Atsumu is fairly sure the third year at high school is designed to kill off people so universities have enough spaces to fit the rest of the surviving kids in. There are too many kids and not enough space for them to go. It's the only logical explanation. Why else would they have brats in the volleyball club where they are fully within killing range where they can just die normally under the full glare of their beloved captain, Suna-san?
Third year in high school wants him to boil over and die of sheer anger, because he's so close to losing it at any given moment, he could just keel over and die. 'Samu calls him dramatic, but he can't say shit because they're twins, so it'll all bounce back to him either way, so he resorts to sitting around and stewing.
No wonder Aran, Akagi and Kita-san hated the sight of him and 'Samu - they were the resident problem children just months ago when it was last year. Aran told him to suck it up, princess, it's a part of senior citizen life and Kita-san just left the message on read.
So yeah, nothing's really changed.
He's on the floor now, part of the ground everyone is stepping over, paying no attention to what they are whispering about him because his wrists are still throbbing, the tosses more severe and dangerous this time because Captain's orders. Suna gets like this when the first years showed him something particularly stunt-y and insane on their phones - maybe it's pay back for when the Miya boys stuffed him in a volleyball cart and threw him across the gym so hard the cart and him did three cartwheels around the gym until it spat him out. Gin still has a video of that. They showed it to the kids at orientation.
Now Suna has an Atsumu-shaped revenge scheme in motion and Atsumu can’t really catch his breath. The new Captain is ruthless, perhaps even more than the last. Robot face or not, Kita-san took care of each and every member of his standing list of problem children, even if they had drawn crude penises on a volleyball, newly inflated and decorated, as a parting gift for him on graduation day. Suna made them scrub the floor with their shirts when he finds even the smallest scratch marks on the pristine flooring. These two captains are not the same.
He, half an eye not working because the new first year, Yushiro, spiked a mean serve right onto his face and he will have to sport that purple eye for the next three weeks, types into the Inarizaki group chat.
Tsumu: anyone free to take me out
Gin: like on a date???
Rin: i have the guy's number on speed dial we can contact him rn
Akagi: damn thats very efficient of u
Akagi: also a lot of words senpai is proud of u, rin
Rin: you are the only one who ever appreciates me in this house, akagi-senpai
Rin: it's only a thought, ojiro-san
Tsumu: date or sniper, idk, not picky, surprise me
Sam: bad though tbh
Tsumu: gO homE
He doesn't think too much of it until one day, third period, ethics class, that he got a text from the Old Captain Man.
Well that's fucking ominous.
Me: Hi Kita-san
Me: Kita-san you're scaring me
Kita-san: And you're meant to be studying and paying attention in class but here we are
Me: i was paying attention! promise! but i finished all of today's homework when rin forced me and samu to finish everything yesterday so now i'm just sittin' here. lit rally vibing in class rn
Kita-san: Be a good model to the first years, or else you will have a long year ahead
Me: I ALREADY AM HAVING A LONG YEAR
Kita-san: The year is half way done, Atsumu
Me: it feels like ten years already
Me: also time is relative based on einstein's finding of relativity so it could very much be any time on a different location SO WHAT I SAY HAS CREDENCE
Kita-san: I will pretend to understand what you meant. And that I also care
Atsumu snaps his head up when he feels a piece of lead flinging in his direction. Takeda behind him gestures to his English workbook, opening her hand. He quickly hands it over, feeling no guilt or regret, since she saved his ass in first period maths and also half the workout is Aran's anyways.
Me: kita-sannnnn why did you text me aren't u busyyyy
Kita-san: Well you did say you wanted to be taken out
Me: with a sniper rifle to the back of my head, JFK style
Kita-san: I'm sure Sakusa-kun would be more than inclined to carry that out upon request, but I was thinking of something less deadly
Me : KIYOOMI IS A COWARD HE WOULD JUST POISON ME
Kita-san : Good for you both
Kita-san : There is this night market on campus. You think you can catch a train here in one piece? I'll wait for you on the station
Me : kita-san u didn't ask the important question
Kita-san : Do you like cotton candy…?
Me : WHAT DAY IS IT ON
Kita-san : Oh. It's on the Saturday after next week
Me : going to bully rin into taking samu away so i can go give me half a day
Kita-san : They'll just read books like old men and try to finish crosswords
Me : don't ruin their fun
Atsumu pockets his phone so that he can start penning down ideas for the PowerPoint presentation he'll end up making to appeal to Suna's unmoving heart. His brother takes zero second of convincing whenever the sentence has Rin in it - a weakness he readily exploits whenever it suits him. It suits him now. He will Do It.
Predictably, Suna turns an unimpressed eyebrow at him and stays approximately a mop away from him. He wails and cooks up half a fit of justified water wauling before Coach Oonami threatens to make him receive Kosaku's devastating jump serves that Rin had been training him in. He's a setter! Let him set! Why won't they let him set!
"Shut him up," Riseki sighs. He wails even louder.
"Hei-chan!" He cries, flopping onto the ground. "Is this how you treat your senpai? Of almost two years?"
The kid justifiably ignores him and his antics. Rude. There is no respect left here. What happened to the good ol' days when the kouhais listen to their senpais?
"You never listened to your senpai, though, Atsumu-san," Riseki points out.
Samu, on the other side of the net, coughs out a loud pot kettle. Atsumu throws a shoe at him and cries into the willing shoulder of their first year libero, Hattori, who is too nice for everything that Inarizaki is dumping onto him.
"Listen up!" Gin hollers, as Suna sticks a finger into his ear. He winks at Atsumu. "Tsumu got something to say!"
Coach yells at them to focus, but Kosaku has had enough of snapping his wrist until it breaks, so he looks pleadingly to the coach, raccoon eyes working their magic.
Since he's the only standing member of Good Kids I Like In This Hellhole, both coaches fold like wet cardboard in the rain, sighing as he turns back to Suna, rising on an elbow. "Captain."
Suna stares back at him. "Kosaku."
"Why are you moving away."
"Why do you think I'm doing that."
Atsumu lunges over to his brother, whispering the magic words Rin - you - date for Osamu to swivel around and put Suna in a chokehold, yanking him up. If it was anyone else, they would be dead, but since Suna makes precisely one exception (his gremlin, resting bitch face brother) they will readily exploit that. Suna won't punch Osamu in a way that would matter or genuinely hurt him - and so they'll let Osamu work his magic and get the whole team off gruesome weekend practice. It's really for the good of the whole club. They don't practice, he gets to hang out with Kita-san and get pampered. It's a win win situation.
Once they bullied Suna and the coaches into a front row audience view, Atsumu presents his PowerPoint, backed up with evidence and convincing rhetoric. The majority voted yes for practice to be called off that Saturday afternoon, because Kita-san, Ojiro and Akagi would return on a joined Wednesday beatdown session. The coaches were sold on that end, because while the kids are good, they do need an ace because Kosaku doesn't want the shirt and Osamu refuses to put on the death number, as he claimed, but he's full of shit and lazy, so he can't talk smack.
Rin doesn't look convinced, even as he lounges in Osamu's arms like he's a luxurious royal throne, specifically designed to be providing comfort and spinal support of his exclusive client and sovereign, Suna Rintarou. Nobody even bat an eye at that, after the entire Basketball Cart incident. Their captain goes through so much. He deserves to be held like he is a pampered, spoiled first imperial consort of an oddball emperor of a volleyball nation, which they nominate Osamu to be, for some reasons.
"Why won't you let us go," he whines, two slides away from finishing his presentation.
"Keep talking," Suna offers a hand. "I'm listenin'."
"But will you let us go?" He stresses, because he has his eyes on the greater goal like that.
Suna only shrugs back in response, slouching bonelessly in Osamu's spiker arms. "If you end it well enough."
In the end, Atsumu gets to go because his last slide is just a line of -
OTOUTO WILL TAKE CAPTAIN ON DATE
Needless to say, Atsumu hit them where it hurt most and Rin can't even fault him for it.
He texts Kita-san back, with just an equally ominous the overlord said die.
Kita-san: Good call, honestly
Me: kita-san don't be mean to me ill cry
Kita-san: Not where I can see it, Miya
There is a weird punk with matching dip dyed tips that are fading away with his naturally black hair, like the balayage he habitually splashed onto Atsumu's head. Raising a hand, Kita's mouth twitches slightly as Atsumu bounds over to him, puffer jacket thrown over a matching twin jumper that he's wearing as Atsumu skids to a stop before his old captain.
"Kita-san," he beams, visibly trying to contain his excitement. The fox eyes of his old senpai trace his movements, slow and assessing, before he cuts a sharp eye up at Atsumu, warm and gold.
"Didn't get lost. I'm impressed."
He waits for three more seconds when he can see that Atsumu will squirm himself to his death, then he lifts up both arms, nodding at Atsumu for him to step in.
"Kita-san," he sobs, two parts theatrical to three parts playing the role of the weak and pathetic junior, all to garner sympathy. It's a bit of a hit or miss game, because while Suna is susceptible to exploitation, he's set in his ways. Kita-san is very unpredictable and blows whichever way Mercury wants to turn. They'll sooner have a blood moon with a meteor shower in Kyoto than have Kita-san and his actions explained in this lifetime. Kita loves making the kids squirm with his face, devoid of emotions and warmness, until tears emerge and he has to comfort the kid. Atsumu is the kid. He is Kita's baby.
"You're so big now," Kita's voice drips with sarcasm, punctuated with fondness, as he allows Atsumu to burrow his face into a thin neck, arms coming up to wrap around his back. "What's with all this crying to your senpai, huh?"
He sniffs in no snot and clutches his senpai harder. "Take me to the cotton candy, senpai."
A hand on his head, easing him off a shoulder. "Then get off me. So we can go."
Atsumu doesn't let go of the smaller hand, callused from countless hours of violin, hooking their pinkies with each other.
As far as hangouts go, it’s not abjectly abysmal.
They ate some food - he ate a lot, Kita-san ate like half a stick of Peppero that he won in a game of ring toss. His backpack is full of little trinkets that he and his senpai both won in various games, a combination of him challenging Kita-san to certain games and Kita-san willingly indulging him in his whims. It’s a bit of a beautiful give and take dynamic, one he’ll treasure indefinitely because nobody treats him like he’s worth the time of their day anymore, even though he’s their local mascot and setter.
“How’s club going?” Kita-san asks him as he sips on his hot coffee and chokes, the burn flashing on his tongue and the roof of his mouth. Removing the steaming can away from him and his mittens, the older boy holds his face in his tiny violinist hands, callused and frost-kissed, tipping his face up and coaxing his mouth open, checking if he bit himself anywhere serious. Atsumu lets him, because he knows full well that he is a menace to himself and an endangerment to his own safety, so it’s better to trust the important matters of his health, safety and life to Kita-san, who will have the grace to send him home in a nice death box at least. All in complete, found pieces.
Atsumu hates the cold, insists on burning his tongue all night long on freshly fried vendor foods and Kita-san had to hold his hand whenever he got hurt and would flail about like a trapped animal, whining about the burn. Then he would repeat himself, like a liar, to Kita’s amused eye smiles, always a cold hand away from offering to his grabby one.
He huffs in cold breaths of air, breathing in the sight of Kita-san glowing silver and faint gold in the bouncing light of the newly constructed Ferris wheel, pale and a breath away from being blown in the wind. Atsumu thinks he’s a tiny little construction of atoms and blank stares with weird partings in his hair, and he’s the best and only Captain that he’ll ever defer to. Nothing more to it.
“Is it better now?” Kita-san leans closer, a breath away from his gulping open mouth, so that they share the same cold air, breathing each other in. “Miya.”
He startles, jerking away from the hands and the piercing eyes. “Uh. Ah. Yeah. I’m fine. Club’s fine.”
Kita-san raises an eyebrow at him. “That’s not what you told me yesterday when you made that tearful call in the middle of my much needed break from my lectures, Miya-kun."
He pouts, unafraid of how childish he is acting, turning a pink and lip-glossed lower lip at his old senpai. “Can’t we just forget club today, senpai? You’re already coming in in a couple of days to whip the kids into shape. You can just ask them about club then. Just pay attention to me now.”
Something softens Kita’s eyes. His hand - little, fierce, callused - reaches for the spot behind Atsumu’s ear, nails scratching lightly at his skull, pulling at a tuft of hair. He rears back, gasping theatrically to the sudden motion, scandalised noise in his throat when he catches the little smile sitting in the corner of his captain’s lips, pushing up round cheeks. He looks alive like this, bundled up in a scarf forced upon him by Aran and Akagi when they visit him, in a matching jumper with Atsumu.
Literally no thoughts in his head. He is just an empty shell.
“Needy,” Kita-san remarks, moving in closer to whisper in his ear. “I don’t hate it.”
He’s left choking out a that’s good to know, clutching his warmed coffee can, as Kita-san tugs him away, hand wrapped around his wrist.
As far as outings go, this one probably means something.
He knows he’s a lot to handle at any given moment in time and that he’s whimsical to an art form, but truly, he does not deserve to be walked to the train station as is the custom of two people courting one another, because they aren’t! Friends just wait for each other! They don’t walk each other to the train station, wait for them to fumble through their wallet full of notes exchanged with their brother and classmates, then lending them a keycard since they’ve misplaced their card somewhere! Friends don’t do that!
Clutching Kita’s neatly labelled keycard in his unworthy hands, Atsumu fights the urge to just..ask him...what’s up. Because that would be rude. And assumptive of him. What if Kita-san is just nice to his old kouhai? They are on their third year of knowing one another. Maybe the sweet facts of separation and a lack of responsibility over one another really made their relationship more amenable to one another. Maybe Atsumu is thinking ahead of himself and wishing this to be something that it’s not. He’s always liked Kita-san more than anyone else, ever since he was a wee first year and got consoled by Kita-san during a gruesome practice match. This man had always been able to tell him apart from his brother, way before the entire hair dying shenanigans. He had always taken care of everyone, but especially Atsumu, because he may be Inarizaki’s problem child, but he’s Kita’s all in all. But that doesn’t mean jack all if Kita-san only sees him as a kid brother and a kouhai, so perhaps Atsumu can play that part for now, tries hard to make him proud, because he can be that - be Kita Shinsuke’s pride.
“You’re thinking too hard about taking my keycard,” Kita’s bemused voice wakes him up from his little panic session, as he squawks and throws himself at his senpai.
“I am! I feel bad!” He whines, careening into welcoming arms. He is a scavenger. He will seize opportunities when they hit him.
“You’ve taken worse things though,” Kita-san muses.
Atsumu immediately springs away from him, mouth in a frown. “Like what?”
Kita only watches him, even, a lull on a lake. “Not telling.”
“Was today to your liking?” His senpai takes that step closer, righting his scarf bundle and brushing back his hair as he bends down, nudging his head into rough hands. It’s nice. He kinda wants to stay there forever.
A tug to his hair. “Atsumu. I asked a question.”
“Hmn mnn,” he mumbles, too blissed out to pronounce articulate words. “I like spending time with senpai.”
The hands pause, before they slip under his chin and pull him down, his eyes staring into silver eyes.
Kita-san smiles, miniscule as it is, but it is regardless - a smile. “Me too.”
Ah. His heart is pounding so hard that the pulse must be wildin’ out under his skin and onto his neck. It’s embarrassing. His blood shouldn’t be doing this pounding gig when he has a senpai to say a tearful goodbye to. It’s not good to lose concentration right now, team, get back on task.
“Let’s it again when you’re free,” he mumbles, lips curving into a pout. “I missed seeing you around.”
Kita-san smiles longer, and fonder. “What a needy thing. Guess I’ll take you out more often then.”
He trips at that.
“Uh. Senpai. What.”
Kita blinks up at him, all expressions sliding off his face. “You asked to be taken out? On a surprise? So I thought this date was a nice surprise.”
He’s doing that thing where he’s thinking a million things in a second, so Atsumu clasps his big awkward, teenage setter hands over the cold hands holding his chin, squeezing the fingers. “No, no, don’t panic, senpai. We can talk it through!”
Kita-san lifts an eyebrow at his volume. “Okay?”
“I love today! Would do it again, no complaints!” He declares to the platform and to the entirety of the Hyogo prefecture. “Just didn’t know today was a...date kinda thing?”
There is no expression on Kita’s face. Atsumu reasonably panics.
“Nope, not a date thing, okay, fine, fine, we can scrap that -”
“My, Atsumu-kun,” Kita drawls, a smirk gracing his lips. He’s tugging Atsumu down, down a rabbit hole, breath coming up to claim his. “I wasn’t aware friends do this to one another.”
(Atsumu goes home in a daze, walks into his brother’s room by accident, and spends about three hours screaming out the window.)
Suffice to say, when the new first years see how sticky Atsumu, resident dumbass and occasional nationally-approved setter, clings onto the club’s old captain, they turn to their present captain, pointing at the domestic face grabbing that is obscuring their view of the net.
“I thought,” Hattori starts, blinking. He can’t find his words. Suna blinks once back at him, prompting him to continue.
“We all thought it was a joke. A rumour at best,” Yushiro supplies, like it pains him to say these words.
“That,” Suna tries, he really did, to make it sound like a question, but it didn't work since he has precisely one tone of voice in addressing everyone else who isn't Osamu - the flat and unimpressed one. But the children understand. They appreciate the effort.
“That Atsumu-san had a crush on the old captain?” Hattori offers up, looking unsure of himself.
To this, Suna actually rolls his eyes, reaching over to pull their ears. “Keep that between us. It’s not a rumour, but I don’t want it populating the school grounds.”
Yushiro cuts a look at Atsumu demanding a kiss from a much shorter, and much too willing graduated senior. “Yeah, no worries on that.”