The whistle blew for the last time, indicating the end of the match, leaving a frustrated Kageyama staring at the floor. It had only been a practice match against Nekoma, but it was still impossible to beat them.
He took a small glance at his teammates, and they all seemed to be thinking of the same thing: they'd actually had the chance to win this time. After all, they had improved greatly, but since Tsukishima had left the match... well, let's just say the morale of the team had gone down.
It all had happened so fast, one minute they were winning and then, Nekoma got a sudden impulse and started scoring like their life depended on it. As soon as they were able to get a point, Karasuno took the chance to get Yamaguchi into the court and make him use one of his magical serves to change the flow of the game.
The freckled boy had been practicing his serve so much after that dreadful match with Seijoh. Everyone felt a strange trust towards Yamaguchi, who was often a little shy, albeit an over-sharer (though Yamaguchi would often share more about Tsukki's life than his own). This time, he was confident himself, which didn't happen too often. But, alas, it seems like destiny had other plans for his extraordinary serve.
Out. Change of players.
“Yamaguchi, don't mind!” said Hinata, cheerfully, not expecting to feel him trembling. “Yamaguchi, are you-”
“Ukai-kun,” he cut Hinata off, “Can I go to the bathroom?”
The coach looked at him dumbfounded, and Hinata entered the court.
“Yamaguchi, we're in the middle of-” he started saying, but changed his mind as soon as he saw the small boy's expression, “Sure, you can go. It's only a practice game.”
Tsukishima Kei wasn't good with words. Not with comforting words, to be fair, because just like his teammate was known as the 'King of the Court', Tsukishima was often called the 'Salty King of Sass'. That being said, when it came to people and feelings, he was a lost case. He often envied the way Suga could understand them all and always know just what to say.
It had been strange, being replaced by Ennoshita when he had apparently done nothing wrong during the whole match; in fact, his block reading had improved so much that Kuroo himself had to compliment it! He was wondering why the hell he had been taken out, until he noticed something.
Yamaguchi wasn't there.
“Tsukishima, I really don't like to do this, since you're doing such a good job, but I'm worried about Yamaguchi and you seem to be the closest one to him here,” said the coach with a frown. Tsukishima caught on quickly, understanding the situation.
“Where is he?”
“Bathroom. Make sure he's okay, please,” replied Takeda, a soft smile forming on his lips as a form of encouragement.
He nodded and left the gym walking slowly, as if nothing was wrong, but as soon as he was out of sight, he sprinted off as quickly as he could.
Luckily, the bathroom wasn't too far away. He wondered if Yamaguchi would really be there and hoped for the best as he opened the door.
“Yamaguchi!” he called, getting no response. A small 'tch' escaped his lips, until he heard a noise coming from one of the stalls. Someone was crying, gasping for air. “Yamaguchi, open up, please.”
Tsukishima wondered what he'd say if Yamaguchi did open the door, after all, he wasn't good with words. Still, his nervousness was not the biggest problem here. He knew about Yamaguchi's anxieties and insecurities, and, as cold as Tsukishima could seem sometimes, he did care for his best – and only – friend.
Lately, that care had been presenting itself in strange ways inside of Tsukishima's head. Sometimes, he couldn't help but stare at Yamaguchi's freckled face while the latter blabbed about whatever he was talking about; other times, he felt the need to grab the shorter boy's hand as they walked back from volleyball practice; but most times, Tsukishima simply wanted to wrap his arms around Yamaguchi and protect him from all the terrible things in the world, Yamaguchi was too precious for him to watch him suffer.
And that's exactly why Tsukishima needed him to open the door. He run a hand through his short blonde hair and used his shirt to wipe his glasses, which were a little wet from sweating, before knocking on Yamaguchi's door and softly saying:
“Please, let me in.”
He heard some shuffling inside the stall and the click of the door. The sight that greeted him wasn't a pleasant one: just as he suspected, Yamaguchi was in the middle of a panic attack.
He was sitting on the toilet with his face between his knees, his hands pulling from his green hair and his breath uneven and noisy, which made Tsukishima worry even more (not that he could ever show it).
“Hey, no,” Tsukishima said hesitantly, “Get out of there, I'll help you.”
He saw Yamaguchi shake his head and heard a murmur that came out as a gasp.
“I can't hear you, please get out of there, I'll help you breathe properly.”
“P-path-” Yamaguchi paused. Tsukishima's eyes widened as he realized what he was trying to say.
“You're not, Yamaguchi, you're not pathetic, anyone could miss a serve, it's no big deal!”
He walked closer to him and tried to grab his arm to help him out, but Yamaguchi flinched at his touch. Nevertheless, the blonde felt him relax and suddenly, he was offering his hand, which Tsukishima quickly grabbed.
“It's better to be in a more open space if you want to calm down your breathing,” Tsukishima said, trying to find reassuring words but finding none.
Slowly and with the help of Tsukishima, Yamaguchi was able to stand up and walk outside of the stall, sitting on the floor with his back against the bathroom wall next to the other boy. His hyperventilating breathing did not cease, anyhow.
Again, the taller male felt the care towards the freckled boy. Of course, he didn't understand his feelings and wasn't really sure of how to put them into words, but Tsukishima knew he felt something towards Yamaguchi that he would never admit. Still, he wrapped his left arm around him and interwined his right fingers with Yamaguchi's.
“S-sorry, Tsukki,” Yamaguchi managed to stutter out after a while of trying to calm down his breath.
“You're not supposed to say you're sorry for this, Yamaguchi,” Tsukishima answered almost automatically, surprising himself.
“Sorry,” Yamaguchi whispered.
Both faces were close now, their gazes finding each other. Tsukishima studied Yamaguchi's face; his poofy eyes, his tear-stained, humid cheeks filled with freckles, his swollen lips...
In that moment, Tsukishima's instincts were nothing more than to lean in and close the space between them in a passionate kiss that would lead to kissing his neck, to his collarbone, to-
He stopped himself before doing anything or thinking anything else. But, Yamaguchi was beautiful, and that was something that Tsukishima knew even at his loss of words.
“Yamaguchi,” he called.
“Yeh-Yes, Tsukki?” the other one answered, his voice shaking. He wasn't used to this closeness, and was still a bit shaken-up from the previous events.
“Yamaguchi,” he repeated, formulating the sentence in his head before saying it, “What would you do if you wanted to try something that involved another person, but you're not sure how they will react?”
Yamaguchi gulped. “Uh, I don't know, Tsukki, why are you as-”
“So, Yamaguchi, what if you don't really understand why you want to try something but you're sure that that person is the only one you want to try it with? What would you do?”
“Tsukki, you're scaring me, what's-” Yamaguchi tried to ask, until he felt the arm Tsukishima had around him pulling him closer, their noses almost touching.
Tsukishima sighed and, not finding any fancier words, grabbed Yamaguchi's face with his right hand, to say:
“Yamaguchi,” he paused, “I'm going to kiss you now.”
He pressed his lips softly on the smaller boy's mouth before he could finish talking. He felt Yamaguchi's soft lips dance on his for just a second, and, not wanting to overwhelm him (after all, he had just had a panic attack), pulled away; he could feel his heartbeat stronger than ever, quicker than ever.
He wasn't sure why he had done it. He never thought about being gay, bi or anything, in fact he had never even thought of being straight. He didn't really care though, all he cared about at the moment was Yamaguchi.
“You,” Yamaguchi said, his eyes as big as two plates, “You kissed me!”
“Yeah, no shit,” escaped Tsukishima's lips and they both laughed for a second. Then, realization hit Tsukishima. “I'M SORRY!”
“You're... sorry? For what?”
“Kissing you. You probably didn't want to. It was stupid, an instinct, forget it, it will never happen again-”
“Tsukki,” Yamaguchi chuckled, lowering his voice, “I'm going to kiss you now.”
Just like Tsukishima hadn't let Yamaguchi finish, Yamaguchi grasped onto Tsukishima's face with both hands and planted a kiss on his lips. This kiss lasted a bit more, it was slow and loving. It was the first kiss for the both of them, not counting the one they had shared seconds ago, and both were scared to do anything that might freak the other one out. After a while, they pulled away, staring into each other's eyes.
“Yamaguchi, I-” Tsukishima cut himself off. “I-um, I'm not good with words but-”
“I know. I love you too.”
Tsukishima was glad that Yamaguchi could read him like an open book. Normally, he would hate the thought of someone having access to his real feelings, but with Yamaguchi he felt understood and safe, and he knew – or at the very least, he hoped – Yamaguchi felt the same way towards him.
And for the first time in a while, Tsukishima smiled genuinely.
Kageyama was mad. Not only had he lost, but they had actually been close to winning. He was mad at himself, mad at the other team and mad at the world.
“C'mon, Bakeyama!” said a familiar voice behind him, “it was just a practice match!”
“Shut up, dumbass,” he mumbled, a strange sense guilt creating a knot in the middle of his throat.
“What did you just call m-” Hinata started to say, but another voice cut him off.
“Kageyama!” called Ukai, motioning for the ravenette to approach him. “Kageyama, I know you're frustrated, so I want you to go to the bathroom and throw some water in your face to cool down. Oh, and while you're in there, check if Yamaguchi's okay, I sent Tsukishima after him, but they haven't come back yet. If there's something wrong-”
“I'll let you know,” Kageyama finished for him, and, earning a small nod from his coach, he set off to the bathroom.
He sighed as he walked, noticing the knot in his throat started to calm down. He wondered what had caused it in the first place, he didn't like losing but he wasn't about to cry, after all, it was a practice match.
He knocked on the bathroom door just in case, even though there were lots of stalls inside, and opened the door. The sight before him was one he had never expected to see.
Tsukishima was... hugging Yamaguchi?
‘...Awkward,’ a small voice sang inside Kageyama's head. He coughed, so as to alert the other two of his presence, making them jump back in horror.
“Uhm–” Kageyama stared at the floor. “Ukai sent me to look for you two. I'm assuming everything is okay?”
Yamaguchi and Tsukishima shared looks, leaving Kageyama perplexed.
“Is everything oka-”
“I just had a panic attack,” Yamaguchi said quickly.
“Tsukki knows how to deal with it because, well, it's not the first time this happened,” he finished. Kageyama couldn't help but notice the small blush on Tsukishima's cheeks as Yamaguchi held onto his arm.
“Are you okay now?”
“I'm just tired,” he said with a weak smile.
An awkward silence consumed them, the elephant in the room too big for Kageyama not to bring it up.
What? He might be cranky as hell but he's also a curious lil shit.
“Hey, um, are you guys-”
“Kageyama,” Tsukishima interrupted, and looking straight into the black-haired boy's eyes, he said, “You tell someone, you're dead.”
Kageyama gave them a curt nod, the match long forgotten, and left the bathroom, the knot in his throat suddenly strong again.