Tsukishima patted his face dry and squinted into the bathroom mirror. Even without his glasses, he could see the dark circles forming under his eyes. He was sleeping okay in the Shiratorizawa dorm; the bunks were surprisingly comfortable, and his roommates weren’t too annoying. The grueling training during the day, however, was starting to take its toll.
He sighed and put his glasses back on, whipping the towel over his shoulder. The bathroom door opened just as he was about to reach for it and Kunimi shuffled through it, looking just as exhausted as Tsukishima felt. He startled when he spotted Tsukishima standing there but relaxed once he recognized him.
“Ah, it’s just you.”
“No worries. There are no idiots currently in the vicinity.”
Kunimi huffed out a laugh and dragged his feet to one of the sinks. “They’re close enough. I could hear a couple of their voices all the way down the hall.”
“Hmm, headphones it is.”
“You’re lucky you can just close yourself off. Kindaichi would get mad if I do.”
“He seems to get along with the others well enough.”
“Yeah, but he thinks it would be good for me to interact.”
Tsukishima snickered as Kunimi’s face scrunched up with disgust. “Just tell him we talked and maybe it’ll get him off your back.”
“Hm, I’ll give it a shot. Good luck yourself.”
Tsukishima took a deep breath and left the sanctuary of the bathroom, immediately hearing the excited voices coming from their room. He winced, recognizing one in particular that shouldn’t even be there.
Honestly, what else did I expect?
Movement in his peripheral vision pulled at his attention further down the hall but by the time he turned his head, there was nothing. He couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was there, just out of sight. There were many students living in the dorm, however, so he shrugged it off and continued toward his dorm room, ignoring the goosebumps prickling the back of his neck.
He was already rolling his eyes as he slid open the door, immediately spotting Hinata sitting cross-legged on Koganegawa’s bed with his back against the wall. Despite it being a narrow bunk bed, both Goshiki and Koganegawa were sitting on opposite ends with their legs stretched out in front of and behind Hinata. The smallest idiot didn’t seem to mind at all being sandwiched between the two and his head swiveled around like an owl as he tried to talk to both.
Even Hyakuzawa was lounging on the floor in front of the bed, observing the energetic trio with the calm interest one watches a wild animal documentary. Kindaichi snickered across the room and Tsukishima glanced up at him lounging on the top bunk he shared with Kunimi. His phone was out but Kindaichi’s eyes were on the others, finding them more entertaining than whatever was displayed on his screen.
It figured. He overheard Yachi once describe Hinata like a sun and as sappy as it sounded, he agreed with it. Wherever he went, Hinata drew people to him with his energy and warmth. For some reason, people couldn’t get enough of him when Tsukishima couldn’t even get away from him for a few minutes.
That’s the reason his irritation was spiking, of course. It had nothing to do with Goshiki’s blush as Hinata complimented one of his straights from earlier. Or the way Koganegawa grabbed Hinata’s shoulder to get his attention, touching him so easily. Kindaichi’s affectionate smile is probably for all of them, not just for Hinata, so he shouldn’t want to slap it off his face either.
Yup, definitely time for headphones, Tsukishima thought as he tore his eyes away from the bruises decorating Hinata’s legs and darted for his bed. He was relieved his bunkmate was Kuroishi from Hakusuikan, who had brain cells reserved for things other than volleyball. That, and Kuroishi was fine with taking the top bunk which meant all Tsukishima had to do was fish his headphones out of his bag and flop onto his bed; no climbing involved.
He sighed as he spread out over his mattress, wishing he could spend an entire day relaxing on it. In that position, his muscles didn’t throb so much and flexing his feet nearly made him moan with pleasure. His mood was already improving as he slipped his headphones over his ears and played the first song on his playlist.
It wasn’t unusual for him to stay awake for a while once settling into bed. He enjoyed immersing himself in his music and allowing all the thoughts from the day to flutter out of existence, leaving his mind delightfully empty when his eyes finally began to shut. Only this time, not all his thoughts would go away. He was still painfully aware of Hinata still loitering around in their room, surrounded by his adoring fans. Tsukishima was also aware of Hinata’s gaze lingering on him, infecting him with a strain of guilt that he hadn’t spoken to him once since entering the room.
It shouldn’t matter, they’d seen each other all day. And he shouldn’t feel guilty; this was his time to be alone and not speak to anyone.
Don’t do it… don’t look over there…
Tsukishima’s eyes flickered over to Koganegawa’s bed, immediately meeting Hinata’s.
Hinata was leaning forward, watching him curiously with a little pout on his lips. Koganegawa and Goshiki continued their conversation right over his head, not even noticing Hinata’s distraction. That irritated Tsukishima as well, immediately berating himself for being bothered by every little thing relating to Hinata. It wasn’t his business.
Hinata opened his mouth to say something but frowned. He motioned for Tsukishima to take his headphones off and smirked when Tsukishima glared back at him.
Don’t give in… just ignore him…
It would have been easier to ignore the sun. Tsukishima huffed and propped himself on his elbows, slipping his headphones down to his shoulders.
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
“Listening to music.”
“Wooooow, there is a working brain in that head.”
“But I don’t understand why you needed to bother me when it was so painfully obvious what I was doing.”
“I just wanted to talk to you.”
“Talk to me tomorrow. You shouldn’t even be here.”
Hinata wrinkled his nose and stuck out his tongue. “You’re not my boss, Stingyshima.”
“It’s not my decision to force you to leave every night, even though I’m perfectly okay with not seeing your face for a while.”
Tsukishima smirked as Hinata’s face contorted with rage. It wasn’t as intimidating as his freaky stare and made him look like a constipated chipmunk.
“Damn, that’s kind of harsh, isn’t it?” Kindaichi asked, peering down at him from the next bunk over.
“It’s okay, this is normal for us.”
“Hinata, you put up with this all the time?”
“Yeah, someone has to. Otherwise, Tsukki’s only friend would be Yamaguchi.”
Tsukishima rolled his eyes. Had it been just him and Hinata, he could have snapped a comeback at him that would have knocked him off the bed. But with Hinata’s cheering squad surrounding them, it was nearly impossible to get a word in.
“Is that true?” Kindaichi asked once the others calmed down. “Would you only have one friend?”
Tsukishima shrugged. “What’s wrong with that? Who needs to make friends everywhere they go like some idiots do?”
“Hm, seems like that touched a nerve,” Kindaichi said softly, loud enough for only Tsukishima to hear. The others had already gone back to their conversation and Hinata’s eyes no longer lingered on Tsukishima.
With Hinata distracted, Tsukishima narrowed his eyes up at Kindaichi and his stupid pointy hair. “What nerve?”
“You were pretty specific there. Getting a little jealous?”
“There’s no way I’m jealous. That’s ridiculous.”
“The question is,” Kindaichi continued, ignoring Tsukishima completely as he scratched his chin, “are you jealous of Hinata for having so many friends? Or perhaps you’re jealous over Hinata because you’d prefer to keep him all to yourself?”
“I think the real question is, are you losing brain cells hanging out with this group? Because that’s what it seems like to me.”
Kindaichi laughed and shuffled onto his stomach, apparently eager to continue the conversation that was grueling to Tsukishima. His chipperness seemed immune to Tsukishima’s glare and he remembered that Kunimi was Kindaichi’s best friend and he was probably used to it already. Tsukishima wondered what god he pissed off to deserve this and wondered if he’d receive more shit if he put his headphones back on and covered his face with the sheet.
Everyone flinched when the door suddenly wrenched open across the room and a glowering Kunimi was shoved inside. Tsukishima couldn’t see who had tossed him in, but no one had a chance to look when the door slammed shut and the lights went out. Haunting moans and terrifying cackles mixed with the sounds of shrieks and yells from the more excitable members of their group, and Tsukishima was beginning to think he pissed off a whole army of gods with his luck.
“I can’t see anything!”
“What are those noises?!”
“Tendou-san! I know it’s you, cut it out!”
“What if it’s not Tendou-san?!”
“It-it is! I’m sure of it.”
Tsukishima picked up his pillow and smothered it over his face with a whimper. It figured the Shiratorizawa team would try to play pranks on them when they were already exhausted. He tried to ignore the mayhem of the room, but it was too loud. Especially when he could hear Hinata’s frightened voice among them. He hated how easy it was for him to focus only on that.
With a huff, he threw his pillow to the side and sat up. Several people already had their phones out to shine some light into the room and Tsukishima could already see the vague outline of Hinata’s terrified face. It was kind of hilarious if he was honest. But another feeling entirely began to muffle everything else, an overwhelming urge to protect Hinata and soothe his worries.
Tsukishima braced himself on the mattress to stand up and walk over to him, but another figure stepped in front of him and blocked Hinata from view.
“Hey, it’s okay, Hinata,” Kindaichi said soothingly, his arms reaching out in front of him. Tsukishima glared at his back, willing him to combust into flames. Unfortunately, he had no ability to start a fire at will and Kindaichi remained unharmed. He figured Hinata would try to wave him off, feigning his own bravery as he trembled. Tsukishima took comfort in that fact. It wasn’t as if Hinata could be calmed down by someone he barely knew like that Seijoh wing spiker.
“Kindaichi!” Hinata cried, and Kindaichi’s back stiffened as Hinata jumped into the air and landed in his arms.
With the way the cell phone lights were flickering around the room, he could no longer make out the details of Hinata’s face, just the outline of his body melded together with Kindaichi’s. Tsukishima stared at their silhouette, the eeriness of the situation and the chaotic noises filling the room enhancing the feeling that he had stumbled into a nightmare instead of it being reality. His lips twisted as his stomach seemed to clench up as tight as a paper wad. He knew that the chance of a lifetime had been right in front of him, and it was wrenched away from him before he even realized it was what he wanted. Why did he fight so hard against it? What was the point of denying Hinata when deep inside all he wanted to do was indulge him? But there it was, right in front of his eyes, the sign that he was too late.
He wasn’t even sure how to feel; it wasn’t as if he had the right to be angry. It was his own fault for constantly pushing Hinata away when he wanted to do the opposite. What was there to do now? Was he supposed to give up?”
Tsukishima’s eyes flashed in the darkness, narrowing in on Kindaichi as he carried Hinata around the room. Everyone had calmed down a little, but the annoying pranksters were still carrying on outside the door. Tsukishima’s eyes had adjusted enough to see a clear path and he launched himself off the bed, weaving his way through his temporary teammates.
“Here, I’ll take him,” he said, putting a hand on Kindaichi’s shoulder to turn him around.
“Tsu-Tsukishima?” Hinata whined, hesitantly holding his arms out for him instead.
“Get down on your own feet, you’re too heavy for me to carry.”
In the light of someone’s cell phone, Tsukishima could see Hinata’s glare that wasn’t the least bit intimidating.
“That’s because you’re too weak!”
He hopped out of Kindaichi’s arms and crossed them in front of his chest. Tsukishima smirked down at him, pleased that Hinata was no longer scared and he had successfully extracted him from Kindaichi’s embrace. He kept his gaze on Hinata, however, determined not to meet Kindaichi’s face knowing exactly what his expression would be.
“Where’s your stuff? Your bag and jacket?”
“Uh, over on Koganegawa’s bed.”
“I can’t see!”
Tsukishima sighed and yanked out his own cell phone. He flipped on the flashlight and illuminated the way to Koganegawa’s bed. Luckily most of their roommates were by the door, trying to get out, and the path was mainly clear. Tsukishima grabbed Hinata’s jacket and tossed it in his face before reaching back for his bag.
“Come on, put the jacket on while you’re at it.”
“Jeez, what’s your hurry?”
“You’re not allowed to spend the night, so how late do you want to be biking home when it’s this cold out?”
“Ok, but they locked the door.”
Tsukishima sighed and waited until Hinata had at least one arm through his jacket sleeve. Once his hand was free, Tsukishima grabbed it and pulled him across the room toward the windows. He pressed his lips together, attempting to will his heart to slow down at the sensation of Hinata’s small hand in his. He wished he didn’t have to let go but he didn’t allow himself to dwell on it as he released it, occupying himself instead with unlatching the window.
As he pushed it open, he winced at the cold air blasting against his face. He poked his head out and looked down; since they were on the first floor the ground was an easy distance for him to reach. He tossed Hinata’s bag out and braced himself on the window frame.
“Tsukki! What are you doing?!”
“Relax, I’m helping you out.”
Hinata sputtered random noises but Tsukishima ignored them as he hopped into the window and lunged out of it, landing lightly on the grass. He shivered and rubbed his arms, wishing he had put on a jacket as well. At least he wouldn’t be outside for very long.
He turned around and stepped toward the window, the inside of the room still pitch-black except for the streams of light flickering around from everyone’s cell phones. A sliver of moonlight illuminated Hinata’s face as he leaned in to the window, making his skin seem paler than usual. He looked nervous as he looked around at whatever dangers could be lurking outside. All his fear melted away, however, when Tsukishima reached up and touched one of his hands.
“It’s alright. No one’s out here but me. Come on.”
Hinata smiled. Not one of his blinding ones when he was full of pointless energy, but something soft. Something meant for Tsukishima alone. To his own astonishment, he smiled back.
He slipped his hand off Hinata’s, allowing him to grab hold of the window and hop up into it. Tsukishima stifled a laugh, seeing how easily Hinata could fit his entire body into the window frame and still have room around himself. Hinata crouched down on the ledge, readying himself to leap off it. He would have been fine doing that but instead, Tsukishima stepped forward and held his arms out.
Hinata’s gasp was almost unheard as he stared at him in disbelief. Tsukishima could feel a blush forming on his cheeks, but he shrugged it off as he glared at Hinata impatiently and gestured with his fingers. He watched as Hinata’s throat bobbed, his warm brown eyes studying Tsukishima as if trying to decide whether or not to trust him.
Tsukishima forced himself to remain steady even though the embarrassment was almost too much to bear. He relaxed as Hinata finally slipped his legs out and perched himself on the ledge. Bending forward, he braced his hands against Tsukishima’s shoulders as Tsukishima enveloped Hinata’s slim waist with his hands.
He glanced up as Hinata hovered over him, a strange sight from the usual way he loomed over Hinata. His heart was pounding in his ears and he prayed that Hinata couldn’t hear it as well. Licking his lips, Tsukishima squeezed Hinata’s waist and pried him away from the ledge.
Hinata squeaked and lurched forward, his arms and legs wrapping around Tsukishima like a koala bear on a tree trunk.
“Wha— get down!”
“I’m trying! Stop wobbling!”
“I told you that you were too heavy. How can anyone so small weigh so much?”
“It’s called muscle, Tsukki, you should get some!”
“Seriously, unlatch your legs, idiot.”
Hinata huffed but did as he was told. With his legs loose and dangling, he slid slowly down Tsukishima’s front until his feet hit the ground. As he looked up to glare at Tsukishima, they both froze. Their arms were still around each other, Hinata’s hands still circled around Tsukishima’s neck. Their bodies were pressed together and the heat passing between them was keeping Tsukishima warm in the frigid winter air.
A loud noise from inside the room startled them and they both sprang away from each other at the same time.
“Don’t mention it.”
“I’ll just be…”
Even in the moonlight, Tsukishima could see Hinata’s face darkening in shade as he brushed by him. Tsukishima turned to watch him go, relieved he didn’t need to deal with his feelings anymore but feeling miserable as well. Hinata was nearly to the path that would lead him to his bike when Tsukishima ran forward a few steps.
“Hey, be careful!”
Hinata whirled around, nearly stumbling over his feet.
“Be careful! There might be ice on the road, and we can’t afford for you to get injured. Nationals!” Tsukishima finished with an eye roll.
“Oh… yeah. You should get inside too, you’re probably freezing.”
“Right, I am.”
Tsukishima’s body shuddered as the wind picked up and he wrenched himself away from Hinata to head back inside.
“What?” he asked, pivoting on his foot to turn back.
Hinata’s smile was wide and blinding, challenging the moon as the official light source of the night. “Thank you!”
Hinata laughed. “You know.”
Before Tsukishima could question him further, Hinata shook his head and ran off toward the bike rack. Tsukishima turned around and rushed back to the window, a pleased smile spreading across his lips. He didn’t do anything but somehow, he felt like he had won something special.
“Ah, so romantic,” Kindaichi sighed from the window. Tsukishima stopped dead and glared up at him and Kunimi as they leered back at him.
“I didn’t know you could be so heroic, Tsukishima. Didn’t think you had the energy,” Kunimi snickered.
“Seriously, even leaping out a window into the cold winter air to rescue his love. It’s like something out of Shakespeare.”
“Piss off, I just wanted a little peace and quiet.”
“Uh-huh, sure,” Kindaichi laughed. Kunimi gave him a wink as he moved away from the window. The lights were already back on and everyone seemed settled down, much to Tsukishima’s relief. He glared, however, when Kindaichi didn’t move away, instead leaning further out the window.
“Are you going to move?”
“No, I was going to help you. Come on,” he offered and stretched out his hand.
Tsukishima grunted but accepted it regardless. It was far easier jumping out of the window than getting back in, especially with the amount of energy he’d already expended that day. As Kindaichi helped him in, a wave of warm air greeted him like a hug, and he felt like he could have passed out right there from the soothing sensation.
“Seriously though, are you going to stop denying it now?”
Tsukishima grunted as his feet hit the floor and he straightened up to glare in Kindaichi’s face. He hated it that they saw exactly eye-to-eye and he couldn’t hover over him like he could with other people.
“Stop denying what?”
Kindaichi smirked. “Go ahead and pretend, Tsundere-kun. You’ll have your precious peace and quiet soon enough when someone a bit braver comes along and steals Hinata’s heart.”
“Oh yeah? Who would want it?”
Kindaichi laughed and patted Tsukishima on the back. “Just about everybody.”
He left Tsukishima to climb into his own bunk as everyone else did the same. Tsukishima shivered as the cool air from the window blew on his neck and turned around to shut it. He paused, staring out to see if he could catch sight of Hinata, but by that time he was probably already gone. All he could see was his own reflection staring back at him.
He looked away from the sight of his own tired eyes and pulled the window closed, latching it for good measure. Kindaichi’s warning echoed in his mind and he couldn’t help glancing around the room at his potential rivals. Surely Hinata wouldn’t be interested in a goofball like Koganegawa.
But Hinata’s the biggest goofball of them all; they would have more in common than we would.
Out of the entire group, it was Kindaichi that Tsukishima was most suspicious of. He didn’t want to admit it, but he wasn’t bad looking and he was just the right mixture of goofy and mature. But would he go after Hinata knowing how Tsukishima felt?
Tsukishima dove into bed and slipped his headphones over his ears, ready to shut out the world. His thoughts, however, weren’t quite finished with the subject and the peace and quiet he craved seemed like an impossible dream. He hated being goaded into anything, but he knew he had to take Kindaichi’s warning seriously.
If he allowed someone to sneak in and steal Hinata’s heart before he could, he knew that his existence would be quieter but there wouldn’t be anything peaceful about it. It would be colder and lonelier without Hinata’s eyes on him or his incessant chatter assaulting his ears. The thought stirred him up, reminiscent of that moment when he discovered his love for volleyball. If it was to be a war, he was ready to win it. What use was his pride when he could lose Hinata for good?