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Yukigaoka Kids

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They end up going to the same high school completely by accident. Unlike Hinata, who’s raved about going to Karasuno since their first year, Izumi and Kouji had no set plan on where they wanted to attend after junior high. The three of them had been in the same class for their three years at Yukigaoka. When they entered their final year and started to study for entrance exams, it became clear that they all had very different goals.

Izumi’s mother just had another child and was already juggling a full time job and taking care of Izumi and his younger sister. He already resolved to help lighten the burden of his overworked mother and searched for nearby schools with good academic programs to shorten his commute.

Kouji looked for schools with strong soccer teams. He’s played soccer for as long as he could walk. His father was an avid soccer fan and Kouji grew up with the sport constantly around him. It was no wonder he spent his entire elementary school career on a little league team coached by his father and joined the soccer club in junior high. It was inevitable that he was going to play soccer in high school too.

As for Hinata, the moment anyone asked about his future plans after junior high, he’d be spouting off about “the small giant,” “Karasuno high school,” and “I’m going to be the next ace!” at rapid fire speed until the poor sap who asked found a way to sneak off from the excited boy.

The three of them had vastly different plans for high school and they all knew they would be separated. In the spring of their graduation, when they parted ways with diplomas in hands, they figured they wouldn’t see each other for a while.

Until Kouji’s and Izumi’s paths converged once more nearly a month and a half later.


“Oi, Yukitaka! Hold on a minute!”

Izumi slows down and pauses for his classmate to catch up with him. He’s doubled over, wheezing, and clutching his side but still has enough energy to raise his head and grin up at him. “G-glad I caught you!”

Izumi laughs in response and scratches the back of his neck. “What is it?”

“Have you eaten lunch yet?”

He shakes his head. “I was about to head to the cafeteria righ—“

“Here!” The plastic bag held limply by his side is thrust into Izumi’s surprised hands. It’s overflowing with bread from the school store. “Thanks for lending me your homework earlier! I would’ve been dead if sensei found out!”

Izumi glances down at the bag in his arms. “It was no big deal. I don’t really need this much br—“

Before he could finish his sentence, his classmate dashes off. “You’re a lifesaver, Yukitaka! I hope that’s enough for lunch,” he yells over his shoulder and leaves Izumi alone in the corridor with a plastic bag full of bread too much for one person.

“You say that but I don’t think I can even eat half of this.” Izumi sighs but he opens a package of melon bread and takes a bite as he starts walking again. The ;ate spring heat is sweltering and Izumi wants to find some shade to peacefully eat his lunch. It’s too hot to stay inside the classrooms, even if all the windows are open.

Just as he’s about to enter the courtyard, he hears a deep groan come from the school store a few feet away.

“What do you mean there’s no more buns?”

The shrill voice of the elderly lunch lady makes Izumi wince. “Exactly what I said! We’re sold out! Try again another day!”

“I know that but then how am I supposed to eat lunch then? I don’t have enough money to get something from the cafeteria.”

“You ignorant boy!” And the lunch lady lets loose a tirade on the poor dark haired youth that doesn’t look like it’ll end any time soon.

Izumi takes pity on the teen and before he loses his nerve, he steps up, wrenches the back of the boys untucked button up shirt, and drags him to the side exit. “Sorry! I have something important to discuss with him!” He flinches when the old lady’s voice only intensifies and now she’s spewing insults at him. Well, he won’t be shopping there anytime soon. At least he has enough bread to tide him over till next winter.

When the metal doors swing shut behind them, the two boys let out a sigh of relief. Izumi lets go of the boys shirt and says, “Sorry about that. Just thought you needed some rescue.”

The boy laughs and turns to properly face Izumi. “Don’t worry about that. I’m actually grateful—Izumi?”



Kouji tears into another package of bread—this time, red bean paste—with gusto. On his lap are the wrappers of the one’s he’s already devoured. Izumi, sat next to him, looks on with wide eyes. The melon bread in his hands is only half finished.

“I’m surprised. I thought you went to another school,” Kouji says after he swallows his last bite. Izumi gapes at him. They've only been separated for a few weeks but when did Kouji's stomach turn in a black hole?

“What about you? Miyashita High School isn’t well known for their soccer team.”

Kouji shrugs. His sharp eyes make their way to the plastic bag settled between them and Izumi makes an exasperated noise but gives the okay to let Kouji take another.

“Well,” he says while he opens the package of a Hokkaido cream bun, “even though the other schools had stronger teams, when I watched this schools soccer practice, they felt like a team. They’re rough around the edges but they’re seriously aiming to go to nationals and the couch is really dedicated too.”

“Besides…” Kouji’s cheeks are tinted pink and he avoids Izumi’s probing stare. “…my dad went here.”

“Youre so cute, Kou-chan,” Izumi coos and pinches Kouji’s cheeks. He irritably swats Izumi’s hands away and hides his face with his cream bun.

“Whatever. What about you? I don't think you live near here. I thought you wanted to help your family and stay close.”

“Actually, I just moved recently. My dad got a promotion back in September so when I graduated, we moved closer to his office. It actually works out better this way since he can spend more time at home.”

“Does that mean you joined the basketball club?”

Izumi stills for a moment but eventually answers. Kouji’s hooded eyes look at him carefully as he listens.

“I turned in my club application the second week of school but I don’t have enough time to devote myself to it. The captain understood and still let me join but I’m more of a secondary member if anything. There's no chance I'm ever gonna become a starting member.”

“Well, I understand what you mean.”

Izumi laughs and nudges Kouji’s side with his elbow. “What are you talking about? Soccers practically in your blood. You can easily see the difference between us.”

It was true. They’ve always been a bit short for their age and between graduation and now, Izumi only grew a couple of centimeters. Kouji, however, seemed to have shot up like a weed and is nearly a full head taller that Izumi. He’s more muscular too, legs sturdy and strong, and he’s tanned from hours of practice in the unrelenting sun.

Izumi continues on.” I just thought, I spent three years of junior high on basketball. It didn’t seem right just to quit now. Even playing a little bit is better than not playing at all.”

At this, the two fall silent. No doubt that they were thinking the same thing—the third member of their little group. Kouji is the one who breaches the topic.

“Have you heard from Shouyou at all?”

Izumi nods. “A little bit. It’s been a bit hectic with the new school year so I couldn’t really keep in touch—explains why we’ve only met up till now—but he sends me texts occasionally. He told how he’s training with the volleyball team and a proper setter for the InterHigh coming up.”

Kouji snorts and languidly stretches out his limbs. “I get those too. He complains about this asshole setter and in the same sentence, compliments his amazing skills.”

“I’m glad,” Izumi says with a smile, “that Shou-chan has a full-sized team now. If anyone deserves it, it’s him.”

The warning bell rings out and the two friends get up from their place below the massive oak tree and clean up their trash.

“We should call him and hang out all together again,” Izumi says while they walk back to their respective classrooms. “It’s been too long since we’ve been together again.”


From Hinata:
How laaame!! You guys didn’t kno you were in the same hgih school?? LOosers
Sent: 5/12/14 8:36 pm

From Hinata:
I’m jeeeeealous you guys get to eat lunch every day! It’s just me and dumb kags over here :(
Sent: 5/18/14 12:07 pm

From Hinata:
Sent: 5/21/14 5:56 pm

From Hinata:
we should meet up!1!! it’s been so long we should get bbq or cake or BOTH
Sent: 5/23/14 9:23 pm

From Hinata:
Sent: 5/27/14 11:09 pm

From Hinata:
todays the day were gonna win and go to nationals
Sent: 6/2/14 6:02 am

From Hinata:
Imim raedy im shkaving wjht exicramnt
Sent: 6/2/14 7:39 am

From Hinata:
WE GOT THROUGH ROUND 1 the ball feels so good in my hand its like buuuwaahh and gwwwaawp and it went svwissssh through the air!! Kags really is the best that asshole!
Sent: 6/2/14 9:42 am

From Hinata:
Sent: 6/2/14 2:07 pm

From Hinata:
go go lets go lets go dateko is so catchy I cant get it out of my head
Sent: 6/2/14 2:09 pm

From Hinata:
Sent: 6/2/14 4:22 pm

From Hinata:
we lost.
Sent: 6/3/14 10:17 am


“Shou-chan won’t text me back,” Izumi says during lunch one day. Kouji looks up from his bento (“Aren’t you supposed to be an athlete? You can’t just eat sweets all the time, it’s not healthy!” Izumi complained) and shakes his head, cheeks stuffed with rice. He swallows thickly and licks a spare grain off his lips.

“He stopped texting me after they lost a few days ago,” Kouji says and Izumi frowns. He glances down at his phone and reads the last text he got from Hinata.

we lost.

“I’m worried,” Izumi admits as he closes his flip phone and slips it back into his pants pocket. “Normally Shou-chan won’t stop texting me but now he hasn’t sent a word.”

“You saw the news right?” Kouji says.

“Well yeah but—“

“Then you should now Shouyou needs to work this out on his own. They went for three full sets and lost after going up to thirty points. That’s bound to be frustrating.”

Kouji puts the lid back on his bento box—only to pull out another bento from his bag.

“Now’s the time he decides if he’s going to wallow in self pity or work even harder. And knowing Shouyou, he’ll be back on his feet and we’ll be getting a play by play of his new training regime.” Kouji snorts into his bento. “Seriously, what does ‘gwappah’ mean? My mom’s getting mad at me for my phone bill because of him.”

“Still…” Izumi trails off.

“You’re such a mom.”

“Shut up.”


From: Hinata
I get to goto TOKYO!! Training camp with Nekoma next month :DDDD
Sent: 6/6/14 9:47 pm

From: Hinata
we’re gonna win. we’re gonna beat the grand king and go to spring high with the third years I promise
Sent: 6/6/14 9:53 pm

From: Hinata
I have to pass final exams to go to tokyo……………………
Sent: 6/7/14 7:25 pm

From: Hinata
Sent: 6/7/14 7:29 pm

From: Hinata
tsukishimas so mean how am I supposed to study like this?? halp me
Sent: 6/9/14 8:14 pm

From: Hinata
Yachi-san is so smart!! Her notes are so nice i hope she becomes our new manager
Sent: 6/11/14 12:39 pm

From: Hinata
TWO MANAGERS Yachi-san has joined us!!
Sent: 6/14/14 5:53 pm

From: Hinata
It doesn’t who, were gonna beat everyone and come out on top, even if its japan
Sent: 6/14/14 9:46 pm


“Wow, Shou-chan! You look so cool!”

Izumi and Kouji crowd around Hinata’s phone. It’s a bit blurry and not centered properly but it’s unmistakably Hinata on the poster, who seems to be soaring, cutting through air getting ready for a powerful spike.

Hinata gives a sheepish grin with cheeks red and hand rubbing the back of his unruly orange hair. He puffs out his chest slightly and upturns his nose, “That’s right, huh? Huh? I’m super cool, right?”

“I can’t believe your new manager made this poster. It looks like it was made by a professional. How cool.”

“Yachi-san took a picture of me while we were practicing.” Hinata is practically preening in the praise.

“Don’t let it get to you head, you’re still a shrimp,” Kouji says as he cuffs the back of Hinata’s head. Hinata still rubs his head, but for an entirely different reason now.

The café they chose to get together was the same one they frequented back when they attended Yukigaoka. The old man who ran the place recognized them and greeted them kindly before leading them to their preferred table in the back corner of the establishment near the windows. The ambiance was nice, refined woodwork and vintage photographs lining the walls, and the staff was friendly and didn’t mind their occasional outbursts. What really sold them, however, was the relatively inexpensive prices of the cakes and drinks they sold here.

Hinata sticks his tongue out at him. “It’s only because you doubled in size!”

Izumi laughs and stirs another packet of sugar into his coffee. “You should see him at lunch. He eats three entire bentos by himself and then pesters me for some of my food!”

“I’m in my growth period,” Kouji mumbles through a bite of chocolate mousse. “I grew seven centimeters in the past two months. My bones hurt.”

“I’m so envious…” Hinata gapes at him and there are sparkles in his eyes. Kouji flushes to the very tips of his ears before he scarfs the rest of his mousse and calls out to the nearby waitress that he’d like a slice of lemon meringue pie.

“You’re pretty impressive yourself, Shou-chan!” Izumi exclaims. He’s looking at the photo on Hinata’s phone critically. “A second small giant. It looks like your jump has gotten even higher!”

Hinata was going to short circuit if Izumi kept it up. He sways dangerously in his seat, cheeks alight and eyes round with delight. “I-Izumin!” He exclaims and wraps his arms around Izumi’s shoulder and nuzzles into his neck.

“S-shou-chan! What are you doing? You’re causing a scene!”

“Thank you. I’d also like the fruit tart in the display case in a to go box for when we leave.”

“Izumin!” Hinata sputters out. “I miss you so much!”

He looks up and casts his sorrowful gaze to Kouji. “Kouji! You too! I miss you too!”

“I-idiot,” Kouji spits out but there’s no real malice in his tone. Hinata just gives him a tearful smile and Izumi takes advantage of his distraction to detach Hinata’s limbs from his body and settle him back into his chair.

“We’re always here for you, Shou-chan!” Izumi chimes out. “Besides, you’re always telling us of your teammates and how cool they are.”

Hinata brightens up and nods enthusiastically. “My senpai’s are so cool. Noya-san has this ‘rolling thunder’ and it’s so cool! And Tanaka-san and Asahi-san’s spikes are so powerful! I want to become like them!”

Kouji nods in understanding. “I know what you mean. The senpai in my club are so experienced. Getting to practice with them is really great!”

Hinata nods so fast, he’s nothing but a blur of orange hair. “Yes! Exactly! I learn so much from them.”

“Both of you are so excited,” Izumi remarks with a fond smile. “It makes me miss being involved in a sports club."

“But who’s really great is Kageyama—that bastard. He’s an asshole but he’s the best setter around! When he sets to me, I’m running like fwoosh and hit it like bwaah and it feel so good—“

Kouji shifts closer to Izumi to whisper in his ear. “Kageyama?”

“The setter he’s always texting us about. You know, Kags?”

Kags was a person?”

“Really? Of course he was!”

“I couldn’t tell since half the words he uses aren’t even words!”

“—and sometimes, when I’m in the air, I can see the entire side of the court and the blockers are so far behind—“

“So, it's good playing with him? Shou-chan?” Izumi interrupts.

Hinata beams at them. “It does!” He suddenly gets bashful and ducks his head. “When I play with Kageyama, I feel like I’m invincible. It’s like a wall has been opened up in front of me.”

“Well, this Kags person better appreciate you too or he’ll get what’s coming to him,” Kouji complains as he waves his fork in the air.


“Shouyou, get off!”

Izumi intervenes before it gets too messy. “Shou-chan, what about your training camp in Tokyo? How’s studying for final exams?”

All at once, the color drains out of Hinata’s face. His eyes glaze over and Izumi sees the individual beads of sweat forming on his brow.

“S-shouyou…are you okay?”

“I’m fine…”Hinata’s voice sounds distant and oddly quiet for such an exuberant young man. “I just remembered I have to sell my soul to the devil.”

“If you want,” Izumi tentatively offers, “we can go over to your place and help you study.”

It sends Hinata into another round of noisy tears and cuddling into Izumi’s side. Kouji calmly finishes his pie and calls for the check.


From: Hinata
21 in english.. 21
Sent: 6/24/14 3:02 pm

From: Hinata
i’m still going no matter what. Rematch against Nekoma!!
Sent: 6/24/14 3:14 pm

From: Hinata
Saeko-neesan is so cool! As expected of a senpai’s sister!
Sent: 6/26/14 12:11 pm

From: Hinata
Saeko-neesan knew the small giant!1!!!!1 she went to school with him!
Sent: 6/26/14 12:42 pm

From: Hinata
How unfair!! That 194 cm is wasted on him. Stupid lev
Sent: 6/26/14 8:57 pm

From: Hinata
kags just doesn’t understand.
Sent: 6/27/14 3:06 pm

From: Hinata
iwant to get better im no good this way i have to get stronger i need to get stronger
Sent: 6/27/14 8:49 pm

From: Hinata
Everyone’s training to get bettr!! I won’t lose. I’m going to work with couch ukai and hit everyones toss!
Sent: 6/30/12 3:14 pm


“One more time!”

“Again?” Izumi sighs. Hinata won’t relent though and he eagerly bounces on his heels as he anticipates Izumi’s response.

“Whatever,” Izumi scoffs. “I should’ve known something was up when you called me to meet up out of the blue like this. Come on, let’s go!”

“Alright!” Hinata exclaims as he fist pumps and jumps high in the air. His foot nearly hits Izumi in the chin but all Izumi could do is roll his eyes and collect the battered volleyball on the other side of the court.

“I thought I would no longer have to toss to you after you joined the volleyball club,” Izumi complains. The volleyball is tucked underneath his armpit as he takes his place near the net. They’re in Hinata’s backyard, using the weathered volleyball net Hinata set up back in his first year of junior high. On the back porch, Natsu and Izumi’s little sister, Hana, are laying on their stomachs and coloring quietly.

Hinata claps his hands together and bows his head. “Sorry, Izumin! I have to get better at hitting all kinds of people’s toss! Please help me out!”

“You always forget that I don’t actually play volleyball. I’m not exactly good at this.”


Izumi clicks his tongue and gets into position. “You’re lucky I had nothing to do today or you’d be doing this by yourself!”

“I’m really grateful!” Hinata shouts and Izumi can’t get mad at him because Hinata really is. Hinata’s nothing but honest and earnest and wanting to improve as much as he can. It’s admirable, really.

“Here we go,” Izumi says and he lobs the ball over to Hinata.

Hinata races forward and receives it, sending it back Izumi’s way, before running forwards and preparing to jump.

Izumi gets beneath the ball and with his fingertips, passes the ball to Hinata, already waiting in the air. The toss is a bit short but Hinata adjusts so his right arm stretches out and connects, the ball dropping to the ground on the other side.

“That felt good!” Hinata exclaims and Izumi grins. He whips around, brown eyes gleaming, and asks, “Izumi? Did you practice tossing? That felt really good!”

Izumi blushes and turns away. “Of course not, I play basketball,” he grumbles. Hinata shrugs and picks up the ball.

Izumi wouldn’t admit it but he has been practicing. He couldn’t help it. He only needed to look at a volleyball and it made him remember the wide open gym, the crowd cheering in the stands, and volleyballs sailing overhead—the only volleyball game he played in his entire sports career.

He remembers tossing to Hinata (“Go, Shou-chan!”) and feeling the thrill coarse through his chest as he saw Hinata there to spike it, only to be disappointed as it was knocked by the intimidating blockers on the other side of the net. (“One more time! We’ll get the ball to you, Shou-chan!” he called out but would he really? Wasn’t it Shou-can getting to the ball, not the other way around?) So he practiced, because playing on the same team with Hinata gave him a surge of excitement he never felt in basketball and if he could be a proper teammate to Hinata at least once, he’ll be satisfied.

“One more time,” Hinata proclaims and throws Izumi the ball. Izumi doesn’t say a word because he knows that one more time will morph into three more times, to five more times, to ten more times, till the suns down and Izumi has to carry his sleepy sister back home before the last train leaves.

“Get ready!” Izumi calls out and throws the ball to Hinata. The receive is clean and Izumi doesn’t have to move too much to get under the ball. Izumi glances at Hinata, who’s prepared to spring into the air, and visualizes where Hinata’s hand, ready to spike, will be and tosses it there.

The toss isn’t perfect. It’s too low and the arc isn’t as clean as it should be but sails in front of Hinata at just the right angle for him to spike it down on the opposite side of the court.

Izumi is breathless as he watches Hinata land and turn to face him. His eyes are wide and uncomprehending but when he understands what just transpired, an ecstatic grin blooms over his face and he barrels into Izumi, jumping up and down. “Did-you-see-that? That-was-great-lets-do-that-again-it-felt-amazing—“ and Izumi lets himself be swept away in the unstoppable freight train that was Hinata Shouyou and laughs merrily with him.

“Nii-chan!” Natsu calls out. Hinata turns to his younger sister and sees her waving at him with both arms. At her feet is tray of tall glasses of lemonade and Hana is already sitting down enjoying her glass. “Kaa-san brought her drinks!”

“We can drink later! Izumin, lets try that again—“

“Shou-chan, come on,” Izumi says as he wraps fingers around Hinata’s wrist and pulls him to their sisters. “It’s time for a break”

“Ehh, but—“

As much as Izumi wants to toss to him again, he knows that he won’t be able to recreate that moment and instead settles for basking in the sunlight with a glass of lemonade in his hand and a beaming Hinata by his side.


Kouji orders another bowl of miso ramen—this time, with extra fish cakes—before he even finishes his current one. Hinata is already finished, bowl and chopsticks taken away by waitress, and sips at his water while he watches Kouji with avid curiosity. He could have eaten more but after practice with the Old Coach Ukai, he was treated to lunch and he ate until he was stuffed. Granted, it was only onigiri but it was the first time Old Coach Ukai gave him something and he wasn’t going to let it go to waste.

“You appetite is amazing,” Hinata exclaims and Kouji pauses, noodles centimeters away from his mouth.

“I’m in my growth period,” Kouji says before slurping the noodles. He’s grown another half centimeter since he last saw Hinata and his joints ache and creak with effort to keep up with the changes. His doctor remarks that his growth was remarkable but Kouji doesn’t feel that way. He feels awkward and gangly with disproportionate limbs and sometimes, if he isn’t careful, he runs into low-hanging tree branches when he walks home. And he feels hungry. Constantly hungry.

“It must be nice,” Hinata says with a pout, “being so tall and all.”

“I guess so,” Kouji says. “Height doesn’t matter too much in soccer. Well, maybe for headers, I guess.”

“It does in volleyball!” Hinata whines and kicks his feet under the counter. He slumps forward into his arms and looks up at Kouji. “I want to be tall.”

“I thought height didn’t matter in volleyball.”

“Of course, it matters! How are you supposed to—“

“I meant that I thought height in volleyball didn’t matter to you.”


Kouji thanks the chef as he places a piping hot bowl of ramen in front of him. He snags a fishcake on top and gobbles it one gulp before he turns to face Hinata.

“I mean, you’re always saying that it didn’t matter how tall you were because even though you’re short, you can make up for it with your jump. Are you saying you don’t believe in your jump anymore?”

Hinata sputters. “N-no, I’m not saying that at—“

“Then being tall like me shouldn’t matter too much, then, right?” Kouji arches his brow and gives a crooked smile.

Hinata wordlessly opens and closes his mouth before his entire face lights up in a smile. “You’re so cool, Kouji!”

Kouji grumbles and turns to face his ramen. “Shut up, idiot, I’m not cool.”

“No, no! You’re the coolest!”


“Hey, hey! Kouji! Why don’t you—“

“I’m not tossing for you.”

Hinata puffs his cheeks out in distaste and crosses his arms in front of his chest. “Why not?”

“Because I’m a soccer player. Because I’m not a volleyball player. Because I don’t want to.”


“How come you don’t ask Izumi instead?”

The orange-haired boy visibly deflates. “He’s busy watching his brother and sister.”

Kouji slurps at his broth and smacks his lips before he reaches for his half empty glass of water.

“Then, why don’t you ask that Kags kid or whatever? Isn’t he supposed to be your official setter-tosser person or whatever?”

If it was even possible, Hinata crumples into himself even more. His eyes are stony and he sulks on the bar stool of the local ramen bar they were eating at with arms crossed in front his chest and legs petulantly kicking beneath the counter..

“I can’t hit his tosses. Not yet anyway.”

Kouji’s eyebrows furrow together and he scratches at the nape of his neck. Hinata seemed determined, no, resolved not to hit his setter’s tosses.

“How come?” Kouji leans in towards Hinata and cocks his head, for once curious. “All you do is rave about how good it feels to spike with him tossing to you. Why is it different now?”

Hinata turns red and mumbles under his breath. Kouji leans in even closer and makes a show putting his hand to his ear. “Huh? What was that?”

“I said that I won’t hit his tosses until I become better!” Hinata bursts out and he’s blushing as bright as the roots of his hair.

“Until you get better? Is that Kags kid saying how you’re not good enough for him?” Kouji has some skulls to break if someone’s saying they’re too good for Hinata. No one’s too good for Hinata. It was the other way around. Hinata is too good for everyone else.

“No! No! It’s not that.” Hinata heaves a heavy sigh. “It’s not that. It’s me.”

Kouji puts down his chopsticks and directs his full attention to his bright haired companion. “Hey. What’s eating you?”

Hinata chews on his bottom lip before he sighs and decides to let it all out.

“I know the only reason I’m a regular on the team is because of Kageyama. Even when I’m closing my eyes, I can hit the ball perfectly because of him. Our quick strike works because of him. I don’t do anything. He’s just enabling me to hit that quick. If we just do that, we’re not going to be able to win. I want to go the Spring High with the rest of my teammates and to do that, I need to become stronger so I can fight on my own. So it’s no longer just Kageyama who works but me too.”

Hinata draws in a shaky breath. “That’s why I’m not going to hit his toss until I can become stronger on my own. It’s not fair to him if he has to shoulder all the work. I’ll hit his toss when we’re on even footing—when we’re true partners.”

Kouji lets out a small smile at Hinata’s words and lifts his hand to ruffle his hair, who irritably bats it away. Kouji doesn’t understand volleyball. Even being with Hinata for three years, Kouji doesn’t understand the rules or positions or how it’s played. But Kouji does play soccer and he understands Hinata’s thirst for growth. To become the strongest person he could be in order to help his teammates.

“There’s no shame in wanting to become stronger,” Kouji says. “That’s admirable. Not everyone could be able to admit that they need to grow. The only thing you can do is practice, practice, practice until you feel ready to his that kage-whatevers toss.”

Hinata shyly smiles up at him. “Does that mean—“

“No, I’m not tossing to you.”

Kouji can’t contain his laugh as Hinata’s frustrated groan echoes through the tiny ramen bar.


From: Hinata
{attached file: img; Tokyo Tower}
Sent: 7/18/14 7:02 am

From: Hinata
Nvmind it’snot tokyo tower
Sent: 7/18/14 7:06 am

From: Hinata
maybe its’ cause I havent hit it in a while but his toss feels…different
Sent: 7/18/14 9:35 am

From: Hinata
Sent: 7/18/14 8:27 pm

From: Hinata
Sent: 7/19/14 7:58 pm

From: Hinata
i thought i was trying to get better to hit his tosses..why does it feel like its the other way around??
Sent: 7/20/14 8:05 pm

From: Hinata
Sent: 7/20/14 11:29 pm

From: Hinata
Sent: 7/22/14 10:40 pm

From: Hinata
25 to 23 soo clooose we will beat fukurodona next time!!
Sent: 7/22/14 2:14 pm

From: Hinata
still!! our new quick strikei sso great!!
Sent: 7/22/14 2:18 pm

From: Hinata
Sent: 7/22/14 5:49 pm


“You think this is a good idea? What if he’s busy? Spring High Preliminaries are coming up in a few weeks.”

Izumi waves him off with a laugh. “It’s fine. Hinata said his practice was going to end early today. There’s nothing wrong in trying to meet up with him on his way back.”

Kouji scoffs and wipes off the sweat on his brow with the back of his hand. Despite all the sunscreen his mom nags for him to put on, it’s useless against the hours of practice in the scorching sun. His skin is a tanned golden brown and his dark hair has lightened several shades.

“There will be something wrong if we came out all this way and it turns out to be useless.”

Izumi jabs him in the side and Kouji winces, rubbing circles into the tender spot. “It’s summer break. You didn’t have practice today. What’s the problem?”

Kouji grumbles under his breath but dutifully follows after Izumi. It’s late in the evening and the setting sun illuminates the sky into a swirl of dazzling orange-pink clouds. The pair weren’t familiar with the area and it would do more harm than good if they tried to find Hinata with no clue where he was.

Izumi stops at the street corner and pulls out his phone.

“Now you do it,” Kouji mutters and Izumi ignores him in favor of scrolling through his contacts and clicking the one named “Shou-chan”

He picks up on the second ring.

“Hello? Izumin? Is something the matter?”

“No, nothing like that. Where are you right now?”

Hinata makes a noise of confusion but answers anyway. “At the Foothill Store with my teammates. Why are you—“

“Ahh, that’s just up ahead! Thanks, see you later!”

“Eh, what—“

Izumi hangs up the phone before Hinata could finish his sentence. He pockets his phone before he turns and grins at Kouji and beckons him to follow. “Come on, he’s just this way!”

“Whatever,” Kouji says but his pace quickens and they hurry towards the Foothill Store.

They see Hinata before he sees them. He’s in the middle of a large group of boys all wearing the same black athletic uniform but he’s easy to pick out with his shock of orange hair. He’s animatedly talking to a boy with bleached bangs even shorter than him while he finishes the remains of his popsicles. Even from a distance, they can see the blue dye stain his lips and tongue.

Izumi breaks out into a run before and he knows it, shouting “Shou-chan!” and waving his arm around. It’s only been about two weeks since Karasuno’s second training camp excursion and Izumi has gone longer without seeing his junior high friend but his inbox has been flooded with messages about their new quick strike, his teams new attack strategies, and his setters new unbelievable toss. His enthusiasm radiates from his (often misspelled) words but Izumi kind of wants to hear in his own effervescent voice.

“I-Izumin! Kouji!” Hinata breaks away from his group, all staring curiously at the two first years making their way over, and runs up to them chattering. “What are you guys doing here? You should’ve told me you were coming!”

Izumi grins and flashes a peace sign. “We wanted to surprise you.”

“He wanted to surprise you,” Kouji corrects but he can’t hide the small smile playing on his lips.

“Hinata?” A silvery haired boy interrupts. “Are these friends of yours?”

A tall boy with a shaved head and the short one with bleached bangs immediately stand in front of Hinata and crumple their faces into glares.

“Yeah,” Tanaka gruffs out and bares his teeth. “Are these your friends, Hinata?”

“Yeah,” Nishinoya follows up. “Are they?”

After a moment’s pause, Suga hits them both at the back of the head with a resigned sigh. “Are you idiots? Didn’t you just hear Hinata greet them?”

“Suga-san!” Hinata exclaims and breaks through the wall of second years. “Sorry. These are my friends from junior high, Izumin and Kouji!”


“You can just call me Izumi!”

Nishinoya’s and Tanaka’s glares melted away as if they weren’t trying to kill the two first years with their eyes in the first place. They sling an arm around the two and jostle them around with a laugh.

“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” Tanaka chortles as he ruffles Kouji’s hair. Kouji, face clearly screaming he was uncomfortable, stands stiffly still.

“Because you didn’t give him the chance in the first place,” Suga sighs as he smacks away Tanaka’s arm. Kouji gives him a grateful smile and discreetly hides behind him.

“Any friend of Shouyou is a friend of ours!” Nishinoya says as he saddles up to Izumi.

“You must by Noya-san!” Izumi says. “Shou-chan always talks about you’re the best libero around!”

Nishinoya’s cheeks flush as he squeezes Izumi even tighter and shakes him vigorously. “Oh really? You’re not too bad yourself. Listen, you can just call me Noya-senpai! Huh? Huh? What do you think?”

Daichi cuts him off from answering by directing a question to the two boys. “Were you on the volleyball team with Hinata? I think I recognize you two from the match we saw Hinata in last year.”

Izumi ducks his head and rubs the back of his neck. Kouji avoids eye contact altogether, suddenly interested in the specks of dust on his shoulder.

“Ah, you saw us,” Izumi say with a bashful smile. “We don’t play volleyball. We just filled in because there weren’t enough members. I played basketball and Kouji is in the soccer club.”

Tanaka lets out boisterous laugh, his whole entire body shaking. “I remember that! That was embarrassing to watch!”

Kouji scowls and fights down the twitch threatening to take over his face. “Like he said, we don’t play volleyball. It looked even worse because we were matched up with that monster of a middle schooler, the Kin—“

The bell attached to the Foothill Store rings as the store swings open. The “King of the Court” steps out with an ice scream sandwich in his hand and a disinterested look on his face. He spots Izumi and Kouji, both who have visibly blanched at the sight of him, and begins to ask “Who—“

Kageyama can’t even get another word out before Izumi hisses—actually hisses—and wrenches Hinata from his place next to Daichi to put behind him like a mother protecting her newborn cub. Kouji quickly steps in front of his two friends and acts as a barrier despite the fact he’s trembling like a leaf. “Get away,” he threatens but his voice cracks and there are already beads of perspiration running down his temples.

Tsukishima has to physically hold on to Yamaguchi to keep upright with the force of his laughter.

“Shou-chan!” Izumi squeaks. He clears his throat and continues in a shaky voice. “What is that guy doing here?”

“What’s going on?” Kageyama asks and he dodges Kouji in an effort to get closer to Hinata. Kouji steps directly in his path and he flinches at Kageyama’s glare. Kouji might be in is growth period but Kageyama is still several centimeters taller than him and his menacing stare leaves him shaking.

“Y-your cold dead eyes don’t scare me!”

Kinoshita, hanging on the fringe of the group with the other second years, leans over to Ennoshita. “Do you know what happening?”

“Not in the slightest but if this continues, Tsukishima won’t be able to stay on his feet.”

The aforementioned is choking on his own laughter and his glasses were slipping down his nose with each tremor of his tall body. Asahi looks unsure if he wants to try and help Tsukishima or just run away from the situation entirely. He sweats nervously in the background instead.

“Izumin! Kouji! It’s fine!” Hinata protests.

“It’s not fine!” Izumi retorts. “Don’t you remember this asshole from last year’s InterHigh? The uppity King of the Court?”

(“Tsukishima,” Daichi warns when the other buries his face into Yamaguchi’s shoulder)

“Uppity?” Kageyama questions. He’s not angry as much as he’s confused at the current situation at hand.

“Of course I remember this asshole! Who can forget the face of someone who looks like he has stick up his ass all the time?”

(“I’ll take Tsukki home before he hurts himself. See you tomorrow at practice,” Yamaguchi says and the others bid him goodbye as he drags Tsukishima away)

“Oi! Hinata, you dumbass!” Kageyama attempts to stalk his way to a panicking Hinata but is stopped, once again, by Kouji, this time with a finger to the chest.

“You stay there,” Kouji warns.

“I’m saying he’s fine because he’s my teammate! This is Kageyama! The setter I’ve been telling you about.”



Tanaka slaps his knee as he heartily laughs. He slings his arm around mortified Kouji and gives him a good squeeze.

“You got guts, kid, that’s for sure! If I train you as my apprentice, you could be as threatening as I am! You play soccer right? Right? There’s nothing better than scaring your opponent till their quaking in the boots with just one look!”

Suga drags Tanaka away just as he slips email into Kouji’s immobile hand and calls out, “If you’re interested, just send me a text! I can teach your everything I know!”

“—these are my junior high friends! They were my teammates when I faced you last summer. Izumin, there’s nothing to worry about! It’s all water under the bridge.”

“Why is he glaring at me then?” Izumi says as he shiftily glances at the setter.

Hinata laughs and waves him off. “Oh he’s not glaring you. That’s just his default expression. He just has that kind of face.”

Izumi pauses for a moment, looks Kageyama up and down, before he sighs and offers his hand. “I’m sorry. That was our misunderstanding. My name is Yukitaka Izumi.”

Kageyama is staring critically at Izumi and, even though Hinata assures him that it’s just his face, he can’t help but be unnerved by Kageyama’s intense expression.

A flash of recognition pops up in Kageyama’s eyes. “You were that setter who messed up on that simple toss.”

Izumi grits his teeth. He takes it back. It wasn’t him or Kouji’s fault. Kageyama was just a douche bag.


While Izumi chats with Hinata and Daichi, Kouji slips away from Tanaka’s grasp (yet again) and settles next to Kageyama, who’s eating his half-melted ice cream sandwich.

Kageyama glances at him through the corner of his eyes. Kouji stares straight ahead, where Nishinoya is hanging off Asahi’s neck like he was a jungle gym and Tanaka is laughing his ass off, when he says, “I don’t like you.”

“I thought we already cleared everything up.”

Kouji nods. “We did. But I still don’t like you.”

“…can I ask why?”

“Do you remember what you said to Shouyou when our match finished?”

Kageyama keeps silent. Kouji continues on.

What have you been doing for three years?” Kouji quotes. The sun has set completely and the night borders on dusk. Stars begin to shine in the dusty sky and the moon hangs full above them. “What I want to ask is what gives you the right to think that’s something you can say?”

Kageyama draws in a breath.

“You don’t know what Shouyou did for those past three years. How hard he trained even though there was no coach or teacher or teammates to help him. He was all by himself but he still tried his best. And yet, you thought it was okay to doubt the efforts of something who’s tried his hardest. You weren’t there when Shouyou threw himself into training after that game. You didn’t understand what your question meant to him.”

“I’m sorry,” Kageyama quietly says.

“You should be.”

“I’m sorry,” Kageyama repeats.

“I’m not the one you should be apologizing to. Shouyou is your teammate now, right? He’s the one you have to make up to.”

Kouji sighs and rubs at the knots forming at the back of his neck. “You guys say you're going to start working as partners from now on. You better live up to that promise.”


From: Hinata
are you going to come to watch our match????!?
Sent: 8/9/14 5:38 pm

From: Hinata
you havent seenme play since jr. high!! you have to come
Sent: 8/9/14 5:44 pm

From: Hinata
tanaka-san told me to make sure kouji came he really wants him tocome
Sent:8/9/14 5:46 pm

From: Hinata
I want to show oyu our new quick strike1! Its sooo cool like BWAHH and GYUUUM
Sent: 8/9/14 5:49 pm

From: Hinata
if you can’t make it to our first match, come tour 2nd one!! It starts at 1 and i’ll definitely make sure we reach the 2nd round!
Sent: 8/9/14 5:53 pm

From: Hinata
our first matchis bout to start wishme luck!!
Sent: 8/11/14 9:45 am

From: Hinata
I TOLD YOu we were gonna win, now you have to keep your promise!
Sent: 8/11/14 11:37 am

From: Hinata
2mm2m2m2ml iwan lucifer dogifsh
Sent: 8/11/14 12:51 pm


“If you don’t hurry, we’re going to miss the match!

“I got it, I got it. Don’t nag. Do you know Shouyou meant when he texted lucifer dogfish?”

“Does it matter? Come on. They’re placing in Gym A.”

“Who knows? I sure don’t. I don’t understand half of Shouyou’s texts anyway.”

Izumi and Kouji hurry up the stairs. They dash around some of the volleyball players loitering on the top of the stairwell and rush to the viewing balcony entrance.

“Where are they?” Izumi pants as he scans the court.

“Over there,” Kouji points out, “on the left. Their cheering section is just at the end too.”

Compared to other larger schools, that had their other club members crowd around on the balcony, Karasuno’s cheering section was filled with an odd mish-mash of elementary school kid, old men, and a few uninterested spectators on the side.

“Good,” Izumi sighs as they dodge past some of the other murmuring viewers and take their place at the railing of the balcony next to a group of excitable young boys and a short blonde-haired girl in a black jersey. “It doesn’t look like it’s gone on for too long.”

“But look—they’re scoreless and already trailing by three points,” Kouji says. Izumi frowns and leans forward.

“You’re such a downer. It’s only the first set. Look! It’s Shou-chan! He looks so good in his uniform.”

“Doesn’t he look a bit—I dunno— off? The whole team does.”

It was true. Even from the distance, the Karasuno team seems frustrated and high-strung. Hinata in particular was gritting his teeth into a scowl as he yells out in irritation.

“Wow, so huge!”

“I can’t believe he’s over…”

“—and a first year as well? How unfair—“

“Is that #10 really gonna face off head to head to him?”

“He’s kind of short to be a volleyball—“

Izumi glowers at nothing in particular. “How rude,” Izumi said with a hmph.

“…I thought I was growing too fast…”

“Kouji? What are you—“

Izumi’s eyes trail to the other side of the court. A giant looms on the side of the net, calmly staring down his opponent.

“Height like that is a weapon in itself,” Kouji says. His expression his blank but his eyes twinkle with awe and wonder and fear.

Izumi remembers the only volleyball game they play together. He remembers looking up at the Kitagawa Daichi blockers in fright. They towered over him and Izumi remembers thinking “how are we supposed to get past them?” Hinata’s jump might be amazing but there’s no point if he can’t get past the imposing wall and score. This time, the wall was over two meters tall and Izumi isn’t sure how Hinata will fare

When Kakugawa, the opposing team, lets Karasuno score on a missed serve, only to wrench the point back with a killer spike, the bench signals for a time out and referee blows his whistle.

“Seems like Karasuno is stuck in a rut, huh?” Izumi overhears and he can’t help but agree. The players clad in black and orange huddle around their coach while they guzzle down water from their bottles.

Kouji clicks his tongue and sighs. “Where’s your faith, Izumi?”

Izumi sputters. “W-what?”

Kouji’s eyes are trained on Hinata, who’s talking lively with Nishinoya. “If anyone will be able to get past this, it’s Shouyou. Besides, if you look at his teammates, they’re not gonna give up.”

When the match is restarted and the giant spikes it over the net, Nishinoya receives it and puts it back in the air with a grin.

“Alright!” He yells out.

“Wow, Noya-san is so cool,” Izumi cries out and the kids next to him agree with excited cheers.

Kageyama jumps and tosses it to Hinata, who springs off of one leg and jumps diagonally into the space between the blockers. The giant reacts quickly though and with outstretched arms and a jump more classified as a hop, he impedes Hinata’s way so the spike turns into a fumble over the net. It’s a point but they won’t win that way.

“So close,” Izumi moans and he runs his hands through his light brown hair.”He almost spiked it!”

With narrowed eyes, Kouji watches a cool headed Kageyama say something to Hinata that sends him into panting, restless fit.

They see Nishinoya receive the ball and cut off its power with just his forearms. They see Kageyama jump to toss the ball. See Hinata soaring through the air as if he wasn’t bound by the laws of gravity. See the balls spiked down over the net before any of the blockers can even react.

It’s quiet all around them as the ball dribbles and rolls of to the side.

Then an outburst of noise from of the viewing balcony wrenches Izumi and Kouji from their dazed state.

“There it is! That “Super Quick Strike” from the InteHigh Prelims!”

“Wow,” Kouji breathes out as Hinata lets out a radiating smile that practically exudes satisfaction.

"When I play with Kageyama, I feel like I'm invincible," Hinata admits with a bashful smile.

When Hinata plays with Kageyama, he’s flying


The first set ends with 25-22 with Hinata scoring the match point with their inhuman quick strike.

Izumi and Kouji watch their friend with a breathless kind of anticipation. Each time Hinata jumps to spike, they wait with baited breath and flushed cheeks. They aren’t even playing on the court with him but each time Karasuno scores and cheers, a warm feeling akin to happiness expands in their chest.

The second set follows in a similar pattern. The giant of a first year is monstrous as he spikes and blocks with unyielding eyes but Karasuno is one step ahead. His overwhelming strength and stature fall short against Karasuno’s aggressive, calculated plays. They trained for this tournament; they poured in hours of sweat and tears to perfect their attacks and strategy. They weren’t going to let their hard work go to waste in the first day of preliminaries.

19 – 24. Karasuno’s match point.

Karasuno’s one touch prompts Asahi to dive to get it back in the air and Tanaka scrambles to cover it. There’s no set up for a quick strike and as Hinata watches the ball and runs towards the net, Izumi and Kouji unconsciously cling on to each other (not that they would admit it) with wide eyes.

“He’s not gonna make it,” Izumi whimpers and Kouji just tightens his grip on Izumi’s forearms.

The two meter giant is directly across from Hinata, arms up and knees poised to jump. He barely needs to jump off the ground for his hands to loom over the net. There was no way to Hinata to clear it past him. Hinata, however, didn’t seem deterred.

Hinata spikes the ball and it ricochets off of the blockers fingers. It sails past the rest of the Kakugawa team and they dove to keep it in play. The ball hits the ground around the same time Hinata falls to the ground on his back and his teammates swarm him in congratulations.
19 – 25. Karasuno’s win.


Izumi and Kouji catch up to Hinata at the exit of the gym where his team was waiting for their bus to arrive.

“Izumin! Kouji!” Hinata wails and he bounds his way to his friends on the tips of his toes. “Did you see? Did you see?”

“You’re so cool, Shou-chan!” Izumi praises. He’s practically bouncing as well and he and Hinata clasp hands as they talk.

“Really? Really really?”

“Of course! That last spike was amazing! I didn’t think you could’ve gotten it past him!”

Hinata preens and he’s almost the same shade of his fiery hair. He turns to Kouji, who’s standing off to their side with hands stuffed in his pockets.

“What did you think, Kouji?”

Kouji jerks back at being suddenly addressed and he has to avoid eye contact as Hinata leans in with sparkling eyes and tail wagging behind him.

“Well…you were pretty cool,” Kouji mumbles. “You’re like…a small giant. The way you got past that tall first year.”

“Kouji!” Hinata howls. There are tears are streaming down his face and his nose starts to drip. Kouji turns an ugly shade of maroon as he stammers his complaints.

“W-what are you—“He gets the wind knocked out of him when Hinata lets go of Izumi and barrels into his arm. He burrows into Kouji’s shoulder as he gurgles and sobs.

“Q-quit it! You’re getting snot everywhere!”

Tanaka laughs, open mouthed and shoulders shaking. He steps towards the pair, hand raised to clasp Kouji’s shoulder, and says “Looks like you got a—“but he can’t finish his sentence when Kouji’s face darkens, his narrow eyes sharpen, and his lips purse in distaste.

Tanaka lets his hand fall back to his side and walks back to Nishinoya, who’s doubled over in laughter and pointing at Tanaka. “Seems like your disciple has left you to the dust!”

Izumi watches fondly as Hinata nuzzles into Kouji, who’s red-faced and sputtering, but he knows that Kouji doesn’t mind when he grudgingly ruffles Hinata’s hair.

Hinata’s teammates have moved to the shade at the side of the building. They laze around and drink from their water bottles, no doubt tired from their matches today, and chat with one another. All but one.

“Kageyama,” Izumi acknowledges. He returns Izumi’s greeting with a curt nod.

“Good job on today’s match.”

“Thank you.” Kageyama seems to avoid Izumi’s eyes.

“Why don’t you go join the rest of your teammates?” He asks and Kageyama’s eyebrow twitches.

“I will…” Kageyama says but then he glances over to Hinata, who’s rubbing his cheek with a protesting Kouji, and Izumi understands.

“Hey, what do you think of Shou-chan?”

Kageyama’s eyes imperceptibly widen before he schools himself back into an expression of indifference. “He’s dumb. And obnoxious. And way too loud. He can’t even do the basics properly but he never shuts up about being the ace.”

Despite Kageyama’s harsh words, Izumi smiles and nods as a flash of recognitions lights in his eyes. All at once, he understands the meaning behind the surly-faced setter’s complaints.

“—but, you know, he can hit my tosses like nobody else so I’ll put up with him. I guess.”

Izumi laughs under his breath. “I’m not a volleyball player,” he remarks.

Kageyama furrows his brow. “I…know?”

Izumi continues on. “And I’m definitely not a genius setter like you. I spent all of junior high playing basketball. I joined the basketball club in high school because I didn’t want to waste those three years but I don’t even really have time for that.”

Kageyama patiently waits for Izumi to finish. Behind them, Daichi’s voice bellows out as he tells Nishinoya and Tanaka to stop messing around.

“But you know, if I let my guard down and played with Shou-chan earlier then that one, I probably would’ve transferred clubs and played with him.” Izumi turns his head and grins at Kageyama. “If I played volleyball on the same team as him, I would’ve become a setter just to toss to him. There’s no better feeling that being able to play with Shou-chan.”

“I…know.” This time, Kageyama’s words have a different meaning as he glances at Hinata, who’s in a choke hold by Kouji and shaken around like a rag doll. ("I'M NOT YOUR GIRLFRIEND, GET OFF ME!")

Izumi sighs and a half laugh escapes in the same breath. “But, I’m not a volleyball player. And I’m not on the same team with him. I can’t do that anymore.”

He scratches the top of his head and a sheepish smile overtakes his round face. “Since I can’t do that anymore, can I entrust him to you? Can you be the teammate that I never could be?”

Kageyama nods with a determined resolution. “Of course. I’m going to take him all the way to nationals.”

“Thank you, Kageyama,” Izumi says. “You’re not as bad as I thought.” Izumi steps forward to wrench Hinata from Kouji’s death grip.

“Sorry, Hinata. Kouji and I have to catch the train.”

“It’s alright, Izumin! Thanks for coming out to support us!” Hinatas smile is blinding and Izumi can’t help reaching forward to squeeze his shoulder.

“Keep on winning,” Izumi says. “Promise me you’ll keep on winning until you’re the only one standing on the court.”

“I will!” Hinata’s gaze burns with unwavering determination.

“Later, Shouyou.”

“See you around, Shou-chan!”

And the two leave, with Hinata eagerly waving them goodbye, Kageyama by his side, and his teammates behind him.


From: Hinata
Sent: 8/11/14 5:07 pm

From: Hinata
I’m going for bbq with my teammates!! we’re celebrating!
Sent: 8/11/14 5:12 pm

From: Hinata
hey hey hey will you come to the reps playoffs in October?????
Sent: 8/11/14 5:14pm

From: Hinata
If we win, we got to go to TOKYO for NATIONALSSS
Sent: 8/11/14 5:15 pm

From: Kouji
okay I will stop texting me
Sent: 8/11/14 5:28 pm

From: Izumi
We wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Sent: 8/11/14 5:36 pm