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Fight it Together

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Tobio had been alone for most of his 29 years. That didn’t make this weekend any easier.

Not that he spent every day with Shouyou. More like… every other day. Sometimes two days in a row. And if Charlie was gone for the weekend? Every day.

So, most days.

But this, this was different. This was a whole four days and three nights alone after not being alone for eight months.

Was he counting the almost three months they weren’t together because both of them had their heads up their asses? When he asked Shouyou if he could just keep the tally going, Shou told him to do whatever he wanted.

It’s not like he didn’t love Shouyou with his entire heart that entire time. He counted it.

Why was he alone, here at the end of April, phone sitting on the counter next to him at work, waiting for Shouyou to send him a message? His boyfriend was at a conference. Because he was the best teacher at his school, Tobio assumed, they’d rewarded him by sending him to Palm Springs to learn about how to incorporate more technology into the classroom. And Shouyou’s reward was Tobio’s punishment.

And here it was, the aforementioned weekend. Well, technically not the weekend yet as it was Friday. Shouyou was already at day 1 of the conference and besides the usual “have a good flight” and “I landed safely!” texts, they hadn’t communicated since.

Tobio couldn’t concentrate. He was staring at the cart of books he was supposed to be organizing. Maybe if he scowled hard enough, they’d sort themselves?

He was so obvious in his fluorescent angst that even Suga noticed.

“Tobio,” he said, almost a shout. Tobio turned his glare away from the books to find a new target. Suga just laughed as he locked on.

“What?” he growled.

“I said your name three times,” Suga said.

“What?” Tobio repeated.

Suga rolled his eyes and sighed, like Tobio was being the annoying one. He took a seat on the edge of the counter, as Tobio looked him up and down, still waiting for the answer to his question. He decided to ask it again.

What?” he said, once more.

“See?” Suga said, with a raised eyebrow. “It’s not fun to repeat yourself three times, is it?”

Tobio turned his back on the gray-haired menace. Why did he even try? He wasn’t in the right mindspace to play Suga’s games today. He was… sad? Lonely?

“You okay?” Suga prodded, gently, for him, which was to say, less annoying than usual.

“Shouyou isn’t here,” Tobio muttered.

Suga looked around with a stupid look on his face. “Is he usually?” he asked. “Does he come to your work often?”

Tobio huffed and decided it was a good time for a break. He went to the hallway behind the sorting room to go to the staff bathroom.

He pushed open the brown door with its flaking paint and was just about to unzip his pants at the urinal when Suga’s voice, just over his shoulder, made him almost piss himself.

“Do you mean you miss him?”

“Christ!” Tobio said, jumping about a foot in the air.

Suga laughed again. Why was everything so fucking funny, all the fucking time? “Just Suga is fine.”

Tobio went into the stall to get away from him. Sat down on the toilet. Locked the door after himself.

“I’m not talking to you,” he said.

He heard Suga use the urinal like he didn’t give a fuck that Tobio was hiding from him. Tobio heard him flush and the sink turned on as Suga washed his hands. Tobio heard him get a paper towel from the dispenser.

“Okay Tobio,” Suga said.

Tobio heard the door squeak open and swing shut. He counted to thirty. Then he opened the stall door.

Suga was leaned against the sink.

“Fucking shit,” Tobio gasped, backing up against the wall. “Don’t you have a fucking job to do?”

Suga tittered. “Same as you, I guess,” he said, looking at his fingernail as if it were personally offending him. Tobio watched him use the middle finger on his right hand to scrape underneath the thumbnail on his left.

Tobio hip-checked him to get to the sink, where he washed his hands. He got his own paper towel.

“I can’t believe you pretended to leave,” he huffed.

Suga held his hand out, checking it for his required level of perfection. “You gonna tell me what’s going on? Or am I going to just keep following you around all day?”

Tobio weighed the options in his mind as he returned to his back room. He could try calling Suga’s bluff, and see if he finally got fired for not doing his fucking job.

But Suga hadn’t been fired yet, and he hadn’t been doing his job for a while. Maybe ever? Tobio sighed. The other option was to actually tell Suga how he was feeling. Fuck.

“I miss Shouyou. He’s away for a conference. And I miss him,” Tobio grumbled.

Suga suddenly had a pitying look on his face. “How long has it been?” he asked.

Tobio did the math. Shouyou’s flight was at eight in the morning, and now it was four in the afternoon.

“Eight hours?”

Suga blinked slowly. “Eight hours?” he repeated.

“Yeah,” Tobio sighed. Man, maybe it felt good to share how he felt with someone? He definitely felt better.

“Tobio,” Suga said. “Are you fucking serious?”

Now it was Tobio’s turn to blink. “What?”

“You’re away from each other almost eight hours every day you go to work, aren’t you?” Suga asked, incredulously.

Tobio started to get flushed. “Yes, but—”

“But what?” Suga nearly squealed. “I thought he had been gone for days and it hasn’t even been one!” He went to leave. Before he hit the door, he spun on his heel and pointed at Tobio dramatically. “I can’t believe you!”

He threw the door open and exited stage right. The door swung shut after him.

Tobio took a deep breath. Held it for four seconds. Exhaled. Just like Dr. Takeda had taught him.

Tobio returned to his back room and thought about working. At least he was almost done for the day. At least Suga wasn’t bothering him anymore. Then his phone went off with a notification.

Tobio looked at the text. It was a picture. As Tobio opened the photo his mouth dropped open.

Shouyou was poolside, in sunglasses and swim shorts. He had a shit-eating grin on his face and sunblock smeared all over his chest, barbells in his nipples glinting in the afternoon sun. The accompanying message said, wish you were here.

Tobio followed the smears of sunblock across Shouyou’s chest and down the line of his abs. His eyes lingered on the faint trail of red-orange hair below his navel that disappeared into his waistband. Tobio’s mouth was dry, so dry. He replied.

>> I wish I were there too

Shouyou: I love the desert, I think

Tobio loved whatever Shouyou loved. He did an internet search for “best desert in the United States.”

Number one in romantic desert getaways: Sedona, Arizona. He looked at the pictures. Fucking beautiful. He started looking up flights. Shouyou’s birthday was less than two months away.

Shouyou: What are you up to?

>> Working. Unlike some people

Shouyou: Conferences are technically work

A string of emojis followed. Face with hearts all over, kiss print, face with tongue sticking out, cat with heart eyes. Tobio smiled.

>> Doesn’t look like work when you look like that

Shouyou: show me how you work

Tobio looked around. He even opened his door to look out at the reference desk. Suga was talking to a patron. Nobody was looking, he could take a selfie.

He opened the front facing camera. He almost yelled at the sight on the screen. Not only was he scowling, the angle of the lens was beneath him, so he looked like a nightmare. How a brilliant sunbeam like Shouyou even wanted to spend time with a storm cloud like him was beyond his comprehension. He raised the camera so it was at eye level. He still looked mad, but at least now it wasn’t mad and from a terrible angle. He tried to relax his face. He settled for a neutral smile. He snapped the picture, sending it to Shouyou. His first selfie text message.

Shouyou sent back a “laughing so hard I’m crying” emoji.

>> Fuck you then

Shouyou: come ON Tobio, I sent you a nice one.

Tobio started to sweat a little. He looked back a few messages so he could look at Shouyou’s picture again. His mouth wasn’t dry this time. Now it was watering. Tobio’s thumb lightly traced the screen, which made the picture zoom in. On Shouyou’s nipples. Pink and stiff and metal and…

Tobio put the phone face down on his desk and willed his dick not to get hard. Not at work. He thought about the Dewey Decimal System. About the octopus mural on the first floor. His dick was still twitching. Time to bring out the big guns.

He imagined covering the reference desk for Suga. On a Monday afternoon.  A line of angry patrons, all with requests for obscure—

Okay. He was okay.  Arousal, dispersed. Tobio let out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding.

He was incapable of taking a nice photo. There had to be some sort of rules or something he didn’t know about. He clicked on his phone, pulled up the search bar again, after saving the flight information for the most romantic desert in the United States.

Googled “how to take a sexy selfie.” What the fuck was a thirst trap?

Okay, it turns out there were rules for how to look sexy on film. Tobio turned the front camera on again. He pointed at himself, trying to find his “angles.” He heard a noise just outside his door. Fuck. He turned the phone off again and decided his back room was too scary of a place to try this.  His phone went off again.

A photo, of Shouyou looking over his sunglasses, one eyebrow raised in a challenge. The accompanying text said I’m waiting.

Tobio’s competitive side reared its ugly head. He got up from his desk and headed to find the “best light” where he could “tilt his chin.” He was at the Seattle Central Library, for fuck’s sake. There was plenty of fucking fantastic light. All the fucking tourists seemed to think so. Yeah, he was going to selfie the fuck out of himself. Shouyou would get thirsty as fuck in his trap. He wouldn’t know what fucking hit him.

----------

Shouyou could get used to the conference life.

Man, how was he supposed to know the conference didn’t actually start until Saturday? The school had paid for three nights at the hotel, not two. He was going to the welcoming cocktail reception up to the closing banquet and everything in between.

He got to Palm Springs with a couple hours to kill. Of course he was spending it poolside. Come on, that’s a no brainer. Where he lived the sun was out like, half the year. This was the fucking desert. It was hot and so was he.

After throwing the gauntlet to Tobio, he went in the pool to cool off a bit. The sun was nice but even in almost May it was near one hundred degrees. He did a few laps and then decided it was probably time to order from the poolside bar. It was half past four in the afternoon. Close enough to five.

By the time he returned to his chaise lounge with something icy and fruity in his hand, there was a message from Tobio waiting for him, sent nearly thirty minutes ago.

Damn.

Tobio was bathed in red light, the different shades lighting up his face. His lips were slightly parted, chin tilted up, eyes dark and hooded. One hand held the camera and the other was touching his neck lightly. Shouyou almost dropped the phone in his haste to respond.

>> Fucking hell, Tobio

Shouyou wrapped his towel around his waist. He had to get back to his room, stat. He looked around. Nobody was watching him as he took a healthy swig of his piña colada, giving himself a brain freeze instantly.

At least that calmed his dick down.

He hurried to his hotel room, thankful that the school’s budget had allowed him to have his own place. It would be best if he were alone for what was about to go down. He heard his phone go off as he was struggling with his keycard. It was hard to open his door with one hand while he was holding his drink and his phone with the other.

He finally got the door open and checked his phone. Another fucking picture. Fuck.

Tobio was home now, done with work for the day. He was laying back on his bed, skin illuminated by the late afternoon sunlight coming through his open window. His work shirt was unbuttoned to his waist, and the hand that had grazed his neck before was now slipped inside his shirt, lingering on his chest. Shouyou could see only a peek of skin, teasing him. It was enough.

Shouyou laid back on the hotel’s plush queen-sized bed. He wanted to appreciate the soft luxury, but he had bigger fish to fry. He threw his head back over the pillows, and held the phone up over himself. He bit his lip seductively, pinching his right nipple between his fingers. He was able to fit it all into the frame. He hit send.

As he was waiting for Tobio to respond, he took a shower. He was starting to get aroused in anticipation of what he assumed was coming next. By the time he had washed the sunblock off his body, his dick was rock hard. Shouyou stopped himself from jacking off under the warm water. He wanted to save it for Tobio, the man earned it with the fucking art he was sending.

He brought his towel with him, and laid back down on the bed. He picked up his phone and of course, there was a photo waiting for him.

Tobio was shirtless now, staring directly at the camera. His hand was below his waist. In his pants. His eyes told Shouyou that he wasn’t touching his leg.

Fuck, Shouyou wanted him bad. He only realized he was stroking his dick when he looked down. He used the hand not stroking his dick to take a photo. Of him stroking his dick.

The response was immediate. Tobio was video calling. Shouyou answered, but he didn’t stop what his hand was doing.

“Shouyou,” Tobio started, and then gasped. “You—”

Shouyou cleared his throat. “You do it, too, Tobio,” Shouyou said. “Let me see you.”

He watched Tobio move the camera so Shouyou could watch him unbutton his pants. He pulled his boxer briefs down underneath his cock. His hard dick fell out over the elastic. Shouyou moaned and his hand sped up, lubricated by the precum that was dripping out of his slit. He made sure Tobio could see.

“Oh, Fuck, Shou,” Tobio moaned, as he grabbed himself, rubbing his length from root to tip, collecting the drips that trickled down the side and twisting his wrist over the head.

“Yeah, Tobio,” Shouyou moaned right back. “Let me see you, let me hear you.” He sped up his hand as he watched Tobio writhe in pleasure.

“Wait,” Tobio said, and Shouyou watched him put the camera down. Shouyou was looking at the ceiling of Tobio’s bedroom. He slowed down his hand on his dick. He wanted to wait to see what his boyfriend had in store for him.

Tobio came back into the frame. His pants were completely off now. He leaned the camera against the books on his nightstand, seemingly trying to find the right angle. He laid back on the bed, pillows stacked beneath his head so he could keep looking at the camera. His dick was still standing straight up, his knees were bent, his feet flat on the mattress. He had something in his hand and Shouyou almost choked when he saw it was the lube.

Tobio lubed up both his hands. One hand went around his cock, jerking himself slowly. The other hand made its way between his legs, one finger pressing against his entrance. Shouyou couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His dick twitched at the sight of Tobio sinking one finger inside himself with ease.

“Fuck,” Shouyou said, and began pumping his dick in earnest.

“I wish it was you, Shou,” Tobio moaned, moving his finger in and out of himself as his dick continued fucking into his fist.

“Me too,” Shouyou breathed. Fuck, he was so turned on but he didn’t want to finish before the show was over. “Put another one in, Tobio,” he added.

Tobio slid a second finger inside himself and moaned at the stretch. Shouyou was so hot now. Watching Tobio’s tight hole clench around his fingers, listening to the noises he was moaning… it was fucking obscene. Shouyou imagined it as he stroked his dick, remembered how tight Tobio was the last time they fucked. Just as tight as the first time they fucked.

“Is it good, Tobio?” Shouyou asked, voice low and husky. “As good as my fingers?” Tobio shook his head. “As good as my dick?”

“Never, never, Shou,” Tobio whined, speeding up his hand.

The slick squelch of the lube was closest to the phone camera and was the soundtrack of Shouyou’s own pursuit of his desire.

“Fuck yourself, Tobio,” Shouyou demanded. “Harder.”

Tobio moaned louder, and moved his fingers in and out quickly, his dick thrusting into his fist harder and faster.

“Fuck, Shouyou, I’m close,” he groaned, and it was so fucking hot it rocketed Shouyou to the edge.

“You gonna come for me, Tobio?” Shouyou gasped, and Tobio nodded. “That’s my good boy.”

That’s all it took, Tobio’s back was arching and Shouyou could see the gobs of cum spurting out of his dick, over his fist, and onto his own chest. Tobio slid his hand through the mess slowly as he wrung the last of his cum out of his dick.

“I’m so close, Tobio,” Shouyou said, pumping his dick furiously. He watched as Tobio wiped his fingering hand on his pants, discarded at the foot of the bed, and picked up the camera. He brought it to his face so Shouyou could see.

Could see him bring his hand that was covered in his own cum up to his own lips.

Keeping eye contact, he licked his hand clean.

Shouyou couldn’t hold back. He spurted sticky white ropes all over himself, as Tobio hummed in appreciation. Shouyou’s eyes rolled back in his head as lightning flashed behind his eyelids.

“Fuck, Shou, is that all for me?” Tobio gasped.

Shouyou could only moan brokenly in reply. He fell back, trying to catch his breath. When he opened his eyes, Tobio was watching him intently.

“I have—to go—to fucking work now, Tobio,” Shouyou said, in between inhales. Tobio’s smirk said it all.

“I win, then?”

“I’m getting you back,” Shouyou declared, trying to sit up on his elbows and failing miserably. “Tonight.”

“Don’t threaten me with a good time,” Tobio said. “Talk to you when you’re done with work.”

He flashed a self-satisfied grin, licking his lips, and only after Shouyou had squawked in outrage did he end the call.

Shouyou looked down at himself. Time for another fucking shower. Damnit, Tobio.

----------

Two weeks after Shouyou got back from his conference, it was Charlotte’s birthday. She was turning five. 

Not only was she turning five, she was also graduating from preschool in a few weeks. This made her birthday party a bit of a farewell for her and her friends. So Shouyou went all out, reserving a picnic area at a local park and getting an inflatable jumper. He invited her entire preschool class and her teachers.

Unfortunately, Charlotte wanted to invite her grandparents and mother too.

Tobio wasn’t sure if he should even show up, with Shouyou’s family and Lysia being there. But Shouyou had a pained expression on his face and asked him to please lend a hand, that a party for twenty four- and five-year-olds was too much for one person to manage. Tobio didn’t know how he could help with the kids, he didn’t know anything about kids.

But he sure as hell could go to Costco and buy a bunch of pizzas, sandwiches, chips, drinks, ice, and cake. So that’s what he fucking did.

His plan was to make sure the food and drinks stayed stocked, and that they got their deposit back on the picnic site by keeping everything spotless. His secondary goal was to help Shouyou stay happy.

He was standing under a tree, watching the picnic tables, making sure he was fulfilling his goals. From a safe distance.

The party was a mixture of two themes: Sesame Street and Disney Princesses. The balloons’ color scheme hurt. Don’t even get him started on the tablecloths. He looked down and blinked a few times, trying hard to clear his eyes of the discordant hues while simultaneously attempting to blend into the tree trunk he was leaned up against. I should have worn brown, he thought to himself bitterly.

“Who are you pissed at?”

Tobio looked up from the ground and into the eyes of a tall guy with some crazy ass black hair and an all-knowing smirk. Tobio hated him instantly.

“Kuroo, leave Tobio alone.”

Tobio turned at the mention of his name, looking to the left of smug dickhead guy, and there was a shorter dude with two-tone hair, looking at a Nintendo Switch, not even pretending to be interested in the party. He paused whatever game he was playing, and looked at Tobio with his emotionless eyes. Aw, fuck, it was Kodzuken. Oh shit, Tobio looked back at the cocky asshole. That’s his fiancé.

“Congratulations on the engagement,” Tobio stammered, trying to remove the “fuck you” from his face. It wasn’t easy. Kuroo’s eyebrows hit his bangs.

“Wow, what a change of heart,” he scoffed, joining Tobio against the tree.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you,” Tobio said. “I’m a bit on edge.”

“Because the assholes are here,” Kenma agreed, looking back at his game.

Tobio nodded. He knew Kenma knew everything about everything.

“We’ve never actually met,” Tobio said. “I’m Tobio Kageyama. Shouyou’s boyfriend.”

“Kenma Kozume,” he said. “Shouyou’s best friend.”

They both looked at Kuroo, who shrugged instead of introducing himself.

“How does he do it?” Tobio asked, looking at Shouyou hugging his mother hello. “My parents just ignored me growing up and I don’t speak to them. They actively abused him and he still invites them over.”

Kenma looked at where Tobio was staring. “He’s a better person than you. Better than me, too. He even invited Lysia. Like that fucking asshole deserves to be here.”

“Holy shit, kitten,” Kuroo said. “I’ve never heard you so pissed before.”

“Yeah, well then you’ve never heard me talk about Lysia before,” Kenma replied. “She tried to destroy him and almost succeeded.”

The three of them watched Shouyou, who was now doing cartwheels in a grassy field. Charlotte was trying to imitate him and falling a lot. They were both laughing.

“I didn’t want to come,” Tobio admitted. “His parents don’t even know, he’s… um…”

“Gay?” Kenma asked. “Yeah, no. His mom knows a little but thinks it was a phase. His dad has no clue. They’re all fairly homophobic. His mom found him fucking a guy and threw him out. Did you guys seriously not talk about this?” He fixed Tobio with a withering stare.

“Yes! Mostly. I don’t really talk to him about his family. I get too angry.” Tobio was starting to get a little angry now, too. Defensive.

Kuroo snorted. “Just because a conversation makes you mad doesn’t mean it’s not worth having.”

“I already have a therapist, thank you,” Tobio snapped.

He stomped off to refresh the drinks and snacks. He looked around the party. Shouyou’s parents, Shouyou’s sister and her husband, Lysia and her asshole boyfriend that threatened Shouyou last year. He looked over at the tree. The two other men where right where he left them. Tobio sighed in frustration and stomped right back to where he started.

“Realized they’re everywhere, didn’t you?” Kuroo drawled, holding back a full on laughing fit. This motherfucker.

“Be nice,” Kenma admonished, with zero fire behind it.

“I just don’t have anywhere else I can be,” Tobio said, through gritted teeth. “I have to keep an eye on the food and drinks. That’s my job. Besides making Shouyou happy. That’s also part of my job. I guess.” He was pretty embarrassed to add the second part. There was something about Kenma that made him want to spill his guts. Maybe it was the eyes.

They sat in silence, Kuroo looking over the party, Tobio staring at the grass, Kenma tapping away at his videogame. After a while, Tobio broke the impasse.

“Why are you two here? It’s a five-year-old’s birthday party. Everyone else has a kid,” he looked around. Natsu didn’t have a kid but she was the aunt. That had to count for something?

“I’m Charlotte’s godfather,” Kenma said. “I’m basically family.”

Tobio nodded his head. He went back to his silent staring at the floor.

Just then, Shouyou bounded up to the three of them.

“Kenma! Kuroo!” he exclaimed, hugging them both. “I see you met Tobio.” Shouyou looked around quickly and pressed a kiss into Tobio’s cheek after he determined the coast was clear. “How much has Kuroo pissed you off already?” he asked in a half-whisper. Kuroo heard him and threw his head back in laughter, hands on his hips like he was having a blast.

“He’s insufferable,” Tobio agreed. “How is it going?”

“I want to get in the jumper but there’s too many kids,” Shouyou said with a gleam in his eye. “I’m hoping I can get in there when we serve cake. I’d prefer jumping to cake any day.”

“What time did you want to do the cake?” Tobio asked with a frown. The party had already been going for a couple of hours.

“Soon, I guess,” Shouyou shrugged. “I can’t believe you bought two.”

Tobio had gone back and forth on either chocolate and vanilla at the store for a while before deciding to just get both. There were nearly fifty people at the party. They could handle two cakes.

“I can set up the candles,” Tobio said. “I should refill the coolers anyway.” He looked around to make sure nobody was watching and kissed Shouyou’s forehead.

----------

“He seems nice,” Kuroo leered, as soon as Tobio was out of earshot.

“You are the worst,” Shouyou said, hitting him in the stomach. “You know you weren’t even invited. Only Kenma.” He threw an arm around Kenma’s shoulder.

“Things going okay?” Kenma asked, not even looking up from the screen.

“It’s fine. You know how it is. They’re assholes but they’re family.” Shouyou looked over at his mother chatting up some of Charlotte’s classmate’s parents. Lysia, Grant, and Charlotte were over by the jumper.

“I meant with your boyfriend.” Kenma deadpanned.

“Everything’s awesome, do you see how he’s in charge of the food? He’s amazing.”

“He didn’t even know how much your parents hate gay people.” Kenma looked at Shouyou and Shouyou couldn’t take it. He looked away. “What do you guys talk about, anyway?”

Shouyou blushed.

“Okay, I see how it is then.” Kenma looked back at his game.

“We talk about lots of stuff! I thought I had mentioned the whole ‘my parents were homophobic assholes’ thing before! I can’t keep track of the reasons why they suck, okay?” Shouyou sighed. “Now I’m going to go light some candles and sing happy birthday to my daughter, please feel free to join in!” He put on his most dazzling smile and skipped over to the table, where all the candles were set up on the cakes, ready and waiting.

Where was Tobio?

He called everyone from the party to gather round while he lit the candles. Tobio had bought these too. There was a gaudy princess candle on the white cake, surrounded by five plain candles, one for each year. The chocolate one had five Sesame Street characters. He lit a flame on Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar. He smiled when he got to Bert and Ernie. The original gay power couple.

Everyone sang and Charlotte blew out the candles. It took a few tries but she made it happen. Shouyou proceeded to cut the cake, but the job was quickly taken over by his mom and Natsu, who became a cake cutting machine. Shouyou looked around, still looking for Tobio, when he realized nobody was by the jumper. Now was his chance.

He ran over to the bounce house and kicked off his shoes. He crawled up the inflatable stairs and squeezed through the opening. It was a tight fit and he wasn’t that big, how were husky kids supposed to get in here? He saw a dark shadow against the wall opposite the entrance. Aw, shit, there was someone in here after all.

Tobio stood up and helped Shouyou wriggle through the entrance.

“How did you even get in here?” Shouyou panted. “I barely fit!”

“I tied it more closed after I came in,” Tobio snickered. “I wanted a warning before we got caught.”

“Got caught doing what?” Shouyou said, with a raised eyebrow and a suggestive wiggle.

“Shou, we can fool around anywhere,” Tobio said. Shouyou shrugged. That sounded good. “But you know what we can’t do anywhere except here?” He bent his knees and started to bounce.

“Bounce around?” Shouyou said, jumping on the inflated plastic.

“I bet I can fly higher than you can,” Tobio said, an evil smile on his face.

“The fuck you can,” Shouyou said. “Have you seen this ass?”

Tobio grabbed his hands and brought him to the middle of the house. They tried measuring the height of their jumps, but it was hard when the castle was moving around so much. They gave up on the competition as they both just relished the fun of bouncing, harder and higher, as Shouyou squealed and giggled in glee. He started trying to do tricks. Splits in the air, great. An attempt at a flip had him slammed on his back in no time. But he loved it. He loved jumping. He was a kid all over again.

He looked over at Tobio. His teeth were out in a smile, too. He bent his knees and slowed his bouncing down.

“I’m going to head out before anyone figures out I’m in here,” Tobio said. “I don’t want them to… think anything.” He ducked down to loosen the opening, so he could wriggle out.

“I’m sorry,” Shouyou said, grabbing his face. “I should have warned you about my family.”

Tobio shrugged. “I was thinking about that. You probably did. You told me everything else. I just probably didn’t realize how bad it was, or something. Not your fault.” He put his feet through the hole and pushed his way out, looking so cute that Shouyou couldn’t help it. He pressed their lips together chastely.

“I love you, Tobio,” he said.

Tobio smiled. “I love you too.” And then he fell off the plastic stairs and onto his ass on the grass outside.

Shouyou howled with laughter and proceeded to jump his heart out, for as long as he could get away with it.

----------

When Kiyoko texted Tobio a week after Charlotte’s party and asked if he wanted to hang out, Tobio was wary.  They really only saw each other when one of them was in crisis. Okay, when Tobio was in crisis. Was something wrong?

Tobio suggested a walk through Discovery Park. Lots of trails. It was peaceful, a good backdrop for whatever terrible thing he was sure Kiyoko was going to tell to him about.

He met her there at seven in the morning, before the sun got too hot. Not that it would have mattered, it was pretty cloudy and the breeze rolling in from the Sound made it quite chilly. It had rained earlier in the week but now weak sunshine was poking through the gray clouds. Tobio was glad he brought his trusty windbreaker even though he knew when they started walking he’d warm up.

Kiyoko was waiting for him in the south parking lot where he’d sent her a dropped pin. She was dressed in layers, her hands shoved in her jacket pockets. Her outfit, combined with the glasses and the beanie she was wearing, made her look like a model in an ad for Pacific Northwest tourism. Visit beautiful Seattle, Washington.

“What’s wrong?” he said, as he walked up to her. She hugged him in greeting.

“For fuck’s sake, Tobio. Do you mean, ‘hello?’ or ‘how are you?’” she admonished. “Like a normal fucking person?”

Tobio rolled his eyes. “Since when am I a ‘normal fucking person?’” He even added the quote fingers. Always cite your sources.

Kiyoko rolled her eyes right back and turned toward the trail. Tobio followed after her.

“Everything is fine,” she said, keeping a brisk pace on the tree-lined lane. Tobio ambled alongside her, his longer legs ensuring a more leisurely stroll. “Maybe I just want to hang out with my favorite cousin.”

Tobio let out a tch. “Do we even have any other cousins?”

“I think Grandpa’s sister’s kids have kids,” Kiyoko said. “That makes them our cousins, right?” Tobio shrugged.

“The rest of your parents’ siblings don’t have children,” Tobio said. “Neither do any of my other aunts and uncles.”

“Honestly, why did our parents even have kids?” Kiyoko wondered with a wry smile.

“They probably shouldn’t have,” Tobio agreed, kicking a pinecone off to his left.

“You know that means we wouldn’t exist,” Kiyoko said, shaking her head.

“We’d probably exist, just as other people or something,” Tobio mumbled.

Maybe he’d be a professional athlete, a landscape painter, a famous movie star. Maybe he’d be blonde, or Black, or short.

Maybe then he could be a better person, less fucked up. Maybe then he’d know what to do with his life, maybe then he’d have a fucking plan. Maybe he’d be less hard on himself.

He could play the alternate universe game all day. Better than the actual reality game.

The two of them trotted along in silence for a minute, only the sounds of nature as their soundtrack. They passed the historic chapel, its white clapboard frame glowing ghostly in the cloudy sunlight.

“Well, I didn’t ask you out here for an existential philosophy debate,” Kiyoko began.

Tobio sighed. “Could have fooled me.”

“I haven’t seen you at all these past few months. I almost missed our childhood family Christmas parties for a minute, because at least then I fucking got to see you.”

Tobio remembered the awkward feeling of being the only two kids in a room full of slightly tipsy, emotionally distant adults. “You missed that?”

Kiyoko was looking down. “The last time I saw you, I convinced you to go talk to Dr. Takeda. Now he sees you more than I do.”

Tobio was looking down too. “I asked you to be my therapist and you said no.”

“You can’t be a therapist to your own friends and family. It’s not fucking professional,” she huffed. “Am I not allowed to miss you?”

Tobio’s eyes darted up to her face, but thankfully she was still looking down, so he could go back to doing that too. “We text almost every day.”

“You know that’s not the same,” she argued. “What if you could only text Shouyou, but couldn’t see him. Hm?”

“That’s different,” Tobio mumbled, trying to not think about the last time Shouyou had gone away and left him alone. And what texts that had led to.

“Oh, why, because you love him?” Kiyoko said in a sing-song voice. “Good to know where I stand.”

Tobio was trying to stammer out an answer but Kiyoko was laughing. Oh, it was a joke.

Tobio fucking loved jokes where he wasn’t laughing. He scowled.

“We should hang out more, is all I’m saying,” Kiyoko said. Tobio was suddenly struck with inspiration.

“You should come to Shouyou’s birthday celebration thing,” he said. “We’re having a dinner party. A few people are going to come over. We’re going to make a prime rib, drink a little, play some games.”

“Yeah, I know,” Kiyoko giggled. “Shouyou invited Hitoka and me a week ago. We’re already coming.”

Great, now she was laughing at Tobio again. He frowned even harder. She glanced over at him and her small laugh turned into a full-throated guffaw at the look on his face.  He decided to walk a little faster, maybe burn off some of his irritation. He stretched out his legs and really started to put some glide into his stride.

“Come on, Tobio!” Kiyoko said, as she quickly fell behind. “Not fucking fair!”

“I’m not even running,” he called over his shoulder. “This is fair.”

He could hear her growl of frustration loud and clear, even from the few hundred feet he had already put between them. He half-smiled. We’re not so different, you and I.

Chapter Text

The last time Tobio had run an event was the marathon almost four months ago, back in February.  Shouyou had insisted that he do another one, and Tobio insisted he do it too, then, if he had such a hard on for running events.

Shouyou took him up on it, and here on a beautiful Saturday morning the second weekend of June, they were prepared to run a 10K along the water. It was beautiful out, white puffy clouds over a blue horizon, and Tobio had to begrudgingly admit the idea was a good one after all.

The weather was way different from Tobio’s last event. Rather than a cold winter morning, it was a mild spring day. Tobio preferred to run when it was a bit chilly, but as he looked over at his boyfriend’s pink face, smiling with the thrill of competition, he realized there was something even more amazing than running in the cold. Running with Shouyou.

As soon as the race started, his boyfriend took off like a shot, which obliterated Tobio’s normal pace as he lost himself in the new goal of catching up to Shouyou, who was trying to finish as quickly as possible. After a bit, Tobio wrested back the lead, but as they got into the uphill section, he found himself struggling, while Shouyou put his powerful thighs to work. Tobio remembered how he had scoffed when Shouyou insisted he was in shape and could “run six miles no problem,” but now he was eating his fucking words, watching his boyfriend’s orange hair and red shirt get further and further ahead of him.

On the downhill, however, Tobio was able to make up the distance. Shouyou had tired himself out on the incline, like a fucking amateur, and Tobio had the energy left in his muscles to power through the other half. As he caught up to Shouyou, who was breathing heavily and sweating profusely, he yelled, “looks like I’m going on without you,” as he ran past, like the asshole he was.

He breezed past the water station; he had his own belt and who puts a water station in the middle of a downhill? That’s the time to fly. For fuck’s sake.

As the race got into the next section, the road evened out a bit. They were a little over four miles into the run, almost back to the starting line. Tobio looked around and didn’t see Shouyou anywhere near him. He panicked momentarily. Did he get injured or something? He almost pulled out his phone, fully intending to call or text his tangerine when an orange blur flew past him.

“Snooze you lose, Tobiooooooo,” Shouyou yelled, as he ran by at full speed again somehow.  Tobio felt the adrenaline kick into his bloodstream. Oh hell no.

They were back to being neck and neck, last mile to go. Shouyou was just ahead of him, and then just behind. Neither of them wanted to give up, even though Tobio felt every single one of his muscles straining against his skin, felt the air in his mouth like a hot wind, felt the sick feeling of his stomach acid rising into his throat, felt his heart beating out of his chest.

He realized Shouyou was yelling at the top of his lungs and so was he, as they crossed the finish line.

After they received their finisher medals, Tobio got a Gatorade from a table and looked for his boyfriend, who he eventually found throwing up into a trashcan.

“I, win,” Tobio panted, giving Shouyou his Gatorade.

“Says, who,” Shouyou answered, taking the drink and opening the cap, taking a healthy swig.

Tobio went to the table, got another bottle for himself. By the time he got back, Shouyou was laying in some grass near the finish line.

“Get up,” Tobio said, kicking at his leg. “All your blood is going to pool in your muscles.”

“Don’t care,” Shouyou replied, starfished like he was an area rug.

“Get up,” Tobio repeated, pretending like he was going to kick Shouyou again. Suddenly his leg was being twisted up in a leg lock and he was being thrown to the floor. Damn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu motherfucker.

“You get up,” Shouyou said, mocking his tone, flinging himself back onto the grass.

“Not fair,” Tobio said, as he looked up at the sky from his new place next to Shouyou on the ground. “You used your superpowers on me.”

“You should be happy I didn’t choke you out,” Shouyou said with a laugh. Tobio got up shakily and dusted off the back of his shorts. He held out his arms to help Shouyou to his feet.

“Maybe I’d be into that,” Tobio said with a naughty grin, as Shouyou took his hands and stood with an excited squawk.

“Really, Tobio Kageyama, you are out of control,” he said, bringing their faces close together.

“You created a monster,” Tobio murmured, kissing his boyfriend, tasting his salty lemon-lime lips.

----------

Shouyou hadn’t had a birthday party since he was like, a one-year-old. And he obviously didn’t remember that one, he had just seen the pictures that proved it happened.

It would have been easier if he could have just brought his class cupcakes like the kids who were lucky enough to be born in the months between September and May. A birthday over summer vacation meant it was hard to get kids to come over to celebrate, at least that’s what his parents always said.

It didn’t stop them from throwing birthday parties for Natsu in July, but he didn’t ask too many questions. It was fun to be invited to a party every summer, even if it wasn’t for him.

When Tobio found out about the fact that Shouyou hadn’t been properly celebrated, his words, not Shouyou’s, he swore to rectify the situation.  Shouyou had tried to argue with him, but he backed down, because a determined Tobio was a slightly terrifying Tobio.

“It’s your thirtieth birthday,” Tobio insisted with a growl. “It’s special.”

“Age ain’t nothin’ but a number,” Shouyou muttered, a little embarrassed at Tobio’s enthusiasm for the whole “throwing a birthday party for Shouyou” idea.

“Okay, Aaliyah,” Tobio scoffed. “Were you even alive when that album came out?”

“I was two in 1994, but I started listening to it in high school,” Shouyou retorted. “The nineties had good music, shut up.”

Tobio just laughed and pushed Shouyou’s head with his palm, squeezing his hair lovingly.

Shouyou didn’t know why Tobio liked playing with his hair so much, but he liked it too. He’d never had a boyfriend or girlfriend who appreciated his orange fluff to such an extent. He knew it made him stand out, not many people were redheads, but other being an attention-grabber, none of his previous lovers had seemed to care about it, besides when they used it to pull his head back while they fucked him.

Lysia had even asked him to dye it once, after her friends had mockingly called her a ginger-lover. Shouyou had considered it, even bought the dark brown dye. And then he tried one of those apps that you can use to change your appearance, just to see what he would look like if he went through with it.

He was unrecognizable.

The fight they had after that was one of their worst. It was probably right after that when she started cheating on him. The guy she was fucking on the side had normal hair. Friend from college that she caught up with on social media. He told her to have a good time when she said she was going to meet him for drinks. God, he was so stupid.

He waited, to see if his poisonous mind would finish the thought for him, call him a fucking dumbass too. But it was blessedly, thankfully silent. Shouyou gave himself a mental pat on the back. You know what that is? Growth. Yay for healing!

Tobio wasn’t the type to throw a Suga-style banger, so he asked Shouyou if a birthday dinner party would be okay. Shouyou shrugged, he didn’t know anything about dinner parties, but Tobio said he’d cook a prime rib and Shouyou knew meat was good, so he agreed.

On the day of his actual birthday, they had a small celebration at the house. They spent the morning having an art free-for-all, where Shouyou laid down an old sheet in the apartment courtyard and he and Charlotte went full Shozo Shimamoto on some thick paper. She threw paint for almost a full hour before she exhausted herself. That afternoon Tobio and Charlotte baked a cake while Shouyou secretly took some photos. His favorite was the one where Charlie accidentally covered Tobio’s bangs in flour somehow, so his black hair was dusted in white. For dinner, they got burgers and fries, but also salads, so it was healthy. Afterward, Shouyou nearly fell out of his chair laughing at the sight of the cake. Thirty candles had been jammed into its surface by pudgy fingers. By the time Shouyou blew them all out, the first ones Tobio had lit were burned almost down to the frosting.

Shouyou thought thirty might be the best year of his life yet.

Even though he swore their tiny family get-together was enough of a celebration, Saturday approached, and so did the dinner party. Tobio had gone all out; the room was strung with fairy lights, the table set with fresh flowers and fine china. When Shouyou asked where he had gotten the nice dishes, Tobio tapped one against a wine glass. It was plastic. It just looked real. Shouyou laughed but then Tobio was blushing, and Shouyou was afraid he had embarrassed his boyfriend.

“I think it looks amazing,” he said, kissing him on the flush high on his cheekbones, one on each side.

“The forks and steak knives are real,” Tobio said. “Thankfully we have eight of each.”

Shouyou looked him up and down. He was dressed in the suit they had worn to the celebrity restaurant, his coat jacket slung over the back of a chair at the dining table, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, and his tie tucked into his shirt to avoid dipping it in the food he was preparing. He had been roasting the prime rib for hours, and the whole house smelled amazing.

“Can I help?” he asked, looking over the mashed potatoes Tobio was currently whipping into shape.

“I’m almost done here,” Tobio said, looking over at the table. “Could you maybe open some wine? I got a variety,” he added. “That one Suga always gives us is in there.”

Shouyou went to open a bottle, and as he put it on the table, there was a knock at the door. Their guests were starting to arrive!

Kiyoko and Hitoka were the first, and it made sense, Hitoka had always beaten Shouyou to school. She was a go-getter. Hitoka was wearing a red dress that was tighter than anything she had ever worn in the classroom. Shouyou had no idea she had such a hot body. She looked amazing.

“Hitoka, you’re so pretty,” Shouyou gushed, and Kiyoko wrapped her arm possessively around her shoulder.

“Yeah she is,” Kiyoko said with a soft smile, and Hitoka started stammering her thanks, but couldn’t get out the words.

Kiyoko looked stunning too, she was wearing a satin tuxedo vest over a sheer white blouse, with black pants featuring a matching satin stripe running down the seam. It flattered her pale skin and black hair so much that Shouyou couldn’t help but imagine Tobio in the outfit for a moment, and then he and Hitoka were both blushing. Kiyoko rolled her eyes at the two of them and took an orange gift bag from Hitoka’s hand, thrusting it into his chest. Shouyou accepted the gift and the pink on his cheeks deepened. He wasn’t used to people making a fuss over him.

They walked over to say hello to Tobio in the kitchen, as the door beckoned Shouyou again, and there were Suga and Daichi, each dressed in a button up and dark pants, one in dark green silk and one in dark blue cotton.

“You look like a cop,” Shouyou said, hugging them both hello, and Daichi sighed.

“I get that a lot,” he said, as Suga giggled like an idiot.

“Because you are a cop,” he said, handing Shouyou a bottle of wine with a ribbon tied around it. “A sexy cop,” he added, running his fingers over Daichi’s chest. Daichi responded by grabbing Suga around the waist, and Shouyou turned to put the wine away so he did not have to watch the two of them feel each other up in the entryway.

Kiyoko and Hitoka were sitting in their seats, and that’s when Shouyou noticed Tobio had made name cards for the place settings. He was really making this a dinner party to remember. Shouyou put Suga’s wine in the fridge and checked on Tobio, who was now wearing his suit jacket and plating individual salads of mixed greens, goat cheese, walnuts, cranberries, and fresh strawberries. He was drizzling a handmade vinaigrette over each portion as Shouyou’s mouth watered at the sight. The salad looked good too, he supposed.

“Is everyone here?” Tobio was asking, as he finished up.

“Just waiting on Kenma and Kuroo.”

Tobio frowned slightly. “Why do we call Kuroo by his last name?”

Shouyou shrugged. He hadn’t ever thought about it. Some people you just called by their last name. “I guess because Kenma does?” That sounded like a good reason.

There was a knock at the door, and Shouyou ran to answer it. He passed by the table where Suga was pouring wine for everyone and Daichi and Kiyoko were having a conversation, bonding over how hard it was to find parking downtown.

“Speak of the devil!” he cried, as he threw open the door, and saw his best friend and his fiancé, both dressed in black suits, white shirts, and black ties. They looked like they belonged in the movie Reservoir Dogs. He grabbed Kenma in a hug as Kuroo sauntered inside.

“I believe I was the Demon Lord, not the devil, get your facts straight,” he smirked, as he took his shoes off. “It’s weird to be black tie and barefoot.”

“It’s weird to be dressed in clothes,” Kenma said. Shouyou laughed. Kenma’s idea of formal was a hoodie that hadn’t faded too bad or gotten any holes in it.

“We can rectify that situation if you’d like,” Kuroo said with a suggestive smile and an eyebrow waggle, and Shouyou tried to lead them to the table before they started pawing at each other. Fuck, he had some horny friends.

Once they were all seated, Tobio served the first course, the salad he had been finishing up the last time Shouyou checked in on him. He even went around with a grinder, asking each person at the table if they wanted fresh pepper on top. It was so fucking sweet Shouyou wanted to start crying, but he knew the night was probably going to be full of reasons to cry and he didn’t want to run out of tears, so he sucked them back into his eyeballs.

Tobio sat down next to him, and they all started eating his first creation. The salad was as delicious as it looked, and Shouyou moaned at the flavors as they burst over his tongue. Then Suga was looking at him with his eyebrows raised and Shouyou realized how loud he had been, and the whole table was laughing.

As they ate their salad, they started talking, and of course Suga was dying to hear about how everyone had met and gotten together. He called it their “origin stories.” Kiyoko and Hitoka went first, their tale was the easiest to tell.

“I was blown away that Tobio had found someone and was now playing matchmaker,” she said, putting a strand of hair behind her ear. “I figured, if it was someone his guy was setting me up with, I’d try it.”

“Why is that?” Shouyou giggled. “You didn’t know me!”

“You were willing to be with Tobio. So I knew you were patient and kind,” she explained. “You wouldn’t hang out with assholes.” She sipped her wine. “Except Tobio.”

The rest of the table laughed at that while Tobio scowled, and then Suga had to hear the story of how Kuroo and Kenma got together, and Kuroo took the lead on that one, telling them all about the proposal, and pulling up video from Kenma’s Instagram highlights for the really good parts.

Tobio excused himself to carve the prime rib, and he came back out with a perfectly cooked slice on a bed of mashed potatoes, placing it in on the table. That’s when Shouyou finally let his tears fall. The meat looked so beautiful, the potatoes so creamy. He wept into his napkin and had only barely calmed himself down by the time Tobio had finished serving everyone and was sitting himself next to him with a concerned expression on his face.

“I’m just so happy,” Shouyou choked out, and Tobio rubbed his back with an exasperated look he didn’t even try to hide. Everyone sliced their meat and had their first bite.

It was the best steak Shouyou had ever had. The flavor, the buttery texture, the garlic and spices. Add silky smooth mashed potatoes too? Fuck. Shouyou was pretty sure this was one of the happiest days of his life.

After they had all bit into their steak, and Shouyou had moaned again, but appropriately this time, Suga decided to tell the table about how Tobio and Shouyou got together thanks to him and his appointment. Tobio still had a grimace on his face at the idea of covering the reference desk and Shouyou giggled at Suga’s impression of how Tobio looked when Shouyou came to pick up his books a few days later.

“Love connection, courtesy of Koushi Sugawara,” he finished, taking a big bite of steak as his self-selected reward.

“And you, Suga? How did you meet Daichi?” Shouyou asked, curious. For as much as Suga loved to talk, he’d never heard the story.

To his surprise, Suga was… embarrassed?

“Daichipulledmeover,” he mumbled.

“Sorry, didn’t hear that?” Kuroo joked. Shouyou snorted. All his friends were here and he was so happy.

“Daichi pulled me over,” Suga said, a little more clearly and resigned to his fate. “I was speeding, trying to get to work on time.”

“Did you seriously flirt with a cop pulling you over?” Hitoka asked, in either awe or disbelief. Why not both? Shouyou thought.

“No,” Suga said, at the same time Daichi said, “absolutely.”

“Let me get this,” Daichi continued, and Shouyou knew the flush high on his cheekbones meant Daichi was feeling his glass of wine and ready to tell a fucking story.

“So Suga is driving 52 in a 35, tearing ass down a residential area, and I was at an intersection—”

“Lying in wait,” Suga hissed, interrupting.

Stopped at a stop sign,” Daichi said, “and I had my radar gun out because the people living in that area had said they wanted to put in a speed bump because people were racing down their street.”

“And they did, and now I can’t take that street to get to work anymore,” Suga added petulantly. Daichi rolled his eyes.

“So here comes the Speed Demon,” he continued, after Suga was done with his aside, “and I pull him over, like, immediately, and he rolls down the window with this smile, the one where his eyes are closed, and his teeth are out, and he’s like, oh, I don’t know… blindingly charming?”

“I call that one ‘Mr. Refreshing,’” Suga said with a cackle and a gulp from his glass.

“So Mr. Refreshing,” Daichi went on, unfazed by Suga’s commentary, “looks me up and down and is like ‘there’s no problem here, officer,’” to which, of course I replied, ‘yes, there is, sir, you were going 52 in a 35.’ And then Suga responds, ‘but I got pulled over by you, so there’s no problem here, officer.’”

The whole table erupted in catcalls as Suga nodded proudly and raised his glass in salute to himself.

“You should have seen his blush,” Suga added. Daichi got even redder, and Suga added, “yup, there it is.”

“So I said, ‘I’m going to have to give you a ticket,’ and Suga was like, pouting, and tried to pull the ‘I’m just a poor librarian on my way to work’ card—”

“What can I say,” Suga interjected. “It had worked the time before.”

“You got pulled over before?” Daichi asked, turning to him with a shocked look.

“Right past that exact intersection,” Suga shrugged. He took another slug of wine as Daichi continued to stare. “What?”

Daichi shook his head, as if to shake off the ridiculousness of the situation. He took a sip of wine too, seemingly hoping it would help.

“Did you write him the ticket?” Kenma asked. Wow, Shouyou thought. Even Kenma is into this story. That’s how you know it’s good.

“Absolutely, the man is a menace,” Daichi said. “When I handed him the ticket, he asked if I could write my number on the back.”

Shouyou looked at Suga with newfound respect. “Oh my God, Suga!” he said with a laugh.

“Have you seen Daichi in uniform?” Suga asked. “I couldn’t help myself.” He gave Daichi’s leg a pat and added under his breath, “still can’t.”

Daichi cleared his throat. “So, it’s against departmental regulations to give criminals your personal information—”

“Always so by-the-book,” Suga agreed, looking at Daichi fondly. “Puts me in my place.” He then added in a low voice, “and I like it.”

Daichi tried to ignore all the… everything that was Suga and kept going. “But I knew he was on his way to work, and said he was a librarian. I figured out he worked at Central.”

“Imagine my surprise,” Suga said dramatically, “one Saturday, a gorgeous hunk of man is wandering around, looking for me—”

“Looking for texts on Ptolemy,” Tobio said, and his deadpan delivery had the whole table laughing while Tobio looked on in confusion.

“I tried to figure out more and more obscure subjects to look up, so Suga had to help me,” Daichi said by way of explanation, as Suga glowed.

“Your first kiss?” Hitoka asked, heart eyes personified.

“It was in the back corner on the ninth floor,” Tobio answered with a grimace.

“By the map room?” Shouyou asked.

“Opposite,” Tobio explained. “Daichi had Suga off the floor, and against the wall—"

“That was actually our third kiss, Tobio, and thank you for constantly bringing that up,” Suga interrupted. “One of my finest moments, actually,” he added, dusting off his shoulders. “Our first kiss was after my shift, after the fifth time he came to see me. He had taken so long to find the books he needed that we ended up closing, and he walked me to my car. He was too sweet.”

“Not as sweet as my Suga,” Daichi said, as he leaned in for a kiss that Shouyou was pretty sure he wanted to be chaste but that Suga turned obscene fairly quickly. The table howled and hollered, and Tobio threatened to pour cold water all over him if he didn’t knock it off.

The wine was delicious, the food was amazing. But the company was definitely the best part, Shouyou decided.

After dinner, Tobio threw all the plates into the sink, declaring he’d rinse and recycle them later, and they went into the living room to play charades.

They decided to put each half of a couple on a separate team, but then Shouyou and Kenma ended up on the same side, and their seemingly psychic link helped them wipe the floor with the other team, made up of the hilarious and very dark-haired collection of Tobio, Daichi, Kuroo, and Kiyoko.

The absolute silence that greeted Tobio’s impression of “water skiing” that looked more like mountain climbing than anything was deafening. Shouyou had never been so entertained.

After the pummeling, they switched up the teams, distributing the brunettes more evenly, and it was a much closer game. Suga and Kiyoko ended up as the power couple the second round, and by the end of the game they were exchanging phone numbers, on their way to becoming brunch buddies. Shouyou had an inkling that anyone Suga met became his friend.

Shouyou was just about to ask where Tobio went off to, when the man he loved walked in with a cheesecake from Bakery Nouveau, covered in fruit. As his seven friends sang a spirited “Happy Birthday,” Shouyou locked eyes with Tobio and felt his heart fill with happiness.

He blew out the candle without making a wish. He already had everything he needed.

After dessert and coffee, he opened his friends’ gifts. Kiyoko and Hitoka had gotten him a teacher planner for the upcoming school year, as well as a bunch of his favorite Pilot G2 pens in a variety of colors. Kuroo and Kenma had gotten him a couple of new rashguards emblazoned with the Bouncing Ball logo. Suga and Daichi got him a gift card to the local bowling alley, telling him they wanted pictures of Tobio playing. Then Tobio came up with an envelope and a bashful smile on his face.

Shouyou opened it to find plane tickets, from Seattle to Flagstaff, Arizona.

“Arizona?” he asked.

“You said you liked the desert,” Tobio explained. “Sedona was ranked as the most romantic desert getaway,” he finished, his blush returning in full force. Shouyou raised a hand to his mouth.

“Oh my God, Tobio,” he said. “For all of us,” he realized, as he thumbed through the papers and saw there were three.

“It’s romantic and family friendly,” Tobio said.

Of course, Shouyou was crying again. “Tobio, this is so thoughtful… generous, I—” he embraced him and Tobio wrapped his arms around him.

“I love you, Shouyou,” Tobio murmured into his ear as he held him close.

“I love you so much,” Shouyou said, as his happy tears fell down his cheeks.

The guests left by 10, and everything was cleaned up and put away by 11.

Tobio followed Shouyou into the bedroom to take off his suit and make sure it was hung up.

Shouyou was rubbing his eyes and taking off his vest and tie. “Tobio, thank you,” he said.

Tobio cleared his throat. He seemed a little nervous.

“I have one more thing to give you,” he said, looking at Shouyou, expectantly. Shouyou couldn’t believe this guy.

“Tobio, you don’t have to give me anything else,” he insisted. “You put this whole party together, you’re taking me on vacation to another state, what else could you possibly give me?”

Tobio took a deep breath. “Close your eyes?” he asked tentatively.

Shouyou obediently closed them, waited a couple minutes.

Shouyou wasn’t sure what he was expecting when Tobio told him he could open his eyes, but it wasn’t this.

Tobio was laid out on the bed in front of him, wearing lingerie.

“Tobio,” Shouyou said, and his mouth watered. He looked over his boyfriend hungrily, even though he had just had the best dinner of his life.

It was black. The top was like a harness, two upside down V’s over each of his chest muscles. A band ran underneath them, framing his pecs deliciously.

The bottom part of the contraption sat low on his hips, the crotch cut high so it held his dick in a pouch. Shouyou couldn’t wait to see the back.

There were also what looked like garters running from the waistband down his legs, and each thigh was surrounded by another three bands.

Sexy Tobio in Lingerie

“Is all this for me?” Shouyou asked, unbuttoning his own shirt.

“Yeah,” Tobio choked out. He was watching Shouyou, seemingly pleased that Shouyou seemed to like it so far. Shouyou slipped off his pants and underwear and threw them on the floor. With a predatory gleam in his eye, he crawled over Tobio’s body.

“You’re fucking beautiful,” Shouyou sighed, before claiming Tobio’s lips in a bruising kiss. Tobio melted underneath him, Shouyou’s ferocity seemingly taking him by surprise. His lips fell open and Shouyou licked into him savagely. Seeing Tobio all trussed up as his beautiful gift? He was this side of feral.

Tobio moaned, arching his back, as Shouyou moved his lips to his neck, kissing bruise after bruise into his beautifully framed chest muscles. He traced the straps with his fingers and pulled the right one to the side so he could bite Tobio’s collarbone. Tobio yelped under the assault. Shouyou reached down his hand, feeling how hard Tobio was already. He massaged Tobio through the lingerie as he reached for the nightstand, grabbing the lube and condoms. He tossed them on the bed as he shimmied toward the footboard.

“Fuck, Tobio, your legs look fucking amazing,” he said, as he rubbed up and down the muscles, covered in the straps of the ensemble. Tobio writhed under the touch.

“Please Shou, please,” he begged, as Shouyou rubbed him harder, pinching one thigh with his fingers while sucking bruises into the other. Tobio moaned as Shouyou growled and opened the lube. He reached for Tobio’s ass, fully expecting to have to move the panties out of the way.

But they were assless.

“Fucking hell, Tobio,” Shouyou hissed, as he pressed inside. Tobio came off the bed as Shouyou sank into the muscle, quickly moving the wet finger in and out of him. “You were wearing this all night?”

“More, Shouyou, please,” Tobio begged, and Shouyou obliged, even though he didn’t think his boyfriend was ready for it. He pushed two into him, scissoring him open, moving his wet fingers back and forth.

“Nh, nh, nh, need you, need you in me,” Tobio moaned, and Shouyou couldn’t wait either. Hopefully Tobio could stretch around him the last bit he needed, because he agreed, he needed to be inside him already. He rolled the condom onto his dick, lubed himself up, and tossed Tobio’s legs onto his forearms.

“I want you to keep it on,” Shouyou said. “And when I finish, I’m going to come all over your pretty outfit. I’m going to wreck you, okay, my love?”

“Yes, yes, please,” Tobio agreed, his eyes two embers glowing with desire.

Shouyou put the tip of his cock into Tobio’s tight ass, holding it with one hand, pressing inside, feeling Tobio twitch and throb around him. “That’s good, Tobio, you’re doing so well,” he said, and Tobio answered with a shuddering sigh and a gasping moan.

“More, Shou, more,” he whined, thrusting his hips forward, his greedy asshole gulping down more of Shouyou’s cock.

“Fuck, Tobio,” Shouyou gasped, as his dick was swallowed up, Tobio pushing himself to his limits to take it all so quickly. “You’re so desperate for me, aren’t you?”

“Yes, yes, yes, I want you so bad,” Tobio mewled, his eyes squeezed shut and his eyebrows pressed together.

Finally, Shouyou was all the way inside, and Tobio didn’t even wait to adjust. He started riding Shouyou’s cock from underneath him, helplessly grinding on Shouyou’s dick, trying to get him even deeper, trying to fill himself. Tobio was losing his fucking mind, had seemingly gone wild with desire.

“Gonna come, gonna come, gonna come,” Tobio howled, as he bucked and shook under Shouyou’s body. Shouyou stared at him in wonder, watching him fall apart. He’s doing this all on his own, Shouyou realized, as he tried to give it to Tobio. But Tobio was too busy taking it for himself.

And then Tobio’s eyes were flying wide open, locking onto Shouyou’s as he screamed his name, and his untouched dick was pulsing, thick ropes of cum painting his chest and abs and the lingerie as Shouyou thrust into him, over and over again, chasing his own pleasure, finding his own release.

“Fuck, you’re too good, you feel so good around me,” Shouyou moaned, as he felt Tobio squeezing around his cock. “I’m going to show you how good you make me feel,” he panted, as he got closer and closer to the edge.

“Give it to me, Shouyou, I wanna taste you,” Tobio pleaded, licking his lips and opening his wet mouth, ready to take whatever Shouyou had for him. Fuck, that was it, Shouyou was about to come.

He snapped his hips out of Tobio’s ass, ripping the condom off and tossing it to the floor. Jacking himself off, he came all over Tobio’s tits, his chin, and his mouth.

Tobio fell back on the bed, sweaty and covered in cum. He looked fucking beautiful. Shouyou raked his carnivorous eyes all over his beautiful body.

“Can I—” he hesitated, but then he was overcome with lust. “Can I take a picture of you?” Tobio’s blown out pupils tried to focus on Shouyou’s face. It seemed like it was hard for him to keep them open.

“Okay,” he murmured.

Shouyou scrabbled off the bed, picking up his forgotten pants from the floor to root around in the pocket. He picked up his phone and pointed it at the work of art that was his boyfriend. The black of the lingerie contrasted with the white of the cum dripping all over his body.

Shouyou kept snapping pictures with one hand, but the other was quickly occupied with his rapidly hardening dick.

From what he could see of Tobio’s cock, at least, from the tip jutting out of the top of the panties, he was just as turned on.

Shouyou put down the camera and picked up another condom.

“This is the best birthday of my life,” he said, as he rolled it on and then pushed back inside Tobio roughly, listening to him howl in pleasure.

The next morning, Tobio went home, most likely out of fear for his own safety. He probably couldn’t afford to be fucked by Shouyou again after the night before. The man needed to be able to walk and run.

Shouyou was in a pretty great mood. Birthday sex had that effect on him. He assumed birthday sex had that effect on everyone.

He went to Lysia’s to pick up Charlotte. He was excited to talk to her about the vacation Tobio had planned for the three of them. He had never taken Charlotte on a vacation out of town before. It was hard to do on a teacher’s salary, and while summer was a time of rest and relaxation, it was also usually when Shouyou had a lot of trainings and professional development. He was so thankful that Tobio had sneakily asked him his schedule weeks earlier, when he was at his conference in Palm Springs. He smiled in gratitude, thinking about how Tobio had planned this whole trip around the idea that Shouyou had fallen in love with the desert. How did Shouyou get so incredibly blessed? He had no idea.

He almost skipped up the stairs to Lysia’s front door. Nothing could get him down. She answered his knock with a frown, which he answered with a winning grin.

“Hello,” he said, and she grunted in reply. “I was wondering if I could talk to you for a sec?”

“Get on with it, dumbass,” Lysia prodded, seemingly annoyed he was wasting her time with the request for conversation. Charlotte ran out onto the landing, with her cute backpack dwarfing her tiny frame.

“Daddy!” she screamed, and he scooped her up, holding her tight.

“Hey Charlie-bug!” he smiled. “I missed you!”

“We done here?” Lysia asked, about to close the door in his face. Shouyou got right to the point.

“I was wondering if we could rearrange the weekends coming up, first weekend of July,” Shouyou began. “We have plans for a vacation.”

“Where?” Lysia asked.

“Sedona, Arizona,” Shouyou began. “It’s a beautiful desert getaway,” he started to explain, remembering the pictures he’d seen, but Lysia cut him off immediately.

“Out of state? I don’t think so,” she said. “No way.”

“But we’ve already brought the tickets,” he tried. “It’s a trip of a lifetime.”

“Should have checked with me first,” she said. “Per the marriage settlement, any out-of-state travel has to be cleared with me. And I’m not clearing it.”

And then she shut the door in Shouyou’s face, without even saying goodbye to Charlotte.

He looked over at his daughter, who was looking at him with a worried face.

“Daddy sad?” she asked, with a wobbling lip.

“Yes,” Shouyou admitted for once, wiping away a silent tear. “I sure am, sweetheart.”

Chapter Text

Tobio wouldn’t let a stupid asshole like Lysia get in the way of his plans.  He had done his research and he had booked an entire week of fun for him and Shouyou in beautiful and romantic Sedona, Arizona.

He put his anger and disappointment aside. He was determined to have a good time for his boyfriend, who was vibrating out of his skin in excitement on the day they were set to depart, getting up way earlier than he needed to, shaking Tobio awake at five in the fucking morning. Tobio growled at him until he left him alone; when he woke back up at seven-thirty, Shouyou was showered, dressed, and sitting at the dining table, waiting patiently, still vibrating. He informed Tobio that he had gone on a five-mile run, showered, eaten breakfast, and read a book.

Their flight was at eleven, so they headed over to the airport an hour before. Tobio hadn’t ever been on a vacation, his parents never wanting to spend time away from their work, his grandfather not really into traveling. As a result, he’d never been on an airplane in his life. He asked Shouyou to tell him about anything, trying to take his mind off the fact that they were hurtling through the air at five hundred miles an hour in a fucking tin can.

Shouyou nattered on about vacations he’d had with his family, mostly trips to see grandparents out of town, and one week-long stay at an aunt’s in the Midwest somewhere. Tobio hardly heard the words or understood the stories but there was something deeply calming about looking at Shouyou’s eyes, holding Shouyou’s hand, being Shouyou’s boyfriend. It got him through the ordeal.

Finally, they were landing at Flagstaff airport, finding the rental car counter, and figuring out the directions to the desert getaway that Tobio had planned for the two of them.

Living in Washington, he was no stranger to fucking trees, but damn if the drive to Sedona through Coconino National Forest wasn’t picturesque. It’s not like lived in a cabin in the woods like Henry Fucking David Fucking Thoreau. He lived in an urban area. So being in the woods for any length of time was a treat. He was overwhelmed with the beauty of the natural wonder, interspersed with the fondness he felt for Shouyou as he listened to him on the phone, telling Charlotte all about the flight and the airport and the rental car and the mountain and the trees for most of their forty-minute drive. They curved along a mountainside, and then…

It was a near religious experience when they were suddenly looking at the red rocks splayed out in front of them, craggy crimson beasts slumbering on a carpet of green.

“Oh my God,” Shouyou said, and Tobio could only agree. He tore his eyes off the road for a moment to peek over at his lover and saw tears falling down his face.

Tobio pulled into the hotel, which had a balcony that was literally hanging over Oak Creek. The view from their room was spectacular; the creek was lined in foliage, and the red rocks stood watch in the distance. White puffy clouds were nestled in a clear blue sky. Tobio joined Shouyou out on the balcony to take in the view. His boyfriend turned to him and the look on his face was pure joy. Tobio moved so he was standing behind him, wrapping his arms around him, resting his chin on his fluffy orange hair.

“Thank you, Tobio,” Shouyou sighed. “This is amazing.”

“We just got here,” Tobio chuckled. “We haven’t even started with anything I’ve planned.”

“It’s already amazing,” Shouyou said.

Tobio was able to convince Shouyou to tear his eyes away from the view to go get dinner at a cute restaurant across the street. On the way, they took a moment to look at all the outdoor art decorating the gallery right next door. Shouyou swore if he had a house he’d put one of the colorful wind sculptures right in the front yard. Tobio smiled at the idea of a ten-thousand-dollar lawn ornament and held his boyfriend’s hand a little tighter.

Dinner had amazing views, too, and both of them were quiet in favor of gazing out at the red rocks contemplatively. Shouyou was already yawning, but Tobio wanted to push him just a little bit longer. Sunset was in twenty minutes.

They went back to the hotel to grab the car. Tobio put the address for the Sedona airport mesa into his phone’s navigation, and ten minutes later they were overlooking a sprawling view of the whole area. Shouyou kept pointing out more and more of the rock formations, declaring each his favorite, before his gaze would discover a new one. He was glowing with happiness. He looked so fucking beautiful. Tobio held him close and watched the sun dip lower on the horizon, painting Shouyou’s face in shades of gold and bronze.

As the sun left their sight the sunset was painted on the canvas of the clouds in colors of pink, orange, yellow, and violet. Shouyou burrowed into Tobio, pressing their clasped hands against his chest. Tobio felt Shouyou’s heartbeat and knew his own would never beat for anyone else again. Between the sight of the sky and the feeling of the person he loved the most against him, Tobio didn’t think he could feel any more content.

By the time they were back in the car, Shouyou was barely keeping his eyes open. He was drifting in and out of sleep as they drove to the hotel, and Tobio had to help him climb the stairs to their room and get undressed. He barely stayed awake as they brushed their teeth. He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, and Tobio was right behind him.

----------

Shouyou was up with the sun.

He couldn’t even blame a different time zone; Washington and Arizona had only the difference of daylight savings between them.

Through the balcony window he watched the golden dawn paint the rocks brighter shades of crimson and carnelian. He wanted to hike, run, climb, he wanted it all. He shivered in anticipation. What did Tobio have planned for them?

He looked over at the beautiful man asleep on the bed. He looked out at the landscape from the balcony. Tobio. Red rocks. Which sight was more stunning?

He tiptoed back over to the bed and slipped in next to his boyfriend, reaching over his face to press kisses into his closed eyes. Tobio’s brow furrowed and then relaxed as he seemed to realize what was going on.

“Is it five in the morning again?” Tobio murmured. Shouyou checked the bedside clock.

“It’s six,” he whispered in Tobio’s ear.

“That’s still really fucking early,” Tobio said, rolling onto his side, away from Shouyou and towards his pile of soft pillows.

“Fucking early?” Shouyou whispered, following him, pressing his body into Tobio’s back. “Is that a suggestion?”

“Do whatever you want, Shou,” Tobio mumbled. “Just let me sleep a little bit more.”

Shouyou could do that.

He wiggled down under the covers, pulling Tobio’s leg over his head. He rubbed his face into the front of Tobio’s underwear, where he found a morning hard-on waiting for him.

Well, he assumed it was for him. Who else would it be for? He smiled and took Tobio’s dick out of his underwear. He licked his palm and wrapped his hand around the base as he brought his mouth over the tip, swirling his tongue around the head. He plunged his face as far down as he could without gagging, drooling all over Tobio’s dick, using his spit as lube for stroking his hand up and down.

“Unh, oh fuck,” Tobio was murmuring, as he turned onto his back, and one sleepy started to rub Shouyou’s hair, the blunt fingernails lazily scratching his scalp and sending shivers down his spine. Shouyou felt his own dick getting harder as he used his hands and mouth even faster to bring Tobio to the edge. He hummed in happiness as Tobio’s hips began to buck into his face.

“Close, Shou, nnnh,” Tobio was gasping. His hands were fists in Shouyou’s hair now, and his legs were shaking. Shouyou bobbed his head as quick as he could, sucking with all his might. He was rewarded when Tobio groaned and filled his mouth with pulses of hot cum. Shouyou stroked him a few more times, licking him clean.

Tobio’s hand was still in his hair, and Shouyou felt him pulling. Shouyou followed the motion, as Tobio brought his face up to his own, slightly more awake than he had been earlier. Then Tobio was kissing him deeply.

He turned them both so Shouyou was on his back and Tobio was over him, still licking into his mouth. Shouyou moaned as Tobio kissed down his jaw and neck, sucking a mark into his collarbone as he moved his mouth to Shouyou’s right nipple, using his teeth on the barbell there just like they both liked. The fingers of his right hand pinched the left one, as he slotted his knee between Shouyou’s thighs, pressing into him. Shouyou’s back arched off the bed as Tobio moved his mouth to his other nipple, and now his hand was moving down, taking Shouyou’s cock out of his boxers and stroking it with his fingertips.

“Please, Tobio, please,” Shouyou begged, as Tobio wrapped his fist around his hot length.

“Please what,” Tobio asked, licking down Shouyou’s ribs to his hipbone, where he used his teeth to leave a bruise.

“Please put your mouth on me,” Shouyou gasped, as Tobio’s tongue licked across his abs. Shouyou could feel his breath ghosting over the tip of his cock. He resisted the urge to raise his hips and put his dick into Tobio’s open mouth by force.

Shouyou watched Tobio’s tongue come out and barely touch the back of his cock.

“Like this?” Tobio asked innocently, as he lapped at the back of Shouyou’s dick, pressing the width of his tongue against the tip.

“Nhhhh,” Shouyou moaned, eyes threatening to roll back into his head.

“You’re not gonna watch?” Tobio asked, lips smacking as he brought Shouyou’s dick against them, rubbing his precum over his mouth, making it shiny and wet. Oh fuck. “I’m not going to keep going if you’re not paying attention,” he teased, and now Shouyou could feel his teeth lightly rubbing the tip too.

“I’ll watch, I’ll watch.” He would do anything at this point to get that mouth fully on him. “Please,” he added, for good measure.

Tobio obliged by finally opening his mouth and putting Shouyou’s cock inside. He sank all the way down, until his nose was pressed into Shouyou’s pubes. Shouyou gasped loudly, crying out at the sensation. He sucked once, and then drew his mouth back up Shouyou’s dick and right off again, continuing his teasing licks.

“Tobiooooooooo,” Shouyou whined. “Why?”

“Afraid I don’t understand what you mean,” Tobio said, stroking him firmly, and raising his eyebrows in delight at the bead of precum he brought to Shouyou’s slit. He tongued the drop clean, and Shouyou thought he might start crying.

“Please, please, suck my dick,” he begged.

“I did,” Tobio insisted.

“Again, please, please,” Shouyou pleaded. “I want to come in your mouth.” He knew that would get Tobio to stop fucking around. He knew what his boyfriend liked most.

“You were very nice this morning,” Tobio considered, wrapping his tongue around the tip of Shouyou’s cock. “That’s true,” he said, popping off.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” Shouyou chanted quickly.

Tobio shrugged. “Okay.”

He plunged down onto Shouyou’s dick so quickly Shouyou bucked off the bed against his will. Tobio’s pace was ferocious, he was twisting his face with every plunge, one hand pressed into Shouyou’s perineum, the other stroking every part of his cock his mouth wasn’t sucking. Shouyou knew he wasn’t going to last.

“Close, Tobio, please,” he warned, as Tobio seemed to almost laugh in pleasure. He kept up the pressure and added even more speed. Shouyou couldn’t hold back. He didn’t want to.

“Ahhhh,” he nearly yelled, as he spilled in his lover’s mouth. Tobio lapped it up greedily, trying to get more somehow, as if he sucked or stroked hard enough, Shouyou would give him extra. He was so greedy for Shouyou’s cum. He fucking loved it. Shouyou loved that he loved it.

But now it was too much, and his writhing clued Tobio in. His licks got more gentle and finally he removed himself altogether.

“Good morning,” Tobio said, moving up Shouyou’s body to put their faces together. He kissed Shouyou lightly on the nose and Shouyou wiggled in happiness.

“Good morning, my love,” Shouyou answered, kissing Tobio between the eyebrows, in the crease he was making for himself by frowning all the damn time.

“You wanna just stay in bed all day?” Tobio asked, nuzzling the top of Shouyou’s head now.

That seemed promising… but they could do that at home. They were in a literal desert paradise. Shouyou wanted to explore, to let his inner adventurer run free.

“As amazing as that sounds, as amazing as you are, I wanna go out,” he admitted.

“What do you want to do, ‘out’?” Tobio asked with a yawn.

“Something with the rocks, of course,” Shouyou said.

“Okay,” Tobio said, sitting up on an elbow and resting his head on his fist, rubbing small circles into Shouyou’s hip with his other hand. “You have three options.”

How much did Shouyou love this man?

“Lay ‘em on me, Tobio,” he said with an excited grin.

“Option 1, you get a hard hike where you have to really work for a great view. Option 2, you get a trail run, hardly any elevation, a few miles, a great view. Option 3, you get to climb some red rocks and get a great view,” Tobio listed.

“Ahhh, but what do I do to get a great view?” Shouyou joked, kissing his beautiful boyfriend on the lips sweetly.

Tobio smiled and it was gorgeous.

“I’m gonna have to go with climbing the rock,” Shouyou said. “All I’ve wanted to do is climb the rocks since I got here.”

“You haven’t even been here twenty-four hours,” Tobio said, getting out of bed and stretching to the ceiling. Shouyou watched the muscles in his back move, appreciated the twin divots above his ass. Let his gaze linger over his long, muscular legs.

“Maybe before we go…” Shouyou said, standing up on his knees and shuffling to the edge of the bed, wrapping his arms around Tobio’s waist and nuzzling his back. “We could stay in bed a little while longer?”

Tobio looked over his shoulder with a smirk. Shouyou tried to look as alluring as possible. He bit his lip and raised his eyebrows.

Whatever he did, it worked, because Tobio got back into bed and fucked him until he couldn’t even remember what day it was.

----------

Tobio had researched the best hotel, the best restaurants, the best hikes. He had a fucking itinerary.

Secretly, he had been hoping Shouyou would pick the five-mile trail run. That was his bread and butter. But climbing Baby Bell Rock was fine too.

The path was hardly packed, at eight in the morning in the middle of the week. Tobio was actually thankful Shouyou had woken them up early. That meant the trail was theirs to conquer.

Or, get lost on. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Thankfully, there were cairns every few hundred feet, keeping them on track. Tobio said a silent ‘thank you’ every time they passed a stack of the balanced rocks.

The day was clear, the air crisp, not heated up with the rise of the sun quite yet. It was still Arizona and it was still July, so later on the weather would be in the nineties. But for now it was a nice seventy degrees.

As they walked and climbed over various tree trunks and rocks, they talked about a lot of things. How things were going at work. Shouyou was excited that his principal was giving him more leadership opportunities. When Tobio grumbled about the opportunities hopefully not meaning more conferences, Shouyou laughed and said “probably,” and Tobio secretly decided that he would much rather Shouyou be a follower than a leader.

“What about you?” Shouyou asked, as they stopped to take a picture of a huge agave that had sprouted at least twenty feet in the air. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Tobio scuffed the red rock with his shoe and watched the print disappear as he kicked the dust over it.  “I’m almost thirty, Shou. I’m grown up.”

Shouyou giggled, a musical sound echoing across a wide expanse, set against a backdrop of distant highway.

“You know what I mean. What are your goals, your ambitions?” He turned to Tobio with eager eyes, glowing with the expectation of an amazing answer.

Tobio literally had no idea. His goal out of eleventh grade had been to survive. Out of twelfth grade, to graduate. Out of college, to get a job. Now?

“I just want to be happy,” he murmured.

“You’re not happy now?” Shouyou questioned, his eyebrows up in concern.

“Stay happy, then?” Tobio answered. “I guess?”

“It’s a good goal,” Shouyou agreed, climbing from a foothold to a higher level, and helping Tobio with a steady arm as he did the same. “How are you gonna do it?”

Tobio thought about it. He hadn’t been happy for long. Just in the past few months. Figuring out his life, his sessions with Dr. Takeda. Being happy with himself.

Being in love with Shouyou was extra, a dollop of whipped cream on top of the cheesecake. He could probably survive without the man, if he had to. But he didn’t want to. He looked over to where his lover was climbing up to the next level by pressing his feet into the stone walls on either side of a crevasse, Ninja Warrior Spider Jump style. There were literally stones laid down as stairs, but he wasn’t using them. This was his boyfriend, ladies, gentlemen, and enbys. Ninja Shouyou.

“Get married,” he said in a whisper. To you, Tobio added silently. “Have a family,” he said, even quieter. With you.

“What?” Shouyou called with a laugh, now high up on the rock face.

“I don’t know,” Tobio shrugged, climbing up to meet him.

Forty-five minutes later, they had conquered Baby Bell Rock.

The coolest part about the whole thing was the view, of course. They each took turns taking pictures of each other on the summit, the landscape laid out around them as their own personal paradise. It was amazing to feel on top of the world, even though they were only probably fifty feet up in the air. Hey, those fifty feet were hard-won.

The second coolest part was the throne cut into the rock, just below the summit. They each got a turn playing royalty as they snapped pictures of themselves reigning supreme. Shouyou insisted on calling him King Kageyama the rest of the way down the rocks. From anyone else, it would have been annoying as fuck. But from Shouyou… it was different. He decided he wouldn’t mind being Shouyou’s king.

They got back to the hotel by noon, and took showers so they could wash off the dust trail. The whirlpool tub was intriguing but they were too hungry for lunch to take advantage. Later, they both promised. They still had five days, after all.

After lunch, they wandered downtown, looking at all the artistic and weird items for sale. Shouyou swore he was going to get a wind chime that was the same style as the outdoor gallery art, but when Tobio pointed out his apartment neighbors would most likely not appreciate the noise, Shouyou sighed longingly and said, “maybe someday, when I have a house.” Then he went to go look at some scorpions encased in amber.

When Shouyou stepped out into the plaza to call Charlotte and tell her about all the cool stuff in the shops, Tobio secretly stayed behind to buy the wind chime. He had a new goal. Get a house. And a second goal, related to the first: share it with Shouyou and Charlotte.

Around four in the afternoon, they decided to do the next thing on the “fun things to do in Sedona” list that Tobio had created after his careful research. They went wine tasting.

Not that he’d ever been wine tasting before. Or even drunk much wine, outside of dinner dates at Suga’s where the sweet rosé flowed freely. But the wineries were highly rated and Tobio trusted the research. He was a librarian, after all.

Three tastes in at the first location, he realized he didn’t care for wine tasting at all. He looked over at Shouyou, who was gamely trying everything the server gave them.

“Do you like this?” Tobio asked, after he just smelled the new pour and ended up dumping it.

“It’s okay,” Shouyou said. “I think I prefer beer, if I’m being honest.”

Tobio preferred beer. Or water. Or a glass of milk.

“Would you rather go beer tasting?” Tobio suggested. Shouyou’s eyebrows shot up.

“They have that in Sedona too?” he asked in astonishment. “Is this heaven?”

Twenty minutes later, they were at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill, and there were a few beers to taste.  Seven, to be exact, and they could get all at once in a sampler. So they both did. And after that, it was happy hour, and they each ended up ordering a couple of their favorites from the sampler. And a couple burgers. And at least one more beer each. At least, that’s how Tobio remembered it. Which was to say, he didn’t remember much at all, after the fourth beer.

He definitely remembered he was too drunk to drive. And when they looked at the rideshare app they both realized they were less than half a mile from the hotel. What was half a mile to two fools who had already hiked that morning and conquered a fucking rock?

They stumbled down the street, hoping to not get arrested for public drunkenness, and then the stumbling became skipping, at least on Shouyou’s part, and a lot of laughing. They got back to their room and immediately shared the same idea: whirlpool jacuzzi bathtub.

They got undressed, in between kisses and some more stumbling, while they waited for the tub to fill up. Shouyou ended up dumping half a tiny bottle of body wash into the foaming jets, and soon the bubbles were a couple feet above the water. They got their hands off each other long enough to slip into the inviting water, where they splashed each other a few times, relaxing in the warm froth.

Tobio hadn’t been in a hot tub in a minute, and he had definitely never been in a hot tub drunk. As he sat in the hot water, he looked over lovingly at his boyfriend. It was better that there were two of him, right? Twice as much to love. He swam over and straddled Shouyou’s lap.

“You always do this to me,” he slurred. “Feels nice. I like it.”

Shouyou’s head was thrown back, looking up at Tobio with a stupid smile.

“But now you’re too big,” Shouyou giggled. “I do it because I’m smaller than you, ya giant.” He laughed and poked into Tobio’s chest, like he was going to push him off. But he had zero force behind it, and pretty soon he was stroking Tobio’s nipples and his moans were echoing off the bathroom tile.

Tobio bent almost in half to kiss his lover on the mouth, enjoying his sweet citrus taste. He pulled back because it was a little hard to breathe for some reason? And really, really hot. He looked around and the room seemed to be very… moving.

Oh no. He was drunk drunk drunk and seemed to be getting drunker.

He could see Shouyou’s head sliding beneath the water, like a hippopotamus in a swamp. A spike of panic sobered him for a half a second. He heaved Shouyou up out of the tub and onto the edge, against the cool tiled wall.  He sat next to him, trying to catch his breath. Shouyou’s head flopped forward. He was close to falling asleep. Or maybe passing out.

This was pretty bad. Buzzed was fun, drunk was less fun, drunk in the hot tub was fucking dangerous.

Tobio drained the jacuzzi and made sure he wrapped Shouyou up in a towel. He started the shower and slid Shouyou over to the other side of the tub. Then he stood up, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend’s shoulders. Thankfully, Shouyou wasn’t completely asleep. Stumbling, Tobio walked him over to the shower. He pushed the love of his life under the icy spray.

Shouyou woke up. Oh, he was awake, alright. Awake and yelling a lot.

Tobio followed him in. This was going to be punishment for both of them, it seemed.

The effects of the hot tub wore off quickly as the cold water fell over each of them. Shouyou still seemed to be half asleep, scrabbling at his clammy skin with his hands as he repeated, “what the fuck?” Tobio agreed with the sentiment but they couldn’t both have a fit. After he felt the sleepy, hot feeling fade away, he turned the shower off. He filled up a glass of water for each of them, and when Shouyou put it back down on the counter immediately, he picked up the cup and held it to his lips, refusing to move until Shouyou drank the whole thing down.

Then it was time for dental hygiene. It was really hard to floss someone else, and even harder when that person insisted on paying you back by flossing your teeth as a thank you.

They flopped into bed early for the second night in a row. Tobio didn’t even have time to wish Shouyou sweet dreams before they were both snoring softly.

-----------

Where the fuck was he?

“Charlotte?” he said, when he woke up, trying to figure out why he wasn’t in his bed at home. He looked over, and saw Tobio was there. That was nice, he loved it when Tobio spent the night. Was Charlie at her mom’s?

Then he looked over and saw the sunlight and the view and oh yeah, that’s right!

And then the sunlight and the view were very bright, and actually, it was pretty terrible how his stomach felt like it was full of acid and…

He ran to the bathroom and threw up.

After washing out his mouth and brushing his teeth, he felt a bit better.  He drank a couple glasses of water and sat on a chaise lounge facing the view. He really should go back to sleep. It was super early. He looked at the clock next to the bed. Ten in the morning.

Wait, what? Ten in the morning?

Shouyou couldn’t even remember the last time he had slept past seven. Ten was unheard of. He had already been through almost two hours of class at ten in the morning on a normal day.

He stood up quickly to cross to the bed, but his body was like, “nope!” and he sat his ass back down.

There would be no morning blow jobs today. He would probably get sick all over his boyfriend if he tried. He looked at Tobio, face relaxed as he slept, not a hint of the scowl that usually plagued him. He smiled and he swore Tobio smiled back, even though he was unconscious.

“Shouyou?” he heard, a slight mumble.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“Why are you staring at me?” Tobio asked, opening his eyes fully, trying to sit up, wincing, and laying back down.

“Because you’re beautiful,” Shouyou said, getting up to walk to him, slowly this time. He made it to the bed, where he snuggled into Tobio’s chest.

“You smell minty,” Tobio yawned.

“I had to brush my teeth. I got sick.”

“Understandable,” Tobio huffed. “I was drunk as fuck last night and you had like, three more beers than I did.”

The word beer did something to Shouyou’s stomach. He gulped and ran to the bathroom again.

An hour later, they had had some muffins and coffee and were feeling semi-human again. Fully sunblocked and clad in swim shorts and shirts, they walked back to where they had left the car.

Shouyou thought it was weird to wear shoes and not sandals with the obvious beach-inspired gear, but he didn’t ask questions, especially when the backpack filled with sandwiches and snacks also contained said sandals.

They were happy the car was still in the lot, and the short walk actually did both of them good. They were both feeling better as Tobio drove them out of town, back the way they had come in, for about fifteen minutes.

When they finally turned left off the highway, the sign said Slide Rock State Park.

Slide Rock? Thought Shouyou. Isn’t the word “rockslide?”

They bought a parking permit from the ranger and parked the car. Tobio carried the backpack as they walked down a paved path, past a souvenir shop and snack bar, and some historic buildings. The whole place used to be an apple orchard. Shouyou could still see some trees with fruit.

Then they were climbing down some stairs, and emerging in a small canyon with a river running through it.

“This is actually the same creek we’re sleeping next to,” Tobio said, as they picked their way along the red rocks, past sunbathers and families on towels. “But this is closer to where it starts.”

They climbed up a bit, to a slight cliff, where they could see people jumping into the creek from the height. They kept walking, past an outhouse-type restroom, to an area where there were less people.

Shouyou definitely wanted to jump off the cliff. But later, after he had relaxed a bit. And recovered a bit more.

The rocks were slippery and he was glad he was wearing shoes with some traction. Finally, they came to the end of the rocks, and all Shouyou could see was water and a tiny bit of shoreline further up. Tobio took off his shoes and socks, putting them under an overhang. Shouyou did the same. Tobio put on his sandals and stepped out into the water. He shivered with the cold.

“Shoes in the water, Tobio?” Shouyou laughed.

“You don’t want them, don’t wear them,” Tobio smirked right back.

Well, who ever heard of shoes in the water? Shouyou didn’t ever wear shoes in the water. He ignored Tobio’s raised eyebrow and stepped toward him, where he promptly slid on the slimy rocks and landed firmly on his ass.

Tobio laughed at him, so Shouyou crawled over to him, grabbed him by his knees, and pulled him completely down into the freezing water. They both gasped as they went under. The water was fed by fucking glaciers or something.

Then Tobio was splashing him, and Shouyou was splashing back, and it was like he was a kid again, flopping around in the freezing water, surrounded by red rocks, soothed by green trees and looking into the blue, blue eyes of the man he loved.

After they got used to the frigid water, they were able to slip down the natural slides the water had carved into the rocks, made slick by the algae. It was fun to get pushed by the current along the slippery slopes, and it was even more fun to jump off the cliffs with all the other thrill-seekers.

On the drive back into town, Shouyou called Charlotte to tell her all about the slides. He didn’t want to scare her with stories about the cliff jumping. He could show her someday, hopefully.

Back at the hotel, they had just enough time to shower and get dressed in some nice clothes, to make it for dinner at the most delicious restaurant in Sedona, Elote Cafe.

The restaurant didn’t take reservations, and since they were both used to eating early dinners, they didn’t mind lining up at 4:30 to get in when the restaurant opened at five.

In line, they compared their cliff-jumping form from earlier. Tobio insisted that pointed feet, pencil dive style, was still superior to the cannonball Shouyou ended up with in the end. Tobio was going on about physics and aerodynamics and water displacement, and Shouyou agreed, he taught science, come on, but it was more fun to argue and watch Tobio sputter.

Soon, they were seated, and ordering gourmet guacamole, deciding on entrees for dinner. Tobio got the smoked pork cheeks, and Shouyou got duck carnitas.

It was the best fucking restaurant meal he ever had in his entire fucking life. He still held up his dinner party as number one, because Tobio made that for him.

But fuck, this dinner, this dinner was transcendent. Each mouthful brought him to near tears, and even though he didn’t want to give up even a bite, he let Tobio had a taste so he could try some of his. And fuck, that was good too.

They were going to have to come back tomorrow.

“Do you want dessert?” Tobio asked, as he gazed at the pile of empty plates between them.

“Too full,” Shouyou sighed, rubbing his belly. Tobio smirked. “What’s that look for?”

“Too bad you’re too full,” Tobio said. “I had a great idea for dessert.”

Shouyou’s eyes lit up. “Oh yeah? Where?”

“Back at the hotel,” Tobio said.

“Did you buy some treats or something? When? When we were out?” Tobio raised a single eyebrow. “Is it chocolate—ahhhhh, I get it,” Shouyou laughed. “Very smooth, Tobio.”

Tobio leaned over and kissed him gently. Shouyou hummed into the kiss. Yeah, he could go for some dessert.

----------

They had to get up early the next morning, for their next adventure.

“Why am I getting up at 6am on vacation?” Shouyou whined, as he pulled on his seatbelt.

Tobio scoffed. “This, coming from the man who was up with the sunrise not two days ago.”

“Where are we going, Tobiohhhhh?” Shouyou whined.

“I’d say it’s a surprise but you’re definitely going to figure it out after the first hour.”

They pulled onto 89A, headed back to Flagstaff. Fifteen minutes in, they passed Slide Rock again and Shouyou smiled in recognition. They listened to music as they drove, silent in their appreciation once again of the trees and the surroundings. After almost an hour on Interstate 40, they turned off onto Highway 64. Toward the Grand Canyon.

“Tobio,” Shouyou said.

“Yeah?”

“We goin’ to the Grand Canyon?” Shouyou asked. Tobio smiled in response. He could feel Shouyou jumping in the seat next to him. “The Grand fucking Canyon?”

“The Grandest of Canyons,” Tobio replied.

Gurandokyanion,” Shouyou answered, in his best Japanese accent.

“El Gran Cañon.”

“You speak Spanish?” Shouyou asked, impressed.

“Only a few things. I took it in high school, remember?” Tobio smiled, remembering their conversations about each year of their lives.

“I remember.” Shouyou paused a moment. “Grandy Candy.”

“One Canyon, size Grande.”

Fifteen minutes later, they were all out of things to call the Grand Canyon, and still 45 minutes away. Tobio looked around. As picturesque as Arizona was, this part of the drive was nothing but flat and boring landscape for miles. He looked over at Shouyou, who was shaking his foot unconsciously and humming along with the music on the radio. Shouyou felt his gaze and turned to look at him. Tobio looked back out at the road.

“Whatcha lookin’ at?” Shouyou asked curiously.

“You,” Tobio answered honestly.

“Why?”

“Just thinking.”

“About wha-at?” Shouyou asked, an amused lilt to his voice.

“About how much I love you.”

Gwaaaah, Tobio!” Shouyou yelled. “You can’t just say something like that when we’re in the car,” he added.

Tobio frowned. “What’s wrong with telling you I love you while we’re driving? I want to tell you how much I love you all the time.”

“Pull over,” Shouyou demanded.

Tobio looked at him, alarm written on his face. “What?”

“Pull over, Tobio!” Shouyou hollered.

Tobio pulled over. There were hardly any cars on the road, and there was a shoulder, but still, it was a two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. He put the car into park. What was wrong?

He turned to ask Shouyou what the problem seemed to be, but Shouyou had launched himself over the center console. Now he was in Tobio’s lap, kissing him passionately.

“You—can’t—just—say—things—like—that,” he said, in between kisses. He pushed their foreheads together. “You make me love you too hard that way.”

“Maybe that’s what I want,” Tobio whispered, looking into his face, hoping his eyes weren’t crossed, trying to see something so close up. Shouyou kissed him one last time, pressing into his body, grinding down with his hips. Tobio’s hands flew off the steering wheel, and onto Shouyou’s ass. Fuck, he always felt so good.

Then a car drove past them and Tobio remembered, he was in the car, he was going to the Grand Canyon, and they could pick this up where they left off, later.

“Shou—”

“I know, I know,” Shouyou sighed, giving Tobio one last peck, and moving off his lap to climb back into his own chair.

“Later?” Tobio asked, as he put the car back into drive, and sped back onto the highway.

“Later,” Shouyou agreed.

When they got to the visitor’s center parking lot, Shouyou was back to shaking with excitement.  He bounced out of the car, jumping around in happiness.

“Where to, Tobio?” he asked, looking at the map.

“Hopi Point is supposed to be beautiful,” Tobio said.

“Looks like a heck of a walk,” Shouyou said, tracing the line with his finger. “There’s a bus, though.”

“We’re not walking or bussing.”

“Is bussing a word, Tobio is it bussin’ though? Hey, where are you going?” Shouyou asked, following after Tobio, was headed to the left of the Visitor’s Center. The place where all the bikes were lined up.

“Biking?” Shouyou screeched, as Tobio rented them two bikes. “Oh my God, Tobio, what a fucking adventure. How far are we going to go?”

Shouyou was skipping all around his bike. Tobio smiled and took a picture. He was too cute.

Tobio had planned out the route. They’d head to Hopi point, stopping at Grand Canyon Village to get lunch, since it was about halfway. The second part of the bike ride had a bit of elevation, but they were both in pretty good shape. He pocketed his map and was about to mount his bike.

“Are we going to go look at the view?” Shouyou asked, looking in the direction of the canyon rim.

“When we get to Hopi point, there’s a scenic overview,” Tobio said. Shouyou chewed his lip. “What?”

“I’d like to see it first,” he said, pointing at his map. “We can ride over to the South Kaibab Trailhead here, first, couldn’t we? It’s not that far.” Tobio looked at the map as well. This part of the bike path was right on the rim. It would probably be beautiful. Sure, it would add to their ride, but it was a great idea to start with a beautiful view. It was the Grand Canyon. He willfully ignored the small print on the map that said “not to scale.” How far could it be?

“Okay, Shou,” he said, hopping on his bike and pedaling toward the east. “Race you.”

Did he know he was going to add two miles, one way, to their bike ride, when he agreed to the detour? No. Was the ride easy? Definitely. The trail was level, the path was paved. Was the view worth it? Absolutely.

“Wow,” Shouyou breathed, looking out at the rocks, painted in golden sunshine. “It doesn’t even look real,” he said.

The Grand Canyon, layers in horizontal stripes, revealing the different rock types, stretching for miles. It was breathtaking.

“It’s beautiful,” Tobio sighed. They stood there, hand in hand, gazing out over the landscape. Tobio looked over and Shouyou had tears in his eyes.

“Charlotte would love this,” Shouyou said quietly. “I hate that she’s not here.”

Tobio wanted to make Shouyou feel better. “Well, according to my research, little kids don’t really find the Grand Canyon that interesting,” he said. “Older kids like the science and nature exhibits, but the younger ones, not so much.”

Shouyou nodded. He pointed over at a couple who had gone around a retaining fence and were sitting on a rock very close to the rim to get a selfie.

“And I would be terrified of that,” he said. “She might want to try to get close to the edge or something.”

“About twenty people die a year that way,” Tobio said, wincing once he realized how morbid he sounded. “We’d never let her do that, though,” he added quickly.

“Okay, Tobio. Too far, but okay.” Shouyou wiped his eyes with his sleeve. “Let’s get our bike on,” he declared, a smile back on his face.

A couple of hours and a lot of sweat later, they were both ready for a lunch break. They got sandwiches and extra water bottles at the deli at the Grand Canyon Village’s General Store, and ate them at a table outside under an umbrella. Tobio’s legs were already sore and his hips ached from sitting on the bike. Shouyou was unfazed, and he ate his sandwich quickly, raving about the view and begging for ice cream.

Tobio rolled his eyes. “You’re not a kid, Shouyou,” he said. “You can get whatever you want.” Shouyou perked up at the realization, and ran to pick out ice creams for each of them.

They sat at their table side by side, looking at the wide expanse of the Grand Canyon, enjoying their ice cream. Enjoying each other.

An hour later, they were back on the bikes, and Tobio was decidedly not enjoying the elevation of the path they were taking.

There wasn’t even a bike path at this part of the park. They were pedaling along the same route the buses took, a plain asphalt road that didn’t have any nice views. It was much steeper than he thought it would be. At one point he had to get off the bike and walk. Shouyou just stood on the pedals and put his ass to work. It was hard for Tobio to admit Shouyou might be in better shape than him.

It was nice to watch though. Tobio had never been so excited to see Shouyou in shorts. Shouyou’s thighs were shaking with the effort, and every muscle in his legs was outlined. Tobio watched a bead of sweat roll down his leg. Tobio would have gotten a hard on if he had blood to spare. Unfortunately all his blood was pooling in his leg muscles, and they fucking hurt.

They had to stop halfway between the village and Hopi point to drink some of their water, which was already running low.

“The Grand Canyon,” Tobio panted.

“The Grand Fucking Canyon,” Shouyou agreed, gulping the water.

“I underestimated it,” Tobio said.

We underestimated it,” Shouyou agreed. “It’s the Grand Fucking Canyon, and we underestimated it.” He threw his head back and laughed. Tobio joined him, and they laughed in their pain. They laughed to keep from crying.

Tobio loved this man so much his heart hurt. But not as much as his legs did. He kissed Shouyou’s mouth, tasting the salt on his lips.

“Let’s get to Hopi point,” Shouyou said, watching a bus pass them on the road. “We can take the bus back to the beginning, look, there’s a bike rack on the front.”

That sounded fucking brilliant to Tobio. Shouyou should have been in charge of this expedition, maybe. He tried to hop back on the bike, but it was more of a limp.

An hour later, panting and aching, they reached Hopi Point.

Tobio wanted to say that he couldn’t tell the difference, between this scenic overlook and the one from lunch, or the one at the beginning of this godforsaken day. But it would be a lie. Hopi Point was the most beautiful view of them all. The rocks seemed a different color, the surrounding vegetation less brown, more vibrant. He still liked the red rocks of Sedona better, but he could appreciate the beauty of the huge hole in the ground.

He turned to Shouyou, who was staring out at the view. “Is it worth it?” he asked curiously.

Shouyou shrugged. “It’s beautiful, but I can’t feel my ass bones anymore. I don’t know if that’s a fair trade.”

Tobio scoffed. “Your ass doesn’t have any bones, it’s a muscle.”

Shouyou rolled his eyes. “Not talking about here,” he said, slapping himself in his round butt. “Like, under?” he made a motion to the area between his dick and his ass, on both sides of his upper inner thighs. “The bones that sit on the bike seat. Like, I’m going to have bruises there, I swear.”

Tobio understood. He felt the same way. He wrapped his arm around Shouyou’s shoulders and felt his boyfriend lean into him.  He looked down at his tangerine and smiled. He looked out over the striped rocks, done up in shades of tan, burnt umber, and stony gray.

“When I look out at all this, I feel so small,” Tobio said.

“I feel small all the time,” Shouyou murmured. He looked up to meet Tobio’s eyes with a smile Tobio returned.

“I’m glad I’m here with you,” Tobio whispered, pressing their lips together.

“Me, too,” Shouyou said with a sigh, after they separated.

They stood for a moment in the beautiful silence, the late afternoon glow surrounding them.

“Sunsets here are supposed to be beautiful,” Tobio began. “But I really want to go back now.”

“Oh, thank God,” Shouyou said. “Can we please take the bus back to the car? And fill up our water bottles at the Visitor’s Center? I’m so thirsty.”

Holding his boyfriend’s hand, Tobio hobbled away from the vista and rolled his bike over to the bus stop. They waited seven minutes for the next shuttle, and gratefully clambered aboard, after securing their bikes to the rack on the front.

The ride back to the car was peaceful. So peaceful, in fact, that the two of them started nodding off. Tobio got a coffee when they returned the bikes. They couldn’t both fall asleep in the car.

On the way, Shouyou called Charlotte to tell her all about the Grand Canyon, which, combined with the caffeine, kept Tobio entertained and awake.

They decided on takeout pizza for dinner, and Shouyou called in their order when they were thirty minutes from Sedona.  They picked up their pizza and made it back to the hotel room.

“I gotta shower first,” Tobio said, as Shouyou started wolfing down the food, sitting on the hotel room floor. “I feel so grimy.”

“I’ll go next,” Shouyou said, around a mouthful of cheesy goodness. “I can’t even offer to shower with you. My flirtatiousness switch has been turned off for the evening.”

Tobio waved a hand over his shoulder as he stumbled to the bathroom. He stripped quickly and the hot shower was soothing and cleansing. By the time he came out, he felt a lot better.

Shouyou was still on the rug, eyes half closed, leaned up against the foot of the bed, his legs splayed and the pizza box between them. He was holding a piece of pizza in his hand that was in very real danger of falling to the floor next to him.

“Shou?” Tobio asked, and Shouyou startled at the sound. Tobio took the piece of pizza from his hand and put it on the lid of the box.

Shouyou got to his feet unsteadily and lumbered into the bathroom. Tobio heard the shower turn on and he didn’t hear a loud thump so he assumed Shouyou had made it okay. Tobio had some of the pizza. It was delicious. There was something especially satisfying about a delicious meal after a long, hard, sweaty day in the sun.

By the time Shouyou had come out of the shower, Tobio had already eaten three pieces of pizza and drunk an entire bottle of water.

Shouyou did not look like he was going to be conscious for much longer.  He went over to the bed and fell face first into the pillows.

“Are you gonna brush and floss?”

“Already did,” Shouyou mumbled into the pillow.

“Did you eat enough?” Tobio asked. Shouyou made a noise into the pillow. Tobio sighed, and got up from the floor with considerable effort. He went to the head of the bed to repeat his question, but Shouyou was already snoring softly. Tobio let out a tch, but there was no malice. Only fondness.

He went to clean his teeth. He looked a bit sunburned, even though he had lathered up in SPF one million before they started their bike ride. Damnit.

Back in the bedroom, he put the pizza box on the dresser, and slipped into the covers. He wasn’t ready to sleep quite yet, even though his whole body hurt. He picked his phone off the nightstand and looked through the photos they had taken that day. He swiped through the landscapes and selfies of the two of them.

He looked at a picture he had secretly taken of Shouyou, when he was looking out at the rocks, the sun shining through his hair, making him look like he was on fire. His skin glowed pink with the light and excitement, and he was so full of life. Beautiful.

Tobio looked over at the real-life version of the beautiful picture. In real life, this Shouyou wasn’t ethereal, painted by the sun’s rays. He was softly snoring, mouth open.

He was so much more beautiful than any picture.

Tobio put his phone back, curled up on his side, wrapped his arms around the man he loved, as tightly as he could without waking him up. He listened to Shouyou’s deep and even breathing and followed him into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

The hotel provided breakfast, but Tobio said there was a place he wanted to try that had great reviews. Shouyou didn’t care as long as they didn’t have to ride a bike there.

Even though he had slept thoroughly the night before, his eyes were still half closed, and he was barely able to engage in conversation. Omelets were delicious, yes. Four kinds of Eggs Benedict, wow.

He didn’t really wake up until the three-pound Giant Cinnamon Roll was delivered to their table.

“What even in the fuck is this?” Shouyou gasped, blinking in awe.

“I asked if it was weird to order an appetizer for breakfast,” Tobio said, pulling out his fork and knife. “You were staring off into the distance at that point. Do you want to see the picture I took of you?” He put down his cutlery to pull it up on his phone.

Shouyou glanced at the image. Dude, he had to wake up, he looked like a zombie. He slapped himself on both his cheeks. Tobio put his phone away and cut a chunk off the cinnamon roll.

“Can I have some, too?” Shouyou asked, but Tobio was already holding the bite out for him to try. Shouyou ate the small slice of heaven off the fork. His eyes rolled back into his head as the flaky, buttery pastry dissolved in his mouth.

Tobio smirked. “You think I can eat an entire three pounds of cinnamon roll by myself? Of course, you can have some.” Shouyou picked up his fork with a greedy grin on his face. “But don’t forget, we ordered our breakfasts, too. Don’t fill up on pastry.”

Shouyou held up a hand like he was testifying in court. “I promise.” He was absolutely going to eat this entire cinnamon roll.

He was halfway through the massive carb explosion when his blue corn huevos rancheros arrived and he had to take a break. It could be an appetizer and a dessert. Why not?

“More big plans today, Tobio?” Shouyou asked around a mouthful of eggs, as he watched his boyfriend devour his three-meat omelet. He wasn’t sure he could handle any more plans. Or activities. Or much of anything beyond laying around.

“Today is a recovery day,” Tobio said. “I have plans, but they’re all recovery plans.”

“Recovery day?” Shouyou asked. This was new. He’d been working out for years and had never taken a day off. Maybe he’d only done one class instead of two, or maybe he’d gone for a run instead, but a recovery day?

“Taking time off is just as important as training,” Tobio said. “Rest days allow your body to get stronger.”

“You mean I’m not supposed to just keep pushing myself until I fall apart?” Shouyou replied sarcastically.

“No, Shou,” Tobio said, eyes furrowing in concern. “That’s really dangerous.” Shouyou tried to laugh it off but Tobio’s eyes were so intense the guffaw died in his throat. “You should take care of yourself,” he added, in a mumble, returning his gaze to his breakfast.

Shouyou thought about it. Take care of himself? He chewed his beans as he considered the novel option. Ever since Charlie was born, she had been priority one. Even at the cost of his own mental or physical health. He had fallen sick more than once after being run ragged by his endless responsibilities.

Before Charlotte, keeping Lysia happy had always been his objective. And before her, Natsu, his parents. He had never tried to take care of himself. What was that even like?

He finished his actual breakfast and looked back at the cinnamon roll, mocking him with its squat stance. You win this round, cinnamon roll.

“Can we get a to-go box, for my friend here?” Shouyou asked the server, as they came by to check in on them.

He looked over at Tobio. “Mid afternoon snack.”

Tobio half-smiled. “I don’t know how you could possibly get hungry later. This meal is going to last me until dinner for sure.”

“Dinner?” Shouyou asked with anticipation. “We’re going back to Elote, right? I want to order the actual elote this time.”

“Already thinking about dinner?” Tobio chuckled. “How is that possible?”

“How?” Shouyou got up from his side of the booth, sliding in next to Tobio so he could rub his head into his shoulder. “I’m eating the most delicious food of my life here. I’m always excited about food.” He patted his stomach. “I’m just glad you’re keeping me so busy, otherwise I’d get a fat ass.”

Tobio leaned down to whisper in his ear. “I love your fat ass,” he murmured, and Shouyou felt a chill up his back and into his shoulders. His eyes twinkled.

“I know you do,” he agreed, running his fingers down the inseam of Tobio’s jeans, underneath the table. He felt his boyfriend’s dick stir with the motion.

But then the server was back with the box, and picking up the check, and they were about to leave and Tobio seemed uninterested in standing up with a hard on, so Shouyou left him alone. He could jump his bones later.

On their way to the car, they both agreed that they were too full, and a post-breakfast stroll would do them good.  They had driven past a shop earlier whose exterior was covered in metal sculptures, so they went to check the place out and spent 45 minutes lazily wandering the wares, taking pictures with a giant rusted Tyrannosaurus, and walking off their breakfast without pushing their very sore muscles.

Then it was nearly noon, and Tobio said they had an appointment. Shouyou was intrigued, but his boyfriend wasn’t revealing his hand.

Shouyou had an idea when they pulled up in front of the Sedona Day Spa. They checked in, and Shouyou heard the words “couple's massage,” and fell in love with Tobio a little bit more.

They started out with a glass of champagne each, and a soak in a hot tub that had been decorated with flower petals. Tobio seemed wary of getting into the hot tub with the drink, but the masseuse insisted one drink wouldn’t be dangerous.

Once they got out of the tub, they were both feeling warm and relaxed. Wrapped in their fluffy white robes, they made their way into the massage room, dimly lit and smelling of eucalyptus and rosemary. There was a soothing song playing on a speaker in the corner.

The two massage therapists led them each onto a table, where they lay face down, naked under the warm blankets. The masseuse asked what kind of pressure Shouyou liked, and he honestly didn’t know, as this was the first time he had ever had a professional massage. He told her to go as hard as she could, and if it was too much, he’d let her know.

She was stronger than she looked.

Ten minutes into the pummeling, he had left his mind and body behind, and existed as only a cloud of warm vapor hovering above the earth. It hurt so good. All the pain of the bike was forgotten as the massage went on.

By the end, he was no longer a man named Shouyou Hinata, he was a transcendent being that didn’t even know what names were or what they were for.

Tobio was talking to him but all Shouyou could do was look at him with a goofy smile. Tobio just sighed fondly and led him to the car.

By the time they were back in the hotel room, Shouyou was still drifting. He wasn’t sleepy, he wasn’t anything. He just was.

Tobio led him to the bed, where he laid him down gently. Shouyou raised his eyebrows in interest. He wasn’t even horny, that’s how far gone he was. But he was interested in what Tobio was up to.

He was being lathered in some sort of cream, which went on smoothly after the oils the masseuse had put all over when she rubbed him. He almost giggled as Tobio’s hands went over his calves. After all his exposed skin was covered in the lotion, Shouyou lay there, breathing easily, head to the side, watching Tobio cover himself in the lotion too. He had to put less on, since he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt. The long sleeves protected him from the sun, but also covered his arms, which Shouyou knew made him feel more comfortable. Shouyou smiled at the sight of his boyfriend rubbing lotion over his strong legs. Maybe he was a little horny.

Tobio saw him looking at him with interest, and smirked. “Waking up?” he said, bringing a bottle of water to the bed and helping Shouyou sit up. “Drink this whole bottle. It’s important to stay hydrated after a massage.”

Shouyou didn’t feel like arguing, or like having a conversation at all. He drank the bottle of water as Tobio got up from the bed and got two towels. Tobio refilled the bottle and picked up his own. He helped Shouyou off the bed and out of the room.

They walked outside their room, down toward the creek that they could see from their balcony. The ground was uneven, so they took their time. Shouyou was thankful, the last thing he needed in his relaxed state was to eat shit. That would definitely ruin his vibe.

At last, they arrived at their destination. It was a hammock facing the view, big enough for two people. Tobio helped him get in, and Shouyou sighed as the hammock gently swayed. Tobio got in next to him gently, making a pillow out of the towels behind his head. Shouyou didn’t need a pillow, he rested his head on his boyfriend’s chest instead, listening to the sound of his heartbeat, a loud even pulse over the background of the creek’s running water.

“I saw this picture online of the hammock, with the creek and the rocks, and I thought, ‘I want to go to there,’” Tobio said softly, petting Shouyou’s hair. “I wanted to lay here with you,” he added, pressing a kiss into the top of his head. Shouyou was so relaxed he might just melt.

“I love it here,” Shouyou murmured in reply. “I love being here with you. I love you.” He sighed happily, as he swung from side to side.

“I love you too, Shou,” Tobio said, and Shouyou drifted along on the sounds of the creek and the heartbeat of his love.

----------

Tobio made sure they got up with enough time to make it to dinner. Their second visit to Elote was just as good as the first, and by the time they had finished their corn cake dessert, they were both full and sleepy, a definite trend for the two of them at this point. They headed back to their hotel room.

Tobio unlocked the door, and as they stepped inside he asked, “are you going to go to bed early tonight again?”

Shouyou’s answer was to press him against the closed door with a passionate kiss.  Tobio moaned into his mouth as he walked him backward to the bed. He felt Shouyou’s legs hit the mattress, and he pushed him gently, so he fell onto his back. Tobio followed him, crawling up his body and removing his shirt. Shouyou kept kissing him, rubbing his hands over the newly revealed skin of Tobio’s back. Tobio moved his hands to the hem of Shouyou’s shirt, and took a break from tasting Shouyou’s tongue to lift it over his head.

Then he lowered his mouth to Shouyou’s neck, relishing the noises Shouyou made as he kissed bruises into his collarbone, thumbs skating over his nipples. Tobio wrapped his lips around the closest barbell, licking and biting it as he unbuttoned Shouyou’s pants. He put his hands under his waistband as he moved to the other nipple.

“Oh fuck, oh Tobio,” Shouyou moaned, writhing on the mattress.

That was all the go-ahead Tobio needed to wrap his hand around Shouyou’s dick, as he pulled his pants down with the other. Now his boyfriend was naked and hardening in his grasp. Tobio’s mouth watered as he stroked Shouyou’s length.

Shouyou shifted to his side so he could face him. Tobio popped his lips off the nipple he was currently abusing to go back to licking into his mouth. Shouyou palmed him through the fabric of his pants, and once he felt how hard Tobio was straining against his zipper, he unbuttoned him quickly. Tobio moaned in reaction as his thick cock was set free, and Shouyou wrapped his hand around him.

“I wanna fuck you,” Shouyou said, and Tobio nodded. He wanted that dick in him so bad. He reached onto the nightstand and grabbed the condoms and lube.

“Can I suck your dick while I get myself ready?” Tobio asked, already moving down on the bed.

“You shouldn’t have to do all the work,” Shouyou smiled. “Come here,” he said.

He maneuvered Tobio so he was on all fours, his knees on either side of his head, his dick hanging over Shouyou’s mouth. Tobio sank his lips down onto the tip of Shouyou’s cock as he heard the click of the lube opening. Shouyou’s tongue surrounded Tobio’s dick as his finger pushed inside him. Tobio hummed around Shouyou’s cock and relaxed into the intrusion, helped along by Shouyou’s mouth taking his thick dick into his throat. Shouyou was able to add a second finger quickly, pumping in and out as Tobio bobbed his head, their muffled moans echoing each other.

Tobio loved suffocating on Shouyou’s cock, especially as he was being fingered open. It felt like he was being dominated in two ways simultaneously. He felt a third finger inside him so he took Shouyou even deeper, swallowing around the tip. He felt Shouyou’s hips start to stutter, and Shouyou’s mouth popped off his dick.

“You’re too good, Tobio,” Shouyou gasped. “If you want me to fuck you, you’d better stop it.”

Tobio slid his mouth off Shouyou’s cock reluctantly. He wanted it inside him too bad.

“How do you want me?” Tobio asked, as he crawled off Shouyou’s body, turning himself around so they were face to face again, pressing their mouths together. He grabbed a condom and rolled it onto Shouyou’s dick.

“Ride me?” Shouyou gasped, between kisses.

Tobio shook his head. “Too sore from the fucking bike.” He went back to sucking on Shouyou’s bottom lip. “You on top?”

Shouyou moaned, out of arousal but also frustration. “I’m sore, too,” he said, in a near whine. “I want to lay down.” Tobio huffed a laugh. Who didn’t want to just lay there? That sounded amazing.

“You can lay down,” Tobio said, coming up with a good idea. He faced away from Shouyou, his back to his lover’s chest, like they were spooning, and Shouyou was the big spoon. Tobio smirked and raised his right leg to his chest.

The smile fell off his face as Shouyou slipped his dick inside him, slowly. The smirk was replaced by an expression of pure relaxation and pleasure.

“Fuck, you feel so good,” Shouyou said, as he bottomed out, grabbing Tobio’s leg, and throwing it over his arm, moving even further inside him. He took a few deep breaths until he relaxed around Shouyou’s cock.

“You too, Shou,” Tobio gasped. “Fuck me,” he added, and then Shouyou started to do exactly that.

Shouyou’s pace was slow, at first, but the thrusts were deep. Tobio threw his head back, and Shouyou mashed their mouths together, kissing him deeply as he thrust inside him. And they both got to lay down. This was Tobio’s new favorite position.

“Good, so good, Tobio,” Shouyou was muttering as he pumped his hips. “Fuck, you take me so well.”

Tobio’s answer was a whine. Shouyou picked up his speed and intensity, and soon Tobio was bouncing his ass on Shouyou’s dick, head lolled back, moaning loudly to the ceiling as Shouyou had his way with him.

“Wrap your leg around my waist,” Shouyou demanded, pushing his leg back with his hand. Tobio followed instructions, the new angle putting him more on his back, opening himself up wider. Shouyou’s fingers went into Tobio’s mouth, pressing on his tongue. Tobio groaned and sucked on the digits, drooling all over them as Shouyou fucked into him.

Shouyou removed his wet fingers and wrapped his fist around Tobio’s cock. Tobio nearly screamed as Shouyou began stroking him at the same pace he was fucking him.

“Close, Shou, oh fuck,” Tobio cried out, as Shouyou bit into his shoulder. “Fuck me, make me come—ah—”

He spurted thick white gobs over Shouyou’s fist, and Shouyou didn’t stop fucking him.

“I’m almost there, Tobio, keep being so good for me,” Shouyou panted, and Tobio moved his leg back to his chest, squeezing his thighs together, tightening up his muscles, sucking Shouyou in as best as he could, as he finished riding out the waves of his own orgasm. “Nh, are you ready for me—fuck—" Shouyou was gasping, and then Tobio could feel him shaking all over as he came.

“Yes, Shouyou, yes,” Tobio whispered, as he milked the last of the cum out of his lover’s dick. Shouyou was rubbing his sweaty forehead onto Tobio’s shoulder. He wrapped his arm around Tobio’s waist and Tobio pulled him closer, so they were right up against each other. They both caught their breath as they basked in the afterglow. Tobio felt Shouyou slip out of him, but he was so relaxed he didn’t mind the loss. They lay in silence for a few minutes.

“You’re perfect, you know that?” Shouyou said, out of nowhere. Tobio frowned slightly, but he lacked the muscle control to really follow through with the grimace. He had thought of himself in many ways. Perfect was absolutely not one of them. Shouyou rubbed his arm, before bringing his hand up to his hair. He ran his fingers through the strands and Tobio purred, frown releasing, eyes closing.

“I don’t—perfect is a lot, Shou,” Tobio replied.

“Fine,” Shouyou said. “How about perfect to me? Perfect for me? Would that be okay?”

He kissed Tobio’s neck, gently tonguing the bruise he had left earlier. Tobio shuddered in pleasure.

“That works,” Tobio whispered.

----------

Their last full day in their desert paradise began with the trail run Tobio said he had been looking forward to since he booked this vacation.

It was fairly level, a loop around Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. The skies were clear and it was early enough that it wasn’t too hot. There weren’t many people on the trail, so they were able to run side by side.

The red rocks surrounded them, and the sound of their breathing was joined in harmony by the buzz of insects in the trees. The smell of baked stone and desert sage filled the morning breeze, and Shouyou drank deep gulps of the air, as if he could somehow keep the scent in his lungs that way.

By the time they finished the five-mile loop, they were sweaty but energized. Shouyou knew they had one last activity planned, but it wasn’t until that night, so they had the rest of the day free. They headed back to the room to shower, before they hit the town one last time.

The shower turned into an hour of sex, and then another shower. Then they went to wander Tlaquepaque Plaza, a collection of shops and galleries, housed in a small Spanish style-inspired village.

They walked around for a couple of hours but only purchased a few things. In an artisanal toy shop they bought a new game to play with Charlotte. In an outdoors shop, Tobio tried on a leather cowboy hat as a joke, but Shouyou insisted he buy it after he saw him in it. The man looked fucking amazing. Tobio then insisted Shouyou needed something, too, so he bought him a handmade leather satchel to replace the well-worn nylon one he had been carting his school things around in for years. Shouyou said it was too much money, but Tobio explained that he hadn’t had anyone or anything to spend his salary on for years besides his rent, and it made him happy to make Shouyou happy. Shouyou was happy. Tobio was fucking perfect, no matter how the man insisted otherwise.

Shouyou called Charlie while they sat on a bench and took a break, overlooking a small garden, the red rocks in the background. Shouyou leaned against Tobio, as his lover stroked his hair, listening to Charlotte tell him about the goldfish she had eaten with lunch.

They ended up eating an early dinner at a fancy French restaurant inside the plaza. It was maybe a bit too uptight for their tastes, but the rack of lamb Shouyou ordered was excellent.

Tobio said he had one last plan for their trip to Sedona, but they had a couple hours to kill. When Shouyou found out that their plans started at 9pm, his interest was piqued, but he told Tobio he was all in, his itinerary had been impeccable so far.

They ended up back at the hotel room while they figured out what to do.

“Do you want to try the hot tub again?” Shouyou asked, after they gotten inside. “Last chance, we leave tomorrow.”

Tobio answered by kissing him. Shouyou hummed happily into his boyfriend’s mouth, returning the kiss, tilting his head, letting his tongue run along Tobio’s teeth.

Tobio unbuttoned his shirt, sliding it off his shoulders as he walked him to the bathroom. Shouyou watched him lift his shirt off his lean frame, and sit on the edge of the tub to start the water. While it filled, Shouyou straddled his lap, attacking Tobio with kisses, pressing his lips into his jaw and pulse point. Tobio fisted his hands into Shouyou’s hair and pulled his head back. Shouyou gasped as Tobio licked a line from his chest to his chin.

“Fuck, Tobio, that’s so good,” Shouyou moaned, eyes crossing in ecstasy. Tobio murmured in agreement, moving his tongue back down from his jaw, where he kissed a bruise into where his neck and shoulder met.

The tub was halfway filled, so Shouyou left Tobio’s lap to undo his pants and get completely naked. Tobio’s hand on his button stopped him. As Shouyou watched, Tobio sank to his knees, unbuttoning his pants with his fingers, but unzipping his pants with his teeth.  He nosed into the front of Shouyou’s underwear, rubbing his cheek against his straining dick. Shouyou watched him run his lips over his cock through the fabric and felt himself pulse, felt the wet spot on the fabric get even wetter.

Then Tobio’s tongue was out, and Shouyou watched him trace a line along his hard length, and fuck.

“Tobio, please,” Shouyou whispered, and Tobio continued his attention, but now he was keeping eye contact. That made it even hotter.

"Tobio, please," Shouyou begged, his hips moving towards Tobio’s face against his will, longing to bury his cock between those lips.

Tobio looked over and saw the tub was full. He reached over and turned off the knob. He hooked his thumbs into Shouyou’s waistband, and pulled the clothes off his lower half. A half second later his lips were enveloping Shouyou's dick in wet heat. 

Shouyou almost fell over at the sensation. Tobio grabbed the back of his thighs, steadying him, as he bobbed his head up and down. Shouyou ran his fingers into Tobio’s hair, thrusting into his mouth.

Tobio loved Shouyou’s taste so much, he was constantly practicing his oral skills.  He was quickly becoming an expert at giving head, and Shouyou was the grateful beneficiary.

“Tobio, ah, ah,” Shouyou moaned, and Tobio didn’t stop his furious pace. Shouyou knew what he wanted. He wasn’t going to hold back. 

“I’m gonna come,” he warned, and Tobio smirked. As much as he could around Shouyou’s thick cock. It was mostly visible in the way his eyes crinkled in satisfaction at a job well done.

And then he was coming quickly, spurting hot cum into Tobio’s needy mouth, shaking as Tobio sucked everything he could out of his slit, licking him clean like he was a delicious fucking dessert. Tobio pumped his dick a few times, making sure he had nothing left to give, before easing his mouth off gently and licking his lips.

“Hot tub time?” Tobio asked, stepping into the water and holding out a hand.

“But you—”

“Plenty of time for that later,” Tobio argued, as Shouyou followed him into the tub.

The water was a warm embrace, but Shouyou wanted more. Tobio arranged himself at the foot of the tub. Shouyou slotted himself between his legs, his back pressing against Tobio’s chest. He lay back on his own personal cushion and felt his head rest on Tobio’s shoulder.

“This is nice,” Shouyou murmured.

“The whole point is to sit against the jets, and get a massage,” Tobio said.

“I’d rather sit against you,” Shouyou said, relaxing into the feel of his boyfriend on his back, feeling Tobio’s strong arms wrap around his waist. “I love it here,” he said after a minute.

“It’s been an amazing trip,” Tobio said, rubbing his hands up and down Shouyou’s sides.

“I meant here here,” Shouyou said, rubbing the back of his hair into Tobio’s chest. “Being with you.”

“I like that, too,” Tobio mumbled, bringing his hands up Shouyou’s chest, splaying his fingers over Shouyou’s nipples. Shouyou closed his eyes, arching his back under the careful touch.

“Unh, Tobio,” Shouyou moaned. “S’good.”

“You like that,” Tobio said, pinching Shouyou’s nipples lightly.

“Yeah,” Shouyou said, swallowing, feeling Tobio pull on his barbells, using the warm water to rub wet circles on his areolas. “Fuck yeah.”

One of Tobio’s hands rubbed down Shouyou’s ribs to his hip, and made its way to his dick. Shouyou was already getting hard again, he couldn’t help it with all the nipple stroking. Tobio rubbed his fingertips lightly against his throbbing length.

“You like that, too,” Tobio said, thumbing over Shouyou’s slit in the warm water, making him keen. Shouyou nodded.

“You already sucked my cock,” Shouyou said, batting Tobio’s hand away, turning over to face him. “Let me take care of you a little.”

Tobio held his hands up, as if to say, “you win.” Shouyou was on his knees in between Tobio’s legs, and he leaned down to kiss him gently. At first. Their tongues moved together more and more erratically as Shouyou grabbed Tobio’s hair. Soon they were both moaning in each other’s mouths.

So much for a relaxing night in the hot tub.

Shouyou was writhing against his boyfriend, rutting both their dicks into each other, feeling the electricity that arced between them.

“Shou,” Tobio moaned, as Shouyou rubbed his hands all over his body. “I want you, so bad, please,” he begged.

“You wanna fuck me?” Shouyou asked, as he grabbed a new handful of Tobio’s hair. Tobio looked up at him with kiss swollen lips, eyes full of desperation. He nodded and Shouyou kissed him again.

“We’ll have to figure this out,” Shouyou said. They were in a hot tub after all.

“Check my pants pockets,” Tobio suggested, and as Shouyou leaned over the edge of the tub to reach for Tobio’s jeans, his ass ended up in the air.

And Tobio’s tongue was suddenly pressed against his asshole. Shouyou moaned, his voice echoing off the bathroom tiles, as Tobio licked him, lapping with a thick tongue against his entrance.

Shouyou found what he was looking for in Tobio’s pocket. Of course the fucker had condoms and lube. He wanted to get laid just as much as he did.

“Do you carry this around all the time?” Shouyou asked, his words emerging as a squeal as Tobio pressed his tongue inside him. Tobio hummed in agreement.

Shouyou tried to stand up, but Tobio’s firm hand kept him over the edge of the tub. Shouyou got comfortable, spreading his legs wider. He passed Tobio the lube.

Now there was a finger and a tongue inside him, and Shouyou was fucking shaking. He reached a hand behind himself to run his fingers through Tobio’s hair, encouraging him to lick him harder, deeper.

“More, please, Tobio, please,” Shouyou keened, and Tobio obliged, sticking a second finger in, keeping up his tonguing. Shouyou’s hips bucked as he rode Tobio’s fingers. He pulled Tobio’s hair and snaked his other hand underneath himself to stroke his hard dick.

Tobio added another finger and Shouyou was already close to finishing. “Nnnh, Tobio, please, I want to come on your dick,” he begged, and Tobio slipped his fingers out, standing up out of the water so he could line himself up with Shouyou, leaned over the side of the tub. Shouyou passed him the condom and watched him roll it on, watched him lube himself up. And then he was pressing inside him.

“Fuck, Shou, you’re so tight,” Tobio moaned, and Shouyou took in a deep, shuddering breath. He was barely ready to take Tobio’s dick, but he wanted it too bad to wait. Tobio reached his hand underneath him and found him touching himself. He wrapped his hand around Shouyou’s, intertwining their fingers so they could both jack him off slowly as Tobio bottomed out.

Tobio took his other hand and raised Shouyou’s left leg, tucking it over the edge of the tub, so it was on the other side. His leg was almost flush with his chest. “Is that okay?” Tobio murmured. Shouyou was flexible, used to Bokuto putting him in an Electric Chair during a BJJ roll. This was easier than that.

“Fuck, yes, Tobio, fuck me,” Shouyou gasped, and then Tobio was fucking him. His hips snapped his dick deep inside, and having his leg up by his chest made it feel so much more intense. Tobio thrust into his prostate every time and Shouyou was already close to coming.

“Take it, Shou, I can tell you fucking love it,” Tobio said, fucking into him wildly, bringing him to the edge.

“Close, nh, fuck!” Shouyou screamed, and then he was coming all over their joined hands. Tobio slowed down, slipping in and out of Shouyou slowly, while Shouyou writhed from the overstimulation.

“Do you want me to stop?” Tobio rumbled. Every thrust made Shouyou spasm against his will.  It felt too good, past good, like electricity, but Shouyou wanted Tobio to come. He decided he could handle it. He could keep going.

“No, I don’t want to stop,” Shouyou said, taking a gulp of air, trying to regain control of his body. “I want you to keep fucking me.” He answered Tobio’s gentle thrusts with a roll of his back and a buck of his hips. He started riding Tobio’s cock, his spine liquid as he undulated beneath him.

“Fuck, so good,” Tobio panted. “Don’t stop.”

Shouyou concentrated on popping his ass up and down, taking Tobio’s dick on a wild ride. He was determined to make Tobio come, determined to pay him back for the two orgasms he’d already given him. Every time Tobio rammed into his sweet spot he felt his body convulse. It was too much, it didn’t feel right. Until suddenly it did.

“Yes, Tobio, yes,” Shouyou shouted, as his body moved past discomfort right back through to pleasure again. “Touch me again,” he begged.

Tobio used the cum on his abs as lube to stroke his hardening cock. He could feel the pressure rising one more time.

“You love it,” Tobio said. “You gonna come again?”

Shouyou sobbed a “yes,” which seemed to encourage Tobio to fuck him even more fiercely.

“Come for me, Shouyou,” Tobio said, “I want to feel you, I want to come inside you. Give it to me.”

That was it, Shouyou’s whole body was shaking, and he dribbled his cum over Tobio’s fingers for the third time that night. He looked at his boyfriend over his shoulder. His fucked out eyes watched Tobio lick it off of his hand. And that’s when Shouyou felt Tobio let go, with a groan, felt his cock kick inside him. Shouyou slumped over the side of the tub, feeling Tobio fuck the last of his orgasm out of himself slowly. Then he was sliding out, discarding the condom over the side of the tub to be cleaned up later, and pulling Shouyou back into the warm water. He rubbed his hands up and down Shouyou’s back and arms, and over his sore legs and hips.

Shouyou rested his head back against his boyfriend, completely boneless.

“Do we have to go back out at nine?” he asked petulantly.

“I promise it’s cool,” Tobio answered, pressing a gentle kiss into his cheek. “But if you’re too tired, and want to stay here, we can do that instead.”

Shouyou sat up. “I’m not tired,” he squawked indignantly.

“Says the guy who has fallen asleep early every night we’ve been here,” Tobio scoffed.

“I’m relaxed!” Shouyou said, punching Tobio playfully. “It’s vacation!”

He laid back against Tobio’s chest, enjoying being held.

“See, you’re so relaxed, you’re gonna fall asleep in the hot tub,” Tobio teased.

Shouyou made like he was going to get up. “Then I’ll get out of the hot tub!” he yelled.

Tobio grabbed him by the waist and pulled him back in, and Shouyou’s foot slipped. He fell into the water completely. He came out completely soaked, like a wet puppy. Tobio took one look at him and burst out laughing.

So Shouyou grabbed him by the shoulders and hip tossed him into the water. Tobio came out of the water like an angry cat. He made a pissed off noise and Shouyou giggled.

“Was that a mrow?” Shouyou squealed, as Tobio grabbed him, and their relaxing soak turned into a splashfest.

----------

Tobio was glad Shouyou had found his second wind, so they could come out one last time.

He had bought them a stargazing tour. They were going to meet a group out in a field and look at the stars through high-powered telescopes. As soon as Shouyou heard he was going to see Saturn up close, he jumped in the air like his feet were made of springs. Tobio smiled.

It ended up being pretty educational, rather than romantic, but considering they had just had an hour of romance in the hot tub together, learning something was a good change of pace. 

After ninety minutes of astrological education, oohing and ahhing at galaxies, they were driving back to the hotel. Their last night of vacation. They had to say goodbye to Sedona in the morning and drive back to the airport. Shouyou seemed quiet, looking out the window at the darkened sky, admiring all the stars he couldn’t see back home.

“Did you have a nice trip?” Tobio asked gently, after a few silent minutes.

“It was so beautiful,” Shouyou sighed. “Thank you, Tobio. This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.”

Tobio patted his boyfriend’s knee with his right hand as he kept his eyes on the road. “I like doing nice things for you,” he said. He heard Shouyou sniffle. He looked over at him for a moment, alarmed. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m just… feeling guilty, I guess?” Shouyou said.

“Why?”

“I miss Charlotte so much,” Shouyou said. “I haven’t had a week away from her since winter break. When I don’t see her every day, I ache. But I had so much fun this week with you, I didn’t have time to miss her that much. I feel like a bad parent.”

Tobio rubbed comforting circles into Shouyou’s leg with his hand. “You called her every day, Shou. You are definitely not a bad parent,” he argued. “You’re allowed to have fun every once in a while, guilt free. Remember, everyone needs recovery days.”

Shouyou took a deep breath. “You’re right, of course,” he said. “I can’t help the way I feel, though.”

Tobio thought about it for a second. Shouyou was literally the most selfless and caring person he’d ever met. He simply wasn’t used to doing what he wanted, basically, ever.

“You just have to get used to it,” Tobio suggested.

“Used to what?”

“Used to having a good time. Used to having rest days. Used to not feeling guilty, you know?” Tobio hoped he wasn’t pushing it, sticking his nose into things he didn’t understand again.

Shouyou seemed to think about it for a minute. “Will you help me?” he asked quietly.

Tobio smiled. “It would be my pleasure.”

----------

They got up with the dawn so they could get one more hike in, before they had to leave. It was the last of Tobio’s options, the hard hike with the beautiful view.

This hike involved scrabbling up rocks, and they had to help each other climb the most difficult parts. The hike was uphill the entire way. Shouyou was glad they brought a lot of water.

At the top of Bear Mountain, ninety minutes later, they were rewarded with panoramic views in every direction. It took Shouyou’s breath away.

“I’m going to miss it here,” he said wistfully, looking out at the red rocks that had become his friends over the past week.

“Me too,” Tobio agreed, putting his arm around his shoulders. Shouyou turned, facing the man he loved, lifting up on his tiptoes to press their lips together.

There, at the top of the world, they held each other, in a delicate peace, at least for a moment.

A few hours later, they were back home. Being back in Seattle was strange.

Even flying back into Washington state was weird. Everything seemed gray, compared to the vivid reds and greens they had just finished spending a week in. Even the air smelled different. Not bad, just different.

They had taken an early flight back so Shouyou could pick up Charlotte before it got too late. Tobio agreed that they should go straight from the airport to Lysia’s, so they could take Charlotte home.

Tobio waited outside as Shouyou went up to his ex-wife’s apartment to get his daughter. He was excited to see his Charlie-bug again. A week was too long apart, even though they had talked on the phone every day.

He knocked on the door, and waited. Nobody answered. He knocked again. He checked his phone. It was 6pm, maybe they had gone out to dinner, or something?

He called Lysia. She answered on the second ring.

“What, Shouyou,” she said. It wasn’t a question.

Shouyou was still high on vacation happiness, so he didn’t let her faze him. “Hello, I’m at your apartment. We said I was picking Charlotte up today, so I’m here.”

“You said you were picking Charlotte up today,” she said, by way of a reply.

“Yes, I messaged you yesterday to remind you? I told you I would only be gone a week, when you said—when you decided Charlotte couldn’t come.” Shouyou replied. He was feeling pretty proud of himself. He wasn’t scared, he was standing up for himself. He was doing well.

You said you were picking Charlotte up today,” Lysia repeated. “I never agreed to that.”

Shouyou felt his stomach drop out of his body and onto the floor. “I’m sorry, what?”

“You know, Shouyou, when we divorced, I agreed to fifty percent custody,” Lysia stated.

“You’ve never taken Charlotte for more than every other weekend… sometimes a week here or there on her breaks,” Shouyou replied, once again blindsided, but now the confusion was tempered with the piercing terror of not knowing where his daughter was.

“You haven’t made it easy for me,” Lysia continued. “You’re always changing dates, making it so I don’t get to see my daughter. Foisting her off on me so you can go on romantic vacations.”

“We wanted to take her with us,” Shouyou hissed. “You said no.”

“You say no to me all the time,” Lysia sighed. “And I’m sick of you pushing me around. I’m keeping Charlotte for the rest of the summer. And I’m talking to a lawyer about my rights.”

A cold sweat broke out all over Shouyou’s body. “You can’t do this,” he whispered.

“Don’t be dramatic, dumbass, I’m not doing anything. I’m Charlotte’s parent, same as you.” He recognized that Lysia was finished with the call, she was dismissing him with her tone.

“I want to talk to Charlie,” Shouyou said, in a voice that broke.

“Sorry, she’s busy,” Lysia said.

“You can’t keep her from talking to me,” Shouyou said calmly. “That’s against the law.”

Lysia had the audacity to laugh in his ear, and then she hung up on him.

----------

Tobio was leaned against the car door, wondering if they were going to have to get dinner for Charlotte, or if she had already eaten, when he saw one Hinata head his way. Only one.

The look on Shouyou’s face hurt his heart. And then it terrified him.

“Shou, what’s wrong,” Tobio nearly yelled, as Shouyou grabbed both his arms, a wild look in his eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks. It seemed like he was trying to breathe but couldn’t. His chest and shoulders were heaving, but no air was going in or coming out. Shouyou was panicking and Tobio didn’t know what to do.

He called Kiyoko.

“Kiyo, Shouyou’s having a panic attack and I don’t know what to do,” Tobio screamed into the phone, as Shouyou started turning darker and darker colors. “He can’t breathe!”

“Put me on speaker,” she said. He did.

“Shouyou, I need you to inhale, two, three, four, and exhale, two, three, four. Tobio, do it with me. Shouyou, look at what Tobio is doing. Tobio, is he looking at you?”

Tobio watched dark bronze eyes stop darting from side to side and meet his own.

“Yes,” he said, and Kiyoko kept counting.

“Inhale, two, three, four, and exhale, two, three, four.” Tobio did what Kiyoko said, his breath loud, so she could hear that he was following instructions. She repeated the mantra a few more times. “Keep doing the breathing, Tobio. Shouyou, keep breathing with Tobio.”

Tobio kept looking into Shouyou’s eyes, kept watching the tears falling down. But at least now he was breathing, instead of turning purple.

“Shouyou,” Kiyoko continued. “Tobio is here for you. I’m here for you. We’re going to help you. You’re having a panic attack, but it won’t last forever. We’re going to stay with you. We’re not going anywhere, right Tobio?”

Tobio’s mouth was dry. “Never, Shou, I’ll never leave you,” he said. “I love you so much.” Then he went back to the breathing.

Shouyou was crying profoundly now, his chest hitching on every breath. “She—took—Charlotte,” he said, between gasps.

“Deep breathing,” Kiyoko said from the phone. “Not short breaths, long ones. Inhale, two, three, four, and exhale, two, three, four.”

Tobio went back to modeling the deep breathing until Shouyou followed his lead again.

“Lysia isn’t going to give me Charlotte,” he said hoarsely, once he had calmed down. He looked broken. There was nothing left of the bright-eyed man who had skipped up the stairs to get his baby girl back.

“Can she do that?” Tobio asked, blown away by the idea that someone could just steal a child.

“I don’t know,” Shouyou answered bitterly. “I’m not a lawyer.”

“So we need a lawyer,” Tobio said. “Kiyoko, do you know any lawyers?”

“I don’t,” Kiyoko said. “I can ask around.”

“Thank you, Kiyo,” Tobio said. “I’m going to go, sorry to call in a crisis.”

Kiyoko huffed a small laugh. “Tobio, every time you call me it’s a crisis.”

“I appreciate you answering the phone, knowing that,” he admitted, and she ended the call.

He dialed the only other friend he had.

“Suga,” he began. “Do you know any lawyers?”

Chapter Text

Shouyou had never been to a lawyer’s office before.

When he got divorced, he did all the paperwork himself by researching all the forms he needed online. He couldn’t even afford the court filing fee, Kenma had let him borrow the money. A gift, really. When Shouyou tried to pay it back Kenma didn’t let him.

He couldn’t afford a lawyer this time, either. He didn’t know what he was going to do. But Tobio told him not to worry about it, and frankly, Shouyou didn’t have the mental energy left to worry about it. He trusted Tobio would figure it out and Shouyou was along for the ride.

Going home from Lysia’s apartment without his daughter was the worst feeling he had ever experienced in his entire life. Tobio unpacked their vacation luggage from the car, only to find him sobbing into Charlotte’s tiny bed when he returned.

He didn’t shower, he didn’t take off his clothes. Tobio stayed the night and tried to calm him long enough so he could sleep. His rest was fitful at best.

Thank God, Tobio was friends with Suga. And Suga’s boyfriend was a cop who knew quite a few lawyers. Suga told them he had specifically looked for someone who had the best reputation in family court.

Well, technically, Suga said he had asked Daichi to “get him the biggest asshole he could find.”

So here they were, Monday morning, sitting in the law office of Kei Tsukishima.

Shouyou wasn’t expecting much. Hope was for idiots. He had lost Charlotte. What was the point in trying to fight? Lysia had been planning this for months. Grant told him back in December that they were talking to a lawyer. Shouyou was stuck playing catch up.

They were in the waiting room. Tobio was sitting next to him, holding his hand. He had called out of work for the day. Shouyou had tried to convince him that he didn’t need to be there, but Tobio said he was in no condition to drive, and the man had a point. Everything he looked at seemed blurry for some reason. Even now, as he looked around the waiting room.

“Waiting room” was generous. It was two chairs inside a leased office space in a larger building. The desk next to the two chairs was empty, and there was a small hallway behind it that led to two doors. Shouyou didn’t know why a man with such a fearsome reputation didn’t have a grander office, but that was already too much thinking before his brain reminded him that he had fucking lost his daughter and his tears threatened another appearance.

A dark-haired man with freckles came out of one of the doors in the hallway. “Shouyou Hinata?” he asked, with a smile. “Tsukki will see you now.”

“For fuck’s sake, Tadashi. Call me Mr. Tsukishima in front of clients, or at least Tsukishima,” Shouyou heard another voice mutter, as he and Tobio stood up to walk toward the door.

They could hear the dark-haired man, Tadashi, Shouyou assumed, say, “sorry Tsukki.” He didn’t sound sorry in the least.

They walked into the office. Two of the four walls were lined with law books. One had a window that looked out onto an alley. The fourth had the door that they had just come through.  Next to the door was a small stool, with a legal pad and pen sitting on it. Tadashi picked up the paper and pen and sat on the stool. The small room was dominated by a large desk, in front of which sat two client chairs. Behind the desk was a tall, thin, blonde man with glasses, who looked pissed that he had to talk to people. Reminded him of someone.

He looked over at Tobio, who was returning Tsukishima’s scowl with one of his own.

“Tadashi,” Tsukishima sighed. “You have a desk out front. Why are you sitting there?”

“Because I want to hear all about what’s going on,” Tadashi said, rolling his eyes. “It’s easier than you just telling me everything later.” Tsukishima took off his glasses and rubbed his hand across his face. Shouyou would have found the whole thing comical, if he had any reason to laugh ever again.

“We need to hire you,” Tobio said. Shouyou looked over at his boyfriend with blank eyes. Thank God Tobio was here, because Shouyou couldn’t put his ideas into words very easily.

Tsukishima put his glasses back on his nose. “For what, exactly?”

“To be a lawyer?” Tobio asked with a different frown on his face. Shouyou recognized it as the confused one.

Tsukishima let out a tch. “Obviously,” he spat. “What is the problem, I mean?”

Tobio looked over at Shouyou. Shouyou looked back at him, then turned his gaze to the lawyer. “My ex-wife took my daughter and won’t give her back.”

Tsukishima raised his eyebrows. “Kidnapped? Is she still in the area?” he reached for the phone on the corner of his desk. “Have you notified the authorities?”

“Not—not kidnapped,” Shouyou said, trying to explain, but words were hard. “She—” he could feel the tears threatening. He looked at Tobio for help.

“She says she has fifty percent custody,” Tobio said, tonelessly. “That she’s never actually exercised, ever, but now she is suddenly demanding her time. We went on vacation for a week, and she was only supposed to watch Charlotte for that week, but now she’s saying she’s keeping her until school starts, a month from now.”

“She has fifty percent custody according to what?” Tsukishima asked, and Tobio pulled out a copy of the Marital Settlement Agreement Shouyou had written up when he was finalizing his divorce.

“Oh, yay, paperwork,” Tadashi said, getting up from his stool to grab at the document. “Should I make a copy, Tsukki—Tsukishima?”

“You can have this one,” Tobio said. “We have it saved electronically, I printed this out for you.”

Shouyou looked at the paper in Tobio’s hand, and then at Tsukishima, and then at the floor. He let everyone’s words wash over and around him. He was a rock in a river. Thank God Tobio was here.

Tsukishima took the document before Tadashi could, with a pointed look that told the man to calm the fuck down. Tadashi saw the look and rolled his eyes. He went back to his stool like a class clown so used to punishment it didn’t faze him anymore.

Tsukishima looked through the document. “Where did this language come from?” he asked.

“I looked at examples online,” Shouyou said.

“No lawyer?”

“I couldn’t afford one.”

“And now?” Tsukishima raised an eyebrow. “I don’t work for free.”

Didn’t Shouyou know it. He watched the lawyer as he pulled out a contract from his desk and pushed it across the table. Shouyou looked at it dumbly, then closed his eyes and pictured his bank account balance. He was pretty sure he had a couple hundred dollars in savings, and about fifty bucks in checking. At least he got paid soon. But after rent and groceries there was hardly anything left. At least he wasn’t paying daycare anymore, now that Charlotte was in kindergarten. Charlotte—

I’m not going to start crying. I’m not.

Something was being pushed into his arm. Shouyou opened his eyes and looked over. It was a box of tissues. Tadashi was looking at him with a kind smile. Shouyou raised his hand to his cheek and it came away wet.

Guess I already started crying.

Tobio was looking over the document Tsukishima had put on the desk, the one Shouyou was probably supposed to look at, before Shouyou decided to close his eyes again and this time pretend none of this was happening to him.

“$3500 to start?” Tobio was asking. “Then $350 an hour?”

Shouyou didn’t have any of that. Numbness crept over his body, the sensation of cold, wet tears sliding down his cheeks the only thing he could feel.

“Billed monthly,” Tsukishima answered.

“How long do you think the case will take?” Tobio asked.

“Depends on how much the other side fights us,” Tsukishima said. “But from what I can see here,” he held up the Marital Settlement Agreement, “we’ve got a lot we can work with.”

“Do you take credit cards? Or do I need to write a check?” Tobio was asking, pulling out his wallet. Shouyou shot out his hand to stop him before this got any further.

“Tobio, you can’t—” he mumbled, on the brink of an entire mental breakdown.

“Shouyou, you can’t. I can,” Tobio said, shaking his hand off gently, and taking his card out of his wallet. Tadashi was suddenly at his side, taking the card and walking out of the room. Back to his desk to ring up the transaction, most likely.

“That’s very sweet of you, but unless you’re an adoptive parent, I’m going to need him to sign the contract,” Tsukishima said, putting a pen in front of Shouyou.

Shouyou signed with shaking hands. Tobio took his right one after Shouyou put the pen down, holding it in his left, soothing the back of his shaking hand by rubbing it with his thumb gently.

“Okay, great, I’m your attorney now, yay,” Tsukishima said dryly, as he held up the Marital Settlement Agreement. “Where is the section on child support?”

“I put it in there,” Shouyou said, pointing to a section toward the beginning. “I said I wouldn’t ask for any.”

“Why not, if you’re the custodial parent?” Tsukishima asked, taking notes on a separate legal pad.

“She wasn’t working when we divorced. Since Charlie was born, actually. I was afraid I would have to pay her alimony.” Shouyou couldn’t stand the idea of having to pay Lysia anything, after supporting her and all her bullshit for so long. Even after she started abusing him he had kept supporting her. He didn’t want to have to give her anything he hadn’t already.

“Alimony and support are different. You can’t just sign away child support. Is she working now?”

“I don’t know,” Shouyou wondered. “She says she’s keeping Charlotte for over a month, maybe she’s taking time off?”

“What does she do for work?” Tsukishima asked. Tadashi came back in with Tobio’s card, and a receipt for him to sign. Tobio took the offered pen and signed the paper, then put his hand back into Shouyou’s.

“Something in an office, I’m sorry, I don’t know,” Shouyou admitted. Tsukishima wrote another note.

“How long have you been divorced?”

“I left almost two years ago, but officially filed in January of last year. It was finalized in July of last year.”

“So that’s 18 months where you’ve been the custodial parent?” Tsukishima asked.

“Yeah,” Shouyou agreed. “She’s only ever spent a couple weekends a month with Charlie. Plus a week at Winter Break, and a week at Summer Vacation.”

“How often does she actually have the child? I know she’s entitled to fifty percent, but what has she actually taken?” Tsukishima pulled up a yearly calendar on his computer for the past two years, printed it out. “Do you have any idea?” He handed the calendar to Shouyou.

“I—yes, actually,” Shouyou said, pulling out his phone. “Every time she had Charlotte come over, I texted her about it.”

“So there’s a written record,” Tsukishima said admiringly.

“It’s because I hate talking to her,” Shouyou mumbled. The lawyer tried to laugh. But it wasn’t a joke. It was his life.

“Did she ever cancel visitation, or shift days on you?” Tsukishima asked, and Tobio snorted derisively. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Shouyou nodded in acknowledgment. Tsukishima motioned to the calendar. “Put those down too. Every day she was supposed to have visitation but didn’t. Write a note as to what she said when she canceled or rescheduled, too.”

“Can he fill this out electronically?” Tobio asked. “Then he could put screenshots of the text messages with timestamps in the document.”

“That’s a good idea,” Tsukishima agreed. He looked back at the Marital Settlement Agreement. “She can’t suddenly decide to assert her parental rights after a year of near-neglect, especially without informing you in advance. It’s illegal for her to keep the child, and we’re going to file a request for the court to make her normal twenty percent or so the new agreement. Permanently.”

Tsukishima looked back at the document. “Has she ever helped paid for any medical or educational expenses?” Shouyou shook his head. “Can you get a list of medical bills that you’ve had to pay? And the receipt from the daycare? She’s supposed to pay half of all those costs, even if she doesn’t fulfill her fifty percent custody obligations.”

Shouyou nodded. “I can do that.”

“I can file the motion once you get that to me. How soon can you get all the dates and expenses together?” Tsukishima asked.

“I’ll work on it today until it’s done,” Shouyou said. As soon as he left here, he would assemble his paper trail. Thank God he was on summer break and had the time.

“Okay, great. As soon as I’ve filed, you can tell your ex-wife to give back your daughter. If she wants to fight for the custody agreement, she does it in court, she doesn’t do it by holding your daughter hostage. It might get ugly, though. You may have to get law enforcement involved.”

Shouyou shuddered. That was the last thing he needed. He would do it for Charlotte, though. He would do anything for Charlotte.

“I’ll get back to you later tonight,” he promised. Tadashi handed him a business card.

“You can email me the calendar and messages and receipts at that address,” Tsukishima said, motioning to the card. “Now, as much as I’d like to hang out some more, this meeting has already cost you almost two hundred dollars, so let’s call it good until I hear from you tonight.”

Shouyou stood up to leave, but Tobio was still sitting.

“There’s more you should know,” Tobio said, more to the floor than to Tsukishima. Shouyou paused. What else was there to know? He was a fuckup and Charlotte was gone, that was the main idea, bolded, italicized, and underlined.

“Fine, I’m listening,” Tsukishima said, after spending a few seconds waiting for Tobio to continue. “You’re literally paying me money to say nothing,” he added. Tobio still took another moment to collect himself before speaking.

“Shouyou’s ex-wife… she’s an abuser,” Tobio began.

“Is she hurting the child?” Tsukishima asked, eyes flashing in alarm. Shouyou was surprised. It was a strange look on someone who seemed like he didn’t care much about anything.

“No,” Shouyou answered quickly. “She’s never hurt Charlie. I don’t believe she would.” Tsukishima turned to him and Shouyou looked away, just in case the lawyer looked at him with disgust, or worse, pity. “It was just me,” he added, in a small voice that he hated, the product of an overwhelming humiliation he felt whenever he thought about his failed marriage.

“Cops ever involved?”

“One time. Didn’t press charges. They almost arrested me instead, the way she was… she’s very convincing.”

“Is there anyone who can testify to the abuse? Your family, maybe?”

Shouyou smiled sadly at the idea. “Unfortunately, they’re on her side.”

“Did you tell anyone?”

“While it was going on? No, she had me trained pretty well,” Shouyou admitted, a bitter taste in his mouth at the memory of going through the trauma completely, desperately alone. “Even my best friend only found out about everything the day I finally left her for good.”

Tsukishima hummed. “Unfortunately, if there’s no contemporaneous documentation, like texts or emails between you and your friend at the time the abuse happened, it becomes he-said, she-said.” Shouyou nodded. He knew Lysia’s silver tongue would inevitably defeat him if he tried to stand against her in a battle like that. “But it’s good to know what kind of person we’re dealing with here.”

Tobio cleared his throat, not really looking at Tsukishima. “Her new boyfriend threatened Shouyou too. Said they were talking to a lawyer about getting Charlotte taken away from him. Because he’s dating a man. That’s not legal, right?”

“Discrimination isn’t legal, no. A court can’t take a child from their parents because of their sexual orientation.”

Tobio let out a breath of relief as he sank back into his chair. Shouyou hadn’t realized how much Grant’s threat had affected him. It made sense. He probably felt responsible, somehow. Ha, like anyone else is responsible for fucking up this entire situation. That’s all on me.

“Thank you for telling me that, too. If they try anything in their response, I will absolutely throw the book at them.” Tsukishima took off his glasses and Shouyou watched him pull out a tiny cloth from his pocket and clean them carefully. “Is there anything else?”

“No. Thank you.”

Tobio stood up, and Shouyou followed his lead. Tsukishima nodded in a goodbye. Tadashi showed them out of the office and back into the waiting room.

Once they were back outside and standing next to his car, Shouyou took a deep breath. He looked over at Tobio, who was looking at him strangely.

“I guess I really fucked up, huh?” Shouyou asked, his eyes filling with tears. Tobio’s brow furrowed in confusion, eyebrows slightly ticked up where they met in the middle of his forehead. Ah, his concerned face.

“Why would you say that?” Tobio asked, reaching out his arms to hold him. Shouyou didn’t want to need it, didn’t want to be weak. But his feet led him to press his body against Tobio’s strong chest, and he felt his boyfriend wrap him up in an embrace. Shouyou felt the tears wet Tobio’s shirt as his guilt and self-loathing overwhelmed him.

“I fucked up so bad,” Shouyou wailed. “If I had just done it right the first time, did the fucking paperwork correctly, Charlotte would be home—”

“We’re going to get her back,” Tobio insisted. “She’ll be home tomorrow.”

“Unless I fuck it up again,” Shouyou sniffled. “Always an option.”

Tobio held him out at arm’s length, squeezing both his shoulders, bending his knees slightly so he could look him in the face. “I’m here for you, Shou, we can fight this together.”

Shouyou flicked his amber eyes up to meet determined cobalt. Glanced away again, because it hurt. Tobio’s love was too intense for him. He didn’t deserve it.

“You shouldn’t have to,” Shouyou argued.

“I want to,” Tobio replied. He held Shouyou tightly against him again.

“I’ll pay you back,” Shouyou said, after a minute of silent squeezing. Tobio let him go so they could get in the car.

“No need,” Tobio said, opening the driver’s side door and getting inside.

“I can’t take your hard-earned money,” Shouyou added, as he slipped into the passenger’s seat.

“Okay, fine. Then it’s not my money, and I didn’t earn it,” Tobio said, pulling away from the curb, heading back to Shouyou’s place. “No problem now, right?”

Shouyou shook his head in bewilderment. “What do you mean, ‘not your money?’ I literally watched you pay for it.”

“I got it from someone else. I don’t care about the money, Shou.” Tobio’s eyes were evasive as they darted from side to side, while he still looked at the road. He obviously didn’t want to talk about it. Shouyou definitely wanted to talk about it.

“Where is the money from?” Shouyou asked.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Is it illegal?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“You know I’m just going to keep asking about it until you tell me, right?” Shouyou wasn’t joking. He was tenacious as hell when he wanted to be and he knew Tobio knew it.

“It’s money I got from someone else. Like a gift.”

“An inheritance, or something?” Shouyou thought back to what he knew about Tobio’s family. The only person he knew who died was his grandfather, and that was years ago.

“No.”

Okay, scratch that idea. “Are you going to make me keep guessing until I get it right?”

“It would probably be less painful or embarrassing that way,” Tobio shrugged.

“Okay,” Shouyou answered, wiggling in his chair a little bit, getting excited by the challenge. This could actually end up being a little fun. Playing detective might take his mind off the fact that his heart was broken. Aw, fuck, that’s right, his heart was broken. Charlotte.

He wanted to speak but a sob came out instead.

“Aw, fuck, it’s nothing to cry about, Shou, please,” Tobio begged, keeping his eyes on the road but putting his right hand on Shouyou’s lap, grabbing at his fingers. “I’ll tell you, please don’t cry.”

Shouyou tried to even out his breathing. He wiped his eyes on his sleeve.

“I’m not crying about you,” Shouyou cried. “Just, Charlie, Lysia, the whole thing, it’s so fucked up.”

“It’s from my parents,” Tobio said, cutting him off before he could continue beating up on himself. “The money. It’s from my parents.”

Shouyou blinked. Tobio never talked about his parents. Or to his parents.

“They send me money every month,” Tobio sighed, obviously embarrassed by the admission. “I never spend it. Because I don’t want it. They put it in an account for me. It’s like they’re trying to buy me… I don’t want that. I don’t need anything from them.” He stopped at a red light. He looked over at Shouyou, who was staring at him, looking at him furrow his brow, his eyes darting between the traffic light and Shouyou’s face, his tongue wetting his lips. “But you need me, so I’m going to use it.”

“I can pay you back,” Shouyou nearly whispered. Tobio laughed bitterly.

“They spent my entire life chasing after that money. That money is the reason I don’t even know them. It feels good to spend it on getting Charlotte back. On fighting Lysia. It’s like using something bad and changing it for something good. Please don’t pay me back. Don’t pay them back. Okay?” Tobio looked into his eyes earnestly, and the light turned green so he tore his gaze away, back to the road.

“Is there enough?” Shouyou asked quietly.

Tobio let out another laugh, this one less bitter and more disgusted. “They’ve sent me two thousand dollars every month since I moved out of the house to go to university. For the past twelve years now,” Tobio sighed. “If that’s not enough, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

----------

They went back to Shouyou’s to put the documentation together. They were there for fifteen minutes before Tobio came out of the bathroom to find Shouyou crying in Charlotte’s room again, with her blanket cuddled against his tearstained face. The sight broke his fucking heart.

Tobio was able to convince his boyfriend that maybe they should work over at his place, where there were less memories, less reminders of Charlotte. Shouyou admitted defeat, packing his computer and some clothes for the next day.

When they arrived, Shouyou set up at the dining table and started assembling two years of text messages into a coherent narrative. He filled out the calendar with all the days Charlotte had visited her mom, and all the times Charlotte was supposed to visit.

Tobio didn’t know what to do, so he busied himself with cleaning his apartment. He paused in between every chore to sit next to his boyfriend for a little while, or deliver a cup of tea, or touch his shoulders gently. He was trying to say “I’m here,” without actually saying the words. He didn’t want to leave Shouyou feeling alone when he knew the man was barely hanging on to his sanity.

He thought back to their conversation in the car. He wasn’t sure why it was so embarrassing to tell Shouyou his parents gave him money. It made him feel a little like a kid with an allowance or something. He was sure other people’s parents sent them money, too. He remembered Suga talking about one of his friends, whose parents had bought them a tricked-out minivan to cart around their newborn twins. Parents helping their kids wasn’t anything bad, per se. It was just when it was Tobio and his parents that it seemed like a problem.

Around noon, Tobio made them each a sandwich for lunch and convinced Shouyou to take a break. He was only done with the first six months of the calendar. Tobio stroked his hair and told him he would make whatever he wanted for dinner. Shouyou sniffled back a tear and said he would really like the curry Tobio made the first time he and Charlotte came over. Tobio nodded and went to the store to get the necessary ingredients, only after making sure Shouyou had a new cup of tea.

The four hours it took to make the curry were a welcome distraction. Tobio still checked in with Shouyou, even sitting with him for a while as the curry simmered, rubbing his back as Shouyou took screen shots of the messages on his phone before emailing them to himself, typing notes into the calendar, repeating the process.

By the time dinner was done, Shouyou was up to only a few months ago. He ate in front of the computer.

Tobio washed the dishes. Washed the rice cooker. Washed the cutting board. Washed the knife. Put the leftovers into containers and washed the pots and pans. Went into the shower and washed himself.

Stepped out of the shower and noticed the dried skin around his left ring finger, a hangnail. He should get the clippers, take care of it. Or he could pick at it, now it was worse. He scratched at it with his other nail, putting it between his finger and thumbnail and—

He quickly peeled it back and hissed at the sharp pain that followed. But then he noticed the blood with a frown. That wouldn’t do. He washed his hands and wrapped a bandage around his finger.

An hour later he was sitting next to Shouyou at the dining table, reading a book. Pretending to read a book, was more like it. He couldn’t remember the plot or the characters, and he’d read the same page four times. It was nine in the evening when Shouyou closed his laptop.

“It’s done,” he said, stretching his arms, rolling his neck.

“The calendar?” Tobio asked, finally closing the book.

“And the medical and educational bills. All emailed to Tsukishima. Hopefully I did it right and we…” he trailed off, but Tobio knew what the end of the sentence was.

“You should shower,” Tobio said. “We can go to bed early. You’ve had a long day.”

Shouyou got into his bed fifteen minutes later, skin pink and hair damp. Tobio was sitting up against the headboard, attempting his book again by the light of his reading lamp. Shouyou snuggled up next to him, wrapping his arms around his waist and resting his head on his chest. Tobio put the book on the table next to him. One hand went into Shouyou’s hair, petting him comfortingly. He put the other on top of Shouyou’s clasped hands, where they rested on his own waist.

“I love you,” Shouyou said.

“I love you so much,” Tobio replied. He could feel Shouyou shaking, and then he felt the tears fall from his lover’s eyes onto his bare chest.

“I’m sorry I keep crying on you,” Shouyou croaked.

Tobio shifted down, so he was eye level, facing him. He kissed his right eye, then his left. Kissing his tears away.

“I’m here for you, Shou. Cry on me whenever you want,” Tobio said. He followed up his words with a soft kiss to Shouyou’s lips.

He was expecting to cuddle his boyfriend, maybe rub his back until he fell asleep. He was not expecting his soft kiss to be reciprocated with a firm press of Shouyou’s tongue.

Shouyou was rolling on top of him, attacking his mouth now, biting teeth joining his tongue in the assault. He moved to Tobio’s jaw and Tobio tried to catch his breath, but Shouyou’s mouth was against his again, and Tobio was suffocating, but what a way to go.

Shouyou’s mouth was on his neck now, and Tobio could breathe for a moment, so he had the presence of mind to ask, “what are you doing?” before Shouyou was kissing him again. Tobio’s hips bucked into him from force of habit and Shouyou’s tongue was thrusting into his mouth and his hand was around his dick.

“Shou, please,” Tobio said, as Shouyou stroked him to full hardness. “Why?”

“I’m fucking sad,” Shouyou said, but it was more of a demanding growl. “I’d rather not be. Lube.”

Tobio twisted his body slightly so he could get it out of the nightstand. He grabbed condoms too. Who knew what Shouyou was up to. He wasn’t even sure if it was a good idea to go through with this, but he wasn’t about to start doing research with Shouyou’s hand around his cock. He threw himself back on the bed and Shouyou grabbed the lube out of his hand.

“What should I—” do, he tried to ask, but then Shouyou’s mouth was on his dick, and he was fingering himself open. “Oh fuck, Shou, oh you feel so good,” he moaned. Shouyou bobbed his head mercilessly and pressed his free hand into Tobio’s balls. He swallowed around Tobio’s dick, gagging. Tobio stroked his hair as he watched Shouyou’s eyes fill with tears that quickly ran down his cheeks. “Not so deep, babe—ah, ah, ah, don’t want to hurt you—” Shouyou closed his eyes and hummed, swallowing again. “I’m getting close already, I—”

Shouyou popped off as quickly as he had started. He opened a condom and rolled it onto Tobio’s cock.

“Tobio, I’m asking you nicely,” Shouyou said, slicking Tobio’s dick up with extra lube. “Please fuck me as hard as you can.” Tobio’s eyes widened as Shouyou straddled his lap, grabbing Tobio’s cock, lining it up with his entrance. Tobio took a deep breath as Shouyou sank down onto him. Tobio wanted to go slow, make sure they weren’t rushing, make sure he didn’t hurt him, but as soon as he bottomed out, Shouyou started rocking his ass immediately, taking him in and out with every roll of his hips.

Give him what he wants, Tobio thought. He looked into his lover’s watery eyes and thrust into his tight heat.

“More,” Shouyou gasped. “I need more. Fuck me.”

Tobio held on to Shouyou’s hips, bringing them down as he snapped his dick up. Shouyou threw his head back, his hands on his own nipples, pinching and twisting them violently. Tobio picked up his pace, feeling Shouyou impale himself over and over again on his cock, trying to stay away from the edge, trying to give Shouyou what he wanted.

“Fuck, like that, yes,” Shouyou yelled to the ceiling. “Fuck me, fuck me.”

Tobio was grunting with the effort, his hips bouncing against the mattress as he rammed his dick into Shouyou’s ass. Shouyou rode him right back, meeting each buck with a slam of his own.

“Spank me,” Shouyou said. Tobio smacked his ass with a loud crack. “Harder,” he commanded. Tobio complied, slapping him again.

Harder!” Shouyou screamed, and Tobio whaled on the thick muscle, switching hands every time, his open palm strikes leaving red marks in their wake. “Yes!” Shouyou screamed, so Tobio kept going. Now he was looking Tobio in the face, his hands bracing himself on Tobio’s chest, tears streaming down his cheeks, as Tobio smacked him, over and over again. His eyes were frenzied. “Fuck me up, Tobio, fucking hit me.”

Shit, he didn’t want to hurt the man he loved, but Shouyou was demanding it. Tobio did as he was told.

Tobio slapped his ass as hard as he could, and Shouyou came with a scream, thick ropes of cum pulsing all over his torso, inner muscles tightening hard around his dick. Tobio followed him right off the edge, grabbing his bruised hips as he came deep inside him.  Shouyou fell forward like a puppet whose frayed strings had finally snapped. He was sobbing in earnest now, howling brokenly, tears and snot running all over Tobio’s chest. Tobio literally had no idea what to do. He stilled, holding Shouyou close, running his fingers through his hair, kissing him gently on his cheek, his neck, his eyes.

“I’m a fucking mess,” Shouyou wailed, his body shaking uncontrollably.

“No, no, you’re not,” Tobio said, “I love you, Shou, I love you so much.”

This made Shouyou howl louder, somehow, and Tobio held him tight, repeating it like a mantra.

I love you, Shou, I love you so much. Maybe if he said it enough the man might believe him?

Shouyou was snuffling, rubbing his face into Tobio’s neck. Tobio kept up his repetitions, combing Shouyou’s hair, rubbing his back. “I love you, Shou, I love you so much.”

Shouyou was still shivering. Tobio pulled the blankets over the two of them. Shouyou made a noise of protest and Tobio shushed him. He held his boyfriend, quietly repeating the truth of his love, until Shouyou calmed down enough to breathe properly.

“Let me get a washcloth,” Tobio said, as he slipped out of the blankets, walking to the bathroom, discarding the condom. He washed his hands and the front of his body. He made sure the water was warm and wet a small towel.

He went back into the bedroom, where Shouyou was staring out at the air. Tobio pulled back the blankets and cleaned up his lover’s chest and face. He got a few tissues from the side table and made Shouyou blow his nose. He put all the tissues and the washcloth in the bathroom.

When he came back to the bedroom, Shouyou was still staring, eyes fixed on nothing. Tobio slid into the bed and turned him, so Shouyou’s head was back on his chest. Tobio kissed his forehead gently.

“Did you—” Tobio faltered, unsure how to ask, deciding to just go for it anyway. “Did you get what you needed?” He felt Shouyou nod. “Can I do anything else? To help you?”

Shouyou raised his head off Tobio’s chest and looked Tobio in the face. His eyes looked like they were finally returning to normal. “You’ve done plenty,” Shouyou said. “More than enough.” He closed his eyes and kissed Tobio gently. “Sorry for throwing all that at you. Thank you for going along with it. You did a great job.”

It was fucking terrifying, Tobio wanted to reply, but instead he said, “okay.”

He understood the urge to fuck out difficult emotions. It made it easier to deal with things. As long as they dealt with things. He knew he should probably be responsible.

“Talk to me,” he said softly, maybe hoping Shouyou was asleep already.

“I’m scared, Tobio,” Shouyou said. “I hate the not knowing, I hate the dread. I hate wondering if it’s going to be okay. And it’s about Charlotte… when it was about me it was terrible but at least I knew I’d be okay. I have no idea if she’s going to be okay. And it’s so fucking scary.”

He took a deep breath. Tobio was worried he was going to start crying again, but he seemed like he was past tears. Maybe the sex had helped him, somehow.

What did you do in a situation like this? Yell? Break something? Pray? Dear God, please let this all work out.

“Talk to me,” Shouyou said, throwing his words right back at him.

“I’m scared too,” Tobio said. “I just want it to be okay, too. And I love you so much.” He was never one for talking. Shouyou knew that. He hoped his words were enough, as stupid and simple as they were. It was all he had. Everything he had, he would always give. Tobio had never shared so much of himself with someone else.

“I love you too,” Shouyou whispered, and Tobio felt his breath even out, slow and steady. He held him until he was sure he was asleep.

----------

Shouyou woke up at 6am, confused as to why he was naked, and not in his own bed, when he remembered.

Remembered that Charlotte was gone, remembered that he was alone.

Then Tobio’s strong arm pressed against his chest and he remembered he wasn’t completely alone.

Shouyou slipped out of Tobio’s grasp and padded into the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror, noticing the marks on his ass. Damn, he should have put some ice on last night. He rooted around in Tobio’s bathroom drawers. He found an after-sun cream whose first ingredient was aloe. That would probably work. He rubbed it all over his sore muscles, thanking Tobio’s fair skin for the lotion.

He went to the living room to get his change of clothes out of his overnight bag. He turned his computer on as he changed. By the time he was shrugging on his shirt, his laptop had come to life. He signed in and went straight to his email.

Tsukishima had responded at midnight, saying the order would be filed at the opening of the court clerk’s window at 8:30am. He suggested they go get Charlotte around noon.

Noon. Six hours. Six hours to do… something.

Tobio found him at seven, sitting on the couch staring blankly at the dark television. He took one look at his face and suggested they go for a run.

They swung by Shouyou’s apartment, where he changed into running gear and shoes, and then they were driving to the nearest trail and running off all their tension. Five miles later they were sweaty and panting, but they were less stressed.

They drove back to Tobio’s in silence.

“I can call off work again, they won’t miss me. It’s not like when you’re absent and you have to get a sub. Literally nobody cares when I’m not there,” Tobio tried.

“It’s okay,” Shouyou said. “Look, I’m even driving now. I’m not hysterical.”

Tobio rolled his eyes. “I never said that,” he argued. “I’m, fuck, Shou, I’m here for you, okay?”

Shouyou took a deep breath. He nodded.

“You’re going at noon, right?” Tobio confirmed. Shouyou nodded again.

“I love you,” Tobio said, kissing his sweaty forehead. “Tell me how it goes.” He got out of the car and Shouyou watched him walk away. He drove home.

After a thorough shower, and breakfast, and nearly an hour of meditation, he still had forty-five minutes before it was time to leave, time to get his daughter back. He cleaned the apartment to get his mind off of his stress. It didn’t help his mental health much but it got the place smelling fresh.

Finally, it was 11:47 and he was driving to Lysia’s. As he pulled up, he noticed a police car sitting outside the apartment. He assumed it had nothing to do with him, but as he walked toward the stairs, the policeman rolled down his window.

“Hey, Shouyou?” the cop said, and Shouyou jumped. Oh fuck, what did I do, oh my God—

He turned and looked at the officer, and it wasn’t a cop, it was his friend.

“Hey, Daichi,” Shouyou choked out, tense as fuck.

“Tobio told Suga to send me. Thankfully—" he took a second to sigh, fondly irritated at the memory of the conversation with his boyfriend, from what Shouyou could tell. “Thankfully I was on patrol in this area anyway, but the two of them thought it would be a good idea to hang out here just in case.”

Shouyou blinked in response. He wasn’t used to the police department being helpful. The last law enforcement experience he had had was an interview with a hardnosed woman who was taking pictures of his bruises and asking him if he was sure he didn’t just like it rough.

“Thank you,” Shouyou squeaked softly, not capable of much more. Daichi saluted and went back to doing whatever cops did when they were sitting in their police cars. Waiting for a crime to happen, or something.

He turned away from Daichi’s cruiser and climbed the stairs. He arrived at Lysia’s apartment and knocked on the door. He saw the curtain by the front door move, but nobody answered the door. He took out his phone and called her.

“What,” she said, as a hello.

“I am here to pick up my daughter,” he said, as a return greeting.

“I already told you, stupid Shouyou, that’s not going to fucking happen,” she answered.

Shouyou took a deep breath. He had Tobio. He had a lawyer. All he needed was Charlie. He could do this.

“I have filed a motion against you in court. It is unlawful for you to keep Charlotte there without my permission,” he said, Tsukishima’s words coming out of his mouth.

Lysia laughed. “How did you even—you got a lawyer this time? Or is this you with another DIY job, fucking dumbass?”

Shouyou put her on speakerphone and opened up the text message chain he had with her. He attached a contact card with Tsukishima’s information. He took her off speakerphone.

“I’ve sent you my lawyer’s information. Have your lawyer call him if you need to. I’m outside. Give me my daughter.”

“You can eat shit, asshole.”

Shouyou took a deep breath. He had Tobio. He had a lawyer. He could do this.

“Look out your window. The one facing the street.” He waited, knowing her curiosity would get the better of her. His heart was pounding. This wasn’t who he was, he should just—

He had Tobio. He had a lawyer. He could do this.

Do it for Charlie.

“My attorney advised me to involve law enforcement if I needed to,” he continued, waiting for her to break the silence. “Do I need to?”

She hung up on him.

He stood outside her door for a minute. Then he began to pace.

After five minutes, he walked down to the parking area. Her car was there. She was home. She had looked out the window. She had seen the cop car. She knew.

He walked back upstairs.

He felt like he should be more confident. Ha! The law on his side, righteous anger, a self-assured smirk on his face. He would ride triumphant into the sunset. At 12:17 in the afternoon.

He didn’t feel like that at all. He felt like he wanted to throw up.

He checked his phone. It had been fifteen minutes since Lysia had hung up on him. And suddenly the door was opening—and—

“Daddy!” Charlotte screamed, as she ran to him, and Shouyou was embracing her, and Lysia was dropping Charlie’s backpack on the floor outside and slamming the door.

Shouyou’s phone was ringing, and he was holding Charlotte and crying in relief, in happiness, in joy at being reunited with his sweet daughter.

“Did you get her back?” Tsukishima asked.

“Yes,” Shouyou said, through his tears, picking up Charlie’s bag, walking back to his car, carrying the love of his life and his reason for living.

“Okay, good. I just got off the phone with her lawyer,” Tsukishima continued. “He’s a real son of a bitch, by the way, one of the worst. But the law’s on our side.”

“Thank you, Tsukishima,” Shouyou said, as he ended the call.

He went back down to his car, putting Charlie in the backseat, while she chattered about her time at Lysia’s. Grant had a new puppy and he had brought it over and they had had a wonderful week together. Shouyou gave Officer Sawamura a thumbs up, which was returned, before he got into his car. He would have to call Tobio and have him thank Suga as soon as he got home.

For now, he looked into his rearview mirror, and watched his daughter talk about the puppy excitedly. He took a grateful breath. He was finally whole.

Chapter Text

A week after Tsukishima filed their initial motion, Shouyou had to attend a mandatory meeting for conciliation court.

Before this meeting, Shouyou could not have even defined conciliation.

The worst part was, the meeting was just for Lysia and Shouyou, and a mediator. That was it, no lawyers allowed. Shouyou did the mandatory training online the day before and proceeded to be sick to his stomach for the rest of the night.

When he arrived he had to fill out a proposed visitation schedule. He decided to stick to the holidays he had already given Lysia over the last two years. Switching Christmas and Thanksgiving every other year, giving her Mother’s Day every year, switching off Charlotte’s birthday.

There was a box on the form. Did he want to meet alone with the mediator? Or with Lysia and the mediator? There was some small print. In cases of domestic violence, you may choose to meet alone with the mediator.

Shouyou chose to meet alone with the mediator.

Ten minutes before the appointment, Lysia walked in like she owned the place. She was dressed in business casual, wearing heels. Shouyou had been married to her for years, he couldn’t remember the last time he had seen her in heels. He looked down at his button up and jeans. Fuck.

The mediator called for Lysia Hinata first, and Shouyou jumped at the sound of his last name joined to Lysia’s, read out loud by a stranger. He sat in the waiting room, getting more and more nervous, feeling more and more cold sweat drip down his back. God knows what she was telling the court official. Fuck, he should have brought Tobio, just to wait in the car or something. Just to drive him home. He flipped through his pages with shaking hands. Why was she taking so long? What was she talking about in there?

Finally, she emerged from the office and it was Shouyou’s turn.

“Hello,” the Family Court Services Specialist said. Her name was Dolores Mencia. She had a no-nonsense demeanor and an office full of houseplants and inspirational posters. Shouyou sat at one of the three chairs arranged around a small table near the door. I guess most divorced couples meet with the mediator together, Shouyou thought. Too bad I’m a fucking coward.

“What are you prepared to offer, in terms of visitation?” the mediator said. Shouyou took out his list of holidays and handed it to her.

“This,” he said, willing the tremble to leave his voice and failing miserably.

The mediator took a look at his list. “Okay, this is a holiday schedule,” she said, zero humor in her delivery. “What are you offering for visitation?”

Shouyou looked down at the list, and back up at Ms. Mencia. “This?”

Ms. Mencia rolled her eyes as she blinked, like she was trying to hide her annoyance. She wasn’t doing a great job of it. “Mr. Hinata, this is a list of holidays,” she said, like he was an idiot. “Visitation is outside of holidays. What days are you offering Ms. Hinata to have visitation with her child?”

“Well, she usually has her about ten percent of the year—” Shouyou began, but Ms. Mencia cut him off.

“She is asking for fifty percent custody. What is your initial offer?” She looked at him with an irritated expression that made him feel like even more of an dumbass. “I need a starting point for negotiations. That is the whole point of mediation.”

Shouyou tried to swallow the fear he had at the thought of Lysia getting Charlotte fifty percent of the time, but his mouth was too dry. He changed tactics and got a little pissy instead. “Can I say zero?”

Ms. Mencia’s look made it obvious that no, that was not an option. He was surprised the look didn’t include a signature eye roll.

“Okay,” Shouyou tried again. “The first weekend of each month?” Ms. Mencia rolled her eyes again. There it was. Shouyou didn’t want to judge but Ms. Mencia didn’t seem very professional.

“I seriously doubt Ms. Hinata will agree to that. Is that your final offer?” the mediator asked.

Shouyou decided to take a wait-and-see approach. “Yes.”

Ms. Mencia fixed him with an even stare, but at least her eyes stayed still. She told him to go sit in the waiting room.

Shouyou left her office and perched on the edge of the hard plastic chair, looking at the randomized floor tiles. How did the floor people decide which squares were beige and which were light blue?

Ms. Mencia called Lysia Hinata again and Shouyou literally jumped a second time. Why didn’t she go back to her maiden name once he divorced her?

Then he remembered what an awful human being her dad was, and figured for Lysia, being reminded of an idiot ex-husband was probably preferable to being reminded of an asshole father. 

After a few minutes, Lysia emerged, and Shouyou was called back in.

Ms. Mencia looked at him. “Your ex-wife is asking for fifty percent custody,” she said. Shouyou nodded. “You came back with ten percent.” Shouyou nodded again. “When I told her your counteroffer, her request did not change. She is still asking for fifty percent.”

“What happens,” Shouyou began, trying to collect himself. “What happens if we can’t come to an agreement?”

“Then the court decides, with zero input from either of you,” Ms. Mencia explained. “Depending on the judge, it could go one hundred percent in your favor, or one hundred percent in your ex-wife’s favor, or somewhere in between. There is no negotiating with the judgment once it is made, unless you go back to court all over again. That’s why it’s best to come up with a plan yourselves. Whatever you two come up with, and agree to, the judge will sign off on.”

She was probably rolling her eyes but Shouyou was looking down at the tile. It was different in her office. Every square was the same color, an off-white flecked with gray.

“What is your next offer?” Ms. Mencia asked.

“Two weekends a month,” Shouyou said, looking up at her. “It’s what she’s been doing now. Mostly.”

Ms. Mencia rolled her eyes again. Maybe she got paid a bonus for each one. He left to take a seat in the waiting room without even being asked.

He sat down and looked at his phone. He considered sending Tobio a message but realized there was nothing to report. He opened his camera’s photo gallery instead. He needed a reminder of why he was putting himself through this.

The most recent photos were of his vacation with Tobio. He looked through the pictures of red rocks, delicious food, selfies, kisses…

Maybe it would be for the best if Charlotte had to spend more time with Lysia.

He was overcome with a sick guilt. He threw the thought out of his mind. As much as he loved Tobio, he loved raising Charlie more. That would always be true.

He swiped backward in time to the photos of the three of them together on his birthday, and on her birthday. Next was a pink hued picture of him reading her a bedtime story by the light of her bedroom lamp, taken by Tobio using his phone. He felt tears prick his eyes and tried to calm down. He didn’t need to start getting emotional in a courthouse waiting room. Lysia was like a shark; if she smelled blood in the water it was all over for him.

As if she had been summoned by his fearful thoughts, Lysia was coming out of the mediation room and Ms. Mencia was calling him back in.

“She didn’t agree to every other weekend,” Ms. Mencia asked. “What’s your next offer?”

Of course she didn’t agree to it. This was Lysia they were talking about. She never compromised. She always got what she wanted or she walked away. Shouyou felt angry. Felt helpless. Felt weak with hopelessness and strong with rage at the same time.

She had probably come in here with some sob story, turning this court mediator against him, like she had turned all of their friends and family against him. She expected him to roll over, show her his soft belly so she could sink her claws into him and tear out her pound of flesh. And maybe a year ago, hell, even a few months ago, he would have. He would have given in.

Not today, Satan.

“There is no next offer,” Shouyou said. “I’m sorry to waste your time.”

Ms. Mencia looked at him with a completely predictable eye roll. “You know this means you’re at the judge’s mercy, right?”

Shouyou nodded.

Ms. Mencia threw up her hands. “Good luck, then.”

“Will you say the same to her—to Ms. Hinata?” Shouyou asked out of curiosity. “Will you tell her ‘good luck’ too?”

Ms. Mencia just looked at him. “I will tell her that you have rejected her fifty percent custody offer.”

“Am I free to go?” Shouyou asked. Ms. Mencia nodded and Shouyou thanked her, even if it was a waste of time.

----------

Tobio was slowly getting used to feeling like he was walking on eggshells.

It had been three weeks since Shouyou had lawyered up and filed the order for a change of custody, visitation, and child support. It had been two weeks since the disastrous mediation session.

Shouyou had invited him over a few times, and Tobio had seen how he held Charlotte extra close, how he stayed in her room waiting for her to fall asleep even longer than usual. Tobio did as much as he could to help, making dinner when he was invited over, and cleaning all the dishes.

He liked doing dishes. It was relaxing and repetitive. It dried out his hands, though. He hadn’t realized the skin around his fingernails was so dry, until he started tearing at his hangnails. He only picked at himself when he was stressed, though.

He picked a lot, lately.

He liked the sting of the soap on his fucked-up fingers, as it found all the places he had left bloody and mangled. The sharp pain reminded him of something buried long ago, like the memory of a kiss from a former lover.

He didn’t have time to consider what that could possibly mean. Shouyou needed him.

His boyfriend had a thousand-yard stare most of the time. He started the new school year in only a few weeks, and Tobio knew the situation was only going to get worse once he was exhausted by his job on top of his daily stress.

Tsukishima’s first bill, for filing the order, was $3900, not including the court fees. This was on top of the $3500 retainer. Tobio knew the actual days in court were going to be more expensive. Plus there were all the hours to prepare for the court days. He had told Tadashi to just send the invoices directly to his email. Tobio would handle it. There was no point in making Shouyou’s life any harder. It was hard enough.

It was almost nine o’clock on a Wednesday evening when there was a knock at Shouyou’s door. Tobio stopped washing the dishes to check who it could be, peeking through the dining room window to see who was outside this late at night.

Two uniformed police officers were on the front porch.

Tobio felt an ice cube rub down his spine. He quickly went to Charlotte’s room, where Shouyou was sitting and watching his daughter, even though Charlotte had fallen asleep over an hour ago. He motioned to Shouyou to come out of the room, and his face must have conveyed the urgency of the situation, because Shouyou stood up and followed him immediately.

“The police are here,” Tobio whispered, as the cops knocked again. Shouyou’s face looked fucking terrified. He went to open the door.

“Hello,” Shouyou squeaked out, as the officers stared at him impassively.

“Hello, are you Mr. Hinata?” the taller cop asked.

“Yes,” Shouyou answered weakly. “What is the problem?”

“May we come in?” Shouyou nodded, but the two policemen were already inside, looking around. “Are there any other adults in the home?” the shorter one asked, jerking his head toward Tobio.

Tobio was infuriated by their attitude. Like they owned the place. He wanted to say something, talk back, ask them why the fuck they were there, but then he saw that the shorter one had his hand at his waist, and oh yeah, they have badges and guns and I don’t. He decided to shut the fuck up.

“No, sir,” Shouyou said. “May I ask what the problem is?” Tobio noticed it was the second time he had asked the question. Maybe they wouldn’t answer it.

“Is your daughter home?” the taller cop asked.

“She’s sleeping,” Shouyou answered.

“Go ahead and wake her up,” the smaller police officer told him. “We need to ask her a few questions. We’re here on a welfare check. Got a report that your daughter is being physically abused. Along with open sores, dirty clothes, bad conditions. We’ll need to take a look around and see if there’s any merit to the allegations.”

Tobio watched Shouyou’s knees give out. He shot out his hand and was able to catch him before he hit the floor. He put him against the arm of the sofa, where Shouyou sat heavily, his hand grabbing the back of the couch for balance.

“Will we be able to stay with her while you’re asking her the questions?” Tobio asked, as Shouyou attempted to regulate his breathing.

“We’ll keep the door open, so you can hear what we’re saying,” the tall cop said. “But we don’t like to ask the questions in front of possible abusers. The kids don’t usually want to talk if they think they’re going to get in trouble.”

“Do you want me to go wake her up?” Tobio asked gently. Shouyou quickly shook his head.

“She’ll be less freaked out if it’s me,” he said. Tobio watched him leave on unsteady legs. The cops tramped through the kitchen, and then poked around the living room. Tobio was glad he had finished washing the dishes. The kitchen had been a wreck when he arrived.

Shouyou emerged from Charlotte’s bedroom, holding her in his arms. She was still holding the blankie and teddy bear she usually cuddled as she slept. “Here are the two policemen, Charlie. They’re here to ask you some questions, and I want you to answer very truthfully, okay?” He put her on the couch, where she rubbed an eye and seemed even smaller than usual, somehow.

“You can go ahead and wait in the other room,” the taller cop said, after the smaller one took a look around the two rooms through the hallway, confirming that there were no “filthy conditions” there, either. Shouyou and Tobio went into his bedroom, leaving the door open so they could hear what the police were asking Charlotte.

As soon as they were in the room alone, Shouyou fell against Tobio, silent tears running down his face. Tobio held him, his hands trembling in rage as he pressed their bodies together.

“Charlotte,” the small cop was asking. “Does your daddy ever hurt you?”

“No,” her small voice answered. “Daddy loves me.”

“What about daddy’s friend, the one who is here today, does he hurt you?” This was a different voice, the other cop.

“Tobio wouldn’t hurt me either. He loves me too,” Charlotte answered.

Tobio couldn’t help it. His vision blurred with tears at the sound of her tiny voice.

“Does your daddy give you enough to eat?” the smaller cop was asking now.

“Yes,” Charlotte laughed, a little sleepy-sounding. “He makes me eat green beans, though. I don’t like those.”

“Does your daddy give you a bath?”

“Yes.”

“How often?”

“Every day,” Charlotte answered.

“During the bath,” the taller cop broke in, “does he ever touch you in this area?”

Tobio assumed he was pointing to his genitals, because he heard Charlotte answer immediately.

“That is the penis. I have a vagina, and nobody is allowed to touch mine except me,” Charlotte responded. “Not even friends or family. That is the rule.” She sounded proud of herself. Tobio was impressed. He looked down at Shouyou, who was proud too, even though he was still crying.

“You taught her well,” Tobio whispered, kissing Shouyou’s forehead.

“What about your daddy’s friend, does he ever touch you in that area?”

The idea that he was asking so suspiciously made Tobio want to fucking kill someone. Scratch that, not just anyone. Fucking Lysia.

“Nobody is allowed to touch me there,” Charlotte repeated, like the policeman was a student and she was the teacher. “Nobody does.”

“Thank you for answering our questions, young lady,” the taller cop was saying, and he called out, “Mr. Hinata, we’re all done here, if you want to put Charlotte back to bed?”

Shouyou took Charlotte from the couch and together they went into her room. Tobio went out to the living room, where the smaller cop was writing something on a business card. He handed the card to Shouyou when he returned from tucking Charlotte into bed.

“This is the case number,” he told Shouyou. “We can’t say who made the call—”

“We know who made the call,” Tobio found himself saying, before he could shut himself up. “His ex-wife. They’re currently in a custody battle.”

The two cops exchanged a knowing look.

“Ah, okay,” the taller one said, his demeanor completely changing. He’s still an asshole cop in Shouyou’s fucking apartment and he can go fuck himself, Tobio thought viciously. “That makes sense. This kind of thing happens a lot in that situation. Well, let your lawyer know what happened, and you can document that we found no instances of any sort of abuse. Unfortunately, your ex probably made a call to Child Protective Services as well, so there will be an investigation of you from their end, too. Tell them what you told us.”

They walked to the door and said good night. Tobio shut the door behind them. Shouyou was still standing just outside the hallway, holding the business card dumbly.

“They’re going to take her away,” Shouyou whispered.

This time when he collapsed, Tobio wasn’t close enough to catch him before he hit the floor. He rushed to his side, trying to pick him up, as Shouyou wept bitter tears.

“If they somehow get me for child abuse,” Shouyou hissed, “I’m going to lose my job, too.”  He was helpless, curled up in a ball. Tobio had never felt so impotent, so enraged.

“Shou, that’s not going to happen. You’re not a child abuser. You saw how the cops—”

“The truth doesn’t matter, Tobio,” Shouyou sobbed. “She always finds a way. She won’t be happy until she’s ruined me, Tobio.”

Tobio didn’t know what else to do. He got on the floor with his boyfriend and held him until he stopped crying. It took over an hour.

----------

Child Protective Services came by a week later.

They called first, that was nice. Gave Shouyou two days between the call and the appointment to freak the fuck out and make sure everything was extra clean. He had never been investigated as a child abuser before. He had no frame of reference. He didn’t know what to expect.

Tobio, God bless him, was so kind and so helpful. He emailed Tsukishima a near-perfect description of the police encounter, even remembering to attach a photo of the cops’ business card. When Shouyou read the transcript Tobio had typed out, remembering the questions they had asked Charlotte, he was infuriated all over again. He had to go to two classes at the gym each day to get all his anger and aggression out in a healthy way, before he did something stupid like show up at Lysia’s door.

Tobio came over the day CPS was showing up for their initial investigation. He understood that Shouyou was a mess and needed someone in his corner. Or maybe just someone to remember what happened afterward. It was scary how little Shouyou could keep in his brain. He was just thankful he was on summer break, because he knew if he had to do all this while also worrying about his job, he would very well lose his mind altogether.

CPS was supposed to arrive at six in the evening, so Tobio showed up at four. He proceeded to make a salad-based concoction for dinner that was somehow healthy and delicious and Charlotte ate it. That was basically magic as far as Shouyou was concerned and it improved his mood. He had a smile on his face, even.

They were just finishing up cleaning the dishes when there was a knock at the door. His smile fell off his face as he jumped at the sound. Now I’m scared of the door, awesome.

He opened the door to a middle-aged woman who introduced herself as Lilit Grigoryan. She was wearing a black suit with a skirt, and dark stockings, with swollen feet stuffed into pumps that seemed a size too small. She had tired eyes and red glasses. Her black hair was held back in a ponytail that seemed like it started the day put together but had since given up the fight. Shouyou felt a kinship with the ponytail immediately.

“Please come in,” Shouyou said. Ms. Grigoryan looked around the house. “I’ll need to take a look around and ask a few questions,” she said, searching the room with a disaffected gaze.

“Sure, same as the police, right?” Shouyou said, trying to be friendly, even though he would much rather Ms. Grigoryan get the fuck out of his house forever.

“Yes, the police have been by?” Ms. Grigoryan said, raising her eyebrows.

“I have the case number,” Shouyou said, getting the business card. As Ms. Grigoryan wrote it down, Shouyou added, “they said there was no indication of abuse and that I should let you know we’re in the middle of a custody battle.” Ms. Grigoryan nodded, her expression giving nothing away. She handed the card back to him.

“I’ll start with the kitchen, Mr. Hinata,” she said. “Please open your refrigerator.” Shouyou did, and she looked around at the assortment of food, making a note on her clipboard. “Do you have a pantry?”

Shouyou crossed to the cabinets and opened those as well. Ms. Grigoryan looked around and wrote some notes. She left the kitchen and Shouyou closed the doors and followed her.

Tobio was sitting at the dining table, watching Charlotte color, keeping an eye on her while Ms. Grigoryan looked around. Shouyou led her into Charlie’s bedroom, internally seething at the fact that she kept her shoes on while she walked all over their rugs, poking around Charlotte’s closet and drawers. He assumed Ms. Grigoryan was making sure Charlie had enough clean clothes. That she wasn’t being neglected.

“Is this your bedroom?” she asked, poking into the other door.

“Yes,” Shouyou answered.

“And does he live with you?” she asked, nodding her head in Tobio’s direction.

“No,” Shouyou replied, and she wrote a note on the clipboard. She looked inside the bathroom. Shouyou was glad he always made sure to keep it clean. Never know when you’ll be visited by the cops or CPS, he supposed. Guess that’s my life now.

Ms. Grigoryan was back in the living room, looking at Charlotte.

“I need to ask the child a few questions, Mr. Hinata,” she said.

“Please, have a seat,” he answered, motioning to the couch. She sat down. “Are we allowed to stay for the questions?”

“For the first part, yes,” she said. “But after that I will need you to step out of the room.”

Shouyou nodded calmly as his heart beat out of his chest. “Charlie, can you come talk to Ms. Grigoryan on the couch over here?”

Charlotte bounded over to the couch. Shouyou took her place on the dining chair. Tobio rubbed his back comfortingly.

Ms. Grigoryan explained who she was, and said she was there to make sure everything was okay. Charlie was adorable and responded to all the questions with a smile. Then Ms. Grigoryan let them know it was time to leave the room, and Shouyou and Tobio walked into the bedroom, where once again, Tobio held him and Shouyou tried to not have a complete mental breakdown as he listened to the social worker ask Charlotte almost the exact same questions the police had.

Twenty minutes later, they were called back into the living room. Tobio and Charlotte went back to coloring, and Ms. Grigoryan let Shouyou know that the first part of the investigation was done, but there would be more to check. She asked for the name and number of Charlie’s preschool teacher and pediatrician. Shouyou gave them to her. She explained she would have to talk to each of them before she could close the case.

Shouyou thanked her for her time. For stressing me the fuck out and ruining my life, more like it. She left and then it was time for Charlotte’s bedtime routine. Shouyou held it together until his daughter was asleep. After that, not so much.

----------

Tobio didn’t know what to do.

He felt useless every time he went to Shouyou’s house.

Most nights he made him dinner. Some days he held him as he cried. Other times he fucked him into the mattress. Whatever Shouyou wanted, Tobio gave him.

Every time he thought about the situation, thought about Lysia, he was filled with a white-hot rage. He was running more than ever, trying to sweat the stress out of his body, but his fingers had a mind of their own, picking at a cuticle or a hangnail until he bled, and then he would finally look down to realize he’d made a mess, which would piss him off again. He’d lay off of himself until he healed, or forgot, and the cycle would repeat itself.

It got to the point where Suga noticed he was a fucking wreck. And felt the need to say something, which was much worse.

“What?” Tobio literally snarled, when Suga kept staring at him with a raised eyebrow.

“When’s the last time you saw your shrink?” Suga asked, blunt as fuck, not caring that Tobio was not in the fucking mood right now. Come to think of it, he wouldn’t be in the fucking mood later, either. Or ever.

“I haven’t had a chance, since I got back from vacation,” Tobio growled, through gritted teeth. “Why?”

“You know your vacation was like, two months ago,” Suga pointed out, which pissed Tobio off for some reason.

“I already said I haven’t had the chance,” Tobio snapped.

“Tobio, you’re biting everyone’s head off. It is going to get you in trouble. I know you’re being sweet as can be with Shouyou. That’s good, keep doing that. But you can’t save up all your being pissed off until you’re here and lashing out at people,” Suga explained, using his patient voice. The one he usually saved for trying to explain how the Internet worked to octogenarians.

“This is one of your life lessons, isn’t it, Suga?” Tobio deadpanned.

“Damn straight,” Suga grinned. “Call your fucking therapist.”

“Fine,” Tobio said. He went back to his cart. Suga was still standing there. “I promise?” he added, trying to make the grey-haired menace go away.

“I meant now, Tobio.” Suga took a seat on a stool. His stool. Tobio wanted to throw the stool through a window and shatter some motherfuckering glass, and that’s when he realized Suga might have a point.

He picked up his phone, called Dr. Takeda’s office, and made an appointment for the following week as Suga looked on approvingly. Having a friend was a pain in the ass.

----------

The combination of happiness and trauma of the summer break made it feel simultaneously endless and quick. Suddenly, finally, it was August and it was time for the first day of school.

He finished putting the bow on Charlotte’s ponytail and got up from his squat to behold his tiny daughter, who wasn’t so tiny anymore. She was already five, and a kindergartener as of today. She was looking up at him expectantly, her tiny face in a wide smile.

“Watch my dress, Daddy,” she said, and spun around wildly, almost falling, so her skirt flared out around her. He was glad he had her wear leggings underneath. She was going to be spinning all day and he’d prefer her to not flash her undies at her new schoolmates.

Her dress was pink, with a furry unicorn head on the front, and a big poufy skirt. It was her favorite dress, a gift from Grandma for her birthday.

Shouyou blinked and saw her in his mind the day she was born, her tiny face squinting shut in a mewl, her orange fuzz covering her head. She was wrapped in a striped blanket and the doctor was handing her to him. They were both crying, Shouyou in joy, Charlotte in being a newborn. When Shouyou saw her tears, he told her not to worry, not to cry. He told her he would always be there for her. And she stopped crying and looked up at him, opening her eyes, recognizing his voice. I know you, her face said.

She stopped crying but Shouyou sobbed even harder.

The tears were threatening an appearance again now, over five years later. He blinked and his spinning Charlie bug was looking at him with an almost worried look on her face.

“Daddy sad?” she asked, touching his cheek.

“Never with you,” Shouyou said, kneeling down so he could hold her close one last time before they both had to leave for school.

It was strange but also pretty amazing to not have to drive anywhere else before heading to Leschi Elementary. This was where they’d both be for the next six years. Together.

Tobio was waiting for them outside of the school, looking out of place as a tall, dark shadow, obviously kidless. Several parents were already side-eyeing him as they rushed past to meet their new teachers and pose for first day of school photos.

Charlotte saw him and ran to him, and he scooped her up in a big hug. Shouyou approached him a little less quickly, but just as excitedly. He pressed a kiss hello into Tobio’s cheek.

“Thank you so much for being here,” Shouyou said.

“Whatever I can do to help,” Tobio said. “I know you’ve got your own group to corral.”

He put Charlotte down, so Shouyou could take her hand and walk her to the kindergarten classroom. They walked over to the door where the new teacher was greeting the children as they came in.

The new new teacher. As in, first year teacher Hitoka Yachi. Miss Yachi to her students, thank you very much.

“Hitoka!” Shouyou greeted, hugging her hello. “We’ve got to get a picture.”

Tobio dutifully pulled out his phone, taking snaps of Charlotte and her teacher, with and without her dad.

“Good morning, Charlotte!” Hitoka smiled. “We’re going to have lots of fun this year.” Charlotte answered with a brilliant grin.

She pointed over to the wall on the other side of the classroom door. It had a big banner that said “First Day of Kindergarten,” and a chalkboard that kids could fill out and hold, that said “When I grow up, I want to be a…”

“You and your dad have to make sure you get that photo op,” she added.

Charlotte gleefully ran over to the backdrop, telling Shouyou to write “ballerina” on the chalkboard. Tobio took pictures of Charlotte, and Charlotte and Shouyou. Then Hitoka came over and asked if they wanted one all together.

“I don’t want to impose,” Tobio said.

Shouyou rolled his eyes. “Do you want Tobio in a picture too, Charlie?”

“Of course, daddy!” Charlotte smiled, and Tobio smiled too. He crouched down on Charlotte’s right as Shouyou kneeled on her left.  Hitoka took a few shots and they all stood up.

Tobio, Charlotte, and Shouyou on the first day of school.

“Kindergarten parents are allowed to stay and eat breakfast in the classroom with their children, but I know you probably can’t,” she told Shouyou. “I know you have to get over to your second graders.”

Shouyou nodded, blinking away the sadness in his eyes. The idea of his little girl, alone with her breakfast at her desk on the first day of school, was heartbreaking. But he had to put on a brave face for Charlotte. He knelt back down in front of her and put an arm on her shoulder.

“Charlie, I gotta go meet my kids. But you’ll be okay with Miss Yachi, okay?” he said, swallowing back his emotions, trying desperately to keep the crack out of his voice.

“But daddy,” Charlotte said, looking around at the other kids going into the classroom with their parents. “Everyone else’s mommy or daddy is going in with them.” Her face, which had been so excited, was falling. Shouyou knew the sadness was close behind.

“I know, Charlie-bug. But the other kids’ mommies and daddies aren’t teachers here, with their own kids to let in their classrooms,” Shouyou tried to explain. But Charlotte’s eyes were getting watery and if she started crying, he knew he wouldn’t be far behind.

“Charlotte,” Tobio said, and he then coughed to clear his throat. “I could have breakfast with you?”

Tears forgotten, Charlotte turned to Tobio with an excited smile on her face. Tobio returned it with a tiny smile of his own.  He is so beautiful like this, Shouyou thought, looking up at him.

“Would that be okay?” Shouyou asked, but Charlotte was already grabbing Tobio’s hand to pull him away. Tobio was being dragged along awkwardly, unused to being given so much attention.

“One last hug,” Shouyou demanded, and Charlie gave him a perfunctory embrace before turning back to the classroom, back to holding Tobio’s hand, eager to find her desk and take her seat. Tobio waved a goodbye and Shouyou took a deep breath, ready to face his own students.

----------

Tobio had never spent time alone with Charlotte before.

It made sense, there was no reason for the two of them to hang out, especially without Shouyou around. Tobio didn’t really know what to do. Hitoka was pointing each parent to the desks where their child’s seats were labeled, and Tobio found a nameplate taped to a desk in the front that said Charlotte Hinata, so he led her there.

“Look, Tobio, it says my name,” she said, excitedly, and pointed to the apple and anthropomorphized worm holding a book. “Worms can read?” Tobio didn’t know how to answer that, and he didn’t want to say the wrong thing. He went with a shrug. The best answer was no answer.

She handed him her backpack so she could sit down. He looked around to see what other parents were doing. They seemed to be hanging them on the backs of their kids’ chairs, so Tobio did that too.  So far, so good, he thought. Pretending to be a parent isn’t that hard.

There were breakfast supplies laid out on the counter in the back, next to the child-sized sink. Tobio saw the other parents getting their kids tiny cardboard trays, putting in a single-serve coffee cake, an apple, a carton of milk and a tiny plastic packet that had a spork, straw, and napkin.

“I’ll be right back, Charlotte,” he told her, “I’m going to get your breakfast.” She nodded, too distracted with the pencil box full of supplies she had found inside her desk to pay him much attention.

He walked over to the counter and was putting Charlotte’s breakfast together when he saw her.

Lysia was here.

He had only ever seen her from a distance, at Charlotte’s birthday party. They had never met. Everything he knew about her was relayed through Shouyou second-hand, or overheard on heated phone calls. Tobio had never expected to meet her. Why would they ever meet?

Oh God, he was going to have to say words to her. He walked back to Charlotte’s desk with the tray of breakfast, and Lysia was squatting next to Charlotte’s chair, talking to her.

“I can’t believe you’re here all alone,” Lysia was saying, rubbing Charlotte’s back, as if she was comforting her. “Your dad didn’t stay with you?”

“Daddy is with his class,” Charlotte said good naturedly, holding up her newest find from her supply box. “Look, Mommy, new eraser!”

Tobio put the tray of breakfast in front of Charlotte gently. Lysia barely glanced at him. She seemed to think he worked for the school, a teacher’s assistant, maybe. “What do you say to the nice man, Charlotte?” she prompted.

Charlotte looked up at Tobio with a bright smile. “Thank you, Tobio! Will you open my milk, please?” She was reaching up to him with the tiny carton. Tobio held out his hand but Lysia quickly snatched the carton away.

She stood up, eyes narrowed. “You’re Tobio.” She said his name like it was a curse.

Tobio was still holding out his hand like an idiot. He quickly jammed it into the pocket of his windbreaker. He jammed the other one in his other pocket too, for good measure. That way she didn’t see him clenching his fists so hard he could feel his nails biting into his palms, didn’t see his white knuckles as he held back the rage that he could feel climbing up his back, settling in his shoulders somewhere.

“Nice to meet you,” he tried, but the scowl he could feel on his face probably didn’t make it come across as the most sincere of sentiments. She barked a short laugh. She picked up the straw and poked it into the carton. She handed Charlotte her newly opened milk.

“Two hands, sweetie,” she said, and Charlotte took a big gulp, holding the carton between her chubby palms. “Good girl,” she added with a smile, as Charlotte put down the milk carefully and picked up her apple, taking a big bite. Lysia turned her face away from her daughter, towards Tobio, and the smile disappeared immediately, her eyes becoming flint and steel.

“What are you doing here?” she asked Tobio.

“I was—” Tobio began, trying to answer the question like any normal person would.

“You’re not her parent,” Lysia hissed, so quietly only Tobio could hear. “Charlotte has two parents. One of them is me, and one of them is your boyfriend.” Tobio had never heard the word spoken with such venom. “Neither of them is you.”

“Momma,” Charlie interrupted, holding up the tiny coffee cake package. “Can you help me?”

Tobio watched Lysia put on her caring parent mask in a heartbeat. It gave him fucking whiplash.

“Of course, sweetheart,” she said, opening the plastic film. “Say goodbye to Tobio, okay?”

“Aww,” Charlotte said, looking over, meeting his eyes. “You’re leaving?”

“He has to go,” Lysia said, sticking out her lip like she was sad. She held up her hand, curving her fingers in a mocking goodbye wave. “Bye-bye, Tobio.”

Charlotte reached out her arms to hug him around his knees. Tobio patted the back of her shoulders awkwardly as Lysia gave him a death glare.

“Come here and take a picture with mommy,” Lysia said, and Charlotte turned away from him and toward the camera. “First day of school! My baby is so grown up.”

Tobio walked away quietly as Lysia chattered on, snapping pictures of the two of them. As he left the classroom, Hitoka caught his attention with a sympathetic smile, trying to make him feel better. But when she looked at his face, her smile faded away and her eyes got wide.

I must look fucking terrifying, Tobio thought. Good.

He walked out of the classroom, and then stormed out of the gate. When he hit the sidewalk in front of the school, he felt a growl rising from his chest. He wanted to scream, wanted to punch something. Wanted to hurt.

He started to run.

He didn’t live that far from the school, so he had walked there. He knew the first day was going to be a bit of a circus and he didn’t want to have to find a place to park. But he wasn’t headed home now. He was running, like a man possessed.

He cut through Leschi Park, barely feeling his feet as he ran through the trails. The day was balmy for August, and it was still early enough that the breeze was crisp. His slow and steady breathing attempted to calm down his heartbeat. He was trying to run the stress of his encounter away, and it was working. Then he remembered Lysia’s fucking face and felt his rage bubble up again. He ran faster.

He was headed east, and didn’t really know why. He hit the lakefront, and started running up Lake Washington Boulevard. He could see the sun glinting off the water.

After a few miles, he could feel himself calming a bit. His pace slowed, and he saw a bench overlooking the water. He fell into a light jog, and finally a walk. He stood on the shore of the lake and looked out over the water, catching his breath.

She was so mean to me, Tobio thought. For no fucking reason.

What should he have done, left Charlotte to eat breakfast alone? He had looked around, every other kid had had an attentive parent opening their milk, unwrapping their straw. Who would have opened her milk if he hadn’t been there?

Lysia had never mentioned that she was going to show up. If she had been on time, of course Tobio wouldn’t have stayed. He only offered because Charlotte was so sad. And that made Shouyou so sad. Tobio would do anything he could to prevent Shouyou’s sadness.

Tobio pulled out his phone, swiping away the homescreen picture, a selfie of the three of them covered in paint. He opened his message chain with his boyfriend and started typing. And then he thought of Shouyou dealing with the stress of his own first day of school, and he deleted the message one letter at a time.

Shouyou had enough going on today. He didn’t need to deal with this right now. Tobio sighed, put his phone back in his pocket. He looked back over the water, watching the waves on the shore. The repetitive motion calmed his mind a little. He took deep breaths, raising his arms overhead, bending at the waist, pushing his foot against the bench and stretching his hamstring a bit.

He jogged back home, slightly less stressed out. Time to get ready for work.

----------

Hitoka walked Charlie over to Shouyou’s classroom once she was done for the day. Her class got out a little earlier than his second-grade class did, so Charlotte got to spend some time in his teacher chair while she waited. He set her up with some crayons and paper while he finished up with his class.

“How was your first day as a kindergartener, big girl?” he asked Charlie, on their way to the car. Shouyou was already looking forward to dinner. Tobio said he would make fettuccine Alfredo to celebrate their first day. Shouyou’s mouth was watering at the thought. Food he didn’t have to make was always the most delicious food.

“It was amazing, daddy,” Charlotte chattered. “I got to sing the ABC song, and there was carpet time, and we did math with blocks, daddy. Math with blocks!” she cheered as she climbed into her car seat.

“Let me buckle you in, Charlie-bug,” Shouyou said, reaching for the straps.

“I can do it myself, daddy,” Charlotte said, clicking the pieces together. “I’m a big girl now!”

Shouyou checked her work. She had totally buckled herself in. He willed himself to not start bawling all over again. He got into the driver’s seat and caught her eyes in the rearview as he backed up the car.

“How was your breakfast?” Shouyou asked. “With Tobio?”

He grinned at the memory of the shy smile, the request to be her stand-in parent. Tobio had really shown up for him today. 

Originally, Shouyou had asked him to be there to support him as he watched Charlotte become a kindergartner. Shouyou hadn’t trusted himself to not make a scene. Tobio was grounding. Holding his hand always made him feel stronger.

But then Tobio wasn’t just there for Shouyou, he was there for Charlotte too. And it was so sweet and so Tobio.

I’m stupidly in love with him.  Shouyou sighed happily.

“It was good! And then Mommy came!” Charlotte answered.

Shouyou was shaken out of his reverie. “What?” he stammered, concentrating on driving, which suddenly seemed to be very difficult to focus on.

“Mommy came! She helped me with my coffee cake.” Charlie wrinkled her nose. “Is there real coffee in coffee cake? You told me coffee is not good for kids.”

“It’s called that because you eat it with coffee,” Shouyou explained automatically, as his brain’s gears continued whirring. Lysia was there. Tobio had to meet her. I wasn’t there. Why didn’t Tobio say anything?

Tobio had messaged him around lunch, asking him how his day was going, checking in, letting him know about Suga’s latest nonsense.

Why hadn’t Tobio said anything?

Shouyou didn’t have long to consider the possibilities, because they were already pulling up to the apartment.

----------

Tobio was grating Parmesan cheese when the love of his life came home.

“Tobio!” Charlotte screamed, running to hug him around the legs. She almost knocked him off balance, but he was used to her dad attacking him with affection, and she was much smaller, so he took it like a pro. She then ran to her room to say hello to all the toys she’d missed while she was at school.

Shouyou wrapped his arms around Tobio’s shoulders, with a little less force than his daughter had.

“Hello, my love,” Tobio said, pressing a kiss into Shouyou’s forehead. His boyfriend smiled and tipped his head back, reaching up on his tiptoes to press a less chaste kiss against his mouth. Tobio tilted his head and Shouyou pressed his tongue between his lips. I guess he’s happy to see me, Tobio thought. He was amazed every time that someone who was actually happy to see him existed.

“Hey,” Shouyou said, once he’d had his fill. He pulled back and his eyes were molten. Tobio cleared his throat and looked away, taking a deep breath. There was dinner to be made, it wouldn’t do to get a hard on in the kitchen.

“What’s all this about?” Tobio asked, as he turned to the counter to finish grating the cheese.  Shouyou wrapped his arms around his waist and pressed his face into Tobio’s back.

“I love you,” he heard Shouyou say into his shoulder.

“I love you too,” Tobio said, scooping the cheese into a bowl and washing his hands. “How was your first day, good group this year?”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Shouyou asked, rubbing his face against Tobio’s muscles.

Tobio’s hands stilled. He could feel himself tense. He knew Shouyou could feel it, too. He felt him lift his head off Tobio’s suddenly-stiff back. Tobio turned toward him. He cupped his boyfriend’s face with his hands, rubbing his thumbs lightly over his cheekbones, tracing over the light freckles there.

“I wanted you to have a good day,” Tobio said. “I didn’t want to mention it until you were home.”

“Was she—”

“Fucking awful?” Tobio laughed without humor. “Yeah.”

Shouyou’s eyes flashed with anger. Tobio knew it wasn’t directed at him. Shouyou’s phone started ringing at that point. Tobio knew the conversation wasn’t over. They’d talk later.

“Hey mom,” Shouyou said, answering the call. “How are you?”

Shouyou walked through the living room, to Charlotte’s bedroom. Tobio could hear him telling Charlotte that Grandma wanted to talk to her about her first day of kindergarten.

Tobio finished making dinner. They could talk later. They would talk later.

----------

“Femuzeene Alpreddo is my favorite dinner,” Charlotte declared, as she finished her second helping.  Shouyou laughed and pulled out his phone. He pressed record.

“Say it again, Charlie-bug,” he coaxed, as his daughter hid her face in her hands. “What’s your favorite dinner?”

Charlotte removed her hands from her face so she could scream, “Femuzeene Alpreddo!” at the top of her lungs.

“It sure seems like you like it,” Shouyou said, examining her. “You’re wearing a lot of it on your cheeks.” He laughed and moved toward her with a claw hand, pretending like he was going to eat the food off her face. She squealed as she ran to the bathroom. Tobio stood up to clear the table.

“I’ll do that later,” Shouyou said, putting down his phone. “You made dinner, you shouldn’t have to clean up, too.”

Tobio shrugged. “I don’t mind,” he said. “You’ve got important things to take care of.”

Charlotte took that moment to run back in the room buck naked, shaking her tiny butt.

“You can’t catch me, monster daddy!” she screamed, as Shouyou ran after her.

An hour later, Shouyou and Tobio were reading Charlotte a bedtime story. Tobio offered to take the first part of Charlie Watching Duty so Shouyou could shower. Shouyou knew it was a good idea to wash off the stress of the first day. Adjusting from summer break to the classroom routine always took a lot out of him. He knew he’d get back into the groove after a week or so, but man, getting to that point was brutal.

He was already yawning as he took his shower and brushed his teeth. He wasn’t going to last more than a couple hours. He’d be fast asleep by ten. He could just feel it.

When he came out of the shower, Tobio was waiting for him on the couch.

“She asleep?” Shouyou asked, rubbing his eye.

“I stayed an extra five minutes to make sure,” Tobio said. “But she dropped off right away. I think she was worn out by the day.”

“That makes two of us,” Shouyou yawned. He curled himself into Tobio’s side, throwing his legs across his lap, wrapping his arms around his waist. He hummed happily as his boyfriend started stroking his hair.

“Tell me what happened,” he said, breaking the peaceful mood.

Tobio told him the tale of the fateful breakfast, and Shouyou got angrier and angrier. When he heard the part about Lysia telling Tobio he wasn’t her parent, he couldn’t help the growl that came out of his throat. As Tobio finished his story, he looked down, seemingly embarrassed.

“I know it’s true, I’m not her dad,” he whispered.

Shouyou held Tobio a little tighter. He pressed a kiss into his jaw.

“She loves you,” Shouyou said. “So do I.” He kissed him on the mouth, gently. “I’m so sorry that happened.”

“It’s not your fault,” Tobio said, shaking his head.

Shouyou loved this man so much. He wanted to hold him for the rest of the night.

“Will you stay?” he asked.

“You want me to?” Tobio answered, eyebrows up in surprise. Shouyou nodded. “Is it a good idea, with…” Tobio gestured toward Charlie’s bedroom. Shouyou waved a hand.

“She’s fine, she knows you, she won’t be surprised to see you in the morning,” Shouyou said.

“Okay,” Tobio said.

“Go brush your teeth, I’ll be in bed,” Shouyou said with another yawn.  Shouyou wanted to hold him, he just had to stay awake long enough to do it.

----------

By the time Tobio made it to bed, Shouyou was asleep.

Tobio checked his phone. Nine. Who falls asleep at nine, besides children?

He slipped into bed and curled up next to Shouyou, kissing his head and feeling his fluffy hair tickle him underneath his chin. 

“Tobio,” Shouyou moaned, half-asleep.

“Yeah?” Tobio whispered, kissing his forehead gently.

“I’m not asleep,” Shouyou murmured.

“Okay, sure,” Tobio laughed.

“I’m not,” Shouyou repeated, his voice getting fainter.

“I love you, Shou,” Tobio breathed, but his boyfriend was already unconscious.

Chapter Text

Tobio never really expected phone calls.

He had only one person he wanted to hear from, and he saw Shouyou almost every day. Tobio was sleeping over at his place more nights than not, and he had come back to his apartment this morning to find he had nothing he could eat for breakfast. The last time he went to the grocery store had been two weeks ago. All the food in his refrigerator had rotted.

He opened his pantry instead and found a bag of trail mix he had bought for when he was on the… trail. He ate that and was knee deep in cleaning out his fridge when his phone rang.

Tobio checked the time. 9am. Shouyou was at school. Kiyoko didn’t call unless it was an emergency. Did he even have Suga’s number? He had his phone on silent for anyone else, anyone who didn’t have a contact saved.

He washed his hands and picked up the phone.

The screen said Kaito Kageyama. In small print underneath, where the company would be listed, it said “Dad.” In quotation marks.

What even in the fuck?

He answered the phone in a daze.

“Hello?” Tobio said, his voice hoarse. When was the last time he had even spoken to his father? Did the man even call on his birthday last year? Tobio remembered an email. No phone call.

“Tobio,” Kaito said. “This is your father.”

“Hello,” Tobio repeated.

There was a moment of silence. Why was he calling? One way to find out.

“Why are you calling?” Tobio asked, and it wasn’t the most conversational of tones. Why would it be? This wasn’t a person he had conversations with.

“Your mother and I noticed,” his father said with a sigh. Maybe this wasn’t fun for him, either. Good. “The account, you’ve been withdrawing from the account.”

Tobio had had a feeling that was what this was about. Nothing else had changed in their relationship in the past twelve years.

“Yes,” he decided to agree. Best to not offer any information.

“The charges are for a law firm,” Kaito added. “Are you—” another sigh. “Are you in some sort of trouble?”

The last thing Tobio wanted to do was to have a talk with his father about Shouyou. His parents didn’t even know he was gay, for fuck’s sake. He thought back to the last discussion he had had of any substance with either of them. It was when the school called and suggested Tobio get a therapist. And that exchange had been with his mom. That was almost fifteen years ago.

He couldn’t remember the last conversation he had with his father.  Had he ever had an actual conversation with his father?

“I’m not in any trouble,” Tobio answered.

Kaito sighed again. Tobio wondered if this was even his dad’s idea, or if his mom was putting him up to it. It was weird to do it that way, why didn’t she just call herself?

“You’re okay,” Kaito confirmed.

“Yes,” Tobio said, anxious to get off the phone.

“I’ll let your mother know,” his father said, also seemingly anxious to get off the phone. Like son, like father.

“Okay,” Tobio said, hoping that was all.

“You can always—” a pause, a sigh. Did the man have functioning lungs? “We can help you, Tobio, if you’re ever in trouble. You know that, right?” He ended his statement with another sigh.

Tobio was floored. Kaito Kageyama, speaking in full sentences, to him, his son, and not only that, he seemed to be feeling some sort of emotion, maybe? Tobio had no idea what to say.

“Okay,” he said, knowing full well that he would never talk to either of them about any problems he was having, ever. They didn’t have that kind of relationship. They didn’t have a relationship at all. That bridge had been under construction for so long the project was abandoned due to lack of interest from both parties.

They sat in silence. Maybe his father was waiting for Tobio to bring up some sort of conversation starter. Tobio wished he had a conversation ender. Because he was ready to not be on the phone anymore. He felt like ants were climbing on his legs. That’s what this “talk” was doing for him.

Finally, his dad sighed one last time, and Tobio figured the required interaction was complete.

“Okay,” his dad echoed, on a two-minute delay. “Talk to you… later.”

Much later, hopefully, Tobio thought, but he didn’t say it. He didn’t want to be a complete asshole.

“Goodbye,” he said, but Kaito Kageyama had already hung up the phone.

Tobio looked at the glassy rectangle in his palm. The time spent on the phone was blinking, six minutes and seventeen seconds. Then the screen faded to black.

Six minutes and seventeen seconds. The longest conversation he had ever had with his father.

His parents were worried about him. Thought he was in some sort of trouble?

Tobio felt a strange urge to sit, suddenly. He walked to the dining table and plopped in a chair. The crawling feeling in his legs had given way to a weird heaviness. But it wasn’t just in his legs, he felt it in his shoulders and arms, too. And maybe his chest? He was suddenly tired, even though he had slept well the night before and had only been awake for three hours.

His fingernails on his right hand dug into the grooves on the sides of each fingernail on the right, finding the dry skin, picking at the little edge until he had a place to peel. He tore it off and watched the blood well up in a tiny red dot.

What the fuck is happening to me? Tobio thought. He washed his hands, stifling the urge to douse his fingers in rubbing alcohol so it hurt more. He waited for the weird feeling in his chest to pass. It didn’t. But he had to finish cleaning the fridge, and then he had to go to work, so he did that, even though he didn’t understand what was wrong with him.

Only later that day, as he was sobbing in Dr. Takeda’s office, did he name the feeling. Longing.

----------

Shouyou had learned to fear his email.

He didn’t check it at work anymore. He didn’t even have it loaded on a tab on his computer. He didn’t open it on his phone and had disabled his notifications.

Thankfully, his work email was on a different server, and he could get those messages without fear. Sometimes there were reminders about picture day, or that on Friday they’d have breakfast burritos for staff in the main office. Even when they were about annoying things like unpaid required after-school meetings, work emails were fine.

Personal emails were a different fucking problem. Because personal emails might be from Kei Tsukishima, attorney at law. And they might be about some shit Lysia or Lysia’s lawyer was fucking pulling, and Shouyou could not handle that kind of thing at work.

He had tried once, opening an email from the law office during a recess, and he ended up spending ten minutes crying in the bathroom. He had to splash cold water on his face and blame his red eyes on allergies. Thank God second graders believed most of what you told them.

Once Charlotte was in bed, then he could deal with the personal emails. It helped if Tobio was there, too. Making Shouyou’s dinners, washing Shouyou’s dishes, being Shouyou’s rock. He hoped Tobio didn’t mind, didn’t feel taken advantage of.

He had asked him. Asked if he was coming across as ungrateful, asked if Tobio didn’t want to deal with him, asked if maybe he just felt obligated, or something.

Tobio’s response had been to take him to bed and make him come three times. So Shouyou assumed the two of them were good and Tobio didn’t mind taking care of him.

It was 8pm on a normal Thursday at the beginning of September. Eight weeks since Shouyou’s initial court filing, six weeks after the useless mediation session. Tobio was on one side of the couch, reading a novel he had brought home from his library. Shouyou had his computer open, feet on Tobio’s lap, where Tobio was rubbing one comfortingly, forgetting to move his hand every now and then when the book had an extra compelling section.

Tsukishima had sent him Lysia’s Responsive Declaration to Request for Order. Shouyou felt nauseous just seeing the email in his inbox. Opening the thing was another level of sick altogether.

The first part of the document Shouyou recognized. It was similar to the form he and his lawyer had filled out, but the checkboxes under Child Visitation and Child Support were marked “I do not consent to the order requested.” Then there was a section called “Facts to Support.” And an attachment.

Shouyou’s heart joined his guts in churning uncomfortably, creating a cold clammy sensation over his entire body. He began to read.

“Declaration of Lysia A. Hinata.” Oh God, this was going to be bad, Shouyou realized, but like a slow-moving train wreck, he couldn’t look away. He kept reading.

“I, Lysia A. Hinata declare as follows:

  1. I have personal knowledge of the following facts. If called upon to testify in this matter as witness, I could and would competently and truthfully testify to the facts stated in this declaration except as to those matters on which I state on information and belief, and as to those matters, I believe them to be true.
  2. I am submitting this declaration in support of my Response to Request for Order re: Change of Child Custody, Child Visitation, and Child Support. The following reasons which support a denial of Shouyou Hinata’s Request For Order.
  3. It is in the best interest of our daughter Charlotte that she have continuous contact with me to strengthen our mother-daughter bond.
  4. I do not agree that I should be made to pay child support to Shouyou for Charlotte. Shouyou has a steady income while I am currently unemployed earning no income.

History

  1. This case arose out of dissolution proceedings between my ex-husband Shouyou Hinata and me. The judgment was entered in July of last year.
  2. The judgment called for joint legal custody of Charlotte as well as 50/50 physical custody.
  3. Child support was waived by both of us.
  4. I did exercise my parental time with Charlotte as much as I could considering my workload.

Shouyou’s Failure to Follow the Judgment

  1. From day one Shouyou has failed to follow the provisions of our divorce Judgment.
  2. Hardly six months after our divorce was finalized, Shouyou started dating various boyfriends. Since then, Charlotte has been neglected to the point where Child Protective services became involved.
  3. Further, Shouyou has not allowed me to spend my 50% custodial time with Charlotte.
  4. I have requested time and time again, for Shouyou to allow Charlotte to spend time with me as requested by the Judgment. Shouyou has refused. His excuse is always that they have plans already.
  5. As a result, I have not been able to exercise my 50% custodial time with Charlotte.
  6. Shouyou does not notify me of school events for Charlotte. He has never invited me to ‘Back to School Night’ nor has he told me of any parent-teacher conferences so that I can participate.
  7. Shouyou has failed to list me as Charlotte’s emergency contact at her school.
  8. Shouyou intentionally interferes with my parenting time with Charlotte by refusing to allow Charlotte to spend weekends with me. He always says Charlotte already has plans for the weekend.
  9. Another concern that I have is that Shouyou’s home is dirty and not well kept for a child to live in. Charlotte has complained to me many times that her father has dirty house. Charlotte has also complained that her father does not bathe her for days on end.
  10. Shouyou has also failed to provide Charlotte with adequate clothing during our visits. Many times Charlotte has come to my home with old and dirty clothing.

Child Support

  1. I disagree with the request for child support. Currently, I am not working although I have been actively looking for a job. So I do not have an income.
  2. On the other hand, Shouyou has been working as a teacher. He earns approximately $70,000 per year.
  3. The judgment we agreed to makes clear that both (Shouyou and I) waived any request for child support. The circumstances have not changed significantly enough which would require that I pay child support. My financial situation has actually worsened since the Judgment was entered.
  4. Shouyou should actually be paying me (Parent 1) $405.00 per month in child support. See attached printout. I request that the request for child support by Shouyou be denied. (Exhibit 1).
  5. Further, while Charlotte is at my home, I do provide for her. I buy her clothing, shoes, and plenty of food. She has a good roof over her head as well as love from me.

I declare, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington, that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed this 7th day of September at Seattle, Washington.

Signed, Lysia A. Hinata”

The “exhibits” attached were a statement of income proving somehow that Shouyou should be paying Lysia child support, plus a copy of their failed mediation that Ms. Mencia put together. Then there was a declaration from Lysia’s lawyer, some guy named Suguru Daishou, which was a timeline of all the meetings he had had with Lysia to prepare for their eventual court date. This was followed by a demand for Shouyou to pay Lysia’s legal fees, since it was his fault they were in court.

Shouyou pulled his legs off Tobio’s lap, swinging them onto the floor. He put the laptop on the coffee table gently. He stood up from the couch and walked to the bathroom. He could hear Tobio saying something, but the words sounded like they were underwater. He knelt on the cold tile of the floor.

Then he threw up.

----------

Tobio was barely holding it together.

He was trying his best to be strong for Shouyou.  He was trying his best to be a good boyfriend, a good partner. Any pain Tobio felt didn’t matter. His shit was second-hand. Shouyou was the one suffering, Tobio just had to be good, be there for him. He loved him so much and he knew he was going through it.

Reading the lies Lysia submitted to the court put him over the edge. After he calmed Shouyou down and put him to bed, he went home, changed into his running clothes, and fucking ran. He didn’t know what else to do after he found himself inspecting his forearms. Looking for a new place to carve a line for the first time in twelve years.

Never mind that it was ten at night. Never mind that there was a light rain. He needed to get the poison out of his system before it killed him. Because that’s how he felt, he felt like he would die if it didn’t get out.

Only after twelve miles, when his lungs were burning and his legs felt like lead, did he feel like he could rest. He made his way back home and showered off the rain and wished he could shower off his stress just as easily.

His next session with Dr. Takeda wasn’t as helpful as the run.

“You’re angry,” the shrink said, adjusting his glasses. It wasn’t a question.

“Of course I’m fucking angry,” Tobio said. He had paid the guy enough money that this wasn’t a breakthrough. Anger was his default emotion. Any idiot could see that.

“Why are you so angry, Tobio?” Dr. Takeda asked, in that sweetly condescending way that Tobio was sure therapists had to master before they got their shrink license.

“Because the situation is fucking bullshit,” Tobio growled. Why wasn’t it obvious? “Why does she get to say all these fucking lies? Why does she get to treat him this way?”

Dr. Takeda spread his hands, beatific like a fucking saint. Nothing ever got to him. What was that like, Tobio jealously wondered. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Tobio wasn’t standing for that garbage. “So I’m just supposed to accept it?” he nearly yelled.

“We have to accept the things we cannot change,” Dr. Takeda said. Maybe he was a monk, not a saint.

“You sound like an inspirational poster,” Tobio mumbled. Dr. Takeda pointed at the wall. There was a fucking framed needlepoint that said the same fucking thing. Tobio let out a loud tch.

“Does it make the situation better, to be so angry?” Dr. Takeda asked.

“Yes,” Tobio responded immediately.

“So you feel good, when you’re mad?” Dr. Takeda prodded, like a tongue poking a rotten tooth.

“I feel fucking great,” Tobio lied.

“Tobio,” Dr. Takeda sighed, and he reminded Tobio of his father for a half a second. “You look like you’re not doing great. There are dark circles under your eyes.  You’ve lost weight. You haven’t stopped moving, your foot, your leg, your hands, since you sat down. You ran twelve miles in the dark in the rain. Look at your fingers.”

Tobio followed the order against his will. He inspected his hands.  Each finger was a wreck. Various stages of bloody, or about to be. When had he picked so many of his hangnails, his cuticles, his skin? He had literally been tearing himself apart and hadn’t even noticed. That was probably not good.

“I know you have a history of self-harm,” Dr. Takeda began. “This counts, Tobio.”

Who cares if it “counts?” How is that going to solve anything?

“Thanks, doc,” Tobio scoffed. “This is helping a lot.”

Dr. Takeda stared at him. Tobio stared right back. He could stare. He was a staring fucking master.

“You can’t hard work your way out of this one,” Dr. Takeda said eventually.

Tobio had no idea what he fucking meant by that. His face must have given that sentiment away.

“There is nothing you can do to make this all work out,” Dr. Takeda explained. “No matter how many nice things you do. No matter how much you hurt yourself. What’s going to happen is what’s going to happen. And you have to accept that.”

Okay, accept all the bullshit. Eat it up with a smile. No fucking problem. Except that there was a huge fucking problem.

“I’m supposed to just let Shouyou suffer?” Tobio threw back at him.

“No, you help him as much as you can,” Dr. Takeda said. “But not at the expense of your own mental health. From what you’ve described, you’re basically waiting on him hand and foot, and keeping everything you’re feeling all bottled up inside, where it’s affecting you deeply. Pretending everything is okay with you, trying to be good for him… this is unsustainable, Tobio.”

“You want me to pick a fight with him?” Tobio asked, genuinely unsure of what Dr. Takeda was saying. Who wouldn’t want to make their partner’s life better? Why would Tobio talk to Shouyou about his problems? Shouyou had enough to deal with, he was supposed to take Tobio’s pain on top of his own? Why would Tobio ever do that to someone he loved?

“I want you to be honest with him. Honest with yourself,” Dr. Takeda explained.

Yeah, right.

Tobio gave him another tch. Shouyou was the one in crisis, not him. His shit was stupid. It could wait until later.

----------

Even though he had spent money on it, and it wasn’t cheap, Shouyou wanted to cancel his tournament entry.

Who knew three months ago, when he had bought it as a birthday present for himself, on Tobio’s suggestion, that by September he’d be up to his neck in the shit?

The week before the competition, when he got the reminder of his registration, he had to take a moment to remember that he had even signed up. June was a lifetime ago. He laughed dryly as he remembered his birthday party, their vacation to Sedona. Those memories seemed like a movie he had watched about someone else, rather than experiences he had lived.

When he told Tobio he was reconsidering competing, Tobio said either choice was a good one and he’d respect it. But he also said the tournament might be a good distraction.

Lysia had Charlotte for the weekend. Shouyou had been keeping up with the visitation as it usually was, even though every time he dropped Charlie off he was terrified Lysia was going to pull something. She could go on the run. He knew she and Grant had friends and family out of state.

Tsukishima told him withholding visitation would be bonus points for the other side, would prove Lysia’s case that he was difficult when they went to their court date later. So Shouyou had to pretend things were business as usual, when inside he felt like screaming.

In the end, he agreed with Tobio. A distraction would be nice.

They arrived at the community college gymnasium at nine in the morning. There were different time slots for each belt and each weight class, but it the whole thing depended on how long each match went for. Some were over in five minutes, others in thirty seconds. All Shouyou knew was the day to show up, and that eventually he’d compete at some point.

The tournament was a double elimination. If Shouyou lost his roll, he’d get to try one more time. If he won, he moved up the standings and fought someone else who had won their roll. He was interested to see how many guys were there. Height didn’t matter in BJJ, only weight, and since Shouyou was fairly muscular for five and a half feet tall, there was a pretty interesting collection of competitors in his weight range, 151 to 163.5 pounds. There was also an open weight division he could sign up for, which sounded like a free-for-all. The whole thing sounded like a good time.

He was glad he had decided to come after all.

When he signed in, he got a coupon for a free açai bowl from the vendor set up in the lobby. He wanted to eat it right away but Tobio suggested he wait, because competing on a full stomach was a bit of a bad idea. Tobio had packed some granola bars and Gatorade, and had brought a change of clothes and a towel. He was prepared and Shouyou fucking loved him for it. Shouyou loved him for other reasons for sure, but his thoughtfulness was at the top of the list.

After weighing in, and then sitting and watching other people fight, Shouyou was nearly jumping in excitement.  His first match was finally announced at eleven, and after two hours of solid anticipation, he was ready to roll. Literally.

His first matchup was with a guy from a well-known gi gym trying his hand at no-gi. Shouyou submitted him immediately with an ankle lock. That’s what you get for not practicing with 50% of your body, he thought triumphantly.

His next match was against a lanky guy, who was at least six feet tall. Shouyou threw him into a leg lock, and while the guy had legs for days, he couldn’t use them fast enough to spin into it and throw Shouyou off. Victory number two.

“Can you double check that I signed up for the purple belt division?” Shouyou whispered to Tobio. He hadn’t even broken a sweat.

“The more you win, the harder the fights,” Tobio said sagely. “Be careful what you wish for.”

Tobio’s words proved eerily prescient, because his third match was not a cake walk. His opponent got the initial takedown, and was sweeping him and passing his guard, over and over, racking up point after point from the judges. Shouyou had never competed before, so he didn’t know how to win the points game this guy was obviously playing. He knew the only way he was going to end a match with a victory was by tapping his competitors out.

With thirty seconds left in the match, Shouyou finally saw his opportunity. Shouyou was in side control and he put his opponent’s arm across his own face. Every breath the guy let out was a chance for Shouyou to squeeze his chest more tightly. He was suffocating him in a scarf choke.

The guy tapped with four seconds left on the clock.

“Okay, that one was hard,” Shouyou admitted, as Tobio gave him his towel and a Gatorade.

Shouyou went through three more hard matches before he finally lost one. But since it was double elimination, he still got to go against one more guy. This guy hadn’t lost any matches.

Shouyou was exhausted. He had already rolled seven times, but the last guy looked fresh as a daisy. It lit a fire in him, made him want him to prove himself even more.

The bell rang and the guy was fast. But Shouyou was fast, too. Their limbs were a blur as they tossed each other around, making sure they stayed in the ring. The scrabbling of their feet on the mat was a loud staccato as they jockeyed for position. Shouyou fought his way out of several chokes, and thought he was about to end it with a triangle, but the guy refused to be pinned down. In the end, Shouyou got caught in an armbar, and as competitive as he was, he didn’t feel like going home with a broken bone. He tapped before he snapped.

They hugged afterward. The battle was well-fought. The guy was blown away that it was Shouyou’s first competition. Shouyou laughed and said it definitely wasn’t his last.

Tobio took a picture of him on the podium with his silver medal. Shouyou watched the videos Tobio had shot as he enjoyed his champion’s açai bowl. He was a little impressed with his performance, as he watched himself roll. Pride. It was such a strange feeling. He wasn’t used to it, and it was weird. But it felt good, too.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” Tobio said, watching over his shoulder. “It’s always easier to understand when you explain it to me.”

Shouyou kissed him on the tip of his nose. “I can explain now, while we watch?”

Tobio smiled. “I’d like that,” he said. “At least until you go compete again. You’re sure about the open weight division?”

Shouyou’s eyes gleamed. “I’m hooked now. I could roll all day.”

The open weight division featured most of the same guys he had already fought, plus a few that were even bigger. Shouyou held his own, however, and ended up taking out quite a few dudes. five dudes, to be exact.

Shouyou ended up fighting the guy who won the weight division above his. He lost, but eventually came out with a bronze medal. In the end, the guy who had won his weight division ended up with another gold.

Shouyou stood on the podium for a second time, just as excited as the first. He looked down at his chest, where the two medals were clinking against each other. He had never won anything before, never mind two cool star-shaped hunks of metal in two different colors. He caught Tobio’s eyes as his boyfriend photographed him. He thought about Tobio’s marathon finisher photos. He understood the proud smile now. He wore one too.

Tobio insisted on taking him out to a celebratory dinner of fried chicken and waffles at a highly-rated restaurant nearby. Shouyou had changed into his competitor T-shirt, and a pair of sweatpants. He knew he still smelled but he was too hungry to care.

After their delicious meal, they made their way back to Tobio’s apartment.  Shouyou had taken to staying there whenever Charlotte was at Lysia’s. It made him less sad than being at his own place without her. Tobio had come up with the idea, actually. Tobio was so helpful and kind and Shouyou didn’t deserve him.

He stood under the water of the shower and luxuriated in the warmth. He had never felt so good scrubbing himself clean. Even the sweatiest class he’d ever had didn’t compare to a full day of BJJ. He counted on his fingers. He had rolled with fourteen guys. That was nuts.

He got out of the shower wrapped in a towel, fully intending to put on some pajamas. He went out to the living room to get his clothes out of his bag and hang out with the man he fucking adored, but Tobio was nowhere to be seen. He heard music softly playing from behind the closed bedroom door. Shouyou licked his lips in anticipation. Sure, his muscles were sore as hell and he could barely walk without limping. Why not add some more exercise to his day? If it anything was worth doing, it was worth overdoing.

He walked in and Tobio was still dressed, which was a bit confusing. He was lighting a candle, and Shouyou looked around the room. There were candles on the nightstand and dresser. The flickering light gave the room a romantic glow.

There was a towel laid in the middle of the bed. Are we going to get that messy? Shouyou hoped so.

Tobio put down his final candle and met him at the door. “Congratulations, big winner,” Tobio purred, and put his lips to Shouyou’s, plush firmness pressing against his own. Goosebumps broke out over Shouyou’s arms as Tobio’s tongue licked between his lips, the angle of his neck deepening the kiss. Tobio bumped him against the bed, and Shouyou sat down. Tobio’s arms wrapped around him, and as he kissed him, he lowered him down gently.

“What’s going on, Tobio, with all the candles? And music?” Shouyou asked, as Tobio’s tongue licked a line down his neck.

“I’m going to give you a massage,” Tobio said, and then he sucked a hickey into Shouyou’s chest.

“Unh, oh, okay,” Shouyou groaned, as Tobio’s teeth teased his nipple. Damn, he should have put his barbells back in after he was done competing. How was he supposed to know this was how his night was going to end up?

“You’re not going to be able to lie on your stomach with this,” Tobio teased, wrapping one hand around Shouyou’s throbbing cock. Shouyou moaned as Tobio started stroking his length with his hand.

“Do something about it,” Shouyou breathed, and then Tobio’s wet heat was surrounding his dick, taking him in all the way to the hilt. Tobio’s tongue ran along the back of his cock, pressing into the tip, making him twitch and pulse.

Tobio’s strong hands rubbed his thighs, kneading his sore muscles, as he bobbed his head up and down Shouyou’s dick, swallowing when his throat was full. Every gulp made Shouyou bite back a scream. He knew he wasn’t going to last with the speed and strength of Tobio’s licking and sucking.

“I’m coming,” he warned, giving Tobio a chance to get Shouyou’s dick into a place that wouldn’t make him gag. Tobio sank his mouth even further, gulping around him as Shouyou spilled down his throat. Tobio hummed in approval as he licked Shouyou clean.

If Shouyou was tired before, that was nothing compared to how exhausted he was now. He was a rag doll as Tobio moved him into the middle of the bed and rolled him onto his chest. Shouyou heard him open a bottle, and the smell of rosemary and eucalyptus oils filled the air. Tobio must have found an oil similar to the one the massage therapists in Sedona used. Or maybe he had bought the oil when he paid for their treatment at the spa. Either way, it was heavenly. Tobio straddled his waist, and soon his strong, slippery hands were pressing into Shouyou’s neck and shoulders.

Shouyou took deep breaths as Tobio rubbed the soreness out of his upper back and arms.

“Where did you learn to do this?” he slurred, drooling on the towel as Tobio rubbed him into relaxation.

“I watched a few YouTube videos,” his lover said, as he shifted further down his body, straddling his ass now, rubbing his lower back. “Do you like it?”

“Fuck yeah,” Shouyou said, but it came out “fugggggeahhhh.” Tobio laughed softly. Shouyou knew he got the gist at least.

Now Tobio was rubbing his thick ass, kneading the knots out of the aching muscles. Every moan Shouyou gave him was answered with a satisfied hum. Tobio was really doing a great job. He learned this shit from internet tutorials. Fuck, he was an amazing student. Shouyou thought back to their first series of lessons together, and between the memory of their first date kissing and Tobio’s sensual rubbing, he found himself getting turned on.

Tobio finished the back of Shouyou’s body by massaging his lower legs thoroughly, bending them at the knee one at a time to rub the calf muscle in the back and the shin in the front. He rubbed Shouyou’s feet, keeping the pressure stiff so it didn’t tickle. Shouyou was so relaxed at this point he didn’t even think tickling would work on him, but he appreciated the effort.

Then Tobio was rolling him over, and massaging his sore quads, and ahhhh, Shouyou was hard again. Tobio let his fingers ghost over his cock, and Shouyou let out a quiet whine.

“Again?” Tobio murmured.

“More,” Shouyou whispered. His eyes were closed, his face serene. He heard Tobio reach for something else, heard a click he recognized.

Then Tobio had one finger pressing inside him, and his other hand wrapped around his dick. Shouyou couldn’t even buck his hips into Tobio’s fist, his legs were jelly. He could only use his voice.

“Please, Tobio,” he moaned, and Tobio added a second finger. Fuck it felt good. Shouyou began panting little noises. “Ah, ah, ah,” he repeated, his words matching every thrust of Tobio’s fingers.

“You just lie there,” Tobio said. He removed the hand stroking Shouyou’s dick, and slipped his fingers out of him too. Shouyou’s eyes were still heavy, but his brow furrowed a little at the loss of sensation. He heard Tobio, undressing maybe? Then he felt one of Tobio’s arms snake under his ass, gently lifting his hips. Then he felt his other hand slide a pillow underneath him, and Tobio put him down on top of it, elevating his lower half.

He put his fingers back inside less gently. Shouyou would have arched his back but his muscles were done for the day, out of the office, off-world.

Shouyou opened his eyes a centimeter to see Tobio watching him intently. “Does it feel good?” he asked.

Shouyou answered with a stupid smile and a breathy “yeah.” Tobio’s fingers were moving in and out of him easily, and Shouyou was a mind without a body at all. Life was good.

Tobio’s fingers slipped out again, and Shouyou started shaking in anticipation. Tobio lifted his shoulders, putting a pillow there too, elevating his head. So fucking considerate. Shouyou’s eyes slivered open again as he watched Tobio slide on a condom and lube himself up. They fluttered shut again as Tobio slid inside slowly, invading him an inch at a time.

“Yeah,” Shouyou repeated, letting out his breath in a sigh as Tobio filled him up all the way.

Tobio raised one of his legs, hooking it over his arm. He did the same with the other. Shouyou relaxed into the position as Tobio started to move, rolling his hips every time he bottomed out, grinding into Shouyou’s prostate, making him moan weakly. He attempted to raise his hips to meet him and felt a twinge of sore muscle, and Tobio’s hand was pressing him down.

“Don’t worry,” Tobio said, leaning into his mouth for a kiss. “Just enjoy.”

Shouyou decided to be selfish for once. He felt his muscles slacken, felt himself liquify completely. His body was made of water. He was a puddle in the shape of a man. Tobio licked into his mouth and Shouyou answered him with a sound that wasn’t a word at all. Tobio was having his way with him, fucking into him faster, and Shouyou loved it. He felt himself get closer to coming with every thrust of Tobio’s cock against his sweet spot. He couldn’t even be bothered to wrap a hand around his dick to hurry himself along. He let his pleasure wash over him like waves on a beach.

“Nnnh, Tobio,” he whispered, and he was coming, painting the place where their bodies met with splashes of cum. Tobio’s pace increased, his rhythm turning unsteady. “Please, Tobio, come for me,” Shouyou keened, and Tobio did, thrusting deep inside, making Shouyou’s cock kick and dribble one last time with the pressure. Tobio plunged into him gently a few more times, riding out the last of his orgasm, rubbing his body with his hands comfortingly as they both came down.

Tobio kissed him as he slipped out, and Shouyou could barely kiss back. He was completely spent. He barely registered Tobio moving him off the pillows. He was pretty sure he felt a wet cloth on his chest, and maybe he was somehow dressed in some pajama pants?

The last thing he remembered was a strong arm, wrapping him close, carding through his hair, whispering “I love you,” and then sleep took him completely.

----------

Tobio was trying his best to balance his love for Shouyou with his begrudging and completely stupid and unnecessary love for himself.

Dr. Takeda said he couldn’t keep serving Shouyou at the expense of his sanity. Fine. But that was easier said than done. When he saw Shouyou’s glassy eyes or heard his exhausted sighs, he wanted to do anything he could to ease his burden. He ached inside, with helplessness and frustration, and he only found relief in his own pain. That was at least pain he could control.

The response to Lysia’s bullshit court filing was especially hard. Thankfully, Shouyou had gathered all his documentation, so it was a matter of going point by point through the declaration and rebutting the lies with facts. Tobio rubbed his back as he sat at the computer, brought him tissues when he started crying, paid Tsukishima thousands of dollars, and mutilated his fingers.

A small ray of light in the darkness was that the Child Protective Services social worker had determined that the neglect charges were unfounded and dismissed the case. Sure, it took two more visits, and now every time there was a knock at the door Shouyou flinched, but at least that chapter of the nightmare was over.

One thing Tobio knew Shouyou was looking forward to in the midst of all the nonsense and bullshit was his class’ annual field trip to the Seattle Children’s Museum. He said he always loved October for that reason.

The night before his field trip, he laid out his comfortable shoes, dri-fit polo shirt, and cargo pants on the bed. When Tobio made a face at the unfashionable ensemble, Shouyou just shrugged and said it was important to be fully prepared. Tobio figured there was something about a field trip that activated Dad Mode. When he sarcastically remarked that some wraparound blu-blocker sunglasses would complete the outfit, Shouyou wondered out loud where he could buy some, and didn’t stop until Tobio attacked him with kisses to shut him up. Tobio smiled as Shouyou melted underneath him. He didn’t mind being in love with a dork.

Tobio didn’t have work until noon, so he had stayed over the night before so he could make Shouyou breakfast and lunch for his trip. In the morning, Shouyou went to get Charlotte ready for school as Tobio filled her lunch box with a container of grapes, placing them gently inside the owl-shaped lunchbox, on top of her carrot sticks and hummus.

Shouyou came into the kitchen with a water bottle. Filling it up with half juice, half water, and a packet of electrolytes, he turned to Tobio with a bit of trepidation in his eyes.

“Charlie’s got a fever,” Shouyou announced. “She’s going to have to stay home.” He chewed his lip. “I’ll have to take her to Lysia’s,” he added, even though it was obvious that he didn’t want to.

Before Tobio could think, he had already replied with a “no.”

Shouyou sighed. “I can’t miss this trip,” he said. “Nobody can cover me, they’ve never done it before. It’s always been my thing. And I can’t send Charlotte to school with a fever.”

“Can I—” Tobio stammered. “Can I do it?”

Shouyou looked at him with a steady gaze. Tobio felt like he wanted to look away, felt embarrassed, felt stupid. But he also wondered if this was some kind of test? Maybe if he could prove he wasn’t scared, Shouyou didn’t have to worry about it?

“Are you sure?” Shouyou asked gently. “You have work, too.”

Tobio scoffed. “Literally nobody cares,” he replied. “They’re probably happy when I don’t show up.” Shouyou held his eye contact and finally, it seemed Tobio had passed his test.

“Okay,” Shouyou decided. “She’ll probably sleep all day, anyway. Just… call me if you need to?” He went back into Charlotte’s room to drop off her juice. Tobio finished making his boyfriend’s lunch with shaking hands. He could pretend to be a parent for a day. Just one day.

As soon as Shouyou left, Tobio called into work, explaining the situation. Then he did some internet research on how to deal with a sick child. He looked in the pantry to see if Shouyou had any soup.

He went to check on Charlotte and she was asleep. He made sure her water bottle wasn’t knocked over or leaking anywhere. It was on her side table, still within reach.

He walked back out to the living room and started to pace. It was 8am. Shouyou would be back at 5. That was nine hours. He could do this, he had run a marathon, he had been through therapy, he had won back the love of his life. He could do this.

“Daddy?” a weak voice called from the bedroom. Tobio froze. Oh God, she doesn’t know Shouyou left, he realized. Oh no oh no oh no.

He crept to her room, trying to make himself seem as little and unimposing as he possibly could, considering he was over six feet tall and 179 pounds.

“Hey, Charlotte,” he whispered, as he looked over at her, sitting up in bed, hair a mess, cheeks red. “Your dad had to go to school, okay?”

Her head cocked to the side, like a curious puppy. God, I hope I’m not scaring her, Tobio thought.

“Okay, Tobio,” she said. “I’m hot,” she added.

“Did you drink all your juice?” Tobio asked, picking up her water bottle and shaking it. It seemed about half full. “I can add some ice, so it’s cool, that might help?” Charlotte nodded and Tobio walked to the kitchen to add the promised cubes to the aluminum canister.

By the time he got back to Charlotte’s room, she had laid back down, fast asleep.

Tobio put the water bottle back on her little table, and backed out of the room silently. His heart was racing, as if he had just had a difficult test in school. He caught his breath and decided maybe he needed a cold drink. He poured himself a glass of water in the kitchen. His phone went off and he checked the text.

Shouyou: Just got to the museum. How is she?

>> She woke up a little, but by the time I got her water, she was back asleep.

Shouyou: Awww my sweet girl

Shouyou: How are YOU

Tobio didn’t want to worry the man. But he also didn’t want to lie.

>> Freaking the fuck out

Shouyou: ha! Welcome to parenthood

Shouyou: gotta go, lmk if you need anything

Tobio took a deep breath. “Welcome to parenthood?” More like, welcome to an overwhelming fear and despair? His head was suddenly full of everything that could possibly go wrong. Every way that Charlotte could take a turn for the worse. Did parents live with this every day? How fucking exhausting.

One hour down, eight more to go.

Tobio walked into the hallway, listening for Charlotte, seeing if she was awake. No sound. What if she’s choked and died as she slept or something, he worried, so he opened her door and listened until he heard her breathing.

He walked back to the living room. He sat on the couch, picked up his book from the coffee table. Realized he couldn’t focus after five minutes. Walked to the kitchen.

The dishes were all done. The floor was clean. Nothing to do here. Back to the living room.

He could dust, but what he really needed to do was vacuum. But that would wake up Charlotte for sure. He looked around. Maybe he could clean the bathroom?

He sat on the edge of the tub in the bathroom and remembered he had cleaned it just a few days ago, and it wasn’t due for another cleaning yet.

Back to the couch. Head in his hands. 9:22. Fuck.

He decided to make some tea. He needed to calm the fuck down. Plus, it gave him something to do.

He brewed a cup and cleaned the kettle for good measure. He walked back out to the living room. Charlotte was standing silently in the middle of the hallway, holding her blanket, looking like she belonged in a horror movie.

Tobio dropped the tea. Thankfully it was on the rug, so the ceramic mug didn’t break. Unfortunately, it was on the rug, and the orange-brown liquid began to spread on the floor as it soaked into the fibers.

There was also the whole “hot liquid splashing onto his socked feet” part of the equation, but who cared about burns when there was a terrified five-year-old standing in front of him?

“Hey, Charlotte, how are you feeling?” Tobio asked, slipping off his soaked socks and leaving them on the rug. He could clean that shit later.

“Okay,” she said warily, rubbing one eye with the heel of her hand. “Can I stay here?”

“Of course,” Tobio said, motioning to the couch. “You wanna sit? I’ll get your water bottle, okay?” Charlotte nodded and Tobio went to get the thermos.

He came back out to the couch and Charlotte was curled up in a little ball. Tobio put the water bottle on the table.

“Are you hungry?” he asked, and she shook her head. “You should try to drink some more, Daddy made this juice for you, it’s like medicine,” he tried. Charlotte shook her head again.

Tobio looked over at the spill. “I’m going to clean that up, and then we can figure out what to do, is that okay?” Charlotte nodded.

Tobio went to the kitchen to get paper towels, and found a rug and fabric cleaner under the sink. He blotted up as much of the spill as he could, and he threw his socks into the hamper. He borrowed some of Shouyou’s to replace them. He sprayed the cleaner all over the spot on the rug, and hoped the stain hadn’t set yet.

He washed his hands and went back to the couch. He shook Charlotte’s water bottle, and it was still mostly full.

“Charlotte,” he said, “Can you drink some of this for me?”

“Not thirsty,” she mumbled.

He could see her sweating. Oh God, what if she was dehydrated? What if she passed out? Shouyou would never forgive him. This called for drastic measures.

He quieted the voice that said he couldn’t get use drastic measures less than two hours into his first foray into childcare.

“If you drink some of this,” Tobio tried, “We can watch Tangled?”

“I don’t like Tangled,” was the muttered reply. Tobio furrowed his eyebrows. Since when?

Frozen?” he guessed.

“I don’t like Frozen,” Charlotte replied. Tobio started to sweat. Blonde princess, blonde queen. Fuck, what other ones were there? And it had to be one Shouyou had already watched with her, the last thing he needed was to show her some movie her dad hadn’t prescreened. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Tobio walked into her room. He looked at her dolls, gathered in the rocking chair in the corner. Yellow hair, yellow hair, yellow hair. What the fuck did she mean, she didn’t like Frozen or Tangled? These were all Elsas and… the other one.

Then he saw a glimpse of brunette, buried underneath all the blonde. He pulled out a black-haired doll, smaller than the other ones, and missing all her clothes. Tobio was sure she was from a Disney movie. Like, mostly sure. He walked back out to the living room.

“How about this movie?” he said, brandishing the naked girl. Why was she naked?

Mulan?” Charlotte mumbled, reaching her hand out for the doll.

“Yes, Mulan,” Tobio said, hoping that movie was fine.

Charlotte put the doll on the couch next to her. She leaned forward and grabbed the water bottle. She started drinking. Tobio turned on the television and cued up the film. He sat on the couch and looked over at Charlotte. She was curled up under her blankie even though her wet hair was plastered to her forehead. She looked so small and pitiful. She felt him looking at her and looked back.

“Don’t feel good,” she said.

“I know, I’m sorry,” Tobio said. “Do you want to lay down some more?”

“Want to watch the movie,” she said.

“You can lay down here,” Tobio said. “Then you can watch the movie and rest.”

She turned to him and reached for him with grabby hands. “Hold me,” she said weakly.

Shouyou always gave in to Charlotte’s demands. Tobio never understood why. He had been raised fairly strictly. He learned no meant no and that arguing was useless. He always wondered why Shouyou would look down at a pouty lip from his little girl and suddenly Charlotte would get what she wanted. What was this power she seemed to have?

Now, with that force turned in his direction, Tobio suddenly got it. He was absolutely putty in Charlotte’s hands. Whatever she wanted, she would get.

He reached out for her, and she crawled on top of him, laying her humid head against his chest, folding her arms underneath herself. He laid back on the armrest. His arms were down at his sides, his gaze up towards the ceiling.

“My head hurts,” Charlotte said in a dry whisper.

Tobio raised his right hand hesitantly. Was it okay? He already had a sweaty child laying on him. What was a head pat at this point? He decided to go for it. He carded Charlotte’s hair away from her forehead, petting her orange strands backward, running his fingertips along her scalp. She sighed profoundly and her eyes closed.

He reached over for the remote and paused the movie. He watched her fall asleep. It was much more entertaining.

Tobio kept rubbing her head, amazed that while the color was the same as Shouyou’s, the texture was totally different. Shouyou’s hair was thick and fluffy, solid on his fingertips. Charlotte’s hair was wispy and fine, light like feathers. Her mouth parted as she fell more deeply asleep, and she began to snore quietly, just like her dad did when he was really tired.

He was holding a piece of Shouyou, here on his chest. A small little person that Shouyou made. He suddenly realized with a fierceness that there was literally anything he would do for her. To keep her safe, to keep her happy. He would die for this child.

He realized he loved her.

It was a different kind of love than what he felt for Shouyou. But it was love all the same. He lay there, her hot weight heavy on him, and realized his heart might burst. This was what being a parent was about. Not the terrifying, paralyzing fear. The terrifying, all-encompassing love.

Charlotte roused an hour later. Tobio told her if she had some soup she could watch the rest of the movie. He warmed up a can of Chicken Noodle and made a sandwich for himself. He sat and made sure she made a good attempt at the bowl. After it was only halfway done, she said she was full, but she also seemed like she had a little more energy.

They watched the second half of the movie and then Charlotte asked him to read her some books. She picked a selection and curled up in his lap on the couch.

They read the Sneetches and something about a Frog and a Toad, and then Charlotte asked him to read her favorite.

It was the story of a little kid who had two fathers. Good on Shouyou for picking some positive gay role models. Tobio would have loved this growing up, instead of the thinly-veiled homophobia he had learned to navigate.

As they read the book, Charlotte explained the pictures.

“These two boys are married,” she said. “That’s why she has two dads.” Tobio nodded. Charlotte looked at him. “Are you going to marry my daddy?”

Tobio tried to hide his fear. He relied on his training. When in doubt, ask questions.

“What do you think?” he deflected. Charlotte looked thoughtful. Crisis averted?

“I think if you love someone, you should marry them,” she decided. “Do you love daddy?”

Tobio nodded. “Yes, very much.”

Charlotte smiled at him like he had said the right answer. “Me too,” she said with enthusiasm. “Daddy is the best daddy in the whole wide world.” She turned the page. She pointed at one of the two dads. “This one is daddy for this little girl,” she said. She pointed at the other one. “This one is papa.” She looked up at Tobio and he felt his mouth go dry.

He could see her train of thought coming a mile away. He wasn’t ready for this. He had agreed to pretend to parent for a few hours. She had slept most of the day. He wasn’t her dad by any means. He’d only known she existed for a little over a year. He’d only been in Shouyou’s life meaningfully for six months. He had so many reasons why this was a bad idea.

“Will you be my Papa?” Charlotte asked, and Tobio knew any answer other than “yes” would be a heartbreak, no matter how much he explained, no matter how logical his argument.

“Yes,” he whispered in a soft reply.

“I love you, Papa,” Charlotte said, and she turned in his lap to wrap her arms around his waist and press her face into his chest. He was pretty sure she was wiping her nose on his shirt, and he couldn’t care less. He rubbed her back with one hand and her hair with the other.

“I love you too, Charlie.”

Chapter Text

Shouyou was disappointed he had to celebrate Halloween without Charlie. But she hadn’t gotten to spend it with her mom the year before because Lysia had called out sick, and with the court date coming up soon, Shouyou knew he had to be on his best behavior.

Just because he was doing the right thing didn’t make it hurt any less. He loved watching Charlie trick or treat. She got so excited, even though she knew she wasn’t going to eat ninety percent of the candy. She just loved showing off her cute costume and having people pay attention to her. He was sad that Lysia was going to get that experience and he wasn’t. It wasn’t just Halloween, he felt that way on every holiday he didn’t have Charlotte, and even though he had been divorced for a couple years already, he wasn’t used to it yet. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to it.

After listening patiently to Shouyou as he described his sadness in detail, Tobio attempted to pick up his spirits by mentioning that Daichi was throwing a Halloween party and they were both invited. Shouyou knew that meant Suga was throwing a Halloween party, and Daichi had been convinced to host it at his place. A Suga party sounded like fun, but Shouyou was still pretty dejected at the thought of Charlotte going door-to-door, exuding cuteness at every step, and doing it without him.

Shouyou was about to start falling further down his rabbit hole of sorrow and sobbing, until Tobio said that he had never celebrated Halloween before, and he was willing to do it this year, and Shouyou could choose his costume. He said he could pick anything he wanted, with only two conditions.

Challenge accepted. He couldn’t wait to see Tobio in his outfit.

Driving Charlotte to Lysia’s house, he was feeling a little better, but he was still pretty sad about the whole thing. He wasn’t hiding it very well and Charlie called him out on it.

“Daddy sad?”

Shouyou papered over his mood with a fake smile. “Never with you,” he replied.

“Why is Daddy sad?” she asked. Guess she sees right through me now, he realized. They grow up so fast.

“I’m sad because I’m going to miss you, Charlie-bug,” he answered, truthfully.

“I’m going to miss you, Daddy. I’m going to miss Papa, too,” she said.

Shouyou found his face breaking into a shit-eating grin, this smile actually genuine. Coming home from his field trip two weeks ago to see them asleep on the couch together, Tobio cuddling Charlie close to his chest as they napped, that was already cute enough. His camera roll was full of the photos he hadn’t been able to stop himself from taking. But afterward, when they had woken up and Charlotte had announced that Tobio was now her Papa?  Beyond adorable. His heart had almost exploded.

“Papa will miss you, too,” Shouyou responded.

“Why doesn’t Papa live with us?” Charlotte asked, as they made the turn onto Lysia’s street.

“He does sometimes,” Shouyou answered, as he tried to find a place to park.

“Why not all the time?” Charlie pressed.

“I don’t know,” Shouyou said, unsure of the right thing to say. He didn’t want to get involved in a deep discussion about the future of his relationship with Tobio in the two minutes he and Charlotte had left together. “Is that what you want, Charlie? You want Papa to live with us?”

“Yeah,” Charlotte said with a big smile, sighing happily. “Every day.”

“Okay, I’ll work on it,” Shouyou promised, as he finally parked the car. He pulled Charlie out of her car seat with a hug and a kiss, grabbed her bag and costume, and together they walked up to Lysia’s apartment.

----------

“I don’t know,” Tobio said, as he examined himself in the mirror, a flush coming over his cheeks. He looked dumb. Why was this fun again? He moved his gaze to the floor, instead of at his reflection. “I guess I thought you’d choose a couple’s costume.”

Shouyou moved in front of the mirror and wrapped his arms around him, snuggling into his chest.  “Some people think these two are a couple, you know that?” Tobio rolled his eyes. On the internet. He’d never seen anything in the show that supported this hypothesis.

“I believe the only two requirements were ‘comfortable’ and ‘no wig,’” Shouyou added, kissing Tobio after listing each prerequisite. “This costume wins. Nothing more comfortable than a baggy jumpsuit.”

Tobio looked down at his blue jumpsuit, then over at Shouyou’s, which was green.

“Spraying my hair should count as a wig,” Tobio grumbled. His two-tone hair was just as weird-looking as the rest of him, with a pointy bit hanging on his forehead like he had bangs, but only in the middle. Who the fuck had hair like this? “I should have said no makeup, too.” He examined the burn mark over the left side of his face. Shouyou had painted it on with dollar store lipstick.

“Come on, Tobio, now you’re just being a party pooper,” Shouyou said, punching him lightly in the arm. He adjusted his own hair, which was covered by a green wig. Unlike some Tobios, he thought wigs were awesome. Tobio watched his boyfriend check his face in the mirror, making sure he hadn’t smeared his drawn-on freckles. “Where’s your ‘Plus Ultra’ attitude?”

“Why didn’t you paint your hair, too?” Tobio asked, reaching for Shouyou’s wig to grab it, muss it up. Shouyou evaded him easily with a Muay Thai bob and weave.

“Because I plan on spending this party shaking my bootie until I can’t feel it anymore,” Shouyou said. “I don’t want to sweat off hair paint.”

“I’m going to dance too,” Tobio scowled.

“I’ll believe it when I see it, Toboroki,” Shouyou giggled. He got behind him and pushed his reluctant ass out of the bedroom bodily. Tobio was once again impressed by how strong his boyfriend was as he allowed himself to be manhandled out to the front entry. They left Shouyou’s apartment to make their way over to Daichi’s. Time for Tobio’s first Halloween celebration. Yay.

Daichi opened the front door and the sound of loud music drifted out into the apartment hallway. He was dressed in bright blue overalls over a long-sleeved red shirt. His fake mustache made him look like even more of a cop somehow. He looked nervous. Tobio didn’t know why he looked nervous. He was in his own home. Isn’t that the place you’re supposed to feel least nervous?

“It’s-a you, Mario!” Shouyou greeted brightly.

Daichi didn’t play along. “Hey guys,” he said, with panicked eyes. Shouyou hugged him hello. Tobio gave a wave.

“What’s wrong, Daichi?” Shouyou asked, following him inside his apartment, filled with loud music and raucous people. A lot of people.

“I don’t think my place is big enough for… all this,” Daichi said, as all three of them heard a loud thump from the living room, followed by a sound that was a cross between a giggle and a scream. Tobio saw his eyes widen even further.

“Why did you throw a party then?” Shouyou asked, as they walked closer to the sounds of the music and the laughter.

“Suga… can be very persuasive,” Daichi sighed. “He didn’t want to throw a Halloween party and a New Year’s party. So Halloween was suddenly my responsibility.”

They had arrived in the living room, which was already full of people dancing. The large space also contained a kitchen that seemed bigger than his or Shouyou’s. There was an area with a dining table, which had been repurposed as a boisterous game of beer pong. People were packed into every corner, drinking and talking over each other and the music coming out of the speakers by the dance floor.

“All of my furniture is in my second bedroom,” Daichi said into Tobio’s ear. “It’s literally stacked to the ceiling.” Tobio watched someone stumble, a splash of their drink splattering onto the tile. It was probably a good idea for Daichi to hide anything he could.

Suga pulled himself away from a group of people who were arguing and laughing obnoxiously in order to greet them both. He was wearing overalls with short shorts, bright blue to match Daichi. A tiny green half-shirt, green hat, and crooked black mustache completed the ensemble. Tobio couldn’t decide if he looked ridiculous or amazing.

“Shouyou!” Suga screamed, as he ran to hug him hello. “Tobio!” he added, in almost the same pitch. Tobio could feel himself wincing and Shouyou laughed at the look on his face as Suga hugged his stiff-as-a-board body.

“What was that thud I heard earlier?” Daichi asked, as Suga completely ignored him in favor of dragging Shouyou to the drinks.

“I fucking love your costumes,” Suga yelled, as he handed each of them a beer from a cooler on the floor. “There’s another BNHA guy here, too. You all should get a photo together! So fun!”

It didn’t sound like Tobio’s idea of fun, but knew there was no point in even bothering to  argue with an on-his-way-to-drunk Suga. He drank his beer instead.

It was at that moment that “Dirty” by Christina Aguilera came on.

“This is my song,” Suga and Shouyou exclaimed at the same time. Then they both squealed, and Tobio found himself holding Shouyou’s drink in one hand and his own in the other as Shouyou and Suga raced each other to the dance floor to get rowdy and a little unruly. Tobio shrugged and took another swig of his beer. He would drink first, dance later.

He watched the love of his life drop it to the floor, and then he was sucked into the middle of the action as the writhing group surrounded him. That’s my man, Tobio smiled to himself proudly. He decided to wander around for a bit, giving himself a tour of the apartment.

Off the combination living room-kitchen-dining room, there was a hallway. Tobio saw an open door that seemed to lead to a bathroom.  Tobio opened one of the closed doors and peeked inside. That was the bedroom full of furniture. It really was stacked to the ceiling, and Tobio took a moment to wonder at the feat of engineering before he closed the door. A different door in the hallway led to a closet. Tobio smirked to himself as he remembered the last party he had been to.

The remaining door opened, and Daichi stepped out, shutting it behind him suddenly, as if it were the final line of defense against a hell beast or at the very minimum, a tiny demon. His eyes were still as terrified as they had been when he opened the apartment door earlier.

“Suga was saying he was going to show everyone my sidearm,” Daichi explained. “I locked it up and then put the locked case into another lockbox. I locked up my uniform too, just in case Suga gets any… ideas.”

Tobio shrugged his shoulder and took a swig of his drink. He wasn’t judging anyone. He was standing in a hallway holding two beers and opening all the doors. Daichi nodded and hurried back out to the party. Out of curiosity, Tobio tried the door Daichi had just closed. Locked. Yeah, that was understandable.

Tobio made his way back out to the living room, where the volume had increased a few levels. He put his empty bottle into the recycling bin, and saw Shouyou looking around for him. He handed him his beer and watched Shouyou drink the entire thing in a series of gulps. He raised an impressed eyebrow.

“Don’t get drunk,” Tobio admonished.

“Why not?” Shouyou yelled, and handed him the empty bottle. Tobio put it in the recycling and then Shouyou was grabbing his hand and pulling him into the collection of sweaty bodies.

At first, Tobio was turned off by being so close to so many people, but then the drink he had finished started to kick in, and he was feeling okay with the situation. Still not having a good time, but feeling okay.

Then Shouyou was dancing with him, and it was more than okay.

They were facing each other, pressed together, moving to the music. Shouyou was watching Tobio swivel his hips as he nodded in begrudging appreciation, making a “not bad” face. Shouyou turned around so he could shake his thick ass against Tobio’s crotch. It took everything he had to control himself and not turn the entire endeavor into X-rated foreplay. Fuck, his boyfriend was hot.

He tried to keep up with Shouyou’s moves as best as he could, but it was like trying to play a sport he had recently learned against an Olympic-level athlete. Tobio was an amateur in the ass-shaking department at best.

After a few songs, Shouyou yelled, “I’m thirsty!” into Tobio’s ear, so they peeled off to make their way back to the kitchen, where they each got a second ice-cold bottle of beer. Tobio drank most of it down immediately, grateful for the refreshment. Jumpsuits were sweaty. Maybe he should have worn less clothes, like Suga, who was headed in their direction.

“Shouyou!” Suga screamed, for the second time that evening. He was dragging a man behind him. His blonde hair was sticking up all over. His eyes were heavily lined in black, and he was wearing a red harness on his chest, with black short-shorts and what looked to be green garters, stretched to their limits over supple thighs encased in black stockings. “I found him! The guy I was telling you about earlier! Sexy Bakugo, doesn’t he look great?” Suga deposited the incredibly attractive man in front of them and ran off to scream at someone else.

Tobio tore his eyes off the man’s legs so he could look him in his face. He noticed he was looking at Shouyou with a smirk. And then Tobio saw who was behind the hot blonde.

Zero costume, pale face covered in a mask, black curly hair, two moles over a raised eyebrow. Kiyoomi.

Atsumu Miya as Sexy Bakugo

“Hey, Shouyou!” the blonde was saying, embracing Tobio’s boyfriend in a drunken hug. Kiyoomi and Tobio exchanged a glance. Kiyoomi spoke first.

“This is Shouyou?” he asked, looking the man in question up and down impassively. “From last year?”

The blonde nodded to Kiyoomi in response. He still had his arm thrown over Shouyou’s shoulders, like they were old friends. Tobio looked at Shouyou. He seemed… pinker than normal. What did he mean, ‘from last year’?

“Hey Atsumu, nice to see you again. Let me introduce you to my boyfriend,” Shouyou said, turning his body so sexy Bakugo—Atsumu—was facing him. “Atsumu, this is Tobio.”

“Tobio?” Atsumu said, eyes wide, dropping his arm off Shouyou’s shoulders. He turned to Kiyoomi. “Yer Tobio?”

Tobio wasn’t sure how to feel about “your Tobio.” What in the fuck did that mean? He scowled by way of a “nice to meet you.”

Kiyoomi nodded and suddenly Atsumu’s arms were around Tobio, hugging him tightly. He pressed his mouth against Tobio’s ear. Tobio could feel the heat Atsumu was emitting. His breath was as hot as his body.

“Thank ya, Tobio. Thank ya fer talkin’ to ‘im. Fer convincin’ ‘im,” Atsumu breathed. “Y’have no idea how ya—" he broke off his sentence, seemingly unable to get the rest out. He pulled away from Tobio’s ear and looked at him with teary eyes.

Tobio had literally no idea what the man was talking about. His face must have looked as confused as he felt, because as soon as Atsumu regarded his expression, he burst into laughter. He pulled his body away, grabbing Tobio by the shoulders. Then he kissed him on his forehead violently.

“C’mon Omi-Omi, let’s get back t'dancin’,” he yelled, turning away from a gobsmacked Tobio and an embarrassed Shouyou, grabbing Kiyoomi’s hand and dragging him back to the pulsing mass of people in the living room. Kiyoomi waved Tobio a half-hearted goodbye over his shoulder, and then Hurricane Atsumu was gone.

Tobio looked at Shouyou. He was still pink and his beer was now empty.

“What was that all about?” he asked, at the same time Shouyou said, “let’s get another drink!”

Tobio followed him into the kitchen, finishing his drink, putting his empty bottle into the recycling. He took the new bottle Shouyou offered him. By the time Tobio had fiddled with the bottle opener to get it uncapped, Shouyou’s was nearly done.

“Are you trying to get wasted?” Tobio said, bringing their faces closer, so he could be heard over the music from the living room and yelling from the dining room.

Shouyou responded by pressing their lips together. Tobio wasn’t expecting it. He almost dropped his beer in surprise. Shouyou put his empty bottle on the kitchen counter, and wrapped his arms around Tobio’s back as his tongue pushed into his mouth. Tobio groaned as one of Shouyou’s arms climbed up his back and fisted into his hair. Tobio blindly put his drink on the counter next to him, opening his eyes at the last minute to make sure he wasn’t about to drop it into thin air. Once he was sure he could let go, he grabbed Shouyou right back.

As his hand went up to run his fingers through his boyfriend’s hair, he realized he was still wearing the stupid green wig. He growled in between kisses, and he heard Shouyou laugh. His hand in Tobio’s hair moved to his own, and Shouyou ripped the wig off. That’s much better, Tobio thought, as he grabbed handfuls of his boyfriend’s hair, pulling his head back, making it easier to attack his jaw and neck with kisses.

Shouyou was moaning with every press of Tobio’s lips, scrabbling at his back with clawed fingers. Tobio moved to mouth behind Shouyou’s ear, and then asked him in a low rumble, “what the fuck is this all about?”

Shouyou whined incoherently as Tobio backed him up against the kitchen wall. He spread his legs so Tobio could slot his knee in between them. Tobio took the invitation, pressing his thigh into Shouyou’s dick. Tobio could feel how turned on Shouyou was and it flipped a switch in him immediately. He started grinding on Shouyou’s lithe body, right there in the kitchen. This couldn’t be passed off as dancing but Tobio didn’t give a damn.

“Tobio, please,” Shouyou was panting, his open mouth wet with their kisses, his eyes squeezed shut as he lost his fucking mind. “Please, take me home, please, I need you.”

Tobio pulled his phone out of his pocket. He pulled up the rideshare app as Shouyou unzipped the top of his jumpsuit and started sucking marks into his collarbones.

“We’ve only been here an hour, Shou,” he said, as he called the ride. He gasped as he felt Shouyou bite into him. The car was five minutes away. Shouyou didn’t seem like he could wait. Neither could he. Tobio went back to kissing him, feeling his boyfriend hump his leg as if he were a horny dog that couldn’t control itself.

Tobio heard the “your ride is here” notification and turned his body so his back was against Shouyou’s chest. He bent down, grabbing Shouyou’s wrists and pulling his arms over his shoulders. Now he had a red-headed backpack. A red-headed backpack with a thick erection he could feel pressing against his spine. A red-headed backpack licking the side of his neck like he couldn’t help himself. A red-headed backpack that wrapped his legs around him as Tobio carried him through the party and out the front door.

An embarrassing cab ride later, they were outside Tobio’s apartment.

Shouyou had Tobio’s jumpsuit unzipped to the waist and was attempting to pull it off his shoulders. Tobio was trying to unlock the front door, and it was hard when someone kept moving his clothes, because moving his clothes kept pulling his hands away from the doorknob. Eventually he put his keys back in his pocket, ripped the top of his jumpsuit off his shoulders, and then attempted to continue unlocking the door, as Shouyou nibbled his back and scratched his nails down his arms.

Finally, the door was open, and the two of them tumbled inside, kicking off their shoes quickly. Shouyou pushed Tobio into the hallway, pressing him against the wall to tug his hair, bringing their mouths together. Tobio was unzipping his jumpsuit as Shouyou started tonguing his nipples.

“Fuck, Shou, what’s gotten into you?” Tobio gasped, as Shouyou bit into the right side of his chest.

“I haven’t gotten into you, that’s the fucking problem,” Shouyou snarled, pushing him into the bedroom. Oh shit, Tobio thought. I think I’m in trouble.

Shouyou tossed Tobio onto the mattress like a rag doll. Tobio scooted up on the bed, pulling his clothes down over his hips as he arched his back and put his head into the pillows. Shouyou had already peeled off the rest of his costume, and was naked, crawling up Tobio’s body from the foot of the bed like a panther stalking its prey.

“Shouyou, what—” was all Tobio got out, before Shouyou’s mouth was descending again, and fuck it almost hurt, he was being kissed so hard, but double fuck, it felt so good.

Shouyou kneed Tobio’s legs apart, and rubbed their hard cocks against each other. They let out twin groans of pleasure, and Shouyou’s mouth was back on Tobio’s neck.

“Shouyou,” Tobio gasped. “Fuck, Shou, why—”

Shouyou reached over to the nightstand and took out the condoms and lube. He put them on the bed next to Tobio’s hip. He opened the lube, drizzled some on his hand. Tobio felt one slick finger pressed against his entrance. He looked at Shouyou with wide eyes.

Shouyou’s eyes were lidded, the black of the pupil almost completely overtaking the milk chocolate of his irises. He was licking his lips in anticipation. He leaned forward, pressing his head into Tobio’s neck, his mouth against his ear.

“What did you do, Tobio?” he purred, pushing one finger inside him. Tobio’s back came off the mattress as his eyes squeezed shut. Fuck he felt so good.

“Ah, ah, ah,” Tobio moaned, trying to remember how words worked, rocking into the finger as it went further inside him.

Shouyou kissed behind his ear, hard. There would be purple there tomorrow for sure. Shouyou kept pumping his finger in and out as he tongued the bruise.

“What did you fucking do, Tobio,” Shouyou repeated, slipping in a second finger beside the first. It was too soon but it burned so good. Tobio howled as he twisted and writhed on the sheets. His dick was dripping with anticipation.

“Shou,” Tobio gasped, eyes fluttering shut. “I don’t know what you’re talking about—”

Shouyou curved his fingers and pressed into Tobio’s prostate firmly, at the same time he sucked a second hickey into his neck. Oh fuck, I have work tomorrow and they’ll all see—

“Why did Atsumu call you his boyfriend’s Tobio,” Shouyou growled, forcing his fingers into him harder, faster. Tobio was nearly about to come, on Shouyou’s intense fingerfucking alone.

“Nh, nh, nh, oh fuck Shouyou,” Tobio cried out.

“I’m going to stop if you don’t fucking tell me,” Shouyou said, and now his mouth was on the other side of Tobio’s neck, punishing him with teeth and tongue.

Did Tobio want him to stop? Fuck, he didn’t want to tell Shouyou anything about his embarrassing time in Suga’s closet but he also was so close

Shouyou stilled his fingers and Tobio felt tears prick the corners of his eyes.

“I’ll tell you, please,” Tobio said, realizing he was begging but not having enough pride left to care. “Please don’t stop,” he sobbed.

Shouyou’s fingers moved in and out, slowly. Tobio started shaking as he felt his body back down from the orgasm he was chasing.

“Go on,” Shouyou said, as he added a third finger. Tobio’s toes curled.

“I met him—at Suga’s New Year’s party—” Tobio started, words coming out as breaths. “He taught me how to dance—he was touching me—” Shouyou’s fingers had started pumping again, and Tobio found speech difficult.

“And then what, Tobio, tell me,” Shouyou said, still moving his fingers. Tobio was right there all over again.

“He took me to the coat closet,” Tobio gasped. “nnnhhhh—I’m gonna come—”

Shouyou slowed his fingers again, avoiding the spot that would send Tobio over the edge. Now the tears in his eyelashes were there out of frustration.

“Tell me what you fucking did,” Shouyou said, almost kindly. His fingers were slow, no purpose to them. Fuck, Tobio was close. And then, he could feel his release gradually easing back. Shouyou withdrew his fingers gently.

“Shouyou, please,” Tobio cried, a broken sob. His eyes were still closed. He heard Shouyou open a condom, heard the click of the lube opening. And then he felt him pressing deep inside him, with his dick this time, and Tobio’s eyes were wide open again.

“Tobio,” Shouyou said, quietly. Dangerously.

“Nh, nh, nh,” Tobio whined, legs shaking. His hips wanted to thrust up but Shouyou was pinning them down, pushing in so slowly it was maddening.

“You want me to fuck you, Tobio?” Shouyou asked, pulling his thick cock out only an inch, sinking it back in.

It was hard for Tobio to answer. It was hard for Tobio to breathe. He could only gasp a barely audible “yes.”

Shouyou continued his snails-pace forward momentum.

“Then you have to tell me, Tobio.”

“Why do you want to know so bad?” Tobio cried.

“Do you feel what you’re doing to me?” Shouyou rumbled. “You like doing this to me,” he said, answering his own question.

“I—I—” Tobio heaved, unable to continue, and Shouyou stopped.

“If you want me to keep going, you have to keep talking,” he whispered, as Tobio twitched around the length buried in him and his tears fell.

Tobio took a heavy, shuddering breath. “He was kissing me,” he answered. “And I—”

Shouyou bottomed out and Tobio felt him deep inside, throbbing. Tobio keened, a moan that was pure lust.

“And then?” Shouyou said, pulling out slightly, pushing himself back in.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Tobio gasped. “I got on my knees—fuck—”

Shouyou was fucking into him slowly, not giving him what he wanted, but at least giving him something. He leaned over Tobio’s body, finally releasing his hips, putting his arms on either side of his head, looking into his face. Tobio gazed upon him with wide eyes, nearly terrified by how much he wanted Shouyou to pound his ass into submission.

“Did you suck his dick, Tobio?” Shouyou asked, punctuating his question with an unforgiving thrust.

Tobio’s eyes squeezed shut as he nodded, rolling his hips, trying to take Shouyou deeper.

“Say it,” Shouyou said, again, driving his cock into his ass again.

“I sucked his dick,” Tobio sobbed. Now Shouyou was finally fucking him, finally giving him what he wanted. “Please, Shouyou, please, fuck me harder,” he begged.

“Did you like it?” Shouyou said, pushing up on one arm, raising Tobio’s left leg and throwing it over his shoulder as he plunged into him. Tobio was nearly screaming at this point, the new angle turning every thrust into a precise attack on his prostate. He was incredibly close to coming, having been brought right to the edge twice before. Then suddenly Shouyou was slowing down.

“I’m not going to keep going unless you answer me, Tobio,” Shouyou demanded.

“Yes, yes, yes,” Tobio wailed, wide-eyed and writhing, and Shouyou responded by fucking him relentlessly. Tobio would literally have said anything to make him keep going. “He fucked my mouth, Shouyou, I took his cock deep in my throat—ngh—please don’t stop, I’m right there,” he begged.

He was hanging on the edge. He was shaking all over, sweat dripping down his chest, tears running over his cheeks. He knew he looked wrecked. Shouyou was pumping his hips faster and faster, watching Tobio’s face.

“I won’t stop if you don’t,” he ordered. “Did he come in your mouth? Did you like it?”

“Fuck, Shouyou, I did, I fucking loved it, I love the taste, you know I do, ah, ah, ahhh,” Tobio cried, and then he was finally coming, dick completely untouched, and it was overwhelming, because he had been so close for so long and it was so much, it was everywhere. Tobio saw stars popping behind his eyelids, felt like a deflated balloon, felt like his brain had up and left the building. Shouyou fucked him through his orgasm softly, gently, and Tobio’s dick twitched and pulsed with every movement. Finally Shouyou decided that Tobio had had enough, and he slipped out. Tobio whined at the loss.

“What abou—what, you?” Tobio murmured, trying to make sense and failing miserably. Then he felt the weight of Shouyou’s knees pressing into the bed on either side of his head. He didn’t even realize what was happening until the head of Shouyou’s dick was between his lips. He groaned as Shouyou slid into his mouth, pulling his hair to bring his head all the way down to the base of his cock. All Tobio could do was moan incoherently.

“You like that,” Shouyou said, thrusting into his mouth wetly, as Tobio brought his hands up to Shouyou’s ass, encouraging him to go even deeper. “Fuck, you’re such a cum whore, aren’t you?” Tobio tried to nod but his stuffed throat made it difficult. So he tried to say “uh huh,” but it just came out as more moaning. This seemed to encourage Shouyou to fuck into his mouth even harder.

“But not just my cum, huh?” Shouyou kept saying, as Tobio gripped his hips and brought them to his face furiously, swallowing around the head of the cock buried in his throat as the pressure and tears and snot made it hard to breathe. “You’ll take it from anyone, you don’t care.” Tobio whined, furrowing his eyebrows. He hoped Shouyou could tell he was saying “no” with the moans around his dick. It was true, Shouyou’s was the best, even if his experience was limited. He loved it the most. Over Kiyoomi’s, over his own.

“I’m close, Tobio, you gonna swallow it, drink it down? Like you did in the closet? Hm?” Tobio was just a wet hole at this point. Shouyou didn’t care that he was suffocating or that tears were flowing freely down his cheeks. He only wanted to come, and Tobio was on the same fucking page. That’s all he wanted, too, breathing be damned. He hummed, egging him on, fingers gripping tightly, leaving marks on Shouyou’s hips that would definitely bruise.

“Unh, unh, fuck, Tobio,” Shouyou gasped, and then he was coming down Tobio’s throat, filling his mouth. Tobio gagged one last time but choked it down, swallowing around Shouyou’s dick, running his tongue over as much of it as he could, using his numb lips to suck around the base, making sure there wasn’t any delicious cum left for him to taste.

Shouyou seemed boneless, just as worn out as Tobio was. He fell onto his left knee and rolled to the side, back against the headboard, panting. Tobio turned onto his hip, following him. His mouth was sore and swollen but he still brought it to meet Shouyou’s, kissing him deeply as he kneeled in front of him, hands braced against the wall. He sucked Shouyou’s bottom lip between his own, reveling in the pleasurable moan that was Shouyou’s answer.

“You taste the best,” Tobio said, in a gravelly voice, hoarse from the delightful torment. “I only want to taste you,” he added. Shouyou keened in response. Tobio covered his jaw in gentle kisses, pressing his lips into his lover’s neck and mouthing at his chest.

“Uh, Tobiohhhhh,” Shouyou groaned, as Tobio started to lick his left nipple, rubbing his newly hardening length against his right leg. “Unh, you’re so turned on by sucking dick,” he trailed off, arching his back as Tobio brought the barbell between his teeth.

“Just yours,” Tobio murmured, moving his mouth to Shouyou’s other nipple.

Shouyou laughed. “Yeah, right, you’re telling me you just sucked that hot guy’s cock in the fucking closet and then just went home?” His laughs turned into groans, as Tobio sucked a hickey on the right side of his chest.

“I tried,” Tobio said, moving further down the bed, pulling Shouyou’s knees so he was on his back. He moved his mouth along Shouyou’s ribs, marking him in a line of bruises, tasting the salt of his sweaty sheen. “I couldn’t go through with it.”

Shouyou gasped. He grabbed Tobio by the hair and pulled his face up gently. “What?”

“I didn’t want…” Tobio looked away, away from Shouyou’s eyes. They were too intense.

“What, baby?” Shouyou asked, kissing his lips lovingly, gently running his fingers along his cheek. Tobio brought his eyes back to meet the gaze of the man he loved.

“His hair was all wrong, and I realized—" Tobio whispered, bringing their lips together. He tugged on Shouyou’s hair as he deepened the kiss. He pulled away. “I didn’t want him.”

Shouyou licked into his mouth and pulled away. “Oh, Tobio,” he sighed.

He flipped them over so he was on top. Tobio’s breathing got faster as Shouyou straddled him. Shouyou leaned forward, kissing him deeply, dragging his nails against his scalp. Tobio felt chills run down his spine. Shouyou moved his mouth to Tobio’s neck.

“You wanna keep going?” he asked, and Tobio shivered again. Shouyou chuckled lowly. He sat up and rubbed his hands through the mess Tobio had left all over himself when Shouyou had finally let him come. He tsked and shook his head. “You made a mess, Tobio.”

“I’m sorry, nhhhh,” Tobio said, as Shouyou wrapped a hand around his dick, which was quickly becoming hard again.

“You want some attention here?” Shouyou asked, pumping his hand up and down slowly.

“Unh, yes, Shou,” Tobio moaned.

“Maybe I can tell you about how Atsumu fucked me?” Shouyou whispered into Tobio’s ear, before kissing down his neck.

It was a sensation like two wires were crossed. On the one hand, Shouyou’s hands and mouth were incredibly arousing; Tobio’s dick was leaking with every stroke. On the other hand, he didn’t want to hear about his boyfriend doing anything with anyone else. If that got Shouyou off, no problem, Tobio wasn’t going to kinkshame. He just didn’t want any part of it.

“Shouyou, I—”

Shouyou wouldn’t be deterred, moving his mouth to the other side of his neck. “You wanna hear about how I rode his fat cock, Tobio?”

An image penetrated Tobio’s consciousness against his will: Shouyou’s thick ass, bouncing on Atsumu’s dick, his legs parted on either side of Atsumu’s luscious thighs. That was it, he was done.

Shouyou figured it out immediately, his hand slowing around his softening cock. He pulled his mouth off of the bruise he was making on Tobio’s collarbone to look at him. He must not have liked what he saw.

“What’s wrong?” Shouyou said, sitting up, putting some distance between them. Tobio didn’t like the expression on his face. It looked almost like he was scared. Tobio reached out to caress his cheek, and watched him hold back a flinch.

Tobio lowered his hand.

“I love you,” he said. “And I’m sorry, I don’t—I don’t want to think of you like that,” he added. He was suddenly very interested in what his fingers were up to. The thumb of his right hand traced the knuckle of his left. Fuck, this nail was a fucking mess. When had he done this to himself?

“Oh,” Shouyou said, in a small, quiet voice. Tobio glanced up. His boyfriend was sitting up now, his legs folded up to his chest. His head was resting on a knee. His head was pointed in Tobio’s direction but his eyes were focused on the bedsheets.

Great, Tobio thought. I ruined a perfectly good time.

Why couldn’t he just go along with whatever Shouyou wanted? That would have made everything better. He was such an idiot.

He swung his legs over to the left side of the bed, putting his feet down. He collected his boxer briefs from inside his jumpsuit, finding them from where they had been tossed on the floor earlier. He started looking for the clothes he had worn to Shouyou’s house, before he had changed into the ridiculous costume. Fuck, that’s right. It was still Halloween. He should probably take a shower. He was still covered in makeup. He kept looking for his clothes. Maybe they were under the bed?

----------

Shouyou felt fucking terrible.

Of course, some people weren’t into hearing about their lover’s past exploits. Shouyou would hazard a guess that most people didn’t want to hear about the person they loved fucking someone else. He couldn’t help it if it turned it on so much. The idea that Tobio blew some beautiful stranger in a closet at a party? That was something he never would have imagined Tobio doing. And fuck, that was hot. But now his boyfriend was uncomfortable and he was about to leave and Shouyou felt like an asshole.

“I’m sorry,” Shouyou said, and Tobio turned to look at him. “I’m sorry I upset you.”

He watched Tobio sigh.

“You don’t have to apologize.” Tobio sat back down on the edge of the bed. “I liked how turned on you were when I was talking about… that. I just don’t like it the same way you do. I’m not as… experienced as you, I guess.”

Now he looked embarrassed and that made Shouyou feel even worse.

“That’s okay, Tobio,” he said, and he reached his hand out. Tobio intertwined their fingers and a smile broke out across Shouyou’s face. “Everyone likes different things. That’s what makes people interesting.”

“So I’m not… weird?” Tobio asked, looking down at their hands, clasped together on the bedspread. “For not liking it?”

“Oh, Tobio,” Shouyou said, feeling his chest warm all over. He pulled Tobio’s hand off the bed, wrapping it around his waist as he got into his favorite position, sitting on Tobio’s lap. “You’re not weird to me. Never.”

Tobio answered with a slight smile of his own.

Shouyou took this as a sign of encouragement. He brought his hand up to Tobio’s face and caressed him. Tobio’s eyes closed slowly. Shouyou pressed a kiss into each of his eyelids. Tobio’s mouth parted slightly. Shouyou followed up his soft kisses with a firmer kiss to his lips. Tobio raised his chin, tilting it to the right, and opened his mouth. Shouyou pressed his tongue inside. When Tobio answered with a sultry moan, Shouyou’s dick twitched. Shouyou pulled away from his lover’s lips.

“Let me make it up to you,” Shouyou whispered.

“You don’t have to make anything up.”

“But I want to.”

“How?” Tobio breathed.

Shouyou pushed Tobio back, so he was laying flat on the bed. He rubbed his hand against Tobio’s thick cock, hard again and straining against his underwear. Shouyou pulled the waistband down, releasing his dick. Tobio was moaning softly as Shouyou surrounded him with his hand.

“I’m going to suck your cock, okay?” he asked, watching Tobio’s face as his eyes rolled back into his head, as he began to tremble.

“Yeah, Shou, yeah,” he panted.

Shouyou felt on the bed for the lube, and slicked up a finger, licking the back of Tobio’s dick with a fat tongue as he pressed a finger inside him.

“And you’re going to come in my mouth,” Shouyou explained, feeling Tobio squeeze around him in arousal as he pumped his finger in and out.

“Okay,” Tobio said, writhing on the sheets as Shouyou added a second finger. “Nh, yes, Shou, fuck.”

“And then I’m going to give it back to you,” Shouyou said, plunging his mouth onto Tobio’s cock as he curved his fingers into his sweet spot. Tobio answered the action with a high-pitched whine, as Shouyou bobbed his head.

Shouyou started stroking his own dick with his other hand. What could he say, seeing Tobio reduced to such a mess really did it for him. He was soon hard again, and now Tobio was riding his fingers and fucking into his mouth.

“Close, Shou, fuck, please,” Tobio gasped, and Shouyou moved to the tip of his dick, wrapping his tongue around it, sucking with his lips. Shouyou felt Tobio clench around his fingers, and spill hot cum into his mouth. Shouyou licked all the cum out of Tobio’s slit, but he didn’t swallow it. He kept it on his tongue, feeling his mouth fill with spit around the salty substance. He slowly slipped his fingers out of Tobio’s ass and crawled on his knees up to his face.

Tobio’s eyes were open, but barely. Shouyou could see only a rim of blue around his dark pupils. His lips were parted, and he was slowly catching his breath. Shouyou raised Tobio’s chin with his hand, and that seemed to wake him up a bit.

Shouyou put his clean finger onto Tobio’s tongue, forcing his lips apart. Now Tobio’s mouth was open and so were his eyes, misty with desire even though he had already come twice.

Shouyou threw his leg over Tobio’s waist, sitting on him, so they were face to face. Then he slowly let the mixture of his saliva and Tobio’s cum drip out of his lips.

As soon as Tobio understood what was happening, he opened his mouth wide. Shouyou watched him swallow every drop and lick his lips. Tobio moaned loudly, as his whole body writhed in pleasure.

When Shouyou was done, Tobio pressed their mouths together, licking into him, as if he was making sure there was no tasty drop left for him to drink down.  His back arched and Shouyou wanted him so bad.

“Ride me?” he asked, rubbing his hard dick over his boyfriend’s abs.

Tobio growled, and turned them over, so Shouyou was on the bottom. He opened a condom and rolled it onto Shouyou’s cock. He put one knee on either side of Shouyou’s hips, and started lowering himself down.

Fuck, he felt so good. Shouyou had already come once today, but Tobio’s tight heat always guaranteed a reaction. He let his lover sink down slowly, though. He didn’t want to rush.

Before long, he was fully inside and rolling his hips. Tobio leaned forward, putting his weight onto his arms, kissing Shouyou deeply as he ground down on his dick, pushing it in and out of himself. Shouyou met him thrust for thrust, pumping even deeper inside him as Tobio moaned into their joined mouths.

“Fuck, Shou, you feel so good, it’s too much,” Tobio said, pulling away from the kiss to gasp as Shouyou hit his sweet spot.

Shouyou reached his hand down to find Tobio half hard again.

“You don’t seem to mind,” Shouyou said, and began stroking his cock in time with the motion of his thrusts.

“Nhh, nhh,” Tobio moaned, and went back to sticking his tongue down Shouyou’s throat. Shouyou responded to the kiss with a quick snap of his hips, plowing into Tobio’s ass, finding the angle that would make him the most desperate. He moved his hand faster, using the precum Tobio was dripping to twist his wrist over the tip. He was getting close too, but he wanted to get Tobio off one last time.

“Come on, Tobio, I know you can come for me again,” Shouyou panted, fucking up into Tobio wildly. “Let me feel you.”

Tobio pushed off his hands to sit upright, gyrating his hips. He was covered in sweat, abs rippling, head thrown back, hair plastered to his forehead. He looked fucking beautiful.

“Fuck, Shou, I’m so close,” Tobio moaned, and Shouyou fucked him with his dick and his fist even harder. It was bringing him closer and closer to coming, too.

“Me too, Tobio, fuck, come for me, come for me, ngh—”

He couldn’t hold back any longer. Shouyou felt Tobio tighten around him as he came. Tobio's pulsing muscles squeezed his dick, drawing out the last of his orgasm, and then he spurted his own cum into Shouyou’s fist.  Shouyou stroked him gently from root to tip, making sure he was completely wrung dry.

Only once he was sure he had it all did he offer Tobio the handful.

Tobio ran his tongue over every inch, licking each of Shouyou’s fingers clean.

“Good boy,” Shouyou murmured, feeling Tobio shudder at the praise, listening to him moan, feeling him tighten around his cock one last time. “Such a good boy.”

Chapter Text

Shouyou woke up bright and early, refreshed and satisfied. Who knew leaving a party because he was a horny mess would actually end up with going to bed early and getting a full night’s sleep? He stretched out his delightfully sore body, thinking about last night, thinking about yesterday, thinking about Halloween, thinking about Charlotte, thinking about what Charlotte had asked him in the car.

Shouyou didn’t know how to bring up the subject.

It was true, Tobio was at his place almost every night.

It was true, Tobio loved him very much and he loved him right back.

It was true, they had already been together for eight months, eleven if you counted the time they were together before they took a little break to have their heads up their asses, and even though the last three months had been the worst three months of Shouyou’s life so far, that wasn’t Tobio’s fault. He was the only person keeping him sane him most days. Tobio was getting him through his season of shit.

It’s November first, he realized. He always loved the first of the month. Maybe because it was the time where he got to change all the calendars and décor in his classroom. He was a slut for monthly themes. It was probably the real reason he had become an elementary school teacher, so he could have bulletin boards for every holiday. November’s theme was Thanksgiving, of course.

He had so much to be thankful for. He rolled over so he could look at Tobio, whose love and kindness were at top of the gratitude list. Who was also awake and looking back at him.

“Good morning,” the love of his life rumbled, a trace of the lipstick from his costume still smeared on his forehead. He was probably too out of it to wash his face properly by the time they had finally made it to the shower last night.

“Happy November,” Shouyou said, looking into his eyes, diving deep into their depths, swimming along the surface of the love he could see there. The eyes that were now crinkling in a sleepy confusion.

“Okay,” Tobio huffed a laugh at the strange greeting. “Happy November to you, too.”

“Move in with me,” Shouyou blurted out, before clasping a hand over his mouth as if he were shutting the castle gates against a siege. Tobio’s eyebrows were raised now, disappearing under his shock of black hair that never seemed to tangle.

“I’m sorry, what?” Tobio asked. Shouyou turned red, closed his eyes, shook his head, kept his hand over his mouth. He felt Tobio’s strong arms prying his fingers off his lips. Shouyou let him peel his hands back for a few moments, until Tobio had almost gotten them off his face. Then he actually offered some resistance, and Tobio started straining in his effort. Shouyou smiled underneath his palm. Jiu Jitsu purple belt, motherfucker.

Tobio gave up on his attempt at wrist control. He took a deep breath in defeat and rolled onto his spine. Shouyou opened his eyes and saw his boyfriend staring at the ceiling. He finally took his hands off his mouth and climbed Mount Kageyama, laying over his boyfriend’s body, clasping his hands over Tobio’s heart, perching his chin on top of them. Tobio had to move his neck to a weird angle to look down at Shouyou’s eyes.

“I can see up your nose,” Shouyou said. Tobio grabbed his pillow, smacked him with it, and then put it over his face.

Through the pillow, Shouyou could hear him muttering.

“What was that? Hmm?” Shouyou said loudly, pressing his face into the pillow, like he was yelling at Tobio through a wall.  Tobio moved the pillow and startled a bit when he saw Shouyou’s face hovering only a half-inch above his own.

“I said,” Tobio mumbled, “why do you want me to move in with you?” He seemed embarrassed by his question. His eyes were looking away.

“We’ve been together for a while now. You basically live here already,” Shouyou said. “You go home like, once a week.”

“Logical appeal,” Tobio agreed. He still wouldn’t meet Shouyou’s gaze.

“Charlotte loves you,” he added. “She wants you around all the time. I do too, of course. I love you.”

“Emotional appeal.”

“What’s left?” Shouyou asked. Rhetoric wasn’t his forte. He was a man of action, not words.

“Ethical appeal,” Tobio answered.

“Ethics, like, morality? Like, it’s the right thing to do, for you to move in with us?” Shouyou frowned as he tried to think of some words that could prove beyond a doubt that Tobio moving in was morally correct.

“It’s not like that, it’s about trust,” Tobio said softly. “Why I should trust you enough to be persuaded by your argument.” He still seemed embarrassed. Even after all their time together he could be so adorably bashful. Shouyou loved him so much.

“Tobio, look at me,” he said. Tobio looked up at the ceiling instead. “Come on,” Shouyou implored. Tobio finally brought his blue irises down to meet dark bronze ones.

Shouyou whispered. “You’re always there for me, and I wanna be there for you.” He licked his lips. “I want us to be together. I want to stay with you.”

From his hands’ position over his heart, Shouyou could feel the moment where Tobio’s heart began to beat faster. “Okay,” he said quietly.

“I love you, Tobio Kageyama. I trust you enough to share my life with you, will you—” Shouyou took a breath, it was a little hard to breathe for some reason. “Will you trust me too?”

Tobio closed his eyes. “I want to, Shou. I just—” he sighed shakily. “It’s kind of a lot?”

Shouyou nodded, trying to be understanding, but he was disappointed. Of course he wanted Tobio to say yes, he wouldn’t have asked if he wanted Tobio to say no. He slid off of his boyfriend’s body and rolled onto his side, facing the bedroom door. He wasn’t going to cry. Tobio could think about it for a little bit. He was allowed to think about it. Really, Shouyou should be happy Tobio was being responsible. Usually Shouyou was the responsible one, single dad and all. He should be happy.

He didn’t feel happy. He felt a tear roll down his cheek. Big surprise there. He was Shouyou Hinata after all. Happy? Tears. Sad? Tears. Angry? Tears. It was kind of his default emotional response.

He let out a pathetic sniffle accidentally-on-purpose. He felt Tobio roll onto his side as well, felt his left arm snake under his pillow, felt his right arm wrap around his waist. Tobio’s hand moved up his chest until his long fingers were splayed over his heart.

“Mine,” Tobio whispered, into Shouyou’s ear, pressing a kiss just behind it.

Shouyou nodded, and he was crying in earnest. He put his right hand over Tobio’s.  “Yours.”

“Please don’t cry,” Tobio mumbled. “I love you, Shouyou.”

Shouyou didn’t want to guilt Tobio into anything. But he couldn’t help himself. “If you love me, then why won’t you stay with me?” He hated himself as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He knew it was unfair to use Tobio’s love against him like that. He apologized immediately. “I’m sorry.”

“What?” Tobio asked, and Shouyou could hear his confused frown. Damn, he really did know this man inside and out. He turned to face him to visually confirm it. Yup, there it was.

“I shouldn’t have said that. I shouldn’t try to pressure you. You should move in because you want to, not because I make you feel like you have to. That isn’t right. It’s manipulative and I’m sorry.” He closed his eyes in shame.

“I forgive you,” Tobio said. He always forgave Shouyou so easily. Shouyou didn’t deserve it. He felt him press a kiss into his left eyelid, and then his right. “I trust you, too,” Tobio added.

Shouyou smiled. He opened his eyes. Tobio was smiling back at him.

“I trust you,” Tobio repeated, and Shouyou’s eyes widened in excitement.

“Really?” he said, sitting up from the bed onto his hands, staring the man he loved in the face. “Really really?”

“Really really,” Tobio grinned. It was all he got out before Shouyou attacked him with happy kisses.

----------

Tobio was packing. He was moving for the first time in almost ten years.

It was weird. He’d been in this apartment since he graduated college. He figured he’d live there alone and always. It was in a convenient neighborhood, the rent was affordable, the size was acceptable.

And then Shouyou and Charlotte came into his life, and suddenly there wasn’t enough room anymore, and it wasn’t uncomfortable to run out of room. It felt good.

Suga had offered to come over and help him pack, and Tobio absolutely shut that shit down. He knew Suga just wanted blackmail material. Or a chance to judge his choice in books. Tobio wasn’t about to suffer that foolishness.

Kiyoko, on the other hand, Kiyoko already knew all his bullshit. So she was allowed to help.

“Living together already, hm? Isn’t that moving a little fast?” she said, putting his manga into cardboard boxes.

Aw, fuck, he had forgotten somehow, hanging out with Kiyoko came with a free therapy session, conveniently held in your home and against your will.

“Here I was, trying to spend time with my cousin,” Tobio grumbled. “Serves me right.”

Kiyoko laughed, in that subtle way that always felt like she knew something he didn’t. “I’m not against it! If you found someone who can deal with your grumpy ass, you should grab on tight and never let go, Tobio.”

He agreed with her on that point, at least.

She played nice and didn’t insinuate that Shouyou was making a huge mistake for the rest of the afternoon, and only bugged him about his bloody fingers twice. On her best behavior.

Tobio glanced at his watch. Shouyou and Charlotte got out of school in an hour. They were all going to have dinner together and then head to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. There was a special event that night: a workshop led by the Master of the BJJ system Shouyou studied under. The Master usually taught at Headquarters, which is what everyone called the main gym, but he was coming out to Shouyou’s branch for the night to teach a lesson, and afterward there would be some promotions. Shouyou’s theory was that the Master was coming to the promotions because Bokuto was finally getting his black belt, which was a huge fucking deal. He had invited Tobio because he wanted a huge crowd for the Master’s lesson and to support Bokuto on his hopefully big day. Tobio agreed, of course. He was always interested in what Shouyou was up to. He loved supporting him in all his endeavors. He had been back to the gym quite a few times since the first class they had taken together nine months ago. He liked it, it was more violent than yoga and an even better workout.

Kiyoko noticed him checking the time. “Sick of me already?”

Tobio rolled his eyes. “Like you wouldn’t know if I was. I can’t hide anything from you.”

“Doesn’t stop you from trying,” she said, as she taped a box shut. “I can’t believe packing this place up only took a few hours.”

Tobio looked around at the boxes. He could believe it. He was never one for “stuff,” and he was only one guy.

“You guys have a truck for Saturday, right?” she asked, and Tobio nodded.

“Do you want a couch?” he offered, pointing to the living room. “Or a coffee table, or a dining set?” He had already promised the bedroom furniture to Suga, in exchange for him convincing Daichi to let them borrow his truck.

Kiyoko sat down on the couch, testing it out. “Nah, mine is more comfortable,” she said. “I like the table and chairs, though. Can you bring ‘em by on Saturday?”

Tobio sighed, annoyed. Kiyoko raised an eyebrow.

“Since you helped me pack, fine,” Tobio agreed. He’d pay Daichi some extra gas money.

He made it to Shouyou’s with an hour to make dinner before his boyfriend came home. Tobio looked around. This was going to be his home, too. He chopped vegetables and looked around the kitchen. This would be his kitchen. He looked at the knife in his hand. Good thing his knives would be here soon. Shouyou’s knives were a disgrace.

Then Shouyou and Charlie were home, and cheering because it was chili for dinner, and that meant sour cream, cheese, and chips, and Tobio tried to argue that none of those things described the chili he had spent an hour making, but his tangerine and his cutie were so happy he didn’t want to explain any further. He just let them have their joy and smiled along with them.

After dinner, Tobio washed the dishes while Shouyou washed his daughter, and then it was twenty minutes to seven and they were all headed to the gym.

There were way more people than usual. The mat was packed. Tobio felt really out of place, but Shouyou assured him nobody cared, and that it was too much of an honor to take a class from the system’s top-ranked guy to feel self-conscious. Tobio took his word for it and immediately felt even more self-conscious.  He was just glad Shouyou had agreed to be his partner, and not just for the class. In every way.

He stretched awkwardly while Shouyou and Bokuto talked about their last tournament. After Shouyou’s first competition, he had immediately signed up for the next one, six weeks later, and that time he had won gold. Bokuto had been there too, competing in the black belt division even though he was a brown belt. He cornered for Shouyou during his matches, yelling at him non-stop the entire time. Tobio had only understood one word in ten. Shouyou swore that coaching helped him win, and after that tournament, Shouyou signed up for another one in January. He had really caught the bug. Tobio was proud of him. Tobio was always proud of him.

The class was a little shorter than usual due to the promotions. They all sat in a circle, sweaty from the lesson, and listened to the Master wax poetic about the human chess which was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He told a bunch of jokes that sailed over Tobio’s head, but then he was describing the responsibility of being a black belt, and handing one to Bokuto, and the whole gym was losing their fucking minds, cheering as they all took a turn to hug him in congratulations.

But the Master wasn’t done. Once everyone settled down again, he talked about how the higher belts were not only teachers, they were ambassadors for the sport, and how winning competitions brought glory to the gym.  

Huh, sounds like Shouyou. Tobio looked over at his boyfriend, who was hanging on every word like an acolyte listening to a prophet.

And then it was Bokuto’s turn to speak, and he was talking about his “little buddy” who was always “helping out” and had “stamina for days” and was able to tap everyone out except him. Now that really sounds like Shouyou, Tobio thought. Then Bokuto was saying “Shouyou Hinata,” and holding out a brown belt. Tobio watched Shouyou start crying his happy tears as he stood up to face Bokuto, attempting to respectfully bow before he was crushed in a hug. Once he wriggled out of Bokuto’s clutches, he bowed deeply to the Master as well, and the whole gym was cheering. Tobio joined in with all his heart. Everyone rushed Shouyou to hug him, and Tobio was almost jealous for a second, before he realized that he was an outsider looking in, and he should wait his turn.

After all, he was the one who got to take Shouyou home.

----------

What an exciting week.

On Tuesday, he had gotten his brown belt, which he hadn’t expected at all. He was going to need all new rashguards. Good thing Christmas was coming up.

And then today, Tobio had moved in. The Saturday had started with driving the dining set over to Kiyoko’s. She lived all the way on the other side of Seattle and there was traffic for some reason, even though it was the weekend. Then there was the endless box-into-truck, drive, box-out-of-truck dance that took forever. They had to take a break in the middle so Tobio could buy everyone pizza and beer. The day finally ended only after they had helped Suga set up his new furniture in his bedroom, and suffered through more than a few dirty jokes about how the mattress seemed like it hadn’t seen much action. Then Shouyou and Tobio were finally on their way back home.

Back to their home.

As soon as they got in the door, Shouyou made a beeline to the bathroom. He felt sweaty and gross and not in a good way.

In the shower, he thought about Tobio, and not just because he was naked and rubbing himself all over. He thought about how far they’d come. Remembered how angry Tobio used to be, remembered how they both used to run away from their problems instead of facing them. And now they were living together, Charlotte was calling him Papa… they could be a family.

He finished his extra-long shower, got dressed, and came out to the living room to see that Tobio had warmed them up a quick dinner of leftovers. After they ate, Tobio showered himself, and then joined Shouyou back at the dining table where he was still sitting. They stayed there in mutual exhaustion, looking around at all the boxes.

“I don’t know where the books are going to go,” Shouyou said. The books were definitely most of what was in the boxes. At least as far as weight went. Why did Tobio have so many books? He worked at a library, couldn’t he just check that shit out for free?

“On the bookshelves,” Tobio said, jerking his chin toward the three black bookshelves stacked one in front of the other, next to the TV.

“I don’t know where the bookshelves are going to go, then,” Shouyou said. He had the one long wall, and the couch was against it.

“What if we move the couch here,” Tobio said, motioning to a ninety-degree angle from where it was currently situated. “And move the TV to this wall over here. Then, you would have a bit of an entryway area, and you could put the shoe rack here.” He motioned to behind where the couch would be. “Then the couch wall could become the wall of bookshelves.”

Shouyou pictured it. That might work. He nodded. “As long as we can fit your stuff where it goes and put it all away,” Shouyou said. “I want these boxes unpacked as soon as possible. Charlotte doesn’t do well with everything just everywhere.”

“I know, I know,” Tobio agreed. “She’s the only one allowed to leave things everywhere. It’s true.”

Shouyou giggled. He loved this man. He loved sitting at their dining table, eating Tobio’s cooking, feeling their knees pressed against each other. He enjoyed the peaceful relaxation falling over them both.

“I think we can get it done tomorrow, before we pick her up.” Tobio declared. “I just have to go to the hardware store and get braces to mount the bookcases to the wall. Safety first.”

“Safety first,” Shouyou agreed. It was as good of a transition as he could have hoped for. “Hey, Tobio?”

Tobio looked at him, a worried furrow in his brow appearing at the tone in Shouyou’s voice. “Yeah?”

“I know you said you got tested, back in February. When we started talking again, after—everything.” He felt a little awkward, but he knew the conversation was important. “Have you been with anyone else since then?”

Tobio seemed a bit offended. “I was waiting for you to love me back,” he said, blinking. “So no, I wasn’t with anyone else.”

“Sorry, I just wanted to make sure,” Shouyou said. Tobio was looking at him with such a strange expression he felt embarrassed.

“What about you, did you get tested when I did, when I said you should?” Tobio asked gently. Shouyou nodded. “And have you been with anyone else since then?” Shouyou shook his head. “Shou, is something wrong?”

“No,” Shouyou said. “I just want you to fuck me without a condom.”

Tobio’s face said it all. He wasn’t expecting that. “We’ve never,” he started, and then words failed him and he trailed off.

“Yeah, I usually don’t,” Shouyou agreed. There was the whole, making Charlotte thing. Other than that he wasn’t in the habit.

“But you want to, with me,” Tobio continued.

“Yeah.”

Tobio seemed to think about it for a moment, as if he were trying to figure out what to say. He finally decided on, “it’s going to make a mess.”

Shouyou grinned. “Oh, I’m counting on it.”

----------

Tobio was so fucking terrified of fucking something up.

Just when he got used to all the sexy things they were up to, Shouyou threw more at him. He constantly felt the pressure of trying to make things okay for his boyfriend. Trying to make him happy, trying to make him feel good. When Shouyou threw that “spank my ass” shit at him, he played along but he was fucking terrified on the inside. Never mind the whole “tell me about the closet” thing. Fuck.

Needless to say, he was in his head a bit.

Shouyou pushed him into the bedroom. Their bedroom, kissing him as he backed him up into the bed. Shouyou peeled off his T-shirt for him and laid him down on his back. Okay, so far so good, this was all mostly normal. Tobio tried to even out his breathing, tried to separate the breathing that was turned on from the breathing that was nervous. But they seemed too similar to break apart.

“Tobio?” Shouyou asked. Tobio hadn’t even realized he had stopped kissing him. When did Shouyou’s shirt come off? He closed his eyes and felt cold sweat drip down his temple. “Baby?”

Tobio nodded. “I’m okay,” he eked out through a tight jaw.

Shouyou’s hands traced his chest and sides. “Liar. Talk to me.”

Fuck. The last thing Tobio wanted to do in any situation was talk about his feelings. Before sex? Even worse. Afterwards was fine, with the whole happy-glowy feeling. Let’s talk about serious topics then. What’s wrong with our relationship? Ha, aim higher. How can we fix the problems with the political system? That’s better. Dismantling capitalism? Ask after an orgasm or three and Tobio would sign on the dotted line, no questions asked.

Tobio opened one eye to see Shouyou looking at him all concerned and aw, fuck, he was already ruining things with his dumbass stupidity. He forced himself to make eye contact and feel.

It felt like bugs crawling all over his body. Fucking great.

“I don’t want to fuck it up,” he whispered.

Shouyou almost seemed like he was about to laugh, before he realized Tobio’s face was dead serious. His tone changed immediately. He sat next to Tobio on the bed, keeping it rated G while they talked about his emotions. Tobio was already over the entire conversation.

“Tobio, it’s just going to be the same sex we have, only you’ll lube up your dick instead of putting on a condom first. It will feel different. I can’t describe that part to you, but trust me that it won’t be bad. It might feel…” he bit his lip and scrunched a cheek in thought. “More?”

“More?” Tobio asked stupidly.

“That’s the best way I can describe it. I’m sorry,” Shouyou said.

“Okay,” Tobio said. It would be okay, everything was fine, he would make sure of it. “I trust you, Shouyou,” he added, because he felt like that helped him feel better. Hopefully it made Shouyou feel better too.

Shouyou ran a thumb over his cheekbone. “You’re so beautiful,” he sighed.

And then they were kissing again, and Tobio’s hands were running up and down Shouyou’s writhing back and sides. He slid down Shouyou’s boxers, touching him lightly, before rubbing his hand up and down his legs, feeling the thin hairs on his thick thighs. Tobio pushed him onto his spine, and as Shouyou got comfortable, Tobio licked the tip of his cock, swirling his tongue around the head before pressing it hard into the back, running his teeth lightly along the vein there. Shouyou was reaching for the lube, and then he put it into Tobio’s shaking hand. He almost dropped it, but he was able to squeeze out a larger than necessary glob, some of which slipped between his fingers and onto the towel Tobio just realized Shouyou had laid down on the bedcovers.

This crafty motherfucker planned all this, Tobio thought, but it was a term of endearment rather than an expletive.

He pushed his fingers into Shouyou, and the noises his boyfriend made in response encouraged him to keep going. Tobio felt like a virgin all over again, and he knew it was stupid, but he also knew this was the first time they were trying something new in bed with some actual fucking warning. Everything else Shouyou had tossed at him had been spur of the moment. It had been fucking stressful but maybe it was better that way, he didn’t have to worry about it in advance.

Shouyou was taking two fingers easily, moaning as Tobio sucked him down. He suddenly grabbed Tobio’s hair in warning, and Tobio slowed his fingers as he pulled his mouth off his cock.

“Please, no,” Shouyou gasped. “Wanna come on your dick, please.”

Tobio scissored his fingers, avoiding Shouyou’s sweet spot. Stretching him without giving him too much pleasure. Shouyou’s eyes were squeezed shut, his teeth in his lower lip, as he held himself back from the edge. Tobio added another finger, moving them in and out with a squelch as Shouyou tried to even out his breathing and relax.

Finally, three fingers were pushing inside of him easily, and Shouyou was chanting a whispered “yes, yes, yes,” and Tobio knew he was ready. Was Tobio ready? Tobio would do his best.

What if it feels so ‘more’ you come immediately, and you can’t give Shouyou what he wants? his brain interjected, and Tobio just focused on wiping his fingers off on the convenient towel and opening the lube. He squirted it onto his hand and ran it over his cock. It mixed with the precum trickling out of his slit as Tobio gave himself a couple of tugs and tried not to think about fucking this up somehow.

“Please,” Shouyou said, staring at him, as Tobio crawled over his flushed body. “Please, Tobio,” he begged.

Tobio braced himself on one hand as he looked down to line himself up. He slipped the tip inside. Oh, fuck. His eyes were open wide as he gazed into Shouyou’s face, where he could see his pleasure mirrored. He pushed in further. Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck.

“Nnnh, Tobio, ahhh,” Shouyou was keening, as his body trembled. Tobio wasn’t sure what he looked like, but if it was anything like how Shouyou looked, he was already wrecked.

It was more. He understood why Shouyou couldn’t explain it earlier. He was at a loss for words too. And then he was fully inside.

Shouyou was all around him, his heat, his heartbeat, his skin. Tobio didn’t know this was an option, that you could be so close to someone. He was literally inside Shouyou, no barriers, nothing between them, but more intimate than a finger, more sensitive than a tongue. Shouyou was twitching and tight and pulsing around him, adjusting.

It was already this different and he hadn’t even gotten started yet.

Shouyou put one of his feet up on Tobio’s hip, and wrapped the other around his waist. He took a deep breath and Tobio felt him relax around him. Tobio pulled out slightly, and felt his dick get swallowed back in. He took it out further, but it felt like two magnets, pulling together, Shouyou’s tight muscle sucking him back in. He heard someone nearly yelling and then realized it was both of them, groaning in chorus. He looked into Shouyou’s face and realized how close to coming he was already. He pushed in a little harder and Shouyou’s eyes flew wide, mouth opening in a wail.

Something broke inside of him and he couldn’t hold back anymore. He started rolling his hips faster, bouncing their bodies together with force as he pounded into Shouyou, felt him arch off the bed, felt him scratch at his back, tasted him on his tongue as he pressed their mouths together.

Shouyou came so fast there was no time for a warning, and Tobio slowed down his thrusts so he could appreciate the fucking sensation of Shouyou squeezing around him, his muscles rippling as he milked his cock. Fuck, Tobio wanted to be considerate, but Tobio also wanted to tear him apart. He watched Shouyou’s face as he came down, watched him look like he was in ecstasy, and then maybe in pain.

“Should I stop?” Tobio asked, slowing even further, sliding in, back and forth, feeling Shouyou’s body pull him in every time he brought himself out. Shouyou opened his eyes and looked at him with a challenge.

“Fuck no,” he growled, and bucked his hips up so hard he took Tobio all the way inside.

Tobio narrowed his eyes. “Good.”

He grabbed Shouyou’s legs and put his knees against his shoulders, snapping his hips with brutal efficiency. Shouyou screamed and scrabbled against the bedsheets. Tobio leaned forward, and put his hands under Shouyou’s back, cupping his fingers over Shouyou’s shoulders, yanking his upper body toward him with every ram of his dick.

Shouyou was folded in half, feet dangling by Tobio’s neck, but his hips were still meeting every thrust. He was determined to fuck Tobio right back and Tobio loved it, loved the fire in his eyes, loved his man.

“Gnnnhhh,” Shouyou was shouting. “Fuck me, Tobio, fucking breed me.”

Oh fuck, Tobio thought, I’m about to.

He threw his head back, pushing himself in as far as he could, as fast as he could, as if he would devour the man underneath him, tear him in half.

“I’m close, fuck, Shou, I’m going to come—”

Unh, come in me—”

And then Tobio was letting go, feeling his cock kick, feeling himself pulse hot gobs of cum deep inside his lover, who was moaning at the sensation. It probably feels different that way too, Tobio thought. He couldn’t fucking wait to try it. He pumped his hips languidly, riding out his orgasm, making sure there was nothing left for him to give.

Only when he was soft did he slip out, and then he watched Shouyou’s clenching entrance, fascinated by the cum he could see dripping from him. His mouth fucking watered.

Before he could stop himself, he was bending at the waist, tonguing Shouyou’s asshole, lapping up the mess he had made. Shouyou howled, and Tobio could feel him arch his back, the new angle making even more of his cum drip into his mouth.

Tobio’s tongue was wet and sloppy, alternating between licking Shouyou clean and trying to get as deep inside as he could. He wanted more, more, more.

“More,” he snarled, pulling Shouyou up by the hips and flipping him over, so he was on all fours.  He pulled Shouyou’s ass onto his face, plunging deeper, tasting him, tasting himself.

“Tobio, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck,” Shouyou chanted, as Tobio rammed his thick tongue inside, as if he would eat him alive. He couldn’t get it all. But what he could get was rock hard again. He wrapped his arm around his lover’s chest and pulled him up to his knees, as he rubbed his tip against Shouyou’s twitching hole, feeling more of his cum slide out onto his greedy cock.

“I’m going to do it again,” he whispered, a word of warning, before he thrust in, all the way to the hilt, and Shouyou screamed to the ceiling.

Tobio kept him upright as he fucked into him, turning his face to kiss his open and gasping mouth, pinching his nipple with his left hand as his right snaked down to Shouyou’s dick, stopping at his midsection to scoop up a handful of his cum to use as lube. Shouyou moaned into his mouth loudly as Tobio wrapped his fist around his cock. Shouyou’s head was flopping, his body liquid as Tobio fucked into him. He seemed as if he would fall over any minute. Tobio leaned back, resting Shouyou’s weight against his quads, keeping him upright with the hand splayed over his chest.  He was glad he always stretched after a run. He was going to be sore as fuck after this.

“Tobi-oh, oh, oh,” Shouyou wailed, head resting on Tobio’s shoulder as he fucked into him. “Close.”

“Come for me, Shou, I wanna feel you again,” Tobio gasped, and Shouyou did, spurting over Tobio’s fist, squeezing impossibly harder around his dick, as he cried out brokenly.

Tobio rewarded him by letting him collapse.  He lowered him down onto his knees to the bed gently, where Shouyou immediately fell onto his chest. Tobio was glad Shouyou had put a towel down. They were making a huge mess. He didn’t give a fuck. He was drunk, drunk on sensation, drunk on the sounds, drunk on the smells, drunk on the taste. Drunk on Shouyou, everything about him.

Shouyou, who was now nearly flat on the bed, mumbling something into the sheets as Tobio rolled his dick in and out of him.

“What?” Tobio asked, as he kept thrusting, one palm pressed into the middle of Shouyou’s back, relishing how much Shouyou was shaking around him.

“Try putting your knees on the outside of my legs,” Shouyou said, turning his head so Tobio could hear him, following the statement with a deep, shuddering breath.

Tobio didn’t want to withdraw from his lover’s body, but Shouyou always had ideas worth listening to. He pulled out slowly, as Shouyou threw his face back into the mattress and wailed. He pushed Shouyou’s legs together. He could have done anything he wanted to the man, his body was limp weight in his arms. Tobio settled his knees on either side of Shouyou’s plush thighs.

Oh fuck, Tobio thought, yet again, as he eased back inside. Shouyou’s tight warmth around his dick was now combined with the squeeze of his legs pressing together. Shouyou’s fat ass looked like a ripe peach. Tobio grabbed two heaping handfuls and kneaded the supple flesh around his cock, as he began to pick up his pace.

“Fuck, Shouyou, you’re fucking beautiful, I fucking love you,” Tobio said. Shouyou tried to answer, but he was incapable of coherent speech. Tobio loved reducing him to this. Almost as much as he loved it when Shouyou did it to him.

He pounded Shouyou’s ass harder, hearing the obscene noise he was making as he fucked into his own cum, the sound bringing him to the edge of his release yet again. He wanted to claim him, wanted to own him. He had never felt so consumed by anyone or anything before, and it terrified him in the best way.

Shouyou turned his head again, and cried through his tears. “Fuck me, Tobio, give it to me, come inside,” and that was it, Tobio was filling him up again, amazed that he had so much to give a second time. His jaw fell open as he shoved himself in as far as he could go, fucking his cum deep into his lover. He wanted Shouyou to stay fucked.

He kept his cock buried inside, not wanting to leave, rubbing Shouyou’s back comfortingly. Only once he was completely soft did he slip out, falling onto the bed next to his exhausted boyfriend, sitting up on the pillows and pulling Shouyou over to hold him against his chest.

“M’gross,” Shouyou mumbled, but he went willingly.

“Don’t care,” Tobio said, pressing his lips to Shouyou’s sweaty forehead. He ran the back of his hand down Shouyou’s spine, feeling the goosebumps on his clammy back as he traced the bones with his knuckles. He ran his other fingers through Shouyou’s wet hair. “Love you anyway.”

“V’you,” Shouyou slurred. He turned to look at Tobio with one open eye. “Y’liked it.” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Fuck yes I did,” Tobio agreed. He brushed his fingers through Shouyou’s strands. “Was it good for you?” he asked, nervous for the answer. Shouyou huffed a laugh.

“Barely talk,” he murmured, and Tobio figured that meant he did an okay job. He saw Shouyou’s eyes closing heavily.

“You’re gross, remember?” Tobio said, easing Shouyou onto the bed. “At least let me clean you up.” Shouyou shook his head into the pillow. Tobio rolled his eyes and left to the bathroom. He ran hot water over a washcloth, mopping up his own body, before rinsing it clean and going back into the bedroom.

Shouyou was on his side now, and Tobio wiped down his body, getting rid of the mess they had made. He took the dirty towel out from underneath him.

“Baby, you gonna take a shower?” Tobio asked. “What about…” he didn’t know how to ask about the mess he had made on the inside.

Shouyou waved his hand dismissively, with a weak “no.”

He felt his chest warm at the idea that Shouyou wanted a part of Tobio to stay with him always. His dick twitched too, because it turned out he was a dirty motherfucker. He thought he just liked the taste of cum, but he was now discovering there was so much more he fucking liked. He couldn’t wait to see what other ideas Shouyou had, what lessons he wanted to teach him.

He threw the towel and the washcloth into the hamper, then slipped into bed and curled up around the man he loved more than anything in the world. He had been so nervous before. But now he felt warm and content. And he had made Shouyou happy, too.

As Tobio drifted off with a smile on his face, he figured that was the best part. He would always try to make Shouyou happy, no matter what.

----------

“Wow, moving in together, that’s leveling up for sure,” Kenma said, before taking a nibble of his pizza slice.

“Coming from someone getting married, like, tomorrow? Really?” Shouyou answered through his own huge bite.

“We’re getting married in six weeks, not ‘like, tomorrow,’ and you’re disgusting, don’t talk with your mouth full,” Kenma admonished, as Shouyou just rolled his eyes.

“Wanna talk about mouth full? Let me tell you what Tobio did when he—” was all Shouyou got out, before Kenma was literally kicking him so hard he fell off the chair he was sitting on.

Shouyou had never heard of a bachelor party that was just two people sitting at home playing videogames and eating pizza, but it was what Kenma wanted, and as his best man, Shouyou was going to do whatever Kenma wanted.

Kuroo had invited the two of them to his bachelor party, which was happening at the same time, at what looked like a club, and according to Yaku’s Instagram story, it was a strip club and they were all having a fabulous time.  Shouyou didn’t even know there were male strip clubs in Seattle but Kenma assured him that yes, there were, when you rented a private room at a regular club and then hired your own dancers. He also said it had cost quite a bit of money.

“So you’re paying for him to get lap dances from a cowboy,” Shouyou said, looking at the video of an extremely drunk Kuroo getting a Stetson placed on his head by a hottie in leather chaps, while most of their high school volleyball team cheered wildly. Kenma looked over at the video as Shouyou tilted the screen in his direction.

“It appears so,” Kenma said, picking a new slice of pizza. “Among others. This one guy has abs for days. Wanna see?” He pulled out his own phone, pulling up the website and scrolling through the pictures. “I hired this one, this one, this one, this one—”

Shouyou screeched as Kenma scrolled through the men, dressed as sexy cops and sexy jocks and sexy soldiers and… was that guy a vampire? “Kenma, there are only like twenty guys at this party! They don’t need that many…” his voice trailed off at the photo of a muscular man getting out of a pool, his skin dripping with water, a hand casually pulling his dark hair back as he looked at the camera with smoldering eyes.

He wasn’t available tonight,” Kenma said with a smirk, pulling his phone back. “Good to know you have a type.”

Shouyou was blushing. He decided to cover his blush with another huge bite of pizza.

“Other than you being horny on main,” Kenma continued, “How are things going?”

“I should be asking you,” Shouyou said. “You’re the one getting married.” He thought for a minute as he finished chewing his mouthful of cheesy goodness. “Does New Year’s have a special meaning for you guys? You got engaged on New Year’s, you’re getting married on New Year’s?”

Now it was Kenma’s turn to blush. “Spill it,” Shouyou commanded.

“That was when he finally asked me to be his boyfriend,” Kenma said. “Winter break of our senior year of college. I was home for the holidays and so was he. We didn’t see each other at Christmas, too busy with family stuff. We finally had some time together New Year’s Eve.” Kenma got a misty look on his face that was uncharacteristic. Shouyou liked it. He liked seeing people’s soft side. It made him feel less like a sap when he had company. “We spent the day together and right before midnight, he starts telling me about how much he cares about me, and I interrupted him to kiss him—”

You kissed him first?” Shouyou squawked. “He always said he made the first move!”

“Well to him, a heartfelt confession was the first move,” Kenma scoffed. “But he was going on for a while and it was a little embarrassing. And unskippable. So I kissed him and that shut him up.”

Shouyou was too busy laughing to respond. As many times as he had heard this story, he had never heard it from Kenma’s point of view. It was far superior to the tale Kuroo had been telling all these years.

“And after he could speak again,” Kenma continued, “he asked me to be his boyfriend and I accepted. At that point it was past midnight, so our official anniversary is New Year’s Day, and there you have it.”

“Gwaaaaah, so romantic, Kenma, oh my God,” Shouyou said, throwing his head back and hugging himself around his body. “I fucking love it, I love you two, it is an honor, my dear friend, an absolute honor to be your best man.”

Kenma raised his beer in a toast to Shouyou before taking a sip.

“How is wedding planning going? A winter wedding, that’s a whole thing,” Shouyou said, thinking back to his own wedding. June, of course, outside at a garden for the most cliché of romantic days. Whatever Lysia wanted, from the flowers to the tablecloths. She had been adamant about every last detail and Shouyou knew better than to fight her on something he hadn’t really ever thought about.

“It sure is, a whole thing, Shouyou, what’s going on?” Kenma asked, raising a concerned eyebrow.

“Just, nothing,” Shouyou said, taking a hefty glug of his beer, knowing full well that he was a terrible liar and Kenma was an astute motherfucker.

“You don’t have to ask about it if you don’t want to. The wedding, I mean. I’m sure it brings up some rough memories,” Kenma replied gently.

Shouyou considered the statement.

“Not really,” he said, talking his thought process out loud. “My life now is so different, so much lighter, it’s like, my old life happened to someone else. I don’t remember my vows, don’t remember our first dance. At least not in detail. If I think about the song I can kind of remember, ‘yeah, we chose that song,’ but like, I don’t remember holding her, and looking into her eyes and thinking ‘this is the person I love.’ Does that make sense?”

Kenma was nodding, but he still looked confused as hell. Shouyou laughed and punched him on his shoulder. “Okay, I get it, I don’t make any sense. Drink more and maybe I will.”

They both took a long pull from their bottles.

“Is it different now?” Kenma asked quietly.

“Yeah,” Shouyou said. “It’s way better.”

“Why?” Kenma replied.

Shouyou had to think about it for a second. Of course, Tobio wasn’t manipulating him, or beating the shit out of him. Shouyou’s bar was set so low it was on the floor. But it was more than that. The way Tobio considered his thoughts and feelings. The way he didn’t impose his will. The way he loved him. The real him, not the fake-happy mask he had put on for years to survive.

“He lets me be me,” Shouyou said. “He doesn’t care how messy or ugly I get, he’s there.”

Kenma nodded and his look was less confused and more understanding.

“That sounds great, Shouyou,” he said with a smile. “I’m happy for you.”

They ate their pizza and beer in silence for a few moments. Shouyou stole another glance at his phone, looking at the latest crazy video, this one from Lev’s story. They were all doing shots and Kuroo was still wearing the cowboy’s hat. He looked over and saw that Kenma was surreptitiously doing the same thing. They looked at each other with a knowing glance.

“Wanna call a ride over to crash Kuroo’s party?” Kenma asked.

“You sure?” Shouyou asked. He knew parties weren’t Kenma’s thing.

“Maybe… Just this once,” Kenma said, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear, before standing up and finishing his drink in a few gulps.

“In that case, fuck yes I do,” Shouyou said. “The sexy vampire guy hasn’t come out yet and I want in.

Chapter Text

Lysia had Charlotte for Thanksgiving, even though she had crashed Shouyou’s holiday gathering the year before. She and Grant were flying to Wisconsin to spend time with his family.

Shouyou wanted to deny her request to take Charlie out of state, like she had when he and Tobio wanted to take her to Arizona, but Tsukishima said that was probably a bad idea, as it would make them both look like they were being unreasonable, and their whole case for custody hinged on the fact that Shouyou was nothing but accommodating and Lysia was the petty asshole.

What would it even be like, to get to be the petty asshole for once? Shouyou fantasized, pictured telling Lysia to fuck off when she wanted to switch weekends. Forcing her to come pick Charlotte up if she wanted to spend time with her instead of dropping her off all the time. Refusing to switch up the schedule when Lysia was sick or wanted to go out of town. Did she even know how much day care cost? What to do if she needed a sitter? Shouyou imagined sending Charlie over without her bag, the panicked phone call he’d get when Charlotte ran out of clean clothes.

Shouyou fantasized, and that mean little part of his heart that got off when justice was served purred.

And then he realized the only person that would be affected by all the bullshit was Charlotte.

He remembered the first weekend in February, when he had come to pick up Charlie on Sunday afternoon six hours earlier than usual, because Lysia was throwing a Super Bowl party and didn’t want her around.

When he showed up to the apartment to get Charlotte, he could hear that people had already arrived and the partying had begun. Lysia brought his daughter to the door barefoot.

“Where are her shoes?” he had asked, because Charlie had had shoes when she was dropped off two days earlier. Pink sparkly boots lined in soft faux fur. Her favorites.

“We can’t find them,” Lysia replied flippantly, turning to go back inside.

“Can’t—Lysia,” Shouyou attempted to argue, but she was already closing the door.

He had to carry Charlotte all the way to the car, because she didn’t have any shoes. From then on, he knew he would only let her go over to Lysia’s in shoes he didn’t mind losing.

The next morning, when they were getting ready to go to school, Charlotte asked him where her favorite shoes were, and he had to be the one to explain that they were probably gone for good. He had to be the one to dry her tears.

They never saw those shoes again.

Lysia didn’t suffer from her bad parenting. Only Shouyou and Charlotte suffered. He sighed. He would have to continue to be the bigger person, so at least Charlie wouldn’t suffer as much. He let her go out of state without a fight.

So for Thanksgiving this year he was without his daughter but at least he had his Tobio.

His Tobio asked him if he wanted to have a dinner party for Thanksgiving, like they had had for his birthday, and Shouyou thought that sounded great. When he reached out to Kenma and Kuroo, he found out the two of them had gotten a last-minute hookup and were going to Hawaii for the week. Hawaii. What was jet-setting off to a fucking tropical paradise at the drop of a hat like? Shouyou was sure he’d never know.

Hitoka and Kiyoko couldn’t make it, they were going to Hitoka’s grandparents’ house. Her family was actually supportive of their relationship. Being out to your family, who love you even if you’re gay? Yet another thing Shouyou couldn’t imagine.  

Daichi and Suga were up for it, but a few days before Thursday Daichi came down with a bad cold, which he then promptly gave to Suga. They didn’t want to give it to either of them, so they tapped out. Getting a cold and feeling like shit? That was finally something his brain could understand.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Shouyou was missing Charlotte, even though he had dropped her off at Lysia’s only two days before. He was also a little upset that his friends were living their best lives, outside of Suga and Daichi, who were by all accounts miserable. He was already swimming in a stew of sadness and jealousy, and that’s when Tsukishima emailed him that the custody hearing date had been finalized for December 12th.

Shouyou was left to his own devices, since Tobio was at work. He didn’t get Thanksgiving week off like Shouyou did. He opened the message on his computer and his stomach fell to the floor. He felt his mouth fill with saliva and he knew he might throw up. He closed his eyes and tried to pretend it was happening to someone else. When that didn’t work, he went to the bathroom and puked into the toilet.

He curled up against the rim of the bathtub, touching his head to the porcelain, trying to take deep breaths. His eyes were watery from vomiting, and his nose was running. He felt shaky, weak. He hated feeling weak.

He turned his head, resting his cheek on the cool surface, and saw the mesh bag with all of Charlotte’s toys. The ducks that he had pretended were serenading each other with their favorite Tangled songs. He missed her so much it hurt. He ached to hold her. He had tried calling the day before, but Lysia didn’t pick up. Ever since Shouyou had filed the request for the custody hearing, she didn’t let him talk to Charlie on the phone anymore. Shouyou knew this made him look even better in their documentation, but it still fucking hurt.

Shouyou looked at the ducks and that’s when the tears started to fall. You’re doing all this for her, he thought. Remember who you’re fighting for. The truth didn’t make his pain any easier to bear.

He was so sad that he got angry at himself. Maybe if he weren’t so weak, people would stop walking all over him. He could tell his family to fuck off. Lysia would be afraid of him for once. He was so sick of being pathetic.

----------

Tobio wasn’t having a great day.

Two days before Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a fucking nightmare, but since they had a half-day on Wednesday, and were closed on Thursday and Friday, it was like everyone and their fucking dog was at the library picking up something for the holiday weekend.

Tobio had been press-ganged into helping other departments, and was running around like an idiot, while people were constantly asking him questions and trying to get him to do things. Suga was no help, because Suga was out sick, and Tobio had never hated the man more.

By the time he left work, late, he was fucking exhausted, and all he wanted to do was go home, and be in the arms of the man he loved. Tobio hadn’t been able to talk his way out of staying late. Well, Tobio didn’t try to talk his way out of anything. He tried to growl his way out of it. But his supervisor just said that everyone needed to stay.

As a result, Tobio was headed home at six, when he usually got home by four, with plenty of time to cook dinner. They usually ate early; Shouyou and Charlotte’s school lunch was at 11, so they were starving by 5pm. Early dinners also helped with Shouyou’s classes. By the time 7 rolled around he was ready to go fight dudes without having to worry about being hungry or over-full. It was a good system.

He had texted Shouyou that he would be late two hours ago, but Shouyou hadn’t texted him back. Tobio hoped he had at least started dinner, because he was hungry as fuck and incredibly annoyed by all the stupid shit he’d had to deal with that day.

When he got home, he wasn’t greeted by the smell of a freshly-prepared meal.

He couldn’t even do it once? he thought. I make sure Shouyou comes home to healthy and delicious food every night. Then he caught himself and remembered, Shouyou is going through some shit. But then he caught himself again and realized Shouyou had been on vacation all day, while Tobio had been the one in the shit for once. He couldn’t fucking make dinner?

Tobio had told him he was going to be late. Shouyou didn’t expect him to come home late and make dinner, right? After having time to do whatever he wanted all day? Shouyou wouldn’t do that. Or would he?

So, no delicious smells. Fine, he could handle that. He flipped on the light, since it was dark. Nobody in the living room. He poked his head in the kitchen. Nobody there either. What the fuck was going on?

“Shou?” he called, to no answer.

Shouyou’s computer was on the dining table, open but battery dead. His phone was laying right next to it. Tobio walked into the hallway. Shouyou wasn’t in the bathroom. That left one place, then.

He went into the bedroom, and Shouyou was curled up under the covers, on Tobio’s side of the bed, turned toward the closet, away from the bedroom door. He had been sleeping?

Tobio understood Shouyou’s job was hard. Teachers worked their fucking asses off. He knew Shouyou needed all the rest he could get, especially with the extra stress he had been under lately.

But he also knew he worked hard too. He couldn’t remember the last time he had taken a nap in the middle of the afternoon, instead of making dinner for Shouyou and Charlotte.

“You’re finally home,” Shouyou croaked out. He was facing away from Tobio, which was probably for the best, because if anyone had seen Tobio’s face at that moment, they probably would have pissed themselves.

“Sorry,” Tobio snapped. “I didn’t have a fucking choice.”

Shouyou lifted his head off the bed and turned toward him, and oh shit, has he been crying? And then Tobio’s curiosity was wiped away by how he felt when he saw the contorted grimace of pure rage suddenly pointed in his direction.

“Why the fuck are you snapping at me?” Shouyou snarled, pushing himself off the bed to stand alongside it. Tobio was shot through with a bolt of panic at his sudden movement. Shouyou was fast. Then his panic was replaced by a momentary relief that they had an entire king-sized bed between them. Then his relief, alive for only a half second, was overpoweringly crushed by the absolute fury that overtook him so fast it stole his breath away.

“What the fuck? Why are you yelling at me? I just got here!” Tobio snarled right back.

It felt good, in that way he felt when he finally ripped off a dry hangnail and watched it weep red tears. Or stuck his tongue into a gash in his cheek so it wouldn’t heal. Like an itch that he scratched so hard his fingernails came away bloody. He knew he was biting down on a poison apple but the sweetness was all he could taste.

He doubled down. “You didn’t even make dinner! You couldn’t be bothered, or what? Too busy taking a fucking nap?”

Shouyou’s eyes narrowed. “You think I was napping? Fuck you.”

“No, fuck you,” Tobio answered, because he couldn’t think of anything better to say. Then he walked out of the bedroom, stomping through the hallway and living room and ending up in the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” Shouyou yelled after him, taking a moment to catch up because he had to go around the bed and Tobio’s legs were longer.

“One of us has to make fucking dinner, Shou,” Tobio tried to answer calmly but calmness was thrown out the window. He was seething and his voice was a half-step above a growl at this point. “If I had known you weren’t going to cook, I would have gotten takeout or something.” He looked in the fridge. Fuck, the ingredients they had were going to take fucking forever to make a meal out of. He should just keep it simple. He took out the carton of eggs, slammed the fridge shut, crossed to the counter, and pulled out the rice cooker from the cabinet. Fuck, even rice was going to take a minute. The whole situation was infuriating. “Why the fuck didn’t you message me back?”

“I came in here to explain but I don’t want to fucking talk to you if you’re going to be like this!” Shouyou yelled.

“Sounds like you’re fucking talking to me,” Tobio fumed, filing up the rice cooker bowl with water, washing the rice, pouring out the water, washing the rice, pouring out the water. “Yelling, but still fucking talking to me. So you could fucking explain, but you don’t want to, so whatever.”

Tobio had been nothing but fucking good for the past few months. He had taken care of Shouyou and Charlotte, and he hadn’t even said a cross word about anything. He had kept his feelings to himself out of respect for his boyfriend. And he had one request in his shitty day, to please make the fucking dinner, and Shouyou couldn’t be fucking bothered.

“Fucking asshole,” Shouyou hissed under his breath, and he left the room. Tobio heard the bedroom door slam.

Tobio knew in his logical brain he had two choices. He could finish making dinner, then avoid Shouyou until he ate it, and once the edge had been taken off his hunger, they could have a rational conversation about whatever was going on. This was a good choice.

Choice two was to throw the rice cooker bowl into the cooker, slam it shut, march across the apartment, and wrench open the bedroom door to scream at his boyfriend.

The joke was, of course, that there was really no choice at all. A choice was something made after thinking. And Tobio wasn’t thinking as he threw the bedroom door open to continue their fight. The doorknob bounced off the wall after leaving a dent in the white paint, rebounding right into his face. Fuck, that hurt.

At the sound of the impact, Shouyou shot up from where he had been crouched on the floor between the bed and the closet. Tobio rounded on him. “What the fuck, Shou?” he yelled across the bed.

“Why won’t you fucking leave me alone?” Shouyou retorted, spit flying out of his lips, his eyes glittering in what Tobio assumed was hatred.

“I can’t fucking believe you,” Tobio seethed. “I’m a fucking asshole? Seriously? After everything I’ve done for you?”

“I never asked you to do anything,” Shouyou spat.

“Oh, so I should just let Lysia take Charlotte from you?” Tobio said, his voice getting louder and louder as he continued. “Because I’m pretty sure that’s what a fucking asshole would do. A fucking asshole wouldn’t pay thirty thousand dollars and counting to keep your fucking family together!”

The blanched expression on Shouyou’s face reminded him that Tobio hadn’t ever shared the legal bills with him. Serves him right, does he think this shit is free?

“If you don’t want to do it, then don’t fucking do it!” Shouyou screeched. “I’ll figure it out! I don’t need you!”

“Fuck you, yes you do.”

“Fuck you, no I don’t,” Shouyou shouted. “Get the fuck out!”

Tobio leaned forward, putting his hands on the bed, looking Shouyou in his red, hateful face. His voice was deadly calm. “With pleasure.”

He turned around, slamming the bedroom door behind him. He went to the front door, shoved his stupid feet into his stupid shoes, got his stupid bag, and got the fuck out.

----------

Shouyou waited for Tobio to calm down before he came out of the bedroom. He gave him an hour. He even dozed off for a little while before waking with a gasp, remembering what they had just finished screaming at each other.

He opened the bedroom door, creeping out to the hallway. He looked out to the living room, expecting to see Tobio sitting on the couch, arms folded, angry but ready to discuss what happened. He wasn’t there.

He looked over at the dining table, thinking maybe he was still eating dinner? But the empty chairs at the empty table mocked him. Oh no.

Shouyou looked into the kitchen. He knew Tobio wasn’t there, didn’t hear the water running or his footsteps. But he looked into the kitchen anyway.

The rice cooker had finished. It was warming silently next to the carton of eggs Tobio had left on the counter.

Even in his incandescent rampage earlier, Tobio was going to cook him tamago gohan. His favorite fucking food.

Shouyou’s knees were wobbly and he slid to the floor, leaned against the kitchen cabinets.

You’re so fucking stupid to think he would love you. Who the fuck would ever want to be with a mess like you? Fucking dumbass. You deserve to be alone and miserable.

Where was he? Was he coming back? Tobio had said the most hateful things—

And you? You were full of loving kindness? I don’t think so. Stupid Shouyou.

He sobbed a little harder. He had said some hateful shit too. And he told Tobio to get out. And Tobio had gotten out, just left, just left him

It was going to happen sooner or later. Dumbasses like you don’t get to be happy. They get to be alone and miserable. It’s what you fucking deserve.

Shouyou’s tears were hot and heavy as he threw his head back against the cabinets, eyes squeezed shut against the bright lights of the kitchen.

Tobio just left, and he had promised, he had promised we wouldn’t fight each other, we would only fight the problem, fight it together, and now he’s gone, he left

Shouyou was beyond sad and there was only one person he wanted to talk to. He texted Tobio’s number.

>> Please come back

He tried to wait a few minutes for a response but couldn’t help himself. He texted again after only ten seconds had gone by.

>> Please let’s talk

And then he texted again.

>> Are you sorry?

And again.

>> I’m sorry

He laid his face against his knees. Remembered how Tobio’s eyes were filled with such anger, remembered how he had driven him away, and the tears spilled down over his cheeks again.

I did this, I’m so stupid, I can’t believe I fucked this up so bad, if I had only been better, and now he left, he left, he’s never coming back, he left

He picked up the phone and called him. It went straight to voicemail.

Oh God, he shut his phone off, he left, he left

Fighting with his own thoughts, crying on the kitchen floor.

It was so familiar it was like coming home.

----------

It was weird being at Suga’s when it wasn’t a party. But it was already a weird fucking night.

He had gone to Kiyoko’s first, but she wasn’t home, and when he texted her, she said she was already on her way out of town to stay with Hitoka’s grandparents. Well, good for her.

He had sat in his car outside Kiyoko’s for over an hour, trying to come up with a plan and picking at himself until his hands were both wrecked, realizing he only had two friends and one of them wasn’t home, and therefore there was only one place left where he could go.

He wasn’t an idiot. He knew he should call or message before showing up on Suga’s doorstep. But he couldn’t do either of those things, because his phone was dead. So he went to Suga’s house and hoped he was there and wasn’t too sick and could take him in and maybe he could sleep somewhere that wasn’t his car? Because that was his next option, sleeping in his car.

Why the fuck would Shouyou ask him to move in, just to throw him out less than a month later? It was cruel and unnecessary. He knew Tobio had nowhere to go. He knew he was at his mercy. Maybe that’s why he did it, because he could. He had asked Tobio to move in with him, because he knew Tobio would always be the one in a weaker position. Shouyou had all the power, and Tobio had let him have it, put himself in a place where he depended on someone else for five fucking minutes, trusted someone, and look where it got him. Homeless for the holidays.

He knocked on Suga’s front door and prayed the man was home, and awake. Then Suga answered the door with a loud gasp and Tobio suddenly thought that sleeping in his car wasn’t that bad of an idea after all.

“Tobio?” Suga asked, when he had figured out that he could speak instead of just make noises. “It’s after ten at night, why are you here?”

Tobio couldn’t play it off. Couldn’t just scowl or tch and pretend like Suga was the ridiculous one here. He had already shown his hand by showing up unannounced.

He took a breath so he could explain but it was hard to get air. It felt like someone was sitting on his chest, someone’s hand around his throat. His eyes pricked and the last of his dignity disappeared, washed away by the tears that rolled down his cheeks.

“Oh, my God,” Suga said, holding out his arms to Tobio, grabbing him, holding him, bringing him inside his home. Tobio found himself sitting on Suga’s couch, the same place he had been at the New Year’s party. Tobio realized at that party he had been crying about Shouyou in the arms of a stranger. Now he was crying about Shouyou in the arms of a friend.

Suga didn’t say anything, and that was somehow all the encouragement Tobio needed to sob, loudly, embarrassingly. He hiccupped and snot was running down his face. He was gross. And Suga just gave him tissues and wrapped his arms around his shoulders and patted him gently.

After an indeterminate length of time, Tobio had cried himself out. His eyes hurt. He couldn’t remember the last time he had just let go in such a disgusting manner. He was breathing almost normally now, his breath only hitching on every sixth or seventh inhale.

“Go wash your face,” Suga said, sitting up from the couch and patting Tobio’s knee. “I’ll make some tea.”

He took his time at the sink. The cool water made his hot face nearly normal again. It helped. He did feel better. He avoided his own gaze in the mirror, though. He didn’t want to see what Suga saw. That was just asking for another emotional meltdown. He washed his hands twice.

By the time he had finished cleaning himself up, Suga was on the couch, two mugs of some sort of herbal concoction on the coffee table. Tobio sat down next to his friend on the couch and picked up the mug, taking a sip, not surprising himself when it burned his tongue.

“You gonna explain any of this?” Suga asked, not unkindly.

Tobio nodded. He took another sip of tea. His mouth was already burned, what was a little more? He put the mug down on the table and looked at it.

“I guess I’m homeless?” Tobio started. He didn’t know what else to say. He had lost his home. His home, his family. His love, his life. He had had so much and now he had nothing. He felt the tears threatening a reappearance. He picked up his cup and drowned them in burning tea.

“What happened, Tobio?” Suga asked gently.

“We were fighting and Shou—” his voice cracked and he poured over the crack with some more tea. “He threw me out.”

“Like, forever?” Suga prodded.

“I assume, he told me to get out. What else could he mean by that?” Tobio was a blender of emotions. Confused, because Suga didn’t seem upset that he was going to be sleeping in his car. Ashamed, because he had just finished telling Suga how great things were going with the new co-habitation, only a few days ago. And angry. Always angry. At Shouyou, at himself, at Suga, even though Suga was only being helpful.

“It could mean a lot of things,” Suga explained. “It could mean, yes, you got kicked out forever, but it could also mean he needed space, just needed you out of his face, maybe?” He thought for a moment. “What were you guys talking about before, before you left?”

Tobio remembered Shouyou’s eyes, the absolute hatred he had seen burning in their depths. The heat of Shouyou’s words, the force of his shouts. Was he even sorry for what he had done?

“We weren’t really talking,” Tobio whispered. “He was yelling at me.”

“And what were you doing?”

Tobio remembered the hateful words that he had spewed. The venom that had dripped from his lips. He had things to regret, too.

“I was yelling back.”

“Okay,” Suga mulled, letting the word roll around on his tongue like a hard candy. “So you guys didn’t really have a conversation. More like a screaming match?” Tobio nodded. “Well, I’d say it’s a fight but I wouldn’t say you were homeless just yet.”

“How do you know?” Tobio murmured, a flicker of hope in his chest. He tried to nurture the feeling but it was a kitten surrounded by dragons.

“Well,” Suga said, looking down at his own tea.  “Don’t take this the wrong way.”

Tobio’s shoulders immediately tensed. He was definitely going to take it the wrong way. “Okay,” he answered, through gritted teeth.

Suga looked at him and sighed. “Never mind.”

Tobio took a deep breath. Suga was his friend. He took another deep breath. “Tell me, please,” he said, in a voice that was nearly normal.

Suga rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He turned to face Tobio on the couch. “Here you go. You’re both dramatic as fuck. And that’s coming from me. I’m a dramatic bitch. But you two have nothing on me. You have been ridiculously in love, and ridiculously broken up, and now you’re ridiculously fighting, and honestly, I’m here for the drama, I live for the drama, but you’re both stupid.”

He sat back on the couch, huffing, as if his monologue had taken a lot out of him. Tobio sipped his tea. He was dramatic as fuck? He swirled the idea around his mind. Considered it thoughtfully. Suga was a bitch, but he wasn’t an asshole. He wasn’t saying this to be mean. It was like, one of his life lessons.

“Aren’t you sick?” Tobio realized, as he looked at over at the other man, who appeared perfectly healthy and whole. Suga was suddenly fascinated with something on the ceiling to his right.

“Hm? What’s that?” Suga said lightly, avoiding Tobio’s stare.

“You and Daichi are sick, that’s why you couldn’t come over. For Thanksgiving with us.” Tobio said, evenly.

“About that,” Suga said. “So the thing is…” and he trailed off, not finishing his sentence.

“You’re not sick,” Tobio finished, and Suga finally dropped his eyes and looked Tobio in the face.

“I’m sorry, okay, it seemed like the best excuse—”

“Because you don’t want to hang out with us?” Tobio was nearly incredulous. “I thought we were friends?”

Suga rolled his eyes. “Oh my God, Tobio, yes, we’re friends. But Daichi’s been working for like, two weeks straight, okay? And his shifts are always opposite mine. I haven’t even seen him in passing in three days. We both have tomorrow and Thursday off. And…”

Suga’s smile told Tobio all he needed to know. “Ew.”

“Oh like you and Shouyou aren’t fucking like…like some sort of horny animals. He told me he has pierced nipples. He is probably a freak in bed. Who knows what you two get up to.”

Tobio couldn’t argue with any of his absolutely true assumptions. So he didn’t, which was all the confirmation Suga needed. He let out a shudder like he and Daichi were any different.

“Do you have a phone charger?” Tobio asked, after a minute.

“Yeah,” Suga pushed off the couch. “Why?”

“My phone is dead,” Tobio said, taking it out of his pocket and putting it on the coffee table. “And I need to calm the fuck down and call Shouyou and actually talk to him.”

Suga raised an eyebrow. “Really.”

Tobio raised an eyebrow right back. “Yes, really, what the fuck, Suga, I’m trying to not be dramatic for five minutes. I’m trying to do what responsible adults do and—” he swallowed bitterly. “Talk about my feelings.”

Suga was already off the couch and going into his bedroom. He returned with a cable, which Tobio grabbed with a grumbled “thank you.” Tobio plugged in his phone, waited a few seconds, and turned it on.

He was not prepared for the cacophony of notifications that greeted him.

Shouyou Hinata: 21 new text messages

Shouyou Hinata: 10 new voicemails

As Tobio cleared the notifications, opening the messages, his phone rang again.

Incoming call: Shouyou Hinata

He looked at Suga in panic.

“What did I say?” Suga said, and then left the room to give him some privacy.

Tobio answered the phone. “Shou?”

“Tobio, oh my God,” Shouyou said, in a voice thick with tears. “Where are you, where have you been, oh my God.” He trailed off into a sob and Tobio could hear him crying loudly.

“I’m at Suga’s,” Tobio said, his heart breaking that Shouyou was so sad and Tobio wasn’t there to hold him, to comfort him.

“Come home, Tobio, please, I’m so sorry, please come back,” Shouyou was blubbering.

Tobio was in shock. Shouyou was sorry? Shouyou wanted him to come back? Shouyou wanted him?

“Okay, I’m coming,” Tobio said. “My phone died, though, so it’s probably going to shut off before I make it back to your place.”

Our place, Tobio,” Shouyou wailed, and Tobio felt his eyes tearing up. Holy fucking shit, Suga was right. We’re both ridiculous.

“I’m on my way,” Tobio said, “I’ll see you soon.”

“I love you,” Shouyou sobbed. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Tobio answered, and hung up the phone. He raised his eyes to see Suga standing in the doorway. Tobio stared and Suga shrugged.

Tobio got up from the couch, unplugged his phone and put it in his pocket. He crossed to where Suga was standing, and the smaller man looked almost scared for a moment. Tobio had a habit of looking intense. He knew Suga’s fear was usually justified.

He reached his arms around his friend and wrapped him up in a grateful hug.

“Thank you,” Tobio said. “You’re a good friend.”

“I know,” Suga said, squeezing him tightly. “Good luck.”

----------

Shouyou heard the key in the door and jumped off the couch. When he saw Tobio he couldn’t help himself. He wrapped his arms around him before he could even take off his shoes, and once his shoes were off, he jumped and made Tobio hold his legs up too. He was a koala of regret.

“Tobio, I didn’t mean for you to go, baby I—"

Tobio deposited him on the couch and sat himself down, back against the armrest, so they could look at each other. Shouyou arranged himself so he could face him.

“I’m sorry,” Tobio began.

“It’s not your fault, I jumped all over you when you got home, that wasn’t—”

“I’m sorry,” Tobio repeated, interrupting Shouyou’s self-flagellation. “Do you forgive me?”

Shouyou teared up afresh. “Of course I do, I’m sorry too, I was the worst, Tobio—”

“Shou, I forgive you too,” Tobio said, cutting him off again. “Can we,” he took a big breath with a grimace on his face, like he was trying to psych himself up to drink a mouthful of acid. “Talk?”

Shouyou cocked his head to the side like a confused puppy. Which, he basically was. Was all the screaming earlier not “talking?” It was loud talking, but they got everything out, right? One look at Tobio’s face revealed that to not be the case. Okay, Shouyou could talk. He talked all day for a living. What was some more talking? Nothing, no problem. Talking was no problem.

“Yeah,” he said, tentative, dreading whatever was coming next.

Tobio rubbed the back of his head and looked away, and Shouyou felt a cold spike of fear pierce his stomach. Oh fuck, he’s breaking up with me.

“It’s hard for me to say this,” Tobio said, still not looking at him, still not making eye contact. Fuck, fuck, fuck. “I just don’t know what else to do, so I—I’m gonna try,” another sigh, and he didn’t finish his sentence. He seemed to be thinking of the right word to say. I called him a fucking asshole after he bought me a new car’s worth of legal services, Shouyou thought, I’m such a fucking dumbass. I deserve to be dumped.

“These last few months have been really hard for me,” Tobio continued, while Shouyou died inside with every word. “I’ve been trying my best to be a good boyfriend, and, fuck, this is so fucking stupid.” Shouyou jumped at the words and watched as Tobio grabbed his own hair with his fist, biting his lip. He was getting angry now, and it was all Shouyou’s fault. I flew too close to the sun, he realized. This is what I get for thinking someone could love me.

“Okay, okay.” Tobio seemed to calm himself down a little. “I’ve been trying to be a good boyfriend. But I haven’t been talking to you about how hard this is for me. How… fuck—how scared I am, or how angry I am, at Lysia, at the fucking, I don’t know, the system? For letting her lie? For letting her call the cops on us? Getting us investigated by fucking CPS? I’m so fucking angry and I love you and Charlotte so much, I just can’t—I just can’t lose her, I just got her, I just got you back, and I—I’m so fucking scared, Shou. I’m so scared I’m angry at myself, angry that I’m so scared.” He was shaking with the force of his admission, the truth of the past few months finally coming out of him.

He’s not breaking up with me, he’s letting me in, Shouyou realized. He had never loved Tobio more.

He crawled forward on his hands and knees until he was in front of him. Shouyou arranged himself on his lap carefully. Tobio’s hands came up to rest on his shoulders. He patted him stiffly, like he had never touched another human before.

Shouyou was curled up against Tobio’s chest, his right cheek resting on his heart, his legs bent at the knees. His arms were wrapped around Tobio’s waist. He looked up to talk to his boyfriend and stared into his chin.

“You didn’t,” Shouyou began, before he realized this wasn’t on Tobio. Not completely. It was on him too. “I didn’t realize, and I’m sorry, I’m sorry for not checking in with you—”

“It’s not your fault,” Tobio interrupted quickly, but Shouyou shushed him and rubbed his hands over his back.

“You can always talk to me,” he said. “Even if I’ve had a bad day, I still want to hear about yours. Please, tell me your thoughts, even if they’re intense, I promise I—” he cleared his throat, because the tears were threatening another appearance. “If I can handle all the shit you were throwing at me earlier, I promise I can handle a conversation about your feelings.”

He nuzzled Tobio’s chest and hoped he understood the words he was saying. Shouyou got where Tobio was coming from. It was hard to have feelings but even harder to be vulnerable with those feelings. He had never really shown so much of himself to anyone before. He had learned to hide as much of himself away as possible, to not give anyone an opening, an opportunity to use what they knew against him. Whenever he let someone in, got closer to them, they gained inside knowledge of all his soft squishy bits, all his weakest defenses. And he had been hurt and broken and destroyed by so many people he had loved.

He had so many reasons to be scared. And he was. He was terrified that Tobio would eventually put two and two together, realize he was too much work. That he would find someone else, someone who had their shit together. Someone who deserved his love.

“It wasn’t fair of me to throw it in your face. About the money,” Tobio said, after holding him for a minute. “It’s not even my money. I just wanted to say something to hurt you.”

“I know,” Shouyou said. “But I wanted to hurt you too. I called you a fucking asshole.”

“I’m sorry for saying ‘fuck you,’” Tobio said.

“Yeah, me too,” Shouyou laughed quietly.

Tobio pressed a kiss into his forehead and Shouyou melted.

“I didn’t mean get out of the house,” Shouyou whispered, after another minute had passed. “I meant get out of the room. This is your home now, too,” Shouyou continued. “I won’t throw you out, I can’t.”

“Yeah, I know that now. I didn’t earlier,” Tobio laughed bitterly. “I told Suga I was homeless. He told me we’re both dramatic as fuck.”

“You went to Suga’s?” Shouyou murmured. “I thought he was sick.”

“They lied to us so they could spend Thanksgiving in bed.”

“That sounds nice,” Shouyou sighed.

“Why were you crying when I got home?” Tobio asked. “You weren’t napping.”

“Tsukishima emailed me earlier today. The court date is in three weeks,” Shouyou said, feeling Tobio’s body tense up around him. “Yeah, fun times.”

Tobio was rubbing his back a little bit more normally now, and Shouyou was starting to feel better. They had both been under so much pressure for the past few months. He wanted to look into Tobio’s eyes and make sure he was okay. Preferably naked. But from his position wrapped up in his arms, he heard Tobio’s stomach growl loudly.

“We need to eat dinner,” Shouyou said, clambering out of Tobio’s lap, standing up and holding out his hands to help him up from the couch. Tobio rolled his eyes and took them.

“Shou, it’s nearly midnight.”

Any time is a good time for tamago gohan, Tobio,” Shouyou argued, with a grin on his face, as he led Tobio to the dining table.

----------

Tobio was feeling better after a bowl of comfort food and a hot shower.

Running away and crying, crying in front of Suga, it was fucking exhausting. He couldn’t wait to lay down in bed and sleep.

He came out of the bathroom with his towel wrapped around his waist and Shouyou was naked in bed, waiting for him.

Well, maybe sleep could wait a little while. Because fuck, Shouyou was red and flushed with desire, his nipples hard and glinting in the light from the reading lamp, touching his stiff cock lightly. Tobio watched him breathlessly as a drip of precum emerged from the slit of his dick. Shouyou rubbed it into his skin with a stroke of his hand.

Shouyou shuffled toward him on his knees. He grabbed the towel that Tobio had around his waist and gently pulled it off him, laying it out on the bed. Then he turned back to Tobio and pulled him down in a tender kiss. Tobio brought a knee to the bed and Shouyou pushed him over so he rolled onto his back, right in the middle of the towel. Tobio raised an eyebrow.

“What’s all this?” Tobio asked quietly, as Shouyou pulled their lips apart.

“I love you,” he answered, pushing their mouths together again gently. Tobio tasted his toothpaste, savored his warm flavor beneath that, and citrus and mint didn’t usually go together but Tobio didn’t give a fuck, it was the taste of his man and he was enthralled.

Shouyou pulled back to take a breath, and move his mouth to Tobio’s jaw. “I love you, too,” Tobio moaned, as Shouyou licked a line into his neck.

“I want to show you,” he whispered into his ear, as Tobio’s arms broke out in goosebumps. “I want to show you how much I love you,” he explained, his plush lips treating Tobio like a delicious peach.

“Yeah,” Tobio said, “I want that too,” he added, as if the way his body was trembling didn’t give it away completely.

Shouyou laughed lowly, a deep, breathy thing that made Tobio fucking insane. “Do you…” he seemed to consider, before his mouth sucked a mark into his collarbone and Tobio’s back arched. “Do you want me to take you apart, my love?”

Tobio prickled in anticipation. After the day and night he’d just had, being taken apart sounded like a great fucking idea.

“Yeah,” he whispered. “Do it.”

Every once in a while, Shouyou would get into this mood, where he absolutely got off on destroying him, breaking him down completely, dominating him, and Tobio was always enthusiastically along for the ride, holding on for dear life like he was on a roller coaster without a safety bar.

Shouyou already had the lube next to him on the bed, ready to go, and he was licking a line down Tobio’s chest as he watched him drizzle some on his fingers, warming it for a moment. And then Shouyou’s mouth was nibbling at his nipple and Tobio’s eyes closed in enjoyment. He didn’t see it when Shouyou’s fingers moved down and pressed into him.

He felt it, though. His legs fell apart wider as he relaxed into the touch, inviting Shouyou to push further inside. Shouyou did. Tobio was exhausted and willing, and Shouyou sank into him like he was a hot knife slicing through butter.

“Oh, you want this bad,” he murmured into Tobio’s chest. “Taking two fingers right away? You’re so open for me.” Tobio couldn’t help the unconscious whine that came out of his throat. He could lie and disagree but the sounds he was making were irrefutable evidence that Shouyou was right. He added another finger and Tobio’s back shivered uncontrollably.

Nh, fuck, Shou, yes, I want you,” Tobio babbled, rocking his hips, trying to pull Shouyou in deeper, deeper.

“Yeah? Is that right?” Shouyou asked, after a swift bite to Tobio’s other nipple. Tobio recognized that tone. Shouyou was going to fuck with him. And how he wanted it.

Even though he was past exhausted, mentally and physically, by the absolute shitshow of a day he’d already lived through, even though he had to get up and go to work in the morning, he swallowed dryly as Shouyou’s face came up to meet his.

“Yes,” was all he could say.

“Beg for it,” Shouyou demanded, one eyebrow raised in amusement. “Fucking beg.”

“No,” Tobio replied, trying to put a nonchalant look on his face and failing as Shouyou crooked his fingers inside him. “Don’t think I will,” he added in a tight voice.

“Okay, we can just go to bed, then,” Shouyou threatened, and Tobio bit his lip as he felt the fingers within him still.

Tobio whined pathetically. Fuck, he was already giving in too soon. “Shou—” he choked, as Shouyou began pulling his fingers out. Tobio could feel himself trying to suck them back in.

“You know what to do, if you want it,” Shouyou said, like he had all the time in the world. Well, he does, Tobio thought. This fucker doesn’t have to get up to go to work in the morning.

Then Shouyou pulled out completely. Tobio couldn’t take the feeling of being empty. He almost wanted to cry. Shouyou would probably love that. He gave in.

“Please, Shouyou,” he whispered. Shouyou cupped a hand to his ear like he couldn’t hear him, even though their faces were inches away.

“I’m so sorry, what? Hm? Can’t hear you, Tobio.” He teased the ring of Tobio’s entrance with one wet fingertip, and Tobio decided, fuck it, give Shouyou what he wanted. His eyes welled up and he took a deep breath.

“Please, Shouyou, please, oh, please,” he begged, shameless, looking at Shouyou’s triumphant eyes, how he was getting off on how much Tobio wanted him.

“Please what?” Shouyou asked, licking the fat tear that rolled down Tobio’s cheek.

“Please fuck me,” Tobio gasped. “Please, Shou, please, fuck, I need it so bad, I need you, please.” He knew he was over the top, probably being dramatic, thank you Suga, but if he didn’t get Shouyou’s fat cock inside him in the next few seconds he would most likely explode.

“With this?” Shouyou asked, pushing in his fingers so suddenly Tobio howled. He pumped in and out, right into Tobio’s prostate from the first moment, overwhelming him. His upper body tried to jump off the bed, but Shouyou’s other firm arm was holding him down, so all he could do was struggle and take it.

“No, Shouyou, your cock, I want to come on your cock, Shou—”

But Shouyou wasn’t stopping, thrusting his fingers inside brutally. “What do you say, Tobio?” he asked in an even voice that only had the tiniest quaver that betrayed his arousal. “Fucking say it.”

Shouyou was driving him to the edge, and Tobio knew there was only one way to get him to stop.

“Please, Shouyou, fuck, please, please, please fuck me, please,” Tobio finally yelled, and he was right on the edge. “Please, please, please,” he whimpered, as Shouyou stilled his fingers. “Please, please, please,” he cried out, as Shouyou pulled out of him slowly. Tobio was sobbing now, shaking with anticipation and want. “Please, Shouyou, please,” he whined as he writhed on the bed, empty and needy. He heard Shouyou lubing himself up, felt him move into position.

“Please,” he breathed, one more time, as Shouyou slid into him.

“Please,” he moaned, feeling his muscles drag against Shouyou’s bare skin the whole way inside, as his senses overloaded.

“Please,” he cried, as Shouyou bottomed out, and Tobio could feel him twitching and quivering within him. “Please, fuck me,” he howled, and Shouyou pulled out an inch and pressed back in.

“Like this?” he asked, fucking him shallowly as he pressed a kiss into Tobio’s other cheek, licking his lips at the salty taste of his tears.

“No, Shou, please, please, please, I’ll do anything, just please fuck me,” Tobio pleaded, rocking his hips ineffectually, because Shouyou was still pinning his lower body down with his other hand. Shouyou fixed him with a look like he was considering the offer.

“You’ll be a good boy?” Shouyou asked, circling his hips, but still refusing to fuck him. Tobio sobbed a fresh set of tears.

He nodded quickly. “Yes, Shou, please, please, please,” he added, as his asshole twitched and his cock pulsed and dripped.

“Say it, Tobio,” his boyfriend said, in a sing-song voice. Tobio could feel the strength it was costing Shouyou to hold back in every shake of his muscles.

“I’ll be so good, Shouyou, I’ll be a good boy, please, please fuck me, Shouyou, please, I’ll be good,” Tobio said, losing himself completely. It felt amazing to let go.

“Okay,” Shouyou finally agreed, and the relief Tobio felt was overwhelming. He took a deep breath that was quickly cut short as Shouyou snapped his hips and punched into him.

Fuck, Shou, like that,” Tobio got out, before Shouyou began fucking him in earnest, and all he could do was howl.

The arm pinning him released him, and Tobio began thrusting his hips in response to the brutal pace Shouyou was setting. And then Shouyou’s strong arm was under his left knee, putting it into his chest as he leaned forward to drive into Tobio relentlessly. He was hitting Tobio’s sweet spot as he fucked into him, and Tobio couldn’t think past please and fuck and Shouyou, which he chanted over and over again like a prayer.

And then he was coming, quickly, without warning, completely untouched, and Shouyou didn’t slow down, didn’t stop, didn’t let him enjoy it. Just fucked him past it, deep into oversensitivity, and Tobio was a live wire made of electricity and he just took it, head flopping on the pillow, body boneless, voice wailing, as Shouyou destroyed him.

“You’re such a good boy,” Shouyou said. “You deserve this, Tobio, fuck you’re taking me so well,” he added. Tobio moaned, happy he was making Shouyou so happy.

Then Shouyou was stroking his dick for the first time tonight, and he was getting hard again, somehow, under the attention. Shouyou’s cock was still thrusting deep inside, and Tobio couldn’t wait to feel him erupt inside him. Fuck, the thought of being filled to the brim with hot cum made his dick pulse in Shouyou’s fist.

“Please, come in me, fill me up,” he gasped, and Shouyou got the look on his face, the look that meant Tobio was in trouble, the best kind of trouble, the kind of trouble that ended with Shouyou fucking him beyond comprehension. It was a smirk, it was gleaming eyes, it was a promise.

Tobio didn’t think he could get fucked any harder, but Shouyou was always overcoming his expectations.

“Fuck, Tobio, you want my cum so bad, don’t you,” Shouyou grunted, ramming him, breaking him apart. “Beg for it, beg for my cum.”

“Please, please, I want it, give it to me, Shou, please, fuck me, come inside, fuck,” Tobio babbled, and Shouyou’s hips didn’t stop, and his fist didn’t stop, and then Tobio felt Shouyou’s dick kick inside him, felt his warm cum pulse over and over, heard how wet and slick it sounded as Shouyou fucked it into him, and that was it, Tobio was following him over the edge, coming all over Shouyou’s hand, squeezing around the thick cock inside him.

Shouyou fucked out the last of his orgasm as he peppered Tobio’s sweaty and tear-stained face with gentle kisses. Tobio tried to inhale a shuddering breath, but Shouyou’s hand was still on his dick, coaxing out the last drops of his release. Tobio felt like he was floating, his body weightless, his eyelids heavy.

“Baby,” Shouyou said, and he sounded so far away. Tobio’s eyebrows raised slightly in acknowledgment and Shouyou huffed a laugh. “Oh, you are fucked up,” Shouyou giggled, releasing his leg and carefully laying it back down. Tobio was going to be sore tomorrow, but that was tomorrow Tobio’s problem. He didn’t even know the guy.

Shouyou slid out and Tobio’s eyebrows pulled together for a moment, before he felt the satisfaction of Shouyou’s sticky cum dripping out of him.

“We should shower,” Shouyou suggested, and Tobio answered with a pout. It was his turn to be the petulant one who refused to get out of bed. He heard Shouyou giggle at the reaction. “Okay, baby,” he laughed, and Tobio felt his weight leave the bed, heard the bedroom door open. He drifted off to sleep. Someone else could take care of the problems, Tobio had sleep to chase.

----------

By the time Shouyou had cleaned himself up and returned with a wet washcloth for Tobio, his boyfriend was already lightly snoring. He wiped his body down and pulled out the towel from underneath him, and Tobio slept through it all. He was well and truly exhausted, it seemed.

He curled up behind him, being his big spoon, as he carded Tobio’s hair off his forehead. He loved his man so much. He hated fighting with him, but he was so glad they were able to talk it out. They were going to be okay. Tobio murmured in his sleep at the touch. It sounded like his name.

Shouyou felt grateful tears well up in the corners of his eyes. Of course he was going to start crying. It had been an emotional fucking day. He had gone from the turmoil of the court date being scheduled, to his afternoon depressive episode, to their dinnertime screaming match, to amazing fucking sex. It had been a wild ride.

Before tonight, he thought he had grown stronger, had left all his trauma behind. But the day’s events proved that he was incredibly willing to jump right back into the destructive patterns that had sustained him for most of his life. He took a deep, grounding breath of Tobio’s hair and felt the silken strands tickle his nose. Damnit, he had to be better. He had to forget his past and just get over it.

But, he thought, a tiny, quiet thing, that could really be coming from the next room over, or someone else’s house entirely. Aren’t you better?

And like a pile of bricks falling to the ground, a pile of bricks that were supposed to be a wall but lay broken and dusty instead, he realized. I am better.

Oh, fuck, he suddenly understood. It’s never going to leave. I’m never going to get over it.

There was no forgetting. There never would be. His past was just a part of him, like his hair color or his love for his daughter. There was no fighting it. That just gave it attention and power over his life.

He had to accept it instead.

I don’t have to get over it. I don’t have to forget. I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be.

He felt the weight of the overwhelming expectations he put on himself fall away.

He was better. He was stronger. All he had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep making choices that were mostly pointed in the right direction. He had to keep trying to do the best he could. And stop being so hard on himself.

Over his life, Shouyou had said sorry to many people. Most of his apologies were against his will, but he’d meant it when he said it tonight. He’d forgiven Tobio so easily. It’s so easy to forgive people when you love them.

In that quiet moment, the early morning hours of the day before Thanksgiving, Shouyou took a deep breath. And he finally forgave himself.

Chapter Text

December 12 came faster than he thought it would.

At least Tobio was accompanying him to the courthouse this time. It was so comforting to have him there, holding his hand in his dark clothes like a shadow of solace.

They met Tsukishima in the hallway outside the courtroom. He looked intimidating as fuck, his six-and-a-half-foot-tall frame clad in a grey slim-fit suit, holding a smart-looking briefcase like it was his weapon of war, or maybe a shield. Shouyou was afraid of him for a moment before he remembered the terrifying presence was there to fight on his behalf. He tried to take a deep breath and calm himself down, but as he looked to his left, he could see Lysia, Grant, and their lawyer further down the hallway, sitting on a bench and chit-chatting as casually as if they were enjoying a cocktail party. Shouyou felt a nervous sweat break out over his skin, even though it was fairly chilly in the building. Just being in the same room with Lysia was enough to do this to him, to affect him so thoroughly.

You’re doing this for Charlie, he reminded himself, letting the thoughts of his daughter give him the strength to avoid a breakdown before the hearing even began. He hoped they’d be done with their time in court by the time she was done with school. Thankfully, Hitoka had volunteered to stay after class with her as long as he needed. He had so many people looking out for him, trying to help him. And of course, top of the list was Tobio. Shouyou grabbed his hand to squeeze, to ground himself, hoping his boyfriend didn’t mind the sweatiness of his palm.

“Tobio has to stay out here in the hallway,” Tsukishima explained. “Just in case we need him to testify, he can’t hear how the case is going in there.” Tobio nodded. Tsukishima looked over to where Lysia was standing. “I’m going to go introduce myself to the other side and see if they’re willing to work anything out before we get in there. I seriously doubt it, but the judge is going to ask if we had a consultation, so I have to go talk to them.  I’ll be back in a minute.”

Tobio led Shouyou to a bench of their own. As they sat down, Shouyou was still clutching Tobio’s hand like a lifeline, as if he would be lost without him. It was true.

They watched Tsukishima pull Daishou away from Lysia and Grant. The two lawyers only chatted for a few sentences before Daishou was turning away, and Tsukishima was shaking his head and walking back to them, rolling his eyes.

“He said he’s going to destroy me and we’ll end up paying her child support and legal fees,” Tsukishima said with a sarcastic laugh, as he leaned back against the wall next to where they were sitting. “Well, I gave him a chance.” Shouyou didn’t know why that was worth laughing about. He couldn’t afford his own fees, never mind Lysia’s. And child support for her? The idea wasn’t funny at all.

Tsukishima looked down at Shouyou’s face, and the terror he must have seen there made him suddenly serious as he adjusted his glasses. “Listen, Mr. Hinata. I’m a lawyer, I can’t guarantee anything. But the odds of what he said coming true are low. I’ve been doing this job for ten years now. Our case is solid. Don’t worry, okay?”

Shouyou nodded but he still felt a little sick to his stomach. More than a little, actually. “I need to go to the bathroom,” he croaked. “Do I have time?” Tsukishima nodded and Shouyou jumped to his feet, looking for the bathroom and finding it halfway down the hallway, near the bank of elevators.

He went into a stall and tried very hard not to throw up. He attempted to regulate his breaths, using the technique Kiyoko had taught him when he had had a panic attack.  Eventually he was able to calm down enough to pee. He left the stall, washed his hands and looked at himself in the mirror. He still looked a wreck so he tried some more of the deep and even breathing. He was ready to admit defeat; he wasn’t going to be calm until this was all over. He knew he had been hiding long enough and was about to leave when the door swung open.

It was Grant.

“Hm, they let you use the men’s restroom?” he sneered.

Shouyou now realized the bathroom was not the safe place he had thought it was. He went to leave, but Grant stood in between him and the door. Shouyou tried to maneuver around him, but Grant blocked his new path, shadowing him like a dance partner. Shouyou’s mouth went dry as he realized Grant wasn’t going to let him leave. Shouyou looked up at the ceiling and then down at the floor as he bit his lip, holding back his emotions.

“Will you please move?” he asked, pretty politely, he thought, for someone who was incredibly angry and frustrated and scared.

“No, don’t think I will,” Grant responded, with a shrug. He started advancing toward Shouyou.

Okay, figure out your options, Shouyou thought. He looked Grant up and down. While he was taller, it’s not like that made him automatically stronger. He’d taken plenty of bigger guys before, and ended up victorious. Shouyou tasted blood as his nervous nibbling finally wore a hole in his lip.

He figured he could take Grant’s lower half, twist him up so he’d end up on the floor before he even knew what had happened, and then he could take his back and choke him into unconsciousness. His fingers started prickling in a pins-and-needles sensation, as he wiggled them in anticipation.

Just as he was deciding to shoot for the left side, since Grant was most likely right-handed, he stopped himself. He wasn’t about to get into a physical altercation inside a courthouse, was he? Even pushed into a metaphorical corner, Shouyou understood that was a bad idea. A bathroom brawl was a one-way ticket to jail and losing his trial, never mind what they would do with Charlotte. Charlotte. Remember Charlotte. You’re doing this for her.

He couldn’t lose her. He had to stay calm. There had to be another option. Think, Shouyou!

He pulled out his phone with his tingling fingers and fumbled with unlocking it, finally just double-pressing the power button, which opened the camera. He pressed record.

“I’m going to leave the bathroom now, so please let me pass by,” he said, training the camera’s focus on Grant.

Grant stopped moving toward him and looked into the lens. “Pussy,” he spat.

Just then the door opened and Tobio came in.

“Shouyou, are you okay?” he said, eyeing Grant distastefully.

“Everything’s fine,” Shouyou said, but he didn’t stop recording. He walked backwards out of the bathroom, so he could keep the camera on Grant.

Tobio followed Shouyou out. They walked back to the hallway and to their bench. Shouyou sat down shakily and tried to calm his racing heart. He wanted to burst into tears but he knew it wouldn’t help him to start getting hysterical right before he had to go talk to a judge. He tried to breathe around the lump that had appeared in his throat, tiny sips of air that didn’t seem to be doing much good.

He knew he was an idiot for being so freaked out about the stupid bathroom encounter. It’s not like Grant assaulted him, or threatened him outright, or even said more than a few words. But it was terrifying to be trapped, no escape, in a small, enclosed space with someone who hated him so much. It reminded him so much of his marriage.

Tobio sat next to him, rubbing his back soothingly, shushing him gently under his breath, quietly enough so only Shouyou could hear. He knew Tobio could feel his trembling, knew how upset he was, knew how nervous he was. Shouyou closed his eyes and focused on the love Tobio had for him, the comfort he was offering so freely. Shouyou held his other hand in his lap, unwilling to let him go, drawing strength from the connection of their skin. Tsukishima suddenly materialized from wherever he had been hiding and walked up to the two of them.

“It’s time,” he said.

Shouyou let go of Tobio’s hand unwillingly, wiping the sweat from his palms onto his pants. Tobio looked into his eyes one last time, giving him a small nod of encouragement. Shouyou nodded back, and followed his lawyer into the courtroom.

----------

Tobio hated feeling helpless.

He would much rather feel depressed or scared, or his old friend, angry.

Helpless was something altogether different.

Not being able to do anything about a situation. Not being able to “hard work his way out of it,” as Dr. Takeda would say.

He had felt helpless when the cops showed up to their apartment to investigate them. When CPS did too.

And now here he was in a courtroom hallway, wearing his best suit, his only suit, and feeling like an idiot with his thumb up his ass. Useless and helpless.

He’d rather get punched in his stupid face than sit here in this stupid hallway like this.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, he just paced from the bathroom hallway back to the courtroom door, and back again.

He’d have liked to go all the way from one end of the hallway to the other, but that asshole Grant was sitting just past the elevators, and he didn’t want to get near anyone he might be tempted to fight. He was on the edge of violence and if Grant said a single word Tobio was sure he’d end up spending the night in jail. For assault, if he could stop himself in time.

Murder, if he couldn’t.

After the mindless walking and violent fantasies didn’t calm him down, big surprise there, he sat back on the bench from earlier. The bench where Shouyou had been shaking. The bench where he held his boyfriend’s hand and tried to take some of his anxiety on himself, somehow. He buried his face in his hands, rubbing his fingertips over his cheekbones before dropping them to twist in the fabric of his pants. He took a good hard look at his fingers. Fuck, he was a mess, but all he could think about was helping the destruction further along. He could see a nice place to get started, right there. But he didn’t want to have to clean himself up in a courthouse bathroom if he went overboard. He always went overboard. He needed a different distraction.

He pulled out his phone. He couldn’t really get signal in the building. There was a wi-fi sign in, but he didn’t know the password. He figured it was for people who worked there anyway, not useless idiots sitting on a bench, unable to do shit about shit.

He opened up his photo gallery, so he could look at the pictures from the past few months. The most stressful and yet somehow happiest months of his life.

First up: Shouyou and Tobio’s Thanksgiving for two, a selfie of the two of them each holding a turkey leg. Tobio half-smiled and he felt the painful tension of his shoulders soften at the sight of the man he loved so dearly. They had eaten turkey sandwiches for lunch and dinner for over a week. Why did they get a whole bird for just two of them?

Next, he watched a video he had taken of Shouyou and Charlotte practicing Jiu Jitsu on the living room rug. Charlie was screaming and laughing as she put her dad into a kimura and made him tap out dramatically. Shouyou had always said any child of his would learn how to break someone’s arm by the time they were ten. Just in case they had to.

He saw a picture of Shouyou and Bokuto, each holding their new belts, brown and black respectively. Tobio’s heart surged with pride at the look of accomplishment on his boyfriend’s face, and his smile got wider as he looked at Shouyou’s grin. He was so thankful he had been there, so he was able to capture the moment.

He thumbed through the memories, his body relaxing with every image, as he understood he had so many reasons to be grateful. So many moments to be thankful for living through. And he hadn’t experienced any of them alone.

A picture of Shouyou and Charlotte both asleep in Charlotte’s room, Charlotte on her bed, Shouyou on the floor. Damn that sleep-inducing musical nightlight.

A few videos of Shouyou’s last competition, and a picture of him on the podium with his medal. Gold was a beautiful color on him.

A picture Tobio took one night while Charlotte helped him make dinner. Charlotte on a step stool, pouring macaroni into a boiling pot of water, with a terrified Shouyou looking on, making sure she didn’t hurt herself with any splashes.

Shouyou, Tobio, Suga, and Daichi in a photo from Halloween. Daichi was looking off camera, eyes widened in fear. That was probably right around the time they knocked over the TV, Tobio thought, thinking back to the recap a hungover Suga gave him the next day at work.

A video of Charlotte spinning around in her ballerina Halloween costume, as she happily danced with Shouyou.

Shouyou’s first competition, which included almost twenty videos, and his podium finish.

Sedona: red rocks, peace, the two of them in a hammock, red rocks, poses on a throne made of stone. A lot of pictures of delicious meals. Tobio’s stomach growled. He nearly laughed.

Shouyou’s birthday dinner party. He zoomed in on the group shot, looking at all their friends, all the people who loved them, all the couples that supported them. They would be guests at our wedding, Tobio thought.

Shouyou’s actual birthday. A photo of him and Charlie covered in flour, taken by Shouyou on his phone. The two of them smiling wide as they made a cake for the man they both loved. He looked up at the ceiling as his eyes misted. Said a silent prayer that everything would be okay, that they could keep being a family.

Tobio closed his eyelids and tried not to cry. It all had to work out. It just had to.

-----------

Shouyou had never been in a courtroom before and he hoped it was not only his first time, but his last time.

The judge was an old no-nonsense guy in a black robe. That made sense, it was kind of his job description. His eyes looked angry. Shouyou read the nameplate on the desk in front of him. Hon. Ikkei Ukai. He was fucking terrifying and Shouyou’s knees were nearly knocking against each other in fear as he stood next to his lawyer.

They were standing at a desk in front of the judge. There was an identical desk on the other side where Lysia and her lawyer were standing.

Shouyou sat down when Tsukishima told him to. He tried his best to pay attention to every detail, to remember exactly what was happening, but he could already feel his anxiety clouding his mind. He tried to focus. He listened to what the judge was saying as he looked down at his hands, where they were clutching each other in his lap to keep from shaking.

After going over the official procedures to start the hearing, the judge started by reviewing the facts of the case.

“This is a matter of custody, visitation, and support, correct?” Judge Ukai said.

“Yes, your honor,” Tsukishima answered.

“And why are we revisiting this case nearly two years after judgment was entered?” Judge Ukai frowned.

“Your honor, the mother of the child, Ms. Hinata, refused to give the child back to her father after a visitation, so my client, Mr. Hinata, felt he needed to return to the court in order to make permanent the actual visitation that has been the case for the past two years,” Tsukishima answered.

“Your honor?” Daishou interjected. The judge made a “go on” motion.

“The mother of the child, Ms. Hinata, is entitled to fifty percent custody under the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement, which you can see in the file. She was only exercising her rights,” Daishou continued. “We ask that the court uphold these rights.”

Shouyou didn’t even have it in him to get upset by the mischaracterization. He was too scared to be angry. His anxiety needed an outlet. Under the table, his foot started to jiggle restlessly.

“I see,” Judge Ukai continued, looking through the file pages. “And why has Ms. Hinata not exercised these rights previously?”

“I’m sorry, your honor?” Daishou asked.

“I have many pages of evidence here, of your client not exercising her rights,” Judge Ukai said. “Many pages of your client canceling visitation because of sickness, vacation, parties… is there a reason for this?”

“Your honor, until recently my client’s work schedule was very fluid, and visitation was difficult for her, but she has done the best she can,” Daishou argued.

“Hmmm,” Judge Ukai said, still looking through page after page. “I don’t see ‘work’ used as an excuse in any of these text messages. Mr. Hinata,” he said, turning to Shouyou. “Did you ever have work, when you were responsible for taking care of the minor in question?”

Tsukishima had to nudge him after he didn’t respond immediately. It took a second for Shouyou to realize that Mr. Hinata referred to him.

“Yes, your honor,” Shouyou stammered.

“And what did you do, when you had to work, but you had physical custody of the child?” Judge Ukai continued.

“I put her in preschool and daycare, your honor.”

“Oh?” asked Judge Ukai. Shouyou watched his eyes get big in amazement, like he had never heard of preschool before. “So there are options for working parents? When it comes to childcare?”

He turned from Shouyou to fix Daishou with a withering stare.

“Your honor,” Daishou said, seemingly trying a different tack. “My client has done all she can to make sure she spends quality time with her child. Mr. Hinata has not been willing to work with her.”

“I understand that’s what the declaration says, counsel,” Judge Ukai replied. “Does your client have any evidence to that fact? I have here, from Mr. Hinata, weekly, almost daily text messages with Ms. Hinata that paint a very different picture. Do you have anything to this effect?”

Daishou and Lysia seemed to confer a moment, and then Daishou turned back to the judge.

“No, your honor,” Daishou admitted.

“Do you have any evidence to bolster your request for custody?” Judge Ukai continued.

“Your honor,” Daishou continued, “we move that Mr. Hinata is an unfit parent, and full custody should be awarded to Ms. Hinata.”

“On what grounds?” Judge Ukai said, in a serious voice.

“He has been investigated by both the police and Child Protective Services,” Daishou responded.

“Very serious charges,” Judge Ukai said, flipping through more of the case file.

“Your Honor,” Tsukishima said, rising to his feet. “If I may?”

“Yes, counsel?” Judge Ukai said, still flipping through the many pages.

“These charges were made via phone call, to both the police and CPS, and while they did not tell us who made the call, as soon as Mr. Hinata explained that he was in a custody battle for the child, the CPS social worker confirmed that Ms. Hinata was the one who called in the neglect and abuse charges.”

That’s right. Tobio had been there when Shouyou had talked to Ms. Grigoryan on the phone. Tobio must have told Tsukishima. Shouyou hadn’t even remembered that conversation until this moment.

“In fact,” Tsukishima continued, “when the case worker called Ms. Hinata to tell her the charges were unfounded, Ms. Hinata continued to insist that Charlotte was being neglected and abused, even though there was zero evidence to that fact.” He sat down.

“What does your client say to this?” Judge Ukai asked Daishou.

“We have nothing to say regarding this development,” Daishou said quickly.

“Really?” Judge Ukai said, and his tone was so angry Shouyou stopped his hand study to look up at the man’s face. He had one eyebrow raised in warning. “And yet you were the one to bring up this development,” he said scathingly. “Do you have any other developments to bring up?”

“Yes, your honor,” Daishou continued. “Mr. Hinata is an unfit parent due to his lifestyle.”

Shouyou felt a cold chill run down his back and settle somewhere in his guts. His eyes fell to his hands again. He should have thrown up in the bathroom earlier, when he had had the chance.

“His lifestyle, really?” Judge Ukai said. “Do go on?”

“Since divorcing, Mr. Hinata has taken up with man after man,” Daishou said, barreling on. “He has been exposing Charlotte to dangerous behavior.”

“Your honor, if I may?” Tsukishima was standing up again.

“Please explain,” Judge Ukai said.

“Your honor, Mr. Hinata has been in a committed relationship with one man for the past nine months,” Tsukishima continued. “He is currently living with this man, and has only exposed Charlotte to the love and care that two parental figures can provide.”

Lysia hissed something to Daishou, who quickly moved to interject.

“Your honor,” Daishou began.

“Counsel?”

“Your honor, Mr. Hinata’s boyfriend is not a parent to Charlotte,” Daishou said.

“If I may, your honor?” Tsukishima asked. Judge Ukai nodded. “We are not saying Mr. Hinata’s live-in partner is a replacement for a parent, but rather an additional person who loves and cares for the child. A parental figure who is stable and caring. That is all.” He sat down again and Daishou was still standing.

“Your honor, a boyfriend is a poor substitute for the care of a parent,” Daishou tried.

“Ms. Hinata,” Judge Ukai asked. “Do you have a boyfriend as well?”

“Your honor,” Lysia answered. “I have a fiancé, Grant Douglas.”

Shouyou raised his head from his lap so he could look at Lysia in curiosity. Fiancé? That was new.

“And does this man live with you?” Judge Ukai asked, almost bored.

“Yes, your honor,” Lysia answered.

“And does he help parent Charlotte, when she is over for visitation?” Judge Ukai continued.

“Not really, your honor.”

“He doesn’t feed her? Play games with her? Help you keep her happy?” Judge Ukai clarified.

“I suppose, yes, your honor.” Lysia admitted.

“And why can’t Mr. Hinata’s partner do the same?” he wondered, almost a rhetorical question.

“It’s not the same, your honor,” Lysia argued. “Mr. Douglas and I are in a committed relationship. Mr. Hinata and his boyfriend are not.”

“They have argued they are, Ms. Hinata,” Judge Ukai countered. “I can ask Mr. Hinata’s partner to come testify if necessary.”

“It’s not the same,” Lysia said, a sweet but deadly smile on her face. “Because Mr. Douglas and I are a man and a woman in an engagement, who are going to be married in six months. Mr. Hinata is carrying on with multiple men. It’s different.”

Judge Ukai looked her in the face with thinly-veiled contempt.

“It is illegal to give preference for one parent over the other on the basis of sexual orientation,” Judge Ukai said, as if he were explaining rocket science to a kindergartener. “I’m afraid your naked attempt at discrimination will not fly in this courtroom. Do you have anything else?”

Daishou shook his head.

Judge Ukai looked at Tsukishima. “The court finds that custody be given to Mr. Hinata for eighty percent of the year, with visitation and holiday schedules adhering to what plaintiff has requested.”

Shouyou sighed in relief. They had won. He made to get up to leave, but Tsukishima was still standing.

“Thank you, your honor. If I may?” he asked.

“Go ahead, counsel.”

“Mr. Hinata asked Ms. Hinata for permission to take his child out of state for vacation, and Ms. Hinata denied the request,” Tsukishima began.

“Is this true, Ms. Hinata?” Judge Ukai clarified.

“Yes, your honor,” Lysia mumbled.

“However,” Tsukishima continued, “last month Ms. Hinata informed Mr. Hinata she would be taking the child to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, and Mr. Hinata acquiesced without issue,” Tsukishima continued. “You can see this in the text message chain on page 45.”

“Yes, I see that here,” Judge Ukai agreed.

“Mr. Hinata was willing to work with her, even though she was not willing to work with him, and denied their child an opportunity to go on vacation with his father. We’re asking that the court change the marital settlement agreement parameters. Instead of permission from the other parent, all each party needs to do is inform the other parent.” Tsukishima added one last part, just because he could. “That way this unfortunate situation never needs to happen again.”

Judge Ukai seemed to think about it for a moment. That’s what Shouyou figured he was doing, anyway. Shouyou watched the impassive face with his breath caught in his throat.

“That seems reasonable,” Judge Ukai said. “The court finds that the custody agreement be modified so out-of-state travel is inform-only, no approval required.”

“Thank you. If I may, Your Honor?” Tsukishima was at it again. Shouyou internally cringed. Why did he ask for so much? They’d already won. Shouyou was afraid of seeming greedy.

Tsukishima did not share that fear.

“Yes, counsel?” Judge Ukai asked.

“Regarding the issue of support, I have found Ms. Hinata quit her job this last June, but until that time, she had been working as an administrative assistant.” Tsukishima explained.

“Your Honor, the marital settlement agreement waived both alimony and child support,” Daishou countered.

“While it is true that alimony can be waived, child support cannot,” Judge Ukai explained. He turned to Lysia. “Ms. Hinata? Is it true that you quit your job?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“And why?” Judge Ukai questioned.

“I had been unhappy at that job for almost two years, and my fiancé suggested I quit and pursue my dream of opening my own business,” Lysia answered.

“And in the past six months, have you been able to start this business?” Judge Ukai pressed.

“Well shortly after I quit my job, my fiancé proposed,” Lysia explained.

“And?” Judge Ukai asked, when Lysia didn’t continue her explanation.

“So I’ve been planning the wedding,” Lysia answered.

Judge Ukai ran a hand over his suddenly weary face. “Ms. Hinata, you cannot choose to not work, when you have a child to support.”

“Your Honor?” Daishou interjected.

“Counsel?”

“Your honor we are actually requesting that Mr. Hinata pay Ms. Hinata support, based on the shared custody. Mr. Hinata is a teacher and my client is currently unemployed.” Daishou said.

“Ms. Hinata is currently unemployed by choice,” Judge Ukai rebuked. “She has not made any progress toward starting her new business, either.”

“The economy is in a pretty bad place right now,” Daishou argued. “Work has been hard to find.”

“You’d be surprised what I see people do, to get out of paying support,” Judge Ukai said. “I see here from the financial printout that she was making approximately $5000 a month as an administrative assistant, does that sound accurate?”

Daishou turned to Lysia who nodded. “Yes, your honor.”

“Then the court finds that Ms. Hinata should pay support of $800 a month to Mr. Hinata,” Judge Ukai said.

Shouyou looked down at his hands, waiting for the rest, the part where it all went bad. There was no way it was going to work out like this.

“Your Honor, if I may?” Tsukishima asked, standing up once again.

“Yes, counsel?”

“Ms. Hinata has not paid support for the past eighteen months. I would like to ask the court to rectify that oversight?”

Judge Ukai seemed to consider it, and then took out a calculator. “Granted. The court finds that Ms. Hinata will pay $14,400 in back payments, payable $400 a month for the next thirty-six months.”

“Your Honor, one more thing?” Tsukishima asked. Shouyou turned to him slowly. Didn’t he know when to quit? Stop when he was ahead? What was he doing?

“Yes, counsel?”

“Ms. Hinata did not pay for any of Charlotte’s educational expenses for the last two years of preschool, either.” Tsukishima added.

“Your honor?” Daishou interjected.

“Yes, counsel?”

“Ms. Hinata did not agree to her daughter attending this school, and was not consulted.” Daishou replied.

“Mr. Hinata, did you include Ms. Hinata in the process of choosing a preschool?” Judge Ukai asked.

“I told her I was looking at a few places. I sent her the online reviews,” Shouyou answered truthfully. “I chose the school after interviewing at two others.”

“Did you invite her to the interview?” Judge Ukai asked.

“I—I’m sorry, your honor, I don’t remember,” Shouyou answered.

“Your Honor?” Tsukishima was at it again.

“Yes counsel?”

“If you refer to the text message chain on page 26 of Exhibit C, you can see where Mr. Hinata informed Ms. Hinata of the interviews he was conducting. She had plenty of time to respond and request to be included. If you refer to page 27, you can see where he informed her of his choice, Humpty Dumpty Daycare.” Tsukishima snickered. “And she tells him to, quote, ‘fuck off?’”

“I see that,” Judge Ukai said. “So, counsel, Ms. Hinata was informed, is that correct?”

“Yes,” Daishou said. “But she didn’t agree to—”

“The court finds that Ms. Hinata will pay half of the daycare expenses, at $400 a month for twenty months, which is $8000. She can make payments on this as well, just as she will pay the back support owed.” Judge Ukai seemed to be done. Shouyou was done. He couldn’t handle any more of this. He wanted to throw up still, even though things seemed to be going their way. Who knew when the judge might rule in Lysia’s favor instead?

“Your honor, if I may?”

Tsukishima was standing again. He was putting up basket after basket, just because he could. Three-pointers, half-court, it didn’t fucking matter, he was throwing the ball.

“Yes, counsel?”

“Mr. Hinata is also paying for his daughter’s medical insurance, and all her medical insurance. Completely on his own,” Tsukishima said.

“Ms. Hinata?” Judge Ukai said.

“Yes, your honor?”

“You are to pay 50% of any medical costs that the child has,” Judge Ukai explained to Lysia. “Even if you don’t have 50% custody. She is still your child,” he added, his tone admonitory. “Mr. Hinata will provide receipts, you will pay half of the costs. All of them.”

He turned to Shouyou. “I also recommend you no longer communicate through text messages. Instead, there are two online portals recommended by the court. You can choose either one, and the records can be requested by the court if necessary.” Shouyou nodded, his brain still trying to figure out what the fuck was going on.

The judge turned to Lysia. “Ms. Hinata, Mr. Hinata will upload the medical bills there. You will pay your support payments and back payments there. You will communicate through the online portal regarding visitation or any other issue that comes up. Mr. Hinata and you will complete the calendar function of the website with visitation dates scheduled for the year. If you cannot complete your visitation at the scheduled time and date, you will forfeit that time, it will not be rescheduled. Is that clear?” Lysia nodded. “Mr. Hinata?” Shouyou nodded.

“Dismissed. Wait in the hallway, we’ll type this up and I’ll sign it,” Judge Ukai said, as the two lawyers each murmured a “thank you, Your Honor.”

Tsukishima picked up his papers and put them away while Shouyou sat there in shock. After his briefcase was packed, he turned to leave. Shouyou watched him go, but then look back at him,  as if he had realized Shouyou wasn’t moving. Tsukishima nudged him. Shouyou shook his head, blinking, and stood up in a daze. He followed his lawyer out of the courtroom.

----------

As soon as Tobio saw Lysia throw open the double doors and stomp into the hallway, he jumped to his feet. She was followed by her lawyer, and Tsukishima, and there was the love of his life, looking like a train had just run him over.

Tobio walked to him as soon as Lysia and her lawyer strode past, wrapping his arm around him. He led Shouyou to their bench, and rubbed his shoulders, pressing kisses into his forehead. Shouyou looked up at him gratefully, his hands holding on to Tobio’s jacket, grasping the fabric like a drowning man clutching a life preserver. Tsukishima stood nearby, nonchalantly texting on his phone, seemingly without a care in the world.

“Shou, what happened?” Tobio murmured, looking over at the asshole, and her asshole boyfriend and asshole lawyer, who seemed to be joking about something, laughing amongst themselves. Lysia had her phone out and a smile plastered on her face.

“I don’t know why they’re so happy,” Shouyou said, and when Tobio looked at his face, he saw Shouyou looking over at Lysia too. “I just witnessed a fucking murder.” He met Tobio’s eyes, and Tobio saw an expression he had never seen there before. Was it hope?

Tobio wrapped both his arms around Shouyou and held him so tight it probably hurt him.

Shouyou gave him the play-by-play in the hallway, stopping every so often to confirm with Tsukishima and compliment him effusively. Tsukishima was game the first few times, but after that he started responding with an annoyed tch more than an actual answer, so Shouyou didn’t include him any further. Tobio realized the bastard was worth every penny he had paid him. Because he was a bastard, not in spite of it.

After they waited for and finally received the typed and signed finding of the court, they went home. It was almost one in the afternoon so they got some takeout and went home to eat and relax a bit. They had an hour before they had to pick up Charlotte.  

They ate as much as they could, considering they were both still worked up after the hearing. After they were done with the attempt, they changed out of their formal court clothes.

Tobio was in the bedroom in his underwear after hanging up his suit jacket and pants. He was deciding whether or not he needed to wash his shirt, when he felt strong arms wrap around his waist and soft lips press into his shoulder blades.

“Thank you,” Shouyou whispered, kissing him on his back again.

“For what?” Tobio said, throwing the shirt into the laundry basket by the foot of the bed, and turning to look at his boyfriend, also clad in just his boxers. “I did literally nothing except wait in a hallway.”

He watched Shouyou frown. “I wouldn’t call ‘paying for legal services’ nothing,” he said, kissing Tobio’s mouth. “I wouldn’t call ‘being a great boyfriend’ nothing,” he said, kissing his neck. “I wouldn’t call ‘loving me even though it’s not easy,’ nothing,” he said, licking his collarbone. Tobio sighed in contentment and ran his fingers through Shouyou’s hair.

“You’re wrong,” he said in a low voice, turning Shouyou toward the bed and pushing him gently so he fell onto his back. Tobio watched him stretch out on the mattress, his body lithe and flexible. “It’s so easy to love you.” He leaned over to kiss his boyfriend deeply, sighing when Shouyou answered the intrusion of his tongue with a moan. Tobio pulled his mouth away to look him in the eyes. “Are we really doing this right now?” he asked.

“Tobio,” Shouyou answered, licking his lips. “When are we not?

The guy had a point. Tobio licked into his mouth again, as Shouyou scooted up the bed, running his fingers over Tobio’s back, scratching him with his nails on either side of his spine. Tobio shivered and nipped at Shouyou’s lower lip, enjoying the noises he was enticing Shouyou to make with his mouth.

He was sure he could force him to make even more. He licked alongside Shouyou’s jaw, gently biting underneath the bone, in the place where it met his neck, careful not to leave any marks. Shouyou shivered in pleasure, pushing their chests together. Tobio felt his piercings press into his own nipples, the hard metal meeting the soft flesh. As Shouyou writhed against him, continuing to moan, Tobio’s nipples became less soft, and more painfully erect.

It wasn’t the only part of his body turning hard as a rock.

Tobio’s lips traced Shouyou’s shoulder, dipping down to his chest muscle before flicking his right nipple with his tongue. He lapped at the nub like an animal, before biting the metal barbell between his teeth. Shouyou gasped and bucked into the pain, before Tobio pressed the flat of his tongue into the skin in apology.

“Oh fuck, Tobio, nh,” Shouyou groaned, but he didn’t pull away.

“Sorry,” Tobio whispered, moving his tongue off the right side of Shouyou’s chest.

He wasn’t really sorry, though, as evidenced by the fact that he repeated the treatment on the other side with a smile.

Shouyou was trembling again, but this time it was in arousal instead of fear. Tobio knew how he could get him to shake even more.  He put his thumbs into Shouyou’s waistband and dragged his underwear down, exposing his hard, thick cock.  He wrapped one firm hand around him as he reached for the bedside table.

“Tobio, ahhh,” Shouyou said as Tobio’s hand twisted over his leaking slit. “Yeah, yeah,” he whispered. Tobio squeezed some lube into his other hand, warming it up, before pressing his cock against Shouyou’s, surrounding both of their lengths with one of his big hands.

“Like that,” Shouyou moaned, fingers scrabbling at Tobio’s thigh, scratching him with dull nails. Tobio began pumping their dicks together. “Fuck, fuckfuckfuck.”

“You like it?” Tobio asked, feeling the drag of the skin on skin contact, feeling how good Shouyou felt pressed alongside him, as he jacked them off against each other.

“Nh, yeah, yeah,” Shouyou said. “More, Tobio, fuck, harder.”

Tobio put his index finger between their lengths, rubbing along both the veins on the backs as his thumb wrapped around his own dick and the rest of his fingers squeezed around Shouyou’s. He pumped his hand up and down, feeling them both fuck into his fist, feeling the precum which was dripping out of both of them, as it added to the slippery mess they were making together.

“Nhhhh, you feel so good, Shou, I wish I had time to fuck you properly,” Tobio growled, feeling himself get closer and closer to coming.

“Nh, it's good, close,” Shouyou gasped. “Don’t stop, don’t stop.”

Tobio had no intention of stopping. Not until Shouyou was coming all over his fingers. He moved his hand faster, feeling himself getting close to the edge as well, and then Shouyou was writhing, calling his name, shooting pulses of cum over Tobio’s hands, over Tobio’s dick, and it was a mess and Tobio loved it. He followed Shouyou right off the cliff.

He stroked his cock slowly, wringing himself out, making sure Shouyou had nothing left to give either. They both flopped down on the bed, boneless, content.

“What time is it?” Shouyou asked sleepily.

“One forty-five,” Tobio sighed, looking over at the clock on the nightstand.

“We have to leave in fifteen minutes,” Shouyou said, but there was no urgency. “I’m getting up,” he said, and laid there, not getting up at all.

“Me too,” Tobio said, as he continued to lay there.

He heard Shouyou snoring softly. He reached over with his clean hand and nudged him.

“No sleeping, hey, hey,” he said, shaking him. “We’re going to be late to get Charlie, wake up.”

Shouyou made a noise that sounded like “fine” but was followed by a snore. Looks like I’m the responsible one today, Tobio thought. He knew Shouyou hadn’t slept well the night before. He had laid next to him as he tossed and turned, and every time he had awoken from a couple of hours of fitful sleep, Shouyou was wide awake. The poor man was exhausted. Tobio could let him take a ten-minute nap, at least.

He sat up and rolled out of bed. He went to the bathroom to clean up. Ten minutes. Then he’d wake Shouyou and make sure they got to Charlie on time.

----------

It was weird to be on the other side.

Usually, Shouyou was the teacher waiting to make sure his students got picked up by their parents safely, but today he was one of the parents at the gate to pick up their child. He recognized Charlotte with her orange hair from a mile away, and he and Tobio both gave her a big hug after she gave Hitoka the thumbs up and ran out to greet them.

Shouyou and Tobio were each holding one of her hands, ready to walk her back to the car, when Shouyou saw the principal, his boss, headed his way.

He had always been friendly with Dr. Gold so he was a little concerned when she waved him down with a serious look on her face.

“Hi, Dr. Gold, how are you? I’m fine, I’m not ditching, I swear,” Shouyou explained. “I had a court date so I called a sub, I’m just here to get Charlotte, just a parent today, ha.”

He usually didn’t talk so much when he was nervous. He was much more likely to shut down. But he was freaked the fuck out.

“Shouyou, don’t worry, you’re not in trouble,” Dr. Gold replied. “I just wanted to talk to you about something… odd. Can we have a little chat over here?”

She pointed over to the side of the pick-up area, somewhere where they wouldn’t be overheard, Shouyou assumed. He let go of Charlotte’s hand, gave Tobio a nervous shrug in response to his “what’s going on?” frown. He followed Dr. Gold over to the corner.

“What’s up?” Shouyou said, in an attempt to be a little lighthearted. But it came out as a squeak.

“I got a disturbing email,” Dr. Gold began. “It was about you, and it had a picture of you and your partner.” She motioned to Tobio. “What’s his name?”

“T-Tobio,” Shouyou stammered. What the actual fuck?

“He seems very nice, and Charlotte likes him a lot, huh?” Dr. Gold said with a smile, looking over to where Charlie was dancing around Tobio, seemingly regaling him with a story about her day.

“Yeah, he’s great,” Shouyou agreed warily, still unclear what was going on. He didn’t want to interrupt by screaming “give me a fucking explanation!” so he took a deep breath instead.

“Sorry, went off track a little there. They just look so happy together,” Dr. Gold continued. “So, this email, it was from an anonymous source, signed ‘a concerned parent.’ I guess they were concerned that one of our teachers was in a relationship with a man.” She shook her head. “It’s the twenty-twenties, for crying out loud. The fact that anyone is concerned about two men dating each other is absolutely ludicrous.”

Shouyou couldn’t stop the gasp that came out of his mouth at the idea that Lysia had literally contacted his job. About him. About him and Tobio.

Dr. Gold went on. “I sent this ‘concerned parent’ a copy of our diversity and equity policy and said you were a valued member of our staff, and if they had any problems they could make an appointment to see me. I haven’t heard back,” she continued. “But I wanted you to know, just in case someone is trying a smear job or something.”

Shouyou felt the tension drain out of his body. He wasn’t in trouble. He would be fine. His school loved him, his principal would back him up. He had an ally. It was a relief to finally have someone fighting for him, instead of against him.

“My ex-wife and I were in court today,” Shouyou said with a sigh. “She lost her bid for custody. She’s… trying to hurt me somehow, I think.”

Dr. Gold nodded in understanding. “Make sure the school has a copy of the agreement once it’s finalized,” she said. “That way in case she tries to sign her out or anything we have the legal documentation that she’s not allowed to.”

“Good idea,” Shouyou agreed.

“I’m sorry you have to go through this,” Dr. Gold added. “We’re here for you, okay? We’ll see you tomorrow, alright?”

Shouyou smiled. It was nice to have people on his side.

“See you tomorrow,” he said, waving, as he walked back to Tobio and Charlotte, who were picking up leaves and comparing colors and sizes. He walked up to hear Tobio explaining the difference between evergreen and deciduous trees. Charlotte hung on his every word.

“Everything okay?” Tobio asked, as Shouyou walked up.

“Talk later?” Shouyou said with a smile that he knew Tobio would recognize as false.

“Today we learned about seasons,” Charlie was gushing. “It’s almost winter, you know that? In almost a week!”

“You know what else is almost a week away? Papa’s birthday,” Shouyou grinned, as he and Tobio swung Charlie between them. Charlotte was overjoyed at the idea of another birthday celebration.

“Daddy, can we make a cake?” she squealed. “Like we did for your birthday?”

“A fabulous idea,” Shouyou said, as he opened the car doors and Charlie clambered inside, snapping herself into her car seat. “He’s turning thirty too, so we have to make sure we have enough candles.”

“Thirty-two?” Charlotte asked. “He’s older than you, Daddy!” she said.

“I’m actually older,” Shouyou laughed, as he pulled away from the school. “By six months.”

“But you said thirty-two! Thirty-two comes after thirty. This is math, Daddy,” she argued adorably, and Shouyou laughed.

“He’s thirty, comma, too, Charlie. Like, thirty also.” Shouyou giggled. “It’s not a math problem, it’s an English problem.”

He looked over at Tobio as they stopped at a light, as if to say, “are you catching this adorableness?” But Tobio was looking at his phone and frowning.

“Babe?” Shouyou said, knocking his knee with his hand playfully. “You okay?”

“Talk later,” Tobio murmured, and Shouyou recognized his own words. Okay, they’d talk later.

After they drove home, they went into the house, and finally ended up in the kitchen. Then they were trying to figure out what was for dinner, and Shouyou took out his phone to add Paprika to the grocery list app because Tobio said they were almost out. That’s when he saw he had twelve missed calls.

His phone had been on silent, and he hadn’t had any reason to look at it, so he hadn’t realized his mother had been calling. And calling.

He hoped it wasn’t about the same thing Dr. Gold had told him about, but he had a sinking feeling that they were related. He set Charlie up at the dining table with her homework. Tobio said he would make sure she did it all, and Charlotte fixed him with such a look of betrayal that Shouyou had to leave before he burst out laughing.

He went into his bedroom, took a deep breath, and called his mom back.

“Shouyou,” his mom answered the phone, and Shouyou knew. It was over. The fragile peace that had existed between them for the past ten years was about to be shattered.

“Mom,” he replied, trying to match her tone.

“I had an interesting conversation with Lysia, after she messaged me a picture of you and some man,” she sputtered. “Kissing in public? He lives with you? He lives with Charlotte?”

“Yes, mom, his name is Tobio.” Shouyou was going to stick to the facts. He was too afraid of what would he would say if he started throwing around his opinions.

“Shouyou, you know… you know your father and I don’t approve. It’s not good for Charlotte to be exposed to that kind of… thing.”

“Charlie is exposed to people who love her, mom, that’s what she’s exposed to,” Shouyou said.

He was so tired. Tired of trying to keep her and his father happy, tired of hiding who he was, tired of lying to himself. It was fucking exhausting. Why did he try so hard to placate them? What were they offering? An opportunity to feel bad about himself? He wanted Charlotte to know her grandparents, but what was the cost?

“So you’re going to continue living this way?” his mother was saying now. Shouyou sighed.

“With someone who loves me and my daughter? Yes, mom, I am.”

“Then I can’t be a part of it, Shouyou, I’m sorry,” she said, not sounding sorry at all.

Shouyou wanted to be sad. But the tears that were quick to make an appearance for any little thing didn’t show up this time. He even tried to clarify.

“Okay, so then I’m like, out of the family?” he asked, just to make sure.

“As long as you’re living as a homosexual, yes,” his mother said, her voice a declaration.

And Shouyou felt… nothing. Except a vague sense of relief? That he wouldn’t have to deal with any of them anymore? Wouldn’t have to walk on eggshells, wouldn’t have to coordinate visits to their place, wouldn’t have to be the butt of any more jokes. He was free of them. Free.

What a gift.

“You know that means I won’t bring Charlie over to visit,” he said slowly, as if he was talking to an idiot. Because he was.

“Lysia has assured us we’ll see Charlotte when she has visitation,” his mother replied matter-of-factly. Shouyou raised an eyebrow. We’ll see how long that lasts. “This is goodbye,” she added dramatically, and Shouyou had to stifle a laugh. I see where I get it from.

“Merry Christmas,” Shouyou said, ending the call.

----------

While Tobio supervised Charlotte’s math, which seemed to involve very little counting and a whole lot of coloring, he looked at the email one more time.

To: Tobio Kageyama

From: Kaori Kageyama

Subject: Picture?

Hello Tobio,

Your father and I both received an email from an unknown sender, that contained a photo of you and another man holding each other and kissing. The email said they thought we should know what kind of person our son was.

Tobio, I am so glad you have found someone you seem to love very much. You two look so happy together. Is he your boyfriend? Or husband?

We would love to hear from you, even just an email would be nice. It was so lovely to see the picture of you. Your hair has gotten so long.

Love,

Mom

The last email he had gotten from his mother was a few months ago, letting him know that they were sending some of his mail to his apartment. He hadn’t even replied.

A few weeks ago, he had an actual phone conversation with his father, and now, this. A hand reaching out in three whole paragraphs. For the first time in years. For the first time, ever?

What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?

“Papa sad?” Charlotte asked, reaching over with her tiny hand to touch his face. Tobio blinked and realized there was a tear running down his cheek.

“Happy. Maybe?” he choked out, clearing his throat.

Charlie nodded in understanding. “Daddy does happy crying too. Kind of a lot. He says tears are okay, though. Sometimes the emotions are too big and you have to let them out.” She went back to joyfully coloring a turtle shocking pink.

Just then, the bedroom door opened, and Shouyou came out of the hallway. His shoulders were sagging like he was exhausted. Tobio felt it too. What a fucking day.

Tobio stood up from the dining table and walked over to his boyfriend, pulling him in for a hug. Shouyou wrapped his strong arms around his waist. Tobio bent his head and put his forehead on the shoulder of the man he loved. They both sighed deeply, comforting each other in the shared weight they carried.

“Me too, me too,” Charlotte cried, getting in between the two of them like a sandwich filling, threading her body through their knees. They all laughed, and Shouyou picked her up. She wrapped her legs around his chest and Tobio enveloped both of them in his arms. “Family hug,” Charlie cooed.

My family, Tobio thought, holding them close. We get to be a family.

Chapter Text

“So I told her, ‘sorry, ma’am, we’re all gay here,’” Suga giggled, shaking his head in disbelief. “And she was like ‘I’m never coming to the library again!’ and I said, ‘you seem so uneducated I refuse to believe you’ve ever actually been here!’ but by then she had hung up,” he cawed, looking over at Tobio with a shit-eating grin. “Come on, I was proud of that comeback, someone needs to appreciate it.”

“Good one,” Tobio muttered. He really did appreciate Suga sticking up for him, but he was still a little in shock. Tobio didn’t expect that Lysia would call his work too. Like, what was she trying to do? Get him and Shouyou fired for being gay? There were literally laws against that.

There were laws against harassment, too. Tobio asked Tsukishima what their options were, and five hundred dollars later, the lawyer had it handled with a strongly worded letter. He told them to let him know if she kept bothering them. He’d escalate it at that point.

Tobio was at a weird place mentally. In less than ten days he’d be thirty. In a little over two weeks he was having dinner at his parents’ house, seeing them for the first time since he had lived there. Shouyou was now not speaking to his parents. What the fuck?

“Tobio?” Suga asked, the worried lilt to his voice a measured change from his triumphant screeching earlier. “It’s okay, you know? Everything is going to be okay?”

Tobio looked at him stupidly. “Huh?”

“You just seemed upset and I was trying to comfort you,” Suga said, his head tilted, arms bent, and hands up, a human interpretation of the shruggy kaomoji.

Tobio blinked, looked to the right, and opened his mouth to say something, before finally deciding on a scowl and a loud tch.

“There you are!” Suga squealed, wrapping an arm around Tobio’s shoulder, which he threw off immediately. “I missed you, my friend!”

He went back to doing whatever Sugas did in the back room. It looked a lot like playing on his phone. Tobio watched him from over where he was organizing his books.

“What are you doing for your birthday?” Suga asked, after a minute of silence, which was probably a new record for him. Tobio shrugged. “What does that mean? You going to shrug for your birthday? Come on, Tobio.”

“My birthday’s not important,” Tobio tried to explain. “Christmas is three days later, and we get to have Charlotte this year, and Shouyou’s not talking to his parents. So we’re having a family Christmas for just the three of us.” He exhaled. He wasn’t used to saying so many sentences in a row. It was exhausting.

“Awwwww!” Suga cooed, like he had just seen a cute puppy and not one Tobio Kageyama, looking at him like he wanted to punch him.

“What are you getting Daichi for Christmas?” Tobio asked, trying to change the subject, before he realized he was engaging Suga in conversation and inviting him to answer a fucking question.

“Hm,” Suga said, one finger to his chin. “Thinking about wrapping a bow around me, and saying I’m the present.”

Tobio nodded. That was on brand. Then he thought about the extra gift he had given Shouyou on his birthday and willed himself to stop blushing. He failed miserably.

“I see that, Tobio,” said eagle-eyed Suga. “Spill it.”

----------

Shouyou wanted to make sure Tobio’s thirtieth birthday was as wonderful as his had been. He couldn’t throw him a dinner party, his cooking wasn’t as advanced, and Tobio straight up told him to not invite a bunch of people over.

But the man needed to be celebrated. Shouyou didn’t know what to get him. Books? Tobio would be much better at choosing the titles he wanted. Cooking supplies? That was a little presumptuous, like “use this to make me some food, get your ass back in the kitchen.” Plus, again, Tobio would be much better at picking out what he liked. Shouyou thought his kitchen tools were a-okay before Tobio came along and pronounced them hot trash.

What did that leave? Running shoes? Again, Tobio was the expert there. A gift card, so Tobio could choose what he wanted? Fuck, that was lame. And not like Shouyou was the one with a bunch of money to throw around, like a sugar daddy telling his sugar baby to “pick something nice out for yourself, sweetheart.”

What the fuck subject was Shouyou an expert on, that Tobio wasn’t? What did Shouyou like that Tobio also enjoyed, some area where he could pick something out and make him happy?

And then it came to him, almost like lightning. Shouyou opened his computer and logged on.

----------

Tobio didn’t want much for his birthday. All he wanted was time with his family. Charlotte and Shouyou.

Tobio was happy it was at least a day off from work. The holidays were always stressful, as people looked for a great book to take on an airplane, or something. Tobio didn’t understand why people wanted research materials for any reason, but he supposed some people got off on reading heavily peer-reviewed nonfiction at thirty-six thousand feet.

Tobio woke up to an empty bed, which at first was familiar, but then he realized he was no longer a lonely asshole, and there should be a beautiful tangerine fluffball laying next to him.  After a moment of bleary confusion, the door opened with a “happy birthday Papa!” and not one but two orange fluffballs were bringing him breakfast in bed. With a classy covered tray, even. He didn’t even need to lift the cloche over his plate to figure out that it was pancakes. Charlotte’s dress was covered in so much flour that it puffed up in tiny clouds as she bounced around.

He told them he preferred to eat breakfast at the dining table, because the idea of dripping syrup onto his bedsheets, and the inevitable ant infestation that would follow, made him lose his appetite completely. His family took the declaration in stride and skipped his meal back to the dining table. He followed after a moment, first putting on some clothes. Sitting with his pancakes, he tried to enjoy the breakfast-in-bed that was no longer in bed, but the two of them were sitting across from him, staring at him, watching him chew, having eaten their meal earlier.

They ended up making him so uncomfortable he couldn’t even finish the delicious pancakes. He sipped his tea and asked the two of them what was on the agenda for the day.

The look father and daughter shared was straight out of a comic book. Raised eyebrows, clever smile. Tobio looked down into his half-eaten breakfast and smiled. How did he get so lucky?

An hour later, they were in the car, driving to a “secret location” that Shouyou and Charlotte knew about but Tobio didn’t. He had an idea, since they were headed east on Interstate 90, and Tobio could think of one place he’d be interested in seeing out that way.

When they pulled off the highway onto Snoqualmie Parkway, Tobio let himself smile. They drove ten minutes and pulled into a parking lot, unloading Charlotte’s stroller, and walking with the other people headed toward the beautiful waterfall.

Tobio always scoffed at the tourists who showed up to the Seattle Central Library, with their self-guided tours or cellphones on selfie sticks. But on a deeper level, he understood that he worked somewhere special, with plenty of beautiful art, and light, and photo opportunities.

He understood his annoying tourists a little better now, as he gazed upon the two hundred and seventy foot waterfall, the mist cloudy in the early winter air. The trees were lush and green pines, a Washington State special. The air was fresh and clean, the winter chill refreshing and icy. As Tobio looked at the water, just normal water, completely transformed by falling from twenty-seven stories onto the Snoqualmie River below. He felt a peace beyond understanding wash over him.

Shouyou let him stare, taking Charlotte out of the stroller and letting her run around the deck where other tourists were taking pictures and talking loudly about nature’s wonder.  Tobio stood, pondering life’s greatest mysteries, for about fifteen minutes.

“Babe?” Shouyou asked softly, rubbing his shoulder. “You wanna go for a quick run?”

What was it, his birthday? Fuck yeah, he did.

The trail was a mile and a half, and paved the whole way, so Tobio could push the stroller while they jogged at a leisurely pace. Shouyou said they could do it twice, and after a little less than half an hour, they had come back to the beginning for the second time and Tobio was smiling like a happy idiot.

It was nearly lunchtime, and they stopped by the gift shop. Charlotte insisted they buy the pancake mix and syrup, since they were low for some reason, so they bought both. Shouyou snuck in some candy for Charlotte and Tobio gave him a smile. Charlie could have anything she wanted.

They drove back home, stopping for lunch at Danbo Ramen. Shouyou smiled as Tobio slurped his noodles and told him he was going to get a special dinner. Tobio raised an eyebrow. Shouyou cooking for him? He couldn’t wait.

By the time they got home it was already two, and the next thing on the agenda was painting, which was quickly becoming one of their small family’s birthday traditions. Unlike Shouyou’s birthday’s splashfest, today would be a portrait session. Shouyou put on a chill playlist and they all took turns sitting for each other, posing as the other person painted the portrait.

Charlotte decided she wanted to paint Tobio, as a birthday present. Shouyou and Tobio did a round of rock-paper-scissors to eventually determine that Shouyou would paint Charlotte, and Tobio would paint Shouyou.

Charlotte finished her painting quickly. It definitely resembled Tobio. There was some paint and marker involved, and she had added pointy ears and whiskers to “make him better.” Tobio had to agree. He was a good-looking cat person. She was currently watching an episode of Sesame Street and singing along to the Elmo’s World theme song as Shouyou finished his picture.

Tobio, on the other hand, Tobio was stuck. He looked at his blank piece of paper, and as both Charlie and Shouyou finished their artwork, what seemed originally to be a fun activity was turning into a source of stress. Where was he even supposed to begin? He had little to no artistic talent.

His face must have given away his feelings of frustration, because when Shouyou looked up from his finished masterpiece, seriously, how does he do that so quickly and so well, it looks just like her, a worried furrow appeared between his eyebrows. He stood up and walked behind Tobio’s chair, draping his arms over his shoulders and pressing a sweet kiss into his temple. Tobio melted into the touch, his eyes fluttering shut as he released a deep breath he didn’t even know he was holding. Shouyou breathed a small laugh at his reaction.

“You okay?” he asked quietly, pushing his nose into his ear, his lips barely brushing the lobe. The sensation made goosebumps break out all over his arms.

“I don’t—” Tobio sighed, opening his eyes and looking at the blank paper with a scowl. As if art would magically art itself onto the page if he was mad about it. “I don’t know what to do.”

He wanted the picture to represent what he saw. The lights that danced in Shouyou’s eyes. The way his freckles were light and barely there, like a line of headlights in the fog. The vibrance of his hair, his smile, his presence.

He had a white piece of paper. Blank.

“First, start with the shape of the face,” Shouyou said, his hand wrapping around Tobio’s, which was holding a pencil. “Most people make a circle when they learn to draw. But most faces are ovals. We can make an oval to start.”

He sketched out a rough oval on the paper. Tobio was already impressed.

“We can add a neck, and some shoulders,” Shouyou continued, sketching them in on one side. “You try,” he said, and Tobio imitated the light touch, making the other side look like the one Shouyou had did. As best he could.

“Look at me,” Shouyou said softly, and Tobio looked up at him. He had moved his face away a bit, so Tobio could take in the whole thing. It was like staring at the sun.

“The rule of thirds,” Shouyou said, and held out his thumb and index finger, as if he would measure from under his eyebrow to his hairline. He then took the measurement and it went from his eyebrow to the bottom of his nose, and finally, from the bottom of his nose to his chin. “A human’s face can be divided into thirds, so let’s do that next.” He put some light pencil lines across the oval, dividing it into three sections.

“Now I’ll sit here and you can draw me,” he said, taking the chair next to Tobio’s, where Charlotte had been sitting earlier. He moved her still-moist paper out of the way so he didn’t accidentally put an elbow into it. He looked into Tobio’s eyes and he felt his heart beating faster. It wasn’t beating faster with the pressure of being put on the spot with the spontaneous art lesson. It was beating faster out of astonishment, surprise that such an amazing human being would ever want to spend time with a person like him. Spend a life with him. He watched Shouyou lick his lips and found himself mirroring the gesture.

“Start with my eyebrows,” Shouyou said. “That’s what goes just below the top line.”

Tobio sketched the rough shape of the eyebrows, trying to get the angle right. He had to erase his fuckups a couple of times, but he was able to get them mostly looking like eyebrows.

“That’s great,” Shouyou said, using his best elementary teacher voice. But Tobio didn’t mind being treated like a second grader. He’d seen their work on the walls of Shouyou’s classroom. Most of those kids had far more artistic ability than he did.

“Next, let’s do the nose,” Shouyou said. “That’s the hardest part. Noses are weird looking.” He used his thumb and forefinger again, measuring the sides of his nose up to the corners of his eyes. “The edges of your nose usually line up with the corners of your eyes,” he said. “Most of the time.” He leaned forward and took Tobio’s pencil, putting in light marks to represent the rough area where the nose and eyes should be. As he leaned forward, Tobio dipped his head down, pressing a quick kiss behind Shouyou’s ear, breathing in the smell of his hair. Shouyou giggled at the ticklish feeling and Tobio smiled at the reaction.

“Tobio,” Shouyou whispered. He had finished his pencil marks and leaned away, but he wasn’t sitting back in his chair. Their faces were an inch apart. Shouyou’s eyes were almost crossed as they focused on Tobio’s lips. Tobio crossed the small distance, pushing their mouths together, feeling his boyfriend inhale in surprise before he started kissing him back.

He had intended for the kiss to be chaste, but Shouyou ran his tongue along the seam of his lips, and Tobio opened his mouth with a hum. Shouyou licked into him once, twice, before pulling his lower lip into his mouth and sucking on it gently. Tobio was glad Charlotte was facing away from them, and he tried to stay quiet as Shouyou grabbed a fistful of his hair, tugging it by the roots.

Shouyou pulled away with a breathy noise that was almost a laugh and sat on the chair. “Can’t, um,” he cleared his throat. “Can’t keep going in that direction. We’ve got art to do!” He recovered from the impromptu makeout session and gifted Tobio a dazzling smile. “Try my nose,” he said. “Just follow the guide I put down for you.”

Tobio looked up at the man, and down at his paper. He filled in two curvy lines, one headed down each side of the nose shape. He tried to draw the nostrils and the bottom of the nose, but just like the eyebrows, he had to try and erase a few attempts before he got it mostly right. He added some lines on the sides, where it looked like Shouyou had some. Fuck, he didn’t know what he was doing at all.

“That looks really good,” Shouyou said. He was an excellent liar. “Try the eyes,” he said.

Tobio took a deep breath. Fuck, this was the hardest part. Shouyou’s eyes were like stars, twinkling with love and life and beauty. Tobio used a light hand, but he wasn’t going to be able to do them justice. He penciled and erased over and over again, and tried not to get angry about the fact that he was ruining the work he had done already.

“Hey,” Shouyou said softly, running his fingertips along his left hand, the hand that was resting next to his paper on the table top, currently fisted with white knuckles. “Just do the best you can.”

“I want to do it right,” Tobio mumbled.

Shouyou waved a hand. “Who cares about right?” he said with a smile. “Look at this.” He held out Charlotte’s painting. “Do you have cat ears in real life? What’s this thing over here, anyway?” He pointed to a strange group of squiggles Charlie had added in the background using marker.

“A birthday cake, I think.”

“All that matters,” Shouyou said, as he turned his head and the paper from side to side, trying to figure out the mystery shape. “All that matters, is that she loves it. That makes it art. That’s all you have to do. Just put it out there and after a while, you get better, it gets easier.”

Tobio looked at the eyes he had sketched and erased, for what felt like a hundred times. He looked up at Shouyou. He put a mark on the page. He did the best he could.

“Now, the mouth,” Shouyou said, sliding Tobio’s paper across the table to where he was sitting, not risking another lean-over into his space. Trying to prevent anything inappropriate. Tobio felt like pouting, and when Shouyou held out his hand for the pencil, he contemplated holding it next to him, so Shouyou would have to come closer to his side of the table to grab it. But he handed it over instead.

“The corners of your mouth line up with the middle of the eyes,” Shouyou was explaining, drawing two faint lines down from the middle of the eyes to the bottom thirds line. “So the mouth will be on this line,” he said, drawing a horizontal smudge a bit under the nose. “As wide as these lines here.” He handed the paper back, and pointed to the pencil marks with his finger. Tobio looked up, back down at the paper. He got an approximation of Shouyou’s mouth and called it good.

“The ears go here,” Shouyou pointed, on each side of the oval, almost on the same parallel where the nose went. Tobio followed the instructions. “And the hair, well,” Shouyou laughed and threw up his hands. “Who knows.”

Tobio sketched out a rough shape to represent Shouyou’s hair. It wasn’t working for some reason. He realized what it needed. He pulled over the watercolors, and used the paintbrush to splash some orange onto the page. He looked up at Shouyou’s hair, recognizing that it wasn’t just one shade. Red, yellow, brown, he threw it all on there. He colored in the eyes too. It helped capture their essence a little better than pencil alone, but the overall picture was less than perfect.

In the end, he was left with nothing more than an impression. There was none of the life in his lover’s cheeks, the sparkle in his eyes, the flame of his forehead. Tobio sighed.

“It’s okay, Tobio,” Shouyou murmured, looking into his eyes for a moment, but looking into his soul for the rest of his life.

“Huh?” Tobio responded, stupid with the love he felt for his man, idiotic in the knowledge that he would do anything, anything at all, if it meant they could spend the rest of their lives together, painting bad portraits at the dining table as the sun headed west.

“I get it,” Shouyou said with a patient smile. “Art is hard.”

“I can’t.”

Tobio meant to say, I can’t capture your essence. I can’t make this paper reflect all that is you, I’m a failure. Shouyou took his hand.

“Let me see,” he said, pulling it toward himself. He looked down at the thick weave watercolor paper, back at Tobio, back at the page.

“It’s beautiful,” he said, with a smile.

Tobio found himself smiling back. As long as Shouyou liked it, everything was fine.

Family Portraits

A few hours later, Tobio lay in bed, not really reading but holding a book, absentmindedly wondering what was taking Shouyou so long in the shower.

He thought about the breakfast, and the run, and the painting, and the amazing dinner Shouyou had put together. Tobio asked him how he had learned to make Chicken Tikka Masala and the answer, of, course, was YouTube. Tobio’s weapon of choice.

As if his happy thoughts had summoned him, Shouyou came in to the bedroom, towel around his waist, hair still damp. He knelt down and pulled out a gift-wrapped box from its hiding place under the bed.

“I would sing happy birthday,” he said, kneeling on the blankets as Tobio put his book on the nightstand. “But I don’t think anything can top earlier.”

Tobio smiled. Shouyou had videotaped their off-key rendition as they brought in their cake, replete with 32 candles. Charlotte had insisted that’s how many Papa needed.

Shouyou held out the box, and Tobio took it. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had gotten him a gift, hopeful he would enjoy it, watching him open it with excitement.

He undid the ribbon and looked inside. Nestled in the tissue paper were two objects. One was circular and rubbery, with a J shaped attachment. The top of the J was skinny and attached to a ring. The curved side was thicker, with nubs on it. He had no idea what the thing was. The other object in the box was a butt plug. Yeah, he could recognize that one.

“So here’s what I’m thinking,” Shouyou said, in his low sexy voice that drove Tobio wild, but he would absolutely never let on, because Shouyou would have a field day with that shit. “I want you to wear the cockring with the prostate stimulator while you fuck me, because I think it will feel amazing for you. It’ll be amazing for me, too, since it makes your dick harder, and you'll last longer. And the butt plug, that’s for you to wear later. I want to fuck you, I want to come inside you, and I want you to keep it in you.” He made a motion like he was corking a bottle of wine. He made the sound effect too, his shiny pink lips popping as if he were smacking a kiss.

Tobio didn’t want to let on how much that fucking turned him on. He tried to put a nonchalant look on his face, but he knew he was probably failing, because his dick was rock hard at the idea. “Okay,” he attempted to say.

“Come home on your lunch break next week,” Shouyou suggested, laying his towel on the bed, pushing Tobio back into the pillows, and straddling him. “I’m going to fuck you and plug you, and you can go back to work, knowing I filled you up with my cum. Knowing it’s in you.”

Tobio tried to speak but all the came out was a hoarse squeaking noise. Shouyou was being so obscene he could hardly breathe.

“Fuck yeah, Tobio. I can tell you like it,” Shouyou said, licking up the side of his neck as his hand stroked Tobio’s hard cock. “You’re so nasty. I love how dirty you are.”

And then he was smashing their mouths together, and pushing his tongue between Tobio’s lips. Tobio’s hips bucked up of their own free will, and Shouyou laughed into his mouth, getting off on how turned on he was. After kissing him with tongue and teeth, Shouyou slid off his lap to grab the lube.

“I’m going to put it on you,” Shouyou warned, as he slicked up Tobio’s dick, smiling at his groans. He slipped the ring over Tobio’s cock and balls. It felt tight but not too uncomfortable. He lubed up the other end of the toy and pressed it to Tobio’s entrance. Tobio relaxed so it could slip in. It was bigger than one of Shou’s fingers, but not too big. It nestled right up against his prostate on the inside, and his perineum on the outside. Tobio shuddered.

“Good?” Shouyou asked, from his place just above Tobio’s hips. Tobio swallowed with an audible click.

“Yeah,” he replied.

“Good,” Shouyou said, and lowered his mouth down onto his dick.

“Nh, nh,” Tobio said. He had meant to say, “yes, Shou,” or “that’s good,” but his powers of speech left him when Shouyou’s throat was swallowing around his cock. He was relaxing into the attention Shouyou was giving him, when suddenly the thing in his ass was vibrating, and Tobio gasped.

Shouyou popped his mouth off of his dick and huffed a laugh.

“Did I mention it vibrates?” Shouyou said, showing Tobio the remote control in his hand, as he kicked up the vibrations a level.

“Shou, oh, oh, oh,” Tobio sighed, as Shouyou lowered his wet mouth back onto his cock, pumping the base with a tight fist as he tongued the tip sweetly. Fuck, Tobio had been fingered while Shouyou blew him, but not like this, never like this.

And then Shouyou’s mouth was off him, and Shouyou was naked, and Shouyou was straddling him.

“I know you love it when I suck you off,” he said, as he lined his entrance up with Tobio’s dick. “But I’d rather you fuck me, okay?”

And then he was sinking down, enveloping Tobio in his tight wet heat, and Tobio couldn’t think past how did he stretch himself out already?

“In the shower,” Shouyou answered him. I guess I said that last part out loud, Tobio thought, or thought he thought, but then Shouyou was laughing, and Tobio didn’t know what was what anymore, he only knew fuck, and Shouyou.

And fuck, Shouyou was riding him like a wave, a filthy wave, punctuating each roll with a swivel and a swirl, and Tobio was moaning lowly, grabbing handfuls of his thick ass and bucking up into him as Shouyou leaned forward to kiss him.

Nah, fuck that. Tobio pulled his chest forward, instead of his mouth, tonguing his nipple, biting into the metal as Shouyou gasped. Tobio moved his mouth to the other nipple and moved his other hand to Shouyou’s dick.

He couldn’t be the only one who had all the fun.

“Gaaaaah, Tobio, what the fuck,” Shouyou said, changing the vibrator to a pulsing setting.

Tobio threw his head back and whined, trying to keep quiet. The last thing they needed was to be so loud that Charlotte woke up.

Shouyou pulled his knees up, planting his feet flat on either side of Tobio’s chest. Bending his chest over his knees, deep in a squat, he started bouncing on Tobio’s cock in a quick rhythm. Their faces were an inch apart.

“Can I kiss you this time? Or are you gonna be nasty again?” Shouyou asked, biting his bottom lip and stretching it out. Tobio still kept stroking Shouyou’s dick with one hand and used the other to grab big handfuls of his ass.

Tobio growled and Shouyou laughed, bringing their mouths together, licking into him as he started to breathe quickly through his nose. Tobio responded by bucking up into Shouyou while he fucked his dick with his fist as hard as he could.

“Nh, nh, nh, Tobio,” Shouyou gasped, and Tobio felt him tighten around him.

“Come for me Shou,” Tobio said. “Let me feel you.”

“No,” Shouyou growled, pulling himself off of Tobio’s cock, kneeling forward, and pushing his cock between his lips. “I want you to taste me.”

He grabbed Tobio’s hair and started skullfucking him, gagging him on every thrust and fuck yes Tobio was into this, into this so much, fucking shit—

“You fucking love it, Tobio, yeah, suck my dick, make me come, make me come,” Shouyou babbled, as he fucked into his mouth, snapping his hips.

Tobio tried to agree, but all he could do was call Shouyou’s name, which came out in a series of muffled moans as tears sprang to his eyes.

And then Shouyou was coming down his throat with a near yell, and Tobio was swallowing every drop, lapping at his slit, for more, more.

Shouyou fell onto his side, boneless, and Tobio followed him, pulling him down the bed so his head was in the pillows. Tobio hovered over his trembling body, kissing him slowly, deeply, before pulling off his mouth so he could take a deep, gasping breath.

“You okay?” Tobio asked, kissing Shouyou’s neck gently, licking his shoulder, biting into his chest muscle and relishing the arch of his boyfriend’s back off the bed.

“Ahhhh,” Shouyou said, as a reply, hands grabbing at Tobio’s hair.

“I’m going to fuck you some more, ‘kay?” Tobio asked, lining himself up against Shouyou’s entrance a second time.

“Tobio, I—” Shouyou replied, but the rest of his sentence ended in a silent wail as Tobio thrust inside. “Yessssss,” he whined, his eyes squeezing shut as Tobio fucked into him harder.

“You feel so good,” Tobio groaned, as he picked up Shouyou’s legs and threw them over his forearms. He pushed in even further, picking up his pace. Shouyou was fucking him back, and reaching for something.

Tobio realized he found what he was looking for when he felt the vibrator click up two more levels, and suddenly his orgasm was closer than it had been all day.

“Shou, I, nh,” Tobio said, pounding into him even harder, hearing him sob quietly.

“Give it to me, Tobio, come inside,” Shouyou gasped.

Tobio felt himself squeeze the vibrator inside of him as his cock kicked, thick gobs of cum spurting into his lover. It was more intense than usual, helped along by the vibrator against his prostate. He thrust into Shouyou with every pulse of his cock, relishing how much easier it was to slip in and out with the extra lubrication his orgasm provided.

But as he came down, the vibrator inside him stopped feeling good and started feeling past good.

“Ow, ow, ow,” Tobio moaned, and Shouyou shut off the vibrator, his hand dropping to the bed afterward as if it weighed a hundred pounds.

Tobio flopped next to him. He lay on the bed spread eagled, his arms and legs shaking, a sheen of sweat over his chest.

“Habby firfdy,” Shouyou mumbled. Tobio turned to him, kissing him on his forehead.

“Thank you,” Tobio laughed. “I love you.”

“Lubya too,” Shouyou yawned.

“Oh no you don’t,” Tobio said, sitting up off the bed, dragging Shouyou by his feet until he had almost fallen off, at which point Shouyou woke up a little and squawked loudly. Tobio shushed him. “Don’t wake up Charlotte!” he hissed.

“Then you should have let me sleep!” Shouyou hissed back. “I would be quiet as fuck if I were asleep, Tobio!”

“I don’t want to have to clean up after your sleepy ass, on my birthday,” Tobio laughed as Shouyou got to his feet. He opened the door to peek into the hallway. Once he was sure Shouyou’s loudness hadn’t awakened Charlie, he pushed him into the hallway and then the bathroom.

Best birthday ever, Tobio thought, looking at over at Shouyou, who was brushing his teeth while he waited for the shower to warm up. He smiled at him through a mouth full of toothpaste. Best boyfriend ever.

Chapter Text

Three days after Tobio’s birthday, the three of them celebrated a small family Christmas together, and Shouyou was so excited to be estranged from his parents.

His parents only had the one grandchild, and so every year they insisted “Christmas morning” was to be celebrated at their house. Shouyou could only ever afford a few things, and his parents couldn’t afford anything at all, but they had enough credit cards to play a poker game with a full deck. They spent money they didn’t have buying things Charlotte didn’t need.

One year they could hardly see the artificial tree, dwarfed by the bounty of pure garbage they had bought her.

Shouyou went through the things every time, putting half away so he could pull out a few toys a month for the next half a year. Then he’d pick out what he could donate. His parents always complained, saying he was the bad guy, even though there was nowhere near enough room in their two-bedroom apartment to store all the stuff they bought her. Clothes, shoes, games, toys, it was always too much. Too much. He preferred the simple life.

But this year, this year was different.

They were still up early, but instead of having to drive to Grandma’s house, they were able to see that Santa had come to their home this year, and he had brought a couple of presents for Charlotte.

“He ate the milk and cookies too!” Charlie squealed, looking at the crumbs left on the plate and the empty glass alongside it.

Baking the cookies the day after Tobio’s birthday had been an adventure in itself. How did they always end up with flour everywhere? At least the photos were adorable.

Charlie opened her gifts: a couple of new books, a floofy nightgown, and a princess playset that came with a castle. She persuaded them to play a round of princess adventures together, but Shouyou insisted he and Tobio open their gifts first.

Tobio had gotten Shouyou two new rashguards, a fetching shade of brown to match his new belt. They were the good kind, the kind with silver woven into the fabric so they didn’t get smelly.

Shouyou got Tobio some new running shoes. In the end, he had waited for Tobio to go to work, and just looked at the ones he already owned and seemed to love. He bought an identical pair.  Tobio smiled and told him it was the best Christmas gift he had ever received. Shouyou knew it was the first Christmas gift he had ever received, but he didn’t care, it still counted.

Then they played princess adventure for a few hours, had an amazing Christmas dinner, and all went to bed happy.

---------

Tobio had never had Christmas with a family before. 

It was so fun to see Charlie open her presents, to see the wonder in her eyes at the cookie crumbs Santa had left behind. It was an amazing feeling to give her and Shouyou presents and enjoy their reaction as they opened them. Christmas could quickly become one of his favorite holidays, and the thought was so unlike who he used to be that he found himself laughing softly.

“Something funny?” Shouyou mumbled.

They had just finished making love and were in that fuzzy warm place that came afterward, when they could hold each other and Tobio could count his blessings, the first hundred or so of which were always Shouyou, Shouyou, Shouyou.

“Just thinking about how much I love you,” Tobio answered, and Shouyou pushed his back into him with a wiggle, as if he could spoon him harder, or something.

“I love you too, Tobio. Happy Christmas,” he said with a yawn.

Tobio wrapped his arm around him, holding his palm against Shouyou’s chest. “Mine,” he said. Shouyou sighed happily and intertwined their hands. Tobio felt his fingertips rubbing over his own. And then Tobio heard him gasp. Shouyou rolled over to face him.

“Baby?” he asked, concern written on his brow. Tobio gave him his confused face, and Shouyou spread out his hand on the palm of his own. Oh.

Tobio took a minute to look at the damage. It seemed pretty bad. His fingers looked like they had been through a meat grinder. And this was after a few days of not fucking them up. He’d been too busy with his birthday and the baking and the wrapping presents to mutilate himself lately.

“Shou—” Tobio began, but then realized he had nothing he could say.

“Why?” Shouyou asked in a broken voice. “Is it me—?”

“Never, no,” Tobio said, quickly holding Shouyou close in a tight hug. “Never you. Just, everything—everything else.”

“Everything else?”

“The whole last few months, I just… it’s been a lot.” Tobio closed his eyes. It had been too much.

“And you did this, why?” Shouyou asked, pressed against his chest, but still running his fingers along Tobio’s gently.

Tobio tried to think about how to explain. He wished he could just say an “I don’t know,” and that would get him off the hook. Maybe he could lie, say he was a masochist. That it got him off or something, that’s why he did it. But he didn’t want to lie to Shouyou.

But then he had to actually figure out why. And that was a pretty hard question. He tried to look at it rationally. It didn’t help him in any way, to tear himself apart. It wasn’t benefitting him even a little. It actually hurt him.

He tried to think about when, then, instead of why. It was always when he was the most stressed, when the running didn’t help anymore, when he was out of options. It was probably a better choice than drugs or drinking but it was an addiction just the same.

When he was stressed, but the stress couldn’t be solved, only borne. This was how he bore it.

“When I can’t do anything, and I feel, helpless, I just—” Tobio began, trying to think of the right way to explain the feeling of wanting to destroy yourself when you couldn’t destroy the problem. He couldn’t come up with the right words and his voice trailed off.

“Does it help?” Shouyou asked. He was coming up with all sorts of great questions today.

When he was hurting himself as a teenager, it was to feel. His body and mind were so numb the only thing that cut through the constant fog was the blade, the pain, the burn. It was the only way to feel like he was alive.

This was different. He could feel now. Love, anger, sadness, he felt it all. He was hurting himself now not to feel but for something else. He tried again, carding his fingers through Shouyou’s hair as he spoke, finding comfort in the small gesture.

“When you’re stuck in a situation, and you—you can’t get out, and you can’t control it. And you’re doing everything right and trying to be good and it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it—” Tobio felt like maybe he wasn’t making the most sense, but he pressed on. “You look for something you can control, something you can take it out on, maybe, someone you can punish for all the bad things. Because you can’t punish the person doing it to you. And you don’t want to punish the people you love. So you punish who you can.”

Shouyou was shaking, and Tobio frowned. He looked down, bringing the hand in Shouyou’s hair under his chin, raising his face. There were tears running down his cheeks. His thoughtful frown immediately transformed into a look of concern. He hoped.

“What’s wrong?” Tobio asked.

“That’s just—” Shouyou hiccuped, speaking through his tears. “That’s just the saddest fucking thing I’ve ever heard, and, and, I don’t like it, Tobio.”

Tobio was taken aback. This wasn’t about Shouyou, it was about him. Why did he sound so angry?

“You said,” Shouyou continued, with a gulping breath, “You said you’re punishing who you can, because you don’t want to punish the people you love. But you,” he grabbed Tobio’s hand as evidence, shoving it in front of his face, making him look at it. “You’re punishing someone I love, Tobio. You’re punishing the man I love, and that’s just—that’s just—”

He grabbed back onto Tobio’s chest, tight, his trembling arms wrapping around his neck. Tobio held him, his hands rubbing soothing circles over his shoulder blades.

“And how fucked up am I?” Shouyou said to his chest, “I didn’t even notice until now. You’ve probably been doing it for months, haven’t you? I’m so sorry,” he wept.

“You’ve been going through some shit, it’s okay,” Tobio tried to say, but Shouyou interrupted him.

“You don’t say ‘it’s okay’ when someone hurts you, Tobio,” and his face crumpled again. “It’s not okay.”

“I forgive you, then, I forgive you, okay? Please, my love, don’t be so hard on yourself,” Tobio said, pulling him in again, feeling his chest tremble against his own.

“You too,” Shouyou said quietly. “Don’t be so hard on yourself anymore. Please. Talk to me. We’ll figure something out. Please don’t hurt my boyfriend anymore. I love him. I love you.”

Tobio didn’t think he wanted his rage to be replaced by guilt. But there it was.

“I’ll try,” he offered. It was the most he could promise. It was the best he could do.

----------

Two days after Christmas, Charlie was at her mom’s, Shouyou was home on winter break, and Tobio was at work. His phone went off and he checked the notification.

Shouyou: Come home for lunch

Shouyou: cum home

Shouyou: lol

Tobio didn’t know whether to roll his eyes or get a hard-on, so he did both. That was his boyfriend in a nutshell, both eyeroll- and erection-inducing.

He had an hour until lunch and tried his best to focus on work, the work he was supposed to do, the work of his job, the work that was fucking boring all of a sudden.

He went to go bother Suga instead.

“Whaddup, ho,” Suga said, from his perch at his counter. How does he not get fired? Tobio wondered, for the thousandth time.

“Just trying to make it to lunch,” Tobio answered truthfully. The truth was a stupid idea.

“Ooooh,” Suga said, pushing whatever he was looking at on his clipboard to the side of his desk. “What’s happening at lunch?” he asked, with a waggled eyebrow, a wink, and a smirk simultaneously. The Suga special.

“Nothing, just a break,” Tobio tried, but his blush gave him away. Suga’s eyes widened to the size of volleyballs.

“Tobiooooooooh,” Suga cooed, in the tone he used when he wanted to start some shit. “What’s happening at lunch?”

“Gonnagohome,” Tobio muttered, not making eye contact. It didn’t help, Suga was already losing it.

“Ah-ha,” he crowed. “Afternoon delight, hm? I get it. When Daichi has the day off and I don’t, I make sure I—” he was cut off by Tobio’s hand literally covering his mouth.

I don’t want to know,” Tobio growled, between gritted teeth.

Suga tittered like a teenage girl. He kept quiet until Tobio released his face.

“You know,” Suga said, with a raised eyebrow. “I won’t tell anyone if you go to lunch early.”

Tobio looked at him. Suga looked right back.

“I can go back and sort for another,” he checked his watch. “53 minutes.” He put his head on the counter and sighed.

“Just go,” Suga insisted. “I’ll cover for you. I’ll say you’re searching for something upstairs. That could be any floor. You could be gone for hours.”

Something clicked in Tobio’s mind.

“That’s what you said two weeks ago,” he started.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Suga said, refusing to make eye contact.

“When you made me cover for you—”

“Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.”

“I stayed here for two hours,” Tobio hissed. “Two hours, Suga.”

“I had… books to find,” Suga tried.

Tobio gasped. “Was that one of the days where Daichi…” he trailed off.

“Do you really want to know?” Suga asked sincerely.

Tobio considered it.

“I’m going now,” Tobio said, and turned on his heel to leave.

“Good choice,” Suga agreed, sending him on his way with another waterfall of giggles.

----------

Shouyou was sitting on the couch fucking around on his phone when he heard the front door unlock.

He wasn’t expecting Tobio home now, he had an hour. He had planned on setting the mood. Sure it was daytime and he couldn’t light any candles, but he definitely had a playlist, and it was mostly sexy music with only some cheesy 90s R&B.

But here he was in his boxers and a t-shirt, and Tobio was walking in the front door, looking sexy as fuck in his button up and slacks, and Shouyou’s mouth fucking watered.

“Babe,” he said, climbing up onto the arm of the couch, and Tobio grabbed him around the waist, leaning down to kiss into his mouth. Shouyou moaned into their mouths as the kissing continued, running his fingers up the sides of Tobio’s neck to grab his hair.

As Tobio mouthed his neck and jaw, Shouyou gasped, “I thought you were going to be home at one.”

“Got off a little early,” Tobio murmured into Shouyou’s ear, before licking behind it. “To get off.” He looked into Shouyou’s face with a smirk.

Shouyou fell off the arm of the couch and onto the seat cushions, laughing hysterically.

“Oh my God, Tobio Kageyama, I cannot with you—” he giggled, but Tobio was following him onto the couch, holding himself over him as he marked Shouyou’s neck and made him arch his back off the cushions. “Nhhhh,” he moaned. “Fuck me,” he gasped.

“Thought you were going to fuck me,” Tobio murmured, nosing his jaw as his hands went under Shouyou’s shirt and began twisting and pinching his piercings. Tobio’s mouth and hands were finding all the spots where he wanted to be kissed and touched.

“Nh, ah, Tobio, oh, oh,” Shouyou panted. The situation was quickly getting out of control. “Fuck, bedroom, can’t, the couch, nh.”

He could only hope Tobio was fluent in Horny Hinata at this point.

Tobio dragged him off the couch, throwing him over a shoulder after a pretty deep squat. Shouyou laughed as Tobio brought him into the hallway and narrowly avoided hitting his head on the doorframe. Shouyou slipped off of his body and now they were facing each other, next to the bed.  Tobio started to unbutton his shirt and Shouyou slapped his hands away.

“Nuh-uh,” he said, as he unwrapped his present. With every button he undid, he pressed his mouth into the newly exposed skin, reveling in the noises and movements Tobio made, the breathy gasps and scrabbling hands. Once he was undressed up top, Shouyou twisted him and threw him onto the bed. He landed on his back and Shouyou quickly slotted himself between his legs, pulling his pants and underwear down to his knees. As Shouyou crawled his way back up to Tobio’s mouth, Tobio kicked off his clothes the rest of the way, as his hands took Shouyou’s t-shirt over his head. He yanked Shouyou’s chest toward him so he could tongue Shouyou’s nipples.

“Fuck, Tobio, yes, nh,” Shouyou growled, as he threw his head back. Tobio responded by biting him so hard he looked down quickly to make sure he wasn’t bleeding. After confirming he was okay, he let Tobio lick his other nipple while he tore his boxers off. Then he brought his hips down, rubbing their dicks together with one hand. Tobio moved his mouth off Shouyou’s chest so he could gasp.

Shouyou launched himself over to the nightstand to grab the lube. Slicking up his finger, he pressed inside Tobio’s entrance as he leaned forward to attack his mouth with kisses again. Tobio keened and bucked underneath him. Shouyou sucked his tongue in response.

Shouyou slipped another finger alongside the first, as he moved his kisses to Tobio’s jaw, licking down his neck to his shoulder. He nuzzled into Tobio’s shoulder and followed up the loving caress with a bite, sucking a bruise just below where his shirt would cover.

“Fuck, Shou!” Tobio yelled at the pain, but Shouyou felt his dick throb. He grinned into the man’s skin. He knew Tobio fucking loved it.

“Yeah?” he said. “S’that what you want? ‘Fuck, Shou?’ Sounds good to me.” He slipped his fingers out and slicked up his dick.

“Yeah, nh, give it to me,” Tobio moaned.

Shouyou pressed his dick inside. Fuck, so tight, so hot, so needy. Tobio’s hole gobbled him up hungrily as he cried out Shouyou’s name.

He bottomed out and could feel Tobio shaking all around him.

“Fuck me, Shou,” Tobio panted.

“You need to adjust first,” Shouyou said, kissing his forehead. “Be patient.”

“Fuck me, Shou,” Tobio growled, bucking his hips.

“Oho, greedy,” Shouyou laughed, still refusing to move. Tobio lifted up on to his shoulders. Then his hands. Shouyou raised an eyebrow. Where was this going?

Tobio pushed off his hands and Shouyou let himself fall onto his back. Tobio was straddling him now, and Shouyou looked up at him with an expectant expression.

“Fuck you,” Tobio said, rolling his hips into a filthy grind like he was, like he was—fuck, like he was me, Shouyou realized.

“Nh, where did you fucking learn this?” Shouyou asked, as he thrust up into Tobio’s ass, which was working overtime.

“I learned from the best,” Tobio moaned, leaning over to kiss Shouyou deeply. “You’re a good teacher, Mr. Hinata.”

“Nope, not gonna go there,” Shouyou said, shaking his head as he fucked into Tobio, one hand on each side of his ass, feeling Tobio clench every time he bottomed out. “Sexy teacher is like, one step above Daddy. Not my thing.”

“How—about—I—just—call—you—Shouyou,” Tobio panted, meeting every pump of his dick with a rock of his hips. “Fuck, fuck, close,” he cried.

Shouyou started stroking Tobio’s cock in time with every bounce of his ass.

“Come for me, Tobio,” Shouyou gasped, and Tobio was coming, fast and hard and all over Shouyou’s chest.

Tobio flopped over at the waist, a deflated balloon, a wet noodle, completely spent. Shouyou fucked him slowly through his orgasm, only stopping his hips once Tobio’s dick finished its last weak spurt.

“Tobio,” Shouyou said. “I’m gonna fuck you.”

He heard a weak whine in response.

“I’m gonna fuck you, I’m gonna fill you up, and I’m gonna plug you.”

Tobio was nodding his head. “Do it,” he breathed.

Shouyou pulled out, ignoring Tobio’s groans. He manhandled Tobio onto his knees, pushing his face down. He thrust back in as Tobio screamed into the pillows.

“That’s it, take it, fucking take it,” Shouyou panted, punctuating his last word with a firm slap to his lover’s ass, which elicited another scream as Tobio tightened all around him.

“You like it?” Shouyou asked, kneading Tobio’s ass with both hands as he fucked into him fiercely.

Tobio was incoherent.

“Is that a yes, Tobio?” Shouyou pulled his head back by his hair so he could hear him.

“Fuck you, give it to me,” Tobio wailed, and Shouyou dropped his head again.

“You asked for it,” Shouyou said, and brought his hand back, to land it on Tobio’s other asscheek with a loud crack.

He reached around to see if Tobio was enjoying himself and found him fully hard again.

“Oh Tobio,” he said, stroking his dick with his right hand and squeezing his ass with his left. Tobio was bucking back into Shouyou’s cock, trying to fuck him back as hard as he was getting it. Shouyou let go of his dick so he could spank him, twice, on the left cheek. He felt Tobio squeeze around him and scream into the pillows one last time, as he came all over the sheets.

“Nh, fuck, you love it so much, gonna make me,” Shouyou gasped, as he felt Tobio pulse all around him. His pace became erratic as he teetered on the edge. He watched Tobio turn his head.

“Fill me up, Shouyou,” he demanded, and that was it, Shouyou thrust deep inside as he pumped Tobio full, pulse after pulse as he plunged his dick in and out, relishing the hot, wet feeling of fucking into his own cum.

Tobio let out a high-pitched moan as Shouyou made sure he had nothing left to give.

“Reach under the pillow,” Shouyou panted, and Tobio did, bringing out the plug in his right hand.

Shouyou pulled his dick halfway out, hissing as he stroked it one last time, making sure he had wrung out every last drop. Some of his cum tried to drip out of Tobio’s entrance, and he pushed his finger inside, fucking it back into him. Once he was sure it was all in, he pressed the plug inside, where it fit snugly in Tobio’s gaping hole.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Tobio was panting, and Shouyou let him fall to the side, off his knees. He looked over at the bedside clock.

“What time do you have to be back?” he asked conversationally, as Tobio continued panting next to him.

“Two,” he replied weakly.

“And how long does it take you to get to work?”

“Twenty minutes,” Tobio said, one step above a whine.

“Okay,” Shouyou said. “It’s 1:37.”

Tobio yelped as he jumped off the bed, where his knees promptly gave out. Shouyou didn’t want to laugh at the man, but how could he not? He was on the fucking floor.

----------

Tobio wanted to sneak back into work, but he had to walk past Suga’s desk, and Suga’s desk had a Suga standing at it.

“Oooh,” Suga catcalled as Tobio attempted to sneak by. “Someone’s walking like the prom queen.”

Tobio ignored him and tried not to limp as he went to go do his fucking job, a concept he was sure Suga could not comprehend.

Once safely out of Suga’s eyesight, he tried to remember what he had been doing before he went home for lunch. He went to sit and immediately stood back up. Between Shouyou slapping his ass, fucking him stupid, and plugging him tight, he wasn’t going to be able to sit down without some sort of adjustment. He rested the corner of his least sore ass cheek against the edge of the stool. He was reaching for his to-do list when Suga came in. The noise of the door opening took him by surprise and made him lose his balance. He fell toward the floor for the second time in less than an hour, only avoiding landing on a knee by catching his arms on the top of the chair.

“Wow,” Suga remarked. “He really did a number on you, hm?”

Tobio shot him a glare that should have been intimidating, but he was trying to get to his feet, so it was less than effective.

“I’d love to keep fucking with you,” Suga said. “But I’m actually here to let you know we’ve got an all-departments meeting in fifteen minutes.”

Tobio blanched before his default response could come back online. 3, 2, 1, and all systems go.

“Why the fuck is this the first I’m hearing about it?” he growled angrily as Suga rolled his eyes.

“Your supervisor was supposed to let you know last week,” Suga said.

“You’re my fucking supervisor,” Tobio rebuked, through gritted teeth.

“Look, between the holidays, Daichi’s birthday, and my New Year’s Eve party, I’ve been busy. Plus, I don’t care about this meeting, so it wasn’t important enough to remember,” Suga shrugged. “Just, get it together and get ready to sit on your ass and be bored for an hour and a half,” he added, with a knowing smirk. Tobio was going to kill him, as soon as he regained control of his fucking body.

Fifteen minutes later, Tobio was sitting as comfortably as he could in the back of one of the meeting rooms, listening to the manager? coordinator? executive director? drone on about how they met or didn’t meet their yearly goals. Tobio couldn’t follow, could only concentrate on the hot silicone inside him, the throb of his ass as he sat on one of the handprints Shouyou left that would probably bruise—

His phone vibrated in his pocket. He didn’t want to look at what it said, but he was a sick, sick individual who loved torture. He pulled it out and looked at it surreptitiously.

Shouyou: keep thinking about you

Shouyou: you still have it in you?

Tobio crossed his legs and tried to focus on circulation numbers and new library cards issued.  He held out as long as he could before responding.

>> I’m in a meeting

He didn’t even have time to click the screen off before Shouyou was responding with filth.

Shouyou: does the meeting know you’re my dirty boy

Shouyou: with an ass full of cum

Shouyou: ?

Tobio bit down on his lip to keep from whining. The plug was pressing against his prostate, since he was sitting on it, and his dick was filling out. Only fifteen minutes of the meeting had passed. He still had over an hour to go. He crossed his legs, squeezing them together, trying to keep the blood from flowing to his throbbing cock and failing miserably, only succeeding in providing friction for his erection to rub against, which he was doing, against his will, like the whore he was.

>> Fuck, Shou, you’re gonna get me in trouble.

Shouyou: you’ve already got ME in trouble *image attached*

If you had asked Tobio sixteen months ago if he was a curious person, he would have scoffed and said something stupid, like “I already know everything I need to know.” But now? Now he was a stupid idiot, drunk on Shouyou Hinata, led around by his dick past Self Respect Avenue and taking a left down Horny Bitch Boulevard.

He opened the picture.

He didn’t know what he was expecting, but Shouyou with two fingers in his mouth and his other hand wrapped around his thick dick was probably not even in the top ten.

>> How are you hard again, you JUST fucked me

Shouyou: like you’re not

Shouyou: pot meet kettle

Tobio knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on. He also knew he would like to. Have a leg to stand on and then walk away on. He didn’t know how he was supposed to survive this meeting. His phone lit up again.

Shouyou: *image attached*

Tobio started to sweat. He knew he couldn’t open that picture. He was already having a hard time sitting still. He couldn’t call any more attention to himself. He’s going to get me fired. I refuse to be fired before they fire Suga. Hey, it was a petty goal, but a goal just the same. He dismissed the notification. His phone lit up anew.

Shouyou: *image attached*

Shouyou: *image attached*

Tobio looked around. He was alone in the corner of the room. His anger at having to be at a surprise meeting had created an aura akin to “I’ll kill you if you sit here,” so nobody had even come close. Even Suga was sitting with the other supervisors in a different part of the room.  Thank God for small favors.

Shouyou: *image attached*

He knew what those pictures were. He knew he shouldn’t open them.

He entertained the idea. What if he did open them? Sitting in the chair he could feel his muscles clenching around the butt plug involuntarily, each twitch grinding the thing into his prostate, the sensation driving him fucking insane. His dick was hard as a rock, and squeezing his legs together to hide it was just adding to the pressure.

His phone vibrated.

Shouyou: *image attached*

So if he got so turned on that he couldn’t help himself, what, was he going to do? Spontaneously orgasm? Have to sit in the hour left of this meeting with cum cooling inside his underwear? A line of semen trickling down his pant leg as he tried to engage his colleagues in the small group activity the facilitators had planned for the last thirty minutes, according to the posted agenda? Hell no.

Another vibration. Tobio looked at the notification.

Shouyou: *image attached*

He didn’t look at the picture. He turned his phone off instead.

He would deal with his tangerine terror when he got home. And after this meeting, when he turned his phone back on, he’d find some sex toy websites and figure out some fucking revenge.

Chapter Text

Tobio’s parents lived in a house out in the suburbs of Clyde Hill, on the other side of Lake Washington. Shouyou had never been to that neighborhood before.

He drove down the tree-lined streets. It looked like the normal suburbs, but he knew these houses actually cost a fuckton. He had plugged Tobio’s parents’ house into Zillow out of curiosity and that shit was worth six million dollars.

Tobio had said that his parents were always working, but he didn’t mention that all that work got them an income. Shouyou imagined it for a moment. What would he even do if he made that much money? Probably take more vacations. Enroll Charlie in all the dance classes she wanted to take. Get some dental work done.

He pulled up in front of a beautiful house that could be used as the exterior of a family home in a sitcom. It was two stories, modern and boxy with large windows, with some craftsman-style elements: wood-framed windows, stonework on the fireplace and entry. The paint scheme was shades of brown, and the landscaping was dominated by mature trees, most of which were bare because of the winter season, except for a couple of pines that towered over the house from the back yard. A sprawling lawn went from the front door to the street.

“Do I park in front of the house?” Shouyou asked, looking at the perfectly laid out cobblestones that went from the garage to the sidewalk. “Or would it be better to just park on the street? What if my car leaks, what if I put tire tracks on their driveway?” Shouyou couldn’t even remember the last time he had cleaned his old ass car. He was probably dropping the property values by just driving through the neighborhood.

“It doesn’t matter,” Tobio said. “The landscapers will clean it up. Or the housekeepers. Someone will. They pay a lot of people to keep this all clean. Don’t worry about it.”

Shouyou made a face. He wasn’t that kind of person. “I don’t want people to clean up after me, Tobio,” he hissed. He made a three-point-turn on the empty residential street and pulled up to the curb next to the mailbox. That seemed safe.

He got out of the car, making sure to get the small gift bag out of the back seat. He took a look around the block. Every house was immaculately painted, sitting on a manicured lawn, adorned with well-lit windows. Except for Tobio’s parents’ property, it was a neighborhood that seemed to love the holiday season, too. Every other house on the street was decorated with brightly colored lights.

It was so quiet. Maybe that’s why it cost so much to live out here? Shouyou wrapped his scarf around his neck and shoved his hands into his coat pockets. It was a little chilly.

Tobio walked around the car, and stood in front of him, putting his hand into Shouyou’s pocket. His boyfriend’s long fingers wrapped around his own, and their combined warmth made the cold almost bearable.

“You need gloves,” Tobio murmured.

“I own gloves,” Shouyou said. “I just didn’t bring them.”

Tobio leaned down, and tilted Shouyou’s chin up with his other hand, the one not currently in Shouyou’s pocket, threaded through his fingers. He met Shouyou’s lips with his, parting them gently with his tongue. Shouyou moaned quietly, tilting his head to the right and opening his mouth, inviting Tobio further inside.

Tobio accepted the invitation, and the hand under Shouyou’s chin traced along his face to his forehead, and then into his hair, his fingers running through the strands gently. At first. Then Tobio’s hand moved to the back of his head, where he grabbed a big handful and pulled.

Now Shouyou’s moans were a little louder, as he stood on his tiptoes, licking passionately into Tobio’s mouth in retaliation. The hand holding the gift bag wrapped around Tobio’s waist, pushing their bodies closer together. He felt the pressure of Tobio’s cock, which was growing harder as it pressed against him. Shouyou pulled their lips apart regretfully.

“Baby, I love you, I love this, always,” Shouyou said breathlessly. “But do you want to see your parents for the first time in a dozen years with a hard on?”

Tobio brought his face down to Shouyou’s neck, rubbing it into the scarf, using his nose to pull down the edge so he could press a kiss behind Shouyou’s ear. He added a little tongue to the pressure of his mouth and finished with a gentle bite.

“Maybe we should just go,” Tobio purred quietly. “Get you back home so I can take care of you.”

Shouyou shivered uncontrollably and it wasn’t because of the winter chill. Well now I’m the one with a hard on.

“Is that what you want, Tobiohhhhhhhh,” Shouyou tried to ask, as Tobio breached the entrance of his ear, licking inside with a pointed tongue. His hand was out of his pocket now, reaching around Tobio’s back, scrabbling at his broad shoulders. Tobio backed him up so Shouyou was up against the car door, and then he put both his hands against the roof, caging him in. Shouyou threw his head back, spreading his legs as Tobio pressed a knee between them, not stopping the attention he was giving his ear.

“Nh, nh, nh,” Shouyou moaned, as his hips jumped against Tobio’s knee unconsciously, trying to get some friction against his rock-hard cock. “You’re gonna make me, nh, meet your parents, nh, nh, after coming in my pants?” he whined.

“I could put you back in the car,” Tobio said. “You won’t have to come in your pants. You could come in my mouth instead.”

“Tobio, someone will see,” Shouyou whispered, looking around.

“There’s a huge bush blocking us,” Tobio said. “We’re in between the two houses, parked on the street. Nobody can see anything. Get in the car.”

Tobio quickly moved around to the passenger seat, opening the door and getting inside. Shouyou scrambled for the door handle desperately. He got into the driver’s seat, throwing the gift over his shoulder into the back, praying nothing inside broke, as Tobio reached over him to recline the chair. Shouyou yelped as he was suddenly laid out on his back. He didn’t even have time to say anything before Tobio had him out of his pants.

“Fuuuuuck, oh fuck me, Tobio,” Shouyou cried, as Tobio took him down his throat immediately, bobbing his head like he would win a prize for quickest blowjob of all time.

If that were a real competition, Tobio would be in top position, because Shouyou was already right on the edge.

“Yes, yes, yes, Tobio, I’m close, I’m going to—uhhhh,” Shouyou wailed, and then he was coming down Tobio’s throat, hot pulses of cum that Tobio sucked down like it was the cure that ailed him. Maybe it was. Tobio fucking loved to suck dick.

Shouyou was still looking up at the headliner, trying to catch his breath, and wondering dumbly how that stain got next to the bubble light up there, as Tobio put his soft dick away for him and zipped him up, smoothing his sweater and peacoat over his pants like they hadn’t just fogged up the windows of Shouyou’s family sedan in two minutes of passion.

“Do you want me to,” Shouyou asked, raising his right hand and twirling it limply before it fell onto his lap.

“No, I’m too nervous,” Tobio said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, before looking down at said back of hand and licking it clean. Holy shit, Tobio was a dirty motherfucker. And Shouyou loved him. “I feel better now, though. Thanks.”

“Thanks?” Shouyou squawked, finally gaining enough muscle control to sit up a bit. “To me? What did I even do besides get the fastest orgasm I’ve ever had, courtesy of your mouth?”

He fixed the seat, returning it to its original position, shaking his head in disbelief.

Tobio leaned over the center console to meet Shouyou’s mouth in a deep, needy kiss. Shouyou tasted himself on his lover’s tongue and felt his cock twitch one last time. Tobio pulled away after a moment and pressed their foreheads together.

“Thanks for being here. For always being there for me. For being up for anything. You—” he paused a moment, searching for the right words to say. “You get me.”

“Tobio,” Shouyou sighed. He pressed their lips together one last time. “I love you.”

They got out of the car and Shouyou jumped a few times to send some blood down to his legs and make his knees less shaky. He opened the back seat and found the gift bag on the floor. He picked it up and smoothed out the crinkled tissue paper and ribbon. Tobio came around to his side of the car and took his hand again. Shouyou shoved their intertwined fingers back into his pocket. What could he say, he loved that shit.

They walked up to Tobio’s parents’ fancy front door. And stood there.

Shouyou was no slouch in the “dealing with people” department. He could probably even handle covering the reference desk if he had to, regardless of how hellish Tobio’s description made it seem. He was game for meeting Tobio’s parents, if only to satiate his curiosity.

Deep down he wondered if they were really as bad as Tobio said. It’s not like they beat the shit out of him, right?

Shouyou looked over at his boyfriend. Who looked a bit anxious. He waited for him to knock, ring the bell, something. Shouyou could see him clenching and unclenching his other fist. It reminded him of a memory from over a year ago, Tobio outside his front door, after the first argument they had ever had.

He gave the hand inside his jacket a reassuring squeeze. “It’s going to be okay. I’m here for you,” he murmured. Tobio took a deep breath and nodded. He rang the doorbell.

Shouyou heard a chime sound through the house. Classy.

The door was opened after a moment, and both Tobio’s mom and dad were standing there to greet them.

They were both taller than Shouyou. Of course, that was the first thing he noticed. Tobio’s mom only had an inch on him, but Tobio’s dad was almost the same height as his son.

Then he saw how Tobio got his eyes from his mom, and also his hair, because her hair was pretty dark. Not as black as Tobio’s, but dark brown and just as straight and fine. She was wearing a flowy floral blouse and long sweater over some fitted pants. The ensemble was paired with tasteful jewelry. Shouyou immediately felt underdressed even though he was wearing work clothes. He could tell her outfit probably cost more than a week of his pay.

Tobio’s dad was where Tobio seemed to get his scowl. His eyebrows seemed permanently downturned under a shock of gray hair. His mouth also had frown lines, even though he wasn’t frowning at the moment. He was dressed somewhat casually, a white button up and grey slacks, but he still commanded respect immediately. He exuded the inner confidence that must come from years of running a boardroom with ease. As Shouyou met his eyes, he felt like he had already screwed up somehow. He felt a cold sweat break out on his upper lip. Maybe they saw us fucking around in the car on a security camera, he thought in a panic.

Then Tobio’s mom was smiling graciously, and Shouyou felt himself relax. He looked over at Tobio, who did not seem like he had followed Shouyou on his trip to Chill Town. He was looking at his parents like maybe he hated them. Shouyou could feel his trembling hand, still jammed in his pocket.

Okay, guess he’s not introducing me, or even saying hi, Shouyou thought. “Hello, I’m Hinata Shouyou,” he said. He bowed deeply and said in his best Japanese, “sorry for the intrusion!”

Tobio’s parents looked at him with surprise. His mom smiled even more widely and his dad raised his eyebrows a bit.

“So polite,” Tobio’s mother said. “Please, come in,” she added, leading them into the entryway, where Shouyou and Tobio took off their shoes and coats.

"It's nothing special but here is a little something for you," Shouyou said, handing Tobio’s mom the gift bag. “Charlotte made holiday cookies.”

She took the bag gracefully. “Thank you so much.” Shouyou hung their coats in the hall closet that Tobio’s mom opened. “There are slippers there,” she said, motioning to the basket at the side of the entryway. Shouyou found a pair for Tobio, who put them on and stepped into the house. Shouyou found a slightly smaller pair for himself. Was Tobio not going to say anything the whole night? he thought, stealing a glance over at the scowling man, wondering what was going on in that mind of his.

“Thank you for having us, Kageyama-san,” Shouyou began, but Tobio’s mom cut him off.

“Please, call me Kaori,” she said.

“Thank you for having us, Kaori-san,” Shouyou said.

“Just Kaori is fine, Shouyou. And you can call Tobio’s dad Kaito. We’re Japanese, but pretty Western in most things. Don’t worry about it, okay?” she smiled again, and Shouyou smiled back.

“Okay,” he said, looking back over at Tobio, again, waiting for him to say or do anything. “Thank you, Kaori, Kaito, for welcoming us to your home.”

“Come this way,” Kaori said, leading them into a well-appointed living room. “I thought we could sit and enjoy some tea before dinner. I have all the baby pictures ready to show you.”

The furniture was modern. There were two white couches with dark wood accents were set up facing each other, a tea service set out on a low table between them. The room had a beautiful rug that probably cost more than Shouyou’s rent. Maybe even a few months’ worth. I need to stop thinking about how much things cost, he thought to himself, which just made him think about it even more. This was probably the fanciest house he’d ever visited, and it was terrifying. Shouyou took up a place where Kaori told him to please have a seat, and when she handed him a cup of tea, he willed himself not to drop it onto the expensive carpet.

“Thanks,” Tobio mumbled to the floor, as his mom gave him his cup. It was the first thing he had said since they walked in.

“Dinner is almost ready,” Kaori said, motioning to the beautiful open kitchen, visible from the living room. “It’s your favorite, pork curry.”

She was talking to Tobio, but Tobio didn’t even look up.

“Tobio makes a great curry too,” Shouyou piped up. “Did you teach him how to make it?”

Tobio let out a quiet tch. Kaori looked a little embarrassed.

“Unfortunately, no,” she said. “I didn’t make a lot of meals while Tobio was growing up.” She was still gamely attempting to make eye contact with her son. “He used to order takeout for dinner sometimes. He would order this curry from a restaurant near here a lot, so I assumed he liked it.” She waited a moment, seeing if Tobio would confirm or deny the statement. But he said nothing.  “I did make the rice and soft-boiled eggs to go along with it,” she added.

Does she really not cook at all? Shouyou wondered, as his envious eyes raked over the granite countertops, two sinks, stainless steel appliances and fancy cabinetry. What a waste with a kitchen like that. I would cook a gourmet meal every night with a kitchen like that.

And then he had a realization. Tobio was the one who cooked a delicious dinner every night, in their shitty galley kitchen with three whole square feet of countertop and a stove where only half the burners worked well. How the fuck did Tobio know how to cook? He remembered how Tobio learned how to give a massage, learned to samba. YouTube.

And suddenly the image of a teenaged Tobio, holding a knife and following along with a video tutorial while he taught himself how to cook all on his own was so clear in his mind it took his breath away.

“That’s great,” Shouyou said, in an attempt to paper over the incredible awkwardness he was currently party to. “Eggs and rice are my favorite food, so that works out great.”

He tried at a laugh but the room was dead silent. He took a sip of his tea and looked over at Tobio again. He saw he had started worrying one of his fingernails. Shouyou put his tea down on the table and reached over to hold Tobio’s hand in his own.

They sat there for a moment in silence. It wasn’t comfortable by a long shot.

“Who is Charlotte, Shouyou?” Kaori asked politely.

“I’m sorry?” Shouyou asked, taken aback by the question. He knew who Charlotte was, but how did Tobio’s parents know? Did they investigate him? How did they even know he had a daughter? Maybe they knew people who worked in facial recognition or data mining. With this kind of money? The possibilities were endless.

Kaori motioned to the gift bag. “You said ‘Charlotte baked holiday cookies,’ and I was wondering who she was?”

“Oh,” Shouyou said with a relieved breath. “That’s my daughter. She’s five, in kindergarten.” He pulled out his phone from his pocket. “Would you like to see some pictures?”

Kaori’s face broke into an even bigger smile. “Of course,” she said. “And let me show you some photos too,” she added, getting a large album from under the table.

Shouyou thought it was weird that Tobio’s dad didn’t say anything. That was fine, he could deal with the strong, silent type. He did that already, on a daily basis. His mother seemed pleasant enough and he loved the idea of baby Tobio pictures. He accepted the photo album gratefully.

Half of the photo album pages were empty. There weren’t enough pictures to fill them.

No special occasions, no vacations, no first day of school. There were a few pictures from the infamous family Christmas parties, group shots with a tiny Tobio off to the side, sitting on the arm of the couch, looking like he’d just committed a crime or something. He remembered how Tobio said he had never had a real Christmas before a few days ago, and Shouyou wondered why his parents attended a party every year for a holiday they didn’t even celebrate.

Shouyou tried to compare the sparse photographic offerings to things that reminded him of Charlie, and he told a few stories and brought up some pictures on his phone to show Kaori. He realized he had probably more pictures of Charlotte, age five, than Tobio’s parents had of his entire life.

The only photos where Tobio was smiling were the pictures of him with his grandfather, or pictures his grandfather had probably taken. A picture of baby Tobio at the park in a swing. A picture of young Tobio learning to ride a bike. A picture of teenage Tobio running by in a cross-country club singlet, waving a hello.

Tobio looked over his shoulder at the album, and excused himself to the bathroom.

When Shouyou saw that the next page had the last photo of Tobio and his grandfather together, he understood why he had left.

The last two pictures in the album were his formal high school senior portrait, and a somewhat blurry snapshot of Tobio receiving his college diploma.

“Thankfully a classmate took that one,” Kaori said, noticing Shouyou had finished the album.

“They do say the names pretty quickly,” Shouyou agreed. “Hard to catch the moment on film.”

“Oh, no,” she smiled. “We weren’t taking pictures, we weren’t there at all. The spring is a very important time for R&D. We couldn’t make it.”

Shouyou nodded and tried to keep his face as bland as possible.

He was starting to realize just how right Tobio was about these people.

----------

If Tobio had thought covering the reference desk for Suga was hell, he had been sorely mistaken. There was something much worse, and it was called being back in his childhood home as an adult.

It was still big, too fucking big. As a child, the space had made it feel even emptier when no one was around. As an adult, it felt wasteful. They were only two people. Why did they need five thousand square feet of house? Tobio, Shouyou, and Charlotte were three people and living in a quarter of that.

He cut a quick look over at his father, who couldn’t be bothered to respond to anything Shouyou was saying. He was only slightly nodding here and there to things his mom was bringing up, and he barely glanced at the phone when his mom held it out to him, to show him pictures Shouyou had chosen to share. Tobio looked away again. He knew they hadn’t even eaten anything yet, but he already wanted to know if he had put in enough time to be dismissed. 

When he had replied to his mom’s email, he had no idea she would invite the two of them over for dinner a week after his birthday. He wanted to say no immediately, but when he talked to Shouyou about it, he said Tobio should try to extend the olive branch, be the better man. Tobio got it; Shouyou was always the better man. In his marriage, in his family, in every fight he’d been a part of.

Tobio thought being the better man was fucking overrated. He much more preferred being the petty asshole who didn’t have to deal with people who pissed him the fuck off.

Unfortunately, he had listened to Shouyou’s advice, and said yes to his mother’s invitation. Which was a decision he now regretted.

God bless him, Shouyou was doing his best, carrying the conversation with his mom as if the two of them were out to brunch somewhere sipping on mimosas, instead of stumbling through an uncomfortable teatime flanked by the two biggest assholes in the greater Seattle area.

Oh yes, Tobio knew he was just as bad as his dad. He was under zero illusions that his father was being unreasonable and he wasn’t. He didn’t need to ask Reddit, he fully understood he was the asshole.

Shouyou was sitting close to him, thumbing through the photo album his mom had brought out. Tobio didn’t like looking at any of the pictures but tried to appreciate Shouyou’s enthusiasm.

“What year was this?” Shouyou asked his mom. He pointed to a picture of Tobio holding a ball, sitting on his grandfather’s lap. Kazuyo’s eyes were crinkled in delight as he looked at his grandson. Tobio saw the love written there and it filled him with nostalgia and longing, two emotions he’d rather not feel. They felt itchy.

“I’m not sure,” Kaori admitted. “He looks pretty young there. First grade, maybe?”

“Three,” Tobio said.

“Third grade, then?” his mom asked.

“I was three,” Tobio clarified, before going silent again.

It was hard to look at the pictures of him and his grandfather. Especially when he was younger. Seeing Kazuyo whole and healthy just reminded him of how he wasn’t either of those things in the end. He could see himself age as Shouyou flipped through the pages. 12 years old, 13. He knew one of the last photos he had ever taken with this grandfather was next. He excused himself to the bathroom. He didn’t need to see that ever again.

That day, out of character, his mother had accompanied him to visit Kazuyo. Most afternoons after school, Tobio took a couple of buses across town to spend time with his grandfather, getting his homework done in the silence while he slept, or talking with him about his life or Tobio’s activities when he was awake. But this time, his mom had driven the two of them in her car, after picking Tobio up from school.

She must have realized he was near the end. At least the imminent death of her father was worth a couple of hours away from the office.

When they arrived, Tobio took his usual place, next to the bed, and since his grandfather was sleeping, he pulled out his homework, which was to read a couple chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird for his ninth-grade English class. He held his book in one hand and his grandfather’s hand in the other. Like he usually did.

When he heard the shutter click he looked up with a scowl. He hadn’t realized he was going to be on camera. She should have asked before she intruded on his moment. Even though it was his routine it was still his and she had no right to insert herself, no right to commit it to film. It wasn’t her place.

He only saw the picture once. At the funeral. It hurt. He never wanted to see it again.

He spent as much time using the bathroom as he possibly could without arousing suspicion that he was ill. He looked at himself in the mirror, trying to relax his face, but his emotions wouldn’t let him remove the scowl from his brow. He sighed in capitulation. It’s not like he had to impress them. They knew what he was.

He walked out of the bathroom and back to the living room. They were all standing up. Fuck, they had been waiting for him. He grumbled a near-silent “sorry,” and Shouyou took his hand again. What the fuck would he do without Shouyou? What kind of person would he be? Worse? Even less cordial? What would that be like? Was it even possible? He almost snorted at the image in his mind.

They followed his mom to the dining room off the kitchen. Tobio had never understood why they had a formal dining room, plus a separate table and chairs in the kitchen next to the living room, plus a kitchen island with barstools. What was the point of three family gathering spots, when they had eaten together a total of zero times? They never even entertained and used the space with other people. The awful annual family Christmas party was held at his aunt’s house. She had an honest-to-God mansion.

Shouyou insisted on helping his mom plate the curry rice, and the two of them went into the kitchen. Tobio and his father sat at the dining table, ending up near each other by accident or design. Tobio was looking at his hands. Now that Shouyou wasn’t there to hold one, he was free to see what there was to—

“I noticed,” his father sighed wearily, and Tobio’s head shot up. Noticed what? My hair? Something about Shouyou? My fingers? He quickly hid his hands under the table, found himself sitting up straighter.

“I noticed that you are still paying the law office.” Another sigh. “I thought you weren’t in trouble?”

Tobio wanted to tell him to not bother with the attempt at conversation, wanted to tell him to shut up, wanted to tell him to fuck off. He closed his eyes and opened them slowly. What would Shouyou do?

“It’s over now,” he said. Tsukishima’s last invoice would be at the end of the month. No more charges after that. The last bill would be the most substantial, since they included pre-trial preparation and the actual court date. “Only one more payment,” he found himself volunteering.

His dad sighed as a response. Unsurprisingly. “Good.”

You don’t have to pretend to care, Tobio thought. He was pretty close to saying it out loud.

Thankfully at that point, Shouyou was walking in with two heaping plates of curry and rice, and placing one in front of Tobio’s dad, and one in front of Tobio. He looked down. He had an extra egg on his. He looked back up at Shouyou, who winked charmingly.

His mom followed behind him, putting a plate down in front of her seat at the table. She handed the last one to Shouyou, who was now sitting next to Tobio.

Then she poured them some water from a crystal pitcher in the middle of the table, into glasses in front of each of their place settings, before sitting down herself.

It was a bit odd. The huge table was set up for six. Shouyou and Tobio were on one side, his father seated at the head. His mom was on the other side by herself. Why didn’t she and Dad sit together? Tobio wondered for a moment, before he realized he didn’t care. At least this way she and Shouyou were facing each other and could continue their conversation.

Shouyou decided to eat left-handed so he could keep holding Tobio’s hand under the table. Tobio felt overwhelmed by how much he loved him.

Shouyou took a bite of the curry. “Wow, Kaori, this is amazing,” he gushed.

“Thank you so much, it’s really nothing,” she said humbly.

Of course it isn’t. Not to you. You just bought it, anyone could do that.

The only sounds for a few moments were the soft clinking of their spoons against their plates.

“How did the two of you meet?” Kaori asked, after everyone had eaten a few bites of their dinner.

“Pretty simple story,” Shouyou said. “He was working and gave me amazing customer service.” He smiled and blushed slightly. Tobio found himself smiling too. A little. Well, maybe not a full smile but definitely a less angry face.

“That’s so nice,” Kaori said. “Where was that?”

Shouyou looked at her, a little confused, before looking at Tobio with the same expression. Tobio caught his eyes before looking away. What was he feeling? Embarrassment? Shame? He couldn’t tell. He put food in his mouth, chewed, swallowed.

“He works at Seattle Central Library,” Shouyou explained. “He’s a librarian.”

Kaori raised her eyebrows with the new information.

“Do you like it?” she asked, before adding a quiet, “Tobio?”

Tobio looked at her for the first time all evening. His mom looked emotional. Not angry. Maybe sad. It’s not like she had ever asked him where he worked. It’s not like she ever asked about his life at all. What was he supposed to do, volunteer personal information to complete strangers? He nodded, and then looked away. He tried to ignore the itchy feeling making its way up his legs, from his ankles to his knees. Fuck, he wanted to leave so bad.

“How about you two?” Shouyou was saying now, making conversation, being the better man. “How did you meet?”

Kaori looked over at Kaito.  She smiled again, and Tobio realized he had never heard this story before. How would he? This was now the longest conversation he’d had with either of his parents.

“I was a young engineer starting out in the tech industry,” Kaori explained. “Kaito was an executive assigned to me in a little bit of a mentor role. He was the one who told me I didn’t belong behind the scenes. That I should be more confident in myself, that if I worked hard, I could be in charge, work for myself one day, be my own boss, be someone else’s mentor.” She laughed to herself at the memory.

“And not a year later, she was opening up her own firm, and stealing half our clients,” Kaito said, and Tobio nearly jumped out of his chair at the low tenor of his father’s voice, the rumble of the pitch seeming to reverberate in the man’s chest. “She built an amazing team, and they built an amazing company.”

“A company so amazing we could poach top talent,” Kaori said, and the gleam in her eye wasn’t because they were talking about their relationship’s origin story. It was because she was discussing her first love. Her fucking business. “Kaito applied the year after that.”

“I knew a good thing when I saw it,” Kaito said with a smirk.

No sighs. He had said three whole sentences and not a single sigh. For fuck’s sake, Dad. You can’t even pretend to care about anything other than work.

“You had fallen in love with Kaori,” Shouyou said, a bit dreamily, caught up in his own version of the story they were telling.

He was surprised when they both laughed a little. Because he didn’t know them like Tobio did.

“He had fallen in love with my business,” Kaori said. “Understandable. I was in love too. The business was my baby. But after Kaito came on board, worked his way up? It became our baby. The rest came later. Married after two years, Tobio showed up the year after that.”

“She went back to work almost immediately afterward,” Kaito said, proudly.

“Couldn’t stay away,” Kaori said. “Loved it too much. Still do.” They both laughed together.

Tobio knew it was irrational to be jealous of a company. Growing up he craved even the smallest bit of attention or pride, envious of the excitement his parents always gave their business, but never bothered to send his way.

When his grandfather was around, he at least had someone who cared. Kazuyo had always been home after school to make sure he did his homework, ate a warm dinner, washed behind his ears. It didn’t matter that his parents weren’t around, because he had his person, his safe place.

And then his grandfather got sick, but Tobio visited him in the hospital every day, which was still okay, because he still had his person, even if that person wasn’t doing all the stuff he used to. It was okay to come home when visiting hours were over, to put himself to sleep at night, to make sure he got to school in the morning on time. He was old enough to do that much without any real problems.

But when his grandfather died, he was left alone. Completely alone. Alone in this big house for three long years, before he moved away for college.

Alone, making his own dinners. Alone, using the allowance left on the counter to buy himself shampoo and toothpaste from the convenience store when he ran out. Alone, making sure he got his homework done. Alone, missing his grandfather. Alone, staring at the ceiling all night, numb. Alone, cutting himself to feel something.

His parents knew next to nothing about him. Didn’t want to know. But hearing them talk about their baby, their company, hearing the excitement in their voices, their laughter full of happiness

Yeah, it hurt.

“And that’s what you’re still doing, running the same business?” Shouyou asked, his politeness betraying the fact that he now completely understood where Tobio was coming from, when he talked about his relationship with his parents. Tobio could tell in the clipped courteousness of his tone, combined with the iron grip he had on his hand underneath the table. Shouyou understood him so well. The love he felt for him was almost enough to overpower the itching, crawling sensation that was now roiling his stomach and climbing up his spine to his shoulders.

“Yes,” Kaori answered. “Although we’re both semi-retired now. We’ve cut back a lot. We go into the office only five days a week now, and only about six or eight hours a day. We’ve got a lot of down time now. Enough time to… think.”

She took a delicate sip from the glass in front of her plate. She patted the corner of her mouth with a napkin. Tobio watched her smooth it out on the table when she was done. Her nails were so neat and perfectly manicured. They always were.

“It was wonderful to get that email,” she said after a while, seeming to realize nobody else had anything to contribute to the conversation. “I don’t know who sent it, but thank them for me, would you?”

Shouyou nearly choked on his mouthful of curry. He coughed and was able to drink some water.

“The person who sent that was trying to upset you,” Tobio said reflexively, before he could stop himself from speaking.

Kaori looked at him in surprise as he said the words. She even waited for him to keep going, excited by the sound of his voice, or something. When he didn’t continue, she answered him.

“Why would I be upset?” she asked.

Shouyou bravely took the response.

“Not everyone is happy to see two men dating each other,” he said with a sad smile.

“That’s not right,” Kaori said, and Tobio closed his eyes.

Who the fuck was this?

Surely not the same person he had grown up with.

The person who had walked past the TV from her office, as she made her way out the door to another day at work. The person who had glanced at the screen, as a thirteen-year-old Tobio watched the morning news, reporting live from Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage. The person who had seen the two grooms in their suits kissing on the steps of the courthouse. What had that person said back then, as she shook her head in disgust?

Ah, yes, he remembered now.

That’s not right.”

And now, this same person was saying those same words, but now she was talking about people who didn’t approve of gay relationships? Since when?

The crawling sensation was in his arms now, too, as his hands started to tremble and his breathing got faster.

“Well, if Tobio’s happy, I’m happy,” Kaori declared, like it was a normal thing for her to say, rather than the first time Tobio had heard her say anything to him about his happiness or the fact that she cared about him at all. “Of course you’re happy, right, Tobio?”

Who the fuck does she think she is?

Who was this fucking person who could casually ask about his life, talk about his emotions like she knew him, could even recognize his face in the newspaper if they said he had murdered someone? He felt his chest get thick. He was inhaling but he couldn’t get the air to go where it needed to. He was suffocating. A red cloud crept into the sides of his vision.

“It’s okay,” Shouyou whispered to him, pressing something into his hand. “Just go.”

Tobio pushed his chair back with a screech, and stood up from the table. He walked to the entryway, tore off the slippers and jammed his feet into his shoes, grabbing his coat out of the hall closet. He opened the front door and shut it, taking a moment of sick pleasure at his self-control, because he closed it normally, instead of slamming it and watching the decorative glass shatter. He stomped down the driveway as he pulled the sleeves of his jacket over his shaking arms. He wished he could go run ten miles, but he knew he couldn’t just leave. He looked down at what Shouyou had put into his hand. Keys.

Tobio walked over to the car, unlocked the door and sat in the passenger seat.

He put the keys into the ignition but left the car turned off.

He screamed at the top of his lungs, pummeling the dashboard with his fists. He whaled on the pleather and plastic until he couldn’t feel his knuckles anymore. Then he kicked his feet against the floorboards as if he would punch through the car to the street. He threw his limbs around the space until he didn’t feel his anger anymore, after his arms and legs didn’t feel like they were covered in insects anymore.

His head fell back against the headrest, limp, spent. And then he sobbed. Sobbed in frustration, sobbed in remembered loneliness, sobbed for the unloved child he had been in that house.

He put his feet on the seat, bringing his knees to his chest, wrapping his arms around his shins. He hit his forehead against one of his kneecaps so hard he saw a burst of white static behind his closed eyelids. He cried and cried, huge, ugly heaving wails, until he had nothing left.

----------

“What was that all about?” Kaori asked after she watched Tobio leave, heard the front door close. She looked back to Shouyou with a confused look on her face.

Shouyou flipped through the Tobio file in his mind. Figured out what he could say to help his parents understand, without giving them anything Tobio wouldn’t want him to share.

“He’s working through a lot,” Shouyou said evasively. “It’s probably painful for him to be here right now.” That was vague enough, hopefully.

Kaori’s mouth turned down in a frown. “I don’t understand,” she said.

What was so hard to understand?

Shouyou was a patient person. He taught kids how to read, he never told his parents what he really thought of them, he kept things civil with Lysia. But these two adults, who were admittedly geniuses when it came to whatever their company did, were completely stupid when it came to their son.

“You left him alone,” Shouyou said. “He was lonely here.”

They both blinked back at him.

“He wanted you to be here for him,” he tried. “He wanted his parents.”

“We were his parents,” Kaori insisted. “We worked hard to provide for him, to give him a good life.”

He knew that was a lie. They worked hard because they loved it. They still did. Shouyou tried a different approach.

“Tobio knows that,” he said. “But he probably would have liked spending time with you a little bit more.”

Kaito sighed. “Storming off is a funny way of spending time with us.”

How could Shouyou help them understand? The relationship was broken now but could have been built then. He realized there was no way to make it clear. And these people weren’t who he needed to help. The man he loved was probably a wreck out in the car. He stood up. Kaori stood up too.

“Maybe a dinner invitation was too much. I can send him another email. I’ll…” she had her napkin in her hands and was twisting it nervously. She looked over at Tobio’s dad and then back at Shouyou. She met his eyes with a fierce determination. “We’ll try again.”

“Thank you so much for having us,” he said. “Sorry to leave so quickly but… I’ve got to go.” He bowed in gratitude, hoping his grandmother wasn’t looking down on him from heaven, angry at him for not staying and washing the dishes. He had more important things to do.

By the time he got to the car, the windows were misted with condensation.

“Tobio?” Shouyou whispered, as he opened the driver’s side. He slid into his seat, looking at Tobio all curled up against the passenger door. It was strange to see such a tall man made so small. He climbed over the center console and wrapped himself around him. It was a tight squeeze.

“Baby?” Shouyou said, rubbing his arms and back, trying to comfort him as best he could. “I’m here,” he said, running a hand through Tobio’s hair. He went to hold one of his hands and noticed his bloody knuckles. “Oh, Tobio,” he said, bringing the hand to his lips, kissing it gently.

“Home,” Tobio whimpered, in a tiny voice. “Take me home?”

“Yeah, of course,” Shouyou said, giving Tobio one more tender kiss to his temple, one last comforting caress over his shoulderblades. He climbed back over to the driver’s side, buckling his seat belt and starting the car. “Let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

It was December thirtieth when Shouyou’s mom called him, ending eighteen blessed days of radio silence.

He had always imagined telling his parents to fuck off, in his deepest, darkest fantasies. When he was stuck at the dining table listening to jokes being made at his expense, he’d fantasize about responding with a biting comment that shut them up for good. When he was huddled under his blankets, sobbing after the latest forced apology, he’d imagine bringing them to tears someday. When he heard them making remarks about gay people that made him sick to his stomach, he’d daydream about being an orphan.

Of course, all the fantasies, imaginings, and daydreams were immediately followed with a sense of guilt, for even contemplating any of those thoughts. He’d panic at the idea of being an actual orphan, the dream curdling into a nightmare at the thought of losing the people he loved. He knew he would miss them so much if anything ever happened, and he’d regret all his morbid musings.

It was easier to be an orphan than he had thought it would be. He didn’t miss them at all.

When was the last time that his mom had actually asked about his life, had asked him about anything other than Charlotte, and what she was up to? Had actually talked to him, instead of at him? He thought long and hard, as the screen lit up with a picture of her holding Charlie close.

He was sorely tempted to ignore his buzzing phone. Why was he even going to engage? His life was so much easier now. But then he remembered the speech he had given Tobio about being the better man. Remembered how much pain that decision had cost the man he loved. Shouyou felt an overwhelming guilt. He decided to take his own advice as a punishment.

“Hello,” he answered.

“Shouyou,” his mother said.

Shouyou patiently waited in silence for his mom to get to the point. He wasn’t an idiot. He knew exactly what was going on. Lysia had taken Charlotte for the last half of winter vacation. She’d be there up until after New Year’s, the day before school started up again.

“Lysia isn’t returning my calls,” his mother said.

Shouyou responded before he stop himself. Before he could be the better man.

“How is that my problem?” he asked, failing to keep the edge out of his voice. “Take it up with Lysia.”

If his mom thought he had any control over anything Lysia did or did not do, she was sorely mistaken. Unless he went to court, he couldn’t compel her to do shit. And he wasn’t about to give Tsukishima more money just so his parents could get a phone call answered. Nope.

“I would take it up with Lysia,” Shouyou’s mother said through gritted teeth. “But I can’t get her on the phone.”

Shouyou didn’t care. It was so refreshing to not have to care. Here was some drama that didn’t involve him. Not my pig, not my farm.

“Look, if you’re calling to complain about Lysia, I really have to go,” Shouyou said with a sigh.

“I’m not calling to complain,” his mother said. “I’m calling because we have Charlotte’s Christmas presents here. And Lysia said before she would bring Charlotte over, but she’s not returning my calls. So I’m asking you to bring Charlotte over, when she gets back to your house. You get her the third, right? Drop her off for a while, after you pick her up from Lysia.”

Shouyou knew his parents loved Charlie. He knew she loved her grandparents. He knew they should have a relationship.

But they were also homophobic assholes who didn’t deserve shit.

He made a decision. Until they were willing to accept him, he wasn’t going to give them any time with her. They were a package deal.

“I’m so sorry,” Shouyou said, in the sweetest voice he could muster. “That won’t be possible, I’m afraid.”

“Why is that?” his mother spat.

“I’m still super gay,” Shouyou explained, the freedom of his truth lifting a weight from his chest. “Living my homosexual lifestyle. With my boyfriend. Who I love. And you don’t agree with that, so we’re not talking, remember? I believe that is what I was promised?”

He could hear his mother sputtering some sort of reply. He didn’t need to listen to it. What a relief.

“Have a Happy New Year,” Shouyou said, ending the call.

------------

Tobio had never been invited to a wedding before. Technically, he still wasn’t invited to a wedding, Shouyou was, and Tobio was his plus one. But the invitation had arrived in the mail with both of their names on it and Tobio would never say it out loud, but he wished all their mail had their names written together, their shared address underneath, always. He liked the way it looked.

He kept the envelope hidden in his bedside table, in the bottom drawer, underneath War and Peace, a book he had bought years ago, in a youthful aspiration to actually read the damn thing. He tried every few months, and failed to get past the first fifteen pages every time.

The rehearsal dinner was the day before the wedding, New Year’s Eve. Shouyou had Best Man responsibilities, and Tobio was allowed to tag along. It also meant he was missing Suga’s over-the-top New-Year’s-Eve-slash-Daichi’s-Birthday-Party, which was an added bonus, as far as Tobio was concerned.

The wedding venue was downtown, a concrete and wrought-iron place, with vaulted ceilings and exposed beams and a glass floor where you could see downstairs. It was modern and industrial, maybe a factory in a past life, but Tobio could see from the set up for the event happening that night that the space was completely transformed with lights and flowers. He was interested to see what kind of theme Kuroo and Kenma had picked out for their wedding the next day, if they were going traditional or doing some sort of avant-garde thing.

Tobio was leaned up against a wall, across the room from the wedding party, desperately trying to stay out of the way and not draw attention to his weird presence, and the fact that he didn’t know what to do with himself. He felt like he didn’t belong there, like a superfluous appendage, something unnecessary. Like an extra pinky toe.

He looked over at Shouyou, lined up with the wedding party at the front of the room, full of life and laughing easily with his friends. So different from Tobio’s socially awkward everything. He wondered, yet again, how he had lucked out so completely. He remembered how Shouyou had met him randomly at his library, covering the reference desk, doing a job he wasn’t even supposed to be doing that day.

And after all they’d been through, Shouyou had stuck around. He thought back over the past year and some change. The fights, the sex, the therapy, the court date, the trauma. All with Shouyou. Even though some of the seasons were awful, for the first time in his life he didn’t go through any of it alone.

He looked at Kuroo and Kenma, who were now holding hands and listening to the wedding coordinator intently, as she explained how the ring exchange should go. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to float away on a flight of fancy as he imagined what their wedding would be like. Small, intimate. He thought about the guest list. They probably wouldn’t invite either of their parents. Kiyoko and Yachi would be there. Charlotte as their flower girl. Kenma as Shouyou’s best man. Kuroo as Kenma’s plus one. If absolutely required.

Suga and Daichi and the rest of their friends would watch them exchange their vows. Tobio would make sure there was plenty of delicious food, and Shouyou would supervise the playlist, making sure he could tear up the dance floor all night. They’d get their own rings. He’d have to rent a tux. His suit was fancy enough to attend a wedding, but not fancy enough to get married in. 

Married. To Shouyou.

They’d have a beautiful ceremony. Tobio would tell Shouyou exactly how he felt, how much he loved him, and he wouldn’t even care that he was saying it in front of other people. He’d thumb Shouyou’s tears away as the man he adored looked up at him with shining, beautiful eyes.

Tobio smiled, a soft and secret smile, as he looked down at the floor. Imagined being called Shouyou’s husband, imagined belonging to him, imagined kissing him as a married man while everyone cheered.

“Whatcha thinking about?” Shouyou said as he wrapped his arms around Tobio’s middle, done with his duties for now. The members of the wedding party and their guests were all headed off to watch a trashy movie, the umpteenth installment of some action-adventure franchise. Then they would all make their way to the formal sit-down dinner at a nice restaurant nearby.

“How lucky I am,” Tobio answered, technically not a lie. But the last thing Shouyou needed was to hear about how much Tobio wanted to marry him. He’d accuse him of having weddings on the brain, not knowing how much Tobio wanted to propose to him, even over a year ago. That kind of shit was not rational and Tobio knew it, now, so he kept it to himself.

“Oh yeah?” Shouyou asked with a gleam in his eye. “Why’s that, exactly?”

Tobio felt his cheeks get hot. Really, he was going to blush? Stupid cheeks.

He wrapped his arms around Shouyou right back, pressing a kiss into the top of his head.

“I love you.”

“I love you,” Shouyou agreed, tilting his head up so Tobio could kiss him on his mouth, too.

“That’s why I’m so lucky,” Tobio said, bringing their lips together.

-----------

Shouyou had never been a best man before. Or a groomsman. But he’d been to a few weddings, including his own, and he could safely say Kenma was the chillest about-to-get-married person he’d ever met.

As Shouyou opened his hotel room door an hour before the wedding, he saw the groom wasn’t even dressed yet. He was laying on the couch, alone in the bridal suite, chewing on Red Vines and playing his Nintendo Switch.

“Kenma!” Shouyou exclaimed in shock, and Kenma nearly fell off the sofa, startled at the sound. “You’re supposed to be downstairs in thirty minutes!”

Kenma shrugged as best he could, from his prone position, and followed it up with a sigh. “How long does it take to put on a suit?” he muttered.

“Longer than you think,” Shouyou said. “You have to do your hair, too.” He looked over at the door to the bedroom part of the suite. He unzipped the garment bag hanging there and started taking out the suit. “Damn this is nice,” he said, as he fingered the black fabric, laying out the pants, vest, shirt, tie, jacket, and socks, taking inventory.

He looked over at Kenma, who was still sprawled on the couch. “Where are your shoes?”

Kenma shrugged again.

Shouyou felt the overwhelming power of Dad Mode engage. He walked over to the couch and plucked the Switch out of Kenma’s hands. Kenma made a choking yelp of a noise and sat up, reaching for the game with grabby hands.

“I was in the middle of a battle,” he whined, as Shouyou shut the game off. Kenma threw himself back down on the couch in defeat.

“So you get to do it again,” Shouyou said. “Second time around is better anyway.”

“Actually it’s the third time,” Kenma said. “I’ve already beaten it twice.” He reached for a new licorice stick.

“Oh hell no,” Shouyou said, grabbing the bucket of Red Vines with his other hand. “You’ll ruin your appetite for dinner!” Fuck, Kenma had leveled up Dad Mode, like the gamer he was. “Put on your clothes!”

Shouyou dumped the candy and game system on the dresser in the bedroom, and started looking around for Kenma’s shoes. As he got on his hands and knees to look underneath the bed, he heard the television turn on.

Dad Mode, level three.

“Kenma, I swear to God, do not make me go in there. Put on your clothes right now!”

He heard the television turn off again. He searched the bathroom. Still no shoes.

He went back into the other room and Kenma was buttoning up his shirt, with a multitude of much put-upon sighs. Shouyou rolled his eyes at his dramatics, which was rich, because Shouyou was no stranger to ridiculousness.

He found the shoes in the closet. Huh. He should have checked there first.

He brought them over to the groom. At least Kenma was mostly dressed, he was wearing his shirt, vest, pants, and socks. Shouyou watched him struggle with the tie around his neck. “Seriously, Kenma? You wore a tie all four years in school.”

“Ugh, Shou, that was a while ago, stop judging me,” Kenma replied with a frustrated lilt to his voice.

Shouyou watched him try to knot the fabric again, and then he realized Kenma couldn’t do it. Not because he didn’t remember, but because his hands were shaking too much.

“Kenma, hey, hey,” Shouyou said gently, as Kenma took a shuddering breath. Shouyou took the two ends of the tie. He pulled one side longer, and wrapped it around the shorter one, slipping it through the middle. Kenma closed his eyes, seemingly trying to calm himself down. Shouyou finished tightening the knot, tucked it in, and smoothed out the shoulders of his best friend’s vest.

“What am I doing, Shouyou?” Kenma asked sincerely.

“Marrying the man you love,” Shouyou answered, just as sincerely. “The man you’ve loved for years.”

“What if things change?” Kenma whispered, and Shouyou brought him in for a hug.

“They will,” Shouyou said. “For the better. I know they will. He’s so good for you. You’re so good for him. You two are so good together.” He could feel Kenma nodding against him.

“You’re just a romantic,” Kenma scoffed, but there was no malice behind it.

“Guilty as charged,” Shouyou said, sniffling a bit.

“Why are you the one crying?” Kenma asked, confused.

“I’m just so happy, I love weddings, I love you, I love your wedding,” Shouyou blubbered, as Kenma pulled away to find him a tissue. Then he brushed his hair and finished getting dressed.

They walked downstairs together, and got to the venue with two minutes to spare.

The ceremony was beautiful, and by the time Kuroo and Kenma read their vows to each other, there were plenty of people crying, not just Shouyou.

He was so happy to stand up next to Kenma and Kuroo as they started the next chapter of their lives, and even happier that he wasn’t alone to witness the chapter this time. He looked out into the audience at his man. Tobio looked amazing in his one nice suit, and as Shouyou found him in the crowd he realized Tobio was looking right at him with a smile. Shouyou wanted to cry happy tears again, but not for Kenma and Kuroo this time. For his own love story.

After the ceremony it was time for pictures, and then the grand entrance, and finally, it was dinner. By this point, Shouyou was missing Tobio fiercely. He found him sitting at a table near the front and before he took his chair, he kissed him like he hadn’t seen him in days, pressing their lips and tongues together with such force that Tobio was nearly pushed off his chair. After he had gotten his fill, he pulled away.

“Hey,” he greeted him, breathlessly.

“Hey,” Tobio responded, getting a drink of water, and recovering from the hello. “This is Shouyou, everyone, my boyfriend,” he said to the rest of the table.

Shouyou tore his eyes off Tobio and looked at the elderly people surrounding them.

“This is Kuroo’s Uncle and Aunt, Makoto and Youko,” Tobio said, “and his grandmother, Shizuko, and his grandfather, Masao.”

As he introduced them, they nodded their hellos. Shouyou wanted to crawl under the table.

“Don’t worry, sweetie,” one of the old ladies said. Was she the aunt or the grandma? “I’m glad you’ve found love. I hope you both are just as happy as my nephew.” Auntie then.

“Thank you,” Shouyou said, but the flush on his cheeks was still hot. Thankfully dinner was being served and Shouyou knew after that was dancing. Really, it was for the best that all the old people at the table knew he was a horny fucker already, because his dancing was definitely going to give it away.

----------

Tobio loved to watch Shouyou dance.

Dropping it to the floor in a vest and tie? Magic. Slow dancing holding him close? Even better.

Tobio couldn’t keep up with his boyfriend’s energy. He had to actually take breaks every once in a while. Sometimes he’d get Shouyou a cold beer so when he left the floor he’d stay next to him long enough to drink it. He switched to water after Shouyou started dancing with the granny from their table and literally picked her up, princess style, to spin her around.

Finally, the wedding was almost over, and only a few couples were left lazily swaying around the parquet, so many colorful koi fish circling each other in a peaceful garden pond.

Tobio held his glowing and slightly damp boyfriend close as they rocked back and forth to Unchained Melody.

“I think it’s a requirement that every wedding play this one,” Shouyou was saying, as Tobio carded his sweaty hair off his forehead, running his thumb along his brow. He placed a loving kiss on his temple.

“I wouldn’t know,” Tobio said, “it’s my first wedding.”

“Well, not your last, at least,” Shouyou said. “Kiyoko’s probably next.”

Tobio hummed. He’d much rather he was next.

Ever since that first impulse to lock Shouyou down when they first met, Tobio hadn’t even brought up the subject. He knew it was best to wait for whatever Shouyou wanted. And if Shouyou never wanted it, then they’d never get married. Tobio was fine with that. He knew Shouyou loved him, even when they didn’t have a paper that was supposed to prove it.

“What’s wrong?” Shouyou asked, taking a step back so he could look up at him, a pinch in his brow.

“Nothing, nothing,” Tobio said, shaking his head and bringing him close again. Even if he was sweaty and gross, this was his man.

“I felt you get all stiff,” Shouyou murmured. “What are you worrying about?”

Fuck, he knows me so well. Tobio found he didn’t mind, somehow.

“Just thinking about you. How much I love you. About us,” he admitted, as the Righteous Brothers crooned into the nearly empty hall. Even the grooms had left, ready to go do whatever it was that a Kuroo and Kenma did together. Probably science experiments followed by some RPGs.

“I love us,” Shouyou sighed, reaching up to give him a kiss. Tobio kissed him back, keeping it chaste. However, Shouyou wasn’t interested in keeping it chaste, it seemed. He pulled Tobio down by his neck, tilting his head so he could press his tongue between Tobio’s lips insistently. Tobio moaned softly as Shouyou licked into him.

“Let’s get out of here,” Shouyou said, low and sultry. Tobio wasn’t able to stop his eyes from widening. Fuck, the deep sexy voice got him every time.

“I thought you had to make sure everything got put away or something,” Tobio said, looking into Shouyou’s desire-filled gaze.

Shouyou looked around. “Looks okay to me,” he declared. “Let’s go.”

Tobio was glad he hadn’t had anything to drink the last couple hours of the wedding, because then he would have been even more distracted on their short drive to the hotel.

As soon as they were in the car, Shouyou attempted to climb over the center console and mount him.

“Please, Shou, let me get us out of here,” Tobio panted, in between Shouyou’s strong kisses to his mouth, his jaw, his neck.

“Just give it to me now,” Shouyou said, rubbing Tobio’s rapidly hardening cock through his pants.

“Do you even have lube?” Tobio’s voice nearly cracked as he put the car in reverse. He slapped Shouyou’s hand away gently. “We are literally six minutes away from the hotel.”

“And then we have to park,” Shouyou whined. “And get in the elevator,” he added. “And get to the room.

“And shower,” Tobio suggested. “You’re a sweaty mess.”

Shouyou squawked in offense. “Sorry I’m so gross,” he said petulantly, throwing himself back into the passenger seat. “Maybe we shouldn’t fuck tonight.”

They stopped at a red light and Tobio looked over at his boyfriend, who now had his arms folded across his chest. Pouting.

“I was going to put my mouth all over you,” Tobio said nonchalantly. “But if you’d rather not, you don’t have to shower. I can just fuck you quick and dirty, if that’s what you’d prefer.”

The light turned green and Tobio turned back to the road, but not before watching Shouyou’s eyes widen as his mouth fell open.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Tobio smirked, and they drove the rest of the way to the hotel without issue.

----------

By the time he was out of the shower, Shouyou was only a little tipsy, and the day had almost caught up with him and driven him to exhaustion. Almost.

He was still interested in whatever Tobio had planned, however, and his curiosity kept him wide awake.

He came out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist. Tobio was sitting on the bed, covers pulled back, waiting for him.

Completely naked.

Shouyou’s mouth watered as he threw the towel onto the foot of the bed. He hoped they would need it later. He hoped they were going to make a mess. He hoped Tobio made a mess of him.

He crawled on the sheets toward where his beautiful boyfriend was waiting for him, and then knelt in front of him, running his fingers through his hair. He pressed their lips together and Tobio reciprocated, putting his arms around Shouyou’s waist and pulling him tight as he entered his mouth with his tongue. Shouyou gasped at the welcome intrusion. Tobio grabbed his elbow and moved to the side and suddenly Shouyou was on his back and Tobio was over him, his arms on either side of his head, caging him against the bed. What the fuck?

“Jiu Jitsu white belt, remember?” Tobio said, in response to Shouyou’s shocked face.

“How did you?” Shouyou yelped, as Tobio smirked.

“YouTube,” he answered, and then he crashed their lips together.

Shouyou’s back arched at the aggression of Tobio’s mouth on his. Fuck this was amazing. Not that it wasn’t amazing to dominate the shit out of Tobio. That was a normal fucking day. But this, this, Tobio on him, pressing their bodies together with force, pinning Shouyou to the bed as he ground their dicks together, as he pushed his tongue inside, taking, fuck, it was good.

Shouyou couldn’t breathe so he yanked Tobio’s hair back. He took a big gasp of air as Tobio put his hand on his, prying his fingers loose, pinning his wrist into the pillow.

“Tobio Kageyama,” Shouyou said, gasping. “What are you doing?”

Tobio pinned his other wrist. “Do you like it?” he asked gruffly.

Shouyou considered it. Yeah, he liked it.

“Fuck you,” he growled, and he watched Tobio’s eyes gleam with the challenge. Tobio pressed both his hands into the bed, and brought his mouth down to Shouyou’s neck, licking down the side before sucking a bruise into the junction of his neck and shoulder. Shouyou arched his back and moaned, trying to think if he owned any turtlenecks he could wear to work next week because fuck he was going to be all marked up and—

Tobio had both his wrists pinned under one of his big hands now, and he was reaching under the pillow for something—the lube.

Tobio slicked up his fingers one-handed, which was fairly impressive, before he started kissing Shouyou fiercely again. He pressed two slippery fingers against his entrance. Shouyou whined as Tobio teased the ring of muscle, stroking the inside without sliding in.

“Hm? Something wrong?” Tobio asked, as he pulled his mouth off of Shouyou’s, watching him shudder.

“If you don’t hurry up and fuck me,” Shouyou threatened, “I’m going to fuck you instead.”

Tobio laughed, breaking character completely. They both understood he was only getting away with any of this because Shouyou was letting him. They were under zero pretense that Tobio could actually take Shouyou in a fight of any kind, even with his six-inch reach advantage.

“Is that what you want?” Tobio asked. “You can fuck me if you want.” And then he slipped his fingers inside and Shouyou nearly screamed.

“Is that what you fucking want?” Tobio asked again, as he pulled his fingers out and plunged them inside again. “Answer me.”

“Fuck, no,” Shouyou said, as he spread his legs wider, trying to take more. He was enjoying this too much to back out now. “Fuck me, nh, Tobio, yes, nh.”

“What do you say?” Tobio asked, adding a third finger, as his aggressive kisses moved down his neck and Shouyou howled. He listened to the squelch of Tobio’s fingers as they moved in and out of him and wanted nothing more than those fingers to be replaced with Tobio’s cock.

“Please,” Shouyou begged. “Please, Tobio, please fuck me, please.” He didn’t care anymore, didn’t care about being a brat, wanted Tobio to give him what he fucking wanted. Wanted him deep inside.

Tobio’s answer to his pleas was to lick down his neck to his chest, where he started sucking on his left nipple piercing, as the hand fingerfucking him pressed into his sweet spot relentlessly. Fuck, fuck, fuck, it was too much, too much, he—

He came, his cock kicking cum all over his abs, as Tobio looked down quickly, just as surprised as he was by the suddenness of his orgasm.

“Shou,” Tobio said, watching Shouyou shiver as his dick pulsed one last time. “Is all this for me?” His tongue lapped at the highest drop, the cum Shouyou had splattered between his own tits.

“Nh, yes,” Shouyou gasped, feeling Tobio lick him clean. “For you.” Tobio didn’t stop, slowly thrusting in and out of him, scissoring his fingers, opening him up. Tobio let his wrists go, moving down his body, his mouth licking the cum off his abs, leaving bruises on each side of his ribcage with his teeth, because he wanted to.

Shouyou wanted it too.

Then Tobio’s mouth was all the way to his cock, and Shouyou trembled even harder. It didn’t feel good. It felt like too much. He almost told Tobio to stop. Tobio’s lips were parting and he was sucking the tip of his dick between them and Shouyou couldn’t handle it.

“Nh, fuck, too much,” Shouyou cried out. Tobio swirled his tongue around the tip before popping off. The fingers inside him stilled.

“Do you want me to stop?” he asked, rubbing Shouyou’s thigh with the hand not inside him, massaging the dance-sore muscles.

Did he want Tobio to stop? It was a good question. On the one hand, fuck, it felt amazing, but on the other hand he was oversensitive, overwhelmed. He didn’t know what he wanted. He decided to let Tobio decide instead.

Letting go of the responsibility felt good.

“I trust you,” Shouyou sighed. “Do whatever you want to me.” He felt himself relax, drop into the mattress, going limp with the release of all his tension.

“I want to suck your dick,” Tobio said, licking his cock with a fat tongue. “And I want to make you come in my mouth. And then I want to fuck you, and make you come again.”

Shouyou’s hips bucked uncontrollably as he whined with desire.

“Do it then,” he breathed, and Tobio took his cock in his mouth, his hot, wet heat all around him. Fuck, Tobio was good at this, Shouyou thought, his dick filling out again as he brought a hand down to tangle in his black locks. Tobio hummed in delight as Shouyou began to fuck his face, hollowing his cheeks and bobbing his head. He crooked his fingers and began to gently rub Shouyou’s sweet spot, insistent attention that he couldn’t escape. He felt the pressure build, and just like the last orgasm, the wave crashed into him quickly, and he came again, almost as hard as the first time, thrashing as he wailed Tobio’s name.

“—you feel?” Shouyou heard faintly as sound returned to his head, which seemed like it was filled with cotton.  He blinked his eyes open and looked into Tobio’s face. He felt cross-eyed. His eyelids were heavy. Tobio sounded like he was laughing gently.  He pressed a kiss into the side of Shouyou’s forehead.

“Breathe, my love,” Tobio said, caressing Shouyou’s body. Fuck, his fingers were still inside, still pumping away. “I’m gonna fuck you now, ‘kay?” Shouyou felt himself nod. It was so hard to keep his eyes open. “Say it,” Tobio said.

“Yessss,” Shouyou hissed, like a tire letting out air. He was the air, he was floating.

Then Tobio was inside him, working his way in slowly, meeting zero resistance. Why would he? Shouyou was made of mist, incorporeal. Tobio’s cock dragged against his muscles slowly as he pushed all the way in. Shouyou felt himself shiver. His legs were heavy, and then they were in the air, as Tobio put them over his forearms so he could get into him deeper. Tobio’s face was in front of his, and he kissed him fiercely as he bottomed out. Shouyou mewled as Tobio started languidly moving his dick in and out, rolling his hips as he fucked into him.

Shouyou had a flash of memory, of how the first time they kissed, Tobio didn’t even know what he was doing. And now? He was licking into his mouth like a pro, while he was fucking Shouyou to blissful nothingness. Shouyou smiled as Tobio pulled his lips away.

“What’s wrong?” Tobio asked, stilling his thrusts.

Shouyou opened his eyes, seeing Tobio’s concerned expression. “Happy,” he said, feeling the tears roll down his cheeks.

“Oh, Shouyou,” Tobio said, kissing him again. “I love you so much.”

Shouyou closed his eyes again, still smiling, still crying.

“Do you want me to stop?” Tobio asked, rubbing his thumb down his cheek. Shouyou’s eyebrows furrowed. Some of his floaty feeling subsided.

“No, I want it,” Shouyou said. “Please,” he added, for good measure.

Tobio started moving again and Shouyou threw his head back, breathing, panting, his upper body writhing as Tobio picked up his pace.  Shouyou felt his body rocking along with the movement as Tobio chased his release.

“You feel so good around me,” Tobio murmured into his ear. “I’m close already.”

“Yeah,” Shouyou breathed. “Come inside.”

Shouyou heard Tobio moan, felt his hips stutter, and Tobio was coming, mmmmh, that was nice. Tobio rolled in and out a few more times as Shouyou sighed happily.

“Shou?” Tobio asked. Shouyou opened his eyes.

“I told you earlier, I was going to lick you all over, remember?” Tobio asked. “Is that still okay?” Shouyou nodded and let his eyes flutter shut again. He felt Tobio slip out, felt Tobio’s cum start to ooze out of him.

Felt Tobio’s tongue, hot and sloppy on his asshole.

Shouyou wanted to scream, wanted to thrash, but all that came out was a tiny “oh,” that was a step above a sigh. Fuck, Tobio’s tongue was inside him, fuck, he felt a finger in him too, oh fuck his dick was hard again and Tobio’s other hand was around it

“Please,” Tobio was begging, in between slurps of his tongue as he licked Shouyou clean. “Let me fuck you again, Shouyou, please.”

“Yes, Tobio, nh, oh fuck, fuck me,” Shouyou said, and he felt how bad Tobio wanted it, and fuck, how amazing would it be, to be fucked until he couldn’t remember his own name?

Tobio was slipping back in, wrapping his arms around him, kissing into his mouth tenderly as his hips jumped quickly. Shouyou felt himself getting close, somehow, and it didn’t matter, as long as Tobio came again he was happy. Tobio’s hand wrapped around his dick unexpectedly and Shouyou moaned into the touch.

“Come for me,” Tobio said, his voice tight. “Come for me, Shou.”

It wasn’t like Shouyou needed permission. But somehow the desperation in Tobio’s voice pushed him over the edge. He dripped over Tobio’s fist, squeezed around Tobio’s dick, felt Tobio follow him off the cliff.

“You’re so good,” Tobio gasped, as he pushed himself inside with one last thrust, giving Shouyou what he could. Tobio fell forward, holding himself up on his arms so he didn’t suffocate him.

“I love you, Shouyou, I love you so much,” Tobio said, pressing kisses into his mouth, jaw, neck. Shouyou felt himself start to shiver. Now that he was coming down, he was so cold.

Tobio pulled the blankets over the both of them and held him close. Their combined body heat under the covers warmed Shouyou up and it was nice, so nice. Tobio threw his leg over him, pulled him close, his arm underneath Shouyou’s head, his chin resting on his hair.

Tobio tangled him up in his body, his life, his love. Shouyou found himself crying again.

“Are you okay?” Tobio murmured into his head.

“Happy,” Shouyou said again. “Love you, too.”

“I’m happy too,” Tobio said. “Happy you love me.”

Shouyou sighed. He felt warm. Loved, and warm. And sticky.

“Even if I’m sticky?” he asked Tobio with a dry laugh. He had to make sure.

Especially if you’re sticky. That’s how you know I loved you once or twice already,” Tobio laughed back.

Shouyou thought about getting up, and showers and responsibilities. But then he realized he didn’t have to wash the sheets, they were someone else’s problem. He could just enjoy the moment for once in his life. He could choose joy.

Shouyou chose joy.

----------

Epilogue: Three years later 

----------

Tobio had never felt one way or the other about kids. On the one hand, he hadn’t grown up around any babies, and before today he had never held one in his hands. On the other hand, he had loved Charlotte for a few years now and his love had never wavered.

The baby’s hair was black, her tiny face peaceful and relaxed as she breathed, her little mouth parted slightly. Her forehead was covered in fine black fuzz. Her name was Kairi and she was terrifying in her breakability. Shouyou, of course, was having a field day.

“Move your arm a little, so I can get the best picture,” he said, “turn toward the window.”

“Turn my arm? Or my body?” Tobio whispered, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of breaking the baby.

“Both?” Shouyou laughed. “Why are you whispering?”

“Don’t want to wake her,” Tobio said, again in a whisper.

Shouyou laughed. “It’s actually better for babies if we’re a little loud. You want them to be able to fall asleep anywhere. And it’s really noisy inside the womb, you know? They hear everything the mom says and the heartbeat is a constant thud.”

Tobio just stared at him dumbly.

“I read a lot of books. For Charlie,” Shouyou said.

“He’s been really helpful,” Kenma said, sitting on the other couch. “Thank God someone is rational around here.”

Kuroo was standing right next to Tobio with his hands outstretched, like he was spotting someone doing a dangerous gymnastics routine.

Shouyou finished getting his picture and went to sit next to Kenma. Kuroo continued to hover.

“Kuro, you can sit, you know,” Kenma said, rolling his eyes.

“Tobio won’t break her,” Shouyou agreed. “He’s too terrified.”

Tobio gulped with an audible click and Shouyou laughed. Kairi yawned in her sleep, and the movement made her squirm a bit. Tobio watched a line appear between her eyebrows, maybe she was upset? He could feel her tiny body tense a little. And then he heard a wet fart and the baby’s face visibly relaxed. He looked over at Shouyou in shock and he was taking another fucking video.

“Your face, Tobio, your face, you thought she was going to explode or something,” Shouyou said, laughing his ass off.

Tobio looked over at Kuroo. “Would it be okay if—”

“Yes,” Kuroo said immediately, sitting next to Tobio and gently taking Kairi from his arms.

Tobio sighed in relief, at the lack of responsibility that came with no longer holding a tiny child. He stood up to walk off the remnants of his nervous energy, shaking his hands out as if he had just run a few miles.

“I’ll make tea,” he offered, and Shouyou nodded approvingly, shooting new video footage of Kuroo and his daughter.

Tobio made his way into the kitchen. It had white countertops, tile, and cabinets, stainless steel fixtures, and lots of room to cook. It was full of natural light and had a big island that served as the dining table most nights. Charlotte and Shouyou would usually watch him make dinner, telling him about their day, and he would finish the meal and just end up putting the plates down and joining them at the island. Every once in a while they’d eat at the actual dining table, but only when they had guests, which was more weekends than not. They loved inviting their friends over. But if they didn’t have company, they were all hanging out in the kitchen. When his family was with him, the kitchen was his happy place.

It was the main reason they decided to buy this house.

As the kettle warmed up, Tobio looked out the window, where he could see the backyard. The wind chime he had secretly bought for Shouyou in Sedona fluttered in the breeze. The chalk portraits Charlie had sketched on the patio last week were still visible. The playground his parents bought for Charlotte for last Christmas was covered in chalk too. Her scooter, bike, and roller skates were scattered everywhere. Charlie loved anything with wheels, it seemed.

Shouyou joined him in the kitchen. He pulled four mugs out of the cabinet and put a tea bag in each one.

“Did you forget what you were doing?” he asked, seemingly amused at the face Tobio was making as he daydreamed.

Tobio looked over at him with a sigh. A happy, contented sigh. He walked over and turned Shouyou away from the counter so he could wrap his arms around him. He turned his head and laid his cheek on Shouyou’s head. Never mind the kitchen, wrapped around Shouyou was his happy place.

“Are you okay?” Shouyou asked, the question muffled, since he was asking it while being squeezed against Tobio’s chest.

“I just love you so much. I love Charlie, too. I love our home together. I love our life together,” Tobio answered, honesty and truth suffusing his words, talking easily about his feelings, a hard-earned skill he’d improved over the nearly five years they’d been together.

It had been hard to learn to open up, learn how to let someone in. And now that he knew what it was like to be a part of a relationship where both parties were healthy and whole, he could never go back to the way he used to be. He knew now that emotions and conversations weren’t stupid, they were necessary, and worth having. They made life more intense and more intimate. He knew Shouyou felt the same way.

The kettle whistled and Shouyou twisted around a bit so he could make the tea. Tobio kept his arms wrapped around him obnoxiously, watching him pour the hot water into the mugs.

“You ever think about having another kid?” Tobio murmured, as Shouyou turned back to him, embracing him again, letting the cups of tea steep on the counter.

“Maybe,” Shouyou said, looking up. He thought a minute and glanced over, toward the living room where Kenma and Kuroo were holding their baby. “I don’t think I’d go for surrogacy, though,” he added. “It’s expensive and…”

He looked away, chewing his lip. Tobio brought up one of his hands to stroke his lover’s face.

“What?” he asked gently.

“I’ve always thought about foster-adopting,” Shouyou said. “I always wanted to help a kid in a bad situation. I always wanted someone to help me, growing up. I’d love to be able to do that for someone.”

Tobio hadn’t known he could love Shouyou any more than he did, but it turned out anything was possible. He held him tight.

“We have the room, now,” Tobio said. “Three bedrooms here, you know?”

Shouyou looked up at him. “You mean it?”

“Of course I do, I already know you’re a great dad,” Tobio said matter-of-factly. “I’d like to help someone too.”

“It’s easier to adopt if you’re married,” Shouyou murmured, so quietly Tobio thought he had misheard.

“It’s okay,” he said reassuringly. “We’ll figure it out.” As long as they were together, they could make it work. They’d fight any problem they might face, and they’d fight it together. Just like they had promised each other years ago.

Shouyou pulled back so he could look Tobio in the face. God, he was so beautiful.

“Tobio?” Shouyou asked, his words shaky, his eyes watery.

“Yeah?” Tobio answered, a little worried by the tone of Shouyou’s voice.

“Will you marry me?”

Tobio looked into the eyes of the man he loved.

“Of course I will,” he said simply.

“Fucking finally!” Kuroo cawed, holding Kairi in his arms as he looked on, Kenma smiling next to him, his phone out.

“Language,” Kenma deadpanned, as he kept recording the proposal.

“How did you know?” Shouyou squawked, motioning to Kenma’s phone.

“You two were taking way too long. I assumed something was up. Saw you acting stupid cute and told Kenma to start recording ‘cause you were recording us earlier, wanted to get you back,” Kuroo explained.

“Little did I know what I was getting,” Kenma added, with a wag of his eyebrow.

“Aww, we videoed yours just like you videoed ours,” Kuroo said, his voice dripping with smarm.

Even Kuroo couldn’t wipe the grin off Tobio’s face. He was glad to be photographed for the first time in his life, excited someone was capturing his smile on film. He’d never been this happy before.

“I love you, Tobio,” Shouyou said, standing on his tiptoes.

“I love you, too, Shouyou,” Tobio answered. He leaned down to kiss his fiancé.