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How We Began

Chapter 1: One

by isilelensar

"Tetsuro! Tetsuro, come over here!"

Kuroo's eyes reluctantly left the brilliantly colored lights of the neighborhood carnival at night, and quickly found his aunt, who was waving enthusiastically at him from her quilting club's booth. He smiled and waved back, heading over to see what she wanted.

"Hey, Aunt Yui!" He bent to kiss her cheek, and then smiled brightly at her friends, who never failed to flutter and giggle like school girls around him. Amused, he turned back to his favorite aunt. His only aunt. Eh, semantics.

"I was about to get something to eat. Want me to bring you back a snack, or something to drink?"
"Oh, no dear, but thank you," she replied brightly. "But you can buy a raffle ticket from me!"
"A raffle ticket? But why?" he asked even as he pulled out his wallet.
"Oh, we really haven't had too many people buying tickets this time," she told him, pulling a sad face. He knew it was just an act, she had a talent for dramatics, but he played along anyway.
"Oh, alright. Fine," he groused playfully. "What do I get if I win?"
"I can't tell you, dear," she smiled slyly. "It's a surprise!"

'Surprise, huh?' he thought as he handed her the money, and she gave him his ticket. He looked beyond her, deeper into the booth, and thought the 1st place prize was the beautiful, multi-colored quilt a few of the ladies were putting the finishing touches on. It was this year’s design for the carnival. It looked cozy, too.

"Come back in an hour, dear," she told him, patting his arm and giving him a little shove. "Go get your food and enjoy the rest of the carnival!"
"Trying to get rid of me?"
"Of course I’m not!" she protested happily. "Go on. Go ride some rides, or something."
"Pushy, aren’t ya?" He bent to kiss her cheek again, and left.

A little less than an hour later, Kuroo made his way back to his aunt's booth. He was pleasantly full from eating a variety of food, and he even won a few prizes at other booths. Oddly, there was a crowd of people surrounding his aunt’s club’s booth for the raffle; more people than he was led to believe. Maybe more tickets were sold after he'd left, or his aunt fibbed, which really wouldn’t be too unusual. Either way, the drawing was about to begin, so he pulled his ticket out of his pocket.

"Good evening! Thank you for supporting our little club!" His auntie announced into the megaphone. It grated on his ears, but he laughed at her enthusiasm.

"Because we know how excited you are, we’ll go ahead and start our drawing! Our third place prize is… four tickets to Tokyo Summerland!" She announced a number, the winner came forward, and the crowd went wild.

Impressed, Kuroo began to wonder if he’d guessed wrong about the 1st place prize. Although the quilt was beautiful, it paled in comparison to Summerland.

"For our second place prize… two tickets for Sky Restaurant 634!"

The crowd oohh'd and aahhh'd accordingly. Another number was called, and another winner went up to claim their prize.

Kuroo whistled lowly. He was definitely impressed by this year’s prizes. The club usually didn’t give out such elaborate prizes, though, so he grew even more curious.

“And now for our 1st place prize!” His auntie was so excited, he had to laugh. "When I call your number, please come forward!"

She slowly called each number of the winning ticket. Glancing down, Kuroo realized he won. With a wry grin, he ambled through the crowd, up to where she stood in front of her booth, on top of a wooden milk crate. First, she handed him the quilt, folded up neatly, and lying on top was a red envelope with the kanji for 'good luck' written in gold.

"You've won our club's carnival quilt for this year, plus an all-expenses paid trip to Kyoto!"

Kuroo was speechless. Speechless, and also a little suspicious. There had to be more to it. Subplot. Auntie was up to something, if he recognized that little glint in her eye. Prizes like this weren't just for single people. He squinted at her. There had to be a catch.

Not too long later, once the crowd had dispersed, his aunt grabbed his arm and pulled him behind the booth. When she faced him, she looked determined, and rather proud of herself. Kuroo lifted an eyebrow, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Auntie?"
"Yes, there's more. But no one else needed to know."
"Tell me."
"The trip is for two; you and the other winner."
"Other winner? Auntie, what are you… "
"Tsukishima Kei." She overrode him with what he presumed was the other winner’s name.

He tilted his head. "That name sounds familiar."

"He's the owner of the little bookshop that opened a few months ago!” She replied excitedly, launching into her story. “The one that most just pass right by; it's so plain-looking! But, he added tiny prisms and stained glass accents to his windows. Anyway, I had gone in just to look around and… I miiiight have mentioned our little raffle. I’m still not sure if he bought a ticket just to get rid of me or not, but he made me promise that if he won anything, I wouldn’t mention his name."

Suspicion mounted. "Auntie? Please tell me this isn't..."
"An elaborate set-up for a date? Not at all!" she retorted sarcastically.
"But Auntie!"
"No buts, Tetsu! It's for your own good. And his, too," she said sternly. "Now, I want you to go tell him he won. Hurry, before he closes for the night."
He checked his watch; it was after 9pm. “Isn’t it already too late?”
“No. I checked his daily hours sign on the door. Go, Tetsuro! Hurry!”

Left with little choice - one did not refute auntie's orders, no matter how suspect they were - Kuroo put the quilt and envelope in a large bag and made his way to the bookshop. It didn't take long, and he made it just in time. He didn’t tell his aunt, but he knew exactly where to go. The little shop had caught his eye after it opened for business, but he hadn’t yet had the time to check it out properly. Entering the shop, he heard the tinkling of tiny bells, which were hung just over the door.

"Hello?" he called out.
The shop was so tiny, but it was cozy, and there were books everywhere. The soft, warm light from the antique lamps added to the ambiance. Along one wall, there were a few comfy looking chairs, with a side table next to each one, loaded with books. There were a few rows of shelves lining the opposite wall, and he eased around a table between the door and a counter with an antique cash register. Distracted by the charm of the shop, he didn't see the owner of the shop enter from the back.

"Can I help you?"

Startled, Kuroo nearly dropped the bag he was carrying. He smiled brightly as he turned to face the speaker, and froze.

Was this the Tsukishima his auntie told him about? The man was certainly not at all what he was expecting. Tall, buff (but not overly so), blonde hair like moonlight, golden brown eyes, lightly tanned skin. He was wearing no-rimmed glasses, a v-necked cashmere sweater, and dark blue jeans. There was a glint off a couple obsidian earrings in his left ear. Oddly, he also wore a beat-up pair of scarlet high top sneakers. Kuroo was intrigued.

“Can I help you?” Tsukishima repeated, looking slightly irritated.
"Sorry, sorry," Kuroo replied, blinking out of his semi-trance. "I'm Kuroo Tetsuro. You bought a raffle ticket from my aunt earlier today."
"Oh, yeah. Right." He scrubbed a hand through his hair, messing it up.

Kuroo grinned, biting his lip a bit to keep from saying, "adorable." Instead, he brought the bag over to where Tsukishima had stopped behind the counter. Placing it between them, he pushed it toward the shop owner.

"We won 1st prize."
"We did? Wait... what do you mean, 'we?' "
"Just like I said. We won."

Tsukishima simply stared at him. Kuroo's grin turned into a full smile and he stared back. The former was the first to look away with an irritated tsk.

"I thought prizes were just for one person," he said, peeking into the bag. He looked at Kuroo with the question in his eyes.

Kuroo nodded, and the bag was upended, the quilt and envelope falling out onto the counter. He watched Tsukishima as he admired the quilt, his long fingers slowly tracing the stitches between color patches. It was obvious that he thought the quilt was the biggest, and best, prize.

A shiver snaked up Kuroo's spine, imagining those fingers tracing anywhere along his skin. When he looked back up, his eyes clashed with Tsukishima's. As before, the latter was first to look away, breaking the connection. He shuffled his feet, and then held up the red envelope.

"What's this?"
"Open it and find out."
"Why can't you just tell me?"
"It's a surprise."
Tsukishima squinted at him. Kuroo's smile stretched wider.
"You don't know, do you?"
"No." He shrugged. "And yes."
"You're irritating."
"So I've been told."
"You’re not going to tell me, are you?"
"Nope!"

With a disgusted look aimed at him, Tsukishima finally opened the red envelope, pulling out two bullet train tickets to Kyoto, a reservation receipt for the hotel they'd be staying in, several coupons for shopping and food in Gion district, and a suggested itinerary for each day, featuring some of the most popular sight-seeing spots in the city. He laid each item out between them.

"A trip to Kyoto."
"Yep!" Kuroo picked up one of the tickets. "Looks like we go in two weeks."
Tsukishima's eyes narrowed. "How much do you know?"
"Only that it's an all-expenses paid trip, and that we're the recipients of said trip."
"Okay, but, why?"
Kuroo sighed. "I really wish I knew."

Kuroo watched Tsukishima as he rocked side to side, toyed with the corners of the tickets, and generally looked like he'd rather turn the whole thing down. If he were totally honest with himself, he'd thought the same way; until he met this prickly, yet gorgeous, bookshop owner.

"Why does this feel like a set-up?"
Kuroo shrugged. "Probably because it is, though I have no proof, and not likely to find any, either. I only heard a couple questionable phrases from my aunt."
"Your aunt?"
"Yeah. She said it was an elaborate set-up for a date, though she tried to cover her tracks after saying that. And then she said something about it being for our own good. But I haven’t figured that one out yet.”

Kuroo saw the refusal in Tsukishima's eyes before he started to speak. Quickly, he leaned across the counter and gently placed a finger against his lips.
"Look, I don't know why she set us up, but why not just make the most of it? If nothing else, it's a free getaway for a little while."

Tsukishima glared at him, tilted his head away from Kuroo's finger, and took a step back. But not before Kuroo felt a slight shiver, and a shaky breath.
"I shouldn't," Tsukishima said quietly.
"Why not?"
"My shop..."
"You're the owner, right?"
A tiny nod. "Yeah, but..."
"You could close for a few days, right? The trip is set for Thursday through Monday. Basically a long weekend."
"I can read, you know." The sarcasm was thick with that reply.

Kuroo almost called him adorable again. Time to try a different tack.

"When was the last time you actually went on a vacation?"
"I don't have to tell you."
"Last year? Two years ago?"

If looks could kill, he’d be obliterated. Kuroo tried not to smile, but failed.
Abruptly, Tsukishima gathered the tickets and papers, stuffing them back into the envelope and leaving it on the counter. Then, he picked up the quilt, wrapping his arms around it. 'Oh, to be that quilt,' Kuroo thought distractedly.

When his eyes met Kuroo's again, he looked annoyed, apologetic, and determined. It would have been amazing, but Kuroo already had an inkling that he was in trouble, somehow.

"I'm not going," Tsukishima said firmly as he turned and walked away. "Find someone else to go with you."
'Damn,' Kuroo reprimanded himself. "Tsukishima, wait!" The younger man stopped, but didn’t turn around. Kuroo felt relieved he even got that much.

"What?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to tease you so much," he started. "It might sound like an excuse, but I tend to tease the people I like."
"You don't even know me."
"No, I don't," he agreed softly. "But I want to."

They stood unmoving for several minutes, or maybe hours, Kuroo couldn't tell. But, even in this short span of time, he knew he really wanted Tsukishima to go to Kyoto with him. He shifted nervously, and put his hand on the nape of his neck.

"Look, you don't have to go if you don't want to. I'll give the tickets back to my aunt."
"But don't you want to go?"
"Not by myself, and call me crazy but I don't want to go with anyone else."

Tsukishima turned around to face him. Kuroo couldn't be sure, but he thought he saw a tiny smile on his face. Maybe it was a smirk. Whatever it was, it made his heart beat just a little harder.

"You really want me to go?"
"Yeah."
"With you."
"Yeah."
A slight tilt of his head. "Why?"
Kuroo wasn't quite sure if he could be any clearer than he had been. But then, maybe he'd jumbled it all up and it only made sense to him. Still...
"I like you, Tsukishima. I'd like to get to know you."

Slowly, Tsukishima returned to the counter, his eyes never leaving Kuroo's. He put the quilt down, and picked up the red envelope.

"I'll go," he said quietly. "On one condition."
"Sure."
"We leave the minute I'm not having fun."
"Done." He breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you."
"But don't go out of your way to force it, either, okay?"
"Okay," Kuroo nodded, even if he wasn't quite sure what Tsukishima meant by that.
"I'll meet you at the train station in two weeks on Thursday."
"Two weeks. Thursday. Bright and early."
"Ugh, god no. Make it noon."
"Sure. Noon it is."

They stood staring at each other for a few moments before Tsukishima moved out from behind the counter. He was halfway to the door when he turned to face Kuroo.

"It's past time for me to close," he hinted, pointing toward the door.
"Oh. Yeah. Right." Kuroo moved to leave.

But then he stopped, and reached back to take the quilt. With a wink, he resumed his route to the door, walking close enough to Tsukishima that his arm just barely grazed the man's cashmere sweater. He told himself not to react when he heard Tsukishima's stifled gasp.

Opening the door, he took a step outside. Unable to help himself, he turned to look at Tsukishima over his shoulder, and winked. Then, he nearly tripped over his own feet. Embarrassed, he laughed it off, saluted awkwardly, and then walked away.

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Chapter name
One
Created
18 Dec 2021
Last Edited
18 Dec 2021
Hits
121
Words
2599