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You'd fit my lonely arms so perfectly

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It's the quiet that gets to him the most.

At work, Daichi is always on the move, always keeping his co-workers in check (Nishinoya and Tanaka will actually cause him early hair loss and chronic high blood pressure at this rate). He talks what feels like all day, his hands are always moving. He gets his coffee in hasty sips in passing, devours his lunch while squeezing in a little more work, cheeks stuffed.
It's stressful. It's exhausting. He loves it.

But then, at the end of the day, he can already feel the dread in his stomach.

Daichi does not like coming back to his flat. It's too wide for him alone, the walls are too white, too naked, too empty. All of it is too empty. Daichi will return, and everything is the same as it was when he left.

His mug on the coffee table, the dirty dishes in the sink, his abandoned laundry in (and around) the basket. Nothing ever changes. Nothing ever welcomes him home.

(It's not really a home. It's shelter and a place to live, but it's not a home.)

Only when the radio sounds muffled from the kitchen, and the TV fills the rest of the space up with white noise, he can breathe and ease a little of the tension in his shoulders. Silence is a funny thing, it always makes him feel like he can't breathe. As if it sucks the oxygen right out of the air. He did not have that problem when he used to live with Yui.

His chores don't last long. Daichi tries to make a mess, but it's hard, when he spends every evening after work cleaning up. He's back to the windows today, still squeaky-clean from two weeks ago, but the repetitive motion soothes him. The lights are off except for the pale, ever-changing light of the TV, so that Daichi can see the gentle fall of snow outside of his window. The flakes are big and fluffy, sail to the ground slowly and undisturbed by wind, gently settling on the wide expanse of snow.

When Daichi is done with the windows, he simply keeps standing there, the rag clutched loosely in his hand, his heart beating steady and quiet in his chest as the world outside gets covered in snow. It's peaceful. But of course, it does not last long.

It always ends up like this, his thoughts roaring up, pushing forward from the back of his mind again. It makes him miss his friends and his family, way too far away. The easy company in evenings. Going out for food or a drink, or to play sports together. The social circle he used to have and took for granted, before he moved.

(It makes him doubt moving all over again.)

Yui has called every two days lately, always urging him to go out.

“It's no wonder you don't get to know anyone outside of work when you literally only ever are at work or hide away in your flat!”

“I'm not hiding away!”, Daichi snapped, met with silence. He could literally feel his best friend's unimpressed stare through the speaker.

He could not exactly explain to himself why he did not simply give in and set an end to Yui's on-going rants by simply going out. It was not as if he was shy. But, meeting new people had never been an issue in his old hometown, and here … he did not even know where to start. Going out alone sounded really lame to him.

When he thinks about it, Yui is probably right. He'll marry his job someday, and die a lonely death. Heaving a deep, deep sigh Daichi contemplates going to bed early, sudden fatigue settling deep in his bones. The kind that felt like he wanted to curl up in his bed and sleep for the next three years straight.

The sudden sound of his phone, far too loud, makes Daichi flinch, kicked out of his thoughts with warp speed nine. He does not bother picking up the rag he dropped, chuckling to himself. Yui's senses probably alerted her to broody Daichi, and now she's calling to snap him out of it. Perfect timing as usual.

Daichi picks up, presses the phone to his ear and opens his mouth to greet her with some witty comment about her motherhen senses, but gets cut off immediately by an unfamiliar voice.

“You won't believe what just happened to me, Asahi!”

“Uhm -”, Daichi starts, trying to inform the caller that he is not in fact Asahi and has no idea who on earth is on the other side of that call. But the guy (sounds like a guy) simply talks over him.

“Remember how I told you the oven is possessed?! Yeah! It is possessed! I swear, this oven is the unholy spawn of satan. There is no other explanation!”

Daichi can't help a breathless chuckle, the aggravated voice at the other end seems to be really passionate about ovens. Another attempt of informing the stranger that he has the wrong number goes unnoticed in the offended continuation of the rant.

“You know what, I dealt with it burning that cake I made for Yachi. I could cut off the egdes and save it, and dump cream and sparkles over it, and she loved it. Fine! I dealt with my lasagna extra crispy. Special crispy. Goddamn burned! And that one time it set the baking paper on fire?! Okay, at least the house did not burn down! Which is awesome, but that's not the point. I mean, I had a suspicion it was possessed. Or maybe just difficult! The problematic child of this family! No, scratch that, that's Buttercup. Can't believe she did that to my plants. But that's not the point either!”

Daichi has given up trying to interrupt this passionate rant. By now, he sat down on the sofa, listening to it all with a mix of fascination and mild horror, this tiny glimpse into a crazy world of possessed ovens and Buttercup, problem child who did stuff to plants. Daichi really wonders what the person on the other line even looks like, who on earth Buttercup is, and what the point actually is.

There's a small break where the stranger takes a deep breath and Daichi realises he missed his chance to interrupt as he was wondering about all this.

“So, okay! Possessed oven. God, I HATE his oven so much. I would kick it. I swear. I'm gonna balance on my crutches and kick it with my healthy foot. Watch me, Asahi. Watch me. No, don't worry, I won't do that. I won't, I'll rest a lot. And will never ever walk on ice again. God, I hate this so much. Why does ice happen to good people, Asahi. I'm good. At least I'm trying to be. And all I wanted were some cookies because I literally can't even leave the house. So I scraped up all my last ingredients and I made the perfect cookie dough. Perfect, Asahi. I think an angel cried.”

It grows continuously harder not to laugh out loud.

“And then I left those perfect innocent little cookies-to-be to the clutches of the oven from hell. They were so young. They did nothing wrong. They had a short, amazingly delicious life ahead of them. Burned to a crisp, all of them. It's a tragedy. A tragedy for them. But mostly for me. Because now I don't have cookies. I'm a desperate man, Asahi. I tried eating the burned ones. Have you ever tried chewing ashes? Don't do it. Just. Don't.”

At this point, Daichi has to admit, he's having so much fun just listening to the insanity unfolding, he does not even try to interrupt anymore.

“Jeez, Buttercup, those are not for you! I swear, this cat will eat anything. Even the ashes of once promising young cookies. Okay, anyway. I hate everything, I am still stuck in my house, slowly going nuts, and I'm having a crisis because I don't have cookies. I'm not kidding, I would eat raw sugar. But I used all of it. I need sweets because my ankle hurts and I've been stuck in here for four days in a row without any human contact, all I have are Buttercup and Princess and they are amazingly unresponsive no matter how much I talk. And I talk a lot. I am so sorry. Oh God, I'm gonna shut up now.”

Daichi is almost disappointed, seeing that he spent the past minutes shaking with barely contained laughter and would have listened to even more of this absolutely ridiculous, endearing rant about the adventures of Buttercup, Princess and Mystery Voice as they burned cookies and slipped on ice. But now is probably the time to tell he's not Asahi. That's the plan anyway.

But he opens his mouth and all that comes out is a bark of laughter.
It's actually kind of embarrassing.

“That's not funny,” the mystery caller tells him, pout audible through the phone.

“Sorry,” Daichi rasps, and just keeps laughing. He falls sideways to his side, phone squished between his ear and the sofa, eyes closed as the laughter spills out of him. It feels far too nice. Meanwhile, disaster baker is suspiciously quiet. 'I-just-found-out-I-ranted-to-a-total-stranger-about-my-life' kind of quiet.

“Oh. You're. Not Asahi.”

Calmed down enough that he can speak again, Daichi takes a deep breath, his smile settling on his face easily and wide.

“Not as far as I know, no.”

“Yeah, that. …. yeah. Wow. This is not awkward at all.”

Daichi chuckles again.

“Wow. So. You know the name of my cats. And that my oven is possessed. But not even my name. And all I know is that yours is not Asahi. … God, I'm really very sorry about -”

Now this is the rant Daichi has no problem with interrupting.

“You can call me Daichi. My oven is fairly agreeable and I don't have a cat, even though my best friend thinks I should adopt one.”

“You should. Cats are really amazing.”

“Not for plants, apparently.”

The not-so-stranger laughs, and it's warm and wonderful and makes Daichi's smile widen.

“Not for plants, no. I'm Suga. I have a family consisting of Princess, Buttercup the problem child, no more plants, and a possessed oven. We are a mess, but a very lovable one.”

“I don't doubt that.”

Daichi inhales sharply as he realises that he just voiced that thought, and rolls onto his back, blinking up at the ceiling.

“Why, thank you,” Suga tells him, voice a bit more playful than strictly necessary. It's quiet for a moment, but the silence is comfortable.

“And you really don't have a cat?”

“You would so get along with Yui. She tells me my existence is a sad one.”

“Well, she's not wrong.”

Not at all. But Daichi pushes that thought aside – actually, it's not even hard to forget about all of this with Suga's (now) calm, pleasant voice on the other end.

“Why is everyone even so fixated on cats? Dogs seem much more loyal.”

“One time when I was sick Princess stayed at my side the entire time. I mean, she nearly choked me lying down next to my face and snuggling up, but. She sure tried. So, no, cats are loyal. Don't you dare say anything else, I will fight you.”

“With that ankle of yours?” Daichi bites his lip, wondering if that one was too far.

“... that was low, Daichi.”

Suga's voice is still playful, and Daichi has never loved the sound of his own name more.

“You told me my existence was sad.”

“I said your best friend was not wrong.”

“That's pretty rude. I thought you were one of the good ones?”

“Only when I'm adequately supplied with sugar. Anyone discovers their dark side in times of need.”

“Cookie need?”

“Cookie need,” Suga confirms with a grave voice, and Daichi laughs again.

“Jeez, at this rate I would go out and get you cookies myself.”

“And I would love you forever. Alas, your existence is not the only sad one. Just a little worse, because at least I have cats.”

There's a small tug in his stomach, something that whispers that maybe, Daichi wouldn't have minded to toss common sense to the wind and buy some cookies and go meet this guy and his strange family of cats and possessed household appliances.

“Well, I have a plant.” Daichi sits up a little, staring at the silhouette of it against the warm glow of the street lamps from the window, wondering how much it wilted by now and if he can still call it a plant when it's only about 12% alive. “That counts. And no cat killed it yet. I sort of did, but -” And he smiles when he repeats that sentence back at Suga. “That's not the point.”

“No. No, no, no. Daichi, are you telling me that you have the opportunity to grow plants in your flat and you just let them die? Get up. Water this plant, now. It pains me that you would not appreciate this opportunity.”

Daichi actually does, in mild disbelief over it. Phone in one hand, he gets a glass with the other, fills it with water and hears Suga's satisfied hum on the other end of the line as the rushing filters through.

“You're actually doing it,” Suga tells him, grinning, a hint of mischief in his voice. Daichi wonders if there would be a twinkle in his eyes.

“I don't want you to come beat me up with your crutches.”

He pours some water over the dried up earth and the windowsill (whoops) and leaves the glass, still half full with water, next to the plant. Maybe next time he will remember watering it. (Probably not.)

“Aw, that's harsh. I swear, I'm a pleasant person to be around.”

Daichi licks his lips, not doubting Suga's words for a second. But he feels like teasing him anyway.

“Unless you don't get your cookies.”

He plops back down on the sofa, reaches for the remote and turns the TV off, suddenly annoyed by the background noise of it.

The apartment is as empty as it was before, yet it does not feel like it – simply with Suga's voice there.

Maybe he should turn the light on, though …

“I deserve cookies, Daichi. Besides, usually they're one quick trip to the store away. It's all fault of this damn weather. Blame the snow and the ice and the cold, not me.”

“Oh, surely it's all out of your control.”

“I'm glad you – Buttercup, for the last time -

Daichi chuckles to himself as he hears the muffled sounds at the other end of the line. Suga keeps talking and talking, not to him, but to his cat.

“Listen, I told you – paws off the table. Jeez, look at that. That mug was so pretty. Don't give me that look, you're guilty, you have to stand up to your mistakes. I will not pity you. Now off you go, I don't want you to get splinters into your paws, c'mon, time to skedaddle. Princess, stay where you are! The kitchen is closed until further notice!”

Suga takes a deep breath, and hesitates for a moment in which he clearly notices that Daichi is still laughing about his monologue.

“It's been a long four days,” Suga tells him, a little flustered, but mostly defiant. Daichi can almost imagine him folding his arms in front of his chest. (Except he has no idea what Suga looks like.) (But if he looks anywhere near as beautiful as his voice sounds, damn.)

He really, really likes listening to Suga's voice. And weird antics.

This phone call should have probably ended about 30 seconds into having the wrong number. At least Daichi had never started a conversation with a random stranger, in all his 26 years of life. But for Suga, he'll make an exception. Suga does not feel as much of a stranger as he is supposed to feel like.

“Honestly, being injured is the worst. I'm a barista, I'm used to talking to people non-stop and being in motion. Now I can't work, I can't go outside in this horrible snow, I can't go to training. It's driving me insane. But I probably shouldn't complain that much to a stranger, huh? Sorry for that.”

Daichi blinks, his attention zeroing in on that one part that caught his attention.

“Training?”

“Ah, yeah. I still play volleyball in my free time. I mean, unless I sprain my ankle.”

Two brightly coloured exclamation marks flash up in Daichi's mind without him wanting them to. Volleyball. There's a volleyball team here? It has been so long since he last played …

He had not realised how much he missed it until he ended up on his sofa, listening to a stranger mention it in passing, and got hit with sudden nostalgia like a bag of volleyballs swung at him. Hard.

“Which position do you play?”, he asks, not able to stop himself.

“I'm a setter! Do you play too?!”

Daichi finds himself sitting up, leaning back against the sofa properly. He cranes his neck so he can see a stripe of the world outside through the window. The snow keeps falling still, and from there on out, they keep talking and talking. It's the easiest thing in the world, a little like breathing. Almost a reflex, their back-and-forth of answers and questions and teasing remarks.

Daichi knows about at least thirteen different occasions on which Buttercup had destroyed something, and that one time Suga fell over Princess while carrying hot soup.

Daichi tells Suga about the time Yui broke her right, and Daichi his left arm during the Gummy Bear Incident all the way back in high school, and how everyone had still called them Double Cast at their reunion party. (Suga laughs so hard Daichi can hear him bang his hand on the table and wheeze for two minutes straight.)

About four hours later, Daichi has smiled so much, his cheeks hurt from it, and he feels warm and at ease like he hasn't since he moved here.

His head leaned against the sofa cushion, it gets consistently harder to stay awake, though. When did it get so late … ?

The living room around him is still dark, even though he did not really notice, not until now, not until Suga said “I should probably go to sleep soon. Princess has been sending me glares from the bed for the past hour or so.”

“Yeah, same for me. Minus the cat.”

“Which is very sad.”

“You cat people are insufferable.”

“Awww, Daichi, I thought you liked me a little by now?”

A little more than he should, probably. Daichi bites his lip, refusing to answer that question truthfully, or at all.

“Go to sleep, Suga.”

“You, too, then.”

He can still hear it, that smile in this wonderful voice, and Daichi does not want Suga to hang up on him. He does not want this weird thing between them to end. It's like a spell, a tiny touch of magic in his lonely little life as of late, and the spell will break way too soon. Pop like a soap bubble.

“Thanks for brightening my evening, Daichi. I thought it would be ruined without cookies, but I have to say, you quite saved it for me.”

You have no idea how much you brightened my evening

“Same for you. Thanks … for the talk.”

Now or never. He has to ask Suga if they can talk again, maybe. But the seconds pass and the silence grows longer, stretches until it wears so thin it turns awkward, hesitant. After an evening of feeling at ease, it's quite the change.

“So, yeah,” Suga says, clearing his throat. “Good night, Daichi.”

“Good night, Suga.”

The pressure to say something, to save this, to keep Suga in his life skyrockets until it chokes Daichi right up.

He needs all the words in the world, but none of them will fit his mouth right.

Neither of them hung up yet, only white noise filtering through. By the time Daichi finally works up his courage, takes a deep breath to steel himself, he can hear Suga sigh, and then hang up.

The silence settles around him heavily, and Daichi does not feel like moving, does not feel like flicking on the light.

The phone in is hand is still warm from holding it for so long.

When he curls up to sleep under his blanket, pants kicked off and everything else as it was, too tired for an actual evening routine, the echo of Suga's voice keeps lingering in his mind, whispers him a lullaby.

 

Daichi nearly oversleeps his alarm clock the next morning. When he stumbles into the kitchen, bleary-eyed, he feels like everything about today is going to go as slightly wrong as the way he got up. The radio is still going, and Daichi turns it down to a muffled background noise because he is too tired for music, and maybe because he tries to recall the sound of Suga's laughter.

The fact that he keeps thinking about the man all day only shows how lonely and pathetic Daichi really is. (Or how wonderful Suga.)

There's even less to do than yesterday in the evening, so nothing really distracts him from the phone, sitting there like a taunt, like a temptation.

Daichi wants to call Suga, and talk to him again. Hear his voice and make him laugh and listen to those ridiculous cat stories of his.

He wants it so bad it aches, somewhere deep inside him, getting worse the longer he can't bring himself to pick up the phone.

 

I'll call him tomorrow, he tells himself.
(He doesn't.)
Maybe Suga will call me.
(He doesn't.)

Chapter Text

He's gotten rid of his crutches, and work still doesn't want him back until he has recovered completely. How dare they be so understanding and caring about their employees?!
The worst part is, Suga can't even bake cookies for himself, because cookies remind him of Daichi, and everything that reminds him of Daichi is 50 shades of regret and disappointed hope that Daichi would call him instead, when Suga didn't dare to.

(Daichi didn't call.)

(Suga is not bitter about that.)

(It's not like he cares.)

At least Suga can go outside again, gingerly put weight on his foot, and help out volleyball practice by observing. Maybe he takes it a little too seriously, jotting down all the data, but analysing it is interesting and takes his mind off things rather well. Half the notes are slightly crumpled from Buttercup marching over them with her tail so high she could flick it in his face, and Suga only narrows his eyes at her look of betrayal when he puts her back down on the floor.

“You troublechild,” he chides her, fondly, and she goes off into a corner to groom her glossy pelt for another two hours, back pointedly towards him. “I love you too,” he mutters into her direction at some point, and gets an annoyed flick of her tail for his troubles. Ah, cats. Gotta love them.

Suga is nearly done sketching out a new tactic they might try over a warm mug of tea and with the purring Princess on his lap when he hears a key in the door and glares into the direction of the person coming in before he can see them properly.

He knows who this is already.

“I don't remember giving you a spare key, you know.”

“Awwww, don't be like that~ I don't remember you taking it away from me either. Obviously. Who wouldn't want my charm to enrich their dull -”

“My living room isn't dull,” Suga tells Oikawa as he makes his way into said (comfortable and absolutely not dull) living room.

“I was about to speak about your dull life, dummy. Your living room is actually quite cute. One day I'm gonna steal your curtains, I love that pattern.”

“Please don't. You stole half my mugs already. And you still owe me that hoodie!”

Oikawa plops down on the seat next to him as if he hadn't heard him (he always hears everything, even when he's not supposed to) and drags the paper away from Suga's pen, leaving a stray line across it.

“It looks better on me anyway,” Oikawa tells him without looking up, pointer finger tapping his lips as he takes in the notes. Staring down at them, he gets that intense gleam in his eyes. For all his bravado and childish behaviour, the other man is a force to be reckoned with, especially on the court.

Suga would have asked for his opinion anyway. (He still furrows his brow at the line his pen left when Oikawa dragged it away.)

For a while, it's pretty peaceful. Oikawa steals Suga's tea, complains about the lack of sugar, and spends a nearly ridiculous amount of time discussing the notes and improvements for them. But Suga knows his next door neighbour all too well. Oikawa Tooru did not merely show up to be nice to him. His day would not be complete if he did not pester one person, at least.
As the ever-single lonely cat-loving freak, unfortunately, Suga is pretty high up on the list of priorities for pestering and meddling.
“So~,” Oikawa says, dragging out the vowel of it lazily, his gaze snapping up. Suga swallows. The intensity is not gone from his eyes yet, and under his scrutinizing gaze, anyone would feel as if Oikawa was scanning their brain, figuring out their weakness. Seeing he is the type of person to drag it out into the daylight shamelessly, Suga is glad they are friends and not enemies.

(Befriending a person like Oikawa had never been the plan. It had simply fallen into place and suddenly half his mugs were in a different kitchen and Iwaizumi liked him for being the only one besides him who could stand Oikawa for longer.)

Suga is getting the nagging feeling he would need a shot of alcohol in his tea to get past this talk. (Not that Oikawa had left any tea for him.)

“Just spit it out already,” he tells him, feeling tired already. Princess gets up on his lap, turns around herself and curls up again. He pets her soft fur, glad that at least one person here actually does appreciate Suga and will show him true, easy affection.
The smile on Oikawa's face gets a little more devious.

“So, did you have any flirty phone calls again? Talking to a stranger all night, so romantic~”

“I regret telling you about it so much. It was not romantic!” He talked more about his oven and cats and volleyball than himself. There was no pining and gazing into the sky longingly involved, no matter how hard Oikawa wanted there to be.

“So your dreamy phone stranger -”

“God, you make it sound so creepy.”

“- you just want to be friends with him?”

Suga nods, maybe a little too enthusiastically. He just … really likes making friends, okay?

“And you still haven't called him back because … ?” He drags out the 'a' in because, and Suga gets the feeling he's a tiny mouse faced with a looming cat who watches him slowly walk right into a trap.

“I was busy.”

“You were busy.” If Oikawa raised his eyebrows any higher, they would reach for the sky. Okay, maybe Suga had not been that busy. Maybe he had spent a ridiculous amount of time staring at the phone and trying to summon his bravery to call again.

“It's not like I know that he even wants to talk to me again.”

“You talked for four hours. And I bet you spoke about your cats half of the time, so the fact that he can stand that proves that he likes you.”

The way Oikawa says 'likes' indicates all whole lot of other things.

“I don't talk about my cats that often,” Suga tells him defensively.

“I could recite the biography of both of them in my sleep, and that is the true tragedy here. Only rivalled by your sad, sad love life.”

“I wish I had my crutches to whack you across the head, y'know.”

“Oh, but you love me so much, don't you?”

“You have a rotten personality.”

“Aww, so harsh. What would Iwa-chan say if he knew you treated me this way?”

“He'd agree with me,” Suga dead-pans, but Oikawa 'did not hear' that comment as well, instead getting his predatory gaze back. Uh-oh, Suga had quite liked venturing off topic there.

“So, my point standing – you had looots of fun talking, and no trouble making friends, Mr. Refreshing. Your new bromance is one phone call away. What makes it so hard to call him, hmmm?”

The trap snaps shut and Suga can feel himself turning hot. Oikawa is onto him. Has been from the beginning, but in the beginning Suga had been able to deny it to himself, at least.

“Is it your romantic little crush? Falling for a voice instead of his looks? Aww, that's so adorable.”

“It's not a crush.” Suga eases Princess off his lap and pushes himself up. “I'll go make more tea, you can go bond with Buttercup. You troublemakers love flocking together.”

“Oh, don't hurry! I have time, we can talk about this all day if you want~!”

Suga groans and considers faceplanting straight into the cupboard door instead of opening it to get Oikawa his own damn mug. When he longed for company those past days, this was not what he had been asking for. At least in the safety of his tiny kitchen he can take a deep breath and wait until his face regains a normal colour. Less tomatoe, more human. Yay.

He checks his phone, plugged in next to the cattle. Four new messages, all from Asahi.

[from: favourite person, 8.31 a.m.]
he's giving me a look i swear

[from: favourite person, 8.31 a.m.]
i'm dead suga i'm dead

Suga exhales deeply, shaking his head over his best friend. His new boss could not be that bad. Poor, glass-hearted giant. Work used to not be stressful enough for him to text him a million times.

[from: favourite person, 1.20 p.m.]
fgsfhkjhi

[from: favourite person, 1.25 p.m.]
he's asking me weird stuff what do i do

That one was the latest one. Grateful for the distraction, Suga taps out a reply while the water starts boiling.

[to: favourite person, 2.43 p.m.]
weird stuff??? are you sure?? hang in there!!

The reply comes suspiciously fast.

[from: favourite person, 2.44 p.m.]
yeah! very sure! super weird
you too!

You too?
Does Asahi know Oikawa is here?
Suga can't quite put a finger on it, but he's getting the feeling that he's caught right in the middle of a complot. He'll have to keep an eye on that.

[to: favourite person, 2.44 p.m.]
what kind of weird stuff???

Suga pours the hot water over the teabags and dumps an extra amount of sugar in both cups. Nobody can blame him for needing sugar in this kind of situation. Oikawa Tooru all up on your case concerning your love life is not a desirable situation.

[from: favourite person, 2.45 p.m.]
i'm not telling you to protect your integrity

[to: favourite person, 2.47 p.m.]
???!!?

Well, that isn't confusing at all. But Suga is not the one to judge about eccentrics, so he leaves it be and picks up the mugs, figuring he can't postpone his own downfall much longer. Back in the living room, he sets the cup down in front of Oikawa with a tiny bit more force than necessary. Oikawa smirks up at him, knowing exactly what's going on. Obviously enjoying himself very, very much.

Seriously, Suga would have never voluntarily befriended this person. Oikawa had snuck into his life, and now it was suffering.

“Did you take your time to contemplate your crush~? It's really such a shame, Suga-chan. Everybody loves you, and yet you have nobody to hold at night.”

That one hits too close home for comfort. Seriously, if this is what happens to Oikawa's friends, then Suga shudders when he thinks what he does to his enemies.

“I have Princess to keep me company, and Buttercup sleeps at my feet. It's not as if I'm lonely.”
Oikawa gives him a look of unadulterated pity, and Suga takes a sip of tea despite of it burning his tongue so bad, he doesn't even get to taste it.

“When was the last time you gave anyone a chance? Were the dinosaurs still alive back then?”

“I'm pretty sure it was during the ice age,” Suga grumbles. Seriously, it has not been that long, right?!

“We've been best friends for three years now -”

“Asahi is my best friend.”

“Yes. Best friends for three years, and I've never even seen you go on a date.”

“There was that one time -”

“That wasn't a date.”

“We went out for coffee!”

“You were still wearing your work apron. That wasn't a date.”

Suga bites his tongue and does not argue. Yeah, that afternoon had been a long row of disappointments.

“I'm just not up to it, okay? I couldn't imagine dating anyone.”

Daichi flashes in his mind, his warm voice and the way his laughter sounded and how Suga got the feeling that one could feel very, very safe in his arms and oh God this is how he knows he's doomed.

“You thought about your dreamy stranger, didn't you? I'm really not sure whether to pity you or clap you on the shoulder.”

“I did not. And my love life is nobody's business!”

The look in Oikawa's eyes changes again, and Suga does not like that at all.

“It doesn't have to be mystery voice guy. I could hook you up with someone nice, Suga-chan. One word of yours, and -”

“Congratulations!”, Suga interrupts him in a voice full of faux cheer. “This is the 300th time you offered!”

“Aww, you're keeping count? Does that mean it's special enough for you to say yes this time?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Is that because of your crush on the guy who knows you're a total nerd?”

“You believe in aliens. Who's the nerd here?”

“You did not deny your crush, Suga-chan.”

Face heating up again, Suga bites down on his lip. There's not much use, is there? God, he's pathetic. He doesn't even know this guy. All they did was talk for a while, on accident at that. What the hell is wrong with him to get a crush on someone he met like that?! After years worth of never, ever having that trouble.

(It's sort of nice, knowing he's even still capable of a crush.)

(But still, it's mostly bothersome.)

“Call him,” Oikawa urges, all his teasing gone. For a moment, he looks as if he genuinely cares. (Deep down, Suga knows he does.)

“I can't. It's been over a week. He didn't even call me, Oikawa. I don't think he wants to talk to me again. It was a nice one time thing. He probably doesn't even remember I exist.”

Suga crosses his arms on the table and puts his face down on it, voice muffled in the fabric of his sweater.

“You should give yourself more credit. You brand of crazy is hard to forget.”

“Thanks for cheering me up.” Suga's voice is dripping with sarcasm, and he doesn't even have to see Oikawa's face to know his smile grew wider.

“Oh, you know me. Always doing my best to look out for you~ But really, I bet your Prince Charming can't stop thinking about you.”

“And that's why he called me, sure. And don't call him that!”

“I guess your sweetheart might have been as nervous as you. It's not like you'd know until you try. Besides, you're not the kind of person to give up on anything, so what's the big deal this time?”

What's the big deal? Suga has no idea. He groans into his arms and wonders if he'll ever have to sit up again, maybe he can just bury his face in his arms forever. Or at least until Oikawa leaves. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.

Too bad Oikawa knows his weaknesses and pokes his ribs right where he's ticklish. With a yelp Suga jerks up, nearly jumping right out of his chair. Oikawa propped his face up on one hand and meets his glare with a smile that looks a little as if he can't believe what a big dork he befriended.

“Fine then, let's do it this way,” Oikawa says, all conversational, while Suga is still considering what he could throw at his face. “Either you call him, or I will~”

“You don't even know his number.”

“I know you switched up two digits of Asahi's number. And if I have to, I'll call 20 people and ask them if they know my dear Suga-chan. Until I find him~”

They stare at each other across the table, Suga trying hard to seem like a man who will not be blackmailed into calling his ridiculous accidental crush and knowing full well that Oikawa would, he would shamelessly call himself through all kinds of variations of Asahi's number and drag a ton of strangers into this mess as well. Heck, they could make it a humiliation party. Invite Asahi and Yachi and Kiyoko as well! Maybe they could wear party hats! And Suga could melt into the floor and stop existing!

Fun!

“It's your decision, Suga-chan~”

“Why am I friends with you?”

“Because of my stunning looks and wonderful personality.”

“Keep telling yourself that.”

“Rude.”

“I'm not the one trying to blackmail you into something.”

“I'm not the one throwing away a shot at something that might be really good.”

Just like that, the playful air of their banter is gone, Oikawa's eyes on him not calculating, not sparkling with mischief. He's being serious, and Suga can't ignore it, not when Oikawa looks at him that way. Heaving a sigh, Suga rubs his temple.

“Fine. Fine, you win. But I'll do it at my pace, alright?”

“You have time until tomorrow.”

Fine. God, this is so ridiculous. I'm pathetic.”

Suga buries his face in his hands again, exhaling long and completely, utterly done with himself. Honestly, how pathetic is he, crushing on someone he has never met nor seen? How desperate and lonely would you have to be for that? And his only reason not to give up immediately is Oikawa and his habit to meddle.

“Hey,” Oikawa tells him, sharp enough to grab Suga's attention immediately. “Don't make that face.”

You can't even see me, Suga thinks, but maybe he honestly doesn't give Oikawa enough credit sometimes.

“You're not pathetic. So you never met him, so what? You could've met that guy on a porn website, I don't care. All I care about is that he treats you right, because if that guy breaks your heart …”

His friend trails off there, and when Suga peeks through his fingers again, the smile he catches on his face makes him file a mental note away to never, ever get on Oikawa's bad side. Suga doesn't even know what to say, but apparently, he doesn't have to.

“Good! Now that this is off the table, we can get to the fun part!”

As if this had not been a fun part for Oikawa. Suga tries to keep the glare in check (he has not forgiven the guy for the blackmailing yet), but it's hard when he starts rummaging through a bag only to toss a DVD on the table.

“I found a worse one,” Oikawa declares proudly.

“Worse than the last? I doubt that's even possible.”

Suga eyes the movie cover more closely. There's not even a hint of sharks or any weird shark-like morphed monster on it.

“It's about a tire getting revenge.”

“What.”

“A possessed one.”

“Oh my God.”

“It has a love interest.”

No.”

“Yes!”

Oikawa picks the DVD up with manic glee and goes to get it started. Meanwhile Suga takes the time to get the obligatory bowl of shitty microwave popcorn for both of them and checks his text messages again. Asahi sent him a ridiculous amount of them, the latest one simply saying 'EXPLAIN'. Suga furrows his brows and stares down at his phone, thumb hovering over it, not quite sure whether he wants to get into that particular drama right now and read all the others.

Deciding that today has been a day of more than enough explanations, Suga unplugs his charged phone and leaves it on the counter, pushing it back a little in case Buttercup decides to get in one of her moods again and push stuff off the counter. But no, the little devil in disguise is busy snuggling up to Oikawa when Suga gets back into the living room with the warm bowl in hand, rubbing her face against his with so much force, she might as well be trying to knock him out.

“My, my, I've missed you too,” Oikawa whispers, cuddling Buttercup with as much dramatical air about him. As if they had not seen each other in ages, instead of spending game night together, Buttercup on Oikawa's lap the entire time, effectively keeping Iwaizumi from attacking him in any way and causing him to fume half the evening. As usual, Kiyoko and Yachi had joined in, and Asahi had come over as the only one not from this apartment complex, but as much part of their mixed friend group as everyone else. (And, well, without him Suga would have probably gone nuts with all those couples around. And his cats betraying him as well - Princess had spent her evening adoring Yachi.)

“You know, one day I'll pack Buttercup into a bag and just give her to you.”

“Then her heart wouldn't have to break anytime I go.”

“Don't give yourself too much credit,” Suga scolds him, settling down on the sofa and grabbing the remote to start his own doom. Oikawa reaches over to grab a handful of popcorn.

“Oh, I'd never~ I only give myself the credit I deserve.”

“Shut up and watch your horrible movie with me.”

 

By the end of it, Oikawa has his face buried at Suga's shoulder, shaking with laughter so hard it has even gotten too much for Buttercup, who had endured the entire movie on his lap. Suga is simply shaking his head, staring wide-eyed.

“That was so bad,” he whispers, the words of a broken man who had just watched the worst movie ever.

“It was amazing,” Oikawa wheezes.

“It was the literal worst. Oh, my God. We can stop bad movie night. We can just – stop. This is it. Nothing will be worse than this.”

“Not even the ghost sharks?”

“At least those were … creative.”

“I would've never expected the day to come where you would protect the ghost sharks.”

“That was before Rubber.”

“Fair enough.”

Oikawa is still laughing, letting himself fall sideways so that Suga ends up with a lap full of Most Annoying Friend™.

“You're insufferable,” Suga tells him, and ruffles his hair, his cat person reflexes kicking in. Oikawa grins up at him, no doubt about to tease him for it, when the doorbell rings. Both of them turn their heads towards the door, then back to each other.

“I'm not expecting any visitors?!”

“Did you mention where you live to Prince Charming?”, Oikawa asks, eyebrows raised.

“I didn't! Shut up, it's not him!” And not even the tiniest part of him has the irrational hope that it is him, after all. “It's probably just the post man?! Get off, I'll go look.”

Suga's heart is beating far too hard when he opens his door – only to find 6' 0.5" of concentrated nervousness come barrelling into his flat, already talking a mile an hour and waving a tiny bag like a possible lethal weapon.

“ - and I tried to reach you, I kept trying, but you didn't -”

“Asahi. Asahi. Hey. Calm down, it's fine, take a deep breath, okay?”

Suga places his hands on his best friend's shoulders and takes a deep breath himself, waits for Asahi to calm down enough that he can at least speak without the flurry of words bouncing all over the room without any words decipherable.

“What happened? Was it work again?”

Asahi nods furiously, his eyes wide. Sometimes it still amazes Suga how literally anyone could be scared of his glass hearted friend.

“Is it about your boss again?”

Asahi nods again, and the loose strands from his bun go flying everywhere while he tries to explain.

“Y-you … you … ! He … !”

Suga stares at him, suddenly all too aware of how Oikawa draped his arms over the back of the sofa and watches the scene unfold like another bad movie to amuse himself with.

“W-what about me?”

“W-why! Why did my boss give me cookies for you?!”

Chapter Text

This particular evening finds him nursing a cold and lonely drink, perched up on a bar stool and listlessly staring ahead. After the telephone wouldn't stop staying aggressively quiet (it had felt aggressive, alright?!) and Yui had given him yet another angry lecture which had been harsher than strictly necessary, really – well, Daichi had decided that a drink at the place around the corner couldn't be that bad.

There's not really much to see here – it's small, there's barely any people, only a low murmur of voices and occasional laughter which makes him frown because Daichi is becoming alarmingly bitter about feeling even more lonely now that he was actually out.
His empty flat felt less empty than being alone in the middle of people, and well, at least nobody has to see what a lonely loser he is. Here, anyone can see him hanging around and drinking by himself. Ugh.

This sucks. Moving sucks. Knowing nobody sucks. Not having the guts to just fucking call Suga sucks. And this beer tastes shitty.

The hair of the guy leaning on the counter across him sucks, too, and the smirk on his lips riles Daichi up even before he opens his mouth. And then it all just goes downhill from there.

“Lookin' pretty lonely there, huh,” he comments, words all laced with fake pity. Daichi's gaze snaps up and he violently denies to himself that this kind of distraction is actually sort of welcome to him, instead cursing the guy out in his mind already.

“It's none of your business.”

“You'll scare all my costumers away if you keep scowling into your drink.”

“It tastes like shit anyway.”

Now the whole thing is getting personal, and Daichi knows, and how sad is it that this is the most fun he had since Suga hung up on him?

“You got anything to say 'bout my drinks?”

“You can be glad I don't want a refund. Have you ever tasted this stuff?”

The black-haired guy stares at him long and hard.

“Sure,” he dead-pans. “I always drink on the job, 's what we do here.”

The sarcasm's lethal and leaves a silence Daichi knows he should break with something witty, but he hasn't met an asshole like that in a while, so his skills are all rusty. Jeez, he sucks at that whole social contact thing as a whole lately. Pathetic.

“Tell ya what,” the guy drawls, and it has Daichi wary immediately. “I'm gonna change your drink for something better. On the house. Now show me that pretty pretty smile of yours.”

Daichi really wishes this bullshit wouldn't get him so riled up, but there's something about the face of that guy that is just really inviting for a fist. It's not even Daichi's fault, okay?!

He makes a point of scowling even harder, but lets the guy take his glass away and whip up something new that looks completely ominous. Everything inside of Daichi tells him that he really so really badly should not even touch this stuff, but there's a challenge in the eyes of that goddamn bar tender and he'll be damned if he'll duck his head instead of living up to it. No time for hesitation.

He puts the glass to his lips, downing it in one go, and nearly spits the stuff into the guy's face. Somehow, through nothing but fucking willpower, he gulps it down, throat and eyes burning and no matter how hard he tries, he can't help coughing. Jesus fucking Christ.

“What the fuck was that stuff,” Daichi wheezes. That could positively burn any sickness from your body, and any health as well. No way in hell he'll touch more of it.

The bartender throws his head back and cackles, slapping his palm on the counter with entirely too much glee and pride in his dumb fucking prank.

“I fucking love it. Anytime. Any fucking time they try to gulp it down.”

“Oi, Kuroo,” someone calls from the other end of the room. “Don't tell me you did the Complain and Burn again!”

“Damn right I did!”, that Kuroo guy calls back, still grinning like a fucking cat who caught the fattest mouse without doing as much as lifting a paw. Unreal.

The one who called comes over, his face giving Daichi an immediate sense of calm and companionship, because he looks just as done as Daichi is with Kuroo's shit.

“That one's really getting old,” he tells Kuroo and takes a seat at the stool next to Daichi.

“Don't be such a spoilsport, Akaashi. You want a sip too?”

Akaashi doesn't answer, all he has to do is lift his eyebrows. He's so unimpressed Daichi barks out a laugh.

Behind him, there's another guy joining them, tall and broad-shouldered, looking as if you could scream right into his face and he wouldn't be disturbed, as if the sea would break before he would. Kind of intimidating, but so calm, Daichi is grateful that there are people who aren't like goddamn Kuroo. Wow, that guy. He still kind of wants to punch him.

“Hey, that was unfair. You owe him,” the third guy demands, taking up the stool at Daichi's other side. Daichi feels as if he's just passed some weird kind of initiation ritual.

“Yeah, yeah, Ushijima. Always so proper, jeez.”

Kuroo chuckles and gets up to come back with another round of drinks. Daichi eyes the glass he puts in front of him warily, not trusting anything anymore that fucking Kuroo serves him, his hand itching when Kuroo notices his distrust and laughs about it.

“Now you earned the good stuff.”

Daichi huffs and decides to give it another shot when Akaashi and Ushijima take up their glasses without hesitation. He's gotta admit, this stuff actually isn't bad, and having company is much better than staring at a wall and hating his life decisions.

“What's your name, newbie?”

Newbie. Sounds as if Daichi's fifteen or something. God does he hate Kuroo.

“It's Daichi,” he tells him anyway, mostly for the other two. They seem like they could be decent guys, actually.

“Welcome to the Black Cat, Daichi.”

Why does he have the feeling that he just signed up for a membership?

Eh, it's not that bad. He'll have a drink with these guys and maybe come back sometime, in the hopes that Kuroo is not here and the other two are, and since he's got paperwork to do, even on the weekend, he'll go home early anyway. Being responsible is the only thing he still trusts himself with.

---

“Okay, so -” Woah, words aren't his friends anymore, but those guys, jeez are those his friends. Unfortunately his brain is sorta betraying him too. Fuck. “Wait, where was I?”

“Cookies,” Kuroo sighs.

“Plants,” Ushijima supplies, with a lot more enthusiasm than Daichi would've expected.

“Right, right … uh, wait …” Man, what did he even want to say? Daichi has no idea anymore. That must've been Kuroo's fucking devil stuff. Or maybe the fact that somehow a new glass always appeared before him and Daichi just kinda kept drinking and talking and why on earth did they end up talking about Suga. What is this. What is his life.

“That guy, Asahi. At your work,” Akaashi says. “Who's called the same as his friend. Dude, that's not a coincidence.”

Akaashi taps the table as if he's working out a great mystery, a discovery that is absolutely crucial. Then Daichi realises that it is. This is about Suga after all. He can be so glad to have people who know how grave the situation is.

“You've got to ask him. That's your way to get back to him again. Right, Ushijima?”

The man nods earnestly, his brows furrowed in concentration.

“You have to give him cookies.”

Never in his life would Daichi have expected a man like Ushijima to tell him that he should get his crush cookies. Life sure is amazing.

“What, I just buy some cookies and give 'em to Asahi? Really? That goofball's nervous all the time anyway. Not sure his nerves would suffice.”

“Love will have its sacrifices,” Kuroo adds helpfully and earns a jab in the ribs by Akaashi, and both of them end up bickering about something. Ushijima does not have time for unnecessary things like that - he looks as if he's about to perform open heart surgery to save a life.

“You can't buy cookies. You have to make them yourself.”

“I can't bake,” Daichi tells him, because duh.

“All you have to do is stick to the recipe.”

“I'm pretty sure it's not that easy.”

“You can't just buy cookies.”

“But my cookies will be shit!”

“I'll get you a recipe. You can't just buy cookies.”

“Fine! Fine, I'll do it! Just please stop saying 'You can't just buy cookies', oh my God.”

“But you can't just buy cookies,” Kuroo shouts into his ear.

Daichi is pretty sure he did not punch Kuroo. Kinda. To be honest he's not exactly sure at all about what happened after that, but hey.

---

He wakes up with the worst headache he had since he was a dumb teenager who thought drinking too much was fun. Fuck. The night comes back to him in embarrassing bits and pieces as he makes water and pain killers his breakfast and inwardly cusses out the sun. And then it all comes crashing down when he sees the black marker on his arm.

I BROUGHT YOUR DRUNK ASS HOME AND KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE SO YOU BETTER COME BACK AND PAY FOR YOUR DRINKS ASSHOLE

Kuroo. Fucking Kuroo. Nobody else could've done that. Also, holy shit? Did he punch Kuroo yesterday?! His knuckles hurt. Holy shit. He will have to apologise. Oh man, this sucks. What the fuck. Daichi makes a mental note to never drink again, ever, when he catches a glimpse of more notes on his other arm.

It's an entire fucking cookie recipe, scribbled on his skin in neat letters. Incredible.

---

When he enters the Black Cat again, Daichi expects a multitude of things to happen, most of them including a punch or some yelling. Well, he gets the yelling.

As soon as he enters – and it should be way to soon for anyone but Kuroo to be here wiping some counters or doing some paperwork or whatever else a bartender has to do – some guy at the other end of the room jumps up and starts talking. Daichi assumes it's talking for him, he seems to treat it as such, but honestly, dude has no indoor voice. That's shouting.

“Oi, lover boy! You're lover boy, right?!”

Daichi is not sure whether he should be more offended at the nickname or the weird hair style the guy's got going on, all his alarm sirens really turn it up when the stranger comes running over.

“C'mon you are, right?! Young love! Awesome! I heard tons about you! You should totally show me that punch again! Man, wish I'd been there! I'm not here for like one night and miss all the cool stuff.”

Oh, shit. Oh man. Whoever this guy is, he knows about what happened last night. Well. That isn't worrisome at all.

The stranger beams at him, seemingly all honest excitement and glee, and Daichi feels like walking out backwards until his back hits the door to his own home again, and then staying in there, for a while.

“Ooooh, what's that?!”

The stranger's gaze zeroes in on the paper bag in Daichi's hands and he grumbles instead of saying anything back, because he spent his day a) with futile attempts at scrubbing sharpie off his skin and his arms still sting, this might as well be a fucking tattoo and b) yes, he did spend his day baking cookies. And now he wants Kuroo to have some as apology and, well, somebody will have to try them and if they are horrible, Daichi will laugh at him and it will be satisfying anyway.

Only that this plan doesn't work. Because weird-hairstyle no-indoor-voice guy snatches the bag from him and shoves the first cookie into his mouth, still grinning as he munches and mumbles around it: “Man those aren't bad! Ushi's recipe, yeah?”

“The fuck's the ruckus, Bokuto -”

Kuroo stops and raises his eyebrow at Daichi, still standing with his back to the doorway because Bokuto has not let him take another step inside yet (and Daichi had not felt like it anyway since the guy showed up).

“Here to pay your debts, lover boy?”

“Why's everyone calling me that?”, Daichi snaps, all his plans to be pleasant and properly apologise thrown to the wind by Kuroo's smirk. God, does that guy push his buttons by sheer existence.

“'Cause you spent two hours talking about a cat guy who drunk-dialled you,” Kuroo says, all dry, no apologies or fucks to be given. The bag Bokuto's still holding hostage has his attention, though. “Ooooh, hey, did Ushijima actually get you to do it? Man, I can't believe. Hey, Bo, hand those over, I want some, too.”

They're for him anyway, but Daichi can't bring himself to tell him. Okay, no. Maybe an apology. A tiny one. For punching him.

“Uh … sorry for … yesterday, y'know. And he didn't drunk-dial me, he was perfectly sober, Suga's just a little strange, but not in a bad way, it's -”

He stops himself there and when Daichi closes his mouth, he realises that this is exactly why they call him lover boy. He's so far gone, it's not even funny anymore.

Kuroo laughs at him, cheeks stuffed with a handful of cookies, but has the decency to only pick up the teasing again when he swallowed.

“Could be better, I'd try again if you wanna win a heart. And holy shit, Daichi, did you just try to apologise for punching me? That's what you meant, right?!”

Uh … yeah?

“Well, you piss me off, but I shouldn't have done that.”

Kuroo bursts out laughing, he actually doubles over. Daichi is offended and considers punching him again. Just, y'know. 'Cause he deserves it. The freaking Bokuto guy joins in with the laughter and Daichi just stands there, honestly considering just leaving before Kuroo speaks up again. Or more like, wheezes. Pathetically.

“You didn't even hit me – I mean, you tried, but you just punched the table instead.”

Oh. Well, that.

“And then you muttered 'Yui won't let me live that down' before you basically passed out.”

Bokuto claps him on the back with too much force.

“I love you, dude! You're so funny! Glad to have someone like you around!”

Except, he's not around. Daichi's gonna leave soon, he came to pay and apologise (unnecessary, fucking unnecessary). He doesn't mean to stay, not today and not in the future and -

“Now, time to pay up!” Kuroo claps his hands, all glee and a glint in his eyes and Daichi knows that this is still about the time he meant to punch a guy and hit a fucking table. “And sit down, Ushijima's gonna be here soon, he meant to check in on your and your cookies. Damn, that just lost me ten bucks. Didn't think you'd actually do it, man. He'll be so proud.”

Daichi spends his entire day in the goddamn Black Cat, and he can't explain how or why.

They come up with another excuse why he needs to come back everytime. And he does, 'for a few minutes'. But then he stays until it's late. He's not even drinking, he just keeps hanging out in this weird bar with this weird bunch of people and he's in increasing disbelief over what his life is becoming.

Especially since he spends the next days doing paperwork between the chaos in his kitchen. It never stops smelling like cookies in his flat and there's always some flour left over on the counter – but Daichi likes the smell when he gets back to his flat, and he hates it less to come back since he's not scooped up there anymore.

He brings new cookie batches, devoured by everyone and criticised. Kuroo always tells him he won't win a heart with this. Bokuto always loves everything. Akaashi tells him they're not bad, and Ushijima writes note after note of what he should change.

Batch number five does the trick. Kuroo shuts up. Bokuto begs Akaashi to let him use the kitchen again, which Akaashi refuses on grounds of horrible stories about emergencies at 3 a.m., flames and a neighbour's kid called Hinata who ended up in the hospital with fume poisoning and then excitedly begged Bokuto to bake with him again.

(Apparently his friend had been jealous over him getting to ride an ambulance.)

Daichi wonders how on earth he keeps hanging around all these people.

Ushijima pats his back and tells him he's done a good job and it makes Daichi prouder than he wants to admit. Only, now he'll actually have to talk to Asahi. Damn it.

And anyway, when did his love life get the topic number one in this goddamn bar?!

---

Asahi looks about three more sentences away from starting to shake so hard he'll just vibrate out of the room. Maybe calling him into his bureau wasn't such a good idea, but this is so embarrassing, Daichi doesn't just want to show up at Asahi's desk asking him.

God, what is he even doing with his life?

“Say, you wouldn't happen to have a friend called Suga?”

Words are out, cards on the table, no going back. This is so ridiculous. The interesting thing is, Asahi seems to settle, and something flashes in his eyes that takes Daichi off guard because he would not have expected it from his wimpy co-worker. He actually looks … fierce. No other word to describe it.

“In fact I do.” Why is his voice stronger than ever now? “What do you want with him.”

Daichi had not known Asahi could be like this. Damn.

“Uhm, it's -” Why is he suddenly the one fumbling for words now? “He has two cats, right? Princess and Buttercup?” Saying those names out loud sounds so horribly cheesy, Daichi wants to curse the lingering taste off his tongue.

His words make Asahi stop trembling completely. Suddenly, he has an actual presence in the room, doesn't look as if he's trying to hide away. No, this man is standing his ground, aware of his own height. When he's like this, Daichi actually quite likes him.

“Yes, that's Suga. As I said, what do you want with him?”

That sounds so protective, holy shit. Then again, Daichi is asking him strange questions about his friend he should not know so much about. Well, time to make this even weirder.

“Could you please give him this?”

Asahi takes the bag as if it might blow up in his face, brows furrowed.

“It's important,” Daichi hurries to say, because he's afraid Asahi might dispose of the cookies in some trash can and he worked way too fucking hard on finally getting them right. Asahi seems to pick up on the urgency in his voice and nods earnestly - it reassures Daichi, somewhat, because there's a high chance Suga will actually get them.

But that's also the most unsettling part of it.

---

He's not in the bar tonight for the first time in nearly a week and it gives Daichi too much time to think and the phone too much time to stay quiet. The silence gives him room to panic and that's exactly what he does, right up until the phone actually rings.

Daichi knows it's Suga before he picks up.

“I think those cookies are magic,” Suga tells him, first thing. Daichi smiles, his eyes fluttering shut at the sound of his voice. How could you miss someone that much when you only talked to him once?

“So you won't come beat me up with your crutches?”

“Tell you what, I got rid of them already. Good thing for Oikawa, that mug stealing devil.”

The only reason Daichi doesn't assume Oikawa is a third cat is that he heard the name before somewhere. And, well. It's not nearly cheesy enough to be a cat name courtesy of Suga. Also, cats usually don't actually steal mugs.

“Who's Oikawa?”

“My neighbour from hell. I had him over for bad movie night today. Have you ever watched Rubber? It sure makes you question humanity as a whole.”

“Whatever Rubber is, it can't be worse than Birdemic.”

“Birdemic?”

“Watch it. Trust me. You will weep for your sanity.”

“Oh, Lord. Oikawa's gonna love that.”

“Maybe the cookies will let you survive it.”

Yeah, he's getting back to the cookies again. He's damn proud of those, okay?

“Those cookies could revive me from the dead. Forget true love's kiss. These cookies are what it's all about. I could kiss y- I mean, 'cause like, they're. Really delicious.”

Suga stops abruptly and Daichi's brain goes asdfiurghrigh. There's several heartbeats of awkward silence, before Suga clears his throat.

“Yeah, uh – anyway, how've you been?”

“I missed you,” is the first thing Daichi blurts in response, which is highly accurate and highly embarrassing. Suga chuckles, warm and nice and wonderful.

“I missed you too. I though you forgot about me, I mean - I'm just the strange cat person.”

“You're Suga. I wouldn't forget about you. Uhhh, actually – I thought you'd forget about me.”

“What?! That's ridiculous.”

They're both silent for a second before they both burst out laughing, and Daichi rubs his face, feeling a little giddy and very warm.

“We're both idiots, aren't we?”

“The biggest idiots,” Suga confirms.

Daichi settles down on the sofa again, comfortable and smiling, and only now does he realise how easy it is, talking to Suga. Everything else might cause him a headache, but this, this is like smiling when you were happy, something that simply happened and made you feel good.

“You freaked out Asahi and Yachi.”

“I knew about Asahi, but who's Yachi?”

“A friend of mine, and another neighbour. She was pretty convinced they were poisoned.”

“The guy who gave me the recipe insisted on sticking to it, I'm pretty sure poison wasn't on there anywhere.”

“That's nice, 'cause I would've eaten them anyway, probably. What a great way to go out.”

“That'd be too bad, though.”

“Yeah, actually. There's still so many cookies to eat and cats to adopt.”

Daichi laughs, just because he feels so good, just because it's so nice to hear Suga's voice again. And because he's still so ridiculous.

“Speaking of how nice not dying is – how's your plant?”

“Shit.”

Daichi. Go water it. This is insane, do I have to call you anytime your plant needs water?”

“Actually, I wouldn't object.”

There it is. The question, finally. Are we going to be talking more from now on?

“Well, I have a duty then. Sugawara Koushi, guardian of the plants.”

---

The next day, a very flustered Asahi brings Daichi a small yellow watering can. He manages to keep the laughter in for the time it takes Asahi to leave, and then Daichi laughs until he cries and puts it in his bag to take it home.

 

He calls Suga in the evening.

“Nice colour.”

“I know, right? Don't you just love bright colours in winter?”

Chapter Text

His morning starts with a text message from Daichi, so it starts inherently good. Then Suga squints into the horrid light of his phone and reads the name and, ugh. Oikawa was at it again.

from: suga's prince charming~, 5.23 a.m.
Lots of ice outside. Take care!

Torn between sassing back and feeling warm because Daichi had sent him a message before he left for his pre-work morning run (that insane guy), Suga settles for switching Daichi's name back to an actual simple Daichi and getting himself a fix of coffee before texting back.

to: daichi, 8.03 a.m.
you too. ice is the enemy. dont let it get you

He manages one sip of his coffee before Buttercup meows loudly on the windowsill of the kitchen, the rudest kind of meow, and looks him dead in the eye as she paws at the new little plant pot on there. Suga spends his morning cursing and sweeping off the miserable remains of the latest casualty in a long row of tragic incidents while Buttercup loudly munches her fresh bowl of cat food – the pink one Oikawa bought her - and Princess is his shining beacon of hope as she nudges his hand with her nose like an apology on the troublechild's behalf.
He snaps a picture of the pitiful remains left on the dustpan and sends it to Daichi.

this is why you should appreciate your opportunity to grow plants

They've sorta started getting into this routine. Daichi's memory card is filled with pictures of cats, plants and one picture of Suga's shockingly empty cupboard that is currently only holding three (3) of the original, much larger number of mugs.

In return, Suga gets pictures of the sunsets Daichi sees, because he's a ridiculous person who is able to function in the morning, even without getting coffee, and Suga will never see a sunrise when he has the option to sleep in instead. Waking up to pictures of them, though. He can appreciate that.

There's some pictures of trees, too – 'for the plant lover' – and one picture that has no doubt been the highlight of it all, because Daichi showed the remnants of the smudged sharpie on his arm and Suga might have. Found that arm very, very, very attractive.

How could a forearm and an open hand be that sexy? Science has zero explanation. Maybe it was the rolled up sleeves, they're everyone's weakness. The rest is probably a Daichi thing. The bad part is, his arms look exactly as strong as his voice suggests he might be and Suga found actual further proof for his 'you could feel very safe in his arms' theory. How is he supposed not to react to that?

He sort of might have a thing for arms. But only in this case. He sort of might have a really big thing for Daichi in general. Goddammit.

Later, Daichi sends him a picture of a printer that has been acting up, saying it might get along with Suga's oven.

The day is calm and peaceful.

That is until Suga comes home from work to see Oikawa sprawled out over his sofa, Buttercup purring on his chest like a little angel as he's lazily switching through channels without paying much attention to anything going on. Suga furrows his eyebrows. That's strange, even for him. Why on earth would he spend half his day here? That's what it looks like, at least, judging from the candy wrappers sprawled around him.

“Hey, did anything happen?”

Oikawa turns around to him, with that smile that's meant to hide anything he might feel, and does nothing but confirm Suga's suspicions that something is going on.

“Welcome home! I just felt like hanging with my favourite darling.”

He cranes his neck to peck Buttercup's forehead and the spoiled thing leans into the touch, her purring intensifying.

Oikawa's tone is light, conversational, and it builds an invisible wall. Something is off, but he's not ready to let Suga in on it yet. Suga can only hope that he will be ready soon, because as annoying and exhausting Oikawa can be, he only wants the best for him.

Oikawa picks up Buttercup and carries her on his arms like a cheap villain knock-off with his evil cat sidekick, and the dang cat lets her paws dangle down without an ounce of protest in her body.

“So~, Suga-chan! We have business to talk!”

Suga pointedly lets his keys clatter down on the table, which brings him an offended squint by Buttercup.

“I'm not even properly home yet. Nope, we're not gonna do this.”

“Did you finally send a selfie? Or did he?”

“Why would I!”, Suga snaps, much too protective, he's aware.

“So he didn't.” Suga wants to hiss at him. “And you should 'cause then you could confirm whether dreamy phone stranger is as hot as you think he is. Maybe it'd be motivation enough to finally go meet him.”

Meet him. Suga is screeching inwardly, part of him yelling 'HELL NO' and the other part of him shouting 'HELL YEAH' back, leaving him deaf and a little helpless in the middle of it.

“I can't just go meet hi-”

“Oh my God, Suga. Please. You can't be serious.”

Buttercup, who apparently had enough of this, wriggles around on Oikawa's arms until he lets her down, and off she struts. Suga wishes he could just do the same.

“It's been like a month. You two text like teenagers in love for the first time, you texted him about spilling coffee on your apron at work.

“It was a cat shaped spill,” Suga mutters in his defense.

“Even worse. You talk like five times a week. For hours. I don't even know what you two could possibly be talking about. And I really don't wanna know,” he adds, just as Suga opens his mouth to reply.

“Honestly, just invite him over for game night so we can determine if he's worthy of you.”

Worthy of – game night invitation – unspeakable horrors go along with those words. Dear Lord. That would be such a gigantic trainwreck. Asahi trembling as he tries to play a board game with his feared boss. Oikawa, Iwaizumi and Kiyoko teaming up to ask overwhelmed Daichi awkward, weirdly specific questions, and poor Yachi trying to resolve the tension, but making it worse while Suga slowly, slowly sinks into the ground and prays to vanish.

“W-worthy of -”, he splutters, the horros of that particular daydream burned into his retinas. “We're not even -”

“Don't start with this bullshit. In fact I think I could find Daichi myself if I followed the no doubt physical manifestation of his giant crush on you.”

“He's not -”

“The guy made you cookies, for goodness' sake! Just, meet him. Smooch him. It'll be good for you.”

“I don't think he wants to smooch me.”

Oikawa points a finger at him.

“Suga-chan. Everyone wants to smooch you. The only question is, who do you want to smooch? Cookie prince is certainly lucky.”

Suga splutters, but he doesn't dare say anything back because he's scared of what Oikawa might reply to that. This entire train of thought should come to a halt before it rushes down a cliff.

“Call him today.”

“He doesn't have time today. Anyway, when you're here already – care to help me make dinner?”

“By that you mean 'let the cook do the work, because what else would befriending a cook be good for'?”, Oikawa asks with raised eyebrows, and Suga grins wide at him and punches his shoulder.

“Exactly!”

 

---

 

from: you should really ask this guy out, suga-chan~, 11.02 p.m.
Some days are just. The worst.

to: stop changing his name in my phone or i NEVER WILL, 11.04 p.m.
you wanna talk about it?

from: stop changing his name or i NEVER WILL, 11.05 p.m.
Nah. Forget it. Sorry I sent that

from: stop changing his name or i NEVER WILL, 11.05 p.m.
Good night, Suga

Suga rolls over, getting a tired protesting mewl from Princess as she rolls of his lap and curls up comfortably again right where she landed. He changes Daichi's name back, his brows furrowed as he squints at the only light source in his room.

to: Daichi, 11.07 p.m.
dont apologise. you could always talk to me you know that right

He waits a little, but there's no reply.

to: Daichi, 11.13 p.m.
goodnight daichi

 

---

 

 

Suga wakes with a gasp, completely disoriented. There's a really loud, irritating noise and as he's blindly fumbling for the source in the darkness he grabs some fur, an ear, gets bitten and finally realises his phone is ringing.

Who on earth would call him at such an ungodly hour. Any person who knows him should be aware of the fact that interrupting his sleep is a very grave mistake. Whoever it is, they will burn for this, they will -

It's Daichi. Suddenly, everything is different, and Suga flips his phone open hastily.

“Daichi?”, he asks, tongue still tired, the name heavy on it. He's furiously rubbing at his eyes trying to get himself awake and kick his brain to work. Suga's starting time is about as fast as a computer's from back in the nineties.

On the other end of the line, there's just silence. He can hear Daichi breathe, or maybe it's static, he's not entirely sure.

“Daichi?”, he repeats again, softer this time.

“Sorry for waking you,” Daichi rasps on the other end. “I'll leave you to sleep, this was a dumb idea, I -”

“No, no, wait. Don't hang up.”

Suga sits a little more comfortably, pulling the blanket around his lap. The sulking Princess comes back to lie down in that nest, and goes straight back to sleep. He rests one hand on her side, soothed by feeling her soft breathing. He's really, really worried about Daichi.

Daichi is still silent, but he hasn't hung up on him yet.

“I don't know why I even called you in the first place. Sorry for waking you.”

“Usually I'd have your head, but you're the exception.”

Oh. His brain-to-mouth filter is severely damaged by the lack of sleep.

Daichi breathes out loudly, the sleepy version of a snort.

“Glad to hear that. Sorry anyway.”

He sounds just as weary and tired as Suga, but with an edge to it. An edge that makes Suga want to reach out and wrap him up in a warm hug, because something like that should not swing in Daichi's voice.

“What's going on, Daichi?”

Silence again. But this time, when he speaks, Daichi actually answers him.

“Dunno, it's … dumb …” He sounds all rugged, his voice low and breathy. Suga hates that he notices that like he does now of all times. “'S just …”

Silence. Suga has the feeling if he is patient enough, Daichi will tell him anyway.

“Do you ever … feel like … being … lonely … is choking you up?”

He almost chokes on his words and Suga closes his eyes against the painful tug inside of him. This hits far too close to home.

“Yeah,” he rasps back. “Yeah, I do. Used to, all the time.”

It's hard, hard to say it out loud, but he does. He does.

Daichi breathes out, sounding so relieved it breaks Suga's heart a little. As if he expected to be belittled for feeling this way. Never, not in a million years.

“It sucks,” Daichi says, voice too small and fragile.

“But you're not,” Suga tells him. “You're not lonely. I'm here, okay? You could call me anytime. I know I can't do much – it's not much, but -”

“It is.”

Suga suddenly feels very, very warm.

“It's a lot. Thank you, Suga. I feel better already, just … hearing your voice.”

“I'm glad.”

Daichi tries a soft little chuckle.

“Me too. When we're on that sappy note already – I'm really glad you accidentally called me. That was the best thing that happened to me … all year, probably.”

One day, Sawamura Daichi will be the end of him.

“Me too. I'm really glad I met you. Even when we haven't even met yet.”

Oh, oh, heck. He didn't mean to say that. Not like that anyway.

“Yeah …,” Daichi mumbles and Suga wants to smother his face in a pillow to keep himself from saying more idiotic things like my neighbor thinks smooching you would be good for my soul and I'd like to know if you look as good as I think you do.

“I was thinking about that, too, but, like. I'm … it's … God, no, don't listen to me.”

“It's scary,” Suga whispers, in his stead. Daichi sounds relieved that he did.

“Yeah, right? Like, what if we don't even know what to talk about when we're face to face?”

“Or what if you see how much of a loser I really am?”

“What if you realise how much of a loser I really am.”

“What if you get excited and punch a table.”

“Goddammit, Suga.”

They laugh, Daichi sounding like he can't help it even if he doesn't want to and Suga waking Princess with it. It's a rough night for her.

“I can't believe you punched a table.”

“I'll just stop telling you stuff in the future.”

“Aww, then where would I get my entertainment of the day?”

“Glad to keep you entertained. Anyway, if I promise not to punch any tables – would you want to meet up?”

Suga's heart skips a beat. Maybe two. Is it still beating? No, wait. It's very much still beating. Racing, more like.

“I'm still a little scared.”

“Me too. Let's do it?”

“Okay. Let's do it.”

Suga struggles free from his blankets and rolls over to actually s mother his face in his pillow, keeping in a screech. Oh, gosh. He's gonna meet Daichi. He's gonna see Daichi.

“Wait, but – where do we wanna meet?”

“If you say a coffeeshop, I'll punch you,” Suga threatens.

“Then what about a place that sells caffeinated drinks?”

“I hate you so much.”

Suga is pretty sure Daichi is wearing a smug little smile. What a dork.

“No, but – what about a restaurant? I could invite you to Le Cygne Blanc.”

That's the restaurant Oikawa always complains about, the one that belongs to his sort-of-friend-mostly-archnemesis. It's a starred restaurant, and expensive as hell.

“Do you have any idea how expensive that is.”

“I know the guy who owns it, so I guess he'd make me a good price? But, okay, maybe that's a little too formal …”

Oikawa's restaurant would be perfect, to be honest, but the chain of gossip there is perfect as well. Absolutely flawless. Oikawa would know all the details of their meet-up at the end of the day. Hell, even before it was over. Suga will eat there over his dead body.

“There's this place I've always wanted to try? It's called the Flightless Crow. I have no idea what the food's like, but it's supposed to be good?”

“Sounds amazing. When are you free? God, my schedule is full next week.”

“Same for me, I think …” Suga can feel his heart sink. The week after this one? That's so far away. He's already shaking with nerves just thinking about meeting Daichi, but he's also thrilled to finally get to see him. He wants to know if Daichi's eyes actually twinkle when Suga thinks they would, what his smile is like, what he looks like when he does that raspy thing with his voice, what he'd look like teasing him. He wants to know how he moves and if he uses his hands to gesture, he wants to know what he even looks like.

“I'd have time tomorrow,” Daichi blurts.

“T-tomorrow?!”

“Yeah, sorry, that's too soon, right. Don't mind me. Let's do it in two wee-”

“No, no, wait. I'd, uhm. I'd actually. Be free too. Y'know.”

“Oh.”

“Yep.”

“So …? Tomorrow …?”, Daichi asks, dragging his words out. He sounds just as incredulous as Suga feels about what's happening here right now.

“If that's okay?”

“It is. God, that's. Wow. That is really soon.”

“I know. Jeez.”

“Do you think we'll get a table at the Flightless Crow?”

“It's not that big or fancy. We should, I think.”

“Okay, awesome. So, uh. Maybe at six?”

“At six at the restaurant.”

“Yes.”

“How do we recognise each other?”, Suga asks him.

Silence, as they're both thinking.

“I won't take your yellow watering can along.”

Suga bursts out laughing.

“I'm not asking you to, no worries. What if we're really sappy and take flowers along?”

“Flowers.” Daichi says that like other people would say 'taxes' or the name of the dog who pooped on their lawn.

“I'll take them both home and can fool myself that just for two days I can have some plants here, too.”

“Anything for your plant loving heart.”

“I'm so touched, Daichi.”

“You should be. Okay, so. Tomorrow, at six, at the Flightless Crow.”

“I'm the one with the flower.”

“I can't believe you're making me bring along a flower.”

“You could also take the watering can.”

“Flowers sound nice.”

Suga laughs again, and then he snuggles into his pillow, suddenly very sleepy and very giddy at the same time.

“I'll see you tomorrow, Daichi.”

“I'll, I'll see you tomorrow.”

 

---

 

Nobody told Daichi buying flowers could be that hard.

And he thought surviving the bar surveillance was bad. After spending far too long in front of his closet and the mirror, a thirty minute long emergency call with Yui and finally picking something fancy, but still casual enough to make him look good, but not like he was trying too hard that also shows that he is trying just the right amount.

Getting dressed has never been more complicated in his life.

But, finally, after having Kuroo, Akaashi, Bokuto and Ushijima look him over from all sides, he got the general approval and several claps on his back.

“Go get him,” Kuroo told him, and his voice sounded strangely soft. What the heck. Then Daichi got very much shoved out of the door.

And now, he's here.

“So, it is a special person to you?”

“Uh, yeah. But, like. No red roses.”

“Oh, is it a good friend?”

“No. Yes. That too, but – uh. It's just – I can't show up with red roses, so just give me any other flower? Aren't those nice?” He points at some other red ones. Red's a pretty colour, just not on roses.

The florist turns around, then shakes her head. Dammit. What is wrong with those flowers?! They're just flowers.

“Those mean 'You're dumb' in flower language.”

Oh. Whoops.

“Okay, then not those. Uh, what means 'Nice to meet you'?”

The woman shakes her head again. She's about two heads smaller than him, and her voice is the exact opposite of Bokuto's lack of indoor voice. Combined they'd make a pleasant volume. But she does stand her ground about this dumb flower.

“So … do you have feelings for that person?”

Why does he have to tell his life story to buy a flower. What is this. He should meet Suga in ten minutes, and he'll be late because he was too busy explaining his crush to a florist.

“I guess I kinda do?! Is that really important. Please don't give me a red rose, I really don't want to push it into his face. We've never met before.”

Something flashes in the florist's eyes, but maybe Daichi imagined it. She does look happy, though.

“I have just the flower for you.”

When she comes back, she gently hands him a pretty white one, looking innocent enough. Daichi carefully holds it in his hands.

“It's a gardenia. It means 'You're lovely'.” She smiles softly, and Daichi can't say it's not a nice meaning, especially considering that nobody would ever find out about it because who the fuck would recognize a freaking gar... whatever.

He thanks the florist and tips her appropriately, and then he breaks into a sprint on the street because he should be at the restaurant in two minutes.

It's a tiny establishment, and it does look nice enough. Lanterns are framing the building, basking it in warm light against the darkness of the winter sky. When Daichi pushes the door open – after taking his time to breathe a little, not look like he just sprinted here, and finding out that he's exactly six minutes late already – a soft jingling bell greets him along with the warmth, and he's impressed when he finds out that it's not that small after all.

Inside, there's more lanterns and warm light, tasteful soft music in the background, the low chatter around just loud enough to not make it seem like some high class thing. The colours are brown, cream and orange and work quite nicely together, and Daichi is absolutely not completely losing it as his gaze swipes through the restaurant. Somewhere here, there's got to be Suga. Suga. Suddenly it hits him.

Holy. Shit.

He's about to meet Suga. After a month worth of always panicking too much to even ask him to meet up.

Oh Lord. Oh. Lord.

A hundred what if scenarios rush through his head as he walks deeper into the restaurant, and then he catches sight of a white flower, exactly the same as his, carefully cradled in folded hands. His heart stops beating and the world stops turning and everything goes quiet. Daichi looks up, and his breath hitches in his throat as he catches sight of the man sitting there.

He's … there are too many adjectives rushing through his mind, but he always comes back to the same one: beautiful. Nothing could be said about Suga other than that he's beautiful, as beautiful as his voice and his laughter. More beautiful than the flower, which pales next to him. He's stunning, just sitting there with his cheek on his hand, looking at a picture hung on the wall, shoulders rising and falling in an unheard sigh.

Next to him, Daichi suddenly doesn't feel as attractive as everyone in the bar had assured him he is, each of them in their own way. (Especially Bokuto had expressed the sentiment in a very … colourful way.)

Suga's gaze turns, meets his, and it's like in one of those fucking movies Yui sometimes makes him watch out of spite (she still cries about them everytime), where everything slows and the cheesy music grows louder.

There is no music, he doesn't hear or see anything but Suga. Everything slows and stops.

Daichi freezes – and notices that something changes in Suga's gaze.

Then the waiter runs into him, tray first.

 

---

 

“Oh my God,” Suga gasps, kneeling in front of him. The first two buttons of his dress shirt are open and Daichi appreciates how his collarbone peaks out a little. He doesn't appreciate the pulsating pain in his mouth, but you can't have everything in life.

“Are you okay?! Oh my God.”

It's strange. It's Suga's voice, but it comes from this ridiculously pretty man's mouth who's kneeling in front of him, avoiding the puddle of soft drinks on the floor. It can't be that big – most of the soft drinks were soaked up by Daichi's left pant leg. The waiter might've caught the two glasses by some miracle, but they still spilled completely.

“It'sh nofin.”

Suga's gaze falls down to the floor and his eyes widen in horror.

“Oh my God, Daichi, is that a tooth.”

Daichi looks down at the bloody tooth and considers for a second.

“Nah.”

“Sir, I am so sorry -”, the waiter says for the third time, only he sounds more passive-aggressive each time and Daichi doesn't want to deal with him right now.

“Daichi, God, we need to get you to the hospital or something.”

“Wha- no! I'm fine!”

“You got smacked in the face with a tray. You're bleeding.”

He can't believe that this is his first time talking to Suga. He can't believe he spent two hours on perfecting his outfit only to have his pants soaked in drinks with too much sugar and blood on his favourite shirt. And one tooth less.

“I'm telling you,” he repeats. “I'm fine. Jusht need a bafroom. Order shomefing, waiter'sh here anyway. I'll be right shere.”

He picks up his tooth because it seems like the right thing to do and tries not to let on how absolutely humiliated he feels. No, he's got this. He's still attractive. Even when he finds out that his cheek is starting to swell already and even when he's still bleeding. And even when his pants are soaked.

He uses approximately half the paper towels of the men's restroom to stop the bleeding and try his best to pat his pants dry, resolving that sticky legs won't ruin his evening with Suga. By the time the bleeding stopped and only the lingering taste of blood is left, twenty minutes passed. Suga is sitting at his table again, fidgeting. On Daichi's side of the table, there's a blue ice pack, and he presses it to his face gratefully after he sits down.

Holy hell, does that hurt. Holy. Hell.

“Are you sure you're okay?”, Suga asks, eyes clouded over with worry. Daichi forgets to answer him as he notices their colour, the warmest brown he's ever seen, rich and deep and beautiful. “You're not. You're not, oh God, we should really go see a doctor -”

“No, no, wait! Sorry -” By now, he's only slightly lisping and he's trying his hardest not to mouth at the place where a fucking tooth is missing. “Was distracted.”

Some pain killers would be nice, though. Apparently, Suga can read minds, because he offers him some and Daichi chucks them down gratefully.

Gosh, all this would be a whole lot easier and nicer without his face hurting and the damn tooth in his pocket.

“So, uh …” Suga rubs his neck awkwardly, smiling a sheepish smile at him. Daichi's heart feels like it just doubled in size by seeing that smile. “Hi, I guess? It's nice to meet you. Sorry that you got hit by a tray.”

“Hey. Sorry that I started our evening with a bang. Literally.”

Suga snorts, quickly hiding his smile behind his hand, obviously trying to hold it together out of decency before he cracks up and giggles. He honest to God giggles, and it's the most adorable thing Daichi has ever witnessed. Dear Lord. How is his heart supposed to survive this evening. How can he be so smitten with Suga? How is it fair that he's so pretty and that his laughter sounds even nicer when he's physically there, across from him.

“Oh, God. You gigantic dork,” Suga wheezes, smile still on his lips.

“That's no way to talk to an injured person.”

“You're not the one talking. Weren't you the one who asked me how I'd kick you with that hurt ankle of mine.”

“God, you remember.”

“I don't forget people who cross me, I'm warning you right here and now.”

Suga's smile is the most beautiful thing in the entire world, Daichi decides.

And even now, face to face and with the dull pain and with his heart suddenly striving for a professional career in acrobatics, talking with Suga comes so easy.

He's so relieved and happy.

 

---

 

The food is free for them, which is pretty awesome. Daichi's not mad because he wanted to invite Suga and now that's ruined too. He chews on his left side and barely tastes any blood anymore, and the pain doesn't really matter, not since he keeps making Suga laugh. It's a new talent he has discovered brings him about 3000% more joy now that he can see Suga's smiles and laughter play out on that ridiculously beautiful face of his.

He's got it so bad for this guy. No return. One-way ticket, trapped forever.

Suga talks so much, even Daichi eats faster than him, which is a miracle since he can barely eat thanks to having had a tooth knocked out two hours ago. (He'll seriously have to get this checked out later, what will his colleagues think?)

It's the same as usual – they talk cats (Suga talks cats, he always does) and volleyball, family, life. Suga goes on a rant about a woman who sat down in a restaurant to eat mozzarella sticks for 14 hours and cracks up so bad while telling his story, he can barely finish it.

Daichi still can't tell whether the waiter is sorry or hates him, but, well. They do get the food for free, and when they're back out in the cool night air, Suga quietly asks him if he'd like to walk with him a little. Daichi would've probably followed him to the end of the world if he had asked, so there's really no question there.
Walking side by side, Daichi can't help but sneak glances at Suga's hand, waving as he walks, eyes up to the sky far too often. He'd love to hold his hand.

God, he wants to hold his hand so badly. He can do it. All he has to do is reach out. What could happen? Suga could pull away. That wouldn't be the end of the world. Daichi's not a wimp. He'll reach out, and he'll hold his hand.

He will.

Any second now.

When they reach the next street corner.

Or the one after that.

The next one, for sure.

“Oh.” Suga stops abruptly. “Wow, we're nearly back at my place now. I didn't even notice. Uh, maybe I should go back and leave you be now? It's getting late.”

“I'll walk you home! If you want me to.”

That didn't sound too enthusiastic, right? Right. He's got this. He's cool.

“That'd be nice.”

They keep walking, and this time they stay quiet, but it's comfortable. Little puffs of air form in front of their mouths as they breathe, and the world seems to belong to them only, even the occasional cars passing them by belong to the scenery, fades into the background. Daichi feels warm in the cold, and his hand, curled against his side feels empty, and the sky overhead shows more stars than he's ever seen in this city. Or maybe, he simply had never noticed before.

He could walk on like this forever, in this peaceful, perfect little bubble of theirs, but eventually, Suga does stop at the front door of the much rumoured apartment complex full of cats, stealing neighbours and possessed ovens. Daichi wishes he could come upstairs, not because he wants to do more today, even though, well, he wouldn't say no, but – he'd also like to sit down and keep talking. Keep seeing Suga's smile a little longer.

Daichi curses himself for having his mind stuck on the doing more part though. No, bad thoughts. Bad, bad thoughts.

“Thank you for today,” Suga tells him, his voice warm and soft. “It was really amazing. And I'm glad you didn't punch a table.”

Goddammit, will anyone ever let him live that down?! He grumbles a little, and it makes Suga smile wider.

“You're not as charming as you think you are.”

Suga's actually more charming, but Daichi doesn't plan to spell that out for him.

Suga keeps smiling, a hint of mischief in his eyes.

“Are you really sure about that?”

Daichi steps a little closer, just half a step, involuntarily.

“Yeah,” he breathes, lowering his voice without meaning to. Suga leans in a little as well, and Daichi's heart beats in his throat and fingertips, his entire body, humming with electricity.

“I'm quite charming,” Suga whispers, and a chorus inside of Daichi harmonises a perfectly timed 'Yes'.

“Oh, really?”, Daichi rasps, his voice barely more than a rumble. He's glad it's even still working.

“Yeah, really,” Suga hums as reaches up, tugging the tiniest bit on Daichi's jacket's collar, diminishing the last of distance between them with this tiny gesture, the look in his eyes setting Daichi's skin on fire. His stomach feels as if Daichi just dropped downwards on a freefall tower, an insanely intense fluttering sensation.

He is falling. God is he falling for this man.

Suga's gaze drops down to his lips, and Daichi's heart throws itself against his ribcage as if determined to close the last space between them by forcing him forwards. He reaches up, hoping it's okay to cup Suga's cheek with his cold fingers, but his hand freezes mid-air as Suga sucks in a breath and takes half a step back.

It's barely anything, and yet, suddenly, there's miles between them and the disappointment floods Daichi's entire body.

“Uh, I … I think you're bleeding again,” Suga mumbles, nearly stumbling over his own words.

No. Fucking. Way.

“A-anyway, I – uh, I had a lot of fun today. Good night, Daichi.”

Daichi stands, rooted into place, as Suga presses a soft kiss to his cheek, his skin burning where Suga's lips touched it.

He's still standing there, even after Suga vanished through the door. A few scattered flakes of snow started falling, and he's standing the middle of a lonely road, touching the tingling space where Suga had kissed him with his fingertips.

Chapter Text

Daichi makes it past one street corner before he realises that he has zero idea where the fuck he is. God, new cities suck. He sure as hell can't go back and ring Suga's doorbell, so his only option is to find a street name and let Yui googlemaps his way home. He thumbs through his contacts, hesitating when the name Kuroo flashes up. When the fuck had Kuroo put his number in his contacts.

What the heck. At least he's closer than Yui. He hits call and holds the phone to his ear.
“Yo,” Kuroo greets him, not the least surprised that Daichi would call. “How'd your date go?”

He ignores him impulse to deny that it was a date – there were fucking flowers and an almost kiss – and cuts straight to the point.

“I fucked up and I have no idea where I am.”

“Oh, jeez. Fuck. Okay, tell me me which street you're at. I'll come get you.”

Daichi is taken aback by it, but he does read the sign he can decipher in the light of the street lamp to Kuroo.

“Eh, that's close to the library. Yeah, gimme a minute, I'll be right there.”

He hangs up on him, and just like that, Daichi is left waiting, his cheek still aching. He starts wondering what people do about a knocked out tooth. Five minutes pass, and he's pretty sure Kuroo set him up for another prank. Goddammit. What's this one called, Fuck up and Freeze to Death? He's about to call Yui when he can see Kuroo come walking towards him, fists pushed deep into the pockets of his dark coat. He looks strangely calm and down to earth. Maybe it's the quiet of the night.

“Yo, lover boy. You doin' alright?”

His voice is free of all teasing, he looks … genuine.

“Why'd you come pick me up?”, is the first thing Daichi can say to him.

Kuroo raises his eyebrows right under his ridiculous fringe.

“You're kidding.”

“I'm just some customer. Most times I don't even drink.”

Kuroo looks at him as if he's never seen someone quite so stupid, which is funny because Daichi witnessed him burn half of Bokuto's eyebrows off while trying to make a flame thrower from an orange peel. There were also all the horrendous half-truths about the Cola & Mentos Debacle. Whatever had really gone down, Daichi is glad he wasn't there to witness it.

“And what do you think, I just let anyone not paying for drinks hang around in my bar?”

Uh … now that Daichi thinks about it …

“... maybe?”

“How dense are you. We're friends?!”

“Wait, we are?”

Kuroo looks about two seconds away from turning around and smacking his forehead against the street lamp out of sheer exasperation.

“Daichi. For just a second, please, try using your brain. You see me how often a week?”

“Uh …”

Almost every evening? On Saturdays, everyone's usually in the bar, and all hell breaks loose. The other days, Ushijima's barely ever seen, Bokuto drops in from time to time, Akaashi in tow occasionally. The only person who's always there is, obviously, Kuroo. But it's not like they really hang out? Daichi's simply found that he works better with something other than silence in the background, so most times he'll take paperwork along and work on it at the table that has somehow become his. When Kuroo has a free minute, he comes by and they banter, and then Kuroo goes back to work and Daichi does too.

The only other people Daichi talks to that often are Yui and Suga. One being his best friend, and the other his … well.

Holy shit. Is he friends with Kuroo?!

“But … I don't really know that much about you?”

“Well,” Kuroo mumbles, looking up at the sky as he starts moving. Daichi falls into step with him, not really much of an alternative there. “You never ask.”

Oh.

Oh.

“Shit. I've been kind of a huge asshole, haven't I?”

“Don't make a big deal out of it.”

It kind of is one, though. If Kuroo is his friend, then Daichi wants to do this right, so barely knowing anything about him won't do.

“Okay, so … do you have any pets? Hobbies? A girlfriend?”

Kuroo snorts.

“Daichi, please. Haven't you realised I run the gayest bar in this city? And you expect me to have a girlfriend?”

Well, they were pretty relaxed about Daichi's crush on a dude from the get-go, but the gayest bar of this city? Really?

“Well, I dunno about Ushijima 'cause that guy never has a crush on anyone. He's married to his restaurant and probably has a thing for his plants.”

“Kuroo, gross.”

“Yeah, who's into plants?”

“Not that, you. You're the gross one. See, that's why I never asked you about stuff.”

Kuroo bumps his shoulder against Daichi's and laughs.

“You cheeky bastard. So, hobbies? I knit. It's my passion.”

“Kuroo, please.”

“I do knit. Just not passionately. It's pretty relaxing.”

“You're not for real.”

Kuroo pointedly looks at him, raising his eyebrows and hands, wriggling his gloved fingers before pointing at his hat with two pointer fingers.

“Self-made. Boom, sit down. Can you make cool hats and gloves? I don't think so.”

Daichi chuckles. Knitting? Really? That's the last thing he would've expected from Kuroo. That guy likes running his bar and his mouth, but … knitting?

“What can I say,” Kuroo tells him as if he read his mind. “I'm full of surprises.”

“Are you into crocheting, too?”

“Please. That's for grandmas.”

It's Daichi's turn to raise his eyebrows.

“I only crochet occasionally. And I play volleyball. Like basically everyone. Seriously, you should finally join the team. That's how you'll make it up to me that you ignored my friendship – you'll join my team. Oh, and pets – I have two bunnies named Wolf.”

“... You named a bunny Wolf.”

“I named them both Wolf.”

“Why?”

Kuroo shrugs.

“Why is the earth going 'round the sun? Why are we living and breathing, right here, right now? Why do some people punch tables? The secrets of the universe are endless, Daichi.”

“I hate you.”

“Nah, you love me. I'm your best fucking friend here and you know it. At least by now.”

“That's exactly why I hate you.”

Kuroo laughs again, and he looks so damn happy with that genuine smile on his face as he kicks out his foot and sends a piece of ice across the sidewalk, burying his hands in his coat pockets again. They walk a few steps in silence, Daichi squinting up at the sky as it starts coughing up a ridiculous amount of snowflakes which make it harder to see. Secretly he's grateful that somehow he did manage to find a friend in this town who knows his way around.

“So,” Kuroo says again. “Tell me about your date. What happened? I thought you and cat prince were a sure thing.”

Instead of answering, Daichi pulls his tooth out of his pocket and shows it. Kuroo's eyes widen and he stares at him with a whole different level of attention, obviously putting the swollen face into context now.

“Holy shit I thought it was weird shadows or some shit. Did he – did this fucker punch you?! I swear to God, I will make him suffer, nobody -”

“Kuroo. Kuroo, calm down. It wasn't him.”

Daichi is oddly touched about Kuroo's rage on his behalf, but there's no need to blame Suga for anything.

Kuroo huffs.

“Well, good for him. So, who the fuck was it?”

“The waiter and his lethal weapon also known as tray. My left leg is still sticky from softdrinks.”

Kuroo buries his face in his hands and actually stops walking, even though the snowflakes seem to have resolved to snow them in before they even make it home, whirling around everywhere as if someone dumped a gigantic bag of feathers on the earth, giggling into their fist.

Kuroo is actually wheezing.

“No, Daichi. Daichi, please, no.”

“Yes,” he confirms with a grave voice. “It was about as horrible as it sounds.”

Kuroo folds his hands over his nose so he can look at Daichi, not able to face him fully yet, as if he soaked up Daichi's embarrassment.

“What happened then?”

Daichi thinks back, warmth filling him as he remembers Suga's smile and his eyes and his laughter and the way he gestured and ate way too slowly, simply because he couldn't stop talking, cheeks rosy and eyes glinting.

He heaves a big sigh.

“You know, it's actually amazing, Daichi. You're acting exactly like a high schooler with their first crush.”

“Shut up, Kuroo.”

“You look so fucking full of dreams and sunshine thinking about it, are you sure it didn't go well?”

“Well, we talked? And it was pretty awesome? And then I walked him home, and … uh, it, we kind of, uhm. Like, almost … kissed? But then he …. pulled back.”

“Aw, man. But that doesn't have to mean that much? Maybe you were just too fast for him or something?”

“My lip was bleeding, I guess? He kissed me on the cheek?”

It's the second time that Kuroo stops dead in his tracks.

“You fucker. I'm gonna push you into the snow and rub it all over you. What's your problem?! Here I was worried cat prince was some asshole or didn't like you! How about next time you don't lose a tooth and you won't bleed?! Then you can get your fucking kiss and stop getting on people's nerves. Daichi, how dense are you. For real. Jesus Christ.”

“I …” Daichi closes his mouth, realising a little belatedly that he doesn't even know what to answer.

“You! Yeah, you! Idiot of the year! 'It was pretty awesome',” Kuroo says in a mock-voice that doesn't sound like Daichi in the slightest. He doesn't sound half as ridiculous. “That's usually considered a great date. And an almost kiss that only didn't happen because you were fucking bleeding is only a catastrophe in your world.”

“Uh -”

“Daichi, you have the self-awareness of a potatoe. God, just shut up about dumb shit you make up in your mind and tell me more about how awesome your damn cat prince is when we get to my place, cause this snow is getting insane and there's hot chocolate where I come from.”

“Where you 'come from'?”, Daichi repeats with raised eyebrows. “Nerd.”

“You're the nerd here, Daichi. God. Now shut up and let me invite you over 'cause I don't wanna freeze and I feel like celebrating the fact that you finally realised too that we're friends. Oh, and you will join my team now, I'll hold you to that.”

 

---

 

It takes Suga approximately two seconds after putting his keys on the table to bury his face in his hands and muffle a screech in his palms that is bordering between agony and bliss.

“Noooo,” he whines as he makes his way into the flat and drops his jacket over the chair. “Nooo, why am I so dumb? Why did I do this, why didn't I -”

Princess is on her way to him, but still stuck on the obligatory lazy stretching routine every few steps before she finally reaches him to nuzzle at him as if asking him what is wrong. Or asking for food. Suga doesn't care as long as he can bend down to scratch her ear.

“Princess, I'm horribly dumb, did you know that? The dumbest. The biggest idiot. I could've kissed Daichi, and what did I do?”
He picks her up and presses his face into her fur. Princess is a little stiff from confusion, but the little angel holds still and lets him soothe his regret and agony with cat cuddles.

In retrospect, he should've noticed the cup on the table.

“Suga-chan,” Oikawa says the way a parent says a child's name after they smeared tomatoe sauce all over the walls. “Don't tell me you messed up a sure thing.”

Suga raises his head but keeps Princess in his arms, who is still purring in confusion and endless patience.

“Why are you here. Again.”

God, Oikawa witnessed his entire minor breakdown.

“Why didn't you kiss Daichi?”

“Don't answer a question with a question.”

“Talk to me instead of your cats.”

“My cats don't get on my nerves and give me unneeded advice.”

“Awww, Suga-chan? Are you saying I'm getting on your nerves?”

“That's exactly what I'm saying.”

“Well, without my advice you'd still be swooning over a picture of an arm.”

“It's a pretty arm.”

“Pretty sad. So, how is your dreamy sweetheart? Is he pretty too?”

The image of Daichi flashes in Suga's mind and he has to keep himself from actually sighing at the memory with sheer power of will. Apparently, his face says it all though.

“Perfect. So, amazing deduction skills go: he's absolutely stunning, you had an amazing time, he would've kissed you, and then you self-destructed.”

Suga lets go of Princess because her patience is too unwavering for her own good and gets up to go get some tea. Miraculously, Oikawa brought at least ten mugs over, so Suga blinks at his cupboard for a second before going for his favourite mug as usual anyway.

“I didn't self-destruct,” he mutters as he fills water into the kettle. Oikawa is leaning in the doorway, arms crossed, waiting for him to go on.

“He was bleeding, okay?”

As if Suga had cared about that. He would've kissed Daichi anyway, under most circumstances, because he had really, really, really wanted to kiss him. So much that it had terrified him, and yeah – he'd self-destructed. Frick. The second after he'd broken their atmosphere he'd already been cursing himself. That kiss on the cheek had saved nothing.

“Why was he bleeding.”

“Long story short – he got hit by a tray.”

“A tray.”

“The waiter smacked him with a tray and he lost a tooth. We were off to a rocky start, but it was great, don't judge my date. Wait, it wasn't … or was it? I'm so confused and I hate myself so much right now, God.”

Suga buries his face in his hands again, ignoring the kettle and the mug and Buttercup at his feet meowing for food, a little softer than usual because even she isn't the devil incarnate all of the time. Oikawa does exactly the right thing: he feeds Buttercup first, then concentrates on comforting Suga. Sometimes he can be a really awesome friend.

Sometimes.

“Hey,” he says, softly, gently poking his shoulder. “Talk to me. What's wrong?”

“I don't think I'm suited for this,” Suga whispers into his hands. “I haven't dated anyone in so long. I can't do this. I'll mess up and I'll lose him and I don't wanna lose him. I'm not made for this.”

“You idiot.” Oikawa sounds so fond, and a little sad, and then he pulls him into a hug. Suga keeps his face hidden in his hands, but leans into it, grateful for the arms wrapping around him. No judgement or drama, just comfort. “What do you think this is? A volleyball match?”

Suga snorts.

“Of course I think it's volleyball. Daichi got a tray served right into his face. Oh God, don't mind me, I'm going to hell for joking about this -”

Oikawa chuckles and leans his cheek against Suga's head, patting his back.

“No, keep joking, it's why I like you so much. You're not half as good as people think you are.”

“Yeah, and you're not half as bad,” Suga mumbles.

“That's what I keep telling people!”

“Don't ruin it, Oikawa.”

“Pff.” He lets go of him, a mock wounded expression on his face, clutching his chest dramatically. Gosh. Dumb, idiotic, exhausting Oikawa. “I can't believe this betrayal! To get back to the point, though.”

He points at him, the exaggerated expression bleeding off his face until there's nothing but his genuine friend left again.

“Don't tell me you're not made for this. Of course you are. Of fucking course you are. Look at you! You're drowning your cats and friends with love! In that order, too, just saying. You've got tons to give and tons to gain, so don't you dare waste this chance 'cause you're getting cold feet. You're not gonna marry the guy. You'll just ask him out and kiss him. And maybe you'll get a little less eccentric then. Maybe there's hope for you yet.”

Oikawa puts a finger on his chin as if considering.

“Actually, no, there's no hope for you to stop being a crazy cat lady. But Daichi knows what he signed up for and wants to smooch you anyway, so -”

Suga can feel himself smile.

“You called him Daichi.”

For some reason, that puts him at ease.

“My bad. The dreamiest, prettiest, most smooch-worthy darling prince of your sweetest dreams and deepest desires -”

Suga flings a tea bag at his head for that, which Oikawa forgets to dodge in his dramatic chase for the most horrible nickname. It hits his forehead quite satisfyingly.

“Shut up. Okay, fine. Next time I'll smooch him. If he still wants to smooch me.”

“And when will next time be?”

Oikawa leans against the counter as Suga gets a second mug for him and prepares sweet tea for himself (desperate times call for desperate measures) and another cup of tea that should rot anyone's teeth simply by breathing the steam in.

Considering the question, Suga's shoulders droop. They couldn't even find a date closer than two weeks. Two damn weeks, maybe longer until he would see Daichi again.

So much can happen in two weeks. Especially if all you had was some tension that one time, for a few seconds.

“Not anytime soon, we don't have time …”

“That's bullshit. You know, we're gonna go there right now and you'll smooch him.”

“We're not gonna do that.”

“Hell yeah we will.”

“Shut up and drink your tea, Oikawa.”

They end up on the sofa cuddled up with the cats, Suga still suspicious as to why Oikawa spends that much time in his flat lately. Did something happen with him and Iwaizumi … ? But Suga would've known, right? Their fights are usually loud and impulsive, but blow away as fast as they come. No need to worry. No need to hang out in Suga's flat and spoil Buttercup even more, while devouring Suga's emergency chocolate stash. He could've really used that right about now.

“I still can't believe he got hit by a tray. Seriously, where were you even? You should've come to my place, accidents like that don't happen there.”

“Gossip happens there,” Suga grumbles. “And yeah, I can't believe it either. We were at the Flightless Crow, it's said to be a great restaurant.”

“Damn Futakuchi's place. Shit like that could only happen there. Why would you even eat there? That's betrayal, Suga.”

“More betrayal than eating at the Cygne Blanc? 'Cause Daichi actually suggested that at first. Apparently he knows the owner.”

Suga expects an overdramatic speech about that guy (again), but instead Oikawa blinks slowly, and Suga could swear he looks like Buttercup as he does that, right before she pushes another plant down to its inevitable death.

“Your phone darling knows Ushiwaka-chan, huh? Oh, Suga. The lengths I go to for you.”

Oikawa wriggles around to get his phone out of his pocket, and Suga stares at him suspiciously, still in denial over what Oikawa is planning until he presses the phone to his ear. Someone seems to pick up ridiculously fast.

“Ushiwaka-chan~, it's your favourite rival cook, still besting you as always.”

Suga is pretty sure he can hear a voice say 'Stop calling me that' and something that sounds like it might turn into a rant. Maybe they'll just do a rival cook showdown and get so caught up in that, it will keep Oikawa from being creepy.

“Yeah, yeah, no time for much smalltalk. I actually have a favour to ask of you.”

“You're not doing this,” Suga says, and Oikawa waves him off impatiently, turning away from him.

“You owe me. … okay, so you don't owe me. But still, won't you do it for me~? Pretty please? All I need is an address of your friend. I'm not even going there myself, I'll just drop off a present.”

There's silence. Suga is absolutely mortified and considers if knocking Oikawa out with a mug would be considered self-defense by a judge. Probably.

“Look, it'll make them both happy. … yeah, exactly. It's Daichi. He's been talkin' too, huh? C'mon, Ushiwaka-chan. We have the chance to see love blossom. Help me out. … yeah, no worries. I can remember that. Thank you~”

“I hate you,” Suga whispers. Oikawa blows him a kiss and winks, phone still at his ear.

“No, don't you worry, I still hate you, Ushiwaka-chan~ Maybe a teeny tiny little less than before. … Oh, don't flatter me~ Okay, I have a present to deliver now. Catch you never!”

For a split-second, he seems almost shaken, but a heartbeat later all Oikawa looks like is his usual smug self.

“I'm not a present to deliver,” Suga tells him.

“Yes you are. Get your coat, you're gonna smooch your man.”

“He's not my man.”

“Get your coat, you're gonna smooch your prince.”

“... Oikawa. Have you looked out of the window. The snow's insane. It's the middle of the night.”

“No ridiculous excuses.”

“They're not ridicu-”

“Get your coat! I'm cupid tonight, and you'll get your smooch!”

 

Suga isn't quite sure how he ends up freezing to the bone, snow whirling around him that keeps getting worse and worse (what the heck is up with that?), his fingers numb despite his gloves and staring at a messily scrawled 'Sawamura' on the doorbell. He's not gonna ring it. Hell no. This is dumb, and it's creepy.

When his phone rings, Suga huffs, fumbles it out of his pocket, tugs his glove off and presses the approximately -40°C cold device against his ear.

“Ring the damn doorbell,” Oikawa says. Suga curses under his breath.

“You can't even see me anymore.”

“I know you haven't rung the doorbell yet.”

In a sudden rush of defiance, Suga rings the doorbell quickly.

“Actually, I have,” he says, all stubborn.

Then why're you still talking to me.

Oikawa hangs up on him and Suga suddenly realises that he just rang Daichi's doorbell and will have to explain what the hell he's doing in the middle of the snow in the middle of the night in the middle of a full blown life crisis outside of his house.

It drags on for another minute that feels like five, and Daichi is still not opening the door. Or giving any indication that he's home.

… strange. Why isn't he home? Maybe he had other plans? Plans that didn't end as disastrous as his not-but-definitely-date with Suga. Plans that will make him forget about Suga in the first place.

His phone rings again and Suga answers gratefully.

“You're panicking or you wouldn't have picked up so quickly.”

“Please come back and let's go home.”

“Suga. You're freezing your ass off, you've made it this far. Don't you want that smooch? Do you want to wait two weeks?”

Suga closes his eyes. It feels as if Daichi might forget about him until then.

“... no.”

“Then use your brain and use your phone. And stop panicking. You got this.”

Oikawa hangs up again, and Suga forces himself to dial Daichi's number and hit call before he can think better of it. He presses the phone to his ear again and tries not to hyperventilate as he waits.

“... Suga?”

Daichi does pick up. He sounds a little breathless, and confused, and maybe a bit worried too. This was a bad idea. All of it. Suga should hang up. He should really hang up. Only the tiny Oikawa in his mind keeps him from doing so.

Suga can't believe he has a tiny Oikawa in his mind.

“Uhm.”

Off to a good start. Amazing.

“Is everything okay?”, Daichi asks him.

“Are you home?”

“I'm … not? I went over to a friend's house, I, uh …”

“Well, I'm sorta … there.”

“Where?”

“At your house?” It comes out more a question than anything. God, what is he doing. Why did he think listening to Oikawa Tooru would be a good idea. Who would ever think that.

“You're … what?! Suga, that's insane. It's cold as hell outside. You'll catch a cold or death or worse.”

“What's worse than death?”, Suga asks him.

“Let's not discuss this while you're dying in the snow.”

“I'm not dying, don't be so dramatic, Daichi. I had enough drama tonight.”

“It wasn't my fault that I lost a tooth.”

“I meant my neighbour. Anyway, I, uh, I'll – go home now.”

No. He wants to kick himself.

“No!” Strangely, it's Daichi who voices what Suga is thinking. “Uh, I mean – uhm. Wait a second. I'm just around the corner? I'll be there in … two. … Okay, Kuroo says seven. So it'll be four. Don't freeze!”

With that, Daichi hangs up and Suga is left waiting, experiencing the joke that is feeling warm and giddy all over while slowly turning into an actual human-sized popsicle. He looks down at his phone while he squeezes himself under the tiny roof over the front door, which grants him about as much cover as a single bush in the desert. The wind blows all the snowflakes right into the tiny opening between his scarf and collar for maximum uncomfortableness with melting snow at his neck. His jacket is fluffy and warm on most days, but doesn't stand much chance against the wind. His left hand is probably a goner. No hope left, even when he forces his numb fingers back into the glove, ignoring another call by Oikawa because this time around he would actually panic worse if he would open his mouth and voice that Daichi is coming over. Walking. Right now.

Four minutes, he said.

It's been two and Suga is ready to lie down and give up on his life. The cold struck him down. What a tragedy.

Another minute passes and Suga considers an overdramatic rendition of 'Let it go', but gives up on it because he's not ready for the commitment of throwing his gloves away and the humiliation of having Daichi finding him singing Let it go at 2.12 a.m. exactly in the middle of an on-coming storm, on his doorstep.

Four minutes. Suga's pretty sure Daichi is running late, when a person shoots around the corner, actually sprinting over the ice, almost slipping, and then catching themself, continuing on their path towards him. This is either Daichi or a rabid Frozen hater who read his thoughts and wants to end him before he can ever sing Let it go again.

Which is a shame. The movie wasn't the best, but the song sure as hell was.

The person looks a lot like Daichi, though, as he comes to a halt in front of him and almost slips again. Suga steps forward hastily to catch him, slips on ice himself, and clings to him as they go down, Suga with an undignified screech.

Ice. It's the enemy.

He confirms he's still alive lying on the ground, his hip and shoulder aching reluctantly, but his ankle blissfully unharmed. Daichi groans next to him and shifts a little, but Suga doesn't let go of his sleeves yet.

“I hate ice,” Suga groans. Daichi is quiet for a little longer, gives a breathy little chuckle, and proves that he is the worst dork of this century.

“Suga, we're going down swinging.”

“You did not just fall out boy me.”

Suga lets go of him and pushes himself up slowly. Daichi follows his example, and Suga can see that there's snow clinging to his entire right side where he fell, and more of it clinging to his general being. Daichi, a literal snowman. Suga has the feeling he doesn't look any better.

“You did not just use Fall Out Boy as a verb.”

“I do what I want. God, Daichi. There's snow everywhere.”

“That's why people don't go out when the weather gets like this. That's why we were lucky before and why we should've just stayed inside.”

“Are you okay? Please tell me you didn't hurt yourself.”

“Nah, I'll get over it. Nothing much. Are you okay?”

“I'm too strong for the ice now. It can't bring me down anymore.”

“Actually, it did bring you down.”

Suga punches Daichi's shoulder.

“It can't hurt me, though! Don't rain on my parade, Daichi.”

They grin at each other and finally stand up, still standing in the middle of the worst snow ever, snowflakes sticking to their everything, and finally Daichi seems to remember that he still doesn't know why Suga was waiting in front of his doorstep. It should've stayed that way, to be honest.

“So … what the hell is going on?”

“I, uh -”

Now or never. Now or never.

“I forgot to give you something.”

Daichi's eyebrows furrow in confusion, and Suga takes a deep breath. He didn't come here for nothing.

Daichi's eyes are crinkling as he smiles a nervous little smile that is more confused than anything, and dorky as hell, snow everywhere and his hair sticking up at weird angles. He's handsome and he's perfect and he's everything Suga would've never anticipated, everything he wants to keep in his life. He wants to get to know him and he wants to go on dates where they both keep their teeth and he wants to kiss him so bad.

Suga steps forward, his brain focused so much on getting his first kiss in years right that it can only deliver a mildly surprised 'welp' when Suga loses his footing again and falls instead of trying to get Daichi to fall for him.

Which he does anyway, actually, because Daichi reaches out to catch him and all they manage is to go down, together, again.

“Oh my God,” Suga groans, not sure yet what is broken, Daichi half-sprawled over him who's dissolving into a hysterical laughing mess.

“Fuck this,” he wheezes. “I don't believe this.”

“Me neither.”

If it had been cold before – well, by now, everything is lost. Suga does feel mostly fine, he's gonna be black and blue, but at least it surely won't interfere with work again. The cold, though. It's probably gonna cost him some toes.

And a lot of dignity. All of it.

“You okay?”

“Yeah.”

At least that. Jeez. They make eye contact and fail getting up simply because they're laughing so hard, Daichi burying his face at Suga's cold and wet shoulder while the snow is probably still conspiring with the ice to kill them. They laugh and laugh and laugh as Suga slowly accepts his fate to die freezing in the middle of the sidewalk, but with Daichi so close and his laughter in his ear, and it's worth it. It's so worth it.

When they manage to calm down at last, Daichi raises his head to look down at Suga.

“So, what did you forget to give me?”, he asks, and maybe what Suga reads in his eyes is actually some sort of shy hope, maybe his voice is so quiet, almost reluctant because he's waiting for something just as much as Suga.

It's that flickering in his eyes that makes Suga reach up, soaked and cold and his gloves gross from all the snow, cup Daichi's cheeks, and pull him down into a kiss, right in the middle of the damn sidewalk. Their lips are cold, their position uncomfortable beyond reason, and Daichi exhales sharply, wrapping his arms around Suga and half pulling him up to meet his kiss, with enough fervor to make Suga gasp and melt into it, but still almost gentle, wondrous, as if he can't believe this is happening. Suga sure can't, but he wraps his arms around Daichi's neck and kisses him back with a smile and a song and a sunrise in his heart, his body alight and his mind reeling.

Somehow, Suga ends up on Daichi's lap – (How? When? It's a mystery) – and even though their lips are literally the only thing still warm, he doesn't want to stop, he doesn't want to let go yet. Their kiss slows down a little though, and Suga feels so giddy, he wants to laugh. He wants to throw his head back and laugh because he was so worried that he'd mess up, but this is Daichi, and everything with Daichi just falls into place.

Falls. Quite literally.

Of course there was no need to worry.

When they finally part, Daichi looks at him with so much warmth and fondness in his eyes, and Suga feels an excited flutter of warmth because it might bloom into actual love, someday, over time. Because their affection is mutual and they'll have all the time in the world, and he'll get to kiss Daichi again, and he'll get to take him out on more dates.

“I can't feel my feet and my butt and my hands. But I really like you,” Daichi says, still with a dorky smile, so unabashed and wide and happy.

“You're not in the least romantic and I really like you, too. And I'd love to take you out on another date.”

“I'd like that. And I'd like not freezing in the middle of the night. Do you want to come upstairs?”

Suga leans forward again, pecking Daichi's lips.

“I'd love to.”

“Not losing toes sounds so alluring, doesn't it?”

Suga punches Daichi's shoulder again, laughing as he begins his undignified challenge of untangling himself from Daichi and not slipping again. Goddamn ice. Biggest enemy known to mankind. Well, right after people who hate cats. Seriously, who does that?

Daichi puts an arm around him when they make their way over, and Suga can't stop smiling. It's almost an emotion, just one big, sunny, giddy smile that is much more important than the cold and his aching forming bruises.

“Maybe next time we won't seem as if we got into a bar fight afterwards,” Suga suggests as they start their way up the stairs. Daichi laughs, ahead of him.

“Yeah. Maybe.”

Chapter Text

“Sawamura, I got another -”

“Sorry.” Daichi cuts his colleague off, already putting on his jacket. “I got somewhere to be. Put it on my desk, I'll look over it tomorrow.”

He tries not to be offended at the look of surprise.

“That's the first time I've seen you leave on time. You going somewhere tonight?”

“Nah,” he calls over his shoulder, shooting his colleague a grin. “Just going home!”

As he steps out of the main building, the cold night air stings his skin like a pleasant little wake-up slap. He inhales deeply, adjusting the scarf Kuroo actually knitted for him, that fucker, and makes his way home in long strides, giving in the last few hundred metres and jogging after all.

He almost takes two steps at once on the stairs, but settles for his dignity as he doesn't really plan to come back all out of breath. Anticipation is bubbling up inside of him as he pushes the key into the door and comes into his flat to the sound of the radio muffled in the kitchen, and the sizzling of a pan.

“I'm home!”, he calls, clapping his gloved hands together as if he could get the tips of his fingers to warm up a little already before he'd get rid of his winter stuff, inhaling the heavenly smell filling his flat.

He sees two new pots of plants on the coffee table – Daichi doubts they could even fit his windowsill anymore, crowded with flowers. Suga is shamelessly using the windowsill safe from cats here to tend to all the plants he could suddenly raise in safety now.

“Another two?”, he asks, as he makes his way into the kitchen. Suga turns around, takes his face between his hands and gives him a kiss more passionate than strictly necessary, considering Suga had spent the night here and they'd said goodbye just before Daichi had left for work.

“I just can't resist,” Suga says with something really close to a smirk and a mischievous glint in his eyes. Daichi has the feeling this is not just about plants.

God.

Suga laughs, kisses him on the cheek and turns back towards the stove. A tray of cookies is baking in the oven. That's where that heavenly smell had come from.

“You can't resist using my oven either, can you?”

“Daichi, do you even know how blessed you are? No trouble children over here. I gotta take a break once in a while.”

“To be honest, I'm surprised you got by without your cats for almost 24 hours.”

“Well, I was home between my shift and coming back here to cook. Can't let my darlings feel lonely. You should stay over at my place next time again.”

Daichi swallows. Princess is nice enough to him, but Buttercup always stares at him as if she knows about every lewd thought Daichi had ever had about Suga, and exactly what they had done the night before. Her stare is deadly and sometimes Daichi thinks she might try to kill him in his sleep.

But overall, at least his first visit over at Suga's had gone mostly well.

 

---

 

“Daichi. It's not like you're meeting his parents. Calm down.”

“No. No.” Daichi shakes his head, and almost considers ordering something alcoholic after all. Kuroo doesn't understand. He doesn't. “I'd be less nervous if it was his parents! If they don't like me, okay. Tough. But those are his cats. If they don't like me I'll be single again faster than I can even say the word 'cat'.”

“I think you're exaggerating. Besides, just bring some treats along. Aren't cats all about food and stuff? How hard can it be to win a cat's heart? You won your prince already. Now stop freaking out about his pets.”

Daichi buries his head in his hands and groans . Kuroo doesn't understand.

 

Seeing Suga's flat for the first time is … both a surprise, and not surprising in the slightest.

The biggest part of his flat is the living room, which connects to his tiny kitchen. His sofa is large and comfortable, there's a TV and a bookshelf, all squeezed between beds for the cats and scratch posts, as it seems. Honestly, it looks more as if Suga is living in the flat of the cats than the other way around. Daichi shouldn't have been surprised.

There are thin wood boards mounted to the wall, a literal catwalk around the room, painted in warm, friendly colours. The sofa is almost drowning in pillows and the curtain's pattern fits some of them. Just before the open entrance into the kitchen, there's a tiny table with three chairs.

It all looks overwhelming and colourful, as warm as Suga's smile, homely and so completely him .

“Do you like it?”

Suga sounds a little nervous.

“Yeah,” Daichi mumbles, clutching the bag with the cat treats a little more tightly as he sees the first cat trudge forward. He's taken aback by the missing eye for a split-second, but figures it's just what Suga would do - give a chance to those cats others might not want.

“Here we go – Daichi, that's Princess.”

Suga makes his way into the kitchen as Daichi awkwardly crouches down and sticks his hand out.

“Do you want tea?”

“Yeah,” he calls as quietly as possible, trying not to scare Princess away as she carefully sniffs his hand. When she rubs her head against his hand, he feels as if he just got granted Suga's hand in marriage by one of his parents. This is a good sign, right?

“Oh, look at that! She likes you!”

Suga stands in the doorway and sounds pleased. Daichi gets a little adventurous and scratches Princess' ear with one finger. Maybe Suga won't break up with him after all.

“Where's Buttercup?”, he asks.

“Ah, she's still asleep, I guess.”

She is very much not asleep, Daichi will find out later.

They settled for watching a movie – not a horrible one, Daichi had insisted on keeping Bad Movie Night between Suga and Oikawa because he actually values his patience and sanity. It's perfect, actually. The snacks are abandoned, Suga is sitting between his legs, back leaned against his chest, Daichi's arms wrapped around him. At some point, Suga reaches up and laces his fingers with Daichi's on his chest, and sometimes Daichi pays more attention to Suga's fingertips tracing patterns over his knuckles and palms than the movie.

He couldn't wish for more. But then, there's Buttercup. At some point she strides through the room on her three legs, walking like a queen. She's also sitting up there like a queen, takes her rightful place on the highest scratch post and keeps. Staring. At Daichi.

“Your cat's staring at me,” Daichi whispered halfway through the movie.

“You're imagining things.”

That little shit looked away whenever Suga looked. Was his gaze on the TV again, then hers was back on Daichi.

But all in all, it could've gone much worse, he figures.

Not as outstanding as when Suga had met Kuroo, though.

 

---

 

“Suga, God, no.”

“Daichi, yes.”

“No. You can't do this. You can't wear a hat with cat ears. You're a grown man, for fucks sake.”

“You should've thought about that before you gave it to me as a gift.”

It was meant to be a joke.”

“Shut up, I like it.”

“You look ridiculous.”

You are ridiculous. The only person offended that someone is using their gift could be you.”

“It was a joke.”

“You're a joke.”

“That doesn't even make sense!”

Suga sighs dramatically, reaches out and shuts Daichi right up with a kiss. When he steps back, he smiles that smile at him which seems like he's trying hard to hold back from letting it break into a full-out little smirk. Daichi's a little dazed, blinks two times and huffs. Why do his thoughts always have to scatter whenever Suga touches him?

“That, you – you don't make sense,” he repeats, feeling lame even as he does it. Suga laughs and tucks his new hat into place. It actually does sorta look cute on him. But also ridiculous.

“Yeah, yeah. So, I thought you wanted me to meet your friends before we catch our movie. If you stop being broken up over me liking your presents we could actually get to that, you know. I don't wanna meet both your best friends at once. Sounds like Yui's gonna come over soon. So, now or never. Don't look so worried.”

Daichi's not worried because Kuroo might not like Suga or anything – he's just worried about Suga.

“Don't take any drink he offers,” Daichi reminds him again.

“You said that fifteen times already. Daichi, I can take some provocations and the occasional joke at my expanse. Relax. We're gonna have fun!”

Fun.

Oh, hell no. This won't be fun. It's gonna be hell. Daichi is leading his boyfriend (his b-o-y-f-r-i-e-n-d) straight into a den of hungry lions who can't wait to push their teeth into him and ask a thousand awkward questions and embarrass Daichi in front of Suga. The entire bar gang's gonna be there tonight. Bokuto took a day off just to get to meet 'lover boy's boyfriend'. The second Suga hears that particular nickname, Daichi will disintegrate into a cloud of smoke and let himself be whisped away by the winter air.

As expected, the bar breaks into greetings as soon as they enter. Bokuto rushes forward and claps them both on the back so hard, Daichi could swear he almost coughed up his soul from it. Then he puts an arm around Suga and ignores Daichi completely.

“I heard tons about you! So glad to finally get to know Daichi's cat guy!”

“I'm the cat guy?”, Suga asks, amused, shooting a glance at Daichi past Bokuto's ridiculous hair.

Daichi shrugs. That nickname's still the best one.

“Well, well, good to finally get to meet you!”, Kuroo calls, smirk in place. He wriggles his eyebrows at Daichi. Somehow it feels as if Kuroo managed to condense an expression with a stuck-out tongue and pulled down eyelid solely into his gaze.

Fucking incredible.

“You up for a drink, Suga?”, Kuroo asks.

“Sure thing,” Suga calls back, and Daichi turns his head to send him a million confused and betrayed question marks with one single expression. But his boyfriend ignores him, he takes up a bar stool and has no trouble at all introducing himself to Ushijima and Akaashi, too. Daichi sits down next to him, still a little dumb-founded. Kuroo's smirk as he places three glasses on the counter speaks of trouble and more trouble.

“I'm gonna punch you,” Daichi mutters under his breath.

“Considering your track record, sorry for not being terrified,” Kuroo shoots back, grinning.

“Oh, hey.” Suga interrupts a pleasant little chat with Akaashi – which hadn't included any ridiculous fun fact about Daichi so far, thank God. “Is that a scorch mark on your shelf? Whatever happened there?”

“Sonuvabitch!” Kuroo curses and whirls around, studying the shelf, already threatening Bokuto, who looks betrayed and confused. In the unfolding little chaos, Suga changes his own glass with Kuroo's and sends Daichi a smirk.

Daichi stares for a second.

He is completely and utterly in love with this guy.

He's also thinking about cancelling movie night and dragging Suga straight back home, because that little stunt somehow makes him think of a million other things they could be doing tonight.

Everyone else is watching, acting as if nothing happened, but the anticipation is thick in the air as Kuroo turns back around. Akaashi casually curls his fingers over his lips, masking a tiny little smile.

“There's nothing there.” Kuroo eyes Suga suspiciously, who looks so innocent, Daichi has to suppress a snort. Only Suga could look like an angel after pulling something like that. Kuroo lets it go, and turns towards his sulking friend. “Sorry, Bo. Can never know. You burned one table with fucking sparklers, man.”

Bokuto still looks hurt and Akaashi opens his arms wordlessly to hug him to his chest, his eyes still on Kuroo, who huffs.

“Anyways. To Daichi and him finally figuring out how love and friendship works!”

Suga laughs and raises his glass, as do Daichi and Kuroo. There's a breathless second as everyone watches them drink.

Suga sits on his bar stool like on a throne and downs his glass, wiping his lips with the back of his hand with all the calm in the world as Kuroo is fighting a losing struggle against coughing. His face goes red and splotchy as he desperately tries to keep his composure, his hands busy switching between fanning himself and being pressed to his mouth to keep in the coughing.

Suga gives him his brightest smile.

“That was good. Everything okay with you?”

Kuroo glares at him, and everyone around breaks into laughter, clapping Suga on the back who's finally breaking into giggles too. Daichi is lying on the counter, slapping it with his palm several times, he's laughing so hard. There are actual tears in his eyes. Holy shit. He's never seen Kuroo like this. Nobody's ever gone and pranked Kuroo.

Suga got the respect of everyone within a second. Daichi should've known he'd be fine.

“Sorry, sorry, I couldn't resist,” Suga tells Kuroo. Daichi is shaking his head, still trembling with laughter.

Suga is a blessing.

“Goddammit, newbie,” Kuroo wheezes. “Welcome to the Black Cat.”

 

This little sentence marks the beginning of a horrible evening which consists of all his friends betraying Daichi – Kuroo being the worst, taking revenge for some inexplicable reason by telling Suga every single dumb thing Daichi had ever done, and about all his horrible pining, and the time of the cookie trial phase.

When it's finally time to leave for the movie, Daichi has lost his dignity, a part of his soul, and any trust in his best friend. He drags Suga out onto the street, then into a side alley and kisses him against the wall until he can feel Suga's resolve to spend his evening watching that movie crumble under his kisses.

 

 

---

 

“Just so you know,” Suga mutters, trailing his fingers over Daichi's chest. “I still want to see that movie with you. I'm holding you to that.”

Daichi drops a kiss on his head and rolls over to wraps his arms around Suga, nuzzling into his neck.

“Don't worry.” He feels comfortable and warm and at ease, smiling into his lover's skin. “We've got lots of time.”