The Misadventures of Camping Cats - iwaizumemes (skytramp) (2024)

The entire Nekoma Boys V.B.C. piled into Yaku’s grandfather’s van in the mid afternoon on a Friday, leaving later than planned but, of course, not later than expected. It took them just over an hour to arrive at their campsite. The mountain roads had been long and winding, and Yaku’s knuckles were white with exertion from trying to focus in spite of all the teenage boy-shaped distractions yelling and bouncing around him.

It was a good spot: isolated in a small campground, with a picnic table near a fire pit, space for more than one tent, and enough trees to provide much needed shade from the August heat.

“Maybe that baldy from Karasuno had a point” f*ckunaga sighed, letting the tent poles drop from his hands. They had two large tents, just enough for all the boys to fit, but, while one was newer (borrowed from Shibayama’s mountain climbing grandmother) the other came with Yaku’s grandfather’s van-- and was twice as old.

“What point?” Inuoka asked. He picked up the poles f*ckunaga dropped and tried to assemble them into something resembling the right shape, it didn’t work.

“When he called us City Boys. Why are we even here?” f*ckunaga glanced over at the other tent which had been hastily assembled by Kai and Shibayama while Kuroo “supervised”. He would have laughed at the captain’s supervision tactics if he wasn’t so frustrated by the bent metal mess around him.

“Don’t sound so defeated, senpai!” Inuoka chirped, somehow unfailingly optimistic despite the fact that he made no more progress than f*ckunaga did. “This’ll be fun! Captain says it's about team bonding!”

f*ckunaga rolled his eyes “Sure.”

Inuoka nodded, seemingly convinced by the response that would have read as sarcastic to anyone else. f*ckunaga almost wanted to laugh.

“Sou, can we get some help over here?” Shibayama called from where he was now half buried under a pile of sleeping bags. Inuoka’s head perked up and he dropped the mangled arrangement of metal poles and ran off, leaving f*ckunaga alone again.

f*ckunaga sighed and picked up the mess. “First years.” He mumbled and it sounded like a curse.

___

“You done yet, Yamamoto?” Kai sat on the picnic table, his legs criss-crossed in front of him.

“You could help, you know!” Yamamoto grumbled, just barely loud enough for his vice-captain to hear. He’d been put on van-unloading duty and Kai had appointed himself as an overseer after setting up the easier tent.

“Is that anyway to talk to your senpai?” Kai asked, and Kuroo snickered in the background. The coaches and former third years had no idea what they were doing when they made the two of them captain and vice.

“I’ll show you…” His voice trailed off into angry mumbles.

“What was that?” Kai asked, knowing full well that it must have been rude and attempting to elicit a reaction.

Yamamoto didn’t respond except to drop what looked like a camp stove and a bag of kitchen utensils before marching towards Kai.

Lev, attention drawn by the clattering of metal hitting dirt, clenched the sleeping bag which he’d been draping over Shibayama’s shoulders and gasped. “What’s happening?” He asked, too loudly, and Yaku shushed him.

Kai laughed and crossed his arms, sitting up straighter to confront the approaching boy. “Tetsurou, I think Yamamoto needs laps for disrespecting his senpai!” He called, without looking away from Yamamoto’s angry-looking face.

“Yamamoto! Ten laps!” Kuroo responded, without missing a beat. The rest of the team froze for a second before bursting into laughter and Yamamoto’s shoulders drooped.

“You guys are so mean.”

_____

Eventually, with the help of a surprisingly skilled Kenma, the second tent was assembled. Yamamoto returned from his laps around the campground and apologized to Kai, though the vice-captain’s laughing acceptance seemed more sarcastic than sincere.

Dinner was bentos that had been packed by Inuoka’s older sister, which had kept unusually well despite the hot day. When Kuroo started to build a fire he was surprisingly competent, only burning himself twice while readjusting the hot logs. The boys spread out: f*ckunaga went straight to bed, crawling into his sleeping bag, Yamamoto followed him but could be seen sitting with his flashlight through the thin tent walls, and Inuoka and Shibayama were hunched over a lantern on the picnic table, playing a card game. Yaku and Kai were debating something, who knows what, religion, politics, something that sounded much more heated than it must have been because every few minutes they both burst into laughter.

Kuroo was poking the campfire with a long stick, sitting beside Kenma who was wrapped head to toe in a blanket.

“Kenma-san, can I play your game?” Lev asked, snuggling close to Kenma’s other side and peering to see the screen of his PSP.

“No.” He replied.

Lev accepted the answer for a few minutes. He alternated between staring at the dancing flames in front of him and looking up, comparing the black of the trees with the dark blue where they met the sky.

“Kenma-san do you want a s’more?”

“What?” He sounded only slightly more interested, but didn’t look away from the game in his hands.

“You know,” he held up the bag of marshmallows that were sitting beside him, “s’mores?”

“I don’t know what those are.” There seemed to be genuine curiosity in his voice now and Kuroo laughed a little.

“Really, Kenma?” Kuroo said, poking the fire a little more vigorously before settling back next to Kenma.

“Yeah, it sounds English, sort of, what is it?”

“Just watch.” Lev replied, and grabbed the stick for roasting the marshmallows. That seemed normal, and Kenma quickly lost interest as Lev burned his first two tries and dropped his third while celebrating its perfection.

By the time Lev had successfully roasted a marshmallow (not as good as the one he dropped but almost) and smashed it between graham crackers and chocolate Kenma was so invested in a battle in his game that he didn’t look up no matter how loudly Lev said ‘Kenma-san!’

Kuroo watched Lev look back and forth between Kenma’s face and the s’more in his hand and couldn’t stop his preemptive laughter when Kenma’s mouth dropped open in concentration and Lev pounced.

The graham cracker cracked, and smashed half against his cheek, but enough must have gone into his mouth because before he could be angry Kenma was chewing and his eyes widened.

“What was that?” He asked, sounding a little dazed.

“A s’more.” Lev replied, his smile was so wide that Kuroo wondered if his face hurt.

“How’d you do it?” Kenma asked, and Lev was more than happy to teach him.

___

“You can’t make eggs on an open flame.” Yaku said, and gracelessly pushed Kuroo away from the pan. The grill was set over the fire, which was heating remarkably evenly, but not even enough to cook eggs right.

“Hey, I’ve done this before!” Kuroo replied, and pushed Yaku back. It didn’t take much, he had the leverage of his height working for him, before he was in front of the still empty pan again.

“You should use the camp stove.” Yaku said.

You should use the camp stove.” Kuroo mocked, acting every bit of his seventeen years.

“I’m not saying I want to cook I’m just saying you’re doing it wrong.”

“I’m the captain.”

“And I’m a libero, that doesn’t make me a chef any more than it makes you one.” Yaku replied, crossing his arms in front of him.

“Well, I’m gonna do it!” Kuroo took the carton of eggs from the table and brought them back to the grill before cracking one, rather successfully, Yaku hated to notice, into the pan.

“Fine, but don’t count on it working.”

“It’ll work!” Kuroo said confidently, brandishing the spatula rather like a sword and pointing it at Yaku.

It didn’t work. Five minutes later the eggs were half runny and half burnt before Kuroo tossed them on the ground and tried again. He went through the entire carton with Yaku tutting beside him before he plopped back onto the picnic bench and buried his face in his hands.

“Maybe you were right.” He said, almost too quiet to hear.

“Wanna say that a little louder, Mr. Captain?” Yaku taunted.

“Shut up.”

f*ckunaga, either brave or oblivious to the silent tension, spoke first. “What are we going to eat?”

“There’s no food?” Yamamoto asked, stepping out of the tent and looking shocked.

“Nope.” f*ckunaga replied, sitting down at the picnic table opposite where Kuroo was still hiding his face.

Kenma stretched and yawned, still wrapped in the blanket that none of them had seen him without. He pulled out his phone and pushed a few buttons before bringing it to his ear.

“Hi, mom.” He said into the receiver.

A few seconds of silence followed, seemingly his mother’s reply.

“Can you bring us food? Kuro can’t cook.”

Kuroo dropped his hands and sat up, glaring back at where Kenma was standing. Yaku laughed again at his expression.

“Yeah, for everyone. Thanks. Love you, bye.” He hung up the phone and went back into the tent without another word.

Yaku started clapping, holding out his hands towards Kuroo, beginning an applause that didn’t stop until the rest of the team that was out of the tents joined in as well.

____

The campground they chose was chosen specifically for its isolation, despite being within driving distance of the city, and the fact that you could walk to the nearby lake. The late August heat was stifling, and after their miracle-delivered breakfast everyone was ready for a swim.

Inuoka and Shibayama were first in the water, jumping through the shallows and diving in with yelled challenges about racing to a buoy.

“You comin’, Kuroo?” Yamamoto said, dropping his shirt by the shore and stepping into the water. It was chilly but the air was hot enough that it felt nice.

“Nah, I’ll sit this one out.” Kuroo replied, plopping down on a patch of grass under the shade of a tree and crossing his legs.

Kenma left his blanket, which he had still been wearing, on the ground near Kuroo and took the book f*ckunaga had given him, a novelization of a game Kenma liked, with him to the water. Books were only slightly more water-safe than electronics, but the book wasn’t his anyway so Kenma didn’t mind sitting in the shallows and reading.

Kuroo pulled the blanket around behind him and bunched it up to use as a pillow between him and the tree.

Kai and Yaku walked past, Kai shedding his shoes. He tossed one in Kuroo’s direction. “Get in the water, Tetsurou.”

“I’m good.” He answered. He crossed his hands behind his head and leaned back in an attempt to relax.

“So,” Yaku said, glancing back first at Kuroo and then to Kai, “he can’t swim, I’m guessing.”

“Seems like it.” Kai replied.

Kuroo made a show of ignoring their commentary, and closed his eyes. The rest of the conversation was communicated via eyebrow raises and a one-shoulder shrug from Yaku before they both grabbed Kuroo by an arm and yanked him towards the water.

“Hey, hey, hey! What the hell are you guys doing?!” Kuroo’s voice was frantic, and they paused in their dragging to give him a second to process.

“We’re teaching you to swim, idiot.” Yaku replied, still holding tight on Kuroo’s bicep.

“We’ll let go long enough for you to take off your shirt if you promise not to run away.” Kai offered.

Kuroo froze, as if considering his options for escape. “Fine. I didn’t pack very many shirts let me take it off.”

Kai dropped his hands first, but Yaku watched Kuroo for a few more seconds, gauging his intent before letting go and taking a step back. He pulled off his tank top and tossed it back towards Kenma’s blanket before dropping his shorts until he was only in his swimsuit. It would have been nondescript if it weren’t for the grey cat silhouette pattern over the black fabric.

“What the hell is that?” Yamamoto yelled from his place in the shallows, pointing uncomfortably towards Kuroo’s crotch.

“They were a gift!!” Kuroo yelled back, loud enough that Lev missed the volleyball he’d been tossing back and forth with f*ckunaga and it hit him in the face.

“Alright, kitty boy, let’s go.” Kai grabbed his arm again and marched him towards the shore, not slowing for Yaku to catch up until Kuroo resisted getting in the water and pulled back.

“Oh, no you don’t.” Yaku said, catching Kuroo’s flailing arm and helping Kai pull him into the water up to his knees. Their feet sunk into the sandy ground with every step, giving them the leverage it took to keep pulling.

Once they were up to Kuroo’s thighs, though Yaku was closer to his waist, they stopped pulling. “Hey, Tetsurou, look at me.” Kai said. Kuroo turned. He looked more frustrated than scared, which eased Kai’s worries slightly. “We’re going to teach you to swim so you can have fun with us, okay? We’re only half doing it to make fun of you, the other half is for your benefit.”

“Yeah, stop being so scared, idiot.” Yaku said, “We’re not going to let you drown.”

“I’m not scared.” Kuroo said, though he didn’t sound confident. “Fine, okay, let’s get this over with.”

“Be careful, Kuro.” Kenma said from his place in the shallows. He was still holding his book but didn’t appear to be reading it.

Kai and Yaku let go of his arms and took a few steps back. They expected Kuroo to bolt, to run back to shore as soon as he was free to, but he stood still. Kenma watched the progress and Yamamoto drifted closer to Kai. Even f*ckunaga and Lev watched, f*ckunaga holding the volleyball under one arm.

“Come on then, let’s go deeper.” Kai suggested, and took a few more steps, letting the water rise to his chest.

Kuroo took one hesitant step, and then another, walking towards Kai like a newborn, and Yaku stifled a laugh when he followed.

Shibayama made it to the buoy more than ten seconds after Inuoka, who was clinging to it and didn’t seem to care about the slimy algae.

“I win!” He yelled, raising one fist in the air before dropping it to cling again to the buoy.

Shibayama was treading water, pushing his wet hair out of his eyes, but still breathing hard from the swim. “Yeah!” He replied, not managing to sound as excited as he usually did.

Inuoka let go of the buoy and pushed off the best he could, closing the distance between himself and Shibayama. The way that they both floated with the water around their necks you couldn’t see how much longer Inuoka’s limbs were. “Sorry.” Inuoka said, glancing back towards the shore where he could just see what looked like Kuroo clinging to Yamamoto’s back as they swam.

“Sorry for what?” Shibayama asked, and looked over his shoulder for a second to follow Inuoka’s eyes.

“For the race. It wasn’t fair since I’ve got longer arms.”

Shibayama looked surprised for a second before kicking forward to dunk Inuoka with both hands on his shoulders. When Inuoka broke the surface again, sputtering against the water in his mouth he was smiling.

“Don’t apologize for being tall!” Shibayama said, and Inuoka laughed before coughing and laughing again.

The rest of the boys quickly lost interest in the Teach Kuroo to Swim Project, though Yamamoto joined the third years by letting Kuroo cling to his back as he swam around deeper water. Yaku said it was to get Kuroo used to the movement of swimming, it was mostly that him and Kai wanted to laugh at both of them together.

Lev was attempting to spike the ball every time f*ckunaga tossed it, and f*ckunaga was entertaining himself by laughing at the splashing and flailing of his teammate every time he tried to jump in thigh-high water.

f*ckunaga tossed it again and Lev jumped, catching the ball on the palm of his hand and slamming it down with a splash somewhere behind f*ckunaga.

“Nice spike, but next time not so far.” He replied, turning around to dive for the ball before it floated too far away. The water was up to his shoulders by the time he reached it. “I’m gonna throw from here!” He called and Lev nodded.

The throw wasn’t great, he wasn’t a setter to begin with, and having to contend with keeping his balance in water and tossing more than twenty feet wasn’t easy, but it made it to Lev with little problem.

Lev jumped, eager to spike again but this time misjudged the distance. He missed the ball but he flailed for it, trying to hit it no matter how bad his form was, and it hit the water somewhere beside him. He landed with a splash, far to the left of where he had been and half on top of a cautiously swimming Kuroo.

Kuroo panicked. He was dunked under water but when he came up he was more splashing than swimming. Kai and Yamamoto were quickest in reaching him, catching his arms with their own and tugging him back to where his feet could touch.

After a few moments everything seemed to go quiet as Kuroo looked back at Lev, who had regained his footing and was hugging the volleyball like a teddy bear.

“Ten laps.” He said, and Lev nodded and bowed. Kuroo seemed to have regained his illusion of cool, and pushed his hair out of his eyes while the rest of the team gawked.

“How the hell did you get him to listen so easily?” Yaku wondered, out loud but seemingly to himself.

“Captain powers?” Kai suggested.

“Maybe it was the cat swimsuit.” Yaku replied.

____

When the sun sank below the horizon the heat of the day stuck in the air. Dinner was made surprisingly more successful than breakfast through an unexpected collaboration between Yamamoto and Kai that resulted in a meal that was not only edible but actually tasted good, and after the meal everyone was sated and happy.

“That was really good Yamamoto-senpai! I didn’t know you could cook!” Inuoka said, sitting down criss-cross next to Shibayama. The fire was already built and Kuroo was busy keeping it lit, occasionally poking it with the stick he’d used the night before.

“Eh? It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” Yamamoto replied, rubbing the back of his neck in a self-conscious gesture.

“Yeah! Where’d you learn all that?” Lev asked, taking a seat on Inuoka’s other side.

Yamamoto’s reply was more mumbling than actual words.

“I think he said his cousin is a chef.” f*ckunaga said, instead, from his spot next to Yamamoto. It was possible that he actually heard the mumbled words, but equally possible that he made it up.

Kai laughed and took a seat on Yamamoto’s other side. “Should have brought your cousin with us instead of you.”

“Very funny.” Yamamoto grumbled, but eventually smiled when Kai slapped him on the arm.

Everyone eventually settled around the fire, breaking off into their own conversations. Kenma was wrapped in his blanket again, which he’d put right back on after drying off from the lake, and was only leaning against Kuroo’s shoulder.

“Is your PSP dead?” Kuroo asked, noting the almost unrecognizable absence of electronics in Kenma’s hands.

“Yeah.” Kenma replied, closing his eyes against the glow of the firelight.

“Do you have the DS?”

Kenma shook his head and Kuroo felt it move against his arm.

“What about that book from earlier?” Kuroo suggested.

“Can’t read in the dark.”

“Oh yeah.” Kuroo picked up his stick and poked it aimlessly towards the smoldering logs. They didn’t really need help at this point. “You want to go to sleep?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna sleep now.” Kenma answered, but instead of standing up he pulled his blanket tighter around his shoulders and leaned down to rest his head against Kuroo’s thigh. It wasn’t anything unusual, though Kuroo wasn’t sure how it was comfortable.

Inuoka and Shibayama were talking loudly, or, Inuoka was and Shibayama’s face was red from laughing. Their conversation sounded like a cross between smoked meat and spotting cats on the street from what Kuroo could hear.

“The third one is the best though.” Yamamoto said defiantly, daring f*ckunaga to argue him on the point.

“Sure, if you like inconsistent storytelling and an inefficient battle system.” f*ckunaga replied.

“The third one has that cat girl in it! How can you beat that?!”

f*ckunaga rolled his eyes and glanced towards Lev in an attempt to find an ally. Lev seemed caught between wanting to agree with f*ckunaga on principle and fascination at the idea of cat girls.

“No amount of cat girls can make up for butchering the story from the first two games, Yamamoto.”

Yamamoto seemed confused by the concept for a few seconds before he grabbed f*ckunaga’s arm. “Hey,” he said seriously, “have you seen the cat girl in the third game? If I had internet I’d show you, dude, really.”

f*ckunaga rolled his eyes but Lev seemed more interested than ever.

“Is she a cat or a girl though?” Lev asked, and it only took three seconds of stunned silence before f*ckunaga and Yamamoto were both laughing, finally in agreement.

“You made a decision yet?” Kai asked, leaning towards Yaku and directing his words past him to Kuroo.

“‘Bout what?” Kuroo poked the fire again.

“Captain stuff, you know coach takes the current captain’s suggestions into consideration.” Kai replied.

Yaku leaned back on his hands. “I don’t know if I trust any of them to be able to feed themselves, let alone run a team.”

“Hey, Yamamoto can cook, at least.” Kuroo said with a smile.

Yamamoto looked up from his conversation at the sound of his name. “What?”

“Nothin’.” Kuroo replied, waving him off.

“That doesn’t mean he can lead, though.” Yaku said.

Kuroo shrugged.

Kai scooted back to stretch his legs out in front of him. “You’ll have to make a choice soon. The coaches will want to know before the Spring High so you can start training whoever it’s gonna be.”

“They’re gonna ask you, too, Nobuyuki.” Kuroo replied.

“Yeah, I know, I’ve got my choice in mind already.”

“Who is it?” Yaku asked, seeming genuinely curious.

Kai held up his hands in a defensive position. “Hey, no way, I’m keeping Tetsurou unbiased I can’t say.”

“Tell me later, then.” Yaku said and Kai shrugged.

“You guys think we should do something as a team? It’s the last night, after all.” Kai said, looking between Yaku and Kuroo, who was absentmindedly smoothing the hair on Kenma’s forehead.

“Sure. Did you have something in mind?” Yaku asked and Kuroo looked up and nodded.

Kai clapped his hands twice and the sharp noise echoed through camp stopping conversations.

“Listen up, team, since it’s our last night here I thought we’d do a bonding exercise.”

“Does it involve trust falls?” f*ckunaga said, half under his breath, but everyone else was quiet enough that it was clearly heard.

“No trust falls.”

“Is it truth or dare? Because there’s no way I’m doing any dares after last time.” Yamamoto said, visibly shivering for effect.

“We didn’t say you had to lick it.” Kuroo said, laughing at the memory.

“No--” Kai broke in, before any more conversation could start, “no truth or dare. If you’d let me finish before interrupting like a bunch of hooligans.”

“Who even says hooligans?” Yaku interrupted, proving Kai’s point.

“I do, now shut up.” Kai said, pushing Yaku hard enough that he fell into Kuroo. “As I was saying, bonding exercise. All you have to do is say something nice about the person beside you and we’ll go in a circle. Got it? Good.”

“Which way?” Lev asked.

“Which way what?”

“Which way in the circle?”

Kai realized that Lev had a point and glanced around the circle. He had an urge to make Yaku say something nice about him. “Left. Say something nice about the person to your left. I’ll start.” Kai looked to his left and froze.

Yamamoto was looking at him with an expectant grin. “Got somethin’ nice to say about me, senpai?”

“Yamamoto is good when you need someone to stand between you and the sun, or maybe between you and a speeding car, yeah that would be better.”

“What the hell, man, that isn’t nice!” Yamamoto punched Kai hard in the shoulder and Kai winced.

“I said you were ‘good’, didn’t I?” Kai replied, rubbing his shoulder from the sting.

“Alright, I’m gonna take this more seriously than Kai-senpai did.” Yamamoto said, turning towards f*ckunaga beside him. “f*ckunaga is actually really good at video games, and he kicks my ass like twice a week, though I’m not sure what can be said for his taste in games without cat girls.”

f*ckunaga just smiled and turned to Lev. “Your spikes are getting better.”

The statement was said without emotion or really much deliberation but Lev’s face lit up in a huge smile. “Really? You think? I’ve been trying really hard, even today at the lake I was working on my form!”

“Calm down Lev, it’s your turn.” Kuroo piped in. Kenma still appeared to be asleep on his lap, despite the louder conversations.

“Oh! Inuoka is great because he practices receiving and blocking with me sometimes after practice and he says yes almost every time I ask unless he’s got a lot of school work to do and that’s really great!”

Inuoka smiled in response. “No problem, we first years have to stick together.” He said, and clapped Lev on the shoulder. “My turn then?”

Kai and Kuroo both nodded and Inuoka took a deep breath before turning to Shibayama. “Wow, this is hard.” He looked back at the fire and then at Shibayama again. “I mean, you have really nice eyes.”

“About time.” Yaku said under his breath and Kai stifled a laugh. It was hard to tell if Shibayama was blushing in the firelight but he smiled a little before turning to Kenma.

“Is he awake?” He asked.

Kuroo shrugged. “Who knows. I’ll tell him later if you want.”

“Okay then.” Shibayama said. He still kept turned, and directed his words towards where Kenma’s blanket-wrapped form. “I think Kenma-san would make a good captain. Next year, I mean, I think he would be good.”

There was a round of nods and silent agreement as Kuroo looked around the circle. He was surprised how unanimous the sentiment seemed to be. He looked over at Kai who gave him a nod. He realized he had some things to think about, particularly about whether his best friend could or would want to run this team.

“Kuro is warm and his hands feel nice sometimes.” Kenma said, without stirring, from his place against Kuroo’s leg.

Kai couldn’t hide his laugh and Kuroo slapped both of his hands over his face. He could feel that his cheeks were warm and he had zero plans of letting the team see him like that. He would hide behind his hands for the rest of eternity if need be.

“Yaku, you’re really good at taking care of the team.” He said, still behind his hands. “You’re our support and maybe people should listen to you a little more often.” He didn’t move his hands but took a deep breath again. “Your turn.”

“Why don’t you take your own advice and be more nice to me, then?” Yaku said with a smile.

Kuroo dropped his hands to glare. “Shut up, I was trying to be nice.”

“Oh, good job, then. Very nice.” Yaku said sarcastically. Kuroo flipped him off.

Yaku waved off the hand motion and turned towards Kai, who was waiting expectantly with his chin in his hand. “I’m waiting.” He said with a smile.

“I think Kai is secretly a nice, sweet boy and he doesn’t want anyone to know so he hides it behind this sarcastic asshole persona. Maybe he should be a little more open with his team.” Yaku said, finishing with a laugh that he couldn’t hold back any longer.

Kai clapped again, startling everyone including Kenma who twitched in his possible-sleep. “Okay, glad that’s over with. Let’s hit the sack, we have to pack up early tomorrow.”

“Hey, who’s the captain here?”

“Still you, but it’s hard to tell when your face is so red.”

Kuroo twitched, aching to jump forward and pummel Kai but he couldn’t reach with Kenma on his lap. “I’ll get you back for this, Nobuyuki, don’t think I’ll forget.”

Kai stood up and stretched his back. “Sure, see you in the morning.”

_____

When the sleeping bags were rolled and all the tents were broken down Kenma had to find a new place to nap. At the loss of his precious battery life he’d decided napping was the easiest way to save energy and avoid unnecessary social interactions. He hadn’t let Yamamoto take his blanket with the rest when they were packing and he crawled up onto the picnic table and covered up. The sky was bright and overcast but with his arms holding the blanket over his face it was dark enough.

“Kenma-san, are you awake?” Lev’s voice broke easily through the blanket barrier and Kenma wished he’d had the foresight to wear his headphones, even if they weren’t attached to anything.

“No.” He replied, tightening the blanket. He felt the table shift with Lev’s weight as he sat on the bench beside where Kenma was lying.

“Do you think what f*ckunaga-senpai said last night was true? Are my spikes improving?” Lev continued, oblivious to Kenma’s attempts to sleep.

Kenma’s voice was muffled through the blanket when he replied. “When did he say that?”

“Last night at the campfire, don’t you remember?”

“I was asleep.” He replied. It was mostly true, he had slept through most of the beginning of the conversation.

“But you said those nice things about Kuroo-senpai.” Lev sounded more confused than usual and Kenma turned on his side to face away from him.

“I don’t remember what I said.” It was a lie, but it was easier than explaining that he just said something that was true, just like everyone else did.

“Hey, Lev!” It was Shibayama’s voice coming from somewhere behind him. “I think Yamamoto-senpai and Inuoka are going to arm wrestle on that stump over there, you should go watch.”

Kenma raised his eyebrows, though no one could see him. It didn’t sound like a lie, but it did sound like Shibayama was saving him from a fate of Lev’s questions for the rest of the morning. He felt the table shift again as Lev got up and ran towards the rest of the team. The table moved, slightly less, as someone else sat, and Kenma guessed it was Shibayama.

“Kenma-san, do you think we could talk?” His voice was soft when he asked. Kenma shrugged, but realized that through the blanket and the fact that he was lying on his side it probably was unrecognizable.

“Mm, okay.” He said instead, and rolled over to face Shibayama. He had to lift his hips and yank the blanket around as he rolled and even then he still got slightly tangled.

“So, how much were you awake for last night?”

“About half, why?”

Shibayama looked shy, glancing first down at the few inches of table in front of Kenma and then up and over him across the campsite. “Did you hear what I said?”

“Last night?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, I did.” Kenma said. It was surprising to hear that Shibayama thought he could be the captain, as well as the weird pause afterwards.

“I just wanted you to know I was serious, and I think everyone else agrees. You’d be a good captain, Kenma-san.”

He wasn’t sure what to say to that. It wasn’t really something he’d thought about too often, but the idea of f*ckunaga, or worse, Yamamoto, being captain next year was almost laughable. He wasn’t sure he would be any better, he wasn’t good with people like Kuro, but who knows, there was a chance.

“Thanks.” He said, after too long of a pause, and Shibayama simply nodded before standing up and away from the table.

“You think they’re talking about Kenma being captain?” Kuroo asked Kai, nudging him in the side and pointing towards where Shibayama and Kenma were sitting and lying respectively.

“Maybe. Shibayama is the honest type, he’d want Kenma to know what he said about him.” Kai shoved the sleeping bag he was holding into the back of the van.

“So he was your pick? The one you wouldn’t tell me?” Kuroo asked, not taking his eyes away from the bundle of blankets that was his friend.

“Yeah. You really didn’t consider it?”

“I hadn’t given it much thought, really. After we decided to keep playing past the first interhigh I was focused on Nationals, not next year.” Kuroo said.

“What about University? You aren’t thinking about that either?” Kai sounded worried.

“I’m not not thinking about it, just, you know,” he waved his hand dismissively, “just not focusing on it.”

“I really think Kenma can do it, seriously.” Kai said. “He’s grown a lot since he started playing with all of us. I don’t know how he was in middle school but just seeing how much he’s grown since his first year is enough for me to believe he can run the team.”

“He’s not so good with people sometimes.” Kuroo replied.

“He won’t be alone. I figure Yamamoto can translate for him for people who can’t listen, he’s a good enforcer. And f*ckunaga is pretty good with interpreting his weird silences. I think you’re underestimating him.”

Kuroo looked back at Kai for the first time and found him leaning against the now closed back of the van with his arms crossed. “You’re smarter than you look, you know.”

Kai laughed. “I’m smarter than you look too.”

The arm wrestling was, indeed, exciting for the first thirty seconds until Lev got bored and asked Yaku to practice receives with him. After a swift refusal from Yaku, Inuoka offered to play with him and he dropped Yamamoto’s hand. Inuoka yanked Shibayama with him when Lev grabbed the ball and they found a more open area to toss back and forth.

The rest of the campsite was packed and smashed into the back of the van, less organized than it had been the first time, but that was to be expected. After a final check of the campsite and wrenching the volleyball from Lev’s hands they all piled back into the van for the trip home.

“Yaku-san, are you sure you can reach the pedals?” Lev called from his place squished between Yamamoto and Shibayama.

“Yamamoto, will you hit him for me?” Yaku called, re-adjusting the mirrors and backing out of the parking space.

“Will do.” Yamamoto replied, and punched Lev hard in the arm.

The Misadventures of Camping Cats - iwaizumemes (skytramp) (2024)

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