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“Sawamura-san?” A voice calls from behind Daichi.

“Yes?” Daichi turns around, to face a girl, fidgeting nervously. Beside her, another girl shoulders her forward. He tries to place her name but comes up with a blank --- he remembers her though, even if passingly, from some class collaboration with class 3 during the last school festival.

“C’mon,” her friend encourages her as she grins up at him. “She’s shy.”

“Oh,” he blinks. Was this a---? He didn’t really think of himself as particularly attractive, but ever since he’d become the captain of the volleyball club, he’d gotten more attention than he’d ever expected. He’d received a couple of confessions this year, but his minimal experience didn’t make him any less nervous about receiving any more.

The friend though, that was new. And not an element he knew how to deal with either. Daichi glances at her worriedly, and somehow all she does is roll her eyes, nudging her friend a little more.

“She just wants to ask you a question,” the friend supplies, and Daichi relaxes.

“Oh, yeah, of course. Um, I know we’ve met before but uh---”

“I’m Miyamura,” the girl supplies, and takes a deep breath. “I--- I’m sorry to bother you but I... wanted to ask you t-the name of one of your team mates.”

“My team mate?” Daichi blinks, and his mind automatically sifts through all the possibilities. “Which one?”

“T-That’s... Uh---”

“The pretty one,” her friend cuts in, smirking, only cut short by the girl stomping solidly down on her foot.

Ow! Ricchan, what the heck!”

The stomping isn’t the only thing that makes Daichi stare at her.

“The pretty one?” He echos, and his mental catalog of his team-mates screech to a halt.

Miyamura looks decently embarrassed at the entire thing and almost looks like she’s about to bolt, but her friend anchors her down by the arm after recovering from the assault. Miyamura throws her an icy glare, and whoever “the pretty one” is, Daichi is suddenly wondering if he needs to warn them about this girl.

“I-I’m sorry about Kanako, but um, h-he’s a senior too---”

Well that narrows it down.

“--- In your class, I think? Silver-grey hair and um he s-smiles a lot and---”

Oh.

“Sugawara Koushi,” Daichi hears himself say. “I--- I think you’re looking for Sugawara Koushi.”

--

Pretty.

The word echoes in his mind for the rest of the week, at the strangest and most inopportune moments. Suga is one of his best friends, a fantastic co-captain and setter, and Daichi saw him every day for hours on end --- and now suddenly the word pretty was tacked to him, and Daichi really couldn’t wrap his mind around it.

Pretty? Daichi thinks, as he takes a quick water break as they rest of the team continues a practice match. He supposes he could kind of see where the girls were coming from. Suga’s hair is --- Nice? He supposes? Soft-looking and curling (what he assumes to be) attractively at the tips. He’s staring at the curve of Suga’s jaw when Suga turns around and catches his gaze.

“Ready to stop slacking off, captain?” Suga calls, eyebrows raised, voice teasing.

“Is the captain not allowed to take a water break?” Daichi sighs, hoping it masks his guilt at getting caught, punching Suga lightly in the arm for good measure.

Clearly, he deserves the far harder chop to the side he gets in return.

--

He thinks about the other words he’d use to describe Suga instead.

Strong, definitely, Daichi thinks, and it’s with more than a wince. Suga’s chops and punches aren’t his only shows of strength. After more than two years in the same sports club together, Daichi’s seen Suga lift far more than Daichi would expect of anyone his build. Skilled too, the way that strength honed itself into incredible plays on the court, making Suga a reliable setter with amazing game sense.

But I guess the girls wouldn’t notice those things, he thinks.

Pretty, huh, he considers, turning the word over in his head. He never really associated ‘pretty’ with other guys before, and the easy, casual way Miyamura’s friend had used the word was stuck in his head. ‘Pretty’ felt like the way the girls blushed when they were embarrassed, lips curling up shyly. Daichi thinks about the way short-haired girls push their hair back behind an ear, biting their lips as they wrote neat notes onto paper. ‘Pretty’ feels right for that, that kind of sweet, girlish attractiveness which had sent Daichi’s stomach into butterflies at one time or another.

Suga definitely didn’t feel like that.

Suga smiled too, lots and lots. Daichi felt his smiles completely differently --- he liked how splitting they were, how the emotion of them reached up all the way into his eyes, sometimes nearly closed for how wide Suga grinned. He felt Suga’s smiles like a warm tug, right as the whistle blew before a match, setting him into place as the team’s captain.

Suga’s hair wasn’t nearly long enough to tuck behind an ear, although it was definitely longer than it had been in year one. It curled neatly down his temples, naturally falling into place --- and suddenly Daichi was thinking about Suga’s jaw again, a softer curve than his own but still prominently masculine. He’d noticed the palest grey stubble on it one day, before morning practice and Suga had caught him looking (again, how long has this even been going on for?). Woke up late, forgot to shave, he’d grinned sheepishly, one hand coming up to rub at his jaw.

And then Daichi’s thoughts were suddenly tumbling back in the direction of Suga’s build --- slimmer than his own, but there was strength in toned muscle. The skinny kid Daichi had first met in year one was long gone. Daichi glanced down the column of seats to Suga’s, right at the front. The approaching summer meant their summer uniforms --- which did nothing to hide how much healthier Suga looked now, his arms toned and fit, with the lightest smattering of grey hair and---

“Shit.”

Daichi drops his pen, and the whole class turns towards him, their teacher raising an eyebrow.

“Anything to share with the class Sawamura?”

“N-No, sorry,” Daichi stutters, picking up the pen and bending back over his literature textbook, heart still pounding a mile a minute. He can feel Suga’s gaze on him too, before he turns back to face the front along with everyone else and --- that really doesn’t help anything at all.

Shit.

--

Suddenly, he can’t stop staring.

Before, Suga was a reassuring, constant presence --- then after the pen(ny) dropped, Suga was suddenly everywhere and all at once and Daichi can’t stop noticing him. It’s ridiculous, he thinks, the way his eyes automatically catch on the soft curve of Suga’s lips when they’re talking about the most mundane things. He nearly walks into the pole of the net, in the gymnasium one day. Suga was stretching his arms above his head, his t-shirt riding up just enough to expose the slimmest strip of skin and---

And suddenly Daichi was being yanked back by his t-shirt. The look Ennoshita gave him felt like punishment enough, honestly. How obvious am I being oh my god, can this get any worse.

Then one day, Suga says “lets go for ice cream after class,” and Daichi decides that tempting fate was probably a really bad idea.

It’d be fine if all he was thinking of was just how physically attractive Suga was --- he suspects he might be able to get over that, somehow, no matter how earth-shattering this kind-of-sexual-awakening is. But it feels bigger than that, more like floodgates opening than anything else. It’s more than the way Suga looks, it’s the thousand other things Daichi had always taken for granted about his friend, all coming together with the fact that Suga was really goddamn handsome and good looking --- suddenly cumulating in the hugest crush on his best friend ever.

“Daichi?” Suga prompts, and Daichi realizes he must have been staring at Suga’s hands, carefully peeling the wrapper off the ice cream, shit, how embarrassing.

“Yeah?” Daichi coughs, looking determinedly away, praying for all that he was worth that Suga hadn’t noticed.

“I’ve noticed you staring,” Suga comments lightly, like they were talking about the weather or ice cream flavors, instead of something which made Daichi feel like the earth was shifting beneath him.

Oh my god, Daichi’s brain short-circuits, his mouth gaping open between I’m so sorry and I haven’t been staring.

Suga gives him the awkward grace-period of a second to reply, before plowing on.

“At me, I mean,” Suga adds, as if there was any clarification needed, and Daichi turns to stare at him because he needs to make sure Suga isn’t messing with him. Instead of the smirk he’d been half-hoping for, Suga’s face is perfectly serious, if a little nervous.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t staring,” Daichi suddenly blurts.

There’s silence, and he hears the wet plop of his ice cream, melting in front of him. Mercifully, Suga laughs, and leans back against the railing they’d been standing at.

“You’re sorry you weren’t staring at me?” He teases, grinning, and Daichi’s stomach gives an unhelpful flop.

“N-No, I meant--” Daichi stutters, feeling his face heat and ice cream drip. “I-I meant I’m sorry,” he settles, guilt heavy in his chest, as he glances up at Suga, only to see him give his popsicle a broad lick, from base to tip holy shit.

“Mhm,” Suga hums, eyebrows raised. “I feel the apology.”

Daichi feels mildly sick. “Suga---”

“Wait no sorry--- Just… Hang on,” Suga backpedals, holding out a hand in front of him to stop what would have been Daichi’s apology. “I shouldn’t have--- Um.” He winces, taking a bite out of the top of his popsicle, chewing thoughtfully. In front of him, Daichi can feel his chocolate ice cream slowly going to waste. He takes a hasty bite out of the bottom, right where it’s dripping.

“I don’t mind,” Suga blurts out. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have um, teased you I--- I don’t mind,” he repeats, in a rush, his gaze stuck on somewhere between Daichi’s mouth and chin, before darting back up to his eyes, then skittering away. Daichi licks at his lip, where a rivulet of chocolate had been, and suddenly feels something click into place.

Oh.

“You don’t mind,” Daichi parrots, half feeling stupid for it, but the bigger part of him needing to get this right.

“I don’t mind,” Suga confirms, licking his lips nervously before taking another bite of his popsicle.

“Since when…?” Daichi asks, trailing off into words he doesn’t know how to phrase.

“A while,” Suga shrugs, like it’s nothing, and that makes Daichi’s stomach flip again, with something else he can’t quite place.

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

Suga looks at him weirdly, out of the corner of his eye. “It just… It wasn’t important,” he shrugs. “I mean, I tried not to, and you didn’t really notice I guess. It… Never felt like you um. You were that way too.”

“Apparently I am though,” Daichi snipes back, and he loves the way it makes Suga grin.

“Apparently you are,” Suga concedes, nodding to himself. “Lucky for me, I guess. I just… Never thought you’d--- towards me---”

“But you’re really handsome,” Daichi blurts out again, and he really wishes he had a better brain-to-mouth filter, his face feels constantly on fire from the honesty of his compliment.

“T-Thanks,” Suga laughs, voice catching on a stutter, and it’s more endearing than Daichi would have expected. He laughs again, out of nervousness maybe, and finishes the last of his popsicle.

“Listen,” Suga says, toying with the stick that’s left. “This--- This doesn’t have to be anything, I mean, Ennoshita was just---” Ennoshita? Daichi thinks, with no small amount of hysteria.

“--- A-Anyway,” Suga drags his hand over his face, rubbing at his eyes. “This is really sudden so, I just--- We could just let this slide---”

“I don’t want to let this slide,” Daichi hears himself interrupt, and feels his resolve solidify with the words.

Suga blinks at him from between his fingers. “You don’t?”

“I don’t,” Daichi affirms, finishing off the last of his ice cream as well. “I don’t just wanna look at you,” are the first words that feel right, but he can already feel himself turning crimson again at how they sound.

Suga laughs again, except that Daichi can hear the relief this time, as Suga nudges him playfully in the side. “So forward already, Daichi? More than just looking?”

“Oh my god shut up,” Daichi deflates, pressing his weight into Suga’s side. “You know what I mean.”

“Hmm, maybe I need a little more explanation---”

Suga.”

“---Or maybe I do,” Suga chuckles, finally taking pity on Daichi. He feels the brush of fingers against the back of his hand, perched on the railing between them. Daichi flips his hand over to squeeze Suga’s hand, warm and a little sweaty, and it makes him grin stupidly at the pavement.

“So am I allowed to ask what caused all of this?”

“... It’s kind of a long story,” Daichi sighs, wondering how much Suga will tease him for it all.

“We have time,” Suga hums, pressing in closer.