It was an average day for Tsukishima, as of the beginning of volleyball practice. He had walked into school feeling as normal as he usually did, spent the day talking to Yamaguchi as he usually did, wondered how Yamaguchi could look so cute even while snorting so hard milk was coming out of his nose–as he usually did. Hinata would say he’s whipped, Tsukishima prefers to say he’s infatuated. It sounds less like he’s helplessly in love.
Unfortunately, Yamaguchi didn’t walk with him to practice this time. He’d left with Kageyama earlier, citing that they had “captaincy” things to deal with. That was fine, they didn’t have to be together all the time, but his side did feel kind of empty. Instead, Hinata was with him instead, jumping up and down in excitement. He was saying something about how he and Kageyama would be going to the gym later to see who could lift more weight, and he couldn’t care less about their weird macho competition. There were more important things for him to pay attention to, like how he would be able to watch Yamaguchi’s float serve in action again for the first time this year.
They reached club room and Tsukishima immediately brushed Hinata off to go get changed. To be fair, the two middle blockers had gotten closer, but Tsukishima’s mannerisms were still as cold as they had always been, and when he didn’t feel like talking, he wouldn’t. They all knew that by know, and if they wanted to talk to him, Yamaguchi was usually the one to ask. Hinata and Kageyama would snicker when his rigid personality would soften in front of their captain, but a short glare from Tsukishima would at least stop any audible sounds. It wasn’t his fault that Yamaguchi was like a warm fire, perfect for melting his cold heart. He wanted to slap himself for that sappy comment.
It didn’t take long to change; as third years, the four of them had adjusted to make sure they arrived early for practice to both avoid the rush of rowdy boys that had joined their team as well as set up the gym. The first years would always apologize for failing to be there to help, but they would soon learn like the second years had there was no way any of them would let their underclassmen help. Not because they refused to be helped, but because they felt that being the oldest, they had to do it themselves. And so they slowly started to accept that this was the way the team would be run under the dual captaincy of Yamaguchi and Kageyama.
“Hinata, I’m done. I’ll be in the gym,” he called out, stepping outside in his practice uniform. Hinata came hurtling out of the door after him. “Hey, what was that!” He cried, stepping aside to avoid the brunt of the impact of Hinata’s body.
“Sorry! I just remembered that I had to grab my bottle from the gym, I left it there earlier!” Tsukishima rolled his eyes at that, unimpressed by his friend’s forgetfulness. He walked down the stairs of the club rooms calmly, watching Hinata sprint as fast as he could towards the gym. He supposed there would be some things that never changed. Hinata had long disappeared by the time he made it even a fourth of the way to the gym, so he slowed his pace even more, leisurely taking his time. He wouldn’t find out until later how much of a blessing this would be.
When he entered the gym, none of the lights were on and Hinata couldn’t be seen or heard anywhere inside. That was the first sign that Tsukishima felt something was off, but before he could pursue his suspicions further, the lights all turned on at once, momentarily blinding him while his eyes adjusted. When he finally felt that his eyes wouldn’t burn if he opened them, he looked around for the source of his irritation, only to be surprised by the sight in front of him.
Yamaguchi stood in the middle of a heart made of rose petals, smiling and licking his lips as he occasionally did when he was nervous. His hands were behind his back, and he rocked back and forth nervously. Tsukishima felt his irritation melt away, and he waited patiently to hear what would come next.
“Tsukki, we’ve been friends for years. And over that time, I’ve come to realize that I care for you a lot–more than I do for Hinata or Kageyama, although that’s not saying much,” he snickered, ignoring the aforementioned two yelling in indignation. “But it’s true. And I’ve decided to finally do something about it. Tsukki, will you go out with me?”
“Did you really think I would say no?” He whispered, a love-struck smile coming over his face as he walked towards Yamaguchi.
“So, it’s a yes?” He asked, smirking at how Tsukishima didn’t even disagree, choosing instead to hug him close, bending down to shove his face into Yamaguchi’s neck.
“Always has been.”
“Good. Be ready at 8, I’m taking you to the carnival in town.”
“When did you become so demanding?” Tsukishima asked, laughing into Yamaguchi’s neck since he hadn’t moved.
“I’ve always been like this. Now get your ass moving, the first and second years are coming and we still have to put up the nets.”
It took Tsukishima an embarrassing 40 minutes to get ready for his date. And what was worse was that he was smiling like a fool because of said date. When his brother, who was visiting for the week, saw him, his first response was, “Are you okay, Kei?” Like the very concept of him smiling was enough to warrant concern.
At 8 on the dot, the doorbell rang, and although Tsukishima tried his hardest to get to the door before his mother, she managed to beat him to it.
“Tadashi, you look dashing!” he exclaimed, slyly glancing at Tsukishima out of the corner of her eye. “I trust you’ll take good care of Kei, hm?” Tsukishima buried his face in Yamaguchi’s shoulder in an attempt to cover up his blush and stifle the whining that he knew would come out of him. Yamaguchi was openly laughing at his discomfort, and his mother was just smiling like she’d won the lottery.
“Of course I will, Tsukishima-san. Come on Tsukki, we’re losing daylight!”
“Yamaguchi, it’s night time.”
“You know what I mean!” Yamaguchi slapped his shoulder, hard, and this time Tsukishima actually whined, which brought another round of laughter. He could even here his brother, who was upstairs in his room, which was what finally made him pull Yamaguchi out of the house, mumbling about the amount of disrespect he was being subjected to.
“Oh, shush Tsukki, you deserved it.” Even the half-hearted glare he gave his friend (boyfriend?) wasn’t enough to dim the smile Yamaguchi wore.
Somewhere along the short walk to the carnival, a mere ten minutes away, their fingers brushed and locked together, and Tsukishima smiled the hardest he had all day. Yamaguchi’s hands were hard from handling volleyballs constantly for three years, but he still kept them soft. He could still smell the vanilla and coconut lotion on his hands.
“I think you’ll like this carnival, Tsukki,” Yamaguchi piped up just as the first lights entered their vision. “They’ve got more rides than games, and I know how much you hate rigged carnival games.” The fact that Yamaguchi knew him so well shouldn’t surprise him by now, but he still feels a comfortable warmth fill him.
“Then I’m sure it’ll be great.”
Most of the night goes by leisurely, a quietness that embodies them both. Yamaguchi is a tease, but he’s still a shy person by nature, generally more comfortable observing the on-goings of the world. Tsukishima is cold, but the truth is he really doesn’t have much to say unless it’s a response to someone else. He doesn’t initiate conversations because most of the time, he’s happy with the silence. So they spend their date with minimal fuss, but the fond looks they share over cotton candy and across each other on rides speaks more than voices ever could.
“Tsukki, we should go on the Ferris wheel!” Mischief danced in his eyes, and Tsukishima hesitates, warily eyeing the distance between the ground and the top of the Ferris wheel.
“I’m not sure-”
“Please, Tsukki?” Yamaguchi cuts him off, pleading with those puppy eyes that he knew Tsukishima was weak for. He scowled, defeated before he could even try to argue.
“Fine.” His boyfriend–yes, boyfriend–cheered, accidentally attracting attention from the surrounding people. He immediately quietened when he saw their confused stares, apologizing over and over, but his smile never wavered. When he finished, he grabbed Tsukishima’s hand and pulled him over to the line for the Ferris wheel. Despite how he tried to calm himself down, the line was too short, and before he knew it, he was being folded into the carriage beside Yamaguchi, who was far too bubbly for the situation.
He tried, harder than he normally would, to keep his eyes off the ground, to just stare at the lights of the surrounding area. But eventually, his gaze strayed to the ground right below them, and the vertigo that hit him made him crush his head into Yamaguchi’s shoulder to avoid it.
“How is a beanpole like yourself afraid of heights this much?” Yamaguchi teased, patting Tsukishima’s hair.
“Shut up, Yamaguchi. Do I need to remind you of the time you cried because Nii-san showed you his fake spider prop?” The hand on his hair stilled and then whacked him, and Tsukishima shot up. “What was that for?”
“I thought we agreed he wouldn’t mention that,” he hisses, the faintest blush present under his darker skin. If he really tried to compare it to something, he would say that it reminded him most of a latté. He also didn’t say that out loud, because Yamaguchi would definitely hit him again for it. The carriage jarred to a stop at the top of the Ferris wheel, and Tsukishima was once again reminded of the height they were at. He gripped Yamaguchi’s hand tighter, and the sharpness of his mouth softened.
“Hey, you know what’ll make you feel better?” He asked, lips quirking upwards as if he was in on a joke that Tsukishima didn’t know about. Frowning, Tsukishima shook his head, running through the different calming exercises he had for these situations. He nearly jumped in surprise when Yamaguchi kissed him.
His lips were chapped from the cold, just the slightest bit, and they tasted like the peppermint lip balm that he stocked up on during winter because he loved it so much. In his daze, he didn’t register when the kiss stopped and the pressure on his own lips disappeared. Instinctively, he brought his fingers up to touch his lips, remembering how they felt.
“Did that help?” Yamaguchi asked softly, but not quietly enough that Tsukishima didn’t hear him.
“Y-yeah.” All his synapses seemed to have short-circuited, he mused to himself, because all he could make were one-word responses. The hand that held his own tightened and Tsukishima hoped that the love they felt now would never die.
“That’s good.” They didn’t move for the rest of the time they were in the carriage, mesmerized by how the red and yellow lights played across each other’s features. When they got off, they didn’t stop holding hands, and the entire walk home was filled with them walking so closely that they bumped shoulders more often than not. When they stood in front of Tsukishima’s door, they lingered, unsure how to end a night that they wished would continue forever. Eventually, Tsukishima ducked his head the slightest bit and kissed Yamaguchi chastely on the mouth.
“You were right,” he whispered in the small space that separated their lips after they broke away, “I loved it.”