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Spare a Person's Feelings

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Tsukishima had his arms crossed over his chest, eyeing up the competition from the sidelines. Things were odd right then for a lot of reasons: being all alone on a new team for the first time ever, thinking of teammates as competition right from the start, a weird sense of unease that Tsukishima took a moment to recognize as nervousness.

Then one of the guys playing middle blocker in the scrimmage read an easy play completely wrong and slammed into the setter who was going in the opposite direction. They fell in a pile on the court, and then one of the wing spikers tripped over them, too.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," he mumbled under his breath. "Do they need a map to the net?" He thought this university's team was supposed to be good.

"I know," someone said next to him. "I wonder where half these kids came from."

Tsukishima glanced over to see who it was; his eyes widened but he thought his sports glasses probably masked the reaction. "Oikawa-san," Tsukishima said carefully.

"Glasses guy," Oikawa replied. He nodded his head and spread his arm toward the court, as if wordlessly saying continue, continue. So Tsukishima did.

That was how it started: Tsukishima muttering something awful, Oikawa laughing and coming back with something just as mean. And Oikawa was loud about it in a way Tsukishima could never dream of. He thought nothing of calling out criticism to his kohai, but Tsukishima could see how everyone respected whatever he said. It was a weird day when Tsukishima realized that applied to him, too.

"Are you ready to jump?" Oikawa called to him one day during a practice match and set the ball high and fast in Tsukishima's direction. And he didn't growl at Oikawa for making him go high, the way he always had when the king made him work for it. Tsukishima just jumped up as high as he could, stretching and spiking way over the heads of the other team.

After, Oikawa pressed a towel into his chest and told him good match, which made his face heat up. He thought it was probably good he was already red-faced and sweaty because this was embarrassing.

"Why didn't Tobio-chan wind up here?" Oikawa asked casually, like they'd been talking about Kageyama all along. "I know the coach scouted both of you."

Tsukishima wiped his forehead with the towel Oikawa had given him. "He said he couldn't deal with me for three more years."

Oikawa clucked his tongue. "Come on, Tsukki-kun." Tsukishima waited to get annoyed by that and was surprised when it never happened. "I didn't think you were the type to spare a person's feelings. That's why I like you."

"Well. I suppose it was because not everyone knows how to deal with someone like you," Tsukishima said.

"But you do, don't you?" Oikawa pressed in close and squeezed Tsukishima's elbow, making him shiver. "I knew you'd be a good fit here. I can bring out the best in anyone."

Tsukishima swallowed and put down the towel. "Oikawa-san," he said, looking down at his sneakers, "what are you doing after this?"