“We should have a pillow fight!”
“That’s the lamest suggestion ever.”
“Nishinoya-San, I didn’t realize you had the mind of an eight year old as well as the body as one.”
“Tsukishima, that was uncalled for.”
“You’re right, Sugawara-Senpai. We always knew he had the mind of an eight year old.”
“HEY, I’M YOUR SENPAI TOO! TAKE THIS, BEANPOLE!”
It was a humid June night. The sweltering summer air was finally beginning to cool with the steadily approaching dusk, blinking fireflies dotted the mountain landscape like raindrops on a window, and the Karasuno Monthly Sleepover was in full swing.
The idea of a sleepover had first been introduced at the end of one of the practices by Sugawara and eventually agreed upon by the whole team; reactions ranged from unbridled excitement among the likes of Hinata and Nishinoya to a reluctance those like Kageyama and Tsukishima possessed that went hand-in-hand with forced acceptance after a glowering look from their captain.
“It’ll be a good opportunity to strengthen our team bonds! The closer we become with each other off the court the better we’ll play on it.”
“Is that proven?” Tsukishima asked casually. “I’ve always heard the more distant from each other’s personal lives a team is, the better they play.”
“You don’t have to attend if you don’t want to, Tsukishima. None of you do. In fact, Daichi actually had another idea to build team bonds; we could run suicides until one of us drops.” Sugawara’s terrifying but pleasant smile was only amplified by Daichi’s frown as he stood right behind the vice captain with crossed arms.
“Tsukishima, why don’t you shut up for once!” Tanaka helpfully suggested with a cheerful grin.
“Yeah, which would you rather do, endless line drills or a fun sleepover?” Asahi plaintively asked.
“We can watch horror movies!”
“And stay up late-I mean, stay up to a perfectly reasonable time that doesn’t affect our athletic ability the next morning, please don’t hurt me, Daichi-San.”
“And pop popcorn!”
“And talk about girls!”
“And Kiyoko-San!” Tanaka and Nishinoya chorused.
“Doesn’t that sound great?” Hinata asked, an eager grin already plastered on his face at the thought of all the fun they would have.
“It sounds like either option will end in suicide.” Tsukishima insisted. It was a stance he felt quite firm on. He didn’t see the point of sleepovers, especially when they involved him having to go to someone else’s house. He liked his own bed with his own pillow and blankets, his own dinosaur plushie that no one ever had to know about and his own space that he wouldn’t have to share with anyone.
“Come on, Tsuki, don’t be like that!” Yamaguchi, secretly known to the rest of the team as the chink in the tall one’s armor, leaned over, placing an elbow on the crossed legs of his best friend. He gazed up at the blonde boy with such an earnest expression that Tsukishima would have blushed if he hadn’t established master control over all his bodily functions.
So much for his own space.
“This sleepover sounds like it’ll be lots of fun! You always have fun when I sleepover-”
“I bet he does.”
“Shut up, Kageyama.”
“-and this’ll be just like that. Plus you don’t want the whole team to hate you for making them run line drills, right?” His grin walked perfectly the line of pleading mischievousness and earnest helpfulness, Tsukishima almost wished he could hate him for it.
“I bet you can even bring along your stuffed dino, Mr. T-Rekt’d.”
“Yamaguchi said what-”
“I ca-I can’t breathe, I’m laug-laughing too-too hard.”
“Oh my gosh, that’s so cute, is Tsukishima-kun blushing ?”
So much for having master control over all bodily functions.
“Yamaguchi, I’m going to kill you.”
The Official Karasuno Sleepover, reminiscent of the time Sugawara announced it in the first place, was absolutely chaotic and involved various levels of bodily injury. Regardless, when they crushed their opponent in the next practice match, taking both sets with ease, the sleepover was deemed an overwhelming success. Eventually, a monthly pattern was established with attendance as mandatory as any practice. Houses switched from one teammate’s to the next with each one, sleeping bags and snacks were encouraged on a BYO basis and ordering pizza from that dingy Italian-American place became as tradition as the event itself. Prank-calling Coach Ukai’s shop was also a favorite pastime, and alcohol was strictly prohibited unless the sleepover was at Tanaka’s house.
(With Big Sister, all bets were off.)
That June revealed Hinata as the sleepover’s new host, an opportunity that coincided perfectly with the fact it was his birthday month as well. Thus the Karasuno’s team seventh official sleepover doubled as a birthday bash. Empty pizza boxes and dirty plates smeared with discarded cake frosting littered the Hinata’s living room table, with the volleyball team lounged around just as lazily.
Hinata had already opened all of his presents, becoming increasingly excitable with each one that was opened. Surrounded by his newfound wealth, Hinata was flying on cloud nine and nowhere close to going to bed, despite the general energy of the boys slowly becoming more and more muted.
“Guys, I’m not tired yet, can we please do something?”
“I’m telling you guys, now is the time for a pillow fight.”
“You almost broke Tsukishima’s glasses like five minutes ago when you hit him with a pillow.” Ennoshita pointed out.
“Because he insulted me. The price of that is instant blindness.”
“We still have a game tomorrow, you guys. If we stay up too late and Daichi finds out, we’re all going to pay for it.”
“Stop being a wimp, Asahi-”
“-The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“Fear itself can be described as that look that Daichi-San gets in his eyes when he’s about to yell at us.”
“Touche, Yamaguchi, touche.”
“Everyone, shut up!” Tanaka jumped up from where he was hanging upside down off the couch and landed in the middle of where they were all sitting, narrowly missing the glass coffee table. “I know exactly what we should do.”
“And what’s that?”
“Play truth or dare.”
They all turned to look at the unofficial leader and official adult of the sleepover, who hardly bothered to look up.
“What about never have I ever?”
Another moment of bated breath.
A chorus of excited cheers rang out from most of them. Well, definitely from Hinata, Nishinoya and Tanaka, but they were loud enough that it sounded like the whole team. Reluctantly or not, the rest of them gathered in a circle, holding up five fingers.
As birthday boy, Hinata was nominated to go first.
Not even bothering to contain his pointed smirk, he started it out with a casual, “Never have I ever played in a middle school game where I was setter and I tossed up an insane pass to my teammates and they abandoned me on the court.”
“HINATA!” Several people cried in unison.
“Good one.” Tsukishima complimented.
It was hard for the rest of the team to contain their laughter, and even harder for Kageyama to resist the urge to strangle him. He settled with pulling a Nishinoya, minus the pillow, and slapping the boy upside the head.
“You still have to put a finger down.”
Growling, Kageyama bent a finger down with as much strain as if he had injured it in a game.
“I’m getting you back for that.”
Unperturbed by the threat and grinning with self-satisfaction, Hinata turned to the left of him. “You’re up next, Nishinoya-San!”
Pausing only to turn and make direct eye contact with the boy positioned next to him, Nishinoya continued the game with, “Never have I ever had a stuffed dinosaur named Mr. T-Rekt’d.”
Not missing a beat, Tsukishima grabbed a conveniently placed pillow and hit Nishinoya so hard he fell over backwards. With the same pillow, he swung it the other way, nailing Yamaguchi, who was attempting to hide his stifled laughter, directly in the face.
“Ow.” The wounded boys complained.
“I believe that’s a finger down for one of us.” Nishinoya commented from the floor. “I’m not going to name any names, but let’s just say his first name rhymes with gay- Oof. ”
Sugawara, actively avoiding looking in front of him where Tsukishima-Kei was committing fluffy murder, shook his head at the rest of them. “Children, that is not the way you’re supposed to play the game.”
“Yeah!” Asahi chimed in, still holding five fingers up. “It’s supposed to be vague, not pointed. That way more than one person can put their fingers down.”
“And whoever puts all his fingers down first has to take a shot!”
“Tanaka, yes.” Nishinoya yelled out from underneath the pillow he was getting smothered by.
“Oh, vague like this?” Tsukishima finally relented his hold on the murder weapon, only to then deliver the killing blow with his words. “Never have I ever continually obsessed over a fellow student despite the fact that she barely acknowledges my presence.”
Immediately, Nishinoya and Tanaka both put a finger down, though with a much gloomier expression than before.
“Ah, look at that, two for one.” Tsukishima gave what might have been his first genuine smile for the evening, if it weren’t so scary.
“Uh no…No, not vague like that at all.” Asahi scratched the side of his head, unsure how to proceed.
Ennoshita shook his head sadly. “I can’t believe we just became eye witnesses to third degree murder.”
“Well-” Tanaka began.
“Please don’t.” Asahi begged.
“Well at least they can be upfront and honest about their feelings for her.” Kageyama, who had been silent since the first round, pointed out.
“I can’t believe we just became eye witnesses to first degree-”
“Not helping, Ennoshita.”
Tsukishima rolled his eyes, “Oh, like you’re one to talk, King.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Kageyama demanded.
“Okay, okay! Calm down, everyone, you’re all so dramatic!” Yamaguchi, ever the peacekeeper, stood up and placed himself between Tsukishima and Kageyama, holding up a hand in front of both their faces until they settled down.
“Let’s bring it down before you two ruin the game for everyone. How about a nice and easy one?” He asked, keeping one hand held out.
“Never have I ever been kissed.” Yamaguchi sheepishly proclaimed, keeping his palm intact.
Then all hell broke loose.
Kageyama, four fingers up, was staring absolutely aghast at Hinata, who held a proud finger down.
“WHAT? You’ve had your first kiss already?”
“Hm? What’s that?” Hinata wasn’t cool enough to keep the massive shit-eating grin off his face. “Haven’t you? Hasn’t everyone?”
“TANAKA, YOU’VE BETRAYED ME!”
“NISHINOYA, YOU’VE BETRAYED ME!”
Both boys were standing up now, pointing to each other with one hand and holding up a measly three fingers up with the other.
“Who did you kiss?!”
“One of my sister’s friends during a party she had last summer. Who did YOU kiss?”
“SUGAWARA-SAN BET ME-”
Ennoshita and Sugawara were standing on either side of Asahi, talking loudly and animatedly as if he weren’t even there.
“Well, no surprise there, Suga-San.” Ennoshita remarked as Sugawara slyly put a finger down. “Who could resist that mug?”
“Right back at ya, you handsome devil you, I see that finger going down.”
“Now Asahi, on the other hand-”
“Frankly, I’m shocked.”
“Guys…” Asahi pleaded.
“And here I thought you were saving yourself for Jesus!” Sugawara shook his head.
“It’s not like that!” He insisted.
“Sure, it’s not. What would the rest of the team say if they found out our beloved ace, so full of morals and values, is actually a dirty-”
“STOP!” Asahi buried his face in his hands as the two above him laughed with malicious glee.
“It was only because she wanted to see what it was like and asked so nicely…”
Asahi uncovered his eyes, only to meet Sugawara’s mischievous grin. “You’re the one that bet him that he couldn’t convince me to kiss him…” With a groan, he covered his eyes again, “He asked nicely too!”
Tsukishima looked around the room. Kageyama was motionlessly staring at the wall, overcome with the shocking defeat of losing the battle of first kiss to Hinata of all people. Ennoshita and Sugawara were taking turns asking Asahi romance questions that seemed mild, but were apparently enough to make him blush beet red. Nishinoya and Tanaka were hugging, muttering to each other how they were each the coolest people the other had ever met.
Nobody had noticed, or seemed to care, when Tsukishima unceremoniously put a finger down. Except for Yamaguchi of course, who both noticed and cared, and appeared noticably downcast as soon as he witnessed it.
“You never told me you’ve kissed someone.” He quietly whined, refusing to meet Tsukishima’s eyes.
Tsukishima shrugged, “I didn’t think it was a big deal so I never mentioned it.”
In actuality, he didn’t think that drunken kisses from a great aunt with poor hand eye coordination counted, but he’d walk through hell and back twice before admitting that Hinata had gotten his first kiss before him.
“Well, it’s a big deal to me.” He insisted quietly. “It looks like I’m the only one that’s never been kissed before. That’s so embarrassing…”
“Well, not the only one. Even the great king hasn’t been kissed before, although that’s not totally surprising. Seriously Yams, it’s not as big a deal as you think it is. Nobody even cares.”
“That’s because everyone else has gotten kissed!” He lamented. “Kageyama doesn’t count because he’s only focused on volleyball and Hinata. If he actually tried, he could probably get a kiss from whomever he wanted.”
Tsukishima tried not to deny the accuracy of that statement.
“That could be true…” He mused, “But you’re the same way.”
Yamaguchi’s expression darkened even more, unsure if Tsukishima was mocking him.
“Uh, no I'm not. Objectively I am not.”
“What do you mean why not? Probably because I don’t look like I could grace the cover of Volleyball Hotties Weekly. ”
Tsukishima wrinkled his nose, asking “You think he’s a hottie?” and receiving a whack in the stomach because of it.
“You know what I mean.”
“I really don’t. If anyone’s going to be on the cover of Volleyball Hotties Weekly it’s gonna be-”
“You don’t have to feel bad, Kageyama!” Hinata was speaking extraordinarily loud, interrupting the others' conversations. They turned to see Hinata stroking Kageyama on the back as if comforting a wounded animal. “It’s only natural, I technically am your senpai.”
Kageyama whipped his head up. “Sugawara-Senpai and Ennoshita-Senpai. Permission to kill?”
Sugawara nodded sagely, “Granted.”
Ennoshita smiled in sympathy. “Denied. We have to have a full team tomorrow. You kill Hinata and Daichi kills us.”
“But Hinata is right about one thing, you don’t have to feel bad about it. You either, Yamaguchi.”
Yamaguchi leaned in and whispered to Tsukishima, “Ennoshita-Senpai is more observant than I realized.”
“He’s used to watching things from the sideline.” He whispered back.
Another hit to the stomach. “Tsuki!”
“Plenty of people haven't had their kiss, even starting college,” Their senpai continued, “It's not something to be embarrassed about. Everything happens in it's due time.”
Kageyama let out a shuddering breath of horror. “But before Hinata…”
After that series of very loud incidents, both the game and the sleepover began to wind down. Many of the players started to settle into their sleeping bags, lined up side by side in Hinata’s room like packed sardines in a can. The open windows let a heavy humidity in, only amplified by having so many bodies next to each other.
"Why don't we spread our sleeping bags out and stack them on top of each other, Tsuki? It'll be cooler and softer this way, since it's warm enough that we won't need blankets."
Although just minutes earlier Tsukishima had been rolling his eyes at Hinata and Kageyama sleeping in the same bed, the king conveniently having left his sleeping bag at home, he was warming up at the idea of sleeping so openly next to Yamaguchi in front of everyone else.
As the lights were turned off, however, and everyone finally, finally quieted, Tsukishima was able to lay his head against Yamaguchi's arm and think that maybe he didn't need his own pillow and blanket and bed. Maybe these sleepovers weren't so bad.
These sleepovers are the absolute worst, was Tsukishima's first coherent thought as a too bright light shined in his eyes.
"Tsuki! Yams! Get up." He recognized the voice of Nishinoya and, despite still having his eyes closed, managed to roll them.
"If you don't have a good reason for waking me up, I will end your familial bloodline." Tsukishima growled, his voice husky with sleep. "And don't call me that."
"Man, do not wake up Tsukishima-Kei when he's sleeping."
"What time is it?" Yamaguchi asked, in a voice so sleepily quiet that Tsukishima was ready to commit another murder towards the person that dared to wake them up.
"It's 3:39 in the morning, but that doesn't matter right now "
"You too, Tanaka-Senpai?"
"What matters is that there's a very high chance Kageyama and Hinata are making out in the bathroom and we're going to burst in on them."
Tsukishima groaned. "Where's Sugawara-Senpai. He'll put an end to this stupidity."
"He's waiting for us by the door with the video camera."
"Sorry, Tsukishima. Before sunrise, I'm no longer the adult. Ennoshita is."
Nishinoya grinned, "That's why we left him asleep."
Tsukishima looked to the side of him, where Yamaguchi was rubbing his eyes and yawning. He made eye contact with the blonde boy next to him and attempted to smile through a yawn.
"Well, we're up anyway, right?"
As Tsukishima reluctantly dragged himself off the sleeping bag, he glanced at the bed in the corner of the room. Sure enough, it was empty, and Thing One and Thing Two were nowhere to be seen.
"So what if they are kissing? If it's not going to get me my sleep back then I don't care."
"Tsukishima, this is the juiciest thing to happen since Suga gave Asahi pot brownies-"
"It was one time!"
"-Don't ruin this for us."
Despite his complaining, there was a part of Tsukishima that was genuinely curious about the situation. There's no way the pair would actually be dumb enough to be making out in the bathroom during a team sleepover, right?
Phone in hand and already recording, Sugawara, followed by four inquisitive teammates, quietly made their way to the bathroom door, crouching down in front of it. Tanaka put his ear up to the door, eyes widening so comically that despite himself, Tsukishima had to join in listening.
There were a lot of rustling sounds coming from the other side, accompanied by hushed whispers and...other noises.
Tsukishima jerked away from the door, only to be eagerly replaced by Yamaguchi, who immediately bloomed red.
"Ready?" Nishinoya mouthed wordlessly. "After three. One, two, three!"
On three and not after three, Nishinoya grabbed the handle and thrust the door forward, the idiots not even having bothered to lock it.
There were gasps and shocked exclamations all around, and even a squeak of surprise that Tsukishima was sure came from Yamaguchi, although he vehemently denied it afterwards.
Hinata was, to put it quite simply, straddling Kageyama, who was sitting down, leaning against the side of the bathtub. As the door opened and they all burst in with a loud noise, Hinata didn't even bother to...dismantle. Instead, he threw his head back, viewing them all upside down with a casual smile, as if they had been caught practicing tosses.
"HINATA! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Sugawara demanded, pushing the camera into Tanaka's chest and obviously relinquishing his non-parental role.
Hinata beamed. "I'm being a good senpai and teaching Kageyama how to kiss! We moved to the bathroom so that no one would hear us."
A stunned silence filled the room.
"I knew you were crafty, Kageyama, but this is just devious." Tsukishima sniped, though his harsh words were negated by the fact that he was pointedly avoiding eye contact.
"It was...Hinata's idea." Kageyama breathlessly remarked, causing more than one bystander to raise an eyebrow.
Nishinoya frowned. "Somehow I thought this was going to be more entertaining."
"Do you call Hinata Senpai?" Tanaka asked mischievously, but Kageyama still hadn't recovered, staring wonderingly at Hinata even though the redhead's gaze was still fixed on their teammates.
Tsukishima dared to spare a glance and immediately regretted it. The darker haired boy was panting slightly through parted lips, his face flushed bright pink. Worst of all was his expression, something teetering the line of want and adoration.
It was disgusting, even more so when Tsukishima realized he had probably worn the same look on more than one occasion.
"I'll call him anything he wants me to." Kageyama commented softly, his usual blustery attitude and ultra-competitiveness broken down for the moment. The boy was completely whipped.
Tanaka joined Nishinoya in his frown, turning the camera off. "Well that was disappointing. Looks like we'll have to go back to lacing brownies for Asahi."
"I told you guys that was a one time thing." Sugawara called out after them as they exited the bathroom, “I'm not done with you two." He remarked, pointing to the ones still lounging against the tub, “But I also have no idea what to say.”
Their senpai groaned, rubbing his head in exasperation. "I'm going to bed. Just...Use protection?" He cautioned, though it came out sounding more like a question.
"Goodnight, Sugawara-Senpai!" Hinata waved at the retreating figure who tiredly lifted a hand back.
"Yeah, yeah…" He muttered to himself, "No one mention this to Daichi."
That left only Tsukishima and Yamaguchi in the bathroom, the former who desperately wanted to exit, and the latter who hadn't stopped staring at the scene in front of him, as if it were magic itself.
"Uh, anything else we can do for you, Yamaguchi?"
"Ah, what! No!" Yamaguchi's face was somehow able to redden even more. "Just...why?"
"Well, Kageyama was upset that he hadn't had his first kiss yet," Hinata responded as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "And he was worried he'd mess it up when the time came. So I volunteered to be his practice buddy so that he knows what to do.""
Idiot." Tsukishima remarked at the same time Yamaguchi replied, "Genius!", which caused both of them to stare at each other in confusion.
"This way when his first kiss comes, he won't have to worry about screwing it up."
With that Hinata ruffled Kageyama's hair. And wasn't instantly attacked, somehow. Instead, the dark-haired boy smiled.
If only Hinata could get Kageyama to act this way during practice, Tsukishima could have a field day.
"Well, we're going to leave now."
Tsukishima grabbed Yamaguchi's arm, pulling him from the bathroom and back into the bedroom. Tanaka and Nishinoya were whispering together underneath their sleeping bags, and Sugawara, positioned with his head face down in a pillow, looked like he was trying to purge the memory from his brain.
The two settled back on top of the sleeping bags, keeping a healthy distance between them this time, a distance Tsukishima was actively aware of.
They were asleep before Hinata and Kageyama returned to the room.
It was a beautiful morning that followed the events of the night, although Tsukishima was loath to focus on the shining sun and chirping birds as he and the rest of the team began the trek to the gym for their morning practice game.
He was tired, mourning the lost minutes of sleep last night and making a pointed effort to focus only on the stolen sleep and not the reason why they were stolen.
As was the usual case, Yamaguchi and Tsukishima instinctively lagged behind the rest of the team. Unusual, however, was the silence currently existing between them. Around this time, Yamaguchi should have been recounting his favorite moments of the night with overdone exuberance, complete with waving hand motions that would put even Hinata Shoyo to shame.
Instead, the boy walking next to him remained pensive and quiet. He seemed to be thinking hard about something; twice Tsukishima had to move him out of the way of a telephone pole.
“The next time that happens, I’m just going to let you hit it.” Tsukishima remarked dryly.
“Uh, what?” Yamaguchi asked, snapping his head up and out of his reverie. “Oh, sorry, Tsuki! I promise I’ll pay attention now.”
“What’s got you so distracted?”
It was easy to tell when Yamaguchi blushed; the pinkish tones of his cheeks defined the constellations of freckles splattered across his face, darkening them. The rays of sunshine beaming down only helped to illuminate the flush of color. Embarrassed though he was, it wasn’t like Yamaguchi to hide things from Tsukishima, and vice versa, so without hesitation he gave an honest answer.
“I was thinking about last night. I can’t get it out of my head.”
“Not like that, Kei! Listen, last night there were only two people from the whole team who hadn’t been kissed, me and Kageyama. By the morning, it was just me. That’s so...humiliating.”
“It is! You don’t know what it’s like, it’s not something you have to worry about. Anytime someone approaches me in that way, it’s because they want to see whether I can give them your number.”
A part of Tsukishima didn’t want to look, but of course he did anyway.
The blush was fading from Yamaguchi’s cheeks; his eyes were cast downwards, his expression disconsolate.
“It’s not the same.” Yamaguchi insisted. “No one wants to kiss me.” He continued before Tsukishima could protest and probably out himself in the same go.
“I wish I had what they had.” Tsukishima followed Yamaguchi’s pointed finger up ahead to where Kageyama and Hinata lead the pack. They were holding on to each other’s hands like a lifeline, Hinata skipping along happily and chattering mindlessly, as per usual.
“Hinata didn’t even think twice about helping Kageyama practice his kissing, and now he’s gotten his first kiss and knows what to do when it’s the real deal. It’s like a win-win situation.”
Tsukishima glanced at Yamaguchi covertly from the corner of his eye. Was he joking? Or was Yamaguchi just that blinded by his desire to have his first kiss?
“It’s like the perfect friendship.”
Resisting the urge to shake first his head and then Yamaguchi very violently - Obviously after what happened last night, they’re more than friends! -, Tsukishima opened his mouth to reveal the apparent when an idea sparked. He closed it for a moment, considering what would be the best course of action. And then, despite himself, he grinned.
“Oh, sorry again, Tsuki. I know you don’t wanna talk about this stuff.”
“No, I don’t mind. Actually, I was thinking about it and you know what? You’re right.”
“You are. It’s embarrassing not to have a first kiss, yet. I mean, we’re already in highschool.”
Both confusion and indignation flooded Yamaguchi’s face. “Tsuki!”
“What? I’m just agreeing with what you said. It is embarrassing. And what will happen when it is time for your first kiss? You won’t even know what to do.”
Yamaguchi covered his face with his hands in embarrassment, the color of self-consciousness returning. “I knew it! Oh my gosh, what am I gonna-Oh! I know! Why don’t we practice?”
Tsukishima’s neutral expression struggled to remain as Yamaguchi threw down his hands, folding them together and beseechingly imploring, “Please, Tsuki! It won’t be a big deal to you since you’ve already had your first kiss. That means you can teach me what to do too! We can practice just like Hinata and Kageyama did!”
A mental image of Yamaguchi straddling Tsukishima in the hallway bathroom of his parents’ home flashed through his mind, causing him to choke on his own spit. He stopped walking, bending over as surprised coughs racked his body.
“Tsuki! Are you okay? What happened?” With Tsukishima still coughing, Yamaguchi jumped to his own explanation.
“Oh, sorry, I guess that must have been a surprising idea. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, of course. You wouldn’t really get much out of it anyway…”
He trailed off, refusing to make eye contact with the recovering boy.
“No.” Tsukishima gasped, when he was able to breathe again. “No, it’s okay. I was um-surprised, as you said, but I’m willing to do it. For you. To help you. It’s not a big deal.”
Conveniently he left out the fact that this had been his plan all along. He just didn’t realize how easy it would be to get Yamaguchi to jump on it.
His mind flashed again to last night, except this time to when he had called Kageyama devious. Tsukishima grimaced. Now who was the devious one, taking advantage of his more naïve and inexperienced friend?
“But you have to be absolutely sure about this, Yamaguchi. I don’t want to...take advantage of you, or whatever. It would technically be your first kiss.”
“Of course I’m sure about this. How would you be taking advantage of me? I want to do this!” Tsukishima tried not to re-imagine those words as, I want to kiss you.
“And I don’t mind that you’re my first kiss. I wish I could have been your first kiss too, so that’s it's even. But you’re not so bad, as far as first kisses go.”
Yamaguchi beamed, and now it was Tsukishima’s turn to blush.
“When do you want to do it? Now?”
Kei almost choked on nothing again.
“No! I mean, no. Not now. We’re outside and we have half the team in front of us…” Tsukishima trailed off as he looked around and realized they had been left behind.
“Tsuki! We gotta go or else we’re gonna miss warm-up!”
Yamaguchi grabbed his hand and started towing him forward, as fast as he was able to weighed down with Tsukishima’s gangly body and unmotivated attitude.
He looked back at Tsukishima with a smile as warm as the rays of sun creating the wreath of light framing his hair.
“We’ll kiss afterwards, okay, Tsuki? Now hurry up, or we’ll be late!”
Tsukishima had never run so fast in his life.
The kissing practice did not happen after the practice game. It happened a couple of days later, as Tsukishima had pointed out that kissing while sweaty and tired would be the wrong type of memorable.
Ironically enough, it did happen during a sleepover, but a private one this time, with just the two of them snuggled up in Tsukishima’s house.
Tsukishima, with a kissing experience as extensive as Yamaguchi’s own, had made sure he was fully prepared to get the job done. He had read several WikiHow articles and watched an even greater amount of youtube videos. The room temperature was set to a balmy 70 degrees, the lights dimmed, his lips soft with strawberry chapstick and most importantly, Mr. T-Rekt’d was safely stored away, so as not to ruin the mood.
Everything was perfect.
Aside from the fact that he still technically didn’t know how to kiss.
“So...How do we do this? What do I do with my arms? When do I close my eyes? When do I open them? What does my tongue do while-”
“Yams, Yams, one thing at a time. Please.”
“Oh, sorry, Tsuki! But don’t be afraid to instruct me, okay? That’s the whole point of this.”
“I won’t. I’m not.”
Tsukishima was flustered, and Yamaguchi being ever the eager and willing student was decidedly not helping.
“Okay, so, you start off by sitting next to each other, like we are. Or standing, you don’t have to be sitting. You could be sitting or standing-”
“I think I have that part down, Kei” Yamaguchi laughed, gesturing to how they were both sitting cross-legged mere inches away from each other.
“Right. Just making sure. Then-Well, then you lean in.”
“Like this?” He asked quietly.
Tsukishima swallowed nervously, cursing his voice as it wavered with the next sentence.
“Yes. Just like that.”
They were practically whispering now.
“Tilt your head to one side. Good. Keep your lips parted. And then, just close the gap.”
Their lips met. The kiss was chaste; sweet but swift, as Yamaguchi immediately pulled away, his hands flying to cover his mouth.
Tsukishima cocked his head, staring at the boy in front of him, unsure of whether the expression on his face was good or bad.
“Usually you don't bolt away right afterwards, but yeah, that’s it, basically. How to kiss. Did you like it?”
When Yamaguchi met Tsukishima’s gaze, his eyes were sparkling.
“Yes! My stomach feels like there’s fluttering inside...Like butterflies.”
Suddenly, he leaned forward again, fervent. “Can we practice more?”
“S-Sure. If you want, I don’t mind.”
“You never answered my question though.”
“What do I do with my tongue?”
In the name of diligent rehearsal, the boys continued to practice, learning through trial and error where to put their hands and what to do with their tongues, and all the little nuances of kissing knowledge that had so circumvented them before. Tsukishima believed that if this was the best he was going to get, it was pretty good so far.
It felt easy kissing Yamaguchi. More than that, it felt natural. Just like how it always felt hanging out with each other. After a couple of sessions, the kissing didn’t even feel like practice anymore, at least not to him. He realized it was something he wanted to keep doing.
A part of him, the dramatic, emotional part he preferred to keep under lock and key, felt like he would do anything to stay in this lucky situation he had found himself in.
Jesus, now I know how Kageyama felt. That’s disgusting.
Try though he did, Tsukishima couldn’t even deny it. As the days of practice flew by, his thoughts became more and more Yams-centric. Idly, he would think about doing things with Yamaguchi other than kissing, like holding hands, or going on dates or...other things. Boyfriend things. He thought it’d be like being the best friends they had been since middle school but with better perks and long time benefits.
Even the rest of the team commented on the subtle changes in Tsukishima’s personality, Tanaka bluntly asking if he had been abducted and replaced with a "slightly happier, slightly less aggravating version of himself”.
His thoughts were following a similar train of thought when on one sweltering afternoon, he found Yamaguchi kissing someone in the empty schoolyard.
It was a girl he was kissing. She was short, ample - he could have described her as compact if he wanted to be mean. It was a considerable effort to not be mean.
He continued to stare in shock. Tsukishima was positive that he had seen her before in class. Multiple times she had come up to the pair to talk to them-No, to talk to Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi always seemed pleased to talk to her, though of course, he was pleased to talk to most people. Still, this made sense then.
The two noticed Tsukishima only when they pulled away from each other.
“Tsukishima-San.” The girl bowed, first at him and then at Yamaguchi, before taking her leave. He caught her gaze as she passed, ignoring her flushed cheeks. She had dark brown hair and light blue eyes. Everything that seemed to be the opposite of Tsukishima Kei.
“Tsuki, what are you doing here?”
For the first time in forever, Tsukishima wasn’t having trouble controlling his outward emotions. He felt perfectly calm and composed. It was easy to ignore the ravaging pain in his stomach, a reminiscent feeling of when he discovered Akiteru’s secret.
Somehow this felt more raw.
“We made plans to go to my house first and then head over to Nishinoya-Senpai’s for the sleepover tonight. I was looking for you. You must have forgotten.”
“I didn’t forget, I swear! I just lost track of the time.”
“Mm. You did seem preoccupied.”
Yamaguchi scratched the back of his head sheepishly. “Yeah, about that-”
“Are you ready to go now?”
“Uh, uh, yeah. I just have to grab my bag.”
“Perfect. Let’s go.”
But Tsukishima was already walking away.
The walk to the house was quiet in a way it hadn’t been since the sleepover. Every time Yamaguchi tried to talk to him about something or bring up an interesting new topic, the responses reciprocated were so short and minimal he ended up dropping the subject halfway through.
Yamaguchi even suggested getting some practice in before they headed over to the sleepover, but the only thing he received was a dry, “You seemed to have gotten plenty of practice in already today.”
Yamaguchi stayed quiet after that.
This was the first Karasuno sleepover where Yamaguchi and Tsukishima weren’t attached at the hip.
Instead, Tsukishima played card games with Tanaka, despite his opponent whipping off his shirt every time he won a round of goldfish. He timed how fast it took Nishinoya to eat an entire frozen sweet potato pie, watching with morbid fascination and curious disgust. He rejected Hinata’s offer to make friendship bracelets, and even had a brief conversation with Kageyama about Ryujin Nippon’s most recent game.
As the night continued, he found himself having to continually pretend not to notice Yamaguchi’s anxious glances in his direction. This would be better for them anyway, Tsukishima reasoned to himself, he had gotten far too comfortable with this ridiculous fantasy he had allowed to build up.
It might have been kissing for Tsukishima, but it was nothing more than convenience for Yamaguchi. It wasn’t his fault that Tsukishima had projected his own feelings onto him for what was supposed to have been nothing more than educational.
He tried to keep that in mind when he encountered Yamaguchi in the bathroom during the middle of the night.
The rest of the team was fast asleep, and he had just assumed Yamaguchi was no exception, though since they weren’t sleeping next to each other this time, he hadn’t been able to check.
“What are you doing? It’s like three a.m. You’re aware we still have a game tomorrow, right?”
“My stomach hurts.”
He didn’t look like he was lying; he was sitting on the toilet cradling his abdomen.
“How about you?”
Tsukishima pointed to the same toilet he was using as a seat. “I had to use the bathroom.”
“Oh, right. Makes sense. I’ll let you use the bathroom then.”
There was an awkward moment of silence - When was the last time things had ever been awkward between them? - as they shuffled by each other.
“You should drink some ginger ale. And uh-saltine crackers, if you can find any. That always settles my stomach.”
“Thanks, Tsuki.” Yamaguchi smiled and for a moment everything was right with the world.
And then the silence felt awkward again.
“Uh, I still have to use the bathroom-”
“Tsuki, I have to tell you something.”
Oh God. I bet he realized kissing practice isn’t something friends do.
“I-Why are you wincing?”
“Before you say that, Yamaguchi, I have something to say first.”
“Kind of stealing my spotlight here, but okay.”
Tsukishima cracked a smile despite himself, but his expression darkened all the same. “Seriously, Yams. I don’t know how to say this but when we ‘practiced’-That’s not something normal friends do. Not that we’re not normal friends-”
Kei had never felt more at a loss of words in his life. As much as it pained him, he wanted to go back to the way it always was between them, easy and natural and not whatever this drama was.
“Kageyama and Hinata are boyfriends!” He blurted out.
“They’re not best friends. Or, I guess they are that too, I don’t care. I mean, they’re dating. They’re not practicing with each other.”
A moment passed.
"Oh. That makes sense.” Yamaguchi laughed as Tsukishima stared at him. “That really does make sense. At a certain point, you can only practice kissing with someone for so long before it becomes weird…”
He trailed off as he realized what he had just said.
“Yeah. One more thing.”
“You were my first kiss. I lied at the last sleepover. I hadn’t actually kissed someone. Not in that way.”
“Is that all?”
“What do you mean is that all? I lied to you. That’s the whole reason you wanted to practice in the first place, because you thought I knew something about it.”
“Yeah, but we found out pretty quickly you didn’t know what to do with your tongue either.”
“You did not just say that-”
“I’m kidding! Kind of, but anyway that’s okay, Tsuki, really. I-I’m glad I was your first kiss too. I told you I wanted it to be even.”
“Huh, okay then. I guess it worked out.”
Tsukishima tried to plaster a good-natured smile on his face, a Hinata-esque grin. “I guess it’s a good thing we got in all that practice before your first girlfriend, huh?”
Yamaguchi’s brow furrowed, “Girlfriend? How do you mean?”
“That girl in the schoolyard, you don’t have to pretend with me, Yams.”
“I’m not pretending, and Tsuki, please stop smiling like that, you’re scaring me.”
The facade dropped.
“There we go, that's the Tsuki I know. Listen, that girl that you saw isn’t my girlfriend. She just uh-she wanted to practice.” Yamaguchi’s eyes cast to the ground, as if he couldn’t make eye contact with Tsukishima.
“She said that I seemed like a nice guy, and she wanted to practice kissing with me. She didn’t think I had a lot of experience either, which is embarrassing enough, but it was supposed to be like...quid pro quo.”
Tsukishima’s gaze continued to stay focused on his face, unrelenting.
“Well, why did you say yes? You do have experience already.” He resisted the urge to add on, And a practice partner!
Yamaguchi shrugged as if he didn’t have an answer.
“I wanted to see if it was different. And it was.”
Tsukishima’s eyes narrowed with suspicion. “Different how?”
“The feeling was different. I know our practice was supposed to be just that: practice. But I realized a couple days ago that it was more than that for me. I'm sorry." He still refused to meet Tsukishima's eyes.
"You still haven't answered my question. How was it different?"
"Tell me how it was different."
"Like I said, it didn't feel the same! When we practiced with each other, it was like this feeling in my stomach that was hopeful and scared all at once. And-And I wanted more. With her, it just felt like, well it just felt like practice. But with us it felt like-"
Tsukishima surged towards Yamaguchi, closing the space between them as the latter's words faltered. Finally, eye contact was made, broken only as Tsukishima bridged the gap once more.
There was nothing chaste about this kiss, and when they broke away, both boys were panting slightly.
Tsukishima licked saliva that wasn't his off his lips.
"Felt like that?"
Yamaguchi released a breath that sounded more like a wistful sigh.
"Yeah, just like that."
At that moment, half the Karasuno men’s volleyball team burst through the bathroom door.
“AHA, GOTCHA-Oh, they’re not kissing.” Hinata’s gleeful face turned to one of disappointment.
“Boke, we should have gone in when I said to.” Looked like Kageyama was back to his normal self then.
“If we did that, then we would have interrupted Yamaguchi’s confession.”
“Is it just me, or are the first years super horny recently?”
“I meeeeeaaaaan -”
“I knew we should have left Ennoshita asleep.”
“Or maybe you should stop waking up people to bust into bathrooms, Nishinoya.”
Hinata leaped forward, grabbing onto Yamaguchi’s arm while Tsukishima tried not to grimace at both the interruption and the conversations that it prompted.
“I’m so glad you and Tsukishima are finally together! Now we can dish about our boyfriends. Oh! Let’s make friendship bracelets!” Before Tsukishima could protest, Yamaguchi was pulled out of the room.
Without meaning to, he caught Kageyama’s eye, who gave him an approving nod, as if he understood everything that had just went on.
Tsukishima rolled his eyes and pushed his way into the hall, “This doesn’t mean I like you, King.”
“Someone’s not getting a friendship bracelet.”
It wasn’t until well after the monthly Karasuno official sleepover, and the following morning game on top of that, that Tsukishima and Yamaguchi were able to find some time to themselves.
Once more they found themselves sitting together on Tsukishima’s bed, heads still glistening from the shower just taken. There was no awkward pauses or uncomfortable silence as they held hands.
It was easy and natural.
“Wanna get some practice in?”
Yamaguchi didn’t see Tsukishima’s wolfish grin until the blonde boy flipped him onto his back and leaned over him.
“Oh, I think practice time is over.”