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How (Not) to Deal With Pent-Up Frustration

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“Kenjirou, you can take Shigeru-kun up to your room while we adults chat downstairs. We wouldn’t want to bore you. I’ll call you when dinner is ready.” Shirabu-san says, all but ushering the two of them up the stairs.

Neither Kenjirou nor Shigeru point out that they’re both eighteen an easily old enough to sit at the adults table like Kenjirou’s older brothers do.

Not that Shigeru would want to.

Instead, ever the dutiful son, Kenjirou replies “yes, mother”, and leads Shigeru up to his room.

He walks in first, and halts in the door, as if assessing the damage before Shigeru gets to see it.

“Sorry for the mess. I didn’t expect you to be here today…” he says. It sounds like an accusation. Maybe it is one.

It has been a while since Kenjirou last attended the Shirabus’ annual Christmas party. Usually he would stay at Shiratorizawa for practice camp, leaving Shigeru to sit at the adults’ table with no one to talk to. But now…

“Sorry for the intrusion.” Shigeru mumbles as he takes a step into the room.

Kenjirou ignores him and lets himself fall on his bed, turning his back to Shigeru.

Shigeru suppresses a sigh. This is going to be an awkward evening.

He stands by the door, unsure if he should go in or not. “You know, we don’t have to hang out together. I can just go back down and-“

“Just close the door, will you?” Kenjirou interrupts him briskly.

Shigeru does as he’s told and then goes to sit at the desk.

Kenjirou is still ignoring him, so Shigeru takes the time to look around the room.

Until three years ago, Shigeru was here regularly. His parents have been friends with Kenjirou’s since before the two of them were born. Even though they didn’t see each other more than three or four times a year growing up, Kenjirou was the first friend Shigeru remembers making. He was the one who introduced Shigeru to volleyball. The first boy he ever had a crush on. And the first person he ever kissed.

Then, three years ago, Kenjirou got into Shiratorizawa and stopped coming to their families’ get-togethers. They only ever saw each other at tournaments now, both of them too focused on their teams to waste any time catching up. It’s a pity, really. They used to get along so well.

Even though Kenjirou apologized for the mess, the room is tidier than Shigeru’s own room after he made an effort to clean up. It’s also duller than in Shigeru’s memories, but maybe that’s just due to the fact that Kenjirou spends most of the year at the dorms. Shigeru notices with glee that, even though the rest of the walls are bare now, the poster of UshiWaka over Kenjirou’s bed is still hanging.

He itches to take a picture of it for later black-mail purposes, but resists the urge.

Instead, his gaze wanders back to the desk and gets stuck on a picture of Kenjirou, Shiratorizawa’s vice-captain, and their ace lifting up the cup they won the Inter High Prefecturals.

Kenjirou has a huge, happy grin on his face.

The picture makes Shigeru wince.

He has a similar one set as his phone background right now, of him, Shinji and Kentarou a little over a month ago after they beat Shiratorizawa in the Spring High Prefectural Final.

It’s the reason why Kenjirou isn’t talking to him right now.

He looks over to the bed, only to find Kenjirou already watching him.

Shigeru sends him an awkward smile.

“Don’t fucking look at me like that.” Kenjirou demands, sitting up.

“Like what?” Shigeru asks with a frown. He just wanted to be civil, Kenjirou is the one acting like a dick.

“Like you feel sorry for me. I don’t need your pity!” Kenjirou glares at him.

“I…” I don’t pity you, Shigeru wants to say, but that’s not true.

Not when he can still hear Kenjirou’s voice at the end of the third set. “I’m fine”, he had insisted, his voice contorted with pain. “I’m fine”, he had kept saying, even though he could barely walk on his twisted ankle. “I’m fine”, he had pleaded with his coach. To no avail.

Not when he still remembers the tears streaming down Kenjirou’s face as he was substituted.

Not when he thinks of Kenjirou’s expression, void of any emotions, as he shook Shigeru’s hand and congratulated him on Seijoh’s win.

“I’m sorry.” he offers instead.

It’s the wrong thing to say.

“Just fuck off, will you? The only reason your fucking team even won is because I couldn’t finish the game. You don’t get to look down on me!”

What did you just say?” Shigeru can handle Kenjirou being a sore loser to some extent but that was a low blow.

And Kenjirou knows it. Shigeru can see it written on his face.

But Kenjirou is also the type of person who is too proud to back down now.

“Your team only won because I wasn’t playing, Shigeru.” he repeats instead, a sickly-sweet smile on his face.

Shigeru gets up from the chair and marches over to the bed.

“We won because your team isn’t shit without UshiWaka. And you know it, too”, Shigeru snaps.

It’s a horrible thing to say and untrue on top of it, but if Kenjirou is dishing out, he better be able to take it, too.

“Is that so? We beat you just fine during the Inter High Qualifiers anyway. Don’t you remember? You came crying to me afterwards and asked me to keep winning for you and your team, too. Because you just weren’t strong enough.” Kenjirou hisses. He gets up and glares at Shigeru.

Shigeru uses his height to loom over Kenjirou and look down at him.

“Sorry, but which of our teams is going to Nationals again. Oh, right, mine.”

“You just got lucky. We’re the ones who beat Karasuno and Datekou. You just won the finals because I twisted my fucking ankle. We would have beat you easily.”

“Do you really believe that? Shiratorizawa went to Nationals for years in a row and then, with you as their main setter, they suddenly failed to go to Nationals not once, but twice. Do you really think that’s a coincidence?”

Shigeru wants to take back his words as soon as they leave his mouth. Hurt flashes over Kenjirou’s face, only to be replaced immediately afterwards by seething anger.

“Shut up!” he growls, grabbing Shigeru by his shirt and pulling him down to eyelevel.

Shigeru forgets what he wanted to say next.

For a moment, they’re just staring at each other.

Then, they’re kissing.

Shigeru couldn’t say who started it, but Kenjirou’s hands are still twisted into Shigeru’s shirt and he’s pushing him back against the closet, the handle digging into Shigeru’s back painfully and they’re still kissing.

If you can even call it a kiss. It’s all clicking teeth and burning anger.

Shigeru’s hands find their way into Kenjirou’s hair and he yanks him closer.

Kenjirou hisses into the kiss.

Shigeru smirks.

Until Kenjirou bites his lip so hard, Shigeru pulls away with a pained groan, the back of his head hitting the closet door.

“You fucking bit me.” he hisses, running his tongue over his aching bottom lip.

“Boohoo, what are you going to do about it, Shigeru-chan?” Kenjirou is breathing heavily but the anger is still burning hot in his eyes.

Shigeru has never been good at backing away from a challenge.

He pushes away from the closet, grabs Kenjirou by the shoulders and flips them around until Kenjirou is the one pressed against the closet door.

He takes a second to enjoy the surprised look on Kenjirou’s face. Then, he kisses him again.

It starts out just as angry as the last one, searing, painful.

Like they’re still fighting.

Then, suddenly, Kenjirou surrenders. His lips go pliant under Shigeru’s. The grip on his shirt loosens.

Shigeru feels something wet on his cheek.

When he pulls away, he sees that Kenjirou is crying.

He’s wiping his tears away angrily, refusing to meet Shigeru’s eyes.

“Don’t fucking look at me!” he snarls.

His shoulders are shaking.

Shigeru doesn’t know what to do. He just kissed Kenjirou. Or more precisely, he just said horrible things to Kenjirou. And then they kissed. And now Kenjirou is crying.

This is not how Shigeru expected this evening to go at all.

“I… I’m sorry, I… I didn’t mean those things I said.” he admits quietly.

Kenjirou ignores him, still wiping away his tears. “Fuck!” He pushes Shigeru aside and walks over to the bed, sitting down.

He buries his face in his hands. “Fuck” he says again, shakily.

Shigeru still doesn’t know what he should do, but he settles for walking over to the bed and sitting down next to Kenjirou. After a moment’s hesitation, he puts his hand on Kenjirou’s back, and rubs a soothing circle with his thumb.

He can hear Kenjirou take several deep breaths. Then he looks up.

“This is so fucking stupid…” he mumbles.

“I’m really sorry, Kenjirou, I really didn’t mean it, I just…” Shigeru doesn’t really know what to say. I just got angry because you started slinging insults first somehow doesn’t seem like a good idea.

“Doesn’t mean you weren’t right…” Kenjirou huffs, shaking off Shigeru’s hand.

Shigeru blinks. He assumed that Kenjirou was upset about having lost to Seijoh, but this… “What? Kenjirou, no! What the fuck?”

Kenjirou throws him a bitter smile. “You said it yourself: I failed to get us to Nationals even when we had Ushijima-san on our team. I suck. I don’t know why they ever made me Captain in the first place.”

Oh, fuck no. Shigeru is not having this.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” He grabs Kenjirou’s shoulder. “Kenjirou, you made it to Shiratorizawa on grades alone. You worked your fucking ass off to get there, and then you fought your way onto the volleyball team. We’re talking about the best team in the Prefecture here and you were their starting setter in your second year. Don’t give me all that bullshit about being weak!”

“Well, we wouldn’t have lost if Semi-san had played against Karasuno…”

“That was a year ago. How are you still hung up over that? Yeah, Karasuno won. Because their whole fucking team is batshit-crazy. I watched the game, okay? You played well. And the same goes for the tournaments this year. You had no UshiWaka, no Guess-Monster and no Benkei and you still took your team to Nationals, asshole!” as he goes on his voice grows louder and louder.

“You don’t get it, Shigeru!”, Kenjirou all but yells. Then, quieter, he continues: “I lost. You don’t get to lose when you’re Shiratorizawa. And I did. Twice.”

The expression on his face is full of self-loathing. Shigeru will not stand for this.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake! Fun fact: you can’t win every game you play. No one does. Not you, not me, not even fucking UshiWaka. Stop acting like it’s the end of the world!”

“You can talk. You’re going to Nationals…”

Shigeru wants to grab Kenjirou by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. But that won’t do. So, instead, he takes a deep breath. “You’re such a fucking drama queen. Are you going to university?” he asks insistently.

“… yeah. But-“ Kenjirou tries to protest but Shigeru interrupts him. “They have volleyball teams there, too. It’s not like you’ll never play again. Hell, if you want to, you could probably even make it to the same University as UshiWaka and play with him again.”

Kenjirou thinks this over for a minute. “… I guess…”

“You guess?!” Shigeru pushes. “Where is the Kenjirou who made it to Shiratorizawa on willpower alone?”

Kenjirou scoffs and wipes the last of his tears away. “You’re embarrassing, Shigeru.”

I’m embarrassing? You’re the one who’s being a baby.” He playfully boxes Kenjirou’s shoulder.

“You’re also shit at consoling people, has anyone ever told you that?” Kenjirou continues.

“You stopped crying, didn’t you?”

That finally makes Kenjirou smile. Then his expression turns serious again. “If you tell anyone about this, I will end you.”

“Relax, this whole thing will stay between you and me. And poster-UshiWaka” Shigeru promises with his best innocent grin.

Kenjirou groans. “That’s still there from middle school. I just never got around to taking it down.”

“Whatever you need to tell yourself, Kenjirou-chan.”

Kenjirou shoves him. “Fuck off” he says, but this time, it doesn’t hold any heat.

Shigeru shoves back.

Kenjirou grabs a pillow and whacks it against Shigeru’s shoulder with a grin.

Shigeru raises an eyebrow. This means war.

Within seconds, they’re grappling on Kenjirou’s bed.

And then one thing leads to another and suddenly, they’re making out again.

Shigeru couldn’t say how much time passes before a knock on the door makes them spring apart.

“Kenjirou, Shigeru-kun, the food will be done in five minutes.” Shirabu-san announces through the door.

They can hear her footsteps going back down the stairs, then the only sound in the room is their heavy breathing.

Kenjirou is still perched over Shigeru and they’re looking at each other, wide-eyed.

Finally, Kenjirou rolls away and flops down on his back next to Shigeru.

“So…”, Shigeru says slowly. “This… happened…”

“Yeah, no shit.” Kenjirou laughs. He sits up and looks down at Shigeru. “Fuck. I think I gave you a hickey.”

His thumb caresses a spot on Shigeru’s neck.

Shigeru kind of forgets how to think. Kenjirou is smiling at him and his hair is a mess and his lips are red and swollen and Shigeru really, really wants to kiss him again.

“Stop looking at me like that, idiot!” Kenjirou complains and boxes him against his shoulder. “Come on, get up, we need to do damage control otherwise there will be questions.”

Shigeru wants to protest but he knows that Kenjirou is right. If his hair is even half as mussed as Kenjirou’s his mother will have a heart attack when he goes downstairs. So, he gets up reluctantly.

A glance in the mirror is enough to confirm that Kenjirou was right. Shigeru’s hair is a mess, his shirt is wrinkled beyond saving and that is definitely a hickey blooming on the side of his neck.

“Well, fuck…”

Kenjirou comes to stand next to him and combs his fingers through his hair. It falls back perfectly straight. Shigeru is kind of jealous. Even with his best efforts to tame it, his own hair remains a fluffy mop.

“Do you have a hoody I could borrow or something? Might help with the wrinkled shirt and with the… uh…” Shigeru gestures towards his hickey. He can feel his ears burning.

“Yeah, sure, one sec…” Kenjirou opens the closet door and rummages around a bit.

When he turns around, he has a shit-eating grin on his face. “Here you go!” he says and presents Shigeru with a hoody. A Shiratorizawa hoody, to be exact.

Shigeru huffs out a laugh. “You’re kind of a dick, has anyone ever told you that?”

“Maybe once or twice…” Kenjirou says cheerily.

Shigeru takes the hoody. It fits him just right, so it must be a bit big for Kenjirou. I bet he looks cute in it, he catches himself thinking.

“It suits you. Now, just make sure nobody’s sitting on your left and then they won’t notice a thing.” Kenjirou declares.

Shigeru doubts that’s true. He feels incredibly giddy, he still struggles to form a coherent thought and he can’t stop looking at Kenjirou. And Kenjirou himself has an uncharacteristic smile on his lips and his cheeks are flushed in a lovely pink. They’ll just have to hope that the adults are too caught up in their own conversation to bother with them.

Shigeru takes a deep breath. They’ll get this stupid dinner over with and then, who knows, maybe he’ll get to kiss Kenjirou again.

He’s just reaching for the door knob, when Kenjirou tugs at his wrist.

“Hey, Shigeru…” he says, almost timidly.

“Yes?” he turns around to find Kenjirou fiddling with his fingers.

“I’m… for what it’s worth, I’m sorry about the things I said about Seijoh. They’re not true. You have a great team. Kick some ass in Tokyo, yeah?”

Shigeru desperately wants to kiss him again, but that’s not a good idea right now, so instead he just says: “You could always come watch.”

“Yeah, no, over my dead body!” Kenjirou exclaims, but there’s a smile in his voice.

“You’re such a dick, Kenjirou.” Shigeru laughs.

“You said that already.” Kenjirou presses a kiss to Shigeru’s cheek, then he opens the door and leads him downstairs.