When he does finally manage to stop a particularly ambitious cross, forearms promising to bruise later, the fire in Bokuto’s eyes blazes so bright that Kuroo can look nowhere else. I’m in your way, see? They grin at each other, all teeth, the net taut between them, and something latent and unsaid pulls their orbits ever closer. 

At the end of the week, they exchange contacts and Kuroo gets his first message from Bokuto on the bus ride back to Nekoma.

[bokuto:  HEY hey hey kuroooo!! u r so cool!!! lets practice again soon dont worry ill  let u touch some of my spikes HAHA ]

Something unfurls in Kuroo’s chest then, a buoyant and staticky sensation. He’s still impossibly fifteen, tired and bruised from the arduous week, but he sits up just a little taller, and feels for the first time in his life, a small satisfaction in being Kuroo Testurou.

[kuroo: >:p]

[kuroo: what are you doing next weekend?]  

He presses the send button before he can overthink it, trying not to fidget as he waits for a response. He doesn’t have to wait long.

[bokuto: wut r WE doin next weekend bro?]

Kuroo inhales and types the first thing that comes to mind. It’s from some movie, he thinks, some kids in hoodies in a skate park, grungy and out of focus. It’s really not anything he’d ever say out loud but he’s feeling brave and his palms are sweaty, and Kuroo thinks that perhaps he wants to become the kind of person that could say things like this out loud. The kind of person Bokuto seems to think he is.

[kuroo: wanna fuck shit up?]

He doesn’t even realize he’s holding his breath until Bokuto’s response makes him gasp it all out, lightheaded. He can practically see the other boy’s eyes burning bright in his mind. 

[bokuto: duuuuuude  Y E S ]

 

---

 

As they venture away from the izakaya and out into the Tokyo nightscape, Kuroo can’t help thinking about those first few hangouts, how different he was back then, how unsure and gawky, yet so assuredly pulled along by the same forces that compel him even now. Exhibit A:  Bokuto, with a gentle grip around his wrist, tugging him excitedly around the corner, across the street, around another corner, mischief in every fiber of his being. “I know exactly what we should do. This is gonna be great, I saw them on my way over to meet you and I was like dude, we have to.

Kuroo knows that whatever adventure Bokuto has in mind, it’s going to be silly and fun and more likely than not ridiculously wholesome , because despite the crass words that started out their friendship, they’ve never actually fucked any shit up. The closest thing they’ve gotten to delinquency was probably the small cat and owl drawings they left in permanent marker under the plastic seats of their most frequented subway sessions. Kuroo wonders if they’re still there.

“Tada!” Bokuto gestures dramatically ahead.

Spread out before them just off the curb are two dozen electric scooters glowing happily in their charging stations. 

“Tets, aren’t you sad these didn’t exist when we were in high school? Teenagers are so lucky these days. I ride these all the time to practice, they are a hoot.”  Bokuto is already palming his phone to scan the barcode on his chosen steed. “Come on come on, let’s go scoot along the river.”

“Bo, are you sure you can fit on one of those things, you might have to strap two of them together.” Kuroo fumbles to unlock his own scooter. “You might crush yours with your godly thighs.”

Bokuto gives him a funny look then, mouth askew and eyes alight. His voice comes out a teasing purr. “Well, you would know something about my thighs, wouldn’t you, Kuroo Tetsurou?”

Before Kuroo can formulate a response around his gaping mouth, Bokuto has zoomed off, booming laughter dopplering away. 

The night is a filmy purple haze as they zip through the arteries of Tokyo’s beating heart, avoiding the main thoroughfares in favor of curving alleyways and subdued residential corridors. As the balmy air slides over his cheekbones, Kuroo feels as if he’s been transported into a movie, some grainy and hued foreign film. Street lights and neon bleed past him in swaths of boke pinks and blues. He knows this city like the back of his hand, knows its hidden staircases and waterways and shortcuts.  He’s been here, on this lane, on this curb, under this traffic light, countless times before.

But there’s something lost in translation about this moment, careening through the back alleys with Bokuto’s broad back as his north star. They’ve done this all before, but it was so long ago and his brain is fumbling to stitch together the present with the past.  It’s his favorite movie being played in a different language and he can’t quite make out the subtitles. He can’t quite be sure it’s going to end the same way.

The world blurs, dream-like, and Kuroo can taste the night air in his mouth as he laughs into the wind.

Somewhere on the fringes of Waseda University campus, Bokuto screeches his scooter to an abrupt halt under a glowing green Family Mart sign. 

“Watch my scooter! I’m gonna grab some pudding.”

“Kou, I’m pretty sure we ate at least two cows and an entire flock of chickens. How can you still want more food?”

“‘Cause pudding cups are like...our thing!” Bokuto is bouncing on the balls of his feet, a grown ass man wiggling excitedly at the prospect of convenience store dessert. “We have to! You love that shit, I know you do.”

Ugh. And it’s true, Kuroo does love that shit. How many countless Tokyo escapades between them had culminated at the bottom of a sticky cup and a shared spoon? He never told Bokuto outright, but pudding cups remind him of his childhood, when his mom still lived with them and would take him hand in hand to the corner combini every weekend and get him one. It’s a comfort woven deep into his being. The fact that Bokuto remembers, well, Kuroo lets himself melt. Just a little.

“What can I say, I’m a cheap date,” Kuroo waves him along.

Bokuto disappears between the sliding glass doors with a wink. “I’ll even get you the fancy brand with the real caramel sauce.”

Fifteen minutes later and they’re sitting on a grassy slope overlooking the Kanda. They’re far enough from the road that the thrum of summer cicadas can be heard gently permeating the humid night air. The river is a dark swath, absorbing the meager light of the dim street lamps teeming with glowing clouds of tiny moths. 

They’re sitting shoulder to shoulder, slightly too close. Kuroo can feel their damp skin sticking together where they touch. He flexes his fingers and their knuckles brush. It’s a familiar thing.

“Hey Tets, remember when I came to visit you in college?” Bokuto presses against him, warm and firm.

“Ha yeah, that was in my second year I think?”

“Something like that. Back when you were still just a jock and not an international man of mystery.”

Kuroo laughs sharply. “I was studying abroad, Bo. Hardly a mystery. Just school, but...elsewhere.”

“Dude, you were in a different country every time we talked.” 

“Also, excuse you, I was never a jock.”

“Back when you were still playing volleyball , Tetsu.” Bokuto says, voice suddenly gone soft. He pauses, hesitating, before adding. “Sometimes I wish you had kept playing. You were so good.”

Kuroo snorts. They’ve had this conversation before, in various iterations, across various continents. The closest thing they’ve ever had to an actual disagreement. It’s not so much contention as it is a rift, a chasm opening up where their foundations once stood. Volleyball had brought them together, kept them together. When Kuroo made the decision to finish his degree on the other side of the world and quit the college team, well, he supposes the sport itself wasn’t the only casualty. It’s an old wound, not even a scab anymore, just a faint scar that only itches sometimes. Like now.

“I wasn’t that good,” Kuroo shrugs, feeling his skin catch on Bokuto’s arm. “ You were good,” He laughs. “And now you’re the best in the whole damn world.”

“You were good.” Bokuto repeats, unrelenting. Kuroo can feel those bright eyes boring into the side of his head. He can’t bring himself to meet his friend’s gaze and opts to pluck the pudding cup out of Bokuto’s hand instead. It’s true, Kuroo had been good. But he had wanted to be great at things other than volleyball. He knows deep down that Bokuto understands that flavor of ambition, even if he can’t empathize with Kuroo’s decision. They’re still friends after all. Or something.

Popping the plastic lid off, Kuroo grips the small syrup packet between his canines and tears it open, a few droplets  of the dark sticky liquid catching on his lip and threatening to dribble down his chin. Before he can lick or dab it away himself, Bokuto’s thumb swipes across the corner of his mouth, swift and warm. By the time Kuroo processes the lingering taste of caramel on his tongue, Bokuto has already finished sucking the sticky drop off his own hand and is gazing at him sheepishly, delightedly. “I gotchu, bro.”

“Th-thanks,” Kuroo’s lips tingle and he manages to look away from Bokuto’s smiling mouth long enough to drizzle the syrup into the pudding cup. He blinks at the dessert in his hand, dazed. 

“Hey, give it here?” Bokuto motions then for Kuroo to hand the cup over, and he does, along with the plastic spoon. 

The summery night air buzzes around them, lush and heavy.

He’s not quite sure what’s happening as Bokuto sets the pudding and spoon down carefully on the grass, safely out of the way. Nor is he sure what’s happening when Bokuto turns to face him afterwards, head slightly angled, considering him with a soft and secretive look. 

Kuroo’s brain is still trying to catch up with the rest of this whirlwind summer night when Bokuto, with eyes stupidly stupidly fond, tilts him back into the grass, pins him between two strong arms, and leans in very very close.

Oh.

“So what I was saying about when I came to visit you,” Bokuto murmurs, lips hovering a hair's breadth away. His eyes are lidded, incandescent. “Remember when we climbed onto your dorm roof?”

Kuroo opens his eyes. He’s not sure when he closed them in the first place. And of course he remembers. “Through the window. We were trying to find a place to make out.” 

Bokuto chuckles, soft and low, little puffs of air dancing onto Kuroo’s lips. “Uh huh,” Bokuto’s voice drops to a low rumble. “Is here good?”

Kuroo smirks. “Kiss me already,” he whispers and Bokuto does.

Kuroo can taste the burnt sugary taste on both their lips. Straining upwards, he chases it, seeking, remembering. He cups his hands along the velvety skin behind Bokuto’s ears and pulls him in, presses their noses together, kisses back with such earnestness he suddenly feels like the most honest man in the world. I’ve missed you, too.

It’s both excitingly foreign and intimately familiar. The heat, the stickiness of his skin, the unwavering presence above him. Bokuto smells like woodsmoke and musk, grass and cologne. Kuroo doesn’t really recall him ever smelling like any of those things before, but underneath it all is something he remembers with remarkable clarity. Sweat, and a smell like sunlight on skin, fresh sheets, new growth in springtime. If the blue of a summer sky had a scent, it would be this, so uniquely and irresistibly Bokuto, it’s maddening and soothing all at once. He inhales and inhales some more, wanting to imbue its essence deep into his lungs. 

It’s lighthearted like their first kiss, that one hazy afternoon at the end of their second year: Bokuto had burst into his room bearing news of his imminent captaincy (Kuroo having just secured his own the week before). 

“We did it, Tetsu! Captains! Both of us! Can you believe it?” The newly minted Fukurodani captain had laughed and laughed in triumph, spinning around in circles, too breathless and wild for the small room. “I’m so happy I could...I could literally kiss you right now!” 

Reckless in his own uncontainable joy and ever the braver in his friend’s presence, Kuroo had let the challenge fall from his lips. “Then kiss me.”  Eyes bright and aflame, Bokuto had looked at him in that moment with something akin to wonder. He could taste the laughter on the other boy’s lips when they touched his own for the first time.

It’s also reminiscent of all the kisses they traded with newfound desperation the summer after they graduated, edged with a white hot urgency. The casual kisses that peppered their third year had increased slowly in frequency as the seasons warmed. What started as a comforting gesture, half inside-joke, half something else, started to feel weighted, strung taut. Kuroo remembers how their hugs lingered longer that final semester, his fingers catching on a backpack strap or zipper, unwilling to let go. He remembers the slow brush of dry lips as their quick pecks (“Lip bumps!” Bokuto had declared when Akaashi’s eyebrows had shot straight into his hairline after seeing them kiss goodbye. “Like fist bumps, but with your mouth!”) became less fleeting, more aching. 

As Bokuto presses him into the damp grass, Kuroo remembers another August, ten years ago. It had been a night much like the present one, lush and endless, and they had stood in front of Kuroo’s house at 2am, on the cusp of the rest of their lives. Bokuto was moving to Osaka in two weeks to attend the pre-season training for new recruits. By the time he came back to Tokyo to collect the rest of his things, Kuroo would be gone, beginning his college life in Hokkaido, which he had picked mostly for its robust study abroad opportunities. 

He knew he would probably end up back in Tokyo, his beloved hometown, but wanted to first fling himself as far away as he could. Bokuto on the other hand, Kuroo had known, most likely wouldn’t ever come back. His sisters had ended up in entirely different countries after all, and their baby brother was gearing up to blaze his own trails through the universe. Kuroo knew their time together was slipping through his fingers.

So when Bokuto started to pull back from their customary goodbye lip bump, Kuroo had threaded his fingers into the soft dark hairs at his friend’s nape and coaxed him back in. He had sensed Bokuto’s momentary confusion, a subtle stiffening in his shoulders, but that all melted away as soon as Kuroo bravely pressed the tip of his tongue to Bokuto’s bottom lip. Kuroo felt Bokuto’s hands find the collar of his jacket, tenuous, and then those soft lips exhaled open and he was licking into the wet heat of Bokuto’s mouth. The first slide of their tongues together was electric, rippling heat through veins, and they had gasped in unison, breaths erratic. Kuroo had held Bokuto’s face so gently then, afraid and elated. His heart had never beaten so fast.

“Stay with me?” he whispered into the negative spaces between them, his fingers tangling into hair, fabric, drawstrings. He felt Bokuto’s nod, lips still pressed and seeking against his own, and they parted long enough to tumble into the house, tripping out of the genkan, and up the stairs to Kuroo’s bedroom.

 In the dark blue velvet of that summer night so long ago, Kuroo had mapped the entirety of his best friend and committed it deeply to memory, from the thin pulsing skin of Bokuto’s throat and small pools of sweat that gathered by his clavicles to the sensitive dips between Bokuto’s ribs (which caused him to giggle boyishly), the smooth planes of his abdomen, down the sharp ridges under his hip bones, and down down further to the aching heat beyond that. “Tetsu. Tetsu,” Bokuto had chanted his name like a mantra, biting down on his own knuckles to stifle his groans. Kuroo would never forget those golden eyes glazed in rapture, pupils blown wide.

They had rubbed and pressed against each other with little finesse, their bodies slick with sweat and desire and teenage urgency. In those timeless hours, with Bokuto’s mouth and hands and legs wrapped around him, Kuroo had fervently wished that dawn would never come. The only sun he’d ever need was right here in his bed, and when Bokuto came for the second time that night, white hot, into his palm, Kuroo had choked out, “I’m going to miss you, Kou.”

Presently,  Kuroo reels with the vivid memory of their first time as Bokuto’s palm slides under his shirt and splays hot fingers against his hipbone. He feels weightless, thrumming, with the single need to be closer, closer. The night is overly warm but Kuroo is as helplessly drawn to Bokuto’s fire as surely as the summer moths to the lamplight below. 

“Still ok?” Bokuto murmurs, mouthing at Kuroo’s jaw, thumb dipping into the inviting space between skin and fabric. 

Kuroo doesn’t really know how long they’ve been lying in the grass. Physical intimacy with Bokuto has always thrown the concept of time for a loop. The park is quiet and deserted, and only the occasional headlight flashes by on the road behind them. 

“Yeah ‘m pretty okay,” Kuroo presses their lips together for another searing kiss but catches Bokuto’s wrist before the hand makes it all the way into his jeans. 

Bokuto makes a small sound of protest but wiggles his fingers free and brings them up to cup Kuroo’s jaw. “Heh, sorry, ‘m getting excited.” Which is an incredible understatement. They’re both breathing hard, faces and hands burning, uncontainable.

Dredging the last drops of willpower from what feels like the bottom of his very soul, Kuroo eventually manages to put a few centimeters of space between their lips and nudges Bokuto’s chest gently with open palms. “Hey. Let’s continue this at my place?”

Bokuto leans back, pupils engulfing his irises leaving only a corona of gold around them. “Well we certainly can’t go back to my parent’s place.”

“Never stopped us before.” Kuroo struggles to sit up, wincing at the dampness on his back and the tightness of his jeans.

Bokuto has retrieved the pudding cup from its exile and is sucking on the spoon thoughtfully. His cheeks are visibly pink in the streetlight and Kuroo’s heart skips a beat. 

“True,” Bokuto muses, popping the spoon out of his mouth with an obscene flourish. “But I wanna be loud.”  He pauses and looks up at Kuroo through translucent lashes, “I want you to be loud.”

For the umpteenth time that night, Kuroo feels all the air vacate his body and all his blood rush southward. 

“Yeah?” Their faces drift closer again, an inevitability. 

“Yeah. ‘M gonna make you scream, Tets,'' Bokuto nips at Kuroo’s lower lip.

“I’m gonna make you scream louder,” Kuroo snaps his teeth together with a click, barely missing Bokuto’s tongue.

“Mmm well ok, bro… but that’s ‘cause I’m normally louder than you anyway.”

And then they’re kissing again, sweet and slow. Kuroo licks a hot stripe across Bokuto’s jawline and a moment later Bokuto does  (against all odds) slide an entire hand into Kuroo’s skinny jeans to squeeze his ass before Kuroo half gasps, half laughs at him to stop. It’s thrilling and absurd how they went from proper members of society having dinner together to hormone-drenched teenagers groping each other in a public park. 

“Okay okay, we have to get out of here before we get arrested for indecent exposure. I can only stop your advances for so long, Olympian-san.”

“Tetsu...” Bokuto’s whines, normal baritone gone reedy with desire.

“Up. Now.”

The subsequent cab ride back to Kuroo’s apartment feels entirely too long and hysterically too tense. It’s a miracle they’re able to keep a respectable distance from each other in the back seat, and the line of heat where their pinkies touch atop the center seat feels like a livewire. 

Three blocks left to go, Kuroo shifts impatiently and presses the nail of his index finger ever so deliberately into the flesh of Bokuto’s palm, leaving behind a perfectly indented crescent. Bokuto jerks against the seatbelt and levels him a look that is one part Tetsu how could you and two parts pure ferality, all wide golden eyes and bared teeth. Kuroo feels the cheeky thrill shoot straight down his spine. He gives his friend a lingering sideways glance, curling his lip and exposing just enough of his canine to flick the tip of his tongue over.

“Bro...when we get out of this car you’re so fucked,” Bokuto mouths under his breath.

“I think we all know that’s a filthy lie,” Kuroo scrapes a fingernail along Bokuto’s lifeline eliciting another squirm and a sharp inhale from the other man. In an effort to keep Kuroo’s claws at bay, Bokuto grabs his fingers and sits on them. Which is a terrible mistake on his part as Kuroo extends one long index finger to prod him right there. There’s a muffled thud as Bokuto’s head meets the cab roof. 

Thank all the stars in the universe that they pull to a stop in front of the apartment building at that very moment. Kuroo doesn’t want to think about the utterly obscene chaos that would have ensued otherwise. Or rather, he does want to think about it at length , but he has things like a public image to uphold. Instead, he hands the driver an outrageous tip to apologize for the unbearable sexual tension and all but claws his way out of the vehicle. Bokuto’s already bouncing on the sidewalk and stalks towards him like a large hungry cat.

As they walk stiffly through the lobby towards the elevator, Bokuto reels him in by a shirt sleeve and tucks a hand into Kuroo’s back pocket, holding firm. The metallic doors have barely closed and Kuroo has just narrowly managed to smash the button for the 38th floor before Bokuto’s muscled frame crowds Kuroo heavily against the elevator’s immaculate mirrored wall. 

Big golden eyes peer at him impishly. “Hi,” Bokuto nudges his nose to Kuroo’s cheek and presses a kiss there. “You’re screwed, my dude.”

“Bite me.”

Bokuto does, sinking his teeth right into the meaty part of Kuroo’s cheek with a growl. The mischievous glint in his eye is the only warning he gives before he proceeds to lick a sloppy series of wet trails across Kuroo’s entire face. 

“Oh no, dude gross!” Kuroo cackles as he tries in vain to put some distance between them. “That was my eye!” Bokuto pins him firmly and kisses him with vigor, smothering that godforsaken laughter.

They harass each other all the way down the hall to Kuroo’s corner unit, fingers in belt loops and stifled laughter. In yet another miracle of the night, Kuroo does not fumble his keys, even through Bokuto’s insistent mouthing at the back of his neck, and smoothly swoops them into the refuge of his home. 

For all their rowdiness in getting there, they both fall silent as they step into the muted darkness. Kuroo flicks on the lights and watches Bokuto take in the surroundings, mouth slightly parted, eyes softly reverent. Kuroo follows his gaze as it scans the minimal but classic furniture, dark wood and chrome. His single shelf of houseplants and three shelves of coffee making contraptions. The stack of business journals on the entry table and another of JVA Quarterly interspersed with a sheaf of mail on the counter. Bouncing Ball paraphernalia is scattered across various surfaces and a rogue promotional volleyball idles in the corner. A sliver of the living room at the end of the hall reveals a wide leather sofa piled with an unreasonable number of throw blankets and a red record player with an incriminatingly pink kpop record still on the deck. The Tokyo skyline glimmers silently beyond. 

Kuroo feels...not awkward per se, but awash in a strange newness. Bokuto has never seen his apartment, this new extension of Kuroo Tetsurou as he is here and now. It’s not his childhood room plastered with popstars and volleyball posters and it’s not his college dorm kept bare because he was never there. This is the space he’s grown into for the past five years, the first place he truly calls his own. And Kuroo feels the question on the tip of his tongue hey do you like it? 

“Welcome to my humble abode,” Kuroo murmurs, kicking off his shoes and making his way into the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”

Bokuto is running his fingertips along the counter, sharp eyes roving across every detail, every magnet and post-it on the fridge until he lands on one in particular, an old photograph of them before the Olympics. Candidly taken probably as a test shot for one of the BB promos, it’s just the two of them standing courtside, shoulders touching, heads inclined towards each other. They’re both laughing. 

Bokuto pokes the photo and grins. Kuroo hears him shuffling around to the living room, making small noises at various items he comes across, patting the sofa and whistling at the view. 

Midway through filling two glasses with water, he feels Bokuto’s strong arms envelop him from behind. “I like your place, Tetsu. It smells like you. It feels like you.”

Lips catch his earlobe, a kiss pressed to the bony ridge of his fifth vertebra. Kuroo turns around, meeting Bokuto’s roaming mouth with his own and they kiss languidly against the kitchen sink.

It’s nice. This newness that permeates their every interaction, despite its faraway familiarity. Kuroo is struck by the realization that they are bound by nothing right now, not time, not space, no roommates, no curfew, no shoving their palms against each others’ gasping mouths so their parents don’t hear. He doesn’t even have work the next day (Kenma’s earlier text had been straightforward “You’re off tomorrow”).  It’s just him and Bokuto, present and real and beholden to no one. 

I’m home, Kuroo thinks. 

And so he allows himself the unhurried pleasure of rediscovering Bokuto Koutarou in the flesh, this nascent star grown into himself and now top of the world. Kuroo wants to know him in that vast entirety again. Wants the staggering scale of Bokuto’s whole being to utterly consume him like it once did. And so.

“My kitchen is pretty nice, but my bedroom is way nicer,” he offers, spreading his fingers against the plane of Bokuto’s stomach and pushing him backwards. 

“Oho?” Bokuto cups a large palm around Kuroo’s jaw and pulls him into a bitey kiss before allowing himself to be nudged down the hallway.

They leisurely makeout against every possible inch of available wallspace as they go and Kuroo is fleetingly grateful that he never got around to putting up any wall decor. He’s also delighted that he has kept his slight height advantage and curls over Bokuto like a comma, hands roaming down those sculpted arms, tongue laving and mapping the familiar shadows beneath those memorable collarbones. Bokuto’s fingers are in his hair, nails raking deliciously against his scalp. Kuroo allows his head to drop back as he lets out a low moan.

“There we go,” Bokuto groans approvingly, licking into the seam of Kuroo’s mouth, sucking the fat lobe of the bottom lip between his teeth. “I like it when you’re noisy.”

Kuroo indulges him with another breathy exhale and Bokuto pushes him backwards onto his own bed. 

They pause for a moment, regarding each other across the tremulous distance between them. Kuroo notes the synchronized rise and fall of their chests, traces the faint pink marks up Bokuto’s neck to the spit-shiny wetness of his lips. Finally, finally, he lifts his gaze to meet those impossibly golden eyes head on. Even in the dim light, they flicker with a flame undying, a relentless hunger that ignites Kuroo’s blood with desire. It’s like staring into the core of a planet just born. 

“Kou...c’mere.”

Bokuto descends on him in a rippling wave of smooth muscle and hot skin. “Off,” he tugs on Kuroo’s shirt, shucking his own in one habitual movement. The jeans and joggers are shortly lost to the bedroom floor as well. Bokuto presses against him, a furnace, and they both exhale sharply at the new wells of heat that pool between them. Kuroo cants his hips upwards, grinding into Bokuto, who whines low in his throat. “Tetsu…”

Kuroo smirks and wiggles himself down the length of Bokuto’s torso, pressing kisses to the broad planes of his chest while his fingernails graze teasingly over the firm contours of his abs. He pauses to swirl the tip of his tongue around one dusky nipple and smiles in pleasure as Bokuto moans loudly. Kuroo takes his sweet time massaging the nub with his lips and teeth until it's swollen and red and Bokuto is practically mewling at him to stop slash don’t stop, muscles quivering. 

“I wanna blow you,” Kuroo mouths against Bokuto’s stomach, eliciting a shiver. 

“I want you to blow me,” Bokuto affirms enthusiastically. 

“Awesome,” Kuroo braces his hands on Bokuto’s hips and topples him over onto the bed. Crawling back up to eye level, he drops a lazy kiss to Bokuto’s smiling mouth.

“Hey wait.”

He feels Bokuto’s fingers behind his head as he’s reeled back in for a proper kiss, open mouthed and wet. Another hand kneads indelicately at his ass as they rut messily against each other, erections straining. 

Feeling Bokuto hard and wanting underneath him catalyzes something thick in Kuroo’s blood. A molten urgency courses through his veins and the previously relaxed pace is replaced by something desperate and sharp. He bites down roughly on Bokuto’s solid jaw and feels the other’s hips buck up in response. 

Resuming his prior trajectory, Kuroo kisses an efficient line down the center of Bokuto’s neck, canines teasing over the prominent Adam’s apple before descending once more to tongue hotly at all the enticing dips of well-honed muscles. 

He doesn’t stop until his mouth is hovering over Bokuto’s bulge pushing tightly against the thin fabric of his briefs. Kuroo notes with no small amount of pleasure the darkened wet spot there and lets his lips flit over the telltale stain. Bokuto jerks impatiently, a whining mess, and Kuroo pins him down to the mattress as he mouths obscenely over the clothed erection. He skims his teeth along the fabric, nuzzling into the heady warm musk and breathes in deep.

“A-aah, Tets.” Bokuto’s lower body vibrates and strains as he tries to press up into the contact. Kuroo supposes he’s been enough of a tease...for now. Making sure to catch the other’s heavy lidded gaze with his own first, he proceeds to grasp the waistband of the briefs with his teeth and pop it over Bokuto’s cock with a flourish. 

Bokuto groans softly as his heavy member falls against his stomach, bared to the air. “You’re still doing that,” Bokuto mutters fondly, stuttering laughter. “I can’t believe you’re still doing the teeth thing. I can’t believe I like it.” 

The briefs make it halfway down his thighs, good enough, before Kuroo cups the base of Bokuto’s dick with long fingers. He strokes once, twice, and then swallows him down in one decisive arc. 

“Fuck!” Bokuto’s ragged yell blazes warmth into Kuroo’s very bones. Kuroo hums approvingly, lips stretched and tongue swirling slowly up and down the generous length. He bobs his head slightly, letting his throat get used to the intrusion before starting a steady back and forth. Strong hands tangle into his hair, gripping tight at the roots and he groans softly into Bokuto’s pubes. 

The slick sounds that fill the room punctuated by Bokuto’s intermittent whimpers are painfully, achingly arousing. Kuroo pushes his own needy erection into the mattress, resisting the urge to touch himself just yet. He cups a hand around Bokuto’s balls, tugging lightly, and Bokuto keens in response. Kuroo can tell by the shaking in Bokuto’s thighs that the other man is still holding himself back, letting Kuroo dictate pace and depth. Cute, but Kuroo wants to see him undone, wants to feel the latent power in those hard muscles.  He gives Bokuto’s cock one long suck before popping off noisily for air.

Bokuto’s eyes are closed tight, pale lashes fluttering, heels digging into the sheets and thighs taut. One hand is still fisted through Kuroo’s hair and the other is bracing the headboard behind him. The city lights below, and the warm glow of the hallway bleed softly into the bedroom, bathing him in alternating blues and golds. Kuroo’s breath catches somewhere around his heart and he can’t look away. 

He dips back down to place a kiss right on the head of Bokuto’s dick, lips smearing through the precome. Bokuto cracks his eyes open and lets out a stuttering breath.

“H-hey…”

“Hey yourself,” Kuroo makes a show of holding Bokuto’s cock between his teeth and tonguing at the slit. Bokuto’s back arches off the bed as he moans, long and loud.

Snaking one arm around a quivering thigh, Kuroo lets his hand fall between Bokuto’s legs and presses his knuckles gently up into the firm mound behind his balls. He feels the athlete’s entire body go rigid at the sensation. Keeping his lips wrapped softly around the head of Bokuto’s arousal, Kuroo gives the perineum a few more soft rubs before unfurling his index finger to ghost a line from taint down to the puckered entrance below. He circles it with the tip of his finger and Bokuto gasps and writhes beneath him.

“H-hey Tets,” Bokuto manages between gasps.

“Hmm?” Kuroo raises an eyebrow, not relenting in his oral assault on Bokuto’s dick or the fingers stroking gently at his hole.

“Where’s your lube?”

Kuroo grins, mouth still full of cock and gestures to the nightstand by Bokuto’s head. 

A bit of rifling later, Kuroo hears the distinct click of the cap being opened and holds out his palm expectantly. He feels the slick liquid coat his fingers as Bokuto pours out a generous amount of lube into his waiting hand. Some of it dribbles over onto Bokuto’s stomach and Kuroo admires the way the ab muscles flex at the sudden coolness. 

Satisfied, Kuroo hikes one of Bokuto’s heavy legs over his shoulder, pulling the latter’s hips off the mattress entirely. Bokuto yelps at the sudden manhandling, laughing breathily.

“You ready?” Kuroo feels how split his own lips are from sucking dick and licks them indulgently. He looks down at Bokuto beneath him, flushed and heaving, his dick leaking in earnest, darkened with arousal and slick with saliva. It’s positively obscene. 

“Gimme your worst,” Bokuto is grinning shakily up at him but his cheeky expression dissolves quickly into a helpless moan, lips parted, as Kuroo presses one slick finger into him and curls it at the knuckle just so.

Bokuto begins to unravel then, pulled apart slowly by Kuroo’s ministrations. Kuroo feels drunk on the sound of Bokuto’s moans turned gravelly and hoarse, the heat emanating from him like the sun itself. As Kuroo adds a second finger next to the first, feeling the delicious stretch slide past his knuckles, he ducks back down to take Bokuto’s weeping cock back into his mouth.

“Tetsu!” Bokuto bucks up violently and Kuroo fights down a gag, swallowing thickly and thrusting his fingers faster, scissoring them as they push deeper. Cupping the meat of Bokuto’s ass with his other hand, he brings his hips up closer to his face, bobbing his head and encouraging Bokuto to fuck into his mouth. Bokuto obliges with gusto, making good use of his core strength to thrust emphatically up into Kuroo’s throat.

“A-ah Tetsu, hey Tets, if you keep doing that I’m gonna...I’m gonna..”

Kuroo’s blood is singing in his veins, and he wants nothing more in that moment than to feel Bokuto fall apart completely. He grips Bokuto’s pistoning hips tighter, fingernails breaking skin, and slots a third finger into the slick heat. He curls his fingers, and pushes them forward and...

“Shit!”

The headboard slams into the wall as Bokuto comes with a curse and a shout, spine arching off the bed in a curve befitting of the ace. Kuroo feels the hot slide of cum down the back of his throat and swallows hungrily, lapping at the underside of the pulsing dick while his fingers ride the waves of Bokuto’s orgasm, still buried knuckles deep.

“Haaaa. Te. Tsu. Rou,” Bokuto whines in little abbreviated gasps, shuddering through the aftershocks of his climax.  Kuroo is thoroughly enjoying the heavy hand carding through his hair and feeling Bokuto’s racing pulse through the thin skin of his thighs. He continues lapping lazily at Bokuto’s spent cock until he feels insistent tugging on his scalp.

“C’mere,” Bokuto whispers raggedly, squirming through the sensitivity. 

Kuroo gently slides his fingers out and lowers Bokuto’s hips back down to the mattress. Feeling very much like the cat that got the canary, he crawls on top of Bokuto, slick sweat between them, and kisses him soundly. Everything smells like sex and Bokuto.

Bokuto wastes no time wrapping a calloused palm around Kuroo’s dick, at this point flushed a deep color and dribbling an impressive string of precome all over both their stomachs. 

“So you gonna fuck me or what?” Bokuto mutters into his mouth, stroking rapidly.

Kuroo groans as Bokuto’s circles a finger over the slick head of his cock. “Dude, we can wait a little bit, you literally just...”

“Don’t wanna,” Bokuto pumps Kuroo’s dick enthusiastically for emphasis. “Fuck me.”

Kuroo inhales sharply through his teeth, letting out another undignified sound as Bokuto pinches his nipple. He grinds into Bokuto’s hand, kissing the grin off that stupid smiling face.

“Roll over then.”

Bokuto gives him one last nip before flipping onto his stomach. He makes a whole production of propping himself up on his elbows and knees, waggling his hips as he looks over his shoulder and even has the gall to throw Kuroo a wink.

Kuroo groans loudly because Bokuto is utterly ridiculous, but mostly he groans because Bokuto looks fucking good and everyone in the room knows it. Years of world class training had sculpted Bokuto’s shoulders and back into a glorious display of rippling physique, bigger and broader than ever. Kuroo bends over and licks up the line of Bokuto’s spine, admiring the hard muscles straining on either side of his tongue. He hooks his fingers into the folds of Bokuto’s hips and pulls him flush against his own, exhaling shakily as his dick slots cozily between Bokuto’s ass cheeks. 

“You look really good, Kou,” Kuroo hears himself say through the haze of arousal.

Bokuto flashes him another grin, luxuriously stroking Kuroo up and down with his butt. “Uh huh. I believe the word you used was ‘godly’?”

Kuroo wheezes, rocking his own hips helplessly while reaching into the nightstand for a condom. 

“Well I wasn’t lying,” Kuroo rips the packet with his teeth and rolls the condom over his throbbing dick. “Unlike you.”

“What?! What did I lie about?”

Kuroo grins sharply as he lines up against Bokuto’s hole, smearing extra lube over himself. “When you said I was gonna be fucked.”

“You are! Just you wait, the night is young.”

“Mmm okay,” he tries to sound nonchalant but his mouth has gone dry. Kuroo nudges the head of his dick to the tight entrance and they both groan.

Grasping a palmful of Bokuto’s ass, he pushes forward slowly into the tight heat. Bokuto keens, voice cracking, “God I’ve missed this.”

It takes everything in Kuroo’s power not to come right then and there. The slick warmth, the heady pressure on his dick, the way Bokuto’s back muscles tense beneath him. It’s unbearable, devastating. 

Bokuto is whimpering a slew of gibberish, more whining than words, back bowed towards the bed. It’s a torturously slow slide. Kuroo drinks in every second of it, vibrating like a bowstring and biting his own lip to a pulp.

When he finally bottoms out, hip points nestled into the firm flesh of Bokuto’s ass, Kuroo lets out a moan so broken that Bokuto looks back at him and whistles. “That good huh?”

“Shut up,” Kuroo grits out between clenched teeth, letting his head fall forward onto Bokuto’s broad back. He presses his thumbs into the dimples on either side of Bokuto’s sacrum, dappled in sweat. “O-okay, you ready?”

“Fuck me, Kuroo Tetsurou.”

Incensed, Kuroo sinks his teeth into Bokuto’s shoulder blade as he begins to circle his hips experimentally, a slow excruciating grind. He can feel Bokuto watching him, lids lowered and panting softly. He slides out halfway and sinks back in, subtly adjusting his angle with each thrust, watching the unfiltered pleasure flicker through Bokuto’s expression. Kuroo takes his time, partially because he doesn’t want to come too soon and partially because he’s trying to find the spot that makes Bokuto...there.

Kuroo snaps his hips forward and Bokuto wails, head thrown back, and both fists clenched tightly into the sheets. “A-ahh! Right there!” 

“Mmmm,” Kuroo licks his own lips and thrusts shallowly, making sure to brush past the spot each time that wrenches a whole range of delicious noises from Bokuto’s parted lips. He can feel the molten pleasure pooling in his own core. His pulse is alight, skin buzzing, fingertips feverish where they grasp tightly into flesh, knuckles gone white.  Suddenly the heat isn’t enough, it’s not enough.

Anchoring one foot onto the mattress, Kuroo presses his palms into Bokuto’s lower back and picks up the pace, sliding out almost completely before slamming back in. Bokuto’s back arches gorgeously as Kuroo fucks him face down into the bed, the mattress doing very little to muffle the obscenities stuttering out of him in throaty cries. Kuroo’s hips drive in rhythmically, the relentless slap of skin on skin mixing with the rising sound of their drawn out moans.  

God it’s been so long, and Kuroo can’t, he can’t remember when he last felt so riled and wrought, so heated through and exultant and alive . Bokuto is reaching between his own legs to stroke himself, half hard again and Kuroo can’t.

“Kouuuu,” he hears himself moan, voice pitching, “Kou you feel so good, I can’t I…”

“I gotchu, Tets,” Bokuto’s words half lost as he bites into a hapless pillow, gone. “I gotchu I gotchu.”

Kuroo’s hips are stuttering, his hands losing purchase on sweat soaked skin.

“K-kou, I want...I wanna see you.”

“Okay okay okay.”

Kuroo pulls out, scrabbling at Bokuto’s hips to flip over. Bokuto heaves onto his back and their eyes meet, amber to gold, a conflagration. Bokuto is flushed, face red where it’s been pushed into the sheets, muscles shaking. Wrecked. Kuroo feels the bottom start drop out from under him.

Frenzied, he thrusts back into Bokuto gracelessly with a ragged gasp. “I..Kou, I,” He wraps one hand around Bokuto’s dick and brings the other to cup the back of his head, bringing their foreheads close.

“I’m gonna..”

“I gotchu.”

“F-Fuck...ah..Kou!”

Kuroo thrusts deep and comes hard, staticky white overtaking and overwhelming his senses. He ruts blindly through his shuddering climax, eyes squeezed shut. A second later, he feels the hot dribble of Bokuto’s own orgasm on his fingers, muscles clenching and twitching around him. Bokuto’s face is contorted in a soundless moan, elbows braced behind him. He’s gasping Kuroo’s name in that way Kuroo’s never been able to get over. Enthralled and ecstatic and utterly fucked apart. 

Still breathing heavily, Kuroo leans over the last few inches and meshes their lips together, kissing Bokuto with as much tenderness as his shaking body can muster. Bokuto nuzzles back contentedly, making small dopy noises. They continue to kiss sloppily, loopy and buzzed, savoring the slow comedown together. The air is a humid blanket and the sheets are damp and darkened, halfway off the bed. So it goes. 

With a groan, Kuroo reluctantly pulls out and drops the tied-off condom over the side of his bed, hoping the trash bin is still where he thinks it is. He makes a half-assed attempt to mop Bokuto’s torso off with the sheet but figures (hopes) they’re probably not done so it’s all fine. The night is young.

He rolls over to find Bokuto still lying flat on his back, hands behind his head, regarding him with a soft bleary gaze.

“Hey,” Kuroo sidles up next to him and throws a leg over his waist, ignoring the sticky residue there.

“Hey yourself,” Bokuto grins and shifts closer.

“Hey you gonna fuck me or what?”

Bokuto groans and breaks out into a giggly laugh. “Oh god, Tets. I’m actually gonna die.”

“You promised, Kou,” Kuroo pins him tighter beneath his leg as Bokuto tries to wiggle away and humps him playfully. “C’mon, you’re a god remember?”

“Ok,” Bokuto takes a deep breath, “Ok. Ok. Gimme like fifteen minutes. Twenty tops.”

Kuroo barks a hyena laugh. Bokuto Koutarou: the one and only and ever.

Propping himself up so he can gaze into those golden eyes, Kuroo cups Bokuto’s cheek in his hand and bestows a soft constellation of kisses across his face: forehead, eyebrow, nose, the quirked corner of his smiling mouth. Kuroo pauses with his lips hovering millimeters above Bokuto’s, grinning.

“Sure, we got time. I got nowhere to be.”

 

---



The sky is lightening in swaths of lavender and gold by the time they’re both blissed out and truly sated, bonelessly curled together on top of the sheets. It’s quiet in the pre-drawn haze, a dreamy lull outside of linear time. Neither of them are quite asleep yet, dozing in that fuzzy and exhausted in-between. The sheets are actually on the floor now and Kuroo is pretty sure his headboard is cracked.

Attempting to sit up slightly, Kuroo makes a futile attempt to shake the unruly hair out of his eyes. It’s hopeless on a good day, and post-coitally he has no chance. 

There’s suddenly a lot of things he wants to say, to ask, to know, and he blows a final puff of air upwards in exasperation, as if being able to see through both eyes clearly would somehow help him find the right words. He’s still cross-eyed when he feels warm fingertips comb across his forehead, and all at once Bokuto’s luminous gaze meets his own, sweet and soft and so much .

“Hey Kou,” Kuroo whispers. 

“Hey Tetsu,” Bokuto quirks his mouth in a lop-sided grin revealing the small  dimple in his left cheek. 

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, anything.”

Kuroo pauses to inhale long and steady through his teeth. He lets it out sharply, cutting off any overthinking before it starts. “Have you ever thought about...like..what we’re doing? What this is?” Can you please explain it to me? Because I don’t even know.

Bokuto puffs out a short laugh, letting his hand slide from where it’s been carding through Kuroo’s hair so that his palm rests softly against his cheek instead. “Has it finally come to this? Are we having the talk ?” His eyebrows do a little dance.

Kuroo huffs. “Yeah, I guess we are. I think we might be a little overdue.”

“Hmmm.” Bokuto tilts his head slightly and thumbs the tapered corner of Kuroo’s eye, “Is this something that’s been bothering you?”

“No, I mean, not really. I hadn’t thought about it until I knew we were meeting up.” Kuroo allows his elbows to slide out from under him and melts onto the mattress. Bokuto’s hand never leaves his face. “I cherish what we have a lot. Whatever this is. I just wouldn’t know how to describe it to anyone else, you know?”

“You mean you don’t go around telling people we’re ~lovers~, Tets?”

“Oh my god, Kou, you know I hate that word.”

“What’s wrong, lover?”

“Bo, I’m going to punch you,” Kuroo reaches out and covers Bokuto’s giggling face with his palm.

Bokuto only presses a small kiss into his open hand, and hums softly, the subtle vibration thrumming out through Kuroo’s fingertips.

“I think about you a lot,” Bokuto says quietly against his skin.

Kuroo’s heart clenches at the simplicity of the statement, perfectly earnest, perfectly Bokuto. He lets his hand fall back to the mattress and something in his expression must give him away because Bokuto suddenly grins at him. “What’s that look for, Tetsu? I do a lot of thinking these days actually! Hinata’s been teaching me how to meditate, dude, it’s been so good for my moods! But anyway..” his grin softens, dimple reappearing. He clears his throat melodramatically and continues. 

“I do. I’ve thought about this. More than you’d probably expect!” Bokuto’s hand is firm on Kuroo’s cheek, gaze intent and expression suddenly very serious. “And first and foremost, you are...the best sex I’ve ever had in my life.”

Kuroo stares for the span of a heartbeat before Bokuto’s serious facade cracks into another fit of giggles. Kuroo’s own ugly laughter cleaves through the stillness of the room a moment later. Any gathered tension in his body fizzles out and he feels himself sinking  heavier and heavier into the bed with each gasp. “Wow, dude. Just wow.”

“Sorry sorry! I had to!” Bokuto flops onto his back and cradles the back of his head with his hands, eyes crinkled with amusement. He turns his head to face Kuroo again, “But, I’m actually serious though. Our chemistry has always been good. Like too good.”

The way Bokuto pins him with that golden gaze then, mirthful twinkle sharpening into something heated and laden, causes Kuroo’s toes to curl and his pulse to quicken. He feels the tendril of warmth lick up his spine, and if they hadn’t gone for four hours already… 

Well, this is exactly what Bokuto is talking about and Kuroo knows he’s not exaggerating. The simmering tension between them, that ember ready to flare white hot with just a breath, it’s always been there. It always feels like the first time, the last time, the only time. For Kuroo, being with Bokuto skin to skin, bared and wanting, it has never stopped feeling like an immolation, a cataclysm. A renewal. He hasn’t ever experienced anything else quite like it.

“Yeah, Kou, I know. I know,” he breathes, laughs, scrubbing a hand over his face. “I’m getting kinda hard again just talking about it.”

“Right?!” Bokuto cackles. “Hey if you wanna go some more...I’m down…”

“Ha! No, it’s fine, Kou. I think I’d rather keep talking...for now,” Kuroo rakes his hands absentmindedly through his bangs again. “So, besides being the best lay of your life…”

“Besides that…” Bokuto twiddles his fingers towards the ceiling in thought. “You’re my Tets! My person. My...my dude! You’re the only one that fits that space because it’s you-shaped. Exactly Kuroo Tetsurou shaped. And it’s a non-negotiable part of my life. You’ll always belong there. ” A beat, and then simply, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Kou,” Kuroo answers reflexively. He startles himself with how easily the words roll from his lips, how incredibly simple and profoundly honest it is.  It’s always been that easy with them. And Kuroo has always known this was love  - it’s what they should do with that love that leaves him grasping at thin air. “But what does that mean? Where do we go from here?”

Bokuto’s brow furrows. Kuroo winces internally because of course. Bokuto lives for the present, forms it around him like every moment is his mantle to bear. Kuroo has always known this, and it’s ridiculous to expect the other man to suddenly be laying out his five and ten year plans around “where they should go from here.” And admittedly it’s not like Kuroo himself has ever taken the time to really think about this either. 

“I’m not trying to like...marry you or anything,” Kuroo adds quickly. Because he most definitely isn’t. To anyone. Not anytime soon.

Bokuto puffs a soft laugh. “I know. That doesn’t feel quite right for us right now, yanno? But who knows what might happen in the future right? We’d be smokin’ hot husbands. Hey! Who’s last name should we use? Bokuto Tetsurou sounds pretty damn nice. Kuroo Koutarou sounds kinda dumb, no offense. Maybe we just mash the kanji together, what does that make…”

Seeing Bokuto ramble sleepily about their hypothetical matrimony, Kuroo feels unexpectedly relieved. Somehow knowing that they don’t necessarily have to go down any particular path together opens up an endless realm of possibilities. They didn’t have to be this or that. They could be whatever the hell they wanted, and so much more. Anything. Everything! They could even make up their own last name if they wanted to. Kuroo feels the sudden lightness suffuse his chest with a bubbling joy, and he laughs, delighted. 

It’s just always been that simple, hasn’t it? 

After all, Bokuto’s still smiling at him with those stupidly fond eyes.

“I would follow you to the ends of the universe, Tetsurou. You only have to ask.”

And Kuroo thinks perhaps he will ask, someday. 

But for now, they have their own galaxies to conquer, their own blazing comets to chase across the night sky. Kuroo gazes at Bokuto dozing next to him, quiescent in the wan morning light. He thinks about how he’s always regarded Bokuto as a blazing sun high above, and himself as something more grounded and terrestrial, merely captivated by light. 

Bokuto cracks one eye open, a sliver of gold thrown against the dawn, and Kuroo feels fire in his heart. 

Turns out we both might be stars, he thinks, burning, letting his eyes start to drift close. He imagines them nestled in their respective solar systems, winking at each other across the voids of space. Maybe they’re lightyears apart, maybe even further, but they never ever lose sight of the other. 

Nice planets dude, Bokuto would boom from his corner of the galaxy.

Kuroo huffs softly through his smile, surrendering to the liminal pull of sleep.

The last thing he whispers before he drifts off, gently against the crook of Bokuto’s shoulder:

“I gotchu too bro.”