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How Many "I Love You's" Does it Take

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            It was hot.

            That had been the first thought to pass through Daichi’s head as he dived to receive the volleyball for the umpteenth time. It was so unbearably hot. The sweat dripping off him was sticky and uncomfortable and his shirt had clung onto him like life support. The sound of floorboards creaking from sneakers and the balls bouncing on the floor spread through the gym like a symphony. Although it was so mother fucking hot, Daichi couldn’t help but relish in it.

            The sound, taste, smell of volleyball permeated the air and damn what Daichi would do to get that smell as a cologne.

            Okay, maybe not a cologne, cause it’s still gross.

            He used the bottom of his shirt to wipe off the residue sweat from his forehead, glancing at his other teammates. Tanaka was on his game today, hitting each spike with incredible accuracy and ball control. Nishinoya was always focused and the talent shone even more with each receive block he did. Asahi—the usually timid Asahi—was leading with his serious, concentrated actions in each spike he gave with his power and height. Kageyama and Hinata were arguing—what else is new – over what play they should practice on which Daichi will let pass for now. The rest, including Daichi, were working on diving receives, which he pretty much had down pat. Next was the little practice game they had.

            It’s his last year, he’ll make every second count.


            Daichi turned to face the owner of the exhausted sound. He noticed Sugawara—Koushi—bent over, hands on his knees and sweating up a storm, trying to catch his breath. His pink lips were parted, letting out breath after breath. Even as he was exhausted, Sugawara still had that resolute look in his chocolate brown eyes. He was still fighting in his own way to play as a part of Karasuno’s setter. Daichi couldn’t be prouder.

            “Hey,” Daichi smiled walking over to Suga, picking up his water bottle. “I had put some ice in there before I left home. It’s probably melted by now but it’s still pretty cool so drink up.”

            Suga blinked, panting lightly, chest rising up and down. He stood up straight and looked between the bottle and Daichi. A brilliant smile replaced the initial stunned look, the mole on his left eye crinkling with the grin, and he took the bottle from Daichi’s hands, fingertips brushing against his own lightly.

            “Daichi, I love you.” He gasped with a small chuckle, taking a swig of the bottle and gulping down as much as he could.

            “I know…”

            Daichi swallowed, as if drinking with him, his heart beating right out of his chest. Suga—he just said—love? Daichi hoped he wasn’t flushing. Especially over something as little as a friend appreciating a kind gesture from another friend. He said “I love you” but not the love you—love you way. He said it in the you’re-a-great-friend way. So, get a fucking grip, Daichi.

            “You okay?” Sugawara questioned softly. “You seem flushed? Feeling sick?”

            “No, no,” Daichi laughed it off turning away slightly. “It’s just this heat.”

            “Yeah, it’s so hot today! Ugh!”

            It was so hot today.



            “See you guys later,” Daichi waved at his classmates, leaving the campus grounds and walking home. There was no practice today to ease everyone’s minds before the preliminaries. All Daichi really wanted to do was practice but that would just encourage a few rambunctious first years to overwork themselves even more than they usually do. He walked across the familiar road he grew up on, taking in the fresh air and easing his nerves.


            Daichi blinked and turned to see Suga staring at him with surprise before it softened to a friendly smile.

            “Hey, captain, thought you’d practice a little more.” Suga joked, taking his place besides Daichi’s side –where he belongs.

            No, Daichi, no. Bad.

            “You know I can’t risk an injury right before a big game.” Daichi chuckled, trying to ignore the warmth of Suga’s arm brushing up against his own.

            “Oh, believe me I know.” Suga teased pushing his shoulder against Daichi’s playfully with a grin on his beautiful face. “That’s been, like, one of your biggest fears since the first year.”

            Daichi rolled his eyes, no animosity behind the action and gently shoved Suga back. “Yeah, yeah you know me so well.

            “I do, and you know the rest of us so well too.” Suga smiled.

            “Yeah definitely.” He grinned and playfully added. “I also know that you need to listen to Born This Way from Lady gaga before the night of a game to keep you calm.”

            A gorgeous blush found its way onto Sugawara’s face, his eyes widening in embarrassment and a laugh falling from his perfect mouth. “Oh, shut up, Daichi! It works! You cannot deny the power of Gaga!”

            “What does that even mean?”

            “You’re too immature to understand~!”

            Daichi scoffed out an amused laugh. “Right, I’m the immature one. Meanwhile Tanaka still picks fights with fifteen-year-old volleyball kids while also putting on a hair mask in the shower.”

            Sugawara let out a laugh, his body shaking, and his eyes shut tightly, trying to hold back the small tears. The twinkle in the sound had Daichi smiling as well, watching Suga’s happiness become his own.

            “Oh my—oh my god! I forgot he did that! He’s bald! Why does he need a hairnet?!” Suga laughed out leaning onto Daichi for support, and he thanked Tanka over and over again for being as ridiculous as he was just so that this moment could happen.

            “I don’t know, and I really don’t plan to find out else I fear I’ll lose braincells before graduation.” He chuckled back, being sturdy enough to take Suga’s weight.

            He was…He was really light.

            “I love you, Daichi.” Suga’s laughs dying down to content sighs. He looked up to meet Daichi’s own eyes, with a softer, gentler smile. “You always make me laugh.”

            Daichi cursed his heartbeat for skipping again because of that fucking sentence and smiled in what he hoped to be enthusiastic and not at all hopelessly in love.

            “I know.”



            The smell of the gym and Air Salonpas filled the area as players, camera crews, and viewers had ventured in left and right. Even with the stench of stress and restlessness in the air, Daichi was incredibly calm. Their first match was about to start, and the rest of the team were all on edge. Hinata was in the bathroom and Asahi looked like he was about to pass out, but the rest were all just eager to get started. Daichi breathed in slowly, looking over at each one to make sure they were doing okay. Kageyama, as to be expected, was calm and collected before a match. Tsukishima was the same. Yamaguchi didn’t look so hot though. His eyes caught Suga’s who was gently fanning himself looking left and right and trying to keep everyone else calm.

            Daichi caught the way Suga’s hands trembled and knew he was just as nervous as anyone here. Feeling for him, he went over and placed a hand on the surprisingly broad shoulders of his—friend? Are they still considered friends? –and smiled at the small jolt of surprise coming from Suga. Those big brown eyes looked up at Daichi, most likely shocked he even noticed. But Daichi will always notice. All he sees is Suga.

            You’ll do great. You’ll be stunning out there. You always are. You take my breath away when you play and you’ll take the breath away of everyone else.

            “Feeling nervous?” Daichi smiled, throwing those thoughts aside.

            “Is it that obvious?” Suga sighed, fanning himself more. Daichi shrugged and kept his hand on that same shoulder.

            “Yeah, but if it’s any consolation, Asahi’s probably more nervous than you.”

            “Isn’t he always?” Suga laughed. “What about you? Are you nervous?”

            “No,” Daichi thought for a moment. “Cause I trust you guys. And I have you all to back me up. So, know that we’re here to back you up too.” I’m here to back you up.

            Suga stayed silent for a moment before breathing in a large gust of air and slapping his cheeks with an echoing smack. Daichi jumped at the impact and before he could worry over the red handprints on Suga’s plump cheeks, he turned to look at him with that astoundingly bright smile.

            “Thanks, Daichi,” He exhaled, shakily laughing. “I love you, you know. Couldn’t handle this without you.”

            Fuck, stop, he doesn’t mean it like that.

            Daichi hoped his smile was reassuring and sincere, because he really didn’t fucking feel like it. He was the worst person on earth for falling in love with his best friend.

            “I know.”



            Fuck, Daichi’s cheek hurts. It hurts so fucking bad. Actually, his entire face is throbbing, what the fuck? He lost a tooth, right? Shit, he lost a tooth. He needs to head back to the gym, his team needs him. They need him.

            “Take it easy, Daichi.” That was Takeda-sensei, right? Yeah, it definitely was. It would probably easier to recognize if everything didn’t hurt.


            He knew that voice anywhere. Daichi cracked open his eyes, the blurry figure clearing up to reveal Sugawara looking over the nurse’s bed he was in, worry and concern written all over his face.

            Daichi must have taken a nap.

            “Listen, the doctor said you’ll be okay, Daichi.” Takeda-sensei smiled. “You should be healed good by the end of the match—”

            “No,” Daichi grunted, hating the dry metallic taste in his mouth. “No, I’m playing. I’m fine.”

            “No, Daichi,” Suga gently pushed Daichi back to lie down on the bed. A firm glare set on his gorgeous face, his plump lips quivering. It wouldn’t have taken much to make him lie down anyway but it still sent a pang of irritation through him.

            “I can play, Suga.” Daichi muttered trying to keep his head straight. Honestly, he sounded worse than he actually felt. “I can still play, so let me—”

            “No, Daichi.” Takeda-sensei cut off, his face turning frighteningly serious. The tone left no room for discussion. “I’m going to go speak to the doctor in the other room. You’re not leaving here.” He then turned his head to face Suga. “Make sure you keep an eye on him, Suga.”

            “Of course, Takeda-sensei.”

            With another scolding look, Takeda left, shutting the door behind him and leaving Suga with Daichi. It was always those two in the end. Those two together. But right now, Daichi couldn’t even stand it.

            “Daichi, you know you can’t go back out there.” Suga’s gentle voice usually would be so soothing any other moment. But right now, it felt like dousing alcohol on a wound. “You got hit bad and everyone out there is fighting—!”

            “Exactly,” Daichi hissed, wincing at the sudden pain. “I need to be out there. I need to be playing volleyball right now and supporting my team. I’m the captain!”

            “It’s exactly why you’re the captain that you need to stay here!” Suga spat, shoulders bunched up and face turning red in anger. “Are you serious right now?! I understand how you feel but--!”

            “No, you don’t Suga!” The words were spilling out of Daichi’s mouth, but he just couldn’t find it in himself to stop. “You don’t! We’re so fucking close—so close to nationals and yet something always fucking happens! If I can’t even support my team, what the fuck am I doing on the team?!”

            “You are supporting the team, you big jerk!” They were practically screaming now. “You are! You being here, being treated—is all they—is all we want! We wouldn’t let you back in regardless because that’s how much we need you. We need you in top condition and right now, you’re not!” Suga let out a frustrated sigh, running his hands through silver locks. Daichi couldn’t take this anymore. Not when frustration from missing the game, from being injured, from not being able to be in a fucking room with Suga without thinking of kissing his stupidly beautiful face, was on his mind.

            “You know I love you, Daichi, but sometimes you can be—”

            There’s that cursed phrase again. That stupid phrase. That eight lettered sentence that always drove Daichi crazy hearing it from the object of his affection, knowing it meant something completely different.

            “Can you stop saying that?!

            Suga snapped his head towards him, flabbergasted at the sudden raise of volume that even Daichi didn’t even know he was capable of. But he wasn’t stopping, even if the little voice in the back of his head was begging him to.

            “Stop—just stop saying you love me! Because you have no idea what it’s doing to me and that’s the worst part!” Daichi’s face probably mirrored the anguished—angry tone in his voice. But he just couldn’t do it anymore.

            “You keep saying you love me.” A cruel laugh escaped his lips. “Love me huh? You just don’t get it—!”

            “Daichi what in the world are you talking about—?”

            “You don’t love me, Suga!” –Not the way that I do! Not the way I want! – “It’s annoying! It’s frustrating, aggravating, irritating—do you need me to pull out an entire fucking thesaurus?! Just stay away from me!

            Before he even processed what had just came out of his own mouth, Daichi saw the tears well up in Suga’s eyes. The angry heartbroken look on his face said it all and before Daichi could even beg for forgiveness, Suga stood up, the chair clattering behind him before gaining balance. He wiped his eyes, scrubbing away any evidence of grief, and sneered.

            “When you stop acting like a fucking child, come see me.”

            “Wait, Suga—”

            But it was too late. Before Daichi could make up for anything, Suga had slammed the door. The sickening silence right after had added onto the thick feeling in his throat.

            Daichi swallowed, eyes flitting around as if trying to find an escape. But he couldn’t. There was no rewind button. No clever Scooby-doo trap door. There was no running from it.

            He broke Suga’s heart.

            You’re such a jackass, Daichi.

            “I know,” He whispered to himself, clutching his head that was throbbing even more than ever. “I know…”



            Turns out, all of Daichi’s worries in his borderline concussed state were all irrational. The team did fine. Just like he should have known. Except he didn’t and instead, him and Suga were pretending nothing was wrong between them in front of the rest of the team. Because if even a hint of them fighting was picked up on, then the rest of the team would be restless. He knows this because the last time he ate the last bean bread, Suga didn’t talk to him for a straight week and that had been torture for not only him, but for the rest of the team as well.

            God, he loved him.

            He needed to fix this. He really, really needed to fix this. Where would he even start? What would he even say? God, Daichi really fucked it up this time. But how the hell was he gonna approach this? He’s never been so indecisive—hell he’s not indecisive period—but here he was, thinking of ways to appease Suga like Daichi was Zeus who cheated on Hera for the billionth time.

            Okay, history analogies were not helping.

            It had been two days since the both of them were caught conversing alone. And Daichi couldn’t even say they were on friendly terms in front of the others. Most of the time, Suga didn’t say anything to him and he didn’t say anything back. Only speaking when addressed to or talking to the others rather than each other.

            Two fucking days, and Daichi couldn’t take it anymore. They were about to go to play against Shiratorizawa and having this fight on his mind? It was killing him. As the others were distracted, talking and trying to locate Hinata, Daichi put his plan into action.

 Before Suga could react, he quickly took his arm, pulling him away from the others as they prepared for one of the hardest games of their life. He needed to fix this. Once they were at a secluded part by the stairs, Suga yanked his arm away from Daichi like he had just been burned.

            That stung, but fair since he deserved it.

            “You brute” Suga hissed out, eyes slitting dangerously. Daichi really had to give himself props for not flinching. “You don’t just pull me around like some fucking rag doll. You have some nerve…!”

            “I know!” Daichi quickly put his hands up in a surrender motion, hopefully his frantic voice would mitigate Suga’s well deserved indignation. “I know,” He inhaled, the breath filling his lungs with courage. “I’m sorry, Suga. I’m sorry for being a brute a—a jerk, an asshole, all of the above.”

            Once Suga’s shoulders relaxed, and his eyebrow quirked, Daichi took that as a sign to continue. 

            “I was a complete dick to you and the injury wasn’t helping—not that that’s an excuse cause it’s not. Look I—” He groaned quietly, running his hands through his hair to hopefully pull together some fucking braincells. “I’m so sorry…for what I said. No one deserves that, especially not you who is just so important to me. And—I didn’t mean what I said—at all, about you saying—” He swallowed down the nervous ball in his throat. “That.”

            Suga bit his bottom lip, the sinful action not going unnoticed to Daichi’s eye. He tapped his foot, looking outside the window, most likely thinking of different ways to torture Daichi dry before forgiving him. He suddenly stopped the frantic movements and faced Daichi, dedication in his eyes.

            “You mean when I say, I love you?” He said, the cold tone melting away into something more baffled.

            “Yeah,” Daichi cleared his throat. “Yeah that.”

            “Why does that bother you so much, Daichi?” Suga whispered, the puzzled expression only gaining more and more prominence. “Why did that make you so angry?”

            That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it.

            “It’s not that—It’s not that It bothered me, or it made me angry. I was more upset at myself because—” Here it comes Daichi, it can’t be any worse than losing a fucking volleyball match against Shiratorizawa.

            Working up any muster of grit, tenacity, and courage, Daichi spoke.

            “It’s because I love you.” That felt so good. Letting it out after three years of holding it in. He needs to say it again just so all of the weight on him leaves. “I love you Suga.”

            “I know,” Suga choked out a laugh of disbelief. “I love you too—”

            “No, no, no—” Daichi shook his head, trying to explain himself more clearly. “I mean I love you—I love you. Not I love you. Like romantically, I love you.”

            Suga blinked once. Twice.

            Daichi held his breath for the look of disgust, the harsh words of rejection, the bittersweet smile.

            “Yeah, I know, idiot. I’ve been telling you I love you for ages. I was waiting to see how long it took for you to catch on. I already knew you had the fattest crush on me since freshman year.”

            Okay, definitely not what he was expecting. His jaw was touching the floor at this point because what the fuck?           

            “I—what?! What do you mean you knew?! How the hell did you know?! And how the hell was I supposed to know you meant ‘I love you’ in the romantic sense?! Who the fuck just says it out right like that?!” Daichi has never felt this stumped since his favorite international volleyball team lost in the semi-finals when he was ten.

            Suga laughed, the beautiful twinkle returning. The embarrassment rushing to Daichi’s cheeks just proved to show how both enamored and annoyed he was at his best friend and future boyfriend if all goes well.

            And it looks like it was going well.

            “You’re so dumb, Daichi.” He leaned in, placing his soft lips against Daichi’s own, eyes closed, and so beautiful. However once Daichi blinked, Suga was gone.

            He smiled again, expression lighting with happiness and content.

            “Take me out on a date when we win.”

            Daichi, in a daze from that kiss, sighed, almost dopily. Blinking rapidly, he snapped out of his haze and grabbed Suga by the waist, dipping his head to cover the surprised gasp with a kiss, much more strong, passionate, and full of love than the one before.

            Their mouths moved together fluidly, knowing each other like the back of their hands. It had that awkward clumsy moment in the beginning, like any first kiss, except it disappeared in no time because that’s just how well they worked together.

            Daichi and Suga were two halves of a whole and he will never be the one to split them again.

            With a wet pop, He let go of Suga, proud to be the one to put the dazed look on the other’s face for once.

            “I’ll take you out as many times as you want when we win.” A small smirk lit up his own face, leaning in again to kiss Suga’s temple. “Anything for you, Koushi.”

            Suga chuckled, the disoriented look fading into one filled with affection. “Good boy, you’re learning.”

            “Oh, shut up,” Daichi laughed.

            “Daichi-san! Suga-san!” Tanaka’s booming voice called out from the floor beneath them. “Man, where are those two?!”

            Suga bit his bottom lip, failing at holding back that damned smile, and met Daichi’s eyes with a lidded look. “We’re being called, aren’t we captain?”

            “I believe we are, vice-captain.” Daichi teased back as Suga pulled away slowly. Sending a wink, the little minx walked down the stairs in slow playful movements.

            “Better hurry up then, captain. We have a game to win.”

            Daichi chuckled, heart full and more determined than ever to win, now that he finally has Sugawara at his side—no that wasn’t right. He’s always had him. But now—It was just a little different...

            “Hey, Koushi,”

            Once Suga looked up from the bottom of the stairs, Daichi sent him a wide grin and said once more, so the other knew, so there weren’t any more misunderstandings, so he could just say it,

            “I love you.”