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Consolation Prize

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He didn’t think anything of it until Osamu said something.

“You’ve got a crush on someone.”

A few cocoa flakes tumbled off the spoon poised in front of Atsumu’s open mouth as he glared at his twin from across the kitchen. Osamu had his fringe pinned back with a couple of their mother’s small claw clips where he sat at the kitchen table. It was a habit he formed their last year of junior high when the pair of them were studying for high school entrance exams. Osamu always rested his forehead in his hand while he studied, and complained about his bangs getting greasy. When Atsumu pointed out that Osamu’s bangs also got gross during volleyball and that he should wear clips all the time, he incited an argument about the difference between greasy and sweat drenched hair. And he also got a few punches for his trouble. Osamu had his chin resting in his palm while he fiddled with his pencil as he watched his brother with vague interest. Atsumu shoved the spoon of cereal into his mouth.

“Wuff arfu ‘alkin ‘bou?” asked Atsumu around the cocoa flakes.

Osamu’s lip curled in disgust. “God, you’re an animal.”

Atsumu somehow managed a smug smile as he finished chewing and swallowed.

“Which makes you 50% animal.” Atsumu responded, lifting another spoonful of cereal to his mouth.

“That’s bad even for you, ‘Tsumu.” Osamu said after a pause, eyes dropping back down to his homework.

“Oi!” Atsumu snapped, pointing his spoon at his brother. “Don’t sass me! You’re the one that said something stupid !”

“What? About you having a crush?” Osamu leaned back in his chair bringing his eyes back up to Atsumu.

Eyebrows threatening to disappear in his hairline, Atsumu waved his hand in a circle to get Osamu to elaborate after depositing his empty bowl in the sink. He was still chewing on his last mouthful, which wasn’t a sensible bite, and he knew if he tried to talk he’d end up spitting food everywhere. Twirling his pencil between his fingers Osamu tilted his head to the side as he considered Atsumu with a bored expression.

“You’ve been smiling to yourself.” said Osamu.

What?! ” Atsumu choked on an incredulous laugh. “ That’s why you think I have a crush? Because I’m smiling ? Then I guess I’m perpetually crushing on someone since I smile everyday, ‘Samu.”

Osamu frowned at Atsumu’s sarcasm, eyebrows sliding low above his eyes. “No, you dumbass. I said smiling to yourself , like when you’re spacing out. You’ve been like that since you came home from training camp.”

“I have?” said Atsumu with a blink.

He rolled his eyes to the ceiling, lips twisting in a lopsided frown. Since he returned home the training camp had been on his mind a lot. He’d been mulling over everything Coach Hibarida told him during the camp, and applied a lot of it to his regular practice with the team. He wondered how plausible it would be to be able to go again next year. He also thought about the different players he met and their skill levels. Since he came home he was suddenly interested in the volleyball statistics of high schools in the Miyagi prefecture, and when the last time Karasuno even made it to nationals. He thought about Tobio-kun’s face scrunched up in intense thought after he had called him a goody two shoes. A small smile tugged the corners of Atsumu’s mouth. He thought about the look in Tobio-kun’s clear, sharp eyes calling for the ball when he set for him, and the tiny warbled smile he tried to conceal afterwards. He honestly took himself too seriously for a high schooler. It was down right adorable.

“Yep. There it is again. So,” Osamu drew out the single syllable word to regain his brother’s attention. “Who is he?”

Atsumu felt his ears burn as he dragged his eyes back down to his twin who looked far too smug for his own good.

“Shut up.” grumbled Atsumu.

Since then it was all he could think about.

.o.

“Atsumu, honey, can you take out the trash?”

Atsumu couldn’t remember the last time he had a crush on someone. It might have been in elementary school, on the school nurse. He would never admit it outloud but he was a clumsy little kid so he visited the health office almost on a daily basis. She had a dazzling smile and was always bubbly and happy to see you (even if your nose was bleeding all over the floor).

Kid crushes on adults didn’t count. Atsumu drummed his fingers against his lips watching Russet Sparrows flit among the bare branches outside the window. Maybe it was junior high? There was that track and field jock, Oguri, from Class 3 that always had stupid stylish hair and a pretty face. He had these strange slate colored eyes that reminded Atsumu of storm clouds, and Oguri told him he thought he was creepy because he was a twin. The offhand comment didn’t stop Atsumu from like liking him. The track and field team shared a storage space with the volleyball team for a year, and Atsumu really enjoyed Oguri’s crass sense of humor. After watching the pair of them snicker over some joke that Atsumu would probably think was embarrassing today, Osamu said they were meant for eachother because they both were equally hated by everyone. Oguri didn’t find it as funny as Atsumu did. Prick.

“Atsumu? Are you listening?”

Tobio-kun had similar eyes to Oguri. Well, that wasn’t true. Tobio-kun’s eyes were more like the color of ink than storm clouds, and were capable of positively lethal glares. Atsumu smirked. He wondered if Tobio-kun had always looked like he was going to tear into the next person who talked to him, or if it was a more recent development. It was a shame. Tobio-kun had such a nice face. The few brief small smiles Atsumu witnessed during the camp had him wondering how a smile that reached the eyes would look on Tobio-kun. Atsumu rested his chin in his palm, eyes still focused outside the window though the birds had flew away. He wondered what Tobio-kun was like away from the court. Atsumu could surmise with confidence that Tobio-kun was like him and probably thought about volleyball 90% of the time, but he wondered what that other 10% might be. Atsumu sighed, smiling against his fingertips. He really wanted to meet Tobio-kun off of the court and find out.

“Are you kidding me? AT-SU-MU-CHAN!”

The sharp slap of a rolled up newspaper against the back of his head snapped Atsumu from his thoughts with a startled sound.

“What the fuck?!” shouted Atsumu, rubbing the back of his head as he rounded on a smirking Osamu.

“Osamu, don’t hit your brother.” scolded their mother with her hands on her hips as she glared between her sons. “And Atsumu, swear jar!”

Shooting Osamu the dirtiest look he could manage Atsumu slide out of his spot at the table to dig loose change from his pocket. His twin sing songed an apology to their mom as he took a cautionary step away from Atsumu when he moved into the kitchen.

“It’s not like you to be so unfocused, Atsumu.” said their mother over the dull clink of the change falling into the nearly full jar. “Especially with nationals around the corner. Are you feeling alright, honey?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Atsumu flashed his mom a smile as he tied off the garbage bag. “I guess I just have a lot on my mind is all.”

Osamu snorted. “Yeah, like his boyfriend.”

Ears immediately burning a bright pink Atsumu jabbed a finger at his twin shouting, “Sh-shut up! He’s not my boyfriend!”

“Boyfriend? Atsumu, you have a boyfriend?” Their mother chimed in looking up from the vegetables she was chopping. “Who is it? Is it Kita-san?” Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper.

What ?!” Atsumu’s voice cracked as he spun around to face their mother. He could feel his blush bleed into his cheeks, and he threw a snarl over his shoulder to Osamu who started laughing.

“Mom!” gasped Osamu, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes. “Why is Kita the first person you thought of?”

“Well,” their mother started, tucking a lock of ebony hair behind her ear before resuming chopping vegetables. “He’s thoughtful and responsible. He’d make a good husband for you, Atsumu.”

Atsumu’s jaw dropped as he stared wide eyed at his mother as she gave him a playful wink. There were times that Atsumu forgot that he and Osamu learned their sass and art of trolling from their mother. Other times it was a harsh reminder and left Atsumu feeling betrayed.

“Ew, no, I don’t want him as a brother in law. ‘Tsumu, pick someone else.” Osamu’s tone had a hint of a whine to it, but when Atsumu flicked his gaze over to his twin there was a grin plastered on his face.

Snatching the bag of trash from the floor Atsumu stomped out of the kitchen. “YOU GUYS ARE THE WORST!”

So, maybe h e did have a crush on Tobio-kun, but just a small one.

.o.

Stepping under the bright lights of the stadium on the second day of nationals Atsumu’s eyes immediately scanned the gym. The night before he had stared at the bracket sheet and the little highlighter trail between ‘Karasuno’ and ‘Inarizaki’, and couldn’t 100% dismiss his heart fluttering in his chest was just from pre-game excitement. Atsumu had definitely hoped that he would be able to play against Tobio-kun. Normally he would have written off the thrill of adrenaline coursing through his veins as just anticipation of a solid match, but he couldn’t lie to himself that he was excited to see Tobio-kun. So when his eyes finally pinpointed that endearing scowl out of the sea of faces Atsumu couldn’t help but grin.

He watched Tobio flick his bangs from his keen eyes focused on the ball tossed to him. Even with warmups he was diligent; perfect form and rapt attention. His skin glowed with a dusting of pink across his cheeks from the exertion, and when he wet his lips with his tongue Atsumu swallowed. Oh. Atsumu twirled the ball he forgot he was holding between his palms, forcing himself to redirect his attention to his team. It felt like his heart was trying to crawl up his throat, a warbled smile twisting his lips. He half expected for Osamu to pick up on it, to follow his eyes and figure out who exactly he had been “crushing” on, but when he glanced to his side he found Osamu complete focused on their warmups. Atsumu would never tell Osamu that he appreciated that he didn’t half-ass anything, especially now since he was pretty sure his ears had turned a nice shade of salmon pink.

A flash of copper in the corner of his vision drew Atsumu’s attention from Akagi’s agility exercise to the sidelines. During the camp Tobio-kun had made immaculate tosses to a phantom spiker, claiming it was out of habit. At the time Atsumu figured it was normal considering most of the tosses happened during the first couple days of camp, and he didn’t think anything more of it. Tobio-kun communicated with his spikers and gave them the tosses they wanted. And Atsumu wanted to see who that phantom spiker was in the flesh. In his mind he imagined someone similar to Tobio-kun; tall, serious and talented. So when Atsumu watched the ball slip past the small hands of Tobio-kun’s partner and hit them in the face, he wasn’t sure if what he was feeling was relief or disappointment.

“Hinata, dumbass!” Tobio-kun snapped, a severe crease forming between his brows.

The harsh cadence of his voice was something Atsumu didn’t hear during their short time together, and it sent a shiver running up his spine. He lazily tossed the ball he was holding into the cart as he stepped over to the side lines.

“You’re really into it aren’tcha!” Atsumu called, a small chuckle clinging to his words.

He carefully arranged an amused smile on his face as he folded his arms. Tobio-kun’s eyes widened a fraction when he looked over his shoulder. Recognition quickly flashed in those deep blue pools and Atsumu couldn’t help his smile going just a tiny bit more wide.

Tobio turned away from his fiery haired partner and stepped over to the low barrier. “Hey.”

“Ya’ been well, Tobio-kun?” asked Atsumu, a slight tilt to his head as he watched Tobio lean against the barrier.

His heart beat hard against his ribcage, and his fingers itched with the desire to reach out and card through Tobio’s sweaty hair. It took a considerable amount of effort not to drop his gaze to Tobio’s mouth when he responded with a simple ‘yes’.

“Give it your all today, ya’ hear me?” Atsumu kept his tone light. “Cuz I seriously hate playing matches against people who choke under the pressure of an actual game.”

Atsumu impressed himself that he was able to keep his tone measured, that his words didn’t end on a harsh note as he slid his gaze over to Tobio-kun’s partner. They had a cute, open face. Bright large eyes that glimmered under the bright lights, a small pout twisting their lips as they met Atsumu’s gaze.

“Well… I’m sorry to hear that.” Tobio’s words drew Atsumu’s attention back. There were traces of amusement his eyes despite his stoic expression which made Atsumu smirk.

“Why are you apologising, Kageyama you bastard!” squawked his tiny partner, making Atsumu’s smirk grow into a grin.

“I don’t choke during games though.” Tobio-kun said the words so matter-of-factly that Atsumu couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I know, I know.” replied Atsumu.

“I can’t say the same for that one over there though.” Tobio-kun continued, inclining his head a little toward his partner. All traces of amusement bled from his eyes and they became steely. “But... he’s definitely not a pushover either… So, don’t worry, you’ll have your hands full.”

Though Tobio-kun’s words were light, conversational even, but Atsumu could feel the weight of a challenge behind them. Another shiver traveled up the length of his spine, and he knew the look he was giving Tobio-kun was absolutely feral.

.o.

They lost.

Atsumu’s nose and cheeks burned from the chill of the night nipping at his exposed skin. His body ached but he was restless, and no one objected when he said he was going for a walk. Images of the match flashed behind Atsumu’s eyes as he walked directionless through the city. Kita told him that it felt like he was trying to serenade Tobio-kun, and Atsumu didn’t think he ever blushed so hard in his life. Osamu and Suna wasted no time in jumping in and pointing out how he was more interested in Karasuno’s setter than the rest of the team. It wasn’t true, of course, but his brother and Suna never gave up on any opportunity to be out right jackasses. Kita apologised, quietly telling Atsumu that he didn’t mean to imply anything other than Tobio-kun being a worthy rival for him. It was at that moment that the bitter tears of defeat that burned the back of his eyes spilled over.

Atsumu swallowed thickly against a lump that rose in his throat at the memory. They were the runner-up again, and it sucked. He thought about the look of shock on each member of Karasuno’s face when the signal sounded their winning point. He remembered Tobio’s hand shooting out and grabbing #10’s jersey, the look they gave one another, the way they clung to each other before the rest of their team crushed them in their own embraces. A prick of jealousy mingled with the frustration and agony gnawing at Atsumu’s chest. It felt like there was significance behind that look, something beyond mere teammates. Tobio’s grip was firm when he shook his hand, his gaze sharp and in that moment Atsumu wanted nothing more than to duck under the net and kiss him. If Atsumu was being honest with himself, it wasn’t the first time that night he wanted to kiss Tobio-kun. Since his near replication of Tobio-kun’s and his partner’s quick, Atsumu wanted to plant a kiss on the crack of annoyance in Tobio’s calm and collected demeanor. Each time their gaze meant, the energy crackling between them, the small twist to Tobio’s brow had Atsumu’s heart beating harder. Atsumu physically shook his head, trying to get the memory and the inappropriate feelings out of his body.

The crunch of gravel under his foot had Atsumu dragging his focus back to his surroundings. He found himself standing in a park dimly lit be a few scattered streetlights. He inhaled deeply through his nose, the cold of night chilling the back of his throat as he closed his eyes. Osamu had been right, not like he would ever tell him. A small smile tugged at Atsumu’s lips. He liked liked Tobio-kun. You didn’t look at someone who you knew loved the same thing you did with just as much fervor as you, and then wonder what they thought about outside of that thing and not not have feelings . Atsumu titled his head back, eyes cracking open to stare up at the sky starless from the bright city lights. Feelings, huh? Rapid footsteps and haggard breaths, and the skid of feet against the gravel had Atsumu turning his head to the source of the noise. Atsumu’s face went slack, eyes going wide and heart flipping inside his ribcage.

As if his thoughts had summoned him Tobio stood at the opposite entrance of the park out, his breaths leaving him as large puffs in the frigid air. His face had pink blotches on his cheeks both from the wind chill and the run, and his hair shimmered like waves of the sea under moonlight when he bent over with his hands on his knees. Inside his jacket pockets Atsumu’s palms started to sweat. He didn’t particularly believe in providence, but if Kita was here he would say this some sort of divine sign. Atsumu gaze flicked to Shouyou-kun, Tobio-kun’s partner , stumbling to a stop besides him.

“Alright kids, you had your fun, it’s time to go home and put on your footy pajamas.” came a honied tone from behind them as that other annoying middle blocker slowly slid into view leaning lazily against the handlebars of his bike.

Atsumu snorted softly and inwardly rolled his eyes. Like the gods cared about Atsumu’s stupid crush.

“My, my!” Atsumu called as he directed his steps towards his former competitors. A grin split across his face at the look of surprised on Tobio’s flushed face when his head snapped up. “Y’all just have endless amounts of energy, huh?”

Tobio straightened, his chest still rising heavily with his breaths keeping his sharp gaze locked on Atsumu’s.

“Miya…! Ah… Uhm…” Shouyou huffed, struggling to stand straight with a confused expression twisting his features.

Atsumu raised his eyebrows as he amusedly watched the little spit fire visibly struggle with trying to figure out which twin he was. He stood beside Tobio, encroaching on his space a little that if Tobio placed his hands in his pockets their elbows would bump. Through the corners of his vision he saw the glint of the streetlight reflect on Tsukishima’s glasses as he tilted his head back.

“Atsumu.” Tsukishima supplied with an exasperated sigh.

“R-Right!” Shouyou stammered, pushing the hair sticking to his forehead back.

With a hum, Atsumu slid his gaze to the middle blocker. “Ya’ remembered my name! I’m flattered.”

The look Tsukishima gave him was one he’s seen many times from his brother; one completely unimpressed with a splash of disdain. Atsumu chuckled watching the half shrug Tsukishima gave in response.

“What are you doing out here?” asked Shouyou, before blowing into his cupped hands.

“Nothin’.I was just feeling restless.” Atsumu replied with a shrug, small smile still on his face. He shifted his gaze back to Tobio’s. His fingers twitched inside his pockets and he had to fight the urge to take Tobio’s hand closest to him, intertwine their fingers and tuck their joined hands back into his pocket. “I would have ran too, if I was a masochist.”

Tobio’s gaze narrowed a fraction, his jaw crossing and Atsumu couldn’t help smiling a little wider. Tobio was always so fun to tease. Through the corners of his vision Atsumu could see Tsukishima watching him. If he focused enough he could feel the weight behind the intensity of that gaze, so he had no choice but to redirect his attention to the middle blocker. His gold eyes were oddly pale under the dim light of the streetlight and they way he was staring was pointedly analytical. Atsumu watched as Tsukishima’s gaze flicked to Tobio, and a smirk pulled at his lips when he brought his eyes back to Atsumu’s. It felt a little bit like being found out. Something screamed at Atsumu to just say goodnight and walk away, but that something clearly didn’t know how stubborn Atsumu could be.

“Hinata, let’s go.” Tsukishima’s tone was bored, his expression quickly changing to match as he regarded his teammate.

Atsumu blinked, feeling a little winded and surprisingly grateful .

“What…?” Tobio mumbled, turning his head to consider Tsukishima.

“What? Why?!” Shouyou squawked, looking much like a baby bird with their feathers ruffled.

“Didn’t you say you wanted to call Kenma?” Tsukishima replied, rolling slowly backwards on the bike.

Atsumu squeezed his eyes shut at the startled sound Shouyou-kun emitted and suddenly felt a pang of sympathy for having a living fog horn on their team. He cracked his eyes open once he heard Shouyou-kun take off to run in the direction they’d come. He stopped abruptly and turned to look over his shoulder at Tobio-kun and Atsumu bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from scowling.

“But Kageyama--” Shouyou started, his expression somewhere between disappointment and concern.

“Can have 5 more minutes!” Tsukishima called from further down the street.

Atsumu pulled a hand from his pocket to wave at Shouyou-kun, smirking at the small pout he was given before dashing off after his teammate. On the court Atsumu knew that Tsukishima was cunning, but if he didn’t know how perceptive the middle blocker was then Atsumu certainly did now . Tobio shifted as he placed his hands in his pockets, their elbows brushing from the movement. Atsumu half expected Tobio to step away, to allow a polite amount of space between them but was pleasantly surprised when he stayed.

“Congratulations are in order, right?” Atsumu began conversationally, turning to face Tobio-kun. “You surprised me today. Well done.”

Tobio swallowed thickly, the bob of his adam’s apple catching Atsumu’s attention for a brief moment. There was a faint crease between Tobio’s brows and he pressed his mouth into a firm line. He was visibly uncomfortable, and Atsumu suppose he understood. Tobio-kun probably thought Atsumu was goading him instead of being sincere. That, or he was trying to figure out how to respond and spare Atsumu’s feelings. Atsumu sure hoped it wasn’t the latter.

“Thank you.” Tobio spoke stiffly after a moment. “I’m glad that I was able to play against your 120%.”

Atsumu looked away in a vain attempt to hide his grin. He felt giddy at the strange compliment, his heart doing flips in his chest and the urge to grab Tobio-kun and kiss his stupid face set fire to his blood.

“I’ll triple it next year, so ya’ better not slack off.” Atsumu spoke softly, turning back to Tobio who smirked.

“Like I would.” scoffed Tobio.

He was so earnest that it made Atsumu want to hit him. His goody-two-shoes. Affection swelled in his chest and he took a step further into Tobio’s space. Atsumu watched the smirk fall from Tobio’s face and how his eyes widened a fraction when he reached up and slipped his hand along his neck. Tobio’s skin was cold beneath the heat of his palm. Atsumu gently tangled his fingers in the damp hair at the back of Tobios’ neck, his thumb brushing the shell of his ear. Tobio had visibly tensed, his sharp eyes black under the poor lighting as they scanned Atsumu’s.

“Do I get a consolation prize?” Atsumu whispered into the space between them.

Tobio’s gaze narrowed as he considered Atsumu’s words. Atsumu wondered if he even caught on to the subtly. It took every ounce of self control keep his expression relaxed despite his blood rushing in his ears, and his heart hammering in his chest. He wasn’t exactly sure how he would recover if Tobio-kun rejected him. There was no guarantee that he would be able to hide his hurt behind a joke because he not only was hurting from today’s loss but because he seriously liked Tobio-kun. So when Tobio’s brow creased and his gaze skirted around Atsumu held his breath. Tobio’s mouth twitched, eyes set somewhere off to his left.

“S...Sure.” Tobio mumbled, and Atsumu could feel his neck heat up beneath his palm.

It felt like victory. Atsumu slowly released his breath hoping to calm the his heart as he stepped further into Tobio’s space. He tipped his head down so their foreheads rested against each other. The time between the training camp and now suddenly felt like it had dragged on for ages, leaving an ache in Atsumu’s chest. The match only mere hours before felt like it happened a lifetime ago and Atsumu knew nothing else but the need to kiss Kageyama Tobio. He felt nervous, and excited, and a touch of sadness. He closed his eyes, his nose brushing against Tobio’s as he tilted his head. Each action was slow with purpose. Atsumu wanted to burn the memory of having Tobio so intimately close into his mind. He swallowed against a lump that had formed in his throat, his hand gently cupping the back of Tobio’s neck.

“I like you, Tobio-kun.” Atsumu’s confession was a ghost against Tobio’s mouth.

The only indication that Tobio had heard was a short intake of breath from between his parted lips. Atsumu pressed a soft kiss against Tobio’s bottom lip. It was sweet and chaste and Atsumu found himself blushing at its tenderness. This was the kiss that he had waited for all night. He chanced another kiss, just as chaste but languid and maybe a touch firmer. He could have sworn he felt Tobio return it weakly, but Atsumu wrote it off as wishful thinking. There was a small sound when their lips parted. Just when Atsumu was about to lean away Tobio reached up and fisted his hand in Atsumu’s jacket, tugging him closer as he chased after his lips with his own. A strange sort of fluttery feeling like relief flooded Atsumu’s chest and he smiled into the kiss.

Maybe the gods did care about his stupid crush.