It was one day into his second year of high school when a realization struck him. He’d volunteered to hang back and help Kita tidy up, sort of as penance for the mishap that’d happened the week prior, when Atsumu tried to train with a fever running and Kita told him off for it. Which made him angry. Then Kita had to go and give him a Get-Well-Soon care package. Which made him cry.
Anyway, the fact of the matter was that he fucked up and still got taken care of at the end, which made him feel immensely guilty. He decided to try to make it up to his captain by volunteering to help him with his post-practice rituals. Although Kita told him that he really didn’t need any assistance, thank you, Atsumu had insisted.
After a late tuesday afternoon spent cleaning the gym and then walking home with Kita, Atsumu entered his and Osamu’s shared bedroom with a smile on his face. “Hey,” he said, placing his stuff next to his bed and starting to change into a clean set of clothes.
Osamu, who’d been scrolling through his phone on his bed, looked up sharply at his greeting. “... Hey,” he said warily, narrowing his eyes at Atsumu. “You look like you’re in a good mood.”
“Ah, training went well today, I guess,” Atsumu said, tossing his sweaty clothes into the nearest hamper. “My serves felt on point.”
“Hm. I guess,” Osamu mimicked, putting his phone down. “The cleaning session with the captain go well, too?”
“Huh, oh, yeah,” Atsumu started, pulling out his phone to text Kita that he’d safely made his way home. A stupidly soft smile appeared on his face. “We cleaned the bathroom toda--”
Whatever Atsumu was going to say got cut off by Osamu grabbing his face and turning it to face him. His brother leaned in closely and searched his face for ...something.
Atsumu tried to bat his hands away, but Osamu didn’t let up. “Hmm,” Osamu hummed again. “Ya like him, doncha?”
This time, Atsumu managed to release himself from Osamu’s grip, stumbling all the way back and tripping over the chair next to their bunk bed. From the floor, he looked up at his brother with wide eyes and a harried expression. Osamu watched him from where he was standing, bending down but not making any moves to come closer, like he was observing a wild animal. Which, to be fair, Atsumu very much felt like in the moment.
“Wh-- what…? Like? Like? ” Atsumu asked, beginning to laugh. It sounded a bit deranged even to his own ears, but the throes of embarrassment had ensnared him so tightly that he couldn’t make sense of anything. “Whaddya mean, like? I don’t like anyone, least of all boring ol’ Kita-san, ha ha ha!”
Unfortunately, his voice pitched up higher and higher as he continued to talk. This was probably not helping his case. The raised eyebrow and disbelieving gaze that Osamu had chosen to level him with was wearing down his defenses. Atsumu tried to stare back at him in an attempt to both save face and stall for time, but he was growing steadily more flustered as the minutes dragged on, and Osamu was relentless.
“You like him,” Osamu repeated, his eyes widening with the realization. Atsumu didn’t know how to tell him that this was news to him as well. “You really like him.”
“I--I--” Atsumu choked out, before closing his mouth in case anything incriminating came out. He bit his lips and looked away, trying very hard not to explode. It was proving to be difficult, as the growing heat he felt indicated that he was blushing a bright glowing red. This was as good as a pointing neon sign for someone who knew him as well as his twin brother. He knew it, Osamu knew it. Atsumu was fucked.
This time, Osamu did come closer, close enough to pinch Atsumu’s nose and wiggle it around. The biggest, most shit-eating grin had appeared on his face. “Ain’t that interesting? My gross baby brother, finally learning how to have feelings.”
Atsumu tried to kick him away, but his position on the ground made it difficult to aim, and Osamu moved out of the way before he could land a hit. “Shut the fuck up! I’m not a baby ANYTHING, you’re literally ten minutes older than me, it doesn’t count for SHIT.”
“Ya ain’t denying it,” Osamu said from above him. “You do like him.”
“I--” Atsumu tried to start again, before smacking himself in the face and lowering himself to lie completely flat on the ground. He let out a long, resigned sigh.
Osamu remained silent. Atsumu didn’t move. He couldn’t move, the embarrassment had taken over his entire body. He was paralyzed.
A beat passed.
“Yeah,” Atsumu eventually managed to croak out. It was a pitiful sound, with his hands still covering his face in an attempt to shield himself from Osamu’s reaction. That sense of self-protection proved to be useful when Osamu started laughing like Atsumu just told the best joke in the world and not, you know, just admitted to having a crush on their team captain.
Atsumu groaned in response, trying to drown the obnoxious guffawing with the sound of his humiliation. “Shut UP,” he said, rolling over to faceplant directly into the floor. “SHUT UP !”
Osamu nudged his foot against his prone form. “H-Holy shit, Tsumu. K-Kita-san--” he managed to get out in the middle of all his laughter. Atsumu groaned again. Osamu laughed even harder.
“It’s not funny!”
“Fuck that, it’s HILARIOUS.”
Atsumu groaned for a third time, then hopped to his feet to shove a hand into his brother’s face. “STOP LAUGHING,” he shouted, “I’M SUFFERING!”
For all the posturing he does to prove that he’s the mature twin, the nice twin, the sensible twin, Osamu really was just as terrible as Atsumu. He just had a better Normal Person Mask, and somehow fooled everyone into thinking that’s who he really was. Atsumu knew better, of course, which is why he wasn’t even surprised when Osamu licked his hand to get it off his face. Disgusted, sure, but surprised? Not at all.
“You’re gross! And mean!” Atsumu accused, making a quick movement to wipe Osamu’s saliva onto his own shirt. Osamu didn’t dodge quickly enough this time. “Bet your breath stinks like usual, too.”
“Excuse me, you’re the one who still hasn’t showered,” Osamu wrinkled his nose at him in an exaggerated show of disgust. “You really hung out with Kita-san smelling like THAT? And you think you have a CHANCE?”
Just as Atsumu was going to reply, his phone sounded with a text notification. Osamu looked like he was about to ask him why his phone wasn’t on silent like it usually was, but the way Atsumu raced across the room to get his phone was answer enough. It was a reply from Kita!
FROM: KITA SHINSUKE
Good to hear. I’m about to have dinner with granny. Rest well, Atsumu.
A typical text from Kita: short, succinct, but still incredibly caring. It would have probably already made him feel some type of way under normal circumstances, but in the light of very recent personal epiphanies, it was enough to get his heart racing and palms sweaty. He really needed to take a shower.
“Oh? Is that the captain man himself?” Osamu teased, peering over his shoulder. Atsumu tried to pivot away from him, but Osamu predicted his movements, flicked him on the forehead, and nicked his phone out of his hands.
“What the fuck, ‘Samu!” Atsumu shouted, trying to grab his phone back. Osamu held it up over his head while pushing him away. “You’re such a piece of shit! At least lemme reply first!”
Just as he made another attempt at taking his phone back, Osamu ran atop the chair Atsumu had tripped over earlier. He continued to hold the phone as high as he could, keeping it out of reach. "Call him. Right now. Tell him,” he said.
Atsumu balked, gazing up at his asshole of a brother. "Wh-- I can't just DO THAT,” he shouted, while jumping and making grabby hands towards his phone.
"Why not? If you won’t do it, I will.”
Atsumu’s movements stilled, his expression turning incredulous. He knew from personal experience that his brother was ruthless and had the capacity for cruelty, but surely there were lines that shouldn’t be crossed! Atsumu’s life was at stake, here.
He watched in horror as Osamu angled his phone’s screen to face him, making a show of opening Kita’s contact page. Just as Osamu’s finger neared the call button, Atsumu roared and leapt forward, tackling Osamu off the chair and crashing them both unto the ground. Oh god, how would he even explain all the bruises to the team tomorrow?
“Ow, what the fuck, ‘Tsumu!” Osamu said, shoving Atsumu off him. “My fuckin’ back’s gonna act up during training tomorrow.”
Atsumu quickly snatched his phone from where it lay on the ground before Osamu could get to it, then he turned and blew a raspberry at him. “If ya just minded your own goddamn business, we wouldn’t be in this situation!”
Both brothers glared in angry silence at each other until Atsumu noticed a faint sound emanating from the phone in his hand. Turning it over, he was horrified to find that the call with Kita had connected, and that he’d been on the line for the last few minutes. He mouthed a FUCK at Osamu and put the call on speaker.
“--Tsumu? Atsumu, what happened?” came Kita’s tinny voice over the phone.
Oh, just hearing his captain’s voice was enough to send Atsumu’s heart into a flurry. This must have shown on his face because Osamu muttered a “For fuck’s sake,” under his breath, to which Atsumu pointedly mimed zipping his lips.
“Sorry, Kita-san! Just tripped on a chair, and uh… accidentally pressed the call button,” Atsumu finished lamely, grimacing. Osamu facepalmed, letting out a big, soundless sigh. “Uh… my mistake!”
“... Okay,” Kita replied. He actually sounded unconvinced, but Atsumu didn’t have time to think about the nuances of Kita Shinsuke’s vocal inflections right now. He had to end this conversation with some dignity left. “Well, like I told you earlier, I want you to take care of yourself. And that means watching where you’re going.”
“Yes, of course, Kita-san,” Atsumu squeaked out.
“You know for a fact we have the Spring Tournament coming up. You can’t go get carelessly injured, Atsumu.”
In the midst of all this, Atsumu was trying very hard not to think about the amount of special attention he was getting. I want you started rattling around in his brain the moment Kita had uttered the words, and he was struggling with comprehending anything that was said afterwards. “Yes, Kita-san. Um… It won’t happen again?”
A sigh. The depth of Kita’s exasperation with all things Miya twins-related was conveyed even though the shitty speakers of Atsumu’s phone. “ See that it doesn’t. Osamu, ” he suddenly said, drawing the boy in question’s attention away from laughing silently at his brother’s utter hopelessness. By reflex, he straightened up automatically, which in turn caused Atsumu to laugh at him.
“Y-yes, Kita-san?” Osamu wanted to ask how he knew he was on speaker, and how he knew that he was right next to Atsumu, but the ways of All-Knowing Kita Shinsuke remained elusive and unknown. Also, he was too scared to ask at this point.
“Make sure Atsumu takes care of himself, will ya? For me.”
Osamu nodded dutifully, even though he was speaking to Kita over the phone. Atsumu laughed even harder, covering his mouth to keep the sound in. “Of course, Kita-san.”
“Good. Please rest, Atsumu, Osamu. Have a good night.”
The twins chorused a similar sentiment in return, then ended the call. They stood in silence for a minute, both of them staring down at Atsumu’s phone, and consequently, his hands.
“Huh,” Osamu said, finally breaking the silence. “You really do like him.”
Atsumu would never admit to having been truly shaken by anything, but in that moment, his ever-steady setter’s hands had trembled just a fraction. Microscopic and nearly imperceptible, but just enough that Osamu, who knew him as well as he knew himself, picked up on it. There was no use denying it any longer, both to himself and to his brother.
“Yeah,” Atsumu let out a sigh as he pocketed his phone. “Yeah, I do.”
Rather than work on their English homework like good students should have, the Miya twins spent the majority of the night coming up with a plan. Well, Osamu came up with a plan. Atsumu mostly just screamed into his pillow.
The best course of action, Osamu argued, was to confess as soon as possible. Atsumu decided he would rather die than do such a thing. It took two hours of cajoling, more blackmail, and all the logic Osamu could pull out of his ass to finally convince him. According to his reasoning, it could only go one of two ways:
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Atsumu confesses. Kita-san accepts his confession. They get together. They improve at volleyball together. Inarizaki wins the Spring High Tournament.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Atsumu confesses. Kita-san rejects his confession. Atsumu sulks for a while. He puts his heart into volleyball instead. He eventually gets over it. Inarizaki wins the Spring High Tournament.
Osamu quietly admitted to himself that jumping to the conclusion that Inarizaki would win the Spring Highs was a bit of a stretch, but he had to talk in the language of volleyball to get his brother to do anything. There was no time to waste, he argued. Spring Highs were in less than a month. Stalling would just hold him back.
Was it manipulative? Maybe. But it worked.
By framing the dilemma as a win-win situation (in terms of volleyball, anyway), Atsumu was finally convinced that it was the only thing left to do. He’d initially planned to keep all his emotions locked somewhere deep, deep down inside and when he finally died, the feelings would too. When he expressed such a sentiment to Osamu, he called him a drama queen, and pointed out that there was no “deep, deep down” when you’re a shallow little bitch. Atsumu kicked him again for that.
Sure, they had to cram their homework in the morning, and sure, English wasn’t exactly Atsumu’s strong suit, but he finally had a plan. Mostly, he was really excited at the prospect of improving at volleyball. One-track-mind, as always.
They hadn’t planned out what exactly Atsumu would say beyond a general outline because Kita-san probably wouldn’t appreciate something too scripted, and Atsumu would probably find a way to mess it up no matter how much they practiced. He wasn’t much for acting.
When it came to the where and when, however, Osamu gave him three options.
OPTION ONE: LUNCH TIME, ON THE ROOFTOP.
Atsumu scoffed at the idea at first.
“What is this, a fuckin’ Shoujo manga?” he asked. Without missing a beat, Osamu simply gestured over to Atsumu’s half of their bookshelf, where his Ouran High School Host Club collection sat. Not a speck of dust on the copies, from how often Atsumu leafed through them. “Fine! Fine, tell me your stupid plan.”
The plan involved him going over to Kita’s classroom during their lunch break and asking him to come up to the roof with him. Atsumu had raised the very good point that there was no way to phrase it without sounding like a lovestruck teenager about to confess their love in the most cliche location known to man, but Osamu countered with the fact that that was exactly what he was. He couldn’t find a way to refute that statement, as it was unfortunately very true.
So here Atsumu was, making his way over to classroom 3-7. A regular onlooker would just see resident popular kid and school jock Miya Atsumu making his way down the hallway, his ever-present obnoxiously lofty expression at full force today. In reality, he was silently begging the ground to swallow him whole with every step he took.
When the ground didn’t listen to his pleas and he got to the classroom in one piece, Atsumu was greeted by a pretty third year girl. Hanamura Tomoko, some part of his brain provided. The captain of the girls’ soccer team. Apparently, she was in class 3-7 as well, which was one too many sports captains in one place. If she and Kita knew the secret to being both academically and athletically proficient, he’d love to hear it.
“Hey, Atsumu-chan!” Hanamura-senpai greeted, cheerily. She was indeed very pretty, with long, light brown hair done in twin braids that ran down the back of her head. She was tall, but not too tall that it made her stand out. She played striker on the soccer team, he remembered vaguely from one sports festival. Were Atsumu not so incredibly gay and so incredibly gone for his own team captain, she would have been a nice person to have a crush on. “Whatcha doin’? Lookin’ for anyone?”
“Uhh,” He hesitated, scanning the classroom behind her. Kita wasn’t tall or showy, but his hair and the unmistakable gravitas of his presence made him hard to miss. As it was, the unknowing object of his affections was seated at a table next to the window, explaining something in his notebook to Akagi. The noontime sun seeped in through the windows and bounced off the light gray of Kita’s hair in a way that made him look ethereal. It made Atsumu’s breath catch. Did Kita even know he was walking around looking like an angel?
He snapped out of his reverie when Hanamura-senpai’s hand suddenly blocked his view. “Hello? Earth to Atsumu-chan?” She asked, waving her hand in his face. When he blinked and but still didn’t make eye contact with her, she turned her head to follow his line of sight. Apparently, she was seeing the same thing he did, because she gasped softly, lowering her hand. “Are you here for Shinsuke-kun?”
Shinsuke-kun . The thought of being bestowed with the honor of referring to Kita by his first name boggled Atsumu’s mind. Shin-su-ke , three syllables long, long enough to stumble on. Atsumu felt like he was going to trip before even getting there.
“Uh, yeah,” he hesitated again, finally making eye contact with Hanamura-senpai. Her expression had gotten even cheerier, bordering on excited. What exactly she was excited about, Atsumu could only guess. Hopefully, his intentions weren’t written on his face. He was by no means an ice king in the same way Kita was, but he was trying his hardest to keep his composure. Even if his insides felt the same way a good rally did: uncertain, exciting, dreadful. Up and down and up and down; no landing, no time to breathe, no time to think.
She must have seen something in his expression, because she smiled at him before turning to call out to Kita. “Hey, Shinsuke-kun! Someone’s here to see ya!”
Kita turned to look upon hearing his name called out. Finally, his eyes landed upon Atsumu, all of 6 feet tall, standing there like he was trying not to be, waving a hand lamely. If Kita was surprised, his expression didn’t show it. Akagi was waving back, confused but as excitable as ever.
After being given the OK by Akagi to take a break from their discussion, Kita made his way towards the door, nodding politely to Hanamura-senpai when he reached them. “Tomo-chan,” he said. Atsumu didn’t know if the athletes in their year level were just exceptionally close or exceptionally casual with each other, because most of them tended to refer to each other by their first names. It had to be a third year thing, he rationalized, because the ugly feeling that was growing in his stomach resembled jealousy far too closely. “Atsumu.”
Hanamura-senpai took that as her cue to leave, nodding politely in return to Kita and shooting Atsumu a wink before heading off. Again, Kita didn’t seem surprised by the action, even if Atsumu himself was. To be fair, though, Kita wasn’t an easy person to read. If he was, Atsumu wouldn’t be in this situation.
“H-Hi, senpai,” Atsumu stuttered out. This time, Kita did react, raising an eyebrow at the uncharacteristic form of address. “Captain?” he tried again, grimacing. Kita tilted his head slightly, indicating that it still wasn’t quite right. No such titles outside training, was the rule. “Kita-san,” he settled on.
It had to be a trick of the light, but Atsumu could almost swear that there was amusement playing in Kita’s eyes. “Did you need something from me, Atsumu?”
I need you to LOVE ME, Atsumu’s mind supplied. No, he couldn’t say that out loud. Or at least, not yet, not here, where everyone could see. He just needed to get Kita alone, and he’d be good to go. “Uh, what are ya up to? With Akagi-san,” he asked.
“We’re just reviewing a lesson for our upcoming English test,” Kita replied. “Michinari was having a bit of trouble.”
God, how could someone be this perfect? How were the gods so generous as to create someone as handsome and kind as Kita Shinsuke? Atsumu wished he had the words to express such a sentiment, but all that came out was “Oh, that’s real nice of ya, Kita-san! I wish I had someone to help me out with English…”
Somehow sensing that Atsumu was stalling for time with those freaky mind powers of his, Kita repeated the question he posed earlier. “Do you need something, Atsumu?”
Atsumu wanted to shrivel up and die. He was already fucking this up. Maybe he should have made a script and practiced it, after all. Feeling the heat under Kita’s scrutinizing gaze, he broke eye contact to glance at Akagi going over the notes alone. He didn’t want to break off their study session for something as shallow as his terrible feelings, and he especially didn’t want to hassle Kita into anything while he was busy. He felt bad enough interrupting them as it was.
Option one was a no-go, abort mission, return to sender. His mind was whirring, trying to come up with an excuse or a way to end the conversation, so that Kita could go back to studying. He was about to apologize and bow out, but his mouth apparently had other plans.
“Oh, that’s it exactly! I need someone to tutor me. In English,” Atsumu lied.
Oh, god, he’d really dug himself into a hole with this one. Kita was going to call him out on his bluff, he was going to get embarrassed in front of the third years, he was going to die--
“Is that all? You could have texted me, Atsumu,” Kita replied, expression turning fond. Or at least, Atsumu hoped it was fond. Fond in the way one might be fond of a particularly unruly child, he supposed. Good enough, for now. Also, he wasn’t aware that he could just text Kita . He wasn’t aware of such a privilege . Sure, he’d texted him last night, but that was because Kita specifically instructed him to text when he’d made it home. To text Kita-san unprompted, with a request, no less? No way.
“Uh, I got a really low mark on my English homework today, and I realized that I need some… Help,” Atsumu said. It wasn’t untrue. The homework that he and Osamu crammed that morning didn’t produce amazing results. Even though he was in class 2-2 and thus not exactly a beacon of brilliance, he couldn’t let his grades slip too much.
“I’d be happy to help, Atsumu,” Kita said. “Since you’ve already volunteered to clean up with me after training this week, we can study for an hour afterwards. Starting tomorrow. Does that sound okay to you?”
Okay? That sounded amazing. Two hours of uninterrupted alone time with Kita, for an entire week? Atsumu was starting to think he’d really passed out moments ago and this was a fever dream his mind was providing for him in the interim. “Of course, Kita-san! Uh, if it’s not too much trouble for ya?”
Kita shook his head. “It’s no problem. If anything, it’ll help keep my English skills sharp. Can’t slack off with entrance exams approaching, after all.” Oh, right, Kita-san would be heading off to college soon… No time to think about that, now.
Atsumu couldn’t help but be extremely touched by Kita making the time to help him out, so he bowed deeply and thanked him. Kita just laughed lightly and patted him on the head, to which Atsumu became even more flustered. If the pink on his cheeks was obvious by the time he straightened up, he didn’t comment on it.
“I’ll leave ya to your studying now, Kita-san. Apologies for the interruption.”
Kita waved him off. “Like I said, it’s no problem, Atsumu. See you at training.”
When he got home later that day, Atsumu relayed the events of that afternoon to Osamu. He received a pillow thrown straight at his face in response. Option one was a total bust, they concluded.
Onto the next.
OPTION TWO: BEFORE TRAINING, IN THE CLUB ROOM, BEFORE ANYONE ELSE GETS THERE.
The key, Osamu made sure to emphasize, was to be as early to training as Kita-san was.
Not a particularly difficult task on paper, but the twins, along with Suna, had the habit of snacking before training. They were growing boys and trying to pay attention in class took a lot more energy than one would think. Atsumu argued that he’d end up feeling hungry during training, which would make him suck, then Kita would chastise him for it. Which was the complete opposite of what they wanted to happen.
Osamu promised to buy him a snack. “Don’t get used to it,” he said. “And give me money before you leave, I’m not spending any of my allowance on your pathetic ass.”
So, when the bell rang, Osamu and Suna went off to get food while Atsumu made his way over to the clubroom. He’d never actually been this early to training before, and Kita would probably suspect that something was up. It was a bit too late to turn back by the time he had this realization, though, as he reached the clubroom just as Kita was unlocking it.
“Oh, Atsumu,” Kita said, opening the door. “You’re early today.”
Yikes, caught already. Atsumu rubbed the back of his head as he followed Kita into the club room. “Ah, well, I was thinking that I could help you set up before training too, ya know? I felt kinda bad for asking you to tutor me all of a sudden…”
“Atsumu, I already told you, it’s fine,” Kita said from the cubby holes, where he was exchanging his school shoes for his volleyball sneakers. Atsumu willed his mind not to think about their difference in shoe size. Not going there right now, brain. “Stop worryin’ about it.”
As he placed his bag down on the bench, he became acutely aware of the fact that he was alone with Kita in the clubroom. They were very rarely in the clubroom prior to training at the same time, as Kita was always very early and Atsumu… wasn’t. Thus he’s never actually had to deal with the very imminent problem of Kita changing clothes in front of him.
He wasn’t going to look. That’d be extremely inappropriate, and Atsumu respected Kita in every way possible. But he was just a man, and more specifically, a man with a newly-realized crush that was eating him alive. So, when said crush took his shirt off in front of him, he was within his rights to freak out a little.
In fact, once a sliver of tan, toned skin made its appearance, Atsumu freaked out. He freaked out so hard, that in abruptly turning around, he hit his head on one of the lockers.
“Ow! Fuck,” Atsumu shouted, hunched over and rubbing at his forehead. The noise from the impact reverberated through the near-empty clubroom, the clanging echoed in Atsumu’s head like a taunt. There you go again , it mocked, making a fool of yourself in front of Kita-san .
Feeling a firm grasp on his shoulder, Atsumu looked up to find Kita in front of him, fully changed into training clothes and wearing a worried expression on his face. “You alright?” Kita asked, moving Atsumu’s hand away in order to inspect his forehead. “You’ve been awfully clumsy lately.”
“Uh,” Atsumu replied, smart as ever. Kita’s proximity to his face and the warm touch of his fingers on Atsumu’s forehead was nothing short of straight up torture. His heart was beating so fast and so loudly that Kita could probably hear it himself. Well, he could always write it off as the effects of adrenaline, or something. Nothing like a good ol’ head injury to get the heart pumping, right?
Kita clicked his tongue good naturedly and gently held Atsumu’s wrist to lead him towards the bench. Atsumu sat down obediently and watched as Kita grabbed his water bottle. Atsumu felt the lingering warmth of Kita’s hand around his wrist like a brand he wished would never go away.
Atsumu winced and looked up at Kita who was hovering above him. He had one hand on the (apparently frozen) water bottle pressed to Atsumu’s forehead, and one on his shoulder to hold him in place. “Cold,” Atsumu remarked, making Kita snort.
“Quite,” Kita replied, amused. “What’d I tell ya about takin’ care of yourself, Atsumu?”
He still had the bruises from two nights ago, which he’d successfully hidden from Kita and the rest of the team since. Recalling the conversation they had over the phone reminded Atsumu that he didn’t just show up to training extra early to look like a clown, but with the intention of actually confessing. With the way things were going, though, chances of success seemed unlikely. “Sorry,” he said, mostly to Kita, but also to himself and Osamu.
“It’s fine,” Kita said softly, lifting the hand that was on Atsumu’s shoulder to brush his bangs back. The gesture should have been clinical, Kita doing the duty of a captain and looking after his star player. But the touch was so light and so gentle that when Atsumu looked up through his lashes to see Kita gazing at him with that same fondness from yesterday, his heart threatened to leap out of his chest.
The planets were aligning. This was his moment. No time to overthink anything, the opportunity was fleeting and fast. It felt like his limbo toss, where the odds were stacked against him but there was the smallest of openings, and it was all about taking the risk to find it. Here he was, about to do it, about to make his feelings known--
“Yo, ‘Tsumu! How’d it go--OH,” came Suna’s voice, accompanied by the clubroom door being slammed open. In the entrance stood Suna and Osamu with an armful of snacks each. Trailing behind them were Aran, Akagi and Oomimi, uncharacteristically late. They all stared at each other for a moment, the group by the doorway at the too-close position of the duo inside the clubroom.
The feeling of having interrupted something important ran like a chill down Suna and Osamu’s spines. “Sorry,” Suna whispered as they all clambered into the clubroom, effectively ruining the moment. Atsumu rolled his eyes in response and shot a dirty look at his brother, who threw a packed sandwich into his lap.
“I’ll go set up,” Kita said, placing the water bottle in Atsumu’s hand. “Atsumu, continue icing your forehead for a bit, then get changed and join us. I expect you to be at top form today.”
Trying his hardest not to pout, Atsumu placed the bottle back against his forehead.
Despite the utter failure that occurred that afternoon, Atsumu came home in high spirits. The first tutoring session had gone well, and in between staring at the curve of Kita’s jawline and losing himself in the way his voice sounded like honey, Atsumu actually might have learned something. Overall a very productive afternoon.
As an apology for the premature interruption earlier, Osamu wordlessly handed Atsumu a piece of paper with a confession written out for him. It wasn’t half bad. Maybe a little practice would increase his chances of success.
Third time’s the charm.
OPTION THREE: AFTER TRAINING, DURING THEIR STUDY SESSION.
Atsumu didn’t have an excuse this time. The words were written out for him, and he’d forgone yet another night of homework to memorize it instead. He had the lines down pat. It was just a matter of selling it at this point, and confidence has never been a problem for him. He was 90% skill, 5% luck, and the rest of it was made up by the power of sheer bravado. He had this in the bag.
That’s what he told Osamu, who’d rolled his eyes at him and continued with his homework. One failed grade this week was enough, thank you very much. However as a testament to his commitment to the cause, he didn’t complain about the racket Atsumu was making while practicing his lines in the mirror.
All his effort seemed to go to waste, though, after training the following day. As he’s never bothered to change out of his training uniform and wasn’t about to start, Atsumu was left standing outside the clubroom while Kita changed into a fresh set of clothes. His shoes proved to be an interesting point of focus as he tried to gather his thoughts. What I want to say, his mind provided, is that I like you, Kita-san. He couldn’t remember the rest of the speech over the rush of blood to his head, but he’d cross that bridge when he got there.
“Ready to go?” Kita asked, suddenly appearing next to him. Even after hours of grueling training, his scent was enough to draw Atsumu in. Sure, Kita smelled a lot like pure boy, sweat, heat, and adrenaline, but his stupid infatuated brain honestly couldn’t tell the different between that and the world’s finest perfume.
As they made their way to their designated spot, Atsumu, in a fit of bravery, offered to carry Kita’s bags for him. “I’m not a girl, you know,” Kita said, flashing him a small, amused smile. Atsumu was very well aware of this fact, and the muscles that rippled underneath Kita’s shirt was enough of a reminder.
“It’s the least I can do,” Atsumu replied, taking Kita’s bag as it was offered to him. Honestly, the walk was too short for such a gesture, but it was the thought that counted.
Around ten minutes into their study session, Atsumu once again found himself drifting off. It was as if his eyes were trying to commit the sight of Kita to memory. The hazel of his eyes, the way specks of gold shone within them as the late afternoon sun cast a warm glow. The rise of his cheekbones, and the way a faint smattering of pink rested upon them.
“ ... God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate, ” Kita read aloud. Atsumu lost himself in the melody, sweet enough to lure him to his demise. “ ... We have but to seek another nourishment for the mind, ” he continued on, as Atsumu watched the pink of his lips and the way they curled around white teeth. “… Fortune has blocked up against us, if rougher than it, ” Kita finished, then looked up at him expectantly.
As he’d barely paid any attention to what was actually said in the last 5 minutes, Atsumu didn’t actually know what was being asked of him, He gave Kita a sheepish smile, to which his tutor gave him an amused shake of his head. “What characteristic does the speaker exemplify in this situation? Here, I’ll give you choices: dauntlessness, percipience, ambition, prudence.”
Atsumu was only sure of the definition of one of those words, so that was the one he went for. “Ambition,” he answered, trying to sound as sure of himself as possible.
“That’s right,” Kita told him, smiling in a way that made his eyes crinkle. It was a smile that held the brightness of a thousand suns, and Atsumu considered himself blessed to be able to stand witness to it.
“ Ambition ,” Atsumu repeated, sounding the word out to himself. What a curious thing to think about. Osamu kept telling him that he was too hungry for his own good, that one day the world wouldn’t be able to keep up with his demands. In Atsumu’s opinion, that wasn’t any problem of his. The world would have to adjust to keep up with him, because he didn’t have any plans of slowing down any time soon. In this case, Atsumu supposed that hunger could equate to ambition. The top of the world was far off yet, and he wasn’t stopping until he got there.
Before Kita could move onto the next passage, Atsumu recalled that Kita agreed to help him with English as a way to practice for entrance exams. “Say, Kita-san, what’re ya gonna take up in college?” he asked, resting his chin on one hand.
Kita looked back up at him, intrigued by the sudden question. “Agricultural sciences,” he replied easily, like there was no doubt about it.
The answer surprised Atsumu. He’d expected Kita to go into something like law, or maybe even business, something that suited his stoic nature and could make practical use of his killer poker face. “Really?” Atsumu asked, then realized that his reaction could be interpreted as rude. He waved both hands in front of him. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course! I-I’m just surprised, is all!”
“You’re not the first to have that reaction,” Kita said, looking off to the side as if recalling some memory. His eyes met Atsumu’s again, and in them he saw nothing but contentment. “I suppose it’s a bit out of left field. But bein’ captain, and takin’ care of the team, lookin’ after you, and the others… It made me realize what I want outta life.”
Atsumu tried to swallow discreetly, trying not to make it obvious how much being equated into Kita’s revelations about his future was affecting him. “Yeah? Wassat?”
“Nurturing. Helping something grow. Knowing that the product of that’ll do some good in the world,” Kita said, folding his hands in front of him. “I’d be happy with a lifetime of that, I think.”
“Huh,” Atsumu said, mulling the words over for a bit. “That’s real deep, Kita-san. I feel kinda lame now, cause all I wanna do is go pro.”
“No shame in that,” Kita replied. “You’ve always had more ambition than the rest of us combined.”
There it was again. Ambition. Atsumu figured that it applied well enough. “I wanna get to the top, you know? Get into the league, get into the national team. Play at the olympics. Win.”
Smiling softly once again, Kita patted the back of Atsumu’s hand. “I have absolutely no doubt that you will,” he said.
It was no wonder that Kita was the top of class 3-7. After getting sidetracked for a bit, he’d launched into no-nonsense mode, barrelling Atsumu with practice questions that made his head spin. Kita’s methods, combined with Atsumu’s want to avoid disappointing him in any way, made for a very conducive learning environment. The other consequence of such a method, however, was that Atsumu couldn’t find a way to segue into his confession speech. The words he’d practiced all night left his brain with every passing minute he had to think about adjectives and conjugations instead.
At the top of the hour, when Kita declared that they’d done enough work for the day, Atsumu used the quick thinking he usually saved for the court to come up with a plan B. “I’ll walk ya home, Kita-san,” he said, taking Kita’s bag before the other boy could pick it up.
“I’m not a girl,” Kita repeated, amused. “You don’t have to, Atsumu. It’s fine.”
“It’s the least I can do,” Atsumu said again, securing the bag on his shoulder. “We go the same way anyway!”
Kita tilted his head in acquiesce. “Lead the way, then.”
A few minutes into their walk, the comfortable silence that had settled around them was abruptly broken by the sound of Kita’s phone sounding with a text message. They both stopped in their tracks as Kita checked his phone. “Anything wrong?” Atsumu asked.
“Naw,” Kita said, pocketing his phone again. “Granny just texted askin’ me to pass by the store to pick up some extra ingredients for dinner tonight.”
When Kita opened his palm as a way to take his bag back, Atsumu shook his head. “It’s a friday night,” he shrugged, trying to play cool. “And I’m not doing anything anyway, so why don’t I join ya?”
After all the badgering Atsumu had done the entire week, Kita seemed to realize that there was no talking him out of something he seemed determined to do. “Alright then,” he said, turning a corner.
As they entered the store, Atsumu, in all his clumsiness this week, bumped straight into someone. Looking down, he realized that the person in question was Hanamura-senpai, having apparently come from training as well.
“Oh! Atsumu-chan,” she said, smiling up at him. She brightened up even more at the sight of Kita beside him, who watched the mishap play out in quiet amusement. “Shin-kun!”
Shin-kun? Really? Hanamura-senpai and Kita were definitely friends, but such an intimate form of address implied another level of closeness. Atsumu fought with his facial muscles in an attempt not to frown.
“Tomo-chan,” Kita said. There they went again with the nicknames! The petty part of Atsumu’s brain had half a mind to leave the two to their own devices. “Nice to see you.”
“Same goes to you,” she said, her eyes flickering from Kita’s face, to Atsumu’s, to the sight of Kita’s bag on Atsumu’s shoulder. “Doin’ grocery shopping together, huh? That’s real domestic of ya, Atsumu-chan.”
The tone of her voice seemed to imply some deeper meaning to the statement, and it rubbed Atsumu the wrong way. “Yeah,” He gritted out, trying not to gnash his teeth together.
“Atsumu’s just helpin’ me with an errand for granny,” Kita said, placing a hand on his shoulder. Atsumu wasn’t sure if he’d imagined it, but Kita squeezed his shoulder lightly as if to tell him to calm down. “Says it’s the least he could do.”
“I can see that,” Hanamura-senpai nodded amicably, giving them a subtle once-over. She clapped her hands together and smiled at whatever she must have found. “Well, have a good night now, you two!”
“Same goes to you, Tomo-chan,” Kita said, letting go of Atsumu’s shoulder to step inside the store. Atsumu gave her a curt nod as well as she waved a goodbye as she went off on her way. What was up with that?
Good mood ruined, Atsumu grabbed a basket and followed Kita into the vegetable aisle. “According to granny’s list, we’re going to need…”
Around half an hour later, Kita seemed satisfied with their haul. “You can carry the groceries,” he said, finally taking his bag back from Atsumu, who was more than happy to be given a task.
It was another 10 minutes of walking before they got to Kita’s house. The faint smell of good cooking emanated to where they were standing at the front door. As if sensing that they were there, the door slid open to reveal Kita-obaasan, with her soft face and a kind smile that Atsumu saw mirrored in Kita’s everyday.
“Good evening, Obaasan,” Atsumu greeted, bowing his head as much as he could with an armful of groceries. Kita-obaasan ushered them in, gesturing for Atsumu towards the genkan.
When he placed the groceries down and nothing else, Kita-obaasan tutted at him, patting his shoulder. “Come in, come in, Atsumu-chan,” she said, taking one of the groceries while Kita took the other. “Why don’t you stay for dinner?”
Atsumu faltered in the middle of taking his shoes off. “Uh..” he said, looking up at Kita in askance.
Kita nodded at him from the other end of the hallway. “It’s just us two, so we’d enjoy the company,” he said, then started to make his way into the kitchen. “Granny made Chūtoro.”
Oh, god, the universe was out to get him today. Atsumu’s favourite food, and the opportunity to eat it with his favourite person. How could he say no to that? He wanted to say yes. He really, really wanted to, but the little voice in his head that unfortunately sounded like Osamu shouted you can’t confess in front of his grandma, stupid!
Imaginary Osamu had a point. Kita mentioned that his granny was constantly trying to set up impromptu omiai for him, much to his chagrin. She seemed determined to get him married off at the tender young age of 18. Atsumu personally thought that Kita would make an amazing husband. If he scribbled Kita Atsumu in the margins of his notebooks after that conversation, that was neither here nor there.
Atsumu wasn’t ready to get tied down to marriage just yet, even if it was to someone as amazing as Kita. If he confessed in this house, where Kita-obaasan was likely to overhear, who knew what would happen?
Luckily, Atsumu’s phone sounded with a text message from Osamu, asking where he was. It was fairly late, as the sun had set behind them some time ago. “Ah, I’d love to, Obaasan,” Atsumu said to Kita-Obaasan, who was watching him eagerly. He bowed his head in apology. “Unfortunately, my parents are expecting me at home, so I really can’t stay. Thank you for the kind offer.”
“Maybe next time,” Kita said from the doorway to the kitchen.
Atsumu looked up to find two fond smiles directed at him. “Next time,” he agreed.
Osamu was waiting for him at the entrance to their room when he got home. “Well?” he asked, arms crossed expectantly.
“It was a bust,” Atsumu admitted, pushing past Osamu to slump onto the bottom bunk. “No-go. I ended up at his house. Kita-obaasan wanted me to stay for dinner.”
“What the fuck, ‘Tsumu, why didn’t you?” Osamu asked, kicking at Atsumu’s legs hanging off the bed. “You could be a married man by now.”
Atsumu pressed his face even harder into the mattress. “Don’t say that,” he groaned, feeling his face heat up. “My heart can’t take it.”
“Ugh, I’m out of options,” Osamu said, taking a seat next to Atsumu’s prone form. “You’re hopeless.”
Atsumu didn’t have anything to say in response, because the rush of emotions from the day was catching up to him and he found himself suddenly exhausted. Maybe he’d take a nap before dinner, just a short one. Osamu would wake him up beforehand.
“Hey, ‘Samu?” Atsumu drawled, feeling a wave of sleepiness wash over him. “I think… I think I don’t like Kita-san.”
Before Osamu could react in outrage, because what was all this for if Atsumu didn’t like Kita after all? Atsumu flipped around to face him even with his eyes closed. “I think…” He yawned. “I love him… mhmm,” he said, as he finally drifted off to sleep.
“Huh,” Osamu said.