Sometimes Tsukishima does not understand high school. He makes an effort to be a cold-hearted asshole to the people around him yet he still attracts attention from both girls and guys, enough for them to slip chocolates into his homeroom locker in lieu of Valentine’s Day.
“Wow, Tsukki! Seems like you received more chocolates than you did last year,” Yamaguchi laughs. “Your popularity is really amazing.”
“Shut up, Yamaguchi,” Tsukishima sighs, clearing the chocolates to make space for his things. He hears the girls sitting at the other end of the classroom looking at him and giggling when he says that and Tsukishima raises an eyebrow because he really does not understand why.
“Sorry, Tsukki,” Yamaguchi grins, saying it to complement Tsukishima’s words rather than actually meaning it. “So are you just gonna ignore the confessions like you did last year?”
“It’s just so troublesome,” Tsukishima replies with a huff. “Also, you know I don’t feel like dating anyone at the moment.”
“Right, right. The ‘zing’ thing,” Yamaguchi nods. “But don’t you think you’re just not feeling it because you’re not putting yourself out there?”
Tsukishima pauses in the middle of clearing his locker to make a face at Yamaguchi. “You sound like Akiteru.”
“Akiteru complains to me about how he’s not able to do the embarrassing brother bit because you’ve been single your whole life,” Yamaguchi chuckles.
“Gee… That makes me look forward to dating,” Tsukishima replies sarcastically to which Yamaguchi laughs.
“Have you ever wondered what dating feels like, though?” Yamaguchi asks.
It is not like Tsukishima has never thought of it before. In fact, since Yamaguchi started dating Yachi, Tsukishima has been wondering what it is like to be in love. He has to admit, his take on love has probably stopped him from forming relationships many times. Yamaguchi refers to it as the ‘zing’ because that is the only way Tsukishima knows how to explain it (also because of that one animation that conveniently portrayed it for him). He thinks that relationships are only worth pursuing when he feels a ‘zing’ with the other person. He does not really know how to describe what that is like, he has never even felt it before, but his mother told him that he will immediately know once he meets the person.
Surprise, surprise. Tsukishima Kei is actually a closet hopeless romantic.
Yamaguchi’s phone beeps and Tsukishima watches him fish it out of his pocket. Judging from the way Yamaguchi lightens up, it must be Yachi. “Ah, look at the poster Yachi made for the club!” Yamaguchi beams, showing Tsukishima the screen.
“As expected of Yachi,” Tsukishima comments. Yamaguchi retracts his phone and looks at his screen again, heartfelt pride written all over his face. “I know right,” Yamaguchi swoons, typing in his reply with a big smile on his face.
Tsukishima is happy for his best friend, he really is. He is happy for Yachi too, she has grown to be one of his closest friends and he has even developed a soft spot for her. But why does knowing they are both happy together make his heart clench in his chest?
Tsukishima has been getting more chocolates in his locker throughout the day and luckily he came prepared with an extra bag to keep all of them in (Last year, he had just shoved all of them into his bag and they ended up melting all over his books). When the last school bell rings, he gets ready to head for practice. Yamaguchi gives him a wave and heads off first, probably to meet Yachi to walk to practice together. It has been awhile since they both started dating, but it still takes some time for him to adjust to being alone. Yamaguchi has always stuck to him like glue anyway so now he is spending more time with Yachi, Tsukishima is usually by himself. The thing about this is, people think he is easier to approach since he is by himself, and he really just does not understand why .
Tsukishima stops in his tracks and turns around to see a girl standing in front of him, shyly twisting a lock of her hair. He has seen this girl around but he does not know her name. She is one of those girls in those cliques that are always whispering and giggling around him (Yes, he is aware of them).
“Sorry to bother you on your way to practice! I’m Kobayashi Kairi from Class 3-3,” the girl introduces herself, bowing politely. “I made you something for Valentine’s Day. I hope you like it!”
She hands him a pretty blue box, smiling brightly as she does so. Tsukishima supposes that all he can do is accept it. “Thanks,” he says awkwardly, taking the box from her.
His acceptance of her present seems to have given her confidence because she continues talking to him. “I think you’re really cool when you play volleyball. I like you the best in the team!”
He is reminded of what Yamaguchi said earlier about him not putting himself out there and he has no idea why he is actually considering it. Is he that eager to feel a ‘zing’ with someone?
And Kobayashi is not bad looking. She is a bit on the petite side, only reaching Tsukishima’s chest. He guesses she is a bit more on the athletic side, judging from her tanned skin. Also she has long dark hair which she keeps straight and neat. Overall, she is definitely a nice girl.
“Trust me, I’m not the best,” he replies and Kobayashi gives him an encouraging smile.
“Don’t say that! You’re still a skilled player. You even went to Nationals during your first year,” Kobayashi giggles.
Tsukishima wonders if something is wrong with him. Here he has a nice girl saying nice things about him, yet he does not feel anything about it.
“Anyway, I was wondering if you’re free this weekend,” Kobayashi says, rocking back and forth on her heels as she gathers up her courage. “I have two tickets to the Sendai Aquarium. Would you like to go with me?”
Tsukishima does not know what to tell her. She is very nice but he does not want to bring her down. And he definitely cannot accept her invitation or he would be leading her on. He curses himself in his head. This is probably the reason why he does not put himself out there in the first place!
Kobayashi is looking at him nervously, waiting for his reply. Before Tsukishima can think of anything to say, a familiar voice calls out his name. “Oi, Tsukishima.”
They both turn to the direction of the voice to see Kageyama, standing in front of the door leading out to the gym. He seems to have materialised out of nowhere and never has Tsukishima been so thankful for his presence. “Practice is starting soon,” he simply says before walking out the door.
“I’m sorry. The king has summoned me so I have to go,” Tsukishima tells Kobayashi, quickly walking away before she can say anything.
Well… He is definitely not doing that again.
“Tsukishima! You got chocolates from Kobayashi Kairi?!” Hinata exclaims when he barges into the gym.
“It just happened. How did you even find out so fast?” Tsukishima asks, genuinely shocked.
“I got a text from my classmate who is friends with Kairi-san,” Hinata says, waving his phone. “Also, she’s like the most popular girl in our year! I can’t believe she gave you Valentine’s Day chocolates!”
“Tsukki receives a lot of chocolates every year,” Yamaguchi adds on from the side, smiling innocently as he adds spice to the conversation. “Though I think this would be his first time receiving it from someone personally.”
The first and second years seem to find this piece of information intriguing because they look at Tsukishima with literal stars in their eyes. “Eh?! Tsukki-senpai is actually popular?” Akiyama, their second year middle blocker with a lack of filter, exclaims. Tsukishima has always found him annoying but Yamaguchi reminds him that despite this, he still has a soft spot for his kouhai (and Tsukishima hates that he is right).
“Tsukki-senpai, you’re so cool!” Jinki, their baby-faced first year setter, praises him.
Tsukishima flushes in embarrassment as his kouhais keep praising and complimenting him. “Yamaguchi, make them get back to practice!” he tells the captain but Yamaguchi only laughs and waves him off.
“Jinki, come practice your tosses with me,” Kageyama suddenly calls out from where he is standing at the net. “The rest of you can start with spiking drills when you’re ready.”
“Yes!” the first and second years reply, immediately dispersing to run towards the court. Tsukishima sighs in relief as he watches the kouhais get into their positions. This would be the second time Kageyama has saved him today. The kouhais seem to listen very well to Kageyama and Tsukishima is reminded of little ducklings when he looks at them. He catches Kageyama looking at him, but the setter immediately turns away to focus on the kouhais.
“Oh yeah, Tsukishima. What was your reply to Kairi-san?” Hinata asks once the first and second years have left.
“The king called me before I could say anything,” Tsukishima tells him. Well, Hinata does not have to know that Tsukishima actually did not have a reply for her but what he said is not entirely a lie.
“You’re… so weird.” Hinata looks at Tsukishima as if he is a disappointment and Tsukishima glares at him back. “Anyway, knowing Kairi-san, she will probably approach you again until she gets her answer. She’s really persistent when she starts to like someone.”
“Speaking of Kageyama, he received a lot of Valentine’s Day chocolates today too,” Hinata grumbles, folding his arms to his chest. “Apparently he got a lot of confessions too after we went to Nationals. He said he doesn’t like turning people down so he still goes out on dates with the people who ask him. I don’t get it! What do girls see in you two grumpy jerks?!”
“Some girls find the cold and aloof types attractive,” Yachi supplies helpfully. “A lot of the girls in my class talk about Kageyama-kun and Tsukishima-kun.”
Hinata proceeds to sulk in the corner upon hearing this information. “Nice guys… finish last…”
“Hey, Hinata! That’s not entirely true!” Yamaguchi tells him, putting his arms around Yachi in a backhug. Yachi smiles and slips her hands into Yamaguchi’s. “Eventually you’ll meet that someone who makes every day special for you.”
Hinata looks at them with literal tears in his eyes, touched by Yamaguchi’s words and feeling more hopeful than ever. There is that feeling again bubbling inside Tsukishima’s chest as he looks at Yamaguchi and Yachi, laughing together at something Hinata says. He wants to know what that feels like but at the same time, he does not want to lead anyone on. He knows he can be an asshole but he is not that big of an asshole.
Tsukishima’s gaze wanders to where Kageyama is standing at the court. He is commenting on the kouhais’ spiking forms, looking very serious as he addresses each one of them. Tsukishima is reminded of what Hinata says and suddenly an idea pops up in his head.
In his defence, he did not really have enough time to think through the logistics of this plan because Coach Ukai came and practice officially started after that.
When practice ends and everyone is dismissed, Tsukishima bribes the kouhais and Hinata with all the chocolates he got that day, telling them that he left them in the clubroom. Once Hinata and the kouhais have left the gym, Tsukishima turns to where the two captains and Yachi are discussing training plans with Coach Ukai and Takeda-sensei.
“Oh? Where did the rest go?” Yamaguchi asks once they are done with their discussion. Coach Ukai and Takeda-sensei wave to them as they take their leave.
“Clubroom. I let them have my chocolates,” Tsukishima tells him. “You and Yachi can have some of it too, though I’m not sure if there would be any left. I’ll help Kageyama clean up.”
Yamaguchi raises an eyebrow. “There are a lot of weird things going on with that last thing you said but... go ahead?” Even Yachi is looking at Tsukishima as if he has grown two heads but Yamaguchi takes her hand and walks her out of the gym.
The plan is working perfectly so far. All he needs to do now is talk to Kageyama which is to be frank the part he has the least confidence in. Tsukishima takes in a deep breath and walks over to where Kageyama is bringing down the net. He looks genuinely surprised at seeing Tsukishima still in the gym.
“Did you lose a bet with Yamaguchi?” Kageyama asks.
“ Ha ha ,” Tsukishima replies monotonously. “I just… want to thank you for helping me out today.”
Kageyama nearly breaks the lever on the pole and does a double take. “Who are you and what have you done to Tsukishima?” he asks, horrified.
Tsukishima rolls his eyes. “I’m still me, stupid,” he retorts. “Is your majesty too out of reach to even accept a thank you?”
“The number of times you’ve thanked me since we’ve known each other is less than the fingers I have on one hand,” Kageyama deadpans. “What do you want?”
Tsukishima grits his teeth. Dealing with Kageyama has always been in the top 3 of the list of things he hates about volleyball. He hates how Kageyama never fails to make him tick, like he is born to annoy the fuck out of Tsukishima.
“I have something to ask, but you’re not obliged to say yes,” Tsukishima tells him.
“When you’re the one asking something from me, I feel like I should say yes,” Kageyama replies, folding his arms to his chest.
This plan is already falling apart. Tsukishima is at his wit’s end and he just wants to tear out his whole head. It is a bad idea when Kageyama is the solution to the problem he is facing.
He has to do this. He is just going to have to suck it up. Tsukishima takes in another deep breath. “I heard that you’ve been getting a lot of confessions lately. And knowing you, you probably don’t like having to turn them down.”
“Is that why you were having a hard time turning down that girl earlier?” Kageyama asks.
Tsukishima stiffens. So Kageyama did notice what happened. “I just... didn’t know what to say,” Tsukishima admits in a small voice. “I didn’t want to lead her on.”
“She’s probably gonna keep asking you again until you say no,” Kageyama says. “What are you gonna do then?”
“I’m gonna ask you to be my fake boyfriend for the whole of Valentine’s week,” Tsukishima says, unsure of where this false confidence is coming from. Also, the idea sounded much better in his head but it is too late to turn back now.
Kageyama gives him a look, as if wondering if this is the real Tsukishima instead of an imposter. “You want me to be your fake boyfriend? Did you run out of options or something?”
“Something like that,” Tsukishima replies. “Yamaguchi and Yachi aren’t available. Hinata can’t keep a secret. The first and second years are out of the question. The only person left I can ask is you.”
“It’ll benefit the both of us,” Tsukishima adds. “We both have an easy way out of confessions for Valentine’s week. But like I said, you don’t have to-”
“I’ll do it,” Kageyama says, looking straight at Tsukishima as he does so. His blue eyes are piercing, making Tsukishima look away from the intensity of his stare.
“Man, your majesty… You didn’t have to agree so fast…” Tsukishima mutters. He did not expect Kageyama to agree so readily. He was hoping that while convincing Kageyama, he would be able to convince himself that this was a good idea too.
“Like you said, I don’t like turning down confessions,” Kageyama replies, rolling up the net and placing it in the ball trolley. “So, how are we gonna do this?”
Before Tsukishima can reply, Hinata barges into the gym and yells, “Oi Kageyama! What’s taking you so long? Hurry up! We want to get meat buns.”
Sometimes it amazes Tsukishima how big Hinata’s stomach is. Akiyama is a solid contender, eating portions as huge as Hinata’s, but the real food fighter of the team is their baby-faced Jinki, who has even won Kageyama in an eating competition.
“You guys go ahead, I don’t feel like having meat buns today,” Kageyama tells him.
“Alright, suit yourself! See ya tomorrow!” Hinata yells before walking off.
Kageyama turns to Tsukishima, who is still standing at the same spot. “How about we go somewhere nice for our first date?”
“Okay, let’s come up with ground rules,” Tsukishima suggests, pulling out an empty piece of paper and a pen from his bag. “Obviously the first one is that we need to break up after this week.”
They are at a small café a few minutes away from school, which is seemingly a good place for a date. At least, Tsukishima assumes it is since Yamaguchi and Yachi keep talking about it. There are a lot of high school students from nearby schools so Tsukishima and Kageyama still manage to blend in with the crowd. As Tsukishima is writing the words on the paper, Kageyama puts down his drink on the table. “You’re getting me lunch for the whole week we’re dating,” he says.
Tsukishima raises an eyebrow, looking at Kageyama and wondering if he is joking but Kageyama looks dead serious. “Delivered to my table,” he adds on.
“You’re really pushing it, king” Tsukishima twitches, gritting his teeth.
Kageyama crosses his arms to the back of his head, a shadow of a grin dancing on his lips. “Do you want to date me or not?” he asks.
Tsukishima sighs and shakes his head. “I guess it’s a given that a king would have a lot of demands.”
Kageyama narrows his eyes. “Can we make it a rule that you can’t call me ‘king’ for this week too?”
“Why not?” Tsukishima asks.
“Shouldn’t you be calling me by a pet name?” Kageyama retorts. “I don’t think people will be convinced that we’re dating if you keep making fun of me.”
Tsukishima taps his pen on the table as he looks at Kageyama with a teasing grin. “‘King’ can be a pet name too.”
Kageyama bristles in his seat when Tsukishima writes ‘Pet names that are acceptable: King’ on the piece of paper.
“What else can we include?” Tsukishima asks, looking at the paper. He notices that Kageyama has been quiet for a while so he looks up to see the other boy staring at him.
“You have that face when you’re focusing too hard during a match,” Kageyama points out. “Why are you thinking so hard?”
Tsukishima feels his face getting hot. What does Kageyama mean by that?
“Do you even have any dating experience?” Kageyama asks, looking at Tsukishima intently.
Tsukishima’s shoulders stiffen and he avoids looking at Kageyama. The other boy takes the pen and paper from him and writes something down. He passes the paper back to Tsukishima, who takes a glance at it. ‘Whatever we tell each other during this week stays in this week’ .
“I don’t really care whether you’ve dated anyone or not,” Kageyama replies. “I just want to know what your idea of dating is so I know what your expectations are.”
Tsukishima sighs. He has no idea whether he should even be opening up to Kageyama but at the same time he does not think the other boy is malicious enough to use things against him.
Even if he is an annoying asshole.
Kageyama is holding his drink, still with his eyes on him. Tsukishima has no idea why he is suddenly compelled to spill his deepest insecurities to Kageyama. Maybe it is those hypnotising blue eyes that Tsukishima has just noticed. He has known the setter for three years but he only now realised how beguiling they are.
Wait what -
Tsukishima clears his throat, suddenly hyper aware of his thoughts. He needs to get a grip of himself before something bad happens. “I’ve... never dated anyone before,” Tsukishima says slowly, not really trusting the words coming out of his mouth at this point. “It’s just something that I never really thought was necessary.”
“But then Yamaguchi and Yachi started dating and it just made me feel… something . I’ve always known that they liked each other, I was the guy in the middle anyway, but when they finally got together I guess I got a bit jealous.”
Kageyama frowns. “Do you have feelings for either of them?”
“No, I don’t,” Tsukishima replies as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. “I mean, I would go out of my way for them but there’s no ‘zing’ with either of them.”
He only realises his words after he has said them and he quickly covers his mouth with his hand, freezing in place. Shit! He cannot believe he just mentioned the ‘zing’ thing in front of Kageyama.
The other boy is tilting his head curiously, obviously having heard the word Tsukishima used. “ ‘Zing’ ?” Kageyama repeats.
Tsukishima drags his hand to mess with his hair in embarrassment. “Don’t ask me to explain it.”
“Okay,” Kageyama simply replies. “It’s from that animation with the vampire running that hotel, right?”
Tsukishima wants to retract from this conversation and evaporate into thin air. “Yes…”
He expects Kageyama to provide a snarky remark or even laugh but he surprises Tsukishima by merely nodding like he completely gets it. Tsukishima is the one weirded out at this point. “That’s it?”
Kageyama raises an eyebrow. “Do you want me to say something?”
“Y-ye- No- I-” Tsukishima lets out a confused whine. “I don’t know?”
Then Kageyama does something that makes Tsukishima’s brain malfunction. He smiles . And it is not that sad excuse of a smile he attempted back in first year. He is actually smiling and making his pretty face look even prettier.
Tsukishima feels something foreign stirring in his chest for the first time and he thinks to himself fuck, what has he gotten himself into?