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you put the hot in hot chocolate

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Kageyama Tobio detests the cold, which might be surprising, given his character type. He hates stepping outside and getting smacked in the face with the cold wind — not to mention that in the winter, getting the energy to be revved up for volleyball trainings were harder too. The cold seeped into his bones and pervaded even his spirit, such that he would wander the streets outside with such a dead face Nishinoya once told him he looked about as expressive as a blank piece of paper.

Today is no exception. The cold bites at Kageyama’s exposed features, turning his lips what must be blue-grey with how frozen his blood is — no, he isn’t exaggerating — and he mumbles quietly to himself as people mill around the sidewalk.

He’s blowing air on his rocklike hands, waiting for his bus, when the bell of a nearby store chimes and a blast of warmth all but punches him in the back. Kageyama stiffens, turning around with wide eyes, and sees that a man has just exited a new café. It looked swanky and hipster, one of those establishments with exposed brick and bright, wide windows, with orange lights that have no covers and hang loosely down from the ceiling.

The floors are hardwood and shiny. They invite him.

Now that Kageyama has taken notice of this café, he can’t quite seem to let it go. His feet tap the ground irritably as he turns his attention back to the queue for his bus, but when someone else enters the café and the obnoxious bell tinkles and the warmth hits him again, Kageyama finds himself stumbling to the cast-iron handle and yanking the door open. The warmth settles around his face comfortingly and the smell of fresh coffee assaults his senses. He walks in with a little more poise and grace, conscious of the people looking at him, and seats himself delicately down at an empty two-person table.

The café is undeniably warm and friendly — with his attitude and general demeanour, Kageyama tends to stay away from cafes, coffeeshops and the like. Most baristas tended to think he was pissed when it was just his resting face, and the loudness of the establishments tended to give him a headache. This place is quiet, though, with a rather peaceful atmosphere broken only by the sound of coffee machines whirring and the dull drone of muzak in the background. A female singer drones on about loving in the snow, and winter cold touches.

Leaving his bag at his seat, Kageyama approaches the counter and hesitates at the menu. There are many choices, from matcha to caramel to strawberry flavoured drinks, and things like this tended to give him anxiety. He’s grateful there’s no line and he can take his time, but just as he’s had the thought, the staff at cashier clears his throat and Kageyama flinches.

The voice belongs to a blonde man, tall, extremely so — Kageyama has never felt short, no, he’s always considered himself to be amongst the upper realms, it’s something being around his partner and resident shrimp Hinata Shouyou could make you feel, but this man makes him feel very small indeed. Intelligent eyes framed by a pair of light set glasses stare quite intently at him, as though they could figure out his entire life story just by looking at him. He’s quite handsome, if Kageyama is thinking objectively. His jaw slopes delicately, his eyes are doe-shaped and seem too innocent for his face.

Kageyama rubs the back of his head and turns away. “Uh,” he says lamely. “I’ll get a hot chocolate.”

There’s a pause. Neither of them do anything, and the man stares at him expectantly.

“Please?” he offers meekly when the cashier doesn’t react, and is rewarded with the cashier sighing and reading out the price.

Kageyama slides the money over the table and the man takes it with a calloused hand, dumping the money into the register and pressing his change — in  coins, Kageyama notices with some distaste, but doesn’t say anything — before turning around and grabbing a cup.

Uncharacteristically of Kageyama, he wants to ask the man something — the sharp eyes must’ve left some sort of spell on him, because he finds himself intrigued in spite of everything, yet his mouth does not move and his hands do not react.

“You can sit down,” the man tells him, turning back around with his hands on his hips. Not blocked by the register, Kageyama can finally read his name:

Tsukishima Kei.

Something about the name is familiar, though he can’t quite put a finger on it. Gnawing his bottom lip, he struggles to come up with the reason for his uncertainty, and perhaps he hesitates too long before returning to his seat that the man turns around to look at him again.

“Do you want to wait here?” the man asks. His voice is as callous as his grip, rough and insensitive.

“Do I know you?” Kageyama chooses to ask instead — well, he doesn’t choose to so much so as blurt it out, and if he had been anyone else he might’ve clapped a hand over his mouth in embarrassment. Luckily even when consumed with curiosity he is still somewhat in control of his motor functions, and decides he’d just keep gazing expectantly at the man in front of him, because he’s been reliably informed his stare is intimidating.

The man raises an eyebrow. “No,” he deadpans. He hands over the mug and Kageyama takes it, enjoying the warmth against his fingers. “Enjoy.”

Unable to let it go, however, he looks up from the delicate frothing of the chocolate to say, “I’ve known a Tsukishima. Are you sure?”

Tsukishima pauses — his back visibly stiffens. “Do you play volleyball?” he asks delicately. His voice sounds slightly resentful. “My brother used to play volleyball.”

Ah, his brother. That must be it — dimly he remembered a blaze of brown eyes brushing past him onto the court, but that had been a long time ago. Kageyama’s surprised he even remembers — Hinata liked to make fun of his terrible memory.

Wordlessly, Kageyama nods and walks away from the counter, sipping the burning liquid and sighing quite softly in a way that could be interpreted as happiness if you knew him well enough. Pulling out his laptop, he resolves to do at least some of his university homework before he got home, and starts to type away.

Sometimes, though, he looks over the top of the computer screen and studies the barista and his sullen, bored expression — customer service doesn’t exist here, which contradicts quite heavily with the pleasant atmosphere the barista’s managed to build up. Realising he’s begun to stare, Kageyama ducks his head down and knocks it against the table, breathing out harshly.

As though sensing something wrong, Tsukishima turns his head to look at Kageyama’s table, a twist to his lips. Next to him, the person getting ready to take over his shift shakes his head solemnly as he ties his apron round his waist. “Kageyama’s emotionally constipated,” Oikawa tells him, his voice teasing. “You don’t want to get involved.”

“You know him?” Tsukishima asks, untying his apron with practised ease. The older man laughs as he starts to tidy up the counters.

“You don’t know the half of it. He’s a good sort, a little rough at the edges,” Oikawa puts away the cloth and puts his hands on his hips. “But the second you present him with emotion his brain just shuts down, it’s kind of funny. He’s going to flip when he sees me. Once, his teammate tried to hug him, and Kageyama asked him why he was strangling him. It was an experience,” Oikawa laughs. “It took him two years before he told his team they were friends. Two years, Tsukki-chan.”

Tsukishima rescues his bag and phone from under the counter. “By any chance, is this the Kageyama Tobio you are always telling me about?”

Oikawa nods, laughing. “My adorable Tobio-chan. Didn’t take him to be one for the café scene, though.”

Grabbing a napkin, Tsukishima writes his number down on it in bright black letters. As he writes, the ink smudges and gets onto his fingers, staining the tips of them a dull black. Oikawa sighs and shakes his head in a sort of semi-alarm. “Wait — what are you doing?”

“Pissing you off,” Tsukishima replies. His voice is light and mocking. “Didn’t his team kick your ass?”

“Once,” Oikawa says sulkily. “Hey, no wait — don’t do that.”

“I walked in on you and Iwaizumi-san defiling the break room and you didn’t even stop, so,” a delicate pause. “I’m going to take a picture with his trophy.”

The shit-eating grin on his face is unbearable. Oikawa would shout something nasty, but he’s in the middle of work and his customers all look serene.

“You shouldn’t lead someone on, Tsukki-chan,” Oikawa aims a kick at his knee and ends up missing when the boy dodges delicately.

“‘M not,” Tsukishima straightens and twirls the napkin between two fingers. “I think he’s quite cute. Blushes real nice too,” swinging his bag over his shoulder, he makes off for the table.

Oikawa takes a snapchat of his middle finger and sends it off instead, watching sullenly as Tsukishima drops the napkin onto the table unceremoniously and with a terrible grin on his face as he walks off.

Kageyama picks up the napkin and his face turns bright red — he looks out of the shop in a hurry, as though searching for him, and when all he sees is an empty sidewalk, he turns his gaze back to the napkin.

Oikawa thinks he’s going to throw it away when he gets up and moves to the trashcan — but then, quietly, he puts it into the pocket of his jeans and fidgets nervously. He’s red from his face all the way down to the back of his neck. Oikawa sighs; so this is how the end of the world starts, he thinks, watching Kageyama return to his seat and wipe his hands on his jeans.