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“You’ll attend here to complete your high school education.”

A pamphlet is thrown in his face, and Bokuto scrabbles not to drop it. When he looks at it the right way up, here is Fukurodani Academy. From the picture on the front, with the grand gates, and the sandstone campus, and the green grounds, it looks elite. And expensive. And like every other top tier school in Tokyo.

To be honest, Bokuto knows nothing about the school. He’s never even heard of it before. For the last few months his classmates have spoken about nothing but entrance exams, and what high school they’ll attend, and who’s going where. And even though he isn’t friends with any them, Bokuto listened.

Yes, they aren’t friends, but they’re familiar faces, and high school is going to be scary enough. It’ll be nice to see a friendly face, right?

No one mentioned Fukurodani though, and Bokuto thinks about asking his father if he can go somewhere else. One look at his father’s face shows stern lines and no give in him at all – like that was unusual! But high school is a big deal, and shouldn’t he get a say in it? That and he didn’t do entrance exams. Bokuto has questions – he definitely has questions! – but he also has orders, and father doesn’t like to be disobeyed.

Still. Bokuto is Bokuto, and-

“Can I-“

“You’ll make sure to keep taking your suppressants. Your an adult now, and we won't remind you to attend your appointments. Fukurodani Academy has a very strict procedure surrounding gender presentation, and you’d do well to remember that.”

“Father, can-“

“Dismissed.”

Okay. So, no questions. Not exactly unexpected but still disappointing. Dragging his feet, he heads up to his bedroom, to find a pile of even more brochures on his bed. Sighing, he picks one up. He should probably have a look at what his father is getting him into. As he flicks through, suddenly things are making a lot more sense.

Fukurodani Academy is an extremely well-respected school, but there are lots like that in Tokyo. The thing that makes it stand out, is that secondary genders are heavily repressed – suppressants, and nulling products. Teachers check you on the way in, and if you scent of anything, they send you to get nulled. No gender studies classes. No specific designation training. And no packs, not even any pack-like behavior. No scenting, no dynamics, not even any discussion. If you’re caught even talking about designations, then that’s seen as cause for suspension. Or even expulsion.

Yeah, they are really, really strict on it.

It’s definitely extreme. Actually, Bokuto’s never heard of anything like it. But trust his parents to find a school so… unusual.

High school is when you start to learn about what it means to be in a pack, how pack dynamics work, what it means to be your designation. There are even schools that pride themselves on the packs that last past school. . Of course, it’s not perfect. But it’s how kids, teens, learn how to function out in the real world, where very few people hide their designation. Exploring your wolf is seen as a normal thing, so a school like Fukurodani is very unusual.

He’s not phased though. All this means is that there’s no change in anything. It’s not like they have a family pack at all.

He can’t help but think cynically, that if he were an alpha, everything would be different.

His parents are both alpha, and for all they never talk about his designation they are happy using their own to get ahead. They are… well, at the very least, they are anti-omega, since as soon as they figured out Bokuto wasn’t the alpha they expected, they got him on high powered suppressants, and once they established that no one was to ever find out, pretty much ignored him.

So, this makes as much sense as anything his parents have done. They’ll continue to ignore him and his little omega problem. He does wonder what it’s going to mean for after high school. They’ve never discussed the future…

That’s a problem for future Bokuto. It’s not like he anything is going to change, not in high school. And he’ll with the after when it happens.

Bokuto heads off to Fukurodani, confident in the knowledge that nothing in his life is going to change. And he’s right. For a little while at least.

~o~

“In the first week in April, there’s a week-long training camp. You will be playing with other powerful, Tokyo schools. I expect you to uphold everything we expect of a Fukurodani student. And I expect you to be there, whether you’re a starter or not. Anyone who doesn’t attend is off the team.”

That seems pretty strict. Bokuto whispers this to Konoha, who just elbows him. Konoha is another first year, and they are both on the bench. But Konoha has an easier time of it. Bokuto already has a reputation for being loud and difficult, and the third years hate him. He’s not really sure why. Yes, he can be a little loud, but difficult?

All he wants to do is play volleyball!

He’s stubborn though. Volleyball isn’t fun right now, but if he can just make it through this year, the thirds years will go, and the second years? The second years aren’t so bad. Plus, his year is the best! He’s made friends! It’s amazing! And-

“Bokuto, get of Konoha. One more sound out of you and you’ll be running laps!”

The third years glare at him, and Bokuto does his best to sit up straight and be quiet. Laps sound preferable to this though. He just gets excited. And then he leans all over his teammates, and apparently that’s edging towards pack behavior. He does his best to settle down, even if he leans on Konoha, and they make it through the meeting.

~o~

Permission slip in hand, Bokuto wonders what to do. He’s going, of course he’s going. But he needs a parents signation, and that is easier said than done. His parents are never home, and it’s not like they tell him when they’ll be here. And he can’t forge it.

Well, technically he can but even though he’s practiced their signatures heaps it never looks right. And it’s just really not worth getting caught over. Not until he’s explored every other avenue!

Luck is on his side, because when he gets home, his mother is on her way out.

“Oh. Koutarou. Your father and I will be gone for the next month. Be sure to keep the place tidy, and I will transfer living expenses. Do try to stay in budget this time.”

“I will. But, um, Mother?”

She’s already half way out the door, but at least she stops. Bokuto stops too, and an annoyed expression settles on her face. She hates that, Bokuto thinks. Waiting for him. She must be really annoyed, because there is a definite wrinkle on her face.

“Well, what is it? I need to leave-“

Thrusting his hand forward, he says, “I need you to sign this! It’s the volleyball camp and if I don’t go I get kicked off the team and-“

“For god’s sake, Koutarou. Stop your whining. You aren’t a child anymore.”

Wincing, Bokuto shuts his mouth. Hopefully that was enough, and… ah! Yes! Signed and sealed.

“Thank you, Moth-“

“As I said, we should be back next month. If things change, I’ll send you a message.”

Aaaaaand she’s gone.

He’s not particularly sad about it. It’s not like his parents are nice to be around. Or even around. When they’re in Tokyo, they still manage to be out all the time. Yet still present enough to make life really uncomfortable.

He knows he’s a bad son, but he’s looking forward to the next month and not having to pretend… well, pretend about anything. He’s not going to be too loud, or too soft, or look to feminine, or be too stupid, or whatever it is his father goes on about.

He does have to clean the place, or at least have it looking up to his parent’s standard by the time the get home. When they’re away, his parents cancel the cleaning service because apparently they don’t trust him not to out himself without their grand presence. Whatever. The house doesn’t get any use. He’s out all day every day for volleyball.

Plus he’ll be away for a week of it, at his first ever volleyball training camp, and he just can’t wait!

~o~

It’s an eye-opening experience. The other teams are packs and, as this is the first time he’s seen pack behavior ever, Bokuto can’t help but stare.

“Oi, Bo, stop that!” Komi elbows him, and Bokuto rubs his ribs and tries to stare more subtly. “It’s like you’ve never seen a pack before.”

Luckily Komi doesn’t wait for an answer, just takes off. It saves him answering the uncomfortable questions from Komi, but all his year mates take the time to tell him to watch himself. Sarukui gives him a little more. “There are obviously a lot of alpha’s around, and they don’t take kindly to be challenged. And you’re a tough looking guy, Bokuto, so-“

Bokuto looks around. “How can you tell?”

“How can I tell what?”

“That they’re alphas?”

He gets a weird look for that. “Bo… what sort of-“

Whatever he was going to say is interrupted, the coach calling them over now. Bokuto follows Sarukui, but keeps looking around. This is amazing!

~o~

It’s not that easy to make friends, Bokuto discovers. Their packless team is viewed with poorly hidden mistrust, and Bokuto with the most mistrust of all. At first, he doesn’t get it. He’s just interested. He's friendly and not threatening at all! But then he starts to notice that his reactions are not the same as anyone else’s. Like, no ones. Even the Fukurodani students seem to know how to fit in. But Bokuto? He has no idea how alphas, omegas or betas are meant to behave.

And it’s not like he can just ask – if one of the coaches hears, he’s out. Probably if a third year overhears too, since those bastards are always sneaking around, ready to tell the coaches everything. What it ultimately means, is he sticks with his fellow Fukurodani first years.

~o~

That is, Fukurodani first years and Kuroo.

Kuroo Tetsurou is a fellow first year, a middle blocker from Nekoma. He has the worst (best) laugh, and amazingly (terrible) hair, and he glares at Bokuto all the time. Well, that won’t do!

“Hey, hey, hey!” Bokuto goes and introduces himself. “I thought it might be more comfortable if you glared at me from up close, rather than far away.”

For a moment, Bokuto thinks Kuroo is going to punch him. For a moment, the whole room does: there’s an expectant silence, the feeling that hot blooded teenage boys get when they’re waiting for a fight. But then Kuroo bursts out laughing and up close? It really is the best laugh! He laughs with his whole body! It’s loud and it’s raucous and Bokuto just knows his coach is frothing at the mouth, wanting to tell Bokuto to shut it, but for once it isn’t him! Bokuto looks delighted, and when Kuroo finally gets his breath back, he looks up, tears in his eyes, and sees, Bokuto hopes, something worth knowing.

“Maybe you’re not so bad.”

~o~

It’s not easy. Kuroo is an alpha. Even if Konoha, and Komi, and, well, all of the team, hadn’t told him, he would have figured it out. He hovers.

Not over Bokuto, but over different members of the Nekoma team. And for the longest while, even though he’s willing to talk to Bokuto, he doesn’t trust him around his team. It gets worse after Kuroo interrogates Bokuto about his homelife, and when he hears about his parents? Yeah, Bokuto wishes he could take it back.

Bokuto knew that Kuroo was quick on his feet, but damn if he didn’t get his pack quickly, efficiently, and safely away from Bokuto after that.

He’s eyes even flash red, and Bokuto is absolutely fascinated.

It takes a while to weasel his way back into Kuroo’s good books. He sits through a thorough lecture on alpha supremacy, and he hangs onto Kuroo’s every word. It’s actually amazing how much sense that makes. His parents are alpha supremacists… Kuroo even throws in a side comment on designation bigots and weirdly this is what brings them together. They are still on the outs though.

Kuroo gives him plenty of space to admit to his alpha sins, but he can't. And he won't lie, so Bokuto doesn’t admit to being an omega – or a beta, or even an alpha. He’s not here to get expelled! And he doesn’t really know how to tell anyone without saying outright 'hey hey hey! I'm an omega!'. Apparently everyone else can tell who the alphas, betas and omegas are by how they act. But Bokuto doesn’t know! And now is not the time to try anything new, not when he's still trying to both fit in and make up with Kuroo.

He does think about it though, about how people know who's alpha, beta or omega. And he even starts to think about how people percieve him. Logically, working through Kuroo’s reaction, he decides that he comes across as alpha. That also makes sense. His parents had raised him as an alpha until he presented. Then they sent him to Fukurodani where they also didn’t address designation stuff, and Bokuto hated to study so it’s not like he went and found anything out for himself. Plus, it wasn’t important.

At least, that’s what he’s always believed. Now that he’s meeting others, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that all this stuff, packs and designations, actually matter to… well everyone who’s not a Fukurodani student. No wonder they're looking at them weird.

That's only when he thinks about it though, and he totally is not thinking about it. Not much. He’s too busy trying to make up with Kuroo, because even with all the weirdness, he likes Kuroo. He’s the first friend that Bokuto has really made. Yes, he has team, but their team first, friends second. Hard to be anything else under the coach’s watchful eyes.

The chance comes unexpectedly. One evening they’re broken into year groups, and the first and second years have to sit around as the third years… well, Bokuto isn’t sure what the third years are doing. Even he can tell the Fukurodani third years are annoying everyone else there.

Turning to complain, he’s surprised to see Kuroo there. Kuroo just looks at him so, shrugging, Bokuto whispers that maybe he is a designation bigot, because the third years are such dicks, he totally assumes they’re alphas. There’s a beat, and then Kuroo laughs his terrible laugh, and they get in trouble but it’s worth it, because that’s night Kuroo starts being himself again. He’s not on high alert, he even walks away leaving Bokuto near his pack when he has to do something else.

Bokuto feels so proud after that. He’s not an alpha supremacist anymore!

He learns a lot at the camp. Perhaps most importantly, and certainly most confusingly, He learns that packs are important, and that almost every interaction has something to do with that. He’s never had to think about it, what with his family, and then his school, but it’s weird and upsetting, but also absolutely hilarious, the way that the other schools, especially the other alphas, treat him as a threat.

It doesn’t matter though. He leaves his first-year volleyball camp knowing that Kuroo is a friend for life.

~o~

Second year things are harder. Much harder. In first year, he was stressed trying to just… exist. It felt like one wrong move and he’d be off the volleyball team and that was not okay. Just hanging on took all of his energy.

Now he that he’s in second year, and things are actually going well? It’s now that he’s starting struggle. It isn’t that volleyball is harder, because it isn’t, he’s just having trouble… god! He doesn’t even know how to describe it.

The thing is, he’s having trouble focusing. He wants to cuddle all the time. He’s moods are worse than ever, and he never knows when he’ll start to spiral. And it shouldn’t be like this, because things are good. Things are better than good – they’re great!

He likes his team. Now that the second years are the third years, they are kind and supportive. And the second years, who were the first years, they’re cool. Of course they are, because Bokuto is a second year too!

And he even has the most amazing kohais in the whole wide world. Especially Akaashi. Akaashi is amazing, and Akaashi set for him and stayed behind for him and-

Okay so he might have gushed about Akaashi a lot, because Kuroo teases him at camp.

“You talk about Akaashi an awful lot, Bo. Could it be that you like the cute omega, hmmm?”

Kaashi is just his precious kohai! But Kuroo’s words do get him thinking. Because the thing is, is Akaashi actually an omega? Bokuto’s not sure. Akaashi doesn’t have any tells. Or does he? What are omega tells anyway? He thinks about the other omegas that he knows: Yaku. Fukunaga. Chigaya. Sengoku. What is it about them that makes them omegas? They’re all good players, but they played different volleyball positions, and were on different teams. They have different colored hair. Some are loud and cranky, some are quiet.

They have nothing in common with each other, and nothing in common with him. Except that they like volleyball and Bokuto is preeeeeetty sure that that’s not a designation thing. With no idea what ‘omega’ behaviors even are, just shrugs and tells Kuroo he doesn’t know Akaashi’s designation, because that was totally forbidden at Fukurodani.

It’s the first time he’s mentioned it outright, and Kuroo frowns, before jumping in with questions about all sorts of things. At the back of his mind, Bokuto is pretty sure this is the stuff the school wouldn’t like him to tell anyone, but he’s just glad to talk to someone, because it means he can ask questions in return.

And he has so many! Like, does Nekoma cuddle in their dorm, because they definitely are touchy out on the court. And at dinner. And that one time he went to get Kuroo, he saw the beds were close together. In the Fukurodani dorm the futons are laid out in these straight lines and are meant to stay like that. In reality when he’s asleep Bokuto always snuggles up close to whoever is next to him. It’s one reason he likes his new team – they don’t tell coach so he doesn’t get in trouble.

Which is not really fair, he tells Kuroo, since how is he meant to stop himself doing things in his sleep? He can’t! That’s the point of sleep.

Kuroo just laughs, although he looks thoughtful, and proceeds to tell him about how most schools encourage packs so that when they leave, they can find and contribute to healthy pack life.

It’s new, and it’s absolutely fascinating, and Bokuto soaks it all up.

Kuroo lets it drop after that. They still hang out, of course, but it’s normal volleyball chat. It’s on the last day that Bokuto just blurts out that they don’t teach anything about packs at Fukurodani.

“What d’you mean, nothing?”

Bokuto shrugs. “Like, nothing. You know we have to use suppressants and wear nulling products? Well, since no one is presenting as anything, they don’t teach anything.”

Kuroo’s surprise is morphing into anger. “What about classes about your designation? How to manage being an alpha, or beta, or omega…”

Shrugging again, Bokuto tells him, “That’s why m… some parents send their kids there, I think. Personally, I think they should just teach everyone everything. It’s not like you avoid people when you’re out in the real world, right?”

 

“You do know none of that is okay, Bo?” He doesn’t wait for Bokuto to respond. “Right. I’ll teach you. At Nationals, we’ll hang out, after Nekoma beats your ass, and I’ll teach you.”

Bokuto laughs, big and loud. “Fukurodani’ll beat you first!”

He can’t wait!

~o~

Nekoma don’t make it to nationals. He’s sad – of course he’s sad, if nothing else he was looking forward to seeing his best bro – but with more time on his own, he does see some amazing volleyball teams. (Well, he says on his own, but Akaashi is generally with him, and that makes it every better). He even manages to meet some of the more interesting volleyball players. He’s met them before of course, at least years nationals, but he hadn’t been interested in the same way.

Itachiyama. Inarizaki. Kamomedai. Shiratorizawa. All powerhouse schools. They’re still amazing teams and amazing players, but now he eyes them differently.

He starts a new game, where (in his head) he tries to guess what the different players designations are. It’s fascinating, and the third years have taken to chopping the back of his head when they catch him staring, but he wants to know! He doesn’t find out, of course. Not most of them but the ones he does, he’s wrong at least 50% of the time, so all this proves is that stereotypes are bullshit.

Since Kuroo wasn’t there, he has to entertain himself. And he does! He even makes new friends. He finds Miya Osamu – the more quietly spoken Miya – just hanging around outside, so he starts up a conversation. He’d assumed that he was an omega, but it turns out the loud brother is an omega. For some reason, that makes him feel good.

And he meets Sakusa Kiyoomi who has amazing hands. Bokuto guesses he’s a beta. And he is! But it doesn’t count, because Bokuto really had no what he was.

There’s lots of down time too. And Bokuto takes advantage of that to watch the other teams. The coach gives him a weird look, but Bokuto is the ace! Knowing how the other teams work is part of his job, and the coach leaves him to his own devices.

And Bokuto does watch the teams. He’s just not watching for their volleyball. He watches how the teams work together, and how they really are packs. Bokuto’s no closer to understanding anything about packs but by the end of Nationals he’s longing for something he doesn’t know how to put into words, something he didn’t even know he missed.

~o~

Third year is… well, amazing.

Somehow, the team decided that Bokuto will make a fine captain. And it’s the absolute best! Kuroo is captain too, and they make plans for multiple training camps. Or, when that gets shot down, lots of practice matches.

The team… the team doesn’t want to train as much as Bokuto, but Bokuto has the best vice-captain in the world. And they all listen to Akaashi. Bokuto has to as well, so he doesn’t get quite as many training camps as he wants, but there’s still a lot.

And then, just when things are getting… he’s loathe to call it stale because nothing about volleyball is stale, but when things need a bit of livening up, Kuroo manages to find another team to join the training camp. Kuroo tells them the team is interesting, and holy hell is Kuroo is right!

Karasuno is full of interesting people, and even better, they are really vocal in talking about pack.

Apparently, their omega setter didn’t have a great middle school experience, so the Karasuno team are teaching him how to be part of a pack. Bokuto is fascinated, completely and utterly fascinated, and he can barely keep his eyes off the setter. He looks so cranky and intimidating. Actually, when he thinks about it, a little like Akaashi.

“But you’re not cranky or intimidating at all. You’re amazing. And the best setter ever,” Bokuto tells him over dinner. Akaashi gives him a weird look, but thanks him anyway.

Even over dinner he stares at Kageyama. Akaashi elbows him in the ribs, so he does his best to look more subtly, but he fails. He accidently makes eye contact with the chibi middle blocker, who whispers something to his captain then comes bounding over.

Not many people from other schools’ approach Bokuto. It’s not just Bokuto, it’s all the Fukurodani students, but Chibi (I’m Hinata Shouyou and we’re going to beat you!) thinks Bokuto is amazing! Bokuto feels his head grow three sizes just listening to him.

Laughing he elbows Kuroo in the side, who just smirks at him. He doesn’t disagree though, as the little middle blocker waxes lyrical over his spikes. He casually mentions how he’s one of the Karasuno alphas, before he heads back over to his team.

Hinata’s words might have gone to his head, and he struts back into the Fukurodani dorm. Konoha just shakes his head.

“You do realize he was warning you off, right? Like, he’s an alpha, and he’s got his eye on you?”

His teammates laugh at him, and Bokuto pouts. He got it! He’s not actually stupid! Even Bokuto could pick up on that alpha warning. But he still got a disciple, and no one, not even Akaashi can take that away from him!

He might have got a little intense when he confronted Akaashi about that, but Akaashi just rolls his eyes. “I wouldn’t dream of it, Bokuto-san.”

Although he pouts at the setter, he still snuggles up to Akaashi that night. Totally accidently though. He still can’t help what he does in his sleep.

~o~

Hinata’s warning doesn’t put him off. If anything, it makes him watch more. He sees how protective Hinata is, but so many of the them are? And Hinata is little, and that’s not normally an alpha trait, but then again, Hoshiumi is an alpha, and a Hinata type. Maybe it’s not so much a Hinata type, but an alpha type. His musings are interrupted.

“Hey, Tsukki-poo!” Bokuto waves his arms at the Karasuno’s other middle blocker: a tall, glasses wearing blonde. He hasn’t found his volleyball stride yet, Bokuto can see that, and he also thinks he is the right person to help!

Unfortunately, Tsukishima doesn’t. Bokuto sighs as he watches Tsukishima walk in the opposite direction. He doesn’t know what he’s missing. But he will! Somehow, Bokuto is going to get him on side.
It’s going to be tricky though, as he seems to know where Bokuto is, and he just disappears! When he tells Akaashi, the look he gets in return is incredulous.

“Bokuto-san, Tsukishima-kun can hear you. We all can hear you. We all know exactly where you are at all times.”

It was perhaps meant as a light scold, but Bokuto just laughs. He has the sort of personality that they all keep track of! That’s great! It doesn’t help him get Tsukishima to practice though, so he calls in the big guns, enlisting Kuroo’s help.

Instead of just helping him (which a real friend would do, Kuroo!), Kuroo sits him down and gives him the biggest lecture but Bokuto doesn’t know why.

“Are you even listening to me, Bo?”

Bokuto pouts. “Yes. But, Kuroo! He’s so taaaaaall. I want to spike against him! And he needs the practice so really I’m doing him a favor.”

Kuroo gives him a funny look, and starts to say, “Bo, that isn’t the-“

Stopping, he just shakes his head, and eventually agrees to help. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go well, and Kuroo has to go and apologize to the Karasuno captain. Bokuto tags along because it was partly his fault… and he learns something new about the captain.

“Ah… thanks for telling me. Tsukishima’s finding his feet at the moment. I think he’s struggling with being around so many alpha’s-“

“But I thought your team was full of alphas?”

Sawamura looks at him. Like, really looks at him. Not in the you’re an alpha weirdo back off kind of way, but in the I… don’t understand kind of way. Bokuto just smiles encouragingly, and eventually Sawamura speaks on. “Ah, no. No, our only alphas are Hinata and Yachi. Most of the team are beta’s, which is fine, and I like to think I lead by example, but here, well, it’s quite different.”

Bokuto’s eyes light up, and he goes to ask more, but Kuroo elbows him in the side. “Thanks, Sawamura. We’ll do our best to fix it up.”

Sawamura nods like he doesn’t expect anything less. Bokuto wants a nod like that!

“I thought Sawamura was an alpha!”

They’re not far enough away for Kuroo’s liking, and hissing, he grabs Bokuto’s arms and drags him round the corner. It doesn’t stop Bokuto chattering away.

“I thought since he was the captain, he’d be an alpha! But wow did I get I get fooled!”

“It’s rude to talk about people while their right there, Bo,” Kuroo scolds him.

Bokuto frowns. “Well, maybe, but it’s also rude to talk about them behind their back!”

Kuroo doesn’t know what to say to that, so he unhelpfully rolls his eyes at Bokuto. “That’s not the point. You can’t just make assumptions like that. Dynamics don’t make someone a better leader, just because most of us captains are alphas doesn’t mean that we make the best captains. Anyway, you can scent the difference between genders, right Bo?”

From the way he asks, Kuroo is expecting Bokuto to agree. But he doesn’t. He shakes his head and tells him, “I’m on suppressants and blockers.”

“Yeah, but-“

“They’re the hardcore ones. My parents were worried I’d forget to take them, so I get injections every so often.”

“What?” Kuroo looks stunned for a moment, then tells him to keep practicing.

“Hang on, Kuroo, you were going to-“

But he’s already gone. Rude! Thinks Bokuto, and pouting he wanders around, trying to find someone to set for him. Or block for him. Or do something with him but they’re either all too busy. Or hiding.

He’d put his money on hiding.

“What’s the point of coming to a volleyball camp and not doing any volleyball,” he grumbles.

No Akaashi, no Kuroo, no Hinata, no Tsukki, no Lev - not that he could practice with Lev anyway. He saw the way Yaku looked at him when he’s sidled up to Lev.

There’s no one!

Sadly, he leaves the gym, and he knows he should just go back to the dorm, calm down and… and fuck it! He can’t! He’s got too much energy and if he doesn’t do something he’ll just drive everyone wild with his energy.

The only thing he can think of, it a run. Unfortunately, it’s a win-win situation. He can do it alone. He should probably work on his endurance. And if he goes hard enough, he should be tired enough to just go to bed.

A run it is. Decision made, he heads to the staff room – the coaches are always there after official training is done. He makes sure to knock politely, and bow politely, and quietly ask his coach if he can go.

The way coach looks at him – long and hard – means it’s probably a no. But he’s surprised.

“Be back by dinner. If you’re not, there’ll be trouble.”

Not one to argue with good fortune, Bokuto bows again and runs back to his dorm to get his runners. There’s no one else there, but since the coach knows it should be fine. Bokuto gets changed and then just heads off.

~o~

Outside of training, Bokuto doesn’t often run. And he’s reminded why. It’s kinda boring, really. When they run laps at school, the team is there and they’re doing it together. Just running, however… You just put one foot in front of the other and keep on going. If you’re running properly, you don’t even pay attention to what is going on around you – which is exactly what Bokuto is doing. Just putting one foot down in front of the other again and again and again. He doesn’t even run for that long. He’s barely out of breath when he slows down to look around and get his bearings.

Why does none of it look familiar?

“Tch,” he says. His team teases him about having no sense of direction, so there’s no way he’s telling them about this. He remembers the name of the school, so he’ll just put the address into his phone GPS.

He stabs his ass where his pocket should be. Then does it a few more times before realizing that he has no pockets. Which means he doesn’t have his phone. Despite his instant spike of anxiety, he curses.

“I thought only women’s clothing had no pockets,” he complains out loud.

Sighing, he turns around. He came from that way, so camp must be that way. He’ll just have to jog until he recognizes something. There’s not really a lot of point, since he wasn’t paying attention in the first place. Still! He’s hopeful he can find something to point him in the right direction.

He doesn’t. Instead, he runs into trouble.

~o~

They’re loud and rude and he assumes it’s a group of alphas. Yes, there he goes being a designation bigotry again, but he’s hard-pressed holding back his sneer. They’re just a bunch of assholes! They’re posturing, and roughing each other, and growling in his face. Bokuto giggles when one attempts to flex their pecs, because literally everyone Bokuto knows can do a better job that that.

It’s not the right response though.

“You touched, or somethin’?”

Touched? “Touching what?”

Screwing up his nose, Bokuto wonders if there is something wrong with this alpha. Just an asshole he decides, and the alpha pokes him in the chest. Hard.

“Ohhhhh. We gotta funny boy here, fellas.”

Bokuto can feel it escalating. They’re probably pumping out the pheromones, but all Bokuto can base it on is their looks. And they are looking nasty. Time to get himself out of this. “Look, I just want to get back and-“

“You should so some respect, boy!”

What? “No,” he tells them seriously. “Respect is earned, not demanded. So-“

“No one ever taught you that weak alpha’s obey strong alphas?”

Jeez! Bokuto thought people only said stupid lines like that in movies. He opens his mouth to tell them that, then realizes that might not be the best idea. Most of the alpha’s are crowding around him, and since they’re on all sides, he doesn’t know where to look. He’s coming to understand there’s a lot they don’t teach them at school. He clenches his fists, ready to… okay, he’s not ready for anything, when a smaller one at the back heaves a bored sigh. “C’mon guys. There’s no challenge here. Let’s just go.”

For a second, it takes the attention off him. The rudest one, the one that poked him in the chest, rounds on the small alpha. “Getting cold feet, huh? We don’t need a weak piece of shit like you. Better watch your mouth, runt, or you’ll be next.”

Instead of responding, the alpha walks away. Which is what Bokuto tries to do when he’s stopped. By a fist to his side. It’s a shock more than anything, and Bokuto’s way of dealing with shock is to get loud.

“What the fuck? I’m already late and you’re just-“

Bokuto is strong. He is fit and flexible and strong. He’s a national level youth athlete who’s going to ! But he’s also never been in a fight. This is his first one, and hopes not to get into another. He’s really not enjoying it. Instead of fighting back, like the alphas obviously expected, when he’s pushed to the ground, he just curls in on himself, hoping that they stop and go away. It’s surprising he’s even got that much thought happening, giving that he’s also panicking and hyperventilating.

“He’s just an alpha pussy. No point in this.”

One more kick, and the alpha’s walk away. Bokuto doesn’t move though. Hands wrapped around his head, he tries to get his breathing back under control, counting slowly like Akaashi showed him.

He can’t get his brain to stop though. The alphas and their sneers and their fists and their boots. Why did they do that? Slowly, slowly he moves to his knees. He feels a little better not lying on the ground, but even so, a few tears try to leak from his eyes. He blinks them away. He’s not too badly hurt, probably just a few bruises. Did they hit his face? He can’t remember. Slowly he moves one shaking hand to his face and it’s wet. For a moment he’s too scared to check if it’s blood or tears, but before he can panic again, then there’s a hand on his chin tipping it up.

When he makes eye contact with the stranger, he yelps and jerks back, crying out again when he lands heavily on the ground. The alpha comes up to him and Bokuto scrambles back until his back hits the wall. Crouching down, the alpha stares at him.

“You look tougher than you are. Weird for an…” he pauses and sniffs loudly. Bokuto is still too scared to do anything. “Alpha? I was guessing you were an alpha, but you don’t act like one. But look at you,“ he scolds. “All beat up. Where did you need to go anyway?”

Licking his lips, Bokuto takes a few moments to get his voice back. “Back to the school. We have a volleyball camp, but I went for a run and I don’t know how to get back-“

Shit! That’s way too much information to tell a stranger! Not that it seems to bother the alpha.

“You don’t know how to look after yourself, huh? Well luckily, Uncle Terushima will look after you.” Grabbing his hand, the alpha pulls him up and, one Bokuto is stable on his feet, starts dragging him along. “You really shouldn’t be wandering around by yourself at night. This isn’t a safe part of town.”

“I don’t think you get to lecture me,” Bokuto informs Terushima, “given you're part of a dangerous gang who bashes people up.”

Before Terushima can reply, Bokuto hears his name being called.

“Bo!”
“Bokuto!”
“Bokuto-san!”

“Bokuto, huh,” the alpha murmurs.

Bokuto ignores him though, because right in front of him are Kuroo, Daichi and Akaashi. They’re all there and they look frantic. And when they get a good look at him, Bokuto can see them puff up. Kuroo strides forward, grabbing Terushima’s arm, pulling him away from Bokuto.

Bokuto tries to tell them he’s fine – and that is no lie, he’s feeling much better now– but they aren’t listening to him. Instead, they’re glaring at Terushima. To his immense surprise, Bokuto wants to protect him. Even though he’s a very questionable person, he’s now the one who is alone here, but-

“Why do you look so happy?” Bokuto blurts out.

Because he does. Terushima looks absolutely thrilled with what’s going on.

“It’s just your friends, Bokkun, who-“

“You don’t get to call him that!”

Oh jeez. Kuroo sounds furious. A glance shows his face to be redder than his uniform, and behind him Sawamura and Akaashi are standing with arms crossed over their chests.

“You look like bouncers,” Bokuto tells them, before his brain catches up with his mouth.

Quickly, he waves his hands, in a flimsy attempt to dissipate the words. But it’s too late: it turns all the attention back onto him.

“You’re injured, Kou.” Kuroo’s tone is short.

He’s obviously making a huge effort to not lose it then and there, but it’s a struggle. Terushima, now flanked by Akaashi and Sawamura is bent over laughing. Distantly, Bokuto thinks of how it reminds him of Kuroo’s laugh. He’s definitely not going to say that though.

“You’d think you would get on. You both think you’re funny.”

Was that even better? He internally reprimands himself. It certainly did nothing to calm the situation down. Although once Kuroo grabs him and pulls him in for a hug, he seems better. Bokuto freezes as Kuroo presses against his neck and head. He’s being scented… It’s… It’s weird. Bokuto freezes as he tries to figure out how it feels. It… it feels good, but it’s-

Sensing his uncertainty, Kuroo pulls back, although he doesn’t let go.

“Bo? What’s wrong? I know that this is probably not what your school-“

“It’s not that.” Bokuto finds his voice. Even if it is a little creaky. “It’s just… no one’s ever done that before so I wasn’t sure…”

For once, Bokuto speaks softly, but it still feels like everyone heard. For just one moment, there’s silence complete silence, and then he’s engulfed in Kuroo’s arms, Kuroo much more aggressive in his scenting. Without conscious though, Bokuto’s eyes shut and his head tips back. In that moment, everything is perfect.

And then Terushima ruins it.

“Man, even though I hang out with alphas, I wasn’t expecting see this sort of alpha-on-alpha porn. Not that I’m complain– ow! Why would you do that?”

Turning, Bokuto pulls out of Kuroo’s arms. He can feel the way Kuroo doesn’t want to let go, his hands clinging, but when Bokuto steps away he does let his hand drop. Hands on hips, Bokuto looks Terushima over. From the top of his shiny blond hair, down to his-

“Is that a piercing?”

Okay, so he doesn’t get far.

Bokuto takes a step forward, even as Kuroo pulls him back. Terushima basks in the attention and sticks his tongue out. “Want a feel?”

Of course he does! Bokuto reaches his hand forward, and is stopped by Kuroo grabbing his wrist. He scowls at Kuroo, before turning back to Terushima, who is now a goodly distance away. He’s looking at Bokuto like he wishes he was further away.

“What the fuck?”

What? “What? How else would I touch it?”

There’s a strangled sound from behind him, but Bokuto ignores it, choosing instead to focus on Terushima’s mouth. His pink tongue is poking out and light keeps on catching the metal. He really, really wants to touch it. Terushima is only a little guy, and he does owe him…

The fates are on Terushima’s side though.

“Bokuto-san, would you mind telling us what happened? Coach said you went for a run, but then you weren’t back for dinner-“

Okay, so that grabs his attention. “What? I missed dinner? I swear I haven’t been gone that long!”

“- and now we find you and not only are you with a strange beta, but you’re covered in bruises.”

Beta? “You’re a beta?” Terushima nods his head. “What about the rest of them?”

“Rest of them?” That was Sawamura. Actually, now that he thinks about it…

“How come you’re all out here? I forgot how to get back to the school, and Terushima was going to show me… oh! Since the others are here, you don’t have to come along, Terushima, you can just-“

“He’s coming. He’s got a bit of explaining to do,” Kuroo’s voice is dark. If it had been directed at Bokuto he would have been very nervous, but Terushima just shrugs.

“I don’t mind spending a little more time with Bokkun, so-“

“You aren’t going anywhere near Bokuto-san,” Akaashi informs him.

“He’s not so bad-“ Bokuto starts to say, but Akaashi interrupts him.

“Bokuto-san, look at yourself.”

He can tell that Akaashi is stressed, so he tries. He definitely has a few bruises – they hurt – and his shirt is ripped. And his knee hurts too, but that’s from the gravel. But he can also tell that most of them are on his face, which he can’t see, plus it’s dark, so he wouldn’t be able to see anyway. Akaashi is just being weird. Because he’s worried, Bokuto reminds himself. He can definitely make Akaashi’s life easier.

“Yes?”

Akaashi frowns that frown that means he has a lot to say but isn’t going to. “Bokuto-san, if this person attacked you-“

“Oh, it wasn’t Terushima! He came back after I was left on the ground! It was the other alpha’s he was with.” But Terushima wasn’t an alpha. “Maybe they were beta’s though.”

Terushima laughs. “Nah, they were all alphas. Couldn’t you tell?” Terushima’s eyes go sharp. “Oh, you couldn’t tell. Maaaaaybe then-“

“Right. Well, he’s still a witness, and coach said if we weren’t back in half an hour, they would call police,” Akaashi checks his phone. “We have three minutes. I’ll call coach now. But this person should still come with us. You’ll be talking to the police,” Akaashi informs Terushima sternly.

Terushima just shrugs. “Fine by me. I’m like an undercover spy. You gotta run with the gang before you can take them down.”

Kuroo and Sawamura just stare at the beta, but Bokuto is captivated. “An adventure!”

Seeing he has an audience, Terushima swaggers in his direction when Sawamura pulls him back.

“You get to walk with me. Isn’t that fun?”

Sawamura isn’t sounding like it’s fun, but before anyone says anything Akaashi returns.

“All the coaches are expecting us back. I’ve told them we have a… perpetrator with us.”

“Kaaaaaashi!” Bokuto whines. “He’s a bad person-“

“Hey!”

“-but not a… a perpetrator. He didn’t touch me at all. He just walked away when they were kicking me.”

There’s silence, and Bokuto thinks he must have done something right, before his three friends turn on the beta with a growl.

“You just watched someone get beaten up?”

“No! Of course not!” His friends relax at that. Terushima opened his mouth again. “I closed my eyes.”

Bokuto almost face palms. And people said he doesn’t know how to read a room.

“The coaches will call the police, and then this one,” and Akaashi pulls him along, “can talk to them about his friends.”

“No need to pull me,” Terushima informs Akaashi. “I’m coming with. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to turn them in for a while.”

“He’s a spy, remember.” Bokuto interjects and is ignored.

Akaashi pins the beta with a stare. “Well, you should have just done it, instead of letting innocent students get hurt.”

The beta just laughs and trots up beside Bokuto. Who can’t help noticing he goes on the side that Kuroo isn’t. Kuroo’s quiet, but he’s still radiating rage. Bokuto wouldn’t mess with him, but Terushima doesn’t seem affected at all. He can’t help but feel a little impressed.

The walk back to the school is quick, and Bokuto is horrified.

“I was this close all along? That doesn’t even make sense. I knew it wasn’t a long run… damn! I need to train more. Arrghhhh!” Bokuto pulls at his hair. “I hate running, but if I was that slow-“

“Bokuto? Where the hell you been?”

Shit. Bokuto straightens up. “Sorry, sir, I got a bit waylaid and-“

“What the hell happened to your face?” Bokuto goes to answer, but the coach speaks over him. Again. “Never mind, the police have sent a few officers along. They’ll be along shortly to speak with you. All of you.” He eyes the group and nods at Akaashi. “You can all wait here until they call you. Bokuto, you’re an adult, so I won’t be in there, but remember you’re a student at Fukurodani.”

Nodding uncertainly, he waits under the coach’s stern eye. Who eventually hmmphs and stalks off.

“Wow, what an ass-“ Terushima starts to say, but somehow stops himself. Bokuto is impressed: Terushima doesn’t seem to have a lot of impulse control.

“They are concerned for the school reputation,” Akaashi tells him tonelessly.

The boys eventually find a table to sit at, and while Bokuto welcomes Terushima the others are much more grudging in their acceptance. Bokuto hip checks Kuroo.

“C’mon, bro. He came back! He’s gonna talk to them. And he doesn’t have any friends here, so of course he should sit with us!”

“Thanks, Bokkun!”

There’s silence, until Bokuto breaks it. Looking at Akaashi he asks, “Kaashi, did I use waylaid right?”

There’s a moment of stunning silence, before his friends are all laughing. Akaashi even gives him a smile. It’s a nice one.

“You did indeed, Bokuto-san. I’ll make sure to tell Yukie-san and the team.”

Leaning back, Bokuto smiles to himself. He did good.

~o~

The police interview isn’t the worst, but it’s not the best, either. Not that he has a lot to compare it to, but he clocks it as a 5/10.

The first thing they do is ask if he wants an adult present, but he’s 18, and technically an adult, so he just shakes his head. Even if he wanted someone, coach was the only option, and he’d already made it clear he wouldn’t be sitting with Bokuto.

Then they ask about his designation. He really wasn’t expecting that – he doesn’t think he’s every been asked that question before, and wide-eyed, Bokuto blinks at them.

Finally, he asks, “Is that important?”

The officers exchange glances. Apparently, this isn’t an answer they expect. As he sees them carefully choose their words, Bokuto gets what his coach meant by a Fukurodani student. He still has to go by all the school rules.

Suddenly he’s really grateful he’s alone. It would be ten times worse if coach was here – poor Akaashi!

Haltingly, as he desperately tries to remember what’s written in the student guide, Bokuto tells them that designation talk is forbidden at Fukurodani Academy, and unless it has any real bearing on the case, he would prefer to keep that information to himself.

“Come on, son, surely they don’t mean-“

Bokuto shakes his head. “I’m sorry, sir, but unless there’s a legal reason, I really can’t say. Like I said, at Fukurodani we’re not allowed to talk about designations. That can get you expelled. And as I am here as a Fukurodani student, that rule still stands. Thank you for your understanding,” he remembers to add.

They’re obviously shocked, and not particularly good at hiding it. Briefly, Bokuto wonders if it was a trick or if they just weren’t good police officers. Surely the police captured the criminals by pretending to think things.

Their shock does plant a small seed though: what’s the point of hiding their designations? What is the ban actually trying to achieve? It was a big thought, too big for right now, so Bokuto tucks it away for another time, when he can pay more attention.

For now, the police are over their surprise and he has an interview to complete. He’ll use it as practice for when he’s famous.

After that it’s not too bad. He tells them what happened and gives a few descriptions. The most exciting part is when they line the table with photographs, asking if he recognizes any. Terushima of course was there, so he picks him out first.

“Did this young man attack you?”

Busy staring at the other photos, Bokuto doesn’t notice the intent look, followed by a slump when he gives his answer.

“Oh no, he helped me. He’s here at the moment actually. After I got attacked, he came back and was going to bring me back to the school – I got a bit lost, which is ridiculous, because I wasn’t even that far away! – except Kuroo, Akaashi and Sawamura came. They’re here as part of the volleyball camp too, although Akaashi is the vice-captain at Fukurodani-“

He chattered on as he picked out a few more photos, able to tell the officers that, yes, that person had attacked him. And that person seemed to be the main one. At least he wanted the fight the most. Oh, and that one had a knife, but didn’t use it.

It didn’t take long to wrap it up – although they tell him they’ll be in contact. As he walks out, Bokuto loudly proclaims, “You gotta believe me! I’m an innocent man!”

All heads turn towards him (luckily, it’s just his friends). He keeps a straight face as long as he can before he bursts out laughing. The glares he get are totally worth it, because that was hilarious. Akaashi’s glare fades as he looks over Bokuto’s shoulder, and he sees Kuroo and Sawamura straighten up.

That can only mean one thing. Mentally steadying himself, he turns.

“Go to the nurses office and have them check you over.” Coach is snappy.

“Ah, actually, sir, if we could accompany him, for our report-“

The coach waves them forward but Bokuto looks back at Akaashi. “Kaashi? Will you come too?”

Akaashi is already on his feet. The team knows how much Bokuto hates going to the nurse alone, and most of the time he gets a gentle teasing for it. Akaashi isn’t laughing, just takes his hand and leads him along. Bokuto squeezes his hand. He appreciates it.

~o~

The damage isn’t severe, but it’s enough to bench him for the rest of camp. Bokuto tries to argue, but the coach makes his decree and walks out. The nurse has already gone, and the officers don’t linger, turning to go.

“Ah, I’m sorry! I meant to ask, although maybe you can’t tell me…” Bokuto trails off. Is he overstepping some bounds here? He hopes not. When he just stops talking, Akaashi gently nudges him. “Right! Terushima, is he going to be okay? Can I see him? Can I-“

“I can’t talk about someone involved the investigation, Bokuto-san, but-“

“Could you just tell him he can come and visit us at Fukurodani Academy? Like, not if that’s going to get him into trouble, but he didn’t do anything and-“

One of the officers walks out, and the other lingers just a few moments, before telling Bokuto they’ll pass on the message. When they’re gone, it’s just him and Akaashi, and Bokuto realizes that his friend is really unhappy.

“Kaashi-“

“You left without telling anyone.”

“Coach-“

“Anyone on the team, Bokuto-san. We don’t know the area, but I never imagined-“

“I’m sorry, Akaashi.” For once Bokuto’s voice is quiet.

“Why’d you run off?”

Tilting his head, Bokuto looks at him. “I didn’t? I mean, I guess technically I did because I was running, but I just couldn’t find anyone to practice with me, and it was aaaaaaaages until dinner, and I had too much energy, and I didn’t want to burden anyone else, so I thought a run would be a good thing. I’m thinking my endurance isn’t quite good enough, so running would help and-“

“Bokuto-san.” Akaashi’s voice is quiet, but it stops him straight away. “Please do not leave like that again. Even if I am tired, it is never burden. If I am not up to it, I will find someone else. Just please promise me you won’t just run off like that.”

Bokuto is nodding before he can think about it. “I’m sorry, Kaashi, I really am! I didn’t think anything would happen, just that it would be easier.”

Sighing deeply, Akaashi finds his feet. “We should go back to the dorm.”

Bokuto’s stomach growls, and he looks embarrassed. He’s not going to ask for anything though: it’s late and it’s his fault he missed dinner. Akaashi, as ever a mind reader, smiles.

“The third years managed to save you some food.”

“Why didn’t you say so? Let’s go, Kaashi!” There’s a bounce in his step as Bokuto strides back to the dorm.

~o~

Being benched sucks. It’s the absolute worst. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. But for some reason… it’s not sucking quite so hard? Lots of the other teams are coming up to him, so he always has someone to talk to. Even Tsukki did! And he said next time he’ll practice with them! Bokuto is practically giddy after Tsukki said that. After all the crap that happened yesterday, the fates are finally on his side.

Caught up in his own stuff, it takes a few days to notice that the rest of his team is also being… well, it sounds weird, but for the first time ever at a volleyball camp, Fukurodani is being included. Bokuto isn’t quite sure why the other teams changed their mind, but he sees how happy his team is, and he’s glad. This is awesome!

~o~

The other teams, once Kuroo informs them of what was going on, take it upon themselves to start including the Fukurodani players in some of their pack bonding. It wasn’t easy – after all, they were new and evolving packs themselves, but by the end of the week there are definitely some new bonds.

And the Fukurodani players are looking a lot more relaxed.

Most of them know what’s happening. Most of them pack bond with their family and now they are getting to do it here and… and it changes things. They feel better. More complete. More relaxed.

Somehow the coaches don’t notice.

Probably not interested, Akaashi thinks scathingly. It’s hard to keep his bad attitude though, when he’s snuggled between Kuroo and Kenma. And then his eyes fall on Bokuto and some of that stress starts to return.

“What’s going through that head of yours, Akaashi?”

He sighs. “Bokuto-san.”

Kuroo follows his eyes, and after observing a few minutes, groans. Sawamura and Sugawara are trying to get Bokuto to come along with them. Bokuto is resistant, casting hopeful eyes in the direction of the volleyball courts.

Sawamura’s voice travels back to them. “Even if we wanted to, Bokuto, you’re benched or did you forget that?”

“It’s not that I forgot exactly, but-“

Kuroo grunts. “Yeah, about that. I’ve been talking to Sawamura. When we split you up between us-“

“Knew it,” Akaashi whispers.

“Karasuno got Bo. I wanted him with us, but it would have been a bit too obvious. It’s funny though. They were so untrusting of Bo-“

“That was you, Kuroo, or don’t you remember chasing him off in first year?”

“Hush, Kenma. Anyway. They tell me Bo has literally zero idea about bonding. He just doesn’t recognize what’s in front of him. They’ve been subtly trying to figure out his designation-“

“Kuroo-san!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I said subtly! We don’t want any of you to get in trouble, Akaashi. Believe me when I say that!” He waits for Akaashi to nod, then continues. “So Karasuno is subtly feeling him out, but he doesn’t react to anything. Like, nothing, so they don’t know!” Kuroo huffs an irritated breath, before turning his laser eye on Akaashi. “Do you know?”

Even Kenma stirs at that, lifting his head from his game to look at Akaashi out of the corner of his eye. Akaashi’s lips tighten. Even here, safe as it feels, the coaches, or their spies, could be listening. Not that he thinks anyone on the team is a spy, but that’s how it works, right? You trust them until they stick in the knife. Oh god, Bokuto and Terushima have affected him…

Kuroo lets the silence build, before asking quietly, “Do you think that there’s anything wrong, the way your school makes everyone hide their secondary genders?”

Akaashi doesn’t even have to think about it. “It’s a selling point of the school. Everyone knows what they are getting into. On paper at least,” he adds with a frown. “And on paper, it has a lot going for it. A school where it really is merit based-“

“Ignoring the fact that it’s an elite, expensive school, where you need to have social standing, or money, or both to get in,” Kenma murmurs. He’s paying attention, although his focus is back on the game in his hands. Kuroo reaches around Akaashi and shoves him.

“My parents did a lot of research, and decided that would be best or me. I’m a beta,” Akaashi whispers this, hoping the flush on his cheeks isn’t too obvious. It’s the first time he’s said it out loud in a very long time, and if the way Kuroo and Kenma crowd closer is any indication, he fails.

“The idea is great. You get judged on your actions and achievements rather than on your genetic luck. But…” it’s hard to find the right words. “The way the school presents what they do is quite different to what actually happens. You’ve seen our volleyball team? It’s… unhealthy. The team dynamic is off, because we aren’t supposed to have any team dynamics. Too close to pack dynamics.”

This year the volleyball team is functioning much better. Not as a team, exactly, and certainly not as a pack, but Bokuto somehow manages to draw people in, and get them to work together without all that. It’s quite an achievement. Akaashi is proud of his role in it, as well. “Our volleyball team isn’t even the worst. But the rules… I know our parents all agreed to it, but I’m pretty sure many of them, my own included, didn’t realize how…” Akaashi shakes his head. It’s incredibly hard to describe. Yes, it’s just hiding your designation, but it’s not just that. It’s so much more. “I believe it’s fairly close to child abuse. None of the students learn how to form bonds, how to control scent, or anything about their designations. It’s all banned.”

“Some of us are lucky. We have loving supporting families who support and scent us. It’s technically not allowed, but quite a few of us come to school with scent bonds.”

“But you said that wasn’t allowed?”

Akaashi can see how interested Kuroo is. And he doesn’t blame him. The whole idea is the very opposite of how most of them live.

“Most of us have families that still support them, and scent them. If you meet people before they go in for decontamination-“

“What the fuck? You call it decontamination?” Kuroo looks shocked, and Kenma twitches.

Grinning, Akaashi replies, “Not officially. But that’s effectively what it is. There’s a teacher out the front and if you smell too much of… well, anything I guess you are sent to null up. But there are also people who send their children to Fukurodani because of its… stance.”

He wasn’t saying it right. But hopefully he was saying it in a way that wouldn’t get him expelled. “Although I have no proof, and we haven’t discussed it, I believe that Bokuto-san is from one of those families.”

Kuroo nods. “Yeah, his parents are alphas. He’s told me a few times. And honestly? I almost blanked Bo for being an alpha supremacist.”

Both Akaashi and Kenma stare at him. Kuroo puts up his spare hand defensively. “Hey, it’s not my fault! The Bokuto’s are well respected alphas, and we all know what that means. Plus a few of the things he told me… Look, I stand by that decision. If he was anything like his parents, it would have been bad for the omegas and betas in my team.”

“Kuroo has a god complex,” Kenma tells Akaashi. Who just laughs.

“I hadn’t noticed, what with the rescue efforts, and the way you masterminded this whole save Fukurodani students campaign.”

To his surprise, Kuroo blushes a bright red and looks away. Akaashi lets him simmer in his embarrassment before continuing.

“Although I’ve never met them, I don’t think much of his parents. Bokuto-san is the only person at school I have never scented anything on. And I do mean anything. Even the strictest teachers will sometimes have a bond scent on them.” Akaashi scowls. “It’s so hypocritical. They come like that, but if we do, we have to shower down with nulling sprays.”

“Hang on, you’re telling me, that in the two years you’ve known him, you’ve never scenting anyone or anything on Bokuto?”

Akaashi can understand Kuroo’s shock. For Akaashi, the surprise had crept up on him. Everyone had an off day. Even the teachers. And if anyone was going to forget to null up, it was going to be Bokuto. He had many, many good points, but consistency in anything other than volleyball was not one of them.

“Oh wait. Last year I think, he told me he gets suppressant shots. His parents are worried he’ll miss a dose or something and get in trouble at school. But medical grade suppression is…”

It’s not good. It hints at neglect. Bokuto’s homelife has definitely concerned him over the years. But he’s shaken it off. Not only is Bokuto his senpai, but he’s a happy, energetic, leader. Yes, he has down moments. One of Akaashi’s first jobs, for want of a better word, was to manage Bokuto’s moods. Because their ace is moody, but as Akaashi observed him, he started to wonder…

“There is no way that Bokuto-san is not touch starved – it’s in the way he’s always hanging all over everyone. But there’s never any intent to it. People assume he’s an alpha – he’s big and tall and strong – and so he’s coming onto everyone he touches, but,” Akaashi shrugs. “He doesn’t react the way you expect an alpha to act. And to be fair he doesn’t really react the way you would expect a beta to act.”

Beside him, Kuroo draws in a shocked breath. “You don’t think-“

“I don’t know what I think. All I can say is as he has no idea when it comes to secondary gender. Not for himself, and not for others. You’ve seen him play guess the designation when he thinks no one is paying attention to him. It really is a guessing game. And,” Akaashi pauses. Is this giving too much away? “He’s especially interested in omegas, but not in a… an alpha sort of way. And Bokuto-san is very unlikely to just admit it, and I haven’t been able to think of a way to ask him.”

Some of Akaashi’s frustration comes out in his voice. It feels good to share some of his concerns. Although that doesn’t come without guilt – no they’re all worried, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

They’ll just have to wait until the next camp.