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It’s been—what, a week?—a week, maybe, since his birthday, and Futakuchi’s still thinking about it. Well, not thinking about his birthday, really, but about his birthday party. The fact that he’s seventeen is unremarkable at best—it’s just something else he can use to lord it over his little sister Shiori, who’s been insufferable since she turned fourteen. No, seventeen isn’t anything special. But the party had been pretty great.

Last year, it had just been Datekou, and it had stopped being fun on the way home when Kamasaki puked into a hydrangea bush in the middle of nowhere while Moniwa had a panic attack about dehydration. This year, Aone’s little buddy from Karasuno had insisted on bringing their team out, because it was Number 12’s birthday too—and, okay, Yamaguchi’s a pretty cool guy, but Futakuchi lost interest in him pretty quickly when he discovered Number 6.

The thing is, Futakuchi’s not the nicest person. He only really knows this because so many people have told him, but he’s come to accept it. Come to enjoy it, even. Okay, so he’s a bit of a bully. But not, like, a harmful bully. He just says things that make people freak out and yell at him. That’s not really his problem.

“One day,” Moniwa told him, “you’ll meet someone who doesn’t fall for your bullshit. What then?”

What then?

“What’s up with you? You look tired!” had been met with silence, and then a shrug. “I guess I am tired.”

“Are you always so tired?” was meant to get a rise out of him. He was meant to say something like “What’s your problem?” He was meant to give Futakuchi an opening for more teasing. Instead, he gave him a sleepy smile. “Yeah, pretty much.”

“Aren’t you going to finish that?” had solicited no more than a shrug. “No, you go ahead and take it.”

“How come I’ve never seen you on court?” led to a sheepish confession: “I’m not actually that good at volleyball.”

There’s only one conclusion: Ennoshita Chikara is impossible.

He’s impossible to tease, he’s impossible to understand, and he’s impossibly calm. There has to be something wrong with him.

Probably the only good thing to come out of Futakuchi’s incredibly brief acquaintance with Ennoshita is his phone number, which Futakuchi has used at least fifty times to text him everything from invasive personal questions to fun facts about movies that Ennoshita has probably never even watched.

It’s nearing two in the morning, and Futakuchi can’t stop thinking about this stupid quiet sleepy wing spiker who apparently isn’t even good at volleyball. So he calls him.

“Hello?”

“Ennoshita? It’s Futa—”

“I know; I have caller ID.”

And, fuck, he sounds wide awake.

“Why are you calling me?”

Futakuchi does not lose his cool. That’s just not something that happens to him. Ever. “Do I need a reason?” he says, a bit too quickly, because he’s not losing his cool.

“I don’t know you that well,” Ennoshita says. “I get that you’ve been texting me, but I haven’t really replied, so having a conversation is a bit of a stretch, isn’t it?”

He doesn’t even mention the fact that it’s two in the morning.

“Did you know they used real arrows in Kumonosu-jou?” Futakuchi says. When in doubt, deflect the conversation with trivia.

Ennoshita sighs. “I know,” he says. “I’ve seen it, like, ten times.”

“Way to waste your life,” Futakuchi says, neglecting to mention that he’s seen it maybe five times himself.

“Did you really just call me to tell me more things I already know?” Ennoshita asks.

“You mean all those texts I sent you—”

“No-one knows more about cinema than me. Not even you, Futakuchi. Now go to sleep.”

Futakuchi cannot believe this guy. “Wait! Don’t hang up!”

“Give me three good reasons not to hang up on you right now.”

“You. Me. Tomorrow?” Futakuchi tries.

There’s a long pause. “Alright,” Ennoshita says. “We can go to the movies. 

Ennoshita hangs up. Futakuchi does not sleep that night.

 


 

“You notice anything different about Futakuchi today?” Obara asks.

Futakuchi does not turn around. Turning around when you hear your name mentioned in the club room means open game for taunting, and Futakuchi is too tired to taunt back—he was up to four last night texting Ennoshita, which was fun at the time, but it turns out that Ennoshita always looks so tired because he’s literally an insomniac, and Futakuchi cannot keep up with that lifestyle.

“Yeah,” Onagawa says, “he was off in practice.”

“I was up late,” Futakuchi says, because really, he can’t let them slag him off like that. He’s got a reputation, after all.

“Doing what?” Onagawa asks. “Jacking it?”

“Ew,” Sakunami says. “Don’t make me think about that.”

“Hey, does Futakuchi-senpai even have a girlfriend?” Koganegawa asks, apparently unaware that it does not necessarily take two to tango.

“Stooooop,” Sakunami says. He zips up his bag and grabs Koganegawa’s sleeve, dragging him towards the door. Koganegawa makes like he’s going to protest, but it seems like he’s getting used to Sakunami pushing him around, so he lets himself be steered out of the club room.

Once they’re gone, Onagawa narrows his eyes at Futakuchi. “Do you have a girlfriend? Is that why you’re acting like you’ve been cursed?”

“Am I not allowed to just have been up late?” Futakuchi asks.

He’d actually been up late in every regard—he’d almost missed his train yesterday morning, and then he’d got lost looking for the cinema in Sendai that Ennoshita had suggested, and he’d missed the very start of the film.

Ennoshita hadn’t even been angry or anything. It was no less baffling than it had been the first time. Futakuchi is so used to people getting pissed off at him, like every time he passes Kamasaki in the corridors and they flip each other off, or like—

“Hey, Earth to Futakuchi,” Onagawa says. “Did you hear anything I just said to you?”

“I was too busy thinking about how you should cut your hair if you want to be taken seriously, Pantalons,” Futakuchi says, quick off the mark to cover for a lapse in concentration.

“Very funny,” Onagawa says.

“Hey, Futakuchi,” Obara says, “you want to come get ice cream with us? Or are you hanging out with your girlfriend?”

“Piss off,” Futakuchi says, because he can’t think of anything more creative. He flips them off, gently ignoring the sniggering, and forges his way out of the club room.

Aone’s waiting outside.

“Sorry about that,” Futakuchi says. “Pantalons has his knickers in a knot.”

Aone shrugs. “It’s alright.”

“Did I seem off in practice today?” Futakuchi asks.

“A bit,” Aone says. “It’s your new friend, isn’t it?”

“We were texting late,” Futakuchi admits, a little bit embarrassed.

Aone shrugs and pulls his phone out of his pocket. He flashes Futakuchi the snapchat screen, where SHOUYOUACE is listed as his “best friend.”

“Maybe since you’ve got a new best friend, I’ll just go ahead and declare Ennoshita my best friend,” Futakuchi says.

“It’s just the app,” Aone says.

“I should install it,” Futakuchi says. “Win back my title.”

Aone pauses. They’ve hit the train station, which is where they part ways—Aone catches the train, and Futakuchi has to pick Shiori up from choir and stock up on sour gummies. Futakuchi grabs Aone’s sleeve to stop him from leaving while he muddles around on his phone.

Ten minutes later, SHOYOUACE receives a snap from futakuchisenpai. It’s a picture of iron_aone’s snapchat screen, where SHOUYOUACE is listed as his best friend, with the caption “i’m coming for you ~♪” and a winking emoji.

 


 

Karasuno is a bit far from Datekou, and Futakuchi doesn’t quite know when he passed the point of “yes, absolutely, I would make the trip just to see one person,” but now it’s a decision he makes without a second thought.

Usually, they just meet in Sendai. It’s the convenient middle ground between Datekou and Karasuno—and Futakuchi sort of gets the impression that Ennoshita probably doesn’t want his teammates to know that they’re friends, anyway—so that’s where they meet most often. They watch movies, they go out for meals, and Futakuchi spends a lot of time downplaying just how much he enjoys Ennoshita’s company.

Futakuchi has a lot of friends, but he’s starting to suspect that he only likes them because they have all the right reactions to him. Ennoshita has all the wrong reactions, which only makes Futakuchi more curious.

Well, okay, that’s putting aside Aone, who’s been his Best Friend since their first volleyball tryouts, when the captain took one look at the pair of them standing side by side and told them they could be middle blockers. Futakuchi had very indignantly informed him that he was a wing spiker, and an ace on top of that, thank you very much—which had been fine until he’d found out that the captain was the ace, and Futakuchi had been put on the bench out of spite.

But when the third years retired to focus on their exams and Moniwa became captain, the team needed an ace, and Futakuchi got the last laugh.

Sill, it had been hard spending almost a year being benched after being his middle school’s star player. Aone helped, in his own quiet way. Even though Futakuchi was always more popular, always surrounded by people, Aone never left his side. It was reassuring.

Making a new friend—a close friend, not just someone he talks to at lunch—is a change. It’s a welcome change. Futakuchi likes being around Ennoshita way too much, which is why he’s made the trip all the way to Karasuno.

Ennoshita slips out of volleyball practice to meet him. His hair is all messy and there’s a drop of sweat clinging perilously to his eyelashes, and Futakuchi sort of wants to take a picture of him like that. It’s the closest he’s been to seeing Ennoshita getting worked up about something.

“I can’t talk long,” Ennoshita says. “I told Sawamura-san I was going to the bathroom.”

“We can go to the bathroom, if you want,” Futakuchi says, “and talk there. You know, if you feel bad lying.”

Ennoshita narrows his eyes. “That’s fine,” he says. “I don’t have such an active moral conscience.”

“I like that about you,” Futakuchi says.

“Right,” Ennoshita says. “I’m going to go back in now.”

“So soon?” Futakuchi asks.

“I take volleyball very seriously,” Ennoshita says, and Futakuchi can’t tell if he’s joking or not.

“Don’t mope,” Ennoshita adds. “I’ll see you after.”

He ends up waiting with his back against the gym wall, flitting between texting Aone and playing games on his phone. Karasuno is quiet, which is kind of annoying. Futakuchi lasts for about five minutes before his headphones go in. He’s blaring music when Yamaguchi comes and sits down next to him.

“Um, hi,” Yamaguchi says.

Futakuchi slips out an earphone. “Hi,” he says. “What’s happening?”

“I’m just taking a break,” Yamaguchi says. “What are you doing here?” He seems hesitant to make conversation, but curious.

“Waiting for Ennoshita,” Futakuchi replies, a hint of pride in his voice.

“Huh,” Yamaguchi says, “so he actually did give you his number.”

“Yeah,” Futakuchi says. “We hang out a lot.”

Yamaguchi gives him an incredulous look. Futakuchi rolls his eyes.

“I’m… going to go back to practice now,” Yamaguchi says. He walks a bit like a wounded animal, and Futakuchi takes a moment to laugh to himself before putting his earphone back in.

It’s another half-hour before the rest of the team emerges, all changed back into their uniforms, and Futakuchi ducks behind a tree to avoid confrontation. Tsukishima probably still hasn’t forgiven him for breathing the same air as Yamaguchi, let alone that one text he sent a few weeks ago to the tune of Are you still rude? Needless to say, there had been no reply.

Ennoshita finds him, though. He’s with his two friends who probably don’t even have names.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Ennoshita says.

Futakuchi shrugs. It’s not like Ennoshita made the buses run on time.

“I guess we’ll catch you later?” one of Ennoshita’s friends asks.

“You don’t need to rush off,” Ennoshita says.

“Nah,” the other says, “you’re on your own.”

“Thanks, Kinoshita,” Ennoshita says flatly.

Once they’re gone, Futakuchi readies the charm offensive. “What’s this?” he asks. “Don’t you want to spend too much time with me?”

“There was broader context to that conversation,” Ennoshita says, “that you missed out on.”

“You can tell me, right?” Futakuchi asks.

“I’d rather not,” Ennoshita says. He stops and reaches into his bag, pulling out a small notebook and a pacer. “Just a moment. I have to write something down.”

Futakuchi stares, but Ennoshita isn’t looking. There’s something, Futakuchi thinks, that he can’t put his finger on. Even now, Ennoshita is still a mystery.

 


 

Futakuchi practically begged Coach Oiwake to invite Karasuno to Datekou for a practice match. It was embarrassing, but it worked. He’s got his Captain Face on and his hands on his hips, standing at the door to the gym to welcome the visiting team.

It’s a strategic move—Ennoshita is Captain Karasuno now, but he’s new to it, and his team is new too. And Futakuchi reckons that if anything can flap the unflappable, it’s volleyball. So he’s got the disjointed team on unfamiliar ground, and he’s going to destroy Ennoshita.

Karasuno. His team is going to destroy Karasuno.

He shakes Ennoshita’s hand and pulls him aside. “How’s the new team looking?”

“Ah,” Ennoshita says. “We’re still coming together. It’s difficult now that the third years are taking their finals.”

“Yeah,” Futakuchi says, “that’s why our third years left earlier.”

Ennoshita glances over his shoulder. “Well, our team’s still liable to change.”

“Huh?” Futakuchi raises an eyebrow. “Why’s that?”

Ennoshita laughs nervously. “Yamaguchi and I aren’t the strongest players. There could be first years next year who put us to shame!”

“You’re the captain,” Futakuchi says, a bit more sharply than he intends. “You can’t be kicked off the team!”

“That may be so,” Ennoshita says, “but I’m still worried about Yamaguchi.”

Futakuchi looks over to where Yamaguchi is standing, chatting to Tsukishima and looking on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There is no way Karasuno can win today. Maybe then Futakuchi will get to see Ennoshita break a sweat.

“You can serve first,” Futakuchi says cheerily, “since you’re the visitors, and you’re so worried!”

Ennoshita gives a faint smile. “Thanks, I think.”

Well, that’s one thing—Ennoshita isn’t dumb. He knows that Futakuchi is planning a win, and it looks like he’s resigned himself to defeat.

“We won’t go easy on you,” Futakuchi says, “so don’t go easy on us either.”

They part ways so that Karasuno can change into their sports uniforms, and Futakuchi feels strangely jealous when he sees Ennoshita re-emerge with the Number 1 shirt. Datekou’s tradition is that the captain wears number 2 and the vice wears 1, and usually that feels fine, but today it makes Futakuchi feel a little inadequate.

Still, he won’t let it get to him. Today is about volleyball, not about hierarchy.

He watches Ennoshita put his team into position, and shit, he’s got Yamaguchi serving. If it’s anything like that stunt he pulled at Spring High last year—which everyone heard about—they’re screwed. With any luck, Yamaguchi will just do a normal serve to start the game. But then Yamaguchi serves.

Ennoshita catches Futakuchi’s eyes just as his jaw drops. Ennoshita, acting all innocent and worried, with an ace up his sleeve—well, not a literal ace, because Futakuchi is pretty sure he’s the only ace on this court, but a pretty clever trick nonetheless. Ennoshita’s got a shit-eating grin on his face like he was planning this all along, and yeah, he’s not dumb, and he must have known that Futakuchi was playing to Karasuno’s weaknesses. In terms of weaknesses, Datekou doesn’t have many, but, fuck, who the fuck knows how to receive a jump float serve?

Point one to Karasuno.

Every time they meet on opposite sides of the net, Futakuchi feels like he’s being drained, somehow. He’s close enough to see the sweat on Ennoshita’s face in more detail than he ever thought he needed, which is probably why Ennoshita manages to block almost half of his spikes.

It’s sort of not a competition between two teams anymore, but it’s sort of not a competition, either.

 


 

The doorbell rings with the sort of perfect timing that happens once in a lifetime. Shiori’s just gone down to the store, so Futakuchi’s home alone when Ennoshita arrives. It’s the first time they’ve done the “meeting at someone’s house” thing, and it’s a bit more personal than a café in Sendai.

“Make yourself at home,” Futakuchi says as Ennoshita slips his shoes off by the door.

“Thanks,” Ennoshita says.

“You wanna come up to my room?” Futakuchi asks. “You can see my DVD collection in person.”

Ennoshita laughs, looking a little taken aback. “I guess so,” he says.

Futakuchi likes to think his collection is pretty cool, but he’s seen photos of Ennoshita’s DVD collection—Ennoshita doesn’t take selfies, so he replies to Futakuchi with pictures of his room. Futakuchi couldn’t ever hope to match that level of nerdery.

“Impressive,” Ennoshita says.

Futakuchi hates being humoured. “Whatever,” he says, clambering onto his bed.

At least the conversation is easy. When Ennoshita sits down beside him, Futakuchi forgets why he was annoyed and remembers why he and Ennoshita get on so well in the first place. They can just talk—about anything—for hours. His first impression of Ennoshita had been that of someone quiet and unflappable, but now he’s had that impression well and truly shattered.

Ennoshita doesn’t take any teasing, but Futakuchi’s found his weak spot. Volleyball.

“I didn’t get a chance to tell you after our practice match the other day,” he says, “but you were good. You know? Really, uh, captain-y.”

“Thanks,” Ennoshita said, “but that’s a pretty weak excuse to start a conversation, given that you texted me five minutes after your bus left Karasuno.”

Futakuchi laughs like he wasn’t totally caught out. “Ah,” he says. “I’m just saying, you’re pretty strong. I never noticed before.”

“Not really,” Ennoshita says. “I’m about average for the team.”

“As if,” Futakuchi says, rolling his eyes. He grabs Ennoshita’s hands and inspects his forearms. It’s like they’re built for receives. He wonders if Ennoshita has abs.

“Hey!” Ennoshita exclaims. “What are you d—”

“Do you have abs?” Futakuchi asks, undoing the top button on Ennoshita’s shirt.

“Not really sure that’s any of your business,” Ennoshita says, trying to swat Futakuchi’s arms away.

Futakuchi is nothing if not persistent. He manoeuvres so that he’s sort of pushed Ennoshita down onto the bed, and undoes another button.

“Seriously?” Ennoshita asks, letting out a frustrated laugh.

“Seriously,” Futakuchi says.

Ennoshita pauses for a moment, his mouth open as though he’s about to respond—and then he shrugs, and shifts so that he’s less falling off the bed and more lying on his back. Futakuchi swings a leg over to get a better stance, and Ennoshita helpfully puts a hand on his waist to steady him as he gets another two buttons undone, and then—

—and then his bedroom door bursts open.

“Nii-chan, I bought—oh!”

Shiori slowly backs out of the bedroom, her jaw hanging open. “I’ll come back later!” she squeals, and Futakuchi hears her pace speed up as she runs down the corridor to her own room.

In the time it takes Futakuchi to recover, Ennoshita’s managed to free himself to the extent that he’s sitting upright, and he’s doing up his shirt. “I should leave,” he says.

“But you came all this way!” Futakuchi whines.

“Yeah, and now I have to leave,” Ennoshita says quickly, pushing Futakuchi off him and getting to his feet.

“Ugh,” Futakuchi says. Typical Shiori, ruining everything. Just when he was about to see if Ennoshita has abs or not.

Ennoshita almost—almost—looks apologetic. “I’ll talk to you some other time,” he says.

Futakuchi watches him leave with a sour taste in his mouth. He spends the rest of the afternoon trying to put a finger on why he feels so off.

Over dinner that night, Shiori waits for a lull in the conversation and clears her throat. “Nii-chan had a boy in his room this afternoon,” she says calmly.

“Oh?” their father asks.

“Yeah,” Shiori continues innocently. “Kenji-nii was unbuttoning the other boy’s shirt when I walked in.”

Their father pauses mid-mouthful, and their mother drops her chopsticks.

“Kenji—”

“Before you say anything,” he says hastily, “he’s a volleyball player, and we were, uh, comparing abs? You know, like, a sort of manly, uh, sports-y thing?”

“Kenji-nii was on top of him,” Shiori adds, flashing her brother a winning smile.

“Shiori, can you please leave the table?” their mother says steadily. “We need to have a… a talk with Kenji.”

 


 

They’ve been to this café loads of times, which doesn’t explain why Futakuchi’s leg is bouncing up and down under the table or why he’s drumming his fingers on his knee. No, this time is different because this is a date. Well, it’s not explicitly a date, but Futakuchi has decided that it’s a date.

The decision has probably been a long time coming, but it took Futakuchi a while to find his way to it. After sitting for an hour at the dinner table while his parents spoke to him about the facts of life—old news; he’s had the internet, like, forever—he locked himself in his room and went to sleep out of shame. When he woke up again, it was almost eleven, and there were three texts from Ennoshita on his phone.

Sorry about earlier.

I didn’t mean to freak out and run away.

Can I make it up to you somehow?

Futakuchi had quickly typed out a reply—Sendai, Sunday?—and then he’d watched game show clips on youtube for a few hours before going to back to sleep.

He woke up again at seventeen-past-four in the morning and realised that, somewhere along the line, he’d fallen head over heels for Ennoshita Chikara.

He’s never really had a crush before. Sure, he’s been out with a couple of girls who were probably more interested in the prestige of going out with Datekou’s ace than all of his film trivia, and he’s even kissed some of them. But all of that was nothing compared to the weird feeling he gets when he looks at Ennoshita, which is mainly weird because, A: Ennoshita is a boy, and Futakuchi was definitely not bi or anything last time he checked, and B: they sort of have the same hairstyle, so it’s like looking into a mirror that makes you shorter and sleepier, and does that make Futakuchi a narcissist?

But it’s kind of cool—having a crush, that is—which is why Futakuchi’s decided that they’re on a date. He’ll get around to telling Ennoshita later.

“I thought maybe we could go see a film this weekend,” he says, casual as anything. He’s not going to mention the Abs Incident if Ennoshita doesn’t.

Ennoshita doesn’t even do him the good grace of looking up from the menu. “Sure,” he says.

Futakuchi frowns. “Are you ignoring me because of what happened the other day?” he asks, breaking his own promise.

“No,” Ennoshita says. “I’m just reading the menu.”

Which is nonsense, because they’ve been here before, and Ennoshita gets the same thing every time.

“You sound bored,” Futakuchi says. “Don’t you ever get excited about anything?”

“Sure,” Ennoshita says again—his voice is flat, but Futakuchi can tell he’s trying to keep a straight face.

Futakuchi leans forward, resting his chin on his hands and switching gears to smooth-talking flirt in a matter of seconds. “So what gets you fired up, then?”

Ennoshita looks up over the menu, smiling conspiratorially, and their eyes lock. “Want to find out?”

It hits Futakuchi like a volleyball to the face—this is not the first time. This is nowhere near the first time that Ennoshita has flirted with him. Ennoshita has been flirting with him since the moment they met, always one step ahead, hiding it behind a thick cloud of tired indifference. But there’s more to him—Ennoshita’s a real person too, with real hobbies and fears and opinions, and he kicks Futakuchi’s ankle under the table, and Futakuchi grins widely, and in two minutes they’re making out in the café bathroom.

Futakuchi’s done the whole kissing thing before, but never quite like this. Ennoshita’s got him pinned against the cubicle door and is using way more tongue than you can speak about in polite company. Futakuchi has to make himself a bit shorter for it to work, which is probably the only reason why he feels weak at the knees.

“You’re incredible,” Futakuchi says, and his voice comes out sounding all breathy and embarrassing. “I mean, like, not in a weird way, or anything.”

Ennoshita laughs. “Right,” he says. “Should we go back and get lunch…?”

Futakuchi brings one of his hands up from Ennoshita’s waist and starts to unbutton his shirt. “I never got to see if you had abs or not,” he says quietly.

“Guess we’ll eat later, then,” Ennoshita says.

 


 

Lately, Futakuchi’s had to accustom himself to a new feeling: being lost for words. He’s used to thinking on his feet—“That boy,” his grandmother always says, “has an answer for everything”—so there’s something quite disarming about being in a situation where he’s got nothing to say.

This time, Shiori’s out of the house for real when Ennoshita comes over. It’s a windy day, and when Ennoshita arrives, his jacket is pulled up around his neck and his hair is hanging over his eyes.

“Are you going to stand there staring, or are you going to let me in?”

Futakuchi blinks. “Sorry,” he says, getting out of the way. “You look so—”

Ennoshita shuts the door and kisses him.

When they pull apart, Futakuchi stands there with his mouth hanging open, and Ennoshita laughs nervously. “Uh, was that too forward?”

“Too forward?” Futakuchi’s eyes widen. “Ennoshita, that’s—wait, can I call you Chikara? I can call you Chikara, right?”

“You can,” Ennoshita says. “Kenji.”

He doesn’t wait for a response, grabbing the front of Futakuchi’s shirt and pressing their lips together. It’s brief, but slightly more emotionally charged than Futakuchi expects, and when Ennoshita pulls away it leaves him reeling.

“I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself,” Ennoshita says, scratching the back of his head.

Futakuchi shrugs. He doesn’t have any reasonable objections.

“Anyway,” Ennoshita continues, “I brought homework.”

Futakuchi raises his eyebrows.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Ennoshita says. “It’s Tuesday. Don’t you have any homework?”

“A bit,” Futakuchi concedes.

Futakuchi lets Ennoshita take his desk, and he lies on his bed. This is mainly so that he has a good angle for watching Ennoshita while he works through his algebra problems. His hair is still a little messy, and he has a look of calm concentration on his face. Even just looking at him makes Futakuchi feel like he’s been running laps for an hour, but it’s not the kind of exhaustion where you’re doubled over and breathing heavily, it’s the kind where you feel like you’ve earned the exhaustion.

“Hey,” Futakuchi says, “how much more of that do you have to do?” He rolls onto his back.

“I just started,” Ennoshita says.

“Well, stop,” Futakuchi says. He’s vaguely aware that he sounds like a petulant child. Whatever.

Ennoshita glances over his shoulder. “I’ll think about it,” he says.

Still, there’s got to be something between them—barely a minute passes before Ennoshita puts his pen down with a sigh and lies down next to Futakuchi. “Happy?”

“Not quite,” Futakuchi says, before he can stop himself, and Ennoshita responds in turn, pulling himself up and on top of Futakuchi.

“My turn,” Ennoshita says, sounding as windswept as his hair. Futakuchi reaches up and brushes his fringe away, and lets his hand linger, just for a moment.

A moment is all Ennoshita needs, and he pulls a small spiral-bound notepad and pacer out of his pocket.

“What’s the deal?” Futakuchi asks.

“Give me a moment,” Ennoshita says, distracted. “Whenever I… uh, it’s an inspiration thing. For my screenplays.”

“I get it,” Futakuchi says. “I’m naturally inspiring.”

Ennoshita looks away from his notepad and blinks. “Yeah,” he says, with such candour in his voice that Futakuchi can’t formulate a response.

It’s another moment or two before his mouth is free to respond.

“You dropped your notepad,” he says.

“I know,” Ennoshita says. He doesn’t sound like he cares.

This time, Futakuchi doesn’t need to reply.

 


 

Futakuchi rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling. This is—it’s nice , but it would be nicer if Futakuchi could put a name to it. “Dating,” maybe. “Going out.” He wasn’t fussy. Still, it might be nice to call it something other than “we meet up every now and then to take our clothes off and do the nasty.”

He’s never known anyone quite like Ennoshita. If he tries to think about it he gets all disgusting and romantic and has to do a bit of homework to calm down.

He rolls back onto his side and prods Ennoshita in the arm. “Hey,” he says. “Why are we doing this?”

Ennoshita’s eyes flicker half-open. “Huh?”

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best way to phrase it—Futakuchi knows exactly what he’s doing, and why. He’s very much in control of the situation. Maybe.

“Why are you doing this?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” Ennoshita says, lifting a hand to push his fringe out of his eyes. “I guess… because it’s fun, and because I like you… ?”

Futakuchi’s brain stops functioning. “You—”

He flings himself out of bed, naked as the day he was born, and pulls his school blazer off the floor and onto his shoulders. He jumps back on the bed and pounces on Ennoshita—it doesn’t take much force to get the second button off his blazer, but he rips it anyway, and he shoves it in Ennoshita’s face.

Ennoshita laughs.

Ennoshita does not stop laughing. Ennoshita laughs so hard that there are tears in his eyes. Futakuchi is pretty sure that Ennoshita has never laughed this hard in his life.

“Wow,” Futakuchi says. “I mean, I was trying to be romantic, but if you just want to laugh at me, go right ahead.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Ennoshita says, still laughing. “I’m so—I feel so lucky to have someone who cares about me as much as you do—”

Futakuchi makes a sort of strangled noise—he didn’t even know vocal chords worked that way—and brushes his hand across his eyes quickly just in case he might have started weeping like a baby, which, if he did, would be entirely Ennoshita’s fault. It’s singularly unfair that someone so calm can reduce someone so cool to a mess of loud, ugly sobs with only a few words.

He’s laughing too, though. They’re both laughing, doubled over themselves in Futakuchi’s bed.

Futakuchi collapses onto his side, dropping his arm on Ennoshita's chest. “Take—fuck, take the fucking button,” he says, choking on his words.

Ennoshita links their hands together, and slips the button between his fingers. “Thank you,” he whispers.

“Yeah, yeah,” Futakuchi says. “This never happened, okay? We don’t talk about this.”

Ennoshita lets out a peal of laughter. “Right,” he says, “so you’re saying that when people ask me how my boyfriend asked me out, I won’t be able to tell them that he was naked except for his school blazer?”

“You can tell them it was totally smooth and sophisticated,” Futakuchi grumbles. “Like me.”

“You’re a child, Kenji,” Ennoshita says.

“Fuck you,” Futakuchi says, and before he can finish his comeback, Ennoshita says, “That’s so five minutes ago.”

 


 

It's like walking on air when Futakuchi goes to school on Monday, strolling down the corridor like he owns it. He can't stop thinking about Ennoshita, which is sort of obvious and teenage, but whatever, maybe he wants to be an obvious teenager for once.

Obara stops him outside the bathrooms. “Hey, Futakuchi, we’ve got the day off today, right?”

Futakuchi pulls a face at him. “Are you stupid as well as bald?”

“Nevermind, then,” Obara says, laughing it off, but as he gets closer to Futakuchi, he stops. “Uh, your blazer’s missing a button.”

“Must have fallen off,” Futakuchi says calmly.

Obara looks a little closer. “You sure? It’s the second button…”

“That’s a coincidence,” Futakuchi says, shrugging.

“So, nothing to do with the fact that you’ve been hanging around Karasuno’s captain a lot lately?”

“Nothing,” Futakuchi says.

“Guess I’ll see you in practice, then,” Obara says.

Futakuchi waits a few minutes after they’ve parted before whipping his phone out and running into the bathroom. He scrolls through his contacts and presses call, and Ennoshita answers after two rings.

“Kenji, I have class in five minutes,” Ennoshita says. “Is this important?”

“Nah,” Futakuchi says, “just wanted to say hi.”

“Alright,” Ennoshita says. “Hi.”

Futakuchi takes a deep breath. “Hi.”