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The Prettiest Flower

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It happened during the second day of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Hinata Shouyou was walking happily through the corridors of the Ariake Arena, the huge stadium built for the Olympics. He was humming his toilet song and jumping with every stride, obviously in a good mood. It was understandable, the Japan men's national volleyball team had just won a very long and exhausting match against Spain. Hinata had let his team wait for him at the entrance of the stadium while he quickly went to the bathroom at Kageyama's request, this guy had not stopped harassing him because he had not gone there before the match. Hoshiumi had insisted on accompanying him on the pretext that the Spanish libero observed him strangely throughout the match and even after the final whistle. The redhead had just laughed before reminding his teammate that he was the Greatest Decoy, it was normal for a player from an opposing team to look at him.

Hinata finally arrived in front of the bathroom door, hardly found due to the many corridors, and entered. The interior was simple like a normal bathroom. He couldn't help but find the tiles shinier, sinks more expensive and even the mirrors cleaner than any other bathroom. Well, he was playing in the national team so no one could blame him for marveling at everything he sees like a child discovering the world for the first time. Stopping admiring how good the lights looked, Hinata relieved himself and washed his hands, - is the water clearer than other normal tap water? - glancing at his reflection in the mirror. Nothing unusual, hair still so orange, tan that didn't seem to want to go away and teeth as white as snow. After finishing, he took out of his jacket pocket a pretty handkerchief offered by Sakusa Kiyoomi to dry his wet hands. The man had berated him when he saw Hinata shaking his hands to remove the water and had given him a handkerchief the next day. The redhead thought he saw a blush on Sakusa's cheeks but the mask hiding half of his face made him unsure of what he had seen. The only thing he was sure was that he had found the dark haired boy very cute that day, handing him the handkerchief almost the same way a high school girl would give a love letter.

Hinata smiled affectionately at the memory of Sakusa's shyness before folding the handkerchief, on the right side, and putting it in his pocket. He left the bathroom hoping he had not made his team wait too long, some players like Atsumu or Bokuto have no patient when he abstained for a while. The young man was about to walk towards the exit of the stadium when his gaze met that of a stranger, breathless and seemed to be searching for something, standing at the other end of the corridor. The stranger's eyes widened as he suddenly hid his left hand behind his back like a child caught stealing a candy. Hinata saw him approach him slowly without making any sudden movement - did he think the Japanese was going to run away? - and as the distance between them narrowed, he could make out the stranger's face. Dark hair flipped to the left side, blue eyes almost gray, slightly tanned skin and perfectly shaved cheeks. He was handsome. He must have been very confident with such an advantageous physique but surprisingly, the man now one meter from Hinata, perhaps less, was nervous. The stranger nervously gripped the hem of his Spanish-colored jacket, rocking from one foot to the other, obviously hesitant to speak.

Wait, Spain? Hinata's gaze went down to the small flag on the man's jacket to indeed see the easily recognizable red and yellow colors. It made a click in the redhead's brain who finally understood that the person in front of him was not a stranger but the libero of the Spain men's national volleyball team, the same person that Hoshiumi found weird. Hinata regretted having declined Hoshiumi's offer to accompany him. He might have been an adult but the libero was six or seven centimeters taller than him and looked older, not to mention his very thick arms capable of breaking a bone if he wanted to. He froze when the Spaniard hesitantly pulled his left arm out from behind his back, a pink tinge forming on his cheeks. Hinata expected anything: a sharp knife, a threatening letter or, more probably, a marker so he could sign an autograph. He surely did not expect to see a beautiful bouquet of flowers appear in his field of vision. The bouquet consisted of large and pretty sunflowers accompanied by several small white flowers. It was all tied with a white silk ribbon and decorated with lace so fine you had to focus to see it. It was simple and beautiful at the same time.

"For y-you!"

Hinata's eyes widened when he heard the libero speak to him in Japanese even though he absolutely not spoke that language, you could deduce it from the difficulty with which he had to say a simple sentence. The redhead, in a daze, took the bouquet from the player's hands without taking his eyes off him. He recognized this bouquet, he had seen it in a fairly famous floral stand near to one of the gymnasiums at the back of the stadium. This is why the Spaniard looks so breathless, he had run right after the match to buy a bouquet and then came back hoping to run into Hinata in the corridors. The thought made the young man blush. He had received a few flowers from fans, or expensive bouquets from Kenma because "If I don't spoil you, who's going to do it?", but it was the first time he was so touched by the affection of a stranger, someone from an opposing team. Bathrooms had always been a sign of bad luck for him, he had met terrifying people more than once and these encounters sometimes haunted his dreams even years later. But not today. Hinata brought the bouquet to his nose, took a deep breath, the flowers smelled really good, before looking up at the libero as red as a tomato.

"Gracias!" he said with a warm smile, his cheeks red with happiness.

The man had made the effort to speak to him in Japanese, so why wouldn't he speak in Spanish? Everyone knows how to say "thank you" in Spanish. Hinata wanted to express his gratitude in this way and it looks like it worked considering the player's face. He was so red it was worrying. Atsumu often told him that his smile killed them every day, him and the rest of the team, but Hinata never really understood what the fake blond was talking about. Was his smile scary? Because the libero in front of him looked totally terrified. The red tint on his face had suddenly faded only to be replaced by a white color and his eyes seemed to be fixed on something behind the redhead's back. He watched in disbelief as the young man run as if his life depended on it without even looking back, leaving Hinata alone in the corridor with a bouquet of flowers in his hand.


Oh, he was not alone. The young man turned around quickly when the sound of a familiar deep voice reached his ears, causing him to jump in the process. No wonder the Spaniard ran so fast, Ushijima Wakatoshi was standing behind him, at the top of his hundred and ninety-two centimeters and imposing his terrifying aura. Willingly or unwittingly, no one could tell. "U-Ushijima-san!" Hinata tried not to appear too surprised but it was missed. Even though they were now on the same team, he could not help but jump or let out a cry of surprise whenever Ushiwaka suddenly appeared in a room. It was barely if he could stop himself from yelling "Japan". How embarrassing.

"You weren't coming back so Iwaizumi sent me to get you." said the taller one, pulling Hinata out of his thoughts. Thanks God he did not jump this time, but it was close. "I'm sorry! The libero from the team we just beat gave me a gift." The two marched towards the exit to join the rest of their team which had been waiting for a long time. The long, winding corridors were filled with people of all kinds: spectators, journalists, athletes and family members. However, everyone stood to the side to let the volleyball players pass. Ushijima was imposing without even wanting it. The thought that this scene looked like a wedding, Hinata with his bouquet of flowers walking alongside Ushiwaka and the crowd splitting in two to let them pass, appeared in the redhead's mind but he quickly shoved it away, his cheeks taking a pink tint. The dark olive-brown haired man slowly looked down at the hands of his teammate, who wore a happy and embarrassed look at the same time. "Do you like flowers?"

Surprised, Hinata lifted his head to meet green eyes looking deep into his own amber eyes. "Pretty" was the only thing that came to the smaller one's mind as he took the time to admire Ushijima's eyes. Their colors reminded him of the tofu patties with green olives that his mother loved to cook when she was in a good mood. Hinata blushed. Ushijima stopped walking. They both looked at each other for what seemed to be an eternity before the redhead finally looked down at the bouquet of flowers in his hands, one way to hide his embarrassment. "Y-yes, I like flowers very much. They're so pretty!" He ended his sentence with a happy little smile and tightens his grip on the bouquet. Ushijima narrowed his eyes. They started walking again but much slower this time, as if the two athletes wanted to extend the rare moment they were spending together.

"I can buy you flowers too." It was not a question, it was a statement.

Hinata almost tripped and crashed to the ground if he did not have such good reflexes allowing him not to meet the concrete under his feet which looked anything but comfortable. His cheeks were as colorful as his hair, he was blushing a lot today, and he turned his head to Ushijima for the second time in five minutes. The man did not seem at all embarrassed about what he had said, simply watching his teammate's reaction with a blank face. "Um... T-that would be ni-...."

"What are you going to buy him, Wakatoshi-kun?" Ushiwaka and Hinata turned at an intersection to come face to face with Sakusa signing an autograph for a young man, Komori standing a few steps behind him. Ushijima blinked. "Flowers" he said, stopping right in front of the dark haired boy. Sakusa did not seem to like the way his rival had spoken, as if it was obvious he was going to buy a present. He grimaced. He completely forgot the fan in front of him who beamed with happiness at having been able to get an autograph from the great volleyball player Sakusa Kiyoomi, turning away so that he could fix his tired black eyes into the intimidating green ones. Hinata, feeling the atmosphere suddenly become heavier, went silently to stand next to Komori who was looking at his bouquet with a mixture of admiration and envy. He wrapped an arm around his shoulder, leaning all his weight on the redhead's muscular body and brought his mouth close to his ear, his nose brushing orange strands smelling surprisingly good. "What is it? Has anyone confessed to you?"

The libero's warm breath on his ear made Hinata laugh softly. "No, a Spanish player just gave it to me."

"Huh, no confession then?"

"Komori-san!" They both laughed as Komori tightened his grip on the Number Ten's shoulders and allowed himself to ruffle the silky red hair. The urge to run a hand through it had been itching since he saw Yaku do it the other day after training. It was as soft as an animal's fur. The curly locks wrapped around his fingers and prompted him to explore the orange scalp deeper. Unfortunately, Komori could not enjoy Hinata's soft fluffy hair. Not when his cousin looked at him the same way he looked at the cockroach found in the refectory last night. He should have felt offended, insulted or annoyed, but Komori knew Sakusa very well. The way his brow furrowed when he saw Ushijima and Hinata walking together as a married couple, happily discussing about things like "flowers" or "gift", showed perfectly that he was upset. It was rare for the dark haired boy to be upset with Ushiwaka, he was the epitome of perfection for Kiyoomi and one of the few people he respected. Maybe jealous? Komori would have found it adorable if that jealousy was not directed at him too.

The libero slowly pulled away from the redhead, it was not as if he feared that Sakusa would attack him if he made a sudden movement but his instincts told him to be careful, before clapping his hands to get the players' attention, a forced smile on his face. "We should go, right? The others are waiting for us." The exchange of glances between Ushijima and Sakusa finally ended and the four members of the national team marched towards the exit in a heavy silence, leaving a young man completely frightened with an autograph signed Sakusa Kiyoomi behind them. Hinata was strangely nervous because of the not very happy atmosphere, Komori kept his distance from the redhead for the sake of both of them, Sakusa did not take his eyes off the bouquet of flowers and Ushijima was as calm as usual. They were a strange group. A few minutes of walking later without anyone saying a word, they arrived in the gigantic main hall where various doors led to the outside. It would have been difficult to find anyone in the all-around crowds of people but the Japan Men's National Volleyball Team stood out above the rest. Iwaizumi was answering questions from several reporters, the flashes of lights and microphones almost attacking him, thus sparing his players from facing the cameras.

Hinata happily walked over to the men all gathered in a corner of the hall. Some were chatting together, some were looking at the nearest window in silence and some were watching their teammates coming towards them with curiosity. Atsumu was the first to speak when his gaze fell on the orange tuft. "Shouyou-kun! I thought ya would never come ba-... Wait, where'd these flowers come from?" His question caught the attention of other players and now everyone was waiting for Hinata's answer. "The libero from the Spain's team gave them to me! They're pretty, aren't they?" he answered with a big smile. He was so happy that an opponent gave him such a beautiful gift. The feeling was not shared considering the many grimaces he received in response. Atsumu reacted before everyone else, reaching out to grab the flowers firmly held by Hinata. "Give me this bouquet, I'll burn it."

"What?" The redhead took several steps back to prevent the setter from touching even a sunflower petal but his back collided with Sakusa's muscular chest. A shiver ran through him as calculating black eyes shifted from his horrified face to the bouquet. Hinata swallowed hard when a displeased frown appeared on Sakusa's face. “For once in my life, I agree with Miya.", his deep voice was a bit muffled with the mask over his mouth but you could still hear the irritation through his words. "We don't know what this man touched before he gave you this." Hinata quickly moved away from the dark haired boy, protectively hugging the bouquet to his chest.

"It's not 'this' but beautiful flowers so stop saying weird things!" he berated them, making sure his voice was not too loud and thus not attracting Iwaizumi's attention, still busy with the journalists. "Burning flowers is wrong, Tsum-Tsum!" Bokuto walked up to Hinata with his usual loud laugh. He put an arm around his disciple's shoulders and brought the orange head closer to his chest. If it was another day, Hinata would have blushed at having his cheek pressed against one of the taller man's pecs and giggled nervously. Or he would have melted into Bokuto's warm embrace, like he used to do when his mentor suddenly hugged him. He would respond to the hug enthusiastically and the two would stay ten, maybe even thirty, minutes snuggled into each other's arms until someone pulled them apart. But today, Hinata did not blush. Not when Bokuto had just said an extremely disturbing sentence.

"It's wrong to burn flowers because it's a waste. If I eat them, it won't be waste anymore. Let me eat the flowers, Hinata." he declared, bringing his face dangerously close to that of the young man.

The smile on the man's face with the spiky hair was gone, replaced by a serious, or pissed off, expression that made the redhead's blood run cold. The usually cheerful yellow eyes only reflected a predatory glow as the grip on the smaller one's shoulders tightened. You could even see veins of anger forming on his forehead. It would be an understatement to say that Hinata was absolutely and totaly scared. He even forgot the fact that Bokuto's proposal was ridiculous. Seriously, who eats flowers? Exept the sunflower seeds, nothing was edible in the bouquet that the libero gave him. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he was saved by Hoshiumi who also walked into the group of people surrounding Hinata, hands on hips. "I told you this guy was weird!" The features of his face twisted into a familiar expression. "Where is he now huh? I'm going to kick that guy's ass."

"Ah, Hinata thought, I remember." Hoshiumi looked exactly like Nishinoya, six years ago, when a boy was unlucky enough to breathe the same air as their manager Kiyoko. The same expression supposed to be intimidating, the same tilt of his head to appear taller and the same unnecessary gestures in the wind as if he was going to fight with someone. There are similarities between Nishinoya Yuu and Hoshiumi Korai but Hinata does not have the same relationship with his rival that he had with his senpai. Nishinoya had spent all his time offering him meatbuns, snacks or popsicles because he loved to see the happy face of his favorite kohai. With Hoshiumi, everything was a competition. From simple brushing teeth to the morning run, each strived to be better than the other. Hinata was Hoshiumi's rival, the best rival he ever had in his life but it did not end there. The two small spikers will take on the whole world.

But Hinata was not sure that "take on the whole world" implied that the green-eyed man's fingers had to stay on his skin for so long every time they made physical contact. In those intimate moments, often spent in one of their rooms in the Olympic Village on a comfortable bed, Hoshiumi didn't try to hide his blush, preferring to wear a smirk on his face and explore the redhead's tanned skin. Hinata ended up hiding his face in his hands most of the time because it was so embarrassing for him to accept all these caresses without protesting. At first, he found it weird and it made him a little uncomfortable, but the more the days went by, the more Hinata began to appreciate the affective touches. Hoshiumi's hands were large, not as big as Kageyama or Ushijima's but still, and incredibly warm. They passed over his soft skin in such a delicate way, totally the opposite of his chaotic personality, that the redhead sometimes wondered if the man in front of him was really Hoshiumi Korai. Never in his life he would have thought he could see so much affection and another unknown emotion, his little sister would call it "unconditional love" but she was always exaggerating so her opinion did not count, in the new Little Giant's big eyes green. Hinata usually fell asleep after about twenty minutes of caresses with the thought that one day he would also touch Hoshiumi's skin.

If you put this detail aside, you could tell that Hoshiumi and Nishinoya looked a bit alike in their personalities. Although the white haired boy was much more aggressive. It was in these excesses of aggressiveness, like now, that Hakuba Gao was very useful. As a former teammate from Kamomedai's volleyball team, he was more or less able to calm Hoshiumi down before he rams someone's head into a wall. Hinata, still trapped in Bokuto's embrace, exhaled in relief when Hakuba put his hands on the outside hitter's shoulders, a mocking smile adorning his lips. "You're not going to hit any ass. The guy has surely returned to the Olympic village, there's no point looking for him in the stadium.", he said in a soft voice, as if he was talking to a child. Hoshiumi clicked his tongue against his palate to show his annoyance but made no comment, he knew his friend was right.

"There is something inside." All faces turned to Kageyama, standing next to Atsumu, who had not spoken from the start of this weird situation. He pointed to the bouquet, or rather the inside of the bouquet, where there was indeed something. Hinata narrowed his eyes and saw a piece of paper stuck between the yellow and white petals of the flowers. Before the redhead could react, the setter had already advanced at least two meters and was plunging his hand into the flowers to remove the paper. When Kageyama read the inscription on the paper, his expression did not change. No frowning or tight jaw and not even a breath. There were no words to describe Hinata's surprise and indignation when Kageyama brought the paper to his nose, blew his nose loudly in it, Sakusa winced at the action, and threw it in the trash can right next to him. Hinata exploded in anger. "Why did you do that?! Are you crazy?", yelled the smaller one, squirming in Bokuto's arms.

Hinata could swear on his whole precious collection of volleyballs that he had seen a phone number on the piece of paper. Kageyama had a nasty habit since high school of getting rid of the rare love letters or phone numbers he received. He had not had many, the high school students were afraid for some unknown reason, his intuition told him that Tsukishima had something to do with it, to confess to him and the rare love letters which reached Hinata were all thrown in the trash can by Kageyama. If his mentor was not holding him so tightly, he would have choked the setter without hesitation.

Besides, Bokuto really had to let go because the air was becoming increasingly rare for Hinata. He was suffocating. Atsumu seemed to have noticed it too. "Anyway, Bokkun let go of Shouyou-kun! Ya've been holdin' him for too long!" The only response he received was Bokuto's head digging into the redhead's fluffy hair, clearly showing that he had no desire to let go of his disciple. Atsumu frowned and, before Aran could stop him, walked over to Hinata. He possessively wrapped his arms around the Decoy's waist and started pulling to his side in an attempt to loosen Hinata from the yellow-eyed man's grip.

"I told ya to let go of him!", said the fake blond in a whining voice. Bokuto growled, hugging the little body even tighter in his arms.

Hinata was totally flabbergasted by the childish behavior of his teammates. Bokuto was tiring, not to mention Atsumu. He always acted arrogant and spoke narcissistically but in reality he was just a child in constant search of affection. Atsumu purred almost every time the redhead stroked his hair or touched his cheek so that the man would stop crying that "Shouyou-kun would rather hug Bokkun than me." Well, in a way, it was true. But only because Bokuto did not take advantage of the hugs to slip his hands under Hinata's t-shirt. Atsumu also did not like it when someone was too close with Hinata, which was complicated since everyone was close to him. Miya Atsumu was jealous, possessive and childish and this situation perfectly showed these three parts of his personality.

Hinata liked his teammates very much, from the bottom of his heart, but currently, he wanted to hit them all. Ushijima and Sakusa had resumed their staring fight and why exactly were they looking at each other that way? It looked like they were going to start a war. While Hakuba was still trying to calm Hoshiumi down, Yaku scolded Kageyama that blowing his nose in someone else's paper was rude and inappropriate. Hinata noted in the corner of his head that he will hit his setter first. Atsumu and Bokuto did not want to let go of him, even though Aran kept hitting the blond's back relentlessly. Komori was there, just standing in this mess and giving Hinata a sorry smile. Why wasn't the libero helping him? He felt betrayed. All this noise just because someone gave Hinata a beautiful bouquet of flowers. If it continued like this, his marriage would look like a crime scene if he ever got married.

"Guys, I'm done with the journalists. We can go back to the Olympic village."

Iwaizumi Hajime, aka Hinata's savior, interrupted all conversations with his deep, authoritative voice. His gaze swept over each player, searching for something abnormal to report, until he came across the flowers still in the redhead's hands. He narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. "Oikawa gave you another present? I told him to stop harassing you but it seems like this trash doesn't want to listen to me."

"I-it wasn't him this time. A player from another team g-gave them to me." Hinata replied, trying somehow to talk with two athletes suffocating him without even realizing it. It was true that Oikawa harassed him with gifts, not at the same frequency as Kenma who was exaggerating with the number and price of the gifts but still, since their eyes met at the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. Most of the time, Iwaizumi would come out of nowhere and hit the setter on the back of his head so that he would stop showing up with chocolates or flowers whenever he had the chance.

Hinata could still feel the warmth of his coach's muscular arms when the older man had pressed him against a wall to hide from Oikawa and the beautiful bronze bracelet he wanted to give to the redhead. Iwaizumi's left arm was resting against Hinata's hips to prevent him from moving while the right was leaning against the wall, a few centimetres from the volleyball player's head. He had felt the dark haired man's warm breath against the skin of his neck, making him shiver, but when Hinata lifted his head to meet his coach's black eyes, all he encountered was a muscular chest. His face was literally burning from the contact of the pecs against his right cheek. Due to their position, the redhead was too small to see Iwaizumi's head. And even if he was tall enough, the former Aoba player Johsai had his head turned to where Oikawa's voice was, making his face out of Hinata's field of vision. He could not tell if Iwaizumi was blushing or not. The only thing he could say was that the man's heart was beating fast, very fast.

Hinata snapped out of his thoughts for the second time that day when Iwaizumi spoke, causing him to refocus on the present. "Huh, I see." he said, uncrossing his arms. He was not angry or upset, just irritated like the rest of the people still in the stadium hall. "And what are you two doing? Stop your kidding, we have to get on the bus." Iwaizumi was addressing to Bokuto and Atsumu, still hugging Hinata's body. The coach somehow manages to get them to let go, not without hitting them on their heads because Iwaizumi Hajime clearly did not have the patience to coax these two big kids. The Japan's men's national volleyball team finally got out of the stadium and boarded the bus that had been waiting for them for several hours. Iwaizumi apologized to the driver for the delay.

Hinata walked past all the seats to go to the seats at the back of the bus, ignoring the surprised looks from the other players. He sat down with a tired sigh on an empty seat next to Hyakuzawa. The two-meter-tall man was the only one who had not contributed to his headache caused by the ridiculous scene earlier. Hyakuzawa kindly allowed the redhead to lean against him on the ride to the Olympic Village. Hinata ended up falling asleep on the shoulder giving off a comfortable and pleasant heat, unconsciously purring under the caresses of the man next to him who visibly ran his large hand through his orange hair. Hyakuzawa spent the entire ride ignoring the glares of his teammates.

The next morning, Hinata looked with a mixture of surprise and dismay at the many bouquet of flowers placed in front of his bedroom door. However, all negative feelings against his teammates disappeared, replaced by an indescribable tenderness when he read the inscription on the cards, who all said the same thing, placed on the petals of the flowers.

"Some flowers for the prettiest flower."