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sweet reverence

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These were the facts:

 

1. His name is Miya Atsumu. His family name is spelled with the kanji for ‘shrine’ and his given name is spelled with the kanji for ‘urge to eat.’ A name spoken like a kiss. A short and clipped ‘a’, lips unrounded, tongue at rest. A ‘tsu’ with lips pushed forward, tongue pressed against teeth, exhaled like a whisper between lovers. A ‘mu’, lips in a straight line, anticipation rising, then brought forward yet again.

 

2. He is the older twin brother of Miya Osamu, contrary to popular belief. Age difference is approximately twenty minutes, but may not be wholly accurate due to bitter teenage over exaggeration.

 

3. He is twenty-three years old. He was born October 5th, 1995, in Toyooka Public Hospital. His birth time is sometime between 16:14 and 16:34, though this number may be off due to aforementioned bitter teenage over exaggeration.

 

4. His three major star signs are a Libra Sun, an Aquarius Moon and a Pisces Rising. Identical to his brother except for their moon signs, the moon moved from Aquarius to Pisces sometime in those twenty minutes. These are the only facts regarding this topic.

 

5. He is a professional volleyball player for the MSBY Black Jackals and has been for four years. He plays setter, specifically. 

 

6. He lives in a modest townhouse in Hirakata City, Japan. He selected this specific location due to two specific reasons: a. Its close proximity to the MSBY Black Jackals home stadium and b. Its close proximity to Hirakata Park, an amusement park he currently owns a season pass for.

 

7. He lives approximately one hundred and sixty-six kilometres away from his hometown. Merely a two and a half hour long drive, but sometimes even a single kilometre feels like a light year.

 

One more:

 

1. Approximately six years and three months ago, Kita Shinsuke fell in love with Miya Atsumu.

 

Could that be considered a fact? 

 

Kita wasn’t sure.






Akagi Michinari. 18 years old. Emergency Contact: Akagi Nobuyuki. Relationship: Father
Suna Rintarou. 16 years old. Emergency Contact: Iji Ryouka. Relationship: Sister.
Kita Shinsuke. 18 years old. Emergency Contact: Kita Yumie. Relationship: Grandmother.
Ojiro Aran. 18 years old. Emergency Contact: Ojiro Claire. Relationship: Mother.

 

Kita savored in the low, smooth rumble of the fresh rollerball pen gliding over the page as he filled out the form. Normally, team paperwork was Fujie-sensei’s task as their team advisor. She had a special knack for wrangling all the boys’ information together and booking travel accommodations for dirt cheap. The latter was taken care of by Kurosu this time around, but the former was entrusted to Kita. He smiled at the sticky note of instructions written in her overly flowery handwriting.

 

He always enjoyed writing Ginjima’s name. Especially ‘gin’ with its fourteen strokes, each a controlled flick of the wrist. Followed by ‘jima,’ only ten strokes, all straight lines drawn with guided precision.

 

In the middle of Hitoshi’s twelve strokes, the door to the club room creaked open. Kita finished the character, capped the rollerball, and gently set it on the stack of paperwork before he looked up.

 

“Atsumu-kun.”

 

The boy in question stood before him, expression unreadable, hair damp, and a wet sheen across the shoulders and chest of his track jacket.

 

“I was hopin’ t’find ya here.” Atsumu mumbled.

 

Kita folded his hands and set them on the table. “Practice ended nearly an hour ago. Why didn’t ya go home?”

 

A knot grew in the space between Atsumu's eyebrows, nose scrunching in annoyance. An expression more commonly worn by Osamu, but they were identical twins after all.

 

“See, well, ‘Samu had our umbrella but he left while I was still changin’ and we used’ta have two umbrellas but he gave his to Suna one day but Suna never gave it back and I guess today Suna forgot t’bring his again so they left together and well I waited ‘til the rain let up a lil’ bit but as I was walkin’ to the bus stop it started pourin’ again so I ran back t’school so I’ve jus’ been standin’ around ‘n’ thinkin’ ‘bout things cause m’phone died so I…” 

 

“Atsumu, you’re ramblin’.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“Please take a seat.” Kita felt his left eyelid twitch as the chair legs scraped against the floor. Atsumu let out a soft sigh as he settled in. “You should take off that wet jacket and…” He paused to reach into his kit bag, producing a microfiber towel. “Dry off your hair. Yer gonna catch a cold.”

 

He watched as Atsumu roughly rubbed his dripping hair with the towel, leaving pointed spikes haphazardly jutting in every direction. Despite the water turning his entire head a shade of brown, the grown out dark roots were still prominent. 

 

Atsumu never let his roots get that long. 

 

"What's wrong?" Kita asked.

 

"I'm soakin' wet." Atsumu draped the towel over the back of the chair. "Tha's it."

 

"Atsumu."

 

"Nothin'! I swear."

 

"You could have gone to the gym to practice serves or to the library to pretend to work on homework or loitered at the konbini across the street." Kita smiled, faint. "But instead you specifically decided to come here, where you knew I would be."

 

"Yeah, well I…"

 

"No, I know you didn't come here to hang out with me. You’re terrified of me." Kita picked his pen back up, resuming filling in Ginjima's information. In the fringes of his vision, he could see Atsumu staring at his own hands. "So clearly, there is somethin' you wanna talk about."

 

Atsumu scoffed. "Ya don't miss a thing, huh?"

 

"I'm psychic." Kita said, with all the seriousness he could muster.

 

"I…" Atsumu blinked twice. "Kita-san ya can't just say shit like that."

 

Kita moved on to the next name. 'Oo' just three strokes, 'mimi' six. Big ears. He smiled as he wrote the final downwards stroke. Nothing but the distant spatter of raindrops against the roof broke the silence in the room.

 

It was comfortable. For Kita.

 

Atsumu, on the other hand, was quietly vibrating. 

 

Knee bobbing. Thumbs twiddling. Teeth grinding.

 

Miya. Ten strokes. Osamu. Eight strokes.

 

Foot tapping. Fingernails scratching. Pulse pounding.

 

Miya. Ten strokes. Atsumu. Eight strokes.

 

"Okay." Atsumu finally spoke, more of a defeated sigh than anything else.

 

Kita set the pen back down. "Yes?"

 

"Kita-san, what are yer plans? For the future?"

 

"I am attendin' university in Kobe. Just a bachelors, though perhaps one day a masters." Kita watched Atsumu's eyebrows raise and answered the silent question: "Agricultural Science."

 

"Agri… really?" Atsumu's brows reached their peak then dropped. "Ya could've done business or law school or pre-med or somethin'."

 

"The agricultural industry is the cornerstone of our entire culture and, in fact, the cornerstone of humanity." Kita smiled. "There would be no businessmen or lawyers or doctors if there were no farmers."

 

Atsumu blinked as the words washed over him. "How are ya sure that's the right path for ya?"

 

"I don't."

 

"But yer doin' it anyway?"

 

"If you jump into the shallow end, your feet hit the bottom. It's sturdy, stable, safe. Why go deeper if you're comfortable where you are?" Kita propped his head on his fist.

 

"If ya jump into the deep end, you could drown." Atsumu frowned.

 

"Yes." He smiled. "Or you could swim."

 

Kita could see the cogs turning in Atsumu's head as he swished the words around.

 

"What should I do, Kita-san?" He asked, finally.

 

"What is it you want to do?"

 

"I want to go pro. Play volleyball. Maybe if I'm lucky, don the red jersey someday."

 

"Then do it."

 

"It's not that simple."

 

"You’re one of the top setters in the country, one of the top servers too. Not to mention, your enigmatic personality is sure to attract attention. Come next year, teams will be clamorin' for ya."

 

"'Enigmatic'? Is that a good or bad thing?" The tips of Atsumu's ears had morphed pink, clashing against the drying blonde locks.

 

Kita popped the cap off the pen and resumed writing. "Perhaps a little bit of both."

 

The pink spread to his cheeks. Part of Kita enjoyed seeing Atsumu like this. Vulnerable. Human. Not hiding behind some artificial facade of confidence.

 

"And what if I don't go pro?"

 

Kita finished the final four strokes of the form. Short flick left, short flick right, long flick left, long flick right. Father. He tucked the sheet beneath the stack and began to read over the next page.

 

“Kita?”

 

“No one’s expectin’ you to have your entire life figured out at sixteen.” 

 

“I’m nearly seventeen, now.”

 

Kita smiled. “No one’s expectin’ you to have your entire life figured out at seventeen. Or twenty-three. Or thirty-five.”

 

Wood grinded against the floor sharply as Atsumu pushed away from the desk, standing up. Kita looked up to meet honey brown eyes, darkened in shadow but no less full of fire. An incandescent glow filtered through the edges of Atsumu’s mostly dry blonde locks.

 

A halo.

 

As if he were an angel.

 

He smiled, a genuine one, not the faux fox grins he preferred. A rarity. One canine longer than its twin. A tiny gap between his bottom left incisors.

 

Not an angel.

 

Just Atsumu.

 

“Thank you.” 






There was a cold snap followed by a muffled thump as the blade sliced through the bell pepper and hit the wooden cutting board beneath. Kita tossed the stem, the ribs, and seeds into a bowl of scraps destined for the compost pile outside. A smile played across his lips as he watched a tiny, wrinkled hand sneak a vibrant cube of pepper from under his nose.

 

“Granny.” He drawled out the syllables. 

 

She giggled. 

 

“Can ya heat up the pot?” Kita pushed the cut pepper into a small pile in the corner of the board and began slicing a zucchini. “I’m thinkin’ medium heat. With olive oil.”

 

“You got it.” His grandmother slipped past him gracefully. A click of a dial brought forth a woosh of blue-white flame beneath the cast iron pot. She spun, a long-practiced remnant from her days as a geiko, to grab the bottle of oil. With a flourish, she flicked the lid off and poured swirling golden-green circles into the pot.

 

“Show off.” Kita laughed.

 

Another spin to return the bottle back to its home as Kita used the flat plane of the knife to slide chopped onion and pepper into the sizzling oil.

 

Tomato juice dripped through the colander in the sink as his grandmother snuck another snack from the cutting board. A sliver of raw garlic, crushed slightly with her still strong back molars. “Ah, delicious.” She grinned. 

 

Kita stuck out his tongue.

 

“Allicin is good for you, Shin-chan~!” Her face scrunched in a mirthful smile. “Anti-microbial!”

 

“I’ll stick to umeboshi, granny.” 

 

She giggled again as Kita slid the garlic into the pot, giving the entire mixture a stir. The two swapped positions so he could scrub the cutting board and knife and she could keep an eye on the already fragrant pot. 

 

“Shin, sweetie, do you mind if I watch television?”

 

Kamahen.” Kita spoke quietly as he dumped the crushed tomatoes into the pot.

 

His grandmother clicked her tongue before spinning again towards the tiny prehistoric CRT television that’s been perched on the kitchen counter since Kita was a child. Usually, it was set to TV Asahi, ready and waiting for the next ice skating competition to air. But not tonight. A DAZN programming message flashed across the screen before it switched to a panning drone shot of MSBY Arena.

 

She hummed as she rinsed the colander out in the sink.

 

Sly devil.

 

“After a grueling five game away streak, we’re proud to welcome the Jackals home to MSBY Arena!” Kita stirred, folding the crushed tomatoes into the onions and peppers. “Tonight the Jackals hope to bring victory home against EJP Raijin.” He glanced up to see a shot of the white and blue jerseyed players warming up.

 

“This should be a good one.” His grandmother mused as she plucked a few fresh basil leaves from the plant on their windowsill and began finely chopping them. “Two of your boys playin’! I bet Sami-chan is there, too. Sellin’ his onigiri.”

 

“They’re not my…” Kita started, ultimately deciding that was bait he didn’t need to engage in. He cracked pepper into the pot, followed by a healthy amount of salt. Parsley. Red pepper flakes. Oregano. Sugar. Lemon Juice.

 

His grandmother dumped the fresh basil into the pot, giving it a hardy stir. Then, as a final touch, she dropped a parmesan rind into the bubbling red sauce.

 

“Announcing your MSBY Black Jackals starting lineup!” The commentator over-enunciated each word. Official player bromides flashed on the screen as each name was announced. “Captain and middle blocker Meian Shugo! Middle blocker Adriah Tomas! Opposite hitter Oliver Barnes! Outside hitter Bokuto Koutarou! Outside hitter Sakusa Kiyoomi! Setter Miya Atsumu! And finally, libero Inunaki Shion!”

 

The screen cut to pan across the living, breathing players standing in a row before the home fans. Most players smiled as the cameraman passed them. The exceptions, naturally, were Sakusa, scowling slightly friendlier, and Atsumu, sticking his tongue out with a wink. A cheer erupted from the stadium, ever the fan favorite. The corners of Kita’s mouth twitched.

 

Kita covered the pot with its cast iron lid and lowered the broiler’s flame to simmering temperature. He slid to the sink to wet a rag.

 

“Just relax and watch, Shin-chan.” His grandmother smiled, plucking the rag out of his hands. He began to protest but she just winked as she wiped down the counter top. 

 

“Meian has won the coin toss! First serve goes to the Black Jackals!” The commentator declared as Kita settled into a bar stool. 

 

“We’re certainly eager to see Miya’s first serve of the day.” The color commentator added as the players took to the court. “He is well known around the league for his three monster serve styles. Currently, he’s tied for first with the Adlers’ Kageyama for the most service aces this season.”

 

Atsumu stood at the white end-line. One step. Two. Three. Four. He turned on his heel. Ball gripped in one palm. The other arm raised, wrist swirled, then fist clenched.

 

Silence.

 

Jump. Hit. Float.

 

The ball stuttered before crashing to the court just centimetres from the Raijin outside hitter’s fingertips.

 

Atsumu cheered, both arms pointed to the sky in excitement. Kita smiled.

 

“Shin-chan.” His grandmother perched in the bar stool next to him, her short legs swinging. “Remember how I said the gods are always watchin’ you?”

 

“Of course.” He squeezed her hand gently.

 

“I meant it.” 

 

Atsumu made his second walk up. One step. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Heel turn. Crowd silenced. 

 

Run. Jump. Hit. 

 

Another service ace. Another celebration. This time, a wink towards the camera, forefinger and thumb pointed in a heart for his legion of fans.

 

“What do the gods see?” Kita asked.

 

“A man in love.”






Kita did things properly.

 

Homework. Volleyball. Socialization. Cleaning.

 

Everything completed diligently, correctly, efficiently.

 

Well.

 

Everything except one thing.

 

After their defeat to Karasuno, days glided by. Training carried on as usual. A spattering of practice games. Mostly other Hyougo teams. Itachiyama made the long drive from Tokyo for a weekend mini-camp.

 

Kita felt a pang of jealousy watching Atsumu sling his arm around Sakusa, laughing at the way he flinched.

 

As if he had any right to feel jealous.

 

"I like Omi-kun a lot, Kita-san." Atsumu said during their cooldown stretches after practice one evening.

 

"Oh?" Kita spoke dryly, not interested. 

 

"Yeah." Atsumu rotated his hips into a supine twist. "He's a bit of a dick… but so am I. It'd be a friendship made in hell."

 

"Just stay out of trouble."

 

Atsumu glanced back at him, mid-stretch, a tiny smile on his lips. "At least yer always gonna have m'back."

 

In February, Kurosu named Atsumu captain. Or rather, he’d named Suna captain, a declaration quickly declined, to no one’s surprise.

 

However, Kita hadn't left after nationals ended.

 

"It takes nearly a month to develop a consistent routine." He said when questioned. "But only seconds to destroy it. I want to stay strong."

 

So he allowed himself a few more fleeting months of training. Practicing for a sport he never intended to play again.

 

Atsumu was captain, but perhaps only in name.

 

"Kita-san?" There was a knock on the open door of the club room. 

 

Kita had retreated here after the ceremony ended for a chance to say goodbye.

 

Goodbye to the posters of Giba and Romero. Goodbye to the spot in the corner where the twins had left an indent in the wall during a spat. Goodbye to the sturdy desk he'd spent hours working at. Goodbye to the wide window ledge that permanently housed a birds nest. Goodbye to the banner tacked to the wall, proudly displaying years of names.

 

We don't need memories.

 

Kita smiled as he uncapped a sharpie.

 

He trailed his finger from player name to player name. Tapped the names of his two captains from first and second year. Stopped when he reached his fellow third years.

 

They didn't need memories. But he was glad they kept these.

 

Aran wrote his name there this morning. Oomimi several months ago. Akagi in the middle of February, when he'd finally decided his kouhai was ready to take over as libero.

 

Kita. Five strokes. Shin. Nine strokes. Suke. Four strokes.

Captain.

2010 - 2013

 

He returned the marker to the desk and turned to face the door.

 

"Hello, Atsumu."

 

The latch clicked shut as Atsumu crossed the threshold. "Ya wanted t'see me?"

 

“Yes.” Kita fished in his right pocket, producing a key ring. Four keys. Club room key. Storage room key. Locker room key. Gym key. One kumihimo cord. Burgundy and black. He deposited it in Atsumu’s palm. “If you need spares for any of these, I gave Suna the combination to the lock box.”

 

Atsumu grinned. “What? Don'tcha trust me with the combination?”

 

“No.”

 

Atsumu twirled the kumihimo cord around his fingers. “This wasn’t here before.”

 

“It’s a gift. You can keep it when it’s your turn to say goodbye.” 

 

“Tell obaasan thank you for me.” Atsumu said as he ran a finger over the braid. Kita noted the way he clearly and purposefully said obaasan instead of obahan.

 

“You’re certainly welcome to come over and thank her yourself.” Kita smiled, gesturing for Atsumu to follow him to the kit locker. Inside, the entire team’s jerseys hung from the metal bar, alternating black and white. He slipped the home captain’s jersey from its hanger and folded it neatly. “I know coach already gave this to you months ago but…” Kita passed it into Atsumu’s hands. “This is yours now.”

 

Atsumu brought the jersey to his face, a rogue tear dripping down his cheek. In the nearly two years Kita has known him, he’s never seen Atsumu cry.

 

Not after fights with Osamu that left both of them silent for days. Not after lost games that left the team heaving from exhaustion. Not after court collisions dropped him to the floor in pain.

 

“Thank you, Kita-san.” Atsumu sniffled, nose rapidly turning a vibrant pink. “I hope t’make you proud.”

 

The words bypassed Kita’s brain completely, instead finding their home in the thawing recesses of his heart. 

 

You already have, Atsumu.

 

“I believe in you.” Kita placed a hand on Atsumu’s shoulder. Light, comforting pressure. 

 

“Can I hug ya? I know you hate ‘em but…”

 

Kita took the initiative, wrapping his arms around Atsumu’s midsection and tucking his face into the curve above his collarbones. A wet drip fell on his neck and trailed down his spine as Atsumu squeezed him back. Hands fisted at his uniform suit jacket.

 

“Good luck.” Kita whispered. “I’ll be there when ya win Nationals next year.”

 

Atsumu gripped harder, nearly lifting him off the ground. “Good luck at university, captain.”

 

“I’m not your captain anymore.” 

 

The hug broke and hands found his shoulders, one still clutching the jersey. Atsumu’s eyes were red and swollen, no amount of fox grins could conceal it. So instead, he simply smiled, mochi soft. “Ya always will be.”

 

“Atsumu, I…”

 

I am so proud of you. 

 

I like you. 

 

I might even love you. 

 

I understand if you don’t feel the same.

 

“Kita, I…” Atsumu spoke at the same time, both of them pausing.

 

“Go ahead.” Kita gestured with a wave of his hand.

 

“I… I just wanted to thank ya again.”

 

Kita smiled. “Well, yer very welcome then.”

 

“What were ya gonna say?” Atsumu took a step back, draping the jersey over his shoulder. 

 

“It wasn’t important.”

 

Atsumu silently held eye contact for a long moment, before finally nodding and turning away. “I’ll letcha say bye in peace.” He hesitated at the doorway, hand resting on the frame. “See ya around, Kita-san.”

 

He bowed slightly, giving Kita a view of dark roots beginning to push their way through blonde.

 

“Bye.”

 

The door latched shut, leaving Kita alone in the quiet club room.

 

Kita did things properly.

 

He tucked his hand into his left jacket pocket.

 

Everything completed diligently, correctly, efficiently.

 

He pulled it out and stared at the button in his palm.

 

Well.

 

Everything except this.






“Thanks for doing this for me, Kita-san.” Suna smiled broadly, eyes crinkling. It warmed Kita’s heart to see his once near-permanently deadpan teammate in such high spirits. “Especially so last minute.”

 

“It’s not a problem at all.”

 

Suna glared at Iji-san, his sister’s husband, who sheepishly waved his hands in surrender “I assumed someone would know how to tie a tie.”

 

“Hey now.” Iji spoke with a kansai-ben thicker than the Miyas, if such a phenomenon could even occur. “I wore a clip-on fer m’weddin’.” 

 

Kita flipped Suna’s dress shirt collar up and draped the pale blue tie over his broad shoulders.

 

Cross the two ends, one tucked underneath, pull down, wrap and cross over knot until there are two, one final wrap, tuck the end through the knot, one final pull.

 

He brought the knot up to Suna’s neck, leaving several fingers of space for his former teammate to adjust it himself.

 

“Done.” Kita said, lowering Suna’s shirt collar.

 

“Thanks again.” Suna cracked another smile as he pulled his suit jacket on. “Is it too late to ask you to be my groomsman?”

 

Kita glanced from Suna to his brother-in-law, both in sharp navy suits. He smiled as he brushed creases out of the fabric stretched over Suna’s shoulders. “I appreciate the offer, but I have to decline.”

 

“Fair enough.” Suna tucked a handkerchief into his suit pocket, the same light blue as his tie. “In the audience you’ll get a front seat view of Osamu crying his eyes out. It’ll be cute. You should take pics.”

 

“I better get goin’, then.” Kita stood. “Don’t want all the best seats to get taken.”

 

The banquet hall was decorated simply with splashes of pale blue intermingling with navy. Of course Suna picked his team’s colors for his entire wedding, not just his suit.

 

A single “Shinsuke!” shouted alerted him to the front of the audience. Aran stood, waving, face squished in a massive smile. A mob of Inarizaki alumni greeted him, as Aran patted an empty seat next to the aisle. “We saved ya a spot.”

 

“Thank you, Aran.”

 

The final stragglers of the audience — teammates old and new, family members, friends — fell into place. He watched the Miya’s grandmother get carefully escorted to a seat in the front row and felt a pang of sadness. 

 

This was the first Inarizaki wedding.

 

His grandmother had been looking forward to his big day with his own (non-existent) fiance. He figured Osamu and Suna’s wedding was just about the next best thing.

 

“Take lots of pictures!!” She texted him earlier while at her high school reunion. “I’ll tell all my old classmates that Sami-chan is my grandson (@^◡^)”

 

The procession was simple, quick. Suna reached the dais first, settling on the right side next to his brother-in-law. He met Kita’s eye with a smile and one final nod of thanks before trailing his gaze over the rest of the audience. The Miyas’ parents and Suna’s older sister were next, taking their seats in the row in front of Kita. Suna’s nephew scampered forward clutching the ring pillow, a little too fast but no one seemed to care.

 

Finally, as the music swelled, the Miya twins emerged, arms linked. A duo of angels in crisp white suits, though no one in the audience fell for it. The devilish grin on Atsumu’s lips and the mischief that simmered in Osamu’s stormy eyes gave their true natures away.

 

Honey eyes met his as the two made their walk up to the dais. The grin faltered.

 

Kita tore his gaze away from Atsumu’s broad back to look at Suna, vibrantly smiling as he watched Osamu approach. Despite his comment earlier about his fiance crying, Kita noticed a wet sheen glisten in Suna’s eyes instead. 

 

After taking his position on the dais, Osamu faced the audience with a wicked grin. “Now, y’all know us.” He reached in front of the officiant, grasping Suna’s hand. “I wanted to jus’ elope with this aho . But Nana,” He gestured towards his grandmother. “She would’ve hunted me ‘n’ Rin for sport.”

 

“‘N’ don’tcha forget it sweetie!” She yelled as Osamu winked in her direction.

 

“What my wonderful idiot of a fiance is trying to say is, we’re not gonna hold you guys hostage for some stupidly long ceremony.” Suna laughed, squeezing Osamu’s hand.

 

“The most important thing is we’ve got a caterer at the reception.” Osamu turned to face Suna, cheeks straining from all the smiling. “If I don’t get at least four stains on this pretty white jacket, I’ve failed.”

 

Atsumu cupped his hands to his mouth. “Get on wit’ it!”

 

Kita couldn’t help but smile. Those three never changed.

 

True to their word, they quickly dove into their vows, bypassing the introductions and readings almost completely.

 

“...I give you this ring as a sign of our love, trust, and marriage...” Suna slipped the ring onto Osamu’s finger.

 

“...’N’ I give ya this ring as a symbol of our love. All that I am, I give t’ya...” Osamu clasped Suna’s hands in his own.

 

“By th’ power vested in me, I now declare ya husbands.” The officiant smiled, taking a step back. “Ya may now kiss the groom.”

 

Kita clapped as the pair leaned in to seal their marriage with a kiss. To his left, he could hear Aran sniffling. Softie.

 

After the ceremony wrapped up, Miyas Osamu and Rintarou made their grand exit together, holding hands and cackling like hyenas. From the dais behind him, Kita could feel Atsumu’s eyes boring into the back of his head.

 

“Kita.” He always liked the way Atsumu said his name. Clipped instead of drawn out. ‘Ki’ with his mouth barely open, expelling a hiss followed by a snappy ‘ta,’ tongue springboarded off his palate.

 

Aran’s hand clapped his shoulder. “See ya at the reception, Shinsuke.” A wink, before his longtime friend herded the rest of the Inarizaki boys out of the banquet hall.

 

“It… It’s good t’see ya here.” Atsumu stood before him bearing a tentative smile. “I know it’s a long drive t’ Osaka.”

 

Why was he nervous?

 

It’s not like this was his wedding.

 

“It was only a few hours. I wouldn’ta missed this for the world.”

 

“I think we’re all a bit lucky. Samu wanted t’ have it in Tokyo, but… Nana always gets what she wants in the end.” Kita had to wonder if the twins’ Nana and his own grandmother were classmates back in the day. A couple of troublemakers. A hand found the small of his back, pressing gently. “C’mon, we should get t’ the reception before Samu eats everythin’.”

 

“Well, it is his weddin’.”

 

Atsumu led him towards the exit. “If ya could even call that a weddin’.” Smile betraying his tone of voice. “Never expected m’baby brother t’get married before me… ‘n’ ‘specially not t’ Suna!”

 

Baby brother.  

 

“Jealousy isn’t a good look on you, Atsumu-kun.”

 

Crimson painted Atsumu’s cheeks. “Yer so mean t’me, Kita-san!”

 

“I thought you didn’t care what people thought of you?” Kita grinned, tiny, cheeky.

 

"I… well…" Atsumu stammered.

 

Inhale. 

 

Exhale.

 

Kita slipped a tentative arm around Atsumu's waist.

 

Inhale.

 

Exhale.

 

"I guess there are exceptions t' every rule." Atsumu laughed, nervousness dripping off his tongue.

 

Atsumu released his hold before hopping down the first step, leaving him face to face with Kita. “It really is good t’see ya. It’s been too long.”  

 

“It was only six months. That isn’t so bad.”

 

Honey brown eyes crinkled as Atsumu smiled. One canine longer. Tiny incisor gap.

 

All his old friends gathered in one place for the first time in years. His brother now married to their best friend.

 

True happiness.

 

"Felt like a damn lifetime t' me."

 

It still wasn't enough.

 

Atsumu always wanted more.

 

Hands returned to waists as they walked down the sidewalk towards the reception hall. 

 

A comfortable silence.

 

Kita recalled all the knee bobbing and fingernail nibbling every time the two of them were alone in a quiet room.

 

But this Atsumu? He stared straight ahead, gaze unwavering and strong. A soft smile on his profile. Kita couldn't help but glance up at him every few steps.

 

Atsumu stopped outside the hall door. "Kita." There it was again. Hiss, springboard tongue. He met Kita's eye expectantly. "I have somethin' I wanted t' tell you."

 

Omi-kun 'n' I have been datin' in secret ‘n’ we jus' got engaged.

 

"Yes?"

 

"Do ya remember our convo back in high school?"

 

"Which one? We had many, y'know."

 

"About the future. What I was gonna do for the rest of my life."

 

"Ah."

 

I'm movin' to a team in Italy, I'll be leavin' Japan 'n' never comin' back.

 

"Ya told me that… it's better to jus' go for it." Atsumu fiddled with his fingers. "Ya could drown, sure… but…"

 

"You could swim, instead."

 

"Exactly." Atsumu met his eye. "Kita-san, I understand if ya don't feel the same way but I… I've liked ya since high school. Just never had th' balls to do somethin' 'bout it."

 

Oh.

 

Oh.

 

What?

 

"So, that's that." Atsumu grew scarlet, vibrant against his white suit. "Like I said, I get it if ya…"

 

Enough of this.

 

Kita grabbed him by the collar.

 

Honey brown eyes grew wide with fear.

 

Inhale.

 

Exhale.

 

Atsumu was yanked down, face to face, eye to eye.

 

Kita snapped on his goggles and dove into that deep end.

 

No tentativeness. No hesitation.

 

Those were left on the desk of the Inarizaki club room, nestled between keys and a captain's jersey.

 

Atsumu flinched, back going ramrod straight, as Kita met his lips. Then relaxed, shoulders falling, knees buckling.

 

Kita watched, eyes open, as Atsumu reciprocated. The blissful curve of his dark eyelashes. The arms that found themselves resting on Kita's shoulders. 

 

The way he spoke his own name against Kita's lips. 'A' mouth open. 'Tsu' exhale. 'Mu' lips back and forward again, quick succession. Again and Again.

 

Split apart.

 

Inhale.

 

Exhale.

 

Atsumu opened his eyes to meet Kita's. 

 

Soft fire flickered. A bonfire. A lit hearth. Home.

 

"Kita…" He started.

 

And for the second time, he was interrupted, pulled forward by his collar.

 

Tilted sideways.

 

Open.

 

Chasing a six year and three month long dream.

 

Fingers trailed through the soft hairs of Atsumu's undercut, pushing him deeper into Kita’s mouth.

 

Kita knew Atsumu had more experience, but that broad body went slack under his touch. He released the shirt in his grasp, migrating his hand to Atsumu's jaw.

 

He pushed it away, gently. Atsumu reluctantly separated, still chasing Kita's bottom lip with his teeth as they parted.

 

A forehead met his, pale blonde hair brushing against skin.

 

"Atsumu, I…" Kita whispered. "I have somethin' for you."

 

Fingers gently carded through his hair as Kita fished his wallet from his suit pocket.

 

"Hold out your hand." One slipped from its position behind Kita's neck, laid bare between them.

 

He unzipped the coin pocket and dipped his fingers in.

 

"I'm a pro athlete, Kita. I don't need yer money." Atsumu laughed.

 

"It's Shinsuke to you." Kita said, sternly.

 

"Shinsuke." He echoed, the syllables hissing gently through his lips.

 

"And it's not money."

 

Kita slipped his wallet back into his pocket.

 

One hand was placed beneath Atsumu's, steadying it. 

 

"Close your eyes." Kita spoke softly.

 

Honey brown drifted shut. Kita curled Atsumu's fingers over his palm.

 

"It's a promise."

 

Eyes opened again, meeting Kita's.

 

Gaze drifted downwards to the object he held.

 

"Is this…" Atsumu whispered, plucking it between his thumb and pointer finger.

 

"Mhm."

 

Small, no larger than a yen.

 

Metal, with embossed grooves forming a fox head.

 

Long ago plucked from his school uniform and held safely ever since.

 

"All this time?" Tears tracked down Atsumu's cheeks.

 

This had been only the second time he'd ever seen Atsumu cry.

 

He nodded as Atsumu sniffled.

 

A kiss was pressed to the corner of his mouth. Soft, tear streaked.

 

"Um, erm. I hate to interrupt…"

 

They turned to see a tall, dark brown haired man leaning out the front door of the reception hall. One of Suna's, or rather Rintarou's, cousins, Kita assumed.

 

"But they're wanting to start the reception and…"

 

Atsumu wiped his wet eyes with his handkerchief. "They need th' best man, huh?" He smiled, twinges of irritation marked the corners of his mouth.

 

"Sorry." Rintarou's cousin bowed his head sheepishly before tucking back inside.

 

"Well."

 

"Well."

 

Kita reached out his hand to grasp Atsumu's, twining their fingers together. 

 

"Let's go."