Atsumu gets swooped by a magpie early in his childhood. It's all downhill from there.
Back then he is five and he's innocent— the devil doesn't care. Out on the porch, where he's having a Golden Gaytime, this herald of hell looks him straight in the eyes and decides that, yes , this boy deserves to be marked for life.
It flies right at him, flies low and aims true. And Atsumu hasn't known peace ever since, for it's decided that all birds should hate him from that day on.
As traumatic as it is an experience, he gets over it fairly quickly. So what if birds hate him? Heaps of people do too. And what use is it to sulk when he doesn't get a say in the matter, since the birds have decided amongst themselves. As his dad likes to tell him: She'll be alright.
(He keeps reminding himself throughout the key points in his life that he will be alright. He simply has to. Even when he's chased through the bushes by a horde of angry emus, he still hangs on to the thought that he'll make it out alive.)
He's twenty-three years old, having a different kind of Golden Gaytime, when he realises that, in fact, he will not be alright.
"Whaddya mean, ya study birds?", he says in the misty wake of his orgasm— the time spent between sheets, where small talk is a thing apparently.
"I'm doing my PhD in Biology, on magpies. Next best thing to crows," says Hinata, who's lazily tracing shapes on Atsumus thigh. The boy is sweet, his smile could easily outshine the sun. Quite an achievement, considering the bloody thing repeatedly manages to fry Atsumu's skin off his body.
"Oh, great," Atsumu says, because he simply doesn't know what else he could give for an answer.
A mistake, he figures, since the next thing he hears is "Oh, you should definitely come by the lab some day, I'll show you all my birds."
No fucking way , he wants to say in the nicest way possible.
Whatever this is sure was nice, but i'm sorry it’s over , he tries to push past his tongue.
"Yeah. I'd love that," is what he actually ends up saying. Because clearly sex makes you stupid and Atsumu hasn’t started out with heaps of braincells to begin with.
From the bundle of bed sheets Hinata beams at him and Atsumu finds himself suddenly reminded that the Australian sun isn't gentle, it exists solely to burn you alive.
Hinata continues to trace patterns on his skin. Atsumu realises too late that they’re birds.
"Hah, i cannot fuckin’ believe ya let yerself be talked into that . Just how good does he fuck ya, that ya went and said yes?", Osamu laughs through crumbs of a sandwich. They are at their Saturday picnic, spread out on a blanket at the park.
Atsumu doesn't answer. Instead, he shoos at an Ibis that’s making its way towards his lunch. The bloody thing doesn’t care in the slightest of ways, Osamu deems the action answer enough.
"Hah, birds," he huffs like it’s an inside joke. Then he says, "Guess ya deserve it," like he hasn't fought his own bloody war with the possums up his roof since early childhood.
"Well you might find yourself enjoying it," Kita says, because Kita has no fear. Atsumu is sure Kita once looked a cassowary in the eyes, and the cassowary died. He’s scary like that.
To confirm Atsumu's thoughts, Kita shoots a stern glance at the bin chicken making hungry eyes at their dip and the bird walks off in peace. "What I'm saying is, it could be good for ya. Ya could learn something too."
It's the last thing he hears on the matter. Because Kita’s word is justice, they change the subjects after that.
Three days after that, Atsumu drags his body through the gates of purgatory. They are simple— hell looks an awful lot like a research facility. When the metal bars lock behind him, he hears the sound of a million beasts screeching in anticipation. Hell sure might look like a research lab, but it’s hell nonetheless.
"And this is where we keep the finches," Hinata says. His voice sounds way too cheerful. He might be the only one here, who hasn't gotten the memo that this place was evil yet.
"...the finches," Atsumu mirrors Hinata's words, because what else was he supposed to say?
"Yes, they're super cute."
"I see," Atsumu lies. When he looks through the cages, all he sees are tiny devils. Behind the bars, they're prying hungrily at his eyes.
So far he's made it through three of seven circles of this feather coated hell: the cockatoos, the magpies, the doves— now come the finches. This has to stop.
Atsumu can’t go on with this, he’d rather burn in the desert alive. The avian aversion’s too strong, as much as he’d like to try for the sake of his date.
"Hinata, look—," he tries and is cut off immediately.
"I know you don't like birds," Hinata blurts. His cheeks are red, which is nonsensical— the sun doesn’t get sunburn.
"Ya do?", Atsumu’s mind is still processing. This is a surprise.
An orange tinted nod. "It's pretty obvious, mate. You ran from a seagull the first time we met."
Cause the beast was gonna steal my fries, Atsumu has the urge to defend himself, but that’s beyond the point. "Then why the fuck are you taking me here?", he says, still not understanding. There must be something he missed along the lines.
"Cause I like you".
There it is.
"Oh," Atsumu says with exemplary eloquence.
Hinata’s voice goes soft for the next part. Atsumu’s heart might get soft just a little as well.
"Look Tsumu, this is what I do. Everyday. Those birds are my life, quite literally." Hinata laughs the nervous laugh of some who fell for academia and can never tun back. "Sorta had to check how you'd react before we started anything serious."
And there it is: a twofold revelation, although Atsumu only gets the one. While he might simply be their chosen one, Hinata sold his soul to those birds.
"So this is a test?", he asks.
"If you want it to be," Hinata seems somewhat shy of a sudden, like there’s stakes involved now. “I just had to make sure.”
Atsumu considers this for a moment, like a sparrow considers which table to pester next. Carefully. If Hinata brought him here to make sure he’d vibe with his life, that means Hinata wants to date him, wants to have him around for the long run. Which means—
“Did I pass then? If this was a test.”
Hinata’s smile hangs high in the sky, his hands reach towards Atsumu. “Well you certainly tried an awful lot. I say we can work with that.”
That doesn’t sound too bad. It actually sounds quite good. “That means I get a reward?”, Atsumu tries, because Atsumu has to try, right?
Hinata shoots him a wicked flash of teeth, surely dangerous if one was exposed to it for too long. “Try and make it through the finches and I might just give you a blowjob out the back.”
Outside of the cages a magpie swoops low. Atsumu couldn’t be bothered if he tried.