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Hecklin'

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Your first interaction with him happens to be the same day that your grandmother—your feisty, beloved, very un-tech-savvy and hard-of-hearing Baba—gets a smartphone for the first time.

“(NAME), WHAT’S THIS—WHAT’S THIS VIDEO BUTTON—I WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE BUT IT’S JUST SAYIN’ YOUR NAME—”

“Baba,” you say for the fifth time into your thirty-second conversation, “can I give you a call back, now’s not a real good—”

“I’M HAVIN’ MIGHTY TROUBLE HEARIN’ YA, DARLIN’—THERE’S A LOT OF RACKET ON YOUR END—”

Well of course there is, you think. Any sports event is bound to be loud. But an Inarizaki volleyball match, with a full-blown marching band and a rowdy, borderline aggressive cheer team… well, there’s absolutely no way to avoid ruckus.

Which is what you’re trying to explain to your grandmother, but of course that’s not going well.

“I know, I’m sorry, I’m at a game. Can I call you ba—”

“WHERE’S THE VOLUME BUTTON? OR IS THAT ON YOUR END?”

You should have known that something like this was going to happen. Baba had been sending you texts all day—or, rather, it was more like incoherent strings of syllables and handfuls of emojis that made absolutely no sense—so you had a hunch that she would give you a holler sooner or later. But of course it had to be right now, right when the match—not the first of the season, but the first you’ve been able to attend—is about to start.

There’s a bunch of beeping sounds on the end of the line; it sounds like Baba has somehow gotten onto the keypad. “WHOOPS,” she yells at you, “I’M PRESSIN’ BUTTONS! NOW HOW DO I DELETE—”

“Baba,” you try once again, “I am—”

“FIXED IT! NOW HOW DO I GET BACK—”

You scratch your head in frustration. You could hang up on your grandmother… but that’s just plain rude, and everyone in your family knows not to cross Baba. Like all the women in your family, the matriarch is strong-willed, bullheaded, and has an incredibly low threshold for bullshit. You’ve been on the receiving end of her wrath just once, when you stuck a beetle down your younger brother’s shirt about a decade back.

After that, you knew never to land yourself there ever again. So hanging up is not really a great option.

You could just leave the arena… but then you’d be giving up your spot, one that’s just perfectly behind Inarizaki’s side, one which gives you a great view of the players and all the action. It’s not like you’re super invested in volleyball, oh no. You have previously only gone to a handful of games, but now that Kita is captain, you decided at the beginning of the year that you’d try to attend more matches to show silent support. Plus your gut is telling you that something will happen this match—something good, like seeing Kita (finally) play—and you always listen to your instinct.

So leaving is also not a good option, either.

Thus puts you in your current dilemma: smack-dab in the middle of a sea of people, stuck trying to talk to a woman who’s barely listening to begin with.

The announcer begins to speak over the intercom and people start clapping as the starters’ names are announced. You press your palm to your free ear to try to block a bit of the noise out. “Can I give you a call back?” you say, now a bit louder than before. “I’m busy.”

“SORRY DEAR, WHAT? YOU GOTTA SPEAK LOUDER—”

“I said, I’m busy. Can I call back—”

“WHAT?”

“I’m—”

“YOU’RE SOUNDIN’ REAL FUZZY, (NAME)—DO YOU HAVE THE TV ON?”

The band begins to play, and although they’re in front of you, it makes it even harder to speak clearly. You turn around best you can in your seat, glaring at the girl next to you when she gives you a dirty look for knocking into her knees. “Baba—”

“IS—THAT MUSIC PLAYIN’? IS THAT COMIN’ FROM YOUR PHONE, (NAME)? HOW’D YOU DO THAT—THESE DEVICES ARE PRETTY COOL, HUH?”

No, it’s—

“WHAT?”

The music is getting louder, the crowd becoming rowdier. Your unpleasant seatmate hisses at you to get off the phone, and you debate flipping her the bird, but she’s right—now’s really not a good time for a phone call. So you switch tactics, realizing you’re not getting anywhere with your grandmother. “Baba,” you speak-shout, “can you put Jiji on the phone?” Your grandfather is a bit better with technology and has relatively sharp hearing; he should be able to help out.

"WHAT?”

Of course. The song’s melody begins to swell to a crescendo, beautiful and at the same time oh-so-irritating. You hunch down further into your seat, squeezing the phone as close as possible to your ear. “Jiji!” you shout. “Please put him on the phone!”

  “WHO WHAT NOW? YOU GOTTA SPEAK UP, (NAME)—”

Jiji! Put! On! Phone!”

The sounds around you swirl, growing louder—

“JIJI? WHAT ABOUT—”

YES! Give him the ph—”

 —and louder—

“WHAT DID YOU SAY—”

I SAID—”

 —and louder—

“WHAT?”

I—”

"(NAME)—”

—until all of the sudden the cacophony of noise is gone, replaced only by the quiet sound of a volleyball swishing in the air, just as you scream, “I SAID PUT JIJI ON THE PHONE!”

 …Oops.

The tension in the room becomes palpable when the ball hits the top of the net, wobbling in place for a split second before tumbling down into the opponent’s side of the court. The cheer squad erupts into relieved applause, hooting and hollering at the successful let serve—but of course, those around you instead turn to glare disapprovingly at your unintentional interruption. You hunch down a bit, giving a sheepish “Sorry.”

And you are sorry. That is, until you look down at the court and see the server whom you accidentally disrupted.

The first thing you notice is that he is, objectively, incredibly attractive. He is unsurprisingly quite tall, built with the lean, muscular physique typical in volleyball players. Dyed, light hair is pushed to one side, framing an angular, handsome face.

The second thing you notice is that that handsome face is marred by potentially the ugliest look you’ve ever seen on a human.

The glare he’s aiming in your general direction—it’s not quite on you, which tells you he doesn’t know who, exactly, was his (accidental) heckler—is nasty, angry, and looks as sharp as one-thousand daggers. You hear some girls squeak uncomfortably at the scrutinization, murmuring amongst themselves about how scary and intimidating he looks, oh I would never want to be the one glared at, it was from our side ugh why would anyone bother Miya-kun like that—

Yeah, his glower isn’t pretty.

It’s also incredibly unnecessary, and you find that you really don’t appreciate his attitude whatsoever.

“(Name)-chan? Ya there?”

It’s Jiji’s voice. You turn your attention to your grandpa, though you keep your eyes on the court, watching the rude setter as he sweeps his gaze one final time over the crowd before turning away. “Hi Jiji,” you mutter, aware of the volume of your voice. “Baba’s having some tech problems. Can you sort her out? I’ll give y’all a ring later; I’m a bit busy right now.”

Your grandpa says okay and hangs up. When you put the phone down you see the girl next to you smirking all haughty and smug, obviously relishing in your embarrassment. Except you’re not embarrassed whatsoever, and you honestly couldn’t care less about what any of these people think. You have half a mind to tell her off—but then you remember you’re here for Kita, and Kita would probably not take too kindly to the discord should he find out it was you who caused it (at minimum he’d fix you with one of those stares that looks straight into your soul), and so you decide to hold your tongue and be a good spectator.

And you do a great job at it… until that handsome jerk comes back around again to serve.

You don’t mean to laugh when he does that stupid fist thing, demanding absolute silence—it’s just that it’s so dumb and so unneeded that you can’t help yourself. Your raucous, mirthful laughter rings in the air long after he’s completed his service ace; because of this, he has no problems singling you out in the crowd this time.

(It also doesn’t help that the uptight girl beside you points two—not one, but two—fingers in your direction, making it oh-so-obvious that it’s not her that’s causing the problem.)

As anticipated, that glare of his is full of spite and you do feel a chill run down your spine, but joke’s on him—it’s nowhere the level of intensity as your Baba’s when she’s fixing to get angry. So instead of making you cower, that scowl just pisses you off, his self-entitlement fueling your quick temper. Everyone else seems to be doing just fine with the ambient noise—what’s this guy’s problem?

The setter turns away from you just as a small “Um, excuse me?” comes from your left. You whip your gaze to whomever is speaking; it’s a young man in his mid-twenties who instantly flinches, obviously taken aback at your ire. But he speaks regardless, saying politely, “I-If you don’t mind, we ask that you please remain silent during the serves…”

“Seriously,” your seatmate mutters under her breath.

Actually, you do mind. This is a volleyball game, for gods’ sakes—it’s not like you’re in a meditation circle or nothing. You give the guy a grunt; he takes it as a sign of your compliance and, with a small nod and sheepish smile, walks back down to wherever he was sitting.

As the game progresses, you continue to stew in your own petty juices. You keep telling yourself to just let it be, you’re here for Kita, Kita wouldn’t like it if you made a scene, do you really want to deal with Kita’s blunt lecture if you do cause one… But the more the match goes on, the more you become increasingly irritated at that stupid jerk setter’s handsome face and his stupid Needs-Absolute-Silence and his stupid glare and his stupid—

You know what, fuck it.

The third time you interrupt his serve (“HAHAHAHA!”), it’s 100% completely deliberate, and man does it feel satisfying.

This time you hold your ground as he once again spins around to fix you with a glare, never breaking eye contact even as you’re being lead towards the exit (because even though this is a free event and you’re just practicing your free speech, light heckling is apparently enough a reason for the cheer team to ask you to leave—hypocrites). A petty, challenging, triumphant grin stays on your face the whole time. Even though you know you’ve made an ass of yourself and you let your childish bullheadedness get the best of you, you can’t say that “regret” is in your arsenal of words at the moment.

And maybe it’s just a trick of the light, but you almost swear that you see the setter’s irritated scowl twitch upward just the slightest before you’re swept out of the arena.

Chapter Text

The next day, when Kita gives you that familiar ‘You-Know-What-You-Did’ gaze as he passes by your classroom in the morning, you think to yourself, Okay, maybe I do regret what I did just a little.

But you certainly don’t regret why. That guy—Mya-san or whatever those girls were squealing about—was being a big, entitled ass. Like c’mon, man—you play a sport that draws massive crowds, and the fact that you’re on a team that’s easily one of Japan’s best (at least for high school standards) is bound to attract more attention than normal. Noise is inevitable, and to think you can control it… well, that’s a personal problem.

No, the why is completely justifiable in your mind. You just wish that now you didn’t have to deal with Kita. Gods, how can one say so much with just one look—one short, cursory glance that lasts less than a second? Although you’re still sad you’ve never been in the same class together (though it makes sense, considering he always gets the best marks and you… well…), maybe right now it’s actually a blessing in disguise. You can’t imagine what’d it be like to have that gaze on you for hours, slowly having your soul depart from your body…

At break, you give a small ‘eep’ when you look up and Kita’s at your classroom door, looking at you again. You know that the talk/lecture is inevitable, but you really don’t want to deal with it right now. So instead of being a responsible youth who understands and accepts that every immature action has a consequence, you brush past your friend with a hasty “Sorry Kita-kun, bathroom—ya know, girl stuff—talk later” and scurry off down the stairs to take your break outside. It’s childish, but you never claimed to be mature or capable like him.

You decide to head down to the school courtyard, where a few vending machines—including your favorite, the juice machine—lay nestled underneath the small pavilion. As you’re perusing the many selections of drinks, a shadow suddenly looms over your form. You look up and immediately sour at who has graced your presence. Tall, handsome, light hair—but this time the scowl is replaced by a simple, easy-going smile, one that automatically sets you on edge.

Mya-san.

“Yer the one that was interruptin’ my serves the other day, weren’tcha?” he asks, voice carefree and light. When he opens his eyes to look at you, however, the easiness in his tone is not reflected. His gaze bores into your own, dark and annoyed despite that stupid smirk on his face. “It’s real rude to do something like that, ya know?”

His accent is a bit thicker than yours, giving the words a lazy, drawling quality. But you can catch the sharp implications hidden, the subtle threat underlying the casual words. And you find that you don’t quite like him talking to you like this, thank you very much.

“I’m sorry,” you say flatly, making it very clear you’re not sorry at all. You reach down and grab your juice, not breaking eye contact as you jam the plastic straw into the perforated hole. His smirk widens as you sip lazily at your drink, eyes half-lidded coolly. “The rest of your team seemed just fine with all the chatter. Is it just you that can’t handle a little distraction, hmm? Hafta have special rules for a special boy?”

He hums, a low sound resonating deep in his chest. He leans closer, ducking down to look you in the eye. “If you’re gearin’ to come to games, you really should learn to be cooperative and not a nuisance,” he murmurs softly, threateningly. He’s close enough that you can feel his breath on your skin.

If his intention is to fluster you or to intimidate you or to whatever the fuck, it doesn’t work—again, once you’ve been the subject of Baba’s wrath and lived to tell the tale, you’re basically unshakeable. (Unless it’s Kita… Kita doesn’t count.) You give a hum of your own, spinning on your heel as you turn to walk back to your building. “I am planning on comin’ to the games, thanks for asking,” you say, flashing him a lazy peace sign. “Too bad I’m not there for you in the slightest, so I don’t particularly care what‘cha think. Toodles.”

There’s a split second of silence, before—“What’s your name?”

You pause at the door, looking back. He still looks annoyed, but that same amused intrigue you thought you saw yesterday has slipped up onto his face. It’s a paradox of emotions that mix and swirl to create something very familiar to you, something that sparks and spits and crackles in those dark eyes.

Competitiveness.

The corners of your lips twitch upward as you turn back around, hiding your expression from his view. “If you really wanna know, you can do the research yourself,” you say, giving a light, noncommittal shrug that you know he’ll interpret as being antagonizing. “There’s only one of me in this school.”

He laughs now, a short, caustic burst of sound that makes your grin widen. “I do love a challenge,” he calls after you.

“I’m sure you do,” you say back, walking back inside.

 


 

And research he does.

“Oi!” your coach calls from across the end of the pool. “Third years, line up for a race! Hasegawa, Lane 1. Kubo, Lane 2…”

You shake out your limbs as you make your way to the diving blocks with a grin, pulling your goggles down securely over your eyes. The tail end of practice is always the most grueling—Coach loves to do races and relays as the last thing for the day—but it’s also your favorite part of practice. You’re definitely not the fastest swimmer on the team, but you’re up there for most aggressive, most gung-ho. Because, simply put, you hate to lose.

(You were also voted Most Salty at last year’s year-end team party, but we don’t talk about that.)

Coach calls your name last, and you make your way over to your designated spot. Lane 8 isn’t ideal since the end lanes have to deal with the most wake, but you’ll make do. From your spot—you’re the closest one to the fencing, which separates the outdoor pool from the rest of campus—you can hear the ambient chatter of other teams as they wrap up their own practices. But all of that noise is pushed aside when you step up, body folding over as you assume the starting position when Coach calls to take your marks. You stare at the still water, fingers curling around the edge of the diving block in excitement. You love this part the most—the waiting in anticipatory suspense, muscles taut, body yearning and ready to spring at any given moment into the cool waters waiting below…

Seconds of silence pass, long and drawn-out, and you begin to feel shifty. Your blood is pumping wildly with adrenaline, waiting, waiting, waiting for that sweet sound of the whistle, waiting to let your body fly into motion, you’re waiting waiting waiting—

“HAHAHA!”

The sound—sharp and loud and sudden—causes you to automatically react. And it’s then, with your body already lunging towards the water with a powerful kick off the diving block, that you realize that the sound was, in fact, not a whistle.

You break your form in an attempt to stop your movement (not like it’s going to help, though, when you’re already flying through the air), landing with a large, ungraceful splash. Suzuki-san in Lane 7 also falls into the water after being startled by your movement. You can hear the younger ones giggling on the sidelines while your fellow third years groan, standing up after the false start. You sputter as you resurface, coughing up a mouthful of water that had been accidentally swallowed in your plight. Your arms cling onto the lane divider as you reach up to pull your goggles up, looking around for the source of distraction. “What—”

And then when you see a pair of droopy, brown eyes staring down at you, you get it.

Mya-san.

The poolside immediately erupts in excited chatter as the girls begin to giggle and blush at the athlete’s presence. The boy in discussion doesn’t spare the Peanut Gallery any glances, however, instead honing in on you with a laser-sharp, amused gaze. He’s leaning up against the fence lazily, one fist curled in the metal links while the other rests in the pocket of his open jacket. His light hair ruffles with the breeze as he grins down at you, a toothy, smug grin that makes you growl. There’s a satisfied twinkle in his eyes, one that obviously comes at your expense, one that is filled with a tinge of sadistic glee at your reaction. “Can’t handle a little distraction, hmmm?” he asks you, words drawling as if asking you about the weather.

Your annoyance flares and you sputter yet again, trying to regain your metaphorical footing to tell him off, but your coach beats you to the punch. “You! Who are you?” she shouts at him, glaring at him angrily behind her glasses. “Only members of the swim teams are allowed at the pools during these hours!”

The handsome, annoying setter lifts a placating hand. “Just passin’ through,” he calls, voice cordial. “My apologies.”

He turns to leave, throwing you a nasty grin over his shoulder one last time, before sauntering off, skip in his step. You scowl, opening your mouth yet again to try to give him a piece of your mind, when—

“(Surname)! You’ve just earned yourself eight penalty laps!”

“Wha—Coach, it ain—”

“Make it twelve!”

So as the rest of your team gets to wrap up practice post-race—one that you place last in, as now you’re plain salty and just don’t bother, considering you have to do laps afterward anyway—you’re stuck by yourself, swimming your sixteen laps (more were added after your coach realized you weren’t trying anymore) and ruminating over that stupid setter, with his stupid, petty revenge and his stupid, handsome, challenging grin—

Seeing his toothy smile in your mind propels you further, and although you’re pissed, you can’t help your own amused smirk that flits onto your face.

 


 

He’s there at the vending machine again today, this time waiting for you.

You train your features into cool indifference, trying to ignore him best you can as you plunk your coins into the machine—but it’s awfully hard, considering how close he is. The confident, smug amusement practically radiates off of him, washing over you; and as much as you don’t want to admit it, you relate to how he’s feeling—it is, after all, the same sense of satisfaction you had at the volleyball game.

“Doesn’t feel too good bein’ heckled, huh?” he says to you. Again there’s that lighthearted tone with backhanded annoyance.

You ignore his commentary. “How’d you know where to find me?” you ask. “You a stalker?” Your tone mimics his own, pleasant with caustic hints underneath. You look at him, batting your eyelashes innocently.

His mouth twitches. “You told me to do some research, so I did,” he states simply. “Not real hard to do when I’m dealin’ with the vice-captain of the girls’ swim team, (Full Name).”

A grin threatens to break the mask of indifference, so you reach down to grab your juice. “Congrats,” you tell him, poking the straw through the container’s opening, “you found me. Sorry to say there’s no prize involved.”

“No prize needed,” he tells you. The boy then boldly reaches over and plucks the drink from your hands, claiming it as his own. He turns to walk away, looking over his shoulder to give you a simpering, dashing smirk. “Just wanted ya to get a good taste of yer own medicine.”

You watch him go, then—

“Mya, right?”

He pauses, tilting his head. “Miya,” he corrects, as if you care. “But yeah. One of ‘em.”

There’s more than one? How unfortunate. “Out of how many?”

“Guess you gotta do some research, huh?” is his simple response. He flashes you a peace sign and a mocking “Toodles” before the door closes behind him, leaving you alone and drink-less in the courtyard.

What an asshole, you think, but a cutthroat smile snakes its way up to your face regardless.

He said he loved a challenge.

Same can be said for you.

Chapter Text

“The Miyas?” Kita says smoothly, not bothering to look up from his notebook when you saunter into his classroom, demanding his attention. “What about them?”

“That’s what I’m asking you.”

“Your time would be better spent finishing that homework you didn’t do rather than askin’ about the Miyas,” Kita responds bluntly, gaze sliding to the math worksheets—unfinished, as he predicted—in your hands.

Kita watches as your cheeks tinge red and you stand up a bit straighter, obviously not liking the call-out. You shove the papers behind your back, as if hiding them is going to magically make him forget you’ve neglected your studies yet again. It’s been like this ever since you were first years, back when he, somehow, wound up tutoring you. Your friendship is a bit unorthodox, two opposites (usually) coexisting harmoniously… but then again, Kita always finds himself surrounded by the odd, amusing-but-also-troublesome folk. Like the Miya twins you’re inquirin’ about.

“I’ll get it done before class starts!” you protest, though you both know that won’t happen. “Can you just answer my question, please?” you ask. “You ignored me last night.”

(He did, it’s true. You texted him around seven, saying, “That setter guy is the worst, tell me about him.” When he didn’t respond, you sent another one a few hours later—this time with a plain “Kita-kun”—to which Kita responded immediately, “Good evening, (Name).”

“Why didn’t you respond to my last message?” you wrote, the saltiness evident even through text.

Kita’s reply was a simple “I had no comment.”)

“What do you want to know?” asks Kita, regarding you with sharp eyes.

“Just… I dunno. Tell me something,” you say, waving your hand about. You’re leaning against the empty desk beside him, body relaxed—but Kita can tell by the slight shiftiness to your eyes that you’re actually quite alert, eager to learn whatever information the captain can supply.

He pauses for a bit before saying, calmly, “This wouldn’t happen to be about the other day, would it?”

(You filled him in about the pool encounter last night as well, after Kita took the opportunity to finally confront you about the volleyball incident. He has a feeling you told him as perhaps a childish defense mechanism—something like “Look, he did it to me, too, it’s not just me bein’ the antagonist”—but that just gives Kita leverage to lecture Atsumu about hisbehavior, should Kita ever decide he wants to.)

“N-No,” you stammer, standing a bit straighter, “it has nothing to do with that—”

“Because if so—”

“It doesn’t, I told ya—”

“I want no part in whatever you may be cookin’ up,” finishes Kita bluntly, looking back at his notes.

“Kita-kun,” you whine. “You act like I’m plotting revenge. I’m better than that, ya know.”

(You’re not. Both of you know it.)

“I’m just askin’ because I can,” you claim, which he does believe might have some slight truth to it, too. “Is it wrong to be curious?”

When it’s you, maybe. Kita knows by now that lot of things you do usually have some ulterior motive. As a master of straightforward consistency and honest work, he really isn’t a big fan of whenever you’re up to mischief—and this instance is no exception, even though he’s still not really sure what you’re up to this time around. But with that all said, he is still your friend, and he does care about you; this occasionally leads to the very rare compliance on his end.

And today seems to be one of the those times, it seems.

Kita stares at you for a good, long minute, evaluating. Eventually he places his pencil down and folds his arms, starting, “The Miyas—a set of second-year identical twins, comprising of Osamu and Atsumu—”

Kita gives you just a very brief rundown, only highlighting facts. It may be mundane, but he thinks it’s important to keep things relatively neutral, to let others form their own opinions. Both Miyas are talented volleyball players, having played since elementary school; Atsumu’s favorite food is fatty tuna while Kita isn’t too sure about Osamu’s (the captain ignores the look you give him, one that clearly states why do I need to know this); both are quite competitive and hate to lose… especially Atsumu.

Kita doesn’t miss the smirk that quivers up onto your lips when he mentions that last bit. There’s a small spark of challenge in the depths of your eyes, a tiny ember that flickers and sputters to life the more Kita goes on.

It’s the same look Atsumu had when he asked about you the other day, when the blonde setter overheard Aran asking Kita, “Was that (Name)-san yelling at the match last week…?”

Kita finds himself frowning just a bit. It’s not his business and he has no intention of it becoming such, but it is a bit unsettling that two of the most stubborn, hardheaded, slightly chaotic people he knows have both developed an interest in one another simultaneously.

Maybe he should have seen this coming. Although Atsumu was clearly annoyed by your heckling (something Osamu called him out on after the third instance—“You’re bein’ real lame, ‘Tsumu, lettin’ a girl get to you like that so much”—to which Atsumu, with his poor comeback skills, merely shouted, “Shut it, ‘Samu!”), Kita did notice that there was a very slight, amused grin on the setter’s face. And then, days later, he asks about you—and now you’re asking about him.

But again, it’s not Kita’s business.

When you turn to leave his classroom, though, Kita decides it might be good to leave you with a bit of wisdom. “Just remember, (Name),” he says, picking his pencil back up again, “you know what they say—curiosity kills the cat.”

The smile you give him is nothing short of cunning, overflowing with mischief. “Well good thing we’re foxes then, huh?”

Kita guesses this is true.

Yes, just a bit unsettling.

 


 

“Mya Atsumu-san.”

The call makes Atsumu look up in brief surprise as opens the door to enter the courtyard. It’s a place he rarely spent time in during his first year—he only used to accompany ‘Samu to swipe a bite of his grub, something his gray-haired twin hated—but for the past bit he’s noticed he’s been spending a lot of his breaks here now. It’s a quaint little area, and he supposes he quite likes it.

The company sure has been interesting, too.

Immediately his eyes lock onto your form, you who leans against the vending machine as if you own it. You’re a tiny girl, but that doesn’t stop you from exuding this attitude—this confident, no-bullshit, annoying, irritating, insufferable, impressive attitude—

Atsumu finds himself smirking crookedly. In a few short strides he’s at the juice machine himself, leaning against the other side. It would be very easy to look down at you, almost patronizingly so—but despite the large height difference, you match his gaze evenly, stubbornly. How cute, he thinks with a sneer.

“Miya,” Atsumu corrects, “(Full Name)-san.”

“Mya Atsumu-san,” you say incorrectly again, smiling sweetly, “setter of our boys’ volleyball team who can’t handle a little noise when he’s servin’.”

“(Full Name)-san, vice-captain of our girls’ swim team who also can’t handle a little noise when she’s swimmin’.” He also gives you an innocent smile, one that’s just as nasty as your own.

He delights when he sees your jaw tick, the only indication that he’s struck a nerve.

It’s well-known that Atsumu does not tolerate noise when he’s serving. Everyone knows and respects that. Serving is all about a mastery of concentration and control; from a practical standpoint, it makes sense to have absolute silence. ‘Samu likes to call him a show-off, but ‘Samu’s not the one who has the master serves, now does he?

Sure, Atsumu’s been interrupted a few times before; after he sends those people a glare, though, they learn their lesson real quick and never do it again. But you… you just did not care in the slightest. He’s almost certain it was you the first time, too, with the whole puttin’ your grandpops on the phone or whatever. That time certainly may have been a mistake, but the other two times, with your annoying, tinkling laugh… that had to be deliberate.

And Atsumu hates to say that you—the stubborn loudmouth who had the audacity to actually grin condescendingly as you were escorted out—intrigue him. He didn’t realize it at first. It was only after Suna told him Kita was staring again during the courtside switch that Atsumu, who turned away to avoid the captain’s scrutiny, smirk slipping from his face, realized he had been smirking in the first place.

Atsumu wouldn’t consider himself a petty person, so he really isn’t sure why he felt compelled to stroll over to the swimming pools that one day after Kita gave him a brief rundown of who you are (third year, competitive vice-captain of the swimming team, favorite food is zaru soba—why Kita told him this, he’s not sure). But when that coach called your name and you got up on that swimming alter thing, he just… felt the urge to antagonize you a bit.

Some may call it petty, some may call it justified—as always, Atsumu couldn’t care less what other people think. All he knows is that when you looked up at him with those wild, challenging, beautiful eyes, he felt a slight giddiness, a small rush of adrenaline that he only gets with things that fascinate him.

“Heard you got a penalty for jumpin’ in too early,” Atsumu says. “My apologies for the distraction.”

(He’s not really.)

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” you say, waving your hand. “Distractions are welcome—they strengthen mental fortitude. That way, I don’t have to worry about bein’ a scrub and relyin’ on controlling my environment so much.” As you pull out your coin purse, you give him a sugary sweet, borderline tooth-rotting smile.

Gods, you’re shady.

It pisses him off.

(At the same time, he can’t help but love it.)

“Is that so?” Atsumu asks you. “Sounds a bit like a challenge, don’t it?”

“Does it?” you query lightly, reaching down to grab your juice. You puncture the opening with your straw, taking a swig. Feisty (color) eyes stare at him through a thick layer of lashes.

Atsumu reaches over to grab your drink, deliberately knocking his hand into yours. He takes a sip, not breaking eye contact; he swears that the fire in your eyes intensifies. “If it is,” he murmurs, leaning towards you more, “you should know I don’t like to lose.”

You lean towards him in response, head tilted up so you can see him clearly. You’re only inches away from his form, dangerously close. Your hand comes up to reclaim your juice, fingers brushing against his own in the process. The touch sends tiny, lingering electric shocks through Atsumu’s hands.

“Good,” you say with a smirk, “because neither do I.”

Chapter Text

And thus you find yourself in a completely unnecessary, childish, dumb—but thrilling, absorbing, and entirely intoxicating—battle with Miya Atsumu.

At first you don’t make any extra effort to bother him, only doing so when the opportunity arises—such as at sporting events. You still attend matches to support Kita (because you’re not there because of Atsumu, no not at all), and just laugh deliberately whenever Atsumu chooses to be a big, sensitive baby about the noise. It’s not every game—sometimes you decide to stay quiet; sometimes you just laugh once and then Kita effectively shuts you up with one of his soul-sucking gazes; sometimes you decide to laugh whenever Atsumu messes up in general (which is not very often, you have to admit); sometimes you’re not even there at all.

(When he, at one of your courtyard rendezvous that keep happening for some reason, makes a backhanded comment about it—“Is your lack of consistency just ‘cause you can’t keep up?” he asks with a smirk—you tell him, “I prefer to add a bit of variety in my routine. Gotta keep things fresh and fun for you, Mya-san.”)

On his end of things, Atsumu occasionally passes by at the tail end of your practices, though he doesn’t stay long due to your coach yelling at him to let her swimmers be. It becomes very apparent that his mere presence alone is distracting for a lot of the girls, particularly the younger ones; when he passes by, dark gaze always locking onto you with a grin, they get all flustered, giggling amongst themselves about how cool it is that an “idol” (because they actually call him that, bleh) is here, oh he’s so handsome, did you see how cool he looked at last week’s match, he sure seems to give (Name)-san a lot of attention, man she’s so lucky—

(And although it is 100% not your fault, Coach always yells at you for his presence. “(Surname), tell your boyfriend to quit showing up, for gods’ sakes—”

“He’s not my boyfriend, Co—”

“I don’t care, just tell him to stop! Also give me eight laps; I saw you gawking as well. I expect this from the younger ones, but you should know better!”

How is this fair?! you think as you, for the third time that week, swim penalty laps. Also you were totally not staring… you were just waiting to see when he’d open his dumb mouth to be annoying.

“Hecklin’ ain’t always about sayin’ stuff, ya know,” he tells you later, giving you a shit-eating grin from ear to ear. “Gotta keep things fresh and fun, don’t I?”)

 

Days turn into weeks, and somehow you find yourself at some of the volleyball practices. It’s not a conscious decision; just one day you’re sitting at your school desk, not thinking about much in particular, when a stupid twin crosses your mind… and then, next you know it, you’re standing at the entrance to the gymnasium, peeking in. It’s just because you’re curious, is all. But when one of the players—a dark-haired fellow with a deadpan look and droopy eyes—sees you and nudges Atsumu, you quickly zip away.

You’re back again within a few days, though—again, just curious—and are absolutely mortified when you laugh loudly at Atsumu while he’s serving… only, when the server turns to look at you with a curious expression, you realize that it’s the other Miya.

(Atsumu cackles at your blunder, one hand clutching his stomach, and continues laughing until you hear Kita say a bit too calmly, “That reminds me, Atsumu, the other day (Name) mentioned the pool incident to me—”)

The day after when you’re apologizing to the gray-haired twin, you’re surprised to find that he is actually very nice and understanding. While you’re wondering how this one ended up so kind and Atsumu ended up being… well, Atsumu… he goes, “You’re (Surname), right?”

“Ah, yeah,” you murmur, a bit taken aback. “How’d ya know?”

He smiles a gentle grin that has a tinge of knowing mischief. “‘Tsumu’s been talkin’ ‘bout you,” he responds, and leaves it at that.

 

Eventually, Atsumu finds his way to some of your swim meets. It’s not often, but when you do see him in the stands, he’s watching you with a molten gaze. He never says anything—you’re not sure if it’s because he’s actually being considerate to your fellow teammates, or if perhaps he realizes that verbal heckling is a bit harder to do with swimming—and in a way, it’s way more unnerving. You can feel his gaze on your back, watching with an intensity that you seldom see in other folk, and that makes you jumpy, on-edge. You’ve come close to a few false starts because of it; luckily you’ve managed to avoid them so far… but it’s been too close for comfort.

(“Nervous, were we?” the blonde asks you one day after a meet, meandering over while you’re toweling off. His gaze sweeps over your form, sharp and observant despite the easy-going smile on his face.

You give him a tooth-rotting smile back, ignoring how your body suddenly feels much hotter. “How’d your little chat with Kita-kun about the pool thing go the other day?” you ask, smirking when Atsumu suddenly ‘urps’ and stands a bit straighter.)

 

At volleyball matches, you quickly become known as The Heckler. None of the players sans Atsumu seem to really be super bothered by your antics (some, like Kita, seem completely exasperated and others, like Atsumu’s twin, seem amused), but the same can’t be said for the Cheer Team. Gods, it’s high school, people! It’s not pro! Lighten up, take a chill pill!

(At one particular match, after being told yet again to please be quiet, you decide to express your opinions out loud. To be frank, you’re plain sick and tired of being told what to do, especially when what they’re asking for is quite impossible—like really? Absolute silence? Why don’t you pull that stick out of your ass first and then we’ll talk?

At the next game you’re told you’re no longer allowed into the arena, which makes you both giggle and pissed off. To think you’ve gotten banned from volleyball matches because you’re loud… You’re not too sure if that’s an achievement, or just plain sad.)

You’re still thinking about it all and have come to the conclusion that being suspended is, actually, just plain sad when, at 1 a.m., your phone dings just as you’re about to drift off to sleep:

Unknown: heard you got banned
Unknown: you suck hahahahaaa

You don’t know how he’s gotten your number, nor do you know why he’s texting you so late at night. All you know is that when you respond back with a middle finger emoji and save his contact info with a bleary grin, the battle has transcended past just being isolated to matches, practices, and meets.

And, strangely, you’re okay with it.

 

Although it’s safe to say that you definitely had the upper hand in the contest previously, the playing field gets a bit more even when you find yourself hanging around Atsumu more outside of school. You don’t know how this came about, really; late towards the end of one day you just happened to run into each other at the clubhouses, and then the next thing you know you’re sitting across from each other at your favorite ramen shack, with him laughing loudly at you when you almost choke from eating too fast.

It’s at this same ramen shop a few weeks later, about two months since you’ve first met him, that you say, “I thought of a nickname for you.”

“‘Kay,” he mutters through a mouthful of food.

“Tsumya,” you announce, smirking widely when he looks at you blandly.

“That’s the dumbest fuckin’ thing I’ve ever heard,” he deadpans, but you see the amusement in his eyes.

“I don’t fuckin’ care,” you retort with a smirk, though the bubbly feeling in your chest tells you otherwise.

(From that point on you begin to call him Tsumya, and Atsumu drops all honorifics and begins to call you (Name). Although he seemed relatively unimpressed (if not slightly annoyed, which was your goal) by the new name at first, he doesn’t seem too bothered anymore—in fact, sometimes it almost looks like the setter is smiling when you call him by it. Certainly that’s just a trick of the light.

You also find that you’re strangely not bothered by his sudden change in formality. Sure it’s quite intimate and normally you only allow those closest to you to call you by your first name, but you’ll let this one slide because obviously Atsumu is a scrub and not creative enough to use his brain. That’s the only reason.)

 

 

Three weeks later, in fact, Atsumu tells your Baba your new nickname for him when she finally succeeds in FaceTiming you.

(Name), I figured this thing out!” she yells at you. And it seems as though she has, although all you can see is a tuft of hair—looks like she’s holding the phone to her ear like a normal phone call.

“Baba, you gotta hold your phone away from your face so I can see you,” you say. Atsumu, who is sitting beside you on the park bench, looks over curiously, face dangerously (and deliberately, based on his smirk) close to your own. You try to nudge him away, but he refuses to budge. In fact, he scoots closer, his own body now visible in the camera view.

And of course Baba immediately locks onto that when she adjusts the phone, face lighting up when she sees Atsumu. “(Name)! You didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend!” she shouts.

Your face flushes. “N-No, Bab—”

"Oh he’s mighty handsome, look at that face, oh my goodness, what’s yer name—”

 Atsumu plucks the phone from your hand, jumping up from the bench when you lunge for him. “Pleased to meet yer acquaintance, (Surname)-obaasan,” he says cheerfully, smirking devilishly at you as you try in vain to steal the device back. “Name’s Miya Atsumu, or as (Name) calls me, Tsumya—”

He holds your phone above his head, deliberately way out of your reach. This doesn’t stop you from jumping incessantly, trying to avoid him from stirring the pot even more. After the fifth hop, however, the blonde apparently gets tired of your bouncin’ around; an arm swiftly snakes its way around your waist, pulling you flush against the setter’s fit body. You’re so shocked that you stop dead. For a split second all you can feel are his fingers pressing against your hip bone, hear his heart hammering in his chest—or is that yours?—feel how your body fits rather perfectly against his own—

She already has a nickname for ya, how cute! I remember that stage of love—though she could have come up with somethin’ a bit less dumb soundin’, don’t you reckon? Now tell me, young man, is that blonde color of yers natural, this ole coot is fixin’ for a new hair color—like hell I’ll be caught with white like a granny. I’m thinkin’ I’d look mighty fine with somethin’ like that—”

 Baba’s voice snaps you straight back to reality. You begin to squirm, fighting back yet again—but you can’t help noticing that your protests are not nearly as lively nor vigorous as before.

(When your grandmother finally hangs up and Atsumu grins down at you, you scowl and say, “You fuckin’ suck.”

“I don’t fuckin’ care,” he responds airily, though the lightness of his response is not expressed in his eyes. They are suddenly darker, those pretty brown eyes of his; his pupils are dilated surprisingly large despite the bright sun, sucking you in as he holds your gaze and you his. You swear his fingers tighten a bit on your waist before he lets go and finally pulls away, tossing your phone at you with a “Catch.”)

 

 

Obviously such a color of hair is not, in fact, natural. About a week after that liar made it seem like you were dating (a point that your grandmother now keeps bringing up, which is what you were trying to avoid, thanks very much), you laugh loudly at him when his dark roots begin to peek through the golden blonde.

He asks you to accompany him to the pharmacy as he goes to buy more dye one evening, and you agree—but only because Baba seemed so interested in his hair color, so of course you have to be a good granddaughter, yes that’s what it is, there’s no other reason. Actually, you don’t even know why he asked you along in the first place, nor does he offer any sort of answer either—he just chuckles lightly when you ask, saying, “Not everythin’ has to be suspicious, ya know.”

And you guess this is true. Still, you feel a bit jittery as you walk with him—must be just because you’re subconsciously expecting him to do something, yeah, that’s it—and you don’t provide any real help at the pharmacy, either. You’re trying to sneak a box of dye labeled ‘Ruby Red’ into his basket when he asks you suddenly, “Do you dye your hair?”

This catches you off-guard just a bit. “Ah, no,” you murmur, a bit softly. You touch your ponytail, pursing your lips. “It’s already so damaged… you know, from the chlorine…”

Although you wear a cap now that you’re in competitive swimming, younger you was rowdy and stupid and notorious for swimming with locks wild and free; couple that with just poor haircare, and now you’re paying the price. It’s a lot better now that you have learnt from your mistakes—the new hair growth at the top of your head is healthy, but the rest of it is frizzy, dry, and straw-like. You’re not really an insecure person when it comes to your looks (if you’re honest, you think you’re fine as hell), but your hair is the one thing you do have a bit of trouble with. You’ve debated more than just a few times about chopping it all off; but, well… easier said than done.

You’re so lost in thought that you don’t realize Atsumu’s come to stand in front of you until a hand comes to run itself gently through your hair. You blink and look up at him, head craning up to see his face. He’s looking at the locks that he’s twirling in his deft fingers, face contemplative. The blonde hums quietly to himself and then shifts his eyes to you. Your body suddenly feels strangely hot when he murmurs sincerely, “Still looks good. I think you should wear it down more often.”

(“Though it’d look much better if you just shaved it all off,” he then says, lazy, annoying grin breaking whatever spell he cast. “I’ll even help ya with it; we can use my clippers—”

For that comment, you sneakily and successfully swap his normal blonde dye with a midnight blue, something he apparently somehow doesn’t notice until he gets back home. You receive a few upset texts later that night:

tsumya: (name) wtf
tsumya has sent an attachment. Press to download.

At first you laugh loudly, thinking that he accidentally already put the dye in his hair—but no, it’s just a picture of the box. Damn.

tsumya: you see this? i dunno about you but that don’t look blonde
tsumya: when did you swap this
tsumya: hair dye is NONREFUNDABLE and NONRETURNABLE
You: uh-oh. guess you just gotta bite the bullet and go Mesmerizing Midnight Blue then
tsumya: you owe me 3500 fuckin yen
You: ur not getting my fuckin money

You hesitate just a split second before adding:

You: just go natural then
You: i think it’d look good

Atsumu doesn’t dye his hair for two more weeks after that. You wonder if he hasn’t gotten around to it yet because he’s busy or something, but the day after you call him a pudding cup, he comes in with a fresh set of dyed locks. You’re kind of disappointed if you’re honest.

On your end, you find yourself wearing your hair down more—but that’s only because your head was starting to hurt from the constant ponytail.)

 

 

You’re still banned by the Cheer Team from attending games, and other than that one successful attempt at sneaking into the stadium in mid-May (though with that you were swiftly found and kicked out yet again after shouting “Don’t be a scrub and suck!” right before Atsumu went to serve—“I was givin’ him sound advice, I wasn’t hecklin’!” you protested when you were asked to leave), you have indeed abode by their stupid rules and stayed away. It’s annoying and you still think these people need to pull the sticks out of their asses, but you know you’ve been a bit much in the past. You also reckon that if you’re good and lawful, they’ll relax and let you come watch the games that really matter—that is, the ones that lead up to the Interhigh in August.

Except it doesn’t happen. Because even though you’re being a goody-two-shoes, your request to have your dumb ban lifted so you can watch the Interhigh Qualifiers in-person is denied by the three-man Cheer Committee. It pisses you off that this trio—the second-year marching band drum major, the third-year class president, and the Miya Twins Fanclub’s president (also, an official Fanclub? Gods have mercy)—isn’t being considerate at all. You start telling them such when Class President Watanabe-san raises a hand, cutting you off.

“It’s not that we’re inconsiderate, (Surname)-san,” she tells you sternly, “it’s that you are inconsiderate to the athletes. Your heckling is disruptive and honestly quite rude. We take Inarizaki’s success very seriously, and you are jeopardizing that success. Unless we hear from the players specifying otherwise, you are not allowed to attend.” She gives you a dry smile as she murmurs, “If it helps, all games are usually televised. You can find them on Channel 26.”

“Channel 26 my ass,” you grumble sourly to Kita the day after your confrontation, kicking rocks as the two of you walk home together. “As if they can tell me what to do—I might as well sneak in again since obviously followin’ their rules isn’t working—”

“Don’t,” Kita tells you suddenly, which makes you stumble. You look at your friend in shock; he stares back, eyes not unkind but also not gentle either.

“What?”

“Don’t come,” Kita repeats. Your mouth opens in surprise. The hurt is obviously reflected in your eyes because he softens just a tiny bit, sighing softly as he elaborates, “They have a point, (Name)—I know you’re doin’ it just to rile up Atsumu, but at this point it’s just an improper nuisance both on and off the court.”

As always, his words are straight to the point, lacking any sugar-coating. They sting more than you wish to admit, and you want to ask him about that last bit—both on and off the court?—but he ends the conversation with a light pat to the shoulder, stating, “Channel 26 has the best quality streams. You’ll be able to see the games just fine, if not better than in-person.”

Kita’s words stick with you for the rest of the week, and on the first weekend of the Qualifiers, you and your wounded pride watch the games from afar. Watanabe-san and Kita are both correct—Channel 26 is streaming, and they are pretty decent quality—but there’s a dull throb in your chest as you sit in your living room alone, connected yet so far away. You know it’s technically your fault you’re in this mess and therefore you really shouldn’t be feeling sorry for yourself… but still…

"—it’s that you are inconsiderate—"

" —your heckling is disruptive and honestly quite rude—”

“—it’s just a nuisance—”

 Disruptive. Rude. Inconsiderate.

Nuisance.

 …Are you really that bad?

When Atsumu comes up to serve for the first time and does his stupid I DEMAND SILENCE thing that he always does, you can’t help the sad smile that flits to your face. “Dummy,” you murmur softly, watching as his beautiful serve arcs effortlessly over the net to score his first (and definitely not last) service ace of the game.

(You look down at your phone when the camera zooms onto Atsumu’s handsome, grinning face, the ache in your heart suddenly surging painfully. As such, you miss how the blonde’s gaze shifts to the stands, eyes flickering as he searches the cheering crowd.)

 

 

“Didya miss the games over the weekend?” asks Atsumu the following Monday at school. It comes as a shock to absolutely no one that the team dominated, securing their spot in the final rounds this coming weekend. The setter looks towards you curiously, leaning against the table casually.

“Ah, no…” you respond, hand curling a little tighter around your drink. You purse your lips, opting to stare at that tiny dent in the table rather than at him. “I watched them on the TV.”

There’s a split second of silence before Atsumu snorts, laughing at you. Now you flit your eyes up to him, frowning. The blonde is smirking broadly, eyes mirthful and amused. “Wow, you’re still banned?” he asks you. “Lame. That’s a new level of scrub for ya.”

You’re sure Atsumu is expecting you to scowl and retort like normal… but this time around his words strike a different kind of chord within you, and you remain silent. The athlete’s chuckling quickly dies away when he realizes something’s up; you feel his eyes on you, suddenly very attentive.

“Hey, Tsumya…” you start, swallowing thickly. That pang in your chest is back again, uncomfortable and unyielding. “Do you… do you think I’m a nuisance…?” The words are tentative and soft, uncharacteristically so.

The answer is immediate. “Duh.”

You’re not quite sure what kind of answer you were anticipating, but it sure wasn’t that. You sputter, anger flaring because eXcUsE mE—but when you look at Atsumu again, you see that his grin is toothy and mischievous, completely void of any ill-will. “You’re fuckin’ rude,” you growl.

“I don’t fuckin’ care,” responds Atsumu. “You’re a menace.”

You reach over to punch him in the arm. And even though you’re unsuccessful—Atsumu easily catches your fist, large hand engulfing your own and refusing to let go—you can’t help the small smile that comes to your face. The ache slowly dissipates into nothingness, leaving you feeling whole and normal and happy with the knowledge that you’re not actually a nuisance to the one person who really matters in this situation.

 

A few days later the Cheer Committee summons you to their quarters, a.k.a. the Miya Twins Fanclub’s meeting room—a tiny closet on the second floor. You’re immediately on the defensive, eyes narrowed and arms crossed as you stand in front of them, because if they’re expectin’ an apology or whatever they’re in for a sorry surprise—

Watanabe-san speaks. “After careful consideration, the Cheer Committee has decided to forego your suspension. Congratulations,” she says, though her tone doesn’t sound very congratulatory. “We hope that you will be a cooperative and quiet spectator should you join us for the semi-finals and onward this weekend—”

“Wait,” you interrupt her, shocked. “You serious?”

“Unfortunately so,” Fanclub President Yasuba-san drawls, annoyed. She seems the most upset out of the trio, lips turned downward in a very unflattering scowl.

“Oh… cool,” you state, surprised. “Why?”

“Does it really matter—”

“I mean, kinda, considerin’ how you completely turned down my nicely-worded letter and now all of the sudden you’re switchin’ gears—”

Drum major Ichikawa-kun answers. “We’ve gotten confirmation from the volleyball team that you’re okay to attend,” he states, rubbing the back of his head, “though I guess it was just one member, not the whole team…”

Huh. It’s not like Kita to go out of his way like this, but you guess you can’t complain. “So what did Kita-kun say to y’all to change your—”

“Actually,” cuts in Watanabe-san, “it was Miya-san.”

Huh. That’s also weird, but okay. “So what did Osamu-kun say—”

Other Miya, (Surname),” huffs Yasuba-san with a narrowed gaze. “Atsumu-kun.”

...Huh.

(Yasuba-san scowls even further at your large smile, kicking the desk lightly once you leave. “I hate it,” she growls.

“Jealousy is unbecoming of you, Yasuba-chan,” murmurs Watanabe-san.

Whatever. Ugh, this makes me sick—how is it her of all people that Atsumu-kun—”)

 

You attend both days of finals, smirking smugly at the spectators that do a double-take at your presence. There’s no heckling this time around, however—instead of being here as The Heckler you’re just here as (Name), a dumb loudmouth who cheers so loudly when Atsumu’s set to Osamu scores the winning match point of the Finals that her voice becomes raspy.

After the closing ceremony you rush to find the team. Osamu sees you first; he smiles and says your name, catching his twin’s attention. The grin on Atsumu’s face is nothing short of brilliant as he breaks off from the group, coming to stand in front of you.

“Look what the cat dragged in,” he greets. “Wasn’t too sure if you were here; couldn’t hear yer annoying-ass hecklin’.”

“Hecklin’ ain’t always about sayin’ stuff, ya know,” you say, quoting him from months before. Atsumu laughs at that, and the sound rings in your ears long after he’s stopped.

“Ya know, I was kinda gettin’ used to it,” he tells you.

“How can you when this is the first game I’ve been to in months?” you quip back.

“True. How lame of you to be banned. How scrubby.”

“You should really use your pea brain and expand your vocab, Tsumya. I’m gettin’ real bored of the same insults over and over. LAME, you SCRUB!

“I—my insults are—shut up!”

“HAHAHA—”

You’re too enraptured with Atsumu to notice that Suna has taken out his phone to record your antics, nor do you catch the way Kita stands there quietly, watching and absorbing everything with sharp focus. The captain sighs when Atsumu slaps his hand over your mouth, the setter laughing loudly when you make a face (“EW, Tsumya—your hand’s all sweaty and salty!” you shout at him, which he retorts, “I just played two matches straight in a row, what do ya expect—”).

“There’s not a single thing proper about this,” Kita mutters to himself, shaking his head as he descends the stairs to the locker room.

Chapter Text

“You like him.”

Kita understands that this statement might be a bit jarring for you, but he goes about saying it anyway. It’s also a sentence that might be considered completely out of the blue—just seconds before he was yet again explaining to you what Question Five on your science homework was asking for—but based on the way you choke on some rice after inhaling sharply, it is also a declaration that is indeed correct.

The volleyball captain tries to hand you your water bottle but you ignore him, pounding wildly on your chest. “Ex… excuse me?” you wheeze, voice accusatory although he’s not said anything wrong.

“Atsumu,” Kita says in response, calmly nibbling at his own lunch.

“Where’d you come up with that idea?” you ask. By the way you’re frowning and how your eyebrows are set in a deep furrow, it’s safe to say you’re upset. But Kita catches the subtle cues that hint otherwise: the way your pupils are suddenly dilated; the tinge of pink on your cheeks; the way you purse your lips together just a bit tighter in order to quell the smile that’s threatening to bloom on your face.

Kita watches you, gaze making it very clear he doesn’t believe your silent protests. You huff and then proceed to shove a bunch of food in your face at a pace that cannot be healthy nor safe. “Yrf crayfz,” you declare around a mouthful of food. He, somehow, knows this translates to “You’re crazy.”

“I don’t understand the point of denying things,” he tells you—not to be rude or condescending, of course, but because he really doesn’t.

“Ain’t denyin’ nothin’.”

“Yet you are avoiding the question.”

“You didn’t ask a question, Kita-kun.”

“I suppose that’s true,” he says, and leaves it at that.

There’s a lull in conversation. Kita looks over at your unfinished homework again, his mind already moving on. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s perfectly fine by him; he’s content to let it be and converse about other topics—or stay in silence, as that’s also a viable option—but apparently you’re not done, as you say after a moment, “There’s nothin’ to deny.”

“Okay” is his simple answer, because really—okay.

“Honestly,” you assert, eyes glinting.

And again: “Okay.”

He can tell that his nonchalant responses are ruffling your feathers. “So—so this is me saying I don’t like Tsu—that guy!”

“All right.” Kita adds a bit of flair this time, a different word with the exact same connotation.

“Kita-kun, I’m bein’ serious, I don’t—”

“Then why are you insistent on denyin’ so much if there’s nothin’ to deny?” Kita interrupts, fixing you with a knowing gaze. And by the way you huff and deflect by stuffing your face with food yet again, he knows that you know you’re caught in a trap.

(At least this time when you choke again and he hands you your water bottle, you take it.)

Your denial about denying just proves that there is, indeed, something to deny. Kita finds himself sighing, just the slightest bit exasperated by it all. It’s all improper.

Now the concept of what’s “proper” or “improper”—what’s correct or incorrect—can be quite subjective. If you ask two people the exact same question—let’s take “What is the proper way to wear a uniform jacket?” for instance—one person may say to put your arms through the sleeves while another, like Kita, may say it’s just fine to drape it over your shoulders. Both ways are fine, but everyone has their own opinions on what is the best way to go about things. Kita, for instance, hates static shocks, so of course he’s not going to put his arms through his sleeves. And if one think that’s improper, okay—that’s one’s opinion.

So how you’re going about with Atsumu—that is, badgering and heckling like a child when they’re trying to convey “I like you!”—is not necessarily improper, but that doesn’t stop Kita from thinking it is.

(It’s the same for Atsumu, really. Kita thinks back to last week’s practice. He isn’t sure Atsumu is aware of it, but the setter brings you up frequently—and by that, Kita means a lot. It’s a normal, subconscious reaction when something is constantly on one’s mind… but that doesn’t stop it from bothering others when they’re tired of hearing the same thing for the umpteenth time. Kita overheard someone say that Suna has a tally on his phone of how many times your name is brought up in the span of one practice, but the captain doesn’t know too much about that.

Atsumu’s constant chattering about you has, unsurprisingly, been grating on a lot of nerves, particularly Aran’s. The wing spiker already has a general low tolerance for the Miya twin’s antics, and apparently this is no exception. Aran was looking particularly annoyed after your name was brought up for a third time—Kita counted this time around—and then, when you were mentioned yet again for a fourth time, and Osamu decided to announce quite loudly with a grin, “‘Tsumu’s sweet on her.”

Surprisingly, the blonde didn’t fight. “So?” he queried back, defensive and smarmy at the same time.

“So do something about it instead of yappin’ incessantly all the time!” snapped Aran. “I swear, you’ve ruined the name (Name) for me—”

“That—there ain’t nothin’ to be done!” Atsumu shouted back, partly because he lacks the quick wit for comebacks, and also in part because he’s going about this all improper.)

“You should do things more properly,” says Kita. It’s not an ultimatum by any means and he knows that you’re just going to do whatever you want, but as your friend he feels the need to pass along some supportive advice anyway.

And, as your friend, he should have also predicted that you would say what you do next: “Nothing proper to be done, ‘cause there’s nothin’ to be proper about.”

You’re stubborn, hard-headed, and hate to be told you’re doing things wrong.

In a way, it makes sense why Atsumu would like someone like you—and you him.

(What would be the antonym for “Opposites attract”—“Great minds think alike”? But Kita can't in good conscious really say that your mind nor Atsumu’s is great…)

Kita guesses he could elaborate further, but again—if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s perfectly fine by him. And judging by the sulky frown on your face and the way you look out the window, oddly quiet, this conversation has indeed come to a close.

So the captain merely stares at you for a bit, observing, before a tiny smirk makes its way up to his face. “Okay.”

 


 

Today is one of Inarizaki’s most important swim meets of the season—not necessarily because it’s the biggest nor the one with the highest stakes, but because your rivals from Koyote Academy are here, which of course means that there’s no room for failure.

The weather is quite nice—a sunny, hot, humid day in mid-July that makes you even more eager to jump into the pool—and the crowd is lively and responsive. So far everyone on your team has been doing exceeding well (you acquit it to your pep talk in the changing room—“We ain’t scrubs, so we aren’t gonna suck!”), and you’re eager to add to that success. Unfortunately the one event you’re participating in—the 100 meter freestyle—is the last one of the day, which means that you’ve been chomping at the bit the whole afternoon. What’s worse is that you were placed in the last heat, meaning your race is literally the very last thing.

At least the swim captain from Koyote Academy is in your race, too; and what’s more, she was assigned the lane right next to yours. You’re going against the strongest swimmer from your rival school—what luck! You can’t wait to leave her in your wake, can’t wait to be the one to cap off a very successful day with that final win—

“You like him.”

  “—why are you insistent on denyin’ so much if there’s nothin’—”

“You should do things more properly.”

 …That is, if your brain will simmer down.

“Dammit, Kita-kun,” you say to yourself for the fifth time today, adjusting your goggles, “why’d you choose this week to say something?”

It’s been like this ever since your friend brought up his hypothesis—the one that was stated as fact, the one that was probably formed by very shrewd observation, the one that thinks you’re being improper.

(You know, that one: the Kita-Just-Called-It-Like-He-Saw-It-And-Is-His-Call-Correct?-Maybe-But-I-Don’t-Want-To-Acknowledge-It-Right-Now-ESPECIALLY-Not-Today-Could-There-Be-Even-WORSE-Timing hypothesis.)

You know that, in his weird Kita-like fashion, he was just trying to help; but really, the timing couldn’t be poorer. It’s thrown you off all week, and it’s showing. Atsumu called you out on it the other night over text:

tsumya: yo what’s your deal? youve been mia all week

And it’s true—you had been avoiding him.

You: sorry
You: just a lot on my mind
tsumya: I get ya
tsumya: was like that myself last week. it’s aran’s fault
You: what’d aran do
tsumya: none o yer business :p

You were hoping that, by not seeing Atsumu, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality would kick in. But unfortunately for you, the exact opposite keeps happening. Whenever you’re given a bit of respite from Kita’s words, Atsumu’s stupidly handsome face will pop up, snapshots of memories shared between the two of you: he’s grinning after teasing you about a poor mark you got in English (but then he shows you the flunking grade he got in math); he’s laughing when you accidentally knock your juice can over in the courtyard (though, moments later, he places a new one in front of you, slipping his wallet back into his pocket); he’s telling you that you suck when you lose yet another round of chess (even though you win the next one within a few minutes); he’s holding you closely, looking into your eyes, head craning down—

Nope, that last one didn’t happen. At least, not in reality. My goodness, what did you eat to make you have dreams like that!

“Dammit, Kita-kun!” you repeat yet again. Some of the nearby swimmers jump at the sudden outburst and look to you worriedly. You pay them no mind, though—for just as you curse Kita now for the sixth time today, the outdoor speakers crackle as the announcer calls for all swimmers in your heat to make their way over to their respective lanes.

Finally! Okay, (Name), time to reel it in—“why are you insistent on denyin’ so much”—DAMMIT, Kita-kun, go away!

The captain from Koyote gives you a tight-lipped smirk that you don’t return as you step up to the diving block, flapping your arms about to shake the jitters out of your body. You fold into the familiar starting position when the announcer calls to take your marks, and then the waiting game begins.

“Hecklin’ ain’t always about sayin’ stuff, ya know. Gotta keep things fresh and fun, don’t I?”

Uh oh.

Sure, your body is relaxed—but same can’t be said about your mind.

You grit your teeth and focus with laser-sharp vision on the still water in front of you, willing your mind to be still. It’s successful for a few moments—but only for a few, because as the seconds tick by like hours and you feel that familiar waiting anticipation that you always do (waiting for that beautiful beep to let you free, waiting waiting waiting—), thoughts fill the space where there should only be emptiness.

 

“You’re (Surname), right?”—“Ah, yeah. How’d ya know?”—“‘Tsumu’s been talkin’ ‘bout you.”

A quiet, knowing smirk.

 

(Stop it, not now—)

 

(Name)! You didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend! Oh he’s mighty handsome, look at that face, oh my goodness, what’s yer name—”

An excited, over-the-moon grin.

 

(Go away—)

 

“Not everythin’ has to be suspicious, ya know.”—“Still looks good. I think you should wear it down more often.”

A level of gentleness amidst the snark and challenge.

 

(I said go away—)

 

  “I don’t fuckin’ care. You’re a menace.”

  Fondness crinkling in teasing eyes, the subtle, hidden hints of affection—

 

 

(I SAID GO AWAY—)

 

There’s sudden movement, a twitch of muscles moving, and the race has started. You scramble to throw yourself towards the pool, panicking because you didn’t hear the starting signal over the ringing thoughts in your head, need to swim, even that slight millisecond of hesitation can cause you to lose, go go go go—

The water feels cool against your heated skin, the chill snapping your mind back to where it needs to be to successfully complete the race—

And it’s only until you emerge from your underwater turnaround on the other side of the pool that you realize the other athletes are still on their diving blocks, looking incredulously at the swimmer who kept going despite the false start, despite the immediate disqualification in the race.

 Looking at you.

Your hands come slamming down on the surface of the water, frustrated shriek ringing shrilly through the air.

 


 

Coach gives the whole team the next day off due to the overall success of the team, but you still find your way to the school pools near sundown.

The sun sets everything aflame, the world shimmering with layers of golds and purples and reds. The wind is light and cool, the breeze a subtle caress against your skin. Somewhere in the distance, the evening cicadas begin their crooning calls, a staple for any summer night.

It’s all very serene, and yet you find yourself scowling at your reflection in the still pool waters.

Yesterday’s disqualification cannot be considered a tragedy. Although the meet only consisted of individual races, your team ended up ranking highest for fastest collective timings; your blunder did not change the fate of the team whatsoever. In fact, in a way it made it better—apparently you startled the Koyote captain with your hurried scramble to get in the pool so much that she false started as well (though she recognized what happened got out of the pool almost immediately, unlike you who swam 25 meters before realizing your fuck-up). With their fastest swimmer unable to participate, there was no way that your rival team’s overall score would be able to compare.

So yes, yesterday was not a tragedy. Everyone was smart enough to leave you alone (even your coach, who kept sighing with disappointment and could not shirk the annoyed frown from her face, did not utter a single thing); there are indeed plenty more swim meets before the season wraps up; and the sun rose this morning. It is not the end of the world.

But that doesn’t stop you from sulking and being a sore loser about it all.

You’re angry—of course at yourself, but also at that stupid setter, with his stupid grin and his stupid, handsome face and the stupid way he has been in your thoughts for months but you refused to acknowledge it until stupid Kita-kun said his stupid truth—

Because that’s what it was, right? The truth.

“Dammit, Kita-kun,” you growl at your reflection. You feel like kickin’ rocks into the pool, but unfortunately this place is kept clean and pristine, and there’s nothing for you to toss into the water despite the fact that you really need some sort of catharsis right now.

So instead you huff and just kick your foot into the air, thinking of the imaginary rocks tumbling down into the bottom.

(It’s still not cathartic enough, but what can you?)

Suddenly you hear Atsumu’s rough and low laugh in your mind, and the sound dredges up all sorts of emotions. You frown further, kicking some more nonexistent rocks.

The laugh resounds again, and you’re about to bop yourself on the head a few times (kinda like when you have water stuck in your ear—you’d like the setter to be out of your mind, thanks) when someone calls, “You look real crazy doin’ that, ya know.”

So maybe you are crazy, but at least now you know that you’re not having auditory hallucinations. You turn towards the outdoor pool entrance, looking at Atsumu disdainfully despite the way your heart leaps and bounds in your chest. “Look at what the cat dragged in,” you drawl. “What brings you to my territory?”

Atsumu shrugs, coming to stand by you. “Didn’t catch ya at the clubrooms, so wasn’t too sure if you were stayin’ late or what,” he tell you.

“Aww, were you waitin’ for me?” The airy comment is sarcastic and caustic.

“Hardly,” snorts Atsumu.

“I think you’re a fuckin’ liar,” you retort.

“I don’t fuckin’ care,” answers the setter.

The two of you are swaddled in silence, with him looking at the expansive sky and you looking into the deep waters, though your eyes keep flitting towards, taking in his stupid face and stupid contemplative look and stupid dark eyes that are practically a molten copper in the sun—

"You like him.”

“Did you have practice?” you ask lamely, considering he’s wearing his standard volleyball tracksuit.

“No, I obviously had chess club,” he states sarcastically.

“Oh? Because I whooped your sorry ass last time we played?”

“You know I let you win,” he retorts with a backhanded smile.

“As if you’d let others win intentionally.”

“Sometimes I like to do charity work for poor scrubs, ya know.” His eyes flit to you, amused.

“You’re the fuckin’ worst.”

“I don’t fuckin’ care.”

Another bout of silence. He’s now smiling that stupid smirk of his, that crooked grin that’s so popular with all the ladies, the one that makes everyone swoon but not you, because that’s stupid, you’d never be caught dead swooning, sure sometimes that grin does cause your heart to beat a bit faster but whatever it’s not like—

“I don’t understand the point of denying things.”

“Did you have practice?” Atsumu asks, and your frown deepens.

“No,” you answer. “Coach gave us the day off because of yesterday’s meet.”

“You had a meet? I didn’t know.”

“I didn’t tell you.”

“How’d ya do?”

It’s a normal question to ask, but for some reason you find your teeth grinding in frustration, hands clenching together just a bit tighter.

“…igotdisqualified—”

“Huh?”

“IsaidIgotdisqualified—”

“You gotta enunciate properly—”

“I said I got disqualified,” you snap, glaring at him.

Atsumu’s eyes widen a bit in surprise and he says nothing. You’re not sure if his slight shock is due to your irate response or the disqualification—but surely it’s the former, right? Because Atsumu delights when you blunder—

“You like him.”

—after all that’s how this whole thing started—

“I don’t understand the point of denying things.”

—and it’s because of him that you messed up in the first place—

“You should do things more properly.”

 Suddenly you find yourself really, truly frustrated, and you decide to give him a piece of your mind.

Atsumu tries to speak, but all he’s able to get out is a very tentative “Hey—” before you cut him off. “This is all your fault,” you accuse, and the words tumble out, rapid and sizzling and cathartic. “You and your stupid amazing dumbass serve and your stupid needing silence—like what is that even—"

“I—?”

“—and your stupid face that challenged me and made me intrigued and so here we are, months later, in a stupid battle that Kita-kun calls improper for some reason like so what if I wanna go ‘bout it differently, different strokes for different folks, ain’t nothin’ wrong—”

“Hold up—"

“—and I would have been just fine livin’ my life with my different strokes, pretendin’ like nothin’ was up because I was doin’ fine and dandy in my improper way, thanks so much, but then Kita-kun had to go say something, so I guess it’s mostly his fault, huh—”

“Wait, wh—”

“—but Kita-kun is unblameable so I’m blamin’ you ‘cause I wanna and ‘cause I’m frustrated, call me immature or improper or whatever, I’m blamin’ you, you and the fact that I kept thinkin’ about you at the meet—”

“(Name)—” Atsumu reaches for you, but before he can you’ve already moved closer. You’re dangerously close, so much so you can feel the heat radiating from his body. You continue, the words raw and real and full of all the emotion you’ve kept at bay for a while now—

“—and I blame me, too, because I can’t get you out of my head—I haven’t been able to for months—and it’s drivin’ me crazy because you make me feel some type of way, you stupid, handsome, hecklin’ dummy—”

You’re cut off when a hand secures itself to the back of your head, steady and unyielding, and Atsumu slams his mouth down onto yours.

His lips are rough and a bit salty, and this is potentially the most unromantic first kiss you’ve ever had—I mean, shutting someone’s berating up by kissing them? How cliché, how scrubby.

How very Atsumu.

And yet you find you’re completely okay with it.

Shocks course through your whole body, and you melt into his embrace, giving into the emotions you’ve been stubbornly denying for months. Your arms automatically come to wrap around his neck, one hand gripping the sensitive skin there while the other weaves through the blonde locks, tugging. In response, he pulls you even closer, arm possessively wrapping around your waist. His lips move against your own, demanding attention, teeth gently tugging at your bottom lip—but you assert your dominance by running your tongue along the seam of his lips, delighting when they part, allowing you to deepen the kiss—

But then Atsumu pulls away, damn him, leaving you breathless and wanting more. He smirks down at you, arms still holding your form; his eyes are practically black, dark and sultry and completely unwavering. You automatically lean up for another kiss, delighting how his mouth quivers upward, how he also leans forward—

But then, just as your lips are about to brush his, he pulls away again. The glint in his eye tells you he knows what he’s doing—what he’s doing to you. “Ya know,” he comments, voice airy, “I like yer spunk. How about goin’ on a date with me sometime, hmm?”

You blink at him, absorbing his words, then: “Tsumya, how’s your swimmin’?”

His grip relaxes just enough that you’re able to step back a smidgen. “I mean, I can swim, why—”

And so you promptly push him into the pool, an immature but final catharsis.

The blonde resurfaces after a moment, sputtering, and you laugh loudly, crouching down near the edge of the pool. Your grin is large and smug as he looks at you incredulously, eyes narrowed menacingly. “That’s for distractin’ me at the meet,” you tell him, though you know it’s not his fault at all.

In response he leans over, grabbing your arm—and with a swift and forceful tug, you’re tumbling down in the pool as well. Now it’s his turn to laugh loudly as you cough and sputter, desperately attempting to push your wild, wet hair out of your face. “That’s for blamin’ me,” he states, reaching over to help tuck your hair behind your ears.

You look at Atsumu with a heated gaze, eyes challenging. He matches your gaze, giving you his trademark, crooked grin. And you find yourself smiling as you swim closer, wrapping your arms around his shoulders. “You fuckin’ suck,” you murmur softly, voice full of emotion.

One hand comes to encircle you again, a loose but intimate embrace. “I know,” he responds with a gentle grin, just as soft and full of emotion as you.

The laugh that emits from your throat is gentle and sincere. When you lean in for another kiss this time, Atsumu doesn’t pull away.  

 

Chapter Text

One of Atsumu’s favorite things about you is that you’re like a firework: beautiful, mesmerizing, and uniquely you.

Regarding beauty, the setter had always thought you were cute. Even from the get-go, when he only viewed you as that rude loudmouth heckler, he couldn’t deny that you were quite easy on the eyes—but now that he’s gotten to know you more, you’ve gone from pretty to absolutely breathtaking. He’s biased, he knows, but there’s just something about you that’s just so bright and colorful—especially when you get that crooked, mischievous grin on your face. Gods, that smirk sure is something. Atsumu’s not really certain if it’s necessarily a good something, but whenever your lips quirk upward with that devilish smirk of yours, the setter can’t help but think you’re the most beautiful woman in the whole damn universe.

 

(He’s reminded of that one time when the you two were downtown and saw Kita and Oomimi in a café, basking quietly in the morning sunlight and drinking cups of tea. At first Atsumu thought he saw incorrectly—after all, it’s such an old person thing to do—but then you pressed your face against the glass, not bothering to be covert about your staring whatsoever, and confirmed that it was indeed his two teammates.

“Baba and Jiji do that all the time,” you said. The young couple sitting next to the window seemed to be a bit wigged out at the fact that you were looming over them, but you just did not seem to care in the slightest, keeping your eyes locked onto the two athletes. It made Atsumu smirk.

“Mine do, too. It’s an old married couple thing, I guess,” commented Atsumu, and then his grin got wider. “Makes sense why the senpais are here, then.”

Atsumu never swoons over anything. He never has, and he never will—after all, only scrubs swoon. But when you pulled your face away from the glass and he saw that grin on your face, he almost felt like swooning. Just almost, though.

And then for the next week, you proceeded to call Oomimi “Mrs. Kita” with a completely straight face. You almost got through a second week of it as well, but then Kita shut you down with a stern speech. Atsumu would have laughed at you had he not been somehow wrapped up in the lecture, too. “I blamed you,” you admitted to him afterward.

“That’s fuckin’ rude,” he told you.

“I know,” you said loftily, smirking that grin of yours again. And then Atsumu tugged on your arm and greedily took your lips in his, because you were just so chaotically beautiful he couldn’t help it.)

 

From the very beginning you captured his attention, but the more time went on, slowly but surely he began to fall deep under your spell. He knew within about a month of meeting you that he liked you—these feelings are not foreign to him, as Atsumu has plenty of experience with girls—but as the months went on and as he spent more time with you, that superficial crush began to develop into something much more profound, something a bit more genuine than he was used to. He doesn’t know how it happened—seriously, how does real affection spawn from a twisted, dumb competition about who can be the bigger asshole?—but the setter reckons that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter too too much. All that’s really important is that some light-hearted crush he thought would be fleeting ended up sticking, and for the first time in his life he found himself being the one mesmerized rather than the other way around.

Although Atsumu was not necessarily the most discreet about his feelings, he also didn’t go out of his way to publicize them. It’s not that he was nervous or nothing (please, as if); he just didn’t feel like doing anything extra was necessary, and he wanted to see where the cards would fall. He knew that a select few disagreed with his tactic of inaction. At first the blonde didn’t really care, but then after a few months of feeling the way he did (and after Aran yelled at him to do something instead of putzin’ around) Atsumu started thinking a bit more about it and decided maybe he should say something. So, after a restless night of back-and-forth with himself (okay, so maybe he was just a bit nervous), he decided to grow a backbone and to speak with you after practice. But then you never showed up to your clubhouse, so he meandered over to the pools… and, well… you beat him to the punch, and then pushed him into the pool when he reciprocated.

When you told him how you felt, Atsumu was a lot of things: a bit taken aback (though that might have to do more with the way you told him—yelling at him, like what kind of confession is that); quite ecstatic (though he refused to show it on his face because he’s sure he would have looked like a dumbass); but most of all, he was surprised. You were never the type to hold back on what you were thinking or feeling, so it was a bit of a (smug) shock to hear he’d been on your mind for months. Atsumu’s not sure why you took so long to say something—but then again, he also did the same thing, so maybe he can’t clock you on it without being a giant hypocrite himself.

 

(Nowadays, though, neither of you have any issues telling each other what you want. He thinks back to that one time during break when the two of you were just walking the halls together. Atsumu can’t quite remember what he said to you, but he very distinctly remembers your response. You scowled, snapped a short “Bite me,” and then proceeded to give him a Look. You give him a lot of looks—but this Look was a particular kind of Look, one that he instantly understood, and one that he responded to with his own Look.

And next thing he knew, you had pulled him into some sort of closet and had him pressed up against the door. Your lips, fervid and incessant, latched onto his before he even had time to blink. One hand gripped at his tie, tugging him downward, while the other weaved through his locks.

The only thing Atsumu can complain about from that time is that it was just too damn short. He had just moved away from your mouth and was making his way to that particularly sensitive spot just below your jawline when the door handle began to jiggle, followed by a few muffled noises of confusion when the person on the other side realized it was locked. Atsumu’s gaze slid to the door for a split second before your hand came to cradle his cheek, bringing him blissfully back to you—but then the jiggling of the handle began again, this time accompanied by the distinct jangling sound of keys.

Although Atsumu was annoyed, you in particular weren’t having any of it. He doesn’t think you meant to be as vocal as you were, but when you muttered a salty “Hold your horses for one second, my gods,” it was a bit too loud, and the person on the other side definitely heard you.

There was a split second of silence before the jiggling became more forceful, accompanied by a very shrill “Is there someone in there?” Atsumu recognized the voice instantly as the third-year Class President Watanabe, and when he looked around the room more—there were a few desks scattered around the tiny space, and on the shelves he saw way too many uchiwa fans with his and ‘Samu’s name on them—he began to realize where you had lead him. From the other side, Watanabe called, “This room is authorized only to members of the Cheer Committee and—open this door right now—”

Atsumu realized that there wasn’t much option to finagle both of you out of this, so he decided to do the first thing that came to mind: he pushed you against the wall despite your protests, and  unlocked and pulled the door open swiftly, making sure that you were hidden behind it. He gave his trademark lazy smile, saying, “Watanabe-senpai, fancy meetin’ you here,” ignoring the way Watanabe looked at his disheveled hair and askew tie distastefully. The blonde managed to lead the stuffy class president away with some bullshit excuse—“I was actually lookin’ for you which is why I’m here, I’ve been meanin’ to talk to you ‘bout somethin’, you got a quick minute ok great let’s go!”—leaving you to sneak out undetected.

Atsumu found out later on that day that you were unsuccessful, as you ran into Fanclub President Yasuba-chan on your way out. “She saw this,” you told him, pointing at the fresh, darkened mark near your jaw, “and then proceeded to make a snarky ass comment about it—hey, don’t laugh!” you shouted at him as he began to chuckle. “It’s your fault.”

“Yup,” he told you with a crooked grin, “and I ain’t sorry about it at all.”

“You fuckin’ suck,” you snarled. It took you a second to realize why your comment made him laugh even louder; when you finally do, you flushed and then proceeded to unsuccessfully try to push him off the park bench.)

 

You are a very special person, and Atsumu doesn’t mean that in a sappy sort of way; he means that he’s never met someone like you before. You’re brazen, stubborn, obnoxious and quite loud, but you are fearlessly you, and you are not afraid to show it. Most people care way too much about the opinions of others and so they try to hide behind some dumb façade like a bunch of goody two-shoes, always tryin’ to please others. You, on the other hand, just don’t care. And Atsumu loves it.

He’s heard some of his fellow teammates (Aran) talk about how no, (Name)’s not unique, you two are basically the same person, blah blah blah. Atsumu lets it go through one ear at out the other. Sure, maybe there are some similarities, but the blonde has always seen it more in complementary terms—that is, you both are two unique individuals who just happen to go well together. Kinda like if you have a red firework and a gold one; they are distinctly different, but similar enough to work together.

 

(From Aran’s perspective, the ace doesn’t quite understand how two very similar, chaotic people such as you and Atsumu can coexist peacefully without something exploding. He was thinking about it a bit one day in early fall, when the whole team went for sushi and you tagged along. Aran was sitting with Kita, watching quietly as you kept trying to shove pieces of salmon into Atsumu’s mouth and as the blonde twin kept stealing slices of fatty tuna off your plate whenever you weren’t looking. He found himself sighing softly, and wondered aloud, “How is that functional?” That, of course, being the two of you together.

Kita, hearing him, laughed lightly. “I suppose it’s the antithesis of ‘Opposites attract’—'Minds think alike,’” he said.

Aran looked at the captain quizzically. “Isn’t the phrase—”

“Yes,” stated Kita, and left it at that.

Aran opened his mouth to implore further, but then shut it as he began to think. And then, as he watched both you and Atsumu laugh loudly at Ginjima’s expense—one of those stupid pieces of salmon slipped from your chopsticks and landed on the wing spiker’s foot—he got it. It was functional because ‘Great minds think alike’… just minus the first word, because there was no way Aran could say either of you were great. Perhaps ‘Awful, chaotic minds think alike’?

But Aran saw the way you subtly leaned into Atsumu when the setter loosely wrapped his arm around you, and saw the way the blonde’s eyes crinkled with genuine affection as he gazed at you. And he found himself sighing again.

At present the ace still thinks that something’s going to explode eventually… but minds think alike, and he guesses that’s why it works.)

 

 

Yes, you’re very much like a firework, and it’s truly one of Atsumu’s favorite things. At the same time, though, there are just some qualities about fireworks that Atsumu isn’t the biggest fan of, and he finds that you parallel some of these things, too.

Some of them are tolerable—like how fireworks are loud, for instance. Atsumu used to hate that when he was young (according to Mom he’d cry all the time, but Atsumu just thinks that she’s mixin’ up him and ‘Samu), but now that he’s older, he finds it’s just sometimes slightly annoying and inconvenient.

 

(It’s kind of like when the setter first met you. Gods, your loud heckling was the worst. But now that things have progressed, Atsumu isn’t as off-put by all of it anymore. In fact, sometimes it’s endearing, if not even a bit fun. He thinks back to that time you two went to watch a scary movie at that tiny local theater near your house. Atsumu personally doesn’t like this particular venue too much, as the few times he’s gone with Osamu he’s found the staff to be a bit too stiff and uppity—but the movie you really wanted to see was only playing there, so to the stiff and uppity theater you went.

Atsumu’s not the best with jump scares—hmm, maybe Mom did have the right twin when talking about the fireworks…—and so he didn’t necessarily like it when you laughed at him for accidentally jumping and spilling the popcorn onto the couple in front of you all; but he did find it kind of funny and started laughing himself when you got into an argument with another patron.

“Keep it down!” a guy a few rows down yelled at you, turning to glare. “Also what’s your problem; how can you laugh at something like this? He literally just got stabbed, you sicko!”

You, of course, did not take the comment very well. Atsumu only vaguely remembers your rebuttal—something about wet blankets and sticks up asses—but apparently it was enough to get you two escorted out of the movie by a stiff and uppity employee. It was the setter’s idea to try to sneak into another one—tickets ain’t cheap, and he wanted his money’s worth, thanks—but when you got caught by same stiff and uppity employee, you were both dragged away to the stiff and uppity manager.

When the manager stared at you two for a very long time—as if memorizing your faces—and then asked for your names, Atsumu knew immediately where this was headed. So the blonde offered up half the truth: “Miya Osamu,” he told the manager, and then added, “My hair is usually gray, for the record.”

The manager looked at him funny but then you piped up with “And I’m Yasuba Asako,” which made Atsumu smirk and almost blow your cover. But you two prevailed, and then as you were leaving the stiff and uppity theater the setter asked you, “Do you reckon we got banned?”

“Nope,” you said, “but I think there’s a chance Osamu-kun and Yasuba-san did, though.”

Yasuba-chan did not, in fact, get banned—after all, she looks nothing like you, so there would be no reason for alarm bells to ring in the manager’s head should he see her. ‘Samu, on the other hand…

“They wouldn’t let me into that theater down the street,” Osamu said to his twin a few weeks after the incident, a frown marring his face as he walked through the front door. “Know anythin’ ‘bout that?”

“Ain’t got a clue,” Atsumu lied, shrugging from his spot on the couch.)

 

One of the things that does grind Atsumu’s gears a bit, though, is that sometimes fireworks can be a bit jarring if you’re not prepared for them. The loud explosions themselves are fine enough if you know they’re coming—but when you’re just walkin’, minding your own business, and suddenly something goes BOOM! completely out of the blue, that sudden lurch of your heart is mighty uncomfortable. Of course you gotta play it cool and act like you didn’t just have a tiny heart attack (after all, can’t have others thinking that you’re lame), but the hammering in your chest usually continues longer than you wish. Or at least that’s Atsumu’s experience.

 

(It’s like what happened right after the pool incident. Atsumu was feelin’ pretty great as he pulled himself out of the water—after all, you had admitted that you were feeling the same type of way he was, of course he’s going to be happy—but all of that came crashing down quick enough. “So how ‘bout that date?” he asked you.

He wasn’t entirely sure what kind of response he was expecting; but then again, he didn’t really think it was going to be anything but a ‘Yes.’ So imagine his surprise when you frowned, and then imagine the way his heart squeezed a bit tighter than he likes to admit when you announced, “No—but there’s that carnival in town that I’ve been fixin’ to go to, and that new barbeque placed just opened up downtown—”

It was only about four months later, when the two of you were walking home hand-in-hand after a nice dinner of cheap fast-food, that you brought it up again. “Ya know, I think I will go on a date with you,” you said out of the blue, jarring Atsumu.

That lurching, heart-hammering feeling was back again, and Atsumu looked at you incredulously. “Then what’ve we been doin’ these past few months?” he asked.

You hummed as if you hadn’t really given it thought, and then finally you said, “I’ve been gettin’ free dinners.” He was able to tell you were kidding—or at least half-kidding—by the smarmy smirk on your face.

“You’d be doin’ that on dates, too!”

“Yeah, but now I’ll actually start payin’ sometimes,” you retorted, smirk turning into a real smile when Atsumu sighed exasperatedly and pulled you against him in a tight squeeze.

“You’re a fuckin’ menace, ya know,” he told you, though he meant it the same way he did way back when he first called you that—as a term of endearment, a sign of affection.

“I know, Tsumya,” you responded back, reaching up to kiss his cheek with a loud, sloppy smack.)

 

But the number one thing Atsumu dislikes the most about fireworks is that there’s that waiting period—you know, that moment when you’re just watching above, waiting for the dark sky to light up with those dazzling lights? Yeah, that moment’s the worst. Atsumu remembers how he and ‘Samu would sit on the riverbank during the summer festival, remembers how they waited with bated breath for the colorful explosions to light up the galaxy, remembers how that feeling of anticipation became more unbearable the slower time seemed to move. In reality that limbo is only a few seconds long, but the more eager you are, the longer everything seems to take.

And that’s where Atsumu finds himself with you, right now—in a terrible state of anticipation, with time practically at a standstill.

It’s a few days before the volleyball team heads off to Tokyo for the Spring Interhigh, and Atsumu’s with you (as he has been for the majority of Winter Break), sitting on your couch and doing nothing in particular. You’re nestled comfortably against his side as you watch TV with rapt attention—it’s some cooking competition or somethin’, he’s not really paying too much attention—and he’s playing idly with your hair, letting his thoughts wander about freely. It’s an incredibly mundane scene, yet Atsumu finds he’s absolutely and completely content.

Contentment. It’s not really something the setter is used to—and why should he be? He’s always looking ahead, always striving to improve, always aiming to satisfy that immense hunger for success that’s deep inside his belly. There’s no time to sit back, to stay in the present and to reflect.

But when Atsumu looks down and sees how tiny and perfect you are at his side, feels how your laugh vibrates through his chest, hears how your voice is sweet and melodic to his ears despite the rough comment (“C’mon bro, use your brain—those flavors don’t go together, for fuck’s sake!”)… well, he can’t just help but feel content, and he realizes that he wants to make sure he can keep this around for as long as possible.

So after nearly seven months of seeing each other (or three months of dating, if he uses your dumbass logic), Atsumu finally decides to ask something that he’s been thinking about for a while now.

“Hey.”

“Is for horses,” you respond immediately, acting as if that’s a completely normal answer.

Atsumu ignores your quip. He swallows once, takes a small inhale in preparation, and then—“How ‘bout makin’ this official?”

He’s met with silence. At first it’s not so bad—after all, it’s a big question, so of course there’s going to be some sort of surprised pause—but then it begins to drag on and on, the seconds seemingly starting to stretch into long, arduous minutes. Atsumu is normally an incredibly self-assured person; but, very slowly, that ugly anticipatory feeling begins to build inside him, and his confidence begins to waver ever so slightly. He’s starting to wonder if maybe he’s somehow fucked up and opens his mouth to backtrack when you suddenly laugh, the sound way more gentle than normal, and ask, “Who do you think’s gonna get the chop this episode?”

Atsumu blinks. “Bu—”

“I personally think it’s gonna be that idiot who tried to combine miso and sweet bean paste, like what is that—”

“(Name)—”

“Tsumya.” Your voice catches, and it makes Atsumu pause. When you look up at him, your eyes are unreadable. You reach over to grasp his fingers in yours, give him a tiny smile, and then crane your head up to press a light kiss to the underside of his jaw. Your lips are hot and soft, and the feeling lingers long after you’ve pulled away.

You don’t say anything more, and neither does he.

Time ticks forward for the two of you, but strangely Atsumu finds himself feeling stuck.

 


 

No one expects Inarizaki to lose to Karasuno. But they do, and that causes time to stop for a split second before it continues on as normal, demanding and relentless.

Losing sucks. No one wants to lose, and no one likes it when it happens. But this is volleyball; champions fall, and a king’s throne is always tentative, built on a rickety foundation that shakes whenever someone attempts their arduous crawl to the top. Volleyball is uncertain, filled with lots of what ifs and I should haves. But Miya Atsumu does not have time for any of these thoughts, and so although the wound is still fresh and gaping, he will continue forward, always looking for tomorrow.

But there is one thing he feels at a standstill with, and that thing comes to find him just as he’s making his way down to the locker rooms.

When his name is called and Atsumu turns to see you standing there, he is surprised. Although the two of you had chatted about the Spring Interhigh quite a bit in the weeks leading up, you hadn’t made any indication that you would attend, and he hadn’t asked you to. Tokyo and Hyogo are not close by any means, and he knows that you had to prepare for your last semester of school; therefore, it made sense for you to not come, especially if you were just going to be your typical loudmouth self.

Yet here you are, standing mere feet away from him. He finds that seeing you makes it feel as though that wound has been stitched up a bit, but at the same time it also feels like salt has been rubbed into the injury.

Other than a quick call the night before, the two of you hadn’t spoken since he asked you the fateful question and you responded with a non-answer. Atsumu’s game hadn’t been affected the slightest by it, of course—please, he’s too good a player to let anything in his personal life sway his performance—but now that his time at the Spring Interhigh has come to a close (way too soon, might he add) and he has nothin’ to focus on, he finds that that terrible aimless feeling of anticipation comes floating back. The setter feels a bit itchy as he says, “Look what the cat dragged in. Wasn’t expectin’ ya.”

The rest of the team continues to descend down the stairs, giving the two of you some privacy. Atsumu’s surprised when you barely acknowledge their presence, instead focusing on him with an unwavering gaze. “Wasn’t goin’ to come,” you answer, “but had a change of heart last minute. This morning, in fact.”

Atsumu gives a grin that feels half-hearted. “Didya make it to the game in time?” he inquires, though he’s not sure he wants to hear the answer considering the match’s outcome. “I didn’t hear yer annoyin’ hecklin’ like normal. Maybe I would’ve done better had I heard it.”

That last comment isn’t true at all, but it’s out before Atsumu really has time to think, the slight implications (that are also untrue) ringing silently in the air: Maybe I would’ve done better had I known you were there.

You give him a soft smile, taking a few steps forward. “Didn’t need me for hecklin’—the Cheer Team took care of that at the end, surprisingly. Gods, you should’ve seen the look on your face when they started yellin’ at you—”

“H-Hey, that ain’t—”

You laugh loudly, but the sound is sweet, lacking any sort of its typical derisiveness. It makes Atsumu pause, and when you come to stop mere inches in front of him, he reaches out to grab your hand. It’s entirely subconscious, molded from doing the action for so many months on end. The setter realizes immediately that perhaps the intimacy isn’t the smartest thing right now, considering this weird, anticipatory limbo state your relationship is in right now—but you just squeeze his hand back, seemingly unbothered, and when you look up at him your eyes are clear, albeit a bit watery.

“I didn’t heckle,” you start, “because I wanted to save my voice so that I could annoy the shit outta ya when y’all were in the finals.”

The comment hurts way more that Atsumu wishes to admit. But then you reach up to wrap your arms around his neck, and he finds that the sting dulls ever so slightly. His hands automatically come to wrap around your small frame and he holds you tightly, face burrowing into the crook of your neck.

Time starts to tick forward again for the two of you, slowly but surely.

You begin to wiggle and so he releases you, but the minute he does you just press your lips against his sweetly, hands cradling his face. It’s a very simple kiss, but he feels all the emotions packed behind it, bubbling and light and warm.

And time moves a bit faster.

You pull away slightly, resting your forehead against his. “I hope you know you owe me money for my train ticket,” you tell him with that beautiful devil grin of yours. “I spent good money on you, expectin’ to be here for days, but you sucked enough to get yer ass whooped the first round. Scrub.”

Atsumu begins to sputter, trying to come up with the words for a comeback—but he doesn’t get the opportunity to, for suddenly your phone begins to chime with that familiar FaceTime tune. Blinking, you release the blonde and begin to fish through your bag, keeping close to his side. Atsumu’s still racking his brain for a smooth response to your shitty comment when you accept the call, saying, “Hey, Baba.”

(NAME)!” comes Baba’s voice. “I need yer opinion on somethin’, your Jiji’s claimin’ he’s better at technology than me, I think he’s full of bull honky and so I need ya to back me up and—wait, where ya at? This don’t look like your house!”

 You laugh and lean into Atsumu even more, and he wraps his arm around your shoulders. It’s another subconscious reaction, but this time he doesn’t feel any of that anticipatory uncertainty. You pull your arm back a bit, angling the phone so that the camera can get both you and him on the screen. “I’m in Tokyo,” you tell her with a wide, toothy grin. “I came to see my boyfriend’s volleyball tournament.”

Boyfriend.

It has a nice ring to it.

Time begins to move for the two of you at its normal speed again—and although Atsumu always looks forward to tomorrow, he can’t help but feel a bit more eager about it than normal.

Chapter Text

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.