“Tsukki, you’re humming to that song again.”
“Kuroo-san got you into it, didn’t he? No need to be embarrassed, Tsukki, it’s quite a nice song.”
“I said quiet, Yamaguchi.”
It was always too noisy for Tsukishima. People couldn’t seem to stop talking, machines humming, cars rumbling. The noisiest among them all though, were people’s thoughts and emotions. They projected it everywhere, turned them into words and looks, and words and looks turned into expectations. Tsukishima had had enough of them, and so he put on his headphones.
It had started half as an escape and half enjoyment at first. Back then, Tsukishima couldn’t differentiate bass from treble, pop from blues. He had just wanted to get away from the noise. He had thought that music was cool, and Yamaguchi had thought that the music-loving Tsukki was cool. Other kids too, had thought that it was cool, weird, or lonely of him. Exactly the type of reaction Tsukishima had been aiming to get. Mostly the third one though, but an additional ego-booster was always good for his next to none self-esteem.
With the years, Tsukishima had gotten better at filtering the social noises, and listening only to the quiet, meaningful ones. Of course, occasional noises were to be expected, but that too, he had learnt to get used to. Certain noises could be a remedy to his borderline boring life after all. It had started with Yamaguchi. He wasn’t exactly what Tsukishima would consider as noise, but he wasn’t quiet either. Perhaps Yamaguchi was like a constant rhythm that reminded his high and low pitches where they belonged. That they belonged.
And then there were Hinata and Kageyama, who came with a loud bang and then dissipated into a relatively acceptable, although still cacophonous jingle. Together with the rest of Karasuno, Tsukishima had found a weird harmony which he could never really get used to. It was alright. Tsukishima could do with that arrangement while still keeping his own voice and rhythm. He would be lying to say that the improvisation to his life was unwelcome, but then again, he had always been rather good at lying. Especially to himself.
Along came Kuroo and Bokuto, Akaashi, Kenma, and Lev and the rest of their respective teams. Some of them were so noisy Tsukishima had to actively avoid them. Some were quiet and pleasant, he had enjoyed their company and their guidance a lot. One was boisterous and unavoidable, the other was intrusive and equally unavoidable. Tsukishima wondered how anybody could stand being with these two for so long, but he also wondered how Yamaguchi managed to stick with him all these years.
Bokuto was okay. Well, not really because why did virtually all of his sentences end with an exclamation mark? Kuroo though, was not okay. Both Kuroo and Tsukishima knew they were both perceptive. It took one to know one. Kuroo was not okay because unlike Tsukishima, he seemed to be able to navigate through most noises life threw at him and turn it into his advantage. And with the way Kuroo had been behaving around him, Tsukishima was sure that he’d use it against him one day. After all, Kuroo couldn’t always be that kind, right?
Every word Kuroo said and every movement he made screamed taunt to Tsukishima. He knew he couldn’t resist answering to that challenge despite himself. Remarks turned into comebacks and comebacks turned into banters. And before he knew it, banters turned into a dance of words with Kuroo as the lead. Tsukishima lost his tempo, his rhythm, until all he could do was to fall into steps with Kuroo. He was loud when all Tsukishima wanted was peace and silence, quiet when all he wanted was to run away from his own deafening silence. Kuroo danced to his own music and invited Tsukishima in instead of just pulling him into it. He knew Kuroo had led him into thinking that those steps were his own, but he knew better. They both had been listening to each other’s rhythms and melodies, pauses and breathes, and they had listened enough to know enough.
The world was still a noisy place for Tsukishima, but there were noises he had come to accept and dances he had come to expect. As he boarded the early morning train to Tokyo, he put on his headphones and turn up the music, a satisfied sigh upon his lips.