Author's Notes: This is pretty much a 3rd gym fic because I'm going to miss them too much! BokuAka, KenHina and YamaYachi are mostly background but I do plan to focus on them at least a little through either Kuroo or Tsukki (the main povs; though I can't promise that I won't stray into Akaashi or Kenma). This will likely be long and angsty and eventually fluffy. It will be as much about friendship as relationships (especially early). It's set in western society (I'm not American but let's face it, probably America, TV indoctrinated me) but I'm not going to be overly specific and obv the schools aren't real.

Their school's called Nekodani… I think I'm so clever T_T

Updates won't be overly quick, sometimes two-four of weeks in between.


Chapter 1

Motivation. An invisible force within that pushes us to strive for a set goal. To do anything, to achieve anything, we need motivation. It gives us reason to reach, to try that extra bit harder, to push past what we believe we are capable of.

Lacking motivation leaves you uncaring and cold. It leaves a hole in your heart that you don't even feel the need to fill. Without motivation everything we do becomes pointless, hopeless and unnecessary.

Kei is somewhere trapped between the two. Until last year his motivation was at its lowest possible point. He didn't care about anything. He went through each day in a mechanical haze of needs; sleep, eat, study. The only thing he did outside that monotonous routine was play basketball. Not because he wanted to – though now he realises there was some part of him deep down that did – but because he thought he should. Tall, athletic and perceptive; it's what people saw in him. So he played. For… Fun? No, because he could.

Somewhere in that year his team, Karasuno, a group of passionate basketball idiots, taught him that he was good but capable of much more if he just tried. He would never admit it but Kei owed them immensely for the way they figuratively slapped him upside the head and showed him that potential is only what you make of it.

His brother had also been a defining factor. The reason for Kei's downfall, for his jaded outlook and taciturn personality, had been seeing his brother, who he had idolised immeasurably, fall before him, defeated. A victim of not measuring up to potential. Or so Kei had thought. Akiteru taught him that nothing is truly lost until you stop fighting for it.

So, here he is, fighting for it.

Or something like that.

Though Kei now doesn't completely lack motivation he isn't exactly swimming in it either. It's a slow process.

"Kei," he hears Akiteru's voice from inside the house. "Kei have you left yet?"

Cracking open one eye Kei winces slightly at the bright, early morning light assaulting his vision. The hammock he's sprawled across sways slightly in the light breeze and there is a ball of black and white fur purring happily on his stomach, making him far too hot in the warmth of late summer.

"Of course you're out here," Akiteru sighs exasperatedly, voice much closer. "You're supposed to already be halfway to school by now. I think you're lazier than that damn cat."

Okay, so maybe he's not fighting all that hard. Yet. But he'll get there. Maybe.

"I don't think that's possible," Kei drawls.

"Come on, I'll drive you to school or you'll be late for your first day."

Rolling out of the hammock – the cat jumping off, incensed – Kei stands up and straightens his black rimmed glasses and the white headphones around his neck. Slinging his bag over his shoulder Kei follows his professionally attired brother out of the house.

After completing his freshman and sophomore years at Karasuno Kei opted to transfer to Nekodani for his junior year. The high school has a better basketball team and is known for its academia so when he came to live with Akiteru it was the obvious choice in the area. Especially because it was less than a fifteen minute walk away.

"Are you nervous?" Akiteru questions.

"No," Kei lies but his brother side-eyes him dubiously as he navigates the heavy local traffic at school time. Seriously, why can't you just let one little white lie through? "A bit," he amends with a huff.

Akiteru chuckles. "I would be worried if you weren't. This is a big deal Kei, and I'm proud of you for doing it. Especially with everything you've been through. You deserve it."

Kei fights the need to bury his swiftly reddening face in his hands at his brother's praise and instead opts to look out his window at nothing in particular. "Please don't start this again. You're unbelievably embarrassing."

"I'm serious! I can't wait to see you play again."

At that Kei turns back to his brother, scowl firmly in place. Akiteru grins stupidly at him.

"I'm going to see you play whether you like it or not. I've missed watching you play."

Kei truly appreciates his brother's love and support; he's honestly given more than Kei believes he deserves. Certainly more than his parents had given. Luckily they're pulling into the school grounds so Akiteru can't say any more annoyingly embarrassing things. Akiteru wishes him luck before he exits the car with a hum of acknowledgment.

Nekodani High School is incredibly large, much more so than his last school. It has actual departments for art and sport and language. It has two large gyms for their nationally ranked basketball team and an almost stadium size ground for the nationally ranked football team. It has a library the size of Akiteru's house and an even bigger cafeteria. Needless to say, Nekodani is a prominent school.

Students mill about him in the same uniform as his own. Grey slacks or shorts with a white t-shirt and bright red striped tie; as well as a black vest and navy blue blazer that it's far too warm to wear. The girl's uniform is much the same but with a skirt instead. The students are all enthusiastically chatting away with their friends, excited to see each other but not happy to be back at school.

"Tsukki!"

The other reason Nekodani is a good choice, he already has a friend here.

Standing by the main school gate is a boy a little shorter than him, with a face covered in freckles, grinning brightly and waving erratically at him. His brown hair is more than a little unkempt with a few strands pointing up at impossible angles and the corners of his brown eyes crinkle happily. Tadashi Yamaguchi is Kei's best friend from elementary school and over the years of being at different middle and high schools they've remained in touch. Since Kei's now living at Akiteru's they're now much closer to each other and spent a lot of the summer hanging out together.

"Tadashi," Kei greets him flatly. "You're too loud."

"Sorry Tsukki," he scratches the back of his neck while looking sheepish. "I'm just so excited you're here! We're finally at school together again!"

They make their way into the school grounds. The entrance opens onto a vast, well-maintained, lawn with an open concreted basketball court on the right. Students are sprawled on the lawn, indulging in the sun – that will soon be far less warm as summer fades into fall – socialising before classes start and some guys are playing basketball.

"You took a tour of the school a couple of weeks ago, yeah?"

"Mm, though I still have little clue where everything is."

Tadashi chuckles. "Yeah, it's a pretty big school but you'll get used to it and I remember them giving me a lot of leeway with time when I first started. Hopefully you'll have a lot of classes with me."

"Fingers crossed."

"So are you-?"

"Heads up!"

Beside him Tadashi reflexively ducks his head in preparation for the basketball flying towards them. Kei spots it from the corner of his eye and raises his hand to catch it but is beaten to it when something – or rather someone – flies past him, catching it against their chest. The short redheaded boy lands steadily in front of him. Kei regards him indifferently even though for someone so small to be able to catch the ball on his chest at Kei's head height of 190cms is rather remarkable.

"Woah! Did'ya see that, Tets? That kid's a damn flying squirrel!"

Kei turns his gaze to the two guys gawking at the redhead and to whom the ball belonged. Of course he knows exactly who they are, this is Nekodani after all, the state basketball champion in their age group. The loud mouthed one with tall spikey grey and white hair, large yellow eyes and an overly expressive face is Koutarou Bokuto, Nekodani's power forward and Ace. The one that's smirk is equal parts creepy and attractive with an erratically shaped bed head of ink black hair is Tetsurou Kuroo, Nekodani's centre and new Captain.

They're the two best players in the state and Koutarou's ranked third best power forward nationally. They're the only remaining players at the school from last year's winning state championship team. If Kei is to play for Nekodani's first's team these would be his teammates. He's not usually one to be intimidated but these two get him close.

The redheaded kid straightens and Kei sees the same recognition in his burning amber eyes. He clearly plays basketball too.

"Yo, shortie, you've got a nice leap on you," Tetsurou remarks, scheming smirk never leaving his face as he raises his hand for the ball.

Kei sees the short kid grinning gleefully and it sparks a competitive desire within him. Barely turning to face them Kei snatches the ball from redhead's hands with his left hand and swiftly passes the ball with a skilful flick of his wrist. Had anyone other than an experienced player received that pass – his most powerful – they would have dropped it due to the force. Tetsurou receive it with ease but his grin broadens as his almost feral gaze moves to Kei.

"Oh? What's this? That's some power you've got there, Glasses," Tetsurou practically purrs, tilting his head as his eyes move past Kei. "Oi, Freckles, you know these guys?"

Frowning momentarily Kei remembers that Tadashi is a manager for the basketball club. They had played together in elementary school and Tadashi went on to play in middle school but quit going into high school because the team was simply too good. Not that he was bad, they were literally just that good. His best friend had wanted to keep up with the sport though so he became a manager of the club. There was also something about a cute blond girl too if Kei remembers correctly.

"A-Ah, yes, this is Kei Tsukishima, my best friend," Tadashi introduces him.

"He's so tall!" Koutarou squawks, beaming at Kei like he's a shiny treasure. "No way you're a freshman!"

"Junior, I'm a transfer," Kei responds casually, pushing his glasses up his nose.

"Me too! A-A transfer I mean, sophomore. I'm Shouyou Hinata," the redhead introduces himself, stuttering and looking a little awestruck.

Thank God for my poker-face so I don't have to look like that idiot, Kei thinks.

Tetsurou grins at them and then spins the ball on his finger like the showman he is. "Well gentlemen, welcome to Nekodani. I hope to see you at basketball tryouts tomorrow afternoon. Can't wait to see what else you've got."

Before he can do his whole cool guy walking away act Koutarou ruins it and snatches the ball from him with a shrill battle cry that sounds somewhere between a bird of prey and a dying animal. Unfazed Tetsurou ambles back over to the basketball court where the Ace just slam dunked and is now cheering himself on enthusiastically.

Kei clicks his tongue and barely spares Shouyou a glance before continuing his walk into school with Tadashi at his side excitedly chatting away about the Nekodani basketball club. He may as well have the headphones around his neck on his ears for all the attention he's paying his friend. No matter how much Kei tries to break free he can't stop thinking about that purring voice and ridiculous yet charming grin.


After getting his classing schedule – from a homeroom he luckily shares with Tadashi – they discover they have a couple of classes together and share lunch. This relaxes Kei marginally into what was once a daunting day ahead.

Sorting their lockers out – that are close by each other – and putting most of their books away they go to their first class, English. At Kei's request Tadashi explains where things are along the way and he tries to take in as much as he can. It all looks so similar though, a maze of modern grey and white buildings.

Their first class passes slowly as, unsurprisingly, most of it is a rundown of the curriculum of the year ahead. Tadashi is kind enough to show Kei to his next class, History, which luckily for both of them isn't too far. With his characteristic, all too friendly, smile Tadashi wishes Kei luck and leaves for his own class. Kei's never liked to rely on people too much – the possibility of being let down is always too high, doesn't matter how much they're supposed to care for you – but right now he wishes Tadashi wasn't leaving.

You can do this Kei, he pep talks himself while sucking in a deep shaky breath. You're not completely hopeless at meeting people and making friends… Right?

Swallowing hard he opens the classroom door. He's early so the teacher isn't there yet and neither is most of the class.

"Excuse me?" A voice calls to him when he's closing the door.

Turning slowly, he's met with soft brown eyes and a hopeful smile. The boy has short mousey brown hair that's neatly styled into a spikey mess and his short frame is leaning over a desk where another boy sits.

"Hi," the short boys waves delicately. "Can you please bring me that box of tissues?"

Kei turns to where he's pointing and sees the tissues. Without thinking too much about it, simply following orders because the boy asked so politely, Kei takes the box and ambles over to them. Placing the box on the desk, the boy, whose short stature is even more apparent when Kei stands next to him – a whole 25cms taller than him – thanks him.

"Here Kenma," the small boy offers the one sitting, almost raising the tissue to his snotty nose to wipe it for him, practically parental. "Blow your nose."

The boy at the desk is hunched over a 3DS and mumbles a response before obediently wiping his messy nose. His hair is rather long, straight and dyed blond with dark roots coming through at the top of his head. Kei can't see his face though as the boy's – Kenma's – eyes never leave the console in his hand, especially not from his ridiculously high angle.

"My names Morisuke Yaku by the way," the short, standing boy, introduces himself with a friendly smile. "You must be new; I haven't seen you before."

He nods. "I just transferred here. I'm Kei Tsukishima."

"Nice to meet you, Kei. Are you here to play basketball?"

Cocking an eyebrow, he asks, "How do you know that?"

Morisuke laughs and then looks him up and down. "Generally it's a good bet for anyone over six foot that comes to this school. I'm Nekodani's small forward and this is Kenma Kozume, point guard."

They don't really look the part for team members of the highest ranked basketball team in the state, especially not in comparison to Tetsurou and Koutarou. Upon further inspection though Kei notices their muscle definition of their arms and legs – both wearing shorts where Kei prefers slacks even in the warm weather.

"I'll give a good word to the Captain for you," Morisuke grins at him. "For being so nice."

"T-Thanks."

With Tadashi as his best friend you'd think Kei would be used to an overly friendly personality like Morisuke's and yet it throws him a little. Geez and here I thought making friends was going to be hard, Kei thinks to himself. Here I was almost physically ill with worry last night over it.

A group of students walk in, shortly followed by the teacher and everyone takes their seat. Kei sits behind Kenma as the gamer is instructed by Morisuke – not the teacher – to put his 3DS away and complies with a hum.

History is one of Kei's favourite subjects and he listens intently to the teacher – who seems rather tolerable compared to his already obnoxious English teacher – as she explains what they'll be studying. The class passes quickly while Kei avidly listens.

"Do you need help getting to your next class?" Morisuke turns to ask when the class is over and Kei swears his entire body relaxes from a tension he didn't know he'd been feeling due to the boy's consideration. "What do you have?"

How he accidently found possibly the kindest person in his year level he'll never know. He reminds me of Koushi.

"Ah," Kei says, shuffling through his things to find his schedule. "Health, in room…"

"Five ten," Kenma finishes for him and turns to face him. "I'm in the same class. I'll take you."

For the first time Kei sees the boy's face and is rather surprised that such a timid person is so attractive. Attractive people tend to be more confident and outgoing like Tetsurou. Though Kenma is certainly a different type of attractive than Nekodani's Captain; prettier with striking yellow eyes rather than charmingly dishevelled with an all too handsome face and breathtaking smile.

Wait… What? Kei almost frowns to himself before bringing himself back to reality. Stop appraising Tetsurou Kuroo's attractiveness.

"Thank you, I'd appreciate it," Kei finally says.

With final mothering words from Morisuke to Kenma before they part ways Kenma leads Kei through the seas of students on their way to class. They're silent the entire way but it doesn't feel awkward even though Kei can feel the shorter boy observing him. Somehow it feels harmless, an uncertainty on the other's behalf for himself rather than for Kei.

When they enter their Health class a few students are chatting at desks inside as they had a fair way to travel and aren't early.

"Kenma, your shoe is untied," a monotonous voice informs the boy as he approaches his desk.

Does everyone in this school mother this boy? Kei wonders and then his eyes move to the owner of the voice. Or just the basketball team?

Kei immediately recognises him as Nekodani's point guard, Keiji Akaashi, who was unlucky to miss out in last year's state championship team due to the skill of a now graduated point guard. Kei had watched the skilful point guard play a few games back in middle school.

If he thought Kenma was pretty, then this boy is indisputably the epitome of beautiful. His elegantly shaped eyes are a gentle dark grey-green that set Kei at ease as soon as their gazes meet and his narrow face, fine cheekbones and sculpted nose, can only be described as perfect. His short dark hair is messy but it really doesn't matter, with a face like that he could probably have a mullet and still be ridiculously attractive. Though Kei doesn't think Keiji's quite as attractive as Tetsurou; he lacks a—

Oh my God, don't, Kei practically begs himself.

Quietly Kei takes the seat in front of Keiji. He's surprised when the introverted Kenma introduces Kei to Keiji when the shorter boy hadn't seemed at all interested in him when they'd met in the previous class. It almost seems as if it's important that Kenma informs Keiji.

"This is Kei Tsukishima, he'll be playing with us," Kenma says flatly, like it's a certainty that he'll get a place on the team – which it isn't.

Kei swivels in his seat to meet Keiji's calm gaze. "Keiji Akaashi, it's a pleasure to meet you."

"You too."

Something about the two of them make him suspicious, but not uncomfortable. Considering this is his first time meeting them Kei feels unusually relaxed in their presence. He feels like the three of them are already close, like they'll get along well and already have a deep understanding of each other.

Expecting questions about the position he plays or his previous school or his experience in basketball games, Kei's quite surprised when the skilled point guard, Keiji, asks, "Other than basketball what brings you do Nekodani?"

It's unnerving that, firstly, he speculates that there are other reasons – which, there are – and, secondly, that a possible future professional basketballer doesn't want to know about Kei's basketball. In fact, he wants to know anything 'other than' it.

"I, uh… I moved nearby over summer. My old school was too far."

Keiji nods almost imperceptibly and doesn't get to ask another question as the teacher enters and abruptly starts the class.


"So, do you like Nekodani so far?" Tadashi asks, standing by Kei's locker and waiting patiently for him.

"It's okay," Kei answers noncommittally as he rifles through his locker to collect the text books he needs for homework.

Tadashi chuckles, likely at his 'classic Kei' non-response. Which, it is. He often wonders how Tadashi can be so patient with him and almost carry on a whole conversation without him and avoid being annoying whilst he does so. It's a talent. Akiteru does the same. Likely the only friends Kei will ever make are incredibly tolerant ones, or ones that, like him, are reserved.

"Did you meet anyone in the classes I didn't have with you?"

Kei hums as he closes his locker and they set off to leave. "Uh, I met Morisuke and Kenma in my History class and then Kenma has Health with me too so he took me there where he introduced me to Keiji."

"Oh, wow, meeting most of the team already," Tadashi remarks. "Speaking of which, you're definitely going to try-outs tomorrow, right? I haven't seen you play in a while but Tetsurou tends to have a good eye and he really seemed to like you."

Those words really shouldn't make you as happy as they do… Kei thinks to himself. He doesn't mean that way. Why do you want him to?

"Yeah, I'll be there," Kei replies casually. "Half the reason I came here remember Tadashi."

"Just making sure. I can't wait for you to meet everyone, or well, the rest. And get to know everyone. They're all really cool. I think you'll fit in and have a lot of fun!"

"You're over selling."

"Ah, right, sorry Tsukki!"

On the way out Tadashi talks about the Nekodani basketball team, their positions and their personalities and what they do throughout the year and how fun the camps and games are. Tadashi lives in the complete opposite direction to Kei so they say goodbye at the school gate and go their separate ways with Tadashi waving and smiling brightly saying 'See you tomorrow!' like Kei coming to Nekodani is the best thing that's ever happened to him. Which, it isn't, it's just how Tadashi acts about anything that makes him happy and many things do. Should see him at Christmas.

Other students that live near the school walk home in front and behind him, chatting happily with each other and groaning about how annoying the school work is. Kei fishes his headphones out of his bag, sets them so they're comfortable against his glasses and plays music that cuts out all the annoying babble.

In the weeks leading up to this day, his first day at Nekodani, he'd be excessively anxious about it. To the point that he forcibly occupied himself with countless other things, arbitrarily things that he certainly didn't need or want to. And now, after the fact, he realises that the day was fine and obviously he was being stupid.

Hindsight is twenty, twenty even if my vision isn't.

The groups of students start to thin as he gets further away from school, until he can no longer see anyone walking in front of him. Kei walks slowly, lazily, in the summer heat; though his long legs make it so he can never truly walk overly slowly. He hears a loud voice behind the noise of his music but surely no one can be calling after him. He doesn't know anyone but Tadashi and they separated a while back. He doesn't want to turn back but Kei turns down his music just in case.

"Yo, Glasses!" Someone calls, he pulls his headphones off, setting them around his neck, to make the voices less muffled. Though surely they're not talking to him… "Um, tall guy! What the shit was his name…?"

"Kei," a monotonous voice offers.

"That's the one! Wait, Ken, how do you know him?"

"I have classes with him."

Kei turns and considering the voices he can now hear and their conversation he isn't surprised to see Kenma and Tetsurou following after him. The latter grins brightly at Kei upon meeting his gaze. While he's used to Tadashi's warm smiles they're almost nothing compared to the complete and utter glee of Tetsurou's casual grin. Key word, casual. How is it possible for something so casual to be so spectacular?

"Hey, I kinda wanna call you 'Legs' because damn dude, those things are long," Tetsurou comments are they catch up to the halted Kei. "I play basketball so I see lots of tall dudes but yours are right up there with the longest. I can't call you that though because I already have 'Glasses'… Honestly neither suit you though. Hmm…" He ponders like it's important and like they know each other better than the recent acquaintances they are.

"You could always just call him by his name," Kenma deadpans, not removing his gaze from the 3DS Kei's surprised has any battery left after seemingly being played all day.

"Nah, that's too boring. You got any nicknames, Glasses?"

Tetsurou Kuroo is like a whirlwind. Before you even know what's happening he sweeps you up and you're lost in the chaos of his mind and for some indescribable reason you go along with him. No, not indescribable, you want to go along with him. He makes you crave the chaos.

"My best friend calls me Tsukki," Kei answers as if of no will of his own.

Fuck, why?! Why did I say that? I don't want him to call me by a name I barely tolerate my best friend using.

Whirlwind. That's why.

"Tsukki! Fuck, that's so adorable!" Tetsurou cheers, practically bouncing. "That's it, nickname sorted. Now, Tsukki, please tell me you're coming to try-outs tomorrow after school."

Who is this guy…?

"Yeah, I'm coming."

"Awesome! How long you been playing?"

"As long as I can remember."

"Where did you play last year?"

"Karasuno."

Tetsurou frowns slightly and runs his fingers through his thick black hair. "If I remember correctly they're a pretty good team. Got unlucky last year with draws and injuries though?"

Kei nods but doesn't respond and adjusts his glasses. It was a difficult year for Kei. For numerous reasons. Having just come into some form of motivation he was deeply disappointed – they all were – after losing when they had the potential for to go so much further.

In keeping up with Kei's long legged strides – with ease, because even with his exaggerations about Kei's legs Tetsurou's only a few centimetres shorter – Tetsurou finally seems to notice that they've let Kenma lag behind. The latter not noticing, or possibly not caring.

"Ken, hurry up will you?"

The shorter boy makes a noise of acknowledgement. "Why?"

"Because without my guidance you will likely stray onto the road and get hit by a car like some naïve little house cat."

"Why didn't we just drive?"

"Exercise Ken, with no practise today we need it."

"You'll go play on the court around the block tonight anyway."

"I meant you for, lazy arse," Tetsurou chuckles. "If you keep up with us I'll play half an hour of Super Smash Brothers with you."

"An hour."

"Forty minutes."

Without a word of acceptance Kenma picks up his pace and Tetsurou grins victoriously as they continue on, as if having struck some silent deal. They seem close, like lifetime-worth-of-friendship close and having-silent-conversations close. Not even Kei and Tadashi are quite that close.

"Where do you live, Tsukki? Is it far?"

And he is never going to stop calling me that. Good one Kei.

"No, not far. Just down on Sendai street."

"Is that the one with the milk bar?"

"Yes, I live right across from it."

"Oh, cool!" Tetsurou excites, like he's happy to know where Kei lives. He's not you overly hopeful idiot. "Not too far from us. Ken lives next door, has all my life. But we have to go down here."

Tetsurou indicates as the footpath diverts down another street that he and Kenma turn onto.

"Okay."

"See ya tomorrow Tsukki! I look forward to seeing how well you can play," he winks, Tetsurou Kuroo actually winks, because apparently all the charm of your voice and your face and your stupid messy hair isn't enough.

"Bye Kei," Kenma actually looks up and gives him a small smile.

Despite himself, despite the air cool nonchalance he prefers to maintain, Kei stares after their receding forms. He's lost, that much he knows, lost and dizzy after the whirlwind of Tetsurou has passed. It's unsettling and disorienting… So why does he like it?

"Did you just smile?" Tetsurou asks Kenma, overly dramatic in his incredulity.

"No."

"Did you make a friend today, Ken?"

"Shut up, Kuro."

"Oh my God you did! I'm so proud of you!"

Shaking himself of his daze Kei turns abruptly on his heel and walks to his – Akiteru's – house hurriedly. Pushing open the gate that reads '111 Sendai Street' Kei makes his way inside. His brother isn't home yet so he engrosses himself with homework in an attempt to occupy his mind.

Kei's nervous about tomorrow's try-outs despite the lesson he learned today about things never being as bad as they seem – like that lesson will ever truly be learned. Even though he's always been rather confident with his skill in the sport he now finds himself doubting it. Nekodani won the state championship, is a nationally ranked basketball team and their players are mostly going to become professional athletes. What makes Kei think he can help them achieve their goal of national champions? What makes him think he even stands a chance at a spot on the team?

"Stop," he groans to himself and buries his head further into his Calculus textbook.

I'm not worried, it'll be fine. Everything will be fine. Focus on maths. Focus.

Successfully silencing the doubt with homework and music Kei doesn't even notice an hour go by until Akiteru taps him on the shoulder. So lost in his study coma – also the headphones don't help – Kei almost jumps out of his seat in surprise.

"Jesus, fuck!" Kei pulls his headphones down around his neck and grips his chest where his heart is hammering with the fright, muttering about a 'heart attack'.

His brother is bent over in a fit of laughter. "I-I called out."

"Yeah, well, I had my headphones on dumbass. What are you blind?"

"No, but you are," he jokes, flicking Kei in the forehead.

Kei sighs. "My vision is really not that bad."

"So…" Akiteru drags out the word as he unpacks groceries in the open plan kitchen behind him "How was school?"

"It was fine."

"You should be a writer because, oh, the beautifully detailed word picture you're painting…"

"I met up with Tadashi, I went to classes, I came home."

"Did you make any new friends?"

"M-Maybe, I don't know, it's been one day Akiteru."

"Did you meet any boys?"

Kei rolls his eyes. "Probably about half of the schools rather large student body is male so, yes, there is a good chance, fifty per cent to be specific, that I met at least one boy."

"You know what I mean, Kei."

"And you know I'm not going to answer."

"Sounds like a yes to me," he can hear the smirk in Akiteru's voice and grits his teeth against the smile that's threatening his own face. "You know it's okay, right? I just want you to know that you're free to be yourself here. That I'm fine with it and you can meet boys and bring them here. Hopefully just one at a time because-"

"Yes, Akiteru, I get it!" Kei huffs, interrupting his brothers rambling. He tries so hard to make Kei comfortable here and Kei loves him for it. "I know and I'm grateful that you accept me. I promise I'll tell you if I 'meet a boy', will that appease you?"

"Yes!"

"Good. Now, I'm going to my room to finish my homework because you're disruptive."

As Kei walks past the kitchen Akiteru sticks his tongue out like the grown adult he is and Kei rolls his eyes like the only slightly less mature teenager he is. Once in his bedroom Kei drops his books on the bed and flops back on it, staring up at the ceiling rather than actually doing what he said he was going to do.

If there is one thing Kei is certain about in the uncertain chaos of his adolescent mind it's that he likes boys. There is not a shred of doubt in his mind that he's gay. He knew a few of years ago but was too scared of it to even consider telling anyone. And then, last year, he confided in his mother. What a giant, screaming, painful, idiotic mistake that had been.

Like the true hero, like the hero Kei has always known him to be, his big brother saved him. Kei owes Akiteru everything he has; everything he will have and will be is because of his brother. The one who accepted the burden that is Kei Tsukishima with open arms.

There might be a boy… Kei thinks a little guiltily.

He sighs, far too wistfully. Tetsurou Kuroo. Why does it have to be him?