You felt a stream of liquid trickle over your upper lip. As the fluid dripped into the opening made by your parted lips, you noticed how it tasted of metal. Bringing a hand up to wipe your nose, you saw a dark crimson stain cover most of your hand and wrist. The cabled bracelet your late mother had knit for you was soaked in your own blood, but you were too dazed and confused to remember the significance behind it.
You turned your head to the figures in front of you, lowering your arm in order to take in the shocked faces of several boys. They looked frightened of something, but you hadn’t the faintest clue why.
You tried to think of what had happened moments earlier whilst your eyes scanned the group before you…
There was a thickness in the hot summer air, like a thick cloud of tangible gray. Whatever it was, it was a musty stench that invaded your nostrils and weighed heavily in your lungs.
Snapping your eyes open, you gagged and wheezed, your mind finally registering the familiar scent of cigarette smoke.
After a few moments of sounding like a goose, your eyes managed to sting a little less. Craning your head up, you opened your eyes to see a tall girl, death-stick in between her thumb and index finger. She looked a little worried but otherwise appeared to have no intention of putting it out.
“Hideko! Don’t smoke in school! What if you cause a fire? Fuck, what if a teacher catches us?!”
“Priorities, _____, you’ve got great ones!” The girl chuckled before blowing another puff of smoke into the heated summer air. She put a hand through her bleached platinum blonde locks, removing a few messy strands away from her eyes. You caught sight of the beauty mark under her eye.
Unlike you, whose coat was tied around your waist, Hideko was in full boys’ uniform. You both wore the pants, though, because you were both sick of skirts and looking presentable to perverts.
“Put it out,” you repeated, pushing yourself from the ground and onto your feet. You stood taller than the girl who already towered over most of the other first-years. “The last thing we want is to be kicked out of the school – or, God forbid – the club.”
Toyotomi Hideko couldn’t argue with that. Groaning, she flicked off the head of the cigarette and threw it on the ground . Being kicked out of school would be the everyday student’s worry, but not for you girls. The Club was your life, and even if you could afford to skip high school, you’d still go to the scheduled Club meetings because the Club was everything.
“Why the hell’d you even come to school today?” you growled at her, waving an arm around to get rid of the odour. You mumbled angrily until your only fashion accessory caught your eye. It was a hand-knit yarn bracelet that your aunt had given to you on your tenth birthday. It was the last thing your mother had made before passing on, on the day of your birth.
“My little sis’s sick, which means my mom’s home to take care of her.” Hideko took great pleasure in crushing the cigarette butt with her left foot, making sure to mash it up so it was unrecognizable. It left a dark smudge in the drying grass. “Besides, Boss doesn’t want you gettin’ ambushed by those Sanaba bitches again. And I’m your backup!”
“Tell her she should worry more about them. I think I broke the tall one’s wrist.”
“Did she give you the Middle C?”  Hideko and her musical jargon. “And you’re fuckin’ tall!” She tilted her head up at your 174.3 cm frame. “How tall is tall to a tall person?” She was 168cm herself.
“She was, like – I don’t know – a giant. And nah, it was just the first thing I could grab after gettin’ out of the other two’s holds,” you explained, recalling the little kerfuffle that broke out yesterday. “She’d have lost her arm if she flipped me the bird,” you grumbled.
“Why am I even surprised? You’re _____ the Juggernaut, after all! An unstoppable tank!”
You never liked that nickname. It made you feel like everyone saw you as that X-Men character, and huge and bulky was the last thing you wanted to remind people of.
Rolling your eyes, you scoffed at the girl. “Shut up about that Juggernaut crap. Anyway, you deserve a break, Hideko. I’ll tell Sukeban  to lay off, okay? I don’t have any plans to peruse the alleys today, so I’ll go straight home.”
“That’s great ‘cause my bro has an audition!” Her family seemed to be full of Beethovens. “I wanna try throwing tomatoes and see if people will A) kick me out or B) follow my lead. I know my cousins are with me!” And apparently were out to get each other. “And bitch, call me Hide! I’m nobody’s child.”  Rude too…
You raised an eyebrow at the girl, a little peeved, but let it off with a shrug. “Sure thing.”
“And promise you won’t get into any more trouble without one of us. Preferably me. My own recitals are over with, so my fists are thirsty for some Sanaba flesh!”
You didn’t want to correct her as it was too much trouble.
For the granddaughter of the stoic musical director of the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, that girl said and did the oddest of things. You assumed she was better with music, because otherwise she didn’t have a lot going for her, not with that permanently fierce expression on her face.
“One more time!” came an energetically piercing vocalization.
You looked at Hideko, who was for once focused, listening intently at the noises coming from afar with a hand behind her ear.
“Idiot!” came a snarl, from what sounded like an angry Kageyama Tobio.
You turned to Hideko, blinking as you scoffed, “Did that person sound like–”
“Kageyama from class,” she confirmed with a passive nod.
Pursing her lips, Hideko tapped a finger on her chin. “He’s kind of an airhead, so I figured he was a jock or something.” She raised her arms and shrugged smugly, even though she had no right to call anyone an airhead. “We’re near the gyms, so maybe I’m right?”
You grinned at her. “That’d be a first.”
She narrowed her eyes at you, snarling a “Shuddap,” and stuck her tongue out.
“Well, let’s check it out. He’s all the rage with the ladies, and it can’t be because he’s an idiot.”
“I dunno. Some chicks dig that kinda thing. The reverse applies all the time, after all.”
You replied with a groan and a look of disgust.
Walking to the edge of the wall, you peered over to make sure there weren’t any teachers. When all was safe, you made your way to the nearby gymnasium where the sounds were coming from.
The volleyball gym’s doors were wide open, most likely because of the intense summer heat. Whenever it was warm out, you had always felt like basking in the sun and sleeping for hours, so you could never understand people who participated in competitive sports, let alone in the summer.
Although there was a set of windows on the walls, the two of you decided to peer through the doors after determining you’d be harder to spot from the centre where the net was.
“Gah, look at how sweaty they are,” Hideko’s tone was mixed with both aversion and interest, “and all to get a ball across a – is that a fish net?”
“If that’s a fish net, then Japan would be without fish. Look at the space between the cords. It wouldn’t even catch your sloppy punches.”
“You are so snippy today. A simple ‘no’ woulda been enough, bitch,” she grumbled. Almost a second later, she was back to being curious. “Oh, so that’s volleyball, right? I remember that being pretty fun. I liked aiming for the caked up faces of the chicks who actually cared about how they looked back in middle school. ‘Cuz fuck those whores. There are better things to do than care about appearances. They deserved the smacking I gave ‘em.”
You ignored her superfluous oration and looked for the source of the sound. You were familiar with volleyball from all the times in P.E., and it was pretty fun, but still…
Right now there were only a few people in the building: a guy with a shaven head, Kageyama, some smiley-faced grey-haired guy–
“Hey! He’s got the same mole as me! Under the left eye and everything!” Hideko interrupted.
“Shut it, Hide,” you hissed.
She clamped her mouth shut, as she knew she had gotten over-excited. Still, she looked at you in anticipation, gesturing at the innocent-looking guy.
“Huh, you’re right,” you mumbled. “It looks better on him, though.”
“You take that back!” she whispered through clenched teeth.
“I thought girls who cared about their appearance deserved a good whacking in the face?”
“…I said smacking, and you win this time,” she sighed before whispering, “Juggernaut,” with a victorious and smug look on her face.
“Fuck you,” you growled.
Snapping your attention back to Kageyama, you noticed that there were more people. They were preoccupied with their own training, it seemed, but what caught your attention was the one guy at the far corner of the room: he was so small you hadn’t noticed him initially, and he didn’t even look like a high schooler. He had a head of orange hair and the build of a child. You could only see his back, though, as he was stretching. It almost felt wrong looking at his little butt but he was practically waving it in your face.
When he turned in your direction, you could swear that everything started slowing down. The boy’s mouth moved to form excited words before running to the net and bending his legs to jump high up into the air. He then brought his elbow back, hand behind his ear, and in that moment, time froze altogether. The boy’s eyes were closed, you noted, and his face was scrunched up… adorably. Immediately, a ball appeared where he brought his arm down, and time resumed.
You wondered if you were dreaming, and if you were still asleep. Maybe Hideko’s smoking was suffocating you, and this was all some kinda weird and literal pipe dream.
The sound made by the impact of the thenars of the boy’s palm against the ball resonated throughout the gymnasium. It had woken you up from your daze, just in time to catch sight of his midriff as his shirt rode up on his way back to the ground. You saw a look of pure happiness on his face as he landed. Gazing upon that hand, which appeared red from where you stood, he shouted excitedly.
“That was great, Hinata!” the boy who honestly did look better with the mole encouraged.
“Hinata,” you mumbled blissfully. Hideko was fortunately preoccupied with being repulsed by the squeaky noises that the shoes made on the floor and had not noticed your enthralled state.
“Whoa, did you see that?” Although she had apparently caught the show too. “He jumped like an astronaut! Defying gravity and all that shit!”
…For once, you were glad she saw things differently.
While you tried to hush Hideko up, one of the guys had taken notice at the ruckus you were making.
“HEHEHEH! Looks like we have admirers!” one guy guffawed as quietly as he could, tapping his senpai on the shoulder before pointing in your direction.
“What are you talking about now, Tanak–” the grey-haired senpai blinked, then rubbed his eyes for good measure. “Wow, you weren’t just seeing things.”
“That’s so mean, Suga-san…”
“I wonder if they’re here to scout Tsukishima or Kageyama,” a scruffy older guy wondered, walking towards the pouty Tanaka while wiping the sweat from his brow.
“Asahi-san,” Tanaka cried, “how can you be so cruel too?!”
“Wh-what did I do?!”
“Honestly, what are the odds that they’re here for you, Tanaka?” a boy with short black hair butted in, leering at the monk-cut guy.
“You shut up, Ennoshita!”
Ennoshita Chikara squinted as he peered at the two of you. By now, Hideko was nursing her wounds as you had grabbed hold of and shoved her face to shut her up, and you were busy gawking at Hinata, so he had the chance to take a good look at you both. “They can’t be…”
“They’re girls,” the second-year gulped.
Asahi was the next to take notice. “Oh, wow, they are! Cute ones, too.”
“Uh, why are they wearing…?” Tanaka trailed off as he saw Ennoshita backing away.
“I’ve seen them hang out with Kikkawa-san…”
Tanaka immediately stood upright, his nostrils flaring upon hearing the name ‘Kikkawa’, but then Suga hit him over his head and he was back to being himself. “B-but Chicchan only hangs with, you know…”
“Has she heard you call her that?” The upperclassman looked bothered at the boy with the monk-cut. “Have you even heard yourself when you call her that?!” 
The calmer second-year had stopped his retreat. “I think they’re the new batch of girls.”
The grey-haired boy hummed to himself. “That explains the uniforms.”
“S-Suga, th-this is s-s-serious…” Asahi’s voice was trembling, and the big lug was visibly shaking too. “When will Daichi get back?!” he whimpered in a low voice.
Suga’s first response was a shrug. “They sure are taking their sweet time…” He gave his lowerclassmen and Asahi a reassuring smile though, but no one was paying attention, as Hinata’s sharp jump towards them to spike one of Kageyama’s tosses caught their eyes. “I’m sure we’ll be all right as long as nobody does anything stup–”
“AHHHHH!!!” Tanaka shouted in horror, grabbing his head and dropping to his knees at the sight of you getting hit in the face with a volleyball.
Well, so much for that plan…
 My father does that. He does it so that it’s unusable or something. *shrugs*
 Middle C makes sense for those who are familiar with wind instruments. Basically, it’s another euphemism for giving the finger.
 Sukeban is the female Banchō, which is what the leader of a group of delinquents is called. Hideko calls the boss “Boss” in English lmao.
 The “ko” from Hideko means child. She’s nobody’s child but her own apparently.
 If you got it, colour me impressed. Otherwise, it’ll be explained a little later in the fic ;)