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could have beens

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“Kindaichi,” Kageyama says, looking Yuutarou straight in the eye. “The next time we face off, we’ll beat you again.”

We.

The world shakes.

Kageyama turns around to leave and Yuutarou watches as Kageyama’s black-clad shoulders turn the corner before they stop stiffly. Karasuno’s short number ten suddenly peeks out from the corner, engaging Kageyama in a conversation. Behind him, the door leading to the gym opens.

“What were you talking about?” It’s Kunimi.

“He said ‘we’,” Yuutarou replies. “Until now, he always said ‘I’ll this’ and ‘I’ll that’ like he was playing alone.”

Kunimi comes to stand next to him, looking where Kindaichi’s still looking. Kageyama is yelling at Shorty, but the yelling isn’t the kind Kageyama did last year. Shorty looks like he’s actually teasing Kageyama, which is kind of mind-boggling to Yuutarou. They look like they’re friends. With their Karasuno sports jackets on, they look like a close-knit team.

We. We? Where was this we last year? Where was this we during all those practices and matches where Yuutarou thought it really was his fault he wasn’t good enough for Kageyama’s tosses? Where was this we all those times he just wanted to have fun playing volleyball and got yelled at instead? By a teammate no less?

And now here Kageyama was, saying we. 

The familiar feeling of not being good enough to work with a genius washes through him, a little different now. Before, he wasn’t good enough to hit Kageyama’s tosses, and now he realizes that maybe he just wasn’t good enough at being someone worth adjusting for. Damn.

“Damn,” he says out loud.

Kageyama calls Shorty a dumbass extremely loudly and flails his arms like he’s going to hit Shorty. Shorty immediately yells for his life and continues to yell as he runs away, Kageyama hot on his heels. They look like they have one of those close friendships revolving around insults, like Iwaizumi-senpai and Oikawa-senpai, and Yuutarou smiles a little wistfully.

“Now I really feel beaten,” he says.

Kunimi doesn’t miss a beat, he just smacks Yuutarou fucking hard on the shoulder. 

“Ow! What the hell!” Yuutarou helps, frowning down at Kunimi.

“You’re being an idiot,” Kunimi replies.

“Kageyama looks like he has friends now,” Yuutarou says, rubbing at his shoulder. “Should we have tried harder to be friends with him?”

Kunimi snorts. “We did try,” he says. “Something’s clearly changed.”

“Yeah, but why weren’t we good enough to make that change? What if we should have tried harder to talk to him instead of going to the coach and complaining?”

“You always do this,” Kunimi says, walking forward to head to the parking lot. “You think it’s on you, but it’s not so stop saying it.”

“I just wanted to have fun playing volleyball,” Yuutarou says.

“And now you are, as a starting first year middle blocker at a powerhouse school no less,” Kunimi says, turning to him with a raised eyebrow. “Despite our questionable captain.”

Yuutarou chuckles, but the ribbing makes him pause. “Shorty looked like he was teasing Kageyama, and Kageyama didn’t look mad for real. And this is after Shorty nailed him in the head with that one serve.”

Kunimi snickers at that. “That was good,” he says with a vague smile. “See, this is how things are different.”

“Oh?”

“Can you imagine teasing the King of the Court about anything?”

Yuutarou tries to imagine making fun of Kageyama for literally anything and draws a blank. It’s either the barbed and salty comments he’s been throwing, or nothing. “I guess not.”

“He’s changed,” Kunimi reiterates. “And we’ve changed. Don’t feel bad about it because I still think we made the right move at the time and I don’t regret it.”

Yuutarou processes that for a moment, searching in himself to find regret. Instead he finds that wistfulness again, wishing that things could have been different and he actually could have enjoyed last year’s volleyball matches, but he doesn’t find regret. Kunimi is probably right, and it couldn’t have played out any other way.

Kunimi looks back at him with raised eyebrows, a familiar dry expression on his face. Yuutarou feels reassured, and kind of grateful that Kunimi’s become such a close friend these past three years. “We’ll win next time,” Kunimi says simply.

Yuutarou believes him.