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Click Your Tongue, Then Your Heels

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Going deeper into the forest is, intellectually-speaking, a very bad idea. Tsukishima knows this because he's not an idiot, unlike these two tagalongs who won't stop following him.

"The wizard's going to haaaaate you," Hinata sing-songs, thumping on Kageyama's chest. "You're so mean and grumpy all the time and you're always yelling! It's gotta be because you don't have a heart."

"Like you're any better off, dumbass. You don't have a brain!" Kageyama shoots back, shoving Hinata and making the scarecrow stumble until he's slamming into Tsukishima's side. Tsukishima reaches under his glasses and rubs at his eyes.

"Neither of you has a brain," Tsukishima says. He grits his teeth and flexes his toes inside the ruby volleyball shoes that won't come off no matter how much he tries. He's so tired and just wants to go home, and Sugawara, the Good Witch of the North, had been so cryptic, only saying the stupid shoes were the key to getting home. All Tsukishima did was land one house on one witch, for god's sake.

"Grr?" Someone jumps out onto the yellow brick road in front of them, a guy who Tsukishima would maybe consider halfway cute if he didn't look like he was about to piss himself in his ratty lion costume. That's another thing Tsukishima doesn't get about Oz: all the terrible cosplay. "Grr!" the sort-of-cute guy says again, his knees knocking together. "Get—get out of – of – um, my—"

Tsukishima sighs, irritated. "Spit it out!"

"Sorry!" The guy sighs back. "I'm terrible at this." He crouches down right in the middle of the road and covers his face with his hands. Hinata and Kageyama exchange unsure looks.

Tsukishima knows he should just sidestep around this coward and get the hell on their way, but he feels his knees give way and soon he's kneeling next to lion guy and glaring at him until he lifts his head to meet Tsukishima's eyes.

"Pathetic," Tsukishima says, but it comes out sounding halfway nice, to his bafflement. "What's your name?" he asks. "Just say it, never mind the stuttering."

The lion guy laughs then; it sounds rusty, like he hasn't had much opportunity to make use of it lately, and that makes Tsukishima's stupid heart clench. "Yamaguchi Tadashi," he says. "The Cowardly Lion of the Forest, if we're being formal about it."

Tsukishima nods. "I'm Tsukishima Kei, and these idiots aren't worth an introduction."

"Hey," Kageyama says.

"Stupidshima!" Hinata shouts.

"We're going to see the Wizard to play in his volleyball championship. If we win, he's supposed to give the morons a heart and a brain, and get me home. Want to come along?"

Behind him, Hinata and Kageyama gasp. "What!" Hinata shouts more. He's always very loud. "Why did we have to stalk you until you said we could come along?"

"He looks like he could use something," Tsukishima says, still looking at the guy – Yamaguchi. There's just something about him, something familiar maybe, something that reminds him of home, and the thought of leaving Yamaguchi behind annoys him. "So are you coming or what?"

Yamaguchi stares at all of them, Tsukishima the longest. "Yeah. Yeah! I'd like that," he finally says. "Thanks, Tsukki!"