"I'm going to die," said Suna before practice one Monday.
"One less person to stand around insultin' me," Atsumu replied. "Good riddance."
"You're a useless friend," Suna informed him.
Atsumu slammed his locker shut and plopped down next to Suna on the bench. They were alone in the clubroom. No one else had showed up yet, not even Osamu, who'd muttered something about promising Niizawa-sensei some of his newest cooking experiment and disappeared outside the gym.
"What's wrong, Suna."
"Don't go clammin' up on me now," said Atsumu. "Waste of my time."
"It's stupid," Suna said.
"Well, duh." Atsumu rolled his eyes. "Everything that comes outta yer mouth is stupid."
Suna glared. "Believe me, I'd rather not talk to you about this, either."
"Why don't ya try 'Samu?" Atsumu asked, genuinely curious. Usually, Suna would rather die than come to Atsumu before Osamu for anything. And sometimes, he'd rather just die. Besides, the two of them were in the same class, for the third year in a row. 'Samu 'n Suna, Suna 'n 'Samu. It made sense in Atsumu's mind.
To his surprise, Suna just groaned and folded into himself, his face squishing into his knees, mumbling something that sounded like mmcant.
"Why not?" Atsumu asked, inspecting his fingernails absently.
"Ugh," Suna whined. Actually whined. Atsumu thought maybe he should be recording this. "It's…it's about him. Osamu."
And at this—though he'd deny it, if you asked—Atsumu's interest shot up astronomically.
"Oho?" he teased. "Got in a fight? Lovers' quarrel?"
"Don't even joke about that." Suna glared at him, and Atsumu was shocked to see a pink blush painting his (obnoxiously arched) cheekbones.
"Wait—" he spluttered. "Yer not—yer actually dating? Damn, I owe Gin a thousand yen."
Suna buried his face in his knees again. "As much as I'd love to see you a thousand yen poorer," his voice was muffled, "you don't owe Gin anything."
He paused to sigh deeply before mumbling, "…which is kind of the problem."
All at once, everything made sense. A nasty grin spread across Atsumu's face.
"So," he said slowly, relishing the position he was suddenly in. Here was Suna, fuckin' Suna King-of-Blackmail Rintarou, giving Atsumu enough material to hold over his head for months. Until graduation, probably. Atsumu had never felt so powerful. "Yer saying ya want to date 'Samu."
"Ugh, don't put it like that," Suna complained.
"Oh?" Atsumu tilted over to Suna's level, poking his cheek until Suna turned and scowled at him. "How should I put it, then? Ya like him? Caught yerself some warm fuzzies? Head over heels in sappy, disgusting love with my stomach-for-brains of a twin brother?"
He enjoyed the way Suna's face got pinker and pinker. It looked nice on him, probably, not that Atsumu cared. Probably Osamu would. But that was none of his business.
(Not that it had stopped Osamu for the last two-and-a-bit years. If anything, it'd been getting worse lately—'Tsumu, he stole one of my dumplings during lunch, isn't that cute. 'Tsumu, his blocks are so good it's makin' me drool. 'Tsumu, he smiled at me this morning and I swear to god those dumb romcoms mom watches ain't making shit up about forgettin' how to breathe. If Atsumu heard one more sentence that started with 'Tsumu and turned into Suna, he'd knock his brother's head clean off. With a spike serve.)
Truthfully, he should be relieved that Suna felt the same way. No more whining Osamu. Problem solved.
But…this was Suna. And Osamu. Who hid his pencils around the school courtyard in their first year and then conveniently "forgot" where. Atsumu still got confessions from kids who claimed to have found one of his long-lost 2Bs. Like he'd want them back or something. Atsumu's desire to be free of Osamu's noisy pining was drowned by a vicious need to get revenge, to have something to lord over his brother and his friend until the end of time.
…Okay, maybe not that long. And maybe not that vicious. He just wanted to mess with them a little. Not like they didn't deserve it.
So, while Suna glared at him with something like expectancy in his gaze, Atsumu began nodding slowly.
"I see," he said, channeling his very best auntie-giving-unwarranted-advice energy. "You wanna tell him, but you don't wanna embarrass yourself."
Suna's eyes narrowed even more than usual. Scary, Atsumu thought.
"That's shockingly astute for someone who got a seventeen on his contemporary lit test."
"I don't wanna hear that from you!" Atsumu protested. "You slept through your math exam last Friday! I know that 'cause…nevermind why I know that. It's not the point! Do you want my genius advice or not?"
"Why'd you even ask me, then!"
"Fine. Just tell me."
"Oh, my apologies, Miya-sama. Would you deign to bestow your vast wisdom upon this humble—mmf! Get off!"
After a few minutes of friendly (!!) pushing and shoving and the sudden realization that the rest of the team would be invading the clubroom anytime now, Atsumu gave in—er, took pity on Suna.
"Here's what I'm sayin'," he began. "Ya become his secret admirer."
"What the hell, Atsumu. This is real life."
"Hey, lemme explain! Ya don't gotta write letters or buy flowers or any of that sappy straight shit. Just give him stuff without him knowing it's from you! And then when he's all oh who could these awesome gifts possibly be coming from, you act casual like oh, that was me, and boom, you win him over!"
"What kind of gifts—" Suna started, and then said, at the same time as Atsumu, "Food."
"Now you get it," Atsumu grinned. "Snacks, sweets, weird crap from that bakery he likes…"
"And how do you know he'll even think twice about where it's from?" Suna asked, frowning slightly. "He might just assume it's another random confession. He's very popular."
"I know! Shut up!" Atsumu grimaced. "Not like I gotta look at his damn pile every Valentine's Day! You just gotta find a way to make it special."
"Again…" Suna mused, "sometimes I forget you're actually pretty smart, Atsumu."
"Wait a damn minute!"
Osamu was pretty sure some deity was out to curse him. Or, actually, they'd probably mistaken him for Atsumu. He was the one who actually deserved to be cursed, and vengeful gods probably didn't pay much attention to hair color…
Anyway, it started with the onigiri. Niizawa-sensei was very supportive of his aspirations to chefdom, but even she had to admit that it wasn't his best experiment ever. The watermelon is...interesting, she'd half-choked, after coughing the whole disaster up over the wastebin, but maybe a little too...innovative?
(The watermelon had been Atsumu's idea. Osamu didn't know why he ever listened to that bastard.)
And of course, when he'd arrived at practice thirty seconds—thirty seconds!—late, the very same bastard had gone all smug and given him extra laps. Whoever made him captain was even more of a sadist than Atsumu himself. Jesus Christ, give him an inch and he'll take a mile. It didn't help that Suna stayed after because it'll give me an excuse to be late to class but really just to take awful photos of Osamu collapsed on the ground after running his goddamn lungs out and then do his stupid (cute) tiny half-laugh until Osamu looked up, ready to chew him out, but—
he had that smirk on his dumb fucking annoying (hot) face and Osamu begged whatever malevolent spirit was after him to just kill him now, or maybe get the right twin next time.
And now, on Tuesday of what Osamu had already decided was probably the worst week of his third year (which had only started two months ago!), at the unassuming hour of eight-forty-two a.m., he had to deal with this.
This being probably the most cryptic confession he'd ever received. Including that time in first year when Fumi-chan from class 4 sent Sayaka and Satou-san from class 3 to ask Yuuta-kun from class 2 if he could ask Rei-chan (who was a second year) to deliver a letter to Aran-san and tell him to give it to Gin to give to Osamu—yeah, you get it. What a mess. Poor Gin had been tongue-tied.
But this—Osamu almost wanted to turn ten years old and throw a tantrum. He'd opened his locker to change into his slippers and lo and behold, there it was: a small polka-dotted box.
He'd opened it, because he recognized that pattern from his favorite bakery, the newfangled French-style one that had opened up in town recently.
Inside were three gorgeous canelés and absolutely no explanation whatsoever.
"Pff," Atsumu snorted. "Ya look uglier than usual with yer eye twitchin' like that."
"Who the hell gives someone something like this anonymously?" Osamu moaned. "I mean, this is art! I'd like to at least say thanks!"
Atsumu shrugged. "Like I give a shit. If yer not gonna eat 'em…"
Osamu stuffed all three of the pastries in his mouth at the same time.
It only went downhill from there. Just a week later, Osamu walked into his classroom to see another polka-dotted box minding its own business on top of his desk like it didn't have a care in the world.
He approached tentatively, reached out with two fingers to lift the lid, barely touching it, looking inside—
Financiers. With raspberries. And no note.
Osamu turned around and walked out the door.
Unfortunately, he chose the exact moment that Suna walked in, half asleep as usual, and Osamu tripped over his own feet trying to avoid a collision.
Before he knew it, Suna's hands were on his shoulders and his gorgeous unimpressed face was inches away from Osamu's.
"Careful," he murmured—okay, maybe he was just using his regular voice and Osamu's smitten ears decided to exaggerate—and Osamu felt his soul leave his body.
And then Suna let go and slouched to his own desk and promptly settled in for his morning nap—er, first period class.
Osamu returned to his seat silently.
Suna turned his head. Glanced at Osamu. Looked at the box. Back at Osamu.
Osamu let out a huff. "Don't ask me. Dumbass didn't leave a note."
"What language even is that."
"Excuse me for not bothering to take all of this school's extensive French course offerings."
Osamu scuffed the toe of his slipper on one leg of his desk. "I wish they'd just tell me their name," he complained. "It ain't right not to thank someone for food this beautiful."
"They must really like you."
"Dunno about that. Probably just got rich parents."
That got a laugh out of him. Score, Osamu thought.
"What do they taste like?"
Suna let his mouth drop open. Osamu pushed one of the tiny cakes inside, careful not to let his fingers brush Suna's teeth. That would be dangerous. For his fingers and his heart rate.
Suna closed his eyes while he chewed. Osamu almost thought he'd actually gone to sleep.
"It's good," he said, and licked his lips.
"Yeah," Osamu breathed miserably.
For some reason, Okamoto in the seat behind him groaned and dropped his head in his hands.
"I give up," he sounded like he said, and several of their classmates nodded sympathetically.
Osamu didn't know what the hell was the matter with them. Was there gonna be a pop quiz today? He hoped not. He hadn't studied.
"Don't say so… like that, Atsumu. It makes you sound even more like a sleaze."
"Hey! I was only gonna ask how it's goin'! Geez, this is what I get for caring about my friends…"
"How what's going."
"Y'know. Yer whole secret admirer schtick."
"It was an awful idea. I'm never listening to you again."
"Rude! How do you know it was awful, anyway?"
"Because it completely backfired! He likes the food, but he doesn't know who it's from, and now he's just annoyed!"
"I wouldn't be so sure about that."
"Quit acting smug and explain yourself. Now."
"Okay, okay! Geez, don't hafta glare me half to death…look, he acts annoyed, but at home, he's all I wonder who it could be, stars in his eyes, stupid lovesick shit. Bet he hopes—nevermind. The point is, it's clearly working, I'm a genius, and you should probably worship me forever."
"I'd literally rather choke."
"Shut up, he's coming…"
Ginjima Hitoshi was normally a pretty nice guy. Sure, he could be a bit hotheaded, and he did stupid shit sometimes, but for the most part, he was considerate, responsible, and, best of all, minded his own damn business.
Or so Osamu used to think. As of today, he was considering revoking Gin's nice guy status.
It had been a few weeks now, so Osamu's secret admirer problem wasn't exactly…well, a secret. It felt like the whole school knew about the treats that kept appearing every so often, always in pretty packages, never with any indication of who was giving them. They weren't always from the French bakery—once, Osamu had unwrapped a bundle of gold tissue paper to find a bag of potato chips.
Suna had laughed for almost five minutes. Osamu had been so dazzled by the sight that he'd forgotten all about the chips.
But today, when Osamu was putting his bag away in the clubroom, he found a lot more than some fancy-dressed potato chips, and Gin, who happened to be peering over his shoulder, would not let him hear the end of it. He teased him out of the clubroom and into the school building and up the stairs and down the second-floor corridor to the water fountain, where they ran into Suna and Atsumu.
Who, being Atsumu, of course, just had to ask what had Gin laughing so much.
"His—" Gin stopped to snort— "secret admirer's back at it again, hahaha, oh my god, Osamu, show 'em what ya got today—I can't—"
While Gin dissolved into obnoxious giggles and Osamu began plotting his death, Atsumu snatched the bag right out of his brother's hands.
"Give it back!" Osamu snapped, but it was too late. Atsumu rummaged through the tissue paper (light pink today) and his eyes lit up with horrible glee.
"What do we have here…" he said, and then, whipping each item out dramatically, "First! A cupcake in a plastic container! Aww, that's gross, it's got a heart on top. Second! Holy shit, are these hair clips?"
They were. The cute kind, too, with little smiling daisies on them, and Osamu actually liked them quite a lot, and besides, he'd just been complaining at practice the other day about how his bangs got in his eyes when he spiked, but he wasn't about to admit that in front of Atsumu.
Who had the last of the bag's contents in one hand, clearly in his element. "Last! What you've been waitin' for all this time, 'Samu! A real, live, genuine issue love letter!"
It wasn't much of a love letter. Osamu had already read it. The author had even gone so far as to use that cut-and-paste technique that criminals in TV shows used when they didn't want their handwriting to be identified.
"I'll read it out loud," Atsumu said, because by this point, a crowd of curious students had gathered, and it wasn't like Osamu needed to be any more embarrassed than he already was. Gin was wheezing. Even Suna looked mildly amused.
Atsumu cleared his throat.
"To Miya Osamu: I hope you like these. If you wear them to Kita-san's birthday party on Saturday, I'll know you don't mind my affections—jesus, what century is this loser from?—but if you don't, I'll leave you alone."
He frowned. "That's disappointin'."
The crowd clearly agreed. Most of them had already gone away to their classes.
"Embarrassing," Suna snickered. Osamu just about cried at the sound.
"Think about it, though!" Gin gasped, finally starting to get ahold of himself, thank god. "Ya know what this means—the secret admirer is in the volleyball club!"
"Not necessarily," Osamu snapped. "I already said, plenty of other kids know about Kita-san's party. He had fans outside the club, ya know."
"But who did he actually invite?"
"Well, technically, Aran-san did most of the inviting," Atsumu pointed out. "I'm pretty sure Kita-san would rather spend the day at his rice internship or whatever the hell he's doin' nowadays."
"That ain't the point!" Gin protested. "The only ones who are goin' to the party are volleyball club members! So if this sap—no offense, Osamu—is gonna be there, it's gotta be someone on the team!"
"Look, can I just have my shit back?" Osamu sighed. "I wanna eat that cupcake."
"Hell no!" Atsumu held the cupcake out of reach, shoving the hair clips at Osamu instead. "You gotta decide if yer gonna wear 'em or not, obviously!"
Osamu rolled his eyes. "I really don't think it matters."
"It could be a first-year," Suna said quietly. Osamu froze.
"Oh, no," he groaned.
"Oh, yeah!" Atsumu exclaimed, rubbing his hands together like some kind of cheap-ass villain. "Imagine how brokenhearted the poor little twerp's gonna be if ya show up without the hair clips…damn, 'Samu, I knew you were heartless, but this is next-level…"
"Shut up! I never said I wouldn't wear 'em!"
"I think you should," Suna said. God damn it, he needed to stop using that thoughtful voice. It was too damn cute. Osamu couldn't take it.
"Fine," he muttered. "I will. Don't wanna break a first-year's heart, anyway. I ain't cruel. Unlike the rest of you fuckers."
"On the bright side," Atsumu said, unfazed, "now we get to find out who it is. I can't wait to tease the livin' shit outta them."
"I'm disowning you."
"Ya can't do that!"
"Yes I can."
"Yes he can."
"He definitely can."
"Shut up, Gin! No one asked you!"
The birthday party was held at the retro arcade in town the following Saturday. Most of the current volleyball club showed up, even the first-years, who hadn't known Kita. The other graduated members were there too—those who were still in the area, anyway. When he saw his old upperclassmen, Osamu very nearly chickened out of the hair clips.
"They probably look stupid," he hissed to Suna, who had walked over with him, carrying a small, neatly-wrapped present for Kita.
"They don't," Suna said.
"I know! Wait, what?"
"They look nice," Suna said.
Osamu wanted to slam his head into the brick wall of the building. The blood would probably clash with the neon-green paint, though.
"Thanks for comin'!" Aran said, because apparently he was greeting the guests instead of Kita, who was nowhere to be seen. "Cute hair clips, Osamu."
"Thanks," Osamu mumbled, and made a beeline for Space Invaders. If no one else noticed him, maybe he'd be safe—
"Osamu," said Kita. "Good to see ya."
"Holy fuck," Osamu gasped. "Please don't sneak up on people like that, Kita-san!"
Kita laughed apologetically. "Ah, sorry! I'm hidin' from Aran. I told him it'd be nice to spend the day at the farm, instead…but this was sweet of him."
He sighed, elbow propped on the arcade machine, chin resting in his hand.
Osamu followed his gaze across the growing crowd of noisy, overexcited high school boys. Unsurprisingly, it landed on Aran, who was still chatting with Suna, if you could call it chatting. More likely they were bonding over a mutual desire to murder Atsumu, who was already yelling at some poor first-year about how he was going to beat his ass at Dance Dance Revolution.
"Dunno if I'd call it sweet, invitin' my monster of a twin brother," Osamu said, disgusted.
Kita just sighed again.
"Damn, got it bad, huh," Osamu teased.
Kita glanced at him. "Me? I sure hope so. Makes sense to be in love with yer boyfriend, doesn't it?"
"Ugh," said Osamu. "I forgot yer not a coward like me."
And…oops. There it was. The famous now I'm worried about you face that Kita swore he didn't have. Osamu briefly regretted every decision he'd ever made.
"What's that s'posed to mean?" Kita asked, squinting at Osamu.
Osamu shrugged. "Dunno."
"Is it about Suna."
"Ya could've at least pretended that was a question!"
"I knew it. Just confess already! He'll be nice about it either way."
"Nice? What Suna are you talkin' about??"
"The one who gave you his spare shoelaces when you somehow broke yours fighting with Atsumu?"
"That was 'Tsumu's fault." Osamu felt like a petulant child. "And anyway, I'm pretty sure coach made Suna, anyway. He was the only one with spare laces."
"He wasn't," Kita said. "I had some, too."
Kita hummed. "Well, there was also the time when you weren't feeling well during training camp, and he volunteered to receive Atsumu's serves for you…"
"What's that have to do with anythin'? He probably wanted the extra practice."
Kita shook his head. "He knew ya didn't want to be embarrassed. You were too sick to pull off receives like that."
Osamu grimaced at the memory. "I had a fever for three days."
"I remember," Kita smiled. "I brought ya snacks!"
Osamu let his head fall forward on the Space Invaders machine. "Yer too nice, Kita-san…"
"The point is," Kita continued, ignoring him, "ya got someone out there who clearly cares about ya. Now, I can't say whether he likes ya back or not—"
"Who says I like him!"
Kita just looked at him. "Osamu. Really."
"Fine!" Osamu hid his face again. "Geez. You win."
"It's not about winning or losing," Kita said with all the patience of someone who spent two years keeping a godawful pair of twin brats in line. "It's about bein' honest. If yer honest with Suna, he'll understand."
"Ugh," Osamu whined. "Love is dumb. And scary."
Kita hummed again. "Can't disagree," he said. "It is scary. But it can make ya real happy, y'know?"
Osamu had a feeling that if he looked up, Kita's eyes wouldn't be on him anymore.
Eventually, Aran discovered Kita's "hiding place" and cheerfully dragged him away toward the back door, calling out to everyone that it was time for cake.
There was a patio behind the arcade with a few picnic tables that had been painted garish colors once upon a time in the '90s but now were kind of sad and chipping. Osamu plopped down beside Suna and dug in to his cake.
"This is probably subpar for you, huh," Suna teased.
"Whaddya mean," Osamu said, mouth full of chocolate frosting.
"Well, you must be used to all those fancy French sweets by now, right?" Suna said.
Osamu flung frosting at him. It missed, but that was okay, because Suna had a lazy grin on his face, and the July sun was hot, and everything felt sticky and sweet. Osamu thought that maybe this party wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Until Atsumu opened his big mouth.
"Hey, lissenup, everyone!" he yelled, standing on top of a table.
"Please get down, Atsumu," Kita said. Beside him, Aran slapped his own forehead with his palm.
"Just a minute, Kita-san," Atsumu said cheerfully. "Now, everyone here knows 'bout 'Samu's secret admirer, don't ya!"
"No," said Akagi. Kita gave him the death smile. Akagi shut his mouth.
"Anyway," said Atsumu, "we know yer in the volleyball club, because Gin said so an' he's smart. 'Samu, ya got anythin' to say?"
Osamu took another bite of cake.
"Maybe you should say something," Suna suggested, nudging Osamu with his elbow in a gesture that had no business making Osamu's chest tie itself in knots the way it did.
"He wore the hair clips!" Atsumu announced pointlessly. "Just like ya said in yer letter! So…"
"Fine, geez, shut yer trap, 'Tsumu!" Osamu spoke up. "Yeah, I'm wearin' the hair clips. They're cute. I appreciate them. And all the other things you've been leavin'. And I'd like to say thanks, so please don't be shy."
There was a chorus of barely-suppressed awws. Osamu hoped they all had to run extra laps on Monday.
"Alright, that's enough," Aran scolded. "Get down, Atsumu. Quit embarrassin' yer brother."
"Not until the secret admirer reveals themself!" Atsumu argued. "C'mon, quit draggin' things out! Is it you?"
He grinned into a nearby first-year's face. The boy just stared back, trembling.
"Please don't scare the underclassmen at my birthday party," Kita sighed.
"Fine! Maybe it's…Kosaku-kun? Yer always watchin' 'Samu spike, aren't ya?"
Kosaku blanched. "N-not me," he shook his head violently. "I just admire Osamu-san's skill."
"Well then," Atsumu said. "That only leaves one option."
Osamu sighed. Maybe if he faceplanted into his cake, Atsumu would laugh too hard to keep talking.
"Suna!" Atsumu decided.
"What," Suna said.
"What?!" Osamu yelled.
"Can ya imagine Suna sneakin' stuff into yer locker? Makin' it look all pretty?" Atsumu laughed, but Osamu wasn't sure if he was joking anymore. "Whaddya think, Suna?"
Suna shrugged. "Sure, it was me."
And that was the last straw. Osamu stood up, walked over to Atsumu, and smashed the rest of his cake into his brother's hair.
"Yer a nasty piece of work," he hissed. "That ain't funny. Quit wastin' everyone's time with this secret admirer business. I don't know why yer so obsessed with it, anyway."
He turned around and glared at Suna.
"And you oughtta know better than to encourage him," he said. "Yer both embarrassing, and I'm going home. Happy birthday, Kita-san. I hope someone zips this bastard's mouth shut so everyone can enjoy the rest of the party."
He held his head high when he stalked through the arcade and out the front door, but there was a hot pressure behind his eyes and an awful, tight feeling in his chest, and as soon as he was halfway down the block, he started running, ripping out the hair clips and throwing them as hard as he could, as if he could fling the memory of Suna's horrified face away with them.
Osamu didn't answer.
"C'mon, 'Samu, I said I was sorry, alright? So quit eatin' angry onigiri. Yer gonna make yerself sick."
"You make me sick."
"Wow. I'm feelin' so burned right now. Think I might need some ice."
It was blessedly quiet in the Miya kitchen for about three seconds.
"Look, everyone knows I was just runnin' my mouth, and Suna wasn't tryin' to mess with ya, so don't be mad, 'Samu. C'mon, please?"
"It ain't funny to run yer mouth about my business."
"They don't think I was serious! No one knows about yer stupid crush on Suna! 'Specially not Suna! Yer cowardly ass has nothin' to worry about!"
"Don't wanna hear that from you," Osamu mumbled.
"C'mon, 'Samu," Atsumu whined. "I apologized to Kita-san, too, if that makes ya feel better."
Osamu huffed. "What'd he say?"
"No problem!" Atsumu imitated Kita's scary smile. It just looked stupid on his dumb face, which made Osamu feel a little better.
"There ya go," Atsumu grinned. "Don't ya think you were a little dramatic?"
Osamu scowled. "Ya don't know what it's like."
Atsumu shrugged. "I guess not. Ya done throwin' a fit?"
"Suna's never gonna speak to me again."
"That's bullshit. And you know it."
Osamu stuffed his face with another onigiri. Sad instead of angry, this time.
"He was real cute today, too," he mumbled. "All smilin' and teasin' me…he even ate more than three bites of cake. With frosting."
"What happened at the rest of the party," Osamu sighed, giving in.
"Not much," said Atsumu. "Aran-san and Kita-san made me want to rip my own eyes out, lookin' at each other like they're already married or somethin'. Suna left early."
"No surprise there," Osamu grinned despite himself, rubbing his sleeve across his nose.
"Oh," Atsumu added lazily, like he'd just remembered it, "and I think I might've run into yer real secret admirer."
Osamu nearly choked on his sad-onigiri (surprised onigiri, now, maybe). "Yer still on about that?"
Atsumu shrugged. "It was really him this time."
"Who was it, then?" Osamu demanded.
He shrugged again. "Didn't get a name. I learned my lesson today! It ain't my business who's making heart eyes at my annoying little brother."
Osamu gritted his teeth. Atsumu could be so goddamn infuriating. "Can ya at least tell me what he looked like? Surely yer good-for-nothing brain could fit that much inside it."
Atsumu lifted a finger to the corner of his mouth in completely fake prolonged thought.
"Well," he began, "he was tall—probably about Suna's height, dark hair, real pretty eyes…"
Osamu collapsed against the counter.
"Ughhhh," he groaned. "If only Suna really was the mystery guy."
"Aaaand that's my cue to watch my Interhigh reruns," Atsumu said, sounding way too cheerful for half past hopeless-pining o'clock, Osamu thought. He told Atsumu as much, and Atsumu made retching sounds.
"Disgusting," he snarked. "Leave me outta yer sad, lonely love life."
"You were damn invested back at the arcade!" Osamu argued.
"Lissenup, blockhead," Atsumu said. "If ya want to know how Suna feels, talk to him, not me. I'm sick of hearin' about it, and I'm goin' upstairs now. Wanna make sure my jump serves look better than Tobio-kun's."
"Yer a self-absorbed shit, ya know that, 'Tsumu!" Osamu yelled after him. Atsumu covered his ears and sang nonsense syllables. Osamu considered chasing him and giving him the pinch on the ears he so dearly deserved, but after a moment, he collapsed onto the counter again, too tired to care.
If ya want to know how Suna feels, talk to him.
Atsumu, irritating as he was, was right. Atsumu. Was right.
waste of space [3:06 a.m.]: btw i forgot
waste of space [3:06 a.m.]: s. a. ← that's secret admirer aren't i a genius
waste of space [3:06 a.m.]: n e way he said if u wanted to meet he'd be at the skate park tmrw morning
waste of space [3:07 a.m.]: u kno the old one down by the river no one cool actually goes to anymore
you [7:12 a.m.]: why the fuck didn't you say that last night
you [7:12 a.m.]: what time?
you [7:14 a.m.]: what time, tsumu?????
you [7:33 a.m.]: i hope u miss all ur serves this week, useless bastard
Osamu was almost ninety-seven percent sure Atsumu was just pranking him. He really was way too into this secret admirer business. It was like they were in some kind of drama. Grow up, 'Tsumu, jesus fuck.
He'd been awake early, anyway, because his brain decided it would be fun to give him a nightmare in which he was trying to share a chocolate éclair with Suna, only to find that Suna had a Space Invaders alien where his mouth should have been, and he just stared blankly at Osamu like he didn't know who he was.
Yeah, Osamu didn't feel like sleeping after that. And besides, the sun was up. So he got dressed and rummaged in his dresser drawer for his hair clips before remembering that he'd tossed them.
He sort of wished he hadn't, now. They were cute.
The town was quiet so early on a Sunday. Even the old aunties and uncles weren't out in their gardens just yet. A stray cat bolted when Osamu passed a narrow alley. Morning sunlight bounced off a piece of broken glass in someone's garbage bin.
Osamu shoved his hands in his pockets and breathed, in and out, the air getting more and more humid as he approached the edge of town.
The old skate park was empty, as usual. Graffiti adorned the cracked cement ramps, and a single sparrow hopped to and fro on one of the rusting rails. Osamu trudged to the steps on the far side of the park, the ones that led down to the river, and sat on the top one, staring at the pink-gold light shimmering on the water's surface.
"You're up early," said a very familiar voice.
"I don't wanna hear that from you," he replied, but not harshly. "You don't usually wake up before two in the afternoon when we don't have practice."
Suna sat down next to Osamu. "I don't usually wake up at all."
Osamu laughed. Just a little. He couldn't help himself. The warm zappy feeling spreading from the point where their shoulders brushed didn't help.
"Hey!" he protested. "I'm s'posed to be mad at you."
"What for? Just blame it on Atsumu."
They were quiet, for a while. The river flowed so slowly here that even its ripples made almost no sound.
"'Tsumu and I used to come here when we were kids," Osamu said. "We'd race to climb to the top of the ramps. He got it in his head that whoever got to the top first was the king of the park and got to order all the other kids around."
He almost smiled at the memory. Quit that. "He took it too far, once," he continued. "Threw a fit, this other little boy got hurt, and none of us were allowed to play here anymore."
"Why are you telling me this?" Suna wondered, another of his little laughs escaping him.
Osamu shrugged. "Seemed relevant. Bein' dramatic just makes things miserable for everyone."
Suna poked his shoulder.
"What I'm tryin' to say is…sorry for blowin' up yesterday," Osamu sighed, pulling his knees up to his chest and turning to look Suna in the eyes.
Big mistake. Suna's expression was alarmingly unguarded, and there was something there that Osamu didn't want to name.
"I'm sorry, too," Suna said, finally. "For letting things get out of hand."
"What d'ya mean?" Osamu frowned. "It's not your fault."
"Actually," Suna mumbled, and now he looked embarrassed, what was with that? "it mostly is."
Osamu just stared blankly.
Suna breathed in through his nose, frustrated, and then took something out of his shorts pocket and held it out to Osamu.
"What's this—oh," Osamu said.
It was the hair clips that he'd hurled down the sidewalk the day before. The daisies smiled up at him, as if to say, we forgive you!
"Well, gee, I'm glad someone found them," Osamu grinned, clipping his bangs out of his face, because it was getting warmer, and sticky hair was really annoying, "but what's yer point?"
"Do I really have to say it," Suna complained.
"It was me, okay?" Suna huffed, and looked away. "Atsumu was right. It was me."
The river kept flowing, so slowly it might as well have been syrup. Behind them, a sparrow chirped.
"So…" Osamu started.
"All the sweets? And snacks? Those potato chips? And the hair clips you're wearing right now?" Suna still wasn't looking at him. "I was too scared. To confess. And Atsumu said—"
"You listened to 'Tsumu?" Osamu interrupted.
"When you put it like that," he replied, "I do see the problem. Yeah."
Osamu couldn't help it. He burst out laughing, the sound swallowed up by the slow, syrupy river.
And finally, Suna turned to look at him. He was blushing, just a little.
"It's not funny," he almost-pouted. "I didn't have any better options."
"Literally anyone would be a better option."
"You're deflecting right now, is what you're doing."
"Deflecting? Who, me?"
"I went to all that trouble, and you won't even give me a straight answer…"
Osamu reached up and rested his fingers, very lightly, on Suna's jaw. They were already sitting so close, and when Suna let out a tiny breath, it tickled the tip of Osamu's nose.
"An answer, huh?" Osamu said. Suna was completely still, eyes wider than Osamu had ever seen them. It was bewitching.
Lightning-quick, he slipped his hand around to the back of Suna's head and messed up his hair, laughing at Suna's look of betrayal.
"You're horrible," Suna said, shoving Osamu's shoulder with his own when he didn't stop laughing.
Osamu shoved back, a little too hard, and they ended up in a decidedly unromantic heap of angled limbs at the bottom of the steps, the left side of Osamu's shirt soaked from dragging in the water.
But when Suna started laughing, really out-loud laughing, none of those tiny half-laughs this time, Osamu decided he didn't mind.
"Hey," he said, several minutes later, when they were both out of breath from giggling so much. "Maybe we should get up before auntie Yamanaka decides she's seen the ghost of that drowned kid again."
They helped each other to their feet, made it to the top of the steps and halfway across the blazing heat of the sun-drenched skate park before collapsing again.
"Secret admirer," Osamu wheezed. "What the hell was 'Tsumu thinkin'?"
"It worked in the end, didn't it?" Suna gasped out between laughs. "Maybe he is a genius, after all."
"Please never say that to his face," Osamu begged him. "He'd never have a normal-sized head again."
"Like he had one to begin with."
At the edge of the park, Osamu thought, fuck it, and reached for Suna's hand. When Suna's fingers slipped into the gaps between his own, he felt like the sunny, syrupy river was seeping through him, from somewhere in his chest all the way down to his toes.
It can make ya real happy, y'know?
He thought maybe he was beginning to understand what Kita meant.
"Genius," Atsumu muttered to himself. "Damn right I'm a genius. They better be grateful, those sappy bastards—ouch!"
In hindsight, maybe hiding in the shrubbery wasn't the greatest idea. And they hadn't even kissed! It was disappointing, was what it was, and Atsumu regretted getting so little sleep just for this tomfoolery.
He caught sight of the look on Osamu's face when he and Suna walked by down the sidewalk, hand in hand like it was no big deal.
It made him want to puke his guts out.
Maybe it was just a little bit worth it.