The day went pretty well.
At least in Yamaguchi’s opinion it did.
The team had won another practice match at a school in the Miyagi Prefecture. Everyone had performed awesomely and they crushed the team at a brutal 25 to 14 in the last set. Yamaguchi cheered as hard as he could, for every successful receive, spike, and block. He adored everyone on the team. From the sweet Asahi to the dependable Daichi to the energetic Nishinoya, Yamaguchi couldn’t help but feel his heart swell with happiness. He had finally found a family.
Currently, the freckled boy was running to catch up with the rest of the team. The bus was about to leave and he didn’t want to be left behind. He had stayed after to talk to one of the members of the other team. You know, to help ease the wounds a little and perhaps ask for some receiving tips as the team was incredibly good at receiving Kageyama’s jump serves. He let the upperclassmen know that he was going to stay after for a bit but they told him to hurry. Which had brought him here, jogging through the halls of a foreign school. Which would eventually bring him to another predicament.
Tsuki definitely wouldn’t appreciate it if he was late, so Yamaguchi picked up the pace. A goofy grin rested on his face when he remembered how Tsuki completely shut down almost every one of their ace’s spikes. Tsuki really was incredibly cool, and Yamaguchi was glad that they were friends.
While caught up in his thoughts, he didn’t notice a group of approaching students. At least, he didn’t notice until it was too late. He ran face first into the center guy’s chest. After landing flat on his rear, he looked up shakily. The boys he had just ran into were tall, almost as tall as Tsuki, which was saying something. The center guy had broad shoulders, probably a member of the football team. He looked angry. Probably because when Yamaguchi ran into him, he also ran into the drink he was holding-causing the drink to be spilled all over the front of his shirt. Trepidation filled him as he frantically began to apologize.
“I’m so sorry! I really didn’t mean to cause any trouble! I’m really sorry. I just-uh-sorry!” He stood up and frantically began to try to help the situation. He pulled tissues out of his sports backpack (for just in case) and began to help him wipe the front of his shirt. The boy grimaced at this so Yamaguchi stopped, pulling at the tissue with both hands, tearing it up nervously. He couldn’t believe that he just did this. He was such a klutz! The boy and his friends looked down at Yamaguchi with matching scowls.
“That was the last strawberry milk that the vending machine had.” The lead boy said, his anger apparent in his voice. “My friends and I just finished watching that match when I got it. Now, its all over me, and it’s all your fault.”
The two boys behind him suddenly became very noticeable. The one of the left had a mohawk, black and spiky like a delinquent’s. His eyes were narrow, as if he was always reading something really far away and small. The one of the right had a stouter figure, his wide face bore a blank expression, except for his fat lips. His rubbery smile was full of promises. Not very good ones.
The circled around him, leaving no escape route for poor Yamaguchi.
“I recognize the practice jersey but I don’t remember seeing you on the court. Did you even play or are you just one of those useless benchwarmers? Because, with your skinny ass, I don’t think you’d ever be put out on the court. Eh?”
Yamaguchi always struggled with being the only first year not to be a starter. Was he not good enough? He’s been playing ever since he was in elementary and he still wasn’t adept enough in the sport to even be considered for a starting position. And he hated it. He hated the fact that he couldn’t move his body the way the others could. He hated the way people told him not to mind it because he would anyways. He hated that he was just a forgotten face in a crowd. He hated, himself.
The latter looked down, ashamed of himself.
“I-I’m s-s-sorry.” He said, reverting back to his childhood stutter. Why was he going back to this? Wasn’t he stronger than this? At that last thought, he summoned the will power to stand up and look his intimidator in the face. “b-but you ran into me too.” He stood as tall as he could, coming at an unimpressive place at the other boy’s collar bone. Yamaguchi gritted his teeth, and forced himself to maintain eye contact. The other boy’s stare was eating him up from the inside.
“Wow, you’re quite ballsy for someone who doesn’t have enough skill in the starting line up, dirt face.” Yamaguchi resisted the urge to touch his face, insecurely. It always went back to the freckles, didn’t it? “You know, I don’t understand how your friends can stand you. Not only are you not good enough but your voice is so annoying.” Yamaguchi could hear himself chirping Tsuki’s name over and over, internally cringing. “Truth be told, I don’t think it will be to long before you’re left all alone.” That was the thing that scared him the most. To be left behind, alone. He could see the retreating backs of his teammates, hear their whispering about his uselessness to the team, feel his own heart shattering as they tell him that he doesn’t deserve to call himself a Karasuno volleyball player. Yamaguchi began to tremble terribly, his thoughts consuming him as he continued to stare up at the bully. The bully’s face now donning a satisfied smirk, knowing that he finally struck the chord. The freckled pinch server felt like curling up into a ball and crying, but he had too much pride to do that.
Yeah, that’s it. Pride.
He continued to shake as he raised a hand and jabbed a finger at the taller’s chest. “A-at least I don’t get a self-esteem boost out of making other people bow down to kiss your s-s-shit-covered shoes.” He couldn’t help his stutter, but what he could help was put out on the table. And he was proud of it. The smirk disappeared and a dark scowl replaced it.
The taller boy grabbed a fistful of Yamaguchi’s shirt, dragging him up to his eye level. Yamaguchi couldn’t even touch the floor with his sneakers; he was almost completely helpless. The bully pulled a fist back, his knuckles cracking-preparing for impact. Yamaguchi closed his eyes, hoping that it wouldn’t be too painful. He refused to cry for help.
The loud, angry shout caused Yamaguchi to open his eyes again. And the sight before him was something that made tears well up in his eyes.
It was the team. It was his team. All of them were huddled closely together in a group, black jackets making them look like some sort of gang. The matching looks of anger didn’t help the gang look.
Tanaka, lumbered over to where Yamaguchi was currently being held, growling angrily. He smiled that grisly smile before punching the taller boy in the gut, forcefully causing him to drop Yamaguchi. The boy gave a yelp as he landed again on his butt. He felt a hand press gently on his head.
“You were really cool, just now.” Tsukishima said softly, as his also made his way over to where Tanaka was currently kicking the bully in the knees, trying to get him to fall over, shouting profanities at the top of his lungs.
“You think you can mess with my underclassman and get away with it ya punk?! Huh?! You know you’re lucky I can’t see your face right now…” Tanaka started, before glancing back at the rest of his team. Even Kageyama’s only concern was Yamaguchi and his revenge. “What’s more is I think you might have gotten on someone else’s bad side.”
Tsukishima and the team captain, Daichi, approached the boy who was keeled over. The boy stood to his full height, looking Tsukishima in the eye before flashing a glance between the two of them.
“What is it?” he spat, unwilling to submit to the flock of crows.
Tsukishima and Daichi looked at each other before donning matching Cheshire cat grins. It was fucking terrifying. Daichi reached up and grabbed a fistful of his hair, pulling him down to his level.
“If you ever, ever, think about coming near Yamaguchi again…well, let’s just say you’ll be weighing a lot less than you do right now. A few limbs less.” That threat in itself was enough to make the bully gulp, his Adam’s apple bobbing fearfully. But it was Tsukishima’s turn.
Daichi released the boy so he could stand up to his full height. Tsukishima’s smirk grew wider.
“You know, I’ve done research on this school’s sports teams. Blocking is only as good as the technique and research behind it. And couldn’t help but notice just how much of a pussy the captain of the football team was when it came to being tackled. Like an overwhelming fear of being manhandled.” Tsukishima grabbed the guy’s shoulder with a bruising force. “Is that what you’re afraid of? Because I exceed at making fears a reality.” He whispered, his smile disappearing. “It’s what you deserve for laying a single filthy finger on him.”
That was when the boy, turned and took off running, pulling away from Tsukishima’s grasp. Tsukishima frowned further, he didn’t get to finish. He turned to the rest of the group. Nishinoya and Tanaka were having a field day with the boy’s lackeys. Asahi stood watch, his expression determined; determined to not ever let anyone hurt one of his underclassmen again. Daichi stood proudly by his side, his arms crossed watching the boy’s retreating figure. Sugawara, Hinata and Kageyama surrounded Yamaguchi, whose eyes glistened with fresh tears
“You know, Yamaguchi.” Daichi began.
“We would never leave you behind.” Sugawara continued.
“it is the very same tenacity,” Asahi said, pounding a fist over his heart.
“Spirit.” Nishinoya joined in, giving Yamaguchi the widest grin, as if to portray his pride in the boy.
“Strength.” Ennoshita, Narita, and Kinnoshita said in unison, as if they have had enough practice on the subject.
“Determination.” Tanaka added, putting a hand on Yamaguchi’s shoulder.
“Perseverance.” Kageyama stepped out in front of Yamaguchi, giving him a nod that symbolized his respect.
“Awesomeness!” Hinata jumped up and down, his eyes sparkling.
“And pride.” Tsukishima walked towards the still sitting Yamaguchi. He kneeled to his level and touch their foreheads together, endearingly.
“That you just demonstrated that makes this team, a team.” The rest of the group finished. Tsukishima helped Yamaguchi to his feet so the team could huddle together, giving Yamaguchi a group hug.
The tears poured down his face.
“Thank you, t-thank you. I-I, I just…Thank You.” Yamaguchi concluded giving his family the widest, most beautiful smile in the entire world. The rest of the team grinned at him before making their way back to the bus. Yamaguchi fell in line right next to Tsukishima. Yamaguchi gave him a small, less radiant smile that seemed to apologize for the trouble it was.
Tsukishima smiled back.
He was in love with someone who was incredibly cool.