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We Who Jump For Stars

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The first time they kiss is bruising.

Tsukishima grabs Kageyama by the front of his uniform and shoves him against the wall outside the gymnasium—not as roughly as he’d expected, but there’s nothing gentle about it, either. He kisses Kageyama, hard, mouth crashing against mouth, and he knows it’ll hurt tomorrow, it might even bruise, but his heart is beating so hard that it makes him dizzy, and there’s a warmth, a fire burning from deep inside him, and he finds he can’t think of—nor care about—much else.

He pulls away after what feels like a lifetime. His upper lip is throbbing a little, and there’s an apology at the tip of his tongue—either an apology disguised as an insult, or an insult disguised as an apology, he’s not sure, but before he can make up his mind, Kageyama grabs him by the shirtfront, pulls him close, and kisses him again, harder. It hurts more, there’s definitely a bruise now, but in this dizzying, burning moment, Tsukishima doesn’t care. He would do this over and over and over again.

 


 


Kageyama looks at Tsukishima a little differently after that, Tsukishima thinks.

There’s the most subtle of softness in his expressions, and if it were perhaps a year ago, Tsukishima would either use it to tease him mercilessly, or feel completely grossed out.

But it is a look reserved only for him, now. Kageyama doesn’t look at anyone else that way, and Tsukishima can’t help but feel a little…

Hmm. He can’t figure it out. It’s a very weird sort of thing he’s feeling, but maybe he’s just not used to it yet, whatever it may be.

Also, he can’t be spacing out when they’re in the middle of a match, or he’s going to get concussed by the opponent’s spike.

They’re facing off against a school located several minutes away, who had bowed out of the Spring High after being defeated by Shiratorizawa, but had apparently made impressive changes to their play-style and training regimes. While it wasn’t anything too overwhelming, Tsukishima couldn’t lie—their spikers were indeed faster and stronger than he’d been expecting. Their number six in particular, has an effortless knack of pulling excellent feints and spikes in equal numbers, and has scored a decent number of points against Karasuno. It’s almost worrying.

But then, all Karasuno has to do is fight back even harder, like they always have.

It’s nearly the end of the first set, and the score is twenty-one to twenty-four, with Karasuno at match point. Despite how decently the other team has been playing, Kageyama remains unfazed, and his tosses are on point as usual. It’s actually a little infuriating, how good he is, and why can’t he be like this when it comes to studying???

As the ball is lobbed towards Kageyama, he and Tsukishima exchange glances for the briefest of moments as the Karasuno members rush forward together for a synchronised attack. The other team tenses—it’s always satisfying when they do that—and Kageyama tosses the ball. Tsukishima is half a beat slower than the others, they’ve managed to mess up the timing of their opponent’s blockers, and there’s only their libero to beat, and he’s slightly further back, expecting a spike, like the first two times they’d done this—

Tsukishima tips a feint, and other team’s libero and captain both swear and lunge towards it, but it’s too late. The ball hits the ground, and the set goes to Karasuno.

There’s a roar of victory from their teammates, because they just don’t know the meaning of calm, even for something as casual as a practice match. Tsukishima can hear Yamaguchi and Hinata yelling even louder from the warm-up zone. He braces himself for Nishinoya and/or Tanaka to pound his back with glee, which they both do, before Daichi slaps Tsukishima’s shoulder proudly, and Nishinoya and Tanaka bounce over to ruffle Kageyama’s hair. Kageyama is smiling a little sheepishly, but there’s an undeniable pride in his expression as well, and Tsukishima—Tsukishima feels that pride, too, from somewhere deep in his chest. It was a good idea, a good set-up, a good toss, a good feint, a good combination, we work well together. They always have.

They win the second set too, because of course they do. Because they have a good team, because Kageyama and Tsukishima work well together, because they bring out the best in each other on the court, despite their bickering and stubbornness. Whatever changes about them off the court, is irrelevant—on the court, they are exactly the same.

Tsukishima wouldn’t have it any other way, he thinks.

Both teams shake hands, and compliment each other all the way through the clean up, until they bid their goodbyes and thanks, and Karasuno leaves the school grounds and head towards their school’s minibus. Kageyama is bickering with Hinata as usual, and Hinata is bouncing happily, no end to his monster stamina.

Tsukishima watches Kageyama’s back wordlessly—after all, they’re off the court again, and things are different now. Yamaguchi has fallen into step beside him, and Tsukishima can feel his eyes boring into the side of his head like he can read Tsukishima like an open book, because he is good at that.

Takeda-sensei ushers them onto the bus, and Tsukishima is about to take his usual seat beside Yamaguchi, when Yamaguchi suddenly shoves him out, to an “Oi!” of surprise and protest.

“Hinata!” Yamaguchi gestures for him hurriedly, and Hinata, about to sit beside Kageyama as usual, looks up. “Over here! I wanna talk to you about receiving jump-floaters!”

“Oh, okay!” Hinata quickly climbs over, buffering Tsukishima aside.

What,” says Tsukishima indignantly. Yamaguchi just grins up at him in fake apology—honestly, whoever says he’s an innocent angel, really doesn’t know better.

“Sorry, Tsukki!” he says. “I need talk to Hinata before I forget.”

“Stop whining, Tsukishima!” says Hinata. “It’s not like you’ll forget what he looks like if you don’t sit next to him for one bus trip!”

Tsukishima’s about to retort, when Ukai-san barks at them all to calm down, and with a little sigh, he moves towards the seat that Hinata had vacated, next to Kageyama. Kageyama, watching the fuss in silence all this time, looks up to meet Tsukishima’s eyes, and when he does—

His expression softens again, just slightly, and Tsukishima feels a funny little jolt in his stomach as he silently takes his seat. Kageyama really doesn’t look at anyone else that way, and Tsukishima can’t help but feel a little…

It’s something close to happy, if he could let himself be honest for just one a second. Happy still isn’t quite the right word, but he thinks that might be okay. Whatever it is, he likes this feeling, and for now, he allows himself to fall slowly, slowly, into this beckoning warmth.

Beside him, Kageyama stares out the window as the bus pulls out from the school grounds. They’re shoulder-to-shoulder, elbows touching, and neither move away from each other. It’s not so much a comfortable silence, as a familiar silence, and Tsukishima likes familiar.

They don’t say a word to each other for the whole bus ride back, and this suits them both just fine.

 


 


It’s quiet. Their school grounds are empty at this time of day, given they’d just finished after-school volleyball practice. They’re sitting on a bench outside the gymnasium and are waiting for Hinata, Yamaguchi, and Yachi, it’s getting dark and cooling down, but it’s peaceful. So peaceful, that Kageyama’s head is resting on Tsukishima’s shoulder, and he’s dozed off.

Now that Tsukishima thinks about it, it’s been a while since they’ve had a quiet moment together like this. Between school, their noisy teammates-slash-friends, and the chaos of volleyball practice, they don’t get a lot of peace and quiet. Which is why, maybe a few months ago, Tsukishima would’ve shaken Kageyama off already, but today, he is content to let it be.

(He’s getting too soft and sentimental, honestly.)

He moves his head slightly to look down at Kageyama when he sighs comfortably. Kageyama’s hands rest in his lap, palms facing upwards. Every single day, his hands look exactly the same: fingernails short and blunt, and his skin soft and free of any hangnails or cracks that might distract him when playing volleyball. Tsukishima thinks that the day Kageyama’s hands haven’t been meticulously maintained, is the day the world has gone to hell.

But this is familiar. Tsukishima likes familiar.

(Kageyama is something close to familiar.)

With some hesitation, Tsukishima moves his hand and slowly, slowly, rests it on Kageyama’s, almost experimentally. After a moment, Kageyama’s fingers curl around his, and Tsukishima’s heart stutters a beat out of rhythm, and he feels a sudden need to jerk his hand away, purely because he’s really not used to this yet. But then, Kageyama shifts a slightly and he gives another sigh, and somehow, this calms Tsukishima down a little.

This—This is not familiar. They aren’t really hand-holding people, either of them. But this is okay. Tsukishima doesn’t hate it. It’s nice, even.

Tsukishima exhales softly, slowly, and his heartbeat eventually calms to normal.

 


(The others don’t arrive for ages. It’s getting even later, darker, and cooler now. Tsukishima frowns and checks the Line group chat on his phone, and:

Hinata: enjoy ur alone time u gross lovebirds!! (๑>ڡ •̀๑)
Yamaguchi: I’m sorry, I tried to stop them
Yachi: Yamaguchi-kun……
Yamaguchi: You’re right, I did no such thing ☆–(•̀▽≦ )

Tsukishima almost snaps his phone in half.)

 


 


Tsukishima is dishonest; Kageyama is not.

There’s something envious about the way Kageyama can say whatever’s on his mind. True, it hasn’t exactly made him lots of friends in the past, but then, neither has Tsukishima’s dishonesty. He’s not really sure which is the better option.

(He’s beginning to think it might be Kageyama’s way, but that innately stubborn part of him is still unwilling to admit this. He’s working on it. Maybe. Sort of. Not really.)

It doesn’t escape his attention that it seems to be Kageyama who reaches out to Tsukishima more, being the first to make small romantic gestures, infrequent as they are, and Tsukishima eventually reciprocating. It’s not that Tsukishima doesn’t want to take the lead, but there’s that bit of him that hesitates, or feels the need to tease Kageyama about it first, or even just completely misses the idea of doing so. Kageyama, ever-honest, seems to have no problem with any of it.

Which is—nice. That it means Kageyama genuinely likes him.

And, well, Tsukishima supposes that if he didn’t try putting in some effort too, it’d be unfair on Kageyama.

Yamaguchi has told him in the past that Tsukishima prefers to keep his circle of friends small and close. That there’s an odd sort of loyalty that Tsukishima will show, but only in the most subtle of ways, easily missed by people not so close to him. He’ll let people in, but only if he really, really wants to—only if he really likes them, and trusts them.

Karasuno has just finished up a Saturday morning training session, and Kageyama is chasing Hinata around the gymnasium in circles after Hinata had teased him about not looking so constipated upon tossing a ball too low. Daichi is barking at them to calm down, but Shimizu suggests he simply let them tire themselves out. Suga is yelling at them to run faster, and that Daichi would treat them to pork buns if they could keep it up for another five minutes.

(“NO, I WON’T,” Daichi yells.

“Fine, Asahi will, then.”

No, I won’t,” Asahi protests.)

Nishinoya and Tanaka are loudly contemplating using the volleyball nets to try and catch Kageyama and Hinata. Ennoshita is glaring daggers at them, and Narita and Kinoshita are hastily folding the nets away, in case the idea really does get put to the test. Sitting beside Tsukishima, Yamaguchi is grinning exasperatedly, and Yachi sighs as she begins to collect their towels. Tsukishima just takes a sip of water and watches everything in silence.

He likes this team. He trusts them.

They all disperse eventually, after Ukai-san bursts into the gymnasium and yells at them all to go home, and that he’ll bench Kageyama and Hinata for a whole set in their next game if they don’t stop fooling around. This finally makes them stop, but even then, Kageyama and Hinata keep bickering as the first years are ushered out of the gymnasium and they begin to leave the school grounds, only ceasing after Yachi attempts and fails to calm them down, and Yamaguchi yells at them for being rude in ignoring her.

It’s just another day, in other words. Tsukishima likes familiar.

After a few streets, they split off to return home. Hinata and Yamaguchi walk Yachi to her bus stop, and Tsukishima is about to point out that Yamaguchi doesn’t even live in that direction, when Yamaguchi throws him a sneaky little grin over his shoulder, and picks up his pace.

Oh.

Ugh.

“Are you coming or not?” says Kageyama, loitering behind Tsukishima. They’re headed the same way.

Tsukishima’s first instinct is to throw a sarcastic no at him, but he has no good reason to do so, and, as he reminds himself, he really needs to be making more of an effort to be nicer. Not because Kageyama can’t handle him being terse, but because… because he likes Kageyama, and Kageyama deserves him being a little softer, sometimes.

Tsukishima falls into step beside him wordlessly, and Kageyama gives him a glance and looks like he wants to say something, before thinking better of it and closing his mouth. After a little while, he closes the gap between them so that they are walking shoulder-to-shoulder, and his fingers clutch around a bit of the hem of Tsukishima’s jacket. It’s a nice sort of weight. Tsukishima’s pulse quickens a little.

They eventually stop at the corner where they take different roads to walk home. Tsukishima feels a little swoop in his stomach as Kageyama lets go of his jacket and looks up at him.

“Well, see you tomorrow,” he says, turning down his street. They’re used to these unsentimental sort of goodbyes, because they aren’t far from each other, they’ll see each other at school or at volleyball practice, they aren’t really sappy people, and they’ve always been fine with this, but… but…

Tsukishima stands there, frozen, words caught in his throat, though he isn’t sure what he would’ve said anyway. He thinks of bruising kisses and expressions softening and perfect tosses. He thinks of perfectly maintained hands and the weight of Kageyama’s head resting on his shoulder and watching him running around the gymnasium like the world is all right.

Kageyama keeps walking, carefree, and Tsukishima watches him go.

It was okay like this, right?

(Dishonest.)

Right.

Tsukishima finally turns his heel and heads home.

 


 


Tsukishima’s never been very good with words when it really counts. He has wit of lightning, and his words have cut more often than not, but that’s not it, that’s not what he wants right now, that’s not—

He lies in bed, tossing and turning restlessly for a good half an hour or so. The image of Kageyama’s back retreating in the distance plays over and over again in his head, now also accompanied by the look on Kageyama’s face before he had turned around—nonchalant, not expecting anything, never expecting Tsukishima to reciprocate any of his small gestures.

It was okay like this, right?

Maybe.

But…

While Tsukishima tended to be subtle in the ways he showed he cared about people, it was also okay to take an extra step, wasn’t it?

He jams his palms against his eyes for a moment, and with a sigh, takes them away, and then grabs his glasses and phone from his bedside table.

Goodnight, he types to Kageyama in a message, and sends it. It’s late and he probably wouldn’t see it until the morning, but that was okay, it wasn’t like he—

Tsukishima receives a reply, which makes him jump about a mile and sends his heart pounding. He’d just taken off his glasses, so he hastily pushes them back onto his face, accidentally poking himself in the eye with one of the glasses arms.

Goodnight, Kageyama had sent back. Four hiragana, exactly like Tsukishima’s own text, simple and undecorated, unremarkable and casual…

Tsukishima can’t take his eyes off it, reading it over and over again. There’s a heat in his cheeks, and he’s relieved that it’s dark and there’s no one who can see him right now. Goodnight, they had told each other, and maybe they’ll tell that to each other in person someday, but for now, given how honestly bad the two of them are at this kind of thing, this was a big step of sorts.

He receives another text:

Hurry up and go to sleep, we have training tomorrow

Ah. Tsukishima lets out a little huff of laughter. This is more like it.

His heart rate calms down, and he puts his phone and glasses back onto his table, and curls up comfortably in bed.

 


 


He can be a little more honest, he thinks.

The next day, late afternoon, the first years are walking home again, and it’s the same as it often has been recently: Hinata and Yamaguchi walk with Yachi to her bus stop, Kageyama and Tsukishima head their own way, Kageyama turns down his street, and Tsukishima—

(He thinks of goodnight texts and freezing in place and the familiar chaos of volleyball training. He thinks of Kageyama’s comfortable weight against him and their rare, quiet moments together and perfectly maintained hands curling around Tsukishima’s and his expression softening and—)

—forces his feet to move. He takes a deep breath and stumbles forward, grabs Kageyama’s elbow, and pulls him back. With his other hand on the nape of Kageyama’s neck, catching the surprise in his eyes, Tsukishima leans in and kisses him.

It’s almost gentle this time, not like their bruising first kiss, but it sets a warmth, a fire, ablaze in Tsukishima’s chest like something even better, and by the way Kageyama’s fingers curl around his wrists, he knows that it’s the same for him.

They could do this over and over and over again.

(And they do.)