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Teenage Dream

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The heat of summer desperately clings to the fading season with a humidity that feels like fingers squeezing his lungs. It leaves his skin sticky with sweat beneath clothes that cling to him, and if he could, Kageyama would peel the skin from his bones to feel even moderately cooler.

It’s so hot, the smell of burning asphalt clings to the air amid other chemicals he can’t name, and everything is surrounded by a haze of heat and smog.

It’s a heat wave that has hit Tokyo in mid-September, making it feel like the middle of July. The Weather Channel says it will last the week, much to Kageyama’s discomfort.

They’ve wandered out of the center of the plaza, down several narrow alleys, and ended up on the opposite side near the train tracks. There’s a metal fence to their right and buildings to their left. All in search of Oikawa’s friends and some mysterious restaurant that keeps eluding him.

“I don’t know why I even listen to him,” Oikawa grumbles, pausing to look down the street in front of them, then turning around to look behind them. His pretty face is scrunched up, adorable nose wrinkled in confusion and frustration.

Kageyama finds it irritating. Finds him irritating, especially since it’s so damn stifling and he’s starving to death. And as if to make a point, his stomach gives them gurgling encouragement to hurry on their way. 

Oikawa glares at his belly, then glares at him. Kageyama only shrugs, what’s he supposed to do about it? Oikawa’s the one with the directions. Kageyama doesn’t even know why he’s here, except that since starting university, Oikawa has been weirdly benevolent. It’s a far cry from his attitude toward Kageyama in high school.

Anyway, if it weren’t for the offer of free food, Kageyama would have stayed home and out of the ridiculous heat.

You need to get out more, Tobio-chan. It isn’t healthy to be a hermit at so young an age.

Kageyama rolls his eyes remembering the words spoken to him before he involuntarily left the comfort of air conditioning. 

“Ugh!” Oikawa growls, stomping his foot like a spoiled teenager and aggressively texts Makki. “I’m totally going to punch him when we finally find this stupid restaurant.” He takes off down the street again, leaving Kageyama tripping over his feet as he runs to catch up.

“I bet they’re having a laugh at me. I bet that’s what this is. I wouldn’t put it past them,” Oikawa mutters to himself.

Kageyama has no idea what Oikawa is going on about, but he doesn’t ask for clarification. As...nice as Oikawa has been the last several months, Kageyama isn’t dumb enough to test his patience. He doesn’t doubt that The Grand King would leave him stranded and lost, forced to eat from trash bins to survive.

The thought of eating trash and his still protesting stomach spurs him to open his mouth anyway.

“Why don’t we just ask directions, Oikawa-san?”

Oikawa turns to look at him, tilting his head and considering Kageyama not unlike a scientist studying a fascinating piece of mold. Kageyama tries not to flinch under the look. No matter how long he’s known this man, how many of his flaws he’s witnessed, Oikawa still intimidates him.

“Fine,” Oikawa says at last, the statement simple and delivered with a shrug.

Kageyama exhales like he’s just escaped the executioner.

Oikawa, of course, struts into the first open door he comes across. And of course it has to be some shady spot in the basement of one of the buildings. Kageyama wants to groan in exasperation, but he’s too fucking hungry and all he wants is to get back on track so they can eat ASAP.

Kageyama follows Oikawa down the steps and through the door and stops. They’ve entered a small gym; a hole-in-the-wall place of gray cement blocks, poor lighting, and no air conditioning. There are box fans placed sporadically around the room that do nothing to hold back the heat...or the smell. The aroma of sweaty men and dirty gym shorts makes Kageyama wrinkle his nose in disgust as he looks around.

He realizes pretty quick this gym caters to amateur fighters. There’s a sparring ring in the middle of the room surrounded by a faded track, and in every available space sits equipment; some Kageyama recognizes, others not so much.

There are only a handful of guys in the space, each invested in some training routine that looks both painful and frightening. Two men stand by a giant hanging bag, sucking water from a bottle or downing a sports drink. Their conversation is low and Kageyama can’t hear what they’re saying. Not that he’s really that interested, they’re probably just talking about they last guy they beat to death.

One guy striding past him breaks his line of sight, and Kageyama blushes when a blond delinquent with an undercut winks at him. He’s roughly as tall as Kageyama, definitely broader and way more muscular, but he’s covered in tattoos and piercings. He would almost be attractive if he didn’t look like the poster child for gang activity. 

He catches Kageyama still staring at him and grins again, this time sticking out his tongue and flashing the barbell impaling the pink muscle. Kageyama grimaces and shudders. Ew, nevermind, he’s definitely not cute.

Mr. Trouble shrugs and walks away like Kageyama’s rejection meant nothing. Which it probably didn’t. Not that Kageyama cares.

“Excuse me, you’re blocking the door.”

The appearance of a stranger behind him makes him jump, and he scuttles out of the way with a bow muttering his apologies.

The guy that walks in is tall. Tall . Probably close to 190 centimeters, if not more. He’s also blonde, but not in the same way as Mr. Trouble. His hair is obviously natural, without the brassy side effects that come from cheap do-it-yourself dye jobs. It’s short and faded on the sides, a little longer on top and swept forward and to the side. He’s wearing thick black glasses and his ice cold eyes are a brown so pale they’re almost gold.

Blondie fiddling with a pair of earbuds as he passes by without giving Kageyama a second look. He wears dark gray joggers and a tight white t-shirt, with a large red and black duffel slung over his shoulder. The t-shirt stretches across his back like it’s almost painted on. Kageyama can’t help the image that flashes through his head of his hands sweeping across the breadth of Blondie’s broad back, mapping the muscle beneath with his fingertips. Kageyama quickly labels the thought ridiculous and shoves it away, his face hot.

“Why didn’t he just say the restaurant in front of the yellow kappa?!”

Kageyama quickly forgets about the blonde and looks around for Oikawa. He’s talking to a shorter man with bleached hair (Is it a fucking trend?) held back with a headband and a cigarette dangling from his lips. He looks very put out and Kageyama is glad he didn’t have to talk to him. He nods at the tall blonde as he walks by, and if he was acknowledged, Kageyama couldn’t tell. Blondie disappears behind a metal door Kageyama had not noticed, the heavy door swinging slowly shut behind him, but not before Kageyama gets a glimpse of lockers.

Movement from the corner of his eye pulls his attention toward the two guys that were talking by the hanging bag. One is about mid-height with a shaved head and a lot of muscles. The other is taller with jet black hair that looks like it hasn’t been brushed in a month. That guy is walking toward Oikawa with the biggest, creepiest smirk Kageyama has ever seen, and he’s tempted to warn his senpai of incoming danger. But of course Kageyama says nothing, deciding it’s not his problem.

Angry-cigarette guy walks off while Oikawa punches a text into his phone with all the strength of a thousand vicious demons. The creeper stops near Oikawa and says something to him that, by the looks of it, leaves Oikawa less than impressed. He sneers at the creeper who continues to leer at Oikawa completely unaffected.

Kageyama is about to call out Oikawa’s name, if only to get moving sooner, but the tall blonde re-emerges sans glasses and he must have changed clothes because Kageyama is sure the guy was wearing pants when he walked in. Now he’s wearing loose shorts and a very well worn tank top with the sides cut so low, Kageyama is graced with a view of pale, cut abs. This guy’s covered in tattoos too and has a shit ton of earrings in his ears, but unlike Bad Dye Job guy, the whole bad boy vibe seems to suit him better.

Or maybe he’s just more attractive. Whatever.

Anyway, Blondie sits on a bench lining one wall, wrapping some kind of fabric around his hands. When he’s done, he stands up to stretch and run in place, then he punches the air with sharp huffs of breath. His fists move so fast, Kageyama can barely keep up between the punch and the snap back. Kageyama assumes he’s warming up for something, and watches with interest, hunger all but forgotten.

“Hey Tsuki, you ‘bout ready?”

The angry-cigarette guy is talking to him and Blondie— Tsuki , apparently—grunts in acknowledgement. Kageyama scoffs. This guy’s worse at social interaction than he is.

Kageyama watches as Tsuki sticks in a mouthguard and shoves his hands into a funny looking pair of gloves that remind him of those old people with severe arthritis. Tsuki slips between the ropes surrounding the practice ring and goes to stand in a corner, continuing his stretches.

A second later, the bald guy barrels past the ropes yelling enthusiastically about “ kicking my snotty kohai’s scrawny ass” .

“Tanaka-san, you weigh less than I do. Technically, if anyone is scrawny, it’s you.”

“Wanna say that again, asshole?!”

Kageyama hides his snickering behind his hand because they talk with a bit of a lisp with those things in their mouths and, wow, that Tsuki guy is a real jerk.

Kageyama doesn’t know if his reaction was loud, but he’s briefly drawn the attention of Tsuki as pale, cold eyes land on him like a ton of bricks before being swiftly pulled away. Kageyama’s cheeks warm and he feels a little shell-shocked. 

He recovers quickly enough and in time for a bell to ring. Then things happen kinda fast. Both men go silent as they take offensive stances, and the bald guy—Tanaka—dances back and forth in a wide arc like a lion stalking a potential meal. Tsuki has his right hand up by his face, elbow close to his body and his left hand sitting low. He doesn’t look tense considering the hungry look Tanaka is leveling at him, but he’s not completely relaxed either. His movements as he follows Tanaka are slow and methodical, and his pale eyes are calculating. It makes a shiver run the length of Kageyama’s spine knowing that the guy probably sees everything, misses nothing, and is as deadly as a snake poised to strike.

Tanaka steps forward with a left jab at Tsuki’s face, and it’s blocked, barely even disrupting Tsuki’s careful steps. It's more like Tanaka testing the waters, looking for chinks in Tsuki’s defense. Tanaka jabs again, this time on the right and Tsuki moves his position so the hit just grazes his shoulder.

“That’s it, Tsuki!” Angry-cigarette guy yells from the side of the ring. He’s got one leg hiked up so his foot rests on the edge of the mat as he leans forward, folding his elbows across his knee.

As if spurred by the praise his kohai receives, Tanaka jabs again with his left in rapid succession forcing all of Tsuki’s focus to block him. Then Tanaka swings his hips and Kageyama almost misses the heavy punch coming from the right. 

Tsuki doesn’t miss it, though. He twists, shifting his feet while bringing up his right hand to take the brunt of the blow and simultaneously dropping his right knee slightly as he steps forward while swings his hips to bring his left hand up right into Tanaka’s solar plexus. There is an audible grunt from Tanaka and Angry-cigarette guy is shouting praise and tips from the sidelines, having leaned back to clap his hands.

Kageyama is rooted to the concrete beneath his feet, his awareness narrowed down to the graceful dance that Tsuki expertly leads. Left, left, then right, and Tanaka dodges and blocks with a confident grin, his head and body moving completely out of the way and countering with a swift jab to Tsuki’s ribs. Kageyama feels his heart rate spike, flinching like it had been him to take the hit, but Tsuki just grunts, his eyes narrowing in frustration as Ukai critiques him from the sidelines. They continue to move around each other like predators fighting for dominance. A switch of feet, then a swing of narrow hips, and Tsuki goes in for a left jab at Tanaka’s stomach which he tries to deflect with his right hand, but at the last minute Tsuki snaps his hand back and steps again but comes in from the right with a hook that connects with Tanaka’s jaw that is audibly heard across the room.

Tanaka has to compose himself with a shake of his head as a satisfied smirk snakes across Tsuki’s face. Kageyama’s breath hitches. There is something about this Tsuki guy that is magnetic, despite his shitty personality, and it makes Kageyama’s fingers tingle and his head feel woolly. He can honestly stay and watch the blonde fight all day and never get bored. 

Angry-cigarette guy rings a bell, the sudden jarring ding ding snapping Kageyama from the spell he was under. 

“Tobio!”

Kageyama blinks away the daze and turns his head. Oikawa stands at the door, his arms crossed and foot tapping impatiently. Sighing as if dealing with Kageyama takes all his effort, he drops his hands and snaps at him, “What the hell is wrong with you? I’ve been standing here for five minutes, ready to leave. I finally know where we’re going.”

Kageyama’s stomach makes an announcement, a sound much like Oikawa’s whiny bitching and reminding him of his hunger.

“Hn,” he says, and turns toward Oikawa and the stairs.

It occurs to Kageyama that he’ll never see this place again, having no real reason to return. The thought evokes a profound sense of disappointment which Kageyama doesn’t understand. Boxing is not his sport, nor does it offer any additional techniques relevant to volleyball that could give Kageyama an edge in a match.

He stops at the threshold, regardless, as Oikawa bounds up the stairs with a newfound determination now that they’re only minutes away from reuniting with his friends. 

With one hand on the door frame, Kageyama glances behind himself. Both fighters are at one corner talking to Angry-cigarette guy, and Kageyama has half a mind to stay behind and watch the rest of the sparring match, to hell with hunger.

“C’mon, Tobio-chan. Everyone’s waiting.” 

Kageyama looks back at Oikawa, then one last time back inside the gym, and his gaze immediately locks with those ice cold, honey colored eyes. Kageyama immediately lowers his, his face growing warm with the beginnings of a blush. Kageyama knows he’s shy in normal circumstances, social interactions usually leaving him feeling awkward and irrelevant. But the feeling that rushes through him when the blonde fighter’s— Tsuki’s —attention is focused on him is a novel sensation he has no idea how to process.

When he looks back up, he’s no longer under scrutiny and he feels oddly...disheartened.

He puts it all out of his head as his stomach protests the lack of sustenance once again, and Kageyama finally ascends the stairs up and away from the gym and... him .

Dusk has settled on the city as both he and Oikawa make their way back through alleys to the main plaza. The city is still full of people clogging up the sidewalks and hurrying in and out of the various shops and cafes. Oikawa gives a hoot of joy having found the yellow kappa, and subsequently, the restaurant they have been searching for.

But Kageyama’s mind is still back at the gym, with the blonde fighter with the grace of a dancer, and his cold, crystal gaze.