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strawberry courtship

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When he had started out on his run this morning, Kageyama hadn’t planned on deviating from his usual route too much. The last few weeks — with the training camp in Tokyo and the practice matches against Datekou — had been more than enough change and upheaval for him, and he wanted something familiar to reorient himself. 

However, instead of turning left at the midway point of his run, which would have taken him down by the river, he continued straight until he entered the shopping district. He had been so absorbed in running that when the mostly empty streets became bustling with people, he nearly ran straight into a family out shopping. Hinata probably would have executed some sort of ridiculous jump and mid-air roll to avoid them, but Kageyama was above such theatrics and merely swerved around them. It even looked mostly smooth and purposeful.

When the streets narrowed enough, and there were more people than open space for Kageyama to run on, he decided to end his run, for now at least. He had come farther than he had expected, and now was as good a time as any to stop. 

He tucked himself under an awning to catch his breath, leaning against a wall behind him. His run had kept him reasonably warm, but the air outside was still cold. His breath puffed out in clouds before him. 

As he rested, Kageyama let his mind wander. Tsukishima lived close to here, if he was remembering correctly. It seemed like forever ago to him now, especially after Tokyo and the practice matches, but it had only been a few short weeks ago that they had run into each other in the rain.  

The offer to come back to Tsukishima’s house had been a surprise, but a pleasant one. The two of them had never particularly gotten along, but Kageyama supposed that Tsukishima was always more accommodating than he originally appeared to be.

 Kageyama didn’t have much experience with sleepovers, but he had enjoyed the night he had spent with Tsukishima and his mother. It had been interesting and fun, and something that he unexpectedly wanted to do again.

 When Kageyama had left that Saturday morning, the other boy had said that he could come over again. Kageyama wondered if it had been an open invitation. Since he was already in the neighborhood, it would be convenient to visit. However, Tsukishima didn’t seem like the type to appreciate having someone pop over out of the blue, to be honest. 

Kageyama could already imagine Tsukishima’s glare and exasperated sigh. He’d grouch and complain and probably block the door for way too long before letting him in. At least Kageyama hoped that Tsukishima would let him in. 

 A jingle pulled Kageyama out of his thoughts, and he turned towards the direction of the sound. The doors of the grocery store next door were sliding open as a family entered. The front of the store was decorated with flyers advertising a variety of sales. One in particular caught his eye. 

Seasonal snacks were on sale at the moment. Aside from the typical green tea ones, they also had strawberry snacks. The bright red strawberries on the flyers gleamed enticingly. 

Kageyama was reasonably sure that Tsukishima liked strawberry-flavored things. He could vaguely recall a half-heard conversation between Tsukishima and Yamaguchi in the locker room about some kind of special strawberry cake. There had also been the strawberry ice cream Tsukishima and his mother had shared during his visit a few weeks ago.

Bringing a gift was always appreciated, right? It would be like a thank you present for Tsukishima and his family’s hospitality. It would also make it much harder for Tsukishima to turn Kageyama away when he showed up at his front door. 

Idea mentally approved, Kageyama pushed himself away from the wall he had been leaning against. It was time to go shopping.

 


 

Kageyama’s shopping experience was pretty limited. He bought things at the school canteen and sometimes at the small food shops on his way to and from school, but he had never been grocery shopping on his own. 

There were more people bustling around than he had expected, and he wasn’t sure where to go. For a moment, Kageyama was only able to stand awkwardly in the middle of the entrance, making those coming and going step around him. After earning a dark look from a hunched over grandmother, he quickly moved out of the way. 

Obviously, he needed a game plan, or he’d be here all day. 

“Excuse me,” said a voice from behind him. Kageyama looked over his shoulder and found one of the store’s workers looking up at him. “Do you need help finding anything?”

“Yes,” Kageyama said, quickly turning to face her. “Where’s the strawberry stuff?”

“Fresh strawberries?” she asked. “Or do you mean something else?”

“Strawberry snacks,” Kageyama said. “Or anything strawberry flavored?”

“Well, there’s a lot of strawberry items in our snack aisle,” she said. “We also have a bakery section that has some strawberry pastries, too. Would either of those work?”

“Can you show me both?” Kageyama asked. He didn’t know how picky Tsukishima was — probably really picky, if he had to guess — so it was probably better to have a lot of options. 

She nodded and beckoned with her hand for him to follow her. Kageyama trailed after her like an obedient duckling. 

 


 

There were strawberry hard candies, gummy candies, cookies, wafers, mochi, and so much more. Many items were also limited edition, with elaborate seasonal packaging. Kageyama knew that he had wanted options, but now there were too many options. He didn’t know what Tsukishima liked, and if he picked wrong, then the other boy was just going to mock him. 

Kageyama didn’t eat much sweets either, outside of the occasional popsicle in the summer to cool down. He usually preferred savory foods, curry, nikuman, and the like. He didn’t know what was good or mediocre or downright bad. This was worse than trying to pick a flavor of milk to drink at lunch. 

The only solution then, obviously, was to buy one of everything. Or one of almost everything since some of those limited-edition items were way outside of his budget. That way, there had to be something in there that Tsukishima liked. Kageyama assumed that he would find something to complain about regardless, but if his mouth was full, he’d complain a little bit less. 

With that decided, he began to pile one of each item into his arms. One of each item was still a lot of food, though, and all too soon, his arms were full. 

He had to set everything down and rearrange things so that they were stacked neatly, but soon, he was able to carry everything comfortably enough. At the top of the stack, he added a box of green tea chocolate. Tsukishima’s mother had mentioned liking them, so at least she was easy enough to shop for. 

Snack aisle pillaged, Kageyama carried his bounty over to the bakery section. There had to be something in the pile that Tsukishima liked, but just in case, he’d buy a few items from the bakery, too. 

The bakery had a decent array of pastries in a number of flavors. Kageyama honed in on the strawberry ones and selected a few buns, breads, and one delicate looking cake packaged securely in plastic. 

It was harder to carry everything with the addition of the bakery items, but Kageyama was nothing if not stubborn. 

“First time shopping?” an older woman asked him as he was trying to figure out how to stack everything carefully and not squish anything in his arms. 

“Yes,” he said. He put everything back down again so that he could organize it again. 

“Here’s a tip for you,” she said. “Always assume you’re going to get more than you think. If you only want a few things, get a basket. If you think you’re only going to fill a basket, get a cart.”

Kageyama’s head whipped up. “They have baskets?”

She nodded and pointed towards the front of the store. “Right by the doors.”

Kageyama frowned. A basket would definitely be helpful, but he has to carry everything all the way through the store to even get the basket itself. He might as well just carry everything then. 

“I’ll watch over your things if you want to go get one,” the woman said, taking pity on his obvious struggle. 

“Oh,” Kageyama said, surprised. He hadn’t even considered that as an option. “Thank you.” He got up from his crouch and bowed to her before hurrying towards the front of the store. 

Basket acquired, Kageyama hurried back to the bakery section where the woman was still waiting. 

“Thank you,” Kageyama said again when he reached her. 

She waved him off. “Someone has to teach the younger generation some life skills.”

Kageyama nodded. It probably was smart to learn how to grocery shop effectively. 

The basket helped a lot. Everything fit inside, and he didn’t have to worry about keeping things neat or stacked so that he could hold it. Grocery shopping was a piece of cake obviously. 

The basket was pretty filled. There was no way that Tsukishima wouldn’t find something he liked from all the options. Once Kageyama presented them to him, he was going to be so overcome with joy. 

Okay, maybe joy was too much. But Kageyama was sure that Tsukishima wouldn’t be as annoyed to see him. 

Except — what if he still didn’t like anything? Kageyama could probably still push his way into Tsukishima’s house and maybe even guilt Tsukishima into eating something anyway, but the thought made him strangely upset. He wanted to bring Tsukishima something that he liked to eat. 

The one strawberry thing that Kageyama had seen Tsukishima eat and enjoy was ice cream. With his basket, he headed over to the frozen aisles in search of strawberry ice cream. 

There were ice cream bars and popsicles, but Tsukishima and his mother had shared a pint of ice cream. There were different brand options, which meant another decision to make from there. 

The freezer aisle was cold, though, and Kageyama didn’t know enough about all the brands to tell the difference among all of them, so he just squinted and picked one. Ice cream was ice cream to him. 

Ice cream picked out, Kageyama was officially ready to check out. His basket, already full, got just a bit fuller. There was no way that Tsukishima wasn’t going to find something he liked out of everything. 

 


 

The shopping bag wasn’t particularly heavy, but it was filled enough to be bulging in places. Red, pink, and white packaging made up the majority of the items. He had probably gone overboard with all of his purchases. 

“Tsukishima better let me in,” Kageyama huffed out under his breath. Adjusting the bag so that it was more comfortable in his arms, he started to make his way towards the other boy’s house.