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When Kita gestures to his couch and suggests that maybe Atsumu would like to sit down and stop wearing out his carpet, Atsumu does not think twice about sitting. Neither does he protest as Kita plucks the frayed cushion from his fidgety hands and replaces it with a coffee grinder, one of those hand mills with a long handle.

“Make yourself useful, please.”

Atsumu makes himself useful.

Kita takes a seat, props his elbow up on an armrest and tilts his head to one side. He’s smaller without the jacket round his shoulders, but the glasses more than make up for it.

“So. What exactly is the matter, now?”

“Kita-san! I can’t just drop in while I’m in your ‘hood and visit my favourite senpai?”

Kita arches an eyebrow and pins Atsumu with an inscrutable look. After a while, the bubbling of the kettle quietens, and he gets up, goes to the kitchen. Atsumu hears a drawer being pulled open, the clink of ceramic mugs, teaspoons and sugar. By the time Kita returns with a tray, Atsumu’s arm is cramping up.

It’s with a start that he realises that he’s already ground up all the beans, and he’s been mindlessly turning the crank all this while, a fact that Kita highlights to him with a downward flick of his pointed gaze.

“Okay, fine. It’s Osamu,” Atsumu admits, setting down the grinder. He leans back, stretches his arms across the sofa and makes an ostentatious show of groaning.

“Atsumu,” Kita snaps. “That tells me nothing. Of course it’s Osamu.”

He empties the ground coffee into a filter and tips the hot water over it. The first thing that hits Atsumu is the divine smell, rich and heady and frothy; he watches in impatient fascination as Kita holds the kettle steady, and drop by drop, the coffee pot starts to fill up.

Kita always makes coffee like this. A meditation, a ritual with all the weight of a tea ceremony. He drinks it black, he and Osamu. The sugar bowl on the table, Atsumu knows, is for him, and Kita keeps it full.

There are only two mugs on the tray. Kita had known he’d come alone today. Of course he’d known. 

Atsumu lets a tired sigh escape his lips.

“I think Samu’s made up his mind about Todai,” he says.

“Ah. He’s accepting the offer, then.”

“I haven’t said anything yet!”

“If he wasn’t, Atsumu, you wouldn’t have shown up here looking like he ate all your pudding. Which he’s more than entitled to, by the way.”

“I just—always thought we’d all end up together,” Atsumu mutters. 

Kita keeps pouring, till the last drop falls, and sets down the kettle. When he speaks, he’s not looking at Atsumu but at the ripples in his coffee. They fade away behind the clear glass in the blink of an eye, and stillness settles once again across the surface, deep and silent.

“Even if we did, it wouldn’t have been the same, you know. You’ve grown. Both of you.”

Atsumu shifts in his seat, restless. 

And so have I, he hears without hearing, a murmur buried in Kita’s words. Beneath the gilt edge of assurance that the rest of the world sees, there’s his captain, unadorned. The truth in his mouth is bold and bitter and it’s always been Osamu, not Atsumu, who knew how to take it, who began to peel away before Atsumu ever realised. 

Into this void, Kita presses a fresh mug of coffee and heaps two teaspoons of sugar into it, holds Atsumu’s hands in his own cool ones for a moment. 

When they’d last shaken hands, it had been in the afterglow of Atsumu’s first win as captain, and Kita had come down from the stands to congratulate him. Formal as his manner was, his touch seared itself into Atsumu’s palm, warm and proud. So, Atsumu remembers thinking, smiling to himself. Kita-san does have a pulse.

It beats now, a receding tide that he had once held. It is still something to behold. It had never been his to own. He hears Osamu in his head, calling him an idiot. He hears Osamu all the time. He will probably hear him all the way from Tokyo, in years to come.

Atsumu takes a shaky breath, nods at Kita, and lifts the mug to his lips.