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growing up and apart

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They’re nine years old and they’re in Kuroo’s garden. The sun’s beating down on their heads and their clothes are sticking to them and yet Kuroo is insisting they finish this volleyball game before they go inside for ice cream. Daishou whines because he just wants his papico. (Kuroo’s parents have started buying papico now that Daishou comes over almost every day.) Kenma’s sitting under a tree watching. He doesn’t like it when it’s too hot. Daishou wins, and immediately runs inside for his papico.

They’re ten years old and they’re baking cookies for Kuroo’s mom’s birthday. Daishou teases Kuroo for not being able to reach the chocolate chips in the cupboard. Kuroo says he'll be taller than Daishou one day, just you wait. It's Kuroo's job to mix the ingredients together, Kenma's to roll the dough into balls and puts them on the tray. Daishou puts on an innocent face and steals the cookie dough. Kenma gives him a look but doesn’t stop him. They’re covered in flour and the kitchen’s a mess but they had fun. They almost burn the cookies. Kuroo’s mom ruffles her son’s hair and pats Daishou’s shoulder. She knows Daishou doesn’t like messing his hair up.

They’re eleven years old and it’s their last year of elementary school. They spend even more time together, doing homework and studying for their junior high entrance exam. They both want to go to the same school. Kuroo tries to copy Daishou’s homework but can’t read his handwriting. Daishou’s annoyed because he knows how nice his handwriting is; he’s decided Kuroo just can’t read.

They’re twelve years old and they just started junior high school. They sit next to each other in class. They consistently get the top two grades in tests but they swap places each time. They both promise themselves to beat the other next time. Their junior high has a volleyball club. They both make it as starters by the spring tournament.

They’re thirteen years old and Kenma's followed them to junior high. Volleyball practice has become more fun. They’ve been growing taller and it’s been getting easier to block spikes. Conversely, it’s also been getting easier to jump higher than the block. Kuroo’s grown taller than Daishou, like he promised. Daishou makes sure to improve the accuracy of his serves to "accidentally" nail Kuroo in the back of the head in practice matches.

They’re fourteen years old and Daishou’s parents have transferred him to a private school on the other side of Tokyo. They aren’t them – a unit, a partnership – anymore. Kuroo doesn’t hear from Daishou after he leaves. He doesn't know if that's Daishou's choice or his parents' influence. He’s angry and he misses his best friend. He knows Daishou’s parents didn’t like their friendship and it hurts. He gets closer to Kenma as a result.

They’re in high school now. Kuroo’s fifteen and Daishou’s sixteen. They’ve just seen each other for the first time since they were separated. They don’t recognise each other anymore. Kuroo’s repressed his feelings. Daishou’s become a snake, befitting of a student from a school called Nohebi. Nohebi beats Nekoma in the first round of the interhigh. Daishou doesn’t even spare a glance at Kuroo after the game ends. Kuroo’s repressed feelings return.

They’re seventeen and they’re in the gym for the spring tournament. Kuroo sees Daishou across the stands kissing a girl. They look so happy together. He doesn’t know why the sight makes him feel sick. (He does, deep down. He just doesn’t want to admit it.)

They’re eighteen and they’ve both become captains. Kuroo’s heard Daishou and his girlfriend have broken up. It makes him feel good, somehow. They both lose their semi-finals match in the spring tournament which means they must face each other for the third place nationals spot. Nohebi loses. They were so close to nationals. Daishou cries with his team after their loss. Kuroo watches from afar. He pretends not to notice Daishou and his girlfriend have seemingly got back together. He pretends not to notice them in the stands watching their match with Karasuno. He pretends not to hurt when Daishou tries to rile him up when Nekoma loses.