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The World’s most (un)serious Game of Chicken - Hanamaki x Reader

Hanamaki has never been serious a day in his life. Lots of crack and luff and Seijoh Golden Four.

Warning: Over 6k words. My hand slipped.

Kindergarten - 5 years old

Yasuda, known for her large forehead and rich parents, points her finger at her newest enemy.

“Hanamaki is ugly,” she declares. “No one can touch him or they are ugly too!”

You’re pretty sure she’s just envious of the fact that his mother gave him a Squishmallow to bring along, and it’s a rare one too.

The other kids draw away. Hanamaki’s looking a little confused, but he’s not crying. You’re pretty sure you’d cry.

Yasuda grins. It’s an ugly thing, that grin, and it makes you want to punch her in the face. But then you’d get sent in time-out again.

Besides, your mother told you to “kill them with kindness” this morning, whatever that means.

Before you can rethink your strategy, you take a step forward.

Yasuda’s eyes widen at your challenge.

But it’s too late. You’re throwing yourself at Hanamaki who’s luckily catching you. He smells like bubblegum.

“Now I’m ugly too!” You declare before turning around with fire in your veins, your determined eyes catching Yasuda’s. You can see the fear in them.

“Run!”

-

“Hey,” Hanamaki waits outside, Squishmallow in his hands.

“Hey,” you say, wiping the snot from your nose and into your skirt. You hate that you cry all the time, especially in front of the teacher who just scolded you. It’s not your fault Yasuda tripped when you ran after her.

“Thank you,” he says, voice earnest, “For that. You know.”

You sniff and shrug at the same time. “It’s nothing. I don’t like Yasuda. She’s nasty.”

He grins wide, revealing a missing tooth.

“Me too.” He offers the Squishmallow to you. “Friends?”

“You can’t buy me,” you tell him, the sentence grown-up and unfamiliar in your mouth. You heard it last week on Mom’s TV show. But you take the Squishmallow anyway. “Thanks.”

“Takahiro,” a breathless voice calls out. You both turn to his mother rushing down the street. She stops, catches her breath, and smiles down at you.

“Aww, did you give her your Squishmallow? Is she your friend?”

The two of you share a look. Kindergarten is hell already, you can’t have rumors like that going around.

“Nah!” You declare loudly, “Boys are nasty. This is blackmail.”

And before she can say anything, you rush back inside, determined to hide until they’re both gone.

-

Elementary school - 6 years old

The boy is tall, with dark curls hiding his tired-looking eyes.

“Yes?” You ask, annoyed that he’s blocking the sunlight streaming in.

“This is Hanamaki’s place.”

“So?” You push the lollipop in your mouth to the other side. “What’s it to you?”

“Hanamaki said I could sit with him at lunch.”

You sniff, clearly unimpressed.

And as if he’d heard it, Hanamaki appears in the doorway.

“Matsukawa, you made it.” He grins, clapping a hand on the boy’s shoulder as he slides into his seat. “What’d you get for lunch?” Hanamaki asks you without skipping a beat, already lifting the lid of your Bento Box. “Sausages, nice. Do you want to switch? I’ve got egg rolls.”

“Is this your friend?” Matsukawa asks, obvious interest sneaking into his voice.

Hanamki snorts. “No? She’s my mortal enemy.”

“Yeah,” you agree immediately. “Watch out for the rice. It’s laced with cy-cy-”

“Cyanide,” Matsukawa offers, pulling a chair closer. “I want the rice then. I’m offering tomatoes.”

-

Elementary school - 9 years old

“So, what did Yamagata want?” Hanamaki asks when you join them.

“He asked me out on a date.” You pick a tomato from Matsukawa’s Bento and chew on it as if you don’t care about it at all.

Hanamaki’s eyes are wide and round as he takes you in, his mouth open yet he seems to be speechless. Which is a first.

“You okay?” Matsukawa asks and for a second you’re not sure who he’s taking to, you or Hanamaki.

“That means you’re grown up,” Hanamaki whispers finally. “Like, a grown-up grown-up. Did you say yes?”

“No?” You ask back. “Yamagata is disgusting. He eats his snot.”

“You do that too,” Matsukawa points out.

“I stopped last year,” you point out, chopsticks raised for emphasis. “But if you think Yamagata is such a catch, you can date him if you want, huh?”

“No thank you,” Matsukawa waves his hands, “I’m waiting for Yoshida-chan.”

Yoshida-chan, your very lovely though also very old teacher, lifts her head from where she’d been reading at the desk and smiles in your direction, clearly not clued in on the joke.

You all smile and wave back, snickering quietly when she turns back to her book.

“But if you want to date,” Matsukawa points out, an eggroll perfectly placed between his chopsticks as he points, “You two can just date each other.”

“Yuck!” You both spit out at the same time and Matsukawa rolls his eyes.

-

Elementary school - 12 years old

You’re not the only girl waiting outside the gym.

Both Hanamaki and Matsukawa have started playing Volleyball and you’re seriously considering taking it up next year as well. They make you train with them anyway in their free time and it sucks to either have to wait for them or go home alone. Baseball is only half as fun without them there.

“You think he’s going to say yes?” One of the girls in a group near you asks her friends. She’s pretty and you think she might be from one of the top classes.

“Of Course! Hanamaki would be dumb to say no.”

You turn a little at the mention of his name but it’s too late to do anything about it anyway when the doors open and the boys step out.

“Hanamaki, hi!” Pretty Girl all but dances over to where he’s walking toward you, stopping him in his tracks.

Matsukawa immediately realizes what’s about to go down, you can tell by the face he makes, but he doesn’t walk off, just stands there, stiff as a board, looming over Pretty Girl’s face.

“Uh, could you… walk away?” She asks and you hide your snicker behind your hand.

“Why?”

“Because… I was… uh… going to ask… Hanamaki… something?”

“So?”

“Hanamaki?” She’s determined, you have to admit that, turning back to him, “Could we talk in private for a second?”

To your surprise, both of the boys turn to where you’re waiting, looking at you as if waiting for a clue. It’s annoying as hell.

“What?” You ask, pointedly raising your hand to check your nails as if there’s anything to check but the dirt hiding under them. “I don’t have anywhere else to be.”

-

Matsukawa waits next to you, quiet like a stone.

You want to know what she’s saying. Not that you don’t know what she’s saying, but you want to know what words she’s using. Hanamaki still can’t help but snicker every time someone mentions the L-Word like a little kid.

You don’t have to wait long.

Her face tells you everything you need to know as she slips into the group of her friends.

Hanamaki looks like nothing happened at all and you turn to leave with him, satisfied in a way you can’t properly explain.

“Is she-” A voice raises as you move and the three of you turn back again. It’s not Pretty Girl but one of her equally pretty friends. “Is she your girlfriend?” She nods in your direction.

You pull a face before Hanamaki can react.

“Ew. I’m his cousin.”

-

Matsukawa lives one street down from Hanamaki and you live one street further down, right at the river.

Today, he doesn’t stop at his place like he usually does, kicking a pebble down the street as if to tell you to keep walking.

“What did she say?” You ask eventually when the silence gets too loud.

“She told me I’m pretty.”

You snort.

“What?” He asks, laughter audible in his voice. “I’m pretty.”

“In your dreams,” you tell him and he’s full-on laughing now, both of you howling out a “He’s ugly!” as if Yasuda’s torment happened days ago instead of years.

Eventually, he kicks the pebble over to you to keep going and you follow suit, still snickering.

“I’d never have said yes,” he tells you, halfway caught between a snicker and something else, “Her lips looked like she put glitter glue on.”

“That’s lipgloss,” you explain, “It probably tastes like fruit.”

“I like fruit,” he says earnestly. “Do you have lipgloss like that?”

“No,” you lie and you don’t know why but your heart beats fast like a humminbird.

“Shame,” he sighs and you’re not sure if he means it. “Tell me when that changes.”

-

Junior High - 13 years old

“Your name’s going to be Makki,” Oikawa declares with the air of someone who rarely gets told off. “And your name’s going to be Mattsun.”

You push your lollipop to the side and narrow your eyes at him.

“Why?”

“Because it sounds cooler.”

“sh*ttykawa,” you offer, “Sounds way cooler.”

Iwaizumi next to him snickers and Oikawa turns to him with a pout.

“Iwa-chan!” He whines.

“Iwa-chan!” You repeat after him, expertly copying his whiny tone. Everyone laughs.

“You’re friends?” Oikawa asks just minutes later, still pondering on what nickname to give you. He points at you, then Mattsun, then Makki.

You roll your eyes.

“Mortal enemies,” you declare. “We’re bound until we kill each other. This is just our latest reanimation.”

“Oh, cool, like in that anime?” Oikawa asks immediately, eyes glowing.

You snort. Hanamaki leans over you, pushing your head into his sweaty armpit. You fight to get him off. Mattsun changes the topic.

-

“Hey,” Iwaizumi asks right as you part after class, “Do you want to become a manager?”

You blink, surprised that he asked you. He’s pretty shy around girls even if you don’t act like one most of the time.

“Didn’t think about that,” you tell him honestly, “I was going to try out for the girl's team first.”

“Oh, sure.” He starts to stutter, turning away. “Good luck.”

Makki looks after him, mouthing an exaggerated “Good luck” your way.

You roll your eyes.

-

“Do you think I should become a manager?” You ask as soon as Mattsun is out of sight.

Makki kicks a pebble over to you and you kick it back.

“I dunno, we didn’t have a manager in Elementary School,” he remembers. “Isn’t that job kinda boring?”

“Sure, but we could be in the same team, kinda.”

He nods slowly. Then, he grins. “You would have to wipe away my sweat.”

“Ugh, no!” You whine. “Gross!”

“Fetch me my water bottle, manager-chan!” He orders in the most conceited voice he can muster. “Hush hush, we have a game to win.”

“You’re impossible,” you tell him, pushing him off when he leans into you with all his weight. “You can get your own water bottles, loser.”

It’s only when his door comes into sight that he sobers up again, turning back to you.

“What do you think of Oikawa and Iwaizumi?” Makki asks, voice suddenly serious. It’s the first time he’s ever asked you something like that. You doubt he would have cared if you didn’t like Mattsun back then. Or would he?

“They’re okay,” you declare. “Oikawa is a little conceited if you ask me, but I guess Iwaizumi keeps him in check. Iwaizumi could be cool if we get him a little out of his shell, maybe? He’s so serious.”

Makki nods slowly.

“And lookwise?”

You furrow your brows. “Don’t ask me something like that, you know I don’t have any taste. We’ll see if the girls like them when it’s time, right? They liked you too and you look horrendous.”

“He’s ugly,” he crows softly and you roll your eyes, try to trip him and fail spectacularly.

-

Junior High - 14 years old

“I don’t want to be the referee again,” you declare pointedly when you join the boys at the riverbank, golden sunlight streaming over the area that has probably seen more Volleyball training sessions than your school gym. But who’s counting?

“Fine,” Oikawa huffs, yet again the one who decides everything. You roll your eyes behind his back. “You can be libero.”

“Oh yes, I’m saving your asses. Again.” You drawl out, smacking Makki’s butt as you pass by. He wiggles it again for good measure and Iwaizumi’s face turns red.

-

Half an hour later a group of boys joins you at the riverbank. You don’t know their faces, but Oikawa greets them eagerly. Not like friends, but friendly acquaintances.

“Who’s girlfriend is that?” One of them asks, pointing at you.

You scowl, but Makki’s faster than you.

“This, my esteemed gentleman, is my bodyguard,” he declares loudly. “It’s her job to keep me from getting killed, which is rather unfortunate.”

“Most of his death threats come from her,” Mattsun adds dryly. “Watch out, she bites.”

-

“Hey,” Makki’s leaning against the doorway of your bedroom, staring out your window at the riverbank below. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” you groan into your pillow, wishing he’d leave. It’s one thing getting your period in a friendly mixed match. It’s another thing if you bleed through your pants so spectacularly one of the boys on the other team has to puke at the sight.

“You can leave,” you tell him when he’s still not moving minutes later.

But when you hear his footsteps, they come closer. Before you can look up and glare at him, he drops, his body almost crushing yours.

You yelp, but he’s too heavy, too much arms and legs and everything else and trying to fight him off turns into a tickle-fight instead. He begs for mercy minutes later, claiming he’ll pee on your bed if you don’t set him free.

“You suck,” you tell him as you stretch out next to him, looking up at the ceiling of your bedroom, all the glow-in-the-dark stars that you claim you will take down soon.

“You suck more,” he answers softly, falling silent for a while. It’s comfortable, being like this, just Makki and you, and no one else to judge it.

“You wanna go back out and kick their asses?” Makki asks eventually and you nod, slipping off your bed before he can push you off.

-

Junior High - 15 years old

“Interesting,” Mattsun watches Oikawa’s fanclub with the most bored look on his face, “Collective loss of good judgment. That’s rare.”

“Ah, there are still some good ones left,” you tell him, “Ishikawa from my Volleyball Club has a crush on you, by the way.”

“Oh?” Mattsun asks, turning. “Which one?”

“First year, pinch server, the one with the pixie cut.”

He ponders that for a moment before he shakes his head. “I don’t like short hair on girls.”

You roll your eyes. “You’re superficial.”

“What do you like?” Mattsun asks, a weird kind of grin on his face. And you know all his grins by now, or so you thought. “In boys, I mean?”

You furrow your brows. “How would I know? There’s no boy I like.”

Mattsun scoffs disbelievingly.

“What?” You ask, hackles rising.

A warm arm slings itself around your hips and a head lands heavy on your shoulder.

“What are you talking about?” Makki asks, smacking his bubblegum into your ear.

“What kind of boys she’s into,” Mattsun points out.

“Oh, I wanna hear that,” Oikawa fights himself free from his groupies and shuffles over, pulling Iwaizumi with him. “Because I have a feeling they have to be tall, good looking and into Volleyball.”

You roll your eyes, unsure if the heartbeat you feel in your chest is your own or Makki’s from how closely he’s pressed against you. It’s annoying, and you hate annoying things.

“Actually,” you tell them as pointedly as you can, “I like them small. Tiny, even. Really ugly too, because that adds character. It’s best if they’re practically disfigured.”

“But they have to be into Volleyball?” Iwaizumi asks, a small smile dancing over his lips.

You shrug, almost managing to push Makki’s head off your shoulders.

“Hobbies are Hobbies. He could be into knitting for all I care.”

“Ah well, that’s good to know,” Makki sings, “Because I saw a guy exactly like that. I could set you guys up.”

“You would do that?” You mock gasp, pressing your hands against your chest. “For your mortal enemy?”

“Anything for you,” he declares, pressing a fake tear from his eyes while the rest of the group turns away, no longer interested.

-

“By the way,” Makki tells you as he follows you down the road, Mattsun’s house growing smaller and smaller behind you, “Itoh-chan asked me out today.”

“Oh?” You look over. “When did that happen?”

“Ah, while you and Mattsun were discussing what kind of boys you like,” he grins cheekily.

“You mean while I was telling him that Ishikawa has a crush on him?”

“She does? What a shame, she’d really be his type if she had longer hair.”

“What do you guys have with hair?” You ask, a little exasperated. You don’t really expect him to pull on yours, but you’re not surprised when he does it either.

Makki stops in front of his house but he’s not going inside and you’re not leaving either.

“Don’t you wanna know what I told her?” He asks and his voice dares you to say yes.

“Not really. I’m gonna find out eventually.”

“I said no,” he shrugs, “Because she was talking about kissing me and I didn’t want to have my first kiss with someone who chews bubblegum like a horse.”

You roll your eyes.

“You’re superficial.”

“Maybe.”

Silence.

“Do you wanna practice?” You ask.

He looks at you, no sign of a joke in his eyes when he speaks.

“With or without lipgloss?” You realize that he knew what you meant when you asked, just like he’s always known what you thought before you said it out loud.

“What do you think?” You ask, moving one leg first and then the other. He falls into step next to you.

“What flavors are you offering?”

“Uh, I have one that’s supposed to be cherry flavored, but it tastes more like bubblegum.”

“I like bubblegum.”

“I know.”

His lips are dry and a little chapped, his hands clammy as they hold yours.

Kissing isn’t all that it’s made out to be, you decide unanimously a few minutes later and head down to the riverbank with a Volleyball instead.

-

High school - 16 years old

“Hey, we’re staying behind after training,” Makki tells you in between Classes, “Oikawa has this idea he wants to try out. Are you coming over to watch?”

“Sure,” you tell him, “Can’t have you walk home alone. You’d end up in Tokyo or something worse in the end.”

“What would I do without you?” He asks, exaggerating his theatrics as he dips back out of the classroom.

“Boyfriend?” The girl next to you asks curiously.

“Mortal enemy,” you declare and she furrows her brows and falls silent.

-

“Hey, we have training today,” you pull a lollipop from your jacket and pop it into your mouth, pulling a second one out when Mattsun stretches out his hand, asking wordlessly for one.

“Are you waiting for me?”

“What time are you going to be out?” Makki asks only half-listening as he copies Mattsun’s notes from the lesson. History is his weakest subject.

You calculate and name it and he nods.

“Yeah, sure, we can stay in the library until then and do our homework, right?” He turns to Mattsun who rolls his eyes.

“You don’t have to wait around if you don’t want to,” you tell him and Mattsun’s eyes roll even harder.

You can’t help but snicker at it, knocking one last time against Makki’s desk when the bell rings, calling you back to your own Class.

“Alright, see you later guys.”

“Girlfriend?” One of the guys to their left asks, leaning over. “She’s pretty.”

“Mortal enemy,” Makki declares proudly, finally looking up from his notes. “I’d be careful. She bites.”

-

“No, no, this goes here,” you pull his hand from the paper before he can put the wrong number in yet again. “We’re not talking about the Edo period yet!”

“How do I know?” Makki grumbles, kicking his feet in the air behind him. “This sh*t sucks.”

“You wanna do something else?” You ask, not in the least bit minding a break. “Mattsun’s not coming over for another hour.”

“If ever,” Makki mumbles lowly and you look to the side just in time to watch insecurity flash over his face.

“You think he’s going to ditch you for a girlfriend?”

“Isn’t that how it always goes?” He asks, writing the wrong date in the space in front of him. You don’t care to correct him.

“We wouldn’t be like that,” you point out, not quite sure in what way you mean it.

“No,” he agrees easily. “We wouldn’t.”

“Mattsun’s not like that,” you assure him, putting your hand over his. “sh*ttykawa maybe, but not Mattsun.”

He stills for a second, eyes flickering over to yours. You can tell that he’s thinking about something, but you’re not yet sure what it is.

“Wanna try again?” He asks, voice low and quiet, his eyes flickering to your lips.

Not much history is studied that afternoon.

-

High school - 17 years old

It’s one of those rare days when you’re not coming home with Makki and Mattsun, dragging your tired body from the train station down the road.

You’ve cried more than enough already, yet your tears water again when Makki’s house comes into sight.

If only you hadn’t dropped that ball at that moment, had been a little faster that one time…

You know your mom’s waiting at home, food not quite ready yet, waiting to hear about the game.

But you can’t… you can’t…

The key is where it always is, hidden beneath the little wooden Tanuki at the front door.

The way up the stairs is so familiar you could do it in your sleep.

You slip into his bed and pull the covers over your head, smelling bubblegum and deodorant and a faint hint of sweat. It smells like Makki and you close your eyes, wishing you could shut out the tears just as easily as the light.

“Hey…” a warm hand on your shoulder wakes you. “You okay?”

You shake your head and he nods, slipping into bed with you.

“Do you want to continue Volleyball after High School?” Makki asks, arms slung around you. He’s like a monkey like that and you often wonder how he sleeps during training weeks. Does he sling himself around Mattsun or a pillow, does he dream of you or not?

“Not really, you?”

“Mhm, no. Winning is fun, but all that training would suck ass…”

You agree quietly, just a little noise in the back of your throat.

“So if you’re not going to continue playing anyway, it’s not that big of a deal, right?” He asks, “Just another blip in your life.”

“It’s not just another blip.”

“Remember how you bled so much you made a random guy puke?”

“Makki!” You howl, even louder when he bites into your shoulder.

But the pain soon subsides, turns into laughter that you can’t hold back.

“His face,” you remember, “He looked like he was going to pass out.”

“He’s ugly,” Makki howls and you press his hand, understanding finally why he keeps bringing up that joke.

Sometimes it’s best to laugh at your demons. They might not get smaller that way, but at least you have something to laugh at.

-

High school - 18 years

“Hanamaki-kun, I wanted to ask for your second button, oh…” The bright-eyed first-year stops in her tracks. The button is already missing.

She blushes a scarlet red, stuttering as she excuses herself.

“I don’t believe you,” Mattsun huffs, “You didn’t just wake up today, missing that button.”

“But I did,” Makki claims, “I swear, I’d never lie to you.”

“You always lie to me.”

“Name one time I lied to you.”

“When you told me your natural hair color was purple but it faded out over the summer.”

“Well, that’s on you, Mattsun. I can’t help you if you believe that of all things.”

“What did he believe this time?” You ask, walking over.

“Purple hair,” Makki points at his head. You scoff at Mattsun.

“I was six years old, okay?” He defends himself. “By the way, did you notice that Makki’s button is missing?” He points and you look.

“Nice,” you high-five Makki, “Who did you give it to.”

“I didn’t. Lost it at night. Some nightmare gremlin must have cut it off.”

“For real? Probably your mother who wants to curse you to stay home forever.”

“No, Mummy wouldn’t do such a thing.” He leans into you, trying to make you sway under his weight. It hasn’t worked in years but he keeps trying.

“How many buttons did you get?” Mattsun asks. “I saw Yamagata confessing to you in the hallway earlier.”

You pull a face.

“I don’t care if he’s no longer eating his snot, I’m not accepting a confession from him.”

“Why’s that?” Mattsun’s voice is saccharine sweet now and you narrow your eyes at him. You know what he wants to hear, but you’ve always been one to deny the things others want from you. Makki’s weight on you isn’t helping.

“If I say I don’t like someone, I’m not changing my mind on that.” You declare. Makki’s snickering above you, probably because he’s close to finally making you sway. You bite his bicep but he’s not moving away.

Mattsun rolls his eyes so hard it looks like he’s passing out.

-

College - 20 years

Your legs are flung over Makki’s and you’re so close to beating him when the door opens.

“Suck on that!” You yell as you swerve over the finish line, hitting his shoulder with your fist.

“Gladly,” he jokes, already choosing the next road as you look up.

“Oh, hi!” You wave at the guy standing in the doorway. “Are you looking for Mattsun? He’s in his room.”

“He said there’s a party going on tonight?” The guy asks. You try to place him, but your brain is failing you. He doesn’t look like he went to Seijoh, but Makki’s always been better at remembering faces.

“Yeah, for sure.” Makki declares. “Just a little later. You’re early. You can get yourself something to drink from the kitchen.”

“Cool.” He nods, walking over. He’s back in minutes, leaning over the backrest to watch, sipping whatever concoction he’s poured himself. “You two a thing?”

You don’t look up, too focused on beating Makki. You hate the rainbow road.

“Roommates,” Makki explains, his leg twitching under yours.

“Mortal enemies,” you declare, sticking out your tongue as you drift and push Makki off the road.

“Cool.” Couch-Guy leans in even further. “I’m Terushima by the way.”

-

Terushima finds you in the kitchen hours later. His eyes are glassy as he smiles at you and you wonder how many drinks he’s had.

You wouldn’t call yourself sober either, but you’d been so obsessed with beating Makki that you’re way behind on the others,

“What do you think?” Terushima flutters his eyelashes at you. “You and me? I could show you a good time.”

You swallow down a snort. He looks like he’s barely able to stand.

“Tell you what.” You point at your room down the hall. “Go lie down, I’m gonna be with you in a minute.”

“Awesome.”

You watch him stumble down the hall, how the door closes after him with a click. Seconds later Makki is leaning into you. He smells like bubblegum and the most disgusting brand of Tequila you’ve ever tasted.

“What are you doing?” He asks, snagging one side of the sandwich you’d been preparing.

“I sent the baby to bed.”

He snorts and you can feel his chin graze our shoulder as he peers over into the living room.

You steal a quick glance yourself. Some girl is trying her best in flirting with Mattsun who’s deep in an explanation about something that probably no one’s interested in.

The others are either drinking, singing, or snoring on the Couch and the floor.

Makki’s lips ghost over your bare shoulder.

“You’re sleeping in my room?” He asks, voice quiet as if anyone but you could hear him.

“Where else? My bed is already occupied.”

He pinches your hip, but he doesn’t move away, leaning heavy and warm against your back. You can feel his heartbeat like that, sluggish and slow and so well-known your heart beats in sync.

-

Work - 22 years

You’re sitting on Makki’s lap, or rather, in between his legs, playing on your phone as you wait for your stop.

There’s an older woman across from you who’s giving you the stink eye, but you don’t really care. It’s late, you’re both tired, and she can suck it.

“What do you want for dinner?” Makki asks, his head resting on top of yours.

“Rice.”

“We had rice yesterday.”

“Ramen?”

“Ugh.”

“You don’t have to cook if you don’t want to.”

He falls quiet.

You let him, knowing damn well that he’s going to say it when he’s ready for it.

He pulls you up at your stop, links his hand with yours as you walk out.

It’s so not him, you’re almost worried. At least until he stops right at the corner, pulling a coin out of his pocket.

There’s a gumball machine there, one that sells cheap jewelry next to the cheap sweats.

He puts the coin in, twists and pulls a little ball out, presenting it to you.

“You shouldn’t have,” you tease, pulling the ball apart. It’s a ring, the metal bendable to fit every size. The design is even worse, a gaudy heart, but you don’t care, pull his hand up and slip it on his finger.

“Will you marry me?” You whisper as dramatically as you can and something flickers over his face, gone and away before you can catch it. He laughs, softly, and leans forward to kiss your temple.

“Oh, aren’t you a sweet couple?”

You turn, surprised to see an older lady standing behind you, squinting up at you in the fading daylight.

“Actually,” Makki starts. You can’t help but finish.

“We’re siblings.” You tell her. “Separated at birth. We just found out.”

Her eyes widen.

“What lovely news!” She chokes out, clearly confused.

You nod and bow and move away, pulling Makki with you as you rush down the stairs, suddenly no longer tired.

-

“They cut my hours,” he tells you later.

You’re stretched out on his bed, trying to convince yourself to get up again and do his workout routine with him. But the bed is comfy and you’re tired.

“How much?” You ask.

“Might not be able to pay rent this month.”

“I’ll cover it,” you offer. His mouth pulls into a thin line.

“Seriously,” you pull yourself up until you’re sitting. “I’ll cover it. You pay for my food all the time anyway. I could move in here with you and we open up my room for someone else. It’s no big deal.”

He still looks… unsure. Insecure. Like he’s not sure what to say or what to feel.

“I’m your bodyguard,” you remind him, “Remember? How am I supposed to protect you when you sleep in a different room anyway?”

-

Mattsun looks like he wants to say something. Scratch that. He looks like he wants to say a lot.

“Another roommate?” He asks.

“Yeah.” You nod. “You know, it makes sense, I should have thought about it sooner. As his bodyguard-”

“Mortal enemy.”

“And mortal enemy, thank you, Makki,” you pat his hand like one would do with a child. “It’s my job to protect him. I have neglected that for far too long. I’m moving into his room. Going to keep an eye on him at all times.”

Mattsun sighs.

“You can’t just say it? That you’re a couple?”

Makki gasps. You fake gag.

“We’re like siblings, Mattsun!” Makki claims. “Please keep your incestuous tendencies to yourself.”

“Ship someone else, will you?” You ask and he groans, pinches his nose, and shakes his head.

“Whatever. I’m not… You’re going to be the death of me. You can go and find us a third roommate for all I care… By the way, Makki, are we still on for Friday?”

-

Work - 24 years

“I think Ishikawa still has a crush on him,” you whisper into Makki’s ear. You have no interest whatsoever in the movie playing and neither does he, if the hand rubbing messages into your thigh is any indication.

“She still has that pixie cut,” he reminds you.

“Yeah, but it suits her now.” You point out and he shakes his head from side to side as if he’s thinking about it.

“Could you guys stop talking?” Mattsun growls from where he’s sitting. Ishikawa is sitting close enough that her hair must be tickling his nose. If only he’d put his arm around her.

“Excuse me, but we’re having a serious discussion,” Makki claims, picking a piece of popcorn and throwing it in the air. “Catch.”

It misses your mouth by a mile, landing somewhere behind you on the floor.

“sh*t, again.” He picks another piece.

By the time the bowl is empty, Ishikawa and Mattsun are gone. You blink. The floor is covered in popcorn pieces and the movie has been over for quite some time if the flickering ad is telling you anything.

Makki picks up his phone from the table and squints at it.

“Mattsun took Ishikawa out for drinks.”

“Score.” You push him off the Couch. “Now come on, let’s get the vacuum.”

“Why do I have to?” He moans but gets up from the floor. “By the way, your hair looks pretty today.”

“What?” You look up from your own phone, your mind still halfway stuck in that email you just received.

“I said your hair looks sh*tty. What are you reading?”

“Apparently I got a promotion. Look.” You hand him your phone, pouring over the text together.

“Wow, sh*t, you’re going to earn so much more money,” he says, pulling you closer with his free hand. “How do you wanna celebrate?”

“I dunno, you decide.” You blink up at him. “I could treat you to that fancy hot pot place you mentioned last time.”

“Nah,” he shakes his head. “That’s stupid. What do you wanna do?”

“Well, it’s my money and I’m your bodyguard and I need to make sure you’re well-fed. So I guess Hot Pot it is.”

“You sure about that?” He follows you down the hallway to the closet where you keep the vacuum cleaner.

“Absolutely. What else would I do with my money? Buy you a diamond ring? Wait, do you want a diamond ring?”

“Please,” he huffs, “I only take Platin, you should know my style.”

-

Work - 26 years

“Oooh, look.” Makki pulls at Mattsun’s sleeve, dragging him to the left. “What do you think?”

Mattsun blinks. In front of him, behind thick glass, is a tray full of rings. Engagement rings.

“What do I think about what?”

“The rings, doofus. You’ve been dating Ishikawa for what, two years now?”

“1 year and eight months, okay. I’m nowhere near sure I’m going to marry her.”

“Still,” Makki pulls him through the door. “It’s good to do research. Thorough research.”

Mattsun rolls his eyes, digging his elbow into his friend's shoulder and navigating him to the left.

“Silver is less expensive.”

“Oi, since when are you a cheapskate?”

“Since gold turned expensive.”

They spend twenty minutes pouring over the options.

Mattsun has to admit, there are some pieces there that he wants to take a picture of, but he doesn’t, because it would be weird.

He watches his friend from the side, the way he takes in each ring.

It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking, if this is a joke or serious.

-

“So, when are you going to ask her?” He asks when they step outside again.

“Who?”

“You know who.”

“What am I asking?”

“If they marry you.”

“Why would I ask that?”

Mattsun groans in exasperation.

“Do you seriously find this funny? After all those years? Do you never just want to tell her that you love her or that she’s pretty or tell some weird dude that hits on her that she’s yours?”

“Oh, is that what you say to Ishikawa?” Makki asks, hands pushed into the pockets of his jacket.

“Yeah,” Mattsun says, “That’s what I tell her. Every day, if possible. Because it’s something she needs to hear. Because it’s true.”

Makki falters. He rubs the tip of his shoe over the asphalt under him, searching for a pebble to kick around.

“I don’t think she’d want to hear it. She’s not like… She’s not like Ishikawa, in that way. If she was, she’d tell me. She would have told me, you know.”

Mattsun sighs.

“Sorry. It’s your thing how you do it. If you’re both happy with it, continue being weird. It’s just hard to understand sometimes. But love you guys, you know that, right?”

“Yeah, you sap, I do.” Makki grins back at him.

His eyes fall to the watch above them and they widen.

“sh*t, I’m late for work.”

-

“Hey,” Makki’s back way too early.

“Hey,” he mumbles, slipping into the chair next to you. “When did you get home?”

“An hour ago. Got all the Argentinian stuff for the match next month. Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” He closes his eyes and leans back in his chair, away from you, yet his hands reach out. You take his left and press it.

“You sure?” You ask.

He nods.

Silence falls over you. It’s hard to continue typing with only your left hand, but you’re not willing to let go of his.

Eventually, he opens his eyes again.

“I got fired today.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah.”

Another beat of Silence.

“You wanna take a holiday?” You ask, closing your notebook for a moment to look at him. “We could drive to the beach for a weekend.”

“I wanted to buy you a ring.”

“Mhm,” you reach out and rub your thumb over his cheek. “Already bought me one. How many rings do you think I need?”

“How many fingers do you have?”

You wait for him to continue, but he falls silent again.

“Did you want to keep working there?” You ask. He shakes his head. “So if you didn’t want to keep working there, it’s not that big of a deal, right?” You ask, hoping he remembers a similar conversation when the roles were reversed. “Just another blip in your life.”

“It’s not just another blip.” He says and you can see some light returning to his eyes.

“Mhm,” you say, “Remember when Yasuda called you ugly in kindergarten?”

“Yeah,” he chuckles.

“I always thought you were very pretty.” He stills, his eyes flickering over your face.

“Really?”

“Really. Also, I love you.”

He grins. “I knew it. Called it when you tried to pee on me in elementary school.”

“I’m your bodyguard,” you remind him, “Your mortal enemy. Now, do you wanna go to the beach for the weekend or do you wanna stay in bed all day and play Mario Kart?”

Makki takes his sweet time to decide.

“Can we do both?” He asks eventually. “Play Mario Kart at the Beach?”

“So demanding,” you joke, leaning forward to kiss him.

-

There’s a ring packed in your things when you leave the city for the weekend.

It’s not Platin and not silver either, bought at the gumball machine with a few coins.

It will do for now.

“I could be your Navigator,” Makki offers as he looks up routes on his phone. “How much are you paying per hour?”

“Ah, not enough to be able to afford you,” you joke easily. “But I am looking for a housewife.”

“No way,” he gasps, eyes widening. “That’s exactly the job I was looking for. I make a fantastic sandwich.”

“Hired,” you offer him your hand. He takes it.

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