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Eita knew there was not a single person in his life who would feel sympathy for him right now.

Even Wakatoshi had grimaced when Eita had announced his new situation-ship to the group. Reon and Satori had somehow managed to make judgemental eye contact despite Satori being in France. That was rude for multiple reasons; mostly because Eita and Reon were usually the two making judgemental eye contact from anywhere in the world. It had felt like betrayal of the highest order, even moreso when Satori’s expression twisted even further while Eita explained it was actually the perfect set up: casual, no-strings-attached sex that happened whenever either one of them was free.

“You’re going to get attached,” Reon said, and Eita scowled at him.

“I am not,” he said, and somewhere in the world, the finger on the monkey’s paw curled inward.

Because he had. He had, in fact, gotten devastatingly attached.

The situation was this: between work and his band and then work again, Eita had kind of lost time to date. Then he’d met Daishou Suguru in some high-concept artsy industrial bar with a non-functioning jukebox that served no purpose but signalling the kitschy-vintage aesthetic the bar was projecting. Daishou was fresh off a breakup with his long term, on-and-off-again girlfriend. He was tall. He had a nice laugh and dancing eyes and a smile that showed all of his teeth. So it had been easy and convenient for both of them to fall into bed together. Daishou was on the rebound, and Eita was too busy for a real relationship.

Of course, that hadn’t stopped him from going and catching feelings, after he’d expressly forbade himself from catching feelings.

It had just been too steep a slope Eita realized, but only in hindsight. Daishou reminded him of the good times he’d had playing volleyball, and the free tickets to home games so they could hook up in the locker room when the team had thinned out hadn’t hurt either. Daishou genuinely seemed interested in Eita’s music and thoughts on music, and he even listened to Eita bitch about the niche bureaucracy of his day job in government.

Eita had known, too, that Daishou wasn’t quite over his ex. He’d reminded himself of this frequently, but the sex must have been really good, or maybe Eita was just lonely, because he’d felt himself falling further and further each day. And then Daishou had ended it. To get back with his ex. Like Eita always knew that he would.

So, instead of dealing with it like a normal person— your toxic trait is not ‘being a scorpio’, Reon had said adamantly, once, it’s that any time you’re minorly inconvenienced you self-destruct to make sure it’s a much bigger deal than it actually is— Eita had cashed in all his leave days and hopped on the first train back to Sendai to lick his wounds.

Reon had found out first, since most of Eita’s friends from Shiratorizawa had ended up outside of Sendai, which meant Reon was by default the first person Eita’s mother thought of complaining to when she got tired of him moping on the couch and carefully cultivating a breakup playlist of the most scathing songs he could find. Then, one by one, the others had come slinking back. Shirabu was conveniently home for a break from medical school, then Goshiki reached out to say he had some downtime now that the Green Rockets’ season was beginning to slow down. Even Wakatoshi messaged to say he was planning a trip home.

Ultimately, this culminated in a mini-reunion at a local bar. Eita had tried to bow out, but Reon had shown up at his door, picked a random t-shirt and a pair of jeans out of Eita’s luggage and then had patiently waited for a good hour and a half while Eita put on something actually fashionable that didn’t look like it had come from Reon’s fashion lexicon, considering Reon’s aesthetic could best be described as Utility DILF, which had its own charm, just not on Eita.

Goshiki had been enthusiastically welcoming, while Shirabu and Wakatoshi made no secret of the fact that Reon had strong-armed the pair of them into being here. Shirabu’s resting-judgemental face was active-judgemental, so Eita was well aware that the man who claimed to be his close friend had, in fact, blabbed about Eita’s pseudo-breakup. Traitor.

“So much for casual,” Shirabu said, and Eita glared at him. Goshiki grabbing his hand and asking when he could come and see his band play was the only thing that stopped Eita from dumping his drink all over Shirabu’s stupid haircut and preppy yacht-core slacks. Seeming to intuit that their former kouhai had Eita’s fluctuating emotional state under control, Wakatoshi turned to Reon and began asking him about Rie-chan’s health, since Wakatoshi had been very fond of Rie-chan ever since he first met her when she was six weeks old, and she had grabbed one of his big, blocky fingers with her tiny little fist and refused to let go.

From there, it was a cycle of Goshiki keeping Eita near religiously double-parked by conveniently forgetting he hadn’t finished his previous beer before ordering him another one and Reon abusing the patron-driven playlist by posting up at the iPad screen used to control it and spam-queueing songs that had been popular favourites on long, Shiratorizawa bus rides. At some point in the night, Shirabu had finally convinced Eita to show him pictures of Daishou, and the ruthless way he’d picked apart every image on his Instagram let Eita know that Shirabu did feel fondly toward him after all.

Shirabu had not appreciated Eita giving him a sniffling hug, but he’d tolerated it all the same.

Wakatoshi had been out of commission after about two drinks— which was unsurprising considering he’d been a notorious lightweight ever since their highschool days— and Reon began to check his phone more and more frequently as the night progressed. Eita couldn’t blame him; parenting was a full time job, and Reon was likely anxious to get back to his daughter and his wife.

“It really does feel like we’re getting old,” Reon laughed, Wakatoshi slung between him and Goshiki as they waited for Goshiki’s partner, Koganegawa to come and collect them. Shirabu yawned, hunching his shoulders up to his ears against the chill. At some time during the night, it had started to snow. Reon reached out, all the way around Goshiki and fussed with Shirabu’s beanie until the tips of his ears were covered. Shirabu bore it with all the grace of a cat being forced to take a bath it really did not want to take.

“Shirabu-san, please stop fighting with Oohira-san,” Goshiki whined, grabbing both of Shirabu’s wrists in one large hand as he tried to bat at a laughing Reon with Goshiki being directly caught in the crossfire, Wakatoshi barely hanging on to consciousness and much more interested in trying to take a nap on Reon’s shoulder while standing up.

“Are you crying?” Wakatoshi asked, squinting suspiciously at Eita. Eita wiped his face and sniffled heavily.

“Tsutomu-chan is just all grown up… look how big his hands are.”

“Semi-san!” Goshiki protested, his whole face flushing beet red. Shirabu let out an undignified snort and a sharp bark of laughter, wrenching his hands away. Reon chuckled in that patient, good-natured way of his that made Eita feel even more emotional. He did have some really good friends looking out for him. 

“Are you going to be okay getting home?” Reon asked as Koganegawa’s little yellow car swung around the corner. Eita wiped his eyes and nodded.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m not that drunk.” Reon gave him a flat look that said unequivocally that he did not believe him. Eita jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “We walked here. You know my house isn’t that far away. I’m not drunk enough that I can’t make it that far.”

“Alright,” Reon said, although he still sounded hesitant. He and Goshiki started to help load Wakatoshi into the backseat of Koganegawa’s car, while Shirabu took advantage of their distraction to claim the passenger seat. “Text me when you get home, okay? I’ll call your mum otherwise.”

“Roger that,” Eita said, and gave Reon a little salute. Reon shook his head and ducked into the back seat, while Goshiki pulled open the driver’s side door to give Koganegawa a kiss before he climbed into the back, waving to Eita as the car pulled away and disappeared down the street.

Eita shivered a little, pushing his hands into his pockets and tucking his chin into the collar of his coat, turning to begin the trek home. With the snowfall and the alcohol in his system, he was a little more unsteady than he and Reon had been getting to the bar in the first place, but it certainly wasn’t enough to hinder his progress. He felt a little miffed that Reon hadn’t believed him when he said it’d be fine, but the anger quickly subsided.

With the snow, there were very few cars on the road. Every now and again, Eita would pass a restaurant with the lights on, but for the most part, it was just him and the street lamps, making his way through town. The night was quiet, and with the snow falling around him, it was kind of beautiful. Eita found himself humming, a tune he hoped he remembered in the morning. Something that sounded like the calm of winter-time, the way it made him feel cocooned in his own little world.

Unwilling to forget, he dug his phone out of his pocket to record himself, humming along until the melody fizzled out, at which point he let the recording stop, before he started humming it again, because it was peaceful. His phone lit up in the night, illuminating his hand in a blue glow. He paused on the footpath, cradling his phone with both hands so that he could unlock it and read Reon’s message.

11:31pm
Reon: You are NOT going to believe this!!!! Shirabu just got dropped off at the home of… drumroll please… Karasuno #6!
Reon: Shirabu KISSED HIM!
Reon: Also Wakatoshi keeps trying to call Satori because he doesn’t want to go to bed without telling him he loves him and Goshiki offered to help so now he’s being forced to look at Satori’s thirst traps. He’s sooooo red
Reon: Taking photos. Will send to you in the morning. Wouldn’t want you to miss this.

Eita chuckled, fondness welling in his chest again. He really loved these guys. All the Shiratorizawa boys had been good friends to him, and had stayed good friends to him, even as the years had passed. Wakatoshi passed on his Adler’s merch prototypes to all of them— Hayato was very fond of his collection of early concept Ushijima Wakatoshi figurines— and Reon and his wife Kyouka hired babysitters so they could come to Eita’s gigs, even though they were cities away.

So, maybe he was lonely. And maybe this thing with Daishou had been a bad decision after all, like his friends had said it would be, but Eita couldn’t begrudge Daishou a shot at true love. Eita would find his own one day, too. If even Shirabu could land some kind of a relationship with someone who had seemed as nice as the Karasuno guys, there was hope for all of them yet.

Then, Eita glanced up, and all of his good-will vanished.

Standing in front of him was Daishou Suguru.

How he was in Sendai, Eita wasn’t sure. What business he had here, Eita also wasn’t sure. What he was sure about was the jacket. It was the same jacket he’d been wearing when they’d first met in April, almost ten months ago now. The jacket was a deep, forest green. It was down-padded and went down to his shin, and it was the coziest thing Eita had ever touched in his life. If he’d had any foresight at all, he would have stolen the damn thing out of sheer spite.

Later, there were a whole host of things that Eita would blame. The alcohol, the way winter fucks up your emotions, the violent rejection of the capitalist Christmas spirit, being a Scorpio. In that moment, rage hit him. Pure, unbridled fury at the fact that Daishou Suguru got to walk around, living the best damn version of his life, while Eita sulked about his hometown and mourned what could have been.

Was it his fault for getting attached? Yes! Absolutely! Did he feel hurt by it regardless? Also yes, absolutely! Fuck having to be the bigger person about all of this, Eita had feelings too and they were valid, and if Daishou was never going to love someone else he should have kept his dick in his pants and his fond little smiles to himself!

Really, Eita didn’t even realize he’d pounced until his hands were on Daishou’s jacket, yanking at it harshly and jerking him back around to face him so that he could shove him, eyes scrunched closed so he didn’t have to look at his stupid face.

“How dare you?!” His voice was inches off being best described as a yowl. “How can you show your face here after what you did?!”

“What the fuck—” Daishou said, only he didn’t really sound like Daishou, but that didn’t really matter to Eita right now, because the floodgates had opened and there was no going back now. He shoved at Daishou’s chest, wailing on him with closed fists.

“You’re an asshole!” He all-but-wailed. “How dare you come to my hometown after dumping me for a girl who dumped you six times! You came to all my gigs! You bought me tickets to your games! We held hands in public! I wore your team jersey! How was I supposed to not think we had something you great big jerk?!”

“I don’t even know you—” 

“Oh, so now you don’t even want to know me,” Eita was aware, distantly, that this was not at all what Daishou said, but he didn’t care. The high of vindication felt too good right now. “Well you certainly wanted to know me when I was sucking your dick in sympathy after Sendai Frogs beat you in the season final!”

He grounded his weight, fisting his hands in the jacket and wrenching sideways with all of his strength. Eita might have been out of volleyball for a while, unlike Daishou, but between sprinting up and down flights of steps at work when the elevators crapped out or were too full, and hauling sound equipment around since his band was too low-budget to hire roadies, and even gymming when he got time— admittedly more frequently now that he had somebody to tone his ass for— Eita still had some muscle on him.

Daishou barely even swayed, which was weird, because Daishou wasn’t a particularly big guy, and Eita has definitely pushed him around for sexier reasons with much more success.

“Fuck this,” Daishou said, and he really didn’t sound like Daishou, so Eita opened his eyes. Staring back at him was a familiar face, but he was right. It wasn’t Daishou, and right now he couldn’t place exactly where he’d seen this guy before, which wasn’t exactly that important because now Not-Daishou was grabbing him by the front of his coat, jerking him so violently that Eita stumbled. “If you want a fight, you’re going to fucking get one.”

Then, he body-slammed him like he meant it.

Eita went down with a squalling noise, thrashing wildly as the snow seeped through his jacket and into the layers beneath. On top of him, Not-Daishou rocked back a fist, fully prepared to knock Eita’s lights out, it seemed. Eita hit him in the stomach first, a closed-fisted wallop that knocked the air out of Not-Daishou’s lungs, before he snarled and started pulling at Eita’s wrists, trying to keep them away from his face while Eita tried to gouge his eyes out like a particularly belligerent kitten.

He leaned forward, tipping Eita’s weight against him, forcing him back into the snow with his hands pinned above his head. Eita spat at him on reflex and caught him right in the eye, and when he reared back, Eita wrenched a leg out from under the straddle of his thighs and booted him hard in the chest, sending him over backward. By now, the logical part of his brain was telling him to use this opportunity to escape, to flee and forget about the mortifying ordeal of attacking a stranger with his breakup drama, but the part of his brain wounded by 96-hours of soul-crushing heartache was telling him to finish what he damn well started.

He launched at Not-Daishou, slamming into his chest with intent to wrestle him back into the dirt, trying to wrench his beanie off so that he could get a solid grip on his hair. Eita was a private school boy once upon a time; he wasn’t above biting or hair-pulling, especially because he had seen some walloping catfights between girls in his day, and he was well aware of the damage that nails and teeth could do. Not-Daishou’s hair was unruly with the static of a hat being torn off suddenly, an autumnal brown that matched his eyes. His eyes, which looked like he was contemplating murdering Eita right here in the street.

He was so busy admiring Not-Daishou’s eyes that he was caught off guard when Not-Daishou engaged some seriously impressive abdominal muscles and rocked his torso up off the ground to get his arms around Eita, trapping Eita’s elbows against his side as he rolled them and deposited Eita face-first into the snow, the weight of his body trapping him there.

Eita thrashed as violently as he could, swearing black and blue until all of the breath in his lungs was gone. Then, to his horror, he started to cry.

The stranger got off of him then, flopping down onto his back in the snow. Eita rolled over and sat up a little, sniffling as he wiped the snow from his face and smeared tears and snot all over the back of his gloves. Not-Daishou was watching him the whole time, his chest rising and falling in exertion. There was sweat sticking the fine hairs just above his ears to his temple, and his beanie was clutched in one hand, but hadn’t made its way back onto his head. Eita, knowing that there were several reasons that this man was probably watching him but feeling just pathetic enough to play stupid, sniffed as if he could suck all his emotions back in through his nose, and glared.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Not-Daishou said. “I’m just shocked at your language. I thought private schools taught you to say things like good heavens and gee darn it instead of actually cussing.”

“Who told you I went to a private school?” Eita snapped, wiping at his face again. Not-Daishou’s face was flat and inexpressive as one eyebrow slowly lifted toward his hairline.

It was then that Eita recognized him.

“Oh no,” Eita moaned, and put his head in his hands, drawing his knees up toward his face so he could hide behind them. “Oh no. Oh no, no no no.”

“Oh yes,” Futakuchi Kenji said, because that was where Eita knew him from. Because he had just attacked Futakuchi Kenji, who hadn’t starred in a single thought of Eita’s since watching Dateko competition footage in highschool. Because the universe hated him and decided he hadn’t suffered enough, even though the rational part of his brain told him that he did this to himself. Reon was right, he was self-destructive.

“Gotta say,” Futakuchi said, apparently entirely oblivious to the way Eita was about to fucking die of embarrassment. “You’re shockingly scrappy for a Shiratorizawa boy. I don’t think one of them’s ever gone toe to toe with me when I take them to the ground like that. Most of the time they just start crying.”

“There’s no way you fight that many Shiratorizawa graduates,” Eita snipped, still not looking at him.

“No, you’re the first. I was just posturing so you wouldn’t attack me again. I’m fucking exhausted.” Eita did chance a look then, in time to see Futakuchi sit up. The back of his hair was dark with the dampness of snow turning back into water. The back of his jacket was splotchy with moisture, and now that Eita’s back was to the wind, he could feel the way the chill seeped through his clothes.

“Oh no,” he moaned, dropping his forehead to his knees. “I’m gonna get so sick. I’m so drunk. This is going to be the most miserable hangover of my life.”

“Jeez,” Futakuchi said. “You’re really going through something, aren’t you?”

“Can you not make fun of me? All of my friends already have.”

“I mean… you were kind of incoherent, but if I’m understanding correctly you got dumped by a guy who’s gone back to the same person six times?” Eita groaned, and flopped back into the snow. Maybe if he embraced pneumonia in his future, it would come faster, and then he would die. That would be simpler than this.

“We weren’t even dating. It was supposed to be casual because I always knew he’d go back. But I liked him. I liked him a lot.”

“I get it,” Futakuchi said, and Eita glared at him, because he absolutely didn’t. Futakuchi wasn’t looking at him, though. He had his arms hooked around his knees, idly rubbing the skin of his wrist where his jacket rode up enough to expose a thin sliver between cuff and glove. “Even if you knew it wasn’t going to work, it still hurts, right?”

“Damn,” Eita mumbled. “Who broke your heart?”

“Breaking my heart is a little extreme,” Futakuchi snorted, but it didn’t sound mean. Eita remembered him being mean— or, at least, meaner than this. Oikawa laughed when Wakatoshi said things now though, and not in a derisive way, in a way like he thought Wakatoshi was funny even when he wasn’t trying to be, so maybe age has made them all a little toothless.

“Come on,” Futakuchi said eventually. Eita looked up at him as he stood, holding out both hands. “My apartment’s just around the block. Not that you deserve it, but we should get you a change of clothes so you’re only hangover-sick in the morning and not flu-sick. Just know, if you throw up on my floor I’ll make you clean it up yourself, hangover or not.”

“I was just thinking I remember you being meaner,” Eita muttered, suddenly exhausted. He let Futakuchi drag him to his feet. His knees felt like jelly under him, so he leaned into Futakuchi’s side, scrunching up his nose as he wrapped his hands around his bicep to keep steady. “Don’t say anything. You don’t know how much alcohol I’ve been fed tonight. You’d be wiped out. On the floor.”

“Okay,” Futakuchi said, and Eita thought that his laugh was actually pretty nice, soft and huffy like it came out against his will. “I’ll be quiet, just this once. Consider it my condolences for having to put up with Shirabu.”

“He’s not that bad,” Eita protested, thinking about Shirabu earlier tonight. Futakuchi laughed again then, a deeper, clearer sound, high and lilting. Eita smiled, and couldn’t help but giggle along. He wasn’t sure why they were laughing but still, it felt nice. It felt good to laugh again, felt good to know that even though things were hurting right now, they were going to be alright.

 

*

 

The feeling of sun against Eita’s eyelids was what finally dragged him out of sleep.

The sheets were sun-warm on his bare back, and despite the fact that he was clearly naked save for a pair of boxers too stretched out in the thighs to be his own, he was cozy. The feeling didn’t last long. Soon came the pounding headache and the realization that something must have died in his mouth overnight. Eita squeezed his eyes shut, and fought back the roiling nausea for long enough to get it under control so that he could slowly roll onto his back, splaying his arms out in the bed and scrunching his face up against the sunlight.

And then he remembered where he was.

His eyes snapped open a little too fast. He was disoriented as his eyes roamed the room, before landing on a shape settled into an armchair next to the bed.

“Sleeping beauty awakens,” Futakuchi said. The light turned his hair a more golden shade, and lit up his eyes in a way that felt more threatening than it did warm. The chair he was in was an impressive, expensive looking green leather, mid-century in a way that made it look like a Pixar illustrator designed it as the hallmark chair for a supervillain. Futakuchi was eating his breakfast with mismatched chopsticks out of a chipped bowl with Sailor Moon characters on it. In his lap, head cradled in the crook of Futakuchi’s elbow, was a very small, long-haired blonde chihuahua who looked more blissful than Eita has ever felt.

Right now, he felt like throwing up.

“Your food smells too much like food,” Eita grumbled, torn between being the hungriest he’d ever been and feeling like if he ever had an olfactory sense ever again it would be too soon.

“And that is why you have the breakfast of champions,” Futakuchi said. He leaned down, sparking a disgruntled noise from the dog in his lap, before he reappeared with a McDonalds bag and placed it on the bed.

Eita thought he might be in love.

“Grease,” he said pitifully, forcing himself to sit up. As the nightstand came into focus, he saw that Futakuchi had put down a glass of water and painkillers. Eita tore his food open and took a slow, cautious bite. Futakuchi watched him with a mild sense of amusement. Eita narrowed his eyes at him, licking the oil from the corner of his mouth, only to replace it with the next bite. “You don’t really seem like the type of person to make a guy breakfast.”

“That cuts. You don’t know me.”

“Uh, yeah I do,” Eita snorted. “You were a dick in highschool. And don’t think Shirabu didn’t continue to complain to us about everyone else around him after we’d graduated.”

“Please,” Futakuchi snorted. “You know Shirabu and I are in a group chat together, right? Shirabu would rather bite his own hand off than tell anyone anything about his personal life.”

“Fine,” Eita conceded, because this was true. “It was mostly Kawanishi telling us that Shirabu was entering a new era of tyranny. Also: you’re in a group chat together?”

“Yeah. See, I contain multitudes.” Eita’s eyes drifted down to the dog, who was now gazing up at Futakuchi with huge, smitten eyes. Futakuchi’s thumb was gently scratching behind its ear. Eita raised a brow.

“What?” Futakuchi laughed. His grin was still sharp, like a knife. Eita was pretty sure he had never learned how to smile without making you fear for your life. He must not have been totally completely sober because there was a teensy weensy part of him that thought it was kind of hot. “Am I not the type to own a dog like this either?”

“Definitely not,” Eita said. “Cute, though.”

“You think so? I tried really hard with my hair this morning. I did an extra rotation when I rolled out of bed.”

“I meant the dog,” Eita said, even though Futakuchi absolutely knew that.

“Yeah, she’s pretty cute,” Futakuchi agreed, and his eyes softened, just a little, as did his smile. He tucked his thumb under her chin, the dog closing her eyes in contentment as Futakuchi made little kissy noises at her. “She was a stray out the back of my work. I fed her every day until she stopped trying to rip me to shreds when I picked her up. I was supposed to take her to a shelter or something but… well. She’s my girl now.”

“I bet your parents love that.”

“Oh they’re thrilled,” Futakuchi nodded. “Your parents on you to get married too?”

“My dad in particular is convinced that I’ll never find a wife because I decided to get a degree in communications instead of becoming a doctor or a lawyer. He doesn’t seem to think the whole gay thing might be stopping that from happening.”

Futakuchi snorted, and Eita couldn’t help but chuckle as well, wincing a little at the way it made his head pound. With his stomach feeling much less in danger of staging a full-scale revolt, he swallowed down the painkillers and drank the rest of the water for good measure.

“Am I wearing your boxers, by the way?” Eita looked under the blankets. Sure enough, the too-big boxers weren’t a recognizable pair, and they were certainly not the ones Eita was wearing last night. Futakuchi finally looked a little caught off guard, and if Eita weren’t still partially dying of a hangover, he could almost swear that Futakuchi blushed.

“Ah,” Futakuchi said. “Well— yeah. The snow went right through the ones you were wearing and you were really insistent about getting them o—”

“Oh no,” Eita said, as it started to trickle back into his mind.

He’d been holding up okay, he remembered, since Shiratorizawa had taught him at least one thing, and that one thing was hiding how drunk you were from the staff patrolling the dorms. Then the combination of the adrenaline and the misery had knocked him well out of it. But, as it creeped up on him with dawning horror, Eita could distinctly remember the feeling of stripping his snow-soaked clothes off in Futakuchi’s living room, while Futakuchi lunged across the room with more alacrity than any man in half-frozen skinny jeans had any right to possess, trying to cover the eyes of—

“Kenji,” a deep voice said, and Eita flopped back on the bed and put both hands over his face with a pathetic little whine. “Is Chichi coming to work with me today?”

“Nah,” Futakuchi said. “I’ll watch her. I might drop her off if I get called out to a job, though. Alright?”

“Alright,” Futakuchi’s flatmate said, the tall no-eyebrows guy from his highschool volleyball team. Eita thought his name was Ao-something, but it had been so long that he was struggling to recall. “It’s good to see you’re feeling better, Semi-san.”

“Better is relative,” Eita muttered, not uncovering his face. “Sorry for flashing you.”

“I didn’t really see anything,” Ao-something said mildly, and then disappeared from the room. It took Eita a while to realize Futakuchi was laughing at him. He rolled onto his front, pillowing his cheek on his arms so that he could glare at Futakuchi more reliably. He was still a little sleepy, and Chichi was still cradled in Futakuchi’s lap, which was really the only thing that stopped Eita from lobbing a pillow at him. And he was kind of cute when he laughed, considering his nose got all scrunchy and he had a dimple on his left cheek. And it really was kind of funny.

“I promise I’m not this much of a mess usually,” Eita said, when laughing made him feel a little too in danger of throwing up. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

“Eh, we all have our days. This isn’t as bad as the time my little sister had a breakdown bad enough to try and cut her own bangs.” Eita winced at the very thought of it. Futakuchi nodded, snorting another laugh, before he quickly moved his bowl out of Chichi’s way as she began to try nosing into it. “Besides, it was kind of hot when you were messy.”

“You’re fucked up,” Eita told him, and Futakuchi grinned wider. Eita felt his face stretch to try and answer the expression with his own.

“Look, it’s not every day you get jumped after Friday beers with your workmates, especially not by someone who can hold their own.” Futakuchi smiled, his expression getting a little wistful. “Besides, I always thought you were hot in highschool anyway. Blast from the past and all that.”

“Flatterer,” Eita muttered, horrified to find himself blushing. He had sworn off dick for at least six months after this fiasco. He couldn’t be reconsidering just because a guy he’d been vaguely aware of in highschool called him hot. “Your dimple is cute.”

“Thanks,” Futakuchi tapped his cheek with the back end of his chopstick, the one with Transformers characters on it, not the one with intricate cherry-blossom detailing. “You know there’s a rumour that if you have asymmetric dimples it’s ‘cause you consumed a twin in the womb.”

“That would check out for you,” Eita agreed, and Futakuchi shook his head.

“Wow. I feed you, I clothe you, I wash your clothes, and that’s what I get as thanks?” Eita rolled his eyes, burying his face into the crook of his elbow, before something dawned on him.

“Wait, where are my clothes? What time is it? Where’s my phone.”

“One, I washed them, they’re just finishing up in the dryer. It’s like ten thirty. Your phone’s on charge in the kitchen, it was blowing up earlier but—”

“Oh fuck I think Reon called my mum,” Eita scrambled to get up, gripping his stomach once as it rolled violently in response to his sudden movement, before he stumbled from Futakuchi’s bedroom and into the living room.

Last night, he hadn’t gotten a great look at it, but in the morning it was nice. Their appointment was small but apparently high enough to get good natural light. There were several plants lining the kitchen window above the sink, and more plants littered around the room. The furniture looked old but comfortable and there were volleyball uniforms drying on the teeny person-wide balcony accessible off the kitchen.

Eita fumbled his phone into his hands and groaned as the screen lit up with a flurry of notifications. Texts and missed calls from both Reon and his mother, and even a few texts from his little sister. Satori had sent him a single text asking if he was really okay, and even Goshiki and Shirabu had sent him a few messages to try and get hold of him, as if there was ever any universe ever where he wouldn’t want to talk to Reon, even when they were mad at each other.

I’M FINE he texted back, eyes narrowed against the screen which felt too-bright in the face of his spectacular hangover. Ran into a friend from highschool and stayed the night.

WHO TF ELSE DO YOU KNOW?!? Reon sent back, but Eita ignored him for now so that he could send his mother the most pitifully apologetic text he could and offer to cook dinner tonight, whatever she wanted, in apology. She didn’t reply instantly, which meant she was probably in a meeting, so Eita could busy himself trying to come up with a lie that wouldn’t make Reon want to strangle him for increasing his blood pressure.

“You okay?” Futakuchi said from beside him, and Eita looked up to find him cradling Chichi in one hand, setting his half-finished bowl of food down on the counter. Eita scooped it toward himself and plucked his chopsticks out of Futakuchi’s grip, even if it might wreak havoc on his stomach later.

“I’m fine,” Eita blew out a sigh. “Let’s just keep this between us, alright? My best friend’s worried enough without me having to tell him that I went home with a random guy I tried to beat the shit out of on the street.”

“Yeah, I’m fine with literally no one knowing that ever happened.” Futakuchi paused. “Well, except for Aone, but don’t worry. He can keep a secret. He’s kept all of mine so far.”

“That’s nice of him. Guy like you, I’m sure you have many.”

“Yup. I’m real secretive and mysterious.” Eita shook his head at Futakuchi, whose hip was cocked against the kitchen counter next to him. It made his shirt ride up a bit, affording Eita an eyeful of smooth skin over the strong cut of his waist. “How about I walk you home so your family knows you made it back okay, and if anyone asks, we just got talking about volleyball?”

“Entirely believable,” Eita said, lifting his hand with a pinky extended. “From this point on, we swear never to tell anyone else about what really happened tonight.”

Futakuchi reached out, wrapping his pinky around Eita’s and letting Eita wiggle their hands around until the pinky-swear pact was suitably sealed. And then he held on for a while afterward too, just because Futakuchi’s hand was warm, his fingers broad and strong, and it kind of felt nice to touch him.

A beeping from deeper in the apartment drew Futakuchi’s attention, and he pushed off the counter to disappear into another room that must have been the bathroom. When he returned, Chichi was trotting behind him, since he was carrying Eita’s newly-dry clothes.

“I didn’t put the jacket through the dryer because it didn’t look like the type to take well to that. It’s proper wool, right?”

“Yeah,” Eita agreed, feeling immense relief. His mother would kill him if he ruined a coat that expensive in such a stupid way.

“Thought so. It’s not dry the entire way through yet, but everything else is. I hope that’s okay.”

“I’m sure it’ll work. Besides, you already leant me your underwear. What’s a few other items of clothing.”

“Yeah, I want those back by the way. Not sure what you Shiratorizawa boys do with other people’s intimates, you know?”

“Oh, we do hexes. Lots and lots of hexes. I’ll have you cursed for the rest of your life.” Eita wiggled his fingers at him, and Futakuchi snorted, shaking his head as he set the neatly folded pile of clothes down on the countertop next to Eita.

“Ouch, curses? I don’t know if I deserve that. You’d leave Chichi with a cursed father?” Eita looked down at the little dog that was now sitting on top of Futakuchi’s foot, apparently completely trusting that she wouldn’t be dislodged from her perch. Futakuchi bent down and scooped her up, holding her right against his cheek to make his point even more poignant, Eita assumed.

“She’s got Aone-kun, she’ll be fine. He’s probably a more responsible parent than you, anyway.”

“Ouch,” Futakuchi said, scratching behind Chichi’s ears. “That cuts.”

Futakuchi let Eita finish the rest of his breakfast— which he apparently cooked himself, although since Eita knew Aone had been here in the morning, he wasn’t exactly sure he believed him— and then made him drink another glass of water before he let him use the shower and re-dress.

By the time Eita had finished toweling his hair into something as dry as he could get it without the existence of a hair-dryer in the flat, Futakuchi was fully dressed, sitting on the step of the genkan with Chichi perched comfortably on one broad thigh, boots unlaced and sitting next to him as he scrolled on his phone. A lump formed in Eita’s throat as his eyes landed on the jacket.

He wasn’t sure how long he was standing there, before Futakuchi turned and looked up at him.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Eita said. “The… guy I was with. He had a jacket just like that. It’s why I thought—”

“Oh,” Futakuchi said, looking down at himself, before he carefully placed his dog down on the floor and stood, shrugging out of it. “Come here.”

Eita moved across to him, finding that he had to look up at him slightly as they stood toe to toe above the genkan. Futakuchi took Eita’s wool coat from him, and handed him his padded coat instead. Eita blinked at it, running his thumbs over the smooth material.

“Here. Take the coat to keep you warm. You know, since yours isn’t dry yet.”

“And this is supposed to help… how?”

“Because I bet I’m cooler than him anyway, so by the time we get to yours you won’t even remember that he has a coat like this, because you’ll be thinking of it as my coat.”

“Awfully confident, aren’t you?”

“I have staying power in people’s minds,” Futakuchi said, and then sat again to lace his boots onto his feet. Eita barely resisted the urge to put a foot in the small of his back and kick him over, if only because Futakuchi seemed like the kind of guy to think that kind of behaviour was funny. And also a form of flirting. Which is maybe what Eita wanted it to be anyway, but that was besides the point.

The sun was up as they left Futakuchi’s apartment, Chichi trotting ahead of them on her leash and harness while Eita tucked his hands into his pockets and shuddered. Even with the sun shining overhead, it was still bitterly cold, and the reflection of the sun’s rays off the leftover snow from the night before wasn’t exactly doing great things for his headache. Still, the crispness of the fresh air made him feel like eighty percent less dead, and Futakuchi walked so close that Eita could feel the warmth of his shoulder against his own.

“So, who’s your bet for the season winners in Div-one this year?” Futakuchi asked. Eita raised a brow at him. “What? It’s just in case anyone asks. I gotta know what your opinions on volleyball are to sell the whole thing.”

“Adlers. Obviously.”

“Obviously,” Futakuchi rolled his eyes. “I don’t know, the Red Falcons are getting stronger with every game, and MSBY have been pretty dominant in some of the early season matches.”

“Yeah, but MSBY is always dominant the same way the Adlers are. It’ll be interesting to see how their team dynamics change now that this Yoffe guy has been added to the roster.” Futakuchi hummed his agreement.

“You go to many games?” Futakuchi asked.

“Mostly just the Adlers’ home games,” Eita admitted. “Wakatoshi can usually swing us all complimentary tickets, but other than that I just tape them and watch them at home. I’m usually pretty busy with work and stuff.”

“Ah, you’re down in Tokyo? What do you do for work there?”

“I work for the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” Eita said. “And I have a band, which is more of a hobby than a job, but it keeps me pretty busy. Too busy, I used to think, to date.”

“I get it,” Futakuchi said. “I’m an electrician, by the way. Between being on call, and volleyball games, and trying to do all the other stuff that makes me happy, it’s kind of hard to meet people. And I do not trust my parents to set me up with someone I’d actually like. I’ve seen their attempts with my sister and I’m not going to put myself through that.”

“Tell me about it,” Eita shuddered at the memory. “I let my mother set me up on a blind date with a guy once. Never again.”

“You know, it could be kind of a fun way to get over the whole heartbreak thing. It reminds you that some people out there are just… way worse.”

“I feel like I should be concerned about who hurt you. First the heartbreak, now the blind date horror stories—”

“My parents set me up with a dentist. She held my jaw open to inspect my teeth in a very public restaurant and then told me I should get braces and that she could recommend a great orthodontist.” Eita tried hard not to laugh. He really did. He was just not very successful.

“Oh,” Futakuchi said, also struggling to hold back his laughter. “You think that’s bad? I got my wisdom teeth out in highschool and I’ve been terrified of dentists ever since they stuck me with needles the size of my whole damn face to administer the local anesthetic. I locked myself in the bathroom and called Aone to come get me.”

“Oh no,” Eita put both hands over his mouth, staring at Futakuchi in horror. “Yeah, I think that trumps all of my bad date stories. You win.”

“Somehow I’m not as proud of this victory as I should be. Usually I love to win, you know?”

“Oh, I’m sure,” Eita chuckled, turning the corner onto his street. With the streets still mostly iced over, there were a couple of the neighbourhood kids playing a game that seemed like a mock-volleyball, bumping a giant, inflatable beach ball between them. The ball spun out of control, the kids all shrieking in delight as the ball floated toward Futakuchi and Eita on the sidewalk. Eita stepped up, crouching a little to get under the ball properly, and set it back toward them, before giving the group twin thumbs-up at their shouted thanks.

“You’ve still got it, huh,” Futakuchi said with a smile. “You should play volleyball again.”

“I don’t have time for that,” Eita laughed. “But… I do kind of miss it sometimes.”

“You don’t have to, you know,” Futakuchi said, voice shockingly gentle. “You should have time to work and do the things you love. And date someone who isn’t still into his ex-girlfriend.”

“Oh, sure.” Eita snorted. “Where am I supposed to find one of those?”

“I don’t know,” Futakuchi said, holding open Eita’s front gate for him. “I might know one in your neighbourhood currently. He’s tall, brown hair and brown eyes, really handsome, probably consumed a twin in the womb. He’s me, if you hadn’t guessed.”

“Yeah, I guessed.” Eita stopped on his front step. “We don’t even live in the same city.”

“I don’t care,” Futakuchi shrugged. “I like you. I think you’re pretty, and just a little mean in the way I like, and I want to give it a shot. I don’t care if it’s long distance. I can come down on weekends when I’m not on call. You obviously come back to Sendai sometimes. I'm not the kind of person to give up without even trying.”

“You're deranged. All you have to go on was me at an all time low,” Eita said, scratching his cheek in bewilderment. He felt hot with the flattery of it all, but he was still confused as to how someone could have witnessed all that and come out of it liking him for it.

“Yeah,” Futakuchi said, gently shifting a strand of hair behind Eita’s ear. “So I can just imagine what you'll be like at your best.”

“Deranged,” Eita told him again, but he was smiling now, pulling his phone from his pocket.

“That part’s true too,” Futakuchi agreed, tapping his number in. “I guess I'll see you round, then. Try not to get into any more fistfights, huh?”

“No promises,” Eita teased, smiling behind his phone as he backed toward his door. Futakuchi waved him off with another huffy laugh, turning to make his way back down the short path to the sidewalk.

Eita made a decision in an instant.

“Futakuchi, wait!” He turned as Eita took the steps as fast as he could, sliding a little the last metre or so to the gate. He braced a hand on the waist-high concrete wall and grabbed the front of Futakuchi’s jacket— a new one, not the green one Eita was still bundled in— to pull him in for a kiss.

Futakuchi threw Chichi’s leash to the ground and cupped Eita’s face with both hands, pulling him out through the half open gate. Eita smoothed his hands over Futakuchi’s chest, then down his strong sides and up over the broad expanse of his back. Futakuchi’s hand dropped to his ass to pull him close, the other hand still cradling Eita as he pressed up against him.

Futakuchi’s whole body practically radiated heat, and the wet inside of his mouth was no different as Eita slipped his tongue inside, making noises that were absolutely not appropriate for their make out location of choice. Futakuchi’s hand slipped back and curled into his hair, blunt nails scraping over Eita’s scalp as they kissed and kissed and kissed.

Eita pulled back, fisting both hands in Futakuchi’s jacket and pushing him out to arms length. Futakuchi blinked back at him, looking a little dazed and a little dopey with glee.

“That was all,” Eita said.

“Cool,” Futakuchi said. “Bye.”

“Yeah,” Eita took a step back, wiping his mouth and touching his tender lips that must have been as red and kiss-swollen as Futakuchi’s looked. “I’ll see you.”

“Call me,” Futakuchi said, crouching to collect his dog who was looking between the two of them with a palpable sense of judgement.

Eita waited until he was in his house to laugh, muffling the sound in the palm of his hand as he tapped out a text to Futakuchi. To hell with seeming desperate, it had been a great kiss. In the hallway mirror, just up from the genkan where Eita deposited his boots, he caught a flash of padded green.

Turning, he looked himself up and down in the mirror, tucking his nose into the collar of the jacket and inhaling the smell of Futakuchi’s cologne. The little bastard was right: he did have staying power, and Eita found he didn't mind that one bit.