The tap in Yahaba’s bathroom is still broken, has been since they were in their second year and tried to fix it themselves on one particularly boring weekend last spring, the first time Kyoutani came over. They only made the small problem worse and now the water pressure changes between too weak and suddenly too strong, too harsh for Kyoutani’s fingers underneath it. He wonders if Yahaba got in trouble for it, but Yahaba never talks about his family, never invites his teammates over when his parents are home.
He hasn’t expected his father to come home early.
The banging on the door doesn’t stop, although the pauses between each punch are getting longer. More insults are shouted from the hall, but at this point Kyoutani’s ears hurt so much he cannot tell if they’re meant for him or Yahaba. He silently hopes they are his and not Yahaba’s – Kyoutani can take them, has heard them all, has heard worse.
The skin of Kyoutani’s hands is bright red now, yet he doesn’t stop scrubbing them clean, as if the water could wash away his thoughts. Yahaba whispers his name from somewhere behind him, but Kyoutani can’t bring himself to look at him, not when he barely can stand looking at himself in the small mirror on the pastel blue wall.
At the beginning of their third year, when Yahaba officially became a captain, he decided he wanted Kyoutani – for some weird reason – to be his vice-captain. Kyoutani questioned it back then; when it was just them left alone in the gym, but Yahaba only grinned at him and said he would understand it sooner or later. Kyoutani feels like the option ‘sooner’ has already expired and yet he is not even a step closer to the answer.
It’s that grin and the face of Yahaba’s father that keep flashing in his mind each time he closes his eyes. He scrubs harder.
It’s quiet, Kyoutani realises. Yahaba’s father has given up on banging on the bathroom door after, how long has it even been?
He gazes at Yahaba curled on the floor by the bathtub, dressed in sweatpants and terribly old hoodie. The dark gray fabric covers most of his palms under his chin, the bony fingers of a setter barely peeking out and his stupidly long legs bent in front of him. Kyoutani stops the water and slides down on the cold floor as well, facing Yahaba.
“I’m sorry,” Yahaba mutters and turns his head slightly to look up at Kyoutani, his eyes tired. There is something wrong about the way his lips curl up, making Kyoutani’s chest tighten uncomfortably.
“Shut up,” Kyoutani replies with a frown.
Yahaba chuckles; still a little off, and reaches out to flick Kyoutani’s forehead. The ugly hoodie slips down his shoulder and Kyoutani catches a glimpse a bruise on his pale skin, one that couldn’t be caused by volleyball. It isn’t the first one, not even a second; Kyoutani has seen many like this one in the changing room when it was just him and Yahaba, but he’s never thought about it long enough to put one and one together. He feels like a poor excuse of a friend, hates that Yahaba has chosen him out of all people.
Cramped space and locked door aren’t a big help when it comes to thinking of a solution, but the one that Yahaba says out loud sounds the best. It takes not even a second for Kyoutani to reply.
It is four in the morning.
Kyoutani punches his own palm and squeezes his fist, bringing his joined hands in front of his mouth in case his breathing is too loud, loud enough to wake his parents up.
He rushes around the room and throws things into his bag, but he doesn’t really know what to pack. The lamp turned on provides only the necessary light, so when he finds a piece of paper and a pen, he has to stand right next to it. What is he even supposed to write? Apology, perhaps, but if Kyoutani’s been taught anything in his life, it’s that men don’t settle things with words. The stronger wins, the weaker loses. The stronger protects weaker.
He settles for a simple ‘I’m sorry x ’, because that’s all he can say. For a moment, he wonders what would his mother tell him, but then he hears Yahaba’s quiet call of his name outside and the thought is pushed in the back of his brain.
Kyoutani inhales deeply, still desperate to calm his unsteady breaths as he turns the light off, places the note on his bed and with crossed heart walks to the window. Yahaba is standing right by the wall of the house; in that old hoodie, but at least he’s wearing his black jeans with it.
“I will be there in a minute.”
He’s already stepping away when Yahaba protests, angry whispering echoing in the night. “What, no! Just climb out of the window, you are terribly clumsy when you try to be quiet!”
Kyoutani opens his mouth and closes it again, deciding to give Yahaba a piece of mind later as he pokes his head out again. “How am I supposed to do that?!”
Yahaba grins up at him. “Just do, I will catch you if you fall!”
Kyoutani stares down at him, looking so fragile and breakable compared to Kyoutani. “That is a terrible idea,” he mutters and throws his bag out first. Yahaba startles and jumps aside, the bag landing on the ground with a thump he hopes isn’t too loud.
“Terrible idea,” Kyoutani repeats, counting the feet separating him and Yahaba.
“Do you trust me?”
Kyoutani takes a deep breath and forces his body out of the small window. However, he stays hanging there, his hands clutching the windowsill and refusing to let go.
“Kyoutani, I’ve got you, really,” Yahaba reassures him, the same tone he used to have when he talked to the team after a loss. “I won’t let you get hurt.”
It still takes good few seconds before Kyoutani’s body finally accepts the fate and his fists loosen. There’s a moment of panic and then there’s something soft. He opens his eyes – when did he even close them – and finds two arms tight around his waist and a dark sky above. Yahaba did catch him, he realises.
“Oh my god,” Kyoutani exhales loudly and lets his head rest back against what he guesses is Yahaba’s collarbone. His heart is beating ten times faster than is normal, he’s certain. “You sure are a crazy bastard.”
He can feel Yahaba’s chest shake when he chuckles underneath him. He realises it probably must be hard on his lungs with the extra weight on him, so he rolls over to lie by Yahaba’s side. When he turns his head, Yahaba is already looking at him, his expression difficult to read. One of his arms is still laid on Kyoutani’s stomach. “I told you I got you.”
“This is what you call catching someone?” Kyoutani chokes out and he swears he will go get tests for asthma done one day.
“You’re not the one of the ground, so shut up,” Yahaba shoots back. Kyoutani feels like he’s a kid again. “Also, not my fault you’re fat.”
Offended, Kyoutani throws Yahaba’s arm of himself and jumps to his feet again. He smoothes down his sweater while Yahaba continues lying on the ground until Kyoutani grabs his hand and pulls him up as well.
“This is a great idea,” Yahaba says; just to have a last word and he grins like he always does when he accomplishes his goal. Kyoutani secretly likes this grin.
“What are we going to do then, genius?”
“Take the first bus. Go wherever it takes us and so on,” Yahaba skips, skips, ahead of him to the fence, swaying his arms and he looks the happiest in the last three months. Kyoutani can’t help but smile a little when he’s sure Yahaba cannot see him.
“Can’t we just walk out like normal people?” Kyoutani calls after him, stealing last glance on his house before he turns to focus on Yahaba. All he gets is a ‘no!’ and then Yahaba is climbing over, suspicious ‘ow’ coming soon after. Kyoutani chuckles, grabs their bags and jogs to the fence.
He finds Yahaba standing on the sidewalk, rubbing his butt. “You’re getting old,” Kyoutani tells him and climbs over as well.
The first bus out of the town leaves in about two hours, so they sit on one of the benches outside. It’s not that cold anymore, but Yahaba still bitches about how this was not how he’d imagined a spring. Kyoutani could say the same thing – two girls arrive soon after them and Kyoutani feels like he and Yahaba have renegades written on their foreheads.
Because Yahaba falls asleep and Kyoutani is bored, he secretly watches the other pair, out of pure curiosity. He observes the way they sit close together, touching in the most innocent way, and for a moment it reminds Kyoutani of him and his younger brother, years and years ago.
They have grown up together, through scratched knees and elbows, through bad grades and broken toys, through being grounded and sneaking around. Always together - from sharing food to sharing bed during thunderstorms.
However, they grew and grew and suddenly feeding each other was weird, the bed was too small for them to lie without touching. Before they knew it, what their mother called cute when they were five and seven became too girly three years later.
Kyoutani can’t quite recall the point when it all became wrong; perhaps it was when they realised boys around them hadn’t done such things; they hadn’t cuddled and they hadn’t kissed each other’s little wounds – that’s what girls did, and they were boys. Boys are meant to be manly and take care of their families, not cry in each other’s embrace.
By the time Kyoutani turned sixteen, it was as the gentleness between them have never existed. Kyoutani has never questioned it, but he really wants to right now, because he’s dizzy as Yahaba’s head falls onto his shoulder and it’s rather weird than nice.
The bus comes sooner than they expected. Kyoutani goes to shake Yahaba awake when he changes his mind and strokes his hair instead. At first, he isn’t sure what he’s doing, until he starts to notice how soft Yahaba’s hair is – even if it looks like a mess, Kyoutani’s fingers slide through the light strands easily and – yeah, it’s not that bad.
Yahaba blinks up at him, once, twice, and Kyoutani backs up, clearing his throat. He gets up so fast that Yahaba almost falls onto the bench; Kyoutani tries not to let the guilt get to him as he picks up their bags from the pavement. “The bus,” he says, following the two girls as he quietly curses them for giving him stupid ideas.
“And here I thought you would be nice for once, asshole!” Yahaba shouts behind him, his voice still sleepy.
Kyoutani only allows himself to let his guard down again when they’re seated in the backseats of the bus, Yahaba sitting by the window as he always does.
Yahaba is truly not a morning person; just then, two hours after their departure, he realises that he’s still in that terrible hoodie and he cannot be seen like this. Kyoutani mocks him, but the entire mood for laughter leaves him when he’s forced to change his sweater for Yahaba’s old hoodie. It’s slightly bigger on him than it is on Yahaba, damnit, and Yahaba looks awfully pleased as he curls up in his seat, wearing Kyoutani’s favourite sweater, and tells him he’s going back to sleep.
Kyoutani gets his revenge when they leave the city. The road becomes old and bumpy and Yahaba’s head keeps hitting the window. Truth to be told, it’s funny the first two times and by the third one, sympathy creeps into Kyoutani’s heart and he gently pulls Yahaba’s battered head onto his shoulder so he sleeps fine. It takes seconds for Yahaba to cling onto him like a monkey, squeezing his body against Kyoutani’s and throwing his limbs over him. Kyoutani’s whole being warms up and while it’s too much at first, it becomes something peaceful when he lets himself relax. With a sigh he wraps his arm around Yahaba’s shoulders, holding him in place as the bus continues shaking them.
And if Kyoutani catches a fond smile from the blonde girl watching them, he pointedly ignores it.
Kyoutani knows they aren’t as close as they make it look. Perhaps they should be, but teammates share strategies, not childish dreams and fantasies. ‘It’s better to act like it doesn’t matter than show your weakness,’ Yahaba always says with a laugh and Kyoutani can only agree, because he himself pretends they know each other when they sit in a fast food restaurant and Yahaba – bastard - steals his fries. But he catches himself gazing at Yahaba for a little too long, catches himself staring at their reflections on the window and wondering what will happen when another distance, countable in miles, will be added between them in not even two weeks.
He can’t figure Yahaba out no matter how much he tries.
During their walk back to the bus stop when Yahaba insists that he will carry his bag alone. ‘Men should carry their things themselves,’ he says. Kyoutani rolls his eyes at the statement and ignores it; if Yahaba did as much as catch Kyoutani with his own body, Kyoutani can do as much as carry Yahaba’s bag. That’s what friends should do, he thinks, but for some reason the words won’t leave his mouth.
They miss the late afternoon bus.
“How long do we have to wait for the next one then?”
“I don’t know! At least two hours!” Yahaba throws his arms up, looking around the deserted bus stop. He groans, louder than necessary, and squats down, burying his face into the fabric of his jeans. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles, flapping his arms by his sides.
If any anger has built up in Kyoutani, it’s now gone at the sight of Yahaba curled up on the dirty pavement. He huffs and drops their bags on the ground, then sits next to Yahaba on the kerbstone. “Don’t,” he says and leans down to peek at Yahaba’s face. “In the worst case, we will sleep in the bus and save some money, right?”
“People should give you more credit for your brain,” Yahaba mutters.
“It will be enough if you do.”
“You wish,” Yahaba chuckles and turns his head, his cheek resting against his thigh as he looks at Kyoutani with a small smile.
He remembers his brother.
Though a little hesitant, Kyoutani gently - or the least roughly he is capable - pats Yahaba’s hair, because the feel of it is already familiar and not as scary. He hopes it’s a gesture of assurance they are in this together rather than freaking Yahaba out. Yahaba’s eyes go comically wide and his whole body tenses up; Kyoutani is just about to move away when Yahaba relaxes again. He then closes his eyes and whispers simple thanks, the tiniest smile on his lips as they sit on the pavement and the sun sets.
During school trips, Yahaba would never offer a seat by the window, because there is something magical about watching the scenery change, especially during the night when the stars can be seen. Yahaba, Kyoutani’s former teammate, wouldn’t give this chance up even if he had to physically fight for it. So while Kyoutani’s cheek is resting against the cold glass and he stares up at the moon on the dark sky, Yahaba by his side, he can’t help but go back to his sceptical thoughts about the thing between them.
Not much can be hidden between four walls, two beds and one nightstand, all too close together. It is a cheap room; it doesn’t even have its own bathroom, but they are staying there only because their bodies are sore from the hours and hours of sitting in an old bus. They are hiding here and yet not much can be hidden here; the lack of distractions brings them back to the reality where they can no longer ignore their phones somewhere in their bags, filling with calls and worried messages.
Kyoutani feels like he’s going to explode any minute now with how the guilt is tickling his skin from the inside.
It is easy to forget when they’re in the town and Yahaba does impressions of the people they know. It is easy to forget when they’re squeezed together on the bus seats and Yahaba judges Kyoutani’s taste in music. But it’s hard not to remember when Yahaba pulls off the sweater and Kyoutani is reminded of the bruise again, is reminded that no matter how much they both would like to call this ‘the last trip as classmates’, it isn’t that simple.
“How many calls do you have?” Yahaba asks into the silence. The sun shining through the tiny window behind him creates a halo on the top of his head, highlighting all the stands of hair that won’t stay where he wants them too. Most of them fall down his forehead and Kyoutani cannot see his face clearly when he’s standing between the two beds.
“You’re avoiding the real topic,” Kyoutani states through gritted teeth.
“I thought you wouldn’t notice,” Yahaba replies nonchalantly, his eyes glued on the screen on his phone. “How many messages then?”
The clock ticks on the wall annoyingly loud. Yahaba looks annoyingly calm. Kyoutani groans and snatches the phone out of his hands, tossing it on the clean sheets of his bed. “Asshole!”
Yahaba looks up at him then, his expression guarded and unreadable. He looks sixteen again, somehow, and Kyoutani forgets what he wanted to say.
He knows they will go back – they will have to - but for now, that is unthinkable. Yahaba is tired, saved and perhaps stolen money in his pocket and goodbye easy on his tongue. His mind is troubled and Kyoutani can’t force himself to leave him in this alone. He barely remembers the situation that brought them here, but he remembers Yahaba’s shaky hand on his shoulder when Kyoutani stepped between him and his father, fists clenched by his sides.
So, maybe Kyoutani would want to be there for Yahaba; would want to support him, if Yahaba just told him what was wrong. He hates the way Yahaba comes to him for comfort yet won’t open up, slipping away before Kyoutani can get it out of him. How can Kyoutani meet Yahaba halfway when he always takes two steps back instead and leaves Kyoutani hanging, feeling stupid and vulnerable? He wishes he was taught how to deal with that instead of being told that boys don’t cry.
He slumps down on the floor, back pressed against Yahaba’s bed and head titled back, laying on the blanked beside Yahaba’s thigh. “I’m here,” he chokes out, not sure if Yahaba can even hear him. He barely recognizes his own voice.
“I know,” Yahaba whispers back and he slides down until he’s sitting next to Kyoutani, pressed together from the shoulder to the foot. “You’re all wrinkly again,” he reaches out, running his thumb over Kyoutani’s forehead.
“You are making me all wrinkly,” Kyoutani huffs, even if his voice lacks venom, and catches his hand.
Yahaba lets out a small chuckle beside him and his hand goes limp in Kyoutani’s grip as Kyoutani holds their hands up, observing Yahaba’s bony fingers to distract himself from the terrifying thought of liking the touch.
“I don’t want to grow up,” Yahaba says, like it’s a relief to have the words out of his throat. He turns his head to the side, the room filling with the sound of the sheets rustling and Yahaba laughing, a little breathlessly.
Kyoutani doesn’t really need to ask why. He almost unwillingly frees their hands, looking back at Yahaba. “Yeah.”
Yahaba then talks about volleyball and the interesting place he would like to visit. His eyes shine as they wander around the room, focusing on different things as he forms his thoughts into sentences, and Kyoutani has to bite on his bottom lip to hide his stupid smile. Somewhere along the line, Yahaba settles his head against Kyoutani’s shoulder without Kyoutani noticing for long minutes, because he’s too absorbed in all the information Yahaba is willing to share. After all, not much can be hidden here.
And if later that day Kyoutani goes to sleep strangely at peace, he’s positive that at least he’s not the only one.
Kyoutani wakes up in a cold and empty room. It takes him a moment to realise the bed isn’t his, the room isn’t his and Yahaba is nowhere to be seen. What’s left of him is Kyoutani’s sweater, neatly folded on the nightstand between their beds. He sits up, immediately regretting it when the blanket falls down his shoulders and reveals his chest to the cool air. He pushes it back up, pinching it between his chin and chest as he reaches out for his phone. The 136 missed calls make the phone heavier and he ends up just dropping it on his lap, too afraid to open any of the text messages, too scared of the consequences.
Yahaba walks in not much later, dropping a paper bag on Kyoutani’s blanket along with a greeting. When Kyoutani shows no effort to look inside, or move at all, he sighs and slumps beside Kyoutani’s legs. “I bought breakfast.”
Kyoutani nods and gazes at Yahaba’s bed, perfectly made. Yahaba isn’t a morning person – he must be awake for hours now.
Yahaba pulls out a donut out of the bag, eating half of it in one bite. Kyoutani goes to ask about it, but Yahaba answers before he can form the question. “I just felt like having something sweet. If you don’t like them, go buy your own food.”
Kyoutani rolls his eyes and mutters how Yahaba will get fat under his breath, but he stuffs his stomach as well. When the bag is emptied, Yahaba lies down, his back arched where Kyoutani’s legs are under the blanket; it must be pretty uncomfortable, but he doesn’t complain.
He is almost asleep again when Yahaba tugs on his sleeve and waves his phone in front of Kyoutani’s face.
“What exactly am I looking at right now?” Kyoutani chews on his bottom lip as he stares down on the phone screen.
“That’s me,” Yahaba says. “With a beard.”
Kyoutani doesn’t recall the last time he’s laughed so hard. God, he even tears up and slaps his thigh. Yahaba chuckles and before Kyoutani registers it, he’s sitting beside him. He obviously doesn’t find the picture as hilarious, but he’s the kind of person who has to laugh when someone else does – and soon they both are a mess.
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen!” Kyoutani snatches the phone away from Yahaba, hiccupping, to observe the photo closely. He hears something that he guesses is Yahaba’s head hitting the wall. When turns to him, their faces are way too close and all the laughter is gone. Kyoutani’s eyes fall on the curve of Yahaba’s lips before he gains control of himself again and pointedly stares ahead.
“Are you okay?” he mumbles.
“Yeah,” Yahaba sighs and his head falls onto Kyoutani’s shoulder almost naturally. Even though it startles Kyoutani, it isn’t anywhere bad. He can feel Yahaba’s cold cheek though; he decides to be at least a decent human being. So, instead of telling Yahaba to get into his own bed, he tugs the duvet from underneath him, which would be much easier if the said person actually helped and lifted their heavy ass, and throws it over him, as casually as he can. Yahaba doesn’t say anything, but he shifts a little and hums against Kyoutani’s shoulder; Kyoutani takes that as a thanks.
Yahaba goes through more filters without bothering to take the phone back into his own hands and Kyoutani quietly watches him trying them, huffing a laugh time from time. Their fingers are dangerously close to touching, but Yahaba is careful. It makes Kyoutani curious if anything. One slight movement and Yahaba’s index finger brushes against the tips of Kyoutani’s fingers by the edge of the phone. Yahaba freezes for a second, but then he’s giving up on being careful and his hand covers Kyoutani’s as he drags his thumb over the display.
He stops at the beard filter again and forces Kyoutani to hold his hand higher so the front camera can catch his face. It would be bad enough with Kyoutani’s messy hair and sleepy eyes, but the fake beard just take the ridiculousness to the next level. Yahaba starts laughing first this time, his hand shaking on top of Kyoutani’s.
“What’s so funny, asshole?!”
Yahaba doesn’t seem to be able to form words; he just laughs until Kyoutani can’t hold the scowl on his face anymore and joins him. Yahaba then proclaims that they need a photo like this, and Kyoutani finds it hard to say no. He isn’t sure who looks worse with a beard, but they take a picture together and Yahaba even saves it. Kyoutani almost asks him to send him the photo, but he stops himself and throws the thought into an imaginary trash bin in his mind.
Before noon, Yahaba decides to attempt to take a shower in the one bathroom for the whole floor, which Kyoutani recognizes as brave. If he successes, he might even consider not calling him a princess anymore.
He is cold when Yahaba gets up from his bed and lonely when he’s alone for more than ten minutes for the first time in two days.
Once they get out of the hotel room, Kyoutani forgets about his phone completely again. In his defence, he has to pay attention to everything that Yahaba is saying, because otherwise he slips insults into his sentences and Kyoutani ends up nodding along. Yahaba then laughs like an idiot, like it’s the most hilarious thing in the whole universe. He also has to keep an eye on his former captain who would definitely get lost in a crowd while they’re passing through a marker. He fails this task miserably.
One second, he is looking at cool handmade bracelets and the next Yahaba is freaking gone. Not exactly gone, because Kyoutani finds him few feet away, staring at bunch of baseball caps with what could be called sparkly eyes.
Kyoutani just stands nearby for while, watches Yahaba tap his fingers against the wooden board under the goods. The wind keeps messing his hair up, but he doesn’t seem to care as much as he would if they were back home where people know him. It makes Kyoutani wish, for a brief moment, they were second years again; even the beginning of their third year would be fine – just to have a little more time, a little better circumstances to get to know each other. Maybe the second time around, Kyoutani would laugh at Yahaba’s jokes even though they are stupid and maybe Yahaba would remember the name of Kyoutani’s dog. Perhaps they wouldn’t fight after their last high school match and perhaps Yahaba would tell Kyoutani how his father gets aggressive when he drinks.
But they only have a week left and Kyoutani tries not to think about it much.
“Found something?” he pokes Yahaba’s side.
Yahaba startles – that’s what he gets for running off – and steps back, waving his hand in an annoying way that reminds Kyoutani of Oikawa. “No, not really.”
“Lies,” Kyoutani deadpans as he walks closer. “Which one?”
Yahaba shakes head and punches his shoulder, for no reason really. “Let’s go,” he says, but it sounds more like a question, anxious one.
Kyoutani grabs his wrist before he’s out of reach and tugs, which Yahaba doesn’t expect and ends up crashing into Kyoutani. He hisses and Kyoutani loosens his grip as quickly as humanly possible. Yahaba’s free hand presses against Kyoutani’s chest, fingers right underneath his collarbones, and he stares at Kyoutani with that unreadable expression again, just like so many times before that Kyoutani couldn’t count them all even if he tried. It’s almost like he’s having some sort of an inner fight with himself.
Yahaba leans closer like he’s going to head-butt him; Kyoutani has already experienced it and honestly, all he can do is scrunch his face up and wait. Wait for nothing. Instead, Yahaba pushes against Kyoutani’s chest so harshly stumbles back and meanwhile Yahaba shakes his hand off, walking away without a word.
Slightly dazed, Kyoutani gazes down at the baseball caps. It only takes him a second to understand, but many more to organize his thoughts and then finally; take out his wallet and buy the one Yahaba has picked up and then messily put back.
He has to run to catch up and when he does, Yahaba ignores him.
The situation where they are alone on a bus stop and don’t know what to say is all too familiar by now. This time though, they aren’t filled with adrenaline, they aren’t frustrated because of minor inconvenience. There’s something more in the air, something big, and Kyoutani sucks at the word games, sucks at the whole talking thing. Still, he can’t sit like that any longer.
He pokes Yahaba’s rips as long as it takes till he turns to him and Kyoutani waves the cap between them.
“It’s pink,” Yahaba says, like Kyoutani didn’t notice.
“Yeah. It also has a cactus on it.”
“I’m a guy.”
“Yes and I bought it ‘cause you liked it and it probably will go well with your skin tone or some other shit I don’t understand.”
Before Yahaba can react, he places the cap on top of his stupidly soft hair. They stare at each other for a second or two; Kyoutani doesn’t know what to expect till Yahaba adjusts it to sit more comfortably on his head and Kyoutani’s heart does something he is unsure how to describe.
“Does it?” Yahaba speaks up after at least an hour of silent treatment, teasing tone back in his voice. He even has the nerve to pose, hands framing his face as he tilts his head.
“I don’t fucking know,” Kyoutani mutters. “I just heard Oikawa saying something like that.”
Yahaba laughs. “Sure you did.”
Kyoutani simply shows him his middle finger and ignores the urge to watch him.
The bus driver eyes them suspiciously as Yahaba buys their tickets and Kyoutani drags their bags behind him, but he doesn’t say anything, which Kyoutani is grateful for. Yahaba takes the spot by the window and it somehow calms Kyoutani down – it’s the Yahaba he knows. They both have their headphones in, at least until Yahaba’s phone dies and he keeps nudging Kyoutani’s pinkie with his own. Kyoutani then shows mercy and lends him one of his own headphones, under the condition that he chooses the music. Yahaba doesn’t protest that much; just takes the opportunity to use Kyoutani as his pillow once more. Kyoutani tries to be annoyed, but he’s tired and cold and Yahaba leaning on him provides enough warmth for him to forget everything beside the music, linking his pinkie with Yahaba’s as he falls asleep.
(Just so he stops bothering Kyoutani.)
Their next room is more expensive than the previous one; it even has its own tiny bathroom. They’re starting be a little short on cash, though, because Yahaba had to pull out a credit card that Kyoutani secretly hopes is his.
Their beds are not even two feet apart and Kyoutani’s chest is tighter than it ever has been before any match, any important exam. The air in the room is too thick, Kyoutani’s lungs don’t work properly and he has to hide in the bathroom before Yahaba notices.
It’s been three days and just then he finally opens the messages filling up in his phone, from his mother, from his father, but –what surprises him the most- from his brother as well. Unlike those from his parents, it’s a single text, just one, sent shortly before 7pm. Kyoutani remembers that as kids they used to watch one animated show together at that hour, each Saturday. The memory feels so distant now.
Ken, I don’t know if you even read these, but if you do, stay safe wherever you are
The thump of the phone hitting the wall is satisfying only until he hears Yahaba calling him. Kyoutani groans and bites his lip so hard it hurts, just to swallow all his sobs.
“Kyoutani? I’m coming in,” is all the warning he gets before Yahaba practically storms inside, giving Kyoutani barely seconds to let the water run because he said he was going to brush his teeth ten minutes ago.
Yahaba just stands beside him and wordlessly squeezes some toothpaste onto Kyoutani’s toothbrush when he lets it under the water for long enough. Kyoutani is aware of Yahaba staring at him, but he refuses to meet his gaze when he feels the hot tears falling down his face and he cannot bring himself to care enough to do anything. He gazes ahead at the blank wall where a mirror should be and perhaps was, long time ago.
He turns his head only when he hears footsteps and catches Yahaba picking up his phone from the floor, carefully putting it back together after the battery fell out. He then takes place by Kyoutani’s left side again, leaning into him and –he has to bend his knees a little for this and normally Kyoutani would be furious because of such mockery – lies his head on Kyoutani’s shoulder. Kyoutani almost wants to laugh; the idea of Yahaba trying to soothe him is somehow ridiculous. However, he gets the message and it is now clear that so did Yahaba on that bus stop two days ago.
He wraps his left arm around Yahaba and rests his elbow on his shoulder while he runs his fingers through the stupidly soft hair. Yahaba hums, most likely in approval, against his neck, making Kyoutani shiver. From there it goes downhill, because Yahaba discovers that Kyoutani’s neck is ticklish and he blows raspberries against his skin until Kyoutani finally wipes his eyes and chuckles, his throat a little rough.
It turns out that the heating is broken and the walls are freaking cold. It explains why the room was this cheap even though it has the bathroom. After good half an hour of being shivering even under the cover, Kyoutani is fed up.
“What are you doing?”
“Pushing my bed away from the fucking wall,” Kyoutani replies, kind of busy with the said task.
“Fine, me too.”
“What? There isn’t enough space for that.”
“Then our beds will be joined, I don’t care.”
“Do you want to freeze?”
“Then it isn’t.”
Kyoutani groans and mutters under his breath, but he helps Yahaba, who is so sleepy he keeps tripping over his own feet, to move his bed to the middle of the room where it meets Kyoutani’s. It is kind of cute, Kyoutani thinks when he tries not to laugh as Yahaba tangles himself in the sheet that has fallen onto the floor.
The room is a freezing hell the next morning. Kyoutani wakes up first; Yahaba would probably sleep through a whole war once he actually falls asleep, and he swears he can see his breath. Said sleeping beauty next to him isn’t much better, shaking and clutching his duvet. Although Kyoutani has literally no desire to get up from his at least a little warmed up bed, he decides to repay Yahaba’s favour and buy them some breakfast. He is also kind of sick from the fast food they keep having for lunch and dinner, but neither of them can cook and it was a mutual agreement to try spending as little as they could on food.
So he leaves the warmth of his covers and just to be a better person, he throws his duvet over Yahaba before he leaves.
He doesn’t exactly rush; he stops in the park for a morning run that he’s been skipping and he ends up playing with the dog who thinks Kyoutani wants to chase it, so it’s no big surprise that he comes back two hours later and Yahaba is actually awake.
“I think I’m getting ill,” is the first thing he says when Kyoutani opens the door. Kyoutani barely sees him in the mess of duvets and pillows that he’s buried under.
“You will be fine, I’ve got food and tea for us to make.”
“I mean it,” Yahaba pouts and throws one of the pillows on Kyoutani.
Kyoutani catches it just to toss it back as he places the bag on the nightstand. His hoodie, now sweaty because of the running, comes off and it turns out to be a terrible idea. He isn’t sure if it’s possible, but the room is still much cooler than outside. That said; Yahaba could be getting ill, which wouldn’t be good for either of them. At least he’s bought the tea, Kyoutani thinks.
The back of his head is hit by something suspiciously soft. “Are you starting a fight?”
He gets no reply, only another pillow flying by Kyoutani’s head, which gives him the perfect opportunity to both distract and attack.
“And you’re supposed to be a setter?!” he calls the same moment he jumps on the bed and bangs the stupid pillow against Yahaba’s stupid face. Needless to say, Yahaba fights back like he always does, as sneaky as ever.
He surrenders only when Kyoutani pushes him back onto the mattress, pillows pressed against his chest and most of Kyoutani’s weight on it. He is a mess by then; breathing heavy from shouting and laughing, hair everywhere and Kyoutani realises he likes it more than when it’s neatly brushed. It makes him look a little more approachable.
He reaches out and places a palm onto Yahaba’s forehead to check if he has high temperature by any chance – he doesn’t. Kyoutani sighs in relief and his hand slides down Yahaba’s face, stopping on his cheek when Yahaba’s fingers gently wrap around his wrist. Kyoutani also realises that he kind of likes Yahaba when he isn’t too whiny or sassy and the way his skin feels under Kyoutani’s touch.
Which is stupid, really.
“You don’t have a fever,” he says and pulls his hand away. He can’t bring himself to move away completely yet, so he lies on his back and rests his head on the pillow still on Yahaba’s chest.
“Thanks,” Yahaba sighs and his arms sneak around Kyoutani’s neck. “You know I could strangle you right now?”
“I dare you,” Kyoutani hums.
“I totally could.”
Yahaba doesn’t say anything to that, but Kyoutani can feel him shift and draw patterns above Kyoutani’s heart.
They finally get off the bed to go make the damn tea about an hour later. Yahaba refuses to put on his shoes – because they are too cold – so he is now padding down the hall in his socks, which is for some reason hilarious to Kyoutani, who walks few steps behind him just to watch him and laugh. Luckily for them, the little kitchen provided for the accommodated is empty by the time they find it.
Yahaba is very sceptical about Kyoutani’s skills when it comes to making tea (what skills are even required for that?) and takes it upon himself to do it. Kyoutani doesn’t protest in the slightest; he jumps on the counter and lets Yahaba do whatever he wants, humming a melody that has stuck in his head under his breath.
“You know,” Yahaba says after he turns the kettle on, “You are much softer than you look.”
Kyoutani got too used to Yahaba’s nonsense during these past three days. He has this strange tendency to say the first thing on his mind when there is a silence that needs to be filled in his eyes. Thanks to that, Kyoutani now knows that he’s never actually seen his own face but only reflections of it. There is always something touching him (this one messed him up badly) and he became aware of himself blinking for good hour before Yahaba managed to distract him with more disturbing facts and random thoughts. His favourite one so far is that for aliens, people would be aliens.
“Are you calling me fat again?”
“No!” Yahaba calls out like he was just accused of the worst crime. “I mean, you look much tougher than you are.”
“Explain?” Kyoutani asks and tries really hard not to be offended.
He sighs and shakes his head, adding tons of sugar into one of the mugs he’s already prepared. Kyoutani wonders how his teeth can still be this white. “Like, your phone wallpaper is a photo of your dog.“
“Her name is-“
“Ika, I know. It’s kinda weird name if you ask me, but - your dog, your choices, am I right?“
Kyoutani is too stunned that he actually remembers, so he just watches Yahaba tiptoeing around to warm up and listens to his rambling until he gets to talking about being a captain and, much to Kyoutani’s displeasure, Oikawa.
“You stayed in touch with him?” he asks as Yahaba hands him the mug while sipping from his own.
“Yeah, we are texting sometimes.”
“About what, which conditioner to use and how to be the prettiest guy around?” Kyoutani huffs. He doesn’t even know why he’s annoyed that Yahaba talks with their former teammate; he already knew that Yahaba has always respected him way too much for Kyoutani’s liking.
Yahaba looks at him with narrowed eyes, gaze as sharp as when he’s on the court. It occurs to Kyoutani with a painful sting in chest that they won’t stand on the same side of the court again.
“Yes, Kyoutani, that’s what I do. Talk about conditioners, how to be the prettiest guy and wear fucking pink,” he spits out angrily and before Kyoutani can say anything, he’s walking out of the kitchen.
Kyoutani gives himself a few minutes to calm down and prepare a whole speech before he follows Yahaba into their room. He finds him on Kyoutani’s bed (or Kyoutani’s side of the bed?) with knees pressed against his chest, arms wrapped around his legs. It’s probably the fourth time he sees Yahaba pouting and he still doesn’t understand how he and the person who threw Kyoutani against the wall can be one.
Kyoutani settles in front of him in the same position and when Yahaba doesn’t move an inch, he slowly reaches out and pokes his leg few times until Yahaba swats his hand. “I’m sorry,” he mutters, catching Yahaba’s hand in his.
“Sure you are,” Yahaba sighs, but he lets Kyoutani hold his hand on top of the sheets. “I’m used to that shit already anyway, so.. Don’t worry.”
It’s better to act like it doesn’t matter than show your weakness. Kyoutani has always let him to do so.
A year ago, Kyoutani would have to swallow his pride three times. Perhaps even a week ago. However, a week ago he had no idea who Yahaba truly is as a person, didn’t know all the little things he knows now. He wasn’t aware of the confident mask that Yahaba wears so well people – even Kyoutani - confuse it for his real face. Maybe even yesterday, Kyoutani wouldn’t be able to say:
“It’s just.. Your hair is really soft. And you are pretty.. Maybe not as much as some other people-“ he watches the corner of Yahaba’s lips turn up, ever so slightly as he slaps Kyoutani’s arm. “But you are pretty. And pink looks good on you.”
Yahaba slaps his arm again, gentler this time, and hides his face by resting his forehead against his knees. “Three compliments in a row, when did you became such softie?” he teases – or at least tries, because even Kyoutani can tell he is embarrassed.
“I’m gonna take it all back,” Kyoutani warns, his thumb brushing over the back of Yahaba’s hand. He ignores his heart beating like crazy.
“Then don’t be a shit about it.”
Kyoutani doesn’t mind it that much when Yahaba comes up with the suggestion of staying another night; spending nights in the bus isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing ever, they can simply put on more clothes before going to sleep and they have no real destination anyway.
They have dinner outside though, just in order not to be in that tiny room all day. When they arrive back to the hotel, the lady by the desk introduces them to a puppy that she is looking after. It’s a love at first sight, mutually, and in the end Yahaba has to physically drag Kyoutani to their room.
Sleeping so close together is lot less weird that last night, because neither of them makes it weird.
Kyoutani is stopped by the puppy in the lobby the next day as he comes back with breakfast again. Today, he didn’t even give it a much thought; he just got up, made sure Yahaba was covered from chin to toe and went for a morning jog.
The brown ball of fur keeps running in circles around him, even attempting to bark – which is so cute he decides Yahaba’s breakfast can wait for a little longer since he’s probably still asleep anyway. He squats down and puts the plastic bag on the floor so he has both hands free to pet the excited dog. Almost immediately the puppy rolls onto its back, begging Kyoutani to scratch its pink belly. It reminds Kyoutani of his own dog when she was a puppy as well, makes him miss her taking all of his bed and give him puppy eyes during each meal.
Kyoutani considers calling Yahaba to tell him to come down and pet the dog too when something else catches his attention and the world seems to freeze.
It was only a matter of time, really.
“The police are still searching for two missing boys-“ is all he needs to hear, because then his and Yahaba’s photos appear on the screen of the small TV on the desk and Kyoutani’s lungs are out of oxygen.
It feels worse than the last blocked spike and Yahaba’s shouting voice in the empty locker room, which until now were Kyoutani’s most painful experiences. It feels like the floor crashing underneath his feet, the happy bubble finally popping and Kyoutani is once more painfully reminded that he’s ran away from home, left only a single note and hasn’t picked up his phone in five days.
He still doesn’t have a logical explanation other than he couldn’t stand seeing Yahaba like that and let him go alone.
He knows the eyes of the old lady are on him, but he cannot bring himself to look away until the photos are gone and the news continues.
“I knew you looked familiar the minute you two stepped in,” the woman says and Kyoutani jerks to stare at her instead of the TV. “This has been in television for some time now.”
The puppy jumps on the floor in front of him, tiny paws hitting his knees as the dog demands attention again. “Did you call the police?” he asks, pathetically. His eyes sting and lungs hurt.
“We could be criminals or something. Bad people, I don’t know. Why not?!”
“You are hiding, but not running away from something bad you’ve done,” the lady says. “I can tell that much.”
“How?”he demands; hates the way his voice cracks.
A kind smile grows on her lips as she points at the puppy, sniffing the floor. “Animals can sense bad people, but he’s been in love with you from the very beginning.”
Kyoutani stays silent, watching the dog fighting with the plastic bag. The lady speaks up again. “Take your time. We adults often forget what it’s like to be young and you will most likely do as well, but what’s important now is your present self. And you better get that bag before he eats it.”
Kyoutani doesn’t have the heart to wake Yahaba up when he opens the door of their room and sees him cuddling Kyoutani’s pillow on Kyoutani’s bed instead of his own. He doesn’t have the heart to drag him away from the dream world when Yahaba looks so peaceful. He doesn’t have the guts to let Yahaba see him like this - a crying kid - when he’s supposed to be an adult at this point, he’s supposed to be strong and able to protect those close to him. However, it seems that all he ever does is hurt them one way or another, and it’s so frustrating, because Yahaba needs just a little longer.
By the time Yahaba wakes up, Kyoutani has got to the point where he should be still scared and panicking, but he is just coldly calm. When Yahaba yawns and mumbles something beside him, he turns his head to gaze at him, tears dry on his face, and he hears himself talking, but it feels like his body is acting on autopilot and he no longer controls it.
Still, there is something wrong about the way Yahaba’s lips curl up, making Kyoutani’s chest tighten uncomfortably, as he lays his hand over Kyoutani’s and says: “You know you didn’t have to come with me or stay this long, right?”
Kyoutani has never been one to be logical. However, he now knows that Yahaba would do everything that Kyoutani would do for him and that’s enough of a reason. And then, out of nowhere and perhaps it has always been there, it all makes sense.
“Why did you make me a vice-captain,” he says and it’s not really a question, more an answer that he wishes he figured out much sooner.
Yahaba smiles; small but genuine. “Took you long enough.”
“Promise me something.”
“Tell your mom about it.”
They lie there for quite some time, mostly in silence, because it is clear what will happen next. Yahaba calls his mother. Kyoutani isn’t as brave, so he only texts his. And they wait, and wait, and wait.
Most of it is blurry for Kyoutani; their parents storm into the room and basically push them apart. He feels someone hugging him, but he isn’t sure who it is – his eyes are on Yahaba the whole, ready to jump in front of him again if it’s needed. Yahaba stares back at him, like there is something unsaid left between them. It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this; no, they were supposed to stay away until the rivers have calmed down, but one day easily turns into two, two into three,..
As they are dragged outside, Kyoutani catches a fond smile from the lady and mouths his thanks, hoping she would get it.
They don’t even let them say goodbye.
Kyoutani slowly comes to his senses again only when he’s sitting in the car of his father. He hears his mother crying and asking him things - what they have done wrong, what happened, but he has no answers until his father asks: “If he jumped out of a window, would you as well?”
Kyoutani wants to laugh. Maybe he does, a little. “I would jump out first to catch him.”
The ride home is awfully long, Kyoutani realises. It wouldn’t be as bad if Yahaba was still by his side, using him as a pillow and bothering him every ten minutes. For the first time Yahaba isn’t there and Kyoutani is cold.
Kyoutani’s younger brother doesn’t come to welcome him back home. Kyoutani isn’t surprised. He doesn’t remember their house to be this big and yet so small.
He doesn’t come out of his room when his mother calls them all for dinner. He doesn’t even open the door when she brings the food upstairs. He just sits on his bed, alone, and thinks.
It is about midnight when he comes to the conclusion he sucks at being a son, a brother and a friend. So he sneaks out of his room and writes his mother a note, much longer than the one he’s left in his room – it could probably be a letter – about these five days, about how running away was the only solution to be sure his friend would be safe. He has a feeling she will understand.
He then walks into his brother’s room to find him restless and worried, just like he was the first time Kyoutani has got into a fight and he came home covered in bruises. So he lies beside him and ignores the now only tiny voice in his head screaming about boys, men and adults – he hugs his two years younger brother and tells him he’s okay, exactly like he did when he was nine. He holds him until he starts crying into Kyoutani’s chest and Kyoutani wonders why it had to take them so many years apart to become close again. The voice dies after ages of being part of Kyoutani.
Neither of them is sleepy and they end up watching the anime they loved as kids, squeezed together on the bed. Their mother discovers them like that in the morning, with teary eyes after she’s read the note. She starts crying again when Kyoutani holds a finger against his lips, pointing his sleeping brother next to him.
Kyoutani slowly falls back into the routine of normal life. He walks his dog, helps with the dishes, eats homemade food. The only problem that he doesn’t seem to be any closer to solving is being a bad friend. Yahaba doesn’t text him, doesn’t call him the whole week and as much as Kyoutani would like to make sure he’s alright, he cannot bring himself to be the first one to contact the other in case Yahaba doesn’t want to talk to him.
“Just call your boyfriend, god damn it,” his brother nudges him as he walks past, his bowl of cereal way fuller than Kyoutani’s.
“It’s not that easy, I don’t know if-“ Kyoutani grumbles until he catches up and - it’s too late.
“So he is your boyfriend!”
“Sounds like a boyfriend to me.”
“I will literally make you choke on the fucking cereal.”
The younger boy hums and sits down, hand under his chin as he looks up at Kyoutani. “If he isn’t, then you are either really dumb or you’re way straighter than I thought.”
Kyoutani groans. “You two would be great friends. You would love him. One jerk with another.”
“I love him already! Do you?”
“Eat the damn cereal that you always say you don’t even like.”
Kyoutani wishes he knew which university Yahaba was going to and Yahaba knew where Kyoutani would be missing him. Yahaba’s gotten under his skin, into his veins and waking up without him, brushing his teeth alone and having a new roommate just feels wrong. And honestly, how stupid is that?
Few days later and some miles away, a knock on the door tears Kyoutani away from his miserable attempts of reading for class. Kyoutani swears to god if his roommate forgot his keys again, he will-
It’s Yahaba. It’s Yahaba, in black t-shirt and jeans and the pastel pink cap with stupidly cute cactus on it. It’s Yahaba who looks stupidly cute. Kyoutani doesn’t know much about reunions with people, especially those that you care about, so the first words that leave his mouth are:
“What the hell?”
“Good to see you as well.”
“No, I mean - what the hell?” Kyoutani gestures and points like a crazy person. He holds his breath when Yahaba opens his mouth to speak.
“Long story, you ready? So last week I went to your house to find out you already left but your brother – really nice guy, are you really relatives or was one of you adopted? I have a feeling that you’re the one who was adopted though, because your mom is also really nice. Anyway, he told me about your dorm and then it took me some time to get the guts to actually come, but-“
“Took you long enough,” Kyoutani breathes out. He seriously needs that asthma check up.
“Yeah,” Yahaba chuckles, treading on the spot nervously. “Can I come in or not?”
Kyoutani nods and steps aside, closing the door after Yahaba walks inside and takes a look around. Kyoutani gathers the clothes from his chair and throws it onto the bed, covering the pile with a cover. Yahaba snickers, but sits down, gazing down at Kyoutani’s book on the desk.
Kyoutani settles next to the clothes pile, waiting for Yahaba to say whatever he’s come here to say. Yahaba huffs a laugh and clears his throat, playing with Kyoutani’s pencil to distract himself. Kyoutani feels like he needs to open the window, except he is unable to move.
“I told my mom. She.. She had her suspicions, but didn’t want to believe it until I said so myself, in case she was wrong. I wanted to be mad, but .. I get it, now at least. It wasn’t exactly nice, but.. My parents are getting divorced. My dad moved out three days after I’ve returned home.”
He is crying by the time he finishes that sentence, which pierces Kyoutani’s heart, because he isn’t sure what to do – he can handle sassy and whiny Yahaba, brutally honest Yahaba is something he is not used to.
“She wanted to thank you, but I couldn’t let her when I haven’t done it yet. I wanted to at least text you or something, but it was .. too much at once, you know?”
“Yeah,” Kyoutani says and does the only thing that seems right – takes Yahaba’s hand in his own. “It was.”
Yahaba wipes his eyes and chuckles, taking the cap off his head. He doesn’t fix his hair. “What about you?”
Kyoutani tells him about his brother and mom, mostly. He tells him about his annoying roommate and even admits he kind of likes the guy; he is up for any fun. He tells him how some people recognize him as the ‘lost boy’ from the TV and Yahaba pouts, because he’s only the ‘missing guy’ and apparently ‘lost boy’ sounds much better.
Kyoutani finally learns that Yahaba goes to same university as Oikawa, ironically enough; he isn’t even surprised at this point anymore, though a little jealous. When they ran into each other, Oikawa was dangerously close to tears upon finding out that his dear apprentice was safe and found. They then spent the whole afternoon catching up and –who would have thought – Oikawa and Iwaizumi had got together few months ago. Yahaba describes and even mimics their old captain talking about his boyfriend, which Kyoutani finds kind of gross, but is also happy for them; not that he would say that to Oikawa. To Iwaizumi, he would consider.
Kyoutani wonders if Yahaba is truly found now, but one look at his tired but pleased smile as they lie on Kyoutani’s bed is enough to tell him that yes, he’s definitely not lost. Maybe still a little bruised and wounded, but he’s already healing and maybe Kyoutani will be able to sleep peacefully with this knowledge.
He doesn’t have much time to think about it because Yahaba is suddenly too close – was he this close a minute ago? – and Kyoutani panics. “I would jump out of a window for you!” he blurts out, his ears burning.
Yahaba laughs. “That’s good to know, really. I would catch your scared ass, if that makes you calmer. Now, can I kiss you?”
There’s a knock on the door. Kyoutani groans and curses the whole universe as he gets up to open the door. It is his roommate this time around. He always has to have a perfect timing.
“Hey, I think I’ve lost my keys. Is that the other missing guy? Hey, I’m-“
Kyoutani slams the door closed without any guilt or shame. He breathes in and out, then turns to Yahaba who’s still laughing on his bed. “Shut up.”
“I didn’t say anything!”
“Right,” Kyoutani throws a pillow on him.
Yahaba catches it and smirks as he sits up. “Are you really going to leave your poor roommate outside for nothing?”
“No,” Kyoutani sits next to him and finds out that even though Yahaba really is trying, he is blushing as well. It makes things a little easier as Kyoutani leans closer and closes the gap between them.
The tap in Yahaba’s bathroom been broken since they were in their second year and tried to fix it themselves on one particularly boring weekend during a spring, the first time Kyoutani came over. They only made the small problem worse and the water pressure has changed between too weak and suddenly too strong, too harsh.
“Are you ready?”
Yahaba hisses. “I mean, it’s nice that you tried, that’s what matters, really, and I promise I won’t break up with you if it doesn’t work out.”
“Thanks,” Kyoutani rolls his eyes and lets the water run. It is steady and clear. Kyoutani turns to Yahaba beside him with a victorious grin. “What were you saying?”
Yahaba grimaces, but he pecks Kyoutani’s lips nevertheless.
“You are a miracle,” Yahaba’s mom claps her hands together. “But now come eat or it will get cold.”
“Truly a miracle,” Yahaba mutters once his mother is far enough. “Only took you two years.”
“But unlike someone,” Kyoutani says and pokes his side, “I did it.”
“Whatever,” Yahaba rubs his face against the skin of Kyoutani’s neck as they follow his mother into the kitchen, Kyoutani laughing like an idiot and trying to shake him off. They’re still chuckling when they sit down and Yahaba’s mom asks Kyoutani how university is going, is he sleeping enough, how is his family.