It’s really not that surprising that you and Kenma end up falling in together. The only other person he knows well on your team is Hinata, and he’s usually too much to deal with in large doses. Kageyama is either too moody or too busy practising with Hinata – not that he makes for good company anyway. Yamaguchi is, of course, welcome company for anyone, but he’s spent most of the training camp practising with Ennoshita and Noya. You’re convinced he’s going to be the next captain – and you know you’re not the only one.
The last training camp had been… difficult for you. Training with Kuroo, Bokuto and Akaashi in the third gym had been incredibly tedious at times, but you’d still learned a lot from them. The only one left now is Akaashi, and it bugs you to admit that you miss the other two’s boisterous presence.
You glance down at Kenma – who is currently using your stomach as a pillow whilst he plays his video game – and know that you’re not the only one.
The black-haired boy – though the ends of his hair are still blond as ever – shifts onto his front as the next song in your playlist begins, and you stifle a sigh. Kenma doesn’t outright say that he misses Kuroo, but you can feel it in the way he seeks out your company when most of the others are practising. You’re not sure if it’s because you remind him of the older boy, or because you’re detached enough from Nekoma to not make Kenma miss Kuroo even more.
Out of the corner of your eye something shifts. Sure enough, you turn and notice Lev creeping up on Kenma. You can’t hear if he says anything because of your headphones, but you guess not because Kenma doesn’t seem to realise he’s there. The half-Russian had calmed down a lot since the last training camp, but that doesn’t make him any less annoying.
When Lev meets your eyes, you give him your iciest glare from behind your glasses. He visibly flinches before backing out of the room, and you can’t help but feel satisfied that he hasn’t disturbed the tiny corner of peace Kenma and you have carved out for yourselves.
You feel a rumble against your chest. You glance down at Kenma, but he doesn’t seem to be looking at you. With him though that’s not uncommon, so you lift up one of your headphones anyway. “Did you say something?”
“Thank you.” The smaller boy is still entirely focused on his game, but the words are sincere.
Your heart clenches for no apparent reason. “No problem.” You let the music take over again, this time leaning back and closing your eyes as well.
You must have fallen asleep, because it feels like only minutes later that Yamaguchi is shaking you awake. Groggily, you pull off your headphones and try to sit up, but there’s still a heavy wait on your chest.
Sure enough, you look down and see Kenma still clinging to you like a cat. His games console has been carefully set down at your side, and his lithe arms are wrapped around your chest. You fight back a blush, but Yamaguchi doesn’t seem to even notice. He speaks to you with a low whisper.
“It’s fine – don’t worry.” He gives you a familiar, freckled smile. “Ennoshita is still talking to the other third years and I think the new first years are practising with some of the other teams. And Hinata and Kageyama are, well.” His grin widens. “Doing what they usually do.”
Your mouth thins into an unamused line. They’re still practising, which means they’ll stumble into the room at the last possible moment, wake everyone up, step on your glasses and then get up first tomorrow and eat all of the best food. You still don’t know where they get all of their endless energy from.
Yamaguchi glances down at Kenma, who is still breathing slowly and evenly against your chest. “Is he ok?”
“He’s fine.” As far as you’re aware, Kenma is behaving the same way he always does, with the exception of spending more time in your company. “He’s just tired.” You place a hand carefully on the back of Kenma’s head – so you’ll be able to tell if he starts waking up – and he almost seems to lean into the touch.
Yamaguchi hums thoughtfully, but his face is carefully blank when you look up at him. He starts to settle down next to you, and you can’t help but feel the need to tease him.
“How was practice, captain?”
A fierce blush quickly appears over his freckled cheeks, and you grin wickedly at him even as he frowns. “I really wish you’d stop calling me that.”
“Whatever you say, captain.”
“Tsukki.” You can’t quite ever describe his voice as a whine anymore, but it’s close.
“Fine, fine.” You roll your eyes at his reluctance. “It’s obvious that you’re going to be the next one though. Everyone thinks so.”
Yamaguchi gnaws at his lower lip worriedly. “People can think a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t make it true.” His gaze drifts back to Kenma, and you feel your grip on the back of his hair tighten momentarily without meaning to. Ah.
Most of Nekoma had been shocked that Kenma hadn’t wanted to step up as captain. It was obvious that he was reluctant, but he was one of the only second years that had experience as a first string player – and it’s not like that air-head Taketora knew enough to guide a team. But Kenma had refused outright to consider even the position of vice-captain. (All of this, of course, you've picked up from Hinata - who spends way too much time in Lev's gossipy company.) No one had seemed to realise how adamantly he did not want to fill in Kuroo’s place.
Kenma shifts under your hand and mumbles softly in his sleep. You want to believe it’s only your imagination that makes out the word ‘Kuro’.
You realise that you’ve started stroking at Kenma’s dark hair when you catch Yamaguchi’s eyes following the motion, and jerk your hand away as gently as you can. “Still. You’d be a great captain.” You meet Yamaguchi’s eyes. “You will be a great captain.”
He seems to gain confidence just from your words. “Thanks, Tsukki.” His delighted smile even manages to draw one from you as well.
Yamaguchi leaves to start preparing the rest of the futons for sleeping, and you’re left alone with your feline-like companion yet again. Kenma still hasn’t woken up, even though you’ve shifted several times and you’re sure that your stomach can’t be that comfortable to sleep on.
After shaking his shoulder and even prodding his face several times, it seems like Kenma really doesn’t intend on waking up any time soon. Your mouth shifts into a grimace, because you’re going to have to get up at some point. You suppose that you could just leave him be and pull the covers up around the both of you. None of his team members – other than Lev – have come looking for him so far anyway, so maybe they’re not expecting him to return.
The sensible part of you decides that that isn’t a wise train of though (even if Kenma is so warm against your chest). You push some of the hair back from his eyes and sigh.
Turns out that Kenma is just as light has his small frame would suggest – but it still takes an incredible amount of manoeuvring to successfully pick him up. His head lolls back to lean against your chest, and one of his hands sleepily shifts up to grip your t-shirt. He almost purrs happily in his sleep, and you feel your palms start to sweat.
It’s odd, because you’d never thought of Kenma as particularly vulnerable before. Although he’s quiet, Kenma is still sharp and quick-witted – he’s fooled you more than once in a match – and you don’t doubt that he’s more than capable of avoiding trouble whenever he needs to. But as you hold him in your arms, you feel a strange sense of protectiveness overcome you.
Your arms tense around him as you take the first few steps out of the room. He grips your shirt even more tightly, and you wonder if this is how Kuroo felt for so many years.