Chapter 1: Drizzle
When Tsukishima came in to the store he was soaked. I had not been raining that hard when he'd left, and after checking the forecast which called the drizzling to stop by mid afternoon, had decided not to take his umbrella with him. And that had been his mistake.
Thankfully, he was the opener today, meaning no one else would be there to see the consequences of his lapse in judgment and, if he wanted to, could remain in the semi-darkness of the closed store until it was time to open – or perhaps even later, when customers might actually begin to show up.
Tsukishima dropped his bag on the stool behind the counter, the only thing not half-soaked through since he'd been trying to shelter it from the rain with every fiber of his being; the books he'd borrowed a few weeks ago among it's contents that he didn't need ruined as he planned on returning them before they were missed. He then headed to the back to find the paper towels among the few cleaning supplies that were provided, and proceeded to wipe the water from his face and glasses once he did.
He picked at his damp clothes, heaving an inaudible sigh. They would dry, of course, but he doubted fully until he threw them into the dryer at home.
Tsukishima then gathered his most prized possessions, his headphones and music player, from his bag along with the books he was returning, and went to work replacing them on their proper shelves, the music there to drown out the drizzling of the rain.
As Tsukishima had thought, there were no customers in the morning. And there most likely wouldn't be any customers at all for the rest of his shift.
In his one month of working at this small bookstore, Tsukishima had sold a total of three books, and those three books had been split among two customers. People did come in and out from time to time but it was few and far between, and most of them came in under the pretense that they were “just looking” and left a few minutes later.
But that was fine with Tsukishima. He wasn't much for the whole 'human interaction' thing anyway; he preferred things like this, the shop to himself, the quiet and calm of solitude, and the requirement of minimal effort. Not to say that he did nothing. He still placed the sporadic shipments the store received on the shelves, organized and mapped out where the different genres and categories of books were located, and even had helped put up a new shelf in his first week.
Most of his time spent working, however, were days like these. It felt slow but comfortable. Tsukishima could wear his headphones without reprimand. He could even play the music out loud if he wanted to, though he didn't.
Above all it was peaceful, a place where Tsukishima could just lose hours in the day, waste time not thinking about his looming college assignment deadlines or how much of his paycheck he'd have to sacrifice this week to help his brother pay rent.
It was peaceful, and he liked that.
Tsukishima had thought his shift would go by without incident, until incident came through the door.
Tsukishima hadn't even noticed him until he was standing right in front of the counter, nearly making him jolt. He looked up and made eye contact with a short ginger in a black track suit, twisting the strap of a gym bag at his shoulder, both of which were damp from the rain that was still falling.
He was also dripping on the floor. Ugh, Tsukishima thought, knowing that when this guy left he was going to have to clean that up.
“Do you have textbooks here?” the customer in front of the counter asked, smashing Tsukishima's misconception that the person in front of his was some grade school-er who had wondered in here because of the rain, considering his height.
“In the back,” Tsukishima said, voice neutral, and went back to reading his book.
The redhead looked behind his shoulder at the bookshelves lining the wall, looking confused. Tsukishima didn't even have to look up to know.
“What do you mean by in the back?” he then asked, followed by slightly pursed lips.
Tsukishima inhales and lets it out in an inaudible sigh. “The bookcase at the back-end of the room, in the right hand corner, second to top shelf.”
There's more fidgeting and shifting from the other before he walks away, following Tsukishima's instructions. There's a few moments of silence before Tsukishima hears a small frustrated groan and then a thump and dull clattering of hardcover books against carpet.
Ugh, Tsukishima couldn't help but think again.
When the customer did finally vacate the premises, he left Tsukishima with a new total of five books sold, multiple equally energetic and annoying apologies, a mess on the floor, and an irritating feeling that he had seen him before.
Tsukishima didn't live alone.
He was working at a small, very under the radar bookstore so it definitely made sense that he couldn't afford to live in a place by himself. He had been staying with his brother ever since starting college and was the main reason he had a job in the first place in order to pay his portion of the rent. Though he hadn't wanted to burden his parents nor his brother with his presence when he felt he was old enough to be able to take care of himself, once everything was set up there was really nothing he could complain about. He had his own room and his brother was kind enough to keep his pestering to a minimum. Mostly, Tsukishima was left alone and he was okay with that.
By now he was used to balancing his classes with hours spent at work that – only broken with Exams – he never let the stress bother him. When he had started working, the lack of customers and silence was a God-send and an opportunity to finish any assignments he hadn't at home.
“You forgot your umbrella today.” was the first thing Akiteru said to him as soon as he stepped in the door.
“I noticed.” Tsukishima said while taking off his shoes. He could still hear the rush of rain drops against cement outside and feel the damp sticking to his hair and clothes.
“How was work?”
“S'fine.” Tsukishima shrugged, not that his brother could see as he moved from the entrance of their shared place to his own room. He set his bag down on the floor and took out two books he'd borrowed from the bookstore to replace the ones he'd put back as well as his music player and headphones.
“Uh oh, what's with that face? Did something happen?” his brother questioned, now in the doorway of his room.
Tsukishima hadn't even realized he'd been making a 'face', but in light of the mess he'd cleaned up before he got off his shift, it made sense. “Nothing. Just some idiot knocked over a whole row of textbooks and couldn't even bother to clean it up himself.”
“An idiot, huh?” Akiteru quirked his eyebrow, “Sounds rough.” Tsukishima hummed in brief affirmation. “Well, I don't feel like cooking tonight. Is take-out okay?”
It continues to rain the entire rest of the week. Tsukishima spends most of it either in his classes or at home on his bed. He barely sees Akiteru as the other has his own job to work at and works significantly longer hours than Tsukishima himself.
But, when Tsukishima does find himself back at the book store, he was unfortunate enough to be greeted with a familiar sight.
“Gwah!” He bursts through the door with almost as much force as the storm outside, still having that gym bag slung on his shoulders that brings another – perhaps even stronger than before – wave of feeling that he has seen this guy somewhere before. And it annoys the hell out of him.
Tsukishima feels the sigh building in his chest, but simply shrugs it off. He just continues placing the armful of books onto their place on the shelf. He's entertaining thoughts that, perhaps, if he simply ignores the other he will go away, but the gym-bag guy says, “Wow, it's raining so much!” more or less to himself and Tsukishima rolls his eyes.
“Don't you have an umbrella?” he finds himself snapping. Gym-bag looks at him with wide brown eyes as if he was just now registering Tsukishima's presence, and when it's obvious that he's not going to Tsukishima continues, “You're dripping water all over the floor.”
“Wha-?” Gym-bag looks down to where tracks of water are left from just his shoes. “Oh! Sorry about that.” he says and rubs the back of his neck, grin seeming more shy than embarrassed.
He then goes on, “I didn't think it would still be raining today. It seemed pretty sunny before,” even though Tsukishima did not ask.
“Next time check the weather report.” Tsukishima responds tersely and makes his way back behind the counter.
And for a few minutes there's nothing but the hiss of pattering rain outside and the sound of pen on paper as Tsukishima writes. He would have almost thought Gym-bag went home if it weren't for the fact that he hadn't heard the other leave.
“Um...” Gymn-bag then asks, still in the same spot as when he entered, “Can I stay here even... even like this?”
Not if I can help it. “You can do whatever you want.” Tsukishima assured him without removing his pen from the paper, but at this point he's only pretending to be busy so he won't be bothered and has taken to making swirls in the corner of the paper. At least the answer seems to satisfy Gym-bag, and he walks straight passed the counter, passed Tsukishima and to the back. Tsukishima hopes he's not thinking about looking at anymore textbooks.
He stays for over an hour.
Tsukishima finds this more surprising than he thinks he should because, by this point he's sure Gym-bag has some sort of ulterior motive for coming to the store. Perhaps it's shelter from the rain, perhaps it is really the books, but Tsukishima feels there has to be more for someone as seemingly energetic as him to spend hours in a quiet, little bookstore.
And it also bothers Tsukishima more than it should. Tsukishima tells himself that it's because he's used to being alone. With the other here, he constantly feels as though he should be occupying himself with work and if he's not, the other will take notice and judge him for it. Not that Tsukishima cares particularly what he thinks, but he's not fond of the feeling that he's being observed.
Gym-bag also doesn't buy anything this time. By the sound of turning pages coming from the small table tucked in the only bit of empty space in the store, Tsukishima assumed he was reading a book. Apparently it hadn't been good enough to buy.
He also hesitates at the door and Tsukishima pretends he doesn't notice. The sun is shining though the few scattered rain clouds continue to pour their contents out on the pavement and Gym-bag grimaced before he sprinted out across the parking lot.
Despite himself, Tsukishima smirked.
Tsukishima happened to be off three days the following week.
It's not that uncommon for him, but it is rather boring. Although, he'd much rather spend blissful solitude alone in his room than at his job, especially given recent occurrences.
Perhaps it's the effect of too much time on his hands, but he finds himself searching through his mind for where he had seen Gym-bag before. It's been a subtle tug in the back of his mind whenever he saw the other and it was beginning to annoy him.
The most probable answer was school – middle school or high school; Elementary school was too blurry for him to remember that he doubted he could match a face to one he'd seen over six years ago.
He spent perhaps a solid thirty seconds going through faces he can barely put names to before he realizes this was a complete waste of his time and attempted to smother his thoughts within his textbook.
Unfortunately for Tsukishima, his next shift was in the middle of the day rather than opening in the morning as he mostly did, and, even more unfortunately, Gym-bag was at the counter chatting with a female co-worker when he arrived.
Tsukishima couldn't even say he was surprised. By now the only feeling he could really manifest was resignation.
As he walked by, however, neither of the two glanced at him as he slipped in the back to store his bag and damp umbrella as it had just stopped raining before he entered, and it was said to be the last of the rainy days for a while so Tsukishima would be happy when he didn't have to carry his umbrella around anymore.
It wasn't until he made his way just beside the counter that Gym-bag – and in succession, his co-worker – seemed to notice he was there.
“Ah, I'm so sorry, Tsukishima-san. I'll be out of your way in a second.” his co-worker tells him and Tsukishima genuinely feels bad because she remembered his name and, for the life of him, he can't remember her's.
But that doesn't really matter because she's gathering her things in a rush, tucking away her blonde hair and trying to get out of his way before acknowledging the redhead behind the counter. “C'mon, Hinata-kun.” she says to him and they both exit out the door.
Tsukishima just kind of stands behind the counter then, lingering his gaze at the door. And Tsukishima would never admit to watching as the two continued to talk outside , Gym-bag – who he would now have to remember to replace in his memory as Hinata – was animated and his co-worker, who he had always thought of at the shy, quiet type, was practically glowing during their conversation.
A few minutes pass before they're hugging and parting ways, his co-worker across the wet parking lot and Hinata, much as well as less to Tsukishima's surprise, back towards the entrance of the store. Tsukishima quickly ducks his head and pretends to be observing the money in the cash register.
Hinata comes through the door and seems to beeline directly in front of the counter, and Tsukishima looks up just in time for Hinata to ask him, “So you work with Yachi-san?”
Yachi Hitoka, right, Tsukishima thought, remembering her name. And to Hinata's question, he simply shrugs.
“Y'know, I came in here mainly to see her because she told me about text books I could use, but I guess it didn't work out all that well,” Hinata continues, and all Tsukishima can think is, Why are you telling me this? “... but I like it here, so I'll probably come back.”
It doesn't sound like a very good idea to Tsukishima, but he says nothing, keeping his face expressly neutral. Hinata then falls silent, drumming his fingers on the surface of the counter and seems to make a point of trying to focus his eyes everywhere than at Tsukishima.
The awkward silence lingered for longer than Tsukishima was sure either of them wanted until Hinata finally lifted his eyes back up to the blonde. “So... do you have any books you'd recommend?”
Normally, Tsukishima wouldn't mind sharing his book preferences with others, especially given that he worked in a bookstore. But Tsukishima can't seem to help the annoyance Hinata just seems to spark within him, and he doesn't stop his mouth from curling slyly around his response of, “Sorry, but we don't get many children's books here.” or the smirk that results after.
For a moment, Hinata's brown eyes go wide before his brows furrow and his mouth twists into a scowl that Tsukishima finds less satisfying than he thought he would. He also backs away, as if Tsukishima might come out from behind the counter to physically attack him, and quickly disappears behind the bookshelves without another word.
Tsukishima has been waiting for Hinata to leave for hours.
He didn't make a single attempt to interact with the other since his comments from earlier, but now it's nearly five in the evening and Tsukishima has to lock up, and he can't do that with the other still somewhere in the store.
His bag is already packed, his headphones and music player lying next to it on the counter when he decides it's time to intervene.
Tsukishima walks among the shelves and of course it doesn't take long for him to find Hinata passed out at the table. If it weren't for the other's back shifting to rise and fall with his breathing, Tsukishima would have thought the other dead from the way the side of his head rested against the table and the way his arms dangled down underneath him.
For a moment he's also at a loss of what to do and irrational nervousness bubbles inside him as he knows he'll have to wake the other up, but he doesn't dwell on the feelings for long. He reaches a hand for Hinata's shoulder and nudges him once, then twice, and finally a third time as he calls out his name, “Hinata.” And Hinata then jolts awake, looking dazed and disoriented as he looks at Tsukishima.
“I'm closing the store, so if you don't mind...” Tsukishima trails off as Hinata's eyes go wide. He gets up then, uttering a curse that seems inappropriate for someone so small before dashing from the table to the exit with record setting speed.
Tsukishima can't help it, but he finds himself half smiling.
Chapter 2: Recognize
It's the only day Tsukishima has off where Yamaguchi has enough free time of his own to convince him to actually leave his room.
Though Tsukishima was hesitant to admit it out loud, he'd missed spending time with Yamaguchi. Between his job and the constant barrage of college work, he didn't have much time for anything else, and he hadn't really seen Yamaguchi – except in passing – for several weeks.
They decided on coffee. Something simple, spur of the moment, and Tsukishima knew he could enjoy at pretty much any time.
Yamaguchi is talking about one of his classes, complaining about a thesis he recently finished. They both have their coffee, but Tsukishima nearly chokes on his when he hears a familiar voice call out “Yamaguchi!”
Though Tsukishima has come to expect Hinata to interrupt his work, he never expected to meet him out in public. It's even stranger because he's not the type to usually go out unless it's commuting to and from work or college. And Tsukishima isn't one to just meet people; coincidences like that didn't seem possible in real life, especially not to him.
Really, it shouldn't surprise him as much as it does, or maybe he's upset at how much it fazes him. Hinata's chattering on excitedly to Yamaguchi and the other is returning it with warm smiles and laughter while Tsukishima wracks his brain as to how Yamaguchi even knows him.
Tsukishima doesn't even know how long he stands there, merely staring at the exchange, but knows it's long enough that his mood begins to border on irritation. Then Hinata calms down, finally seeming to run out of words, and that's when his eyes go wide in recognition when his gaze lands on Tsukishima, seeming to just register the other's presence.
Yamaguchi has a similar reaction. “Oh, Tsukki, this is Hinata Shouyo. I don't know if you remember him from the first year at Karasuno–”
But Tsukishima isn't paying much attention to Yamaguchi's words as he is looking at Hinata, whose own gaze is fixedly on the sidewalk, and he remembers. He remembers a high voice and too much energy, the sound of sneakers against a gymnasium floor, a flash of red hair and then he's soaring, and Tsukishima wonders how he could have even forgotten.
Tsukishima doesn't even know if Yamaguchi had finished his introduction before he mutters, “We've met.” tersely and with a slight edge.
Yamaguchi notices this and immediately reacts, excusing Tsukishima and himself and says goodbye to Hinata, leaving the redhead in front of the coffee shop.
Tsukishima doesn't say anything by the time they part ways, and Yamaguchi doesn't ask any questions.
It's harder than Tsukishima expects to pretend he doesn't remember, or rather that he doesn't care. It's still on his mind two days later, and while he's at work no less, where he has nothing else to distract him except books he can't concentrate on and the silence of his own thoughts.
It takes a few hours, but he finally caves and texts Yamaguchi. He doesn't even attempt to be subtle about it because he already knows his friend has probably been waiting for Tsukishima to ask.
Tsukishima: how do you know hinata?
Yamaguchi: He went to Karasuno. We were in different classes but he was one of the first years in volleyball back then.
Tsukishima: hm i see. thanks
Yamaguchi: Wait wait, what's with this? I know it's been a while since then but idk it seemed different than that before. Like a couple of days ago.
Tsukishima: remember the idiot I talked about that was coming into the shop? that's him
The only answer Tsukishima received back was a simple 'oh', and that was fine. He'd only meant to confirm what he already knew, that being who Hinata was and why he had looked so damn familiar.
Tsukishima quit volleyball not long after beginning it his first year. Akiteru had tried to convince him not to. Even Yamaguchi and the teammates that he barely knew had tried to convince him of his potential, but it wasn't enough and he left.
Yamaguchi had continued without him as the year went by, and there were times Tsukishima didn't know if their friendship would survive it. But he did and it did.
However, Tsukishima was sure Yamaguchi resented him a bit for quitting. Not that he hated Tsukishima for it. The other never mentioned it and it was never brought up as a sore point between them, but Tsukishima always got the feeling that Yamaguchi would never forgive him giving up.
Tsukishima has been waiting for Hinata to show up.
He'd like to think it's an unconscious choice, that he's not purposefully waiting for Hinata to walk in the door. But he is and he knows it.
The problem is, he doesn't know what he's going to do when Hinata comes back in – if ever. He's not even sure why he wants to see the other. Or maybe he doesn't want to and his attentive waiting is simply the foreboding of having to face what he's long tried to avoid remembering.
Hours go by. The tension in Tsukishima's body eases after the first hour. By the second hour, he's stopped dreading, more or less, and finding solace in skimming through the pages of a newer book he finds in the back.
And somewhere during that time, he looks up and there's Hinata making his way towards the store across the parking lot. Tsukishima is surprised to see the other isn't wearing track pants, or carrying his signature gym-bag, but regular casual wear.
Tsukishima quickly averts his eyes, thinks maybe he should try to pretend he was reading the book, when Hinata comes in, hesitantly. It's then that the taunt feeling returns and Tsukishima is painfully aware of the other's presence and how much he wants the redhead to leave and never return. Or perhaps stop existing all together. That way Tsukishima won't ever run into him again out of pure happenstance.
But Hinata isn't one to jump into conversation either. The other merely casts fleeting looks at the tall blonde before making his way into the rows of book shelves and out of Tsukishima's field of vision. Apparently, Hinata's not jumping at the opportunity to pester him. Perhaps he has more self-control than Tsukishima originally thought. Or more intelligence.
Although, his presence in the store doesn't allow Tsukishima to focus on anything else, whether it checking the list of books to mark down with new arrivals coming in a few weeks, or the paper Tsukishima knows he has due in a few days just lying in his bag, he just tries to keep track of Hinata's whereabouts.
There's the scuffling of sneakers on threadbare carpet as Hinata stops in front of one of the shelves, now in Tsukishima's view. He takes down a rather hefty volume from it, steadying it in one hand while turning the pages with the other, eyebrows raised. He seems to just be flipping pages before he turns the pages a bit too fast and the hardcover falls out of his hands.
It seems like Hinata's always causing a mess wherever he goes, and Tsukishima can't help the soft snort that comes out because of it.
Hinata then looks up at him at that, his look between apologetic and a glare. “What?”
Tsukishima blames the unexpectancy of the question for saying what he was thinking. “It's hard to believe someone like you is so clumsy.”
Hinata's eyebrows rise and he blinks. “What do you – oh...” Hinata immediately looks down as his words die off. His fingers tap against his thigh and Tsukishima focuses his stare there because he doesn't know what else to say.
Then he hears the other take a deep inhale like he's bracing himself, as if Tsukishima is going to hit him.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know, I– I, um, thought you looked familiar, b-but I didn't want to be rude. And then I saw you with Yamaguchi and then I realized why you looked so familiar." Tsukishima hasn't spoken and tried to keep his expression as neutral as possible.
He's not sure how he is to reply. Apologies are in the same realm as 'Thank You's to him; he's just not sure what the proper response is.
But Hinata is still fidgety as he asks, "Did you... know who I was when I first came in?” and when he looks up, his eyes are wide in expectation.
There's a pause in which Tsukishima makes a split second decision. "Yeah."
Hinata makes an exclamation, a sound Tsukishima has never heard come out of a human being, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. "God, that's so embarrassing." he whines, and looks so humiliated that Tsukishima almost thinks it would have been better of him to just admit the truth.
“Look,” Tsukishima says, because he's becoming concerned the other might start crying, “there's nothing to be embarrassed about.”
“You think I'm an idiot.” Hinata stated.
That goes without saying. “I don't.”
Hinata took his hands away from his face and gave a narrowed-eyed stare directly at Tsukishima. He wasn't buying it.
“Okay, look,” Tsukishima starts, “we don't have to talk about it. It's fine alright.” and when he was done he felt like a parent negotiating with their child. It was ridiculous.
But Hinata nods and stuffs his hands in his pockets. His eyes are glassy, but he looks less like he's about to cry, for which Tsukishima is grateful, though, despite the conversation seemingly ended, he still somewhat wants the other to leave while having the reassurance that he will never return.
There's still tension, awkwardness lingering between them, and damn it if Tsukishima doesn't know how to clear it.
Chapter 3: Friction
Tsukishima starts to feel – and not for the first time – that the sympathy he had shown to Hinata was a mistake.
Tsukishima didn't enjoy being, for lack of a better term, an asshole. He understands how unapproachable he can be, though admittedly, he doesn't do much to improve upon himself to be considered more likable to others. He can be 'nice', but it is rare. And honestly, he feels this kindness might have been wasted on Hinata.
“So,” Hinata starts, drawing the vowel out as he traces circular patterns across the store's counter-top, “why did you quit volleyball?” He tries to frame it as innocuous and casual as possible, as if it's his first inquiry on the subject and not the hundredth.
Tsukishima simply lets out a slow exhale, tapping against spines of books he's only half accounting for. “Shouldn't you be going to practice or whatever it is you're dressed like that for?” It's not a question but more of a warning the way the words curl on Tsukishima's tongue, making a point to let his irritation show.
Disregarding the first time, all the other times he's given this response the past few weeks, Hinata doesn't appear fazed by his tone or obvious distaste or the subject. He simply twists his mouth to the side and looks back down at the counter, usually followed by Hinata either skimming back through the books store or leaving all together with just a simple goodbye with his parting. At times, Tsukishima feels the redhead only comes in to ask the question.
Well he's not getting it. Not anytime soon.
Another mistake Tsukishima finds he's made is telling any of this to Akiteru.
It happened on one of the first few days Hinata would pop in for his questioning, where Tsukishima happened to be particularly grumpy due to staying up later than usual to finish an assignment, and Tsukishima wasn't even trying to hide his irritability when he came in the door.
“Uh oh,” Akiteru said immediately as he saw him, the tell-tale words he always said whenever he knew Tsukishima was upset. However, like always, his words were appropriate for the situation, but the tone and grin that accompanied them surely were not. “What's up? You seem to be grimacing more than usual.”
“Why does everyone worry about my business?” Tsukishima snapped back, dropping his bag in the hallway without much care. “Why can't you just leave me alone.”
Akiteru made no move to stop him as he pushed his way passed him through the small hallway. In retrospect, if he'd really wanted to avoid a conversation, he would have promptly retreated to his room, but in that moment he headed toward the kitchen.
And Akiteru followed close behind. “So you don't want to talk about it?”
“Not really,”Tsukishima said, softer this time, but still with a slight edge. “But that's the problem,” he continues, though mostly musing to himself rather than talking to his brother, “he still wants me to talk about it.”
“Who?” Akiteru asked innocuously.
“This... guy at my work.” Tsukishima grumbled, taking a glass out of the cupboard just to have something to do with his hands.
“He works with you?”
“No,” Tsukishima groaned, and he felt the compulsion to vent his frustrations, and – not seeing the harm in it at the time – told his brother the events of the last few weeks, and once he did, Akiteru began laughing.
“Is this really that amusing to you?” Tsukishima asked bitterly, arms crossed.
Akiteru had stopped laughing and now was just casting an amused grin his way. “I don't see what the big deal is. Why can't you just tell him what you told me?” he asked.
Tsukishima cast his gaze to the floor. He'd almost forgotten the talk that he and Akiteru had a few years ago, about why exactly he didn't feel the need to give it his all for a sport he wasn't even sure he liked. He hadn't really talked about it to anyone else, not even Yamaguchi.
However, this was different. Hinata was... it was just complicated, a messy tangle of emotions he would much rather ignore than try to straighten out.
“It's none of his business.” Tsukishima growled.
But Akiteru was still smiling as he said, “Maybe it is, considering how hung up on him you are.”
“What,” Tsukishima blurts, his voice coming out too fast to cover the underlying horror in his tone with irritable denial until he catches himself, “I am not.”
He doesn't even wait for Akiteru's response before eventually retreating to his room.
Surprisingly, Hinata doesn't come back to the shop for a little over a week.
A part of Tsukishima is appreciative, relieved even, that there is a lack of the other's presence to drain him mentally. And then there is a part of him that is aware of the 'calm before the storm' tension lingering along with Hinata's absence. Tsukishima doesn't know what to expect, but he suspects something he won't like.
But Tsukishima finds himself taking it in stride. He goes to work, begins making a note of the older books for the annual clearance sale they'll be having in a month or two, and even manages to greet Yachi while he leaves from his shift.
Classes go well for him also. He finishes his notes in near record time and even manages to finish the novel he had started almost a month ago.
And he actively ignores Akiteru, who never seems to stop grinning at him even as he leaves for his own job.
Despite this, it's not as if Hinata has entirely left his life, though Tsukishima hasn't interacted with him for days. It's inconvenient, but he finds Hinata's absence an ever-pressing weight nestled in the back of his mind. Even when the other is gone it feels like Tsukishima isn't truly rid of him.
In that way, it feels almost like relief when he sees Hinata walking in the door, all smiles and casual wear and carrying a plastic coffee cup, blissfully unaware of the irritation his presence and absence has brought upon Tsukishima.
“Hi,” Hinata says by way of greeting and sets the coffee cup on the counter in front of him.
Tsukishima smirks down at the drink. “What's this?” he asks.
Hinata looks at the coffee and then back at Tsukishima with a bit of a confused knit in his eyebrows. “Coffee?” he answers, though it's turned over more as a question.
Tsukishima regards it again, his smirk widening to near grin and says, “Don't think you giving me coffee is going to make me spill everything to you about my personal life.”
Hinata stares at him for a moment, uncomprehending. Then his face twists into a grimace, comprehending. “That's not it!” he exclaims, “I just... I'm sorry I've caused you trouble, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I thought the coffee would be a better apology.” Hinata then looks at the floor and chuckles nervously, “I'm not very good with words.”
Something stirs in Tsukishima then, some sort of fluttering awareness at the forefront of his mind that disperses as soon as he reaches for the cup.
“Okay,” Tsukishima says, “I'll accept your apology.” and then he takes a sip, more instinctive than conscious, and there's a burst of sweet and bitter so strong across his tongue he nearly chokes.
“Jesus,” he coughs, forcing the liquid down, “What did you do, dump an entire sugar container in this?”
Hinata snorts softly and grins. “No,” he says, “I'm guessing sugar's not your thing. Sorry. I'll remember next time.” and then his grin breaks into a sincere smile.
“One apology is enough.” Tsukishima tells him. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand as he pushes the cup away, wondering if his taste buds are permanently damaged from the syrupy-sweet burn. “Thanks anyway.” he says roughly.
“You're welcome.” Hinata says, sounding a little too pleased with himself – as if he's won a victory – though Tsukishima nearly spit the coffee out in his face, but the blonde finds he doesn't mind as Hinata is quieter inside the shop the rest of the time he's there.
It's too good to last.
Tsukishima knows he's in for something when the door to the shop opens and Hinata isn't the only who enters.
Hinata still saunters in as if nothing has changed. He's grinning at Tsukishima, gym bag in hand, wearing a white T-shirt like usual except he has shorts on instead of track pants, but Tsukishima's attentions is held more by the individual behind Hinata.
He's taller than Hinata – though almost anyone would be tall compared to Hinata – with blonde hair that must be dyed as it contrasts to his dark, discolored roots. He's also wearing a similar outfit to Hinata, gym bag and all, except his shorts are red and he's wearing an open, faded red jacket to match. His stare is also completely glued to his phone.
“Oh!” Hinata exclaims, as if he has only just remembered his companion's presence, “This is my friend, Kenma.”
Tsukishima watches as Kenma lifts his eyes to meet his for about 0.5 seconds before directing them back to his phone. He then raises his hand in a soft wave of greeting. “Hey.” he says, or at least that's what Tsukishima thinks he says as his voice is far away and so soft-spoken that he almost doesn't catch it.
With Yachi, himself, and now Kenma, Tsukishima wonders absent-mindedly if Hinata has a thing for blondes, but retracts immediately from the implications of that thought.
“Hello.” he responds by way of greeting.
Why are you here? he wants to ask, but doesn't since that would be impolite to someone he's just been introduced to. Instead, he directs the question to Hinata. “Why are you here?”
“I'm here all the time.” Hinata tells him simply.
Tsukishima rolls his eyes. He doesn't even try to hide it. “Let me rephrase it then. What do you want from me?”
“Who says I want anything from you.” Hinata says as if Tsukishima can't pick up on his pretend cluelessness with how obvious he's being.
He then sighed. “Fine. Whatever. If you don't need anything from me then let me do my work.”
Tsukishima pretends that he's not still watching Hinata out of the corner of his eye as the other bites his bottom lip slightly. He looks back at Kenma. Kenma continues to look at his phone screen.
“We want you to come with us.” Hinata then blurts.
At first Tsukishima is confused. “Go where?” is the question he finds himself giving voice to.
That seems to be the wrong answer because at his question Hinata's nervousness seems to evaporate and he smiles at him instead. “We're having a practice. Not anything official, just some friends and stuff to play, but we want you to come. Please.” Hinata says, and then when he notices the blank stare lingering on Tsukishima's face. “Er,” he continues hesitantly, “Volleyball practice.” as if that is what Tsukishima feels he needs clarification on.
But, surprisingly, Tsukishima doesn't feel angry, or even irritated. No, he feels a sudden panic almost. A tightness seems to seize his chest and his throat, but it vanishes almost as soon as Tsukishima notices it.
He swallows and takes in Hinata's wide brown eyes. “We?” Tsukishima says, but his voice comes out rougher than intended, so what's intended as snark sounds like more of an embarrassing choked noise. Hinata seems just as surprised as he is, but he clears his throat and says, “Something tells me it's just you that wants me to go.”
Hinata blinks and shrugs his shoulders slowly, perhaps surprised that Tsukishima hasn't flat out rejected him yet.
“Why do you want me to go, Hinata?” Tsukishima just asks directly.
“Because...” Hinata admits, “I think you'll have fun. I mean, you don't have to play, you could just watch, or –”
Tsukishima shuts his eyes for a moment, feeling faint heat on his cheeks, and groans, “Hinata, stop.” And when he opens his eyes, he finds Kenma is looking at the scene, but diverts his gaze again when he meets Tsukishima's gaze.
“I don't want to play anymore, Hinata, what is it going to take for you to realize that?”
“Then tell me why you quit.” Hinata demands, with a grim stubbornness Tsukishima couldn't recall him using before. So much for coffee-apologies, huh?
“No.” Tsukishima says with a scowl, “Christ, just let it go. It's none of your business.” Hinata's mouth twists on a pout, glaring at him, and neither one of them speaks for a beat.
It's broken only when Kenma speaks. “I'm going outside, Shouyo.” he says, moving efficiently out the door in one smooth motion.
Hinata doesn't even move but just meets Tsukishima glare for glare. “You should go join your friend because I'm not going.” Tsukishima tells him.
Hinata then crosses over his chest. “I don't get why you're being such a jerk about this.”
“I'm always a jerk. It's who I am and it's who I've always been.”
“You're not,” the redhead counters with so much certainty Tsukishima might have even believed him, “If you were, Yamaguchi would never have befriended you.”
Tsukishima almost laughs. “Yamaguchi is friends with me despite me being an asshole. And just because you're friends with him doesn't mean you know me. Or that I want to be friends with you.”
They both seem to stand, stunned into silence, and Tsukishima notes how fast his heart is beating against his chest as his words sink in.
Then, “Okay,” Hinata breathes, blinking quickly out of his daze. He then swallows thickly. “Okay,” he repeats.
Hinata leaves the store and doesn't look back behind him. Tsukishima should feel satisfied.
Chapter 4: Reflection
Akiteru isn't home when Tsukishima is.
Unfortunately, this means it's also quiet, quiet enough for Tsukishima to be alone with his thoughts, and that is possibly the last thing he wants to do at the moment. He doesn't even have any new books in his bag and an essay on an uninteresting topic would be too monotonous to fully grasp his attention.
He opts for just laying on his bed with his headphones on and his full library on shuffle. He tries not to go through the events of the day. Tries not to backpedal through his conversation with Hinata, or think about the frustrated crease between Hinata's eyebrows melting into shock and hurt at his words. He tries not to feel like a shitty human being.
It's over a hundred songs later that Tsukishima falls asleep.
Tsukishima is already in a bad mood by the time Kageyama Tobio approaches him.
Having fallen asleep with his music player having been playing during the night left Tsukishima with no choice but to leave it to charge while he left for work. That had left him with his phone to listen to on the train. But it also meant that he couldn't listen to music while working to save battery for the trip home, leaving him in silence.
It didn't help that his mood was still sour from the day before.
And, as with the majority of the mornings, no one came in. Most of Tsukishima's morning consisted of trying to find books to borrow to replace the ones he'd put back, but he couldn't seem to find any that truly interesting. He ended up tossing one in his bag and simply opening up to random passages in others and selecting the most interesting one.
There was also a box in the back he had to open, but it only consisted of dictionaries, lame looking light novels, and one book that was ordered specifically for a customer, surprisingly enough.
It was so boring that Tsukishima had even considered calling up someone else to take his place. However, he doubted any of them would answer his call and even if they did, he doubted they would even want to and give him some lame excuse instead. The only one he could think would be most likely to agree would be Yachi, but then he remembered that Yachi and Hinata were acquainted with each other and abandoned the idea.
So when someone did walk in, it was almost a relief.
But then Tsukishima sees the expression on the other's face, has a daunting realization as he recognizes who he is, and his relief becomes more foreboding as he knows this is not going to end well.
Kageyama is wearing an expression between a frown and a glare as if someone has pissed in his cereal. Tsukishima smirks at the image that thought invokes. And he's almost grateful to Hinata for talking long hours about his days at Karasuno after Tsukishima had left as he probably would have recognized Kageyama the same as he had Hinata, that is to say, not at all. But he does, and he can only imagine what the other wants to talk about.
The memories that Tsukishima recalls are not all that different than what he sees in front of him. Though Kageyama isn't dressed like he's about to play volleyball, he still carries himself with an air that one might imagine with the title of 'King of the Court', but he also seems different than Tsukishima remembers. And the disconnect between memories and the person standing in front of him is quite annoying.
Kageyama approaches the counter. “You're Tsukishima,” he says.
It's not really a question, but Tsukishima answers it as such, “Yes. And you're Kageyama.”
Kageyama blinks in surprise at the recognition, but continues, “Look, I'm Hinata's friend, so I know he can get annoying–” At this, Tsukishima snorts softly– “but you could have handled him better. He thinks of you as a friend.”
Tsukishima can feel his face heating up. “We're not friends. He barely knows me and I barely know him.”
“You just talk to him.”
“I don't want to talk to him.”
Kageyama's frown deepens, and his voice goes low with barely restrained irritation, “You're difficult.”
The corner of Tsukishima's mouth quirks up in a slight smirk. “It's a living.”
And whatever civility was between them then disintegrates. Kageyama's eyes flash with anger and Tsukishima feels like he's fifteen again. “Fuck you,” the other snarls and with that he's stomping his way out of the store.
The exchange was short and there's no real release for the anticipation of an argument he'd felt clawing at his throat. Instead, it leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.
Tsukishima sighs, rolling over onto his stomach and stretching his legs over the side of the bed, phone in hand.
He feels... not himself, even though he's in his own room, alone, on his day off – his element. Despite how perfect the atmosphere should be for his mood, it hasn't improved since his fight with Hinata and might have even worsened since his confrontation with Kageyama.
Now if there's anything that makes Tsukishima more irritated than others stupidity, it's wallowing in his own emotions and being unable to make sense of them. Usually, when such feelings arrive he simply ignores them until it becomes impossible to do so – and it feels like that time is now.
But of course it takes him forever to do so.
He'd taken out a book and had attempted to read, but unable to focus passed one page. After rereading the second for the fourth time, he finally tossed it back in his bag and reached for his phone.
Tsukishima took off his glasses, his face buried into crossed arms as the phone is held between his neck and shoulder as it rings.
Tsukishima doesn't really give a greeting outside of an irritated groan.
There's a soft chuckle and a shift in sound as Tsukishima can imagine Yamaguchi sitting up on his bed, brushing aside a textbook as he focuses his full attention on the call.
“Something's up, isn't it?” he asks, “You never call.”
There's a pause before Tsukishima finally lifts his head up and murmurs, “I'm an asshole."
Yamaguchi makes an amused sound. "Hmm... it must be bad if you're admitting that out loud to me."
"Yeah, sure," he answers back.
Yamaguchi chuckles again, softly, but not in a way that makes Tsukishima think he's being made fun of. Then he says, "I think I may know what this is about."
Tsukishima's brows furrow in confusion and he rolls onto his back, now facing the ceiling, his arm angled up to press the phone to his ear, "What?"
There's a pause as if Yamaguchi is actually considering not telling him. "This is about your fight with Hinata, right?"
Tsukishima takes in a deep breath and lets it out with a groan. Well, if he told Kageyama about it then he might as well have told the entire goddamn world about it too.
"Did he call it a fight?"
It's a stupid thing to ask as what does Tsukishima care if he does? Hasn't he been calling it that himself?
"Well, actually..." Yamaguchi starts, hesitantly, "it wasn't Hinata who told me."
Tsukishima doesn't even ask as it's quite obvious, but the realization does nothing to improve his outlook on the current situation.
There's another shift on the other end of the line before Yamaguchi speaks, amusement on his tongue, "Y'know, you should really stop picking fights with our old teammates."
Tsukishima would like to point out that they weren't really his teammates to begin with, but doesn't, and instead asks, "So am I now going to have to defend myself against a whole hoard of volleyball obsessed individuals?"
"Honestly, from what I can tell, Hinata only told Kageyama what happened between you two. And Kageyama only told me and a few others what happened after he claimed he tried to confront you, and you were -- and I'm just quoting here -- "a total fucking asshole" to him. Also, I believe you spooked Kenma."
"Yeah, that sounds about right." Tsukishima muses wryly.
But there's not answering chuckle on the other end, just silence, and then, "Are you ever gonna tell me what happened?"
Tsukishima huff into the phone, "I was an asshole."
"You mentioned that," his friend laughs, "but why were you an asshole when you knew it was going to bother it later?"
"I didn't know," he's quick to respond, "Hinata was annoying and I snapped at him like I always do."
"C'mon Tsukki. Something must have been different if he went and told Kageyama about it and not me."
He knew it was going to come to this. It's not like he was avoiding it for any other reason.
"He was trying to get me to play volleyball."
The burst of laughter is so sudden, Tsukishima actually jolts, fumbling with his phone as he sits up and presses it back to his ear. "Really, Tsukki? You still hate volleyball that much?"
"Oh, shut up!" Tsukishima groans as hearing Yamaguchi take it so lightly makes him feel that he's been agitated over nothing, "I don't hate it."
"Then why did you get so angry at Hinata or whatever?"
"He was trying to get me to go with him and play after I'd already said 'no'," Tsukishima explains, pushin his glasses up to rub his eyes, more out of his slight frustration, "It was just irritating, and he kept wanting to know why, and I just didn't want to deal with it anymore."
"Yeah... Hinata can be a little overbearing," Yamaguchi admits, "but now you feel like an ass for getting angry at him." Tsukishima doesn't answer and the other continues, "So why don't you just apologize?"
"I don't think he's ever going to come back of his own free will again."
"Do you want me to give you his number?" Yamaguchi asks.
"God no," Tsukishima huffs.
"So you want me to ask him to meet up with you?" There's a smile in his voice.
"That would be ideal, yeah." Tsukishima says, voice low, and really, could he be anymore pathetic?
"Okay, don't worry, I got your back," Yamaguchi promises him, "I'm actually kind of glad you're trying to put in some effort yourself, finally. Hinata really seemed to be struggling."
Something heavy drops in Tsukishima's stomach. "Did you talk with him about me?" he asks, incredulous.
"Well, yeah," Yamaguchi replies, teasingly, "I am your ultimate wingman after all."
"Good bye, Tadashi," he growls as if trying to turn the other's name into an insult, but hangs up before a laugh can echo through his phone speaker, and throws the device down on his bed.
He was most definitely not pouting.
Chapter 5: Apologies
The coffee is a mistake, and yet Tsukishima had bought it anyway. He can't really hide from himself why he bought the coffee, but it soon gets cold and he drinks it, not about to waste almost 400 yen when Hinata doesn't show up within the first few hours of him opening up the shop.
Though Yamaguchi has assured him of Hinata's arrival, Tsukishima still isn't sure if his explanation and apology is going to make a difference. After all, he's never really had to patch up a friendship he'd messed up so badly.
Is this even a friendship? Didn't you flat out reject him before? Well, that's just another thing he'll have to set right.
It's when there's only an hour left in his shift, as he's finishing up the inventory he's been working on all day, that Hinata comes in.
He seems understandably hesitant as he approaches where Tsukishima is standing near the shelf where the cook books are following up just behind the self-help. It's been a while since Tsukishima has seen him in casual clothes.
"Hey," he says when Hinata doesn't greet him, but his eyes are still on his clipboard, taking note of the titles.
"Hey..." he hears Hinata echos back softly.
The awkward silence lingers so tangibly Tsukishima thinks he would try to physically wave it away if he was able. And when he spares a glance over his shoulder, he knows the other feels it too because his shoulders are drawn up tense and he seems to be trying to look anywhere but at the blonde.
"Are you all right?" he asks.
Hinata seems to jump at his concern and the look he's giving the redhead. "Er, yeah..." the other responds and when Hinata notices him staring, takes one of the books off the nearest shelf and begins to examine the back. It's an action that screams: Look! I'm fully functional, see? Although to Tsukishima it conveys quite the opposite.
Tsukishima tries to make it look like he's not scowling as he pushes back in the title he was taking note of and takes a breath. "Look, Hinata... I owe you an apology. I know you were just trying to be... nice and whatever, but I--" He looks to wear Hinata is now staring at him with wide, brown eyes-- "I shouldn't have been a dick about it. And you didn't know, so... yeah."
It's so awkward and Tsukishima hates it. He's not use to apologizing and necessarily wanting to be forgiven for it.
"Tsukishima," Hinata says, "it's really not your fault. I know I shouldn't have tried to force you." He fidgets with his hands on the hem of his shirt. "I just get so... y'know--GAHH!--about stuff."
Tsukishima smiles slightly. "Do you want to go outside?"
Hinata gives him an inquisitive look, but nods his head.
Tsukishima takes him to the back of the shop and through the stockroom, which is technically a violation, but it's less shady than having Hinata walk all the way around to into the small back alley.
Outside is normally where employees would often take their breaks. There were three chairs and a small table, all plastic, set up against the wall. Tsukishima sits in one, the furthest from the door, and Hinata joins him in the one nearest. He still has a slightly nervous look on his face, one Tsukishima completely understands, but at least being outside provides much more excuses for distraction than inside.
Tsukishima almost wishes he smoked so he could have something to do with his hands. Instead, he just shoves them into his pockets.
He then takes a deep breath. “I never really told anyone why I quit volleyball,” he admits, “I haven't really talked to anyone about it. Or ever. Fully."
"... you dont have to--"
"It's fine. I need to find a way to get my head out of my own ass anyway."
Hinata hums, starring at his own twiddling fingers. "Okay," he says softly.
Tsukishima chuckles, "Oh come on, I thought you wanted to unlock my tragic backstory?"
"I did-- I mean, I do!" Hinata says as his cheeks flame, "But I don't want to make you uncomfortable again.
"I just thought it was weird how you never brought it up when I'm around, or talking to me, even after you recognized me. I thought maybe you quit because of me, and I wanted to make up for it."
It's strange how Hinata seemed to pick up on subtleties that it took Tsukishima years to really figure out for himself, but he knows he's not the first to experience the paradox that is Hinata Shouyo.
“It... it was a lot of things. Well, a couple of things,” Tsukishima said. Hinata hummed in acknowledgment.
“My brother... he played volleyball, still does, sometimes, but... he was at the top for a while before eventually he just wasn't. And he didn't tell me, I found out on my own. And, what I took away from it, was that the more effort you put into something, the bigger the disappointment.”
Tsukishima thought it would be inappropriate to mention anything further – the constant escapes to his room whenever the subject of him quitting came up (so frequently, in fact, he had entertained the idea of going back just to stop the confrontations), the bitterness that tainted every one of Akiteru's visits after, the argument between him and his brother that had them not talking again for six months (granted, Tsukishima hadn't really talked to him, but it had been mutual this time), and the eventual make-up their parents orced them into (and for the better).
And it hadn't been that Tsukishima didn't love his brother, but he had a feeling the experience had been dismaying for the both of them. Though Akiteru bounced back from it better than he had.
Tsukishima continued, “I quit because I couldn't find a reason to stay. I wasn't like the others and I knew it. I wasn't willing to work hard for fear of disappointment. I had it all figured out. But seeing people like Yamaguchi and you... I hated it.”
This sucks. Emotional vulnerability sucks, Tsukishima thinks. He could barely make himself face Hinata.
“And, yeah, I was kind of jealous of you,” he finds himself admitting, “You seemed to have such big expectations about everything, that I could never have. You were too easy-going. But less annoying.” It's easier to tease, and judging by the side-eyed grin Hinata then gives him, the other knows.
Then Hinata says, “I guess I didn't realize... I mean, you're so tall! I would never think someone like you would have insecurities, but then everyone does.”
“You can actually be pretty mature, you know that?” Hinata then gives him a friendly punch in the shoulder as he chuckles.
“So are we good? Friends now?” he asks.
Tsukishima pauses as if considering his answer. “I think we are,” he says, “Now you can tell his majesty we're on good terms.”
Hinata gives him a quizzical look. “Are you talking about Kageyama?”
“Yeah. He came in here a few days ago, demanding we make up and whatever.”
Tsukishima is sure he has never seen Hinata made in the short time they were teammates. Excitable, determine, frustrated, sure, but at his words, Hinata's face lights up crimson and his expression is the closest he can attribute to anger.
“Bakageyama!” he curses under his breath. The redhead then gets out of his seat with a newfound energy. “I'll talk to you later, Tsukishima,” he says, and then he disappears through the alleyway instead of through the back door to the shop.
Tsukishima watches him go. He doesn't even bother getting up for several minutes, and by then he knows it's well past the end of his shift.
Chapter 6: Traction
Tsukishima is not expecting Kageyama so soon.
He expected, after Hinata's reaction when he told the other of his interaction with him, some sort of appearance by him.
Kageyama comes in two days later and, surprisingly, not alone.
Tsukishima sees the other man first as he's the one pushing open the door. He also looks familiar, but not in the same way Hinata or Kageyama did. His familiarity is too distant to truly grasp hold of and it makes Tsukishima conclude he must not be that important if the lack of rememberance doesn't eat at the back of his mind.
But from the little that the blonde does glean – the sharp smile, squared shoulders, and the way he's observing Kageyama trudge his way through the doorway as if he's gloating silently to himself – he can tell the other is mostly likely an asshole. And boy, did he not want to deal with anymore of those.
It's just another confrontation in his life that Tsukihsima wishes he could just press fast-forward on.
Kageyama hisses something at his tall companion too low for Tsukishima to hear and the other chuckles before wandering over to a nearby bookshelf and examining its contents. Kageyama approaches the counter with a sour look like someone pissed in his cereal.
Tsukishima waits. Kageyama wouldn't have come here if there wasn't something he had to say since he's quite certain the other doesn't like him. The few vague memories he has of Kageyama aren't exactly what one would call pleasant and he has the feeling the same is true for the other. But the silence stretches long before Tsukishima realizes he's going to have to initiate it.
There are a lot of things he could start off with, but Tsukishima would rather make this as painless as possible for himself.
“Can I help you?” he asks, voice dry.
“Yeah,” Kageyama says. His shoulders are slumped and he sort of sighs as if it pains him. A few seconds of silence continue to stretch on.
From back behind the shelves, Tsukishima hears a voice let out a dramatic sigh and Kageyama's companion appears from there. “Just get on with it Tobio-chan so we can restore Chibi-chan's honor.” he called.
Kageyama flushing lightly, casting a quick glare in the others direction before turning his attention back to Tsukishima. “Look, I'm sorry I pushed myself into you and Hinata's business. I was just trying to help a friend, but I realize I went about it the wrong way and I apologize.”
“What do you mean 'and'?” Kageyama asked, indignant.
“Well,” Tsukishima crossed his arms, “you were also extremely rude to me.” He heard Kageyama's companion snicker in the back of the shop.
“You started it!” the other growled back.
“Maybe. But I'm not the one that yelled 'Fuck you' before stomping out the door,” Tsukishima countered.
“Tsk tsk, Tobio-chan,” They both look over as Kageyama's companion came out from behind the shelves he's been looking at the whole time he was there. He also had a book in hand.
Kageyama was scowling – maybe even pouting? – as the other approached the counter and placed the book on the counter in front of Tsukishima. It looked like some kind of romance manga.
“I'll take this, please,” he said before turning back to Kageyama, “I would have thought being with me would have been a better influence.”
Kageyama seems to flush harder than before, an observation Tsukishima finds interesting. He rings up the book. “I think I'll accept your apology since you reimbersed me with a purchase. Makes my job easier.”
Kageyama's companion grins as he pays and Tsukishima catches the last bit of their conversation as they leave.
“I'm always full of good ideas, Tobio-chan.”
Yamaguchi had called him when he got off of work. He's feeling surprisingly good, so he answers the phone when he would have rather texted. All Yamaguchi asks is about Kageyama's apology and he assures his friend that all is well – which he would have done anyway even if he didn't feel the apology was genuine.
Yamaguchi also mentions how Hinata would like to talk to him again, and when it would be good to. Tsukishima tells him in two days since he has the weekend off and needs the time for studying – and might actually get it done too, now that the idiotic source of his unnecessary stress is resolved. He hangs up as Yamaguchi makes a snide comment of it being easier if he would just talk to Hinata himself.
Despite himself, Tsukishima smiles at his friend's snark.
Tsukishima sees Hinata coming on his bike from the window. He's earlier than the blonde has ever remembers him being and in his black tack suit that he hasn't seen the other wear in a long time. His gym back, strapped across his chest and hanging at his hip.
“Hi!” Hinata greets him cheerfully when he comes in.
“Hey,” he says back.
“So...” Hinata starts, seeming to bounce on his heels with his arms on the counter as Tsukishima looks over what Yachi hadn't finished the day before. He doesn't continue until the blonde has looked up from the schedule and at him, and he grins. “Kageyama apologized, yeah?”
Tsukishima nodded. “He did.”
Hinata laughs when he further elaborates on the events and Tsukishima can't help but smile a little himself remembers Kageyama's discomfort.
“I can't believe he brought Oikawa with him,” Hinata laughs, “I'm surprised he managed to say anything to you at all.”
Tsukishima then remembers Oikawa Tooru vaguely when he manages to ask Hinata about him. He also learns he and Kageyama have been dating, something that Hinata himself find strange and Tsukishima does too, but mainly because he can't really imagine serious, stubborn Kageyama being in a romantic relationship.
And being here with Hinata, actually having a mutually civil conversation, he feels a similar feeling with himself.
Even if Tsukishima had made the conscious decision to attempt to be friends with Hinata, it still felt bizarre. Friendships weren't something that happened to Tsukishima. Yamaguchi was different only because they had been friends since childhood. He can't even be sure they would be friends if they had met later, despite what Yamaguchi would most likely tell him. So this situation he has found himself in with Hinata kind of unnerved him.
No. Not kind of. It definitely does.
However, now, he is finding it hard to remember why.
“Hey Tsukishima,” Hinata says as he's getting ready to leave. He seems nervous. “Is it okay if I...” the other pauses as he worries his lower lip a bit, “Can I have your number?”
Chapter 7: Affection
What am I doing? Was all Tsukishima could think as he scrolls up through the text messages he has received in the past week and a half from Hinata.
He'd been hesitant with giving Hinata his phone number, worried he'd find himself looking like an asshole if he decided to block the other. Tsukishima wasn't the most patient person, okay?
In a way, he was right. Hinata did text often, but briefly. Most of their conversations passed over a couple of days. It usually started with a greeting from Hinata who would then ask how his day was followed by some sort of question or an anecdote about his practice before their messages would trickle off until the next text started the whole thing over again.
It felt weird at times – a trend Tsukishima doubted would end with their friendship – when he would look at his phone and not find Yamaguchi's name. He made sure never to let Akiteru see it, not wanting to explain how he had gone from complaining about this guy to becoming friends, mostly because his older brother would use it for some sort of teasing.
Despite this, Tsukishima could say he enjoyed the other checking in, asking about his day, and in a way that it didn't feel invasive. He had a feeling Hinata was purposefully giving him space.
It was as Tsukishima was settling into this presence as part of his routine when it happened.
His phone buzzes.
Hinata: Hey! How's your day? Just got off of practice.
Tsukishima doesn't open his phone and reads it from the notification. It's nothing unusual. He'll answer when he's finished these last few equations from his study guide.
The phone buzzes again. He can't help it. He looks.
Hinata: Do you want to go out for coffee or something sometime? If you're busy it's fine. Let me know!
Tsukishima stares at the message so long the screen falls black again. He presses the power button on the side to illuminate it and read the message again.
There's a weird feeling he finds welling inside him. He realizes he's not cringing at the idea of spending time with Hinata outside of work. He feels similarly like he does when Yamaguchi tries to push him outside rather than remain locked up in his room.
(In fact, if he thinks about it, Tsukishima has a sneaking suspicion that his friend has something to do with this – if his comments about Hinata in their last conversation is any hint. Ultimate wingman my ass.)
Tsukishima shakes his head as if it will clear his thoughts, but he has no real anxiety when he types out his answer.
Tsukishima: sure. when?
Hinata: Hmmm,,,, when are you free?
Tsukishima runs through his schedule for the week in his head before answering.
Tsukishima: im off early on Wednesday. 1:30.
Hinata: Great!! See you there then :)
Tsukishima doesn't feel the need to reply, but he does have a feeling Hinata really was smiling while typing his last message.
Hinata is fifteen minutes late.
It's 1:45 when he makes it through the door of the shop. Tsukishima is conversing with Yachi, trying to convince her he doesn't mind stocking the top shelves if she is unable to reach them. They both look up as the redhead comes through the door gasping.
“Are you alright, Hinata?” Yachi asks in her usual tone of soft concern and begins to approach him, but he stops her.
“No, I'm fine,” he says with a cheerful smile, although still a little winded, “My bike suddenly got a flat tire, so I had to walk.”
Normally, Tsukishima would have made a jokingly, snarky comment of “You're late” or calling him out on it though not because he's really upset. However, he had enough self-awareness to the fact that it would not go across as well as it would with Yamaguchi and restrains himself. Instead he asks, “You good to go?”
“Yeah!” Hinata assures instantly.
“Good,” Tsukishima grabs his bag up off the ground and makes his way from behind the counter.
Yachi gives them a smile and a wave as they leave, one which Hinata returns as they make it through the door. And Tsukishima feels only mildly guilty for not thinking to do it himself.
“So,” the blonde starts and Hinata turns to him, “which way are we going?”
“Just follow me!” and Tsukishima does.
Tsukishima doesn't get out much – he knows this and it's a part of himself he doesn't really consider a flaw – but having Hinata lead him the little cafe barely fifteen minutes from his work makes him wish he did more.
It's dimly lit, most of the light coming through the large windows rather than the cafes own lamps, but Tsukishima thinks it highlights the wood floors and the overall coziness. There's even a green, low-to-the-ground couch against the wall along with the tables and chairs.
Other than them, there was only one other person – a man on a laptop – sitting in the corner and a girl behind the counter with white earphones in he can assume is the barista and confirms this when he sees her name tag. He likes her almost instantly.
Hinata, however, doesn't seem perturbed by her earphones and approaches the counter. He doesn't even try to get the barista's attention yet but turns to Tsukishima.
“What do you want?” he asks.
Tsukishima blinks. “I can order my own,” he states, thinking it had been obvious.
Hinata's mouth twists and his brow furrows into what the blonde can only assume is a pout. “I said I would pay for it,” he argued.
“You never said that–”
“What can I get for you?” the barista interrupts their semi-argument with her attempted polit customer service, although there is only one earbud hanging down out of her ear.
Hinata and Tsukishima exchange a look with each other wherewhich the blonde just sighs and nods. Hinata beams at him and then turns the full force of it to the barista. He orders himself a hot chocolate and Tsukishima asks for a simple drip coffee. Hinata pays.
They settle on the couch against the wall. It's a little awkward for Tsukishima as his legs are long and he kind of falls against the back of it harshly. He holds his coffee only in one hand in a paper cup with a lid, but Hinata's hot chocolate is in a chunky ceramic mug. He finds this strange but Hinata had been enthusiastic about it when the barista presented it as an option.
They are silent at first, each taking a moment to enjoy their drink when Tsukishima says is the first to speak. “Thank you,” he says and indicates his meaning by raising his cup.
“You're welcome,” Hinata says with a light chuckle and sips his hot chocolate again.
They soon develop into small talk. Hinata asks about how Tsukishima worked in the bookshop.
“I haven't been working there long,” he admitted, “only a couple of months now, but it's nice. Quiet.”
Hinata nodded in acknowledgment. “That's good. How'd you find out about it?”
Tsukishima shrugged, “I just wandered in there one day. Don't even remember why. But there was a sign saying they were hiring and I thought 'why not?' and they hired me.” He sips his drink again. “Plus,” he adds, “I like books.”
Hinata makes an interested noise at that. “What kind of books do you like?”
Tsukishima has to think about that. He's never really thought about it before. “Hmm, I suppose anything I find interesting. I haven't really thought about it much, honestly.”
“Me, too!” Hinata exclaims.“I meant about reading things that are interesting,” he then clarifies at Tsukishima's puzzled look, “though, I don't read much.”
“Yeah. I'm sure volleyball doesn't leave much time for it,” It sounds harsher on his tongue than he intends, but if Hinata also thinks so, he doesn't let it affect him and only nods in agreement.
Tsukishima then continues on the subject of Hinata's practice, so much so that Hinata begins going on a tangent. He talks about Karasuno – after he makes sure Tsukishima is comfortable – and up until he joined the team at his university that lasts for a while. In that time, listening to Hinata, he finishes his coffee.
But after Hinata finishes, he takes a sip of his still very full mug of hot chocolate and makes a face. He'd talked for so long that his drink had gotten cold.
At this time, the man with the laptop is gone and the barista has her earphones back in so Tsukishima is free to let out the genuine laugh that he does. Hinata gives him an unamused look.
“It's okay. I'll get you another one,” Tsukishima says after he's finished laughing because, honestly, it is too funny.
“No, no, you don't have to,” Hinata assures him as he's already standing, but Tsukishima shakes his head.
He settles back on the couch in a few minutes, handing Hinata his drink in a paper cup now this time. They talk again, mainly about nothing important – how they prefer coffee, plans for the week, music tastes, Tsukishima shares how he and Yamaguchi met – just simple things. But the atmosphere is so calming. It's sunny outside, casting gold light against the floor. Soft acoustic music plays from overhead speakers. It's warm inside and smells of roasting coffee.
And nothing else really matters at the moment.
“Where have you been?” his brother calls from the kitchen.
It's the first thing Akiteru asks when Tsukishima comes through the door. He knows his brother isn't mad or anything when he asks his tone of innocent curiosity. Tsukishima should have expected as much as he was much later than he had originally intended.
“I was with a friend,” Tsukishima explains cooly as he slips his shoes off at the door.
There's no response from Akiteru. This can be either good or bad, but, given his luck, Tsukishima feels it leans towards the negative. And he's somewhat right when Akiteru peaks at him smiling as he makes his way down the hall to his room.
“What?” he asks, trying to sound more irritable than he actually is.
“I'm just glad you're making new friends,” Akiteru says.
“Maybe I was with Yamaguchi.”
Tsukishima doesn't know why he's acting so defensive. He doesn't even have to mention he was hanging out with the guy he was previously complaining about to his brother about once, but it feels like a secret.
“If it was Yamaguchi you would have just said so,” and Tsukishima can't deny that.
“Whatever,” he mutters with an eye-roll and stocks to his room while Akiteru is chuckling at his obvious retreat.
It starts to get warmer in the oncoming days. Tsukishima starts to negate the jacket that usually accompanies him in the mornings. It's a sure sign that summer will be here in with its heat and humidity, and Tsukishima can't say he's looking forward to working under summer conditions, especially not inside the shop which is already stuffy.
He's thinking about maybe buying a small electric fan – something affordable and small he can just keep in the back to pull out when it starts to get unbearable – when Hinata comes in.
“Hey Tsukishima!” the redhead greets as he comes through the door, his usual smile and an iced drink in his hand.
“Hey,” he says back, though his voice shifts with his puzzlement. He quickly checks his phone to make sure he hadn't missed any informative texts from Hinata warning him of his arrival but, as he thought, there was nothing. “I didn't know you were stopping by.”
“I wanted it to be a surprise,” Hinata admits, unapologetically beaming. He then stretches the drink out towards Tsukishima, “This is for you.”
The blonde takes the drink from him hesitantly, but gratefully, “Thank you.”
“I wanted to pay you back for last time.”
Tsukishima is sipping the drink. It's coffee with milk over ice. It's good too. “You didn't have to.”
“It's fine,” Hinata says, echoing Tsukishima's own words back at him.
Tsukishima smile strains against the straw and then puts the drink down. “So, what are you doing here?” he asks, “Don't tell me you walked here just to give me a drink.”
He's surprised when Hinata seems to get uncomfortable and wonders if it's his own imagination that the other appears to be blushing. However, Hinata then chuckles and rubs a hand behind his neck, “I, uh... was wondering if you could help me with something.” Tsukishima nods and hums questioningly. “I'm actually looking for a book.”
Now Tsukishima is interested. “What kind of book?”
“Well, I uh... I'm doing a project – for a class – and I need a book... yeah,” Hinata explains. He seems sheepish though Tsukishima doesn't really understand why.
“Well, we are in a bookstore,” Tsukishima says amusedly. He walks around from behind the counter and leads, “I'm sure the kids' section is just dense enough.”
Hinata gives him a playful shove. “You've already made that joke before,” he reminds him.
They spend an hour looking through novels and biographies that Hinata sighs he has no interest in. Tsukishima pretends to be fed up in his indecision and tells him to buy a manga if he's so picky. The redhead finally settles on a short, little novel Tsukishima's never read but has heard of as being the best from the author, and Hinata buys it.
That's now seven books sold.
Chapter 8: Opportunity
Golden week was fast approaching. Tsukishima only notes it distantly as it has no real impact. He'll likely just stay home as he has no classes nor work as he recently found out. Apparently, the shop was scheduled to be closed during that time. Not really that Tsukishima minded, but more he now didn't have anything to distract him from his own thoughts. Or an excuse not to go on any more dates with Hinata.
Outings, he corrects himself harshly, not dates.
It hadn't been long after his little outings with Hinata had become a fairly regular thing that Tsukishima realized his developing feelings for Hinata stretched passed what he felt for Yamaguchi. And any other person would have considered this a shock of meltdown proportions, but, of course, he didn't.
His realization was a simple thing. He'd been flipping through a textbook for the chapter he was supposed to be studying when his mind lightened on Hinata and his bright smile when the realization that he'd somehow fallen in love-struck him. And he didn't blush or stutter over his own thoughts. His mind was quite accepting of this new revelation as if to say, Now that that's out of the way... and he managed to get in a few hours of studying after. It couldn't be natural.
Not that Tsukishima knew anything about being in love. Or liking people.
As he's been forced to confront in himself time and time again, Tsukishima doesn't make connections with others. He's not someone who reaches out and prefers to be alone. He already knows he's prickly and an asshole most of the time and the only ones who have seemed to tolerate it are his brother and his only friend.
And then there's Hinata.
Tsukishima's first thoughts after his epiphany were that because Hinata is one of the first people in almost a decade to want to befriend him and who he has attempted to reciprocate in kind, its no wonder he feels drawn to him. Perhaps his mind has just jumped to conclusions in his attraction to Hinata being romantically involved. Hinata just likes hanging out with him and he finds himself liking it too.
But the more he thinks about it, he realizes it doesn't matter.
He's never really thought about love, or crushes, or dating, but now he is. And it's Hinata that is making him do so. So Tsukishima has no excuse to deny this.
And he doesn't know if he'd want to anyway.
Hinata: Practice was so bwaaaaaaaahhhh!! （－－；）
Tsukishima is lying on his bed when the text message arrives in usual Hinata fashion. He doesn't even lift his head from his pillow, just tilts the screen to aline with his vision and reads it.
Tsukishima: i suppose you mean tiring
Tsukishima: and why do you type like that?
He then rolls over so that he's facing the door into his room. He has the irrational idea Akiteru will come in and try to look to tease him about his messages. The response is almost immediate and insufferable.
Tsukishima tells him so.
Tsukishima: you're insufferable
Hinata: lol sorry
He realizes he's smiling before the tell-tale feeling of it registers in his brain and he smothers it back into his pillow. His phone buzzes again.
Hinata: Wait wait Tsukishima!
Hinata: I wanted to ask you a question
Tsukishima almost hates himself for the way he breathes in automatically and his heart starts beating a bit faster. He's not sure – or rather he won't let himself think about – what it is that's making him suddenly so twitchy.
It could be anxiety over what Hinata might open up if it's another personal matter. They are doing so well, and Tsukishima has actually started to like talking to Hinata. Just about small inconsequential things. He doesn't want another fight. He doesn't want to ruin one of the only connections he has to a person and after he had managed to fix it despite himself.
Or perhaps it could be a confession.
Tsukishima ushers a hard stop on his thoughts at that. That can't be it, he tells himself fiercely. And he knows it can't. And there's no indication of nervousness on the others part. Although, Tsukishima isn't one hundred percent sure if an out-of-nowhere love confession is out of Hinata's realm of action.
He feels his phone buzz then. He makes himself wait a solid minute before opening the message.
Hinata: Are you doing anything for Golden Week?
Tsukishima feels as though he's been holding his breath with the amount of relief he feels upon reading it.
Tsukishima: not really. why you wanna hang out?
He should have known really. It's worrying that such a simple text has gotten him so out of place.
Hinata: Well... I actually was planning on visiting my mom in that time
Hinata: But I was wondering if you weren't doing anything if you wanted to come with me
At this Tsukishima didn't know how to feel. Despite feelings he was still coming to terms with, he still had no problem hanging out with Hinata. However, Hinata's family is another subject altogether.
Tsukishima didn't consider himself having social anxiety but the twisting in his stomach at the prospect of being awkward with people related to Hinata was the closest he was probably going to come to.
There was another buzz.
Hinata: My mom would be fine with it btw
Oh well now I'm definitely convinced, Tsukishima thought bitterly. Unfortunately, he was still somewhat charmed by the message as well.
He types back quickly.
Tsukishima: will you let me think about it?
Hinata's response is just as fast.
Tsukishima is in the kitchen, eating a quickly prepared stir-fry while leaning against the kitchen counter. He's simply staring at the floor, his phone being abandoned on the counter top next to him. He's thinking. It's hard because he knows why he's brooding over something so trivial and then again he doesn't. He's trapped in a vicious cycle.
However, it's different than he what usually revolves in his head when it comes to Hinata. Although he'd told Hinata he would think about accompanying him, in reality, Tsukishima had already made up his mind.
It's after Tsukishima had finished his dinner and cleaned up the dishes he's used that Akiteru comes home.
“Hey, did you eat?” is the first thing his brother says upon seeing him.
Tsukishima nods. “Yeah. There's some still on the stove,” he tells him and motions towards it.
“Thanks,” his brother thanked him with a smile.
Tsukishima didn't say anything. He shuffled away from the counter, grabbing his phone. Akiteru went for the stove.
It took him a minute, but eventually, Tsukishima spoke up.
“I'm gonna go to Yamaguchi's. For Golden Week,” he said.
Akiteru looked back at him over his shoulder, Yeah?” and Tsukishima nodded.
“That's good. Better than sulking in your room all day, huh? Have fun!”
Tsukishima would have retorted, but he didn't want to test his luck after he was already secure in his lie. Instead, he nodded mutely and retreated back into his room.
He unlocked his phone quickly and sat down on his bed. He typed out a quick message, not even bothering to check for spelling like he was apt to do.
Tsukishima: i'll be there.
Hinata: (ノ・∀・)ノ :･ﾟ✧
Hinata: That was fast lol
Tsukishima is not sure what to expect as he gets ready to leave work.
He'd only texted Hinata a bit between agreeing to accompany him to his home and his last day of work before Golden Week. He'd wondered how they were going to travel there since he knew Hinata's home was a bit of a ways away and Hinata had mentioned buses not reaching there hence the bike he'd owned for a number of years. But Hinata had assured him he'd have transportation.
Tsukishima might have been skeptical, but he trusted Hinata.
However, Hinata, per usual, was a bit late.
It didn't really bother Tsukishima all that much. He closed up the shop and leaned against the wall outside. His earphones were in, his phone fully charged, and he had a backpack strapped across his back.
Then he got a text message.
Hinata: I'm running late sorry ( ≧Д≦) but i'll be there soon
Tsukishima huffed in amusement and shook his head.
Tsukishima: will do
He was about to put his phone away when he got another text message. This time from Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi: Tsukki don't freak out.
Yamaguchi: Your brother called me.
Despite what the message had told him, Tsukishima felt the cold shock of panic run through him. His fingers fumbled over his keypad in near desperation, but it took too long before another message was sent.
Yamaguchi: He just wanted to know if you were okay. Says you've been acting weird.
Yamaguchi: I told him you were having self-consciousness issues you didn't want to discuss.
Yamaguchi: You might want to talk to him when you come back.
The first initial wave of anxiety had passed by the time he'd finished reading Yamaguchi's messages. He sighed in resignation before typing his answer.
Tsukishima: wow thanks wingman
Yamaguchi: Don't give me that attitude. You should have told me so I could have thought of a better cover for you.
Yamaguchi: But I know you're embarrassed ;)
Tsukishima can't deny it. He's never told Yamaguchi about his crush – might as well admit it shall we – but he knows there's no need as, besides Hinata and his own brother, Yamaguchi knows him the best. And because of that, he's not surprised by the texts.
But that doesn't mean he's going to tell Yamaguchi he's right. His pride will never allow it.
It's then that Tsukishima hears the tires over the parking lot concrete next to him and turns from the wall.
His phone buzzes but he ignores it at the moment.
It was Hinata, waving from the drivers' side window of a mini truck. And goddammit if Tsukishima couldn't help but laugh.
“What's so funny?” Hinata asks genuinely as Tsukishima approaches.
“I'm surprised with your height you can even drive,” the blonde teased, “consider me impressed. Where'd you get this thing anyway?”
“My mom borrowed it from a friend years ago. We used it to move stuff here, but I'm bringing it back now. I have my bike in the back too,” Hinata said.
Tsukishima shrugged off his backpack and got into the truck. “It's definitely your size,” he commented, noticing how his knees pressed tightly up against where the glove compartment was.
“Shut up,” Hinata snapped back at him playfully, “Are you ready?”
“It shouldn't take us long really,” Hinata assured him as he backed out of the parking lot, “Maybe a little over two hours depending.” Tsukishima nodded in understanding.
“Sounds good,” he says.
They talk small talk for a bit that fades to still silence before Hinata turns on the radio and fixes his eyes solely on the road. Tsukishima negates the itching urge to put on his headphones, but it's easier than it normally is.
Hinata's concentrated on driving. Tsukishima doesn't say anything because he can tell the other doesn't do this much, but he wasn't lying that he found it impressive. He's never even learned how to drive. Maybe he could ask Hinata.
He's happy and he can't deny that. He's comfortable, the breeze from the rolled down window is pleasant and the sun is starting to set on the horizon. However, he still has more on his mind. He knows he shouldn't have lied to his brother, or had Yamaguchi cover for him, especially when it's over something so trivial as his feelings for another person and how he's perceived by others.
He has to do something about it.
The thought alone makes his nerves tingle and his heart pound, but as he sits and has time with his thoughts he knows what he has to do.
Yamaguchi: Have fun Tsukki!
Chapter 9: Chance
Hinata seems to relax after driving for a bit. Tsukishima remained quiet as not to disturb him, though admittedly he would have been silent anyway given Hinata was the initiator of most of their conversation. But he also finds staring out the window relaxing, watching landscapes go by and the congested urban area starting to fade into more open country.
Then Hinata does talk and he asks Tsukishima, “Are you hungry?”
At first Tsukishima shrugs, but then remembers Hinata probably can't see and then says, “A bit.”
“We'll stop by somewhere, yeah?” and Tsukishima hums in agreement.
Hinata soon pulls into the drive-thru of a nearby fast food place. I guess you can find it anywhere, Tsukishima thinks as they order. He asks for the same thing Hinata orders and lets the other pay when Hinata rejects his offer to put money towards his own order.
Even though they go through the drive-thru, Hinata still ends up parking (quite crookedly but Tsukishima decides not to tease him about it) in the parking lot so they can eat. Tsukishima's not complaining, but it probably would have been more comfortable to eat at a table than with his knees pressed up against the glove compartment. But he was glad to have something to occupy himself with than feel the need to start a conversation.
Thankfully, Hinata took care of that.
“My mom and Natsu will probably be asleep when we get there,” Hinata told him as he scarfed down his fries, “so you don't have to be nervous or anything.”
Tsukishima didn't know if Hinata was insanely good at reading him or remembered how much he detested interaction with those he was unused to. He was still appreciative and nodded.
Hinata smiled. “My mom is pretty cool, she won't badger you with questions or anything. Natsu on the other hand... well, she loves pestering people.”
“So she's like you,” Tsukishima said with an easy smile.
Hinata chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck a bit sheepishly, “Yeah...”
“Don't worry, I'll go easy on her.”
There's a small pause between them as they continue to eat, Hinata dipping his fries in ketchup and Tsukishima talking a sip from his drink.
“She'll probably ask you lots of things. Especially if you like being outside or want to go camping, but I'll tell her that –”
“You were gonna go camping?” Tsukishima interrupts and Hinata stops. “Sorry,” the blonde says as he'd realized what he'd done.
“It's okay,” his companion shrugging off the apology, “And, yeah, we kinda have this tradition. It's not really camping, haha... but we'd take this truck out in the fields near our house and stargaze. The camping was when we'd set up a tent in the back afterward to sleep. Calling it camping is just easier.”
Tsukishima noted the warm look on his face. He also noted the horrible things it did to his insides.
“I told her when I finally brought it back we'd go,” Hinata continued, “but it's okay, I won't be away forever.”
“You can still go,” Tsukishima told him.
“B-but that's rude! I can't just leave you with my mom or ask you to leave without me. I don't –”
“I meant I could go with you,” he interjected, slightly exasperated, though he knew he hadn't exactly clarified his meaning until now.
But Hinata seemed surprised, his eyes wide. “You... you would? You want to?” he asked, hopefully.
His sudden enthusiasm made Tsukishima somewhat self-conscious, almost like he was being put on the spot now with his answer though it should be quite obvious.
He shrugged, “Sure. I don't see why not.”
A wide grin broke out over Hinata's features. “Awesome! Natsu will be happy,” he said, “And me too, of course.”
Unfortunately, Tsukishima has been taking another sip of his drink during Hinata's words, and, despite what Tsukishima wanted to believe about himself, the following coughing fit he then tried to hide was most likely caused by it.
After assuring Hinata that he was fine they soon finished up the food and Tsukishima got out to stretch his legs when gathering their trash and dumping it in the nearby waste bin. When he hopped back in, Hinata started the car and yawned.
“Tired?” he asked, though he was sure he already knew the answer from the way his companions eyelids drooped.
“Yeah,” Hinata said, softly, like a sigh. He pulled out of the parking lot and they were back on the road again. “I think I'll fall asleep when we get there. I hope you don't mind,” he said sheepishly.
“Sounds good. I probably will too,” Tsukishima said. He gathered his bag in his lap closer against his rest to rest his chin on. Although he might not have been as sleepy looking as Hinata was, he could feel the slight ache of tiredness behind his eyes.
Tsukishima must have dozed off as it felt like he'd only blinked before Hinata was turning the engine off. He jolted his head up, neck aching a bit from the way his head was turned. Hinata was looking out the window of the truck.
“Yeah, it's quiet. They're probably asleep,” he said.
Hinata then opened up the door to hop out and Tsukishima followed suit. The blonde shrugged his bag back over his shoulder while Hinata went near the back of the truck and picked up his duffle bag, leaving the bike, and Tsukishima then followed him as he made his way towards the front of the house.
“Just follow me,” Hinata said as he got them through the front entrance.
It was dark. The space was already foreign to Tsukishima but appeared even more so in the dark as he stumbled between various objects trying to keep his focus on Hinata's vague silhouette. It feels like a rush as they make their way through the house until Hinata stops and Tsukishima nearly knocks into him while also stopping as well.
Hinata then opened the door to what Tsukishima assumed was his room, and after the redhead fumbled for the light switch, his assumption was confirmed.
Tsukishima squinted into the bright room and followed Hinata as he headed inside.
“Oh, she already put the futons out. Cool.” Hinata spoke quietly, a harsh whisper. He dropped his duffle bag on the floor.
Tsukishima surveyed the room. It was rather bare, with only the two futons in the middle of the room, a small bedside table with a lamp. It wasn't really what he expected.
Hinata seemed to be reading his thoughts when he interjected, “Most of my things are back at my other place. I took almost everything when I left. Except for these.” Hinata then made his way over to where a window was parallel to the door. Tsukishima watched as Hinata's fingers latched on to something suspended from the curtain rod by a small wire. The other fiddled with it for a moment before a string of small bright lights lit up over the rod. They were fairy lights.
“Natsu put them in here for me,” Hinata laughed. He then looked over Tsukishima still holding his bad and still practically in the doorway. “You can put your stuff anywhere you like,” he then said, making the gesture with his hands.
Tsukishima then followed suit. It felt almost like another reality as he placed his bag down beside the futon nearest him. Perhaps it was just the tiredness behind his eyes or his own overthinking at his lack of response to the person he was pretty sure he had a crush on. Wasn't this what teenage girls practically daydreamed over?
But it was stupid of Tsukishima to think that way. He wasn't a teenage girl. And he wasn't someone to let a simple crush make him act like a complete idiot.
“Uh, Tsukishima?” Hinata said, sounding unsure, “I'm gonna get changed. I can go in the bathroom if...”
Unfortunately... the world was trying very hard to prove him wrong.
“You're fine,” Tsukishima said, albeit roughly, but he hoped the other might contribute that to sleepiness.
The next few minutes were silent as Hinata was changing and Tsukishima figured he should as well. He did it rather fast and pretended to fumble around with his bag until he heard Hinata pull back the covers of his futon. Tsukishima then got up and turned off the light and made his way back to the other futon, placing his glasses by the pillow. He couldn't lie, even though he was still a bit hyper-aware of the space he was taking up, it felt good to lay down.
“Good night,” Hinata said.
“Good night,” Tsukishima replied back. He shifted on his futon so that he was on his side, facing the door.
Tsukishima closed his eyes, attempting to fall asleep through the foreign surroundings and Hinata also by his side was a bit of a distraction from his wandering thoughts.
Then, suddenly, he heard Hinata chuckling. At first, he was unsure if he had heard right or if it was just his half-asleep brain imagining it, but a few seconds later he heard it again.
“What is it?”
Despite being in separate futons, Tsukishima felt Hinata shift next to him. He wondered if he too should turn, but instead laid there and listened as Hinata said, “Well –” he interrupted himself with another breathless chuckle – “I don't think I can fall asleep.”
Tsukishima was silent for a beat. He didn't really know if Hinata meant something different since he had obviously shown signs of exhaustion on there way here.
“How come?” Tsukishima asked into the dark.
There was another shift in movement on Hinata's side. “I think... I'm not used to sleeping with anyone,” the other said, and Tsukishima couldn't help the stiffness that seemed to reflexively take hold of him. Hinata then continued, “I used to be, with Natsu, but I haven't in a while. Or maybe it's just you.”
Tsukishima could only stare into the darkness, his thoughts going a million miles per hour yet also at a snail's pace.
“Do... do you want me to move somewhere else?” was the only thing the blonde could think of to say while trying to piece together his other more fleeting thoughts.
“No,” Hinata whispered, amusement still evident in his tone, “I like having you here too much.”
At this point, Tsukishima was beyond sleep. His body felt hyper-aware yet still lethargic from exhaustion, and he kept playing Hinata's words back in his mind –
I like having you here too much. I like having you here too much. I like having you here too much.
And all Tsukishima could think was this was his chance.
He'd already promised himself to address his feelings when the moment arose or at least an opportunity presented himself. However, he wasn't expecting it to be so soon or so late or that in that moment Hinata would seem dangerously close to confessing something similar himself.
“Hinata –” Tsukishima started as he moved himself to turn over, but the words died on his tongue when he realized Hinata himself had turned over himself, bringing their faces much closer together than Tsukishima had originally planned for.
Hinata also seemed to be taken aback as well if the hitch in his breath was anything to go by.
The tension built between them was palpable. Tsukishima couldn't even tell if he was breathing.
But Hinata was the first to break the silence as he blinked and seemed to breathe out a bit shakily. “Sorry,” he said, though the sound was barely above a whisper and Tsukishima was not sure he would have heard it if they were not so close, “I... think I'm just too tired.”
In most of these situations, Tsukishima would use his words. That's what he was usually good at, using words and logical reasoning.
However, perhaps it was the thought of losing what could potentially be his only chance to express his feelings, or the tension in the air at their close proximity, or the fact that Hinata had left the fairy lights on and the glow they cast seemed almost ethereal.
Or maybe it was Tsukishima's own exhaustion drugging his brain. But whatever the reason was seemed irrelevant as Tsukishima leaned in towards Hinata.
Tsukishima may never have been a man of action, but in this moment he feels he can be.
Tsukishima knows his angle is off. He's leaning too far forward and the position is less than ideal, not to mention his glasses have long been abandoned leading to lack of proper sight the dim lighting didn't help against. Therefore, the kiss is more pressed against the corner of Hinata's mouth than properly lined up.
It lasts for a moment before Tsukishima draws back and takes a breath as Hinata's eyes flutter open to blink owlishly at him.
It's in that moment that cold fear and anxiety grips Tsukishima. He's unsure how he could go back to sleep here next to Hinata and his brain runs through scenarios of leaving in the morning and how he could get back home alone. What would he tell Yamaguchi? What would he tell his brother?
“I – I'm sorry –”
But he's stopped when Hinata sighs, the other's body seeming to relax with relief. And despite the blurriness without his glasses, Tsukishima could make out the flash of teeth of a grin on the other's face.
“I've been waiting forever for you to do that,” Hinata said, the emphasis on forever and sounding faintly exasperated.
“You. I.” Tsukishima found himself at a loss, again, processing Hinata's words at a much slower pace than he should have been. Hinata is still smiling at him and staring in a way that makes Tsukishima feel completely vulnerable. “What?”
And Hinata just chuckles and leans in, brushing against Tsukishima's bottom lip. “I like you–” He pauses and then breathes– “Tsukki.”
It's too much. Not that it's bad – in fact, Tsukishima would have to say that it might be one of the best moments of his life – it's just too much.
Hinata is too much.
For the second time Tsukishima leans in, and this time Hinata is reaching for him. There are hands at his shoulders and he feels the other curving underneath him as he leans over to try and achieve a better angle. Their noses squish and Tsukishima can feel the arm he has by Hinata's side to balance himself is starting to cramp and perhaps Hinata is kissing him with a bit too much force but Tsukishima can't really find the energy to care.
They get better with practice.
The realization lingers idly in the back of Tsukishima's mind. He's never kissed anyone before now. He's not sure about Hinata. There's a sort of clumsiness to the other's movements that makes him suspect the redhead hasn't, but that really doesn't mean anything. The clumsiness could just be eagerness, lack of experience, or lack of skill.
But Tsukishima could not care less because Hinata is warm in his arms and soft at his mouth.
They've since shifted positions from their first couple of kisses. Tsukishima's back is against his futon and Hinata is not so much on top of him as he is simply leaning over him, chest to chest, one of his knees pressing against Tsukishima's thigh. Hinata's hands cup his face and Tsukishima presses a hand near Hinata's lower back and the other against the back of Hinata's head. At this, Hinata makes a soft sound against his mouth and its honestly the most incredible thing.
Tsukishima doesn't know how long it is before they part to catch their breath, foreheads pressed together and Hinata's hands still against his face. But Tsukishima doesn't wait for long before giving another soft peck to Hinata's lips. Then another. And then another on Hinata's nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead until Hinata starts chuckling and Tsukishima's mind is clearing through the haze and his heart is soaring.
“How long?” Tsukishima finds himself asking.
For a moment, Hinata just stares at him, still gooey-eyed and Tsukishima can't help but find it adorable. But after a moment, the redhead blinks himself into focus. “Oh. Mm... a while.” He admits this almost sheepishly even though they had been making out a few seconds ago.
Tsukishima feels his stomach twist in slight apprehension and also excitement. “How long is a while?”
Hinata chews at his bottom lip and Tsukishima watches the movement before Hinata says, “A few months?”
Tsukishima grins slyly, “Are you telling me or asking me?”
Hinata whines at the other's teasing, but there's a wide spreading smile that Tsukishima has the strongest urge to kiss away.
A moment later, “I have to tell you something,” Hinata says when they break apart for a moment. Tsukishima hums questioningly against the others cheek.
“You know the other day? When I was asking about a... a book?”
“I... well I actually lied. I didn't have a project,” Hinata said softly, like a secret, “I just... I just wanted to talk to you.”
It takes Tsukishima a second but then he feels a laugh bubbling up in his chest and he grins wildly against Hinata's hair. “You are such a dork.” And Hinata giggles, seemingly relieved.
“I have something I should tell you too then,” Tsukishima says.
“Huh? What?” Hinata questioned.
“Remember when you asked me, not long after you first came into the shop if I remembered you the first time we met. I actually lied. I didn't remember you until you showed up in front of me and Yamaguchi.”
Hinata seems to almost hiccup with laughter. Their foreheads bump and it's the last straw before Tsukishima lets his own laughter bubble over and then they're both in giggling dissaray.
“We're such a mess... Tsukki,” Hinata says.
The nickname takes on a whole different meaning in the way he says it. Tsukishima breathes in deeply. His fingers at the back of Hinata's head urge him closer and then they're back to kissing.
Their kisses soon become less hurried, not lessening in enthusiasm as much as the franticness from before has now faded into comfort.
Eventually, they do stop, but it feels less like the end of something and more of a transition of sorts. Hinata barely moves from his position so Tsukishima ends up falling asleep on his back. It's fine, he thinks, his fingers brushing through Hinata's hair. There's so much his brain still wants to sift through, but it's too late in the night and he is far too content.
When Tsukishima wakes up, he's almost unbearably hot.
He's only half awake, knows its probably too early in the morning to be up and feeling stifled is most likely what woke him up. When this situation happens at home, it's merely a case of him kicking the covers off of his legs to allow the bedroom air to cool him off, and so, by reflex, that is exactly what he does.
There's a small groan as his foot makes contact with something solid in trying to push the covers off of himself, and it's not from him.
Hinata's messy head of hair comes into Tsukishima's blurry vision, and the other realizes what has happened. He scrubs his eyes with the heel of his palm, blinking out the sleep and trying to see as clearly as he's able to without his glasses. “Sorry,” he mutters.
There's a low hum from Hinata, who wriggles himself out from underneath his own covers so that they gather in a pile against his back and he curls up more against Tsukishima's side. Tsukishima moves too. His back aches from the angle he fell asleep on it and the foreignness of a hard futon rather than his own bed, so he turns on his side, facing Hinata.
Hinata's eyes are still closed as he says, “I don't think I can go back to sleep.”
Tsukishima simply hums in agreement. “What time is it?” he asks.
Hinata snuggles closer till his hair brushes under Tsukishima's chin. “... don't know,” he answers, and Tsukishima's not surprised.
The blond shifts over on the futon. Without his glasses, he has to pat around before he finds them as well as his phone. He puts them on and checks the time on his phone. 7:38 a.m. There's also an unread message notification, but he ignores it for now.
“It's still pretty early,” he says when he turns back around. Hinata still has his eyes closed, hair flattened from sleep, but he makes a small noise of acknowledgment.
“Do you think anyone else is up?”
“Mm, dunno,” Hinata mumbles, blinking open his eyes, “'m not sure when Mom has to go to work.”
Tsukishima lays still, his thoughts wandering. On some level, there's a knot of anxiety within him, being in a place he's unfamiliar with about to interact with individuals he's unsure of the response they'll have to him. This is even more so than before considering whatever it is that developed between him and Hinata last night.
But the other, more rational part of his brain knew he was just being stupid.
And everything last night comes back to Tsukishima with startling clarity, sharp and clear like the morning sunlight peeking through the window. It feels embarrassing in hindsight, but not because he regrets it; he stands by his actions.
He looks down and Hinata is blinking up at him, long eyelashes and bright brown eyes with barely visible smudges underneath. Tsukishima ruffles his hair affectionately. “I'm getting up,” he says.
Hinata makes no argument with him. They disentangle from each other quickly and dig through their bags respectively. Tsukishima pulls on a pair of sweats he brought while Hinata leaves the room for a moment with his toothbrush, not bothering to put anything else on than the t-shirt and boxers he fell asleep in.
Tsukishima then sits on the futon and goes to check his messages. It's from his brother, simply wishing him a good night and the hopes that he was having a good time at Yamaguchi's. Right.
Hinata comes back in right when Tsukishima finishes typing a quick reply and throwing his phone on the bed.
“So my mom is up right now,” Hinata informs him, “and she wants to meet you before she has to leave. And Natsu really wants to meet you too.”
Tsukishima swallows. “Okay,” he says slowly, “Did you tell your mom about... y'know –” he gestures between them – “us?”
Hinata's eyes go noticeably wide and his cheeks color. “N-no! I mean, not that I don't want to, but I didn't – I wasn't sure if you – we – were... If you were, like if you wanted to be –”
During his ramble, Tsukishima had gotten up and eventually put
his hand over the other's amount, successfully silencing him lest he explodes.
Hinata looks up at him as he pulls his hand away and tries to give a soft reassuring smile. “It's okay. We don't have to say anything and we don't have to label... whatever it is we have. But I want to know what you want because...” Tsukishima pauses, which is ridiculous because it's not like its a secret at this point, “Because I like you, Hinata.”
Hinata's breath hitches before a wobbly smile spreads across his flushed face, “I like you too. Can I kiss you?”
Tsukishima can feel his ears burning, but says, “Yeah,” before leaning in.
Hinata's breath is warm. He tastes slightly of toothpaste. His hands curl in Tsukishima's shirt. These observations swirl in Tsukishima's mind, everything much more clear than it was the night before, and he wants to remember this. It's hard to believe this is his life now.
When they pull away after a moment, Hinata bites his lip a bit before saying, “I feel okay about telling my mom, if that's alright with you.”
It makes Tsukishima feel more that he's painting a target on his back for teasing being a complete stranger who was going to first be introduced as a friend and now a boyfriend(?) under a period of twenty-four hours, but he trusts Hinata, seeing how he knows his mother better than Tsukishima probably ever would.
“Okay,” he agrees.
Hinata's mom might be the nicest person Tsukishima's ever met.
Hinata shares his mother's eyes and bright smile, but other than that, he probably would never know they were related unless he was told. Tsukishima is unsure if Hinata has even told her of their relationship, but he barely thinks about it when she shakes his hand and expresses how nice it is to finally meet him after all her son has mentioned about him. She also expresses how impressed she is that he's gotten Hinata to pick up a book willingly. And after, she apologizes for having to leave on such short notice.
It leaves Tsukishima somewhat dazed and a little anti-climatic with all the nervousness that had been sitting in the back of his mind.
However, this is quickly overridden by another pair of brown eyes watching him curiously.
Unlike Hinata's mother, there is no doubt that Natsu and Hinata are related. They have the same messy red hair, brown eyes, and seemingly the same copious amounts of energy if their sibling greeting is anything to go by. Though Tsukishima can't say he doesn't find it adorable.
Hinata had introduced them shortly afterward. Tsukishima admits that he doesn't really know how to act when around others who are younger than he is, having not had much experience. But Natsu looks up at him and continues to tilt her head up until pretending to almost fall back before she and Hinata erupt into bouts of laughter.
Hinata then heads to the kitchen to make some breakfast, although Tsukishima objects as he's fine with the cereal that Natsu is currently eating, but the other dismisses him. So he sits across the table from him, eyes fixed on him as she eats her cereal rather than the small TV across the room turned to cartoons. Tsukishima can feel the interrogation coming at any moment.
“How tall are you?” he's then asked.
There it is, he thinks.
“I'm 192 cm,” he answers.
And then the questions come rapid fire. “How old are you? Do you like music? What kind of music? Do you go to school with Onii-chan? Do you play volleyball with him too?”
“Natsu!” Hinata calls, amusement in his voice, “At least give him a chance to answer.”
Natsu ceases her stream of questions, puffs out her cheeks in a pout and goes back to finishing the rest of her cereal.
“20, yes, no preference, no, and no,” Tsukishima answers. Natsu grins at him.
“Do you have any questions for me?” she then asks as she cradles her cereal bowl before tipping it back to drink the milk.
“Hmm...” Tsukishima thinks. If there's one thing he knows he's not good at, it's thinking of questions. He just naturally isn't a curious person.
He decidedly settles on something lame. “What's your favorite color?”
“Pink,” Natsu says without missing a beat, “And also I like soft yellows.”
Tsukishima nods unhelpful.
Thankfully, it's in that moment that Hinata announces breakfast.
After informing Natsu that they were planning a small camping excursion, the next few days were filled with bustling and business. Keeping Natsu entertained was the biggest part of it, Tsukishima found. She was very talkative. Tsukishima didn't mind, however. He was more than happy to let her tell him about school, her friends, and her interests as well as stories about Hinata that he greatly appreciated and that relieved him monotony as he did the dishes or swept the floor. Hinata's mom had told him he didn't have to but he'd offered.
Hinata and Natsu had also planned a list of things they would need for the small trip which had led to a very long venture to find the location of a gas lamp.
Tsukishima did really do much himself. He helped out where he could, he watched TV with Hinata and Natsu, watched her when she wanted to prove how much better at tossing she had become than her brother.
Despite this, the days pass rather quickly.
It's also amazing to Tsukishima how he's technically been dating for only a few days and now how distracting it is to have the other near him. Or perhaps it has always been true, but until now he's never really let himself embrace it fully. And he's found himself gazing in Hinata's direction more often than not.
They also haven't kissed again either since the first day of their visit.
It's not something that entirely bothers Tsukishima. Even if he wasn't respecting Hinata's timing in when he wanted to tell his mother, Tsukishima would prefer not to have an audience witness to... certain interactions.
Although that didn't stop Tsukishima from kissing the back of Hinata's neck one night while they were brushing their teeth in the bathroom. He'd do it again just to see the same adorable reaction.
“Psst, Tsukishima. Are you asleep?” Hinata whispered.
Although Tsukishima had his eyes closed, he immediately opened them and turned his head over to see Hinata sitting up in the dim light.
“Not anymore,” he answered, then, “I'm kidding,” when he noticed Hinata's apologetic face.
Hinata then made a motion for him to follow and they slip out the bed of the truck, trying not to disturb the tightly curled up Natsu. It was hard to believe after she had practically been vibrating with excitement all day before.
Hinata manages to scoot Natsu over more towards the wall of the truck and then zipped up the tent from the back. It has surprised Tsukishima that even with such a small tent it could still fit and be set up in the back. However, it wasn't the most comfortable to lay on, but that wasn't very surprising.
For a second, Tsukishima feared they might go sit in the car. He still had his knees a bit sore from the ride earlier today. It had been short but also even more uncomfortable than the ride he'd had with just him and Hinata. Natsu sat in the middle, so not only was there no room for Tsukishima's knees but his shoulder was also pressed rather hard against the passenger side door. But instead, Hinata came toward him and wrapped his arms around him in a hug. Tsukishima smiles softly and rests his arms over Hinata's shoulders and returns the hug
They soon sit down on the grass, much the same as they had only a few hours ago, but this time with Hinata more closely beside him, resting his cheek against the blonde's shoulder with his fingers drifting through Hinata's hair. It feels much more intimate at this moment. Much more soft and warm despite the cool night air.
The stars are also beautiful as Hinata and Natsu have both mentioned during that night.
Tsukishima kisses Hinata under the stars on the last night of their stay.
There's not much to pack, of course, so it's barely an hour after breakfast that he and Hinata are ready to leave.
Hinata lingers with his mother in the kitchen while Natsu follows Tsukishima as he heads outside to the truck with his bag. It's a little heartwarming how close she lingers though she doesn't seem to realize it.
“Take care of Onii-chan,” she says in a much more serious tone than anyone in their pajamas with bedhead has any right to.
“I will,” he assures her, “You take care of your mom.”
“I always do.” She's still serious and Tsukishima can't help but chuckle a little.
Hinata then comes out of the house, laughing with his mom. He gives her a tight hug and a quick peck on the cheek before calling out to Natsu. She runs and there's another tight hug being given. Tsukishima is so caught up in watching that he almost misses Hinata's mom beckoning to him.
He walks over where she too gives him a hug. Tsukishima hesitates mainly due to their drastically differing heights. But even after she pulls away from their embrace, her hand lingers a hold on his forearm and she smiles up at him.
“Shouyo is very lucky to have you. I hope you feel you can stay for a while.”
She knows. Hinata told her and now she knows. And by the look on her face, as he bulks, she knows that he knows that she knows.
But despite this, he still manages a calm and reassuring, “I plan to.”
“Good,” she says and lets him go with a slight pat to his arm.
Tsukishima also receives another quick hug from Natsu and promises for the umpteenth time to visit again soon before climbing back into the cramped truck with Hinata.
Hinata is grinning as they drive away.
“I didn't expect you to be so happy to leave,” Tsukishima comments.
Hinata turns his bright brown eyes on him for a quick moment. “I'll miss them, but I'm still happy you're here.” He's blushing when he says it, and Tsukishima thinks he might not ever want the other to not be flustered around him, though it also makes his own ears burn in return.
“Thanks. I think your mom is too,” he teases.
Hinata's face then goes really red. His hands tighten on the steering wheel. “Wha...what did she say? Something embarrassing?”
Tsukishima can't help it but he laughs, sudden and loud. “No, not really. My brother has said so much worse to me.” Hinata seems to relax a bit at that.
“Would you like to meet him?” Tsukishima then asks, “It's only far after I've met some of your family.”
He's been thinking about it for a while. Ever since he decided that staying at Hinata's house wasn't the most stressful thing he'd ever endured. Also, he still felt a bit guilty about lying to his brother.
“I'd like that!” Hinata says with his usual cheerful enthusiasm. “I'd also like to tell my friends too. Not Kageyama, if you don't want, but at least Kenma.”
“That's fine. Tell anyone you want,” Tsukishima says. Although he is feeling good at this moment, he has a feeling those words might come back to haunt him. However, it doesn't matter now. “Maybe we can even go on some real dates too now.”
“I'd like that,” Hinata admits, voice sounding soft and thoughtful in the best way, “I like you a lot too, Tsukki. I'm glad we're together.”
“Me too, Hinata,” Tsukishima says back, voice carried on the golden sunlight of the morning, “I like you a lot too.”
Thank you so much if you've stuck around till the end of my weird little experimental fic. The positive feedback on it was so nice to read and see from you all, especially when there were so many times I thought of stopping and deleting it due to my lack of motivation, but I'm glad I stuck around. So thanks.