It was one of those things that everyone had simply taken for granted. The earth is round, crows have the ability to fly and when one sees Daichi, Sugarawa is without a doubt, somewhere in the vicinity.
It’s also taken for granted that whenever they spend any time with each other, they are constantly on the same wavelength and it’s sort of disgustingly sweet. Newer members of the volleyball team are mystified by this odd occurrence while long-standing veterans barely even blink at the way they sync up down to the last detail, including body movements. Like how Sugawara and Daichi seem to lean towards each other no matter how far apart they are. It’s something small –just the shifting of weight from one leg to another— but keen-eyed observers pick it out quickly and most of the Karasuno team is very keen-eyed.
No one comments on it, of course. There is school and tournaments and training to worry about and the regular commotion between the first years was generally the primary focus of attention during practice. But it’s a constant undercurrent that quickly becomes comforting and seeing one of them on their own doesn’t quite sit right, like the way a sock looks rather lonely without its partner. Even still, the uncertainty between them was beginning to make everyone twitchy.
It would be little things like this:
They were all sitting in a restaurant (Coach Ukai and Take-sensei were treating them after a particularly grueling set of practices) chatting happily when Hinata looked up from his plate –mouth stuffed to a brink of explosion that made Kageyama grimace— at his team captains who were sitting across from him. The two were laughing quietly at something only the two of them were privy to apparently. Hinata was used to the way that something in Daichi’s expression softened and the way Sugarawa lit up just a little more when the two talked.
“Ahhhh, it must be nice having good childhood friends,” he exclaimed, happily.
Sugawara looked away from Daichi and nodded, looking at the other side of the table at Tsukishima and Yamaguchi who were poking at their own respective meals.
“Yes, it does look quite cozy,” Sugawara agreed. Daichi was absently nodding along though Hinata wasn’t even sure he was listening.
Hinata shook his head.
“Ehhh? I don’t mean those two, I mean you and Captain!” Hinata said. Kageyama grunted in agreement.
“Oh!” Koushi looked surprised. “Oh no, Daichi and I met through volleyball club in our first year at Karasuno. I thought we told you that?”
“What?” Hinata looked a little confused. Tobio had concentrated lines between his eyebrows.
“I think I do remember that,” Tobio said slowly, spearing a piece of carrot thoughtfully.
“It’s easy to forget, especially for certain people since they seem to be too obsessed with volleyball to do anything else.” Tsuki drawled tauntingly, locking eyes with Kageyama, “Thought you two do seem very well-matched as captains, especially having known each other for a few years.” He tacked on.
“It’s nice to hear we have a good dynamic though, isn’t it?” Sugawara turned to his right, elbowing his friend a little with a wide grin. Daichi laughed and nudged him back with his shoulder affectionately. Throughout this entire conversation, Sugawara had absently been picking out bamboo out of his own bowl and placing it in Daichi’s, neither of them even looking or commenting on it.
A thought went around the table as the team watched this interaction.
They are more than well-matched.
Asahi and Nishinoya looked up from their own bowls and raised their eyebrows at each other.
Feeling the sudden quiet around them, Daichi and Suga shrank back a little from each other, staring determinedly at their plates, not making eye contact with the rest of their wide-eyed team. The Crows slowly looked around at each other.
Two weeks later, after practice, Nishinoya and Asahi waited around as the locker room emptied out for the evening. Daichi was sitting cross-legged on the locker room floor, flipping through the team’s wavier forms for next month’s joint practice camp with Nekoma. Sugawara would usually be around helping in the task but today, he and Tanaka were working with Hinata and Kageyama specifically, the four of them staying behind for extra practice.
As Daichi pulled out another box of forms to sort through, Nishinoya leaned back on the bench casually.
“How are you and Sugawara these days?”
Daichi shrugged, eyes scanning the papers before him. “Good. It’s been busy, especially with all our school assignments too, but Suga always lends a hand.”
Asahi cleared his throat delicately.
“When did you two, ah…. Start being official?”
Daichi’s head snapped up, face looking faintly pink.
“What do you mean official?”
Nishinoya planted himself in front of his sitting captain, arms crossed firmly and finally taller for once in his life.
“Are you guys dating yet? Its been like a thousand years. When do we get to start calling you two the team parents for real?”
Daichi felt his mouth suddenly go dry.
“No, it’s not like that with me and Suga.” he replied, face getting redder by the second.
Asahi sighed wearily.
“You can’t expect us to believe that.”
“B-but Suga and I are just good friends, he doesn’t feel that way, I-“
The pair had never seen their usually firm and assertive captain look so lost.
“Oh my god.” Nishinoya never had any patience for these matters. Drawing himself up to his full height, he looked fiercely at Daichi. “Ask him out soon, before the entire team loses it. Just make it official already so we can stop creating betting pools in the team.”
Daichi’s captaincy caught up with him quickly.
“Hey now, what about betting pools?” he started, stern and concerned. Asahi patted him sympathetically on the shoulder.
“Daichi, you know we want the best for you guys. It’s just one less thing for the team to be thinking about and one less thing for you two be skirting around. You two have danced around this subject so long, you are beginning to drive us all crazy.”
Daichi looked down at his hands uncomfortably.
“Just think about it okay?” Asahi murmured. “You are always working to enjoy your high school life to the fullest, isn’t this a part of it?”
He patted Daichi one last time before Nishinoya and him hoisted their bags over their shoulders and beat a speedy escape.
Daichi was left in the locker room all by himself.
He could feel his face burning now. He thought he had been good about reining himself in around Suga. It was so easy to be around the other boy, their steps and thoughts always easily falling into sync. He tried hard not to stare, though sometimes the ugly florescent lights would fall on Sugawara’s face, making his eyes bright and joyful or a good jump would make his hair fall into his eyes and when Sugawara pushed it back, it would look so soft and he couldn’t help staring. Sugawara was always a comforting warmth against his shoulder, something to stabilize himself against and he didn’t think he had been too obvious about leaning in sometimes when it had been a long day.
Lost to his thoughts that he had long denied himself about his vice-captain, Daichi’s progress on checking the permission slips took much longer than expected.
He kept being distracted, thinking about the times Sugawara had swung close and hugged him after a good match, snug in his arms and Daichi felt the oddest urge to kiss him. He thought about all the instances when the team got up to mischief and Suga would chase them down, bandage their wounds and care for all of them. Even when Nishinoya and Tanaka were tormenting Asahi or other students in school on a whim, even that one nightmare-inducing incident with the vice-Principal, it always felt that he and Suga could talk them down and keep the team together. Suga kept the team together.
He had read the same line 13 times without really processing the scribbles on the page when Sugawara’s sharp intake of breath shook him out of his silence.
“Oh! Daichi, you startled me. I thought everyone had gone home.” Koushi stood framed in the doorway, the evening sunset streaming in past him.
Daichi blinked a few times, trying not to get distracted by how the sun made Sugawara’s silver hair shine, or how his skin glowed in the dying light.
“I was. Um.” He shook the forms in his hand in lieu of an explanation. Sugawara crossed the space between them quickly, hand sheepishly in his hair.
“I’m really sorry, I should have been sorting these out with you, this task really shouldn’t have taken so long.” He apologized, leaning over Daichi to peer at the pile next to him.
Daichi tried not to tense at the feeling of Sugawara’s warmth against his back, his breath lightly on Daichi’s cheek and quickly slapped the page in his hand down on the pile.
“No no, its okay, I’m just finishing up. You needed to teach Kageyama some communication techniques anyways, that’s very important for the team and it’s growth.”
Sugawara rocked back on his heels with a laugh.
“Yes, I suppose so. I think it went well.”
Daichi nodded, pleased. “Of course it did. You are an excellent mentor. Where did the other three go anyways?”
Sugawara ducked his head with pleasure at the compliment and turned to reach into his locker for his towel, humming absently underneath his breath as he was wont to do.
“They took off as soon as I told them to go home. I think they were racing to get something to eat before the food stands close for the night. You should get going too!”
Daichi stood up, stretching out his legs, feeling the strain from sitting too long.
“I’ll wait for you and we can lock up together as usual, yeah?"
Sugawara flashed him a dimpled smile that made Daichi’s breath catch for a moment
“Sounds good. I’ll be quick.”
The two of them walked in companionable silence, enjoying the spring breeze blowing gently through the streets.
“You seem a little quiet today, is something on your mind?” Sugawara cocked his head curiously, looking at his friend.
Daichi flashed a smile back at him.
“It’s just been busy preparing for our training camp, that’s all.”
Koushi raised an eyebrow hesitantly but nodded.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing Nekoma again,” he started. Daichi nodded along, the two walking towards their respective homes and chattering about the members of the other team.
Things weren’t quite the same after his chat with Nishinoya and Asahi. Daichi felt far more self-aware, catching himself looking in Koushi’s direction for no reason at all in class and sometimes would catch Koushi do the same.
Maybe, he thought to himself after he and Sugawara accidentally locked eyes from across the classroom for the 6th time in the last hour. Maybe there is something.
His week went on in a similar manner. He’d have to stamp down a blush every time Suga and his hands brushed while they walked down the hallway between different classes and clubs. When Suga leaned over their notes to squint at some illegible scribble he had hurriedly written down in the heat of practice, Daichi would look at the ceiling to avoid staring at the 3 little sunspots on the back of Suga’s neck, half-covered by his silver hair. He felt like he’d hold on a second too long when the two high-fived after particularly good passes and afterwards, he’d keep glancing down at his hand, as if he could recreate the moment. Things that previously felt comfortable now felt like he was being electrified. Suga tended to lean up against Daichi when they sat on the bench, shoulder to shoulder and that now set his veins on fire. He wondered at Suga’s closeness and wrestled with the idea at night. Could Suga really feel the same?
When he noticed Asahi concealing a smirk on time during practice after he and Suga had yet another one of their eye-contact moments, he had to stamp down the urge to make up an excuse to make Asahi run more laps. Luckily for his old friend, Daichi couldn’t contemplate the idea for very long when he got distracted by Tanaka and Nishinoya who were making quite a ruckus, terrifying some poor soul that had wandered into the gym (and stared a second too long at Kiyoko who had been studiously writing something down). Only after that matter was sorted out and all appropriate parties were appeased or punished (he doled these out) or scolded (Suga took over), did he return to the same thoughts.
This pattern of constantly making eye contact and Suga turning away –was that pink dusting his cheeks? That thought made his heart stutter— continued until a day where Daichi found himself reading a confession tip section of a teen pop magazine in the local convenience store. A girl whom he vaguely recognized from the other class senior class was looking at him with a poorly-hidden smile and he felt his dignity crumple a little as he slowly closed the magazine and reached for the sports one next on the shelf.
This was getting ridiculous, he thought when he thumbed through the glossy pages, not reading any of it. Tanaka and Nishinoya emerged from the aisle beside Daichi’s, carrying what looked like every single snack in the store, oblivious to what their captain had just been reading seconds ago, as they laughed, ignoring Asahi’s sighs.
Daichi trudged up the hill to his house by himself, feeling desperate. He did want to ask his vice-captain out, he really truly did, especially with graduation looming ever closer and the thought that they might go to different schools far from each other making him feel sick. However, anyone he had dared consult had given him embarrassingly corny suggestions (no one could judge him for his moment of weakness when he had called up Ikejiri begging for advice. His old junior high teammate stayed silent on the phone for a moment before quipping “you can write him a confession like ‘Suga, you are as sweet as sugar!’”) or just given him a plain lazy answer (“Just grab him and tell him that you love him” Michimiya had quipped excitedly) so he was at a loss. He had briefly contemplated asking some of his own teammates before crushing that idea. That would guaranteed be disastrous and humiliating.
Still, in hindsight, googling the issue was not his brightest moment but desperation is a powerful and dangerous mental state. Scrolling through pages and pages of corny ways to ask someone out, he found one that made him pause. It was simply a photo of a Gameboy with the note “Will you be my Player 2?” stuck to it. He frowned at it. It worked in a way. Suga came over to his place often to play videogames or watch volleyball tournaments, those evenings always ending with both comfortably sprawled over his couch. Still the idea felt too cheesy and forced for him so he sighed and pushed the problem out of his mind. The practice camp with Nekoma was right around the corner and he felt determined to face Kuroo with significant self-improvement, so now certainly wasn’t the time to be distracted.
Before anyone knew it, training camp was upon them and they were throwing their bags into the bus being driven by Take-sensei and double checking all their lists. Even lists of their lists. Suga had fallen asleep on Daichi’s shoulder on their way to the facilites and even when he drooled a little on his shoulder, Daichi couldn’t muster up any feelings than fondness. He was so screwed. The actual days of training camp flew by and Daichi had spent most of it with his feelings under control. It was hard to be distracted when each day was filled with pushing both team’s physical and mental capabilities to the, though the amount of camaraderie was heartening. Even if he did feel a little jealous that Yaku and Suga seemed to hit it off so well and the two were constantly talking and scolding their respective teammates.
Little things still caught his attention. Stuff like how when he laid down in his futon for the night, if he turned to his right side, Suga would already be fast asleep resembling a caterpillar, covers tugged around his face, leaving only his eyes visible and long lashes sweeping his pale cheeks. In the cafeteria, Suga always seemed to get there first and ready to hand a full tray to Daichi, smiling as he nodded to the seat next to him.
However, the big incident came on the last day. Nekoma and Karasuno were formally facing off as a finale for a successful training week, both sides tired but also excited about their own personal growth. All team members from both sides were subbed in for parts of the game so everyone could experience playing without the high-stake risks usually associated and Daichi was having fun, even if he and Kuroo kept shooting each other fake sickly smiles to each other across the net for each point they gained on the other. Near the last portion of the game, Suga ended up in the setter position and his visible eagerness to prove his worth warmed Daichi’s heart. The game ended with a score that no one cared about, the gym filled with exhausted and sweating boys who excited to go home but sad to leave their friends (especially Tanaka and Yamamoto who had been blubbering over each other as soon as the game ended, despite how much they taunted each other during the match). He stood back for a while to give everyone some time to hug it out. Hinata and Inuoka were locked in some friendly wrestling move while Kenma and Kageyama were standing next to each other in silence and Lev bounced all over the place. Looking at the clock on the gym wall, he and Kuroo nodded to each other and signaled everyone to work on taking down the nets and cleaning up the gym for departure.
As Daichi focused on untying the net from on top of a wobbly chair, he felt someone come below him and stabilize it. Looking down to say thanks, his breath caught when he saw Suga smiling up at him, dimples galore and eyes sparkling.
What happened next was a moment of insanity.
“Suga” he blurted out. “Be my player 2.”
There was a silence as Suga’s smile wavered, the vice captain looking confused. Did everyone hear that?
Judging by the sounds of Kuroo bursting into hysterics the next post over, it seemed at least a few people did. Daichi ducked his head as his face burned, focusing on the stubborn knot of the rope.
“But I already am?” Suga replied quietly, hand reaching up to his jersey where the number was emblazoned on the front.
“Nevermind,” Daichi mumbled, throwing the end of the net at Kuroo who was beginning to look like he needed medical attention, rolling on the ground gasping. Kenma sat on the floor next to his captain, eyes focused on the video game screen before him, not paying attention. After Daichi wrestled the post out of the ground, Suga automatically went to grab the other end for him and the two walked quietly to the storage room to put it away.
It was only much later, after Suga had rounded everyone up to head back to their hostel to pack for their return trip, did the two speak again. Daichi had hung back in the locker room under the pretense of doing a final sweep of forgotten items, though he was really trying to avoid Asahi and the rest of the team who smiled at him just a little too widely. Suga slipped through the door into the silent room where Daichi was staring at the rows of lockers.
“Daichi?” he said softly, coming up next to the taller boy. Daichi willed himself not to just run.
“A-ah, Suga, sorry about before, I just was talking and-“
“What did you mean Daichi?” Suga cut him off firmly.
“We’ve ah, we’ve known each other for a while haven’t we? And been good friends?”
Sugawara just looked back and nodded.
“I was just thinking maybe. That I could treat you sometime to dinner. As something ….else. A player 2. If we were in a video game.”
Daichi cut himself off before he rambled more. He was usually so self-assured, how was this now his life? He looked at Suga nervously as the setter stood in front of him, eyebrows quirked.
Goodbye, he thought desperately. Suga is going to leave because I’m insane and I’m stupid, this is it. No more dimples to give me heart attacks. No more movie marathons. No more-
“Oh Daichi,” Suga breathed.
Daichi was expecting Suga to say something about leaving or anything really, anything but what he actually did. He did not expect him to take a step closer and wrap his arms firmly around Daichi’s neck in a hug. Daichi’s arms came up automatically to return the gesture as his brain struggled to process the moment.
“I already told you Daichi, I’m already your player 2,” Suga’s voice was slightly muffled as he spoke into Daichi’s shoulder.
Suga pulled back just in time as Tanaka burst into the locker room.
“You two coming? Take-sensei says we are packing the bus to leave in ten.”
“Yes yes,” Suga sighed, grabbing Daichi’s hand to pull him along. Once they reached the hallway, Daichi looked down at their intertwined fingers. Suga could have let go after the initial tug, but their hands remained firmly locked. Oh.
Looking up, he looked at the mischievous edge to Suga’s dimpled smile. I could just look at that forever, he thought faintly. He didn’t even pay any mind when their teammates began to turn and look at the two, staring at their locked hands and failing horribly at hiding maniacal grins. Asahi didn’t even bother hiding his glee. Daichi just looked at Suga who casually glanced over at him.
“So player 1, if you want to treat me to the best mapo tofu in the prefecture, I have no objections.”
Definitely not a maybe anymore.