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Hinata meets Miya Atsumu at Sugawara's birthday party.

It is, by all accounts, an inconspicuous meeting that starts off innocent enough: nice to meet you, I'm Hinata Shouyou! And then, Hi, Shouyou-kun, you're pretty small, aren'tcha?

Okay, so maybe it’s not that innocent after all. Maybe it starts off with Hinata bristling at this big, tall asshole with dyed hair and an undercut. Can you blame him? Who calls someone small when they first meet them? Hinata didn’t grow ten centimeters and gain twenty pounds of lean muscle for a shady-looking—though admittedly hot—senior to call him small.

Of course, he doesn't say this out loud, because he's civil. Beside him, Kenma tenses because he knows how Hinata gets when he's mad. He doesn't have to worry. Hinata swallows his annoyance and smiles brightly, then just leaves the room.

"Bastard," he mutters under his breath to Kenma.

"Ignore him," Kenma says, sighing.

So Hinata does. That is, he tries. But later that night he sees Atsumu get down on the ground to do a one-handed pushup, probably to impress some girl, and his competitiveness flares up like a previously dormant volcano. With Kageyama gone, Hinata hasn't really had an outlet for this kind of thing, which is probably why he wants to do something very stupid.

"Oh no," Kenma says, when he realizes what Hinata is thinking.

"Is that it, Atsumu-san?" Hinata asks, scoffing. Atsumu looks up, taken aback, and Hinata smirks before getting down on the ground and doing two one-handed pushups.

"Whoa, Shouyou!" Nishinoya calls, impressed. He whistles. Hinata grins—he can always rely on Nishinoya for support.

People are beginning to look. Across the room, birthday boy Sugawara seems simultaneously apprehensive and excited. Daichi is literally on his toes. Why is everyone so worried? Hinata's not about to start a fight; he's just about to humiliate someone entirely in front of their friends.

Atsumu glares at him, apparently forgetting about whoever he was trying to impress. "Didn't know you were a show-off, Shouyou-kun," he says.

"I don't really know who you are, Atsumu-san,” Hinata says, just as spitefully.

"Bet you can't do more pushups than that," Atsumu says, narrowing his eyes.

"Bet I can do more than you," Hinata responds.

"Fight!" Nishinoya starts chanting. "Fight! Fight! Fight"

"NO FIGHTING," Daichi roars from across the room. He's so loud that everyone goes quiet and turns to look at him, and he blushes under the sudden attention. "Just—uh, have a competition or something," he finishes lamely.

Atsumu is already handing his twin brother his cell phone. "Set the timer for two minutes," he says. "We'll see who can do more." He turns to Hinata, smirks. "You gotta bend your arms to a ninety-degree angle, okay? You know that, right?"

"I do," Hinata snarls.

"Okay," Atsumu's twin says, "I'm starting in three, two, one—"

Hinata vaguely realizes the bizarreness of the whole situation. Why are they holding a pushup competition? This is a birthday party. Then again, this is a birthday party.

It's an agonizing experience—Atsumu is kind of impressive, Hinata will admit—but Hinata pushes through the pain because he's too busy replaying the sentence you're pretty small in his head to actually feel it. Nishinoya is yelling out numbers, absolutely losing his mind. So is Sugawara. Hinata can't really tell if he's winning or losing, but out of the corner of his eye he sees Atsumu struggling, and it gives him motivation for one last spurt of energy before the timer goes off.

People go wild. Nishinoya and Sugawara are shaking Hinata like he's gotten first place at the Olympics instead of a random competition on the floor of Yamaguchi's apartment: "Shouyou, you won! You won!" Even Kenma looks vaguely impressed. Daichi just looks like he's dodged a bullet. Atsumu's twin is laughing the hardest.

"How's that for being small?" Hinata says gloatingly, glancing at Atsumu. His chest is heaving, his arms and shoulders sore beyond belief, but he feels wonderfully satisfied.

If looks could kill, Hinata would be dead two times over. "Again," Atsumu grits out from where he's lying on the floor.

"No way," Hinata says. "I won fair and square."

Kenma helps him up, pulls him to the side. "Don't pick a fight, Shouyou," he says.

Hinata doesn't. He leaves Atsumu there on the floor, because he’s a mature adult. And when Kenma's not looking, Hinata turns around and sticks his tongue out.

 

That's supposed to be the end of things. There is almost no reason for Hinata to meet Miya Atsumu again after that—Atsumu is older than him by a year and lives off-campus in his own apartment (according to Yamaguchi). But who else strolls into the tiny little literature seminar that Hinata picked as his fun elective?

“Ah, hey,” Miya Atsumu says, when the professor asks him to introduce himself. His smile is so fake it smells like plastic. “I’m Miya Atsumu, and I switched into this class just yesterday.” He makes eye contact with Hinata. “I hope we all get along. And learn a lot.”

 The hair on the back of Hinata’s neck stands up. Atsumu’s smile is almost activating his fight-or-flight response. God, maybe Hinata should switch out. But he loves his prof, a gentle old man who’d given Hinata chocolates during office hours last semester. So he grits his teeth and smiles back.

There are literally six students in this seminar. Hinata is screwed.

 

To his credit, Miya Atsumu does not take this opportunity to physically fight Hinata. He does, however, do his utmost to best Hinata intellectually in front of the five other people in the class.

“Shouyou-kun, you have a point, but I think there’s much more nuance in the text that you didn’t consider for your analysis—”

“Shouyou-kun, you aren’t looking at the big picture, there’s no point in looking at that part of the poem in isolation—”

“Shouyou-kun, you have a spelling error in your presentation—”

 It gets to the point where Hinata is somehow conditioned to get angry just by being in the classroom. Half of the seminar consists of him and Atsumu trading barbs at this point, which the rest of the class watches with interest and amusement. Even their professor seems to enjoy it: “What a lively discussion!” he’ll say, pleased as punch.

Needless to say, Hinata spends a lot of his time in class angry-texting Kageyama about this, who humours him for the first week or so and then tells him to shut up and focus, because I have class too, you stupid idiot. Man, Hinata misses him. Why'd that big bastard have to move so far away?

“Maybe you should switch out of the class,” Kenma says tiredly, after Hinata starts complaining to him instead. “Take it next year or something.”

“But I’m doing so well,” Hinata groans.

It’s true—he’s doing so much reading to prepare for his weekly debates with Atsumu that he’s actually getting good grades for once. Like now, for instance: Hinata’s pretty proud when his professor hands back a major paper, and there’s a blue eighty-five at the top of the first page. He hides a smile before preparing to stuff it in his backpack.

Someone taps him on the shoulder, and Hinata whips around. It’s Atsumu. Look, he mouths, grinning, and points to his own paper. He’s gotten an eighty-seven.

Hinata has to hold back from physically grabbing the paper and smacking Atsumu across the face with it. 

 

This—this thing with Atsumu starts to bleed over into non-academia, too. Apparently, they have the same jogging route, but Atsumu goes a little earlier than Hinata, so it always looks like he’s running faster. Hinata can’t have any of that, so he starts waking up earlier too, just for the satisfaction of passing Atsumu without even speaking to him. Never mind that he’s literally passed out afterwards from running too hard. Atsumu's agonized expression when he tries to outrun Hinata but realizes he can't is so, so worth it.

Later, they meet in intramural volleyball, and oh—it gets personal. Atsumu manages to block Hinata not once but twice. Even though Hinata’s team wins, he’s still livid. He's already writing his angry text to Kageyama in his head: he wouldn't have blocked me if you were here, he would've looked so stupid—

Atsumu, for his part, is equally upset about his team’s loss, and glares at Hinata through the net at the end of the game.

“Boys,” Sugawara says resignedly, scratching his head when Atsumu and Hinata refuse to shake hands. “Boys, it’s intramurals. It’s literally just intramurals.”

 

And so it goes, back and forth. After a month or so, Hinata's friends are sick to death of him and Atsumu, ("I wish you two had never met," Kenma says honestly), tired of having to hold timers and count pushups or judge arm wrestling. On the other hand, Hinata could do this forever. Just looking at Atsumu gets his blood pumping. Researchers should really use him for some kind of medical trial.

By all rights, theirs should be a friendly rivalry. It is not. In fact, Miya Atsumu is probably the only person on campus Hinata actively dislikes. This doesn't go unnoticed by his friends, who are simultaneously concerned and amused.

“How is it,” Kenma says, “that you’re an absolute angel around everybody else, but when Miya shows up, you lose half your brain cells and start acting like a feral cat?”

Hinata opens his mouth to protest, but Kenma's kind of right. "He called me small," he ends up saying indignantly.

They're in the library, waiting for Yamaguchi to finish class. Kenma gives him a skeptical side-eye. "You need to stop taking stuff like that so personally, Shouyou," he says, and he sounds so sensible that Hinata feels abashed immediately. "There're always gonna be rude people, wherever you go."

Speaking of rude people, there's Miya Atsumu, wearing a baseball cap and checking out a book a short distance away. Hinata makes a sound in the back of his throat that sounds like a growl.

"Shouyou? Are you listening to me?" Kenma says, raising his head. He follows Hinata's line of sight. "Oh, no. Shouyou—"

It's too late. Hinata is striding up to Atsumu, bristling. "Atsumu-san!" he hisses.

Atsumu turns. "Whoa there," he says, and Hinata stops in his tracks—this person is way too quiet and calm to be Atsumu. "Shouyou-kun, was it?"

"Oh," Hinata says, mortified.

"Sorry to disappoint you," not-Atsumu continues. He takes off his hat, revealing a head of grey-brown hair. "I'm Osamu, not Atsumu." He sighs. "I should really ditch the hat, huh?"

"No!" Hinata squeaks. "I'm sorry—that was my fault, I totally forgot—"

Osamu waves a hand at him nonchalantly: don't worry about it. Even though they're identical, Hinata realizes that Osamu's pretty different from Atsumu: he seems much more laid-back, quietly confident. "No big deal," Osamu says. "Just glad I let you know before you came and decked me in the face or something. Or whatever it is you and my brother get up to."

"I've never decked him in the face!" Hinata blurts out indignantly.

"Yeah, but you'd like to, wouldn't you?" Osamu says. He smiles when Hinata turns red, amused. "It's okay. Unlike you, I actually have. On multiple occasions."

Ah, Hinata likes Osamu already. He's cool. He's the rich man's Atsumu. Or as Kenma would say, post-patch Atsumu. "You're cool, Osamu-san," he says honestly.

Osamu laughs. "What, because I've punched my brother?" He reaches out and ruffles Hinata's hair, the way Bokuto sometimes does. "You're a good kid, Shouyou-kun. Thanks for keeping Atsumu's giant ego in check."

"Thanks!" Hinata says brightly. "No problem!"

Osamu puts his cap back on again, grabs his book. "Well, I've gotta run," he says. "See you around, Shouyou-kun. I'll tell my brother you said hi."

And the he's gone, before Hinata can protest that he doesn't ever want to say hi to Atsumu. Feeling strangely starstruck, he makes his way back to Kenma, who looks at him and sighs.

"I tried to warn you," Kenma says.

"It's fine," Hinata says cheerfully. "He was really nice!"

"What," says Yamaguchi from behind them, making Hinata jump. "Did you confuse Osamu-san for Atsumu-san and try to pick a fight with him?"

"He did," Kenma says tiredly.

"Yeah, but I made friends with Osamu-san!" Hinata says. Admittedly, a part of him is a little disappointed that he didn't get to see Atsumu today, but he'd never say that out loud. Instead, he throws an arm around Yamaguchi, who exhales sharply with surprise. "Come on, let's go get lunch!"

 

A few days later, Hinata is sitting outside on a bench texting Kageyama, and Miya Atsumu decides to sidle up to him with that cocky, self-satisfied look on his face. It pisses Hinata off because he actually looks kind of attractive like that.

"Hey, Shouyou-kun," Atsumu says, sounding as insufferable as ever. "Samu said—"

"Osamu-san is cooler than you," Hinata says, cutting him off. "Why can't you be more like him?"

Atsumu blinks, taken aback. "Excuse me?" he says.

"He's so nice," Hinata says, "and you're so…" He makes a face.

Atsumu looks really offended. "I'm nice," he says, scoffing.

"Since when?" Hinata says, frowning.

"Well, I'm nice to people who are nice to me," Atsumu says pointedly, narrowing his eyes.

"So am I," Hinata says.

Atsumu huffs. "I am your senior, you know," he says. Hinata almost rolls his eyes—of course Atsumu pulls the age card when he has nothing else. "You might want to treat me with a bit of respect. Just maybe."

"Make me, senpai," Hinata says mutinously. Atsumu's face grows red, a splash of colour on his cheeks. They glare at each other silently, both unwilling to back down.

"Hi," says Kenma quietly. He'd walked up to them, unnoticed. Atsumu and Hinata whip around to look at him. "Are you guys done?”

“Yeah,” Hinata says, standing up and breaking eye contact with Atsumu. “Let’s go!” And then, with as much composure as he can muster, “I’ll see you in class, Atsumu-san.”

“Later, Shouyou-kun,” Atsumu says, sounding just as fake.

As they walk away, Kenma gives Hinata a look. "If you guys dislike each other so much," Kenma says, "why do you always like… look for each other?”

“Look for each other?” Hinata asks, inquisitive.

“Yeah,” Kenma says. “You know Miya and I are in the same programming class, right? It’s across campus. So he must’ve left early and walked all the way here to—" He frowns. “To antagonize you?”

“Oh,” Hinata says. Well, that’s news to him. He’s a little pleased to hear it though. “I mean, I don’t know about Atsumu-san, but it’s kind of fun.” He smiles. “I get to win."

Kenma stares at Hinata. “I’ll never understand you,” he finally says. "Or him."

"That's fine," Hinata says, laughing.

If he were more eloquent, he'd explain that despite all the annoyance he feels with Atsumu, it's almost intoxicating to have someone who feels the exact same way he does. That he enjoys having someone satisfy his competitive spirit again, even if that someone is an arrogant, somewhat good-looking asshole senior with an undercut.

 

Hinata runs into Osamu again by coincidence when they're both getting groceries at the store. They make easy conversation—they really do get along rather well—and Osamu brings up the subject of going to the beach.

"The beach?" Hinata says, inquisitive.

"I'm thinking of having a beach day on the weekend," Osamu explains. "I'll be inviting some people you know—you're friends with Bokuto and Akaashi, right?"

Hinata brightens. "Yeah!"

"That's good," Osamu says. "So—you interested? I think it'll be fun."

"Hmm," Hinata says. He does have an assignment due the week after. "Well—"

"Oh, and Tsumu'll be there too," Osamu says nonchalantly. "I'm sure he'd like it if you came. Don't expect him to show it, though."

Hinata thinks about it. Bokuto-san, Akaashi-san. Atsumu-san. Beach volleyball. Kicking Atsumu-san's ass at beach volleyball.

"I'll come!" he says.

Osamu smiles. "Cool," he says. "Here, give me your contact info so I can text you the details." And then, when they're done, "See you around, then. I'll tell Tsumu you said hi."

"I—" Hinata stops himself. "Okay."

 

Hinata ends up hitching a ride with Bokuto and Akaashi. It's been a while since he last hung out with them, which is a pity: he's immensely fond of both. They're the type of couple that never lets you feel like you're third-wheeling. Or maybe he is third-wheeling, and he just doesn't know. Either way, he likes them.

When they get there, Hinata throws all his stuff into a pile ("Careful!" Bokuto says, laughing), and books it to the volleyball court. Atsumu and Osamu are already there, warming up.

"Atsumu-san!" he calls. "I'm gonna—"

"Do you even have a partner, Shouyou-kun?" Atsumu asks, smirking.

"I'll be his partner," Osamu says.

"Don't you dare," Atsumu says, cuffing Osamu on the head. He turns back and grins infuriatingly at Hinata. "Come back when you have a partner, Shouyou-kun."

Hinata sticks his tongue out at Atsumu. Not for the first time this year, he finds himself missing Kageyama. But then he remembers the people he came here with, and runs over to find Bokuto. Bokuto is wading around in the water, probably looking for something nice to bring Akaashi.

"Bokuto-san, do you want to be my beach partner?" Hinata asks excitedly. "I wanna play against Atsumu-san and Osamu-san!"

Bokuto grins, eyes bright. "Sure!" he says. "Let's just go tell Akaashi so he knows where we are. And we can get some sunglasses, too."

So they jog over to the umbrella, where Akaashi is reading a very large book and sipping some kind of pink drink. It looks like it tastes pretty good. There's another guy lying down (already sleeping?) next to him—Hinata recognizes Osamu's friend, Suna.

"We're gonna go play beach against the twins, Akaashi-san," Hinata announces. He crouches down next to Akaashi, looking through their bags. "Do you know where the sunglasses are?"

"Okay. They should be in the small pocket of—" Akaashi sniffs. "You're not wearing sunblock, are you?"

"Yeah, I am!" Hinata lies.

Akaashi gives him a look. "Come here," he says, and pulls out a bottle of sunblock, putting some on his hands and reaching out for Hinata.

"Akaashi-san—" Hinata says, trying to push him off. "Akaashi-san, I'm fine—"

"No, you've barely put any on," Akaashi says, frowning, and manages to rub a dollop of sunblock onto Hinata's cheek. Hinata groans. "The sun is dangerous, don't you know that?" He gives Bokuto a disapproving look. "Koutarou, you're older than him, you should be making sure he's staying safe—"

Bokuto looks very meek all of a sudden. Eventually, Hinata gives up on struggling and just lets Akaashi drown him in sunblock. As always, he's rather amazed at how someone only one year older than him can make him feel like an absolute child.

"Okay," Akaashi says, finally satisfied with what feels basically like a full-body paint job, "you can go." He digs out their sunglasses and passes them to Hinata. He also kisses Bokuto's hand, making Bokuto brighten up considerably.

Hinata grabs Bokuto's arm, leading him. He can see Atsumu and Osamu peppering on the court. "Come on, Bokuto-san!"

"You'd better win!" Akaashi calls after them.

 

"Took you long enough," Atsumu says when Hinata and Bokuto get to the court.

Hinata does a few practice jumps. "Whatever, let's just start!"

"Winner stays on the court," Atsumu says, wiping the sweat out of his eyes. Hinata is loath to admit it, but Atsumu looks Very Good right now. The beach suits him—his windswept hair, his golden skin.

Focus, Hinata tells himself. "First to twenty-one?" he asks.

Atsumu nods. "Best of three," he says. He holds up his hand in a fist, and Hinata mirrors him: rock, paper, scissors for serve. Atsumu wins, smirking. Hinata scowls.

"It's okay!" Bokuto says cheerfully, patting him on the back. "We'll be fine anyways."

The game is—well, it's fun. It's been a while since Hinata's played beach, but he still finds himself going through the motions with ease, and it feels good to score on Atsumu and see him get tilted. Bokuto is more than a capable partner too, and they put up a good fight, both sides taking a set and moving onto a third one.

This third set lasts a rather long time. A suspiciously long time actually, because—

"Bokuto, you're keeping score, right?" Osamu calls from across the net.

"Yeah, yeah!" Bokuto says.

"So what is it?"

Bokuto thinks. "Fourteen-twelve," he says.

"You just made that up on the spot, didn’t you?" Osamu says, sounding resigned.

"Pretty much," Bokuto says, unashamed.

Osamu sighs, wipes his sweat. "I bet we're somewhere in the mid-twenties now," he says. "I don't care about you guys anymore. I'm beat."

The rest of them kind of try to convince Osamu to stay—we'll do it properly this time, really—but in the end they all end up taking a break. Beach volleyball is tiring, after all.

"I think that's my win," Atsumu says. The two of them, along with Osamu, have been displaced from Akaashi's umbrella because of the sheer amount of people who'd gathered under it. Osamu had invited a lot more people than Hinata thought he did: mostly upper-years whom he doesn't quite know.

"Says who?" Hinata says, snatching his water bottle back. They're sharing because Atsumu forgot his.

"Says me," Atsumu says.

"No way," Hinata says. "Don't be cheap, Atsumu-san." He pushes up his sunglasses so they rest on his hair, then lies down on his back and closes his eyes. After a few moments, he opens his eyes to catch Atsumu staring. 

"What are you looking at?" Hinata demands. He's much too tired to start anything, though.

"Nothing," Atsumu says, very quickly. He turns away pointedly. Osamu starts laughing. He keeps laughing until Atsumu hits him on the head.

Hinata's not sure what's so funny.

 

Hinata had been looking forward to the next project for his seminar, because he's done a lot of reading and studying and he's pretty sure he can beat Atsumu at marks this time around. What he doesn't remember is that this is a presentation to be done in pairs, and since Atsumu's almost the only person he's interacted with this entire time, the two of them are left together to form a group. Needless to say, he's frustrated.

"Hey," Atsumu says, "I'm not happy with this either, got it?"

Hinata runs a hand through his hair. "We can't mess up, okay?" he says. "Don't mess up."

"I should be saying that to you," Atsumu says, indignant. "I've beaten you more times than you've beaten me—"

"Yeah, but all my presentations were better than yours, Atsumu-san," Hinata points out.

"Ugh, whatever," Atsumu says. "Give me your contact info. Let's try to get this over with."


So Hinata finds himself in Atsumu's room on a Saturday night, reading about postmodernism. Osamu is out, apparently at Suna's, so they have the place to themselves.

"Can I sit on your bed?" Hinata asks. As much as he dislikes Atsumu, he has his own morals.

"Yeah, I don't care," Atsumu says, opening his laptop to pull up the readings.

So Hinata plops down close to Atsumu. "I was thinking we could focus on this part," he says, leaning over to point at a section at the screen. "It's very like—gwah, you know?"

Atsumu's brow creases. "Okay," he says. "Makes sense, I guess. How do you wanna split it up?"

"I'll take the first half," Hinata says.

"Sure," says Atsumu, and turns to look at Hinata.

Suddenly, their faces are very, very close together, enough for their noses to brush. Hinata nearly jumps backwards out of shock, seated as he is.

"Whoa," Atsumu says, looking similarly shaken. "Personal space, Shouyou-kun. Ever heard of it?"

Hinata steadies himself. "I didn't mean to do that," he says sullenly.

"I thought you were gonna kiss me for a bit there," Atsumu says, running a hand through his hair. "Jeez."

Hinata flushes. "As if I'd want to kiss you of all people," he says, huffing and turning away to hide the inexplicable heat rising on his cheeks. "Gross! Don't flatter yourself."

"Hey," Atsumu mutters. "I wouldn’t wanna kiss you either, y'know. Not even for money." 

"Good!" Hinata says with an unnecessary amount of force. He doesn't know why he feels so high-strung: he's angry, irritated, but there's something else there too, bubbling underneath the surface.

"Good," Atsumu echoes, sounding equally indignant.

For a few moments, neither of them speak. The silence is tense, electric. Hinata feels fidgety and restless because the damage is done and he can't help but think about the possibility of maybe—maybe—kissing Atsumu, and he suddenly has the urge to elaborate, to explain himself further, because if Hinata's being honest, he's starting to realize that he isn't as opposed to the idea as he thought he was. Not that he would kiss Atsumu, but he shouldn't have been so mean about saying he wouldn't—

Hinata whips around. "Well, I mean—" he blurts out.

Atsumu also turns to meet his gaze. "Actually, I—"

They stare at each other in mute surprise. Hinata's heart is now beating very fast and very hard as he tries to piece together the potential meanings of that short exchange, their current silence, the way Atsumu swallows and glances at Hinata’s lips.

They both move so quickly and so suddenly that the kiss turns out desperate and forceful, half a collision. Atsumu's hands are large and hot on Hinata's waist, and Hinata buries his hands in Atsumu's hair, opening his mouth with a soft sound of pleasure that is embarrassingly close to a whine. This—whatever they're doing—it's been there all along despite their vehement denials, a strong undercurrent that had finally made its way to the surface. And it feels so stupidly good that Hinata almost forgets his own name.

Atsumu is enthusiastically kissing at his neck when Hinata's struck by a sudden realization. Or rather, he remembers.

“Wait,” Hinata gasps. He pushes Atsumu off, though his hands remain under Hinata’s shirt, insistent. “Wait. Don’t we hate each other or something?”

Atsumu blinks, looking a little dazed at the interruption. God, he’s so kissable right now, Hinata could die. “I want you more than I hate you right now,” Atsumu says finally.

That shouldn’t be hot. That shouldn’t even make sense. Hinata licks his lips. “That’s kinda hot,” he says.

"You’re kinda hot,” says Atsumu, and they start going at it again with such enthusiasm that they end up tumbling off of the bed and onto the floor.

 

Afterwards, they kind of just lie on Atsumu's floor, sweaty and silent and in a state of post-orgasmic clarity. It is, to put it lightly, extremely awkward. Finally, Hinata breaks the silence.

"Is your floor real wood?" he asks. At the same time, Atsumu says, "What the hell was that?"

Hinata blinks. Isn't that the question. But now that he thinks about it, the whole experience wasn't the worst. Atsumu is hot—Hinata's allowed to admit that now—and not half bad in bed.

"I don't know, but I had fun," Hinata says honestly.

A beat. "So did I," Atsumu says, sounding sheepish.

"That's fine then, isn't it?" Hinata says, sitting up. He grabs his boxers and pulls them on. "No regrets!" It takes while for him to find his pants—they're under the bed for some reason. "We probably should've worked on the project a bit more, though."

"Probably," Atsumu says, sounding a little hoarse. He sits up, passes Hinata his shirt. "Here."

"Thanks," Hinata says. He stands up. "I gotta head home now. It's almost time for the last bus."

"I could get you a taxi," Atsumu says, sounding strangely genuine. Hinata blinks, surprised. Looks like Atsumu's the kind of guy who treats his partners well. Who'd have guessed?

"It's okay," Hinata says. "I'll be alright! Thanks, though."

"Ah," Atsumu says. "Okay." He puts on his own clothes, and kind of just stands there watching as Hinata tidies up his laptop and books. It's weird. Hinata feels the same familiar annoyance again, and is about to ask Atsumu what the hell he's looking at when Atsumu speaks. More accurately, he makes a string of noises that Hinata can't really understand.

Hinata frowns. "What?"

Atsumu crosses his arms, shifts from foot to foot. He even clears his throat. "I said, do you maybe wanna, uh—do this again sometime?"

It takes a minute for Hinata to process that, just because it seems so out of the blue. "Seriously?" he asks, after a pause.

"Well—yeah," Atsumu says, running a hand through his hair. "Like—as friends?" God, he's so painfully awkward when he's nervous. Why does Hinata find it so cute? He resists the urge to grin.

"Are we even friends?" Hinata asks, amused.

Atsumu huffs. "You know what I mean," he says, sounding irritated.

Hinata thinks about it. It's been a while since he's been in a relationship, physical or otherwise, and he's surprisingly not too opposed to his rival doubling as a friend with benefits. Two birds, one stone. "Sure," he says. "Yeah, okay!"

"Oh," Atsumu says, sounding surprised. He clears his throat. "Okay. Cool."

Hinata straightens up and pokes him in the chest. "But you gotta step up your game, okay?" he says. "Don't let me get bored."

"Excuse me?" Atsumu says, indignant, a little of his normal self back in his voice. "Let you get bored? You just came like twice—"

Hinata shrugs. Truthfully, the sex had been pretty good, but it's fun to egg Atsumu on—it makes Hinata feel like he's in control. "I'm just saying," he says. "We can all get better, Atsumu-san."

"Okay," Atsumu says. His eyes glint, promising. "Okay. You're gonna regret saying that."

Hinata feels a delicious little shiver down his spine. "Do your worst," he says, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. And then, "Come on, Atsumu-san, aren't you gonna walk me to the door?" He grins, a little mischievous. "I just blew you. It's only polite."

 

The next day, they try again. Regardless of whether they're screwing each other or not, the project still needs to be done. But even before they start, Hinata can feel temptation in the tips of his fingers and the compulsion to touch. Since last night, it feels like a wall between them has been knocked down; their boundaries have shifted. It seems like Atsumu's in the same boat too: while they're sitting next to each other, staring at his laptop, he silently sneaks a hand under Hinata's shirt and just lets it rest there on his back. That goes straight to Hinata's crotch, and he forces himself to take deep breaths.

To their credit, they do get a little bit of work done. Hinata is having trouble thinking straight.

"Hey," he says eventually. "We’re adults. We can control ourselves, right?”

“Yeah,” Atsumu says, nodding. Inconspicuously, he withdraws his hand. Hinata feels suddenly cold without his touch. “Yeah, I don’t see why not.”

"No," Hinata says, embarrassingly fast. Atsumu turns to look at him, bemused. "I didn't mean—" He takes Atsumu's hand, puts it back under his shirt. "I'm cold now." The blush on Hinata’s face is so intense he feels like he's steaming.

Neither of them are reading anymore, nor are they particularly capable of doing so. Atsumu doesn't say anything in response, but his hand starts to roam over Hinata's torso, fingers tracing over sensitive skin.

Hinata bites his lip to keep himself from making an embarrassing sound. It must be because they're new to each other that this is so addicting, so tempting. Hinata is oversensitive and unable to bring himself to look Atsumu in the eye for fear of that intent, focused expression that makes him feel things. Stupid bastard Atsumu, he definitely knows what he's doing—his touch is insistent, his breath heavy.

And then he strokes Hinata just so, in just the right spot, and Hinata can't help it: he lets out a soft moan. They both freeze. Hinata whips around to look at Atsumu, desperate to explain himself.

"I—" He stops himself when he sees Atsumu's expression.

Atsumu's face is flushed, his eyes dark. He looks like Hinata is the only thing he's ever wanted to see in his entire life.

He leans in. Hinata does not shy away.

 

Against all odds, they do end up finishing the presentation and getting a decent mark, though it ends up being one of the hardest things Hinata's ever had to do. It's difficult to work when you and your partner literally can't keep your hands off of each other.

This isn't to say that their rivalry has disappeared entirely. Rather, it’s been enhanced: with this new advancement comes a whole host of other things to compete about (mostly some variation of “Bet I can last longer than you!”). This has also kind of conditioned them both to get turned on when they start arguing or competing, after which they'll book it somewhere private and then go at it like rabbits. It's very hot, if Hinata may say so. When Atsumu gets really into it, he becomes deliciously dominant, and it makes Hinata weak in the knees. That being said, Hinata likes it just as much when Atsumu is flustered and worshipful.

He just likes it, this thing they have together. It's uncomplicated. It's fun. It’s extremely impulsive.

"Why are we like this?" Atsumu asks one day when they're lying on his bed, staring up at the ceiling after a particularly energetic rendezvous.

Hinata shrugs. This is admittedly a first for him as well: he’s never quite been so into a physical relationship before, to the point where stuff happens around three times a week. "Genetics?"

Atsumu gives him a look. "I don't think that's how genetics work," he says. And then, "Aren't you in the science program?"

"Yeah, but not because I wanna be," Hinata says, sitting up. He swings his legs over to the side of the bed and winces, a little sore.

Atsumu frowns. "Hey, what's the rush?" he asks.

"What do you mean?" Hinata says. He crouches gingerly on the ground, peeking under the bedframe. Where the hell is his shirt? "We're done, aren't we?"

Atsumu huffs, sitting up. “Well, yeah, but it’s a matter of courtesy, Shouyou-kun. It hurts a guy’s feelings when you book it out of here every time.” He sounds genuinely disgruntled, and Hinata turns to look at him. He looks almost… pouty.

“Is that just your way of saying you wanna cuddle?” Hinata asks, half-amused. He likes it when Atsumu’s honest. “Didn’t know you were so into pillow talk, Atsumu-san.”

“Ugh,” Atsumu says, scowling. “Don’t say it like that.” He throws a shirt at Hinata. “Here, idiot.”

“Thanks!” Hinata says, catching it. He pulls it on over his head. "I have to get going, because Kenma has a test tomorrow."

 Atsumu frowns. "And?"

"And he won't eat before a test unless I cook for him," Hinata says, snatching up his other articles of clothing and getting dressed. To be fair, this is true—Kenma is the king of self-neglect before tests—even if it’s not the entire reason.

Atsumu has a very conflicted look on his face, like he's not sure whether to insult Hinata or not.

Hinata puts on his last piece of clothing—a left sock—and sidles over to him. “Aww, is Miya Atsumu-san upset?” he croons, moving closer to him. Being around Atsumu so much has really corrupted him: Hinata's pretty good at riling Atsumu up now. And he enjoys it. 

Atsumu glares at him. "You just said you have to go," he mutters, looking away. "So go."

"I will!" Hinata says, grinning, and then hugs Atsumu, half-teasing. "It's okay, you big baby. I don't leave fast because I think you're gross, okay?"

Atsumu is still for a moment, and Hinata worries that he may have gone overboard. But then Atsumu hugs back, and god, that's really tight

"Ow!" Hinata says, gasping. "Ow! Atsumu-san—"

Atsumu pushes him away. "Stop screwing with me," he says, though there's no heat in his voice. "Beat it already."

Hinata smiles and ruffles Atsumu's hair, then heads out.

"You should put on a shirt, Atsumu-san," he calls over his shoulder.

 

When Hinata gets to his dorm room, Kenma is already there. He looks up from his books when Hinata kicks off his shoes. There’s Animal Crossing music playing softly from his speakers. Battle music, Kenma likes to call it.

“Where’ve you been?” Kenma asks curiously.

“I went to Atsumu-san’s place,” Hinata says, putting his backpack on the ground.

Kenma blinks slowly. “Are you two screwing?”

Hinata blushes. Of course Kenma would figure it out. “Kinda?” he says, a little embarrassed. “Yeah? How’d you—”

Kenma looks amused, almost teasing. “You always walk a little funny when you get back,” he says, and Hinata’s face sets itself on fire.

“Do not,” he says, lying and mortified. “I—” He thought he’d been doing so well at hiding it, too.

“And you guys always had some kind of belligerent sexual tension,” Kenma says. “I didn’t think you’d be smart enough to actually figure out what it was, though.”

“Hey!” Hinata says, indignant. “I came home early for you, you know?”

Kenma smirks, small and teasing. "Sorry for cutting your… session short," he says.

"I'm making you fried rice," Hinata says adamantly, still flushed. He escapes into the kitchen, where he calls Kageyama and puts him on speaker: how's it going, Bakageyama? You still alive over there?

 

The thing is that Hinata isn’t an idiot.

Okay, maybe that’s not completely true. He’s certainly done his fair share of idiotic things—just ask Kenma. Or Daichi. Or Kageyama (though to be fair, Kageyama is almost just as much of an idiot). But at any rate, he’s not a complete idiot about this thing with Atsumu.

Atsumu is very handsome. In a bizarre, vitriolic way, he and Hinata get along to the point that he's become an important presence in Hinata's life. Hinata knows himself: if he starts staying behind after sex and resting his head on Atsumu’s chest whispering personal secrets to him in the dead of night, he will catch feelings. One hundred percent. No question about it. He might even fall—fall in—

No. No way. He can’t—won't—even think about it.

Atsumu must be more experienced with this kind of thing, or just has a harder heart. Hinata doesn’t really know how Atsumu could do that kind of intimacy and keep things like they are. To each their own, Hinata supposes. He's not too stressed at the moment. At any rate, he's having fun, and the sex is good—

"Yeah, the sex is good, I get it, Miya Atsumu is good at drilling you, I get it!" Kageyama says over the phone, sounding both disgusted and frustrated. "Every single phone call, I swear—"

This… may be true. And that's saying something, because they call each other quite a bit—they're best friends, after all. Hinata laughs. "Sorry," he says. And then, "Don't be so angry just because you're not getting any, Kageyama-kun."

"Shut up," Kageyama says.

"Will not," Hinata chirps. "Idiot."

"Dumbass," Kageyama mutters. And then, more genuinely, "You're happy these days, aren't you?"

"Yeah," Hinata says, feeling a smile at the corners of his lips. "I miss you, but I'm happy."

"That's good," Kageyama says gruffly. He pauses a bit before talking again—Hinata can almost imagine the constipated look on his face. "I miss you too. I guess." He's so quiet Hinata can barely hear him.

"Awww, Kageyama-kun!" Hinata almost exclaims, feeling himself grin. "Kageyama-kun, you're so sweet, I—"

"Ah, shut the fuck up already!" Kageyama snarls. He hangs up, but the damage is done: Hinata won't let him forget that for the rest of his days.

 

As the days go on, Atsumu starts playing dirty.

They're arguing (again) in the middle of their shared seminar, and Hinata is getting very riled up and starting to point out some very valid holes in Atsumu's interpretation of a novel, if their prof's thoughtful expression is anything to go by. Atsumu is sitting right next to him, looking increasingly pissed off. But instead of interrupting, he grips Hinata's thigh under the table, face completely innocent.

Hinata inhales sharply in surprise, stopping mid-sentence.

"Hinata-kun?" his professor says, concerned. "Are you alright?"

"I'm okay," Hinata says, a little breathlessly. He glares at Atsumu over the table even though his stupid lizard brain—traitorous bastard—is putty in Atsumu's hands. Ah, hands. He really likes Atsumu's hands—they're large and long-fingered and deft. The nicest, sexiest hands Hinata has ever seen.

God, he can't think anymore.

"Go on, Hinata-kun," the professor says.

"I'm sorry," Hinata says, silently furious. "I don't remember—I don't remember what I was going to say."

"Ah," the professor says, sounding disappointed. "Well, do let us know if it comes back to you."

Atsumu has the gall to smile at him afterwards. His touch is like a brand on Hinata's thigh, hot and insistent.

 

After class, they barely make it to Hinata's dorm room, where they burst in on Kenma eating lunch. Kenma takes one look at them, taking in their flushed faces and bright eyes, and puts on his noise-cancelling headphones. He looks very tired, and his expression kind of says again? Seriously?

"Sorry, Kenma!" Hinata says, and even Atsumu bows his head a little before pulling Hinata along into the bedroom, shutting the door behind them.

Now Hinata can retaliate. He whips around to glare at Atsumu, who looks simultaneously desperate and infuriatingly self-satisfied. How?

"That was low, Atsumu-san," Hinata growls.

"You like it," Atsumu says, smirking, and Hinata can't help but shiver. In retaliation, he buries his hands in Atsumu's hair and kisses him, deep and aggressive. When he pulls back, Atsumu looks dazed. Good. 

"Bet I'll last longer than you this time," Hinata says, smirking.

"Whoa," Atsumu says, raising an eyebrow. "Don't get cocky now, Shouyou-kun."

Hinata kisses him again. And even if he loses this one time—well, he still wins.

 

For Kenma's sake, they end up meeting more often at Atsumu's place. Unfortunately for Hinata, it's farther from campus than he'd like, and he always has to consider bus times and what not. One night, the two of them get a little too into it, and he misses the last bus.

"I could call you a cab," Atsumu says. "Or—" He runs a hand through his hair, almost nervously. "Or you could stay over, I guess."

Hinata knows how dangerous this is, understands the thud of his heart and the thrill in his veins, so why doesn't he accept the cab ride? Is it because he's tired and too lazy to pack up all his things? Is it because of the way Atsumu looks, hair mussed and expression just a little hopeful? Hinata doesn't want to think about it too much. He takes a shower, slips on an oversized shirt that Atsumu lends him, and clambers onto the bed, making sure to put some distance between them. This isn't lost on Atsumu.

"Hey," Atsumu says, voice strangely gentle. "I don't bite, you know."

"I don't believe you," Hinata says, thinking about his neck and shoulders and thighs. But he gives in, both to Atsumu and himself, settling in close anyways. They're quiet for a bit, just lying together in the dark and sharing each other's warmth.

"Osamu-san's not home a lot, huh?" Hinata says. 

"Oh," Atsumu says. His voice is softer in the night. "Yeah, not since he started dating Suna."

This takes Hinata aback. "What?"

"Yeah, they're dating," Atsumu says. He shifts a little. "What, you didn't know?"

"Well, I do now," Hinata says, trying to process. For some reason, he'd assumed that Osamu had been the straight twin. Guess it doesn't always work that way.

Atsumu chuckles. "Disappointed?"

"What?" Hinata says, actually surprised this time. "Why would I—" He blinks. "Is that what it looks like to you?"

"Not really," Atsumu says. "Just making sure." A pause. "You do like reminding me how much better you like him though."

Hinata flushes. "That's—that's different." There isn't a non-embarrassing way to say that he doesn't mean it now, not at all, that he just does it to get under Atsumu's skin.

Atsumu hums. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," Hinata says. He swallows. "I mean, I'm here, aren't I?" With you.

Thankfully, Atsumu seems to understand without Hinata saying much. "That's true," he says, and Hinata almost hears a sleepy little smile in his voice.

They're quiet again for a few moments, until Hinata breaks the silence.

"Do you miss Osamu-san when he's gone?" he asks.

"A bit," Atsumu admits. "I mean, we fought a lot, but now that he's not here all the time it feels… weird. I don't know." He exhales softly. "Suna's good for him, though. I'm happy they're together."

"Oh," Hinata says. He feels a little sad for Atsumu. "You're very considerate, Atsumu-san."

"Aren't I?" Atsumu says, chuckling quietly. "Took you long enough to realize."

Hinata smiles. And then he yawns.

"Go to sleep, Shouyou-kun," Atsumu says softly, and Hinata closes his eyes.

Before he falls asleep, there's a soft touch on his forehead, something that might be a kiss. Hinata is too tired to really know, and eventually he drifts off against Atsumu's chest.

 

After that night, things get a little strange. Something shifts, though Hinata isn’t quite sure what it is. It’s not like they stop what they’re doing, not like things get super awkward. But Hinata finds himself staying over at Atsumu’s more often, and sometimes—now this is the weird part—sometimes, they don’t even screw. Instead, they’ll just talk or study, which makes Hinata feel like he has an entire butterfly conservatory in his digestive system. But he always stops himself, pushes the feeling away. He doesn’t want to mess this up, doesn’t want to be the guy who ruins the no-strings-attached part.

“Wanna go to a movie?” Atsumu asks one day after class.

“Sure,” Hinata says, without thinking. Then he frowns. “Wait, what?”

 So they go, and end up necking in the back of the theatre for half the movie, and Hinata thinks, okay, this makes sense. But then the next week they go again, and the week after that, and then he starts to wonder. But Atsumu makes no indication that anything is different, so then Hinata starts wondering why he's wondering. Maybe this is just them finally getting to the friend part of friends with benefits. Yeah, that must be it.

"You're a fucking idiot," Kageyama says when Hinata tells him this, and hangs up on him.

 

The next time they go to the movies—it almost feels like a routine by now—they bump into Oikawa Tooru after they're done. Oikawa's all tanned from his semester abroad, and it almost feels like he's gotten taller. He and Hinata haven't really hung out too much, but they get along well every time they're together. Needless to say, Oikawa's pretty pleased to see him.

"Did you grow again, Shouyou?" he asks, grinning.

"I did!" Hinata says proudly. "One centimeter since you last saw me!"

Oikawa laughs. "And who's this?" he asks, eyes flicking to Atsumu, who is hovering very close to Hinata.

"This is Atsumu-san!" Hinata says brightly. "Miya Atsumu-san."

Oikawa smiles at Atsumu. Atsumu smiles at Oikawa. They're the most frightening smiles Hinata has ever seen.

"Nice to meet you, Miya-san," Oikawa says.

"Likewise," Atsumu says.

The air is a little tense. Hinata's usually kind of oblivious to things like this, but even he can feel it. Maybe the two of them have a bad history?

"You two seem pretty close," Oikawa notes.

"We're friends now," Hinata says. "We used to not be, but—" He shoots a glance at Atsumu. "We are, aren't we?"

Atsumu smiles down at him, genuine. "Sure," he says warmly, and puts his arm around Hinata’s shoulders.

"Isn't that sweet?" Oikawa says, eyeing Atsumu’s arm. "Friends! Good for you, Miya-san."

"I know," Atsumu says bluntly.

"You know," Oikawa says, switching his attention to Hinata. "They're selling those limited-edition chips you like so much, Shouyou."

Hinata perks up. "Are they?"

"I'll go buy you some," Atsumu says abruptly, and makes a beeline for the snack counter. Hinata looks after him, surprised. Oikawa taps his shoulder.

“You and blondie over there,” Oikawa says conspiratorially, gesturing towards Atsumu, “are you two an item?”

“What?” Hinata says, almost squeaking. “No! No. We’re not.”

“Well, someone had better tell him that then,” Oikawa says. “He’s acting like you’re aaaall his, and it’s a little obnoxious.”

“Oh,” Hinata says, fumbling for words a little. “I'm sure he doesn't mean to. We're not like that."

“If you say so,” Oikawa says, bending a little to be on eye level with Hinata. He smiles, dazzling. “Well, if you ever get tired of him—and that hair—you have my number.”

"Ah," Hinata manages, blushing. He doesn’t know what to say or how to say it. "Yeah."

Oikawa winks. "See you around, Shouyou," he says, and then he leaves.

Oikawa is a very beautiful person, and Hinata is both flustered and flattered. But for some reason, all he can think about is that he rather likes the way Atsumu’s hair looks.

"Hey," Atsumu says, coming back from the snack counter. He tosses a bag of chips at Hinata. His expression is a little unreadable. "You done?"

Hinata catches the bag. “Thanks!" he says, opening the bag eagerly. "And yeah."

Atsumu looks kind of relieved. He opens his mouth to say something, but ends up closing it.

”You know,” Hinata says, because he doesn't think he's ever said it before, “I think your hair is pretty, Atsumu-san.”

Atsumu swallows, runs a hand through his hair self-consciously. "Thanks, I guess," he says. And then, "Do you wanna come over?"

 

Coming over used to only mean one thing, but it's been different lately, so Hinata's not really sure what quite to expect when they get to the apartment. But then Atsumu pushes him down gently onto the bed, and it gets pretty obvious. For some reason, he's more aggressive than usual today, which Hinata normally enjoys, though today it feels a little strange. Atsumu usually likes to talk a lot, teasing Hinata to watch him react, but he's silent now.

"Jeez, calm down!" Hinata exclaims, wincing as Atsumu bites his shoulder. "What's gotten into you today, Atsumu-san?"

"Sorry," Atsumu mumbles against Hinata's skin.

"Atsumu-san," Hinata says, sitting up. He puts his hands on either side of Atsumu's face so that he can look at him. Atsumu looks kind of frustrated, a little sad. Hinata likes to think he's pretty good at reading him now, after all this time. "You're upset," Hinata says, concerned. "What's wrong?"

Atsumu sighs, takes one of Hinata's hands in his own and turns to kiss Hinata's palm. Hinata feels his heart beat a little harder at that. And then Atsumu seems to deflate a little, the aggressiveness melting away. "It's okay," he says. "Sorry. Can we just—just keep going?"

Hmm. Hinata really wants to cheer him up, because he can't help but feel like this has to do with him somehow. But how?

Oh! "Want me to blow you?" Hinata asks sincerely.

Atsumu chokes on air.

"Oh, don't act like you're a prude now," Hinata says, amused. "Yes or no, Atsumu-san."

"Yes," Atsumu says quietly after a pause, flushing. 

Hinata grins, slides off the bed, and gets down on his knees.

 

"Sorry for being mopey," Atsumu says afterwards. He passes Hinata his clothes. "I just have something on my mind, that's all."

"No, it's okay!" Hinata says. He grins a little mischievously. "I hope what we did helped." He gets on his tiptoes and presses a quick kiss to Atsumu's cheek, and then regrets it a little because Atsumu reacts by blinking in what looks like shock. "Cheer up, Atsumu-san!” he continues brightly. “Or I'll beat you at everything, you know?"

That seems to get Atsumu out of whatever kind of funk he's in. "The hell you will," he says indignantly. And then, "Shouyou-kun, I—" He stops himself.

"Yeah?" Hinata says. It kind of sounds like Atsumu is going to say something important.

Atsumu runs a hand through his hair, looking tired. "No, never mind," he says. "Maybe another time. Thanks for today."

So Hinata heads out, bumping into Osamu on the way. Osamu's scrolling his phone in the kitchen, and he looks up when Hinata passes by. 

"Oh, hey, Osamu-san!" Hinata says brightly, putting on his shoes. "When'd you get home?"

"Late enough not to hear anything," Osamu says, smirking.

Hinata blushes. "Oh," he says. "That's good?"

"You going home already?" Osamu says, sounding amused.

"Yeah," Hinata says. He opens the door, steps outside. "Atsumu-san seems a little tired, so I thought it'd be good if he rested."

"Wait," Osamu says, getting up from the table to approach Hinata. He narrows his eyes. "Did Atsumu say anything?"

Hinata tilts his head. "He said a lot of things," he says. "He usually does."

Osamu suddenly looks very frustrated and annoyed. "Fucking hell," he says. "You—Shouyou-kun. Wait here. Don't go anywhere."

He looks kind of scary right now, so Hinata obeys. Muttering under his breath, Osamu turns around and marches back into the house, closing the door behind him. Hinata settles down, sitting on the front steps.

“Did you tell him?” he hears Osamu demand after a moment. “Did you ask?”

A muffled reply. The sound of impact.

And then, Atsumu, "Dude, what the fuck—"

“You dumbass! You said you would do it today, you’ve put it off like three times now—”

"Okay, okay!"

After a few moments, Atsumu comes out the door. He's touching his shoulder gingerly, wincing.

"What was that about?" Hinata asks.

Atsumu sighs shakily, comes down the front steps to sit beside him. "You," he says.

"What?" Hinata is vaguely concerned—he doesn't like being the cause of a fight.

"Well, it was about me too," Atsumu admits. "Samu's tired of me being a coward." He raises his gaze, meeting Hinata's, and the seriousness of his gaze makes Hinata's heart skip a beat. "Do you have fun when we go out, Shouyou-kun?"

Hinata is taken aback, but manages to answer. "Yeah? I guess?"

Atsumu looks a little dejected. "You guess?"

"No," Hinata says quickly, correcting himself. "I do, I do. Sorry."

"Okay," Atsumu says, after a moment of scrutiny, maybe trying to tell if Hinata is lying. "That's good, then." And then he lowers his gaze, looking at the ground. “Shouyou-kun, do you think—do you think that there’s any chance you could ever like me?”

Hinata feels like he’s dreaming. “I—”

"I'm not asking for everything," Atsumu continues, rushing. He sounds breathless. "I just—I would appreciate it if you gave me a try. And then—if you really don't like it, just tell me, and we can go back to being whatever you want." He still won’t look up. “I just like you. A lot. I’ve liked you for a while now, actually.”

Hinata's heart feels three sizes too big for his chest. There's joy and excitement coursing through every part of his body, and eventually it all comes bursting out of him.

"Are you kidding me?" Hinata exclaims. "You wanted to date me all this time? Do you know how hard I was trying to not fall in love with you?"

Atsumu blinks, finally meeting Hinata’s eyes. He looks like his brain's short-circuited. "You what?"

"I like you too!” Hinata says. He’s blushing so hard, but he’s grinning, almost laughing, because it feels so good to say it after all this time. “You big dumb bastard, couldn’t you tell?”

 “What?” Atsumu says. He looks genuinely shocked. “No way, you—why would you—”

“You make me happy,” Hinata says honestly. “I like you so much, Atsumu-san.”

“I don’t understand,” Atsumu says, and he looks so flustered it’s adorable.

“Try harder, then,” Hinata says, and kisses him.

They've never really kissed like this before—tender and slow instead of heated and desperate, and Hinata can't help but smile into it. They're both smiling, and that's why there's a lot more teeth involved than is probably appropriate, but Hinata couldn't care less.

"I win," Hinata says when they break apart, a little breathless.

"What the hell?" Atsumu says, frowning. There's a blush high on his cheeks, and it's wonderful. "In what way is this situation a win-lose one?"

"I made you fall in love with me," Hinata says victoriously. He rubs his cheek on Atsumu's shoulder, grinning so hard his cheeks hurt. "I made you wanna date me, because I'm so good at seduction, Atsumu-san—"

"I made you fall in love with me too!" Atsumu retorts.

"No, I chose to fall in love with you," Hinata says, teasing. "There's a difference."

Atsumu scoffs. "Bullshit."

"Yeah," Hinata admits. He grins up at Atsumu. "I guess we can both win for this one."

“We can,” Atsumu says. And then, almost shyly, “So you’ll be my boyfriend now? For real?”

“Yeah, and you’re mine,” Hinata says. “That’s how this works, right?”

He’s caught by surprise when Atsumu kisses him again, a little deeper, a little longer. They have to make a conscious effort to stop, otherwise they’d probably end up doing something truly indecent on the front steps of the apartment.

At that moment, the door opens.

"Hey," Osamu says, poking his head out. "You guys sort it out?"

“Yeah,” Atsumu says. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Osamu says. “You owe me money now, so I better see it in my account by seven.” Atsumu splutters, and Hinata laughs.

“Do I owe you too?” Hinata asks, amused.

Osamu shakes his head. “Nah. I should be paying you, actually. For putting up with this dumbass.” He nudges Atsumu with his foot. Atsumu glares daggers at him. Hinata kisses Atsumu on the cheek, and then his expression softens immediately.

"You guys wanna come back inside then?" Osamu continues. "You might as well have dinner with us, Shouyou. Suna's coming by in a bit too. I feel like you guys would get along.”

"Sounds good to me," Hinata says, taking Atsumu's hand and standing up. Osamu heads in, leaving the door open for them.

Hinata turns to just—look at Atsumu. They’re both gilded in the soft light of the sun, and Atsumu looks so beautiful that it makes Hinata’s heart skip a beat. Never had he thought that he’d end up here, that they’d end up here together. If he really thinks about it, this all started with a stupid pushup contest. Hinata has never been more grateful for the serendipities of his little life. After all, look where they’ve brought him. Look who they’ve brought him.

“Hey,” Atsumu says, playful. “What’re you looking at?”

Hinata smiles wide. “You,” he says.

Ah, Atsumu looks wonderful when he blushes. This time though, he holds Hinata’s gaze and smiles back, true and sweet. “Come on,” he says, leading Hinata up the steps. “Let’s go inside.”

The sun is beginning to set, the air getting chilly. Joyful and excited, Hinata follows Atsumu into the warmth of the apartment, and closes the door behind them.