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confessions of a teenage volleyball captain

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Daichi confesses on the last day of second year. It’s on their afternoon walk home, when the sun pulls long shadows across the ground and casts the world in a soft orange glow before it disappears completely. Late March isn’t quite late enough to take the sting of a chill out of the air, and Suga tends to be sensitive to cold, so he has his hands cradled inside the sleeves of his club jacket, collar zipped all the way up so he can tuck his face into it.

 

Daichi has been in love with Suga since probably three days after he met him, although it took him an astoundingly long time to realize. His mother says he’s always been bad with love, laughing at his playground romances that never lasted long and claiming he learnt his obliviousness from his father. At the very least, Daichi has known he’s in love with Suga since a particular night almost six months ago now, wedged together on Suga’s western-style bed, shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, talking about volleyball and dreams and future. Suga’s hair had been like pure, undiluted moonlight, lashes long and swoopy, skin soft and almost too-bright where strips of light cut across it from the not-quite-closed curtains. Daichi hadn’t known what to do but stare at him. Ah, he’d thought, I see.

 

He stares at Suga a lot, really. Right now, the orange warmth of the fading sun has made Suga’s cheeks a little rosier than usual, has turned his beautiful brown eyes even warmer. Light swirls and dances in his irises, bringing out the flecks of a slightly lighter shade near the center and the deeper brown around the edges. He shines like something ethereal and untouchable, some far-away star. Daichi often sees him that way. Perfect and pretty and unattainable.

 

But he’s not, Daichi realizes with sudden clarity, as Suga tilts his face up and into the sun, pouty little mouth pulling into some kind of a reverent smile. Suga is here. Suga is here, so close Daichi can smell the lingering sweat from practice and the crisp cucumber scent of his deodorant and something sweet that comes from his hair. The scent of his cologne is absent Suga favours something that smells like summer, like citrus and waves on the shore and Daichi knows this because he is often close enough to smell it where it catches on the lapels of his uniform shirt. He is here, close enough to reach out and touch, close enough that Daichi knows him so well that he could close his eyes and find him in the dark.

 

“Suga,” he says, before he can lose his nerve. Suga’s eyes flutter open, delicate butterfly-wing swooshes of his eyelashes making way for curious, twinkling irises. It makes Daichi’s heart pound in his throat, makes colour rise into his cheeks with a vengeance.

 

“Suga,” he says again, clutching the strap of his bag where it settles over his chest, “you’re my best friend.”

 

He’s not really sure where to go from there. Suga is his best friend, his partner. The word makes heat flood straight up to Daichi’s hairline as he bites back the grin that threatens to overtake his whole face. Suga already looks vaguely concerned, because Daichi has stopped a perfectly okay walk to tell Suga things he already knows. He should tell Suga something he doesn’t know. That he wants to be partners in more ways than one, that this coming year scares him, acting as coach and captain both after everything with Asahi and Nishinoya and the uncertainty of what April brings, that none of it seems so scary when Suga is by his side. That he thinks about kissing him a lot, perhaps an unreasonable amount, but it’s really Suga’s fault for having lips that look like they would be perfect to kiss.

 

“You’re— we’re partners,” Daichi fumbles, “captain and vice-captain.”

 

“Yes?” Suga’s mouth twitches in amusement, and Daichi’s dumb, traitorous eyes follow the movement with unbridled longing. Oh, to kiss that twitching corner, and watch it morph into a full-blown smile.

 

“I think,” Daichi says, tongue feeling heavy in his mouth as he twists both hands around the strap of his bag, feeling the harsh burn of the fabric on his palms, “I want to be partners with you for a long time. We should keep playing together for a long time.”

 

Because that’s where it started. Suga, with baby-fat still hanging off his cheeks, hair unruly and shimmery-soft, smile radiant, eyes impish with mischief. Daichi looking to him like a beacon, watching the arc of his pass as the ball settles into his fingers, seeing the graceful cradle of his hands as the ball leaves them almost as soon as it touches down, lifting high and high and high into a palm. Suga, his setter. Suga, his friend. Suga, his boyfriend? He hopes. He prays.

 

“Oh, Daichi,” Suga says, laughter colouring the edges of his voice. He’s turned toward him fully now, stretching a hand out to place his delicate, slender fingers on Daichi’s broad, sturdy shoulder. Michimiya tells him they’re wholly unreasonable, like he plans on using them to hold up the whole world by himself. Some days, it feels like she’s right, but Michimiya never follows through on slapping him straight between his shoulder-blades to knock the tension forcibly out of them, not the way Suga does.

 

“That’s a given,” Suga says, and Daichi’s heart kicks into overdrive, “I’m not going anywhere.”

 

Daichi steps in closer, and Suga smiles, warm. He squeezes Daichi’s shoulder, and lets his hand drop away, before he skips forward a couple steps and shoots another one of his impish grins over his shoulder. Daichi smiles broader, struck dumb by Suga’s radiance, and he trips over his own feet to catch up. It’s a little odd that Suga doesn’t want to kiss after the confession, or hold hands or anything. Suga is touchy-feely normally; hands on shoulders and launching onto Asahi’s back with threats to stunt his growth, or pulling Nishinoya into side hugs and ruffling Tanaka’s fuzzy little head now that he’s shaved off all the blonde.

 

Suga has said he likes kissing; last year, when the team was mourning their loss at the Spring High qualifiers in Tanaka’s bedroom, taking sips of too-warm beer that Saeko-san had bought for them and playing silly party games to pass the time. Nishinoya had spent half of the night half-flung across Asahi’s lap, which made Asahi red like anything else, and Suga’s face had flushed from laughing so hard at him. It was Nishinoya who had asked the question, something about whether anyone knew if kissing was so good anyway, and Suga had told him yes, and Daichi had spent a solid twenty minutes stewing in quiet rage at not knowing who Suga had kissed.

 

Maybe Suga likes to take it slow, and Daichi can respect that. Even if Daichi wants to kiss him. Like right now. His hand is slightly cold where the back of it brushes against Daichi’s as they walk, and he almost wants to take it in his own, bundle it to his lips, and kiss his knuckles while he massages warmth into it. It takes him until the crossroads where they part ways to realize that, as Suga’s newly-minted boyfriend, he can do that. He reaches for the hand, newly determined, just as Suga lifts it to wave goodbye.

 

“See you in April, Daichi,” Suga says, sounding wholly normal and unaffected, like Daichi hasn’t just handed him his whole heart. Ah, that’s so like Suga, to have been waiting so long for Daichi to recognize his own feelings that he’s not even surprised. Daichi waves dumbly, his smile giddy as he watches Suga walk until he turns the corner into his street, and disappears out of sight.

 

His mother is cooking by the time he gets home, Daichi’s youngest siblings mobbing him in the genkan. He dangles Yoichi by an ankle, because he’s only four and Daichi can, while he props Masami on his hip and carries them to the kitchen. His mother looks grateful for the intervention, tiredness pulling at her eyes.

 

“How was your last day?” She asks, ever the dutiful parent, as Daichi stoops to press a kiss to her forehead.

 

“Good,” Daichi tells her, struggles to get Yoichi up the right way and on his other hip before his face goes too red from all the blood rushing to it, “I confessed to Suga. He accepted.”

 

“That’s nice,” his mother says, “Sugawara-kun is a nice boy. Make sure Makoto is doing her homework, please.”

 

Daichi does, and doesn’t even get his head bitten off by his eldest sister, who is going through the phase where everything and everyone makes her angry. He shoos his youngest siblings into Akihiro’s care- who looks positively offended that being thirteen means he suddenly has to accept baby-sitting duty when Daichi and Makoto are busy- under the pretense of having vague things to do. He supposes it’s not too effective, since school has obviously let out for him already.

 

What he actually does is lie on the sun-warmed floor, grinning stupidly up at the ceiling and imagining the phantom press of Suga’s shoulder against his own, all those nights ago. Suga, who is his boyfriend. Suga, who will go into third year being his boyfriend. Suga, who will set him a ball as his boyfriend. Suga, who will be his boyfriend when Karasuno wins Nationals and Daichi dips him into a kiss on live TV. So maybe the last one is a little dramatic, but it’s hard to be rational when boyfriend is pinging around in his head so violently that Daichi just cannot stop smiling for the life of him.

 

Even thinking about wanting to tell Asahi does little to dampen his spirits, because Suga is his boyfriend. Third year is coming, Asahi and Nishinoya will come back to the team, they’ll get a good crop of first years, and they’ll go as far as they can go, all the way to the top, because Suga is Daichi’s boyfriend and that makes him feel invincible.

 

*

 

Suga finds him after the opening ceremonies, stepping into Daichi’s line of sight with more grace than one person should possess. Daichi smiles instantly, high on the sense of Suga being in front of him for the first time since he confessed. What should he do? Is it normal to kiss your boyfriend on the cheek as a greeting without ever having discussed it? Suga’s family went away to their usual remote camping destination over spring vacation, leaving Daichi with no way to ask what Suga expects from their relationship. He’ll just have to wing it, until he can find the right time to ask.

 

“Good morning, captain,” Suga says, falling into step beside Daichi as easily as he always has, “feeling optimistic about the year, yet?”

 

“Of course,” Daichi says, even though some of his optimism from March has faded a bit. “Shimizu’s recruiting. There’s no way she can’t get at least one member.”

 

“That’s what I like to hear,” Suga then proceeds to smack him rather violently between his shoulder-blades. It knocks all the air from his lungs and he lets out a very unattractive wheeze, which of course makes Suga laugh like this is the best game in the world. Daichi melts instantly. Suga’s laugh could cure all illnesses, Daichi thinks, as sweet as it is. He made Suga laugh. His boyfriend.

 

“Sawamura,” a classmate says, stopping to show concern, “are you alright?”

 

“Yeah,” Daichi says, giving Suga’s back a dopey smile. He’s already pushed ahead, waving and calling out cheerful greetings to familiar faces from their previous years. Daichi stumbles over his own feet to catch up to him.

 

“What class are you in this year?” Suga asks, when Daichi falls into step beside him.

 

“Four,” Daichi says, holds up as many fingers, thumb folded across his palm. Suga lights up in delight.

 

“Me too! That’s excellent, we won’t even have to go very far to have lunch together,” Suga muses, hands on hips. Daichi feels approximately sixteen volleyballs hit him in the face simultaneously, and he feels rather giddy. Lunch with his boyfriend. Suga. Boyfriend. Yeah.

 

“I’ll make you bento,” Daichi says, before he even registers the words out of his mouth. Suga jumps, jaw falling open a little bit, before he shakes his head. Suga’s hair is so swishy. Daichi wants to put his hands in it.

 

“You don’t have to do that?”

 

“But I want to,” Daichi says, which makes Suga look at him funny. It shouldn’t be so odd, should it? Sure, they’re both boys, but plenty of girlfriends make their boyfriends lunches, so why should it be different for them? Daichi doesn’t mind, he helps his mother cook lunches most of the time, and Akihiro never finishes his anyway, because unlike every Sawamura ever he doesn’t eat all that much, so to minimize waste he can always put it toward Suga’s lunch, since Suga will actually eat it.

 

“Alright, then,” Suga says, but he still doesn’t sound all the way convinced. He’s looking at Daichi a little like Daichi maybe hit his head, and a little like how he watches volleyball plays to try and work out the mechanics. It’s like being dissected. His boyfriend is so smart.

 

“Daichi-san! Suga-san!” Tanaka’s voice carries down the hallway toward them, and the bento situation is forgotten in favour of Suga flinging himself into Tanaka’s arms like they’ve been separated for twenty years and not two weeks. Daichi can’t help but pout a little. Tanaka’s not even dating Suga, and he got a reunion hug, but maybe Suga’s just a little unsure of their boundaries now that they’re dating? Well, Daichi will just have to take the time to reassure him, that’s all.

 

“You can hug me, you know,” Daichi says over lunch, which they’re eating outside, because Suga very predictably got tired of being in the classroom for the whole day.

 

“Okay?” Suga says, eyebrow arched in amusement. “Thanks for letting me know?”

 

“No I mean,” Daichi clears his throat, “this morning. You didn’t hug me.”

 

“I don’t… normally hug you?” Suga sounds perplexed, massaging the frown line out of his brow with his thumb.

 

“But you hugged Tanaka?”

 

“Yes?” Suga tilts his head to the side. “Daichi, do you want me to hug you?”

 

“Yes?” Daichi thinks this should be obvious, but maybe Suga doesn’t have as much experience in a relationship as Daichi thought. Which is perfectly fine, it’s just that Suga is possibly the most gorgeous person on the planet, and even Daichi has had a whole three girlfriends since middle school, and because Suga is at least twice as hot as him, surely he must have had a partner at some point. Or maybe he did, but they weren’t much for hugging. Maybe Suga is just trying to be respectful of his boundaries, in which case Daichi is going to have to be very tactful and not say something embarrassing about being ready to get married right now, actually.

 

“Is everything okay?” Suga asks, setting aside his lunch, and it strikes Daichi that they’re doing this now. Which is fine, because Daichi didn’t get a hug this morning, but there’s also not a lot of time to prepare for the weight of Suga sinking into his chest.

 

Suga’s body is warm, and he smells good, and this close, Daichi can catch traces of the lingering fabric softener scent on his clothes. His cologne hasn’t worn off— really, Daichi thinks, it’s quite remarkable that Suga wears cologne at all given that hardly anyone else in their age range seems to care for it— and his hand cradles Daichi’s head as Daichi snuggles his face into the crook of his neck and breathes him in. Suga’s body is soft under his hands, and Daichi traces the ridge of his spine, smooths the flat of his palm over Suga’s strong shoulders, curls his fingers into his shirt.

 

They sit like that for a while, in the shade of a tree that’s not quite enough to block out the sun. Stray sakura petals lay on the ground, shedded from the trees by the front gate, blown about by the wind. Suga curls into him, leans his cheek against Daichi’s head as his fingers stroke through his hair, other arm looped steady around his shoulders. Daichi bundles Suga into him, closing his eyes contentedly.

 

“Everything’s good,” Daichi mumbles into his shoulder, belatedly. “You smell good.”

 

“Thank you?” Suga’s laugh is surprised, and he sounds like he doesn’t quite know what to make of that. Daichi thinks it’s perfectly fine to tell your boyfriend you like the way he smells. Boyfriend. Suga, in his arms. Yeah, Daichi could get used to this.

 

Suga draws back, gently pats his back. It feels very fraternal, and not as romantic as Daichi expected it to be. Suga is regarding him very seriously, and Daichi can feel his own face scrunching up into something vaguely resembling a question mark. Suga looks like he’s weighing his words, as if saying the wrong thing will just one-shot shatter Daichi into itty-bitty little pieces.

 

“Daichi,” Suga says, squeezes his shoulder, “you know you can always tell me if something is wrong.”

 

“Nothing’s wrong,” Daichi says, with a small frown, “I just think we should hug more?”

 

Suga still looks dubious. Really, Suga looks like Daichi has grown a second head and bitten him with his second mouth. Daichi supposes he understands. It’s not like he’s ever been highly affectionate, and years of corralling temperamental younger siblings and working hard behind the scenes of volleyball teams have made him a little more me-and-my-unreasonably-broad-shoulders-against-the-world than he needs to be. He doesn’t hug often, just at the end of really good games. Maybe it is an odd request, but they’re boyfriends! Boyfriends hug all the time, even Daichi-like boyfriends.

 

He’s forced to let the issue go when Tanaka comes bowling across the lawn toward them, yelling about overhearing some blond kid talking about volleyball in the first year hall. This immediately captures Suga’s attention, mostly because Tanaka drops the buzzword ‘tall’ in there, and Daichi has been stressing about middle blockers since the third years retired last year.

 

Tall Blonde Guy is Suga’s new favourite person, Daichi thinks. He hangs off every word Tanaka has to say about him, demands more information. How tall exactly? Hair colour? Facial features? Approximate hand-span?

 

“Why were you in the first year hall anyway?” Daichi asks. Tanaka looks outright offended.

 

“Kiyoko-san is recruiting,” he says, like this makes any amount of sense. Suga sighs, like the most put-upon person in the entire world.

 

“Tanaka, we told you to leave her to it. You’ll scare away all the nice little first years.”

 

“Will not!” Tanaka thunders at a volume just short of ear-shattering, and Daichi almost doesn’t hear the bell over the sound of Suga’s laughter and Tanaka’s offended squawking. They keep it up until they have to part ways, and Daichi stares at the back of Suga’s head mournfully throughout the rest of class, bemoaning the missed opportunity to kiss his cheek goodbye.

 

*

 

Suga is being weird.

 

Daichi feels stupid for having taken so long to notice, but then again, his mother has always claimed he’s not exactly been perceptive when it comes to relationships. At least half of it isn’t his fault, he thinks, given that Suga spent the first few weeks of school distracted by his quote-unquote ‘secret’ helping of the club’s troublesome new first years. He’s not exactly subtle; he misses Daichi on their usual walk to school every single day, suspiciously goes missing from class during lunch and falls asleep through calculus in the afternoon sunlight.

 

Then they were both distracted by Asahi coming back to the club and making sure he and Nishinoya had made up for sure. Asahi’s a big guy— was the biggest on their team, before Tsukishima, who might honestly just be a freak of nature because no fifteen year old has any right being that tall— but if Nishinoya got it in his head to twist Asahi’s head right off his shoulders, poor dude wouldn’t stand a chance. And, in spite of everything, Asahi is somehow Daichi’s best friend (after Suga) and he really doesn’t want that to happen.

 

The point is, Daichi’s had a lot on his mind, and now that he has slightly less on his mind because beautiful, wonderful Takeda-sensei has found them a coach and Suga shares his Modern Literature notes over lunch and Tanaka says Asahi and Nishinoya are back to making out behind the gym before practice which— back to?! Back to?!— means that Daichi can finally rest easy and cycle back around to the train of thought that’s just Suga with big cartoony hearts circling him at all times.

 

Suga is so beautiful, throwing his head back to laugh at Asahi’s flustered spluttering. The sunlight is stronger now with summer encroaching, and the InterHigh qualifiers are just around the corner. The team can’t afford to slack now, and Suga reminds them all of this with well-placed karate chops and deceptively gentle scolding, even though he won’t be fighting on the court with them. The thought makes Daichi sad; he’d really been looking forward to spiking balls set up by his boyfriend. Suga, ever pragmatic, is taking it well, but it’s not like he doesn’t deserve some comfort for what must be a crushing reality. And he (Daichi) has been a terrible boyfriend for not providing that comfort.

 

Well, he thinks resolutely, as Suga struggles to tear Asahi’s hand away from his collar, that ends now.

 

“No come on, I promise I won’t say anything—”

 

“That’s what you said last time!” Asahi whines, tilting his head back and pulling the collar of his track jacket tighter against the skin of his neck. Suga’s grin turns manic as he thwacks Asahi in the side. Asahi doubles over in shock, Suga uses his surprise to yank the fabric away from his neck, and promptly howls in laughter. Daichi tilts his head to squint at Suga’s source of mirth. It is, in fact, a rapidly purpling bruise that was not there at the start of practice. Daichi is scandalized! Shocked and appalled! It must show on his face because Asahi wilts, wrestles himself away from Suga and zips his jacket all the way up to his nose with his kicked-puppy glare being beamed directly at them.

 

“You said you were refilling your water bottles,” Daichi says, and Asahi whines.

 

“We were,” he says, ducking his head closer to his chest, “at least, for a little bit.”

 

“For a little bit,” Suga parrots, wiping tears away from the corners of his eyes.

 

“You know how Nishinoya is,” Asahi whines, trying to burrow further into his jacket, like all six-foot of him could be effectively hidden in it. This just makes Suga laugh harder, so hard that he stumbles into Daichi’s side. He steadies him with a hand pressed to the small of his back, Suga’s beautiful forearm draped over his shoulder for support. He can feel himself pinkening at the intimacy of the touch, especially when Suga doesn’t move away.

 

They haven’t told anyone about the whole dating thing yet— at least, Daichi assumes Suga hasn’t said anything, and unless Suga says it’s fine, then Daichi won’t say anything either— but clearly Suga seems to think this is okay. Daichi savours it, presses his thumb against his spine and smiles his dopiest smile as Suga laughs and laughs and laughs and Asahi stomps on ahead.

 

“Asa-chan!” Suga wheedles. “Come back! I’m sorry, I’ll stop laughing at you!”

 

“You’re still laughing now!” Asahi yells back, giving Suga a rude gesture as he disappears around a corner. Suga tips his head back and howls with laughter, head lolling sideways until he’s leaning even further against Daichi. It makes his heart beat so wildly it threatens to punch straight through his ribcage and flop about at his feet. Instead, he smooths his hand up Suga’s spine, wondering at the elegant arch of it, and gently threads his fingers through his hair, smacking his palm into the base of his skull.

 

“Is it really that funny?”

 

“Yes.” Suga nods, sagely, trying to wriggle out of Daichi’s grip as he bats at his hands. “Come on, don’t tell me you don’t find it hilarious.”

 

“You’re right,” Daichi admits, not at all begrudgingly. Needling Asahi is probably his second favourite activity, right after volleyball. Could be demoted to third after kissing Suga, should he ever actually experience kissing Suga.

 

“You don’t look like you believe yourself,” Suga says, and Daichi jolts a little, suddenly acutely aware of how cold his side is without Suga curled into it. He hadn’t realized he’d slipped into his own thoughts, but he supposes that’s easy when his thoughts are mostly of Suga. He chuckles, feeling the warmth flood back to his face in the form of a smile as he shakes his head, clearing away the last of the fog.

 

“Unrelated thoughts, sorry. You are right, but you should ease up or he’s going to be able to claim you’re the one who gave him a heart attack.” Suga snorts in a particularly ugly way that makes Daichi’s impulse desire to kiss him double tenfold.

 

“I’m not the one giving him love bites,” Suga says, stretching his arms above his head, “he should take it up with Noya.”

 

“We both know he’s not going to do that.”

 

“Our mousy little man,” Suga sighs, just a shade too fond, and when he cuts an impish grin at Daichi from the corner of his eye, it doesn’t take much for him to burst into laughter. Suga’s laugh is chasing at the heels of his own, breathy giggles high in his throat that sound like the bubbling of freshwater streams in springtime. They feel delicate alongside the roughness of Daichi’s, the way it feels like it’s being forcibly squeezed from somewhere deep and tight between his lungs, ripping out of his throat like he simply couldn’t stop it if he tried. Suga grabs his shoulder, and it’s only then Daichi realizes how hard they’re shaking.

 

“We should be nicer to him,” Daichi struggles out, feeling just a shade guilty. Asahi’s a softer kind than he and Suga both, built for quieter things than spitfire Suga and dependable Daichi.

 

“We both know we’re not going to do that,” Suga says, his grin bordering on manic, and Daichi feels the way his own stretches the planes of his face and threatens to unravel him at the seams.

 

He’s a vision in the late sun— always has been and likely always will be, Daichi thinks— with the way it warms every inch of him and turns him into something shimmery and mystical. For a moment, Daichi thinks he looks exactly like something that could vanish if you so much as blinked, and the wild irrational panic has him reaching out to lace their fingers together before he can stop himself. It’s not like it’s criminal, anyway. Suga is Daichi’s boyfriend, and Asahi third-wheeling their walks home means Daichi hasn’t gotten a chance to hold his hand yet, but they’re boyfriends. Surely Suga doesn’t mind.

 

“Oh,” Suga says, pouty mouth forming around the sound with a distinct lack of breath. “Daichi?”

 

“It’s okay, right?” He blurts, feeling a flush rise high on his cheeks. Suga blinks— and really, no one should look as earth-shatteringly gorgeous as Suga does doing something as mundane as blinking— before he chuckles a little, brow arched severely in the way that says he’s trying to be accommodating but he’s extremely confused. It’s a look that used to be turned on Noya and Tanaka most often, most recently used against Hinata and Kageyama. Never once aimed at Daichi.

 

“Are you doing a bit?” Suga asks. “How much did Tanaka have to bribe you?”

 

“What?” Daichi says, feeling a tone creep up the back of his throat that can only be described as ‘plaintive mewling’.

 

“Tanaka’s hand-holding joke? Did he seriously not get you with it? He tried practically the whole team.”

 

“No!”

 

“Oh,” Suga blinks again, “then why?”

 

“Because,” Daichi sputters, “I— oh, this is stupid.”

 

“Uh-huh?” Suga’s tone is amused. Daichi flushes redder.

 

“I kind of thought, just for a minute there, that you were almost like a mirage.”

 

Suga’s mouth falls open in his silence. Daichi entertains the notion of cupping his jaw to gently close it, and then pressing a kiss to his lips. Maybe in a different moment, when the stretching quiet doesn’t feel like a thread aching to snap at any moment. Finally, after a tortuous pause, Suga snorts, and gives his hand a squeeze so violent Daichi hears bones creak.

 

“That is stupid,” Suga says, “come on then, you big baby, come here.”


It punches a startled laugh out of Daichi as Suga drags him in by their joined hands, forcibly slinging his arm around Daichi’s neck so his own hand lays across his body. Suga clutches at his own wrist and leans heavily into Daichi, making him stumble with the weight of him. He laughs again, raucous, and means every note of it as Suga snickers into the meat of his shoulder and pushes more insistently against him, while Daichi starts elbowing back.

 

“Is this better? Am I real enough for you yet? Am I permanent? Can you successfully objectify me, Sawamura-kun?”

 

“Shut up,” Daichi all but yells in the middle of the evening-empty street, “shut up, that play on words doesn’t even make sense!”

 

“Yes it does,” Suga retorts, the snotty little shit, before the gleam in his eyes turns truly evil. “Piggyback!”

 

“No!” Daichi yelps, before Suga’s whole weight is bearing down on him, and he’s stumbling to get his free hand hooked under Suga’s thigh. He hangs lopsided off his back like some kind of deranged spider-monkey, and Daichi, curse his poor, stupid, gay heart, cannot stop laughing. He feels like his lung’s about to pop or a hole is gonna burn through his esophagus from the way it’s being dragged out of him. “Suga, get off !”

 

“Nope!” Suga sing-songs, because he’s a menace, he’s fucking evil and he seems hell-bent on killing him, and Daichi loves him anyway. Suga is hanging from his back in severe danger of eating shit on the concrete and laughing his ass off like trying to give Daichi chronic back pain is the most fun activity ever, and Daichi is clutching his hand for dear life and laughing so hard that he can’t see around the tears in his eyes and he loves him.

 

He doesn’t hold Suga’s hand for the rest of the walk; he pulls it free in favour of being able to jack Suga further up his back into a more stable position. Suga doesn’t complain, squeezes his legs tight around Daichi’s middle and presses them cheek to cheek, eyes closed and smile gracing his lips. Daichi can’t get the grin off his face, even when he has to squat on overworked thighs to let Suga dismount where their paths diverge.

 

“So courteous,” Suga chuckles, brushing his hair behind his ear in a motion that almost seems shy, “am I to expect another lunch from you tomorrow?”

 

“Of course,” Daichi says, chest swelling with pride at the fact that this has become something that Suga can depend on too. He’s gotten over his initial wariness, apparently, which Daichi expected, because he’s never known Suga to say no to free food, and especially not free food painstakingly cut into novelty shapes. The joys of younger siblings.

 

“You’re a weird one, Sawamura,” Suga says, shaking his head in amusement, “see you tomorrow.”

 

“Yeah,” Daichi says, still feeling high from the warmth of Suga’s body pressed against him. Suga makes it halfway down his street before he pauses, turning and running back toward him. Daichi’s brow creases, lips already poised to call his name, when Suga’s hand clamps down on his bicep and he stretches forward to press a kiss to Daichi’s cheek. Daichi’s brain promptly falls out his ear and splats onto the pavement.

 

“Payment!” Suga chirps, with a laugh, colour rising rapidly on his cheeks as he turns and half-scampers away. Daichi can feel his mouth hanging open, as he raises tentative fingers up to the place that Suga’s mouth had just been.

 

Suga’s lips are perfect and kissable, the imprint of them seared under his cheekbone, low on the meat of his cheeks and close to the corner of his mouth. Just a few inches more and they could have been on his mouth. The thrill of it makes Daichi light-headed, as another stupid grin splits his face. He makes it the rest of the way home on autopilot, one hand still cradling the spot where Suga’s lips touched his skin.

 

“What’s gotten into you?” Makoto asks, passing him in the upstairs hallway.

 

“Mm,” Daichi replies, swanning past her to serenely close the door behind him, sink to his knees, and face-plant directly into his futon.

 

Kaa-san !” Makoto hollers at the top of her lungs. “Daichi-nii-san’s lost his mind!”

 

*

 

He can’t stop thinking about kissing Suga.

 

It’s a problem. An issue. A little niggling brain worm that burrows in and takes hold of all his thoughts. Trying to focus on volleyball practice? Thinking about what conditions he’d need to orchestrate alone time in the supply cupboard to kiss Suga senseless. Trying to pay attention in class? Thinking about lunch break and all the secluded spots where he and Suga could mack. Walking home? Wishing Asahi could walk home with his boyfriend instead so Daichi could steal kisses from the corner of Suga’s perfect little mouth and also maybe back him up behind one of the trees lining the road and kiss him forever and a day. His mother probably wouldn’t notice if he came home just a little late.

 

At least Suga seems fine with holding hands now. He won’t hug Daichi unless he specifically asks for it, which is fine, maybe Suga’s just not that into it and Daichi can respect that. He still gives Daichi amused looks about the bentos, like it’s a really funny joke that Daichi doesn’t get, and he still looks confused by the hand-holding, as if that’s not a perfectly normal boyfriend-esque activity.

 

“Psst,” Michimiya says, and then bounces a balled up wad of notepaper off his forehead, “earth to Sawamura.”


“Wha—?” Suga is laughing at the other end of the classroom. Suga is laughing, probably at Asahi’s misfortune, if the slumped slope of his shoulders is anything to go by, and the sunlight is turning his eyelashes into something crystalline and his laughter makes his whole body rock with it and all Daichi can think about is kissing the sound of it out of his mouth. Problem.

 

“Hey!” Michimiya’s hands land not-gently on his cheeks, dragging him eye level with her. “Earth. To. Sawamura.”

 

“Ow?”

 

“Gosh, you sure are zoning out a lot. Are you getting enough sleep? Don’t make me tell your mother.” This makes Daichi flush in embarrassment. Given that Michimiya is one of his longest-standing friends, and given that Michimiya helps with the groceries and cooking and isn’t afraid to ball a fist and bonk Daichi right on the head should he not treat his mother with the appropriate fawning love and dedication, his mother is somewhat fond of her. Somewhat fond meaning she would probably swap Makoto for Michimiya in a heartbeat, and being told on by Michimiya would mean instant death by way of his mother’s ‘shame tone’, the tone used for shaming her children which is extremely effective.

 

“I’m sleeping just fine,” Daichi mutters, rubbing his cheeks, “what were you saying?”

 

“About quadratic equations, Sawamura. One of the girls is having trouble wrapping her head around it, can you help or not?”

 

“Uh,” Daichi says, because yes, theoretically he can, but Suga. There’s not really any coherent end to that sentence, only that tutoring on top of volleyball would significantly cut down on already limited Suga-time. With volleyball practice pretty much always, it’s not like they have time to go on dates, and sometimes they study, but usually Asahi is there, or Tanaka if he has crawled about miserably at Suga’s feet enough to warrant sympathy and a night away from Ennoshita’s ruthlessness. Which hardly counts. It’s not like Daichi can entertain thoughts of swiping their homework aside and putting his tongue in Suga’s mouth on his living room floor if other people are present.

 

“Sawamura!” Michimiya reaches across the table and chops him on the head so violently Daichi feels approximately fifteen braincells wither and die while his neck twinges violently. “What is with you today?”

 

“Sorry!” Daichi rubs his head, with a small pout. “Lay off will you, Michimiya? Your arm’s stronger than you think it is.”

 

“You really think so? I’ve been trying to get more power in my swing!” Seeming to glean from Daichi’s kicked-puppy pout that this was not the take-away of the conversation, she clears her throat and sits up. “I mean, what’s wrong? Why are you all in your head.”

 

“It’s… Suga,” Daichi sighs, “you can’t tell anyone okay?”

 

Michimiya mimes zipping her lips. Daichi squints.

 

“Not even Ikejiri.”

 

Michimiya mimes zipping her lips harder, and stares pointedly at him. Daichi sighs, and knows he can’t put it off any longer. He dipped his toes in, now he has to throw himself off the proverbial ledge and let the current do with him what it will.

 

“We’re… dating,” Daichi whispers, and Michimiya makes a little gurgling noise in the back of her throat, “but I don’t know, he’s being weird? Like, we don’t do a lot of boyfriend stuff, and he was kind of shy about me making him lunch and stuff, even though—”

 

“Even though I was fine with it when you finally got it through your big, dumb head that I’d been trying to ask you out?”


“Well,” Daichi says with a pout. She could have phrased it nicer. “Yeah.”

 

“Sawamura-kun,” Michimiya all but purrs, “Suga-san isn’t me. Maybe he wanted to make you lunch. Maybe you cramped his style.” Daichi feels cold dread pour down his spine.

 

“Do you really think so?”

 

“No,” Michimiya snorts, “why are you freaking out? Just talk to him, idiot.”

 

“Why are you smiling like that?”

 

“You’re all grown up, Daicchan,” Daichi narrows his eyes as Michimiya faux-sniffs, “you finally managed to figure out when someone likes you. I’m so proud.”

 

“Funny,” Daichi says, “I’m going back to my boyfriend. You know. The one who doesn’t make fun of me?”

 

“You’re dating Suga-san and you expect me to believe that?”

 

She’s got him there. Daichi stomps back to their table with his shoulders hunched to his ears and Michimiya’s giggles chasing him. Suga gives him a curious look, so Daichi drags his chair right up next to him and drapes an arm over the back of Suga’s. Asahi’s eyes just about fall out of his head in shock as he flicks his eyes between them.

 

“Fun conversation?” Suga asks, putting a bit of bunny-shaped egg into his mouth.

 

“No,” Daichi sulks, and Suga sticks his bottom lip in a faux-pout.

 

“Aw, poor baby. Do you need someone to kiss it better?”

 

“Yes,” Daichi says, because the word ‘kiss’ just came out of Suga’s mouth, even though the tone was blatantly teasing. There’s a bit of rice stuck to Asahi’s lip where his mouth is hanging open while he stares at them like they’ve announced plans to become catfish farmers or something equally crazy. Suga looks at him with shock written all over his pretty face, colour rising high in his cheeks.

 

“Oh,” Suga says, and then he turns his head and brushes a kiss to Daichi’s jaw that sends a zing through him all the way to his toes.

 

“What the,” Asahi says, sounding strangled.

 

“Better?” Suga asks, sounding breathless. Daichi makes a little whimpering noise in the back of his throat and nods, fervently. Asahi is flicking his eyes between them so fast that Daichi almost expects them to start rotating the full three-sixty inside his skull. Suga ducks his head and goes back to eating his bento. Daichi turns to find Michimiya watching him from the doorway. She’s laughing so hard that no sound is coming out, clutching her midsection as she stumbles back into the third-year hall and out of Daichi’s line of sight. It’s probably a good thing too, since Daichi is about three seconds away from dying of embarrassment. Michimiya’s never going to let him live that squeaky little noise down, he knows it.

 

Suga respectfully bows out of their walk home, because Michimiya asked him to help her struggling team member, because of course she did. He and Asahi walk in comfortable silence. Asahi is probably contemplating something artistic like the change of seasons and what this final summer means for them after their loss at the Inter-High. Daichi is contemplating kissing Suga on Suga’s bed where the sun hits a specific spot in the afternoon and makes everything warm and slow.

 

“So,” Asahi says, sounding like he would rather Nishinoya come out of absolutely nowhere and roundhouse kick him in the face than continue his sentence, “what was that at lunch today?”

 

“Oh,” Daichi says, and takes a deep breath.

 

It’ll be fine. Asahi is his best friend— after Suga— and Asahi deserves to know. It would probably be good for Asahi to know that he has someone to talk to in the team about being in a gay relationship, since it’s probably pretty weird for him when all Nishinoya and Tanaka talk about are girls, but Noya likes Asahi well enough, as Asahi has told Suga multiple times in much more detail than he clearly ever planned to divulge. Daichi can offer that olive branch. He’s been good at extending offers like that to Asahi for their whole friendship, little tethers to bind them close to one another when Asahi seems like he thinks they’re drifting apart.

 

“Well,” Daichi clears his throat, “Suga and I are dating.”

 

“What,” Asahi whispers, going ghostly pale. Not the reaction Daichi was expecting, but he thunders on.

 

“Yeah, I confessed to him on the last day of second year. He’s wanted to keep things pretty quiet since then, so we haven’t told anybody— well, I told Michimiya, but only because I needed her advice on something— and I wanted to tell you, I did, but you know, I’m trying to respect Suga’s wishes.”

 

“Oh no,” Asahi murmurs, and Daichi cuts an offended look at him.

“Asahi,” he scolds, “I’m disappointed in you. You can’t be homophobic.”

 

“I literally have a boyfriend,” Asahi murmurs, putting a wrist to his forehead like he’s afraid he might faint, “oh no.”

 

“Stop that,” Daichi says, lightly punching his shoulder. Asahi jolts, then shakes himself like a wet dog.

 

“You’re right. Sorry, Daichi, I have to— forgot something at the gym— I’ll— yeah.” And then he turns, and sprints away as fast as his long legs will carry him. Daichi watches him go with abject concern and a mild sense of miffed-ness settling in his chest.

 

“That was weird,” he says out loud to himself in the empty street, because someone or something in the universe might as well bear witness to that truth. It eats at his heels all the way home, as he steps out of his shoes in the genkan. His father must have finished work early, because he walks past, making faces at Yoichi who screeches in delight and pulls at his neatly-trimmed beard with his little hands.

 

“Wuh-oh,” he says, eyes landing on Daichi, “you know, if the wind changes, you’ll be stuck with that face.”

 

“Tou-san, what do you do if your friend is homophobic but also has a boyfriend?”

 

His father blinks at him. Daichi blinks back. His mother says he got his father’s eyes, and most of the time he thinks that’s true, so all he can really think is am I that obvious when I’m freaking out? His father bounces Yoichi on his hip, places one strong, sturdy hand on Daichi’s shoulder and tells him with complete, one-hundred percent conviction:

 

“Ask your mother.”

 

Daichi does not, in fact, ask his mother, mostly because she would probably give him a good smack around the ears for asking dumb questions, and partly also because she’s busy having an all-out war with Makoto about a specific t-shirt she wants to wear out to the movies with her friends. Akihiro takes refuge in the corner of Daichi’s room, which is fine, because Daichi is supposed to be doing math homework but he’s mostly doodling Koushi + Daichi in little hearts in the margin instead. Akihiro is very much not doing homework and is possibly in the early stages of a gacha game addiction, but that’s not Daichi’s business when the prospect of kissing Suga is much more important, and is immediately overriding any Asahi-weirdness.

 

It comes back to bite him first thing in the morning though. Asahi is hardly ever the first one to practice, but when Daichi steps into the club room he finds Asahi hunched forward with his hands tucked under his armpits, whispering urgently to Nishinoya and Tanaka. Tanaka jumps so violently at his entrance that he catches his shoulder on the shelving unit and promptly howls in pain. Asahi all but leaps into Nishinoya’s arms, and Nishinoya smiles so wide Daichi thinks he might have plans to launch across the room at mach speeds and bite him like a particularly unfriendly goose.

 

“Hello?” He says, beginning to shrug out of his gakuran.

 

“Dai-san,” Tanaka says gravely, “we have to talk to you about something.”

 

“I think you should sit down, Daichi,” Asahi says, gripping Nishinoya’s shoulder. Nishinoya pats his hand consolingly. “I think I should sit down too, actually.”

 

“Okay, big guy, let’s find you a seat,” Nishinoya says, which is surprisingly kind of him. Any altruism on Noya’s part is immediately negated by the fact that he simply sits on Asahi as soon as he’s been lowered onto the bench seat that runs the length of one wall. Tanaka nervously rocks onto his heels, leaning his shoulders against the shelves and screwing his face up unhappily.

 

“Daichi-san,” Tanaka says, apparently recognizing he’s somewhat of the leader in all of this. For a moment, Daichi’s heart tugs with familiar fondness. He wouldn’t be unhappy to hand the team over to Tanaka when his time here is over. He’d take care of them. “You know how much we respect you.”

 

“Yes?” Daichi says, going for amused, and missing by a mile. Noya is actively patting Asahi’s head like he is a frightened kitten.

 

“It’s really hard to tell you this,” Tanaka continues, groaning and rubbing the back of his neck, “shit, how do I even say it-”

 

“You guys are starting to scare me-”

 

“Good morning everyo— why do you all look like you’re about to attend a funeral?” Asahi jumps about a mile in the air as Suga swings the door open, effectively dislodging Nishinoya and giving him a choice between falling flat on his ass or landing on his feet. Tanaka goes ram-rod straight and whirls toward the lockers with a vengeance. Daichi feels his brain go fuzzy. Suga’s presence has that effect on him, especially when he’s trying to hop out of his shoes, and is using Daichi’s shoulder to steady himself.

 

“Hi, Suga,” Daichi says, knowing he sounds smitten. Suga raises a brow at him.

 

“Hi, Daichi,” he says tucking his shoes into his cubby and then shrugging out of his jacket, “is anyone going to give me an answer or are you all just going to keep being weird?”

 

“Asahi-san is going to help me with my receives!” Nishinoya declares, grabbing Asahi by the hand and forcibly towing him from the room. Tanaka splutters something that sounds like vague agreement and runs after them with surprising urgency. Daichi thought it was pretty obvious Noya was trying to get some alone-time before practice, but if Tanaka wants to crash that and risk Noya’s wrath, that’s his decision.

 

“Well then,” Suga says, unbuttoning his shirt, “you don’t happen to have any idea what that was all about, do you?”

 

“I really don’t,” Daichi says, scratching the back of his head and trying really hard not to look at Suga’s bare shoulders. “They started acting like they had to break a death in the family to me as soon as I walked in, but they never got around to what they actually wanted to tell me.”

 

“So glad to see it’ll be another normal one with the Karasuno Volleyball Club,” Suga says, at the exact moment that Kageyama and Hinata’s squalling becomes audible. Suga looks him dead in the eye. “Mine’s on Kageyama.”

 

“I think Hinata is infinitely more rabid when he’s trying to make up for something,” Daichi counters.

 

Daichi ends up being the one to buy taiyaki from Coach Ukai’s store, because apparently Hinata’s endless viciousness when it comes to proving people wrong isn’t enough to win in the face of Kageyama’s desperation to keep up a winning streak. Daichi doesn’t mind, though. There’s a specific joy in watching Suga eat, and the hand he curls around Daichi’s bicep is a welcome consolation prize, too.

 

*

 

An opportunity presents itself right before the week-long Tokyo training camp. Daichi’s house is farther from the school, and that’s fine on normal days, but when they’re supposed to leave pre-dawn and Daichi has two very young siblings, Sugawara-san clearly understands the desperation in his parents’ eyes and offers to let him stay over the night before.

 

Daichi’s mother kisses him on both cheeks, fusses over his hair, cradles his face and tells him if Suga’s mother has any reason to call her about anything he can kiss life goodbye. His father smiles and tells him to play hard, and kisses his wife on the part of her hair. Daichi spends as much of the walk to school lecturing the eldest kids about behaving and helping their mother, before their paths diverge and Akihiro scampers after Makoto with renewed vigor.

 

The day goes by in a blur. Most of it is characterised by thoughts of kissing Suga, which is a very not-far away reality. Potential reality. If Suga wants to kiss him, obviously. But this is Daichi’s fantasy and by god does fantasy-Suga want to kiss fantasy-Daichi a whole lot. Better than that, they can cuddle. The thought makes Daichi sink his head onto his forearms so none of his classmates can see his giddy smile. Cuddling with Suga. Suga, who is his boyfriend. Yeah.

 

“Excuse me,” Tsukishima intones, during practice. Daichi blinks, wiping away some water that’s been falling down his chin from a sloppy pull of his water bottle. Tsukishima arcs an elegant finger toward Yamaguchi, who has one hand clutched in the back of his jersey and is watching Daichi with blatant concern. “Yamaguchi wants to know if you’re alright.”

 

“Tsukki!” Yamaguchi hisses, and thumps his friend solidly in the back. Tsukishima blinks lazily.

 

“I’m fine!” Daichi laughs. “Thanks for your concern, Tsukishima, Yamaguchi, but I’m just excited for tomorrow.”

 

“Okay,” Tsukishima says, and makes a move to physically leave the conversation. Yamaguchi’s hand in his shirt grounds him and he ragdolls off the end of his grip with palpable shock. Yamaguchi seems oblivious, scratching idly at his cheek.

 

“If you say so! I was just, well, I was just checking because you’ve. You missed quite a few um, receives.”

 

“Oh,” Daichi blinks. He had, that’s true. Suga is distracting at worst, and today is somewhere below that because Daichi is going to Suga’s house, where he will sleep in Suga’s room, probably in Suga’s bed because they won’t have time to pack up the futon before getting up to catch the team’s bus and Suga hates leaving things half-finished, and he will probably kiss Suga. If the incredible shade of beet-red Yamaguchi goes whenever Suga compliments him on anything is something to judge by, Daichi thinks the kid might understand.


“It’s nothing,” he concludes belatedly, “just excitement, like I said.”

 

“Okay,” Yamaguchi says, sounding unconvinced. Tsukishima clicks his tongue.

 

“Yamaguchi, let’s go.”

 

“Oops! Sorry, Tsukki!” And just like that he trots off, Tsukishima falling into easy step with him. This does, however, mean Daichi finally notices Tanaka, Shimizu, Nishinoya and Asahi staring at him with blatant concern. He raises an eyebrow at them. Tanaka suddenly finds the ceiling very interesting, Noya throws both arms around Asahi’s waist and tilts his chin up like he’s asking for a kiss, which makes Asahi flush to the roots of his hair. Shimizu simply adjusts her glasses and power-walks toward where Yachi is nodding like a bobblehead and Hinata is trying to explain something that’s making both Suga and Ennoshita look at him like he’s spontaneously gained the ability to recite the alphabet backward in French and is doing so currently.

 

Those three are being weird. Shimizu is not included, because Shimizu is always vaguely mysterious and soft-spoken, but Asahi, Noya and Tanaka have been avoiding him like the plague because he keeps asking what thing they were going to tell him about the other day in the club room, and it seems they’re all too chickenshit without anyone else to back them up, which means it was probably some stupid prank, and Daichi shouldn’t worry about it. Except maybe he should, if they’re all looking at him like that. Have they caused property damage he’s not aware of? Another toupee incident? He would rather die than have it be another toupee incident.

 

Either way, practice wraps up, Asahi mumbles something about staying with Noya while Tanaka and the rest of the second years heckle him, and Daichi puts his hand in Suga’s as they walk home. Suga likes to swing his hand when he walks, although Daichi’s pretty sure the motion is reflexive and not at all conscious, because Suga’s gait has always been particularly springy and Daichi is happy to be pulled along into the flow.

 

Suga’s mother works late nights at the hospital, and Suga’s father is often in the city for business. Suga’s brother tends to spend a lot of time at violin practice, well into the night, and so the house is empty when the pair of them step into the genkan.

 

“No point getting out the futon, right?” Suga asks, snagging an apple in a quick detour through the kitchen. “Unless you don’t mind getting up a little earlier?”

 

“I’d prefer sleep,” Daichi says, “and I don’t mind sharing.”

 

“Okay,” Suga says, and offers him a bite. Daichi sinks his teeth into the flesh of the apple, mostly as a way to combat the stupid smile and stupid flush threatening to give away just how little he minds sharing a bed with Suga. They probably won’t be able to get away with it at camp— not without giving their thing away to the whole team, and after the weird thing with Asahi, Daichi isn’t super willing to do that— and unless Daichi can think up some grand reason to organize more sleepovers, this might be the only time they get some quality cuddling in for a while.

 

“You look lost in thought,” Suga says, dumping his bag on the ground, “I’m gonna take a shower, but did you want it first?”

 

“You go,” Daichi says, all sunshine-chipper and sweet like molasses. Suga gives him a peace sign, discards his apple core in the trash can and ducks out of the room, at which point Daichi puts his head between his knees and lets himself go red all the way down the back of his neck and to the tips of his ears.

 

Suga being out of the shower is also fucking lethal, because his hair is damp and curls at the ends where it sticks to his face. Daichi is supposed to be writing about socio-economic contributions to the change in traditional architecture for history class, but all he can do is stare at Suga’s rapidly drying hair and fight the insane urge to tuck a strand of it behind his ear. Which he is doing. Because thinking about it was the final straw and Daichi’s stupid, tanned hand has knuckles resting on Suga’s cheek, and Suga looks like a startled deer as Daichi gently brushes the softest, most silken strand of hair he’s ever fucking touched away from Suga’s face, neatly securing it behind the elegant shell of his ear.

 

“Huh?” Suga says, breathy and high-pitched, like he’s struggling to get the words out around a plum-pit lodged in his throat.

 

“Is that better?” Daichi asks, surprising himself at how quiet and low his voice is where it rumbles from somewhere deep in his solar plex. “It looked like it was in the way.”

 

“It’s,” Suga says, and then blinks. Doesn’t finish his sentence. Closes his eyes, and exhales again. Suga’s eyelashes are so pretty. Suga is prettier than literally anything else Daichi has ever seen. He wants to kiss him so badly. He wants to kiss him so badly that it makes his chest physically hurt with the want of it all, like Suga has wrapped his delicate little hand around Daichi’s thump-thumping heart and proceeded to squeeze it into pulpy mush with his surprisingly considerable force. “It’s fine. It’s okay.”

 

“Okay,” Daichi whispers, “I think we should kiss.”

 

Time suspends for a moment, dust particles swirling around them as the last dregs of the day cling stubbornly to the sky, bathing them both in an orange glow. Suga’s eyes are big and unblinking as he stares at Daichi, lips parted and slack and just a little shiny because Suga has a habit of licking his lips when he’s thinking hard about something, and Daichi wants to kiss him. Wants, wants, wants.

 

“What?” Suga manages, finally.

 

“I think,” Daichi repeats, gently brushing his knuckle along the cut of Suga’s jaw, marvelling at the strength of it despite the delicacy of its appearance, “that we should kiss.”

 

“Like,” Suga says, beautiful brows knitting on his beautiful forehead, “like practice kiss?”

 

“I guess,” Daichi laughs, and it feels like swallowing honey to him as it pours out of him. It feels tinged with every ounce of affection he feels for Suga, who is so weird sometimes. “We should practice, yeah, so we get really good at it.”

 

“You’re so weird,” Suga breathes out, and Daichi opens his mouth to tell him he’s the weird one, but Suga’s hands are on his face, yanking him in and crushing their mouths together.

 

It’s not at all how Daichi expected Suga to kiss. Somehow, he expected him to be sweet and shy like taking an experimental bite of a strawberry in the height of summer and the cool relief when juices don’t run down your chin and threaten to stain your white shirt. Suga doesn’t kiss like that at all. Suga kisses like he’s been wandering through the desert for upward of twenty years and Daichi is the first sign of anything that’s not sand. Suga kisses like he can’t get enough of him, hands carding through Daichi’s hair, leg thrown into his lap and knocking their workbooks aside as he tilts his head and presses their lips together again, and again, and again.

 

Daichi helps him up, settles his broad hands on Suga’s strong hips, pulls him into his lap. Suga hooks both arms over his shoulders and leans all of his weight back. Daichi follows him down onto the bed, smoothing his palms along his back as Suga cages his head in with his biceps and kisses him slowly. Daichi is sure he could kiss Suga forever. His lips are kissable, he was right, and kissing him is addictive. Now that Daichi is effectively tangled in him, he seems less in a rush, stroking his setter’s fingers through Daichi’s hair, pressing his tongue against Daichi’s as they kiss, and kiss and kiss.

 

By the time they surface, gently unfurling at the sound of Sugawara-san’s voice in the genkan, there’s no more sun and Suga is lit up by the vague light of the moon from somewhere outside his window. His lips are kiss-swollen and slightly red, his hair is a mess, and he looks like Daichi has carved a star from the sky and handed it to him in open palms. Happy. Radiantly so.

 

“I have no clue what excuse I’m going to give my mother,” Suga whispers, and Daichi laughs, and kicks him off the bed.

 

Suga goes down in a flurry of limbs, and their subsequent squawking drags Suga’s mother up to check on them instead of the other way around. Suga prances into her arms, cuddles into her side and refuses to leave until he’s been granted a kiss on his forehead as consolation for Daichi’s supposed ‘bullying’. Sugawara-san gives him a knowing look over Suga’s head though, the kind that says she knows her son is a menace and her high opinion of him hasn’t changed at all, so Daichi pillows his cheek on his folded forearms and smiles at both of them fondly, the feeling of Suga’s lips against his still making them buzz too much to form any other coherent thought.

 

“You’re evil,” Suga tells him, pushing Daichi onto his back and swinging into the cradle of his lap. Daichi presses his feet down on the bed and pushes his knees up to give Suga something to lean against, which he does, eyes tracing Daichi’s hands as they settle around his delicate ankles, drawing reverent patterns over the bones. “Turning one’s mother against them is foul play, Sawamura.”

 

“Pot meet kettle,” Daichi snips back, pinching the skin and suffering a kick to his armpit for his efforts, “do you have any idea how much my mother loves you?”

 

“Probably because I’m the only one who tells her that her hair looks nice,” Suga sniffs, “you could stand to be nicer to poor Sawamura-san, Dai-kun.”

 

“I’m a great son!” Daichi whines in protest, and Suga laughs so hard that he bends in on himself, so Daichi nudges his nose against his cheek until he gets the message and slots their lips together again.

 

Kissing Suga while he’s laughing is like drinking soft-drink too fast. It makes his gut feel bubbly in the best way, and he can’t help but huff into it too, little chuckles that make his shoulders shake as Suga curls his fingers against them. It’s not just kisses being exchanged now, but pure joy, and Suga’s waist fits so perfectly under his hands, Suga’s mouth fits so perfectly against his, Suga’s eyelashes feel like heaven where they brush his cheek from how close their faces are to each other. Daichi never wants to be far away from Suga again. He would die happy if he could always stay this close.

 

“We have to stop,” Suga murmurs into his mouth, “it’s embarrassing if our dedication to practice is for kissing and not volleyball. What would Kageyama and Hinata say?”


“Don’t tell Kageyama or Hinata,” Daichi murmurs, sliding his hands down to gently rub Suga’s thighs. Suga’s foot twitches against Daichi’s hip in a ticklish motion.

 

“Good plan,” he says back, right into Daichi’s mouth, and it strikes Daichi fifty shades of fond. “But we really do have to stop practice kissing, Daichi, or my mother is going to make you sleep on the couch. Can’t have our dear Captain-kun with a crick in his neck for the first day of a training camp, can we?”

 

“Stop me from falling asleep on the bus then,” Daichi retorts, chasing Suga’s lips as he sits back, pushing fingers through his hair. Daichi hasn’t gotten to touch it as much as he wanted to, which is absolutely criminal. Suga’s other hand splays against his chest, fingers arching as he gently shoves Daichi back against his mattress.

 

“Do your homework, Sawamura.”

 

Daichi does, begrudgingly, do his homework, somewhat vindicated by the shy, curious looks that Suga shoots him from under his lashes the whole time. Dinner in the Sugawara household is always fun. Suga and his brother call their father while Daichi helps their mother plate up, and then the Sugawara brothers instigate some kind of war at the table. Sugawara-san simply turns to Daichi and asks him about school and volleyball and his family and would he like to come on the Sugawara camping trip this year too, as a graduation present? Daichi thinks yes, and then stumbles through the rest of the conversation imagining kissing Suga with the scent of pine needles in his hair.

 

He and Suga brush their teeth side by side in the bathroom, Suga elbowing him playfully in the side while Daichi tries to squash him by getting his arm on top of his head and pushing down. Suga always wriggles away, because Suga’s always been just slightly more nimble than Daichi. His reflexes are quick, but Suga’s always been more fluid than him, more sure of himself in his own body. He’s always admired that about Suga, really. That’s something he can tell him now, probably. It’s not weird to tell your boyfriend all the things you like about him.

 

“What side of the bed do you normally sleep on?” Suga asks as he throws himself onto his mattress and bounces a little. “I don’t usually like to sleep wall-side because I don’t like to feel trapped, but if you prefer sleeping next to the edge—”

 

“No, wall-side is fine,” Daichi says, shaking his head. Suga’s bed isn’t even big enough for there to be sides. Every time he and Daichi have lain on it before, they’ve been wedged up against each other like sardines, and that was over the covers just talking. They are absolutely not going to fit in it unless they’re all over each other, and this bodes extremely well for Daichi’s Grand Cuddling plans. Maybe Suga will like to spoon. Daichi thinks he’d like to spoon Suga.

 

“Come on then,” Suga says, slaps the mattress. “I’m not getting up, by the way.”

 

“Lazy,” Daichi teases, getting a knee on the bed and swinging over Suga to flop down on his other side. “What would Coach Ukai say?”

 

“He’ll say nothing, because I’m allowed to be lazy in my own bed.”

 

“Okay,” Daichi snorts, obediently tucking himself under the covers as Suga hauls them higher around them. He flicks off the bedside lamp and rolls over to face Daichi, features obscured in the dark. Daichi can barely make out the slope of his cheek, but that’s okay. He’s known Suga and loved Suga for long enough. That alone is a starting point from which he can remap the entirety of him.

 

“I’m really excited,” Suga whispers, “I don’t know if I can sleep.”

 

“Yeah you can,” Daichi whispers back, reaching out and gently brushing his fingers over Suga’s cheek. “Just close your eyes. Shhh.”

 

Suga blows a raspberry. Daichi’s other hand snakes out and digs into Suga’s side. This is an effective tactic at getting the upper hand that Daichi had discovered completely on accident when Suga had picked a tickle fight with Asahi on a day when he’d been particularly moody. Suga’s resulting shriek had stopped them both dead, before Asahi had lunged in a valiant attempt at revenge for all of Suga’s evilness. Works out well for Daichi too, as Suga makes a muffled squealing noise and tries to swat at him in the dark.

 

There’s not much force behind his fists, bouncing off of Daichi’s shoulders as he tickles him. Suga’s breathless with silent laughter, but Daichi’s close enough to hear the hiccuping noises that mean he’s managed to laugh himself to tears. Daichi likes that about Suga’s laugh; that he never does it by halves, that it’s always so full of joy that it spills over in ways like this.

 

“Stop,” Suga croaks, almost against Daichi’s neck, “mercy, okay? Mercy! I promise I’ll shut up and go to sleep.”

 

“Good,” Daichi settles down, hooks one arm under Suga and tugs him back against his chest. Suga makes a noise, body tense against him, before Daichi feels him relax into the curve of his body. Suga runs cold most of the time, but he’s pleasantly warm where his back presses to Daichi’s chest through the fabric of their sleep shirts. Daichi hooks his other arm over his middle, and snuggles into the space behind one of his shoulder blades. Suga lets out a little, huffy laugh.

 

“Of course you’re a cuddler.”

 

“Mm.”

 

“I knew you were lying about the stuffed toys not being yours. I bet yours was the dog, right?”

 

“Suga, shut up,” Daichi says, but he’s smiling, and because he’s smiling into Suga’s back, he’s sure Suga can feel it. Suga kicks him with his cold foot, and Daichi squawks, and then kicks him back, and then they’re both kicking until Suga has to stop because he’s laughing too hard and he has to focus on gulping down air. It’s ridiculous, and Daichi wants more of it. Wants it to become as familiar as a heartbeat. He really needs better excuses for sleepovers.

 

It’s a special thing, to be able to feel Suga fall asleep. It’s in the slow relax of his body, the way his breathing evens out, the way his head lolls forward just a little because it’s not in a super stable position on the pillow. Daichi tugs said pillow down to stop Suga from having a sore neck in the morning, brushes his lips over the nape of his neck, closes his eyes, and falls into blissful sleep with a contented smile on his face.

 

*

 

“Uuuurgh,” says Nishinoya, doubled over so far that his head is between his knees.

 

“Yeah,” Tanaka wheezes next to him, deciding he’s had enough of standing and deciding to sit flat on his ass. Suga makes a half-whimpering, half-laughing sound of agreement, and Daichi- who feels like his lungs might fall out of his mouth at any second- is very much on the same page as all three of them.

 

Shinzen’s heat is unforgiving and —worse— muggy,  and the hill-sprints during the middle of the day are always the worst. The only ones who seem unaffected at the minute are Hinata and Kageyama, who are having a full-on fist fight over who is first to get back into the gym. Tsukishima is glaring at the pair of them like if he had an iota more energy he would have twisted both of their heads clean off, and even Yamaguchi’s stare radiates malevolence.

 

“I think I’m dying,” Asahi says to Daichi’s left, pulling his headband loose and re-gathering his hair into a more secure bun to keep the majority of it off his neck.

 

“Just a few more, big guy,” Suga says, slinging one sweaty arm over Asahi’s shoulders, and the other over Daichi’s, “I’m starting setter next set, and I need my two best hitters in top form.”

 

This is one of the great things about the Tokyo camp, Daichi thinks. Coach Ukai has them playing on random rotation so that everyone gets time to practice. It means Daichi has had several of Suga’s beautiful sets to slam onto the court, and he’s spoiled with the free practice afterward as well. The synchronized attack is hard to get down, but everyone’s working hard, and some of the shyer second years like Ennoshita have even decided to try and get in on it. Most importantly, the look on Suga’s face whenever they nail a hit is very kissable, and there’s very few people around as night drags on. Daichi’s almost positive they could find a secluded spot behind the gym to kiss.

 

They’re the last ones in the gym today. Hinata and Kageyama aren’t practicing together anymore, so Kageyama’s in a different gym with Yachi and Ukai to work on his setting, Asahi had respectfully bowed out to help Nishinoya with his new libero-set, and then they’d both mysteriously vanished, and Tanaka had dipped out for a friendly scrimmage with Yamamoto from Nekoma and a couple others rounded up from the other teams.

 

Suga’s setting to him, winding down from a long day. That’s fine with Daichi; it’s probably not helping to improve their ultimate skills a whole lot, but it helps with accuracy and honestly, Daichi’s thighs are starting to ache from the strain of the day. He really just wants to win a set tomorrow. The hill sprints are getting kind of old now. It’s nice, the sound of the ball leaving his hands, the squeak of volleyball shoes on the court, the sound of air rushing as the ball arcs out of Suga’s fingers, the sharp thud of Daichi’s hand on it before it spirals onto the floor and bounces away toward a wall.

 

“Yahoo,” Kuroo Tetsurou says, toeing off his running shoes and hopping one-footed into his volleyball shoes. Daichi cradles the ball he’d been about to throw against his chest, casting a quizzical look at Suga from the corner of his eye as he meanders closer. Yaku— Nekoma’s libero and Suga’s friend— is trailing him, gripping onto the tails of his jacket for balance as he wedges his feet into his shoes.

 

“Kuroo,” Daichi says by way of greeting, “you need someone to practice with?”

 

“Fuck, no,” Kuroo says, “your first years are running me ragged. I’m too old for this shit, Sawamura.”

 

“Alright, grandpa,” Yaku snorts, shoving him forward by the small of his back, “ignore him, he’s just being dramatic.”

 

“My back hurts,” Kuroo whines, “crack it like a glowstick, c’mon.”

 

Yaku rolls his eyes, and then he punches Kuroo solidly in the spine. There are about five consecutive clicks. Suga and Daichi stare at each other and then at Kuroo in combined horror. Kuroo looks quietly acceptant, and Yaku looks smug as Kuroo rotates his torso with a hum of content.

 

“Hey, not bad. Good work, Yaku-paisen.”

 

“Funny,” Yaku rolls his eyes, “sorry about him, Suga-kun. He’s meant to be making a delivery.”

 

“Don’t mind,” Suga says, because Suga is entertained by Kuroo, which is an unfair reality. It’s incredibly rude of Kuroo to be tall, good-looking, athletic, smart and entertaining by Suga’s standards. Not that Kuroo is anything of a threat to Daichi’s relationship, because he’s practically married to his little setter already. Still, he can’t help the irrational pang of jealousy, and he shuffles closer to Suga self consciously as Kuroo snaps his fingers and digs something out of the pockets of his club jacket.

 

“Right. Shrimpy left his kneepads in the gym.”

 

“Hinata,” Suga sighs in exasperation, holding out his hand for them. Kuroo deposits them with a grave nod, before absently wiping his palm against the outside of his thigh. Daichi doesn’t blame him. He’s catching whiffs of Hinata’s lingering sweat from here, and it’s not good.

 

“Don’t blame him too much, Bokuto’s kind of infectious that way. That’s what we’re for anyway, right Yakkun?”

 

“I don’t remember signing a clause saying I was becoming someone’s maid,” Yaku says archly, although his eyes are twinkling. Kuroo faux-sighs and tips his head back as Suga chuckles politely, head cocked to the side.

 

“Just comes with the territory of being a good senpai,” Kuroo says, wicked grin returning as he continues in his signature drawl; “not that you’d know anything about that.”

 

Suga laughs in earnest then as Yaku’s face goes slack and he balls a hand, aiming a solid punch at Kuroo’s arm. Kuroo scrambles sideways as fast as his long legs can take him, dancing around Yaku’s pummeling fists and cackling his chainsaw laugh. Suga seems to think this is hilarious, because he’s clutching his stomach with one hand and laughing so hard that tears are gathering on his lower lashes. Daichi accepts their practice has been well and truly interrupted, and dumps the ball back into the cart, shoulders shaking around his chuckles.

 

“Anyway,” Yaku huffs, fixing his hair as Kuroo grins and gives Suga a conspiratorial wink that makes Daichi’s hackles raise a completely reasonable amount, “are you guys doing college tours in Tokyo later this year?”

 

“Most likely,” Suga says with a nod, “there’s a couple of campuses I’ve been considering. What about you, Daichi?”

 

“Yeah, me too. Better engineering programs than in Sendai, reportedly.”

 

“Cool,” Kuroo says, “we should all hang out. Hey, if you two come down together I’ll drag Kenma out and we can make a double date out of it.”

 

“Why would it be a double date?” Suga asks, with a polite little laugh. Daichi frowns at him, opening his mouth to ask if he somehow hit his head when he wasn’t looking. Because they’re dating, obviously. Because Kuroo is inviting them to hang out with his boyfriend. As boyfriends. Who are hanging out with other boyfriends.

 

“Well,” Kuroo says, before he can get the words out, sounding unsure of himself now, “you guys are dating, right?”

 

This is completely on Daichi. The whole not telling people thing is something he’s fine with, really, but sometimes he just wants the opportunity to gush, and Kuroo seemed safe. He teases, and he likes to dig under people’s skin, but he’s surprisingly thoughtful and sweet. It was nice to talk to him about it.

 

So Kuroo knows. Probably, he should have told Suga this, but Yaku is suddenly looking at Kuroo like he’s just opened a box labelled BEES. DO NOT OPEN. and Suga’s brow has scrunched up in genuine befuddlement as his mouth forms around words. And so it is that he speaks at the exact same time that Daichi also speaks around a punched-out laugh.

 

“Well, yeah?”

 

“No?”

 

“What?” Suga says.

 

“What?” Daichi parrots.

 

“... What?” Kuroo asks, and then hisses as Yaku stamps on his foot with probably considerable strength.

 

“We’re… dating?” Daichi clarifies, making serious eye contact with Suga. Suga’s eyes get incrementally wider as he nods. It’s not a good kind of nod. It’s the kind of nod Suga does when he’s trying to appease someone while processing. Daichi can see the gears turning over and over in his head.

 

“Mhm,” Suga says, voice squeaky, “are we?”

 

“Yes? I confessed to you at the end of second year?”

 

“What,” Suga says, and then his face falls in horror. “Oh no.”

 

“Suga.”

 

“You… confessed,” Suga whispers. “Oh my god. But you said… practice kissing.”

 

“I said we could practice to get good at it? We hadn’t kissed before.”

 

“Suga-kun,” Yaku murmurs with palpable disappointment, and then yelps when Kuroo elbows him solidly.

 

“Oh, would you look at that!” Kuroo’s voice is high-pitched now, but Daichi can’t really pay attention to anything he’s doing given that he’s coming to the earth-shattering realization that Suga doesn’t think they’re dating. “We have to go uh— well, be anywhere else.”

 

“Bye!” Yaku adds, before they’re all but sprinting out of the gym.

 

Then it’s just them. Just Daichi, arms slack at his sides, and Suga, clutching Hinata’s stinky kneepads in a white-knuckled grip, face slowly crawling through the five stages of grief.

 

“You accepted it,” Daichi says, a little hurt now, “you accepted my confession.”

 

“Daichi,” Suga’s voice cracks, “you said we should play volleyball together for a long time.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“That’s not,” Suga inhales deeply, “that’s not a confession?”

 

“We’re partners! I meant we should be partners for a long time!”

 

“Oh no,” Suga mutters faintly, pressing his palm to his forehead and staring blankly at the ground. “Oh no. The lunches. The hugs. Daichi—”

 

“We’re dating,” Daichi protests weakly. A new thought strikes cold dread into him then, like a bucket of ice water being dumped over his head and rapidly engulfing him in the chill. “Do you… not want to date me?”

 

“No!” Suga throws his hands out, swearing to himself as Hinata’s kneepads drop, startling them both. “No, that’s not what I— Daichi?”

 

“I thought…” Daichi mumbles, “I just really wanted you to be my boyfriend.”


Suga stares at him. Suga stares, gobsmacked, mouth hanging open, watching what must be a flush crawl up Daichi’s face. He can feel tears welling a little as his stomach falls out from under him. He’s not dating Suga. Suga is not his boyfriend. This sucks. This is the worst day of his life. He needs a new name, a new identity, and a new life in a different country. Maybe somewhere miserable like Australia.

 

Then Suga starts to laugh.

 

Suga is laughing, breathy little hiccupy things, like he can barely get them out around tears. Daichi wants to pout, but Suga is so close to him, cradling his face, stroking his thumbs over his cheekbones and shaking him slightly. He smushes his cheeks and Daichi blinks at him in shock as Suga leans his forehead forward, right against Daichi’s nose.

 

“Suga?” He manages, even if it’s mangled.

 

“You’re so dumb,” Suga says, “I’m so dumb. We’re so dumb. That’s not a confession, you big, stupid, beautiful idiot. Try again.”

 

“Again? I,” Daichi pauses, frowns, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say? I thought I had it pretty good the first time.”

 

“You didn’t,” Suga tells him, and Daichi’s frown deepens, “all you have to do is tell me what you really feel about me. Like, I really like you. Really like you. You have no clue how much time I spend staring at your ear in class.”

 

“My… ear?”

 

“You have a freckle,” Suga tells him, fingers sliding back to trace the shell, “right here.”

 

“Oh,” Daichi breathes, eyes flicking down to Suga’s lips. He’s biting the lower one to fight back a smile. He wants to kiss the smile off of him. He wants to feel it pressed against his lips and he wants to smile back, and he wants their teeth to knock because they’re smiling too much and he wants to kiss Suga’s laughter out of his mouth just like the last time. And he wants to do it all as his boyfriend, for real this time, no wiggle room for misunderstandings. He wants to do it right.

 

“I really like you too, Suga,” Daichi says, earnestly as he can, “I don’t think about a lot else but you. I think about kissing you all the time, and holding your hand, and taking you on dates and I—”

 

Suga kisses him. Holds his face steady and presses their mouths together, has to stretch on the tips of his toes just a little to get the angle right. Reflexively, Daichi’s hands settle on his waist, mould into them like they were made to fit there. It sends a little thrill down his spine as he closes his eyes and tilts his head, lets Suga steal kiss upon kiss from his lips. He probably looks like a kicked puppy when Suga stops, ghosting his lips over his chin and his jaw.

 

“You have to say it,” Suga breathes, “you have to ask.”

 

“Ask?”

 

“You know,” Suga murmurs, lips catching on the lobe of Daichi’s ear. It makes him shudder all the way down to his toes. “Ask me out.”

 

“Oh, right,” Daichi mutters back, not feeling capable of higher brain function when Suga’s hand has slid back to curl into the hair at the base of his neck.

 

“For real this time.”

 

“Yes, yes, I get it,” but he can’t find it in himself to be genuinely pissed at Suga. Not when his future is on the tip of his tongue. Suga’s laughing against his jaw, pressing butterfly-like kisses there as his free hand curls and uncurls against the collar of his t-shirt, like he’s waiting for the right excuse to haul him in and kiss him stupid.

 

“Suga,” he says, nuzzling Suga’s cheek and trying to chase his lips as Suga tilts his head this way and that, running from him, “Sugawara Koushi.”

 

“Ooh, the full name,” Suga all-but-purrs, “pulling out all the stops, Sawamura.”

 

“Be my boyfriend. Date me,” he says, hooks his index fingers into the top of Suga’s practice shorts for purchase and tugs him closer, finally catches him off guard enough to kiss him again. Suga hums against his lips, nods. It knocks their noses together, and Daichi laughs into his mouth, feels it swallowed up as Suga curls closer and kisses him again.

 

“But,” he says between kisses, “you’re taking me on a proper date. Movies. You pay for dinner. Most expensive ramen I can find.”

 

“Okay,” Daichi agrees, because he’s pretty sure Suga’s kisses could convince him of anything, “bankrupt me then. See if I care.”

 

“Yuh-huh,” Suga says, in a way that indicates he’s not listening in the slightest, “kiss me, idiot.”

 

So he does. He wraps both arms around Suga’s middle and hauls him in close, smooths his palms over his back, traces the shape of his spine with his thumb. Suga’s arms settle over his shoulders, fingers stroking through his hair, laughter swallowed up between them. It’s not perfect. Their noses knock and their teeth clack together and Daichi is smiling so wide there’s hardly any lip to fit against Suga’s plush mouth. But it’s theirs, and it’s good, and it’s everything Daichi ever wanted.

 

Yeah, Daichi thinks, standing in Shinzen’s second gymnasium, kissing Suga— Suga his best friend, Suga his partner in volleyball, Suga his boyfriend, for real this time— on a humid summer night, I could get used to this.