Kuroo has a thing for long hair. It’s not something he’s secretive about - in fact, he’s often teased Kenma, asking him if he grows his hair for his best friend’s sake (to which Kenma always responds by calling him a moron).
So yeah. Long hair. Kuroo likes it. He knows. Kenma knows. The whole team knows. Best friend taunts aside, it’s not much of a big deal, just something that comes up now and again during locker room chatter, but never on the court.
Nekoma is having a practice match against Karasuno as both teams gear up for nationals. There’s an extra energy to this one that has been absent in the past. Both teams have trained hard and are giving it their absolute all. The once far off dream of a battle at the garbage heap is suddenly within grasp, and neither team wants to back down. Even Kenma has been thrumming with energy, a glint of excitement in his eyes every time Hinata steps foot on the other side of the net.
They’re tied up, end of the third set, and everyone is tired and sweaty.
No one can afford to slip up now, Kuroo thinks as Karasuno sets up to serve. It’s their ace’s turn, and Kuroo nods for Yaku and Inuoka to get ready to receive.
With a snap, the volleyball over the net into Inuoka’s arms, but the first year’s form is off and the ball ricochets out of bounds into the gym wall.
Damnit, Kuroo thinks as the scorekeeper flips the board to match point.
From the other side of the court, the ref whistles for a timeout.
“Why would they want to stop that momentum?” Yaku asks.
“It’s their number 3,” Kenma says.
On the other side of the net, Karasuno’s ace is rubbing his neck and fiddling with his headband as he approaches the coaches gathered on the side. “Sorry,” he says with a blush. “It’s just - it snapped. Guess I served a little too hard.”
Huh? Kuroo finds himself thinking for the second time in a span of 30 seconds. He watches the little blonde manager flit around nervously, rummaging through bags and pockets.
Whatever it is, it’s not Kuroo’s problem, and he seizes the chance to huddle with his team. The ace, Nekoma has learned, has picked up a nasty serve to match his spikes, but it’s nothing they can’t handle, Kuroo tells his team. “Not as long as we keep our focus and let the blood flow.”
They all nod as the whistle blows. It’s time to win this thing.
That number 3 may have thrown them off before, but it won’t happen again. This time they’re ready for him. This time -
“Pardon the interruption!” Karasuno’s ace shouts as he gets back into position.
“Asahi!” Shouts Karasuno’s vice captain, “Stop apologizing and serve!”
“Sorry!” Asahi shouts back. “Or er - I mean -”
“Right!” Asahi gets into position, bouncing the volleyball in front of him once, testing its weight. He focuses on the court ahead of him, hefts the ball into the air, and then he’s running, jumping, flying as he serves the ball right at Kuroo and Kuroo -
Kuroo doesn’t notice any of this because Asahi has abandoned his headband and his hair is down, falling over his shoulders in gentle mahogany waves, bouncing with his movements, spreading and gleaming like a halo as it catches in the light of the gym just right and holy shit how has Kuroo never noticed that Karasuno’s ace had such beautiful hair so perfect for touching, for running your fingers through and tugging and -
And that’s when Kuroo gets a volleyball right to the face.
“Weren’t you the one who just gave a speech on staying focused?” Kai asks.
Kuroo is flat on his back, staring up at the too-bright lights of the gym as the rest of the team gathers around him. Distantly, he can hear Karasuno cheering over their victory.
“Oh he was focusing alright,” Yaku says.
“Well he did let the blood flow,” Comes Kenma’s voice. The whole team laughs as they start to disperse and oh no, did he pop a boner? Please oh god, let him not have a boner. Kuroo sits up and hunches over.
“Here,” Kenma says, shoving a tissue at his face.
“Huh?” He says. This day has really been full of huh moments for him.
“What do you expect?” Kenma rolls his eyes and dabs under his nose, and Kuroo realizes that he’s bleeding. “You took a service ace right to the face.”
Oh, so that’s what he was talking about. Kuroo uncurls himself to stand up and thinks he has never been so thankful to have a nosebleed in his life.
“Kenma!!” Comes a shout so loud and exuberant that it can only possibly belong to one person. Kuroo doesn’t miss the way Kenma perks up.
“That game was so good!” Hinata whoops as he charges towards them. “Your team was all voom and we were all gwah and then at the end Asahi was all-” The redhead’s shouting dissolves as he waves his arms around to articulate his point. Kenma laughs and smiles at him.
All of them turn to see Daichi and the rest of the Karasuno third years approaching them.
“We’re taking a break for lunch,” Daichi says. “Don’t get lost. Again.”
“Yes, captain!” Hinata chirps. “Kenma, let’s go eat, I’m starving.”
“Oh,” Kenma says, biting his lip. “We still need to have our team meeting, so I-”
“Go on,” Kuroo says, taking the bloody tissue out of Kenma’s hand and nudging him forward. “I’ll take care of everything and catch you up later.”
“Kenma, as your captain, I am telling you to go get lunch with Chibi-chan, alright?”
Kenma presses his lips together tightly - his version of a grin - and nods. Kuroo smiles and watches him go off.
They grow up so fast.
“Nice receive, captain,” Sugawara says.
Daichi elbows him, before turning to face Kuroo fully and shake his hand. “It was a good game.”
Asahi trails behind both them looking mortified. His hair is still down. “Sorry about that last serve,” he says, nervously twirling a lock between his fingers.
“Don’t worry about it,” Kuroo says. Please stop, I am literally dying, he thinks.
“Honestly, I didn’t mean to-”
“It’s my fault for getting distracted,” Kuroo says. I want touch you, he thinks.
Next to them, Sugawara snorts. “Yeah, I wonder what could have possibly distracted you.”
“Suga,” Daichi hisses while Kuroo blushes to his ears and tries not to implode on the spot.
“Anyways!” Kuroo says, a little too loud. “I should get back to my team!”
“Right,” Asahi says, still fiddling with his dumb, stupid, beautiful hair. “I just wanted to apologize, so-”
“Really, Azumane-san, it’s no big deal,” Kuroo says and takes a step back because he needs to get out of here before he does something really stupid.
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that!” Sugawara hums with a mischievous grin and a knowing look in his eyes, and Kuroo wonders if Nekoma would get disqualified if he murdered the vice captain of Karasuno.
“You are bleeding, after all,” Sugawara continues, placing a forceful hand on both Kuroo and Asahi’s shoulders so neither of them can escape. “I think Azumane-san should make it up to Kuroo here. Personally. Maybe over lunch?”
Asahi chokes. Kuroo thinks implosion is starting to sound pretty good right about now.
“In fact,” Sugawara says, and suddenly he’s forcibly walking them both to the gym doors, “I think I saw a ramen shop on the way here that has a couple special. Isn’t that convenient?”
With a push, Sugawara shoves them outside. “Have fun kids!” He sing songs, before slamming the door shut behind them. When Kuroo pulls at the handle, it only clicks in place. Locked. Kuroo just got locked out of his own gym.
“So,” He starts, turning to Asahi, whose face is as red as Kuroo’s uniform.
“Sorry about him,” Asahi mumbles, staring at the ground. He thumbs a lock of hair and nervously pulls it between his teeth and that is it.
“I LIKE YOUR HAIR.”
Asahi whips his head up to stare at him, chestnut hair tumbling in the breeze.
“That’s why I missed the receive,” Kuroo says.
“Because you like my hair?” Asahi asks.
“I was thinking about, um. Touching it. I got distracted.”
Now they’re both blushing.
“You can, if you want,” Asahi finally says, eyes averted.
“Huh?” Kuroo says, for the eighteenth time that day, and god, Kuroo is a smart person. He is an articulate person. It’s just that sometimes there are beautiful aces with beautiful hair, and they make his IQ drop into the mid 70s.
“My hair,” Asahi says. “You can touch it if you want.”
Kuroo reaches a hand up and hesitantly runs his fingers through Asahi’s hair. It should probably be gross and sweaty with how hard they had been playing not ten minutes ago, but instead it’s just impossibly soft under his touch. Before he realizes what he’s doing, he’s running his other hand down Asahi’s neck, gathering the gentle waves there in a fist, and tugging him into a kiss. Asahi tenses, his own hand coming up to brush through the short little hairs at the base of Kuroo’s neck. The warmth of it is enough to remind Kuroo of where he is and, shit, who he’s with.
“Sorry!” Kuroo says as he pulls back. “Shit, sorry, I should have asked, god, that was shitty of me, I really-”
“It’s okay,” Asahi murmurs. His lips - lips as soft as his hair and fuck, no, Kuroo does not need another thing to fixate on - curl into a gentle smile. “I liked it,” he says.
“Oh,” Kuroo says. “That’s good then.”
They stand there a moment, before Kuroo realizes he’s still got a hand curled around Asahi’s hair. He pulls back with a quiet laugh. “So, how about that ramen?”
Asahi laughs too. “Ramen sounds good.”
Three weeks later, Nekoma and Karasuno finally face off on the national stage.
When it’s Asahi’s turn to serve, he stares straight at Kuroo, smiles, and lets down his hair.