It was a trap.
Kuroo huffs as he rounds the dark corner, not daring to look back to see if the one chasing him is still there.
It was a trap, and they fucked up.
He’d crushed his in-ear and tracker just a minute ago, leading to the complete loss of contact with Akaashi and Bokuto, and really, it grates at his nerves. He doesn’t have the time to take the burner phone out as he hears loud footsteps at the distance.
He knows he doesn’t have a reason to be nervous, at all. He knows the area like the back of his hand, as it is a requirement to memorize the maps for smoother execution of missions. The high from the adrenaline coursing through his veins and the cold autumn air are more than enough to ground him, concentrating on running as his mind also races to find the best route to lose his trail, for an escape.
However, this is the first time in Kuroo’s whole career that the calm, constant voice of Akaashi Keiji isn’t by his left ear, throwing instructions for the best path to take and the occasional praise for a job well done. It is a bit unnerving.
The wind blows harshly as he turns left by the back of a teahouse just at the edge of the slums. Lights are getting fewer and fewer as he goes farther away from the sparkle of the city, taking the long way around to their designated rendezvous. The full moon remains as his guide for the night.
He reaches a dead end.
“What,” he whispers angrily, eyebrows scrunched up as he breathes heavily, coming to a stop, “the fuck.”
This isn’t what’s on the map, he says as his mind hurriedly backtracks to where he just came from, and manages to startle himself with a big rat passing by.
He decides to turn back and find another way, when he comes face-to-face with a gun.
Ah, I forgot about this guy, he thinks as he proceeds to raise his hands.
He wonders if Bokuto is okay.
It is an automatic agreement, for the circumstance that they lose contact, to meet at their rendezvous.
“Akaashi,” Bokuto huffs, voice mildly shaking as he slows down for a jog by the back of a café, going straight for three blocks and rounding up a narrow aisle which leads to the assigned rendezvous point for that night. He crushes the in-ear and the tracker with his foot, and proceeds to throw it in a trash can he passes by. It is protocol every after mission, in order to ensure the loss of any tracking attempt by enemies. He thinks it’s kind of a waste, though. He fishes out the burner phone and places it by his ear.
Said rendezvous is a small inn by the park, just past the shops and by the end of the border where you can see where the houses start and the city ends. Perfect for travellers, nothing too suspicious.
A static, and Bokuto hears a quiet acknowledgement, “Bokuto-san.”
He greets the old lady at the reception with a small bow and a smile, and then speaks in a low voice, “I lost contact with Kuroo,” he breathes out, as he finally enters the room.
Akaashi lets out a shaky breath, “I know, I’ve lost connection with him too.”
Bokuto picks the satchel bag and gets his clothes out, as the quiet static in his ear and the silence around him stretches. He feels his heart at his throat. This is the first time in his and Kuroo’s partnership that they’d fully lost contact with each other, much less Kuroo losing connection with Akaashi. Kuroo won’t do that unless he’s being too cautious of being detected or followed by the enemy or an emergency. He usually messages Bokuto when he does that.
“Have you checked his tracker?”
He hears some typing, and then, “I’ve been trying for a while now, but the signal’s lost,” and Bokuto can also hear the little hint of nervousness from Akaashi’s voice.
He switches the phone in loudspeaker and places it on the bed and proceeds to take his black long sleeve off. He looks at the emerald about two inches in size inked inside his left forearm. The gem itself has an irregular shape, as if it has been splashed on the skin. Bokuto thinks it’s perfect.
It reminds him of green eyes, the scent of the sea, calm voices, shy smiles and Akaashi Keiji.
“He’ll be fine, right?” He says as he slips the white silk shirt on, picks the phone up and switches it to normal and place it by his ear.
“Yes,” he hears the smile, “Let’s believe in Kuroo-san,” and the tell-tale sign of mildly increasing panic in the other man’s voice.
Akaashi is the calmest of the three of them, spouting clear and crisp instructions with a steady voice even when they are in a pinch; but Bokuto knows he worries, oh, he worries, and at situations like this he knows he needs to show his support to Akaashi somehow. So he speaks, confidence and reassurance in his voice.
“Two hours,” Bokuto replies as he blows gently on the emerald, hopes the man on the other line feels it, gets the message. Let’s calm down, Kuroo will be fine.
Soulmates, Kuroo thinks as he rips a piece of cloth from the man he’d just taken down and sees a key inked by the hip, I wonder what’s taking mine so long.
Growing up in an orphanage, he and Bokuto had first learned about soulmates when they were nine; when they asked the pretty onee-san about the tattoo on her left shoulder.
“This is called a soul mark,” she says as she sits down and arranges the pretty flowers they’d picked for the flower crowns they were going to do. Their eyes had shone brightly, chorused an exclamation and had demanded to be told more.
“Soulmarks appear the moment you and your soulmate happen to have direct skin contact. It automatically marks itself at any part of your body.”
“Does it hurt?” Bokuto had asked.
The onee-san smiled and patted Bokuto’s head, “not really, just enough sting for you to know that it’s there.”
“But what’s a soulmate?” Kuroo inquired then.
The one-san giggles, “They say that a soulmate is a person made for you, someone said to be your other half. The one that completes you.”
The kids looked at each other then, hope reflecting in their eyes.
Kuroo wraps the cloth around his left upper arm and tries his best to tighten the knot with his teeth. He winces at the pain, but he supposes it’s better than nothing and leaving a trail of blood behind. He stands up, loses some of his balance as his vision spins and blurs from exhaustion and blood loss. It was a highly skilled opponent, and so the fight had dragged on.
Ah, Kuroo thinks, laughs a little at himself as his vision spins and braces his good arm against the wall, at least let me meet my soulmate before I die.
There are many things that Tsukishima Kei had expected and imagined that will happen in his life, but a gun pressed on his back is certainly not one of them.
He was just on the way home from the night shift as an intern, and he currently wishes for nothing but the sweet, sweet relief of his bed, and maybe a long shower, so he decides to take a shortcut. He’s still wearing scrubs, and the coat he’d managed to grab this morning barely does anything to keep the cold away; so he hurries home.
Little did he know that he would regret the choice he had made.
He hears the cock of the gun and a cold press on his back before he gets the chance to react. He freezes.
“Keep walking, sweetheart,” a voice says as he feels the barrel press harder on his back.
“What do you want,” Tsukishima says, as he takes the first step forward to continue walking, “because if it’s money—“
“I assume you have a first aid kit at home?” The stranger---- the man holding the gun, cuts him off.
Tsukishima gulps, “Yes.”
“Good. Take me there and patch me up.”
He doesn’t try to look back, much less struggle. Supposedly working to save others’ lives, it is quite the first time he genuinely feared for his own. He feels the man shiver, but the grip on the gun stays steady so he supposes there’s still no chance of running away or calling the cops. He nods, and starts walking.
Tsukishima feels a trickle of sweat roll down his back as he twists the key into the lock, his and the man’s breathing the only sounds in the cold autumn night.
“Hurry up, love, it’s really cold,” the man says.
“Maybe if you stop calling me those things I’ll move faster,” he says as he finally manages to twist the knob and open the door.
The stranger chuckles, “maybe give me your name so I can properly address you.”
“Right, as if I’d give my name to a stranger who happens to have a gun pressed on me,” Tsukishima replies as he leads him on the dining table, because he wouldn’t want risking blood on his couch.
“Snarky, I see,” and Tsukishima turns the lights on. I’m so fucking bold to dare exchange words with a man threatening my life.
He turns around, and looks two inches away from the stranger’s face. Just enough for the guy to see that he doesn’t really like to acknowledge his existence.
“Sit here, I’m going to get the kit,” he says as he starts to move.
“Wait,” the stranger says, “leave your phone here,” and taps the surface of the table.
Tsukishima obliges, just to get it over with. He then goes to retrieve the things he’d need.
A medical student, Kuroo thinks with a huff as he fully takes the little apartment in; medical books and papers all and strewn about, just my luck.
The pretty blond comes back with the kit, and some big plastic bottles that Kuroo assumes might be disinfectants.
Kuroo is currently nursing a cup of water. He’d disassembled the gun and spread the parts on the table; because that’s the least he could do to lower the other person’s guard. A silent promise and compromise of safety. He had disassembled the phone too, though.
“Peace offering,” he grins at the little confused look he receives, “oh and I was really thirsty so I helped myself. Hope you don’t mind.”
“How can you be so sure that I didn’t contact anyone while I was away?” Pretty blond says as he places the things on the table, beside the gun.
“I would’ve noticed a telephone line, by which you do not have,” Kuroo then gulps the last of his water and places it on the table with a loud clunk.
The blond does not give him an answer, instead goes on to retrieve the scissors. Kuroo looks on as the blond proceeds to pour a lot of disinfectant in his hand, spreading it until the elbows. Then he bathes the scissors, the excess liquid dripping onto the floor.
“I ran out of gloves,” blond said as he approaches Kuroo, and for a moment the raven thinks he’d get stabbed, “so I disinfected a lot.”
What he gets are gentle hands cutting away the cloth he’d managed to slap on the wound, careful not to press to hard and along with it a whole chunk of the black sweater he’s wearing around the area.
The blond hums, “you did well at trying to stop the bleeding,” and he tosses the pieces of clothes at the floor. “It is deep, something that had been shot at a close range.”
“Thanks, I try hard, sunshine,” he replies with a grin, which makes the blond’s nose scrunch up. The blond then proceeds to disinfect the wound, and Kuroo winces.
“Stop calling me that,” he replies, and goes to retrieve a--- is that a needle?
“Then maybe give me your name,” Kuroo replies, as he chuckles nervously. He may or may not be that fond of needles.
“No.” The reply comes firm, “I’ll just have to stitch this up and you’ll be good to go. I hope to never see you again.”
“Don’t you fear that I’d kill you after this?”
“I don’t suppose you’re the type to kill the person that is currently saving your life.”
Kuroo’s mouth makes an “o” as blond guy starts stitching his wound, “but I need to pay for your services!”
Blond guy looks at him in disbelief, “Aren’t you some kind of a thief? Then you’re broke.”
He puts a free hand on his chest, “You wound me—ack! That hurts a bit!”
Blond actually snorts, “maybe if you weren’t moving around so much you wouldn’t get hurt,” and continues his work.
So he settles, and hears the blond continue, “You’re lucky the aim weren’t any lower. You could be sporting a hole in your shoulder right now.”
“Aww,” Kuroo says as he turns his head to the blond, “worried about me?”
The blond tsks, and a pinkie shoots from the hand settled on whatever little clothed space on his shoulder to his neck. “Stop moving so mu—“
A sudden pain shoots through the both of them, at the point of contact, causing them both to startle and jump a bit from the other.
Tsukishima watches with wide eyes as black ink seemingly bleeds from his pinkie up to the middle of his forearm. It forms a trail of insects with wings spread out, a little circle that resembles a halo forming at the rear ends. A shade of blue lightly dusts at both sides and the overall formation looks like they’re going somewhere. Are these… fireflies?
He looks at the stranger, now hand clutching at the side of his neck that has been stung, a mix of panic, hurt and shocked expression on his face. When he finally removes the hand, there sits a prominent, yellow circle with little craters. It’s surrounded by a cloud of black and white, highlighting it in a strange way. A moon, Tsukishima thinks to himself.
They meet eyes.
There was a moment, both still shocked and trying to absorb what just happened.
The stranger then grins, and Tsukishima suspects it might just be a trick of the light, but pink seemingly dust his cheeks. He speaks.
“Well, I guess you definitely have to tell me your name now.”
Tsukishima doesn’t answer, feeling heat crawl up his neck.
“I’m Kuroo Tetsurou,” the stranger, his soulmate, apparently, continues, “twenty-six, scorpio, my birthday is on—“
“Stop,” Tsukishima says, “Can you—can you please stop talking, for a minute?”
“Only if you tell me your name,” Kuroo replies with a smirk.
“Tsukishima Kei,” he yields as he approaches the other again, “now shut up so I can concentrate on finishing your stitches.”
Kuroo gives him a smile as an answer.
It didn’t really take long, and with a final tape on the gauze, they’ve wrapped up.
A beat of silence and Tsukishima opens his mouth, “Are you staying the night?”
Hesitation apparent on his face, Kuroo answers, “I might. I’m still not sure if I’ve been followed or something. I’ll sleep on your couch.”
“What are you doing, exactly?” Tsukishima asks as he goes back to his room. He picks up a pillow and a blanket. With an afterthought, he picks up one of his clean shirts and gives them to Kuroo.
“Oh, I’m a secret agent,” the raven answers with a grin.
He goes back to his room and slams the door, shower be damned.
He ignores an exclamation of “But it’s the truth!” as he tosses himself onto the bed and closes his eyes.
Tsukishima wakes up to an empty house, a wrapped meal on the table and a note that says:
“Good morning, Tsukki! I cooked breakfast for you <3 Thank you so much for your services, I’ll come back soon! –Kuroo”
Tsukishima finds himself at loss of reactions and words.
Kuroo traipses in their headquarters, the usual blue and grey now a bit brighter in his eyes. It looks like a normal office, except for the fact that it’s underground. The wide hallways are buzzing with people as usual, hurrying here and there; newbies receiving their first missions and regulars finishing reports and paperwork. He cheerfully greets the people he passes by. Some of them give him an odd look, probably because news of him not coming back has already spread around, before returning the acknowledgement, but he pays no heed.
He enters the office that he, Bokuto and Akaahi shares, and sees the two just about to go out.
“Where are you going?” He says as a greeting.
“Bro!” Bokuto yells and runs up to him to engulf him in a big hug.
Kuroo braces himself for the impact, but winces all the same as his friend wraps him up in a big hug. “Bro! You’re okay!” The black and white-haired boy exclaims, and Kuroo smiles wide as he pats the other man’s back, and makes an eye contact with Akaashi. Bokuto brings down a heavy hand on his injured shoulder and he lets out a loud yelp.
Bokuto startles and hurriedly mumbles an apology. Akaashi gives him a questioning look.
“’Kaashi,” he says as he gives the other man a sheepish grin. Bokuto detaches from him.
“We were just about to launch a search party for you. Where did you go?”
“We were worried, Kuroo-san,” Akaashi replies, as he moves to take his accessories off, seeing that the person they’re about to search for is already here.
“Sorry, I just had to lose trail. It was a good opponent. I wasn’t able to go back on time because—“
“What’s that, Kuroo? On your neck?” Bokuto questions.
Hearing this, Kuroo instinctively slaps a hand on the said area.
Seeing this reaction, Bokuto gives a dramatic gasp, “Is it what I think it is?!”
“Bokuto-san,” Akaashi says, a little warning, mild. But as someone who has known him for a long time, Kuroo knows he’s a bit excited.
Kuroo sighs, knowing he owes them the story.
“My soulmate is a secret agent, Yamaguchi. How do you expect me to wrap my head around that?”
Yamaguchi laughs, laughs, and flips the page of the book he’s reading, “Maybe it’s not that bad, Tsukki.”
“Not that bad?” He exclaims, not that bad he says, “Our meeting had involved him pointing a gun at me and I ending up having to stitch a gunshot wound,” he says as he absentmindedly rubs the trail of fireflies that has been inked on his left hand the moment he came in physical contact with a certain rooster-headed spy.
“Are you even sure you should be telling me this? That your soulmate is a secret agent? What if someone hears you?”
Tsukishima’s face immediately reddens, “We’re inside my house and we’re literally the only people here.”
Yamaguchi grins, “What if you’ve been discovered as a spy’s soulmate and your house had been bugged? What if---“
“What if you shut---“
The doorbell rings, and they look at each other.
Tsukishima opens the door, and there stands Kuroo Tetsurou in his full glory and goofy grin; clad in a turtleneck white sweater, black leather pants, dark green coat and casual brown sneakers. Are those flowers?
The autumn wind blows, and Tsukishima shivers.
“Hi,” Kuroo starts, sheepish, blush high on his cheeks. Maybe it’s from the cold.
Tsukishima slams the door.
Barely recovering, the door opens again, and there stands a smaller, green-haired freckled guy.
He gives Kuroo a grin, “Sorry, Tsukki’s a bit… surprised,” he emphasizes. “But he’ll be out soon.”
Kuroo stretches out a hand, “I’m Kuroo Tetsurou, Tsukki’s,” he hesitates, “uhm.”
The other one shakes it, smiling, “Yes. I’m Yamaguchi Tadashi, Tsukki’s bestfriend.”
The door opens wider then, revealing Tsukishima with his brown coat haphazardly thrown on top of his cream sweater and jeans. He’s pointedly not looking at Kuroo, and there’s a red prominent on his cheeks. Ah, pretty.
Kuroo turns to Yamaguchi with a small smile, “then if you’ll excuse us.”
Tsukishima sees an evil glint from his best friend’s eyes as said best friend waves them goodbye.