Tetsurou likes the look of the house. It’s big enough for the two of them but he’s still nervous about the vast amount of houses in the whole neighbourhood, he grew up in a place much smaller than this. There are kids running around playing soccer and it looks fun, he lights up a little, “Tetsu, why don’t you go play?” He shakes his head furiously and his father sighs.
“Excuse me,” The voice makes Tetsurou hop up to his feet and hide behind his father. His father smiles at the lady who’s approached their garden. A young boy is with her, who is eyeing Tetsurou curiously, “My name is Kozume Ayasa. It’s nice to meet you, it’s lovely to see someone new in the neighbourhood.”
“Hi, my name is Kuroo Nobuo, it’s lovely to meet you. This is Tetsurou, he’s a little shy.”
“No worries, I understand that. This is Kenma, he’s usually shy too.”
The two get talking and Tetsurou is left to watch his father chatting away. He turns to Kenma who is still staring and gives a small wave, he notices a Nintendo DS poking from Kenma’s pocket and he lights up, “What are you playing?”
“Oh,” Kenma looks down to his DS and smiles, “It’s called Monster Hunters.”
“Can you show me?” Kenma nods, he pulls out the device and loads it up. Tetsurou finally comes from behind his mother and to Kenma’s side, so he can watch the game. It looks interesting and his eyes light up, “This looks amazing.” Kenma lets Tetsurou play for a while and they sit down in the grass to talk more about it. Their parents are watching with fond smiles.
The first day of school is nerving for Tetsurou. He doesn’t find Kenma until lunch and they sit together, chatting about video games. Tetsurou noticed a flyer for the volleyball club in the hall and he hopes to meet some more people that he’d have a common interest with, “Kenma, do you like volleyball?”
“Not really. Sport is too exhausting.”
Tetsurou’s nerves come back. He doesn’t want to go somewhere unfamiliar, with no-one that he’ll know, it causes him to start picking at his bento box, “Will you please come with me? I just want to see what it’s like.”
“Sure,” Kenma shrugs. It isn’t a big deal for him and he doesn’t understand why Tetsurou seems so interested in it. But he doesn’t mind going along to keep Tetsurou company, “It’s almost class time. I’ll see you later.” They head off in separate directions, with Tetsurou hoping that the volleyball club is welcoming.
Even with Kenma at his side, Tetsurou is nervous. The club leader (and team captain) is kind and quick to include Tetsurou in their practice. Kenma sits in the stands and decides to play on his DS while Tetsurou is in the middle of the game. The spiker is good too, there are a few balls that fly past Kuroo with targeted ease, so he grins with each one he manages to block.
The captain is pleased with Kuroo’s performance and asks him to be a sub for their next practice game, which is three days away. Kuroo eagerly agrees, the thought of it is more than exciting, he looks up to the stands and gives Kenma a wave before heading into the locker room. A few of the members introduce themselves properly and congratulate his skill, and once that’s done, he gets changed.
"Hey," A sharp voice jolts Tetsurou and he nervously looks up from his shoes, "You were great out there."
"Ah. T-thanks, you too."
"I'm Daishou Suguru. It's nice to meet you."
"I’m Kuroo Tetsurou," He extends a hand and Suguru shakes it with a smile. For some reason, Tetsurou's heart thumps loudly in his chest. Suguru's smile is beautiful and Tetsurou is mesmerised by it. They talk about the game for a little while, but are soon ushered on by the captain who’s seen that they’re already changed, and when they leave the locker room, Kenma is stood there waiting for Tetsurou, “Hey, did you watch?”
“Hm,” Kenma shrugs, “It was okay.”
“We should get going,” Tetsurou turns back to Suguru with a smile, “I’ll see you later Suguru.”
“Yeah, see you.”
Tetsurou heads off with Kenma, they’re met by Tetsurou’s father who is happy to take them both home, “How was it?”
“It was great dad! They want me to play, will you come to watch us?”
“Of course, that’s great news! What about you Kenma, are you interested?”
“Not really, but they looked cohesive. Tetsu played well.”
“Well, try to have some fun even if you’re only watching.” He smiles brightly. They get into the car and head home together. Tetsurou is still thinking about Suguru for the rest of the night. Kenma joins them for dinner and Tetsurou tries to make small talk about video games and when they settle down to play for a short while, Kenma wins easily with Tetsurou’s mind distracted. After Kenma heads home, Tetsurou does some studying, absentmindedly doodling Suguru in the corner of his notebook.
Tetsurou is itching to play volleyball. His father buys a ball so he can practice his serves in the garden. When Tetsurou can, he drags Kenma out to toss him some balls, which he’s surprisingly good at, once Tetsurou helps him get the basics down and it’s nice, but it only serves to sooth Tetsurou’s itch slightly. He loves volleyball.
When their practice game comes around, Tetsurou almost stops breathing the moment he sees Suguru again. His heart feels like it might jump out of his chest and he isn’t sure why. Suguru greets him with a soft pat to the shoulder and a bright smile, “Are you excited for the game?”
“Yes! I hope I get to play.”
“I think you will. Inami seems to really like you and you’re a good blocker, it will help strengthen our defence quite a bit. I look forward to seeing you play.”
“Y-yeah. Me too.” There’s heat nipping at Tetsurou’s neck, Suguru does seem to notice and shoots Tetsurou a smile. They head into the locker room, Tetsurou is given the number thirteen jersey and he hopes it won’t be unlucky.
He’s at the sidelines throughout the entirety of the first set. It slips through their grasp at twenty-six to twenty-four, they fall behind in the second set by five points and take a timeout. Inami wants to sub Tetsurou in and provide more strength to their blocks, the coach agrees eagerly and they go back to playing. They sub Tetsurou in and manage to clinch the second set back, the other team look a little surprised by the change. They adjust and the momentum stays even, until Suguru slams a spike through the block to finally take their team a break ahead.
Finally, they hold down the game and win. Even with it only being a practice game, the team celebrate and Tetsurou feels his whole breath leave his body when Suguru hugs him, “You were great!”
“You too!” The teams line up and there’s a chorus of 'thank you' resounding through the gymnasium. They head into the locker room and change quickly. Tetsurou is a little disappointed that he’s going to have to say goodbye to Suguru for the day. They don’t share a class. Tetsurou has seen Suguru around the school and during lunch, but nervousness always fills his body when he sees him, and in those moments he usually only manages to give Suguru a small smile.
Tetsurou pushes aside those thoughts and leaves the locker room, Nubou and Kenma are waiting, Kenma is still staring at his DS. Nobuo looks Suguru over and gives him a bright smile, “Hello there, I’m Tetsu’s father, Nobuo, it’s lovely to meet you. Are you two friends? I can’t say I know much about volleyball but you boys worked really well together out there, the block was impeccable.”
“Ah. Thank you,” Suguru bows and Tetsurou hurries to distract himself by watching Kenma play, “I’m Suguru, it’s a pleasure to be on the same team as Tetsurou.”
Nobuo is still smiling and gives a small bow in return. Tetsurou impatiently tugs at his sleeve, “I’m hungry.”
“Yes, yes!” He chuckles and they began heading off. Suguru is left watching them, his friends were unable to watch the match and he doesn’t really want to head back alone, to an empty house. He quickly picks his feet up though, he doesn’t want anyone to take pity on him, it’s the worst feeling. When he gets outside, Kenma and Tetsurou are clambering into a car and Suguru gives a small wave. Tetsurou waves back with a grin and Nobuo turns around, “Suguru! If you’re not in a rush home, would you like to come for dinner?”
“Dad! His parents will be waiting.”
“No! It’s fine, my dad’s at work. I can come. Uh, if you want me there.”
“Of course we do! I wouldn’t have offered. Kenma is over almost every day anyway, hop in!” Suguru eagerly heads over to the car and hops in the back with Kenma. He notices the video game and all three of them talk about it during the ride back. Tetsurou is hoping his blush won’t get noticed. There’s something special about Suguru and he doesn’t know what it is.
With four pair of hands in the kitchen, dinner is prepared quickly. Tetsurou is smiling brightly, they eat up quickly and retire upstairs to play a game together. Suguru wins ever round, a smirk dancing on his lips when Kenma decides to call it a night and head home, “See you at school.”
“Cya, it was nice talking with you.” Kenma nods and heads out, they can hear Nobuo downstairs bidding him goodbye. Suguru turns to smirk at Tetsurou, “Want me to beat you again?”
“I won’t lose this time!” Tetsurou protests, gently shoving Suguru.
He doesn’t lose, but it isn’t down to his skill and he knows it. Suguru has fallen asleep. His head is resting against Tetsurou’s shoulder and he doesn’t know what to do, his cheeks are burning and his heart is pounding. The door quietly opens and Nobuo smiles at them without a care in the world, “He must be exhausted, poor boy. I’ll bring in the futon, okay?”
Tetsurou nods. His father is only gone for a moment and once the futon is set-up, he leaves with a smile. Tetsurou is certain he’s blushing more in the wake of his father’s presence. He carefully moves Suguru to the futon and decides to sit down to do some studying. Tetsurou ends up a little distracted, looking over his shoulder to check on Suguru. He barely shifts on the futon and Tetsurou finds himself staring sometimes.
Suguru’s brow knot together suddenly and Tetsurou quickly turns back to his homework, he’s not sure if they’re quite friends yet, they only speak during club hours. Regardless of friendship or not, Tetsurou doesn’t want to get caught staring. There’s a soft mutter, Tetsurou can’t make out if it’s words or something else.
“Mom,” Suguru’s voice makes Tetsurou turn back around. Suguru’s eyes are still shut, he looks like he’s in pain and Tetsurou wants to hug him. He wants to help, “Don’t leave, mom,” His voice is barely above a whisper and Tetsurou know that he’s sleep-talking, “Mom!” Suguru quickly sits up and looks around, a little dazed and confused.
Tetsurou leaves his chair and kneels on the floor near Suguru, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Suguru holds his head in his palms, “Just a nightmare.”
“You were calling for your mom. I lost mine too, she passed away when I was two. I don’t remember her.”
“Tetsu,” Suguru looks up and places a hand to Tetsurou’s shoulder, “I’m so sorry.”
“I-it’s okay!” Tetsurou grasps Suguru’s hand, “I just wanted you to know that I understand whatever it is you’re going through. I’m here if you want to talk.”
Suguru nods, he’s staring at their hands and Tetsurou gently pulls away with a shy smile, “Thanks. I’ve never had anyone to talk to about it. My dad doesn’t like hearing it, she walked out on us. Three years ago. She just packed and left without a word.”
“That’s awful. I’m sorry Suguru.”
“It’s fine, I understand now. I’m okay...I just think about her sometimes,” Their hands have seemingly found each other again and their fingers are curling around each other, it’s natural, “Thank you for being my friend.”
They share a smile and Suguru leans forward to press his head against Tetsurou’s shoulder. They stay like that for a moment, holding onto each other and basking in the silence of the room. It’s a while until they move away from each other. Tetsurou doesn’t return to his homework, they sit down to play another game, until Nobuo pokes his head into the room, “Hey. Suguru, are you staying over? I’m not sure if Tetsu’s clothing will fit you very well, but if you get changed, I’ll wash your uniform.”
“Thank you. I’d like to stay.”
“That’s great! I’ll bring some snacks up then. Tetsu, find something for Suguru.”
Tetsurou nods and Nobuo leaves with a smile. Tetsurou hops up and digs through his dresser for a pair of pyjamas, quickly handing them over to Suguru, “Here. I think these should be okay.”
“Thanks,” Suguru looks a little nervous and it dawns on Tetsurou that he’s never seen Suguru getting changed in the locker room after practice. He’s always vanished.
“The bathroom is just across the hall.” Suguru nods with a soft smile and leaves the room.
It doesn’t take long for Suguru to return. Nobuo is moments behind him, he puts down a tray of assorted snacks and takes Suguru’s uniform for him, “I’ll leave it in the bathroom for tomorrow if you’d like to shower or clean-up before school. Do you need to call your father?”
“No, it’s okay,” Nobuo nods and leaves them alone again. Tetsurou looks at Suguru, for a moment, he feels like he’s trying to solve a puzzle and all Suguru does is smile. So he doesn’t ask and they play a couple more games before calling it a night.
They settle down easily and doze off in the middle of a conversation about volleyball. Nobuo quietly takes away the tray before going to bed himself. Tetsurou is dreaming about Suguru, how his face lights up with a smile, his eyes crinkled at the corners. He’s sweet, soft. Tetsurou remembers how easily their hands fit together and he wants to experience it again, he wants it to last forever.
“M-” The voice breaks through Tetsurou’s conscious and his eyes open half-way, still bleary with sleep. The air is quiet, and he wonders if a memory from the day had just returned. He lays there for a moment, staring at the ceiling, “Mom, come back. Mom.” He knows it’s Suguru this time and he shoots out of bed.
Suguru is writhing on the futon, his hands gripping tightly at the sheets. Tetsurou carefully curls his hand around Suguru’s, “Suguru, wake up,” He shakes him a little and Suguru’s eyes shoot open. They find Tetsurou and he relaxes, “Your mom again?”
“Yeah. C...Can I sleep with you?”
“Of course.” They squeeze into Tetsurou’s bed together. Tetsurou waits patiently for Suguru to fall asleep before he thinks to close his eyes.
They wake up to Tetsurou’s alarm without another incident. They’re curled into each other and both become a little embarrassed, they quickly part from each other. Suguru goes for a shower first, his uniform is waiting just like Nobuo said. He thinks about how safe he feels beside Tetsurou, how he wishes someone had come into his life sooner and saved him from the hell he was living. He wishes he could wash away the scars on his body.
He tries not to take too long, he knows that Tetsurou will need to shower too. They share a small smile when he returns to the room, now donned in his uniform and Tetsurou heads to the bathroom. Suguru wonders if his father so much as questioned where he was...If he’d even returned from work, with a shudder, he heads downstairs. Nobuo has breakfast on the table already and he smiles to Suguru, “Good morning. Did you sleep well?”
“Yes. Thanks again.”
“Anytime. May I talk with you?” Suguru nods and Nobuo takes a seat, “You said your dad would be working, but you didn’t want to call him and you looked reluctant to return. Now, I won’t ask for your life story, but if you ever need a place to stay, please know that my door is open. As are my ears, if you need them.”
“Thank you so much. He--” Suguru checks behind him, he hears the shower switch off and relaxes a little, “He changed since my mom walked out. It’s never been the same...I’m scared.”
“It isn’t easy coming from a broken home. I was lost too when my wife died, but I knew I needed to be there for Tetsu and I am truly sorry that your dad can’t do that for you,” He rises from his seat and gives Suguru a reassuring pat on the shoulder, “You can get through it. I will always be here if you need somewhere safe.”
Suguru nods. Nobuo sets to pouring drinks - coffee for himself and orange juice for the boys. Tetsurou walks into the kitchen moments later and grabs the milk to fill up his bowl, “Mornin’” His uniform looks almost like he gave up half-way through; the tie is loose and his top two buttons aren’t secured. Suguru fills up his bowl and smiles once Tetsurou gets comfortable - he tries not to think about how he can’t stop staring at Tetsurou and how every inch of his appearance drags Suguru’s attention away from everything else. After breakfast, Kenma shows up at the door, his mother introduces herself to Suguru and they head off to school in her car. They part ways to head to their respective classroom.
Suguru returns home once the day is over. He already knows that his father is home from the pungent smell of alcohol, it instils fear through his body. It’s an ache that runs cold to his bones, “Suguru!” The sharp call of his name has him holding his breath as he carefully walks into the lounge, “What the hell have you been doing? I heard from Atani that you were hanging around some dumb-looking kid!”
“N-no! It was just someone on the volleyball team.”
His dad frowns, his fist curls tighter around the neck of the bottle. Suguru steps back. It flies across the room and crashes against the wall near his head, “I wish you’d give up on that stupid game! It won’t get you anywhere,” Suguru nods and his dad turns back to the fridge with a tut, “Get out of my sight.”
Suguru runs up to his room. There are tears in his eyes and he can remember every time a glass hadn’t just hit the wall. The times his father’s anger was out of control. He sniffs and packs some clothes in a bag and leaves. It’s only a few blocks to Kuroo’s house but he still checks behind himself every step of the way. He’s grateful when it’s Nobuo who answers, he’s not sure he could face Tetsurou at this moment.
He calms down over a glass of water and Nobuo goes upstairs. There are three pairs of voices travelling down: Tetsurou, Kenma and Nobuo. He sees Kenma leave then Tetsurou appears in front of him and takes his hand, “Come on, you’re welcome to stay in my room.”
Suguru barely manages to grab his bag before he’s whisked upstairs. When they reach Tetsurou’s bedroom, silence envelopes them and it’s like both of them are afraid of breaking it. Suguru sits down and begins tracing shapes into the carpet, “I don’t want to go back there.”
“It’s okay. You’ll be safe here,” Tetsurou sits down with Suguru and holds his hand, “My dad and I will make sure of it!”
“Thank you, Tetsu.”
“Come on, let’s play something. I’ll let you win again.”
“Yeah right! You couldn’t beat me if you tried.”
Tetsurou grins and Suguru smiles for the first time since walking into the house. They settle down together and play a few games. Nobuo sets up the futon again and drops off a tray of snacks and a couple of drinks.
As their night slowly dies down, and after Suguru has changed in the bathroom, there’s a quiet moment and Suguru stares at the futon. Tetsurou is already in bed, only the lamp is lighting the room, he slowly pushes aside the bedsheets so Suguru can squeeze into bed with him again. Suguru gets comfortable and a silence falls over the room, Tetsurou lets his arm fall over Suguru and he smiles, “You’re okay.”
“Tetsu…” Suguru relaxes in Tetsurou’s arms and they slowly drift off.