Tsukishima walked the four blocks to the corner of an apartment building, and waited patiently for Yamaguchi. His best friend since grade three. Yamaguchi was the only one who got his sense of humor, understood that under all that sarcasm was a brain that didn't stop turning and thinking. He started walking towards the train station before he realized that the freckled face brunette was beside him.
"Yams," he whispered mostly to himself.
The brunette smiled up at him, the conversation between them was simple. A comment about the math class here, a quick debate over a science fact there. As the train station came to view, the pair could see Narita just ahead of them; Suga and Hinata were already there.
The blonde tilted his head to the side as he saw the way Hinata had folded in on himself. He slowed his steps, Yamaguchi automatically followed suit.
"What's up Tsukki?"
"Hinata? He's right there with Suga."
"I think Hinata is having some type of problem." Kei knew that he was observant, but often it was the nuances of relationships that he missed. That's were he relied on Yamaguchi. He saw what was going on, but Tadashi listened to the conversations and gossip.
"I wonder if it has something to do with Kageyama dating Shin?"
"You think Hinata had a crush on the King? Hmmm." They had reached the rest of the group so there was no chance for any further conversation on the matter. Not that Tsukishima cared too much one way or the other, but he hated having others listen to his conversations and he sure didn't want the little red headed idiot thinking that he was interesting or anything.
Sitting by the window on the train, Tsukishima watched as Yamaguchi pulled out a novel to read, so he settled his headphones over his ears and listened to the eclectic playlist he had ready. Neither of them moved until they arrived at the Tokyo station.
The Fukurodani setter led them to the school where he told them about the sleeping arrangements. Finding out they were going to be separated had his head whipping around to look at Yamaguchi. A raised brow was all he needed to convey the question in his head.
Yamaguchi nodded. Tadashi knew his best friend was worried about him, but he'd be fine. Tsukishima and Tadashi's own parents had worked hard to make sure that he would be fine.
They walked down the hall, Akaashi giving out the room assignments. Suga was staying with Yaku, the Nekoma libero. Narita was bunking with the Nekoma first year Inuoka. It was the next three room assignments that had him curious. Yamaguchi was in with the Nekoma captain Kuroo and he was next door with Onaga, a Fukurodani first year. Hinata was staying with Akaashi. He watched as Hinata followed the second year setter, practically asleep on his feet. The moron would be up at the crack of dawn ready for a run.
From the corner of his eye he saw the door beside him open and Kuroo's wild hair peek out. "Come in. Come in. Welcome to Bokuto's humble abode."
Yamaguchi disappeared inside, his right hand in his pocket, clutching the phone Tsukki knew was inside.
Heaving a sigh, he knocked on the door in front of him. A dark haired teen opened it. "Hello, I'm Kei Tsukishima, from Karasuno."
The door opened further, giving him room to enter. "Wataru Onaga, of Fukurodani. This is my dorm room, come in and be welcome."
"My roommate is on the basketball team and they're away at a training camp too. The bathroom is down the hall three doors, on the opposite side of the hall."
Tsukishima nodded, grabbed his wash bag and head out. A quick shower and brushing of his teeth and he was almost ready for sleep. Narita was leaving the bathroom as he walked in and Suga was just getting out of the shower. The other two would surely be there soon and morning was early enough to talk to Yamaguchi about being bunked with Kuroo.
Back in the dorm he set his alarm on his phone and laid down.
"I'm an early riser. I like to run in the morning if you want to join me?" Onaga was trying to be friendly.
"Sorry, Onaga, I'm not much of a runner." He thought quickly, Hinata would be up first thing. "But Hinata, who is rooming with Akaashi is and chances are he'll be up early anyway."
"Alright I'll check with him. Breakfast is in the cafeteria from 7-8. Did you see the building coming in?" At Tsukishima's nod he continued, "there should be plenty of others there so you won't get turned around going to the gym. If you have any questions just ask."
"Thank you again Onaga."
Morning came quickly and when he awoke, Tsukishima was alone. There was a note propped up on the desk from Onaga reminding him that he had gone running and the giving directions to the cafeteria. Kei smiled, Onaga really was a nice guy. He most likely did the same thing for his roommate all the time. In that aspect he reminded him of Tadashi.
Walking into the cafeteria he spotted his best friend sitting with a couple of others. Suga was with Akaashi and the coaches. Filling a plate he sat down.
"Hey Tsukki, how'd you sleep?" Yamaguchi asked.
Tsukishima just shrugged and started eating.
It was in the middle of practice the second day that Tsukishima noticed the way Kuroo looked at Yamaguchi. He also saw how Akaashi looked at Hinata. The difference being that Yamaguchi knew he was being watched while Hinata was completely clueless as usual.
Wiping his face with a towel, Tsukki eyed his best friend. "Yes or no?" There was no explaination. None was needed between the pair.
"No," Tadashi whispered.
"Me or you?" Sharp eyes looked for the Nekoma captain, ready to do whatever it took to protect his friend.
"Me," the timidness really wasn't all that surprising. "I'm going to talk to him today before supper. If. If. If I have any problems-"
"Do you want to switch room arrangements? I can talk to Akaashi."
The two of them went back to drills. Tsukishima couldn't help it. He glared every time he faced the Nekoma captain. He take a measure of what Yamaguchi was like in the morning before making a move. He had ways of making life miserable without the use of violence. Sarcasm worked wonders.
By supper time Tsukki was ready to beat somebody senseless. If one more person asked him about Hinata and Kageyama he was not going to be held responsible. It sure as hell didn't help matters that he walked into the cafeteria to see Kuroo cornering Yamaguchi. He didn't even realize he was growling until Suga held him by the shoulders.
"Let's go Tsukishima, we need to get you out of here." He nodded to Narita who stood in front of the tall blonde and forcefully walked him out of the cafeteria. "The last thing we need is for you to create a scene. That won't help anyone."
"Yama-" He couldn't say any more between clenched teeth.
"I've got it. I'll go and sit with him, ok?" Narita wasn't sure what was going on, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that Tsukishima's melt down centered around the other first year. "I'll stay with him. He won't be left alone with anyone but our team. Does that work?"
Tsukishima nodded and watched as the second year turned around and went right back inside the cafeteria. He couldn't go back in there, not with the way he was feeling. Moving away from Suga he hit his head against the wall. The way HE was feeling? What type of egotistical bullshit was he trying to feed himself. His feelings were secondary, everything was secondary next to what Tadashi was going through. Was he scared, nervous? Could he let Kuroo know that his advances were unwelcome? Were they unwelcome? He knew that Yamaguchi considered himself either bi or asexual depending on his frame of mind, but even he had to admit that the Nekoma captain was good looking.
"Let's walk." Suga's voice may have been calm, but the hold on his arm was anything but gentle.
It seemed like he was going for a walk whether he needed it to not. Tsukki let himself be led to the running track.
"Alright, now do you want to explain to me why I needed to pull you out of the cafeteria after you started growling at a senior? I can expect that kind of shit from both Noya and Tanaka, but I never thought you would be one I would need to worry about."
"Sorry sir, I guess I'm a little out of sorts today."
"Tsukishima, what is going on?" Suga wasn't going to leave it alone. He was getting frustrated because all the blonde did was apologize for causing a problem for the last ten minutes. He leaned against the fence with his head in his hands. It was times like these, Suga wished he was more like Daichi.
"He won't say anything, because he's protecting me." The timid voice came up from behind the pair.
"Yammy!?" Kei turned to see his best friend with Kuroo. The growl started again.
"Kei, it's fine. I asked him to come." Tadashi reached out to touch his best friends arm. "It's just the four of us here. Kuroo's going to want a reason for me turning him down and I would like to have someone else on the team with knowledge in case something like this happens again."
Kuroo cleared his throat, "Yamaguchi, there is no explanation needed. If you're not interested, you're not interested. I won't do anything to push you. If you happen to change you're mind though....." He tried to end things with a little smirk. The last thing he wanted was to get a reputation for forcing himself on someone else.
"Thanks, but.." Tadashi took a deep breath, "you deserve to know. Tsukki and I have been friends forever, but things were kind of weird for us the first year of middle school. Tsukki had- family issues."
"My parents were getting a divorce and instead of shuffling me back and forth, having me listen to them fight, Mom sent me to live with my brother. Akiteru was going to University so I stayed with him." Tsukishima's voice was flat, he hated telling others about himself.
"Anyway," Tadashi didn't like forcing Kei to reveal his family pain either, "I was lonely and in the right mind frame to be suckered in. A classmate started paying attention to me and before I knew it she was controlling the majority of my life. There was no sexual abuse, " Tadashi could see the relief on the faces of both seniors, "but I was controlled none the less. There was a lot of verbal abuse, degrading comments, bullying and the like. Only occasionally did things get physical. When Kei came back I was a complete puppet. It took a lot of work from my parents and Kei to turn me around." He really didn't want to finish, but Suga needed to understand why Tsukki was so protective. "Even years later I often find myself falling in to the same pattern of deferring to a stronger personality. Tsukki noticed the way Kuroo was watching me yesterday and he asked if I was interested. I said no, but that I would talk to Kuroo. Tonight he walked in to see me sitting in a corner, with Kuroo crowding me, and I'm sure I looked panicked. His thought was to protect me."
"Damn little man." Kuroo ran a hand through his already messy hair. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to make you feel that way. I think you're pretty cute and I want to get to know you better. Dating can be on the table or not, no pressure. A person can always use more friends."
Suga took a deep breath, life on this team was never dull. The vibrating in his pocket had him smiling, Tanaka somehow always knew just when he was needed. Rubbing his thumb over his phone, Suga remembered that everyone has demons and they deal with them in their own way. "Alright, so let's see if we can get Tsukishima some food brought to his room. I don't think you are up to being around everyone right now. Kuroo, can I trust that you'll look after that for me. I want to talk to these two a little more."
Kuroo grinned, "alright, I'll meet you guys up in the lounge." walking away he turned and looked over his shoulder, "just so you know, I heard nothing tonight" he continued on, whistling the entire way.
Tsukishima growled again, as Suga sighed, "that guy. I'm not always sure just how to take him." Turning to look at the two first years he smiled, "ok, so first off. Yamaguchi, do you feel comfortable in Kuroo's room or do you want to switch? It won't be with Kei, but maybe I can see if I can pull rank and have you in my room with me and I'll ask Yaku if he would mind bunking with Kuroo."
Tadashi took a moment to really think about it, "you know I think I'll be ok with Kuroo. Something tells me that I just gained a friend."
"You may be right," Suga smiled. He had a feeling that Kuroo was going to become another protector for the timid first year. Something about the way Kuroo treated Kenma told him that he had experience with something similar. "Tsukishima?"
"I'll be fine. Again I apologize for stepping out of line. I think it was knowing that Kuroo was flirting and Tadashi wasn't interested along with all the blasted questions about the King and Shrimpy."
Suga smiled, that would push anyone's buttons, especially since the tall first year wasn't close with either Kageyama or Hinata.
It was on the third day that he overheard Suga and Akaashi talk about Hinata. So the Fukurodani second year was going to ask their idiot out. Hinata was just as naive as Tadashi was. Tsukishima clenched his fists. No one was going to take advantage of another if he could help it. Maybe he was reacting a little more emotionally as he blocked the next couple of Kuroo's spikes viciously.
"I'm going to talk to Hinata tomorrow."
Tadashi looked up from where he was putting away the equipment, "really why?"
Tsukki pushed up his glasses needlessly, "Akaashi asked him out."
With the Hinata and Akaashi rooming together, Yamaguchi knew that all Tsukki could see was the past repeating itself. "Well your best bet would be to corner him as he goes running in the morning. He won't be able to avoid you then. Do you want me to join you?"
Tsukishima groaned. He hated getting up early. He shook his head, if Tadashi joined him, he wouldn't be able to stop the sarcastic comments.
Yamaguchi stood beside his best friend as everyone got ready for the first set of games the next day. Kei had come to breakfast late and just before Hinata so Yamaguchi knew the pair had gone running, "So, how'd talking to Hinata go?" Tadashi knew why Kei was worried about the little red head.
"It was futile. The shrimp is so worried about people finding out that he's gay, that he can't think beyond that."
"It's a valid point Tsukki," the honesty in his voice had the tall blonde looking at him. "Think about it," Tadashi continued, "Hinata has most likely had to put up with teasing about his height and hair colour all his life. We both know just how mean kids can be. I'm sure the idiot has been beaten up time and again. If some of the kids at school found out he was gay that would just be one more point against him."
Tsukishima walked into the gym, his mind on everything that Yamaguchi had just said. Tying his shoes and pulled up his knee pads. Had he been too hard on Hinata? It might be better to go and talk to Akaashi instead. At least he wasn't as prone to freaking out when confronted.
The practice went on. The three teams mixed it up. Learning from each other. How to receive, block, spike, serve; it was all there. It seemed that maybe Akaashi had a sixth sense in play, as he managed to completely avoid being alone with the tall blonde.
"You talked to Hinata, didn't you?" Suga sighed. It wasn't really a question. Hell, all of Karusuno could tell that something had happened between Hinata and himself.
He just nodded.
"How'd he take things?" Suga looked over at the red head who was deep in conversation with Inuoka and Lev from Nekoma.
Fixing his glasses, Tsukki continued. "About like expected. He freaked out at the idea that people would find out he was gay." His gaze narrowed as Akaashi approached Hianta. The short middle blocker blushed at what the second year setter was saying. Tsukishima looked over at Yamaguchi before watching the pair in front of him. He wouldn't let THAT happen again. Not if he could prevent it somehow. He went back onto the court. "Pay attention dumbass." The shout had Hinata jerking his head around.
Komi laughed and slapped him on the back, "come on Hinata, let's get our heads into the game."
"Hey four eyes, wait up."
Tsukishima sighed and let his shoulders sag as he waited for the Nekoma captain to catch up. He still wasn't all that fond of the sneaky middle blocker.
Kuroo walked beside Tsukishima as they headed towards the club room and a chance to shower and change before supper. "Look, I wanted to make sure that you knew I won't be bothering Yamaguchi any more. I mean the kid is still cute and great to talk to, but I'm leaving it as friends. I have someone close to me who's been through something similar. I won't be pressuring the guy at all."
"That's what Yamaguchi assured me of yesterday. I have faith that if Yamaguchi was at all worried, that not only would I hear about it, but you would be suffering as well. He may not look like it, but Tadashi's parents made sure he learned self defense after everything that happened." Kei didn't mention that it was to help him gain some self confidence, and he wasn't all that great at it, but there was no need to let that information slip.
"Yeah, I kinda figured that there'd be something like that." Kuroo smiled and ran a hand through his hair. "I wanted to reassure you that I'm not going to force myself on anyone." He looked up at the sky, the sun setting and dusk falling on their last full day of the training camp. "Anyway the other thing I wanted to talk to you about is Akaashi. I've known the guy for a number of years and have been able to call him friend for the last two. He's straight forward and honest. A good man who isn't going to push your little shrimp for anything he's not ready for. Keiji is too damn noble for that." He walked off letting the blonde think about that.
The next morning came too damn early.
"Hey, you got everything?" Onaga sat at his desk as he watched Tsukishima pack his bag. The blonde was a quiet guy, but he could tell the guy had strong ties to his club mates. "Akaashi will make sure that you guys get to the train on time. He's quite the responsible one."
"Is he now?" Kei had been able to wrangle little bits of information about the second year setter from Onaga all week.
"Yeah, he looks after Bokuto and works really hard to be the vice captain even though he's only a second year."
Tsukishima sighed, just like all the other time, Onaga did nothing but sing Akaashi's praises. It was just too damn bad the guy kept managing to avoid him. Maybe to could manage to corner him on the trip to the train station. "Thank you Onaga for allowing me to share your room. I look forward to playing against you later." He held out his hand.
Onaga shook it. "Same to you, Tsukishima. Have a safe trip now."
Shouldering his backpack, the tall blonde made his way downstairs to the meeting place. Komi was talking to Narita while Suga had Hinata by his side. Suga looked worried and the pip squeak was too quiet. "Tadashi, what's going on?" Tsukishima realized that he was the last one to arrive and Akaashi was no where to be seen.
Yamaguchi leaned closer to his best friend and whispered, "Hinata came down with tears in his eyes and a couple of minutes later Komi arrived to say that there had been a change of plans and that he would be taking us to the train. Hinata won't look at anyone and Suga's acting like an overprotective bear. I don't know what Komi knows but Suga won't let the guy near Hinata and Narita's been running interference."
Tsukki walked over to Komi, giving a nod to Suga on the way. "Sorry for the delay Komi, we're ready to go."
The trip to the train station was a little tense. Hinata kept hiding behind Suga. Komi tried a couple of times to talk to the two but Narita kept getting in the way. Tsukishima would have laughed if he wasn't so pissed. At the train station they said goodbye to Komi. Narita and Yamaguchi stopped to pick up sandwiches and drinks for the group. Suga pushed Hinata onto one of the many cushioned benches before he headed towards the ticket window to verify their tickets which left the blonde with Hinata. The normally energetic shrimp seemed to almost fold in upon himself, his legs were pulled up and his face was buried in his knees.
Tch. Tsukishima pushed up his glasses before sitting beside the runt. "What happened?"
Hinata jolted and every muscle in his body seemed to tense even more.
"Talk Shoyo!" Tsukishima tried to gentle his voice while still projecting enough force to make it difficult for Hinata to disregard the order. "Why was Akaashi not there?"
"I asked him to stay behind." Hinata's voice was muffled by his knees.
""Because....?" Kei wanted to understand what happened before he assumed anything.
"I knew it would be hard to see him."
"I was going to break down and cry."
"Because....?" This was getting tiresome, it was like talking to a three year old. "Hinata did you ask Akaashi not to come because the two of you fought or broke up before we left?" Maybe asking direct questions would result in more answers.
"No, but I thought that having to say good bye to him at the station would embarrass him." The warble in his voice let Kei know that tears were close to the surface.
Alright, now they were getting somewhere. "Hinata,.." He felt his phrasing soften and the tone he used gentled. There was a big hiccup and then sniveling. Kei slid down onto the bench beside him. He really didn't want to be there but with the traffic at the station he knew that Suga would be a while getting the tickets and that Narita and Yamaguchi were likely stuck in a line for refreshments and the light lunch they would all eat on the train. It was up to him and Hinata to watch over everyone's bags and wait. Watching the normally hyper orangette cry wasn't something he took enjoyment from, no matter what anyone said. He sighed, "Hinata, how are you going to handle it if you and Akaashi stay in this relationship? If you keep seeing one another, you'll constantly be saying goodbye to one another. You can't cry every time." He would have said more but Suga appeared above them.
"We have the seats at the back of compartment seven." He handed Tsukki two tickets. "I'll wait for the other two, Narita said they were on their way back. Would you get Hinata settled please?"
Tsukishima looked into his senior's face and realized that he really didn't have much of a choice. Standing he reached down for Hinata's hand to help him up. The fact that the shrimp didn't respond had him frustrated. "Let's go dumbass!" He grabbed an arm and hauled Hinata to his feet. He thrust a bag into Hinata's arms before grabbing his and Yams luggage and headed towards the train. Finding the car and their seats was easy, getting Hinata to sit and relax well, that was another story. "Sit down." Tsukishima physically placed Hinata by the window, he knew how easily the moron got motion sickness. The bags got stored in the overhead racks. Leaning back in his seat, Kei put his headphones on but didn't turn on the music.
"Where are the others?" Hinata's voice was flat.
"Suga's waiting for everyone. They'll be here soon." He was so uncomfortable, what the hell was it that Suga expected of him. He wasn't good with emotions or people and he sure as hell wasn't the one anyone would pick to help a heart broken shrimp deal with new emotions. He kept an eye on the idiot as he hit play on his phone.
He didn't really know how much time had passed, but the the next time that he really paid attention, Suga was in the seat across from him with a sappy smile on his face. Yamaguchi was beside him looking decidedly concerned. It was then that he felt the weight against his shoulder. No. It couldn't be. The idiot wouldn't would he? Looking over he groaned. The moron did. Hinata had wrapped himself around Tsukki's left arm and had fallen asleep. He hadn't realized it because his arm had gone numb.
"Tsukki?" Yamaguchi was concerned and justifiably so, he wasn't known for being soft and cuddly. That was Suga and to a lesser extent Asahi and Enoshita. He was known for the sarcastic comments and cold glare.
"At least this way, he won't get sick all over all of us." It was the only thing he could think of to salvage the situation.
A snort from Narita caused Tsukishima to send a glare in his direction. It was a weak excuse, but no one called him on it. No one wanted to disturb Hinata.
"Did you find out what the issue was?" Suga's question brought the real problem to the forefront.
Tsukishima studied his traveling companions; he had no worries about Yamaguchi or Suga. Neither one of them would say anything and if nothing else he really could use their input. It was Narita that he had concerns about.
Sensing that he was under scrutiny Narita held up his hands in surrender, "hey don't worry about me, man. I'm worried about him too. I'm not going to go spread rumors."
Pushing his glasses up again, Tsukishima looked at the three sitting across from him. "He said that he asked Akaashi not to take us to the train because he didn't want to embarrass him. It doesn't seem like they fought. Of course the idiot is still scared of what the team will say if they find out he's gay. I tried to let him know that we all know, but you know Hinata." He shrugged and everyone knew how that would have turned out.
"We'll watch him at school. Narita if I could get you to run interference with Ennoshita and the second years. I'll handle Daichi and Asahi and Kageyama, if he notices."
"You going to tell Tanaka?" Narita knew the two of them had been dating for over a year now.
Suga blushed and grinned, "well I guess I'll have to wait and see if he notices. If he asks, I might say something but it'll all depend on what he notices and what he asks. I'm not going to betray Hinata's trust just because my boyfriend asks a question."
"Does he really listen to that?" Narita couldn't believe that Tanaka would take that for an answer.
Suga's gaze softened as he looked upon Hinata. "Tanaka and I are good, I'll deal with him when the time comes. He'll understand."
"So there really is nothing for us to worry about." Yamaguchi knew how much his best friend hated being under scrutiny, "We'll let Hinata sleep until we get home. Narita and I can pretend that we haven't seen anything."
"I will handle anything else. Although I might have to sick Tsukishima on him if things get rough." Suga grinned at the look of absolute disgust on the blonde's face.
The rest of trip was spent in relative silence, Narita pulled out a novel, Suga played on his phone and Yamaguchi fell asleep.
Tsukishima turned the music on and let his eyes drift close. He'd text Kuroo and get Akaashi's number. Then he'd called the second year setter and grill him for sure.