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surprise, surprise

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“Hokkaido?” Hanamaki makes a face. “What the hell would we do in Hokkaido?”

“Shhhh!” Matsukawa pulls him to the side by the sleeve of his button down, around the corner of the hallway. “Do you want the entire year to know we’re gonna skip class?”

“Skip class? Matsu, what are you up to? Why didn’t I know about this?” Hanamaki inquires, looking only slightly hurt.
Matsukawa smiles and pulls an envelope from his blazer pocket. A single receipt slips out and he hands it to his friend.

“A room reservation at a ski resort?” Hanamaki shoots him a confused look. He studies the receipt again, slim eyebrows furrowed. Then he jerks his head up, eyes wide as saucers. “Wait. That’s my birthday. Oh my god, don’t tell me—”

Matsukawa grins. “Surprise, surprise?”

Something warm unfurls inside Hanamaki’s chest and he fights the urge to kiss his best friend square on the mouth — instead he goes for a bone crushing hug, and he guesses for the moment that’s just as good.

 


 

 

The train rattles comfortingly, swaying Matsukawa’s sleepy form where he’s slouched in his seat next to Hanamaki, artificial light dancing over his features.

It’s the evening of the 26th, and Hanamaki’s heart is beating fast in his chest. He still can’t believe that his parents are letting him skip class, and on his eighteenth birthday no less. There hadn’t even been a fight, they had just accepted it. Hanamaki suspects Matsukawa might have told his parents in advance, filing that piece of information away for later. He hadn’t really known what to pack either, so he’d called Matsukawa in the middle of the night, asking for advice. He’d refused to relay any details to him, so instead they had ended up talking on the phone for hours until they had both fallen asleep. Consequently, both of them had looked more dead than alive all day, and as soon as they had boarded the train and found their seats Matsukawa had passed out.  

It’s cute, Hanamaki thinks, stifling a yawn. He watches his own reflection in the window for a while, wondering what their little trip might hold in store for them. The prospect of spending two nights with his friend and longtime crush is exciting and frightening at the same time. He tries not to get his hopes up too much, but a nagging voice inside his head keeps reminding him of how close they will be, sharing a room, a bath, maybe possibly a futon if he gets extra lucky for his birthday. However unlikely that might be, the thought magics up a dreamy smile on his face.

When a tunnel swallows them up, Matsukawa stirs in his seat, grumbling about his ears hurting. His voice is a little gravelly from disuse.

“You want some gum, you old geezer?” Hanamaki offers instantly, rummaging through his stuffed coat pockets in search for that small packet of gum strips he keeps there.

“Shut up, you’re older than me,” Matsukawa retorts with a tired grin, but he still takes the gum, shoves it in his mouth and starts chewing contentedly. “Thanks.”

Hanamaki bumps shoulders with him affectionately, sitting up a little. He pulls out his phone to check the time.

“How much longer d’you think it’ll take to get there?” he asks, wondering where they might be right now. It’s dark out, so he can’t see anything even as the train exits the tunnel.

Matsukawa shrugs. “Shouldn't take much longer? Maybe half an hour? We're pretty close I think.”

“Nice, I can’t wait to get a good ten hours of sleep for a change,” Hanamaki says and Matsukawa only laughs.

They fall silent again, Matsukawa drifting back into a light sleep while Hanamaki clears a few levels on Candy Crush. He’s about to clear another when his LINE notifications light up and Oikawa’s name pops up in the middle of the screen. Expecting his usual reminders about the next day’s volleyball practice he clicks on it. He doesn’t get what he expects.

 

[From: Oikawa]
Hello Makki~~ are u and mattsun there yet?

 [From: Oikawa]
or are u maybe already in bed? having some pre birthday fun? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

Hanamaki scowls at the screen. He starts punching out a passive aggressive answer, but ends up backspacing.

 

[To: Oikawa]
this isnt a date were not dating shut the hell ur mouth

[From: Oikawa]
;< aww makki dont deny ur feelings like that im sure he'll come around~ after all this is a romantic adventure trip! this is ur chance to confess!!

[To: Oikawa]
how do u even know what we're doing

[To: Oikawa]
and im doing no such thing do u want me to die??? I know he doesnt like me back

[From: Oikawa]
the great oikawa-san knows everything! how can u say he doesnt like u when u havent asked him silly!! now go and make some nice romantic memories with mattsun @u@b

[To: Oikawa]
im unfriending u irl

 

With that, Hanamaki stuffs his phone back into his pocket, trying his best to ignore the uncomfortable churning in his stomach. He’d been doing a decent job at ignoring his stupid feelings for his best friend all day, and then Oikawa had to go and ruin it with a few silly texts.
A sinking feeling goes through his body as he glances over to Matsukawa who’s turned away from him now, hands buried deep in the pockets of his sweater. 

Hanamaki looks away again, swallowing the lump in his throat. For the rest of the ride he’s quiet, listening to the train driver’s ever monotone voice as he announces stops.

 


 

 

As it turns out, the ski resort is a family business owned by an elderly couple. It’s located within twenty bus minutes from the next ski slope, at the foot of a small mountain range.
A personal attendant shows them their room after they’ve checked in and had a cup of green tea, pointing out breakfast and dinner times as they’re shown around. Hanamaki gapes openly as he tries to take in everything at once — the artful decorations in the entrance hall and the paintings lining their ascent up the staircase to their room. The entire atmosphere about the place has something exciting about it.
Children squeal happily, attendants scuttle about, but somehow Hanamaki feels calm amidst all the commotion.

Their room is small, but it’s nothing short of fancy. It’s a traditional Japanese style room complete with tatami and shōji doors, a kotatsu and a regular table, a sofa, a TV, and some expensive looking vases that Hanamaki makes a mental note not to touch under any circumstances.
They have a bathroom to themselves with a large wooden tub and a variety of body care products on the sink.

“It’s nothing special,” Matsukawa says once they’re alone again, scratching at the back of his head as he unzips his bag to pull out his pillow, but Hanamaki scoffs, crossing his arms.

“Shut up? This is perfect! Do I even wanna know how much this cost you?! Hell no I don’t. I’ll never be able to pay you back for this.”

Matsukawa snorts. “It’s a gift, I don’t want anything in return. Wait. Actually, you could lay out the futons for me.”
Hanamaki smacks him upside the head with his neck pillow.

 

It’s a mutual agreement for them both to go to bed early, leaving most of their belongings in their travel bags out of laziness. They don’t even take a bath, deciding it’s okay to skip out one time.

“Besides,” Hanamaki quips, “you always stink, so it doesn’t really matter.” Matsukawa puts him in a headlock and they wrestle for dominance until Matsukawa pins him to the floor with his hands above his head. Hanamaki gives, but Matsukawa doesn’t have to know that it’s because that particular position turned Hanamaki’s brain to jelly. After that, Hanamaki lays out the futons dutifully, never missing a chance to fake-complain about the trouble Matsukawa put him through.

“A horrible friend, really. Catastrophic. Unacceptable. Mean.”

“Oh, are we naming my qualities? I think you forgot witty and clever, and a great sense of humor.”

Hanamaki smirks. “An asshole with some kind of twisted liking for toilet jokes, got it.”

 

When he’s done setting up their beds, Hanamaki lets himself drop to the floor, spreading his limbs all over the place. Matsukawa sets a breakfast alarm and turns off the lights before he curls up under his blanket while Hanamaki settles down as well, making room for his friend. They exchange mumbled goodnights, and then it’s quiet.

Despite his fatigue from earlier, Hanamaki lies awake, staring at the ceiling. He’s hyper-aware of Matsukawa’s presence, heat settling into his bones as he tosses and turns, feeble attempts at clearing his thoughts. From time to time, little sighs reach his ears and he wonders if Matsukawa’s already asleep. He isn’t going to ask though, in case he is and he wakes him up again. Instead he keeps thinking — about the what ifs and maybes and all the things he shouldn’t be thinking about, not with Matsukawa mere inches away from him. Things like what it would feel like to roll over and bury his nose in the back of Matsukawa’s neck, what it’d feel like to throw his arms around him and share warmth till the early morning hours. What would it feel like to have the clock tick over to the 27th and get a happy birthday wish murmured into his ear in the dark, to feel the words against his skin?

Hanamaki’s heart twinges painfully when reality makes a visit and reminds him that he’s been daydreaming. His feet are cold despite the pair of socks he always keeps on for that very reason, and he chalks his frustration up to that. He exhales heavily, turning over once again. Matsukawa stirs in his own bed, and for a second Hanamaki thinks that he’s got a comment coming his way for moving too much, but instead a hoarse whisper permeates the air.

“Can’t sleep?”

Hanamaki swallows. “I’m just cold,” he says truthfully, feigning nonchalance. “I’ll deal with it. Go back to sleep, loser.”

Matsukawa shuffles around for a moment, leaving Hanamaki wondering what he might be doing. He never gets to finish his train of thought, because a moment later the rustling ceases and Matsukawa speaks again, soft and sleepy.

“You wanna get some early birthday cuddles, you big baby?”

Hanamaki’s heart skips a beat and he bites his tongue to stop himself from screaming. He nods eagerly until he realizes Matsukawa can’t see him, so he whispers back a stuttery yes and scoots over, slipping under his friend’s blanket.

Matsukawa is warm like he always is, and it’s so comforting that Hanamaki forgets to be antsy around him. Instead he relaxes, humming contentedly as he settles in, smiling a little at the way Matsukawa hisses when he comes in contact with Hanamaki’s frozen feet. They end up pressed up against each other, spooning like they used to during the sleepovers at Matsukawa’s house when the Matsukawas’ heating had died on them that one winter.

“Better?” Matsukawa murmurs, shifting slightly to accommodate them both on a single futon. His breath tickles Hanamaki’s ear, prompting goosebumps to spring up over his skin.

“Mmhh,” Hanamaki hums, closing his eyes again, enjoying every second of being close to his friend like this. It’s not until then that he realizes that he’s really, genuinely looking forward to the next day, because it’s his birthday and he’ll get to spend all of it with Matsukawa.

Like that, it’s not long before he drifts off into a peaceful slumber, and if he turns around in his sleep to throw an arm around Matsukawa he'll be none the wiser.

 


 

 

Morning dawns with a shrill rendition of some English rap song and a gleeful boom of “Get up, asshole, it’s your birthday!”

Something heavy drops onto Hanamaki’s stomach before he can even open his eyes, and he wheezes out a curse or twenty as he tries to untangle himself from his futon and what turns out to be a mess of limbs.

“Morning to you too, jackass,” he groans, rubbing sleep from his eyes and trying to locate Matsukawa's face so he can belt him one.

A grinning Matsukawa appears in his field of vision a second later, only inches from his face and looking as refreshed and energetic as ever. Or as energetic as one Matsukawa Issei may be able to look. His smile radiates warmth, and Hanamaki’s natural reaction is to smile back, even if it might look a little groggy. He notes how Matsukawa’s hair is delightfully messy from sleep, his wild curls sticking up in the weirdest places. Little wrinkles mark his face where he’d pressed it into his pillow. Cute is Hanamaki’s first thought. Oh fuck me is his second.

He sits up, realizing too late that his friend is sat square on his thighs, and bumps right into Matsukawa’s chest with a surprised little oof.

“You suck at waking up, you know that?” Matsukawa’s tone is teasing, but not unfriendly. A lazy grin dances over his lips, and Hanamaki feels the need to look away. It’s too early.

“That’s rich coming from someone who sleeps an entire twenty-four hours and then proceeds to pour his milk into the sink instead of his cereal,” he shoots back, punching his friend’s shoulder with no real force behind it.

“True that,” Matsukawa admits, sounding a little proud of this accomplishment. “But really, happy birthday, you nerd. I hope it’s gonna be a good one.” Hanamaki sucks in a breath of air when a pair of strong arms wrap around him, squeezing gently. It’s easy to melt into the touch, Matsukawa is warm and soft in the morning, and he can still smell yesterday’s cologne on him when Hanamaki buries his face against the side of his neck like he wanted to all night. That alone would’ve been enough of a birthday present he thinks, indulging himself some more by returning the hug and recalling the feeling of falling asleep next to him.

“Thanks, loser,” he says, smile widening.

Right then Matsukawa’s stomach growls like it’s trying to eat itself, causing them both to burst out laughing.
Hanamaki takes it as his cue to shove Matsukawa to the floor, giggling still. He gets up and extends his hand to his friend.

“C’mon, let’s feed whatever demon has possessed your body.”

 


 

 

“Go on without me, just leave me here to die,” Matsukawa grits out, clutching his hands over his stomach. His cheeks are red from the cold and he looks like he’s about to collapse, his rented skis dangling dangerously from his arms.

“You were the one who got third helpings of that gross natto stuff, now deal with it!”

“It’s not gross, thank you very much. It’s healthy and delicious, so maybe your taste is just shit,”
Matsukawa protests, staggering forward, his long legs disappearing up to his knees in a heap of fresh snow. He makes a noise akin to a broken exhaust.

“Your condition is shit, that’s what. Come here.” Hanamaki trudges back down the trail he’d trodden into the snow, taking hold of Matsukawa's arm. “I can’t believe you didn’t even make it to the bus stop without dying. Weak!”

“You’re starting to sound like Iwaizumi,” Matsukawa comments, letting Hanamaki drag him up the hill to the street.

“Gross, take that back right now.” Hanamaki snorts into his sleeve.

They reach the bus stop a few complaint-filled minutes later, and Matsukawa finally collapses to the ground, giving Hanamaki the chance to snap some excellent candids that he definitely doesn’t share to all his social media.

 


 

 

When Matsukawa had told him that they were going to rent two pairs of ski at the reception after breakfast, it had become obvious what exactly he’d planned for the day. After all, he’d booked a ski resort, so this development hadn’t really come as a surprise. Hanamaki’s okay with it in general, it’s just … he hasn’t been on skis in years, so getting an opportunity to change that makes him both eager to see if he’s still as good as he used to be, and also slightly nervous in case he isn’t. He guesses he’ll cross that bridge when he gets to it.

 

The landscape flying by the bus window is beautiful. There are endless planes of white, speckled with naked trees and occasionally a frozen lake or pond. There are mountains of course, snow-capped and majestic. Hanamaki decides that he likes it, the way the sun glitters on the snow, how blue the cloudless sky is, the friendly chugging of the bus as it winds its way up the road.

Once they get off the bus and on the ski lift, there’s a change in atmosphere. Matsukawa’s face turns from red and flushed to a sickly green shade, and Hanamaki gets the feeling that he knows exactly what’s going on.

“Don’t tell me you’re scared of heights,” he laughs, nudging Matsukawa’s arm playfully.

“I’m not scared, just … impressed.”

“Impressed. Uh-huh.”

“Fuck you.”

“So forward.”

“Fuck. You.”

“You love me.”

“Doesn’t compensate for the fact that you’re an ass.” Matsukawa tries a wobbly smile, obviously avoiding looking down. He fails.

Hanamaki can’t fight the broad grin appearing on his face and the laughter escaping him. “Sounds fair,” he laughs, warmth spreading inside his body despite the freezing temperatures. He hasn’t denied it, he tells himself over and over again, that he loves me. It’s a tiny detail that Matsukawa probably hadn’t even registered, but for the moment it feels like there’s nothing else Hanamaki needs, for a fleeting moment it feels like it might be enough.

They arrive safely at the top without any unwanted reappearances of their breakfast, much to everyone’s relief.

 


 

 

As it turns out, Hanamaki isn’t exactly good with skis. Averagely horrible may or may not be an understatement. He manages to put his equipment on just fine, but that’s about it. He tries to move, hopping over the snow in hopes of somehow, magically getting the hang of how to goddamn do this only to lose his footing and fall over, getting a nice mouthful of snow.

Matsukawa on the other hand is pretty decent. He isn’t outstanding or anything, but at least he seems to know how to stay on his feet.

He offers to teach Hanamaki when he emerges from a bush, brandishing the ski stick he’d flung away during his most spectacular fall yet. He doesn’t have an excuse to say no.

 

“Oh Matsukawa-sensei! Am I doing this right?” Hanamaki coos some twenty minutes later, wiggling his arms a little as he slides down a baby slope, towards his makeshift teacher.

“Don’t call me that,” Matsukawa calls, but his grin gives him away. “Bend your knees a little more, no, not like that, wait—”

Hanamaki faceplants right into Matsukawa’s feet, coughing up snow and bits of grass as he gets back up. Matsukawa chuckles, patting his shoulder in a manner that says “Don’t mind, don’t mind.”

“Geez, you don’t have to treat me like a child, you know? Matsukawa-sensei.” A smirk cuts across Hanamaki's face. “Care to show me how it’s done?”

“Sure, here, let me.”

 

Hanamaki finds himself positioned at the top of a beginners’ run with Matsukawa behind him, giving instructions. He guides him gently, touching his knees to show him how to bend them, his shoulders (“Don’t slack off, keep your back straight.”), and he jogs down the slope with him as he sets off, making his way to the bottom. Hanamaki makes it, skidding to a halt next to a grinning Matsukawa. It’s the first time his descent hasn’t ended in a fall, and he’s kind of proud.

“Where’s my thanks?” Matsukawa asks, bushy eyebrows bouncing.

“Kiss my ass, Mattsun.”

“Why are you like this, why won’t you appreciate my superb teaching skills?”

“You suck.”

Hanamaki realizes too late what kind of horrible set-up that was.

“And you—”

“Noooo, don’t do it, Matsu—”

“—swallow.”

“I hate you so much right now,” Hanamaki says, making a face.

“How much?” Matsukawa asks innocently.

“This much,” Hanamaki elaborates, and proceeds to attack his friend with his ski sticks. They wrestle in the snow until they're both utterly out of breath and gasping for air.

“Tie?” Matsukawa gasps, clutching his sides.

“Tie,” Hanamaki agrees.

 


 

 

[From: Oikawa]
makki-chan yahoo ☆ happy birthday!!!! now ure old, congrats! hows it feel to be a grandpa

 

Hanamaki grins a little as he types his answer. He takes a sip from the hot chocolate he got at the little refreshment hut he and Matsukawa had found earlier. He’s glad they’re taking a break, his sides still hurt from laughing and fighting, and being able to sit in a chair that’s not made entirely of ice and pain is something he can definitely appreciate. 
His parents had called too, to congratulate him and remind him to take care of himself and Matsukawa. It had only been a short call, but it had left him feeling warm and wanted. He just hopes Oikawa won’t take things in a different direction now.

 

[To: Oikawa]
gee, thanks. actually its pretty neat
18 sounds much more mature than 17 dont u think

[From: Oikawa]
well u see makki, oikawa-san's beauty and wisdom will always win over any number! ☆ but, this isnt about me so how u doin u old fart

[From: Oikawa]
or, how u doing mattsun uhehehe

 

Hanamaki feels like shutting his phone off or answering with a confusing meme, but he guesses he’ll humor Oikawa, just this once.
Next to him, Matsukawa’s completely engrossed in something on his own phone, absentmindedly taking little sips from his steaming drink. When he looks back to his screen, another message sits there, waiting for him.

 

[From: Oikawa]
makki have u told him yet?

[To: Oikawa]
no

[From: Oikawa]
why not? now would be a good time!

[To: Oikawa]
…i cant. i dont wanna lose him for something stupid like that. hes my best friend, /and/ he must have spent a fortune on this trip, im not ruining it

[From: Oikawa]
ok listen. i know how ur feeling right now. just, follow ur gut instinct i guess? be honest with mattsun, tell him how u feel! hes ur best friend, hes not gonna leave u. besides do u really think hed go thru the hassle of booking and planning this short trip if u didnt mean the world to him?
u 2 are so obvious it hurts makki

[To: Oikawa]
okay wow thanks mr relationship expert

 

Hanamaki hesitates, biting his lip. What Oikawa had said does hold an ounce of truth, he guesses. Hopes. He sends another text.

 

[To: Oikawa]
are u really sure

[From: Oikawa]
MAKKI UR SUCH A PAIN ( ´Д`)=3 YES

[To: Oikawa]
sighs ok. thanks i owe u one

 

He pockets his phone without waiting for an answer. Talking to Oikawa has helped a little, surprisingly, but he still has no idea how to tell Matsukawa without ruining three years of friendship. There just doesn’t seem to be a way. He sighs into his scarf, deciding he’ll save it for later.

When he takes another sip of his hot chocolate it leaves a bitter aftertaste in his mouth.

 


 

 

Racing Matsukawa on skis proves not only difficult but also a foolproof method to embarrass himself. Despite the fact that Hanamaki’s falls become less and farther in between with every run he’s still far from actually being able to challenge anyone to a duel.

At some point this becomes blazingly obvious and he throws in the towel, instead opting to watch his friend for a while.

Matsukawa’s long legs seem to carry him effortlessly across the snow, a sharp contrast to the way he’d fought his way uphill from their hotel. He looks happy, Hanamaki notes, a rush of affection surging through him. Something about the way he moves makes it look like he’s weightless, surely the result of their rigorous volleyball training regimen and what seem to be years of practice.

Unconsciously, Hanamaki’s thoughts begin to wander, back to the many, many times they’ve had sleepovers at each other’s houses, their playful tickle fights, and some not so playful arm wrestling competitions. He remembers the feeling of Matsukawa’s palm pressed warm and firm against his, callused fingers grazing the sensitive back of his hand. How would they feel in his hair, playing with it? What would it feel like to have those fingers trail down his spine? No doubt, they would be teasing, hitting all his sensitive spots. Hanamaki imagines leaning into their touch as they stray from their path and caress his hip bones, tickling him, eliciting sighs and laughter alike. Images flash before his inner eye, fingers scratching down his back, kisses trailed over his neck, his collarbones, teasing little bites on his earlobes.  Shivers run over his skin at the thought, even though it might just be the cold seeping through his clothes.

He thinks about Matsukawa’s voice too, how it always sounds a little smokey and out of breath. He remembers how it had sounded the previous night, breathy and gentle as he offered him cuddles. He knows what it sounds like when he whispers a lewd joke in his ear, what it sounds like when he lowers his voice so only Hanamaki can hear him, but deep down he knows he wants more than that, wants to hear him gasp his name, kiss it against his lips, murmur it into his ear, Takahiro, over and over—

“-maki! Hanamaki! TAKAHIRO!”

Hanamaki’s head snaps up so fast he gives himself whiplash, his eyes flitting about wildly, his heartbeat accelerating to a mile a minute. Something’s approaching, and fast, but Hanamaki is rooted to the spot in shock.

“TAKAHIRO, GET OUT OF THE FUCKING W—”

 

CRASH.

 

When Hanamaki comes to, he’s splayed out on his back in the snow, an invisible weight pushing him into the icy ground. The back of his head throbs painfully, as if he had tried to put it through a wall. Some kind of fog surrounds his brain, making him disoriented and a little slow to react.

“Urgh,” he groans weakly, blinking against too bright light. Slowly, the weight lifts off his chest. Jittery fingers flutter over Hanamaki’s cheeks in its stead, panicked little touches. Then a voice joins them.

“Hey, hey. Hanamaki? Can you hear me? You there? ...Takahiro?” Matsukawa.

“Mmmhhh,” is all Hanamaki manages, not missing the way Matsukawa had used his first name. “Say that again.”

“You’re talking nonsense.”

“You’re talking.”

“Hey, look at me, alright?” The words come out soft and gentle and a little afraid. Hanamaki does his best to focus his eyes, meeting Matsukawa’s from a few inches away. They’re wide open, all traces of his usual half-asleep expression gone. His thick eyebrows are knit together in worry.

“'m looking,” Hanamaki slurs, eyes following the line of Matsukawa’s sharp jaw, along his cheekbones, the back of his nose. “I’m lookin’ good.”

“Shit, do you remember your name? The date?”

“Hanamaki Takahiro. It’s my birthday and you just ran me over on skis. Friend of the Year.”

Matsukawa huffs a laugh. “Im glad you haven’t lost your sass.” His laughter vibrates through his stomach, and Hanamaki can feel it. That’s when he registers what position they’re in, Matsukawa sprawled over him, one knee on either side of Hanamaki’s hips, and the close proximity makes his head spin a little.

“What about you? You alright?” He asks, some of the fog clearing.

“I think you, uh, broke most of my fall. Sorry for that.” The laugh that bubbles up from his throat rings clear and melodious in the cool air.

“Anytime, for you,” Hanamaki says without thinking, still thoroughly winded from the collision. There’s no doubt that he means it.

Matsukawa gapes at him for a moment, but then his facial expression changes from surprise to an affectionate smile.

“You sure you didn’t hit your head too hard?”

“I’d do anything for you,” Hanamaki says, because it’s the truth. He watches his friend’s face closely, gets a little lost in it. He hangs on to Matsukawa’s lips as they form an ‘oh’, the word slipping out as a whisper.

There’s this look in Matsukawa’s eyes right then, it’s soft, like melted chocolate, and the corner of his mouth twitches slightly. His eyes go half-lidded, making this feel all too intimate, like he’s about to lean in, like he’s going to kiss him. Hanamaki’s heart jumps into his throat as his eyes flutter shut instinctively and he tips his chin up, arching into the motion, his heart racing and—

—a muffled “Fuck” escapes Matsukawa as his nose starts bleeding, and he throws himself into the snow, hands slapped over his mouth.

 


 

 

“Has it stopped?”

“Yeah, finally,” comes the answer from the hotel bathroom, muffled by the door. Seconds later Matsukawa emerges, his face a little red and his eyes a little watery, but the bleeding has indeed stopped.

Hanamaki sighs, patting the spot by his side on the sofa. The piece of furniture dips pleasantly as Matsukawa joins him, knocking shoulders.

“Man, what a way to end the day, huh?” Hanamaki sighs, letting his joints pop.

“Sorry again,” Matsukawa says, “I didn't hurt you or anything, right?”

“Mhh, I hit my head pretty bad,” Hanamaki admits, seeing no point in denying it. He tentatively runs his fingers over the spot, wincing at the tenderness.

“Oh shit, sorry! Do you want me to give it a look, see if it needs any treatment?” Matsukawa looks like he’s ready to whip out a first aid kit. Struggling not to laugh, Hanamaki nods and turns around so his back’s to Matsukawa for easier access.

“Tell me if it hurts, yeah?”

“Mh.”

Then Matsukawa’s hands are in his hair, carding through it with utmost care. Hanamaki’s always liked having his hair played with, so it’s only too easy to relax. He goes completely slack under those gentle fingers, melting into Matsukawa’s stomach as he leans back. He can feel the tension leaving his body, leaving him a little sleepy but content.

“This feel good?” Matsukawa asks, a knowing lilt to his voice.

“You have no idea,” Hanamaki sighs pleasantly, drawing out the ‘no’.

“I can’t see anything by the way. You still want me to keep doing it?”

“Can you shut up while you’re at it? You’re so loud.”

“Okay wow, I did not know getting hit in the head would turn up your snark levels this much,” Matsukawa snorts, but his hands keep massaging Hanamaki’s scalp gently, sometimes dragging down the back and sides of his neck, slow and purposeful.

“Mhh, how are you so good at this?” Hanamaki moans, goosebumps springing up in the places Matsukawa’s fingers touch.

“Natural talent?” Matsukawa digs the tips of his fingers into his shoulders with just the right amount of pressure, eliciting another low whine. He follows up with kneading the base of his neck with his thumbs, rubbing the soreness from there with deft motions.

“Whatever it is, don’t stop,” Hanamaki begs, moving back against Matsukawa needily.

“If I had known this is the way to make you happy I would’ve just gotten you a gift coupon for a professional massage.”

“No way,” Hanamaki protests, adding unthinkingly, “It’s gotta be you.” As the words leave his mouth he tenses up, afraid he might have phrased this in an ambiguous way.

“Why?”

“Because I like you. Uh— The most. I uh, like you the most, obviously, since you’re my best friend?” Hanamaki stumbles over his words trying to repair the damage he’s already done, embarrassment burning itself into his skin. He’s thankful that Matsukawa can’t see his face, because he’s sure that it would give him away in an instant.

“Well,” Matsukawa says quietly, his hands stilling. He seems to take a moment to think, and then his arms wrap around around Hanamaki from behind, warm and familiar. “I like you the most, too. By the way, I have something for you,” Matsukawa murmurs, close to Hanamaki’s ear.

“What?” Hanamaki forgets about his red face and turns around in Matsukawa’s embrace, a scold on the tip of his tongue. There’s no way he’s accepting another gift after this, that would be fucking unfair.

“I swear to fuck, Matsu, don’t even try, I’m not going to accept any more gifts. This,” he gestures at their surroundings, “is more than I deserve already. Whatever you got me, keep it or return it, do something nice for yourself, alright?”

Hanamaki stares as Matsukawa shakes his head no, his smile bright. “This isn’t how it works, I’m the one in charge of all gift traffic today, and ideally, I was hoping this would be the best part of your day.”

“What could possibly make my day better? A birthday kiss?” It’s only a joke, but deep down Hanamaki thinks that he might pass out if he ever gets a kiss out of his best friend.

Something flashes behind Matsukawa’s eyes, but it’s gone in a blink when he chuckles to himself as he pulls back from the hug and gets up. “This’ll be even better, you'll see.” He saunters off to the corner with their little wardrobe and returns with a large white box. It’s a little bent at the corners, but other than that it looks untouched.

Hanamaki cocks his head to the side. “How did you even transport that?”

“Don’t even ask me ‘cause I seriously have no clue. Maybe it’s a magic box. Anyway, here.” Matsukawa hands him the box carefully, then steeples his fingers in anticipation.

“What’s in there?” Hanamaki gives it an experimental shake, but apart from some light rustling he doesn’t get much of a response.

“Why don’t you open it and find out?” With that, Matsukawa plops himself back down, swaying the birthday boy a little in his seat.

Grinning, Hanamaki tears the package open and lifts the lid, and when he lays his eyes on what must be the most enticing cream puffs he has ever seen, he can’t help but squeal a little.

“I can’t believe you brought cream puffs for me all this way, but at the same time I can, what the heck!” He takes a hearty bite out of the first puff, savoring the sweetness of the cream filling and chewing with gusto.

“Good?”

“Are you kidding me? They’re heavenly. Here, try one!”

It’s a little awkward as Hanamaki lifts a cream puff to Matsukawa’s lips, but they giggle when there’s a cascade of powdered sugar down the front of Matsukawa’s dark pants and cream smeared all over his face.

They end up battling for the last cream puff, the result a heap of heavily breathing teenagers, half sitting half lying on the sofa. Hanamaki claims his win, letting the last bit of the pastry disappear in his mouth as he fixes Matsukawa with a winning smirk. Matsukawa puffs out air, moving Hanamaki with the rise and fall of his chest.

Feeling bold, Hanamaki crawls up his body until they’re face to face, so he can look down at his friend. He considers his words for a moment.

“Thank you, for everything. This really was the best part,” he says eventually, squeezing Matsukawa’s bicep. He hopes he got his gratitude across, because there’s no way he can say thanks enough.

Matsukawa just smiles in return, that very same warm smile that had played on his lips earlier that day, when they were spread out in the snow after their little accident, breathless and lightheaded. Hanamaki’s heart speeds up as he remembers the atmosphere between them, the tingling tension in his gut and the electric feeling of Matsukawa’s fingers against his skin.

He wants to say something, but the words get stuck in his throat. Loud and obnoxious, he can hear his own heartbeat drum in his ears as he racks his brain for something to say other than I want to kiss you, I want to kiss you so bad it hurts.

“Happy birthday, Takahiro,” Matsukawa says again, before Hanamaki can make a decision he’ll regret, but the way his first name sounds from Matsukawa’s lips, mumbled into the space between them, sends shivers running down Hanamaki’s body, hot and cold. His heart contracts in his chest — they’re so close and yet, this isn’t what Hanamaki wants, it’s not enough, it’s never enough, no matter what he keeps telling himself. He bites his lip, avoidant of Matsukawa’s gaze, instead staring emptily at the pattern of the sofa.

He’s about to get up, take a breather and maybe throw a little pity party in the bathroom when there’s a hand on his cheek, and his eyes snap back to meet Matsukawa’s as his heart hammers against his rib cage.

“Matsu-?”

“Can I do something selfish?” Matsukawa’s face is flushed, like he just ran a mile at full speed. Hanamaki swallows, unable to look away this time. He can feel Matsukawa’s breath on his lips,  and damn he’ll go to hell if he screws this up.

“I’d do anything for you,” he says for the second time that day, answering a question he hadn’t been asked, voice wavering from the adrenaline pumping through his veins, setting him ablaze on the inside. “So go ahead.”

“Shit,” is all Matsukawa says — there’s a second of hesitation, silent communication, and then he draws him in close, their noses bumping gently as he fits their mouths together.

Hanamaki’s insides twist and flip at the sensation, a feeling like being high and drunk at the same time. He inhales through his nose, and he feels dizzy from how deeply he can smell Matsukawa. Their lips move together; it’s clumsy as both lack experience, and the kiss isn't perfect objectively, but for Hanamaki it’s more than he’s ever dreamed of. Matsukawa’s lips are soft and a little chapped, but so careful as they move against him. Matsukawa exhales a soft sigh against his lips before he presses another tiny kiss against the corner of his mouth. Then he pulls away, opening his eyes slowly.

An endearing blush has spread over his face, making it hard not to lean back in and reclaim his lips. “Happy birthday?” he tries.

“I hate you,” Hanamaki snorts, pressing his forehead to Matsukawa's in embarrassment, and holy shit shit shit

“I’m sorry to break it to you, but I’d choose this over a box of cream puffs any day,” he rambles out, “this was the best part of my day. Definitely. Holy crap.”

They share a moment of emotionally charged eye contact before it dissolves into a fit of laughter, the sound reverberating through their bodies like they were one, like they were meant to be.

“I like you,” Matsukawa rasps, “I really really like you, Takahiro, fuck, I’ve wanted to do that for so long—”

Hanamaki’s heart swells, and he thinks he’s about to implode, so he does the only thing that seems feasible at the moment. He kisses Matsukawa again, years of pining and the assumption his feelings were unrequited making him desperate to make up for it. Matsukawa goes soft and pliant under his weight, tilting his head just so, and it all falls into place.

When they part this time they’re both a little out of breath, but to Hanamaki it’s the best feeling in the world, so much more satisfying than waking up to a plate of his favorite food or hitting a perfect toss. It’s everything.

“I’m in love with you,” he says, shaky with giddiness, “I’m in love with you, Issei.”

Matsukawa’s first name feels new on his tongue, but moreover, it feels right, it feels so fucking right.

 


 

 

That night they push their futons together. Hanamaki is still restless with joy, taking every chance he gets to tangle his fingers with Matsukawa’s, to feel his skin warm and comforting and new, even if it’s still a little awkward, but it’s only half as bad because it’s them. They’ve been together for years, know each other inside out. Being close with Matsukawa, with Issei, comes as naturally as breathing. It’ll just take time for realization to hit completely.

Soon, they’re wrapped around each other under the blankets, their bodies fitting together like a pair of puzzle pieces.

“We should sleep,” Matsukawa mumbles with no real intent, pressing another shy kiss against Hanamaki’s lips.

“We should,” Hanamaki agrees, his fingers drawing little patterns into Matsukawa’s shoulder blades.

“Mmh, but is it really that late already?”

“Dunno, let me check.” Hanamaki untangles himself from Matsukawa, a little reluctant to leave the warmth of their nest. He gropes around for his phone in the dim light, locating it by the foot end of their futons.
He unlocks it to find a new message from Oikawa.

 

[From: Oikawa]
hey makki~~ soooo anything u wanna tell me? (・∀・)

[To: Oikawa]
sure, water is wet, the sky is blue, ur hair looks fake af…

[From: Oikawa]
rude makki!! >:0 dont hate me cuz im beautiful
what i meant was if u finally had the guts to confess ur undying love to mattsun! after all ur coming back tomorrow right

[To: Oikawa]
none of ur business hanger

[From: Oikawa]
come on makki that ones so old just tell meeeee

[To: Oikawa]
u wish

[From: Oikawa]
is that a yes ??? did u tell him????? whta did he say??

 

Hanamaki contemplates which answer would annoy Oikawa the most as a soft rustling goes through the blankets. 

“Hey, what’s taking you so long?” Matsukawa crawls up behind Hanamaki, brushing up against his side.

“Mhh, Oikawa’s being a terror as usual.”

“Aren’t you the one who usually sides with him?”

“Only when it’s a good kind of terror,” Hanamaki replies, scratching his chin. “Should I send him that video of the guy who just says ‘nice’ really weirdly?”

“Dunno, depends on what he texted you,” Matsukawa drawls, playing with Hanamaki’s hair. He leans up on his elbows to brush a kiss against his jaw, teasing but cute in a way that makes Hanamaki want to tackle him into the floor.

 

[To: Oikawa]
ask again later? im a little Busy right now if u kno what i mean

[From: Oikawa]
:000 HE SAID YES DIDNT HE OH MY GOD MAKKI

[From: Oikawa]
ALSO GROSS IM TELLING IWA-CHAN

[To: Oikawa]
what would u even tell him?? its not like im SENDING YOU NUDES INTENDED FOR IWAIZUMIS ‘““‘VIEWING PLEASURE’””’

[From: Oikawa]
thAT WAS ONE TIME MAKKI WHY DO U HATE ME 。゚(゚´Д`゚)゚。

 

Hanamaki laughs, flings the phone in the vague direction of his bag, and lets Matsukawa pull him back to bed.

 


 

 

The next morning comes way too soon. Checking out is a quick and painless procedure, and before they know it the two of them are headed south, back to Miyagi.
Hanamaki spends most of the train ride leaning on Matsukawa’s shoulder and thinking. No matter what happened last night, they haven’t exactly talked about it. In the beginning he’d been fine with that, but now it’s making him restless. No matter how good it felt to hold him and be held in return, he needs to set this straight.

“Hey, can I ask you something?”

Matsukawa sits up in surprise, meeting Hanamaki’s eyes. “Sure.”

Hanamaki takes a deep breath as he braces himself. What if Matsukawa’s regretting last night? What if he didn’t really mean what he said? Sometimes people say and do things without thinking, Hanamaki knows that from firsthand experience. Maybe he hadn’t meant it to sound like he likes him, maybe he meant it as a friend? Friends do kiss sometimes, right? Platonic kissing? Hanamaki doesn’t know anymore.

“Matsu... Issei... what are we?” he whispers, holds his breath, waiting for his answer.

“We are best friends,” Matsukawa says finally, slowly, “but I want to be more than that. I want to be with you. I want to be the one who gets to steal your food, hold your hand, shit talk at you in a romantic way, I don't know, fuck.”

Hanamaki starts laughing at the way redness spreads over Matsukawa’s face, regaining enough of his confidence to take the last leap.

“Be my food-stealing, hand-holding, shit-talking boyfriend?”

“Can do,” Matsukawa says, smiling broadly.

“Good,” Hanamaki says back, pretty sure that he’s mirroring Matsukawa’s expression. He feels warm all over, like he’s never going to be cold again.

The train drives on, swaying them gently like the first time, but now everything feels new — not like they’re headed back home at all. Instead, it feels like they’re heading towards a place bright and unknown, an adventure awaiting the two of them. The thought brings another smile to Hanamak’s face.

No matter what time may bring them, graduation, university entrance exams, moving out, he knows it’s all ging to be okay. It’s not going to be easy by a long shot, but it’s going to be easier with Matsukawa there right beside him.

As he intertwines their fingers on his thigh, he whips out his phone with his free hand to open up a new text to Oikawa.

 


 

 

The next day at school, Oikawa is ecstatic when Hanamaki and Matsukawa walk into morning practice with their arms linked.

Iwaizumi congratulates them.

Oikawa tells Iwaizumi to take him on a trip for his next birthday.

Iwaizumi headbutts him.

 

Hanamaki and Matsukawa share a look and laugh, because in the end, nothing really changed. And that’s fine just the way it is.