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[#1: reverse bullying]

 

“Kageyama’s being bullied,” Yamaguchi grits, expression steeled.

Tsukishima lowers his book quietly, and stares, eyes wide.

“As if he has enough social competence to realise he’s being bullied.”

“Tsukki, please .”

 

 

And that’s how Tsukishima finds himself witnessing God’s paradoxical First Mistake in life, which is Kageyama Tobio and Hinata Shoyou, whose heights in general amount to one person, and combined IQ to encompass a singular brain cell.

“I’m literally trying to make fun of you,” shouts unnamed background character #1, who Tsukishima doesn’t bother to even identify since he’s pretty sure he’s not in any of his classes, and therefore, a redundant waste of Tsukishima’s memory capacity.

“Hm. By this point I feel more bad for the guy than for Kageyama.” Yamaguchi clicks his tongue, something sad in his gaze.

“I thought you said he was being bullied,” Tsukishima grunts, feeling vaguely scammed.

“Can you try and sound less disappointed?” Yamaguchi replies dryly.

Tsukishima watches the exasperation grow on Unnamed Extra #2, whose increasing confusion when paired with Kageyama’s default Resting Bitch Face, makes it look as if their roles as bully and victim were reversed.

“If you were bullying us, why’d you offer to help us with our work?” Hinata inquires curiously, clearly oblivious to what’s happening.

Tsukishima stares, terrified that he’s still capable of being surprised by Hinata, who somehow still exceeds his constantly lowering expectations for him.

“I. We were making fun of you!” And that’s a lot of confidence to admit; bold one, Extra #1. Tsukishima mentally credits him. 

“No you weren’t, then you wouldn’t try and help us,” Hinata answers confidently, looking up from his entire break snack that's really just a breakfast course.

Tsukishima can’t help but interject by this point, Hinata’s mere 2D character irking Tsukishima’s conceptual and diminishing hope in natural selection’s efficiency and the brightness of Japan’s future. “I will cave your head in with a brick,” he says tonelessly.

“Shittyshima, I don’t want to hear your opinions!” Hinata snarls, snapping open a bottle of Sunny D, which is essentially impostor orange juice, and dumping it a plastic cup of crushed instant ramen.

"What are you eating?"

Hinata casually unpacks his utensil set, taking out a pair of Batman chopsticks. "Soup."

"There's too much to unpack here," Yamaguchi murmurs. "Shouldn't you use a spoon?"

"Spoons are for cowards," Hinata grumbles.

"Then why aren't you using yours?" Tsukishima inquires tonelessly.

“Oi, what the heck?” Hinata shrieks. “Suckyshima you’re always nagging even though you always get mad about talking to us! What’s up with you? What did I even do?”

“Exist.”

And Hinata roars, and Tsukishima flinches as his waving chopsticks flick saturated McDonalds-rated orange juice onto him. And probably out of reflex, Hinata attempts to headlock Kageyama, who roars in response: “the fuck are you dragging me into-”

“This was a waste of time,” Tsukishima summarises without even glancing at Yamaguchi, who just wilts. "And you two," he gestures towards the classmates, who stare at him, clearly intimidated just by his height. He inwardly scoffs. "Is he always like this?" He motions to Hinata, who's proving himself to be utterly incapable of adjusting to societal standards and deserves excommunication. 

"Yes."

"And yet you fail to bully him after all this?" He hisses, pointing accusingly at Hinata's meal plan that looks like a downgraded prison meal, and the bullies cower as if reprimanded.

And then there's Kageyama, who they also failed to somehow make fun of.

He glances at the said boy. Kageyama has absolutely lost any focus on his two classmates who were trying to get a rise out of him, as he’s now struggling to unwedge his mechanical pencil whose entire head is jabbed straight through his eraser. Hinata, clinging onto his neck like a DIY Walmart bargain-bin noose, doesn’t even seem to affect him anymore.

Then, Kageyama, continuing to completely tuning out Extra #2 who has a horrendous bowl-cut, breaks his eraser in half to free his pencil.

Tsukishima squints harder, because even with his glasses, he struggles to detect the intelligence in this circa 16th century renaissance painting of a disaster unfolding before him, with Kageyama wholly resembling that one farmer boy who got dropkicked by the village donkey one too many times as a child.

He can’t believe he voluntarily took time out of his break period to purposefully and publicly insert himself into a classroom whose intelligence averages around the King’s test score, and not even get to see real bullying.

He glances over, ready to show Kageyama’s equally brain-damaged classmates how to really diss someone (and how does one even struggle to joke about something like academic intelligence when it comes to the King? Kageyama, annoyingly enough, is naturally predisposed with terrifying memory recall and innate innovation. Yet somehow, those abilities just make him look even dumber, because he doesn’t know how to tap into them outside of volleyball, and is struggling in class. If people have trouble making fun of a self-sabotaging dumbass like him, then that’s just on them). 

He stops however, as he takes note of what's on Kageyama's desk. 

And purses his lips.

He knows Kageyama doesn’t try on anything that’s not revolving around volleyball. Kageyama's not dumb- he just has different priorities even though Tsukishima really thinks some maturity and self-accountability would lead him to manage and divide his time fairly between volleyball and academics. In other words: he just doesn’t give a shit. He puts zero effort in anything past volleyball, and beating his gag reflex into submission so he can inhale two bowls of rice at once.

And yet, there’s no other way to interpret the messy answers scribbled across his worksheet as anything but effort. The marked eraser streaks and indents on paper of previously erased answers-

Kageyama tried.

Tsukishima’s not an excessively nice person. He’s by default respectful to the deserving, and isn’t courteous past that.

 

So, though he’s reluctant to decide such, he figures, it’d be disrespectful to not acknowledge the effort in Kageyama’s work. If they were alone, that’s a completely different matter because really, all that effort and he got the answer wrong four times on one question? 

Tsukishima would've dangled it over his head. 

But his classmates are just-

They don’t have the same level of right and mutual understanding that he hesitantly shares with Kageyama. 

Something hot at the unfairness of it all scalds the lining of his throat, and ticks him off more than he usually feels on a daily basis, but he’s not going to get involved. The King deserves it and he doesn't even appear offended (and a voice that sounds suspiciously a lot like Yachi is disapprovingly telling him that it’s because he just isn’t aware; but Tsukishima wants to mentally refute that doesn’t that mean he deserves it more -), and he’s going to kill god and then himself after this.

“Hey. He’s done his work and he finished his sheet,” wrongly , Tsukishima struggles to not say, “meanwhile,” he drawls, and bitterly realizes he’s unable to siphon all the snark out of his tone. “You guys,” and he slides his gaze over to the background characters, one of them bristling and the other flinching, “making fun of someone’s intelligence and yet failing to do so? What does that say about your own capabilities?” He finishes ambiguously. And really, that’s more of Kageyama’s stupidity being at fault, but if these two don’t rebuke the obvious, then they’re definitely no better. And he feels Yamaguchi’s hot gaze drilling into his side, and he also knows Kageyama is staring at him too, because that boy's an idiot who probably can’t even grasp the situation (and Tsukishima realises with numbing shock that he can’t either, because what the hell. His sneer is not his usual lilting sarcasm- it’s something defensive and directed-

And he’s never felt so overly injust for someone past himself, past Yamaguchi).

He shoves his clamming hands into his pocket, and instantly discards his worries. As if he ever cared about others’ interpretations of this situation. He and Kageyama aren’t close- they’re not on necessarily friendly terms, it’s more of a mutual relationship of arguments, indirect support, and voluntary cooperation (a step from it being reluctant). This isn’t worth deeper evaluation on his part.

However, he still averts his gaze from Yamaguchi, and in doing so, his eyes incidentally lands on Hinata, whose jaw is unhinged. His brow pinches together. “Ew, Hinata, what the heck, swallow -” and he quickly glances away from the scoop of watered ramen in his mouth, and in doing so, makes a mistake.

And the thing is, Tsukishima Kei does not make mistakes. Mistakes means he was wrong , and he can’t be the wrong one in this given cast of characters. 

Yet the moment his eyes skirt past Hinata and lands on Kageyama, who's wearing an unidentifiable countenance that he probably doesn’t even know he’s even making, Tsukishima knows this was an accident. Which is essentially synonymous to ‘mistakes’ given the fact that it ultimately points to him being at fault somehow. 

Regret and vague and shame flushes the back of his throat, washing it with scorching embarrassment that he can’t pinpoint who or where it’s directed to.

Kageyama’s wide eyes almost appear innocent, the confusion wrinkling his sneer, illustrating childlike comprehension (which Tsukishima will not deny because the boy has the mental capacity of a Goldfish cracker), even though it’s utterly misleading because Tsukishima has seen this boy easily peel open a Pepsi can like it was made out of string cheese.

Tsukishima glowers back, and Kageyama flinches, his face contorting into a natural sneer.

Better.

“Uh. Who the fuck are you?” Stammers Extra Number One, Kageyama’s classmate who Tsukishima has completely forgotten existed.

“This is some. Weird vibes. Like. Murderous homicidal vibes,” chirps his bowlcut friend. “Kages-”

“Don’t call him that, I’ll spit on you!” Screeches Hinata, his arms flailing like antennas, him embodying the personification of an infrared shrimp realising its inevitable doom of being boiled alive for some French cuisine. “You can’t be nice because Tsukki-”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Said you weren’t being nice and even if Tsukki-”

“Don’t call me that.”

“-is a jerk, that means we know he’s meaner than all of you guys combined so of course he could tell if you were trying to be mean!” Hinata finishes with the delicacy of an American, utterly stampeding over Tsukishima’s presence.

“What the fuck,” Kageyama scowls, reverting back to his normal self, and Tsukishima doesn’t know how to feel about the sudden yet mild suffocating sense of disappointment that blankets his relief.

“Language!” Hinata hisses, clearly fucking losing it given the situation and the fact that he has the attention span of tapwater.

Kageyama stares.

“...Japanese?”

Tsukishima takes a second, and he can’t believe Kageyama has successfully said something that broke him and his entire mental-cognitive processing systems.

“You know what,” he turns to Classmate Two. “Continue bullying him, his intelligence deserves it,” before he storms back out, Yamaguchi’s shouts trailing him. 

Waste of time.

He thinks of Kageyama’s expression, that almost appeared soft, scrunched and struggling to analyse Tsukishima, when he can’t even properly explain himself. And it’s not gratitude creasing the boy’s face- but the thing is, Tsukishima made him look that way. 

 

He attempts to smother that image.

 

Waste of time.


[#2 rare sighting]

 

Seeing Kageyama cornered is a cryptic sight.

If anything, with his terrifyingly Botox'd scowl and unintentionally disrespectfully blunt attitude that makes him a danger to everyone and himself, Tsukishima would've thought Kageyama would be the one cornering some innocent bystander in an attempt to ask them for directions to the nearest bathroom. 

Which is why he had to do a doubletake to make sure that’s really Kageyama Tobio, 181.9 centimeter Nerdsrope length of muscle, squirming underneath the towering boy leaning over against the bookshelf behind them. 

“Is that. Kageyama?” Sugawara blinks, his voice incredulous from shock or sleep deprivation, Tsukishima is unsure.

“Can’t be, we’re in the library,” Daichi replies tonelessly, the only indication of him really being alive is the tremoring in his tone that’s probably fueled by his sixth cup of coffee brewed out of Redbull and a strain of existential breakdowns flavoured in vanilla chai.

“Oh my god. That is Kageyama, no wonder he looks out of place,” Ennoshita murmurs, before glancing back to Yachi who’s still attempting to cram the entire three units of math before finals, looking five seconds from breaking her pencil or herself. "It's a Saturday. Why is he here?"

"It's a library, why is he here in general," Daichi restates, not as a question, but as a challenge. Then, he finally lifts his head off the table where he was using the cool surface to ice his eyes that are swollen. Tsukishima chokes. Daichi could blink, and all his capillaries, taunt from deprivation and lack of proper hydration could snap faster than Daichi's last nerve. "What the fuck." He blurts, peering. "Wait that is him. What."

"Can he even read?" Tsukishima comments.

"Maybe he's developing new interests!" Yachi beams.

Tsukishima on the other hand, does not have enough faith in Kageyama to believe that.

He attempts to return back to his work.

But Kageyama is in a library . He pauses, lowering his pencil. He takes another second to do a tripletake.

He cranes over the back of his chair, and quickly digs out his phone.

It’s as rare as a mothman sighting. If anything, he can probably have Kuroo (who for all his advanced placement exams in the science department to prepare for college, can automatically revert back to caveman awe at the concept of “fire” and “social etiquette skills” and “common sense” at the sight of Bokuto), bid Tsukishima twenty dollars that this isn’t happening right now.

Actually, he could probably bet anyone and he’d make bank as they cash in on the idea that he really didn’t see Kageyama, who’s probably illiterate past deciphering badly captioned volleyball YouTube videos, in a library of all places.

 

Then, as his camera opens to reveal another snapshot of Kageyama, Tsukishima hesitates, eyeballing the scene once more. He lowers his phone, as if it’s his camera quality that’s smearing such a disdained expression on the boy’s face.

Nope. It’s still there even in real life. 

Then again, Kageyama always looks discomforted. Annoyed. It’s just his face. And probably how he really is feeling too, whenever he’s around Tsukishima.

Yet.

He watches Kageyama nearly drop his stack of books (and he reads ?) as the boy he’s talking to leans closer. But Kageyama is an overgrown tree stump with the face of God's punishment; there's no way people would mess with him. 

Then he thinks about Hinata. And their classmates from before who mocked Kageyama's work. Well.

Discreetly, he looks back once more.

---

Kageyama knew the library was an evil place. There’s a reason why he desperately avoided it through his first year in high school- and no, it wasn’t an excuse, it’s a justifiable reason.

Exhibit A would be the fact that he has no idea how to navigate around a library.

Exhibit B, would be this upperclassman that Kageyama talked to because he got lost in a public library, and he either had to suck it up and ask someone for help, or leave and essentially admit that wandering around for half an hour was all for nothing.

He chose Option One, and he can hear God and Satan joining for their weekly brunch on May 5th, 2020 during 16:43:20 military time, laughing as all the planets align and mock Kageyama Tobio located on planet Earth, country Japan, Sendai, Karumai Iwate prefecture, in the downtown public library. 

He should’ve never came. No point in investigating the unknown when there was no need to. Then again, he already finished all his volleyball magazines, and he earlier supposed if there was any place that was going to have material on volleyball, it would’ve been here.

That was a trap.

Must’ve been.

Because now he’s five seconds behind on this entire conversation he’s holding with Satoshi-senpai, because its undertone and inferred context is going by way too fast for Kageyama to properly digest, so he’s literally getting whiplash from the speed this is going-

“So, what about it?”

"...Huh?” As if that could give him enough time for his brain to reconnect back to WiFi as it lags behind on this entire scenario.

“This evening? Hanging out? Kageyama?"

Play dumb.

"Who's Kageyama?"

Not that dumb!

 

Satoshi stares at him.

Kageyama stares back.

 

Ohmygod. Think. ThinkThinkThinkThink.

Kageyama can't think.

He relies on instinct.

"Volleyball." 

Instincts bad

 

"Uh. I mean. Hanging out, like for. Volleyball practice?” Nice save. Satoshi said he played volleyball earlier, after helping Kageyama pick out the magazines and books. And maybe, maybe, Satoshi will notice the obvious, that Kageyama is skirting around any possibility of accidentally hanging out with him as friends. Because they're not friends. They don't even play volleyball together.

This was a mistake.

“And here I thought all these books were for show,” Satoshi snorts, tapping his stack that he helped him check-out, and Kageyama blinks, and nearly drops a glower. He’s well aware his expression can be somewhat threatening, at least according to Hinata, but, he also takes that with a grain of salt, because as proven many times, Hinata is a dumbass. “But no, I was thinking we can hang out, go get food, or,” and suddenly, he leans forward, and he must have zero spatial skills (something that innately comes to Kageyama at least, useful since he’s a setter), because if he did then he would’ve realised how close and invasive he is in Kageyama’s personal space right now (or maybe he’s like Hinata or Bokuto, and is oblivious when it comes to these things). “Hang out at each others’ houses.”

“Oh. Sorry. I want to play volleyball,” Kageyama answers honestly. “So I don’t want to.”

Satoshi stares, recoiling slightly. “Awe. That’s cute,” and Kageyama can’t really read others- knows that. But there’s something about his words that provokes the corners of his scowl, something about it feels off.

Kageyama may not read others well, but he has experienced patronisation well enough to identify at first glance.

But Satoshi is nice.

And very much not like Oikawa-senpai, who is equally patronising, but is different because he's an utter admirable asshat.

Meanwhile Satoshi even helped him check his books out. 

He also told him he even had to check out books, and no , couldn’t just walk out with them.

“But c’mon-”

“I don’t want to,” Kageyama answers genuinely, before hesitating, his characteristic boldness faltering at the way Satoshi reacted to his rejection. His smile seems less sincere, plastered and calculated, and Kageyama recognises the intense broil of nerves and sometimes resentment, glassing the boy’s eyes. He witnesses that a lot on court- especially from the other side of the net.

But never off it.

And the unease intensifies. It's as if there’s an opponent who’d use undermining tricks in game, or he's with Hinata who's willing to steal his food.

 

He takes another step back, and cringes, startled as his head knocks against something hard- a book shelf.

This time, he doesn’t attempt to conceal his glare.

“Hey, don’t look at me like that, I just think you’re cute-”

“I don’t think you’re cute,” he replies candidly, though, even he can detect the adopted sharpness in his voice, the scorn in his growl.

Satoshi snorts. “See, this is what I mean, you look so angry it’s adorable-”

And Satoshi wasn’t like this earlier.

Earlier he was helpful.

 

This isn’t beneficial to him at all.

 

Suddenly, he feels almost as if calling Oikawa nicer than Satoshi was blasphemous and jinxed this entire conversation.

“Don’t make light of my emotions,” Kageyama remarks stiffly, insulted.

“See, cute .”

And he’s doing it again , and suddenly, Kageyama feels less angry, less of his usual temper and disorientated and broiling frustration, and more of something sludgy, slow and just as intense-

Upset.

He feels upset because he hates it when people steamrolls over how he feels, doesn’t take him seriously or mocks and spits on his feelings and Kageyama hates ( hates ) how it bubbles through his bloodstream, cranking the heat of his gut until it sends all his organs inflamed and cramping-

He just wants to stay angry, he doesn’t want to be viscerally sad, too. It's just annoying because he can't convey exactly wants to say, has problems with executing social situations and attitudes properly, and the worst part is normally he can't tell until notified, but people never tell him and instead they respond gradually- too slow for Kageyama to notice, until it erupts, rattling Kageyama's understanding of their relationship and it always feels sudden and unwarranted even if it was but he just didn't know-

And maybe that's his fault. But people never sympathise on his behalf, it's always him being dumb or dense or-

Cute.

And that's a new word, but it carries the exact same condescending timbre and-

“Whatever,” and he’s horrified by the way it’s not just anger splitting his tone syllables and clipping his tempo: the way his pitches shift too, is easy to recognise as something more distressed than just easy and understandable anger that requires no second glance.

He feels the capillaries of his eyes dry as they widen at the way a smile, something indiscernible and unperturbed etches into Satoshi’s expression.

“See, hostile but cute.”

 

He’s being taunted. Kageyama knows that. He coughs, quickly slamming the side of his face against the bookshelf, feeling the spines of the books molding against his cheek. He’s pissed. But he can't even be mad because if he continues blasting out his anger, he knows it'll be turned against- learned from his mistakes.

In this case, it'd just make Satoshi view it affectionately even more and Kageyama just wants to be taken seriously. His jaw jerks, irritated, grinding his cheek into paste and sawing down his teeth.

He swivels his right eye to face Satoshi, and stills at the way Satoshi appears undisturbed by his discomfort, and what the hell .

Feeling something simultaneously cold and distant yet equally fiery clog his arteries, shutting down his nervous system for just a sec-

He attempts to shove his way out of here.

 

If he can’t talk his way out of it, then might as well just use brute force. A mindset that Kageyama finds very adaptable and easy.

That is, until he feels something hot encircle his forearm, pulling, and he nearly drops his stack of books.

“What the heck -” he whirls around, bristling, only for his anger to spike into something more of concern at the way Satoshi stalks closer, grip still tight on his forearm. “What’s your problem -” he hisses, nearly snarling but he can’t even be mad, can't rely on volume to convey his frustrations because the librarian already went GTA driver-intensity at him earlier for shouting (but he was just talking )-

“But you seemed interested-”

“In volleyball.” He states, already seeing where this is going.

“In me! You even thanked me and you were nice and obviously flirting-”

His mind nearly shuts down.

Now he’s not even unsettled.

Just stupefied.

Flirting?  And was this all his fault? It wouldn't be Satoshi's if he misinterpreted. His softened resolve suddenly clicks rigidly back into place, solidifying underneath reason. It's not his fault. Fuck that. He didn't flirt at all, just asked for the damn sports section, and it's not his problem if Satoshi misread his actions. 

“I wasn't!” And now he's shouting, only aware of it by the sudden hisses of other visitors of the library, but he’s too busy dealing with Satoshi to bother.

“No he wasn’t.”

“Yeah what he sa-” Kageyama takes a second, and nearly breaks his neck by how fast his head snaps over to his left. Tsukishima glances back, unimpressed, taking a long sip out of his strawberry milk carton.

“Why are you here?” Satoshi snaps.

“Yeah, why are you here?” Kageyama echoes dumbly.

Tsukishima stares, deadpanned. “Are you stupid?” Tsukishima says shortly, completely ignoring Satoshi’s attention.

“Who are you?” Snarls Satoshi, and Kageyama’s brow crinkles. Was he always so aggressive? His jaw working on the sides of his tongue now, his distress pitches, resurfacing at the sudden and drastic change in atmosphere, Kageyama makes another attempt to yank himself away, but Satoshi’s grip is strong , and no wonder he’s a sports player. 

“Not like it matters, but I’m his friend,” Tsukishima gestures lazily at Kageyama. “Who are you?” He returns with equal if not more judgment.

“We’re friends?” Kageyama blurts, before taking a second, realising his own mistake even before processing Tsukishima’s expression of utter disgust and ‘are-you-fucking-stupid’. 

“We’re teammates,” Tsukishima finally clarifies, voice steely and looking even less amused by Kageyama’s presence, and he sounds rather regretful for even stepping in, which is rude.

“You don’t seem like you’re on good terms,” Satoshi remarks lightly.

“We’re not,” Kageyama flatly inputs.

“Are you-” Tsukishima snarls. “Yeah, we’re not on good terms because I can’t deal with your denseness .” He whips back to Satoshi, who in turn, knocks his chin towards Tsukishima, almost challengingly. However, any attitude is completely decimated by the fact that Tsukishima doesn’t even have to lift his head from looking down on Satoshi just due to height. “We have a comfortable relationship of hating each other. However, I think nothing here is mutual. You’re making him uncomfortable.”

“Mind your own business, if he has an issue he can speak for himself,” Satoshi growls.

“I did,” Kageyama says helpfully, cheerful at the prospect that Tsukishima isn’t here to make fun of him, and if anything, seems to be his exit ticket out of this situation.

“He did,” Tsukishima repeats. “Sounds like really, you’re just pressuring him because you don’t care about what he says anyways.” And Kageyama hunches, joints locking in place. And always, in these situations, he was the antagonist. People might've given him the benefit of a doubt, pitied him because 'it's not like he would've known,' but no one's ever explicitly labeled him as innocent in these scenarios. His own obliviousness was always considered the criminal of an ordeal, even if it can't be helped.

Heat traces his waterline and the expanse of his stomach.

“Kageyama,” and Satoshi's hand, still clamped on Kageyama’s shoulder tightens, and all that previous warmth shatters as frost and ice blossoms over it.  And Kageyama jerks back, only to feel vague discomfort (and it’s on the range of fear ) intensify as it remains viced and crushing. And he almost felt okay. Felt fine, knowing that someone was nearby, even if it’s someone as agonizingly pretentious as Tsukishima, but he’s not, because there’s Satoshi grabbing him and not listening and ignoring what he’s saying and he hates being ignored-

“Kageyama,” and Tsukishima sounds angry and Kageyama is really trying , he is he’s- “look he’s clearly anxious, just leave him alone.” And oh. Tsukishima’s not angry at him

Kageyama swallows, his throat dry and exfoliating his voice, sanding it into something gritty and pathetic. 

“Are you uncomfortable with me?” Satoshi demands. “Tell him.”

“I am," Kageyama says bluntly. "Actually, I think I implied it many times." Probably.

"Kageyama's pretty honest about his thoughts, even when the situation doesn't call for it," Tsukishima expounds, and Kageyama feels mildly offended. "You're choosing to ignore what he's saying, that's all. And you're grabbing him, you know he doesn't want to stay here if you're doing that." Tsukishima rationalises. 

Satoshi looks a lot less kind than he did earlier. Almost absent-mindedly, Kageyama decides he never really looked kind in the first place, anyways.

But how did Kageyama just not notice? He knows he has trouble with these things, at least Yachi kindly told him so. He didn’t think it was that bad though, did he just never notice the way anger carved Satoshi’s glare this entire time or-

“If you continue grabbing onto him the way you are, I’ll call over the librarian,” Tsukishima warns, and Kageyama nearly scoffs, because she’s old , but she was definitely vicious and looked prepared to use her needles to knit a scarf out of Kageyama’s intestines when he raised his voice earlier. 

“Stay out of this!” And Satoshi’s voice is rising and Kageyama hears chairs being pushed and his vision of bleeding colours and smeared verbs and blurry nouns barely differentiates the sudden strangers walking closer- “Kageyama, let’s talk outside-”

“I don’t want to talk with you,” and he finally wretches himself out of Satoshi’s grasp, his shoulder stinging. And before he knows it, he’s suddenly slinking next to Tsukishima, on the side that’s farthest away from Satoshi, and Kageyama doesn’t feel fear, isn’t afraid of others, has other things to worry about that are way more important than caring about those, yet, he finds himself unable to glance back at Satoshi’s expression, nervous about what he'll see. “I have to go,” he sputters, awful at lying.

“You said you weren’t busy,” Satoshi retorts, voice brittle.

“I need to go study,” he retorts, voice dry.

Satoshi stares at him.

“I've known you for five minutes and I already know that's a goddamn lie. You? Studying-" 

Kageyama lours, knowing very well how valid that is.

“Hey man, just back off-” and it’s a guy that Kageyama doesn’t know, but now, stepping in, along with other people in the library staring, and Kageyama hopes God knocks him the fuck out right the fuck now, because he’s being a disturbance and-

Oh.

Their leers are directed at Satoshi, not one at him.

Relief and a sense of safety pampers the spiking adrenaline, and he clenches the back of Tsukishima’s shirt.

"We're in a library, stop bothering people. People come here to read, not to flirt, don't harass random people to get laid," scoffs a girl with multiple earrings. Kageyama flushes as she catches him making eye contact with him, and as she smiles, almost comfortingly, and he jerks away, feeling his face heat up, as he's somewhat humiliated by attracting so much unwanted attention. His grip on Tsukishima's outfit tightens.

“Stop using me as a meat shield.” Tsukishima hisses, tugging his shirt back.

“Tall people are our first lines of defense, Japan will thank you for your sacrifice.” Kageyama snarks, twisting the material around his fingers, and his eyes flicker back up, and the girl's smile broadens even more, and suddenly, he feels incredibly and uncharacteristically shy, and tugs harder.

"Oi, you fu-" Tsukishima cranes over his shoulder, disgust molding his stony countenance, though, something changes the moment his eyes land on Kageyama. 

"Oh. That's a rare sight." Tsukishima suddenly says, words muffled by his shoulder.

Kageyama blinks.

Tsukishima’s gaze suddenly trembles, darting quickly away, and with the way the overzealous and saturated lights that only indoor public buildings have highlight his face, he almost seems pink.

“Our friends are over there, and there are already people here because you're making such a commotion.” Tsukishima addresses Satoshi’s background blathering that Kageyama honestly started to crank into white noise, gesturing behind him. Kageyama turns around, to see a table with familiar faces staring back at him, and Sugawara, standing up. And coming over? 

Icicles melt in the pits of his stomach, scraping his gut clean and churning it like wet cement. He turns to Tsukishima, tugging harshly on his shirt.

“What don’t touch me-”

“Suga,” he murmurs. “Sugawara is coming over and he looks angry -”

This time, Tsukishima freezes, whirling around, eyes wide. “Fuck.”

“We’re done for.” 

“No,” Tsukishma snorts. “He is,” he points to Satoshi, who’s now being reprimanded by a middle-aged woman who looks ready to kick off her Adidas slipper and beat his ass with it. “C’mon,” and he suddenly grabs Kageyama’s wrist, tugging him over to the table.

Kageyama stumbles, and half expects Tsukishima to let go and wait impatiently for him to stabilise himself, only to pause numbly, as Tsukishima halts, fingers still loosely circling Kageyama’s wrists.

And Kageyama’s wrists aren’t thin.

Yet Tsukishima’s fingers, long and terrifyingly so, make them appear so.

Huh.

“Hurry up, don’t look so dazed. You might even convince people you’re actually thinking about something for once in your life.” 

Kageyama scowls, hooked out of his foggy thoughts (and he wasn’t sure what he was trying to even decipher from that stew of emotions), and continues walking.

Tsukishima’s only lets go of his hand when they sit down, and Kageyama doesn’t have time to think about how that makes him feel as Yachi automatically smothers him with concern and a question about why he suddenly was in the library.


[#3 walmart's parking lot. 4pm. bring your own weapon. let's go]

 

“You ever just get punched in the face by some stranger?”

“No.”

“Oh,” Hinata blinks, peeling his bun like an onion because he has the table manners of the devolved human species. “Kageyama did.”

Yachi drops her food.

“Deserved,” Tsukishima murmurs, unbothered as he numbly shoves aside his food that Kuroo attempted to spoon into his mouth earlier. He doesn’t even know why he’s here. This isn’t even mandatory.

He glances at Kenma, wearing only plaid boxers and an inside-out shirt, who woke up seven minutes ago to find the entire Karasuno and Nekoma team setting up a grill in his backyard, with Tanaka and Nishinoya trying to cook one of the raw chicken breasts on a mound of dirt by using a magnifying glass underneath the sun. Apparently, Kenma was the only one to not know about the joint party hosted at his own house.

At least now that he’s awake, Kuroo’s now locked in the upstairs bathroom. Daichi personally took it on himself to block the bathroom from the outside by shoving a couch in front of the door. Tsukishima thought he looked suspiciously enthusiastic while doing so.

“Wait, where is Kageyama? I thought you guys were coming together,” Yamaguchi frowns.

“We did, but he’s in the kitchen trying to ice his eye.”

Tsukishima looks up from his untouched food. “Wait. What?”

“Stupid! You say I have bad attention but you clearly weren’t listening to my story-”

“No, I mean, he got punched now?” And if it’s from one of their teammates, that’s fair, but it’d be surprising from either one of their teams, because honestly, while Kageyama’s definitely unbearable, they’re both in a confined space with Tanaka and Yamamoto- he didn’t think Kageyama would be the one to be punched out of their entire selection of people.

“No. We stopped by Walmart to buy Sprite for the party so we can later do that thing I saw in a YouTube video where people pour alcohol into their eyeballs like shots, except since we’re underage we can use carbonated soda-”

“That’s worse,” Lev says casually.

“Probably, since it’s carbonated,” Yamaguchi nods amiably.

“Oh. Yeah, that too.” Lev agrees, oblivious to the way everyone looked up at their food by his open-ended statement.

“...Right.” Tsukishima finally says shortly as Lev fails to elaborate.

Lev continues to pour more goat milk into his bowl of stolen, offbrand Lucky Charms from Kenma’s cabinet. “I’m Russian. You know.” He shrugs. “Vodka.”

Tsukishima, not wanting to be associated with this bunch, looks away for another place to run off to, only to suddenly clasp gazes with Yaku, who’s staring at them from the foldable table right next to them, judging them.

“I’m not with them,” Tsukishima blurts defensively.

“-then Kageyama got into a fistfight with some guy in the parking lot-” Hinata continues.

“That's a lot going on,” Yachi murmurs, scooping more rice onto Yamaguchi’s plate.

“But lost because the guy had a gun-”

“This isn’t America. Guns aren’t just legal because you have a beard or are a citizen,” Tsukishima intervenes. He has to be exaggerating.

“No, like a Nerf gun." Hinata scowls through his fried rice. Tsukishima clicks his tongue at his messiness. "And then he started pelting Kages from across the parking lot,” Hinata answers flippantly, seemingly more focused on snatching the meat off the electric girdle before their seniors can rush by and steal all of it again. “And then Kageyama got mad and the guy whacked him with the gun. And now he has a bruise,” he finishes.

“Is he okay?” Yamaguchi stares, looking torn between laughing and being very concerned.

Tsukishima, having no sympathy for the stupid, snorts.

“Physically, yes-”

“He got punched with a gun in a fistfight, Hinata-” Yamaguchi says incredulously.

“But mentally, no.” Hinata says, surprising Tsukishima that he even knew enough vocabulary to know words like ‘mentally’, or really, anyone words that contain three syllables or more.

“Why were they fighting?” 

Hinata blinks. “Uh. I don’t know, I was too busy making sure Bakayama didn’t shake our sodas too much while using it like a bat on the guy,” he confesses shamelessly.

"Is. Is he okay?" Yamaguchi stammers, looking less amused now.

"Who? Kageyama or the guy?" Hinata hums, while like a child, is picking out his greens and passing them onto Yamaguchi's plate, whose entire platter is a stack of abandoned vegetables, olives, and mushrooms. Tsukishima, feeling his eyes strain in their socket as he physically cannot roll them back any farther, begins to snatch a bunch of spinach before Yamaguchi's lunch becomes a makeshift compost bin for Hinata. 

"Kageyama only has a bruise, right?" Yamaguchi comments. "I feel bad for him, but I wanna know how the guy is doing."

Hinata pauses, as if thinking. Tsukishima snorts at how intense he looks. Probably his first time trying it. "Probably bad."

"Oof. Kageyama got him good?"

"Huh? No. He got run over by a truck."

Tsukishima's no longer laughing. He looks up from his plate.

Yachi's grip on her chopsticks, midair and returning to her plate after stealing food from Yamaguchi's set, slips, and the slice of broccoli slaps wetly against the table.

Tsukishima stands up, done with this conversation, only to realise Yaku is still staring at them, squinting even harder now, spoonful of rice frozen in hand, halfway to his mouth that appears to be unhinged not because he's eating, but because Hinata's essentially verbalising a story that's probably an episode from Memoir of a Murder.

Tsukishima grimaces, and wanders into the house to find a trashbin.

He finally finds the kitchen, where he assumes the trashcan for used disposable plates would be, only to nearly go into cardiac arrest as a very loud thump rattles from the room next to him.

Rounding to the source of the noise that can’t be louder than his heart right now, he slams open the door, only for the door to bound back, smacking against something, hard .

Wincing, he lets the door creak close, before it suddenly yanks open, revealing Kageyama.

Tsukishima’s rising heart rate and blood pressure deflates, his system automatically and voluntarily shutting down at the sight of him.

He’s not doing this right now.

He begins to walk away, until Kageyama’s accusatory shout forces him to turn back around: “hey, asshole, at least apologise!”

He pauses. He did just deck Kageyama in the face with a door.

“Sorry.”

“You don’t sound sorry.”

“It’s because I’m not.” 

“Dick.”

Fair enough.

He rounds to Kageyama, only to sharply inhale.

Coloured like a mottled leaf, a bruise blotches Kageyama’s right cheek, high and splotted. Glancing behind Kageyama, he sees a cramped bathroom, the toilet just behind the door.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to wash it,” Kageyama grimaces, gesturing towards his bruise. And Tsukishima frowns, taking a step forward, and leans slightly closer. Upon closer indication, the swelter has split: revealing a thin laceration tearing at the tender flesh.

“You should ask Kenma for something to sterilise it. And a bandaid.”

Kageyama frowns. “I don’t like bandaids. It’ll hurt when I rip it off.” And Tsukishima, blinks, startled by such a childish response. 

“Stupid, can’t handle pain?” He chuckles.

“Probably, since I can’t handle you ,” Kageyama grumbles.

His laugh flattens out. “Asshole.” He pauses. Then, almost thoughtfully, says, "that's probably the smartest thing I've ever heard you say." He walks to the kitchen, ignoring Kageyama's incoherable stumbling of shouts that follow. Drowning Kageyama's unintelligent insults into white noise, he finally finds a trashcan, and dumps his empty plate into it. And before he thinks his actions through (and Tsukishima doesn’t know how to feel about his increasing impulsiveness, the way that he’s slowly losing a sense of meticulous control over all his interactions, and even more concerning, how he doesn’t seem to mind it), he roughly scruffs Kageyama’s hair.

“Oi, what the hell you picking a fight-”

And honestly, that’s a valid response because Hey, Yeah, What the fuck is he doing.

Tsukishima, great at improvising and concealing his existential crisis that's currently knocking down the reputation he built like a poorly constructed Jenga tower, just smirks in hopes that it looks normal enough to hide the fact that he’s screaming inside and planning to fling himself into the nearest ocean or YMCA pool when given the chance-

“Here, I’ll ask Kenma for hydrogen peroxide,” he stomps over Kageyama’s shrieks, not like they're any louder than Tsukishima’s heartbeat that’s too sharp and too profound that to create such a thud it must be knocking against the inside of his ribcage and beating against his sternum-

“Stay here.” He commands, and before Kageyama can retort with actual words instead of his typical monkey screaming, he storms away, to find Kenma. Not because he’s running.

Because Tsukishma Kei does not run, especially from someone as irrelevant as Kageyama Tobio.

--

“Nope, you’ll totally need stitches.”

“Stop lying,” though, Tsukishima feels his resolution cave as Kageyama sounds less sure of himself. His lips twitch at the way Kageyama flickers his eyes over at Tsukishima cautiously, as if attempting to gauge if he’s really fibbing or not, before making contact and scurrying back down to his calloused fingers.

He nearly laughs.

Stupid. Almost endearing, if Kageyama was not a six-foot monstrous mitochondria cell of a volleyball team, who probably has questions as to why the alphabet is in numerical math.

“I’m not, it’s so deep, gotta ask Kenma for the sewing kit.” Tsukishima knots his lips into an unconvincing frown, as he peels off bandaid’s wax backing to expose the adhesive. And Kageyama had earlier complained and attempted to dislocate Tsukishima’s ankle so that he couldn’t reach the cabinet with the bandaids anymore, ultimately making a ruckus as he nearly shattered his skull against the kitchen floor. When that happened, Tsukishima was scorned by Daichi, though not for making a nuisance by bothering Kageyama, but instead, for being making a nuisance in general because apparently Daichi was five seconds away from helicoptering someone out the window by their ankles because Kuroo broke out of his jail and is a freeman.

“I’m not that stupid.”

“But you’re pretty dense.”

Kageyama, looking seconds away from finding the nearest biggest stone to bash Tsukishima’s head in, slouches farther, snapping his head away.

“C’mon, look at me,” Tsukishima snorts, snapping his fingers in front of Kageyama's face, coughing down a kind scoff at the way he jolts in his seat. “I’m almost done,” he snarks, ignoring the strange fondness in his tone (and he's not fond at nor endeared by Kageyama, it's just he's not meeting his usual standard irritation for him, because Tsukishima is mature enough to admit they're loosely defined as friends, though, they have more spats than good interactions). He’s not really close with Kageyama. For sure they hang out, especially being in the same age group it really binds them together. And they’ve slept in the same room and currently strive for a single goal, so they really can’t afford to not cooperate on an executive level. They were bound to at least be on understanding terms that are ‘good’ in a respectful sense, even if not friendly.

But they’re not close . Being close infers to a fundamental shift in their relationship, something that they’re simply not compatible enough to become.

Tsukishima felt content with where he is.

So he doesn’t understand why he suddenly feels something cold inject into his bloodstream, stifling this atmosphere and disturbing his tranquility at the acceptance of their distance. 

This is fine, and it’s good . No point in ruining something that’s already the best it could be. He can’t imagine allowing Kageyama to cross their boundaries and knowing too much, the way that Yamaguchi just does due to experience and time.

(But isn’t he already close with him, in a measured, logical perspective? Isn't he technically close with the rest of the first-years? It’s not like Tsukishima hangs out with anyone else from school, or really anyone else in general. And none of them have time to really socialise due to practice and competitions, either. And he doesn't mind being alone, but he certainly seeks their companionship, but they're not close, and he doesn't consider himself such, either).

He pastes the Spongebob bandaid onto Kageyama, realising he was staring at him expectantly while Tsukishima dealt with Existential Crisis #04 of this week.

Tsukishima’s long ago decided to directly ignore his constant midlife crisis that he left ongoing since he really can’t determine when’s the middle of his life going to be, and therefore, easily represses his internalised verbalised keyboardsmashes of emotions.

 

“You’re thinking about something.”

Tsukishima stills from where he was flattening on the bandaid by smoothing it over with the pad of his thumb. 

“Mm. It’s something that people with common sense constantly and unconsciously do,” Tsukishima replies coolly, ignoring how Kageyama jerks in response. 

 

Was Tsukishima always so expressive? There’s no way someone like Kageyama would be intuitive enough to notice something he purposefully hid. He’s not like Yamaguchi. Or does Kageyama just know enough about him? Kageyama is a freak who understands everyone on their team without trying. Like Hinata.

Even though both of them have silly putty for grey brain matter, they somehow are insightful in their own ways because even god knew it’d be unfair to make people as dumb as them without compensation, or else Mother Nature would have exterminated their kind at birth.

 

“C’mon King.” Tsukishima scowls. “Let’s go, so everyone can see the fruits of your labor.”

“Fruits?”

Tsukishima doesn’t think he can physically roll his eyes any farther back. “Yeah. Your bruises.”

“I didn’t want to get into a fight with him-” he leers. Tsukishima stares, deadpanned. 

“How did you end up getting into a fight with him, then?” He inquires, feeling casually suspicious but not enough to really give a shit. 

“Uh.”

Tsukishima raises an eyebrow.

“Remember my classmate?”

“Shortstack?” Tsukishima can’t think of anyone other than Hinata who matches Kageyama’s IQ and grade.

“No! I mean. Hinata was there too, but. The other one. From the other day.”

And Tsukishima, for all his intelligence, would not have been able to piece together his line of thinking if not for the fact that Tsukishima has only visited Kageyama’s classroom once, and instantly regretted it.

“Oh. You mean your two bullies who are awful at being bullies?”

“Yes! I ran into Miyamura in the parking lot.” He can only assume Miyamura was one of the two classmates that Tsukishima already can’t recall distinct visual features of past a bowl cut.

“And?”

“And then I ended up like this.”

Tsukishima stares. And squints.

Kageyama owlishly blinks back.

He squints harder.

“Whatever. Come outside, they probably ate all the meat, though.”

---

There are many things Kageyama would not admit.

One is his growing curiosity for Tsukishima Kei, an utter asshole with a spine and figure of a plastic bendy straw that Kageyama could flatten with a stomp.

The other is the fact that he got into a fistfight with Miyamura Rei at a Walmart parking lot at the most uneventful time of four in the afternoon, and nearly got the boy run over by a backing truck after getting clocked in the head a couple times by a stolen Nerf gun.

 

If anything, when he ran into him, it was majorly anticlimactic, since Kageyama was in the middle of waiting for Hinata, who had ran back into the store to buy ketchup. Which left him alone and awkward, when Miyamura spotted him lounging outside. And then the boy wanted to converse with him, even though they don't talk outside of school, nor much in school either, since he's been acting particularly strange after Tsukishima made that rather unexpected and terrifyingly uncharacteristic visit to their classroom that one time.

Then, Miyamura said some words that carried a tone of warning that honestly, Kageyama supposes he would label as threatening only after considering the incomprehensibility of his phrases that were uttered like a WikiHow summoning chant. The fact that Miyamura started to pelt him with his own celery stalks, ripping apart his own groceries as fuel, was a rather convincing variable as well.

But before Kageyama can properly fight him via finding a Very Big Rock and probably end up on national news as a teenager with a promising athletic career throwing away all his future due to brutal homicide and using a nearby chunk of parking lot asphalt as a murder weapon, a cashier who looked very tired and very underpaid, ran out and started shouting at Miyamura. 

Though by this point Kageyama was suffering from a sudden bout of dizziness because Miyamura had headrammed him and clocked him with a fucking gun -

Looking back at it, Kageyama can start to piece together the situation. Miyamura was caught shoplifting. Considering how he witnessed Miyamura unzip his oddly bulky jacket to reveal the packaged Nerf gun, he supposes that was the stolen merchandise, rather than anything in his bags.

Not like Kageyama cared, because by that point, he was trying to take Miyamura’s head off with the end of his Sprite bottles, ignoring the way that Hinata had returned and tried to deadweight his body by anchoring his stupid self around his leg. 

Miyamura, being an absolute Coward who can’t be held responsible or accountable for his actions, attempted to make a break into it.

Kageyama, Hinata, and the cashier witnessed in a fraction of a second, a backing four-wheel drive ram into Miyamura and essentially send him crumpling like a foldable chair, effectively ending Miyamura’s life, his sense of peace, and the cashier’s job all in one go.

Kageyama regained a little bit of his lost ten-years after that incident when the Walmart pharmacist came out minutes later, looking very out of place and very underprepared for action, confirming that Miyamura was actually still breathing, and no, he wasn’t dead, at least not physically. The truck driver also cried after hearing he wouldn't be associated with a murder.

 

Kageyama slowly sets down his beef kabob, and glances up at the rest of the table.

Being well aware there’s absolutely no way he’s recovering from that, and coming to simple acceptance with those terms because he’s already given up on life, he feels a sense of contentness and almost terrifyingly hollow nostalgia, being seated here.

“Kageyama? You okay? You looked lost in thought.” Yamaguchi suddenly observes, glancing at him, concerned. "Also pale. Both things being weird given all the food in front of you."

Kageyama has an intense anime flashback to trying to play baseball with a Sprite bottle and Miyamura’s head.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he replies tonelessly.

“Uh huh," he says, sounding extremely unconvinced, leaving Kageyama feeling vaguely insulted. "Right. Fine.” Yamaguchi says slowly.

“Oh, jeez, baby, what happened to you?” A very loud and unexpected voice rattles Kageyama out of his stew of thoughts, and his eyes dart nervously to the direction of the speaker, realising that Kuroo’s talking about him . Kuroo has halted right across from where he’s seated, standing behind Yachi and Kiyoko with a disgustingly softened paper plate of just mayo, that he has earlier unfortunately informed them that he was planning on eating like pudding.

Kageyama’s almost tempted to ask what happened to him , for him to be going through something that resulted like this, instead.

“He got into a fight, cool, right? The bruise and everything! Bad boy,” Yamaguchi snickers, and Kageyama shrugs at that, painfully swallowing a too-large scoop of rice. Who cares if it hurts. As long as he finishes before Hinata.

“Hm,” Kuroo hums wisely. “Looks like someone smeared watery diarrhea across your eye,” he says sagely.

“Wow. Stop talking,” Kiyoko says tonelessly, not looking up from where she’s dropping more vegetables onto Yachi and Yamaguchi’s plates. Kageyama's eyes dart back, performing a doubletake at Yamaguchi's plate, which is just a mound of green and mushrooms. Poor Yamaguchi. He must want to grow taller.

“Say that again, and I’ll pee on your food.” Hinata proclaims.

“You stop talking as well,” and Kiyoko’s voice continues with its retained and composed indifference, yet, it’s the way that she stabs the dumpling a bit harder with her chopsticks, successfully tearing it naked as it collapses and splatters juices across Yamaguchi’s plate, does that make Kageyama feel particularly unsettled despite not being in the direct line of her scolding.

“This is discrimination,” Kuroo says as clear as he could while licking an entire glob of mayonnaise into his mouth using his fingers.

“Mhm,” Hinata rumbles while nodding his head in slow agreement, eyes closed.

“What is that?” Yachi questions meekly, pointing at Kuroo’s plate, and she hasn’t sounded this way since the beginning of the year.

Then again, Kageyama also feels mildly threatened by Kuroo. Not because of his presence, moreso because of the fact that his level of common sense dunks so wildly on an hour to hour basis, that it’s disconcerting and has given him harder whiplash than Naruto flashbacks.

“My child,” Kuroo answers casually, taking another lick of his plate.

“Get out,” Kiyoko states sharply, now using the back ends of her chopsticks to jab Kuroo harshly between the ribs. 

Kageyama has recently seen Kiyoko, Akaashi and Kenma hang out more and more- an odd yet understandable trio, and it’s somewhat terrifying to see more and more of those twos’ casually violent nature rub off on her. Kageyama has a suspicious feeling that if Yachi and Yamaguchi weren’t here, she would’ve ditched the rest of them to Kuroo’s grasp for Kenma's company by this point.

“Hey, I’m just showing your children the circle of life,” Kuroo replies haughtily. “Eat or be eaten.”

“That’s not how it works,” Kageyama says confidently. He’s seen Lion King .

“If even King knows, then you should feel ashamed,” Tsukishima leers, and Kageyama whips around, scowling, because this is what Tsukishima always does. He always feels a strange and disconnected need to insult Kageyama even if he wasn’t a part of the conversation or it had a peaceful demeanor.

It’s a superiority complex that Kageyama can’t climb over and it pisses him off-

“Oi, Babe here is super smart,” Kuroo says sharply, almost defensively, and places a heavy hand on Kageyama’s head, and Kageyama nearly goes into cardiac arrest, up until he remembers it's the hand that didn't scoop of mayonnaise. Kuroo then pets him once more, like a hat on his skull, his head bobbing it from its weight. “A smart boy.”

“Why did you call me babe?”

“Because you’re like one. A chick. When you open your mouth," he begins, mimicking a mouth with a hand, squabbling with it. "You know. Those chicks that imprint on the first thing that moves. A baby,” Kuroo answers placidly, shrugging.

“No I’m not," he retaliates, more confused than offended.

“Yes you are,” Yamaguchi snorts.

“Hey, you are too. You all are chicks.” Kuroo clarifies, before pointing at Tsukishima with a terrifying gaze that appears comical with the streak of mayo crusting on his chin. “You. You are one of those industrially farmed chicks, that was fed those unethical hormones and that’s why you’ve grown exponentially large, like Mario eating a shroom.”

“You sound like you’re doing shrooms,” Tsukishima retorts snippishly.

“Like mushrooms?” Kageyama clarifies, having lost the conversation long ago, and therefore, is pretty fine if he continues to listen on while out of the loop.

“Like drugs,” Yamaguchi answers, now singularly transferring the special fishballs Kiyoko is still uneventfully hording for just her side of the table, onto Yachi’s plate, creating some makeshift train between the three of them, with Hinata bouncing around at the end and opening his mouth for Yachi to every once in a while, drop some of the food into his bottomless gut like a motorised trash disposal. Like a Roomba but high-maintenance and self-destructive.

“Huh?”

“He doesn’t get it,” Kuroo snorts.

“Don’t explain it to him, he could barely wrap his mind around the existence of being able to inhale plant fumes,” Yamaguchi sighs, and Kageyama feels mildly offended, though startled as he’s starting to get the implications of this conversation.

 

Kageyama processes Yamaguchi's words once more.

And then, his eyes dart towards Yamaguchi's plate at a speed unknown to volleyball courts or mankind, fast enough to unscrew the rest of his head like a weight astral projected to space, as he stares at the mushrooms on Yamaguchi's plate. He gasps. "Yamaguchi-"


[#4 sharing a bed, #savelives]

 

Hinata, with his endless energy because the boy probably does a line of crushed Smarties for breakfast, is currently trying to prove to Kenma that he can eat his own ankle.

It’s nighttime.

This energy should not be here right now.

Partially prepared to do something drastic, and majorly unprepared in the sense that he has yet to decide if he’s going to fling Hinata or himself out the window and into the moon so hard that their dick falls off, he decides for safety precautions he should go to sleep quickly before he impulsively does something.

“You know, Daichi was really out there to kill us,” Miya Atsumu exhales, sounding breathless as he crushes his lungs by collapsing on his brother, who attempts to dislodge his jaw with the bottom of his foot.

Tsukishima has a feeling it’s simply because Daichi relishes in any chance to abuse his authority over them, a fair trade for how many years Idiot Squared has shaved off his life daily, and that explains why he and Sugawara took special care in making them suffer.

“Can’t wait till I’m a third year and abuse my authority. That Oikawa, ah , that bitch , I can’t tell if he’s doing this because he has a sadist streak or because I said he looked untrustworthy.” Osamu grumbles.

“It’s both,” and Tsukishima himself is startled that his own voice is mixed with all the other first and second years’ voices in the divided gymnasium as well, all of them chanting in unison, and they all glance at each other, startled though clearly amused.

“Shh, he’s on the other side of the wall. If he hears you, he’ll make all of us run another twenty laps tomorrow.” Kumini states strictly, from where he’s already on his phone like tens of other kids, their screen illuminating the dim room. 

“It’s weird,” Hinata hisses, his voice clearly meant to be a whisper but still ricocheting throughout the gym. “To sleep in the gym.”

It is.

Tsukishima assumed this school would’ve provided dorms, or makeshift ones at least, but to learn that instead they’d splay their futons on the gym floor is surprising. The gym, sectioned off into four corners and an area in the middle formed by drawn curtains, holds almost a hundred kids. 

It’s wide. The roof is too high, and the space around him is too much.

He doesn’t like it. Everything’s amplified here, and everything’s too open.

His eyebrow involuntarily twitches.

“Shut up, idiot-”

“No Bakayama,  you shut it-”

“Shh!” A third party voice.

“Oi, Tobio-kun-” Atsumu begins.

"Guys be quiet!" Someone snarks from somewhere.

“Hinata I will bash your head in and eat your brains like a soup in its skull-”

“Getting creative,” Tsukishima’s surprised by that. He didn’t think Kageyama could think that far.

“Dumbass you can’t eat brains like it’s soup it’s hard it’s solid are you STUPID-”

“I’ll pulverise it with an electric whisk and drink it like a smoothie using your spinal cord like a McFlurry straw-”

“STOP IT.” And Tsukishima’s body draws tight at the familiar voice booming from the other side of the collapsible wall.

“Sorry Daichi!” Hinata screams back, ultimately drawing in five more different prominent voices that shout for them to shut up from various parts of the gym.

Tsukishima, realising that sleep is getting unattainable if this continues because someone’s going to promptly murder the two (as deserved), sits up and clocks Hinata in the head, who snarls in response, before Kageyama shoves him face-down into a pillow.

A cheerful whispered ‘whoo’ echoes from a kid Tsukishima can’t make out in the corner of their section. 

"Nice save," someone murmurs sleepily.

“Oi, Tobio-kun,” and Tsukishima’s eyes narrow into slits, as they fixate on the figure crawling forward. “That was an interesting play, good response. I didn’t know you’d talk. Thought you were just all brawns, no brains," Atsumu backhandedly compliments.

“Huh?” And Kageyama’s kneeling back on his futon, back impeccably straight like the loser he is, inclining his head slightly at Atsumu who slithers towards him.

Tsukishima doesn’t mind Atsumu. Doesn’t think he should villainise a random teenager too much; that’s immature.

Yet.

That doesn’t mean just because someone’s behaviour is spawned from childishness, makes it acceptable. He thins his lips. Or innocent.

Whatever.

It’s none of his business.

He can tell that now, a bunch of other students are attempting to sleep, as the main source of light being their phones, is slowly dimming, almost completely diminishing, past people like Kenma and that bowlcut kid from Shiratorizawa.

The rustling of blankets unnerve Tsukishima, his senses heightened in such an unfamiliar setting (and if he looks too long, the rods and support beams twist and appear almost neverending, infinite, vast, and he’s too single and insignificant as the skies open up and everyone’s slowly escaping his grasp like the floors are stretching farther and farther away from him and)-

“You’re shivering,” observes Atsumu from the side, and Tsukishima nearly jerks up, until he realises that wasn't directed at him. 

The whispered statement impales his ears, encasing his eardrums with its own shattered fragments, being the only real solid and sharp sound with edges and a frame in the blurring noises. And he’s not desperate nor is he panicking, rather, he’s unsettled, and he twists his head around to focus on the source of the voice.

“Yeah.” And it’s King. “It’s cold,” and he sounds disgruntled. As always. Stupid. Should’ve worn an extra sweatshirt.

“You know. I’m basically a space heater.”

“You’re from space?”

Tsukishima refrains from rolling his eyes. Instead, he considers taking off his glasses. He should sleep. Close his eyes. He knows that despite feeling currently disembodied, almost surreal from the weirdness of their sleeping environment, he’ll fall asleep easily.

Yet-

“I can certainly take you to space- even farther, to heaven if you want me to.” Tsukishima reflexively smirks at the stupidity of that comment at that, and would’ve coughed out a laugh at the awfulness of that line, if not for the fact he doesn’t want it to echo in such a vast space with so many people to hear. 

Then again, people are definitely listening to this cheesy line. Though, semi-consciously, he can also detect whispered conversations between other excited friends also erupting around him. 

“What?”

“Tobio-kun,” Atsumu croons, and Tsukishima knows he’s just mentally twisting it into a leer. Though, he’s also not, since really, Atsumu does talk strangely- his voice oozing and porous, that if Tsukishima was easily swayed, he would’ve felt unnerved. Rather, he just feels disgusted, though he understands that Atsumu, while he definitely doesn’t have the purest of intentions, isn’t a sleaze either. He’s just self-centered when it comes to seeking entertainment, provoking others inconsiderately for his own amusement.

Tsukishima suddenly hears his inner-Yachi that he’s growing dangerously tolerant of, scorning him with: “you’re literally the same way.”

Well, it takes one to know one.

“Um. My futon is too small for two people,” and no , Tsukishima cannot believe that Kageyama literally just said that, as if there’s nothing wrong with this entire conversation past that.

He thinks a bit harder, and upon that clear mistake, accidentally unlocks his entire cabinet of repressed memories of Kageyama Tobio speaking without thinking, and nearly drowns in his own misery.

 

He decides he’s not surprised at all.

 

“We can lie on top of it. Tobio-kun, you act pretty cute, you know.”

“...Thanks. You too.”

Tsukishima is going to hit him.

But he also knows he can’t even be mad, because he’s pretty sure it was Sugawara who drilled it into Kageyama’s head, that if he ever got stuck with accepting a compliment, to just reflect it back.

Sugawara-san. This is the product of your work. Are you proud?

“See, this is what I mean! I can tell you have nothing behind your eyes, and it’s hilariously endearing! Like I stare at you for too long and your eyes are like an empty Word document. An Excel page.” Wheezes Atsumu. “No wonder Oikawa has an interest in you. I can tell Oikawa’s a strange one.”

“He is a strange one.” A pause. “Also I think Oikawa hates me.”

“He sure acts that way, doesn’t he,” a hum. “He cares about you. In fact, if he knew I was talking to you, he’d probably cut off my tongue.”

“Oikawa’s too much of a wuss to do that,” Kageyama states bluntly.

“Ha! I like you. C’mon. You’re cold, right?”

“No.”

“You’re still shivering."

“Stop flirting!” And Tsukishima jolts, startled for a second because did he say that out loud? Until he laxes, because no way . He has no interest in partaking in their one-sided conversation of Atsumu Miya attempting to get it on with a brick wall with the personality of soggy bread. He rewinds the voice, and deciphers that it’s Hinata who said that. Ew. He nearly shudders at the realisation that he shared a similar thought with someone like him. “Atsumu stop harassing Bakayama! It’s mean to do that when he isn’t even aware you’re doing it!”

“Yeah, wait, what the hell are you doing to my kouhai-” and it’s Tanaka , and Tsukishima thought he was knocked out but guess not and suddenly this situation is infinitely more vocal and volumised than it has to be-

“What the hell is going on over there! I can hear it’s my team screaming, shut up !” And Tsukishima this time, does emit a one-note bark of laughter at the sound of Daichi’s enraged voice shrieking from the other side of the gym, which triggers eight more screams of different voices from all the other corners.

"If my team is still awake, I'll work you to death until you fall asleep!" Oikawa screams, and that only serves to trigger more voices from various corners of their little world.

Including Ushijima’s unique tone, deadpanned yet billowing across from the west: “sleep is good for you, scientific studies show how sleep improves muscle memory and stimulates growth and metabolism the same way that fresh vegetables in cultivated farmer soil can-"

“GO TO SLEEP.” And this time, it’s Iwaizumi's unique timbre ultimately squashing Ushijima’s Bill Nye and CrashCourse crossover script.

“Yes, Iwa-chan, tell Ushiwaka off-”

“I meant you -” growls Iwaizumi back. 

“Listen, you’re such a riot, you caused this,” Atsumu murmurs to Kageyama, and Tsukishima stiffens as Atsumu reaches over, and rustles Kageyama’s already mussed hair. 

“STOP FLIRTING WITH HIM!” Hinata shirks, protective over Kageyama despite having the appearance of a sentient Raggedy-Ann doll, and Tsukishima groans, harmonising with at least every other student in a five-mile radius around him who’s also victim of Hinata’s terrifyingly soprano screeches.

“Wait, who’s harassing Tobio-chan?” Pitches Oikawa’s annoyingly high voice. 

“Atsumu!” And this time, it’s Sugawara. “Leave my underclassmen alone!” Except, it sounds more spoken out of obligation rather than emotion like Oikawa.

“Everyone just go to sleep!” And Tsukishima doesn’t even know which student this is, but it’s from the third-year corner.

“Atsumu, you prick,” Osamu snarls, voice significantly lower than the others’, roused by sleep. “Shut up before I steal your vocal chords.”

“God, now Daichi is definitely going to kill us in the morning,” groans one of the students in their section. Tsukishima decides it’s either Kumini or Kenma, both sounding similarly dead inside, though, interestingly enough, neither of them alive enough for Tsukishima to imagine speaking up at all.

“Just shut the fuck up,” spits Kyoutani from the corner.

“All of you guys just be quiet .”

“Kyoutani, don’t swear.”

“Tanaka. Get your nasty, crusty ass feet out of my bed.”

"Guys I lost my retainer."

“Atsumu, get back to bed,” and it’s Osamu, and Tsukishima sees in the dark, a shadowed figure suddenly yank Atsumu away from Kageyama, who’s blankly staring at the sudden kidnapping, eyes glossy in the dark.

Good riddance.

Tsukishima doesn’t know why he suddenly feels prepared for sleep, realising that his body was tense and jaw sore from gating his teeth tightly shut. Probably because Osamu finally exterminated the pest.

He removes his glasses, and gently snaps them back into resting position, placing it gingerly on his napsack.

He slowly sinks back into his futon, disturbed by how his feet stretch the bottom and despite this futon being in its largest size the brand offered, can’t pull up to his chin.

He scowls, and attempts to curl on his side to fix this imbalance, before pausing, his vision blearily without his glasses and obstructed by his hair, mussed by the pillow.

Kageyama is staring back at him, almost expectantly, curled upright on his futon.

Realising that their eyes clasp, he expects Kageyama to look away.

But because the boy is a freak of nature, Kageyama continues to stare hollowly at him, having absolutely no common decency or respect for others’ human rights.

“What?” He hisses, barely able to keep it at a minimum, relying on others’ hushed background dialogues to obscure his own.

“I’m cold.”

“Curl up, then.”

“I’m still cold.”

"Stop being cold, then."

"I- how?" And??? The fuck??? Is this AUDaCiTy? Tsukishima is going to spit on him.

“Ask Hinata to cuddle, then,” he scowls, tone acerbic with annoyance after being deprived by his sleep and subjected to the King's inconsideration. But he's offering real advice: those two are extremely close, and Tsukishima can’t imagine as to why they wouldn’t sleep together anyways, considering how they’re settled right next to each other. Tsukishima feels his blood still, sloshing and howling in his ears at the idea that maybe , just maybe , Kageyama is looking at him expectantly for a reason.

No.

He’s going to kill him.

“Hinata kicks in his sleep!”

“Yamaguchi,” he says firmly, no longer in denial as to what Kageyama wants, but adamantly refusing it as well. He can barely sleep with others in general, including Yamaguchi when they were younger and shared a bed whenever they slept over.

The King is an unknown anomaly, and if he remembers correctly, slept like a rock.

“I’m not close enough to Yamaguchi.”

“And you think you’re close enough to me?” And that’s a straight lie anyways- Yamaguchi is easily close enough to Kageyama, and it's not like Kageyama would be able to tell, nor have the social delicacy to not randomly ask for requests from people in general, whether or not they're close.

“Okay it’s just-” and Kageyama’s voice suddenly staccatos, jumping an octave or two as he grows clearly flustered, and Tsukishima hushes him, and his voice wavers, clipping back down hurriedly, “he’s nice . It’s hard to ask favours from him.”

“...so you want to ask me because I’m a dick.”

“Yeah. So I don’t feel as embarrassed or like I owe something in return.” Asshole .

And yet.

He almost feels impressed that Kageyama thought this far.

“That makes no sense.”

“Yes it does.”

“I’m not sharing my bodyheat with you.”

“You bandaged my cheek that one time.”

“Did I cuddle you afterwards? No. These are two completely uncorrelated instances.”

“But it shows you’re not that mean.”

“But I’m not a pushover. Just wear your other layers of clothes on top of this one.”

“That’s a lot of work.”

“This is a lot more work. ” And this is also just weird . He expects the King to have more shame, to blow up instantly from humiliation- Kageyama could barely ask anything from Tsukishima, probably aware that the other boy would instantly reject him or mockingly accept, both options followed by instant taunts over him asking for help from Tsukishima .

Yet. 

Something must’ve structurally changed in their relationship for Kageyama to bluntly ask, with uncharacteristic reluctance, and almost belief that he could persuade Tsukishima into indulging in his request.

Unforgivable. The boy’s overestimating his place in Tsukishima’s favour.

“You can cuddle with Atsumu, for all I care,” Tsukishima suggests venomously. It's not strange for people of the same gender to share a bed, or for even the most distant friends and teammates to share items, but it's certainly weird for him because he hates sleeping even near others in general, and for Kageyama, though while he's stiff but fairly comfortable as company, they don't get along alone.

“Oh? Really?” And Tsukishima forgot that other people are still awake , including the bastard in question. “Tobio-kun, you hear that-”

“Atsumu,” and Osamu, whose image in Tsukishima’s mind has definitely been skyrocketing within just these past few minutes as he’s proven himself to be the only person so far who doesn’t seem to take bullshit, suddenly sits up, a shadow in the dark. “Stop causing trouble before someone tattles your behaviour to Kita-senpai.”

“Kita-senpai loves me.”

“He loves verbally flogging your stoopid ass. Lie back down.”

Tsukishima decides he really likes Osamu, especially since he conveniently juxtaposes Atsumu’s irresponsibility. Or maybe Osamu is equally sketchy and questionable, but at the very least, seems to be his own twin’s underpaid babysitter.

“Tsukki-”

“Don’t call me that,” and his words come out sharper than intended, bladed in defense due to the shock and unexpectancy of hearing that nickname leave Kageyama’s mouth, and the sudden heat that snips his entire nervous system at it, rippling throughout his body.

“Oh.”

And Kageyama does not apologise.

He almost sounds sorry, though.

But Tsukishima does not feel unreasonably guilty. More importantly, he does not feel remorse.

Yet-

His thinned lips squirm, unable to keep form. 

“Fine. You can try and fit in here.” And this is stupid because though the futon is reasonably big though somewhat short, for it to fit two growing teenagers? They’re both slender, but that doesn’t mean they’re skinny - they’re athletes, and even if they sleep right next to each other, touching, it'd still be an uncomfortable squeeze.

All the algorithms scanning through Tsukishima’s head points to: this isn’t going to fucking work.

Tsukishima however, sees one look at Kageyama’s grateful expression that’s thankfully muted by the cool shadows of the dark, abyssal gymnasium, and still doesn’t say anything.

“Whatever. Get in before I change my mind.”

--

Tsukishima changes his mind.

 

Kageyama is fucking cold, and Kageyama, the absolute pigeon shit of a fucker, seems aware of that is therefore purposefully shoving his icecube feet against Tsukishima’s own legs.

“What are you doing -” he hisses, attempting to dampen his tone because now there are definitely more people sleeping, and he doesn’t want to be known as the one to wake everyone up the way Kageyama stupidly did.

“‘M cold.”

“You. You degenerate -” Tsukishima flinches as Kageyama’s cold toes jab into his ankles.

“I’m cold."

“Yeah, and I’m Done™, get your goddamn feet away.” And almost reluctantly, Kageyama’s legs slink from his. 

But their shoulders remain touching, and Tsukishima feels the muted cold of the boy seep against his shoulders: a refreshing, spearmint cool in his envelope of incubating heat.

Almost daringly, he spares a peek at Kageyama, keeping his back flattened against the sheets.

The bottom half of Kageyama’s face already dips underneath the covers, clearly trying to take advantage of their shared warmth as much as possible, as he also dragged his own pillow and blankets over, effectively smothering both of them in cotton and probably killing Tsukishima in his own radiation of heat and embarrassment.

He sighs, and returns to looking up.

And the trepidation from earlier, a sinking and molasses feeling of doom from the vastness of the room, a chamber where breathing is amplified and every shift sandpapers his eardrums-

He suddenly finds himself focused on a single, paced rhythm of breathing right next to him, Kageyama’s tempo of sleep and dreams drowning out the unknown variables around him, and Tsukishima closes his eyes, and-

 

Tsukishima falls asleep to Kageyama’s breathing.

---

Tsukishima wakes up to a particularly loud camera shutter.

A shutter that he doesn’t identify what it is, until he hears another one to recognise what the sound is.

Yet, the warmth oozing in from his side is comfortable, latched around his waist and radiating across his chest in fragments like Pangea, and he has no will to get out of bed.

Until he hears another shutter, and takes a second to question himself why the fuck are people taking picture.

His eyes snap open, before instantly twitching by the shocking blindness and loudness of his environment. He nearly sits up, only to realise part of his arm is terrifyingly numb, as well as his entire left side that feels unproportionally hot to his right.

His groan is swept up by the hushed whispering and snickers that rebound his boxed ears.

He attempts to sit up, only to realise he can only successfully crane his head.

He glances down, only to nearly get a mouthful of hair.

“What the h-”

“Tsukki! Seems like you and Kageyama really are getting along better these days!” And Tsukishima gives up, his head knocking back against his pillow as he attempts to identify the people around him.

He can already get the gist of this godawful situation.

His right hand flailing for a second before nearly crushing what he was trying to locate, he uncomfortably unwedges his other arm to fully pop open his glasses and slide them on, despite his face being unwashed.

 

Suddenly, all the blurry students surrounding him, which suspiciously seems to be more than just the students who slept in his section just a couple hours ago, become clear.

He wishes he never put on his glasses, as he identifies all the phone cameras pointed his way.

“Cute,” Atsumu chirps from where he’s in a headlock by Tanaka, who’s attempting to eat his ear off, and Nishinoya, an oversized and personified house arrest ankle bracelet.

“Kageyama,” he attempts to snarl, but it’s more of a pitiful wheeze because Kageyama’s head is directly under his chin, causing him to nearly bite his tongue as he accidentally raps it against his hard skull (and he swears it makes a hollow sound), and the boy’s arm is flopped over his sternum, his entire body latched onto him like a parasitic leech. “Kageyama!”

A mistake. He can't believe he's been making so many mistakes- and suspiciously, they all seem to link back to Kageyama's presence. 

And Tsukishima even calculated that Kageyama didn’t sleep, but rather, completely black out throughout the night, yet, he still walked right into this scenario.

“Tobio-chan is pretty cute when he's unconscious.” Oikawa admits gruffly, and Tsukishima recalls when he first saw the two interact, and it was mostly Oikawa flipping Kageyama off and scowling at him from across the gym, looking very close to pushing Kageyama out the third floor window-

And now Oikawa looks like he wants to do that to Tsukishima.

 

Tsukishima, unwilling to place himself as a love rival in a manga where Oikawa is clearly that one overdramatic Shoujo-protagonist with the personality of the end slices of a loaf of whole wheat bread, tries to shove Kageyama off, by clasping his large hand directly over the boy’s face and pushing.

“Hey, hey, don’t hurt him!” Iwaizumi grumbles, and him too?

Terrified by the fact that Kageyama seems to be randomly doted on by the weirdest and most questionably psychopathic members of every team, Tsukishima decides the best thing to do is to delete himself from this situation.

“I think it’s great you two are getting along!” Sugawara chirrups from where he’s pretending like he’s only just hooking an arm around Atsumu’s nape, though, Tsukishima, used to Sugawara’s eccentrics, can easily see the way his forearm bulges, its muscle tightening around his neck. “But, wake him up,” and that’s a warning. “Breakfast is in ten, and then training.”

“I- how ,” Tsukishima is not griping, but he totally is. “Hinata isn’t even awake!”

“Great, but you are. Show good sportsmanship and wake them up for me, won’tcha?” Sugawara beams.

Tsukishima stares.

To the side, Daichi is also staring at Sugawara with judgment, probably too exposed to Sugawara’s true nature to feel anything.

“Water. Pour water,” Kumini suggests, before walking away, the only sane character of this Reality TV show of a world, leaving Tsukishima’s sight.

He’s doomed.

“Whoa whoa whoa , Tsukki!”

“Bokuto-san do not call me that.”

“Tsk. Look at him. Getting all cuddly with another guy but he won’t even hug us,” Kuroo simpers, and Tsukishima, with all the effort he can in the position he’s crushed in, attempts to glare at him from the floor.

“I remember Kageyama always slept like a rock,” Kindaichi murmurs uncomfortably, and Tsukishima instinctively flares, recalling his rocky relationship with Kageyama.

Not like that’s any of his business.

He still slowly clasps his left hand over Kageyama’s head though, not petting him, but rather, just stabilising it.

He fights back an onslaught of heat at the sudden noise Sugawara makes, that contrasts the roar that rips from Oikawa. And Tsukishima absolutely refuses to look over to see what expression Kuroo and Bokuto must be making.

“The way we’d wake him up was kind of weird though.” Kindaichi hums.

“What way?” Tsukishima bites, no longer caring if he sounds desperate.

Kindaichi grimaces.

---

“Wouldn’t he just kill us?”

“If we don’t wake him up, Sugawara will do that for him,” Hinata blinks blearily, somehow waking up after Nishinoya nearly suffocated him by collapsing onto him like a disposable bean bag. Yawning, Hinata slowly slouches over. “Well. Now or never.”

“I’m leaving,” Kenma, that lucky bastard, raises his hand in a short wave as he walks away, or as a prayer for their safety, Tsukishima doesn’t know.

“This really worked?” Tsukishima inquires skeptically. Normally, he’d be ecstatic to witness this. In fact, he might even record this.

The problem lies in the fact that he’s right underneath Kageyama, and therefore, in strangling distance.

“It worked,” Kindaichi almost sounds sorrowful to admit, and almost concerned for Tsukishima.

Tsukishima decides that he had judged him too harshly due to his bias towards Kageyama, and that Kindaichi is definitely a pitiful soul.

Though, the fact that he was annoyed at Kindaichi itself is unfathomable, too. Because he’s not necessarily defensive of Kageyama. If anything, he can assume why they fell apart, and if his perception is correct, then it sounds as if Kageyama deserves a rough wakeup due to his tyrannical treatment.

Doesn’t mean the punishment for his actions wasn’t traumatising, though. He doesn’t pity the King for experiencing the consequences of his own actions- yet he does in the sense that all of that could’ve been avoided if someone told him how he was acting.

Or if the King had at least one more braincell.

 

Either way.

“Ah, well, this sucks,” Kindaichi effectively summarises Tsukishima's thoughts, as he nervously tugs at Kageyama’s sweatpants.

“Wait. Can’t we just dump the ice onto his sweatpants?”

“Nah, put it in, that way it won’t get all over my futon.”

“Well. I mean. Here goes nothing-”

---

“Oh there you four are I thought I had to go chas-” Sugawara stops, finally looking up from his platter of buns and scrambled eggs, being one of the lighter combinations of food Tsukishima has seen as while passing by. He earlier watched Kuroo straight up dump cold coffee into his mug of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and try and fish the cereal into his mouth with a pair of chopsticks. He slowly stalks forward, stretching out a free hand and Tsukishima cringes into himself because Sugawara has a rather solid hand he knows that- “what happened?”

Tsukishima does not want to explain as to why currently, half of his face is lopsidedly stained red, clearly beginning to morph into an ugly bruise.

He sees the way Kageyama shifts slightly behind Tsukishima, his ragged knuckles out of sight.

Tsukishima stares a bit longer than he should’ve, too enraptured by the curious way Kageyama’s ears seem to match the red blossoming vividly from the apples of his cheeks, the way his eyes widen and pupils quiver in their milky whites.

“Tsukki? Did you two fight?” Sugawara guesses, voice hardening at that theory.

“No. Just while waking up, Kageyama accidentally wacked me,” Tsukishima says. It technically did happen. Just more conscious and assaultive as Kageyama jerked awake the moment Kindaichi dumped an entire tray of ice cubes down his pants.

And he feels his shirt tighten, a sudden source of heat latched onto his back.

He cranes his neck back slightly more- and Kageyama’s clutching the back of his shirt, his other hand defensively (yet failing to) mask the startling red highlighting his expression.

Oh.

And Tsukishima swallows, feeling deja vu from this situation, and he’s transported back to the library, Kageyama in the exact same position with his fingers knotted against his shirt and expression troubled pink-

Tsukishima ritualistically looks away quickly, before he can develop that thought even more.

“Oh. I see. Nice to know you guys aren’t fighting anymore, seems as if you guys are getting closer and closer each day!” Sugawara snickers, and senpai or not, Tsukishima cringes, hackles flinching at Sugawara’s innate evilness. “Especially you two, Tsukki and Ka-ge-yama!”

“Don’t call me that,” he murmurs rigidly, tame in comparison to how he would reprimand Hinata.

Or Kageyama, and he inwardly grimaces as he recalls that one time. And god why is Yachi his voice of guilt-consciousness? Literally anyone else he’d be fine ignoring, but Yachi is Yachi and therefore he can’t even be pissed about it.

“Right, right,” Sugawara snorts, eyes flitting over at Kageyama who’s still grasping onto Tsukishima’s uniform like it’s a lifeline, before slyly turning to Tsukishima, and Tsukishima doesn’t doubt that Sugawara has the mastermind of at least eighty Wattpad fanfic writers and the terrifyingly dark innovation of a DeviantArt user.

Tsukishima figures he should tread more carefully.

“Well, eat up! Especially you, Tsukki, you gotta eat more. Kageyama-” he turns his focus sharply, too fast for Tsukishima to find time to retort or dismiss. “Make sure he eats lots.”

“Yes Suga-san,” Kageyama murmurs, clearly too embarrassed of having his genitals iced like a dessert to properly look him in the eye.

---

“What are you doing.”

“Eating,” and Kuroo continues to suck on the mayonnaise packets like they’re GoGurts.

“Blasphemous and illegal. You deserve to be castrated.” Oikawa murmurs flippantly, waving his fork dangerously around before continuing to drink his very watery soup with it.

Tsukishima stares a bit longer at his attempts, before growing tired of the world around him and pretending like he doesn’t exist.

He doesn’t even know why the third-years are seated so close.

He looks over at Iwaizumi who’s making sure Oikawa doesn’t try to hand-feed Kageyama like he’s a baby bird. And Oikawa’s definitely making fun of Kageyama. Their relationship is wack, somewhat manipulative, and overall wholesome, and it’s terrifying.

He looks over at Kageyama who’s choking on a slice of toast and Akaashi is staring, looking terrified and the most emotional Tsukishima has ever seen him, and Tsukishima realises ah , that’s why everyone’s crowding them.

Because after last night, everyone has definitely realised Kageyama has absolutely zero self-preservation instincts, and with God trying his very best to clean up his mistake to humanity, is five seconds away from being devoured by Mother Nature or a speeding car. Really, whichever one comes first.

“Castration is not a topic that will be discussed at this time,” Daichi sighs, looking like he doesn’t want to be here but is still standing behind Kageyama, startled into staying after witnessing Kageyama nearly puncture the inside of his throat while coughing on his straw. Like a lifeguard, but not just for the pool and instead for Kageyama’s entire existence, he's trying to make sure Kageyama isn’t halfway dead by the time he turns around. 

Kuroo, also in the same boat as Kageyama, both of them nearly holepunching their sail due to their own twisted ingenuity, is probably going to die from food poisoning or gastritis, whichever one comes first. Though, Tsukishima figures Daichi could care less of Kuroo started frothing at the mouth and collapsed right in front of him and onto the picnic table. 

 

Actually.

The longer Tsukishima looks at the people surrounding him, the more convinced he's feeling that maybe this is all Mother Nature's rejects gathering about.

He scowls.

If anything, Kageyama almost seems like the epitome of humanity in comparison to Bokuto, a man whose singular brain cell is shared with the entire pigeon population of Chinatown, who is currently trying to eat only the seeds of all the grapes, leaving behind a clump of grape flesh on his plate.

 

This is stupid.

 

And Tsukishima stands up, ready to leave and find Yamaguchi who claimed he was going to the restroom but probably ditched to go find Yachi, when suddenly, a hand tugs him back down.

He blinks.

“What?”

“You need to eat more,” Kageyama says, mouth still partially stuffed with his own dumpling.

“I’m full.”

“Nah, he right, you’re an overgrown weed,” Kuroo snorts.

“I’ve literally only seen you consume caffeine and raw eggs,” he quirks an eyebrow at the mayo packet. “Maybe it’s because you’re about to head into college, but with the way you’re eating, your muscles are pull apart like Twizzlers,” Tsukishima scoffs, ignoring the way Bokuto laughs, nearly choking on his five buns at that.

“Oya, don’t talk back to your seniors,” Kuroo snaps. “Eat more. You too, baby,” he nods at Kageyama.

“Baby?” Oikawa shrieks.

“Stop it,” Iwaizumi pounds Oikawa between the shoulderblades, looking apologetically at Kuroo, before his modest countenance contorts into disgust as he eyeballs Kuroo’s diet. “Tobio,” and he calls Kageyama by his first name too? 

And Tsukishima doesn’t know why reminding himself that he’s ultimately the closest to Kageyama in comparison to these people, makes him feel strangely relieved, though slightly disconcerted because of how flimsy it is. Because is he really?

And he’s not jealous. He knows when he’s jealous.

He doesn’t feel jealous. Or at least it doesn't feel like his usual jealousy.

But why would he even feel jealous about someone like Kageyama? It’s not like he feels similarly when around Hinata or Yamaguchi, as he finds himself comfortable with their respective closest friend.

But.

He kind of wants to one-up these people, call Kageyama ‘Tobio’ as well.

And then there’s Kuroo-

Calling him baby .

Tsukishima’s strange swelling of blistering pus and resentment suddenly balms over, dunked in cold water as he remembers that technically, he’s called ‘Overgrown Baby’ from Kuroo, and suddenly, he feels less envious.

He feels like he should feel bitter. Angry though, for being called that in the first place.

Yet, being called such an irritating nickname reminds him that hey, at least Kuroo isn’t giving Kageyama special treatment. That Kuroo isn't solely fixated on Kageyama. 

Whatever that means to him.

“Eat more,” and he watches as Kageyama suddenly transfers about half of his plate onto his.

Half of his plate meaning basically a serving size fit for three people.

“I can’t eat this.”

“Not with that attitude.” Kageyama then makes brutal dead and unblinking eye contact with Tsukishima. “Coward.”

“Not everyone has a digestive track like a four-stomached cow,” Tsukishima remarks, unimpressed.

“If you don’t want to eat Tobio-chan’s serving, I’ll gladly take it,” Oikawa snarls. “Tobio-chan, feed it to me.”

“You don’t need it,” Iwaizumi says as Kageyama remarks in blunt unison: “get your own food.”

“Tsukki, you look like I could snap you in half over my knee like a ruler. Listen to Baby.” Kuroo points dramatically, almost scornfully.

And Tsukishima forgot, that the real mother he’s ever met was Kuroo, despite having the personality of a college undergrad and diet of a parttimer. 

“Stop it-”

And Kuroo is already scooping rice over onto his own plate. And Tsukishima doesn’t understand why they’re attempting to gorge him with food- it’s not like any more will improve his performance- if anything, it’ll make him sick. Besides, if he can’t eat more, then he physically can’t eat more.

“You should try to eat as much as you can, at least,” Kageyama snarks gruffly.

“I’m not going to take advice from a trashcan like you.”

“Oi who the fuck are you calling a trashcan-”

“It’s because all you say is shit, Tobio-chan,” Oikawa murmurs, still dejected by the doublekill from earlier.

“Oikawa your opinion is irrelevant when it comes to speaking bullshit,” Iwaizumi snarks.

“I agree,” and Tsukishima raises an eyebrow at the new voice. It’s Kyoutani, who’s standing peacefully behind Iwaizumi, placing a bun on his platter like a strange sacrifice.

“Eat more!”

And Tsukishima opens his mouth to either spit on Kageyama or retort, he’s unsure, and he’ll never find out, because at that moment, something slams into his mouth, effectively activating his gag reflex, and he nearly chokes to death on the spot.

Hacking, he nearly spits out the food, only to chew on it dejectedly before he makes a mess.

“See, that’s not so hard,” Kageyama rasps, looking very casual for nearly killing him.

“Oi, Tobio-chan, feed me too,” Oikawa demands boredly.

“Say ‘ah’,” Kuroo offers from the side, holding up a spoonful of soggy cornflakes currently simmering in hot coffee, his second bowl of sin today because who the hell eats cornflakes willingly-

“Shut up,” Oikawa grunts.

Tsukishima painfully swallows the rest of the steamed bun shoved in his mouth, and turns to Kageyama, ready to tell him off.

He pauses, staring at the way that Kageyama beams back, pride scorched onto his cheeks. 

He blushes easily .

And it contrasts the gruffness of his naturally intimidating voice, the exterior sharpness of his features.

 

Tsukishima averts his gaze, realising with horror that he feels oddly warm too, despite it being a cloudy day.

And Kageyama hands him another chunk of the bun, and this time, Tsukishima accepts it.


[#5 lowbudget kdrama remake]

 

Tsukishima does not feel jealousy easily. Things that are his are his- he has no reason to feel envious because it’s not like anyone can touch his materials, his plastic dinosaurs, his food without permission; rather, he shares.

Then there are people.

Yamaguchi has his own free will, but Tsukishima has established confidence in Yamaguchi to be always there for him- he just always was. And vice versa. 

 

And maybe that’s why he feels so cold.

Staring at the way that Sakusa is fixated intently at Kageyama, who's bristling in response. And maybe Kageyama’s too much of an idiot to notice, but Sakusa isn’t just glowering him down- he’s evaluating him.

Sakusa never gave the rest of them so much individual attention off court.

 

And Tsukishima has always been possessive of the things in his world, in his life, even if he doesn't like those things, he just likes the association with it. The ritualistic interactions. He just likes the understanding from both sides of their stances and worth in each others' life. Makes everything organised. He doesn't feel territorial over impudent things, he just likes the easy understanding between them.

 

He doubts the King understands where Tsukishima stands with him, nor does he really care to find out because socialisation has never been a priority for him, and Tsukishima himself doesn't have a good assessment either of himself in Kageyama's life.

 

Not like it matters.

But things have been strangely off-kilter. Something about his perspective and feelings for Kageyama is no longer directional into friendship, no longer linear through a proportion of friendly banter, snide and typically cutting remarks, of disrespect discreetly balanced by respect.

 

There's a whole new variable added into this graph and it's fucking things up.

 

Tsukishima's often aware of this variable. Refuses to acknowledge it, up until it resurfaces in the bubbling broil of his blood, making itself known when literally, no one fucking asked. It always emerges, gurgling in his gut of intangible and entangled emotions, such as right now. Seeing Sakusa's honed attention on Kageyama.

When there are frankly stranger things to evaluate, and this variable is a waste of damn time. Such as why is Sakusa even here. Or that they've coincidentally collided with each other at the mall, when naturally, shouldn’t someone like Sakusa adamantly avoid such public places? He’s even wearing gloves, looking like he was essentially forced to DIY a hazmat suit with the necessity creativity and sparing materials of an apocalyptic world.

However, Tsukishima figures that they’re in similar waters: being dragged along by their teammates, given how he recognises familiar players wandering about in casual fits, one of them nearly being shoved off the second floor balcony from across the aisles.

He narrows his eyes.

The Miya twins.

And a twisted disdain for Atsumu suddenly crunches the tension in his throat like a shattered cartilage as Atsumu’s eyes land on Kageyama, who’s already dealing with trying to telepathically communicate a challenge for Sakusa, while trying to beat Hinata in who can eat their takeout the fastest.

“Oi, stop glaring at him! You’re making him look scarier and the pedestrians are avoiding us now!” Hinata growls at Sakusa, who barely flickers his gaze over before they clap back onto Kageyama.

Kageyama, threatened by either Sakusa’s Mr. Clean Dollar-store cosplay or by Sakusa’s aura in general, seems to have had enough. “What do you want -” he roars and Yachi laughs nervously, before Hinata performs one of his friendly side-arm hugs that nearly breaks her neck like a skateboard due to his sheer energy and terrifying entropy, spits out a ball of words and chewed noodles at Sakusa, who at the sight, side eyes the balcony next to him, before slowly sliding his gaze back to Hinata, and back at the balcony.

“Don’t jump,” Tsukishima says, unconvincingly. They’re on the third floor.

“Who’s gonna jump?” And now it’s Tsukishima’s turn to barely restrain himself from launching himself into the sun as well. Miya Atsumu slinks over responding to him, though, Tsukishima is well aware of the way his hooded gaze clings onto Kageyama.

Kageyama’s not even appealing - he’s currently the backpacking a genetically squashed orangutan who’s simultaneously choking a poor girl, while gagging on his own chopsticks.

“Me. I’m going to jump.” Tsukishima answers.

Atsumu glances over. “With your height you could probably just step down, you know.”

Tsukishima promptly decides that the death sentence should be reevaluated in Japan, and that he’s going to swing this gremlin by the ankles right out the window like a dislodged ceiling fan.

“Oi, where’s Bokuto-san?” Hinata suddenly shouts. “Is he with you guys?”

“Yeah. He also brought along his Fukurodani teammates.” Atsumu informs. “Osamu is somewhere, too,” and good , Atsumu’s genetically superior counterpart is here. “Shouyou-kun,” and Tsukishima suddenly has a bad feeling. “Osamu’s interested in your skills as a player. You and Tobio-kun should come with me to find Osamu.”

“No.” Hinata says sharply. “Yamaguchi promised to help me find Natsu a present, and I want to stay with Yachi!”

At this, Yachi flushes from where she’s currently wormed behind Kageyama, murmuring a ‘sorry’ to Atsumu who’s oddly quiet.

“Nah, don’t feel bad, you guys are friends, nasty of me to separate you guys, s'my fault” Atsumu says cheerfully, and Tsukishima supposes genuinely, as well. Atsumu leans closer, and Tsukishima stares harder, until he realises he’s directing his attention at Yachi, which automatically heightens all his senses and alarms. “Sorry ‘bout that!” He chirrups, seemingly abashed for once in his life, and Yachi just beams. “Tobio-kun, I hope to see more of you.” He exhales with a smile, and, now, Tsukishima’s nerves really tighten, sending various stimuli signals up his brain, adrenaline cramming oxygen into his brain as Atsumu pats Kageyama with a calloused hand, scruffing his scalp hard.

And people really like petting Kageyama.

He’s even see Kenma pet Kageyama before, when Kageyama looked unintentionally murderous, homicidal intent blurring his undertone of dejection after Hinata mentioned he was going to play with Bokuto, leaving Kageyama alone.

Kageyama just looks very pettable. 

Even Tsukishima at this moment, has a sudden, dettached urge to card a hand through his hair just for a second, and knock away Atsumu’s hand and-

He takes a second, his cognitive processing center suddenly glitching at a realisation.

And thinks over his emotions.

He thinks harder.

Calmly, he stares at Kageyama, a dumbass, who’s currently tackling Hinata onto the floor, with multiple bystanders slowly beginning to take out their cellphones, either to post this on Snapchat or call the police he’s really unsure, and realises exactly what he’s starting to feel.

He stares a bit harder.

Kageyama is now attempting to crush a mudhole into Hinata’s skull cavity.

Tsukishima wants to scream as he finally places a label on this 'third variable'.

---

Yamaguchi glances over, and passes over his churro to Yachi, who's already holding two nearly empty boxes of takeout.

By this point, Hinata and Kageyama has been banned from so many places, they can probably legally stand in like three places, two of them being their homes.

He should stop this fight.

“Hey, Tsukki help me o-” he whirls around to summon the help of Tsukishima Kei, who will most definitely reject any role in placating this situation, but it’s still friendly to ask in this bonding experience that most definitely is an acquired taste to enjoy. He pauses.

“...Tsukki?”

“He’s having a breakdown,” Yachi muses aloud, casually trying to tame Hinata like a wild animal to unhinge his screwed jaw so that Kageyama can properly have his chewed-up forearm back. She’s waving Yamaguchi’s churro in front of Hinata, slowly tempting him into taking the bait.

And Yamaguchi already has many things to take care of. His exams, Granny, Natsu’s present, Yachi’s happiness, Kageyama’s increasingly dangerous obliviousness to social situations- really, the list just goes on.

And Tsukki Kei should not be one of them. If anything, he should already be a completed quest- Yamaguchi already dealt with his own internalised issues in freshman year, and yet-

Tsukishima Kei is now clambering over the balcony.

 

“Stop it! Tsukki!” Yamaguchi hisses.

“Sorry-”

Sorry?” Yamaguchi echoes incredulously, voice skipping an octave. And Tsukishima does not casually apologise, though, the dead-inside tone does suspiciously convince Yamaguchi that he’s still cognizant enough to be himself.

“I just had a recent revelation about myself, and I’ve decided that I’ll voluntarily give myself brain damage to reverse it,” Tsukishima says casually.

“Oh. Sounds legit.”

“Doesn’t it?” 

“No! Of course it doesn’t! Get down from there!”

“Oi, why is the starved Big Bird trying to fly?” Kageyama snarls from the sidelines, and Yamaguchi glances over. Hinata is placated (he thinks), as he’s now eating the churro and its wax wrapper, and Kageyama appears overall okay, and if anything, coaxed by Atsumu who thankfully prevented him from bodyslamming Hinata. And oh, even Sakusa, who Yamaguchi didn’t even think liked interacting with others, is even tentatively holding Kageyama's shirt as if that'd keep him back if he decided to play kickball with Hinata's head. “Ay, Tsukishima! Stop it with your bullshit!”

Yamaguchi pretends like the eight bystanders that have definitely mitosised into like thirty-two make an audible gasp.

Tsukishima looks over.

And Yamaguchi’s eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets.

To an untrained eye, Tsukishima looks remotely dettached from the mortal realm- forcefully transcended to leave the race behind out of the coding of “can’t-do-this-anymore-666”, with absolutely nothing but humane resentment and internalised emotional disdain to shadow his ascending existence.

But Yamaguchi has seen this expression before. The slightest pinch of his brows and the way that yes, though he probably hasn’t blinked in the past three minutes and his eyes are cloudy and staring off into the distance seeing things none of them as inferiors can see, they’re gazing directly at Kageyama.

Yamaguchi gapes.

And glances back at Kageyama, who’s now being stroked heavily by Atsumu, and Sakusa, who’s attempting to disinfect the terrifyingly black and blue dental indents imprinting his arm from Hinata, looking like someone coloured in blocks of black with Sharpie straight onto his skin. 

Mildly, in the back of his mind, Yamaguchi makes a note to reserve an appointment for Hinata to get his rabies vaccination.

He watches as Sakusa Febrezes the bite, and begins to wipe it with a Kleenex wipe that seemingly came out of nowhere.

He turns to Tsukishima, whose expression is still contorted into his usual revulsion.

But not at Kageyama for once.

It’s different.

 

Tsukishima had made this exact same expression when they were seven, and eating Yamaguchi’s father’s awful cooking that resulted in his mom getting her stomach pumped, and Tsukishima looking utterly broken by the fact that he liked eating his father’s poor, DIY Gordon Ramsay chicken parmesean of a plate, even after Yamaguchi warned him that he might end up with tapeworms.

 

He makes that face when he’s so disgusted by his sudden and controversial feelings towards a specific thing, in the sense of: 'i-really-like-that?'

He has a terrifying, knee-buckling recollection of every interaction Tsukishima and Kageyama has held, especially the more recent ones of Tsukishima actually indulging in Kageyama's request to share bodyheat, even eating food that Kageyama's offered when Tsukishima hates eating to the extent where even his mom can't convince him to have more than a bowl of rice-

Oh my god.

He follows Tsukishima’s line of vision, back to Kageyama, who’s now being consoled by Atsumu as he’s tearing up by the fact that Sakusa is wiping away any traces of germs on his arm, and is attempting to persuade Kageyama into opening his mouth as if he’s going to absolutely wipe his stomach bacteria by pouring dishsoap down his throat.

Yachi also looks like she’s on the verge of tears, probably due to the fact that there’s a crowd of strangers intensely watching this like a K-Drama, and filming them like it’s a low-budget middleschool theater project.

Yamaguchi concludes he won’t open social media for this next week in case this goes public.

“Tsukki...do you happen to like-”

“No.”

He likes him.

 

Yamaguchi feels like his brain is being made into a new brew as it's placed through a coffee grinder.

 

“Like what?” Hinata, finished snarfing down the churro wrapper, seems aware of his surroundings for the first time. “Guys we need to buy Natsu a present! And what are you doing to Kageyama didn’t I say don’t touch him-” he bristles, snarking at Atsumu who’s trying to convince Sakusa to not indirectly poison Kageyama through his good-intentions.

“Tsukishima,” Yachi begins gently. “Why don’t you get off the ledge?”

“I could. But then that means I’d have to live with my feelings and I’d really rather not,” Tsukishima rationalises, and Yamaguchi pretends like he can’t hear at least seven midwives surrounding them gasp, probably paralleling it to one of those male lead’s lines in their favourite romance dramas that Yamaguchi’s mom watches as well. Though, he’s pretty sure it’s meant to sound like a confession in those scenes, whilst here, with Tsukishima half convinced to fling himself like a ragdoll off the third floor, Hinata exposing his talents as a trash disposal much like Ricardo from Penguins of Madagascar , and Kageyama currently having his entire g-tract scraped with a gloved hand and a miniature Swiffer Jet, Tsukishima’s one-liner simply sounds like a suicidal statement.

 

He sighs.

 

“Tsukishima, if you jump now, imagine what Akiteru will say.”

“His opinion is irrelevant.” More midwife gasps, though, it suspiciously sounds much louder than before.

“This is absolutely a mess,” Atsumu comments rather flippantly, given the situation. Yamaguchi keeps quiet that it’s probably because of him, that Tsukishima is the way he is and Hinata lost it and went feral.

“Where. Where’s your brother?” Yamaguchi asks nicely, because he needs one leash in this entire scenario.

He pauses.

Actually. Miya Osamu is an unknown variable. If anything, Osamu isn’t dependable in keeping his brother in check, and sometimes, simply indulges in his entropy. He’s a questionable force: Yamaguchi can’t rely on him to actually help things out. Because really, if Yamaguchi recalls their previous training camp, Osamu only shut Atsumu up when he started bothering the entire gym.

But maybe if the rest of the team is nearby-

Yamaguchi inwardly chokes.

Bokuto. Bokuto’s great, he’s happy, and though Yamaguchi isn’t particularly close with him, he certainly has good vibes. But. This isn’t good.

But if Bokuto’s here, Akaashi will be, too .

 

“Tsukishima, climb off,” Yamaguchi sighs. “You jump off and your mom is going to have my ass.” And it’s true.

“I’ll shoot her a text, don’t worry.”

“That what? You broke all your bones?”

“It’s for my mental state.”

“This is bad for my mental state!”

“Is this a lover’s spat?” whispers an unknown voice from the crowd.

“It is, just not between us,” Yamaguchi murmurs, thinking about his newfound realisation about Tsukishima's current internal turmoil (and Kageyama? Really?), and cringes as he hears gasps throughout the section. He did the worst thing possible: engage with the audience.

“You know what, I’m joining you,” Yamaguchi suddenly decides firmly, and reaches for the wooden ledge, disregarding the sudden shocked cries, and the one shout of “lover’s suicide?”

He's done.

---

Akaashi doesn’t know why he’s here.

He takes another reluctant bite of his fry, and decides, that it could be worse without the rest of his teammates.

And that if Kuroo had came as Bokuto wanted him to, that even though Kenma would’ve been here, then that means they’d both just have to babysit to full-grown vibrating man babies.

At least now it’s peaceful.

“Hey.” Konoha begins, dunking another nugget into the kitchup that Bokuto splattered all over their tray. He gestures behind Akaashi. “Isn’t that the Karasuno children over there?”

Akaashi stills, and awkwardly angles his neck over his shoulder.

He nearly drops his fry.

He stands up so quickly, he nearly knocks over his flimsy plastic cup of all the juices Bokuto requested the tired McDonalds employee to mix together.

 

There, teetering on the balcony, is that overly tall one, that Tsukishima, and tossing a leg over the ledge along with him, is his friend. Yamaguchi.

---

“Oh. It’s Akaashi!” Kageyama blinks, shrugging off Atsumu’s arm linked around his shoulder that was properly disinfected by Sakusa as well, so that he's free to wave at Akaashi, who, for the first time in Kageyama’s life, seems to be running. Even on court, the guy looks very reluctant to even move.

“What . Are you doing?” Akaashi shoves through the crowd of people that Kageyama wonders exactly why they’re so invested in the scene unfolding before them, and Akaashi for once, sounds legitimately disturbed, no longer his composed self.

Kageyama blinks.

“Get off!” He commands, yanking Yamaguchi and Tsukishima from where they’ve seated on the balcony’s fence. “Tsk. What are you doing with this public stunt? Joking around about something so dangerous like suicide isn’t funny-”

“It wasn’t suicide. Just a DIY memory wipe.” Tsukishima corrects.

Akaashi stares, and Kageyama can pinpoint the moment his eyes shatter like eyeballs, the lights flickering out from him. “Just. Stop talking. Aren’t you the smart one?”

“And the desperate one,” Tsukishima confesses flippantly, and Kageyama glowers over. Tsukishima admits things so easily, things that he would normally mock other people for. Asshat.

“Sorry. Got swept up with the flow,” Yamaguchi says sheepishly.

“You know, I thought you would be the one crying by this point,” Atsumu says, face peering over Kageyama’s shoulder and craning to look at Yachi.

“Yeah I used to be pretty sensitive to their intensity,” Yachi mumbles, embarrassment from honesty colouring her neck. “But once they’ve started acting this way every day after school, I kind of got used to it,” she admits. “And I trust Yamaguchi to wrangle Tsukishima. I’m just here to watch these two,” she says, not at all patronising and rather endearing, rustling Hinata who laughs underneath her hand, and Kageyama squats down slightly to let her easily pet his head, too.

“What? You guys!” Atsumu croons. “Y’all are cute , and Tobio-kun you bend down to let her pet? You-” and his voice is shivery and strange and Kageyama glares at him, and he laughs. “Ah, but you’re still Tobio-kun no matter what, arentcha?”

“Of course. Who else would I be?”

Atsumu just snickers, seemingly pleased with his rather reasonable and obvious answer.

“Hair collects grease and sweat, wouldn’t touch.” Sakusa mumbles, and Kageyama turns to him. 

“Sakusa, you eat hand sanitizer for breakfast,” Atsumu mocks, smiling. Atsumu is weird. Kageyama has seen the way that though he always touches him, pets Yachi, and even easily loops himself with others, he hovers around Sakusa, never really touching him.

That’s nice of him, Kageyama thinks. Weird, but nice.

“I’m telling your senpais about this incident,” Akaashi grumbles.

“Wait.” Tsukishima’s neck snaps over, looking more and more like Tsukishima than he did just minutes ago.

“Wait. But. Daichi will kill us.” Yamaguchi squeaks.

“He’s going to see with all the cameras here, anyways,” Akaashi says dryly, and a couple bystanders sheepishly lower their devices at being called out.

“Better than Sugawara-san,” Yachi informs, looking too lax about this but that’s just because she instinctively knows that she’s not going to get an ass-beating the way that Daichi will serve it to them.

“Bet. When they both find out…” Kageyama trails off uneasily, grimacing. "When Ukai-sensei finds out.

“Think Asahi will convince them to let us off easy?” Yamaguchi sighs.

“Oi, AKAsaaAShi! C’mon! Bokuto-san wouldn’t snitch!” Hinata roars, frothing once more.

“Bokuto is in the bathroom, saying he’s using it, but we all know he’s really locked in a stall playing Candy Crush.” Akaashi informs flatly. He turns to Hinata, staring him dead in the eye. “I’m not Bokuto, however. Therefore I am not in a random bathroom stall, trying to get a full combo of a game with hypnotising animation and made of five colours that don’t exist in the real world. Thus, I will not not notify your senpais of your disorderly conduct.”

Kageyama crumples. “W-wait, Akaashi, if, if our senpais are still going to see this anyways,” he begins, eyes flickering away as if he could deny his guilty role in this situation, “then it’ll be fine if you don’t say anything, right?” He grunts, and he’s not pleading but-

“Kageyama, I think. You’ll actually get off a lot more lightly if your senpais find out through someone than in their YouTube recs.” Akaashi consoles lightly, sounding as comforting as a guy with nothing to live for can get. “I-” Akaashi then pauses, and Kageyama reluctantly meets his eyes. “Are you pouting?”

“No.”

“He totally is.” Atsumu murmurs. “It’s cute, ain’t it?”

Cute .

Whatever. He’s not the guy from the library. It almost had a similar tone, though, but, Atsumu plays volleyball with him, so it’s different.

Akaashi’s lips thin. 

Kageyama meets his eyes once more.

“I mean. If you say we’ll get off easier,” Kageyama groans. “I mean I trust you; you saved me many times when I was choking on food.”

 

“...fine I won’t tell your senpais.”

Kageyama’s head snaps up so hard he’s pretty sure he just fucked up his spinal cord like he visited an inebriated chiropractor. 

And this time, it’s Akaashi who’s looking away, all of a sudden, looking somewhat red. “I don’t have time for this, anyways. I have Bokuto I have to watch.” He says, pocketing his phone.

“Heck yeah! Tobio-kun, you really are amazing.” Atsumu chokes, slapping him on the back- hard.

“Huh?” He stutters, his smacks rattling his ribcage and nearly causing him to bite his heart.

Atsumu just laughs.

“Kageyama. You have a strange distant air that makes people want to get closer to you for an internalised sense of achievement, and when people see enough of the real you, it’s pitiful enough that it makes people want to coddle you.” Sakusa summarises matter-of-factly.

Kageyama can barely wrap his head around that, and when he kinda does, he can only conclude that he just got directly insulted.

Before he can really ask for clarification though, Sakusa waves. “Kageyama, let’s meet again. I ran out of Kleenex wipes on you, I have to find the nearest CVS now." 

"Oh." Kageyama blinks. "Sorry."

"You're going to ruin the planet like that, wipes aren't biodegradable," Atsumu comments disapprovingly. "Oh, I see Osamu coming this way, look!" He jumps wildly, and Kageyama looks over to find Osamu, looking drastically less enthusiastic, and definitely filming them. "Wave, Tobio-kun!"

Kageyama waves.

Osamu lowers his phone, squinting from a distant.

Kageyama awkwardly lowers his hand. 

"Don't worry, that's meant for me. He thinks I'm fucking with you, but don't worry," Atsumu blabbers, "I'm totally serious. You're fun to be around."

"Thanks." And he remembers Sugawara's teachings. "You too."

Atsumu barks out a one-note laugh, smiling widely. "Ah, well, I gotta go. I think your friend is getting jealous by how close I'm getting." And Kageyama, not comprehending because Hinata looks very content eating both his and Kageyama's leftovers right now, chatting with Yachi without finishing chewing, frowns slightly. "Look, he looks like he wanna crush me."

He slowly slides his gaze over to Akaashi, who's now attempting to force his way through the gradually dispersing crowd, then to Yamaguchi who's consoling Tsukishima, and Tsukishima, who's not even looking over.

"Huh?"

"You missed it! Ah. Was a good look. Almost got scared for a moment."

"What?"

Atsumu snickers. "Looked the same way during the training camp."

"You're talking to yourself." Kageyama frowns. "At least respond to me," and tactlessly, adds almost out of habit: "idiot."

"Haha! See, bold." Atsumu grins. "Wishing the best for you, Tobio-kun."

"Thanks." And: "you too."

"I feel like you have three programmed responses in any dialogue, and that's one of them," Atsumu says liltingly, and Kageyama opens his mouth to rebuke because no, when Astumu suddenly attacks him again, wildly mussing up his hair. 

"Why do you always do that?" Kageyama grimaces, though, he lets him do it. It must be a upperclassmen thing- they always do it to even each other. Or maybe that's just Bokuto and Sugawara. So maybe just the scary upperclassmen.

And Atsumu's smile appears softer, almost more affectionate, and Kageyama blinks. "For good luck. You got this."

And Kageyama's pretty sure there's a major misunderstanding developing here, but feeling somewhat guilty if he wastes Atsumu's friendliness this way, he decides to go along with it for now. He reaches over, Atsumu being slightly taller than him, and pets him gently. "Okay. Here's good luck for you too, then."

Kageyama recoils, now hesitant and embarrassed by the suddenness of his actions. Shit. Atsumu isn't smiling anymore, he's staring at him, eyes wide.

 

Atsumu suddenly laughs, and Kageyama's tension unravels, only for him to stiffen once more, as Atsumu leans in close, looking slightly pinker than before, and definitely more intense. "Tobio-kun, you're definitely going places. Capturing everyones' hearts the way you do. No wonder you're so popular." Popular. And something shivery and almost excited at that revelation and acknowledgment tingles within him. That infers he has many friends. 

He smiles back.

"Ah. Really. That boy. No wonder even someone as stiff as him fell for you," Atsumu snorts, smile cool and composed.

And there's that misunderstanding. However, Kageyama finds himself not minding it, since Atsumu seems so resolved about it.

---

"You're staring."

Tsukishima pointedly looks away.

"Am not."

 

His gaze slides back to Kageyama, who just pet Atsumu, who essentially resembles a mutt as he should.

He narrows his eyes, and finds little relief in Hinata, that idiot, who bumbles over, screaming at Atsumu for coveting Kageyama again, before now trying to pet Atsumu too, though, Tsukishima has a feeling it's more of a failed attempt to rip out his hair in compensation for monopolising Kageyama from him for like, five minutes.

"Kageyama's cute." Yamaguchi states calmly.

Tsukishima, not one to play this game, promptly ignores his bait.

"And he's pretty caring, and had pretty good character development."

"Yeah he sucked in the beginning."

"You did, too," he retorts dryly. "I can see why you like him- lots of people do." Yamaguchi, unhelpful, continues talking, definitely well aware of Tsukishima's own rejection. It's not denial- he's already concluded his feelings once he realised that 'yes, I would rather jump off our prefecture's most famous tourist mall and end up on some foreign CNN news, than admit I'm jealous'. He's unsure if it's actually a crush as Yamaguchi is misinterpreting it as- he's never really had a crush before nor does he really have a desire to date, even with someone he's starting to find himself growing cautiously attached to. 

But he does know that he'd be jealous if Kageyama focused all his attention on someone else past him or their group of four.

Maybe it's a territorial thing over friends? Because they're not close but they are at the same time and Tsukishima frankly doesn't know how to feel about that, but he'll be mature enough for these five minutes of prospective, Buddha-meditating thinking to admit that yes, he probably does enjoy all four of their company, including Hinata, that overblown Chucky Doll. But Hinata also befriends everyone, and he doesn't feel oddly gross over it. If anything, he encourages it- maybe someone will officially adopt him and Tsukishima can stop being involuntarily anointed by Sugawara as the enslaved nanny. It's getting seriously bad for his health- he's pretty sure he's developing a chronic allergic reaction to the boy by this point, since every time Hinata enters his proximity he automatically breaks out in hives. 

But Kageyama-

Kageyama getting noticed, getting seen by others-

Tsukishima screws his lips tight.

It's like only they know what Kageyama's really like. While that's definitely false given how all the other teams appear rather fond of Kageyama for some reason, he doesn't like that they think they're special because of it. Because they're not.

"You look like you're thinking hard." Yamaguchi comments flippantly.

"Fifty ways to hide a body."

"Isn't that a song?"

"No."


[#6?/6 man i dont know how to count sorry]

Tsukishima has very little expectations for the King.

 

Nor for himself, really.

 

That's why he's rather double-surprised when he finds himself ramming up Kageyama's head using the sole of his shoe when the boy collapses like a malfunctioning foldable chair.

 

"Oh." Ennoshita says, as Hinata automatically takes up the initiative to be the voice of their team.

"HE'S DEAD!"

Hinata should not be the voice of this team.

Tsukishima blanks out as Kageyama, while his fall was broken by Tsukishima's instinctive placement of his foot, still rolls off and lies listless on the gymnasium floor. "NO KAGEYAMA!" And Hinata's still screaming, but at least now, it doesn't sound so dramatically displaced since everyone else is also screaming, including the young referee who's fumbling with his whistle and screeching it hard enough that it dies out into a wheeze.

Kneeling, Tsukishima awkwardly shifts Kageyama's head onto his knees, discarding his fleeting and disgusting thoughts of 'but we're both sweaty,' because Kageyama Tobio basically just deflated like an accordion halfway through the second part of their game.

"You know, the audience cheering paints a visual representation of bloodlust," Sugawara chirps cheerfully from where he's already checking Kageyama's pulse, and Tsukishima didn't even notice him getting here-

Or everyone. He blinks, staring at the sudden compilation of odd team members surrounding him. He viscerally cringes at the sight of Kuroo slinking over from underneath the net.

"Is he okay?" Ennoshita, being the only real person who's probably not mentally deficient of their group, is asking all the right questions, next to the referee who looks five seconds from crying. This is probably his first game, too. "Should we call the hospital or-"

"His heartbeat is high," Sugawara murmurs, eyes blown.

And Tsukishima initially assumed the flush greasing Kageyama's taunt visage was from exertion, as they're all sweaty and red but-

"I think. Maybe a fever?" But Kageyama's sets were fine. He played well, didn't even appear to have a headache. Tsukishima stills. They were just fine. Subpar. He didn't do his risky sets and plays with Hinata, and the boy was complaining about that earlier. He swayed everytime he landed back on his feet after a jump and-

"Dumbass," Kuroo mumbles, effectively conveying Tsukishima's own feelings. "Then again, who doesn't want to be on court?" He sighs. "The nurse is coming over. He probably does have a fever. If it isn't too high he probably doesn't have to go to the hospital," he concludes, grimacing. "This is just a random get-together play, we can cancel this." Right. This fight between Karasuno and Nekoma isn't official, rather, it's just something the schools put together for families. "If anything, Kageyama's mom might be here," Kuroo glances about.

"She's not," Hinata informs, "she has work."

"Ah, sucks," Kuroo mutters.

"Please move!" An unfamiliar voice cuts through the tension, and Tsukishima awkwardly remains alone in the center as everyone steps back around him, letting in a  young man who's carrying an electronic thermostat. "I'm the school nurse, I'll attend to him." He says. "Can someone ask the referee to grab a wheelchair from the nurse's office so we can bring him back? The office is locked since it's the weekend- I have the keys," he murmurs, efficiently handling Kageyama, and Tsukishima leans back to let him do his work. "Unless if one of you guys is willing to carry him?"

 

And Tsukishima may be jealous of others' sudden closeness with Kageyama.

But he's also not stupid, and quite frankly, yes he's concerned for Kageyama; while he's worried because Kageyama literally just unraveled in the middle of a game and somehow played through the first portion of it almost seamlessly but making normal mistakes (and Kageyama always stood out so the fact he became nondescriptive should've been an alarm itself), he's also really not up for carrying another guy while they're both sweaty.

And King is definitely shorter, and perhaps just slightly smaller if not the same size as Tsukishima given their proportions, but even if he should be lighter judging by those estimations, Tsukishima doubts he can carry him. If anything, Kageyama probably would have an easier time carrying Tsukishima than vice-versa.

"I'll do it," Kuroo offers. 

"You guys don't want to continue the game?" The nurse hums, seemingly indifferent to whatever they do.

"We can, but I think we'd want to wait until Kageyama's status is stable." Daichi shrugs. "I can take him," and Tsukishima notes the strain of anxiousness lining his words, almost obscured behind a sense of reason, and probably just an inability to procure enough energy to properly sound human anyways.

"Nah, this is my school. I know the layout better," Kuroo says. "Besides, wanna make sure Baby is okay."

This time, the nurse's composure does fumble a bit, and Tsukishima nearly wants to bite out that "it's not what you think."

Those words squirm in his throat, and underneath his molten pressure of jealousy, it hardens into steel.

"It'll be faster for all of us, anyways." Kuroo turns to the others. "You guys can continue without me," though, there's obvious hesitation in his tone, "my team's great- they can get themselves together without a leader, if you guys want, I'll even begin a speech-"

"None of us wants to play until we know Kageyama's taken care of," Yaku notes, Lev bounding furiously behind him.

"Ah, my team, so kindhearted-"

"This isn't kindheartedness, this is fundamental reasoning and empathy." Yaku deadpans.

"Ah, my Yaku, growing up so proper and logical-"

"Just go," Kenma orders flatly. 

---

Kageyama woke up, as Kuroo was just about to set him down from his awkward fireman haul.

"BLjaksdljfasd."

And Kuroo decides that maybe he should've done another carry to prevent his shoulder from digging into a nauseated boy's stomach.

"You okay?" Kuroo awkwardly pats Kageyama on the back. 

Kageyama's eyes, glassy and unseeing, shifts over to him. "Mm. My head hurts."

"It's because you have a fever," Kuroo flicks the boy on the forehead, snickering slightly as his reflexes, slowed like syrup, causes him to flinch seconds after. "Don't worry. Nurse Chen here says it's not too serious, he'll be back in a second. He has to call your parents for permission to feed you medicine, so he's out with your teammates to gather contact information. Did you stay out in the rain yesterday?" He scorns playfully, remembering how yesterday was freezing from the storm, despite it being near the summertime.

"...no."

"So you did?"

Kageyama just averts his gaze, and Kuroo can't help but flick him once more against the head, provoking a noise of agitation from him. "God. You're like Kenma when you're sick."

"Huh?"

"Moody. Quiet. Pretty pliant since I'm pretty sure if I made fun of you on a normal day you'd punch me." He muses over that again. "Or Hinata would."

"Where is Hinata?"

"On court."

At this, Kageyama's eyes glisten clarity for the first time, despite the fogginess of them tremoring in their sockets. "whAt-" and his pitch cracks, hoarseness splitting it like he's still struggling through puberty. "I want to be on court too!"

And Kuroo feels any resilience against this immaturity soften: because ouch, he felt that. "Hey, you continue playing on court while sick, then you're not giving it your best, aren't you? And what about your teammates? That's a bit selfish." He jaunts lightly. At this, Kageyama melts back onto the bed, now appearing less angry, and more upset. And Kuroo feels vaguely bad for portraying a negative attitude onto him, but it's also true. "But hey, I get it. Playing volleyball, of course you'd want to be on court." If he wasn't the leader, didn't understand the responsibilities of one, he probably would've done something similar if he was in Kageyama's situation. "It's understandable, and it's an amazing feeling, being on court and having a team to play against."

Kageyama's still sulking, though, he nods. "I'mph. Sorry."

Kuroo stares. Then wheezes. "The fuck is that type of apology?" And laughter fluctuates with his sentence, punctuating it at ugly intervals. "Was that a 'sorry'?"

Kageyama, back to being angry, musters a glower, that is barely threatening due to his high flush and laxness in his facial muscles. "No, don't worry, I love it. Continue saying your apologies that way," Kuroo reassures. Then, another broken wheeze that Kuroo barely bothered to filter out, ruins any sincerity in his words. "But don't apologise to me I don't need one. If you really want to, do it to your teammates, though, I think people are just happy that you're safe." Then, he thoughtfully adds: "besides, I think it's understandable how you felt. Don't beat yourself over it. After all, you definitely understand the sensation of being out on court, don't you? Who doesn't?

Kageyama just drawls his knees up to his chest, and resignedly rests his chin in the dip made between them. "Hey. You'll play with them another time. The fact you held out for so long is amazing anyways," he soothes. And Kuroo really should be heading back- if he doesn't, then the others might think something went awry, and panic isn't something needed right now since they don't know Kageyama's awake.

But Kuroo likes talking to Kageyama. He likes talking to Karasuno in general- he likes to prod at Daichi, slinging an arm around the man who looks very unwilling over his antics and five seconds from crushing his skull like a jawbreaker whenever he and Bokuto appear together. He likes to mess around with Sugawara, an official little shit and when they hang out with Oikawa it becomes a trio who competitively want to strangle each other while simultaneously cooperating long enough to reach the top of Dance Dance Revolution in their downtown's arcade center. He thinks it's great whenever he encounters Tsukishima, who just like his father Daichi, looks terrifyingly close to Losing It™ whenever Kuroo enters within his five-mile radius. And there's Tanaka and Nishinoya, who are effectively like Bokuto, if Bokuto's singular brain cell divided into two, and Kuroo can never beat them at Wii Fit. And Asahi and Yachi, the only two people on the team that Kuroo's too afraid to approach publicly, in case of Kiyoko or Daichi boil his gallbladder in retribution, so he only talks to them when they're not in the rest of the team's vicinity. And Kageyama and Hinata. Hinata is essentially adopted by Bokuto and therefore Kuroo shares joint-custody while they both officially written Daichi out of the company transaction, and honestly-

Kuroo is probably five seconds from adopting Kageyama, too. Tsukishima is a close second, but Kuroo's pretty sure the boy would disown himself first if that ever happened. And he already gets along with Hinata, who's basically Kenma's gateway to society, and Kenma is his first son, so it works out.

And Kageyama is funny. He's usually unaware of Kuroo's sarcasm, and is candid with all his reactions, and honestly- Kuroo barely has the heart to tease him the way he does with Yaku or Tanaka, who rile up just as easily. Probably because Kageyama's natural instinct isn't violence unless if it concerns Hinata.

"Hey, Kageyama, be my child."

Kageyama stares at him, and somehow, still has enough awareness of his surroundings to look disgusted.

Kuroo feels vaguely offended.

"After you eaten your own child that one day-"

"Hey. May just succumbed to natural selection-"

"You named your mayonnaise May-"

"Oi, Baby-chan-"

"You sound like Oikawa-"

Kuroo feels his heart bite the dust at the comparison. "I cannot believe you just did that, for one," he scoffs, "and secondly, I would be a great father. I'll let you know that when I was eleven, I brought home a raccoon and kept him alive for six days. His name was Leo."

Kageyama stares at him, horrified. "I. Did he die? What do you mean for six days-"

"He didn't die!" He says, defensive and faintly affonted, because that was the exact same conclusion the rest of his team made too, when he narrated this story. "It's just that my mom found out about him while cleaning the bathroom and found him taking a bath in the toilet." He sighs. He misses Leo. "Anyways, Kageyama. I quite like you. You know, when you collapsed on court-"

"I collapsed on court?"

 

Hm.

And Kuroo may have forgotten about the trivial fact that technically, Kageyama was really not conscious for the past five minutes.

"Uh. Anyways, I think you'd be a great addition, especially since Tsukki likes you so it must work out-"

At this, Kageyama scowls. "Tsukishima does not like me," he mumbles into his kneecaps, groaning, and Kuroo pins back the boy's sweltering bangs away from his forehead with a hand, concerned by the sudden lethargic dip. "Hates me."

Kuroo ponders over that. "Nah. If he hated you, then he wouldn't have let you rest on his knees," and even if he didn't hate him, he still wouldn't have done that for just anyone, Kuroo supposes. Kageyama's shuffling paralyses underneath his hand, and Kuroo digs through his ugly uniform shorts' pockets, to retrieve a hair clip. It's a brand he always uses for his stupid hair. He pins back Kageyama's bangs, and smirks at the sight. Well, it's for his own good. 

"He let me rest on his knees?"

"Yeah. He." He thinks about it, recalling how they all watched Tsukishima essentially block Kageyama's fall like he was an overglorified volleyball, "uh. Caught you?" He squirms, unsure if that's really the appropriate term, but at this, Kageyama digs his head out of his knees, appearing redder than before, and Kuroo nervously glances at the door, wondering when Nurse Chen is going to return. "I mean. Yeah. Basically. And then he sorta let you use him as a pillow."

Kageyama stares ahead, eyes still watery, and Kuroo looks at the creases of his joints, the way he can just tell they're damp from sweat. He glances about, and heads to the counter. Nurse Chen probably won't mind. He grabs a paper cup, and fills it with tapwater, before returning. Taking a conspicuous second to decide whether or not letting the boy drink it or just watering him like a plant will lower his temperature faster, he finally decides to just act Normal and hand over the damn cup.

"You drink like a kid," Kuroo muses, hearing him gulp down the water and breathe into the cup. "Like those little kids with ashy ankles who come running home covered in dirt and drinking so hard that they don't breathe and instead the world begins to astral project into three different images around them," he explains tonelessly, ignoring how Kageyama, still drinking, eyes him from the side with a nasty lour. "Anyways. You feeling better?"

"Mm. Kinda hot."

"Well. Yeah. You're thirty-eight degrees right now if we pretend like you're not probably over that because you played twenty-minutes of volleyball." He deadpans.

Kageyama, unappreciative little shit, once again, Very Much Like Kenma, appears less than grateful by his answer.

"Wait. So Tsukishima actually helped me out?" Kageyama inquires slowly, words stumbling past a heavy tongue. And he must still be hung up on that. Honestly, Kuroo can't blame him. That boy's idea of helping people out usually includes constructive criticism, with the ratio of constructive to criticism being a generous 1:9. "Why?"

"He was close to you." Kuroo shrugs, trying to remember much on court. Most of his attention was captured by the ball which was flying from Nishinoya's side, he barely noticed Kageyama's sudden collapse until Hinata started screaming along with the audience. "Though, others were close to you too- he just got to you first." And it's strange, by technicality. If it was Nishinoya or Hinata, it would've made more sense: being setter and blocker, those two tend to stay restricted in their own positions, never really getting within each others' ranges, meaning Tsukishima somehow caught onto Kageyama's fall and ran over fast enough to stop it. "Huh. As a blocker, running to you and stopping you from falling," he murmurs nonsensically, though, Kageyama, having the mind of only volleyball, nods along amiably. "Guess he must've had his eye on you," Kuroo concludes flippantly, then stops, freezing at the way Kageyama suddenly erupts, watercolour red dying his expression, an intense and sudden spike in his temperature observable through the crankiness of his flush.

 

Kuroo's mechanisms promptly stop working.

Oh.

"Kageyama?" He calls out meekly, reaching over and flicking the boy on the head, and his entire head bobbles limply, that Kuroo's terrified his neck will snap. "Oi, oi, Babe!" He grasps the boy's shoulder, who remains unresponsive and listless, and oh my god I killed the boy Daichi's going to kill me-

"Hey, hey, is this about Tsukki-" and at the mention of his name, the boy draws taunt, conscious and fine motor skills fizzling alive as he suddenly squeaks, drawing himself onto his legs once more. "Oh geez are. Are you." And he's read enough Yamamoto's school life mangas to interpret this situation. "Don't tell me you happen to like Tsukki, don't you?"

"I don't."

"Sounds awfully defensive." And impressive, considering how just seconds ago, Kageyama was utterly obliterated by his own feelings that he couldn't even properly formulate a verbal response to Kuroo's skyrocketing concern. "You do like Tsukki."

"I don't know."

And that's a very different answer from 'I don't'.

"Do you think you do?"

"I don't know."

"Then what do you know?"

"I don't know!"

Kuroo wants to laugh. Not at Baby or his emotions, but at the ludicrousness of this situation because who would've thought? "You're into guys, Baby?"

And this time, Kageyama doesn't reply at all, his wrists gouging into his sockets, inner arms masking his expression.

"You don't know?" Kuroo says, gentler, getting a better read of this situation.

Stiffly, Kageyama shakes his head.

"That's fine if you don't know. You can do whatever you want. If it worries you, then just don't think about it!"

"That's awful advice."

"I know. I tell myself that every time I'm up at three finishing up a lab report I put off for two weeks."

But, Kageyama sounds less guarded, and more susceptible to conversation after that. "You know, I don't know if I like guys, either," Kuroo admits, characteristically unashamed about the sensitivity of a topic. He can't afford to feel insecure- that's too difficult. He shifts himself onto the creaky office bed, next to the boy. "I think as long as you understand there's nothing wrong with liking or not liking guys, and you don't let yourself think differently of yourself or your romantic future, then things'll work out. Maybe not now, but there's always a future as long as you're open to it." Kuroo bullshits his speeches. He's not good at them. He's better indulging in reports and statistics and things that don't require the risk of guessing. 

Being emotional is difficult, but of course every relationship requires effort.

Kuroo just can't guarantee that the amount of effort he inputs will produce a good outcome. Because this isn't an equation, this is a guess and check. 

"I mean. You're right. But."

"But right now it's scary."

"Yeah." And Kageyama sounds close to crying, and Kuroo really doesn't know if this is an improvement from five seconds ago, but he curls himself up next to Kageyama, unsure if just his words can convey the sympathy he feels for him. Actions always speak louder than words on court- maybe Kageyama feels the same. And he feels bad. Feels bad because Kageyama feels bad, and who wouldn't? "What if people change? When they learn I might like guys?"

"They won't feel disgusted. Feeling disgusted over something like this is for losers."

"Not disgusted, but they might act differently even if they accept me. Like. People aren't mean and maybe they don't mean it, but. It'd be different and they might not know how to react." And Kageyama's much more insightful than credited, Kuroo decides. Forethought isn't Kageyama's strongest suit. But when it comes to insecurities, of course anyone would tap into them.

"I don't really have an answer for that." He can't guarantee things but, "but I know for a fact that they're not unreasonable people. Least of all being Tsukki. And acting or treating people differently because of something biological and constant and unchangeable such as sexuality, isn't very rational. Maybe they're just reacting to learning new information, but in the end, that really isn't 'new'- you were always into guys and there's really no 'change', since it's not like you ever weren't into guys. So I feel like, your team, and not just yours but all of ours, being pretty reasonable and straightforward guys, wouldn't act so illogically by treating you differently." Kuroo begins to map it out. It makes sense in his head. He always felt comforted by reason, by being able to see a logical path.

And knowing Kageyama, who relies on strategy in contrast to others who rely on instinct (and Hinata is a monster composed of instinct and gut-feelings), might feel similarly.

"...what if they don't want to play volleyball with me anymore?"

And Kuroo would've nearly laughed, if he was less sensitive. He swallows. "Even if this doesn't mean much in comparison to Karasuno, I'll still play volleyball with you." Better establish fact first, before making assumptions that his team would. Though, Kuroo is certainly positive they wouldn't ditch him. "And your team is full of good guys. They're great, and fun, and they're extremely loyal. If anything, I bet from the start they forced you to play together as a team, right? They won't just abandon what they've established themselves."

"I know. It's just. Different."

"Different is scary." Kuroo laughs hollowly. 

"What if Tsukishima doesn't like guys?"

And Kuroo smiles sadly. "Nothing you can really do about that, I guess. Some people like guys, some just don't." He states mirthlessly. "But the chances of him liking guys or not are equal, so you have a fair chance."

"I hope he likes guys."

Kuroo this time, does snigger, glancing over, prodding Kageyama's hidden face with a finger. "For your sake, Tobio, I hope so too. I pray the best of luck for you." And really, he was going to smile anyways but he wasn't expecting how unconstrained it would be, as Kageyama peeks out from over his arms. "From now on, don't worry, I'll be you and Tsukishima's biggest cheerleader!"

And expecting Kageyama to smile, or spit on him at the least, he looks over, only to squawk. "I- Baby stop you already have a fever stop getting redder!"

---

Tsukishima fumbles with the ball that Hinata tossed blandly over, noticing a figure emerge from the double-doors. "Kuroo-san returned," his listless tone juxtaposing his stammering heartbeat.

At this, Hinata appears to rebound like a grassblade that was crushed underneath a dirty heel, eyes glittering as he bounds over, distracting the Nurse who's struggling to reach Kageyama's father, after their home number went to voicemail, just like Kageyama's mother's. "KUROO!" 

"HINATA!"

Tsukishima groans, and whips around as he realises he just harmonised with another disgusted sound, and makes unfortunate eye contact with Yaku through the net, who stares back, eyes wide.

Tsukishima has a terrifying abyssal flashback to Kenma's house, when Yaku stared at him with horror as Hinata told his story, which without details, sounds like he was confessing to manslaughter. Before Tsukishima can address his reputation with Yaku, Hinata's loud and obnoxious voice sucks him over. "WHERE'S THE IDIOT? IS HE DEAD-"

"We've established he wouldn't die in the first place," Asahi chuckles awkwardly.

"Unfortunately," Tsukishima can't help but bitterly grumble out of habit. He looks up to tell of Hinata for being a nuisance, when he pauses, feeling a strange fixation on him. He finds the source easily, since Kuroo is nothing but obvious, glancing at him for that comment. Unsettled by the sudden attention (because he always makes comments like these, so why does this feel strange, now?), he forgets to kick Hinata into the sun, lost in his own unease. He averts his gaze, and then, because the world hates him, makes unconventional eye contact with Yaku, who definitely overheard his comment.

Goddammit.

"He's awake!" Kuroo informs joyously. And Tsukishima shakes off his negativity, ignoring the way that the previous mud caking the inside of his lungs melt away, properly allowing him to breathe for the first time in these past tense minutes. 

"Yeah, we were wondering, since you seemed to be taking a long time," Daichi snorts, though, the wrinkles along his eyes seem to lessen, fading away.

"I knew it! Kid has a spark!" Yamamoto growls.

"Kageyama must've not been feeling well," Kinoshita stretches, sounding more relieved than even his usual personality.

"We had a convo. Love that boy," Kuroo shrugs.

"We thought you fucked up," Yaku informs blandly.

"Shut up."

"We thought you dropped him or something."

"Shut. Up."

"KAGEYAMA IS STILL ALIVE RIGHT?" Hinata, who Tsukishima has witnessed tell Atsumu to square up over the last Hot Pocket and basically attempt to mentally one-shot him any chance he gets, especially with Osamu's toxic encouragement in the downfall of his twin brother, looks ready to throw hands at Kuroo for unprecedented murder.

"Tobio's still vibing, don't worry. His fever shot up, though. Might have to send him to the hospital," he says flippantly, but all Tsukishima can generalise out of his sentence is (1), Kageyama's fever got worse, and (2), he's using 'Tobio'.

Tsukishima, still clutching the volleyball, feels his knuckles crack a disjointed rhythm as they invert against the surface of the ball, his grip crunching down on it.

"Did you give him water?" Sugawara questions, looking very close to second-degree murder, depending on Kuroo's response. Kuroo salutes, nodding proudly for doing the obvious. Good for him. "Ah. I guess then we technically should continue the match but. Ukai-sensei is still trying to sort this out. I mean, by a certain point we have to take him to the doctors if his parents don't pick up." He reasons.

"Can we check on him first?" Nishinoya gapes, lunging between Tsukishima and Asahi, peeking between their hips. "Gotta make sure my underclassman is still alive, you know."

"I didn't kill him!" Kuroo says, almost exasperated.

"I don't believe you," Sugawara deadpans.

Tsukishima doesn't, either. "I can go check on him," Tsukishima offers casually, because he might as well, it's not like they're doing anything here as they wait for the referee to resume the game, which neither team is really enthusiastic on continuing without confirmation as to what'll happen to Kageyama right now, anyways. 

"Oh, you can?" Kuroo leers, a tantalizing smile whipping his face into something sly.

Tsukishima narrows his eyes. And before he can ask what's up with his tone, Sugawara K.O's Kuroo on the spot with a sudden kick to the back of his knees. "Agh- what the fuck Suga-"

"Compensation for touching my underclassman." Sugawara smiles happily.

"Uh. He's my son, too." Kuroo gripes.

"No he's not." Daichi shouts from the distance, where he's standing next to Ukai-senpai.

"No, he accepted my invitation."

"For adoption?" Tsukishima says, not following.

"Oi, don't touch my kouhai!" Tanaka growls.

"Okay! Guys, stop-" Daichi squints, "stop doing whatever you were doing," he finishes lamely. "Tanaka put your shirt back on." Tsukishima pointedly does not look behind him. "We finally reached his dad through his office, they gave Dr. Chen permission to feed him over the counter medication, he should be fine if his temperature begins dropping." He informs.

Tsukishima nods, alleviated that there's a firm plan ensuring Kageyama's current safety.

"So for now, we'll just finish this game for the families, and we can just be done," Daichi swallows. "Suga, sub in for Kageyama, and Kinoshita, wanna get on court, too?"

"Coolio." Sugawara beams.

"Don't say that again," Daichi replies shortly, and Sugawara laughs. "Kuroo, how was Kageyama?"

"Uh." And Tsukishina glowers, though, Kuroo's not even looking in his general direction. "He's alive. Well. He really wants to play, though." 

Daichi smiles softly. "Yeah. Of course he does. Health comes first, though. Anyways. Get over on your side of the net, asshole."

"Hey, no swearing on court!" Asahi mumbles.

Kuroo ducks underneath the net, and is swarmed by his teammates. Tsukishima assumed it'd be to ask about Kageyama's condition, until he watches, with the rest of Karasuno, in the distance as Yaku attempts to shatter Kuroo's kneecaps, following it with: "what did you do to Kageyama, dumbass?" that resonates quite easily across the court.

 

"Nice to know everyone has a little bit of Hinata in them," Daichi finally says, as they watch Kuroo get ganged up by the rest of his team, and Lev, who looks oblivious to what's happening, but happy to be included.


[#77??F/ man idek what is happening. and hinata]

[wait fuck this is +1]

 

"He's avoiding me." And he expects at least one or two reassuring 'no's.

"Yeah." Yachi nods grimly.

"Of course," Yamaguchi says, and fails to elaborate.

"He does hate you," Hinata says helpfully.

"Even I can tell," Oikawa nods.

Kageyama takes a second before he whirls his head around so fast that he promptly jerks a muscle, his entire brain crashing. "Wait how did you get into my house?"

Oikawa shrugs, licking the flavouring off of a barbecue chip. "Your mom let me in."

 

Kageyama gags.

"And them, too." He gestures towards the front door, and as if on cue, the door slams open, revealing Kuroo who waves merrily, followed by Sugawara.

"My mom's not even here."

Oikawa, seemingly unbothered by the obvious hole in his explanation, shovels another handful of chips into his mouth. "Your dad, then."

"My dad's on a business trip."

"Oh. Well. You should lock your door better," Oikawa shrugs.

"I did," especially after Oikawa started his random and daily break-ins.

"Clearly not. Your porch was open," he informs indifferently, as if him breaking into Kageyama's house ever since last week isn't a strange occurrence.

The first time it happened, Kageyama have yet to adjusted to people actually being in his house, and therefore had not accustomed himself into locking his doors. Including the bathroom door. This is why he promptly went into a cardiac arrest last week when he looked up from his phone on the toilet and saw Oikawa Tooru staring back at him through the doorway, at seven in the evening.

Now it's been a week, and he's learned to always lock his doors, especially his bedroom during nighttime. 

Kageyama felt a lot better about Oikawa's strange and cryptic appearances when one day, Iwaizumi showed up, looking very apologetic, and gave him a can of Diet Coke and said Oikawa learned his parents were never home and was trying to make him feel less lonely, it's just that he's also an insensitive asshole at times and therefore he's struggling with his own identity crisis.

 

Therefore, Kageyama, out of both pity for Iwaizumi-senpai, and because honestly, it's somewhat comforting to have someone watching horror movies with him at night even though neither of them are good with them, has yet to file a restraining order.

 

He looks at Kuroo who bounds in.

 

He should've filed that restraining order.

 

"Hey Baby!" Sugawara croons. Kageyama promptly ignores him, as well as his sudden shrieking at his rudeness. Sugawara's becoming more and more like Oikawa each day. Kageyama stares murderously at his handful of Chex Mix. He's not liking this development.

"So, what's crack-a-lacking?" Kuroo hums, tumbling over Oikawa who's screaming. 

"THIS DUMBASS IS BEING SAD THAT TSUKISHIMA IS AVOIDING HIM!" Hinata screeches, because he has zero tact and Kageyama is going to kill him, "which is STUPID because Saltyshima doesn't deserve being cried over-"

"Now. That is wrong," Yamaguchi says, flipping to the next page of his comic. "However, I will agree that Tsukki is not being discreet at all-"

"He was discreetly avoiding me?" Kageyama flinches.

Yamaguchi pauses, flickering up from his book. "Uh. Kinda?" Looking very remorseful.

"I noticed that, too." Sugawara hums. "I mean. He's acting like when he first met you," he murmurs sympathetically, crouching beside Kageyama who's adamantly refusing to make eye contact with him. If he begins to look at the pity on his expression, he might just break. 

"Wrong. Tsukishima actually talked to Kageyama that time," Yachi says soothingly, her empathy absolutely contradicting the jabbing truth of her words. 

"He's ignoring you?" Kuroo flares, and Kageyama instantly recalls their strangely intimate conversation, and for just a second, regrets it if it means Kuroo's going to suddenly feel obligated to interest himself in Kageyama's business. "Can't believe my son would do this-"

"I'm your son," Kageyama says blankly, and Kuroo's tension suddenly snaps, his lip quivering.

"Wait. What the fuck. What did you do, don't listen to that asshole he's brainwashing you-" Oikawa gasps, and before Kageyama can properly digest the situation, Oikawa's already grasping his shoulders, despite Sugawara attempting to beat him to death with the couch pillow.

"Hey, hey, he's originally and only mine." Sugawara snarls.

"Baby!" Kuroo's gasping, his voice wet.

"Okay. I'm leaving," Yamaguchi says flatly.

"No, Yama, stay!" Sugawara shrieks. "You guys are all my children and you need to make sure one of you doesn't stray down the dark path!"

"Fuck off!" Oikawa snaps.

"Why is this happening," Yachi murmurs awkwardly, now dipping behind Kuroo, the only terrifyingly tall person who's not attempting to smother Kageyama to death. 

Kageyama envies her.

"Because they're crazy," Kuroo says, as if he wasn't the start of this strange atmosphere. "Anyways, Yachi-san," and Yachi smiles, much more confident around others, even someone as terrifyingly lanky as Kuroo. Kageyama smiles too, despite the fact that he's basically eating stuffing right now. "What are you reading?"

 

"Stop harrassing my children!" Sugawara hisses, and before Yachi can respond to Kuroo's inquiry, Sugawara has already smacked him with the pillow he was previously using to kill Oikawa.

 

Kageyama stares.

"All of you, get out of my house."

---

"When you said 'all of you', why did you literally include yourself?" Yamaguchi asks Kageyama.

"Why did we all leave your house?" Sugawara adds.

"Why are you in front of my house?" Tsukishima rephrases, and Kageyama awkwardly flit behind Kuroo, who somehow followed them, along with the other senpais.

Tsukishima then glances at all of them, and for the first time this week, his stare finally flickers to him, and Kageyama feels his chest constrict from the awkwardness, from not knowing what the boy is thinking. "Leave." He pauses. "Except for Yamaguchi." He then looks down once more. "And Yachi."

"Oi, what about me and Kageyama! You're going to leave us to this the Grand King?" Hinata bristles in Sugawara's hug.

"Suffer." Tsukishima says, and beckons for Yamaguchi and Yachi to enter. 

"You're going to leave your friends to suffer in our grasp?" Kuroo simpers, and before Kageyama can properly assess the situation (and weirdly enough, the strange ball of hurt that's now seeded in his lungs, making it strangely difficult to breathe), Kuroo suddenly yanks him out from behind him, and clasps his hands onto his shoulders. "Tobio, we can hang out then!"

"Ew, get off," Kageyama growls.

"Tobio-chan can stay." Oikawa sniffs. "We can play ball. Maybe it'll teach you a few things."

"You're purposefully leaving me out, aren't you?" Hinata jitters nervously, clearly still uncomfortable with Oikawa's presence. Then again, Kageyama can't think of a single reason as to why anyone wouldn't be.

"Tsukishima, you should be nicer to your peers," Sugawara scorns, clasping his grip around Hinata, who stares defensively at Oikawa out from under his arms.

"Sorry Sugawara-san." 

"So formal," Oikawa mocks. "Anyways, Tobio-chan," he smirks. "I'm going to crush you in volleyball."

"WAIT I WANT TO PLAY-" Hinata barks noisily from Sugawara's grasp, his instinctive needs overwhelming his previous self-preservation instincts against Oikawa.

"You know what, never mind!" Tsukishima sighs. "Hinata." He addresses. "Get in," he nods over his shoulder, where Yamaguchi and Yachi are already staring expectantly, as if they knew his resolve would break. "Kageyama." And Kageyama feels his stomach cramp, nervousness yanking his unsuspecting nerves. "You too," he breathes, resigned.

 

Kageyama flings off Kuroo's arms, glancing behind him to see Kuroo give a very obvious thumbs-up, one that Kageyama pointedly ignores, and with Hinata, barrel past Tsukishima.

"Oi, Grandpa King!" Hinata bellows, having a wave of unknown courage and probably another wave of nausea once the adrenaline passes. "I'll fight you any day!"

Oikawa doesn't even move, it's only his eyes, hooded haughtily, that condescendingly flit to Hinata, before honing in on Kageyama. Kageyama stiffens, muscles reflexively scowling, and Hinata yelps, before ducking behind Kageyama. And before Kageyama can wave goodbye to Sugawara while continuing to ignore Kuroo and glower back at Oikawa, Tsukishima shuts the door, glancing at the two of them who are still in the hallway.

Kageyama makes eye contact with him.

"...you two, take off your shoes."

---

"You were ignoring me." Kageyama addresses the moment he sat down at the dining table.

"Wow. Direct." Yamaguchi murmurs.

"What? Did you miss my attention so much, King?" Tsukishima leers, seemingly back to normal which isn't fair because he was the one who started acting weird in the first place, he can't just irresponsibly ignore it-

"Tsukki, you were ignoring him." Yamaguchi instantly headshots Tsukishima with a bullet of truth and indifference, and Kageyama smirks as Tsukishima glances over, appearing mildly betrayed. 

Then, tone clipped, Tsukishima grits out, "I was."

"...wow." Hinata finally says as Tsukishima does not follow up on it. "Great apology."

"Shut up-" And Kageyama knows he should remain angry, but he's unable to smother a choked laugh as Tsukishima reaches a long arm across the table, and clamps it over Hinata's head, who screeches.

"Kei? Don't kill anyone!" A sudden voice echoes from upstairs.

"Oh! HI AKITERU!" Yamaguchi yells.

"YAMAGUCHI?" The same voice shrieks back, and Kageyama flinches as sudden and rapid footsteps pound from above.

He watches as an extremely tall creature slides in from the entrance of the kitchen. "Whoa. Yamaguchi and other people? Kei? You have friends?"

"Shut up," Tsukishima says, not unkindly, still trying to crush Hinata's skull like a watermelon.

"Stop killing your friends- you already have a limited amount," Akiteru chides, with Tsukishima, looking like a very disgruntled domesticated cat, who'd stare their owner in the eye before batting a vase off the counter. Kageyama jerks as Hinata yowls, and he sees Tsukishima's veins tighten around his wrist. "Stop!" Akiteru then whacks Tsukishima hard on the back, and he finally releases Hinata who chatters, jumping theatrically behind Kageyama's seat.

"Oh! I saw you two in Kei's game!" Akiteru comments. "Ah. You were that amazing setter and you were the one that jumped really high!" Akiteru gapes, and Hinata, now revived from nearly dying, pops out from his typical spot behind Kageyama, blinking rapidly.

"Yeah! Imma be the best player in the world!"

"Wrong! I'll be!" Kageyama barks, shoving Hinata back down, before quickly drawing back his hand, remembering how Hinata's bites are basically toxic and probably transfer flesh-eating bacteria, given how his wrist was black for like four days after that one visit to the mall.

"Awe, a loud and fun bunch. At least I know Kei isn't alone in the corner." Akiteru laughs.

Kageyama blinks, silenced from his fight with Hinata. "He still is though?"

Akiteru laughs, and before Kageyama can think things through, he sees a hand fly through the air, and clap across his face. "Oi, dumbass-" and it's Tsukishima and though Kageyama can sense his impeding doom there's also something fluttery and jittery sitting like PopRocks in the bottom of his throat-

And Kageyama laughs, and he feels the grip on his face slacken, before finally falling off, and Kageyama grins, looking at Tsukishima. "You're no longer avoiding me!" He explains, relieved.

As he finally composes himself, excitement washing away any sense of embarrassment for his uncharacteristic outburst, he glances at Tsukishima to see if he's still angry and- oh. Tsukishima is staring at him, looking not at all happy, yet, not at all angry either, and looking not at all annoyed which itself is weird. Or maybe he is somewhat angry: it'd explain the unnatural pink skimming his ears.

"Oh." Kageyama cranes upwards to look at Akiteru, who's staring at his brother. "I see what's going on."

"No you don't-" Tsukishima grits, and Kageyama snorts, losing grasp of what he was getting at as he's distracted by Tsukishima's flustered reaction to his brother's statement, bounding upwards and attempting to single-handedly explode his brother's skull like an apple.

---

Tsukishima does not know why all these idiots are in his house.

It's disconcerting, that Akiteru seems to have adopted them, as well. 

Yamaguchi is a given. So is Yachi- because she's Yachi, and though mortally unaware of this, also his inner voice of reason that might be the only thing that's refraining him from murdering everyone on some given Wednesday.

But Kageyama?

Even Hinata is understandable: Tsukishima certainly finds him obnoxious and easy to tease, but they don't argue nor are they aggressive past being rude. Meanwhile, Tsukishima is always five seconds from curbstomping Kageyama's head so there's that.

He also may want to hug him.

Which illustrates an equally disturbing image.

Maybe that is why he's locked himself in his bedroom, while he hears Yamaguchi struggle to explain to Hinata why he has to do his geometry homework. Whatever. Most likely, Yachi is preoccupied with making sure the King actually finishes his worksheet with right answers. 

He hears his door creak open.

"Akiteru you should knock," Tsukishima repeats, used to his brother's bad habits, as he continues reading the caption of the picture in his chemistry textbook.

"Oh. Sorry."

He cranes up, because that is not Akiteru.

"What the fuck are you doing." 

"Looking for you." Kageyama answers with brutal honesty that simultaneously increases Tsukishima's homicidal intent as well as his weird gunky and melting resolve against Kageyama. Kageyama doesn't even appear pissed. 

Actually he technically does, but Tsukishima knows he's not actually pissed.

"So you decide to automatically discard all your manners? This isn't your house," Tsukishima scorns, feeling satisfied with Kageyama's sputtering, clearly unable to draw up a retort.

"I just. Wanted to see you." 

And Tsukishima nearly throws his phone across the room and choke himself with his headphone chords because what the fuck. He whips around, because the audacity the boy has to say such shit that sounds as if they imply more than what he knows the King is saying (because Kageyama is probably incapable of thinking of relationships outside of volleyball- probably never thinks about friendships either-), and freezes, instantly regretting how he didn't kick Kageyama out the moment he heard him.

Kageyama, looking not just disgruntled about admitting so, looks absently shy at his confession.

"Why?" Tsukishima questions coldly, and relishes in how Kageyama flinches, because good. He doesn't think he himself can handle anymore of this. 

"Because I like you."

This time Tsukishima has a visceral and satisfyingly violent image of taking Kageyama's head off with his desk stapler.

"Did Yamaguchi put you up to this?" And Yamaguchi wouldn't- he's definitely gained enough confidence to tease back at him over the year, but not to do something riskily insensitive. But, Yamaguchi might've asked Kageyama to reestablish their friendship, indirectly convincing him about the idea that maybe Kageyama they could become something, but that's not going to help. If anything, it feels almost worse.

He hates this.

"I- what? No!" Kageyama stammers, his low voice pitching amusingly high. "I just wanted to say I like you."

"Okay." Tsukishima remarks unwaveringly. "Do you want me to say it back?" He taunts. He won't. He absolutely won't.

Now, Kageyama is flushed, clearly humiliated. Hopefully he regrets this; he deserves it for saying something so stupid.

"Are you dense?" Kageyama suddenly snips, sounding more pissed than before. "Dumbass!"

Tsukishima recoils, startled because him?

"No? But you are."

"I'm trying to say I like you! Like! Like like you."

"...right." Tsukishima calmly places his bookmark back into his textbook. And slides open his bedroom window.

"Wait."

Tsukishima removes the outerpane.

"Are you jumping."

He places his hand outside. It's warm. A good day.

"Asshole what the fuck do you hate me that mu- oi stop it!"

---

"So. Kageyama likes Kei?" Akiteru sums up.

"Uh. Maybe," Yamaguchi shrugs, unsure.

"But Kei definitely likes Kageyama," Akiteru remarks without skipping a beat, and Yamaguchi laughs nervously, unwilling to confide something so secretive, yet, Akiteru looks like he needs no convincing as he knocks Hinata with a blue shell without any remorse. They've given up on studying, and Hinata looks very close to giving up on Mario Kart as well.

"Wait. What!" Hinata shrieks.

"Sorry." Akiteru says, not sounding very sorry at all.

"No I mean! There's no way they allllways fight and they're kinda friends but they're fighting friends you know!" Hinata squabbles.

"Hm. No, I definitely started seeing Tsukishima develop an interest with Kageyama," Yachi admits, and Yamaguchi beams. So smart and insightful. "I think Kageyama might like Tsukishima too. Or not. I mean. I can't really...well you know-"

"-see him liking anyone," Yamaguchi finishes uneasily, the prospects low for his best friend. Akiteru grimaces, looking very empathetic as he ruthlessly shoves Yamaguchi's Princess Peach off the track.

Yamaguchi slaps the control onto his lap, and silently, he stares at him judgmentally from across the L-couch.

"Yeah. He seems. Too volleyball focused." Yachi summarises.

"No! Kageyama is smart focused-" and Yamaguchi blinks. This is the first time he's heard Hinata call Kageyama smart, strange, considering his usual nicknames for Kageyama. "So he only cares about volleyball! He wouldn't like someone as mean as Stingyshima anyways," he huffs.

Yamaguchi is ready to rebuttal that, when he hears a very loud shout that sounds very suspiciously like Kageyama. Akiteru's Bowser rams into a pillar at the sound, as the player himself quickly turns to Yamaguchi, eyes wide.

"I knew we shouldn't have left them alone." And they're going to kill each other. Hastily, Yamaguchi stumbles onto his socked feet.

---

"Oh."

"This is fine," Akiteru comments, staring at the scene.

Yamaguchi slowly lifts up his phone, and begins to take a picture of Tsukishima, who already has half of his body out the window, the only thing keeping him from escaping through it being Kageyama, who's stubbornly gripping his waist, face slammed against his back and feet propped against the wall for leverage.

"Huh." Yachi says, looking distinctively out of it and seconds away from fainting.

"OI KAGEYAMA YOU CAN'T JUST RESORT TO MURDER!" Hinata scolds. 

"I wasn't! He was!" Kageyama shouts, words barely coherent as they're muffled by Tsukishima's back.

"Wow Kageyama. He must really dislike you," Yamaguchi compliments ironically, making sure it's loud enough for Tsukishima to hear.

At this, Kageyama looks ready to actually release Tsukishima and let him accomplish his dreams. "I know. I told him I liked him and the first thing he does is try and jump."

Yamaguchi inhales.

And then exhales. 

And then, gets automatically steamrolled by Hinata: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN LIKE HIM-" and he's not even shouting for dramatics, Yamaguchi is just pretty sure this is his default voice by this point.

"Okay. By 'like'. You mean," and Yamaguchi waits for Kageyama to clarify things because there's no way the boy meant anything other than platonic emotions when-

"Like. Like like. Confessed!" Kageyama grunts, and this time, Yachi does collapse straight on Tsukishima's carpeted floor.

 

Yamaguchi stares, his smile still on his face, right as God sledgehammers him with an epiphany and religious scolding of blasphemy for doubting Kageyama Tobio's ability to constantly surpass his expectations.

 

All of a sudden, Yamaguchi feels rather distinct pity for Kageyama, suddenly seeing this situation. "Damn. And he just. Went for the window?" Yamaguchi summarises.

"He just went for the window!" And though it's very faint and buried within the gruffness of his voice, Kageyama sounds mildly hurt.

Fair enough.

"Imagine confessing and your crush just automatically catapults off the second floor," Yamaguchi murmurs. "Tsukki, I thought you would have more tact." He gripes, tongue clicking the back of his teeth. He pauses. "Wait, a minute, what the heck," and this makes zero sense. "Tsukki, he's your crush too, what the heck are you doing-"

"This is a trainwreck," Akiteru comments lightly, looking on casually as if his brother isn't trying to parkour out of his bedroom window and the only thing preventing him from doing so is a humanised lasso.

"Is no one going to help Yachi?" Hinata inquires, looking very distraught and ashy. "And uh. Kageyama. You like Saltyshima?"

"Yes!" Kageyama admits with bold and a rather in-character absence of shame, and Yamaguchi watches in horror as Tsukishima apparently pulls harder, hands flat against the frame of the window, and Kageyama goes stumbling forward before leaning back.

"I think Kei's just embarrassed." Akiteru says.

And right. Yamaguchi was so entirely focused on Kageyama's portion of this not-yet relationship that five minutes ago he would've considered unbelievable and unattainable-

That he completely forgot that his childhood best friend, Tsukishima Kei is absolutely shit at feelings.

---

"So. You tried to jump out the window." 

"You didn't stop me," Tsukishima responds liltingly, though, he appears vaguely embarrassed for his overall unusual dramatics, as deserved. 

"Oh. Yeah. I totally didn't," Akiteru laughs, and Tsukishima looks prepared to uppercut him to God's welcome mat. "But anyways. What are you two?" He points at Tsukishima, who flushes, and Kageyama, who straightens harshly in his seat.

"Teammates?" Kageyama stammers meekly, looking very unsure as to where this is going.

"Don't respond like this is a multiple choice test." Yamaguchi advises kindly. "He means your relationship."

Kageyama looks Yamaguchi in the eyes.

"...team....mates?"

Yamaguchi exhales.

He understands Tsukki's pain.

"STUPID!" Hinata says, from where he's recovering from anaphylactic shock from exposure to emotions and Tsukishima's presence as a whole. "He means like are you guys dating or-?"

Tsukishima stills, looking very uncomfortable, and now Kageyama's the one staring at Tsukishima's dismantled window.

"I mean. It's fine if you guys aren't, you guys can take all the time you need to think about it and establish stuff," Akiteru shrugs. "Even if you two like each other-"

"We don't!" Tsukishima says sharply.

"Yes we do." Kageyama remarks bluntly. And, for once, it looks like Tsukishima's the one loss for words. Yamaguchi inwardly snickers. That's probably good for him, anyways- it's a humbling experience.

Actually. Yamaguchi decides this is not the first time Tsukishima has absolutely no idea how to respond to Kageyama, and instead, leaving him on Read irl because sometimes Kageyama's claims are rather astonishing. Such as Kageyama's bold exclamation that a kazoo is subspecies of a kangaroo.

"I mean. I said I liked you." And this time, even Kageyama's pale visage stains pink, "and um. They. They just said you liked me-" and his confidence is dwindling, which is not good.

"He does!" Yamaguchi reassures loudly, cheering him on, and Tsukishima glares at him nastily. Yamaguchi gives him a thumbs-up. Tsukishima flips him off.

"Oh." And Kageyama slouches, glancing at his lap, countenance now interestingly, a deeper shade of steaming red.

Tsukishima looks like god spedrun him through the seven stages of grief, except they've glitched and now he's stuck on stage 'depression'.

"Do you want us to leave you alone?" Akiteru inquires slowly. "Now that I'm no longer afraid that Kei is going to try and meet God in the quickest way possible, I'm sure we can give you guys some alone time if you'd want."

"No need!" Kageyama proclaims boldly, standing up from his spot on the bed, effectively startling Yachi out of her own impossibly conscious coma, and causing Tsukishima to flinch from his sudden movements. "Um. Tsukishima, I like you very much! And you like me too-" And Yamaguchi's going to scream because this is awful but so very dramatic and very very Kageyama Tobio-esque, and Tsukishima looks like he's being ostracised into the seventh circle of hell-

"Asshole!" Tsukishima, ever the romantic, spits very loudly, appearing utterly unraveled into an atypical mental state of embarrassment solely due to Kageyama's lack of tact, and Yamaguchi can feel himself smiling, because he sounds so happy.

"So. Please go on a date with me!" Kageyama shouts, now clasping Tsukishima on the shoulders, who's now equally loud in shock, and this is all falling a part but Yamaguchi can see the way Tsukishima's blushing as well, despite being wrangled onto the bed by Kageyama who's now taking full initiative and attempting to half-strangle Tsukishima as if afraid the boy is going to try and escape again.

"Whoo, Kageyama!" Yachi's laughing as well, beaming as she claps her hand and Yamaguchi looks over at Akiteru who looks utterly dumbfounded by the fact that his baby brother is currently being confessed by a volleyball fanatic who's now straddling on his chest, treating him like a malfunctioning coin bullride and looking five seconds away from homicidal intent even though Yamaguchi knows that's just Kageyama's serious face-

"I feel like this is coming out of the blue," Hinata remarks, clearly still disgruntled he's the last one to know.

"Nah." Yamaguchi snorts, glancing back at Tsukishima, who's now chopping Kageyama in the head, attempting to throw him off though Kageyama seems very intent on remaining half-crushing Tsukishima until he gets an answer, "this was coming for a long time."

 

And, as the noise dies down, Yamaguchi can detect the faint: "fucking fine. It's not like anyone else is going to date a dumbass like you, I guess."