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The first thing Kenma notices when he steps out of his residence hall is the smell of the air. It’s his favorite kind of night, caught somewhere between spring and summer, the wind rushing through brand new leaves lending a hint of magic to an otherwise ordinary neighborhood. He doesn’t feel like going out often, but tonight, there’s a shiver of excitement inside him, and Koutarou’s grinning face when he steps out to join him tells him Koutarou has noticed.

“You’ll love them,” Koutarou says, slinging an arm around Kenma’s shoulders and beginning to walk. Kenma is meeting his college friends tonight, and while Kenma’s a little worried—Koutarou has attracted some weird people in the past—he’s heard about these guys. They don’t seem bad, just—excitable. Kenma wouldn’t expect anything less of them, if they’re some of Koutarou’s new best friends.

“I know,” Kenma says, though he doesn’t; he’s not a great lover of people, especially not in crowds. It was the right answer, though; Koutarou skips ahead, holding out his arms and spinning.

“Kenma! This is our burgeoning youth! We’re expanding our minds!”

Kenma hides a smile. He figured out months ago that Koutarou was in love, though Koutarou’s never said it outright to him. Kenma knows the fabled Akaashi will be there tonight, and the flush Koutarou can’t quite hide says enough on the subject. Kenma hopes it’s mutual, but then, how could it not be? He doesn’t know how anyone would not love his best friend.

The walk to the apartment where Koutarou’s friends live is about fifteen minutes, but it’s a short fifteen minutes with the wind kicking up and the air at the perfect temperature. Kenma could walk for hours in this kind of weather, clouds above him swirling, concealing then revealing stars. Still, happy as he is on the walk over, nerves fill him when they arrive at the door.

Koutarou knocks a rhythm against the wood, then stands back beside Kenma, and Kenma feels perfectly united in nervousness. Koutarou is nervous because of Akaashi; Kenma is nervous because of strangers. He doesn’t need the love of his life to be standing behind that door to have his hands tremble.

The door opens, and Kenma’s heart seizes in a moment of pure shock. The guy in the doorway is tall, with heavy-lidded eyes and messy black hair. He’s hot, but that isn’t the point; the point is how those eyes fix on Kenma with an immediate something that makes Kenma forget he was nervous about meeting strangers. Attraction hits him like a freight train.

Don’t be Akaashi, he thinks. Don’t be Akaashi

“Tetsurou!” Koutarou yells, leaping forward. For a moment, Tetsurou looks disorientated; he was still looking at Kenma, and now he’s being jumped on, and it tells Kenma that—despite his instinct to dismiss the something that passed between them as his imagination—Tetsurou was feeling it too, if only for a moment.

“Hey,” Tetsurou says, hugging Koutarou one-armed. Tetsurou—Kuroo Tetsurou, Kenma remembers. He’s heard the name, seen it written. Relief pours through him. Not Akaashi.

“Who’s your friend?” Kuroo asks, peering around Koutarou.

“Kozume Kenma,” Koutarou says, taking Kuroo’s hand and Kenma’s hand and putting them together in a handshake. Kuroo’s palm is hot and dry; Kenma’s body lights up at the touch.

Kenma wants to look away, but something stops him. He has the feeling that if he starts looking away from this guy, he’ll never be brave enough to meet his gaze, and so he stares back, his face neutral. Kuroo is much taller than him, but Kenma’s unblinking gaze seems to intimidate him nonetheless. Or was that shiver something else?

“Kozume-kun,” Kuroo says. “Nice to meet you.”

Kenma nods jerkily, not trusting his voice. He’s not used to being hit this hard; he’s always thought base level attraction means little, that it’s something easily ignored. It’s not. His palms sweat, and a voice inside tells him he needs to find a way to be close to Kuroo or face dire consequences.

He reminds himself it’s just endorphins. He tells himself so over and over as he walks past Kuroo into the apartment, but it doesn’t help; he feels the shoulder nearest Kuroo tingle, and has the weirdest urge to protect his neck somehow.

Okay, he thinks. He can deal with this. Koutarou is here. Koutarou has been his friend for years, and he won’t let Kenma embarrass himself too badly.

Then again, is embarrassing himself really what he’s scared of?

The apartment is warm and thoroughly worn; all the furniture looks soft around the edges, and the carpet sports a patchwork of stains. It doesn’t feel dirty, though, and the main scent Kenma detects is men’s deodorant. This makes sense, as about half a dozen guys are hanging around the living room and kitchen, some settled around a Wii and others standing snacking. A laugh breaks out from the kitchen, but Kenma’s attention is caught by a dark-haired guy with a serious face. He knows the guy is Akaashi from the way Koutarou’s eyes seek him out.

He also knows it’s mutual in that first glance. Something about the way Akaashi’s posture changes when he sees Koutarou, or the lines around his eyes. Kenma can’t put his finger on the exact motion that gives it away, but it’s a relief to spot it nonetheless. He doesn’t want his friend to be brokenhearted.

Koutarou tries to introduce Kenma to people, but Kuroo takes over after a moment of Koutarou’s floundering, Koutarou’s attention still caught by his crush. Kai Nobuyuki is the relaxed-looking guy in the arm chair by the Wii; Akaashi Keiji is the one on the couch who can’t stop looking at Koutarou; Yaku Morisuke is the short guy in the kitchen doorway; in the kitchen are Haiba-something and Enno-something and Fuku-something, and Kenma doesn’t think he’ll remember all the names right away, even as Kuroo’s voice echoes in his head.

His mind is caught more on Kuroo’s voice than his words, and again he feels that flush of desire that makes him squirm.

You don’t even know the guy, Kenma reminds himself, and this is true, but Kuroo is one of Koutarou’s friends, and Kenma has a good feeling about him, so how can he be bad? At the very least, Kenma can get a little closer tonight and try to put this thing he’s feeling to rest—assuming Kuroo is willing to let him.

He swallows hard. He’s not used to worrying about these things.

“What would you like to do?” Kuroo asks, looking around. He’s rubbing the back of his neck, seeming embarrassed, though Kenma can’t see why. Is he worried he’ll be responsible for Kenma now?

“Kenma!” Koutarou calls from the couch. He’s grinning. “We’re about to start a new game. Show them how it’s done?”

Kenma looks up at the screen: Super Smash. That’s easy, and if tonight had gone the way he’d expected, he would have been content to trounce everyone at Smash for the entire get-together. Now it feels like an afterthought.

“Okay,” he says, settling on the couch next to Koutarou. He picks up the offered controller, the back of his neck prickling. He’s very aware of Kuroo watching him, even without looking.

“Don’t play Falco,” Koutarou says. “Or Fox.”

“I’ll play random,” Kenma promises.

“You could play Jigglypuff,” Kai suggests. His heavy-lidded eyes are friendly. “If you’re up for the challenge, that is.”

“It doesn’t help,” Koutarou says sadly. “The only characters he ever loses as are Donkey Kong and Bowser. He doesn’t like big guys.”

At that moment, Kuroo sits down on Kenma’s other side, filling the couch to capacity; they have to squeeze in.

“I like them plenty,” Kenma says quietly. His heart is racing. “I’m just not as good with them.”

The game starts, and the four of them begin to fight while Kuroo provides commentary. Akaashi and Kai are better at the game than Koutarou is, but Koutarou makes up for it with real-life flailing, some of which Kuroo has the grace to deflect on Kenma’s behalf. Kenma’s gameplay suffers for it; Kuroo has to reach around him to keep Koutarou at arm’s length. Kenma is aware of his warmth, the length of his arm, the smell of him—clean and masculine. He smells like he showered recently.

The image of Kuroo showering rises in Kenma’s mind, and Kenma’s character—Ness, this round—falls off the side of the map.

Kenma can’t even bring himself to care.

“I thought he was good?” Akaashi asks, sending a challenging grin at Kenma. He was the one who dropped him off the map; so much for being polite to strangers.

“He’s lulling you into a false sense of security,” Koutarou says, but he sounds a little unsure. “Right?”

“Maybe,” Kenma says. He feels more awake than he has in weeks, as if the magical feel of the air on the way here was only the lead-up to something better. The apartment doesn’t seem like it ought to contain something better—it’s so ordinary, so battered—but there’s a good feeling about the place.

Kenma feels drunk, and he hasn’t had a thing to drink.

He wins that match, and the next one. He hands his controller to Kuroo after that, wanting an excuse to watch him, and Kuroo obliges.

“I can feel you judging me,” Kuroo tells Kenma during the game, his eyes flashing—just a moment—to meet Kenma’s.

“I’m not,” Kenma says. He hadn’t been. Kuroo isn’t particularly good at the game, but Super Smash isn’t a life skill. Kenma had been thinking about attraction, and how certain people have their own sort of gravity. Kuroo’s gravity is made up of height and the quirk of his mouth and something that feels a lot like goodness—the kind of goodness that would make him take responsibility for a stranger at a party.

You’re being ridiculous, Kenma tells himself, standing abruptly. He heads for the kitchen, disturbed by his own—what? Boldness? Certainty? Does he really want to throw himself at a stranger, especially when the stranger is a friend of Koutarou’s—someone he may not be able to avoid for the rest of his life if he ends up embarrassing himself?

In his agitation, he nearly forgets about the crowd in the kitchen. He remembers when he gets there, seeing an extremely tall guy bartend while a short guy criticizes him. Haiba and Yaku. The other two—Enno-something and Fuku-something—are watching. Enno-something was in the middle of what sounds like a rant, but they all pause when Kenma joins them.

“Hello,” Kenma says. He feels ridiculous. He doesn’t know these people, should have waited to be properly introduced—

“Bokuto’s friend!” Yaku says, smiling welcomingly. “Hello. Want something to drink? I’ll make it if you don’t trust him.” He nudges Haiba, who protests.

“I’m not picky,” Kenma says, looking up at Haiba. So tall.

“See!” Haiba says. What he’s trying to point out is lost on Kenma, who notices Enno and Fuku watching him and begins to watch them back. Quiet guys, them—Fuku more so than Enno.

“I missed your names earlier,” Kenma says, managing to make eye contact with each of them in turn for just a second. Enno reintroduces them: Ennoshita and Fukunaga.

“Ennoshita was discussing similarities between our own samurai and the Jedi,” Yaku says. His expression says he’s measuring Kenma up. “Any input?”

“Aren’t the Jedi Taoists?” Kenma offers.

“And Zen Buddhists,” Ennoshita agrees. “But what if they’d borrowed the whole feudal system instead? Jedi vassals. Wandering Jedi who have lost their lands. Might be more interesting that way.”

“More interesting, or differently interesting?” Yaku says, and something in his tone says he’s said it a hundred times before. Ennoshita’s answering smile says the same.

“Just wait,” Ennoshita says. “Asteroid Wars is going to be Japan’s biggest breakthrough into international cinema yet.”

“Asteroid Wars?” Kenma tries to keep the smile out of his voice. Ennoshita is joking, isn’t he?

Ennoshita grins, and then Haiba’s pressing a drink into Kenma’s hand. Kenma tastes it under Haiba’s expectant gaze and suppresses a flinch. Three different types of alcohol conspire to numb his tongue.

Better that way, he tells himself, not wanting his taste buds to be awake for the rest of this drink. Given the probable alcohol content of it, he’ll wait a long time before getting another.

“This is…” he thinks for a moment. “Creative.”

Haiba takes it as a compliment; Yaku looks like he’s holding back laughter. His face is full of sympathy.

“It’s nice to meet you, Kozume-kun,” Yaku says. Kenma ducks his head in acknowledgement and heads back to the living room, chugging half his drink in the hope of making it go away faster. When he gets back to the couch, though, his seat is gone; Koutarou, Akaashi and Kuroo have sprawled.

“The conquering emperor returns,” Kuroo says, looking up. Again locking eyes with him makes Kenma’s stomach jump, telling him to throw caution to the wind.

“And finds his throne gone.” Kenma gestures at his former spot.

“You can sit on me if you like,” Kuroo offers. He waves a hand at his lap, obviously joking—but Kenma decides not to take it as such.

He sits. Koutarou bursts out laughing.

“I didn’t—! I can move!” Kuroo sounds nervous, and when Kenma glances back at him he sees he’s blushing. It’s a good look on him. “I’m not actually that rude, I promise—”

“You’re dead,” Akaashi says.

“What?” Kuroo’s voice is panicked.

“Out of lives, I mean.” Akaashi nods at the screen, where Kuroo’s character has been vanquished. The rest of them are still in the game.

“Oh.” Kuroo’s silent for a moment, then he presses the controller into Kenma’s hand. “Avenge me.”

Kenma nods, trying not to look too triumphant. The whole lap-sitting thing has now passed without incident—because of Akaashi? He glances at Akaashi and sees the tiniest hint of pleasure in his expression.

He smoothed it over on purpose, Kenma thinks. Now the set-up seems logical, like he and Kuroo are a team—like sitting on the lap of someone he’s just met isn’t weird at all. Maybe it isn’t at these parties, but Kenma isn’t used to these parties. He’s not really used to parties fullstop.

He notices Kuroo’s hand twitching beside him, like he’s wondering where to put it. Does he want to touch Kenma? Is this welcome? What if he’s invading Kuroo’s space against Kuroo’s will?

No—the others all know Kuroo, and they’re sending Kuroo little knowing glances when they think Kenma isn’t looking. If Kuroo were looking for an escape, they’d give him one.

Which means he’s not looking for an escape.

The next round starts, and Kenma puts on his game face. He’s better than they are, far better, and they have no chance against him individually. He knows he’s shifting a little in Kuroo’s lap as he plays—not wholly unintentional; the smell of Kuroo is wrapping around him and killing every ounce of caution he has—but he nearly jumps when one of Kuroo’s hands curls around his hip to hold him still.

Holy shit.

If Kuroo had meant the hand to be a warning, it does the opposite. Kenma is more determined to see how far he can push him now than ever. He makes his movements more subtle, shifting with the motion of the game. It’s a farce, of course; he can sit utterly still while gaming if he wants to—but he doesn’t want to.

The hand on his hip tightens.

Kenma’s entire body is too warm, too needy. He wants to draw Kuroo aside and just—what? Have his way with him? He’s not sure how he wants Kuroo—any way sounds good—but he knows that he does. When Kuroo slides out from under him, mumbling something about needing something from upstairs, Kenma wonders if he’s gone too far.

As soon as Kuroo leaves the room, Akaashi begins to laugh quietly. “You’re ruthless,” he tells Kenma.

Kenma shrugs. His feelings are ruthless too.

“Are you gonna go after him?” Koutarou asks.

“Should I?” Kenma asks. “Do you think he wants me to? If it’s unwelcome…”

“Didn’t look unwelcome,” Kai observes. He presses his lips tight after, obviously holding back laughter.

“Do you want to?” Koutarou asks, and Kenma nods quickly. Yes. God, yes.

“Then do,” Koutarou says. He looks at Akaashi. “Right?”

Akaashi nods, and it’s all the encouragement Kenma needs. “Where—?” he says, and Akaashi gives him all the directions he needs to find Kuroo’s bedroom. He hears Kai mumble something almost resentful about Tetsurou and shivers at the sound of Kuroo’s first name. Maybe one day.

He walks up the stairs and knocks on the specified door, his heart in his throat.

“Keiji, if you’re here to laugh at me, I swear—”

The door opens, and Kuroo jumps when he sees Kenma standing there. Kuroo’s face floods with color.

“Hello,” he says, voice suddenly scratchy.

Kenma nods. “Hey.”

Kuroo doesn’t do anything more, just stands there staring, most of his body sheltered behind the door.

“Why would Akaashi be laughing at you?” Kenma asks, though he knows the answer.

Kuroo looks away. “Oh, I don’t know.” His eyes slide back to Kenma’s purposefully after a moment. “For getting overexcited because some cute first-year decided to sit on me. I mean, come on, I’m not fifteen anymore—”

Kenma pushes the door further open and steps into the room, closing the door behind him once he’s inside. He doesn’t quite have the courage to reach out, so he stands in front of Kuroo with his body flushing hot and cold, not sure what comes next.

Touch me, he thinks desperately, but they’re in some sort of stand-off, looking at each other—just looking. Kenma isn’t sure how the physical dimensions of another person could drive his mind wild with lust—Kuroo’s height, his solidity, the inches between them—but somehow they do. He can’t tell himself to calm down.

Kuroo looks nervous. “Are you this forward with everyone?”

Kenma gasps a laugh, because the thought of him being this forward ever is so surprising. By all rights none of this should be happening. “Never,” he says. “I’m never this forward with anyone. Do you want me to stop?”

Kuroo shakes his head mutely, finding Kenma’s eyes again, and this time Kenma manages to step forward, hands outstretched to touch Kuroo’s sides as he closes the distance between them. He lets his hands run down Kuroo’s body to the edge of his shirt and begins to lift it, finding smooth skin beneath. Kuroo shivers and reaches for Kenma’s face, one finger tilting it up to look at him.

“I’m a stranger to you,” he says.

Kenma arches an eyebrow. “Does that matter?”

“Not if it doesn’t to you.”

Kenma nods. He backs Kuroo into the nearest wall—it isn’t far—and lets his hands wander, encouraged by Kuroo’s overwhelmed acceptance. The look on Kuroo’s face is one of need, but he’s letting Kenma take the reins, almost as if he’s hesitant to make a false move. Does he think he’ll scare Kenma off? The hunger in his gaze stokes Kenma’s own, pushing Kenma to press them together, to claim his mouth in a harsh kiss. Kuroo’s hands slide into Kenma’s hair, deepening the angle of the kiss, taking over just a little.

Kenma presses into him, body tight with need. He remembers Kuroo in the doorway, stunned for just a moment as their eyes met. Kuroo beneath him on the couch, grasping his hip. They’ve known each other for a few hours at most, but Kenma’s head is full of him.

There’s something familiar about him, something Kenma needs to get closer to see. Closer… closer…

“Shit,” Kuroo whispers. He’s trying to move his hips back, as if that’ll keep Kenma from noticing the hard length pressing between them. “Shit.”

Kenma lets a hand drop down between them, caressing Kuroo through his jeans. Kuroo whimpers.

“Shit,” he says again. “Kenma—”

A shiver passes through Kenma. “Not Kozume-kun anymore?”

“I’ll use whatever honorific you like,” Kuroo says, somewhere between amusement and exasperation. “I had no idea…”

“No idea what?”

“No idea in general, I think.” Kuroo lets his head fall back, laughs. “God. Where did you come from? One of my teenage wet dreams? The sex kitten thing is going to kill me.”

“How soon?” Kenma asks. His hand works between them, pressing them together. His own erection throbs with need, but he wants to touch Kuroo more than he wants to touch himself. Just. He works at the top button of Kuroo’s jeans.

Soon. If you don’t—”

Kuroo’s breath hisses to a stop as Kenma manages to get his hand past two layers of clothes to Kuroo’s bare skin, cupping his erection. Kenma pushes into the back of his own cradling hand, breathing hard. He loves the feel of Kuroo’s length in his palm, silk over steel. The noises Kuroo makes are a bonus.

Abruptly, Kuroo pushes at him, and Kenma wants to resist—until he notices Kuroo’s pushing them to the bed. He reverses Kenma into it, climbing on top of him for only a moment before Kenma switches their positions.

Kenma is sitting in Kuroo’s lap again when the dust settles, Kuroo watching him breathlessly.

“Seriously, what fantasy did you crawl out of?” Kuroo asks.

Kenma huffs a laugh. “You fantasize about nineteen year-old game addicts with bad social skills?”

“If that’s what you are, yeah. Yes, definitely.”

If Kenma’s a fantasy, he might as well behave like one; he pushes Kuroo down, moving them so their erections rub together. With both of them fully clothed, it makes a lewd scene; the only point of nakedness is Kuroo’s erection emerging through the slit in his boxers, wet at the tip, the rest of him perfectly decent. Somehow it’s better that way, leaving so much of Kuroo to the imagination—while utterly exposed.

Better for now, at least. There are so many things to want, to lust after, to want to do. Will Kenma get a chance to do them?

He touches Kuroo’s cock very lightly and watches Kuroo bite his lip. “You too,” Kuroo says, looking down at the spot where they touch. His hips move slightly, encouragingly.

“Me too what?”

Kuroo gives him a look, then sits up, his hands going to Kenma’s fly. Kenma presses a hand over his mouth. Shit, shit, does Kuroo mean to—is he going to—

Kuroo stops with his hands over Kenma’s boxers, Kenma’s fly undone. Kenma can feel the pressure of his fingers, sending shivers through him. “Unless you’re shy?” Kuroo asks, and it’s not teasing. “It’s just… skin to skin is…”

He shrugs, embarrassed, and Kenma’s embarrassed too—not because of what Kuroo said, since skin to skin sounds amazing, but because the light is on, and if they did move skin to skin Kuroo would be able to see his nakedness in the same way Kenma can see Kuroo’s nakedness now. He’s never really been seen like that before, and he isn’t sure he’s ready to be.

“Don’t look?” Kenma suggests, and watches Kuroo take in a breath and hold it.

“You… really want me not to look?”

Kenma avoids his searching eyes. “Can’t show all my cards on the first meeting, right?” he says, and it’s the most ridiculous boast he’s ever made—like his body is some special thing he’s holding in reserve, good enough to savor, but Kuroo’s face says he believes it.

“First,” Kuroo repeats to himself, like a promise—first, not only. It makes something leap wildly in Kenma’s chest. “I agree to your terms.”

Kenma snorts, and doesn’t resist when Kuroo pulls his face down to meet his, their lips catching again. The kiss is urgent, reestablishing lost contact, and it helps Kenma relax as Kuroo’s hands move back to his open fly, reaching for the slit in his underwear.

This is happening. He remembers those long-fingered hands around the controller, how that sight had delighted him—and now he feels them around himself, and for a moment he loses his breath. Heat lances through his body, making him shudder. He tries to keep those shudders in, and they turn to shivers and desperation, making him cling harder to whatever he can grab—Kuroo’s clothes and hair, mostly. The way Kuroo’s hips gyrate into his makes him almost lose the will to be on top.

Almost.

He steadies his breathing through force of will, finding Kuroo’s wrists. Letting their bodies move together—god, that heat against his cock is Kuroo’s erection, he knows it, he doesn’t know how Kuroo resists the urge to look down—he pins Kuroo’s hands above him on the bed.

“I’m not gonna last,” Kuroo says in a rush. “Just so you know.”

Kenma snorts. “Is this dirty talk?”

“It is if you like low expectations. Shit, I’m—can you—”

Kenma grips between them, loosing Kuroo’s wrists, and the sound Kuroo makes says that wasn’t what he was about to suggest. The sound is involuntary, overcome. As Kuroo’s body starts to stutter, Kenma seeks out his own pleasure against him, pushing, straining, images flashing before his eyes. When he looks down at Kuroo and sees his clenched-jaw, head-tipped-back look of ecstasy—feels the way Kuroo’s hand bunches in the fabric of his shirt, like he needs an anchor and Kenma is the only possible option—he doesn’t have long left. When Kuroo’s eyes open, and there’s that immediate, gut-wrenching connection again, it’s over. Kenma buries his face in the dip of Kuroo’s collar, and Kuroo’s body wraps around Kenma as he comes.

The wave hits, and hits—and then passes.

He feels embarrassment waiting to clamp down on him, but for the moment it’s held at bay by tiredness and surprise and just a little bit of afterglow. With his face right next to Kuroo’s neck, all he can smell is Kuroo’s natural scent, and it’s warm and inviting. It makes him forget they’ve known each other for no time at all—makes him think he knows Kuroo, somehow. How could he not?

Belatedly, he realizes that Kuroo is patting his back, and he takes it as a sign of impatience. He begins to get off him, but Kuroo pulls him back down.

“Don’t leave, Kitten,” Kuroo says sleepily. Not impatient, then.

“Why?”

“If you leave, you might not come back.” Kuroo wraps his arms around Kenma and sighs like someone settling in for a nap.

Kenma considers this, wondering if the amusement he feels is at himself for falling so quickly for this sappy guy he doesn’t know—who calls him Kitten after sex—or at Kuroo for being… well, whatever he is.

“You’re about to nap?” Kenma mumbles. “And you call me Kitten?”

“You can call me,” Kuroo says, very slowly, “whatever you like.”

Kenma waits for a moment. He thinks of Kuroo’s friends calling him Tetsurou and Tetsu-chan, which didn’t seem to fit him at all first. Now, though…

“Tetsurou,” Kenma tries. The arms around him tighten.

“Completely acceptable.”

It’s the last thing Tetsurou says before falling asleep. How he can sleep while covered in sweat and come and with someone on top of him is a mystery to Kenma, and after a while Kenma extracts himself, making himself and his conquest look somewhat decent again after; he won’t leave Tetsurou with his dick out, at least. He can’t do anything about the mess they’ve made of Tetsurou’s shirt, and so he doesn’t. A quick trip to the bathroom has Kenma looking normal again, even if he’s not sure he’ll be able to feel normal again after this. For a while he considers playing phone games in Tetsurou’s room until he wakes up, but something about it is too intimate, and he’s not sure how these things work.

So he goes downstairs, despite the fact that everyone in the room looks up at him knowingly when he greets them. They’ve moved on to playing Just Dance, and Haiba is yelling as he and Kai dance a song together. Somehow, Kenma melts back into the party without awkwardness, managing to find a space on the couch next to Koutarou.

“Tetsurou?” Koutarou inquires.                                         

“Asleep,” Kenma says, and laughs when Koutarou’s eyes widen.

“Ruthless,” Akaashi repeats, their eyes meeting, and it only makes Kenma laugh more—quietly. There’s no judgment in either of them, and Kenma bats Koutarou’s grinning face away.

“This is a whole new side of you, Kenma,” Koutarou says, sounding awed.

Kenma shrugs. Maybe when he and Koutarou are alone later he’ll tell him about the weird connection he feels to Tetsurou, like they know each other, or belong together, or something cheesy like that. A part of him hopes Koutarou will tell him he’s being stupid, that what he feels is just attraction, but at the same time he knows Koutarou won’t say that. He’s a romantic.

Kenma isn’t. He doesn’t think he ever will be—but the thought of seeing Tetsurou again fills him with nervous energy nonetheless. It’s hard not to go back upstairs.

He watches the dancing for a long time, his thoughts a haze, though he pays attention when it’s Koutarou and Akaashi playing. He likes the way his friend glows around Akaashi, making his dorky dancing seem, well—less dorky. Kenma even lets Koutarou pull him up into the next round, and berates himself for it a moment later. He doesn’t like to be on display.

Still, he’s among friends, or friends-to-be, and no one can possibly outshine Koutarou on the Just Dance dance floor. As he settles into the song he even begins to enjoy himself—until he sees Tetsurou watching him in the doorway and nearly trips over his feet.

He rights himself and turns his eyes to the screen, where stylized people move in tandem with him and Koutarou. He feels supremely watched, and all the feelings from earlier come back. Attraction, nervousness, awareness. Sex hasn’t helped dull his emotions at all, it turns out, and neither has that awful drink.

It makes him even more nervous, the thought that this might not be something that goes away. Nervous—and just a little excited.

At long last, the song ends. Kenma looks for Tetsurou, heart pounding in his throat, and realizes he’s moved. He turns around and spots him near the kitchen, hands in his pockets. Kenma remembers his warmth against him, his arms around him… and wonders how the space of half an hour could make Tetsurou look so distant and strange again after that kind of closeness.

Kenma walks over, because he’s not sure how not to. At least most people are watching the dancing, sprawled about the room.

“Hey,” Kenma says, barely able to meet Tetsurou’s eyes. His gaze settles on Tetsurou’s collarbones instead, and he notices he’s wearing a different shirt. Something about Tetsurou having to change shirts because of him makes Kenma feel… not powerful, exactly, but something intoxicating.

“Hey.” Tetsurou’s voice is gruff, and Kenma looks up. Tetsurou avoids his glance.

He’s embarrassed? Why? How?

They watch the game in mutual silence for a long moment. Kenma wonders what he’s meant to do. Apologize? But for what? Real nervousness sets in at the thought that he messed something up by leaving earlier. Was he meant to wait? Or wake Tetsurou? That seemed a lot more intrusive than just leaving.

“Did I do something—” Kenma starts at the same time as Tetsurou says “I can’t believe I—”

They both stop. “You first,” Kenma says. Tetsurou groans.

“I can’t believe I fell asleep,” he says in hushed tones, like it’s a dark secret. Kenma quirks an eyebrow.

“That’s normal, isn’t it?”

Tetsurou’s voice goes from morose to hopeful. “You weren’t insulted?”

“Isn’t it more of a compliment?”

Tetsurou stares at him like he can’t make up his mind, and it’s at that moment that Kai yells at them, “None of us are trying to eavesdrop, just so you know.”

Kenma glances at the sprawl of people on and around the couch, and hears annoyed shushing and accusations of ‘you ruin everything, Kai’. People were trying to eavesdrop, then.

“Kai’s a good friend,” Tetsurou says in a lowered voice, seeming amused. He looks at Kenma again and moves just a little closer, letting the music from the game drown them out.

“So to be clear—you’re not insulted, and you’re not going to avoid me forever after this?” he says, a note of pleading in his hushed voice.

Avoid Tetsurou? Kenma doesn’t think his body would forgive him. It’s vibrating again, telling him the interlude in the bedroom earlier was just a first course. Kenma would tell Tetsurou so if he knew how to say it without embarrassing himself, but he doesn’t get the chance; Tetsurou isn’t done talking.

“Because I like you, I think—what I know about you, at least—and if you’d let me I think I could definitely leave a better impression some other time, you know, if I was prepared—I wasn’t prepared today at all—”

Kenma laughs silently, a hand over his mouth. Tetsurou smiles at him weakly, and watches as Kenma reaches for his hand.

“Shut up,” Kenma says, though Tetsurou’s babbling has left him feeling warm and elated. He gestures at the game, tugs at Tetsurou’s hand. The smile on his face feels wider than his usual. “Dance with me.”

Tetsurou nods wordlessly and lets Kenma pull him over to the group. His hand tightens just a little around Kenma’s just before it’s time to let go.

Kenma presses back.