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Tear Stains Can Last

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Asahi ignores the insistent knock at his front door. He already knows who it is, and he already knows what they’re going to say, and he really doesn’t want to hear it again. The knocking gets louder, and the doorknob rattles, and he pulls the blanket further over his head as he hopes that he can meld into the corner of the couch he’s tucked into. His shoulder twinges at the motion, and he hisses into a cushion, trying not to growl in pain. The knocking stops abruptly, and then the doorknob rattles again, and there’s the scrape of a key in the lock.

Soft footsteps step into the dark of the living room, and a dim light goes on that Asahi can hardly see through the cover of his blanket. He evens out his breath and closes his eyes, hoping that he can pass off being asleep convincingly enough that he gets left alone, at least for a little while. There’s a quiet sigh, and then the sound of the garbage and takeout containers on the table being cleared up, the empty tea cups being stacked and taken away, and Asahi feels the tiniest bit of guilt over how far his friends go to help him.

The rush of water in the kitchen starts up, and then gentle clinking, the sounds of dishes being washed and stacked, and Asahi actually does drift off for a bit listening to the sound of comfortable domesticity. It’s the closest he’s gotten to a decent sleep in a few days, and though he can’t ignore the constant pain of his injury, it seems a little less intense, somehow, enough to let him settle for a bit. He just barely processes the blanket being tugged carefully away from his face, the sigh and the soft feeling of fingers brushing his unruly hair out of his face.

He’s left alone after that, again, listening to the click and scrape as the door is locked. He wonders if he can really be upset by it, when he’s the one constantly hiding, always avoiding everyone, even when they have nothing but the best intentions. Sometimes he wonders if he should ask for his spare key back, but that means he’d actually have to interact, and that’s just too much to even think about. His shoulder throbs a bit, like it’s tired of being ignored, and he sighs as he buries his face in the pillow and tries to go back to sleep.


The next time someone arrives to check on him he’s unfortunately not in a position to feign sleep. He’s in the middle of his living room floor, trying and failing to hold back tears, when the soft knock on the door comes. He ignores it, again, and listens to it happen a few more times before the telltale scratching noise indicates the door being unlocked. He doesn’t look up when he hears it click shut behind the new visitor, just keeps his forehead pressed to his knee and tries desperately to breathe through the excruciating pain.

“Oh, Asahi.” The voice is soft and concerned, and Asahi tries to convince himself that it’s not pitying, but he doesn’t do very well. Gentle fingers press against the back of his neck, a comforting gesture, and then knees touch the floor next to him. “Hey, look at me.”

And Asahi does, just barely, turns his head to look, resting his temple on his knee instead. Suga is frowning, a look he wears more and more around Asahi lately, a look that Asahi knows isn’t directed at him, though it feels like it is. “Why’re you here?”

Suga’s lips turn up in a tiny smile, one that seems just as pitying as any other look Suga has given him, something soft and sad for the poor broken shell that Asahi is now. He squeezes gently at the back of Asahi’s neck as he answers. “I came to see how you were doing.”

“You don’t have to go out of your way.” And with that Asahi moves away, carefully pushing himself up from the floor, abandoning the equipment he’s supposed to be using to stretch. It’s not like it helps anyway, doesn’t do anything more than cause pain, and with the thought that he can never play sports again, he really doesn’t see much point. He makes his way down the hall, letting his voice carry over his shoulder as he goes. “I’m sure you have better things to do.”

He can hear Suga following him, the ever gentle footsteps that Asahi’s heard so frequently, the only ones that still haven’t given up when he’s pushed everyone away. Suga is nothing if not determined, but Asahi knows it’ll only last so long before he gets tired of Asahi’s terrible attitude and actually leaves. He manages to get to his bedroom, and Suga’s voice is muffled through the closed door. “I’m always going to be here to help, you know.”

Asahi doesn’t bother answering, just makes sure the lock on his door has caught before flopping carefully onto his ever messy bed. It’s too hard to try to make it when he only has one fully functional arm, so he hasn’t bothered in ages. It doesn’t make a difference anyway, not when he spends so much time in it, hidden in the blankets, wishing his life hadn’t fallen apart in his incompetent hands.

There’s the vague sounds of movement around the apartment, and Asahi knows Suga is cleaning up again, and wishes he could even manage that much himself. The voice in his head whispers about how much of a burden he is, how tired of him all his friends must be, how eventually Suga will leave him behind to wallow in self pity too. After a bit the noise stops, and Suga knocks lightly on the door, and Asahi is glad he never gave him the spare key for the bedroom, too. “Are you going to come back out here so I can help with your stretches, or are you just going to ignore me?”

He doesn’t answer, just listens to Suga huff and move away. It doesn’t take long for the front door to close, maybe a little harder than strictly necessary, and Asahi wonders if that’s the last he’ll see of Suga, if that was the last straw for his seemingly unending patience. He wouldn’t blame him at all. He sighs, and presses his face into his pillow, figuring a nap is as useful as anything else he could be doing.


It’s a quiet few days before there’s another knock at his door, and this time it’s not Suga’s gentle one, but something heavier, unfamiliar. He’s honestly not sure who it could be, especially not since it seems like Suga had finally given up and stopped coming by. None of his other friends have bothered to try to come by in ages, not with Asahi ignoring each knock and phone call without fail. Whoever this is, though, is persistent, because they knock again, louder, and then rattle the doorknob. He finds himself pushing off the couch, instinct propelling him forward to answer the door since he doesn’t know who’s on the other side.

It could be a neighbor, after all, though he doesn’t think any of them are quite so aggressive, or someone who needs help, though he’s not sure how useful he can be in his condition. Still, he answers the door easily just as another knock sounds, and he comes face to face with someone he vaguely knows. It’s certainly not a neighbor, that much he knows. “Hello?”


Asahi squints at the cheery voice, mildly suspicious. “Oikawa.”

“Ah, you remember me. Good, good.” Oikawa steps forward, waving one hand toward the inside of Asahi’s apartment, like he’s asking to be let in. He continues chattering as he enters, and Asahi closes the door slowly. “I’m so glad you answered the door, Suga-chan insisted that I might need to let myself in, and I wasn’t looking forward to it.”

“Suga sent you?” Asahi frowns. “I told him I didn’t need help.”

“Everybody needs help sometime, Asa-chan, even the best among us.” He turns and tilts his head at Asahi with a smile that Asahi can’t quite decipher. “Do you have a spare room?”

And that’s when Asahi finally notices the bag in Oikawa’s other hand, something a bit bigger than one would use for an overnight visit. He shakes his head slowly in response. The apartment he’d chosen was small, since he’d been optimistic at the time that he’d be traveling with the national team more often than not. Oikawa doesn’t seem bothered by his lackluster reactions, just shrugs and continues into the living room, dropping his bag on the floor next to the couch.

He moves slowly, turning to look around the room, and Asahi abruptly realizes how much of a mess it is, especially without Suga having come through like a hurricane of tidying up. “I’m sorry for the mess, let me take care of it.”

The couch itself is clean, at least, though it has probably too many blankets and pillows strewn across it. He gestures for Oikawa to sit, and focuses on slowly gathering up the dishes on the coffee table. Oikawa doesn’t sit, though, just steps forward and helps him pick things up, like it’s completely normal to clean an acquaintance’s home with them. His voice is a little softer as they carry things to the kitchen, Asahi careful to not have much weight in his right hand. “I told you, it’s okay to need help, even if you don’t want to ask for it.”

They put everything on the counter, and Oikawa starts the water in the sink. “You don’t have to do that, though. I can get it later.”

Oikawa hums and continues what he’s doing. “I know what it’s like, you know.” He laughs a little at Asahi’s confused expression, and shakes one hand free of water before pulling the fabric of one leg of his sweatpants up so Asahi can see the brace wrapped around his knee. “Not quite the same as a shoulder, but I think you’ll find we have a few things in common.”


And they do. Oikawa hates the stretches as much as Asahi does, but they help each other through them, and it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. Oikawa helps with things that are hard for Asahi to manage with one weak arm, and Asahi in turn helps when Oikawa’s knee overwhelms him too much. It’s easier to convince himself that Oikawa doesn’t pity him, not when he’s going through something more similar than Asahi had ever expected.

They wind up sharing his bed, because Asahi doesn’t have a spare room, and he knows from loads of experience that the couch isn’t the comfiest place to sleep, even uninjured. The bed is plenty big enough, anyway, the one thing that Asahi made sure would be perfectly comfortable when he first moved in. It’s a little odd, sharing bed space with someone, but as they get to know each other better it gets easier, more comforting, until Asahi finds himself thinking one day that he’s not sure how he’d ever managed without Oikawa around.

They’re on the couch one day, Asahi with Oikawa’s head in his lap, carding his fingers through his hair while Oikawa hums quietly under his breath. Asahi smiles down at him even though Oikawa has his eyes closed, and tugs gently on a lock of hair. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Asahi.” Oikawa doesn’t open his eyes, but he smiles that smile up at Asahi, the content one that Asahi has started thinking of as his, since he’s only ever seen it directed at him. They’ve been out a lot more lately, seen friends and socialized, going shopping and cooking instead of surviving on takeout, and Asahi’s only ever seen this smile here at home, closed up together, just the two of them. “And thank you.”

A warm feeling wells up in his chest, a feeling that he can’t quite name yet, doesn’t want to, until he knows they’re ready, though he has an inkling of what it is. His voice is as soft as the hair beneath his fingers, feathery and light. “You’re welcome, Tooru.”

And maybe Suga was right all along, that all Asahi needed was the right help, and he would figure it out as he went. Asahi makes a mental note to thank him too, later. Right now he was comfortable, here with Oikawa, his shoulder hardly a thought, and he wouldn’t change it for the world.