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The Stages Of Love

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One day in class, Kita learned something interesting. It was in literature class, and while Kita is placed in an advanced class, he doesn’t necessarily have a specific passion for one subject. He works hard and studies reasonably to get good grades. Unlike some of his team members, he values his studies and practice equally. 

 

The teacher, Saeko-sensei, had been speaking about the classic greek literature and its influences on the world. She spoke about how it's connected back to the empire, how the culture flourished, how the philosophers consumed the books all before its eventual end, as the world expanded and times advanced forward. In this discussion, she brought up one of the beliefs of the ancient greek’s view on love.

 

“Ancient Greeks believed there was more than one form of love. Sometimes, these forms of love could even be considered stages of love,” Saeko-sensei commented, peering beyond her glasses frames. "Many people tend to connect some."

 

To Kita, he didn't care too much about any of it, but it was apart of the curriculum by the way Saeko-sensei started writing down the title of their new notes, 'The Seven Types Of Love - Greek Beliefs'. As the chalk ashes fell and the chalk stick shortened, the lead of pencils scrambled down on papers to write down their notes. Organization and proper copying is key to great notes. It can be quite time-consuming and difficult at times, but it's worth it to him.

 

The more effort you put into something, the better the quality of the end project is. At least, to him, it does. 

 

"You'll see these types of loves in all of life!" Saeko-sensei grinned, placing the now half-stick of chalk back on the railing of the chalkboard. Opening up her guidebook, folding the rest of the pages against the back cover, she smiled onward. "I doubt none of you haven’t experienced majority, if not all, of these forms of loves. You may be teenagers, but you are third-years. You're still people with your own personality, experiences, and your own connections. Same as any other young adult. The only difference between you and them is a few months and a graduation ceremony." 





Stage 1: Storge

 

It was one sunny day. The first day of school had went by smoothly. Syllabuses had been passed out, names ticked off, and new-formed relationships were beginning to open doors for many. It was his second year of highschool while getting ready to practice with his team, two bustling kids flew through the large metal doors. There stood two identical black-haired kids. They screamed new. 

 

“We want to join the volleyball club!” One with ambitious eyes and a demanding grin said, stepping before the other. Kita noticed his fingers were clasped around his brother’s hand tightly who was practically indifferent to it all. “Please let us join, I promise we’re good!” 

 

“Well, why don’t you tell us your name first?” Their captain laughed, walking his way over to the twins. He smiled down at them, tilting his head to the side. “So, who are you punks?”

 

Before the loud-mouthed one could open his mouth to speak, the door slammed open once again by Kita’s close friend, Aran Ojiro. He was out-of-mouth and looked a little annoyed, despite his pleasant demeanor. He brought his hands high and smacked them both on the head at the same time, making the two obvious first-year whine, 

 

“That hurt Ojiro-san!” The bratty one complained again, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand. “What was that for, eh?”

 

“Running off again!” Aran scolded them, shaking his head. “Sorry Captain, these two are old teammates of mine. They bumped into me and we were gonna head here together. I had to change but these two scuffled off without even waiting for me!”

 

“Ooh, eager little fellows huh?”

 

“Ojiro-san, I didn’t do it on purpose! ‘Tsumu forced me!” The silent one finally spoke up, pouting as he raised their hands that were locked around each other as proof. 

 

The Captain laughed. Kita noticed how everyone was distracted from gathering their needed items for practice, their eyes glued to the new members to the team. They all knew the Captain didn’t have any heart to say no to anyone who wanted to be on the volleyball team, especially when it isn’t that popular really. 

 

“These are the Miya twins,” Aran said as placed his hand on each of their head, ruffling up their hair much to their dismay. “The one on the right is Atsumu and the other is Osamu.” 

 

“Well, since you have the same surname, we’ll just have to make you feel special and call you by your first name!” The Captain joked, “Well, welcome to the team then. Get ready to work hard.” 

 

“Y-yes sir!” Both of the twins this time around agreed immediately, following The Captain around as he began to introduce him to each member of the team. 

 

“And that’s another second-year, Kita Shinsuke.” His Captain calls out to him. To be polite, he steps closer to the twins and looks down at them. They’re not that short, in fact, he’s sure they’ll grow taller than him. They’re almost at eye-level now. 

 

“Are ya a wing spiker?!” Atsumu jumped at the chance to ask him that. 

 

“Yeah, I am.” Kita said as he shook his hand. 

 

Atsumu grinned, “I’ll definitely set to ya so don’t hold back on me!” 

 

“Oh you wanna be a setter huh?” The Captain asked, grinning. “I like that ambition of yours, kiddo!” 

 

‘Set to me?’ Kita thought silently, looking into the excited brown eyes of Atsumu Miya, their new team member. 

 

“Well, welcome to the family you two!” Aran laughed with a large grin on his face. 

 

"Everyone here has a family, no? Please raise your hand if you don't." Saeko-sensei jokes, flickering her eyes around. She chuckles, "Good! Wouldn't want to offend any of you younglings. Now, on the topic of family, with your family, love is usually interconnected with the idea of family. It's the people who shaped you, raised you, taught you, and made you feel like you belong when no one else was there. They don't have to be blood-related at all, after all, some people's families aren't the greatest. We can realize that in a modern age."

 

"However, on a basic sense, family means belonging. Any biology teacher will tell you all about how it goes back centuries, all shown in animals of all kinds and the formation of humans," Saeko-sensei said as she picked up the chalk stick, writing down the main important points of her lecture. "It is the love between siblings, the love between a parent and a child and vice versa basically." 

 

"Any questions?" Saeko-sensei turned back with a grin, watching the students hurry to write down the notes for the newest page in their notebooks. "Good! I'll wait for you guys to catch up then." 

 

Kita smiled, looking at the two twins scramble around the court as they all ran together. He watched carefully as the newbies practiced their spiking and serving. He could tell they were talented, full of spirit, and ready to shine, even if they needed a little polishing. They were bound to overtake them all. 

 

He could tell that much as he watched the greedy first-year set to his brother as the said male hit the Mikasa ball sharply. 

 

He couldn’t wait to see him grow.

 

Stage 2: Philia

 

“Ay, Kita-san, isn’t ‘Samu stupid?” Atsumu, with a fresh haircut paired with a bright dye of yellow, walked into the gym, calling out to him. “We finally can get a haircut, hooray, and this dumbass gets the boringest color ever!”

 

He was tying his shoelaces when Atsumu walked up to him. He noted the smug grin that seemed to be glued to his face longer and longer each day that passed him as he got better and better. He ended up taking the starting place of setter from their third-year, not that Kita disagrees with the decision. Atsumu is better at setting for others and he knows how to draw the best out of each hitter, not wasting time on fitting their needs even when it ends up with his teammates distasting him. To him, all that mattered was getting the best spike possible in because his sets. 

 

“I am not!” 

 

“Ya are too!” 

 

‘Not this again…’ Kita sighed as he finished the knot before standing up on his face. He saw Osamu who had gotten a haircut too, it was eerily similar to Atsumu. It wasn’t like their hair had changed that much at all. They just had undercuts now with shorter hair. The only major difference was the change of color in a large section of their hair. Unlike Atsumu, who was boldly an almost neon yellow, Osamu’s was a more calmer gray that blended well with his natural dark hair. ‘They go on for ages nowadays.’

 

“Cut it out you two,” Kita huffed, facing them both. “If you plan to be regulars, you don’t be constantly bickering.”

 

“Coach doesn’t say so, long as we score points!” Atsumu grinned cheekily, which didn’t faze Kita in the slightest as he stared blankly in retort. 

 

“Either way,” Kita said. “Osamu’s hair does not look boring. It looks just as fine as yours.”

 

“Fine?! It looks great to me!” Atsumu huffed like a child. Was he fishing for compliments? And did he expect Kita to give him one? 

 

“Are you two bothering Kita again?” Aran walked over to them, water bottle in hand. He looked at them with an eyebrow raised, skeptical of whatever would come out of their mouths. 

 

“Wha - no!” Atsumu glared, frowning. Kita would beg to differ otherwise. 

 

Atsumu was always hard to deal with, even if Kita always managed to get through that thick skull of his. He was obnoxious, stubborn, and likes to hear the sound of his own voice. He had too much of an ego for a first-year really, but he was on his way to becoming a perfect setter, bound to get an award for it one of these days. 

 

Unlike Atsumu, Osamu could be very pleasant. He often got on Atsumu, even if it ended in arguments at some points, when someone else wasn’t there to make him have common sense for a few seconds in his life. He gave his all in  volleyball, just like Atsumu, and was very respectful towards others. He didn’t say anything more than necessary and almost seemed overly polite but he knew that wasn’t the case when it came to the numerous amount of times he had overhead Osamu calling Atsumu names and happily criticising his plays and behaviors.

 

He was calmer and more easier to handle at the end of the day. 

 

So when Osamu approached him while Atsumu and Aran bickered like father and son, he felt fine. Even as he pulled out his phone and asked, “Can we exchange emails, Kita-san? My brother has been annoyin’ lately about how he wants to talk to ya outside of school.”

 

“Huh?!” Atsumu, who suddenly has hearing outside of his own bubble, turns around with a flushed face. “I do not, ya - !”

 

“Why does he want my email?” Kita asks, outright. 

 

“Well, we have Aran’s. It would make sense we would have ya, wouldn’t it?” Osamu asks as he smacks Atsumu to get him under control.

Kita glances up at Atsumu. It had only been a few months but he had already grown taller than him. “Why didn’t you just ask me yourself? It seems unlike you to let your brother do the hard work.”

 

“I - It’s not that, I just didn’t know…” Atsumu seemed uncharacteristically anxious. “I didn’t know if ya considered us friends or not.” 

 

‘Friends?’

 

"Who knows the difference between platonic and romantic love?" Saeko-sensei asked as she wrote down the next topic, 'Philia', on the board.  Looking over her shoulder, she looked past Kita to the girl behind him who had her hand up. "Yes, Yukio-chan?"

 

"Isn't platonic love more like a friendship? And romantic is, well, an actual relationship?" Yukio said, unsure of if she was right or not. 

 

"Yeah! Good job, Yukio-chan!" Saeko-sensei nodded, "Platonic love is friendship. It's the idea of  having no romantic feelings for someone. You're just friends with someone, rather than being interested in them romantically or sexually."

 

"Regarding that sort of love in Greek beliefs, it's called 'philia'. The affection or love for a friend." She explained, writing a dash next to the word to write down the definition on the board. 

 

They didn’t ever really get the chance to talk outside of school. They lived in opposite directions so it’s not like they would walk home together like he does with Aran. 

 

They still spent time together within school, even outside of club time. Atsumu would poke inside his homeroom to say hi much to Kita’s teacher scolding (and Kita lecturing him later that day) whenever he ran a chore for a teacher on his floor. Sometimes, they would see each at lunch hour when they went to get drinks from the vending machine or happened to get in the same line. They would have small talk, chattering about the school lunch or their last match. Sometimes they just asked how each other was doing and how school was going for the each of them. They talked, a lot, even when they had little time just for them. Kita felt easy with him and he wanted to make sure Atsumu became a great player so he always tried to be there for him, in every way he could. 

 

He considered him a friend. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have put any effort into something meaningless. Friends care, they pay attention to you and the words you speak, letting them make an impact. They listened to you and stood beside you. 

 

“You are my friend, you both are,” Kita said plainly, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. He slipped Osamu’s phone away from his hand and typed in his contact info, including his email address but his phone number as well. In case they ever wanted to call him, you never know.  Handing it back to the wing spiker, he turned to Atsumu. “Here’s my contact, you can just copy it on your phone surely.”

 

“Right!” Atsumu nodded, smiling wide but this wasn’t one of those that had made him annoyed. It was more gentle, more happy than smug or cocky. He liked that look. He hoped Atsumu would do it more in the years to come. 



Stage 3: Eros

 

A little under a year had past. Kita was now a third-year, even the Captain of the volleyball club. Just like expected, Atsumu and Osamu were second-years now. While leaving the volleyball club together, he couldn’t help but feel different. However, he felt different towards one person specifically. 

 

Atsumu Miya.

 

He stared at the underclassmen, wondering what had changed about him. His mouth still spat out utter disrespect and taunts to everyone within range. His hair was still dyed that revolting shade of blonde same as when he joined as a first year with his brother. Was he taller maybe?

 

His body had changed, for the better obviously. He was getting more muscle everyday as he ate, although messily, proper food most of the time. He trained nonstop much to Kita's constant scolding and lecturing to remind him of his body's limits and how he might end up shortening his stamina instead of prolonging it.

 

But nothing about that had the change he felt. As he stared at him, the golden soft rays of the sunset settling down in the sky to let them know it was time to hurry home before dark, he looked...handsome. He was beautiful in a ray. The shades of oranges and reds shining on his tanned skin so nicely, framing his face sweetly. It was as if the sun itself was caressing him. 

 

It even made that mess of his hair look good on him, not that he was ugly or unattractive before. It just made him glow in a way Kita had never seen before.

 

He was smiling. He had a huge grin as he walked in front of Kita alongside his uninterested brother who kept conversation up, although he looked like he'd rather Atsumu hurry up and shut up. The soft dips in his skin where he smiled was making Kita feel fuzzy inside.

 

His soft brown eyes were golden in the sun's wake. It was as if they were glittering thanks to the rays. The soft blooming shadow that creeped down on one side of his face and his backside was beautiful. It was such a contradiction, such a clash of colors, and yet he made it look perfect. It was like he was made to be left out at the sunset, to be posed and photographed for all to see.

 

How hasn't he noted this before? It's not like he's ever ignored the fact that Atsumu was fairly popular in his grade. He had been asked out once or twice, he's for sure of that. He recalls a couple of times he overheard Atsumu complaining about it to Osamu as he sent sets his way. He remembers lecturing him about distracting others when they're practicing as it can be quite dangerous if you aren't careful.

 

He remembers Atsumu's cute pout as he looked down at his feet, probably letting his words slide right past him. He apologized in a timid voice, so unlike him while his brother was probably silently feeling smug in the background. Although, he never showed it openly. The sigh he had let out and him gently flicking Atsumu's forehead as a punishment for acting recklessly still remains trapped deep within his mind, as if it was burned there.

 

Atsumu Miya was cute. 

 

He knew that now, in hindsight. Back then, he just saw him as an overeager underclassmen the same as he was his first year. Sometimes, he feels like Atsumu hasn't changed at all, but when he looks at him like he does now, the change is obvious.

 

By the way his sentences fall smoothly and his grins get wider, he's becoming more confident in himself. Genuinely this time around. Having a big ego and being confident in oneself are completely different things. You can fake one while the other happens with continuous progress. It made his chest swell with pride a little. Not that Atsumu Miya of all people needed to know, he didn't want him to get a big head. He would never hear the end of it most likely.

 

"Yer stupid," Osamu huffed, shaking his head. Kita takes a second to glance at him. They're the same build, the same genes, the same face, even close to the same voice but Atsumu is just the more expressive of the two. However, he doesn't feel the same way towards him. Atsumu was different, despite the two being on the same path. What had happened? 

 

What changed about Atsumu?

 

As he walks, his voice loud and demanding as ever with a stupid grin that's a little more annoying every second it stays on his face, he ponders and wonders. He's frazzled by it all, by these feelings that only surround Atsumu Miya. 

 

The sunset is bright and beautiful. He can't dare to remove his eyes away from Atsumu once he's laid them back on them. Everything in him just screams the feeling of how right this is, to stare at him and feel a smile overtake the better of his senses as he looks onward. It feels good to just...like him? 

 

Oh. 

 

Kita blinks, he hadn't considered that. 

 

He hasn't really had any interest in any relationships. High school doesn't seem like the best life stage to have a serious relationship with, despite his grandmother's wants for him to already find a nice person to settle himself down with. 

 

So when?

 

When did that change? When did he start feeling different about Atsumu?

 

When did he start finding him attractive? Thinking he was beautiful, stunning? When had the small first-year he had met who was way too bold become someone he saw as a potential future, even if it was a bit unconventional? When had he started to form some kind of want for him?

 

"Typically, you see most romantic relationships formed from normal friendships right? Well, that has to happen somewhere." Saeko-sensei said with a knowing grin as she flipped through her guidebook. "There are exceptions to this world. Some even only focus on this aspect rather than the emotional component of it."

 

Kita watched as the blonde slipped off of her desk, walking over to the green built-in chalkboard. She picked up a piece of pure white chalk, unused, and started to write for notes. 

 

"Eros!" Saeko-sensei immediately turned on her heel to face the class. "It is, in the basic sense, sexual attraction. Technically it is labeled as the love of the body or physical beauty."

 

"All romantic relationships, usually, but there are expectations to this rule, including sexual attraction someway somehow. It doesn't mean anything and it's not even that big of an issue. It's just the attraction to someone's appearance. When people say they have preferences in partners, those tend to be based on the physical beauty. Such as the massive love for gingers because people find them extremely attractive, on a purely physical level."

 

'Attraction,' Kita finally ripped his eyes away from Atsumu's stunning form. 'What do I do with it? Do I have to do anything with it?'

 

He wasn't in love with Atsumu. He knows that for a fact. This wasn't love. He wasn't even sure if this was a crush. Like his sensei had pointed out during that one class period, attraction happens all the time and especially between friends. Not every friend dates every other friend they find attractive. Relationships are hard enough as it is, surely that baggage isn't any easier.

 

Attraction can lead to love, therefore, leading to a confession and either an eventual rejection or a new relationship formed. However, this was not love. This was simply... 'sexual attraction'. He'd be foolish to not realize Atsumu is attractive.

 

Attractions exists and it may dictate other people's lives, but he'd rather have sanity and understanding than chaos and misery in his life. He does not like things that are unpredictable.



Stage 4: Agape

 

They had lost at Nationals, and they had taken the loss hard. They had learned a lot from it, especially the underclassmen. Kita had sweat clinging to his skin, his uniform growing itchy and uncomfortable, and his breathing shaken. Tears had fallen, hearts ached, and shoulders grew slump, but at the end of the day, they couldn’t change the reality of what happened. They could only face it head on and choose to decide what it meant for them. 

 

For their team, they carried on as usual. They still practiced hard as they did before this match. They trained their bodies to be built for another match that was never coming, especially for a third-year. With each day, they hit spikes, threw sets, and blocked players. Kita followed his routine as usual, not letting the sadness of a loss overtake himself. Volleyball was not his long-term goal. He knows it’s just a club, one sport of many, but he still loved it. He adored it, poured his soul into it, and tried his darndest to raise the younger players to the best player they could be through endless practice and proper self-care. Even then, it was not enough. 

 

He was lucky. He had amazing upperclassmen teach him how to properly play. He had an amazing coach to educate and pave the way for him. He had amazing players who gave it their all until the very last second. They made it nationals because of all of them. He was more lucky than others, but that’s what made him cherish it even more. He was grateful for it all. 

 

It was Graduation Day, every third-year was to upon that stage and take their diploma in hand. Families would clap, cheers would be screamed, and hands shaken. 

 

“Kita-san!” A voice called over to him as he chattered with his grandma about how to celebrate at home. This was a big step into making him an adult. Who knows what else will come his way? No more routines, no more volleyball club, and no more rowdy underclassmen giving him headaches any longer. The thought made him a little sad, but he didn’t want to cry. He had already cried when they lost against Karasuno, that was one too many times. 

 

Turning his head so he could glance over his shoulder, he saw an annoying brat waving at him. A brat who was taller and tan. A brat who had won Best Setter and would end up on the All-Youth Japan team one of these days, A brat who had an ugly shade of yellow as part of his ‘hair’ and who was the best setter they had ever had despite his annoying attitude and egotistical ways. 

 

“Atsumu, what are you doing here?” Kita asked, sounding a little too shocked for his own good. He could feel his heart beating widely in his chest. The wind was rather strong today, huh? It felt so cool against his skin. It had to be the wind and not his skin flushing hot as Atsumu walked closer, grinning. 

 

“Well, it’s yer graduation right?” Atsumu said with his hands shoved his pockets, shrugging his shoulders. He had a stupid grin on his face that Kita felt was too wide for the moment. Even if he looked jolly as could be, Atsumu was way too expressive, especially with his brown eyes. The way the sun twinkled on the auburn shade that was misted in a sort of a pain. He almost looked like he was avoiding, deflecting it, with that grin of his. “Had to come and pay my respects, eh?”

 

“I suppose so,” Kita replied. He glanced over his shoulder and expected to see Osamu standing behind him, maybe with Suna or Aran, but he wasn’t. It was just Atsumu here. “Where’s your brother?”

 

“Eh...he had to go home, somethin’ ‘bout making stew and how it takes too long. I’m thinkin’ he likes someone with how much he’s focusin’ on learnin’ these new dishes and all that. He’s really gonna put Ma out of the job soon enough.” Atsumu rubbed the back of his neck. “He told me to tell ya congrats.”

 

They were alone, outside of his grandmother who was there. He looked down at her, a prayer on the tip of his tongue, but she smiled to understand as her grin grew wider before speaking. “Let me leave you two boys alone, I want to chat with some of Shinsuke’s teachers! They seem rather smart!”

 

“Ah, ya, probably.” Atsumu chuckled, his eyes on the ground as she left them, doing as she said. The first one she went to was Saeko-sensei, his literature teacher. 

 

They were silent for a few moments, the awkwardness of the situation settling in. What were you supposed to say in this situation? Kita didn’t know. 

 

“Did you give away your second button?” Atsumu asked, his face heating up. 

 

“No, why would I?” Kita asked plainly. 

 

“Do ya not know the customs or anythin’, Kita-san?” Atsumu huffed, grinning down at him. 

 

“I do, but I can’t wear the uniform anymore if I do that,” Kita said, making Atsumu groan and double over. “You don’t have to call me Kita-san anymore. You can just call me Kita.”

 

Atsumu frowned, standing back up straight. “I want your second button, so gimme it.”

 

“Do you have to speak so childishly?” Kita looked the other way, feeling his cheeks getting hotter. Perhaps, the wind is getting colder. He should hurry Granny home before she gets a cold. 

 

“Don’t be deflectin’!” Atsumu snorted. 

 

‘You’re always so pushy…’ Kita thinks silently as he reaches to his chest, slipping his fingers around the second-button of his gray blazer. Slowly, with little trouble, he undos the button and tears it off. He puts the button into Atsumu’s waiting and demanding hand. He watches Atsumu close his fingers around it, looking away with a red face. 

 

He feels shy. He feels anxious as his heart doesn’t slow down for a second. Everything feels so hot. Here stands Atsumu, annoyingly beautiful as ever, before him, taking his second button. If he didn’t already know, it would call it a silent confession of love.

 

Love.

 

Shit.

 

Kita doesn’t want to think about it. He doesn’t want to think about the feelings of attraction that had turned into feelings of love. He doesn’t want to think about how much he’s been wanting to hold his hand or kiss his cheek. He doesn’t want to think about the jealousy he feels whenever Atsumu is confessed to or asked out by another girl. He doesn’t want to think about how he’s gone somewhere and thought, ‘This would be a good date spot’. He doesn’t want to remember overhearing that Atsumu’s favorite food is fatty tuna and learning every dish that includes that just on the off chance something happens, that something changes about them, about their relationship.

 

He doesn’t want to remember any of it. This is one of the times he wishes he could erase his memories. 

 

“I’ll be seein’ ya around I guess?” Atsumu looks elsewhere as Kita looks back up at him. 

 

“I guess so,” Kita clarifies. “I’ll make sure to come to your games.”

 

Atsumu’s face looks like the same tuna he enjoys. 

 

“Keepin’ tabs on me?”

 

“Always.”

 

“Am I that troublesome?”

 

“No, you’re extremely talented. I know you’ll go far so...don’t doubt that.” Kita said, trying to seem as calm on the outside, despite his anxiety overwhelming him. “I’ll be watching you so don’t you dare lose.”

 

Atsumu stared down at him, his face pink and brown eyes sparkling thanks to the afternoon’s golden rays. 

 

"Now," Saeko-sensei sat down. "We're getting to something we all know and understand pretty easily. Love! Relationships! Lovers."

 

"This time around it is called 'agape'." Saeko-sensei explained. "It means 'unconditional love'. Typically, it's defined as the highest form of love. Many people do infer it as a love between God and his follower, however, it is also inferred by many people as love for another person in your life. You can love someone above anyone else."

 

"It's also labeled as a 'selfless love'." She explained further. "It's kind of like a crush, right? You're giddy, your feelings are flooding you, however, you don't want to be selfish and force your feelings onto someone, especially when you are unsure of their feelings."

 

Love, yeah, this is love. 

 

“Go out with me, Shinsuke,” Atsumu says, his face growing serious.

 

His heart is pounding like when the last point of a game hits the court floor. His breath feels short like whenever he runs the track. There is something burning in his eyes as if there was dust flying around. His face feels so hot, like it does in the summer when he does the chores outside for his grandma. 

 

“I said you could call me Kita, not Shinsuke.”

 

He can’t miss the chance to correct him, however.

 

“Is that a yes?”

 

Does he even need to ask?




Stage 5: Ludus

 

He had just taken a shower. He was freshly washed, the soreness of his muscles working hard as he worked his body to correctly farm fading away. The coolness of the water washed every piece of dust and flicker of heat off of his body, cleansing him from a typical day’s workload. His clothes were loose on him but fit him nicely. It allowed the damp skin to feel chilled rather than cramped by the air that ran through him, 

 

He was in the middle of drying his hair when his phone started buzzing. It wasn’t a text, he could hear that much. A familiar ringtone ran in his bedroom and he found himself making his way over to the phone, where he had left it to charge. Seeing the face of his lover’s on screen, calling him.

 

He had a stupid profile picture, not that he knew. Osamu had texted him a photo of Atsumu, when they were third-years, had been dunk by Suna with water. He looked freezing cold and so undeniably angry. It was one photo but it looked beautiful, weirdly enough, The sun was obviously setting due to the gradient of the warm sky that peeked above the shrubs that surrounded the club building. His clothes were drenched and his skin was glistening. That stupid hair of his was like a wet poodle’s, clinging to his skin and utterly flat as it obstructed his vision. 

 

It was cute. That’s the best reason behind changing his contact picture to that. It was really the only reason. 

 

With one last scrub of hair to get it less damp, he pressed the green button and put it against his ear. 

 

“Kita! I was almost afraid ya weren’t goin’ to pick up,” Atsumu chuckled on the other line, making Kita smile as he sat back down on his bed. He folded the towel up on his lap. “What took ya so long?” 

 

“I just got out of the shower,” Kita said calmly, placing the folded towel on the nightstand to put in the dirty clothes basket after the call had ended. Just because he was tired didn’t mean he got to slack off. 

 

“Ooh, scandalous.” 

 

Kita sighed, he swore this man was still a teenager. “Please get your head out of the gutter, Atsumu.” 

 

“Aww,” Atsumu complained. “That’s no fun.”

 

“I’d rather not harm your teammate’s feelings because of your inability to control yourself in any situation you’re in, whether it’s volleyball or relationships,” Kita explained calmly, rolling on his side. 

 

“Nah, too late for that.” Atsumu chuckled into the phone. “Hey, don’t throw things at me Omiomi!” 

 

Kita smirked at that. He liked Sakusa, not only did he seem like a great player but he often got on Atsumu to try and keep him in line. He appreciated that Atsumu had someone like that he worked with outside of his coach. 

 

“Sorry about that, I might have to get someone to arrest Omiomi,” Atsumu chuckled into the phone again, making Kita’s heart flutter. “I miss ya.”

 

He felt himself blush at the declaration. He shyly whispered back, “I miss you too.” 

 

“If you miss me so much, can you tell me what yer wearin’?” 

 

Kita almost hung up on him. 

 

Instead he laughed out loud, falling on his back. He threw his arm over his eyes as he was grinning so hard it was starting to hurt.

 

‘Flirting,’ Kita thought, ‘Is this what he calls that?’

 

"Unlike our last topic," Saeko-sensei said as Kita highlighted a section of his notes to better draw his eye to a certain section of his notes for a later studying time. "There is no debate over this type of love - it is a romantic love. This one is called 'Ludus' and it is considered a playful love."

 

"I'm sure you're confused on what that means, 'playful love'?" Saeko-sensei said as a strawman. "It's the type of love of a new relationship. The giddiness, the learning about them, the flirting, and etc."

 

“You’re such an idiot.”

 

“Ya sound like ‘Samu!” Atsumu whined. “Come on please.”

 

“No way!” Kita continued to laugh, wiping the tears away from his eyes. This man was a complete and utter fool. He couldn’t even fathom the fact he was WITH this complete and utter fool! What mistakes have led him to this mess? 

 

“Aww,” Atsumu was most definitely pouting now. He wished he could see him. He was always really cute when he did that. 

 

“Just hurry up and come visit already.” Kita said sincerely, his laughter dying down now. 

 

He swore he could hear some kind of choke, something that definitely meant Atsumu was flushing a pretty pink now. This is unfair. “Y-Yes!”

 

“I really wanna take you on a date,” Kita said honestly, thinking about the numerous places he could spends hours at with him by his side. “And I wanna make you food.”

 

“Ya sound like a girl, Shinsuke.” Atsumu’s words were teasing, but his voice was soft, making it clear to Kita he was looking forward to it as much as he was. He knew he had touched his heart. 

 

“Just a little,” He replied, looking at the clock in the room. It was getting a little late. He should turn in. “I have to sleep and you need to get home. Make sure to have a balanced dinner, okay?”

 

“I will.”

 

“And sleep loads.”

 

“Just for ya.”

 

“No, for yourself too.”

 

“Alright.”

 

Kita felt himself grow shy again as it was so embarrassing saying this but he knew he couldn’t say goodbye without saying it. “I love you, Astu.”

 

“I love you too, Shinsuke. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, I promise to call earlier so we can talk more.” 

 

Kita smiled into the pillow, his chest swelling with giddiness at the proclamation. “I’ll be looking forward to it then.”





Stage 6: Pragma

 

He was in a store, and the lights were bright. It was the early afternoon. It was a sunny day with a few clouds spread across in the baby blue sky. The white carpet was pretty but undoubtedly a pain for the janitor. The dark wooden walls of the shop looked expensive. They looked more polished than the waxed floors of most volleyball courts. The clock in the middle of the store clicked by as each second past, reminding you of the passage of time. 

 

He didn’t mind so much. 

 

After all, he had prepared for this. He planned not to hurry this at all, so he planned ahead of time. Atsumu had let him know that Osamu had opened a full-fledged restaurant that had been very successful with its first launch, so they decided to hang out with his boyfriend of a few years that Atsumu was finally meeting after all the hassle of Osamu hiding it. Little did he know, Kita knew the whole time it was Suna. Atsumu is way too picky and protective when it comes to Osamu, it was the only way to keep Suna away from his wrath as they pressured their ‘new-founded’ relationship. Kita would definitely argue this was a little too long but hey, he can’t judge. It’s their life, their decisions. 

 

He would be away for an entire day. After he had been informed, he made sure to research about the topic at hand on an incognito tab so Atsumu couldn’t find it through autocorrect or accidentally stumbling upon his history like he’s done in the past regarding birthday presents and plans. 

 

It was the best time to do it. He knew he wanted this more than anything. This was it for him, he knew it. He couldn’t imagine putting anyone else in place Atsumu took up. Long ago when they finally moved into each other, despite the lengthy drive for Atsumu’s workplace, Kita thought it would have been awkward and take some time to getting used to. 

 

However, before he knew it, he couldn’t imagine anyone else but Atsumu in his home. He couldn’t imagine the smell of anyone else on his pillows or secretly stealing the shirts of someone else to sleep in when he was away for training. He couldn’t even imagine video-chatting with anyone else or staying up late for calls for another. He couldn’t imagine making balanced lunches for someone else. He couldn’t bear the thought of anyone holding him or kissing soft gentle pecks to his cheeks softly in the mornings when he was barely awake but knew more than anything he wanted to show Kita how much he loved him even in his drowsy state. 

 

As he looked down at the glass cases, a friendly worker chatted him up as he scanned every inch of the case. The small talk wasn’t that troublesome as he looked around, taking the magazine they offered. They told him about the deals and specials, about how payments could work in several ways. They asked if they could help but he shook his head no. He knew what he wanted. He knew the future he prayed for. 

 

He glanced into the worker’s eyes, explaining how he had ordered a special pair. He watched as he typed in the order number, clapping their hands together when they found it on the work computer. He watched them race to the back, searching for his order. 

He didn’t mind the wait. 

 

He thought of how happy his grandmother would be to hear the news, knowing she’s waited since his third year of highschool for the exciting news. He knew he wanted her there above all else. She was so unbelievably important to him. He owed her everything. He wanted her to see the man she had raised and who he become, happy to show his unconventional love off to the world no matter the hate it brought in. 

 

He recalled the in-depth conversation he had with Osamu. He recalls his dark gray eyes peering into his soul as his questions hit hard into his soul. He remembers stuttering out each answer, clinging onto his knees as his fingers shook with the fear of the unknown. Who would have ever known how protective Osamu was? He even intimidated him, his former upperclassmen who had taught him well. 

 

He remembers the look in Osamu’s eyes as he explained the tragedy behind their parents of last year, even then, knowing the pain it had caused Atsumu. He had stood with him through it all, holding him every night as the grief tore him apart tear by tear. He stayed even when they fought, when Atsumu was being unreasonable, when he was left alone for multiple days with no texts incoming, but he stayed. He knew how horrible it was to lose your parents. He knew Atsumu needed his space at times, to not have everyone look at him with pitiful eyes, and other times needed Kita to hold him for hours and shield him away from the pain, to be open and let someone else protect his heart. 

 

He heard his own declaration to love, to respect, and to stand by Atsumu, no matter what was thrown their way on loop in his head as he thought about all the different ways he could go about it.

 

"Now, 'pragma'," The teacher spoke as she wrote the sixth form of love on the chalkboard on the other side so those who aren't caught up can catch up at their own rate. "It is long-lasting love. A love that lasts for years, decades. A love that is unshakable in a way, one worth everything."

 

"You will see this love in your everyday life. In fact, I'm sure many of you, just like me, will be pressured by your parents in a few years to commit to someone with this sort of love." Saeko-sensei giggled, turning towards the classroom. "Marriage! "

 

'Not my parents, just my grandma.' Kita thinks back to his Granny. He wonders what they're having tonight. Maybe they would have something with tofu in it? Maybe stir-fry. He misses tofu hamburgers though. It's been a while since they made them together due to her arthritis hurting her a lot more lately due to the colder weather as of late. 

 

As he wondered if they polished the rings hourly by how much they were shimmering through the glass case, the worker came back with a kind smile with a black box in hand. She walked towards him, placing it on the glass counter. Reaching over, he felt the softness against his hand. He gently flipped it open. 

 

In it, he saw two rings placed perfectly in their specially-made slots. The hard dark cushion of the inside making them stand out beautifully. One was a golden band while the other was a silver one. On the golden one, the white stone glittering against the bright white lights of the store. It was a little dainty as the little diamonds beside the main opal gemstone followed in line. He was sure it would look beautiful against his skin though. The silver one had a bright, eye-catching ruby. The dark crimson shimmered like it was on fire, the ruby surrounded by little diamonds, on the silver band. 

 

It was a little cheesy switching their gemstones so they would always be with each other in some way but he’s not sure if he really cares.

 

Now, if he could only figure out a way to propose. 




Stage 7: Philautia

 

He wants to be a good parent. He knows he’s a great worker, a better husband, and an amazing friend. He works hard and tirelessly at his work, taking perfect care of his health. He listens to everything his friends have to stay, he respects their space, and he gives them advice whenever he can. He vowed to forever love and be there for his husband. He fights to prove those words to Atsumu everyday as the same man does the same. 

 

He’s not sure if that could be said for him as a parent. He didn’t really have parents, he always had his grandmother. She was his parent, the person who raised him, taught him, and loved him before anyone else could. Or rather, would. She taught him his love for volleyball. She raised him to be a kind person with proper morals and to always take care of his health before all else. She held him everytime he needed it and made his favorite meals whenever he was said. 

 

He wonders if he can even begin to do the same. 

 

He wants a family. He knows he does. He knows Atsumu wants one too, even if he doesn’t talk about it much. It’s hard to deny. After all, he had such a positive experience with his relationship with his own twin brother. They’re limited by their relationship, but they can always hire a surrogate or adopt a child. Kita is more on the side of adoption. 

 

He wants to be able to be there for his child. He wants them to know they will always be loved no matter what they do. He wants to watch their favorite shows whenever they’re sad. He wants to buy their favorite ice cream flavor and talk crap about their first heartbreak. He wants to teach them about volleyball, how to receive and to spike. He wants to show them how to take care of themselves and why it’s so important. 

 

He doesn’t want to fail them. He doesn’t want to love them, care for them, and be there for him only for him to come up short in every way possible. He’s terrified of that possibility. He’s scared of being the strict parent, the one who’s annoying and they wish would screw off. He’s not sure how he could deal with knowing that’s how his child sees him. 

 

He worries about the unpredictability of children and raising one. What if they have issues they were born with? Thousands of children are born with physical, mental, or both genetic disorders that are incurable. Will he be able to be enough for them? Will he be able to get them all the help they need? Will he be the patient, kind, and understanding person he believes he is? 

 

He’s not sure. He can’t assure anything, especially with a child. 

 

He’s scared of not being enough anymore. He knows he’s enough with his friends, with his clients, and with his husband. Nothing more needs to be said to any of them to know that. He doesn’t know that with a child, however. They’re a whole nother person you’re supposed to support, raise, and care for. 

 

He wants to though. He wants to believe he can do this, he can be just as amazing as his grandmother was for him. He wants to have faith in himself. He wants to feel like he’s enough for himself.

 

"The last love we're talking about is the most important one, at least to myself." Kita watched as she wrote 'Philautia' on the board with the chalk stick. He followed behind her, placing the pencil on the notebook paper and scribbling down the notes, being careful to make sure they're clear and easy to read. "It's called Philautia."

 

"It is the love of oneself, or simply, self-love." His teacher said, writing down the definition next to it connected by a dash. "Unlike others, we don't have a lot of that commonly. A lot of people, if not everyone, struggles with self-love and most importantly different forms of self-image that are low for a lot of people, especially you teenagers!"

 

That was one Kita really got. He had never held a romantic relationship before. His parents weren't really in his life either. He couldn't understand the others, besides maybe the friendship one. After all, he had friends. However, he could understand the impact of self-love. To him, there are different forms of self-love, especially when it comes to health.

 

Self-love is one of the most challenging things in this world, especially in his life. He’s comfortable with the people he currently loves and cares for but what happens when someone new is added to that mix? He doesn’t know for certainty. 

 

Unpredictability is something he hates. 

 

He wants to try and learn to love it though. He wants to try so hard. He wants to learn to love himself at the worst moments, not just because his husband and friends assure him so. He doesn’t want to get comfortable with it all. 

 

He wants to be able to not feel that weird itch under his skin when they go out on spontaneous dates. He wants to buy things without worrying about the review rates. He wants to pick something out of the menu without reading every little option there is. 

 

He wants to allow mistakes and messes to happen. He wants to understand they’re apart of life. They’re what makes life so beautiful and allows people to grow, even all the way into their later years. He wants to laugh when Atsumu messes up the laundry or breaks a dish because he’s too careless. He wants to hold a child in his arm and not feel the anxiety overwhelm him. 

 

He wants to be a parent. He wants to try, more than anything. 

 

He wants to have a family with his husband.

 

That’s what he has to keep in mind as he holds his husband’s hand tightly who only grins back when he sees his unsure expression as they wait for the adoption worker’s office to become free. 

 

“Miyas?” Someone steps out and calls. Atsumu stands up, pulling Shinsuke effectively up with him. “Come on in then.”

 

They walk into the office, fully wanting to face the future of unpredictability before them.