Tanaka and Nishinoya had crossed a line, and extra laps or cleaning practice weren’t going to cut it. Daichi was, frankly speaking, sick and tired of having to play the bad guy whenever they were involved. He just didn’t want them to get into trouble, but no, he got stuck as the perpetually angry-slash-disappointed father figure.
Their line-crossing had involved copious amounts of Red Bull, water balloons, food dye, one of Ennoshita’s film plots, and bad ideas. Daichi, Asahi, and Yachi had been the unfortunate victims. He didn’t want to think about it. It was a miracle Yachi hadn’t run home, crying, and quit the club. (Daichi had felt like it. Asahi tearfully threatened Noya with it.)
“I need revenge,” Daichi announced on the way home from practice. His probably-ruined clothes were in his bag and he’d been forced to wear his sweats. His wet hair felt unnaturally cool, even in the late afternoon sun.
“How rare to hear that coming from you, of all people,” Suga replied dubiously, one eyebrow arched.
“They crossed a line, Suga. Trouble is one thing, accidents are another thing, but that…” He was going to have war flashbacks to that day in the future, he just knew it.
“I guess I feel a little sorry for poor Yachi. I’m not sure she’s really prepared for Noya and Tanaka at full blast yet.”
“And what about me and Asahi, huh…?” he muttered, annoyed.
Suga clapped him on the back with a grin. “It was funny! And they’ll probably drop from exhaustion tomorrow with all the extra laps you’ll pile on.”
“No, I need revenge. I need something to stop thinking they need to spice up practice or try to prank me or Asahi. Why aren’t you a target?” Daichi asked, but he already knew the answer. True, they didn’t exactly want to piss off the captain, and it wasn’t like they weren’t afraid of his wrath anymore, but Suga was… Suga. He was immune to everything. (Except overthinking, or being benched, or centipedes.)
“You want to prank them back?” Suga asked instead of replying.
“Yes. But only if I can outdo them.”
“I know I like to pretend I’m the team muse—thank you, I try,” he said with a chuckle at Daichi’s look, “but I don’t really know much about this sort of thing.”
“Team mom, not team muse.”
“Whose idea was it to first ask Kageyama to tailor his tosses to Hinata?”
“We would have figured that out eventually.”
“I don’t want to be a single mother,” he huffed.
Daichi resisted the urge to—something. Joke, or flirt, or jokingly flirt. No, those were all terrible ideas. That was why he needed help coming up with an idea for Tanaka and Nishinoya; Daichi just wasn’t an idea guy at heart.
“Whatever you do to shake them, you’re going to have to hit close to home. They’re unshakeable otherwise,” Suga continued, smiling again, but there was something a little tense about it. Daichi felt like he’d missed some sort of opportunity. He wasn’t sure how. “See you tomorrow, Daichi! I’ll be prepared to be dazzled by whatever you come up with!”
He waved dumbly at his setter’s disappearing back. Dazzled, right. He wasn’t sure he could do that, either.
Close to home, though… Maybe he could work with that.
He pulled out his phone, scrolled down his contacts list, and texted, “Hey. I need a favor.”
“Why’s Daichi-san acting so skittish today?” Tanaka asked, hands on his hips. He and Noya cocked their heads in unison. “He looks… nervous.”
“It’s so weird,” Noya agreed, arms crossed over his chest. They cocked their heads to the other side at the way their captain fumbled his water bottle and managed to drop it in front of Kiyoko and Yachi. His face was red when the third-year manager handed it back to him.
“I don’t think he’s sick, otherwise Suga-san would be worried, right?” Tanaka asked. Daichi was normally the stable one on their team; he wasn’t used to trying to puzzle him out. And it wasn’t like the guy was known to be particularly deceitful. Terrifying, yes, but not tricky.
“Suga-san is watching him like he’s confused, too, look,” Noya replied and jerked his head over to the setter. He was talking with Kageyama and Hinata, but it was obvious how frequently he was looking past them, in Daichi’s direction. “So maybe… he is worried?”
“No, man, that’s not worried. Worried Suga-san is a lot louder. That’s definitely confused Suga-san.”
“Is there a reason you two are chatting instead of running extra laps?” Ennoshita asked, coming up behind them, making them jump.
“Daichi-san only assigned like, five,” Noya replied and shrugged. He was just as confused at that as anyone else. “We’re already done, Chika.”
“Hm. Then why do you two look as if you’re still avoiding the captain?”
“Look at him!” Tanaka gestured with both hands.
“I’m looking,” Ennoshita said flatly.
“You just don’t get it,” Noya said, shaking his head. Tanaka quickly mirrored the movement. “Daichi-san is practically ignoring what we did yesterday, which is ominous. Ominous as hell. He looks frazzled today. Did we break him?”
“But he’s a little smiley. Normal smiles, not his scary ones,” Tanaka said, cringing.
“If it were anyone else, I’d say they were plotting something, but…” Ennoshita put his chin in his hand, frowning thoughtfully along with them.
Their questions were answered not a moment later. After a short conversation, Kiyoko leaned up and pressed a kiss to Daichi’s cheek. She was smiling, softly, when she pulled away. He rubbed the back of his head, chuckling, oblivious to the deafening silence that had fallen over the gym.
Tanaka and Noya were frozen in place, their world fallen away. Yachi, seated next to the couple, went white as a sheet. She may have had tears in her eyes. Suga dropped the clipboard he’d been holding; Hinata, back to what had just happened, caught it for him with a confused sound.
“…Ah,” Ennoshita said with an air of realization.
Tanaka may have shrieked. Noya charged forward, teeth bared, but then seemed to realize that was their captain, and instead collapsed to his hands and knees with a wail. Yachi wobbled dangerously in her seat, caught herself, and then slowly crept away to hide behind Takeda.
Tsukishima burst out laughing.
“This is, uh, more awkward than I thought it’d be,” Daichi admitted as they waved goodbye to the team after practice. Most were still too shell-shocked to wave back. He was walking Kiyoko home, at least part of the way, because he was Shimizu Kiyoko’s brand new boyfriend and he would be nothing if not a courteous boyfriend.
They released each other’s hands as soon as they were out of sight.
“At least it seems to have worked,” he said and sighed. “For a moment, I was worried one of them would faint.”
“I was worried Hitoka-chan would faint,” Kiyoko admitted. “I… didn’t expect for her to be so shocked.”
Daichi, very wisely, did not say anything about the first-year girl. Not his business. “How long do you think it’ll take for them to learn their lesson?”
She made a thoughtful, but noncommittal sound.
“That long, huh?”
“Hitoka-chan’s clothes were ruined,” she said, and there was the faintest undercurrent of anger.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure mine aren’t salvageable, either. Should make them pay for replacements, too, honestly…”
“Tomorrow, is lunch the next step?”
They’d thought about staging a confession scene, but Daichi had felt it would seem too obvious. He didn’t anticipate the plan lasting more than a couple days, but he had plotted out several opportunities to drive home their supposed relationship. He knew, now that the second-years were aware of their relationship, they’d be watching like hawks. Daichi would take advantage of that.
“I’ll buy you dinner some time to make up for it.”
“I can handle a homecooked meal,” she replied dismissively.
“Tomorrow, then. And Shimizu?”
“Thanks for the favor,” Daichi told her and grinned.
She smiled back. “Kiyoko, now.”
“Right, then. Kiyoko. See you tomorrow for phase two.”
“Wh-What are you doing?” Asahi asked, staring at the group peeking around the corner. He’d thought people only did that as a joke, but the group before him looked anything but. Why is Yachi-san with them…
“She made him lunch,” Noya replied in an anguished whisper.
“Kiyoko-san made him lunch,” Tanaka repeated, shoulders shaking.
“I’m pretty sure she actually made it, too, that’s not store-bought,” Yachi whimpered. “Kiyoko-senpai cooked for him… f-for her new boyfriend…”
“Augh! Don’t say it, Yacchan!” Tanaka groaned.
“My heart can’t take it!” Noya declared, clutching his chest.
“Right…” Asahi edged away from them. Kiyoko was pretty, and kind, and loyal, and all-around a great person, but he didn’t fully understand their devotion to her. (Especially Nishinoya’s.)
He left them there. He returned to his own classroom, only to be met with another surprise: Suga was sitting in the desk next to his. Before he could ask, he irritably told him, “Since I’ve been ditched, I thought I’d come spend lunch with you.”
“Ditched?” he echoed, puzzled and concerned by Suga’s uncharacteristic terseness.
“Daichi and Shimizu. The cute new crow couple.”
“A-Aren’t you happy for them?” Was no one happy for them? Were they not supposed to be? Sure, it had come out of nowhere, and Asahi had been certain there had been something between—
“Of course I am!” Suga burst out, slamming his chopsticks down. Asahi jumped. “Don’t I look happy for them?!” He drooped, momentarily, then straightened with an obviously forced smile. “You’re right, Asahi. I should be happy for them. I can’t believe I—whatever makes them happy, right? And he—they look so cute together.”
Asahi wondered if he should say something. He really, probably should.
Suga sighed heavily and set his chin in his hand, elbow on the borrowed desk. “I just hope Yachi is okay. I had sort of thought she had a crush on Shimizu…”
Asahi really really should say something. “Um, Suga, if you—”
“I should go make sure Yachi’s okay!” the setter exclaimed and rushed out of the room.
“…Okay, then,” he said to the empty seat beside him.
“So I suppose there aren’t any rules against in-team dating, then?” Tsukishima asked at practice that afternoon.
“We’re a team, and that should mean that we’re happy for each other, and that we support each other and our choices,” Daichi replied, seemingly oblivious to the mournful looks Tanaka and Noya were giving his back.
“What if it strains other relationships? Or harms the team dynamic?” he pressed dubiously.
“I refuse to believe,” Daichi said, also oblivious to the longing look of Suga’s behind him, “that anyone in this team couldn’t be happy for us. I don’t see how. Shi—Kiyoko and I are happy together,” there was no way he could possibly have not heard Yachi’s whimper, “and I’d personally be very hurt if this upset other people.”
He’s serious, isn’t he, Tsukishima realized, astonished, trying to resist the urge to curl his lip. This is a thing that is going to play out. He’s going to let it. The team was annoying enough without more interpersonal drama.
“And it’s not as if this will impact our training schedule at all, since I’m lucky enough not to have to make time for my girlfriend!” Daichi finished happily. Kiyoko nodded beside him.
“I wish you two all the luck in the world and hope your love is enough to weather any incoming storms,” he bit out.
Tanaka and Noya took him aside later, one patting his shoulder and the other rubbing his hair, probably meaning to be affectionate. “We really appreciate what you tried to do,” Nishinoya said tearfully. “We never thought you’d be so loyal to your senpai…!”
Is everyone on this team blind or an idiot? “The less of this that blows up in our faces, the better,” he said flatly. Tanaka and Nishinoya could jump in a lake for all he cared for their feelings. But seeing Sugawara and Yachi so morose made him feel a touch sympathetic.
He left the second-years before they could try to be any friendlier to him. Yamaguchi offered him a grin. “At least there’s no rules against in-team dating, huh?”
“Like I cared if there were.”
“Daichi-san, a word?” Ennoshita called, jogging up after them. He gave Kiyoko a curious look but didn’t say anything about her presence. “Congratulations on your three-day anniversary. I don’t really think all of the PDA was necessary, captain. Noya and Tanaka have a chart.”
“Of what?” Daichi asked, baffled.
“Everything you and Shimizu have done, to their knowledge. It’s getting a little ridiculous. And I think you may give someone a heart attack soon.”
“Well, that was half the plan,” he admitted.
“I don’t think Tanaka or Noya will be the likely first victim,” Ennoshita told him. Daichi could be a little dense about certain things, but he’d had higher hopes for Kiyoko.
“We’re careful not to break any school rules,” she said.
“Don’t you two think you’re being a little insensitive…?” he said, vaguely, hoping he wouldn’t have to be any blunter. It wasn’t his business.
“This was made to be revenge. A couple bruised hearts are accepted collateral damage,” Daichi said dismissively.
Ennoshita squinted at him. He was either being remarkably cruel or remarkably thick. “…How much longer is this going to last?”
“Wanna get married?” Daichi joked, grinning down at Kiyoko, and Ennoshita swore his heart skipped a beat in sheer sympathy horror for Sugawara and Yachi. “Honestly, Ennoshita, it won’t be too much longer. If they’ve made a chart, then it sounds like our work is almost done. How much more do they have to fill out?”
“Don’t aim for everything,” he said quickly. “I don’t think everything is legal, anyway.”
“Legality didn’t stop them last week,” he replied, tone dark.
“We’ll make sure their pranks die down for awhile,” Kiyoko reassured. She patted his shoulder and the happy couple walked off. Ennoshita wondered if he should have been blunter.
Suga and Yachi sat on the bench, wearing matching expressions of utter defeat. He’d found a kindred spirit in her, even if they hadn’t explicitly acknowledged it. They didn’t have to. Heartache knew its neighbors.
“L-Look at how cute they are,” Yachi said, sounding weepy again. Suga raised his arm and she eagerly leaned against him with a sniff.
“Y’know, I really wish we had another setter around. It’d be so useful for all of this spiking practice,” Ukai said loudly, staring at the court and not at the bench.
“Five more minutes?” Suga pleaded. Yachi sniffled again when Kiyoko cheered for a spike Daichi got past Asahi.
“I didn’t sign up for teenage drama. I barely signed up for teenagers at all. Sugawara, if you—”
“I understand, Ukai-san. We’ll get this under control. In five more minutes.” It had been a little nice to see how supportive the team had been of the accidental drama started. It had felt a little like vindication, which was selfish of him, but Suga had decided to allow himself exactly one week of selfishness before he became one hundred percent happy for Daichi and Kiyoko. That night was his last. He intended to make the most of it.
“I-I wish she would—she looks so cute with him,” Yachi said, carefully dancing around the topic, as if it weren’t obvious. Suga smiled and patted her hair. He almost wished he could as readily acknowledge his feelings as she could.
“Are you two still feeling sad?” Hinata asked, stopping by to check on them. It was moments like that that made the past week bearable; he was touched by the concern.
“Just a little,” Suga lied, but managed to work up a bright smile for him.
Hinata looked between his smile and the happy couple across the court. Yachi sniffed, and Hinata set his expression. Warning bells went off in Suga’s head.
But before he could stop him, the short spiker was halfway across the court. “Oh my god,” Suga said, standing, nearly upending Yachi in the process.
“Captain, Shimizu-san!” Hinata called.
“Hinata, don’t you dare—”
“This ought to be good,” Ukai said, a little meanly.
“You’re making everyone cry! I get that you’re all lovey-dovey, but there’s only two of you, and you have, like, half the team upset! So you’re outvoted!”
“Hinata, this isn’t a democracy,” Daichi replied, brow furrowed, mouth screwed up like he was trying to stop a smile.
“Sh-Shouyou! It's okay, really!” Yachi squeaked, dashing over to him with Suga.
Before the third-year could silence him and drag him away, he continued, making everything worse forever. “The team has feelings, too, and I’m pretty sure you two are only going out to stop that rumor about Daichi-san—”
“What rumor, Hinata—”
“—and so you should’ve picked a better cover! At least someone that you look better kissing!”
“…Are you saying we don’t look good together?” Kiyoko asked, quietly.
“I think he’s saying you’d look better with a blonde,” Ennoshita called over.
Yachi buried her (very red) face in her hands with a wail. Realization sparked in Kiyoko’s widened eyes.
“I’m breaking up with you,” she told Daichi, just as Yachi ran off, noisily crying. Likely from nerves, but it still made for a rather heartbreaking image. Kiyoko chased after her, leaving the boys speechless in the gym.
“Oh, I hope that plays out the way I think it will,” Suga murmured, largely relieved. Weirdest and cleanest break-up he’d ever seen, but Kiyoko had pursued her, so he figured that was a safe bet. Just to be sure, he snuck a peek over at Daichi, who didn’t look heartbroken so much as thoroughly bewildered.
“…There’s a rumor going around about me?” Daichi asked.
Suga snorted back a laugh. Of course that’s what he was fixated on. Hinata bounced on his heels, looking encouraged by the laugh, and told him, “Kenma told me it wasn’t true, so I wasn’t worried.”
“What rumor was going around about me?”
“That you and Kuroo-san were dating? Or were caught making out, or something? I don’t know, but Kenma said it was just a rumor going around his school, and even if Kuroo-san were single and messing around with any of our team, wouldn’t it be with Tsukishima, anyway?” Hinata said, cocking his head.
“Huh?!” Tsukishima and Yamaguchi chorused, affronted.
Daichi put a hand to his forehead like he felt faint. “That’s… just great. So this rumor’s been around since we went to Saitama?”
“I guess so. But it’s just gossip, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is! I only—” Daichi cut himself off, pink-cheeked, and glanced over at Suga. “Okay, this is enough drama for tonight! We have a practice to get back to!”
“Thank you,” came Ukai’s overjoyed shout.
“I want to hear more about Nekoma’s gossip channels. I didn’t know you were featured,” Suga said lightly, playfully. But there was still a half-step too much space between them for it to be completely back to normal.
Daichi pinched the bridge of his nose. “Kuroo’s probably the one who started it, too.” Bless the Nekoma setter for at least correcting Hinata.
“Probably. Those would be some handsome babies, though.”
“Suga, come on. I don’t want to think about sex with Kuroo Tetsurou after I just got dumped.”
“Dumped from a fake relationship. But at least you had a nice cover with Shimizu.”
“She wasn’t a cover for that, god. We were getting back at Tanaka and Noya. I had no idea about the rumor.” He scrunched up his nose at the very memory. That had not been the planned break-up, or the planned circumstances for it.
“…Oh. That was your grand revenge scheme?!” Suga said, clearly annoyed, and smacked him with his bag. “I was expecting a water balloon fight or permanent markers or whipped cream at the very least!”
“You didn’t notice?! What else would that have been?!” Daichi demanded, arms raised to protect himself. “Kiyoko and I are teammates. Friends! And she and Yachi are clearly something. She wanted to punish the boys for pranking Yachi, too.”
“I spent the past week worried out of my mind that you two were actually dating! Mean, Daichi, mean!”
“Worried? Why?” He hoped he didn’t sound too eager for that answer.
Suga scowled, blushing, and looked away. “I didn’t want the team dynamic in jeopardy.”
“You’re a pretty terrible liar, you know.”
“You’re a better one than I thought.”
“I never lied. I just spent a lot more time kissing and holding hands with someone I’m not really interested in. Consensually. That sounds a little worse now, doesn’t it…”
The setter hit him with his bag again. “You don’t date friends to get back at other friends! You’re terrible at pranking, and revenge, and probably being a boyfriend. You never even offered to carry her bag. It was totally obvious.”
Daichi caught his bag before Suga could hit him with it a third time. “…Want me to carry your bag for you?” he asked, feeling awkward, but nothing could have been worse than the rumor. And the way Suga blushed was worth it.
“You held her hand before anything else,” he replied and tugged it back from him.
“I technically kissed her before anything else.”
“Friends don’t kiss friends.”
“Sure they do.”
“You’re getting further and further from where I want this conversation to be going, Daichi.”
“Yeah, I’ve realized that. I was just waiting for you to forcibly bring it back around, like you usually do.”
Suga seized Daichi by the collar of his jacket and soundly kissed him. He released him after a beat, smiling in that bright, pleased way of his when he knew he’d won against him, and then waved. “See you tomorrow, Daichi!”
“H-Hey—Suga, that was unfair and you know it!”
“Why aren’t you two just as heartbroken as you were last week?” Tsukishima asked flatly, a little disappointed.
“It’s different when our two cute, beautiful managers are dating each other,” Noya said dreamily. “And we can’t get mad at Yacchan!”
“We can’t help but support her. Look at how happy they are! Kiyoko-san is smiling more than ever!” Tanaka practically cooed.
“You’re like the worst kind of parents. Pathetic,” Tsukishima told them.
“Who’re you texting?” Kageyama asked, looking like he was about to peer over Hinata’s shoulder to check.
Hinata shielded his phone from him preemptively. “Kenma. Telling him that he was right about Daichi-san and Suga-san.”
“Does he do anything else except gossip with you?”
“That one wasn’t gossip, that was just his prediction. He’s smart, remember?” Hinata said, protectively. “Just because you can’t pick up on flirting and pining and anything normal people feel doesn’t mean—ow, oww, l-let me go!”
“Not much actually changed after we dated each other, huh?” Daichi asked Kiyoko, watching the team as they cleaned up and chatted amongst themselves.
“Tanaka-san and Nishinoya-san keep their distance a little better,” she replied. “…And I caught Tanaka-san making Hitoka-chan promise to make me happy.”
“That would be more touching if I didn’t imagine him scaring her half to death.”
“Tanaka-san then came to me and made me promise to make her happy, too.”
“Then I guess we don’t have to do that!” Suga said, happily inserting himself into the conversation. “I’m very glad to see that you two are happy together.”
“…Thank you,” Kiyoko replied, cheeks a little pink. “I’m glad to see you won’t have to remain a single mother, Sugawara.”
“You told her about that?! I only said it to tease you!”
“What else were we supposed to talk about?” Daichi asked, fighting a grin.
“We could only plot so much,” she mildly agreed.