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kismet, noun: destiny, fate.

Yachi was utterly clueless when she first volunteered to be manager for the volleyball team. She hadn’t known the rules, and she didn’t know how to get along with the other first years.

Tsukishima and Yamaguchi, who had been friends since elementary school, were drawn together by loyalty and an unspoken history. Kageyama and Hinata had found a weird partnership with each other, tied together by their obsession with volleyball and begrudging respect.

Where was Villager B supposed to fit in?

They each had different and clashing personalities, barely tied together by their mutual interest in volleyball. The five of them shouldn’t have worked.

But they did.

 rise, noun: an origin, a source; a beginning; a start.

It was late August of their second year. The boys were utterly exhausted from an early morning Saturday practice. They were lying in a circle, heads in the center, with their bodies strewn out like spokes on a wheel.

Yachi finished putting away the water bottles, noted down the last team statistics, and went over to them. “Come on guys. We have to get out of the gym.” She put her hands on her hips. “The basketball team needs it for practice.”

“Can’t right now,” Hinata huffed. “Literally dying.”

“I never thought that I’d agree with Hinata,” Tsukishima said, barely moving his head to look at her. “But, same.”

“If you don’t, I’ll…” Yachi trailed off, trying to think of a suitable threat.

“I’m not sure you’ve ever finished a threat.” Yamaguchi mused, a smile playing at this lips.

“She’s too cute to threaten anyone.”

“Cute people can be threatening,” Kageyama defended. “It’s just Yachi is so… Yachi.”

“I can threaten people! If you don’t get up, I’ll—” She paused to think, before exclaiming, “If you don’t get up, I’ll call Kiyoko.” All four of them sat up at her statement, giving her an odd stare. She smiled at them, triumphant.

They dawdled for a few minutes, before finally leaving the gym. They slowed to stop at the front gates, unsure of where to go. The five of them stood silently in front of the school, grouped in a loose circle.

“Can you believe we’re already second years?” Yachi asked them.

“We should do something,” Hinata jumped, suddenly full of energy. “To celebrate!”

“Or we could just go home,” Tsukishima smirked.

Yamaguchi shot him a sharp look and gently elbowed him in the side. “That sounds fun, Hinata.” He flashed a bright smile. “What did you have in mind?”

He furrowed his eyebrows, clearly deep in thought, before suddenly jumping up. “What about Disneyland?”

“That’s a terrible idea.” Kageyama crossed his arms. “How are we supposed to pay for it? Tokyo is also like three hours away.”

“Do you have a better idea, Baka-geyama?”

Nobody answered.

“Why don’t we just hang out together? We rarely see each other outside of school and volleyball,” Yamaguchi suggested after an awkward silence.  

“That sounds great!” Yachi said, excitedly. Hinata and Kageyama looked confused.

“You two have lives outside of volleyball, right?” Tsukishima questioned.

“Of course we do!” Hinata defended, while Kageyama furrowed his eyebrows in thought. Tsukishima looked skeptical and opened his mouth to respond.

“—Why don’t we go to the mall?” Yachi cut in before their conversation could escalate.

Yamaguchi turned to her and smiled. “There’s a movie I’ve been wanting to see. We could all go to it together.”

“Oh god,” Tsukishima sighed. “Please don’t make us see the bear movie. You already—”

Yamaguchi reached up and slapped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t mind him. He’s always a party pooper about these things.”

Yachi grabbed Hinata and Kageyama’s hands, and started leading them down the street. Yamaguchi released his hand and pulled Tsukishima’s face to be level with his. “Don’t you dare tell them.”

“Tell them what?” Tsukishima asked. “About your obsession with Hugh Grant?”

“I’m over it,” Yamaguchi said, releasing him.

He fixed his clothes where Yamaguchi had wrinkled them. “Consider it payback for making me watch Notting Hill thirty-five times that one summer.”

“We were twelve!” Yamaguchi put his hands on his hips. “Besides, how many times have we watched The Land Before Time?”

The two started to walk, trying to catch up to the rest of the group. “The Land Before Time is a classic.”

Notting Hill is a classic Hugh Grant film.”

“It’s not even one of his best films.” Tsukishima said, turning away and using his longer legs to create a gap between them.

“See!” Yamaguchi yelled. “You like him too!”

“What are you talking about?” Hinata asked, eyes wide, when they rejoined the group.

“Nothing.” Yamaguchi sighed, while Tsukishima smirked victorious. “Tsukishima’s just being…”

“Tsukishima.” Hinata scrunched his nose and nodded in understanding.

The bus came a minute later, and their after-practice mall visits became a weekly tradition.

osoroi code: to physically express the closeness of the bonds shared by the members of a certain social group.

“We graduate next week.” The five of them were all squished onto Yamaguchi’s bed.

“Don’t be such a downer, Kageyama,” Hinata said, throwing a pillow at him.

“We should do something,” Tsukishima proposed, mindlessly watching Hugh Grant fumble through a romantic relationship on screen.

“Oh?” Yamaguchi asked, a smile playing at his lips. “How the tables have turned.”

“Shut up, Yamaguchi,” Tsukishima intoned with no bite in his voice. “I’m just saying we all managed not to kill each other. We deserve something.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” Yachi piped up, before someone could argue with him.

“If anything, Yachi deserves a trophy for putting up with us.” Kageyama said, not taking his eyes off the screen.

Yachi blushed and reached across Hinata’s lap to ruffle Kageyama’s hair. “What should we do?”

Yamaguchi placed his head on her shoulder. “The usual?”

“But it needs to be special!” Hinata said. “We can’t just do what we always do.”

“What about Disneyland?” The four turned to stare at Tsukishima, who was balanced at the end of the bed. Yamaguchi knocked him, causing him to fall and hit the floor with a thud. “Ow! What–”

“Who are you, and what have you done with Tsukishima Kei?” Yamaguchi demanded.

“God, Tadashi. Stop being so dramatic,” he said, standing up. “All I said was that we should go to Disneyland.”

Hinata hid behind Yachi. “This Tsukishima is weird.”

“Are we going to do the matching clothes thing? Friends do that, right?” Kageyama asked.

“When did The King get so soft?”

“And… he’s back,” Yamaguchi announced. “I hope we all enjoyed Nice Tsukki, because he only surfaces once in a blue moon.”

“If we catch the earliest train, we could get there when the park opens,” Yachi mused, trying to reach the bowl of popcorn that had been set aside. “Gross, who dumped the gummy worms in here?”

“They were spilling all over the bed,” Kageyama interrupted quietly.

“I guess that’s fine,” she said, affection coloring her voice. “But they all fell to the bottom, so you’ll have to pick them out.”

“If we took the last train back, we could stay nine or ten hours in the park,” Yamaguchi said, still thinking of their possible Disney adventure. “That might be worth the cost.”

“Tobio’s right, though,” Hinata said, bouncing and shaking the whole bed. “We have to wear matching clothes!”

“We’re going to look ridiculous.”

“We have to prove the power of our friendship!” Hinata defended.

“We’ve been wearing matching uniforms for three years. What’s the harm?” Yamaguchi asked.

“Our uniforms are required. I’m not wearing some ridiculous matching outfit to Disneyland,” Tsukishima said with finality, settling back down to watch the movie.

(He wore the outfit).

to crow over, figurative: to triumph over.

The afternoon after they graduated, the five of them found themselves back in the gym. It was where they had first met, pulled together by fate and volleyball.

They stood blocking the doors, staring at a gym that was no longer theirs. Somehow, the silence between the five of them was comforting. Their hands naturally drifted together, until they were standing in a loose line, each of their hands gently clasped in one another’s.

“So…” Yamaguchi said, looking down at his shoes. “This is it.”

Tsukishima rolled his eyes. “We’re not dying. It’s only volleyball.” He pursed his lips as if to say more, but instead just sighed and looked around the gym, wistful nostalgia on his face.

“It’s not just volleyball,” Hinata said from the other side of Yachi. “It’s goodbye to the team. To Karasuno. To each other.”

“We’ll all be in Tokyo next year.”

“It’s not the same, Tsukki,” Yamaguchi said. “Kageyama and Hinata will be practicing for the National Team, Yachi wants to study abroad, and we’ll be going to different schools for the first time ever.”

“We should play volleyball!” Hinata said, running to grab the basket of balls, Kageyama following close behind.

“Come on Yachi,” Yamaguchi said, shrugging off his jacket and tossing it onto the sidelines. “You can’t call yourself a member of the Karasuno volleyball team, if you haven’t spiked one of Kageyama’s tosses.”

“We’re not supposed to practice in our school uniforms—”

“We’re not students anymore,” Tsukishima cut in. He looked her in the eyes and shook his head and repeated, “We’re not students.”

She sighed, wrapped her arms around herself, and smiled. “I guess you’re right.”

“Don’t worry about aiming,” Kageyama said, returning with a volleyball. “I’ll get it to you.”         

And, it was on their last day, that Yachi got to hit her first spike.

Once they had tired themselves out, they laid in a circle, heads together, bodies strewn out like spokes on a wheel. Staring up at the ceiling, each of them realized that this was the end. Silently, as if one, they got up and filed out of the gym. Yamaguchi handed her the keys, and Yachi locked up the gym one last time.

They stood together in silence, not entirely sure what to do.

“Race you to the bus stop!” Hinata shouted, breaking the moment. Kageyama, acting on ingrained instinct, followed close behind. The remaining three of them looked at each other, unsure if they should chase after them.

But they did.