Some nights, Issei has trouble sleeping.
He’s usually pretty good at tricking his own brain into getting some rest. Put some music on, catch up on some reading, plan out the next day’s meals. But he’s been making friends with insomnia for months now.
Ever since Hanamaki left.
(But that’s not fair. Hanamaki wasn’t the only one who left. Issei left, too, physically and into another city. So it’s not really his fault. If anyone’s to blame, it’s both of them.)
Some nights, Issei lies on his bed, too big, too empty now, and thinks about a boy with pale cotton-candy hair, and sinks into that aimless drifting, falsely comfortable lull of missing someone.
He doesn’t tell anyone that he’s coming home.
He doesn’t even tell his parents, but he’s been planning this trip for a while. And Issei isn’t stupid. He knows what his friends are like, even if it’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other. So he sends a selfie at the train station and mutes the chatroom before the notifications come flooding in.
Issei spends time with his family and doesn’t think about anything real or the heavy greyness that has taken root in his ribcage for the past few months, until his mother asks how Hanamaki-kun is doing. They haven’t heard from him in a while, is his job going okay, why don’t you bring him over to dinner some time?
Issei can only nod and pretend the rice in his mouth doesn’t taste like ash.
It’s strange, missing someone. You find them in every thing you do, and you think you want them back, but you don’t. Not really. Not now, not like this.
Issei misses a lot of things about Hanamaki. The way his hair feels under Issei’s fingers, the way his lazy hooded eyes seem to burn into him when they’re alone in the dark. The dumb puns Hanamaki collects like special coins, the bookmarks on Issei’s laptop for bakeries to try out on their days off. The road trips to the beach, the taste of summer on Hanamaki’s skin.
He misses the bad, too. The way they fought like cats, shoving and biting and then cold, frigid silence for hours, until doors are eased open and awkward apologies are wrapped around compromises for takeout dinners. The passive-aggressive text messages and finding out things from their friends because they were dead set on not being the first one to offer an olive branch. The sleepless nights when they lie on their sides, back facing each other and promises they were too afraid to say out loud so they just... didn’t.
(You can miss someone but sometimes you miss the person you were when you were with them more than you miss them .)
Iwaizumi and Oikawa at least have enough tact not to invite them both out together. Issei appreciates that, though he knows how close Hanamaki and Oikawa are, and he knows that his former captain lives for reunions and just wants what’s best for his friends. It’s a pity that Issei and Hanamaki managed to fuck that up before they could even start.
But then Issei receives a call at two am. His things are packed and he has a train to catch the next day, but here he is, standing outside an old izakaya tucked away behind the main marketplace, staring down at the man who he used to know better than the back of his hand.
“Mattsun,” Hanamaki says, and his expression is strange, unfamiliar. His lips are pulled up into a smile, but his eyes are tired, slightly unfocused. He smells like beer and sake. “You came.”
“What are you doing drunk on a Monday night,” Issei says.
Hanamaki hiccups. “Mondays suck. Why are you not drunk on a Monday night?”
“Good question.” Issei leans down and tugs Hanamaki’s arm around his shoulders. He’s gotten lighter, but their limbs remember each other just fine.
Hanamaki’s head sways slightly, and under the streetlights, his hair seems to glow a pale orange. “How come you didn’t tell me you came home?”
“I sent a selfie to the group chat. Oikawa told you, I’m sure.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t tell me .”
Issei stares at the empty road ahead of them. Drunk Hanamaki used to amuse him. Drunk Hanamaki is a lot more honest than Sober Hanamaki, but Drunk Hanamaki also became a lot more self-centered. He says, quietly, “I didn’t think I needed to tell you.”
Hanamaki swings his gaze up to stare at him. His cheeks are flushed, but there’s that fire in his eyes and it’s, oh, so familiar, Issei’s footsteps falter just a bit. “You don’t,” says Hanamaki, “tell me anything anymore.”
That’s not fair , Issei thinks. You don’t tell me anything anymore either.
“Sorry,” Issei says, but he doesn’t really mean it.
Hanamaki knows it. He huffs out a laugh. “Why did you come pick me up, Issei?”
“Why did you call me, Takahiro?” Issei shoots back.
“That’s not fair.”
“You’re not fair.”
Hanamaki tilts a smile up at Issei, and there’s something suspiciously shiny in his eyes. “Guess we’re both not fair, huh?”
Issei sighs. “Guess we both suck.”
And if the road starts to look a bit blurry, Issei has no one to blame but himself.
Some nights, Issei can’t sleep.
His bed is too full, too small for two grown men, but it’s too late to move anywhere else. Hanamaki still sleeps sprawled on his back, light snores filling the entire room as he dreams. Issei traces those familiar features with his eyes in the dim light of his room. It’s almost too much, having him this close after all this time.
(It’s strange, how you can miss someone while they’re right next to you.)
Issei swallows all the words that lie unsaid between them, and closes his eyes. Hanamaki will still be here in the morning. Anything and everything else they need to say can be said then.