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gentle your hands and mouths

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Their first kiss comes with the taste of blood, and the pulsing ache of a fight still running through their veins. Kageyama has a deep scratch bleeding sluggishly across his left cheek, while Tsukishima’s upper lip is crusted dark red from an earlier nosebleed. Whatever argument they were having before - long after everyone else had gone home, or it would have never even been allowed to escalate to this point - has been lost under the the dust and debris of their grappling.

“You suck at kissing,” Kageyama says, even as he chases after Tsukishima’s mouth and pulls him down for more. Everything tastes like iron and the gravel digging into his back where Tsukishima is pushing him down are sharp points of pain; there's nothing good about this at all and yet he's left still wanting more.

“Like you have any more practice than I do.” Tsukishima’s usual sneer is made even more vicious by the smear of blood across his face. His usual veneer of stoicism and disinterest has been stripped away, leaving behind a wild, nearly frenzied stranger. He kisses Kageyama again, biting and rough - like an attack, unsophisticated and ugly.

“Kunimi and Kindaichi,” Kageyama lists, voice shaky as he tries to catch his breath. He turns his head away when Tsukishima tries to kiss him again and gets a harsh pinch to his side for his troubles. Tsukishima bites him after that, not hard, but Kageyama flinches anyway in anticipation of further violence. “Iwaizumi-san, too. Just the once, though, and Oikawa-san right after that.”

“Shut the fuck up.” A hand in Kageyama's hair twists his head around so he's facing Tsukishima again. Those usually golden eyes are nearly swallowed by black, an eclipse in miniature, and Kageyama feels his breath catch in his throat. He's not sure if he's wanted anything more than he wants Tsukishima right in this moment.

“Make me,” Kageyama sneers, feeling reckless. “I'm not sure that you're any good at this anyway."

“I'll give you exactly what you need, king.” Tsukishima promises, nipping lightly at Kageyama's neck. "When we're done, you won't be thinking of anything but me."

It's a promise that Tsukishima keeps.

The sun is a hot brand in the sky, and even the shade of the trees that they're hidden under only provide the barest hint of coolness.

“Stay still,” Tsukishima murmurs, hands tightening on Kageyama’s waist as he tries to squirm away. He presses closer until there's almost no space between the two of them, legs tangled together. “And be quiet.”

“Fuck off,” Kageyama spits, already irritated and sore from a long and grueling practice. Being pulled around in the heat by a four-eyed bastard on top of all that just makes everything worse. It's too warm to be this close, and Kageyama can already feel his skin becoming sticky with sweat.  “Why the hell are we even out here?” It's a stupid question. It's been a week since their fight, and they've been pulling each other into shadowed corners every day now.

Tsukishima tugs down Kageyama’s shirt and bites into his collarbone in lieu of an actual response. It starts out lightly at first, with just the barest press of teeth, but soon, he bites down harder - hard enough to cause Kageyama to squeak, a sound higher than someone with as deep as voice as him should be capable of producing. Tsukishima ignores this.

“You have a fucking problem,” Kageyama chokes out, scrabbling for something to grab onto as Tsukishima sucks a blisteringly dark mark against skin. He doesn't know whether or not to push closer or pull away, and the conflicting emotions make him try to twist away. “You’re a - a - fuck - a vampire.”

“You like it." He licks at the mark gently, a last taste, before he pulls away. Nudging a thigh up between Kageyama's legs, he smirks. "Or is this not your cock against me?"

"F-Fuck you," Kageyama stutters, face heating up rapidly. There's nowhere else to go but forward, so he buries his face in Tsukishima’s shoulder, hiding his red face.

"Hmm, tempting." Tsukishima's hand curls around the back of Kageyama's neck, rubbing the soft hairs at the nape of his neck soothingly, and his mouth presses a teasing kiss against the crown of his head. The amusement in Tsukishima's voice is clear as day, and it makes Kageyama itch to bite him back in retaliation. "But I don't think we're quite ready for that just yet."

"You fucking asshole. You know that's not what I meant." Kageyama does bite him then, at the curve where his neck meets his shoulder as hard as he can. Tsukishima doesn't even flinch, just tilts his head to give him better access.

“I hate you,” Kageyama mutters, but he doesn’t bite down again. There's no appeal in the act for him. All Tsukishima tastes like is salt and skin, which is hardly interesting.

Later that night, the bruise on his collarbone throbs with a phantom sort of ache even when nothing is pressing on it except for the fabric of his clothes. It’s less of a deep red now, and more of a curling purple, darkening as the hours pass.

Kageyama doesn’t touch it, but he keeps looking at it, fingers tugging down the collar of his shirt to get a better view. It distracts him while he’s in the bath and, then for another ten minutes when he’s trying to change into his pajamas. There’s something about it that’s compelling - it’s not the first mark Tsukishima’s given him, but it's the biggest one so far - the darkest.

At midnight, right before he goes to bed, he takes a photo of the bruise and sends it before he can talk himself out of it. A reply comes less than five minutes later.

Looks good, the reply reads, next time I’m give you one where everyone can see.

It becomes - a thing, of sorts, between the two of them. A thing of hands and mouths and dark (and not so dark) corners. Practice is the same as always, but there's a palpable change between the two of them, obvious enough that Sugawara-san pulls them aside during practice to ask if they're okay.

"I'm fine," Tsukishima says with a shrug.

Kageyama nods his agreement.

Sugawara sighs and shakes his head, the very image of a weary upperclassman with unruly juniors. "Of course. Well, if there is anything that comes up, know that you can talk to me, okay?"

Kageyama becomes perpetually bruised in one place or another, and often times it's multiple places at once. Every time they meet up, Tsukishima bites a new mark into his skin. There's one on the underside of his wrist that he covers with a wristband in class and another right under his ear that he keeps itching at. The one at the nape of his neck, just under the collar of his uniform, bothers him all week long until he's touching it near constantly. Hinata's points it out, loudly, during practice, speculating about killer mosquitoes or secret rashes until Kageyama sets a toss straight to his face. 

Tsukishima quickly learns all of Kageyama's lessons on kissing, gleaned from a not-so-illustrious romantic career during his first two years of middle school, and improves on every single one of them until it's no contest between him and any of the other people Kageyama's kissed before, not even Iwaizumi. 

It becomes a routine, like brushing his teeth or deciding what to eat for lunch. Go to school, go to practice, make out with Tsukishima for an hour or so, go home, rinse and repeat. Kageyama gets into the rhythm of their meetings, looks forward to them even though he won't admit it. Tsukishima's even less likely that he is to talk about what's going on between them, but Kageyama doesn't need to hear it anyway. It's all obvious in how tight Tsukishima holds him and the thinly veiled eagerness of his mouth after a long day of classes and practice. 

Sometimes they even talk, and it's not even about volleyball. Kageyama listens to more new bands than he can possibly remember, and Tsukishima makes snide remarks about the current plot lines in the drama that's Kageyama's watching with his mom at the moment. It's good, and one of the few nice things in Kageyama's life outside of volleyball. His mom even comments on how he looks happier than usual. The comment makes his cheeks flare with color, but it feels true enough that he doesn't argue about it. 

And then, everything just...stops. 

It ends just as abruptly as it starts. One day, they're kissing in the back of the library until their lips are sore, and the next, Kageyama can't even seem to put himself in Tsukishima's direct line of sight. Every time Kageyama tries to talk to him, even just look him in the eye, Tsukishima always has somewhere else to be or someone else to talk to. His back is a stiff line every time Kageyama approaches him, and his usual insincere smile seems strained, instead of just mocking. 

It's a harsh blow, and he doesn't even know what he did wrong, not really. It feels like his third year of middle school all over again when Kunimi and Kindaichi and everyone left him standing alone on that court. It's not exactly the same, but there's an empty space besides Kageyama that Tsukishima used to fill, and he's not quite sure what to do anymore.

Kageyama lasts two weeks - two weeks without any contact with Tsukishima outside of practice, of acting even worse than they did before the knock-out brawl that made them something more, of radio silence stretching like an ocean between the two of them - before he finally decides to do something about it.

Kageyama catches Tsukishima’s sleeve as everyone is leaving practice, pulling him back with a sharp tug.

“What do you want, king?” Tsukishima's voice is the same measured tone he's been using the past two weeks. He sounds like he's bored or half-asleep, both of which only serve to piss Kageyama off even more. There's no undercurrent of teasing in his voice - not even the light mockery that Kageyama's gotten so used to, a masochistic symptom of being around the four-eyed jerk for too long - until just recently that is.  

"I need to talk to you," he says, tightening the hold he has on Tsukishima's arm when he tries to move away.

Yamaguchi watches them curiously, flicking his attention back and forth between the two of them. “Do you need me to wait, Tsukki?"

"I'm not going anywhere until we talk," Kageyama says. "I'll follow you home if I have to."

Tsukishima sighs heavily then and pinches the bridge of his nose. It takes a few moments before he exhales deeply and says, "Yamaguchi, just go on ahead. I'll deal with whatever our tyrant king wants."

A worried crease appears briefly between Yamaguchi's brows, but after a moment he nods anyway. "Don't fight, okay? That's for both of you, by the way. I know that all those cuts and bruises from a few months ago were from 'the stairs', but let's not have a repeat of that."

"I'm not going to beat him up," Kageyama says, scowling. "I just want to talk."

Tsukishima waves off Yamaguchi's concerned frown. "Lead the way, king. I want to get this over with."


"Tell me what you want and fast, king. Some of us actually do the homework we get, you know."

Now that he has him alone, Kageyama's not quite sure what to do. He didn't really plan much farther than getting Tsukishima alone, since he didn't think he'd even get this far. There's no "and then," which in hindsight is probably the more important part.

"I haven't seen you in a while," Kageyama says after a few false starts that leave Tsukishima looking more and more irritated each time.

"You see me at practice all the time," Tsukishima says, which isn't the point at all, and Kageyama can tell that he knows it.

"You know what I mean," Kageyama huffs out, frustrated. "We were - we were doing stuff together. For a while. And then you just stopped." He stops to gather his thoughts, to calm himself. His voice is shaky when he starts talking again anyway. "I liked it, you know? I liked being together with you, even if we were just talking. I just - I like you, and I don't know what happened." 

“I didn't realize the king was so needy,” Tsukishima says, but it's quiet - weak. 

“Shut up,” he mutters, ducking his head to hide his face as it heats up to a heavy pink. “If you don't want to - ”

“I do,” Tsukishima cuts him off before he can finish. "I do want to be with you, and...I'm sorry. For the past two weeks."


"...I'm sorry," he repeats, and it sounds like it physically pains him to admit it. He looks up at the sky instead of at Kageyama's face. "I was too much for me, okay? I got scared of...of wanting you. It's stupid, but that's what happened. And I'm sorry. For the past two weeks and for not...for not letting you know beforehand." Finally, he looks at Kageyama, for the first time in two weeks. "God knows why, but...I like you. Too."

"You fucking idiot," Kageyama snarls when he finds his voice again. It's tight and strained, but he gets the sound out and that's enough. Taking a page out of Hinata's book, he leaps on top of Tsukishima, eliciting a well-deserved yelp as he knocks him to the ground. "You fucking drove me insane these past two weeks, and for what? For nothing!" He grabs Tsukishima's face and kisses him, pouring all of his anger and frustration and fear into it. It's harsh and lopsided - bad, almost, in a way that it hasn't been between them for a while. 

“Slow down,” Tsukishima murmurs against Kageyama's mouth, like he's an expert in this - like Kageyama wasn't the one who taught him how to kiss in the first place.

For once, though, Kageyama doesn't argue, and just follows Tsukishima's lead. The kiss gentles into something softer, less biting and more exploratory. It’s the slowest kiss that he remembers experiencing - with anybody - and it's good, even if it's nothing like the ones they've shared before. They kiss and kiss, pulling away to breathe, only to be dragged back in again and again. Kageyama ends up in Tsukishima's lap, pressing closer and closer until there's not even enough space for a breath between them. 

“Come home with me," Kageyama says, when he's able to pull away for more than a few seconds. He feels good, almost lightheaded and filled with so much relief that it almost hurts. His breathing is choppy, rough, and he takes a few moments to get his breath under control. He wants to ask for more (go out with me, talk to me, kiss me, play volleyball with me), but just this feels too much already. "Please."

"You pervert," Tsukishima says, but his hands tighten on Kageyama's waist, and that's definitely not a no.

"You're the pervert," Kageyama says, leaning in to kiss him again. He's distracted for a few minutes more by Tsukishima's warm mouth and soft tongue, before he can continue. "My mom's at home. I just...I want to, um, hang out. Like, ah..."

Kageyama can feel his cheeks flushing red already as he trails off. Tsukishima's staring at him like he's grown a second head, and it makes something inside of him shrivel up in shame at even suggesting the idea in the first place.

"Okay," Tsukishima says, finally. He sighs a little, but tugs Kageyama closer when he tries to pull away, a small concession. "We can...hang -"

"Friends," Kageyama finishes, in a rush.

"...a couple," Tsukishima says at the same time. At Kageyama's shocked look, he smirks. "That's what you were trying to say earlier, right?"

"Yeah," Kageyama says. He takes Tsukishima's hand in his own, fingers entwining with one another; it's the first time they've held hands. "That's what I want."

Tsukishima's mouth softens into something more sincere then, and Kageyama feels something in his stomach twist at the sight. "Okay." He kisses him again, meaning for it to be just a peck, but it's a while longer before they even make it out of the school