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helter skelter (same shit, different day)

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By the middle of their second year, Tobio can sum up his interactions with Tsukishima in four words: same shit, different day.

Yamaguchi had always said they got along like oil and water. Tobio has never really understood what this means. He wouldn’t have given Tsukishima a second thought after considering his height if Tsukishima hadn’t thrown him such piercing jabs the first day they met. What had he wanted from him anyway? It isn’t Tobio’s fault if Tsukishima wants to act so… oily. (Or maybe Tobio’s the oily one? Whatever.)

To their credit, they don’t butt heads as often these days. Compared to their first year, the conflicts have been much fewer and farther between now than before. But every once in a while — a missed jump, his snide retorts, another mismatched hit — something will still happen to bring it all bubbling back up to the surface.

Thankfully, today’s practice had started out strong. It had begun with a good serve and has remained promising with each set. Every serve he hits, every connection made on court, each point scored from his tosses, leaves a pleasant tingle in his fingertips. He’d had an excellent pork curry bun earlier in the day and the effects have been favorable. The general feeling throughout his body is good all around. Better yet, the last three practices have been like this: uplifting, invigorating, weightless. A perfect lead up to the Interhigh preliminaries.

They have a practice match scheduled today with the neighborhood association and are now well into their third match. With a big tournament coming up, everyone has been fired up and determined to work as hard as possible over the next few days. Hinata, of course, never allowing Tobio a moment of rest. Their rhythm of call, toss, spike keeps him on his toes, in a good way. Despite having gone to Nationals the year before, the neighborhood association has been keeping up, although Tobio knows it’s mostly because Karasuno has been trying new things on the fly.

As the game progresses, the more energized Hinata seems to get. Tsukishima, on the other hand, not so much.

The first time he doesn’t jump as high as Tobio knows he can for a toss during the second set, Tobio holds back. He’s gotten a little better at pushing down the instinctive criticism that rises up in him, but the retort is still there on the tip of his tongue. As if Tsukishima had known exactly what he’d been thinking, however, he glances over at Tobio and scowls at the look on his face. Tobio doesn’t bother toning his expression down. He knows Tsukishima knows what he did wrong and there’s no reason to hide his displeasure at that.

They’re in the final set and losing by 2 points, with the neighborhood association at score 21, when it happens a second time. This time, it hadn’t been a jump for Tobio’s toss, but for an opposing spike Tsukishima definitely could have blocked.

And that marks the moment Tobio’s careful resolve goes to shit.

“I know you had a second jump in you!” he yells before he can stop himself.

Tsukishima is bent over trying to catch his breath with his hands on his knees. Sweat rolls down Tobio’s neck as well. He gets it. They’re all a little tired. But he’s played with Tsukishima long enough to know he can pull out more energy from his reserve than this miserable show of effort. They haven’t even been playing that long in comparison to when they were at nationals. There is no excuse.

“You don’t say?” he manages to rasp. “Well. My apologies, Your Majesty.”

Tobio’s jaw clenches and he takes a step forward.

“What did you—?”

“Don’t mind don’t mind!” Hinata suddenly yells as he slaps both of them behind the back. “We’ll get the next one!”

Tobio grumbles and returns to his position, rubbing his shoulder. It isn’t so much the lost point that angers him, but the sheer fact that Tsukishima is fully capable of pulling such a feat off, but didn’t .

Sufficiently pissed off, Tobio turns away from Tsukishima and tries to refocus as the neighborhood association gets ready to serve.

His mood doesn’t improve as the game goes on. They rally for a few turns, Tanaka spikes one in, Ennoshita is next to serve, and Tsukishima just barely hits the ball Tobio tosses to him in the next round. Stumbling forward after the spike, he glares at Tobio, as though daring him to say something. The notion sends another surge of anger coursing through his veins, and he has to fight the urge to shout even though they’ve just scored a point.

It’s a tense battle by the time it nears the third hour of practice. After seizing a deuce, their two teams have continued moving neck and neck, each barely allowing the other space to breathe.

They’re only one point away from losing the match when one of the opposing spikers attempts to hit a cross. Fortunately, Tsukishima’s successfully gotten a read on him, and his hand moves just in time to give it a one touch. By the time Nishinoya gets it back in the air, however, Tobio realizes at once the tricky position they’re in. In the split second before the ball falls into his palms, he sneaks a glance at the blockers on the other side — their gaze, their positions, their movements — the best option for his toss would be… but whether he’ll rise up to it or not… No. He has to. It’s the only way.

The moment the ball grazes his fingers, Tobio launches it off, sending it in the exact direction he means to — high above Tsukishima’s head. The trajectory follows a perfect arc as Tsukishima raises his hand, ready to spike, a horrified look in his eyes as he watches it soar right over his fingertips and straight out of bounds.

The thwack of the ball hitting the ground reverberates throughout the gym. Tsukishima lands on both feet with a loud thud as the high-pitched trill of a whistle signaling their loss pierces their ears. Straightening up, the middle blocker whips around towards Tobio with a thunderous glare on his face.

“A little warning next time you try and pull that maneuver on me again?”

Tsukishima wipes the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand while Hinata fetches the ball. Tobio doesn’t waver. His precision had been on point. The only thing missing is a few centimeters of Tsukishima’s jump.

“You were in the best position for that score!” he snipes back. “Why weren’t you more prepared?”

“Do you realize you were demanding a slide hit?” Tsukishima challenges. “At that angle and with such short notice? Completely reckless! Maybe you think you can pull off all these fancy moves yourself but if you haven’t noticed, the rest of us peasants aren’t all on your level!”

Tobio’s scowl deepens. “You had it in you, I know you did!”

Tsukishima narrows his eyes and steps forward. “I know how difficult it is for anything to penetrate that stubborn head of yours but as I’ve told you many times before, I’m not a machine! I’m not Hinata!”

“Which is why I set it to your perfect spike height, not his!” Tobio shouts, clenching his fists. Tsukishima’s insult rings like an incessant siren in his ears. He feels the familiar rage rise up in him, and it drives him forward despite the warning bells in his ears. “It’s not my fault you didn’t jump in time!”

“… Ah. My bad. Didn’t realize the tyrant king’s reign lasted all month.”

A vein pulses in Tobio’s temple. Gritting his teeth, he takes a step forward. His knees and arms shake from anger, rattling his chest with a sudden flare of desire to punch those stupid glasses straight into Tsukishima’s face.

“Come again?” he asks in a low, dangerous voice.

Right as Tsukishima is about to open his mouth, Tobio feels a pair of hands on his shoulders and is dragged backwards as someone from the team shoves him away from the net. He stumbles out of bounds and whips around to see Tanaka glowering at him with his arms crossed.

“Get a grip on yourselves!”

“Scary…” one of the first years whispers from the back.

“Man, this is like the third time this week…” another shivers beside them.

Ukai walks over to stand between them.

“I don’t think you two need to be told twice,” he says. “You’ve been teammates long enough and should know how to get along by now. Preliminaries is coming up in a week. Do better.”

Tobio catches Hinata hiding a snicker behind their coach out of the corner of his eye. With a loud huff, he turns away and walks off the court to retrieve his water bottle. Once they’ve all had a chance to rehydrate, the team gathers back together in the center of the gym, ready to hear the usual post-practice match spiel. Tobio continues to fume as Ukai starts to give them a rundown of the strengths they’ve displayed today and a few suggestions for what to work on for next week. He and Tsukishima stare determinedly ahead, both refusing to acknowledge the other. Once Takeda adds in his own piece, Ukai moves on to a pre-tournament pep talk and then finally, dismissal.

The second Ukai releases them, Tsukishima slaps his towel over his shoulder and bolts out the door. Displeasure twists in Tobio’s stomach at his harried movements but he tries to shove it aside. Fortunately, it’s a Friday, which means he won’t have to see Tsukishima over the weekend. Once Tsukishima is gone, Hinata turns his neck and throws Tobio an accusatory look.

“What?” he asks him once everyone leaves the gym. As per usual, Hinata had volunteered the two of them to stay behind and clean up the net when in actuality, they fully intend to continue practicing.

“Nothing,” Hinata says as he walks over to the cart. After grabbing a volleyball, he turns back to face him with a wide grin. Eyebrows raised, he tilts his head at Tobio, feigning innocence. “Well? Aren’t we going to play?”

Tobio narrows his eyes at him. If Hinata isn’t going to talk about it, then he certainly isn’t going to bring it up either.

“Yes,” he replies, whipping away from him to step back onto the court. “Obviously.”

“Yachi!!” Hinata cries out towards the exit where Yachi is just about to put on her jacket by the door. “Can you stay a bit longer?”

Their manager blinks and pauses her actions. “Oh — sure!”

Shrugging her outerwear back off, she joins them in the center of the court where the cart full of volleyballs sits waiting.

The ritual between the three of them is the same: Yachi throws, Tobio sets, Hinata spikes. For the next ten minutes, Tobio loses himself in deep focus, concentrating hard on each toss, tweaking every next one into perfect precision. They fall into an easy rhythm of call, toss, spike, call, toss, spike . Like always, the repetition mesmerizes him, lulls him into a comfortable flow, allowing most of the rage from the day to finally peel off and fall away.

Without fail, Hinata hits them all, sending a satisfying thwap reverberating each time his hand smacks the ball. Energized rather than drained from practice, his spikes only get more accurate with every toss Tobio shoots his way.

Hinata’s jumps have definitely improved a lot. They’re no longer the clumsy hoppity hops they used to be when they first joined Karasuno. There’s power and intent behind his kick offs and landings now. He’s come a long way since that day in the courtyard, back when he received with his face more than his arms, when they’d been practicing for hours so Tobio could guarantee his spot as a setter.

It’s funny to think about it now. He remembers that night vividly: how determined Hinata had been, how unnerving his tenacity was as he jumped back up every time, only to ask for one more throw. How they’d gotten the ball stuck in a tree and how neither of them ever seemed to be getting tired. They’d practiced well into the evening, only stopping because their session was interrupted when, out of nowhere, someone stuck out a hand to catch the ball above Hinata’s head, only for it to be none other than—

Tobio winces. The sudden memory of glinting glasses, curly blond hair, and a wily smirk flashes across his mind, sending a fresh burst of anger erupting in his chest.

When the ball falls to him, it barely grazes his palm before he sends it launching off in Hinata’s general direction, a lot harder and faster than he’d intended to.

“Wh-whoa!”

Hinata’s hand slips trying to hit the spike but his momentum propels him onward, arms scrambling as he crashes face first into the net.

“Are you okay?” Yachi frets at once, running up to him. Timid and worried as ever, she hovers awkwardly around the net, looking uncertain of how to help.

“I’m good, Yaachan!” Hinata cries out as he tries to disentangle himself. “Don’t worry!”

After removing one of his arms from a hole in the net, he drops back onto his feet and glares at Tobio. “What the hell was that?”

Tobio glares back, more out of instinct than reactive anger. He knows he’s the one at fault. In the short time span that he’d thrown the toss too hard, his breathing had gone ragged, just like it’d done that night in the courtyard after Tsukishima taunted him.

But he shouldn’t be letting Tsukishima get under his skin this much — it doesn’t make any sense that he does at all.

Still gasping for air, Tobio glances away and doesn’t respond. He wouldn’t be able to explain it anyway.

“Oh, hey—” Hinata’s voice shifts into nervous concern as Tobio clenches his jaw in a further attempt to steady himself. “Kageyama, are you — are you okay?”

“Of course I am,” Tobio snaps, more harshly than he’d intended. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Hinata doesn’t flinch. With a huge pout, he throws his arms up in exasperation. “I don’t know! You’re the one who’s acting all weird, like you’re overworked or something!”

“Ah, yeah — I noticed it too,” Yachi chimes in. “Maybe we should call it a night?”

“I’m not overworked,” Tobio says at once, wiping his face with the back of his hand. “I can still play.”

“Then why the hell did you toss it like ‘fwaaah’ ?!”

Tobio purses his lips, doing his best to stare down the challenge in Hinata’s eyes and get him to give it up and move on. After nearly two years of playing volleyball together, however, it doesn’t seem to work. Long gone are the days he could intimidate Hinata into backing down. Instead, Hinata seems to only glare harder, raising an eyebrow as he waits expectantly for Tobio’s response.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” he demands when Tobio still doesn’t say anything.

Tobio narrows his eyes. With a loud huff, he turns away and starts to walk off the court.

“Fine then,” he says as he passes Yachi. “We’ll call it a night.”

“Wha — K-Kageyama! Wait!” Hinata shouts after him. Tobio hears the pitter-patter of feet follow and stops in his tracks as Hinata whooshes past him and leaps into the air in front of him. “You can’t just leave like that!”

“Watch me,” he growls, shoving Hinata aside once he lands. Of course, his teammate refuses to budge.

“Get out of my way,” Tobio tries again, pushing against Hinata’s shoulder. Hinata latches himself onto one of his arms and plants his feet firmly on the ground, pushing back hard.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” Hinata repeats through gritted teeth. Clenching his jaw, Tobio reaches around to grab a fistful of Hinata’s shirt in an attempt to pry him off, but before they can even begin to wrestle, a high pitched yelp causes them to freeze.

“P-please don’t fight!” Yachi calls out frantically from behind. When they both look over at her, she startles and bows her head, clapping her hands above her in an apologetic stance. “J-just a precaution! Although… I’m — I’m sorry, Kageyama-kun, but we are your teammates. It’s well within our rights to be concerned if something feels wrong, and with all due respect, Hinata’s right. You seem a little worked up about something.”

The great, big scowl on Tsukishima’s face from earlier that practice flashes through Tobio’s head again. Letting go of Hinata, he brings a hand up to rub at his temple. What’s gotten into him?

Tobio lets out a big sigh. He can’t really refute what Yachi has said, so there’s no use denying it.

“I don’t have to talk about it,” he mutters instead.

Hinata crosses his arms and raises an eyebrow. “Does this have to do with the fight with Tsukishima earlier?”

Tobio’s eye twitches. How can he tell?

“That was hardly a fight!” Tobio deflects. “And it happens all the time. Why would today be any different?”

Yeah, why would it be different?

Hinata gives him a quizzical look. “What do you mean? That’s exactly what it is — it’s not any different. It’s the same every time. Whenever you two get into an argument and it doesn’t get resolved, you get all unnerved and stuff afterwards!”

Tobio’s eyes widen in surprise.

“Unnerved?” he echoes. Is that what’s going on here?

“Totally!” Hinata nods with a smug smile, holding up a finger. “I noticed it from day one. The first time we met Tsukishima, you were super worked up after he and Yamaguchi left and you hit the ball at me extra hard, even though it was dark and I told you it was unsafe. Of course, it’s no surprise that you didn’t listen to me, you never do so I don’t know why I even bothered to—”

“I didn’t—” Tobio interrupts. “ I wasn’t that worked up .”

Hinata gives him an affronted look for cutting him off, then replies, “You totally were. Like, I thought you were this arrogant hardass when I met you — well, actually you still are — but the point is! I didn’t think anything could get under your skin until Tsukishima came around.”

Tobio grimaces. “Tsukishima gets under everyone’s skin. Including yours.”

“Well, yeah,” Hinata pouts, looking put out to have to admit it. “That’s because he really is just like a prickly cactus all over. But you two especially never get along. Never have and never do. Although… I suppose you’re prickly too… is this what happens when you put two prickly people together? Hmm…”

A vein throbs in Tobio’s head as Hinata trails off, continuing to muse on under his breath about plants and trees and the moon. In a low voice, Tobio asks, “So what’s the point of bringing this up?”

“Hah?” Hinata shakes himself out of his reverie and looks up at him. With a shrug, he replies, “I don’t know. It’s always been like this and you always get worked up. So I don’t know, maybe you should try talking to him about it.”

Tobio tries to imagine it. Where would he even start? Tsukishima’s the one who picked and prodded at him in the first place. And anyway, Tobio isn’t good with words. He’d have to talk through his reluctant mouth and no matter how he phrased it, it would probably come off sounding bitter and commanding to Tsukishima regardless. The look of disgust that would distort Tsukishima’s face if Tobio ever tried to do such a thing flashes across his mind, causing a fresh bout of rage to flare up at the pit of his stomach.

Gritting his teeth, he glowers down at Hinata. “Why? It’s his problem, not mine.”

“It’s both your problems!” Hinata snaps back, exasperated. “Do you know how often you guys butt heads? It causes a lot more bumps and rough patches in our team cohesion than you know. Don’t you think it’s about time you two finally settled your differences? I don’t want anymore flopped tosses from you! And besides, if you really stop to think about it, we’ve never seen a time when you and Tsukishima don’t get into fights. Suga-san used to say communication is key in a volleyball match. It’s been two years now! Can you imagine how much more awesome our team would be if you and Tsukishima could actually get along? — Right, Yachi?”

“W-what?” Yachi squeaks, surprised as usual at being asked for an opinion. “O-oh… yeah. Yeah, it would.”

“Tell him, Yachi!” Hinata shouts, like the obnoxious buffoon he is. “Tell Kageyama how much better it’d be!”

Yachi lets out an apologetic laugh. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if you two worked out your differences. But for what it’s worth, I think you and Tsukishima-kun have the potential to be really great partners!”

Tobio raises an eyebrow. Really great partners?

It’s true. Tsukishima is a valuable player. Tobio knows this. He has observed him long enough to have seen it firsthand. He’s intelligent and meditative. Plans out long building plays and ideas that Tobio could only dream of conceiving of. He’s shown time and time again that he’s not a blocker to be underestimated.

But regardless, they’ve never been good at this — this whole friendship thing in general — especially the warm, fuzzy, openness thing that Hinata and Yamaguchi seem to be so at ease with. They’ve always had a rough start. Whatever relationship exists here has been rotten from the beginning along with Tsukishima’s rotten attitude upon their first meeting.

Really great partners? Tobio snorts. He highly doubts that.

Taking a deep breath, he releases it and steps forward, barreling past Hinata.

“Hey! Where’re you going?” Hinata demands as he collects his belongings by the wall.

“Home,” he replies, flinging his towel around his neck. “I’m done for today.”

“Wha — Kageyama!” Hinata calls after him. “Were you even listening?! That was so rude! And to Yachi of all people! Get back here and apologize!”

But Tobio merely straightens his neck and keeps his head up high as he pushes open the door and steps out into the night.

 

 


 

 

Sat, October 18

Hinata Shouyou 11:43 AM
HEY rude-geyama — have you thought more about what we said last night?

Hinata Shouyou 12:05 PM
Come on you can’t ignore us forever ~,~

Anyway…

Yamaguchi and I were thinking of going to the temple tomorrow to wish for good luck before the preliminaries

All the second years together

Wanna come?

It’d be a good opportunity too if you and Tsukishima ever wanted to start trying to get along…

 

Hinata Shouyou 12:41 PM
KAGEYAMA!!!!!

 

Hinata Shouyou 10:55 PM
:((

 

 


 

 

Tobio wakes on Sunday morning to a cold autumn day.

Turning over in bed, he wraps his blanket closer around his neck, enclosing himself in a cotton armor against the chilly air in his room.

No practice again today. Which means it’s been two days since the last fight with Tsukishima, and neither of them have said anything. Which means everything is normal.

Same shit, different day.

Yawning, he stretches out on his bed and grabs his phone. It’s just about a quarter past nine, 12°C outside. Good weather for a nice run and cup of milk inside afterwards. Sitting up, he swipes Hinata’s last text away and swings his legs over before hopping out of bed.

 

 

The air outside is crisp yet mild, a cool breeze that’s just beginning to develop a bite. The slowly changing leaves bring out a deeper blue in the skies above, a cerulean canopy holding wisps of white clouds in its expanse.

Tobio runs on, making note of the first kilometer mark as he passes through a street lined with trees. As always, the rhythmic movements of his arms and legs paired with the slap of his shoes on concrete helps to clear his mind. He feels calm and boundless, in tune with his physical condition, all mental and emotional states loose and light.

The scenery passes him by as he continues down the usual path — bushes, flower beds, residential gates. Free from distractions, however, Tobio’s mind flits around, allowing space for more dormant thoughts to surface. Before he knows it, Hinata’s words float back to him in his head just as he turns a corner.

‘Don’t you think it’s about time you two finally settled your differences?’

Differences. Tobio frowns. Funny word to describe the sheer rage and clashing of wills Tsukishima provokes in him, the unsettling peel of words digging under his skin, and the way it pierces him with pinpoint precision through layers and layers of hard shelled flesh. Differences. How to even tell all of them apart. Tobio doesn’t know where each difference ends and another begins.

‘I’m surprised the other guys could put up with such self-centered setting like that. I wouldn’t. Oh, wait…’

The pavement pounds beneath his feet, the crunch of stray leaves crinkling his thoughts with each stride. His breathing grows ragged as he picks up his pace.

‘I think King is the perfect nickname for you, Your Majesty.’

‘It pisses me off that you’re practically telling me, “Just shut up and hit the toss, peasant.”’

‘Someone woke up on the wrong side of bed. Is it that time of the month for the tyrant king?’

‘Now there’s the King of the Court I used to know and love… it’s been a while since you preached from your high horse.’

‘My bad. Didn’t realize the tyrant king’s reign lasted all month.’

The wind picks up as he turns another corner. Gray clouds gather overhead, threatening rain. Despite it all, Tobio keeps running, flying at a full on sprint now, partially in the hopes that if he doesn’t stop, he’ll eventually run all thoughts of Tsukishima to the ground.

Two kilometers… Two and a half…

What is it about him that set Tsukishima off in the first place anyway? Tobio hadn’t known him before. He couldn’t have had any idea that his new teammate would push his buttons before he even learned his name. Yet somehow Tsukishima knew. Because Tsukishima always knows: about his past, how to piss him off, what his weak points are. He knew some of Tobio’s deepest flaws before ever confronting him in person, understood something deep within him underneath that egocentric tossing that Tobio himself had been too afraid to uncover. The worst part of it all is that he wasn’t wrong.

Isn’t wrong.

“Tch.”

Tobio grits his teeth and slows to a light jog. He’s already far past the residential block he usually circles before heading home. Physically, he feels great — his legs are screaming in the good kind of pain and his body feels energized from all the cardio, buzzing with adrenaline and feeling alive. But no matter how much he tries to outrun that haunting, critical gaze in Tsukishima’s eyes, the piercing glare and jeering taunts is all Tobio can see in his mind.

Bzzt.

Tobio jolts forward as something vibrates against his leg. His environment snaps back into sharp focus, sending Tsukishima’s snide voice into faded, distant echoes inside his head. Glancing down, he sees the faint glow of his phone in his pocket and slows to a walk so he can pull it out.

Message from Hinata Shouyou:
Last chance kageyama!! We’re all going to the temple right now, are you sure you don’t want to come?

Tobio doesn’t have to think twice. Drawing his thumb out from under his long sleeve, he types out a single word:

Nah.

Pocketing his phone, he picks up his pace once more and loops around the neighborhood so he can head back home.

The rest of the day passes like any other weekend. He eats lunch and showers after the run, then attempts to get some homework out of the way (he can’t lose to Hinata after all) before treating himself to a few volleyball videos he hasn’t gotten to last week yet.

It happens some time a few hours after dinner. While in the middle of the game between Germany and Japan, drowsiness — overwhelming drowsiness — takes over Tobio’s mind. Although his exercise regimen had been lighter than usual today, he finds he can barely keep his eyes open despite the early hour. With a huge yawn, he pauses the video, shuts his laptop closed, and goes to brush his teeth.

Once he’s finished, he crawls under the blankets and turns off his bedside lamp. The descent into unconsciousness happens fast. The moment he shuts his eyes, a weight pulls heavy on his mind, dragging him downwards into the shadowy depths. There in the soft, moonlit darkness, he allows sleep to consume him.

 

 

.

.

.

 

A light, electric sounding tune plays somewhere overhead. The melody seems to reach for Tobio’s consciousness from afar, yet feels so near and close at the same time, gently prodding him into waking.

“Ugh…”

Tobio digs the heel of his palm into his forehead. Although he’d ended up having a deep, dreamless slumber, his mind feels like it’s been split in two. It’s to the point where the throbbing feels like nails being drilled into his skull. He can’t remember ever feeling this groggy in his life.

The music continues to play. As his surroundings come into focus, Tobio finally registers it as a series of guitar strums paired with a harsh, raspy voice… voices . For a moment he simply lies there, disoriented. He can’t fathom why a song like this would suddenly start playing in his room. He doesn’t have a radio or a boom box. Maybe his phone?

Reaching out a hand, he clamps down on his nightstand —

Only for his arm to slip right through, pulling his entire body down onto the floor with it.

Ow — what—?

Tobio snaps open his eyes. Everything is blurry — he can’t see for shit.

What the hell ?!

He blinks several times hoping to clear his vision, but nothing gives. Feeling around the room for the edge of the bed, he hauls himself back into it and squints in the direction of his nightstand.

Huh?

He can’t be seeing this right. Leaning closer, a white object that looks nothing like the mahogany  nightstand he owns comes into focus.

Is he still asleep? He can’t be, can he? But no, the nightstand he’s seeing right before his eyes is indeed smaller and shorter than his real one. As if that isn’t strange enough, perched on top of its surface is a book, a tiny desk lamp, a pair of folded up glasses, and a phone he’s note sure he recognizes.

What the hell is going on?

The music continues to play on from the phone. With a tentative finger, he presses the red button to shut the alarm off and checks the time.

6:48 AM.

He squints at the numbers. It feels earlier than usual, but he doesn’t think he’d set his alarm incorrectly. If yesterday was Sunday, then today is Monday, which means he has to go to school, and…

Tobio’s gaze falls upon the glasses. Upon closer inspection, they look oddly familiar, but even if he’s seen them before, he has no idea why he would wake up next to them in a strange, unfamiliar room with blurry vision to boot. Something’s not right…

The longer he stares, the more his instincts tell him to put them on. Maybe the answers will become clearer if he does. Figuring he has nothing to lose if he just goes for it, he picks up the glasses, unfolds them, and slides them carefully up his nose.

The world comes into sharp focus and Tobio’s breathing stops as he looks down. The first thing he registers is that his blankets and sheets are all the wrong color. Furthermore, his bed is oriented in a different corner of a room he doesn’t even recognize. Glancing around, he sees a jacket he definitely doesn’t own, a ton of books he’s never read, no sign of a volleyball or weights nearby, dinosaur figurines lining the shelves above a desk, and—

His eyes widen. There, suspended on a hanger by the shelves is none other than a Karasuno jersey with the number 6 upon its front.

But — but that’s—

Heart pounding in his ears, Tobio scrambles out of bed and searches for a mirror. He spots a long, thin one leaning against the wall facing the door and makes a beeline for it. Hands gripping the frames, he takes a deep breath, opens his eyes, and looks into it.

“What the f—”