Needy breaths and quiet mewls broke the silence of the night, and the cold post-winter air seemed distant with how their skin pressed tight against each other in the dark of the room. With a hitched exhale against the other set of lips on his, Yamaguchi digs his fingers on the surface of Tsukishima's back as the taller boy bucks his hips on the other.
"Kei..." The freckled boy let another shaky breath escape him and he grinds up to meet Tsukishima's movements, the warmth and pressure of their exposed desire sending jolts up his spine. The same sparks traveled up to Tsukishima, and Yamaguchi felt the way his muscles relax and tense up and then relax again at every wave. Yamaguchi's eyes trailed over at Tsukishima's features hovering above him, the faint blue glow from the crescent mark etched on his chest illuminated the drops of sweat decorating his arms and his dark golden eyes ever so slightly. Yamaguchi suppressed a moan at the sight.
Tsukishima's fingers moved to caress Yamaguchi's cheek down to the crevice of his neck, and lightly brushing over the spots on his shoulder and the back of his arm. Yamaguchi sighed at the fluttering touches the blond made and the lingering burn it seemed to leave in its wake. He reached up to run his own palm on Tsukishima's warm chest to feel his heart racing beneath, over the mark that glowed in sync with his own. The mark Tsukishima shared with him in a way, the one that sealed their fates from the moment they were born.
It was all so unreal to Yamaguchi. From the way Tsukishima handled him gently to how he seemingly worshipped the stars on his skin was too good to feel real. Until now, he was still convinced that he was dreaming.
After all, it was hard growing up thinking you were a lonely soul living in a world where your significant other was predestined by a mark on your body.
Yamaguchi is still so young, and still had a lot of room to grow into. Yet he felt left out amongst a crowd of people his age, whose marks showed gracefully down their arms, their legs, across their backs. Some had them smaller, fitting snugly by the nape of their neck or tattooed like a bracelet around their wrists. But it was there nonetheless. He could see them. Yamaguchi must've looked at every part of his body already, spent days recounting every area and gazing at his naked reflection on a mirror. And he frowns every time, crestfallen.
"When will my mark appear?" He remembered asking his parents once. He was met with a sad glance and a pat on the head. And that was that.
Slowly over the years, Yamaguchi learned to not mind it as much anymore. If he was destined to be on his own for the rest of his life, then so be it. It wasn't a big deal. Or so what he kept telling himself until he reached high school.
Yamaguchi was once again surrounded by people who flaunted the beautiful markings that adorned their skin. He took note of the ones he'd seen. A heart shape was a common mark, and other shapes as well like a spade or diamond or a vague shape of a flower. Some had detailed ones; they're usually the bigger ones that covered a large patch of their skin. He remembered one of his classmates having a majestic tribal-looking mark that draped his arm like a sleeve. One of the weirder marks he's seen was probably the handprint that was etched on one of his classmate's necks. Some people had similar looking ones, almost matching, but that doesn't say anything about who their partner was. No.
He was told once, that when two people of the same pair found each other, the mark they share would glow with their emotions.
How it worked confused him at first. Nevertheless, it filled Yamaguchi with envy he hasn't felt since he was a child.
It was a ruckus; the day Kageyama and Hinata found out that they were soulmates. They high-fived only once and Kageyama's touch lingered a second longer than intended, but that made the cross on Kageyama's wrist glow a bright blue just in time with the sun-shaped mark on the back of Hinata's neck. They bickered (like always) with red faces, and they had disagreements with it and Daichi had to pry them apart and keep them from strangling each other.
It made Yamaguchi curious. He wondered if the others had them as well.
Of course they did. You were the only one who didn't have them. Yamaguchi's own voice rang in his own mind. His heart felt heavy.
"Hey Tsukki," He found himself calling out to his friend when they were left alone changing in the clubroom. "What's your mark?"
Tsukishima raised an eyebrow at him and he stopped in the middle of pulling his shirt over his head. Yamaguchi felt his face heat up at what he asked. "--I mean, you don't have to tell me! I was just curious I guess... I've never seen it before so..."
The blond didn't say anything after that and Yamaguchi thought he had dropped the question already. Yamaguchi really was curious. He’s never seen Tsukishima’s mark before. He’s been friends with the boy for nearly five years yet it never really came up to them. Perhaps Yamaguchi was too busy trying to ignore the whole ordeal when he was a child to even ask before now. He exhales quietly, until he felt Tsukishima's shoulder brush gently against his to get his attention. He gestured a finger over at the left side of his chest.
A crescent moon. Somehow, Yamaguchi wasn’t surprised.
Silence took over the room again, with only the faint sound of rustling clothes heard. Yamaguchi turned his back to Tsukishima to finish changing. The blond spoke up again with a monotone voice.
"What about you? I haven't seen yours,"
Yamaguchi tensed up and he felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He stood there; shirt rucked up around his slightly trembling arms. A wave of embarrassment washed over him and he felt the urge to bolt out of there just to avoid the question. The brunet didn't exactly know how to answer that. It's not like he's seen his own mark himself.
"Well..." He turned around sheepishly to face the taller boy, arms retracted back to his own space. He redirected his gaze elsewhere, raising a hand to scratch absentmindedly on his head. The words trailed off his lips, not really bothering to say anything else as he presented his shirtless self to Tsukishima, hoping that maybe he'd get the message.
Tsukishima hummed disinterestedly after a minute or two. And he slung his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the room.
After Kageyama and Hinata’s revelation, Yamaguchi could’ve sworn that the amount of glowing marks increased around him. He would notice Sawamura suddenly get fidgety while he fiddled with the hem of his shirt whenever Sugawara would get near, hiding the faint light coming from beneath his clothes. He would hear the sound of Yachi and Kiyoko’s laughter from the back of the school as Yamaguchi passes by, the matching shadows of crows that was placed on their forearms would glow in sync with their wavering voices. He would see a girl from his class get picked up by her boyfriend after class, and the moment they touch their hands together, the heart on the back of her hand would glow the same time the other boy’s mark on his forehead would.
He felt left out of it all, and Yamaguchi had never felt the feeling of loneliness sink so deep before. In between, however, he felt curious as well.
Asahi and Nishinoya were clearly dating, yet whenever Tanaka and Noya shares a fist bump or a high five or when Tanaka would carry him around the gym just because, the oriental styled mark that sleeved Nishinoya’s right arm would light up with Tanaka’s Celtic tattoo across his upper back.
Yamaguchi wondered if it was possible.
He wondered if it was possible for someone like him to have a chance.
A chance of falling in love with someone who wasn’t his soulmate.
“Ugh. They’re just really persistent with this,” Tsukishima groaned one late afternoon, walking side by side with Yamaguchi as the blond carried a paper bag filled with letters and small gifts from girls who wished him an early Valentines’. “What am I supposed to do with this much chocolate? I don’t even like sweets,”
Yamaguchi laughed. Tsukishima says that yet he has this strong fondness for strawberry shortcakes. “Maybe you can give them to me, then,” The brunet says playfully.
“Actually, that’s not a very bad idea. Here,” Tsukishima shoves the bag in Yamaguchi’s direction. “Keep the letters too. I don’t care what you do to them,”
“Eh? Tsukki, “ Yamaguchi starts and tries to push the bag back with a breathy laugh. “I’ll take the chocolate but you should at least keep the letters, you know? It’s kinda harsh for you to just ignore them like that,”
“So what? It’s not like I’m planning on answering one of them,”
“Tsukki,” Yamaguchi shoots him a look, but the smile never left his face.
The blond boy returns the raised brow Yamaguchi gave him before scoffing and pulling the bag back. “Yeah, yeah alright,”
“Ah, Tsukki!” Yamaguchi beamed suddenly, making Tsukishima flinch beside him. “Do you wanna go get something to eat? The Foothills store is right there,”
He didn’t notice the blond call after him because he was already dashing ahead to the convenience store about a few meters away.
An arm around his shoulder and a hand gripping tightly on his right elbow jerked Yamaguchi back a few steps. It took him about five seconds to process that a car had sped by just a few inches in front of him. He stilled on his spot, blinking his eyes.
"God Yamaguchi, would you please look where you're going?" Tsukishima's voice sounded exasperated, feeling his breath so close to his ear. The blond's grip on his shoulders loosened after a few moments and the hand on his arm lowered. "I swear one of these days, you're gonna get yourself killed because you're an idiot who doesn't look both ways when crossing the street,"
The brunet stared at his friend, silent and at awe. It was one of those days that Yamaguchi could see just how cool Tsukishima was, times like these which reminded him of what he liked most about the blond, and what he wanted to become himself.
He stared and stared. And stayed quiet. Because Tsukishima didn't let go of his hand even when they've walked the short distance to the Foothills store.
However, it didn't get better for Yamaguchi at all for the next few months. If anything, he felt a lot worse.
Being born without a mark and having to live with it was one thing, and despite having to live with it for the rest of his life, Yamaguchi thought that maybe he could get used to it. Maybe, just maybe, given enough time, he wouldn't mind it anymore again and whenever someone would ask about it, he would just say that his mark was hidden somewhere people would be uncomfortable to see. It wasn't his fault that he wasn't born with one. It wasn't like he could've done something about it.
Volleyball though, he could've done better. A lot better. Not only did he feel left out by being the only first year that wasn't in the line-up, he felt like he was a drag; an anchor that sank and sank under the dark abyss while he pulled the ship to a stop with him. Yamaguchi was afraid. Afraid that he might one day not only halt the ship that sailed Karasuno's success, he might sink it with his weight.
The moment the ball hit the net, the moment the score of the other team went up another digit, it felt like his world came crashing down.
It was only one point. One point, Tadashi. Don't beat yourself up over it. He tried consoling himself.
He shrunk lower, hugging his knees to his chest and burying his face on his arms.
One point. You let one point slip. What kind of server are you if you can't even get one point over the net? That's not how pinch servers work.
A whimper escapes his lips and Yamaguchi bit back the sobs that threaten to spill. On one hand, he was thankful that he hid himself pretty well at the back of the gym after practice so no one would see him in his pathetic state. He had tried his hardest to keep his composure during practice that day, tried to give his biggest smile and his best imitation of Hinata's determination and enthusiasm about the upcoming Spring Tournament. But he knew himself that if he kept at it, he would exhaust himself and he would break the façade he had set up. On the other hand however, he wished someone would be here with him, someone who would hear him cry and maybe he would feel like he was real again.
Yamaguchi almost jumped out of his skin, but he stopped himself from prying from his arms in fear of being seen with tears rolling down his cheeks. Especially by his best friend.
He felt faint warmth from beside him where the blond had seemed to sit close and Yamaguchi tensed. Tsukishima wasn't one to be all about touching. It was a big no for him and he got all different kinds of cranky and uncomfortable whenever someone would even so much as to shake hands with him. Yamaguchi seemed to be an exception to this, and the freckled boy knew, but he never tried to even cross that line before. The last thing he needed was a very grumpy Tsukki giving him the stink eye.
Tsukishima was silent. Always was. He wasn't all too big in saying words either, even more so when using them to comfort others. All he was ever good at is to throw snarky remarks with that mouth of his after all.
So Yamaguchi wasn't surprised at all when Tsukishima kept his mouth shut. What he found worthy of a hitched breath and a blank mind was when Tsukishima circled his arms around the brunet's form, leaning on him and resting his chin on his mop of brown hair.
There it was. A shoulder to cry on. It was a first and Yamaguchi was quietly overwhelmed.
Slowly loosening his own arms around his knees and wrapping them around the blond's waist, Yamaguchi snuggled into Tsukishima's embrace as he muffled his own sobs on the other's shirt. Tsukishima's hand started rubbing circles on his back as Yamaguchi sniffled, almost missing Tsukishima's smoothing whispers saying "It's okay" and "Don't worry about it anymore" over his sobs. Yamaguchi cried even harder, because he's not even sure anymore if he's still crying over his failure or because of Tsukishima's display of affection. Either way, it both overwhelmed him that he couldn't do much other than cry. So that he did.
Light behind closed lids caught Yamaguchi's attention and he fluttered his eyes open to see faint blue light seeping through Tsukishima's practice shirt. But that was only one of the things that he gaped upon.
There on his own arm, a line connecting one dot to another made his breathing stop.
Tsukishima must've notice him pull away slightly so he did as well, following Yamaguchi's line of sight on his chest glowing blue. He locked eyes with Yamaguchi after a split second of processing, and Yamaguchi saw blue reflect on Tsukishima's golden eyes, almost as if the light was coming from Yamaguchi's own cheeks. It did.
It happened quite quickly, but almost immediately Tsukishima stood up and wordlessly dashed away, leaving Yamaguchi slumped on the wall and staring at empty air. The light that emitted from the two of them was long gone.
That night, Yamaguchi found himself in front of a mirror, just like all those years ago when he was still looking for his mark. Except now, he finally found them. And he spent hours on end trailing invisible lines between one freckle to another, forming constellations on his face down to his arms and legs.
He didn't know how to approach Tsukishima about it. Not with the way the blond subtly seemed to jerked away whenever he was near. Tsukishima kept his distance, pulled his headphones over his ears to block everything out like always. Only this time, Yamaguchi was one of them.
It felt like an eternity, but it was only for around a couple of months of Tsukishima keeping this up. Whatever relief that surfaced itself from years of being convinced that he was a lonely soul, it was replaced by a sinking feeling all too familiar to Yamaguchi that it made him scared.
Was Tsukishima repulsed with finding out that Yamaguchi was his soulmate? Was that why he was avoiding him this whole time?
Yamaguchi pushed these thoughts away despite its persistent nagging on the back of his mind, drowning it all with his newfound determination and keeping himself distracted by practicing his jump float serve.
He didn't know how long it would take him to keep it up however.
He just wanted to reassure Tsukishima that, despite their recent discoveries, they could still be friends. Right? That a glowing mark that meant that they should be together can't get in between of the fact that they're still friends and nothing more. Nothing more. He can tell Tsukishima that.
All that leaves the brunet's mouth was, "The way you've been lately is really pathetic!"
He hated this. He hated the way Tsukishima treated himself and how little he thought about how much more he could do if he tried pushing his limits even a little. It was infuriating. He had the height, the mental capacity and the physicality to be the best in the sport both he and his brother once loved. These were things Yamaguchi wanted-- no, needed. It was what he was aspiring to have, and to be, and he's still working on getting that. While here Tsukishima was, throwing it all away by saying it didn't matter to him. It was unfair. Saying that it doesn't matter was such an insult to Yamaguchi. It was like an insult directed at him and everything he's worked hard for. And Yamaguchi has had enough.
"Motivation? What more do you need than pride?!"
He never really did stop caring about Tsukishima. Even if the blond seemed to try and cut his ties with Yamaguchi after all these years. Even if it hurt Yamaguchi to say these words, and to say the words he's been practicing in his head.
The light from the lines on Yamaguchi's arms glowed stronger compared from the last time as he held Tsukishima by the collar of his shirt. And this time, the blond was rendered silent, ignoring the quick beating of his heart under the crescent moon that glowed in sync with the stars on Yamaguchi's skin.
"Yamaguchi," the blond stood by the door outside the clubroom as he called out, calm and collected, when Yamaguchi finally walked out. The freckled boy turned to him, and he looked like a quivering child before getting scolded by their mother.
Tsukishima sighed and waited for a few seconds for Yamaguchi to drop his guard, and he scratched the back of his neck. He spoke, hesitantly. "I'm sorry,"
Yamaguchi's lips slowly tilted upwards at that. His smile turned sheepish in a second and he ran his palm across his own arm in a bashful manner.
"It's... It's alright, Tsukki. I mean-- I should be the one who's sorry. I shouldn't have yelled at you like that and--"
"No, that's not what I meant," Tsukishima cut him off. The look Yamaguchi gave him urged him to continue. "I'm sorry for... Ignoring you... Like that," Tsukishima spoke in pauses, plucking out the words carefully.
It was like the anchor that made Yamaguchi feel strained was finally cut. Yamaguchi breathed out and he smiled, but forlornly. He could say them now.
"It's nothing. It must've been a shock for you to find out that I'm your... Well... Anyway," The freckled boy looked at him with bright and brave eyes. "I guess it just means that I'm not leaving your side anytime soon. And it means that I'll always be here when you need me. We can always be just friends, right Tsukki?"
Tsukishima furrowed his brows at that. "But I don't want to be friends,"
Yamaguchi's heart wouldn't stop beating around his chest when he said his share of words and he felt it stop the moment Tsukishima said his. But when Yamaguchi eyed the other's features, Tsukishima's eyes casted to the side with lips straight and his cheeks tinting pink up to the tip of his ears, he knew right then and there that Tsukishima meant something else by not wanting to be friends.
He wanted to hear it from Tsukishima himself. Frankly, he was getting tired of reading into the other boy's twisted words and expressions, even if it was only this one time. But Tsukishima's already dashing past him, muttering sorry under his breath.
"Wait," the freckled boy reached for Tsukishima's hand and gripping it tightly. He didn't loosen it when the blond turned around to face him.
Tsukishima blinked, breathing heavily through his parted lips and Yamaguchi can't help but feel the nervousness shake on the hand on his. The setting sun shone over both of them and bathed them in warm yellow, yet the cool blue coming from under Tsukishima's shirt seemed to stand out. Yamaguchi's eyes trailed downwards his own arms and the lines that jumped from one spot to another started to appear, forming constellations that shone just as bright as the star over by the horizon. It might've shone even brighter.
"Yamaguchi," the blond muttered. And slowly, he asked. "Do you like me?"
For some reason, that made a laugh bubble from Yamaguchi's throat. The way Tsukishima said it, so meek and caring and just so unlike him, was so new and different. Tsukishima's ears turned even redder and he fiddled with the rim of his glasses with the hand that wasn't clasped in Yamaguchi's. The brunet leaned forward to wrap his arms around the taller boy, pulling him close in a heartfelt embrace, as if to answer his question. Tsukishima seemed to get it at least, and Yamaguchi felt a warm sigh against the base of his neck where the blond had buried his face.
"I'm sorry," Tsukishima repeated. "I didn't mean to ignore you. I got embarrassed that day. When we..."
Yamaguchi laughed again, pulling away to look at the blond's face and he tilted his head forward to meet his lips with a grin.
That was the day Yamaguchi's heart felt the fullest. In normal circumstances, he wouldn't have felt all too good about being wrong about certain things. Although now, he was more than glad. Glad to know that he wasn't so alone as he previously thought. Glad that he was able to better himself along the way. Glad that the freckles he's hated for as long as he can remember were something beautiful, albeit they were hidden from him for such a long time.
He was reminded of the last one almost every day, every time Tsukishima brushes his fingers over the freckles on his forearm and kisses the ones on his cheeks down to his neck.
Especially now, with how Tsukishima handled him with such delicacy as he pushes himself inside him, breathing soft reassurances in his ear and prepping his jaw in small kisses that threw Yamaguchi out of his mind. The light from the constellations that is the marks scattered across his body matched that of the bright moon over Tsukishima's heart. His palm smoothed across Tsukishima's chest, and then clawing at the warm skin as he neared to a close, arching his back and grinding his hips upwards to meet his lover's and letting out a sweet moan of Kei's name.
Even in the hours after they've given their all to each other, and all that's left for them to do is to share the never ending warmth and rest their weary limbs, the light didn't fade and Tsukishima never fails to leave traces of his lips over a cluster of luminous spots by Yamaguchi's collarbone. Yamaguchi watches him trail a lazy finger on his neck, following a line of patterns over and over again.
"Libra," Tsukishima mutters tiredly, breaking the cold but comfortably silent air. He traces the pattern again to emphasize. "You have it here. That's my sign,"
Yamaguchi breathes a soft laugh. "I know,"
"And yours is right here," the blond raises his head and shifts his body so his weight drapes over Yamaguchi's form and his head is resting on the brunet's chest. He brings a finger to his face, trailing the pattern for Scorpio on his left cheek. The constellation crinkles when Yamaguchi smiles and his eyes flutter shut.
Tsukishima smiles back and lays his head back down as he snuggles closer to Yamaguchi. The brunet laughs, because the way Tsukishima was so close and so affectionate was all still new. But he wasn't one to complain, not with the way Tsukishima's everything was pressed up against his and the way it makes him all warm and full and just complete.
He feels the blond's breathing even out, and Yamaguchi thinks that he probably fell asleep already. Yamaguchi raises his own arm, eyes watching the flickering light the lines emit.
They glow ever so bright. Yamaguchi's quite sure this is the brightest they've been so far.