Summer sounds like many things.
It's the hum of cicadas, the roar of laughter, the crash of waves.
Or, in one Tsukishima Kei's case, it's the sound of groans, a faulty fan, and plastic bottles chock full of chemicals being shaken hastily.
Kei's nose turns upwards at the smell of bleach and various hair dyes filling the hot and humid air. Combined with the stench of three and a half sweaty teenagers (Hinata didn't count for one whole one in his book, though his armpits had to be worth four) the smell alone is deadlier than pure ammonia in a vacuum sealed room.
"Can someone remind me why we're doing this again?" Kei groans, digging the heel of his palm against his eyelids, his glasses get pushed up against the edge of his hairline haphazardly.
"Because," Hinata responds, "I wanted to dye my hair cool colors like Noya-senpai, and Yachi wanted to do it too!"
"Okay, then tell me why the hell am I here??"
"Because your friend canceled on you last second," says the elephant in the room, "and you have nothing better to do."
Kei squints his eyes at the worst offender, "and why, if I can be so bold to ask, are you here??"
Kenma shrugs, "I was in the area."
"You live in Tokyo, how the hell were you in the area?"
"T-Tsukishima-kun don't be mean!" Yachi squeaks, her voice is a bit muffled behind her face mask, but at least she can breathe. Kei regrets not following suit and bringing one more than anything, "Kozume-san is the only one of us with experience in this stuff so we should be thankful they're here!"
"YEAH Stingyshima! Play nice, asshole!!" Hinata shouts in his Kei's direction.
His voice is far too loud for the throbbing heatstroke blooming in Kei's cranium. Not to mention his clothes are covered in bleach, probably a result of his incessant wild gesturing.
Kei grimaces at the sight.
"Shut up, Shrimp," He says.
"Are you both elementary kids...?" Kenma sighs, putting the brush in their hand down.
Kei rolls his eyes.
"Um, are you guys done mixing yet?" Yachi looks between the three teens in front of her, her eyes almost look glazed over.
Kei is starting to wonder if she's regretting this as much as he is.
"Yup, nearly!" Hinata stirs the bowl in his arms as if to prove a point, "Kenma how is yours going?"
"I've been done for a while now."
"WHAT?!" Hinata's eyes grow twice their original size at that, and his stirring goes frantic, "Ah fuck I gotta work quicker then-!"
Kei grimaces again. His face is threatening to be stuck in a permanent scowl at this point, and he's starting to plan out a suitable punishment for Yamaguchi after leaving him to fend for himself.
"It's only hair dye Shouyou," Kenma says, amusement apparent on their face, "you can chill you know."
"I wish I could chill..." Yachi says. She's slowly drooping onto the carpeting of her apartment, like a very anxious rendition of an unwatered daffodil.
Well, it's going to be something more like a pink daisy soon enough.
Kenma hums, and stands up from where they were camping against Yachi's couch, "do you have any ice-cream?"
Yachi seems to take longer than usual to compute the question, and longer to actually come up with an answer. Once she does though she stands up and makes a reasonably loud 'aah' sound in response.
"We do," she says, "my mom said she brought some leftovers home from a garden party she had at work!! Tsukishima-kun could you come help me carry it back?"
Kei grunts but doesn't make any movement to disagree. He walks with Yachi to her modest but stylishly decorated kitchen and watches her grab five packets from the freezer, before crouching down in front of it for a second and sighing happily. He moves to stand behind her, catching the cool residual air and breathes a sigh of relief.
The two of them scoop up the ice cream packets (all of which are melon flavored) right as Hinata starts to squawk about being finished with his mixing.
Kei throws one of the two packets he's carrying at Hinata's face and smirks when it gets him the desired reaction. He opens the other packet in his hand just as Hinata scowls at him, and Yachi hands Kenma one of the three she's balancing in her arms. She hands the other to Hinata, who beams up at her.
"You spoil him too much," Kei says around a small bite of ice. It actually tastes pretty good.
"You're just jealous because she loves me more than you!" Hinata bites back, though it's a little muffled through the lolly.
"I think it's more that she didn't want to get up and get another one when you ask for more" Kenma says, and Yachi goes a bit redder in shame.
"Um anyway, we should figure out who's getting what colors probably," Yachi says, putting the packet against her forehead, "so we don't mess anyone's hair up and finish more quickly."
"I'm getting red!" Hinata pipes up, already on his second packet, "No need for bleach with me either."
"The bleach is for me," Kenma says, licking a drop of ice cream that fell on their hand. Kei notes that they really do look like a cat when they do that, "but I'm getting purple ends after."
"And I'm getting pink!" Yachi nods. She seems very satisfied with their preparation for a second, but the satisfaction is short lived, "wait, why do we have blue hair dye then?"
Hinata blinks almost comically, and Kenma shrugs softly.
"For Yamaguchi probably," Kei says, "They did say they always wanted to try blue hair."
"Oh," Hinata scrunches up his face, "then that's a real waste..."
He looks at the plastic bottle Yachi was shaking a while ago and scrunches up his face in thought. Then Kei begins to wonder if it's too late to become a religious man, since Hinata's face lights up with what is undeniably the spark of a bad idea.
"So, Tsukishima-" he starts, a sly smile on his face.
"No." Kei deadpans.
He's not actually entirely sure if Hinata was about to suggest he bring the dye to Yamaguchi's place after they visit their ill great aunt or if he really truly and honestly thought that Kei would ever consider-
"You should use the hair dye yourself!" Hinata finishes, smiling like he's just solved the secret to world peace.
Kei just glares at him, and hopes that maybe if he does so with enough disgust Hinata will combust into a hundred tiny flames.
"Hinata I don't think that's such a good idea-" Yachi starts, the workshops the third years had given her in diffusing situations like these starting to shine through.
"I'm not going to do that." Kei says. He's got half a mind to stand up and leave just then when-
"I think you'd look nice in blue."
All at once the three first years turn their heads towards Kenma. They're fiddling with their phone, acting like they'd rather be anywhere else in the world, but Kei can see the start of the tell-tale smirk that signifies that they're plotting something and he knows to be wary. Whatever this cat is planning Kei won't fall for it (now if only his ears weren't starting to warm up).
"Don't you think Tsukki would suit blue hair, Shouyou?" Kenma says, voice even but eyes glittering with mischief as they look towards Hinata.
Hinata himself looks as though he wants to start a fight for a second, but he must've seen something in Kenma's expression because he puffs up his cheeks in defeat.
"I guess so," he grumbles, looking down with his face growing a deeper red than before "I mean anyone kind of looks cute in blue, so Stingyshima is no exception."
Kei narrows his eyes at both of the volleyball players in the room. He pushes up his glasses with more fingers than necessary and feels his burning cheeks against his palm. A quick look towards Yachi shows that she's just as stunned as him, but the difference is that she's showing it outwardly as well as inwardly.
"You're not going to sweet talk me into this you know," he says, trying to put as much venom into it as he can, turning to grab his bag from behind him in an attempt to hide his face discreetly.
Not that he thinks a technique like that would work on Kenma, but at least Hinata was still an idiot.
"U-um-!" Yachi starts, her face redder than the start of the day, "the blue dye is only temporary Tsukishima-kun, so if you do want to try it it's going to wash out before the next training camp anyway!"
Kei clicks his tongue. She really is benefitting from those silly workshops.
"Fine, but I get to choose who does my hair myself."
Hinata cheers and high fives Kenma, who's expression looks like they just won Nationals twice and barely moved a finger.
The rest of the afternoon goes by quickly after that, and each one of them takes turns doing someone else's hair.
They start with Yachi since she's the least likely to either fidget or refuse, and Kenma demonstrates how to apply the creamy paste onto someone else's hair while not missing any patches.
They work fairly evenly while Kei and Hinata argue over something or another. Kenma's hands massage careful repetitive shapes into Yachi's hair. It seems really relaxing for both of them, if the way Yachi melts into the contact with a happy sigh, and the way Kenma keeps up a small smile throughout the whole process as they rhythmically move their fingers on her scalp, are any indication.
During their conversations Kenma reveals that they're the one who tends to dye both Bokuto and Yamamoto's hair. The former Kei isn't so surprised about but the latter's bleached mohawk is actually quite professional looking, and spoke volumes on Kenma's experience with the subject.
Soon Yachi is in a plastic cap and a timer is set up. They then start the tedious process of attempting to dye Hinata's hair.
In return for having Yachi be the one to dye Kei's hair he's placed in the unfortunate position of having to be the one to wrangle Himata into staying still enough for him to do his job.
"Stop bouncing Hinata, I'm going to smudge all this dye in your face at this rate." Kei threatens, the dyeing brush in one hand and a bottle in the other.
"I can't help it!! I'm just really excited about this so I keep moving!" In his defense Hinata does look guilty about his inability to stay still.
"Maybe if we give him something to fidget with he'll stop bouncing?" Yachi supplies, a thoughtful look on her face, "it works for me when I'm nervous or if I'm just having a really stimmy day."
Kenma shakes their head, "Me and Shouyou tried that before, it didn't work on him."
Hinata visibly deflates, but he still doesn't stop bouncing, "I'm never going to get my hair dyed at this rate..."
"Maybe that's for the best," Kei says, and Yachi glares at him in return.
"Well," Kenma starts, "there is one thing we could try that works on Bokuto..."
Kenma blushes and looks away, and Kei can already tell that he's going to regret his next question.
"What is it?"
"Well, if Shouyou is using his whole body to stim," Kenma starts, carefully, "then giving him something as big as or bigger than him will be enough, right?"
Hinata's eyes light up as his entire body perks up towards Kenma. Kei quietly stares at Kenma, both of them probably know that Hinata hasn't figured it out yet.
"But where can we find something like that?" Yachi asks, just as oblivious.
Kei grimaces again and decides to bite the bullet, though at this point his entire diet might as well be bite-sized iron and gunpowder pellets.
"I'm pretty sure most people are bigger than Hinata, Yachi," Kei scoffs, "that is what you mean, right?"
Hinata's eyes widen and he starts to blush as well. Kei isn't going to start blaming the weather for all the redness thats been appearing in any of their cheeks now.
Kenma clears their throat and hides behind their bangs, "if you're okay with that Shouyou, then we could try it."
"Of course!" Hinata answers, both too quickly and too loudly. How eager. "I mean that's the only way right?"
"Right." Kei says, sarcasm dripping off his voice like hair dye off his gloved fingers.
Yachi blushes enough for the three of them combined, she shuffles off into the kitchen with a loud sound that could almost be "I'll go get us drinks" if you put it through five translators and slowed it down fifteen times.
Eventually Kenma grabs the hairband Yachi had been wearing (it was a cherry this time, not her usual stars) and pulls their hair up into a messy high ponytail. They then move up next to Hinata before gingerly sitting in his lap, legs thrown to one side of him.
Hinata stills for a second before trying to bury his face in Kenma's shoulder. This makes them giggle and push Hinata back.
The exchange makes Kei's chest do strange things.
"You're going to get dye on my top Shouyou," Kenma says, petting Hinata's shoulder gingerly.
Hinata mumbles an apology then moves his hands around Kenma's waist. They both look at each other for a moment and Kei could practically feel the fondness radiating off them in waves. Kenma's hand is still on Hinata's shoulder but his other has somehow migrated to Hinata's waist, the touch is so gentle and intimate that for a second he almost feels like the two of them had forgotten he was even there. Hell Kei barely feels like he's here himself; his heart is somewhere else entirely, feeling things he never really thought he ever would and somehow it's more overwhelming realizing they were always there than if he'd only just gotten them that second.
His whole world stills like that for a while, and then he hears someone clear their throat.
"So, are you going to dye my hair or not, Stingyshima??" Hinata grumbles, the edge in his voice softened by the glow of his face.
Kei blinks out of his thoughts and huffs. He drops a big dollop of cold hair dye onto Hinata's hair unceremoniously and snickers when Hinata squawks at the feeling.
It's then that Yachi comes back, a jug of lemonade in hand. She hands Hinata and Kenma a glass before grabbing a chair to sit next to them as Kei works.
For a while it works out okay. More than that even, for all the not-so-subtle homoeroticism that Kei had to endure watching, having Kenma in his lap does make Hinata stop bouncing. The combination of weight keeping his legs down and the way he fidgets with any part of Kenma he can reach- their hair, their sweater, their fingers, even their face for a short while- is enough of an output for the initial emotions the bouncing was attempting to release that he didn't need to do it anymore.
So it's ironic that the reason Kei is struggling isn't even Hinata's fault, but entirely his own.
"You should use your hands instead of that brush, probably." Kenma mumbled when there was a lull in the conversation between the four of them.
Yachi leaned over to get a better look at Hinata's hair, "oh you're probably right, you've missed a few bits Tsukishima-kun!"
Kei looks at the two of them in disgust, and it's enough for Yachi to start talking again.
"I won't do yours well if you can't extend the same kindness to Hinata too!" She puffs out.
Kei raises an eyebrow, "So Daichi taught you blackmail."
Yachi laughs a little, "actually, my mom did."
"Yikes!" Hinata says, loud as ever, "you heard the lady, do my hair properly bastard!! You won't even be touching my hair, you're wearing gloves."
Kei sighs as he carefully puts the brush down where he hopes it won't stain anything, he thinks that so long as Hinata stays in this strange still state of his there shouldn't be any unfortunate disasters for Yachi's mom to look forward to. What he was about to do however, was an unfortunate disaster designed just for him.
The other three continued to chat, as Kei mentally prepared himself. It's strange how two people as averse to socializing as Yachi and Kenma could find enough comfort in one another to talk as much as they did that afternoon, then again Hinata still did fill in most of the silences on his own.
Slowly, cautiously, as though Hinata's hair was made of molten lava, or some highly radioactive substance that humanity has no real defense against, Kei placed his fingers into Hinata's hair and cringed at the feeling.
It was slimy, and cold, and so so so incredibly gross.
You'd think that touching someone else's hair was an opportunity to get closer to them. Kei knew of multiple books (which he'd definitely borrowed from his brother. They weren't his. Nope.) where a situation like this would devolve into some kind of tongue sucking contest, but in the moment every one of Kei's nerves kicked in and the feeling was so disgusting he eventually had to physically recoil.
Yachi, the blessing she is, noticed the reaction and offered to take Hinata off his hands sympathetically. He gave her a look he hoped was genuine enough and left to wash his hands and grab his jacket to rid himself of the horrid feeling snaking across his skin.
As much as he'd like to say it's Hinata's fault for being disgusting, Kei had to admit it was most likely just the fact that he physically couldn't touch anything slimy or the texture would render him useless.
He silently curses his neurological shortcomings and sits where Yachi had not long before.
He receives a few worried glances but shrugs them off, and eventually the four of them go back to gentle bickering and conversation.
Kenma's bleaching went by without a hitch, although it was agreed upon that they would look quite strange when they eventually weren't reminiscent of cat-shaped pudding anymore. Hinata points out that the pink will just make them look like a strawberry and vanilla pudding instead, and for some reason the thought makes Yachi breathe out in relief.
Finally it's Kei's turn, and Yachi's timer goes off the moment he sits down.
Hinata goes to help her wash off her dye, and Kenma offers to take over dyeing Kei's hair themselves. No one opposes the idea, but the thought of Kenma's hands in his hair makes Kei queasy in a way he understands perfectly.
Though it's the thought of slimy, icky, gooey dye on his head that really makes him nervous.
Kenma must've picked up on it, because they tap Kei's shoulder gently and whisper in his ear, "if you can't handle how it feels you don't have to do it. I know I was the one who tried to get you to in the first place but..."
They trail off, and when Kei looks up at them he sees guilt, and a little sadness.
"I mean, I get it, is all," they say, so quietly Kei had to strain to hear it.
He looks at his hands lying on his lap. None of them have explicitly talked about it but they all know that all of them suffer from similar things. Other than bringing up stim toys, which they all knew were more or less a mainstream thing these days, they hadn't bothered to put a name to the reasons all of them were the way they are.
Yachi never gave a name to the reason she discreetly tugs the stars in her hair, the reason her nails are bitten to the quick, the reason why she finds herself forgetting basic information the moment she turns away yet can perfectly recall every trigonometric identity like it was her own name.
Hinata never gave a name to the reason he's always making noises, the reason why he can't help but jump and scream and holler, the reason why he can't sit still for more than twenty seconds in class but will be in such a focused state of mind he'll run into his own teammates during games.
Kenma never gave a name to the reason they avoid direct sunlight behind their hair, the reason they're always methodically tapping on their phone, the reason why they struggle be interested and say more than a few quiet words when in any regular situation yet their voice booms louder than any other in the most stressful and captivating moments of a match.
And Kei himself has never felt the need to give a name to why he is what he is either.
None for the encyclopedic knowledge he has on western indie music or the specifics of the jurassic period, none for the noise cancelling headphones he'll wear even while they're turned off during conversations, none for the way the ball hitting his aching arms after a perfect block feels like lightning in the best way possible, but touching a frog feels like lightning in the worst.
But they all know.
They understand each other quietly, support each other in their own ways.
They'll remind each other of the frozen ice-cream they forgot, they'll sit on each others laps, they'll strain their ears to catch the smallest of responses, and maybe, just maybe, they'll let each other get out of touching and feeling sensations they cannot stand.
Kei looks down at his hands, and he knows that if Yachi hadn't taken over, or if Hinata had pushed his luck, or if Kenma had just gone ahead and dyed his hair, he would've been in a pain he can't explain.
And he knows, he knows, that Kenma does get it.
It's then that Yachi comes back into the living room with the brightest smile on her face, her warm brown eyes made warmer by the lovely soft peach cascading onto her cheeks.
"Doesn't Yachi look amazing?!" Hinata jumps around her, like a crow who's just found a diamond.
Kenma hums in agreement and Yachi bursts with joy and color.
So when Kei catches her eye, he can't help but blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.
"I think I'll dye mine too, Kenma-san."
He doesn't need to look at Yachi nor Hinata to hear their celebration, but he does to see the joy on Kenma's face.
The process is less painful than Kei expected it would be. Kenma is quick to finish the job and quicker to start the timer, and while it's like pins and needles while their hands are in Kei's hair, the end result is easy enough to ignore and gives a nice coolness to the otherwise burning afternoon.
The sun begins it's slow decent outside, and Yachi makes sure to order them two pizzas- taking both Kei and Kenma's dietary preferences into account (no tomato sauce on one half and no olives nor onions on the other respectively).
Slowly the timers go off for each of their hair colors to be washed off.
Kei is roped into cleaning Hinata's hair for him after the dye is removed, and he's unsurprised to feel his heart stutter at the feeling of Hinata's wet scalp under his fingertips.
The result... is surprisingly good. Really good. Like Kei could almost compliment him good.
(He did in the end, in his own way.)
Kenma's alarm goes off next, and though they have to get Yachi to help put more dye in the tips of their hair to achieve the desired look, it's still a strangely uncomfortable experience for everyone, that's full of selfies from Hinata and group pictures of the four of them together.
Finally it's Kei's turn, and he doesn't think he's ever felt so nervous in his life.
He starts to second guess himself.
What would his parents say? Nothing, probably, Akiteru was always coming home with strange hair after all.
What would the school say? Nothing again, the lack of uniform and the relaxed attitude extends to hair too, and even Kei's homeroom teacher sported bright green hair these days.
What will he think of it himself? Will he regret it? Will he hate it? He could just wash it off enough times to get it off but...
Somehow it's none of these questions that worry him the worst, and for the first time that night he is surprised to realize that the reason he's worried was the reason his heart had been doing somersaults the whole time.
Because what will Kenma and Hinata think?
By the time Yachi is done with his hair, his thoughts have reached a point of no return. She wraps his head with a towel and then pushes him towards the bathroom mirror.
"Now for the moment of truth..!" She says, an excited edge to her voice.
When Kei removes the towel and sees himself in the mirror, he's surprised by the fact that... he's surprised.
Because Kenma was right, blue does suit him.
He gingerly touches the soft locks and looks at himself in the mirror. It's a deep blue, like the blue of the night sky. Combined with the yellow of his blond hair it has an almost teal twist to it, and Kei can't remember the last time he thought he actually looked really good before now.
"Tsukishima-kun..." Kei can see how wide Yachi's eyes have grown through the foggy mirror, "you look..."
Kei jumps at the sound of Hinata's voice, shocked into a blush.
He has to defend himself from Hinata trying to climb onto him for five minutes, and both Kenma and Yachi whisper amongst each other the entire time, never making a move to intervene. Kei hears the tail-end of an 'I was right' from Kenma, and the moment of hesitation is enough for Hinata to end up on his back, hands in Kei's hair like he's a giant puppy.
He hates how he doesn't hate the feeling at all.
Soon after, Kenma's hair is finished, and Hinata takes what seems like a hundred commemorative photos of the day.
He takes more when the pizza arrives, and one last one when they all say their goodbyes.
Yachi yawns into hers, but her smile never falters, the spitting image of a happy and healthy pink daisy.
It's amazing, Kei thinks again, how someone like her can change so much in the right company.
The remaining three walk part of the way together. Kenma needs to be taken to the station, on Kuroo's orders, or else they'd get lost again. Hinata had parked his bike near the station earlier that day, and he said he'd walk Kenma there too.
"So much for the 'I was in the area' excuse huh," Kei teased, and Kenma just smiled slyly in response.
Kei himself was going to take the bus partway, then walk the final fifteen minutes to Yamaguchi's house. They'd planned to sleepover together earlier that week, and Kei wasn't one to skip on quality time with his best friend, ill great aunt whatever be damned.
They reach the crossroads where they have to part quicker than Kei had anticipated. He can't say he's not disappointed, but he doesn't need to show it to feel it.
"Glad I'm finally getting you out of my hair," he says, putting on his headphones.
"Hey! You had Kenma in your hair more than me you know," Hinata responds, but his words lack any real jabs towards Kei.
"I was talking to both of you, idiot," Kei says, and it earns him a soft giggle from Kenma.
The three of them stop there for a moment, and Hinata's smile softens into something soft, something genuine.
"I'm glad you came today, Stingyshima," he says, his voice as close to a whisper as someone as loud as him can get it.
"I just had to fill in for Yamaguchi and the king, it's not like I did anything."
Kenma hums, "Hinata means he's happy you came today. He- we wanted you here. There. Today."
They're blushing, and Hinata follows suit.
Kei, never one to lose, blushes too.
Hinata clears his throat, "though I do wish Kageyama could've come, I wanted to dye his hair orange so there'll always be at least one ginger on the team."
Kei laughs a little despite himself, "and people say I'm cruel."
The air is light, and the sky is full of the last pale lights of the day. Tomorrow Kei will be home, doing school work. Hinata will be begging someone to help him train. Kenma will be under his covers playing a new game. The three of them will be at least an hour apart.
But right now? Right now the skyline is playing a tune just for them. The city is waking up and in her wake is emotions none of them will give a name too.
But, Kei hopes, maybe they all know.
Hinata takes in a shaky breath.
"Good night, Tsukishima," he breathes out.
"G'night Tsukki," Kenma echoes, just as quietly.
He looks at then both, and smiles just a little, before he turns his back to start walking.
"Night," he says, and then whispers, a barely kept secret, "stay safe."
He walks forward, and he hears their footsteps moving away from him.
Then something compells him to stop, to look back. If anyone asks why it is that he turns around right this moment, he would never be able to answer. But what he does know is that the sight of Kenma and Hinata, their bright hair silhouetted by the glare from the nearby glass giants, their hands linked together in the surest way he's ever seen, makes something move in him.
Because summer sounds like many things
It's the hum of cicadas, the roar of laughter, the crash of waves.
Or, in one Tsukishima Kei's case, it's the sound of mindless chatter with friends, of bird noises as a method of communication, of rhythmic tapping to the beat of a silent song.
It's the thought of holding two hands in his, of feeling two different kinds of hair beneath his fingertips, of letting two different people hold him tight, each of them with their own necessities and a mutual desire to cater to all of them.
Kei makes up his mind then, and he turns back and walks forward. And he doesn't turn around, doesn't falter and doesn't double-guess again for the rest of his journey.
Maybe by the end, he'll finally give it all a name.