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Growing up, your grandparents always loved to give you life advice. Sometimes it’d be randomly out of the blue and really not applicable to your current life stage (like that one time when you were sitting on the porch watching the sunset, and then all of the sudden Jiji started talking about the importance of investment—“Dad,” your mom interrupted exasperatedly, “she’s six! She barely understands money!”); other times it just sounded like complete garbage (“If you eat that watermelon seed,” your Baba told you with wide eyes, “you’ll grow a watermelon baby in your stomach! Don’t eat seeds!”). As a young kid, you rarely really thought much about their strange pearls of knowledge. But now, as you get older and wiser and life moves on, you find that some of their advice actually rings true. And a lot of it parallels your ever-interesting relationship with Miya Atsumu.

 

LIFE LESSONS FROM BABA AND JIJI:

1) On Bullying*: “Sometimes if people are makin’ fun of you, it’s just because they’re hurtin’ on the inside themselves.” – Jiji, 2001

The day you graduate from high school is very difficult for you. You’re not entirely sure why—after all, you’re over the moon with the fact that you’re finally done, barely scraping by the skin of your teeth—but when your name is called and you stand up in acknowledgement, the waterworks begin. It gets even worse when you catch Kita’s eye from across the gymnasium and he gives you a small yet genuine smile; and then, when you get to homeroom and begin to say your goodbyes, you really wish you hadn’t worn mascara that day.

Atsumu meets you at the entrance gates after school. Seeing him makes the tears start back up again, and it hits you why you’re so emotional. You’re done. No more lunches with Kita, no more extra penalty laps around the pool, no more courtyard rendezvous with Atsumu. Your time at Inarizaki is over, and it’s time to say farewell.

The blonde’s eyes flash when he sees your watering eyes, and he begins to walk towards you. You’re expecting him to console you like a good boyfriend should, but instead he merely begins to laugh loudly when he comes closer. “I didn’t know they allowed raccoons to attend school,” Atsumu tells you with a crooked grin, and then gives a loud “Ow!” when you slug him in the arm.

“You’re the fuckin’ worse,” you gripe, though you allow yourself to fold into him when he wraps his arms around you. One hand comes up to grip his shirt, and you swear his embrace gets tighter when you bury your face into his chest. “It’s just sometimes hard to say bye, ya know?” you mumble.

Atsumu is silent for a split second before his chest rumbles with another laugh, though this one is much smaller than before. You’re expecting him to say something sweet, but yet again he subverts your expectations by going “I get it, Raccoon-chan,” which earns him another punch.

Many years later, you’re sitting with Osamu and chatting about some of your favorite Atsumu moments (aka the times where the setter looks super lame). You’ve been exchanging tales for a while now, and both of you are really having to rack your brains to think of new ones. Finally the gray-haired twin recalls something, and although he prefaces it with a disclaimer about how it’s not a super great story, it ends up being your favorite one of the whole night.

“Sometime in the springtime right before we started our third year of high school—actually, it was right ‘bout the time you graduated, ‘cause I remember Mom askin’ ‘bout ya,” Osamu starts, “we were all eatin’ dinner, and Dad got mad when he saw a raccoon in the backyard. When he went to go chase it off, Mom stopped him, sayin’ something like, ‘Let it be. It’ll be gone before we know it.’

“And ‘Tsumu—” Osamu cuts himself off, chuckling a bit. “‘Tsumu—he just began tearin’ up literally outta nowhere. Ain’t got a clue why, but Mom thought it had to do with the raccoon. He got super fussy when she started babyin’ him, too—‘It’s just a raccoon, there are plenty more!’” mimics the twin, pitching his voice to falsetto. “‘Tsumu just refused to acknowledge any of it and kept shoving grub in his face. And if I remember correct, he started choking.” Your friend shrugs, though he has a small grin on his face, one that you frequently see on your boyfriend’s. “Like I said, not the best story, but what can you do.”

“Guess that raccoon meant a lot to him, huh?” you ask, smiling softly. Osamu gives you a real funny look, but you ignore it, instead switching the subject before he has time to ask. “Did I ever tell you ‘bout the time he said something shitty when I was helpin’ him with his hair so I ‘accidentally’ buzzed just one strip way too short—”

(*Addendum to On Bullying: “If someone’s laughin’ at you, just punch them.” – Baba, mere seconds after Jiji’s profound words were spoken.)

 

2) On Decisions*: “Sometimes overthinkin’ screws everything up. Go with your gut and take risks.” – Baba, 2011

About a month after your graduation, you accept a job with a startup sports marketing company. Getting hired happens much quicker than you expected. Unlike a lot of your fellow former classmates who chose the non-uni route, you hadn’t secured a job prior to leaving school. In retrospect, you now realize that it was kind of a dumb and risky move to not be more proactive regarding jobs; but back then you were just going with the flow, letting the wind carry you where it would.

And carry you it did! Your job position is by no means anywhere near the top of the food chain, but the job sounds good, the salary is decent, and the company, although brand new, is already receiving lots of attention and hype, showing that it has potential to avoid collapsing in on itself like a dying star.

Oh, and it also happens to be located in Tokyo.

You hadn’t really thought about the prospect of moving so soon, or ever. After all, you’re a girl from a pretty small town in Hyogo—it’s common for folk around here to never leave. So although you’re excited that the wind decided to take you somewhere new and bustling, you find yourself scrambling just a bit, having not sorted many (if any) of your ducks in a row.

The biggest duck of all being your relationship with Atsumu, naturally.

When you tell him the news, at first Atsumu is pretty excited. He begins to chatter about how awesome this is for you, you’re amazin’ (Name), and it’s for a sports company, you’re probably gonna meet some hotshots, huh—maybe you can even introduce me to them no wait what am I sayin’ I’ll be fine on my own ‘cause I’m awesome—

But his excitement dims when you interrupt him by letting him know where the job’s located. Whatever he was prattling on about before dies on his lips, and his eyebrows raise in surprise, brown eyes suddenly wide. “Tokyo,” he breathes, and you cringe at his unexpected tone. “Wow. That’s cool. That’s… far.” He pauses a split second, worrying his bottom lip, and you know exactly what he’s thinking about. Because you’ve been thinking about it for days yourself.

Long-distance. You tried it once, back when your middle school boyfriend of one month moved an hour away. The relationship ended a week later. Heartbroken (or, at least, whatever a preteen thinks is heartbroken), you swore after then that you’d never do long-distance ever again.

But that was a five-week “relationship” when you were thirteen. And this… well… this is Atsumu.

You know that this is not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s scary, it’s full of uncertainty; and regardless of whether or not it will be successful, it’s guaranteed to be filled with lots of heartache and missing yous and all that fuzzy, sad bullshit you’re not real good with.

But this is Atsumu.

You’ve thought (read: overthought) about it a lot over the past few days. And every time you do, you just end up screaming into your pillow, hating everything. Logically, it kind of makes sense to end things, doesn’t it? The relationship is still (technically) new, you’re still young, and there are plenty of interesting folk up in Tokyo. The world’s your oyster!

But this is Atsumu.

And when you look at his handsome face, you think about all the times you’ve had so far: the good and the bad and the annoying and the sweet; the loud laughs and quiet, soft smiles exchanged; the jokes and conversations lingering late into the night; the annoyance in his eyes, quickly replaced by smug satisfaction then shifting to fondness when you grasp your hand in his—

Logically, it makes sense to split. But logic can’t always justify everything, and you find that the feelings you have for Atsumu override any sort of stupid logic that would cause you to make a decision you know deep-down isn’t the one you want to make.

When he opens his mouth again, probably to say the exact same stuff you’ve been saying to yourself recently, you speak-shout, “Let’s do it.”

Atsumu blinks once, then twice. “Huh?”

“Listen, I know what’s goin’ on in your brain right now. Trust me,” you tell him, voice cracking. “It don’t make sense to stay together, right? We’re young, even thinkin’ about long-distance sucks ass, and we don’t know if it’ll work out. I get it.” You lean forward, staring at him intensely, and reach over to grab his hand, squeezing. “It’s rash and risky and not at all logical, but fuck logic. I’m sayin’ let’s go for it.”

Atsumu is quiet for a moment, then—“You really want to?” he asks you, voice soft and low.

“What, do long-distance? Hell no,” you say, and it’s the truth. “But it’s way better than not bein’ with you.”

When the blonde looks at you, there’s a bunch of emotions flickering in his eyes that you’ve never seen before. He keeps his face blank, borderline serene. His lack of reaction makes your stomach drop, and panic shoots through you. You’re starting to wonder if you’ve made a big mistake when you suddenly feel pressure on your hand.

It’s Atsumu, squeezing back. His face lights back up and a large, goofy grin flits up onto his face. “Never pegged ya as the type to say something so sappy,” he responds. It’s not really an affirmative response to your proclamation, but you understand nonetheless.

And your heart feels full.

(*Note: This was spoken over Jiji’s words of “When decidin’ on things, always try to think about it long-term.” Or at least that’s what you think Jiji was trying to say—Baba drowned him out.)

 

 

3A) On Communication: “If something’s botherin’ you, make sure to not keep it in.” – Jiji, 2006

3B) On Communication: “If somethin’s grindin’ your gears, beer helps—ok, ok, I hear ya! Yer Jiji wanted me to add just make sure you’re legal first.” – Baba, 2012

After about three years together, approximately of which two-thirds have been spent in completely separate prefectures, Atsumu tells you he’s thinking about moving out of Hyogo.

You’re still at work when he sends you this vital information in the form of text. The minute you read it, you shoot straight up from your desk, shouting “Really!” (which startles all your nearby coworkers), and rush down to the building’s lobby. Your boyfriend’s barely picked up before you begin your onslaught of questions, and he has to shout over you to take a chill pill and calm down, as he can’t understand a single thing you’re sayin’.

“You’re really thinkin’ ‘bout moving?” you question, clutching your phone to your ear.

His voice crackles on the other end of the line. “Well yeah, wouldn’t’ve told ya otherwise—”

“How long have you been thinkin’?” you interrupt. A wide grin snakes its way up to your face, and although you see some passersby give you weird looks, you don’t care. After all, this is something you’ve been thinking about for well over half a year but just hadn’t said anything, as it’s a really big decision, but now that he’s thought about it and come to the same conclusion, too—

I dunno, like a few weeks? I mean it’s just a thought, right now I can—”

“When would you move?” you ask, the words bubbling out before you can help yourself. No one can blame you, though—after all, it’s only natural to be excited at the prospect of finally being together again—

“I mean… if I do, it’d be before the new season starts back up—like it ain’t an issue to commute to practices like I’ve been doin’, but the whole point of movin’ would be to avoid doin’ it—”

And that’s when realization hits you. It’s slow at first, but the moment you’ve understood that you’ve gravely misinterpreted his words, a tidal wave of disappointment and feelin’ stupid washes over you. “Oh,” you start, voice not nearly as excited as before. “Osaka.”

Of course he’s talking about Osaka. He’s signed with MSBY Black Jackals, after all—it makes sense that if he moves somewhere, it’d be closer to where his team is based. Of course, how silly of you to think it’d be otherwise—

Yeah, Osaka,” confirms Atsumu. There’s a brief pause before he murmurs a bit hesitantly, “Did you think—

“Nope, dunno what you’re gettin’ at—”

‘Cause if so, I mean—

“Nah—”

(Name)—

“Osaka’s great,” you interrupt, giving a half-hearted smile even though there’s no way for him to see it. “It’ll be fun to visit somewhere other than the ol’ stompin’ grounds. Hope you go for it.”

Atsumu doesn’t respond for a long time. Finally when he does, his voice has that softness to it he only uses when he thinks he’s done something wrong. It’s rare he uses this tone—after all, he almost never admits he’s wrong (and even less does he think he’s wrong, the ass)—but every time he does, your heart both melts and shatters simultaneously. “Everythin’ good…?

Ah, there goes your heart, laying in a puddle of shards at the bottom of your stomach. “All good,” you lie. “Just been a long day. Listen—I’m still at work so I gotta get goin’, sorry. Let’s talk later?”

Ah, yeah, sure…” comes Atsumu’s voice. You’re just about to hang up when he calls, “Hey, (Name)? I love you.”

It’s not often that the two of you say those words to each other. You don’t need to, really; the sentiment is expressed in long talks over videocall, in hugs and kisses after being apart for a few months, in smiles exchanged when your less-tolerant friends (Aran) roll their eyes at your antics. I love you is just a bunch of words that only scratch the surface of how you really feel about each other.

But every time you hear it, you find yourself feeling a bit watery, and today’s no exception. “I know,” you murmur back, and you hear Atsumu chuckle before he hangs up.

When you go back up to your floor, one of your coworkers takes one look at your face before asking hesitantly if everything’s okay. This time you’re honest. “Osaka fuckin’ sucks,” you grumble, completely forgetting that this coworker is, in fact, from Osaka. You open your texts, find your group chat labeled “🍺 drinkin buds 🍺” and then type: Nonbei Yokocho tonight after work. I need a beer.

“A beer” turns into three, which turns into eight… and by the time you stumble home at four o’clock in the morning, you’ve somehow lost a shoe and do not remember most of the night.

You’re rudely woken up by the sound of someone knocking at your door, and when you check the clock, it tells you it’s approximately one in the afternoon. You feel like absolute garbage and try to go back to sleep, but the knocking persists, and so you force yourself up (which is accompanied by a wave of nausea) and make your way to the entrance. The hallway mirror shows that you’re still in your business suit, but it’s smudged all over with mud, and there’s a long rip in your stockings; in addition, your makeup is smeared all over the place and—is that grass in stuck in your hair? You would ask yourself what the fuck happened last night, but trying to think just makes you feel even more ill. Actually, the longer time goes on the worse everything starts to get, so by the time you open the door, you’re slumped against the wall, eyes closed because why is everything so fuckin’ bright, desperately trying not to vomit on whoever is bothering you.

“Wow,” says an incredibly familiar voice, “you look like garbage. Bet you feel as bad you look, too, huh?”

“Yeah,” you mumble to Atsumu, and when he steps forward and wraps you in his arms, you allow yourself to collapse.

Atsumu takes care of you for the rest of the day, being surprisingly gentle about everything with very little shitty commentary. He gets you cleaned up and dressed in comfortable, loose clothing, and leaves you on the couch with water and Advil, which causes you to pass out again almost instantly, your body desperately craving rest after being drug through the mud—quite literally, it seems—last night. When you wake up again the sun has long dipped below the horizon, and your phone tells you that it’s nearing ten at night. Well, there goes your Saturday.

There’s a faint savory scent wafting from your kitchen, and when Atsumu comes out with a plain bowl of rice with a fried egg on top, he blinks when he sees you’re awake. “Great timing,” he tells you, placing the food in your hands before sitting down himself. “How do you feel?”

You begin to pick at the food, taking just a few bites before a small wave of nausea rolls through, causing you to stop. “I feel like I got hit by a train,” you mumble.

Your boyfriend chuckles but says nothing, and then as you look at him it’s then that you realize something: Atsumu is here, in the flesh, in Tokyo. He’s not supposed to be. The next time you’re supposed to see him is in about two weeks’ time, as that’s when you’re planning on visiting Hyogo during the long weekend. “What are you doin’ here?” you ask, voice soft and scratchy.

“Takin’ care of you, dummy,” he responds back, as if it’s obvious. He opens his phone, scrolling for something.

“But why—”

Hey hey HEY, howzit goin’ BABE!” Your voice, loud and slurred and obviously incredibly drunk, rings out from Atsumu’s phone. You pale but say nothing as the voicemail continues on. “Lol I sssound like Bo, dun I? Did I trick ya? Oh but no then that’d mean Bo calls ya BABE ‘n I mean diff’rnt strokes fer diff’rnt folksss I’m all fer equality but I reeeeeaaally hope he don’t ‘cause yer MY boyfr’nd ‘n I—

“Okay, I get it,” you interrupt, weakly reaching over to try to grab Atsumu’s phone.

He leans back to avoid you, crooked grin on his face. “It gets better,” the setter says.

“Tsumya—”

Ya know, havvvve I ever told ya how much ya mean to me? Like really really?

That makes you pause. You look at Atsumu; that shitty grin he was wearing mere moments before is now a bit softer, eyes losing just a bit of that good-natured, annoying fire.

Like I fuckin’ LOVE ya. Like so so much. Can’t even begin ta describe how much I love ya. Yer the absolute WORST, but yer MY absolute worst ‘n”—there’s a pause in the recording as you hiccup loudly—“‘n early today, when we were talkin’ ‘bout you movin’ ‘n stuff I got SO excit’d ‘cause I thought maybe you’d be movin’ to To-ki-YOOOO ‘cause I really miss ya and I wanna be wit’ ya—”

“I get it,” you repeat, reaching over again to try to grab the phone. You’re incredibly drunk and spouting all sorts of things in the phone call you don’t remember making, but listening to it—specifically listening to you talk about him moving—is dredging up a whole mix of negative emotions you really don’t need right now. “You can turn it off, I get the point.”

Atsumu grasps your hand in his, squeezing gently. “Almost done,” he promises, then adds, “Don’tcha want to know where your shoe went off to?”

Ya know—ya know how they have those wells where you throw in money and make a wish? Well I’d wish fer ya to come live here wit’ me. ‘Mmmm really tired of long-distance, it sucks ass ‘n—well ya know WHAT, there ain’t a well in sight—but there’s a river, ‘n—‘n I got no spare change but I will sacrifice my SHOE fer ya, certainly that’s more than plenty fer my wish ta be granted, don’tcha reckon? And I oop—THERE IT GOES! Splish splash GIVE ME ‘TSUM—oh wait I kinda need my shoe, ok let me go down ‘n get it—gotta go ok love ya bye—

The voicemail cuts off with a lot of beeping and static—probably you trying to end the call while (apparently) going down to the river bank to grab your shoe. The two of you sit in silence for a long time, with Atsumu staring at you intently and you looking anywhere but him. Finally, you murmur, “Well… that explains the mud.”

“The dry cleaners were a bit concerned when I dropped off your suit earlier today,” Atsumu says, smirking, “but they said they’ll be able to take care of it just fine.”

“I don’t think I ever got my shoe back,” you say.

“Nope,” the blonde states, and then shifts the conversation. “When we were talkin’ earlier… why didn’t you tell me?”

“‘Cause I felt real dumb,” you utter, sighing. You pick at the fleece blanket covering you, hating the admission. “And I dunno, I’ve been thinkin’ about it a lot recently—our situation, us, long-distance… and just sometimes I wish it wasn’t this way.”

Sometimes. That’s a complete understatement, but you don’t bother correcting yourself. You know Atsumu knows.

“So when we were talkin’,” you continue, “I just… well, I got excited, and I jumped to conclusions.” You feel your shoulders slump just a bit.

“(Name)—”

“But I get it, ya know?” you interrupt, finally looking up at him. “Like I get why it’d be Osaka. I know that’s where the club’s based, and your career is really important—”

“You’re important, too,” Atsumu states, voice resolute and clear and completely void of any snark. “You’re important to me, (Name), and I really hope you know that.”

There’s suddenly a lump in your throat, and you don’t think it has anything to do with the shitty way you’re feeling right now.

Atsumu sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Man, you’ve left some drunk messages before, but I gotta say this one takes the cake,” he tells you, looking sidelong with a grin. “What a hot mess.”

“More emphasis on the hot, I hope?”

“Normally absolutely yes, but gotta say you smellin’ like mud and dirty river temporarily knocked off a few points,” he states, grin widening.

“Fair.”

Atsumu chuckles but then sobers up after a moment, leaning back on your couch. He stares at the ceiling, eyes contemplative. “When I woke up this mornin’ and saw I had a few missed calls from you, I didn’t think much about it,” he admits, which is also fair—as he mentioned, this is not your first drunken call. “But then I listened to your message and, well… I hopped on the first train I could catch. I just… I dunno, I just needed to see you.”

When he slips his gaze to you again, his eyes are dead serious. “I can’t move to Tokyo,” he murmurs.

“I know,” you respond back, trying to ignore the way your heart once again sinks in your chest.

“And long-distance ain’t workin’.”

The words slam into you, and you can say that it’s quite honestly the worst feeling you’ve ever experienced. Immediately you begin to shake, sluggish mind racing, trying to understand what’s going on, oh gods does he—no, please

“So let’s find a compromise,” Atsumu finishes, reaching for his phone again. “Your company now has a few branches down south, right? Maybe we could move nearby to one of them, ya know, split the difference or somethin’.”

You don’t respond and so Atsumu looks up at you curiously; when he sees tears streaming down your face, his eyes widen in shock. “(Name), what—”

You lean over despite your nausea, despite feeling weak and gross, and hug him tightly. “Don’t phrase it like that, dummy,” you utter into the crook of his neck, letting your tears of relief flow freely. “You scared me.”

Atsumu stiffens in shock before relaxing, chest rumbling as he wraps an arm around you. “Sorry,” he murmurs.

“I love you,” you say, and you hope that he understands.

He does. “I know.”

After hours of eager chatter and unspoken promises of the future, the two of you fall asleep right there, with him stretched out on the too-small couch and with you laying on his chest. Atsumu’s alarm rings around six in the morning, waking you up way too early for your liking, but you force yourself up regardless so that you can walk him to the train station. You hate that he has to leave so soon due to an afternoon practice, but you understand that this impromptu visit was squeezed into a very full and busy schedule—so as much as you want to complain, you count your blessings and let him go with a smile. It’s a smile that stays on your face for the rest of the day, and you even have it on when you go to talk to your boss Monday morning.

Two months later, your transfer to the company branch in Nara is approved. You rent a truck, say goodbye to all the wonderful friends you’ve made in Tokyo, and then you and your belongings head back down south. Atsumu meets you in Nara; when you pop out of the truck, he greets you with a “I knew you had a lot of stuff, but I didn’t realize it was this much shit.” Normally you’d have retort ready for him, but you let the remark slide as he grabs your hand, walks to you an apartment door, and says, “Welcome home.”

 

 

 

 

 

Baba and Jiji often had radically different ideas of what advice was good to give, formed from two very different perspectives on how to go about livin’ life. Growing up, you never heard them agree on any kind of guidance, which often left you a bit confused about which one you should follow (when you actually listened). But apparently there is one piece of advice they both agree on, one that you hear about during the first Christmas after you’ve moved in with Atsumu.

“I have a question for y’all,” you say, causing Jiji to look up from his crossword and Baba to lower the volume on the TV. “You guys were high school sweethearts, right?”

“Yup,” answers Baba. “Started datin’ at fourteen, got married at nineteen.”

“That’s young, isn’t it?”

“I suppose so,” responds Jiji, “especially considering Japan’s current mentality.”

“Did you ever think it was too young?” you query.

“Hmmm, did we?” Jiji asks Baba, who in response shrugs.

“Never thought about it,” responds Baba, who then looks at you with a glint in her eye. “Why the question, (Name)—is there somethin’ you wanna tell us—”

“No no,” you interrupt, wildly waving your hands about. “Just askin’—”

Baba tsks and grumbles a bit (“Here’s some advice: If that boy ever asks, you best be sure to say yes, got it? My goodness, if I were back in my twenties and not an ol’ coot—”), and it’s Jiji that answers your question with a calm laugh. “Nineteen may be young for some folks, but I think it all depends about when you meet the person you’re meant to spend your life with. For your Baba and me, that just happened a bit earlier than for most. Nothin’ wrong with it.”

“How’d you know?” you ask, frowning a bit. “How’d you know you were meant for each other?”

And then when your grandparents look at each other next, fondness very clear in their gazes, you’re suddenly struck with a sense of familiarity. “There ain’t really an answer for that,” Baba murmurs softly, smiling. “I think it’s just one of those things that if you know, you know.”

Jiji nods in agreement, smile hidden under his mustache—but you know it’s there, because the smile is reflected in the way his eyes crinkle. It’s the exact same look Atsumu always gets when you catch him looking at you.

And you find yourself smiling, too—because although their advice is kind of vague and not very helpful, it’s also crystal clear to you.

4) On Love: “If you know, you know.” – Baba and Jiji, 2016

 


 

November 2018, Kamei Arena Sendai

 

“I would like fifty of your most expensive onigiri, Samu-Samu!”

The call rings clear over all the chatter in the lobby, voice chipper and familiar. With a small smirk, Osamu looks over to the left of the stall to see you, his soon-to-be sister-in-law.

Well.

Not quite soon-to-be yet. But soon enough, Osamu supposes.

Maybe. Soon. Who knows.

“I don’t think I can make ya fifty before the game starts and keep other patrons happy, (Name),” Osamu tells you. “Plus you sure you got that kinda pocket money on hand?”

“True. I was just goin’ to put it on Tsumya’s tab, but I guess that’s a bad idea ‘cause then you’ll never get paid, huh?” A smile flits onto your face and you say, “I’ll just take five plain ones, then. Bo texted me askin’ to grab him some—guess he saw you when the boys were rollin’ in—and I reckon plain ones will be best so he doesn’t throw up all over the place like last time.”

“Good choice,” Osamu states, beginning to work on the order. You and Bokuto are good friends—in fact, it’s because of the outside hitter that you call Osamu “Samu-Samu” (inspired by Bokuto’s nickname for ‘Tsumu) and also why the athlete calls him “Myaa-sam” (which, apparently, is derived from the mya in “Tsumya”)—so you often stop by before games to grab a pre-match snack for the owl-like man, though eating so soon before an intense workout has never proved to be the best idea. “Ready for the game?” Osamu asks you. “It’ll be excitin’, that’s for sure. With Hinata’s debut, it’ll be a reunion of monsters.”

“Oh yeah. Tsumya’s been talkin’ about it for months. Guess seein’ all these familiar faces all at once is like a blast from the past, huh?” you ask, which makes Osamu chuckle. He watches as your face becomes a bit contemplative, eyes softening. “It’s got me all nostalgic-like, thinkin’ about the good ol’ days. Tsumya and I were real assholes back then, huh?”

“Well… yeah, kinda.” And Osamu would argue that Atsumu still kind of is, but then again he’s a bit biased against his twin. As for you, you’ve matured quite a bit more than your partner (after all, you are older, plus there’s that thing about girls maturing faster than boys, anyway), but you still have your moments.

You smirk. “But that being said, it’s kinda how it all started, huh? Like if I hadn’t heckled at that one game, who knows if I would’ve ever met y’all?”

It kind of feels like you’re just trying to justify your immature actions back in high school, but Osamu supposes it’s true. “Guess you got a point,” he tells you, and then asks with a grin, “You gonna heckle ‘Tsumu this time ‘round?”

“Only if he sucks,” you say, though you both know it’s not true—you haven’t heckled in years, having moved on from that part of your life long ago. You laugh, shaking your head. “Just kiddin’. It’s kind of fun and weird to think about, though.”

“Nostalgia hits weird, huh?” Osamu asks you, handing you a small bag with Bokuto’s fresh onigiri.

“It does,” you agree, smiling. You then wink. “Who needs memories after all, am I right?”

Osamu finds himself smiling at the mention of the old volleyball slogan, mind slowly drifting off as he begins to reflect. When he first met you, he wasn’t quite sure what to think of you. In fact, he may have even been a bit annoyed, as you reminded him way too much of his irritating, immature twin. But as he got to know you more, watching quietly as you and ‘Tsumu started your stupid, loudmouth hecklin’ battle or whatever it was—still to this day Osamu is not quite sure what, exactly, that was about—and then seeing it gradually morph into a very chaotic, but deep love… well, Osamu’s glad that you’re around, and he hopes that you decide to continue sticking around when ‘Tsumu pops the question. The restaurant owner thinks you’ll say yes… but then again, your relationship is for sure something special, so Osamu’s never too certain about anything with the two of you.

It also doesn’t help that his brother’s whole plan is just plain dumb. ‘Tsumu revealed everything a few months back when he was visiting. At first Osamu thought he was just coming home to see family, but turns out his primary concern was to stop by your family home to get permission to ask for your hand. Osamu remembers how the blonde practically burst into Osamu’s apartment that night, eyes wide and alight, shouting, “I got it!

And by “it,” ‘Tsumu meant not only permission, but also a ring—more specifically, your granny’s ring. According to ‘Tsumu, your grandpops had burst into tears when the setter bowed deeply, already saying yes even before the request had been spoken. “He then handed me this,” ‘Tsumu said, reaching into his pocket to fish out a very simple gold band, “and said, ‘(Name)’s Baba made me promise to give this to ya before she passed—they were really close, ya know. And I know it’s not the flashiest of rings, but she’ll haunt me from the other side if I don’t honor her wish—’”

And had ‘Tsumu left it at that, then Osamu would be completely on board, and everything would be just plain normal instead of just plain dumb. But no, of course ‘Tsumu got this stupid idea to wait and see how today’s match against the Schweiden Adlers pans out. “If we win, I’ll ask,” he told Osamu resolutely, and then when Osamu questioned what that was all about (“Didn’t Hinata’s Brazilian friend do something like that…?”), the setter added, “Well duh, where else would I have gotten the idea?”

“You know… thinkin’ back can be fun and all,” you say, pulling Osamu from his thoughts, “but I gotta admit—I’m really lookin’ forward to tomorrow.” And then you do something super strange, something that makes Osamu furrow his eyebrows: you wiggle your left hand.

Now the act of one wigglin’ one’s hand ain’t strange at all, but it’s the way you do it—almost as if you’re showing off a new piece of jewelry or somethin’. Osamu blinks a bit in surprise. Could you possibly know—no, certainly not…?

But the twin doesn’t get much time to think about it otherwise, because you turn around, beginning to walk off quickly. “Thanks for the grub, Samu-Samu,” you say over your shoulder. “See ya ‘round.”

Then you’re gone, small form disappearing into the growing crowd. And that’s when Osamu realizes you never paid.

Damn. Well, guess it’s goin’ on ‘Tsumu’s tab… the tab he never pays…

 


 

Atsumu’s feeling super upset and sour over the fact that no one laughed at his sea urchin joke to Omi-kun when you show up to make everything worse.

“I dunno what’s lamer, Tsumya—your joke, or the fact that you’re so up-in-arms about it not landin’.”

Atsumu looks up to see you looking down at him, beautiful, mischievous smirk on your face like always. Although he’s excited to see you, especially since he’s been on the road for the past few days, the setter finds himself scowling as he pulls himself up from the floor. “Aren’tcha supposed to be on my side, (Name)?” he asks.

“I always am, dear,” you tell him as you walk past, “but I also call it like it is.”

Atsumu grumbles to himself as you begin to chat with Hinata and Bokuto, the latter of whom looks completely over-the-moon at the fact you’ve gotten him onigiri (even though every time you do, he always ends up with some sort of stomach cramp in the middle of the game). Sakusa’s looking at you like you’ve got some sort of disease—but when doesn’t Omi-kun look at people like that?—and quickly slips back into the locker room after you turn and rush at him as if you’re about to give him a hug. The blonde finds himself smirking at that, and the smirk widens even further when he sees Tobio-kun looking at you with a very intense gaze, as if trying to recall where he’s seen you before. It’s been almost five years since Atsumu’s final high school Spring Interhigh, but he distinctly remembers how loud and obnoxious and disruptive you were being during the Karasuno match—though instead of being directed at Atsumu, it was aimed toward Kageyama. He wonders if the other setter will recognize you after such a long time.

Gods, you were the absolute worst a few years back. And yet Atsumu fell in love hard, and that love continues to grow even though you still have menace-like tendencies.

The box encasing your Baba’s ring suddenly feels heavy in his jacket pocket, and Atsumu swallows, abruptly feeling a bit itchy. Seeing you for some reason has got him all sorts of jittery, nerves on-edge; when you turn to look at him with a smile, it gets worse. The setter has no clue why it’s happening, really—after all, although he’s sure he’ll be asking you the question today (‘cause no way they’re going to lose), it’s not like he’s asking you now

Or, at least, that was not his plan.

But then Bokuto, after having bitten into the onigiri, speaks, and everything goes to shit.

Man, so good!” shouts the outside hitter, sighing in satisfaction. “Myaa-sam makes the best onigiri. (Name), I’m so jealous that you’re going to have a brother-in-law who owns his own restaurant! That’s like free food all the time!

If Atsumu thought that having everyone ignore his jokes was horrifying, it’s nowhere near how he suddenly feels at this present moment.

Hinata turns a bright red and looks at Bokuto, tiny squeaks of surprise emitting from his small body. “B-Bokuto-san—”

Bokuto blinks once, then twice, looking at you and then flitting his gaze over to Atsumu dumbly. “Oh, that’s not happened yet?” he asks, tone reflecting his state of utter obliviousness.

Scratch that previous thought about horrifying moments—this, almost definitively, has to be the worst. Because even if you had somehow interpreted Bokkun’s previous statement as generic (like yeah, eventually you’re gonna tie the knot, but that’s way down the road, planning on proposing anytime soon, pfffft hahaha NO), there’s absolutely no way you do now.

Atsumu watches as your mouth quivers down into an unimpressed frown, and the setter starts wondering how truly fucked he is when you say possibly the most surprising thing to date: “Not yet.”

Not yet.

NOT YET?

When you turn to look at Atsumu, walking towards him with a simple but very-telling smile, it’s then that he understands.

You know.

You. Fucking. Know.

The blonde is racking his brain for what to say—it’s all coming up blank, c’mon brain help me out—when you wrap your arms around the setter’s waist, looking up with humored eyes. “Yeah, not yet,” you repeat. “What’s that about?”

Atsumu stares at you for a very long time, eyebrows furrowed. He debates pulling the “Ain’t got a clue what you’re gettin’ at” card, but your expression makes it clear that he’s not getting away with it, so eventually he sighs, pride wounded. “How long have you known?” he murmurs sullenly.

“Not important,” you answer, and Atsumu frowns even further, feeling a little annoyed.

“Of course it’s important, (Name), it’s a huge deal to ask someone to—”

You cut him off with a very loud noise, one that’s similar to the buzzer at the end of a match. “Don’t say it,” you warn.

“What? C’mon—it’s not like I’m doin’ it no—”

Another buzzer noise. “NOPE!” you say. “Don’t do it. Utter even one word about it, and I’ll say no.”

“Wha—that—that ain’t fair!” shouts Atsumu, but stops protesting when he feels your hands tighten around his waist. There’s a huge grin on your face, and your eyes are surprisingly shiny. The setter finds that the irritation he was feeling suddenly ebbs away, and he can’t help the tiny smirk that quirks up to his own lips as he utters, this time much softer, “That ain’t fair.”

“Too damn bad,” you state, though the words hold absolutely no sharpness to them whatsoever. You move your arms to around his neck, fingers subconsciously playing with the short hair there. “I’ve never been a proper type,” you start, “and I don’t suppose that I ever will be, really. But for this—well, let’s do it proper, okay? Let’s do it for Kita-kun’s sake; let’s honor him.”

“Kita-san is still alive, (Name)…” the setter murmurs, a bit confused at the way you phrased everything. In fact, you both saw him literally two weeks ago when you were visiting home.

You ignore Atsumu’s quip. “Let’s talk after the match, okay? Regardless of if you win or lose.” You give him a pointed look.

Atsumu can’t help himself. “Okay, who told you?”

“Dunno what you’re talkin’ about—”

“Yes you do, don’t lie—”

“It’s not important how I know, Tsumya—”

“Yes it is, (Name)—”

A buzzer noise, again. “Uh-oh, we’re getting’ into shifty territory. Better change the subject.”

Atsumu sighs and relents, hands coming up to cup your face. “You’re leavin’ it like that, huh?” he asks, thumb brushing against your cheek. “Feels awfully familiar. Where have I felt somethin’ like this before—oh yeah, maybe, hmmm, I dunno—right before Spring Interhigh that one year?”

And it’s true. It’s feeling quite similar to the last time he asked you an important question—except this time around he feels no sense of that awful anticipation, strangely enough.

“I’m leavin’ it like that,” you confirm, and then laugh when Atsumu scowls. You stand on your tip-toes to hug him tightly.

Atsumu’s hands slip down to your waist, returning your hug.“You’re a menace,” he murmurs, and you laugh even harder.

“Spoiler alert: I’m gonna be your forever menace,” you say, pulling back to look at him with that dazzling smile and those beautiful eyes. And Atsumu suddenly understands why he doesn’t feel anticipatory at all.

You stand on your tip-toes again and brush your lips lightly against his. It earns noises from the Peanut Gallery (“Nice!” says Bokuto, while Hinata’s silent embarrassment is loud enough on its own, and Omi-kun, who has for some reason come back out of the locker rooms, goes “Geh”), but Atsumu finds that he doesn’t really care too much. The only person that matters right now is you.

“I fuckin’ love you, Miya Atsumu,” you say. In the almost six years you’ve been together, this is the first time you’ve said his name properly.

Atsumu is suddenly transported back to springtime of his second year in high school, when you first met. He remembers your fiery, wild expression, the crooked, condescending grin you gave him even as you were escorted away. He remembers how his irritation was boundless despite the fact that he was also intrigued; he remembers how he thought you were the absolute worst.

Atsumu suddenly smiles, and he reaches down to kiss you again. “I know,” he murmurs against your lips. “I fuckin’ know, you forever menace.”

You are still the absolute worst. But just like you told him years ago, you are his absolute worst.

And Miya Atsumu could not be any happier with that fact.