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A Picture Of You

Chapter 1: A Picture Of You

by isilelensar

“I still can’t believe you actually got the penthouse,” Koutaro said, his excited voice loud on the phone as he shouted over the noise of the gym.
“Well, technically, it’s half of the top floor. But, I’m just as shocked. Kou… it’s really nice. You should come by when you get the chance.”
“Plan on it! I’ll bring Keiji, too! We’ll make it a welcome home party.”
“Sure. Sounds great!”
“I gotta go, Tetsu! Next game is in forty-five minutes, and we gotta practice.”
“Understood. Talk to ya later.”
“Later!”

Tetsu chuckled as he hung up on his best friend, took a moment to look at the cityscape from his spacious balcony, slid his phone in his pocket, and turned back to face his new home. Soft light from various lamps made it look very homey; lighting both ends of the sofas, a few chairs and a recliner near the windows, and light emanated from the kitchen, and the hallway leading to the stairs. He'd fallen in love with it when he saw photos online. The former occupant had lived here for years, or rather, had paid rent for years. But because the man was off traveling all over the world, he was rarely back home. So, he finally put the place up for sale, leaving for parts unknown on the day it was sold.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone, but competition was fierce to be the one who lived here next. Tetsu hadn’t expected to be the one to come out on top. He wasn’t even the richest person making an offer. But, when the dust settled, and the paperwork was signed, Tetsu was the one to finally hold the keys.

Reaching for his camera, he took a few pictures. The balance between light and dark was perfect and, who knew, he may decide to sell this place himself one day. The pictures he was taking would be perfect to showcase how cozy it felt, even if it was half of the top floor of an office building. The other half belonged to a mysterious neighbor, whom he hadn’t yet met. Turning, he made a few adjustments to his camera and took several shots of the nighttime cityscape.

Satisfied, he went into his home, and planned to do nothing else for the rest of the night. He had all weekend to unpack and make the place his own.

~*~

Dressed in his favorite red track suit, black t-shirt, and black sneakers, Tetsu rode the elevator down to ground level, and went out a private hallway to the street. It was still early in the morning, so it wasn’t too crowded. He stretched out a little, and then started to jog.

Now that he lived in Itabashi City, he was curious to know the layout of his neighborhood, and maybe a few outlying areas. It only took a few minutes to find Akatsuka Park, and another minute or two to find the art museum nearby. He jogged around the museum’s perimeter, and then headed back the way he came, taking a side trip into the park.

On his way back home, Tetsu decided to stop in at the little convenience store next to his building for some water and a light snack. He only just rounded the corner, wiping his brow of sweat, when he crashed into something. Or someone.

“Sorry! Sorry!” he said, blindly helping whoever it was he crashed into. “I wasn’t paying attention.” He gathered up a couple books and what felt like a sheaf of papers. “Are you okay? Do you need help?”
“No, no. I’m fine, thank you. I stopped right in your path, I apologize.” the other spoke. “Thank you,” they said again as Tetsu handed over their stuff. As they helped each other up, his victim, er rather, the survivor of their collision, thanked him again and left before Tetsu could really make sure all was well. He caught a glimpse of blonde hair, a navy blue shirt, and khaki pants. But they were gone around the corner, and he resumed his quest for water and a snack.

~*~

On Sunday, Tetsu went out with his camera and took random shots of the buildings, landscaping, and all the people who had the misfortune of crossing into his shot range. He took a slightly different route this time, using another way out from the park. Along the way, he discovered the library, and took several pictures of the building.

Curious, he let his feet take him up the stairs and into the building. He told the librarian he was new to the area and was only looking around, and she smiled prettily, nodding for him to continue inside. Tetsu, ever the flirt, winked and smiled back at her on his way into the library proper.

“Amazing,” he said quietly to himself as he walked along. The library building outside looked rather nondescript, though the architecture did have a few interesting spots. Inside, however, looked so much bigger. “A TARDIS,” he mumbled. “I’ve walked into a TARDIS.” Camera at the ready, he started taking pictures.

Warm wooden shelves were filled with colorful books. On the main floor, two long rows of desks with dividers and little lamps, offered enough space for students to park and study. Some of those spaces had outlets to plug in chargers and laptops, and a few more on the ends had ethernet computers for looking up information. Closer to the shelves, there were smaller tables and chairs, giving study groups room to do their thing.

The next two floors were visible from where he stood, but had cozy, overstuffed chairs, either single or in small groups, situated near long, sheer covered windows. At either end, a mix of overstuffed chairs, and regular tables and chairs, lit by large, half-circle windows.

He took as many pictures as he could, only stopping when he ran out of film. Then, he made his way back out of the library, and headed home. As he walked, he waved and smiled at people, saying hello when he thought someone would say it back.

Once he got home, he went straight to the room he designated as a dark room, and went through the pain-staking, yet fascinating process of developing pictures.

~*~

[A couple weeks later…]

“These are really good photos, Tetsu,” Keiji said as he thumbed through the new album. “And you said you just aimed and shot them?”
“Yeah,” he replied with a shrug. “I liked the angles and colors. That library was pretty cool. I might go back to actually look at their photography section.”
Kou snorted. “Just like you to shoot first and ask questions later.”
“No such thing! The place just looked too good not to get pictures. Besides, I didn't think to ask if it was allowed.”
“As long as no one stopped you,” Keiji said as he closed the book and passed it to his husband. He rose from his place at the table and went to get another plate of food. “I brought you the new issue of my magazine,” he said as he passed Tetsu. “It’s in my bag, if you wanna read it.”
“Sure! What’s your newest article about?”
“It’s in the magazine.”
“Yeah, but you could tell me, and I’ll read it anyway.”
“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of reading it if he tells you?” Kou asked sarcastically.
“I like spoilers,” Tetsu defended. He dug through the bag, took out the magazine, and started flipping through it to find Keiji’s article. When he did, he looked up at his friend, who raised an eyebrow and smirked.
“Fine. I did a little interest story on one of the more influential families in town. They’re major investors of all of the museums in the area, and have a pinky finger in practically everything else.”
“Oh yeah? Who are they?”
“The Tsukishima’s. Anyhow, the heir-apparent has formally announced his engagement, and the news is everywhere.” He looked pointedly at Tetsu, who rolled his eyes.
“I’m on several social media websites!”
“When was the last time you looked at your feeds, much less posted to any of them?” Kou asked.
“Point taken. Still, it’s not like I’m completely out of the loop.”
“Do you even know who the Tsukishima’s are?”
“.... No.”
“Right, so anyway, the second son is making the news, too, but only because he actually wants to work.” Keiji said, coming to stand beside Tetsu. “There’s a picture of the family…” he flipped the page, “here. That’s the eldest, the heir-apparent,” he pointed to a sandy-haired young man. “That’s the second son,” he moved his finger left to the blond next to him. “Well, now… isn’t that interesting,” he muttered and went back to his seat, grabbing the photo album from Kou.
“Hey!”
“I’ll give it back in a minute.”
“What is it?” Tetsu asked. But then, there was a loud knock on his door. “Wonder who that could be?”

Neither Kou nor Keiji responded as they were both combing through the pictures, obviously looking for something, their heads close together as they whispered back and forth. Tetsu grinned and went to answer the door. As soon as he opened it, he had just a few seconds to register a tall, blond individual who turned around and immediately walked right in.

“Noya-san! I’m so sorry I forgot to water your plants! I promise I’ll remember next time!”

Tetsu didn’t say a word. Neither did Kou or Keiji, who were now watching the young man as he walked further inside. He was obviously on a mission, and only stopped as soon as he realized whatever he was looking for wasn’t there.

“I could’ve sworn I left it here…” he said as he looked around. And then he stopped, turned slowly and was wide-eyed and startled seeing three people that were clearly not the person he was looking for.

~*~

“Who are you?” Kei asked, looking at all three men, still shocked that none of them were Noya.
“I could ask you the same question,” one of them replied. The messy-haired one who was leaning against the table.
“You’re not Nishinoya. This is Nishinoya’s place,” he said, as if explaining it to children.
“No, it’s mine,” tall, dark, and handsome answered, using the same tone. “I bought it. Paperwork even has my name on it.”
“Okay, fair. But, who are you?”
“Your new neighbor, obviously.”
“Tetsu, stop toying with him,” the pretty, dark haired man sitting at the table chided quietly. He was sitting close to another guy with two-tone, white and black hair. “Clearly he didn’t know his last neighbor moved out.”
“I knew he was going,” Kei corrected. “He never said when.”
“Rude of him,” the third man said. Then, he leaned over to whisper in his friend’s ear. When he was done, they leaned away from each other and nodded.
“My name is Keiji Akaashi,” the pretty one said pleasantly. “This is Koutaro Bokuto, my husband.”
“I thought I recognized you. You came to interview my family not too long ago. And your husband is an outside hitter for the MSBY Black Jackals, right?”
Bokuto blinked, and then his smile practically blinded him. “Hey, hey, hey! Nice to meet a fan! You play volleyball?”
Kei shrugged. “I did in high school. You currently play with a friend of mine. How’s Hinata doing?”
“Oooh… nice kill, dude!” the messy-haired one said through his laughter. Kei fought hard not to smile back.
“The one laughing like a hyena is Tetsuro Kuroo,” Akaashi completed the introduction wryly.
“World class photographer. I’ve seen some of your work,” Kei said.
“Oh? And what do you think?”
“You’re pretty good,” he replied nonchalantly, shrugging a shoulder. Far be it from him to admit he had a few of the man’s compilation books at home.
Kuroo snorted. “Only pretty good, huh?”
“Better than not good at all.”
“Bet you’re gonna tell me you’ve seen better.”
Kei acted thoughtful. “Depends on the subject material.”
“Guys?” Akaashi tried to interrupt them
“Oh yeah? Landscapes?”
“Kinoshita.”
“Architecture?”
“Yahaba.”
“Hey, guys?” Bokuto tried this time.
“People and animals?”
“Suna.”
“Guys!” Both of them at once.

Kei sighed and looked at the two at the table. “Sorry,” he apologized with a bow. “Please forgive my intrusion. It won’t happen again.” He bowed again and started to leave. He almost made it to the door when he felt a hand on his arm, stopping him. He turned, looked down at the hand on his arm, and then looked up at who stopped him. It was Kuroo.

“Let go of me,” he said. Kuroo let go. Slowly.
“You know who we are,” Kuroo started to say. “Only fair we know who you are, don’tcha think?”
“Why? I don’t intend on running into your home again.”
Kuroo blinked. “But we’ll see each other again. We’re neighbors.”
“We only met tonight because I forgot to water Noya-san’s plants. It was a mistake that I don’t intend to make again.” He narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t even know you moved in. How long have you been here, anyway?”
“Wow. Rude,” he heard Bokuto say from the table.
“Forgive me,” he said. He bowed once more and left, closing the door behind him.

~*~

“You scared him,” Keiji admonished Kuroo, who still stood at the door. “You’ll be lucky if you see him again.”
Kuroo put his hand on the back of his head. “Guess I got carried away.”
“He seemed nice, though,” Bokuto added. “Cute, too. Maybe he’ll forgive you.”
“Or not,” Kuroo said wryly, turning back and sitting down at the table.
“Well, if you see him again, you can apologize,” Keiji told him. “You know who he is, don’t you? I mean, other than your neighbor.”

He pushed the magazine with his article, open to the picture of the Tsukishima family. He lightly tapped right above the head of the second son, Kei Tsukishima.

“Yeah. I figured it out a few minutes after he came in.”
“That’s not all, Kuroo,” and he laid his album down on top of the magazine. “Do you pay attention to the entire shot when you’re taking pictures, or just what you’re focusing on?”
“What do you mean?”
“Here,” Keiji pointed to a photo. There was a small group of people talking to the side of the building he took a picture of, one of whom was Tsukishima. “And here,” he pointed to another photo. Tsukishima was walking into a building. “And especially this one,” he flipped to the section of photos taken inside the library.
“I never really noticed,” Kuroo mused, looking at the picture.

It was one he’d taken of the bookshelves, trying to encompass the scrollwork in the wood. What he hadn’t noticed was the lone student at one of the tables. A stack of books in front of him, with one open and leaning against the stack. His head was bent just enough so his blond hair dipped past his glasses, tempting someone to brush it back. He wore a black sweater over a white button-down shirt, and his glasses glinted gold from the light angling in from the windows. Tetsu could just make out the tell-tale white cord of earphones hanging over his shoulder.

He saw all that, and Tsukishima was tiny compared to the height and width of the bookshelves in the shot.

“I wonder what he’s studying?” he mused and looked up at Keiji with curiosity.
“I didn’t get to talk to him much the day I interviewed the family for my article. Sorry.”
“Suppose I can’t get all the spoilers I want, can I?”
“And it’s even less likely now that you managed to scare him away.”
Tetsu grinned. “We’re neighbors, Keiji! I think we’ll be seeing more of each other now that we’ve met.”

~*~

The next week, Tetsu left his home early in the morning for his jog. He would stretch out in the hallway, walk slowly to the elevator, and dawdle a minute or two before boarding. Sometimes, he’d leave just before sunrise. Sometimes, it was later in the morning. Each time he did this, he would tell himself it wasn’t because he wanted to accidentally bump into a certain tall, blond, prickly neighbor. And knocking on the door just seemed so… mundane. It was too easy. Something about Tsukishima made Tetsu want to tease him mercilessly. In a good way, of course. Mostly, he wanted to see Tsukishima smiling.

But, by the end of the week, with absolute zero luck, he decided that maybe Tsukishima took night classes.

So, then he went out for late afternoon, early evening walks. He’d walk along his usual route; by the park, around the museum, and back again. Sometimes, he took his camera because the light played well off various flora, and there was a temporary statue display at the park. Sometimes, he just went out to enjoy the cool weather of a late spring evening. Still, even in the low light through his lens, he never caught sight of Tsukishima.

Tetsu had to go out of town for the next week, on assignment for Weekly Volleyball Magazine, taking pictures of the Black Jackals and the Adlers as they practiced for yet another big game. He also took pictures of various players for a “spotlight” article to be featured in each issue leading up to the game. Work kept him busy, but it didn’t keep him from thinking up ways to catch Tsukishima.

The week after that, he was on vacation and in Okinawa for the Kuroo family reunion. And, as always, there wasn’t much time to spend thinking of anything, much less how to cross paths with a certain blond. His family was huge, and he was almost always besieged by the small army made up of his younger cousins, armed with a volleyball and the once-a-year chance to play with Uncle Tetsu.

When he returned home, Tetsu was exhausted and slept the next day, and stayed inside for a few more. His life was returning to the way it was before Kei Tsukishima burst into his home, and maybe that’s how it should be. Maybe he needed to concentrate on taking more assignments to keep himself busy. Maybe, just maybe, he needed to stop thinking about his blond, seemingly reclusive neighbor.

Easier said than done.

~*~

After the third time his phone lit up with a silent message, Kei decided to read it. He was staying late at the library, trying to get more research done on his paper due next week, and he really didn’t have any extra time for anything other than studying, classes, eating and sleeping. His days often started well before the sun rose in the morning, and ended well after sunset. Even he was amazed he didn’t turn into a zombie running on caffeine and rage after several weeks of the same thing.

Looking at the message, he felt himself scowl. He didn’t really have time for an interview, not even about himself. He hadn’t been left alone since his brother’s engagement announcement. All Kei wanted to do was graduate with a degree in Library Science, and eventually go to work as a museum archivist. Most times he would simply ignore the call or text, let the call roll over to voicemail, delete the text, and block the number as soon as he had the time enough to care.

But this number was familiar. He opened the message and found out it was from Keiji Akaashi, the journalist who respected his request to be left alone when he came to interview the family post-engagement announcement. That in itself resonated with Kei, and he decided to text back.

[Sorry. I was studying and didn’t notice your text.]
[Oh! No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you!]
[No worries. What can I help you with?]
[Well, I know this will be kinda awkward and all, but, Koutaro and I were wondering if you want to hang out with us?]
[I have a paper due next week.]
[Oh. Well, maybe another time?]

Kei found himself grinning, even though he felt he shouldn’t be. It didn’t make sense. This wasn’t someone he knew. At all. Not even Bokuto, who he only knew because of the Black Jackals games and Hinata’s incessant crowing about playing with Fukurodani’s former Ace. Still, the invitation intrigued him.

[Once I turn in my paper, I’ll have some free time.]
[Okay, great! Would you like to hang out then?]
[My paper is due Thursday, so will Friday work for you?]
[Yep! I’ll get back with you about time and place, okay?]
[Okay. ttyl]
[ttyl! And thanks!]
[No problem]

Setting his phone down, Kei returned to his studying, but not without a little smile curling his lips. It had been several weeks, but he still remembered meeting them, sort of, when he barged into Noya-san’s former home. They exuded a weird combination of calm excitability. He liked that about them, and it was strangely attractive. Kei knew he’d like them if he got to know them better, so that’s why he agreed to meet them again.

Thinking of that night also meant thinking about the new owner of Noya-san’s place. Tall, dark, and handsome; Tetsuro Kuroo. Kei hadn’t wanted to admit, even to himself, that he wanted to see him again, but he did. Maybe under better circumstances.

Tetsuro Kuroo. Roughly his height, if not slightly shorter, which was refreshing, actually. Dark hair that looked both soft and messy, though it could just be the way he styled it. Still, Kei’s fingers itched to brush through it and see if it felt as soft as it looked. His eyes were gray, about the color of the sky during a thunderstorm, and that night, just as turbulent. Kei’s first impression of him was that of a mischief maker, one who liked to tease and play. Like someone who would be fun to be around.

And if Kei wanted to make it through his last year of college, he really didn’t have time for anything like dating.

He shook his head and blinked as if trying to rid himself of that idea. The thought of dating Kuroo was a bad one. Wasn’t it? It had to be. All his concentration needed to be on his studies, on his graduation. Even then, he also had to consider his postgraduate studies. There was literally no time for dating. Besides, he was sure Kuroo wasn’t the type to wait around until he was completely done with everything.

Welp. Guess he wasn’t going to be studying much anymore tonight. His thoughts were too jumbled, and with a glance at his watch, the library was about to close anyway. Slowly, Kei stood up and collected the books he’d gathered, putting them on a rack behind him. Back at the table, he shut his books, gathered up his papers, and put them in his backpack along with his pencil. He brought up the music app he was listening to, changed it to something soothing, and then checked to make sure he wasn’t leaving anything behind.

As he passed his favorite little corner market near home, Kei realized he was hungry. Starving, actually. Mentally going through what he already had, he decided to pick up a few more things to make a satisfying dinner. It was fairly late, but then, he hadn’t really eaten much of anything all day. Not since breakfast, and that wasn’t much, either. He really needed to work on that.

Going into the store, he picked up a basket and went straight for the produce section, selecting lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and a bunch of radishes. At home, he had enough to make a hamburger steak; a salad would be perfect to go with it. Oh! Maybe a little treat for dessert, too?

At the freezer chests, he found what he was looking for, pulled it out, and put it in the basket with the rest. Quietly humming, he went to go check out, when he looked up and saw the man who completely derailed his studying. One Tetsuro Kuroo, who walked in, but had his head down looking at his phone and tapping away. He was also wearing a set of earphones, so even if Kei wanted to catch his attention and do something stupid like smile and wave, he wasn’t going to interrupt whatever he was doing.

Kei quickly paid for his items, took the bags, and left the store. He only sighed in relief the moment he was home, with no meetings accidental or otherwise.

~*~

Looking one more time in the mirror, Kei checked his appearance. It was finally Friday evening, and he was looking forward to a little downtime spent with Akaashi and Bokuto. Both had contacted him at various times during the last few days, mostly to give him their ideas for what to do tonight, and then just checking up on him, getting to know him via text.

For tonight, they told him they were wanting to try out a new fusion restaurant with an international menu. They never mentioned what he should wear, but he wanted to look nice, so he picked out a pair of black jeans, a plain black t-shirt and a green plaid button down shirt over the top. For fun, he put on his golden crow necklace he was given during his 3rd year in high school, and slipped on the bracelet and ring set his parents had given him for graduation. Finally, he made sure his hair was okay, catching a glimpse of the obsidian ear cuff and stud in his left ear.

He was trying to decide if he wanted to wear his glasses or contacts when the doorbell went off. Well, maybe they could decide for him? But, maybe not. They weren’t really friends. Not yet, anyway… When he answered the door, the two of them stared. And then they both smiled.

“Tsuki? Can we call you that?” Bokuto asked as he let them in.
“Sure. I don’t mind,” he replied with a careless shrug and a smirk.
“Tsuki, you look… amazing! I mean, you look… really good.”
“That’s pretty much the same thing, Kou,” Akaashi said dryly, and then looked at Tsuki. “He’s not wrong, though.”
Kei felt himself blush. “Thanks.” He fiddled with his glasses, and Bokuto grinned.
“Don’t know if you should wear them or not?” he asked, reaching out to take the glasses.

Kei almost didn’t let them go, but he did. Bokuto carefully straightened the temples and lifted them up, holding them in front of his face as if he was going to put them on for him. He glanced at Akaashi, who just nodded, and he stayed still while Bokuto slipped his glasses on his face.

“I.. I wasn’t sure if I should wear them or not,” Kei said quietly. He reached up to adjust his glasses. Bokuto shrugged and looked at his husband as he took a step back.
“Honestly, you look great with them on or off, so I’m not one to decide.”
“I think so, too,” Akaashi backed him up. “But, if you’re looking to make waves, or maybe attract someone, I’d leave them off.”
“I’m not. At least, not right now. I still have school, and I need to concentrate on graduating more than anything.”
“Good call,” Akaashi said with a grin. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah. Just give me a few more minutes, okay?”
“Sure.”

Kei walked away, and escaped into his bathroom. It felt weird, but somehow good, to have Bokuto put his glasses on for him. But… They were married! Why did it feel like they were both interested in him as more than just a friend? Why was he letting them? This was moving way, way too fast! They’d only really just met a few minutes ago. Texts notwithstanding, they didn’t even know each other!

Focusing his gaze on his reflection, he saw his face was still flushed, and even the tips of his ears, and part of his neck. Maybe he shouldn’t go. But… It was too late to back out, wasn’t it? And really, he wanted to have a little fun, and had looked forward to tonight, so maybe he should go. Taking a step forward, he took a washcloth and ran it under cold water. He held it against his face, and hoped it would calm down the red tone.

Kei was going to go out with Bokuto and Akaashi, and act like that whole scene didn’t just happen. He decided to take off his glasses, and went with contacts. Not because he wanted to “make waves” or attract anyone, but because he knew he’d keep fiddling with them for however long they were out. He was nervous, but he didn’t need to look nervous.

Five minutes later, he was walking back out to join Bokuto and Akaashi, and they left his place, waved down a taxi, and were on their way to the restaurant Akaashi told him about.

~*~

10:12pm [pic sent]

Tetsu, fresh from the shower, and about to get ready for a late night lounge watching old movies, checked his phone for messages. A few were from prospective clients looking to hire him. Several were from family, asking when he was going to come home for a visit. He tapped on the family chat and first teased them about having just seen them a week ago, and then seriously told them it could be another month or two, depending on his assignments.

He put his phone down to scrub a towel through his hair, and then toweling off the rest of the way. Then, he grabbed the comfy clothes he put out before taking a shower, and threw them on the bed. He was almost finished dressing when the light on his phone started flashing. Another message.

He almost didn’t look at it.
He almost left his phone where it was.
He almost ignored it, preferring not to be disturbed for the rest of the night.
He had a date with his TV and a bottle of his favorite wine.
Fun times.

Chuckling, he picked up his phone and tapped on the notification from Kou. It was a selfie, but it was taken at an angle that didn’t show much of Kou’s face, but what it did show was Keiji sitting next to a smiling, very happy-looking, Tsukishima.

[Wtf, Kou? How??]
[ALL WE DID WAS ASK HIM]
[And he agreed??]
[YEP! SURPRISED US, TOO, ACTUALLY]
[How so?]
[WE THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO TURN US DOWN WHEN WE CAME TO PICK HIM UP]

Tetsu took a moment to look at the picture again. Tsukishima was, well, hot as fuck. Beautiful. Especially when he smiled. Saving the pic on his phone, he went back to the message.

[And you didn’t think to invite me?]
[WHY? YOU SCARED HIM OFF. WE’RE MAKING UP FOR IT]
[Some friends you are]
[LOL! YOU KNOW WHAT? SINCE I’M YOUR BESTIE, I’LL GIVE YOU OUR NEXT LOCATION. YOU CAN “ACCIDENTALLY” BUMP INTO US.]
[Okay, but, where are you now?]
[AT THE NEW FUSION RESTAURANT OUTSIDE JOHOKU PARK]
[I can be ready in thirty minutes.]
[WE PLAN ON GOING TO THE DANCE CLUB NEXT]
[Nice. Text me with an address for my gps]
[WILL DO!]

Tossing his phone back on the bed, Tetsu practically tore off his clothes and went to his closet. There, he chose a pair of stonewash jeans, a black t-shirt, and a black short-sleeved button-down shirt. Satisfied, he ran into the bathroom and began the arduous task of styling his hair. He used just a little product to tame his hair, but otherwise it was the same as usual; bedhead through a windstorm. Ah well, maybe another time to get it to stay down.

He raced back into his bedroom and grabbed his Nekoma necklace, and put in a black cat earring. Might as well, right? If he had more time, he might have added a few more embellishments, but he was already pressed for time. Grabbing his phone, he pulled up the picture of Tsukishima, and nodded. The man had worn jewelry, too. He wondered where his glasses were, but didn’t think too hard about it.

At exactly thirty minutes later, Kou sent him the address for the dance club they were going to, along with another picture. This time, Kou was fully in the shot, with an arm slung around Tsukishima’s shoulders. The younger man was still smiling brightly, and he held up a peace sign. The difference was that this time, he was looking directly at the camera.

Tetsu’s heart flipped.

~*~

[I’m here]
[GREAT! I JUST GOT US DRINKS. I’LL GET KEIJI OUT ON THE DANCE FLOOR]
[Not suspicious at all]
[IKR?! OUR TABLE IS CLOSE TO THE DANCE FLOOR]
[Thanks. See ya when you get back.]
[SEE YA!]

Tetsu put his phone in his pocket, took out his wallet, and paid the small entrance fee. Taking the paper bracelet and putting it around his wrist, he traveled the short hallway, already in the mood to dance as the music grew louder. He wondered if Tsukishima danced as he made his way to the bar, ordered a drink, and waited. Scanning his surroundings, he looked for a particular blond head, and found it at the same time the bartender gave him his drink. Thanking the guy, he set off to meet his neighbor.

But how should he go about doing it? This wasn’t like the last time, with Tsukishima barging into his home, and Tetsu teasing him. Great. Now was the perfect time for him to get a case of the nerves. He’d been so determined to “bump into” Tsukishima after that night, and now all that determination seemed to have abandoned him. Absolutely-T-fuckin-riffic.

Finding a spot at the rail that bordered the dance floor, Tetsu took a sip of his drink, and then drained the whole thing. Liquid courage, yada yada… And maybe come up with something snappy to say when he finally managed to make it over to Tsukishima’s table. Something snappy? He snorted and went back to the bar for another drink. Who knows? Maybe he’ll have enough ‘courage’ in him to come up with something sappy, instead.

~*~

“How many have you had?”
Tetsu looked over at the speaker and grinned. He held up three fingers.
Keiji sighed. “You weren’t supposed to get drunk. We had a plan, doofus.”
“And getting drunk after three drinks? Pfft! Lightweight.”
“Not helping, Kou.”
“I’m not exactly drunk,” Tetsu managed to say, giggling. “I can’t feel my nose or my toes, though, so maybe I am.”

The bartender came around and inclined his head at them. Keiji shook his head, Kou ordered another beer, and Tetsu opened his mouth to order yet another one of whatever he was having, but Keiji quickly overrode him.

“He’ll have a cola,” he said. The bartender smirked and nodded, going off to get the drinks.
“Awww, Keiji. I need more courage,” Tetsu whined.
“Yeah, well, I’m not going to pour you into bed when we get back to your place. And I’m sure you don’t want Tsuki to see you drunk off your ass.”
“You’re already calling him Tsuki?”
“Yep.”
“Traitors.”
“Scaredy Cat.”
Keiji snorted. “Whatever. Here, drink your soda. Get sobered up as much as you can. We’ll see about keeping Tsuki here a little longer.”
“Okay.”
“Oh yeah! Hey barkeep!” Kou flagged down the bartender, who came over after serving another patron. “A spiked lemonade, please!” After the guy left, he looked at Keiji and Tetsu, both of whom were staring at him.
“What? It’s for Tsuki!”
Keiji’s eyebrows shot upward. “How many is that for him?”
“Uhhh… his second? Possibly third?”
“Fantastic. At this rate, we’ll have to pour them both into bed.”
“That idea is not without merit,” Tetsu said grinning wickedly.
“Oh stop. At least get back into his good graces before you try to get in his pants.”
“The Voice of Reason, ladies and gentlemen.”
“Kou, you stay with this idiot. I’ll take Tsuki his drink.”
“Right.”

Keiji took the drink from the bartender, gave Tetsu a stern look, kissed his husband, and then went to the table where Tsuki still sat.

~*~

The music, the lights, and the haze of alcohol was working its magic on Kei. He was pleasantly buzzed, borderline drunk, and he was feeling good. Admittedly, he didn’t drink often; usually only once or twice a year. If he were to actually care about the numbers, this would be the second time already, and the year was still young. He still had midterms and finals to slog through…

A tall glass of an opaque yellow-colored drink floated into his field of vision, and then was set down before him.

“Brought you your drink,” Akaashi said, sitting down beside him. “But before you start, how many does that make?”
Kei thought for a minute. Took a little too long to reply. The drink was being moved out of reach.
“Didn’t bring you here to get drunk, you know,” Keiji chided gently.
“It’s only the second time this year,” Kei started to explain. “Once at New Years, and now.”
“Still. We’re here to have fun.”
“I am having fun, Akaashi.”
“I’m going to get a soda for you, too. And once you’re soberish enough, we’re going to dance.”
“Sure, if you want murdered toes.”
“Can’t dance?”
Kei shrugged. “I can keep the beat well enough. Just, not terribly, uhhh… coordinated?”
Akaashii laughed. Kei really liked his laugh. “I don’t mind. Dancing is dancing no matter how you accomplish it.”

He slid off his chair and took the drink with him. Kei’s mind, while foggy around the edges, was still operational enough to latch onto something Akaashi said. Before he could walk away, Kei reached out and grabbed his wrist. He let go almost immediately, but it did get Akaashi’s attention.

“Need something, Tsuki? A snack or something?”
“Only if you want, but I’m good,” he answered. “But, you said you were getting a soda for me, too.” Akaashi nodded. “Who is ‘too’?”
Akaashi looked surprised for a second, and then he grinned mischievously. “Someone else who’s also drinking too much than necessary,” he answered cryptically. “Be right back, okay?”
“Okay.”

Okay, so maybe he did need to stop drinking. Still, his mind was now switched to the mystery of who Akaashi was talking about. And, inexplicably, his first thought was Kuroo. Earlier, Kei thought he saw someone who looked a lot like his sexy neighbor, but they were gone before he could focus on them. The bar wasn’t too far away, and there weren’t any walls or anything to block his view of the large, square area lined with stools, so he could just turn around and look for his friends.

But, the music, the lights, and the haze of the alcohol held him in its thrall, and he kept his attention on the dance floor, mesmerized by the dancers like a cobra to its charmer.

~*~

“Did he not want the drink?” Kou asked, looking from the full glass Keiji just sat down in front of him, to their table. “I thought..”
“He’s had too many, too,” Keiji replied, and then ordered a soda from the bartender. “Besides, I’d rather Tsuki be at least a bit more on the sober side when we dance.”
“Now you’re going to dance with him?” Tetsu cried, indignantly.
“Well, yeah. That was our intention when we brought him here,” Keiji replied innocently.
“He turned me down,” Kou said, his mood slowly deflating. Keiji eyed his husband.
“I’d have turned you down, too,” he said mercilessly. “You’re too hyper, too excited.”
“Alright, how many drinks have you had, love?” Kou squinted at him.
“Yeah, you’re actually being kinda mean right now,” Tetsu added.
“Only one, and I’m more sober than the three of you, thank you very much.” He took the soda from the bartender with a smile. “Also, I don’t think I’m being mean, just honest. And if either of you want to dance, too, then keep your eyes on us. See ya!”

They watched Keiji take the drink and weave his way back to the table Tsuki was holding for them. They watched as he gave the soda to the younger man, sat close beside him, and started talking while he drank. They watched him say something with the brightest smile on his face, and then marveled when Tsuki laughed. They could almost hear his laughter over the loud music.

Tetsu turned his attention to his best friend, and had to smile at the look on his face. While Kou was just naturally friendly, and had the tendency to flirt with just about anyone, there was no question where his heart lied. And Keiji was more subdued than his partner, but even if he found someone worthy of his attention, his heart was wholly Kou’s to hold.

“You like him, don’t you?” he asked the obvious question. Kou smiled back at him.
“Yeah. He’s nice, seems to have a good head on his shoulders… Also, cute, too. Just so you know, this really was all Keiji’s idea. He thinks you two would be good for each other.”
“Okay, I’m all aboard for whatever you’ve got planned, but…”
“But what?”
“Is all the flirting necessary?”
“Your jealous is showing, bestie.”
“Can’t help it. You two have gotten farther with him than I have.”
“We didn’t tease him, or scare him away.”
“I’m never going to live that down, am I?”
“Possibly. Anyway, look,” and he pointed toward the table. Which was now empty. “Think you’re sober enough to dance?”
“I was before you started funneling soda down my throat.”
“You were five seconds from being wasted and you know it. Lightweight.”
“Yeah, whatever. But yeah, I’m sober enough to dance.”
“Great! I’ll go join them first. You come around later, okay? Keep watching; I’ll signal.”
Tetsu watched his friend leave the bar and head for his husband and their new friend. Kou was right, he had to admit. He was a little jealous. Couldn’t help it. There was just… something… about Kei Tsukishima that made him want to reach out, grab onto, and never let go.

The bartender came around and asked if he wanted anything. Grinning, he tilted his head back and asked if he could have a shot glass of soda. Nonplussed, the bartender got him one, and Tetsu downed it, bringing the glass down with a clink. He was as ready as he’d ever be. If his friends were going to such great lengths to get him and Tsukishima together, then he had his assignment. Sliding off the stool, and making sure he even had feet to stand on, he slowly made his way to the railing around the dance floor, waiting for his moment to join the party.

~*~

Kei smiled as he swayed to the beat. It had been forever since he’d danced, and even longer since he’d been to a dance club. Still, he thought it was because he was with Akaashi and Bokuto that made this time so much more fun. They danced with him nearly as much as they danced with each other, and they didn’t make him feel as if he was… extra.

Bokuto’s personality was a force to be reckoned with. Bokuto was the sort who could sweep you up in his tide and keep you from drowning at the same time. He had wide, dark gold eyes, and silver-black hair. Tonight, he kept it down, but the first time Kei met him, it was standing up on end. He liked to dance close, and had wrapped his strong arms around Tsuki a few times, asking if he was having fun. The first time surprised him, and he couldn’t help feeling a little uncomfortable. But by the second and third time, he knew it was just… Bokuto being Bokuto.

Akaashi was way more subtle, but also more devastating. If that even made sense. He used his words, his eyes, and his kindness to get what he wanted. Kei had thought himself good at keeping others at bay with a sharp wit and acerbic attitude, but after a few hours spent in Akaashi’s presence, and well, he’d do almost anything Akaashi asked of him without hesitation. Add the fact that the man was gorgeous, with dark hair that curled enough to give it a messy look, sultry blue eyes, and a thin but wiry build. Who wouldn’t be under Akaashi’s spell if he chose to cast one on you?

Once again, Kei found himself wrapped up in Bokuto’s arms, and he reached up to put his hands on the man’s forearms.

“You’re having fun, right?” Bokuto asked, loudly enough to be heard over the pulsating music.
“Same answer as before, Bokuto,” Kei replied with a smile.
“Good. We’re gonna go get some water.”
“Oh. Okay. I’ll see if the table we had before…”
“No, no! You stay out here.”
“And dance by myself? No way.”

Bokuto chuckled in his ear and let him go, turning him so that he was suddenly facing someone he didn’t think was here. Not really. He stopped dancing and felt his smile fall a bit. He turned to glare at Bokuto, but he was gone. As was Akaashi. He groaned and put his hand on the back of his head.

“I was set up, wasn’t I?” he asked no one.
“Not really,” Kuroo replied. “I don’t think they really had too much planned until they saw me here.”
“Well… I think I should go find them…” he turned to go. And maybe find a way out without making it look like he was leaving.
“Wait, Tsukishima. Please?”
Kei turned his head to look over his shoulder at Kuroo. The man looked like he was at a loss for something to say, and his face was tinged red, likely from the heat, but still. Kei turned fully and faced him.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to tease you like that.”
Kei shrugged. “It’s fine. I didn’t mind, really.”
“Then why…?”
“Why what?”
Kuroo smiled, and Kei couldn’t help grinnin back. “I was trying to bump into you, or even run into you, for the last few weeks. But I never managed to find you.”
“Senior at university,” Kei said ironically, raising his hand and waving a bit. “Classes and studying. Long hours. Surely you remember?”
“Yeah, I remember.” Kuroo took a step closer and lifted an eyebrow. “You callin’ me old?”
“Of course not,” Kei replied, also stepping forward, a smirk firmly in place.

They were the only two standing still in the mass of bodies moving on the dance floor. But now they were close enough to hear each other without yelling too much. Kei took in the sight of Kuroo; long legs covered in stonewash denim, an unbuttoned black short sleeve shirt over the top of a black t-shirt, showing off strong forearms, and his dark hair was a little bit spikier than it was that night. He even sported a black cat earring and a gold necklace with a red painted pendant with the word “Connect” written in black kanji on it.

“Dance with me?” Kuroo asked, tilting his head so that Kei could see both his silver-gray eyes. He stepped closer, bringing them within a foot of each other.
“Okay,” Kei replied, and started moving to the beat, attempting to match his moves with Kuroo’s.

~*~

“Kuroo just got stepped on again,” Keiji said, nudging Kou.
“Tsuki wasn’t that clumsy when we danced with him.”
“I don’t think it’s clumsiness, though.”
“Oh? Do you think..?”
Keiji nodded. “I thought so the minute they set eyes on each other.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right.” Kou nudged Keiji back. “We did a good job.”
“Well, yeah. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
“Right.”

The two of them leaned against the rail, nursing two spiked strawberry lemonades, while watching their two friends dance together. Eventually, their awkwardness evened out, and soon enough, Kuroo and Tsuki were moving together perfectly. Tsuki had even let Kuroo wrap his arms around his waist and bring them even closer.

“Should we go back out there?”
“Nah. They’ll find us when they’re ready.”
“I’ll go get them drinks.”
“Kou…”
“Oh, nothing alcoholic. Water or soda.” Kou took a few steps toward the bar, but then turned back. “Do you think they have sports drinks?”
“Wouldn’t hurt to ask. We can always buy some on the way back.”
“Right. See ya in a few.”
“See ya.”

~*~

After that night, Tetsu’s and Kei’s schedules swept them away again, but they still tried to at least meet each other in the morning and the evening. Kei would join Tetsu on his morning jogs occasionally, when classes and studies were light. Tetsu would find a reason to be in the library in the evening, pouring over photography books while Kei studied.

They exchanged keys for when either of them would be away from home for any length of time. No one said a word when they both bought plants just for the sole excuse of having a reason to enter their suites. Everyone agreed this was a perfectly good reason for them to exchange keys in the first place.

It wasn’t long before they took each other to their respective homes to meet their families. Both agreed the Tetsu’s family was much easier to get along with, and certainly less formal. In fact, Tetsu’s family claimed Kei faster than anyone could blink, and continually teased them both about when the wedding was, and then scuffled amongst each other about who was going to do what in the wedding party. Tetsu eventually stole Kei away somewhere quiet so that they could breathe, and yet, they fell all over each other laughing because of his family’s antics.

Unbeknownst to Kei, Tetsu would take pictures of him. Most of them were taken on his phone, but some of them with his camera, under the guise of shooting something that captured his interest. Whether Kei figured it out or not was beside the point. There were pictures of him smiling, reading, studying, or dancing. There were pictures of him playing volleyball with Kou, watching movies with Keiji, and Tetsu recruited Kou to take a few pictures of them while they were cooking together.

One night, while Kei was visiting his parents and discussing his future, Tetsu showed his friends his newest compilation photo book. While they poured over it, exclaiming over the pictures and asking questions, he went into the kitchen and gathered snacks and drinks. When he came back out, it was to complete silence, a closed picture book, and twin looks of curious excitement on both their faces.

“What?” he asked innocently, setting the snacks and drinks down on the table.
“Have you made it official, or are you still not going to admit you’re dating?” Keiji answered with his own question.
“I don’t think I’d call it dating. We really haven’t been able to devote ourselves to anything more serious…”
“Riiight,” Kou replied. “You’re practically in each other’s pockets now. I’m convinced you aren’t giving us the whole story.”
“Really, there’s nothing new to tell, and you know we’d both tell you if we had news of any sort.”
Keiji hummed. Whether that meant agreement or not was left unsaid. Still, after he grabbed a handful of pretzels and popped open a can of soda, he gave Tetsu a searching look.
“What?” Tetsu asked again.
“Have you even kissed him yet?”
“Well, about that…”
“Code for no. Then my next question is moot.”
“Seriously?”
“Tetsuro Kuroo, glacial advance is a bigger threat.”
“Are you suggesting…” his words were cut off when they all heard the key turn in the lock. Tetsu was on his feet and snatching up the picture book. He practically ran off toward his office with a hastily whispered, “stall him,” as he ran by.
Kou whistled.
Keiji went full facepalm.
Kei was all smiles as he came into the room. “Hi, guys!”
True to form, Kou and Keiji asked Kei about his midterms and his preparations for finals. Kei told them everything, including his ideas about furthering his education. Tetsu rejoined them, and sat next to Kei listening to what he was telling them, while under the table, they held hands.

~*~

After Kou and Keiji left for the night, Kei and Tetsu relaxed on the sofa, a cup of hot cocoa in their hands. They didn’t talk much, just enjoyed the peace and quiet and low lighting. Kei would make it a point to come over for just this reason when Tetsu didn’t make it to the library. It was becoming a habit for him to want to see Tetsu for more than just a morning jog, or sharing the same table at the library. Sometimes, he imagined seeing Tetsu all the time, on a permanent basis. He wondered if Tetsu imagined the same thing.

And yet, they hadn’t kissed. Hadn’t even gotten to first base. It may have only been a few months since they started this… whatever it was they had between them, but to him, it felt like they’d always been together. It felt like they were a comfortably married couple, like Kou and Keiji. They knew each other’s schedules, met each other’s families, and knew nearly everything about each other. And yet… no kiss. Not even on the hand.

Well, if Tetsu wasn’t going to start it, maybe he would. Though, it was still something of a surprise that Tetsu hadn’t made the first move, maybe he was waiting for Kei to be ready? If that were the case, he was ready. Had been, since that night at the dance club. And really, if he were completely honest, he was ready the first night they met… teasing and all.

Kei decided he was going to be the one to move first. Surprise, Tetsuro Kuroo.

“Tetsu?”
“Yeah, babe?”
“Dance with me.”
“What, now?”
“No, Tuesday. 7pm. Don’t be late.”
“Smartass.”
“Deserved it, though.”

Kei sat up, polished off the last of his lukewarm hot cocoa, and set his cup down on the coffee table. He picked up the remote and hit the power button, turning on Tetsu’s sound system, already tuned to something slow, romantic. Setting the remote down, he slowly stood up and held his hand out to Tetsu.

“Dance with me.”
“You drive a hard bargain,” Tetsu said, taking his hand and joining him. “I accept your terms.”
“You do, huh?”
“I do.”
“Even if I haven’t given you my terms?” Kei asked, as they held each other and swayed to the music.
“Even then.”
“Hmmm…” Kei rested his head on Tetsu’s shoulder and couldn’t have removed his smile if he tried. Even surgically.

They danced for a little while, enjoying the closeness. It wasn’t the first time they’d been this close, but tonight, it felt different. Kei knew his heart was racing, but he could feel Tetsu’s racing, too. Taking a chance, he leaned back so he could look at the man he’d fallen in love with, and gently brushed his fingers through his hair. Kei’s smile widened when he saw the dusting of pink appear across Tetsu’s cheekbones and nose.
“You’re cute when you blush,” Kei said quietly. He traced a fingertip lightly over said blush. “I love your face.”
“Kei?”
“Yeah?”
“What are your terms?”
“Too late, you already accepted. Sight unseen.”
Tetsu chuckled softly. He brought his hands up and gently cupped Kei’s face, his thumbs brushing softly over his cheeks.
“Your terms?”
“Kiss me.”
“Is that all?”
Kei shook his head, but found it suddenly difficult to talk.
“Kiss me. Love me. Like I love you.”
Tetsu’s smile was damn near blinding. “Done, my Moonshine.”

The kiss started slowly, and a little awkwardly, because this was Kei’s first kiss ever. He could feel Tetsu’s grin with each little sip, which made him smile, too. Feeling more comfortable, Tetsu deepened the kiss, opening Kei’s mouth slightly with his thumb, sliding his tongue inside. Kei gasped, and Tetsu moved further, tangling their tongues, moaning just a little, making Kei feel a sizzling sensation through his body.

Kei copied what Tetsu did, following his lead, until he caught on to what he was supposed to do. Then, their kiss became something more; more heat, more passion, and a great craving for more than just a kiss. They broke apart and panted heavily, resting against each other.

“I love you, too, Kei.”
“Oh, good.”
Tetsu burst out laughing, and held Kei tighter.
“Dance with me?” he asked, and Kei leaned back again, looked deep into those beautiful silver gray eyes, and knew exactly what Tetsu meant.
“I thought you’d never ask.”

Tetsu laughed again, and separated just enough to take Kei’s hand in his weaving their fingers together. He slowly led him down the hall, and into the bedroom, closing the door behind them.

~*~

Another month, and Kei is finally free of finals, free of school, and free until he starts his postgraduate studies. Graduation is in an hour, and everyone from both sides of the family have come to watch Kei cross the stage and receive his diploma. Everyone cheers for him, though Tetsu, Kou, and Keiji are undoubtedly the loudest. Kei’s face is all flushed and cute, but his smile is not just relieved but brilliant. For once, it could be said that he even outshone one of Hinata’s famous smiles.

And yet, there was one more surprise. One more little something Tetsu wanted to do for the love of his life.

“Are you sure you want us there, Tetsu?” Kou asked, his face showed concern, but his eyes sparkled with excitement.
“Yeah, I mean, this really just be the two of you. Not something that requires an audience.” Keiji was honestly worried about intruding, but Tetsu reassured them both.
“As much as this should be a moment between the two of us, you both have been there from the beginning. You two had a hand in getting us together. Only fair for you to be there for us this time, too, don't you think?"
“I don’t know…”
“Look, Kei is making dinner for us this Saturday night, as usual. He’ll want to invite you guys like he always does. Just accept. Okay?”
“Tetsu, really…”
“Please?”

When Tetsu wanted something, really wanted something, he wasn’t too proud to beg. And he wanted their two best friends to witness what he hoped would be the happiest moment of his life. It took another several, million-year minutes before Keiji finally nodded his agreement, and Kou let out a wild cheer. Tetsu, carried away with the moment, swept the shorter man up in his arms and swung him around.

“Tetsu, put me down!”
“Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!” Tetsu cried, swinging Keiji around once more before setting him on his feet again.
“What else do you need us to do?”
“Just show up. I’ve got the rest covered.”
“Okay.”
“Hey Tetsu!” Bokuto asked, after he quit cheering.
“Yeah?”
“Tell us what you have planned!”
“Nope. I need your reactions to be genuine.”
“I mean, it’s not like we haven’t already figured out what you’re going to do.”
“End game, though. End game.”

Keiji lifted an eyebrow, but didn’t say a word. Tetsu went into the kitchen to start dinner, and Kei walked in greeting everyone, grocery bags in hand. Tetsu came to meet him, gave him a welcome home kiss, and then raced back into the kitchen, and Kei joined the two at the table.

“I want to try out something new for dinner on Saturday evening. Think you two can make it?”
A loud bang came from the kitchen, and the three of them looked in that direction. Tetsu poked his head out and waved.
“All good. Lost my grip on the door.”
“Just don’t blow anything up.”
“I would never! Besides, I don’t have all the ingredients for that anyway.”

Kei turned back around, shaking his head, and Tetsu gave the others a thumbs up sign. Both of them winked back and quickly turned their attention back to Kei.

“We’ll be there. What time do we show up?”

~*~

“Where’s Tetsu?” Kou asked as the two of them sat down at the table. “He’s usually the first one to the table when you’re cooking.”
“And vice versa when Tetsu’s cooking,” Keiji added with a grin at Kei as he came out of the kitchen.
“He said he had to run to the store for something. I told him we didn’t need anything in particular, but he insisted.”

Kei said as he put the platter of skirt steaks down on the table, surrounded by a large bowl of salad, salad dressing, and a freshly warmed baguette. He made sure there was enough salad dressing and extra sauce for the steaks, and then sat down, reaching for Kou’s plate to serve slices of steak.

He was handing Keiji his plate when a loud knock sounded at the door. The three of them looked at each other before Kei got up and went to answer it. As soon as he opened the door, he had just a few seconds to register a tall, dark-haired individual, carrying a couple grocery bags, a large package wrapped in festive paper, and a little pouch hung from his wrist, who turned around and immediately walked right in.

“I didn’t mean to be late, Kei, I’m really sorry,” Tetsu was saying as he went straight to the table, and then turned around.
“You have a key, Tetsu. The door was even unlocked.”
Tetsu shrugged and grinned. “I thought I’d re-enact the night we met. Sort of. It didn’t really work the way I thought.”
Kei chuckled. “Not really. I seem to recall a desperate need to water non-existent plants.”
“Yeah, well… anyway. Here,” he handed over the package. “I put the finishing touches on it.”
“What is it?”
“Open it and find out. I’m going to put the groceries in the kitchen.”
“Okay.”

Kei looked again at his two friends, who’d stopped eating to watch. Avidly. As if they were the only two people in a live studio audience. Keiji blinked, elbowed Kou, and they both started eating again, like nothing even happened. Kei sat down and moved his plate so he could carefully open the package without ripping the paper.

“Oh, Tetsu,” he said softly once he uncovered the front cover of the book.

He ran his hand softly over the cover, and then picked it up and showed his friends. The title was written in gold script: A Picture of You. The cover picture was him, leaning against the railing of Tetsu’s balcony, the city lights sparkling behind him, and he was smiling gently at Tetsu.

Kei opened the book and looked at each page, wondering when Tetsu had even taken pictures of him. They were simply everyday pictures of him reading, writing, cooking, laughing. There were several of him with Keiji and Kou, while the four of them were out having fun. The last several pages were of him with Tetsu; a few where he was caught looking at Tetsu tenderly, unbeknownst to Tetsu. And then, much to his surprise, there were pictures of Tetsu doing the same thing to him. The final picture was of the two of them, with their head together, eyes closed; Tetsu had a goofy-in-love smile on his face, and Kei just looked… content. Happy. Even if he wasn’t smiling, you could just… tell.

“Do you like it?” he heard Tetsu’s voice whisper from beside him.
“I love it! I can’t wait to hear the stories behind some of these.”
“Hmmm,” Tetsu hummed, winking at him as he held out his hand. “Come with me.”
“What? Why? Dinner will get cold.”
“Come with me,” he quietly urged. Kei was confused, but rose from the table and followed Tetsu til they were in the living room.
“Tetsu, what…?” Kei asked, but was suddenly cut off by a hot and heavy kiss.

“I love you, you know,” Tetsu said once the kiss ended and they were breathing normally again. “I think I’ve loved you since that first night, but since then, I knew I didn’t just think it. I knew.”
“Tetsu…”
“Shhh…” Kei felt Tetsu’s finger gently against his lips. “I’m probably gonna make this a huge mess, but let me say it, okay?”
Kei nodded, his eyes blinking rapidly to clear his suddenly foggy vision.
“I love the feeling I get when I see you smile, especially when I know I’m the one who put that smile on your beautiful face. I hope I can make you smile for the rest of our lives.” He ran his finger along Kei’s lips, and leaned in for a kiss at the corners of his mouth. “I could watch you for a single minute and find a thousand things I love about you. As soon as you barged into my home, I understood why it didn’t work with anyone else. It was as if the one person I was searching for finally found me.” He brushed his fingers through Kei’s hair, and then gently wiped away the tears falling down his face. “Every time I see you, I fall in love all over again.”

Kei gasped as Tetsu took a step back and then knelt down on one knee. He reached into his pocket, and brought out a tiny velvet box, and opened it, revealing a silver ring with a tiny moon engraved into it.

“I know we’ve only known each other for several months, but… Kei Tsukishima, will you marry me?”
Kei covered his mouth with his hand, and nodded vigorously. Then, once he knew he could, he replied, “Yes! Yes, I will marry you, Tetsuro Kuroo!”

Tetsu quickly stood up and wrapped Kei in his arms; both of them laughing and happier than they’d ever been.

And over at the table, while Keiji hastily wiped away his own tears, Kou was busy taking pictures. He’d been snapping away since Kei opened the book Tetsu made only for him, using Tetsu’s phone. The last photo he took was of the newly-engaged pair kissing deeply, passionately, without any thought or care in the world for anything other than each other.

“Come on, Keiji,” he said, putting Tetsu’s phone down on the table, and getting up from his chair as quietly as he could. “Let’s go. We are now officially extra, no matter what Tetsu said.”
“Indeed,” Keiji agreed, following Kou’s lead.

As they left, they took one last look back and smiled. Tetsu had lifted Kei up off his feet, and was laughing as he took him away, down the hall, and out of sight. Kou looked down at Keiji, smiled, and took his hand. Before they left the building entirely, he sent a text message.

[CONGRATULATIONS!]
[WE GET COPIES OF YOUR NEXT BOOK]
[WE ALSO EXPECT INVITATIONS TO THE WEDDING]
[I’VE NEVER SEEN TWO PEOPLE LOOK SO HAPPY]
[TTYL]