A/N: Yo. It's time for the third chapter.

I'm shit at writing all this feelings shit.

Shout out again to Teide for helping me with ideas and stuff.

I'd also like to note that I have Kei calling Akiteru by...Akiteru in this, simply because I don't like putting onii-chan for reasons I don't understand (I can't even remember if it's onii-chan or some other variation of it he calls his brother but w/e he's calling him Akiteru).

When Tsukishima reaches the double doors, he can feel his heart pounding in his chest, but he's not sure if it's because of how fast he ran to the hospital, or if it's because of the nervousness he feels building up. Akiteru's awake. The minute he'd spoken the news, Takeda's face had lit up as he said how great that was but for some reason, Tsukishima couldn't figure out what he was feeling. No bright smile spread on his face, and no wave of relief washed over his heart. Instead, he'd just felt…frightened. At least, he'd thought it had been fear, but now that he thinks back, he isn't sure if that was quite right—not that he knows just what exactly he had felt now either. He doesn't even know what he's feeling right at this moment.

Takeda had ran back to the gym to get the boy's water and other belongings he might have left there and had told him to get changed and to go to the hospital right away – "I'm sure your brother will be ecstatic to see you!" – and just as he'd taken a foot out of the door, he'd spun around and told him that he'd have to tell the coach about his situation as well, but really, Tsukishima was too confused about his feelings to really care so he'd simply nodded and began digging out his trousers. Staying in his t-shirt and hoodie – which Takeda was fetching – would be a lot more comfortable than wearing his usual full school attire, so all he'd really needed was his trousers and outdoor shoes.

The whole way to the hospital, Tsukishima hadn't been thinking anything other than, 'What do I say?' and, 'What do I do?' He didn't even know why his mum and Akiteru had been together in the first place—last time he'd checked, his brother was still staying away from home—but hospitals weren't a place where you were just supposed to attack patients with questions and, in all honesty, he wasn't even interested in an answer anyway. He didn't care about what had happened; he didn't care why Akiteru had been with his mother; he didn't care about who else was involved in the accident; he didn't care if anyone else had already died or if they were severely injured, because really, all that was important was that two of his family were in the hospital with wounds that he didn't even know the details behind and his mother was dying and Akiteru was probably dying too and he…couldn't do anything about that.

And now he knows why he was frightened.

Now that Akiteru was awake, he'd have to face his helplessness straight on, and he wasn't sure if he'd even be able to handle it.

Tsukishima notices his father leaving the café area and he speeds up his pace to catch up. As soon as his long arms can reach, he goes for tapping the man on the shoulder over shouting out. "Oh, Kei! Isn't it a bit early for you to be finished practice?"

"Takeda-sensei forced me to leave early and come here after I read the text," he explained, hoping to hell that his dad didn't ask why a teacher knew—not that he would have minded, he's sure, but it's not like he's ever been in a situation like this before to be able to accurately judge his father's reaction to anything. Thankfully, no further questions are asked of him and he relaxes just that tiny touch.

"Do you want anything to eat or something before we go?"

"Already had something on the way here." Well, more specifically, he'd had water on the way there, but he didn't want his dad to begin worrying about him because of his runaway appetite and he definitely didn't want him to suspect him of not eating enough either. He's gotten so used to people giving him back looks of disbelief at his answers that he feels somewhat surprised when his father accepts his response and begins walking to the ward. Forgot that that's the kind of answer people generally believe.

The closer they get to where his brother is staying, the more Tsukishima can feel that horrible nausea building up again. There's a headache forming too, and he can't help but begin fidgeting with his fingers and biting his bottom lip out of nervousness. Honestly, some part of him doesn't want to see what state Akiteru's in – if he was bad enough that he'd been admitted to ICU, just what would he look like? Kei can't even begin to imagine what sort of injuries his brother's sustained and he doesn't want to ask or he's sure he'll feel worse, but he's pretty sure just seeing his brother is going to have him fidgety and unfocused and wanting to leave.

It's been a while since they've last spoken, too. And with the last proper memories of his brother being nothing short of good…

"Your mother hasn't woken up yet, but she's definitely doing a lot better than she was yesterday." Tsukishima can't help but jump when his father's voice suddenly assaults him, jolting him out of his thoughts.

"She's not out of the blue yet though, is she?" It's out of his mouth before he has time to think about it and he's suddenly regretting having spoken it, but they're his real thoughts and he knows there's no point in taking them back.


His father doesn't say anything to reassure him that everything will be all right and that's all the proof the boy needs to know that his mother's a lot worse off than Akiteru is. He holds back a sigh as he stares down at his feet skiffing along the white floor, and nothing else is exchanged between them besides a large, gentle hand resting on his back.

Akiteru and his mother are in separate rooms and though part of that makes Tsukishima happy—he really doesn't want to see what state his mother's in at the same time as Akiteru—it just makes it clear to him how badly their bodies have been damaged.

The minute he walks into the room Akiteru is being kept in, his blood runs cold and that nausea and headache come back to hit him at full force. Tsukishima doesn't understand the reason for most of the machines scattered around the room, but what he does know is that they're all attached to his brother, lying in the middle of the room, looking as pale as a ghost.

It's been so long since golden eyes have rested on his brother and the first time he sees him again is when he's dying. And that has his chest aching even more painfully than he imagined it would.

"Are you okay?" The blonde feels a hand on his shoulder and looks at his father behind him, only just noticing that he's stopped right in the road of the doorway and he knows that his father won't believe him if he says yes, but he nods anyway and slowly slides into the room, fingers pulled into loose fists and teeth clenched tight, but the closer he gets to Akiteru, the more he sees how ill he looks and the more he notices how many bandages there are and the more he notices all those tubes fixed into his body and he resorts to biting heavily down on his lip to stop anything from coming out.

All Tsukishima wants to do is rip every single foreign object out of his brother's body and run with him out of the hospital. But he knows that that won't help—that Akiteru needs those tubes in to help keep him alive; that Akiteru needs those machines connected to him if he wants to live. He's all too aware of how his father's gaze is glued to him as he nervously sits down on one of the seats beside his brother's bed and it sends a shiver down his spine.

"Ah, Kei! You came to see me!" Tsukishima's head jerks up from the fingers now going through a cycle of interlacing and unlocking the minute he hears a quiet, slightly raspy voice from in front of him. Brown eyes fondly look over at the tall boy and the minute they do, the breath catches in his throat. Akiteru is dying. Akiteru is in pain. Yet how can he look so happy? How can he sound so happy? Despite how tired his brother looks, Kei can see that large, gentle smile clear as day and that friendly crease underneath his eyes.

Fingers now gripping tightly onto the fabric of his trousers, the blonde turns his head down and mutters, "Of course I did. Why wouldn't I?" He hears a chuckle come from the older—a genuine chuckle—and it leaves Kei swirling in nothing but confusion. He doesn't understand this at all.

"I'm going to sit with your mum for now, okay? Her room's right next door if you need me." Tsukishima nods at his father's call, but doesn't look back, doesn't say anything out loud, just keeps staring down at his hands, finding it hard to stay still as the fabric rubs between his fingers. When the door slides shut, a silence spreads out between them for a long time and it just makes the blonde feel worse. He knows that Akiteru is waiting for him to speak—is waiting until he feels comfortable enough.

But really, he isn't sure if he ever will be.

Wanting to break the silence more than anything, Tsukishima takes a deep breath in through his nose and slowly exhales through his mouth. "So…how are you feeling?" the boy eventually gets out, fingers fidgeting with each other as he turns his eyes up to look at the other still smiling as he turns his head to look more at his younger brother.

"I've felt better, but at least I'm alive, right?"

Tsukishima doesn't even linger on what's just been said because he knows that he'll counter it with something pessimistic—he certainly knows that what he's thinking isn't the happiest of thoughts and if anything, he definitely doesn't want to pass it on to Akiteru; doesn't want Akiteru to linger on useless thoughts just like he's been doing the whole day.

"…Does it hurt?"

"It does, but it's really not that bad."

"Are you…" just saying that because you're worried about me?

The second half of the sentence remains unspoken, even after Akiteru gives him a questioning look; even after he tries to press him for the rest of what he was going to ask. But all Tsukishima can do is clench his trousers yet again and stare intently down at the white floor beneath his feet. He hadn't wanted to show his brother such a vulnerable side to him when he's the one that should be cared for—when he's the one that should be scared and defenceless—but really, the younger doesn't recall feeling as much fear pumping through his body as he feels now; even then, he isn't sure if it's fear of being caught unable to cope or fear of his brother...'s condition not going in quite the way they want it to.

Now that Tsukishima's here, all he wants to do is leave. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say to his brother before he came in, he doesn't know what he wants to say to him now. Ever since Akiteru had moved out, Kei had rarely spoken to him. Even when he came back to visit, he was always holed up in his room, not even heading out to grace him with a simple hello. Actually, maybe our relationship had become strained even before he left. The day Tsukishima went to one of his brother's games, only to realise he wasn't playing but in fact, supporting, even after all he'd told him, was the day that the thread holding them together began to snap.

Neither were bringing it up though, and both were sure they knew the reason.

"And what about you?" Tsukishima is pulled from his thoughts by his brother breaking the silence this time and he reluctantly looks up, eyebrows scrunching up in confusion at the meaning behind the question. "How are you holding up?" That strangely bright smile that had been decorating Akiteru's face earlier had dulled, and instead, concern had somehow creeped in.

And that was all it took to have Tsukishima beginning to shake in rage. Again with that fucking question. The wording was different but the meaning was the same: "Are you okay? Because you really don't look like it."

Kei takes another deep breath, but it comes out shaky and he's sure his brother can hear him and fuck he's screwing up he's screwing up so bad what is he doing he has to respond he can't just not respond he can't—


It's out of his mouth before he has time to think and he's silently cursing so much inside of his head that he's sure he'd have detention for months if his teachers could hear him now. That one word may as well have been "Lie"—it would have the exact same meaning, that's for sure. But Akiteru's expression is barely changing, if at all, and Tsukishima can feel the calm he's trying to tell himself he's in beginning to break and what the fuck, what is he supposed to do now? Fucking dammit: why does he matter? He's not the one lying in a hospital bed, tubes and wires everywhere sticking into probably every damn fucking piece of visible skin, trying to be happy and not make people worry while there's still a chance he could die and the pain present making that truth all too clear! So why is he asking about me?

"You don't have to be okay, Kei," the older eventually says. "No one's expecting you to be. If you keep it all bottled up and tell people lies about how you feel, you're going to regret it later."

What; just like how you told me so many lies back when you were in high school then regretted it when I actually found out the truth? Akiteru's voice is frighteningly stern, but it's not enough to scare that spiteful thought away from Tsukishima's mind. It takes a lot of willpower not to say it out loud, and he hopes to God that there's no frown visible on his face.

"I said I was fine and I meant it, Akiteru," Kei eventually manages to throw back, voice somehow calm but he could still feel it raising in volume and he isn't meaning it to and he's trying so hard to calm himself down but he can tell it isn't working from the way his palm is starting to hurt from him gripping the fabric enough that his fingers have reached all the way to the plasters now covering the indentations.

"Kei." Akiteru speaks with a warning tone now, as if Tsukishima has to tell him and that's all it takes to really piss the blonde off.

"Why are you asking me how I feel!? Why does everybody keep asking me!? It's you who's in the goddamn fucking hospital!" Tsukishima doesn't notice when he stands up, but the worried frown on Akiteru's face has the boy guiltily looking down at the floor as he lowers himself back down onto the blue plastic. "…Sorry," he mutters, picking at the index fingernail of his left hand as the anger dissipates into a bucket-load of embarrassment and shame. It isn't fair to be shouting at his tired and injured brother and Tsukishima knows it, and the guilt he feels won't stop tightening in his chest, clenching round his heart until he's sure it's going to burst.

"It's all right," Akiteru reassures gently, a small smile now re-adorning his features. "But what are you talking about 'everybody keeps asking you'? As in, asking if you're okay?"

"Well…yeah," he murmurs quietly, sheepishly glancing up at his brother. "I'm pretty sure everyone in the volleyball team's asked me at least once and so many teachers asked me as well and Takeda-sensei even pretty much confronted me by myself just to ask me that, and every time I give them an answer, they just look at me like I'm spouting nothing but lies to them. I mean, if they're not going to believe me, then why ask in the first place?"

The smile is pained now as the older replies: "It's just because they care about you, Kei." The head of blonde hair rises up to show a screwed-up face, as if Akiteru had just said the most preposterous thing in the world, but regardless, he continues. "A lot of the time it's when someone is clearly lying about themselves that it becomes clear something's wrong. They were just looking out for you—no, screw that, they are looking out for you."

"Why would they care about me?" Those six words are enough to have Akiteru's eyes widening and a pitying expression laid clear as day on his face. It's that pitying look that nearly sends Tsukishima in a rage all over again, but this time, he's able to control his anger—just. What's with that look? He wants to say it out loud, but he knows that it's one of those questions that'll backfire on him.

"Well, why wouldn't they?"

Tsukishima's answer is immediately projected in front of his eyes, but his mouth isn't quite able to form those words. Many times does his mouth open and shut—his eyes flicker from the ground, to his hands, back up to Akiteru. Eventually, the only way the blonde manages to force the response out of him is by never removing his golden-eyed gaze from his hands and releasing the fabric of his school trousers and digging his fingers directly into his palms to remind himself of how much worse the pain he feels from that is compared to how much it'll hurt to say what he's about to say to his brother.

"Because there's no reason for any of them to want to care for me." Kei takes a deep breath before adding just one more section: "Someone like me doesn't deserve to be cared for."

Tsukishima never sees the look of shock and pain and worry and confusion and anger on Akiteru's face the minute he responds to his question. The younger was never one to frequently voice his feelings out loud – he never wrote them down either. Any time someone asked him, he would throw on a façade and give them what they wanted. But this was one of those times where that façade wasn't working as well as it should, and that was one thing Tsukishima didn't want to accept, no matter how well he knew how true it was.

Tsukishima has never been one for making friends. It's not that he's particularly against the idea, he just doesn't really know what a 'friend' is. What exactly makes someone a friend? If they're nice to you, are they your friend? If they help you out, are they your friend? If they do things for you, are they your friend? Or are they just manipulating you so that they can benefit from your good points? Tsukishima is both tall and intelligent—not once has he ever been happy to have been bestowed with those traits. When he was young, he always assumed the other boys in his class befriended him because they liked him – he always thought that having people to talk to would make him happy.

But in reality, it just made him feel worse.

Tsukishima has never felt as lonely as he did back then. To have friends makes one happy. To have those friends ignore you unless they needed you for your height or your brain makes one unbelievably lonely. For a while, the blonde went along with them—thought that it was better than having no one. But after overhearing snide comments about him when his 'friends' had thought he had left, he'd never felt more lonely. After that, the only thing he could to do was refuse requests to 'hang out' with the 'friends' he thought he had made. All that lead to was badmouthing straight to his face; not that he'd ever told anyone living in his house.

Trust is a troublesome concept—a concept that brings nothing but unnecessary fear and loneliness and hurt into one's life.

With that belief in mind, Tsukishima erased the word 'trust' from his dictionary. If he didn't trust anyone, he'd live a much happier life with little conflict that would affect him emotionally. Being spiteful to others and forcing them to keep their distance is something Tsukishima finds comfort in; it makes him feel safe, because being rejected or insulted by them doesn't hit him as hard. If he hasn't tried to befriend them in the first place, then being hated isn't something he needs to care about.

It's as Tsukishima sorts through these thoughts that something occurs to him. The volleyball team…have no reason to care about me. Yet regardless, they asked him questions out of concern…?

That isn't quite right.

"…A little birdie told me that you're a regular on the team even though you're still just a first year. If they didn't care about you, they wouldn't have noticed you enough to make you one, right?"

That isn't right at all.

"I'm only a regular because of my height. They only bother asking me if I'm all right because…"

It's a nuisance to deal with me when I'm not in good form.

Tsukishima can't help but pull into himself, leaving the rest of the sentence unspoken yet again. For some reason he can't comprehend, there's an unbelievably uncomfortable feeling constricting round his chest—something akin to pain, yet it feels nothing like the pain he gets when a volleyball slams into him harder than he expects it to. Unlike before, Akiteru doesn't prompt him for the rest of the sentence. He knows that this isn't the best of topics; making him say more than what he wants to would do nothing but make the situation worse and he's well too aware of that.

"Hey, hey, hey," Akiteru quickly says, attempting to get his attention before he ends up too far down. "Don't forget that I'm here, too. I care about you, Kei."

"You only care about me because you have to." It's quiet, but the rage in his voice is clear.

"What ar—"

"You only care about me because I'm your brother! Because you can't just ignore me while I'm a part of your family!" Tsukishima's eyes are beginning to water by this point and it doesn't go unnoticed by the older.

"Kei, are you… Are you still…angry about me lying to you?" Akiteru awkwardly asks, scratching a non-existent itch on his head.

"I… No. That was years ago—I don't have any reason to be mad at you."

"Then do you still care about me?"

Tsukishima's eyes widen at the question. "I… Of course I do. This isn't just a visit I felt obligated to do because you're fami…ly." The blonde trails off as he nears the end of the sentence and it clicks.

At least, it was supposed to have clicked. But the minute he begins to realise that maybe, just maybe, someone genuinely cares about him, alarm bells ring in his brain and his army quickly deploys with the warning signal, immediately shooting the thought away, preventing him from ever feeling like he has any right to be loved—stops him from ever thinking that perhaps there might actually be a reason for people to care about someone as despicable as himself.


Golden eyes stare back down at the blinding white floor as Akiteru calls out his brother's name. With no response being elicited, the older heads for something different.

"So, have you blown up the kitchen yet?"

Tsukishima looks up almost immediately, face screwed up in confusion and Akiteru can't help but laugh at the wonderfully honest reaction. "Mum's not there, after all," he continues, smirk wide on his face. "Pretty sure I saw you burn a microwave pizza once."

"That was when I was a kid!" he protests, a light blush starting to show across his cheeks. "I can cook perfectly fine now."

"Oh yeah? So what did you cook for dinner yesterday? Toast?"

"Of course not! I—" Tsukishima is speaking before he means to. His response is automatic – something that stems from being teased by his brother so often as a kid. He knows he's just dug himself into a hole that he'll never be able to climb back out of. Never should he have hesitated. He knows that he should've said a lie; just came up with something that he knows he could have made. It could even have been a microwave meal for all it mattered. Akiteru would tease him, but at least he wouldn't question him. A microwave meal was nice and easy. It was a choice that made sense after returning home from learning that two of your closest family members were in bad shape.

But no. He went and hesitated.

I'm so fucking stupid.

"…Kei?" When the blonde looks over at his older brother after the utterance of his name, he can't help but notice that not a single sign of a smile was on his face. Not even a fake smile was there. All that was present was a frown. A pitying frown that has Tsukishima looking away for the billionth time in the one visit. "What did you have for dinner last night?" Tsukishima opens his mouth to speak, but Akiteru quickly interrupts, almost as if he was aware that what was about to be said to him wasn't the truth, "Please don't lie to me, Kei. I wasn't kidding when I said I cared about you. So please."

Tsukishima can see his sight beginning to blur when the older reaches as far as he can before beckoning for one of his hands when he can't reach any further. He blinks in an attempt to help chase the mist away, but when he fails, he quickly looks at his feet and takes off his glasses to rub his eyes with his fingers, trying to pretend he has something stuck in them, despite knowing it won't fool Akiteru. When he re-attaches his glasses, he tentatively reaches out and grips his brother's slightly cold hand that somehow manages to resonate warmth within him and he can't help but squeeze without really thinking about it.

The younger opens and shuts his mouth many times over and nothing manages to escape. He wants to trust his brother, he really does, but saying it out loud is difficult for him, because he knows exactly what his answer is and he knows exactly why that answer is the truth. A reassuring squeeze and gentle smile from Akiteru is screaming at Kei that it's all right. He can say whatever he needs to say without being ridiculed. Using those gestures as fuel, the boy finally mutters a, "I…didn't have anything for dinner," trailing off and averting his gaze as he reaches the end.

"Is there any real reason?" Akiteru softly asks, beginning to rub his thumb over the back of his hand.

That gesture fuels something entirely different though, and before Tsukishima realises it, he's yanking his hand right out of his brother's grip. "Please, just…stop. You're hurt. Stop worrying about me. Stop asking stupid questions about me."

"Kei, those questions aren't stu—"

"I said, stop."

"No! You're just as importa—"

"Akiteru, I mean it."

"Kei, just listen to—"

"I fucking told you to stop!"

Tsukishima is perfectly aware of his rude language, of the pain coursing through his palm through clenched fists, of the pained look on Akiteru's face, of how he's standing up now, blue chair having fallen backwards onto the floor, of how loud he'd raised his voice, but just like always, he'd done it without thinking. He'd fucked up again. Denial would get him nowhere. Golden eyes can't even manage a glance at the man lying on the hospital bed.

He doesn't even move when he hears the door slide open and a deep voice speaks his name in question. He knows it's his dad, but he can't manage to look at even him. I'm a disgrace to the Tsukishima name. That was all he'd ever thought. He'd never once thought of himself as the number one child he was sure his mother and father had wanted from him. He was never that caring talkative brother that Akiteru was to him. He has people to repay without the means to do it. He knows that.

That wasn't right.

He had the means to do it.

What he didn't have was the personality; the motivation; the willingness. To make his life actually worth something to people other than obligatory feelings that come with being a family member or a classmate or a team member was the one thing Tsukishima was frightened of more than anything.

"You're hurting, too, Kei. I can tell, you know. We all can." Tsukishima doesn't see the anger and hurt and worry and fear all showing on Akiteru's face, but the tone of his voice makes it all clear.

"I want to go home, Dad."

Before anyone can say anything more, Tsukishima grips his bag tightly in his hand and walks briskly out of the hospital room.

No matter how many conversations his father tried to strike up on the way home, Tsukishima didn't utter a single word. Golden eyes stayed fixed on the ground, on his hands, on his legs, on his feet, just anywhere away from his father. He couldn't find it in him to look at the man beside him, driving the car in the darkness that seemed to spread out everywhere the blonde looks. In fact, the boy's pretty sure that if he were to turn to his right right now, his father wouldn't even be there. It would be nothing but black, empty space.

Even when they enter the house, Tsukishima doesn't say anything before heading up the stairs to his bedroom. He's pretty sure he hears something resembling his father's voice, but the absolute black spreading out around him blurs the words enough that he isn't sure if the man's even talking to him, so he completely ignores it, pretends that his voice doesn't exist in this world of his—and in a moment, it's erased.

The first thing the blonde does when he enters his room is turn around and shut the door. He doesn't slam it nor does he try to soften the sound as he closes it; he just swings it shut, putting in as little effort as he needs to to make sure it shuts properly, just like he always does. He heads over to his desk and sets down his bag beside it, for easy access during the studying he plans to do before he sleeps, then swiftly finds clothes comfortable for lounging around and sleeping in. The smell emanating from him reminds him that he hasn't showered since volleyball practice and, feeling gross, goes for as quick a shower as he can manage.

Tsukishima doesn't remember what happens after he decides to clean himself, but before he knows it, he's back in his room, towel round his neck, hair occasionally dripping water down his back. He just stands there, at the entrance of his room, staring at the floor and he continues doing it. He just stares, stares and stares some more before he eventually takes one step, then another step, and yet another, until he's unconsciously reaching for the phone lying turned off in his bag.

When he turns it back on, he notices that he has a couple of texts, and he knows straight away who they're from. Doesn't take a genius to know it's Yamaguchi. What he reads when he opens it is something that has him quivering in the rage that had tried to stop itself from showing. Before he knows it, he's shouting some sort of aggressive sound and his phone is flying onto his bed. What was simply a phone being thrown turns into him sending everything he can find flying across his room, even his bin. He shouts the whole time, arms and legs stinging from banging into the objects he's thrown around.

Tsukishima isn't even aware of when he ends up curled up in a corner of his room, hands entangled in the blond strands of his hair as he sobs his heart out, tears of guilt and loneliness and self-loathing and anger streaming down his face. His glasses aren't on his face anymore—they're lying totally shattered on the wooden floor of his room—but he can't find it in him to care. He doesn't even know what's lying where; doesn't know how much he'll most likely need to replace.

But one thing he does know that doesn't need replaced is his phone, still sitting on his bed, with Yamaguchi's unanswered messages lying within:

Tsukki, are you okay? Takeda-sensei just suddenly came flying into the hall saying you were leaving early, but he refused to say why. Did something happen?

Please tell me—everyone's been really worried about you.

A/N: you dont have to be okay kei


I'll cry.

Don't worry, that's going to be covered. Just not right now when Tsukishima barely knows what he's thinking.

In case you're wondering why his dad didn't come up when Tsukishima was thrashing about his room...it'll be answered in the next chapter.

Also, don't forget to give me suggestions!

btw i totally forgot about new manager girl im going to have to work her in amn't i