Kuroo was already outside his room when Tsukishima finally made it to his corner of the living area. He was draped in a loose black tank top and pale blue pants that had a familiar pattern repeated throughout. The design struck him as odd and maybe it was his lack of sleep, since he usually wouldn’t care to mention it at all, but instead he did.
“Are… those Chocobos on your pajamas?”
The man in question took the defensive, arms crossed over his torso. “They were a gift from Kenma, plus they’re soft-”
“But you don’t even play Final Fantasy-”
“I know that! Everyone knows that!” His voice and patience was rising at an alarming rate, soon everyone would be roaming the halls to see what the commotion was. Kuroo took a moment to compose himself before speaking again, getting closer so they would speak a little louder than a whisper. “That’s not important. What is important,” he started, putting both hands on the other’s shoulders. “Is that you said something’s wrong. So, what’s going on?”
For all the good marks and information he could easily retain, he had to admit that the part of his brain that dealt with feelings was… not as bright as the academic side. Tsukishima didn’t know exactly what was wrong, but just that ever since Terushima started getting more friendly and flirty with his best friend, he was struggling in mundane activities.
His heart would act up, like it was starting back to life and making up for usual shallow beats with surplus amounts of them. His face got more flushed than before, though he suspected the growing climate attributed to that. Focus was becoming a struggle for him, especially if the new duo was in his line of sight. He had no clue what was going on, but he wanted it to stop…
The middle blocker was shoved out of his thinking once his body swayed back and forth against his will. “Earth to Tsukishima! A-are you alight?” Maybe it was the window from outside that made Kuroo look like a being sent from above, or maybe it was the lack of sleep, or maybe even the overwhelming amount of emotion that he usually tried to bottle up. For whatever reason, Tsukishima didn't respond, but reacted.
He escaped the boy’s grip on his shoulders, sliding his arms around the cotton tank top and holding close. Tsukishima was trying his hardest to retract back into the stoic player he presented to the world, but it was hard to do so, and Kuroo felt safe in that instant.
The captain certainly wasn’t expecting the emotionless blonde to be hugging him with a slight shiver at a time close to midnight, but when did anything in his life go as planned? He responded with a soft “oh” before they both remained silent. Kuroo knew the other needed some time to compose himself, so he let the hug extend more than needed, making circles on the back to his hoodie.
Tsukishima pulled off and readjusted his glasses, and maybe it was the gleam from the glass, but Kuroo swore he saw a tear and the possible buildup of more. After clearing his throat and looking down at the floor, the blonde spoke once more. “T-thanks. I, um,... I-I’m not sure what came over me.”
“It’s okay, but I think I can give you a diagnosis.”
Kei looked up in confusion, yet with a hint of intrigue. “You.. can?”
“With all of your symptoms and current conditions, I’m diagnosing you with ‘emotional constipation’”.
Tsukishima looked rattled then went to turn away, regretting ever texting Kuroo to meet up about his predicament, whatever it truly was. Should have called Akaashi. However, before he could make the journey back to his own room, Kuroo caught the edge of his sweatshirt. Even when he’s not here, Akiteru still haunts me.
“Look, that wasn’t the best wording, so... sorry. But can you
look me in the eyes and tell me I’m wrong?’ They both know the answer to that. “So, we can go about this a couple ways. You could always talk to Yamaguchi about how you’re feeling-”
“-How I’m feeling about what? I don’t want to burden him because I’m… I don’t even know what I’m feeling or why for that matter.”
Does he really have no idea? And he’s supposed to be the smart intellect. “Okay. Well, what do you want to do then?”
“I….” Tsukishima looked downwards all of a sudden, thinking out his options and end goal. “I just want Yamaguchi to look at me again. I think… I think that I want to make sure Terushima doesn’t hurt him.”
Kuroo, don’t fucking suggest it. I know you’re running on -239 hours of sleep, but don’t- “We could always fight fire with fire?”
He locked eyes with the other, obviously taken aback. “I’m sorry, what?”
Digging yourself a hole man... “You don’t like how close Terushima and Yamaguchi have been getting lately, so what if..” Nononon sTOP- “... we did the same thing they’re doing, but towards them.”
“That’s…” Tsukishima’s face went from thinking the whole thing was absurd, to actually considering the possibility. “I-It could work. But, I wouldn’t force you to do it… I’d be your choice. I-I’m sure there’s another way.”
Kuroo opened his mouth, but as soon as he did, another thing opened up: the bedroom’s door. In the doorway was a disheveled blond-ish boy, hair ruffled and sweatshirt bunched up around his waist more than it should. He was rubbing his eyes, and leaned against the wooden frame for support. With a yawn, he asked “are you two almost done? I’m trying to sleep..”
“Yeah, sorry Kenma.” Kuroo said, quickly dropping Tsukishima’s sleeve as if it were a poison. The tired boy seemed to register enough to realize he didn’t want to get involved and that they were wrapping up soon. He closed the doorway, leaving the remaining two to look at each other.
It's a simple word to say, you can even add more. Explain why it’s stupid, why this whole thing has gone way out of proportion- “Sure, I’ll do it if you’re game.”
Tsukishima nodded and went to leave, thanking him for his cooperation and help, plus saying he’ll text him tomorrow about what the plan of action would be.
Kuroo stood in the dim hallway for another minute after the blonde left, trying to grasp whatever just happened. Before returning to his bed, he thought about Kenma and what he would have said if he had gotten up just a few moments earlier. Kuroo just hoped his decision wouldn’t hurt anyone, but that was just wishful thinking.
It was strange to awake to his phone’s alarm clock for once. Kenma was getting used to getting woken up by Kuroo’s steps or commission from getting ready. But when he had fully woken up to the setting on his phone, his friend was nowhere in sight. Mumbling to himself, he thought that “maybe he’s pulling a prank on me, again.”
He got up and ready for the day, being extra cautious of all his care products, since last time Kuroo decided to be a prankster he replaced his toothpaste with mayo. It was vile and Kozume would very much not like to repeat that if possible.
Heading outside and towards the cafe, he saw that only the coaches and team managers were sitting inside. The manager trainee from Karasuno had told him that they needed to fix the upcoming schedule, due to the additional team. This meant that all the other players were laid out on the grass, making a make-shift picnic breakfast.
Maybe this is all a part of Kuroo’s big idea , the setter thought to himself. What a bother for everyone.
He tried to find where his friend was in the sea of high school boys, but it proved difficult. While scooping out the area, he missed the entrance of a familiar ginger and his frantic motions.
“Kenma! I haven’t seen you in like forever! ” He shouted at the boy, who still thought it was too early to be up.
“We literally saw each other, like, 12 hours ago.”
Hinata sunk even more into his sad act. “I know ! That’s like an eternity!” Then Kenma realized that Hinata was blocking his vision from everyone else and he got more paranoid than he liked to admit.
Low blow to drag Hinata as a pawn, Kuroo. Hinata was about to ask him what had made him more animated, but the Nekoma player beat him to it. “Where is he? What’d he bribe you with?”
Hinata’s head sagged to the side, eyes narrowing in on his friend with concern. “W-Who are we talking about? And what did they do to me?” Hinata raised the back of his hand to Kenma’s forehead, brushing back bangs.
Kenma flinched out of it almost instantly, which made his friend more alarmed. “Kuroo, obviously. He wasn’t there for me when I woke up this morning, so he’s planning a prank. You don’t have to tell me what it is, but could you give me warning to if I’m going to need to change my unifo-”
“Kuroo’s been with Tsukishima all morning? The two have been sort of inseparable… kinda giving me the chills, actually..” As if on cue, Hinata’s body shimmied around like the degree outside had significantly dropped.
“Wait, really? Uhm, where exactly are they?” He stepped to the side to look over the coast of players one more time.
The middle blocker turned around and after a moment, pointed to the corner of the eating area. Kenma was far away but he could see quite well, which added fire to the ‘Kenma’s a living cat’ propaganda his team produced. He wished in this instance that his vision wasn’t as clear.
Tsukishima and Kuroo were on top of a checkered blanket to protect them from the glass, which was still damp with morning dew. Tsukishima was laying next to Kuroo’s arm, the feline laughing so hard his head snapped back. After a moment, Kuroo’s hands rung around the other and started to tickle the blonde. Tsukishima collapsed onto Kuroo’s legs, looking up at him with a smile plastered across his face. Kenma had to turn away as soon as Tsukishima grabbed the collar of his friend’s shirt.
“Where are you going, Kenma? You haven’t even eaten anything yet?!”
Still refusing to turn around, the setter started to walk away. “Don’t really have an appetite anymore, plus forgot my phone in the dorms. I’ll see you later though.”
“But your phone’s in you back pocket-”
Blushing (not like Hinata was able to see), he tried to save his cover. “I, uh, meant my DS! Good luck with your game.”
Kenma turned the corner and slumped down just a tad against the worn bricks. He must have miseen what had happened… because they weren’t… they couldn’t. Kuroo would have told him,
Then he stood up suddenly, remembering last night with them bickering outside the room’s walls. He tried to shove the idea out as soon as it came, starting his treck to go… well, he didn’t know where exactly, he just knew where he wasn’t going anytime soon.
Some lousy prank, Tetsurō.
Tsukishima had pulled Kuroo in close to whisper into his accomplice’s ear. “Is he looking over here?” He didn’t dare see for himself, since he didn’t know what he’d do if they locked eyes.
Kuroo looked up and debated lying to the other, to calm his nerves and feel like they were making progress. Instead, he opted for the truth. “He looked up for a brief second, but now he's back to talking to Terushima.”
Kei scoffed then retracted his hand from the other. “Damnit.” When they had both arrived, they grabbed a blanket that was in storage and made their way to a clearing near some other Nekoma students. Terushima and his best friend had talked coincidentally at the same time, they weren’t close enough to hear what Kuroo and him talked about, but in the vicinity to hear laughs and uncontrollable giggles.
Tsukishima was hoping this would do the trick, but it didn’t appear that way at first glance.
Kuroo tried to cheer him up. “Hey, you didn’t expect this to be a shut-case after like, what, 45 minutes? It needs some time.”
“I suppose so”, he started, pushing himself back up and parting from his friend.
Truth be told, Tsukishima would wait however long to make sure his friend knew that the pierced boy was nothing but trouble.
When Hinata had said the two were practically smeared together with glue, he wasn’t kidding.
It took Yaku and Lev to literally tear their captain to their side of the court to talk strategies. Kenma stood next to Kuroo and for some reason he felt smaller than usual. Almost as if he was invisible, nonexistent.
He felt a punch on his side, and when he looked over it was Yamamoto who’d dealt the blow. “What do you have to say, Kenma?”
He looked all over to see everyone’s eyes and attention on him. He hated it more than usual. “Say about what?”
Rolling his eyes not so subtly, he added “about the game! Like parting encouraging words!”
“Oh. Um.” He thought the floor was quite interesting in that moment, head tilted down. “We know a lot of Karasuno tricks, so they might try to psych us out. Be alert and awake, that’s all.”
Then they all parted with a group cheer, getting into position. Kenma saw from the corner of his vision that Kuroo and Tsukishima were making banter through the holes of the net. And in his other corner, saw how Yamaguchi appeared to shrink down like Kenma had earlier. Misery loves company , as the expression goes.
The setter wasn’t shocked when halfway through the first set he was taken out. That’s what skipping breakfast will do to you, he thought.
He tried to focus on the game, but that soon proved impossible, seeing how Kuroo and Tsukishima’s glances looked domestic, yet lustful. So instead he looked anywhere else. That’s when his eyes landed on Karasuno’s pinch server.
He looked like he was going through some internal turmoil, but his face usually looked like that to him. His legs kept bouncing and hands kept fidgeting. His cheers were less passionate, and when time came to cheer or applauded his childhood friend, he seemed… almost hesitant. Each time he did cheer, but never looked in the middle blocker’s direction.
The boy was so entranced that he didn’t notice that Kuroo had decided to sit next to him on the bench. Well, not like he decided , to get switched out… but he didn’t sit on the very opposite of the metal log.
Kenma scooted a little closer, so close that the bleached flyways lightly brushed Kuroo’s neck. After a moment’s hesitation, Kenma took the leap and put all his weight against the other side, wrapping his arms around the others like a boa constrictor.
His friend laughed at him, but Kenma wasn’t sure what exactly. Then again, Kenma was looking rather pitiful, but childhood crushes usually did that to a person.
“Kenma, I know we make jokes about you actually being a cat… but doesn't this push it?”
Before he could respond, the whistle was blown and the game was ended. They had lost, but without Kenma there like usual the team was out of sorts. What’ll happen after I graduate?
They all said their pleasantries to the other team and were about to disperse to talk to officials or freshen up. Kenma’s objective was to speak to his friend and get his feeling off his chest, if not now then never.
He spotted him talking to their coach, the latter walking away after the conversation ceased. Kenma was about to grab the other’s sleeve for attention, hand already mid air. “Ku-“
Before he got the chance, his window of opportunity was swept from under him. Quite literally, the bratty blonde had come over and snatched up his friend, dragging him outside.
Dropping his hand down, he also dropped the last syllable. “...roo.” He took that as a sign that the verdict would be never.
Yamaguchi saw his friend dragging the other outside the gymnasium. His face and excitement dropped downward, trying hard to fake being happy with the rest of his team there.
He wasn’t sure what was going on. They were best friends. They knew everything about each other… or that’s what Tadashi liked to think. Now he wasn’t so sure.
That night, both bedrooms were chilled over. Each boy cemented in ice, both in movements and in dialect. Pauses were longer, words were shorter than usual, and awkward glances were more common than ever before.
Needless to say, none of the four got a good rest, if much of a rest at all.
Today had been something special, reworked to make sure that the Johzenji team had an adequate amount of teams to play. It was their school vs. Karasuno. Terushima vs. Tsukishima.
The game was going fine, nothing too out of the ordinary for both teams. There were a few moments here or there that caught everyone’s attention. Mainly between the two ‘Shima’s.
Tense glances and mumbled toxic worlds oozed from Tsukishima. Sly eyebrows and witty remarks sprung from Terushima.
At the end of the practice, after Johzenji had won, it took one more push to set the tumbling Kei over the edge.
Yamaguchi was standing next to him while he took a swig from his water bottle. Neither spoke, just in each other's presence like they’d been for years. Terushima stuck up behind Yamaguchi and lightly picked him up, feet and soft giggles flying everywhere.
Tsukishima continued to drink his water, but stared at the two. Terushima saw an opportunity to make the situation more fun.
“What’s wrong, Tsukishima? Mad that you’re losing?” He left Yamaguchi’s feet hit the ground, but still had his arms practically around the other’s waist.
The middle blocker put down his water bottle and with the back of his hand, scraped away the excess water. Staring back, he uttered, “What the fuck is that supposed to mean, Terushima?”
Yamaguchi was let go, instinctively running to his friend’s side, seeing his eyes becoming raw with anger and…. hurt? “Tsukki, I don’t think-“
“I think you know exactly what I mean.” Terushima replied, placing his weight into his left leg.
Tsukishima was getting dangerously close and Yamaguchi started to panic slightly more than before. “No, enlighten me.” His voice was raised and his knuckles turning snow white from the pressure his fists were making.
The only thing that was louder than his voice were his captains, who made it public that he wasn’t too pleased at the moment. “Karasuno! Meeting outside. Right now.”
Tadashi looked back and forth, waiting for someone to move, before Tsukki turned to follow the line of crows. Yamaguchi followed soon after.
They all placed themselves outside of the gym, sitting down like they were in a firing squad. And by the look of Daichi, that wouldn’t be out of the question.
Him and the other third years were still standing up, though Daichi clearly was the only with the most to say on the matter. “I am extremely disappointed in all of us. As captain of this team, I feel like a failure to not see the strains in the dynamic as of late.
“I’m not going to name names or point fingers, but since coming to camp, we haven’t been at our best. It’s frustrating to not only myself, but to our managers and staff, and I believe the majority of us, that we’ve been slacking.
“If there is any reason or voice of concern, know that your upperclassmen and coaches are here to help you. If anyone wants to add anything, feel free to speak to now or pull any of us aside later-“
“I have something I’d like to ask.” All eyes were trained on Tsukishima, the one least expected to talk in a team meeting. He wouldn’t look up, instead engrossed in his knee pads, which were close to his face due to his sitting position.
“Yes, Tsukishima?” Daichi said with both interest and worry.
“Are we allowed to switch dorm rooms? Because if so, I’d like to.”
Yamaguchi’s heart and back sank further. Had he just heard that right? He couldn’t have.
“I’ll ask Mr. Takeda.” Shifting his attention to the majority, he added “anyone else have anything?” And then after a moment of glares and silence, Daichi dismisses them. Tsukishima stayed behind to talk to Daichi, while Suga attempted to make Yamaguchi stay as well, but he was faster and left as soon as possible. He couldn’t stand to see Tsukki’s sad eyes or posture, knowing now that he was the reason.
Usually the end festivities were saved for well, the end of the training camp. Apparently at the new team’s old place, they used to have a celebration midway through to celebrate their accomplishments and keep going strong.
Johzenji luckily had enough s’mores materials for every team and then some. They had all decided to start the extravaganza around 9 pm, but Yamaguchi couldn’t bring his feet there until around 9:30.
When he finally arrived he saw a plethora of things going down. Bug spray being thrown all over the place, multiple grills being used as pseudo-fireplaces, Kuroo and Tsukishima snuggling under a shared blanket, Terushima waving him over.
Telling his feet to manually move over to the group, each step caused more anxiety for him. Not wanting to see his best friend so soon, but also being drawn to see how he was holding up.
Their wooden benches were in a triangle format, Bokuto and Akaashi on one, Kuroo and Tsukishima across from them, and across from him was Terushima, patting down on the log. Tadashi looked around to see where Kenma was, the missing piece of the usual five person group, but he wasn’t in a very lit or seen area for the pinch server to know his location.
He hesitated before plopping himself down, grabbing an extra stick and marshmallow to start making his snack. The flecked boy noticed how Akaashi was whipping daggers in Kuroo’s direction, though he didn’t seem to care or pay mind. What is with this group and anger issues??
Even though they were close to the lit grill in the middle of them, Yamaguchi shivered, only dressed in a thin long sleeve sweatshirt. Terushima could see the other struggling to keep warm.
Before Yamaguchi could even react his bench mate was reaching for the edge of his sweatshirt, slightly lifting it up. Which to his surprise, teased a belly button piercing?!?? How many piercings could he have!?-
The other boy had a much thicker long sleeve on, which slid back down to act as a veil to the newly discovered piercing. Reaching out with his hands, he offered Yamaguchi his freshly removed sweatshirt. He tried his best to refuse, but Terushima wouldn't budge.
“Nonsense. Here, I’ll even help you out.” Terushima put the fabric over the other, hands sliding up and down his body, fingertips pressing into his skin. Yamaguchi couldn’t contain his blush or supposed yelp.
He felt Tsukishima’s eyes on him, but he never looked over to meet the distance. Instead, he made his way to see Terushima and thank him. The other boy saying “it was no problem” and that “he looked adorable in his clothes.”
After that Yamaguchi didn’t shiver as much as before. He did occasionally when he and Terushima bumped legs or Terushima’s hand accidentally brushed his back while trying to grab the edge of the seat. Eventually, Yamaguchi managed to spot a disoriented Kenma talking to a frantic Hinata in the distance, wondering what that was all about.
Before long, some managers had come along with trays of premade s’mores for people who struggled to make them. One of those being Tadashi, so he and surprisingly Terushima, both thanked the girls and took one off the tray.
“What do you say to a toast?” Terushima asked, tilting his head only slightly. Yamaguchi strugged and they both clinked their s’mores, both laughing and regretting it since it made a marshmallowy mess.
Terushima as some point said how he was the master at pick up lines, and in a dumb turn of events Yamaguchi asked him to prove it. He wasn’t sure why exactly he did it, but with each new line made him feel both giddy in heart and guilty in gut.
All of them revolves around their current circumstance:
“ Are you a marshmallow? Since you’re both sweet and soft?”
“Could I call you a marshmallow, cracker, and chocolate sandwich? Because I love you s’more.”
“What do both you and the stars have in common? Both put on a great show in the dark.”
“You make me a very happy camper.”
Each one making Yamaguchi blush and chuckle more and more, to a point where both of them at one point couldn’t catch their breaths.
Kuroo looked to Tsukishima, who was fixated by the opposing bench. “Uh, Tsukishima, your marshmallow’s on fire. And uhmmm, your eyes are like scoldering too, you good?”
Tsukishima was in fact not good, far from it actually. And it wasn’t quite clear when he’d feel ‘good’ again.
Yamaguchi left later than Tsukishima had, having greeted him and Kuroo a goodbye when they both decided to leave. When he entered the dorm room once more there was no light.
Whispering an apology to his friend, he turned the light on, hoping to not startle him awake.
That wouldn’t be an issue, since Tsukishima wasn’t in his bed. He wasn’t in the room whatsoever. He had left a majority of his things here, but himself was long gone.
He’d overheard that he wasn’t allowed to switch rooms, since it was almost time to depart anyways. So this meant that he’d left as a sign of desperation to escape him then. He’s probably off with his new friend, Kuroo. Or are they more than friends? You’d certainly not know the answer to that.
Yamaguchi barely had enough time to kick off his shoes before running face first into the pillows. He clung one in between his legs and snakes his arms around.
His dumb brain imagined it was his best friend he was holding. Very funny Tadashi, considering it's your fault he’s gone in the first place. Must have gotten tired of your shit, I mean who wouldn’t though?!
Yamaguchi held tighter but couldn’t get his mind to stop racing about what he had done to hurt the person he cared about so much. After a few moments and scattered breaths, he couldn’t help but start crying. He tried to muffle it with the edge of the pillow, but the tears and sobs wouldn’t stop.
He’d eventually be drowned out with the sound and the effort it took to try and retain his volume, soon after drifting into sleep.
The walls were practically paper thin when you were right against them. So when Yamaguchi started to cry, he heard it and his heart ached alongside him.
He was thankful Noya let him sleep where Tanaka usually did for the night. The usual occupant of the bed having to visit Ennoshita’s room to discuss ‘personal matters’, whatever that meant. It didn’t matter, Noya was out fairly sooner than Tsukishima anticipated, leaving the room practically just to himself.
Tanaka’s bed was pressed right against the wall closest to Yamaguchi’s. Every stifle in breath, each sniffle, all of the kicks from under the covers, Tsukishima heard.
He wanted everything to march right over, or better yet pierce a hole in the wall, and comfort his best friend. But he couldn’t, knowing he was the cause for Yamaguchi’s suffering. All he could do for now was think about his next course of action, knowing that what was going on now wasn’t working the way he’d imagine.
In parallel, Tsukishima started to cry next to his friend, though his tears were silent. Somehow he’d make things better for the two of them, no matter if his heart got shattered in the process.
He held Yamaguchi’s happiness above all else… and if that meant losing him to Terushima, then he’d have to learn to live with that fact.