Chapter 1: ugly freckles
trigger warning: slight mention of self-harm
The captain of the Karasuno boy’s volleyball team wore a fake smile as he shook the Nekoma captain’s hand.
“You guys did great! You were so close!” Lev Haiba’s emerald green eyes glittered with an innocent purity.
“Thanks, you deserved that win!” Yamaguchi was sure his eyes looked as dead and lifeless as ever compared to Lev’s.
When Yamaguchi bowed with his team, he felt extremely nauseous. He just wanted to let his body slump to the floor and just lie there forever.
The roars and cheers from the crowd that weren’t meant for Karasuno just made Yamaguchi even more sicker to his stomach. If Yamaguchi didn’t escape the whirlwind of loud noises and forced small talk and kind gestures soon, he would definitely get sick right in front of everyone.
Yamaguchi bolted out to the changing rooms with a bat of an eyelash as soon as the closing ceremony came to an end. He didn’t even stop himself to pay any attention to Hinata, who was running over to him to embrace him in a big, pitying hug.
‘Sorry, Hinata…’ Yamaguchi mumbled under his breath.
Ignoring the small, yet positive and radiant boy only made him feel worse. He already ruined the morale and spirits of his team members, and now he was stomping at their sincere and sympathetic feelings into the ground like dirt.
Yamaguchi was halfway through the halls when he had just happened to pass by a group of people who were whispering his name.
He couldn’t decide whether to eavesdrop, or let his anxiety take the best of him and keep running.
Despite how quick his heartbeat was and how panicked he felt, Yamaguchi shied away in a corner and decided to listen in.
Just at the slightest mention of his name again, his ears and cheeks started to redden. He leaned in closer to hear what they were saying with more clarity.
“Ever since freckles became captain, Karasuno sucks now!! I feel embarrassed just watchin’ them scatter like sheep.” A schoolgirl spat with a rough villager’s accent and ran her fingers through the tips of her hair, creating two braids.
“Wha?? Freckles??” A bored schoolgirl fiddled with the bow on her uniform.
“She’s talking about Tadashi. Y’know, Karasuno’s new captain this year.” Another schoolgirl piped up, just as bored as the one sitting next to her. She munched on a handful of chewy gummies.
“Ew. He’s not cute.” “Hey. Give me some of those.”
‘I knew this was a bad idea….’ Yamaguchi felt his heart drop to his feet.
It hurt him to keep listening, but a lingering curiosity for what the girls thought about him made Yamaguchi stay anyway.
The young girl with braids continued to gossip. “His freckles look like a disease. It’s gross.”
“Right? I mean if you’re going to be a shitty captain, ya gotta at least have something nice to stare at.”
Laughter followed the rude remarks.
He couldn’t take anymore of the insults, he felt their loud and piercing laughs make his head spin. The tears in his eyes flew past him as he quickly darted for the changing rooms. He hit his arm against a locker with a thud, and slouched down into the ground.
He glared at the ugly and repulsive freckles on his bruised arm.
“Stupid freckles.” He mumbled as he threw his head back.
He had his eyes closed only for a moment when he suddenly sensed movement near him.
‘Oh no...please don’t come near me...not like this…” He thought to himself.
Yamaguchi was terrified to look at who was standing over him, they were probably tearing apart at him with all their judgement!
The person standing near him was as quiet as a mouse, and didn’t say a word. After a long moment of silence, Yamaguchi fluttered his eyes open slowly and cautiously, assuming that they were gone.
But they weren’t.
When Yamaguchi looked up, he saw the refreshing, and practically angelic sight of
a lanky and blond middle blocker from Karasuno’s volleyball team. He towered over him and then let out his arm, waiting for Yamaguchi to hold it.
Yamaguchi let out a gasp from the surprise of seeing him. He then sighed in relief for that it was a Karasuno boy, and not a mean schoolboy from the opposing team.
Even though he was full of bliss to see the boy standing over him, Yamaguchi felt a pang of guilt in his heart.
“How did you know I was here?”
“Hmm… just a boyfriend’s intuition, I guess.” The boy ran his pale, slender fingers through his blond and slightly curly waves of hair.
Boyfriend. Yamaguchi was lovingly gazing at was his boyfriend. And he loved him very much.
Hearing him say that simple word brought on a flutter of butterflies in Yamaguchi’s tummy.
“A-are you mad at me?” Yamaguchi asked with a soft and quivering voice.
He slumped down next to him when he saw that Yamaguchi wasn’t taking his hand, and that Yamaguchi wanted to curl up in a ball in his own self pity in a smelly locker room instead.
“I don’t have anything to be mad at you for.”
“But…. I lost-” Yamaguchi’s voice grew louder and frustrated. Why wasn’t he mad?! Yamaguchi lost the game after all, he had every right to be scolded and insulted. How could the boy next to him keep such tranquility and indifference in one of the most embarrassing moments the team ever had?
“I don’t care if we lost, it couldn’t be helped.”
“It’s not something worth beating yourself up over.” He added, cleaning his vintage, black framed glasses with his volleyball tee.
“Tsukki, you’re completely missing the point!” Yamaguchi whined.
“This was the preliminaries for the nationals! How can you just let it fly over your head?! We finally picked ourselves up off the ground from years of losing and now I ruined our chances..”
“Just when we were about to soar and win, I plucked all of our wings!”
He sunk his head down lower to his knees, avoiding Tsukki’s gaze.
“Oh.” Tsukki’s voice almost immediately diminished.
After a lingering silence, he decided to talk again after making sure he understood Yamaguchi’s feelings.
“Did you try your best?”
“Of course I did!” Yamaguchi growled.
“Then, you should be proud. We were very close to winning two sets. Three points away, actually.”
“Exactly! We were so close!” He grew impatient and annoyed with what Tsukki was saying. Stating the obvious to him only was a stab at Yamaguchi’s heart.
But just a few little words that Tsukki shyly spoke healed those wounds.
“Well, I’m proud of you.”
“Really?” Hearing how quietly his sweetheart was talking after raising his voice at him gave Yamaguchi an indescribable guilt. Tsukki was trying to help out after all, and he never gave kind and encouraging words like these to nobody else but him.
“Yeah.” From the corner of his eyes, he could see Tsukki’s lips curl up into a half-smile.
Yamaguchi raised his head and grinned bashfully, still staring down at his ivory Adidas sneakers.
“Thank you, Tsukki.” Yamaguchi shuffled closer to his favorite person and gently nestled up against him. He loved how warm Tsukki was, and his scent; the perfect blend of sweat and strawberries and cream.
A drowsy and sleepy Yamaguchi was seconds away from snoozing on Tsukki’s shoulder when the sudden sounds of thunderclaps and raindrops crashing against the window jolted him awake.
“And I even left my jacket at home too...” Yamaguchi murmured.
Without a second thought, Tsukki immediately stripped off his jacket and wrapped it gently around Yamaguchi’s torso, as if it were giving him a hug.
“Just put it on. I’ve weathered through more stormy days than you have. Tokyo’s rain can’t compare to Preston’s and Manchester’s.”
Yamaguchi nodded, mesmerized by his boyfriend’s voice. He adored how just for a bit, Tsukki’s authentic English accent shone through when he was pronouncing the names of the British cities.
Yamaguchi snuggled himself in the black volleyball jacket. It was a size too large and hung low to his knees, but he felt extremely comfy. After giving his sweet Tsukki a kiss on his cheek, he made his way towards the door.
Before leaving, he looked back at Tsukki with the most radiant and bright smile he could muster.
“I love you Tsukki, see you tomorrow!” Yamaguchi waved as he shut the door.
Yamaguchi’s faux facial expression could’ve fooled anyone, his positive aura was visible no matter what the situation.
The only one who never fell for the illusion was his own boyfriend. He stared Yamaguchi down and watched him walk off down the halls until he was just a tiny, blurry dot in his vision.
Tsukki could see right through his facade like glass through a window.
Tsukki knew Yamaguchi was still anything but happy.
And if Tsukki didn’t rush to his house soon enough, he knew that Yamaguchi would try to hurt himself.
Chapter 2: tender love
The bouquet of hot, freshly baked fries he held felt like a breath of fresh air against his face. If it weren’t for the fact that the french fries were for his love, Tsukki would munch them all down in an instant. He looked down at his other hand, which held a cool colored floral bouquet assorted with Yamaguchi’s favorite flowers: Baby’s breath and Tulips.
He ignored every single thought in his head except the words ‘I hope Yamaguchi is okay.’
When Tsukki walked up the doorsteps and politely knocked, He was excited to give him a sweet surprise, but he didn’t expect the surprise Yamaguchi gave him when the door was opened.
His volleyball captain boyfriend was stripped down to nothing but one of Tsukki’s own sweaters.
He widened his eyes in surprise and blinked many times to assure that his poor eyesight wasn’t playing tricks on him.
“Is…is that the sweater I wore when I came over here last time??”
Yamaguchi shamelessly nodded, twirling around in the pastel blue knit sweater. He looked like a tiny doll whenever he wore his sweaters.
“Y-You… kept it?”
He nodded again, this time covering up his giggles with his sweater paws.
Tsukki let out a defeated sigh. “I’m never going to get that back, am I?”
Yamaguchi nodded, shaking his head left and right.
Tsukki cozied up close on the warm futon next to his darling. They only half paid attention to a cheesy J-drama on the TV that served as background noise along with the evening rain for their lovely and romantic time tonight.
“Aww Tsukki, th fries are so yummy! You’re so sweet for buying them for me!” Yamaguchi’s words were barely comprehensible as he munched on several soft floppy fries at once.
“Eat first, then talk.”
“Sorry Tsukki!” His chubby cheeks were fuller when he smiled and ate at the same time.
“Geez.. what did I say..”
Tsukki rested his face on the palm of his hand as he fixated on Yamaguchi.
He was especially cute in this moment. His chocolate coloured almond shaped eyes were glittering with joy, and the messy drops of ketchup on his button nose and cheeks made him look precious in a childlike way.
Tsukki sighed and wiped off the ketchup from his face, but when he looked down at the napkin, he saw unusual tan streaks along with the ketchup stains.
Curious, he wiped at Yamaguchi’s cheeks again. More blotches appeared.
“Yamaguchi…” Tsukki felt his heart sink when he realized what was coming off of his skin.
With quick swipes, he tried to remove all of the colour from his face.
“H-Hey!” Yamaguchi dropped the fries from his hands and tried to flick the napkin away from his face. “What are you-”
“Why are you covering up your freckles with concealer?”
Yamaguchi was at a loss for words. No sound came out of his lips, and no emotion besides an embarrassed blush on his cheeks was present.
He only moved to drop his arms down onto the futon and fold them. He sank his head into his pillow, tears suddenly streaming down his eyes and dripping across his crossed arms.
Tsukki’s head and heart started to pound rapidly. He absolutely hated himself for making Yamaguchi cry. He was here to comfort his boyfriend with delicious snacks, flowers, and kisses, but he only destroyed what was a fuzzy and blissful mood.
Tsukki slowly outstretched his hands and relaxed his tense fingers to run them through Yamaguchi’s silky olive green hair. He pet him slowly and hesitantly to avoid making him weep even more.
He leaned in closer to whisper a heartfelt apology, but Yamaguchi already cried out the words that were on Tsukki’s mind.
“Tsukki... I’m so sorry.. I know I promised you that I wouldn’t cover up my freckles anymore..” He sobbed roughly between his sentences with panicked and unsteady breathing.
“I’m not mad, I just want to know why. Do you want to tell me?” Tsukki carefully mapped out his response, fearing that his boyfriend would spiral into an anxiety attack at any moment.
“Tsukki…” Yamaguchi started with a shaky and mousy voice. “Am I ugly?”
Hearing him ask that question started to make Tsukki’s blood boil. He could already feel his cheeks and ears turn a bright, hot red. Yamaguchi has always asked him this after he had been made fun of or insulted. Who would’ve dared to ridicule Yamaguchi’s adorable and soft looks? He wanted to slap anyone who falsely believed that Yamaguchi looked anywhere near ugly!
Tsukki wished to pull Yamaguchi close, plant a kiss on his sweet glossy lips, and tell him that he was the prettiest angel he had ever seen, and that he wasn’t himself without his beautiful freckles on his soft baby face, his glowing tan complexion, eyes full of expression and light, and his heavenly smile.
But instead of embarrassing himself, he decided to ease Yamaguchi’s thoughts with a kiss on his nose.
“You ask me this a lot, you know.”
“I know..” Yamaguchi let out a sheepish laugh.
“And what’s my answer, every single time?”
“You ask me why I think I’m ugly.”
“Exactly. I want you to answer that again, if you don’t mind.”
“I…. I think my freckles look like a disease…” Yamaguchi self-consciously veiled his flushed and freckled face with his hands.
“Do you really think so?” Tsukki swept Yamaguchi’s cover-up out of the way and planted two gentle kisses; one for each of the fronts of his hands.
“Or, is it someone else that’s making you believe it?” Tsukki added, lacing his fingers through both of his hands and holding them tenderly.
“Well.. some pretty girls said things about me..”
“What did they say?” Tsukki raised his eyebrow, but it wasn’t visible through his long and wavy blond bangs.
“They all laughed when one the prettiest girls there said that my freckles looked like a disease. And, they said a bunch of mean things about how I wasn’t cute and how bad I was at volleyball.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that when we were still over there? I could’ve done-” Frustration and a hint of apprehension were starting to peek out through Tsukki’s voice.
Yamaguchi giggled and interrupted him by sealing a light kiss on Tsukki’s rosy lips.
“Tsukki, you know you can’t be scaring other people off all the time~ You have to be nice!”
He playfully twirled the golden strands of hair in front of Tsukki’s face and swept them away to reveal more of his big and beautiful amber coloured eyes. He absolutely adored how pretty his oval shaped eyes were, and wished he wouldn’t hide them as often.
“And,” Yamaguchi added. “You have to cut your bangs.” He ran his fingers through his bangs once more, fluffing and swishing the locks of hair around.
Tsukki relaxed his tense posture and slumped back down on the pillow.
“Well, you have to start loving yourself. There’s lots to love about you.” Tsukki grumbled.
A strawberry red blush spread across Yamaguchi’s face.
“...Really?” “What?” His lips formed into a shy smile and his eyes lit up with a positive curiosity.
“I’ll show you.” Tsukki wiped off the remainder of the concealer that hid Yamaguchi’s lovely, natural light caramel colored complexion. For just a moment, there was a dimpled grin on Tsukki’s face.
Yamaguchi didn’t expect him to come close. So close, Yamaguchi could hear his relaxing heartbeat. Yamaguchi’s pulse resonated with Tsukki’s, and he soon started to feel a tingly and fuzzy comfort all throughout his body as his sweetheart kissed every single one of the freckles on his face.
“I love you, Tsukki.” He repeated these same puppy loving words over and over.
Tsukki lifted himself off of Yamaguchi’s body mid-kiss to express his embarrassment for the captain’s I love you’s.
“Aww, Tsukki! Your cheeks are redder than a cherry’s!” Yamaguchi joked, pulling Tsukki back down by his cheeks for more of his kisses.
“W-well, yours are red t-too.” He piped up defensively and covered his mouth bashfully.
“You know, when you’re blushing, your red face and the spotting of your freckles remind me of a strawberry.” Tsukki cupped Yamaguchi’s face gently and squished his cheeks ever so slightly.
“And I really love strawberries.” He smirked. Tsukki was aiming kisses at other places on Yamaguchi’s face and body, like his forehead, his monolids, his neck, and his collarbones.
While Tsukki was planting his soft lips all over Yamaguchi’s upper torso and leaving the faintest of bruises and love marks, Yamaguchi started to chat.
“Tsukki, do I even deserve to be the captain of Karasuno?”
“Of course, you practiced very hard for it.“ His voice was breathy and steamy.
“But everyone else has better strength and power than I do.” “I watched the really good serves that Tobio-”
Right when the word ‘Tobio’ slipped out, Tsukki expressed his jealousy for Yamaguchi praising the boy he despised by placing a spontaneous kiss on Yamaguchi’s mouth to quiet him. Their lips were soon locked, Yamaguchi already forgetting what he was about to say. He was only able to keep his focus on the deep and passionate feeling of Tsukki’s lips on his. Yamaguchi was so full of love, he could melt. Tsukki adored every part of him, from head to toe. His kisses made even the most insignificant of patch of skin on him important and loved.
However, the affection also made Yamaguchi feel sleepy. He was exhausted from the intensity of the match and having his mind constantly spin with negative thoughts. All he wanted to do was to lie with nobody else but Tsukki on the cozy futon and nap.
Tsukki noticed that his boyfriend was slowly falling asleep, and watched Yamaguchi’s long and luscious lashes rest on his eyelids.
“Are you tired?” He brushed the strands of Yamaguchi’s long hair away from his face. He found it funny that the cute boy with hair longer than Tsukki’s, hair that fell to his neck and could be wrapped in a bun was the one telling Tsukki that he needed a trim.
“Mmm…” Yamaguchi nodded. His eyes futtered open and closed, trying to fight the drowsy spell cast upon him.
“I’ll stay over tonight. Let’s go to sleep, okay darling?”
“Okay honey….” Yamaguchi mumbled. Two years into their loving relationship and they already started to sound like a married couple.
“Do you want Strawberry Shortcake?” Tsukki was about to stand himself up off the futon and look for the huge pink teddy bear in his bag. He used to cuddle it when he was a baby and eventually outgrew the stuffed animal, but he let Yamaguchi hold it whenever he needed it for his anxiety.
“Mm-mm. I feel much better thanks to you, Tsukki.” The corners of his lips perked up to a sleepy smile.
“I already have a teddy bear to cuddle anyways, and he’s sweeter than strawberries and cake.”
“Really? Where is it?”
Yamaguchi started to giggle.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re so silly, Tsukki...”
Tsukki opened his mouth to tell him how confused he was, but shut up immediately when he heard Yamaguchi’s next words.
“... Or should I say… teddy bear!” He squealed happily, and let his body fall on Tsukki’s.
Tsukki felt flustered with an adorable boy resting on top of him so suddenly. He hid the blush that rapidly spread across his whole face with his hand.
“I still don’t get why you keep calling me that, I’m nothing like a teddy bear.” He sighed quietly into his pillow.
“Yes you are! You’re sweet, cuddly, and caring like a teddy bear!” Yamaguchi wrapped his arms around Tsukki’s skinny hips and hugged them tight.
The blond boy pouted. “Well, it’s embarrassing. You call me that around the team too, and everyone teases me with that nickname now.”
“Aww, Tsukki. It’s a cute nickname!” With a quick lift of Tsukki’s dinosaur patterned nightshirt, he planted soft kisses on his pale tummy.
“But, I’m not cute. It doesn’t fit me at all-Hahahaha!” The sensation of the angelic kisses on his skin caused him to break his seriousness and laugh. The slightest touches anywhere on Tsukki made him ticklish.
Yamaguchi laughed along with his sweetheart as he moved on from kisses to tickling his waist with his fingers. Tsukki laughed harder, covering his flustered face with both his hands.
When he drew back, Yamaguchi’s and Tsukki’s complexions were streaked with hues of blush pinks and reds. Their breaths were heavy, warm, and tired from all the laughing they had just done. Yamaguchi dropped his head back down, resting comfortably on Tsukki. He happily sighed and rubbed his cheeks against him.
“I… think..” Yamaguchi panted. “Being my teddy bear fits you better than your favourite sweater.” His lips curled up into a smile as he tugged on the sweater he stole from Tsukki.
If Tsukki weren’t exhausted, he would’ve smiled along with Yamaguchi’s teasing and steal a kiss from him to make up for the stolen sweater.
He decided that there was already enough kissing and touching for the night, and all that was left to finish off the lovely day was to settle themselves in a long, cuddly catnap.
He grazed the messy locks of Yamaguchi’s hair gently and playfully rustled it up. Running throughout his mind were all the positive and mushy things he thought about the captain’s affection. His parents’ love couldn’t even compare to the bubbly and exciting way Yamaguchi made him feel. He was the only one Tsukki could comfortably shower with kisses and adoration, and he was the only one he wanted to give all his love to. He usually never shared these feelings to Yamaguchi in fear of sounding too lovey dovey and crummy, but he figured that Yamaguchi needed the self-esteem boosting anyway.
“I still don’t think I’m anywhere near a teddy bear, and I still don’t really love the nickname, but…” He quieted his voice. “...I think beings yours does fit me better than my favourite sweater. I can’t imagine myself with anyone else but you-” He was abruptly cut off by a loud, bear-like snoring. Tsukki stifled a laugh as he looked down at Yamaguchi, who was unaware of what Tsukki said and was snoring away in his own dreams.
‘And I didn’t even get to say goodnight…’ Tsukki thought sadly to himself.
He was relieved that Yamaguchi wasn’t awake to embarrass him about sounding gushy, but he couldn’t but feel a bit low-spirited because a small part of him had hoped that Yamaguchi could’ve listened, and Tsukki had wished that Yamaguchi would’ve gone to sleep feeling even better about himself. Tsukki eventually drifted off to sleep, feeling a little down, but hopeful to start off his boyfriend’s morning with positive and encouraging kisses and hugs. He fell into a snooze thinking that Yamaguchi had completely ignored what he had said.
In Yamaguchi’s dream, he envisioned Tsukki covering Yamaguchi from head-to-toe in kisses, hickies, and his honest feelings. He couldn’t be more ecstatic to hear about Tsukki’s deep and passionate thoughts about him, and kept a smile on his face while he slept. He awaited sunrise, so Yamaguchi could wake up to seeing his darling’s beautiful and blushing face and tease Tsukki about what he had said the night before.