Tsukishima was tired.
His professor had assigned a group project on top of the online assignments and class work he already had to turn in by the end of the week. This, of course, didn’t include all the other assignments assigned to him by other teachers and his responsibility as a student worker.
Needless to say he was sick of the word assign by the end of the day.
As he strolled through the aisles of a convenience store, he thought he’d have been able to manage as he always did were it not for his partners.
“Hey, hey, you’re the tall freshmen we’ve been hearing about aren’t you?” The shorter of the two chirped.
“Is he really?” The other purred, propping his chin onto his hand. “Glasses-kun with the glare and everything?”
“Of course he is! Look, he’s doing it right now too!”
He was lucky enough to have been put on snack duty before committing murder. It wouldn’t have looked good on his transcript.
Paying for the snacks he took his time walking back to his partners’ apartment; wanting to prolong the time spent with them for as long as possible.
He lingered rounding the corner, watching people pass by and enjoying the day as much as he could (which wasn’t even that much, considering the closer he got to their apartment the louder they seemed to get.)
Stopping outside of the lobby and focusing on something other than the screaming above him, he pulled out his phone and resolved to play a level of Candy Crush to waste time. Keeping an eye on the ticking clock, Tsukishima skillfully tore through the level. Absorbed in the music and game, he was nearing the end when somebody bumped into him.
Glancing up from his screen he glared at the guy before him. Short with shoulder length blond hair, who seemed to be absorbed in a game of his own. “Oh… sorry.” He murmured, not bothering to look up from his own game.
Tsukishima frowned at him, clenching his phone in his hand he opened his mouth to tell him off before a high pitched voice cut him off.
“Kozume-san, let’s go! We’re gonna be late!”
Tsukishima followed the blonde’s eyes up to someone across the street. She was hunched over the driver’s seat, apologizing profusely or so it seemed. Before he even had a chance to raise a brow she stood up straight. Attention still focused on the driver, her brown hair bounced as she yelled over her shoulder once again.
“Kozume-san!” The freckles on her nose and cheeks wrinkled as she frowned and Tsukishima’s heart stopped. He looked up at the familiar cowlick atop her head and his head went dizzy.
There was no possible way.
They hadn’t seen each other in years and for them to suddenly meet after so long apart wasn’t plausible. He was just here to work on his project with a bunch of idiots, not to reunite with an old friend. He wasn’t ready for this.
“Your times run out.” The blond said from beside him. Tsukishima had long since forgotten about him and jumped out of skin. The guy calmly walked towards the brunette and driver, having long since put his phone away and completely unaware of the fact he was indirectly giving him a heart attack.
He looked down at his phone and sure enough the little crying animation played on woefully.
He was out of time.
Tap, tap, tap.
“You know this project is starting to look really drab.”
Tap, tap, tap.
“Yeah, I see what you mean. Kind of like it’s missing something.”
Tap, tap, tap.
“Yeah! Exactly!” Bokuto chirped. “I was thinking maybe stickers to liven the thing up.”
Tap, tap, tap.
“Oh, that’s a great idea.” Kuroo dragged out, eyeing Tsukishima tiredly. “I heard the professor liked cats, maybe we could use some of those.”
Tap, tap, tap, tap.
“That’s what I was thinking! Maybe put some owl ones on there too, I heard the TA loves those.”
“Oh, does he? I’m sure that and some glitter would get us some extra points.”
“Absolutely, it might even get us an A.”
“Y’know, why don’t we just skip the project all together? We can just turn in a poster covered in stickers and glitt-“
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, thwack.
“Oi, being young isn't an excuse to space out on us like that.” Kuroo frowned, unrolling the bunch of paper in his hand. “I thought you were supposed to be the smart one.”
Tsukishima rubbed at the spot on his head. He glared over at Kuroo and glanced down at their notes, the two were actually trying to be productive and he felt a touch guilty for not contributing. With the pen still in hand, he looked at his own notebook littered with tiny blue dots.
Kuroo placed his hand on his forehead and Tsukishima jumped, pulled out of his deprecating and self-hatred. “Hey, sorry if I hit you too hard. You’re really not looking to hot, do you want a glass of water?”
He shook of the hand and clicked his tongue, muttering a tight lipped, "I'm fine."
“Kuroo’s, right. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Bokuto said. Hands on his hips, he leaned down and checked his temperature too. “I think that’s enough project for today. You need to rest.”
Having enough of them, Tsukishima smacked his hand away too. “I don’t have time to rest. I’m fine, alright? Let’s just get back to the presentation.”
The two roommates shared a look, Kuroo backing off knowing his limits though Bokuto persisted. “Well you don’t look fine. Since you got back from the store, you’ve been all weird and spacey. What happened?”
Yamaguchi was what happened, he thought glumly. They hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in years and here she was, wearing a flowery sundress and pretty white flats. Did she even go by she pronouns? Surely she could still identify as a guy and wear sundresses. He sincerely hoped he hadn’t accidentally misgendered her inside his head. He’d have to ask what pronouns to use next time.
Of course, there’d have to be a first time before. As he just stood there dumbly instead of asking for them himself. Man was he pathetic.
“Man was who pathetic?” Bokuto repeated.
He looked up at the two, both of them eyeing him curiously. Surprisingly, a good part of him wanted to come clean and admit what was happening just to get it off his chest. He assumed it was the exhausted part that didn’t have the strength to handle it himself, though that exhausted part of him also didn’t feel like going through their entire backstory at the moment.
He resolved to keep it to himself and eyed their matching worried expressions. Having been the sole cause for their current lack of progress on the project, he felt he at least owed the two a vague explanation as thanks for their concern and tolerance (and seeing as they may possibly live in the same complex as Yamaguchi he might be able to get a bit of information out of them).
He opened his mouth to speak, but immediately closed it again. It took him hours to fully explain what had happened between him and Yamaguchi to his brother, and even then he’d left out a number of details. He didn’t know where to begin for vague responses.
May as well just wing it.
“A guy with blond hair and black roots bumped into me in the lobby.” Great start.
“Ah, that was probably Kenma.” Kuroo immediately cut in. “Was he on his phone?” He nodded and Kuroo nod back content. “Yup, definitely Kenma then. He lives on the same floor as us, but all the way across the hall.
“Right... does he have a roommate?”
“Yeah, just got a new one last month.” Kuroo grinned, “Lucked out too, he was short on rent but managed to squeeze by with Yama’s help.”
His heart stuttered at the nickname. There was little doubt in his mind that this was the same ‘Yama’ he went to elementary and a bit of high school with, but then again… “Yamaguchi? Tan skin and freckles?”
Kuroo cocked his head curiously, sitting up straight he nod again slowly. “Uh huh, that’s the one. She a friend of yours?”
Again, opening his mouth to respond he closed it back dumbly. This time he really didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know where to begin or what to reveal for fear of letting something slip Yamaguchi may have been intentionally keeping to herself. He kept his mouth shut and avoided his project partners’ gaze.
“Oh, I think I got it!” Bokuto leaned back into Tsukishima’s personal space and chuckled fondly. “You used to have a crush on her, didn’t you?”
“What?” Tsukishima sputtered. “No, that’s not what-“
“Oh, that’s makes sense then. You do seem pretty love-struck.”
Bokuto nod, “Absolutely love-struck. Look, it’s written all over your face.”
“That’s just my face.”
“They should be back from shopping by now. We should introduce 'em.”
He was beginning to regret partnering with them. “No, I don’t need-“
“Yes," Kuroo stressed. "We do.” Kuroo stressed, standing up he looked at Tsukishima very seriously though it wasn’t hard to catch the devilish glint in his eye. “If we ever want to finish this project then we gotta get this out of the way first and I know the perfect way to do it.”
He felt stupid. Beyond stupid.
Standing in front of Yamaguchi and Kenma’s door he felt stupid.
Even with the excuse Kuroo gave him sitting on his tongue ready to go, he wasn’t prepared to speak with her. Wasn’t prepared to deal with the inevitable awkwardness that came from not having seen each other in so long and he most definitely wasn’t prepared to breach the subject for their lack of contact all these years.
Tsukishima focused on the ticking of his wristwatch to keep from panicking any more than he already was. When he felt he’d spent enough time waiting, he turned on his heel back to Kuroo and Bokuto’s apartment only to find them peeking out from their door waving him back.
“Ring it again!” Bokuto mouthed.
Glaring back at them, he stepped back and did as told. Ringing there bell again.
“Coming, coming! Please wait!” Called a muffled voice from the other side. Presumably Yamaguchi.
He was going to faint. It wasn’t too late to turn back was it? Maybe he could make a break for it and-
Tsukishima flushed up to his ears. Blinking down at the blond from before he let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. Yamaguchi hadn’t even been the one to answer the door, but his heart still beat incessantly. He really, really wasn’t ready for this.
“Kuroo and Bokuto… they’ve, run out of toilet paper.”
Just saying it out loud sounded stupid.
This entire thing was stupid. He felt like he was going to throw up. What was he thinking going along with Kuroo’s idiotic plan? What would he have even said if Yamaguchi had opened the door? The least he could have done was come up with a better excuse than being on an emergency TP run. He was so pathetic.
The blond eyed him suspiciously. Apparently recognizing him from before, he took the time now to judge him accordingly. Taking his time deeming him worthy enough to give toilet paper too he quietly closed the door and retreated back into his apartment. Before Tsukishima had enough time to feel offended, Kenma popped back out tossing him a roll. “Tell Kuroo I said hi."
And that was it.
All that worry and mental preparation and all he had to show for it was a roll of toilet paper and an irregular heartbeat.
“Kenma answered the door?” Kuroo pout. “He never opens the door when I knock!”
That’s probably cause he doesn’t want to see you, Tsukishima thought bitterly. His chest still hurt and his head felt dizzy from the back and forth rush of blush throughout his face. By God was he exhausted.
“Well we’re just gonna have to try again.” Bokuto resolved, arms crossed confidently. “This time ask for a trash bag.”
Tsukishima scowled. “Are you still trying to help me or are you just using me to mooch off of your neighbors.”
“I don’t see how we can’t do both.” Kuroo quipped, his playful smirk falling the second Tsukishima turned to glare at him. “Alright, alright. All jokes aside, this is really the best we can do. Neither of us know Yama well enough to get you a meeting with her. Honestly, your best chance of speaking to her at all is with Kenma’s help. So you’re actually pretty lucky he answered instead of her.” His didn’t lighten up his glare, though Kuroo didn’t waver this time and just held his hands up defensively.
“Lucky or not, I wasn’t ready.” He muttered through clenched teeth. “I haven’t seen her in years. I’m not ready to see her after such a long time of being apart.”
Kuroo seemed perplexed by that. Blinking at him blankly not knowing what to add on after that. Turning to Bokuto he shrugged and raised a brow.
Just as Bokuto was about to mimic his actions, he gasped and snapped his fingers. Bokuto looked back at Tsukishima, epiphany gleaming through his bright eyes. “Isn’t that just because you’re scared?”
He stood at the foot of their door again. Staring again at the fading red color and bits of peeled animal stickers around the buzzer. The remnants of a cartoonish cat and dog kept his mind occupied for a while before he remembered the task at hand.
Cautiously raising his hand to ring the bell, he hesitated once again. The only thing keeping him from hightailing it out of there was the nagging feeling in the back of his head telling him if he didn’t at least try he’d regret it.
His heart still beat like crazy along with the added flutter in his chest at being able to finally see Yama. He didn’t have as long as before to think as the door clicked and Kenma once again answered. This time he didn’t say anything, just blinked up at him with sharp, curious eyes. “S-sorry for bothering you,” he stuttered weakly. “Kuroo and Bokuto wanted to know if you had any spare trash-“
“What’s your business with Yamaguchi?” Kenma said. His grip never tightening on the door knob nor did his brow furrow in annoyance for his repeated intrusion, Tsukishima had a nagging feeling this was a regular thing that happened.
He hated it.
“She doesn’t date strangers if you’re here to ask her out.”
Again with this? “I’m not here to ask her out.” He replied, ignoring the blush on the cheeks. “Yamaguchi and I used to be friends. We haven’t seen or spoken to each other in a long time… we didn’t exactly end things on good terms.” God, just explaining it makes it sound like they were dating. He swallowed the growing lump in his throat and folded his hands in front of him. “I want to try and make things better between us.”
Kenma didn’t say anything after think. Tsukishima guessed he was considering his words, a skill he should probably pick up himself since winging it (or ‘speaking from the heart’ as Bokuto so eloquently put earlier) was stressing him out.
“If you’re just here on the spur of the moment to say hello and clear your conscience for whatever’s happened in the past, then just leave now.” Kenma bit out, ducking to hide his face beneath his hair. His voice never raising, again he seemed to just be stating it as a matter of fact.
It scared him a bit.
“She’s been in a good place these past few weeks and I don’t want to ruin it for someone who’s clearly not ready to see or speak with her again.” Moving to close the door, he muttered a halfhearted apology under his breath.
Surprising both Kenma and himself, Tsukishima wedged his foot in and placed as hand on the door to try and keep it open. His heart stuttered and leaped into his throat but he ignored it as best he could.
He was out of time.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to talk about what happened between us.” He forced out. “But if I wait any longer than it’ll be too late…” God this was embarrassing. “I had a chance earlier to make things right with her, but I was scared. I’m still terrified but if I don’t do this now then…”He couldn’t finish because frankly he did not want to think about what would happen. He’d spent the entire day (last two hours) worrying his head off about whatever and he was sick of it. His beating heart this and headache that, he was driving himself when all this time he’d worried over himself and how unprepared he was, he hadn’t even considered Yamaguchi’s feelings on the matter.
Would she even want to see him again?
The revelation made his heart stop and his hold wavered. Regardless of his tight chest and shaking knees, he forced himself to look up at Kenma, who still refused to meet his gaze. “If she tells me to go away and never wants to see me again, then I’ll do just that. I promise. I won’t over step my bounds with her or say or do anything she doesn’t want me to do. If just bringing up my name makes her sick, then I’ll leave. I promise.”
Kenma took his words into consideration, which was all he could really ask for at the moment. His eyes still focused on a spot on the ground Tsukishima didn’t care to look it, flickered up and then to somewhere behind him. Just as Tsukishima was about to further beg his way inside, Kenma slowly creaked the door open.
Heart leaping at being invited in, he froze mid-step as a figure stepped out from behind the door. Taking a while to adjust to her company and making sure it wasn’t just wishful thinking, he let out a shaky breath and allowed himself to admire the sight of her after so long apart. He took in her bunned up hair and the way her sweatshirt hung too loosely on her thin frame, how the weird gunk covering her nose and chin seemed to complement the specks of green in her eyes and how her face still scrunched up in that funny when they were kids and she didn’t want to cry (happy tears he hoped) in front of him.
It was so nostalgic and refreshing. She was so beautiful and still so amazing.
“It’s really nice seeing you again, Yamaguchi.” He whispered out, tears prickling in his eyes and a bright grin edging its way onto his lips.
That seemed to be the final straw for her as she laughed and wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her sweater, careful not to mess up her face mask. “Still just as cool as ever; aren’t you Tsukki?”