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Building Foundations

Chapter Text

It's the second day of the Inter High and your mood couldn't be better. Your team along with you will advance to the finals the next day.

You just won against Datekou and it was your toss to Hinata which scored you the last point.

He's walking right next to you in the hallway and he's grinning like the idiot you like to call him but right now you don't even care because you're feeling the exact same way he does.

"Kageyama-kun, that toss was perfect!" he says joyfully and jumps forward high up into air as if to imitate the movements he did during the game but the moment his feet hit the floor, he almost trips over a dark object lying on the ground.

"Dumbass!" you yell at him, while he still manages to catch himself before he falls flat on his face.

"What was that?" He asks confused and after you're sure he's okay, you go after the object HInata just kicked away.

"I don't know." you answer as you pick it up and almost immediately after you correct yourself. "It's a wallet."

"Oooooh! Someone must have lost it!" Hinata says in a loud voice and it doesn't take him long to be next to you again. "Who does it belong to?"

You open it and there is an ID card inside with a name and face you know to well.

"It's Kunimi's"

But Aoba Jousai's bus is already gone, and they won't be here tomorrow either.

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There were easier ways to deal with what you've found. You could have given it to one of the stuff members in Sendai. Or you could have just send it via mail and yet you're standing here right in front of his door with his wallet in your hand.

You figure, maybe it's because you know him and owe him in some way that you wouldn't want to let Hinata handle the situation either. You've been teammates with him for years after all, even if it wasn't the best time of your life.

It takes you some time to do so but eventually you find the courage to ring the doorbell.

Nothing happens at first and you wonder if there isn't even anyone home.

But then the door opens and you're lucky because it's Kunimi and not one of his parents. You wouldn't have known how to deal with them but with him standing right in front of you and looking so confused as to what you're doing there, you don't know how to deal either.

So you just push the wallet into his hand and say "You lost this!"

He looks down, inspects the item you gave him and you can see the relieve on his face the moment he realizes it's his wallet.

"Thanks." he says, looks up and smiles at you.

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You haven't felt this tired in a long time.

There are just a few minutes of afternoon practice left and you're almost grateful it's over soon. Almost, because this is this is still your favorite time of the day and you love every second of it but right now you just want to go to the clubroom, take a shower, and finally go home and have dinner.

It started in the morning when you raced against Hinata like you always do but this time you weren't quite able to concentrate, so you lost and this idiot had the nerve to beam at you like sunshine itself. Usually this alone would have helped to cheer you up but this time it just made you think of the one who you'd given his wallet back the other day.

The thought didn't leave your mind even as Ennoshita-san arrived a few moments later and opened the door to the gym to let you in and reminded you with a reassuring smile that practice is going to start soon and you better hurry and get changed.

By the time morning practice was over, you felt a bit better even if it was only because volleyball always manages to lift your spirits. It was the moment after which reminded you again. Tanaka-san and Nishinoya-san seemed to be intent on reminding you that you are a sempai now and that you can't look at your new kohai like this. You tried to remind them again that this is your usual face but they wouldn't want to believe you, so they grinned at you and showed you how it's done. That's what got you this time.

Luckily, morning classes went by without any further incident.

At noon you met with Hinata and Yachi to have lunch and everything was fine until Hinata laughed and brought up the topic of your next lesson to which you just turned pale because how could you have forgotten? You had homework and you haven't done it yet. So you hurriedly grabbed your notebook and pencil and started to write only to realize you wouldn't be able to finish it in time without the help of someone else. The only option at hand though was Yachi because Hinata was an idiot, and you would have been an idiot to ask him, so you asked her and she grinned at you and agreed.

In the end, you only got your homework half way done because again you couldn't quite focus on the subject anymore, not with Yachi smiling at you like that and reminding you of someone else.

Afternoon class was tiring because even though you were lucky and the teacher didn't notice your half finished homework, you still couldn't quite concentrate on the subject anymore. There were thoughts of people in your head, of similes and one person who's smile was different than the ones of the others.

The ring of the bell saved you though and you got out of the classroom as fast as you could and as a result were the first one to arrive at the gym for afternoon practice. Unexpectedly the next two to arrive were Yamaguchi and Tsukishima, who smirked and commented at how he wasn't surprised at all to find you being the first one to get here. It lacked the maliciousness it once had but the upturned corners of his mouth alone managed to distract you and make you think of someone who'd never turn up the corners of his mouth in quite the same way Tsukishima does.

You didn't even notice how you didn't reply at all. It's only when there was a sudden movement and a hand on your shoulder, that you realize you must have looked funny because Yamaguchi now tries to comfort you with a smile but you can only think of the one who'd never smile like that either.

Then practice started and you made sure to put in as much effort as you possibly could because at least for now, you wanted to be free of all the distracting things and thoughts of people and especially the one who's smile wasn't as bright as Hinata's or Yachi's, or as reassuring as Ennoshita-san's or Yamaguchi's, or as cheeky as Nishinoya-san's or Tanaka-san's, or as smug as Tsukishima's and yet managed to reach you in a way none of the others could.

That's why you're wiping the sweat off your face and sigh of relieve when Couch Ukai blows the whistle to give the signal that practice is over. Today is not your turn to clean up, so you go straight to the clubroom to shower, change and get your things but there is a text message on your phone.

Do you want to meet? it says and the number tells you it's from Kunimi.

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By the time you're home and done with dinner and homework, you still haven't sent a reply.

It's tempting. You know you want to see him again, want to see his smile again but there are thoughts and doubts keeping you from agreeing.

This is also the reason why you haven't answered yet.

A sigh escapes your mouth as you let yourself fall on the bed and look at the message he send you earlier today.

Not counting the small exchange you had when you gave him his wallet back, you haven't talked to each other in what seemed like ages, even if it was only a little more than one year. You still vividly remember what happened before, even if you don't blame him for it. He's still very much part of the darkest time of the sixteen years of your life and you're scared. You're afraid of what will happen if you were to talk for more than a few minutes.

Would he glare at you again? Would he once more make you feel like you don't belong?

You squeeze you're eyes shut, only to open them a few moments later and look outside the window. It's already dark outside and it must have started to rain at one point because there are still droplets of rain on your window.

Regardless of your doubts and fears, you figure he deserves an answer before bedtime. So you try to be brave and type in your reply.

No. is what you send before you can think better of it but the instant the message is transferring, you know it's not true at all. So hastily try to explain yourself.

I won't have time. There is practice and after that, I need to study.

You hit the send button and at least with this, you know it's true even though you hate studying. You don't have much time to spare outside of your regular schedule and if you do, you usually invest it into extra volleyball practice. As much as you want to see him again, you're not ready to skip practice just to meet him.

He replies right away though.

Then study with me? it reads on your phone and you stare at the letters because you haven't thought of this possibility. It's very much possible. He doesn't live too far away, and if you hurry and grab something to eat from one the stores, you could make it after practice. You'd have time to meet him for maybe a few hours of studying and you'd still be home before bedtime.

You figure, you'd have to tell your mother though but you don't think it's going to be a problem, if you tell her it's for studying purposes.

Yes, I can do that. is what you reply, while there it's still raining outside.

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Kunimi is smiling at you and it's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

You know you want to keep this, so you try to reach out to him but the moment you lift your hand he isn't smiling at you anymore. He's wearing Aoba Jousai's jersey and his smile entirely belongs to the teammates who clap his back.

It's not for you.

Because you aren't his teammate. You can't make him smile that.

But you want to, you desperately want to and suddenly there is a game to play and it's like you get a second chance. Hinata's on the opposite side of the court and he spikes the ball.

Kindaichi is next to you and together you try to block him but it's a One Touch and to not lose this point you know it's Kunimi who needs to get it.

You turn around, expecting him to leap after it but he's just standing there and it's a point for the opposing team.

Anger is welling up inside of you because you know he could have gotten it if he had just tried. You're convinced of his strength.

So you yell at him to chase after it until the very end because if he would, it'd mean he'd take this as seriously as you do. Then he'd smile at you too because you were the one who made him do it.

He isn't smiling though, he's glaring at you.

It hurts so much but you think maybe you just weren't trying hard enough.

So you get louder and you not only yell at him to chase after the ball, you're yelling at him to jump higher, to run faster, to just do it and match your speed if he wants to win.

But he's just turning away from you and drifts further and further away while you continue to yell at him.

You're yelling, you're yelling, you're yelling ...


You wake with a start.

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'This is a bad idea' you think as you sit here in Kunimi's room, at his table and wait for him to return.

He'd left you alone, saying he'll just fetch the two of you something to drink.

It seems to take him a while though and maybe this is why you're doubting yourself now. You know you could use his help. Kunimi is smart. You've always known that as much as you know that you aren't, and if he's willing to explain to you a few things about school stuff, it'd only be to your benefit.

You know all of that and yet your fingers are trembling as they place item after item on the table. Pens, notebooks and textbooks, everything you'll need and after you're done, he still hasn't returned.

Time seems to stand still as you wait and maybe the cause of all of this is the dream you had, like what if all this goes horribly wrong again? What if he says something and it'll hurt you? Or maybe even worse, what if you say something stupid and you hurt him in the process? And then he'd glare again and you wouldn't know what to do.

You place your fingers on the table in order to try and calm them down because regardless of all of this, you said you'd come and you wouldn't want to go back on your word. There is also the fact that you know you want to be here for reasons which have nothing to do with studying. You've been thinking about this for a whole day after all, before that dream reminded you of everything that could go wrong.

There is a slight creak at the door and at first you expect Kunimi to be back but as your eyes lay on the door and no one enters the room, you know you're wrong.

"Huh?" you say in confusion as your eyes slide down the slightly opened door and there on the floor you spot a small black cat entering the room. It's not as small a kitten but you assume it's not as big as a mature cat either.

Your eyes go wide because you've never known Kunimi had a cat. Animals hate you and this particular feline doesn't seem to be an exception from the rule. It's coming straight at you and looks directly into your eyes.

You gulp as you try to escape it by moving a little bit to the side and maybe it helped because the cat now comes to a halt and rubs it's head against one table's legs.

Then it's staring at you again and you stare back because you don't know how to handle a situation like this.

That doesn't seem to impress the cat at all though and that's when you vaguely remember something Yachi once told you. "Let it sniff you" she'd said "So it'll know you mean no harm."

It didn't work then but you figure maybe this time it could be different. So you take all your courage and carefully reach out to the animal in front of you.

You realize it's a bad idea the moment the cat hisses and you hastily try to withdraw your hand but the cat is faster and manages to scratch one of your fingers in the process.

"Ouch!" you voice your sudden pain out loud but you're lucky because even though the cat continues to stare at you, it doesn't seem to come any closer either.

The door opens again and this time it's Kunimi. "Don't stare." he says and wastes no time to place the beverages on the table. "She doesn't like that."

"But ..." you try to defend yourself when he looks at you. "... the cat started it!"

He doesn't answer and just lets his gaze linger on you for a second before he goes to pick up the cat.

"Meow!" It tries to protest but let itself be carried in it's owners arms anyway. You could see how the cat's body is still tense even though it doesn't try to attack Kunimi in any way.

"And you ..." Kunimi says in a calm voice while petting the cat's back. "... need to leave if you can't behave yourself." And with that he goes right back out of the room.

A sigh of relieve escapes your mouth as the door closes again and you finally have time to inspect your wound.

Without a surprise you notice how your finger is bleeding, even if only slightly.

Chapter Text

This time, it doesn't take Kunimi as long to come back.

"If she comes back and scratches at the door, I'll have to take her outside." he says as he enters the room and closes the door.

"Okay." you answer and don't look at him because by now you you're starting to feel a bit guilty for causing him so much trouble. "Sorry."

"It's fine." he seems to try and reassure you, which makes you look up and notice who he now places some items on the table next to your textbook.

It doesn't take you long to identify them as band aids and antiseptic and that only makes your guilt worse. If only that cat would have been nicer to you, all of this wouldn't be necessary at all.

"Show me your hand." he says softly and opens one of his own in what you assume is meant as an inviting gesture.

"It's just a scratch." you tell him, which sounds harsher than you intend it to be and suddenly, you're scared you overstepped your boundaries again. So you look at him for any kind of rejection but there is none and so you add a little softer this time. "It'll heal on it's own."

His eyes narrow a bit as he seems contemplate what you said. "You're probably right." he agrees with you but doesn't move his hand away at all and instead slowly reaches out to place his fingers around the uninjured parts of your hand. "But it'll still be faster that way, so will let me take care of it?"

"Y... Yeah." you eventually accept his offer and let him gently pull your hand a little bit further across the table, so that it'll be easier for him to take care of your wounds.

It's a nice feeling.

"Kitty is like that." he explains as he carefully cleans the places the cat managed to scratch you and afterwards applies the antiseptic onto the wounds on your finger. It stings and you involuntarily gasp for air but his only answer is to gently rub his thumb over the uninjured parts of your palm in what you assume is an attempt to get rid of the tension inside your digits.

It actually helps a lot.

"She doesn't like strangers and always acts like this when there is someone she doesn't know inside the house." he continues as he finishes to apply the antiseptic and grabs the band aids. "But it's been a while since we had a guest here she doesn't know, so I must have forgotten to tell you." Even if he doesn't say it outright, you still can't manage to shake the feeling off that it's an apology.

"It's okay." you reply in a hushed tone. It's just a scratch after all. It's no big deal, not as much as his hands are, which still linger above your wound even after he's put on the band aids.

"You know ..." he says and looks up to catch your gaze. "It gets better though." Then he averts his gaze again before he continues. "The more she gets to know you, the friendlier she gets. So if you come here more often, she might like you in the end."

You're suddenly glad he looks away because this means he won't be able to see your face, which must have gotten quite red if the the heat you feel is any indicator at all. "I ..." you start but quickly clear your throat because how raspy you sound. "I could do that."

You don't know what gives you the courage to do so but if you'd have to take a guess you think it might have something to do with the warmth of his hands but to emphasize your words, you now place your own uninjured hand above his.

He doesn't say anything and just looks at you with a smile that makes you the happiest you could possibly be outside of volleyball.

And you think maybe this isn't so bad after all.

Maybe it's a beginning.

- Fin -