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of beasts with sun-laced hair

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before we start, here is the playlist i tailored for this fic. i recommend listening to it as you read without the shuffle on because some specific songs are for some specific scenes. (basically i arranged it to show the development of sakuatsu in the fic. but it's up to you!)

 

 

Everyone in the First Family knew everything about everyone who lived in the First House and carried their bloodline. It was somewhat like a compulsory, unspoken truth — an inherent promise to tell family about everything that is of one’s concern. 

It had been like that for as long as Atsumu could remember, even before his mom became the President of Inarizaki. It was just the way they were raised, the way they were taught to live. And it worked, anyway. They grew up being open with each other emotionally and mentally. It was a healthy arrangement, but there was one thing Atsumu kept to himself. 

Before his veteran grandfather died a decade after the war, he left Atsumu a beach house. It wasn’t in his will, and none of the other Miyas knew about it, except them. They had always known that their grandfather favored Atsumu, even if he denied it, so when he had asked everyone to leave the room so he could talk to Atsumu alone as he laid on his deathbed, nobody asked questions. 

He had taken Atsumu’s hand, and it felt rough against his grandson’s skin — old age and remnants of a life well lived creeping into his aged flesh. There had been memories of war in his hands, too — palms rough from gripping rifles in battle one too many times, remains of trenches and near experiences tracing his fingerprints. Now Thanatos had come to claim him, his scythe hoisted over his shoulder. 

Atsumu had felt something cold being pushed onto the folds of his palm, and he looked down to see a small metal key. “What's this?” he’d asked his grandfather. 

“Take it,” he’d said. “It’s for a beach house in Seijoh. I heard it’s real nice there.” He had paused, a cough bubbling in his throat. “I bought that for my wife, so we can live together when I come back, but she died before I came home from war.” He had heaved a deep breath, struggling to get the words out. “I don't know if you remember, but I took you there when you were little, right before I was drafted.”

“Yeah,” Atsumu had said. “I remember.” It was a small memory, lingering under layers upon layers of politics and adolescence and coming of age, a memory tucked inside a hidden garden in his brain, where he stored his childhood in order to protect it from the evils of the real world. It was a small memory, a mere sliver, a nearly dissipating mist — but it was there. Atsumu vaguely remembered the feeling of sand under his feet, the water pulling his body as he let the waves take control, the warmth of the sun on his skin, the smell of wet wood and ocean breeze, the comforting creaking of the door dancing to the rhythm of the wind. 

“I’ve always wanted to spend the rest of my days there, with my wife,” his grandfather said with a fond smile. “But when I came home I couldn’t bear the thought of living there alone, after having purchased it with my wife and being left with nothing but the ghost of her touch. So I left it untouched. And it’s yours now. I hope you’ll get to live the life I always longed for.” 

But now, as Atsumu stared absently at the ceiling, back against the soft mattress of his queen-sized bed, fiddling with the small metal key heʼd  procured from his drawer, he wasnʼt sure if heʼd ever have the heart to step foot in that beach house, knowing it had once been his grandfatherʼs. 

He had been to the place once. The caretaker said the whole land surrounding it — the entirety of the beach — was his property. It was secluded and private, and the beach was pristine and perfect. Though there werenʼt any other people nearby, the place wasnʼt far from civilization because a few yards away from the beach was the peopleʼs market and a number of villages. 

He had only gone there to check out the land, but he never unlocked the door. He didnʼt know if he ever would. 

The thing about the First Family was that they didnʼt care what you wanted to do with your life, just as long as it doesnʼt do harm to the Miya name and to the people of Inarizaki. And this freedom, though Atsumu knew it was how all healthy families were supposed to be, was one of the main reasons why Atsumu felt indebted and compelled to follow their political footsteps. 

His twin brother Osamu wasnʼt much into politics, and was more into food. Preferably rice. While Atsumuʼs room had stacks of print-outs regarding the laws of Inarizaki, Osamuʼs had cookbooks and recipes. While Atsumuʼs walls were lined with trophies — academic and athletic — Osamuʼs had framed pictures of the restaurants he had gone to around the world. 

The last but not least member of the First House Trio was Rintarou Suna. He was the smartest guy of the group and arguably the prettiest. He was a free-lance model and one of the most in-demand in the countryʼs modeling industry, rivaling Atsumu himself. He was also Atsumuʼs ex boyfriend. 

There was a knock on Atsumu's door, and before he could even answer, Rintarou and Osamu came tumbling in, fighting over one of the magazines Rin was holding. 

“I took this first, Samu,” Rintarou pressed. “Shove off, Jesus, wait for your fucking turn.” 

“No, ya dick,” Osamu argued. “Itʼs got my interview. I wanna read it!” 

“Who the hell cares about your stupid interview? Itʼs got my face . See? Iʼm beautiful.” 

Atsumu cleared his throat, raising an eyebrow at the two. “What gave ya the right to barge into my room while Iʼm in the middle of writing my Political Science paper?” 

Rintarou seemed to have forgotten about his face plastered on the first page of the Times magazine he and Osamu had been fighting over and grabbed his copy of Noble Weekly while Osamu dived for the discarded Times. “Look at this, Tsumu,” Rintarou said, somewhat of a pout in his voice as he shoved the magazine to Atsumuʼs face. “The cake cost a fucking million yen! Who does that?” 

Atsumu pushed it away with his palm. “What cake? Who did what? Whatʼs going on?” He rubbed his temples and felt a headache start to form at the back of his head. He glanced at his laptop, and the blinking cursor stared back at him. He debated ignoring Rintarou and his brother in favor of his paper, but he knew they wouldnʼt stop pestering him anyway, so he closed his laptop and turned his full attention to Rintarou. 

Rintarou rolled his eyes lazily and dumped the magazine on his lap. “Prince Wakatoshiʼs wedding, obviously. Don't be dumb. See? Itʼs right there." He pointed at the magazine with his puckered lips as he fell onto the bed. 

Sure enough, there it was, written in bold letters. Itachiyamaʼs Eldest: An Inside Look at Prince Wakatoshiʼs Wedding. 

“And I should care for this because?” Atsumu said. “Look, I really have to finish my—” 

“Because yer supposed to go?” Osamu said, looking at his taller twin like he was stupid, the way Osamu always did. “With us? Because we were invited?” 

Atsumu scratched his head. He recalled fuzzy mentions of wedding, the taste of the word familiar on his tongue. “That was real?” he said dumbly. “I thought that was, like, a fever dream or something.” 

Osamu and Rintarou exchanged glances. “There is something seriously wrong with ya,” Osamu decided, face grave and feigning concern. 

“Let's not forget that not going would basically mean I donʼt give a shit about your stupid wedding ,” Rintarou said. 

“But I really donʼt give a shit about their stupid wedding.” 

Rintarou raised an eyebrow. “So youʼd rather have a third world war than go to some stupid ceremony?” 

That was a good point. The royals of Itachiyama were very prideful and taking no for an answer would literally start a war. And, well, Itachiyama werenʼt Inarizakiʼs biggest fans, since they had awful history. 

“Point taken.” 

“Woah, are ya feeling well, bro?” Osamu said, concern etched on his face. “Thatʼs the first time ya said something sensible.” 

“When is it?” Atsumu asked Rintarou instead, pointedly ignoring his brother. “Can ya help look for something to wear?” 

“Youʼre useless,” Rintarou said. “We leave tonight. And I already picked out something for you.” 

Atsumu grinned, pulling Rintarou in a sudden embrace and kissing his cheek. “Sunarin, yer the best!” he exclaimed. "You know me so well!" 

“Yeah, yeah,” mumbled Rintarou as he pushed himself out of Atsumuʼs hold. He yawned and flopped back on the bed, this time pressing his back flat against the mattress. “Wake me up when itʼs time to leave, will you?” 

Atsumu hummed and typed away at his laptop, fully ignoring his twin who started making farting noises with his mouth as he flipped through the Times magazine. He finished his paper an hour later, brain fried and all used up. “Samu, what time do we leave?” he asked, yawning and stretching in his seat. He stood up and went to crawl over and joined Suna who was sleeping on his bed. 

Five years ago, Atsumu would have not talked about flying to Itachiyama on a private plane like he was just going to the grocery. Before his mother became president, they werenʼt exactly dirt poor, but they werenʼt the richest either. They only had enough for them, and they didnʼt need anything more. 

“The flight lasts twelve hours, so we leave at 6, I think. Then we arrive at 6 a.m. the next day, in Inarizaki time,” Osamu said, chewing his lip. He glanced at the two of them cuddling. (Atsumu would call it cuddling; Rintarou would call it “Atsumu trying to force me into a cuddling position and I try to push him off in my half-asleep state until I relent and he squeezes me to death and I canʼt do anything about it so I just accept my fate.”) Osamu snorted and left the bed to go sit in front of Atsumu's desk. 

“Hey, donʼt touch my laptop,” Atsumu mumbled lazily, burying his face in Rintarouʼs hair.

“Why? Ya hiding porn here?” 

“No, theyʼre all in my phone.” 

“Yer a fuckinʼ animal.” 

The flight to Itachiyama was a lot shorter if one spends the whole time sleeping. The entire twelve hours were squeezed into what felt like a five minute nap for Atsumu, who had called dibs on the small couch near the snack bar. 

Rintarou shook him awake a few minutes past ten in the evening in Itachiyama time. “Get back to your seat. Weʼre landing in a few.” 

The streets of Itachiyama were as loud as they were when the sun was still up. Traces of the Royal Wedding were everywhere: the faces of Prince Ushijima and his wife, a nondescript woman with brown hair, plastered everywhere from billboards to tarps, yellow and green banners (Itachiyama colors) waving from front yards, souvenir kiosks lining the sidewalks, people in yellow and green parading and laughing and dancing. 

“All this for a wedding?” Atsumu questioned, snorting as he pressed his nose against the car window. “Ainʼt this a bit much?” 

“Itʼs just like ya when yer favorite volleyball team wins,” Osamu teased. “Ya kinda go crazy with the plants.” 

“I absolutely do not go crazy with the plants,” Atsumu denied with finality. 

“Eh,” inserted Rintarou, “you kinda do.” 

“Mom, back me up here,” Atsumu said.

Saeko grimaced from the passengerʼs seat. “Sorry, son,” she said, not at all apologetic. “You really do kinda go crazy with the plants.” 

There was a truth in that statement, not that Atsumu liked to admit it. The yellow-haired twin had a thing for plants, even had a garden of his own, and bought new ones whenever he felt like it. Which was every time he felt happy. Which was… well, thatʼs not important. 

“I do not go crazy,” he insisted. “I like plants a normal amount.” 

“Sure, crazy plant boy,” Osamu drawled. 

The ceremony itself was very grand, but also very private. It was held in the biggest church of the city, and only those invited were allowed inside. Family friends, important people, family members, et cetera. Thousands of people swarmed the church, waiting outside the doors and all around the building. ( Again, Atsumu thought, crazy. ) They could be heard despite the closed doors, muttering among themselves, trying to hold back their buzz of excitement in an attempt to avoid disrupting the wedding. 

Atsumu didnʼt really pay attention. He wasnʼt all into that political marriage that didnʼt involve love. Especially not one from the enemy country. 

Inarizaki and Itachiyama go way back. Even before the first world war, both countries were already at each otherʼs throats. There werenʼt really concrete records of how their bloody past started, but Atsumu guessed that it had something to do with their previous leaders. 

Quick history lesson: in 1901, Itachiyamaʼs king Tooru had a son, Tobio, who rebelled and ran off to another country to escape from an arranged marriage. The country he ran off to was Inarizaki, whose king was known for taking in runaways, back when it was still a monarchy. When Tooru found where Tobio had fled, he warned Inarizakiʼs king, Daichi, that he would not hesitate to wage war against his country, should he keep Tobio under his wing. The exact quote was, “There will be blood. I will ride forth with my men, and there will be blood.” 

When the first Great War sparked, Itachiyama immediately sided with the Fukurodani Alliance. Inarizaki remained neutral, but Tooru still sent some of his ships to bomb the country. And ever since then, both countries have been at war. There was the Cold War that followed GW1, then Great War 2, and the one that only just got resolved six years ago: the Hyakuzawa Dynasty War. (Long story short: The Hyakuzawa bloodline that had been on the seat of power for at least 23 years had finally been ousted, which Itachiyama saw as a weakness and decided it was the perfect opportunity to attack.)

Rintarou nudged him. “I get that you donʼt want to listen and all, but falling asleep in the middle of the Royal Wedding in the enemy lands isnʼt recommended either.” 

Atsumu shook the drowsiness out of his head. “Just thinking,” he said. 

When the wedding ceremony finished, the newly-wedded couple raced down the aisle and out of the now-open double doors of the church. They greeted the masses that awaited them and kissed in front of all the people and the camera crews. The guests inside the church were then ushered to the reception which took place at the Palace. 

“That took forever ,” Atsumu groaned as they claimed their assigned seats. “So how does this work? Are they gonna serve us the food or is there like a buffet line?” 

“Behave, Atsumu,” his mom chided. 

“Yeah, behave, Tsumu,” Osamu repeated with a smug smirk, but Atsumu could tell that he was just as ravenous; he was simply better at hiding it.

Turns out, there was a buffet line. Atsumu had to mentally slap himself to keep his hands from gaining a life of their own and taking, like, three of everything. 

“If my ancestors knew I was eating medium rare steak in the country that bombed my own, Iʼm not sure if they would be very enthusiastic about it,” Atsumu said as he dug into his medium rare steak. 

“Will you stop bringing that up?” Saeko hissed. “You know our relationship with Itachiyama is still very rocky. We donʼt want another war. Plus, weʼre in the… enemy territory, so to say. Itʼs four of us against all of them, if they suddenly decide to whip their guns out at us.” 

That much was true. They werenʼt allowed to bring security inside the Palace, because bringing bodyguards with guns meant a higher chance of any of the royals being assassinated.

Rintarou passed him and Atsumu a glass of champagne. “Letʼs just drink the night away, boys.” 

“Miss Shimizu,” a suited man in his late 40s said to the beautiful lady beside Rintarou. “His Royal Highness Kiyoomi would like to be graced with your companionship for a dance at the after party.” 

Shimizu smiled politely. “Tell him Iʼll be there.” 

The man turned to face Atsumu and the others. “People of Inarizaki, I presume,” he said. He managed to keep the distaste from his voice, but he couldnʼt help the twitch of his eye and the way his nose turned up — that was more than enough indication. “His Highness welcomes you at the afterparty, too. Itʼs not a compulsory thing, I might add. No pressure.” 

“Oh, weʼll be there,” Atsumu drawled, answering immediately out of spite. 

The after party was just like your regular party, only fancier. And, well, not really Atsumuʼs thing. He was more of your typical party animal: the wild, loud scene; dim flashing lights; deafening music; bodies pushing against each other on the dancefloor; glass after glass of alcohol; sweat that stings the eyes but you relish anyway because itʼs part of the experience; the energy pulsating throughout your entire body, warm and vibrant and so full of life like fully bloomed crotons; the rush that takes over you that makes it all feel like one swift blur of noise and dancing. Thatʼs the kind of party Atsumu was into. Not this boring, all prim and proper… gathering. 

Atsumu refused to call it a party. 

He scanned the room. He could see Rintarou from where he was standing: talking to all the important people and getting some of them to dance with him. (Rintarou was charming like that.) On his far left, Atsumu saw his twin walking along the food table, occasionally pausing to talk to the people he came across. His mother was nowhere to be found, and Atsumu assumed that she was where the other higher-ups were. 

Atsumu searched the room for the dessert table, craving for the chocolate parfait he wasnʼt able to eat at dinner. He spotted it by the table, grinning internally when he saw that nobody else was there except—

Oh. Him. 

Quick history lesson number two: Atsumu despised the youngest Prince of Itachiyama. Sure, it was a given that he disliked practically everyone on Itachiyama's seats of power, but he particularly detested this prince. There were several reasons why of course, including the inborn instinct to hate on the people that picked on his nation for so many years. But the first he could list from the top of his head was: Atsumu was always compared to Kiyoomi. 

When Saeko first became president, the entire world pointed out for no reason at all that her youngest son was Inarizakiʼs version of Itachiyamaʼs Prince Sakusa Kiyoomi. And Atsumu hated that. 

“No mask tonight?” he said as he approached the dessert table, picking up one of the parfaits and not looking at Kiyoomi. “Arenʼt ya scared of all the little germs in the air, Yer Highness?” 

“Atsumu. I was starting to wonder if youʼd tripped and died somewhere in the room.” Kiyoomiʼs gaze flicked over to him. “Iʼve been told that the surgical mask doesnʼt go well with the three-piece suit.” 

“I bet I could pull it off,” Atsumu goaded. “I mean, I did get the front page cover of Vogue before ya did.” 

“Debatable,” said Kiyoomi. His voice was infuriatingly level. He looked calm and at ease. When Atsumu turned to face him, he looked frustratingly good in his black suit and golden necktie, high cheekbones and a startlingly soft-looking pair of lips. His hair was curly and parted to one side where it fell over his eyebrow. He had two moles just above the arch of his right brow. 

It irritated Atsumu how fucking Kiyoomi was so fucking perfect that none of his attempts to rile him up ever worked. The most emotion he could get was a graceful raise of an eyebrow or a questioning glance with his green eyes. 

“Eh.” Atsumu made a skeptical noise at the back of his throat. “Is it, though?” 

“Why are you here, Mr. Miya?” 

Mister. Atsumu made a face. “I was craving for some parfait. Not everything has to be about ya, Yer Royal Highness.” 

Something flashed in Kiyoomiʼs eyes, and Atsumu felt a rush of pleasure at seeing his stoic facade break. But it was gone as quickly as it came, and Atsumu couldnʼt help (nor explain) the twinge of disappointment he felt. 

Kiyoomi collected himself for a second before saying, “I know that.” Then he smirked. “But I donʼt suppose you do. If youʼll excuse me, I have more important matters to attend to.” 

Flustered and annoyed that Kiyoomi got to have the last word, Atsumu, unthinkingly, reached out to pull him back. Kiyoomi turned hastily and moved back, making Atsumu lose his footing. Fearing what would happen next, Kiyoomi grabbed Atsumuʼs hand in an attempt to keep him from falling back, but gravity and Atsumuʼs weight pulled them down instead, and oh dear God; they were falling backwards onto the dessert table where the cake was placed. 

Atsumu only had time to think “ Mom is going to kill me, ” before they crashed against the table, one million yen cake seeking refuge in their 200,000 yen suits. It was a nightmare — an avalanche of sugary white, honest-to-God fucking expensive, buttercream, coating his and Kiyoomiʼs hair. The prince was on top of him so both their faces didnʼt fall victim to the sweet disaster. 

Atsumu heard the moment everyone in the ballroom became heart-stoppingly still, and he swore that the silence pained him more than the weight of Kiyoomiʼs body against his. 

“Fuck,” he said. 

Kiyoomi scrunched his face, inhaling sharply. Atsumu imagined that if his hands werenʼt filthy from the cake, heʼd be pinching the bridge of his nose in exasperation. He opened his eyes and stared at Atsumu for a beat, before pulling himself up and off Atsumu. He ran a hand through his hair, scooping the cream with the back of his hand and shaking it so they fell to the floor. Some bits flew to Atsumuʼs face, which annoyed him, but he figured he probably deserved it. 

Atsumu stood next, avoiding the eyes that were on them. He was shaking slightly, brushing off the fondant icing from his suit with trembling hands. 

“Oh my fucking Christ,” he heard a low growl from Kiyoomi, accompanied by an exasperated exhale. 

It was all Atsumu could do to keep from flinching as the cameras started flashing. 

howl @plushyholland

HELPPPP I CANT STOP WATCHING THE VIDEO JFKATJKANTKANFKANFKANFKAFN NOOOOO THE CAKE HELPPPPP

k @starkvisionary

NOT THE ONE MILLION YEN CAKE HELPPPOFJSJFKFJAJFJK THISNIS SENDING ME PLS

Mary Elizabeth @Bethy1234

I knew those Inarins were up to no good. Didnʼt they start the war against Itachiyama? Theyʼre all so violent, those Inarins.

 

 

deanne @gurensgf

Replying to @Bethy1234

shut up, mary elizabeth 

tanaka @shimizubf

Shimizu-san is pretty as always! 

 

 

noya @kiyokogoddess

Replying to @shimizubf

BRO SHES BEAUTIFUL 

neptune @msbyworld

ATSUMU NO 

alex @MESSRBUCKY

suddenly iʼm not inarin anymore

 

 

magnus @hevrthstone 

Replying to @MESSRBUCKY

THIS IS SO EMBARRASSING

lerie @fierrochvsed

never thought iʼd see the day where our prince would be on top of inarizakiʼs first son, but now that iʼve seen it, itʼs making me feel things

 

 

neptune @msbyworld 

Replying to @fierrochvsed 

HELPPP I FELT THIS

 

 

ine @wakatoshikun

i just wanted to see wakatoshi and the royal wedding… 

 

 

lin @hqgod

Replying to @wakatoshikun

ikr inarins ruin everything

kou @existentialqueer

Replying to @hqgod

right?? fucking hate them

lin @hqgod

Replying to @existentialqueer

theyʼre always so violent

Atsumu didnʼt want to look at Kita. 

He knew the stern and proper secretary Kita Shinsuke wasnʼt one to be trifled with, and that if you crossed him, he was scarier than death itself. Itʼs not that Kita screams his throat off when heʼs angry, and itʼs not that he hits people when heʼs in a bad mood. Itʼs more of the way his eyes become dim and ruthless and cold. Itʼs the way his voice drops low enough to make chills crawl up your spine. Itʼs the way he looks at you — disappointed and ashamed, as if he had told you to carry the world, but you let him down. 

There was something about Kita that always made you want to impress him, and being the subject of his disappointment was not something Atsumu — or anyone; even Saeko, but she doesnʼt want to admit it — wanted to be. 

Kita hadnʼt said anything ever since Atsumu entered the room, and his silence was scarier than his usual monotonous chiding. 

Suspense creeped into Atsumuʼs skin, making him jittery and nervous. Disappointment weighed heavily in the aura around Kita, and Atsumu swore he could almost hear Kitaʼs voice in his head. 

Atsumu chewed on his lip, eyes trained on his interlocked hands on the table, leg bouncing anxiously beneath it. 

The sound of his own breathing was slowly driving him mad, and he could hear a ringing in his ears. He could hear his pulse, the sound of his blood pumping from his heart to his body just beneath his skin. 

He started to drum his fingers on the table, just so he can combat the deafening silence that enveloped the West Wing briefing room. He swallowed, leaning his body to the side as he stretched a leg. His teeth were still clamped on his bottom lip, and he could taste blood at the torn flesh of his lips. 

When he couldnʼt take it anymore, he forced himself to look up and stare into Kita's waiting, disappointed eyes. “Okay, Iʼll bite,” he said, and the sound of his voice was alien to his ears. “Please start scolding me now, Kita-san. Please. Iʼm begginʼ ya.” 

Kita only stared at him, eyebrows knitted closer together than usual. He had folded his arms together, pursing his lips.

Atsumu shut his eyes, clasped his hands together as if in prayer and pressed the sides of his hands to his nose in one swift movement. “ Please , Kita-san,” he pleaded, voice slightly muffled against his skin. Somewhere behind him, he heard his mom try to stifle a laugh. 

Kita released a sigh, unraveling his linked arms. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the round table. “What were ya thinking ?” he asked, voice low and scary. 

Ah , Atsumu thought. There it is . He suddenly wished he hadnʼt begged to be scolded. 

“It was an accident, really,” he began to explain. “We were talking and then I lost balance, so he tried to pull me back up, but I ended up pulling him down with me.” 

“I donʼt care about that,” Kita said. “The media doesnʼt care about that.” He reached to the side and retrieved some magazines, tossing them onto the tabletop. “Those are what I came across on the way here. I donʼt think I need to remind ya that I live a block away.” 

Atsumu tried not to cringe when he peered down at the headlines. 

THE MILLION YEN DISASTER

ROYAL WEDDING TURNED BATTLE ROYALE: ATSUMU VS KIYOOMI

FIRST SON OF INARIZAKI AND ITACHIYAMAʼS YOUNGEST PRINCE COME TO BLOWS AT THE ROYAL WEDDING 

DID THE FIRST SON OF INARIZAKI JUST DECLARE ANOTHER WAR?  

Atsumu gulped. On one magazineʼs front cover was a picture of Atsumuʼs hand clasped around Kiyoomiʼs wrist, pulling him back. At the side were to words: MIYA PICKS A FIGHT WITH THE PRINCE

Another magazine had the picture of the aftermath, and Atsumu felt sticky just looking at it: Kiyoomi on top of him, holding his arm, buttercream and fondant and other disgusting cake stuff on his hair and back; Atsumu below him, eyes unfocused and glazed over, as if he was mulling over his death, cake in his sleeves and his bleached hair. 

Atsumu felt ants crawl up his skin, and he shook himself out of it. It had taken him a while to scrub off the disgustingly sweet smell of the cake, along with the complete, heavy humiliation that had been tugging at his gut. And even that hadnʼt completely gone away. 

Eyewitnesses report that before the cake incident, the older Miya twin had approached the Prince first and had apparently lain a hand on him, causing them both to stumble backwards and crash onto the cakestand. 

It is also important to note that there had always been animosity between the two men ever since their first meeting at the 2014 Winter Olympics, officially called the XXII Olympic Winter Games, which was held in Sochi, Russia. 

Atsumu rubbed his temples, pushing the magazines away from him. “Well, if itʼs any consolation, Iʼm not going to be eating cake any time soon,” he attempted. 

Neither Kita nor Saeko found it funny. He heard the president sigh from behind him, and he felt her approach. She took her place on the chair beside Kita, who gave Atsumu a blank stare, perplexed. 

“Should I…?” He gestured vaguely, voice coming out small. “Um… Release a statement…?” 

“‘Sources claim that the two had been arguing before the incident,’” Saeko read disdainfully from a magazine. 

“It was just some good-natured banter!” Atsumu defended. “Ya know how it is, mom!” 

“The public doesn’t know that,” Kita said. “Nor do they care. All they know is that the two of ya argued, ya tried to pick a physical fight, and boom: splattered cake.” 

“‘Since the 2014 Winter Games,” Saeko continued reading, “‘the bad blood between them has only increased, and these days they can’t even be in the same room as each other. It’s only a matter of time until the First Son of Inarizaki takes the first approach, one worth noting in their ill-minded country: the violent tactic.’”

“That’s clearly very biased,” Atsumu said. 

“Itachiyama tabloid,” Saeko said, shrugging. 

“I see.” 

“Look,” Kita said, putting his hands on both sides of Atsumu’s face, forcing him to look at Kita, “let’s not beat around the bush, yeah? Here’s what ya have to do: fly over to Itachiyama, spend the weekend there and show the world what good friends you are.”

Atsumu snorted. “Right, okay,” he said, unaware of the blank stares that were trained on him, “I’ll just pop over to the Royal Palace, have some tea, then my bestie Kiyoomi and I can go save the world.”

“Tell me exactly what’s funny, son,” Saeko said, “because we’re not laughing. It’s either you do what we say or I fake your death.”

“Fake my death,” Atsumu said immediately. 

“No.”

“What? Why would ya say that as one of the options but tell me no when I chose it?” Atsumu demanded. “This is a violation to my freedom! As a citizen of Inarizaki I am legally allowed to—”

Kita slammed a bunch of important-looking documents on the table. Atsumu shut up immediately. “Listen here, kid,” he said, and Atsumu gulped visibly. “You will go to Itachiyama: fix yer crap with the Prince, fake it in front of the cameras or whatever, I don’t give a damn. Just fix it.”

“Yes, Kita-san,” he managed to squeak out. 

“I’ve already worked out the arrangement to the Royal Family, but I’ve yet to give out the specifications,” Kita said. He looked exhausted. Atsumu almost pitied him, and he would have, if not for his hardened jaw and his scary, scary eyes. “Something along the lines of releasing a joint statement about it being an accident and that the two of ya are actually secret best friends or whatever.” 

Atsumu turned to his mom. “Is it really too late to fake my death?”

Saeko only shushed him.

“Look,” Kita said, “both sides have to come out good, or they might call us on our bullshit, and Itachiyama wages another war against us, and makes us look bad. Again. And with yer cake mishap that seems very likely and not at all impossible an angle. Given that, as far as the public eye could see, the First Son had insinuated it.”

“Great,” he said sarcastically. 

Kita slid a sheet of paper on the table towards him. “This is the Prince’s fact sheet. Since he’s now your new best friend, you have to play the part. Which means knowing everything about him that’s public information.”

“His favorite food is pickled plums?” Atsumu snorted. “This guy has no personality, and his favorite food is fruit! He’s so bland, how could I possibly act like we're best fuckin’ friends?” 

“Look at me,” Kita said. When Atsumu did, he added, “Do I look like I care?”

Saeko laughed and stood. “Okay, I’ll leave the rest to you, Kita-san. I have about five thousand meetings to attend to today. Atsumu, behave.” 

“Does His Royal Highness get one of these about me too?” he asked, slumped over the table. 

“Yes. Now, yer going to memorize everything in this list, so if anybody tries to catch ya in the lie, wait for ya to slip up, y’know what to say.” He handed  him another page that contained his schedule and how he and the Prince were going to spend their weekend together. 

  • Minimum of three (3) social media posts from each person highlighting the publicized details of the weekend’s events.
  • One (1) on-air interview with HQ TV in accordance with the pursued narrative. 
  • Two (2) joint appearances with photographers from both sides present. One (1) private meeting, one (1) public meeting. 

“Why do I have to go over there?” He pouted. 

Kita pinched the bridge of his nose. “Stop asking questions y’know the answer to, will ya? You ruined the Royal Wedding, you insinuated it. Now do what yer told; I have other matters to attend to.” 

“Hmp. Kita-san is so mean to me.” 

“Don’t slip up, got it? World peace is riding in yer hands. Don’t bring another war upon us, mister.”

Mister. For some odd reason, Atsumu remembered how Kiyoomi called him that, eyes plastered on him, blank and emotionless. 

Atsumu groaned as Kita left the room, skimming over the stupid fact sheet. In Dislikes , it said Germs and Crowds . He rolled his eyes. He knew that already. In Hobbies , it said Reading about art, music, and literature

“Holy shit,” Atsumu muttered to himself. “Just when I thought he couldn’t get any more boring.”



Rintarou and Osamu were ignoring him. 

To be fair, if either of them were reciting facts about His Royal Arse-ness Kiyoomi Sakusa, Atsumu would ignore them too. 

“Can I just,” Atsumu said suddenly, raising one finger in the air. Then he stuffed his face into a throw pillow and screamed. 

Osamu sighed, finally taking pity on him, he rolls off the couch where he was curled up with Rintarou talking about God knows what. He sat on the floor adjacent to his twin. “Alright,” he said. “Why don't we make it a drinking game?”

“How about a puking game? I puke after every disgusting answer which, by the way, is everything. I think I’m gonna need more food in my stomach to puke out.” 

Osamu rolled his eyes. “Stop being annoying.” 

“Can’t. It’s part of the charm.” 

“Is it still called charm if all it does is irritate people?” Rintarou joined in, taking his place beside Osamu. He had already dug up two bottles and three shot glasses from the cabinet. 

“One drink for every correct answer,” Osamu said. “Two if the answer is awful.” 

“I’m gonna die of alcohol poisoning,” Atsumu said. Then his face brightened. “Hey, that’s not so bad! At least I won’t have to go to Itachiyama tomorrow. And mom doesn’t even have to fake my death!”

Osamu eyes him disdainfully, then opted not to answer. “Let’s start easy. Family. Go.”

“Okay. His dad, Tsukasa first got married to Satori Ushijima, and they adopted Wakatoshi whom they named Wakatoshi Ushijima-Sakusa. Then Satori and Tsukasa got divorced, and Tsukasa remarried, this time a woman, Miwa, and they had a son, Kiyoomi.”

Rintarou and Osamu drank. 

“Uh, dog’s name?” Rintarou asked without even glancing at the fact sheet. 

Osamu snickered when Atsumu grimaced. “Jackson,” he said. 

Rintarou choked on his spit. “Excuse me?” 

Atsumu sighed. “His dog’s name is Jackson.”

Osamu burst out laughing. “It’s true! Look!” He showed Rintarou the fact sheet, pointing at the Jackson beside Dog

“This calls for two drinks, I believe,” Rintarou said. “Three for me and Osamu.” 

Atsumu winced. “Why did I agree to this again…?” He leaned against the wall, allowing his body to slag against the cement as he downed two glasses. 

“Best friend?” Osamu asked. “Other than you, of course.” 

Atsumu paused, pursing his lips. “Koutarou Bokuto,” he said at last. “Uh, goes by Kou. 24. Heir to Bokuto Industries. Manages Bokuto Foundation, a humanitarian nonprofit organization. They met at a charity auction in Itachiyama. Drink.” 

“Nothing gets past ya, does it?” Osamu said as he and Rintarou drank.

“That’s because I’m an intelligent and handsome young man who doesn’t deserve to be compared to that cardboard of a person.”

“No.” Rintarou scanned the list. “Favorite book?” 

“Oh, crap.” Atsumu searched his brain, only to come up with nothing. “I remember thinkin’, wow this dude’s so fucking boring, but now I can’t remember what it was! Is it that boring that I ended up wiping my mind to cope?”

“Wait, lemme guess!” Osamu said. “Is it Merriam Webster's Dictionary?” 

Rintarou laughed. “He’s not that boring. I think. It’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame .” 

“That’s a joke,” Atsumu stated, to which Rintarou replied with a “no.” He took the paper from Rintarou. “No way!” He laughed. “That’s, like, the most boring classic in the English literary world. Hunchback of Notre Dame? More like Architecture 101 . It’s like the architectural counterpart of Moby Dick . And Moby Dick is the whaling counterpart of Hunchback ."”

“Does that mean two drinks?” Rintarou asked. 

“Three for Tsumu!” Osamu cheered. 

Atsumu rolled his eyes. “Can’t believe I have to do this. I just finished exams! This sucks balls.” 

“Think about it,” Osamu teased. (“I’d rather not,” mumbled Atsumu.) “It’s like a Shakespearean love story. Yer typical slowburn, rivals to lovers, one hundred thousand word fic. Hey, didn’t we read one of those about’cha and Sunarin?” 

“We did?” Atsumu asked. 

“No, you read that with me,” Rintarou corrected, smirking. 

“Hey, what do ya think Kita-san put in my sheet?” Atsumu said, propping his knee up. 

“Hobbies: being a crazy plant boy,” Osamu said.

“I am not a crazy plant boy.” 

Osamu's eyes widened. He looked around, then whispered, “Don’t say that; the plants in yer garden might hear ya and die.”

“Favorite Olympics sports: ice dancing and volleyball.”

“I still think they should merge the two into one sport,” Atsumu said sullenly. 

“Allergies: not being a dickhead.” 

“In my defense, it’s an inherent trait I can’t get rid of.”

“Add shutting the fuck up to that list,” Rintarou told Osamu, laughing. 

“You shut the fuck up,” Atsumu muttered under his breath, but he was smiling. 



the better twin @atsumu

maybe if osamu and sunarin stopped bullying me idk just a thought

 

 

neptune @msbyworld 

Replying to @atsumu

you say you’re the better twin but you ruined a perfectly good 1mil yen cake smh

samu @osamu

Replying to @atsumu

no

sunarin @rintarou

Replying to @atsumu

y’all hear somethin’



Atsumu didn’t know what he expected when he landed in Itachiyama for the second time this week.  In the back of his mind, his instinctual image of the country was loud and crowded and vastly populated, as every time he’d had the pleasure of visiting, there was some type of event. 

It was certainly tamer now, no more ridiculous crowds and souvenir kiosks scattered in every block. There were no more wild street dancing and late night parties, which was a bummer, but at least they were now able to navigate the streets in the car easily. 

Meian, who introduced himself as Kiyoomi’s bodyguard and handler, handed him a clipboard with papers that said NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENT on top of the first page and an expensive-looking black fountain pen. “If you could please sign," he said from the passenger’s seat. “Your lawyers have already approved of it.” 

Atsumu glanced at Aran beside him, his bodyguard who was assigned to go with him, and shrugged when Aran gave him a nod. He skimmed a few lines, just to get the overview of the whole thing without really reading, then signed. He understood the tight security, but simultaneously thought it was slightly too much. 

“I believe your mother’s secretary already informed you of your itinerary, so I won’t bother to repeat it. For now, you’re to come with me to chauffeur the prince from the stables. He had just finished polo practice. There will be photographers present to capture the prince welcoming you into our country, so do try to look pleased about being here.”

Atsumu rolled his eyes at Meian’s words. Of course , His Highness had to be chauffeured from the stables after his polo practice . What a nightmare. From the corner of his eye, he saw Aran hide a smile at the sight of his disgusted expression. 

“Is there a problem, Miya-san?” Meian glanced at him from the rearview mirror. 

The honorific reminded Atsumu of the time Kiyoomi called him mister. He shuddered at the thought. “No,” he said, even though he wanted to say yes. 

They pulled up to the stables a good fifteen or twenty minutes after, and it took everything in Atsumu to stop his face from contorting into the biggest, ugliest grimace he reserved for one man only. 

“You can do this, Atsumu-san,” Aran encouraged, but he was visibly fighting off a laugh. 

“Yer clearly enjoying this, Aran-kun,” Atsumu decided. “Well, at least one of us is having the time of his life.” 

“Better me than you, eh?”

“No!” Atsumu protested. 

Meian opened the door, and Atsumu and Aran followed, leaving the driver behind. The stable was, of course, well-kept and elaborate and, well, royal. (Much to Atsumu’s disdain.) The grass outside was green and mowed and smelled like fresh dew and mud. The stables had shiny, polished wood, and the horses were groomed and healthy. 

Atsumu leaned against the lacquered fence, arms crossed. He had a distinct feeling that he was very underdressed. Were he meeting, say, an old friend or two, cuffed jeans, a black belt, a dark green windbreaker, a white undershirt, a silver watch, and a pair of white shoes would have sufficed. But this was the fucking prince of Itachiyama. Maybe he should have worn something more proper. Hell, even Aran looked more appropriately-dressed, with his black suit and well-polished black formal shoes. 

He combed his bleached curls with his fingers. Did it look disheveled from the flight? What if he’d look awful in the pictures? 

Whatever. He shook his head. It’s not like Kiyoomi would look any better. He’d probably be sweaty and ugly and disgusting after practice. 

Not that he needs polo practice to look ugly, Atsumu thought with a smirk. 

Kiyoomi came galloping around the bend on the back of a pristine white horse. He was not, in fact, sweaty and ugly and disgusting. Instead, he looked fresh and clean and bright in his black uniform over a white long-sleeved shirt tucked into his white pants. The only ‘disgusting’ he was was disgustingly beautiful. His knee-high boots were shiny as he stepped down from his horse.

He looked like fucking Poseidon, god of horses, glorious and handsome and holy with the halo of sunset hugging his form. He unhooked his helmet, and his black curls were perfect as his bangs fell over his eyes. 

Atsumu bit back a curse. He thought of his name, Kiyoomi. It meant holy saint . Atsumu would be lying if he didn’t admit how appropriate it was. 

“I hope you don’t mind if I throw up on ya,” Atsumu greeted with a wide smile for the cameras as soon as Kiyoomi walked over to meet him. 

“Miya-san,” Kiyoomi said with a nod, extending an ungloved hand for Atsumu to shake. 

“It’s Atsumu,” he said, taking Kiyoomi’s hand. He half hoped it was sweaty and gross, just so he can prove that the prince wasn’t completely perfect. It wasn't, much to his dismay, but rather soft and pretty. Atsumu felt his stomach lurch. “Bit weird for best friends to refer to each other by their last names, yeah?” 

“Right,” Kiyoomi said. There was a sudden glint in his eye, quiet and rare, one that Atsumu had never seen in him. He pulled Atsumu in for a hug, stunning the shorter man, pulling away before Atsumu could react. “Good to see you, old friend.” 

Atsumu got over his shock and forced down a cringe at the mention of their supposed already-established acquaintance. Behind Kiyoomi, a stable hand led the white horse back into one of the stables. “This is so stupid,” he said with a wide smile. “Put yer arm around me; let’s go back to the car.” 

“I’d rather undergo scaphism,” Kiyoomi said, smiling, but put an arm around Atsumu anyway. 

Atsumu laughed as they walked back to the car. “Of course,” he said. “I’ll do it for you myself.”

“Thank you. As an Inarin, I was hoping you would volunteer. You’re experts in that, aren’t you?” 

“Go fuck yourself,” Atsumu said. 

“I could say the same for you.” 



There was something familiar about the Palace that Atsumu couldn’t place a finger on. He’d never been inside the place before, just in the function hall for the wedding reception,  but as he surveyed the ornate hallways and the golden sheets and the sleek wood of his king-sized canopy guest bed, he felt as if he’d settled into a new home. 

The rest of the day was uneventful. After Meian brought to the palace and showed Atsumu his room, he’d been left by himself. Meian told him that he could eat in the guest kitchen attached to the guest wing if he so wished, before leaving. 

Atsumu tried to sleep, but to no avail. He wasn’t used to sleeping on a king-sized bed in a gigantic room all alone. He felt exposed and empty. He knew it was just in his head, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched from the corner of his room. 

It took him back to when he was young. They always went to stay over at his grandfather’s house a week before Christmas. The house was huge — one of the benefits of being a renown veteran — and Atsumu always found it difficult to sleep in his designated room and always went to the kitchen for some snacks to make him drowsy, before heading over to Osamu’s room and wedging himself under the covers beside his twin. 

In the kitchen, his grandfather would always find him snacking on a chocolate bar he’d found behind the carton of milk in the fridge or a bag of chips he’d scored from the snack basket, and they’d talk about the most random things as if they were old comrades making the most out of the few moments of solace they managed to have in the middle of a war. 

Atsumu wandered into the guest kitchen, phone in hand, texting Rintarou as he went. He knew Osamu would be sleeping right now, tucked in his warm familiar bed before midnight. Atsumu ached, thinking about his own bedroom. 

 

Sunarin

 

you’re up

 

that wasn’t a question

 

obviously not

what’s up

 

sunarin i hate it hereeee :((((

 

why what’s it like there

 

can we ft?? :((((

 

Atsumu’s phone vibrated after he sent the message, Rintarou’s name plastered on the screen. He grinned, rummaging the pantry for a bag of chips. He set his phone on the counter and accepted the call. Rintarou’s face filled the screen. 

“What’s up?” he asked, voice groggy. He was lying on his side, his cheek squished against his pillow. He squinted, adjusting his eyes to the brightness. “What’s so important that you interrupted my daily binge-reading of Sunarin fanfiction?” 

Atsumu snorted. He procured the snack he liked and shut the pantry door behind him. He hauled himself up the counter, turning his phone so it faced him. He opened the bag and stuffed chips into his mouth. “I dunno,” he said, "this whole thing still feels sorta weird to me. Everything is so big and suffocating and mysterious. I can’t sleep, and I feel like I’m one step closer to accidentally discovering a hidden sex dungeon or something.” 

Rintarou laughed. “What if they’re hiding it in the basement?” he suggested, shifting his body so he faced the other side. “Or they have a secret child somewhere that they don’t want the public to know about.” 

“Shh,” Atsumu said, eyes darting around jokingly. “Don’t say more; they might accuse me of treason or defamation or something. They made me sign an NDA.” 

“Aren’t you going against it by FaceTiming me?” he asked. 

“Nah, I’m sure it’s fine,” Atsumu said, dropping a handful of chips into his mouth. “I mean, it’s just the kitchen. The museum-like hallways and rooms — now that’s something else.”

“Ooh, fancy,” Rintarou said, wiggling his fingers at the camera. 

“Anyway, what's going on in yer end of the world?” Atsumu asked, swinging his dangling legs. He pulled his hoodie tighter around himself, feeling the coldness of the air-conditioner seeping into his skin. 

“Sugawara-san keeps bombarding my phone,” he complained. “He wants to interview me for his magazine.”

“Yer getting front cover again?” 

“Yeah. I’m avoiding him, though. I’m working on a personal project right now, and knowing Suga-san, that interview isn’t going to last for less than an hour.”

“Just tell him no.” 

“I don’t want to! I wanna do it; it’s just that I can't!”

“Then tell him no!” Atsumu exclaimed. 

“You’re just saying that because you want to be interviewed instead,” Rintarou accused, narrowing his eyes. 

“Yup,” Atsumu agreed, grinning. “I'm hot shit right now.” 

“You wish.” 

“Yer only bitter because it’s true," he teased. He started to laugh but cut himself off, because at that moment, Kiyoomi entered the scene. Atsumu turned to Rintarou. “I’ll call ya back. Or not. Good night, Sunarin. Or morning.”

“Good night to you, asshole,” Rintarou said right back without a verbal question, but his eyebrow was raised, and there was an inquiring look on his face. 

Atsumu raised a hand at him. Later. He hung up and turned to the Prince. 

“Um,” Kiyoomi said. His hair was soft like usual but disheveled and all around the place. He wore a crumpled pink shirt and striped violet pajamas, and his shoulders were slumped, and his feet were bare. His eyes were still half asleep, and he looked surprisingly human. He yawned loudly behind his hand. “Sorry,” he said drowsily, then did a double take when it finally registered to him that someone else was in the room with him. 

His eyes widened, and as if by instinct, his shoulders straightened. He cleared his throat, pulling out his AirPods. “I thought you were asleep,” he said. He looked more awake now, but still confused. 

“Hello,” Atsumu said dumbly, because, really, what was he supposed to say when the perfect, prim and proper, robot prince he was used to seeing suddenly turned up in a crumpled shirt and a beautiful face that was so obviously human? “Do ya usually sneak into the yer guests’ kitchen to steal their food?” 

It was as if his world turned upside down, but at the same time it all still made so much sense. What confused him more was the relief that he felt when he saw Kiyoomi in that state.

“Sorry, I couldn’t sleep,” he said. He tilted his head towards the fridge. “I just… plums.” He opened the fridge and took out a container of fruit. “I ran out of plums, so I figured I’d check if you still have some.” 

Atsumu watched him, half in awe, half in… something else. He couldn’t quite figure out what. It was bewildering to see Kiyoomi like this: so utterly human. It was not at all the Kiyoomi he always had in mind at the mere mention of the name.

“Have you practiced your lines for tomorrow?” Kiyoomi shut the refrigerator door with his leg and placed the container on the counter. He looked expectantly at Atsumu, and it took the blonde a while to realize he was silently asking for permission. 

“Oh,” he said. “Go ahead.” He waved a dismissive hand. “And yeah, I already did. What did ya take me for?” 

Kiyoomi nodded in thanks and understanding. “Okay,” he said. “Do you… want to practice?” 

“Chill,” Atsumu said. He hopped off the counter, whipping out his phone and getting into Kiyoomi’s personal space. He rested an elbow on the countertop, chin on his hand, back folded to match the counter’s height, Kiyoomi towering above him as he pressed his jacket against the Prince’s shirt. “Look here,” he said. “Smile.” 

Albeit confused, Kiyoomi did as told anyway. Maybe it was the drowsiness that made him tolerable and easy to be with. 

This y’all’s prince? he typed, adding a laughing emoji. Caught him stealing the plums from my kitchen. Not so sneaky, buddy! He showed Kiyoomi the screen before posting it. Immediately, his phone started buzzing with notifications. 

“Stop worrying,” Atsumu told him. “I’m a natural at this.”

“I suppose,” he said warily, then turned around, bringing the plums with him, walking out of the kitchen without so much as another glance back. 



k @starkvisionary 

does everyone else buy the whole secret friendship bs? personally, i think they’re secret lovers or something. like the concept of a hidden friendship is so stupid why would u hide being friends??? lmfao

 

 

howl @plushyholland

Replying to @starkvisionary 

OMG U MADE SUM POINTS

neptune @msbyworld  

Replying to @starkvisionary 

that’s what i was thinking too lol esp since both countries are still wary of each other, publicizing the friendship to establish camaraderie would do a lot more good than hiding it

lerie @fierrochvsed  

Replying to @msbyworld

exactly omg hiding a relationship would make more sense bc it could be cause for more backlash, unlike a friendship which is just,, yknow,, purely platonic like,, no one’s gonna criticize that

neptune @msbyworld  

Replying to @fierrochvsed 

yup it’s either a secret affair or a load of bs

alex @MESSRBUCKY

Replying to @msbyworld 

AHAH plus they’re rlly cute!! have u guys seen atsumu’s ig post omg



kaz @reasonliving

atsumu and kiyoomi secret bfs???? more likely than u think

 

 

inej @thewraith

Replying to @dirtyhands

WHATTTT

kaz @dirtyhands 

Replying to @thewraith

BITCH CHECK DMS I SENT U THE THREAD



yua @kiyoomiiiiiii

to that person who said kiyoomi and atsumu are actually secret boyfriends: yes. 

 

 

“Alright, change of plans.”

Meian had woken them up at five in the morning and gathered the two of them into the meeting room in the West Wing. He looked serious. To be fair, he always looked serious, maybe a little soft on the edges, but today he looked particularly grave. 

“Change of what plans exactly?” Atsumu asked, not bothering to hide his yawn. 

“The whole fake friendship narrative,” Meian said. He leaned back on his chair and folded his arms, pursing his lips. “Some tweets blew up last night and basically the whole world is saying that the two of you are either secretly dating or this whole thing is just bullshit. There are even articles about it online.” He fished an iPad out of the desk drawer and showed them a couple of articles. 

“So?” Atsumu said, not really getting where it was going. “Whadda ya want us to do about it?” Beside him, Kiyoomi shook his head and sighed, slumping farther down in his seat, hiding a frown behind his mask. 

“I want both of you to go along with whatever the public is saying,” Meian said, a sort of finality in his voice. “In other words: starting now, you two are fake boyfriends.” 

When Meian paused, expecting a violent reaction, Atsumu only nodded, making both Meian and Kiyoomi look at him weirdly. 

“What?” Atsumu whined. “Why’re ya looking at me? It’s just fake dating!” A beat. Then: “Wait—” 

“Moving on,” Meian said quickly, suppressing his smile with a cough. 

“No!” protested Atsumu. “Let’s talk about this rationally and like mature adults! What— why—?” 

“Wouldn’t it seem more false? Fake?” Kiyoomi put out. “I mean, if we’re going along with what they’re saying, isn’t that too, considering the timing… convenient? Or,” he paused, searching for the right words, “suspicious? I mean if they’re gonna point out that we’re changing plans because of what they said, wouldn’t that be a bigger problem?” 

“Yeah, exactly!” Atsumu agreed enthusiastically, nodding his head. “What he said!” 

“I’m not asking for some elaborate displays of affection,” Meian explained, gesturing with his hands. “Just… subtle hints — lingering gazes, skinship, a flash of you two holding hands under the table. You know, that sort of thing.” 

“No,” Atsumu said, a somewhat horrified look on his face. “I don’t know. And I don’t want to think about it.” 

“That’s it, I swear,” Meian promised. “I’m not asking you to kiss in public. Just act like you two are secretly in love, give them something to think about. Convince them that you two are hiding a relationship without making it look like that’s what you’re doing.” 

“And why the hell should I agree to this?” Atsumu said. “Why not just let them think it’s bullshit? Who cares?” 

“The King cares,” Meian said pointedly. “If they think we’re lying, we would lose our people’s trust, and you would lose your nation too. Election is coming up, isn’t it?”

“And how far are we supposed to take this?” Kiyoomi asked. 

“Time will tell, I guess,” Meian said with a shrug. “When this all dies down, you can fake a breakup or something.”

“What does my father think about this?” Kiyoomi asked, eyebrows furrowed. 

“He approves of it, as long as the two of you keep it up under a pretense. He told me to warn you that he doesn’t approve if it becomes real.”

Atsumu snorted. “Fine by me. I’m never going to fall in love with this jerk, anyway.” 

Kiyoomi looked at Atsumu. His eyes were unreadable, and Atsumu couldn’t tell if he was smirking or frowning behind the mask. “You know you can’t address me like that, right? Especially not in front of my handler. I’m still a prince.”

“Wow, I almost gave a fuck,” Atsumu said boredly. 

“Am I allowed to have my fake boyfriend arrested?” Kiyoomi asked Meian, pointedly ignoring Atsumu. 

“No,” Meian said, smiling amusedly. He turned to Atsumu and said, “your mother has also approved of this change. She told me she doesn’t mind if you make it real either. And that you should behave.” 

Atsumu grimaced. “Right. Did she say anything about faking my death?” 

“No.” 

“Can you ask her about it now?” 

“No.”

“There really is no way out of this, is there?” 

“No.”

“Okay, cool.” Atsumu swallowed. “So, what do we say when the talk show hosts ask us about this? I’m pretty sure they will.”

“Right,” Meian said. “We have a script prepared for that already.” He brandished another set of papers from the desk, and slid it towards them.

Of course , Atsumu thought as he watched Kiyoomi take it without question or protest. He’s used to this already, because everything he says or does is already rehearsed. Perhaps it wasn’t the guy’s fault that he was so robotic… 

Kiyoomi turned to Atsumu. “Problem?” 

Atsumu shook his head, blinking back the pity from his eyes. “Nothing.”



HQ TV! @Official_HQTV

Tune in for the #HQShow with @PrinceKiyoomi and @atsumu later today at 9:00 P. M.! 



the better twin @atsumu

otw to the studio with omi-kun (he told me he’d kill me if i posted this, if something happens to me, it isn’t an accident) instagram.com/atsumu/photo....

 

 

alex @MESSRBUCKY 

Replying to @atsumu 

HELPPPP WHY DID U DO HIM LIKE THATJSHFJSHF POOR GUY WAS JUST SLEEPING WHY DID U HAVE TO DRAW ON HIM

chai @niqodiangelo

Replying to @atsumu

we love to see it

 

“Was he really allowed to post that?” Kiyoomi asked distastefully as they moved through the hallways of the HQ TV studio. “Don’t I have an image to uphold and all that?” 

Meian chuckled. “Yes, but it would’'t hurt to show how close you two truly are once in a while. They wouldn’t fully buy it otherwise.” 

“‘Truly,’” Kiyoomi repeated. With the way his right eye twitched and the small puff of air he let loose, Atsumu could tell that he was smirking behind his mask. “Funny you say that.”

Atsumu tucked his sunglasses in the neckline of his shirt. They had just gotten past the cloud of royal devotees outside — a swirling mess of Atsumu passive aggressively rubbing their closeness in their faces; arm around Kiyoomi, flaunting his dazzling smile at the cameras. He was a natural. He walked the line like he would a red carpet, as if he was Moses and he had just parted the Red Sea. 

Kiyoomi rubbed his eyes, mumbling quietly to himself. His cloud of assistants hadn’t tailed him outside the car, where they had been fussing around him as if he was a newborn baby, fixing his hair, running his lines, refreshing his face. 

Atsumu gave him a sidewards glance. “Ya should’ve worn sunglasses,” he said, gesturing to his pair. “Y’know there’d be cameras.” 

“I didn’t think about that,” he admitted quietly. 

Ataumu rolled his eyes. “Yer used to having those assistants do everything for ya, aren’t ya?” he said. He patted Kiyoomi’s back sympathetically. “You’ll learn soon.” 

The hosts introduced themselves as Kanoka Amanai and Yuudai Hyakuzawa. They both wore gray suits with ties that complimented each other. The woman looked particularly chatty while the man looked as if he was forced to do the talk show. Or maybe that was simply how he looked. 

Atsumu watched them from the solace of the backstage as a stagehand called for a makeup artist to attend to him for the final touches. 

So, this really was happening. 

Atsumu sneaked a glance at Kiyoomi, who was being subjected to the royal stylist’s finicky preening a few feet to his left. He sighed, then closed his eyes, running the lines in his head one last time, mouthing soundlessly as he did. 

When it was time for them to head to the stage, Atsumu gestured for Kiyoomi to head out first, tilting his head with a small smirk. “After you, Yer Highness," he said. 

Kiyoomi's stylist had taken off his surgical mask, so Atsumu could see the entirety of his face. He looked grim and done, but he forced a well-rehearsed smile on his face and walked out, Atsumu trailing behind him with a grin of his own. 

Atsumu shook hands with Kanoka first, giving her the flattering smile that Atsumu brandished in the face of highly influential people. Kanoka pulled him in, and he kissed her cheek, huffing in amusement at the low giggle she let loose. 

Kiyoomi took his seat on the prop couch, and Atsumu made sure that he sat a little closer than necessary, so that their sides touched. Kiyoomi noticed, but didn't comment. 

Atsumu had an arm slung over the couch on the side that was vacant, left leg on his right thigh, slightly slouched so his waistline stopped right beside Kiyoomi's hand, going for the laid back and easy-going image. Beside him, Kiyoomi's posture was perfect, back straight and flat against the couch, hands clasped together and planted on his lap. It almost made Atsumu want to straighten his, too. 

Atsumu smiled at him, ignoring the way the stage lights made it painfully obvious how fresh and handsome and glorious he was. He wore a pale red button down, paired with some jeans, and his skin was bright and lush and smooth, hair looking soft and curly. Atsumu had to resist the urge to reach up and touch it. He made a show of whispering to Kiyoomi and patted his thigh, just like how the script went. 

The audience clapped and hooted. 

"So, Atsumu-san, what do you think about our lovely little Itachiyama?" Kanoka asked, eyes bright and wide, expectant. 

"I wouldn't say little, Kanoka-san," Atsumu said smoothly. "Lovely, yes, but definitely not little. It's gorgeous. I've been here a couple of times since my mother got elected, and I gotta say, every visit is no less than the last."

Kanoka smiled. "It's an honor to have been bestowed such a compliment. What would you say is your favorite thing to see here?" 

Atsumu pretended to think, but the answer which he knew by heart had already been decided for him. "Well," he started, "the architecture is astounding, rich and full of history and all. And the liquor is definitely worth coming back to." This earned a laugh from the audience. "But I think I'll have to say…" He bit his lip, then pointed his thumb to Kiyoomi. "This guy." 

"Of course," Yuudai said pleasantly. "Speaking of which, a recent discourse sparked a flame in the online world. Something about the two of you dating in secret? What do you have to say about this?" 

On cue, Kiyoomi subtly (in a not-so-subtle way) hooked his pinky finger on the belt loop of Atsumu's pants. He laughed handsomely. "Yeah, we heard the news together, and you can imagine our amusement."

"It's certainly refreshing to see what the people come up with," Atsumu agreed. "They're nothing if not attentive." 

"I'm sure." Kanoka nodded. "So what are your plans during your stay here?" She crossed her legs, leaning against the armrest of her seat. 

Atsumu and Kiyoomi exchanged a meaningful glance, Kiyoomi lingering on Atsumu's face for two beats, after the blonde looked away. "We'll be visiting the patients of VL Hospital's cancer ward after this. I'm rather looking forward to it, actually. It's always a bliss to check up on patients and engage in conversations with them." 

The interview lasted for about ten more minutes, before they were whisked out of the studio and crammed back into the car, speeding to the hospital. 

Atsumu sat on the window seat, facing the tinted windows. Aran sat between him and Kiyoomi, Meian in the driver's seat, the rest of the security personnel in a different car. He tapped his fingers on his lap in deep thought, nibbling on his upper lip. 

He liked being into politics, even if he was simply born into it without a choice. His mother had worked her ass off to study law, rising through the ranks as the most successful female lawyer in Inarizaki with a ninety percent success rate. (Atsumu would argue that she was the best and most successful lawyer, but the male attorneys wouldn't let her have it.) And he had been by her side the whole time, interested in the workings of the political world. Osamu would come by oftentimes, but he didn't hold the same passion and interest in politics as Atsumu had. 

Atsumu genuinely wanted to make a change in his country. He'd seen the state of poverty a percentage of his people were shackled in, cursed to live in the streets or sleep in a mosquito-infested garbage dump. When he was young, he and Osamu would wander into the slums near their house and play with the kids there. He'd seen their state of living, and how none of them could do anything to better their way of life. 

It worked like this: the economy, no matter which country you went, was built around the empire of the capitalists. The system was constructed to suit their needs. With it, they could exploit the minimum wage class, who are desperate for any job in order to provide for themselves and/or their families, to do their bidding without letting go of too much money. Some elitists don't even pay their workers. Atsumu called it reformed slavery, and he hated it. 

And the thing about the system is that the low paying jobs are not enough to sustain a single family. They cannot apply for higher-paying jobs either. It's a catch 22: you need money to live,  you need to work to earn money, you need education to work, but you need money to go to school. It's an endless, hellish loop they can't get out of, and the only winners are the people on top of the food chain. 

There was nothing beautiful about poverty, no silver lining, no romantic connotation about their feeble attempts to make themselves feel the slightest bit better about their life by laughing and talking and smiling. It claimed the lives of 1.5 million people each year. That's four thousand deaths a day. 

When he heard that his mother was breaking free from her occupation to focus on running for senator, he scrutinized her every step, swearing himself that someday, that would be him — he'd run for a position in the government and do everything he can to help those people in need. 

He made plans already: he'd have infrastructures fixed — bridges, roads, the like — hitting two birds with one stone as he'd develop the area while simultaneously giving jobs to the lower class with higher pay, of course, enough so they can sustain their family without living off crumbs; he'd strengthen programs like unemployment insurance, cash assistance, and the earned income tax credit, and perhaps create his own initiatives to help the cause. 

There were so many things he could do, so many ways to help people. It was his life-long dream to see the poverty cases in his country slowly reduce until there was no more left. Perhaps it was merely wishful thinking, but he wanted to be the catalyst of the cause, plant the seeds, and hopefully those who would follow would look after it until such time that it blooms and grows, and the fruits of the labor would be harvested in a world that is utopia. 

Right now, though, as a young adult with influence and, at the very least, sufficient funds, he'd launch projects such as feeding programs and community centers as a start. Sometimes he would visit patients in hospitals and pay for their hospital bills. 

He rather liked giving, and he liked how the patients would smile brightly when they see him, the First Son of Inarizaki, in their hospital room. They'd find common ground and talked to him about their day, their likes, their pet peeves. Atsumu would listen to them attentively and insert his own comments occasionally. 

Atsumu was an asshole and a dickhead, and sometimes was a little too mean to people who can't catch up to him, but he had a heart. 

Aran tapped his shoulder, nodding his head to signal him that they had arrived. He stepped out first, Aran following behind him, while Kiyoomi exited on his side of the car, immediately swarmed by his bodyguards. He and Atsumu met at the door, and together they quickly filled the first floor with their crowd of security, flustering the hospital staff and shaking hands. 

He watched as Kiyoomi smiled behind his mask and talked and interacted with the kids emotionlessly, body stuff, movements robotic, as they took some bullshit photograph or whatever and it took everything in Atsumu not to deck the Prince right then and there. 

"Would it kill you to be genuine?" he whispered harshly into Kiyoomi's ear. "I know you don't want to be here, but stop acting like it. They're just kids." 

Kiyoomi looked like he wanted to say something, but opted not to. Instead, he turned to the next waiting kid, disappearing behind the green curtain. 

Atsumu rolled his eyes. Most of the people here didn't know him but Kiyoomi had introduced him as the son of Inarizaki's president, and soon, they were all over him. He laughed with them and indulged them and kept them company. He lost track of time and only pulled away from the little bubble he put around himself and the kids when the patient he was with told him that she was tired and wanted to sleep. 

He touched her forehead as she dozed off and turned to the sound of Kiyoomi's low voice from the other side of the curtain. He counted the pairs of feet under the curtain — two, Kiyoomi and the patient, presumably. No photographers, no hospital staff, no security. 

How curious. 

Intrigued, Atsumu went to take a look, peeking from behind the curtain. If he tilted his head at a certain angle, he had a restricted but clear view of the people on the other side. 

Kiyoomi was talking to a little girl with leukemia named Hitoka, as stated on the tag stapled to her headboard. She was pale and thin, her short, blonde hair dulled to a lifeless grayish yellow. She was wearing a too-big, washed-out orange Camp Half-Blood shirt, the large armholes making her arms look thinner and more frail. 

But she was smiling brightly at the Prince who, much to Atsumu's surprise, wasn't standing awkwardly by her bed, hovering over her in a drone of forced smiles and laughter. Instead he sat on her bed and conversed with her comfortably, smiling genuinely. He held her hand softly. 

"Percy Jackson fan, are you?" he said. He had taken off his mask, the string dangling on his right ear. "I like your shirt." 

"Oh, I love it so much!" she gushed. "I like to think that I'm Reyna. She's my favorite. She's so cool and brave and strong and smart. I want to be like her someday." 

"You already are," Kiyoomi said, tucking her hair behind her ear. "You're all of those things you said, and I admire you for that." 

Hitoka giggled. "Thank you very much," she said. "What about you, who's your favorite?" 

Atsumu blinked. He found himself anticipating eagerly for Kiyoomi's answer. He dismissed it as simply being curious. He didn't think that someone whose favorite book is Hunchback liked Percy Jackson

Kiyoomi thought for a moment. Then said: "I like all of them, but my favorite is Jason Grace. He's disciplined and brave and good. A natural born leader. They refer to him as the stuff of legends, but never really give him enough credit for all he's done." 

Something in Atsumu tightened at the words, and he had an itching feeling that Kiyoomi was also talking about someone other than Jason Grace. 

The door opened, and Atsumu pulled away from the curtain, startled, as the nurse came in. He bumped into the chair behind him, making Kiyoomi jump at the noise. He cleared his throat and opened the curtain, looking at everything but Kiyoomi. 

"Alright, Yacchan," the nurse said. "It's time for your meds, and the two good men have to go now." 

"But nee-chan!" she protested. "Kiyoomi-chan said we were friends now! He can stay!"

"Yachi!" the nurse said horrifically with a gasp. "That's not how you address the Prince!" She turned to Kiyoomi with an apologetic smile. "Terribly sorry for that, Your Highness." 

Kiyoomi waved her off. "Don't apologize. Praetors outrank princes." He winked at Hitoka as he put his mask back on. " Virtūs et honos ." 

That's from Gladiator , Atsumu wanted to say, but he thought it would ruin the gesture. He waved at Hitoka instead. "I think ya'd make a good Reyna," he said, making her blush. He turned to Kiyoomi, resting a hand on his shoulder as they walked out together. 

"Do ya ever run out of surprises, Omi-kun?" he remarked. 

Kiyoomi's eyes narrowed at the nickname, but didn't say anything. "Do you ever run out of things to say?" 

Atsumu grinned, bumping his hip with Kiyoomi's. "I'm just saying," he said animatedly, "that I'm starting to think His Highness actually feel things." 

"Contrary to popular belief, I am, in fact, a human person." 

"Eh." Atsumu snorted. "Could've fooled me, to be honest." 

"I'm sure," Kiyoomi said drily. 

Atsumu was about to retort, when shouts started to come from the other end of the hall, followed by a loud bang that sounded a lot like a gunshot. Aran and Meian were immediately at their side. 

"Here." Meian ushered them towards the nearest door, shoving them inside. 

"Stay down," Aran whisper-shouted and slammed the door shut behind them. 

Atsumu could hear the sound of their footsteps fading as they ran towards the noise. In the sheer blackness of the room, he tripped over one of those really big brooms you'd see janitors use in malls and Kiyoomi's legs. They crashed to the floor, a mop bucket clung to Atsumu's foot. He landed on top of Kiyoomi, grunting and groaning. "Shit." 

"Do you mind ?" Kiyoomi said, irritated. He tried to push Atsumu off him, but there wasn't enough room for the two of them to fit inside the small janitor's closet. 

"Sorry," Atsumu coughed out. "Hey, doesn't this feel familiar?" 

"Shut up." 

"Hey, this is your fault!" 

"How the fuck is this my fault?" It amazed Atsumu to hear Kiyoomi rapidly lose his cool like this. It made part of him want to egg the Prince on further, just to see how far his anger would go. 

"Because not once in my entire life until now did someone attempt to shoot down the building I'm in," Atsumu reasoned, as if it was perfectly obvious. 

"Oh God, please shut up." 

Atsumu laughed. "I would say 'make me' in response, but considering our position as of this moment, I think that wouldn't be very wise." 

"Nothing you do is ever wise, Miya," Kiyoomi said exasperatedly. There was an underlying amusement in his voice, though, right beneath the annoyance. 

"Oh?" Atsumu wiggled his eyebrows even though Kiyoomi couldn't see it in the darkness. "Getting pissed there, are ya, Omi-kun?" he goaded. "Where's the robot that I knew and loved?" 

Kiyoomi fell silent. Atsumu could feel his heartbeat underneath his palm: a low thrum of rhythm, fast, akin to the call for Ragnarok. It reminded Atsumu of the Magnolia tree, pulsating through the night as it actively pumps water. Kiyoomi sighed, and Atsumu imagined him rolling his eyes. "Can you try to sit up?" Kiyoomi said finally. "You're heavy, and it's getting difficult to breathe." 

"Can't handle my weight, Omi-kun?" Atsumu challenged, but he moved a little to the side to ease the burden for even just a little bit. 

"You try having a grown man on top of you," Kiyoomi said. His voice was strained and tight. He shifted uncomfortably. 

"Oh, I've tried," Atsumu said mischievously, scoffing amusedly. "Oh, sorry, was that supposed to be an invitation?" 

" Jesus," he whispered. Kiyoomi released a huge exhale. "There's just no winning against you, is there?" 

"You can try." 

Kiyoomi didn't bother answering that and instead said, "Can you please get off me? Try to sit up." 

"So you want me to straddle you?" Atsumu egged on. He was pretty sure Kiyoomi could hear the smirk in his voice — loud and unmistakable taunting masked by an innocent question. 

"Whatever," Kiyoomi grumbled. "Just stop lying on top of me." 

Pitying him, Atsumu sat up and slouched slightly, moving so his folded legs were on either side of Kiyoomi's body. He shifted, trying to find the most comfortable position. 

Kiyoomi inhaled sharply, a loud thrust of air prominent in the quiet of the janitor's closet. He groaned under his breath.

"What?" Atsumu stopped. 

"Stop moving so much," Kiyoomi said harshly. He coughed behind his mask. 

"Huh? Why?" Atsumu was confused until he felt something underneath him. Something like a growing bulge… He laughed. "What's this, Omi-kun?" he teased, but complied with Kiyoomi's request and kept his movements to a minimum. 

"I told you to stop moving so much," Kiyoomi grunted. "It'll go away; just sit still." 

Atsumu laughed once, then let it go. He listened to the faint shouts outside. He wondered if there really was someone out there who wanted to gun them down. The thought of it scared him. He cleared his throat. 

" Percy Jackson , huh?" Atsumu attempted. 

If Kiyoomo looked annoyed, Atsumu couldn't see it. "Yes, Atsumu. Believe it or not, we royals don't spend every damn minute of the day drinking tea and turning up our noses." 

That earned a laugh from Atsumu. "No, no," he said. "It's just… that's not what yer fact sheet said." 

"Yeah? What did it say was my favorite book?" 

" Hunchback of Notre Dame ," Atsumu said with a cringe. 

"No way," Kiyoomi sputtered. "That's the most boring book in English literature. That's like the architectural counterpart of Moby Dick!" 

"Right? That's exactly what I said!" Atsumu exclaimed excitedly. Then, catching himself, he lowered his voice to a murmur. "So what's yer actual favorite book?" 

"Why do I feel like I have to answer this carefully or else you'll get my head chopped off?" Kiyoomi grumbled. 

"Just answer the damn question." 

"First thing that comes to mind: The Song of Achilles. But if we're talking classics I'd say Dazai Osamu's No Longer Human ." 

Atsumu nodded seriously. "I see you're a man of culture as well." It excited him to see the robotic prince shed his metal skin and finally showed the flesh he never thought was there underneath. Atsumu grinned. "So yer into pop culture, but ya hide it. Why? Is it frowned upon in the royal family? Makes ya look undeserving for the crown?" 

"I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to grill me," Kiyoomi muttered. 

"Oh, come on!" Atsumu whisper-shouted. "I'm legally bound to be yer boyfriend, isn't this something yer supposed to tell me? I want to know everything about you, babe." He smirked even though Kiyoomi couldn't see. "We need to know the inner workings of the other, baby, because we're gonna be in this ride for a long time." 

"Well, why don't you start by telling me why you hate me so much?" 

Atsumu made a face. "Ya really don't know?" 

"No."

"2014 Winter Olympics? I approached ya, and you told me to go away? Ringin' any bell, Yer Highness?" 

Atsumu took himself back to that day: the Iceberg Skating Palace, people from all over the world filling the seats, athletes warming up at the sides, coaches being interviewed. New Romantics by Taylor Swift was playing in the background, heightened voices of the audience talking and laughing and singing along. 

Saeko had only been the vice president then, and one of the coordinators of the ice dancing event, who was Saeko's close associate, had heard of Atsumu's interest in the sport and invited him to watch. His seat had been at the center box, along with every other VIP. He'd sat there and said hi to his seatmate — Prince Kiyoomi Sakusa. 

"Hey," he'd said as History Maker by Dean Fujioka began to play. "I'm Atsumu Miya. Yer the youngest Itaji prince, right? My mom's vice president  of Inarizaki." 

Kiyoomi had barely acknowledged him then, only sparing him a millisecond of a glance, then turned to his handler. "Is he gonna be here the entire time? Can't he go away?" he'd said. 

Needless to say, it had taken everything in Atsumu not to strangle Itachiyama's youngest right then and there. 

Kiyoomi cleared his throat in the dark. "No, but I wouldn't be surprised if I did that," he admitted honestly. 

" If ," Atsumu sputtered. "But it did happen!" 

"I'm afraid I can't recall," Kiyoomi said. "This isn't an excuse for what I did, but if it makes you feel even the slightest bit better, I was having a shitty month because one of my uncles died." 

Atsumu coughed. "That's not gonna make me feel better! What the fuck? That's terrible. How the hell was that supposed to make me feel better?" 

Atsumu felt Kiyoomi's body move, and he guess it was a shrug. "I don't know," the prince said defeatedly. "I'm a jerk. I'm sorry. Can we put that behind us now or is there another reason why you hate me?" 

Atsumu hesitated for a moment, but decided to say it anyway. "Well, there is this one thing," he began. "Ya know how they say that I'm Inarizaki's version of you, right?" 

"Yeah." 

"Well, I hate that," Atsumu admitted. "I'm used to being compared, growing up with the twin. But there's something different about being compared to someone I'm not even similar to in any way. It's always been a given that I'm going to be compared to Samu as we grow up, but I don't mind much, because we treat everything as a competition, and it's no competition if there's no comparison. It's just… " He licked his lips. "With my mom bein' the first female president of my country, and bein' Inarizaki's First Son by mere minutes, I've always been held at a certain regard. And that's you; yer my standard. I feel like, if I'm not equal to ya, then I'm not enough." 

Kiyoomi didn't say anything, so Atsumu kept talking. "I don't mind competition, honestly. But when the whole world is watching you and keeps pressurin' ya to be better, do this, be like this, be like that, it's not as fun as competin' to cook the best onigiri or racin' to finish a book first."

Kiyoomi was silent for a few moments. Atsumu felt a quick squeeze on his thigh. "While I apologize for the world's behavior and how it tore you apart, I can't exactly do anything about that. But I'm sincerely sorry for the Olympics incident." 

"Good to know yer not actually that much of an asshole, I guess." Silence enveloped them again for a few minutes, until Atsumu asked, "What's yer favorite book in the Camp Half-blood Chronicles?" 

" The Last Olympian." 

"Wrong. It was a trick question. Ya should have said The Ship of the Dead." 

"That's not even from the CHB Chronicles!" Kiyoomi protested. 

"That's why I said it was a trick question; keep up, Omi." 

"How can I be wrong about my preference?" 

"Because yer wrong." 

If Kiyoomi had wanted to retort, he wasn't able to. The door opened suddenly, revealing Aran. Light poured in, making both of them squint. "There was just an accident with one of the blood samples," he said. Then, as if just realizing the compromising position they were in, he added, "Just what are you doing, straddling the Prince?" 

Atsumu grinned. "Ya know, just the usual." He reached for Aran. "Help me up? I think my legs fell asleep." 

The next day, after the after activities, it was time to go home. Kiyoomi saw them out as they boarded the royal limousine on the way to the airport. 

"Hey, give me your phone,"Atsumu said to Kiyoomi before he went inside the car. 

Albeit confused, he handed Atsumu his phone anyway. Raising an eyebrow as he watched Atsumu sift through his phone and type something in. 

"Here," he said, giving it back. "I added my number. It's gonna be a chore to have to get through your handler to keep in touch."

"Oh," Kiyoomi breathed. "Alright. Thanks." 

Atsumu winked. "Just no booty calls, yeah?" He turned to climb into the car, giving his ass a little wiggle before Aran shut the door behind him. 



the better twin @atsumu 

finally home!! i missed my babies <33

 

sumu @osamu 

Replying to @atsumu 

ok crazy plant boy

the better twin @atsumu 

Replying to @osamu

m'not a crazy plant boy

sumu @osamu 

Replying to @atsumu 

crazy plant boys call their plants babies

 

 

kiyoomi @PrinceKiyoomi

Replying to @atsumu 

Good to know

 

the better twin @atsumu 

Replying to @PrinceKiyoomi 

aww omi-omi was concerned, how sweet! 

 

kiyoomi @PrinceKiyoomi

Replying to @atsumu  

Why wouldn't I be?  

 

 

The first text came a week later. It was sudden, and it had taken Atsumu aback. Like Lycoris squamigera suddenly blooming amongst the other flowers, Kiyoomi had texted him as he finished his last class of the day. 

Ducking under a starstruck freshman, he whipped out his phone and began to text Rintarou. He fought back a tired yawn. 

statistics of me falling asleep in the middle of the road? 

 

100%. just finished class? 

 

good to know and yup. tired as hell.

 

bet u look like shit 

 

no i still look beautiful 

 

0% probability 

 

shut up

 

btw did u see this

 

Rintarou sent a link, and Atsumu clicked it. It led hi. to a blog dedicated to both him and Kiyoomi. There were GIFs of them in the morning show: Kiyoomi's finger hooked on one of his belt loops, Atsumu whispering to Kiyoomi conspiratorially, knowing glances, shared smiles. There was even one blurry picture of Aran opening the janitor closet and revealing Atsumu on top of Kiyoomi. It was nearly indistinguishable, but it was clearly them. 

There were replies saying all sorts of things like 'OMG THEY'RE SO CUTE TOGETHER HELP,' 'that's gay,' 'there's no heterosexual explanation for this,' and 'OMF WHAT R THEY DOING IN THAT PIC LMFAO.' 

Atsumu laughed, pressing a hand against the wall for support as the other clutched his stomach. When he calmed down a bit, he went to text Rintarou. 

wtffff AHAHAHA THAT WAS SO FUNNY IM LAUGHING SO HARD

 

but really, what were u two doing in that room

 

Atsumu imagined Rintarou smirking, eyebrows raised suggestively. He snorted. 

 

i'll leave that to ur imagination sunarin

 

He pocketed his phone, shaking his head with a small smile, when it vibrated again. He fished it out. 

 

How much do I have to pay you for you to hire a hitman and have me put down? 

 

Then, another buzz. 

 

This is Kiyoomi, by the way. 

 

family giving u a rough time, omi-omi? 

 

Yes. Do it now. I'll pay you. 

 

Atsumu laughed. He stopped at the foot of the steps of the building, pressed to the wall. He saved Kiyoomi's number in his contacts ( Prince Dickhead) before responding. 

 

no need to pay me i'll have u killed for free. why though? is wakatoshi-kun's meeting too boring for u?

 

Yes, that's exactly it. How did you know? Hurry before I die of boredom instead. 

 

i am all knowing, omi. nothing escapes my sight. youre going to die in the 3

2

1

great did u die already? 

 

Yes, I'm in hell right now. 

Atsumu barked a laugh. 

 

 

k @starkvisionary 

at this point, i'm actually convinced that i'm right lol they act so sickeningly like a couple it's disgusting (jk i love them) i'm really glad they finally got to publicize their relationship, though. even if we're told it was platonic. i understand that.

 

lerie @fierrochvsed 

Replying to @starkvisionary 

yeahhh it's so cute i want that for me too tf 

neptune @msbyworld  

Replying to @starkvisionary 

i love how you didn't even mention any names but everyone just knows you're talking about sakuatsu 

ami @coalesced 

Replying to @msbyworld 

k ceo of sakuatsu yes 



perry @effervescence

i love seeing k's intellectual tweets on the tl while i'm just here like WAHHH KIYOOMI TOUCHING ATSUMU BARKBARK WOOF 

 

k @starkvisionary 

Replying to @effervescence

HELPPPFJSKFKKF

 

 

lin @petricoars

y’all are so weird lol can u not stick your noses into the prince’s personal life plus they’re not even boyfriends it’s not right for an itaji to be with an inarin. open a history book, stop spewing bullshit on this bird app

 

 

aiko @roseated

Replying to @petricoars

lol finally someone said it

jessa @lowlight

Replying to @petricoars

“dont stick ur noses into the prince’s personal life” he says as he sticks his nose into the prince’s personal life

aiko @roseated

Replying to @lowlight

girl shut up you’re white this is for inarins only

 

 

The next text came when Atsumu was scrolling on his phone, taking a break after having been studying for the past three hours. Kiyoomi sent him a picture of the troll from that one episode of Merlin

 

Kinda looks like you

 

i think you're thinking of osamu

 

You're twins. 

 

fuck

 

did you really have to use a full stop

 

Yes. Why? 

 

nothing i'm just judging you

 

i didn't know you watched merlin

 

Well now you do. 

 

smart ass

 

They went like that for months. They would text each other back and forth about the most random things with no pressure of having to reply immediately due to their timezones. Kiyoomi would text Atsumu in the dull drone of royal monotony. Atsumu would text Kiyoomi when something annoyed him. Kiyoomi would send his dumb 3 a.m. thoughts. Atsumu would send pics of  his plants. 

Sometimes, with Meian's or Kita's discretion and to keep the facade going, he'd tweet screenshots of their conversations. Just the more normal but still funny ones, of course. 

They'd fallen into somewhat of a routine, and Atsumu always found himself looking forward to the small doses of Kiyoomi everyday. He had learned a lot about the prince: how his days were carefully calculated and scheduled by Meian, his dog Jackson was named after Percy Jackson ( why didn't you just name him percy? he'd texted furiously, to which Kiyoomi had replied with a simple It would ruin the surprise. ), he wanted to be a writer, but his parents didn't approve, so he sated himself by writing occasional poetry. 

It was clear to Atsumu that the fact sheet he'd been provided with was not completely factual. The prince wasn't a cardboard cutout at all. He wasn't a paper man with flimsy limbs and contrived organs. He was a real person with real feelings and real passions. Granted, he presented himself otherwise in public, but Atsumu didn't blame him. He wasn't one to criticize, not when he was part of some elaborate plot to fool the world into thinking that he and Itachiyama's prince were romantically involved. 

They had a lot in common, as it turned out. Kiyoomi was into pop culture, as Atsumu was, and he liked listening to Atsumu whenever he rattled off about things that fascinated or confused him, which was a good thing because Atsumu had always been a talker. Sometimes, Kiyoomi would let Atsumu read his poems, and his words never failed to amaze Atsumu. 

It amused Atsumu though, how Kiyoomi seemed to have a slew of random information. They'd be talking about the sea, and suddenly Kiyoomi would say something like The Laser dinghy is one of the highly in-demand small sailing boats in the world. Over 200,000 units of the Laser dinghy have been produced and are registered in over 122 countries. 

Once, as Atsumu sat on one of the wooden chairs in his garden, Kiyoomi had told him over text that Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is the scientific term for brain freeze. 

good to know , Atsumu had replied, might need that information for when i eat ice cream. 

Koutarou, Kiyoomi's legendary eccentric best friend, would often be the subject of Kiyoomi's texts. 

Kou took me with him when he did some charity work at Seijoh. Most fun I've ever had. 

 

you wound me, omi. what about the times we spent together? 

 

Sure. That too. Or something. 

 

ouch

 

Atsumu sometimes wondered how Kiyoomi and Koutarou even became friends, let alone best friends. Koutarou was this odd and extravagant character that Atsumu couldn't imagine Kiyoomi associating with. Based on the Prince's anecdotes, Koutarou was the type to act on impulse; whatever he felt like doing, he'd do it. Kiyoomi, on the other hand, was far from that. He'd been raised to follow methodical means, calculate the risks and if it was worth it, before attempting anything. 

But somehow, their friendship still worked. 

Atsumu would share about Rintarou and Osamu. He'd tell Kiyoomi about the hell he went through with those two, how they would gang up on him and just roast the fuck out of him. Needless to say, Kiyoomi was very entertained. 

"You've been smiling an awful lot at yer phone," Osamu commented.

Atsumu looked up, wiping the smile of his face. "No, I'm not." 

"You reading fanfiction of yourself again?" Rintarou teased. 

Atsumu shrugged vaguely. He sent Kiyoomi a meme in response to the Prince's A bolt of lightning has enough energy to toast approximately one hundred thousand slices of bread text and shut his phone.

"Let's be real," Osamu said. "He's been doing that dumb face every time he looks at his phone. Who're ya texting?" 

Atsumu's phone buzzed, and he opened to check it. 

 

Wakatoshi's gathered us for a meeting again. He never stops droning on and on, doesn't he? If the news picks up that I died in the meeting room, it's not an accident. I did it myself. 

 

is it time to call the hitman again? 

 

Yes, please. If you will. 

 

i'll do you one better: i'll call a meteor and have it strike the room to spare anyone else from wakatoshi-kun in the near future

 

Much appreciated. 

 

"No one," Atsumu said evasively. 

"I still think it's fanfiction," Rintarou said off-handedly. "Oh my God, is it the one I sent you? The one with you and Harry Styles? Are you boning Harry Styles now?" 

"No way," Osamu said, laughing. "No way that's a thing! That's so gross!" 

"Knock it off," Atsumu said. "If ya don't stop, I'll read you that one fanfic about me and that model from Nekoma until ya have nightmares about it in yer sleep. I'd like for you to remember that I went to a voice acting class a couple of times in the past, so I know a thing or two about dramatics." 

"Tetsu-chan?" Rintarou asked. "Someone wrote fanfiction about you and Tetsu-chan?" He started laughing, clutching his stomach and throwing his head back. "That's disgustingly hilarious! I'm gonna tell him in our next shoot." 

"How'd ya even discover these things?" Osamu said, mildly disgusted. "And please don't moan ' Tetsu-chan' in my ear every night. I promise not to tease ya about the weirdos invested in yer sex life." 

"Sunarin keeps sending me them," he said. "I don't know what he's thinking when he links me to this stuff." 

"I'll tell you: absolutely nothing." 

 

 

Prince Dickhead

 

meeting over yet? 

 

Yes, actually. Just in time. 

 

glad you survived. was wakatoshi-kun deciding whether to have another president's son fake date you again? or is that just reserved for me? 

 

Ha-ha. It was actually about royal finances. I feel like my eyes are going to pop out of my sockets if I hear him say "it's for your own good" again. 

 

ah, the struggles of inheriting the empire's blood money. how awful, omi. i pity you 

 

That's the problem, actually. i refused my share of the money. 

 

ok not gonna lie i'm impressed

 

Hah. You can't take a liking to dystopian novels where the protagonists overthrow dictators and not believe that a single, immune-to-the-law controller dominating the entirety of a nation isn't a bad thing. 

 

i would appreciate it if you stopped trying to prove my initial impressions of you wrong, thank you very much

 

 

Prince Dickhead

 

what's with you and boring ties? i don't like it

 

Royals aren't supposed to make statements with their articles of clothing. Nothing's wrong with plain ties. 

 

everything about it is wrong. it's boring and looking at that photo on ur instagram makes me want to sleep for a hundred years. i'm gonna fix ur fashion choices

 

i bet ur frowning at ur phone rn lmao

 

You are quite frankly the mortal embodiment of a raging migraine. 

 

glad to be of service

 

 

Prince Not-So-Dickhead

 

This box of Saeko Miya campaign buttons with your face on them… Is this what you meant by "fixing" my fashion choices? 

 

i'm doing that dull wardrobe a service, babe

 

I sincerely hope this was worth the wasted campaign funds, for your sake, Miya. My security nearly had it disposed of. They thought it was a bomb. 

 

say hi to meian for me! let that sexy sexy man know that i miss his sexy sexy ass

 

I will not. 

 

 

Atsumu's life was a fairly normal one before his mother went political. He was born in the tranquil countryside of Inarizaki, playing with the kids in the slums and learning about their struggles, competing with his twin at everything, going to their local high school and playing a varying assortment of sports depending on what he was interested in at the time, visiting his childhood friend Rintarou every after school. 

The Miyas weren't loaded; they just had enough for their basic necessities and savings. Their lives were like any normal middle-class family — simple. They didn't have pets, an enormous wardrobe of varying clothing, or any other luxuries. 

And life was interesting that way, because no one would have thought that Atsumu Miya, the fairly normal kid with a twin who was younger than him by about five minutes and a mother who ran her mouth without fear, who was born in the tranquil countryside of Inarizaki, would grow into a handsome man, First Son of Inarizaki, who tended to turkeys in his bedroom. 

Yes, turkeys. 

Atsumu sighed, looking away from the beady eyes of the dinosaur descendants. "Alright, I lose," he conceded begrudgingly. He gripped the comforter tighter around him. Pursing his lips, he reached for his phone on the nightstand and texted a picture to the one person he knew would be awake at this ungodly hour. 

 

Prince Not-So-Dickhead

 

did you know that turkeys don't blink

 

Not true. Meleagris gallopavo or turkeys exhibit a high blink rate of 0.72 blinks/s that reach up to 0.85 blinks/s. 

 

wtf

 

then explain to me why the turkeys in my bedroom keep staring at me without blinking

 

Birds don't blink like humans, so you must have missed it. They have this thing called nictitating membrane that lubricates their eyes. Why do you have turkeys in your bedroom? 

 

glad you asked

 

Ew. Forget I said anything. 

 

so the reason why i have turkeys in my room is because we're apparently going to have them all slaughtered tomorrow for the traditional state dinner or whatever and there wasn't anywhere else to put them. 

 

Anywhere other than your bedroom? 

 

exactly. you're quite smart, omi! i volunteered to look after all of them for tonight

 

Okay. Good talk. Delete my number, weirdo. 

 

ur killin me omi

 

Great. That was the intention. 

 

you are a horrible person. btw youre coming to the state banquet tomorrow right? 

 

Yes, I'll be there. 

 

cool, see ya then. and good night i shall now attempt to get some rest in the middle of my turkey-infested bedroom

 

You're gonna sleep even with turkeys in your bedroom? Do you not know that they peck out human eyeballs when they're unguarded? 

 

wtf is that a joke??? are u srs?? 

 

Yes. Their ancestors were dinosaurs, after all. I suppose they've retained the good old bloodlust in the bloodline after all these eons. I bet they're gobbling right now. 

 

WTF OMI-KUN THEY ARE!!!

 

Just sleep with one eye open. Or don't sleep at all. 

 

"Was that a joke?" Atsumu demanded when Kiyoomi picked up. "Are these turkeys really gonna peck me to the death?" 

"Miya, did you seriously call me at 3 in the morning just to ask me if some birds are going to murder you?" Kiyoomi's voice was scratchy and groggy over the phone. 

"Yes," he said. Kiyoomi was silent, so he prompted, "Well?" 

Kiyoomi sighed, but Atsumu could here the smile in his voice. "No, Atsumu," he said. "I was just messing with you. Turkeys won't peck you to death;  they'll claw at your skin until all that's left are bones." 

"Omi!" Atsumu exclaimed. "I seriously can't tell if yer joking. Ya spit out all these facts that I can't help but assume that yer always right." 

There was a rustling on the other end of the line, and Atsumu pictured Kiyoomi turning over to lie on his other side. "Jesus, I was kidding," he said. "But were they really loud?"

Atsumu glanced at the bird he'd held gazes with earlier. "Well, not so much now, but I can probably coax a gobble out of one of them."

"Yes, because that's not a stupid, worthless thing to do."

"Exactly, Omi-kun. Yer so smart." Atsumu hopped off the bed and squatted in front of one of the cages. "Uh, how do ya get a turkey to gobble?" 

"Try gobbling first," Kiyoomi suggested. "Studies have shown that animals, especially birds, are more likely to do things when prompted first. In other words, they'll imitate whatever you do in front of them."

"Really?" 

"No, stupid," Kiyoomi said ruthlessly. "Are you dumb? Turkeys gobble when they feel that they're in danger. You're supposed to squawk so they perceive you as a threat."

"How do I do that?" 

"First you kneel," Kiyoomi instructed. "Are you kneeling?" 

Atsumu sat up so he was sitting on his feet, then shifted more of his weight to his knees. "Yeah," he said. "I'm kneeling." 

"Okay, now lean closer to the turkey, but not too close. Just enough for it to feel threatened, but not so much that it'll cower in fear," Kiyoomi said. "Are you doing that?" 

Atsumu followed Kiyoomi's instructions. "Yes. What's next?" 

"Now pull out the engagement ring, kiss the turkey, then ask it to marry you."

"I fuckin’ hate ya, Omi!" Atsumu shouted, but he felt a sudden tug at his insides when he heard Kiyoomi laugh wholeheartedly at his stupid prank. The sudden movement made him tip backwards, and his back collided with the foot of his bed. 

The crash startled a gobble out of the turkeys, making Atsumu flinch, but he quickly sat up, excited. "Did ya hear that?" he asked. 

"Hear what?" Kiyoomi said boredly. "All I heard was you falling on your ass." 

"Oh, heard that, didn't ya?" Atsumu rolled his eyes. He mouthed 'asshole ' under his breath. "That's 'cause these cheeks are too damn fat." 

"I highly doubt that." 

"Dick." 

"Where is your brother for all of this?" Kiyoomi asked. 

"He's out with Sunarin. I sent them a text and all they sent back was dry laughter and a shit ton of poop emojis." 

"I understand." 

"Excuse me?" 

"You heard me. Did I stutter?" Atsumu imagined him raising an eyebrow, challenging. Head tilted to the side too, perhaps, in his crumpled pink shirt and striped pajamas. "Why don't you just sleep it off? I mean, it's not like they're gonna bust out of their cages the moment you drift off to sleep." 

"Are ya jokin'?" Atsumu asked, as if Kiyoomi's suggestion had been utterly and nothing short of deranged. And rightly so — who in their right mind would sleep soundly knowing that the something that had once been a fucking raptor is in the same room as them? There was a whole rafter of them, too. Atsumu would be damned if he ever closed his eyes for more than two seconds. 

"No, Miya, I'm not joking," Kiyoomi said. "Isn't there a different room you could sleep in?" 

"Turkeys were once dinosaurs, Omi! How could'ja  even suggest that I simply sleep?" Atsumu bellowed, still fixated on Kiyoomi's previous comment. "Fuckin' raptors! Do ya want me to die?" 

"You know I can have you offed for talking to me like that, right?" Kiyoomi said. Maybe Atsumu imagined it, but he thought he heard a smirk in the Prince's voice. "We have trained assassins that can get you, and you'll never see them coming. Not a breath, not a shadow. Or should I just wait for the turkeys to do the job?" 

"I hate you." 

"I'm glad— Jackson, no. Come here, buddy." There was a rustling on the other end of the line, and Atsumu heard something that distinctly sounded like aggressive sniffing. "Jackson says hello. Although I do hope that he's actually telling you to fuck off." 

"That's rich coming from someone who named their dog  Jackson. What are you, a white middle-aged man?" Atsumu snorted. "I bet he's tellin' you to fuck off." 

"How many times do I have to tell you that I named him after Percy?" 

"And how many times do I have to tell ya that Jackson is still a shitty name?" 

"You can tell me as many times as you want, Miya, but that's not gonna do jack shit," Kiyoomi retorted. 

"What are ya even doin' right now?" 

"Having my morning terrorized by a neanderthal Inarin and his rafter of turkeys descended from raptors." 

"Ha ha," Atsumu said. "I bet'cha  have one of those peely face masks on." 

"You're right," Kiyoomi said. "I use these specific ones occasionally as per advised by my dermatologist to keep my skin clear. Otherwise, I would be a national disgrace." 

"Oh, how awful," Atsumu moaned mockingly. "Our Prince has a pimple on his forehead! This is humiliating! What will the world think of us now?" 

"I'm fairly impressed by your accurate impression of my family." 

"What can I say?" Atsumu sighed. "I'm a man of many talents." 

"Man of many shortcomings, more like." 

"Name one." 

"Too annoying," Kiyoomi began listing, "doesn't know when to shut up, has his head stuck too far up his ass—" 

"Jesus Christ, alright, I got it, " Atsumu interrupted. "I have to be honest, though. I'm impressed that yer not actually a boring, robotic asshole." 

"Wow," Kiyoomi said, his voice a stark contrast to the supposed surprised connotation of the word. "I'm so honored." 

"Could ya be any more excited?" Atsumu questioned sarcastically. "I'll let it go just this once since yer starting to show the depths of yer character." 

"Truly an honor."

"Yeah, yeah," he barked. "Come on, keep them coming." He yawned, making the turkeys turn to face him. "Yikes, that was creepy. Stop looking at me, ya weirdos." 

"I'll assume you're talking to the turkeys to save the both of us from another bout of mindless banter," Kiyoomi said. "Go to sleep, Atsumu. I swear to God, those damn turkeys aren't gonna go Jurassic Park on you." 

"If I die, it's all yer fault." 

"That's the dream." 

"Good night, Omi," he said, yawning again. 

Kiyoomi hesitated, a quiet twenty second pause that would have made Atsumu uncomfortable, had he not been intoxicated with the thought of sleep, then: "Good night, Atsumu." 

Different plants have different rates of growth. The saguaro cactus grows an inch every year. The bamboo plant can grow as tall as a ten-story building in a matter of weeks. They all grow in their own pace, while also taking into account other factors such as the climate and the soil, but they almost always follow the same pattern: slowly, then all at once. It takes a while for a plant to shoot out of the soil, but once they’re exposed to open air, the differences in their development is continuous and most definitely fruitful.

Or maybe it was just a matter of perspective: it looks like it’s growing fast because you can see it, a stark difference to when it was still in the confines of the earth, hidden away from your sight so you can’t see it crack out of its shell.

Whatever the case, when the guests started pouring in a little before eight in the evening, it reminded Atsumu of the plants in his garden: slowly, then all at once. The first arrivals were always the young, eager children of lesser-known politicians driven  by the promise of an afterparty hosted, of course, by the legendary trio of the First House. This group is followed by their respective parents who’d spent a good few minutes gathered outside, talking. Then, finally, the final wave rolled in consisting of the more valuable faces of the global scale such as the kings of Dateko and, of course, Itachiyama’s Royal Family.

It was a bit weird, seeing Kiyoomi now. Atsumu was used to seeing the old Kiyoomi he’d made up in his head: the cold, unfeeling robot who wasn’t at all human, the one he hated being compared to because, really, what was there to compare when they were both entirely different people who have no similarities whatsoever except, perhaps, their social status in their respective nations? But now, after a month or so of talking, he’d come to understand the inner workings of the young prince. Atsumu understood the restrictions and limits the Royal Family had forced on him for the sake of keeping up an image, and those restrictions were what made him less of a person and more of a cardboard puppy who did whatever he was told to do.

Even weirder: it had been a while since they last saw each other, and the image of Kiyoomi in Atsumu’s head had been a man in his crumpled pink shirt, hair disheveled and messy, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Now, Kiyoomi stood before Atsumu in a black, three-piece suit with his boring black tie, back straighter than a ruler, looking so much like the old Kiyoomi Atsumu had known, but that robotic image was no longer there in Atsumu’s head, replaced instead by the funny Percy Jackson fan Atsumu had discovered and came to like.

It was like meeting an entirely different person, and it made Atsumu feel all hot and sweaty under his suit. There were vines growing in his insides, gripping his internal organs with their snake-like hold, threatening to crawl up his esophagus and spill out of his throat. It gave him whiplash, and he blinked repeatedly to shake the dizziness out of his head.

“Still sportin’ that damned tie, I see,” Atsumu drawled. “Didn’t I tell ya how boring that is? And by the way, we don’t allow boring in the afterparty later.”

Kiyoomi sighed. “I figured as much,” he admitted, “so I brought another one with me.”

Atsumu grinned. “Good boy.” His gaze shifted to the man beside the prince. “I’m assuming your friend is Bokuto-san?” He held out a hand in greeting, smiling.

Koutarou ignored his hand and pulled him in for a hug instead. “That’s me!” he exclaimed. “Just call me Kou. Kiyoomi’s boyfriend is also my best friend!”

Kiyoomi winced, looking away. “You know it’s not real, right?” he muttered. “Sorry about him,” he said to Atsumu. “He is a very hard person to contain. Then again, that’s why he’s my best friend, I think.”

“Aw, that’s cute, Omi,” Atsumu said teasingly, squinting his eyes and poking Kiyoomi’s cheeks. “Now, why don’t we get settled down, yeah? Get this boring dinner over already and party!”

“Yup!” Koutarou agreed. “Party! I can’t wait! I can’t believe I’m gonna be attending a party hosted by you and your friends. This is so exciting!”

“Yes, I’ve been told that we are the best in this department,” Atsumu said, humming appreciatively. He led them to a table. “Oh, sorry!” Atsumu said when realization hit him. “Would ya prefer to be seated next to your families instead?”

Kiyoomi and Koutarou shared a look, then shook their heads. “No, thank you,” they said simultaneously.

Atsumu laughed. “Right.”

The state dinner proceeded with no incident, thankfully. Saeko would have definitely killed Atsumu if he crashed into another cake. Approximately two and a half hours later when the state dinner finished, Rintarou announced that the afterparty will begin in a few minutes, inviting all the youngsters to the next floor.

“You can change into more comfortable clothing, if you wish,” he said.

“Thank fuck,” Atsumu muttered. He stood quickly, excusing himself from the table with a pleasant smile as he loosened his tie. Osamu and Rintarou followed him. He stretched. “I was going to die, should that dinner have gone longer,” he said.

“We should’ve waited a bit more, then,” Osamu jabbed.

“Ha ha, Samu, I know you can’t wait to let loose either.”

“Damn right. All that polite smilin’ and talkin’ were killin’ me!” Osamu groaned.

“I bet,” Rintarou said. “I was fighting off my yawns the whole time. Your mom would’ve kicked me out if I yawned during Governor Ukai’s oh-so-fascinating tale about how he ate the world’s largest ice cream scoop in one sitting. Sir, I’m sorry to rain on your parade, but I can do better than that.”

They entered the elevator and got off at the fourth floor. They walked to Atsumu’s room, where they agreed to store their party fits, since his room was closer. They quickly got changed, then went to the previous floor to get the party started.

Atsumu grinned when Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now started playing. His gaze landed on Kiyoomi and Koutarou who were making their way to the three. 

“Would’ve been nice if Akaashi was here,” Koutarou said with a small pout.

“Who’s Akaashi?” Rintarou asked.

Koutarou instantly brightened. “My boyfriend!” he said. “He’s an editor for VL Weekly !”

“Oh, you mean Keiji Akaashi?”Rintarou said.

“Yeah! How do you know him?”“I’ve modeled for VL Weekly a couple of times, and I see him around a lot.”

“He’s very handsome, isn’t he?”

Kiyoomi groaned. “Let’s get out before he starts spewing speeches of love for his boyfriend.”

“Bar?” Atsumu offered. “I only had a couple of glasses of wine at dinner. I could use some whiskey right now.”

“Bar it is.”

Atsumu wondered how they looked as they walked shoulder to shoulder towards the bar. He supposed they would have looked intimidating - the First Son of Inarizaki and the Prince of Itachiyama. It was thrilling, too, and Atsumu felt like they were in some sort of rich, unassailable fantasy AU, two powerful heartthrobs of their own countries getting together for a drink. Then, remembering that they were supposed to be “secret” boyfriends, he placed an arm around the taller man as he steered the two of them to the bar. 

It was kind of exhilarating, thinking about it, because the people see two high-powered Herculean men, a highly influential rumored couple locked in their own tight bubble, but inside said intimate bubble were just two friends with mischievous glints behind their eyes, the only two people who knew about Atsumu’s Turkey Meltdown and Kiyoomi’s tendencies to spit random facts whenever he can, no matter how weird.

They got their drinks, then went to weave through the crowd after a round of drinking and talking. Atsumu introduced Kiyoomi to the people he knew in the party, and they all looked up to the prince in awe. Atsumu didn’t even get annoyed at the occasional comments comparing the two of them anymore. It was different now, and Atsumu, instead, couldn’t help but feel pleased to be held at the same pedestal as Kiyoomi.

Atsumu could recognize Kiyoomi’s expressions, too. Where he used to see blatant boredom and disgusted, he now saw carefully masked and concealed amusement disguised as polite interest. 

“I still can’t believe the two of you are… friends ,” Tadashi Yamaguchi, First Son of Karasuno, said. “I mean, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s just… I never saw it coming.”

“Yeah,” Atsumu said. “We get that a lot.”

“Even I can’t believe it either,” Kiyoomi said. “I never thought I’d come to like a guy shorter than me.”

“Hey!”

“And also very annoying.”

“For a second there, I thought you were going to say something romantic,” Tadashi said, laughing. He cleared his throat when he caught himself. “I mean, sweet. Like, in a platonic sense.

“Believe me, when it comes to this guy, there’s no sweetness at all,” Atsumu complained.

“What do you mean, babe?” Kiyoomi asked condescendingly, smirking. “You know I love you.”

Atsumu’s heart skipped a beat right then, and he had to remind himself that this wasn’t real, that it was all an act, one that Kiyoomi was pretty damn good at, to be honest. Atsumu hated how he was a flawless actor, which was possibly the result of the years of having to put up a front every time he had to face people and cameras, because his convincing acting sometimes made him forget that it wasn’t real.

The rest of the party was a blur of dancing and music. Even Kiyoomi was genuinely having fun, occasionally swaying to the music as he talked and laughed with other people. (As he should, Atsumu thought. He, Osamu and Rintarou threw the best parties, after all.)

Atsumu was pulled into the crowd, and there he lost himself in the music. He closed his eyes and let his body move on its own. A hand grabbed his, and he tensed, but immediately relaxed when he recognized Rintarou’s familiar touch.

“Let’s dance, Tsumu,” he said.

As their bodies connected, he looked behind Rintarou and found Kiyoomi’s eyes on the other side of the room. He smirked, grinding on Rintarou while maintaining eye contact. He laughed when Kiyoomi looked away, cheeks red.

Cute.

He left Rintarou to find another partner, navigating the sea of bodies to reach Kiyoomi. “Ya  don’t dance?” he asked when he reached him.

“Do ballroom dances count?” Kiyoomi asked. He clasped his hands in front of him, before deciding to let them hang awkwardly at his sides.

“Come on!” Atsumu invited. “You’re missing out.”

“I’m good.”

“Can I hold yer hand?” Atsumu asked. “Or am I too sweaty and dirty?”

If Atsumu had asked this a month ago, Kiyoomi would have mistaken it for teasing, an insult in regards to his clean freak-ness. But now Kiyoomi knew that it was asked out of genuine concern.

Kiyoomi considered it for a moment. “I guess I can just avoid touching my face, then sanitize later.”

Atsumu smiled.  He grabbed Kiyoomi’s hand, then gently pulled him towards the dancefloor. “Relax,” he instructed. “It’s all in the hips, ya know.” He reached for Kiyoomi’s hands with both hands, and he felt Kiyoomi’s body tense under his touch. “That’s not what I said!” he complained.

“Look, I told you-” Kiyoomi began.

Atsumu huffed, face red from the liquor in his system. “Here, look at me.”

“I am, Miya.”

“Did ya seriously never try going to clubs? Or, like, a school dance, at least?” Atsumu asked incredulously. “Not even snuck out once, if ya weren’t allowed to go?”

“No,” Kiyoomi said pointedly.

“Well, there’s always a first for everything, yeah?” Atsumu winked. “Now’s always a good time to start.” There’s music pumping along the walls of his veins now, lacing itself around his blood cells. He was a Codariocalyx motorius, the dancing plant, and there was no stopping him.

He laced his fingers together behind Kiyooomi’s head. “Take it slow,” he said. “Just move yer hips to the beat. Follow me.” 

Gradually, Kiyoomi started warming up to him, shedding all tension from his muscles. His eyes were intense and stayed trained on Atsumu. He’d discarded his suit and waiscoat after the dinner and had only a red long-sleeved shirt and a loose tie on. Atsumu would be lying if he didn’t admit that the prince looked hot.

Oh, boy. The alcohol really was doing things to his brain.

“That’s more like it,” he whispered as he guided Kiyoomi.

“Do you really want to be stuck babysitting me the whole night?” Kiyoomi asked, biting his lip. “I mean, I don’t mind keeping to myself. Wouldn’t want to keep you from having fun. Just putting that out there.”

“Omi, babe, let’s not kid ourselves, yeah? We both know you’d rather be with me.”  He closed his eyes, pressing closer. He could feel Kiyoomi’s warmth through his shirt, the hardness of his chest, the tension that was now back into his muscles.

“You’re having way too much fun,” Kiyoomi commented.

Atsumu opened his eyes and looked up. He noted the redness of Kiyoomi’s face. Must be the alcohol. “Of course!” he exclaimed. He flailed his arms. “This is fun, Omi.” He pursed his lips. “Ya good there, Omi? Yer all red. Ya must have had too much champagne.”

Kiyoomi coughed, squirming uncomfortably under Atsumu’s gaze. “I’m gonna, uh, go to the bathroom.”

“Okay,” Atsumu said. “Careful.”

“Yeah.” Then he was gone.

His weird behavior bothered Atsumu, but when Bokuto’s hand found his shoulder, he was dancing once more.

 

 

k @starkvisionary 

DID ANYONE SEE /THAT/ SAKUATSU IN THE BACKGROUND OF KANJI’S INSTAGRAM POST HELPPPOROHGEUHG IM GOING MAD

 

neptune @msbyworld  

Replying to @starkvisionary 

YES OMG I WAS LITERALLY THINKING OF YOU WHEN I SAW THAT

k @starkvisionary

Replying to @msbyworld

NEPTUNE OMG OHGISUHG THEY WERE LITERALLY GRINDING ON EACH OTHER BYE IM PASSING OUT



howl @plushyholland

THEY REALLY DID THAT OMG IM LOSING MYMIND

 

alex @MESSRBUCKY

everyone on the tl freaking out about sakuatsu while i’m just here vibing rip to everyone but i’m different

 

 

benjie @bananasnbenjamas

Prince Kiyoomi is an embarrassment to our country, consorting w/ the enemy and acting inappropriately, as documented. I hope the Royal Family knocks some sense into this man. Being friends with that dirty Miya boy is fine, but a relationship is where I cross the line.

 

mina @peripherals

Replying to @bananasnbenjamas

lmao true foreigners wouldn’t understand but inarins have dirty blood it’s not right to consort with them

mika @mikaternals

Replying to @bananasnbenjamins

exactly

howl @plushyholland

Replying to @bananasnbenjamas

mans being xenophobic in this day and age,, seriously, get with the times

 

 

A couple of the more important families decided to spend the night at the First House, as the afterparty had ended later than anticipated. One of these families, of course, was  Itachiyama’s Royal Family, and, of fucking course,   Kita had to suggest that Kiyoomi sneak into Atsumu’s room for the sake of appearances. (Of course, they had to make sure at least one person saw Kiyoomi follow Atsumu into his room.)

“Jesus,” Atsumu grumbled once they were out of sight. He stumbled a bit in his steps, drunk, and Kiyoomi had to steady him. “Give me a fuckin’ break.”

“When’s the last time you changed your sheets, Miya?” Kiyoomi asked as he peered into the room. It was fairly (and surprisingly)  tidy, Kiyoomi had to give it to him.

“Um,” Atsumu said. He flopped on his bed. “Three months?”

“Three months,” Kiyoomi repeated.

“Yep.”

“I’m not sleeping there."

Atsumu snorted. “Where would ya sleep, then? The floor?” he challenged.

Kiyoomi sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time this night alone. “At least help me change it,” he said, almost pleading.

“Fine, fine,” Atsumu relented. He stood and tossed Kiyoomi a towel from his cabinet. “Go shower first. There’s a spare toothbrush inside the cabinet under the sink. I’ll just...take a quick nap. S’a shame yer not sleeping with the rest of yer family. I bet mom had assistants tend to them. Where’s Kou, by the way?”

“He caught the next flight home,” Kiyoomi replied. “Said he wanted to see his boyfriend before he goes to Africa tomorrow night.” 

Atsumu hummed drowsily in response, before his heavy eyelids finally got the best of him and dragged him to sleep by the shoulders.  He woke thirty minutes later, after Kiyoomi shook him awake. He had to blink a couple times to focus his vision. “Uh,” he said dumbly.

“I asked you what I could wear,” Kiyoomi said.

“Oh.” Kiyoomi was only in a fucking towel. And it was driving Atsumu crazy. He had to force his eyes away. It must be the lack of sleep. He gulped. He stood, movements airy and unnatural. He felt like his body was going auto-pilot. He grabbed whatever he could reach and handed it to Kiyoomi without meeting his eyes.

“Those are three pairs of boxers.”

Atsumu looked at his hand. Woops. He chuckled to save face. “A-are they really, though?” he said with a pained smile. “Are ya- are ya trying to force the societal norms on these articles of clothing that I’m handin’ out to ya right now? I can’t believe ya assumed their identity. They can be whatever article of clothing they want to be.”

Kiyoomi regarded him weirdly. “Okay?” he said. “And I’m pretty sure they identify as boxers, Miya. Just give me my damn clothes.”

Atsumu gaped at him, and the words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself. “You’re going commando?”

“What the fuck- give me that.” Kiyoomi snatched one of the underwears from Atsumu’s hand. “Idiot.”

Atsumu blinked, then regained his senses. He cleared his throat. His face was becoming warm. Because of embarrassment. Not because his pretend boyfriend who had broad shoulders and chiseled abs was only wearing a towel in his room. Yeah.  “Uh, just take whatever,” he said. “I’ll go… bathroom… yeah.”

The image of a half naked Sakusa with nothing but a towel on was now ingrained in his head. Even when he closed his eyes, he could see the drops of water dripping from Kiyoomi’s face, trailing his neck and his chest, then crossing his Adonis belt and hiding behind the towel wrapped tightly around his waist. Atsumu wondered what it was like to be a water droplet.

He finished his shower in under fifteen minutes and emerged from the bathroom fully clothed. (He’d decided beforehand that he didn’t want to be subjected to the awkwardness of having to ask Kiyoomi to look away while he got dressed.) He found Kiyoomi standing by his bed, looking around the room. Atsumu walked past him and bent to get a fresh sheet for his bed. “Here,” he said, spreading the sheet. “Help me.”

Kiyoomi took the other end, and they fitted it on the mattress after removing the old sheet.  They also replaced the pillow covers and the blanket. Kiyoomi retired on the newly made bed with a satisfied smile. “My back was killing me,” he said.

“I absolutely cannot imagine having to maintain a perfect posture for more than two hours. And there ya were, ya absolute madman, back straight as a damn ruler the whole fuckin’ night.”

“Just used to it, I guess,” Kiyoomi said. 

“Scoot over,” he told Kiyoomi then took his place on the other side of the bed. It was fairly large, and there was more than enough space for two grown men to share it, so it didn’t really bother him much. But if you were fantasizing about someone and said person is sleeping right next to you, how would you feel?

Exactly.

He switched sides every few seconds, trying to get himself comfortable until Kiyoomi called him out on it.

“Will you stop moving around, Miya? I can’t sleep,” he said irritatedly.

“Me neither, Omi, ya ain’t special,” he grumbled.

Kiyoomi shifted so they were now facing each other. His eyes looked glazed but still bright in the dimness of Atsumu’s room. He reminded Atsumu of a toddler who had just woken up from a deep, fulfilling sleep, like a sunflower looking for the sun. His eyes focused when they landed on Atsumu.

“My clothes suit ya,” Atsumu blurted out.

“Are you flirting with me?”

There was something about the way the moonlight spilled into the windows and hit Kiyoomi’s face just right that made Atsumu feel somewhat alienated, as if he wasn’t in his own body. The black of Kiyoomi’s locks were highlighted with a certain ethereal blue, and he looked at peace, like an angel who was finally home in the clouds. 

Atsumu felt his heart hammer in his chest, and he became a brave man.

“If I say yes, what then?”

It was almost like a challenge, a layer of silent daring blanketing his words like ice with flames licking at its edges. And maybe Atsumu had intended it that way, because the tension had finally gotten under his skin and manifested itself into a sudden surge of temporary courage.

“Then I’d tell you that you’d look even better in mine.”

Atsumu didn’t miss a beat, not wanting to give Kiyoomi the satisfaction of seeing him visibly flustered. “Is that an invitation?” he said, smirking. “Omi, I know I’m hot, honestly, ya don’t have to profess yer undying love for me. It’s embarrassing.”

Kiyoomi snorted, finally looking away. “You’re impossible, Miya.”

“I’ve been told.”

They were silent afterwards, basking in the quiet of Atsumu’s lightless room as they laid on their backs. Atsumu could hear the roar of his blood in his ears, could feel his pulse under his skin, quick and excited. He was painfully aware of Kiyoomi’s body next to him, and his hand started to twitch towards Kiyoomi’s on its own.

“What’s it like,” Kiyoomi said, “to choose your way to high status, rather than being born into it?” 

“Surreal,” Atsumu admitted. “Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m no longer that kid mindlessly runnin’ across the fields by the lake.” He sighed. 

“Do you sometimes harbor negative feelings towards your mother for thrusting you into politics?”

“No,” Atsumu said. “When I was younger, I used to play with the other kids in the slums, and I could see their poor livin’ conditions and how awful their lives are, and I wanted to change that. ‘Cause those guys were my friends, ya know? We weren’t loaded either, so I couldn’t exactly whip out cash and just hand them over.” He shifted. “Then mom got into politics, and of course I wanted in too. There were so many people living like those kids I used to play with, and I wanted to help ‘em. And, y’know, it’s all great, ‘cause with where I am now, I can actually make a change.”

Kiyoomi hummed. A sudden rush of satisfaction washed over Atsumu as he watched Kiyoomi’s Adam’s apple bob up and down, but it was quickly replaced by an overwhelming sense of dread.

“Omi, are ya unhappy?” he asked.

Kiyoomi turned to him. “Where is this coming from?”

Atsumu shrugged. “I never really apologized.” he said. “I mean, this whole thing was my fault, isn’t it? And I got you roped into all this. So…”

Something flashed on Kiyoomi’s eyes that Atsumu couldn’t quite place. An intensity - vicious and ready to strike. Then his body stiffened, and he looked away. He sat up. “Don’t,” he mumbled. “Don’t apologize.”

“No,” Atsumu insisted. “Omi, just accept the damn ap—”

It took him a moment to realize Kiyoomi was kissing him. It was abrupt and sloppy, but his lips were soft and tender. His shoulders were tense, eyes shut tight. Atsumu could only look at his scrunched up face with wide eyes as he laid there, frozen. 

In order to grow roses, one must find a sunny location with  good drainage. Fertilizing and evenly watering the soil can keep it moist and healthy. They begin to grow with the bud swelling of the leaves, which begins after the cotyledons have completely unfolded. The basal side shoots begin to form, and the main stem elongates. From here, the harvestable parts develop, followed by the flowers themselves. They emerge slowly, like a careful pound dog let loose for the first time. Slowly, easing itself into its new form. Slowly, then all at once. 

Kiyoomi kissing Atsumu made him go through all the stages at once, basically skimming past the Extended BBCH Scale's 10 established principal stages of growth and slowing down just enough for him to luxuriate in the flowering stage. 

There were basal side shoots growing out of his ribcage, stems shooting from the drums in his thorax. With all the flowers growing out of his chest, he could have made an entire fucking garden. 

But the petals fell off the floral axis before they could fully bloom. Kiyoomi pulled away before Atsumu could even react. 

"Fuck," he said. He licked his lips nervously, getting out of the bed in one swift movement. The moon illuminated his back, giving the illusion that it was glowing. "Sorry. I have to leave." 

"No, Omi! Wait!" he called. “Kiyoomi!”

But Atsumu could only watch, hand outstretched,  as Kiyoomi ran off, the fabric of his own shirt on the prince’s back slipping from his finger, leaving him grasping at nothing but air.

 

Atsumu didn’t think much. Of course, it was a given that he could think . That’s how the human mind works. But Atsumu didn’t like to analyze things thoroughly. He preferred not to overthink, as it interferes with his productivity. He’d rather push through with whatever idea he had and see how it went.

Thinking only made his head hurt and planted unnecessary seeds of doubt in his mind. And when he was full of worry, he’d end up not doing anything.

But that kiss....

He kept thinking about it. He’d tried everything to get it out of his head — gardening, college, meetings for his mom’s campaign — but it just wouldn’t leave his mind. Did it mean Kiyoomi liked him? What if he didn’t? If he did, he would’ve texted him by now, right? Atsumu checked his phone. Still nothing. He sighed, pocketing his phone again.

He’d already graduated and all, but still no word from the Prince. 

Kiyoomi had gotten the first flight home that night, Wakatoshi had explained at breakfast last month. “Did something happen?” he’d asked Atsumu.

“Nothing,” Atsumu had said.

He brought his free hand to his lips. He could still taste the fresh mint toothpaste, the hungry fervor Kiyoomi projected in one hasty kiss. He supposed he should have seen it coming, what with his attempts at flirtation and the undeniable sexual tension between them. It still came as a surprise, though, because he definitely didn’t think Kiyoomi would ever want him. It was sloppy and sudden, and he wanted more of it. 

He paused. Did that mean he liked Kiyoomi, too? He wasn’t sure if he liked the idea of harboring not-quite-negative feelings for an Itaji royal, but he knew he liked the feel of Kiyoomi’s mouth on his, and he was curious to know how the broad of Kiyoomi’s shoulders would react under his touch. 

“Alright, how long are you going to keep standing there, drowning the poor plant?” 

“Huh?” Atsumu looked below him and yelped. “Shit.” He turned off the hose and knelt before his potted pothos plant. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t tryin’ to drown ya, I swear.” He stood and turned to Rintarou. “How long have ya been standing there?”

“How long have you been standing there?” Rintarou unfolded his arms and pulled a chair from the garden table set. “So, what’s up?”

Atsumu sighed, retiring on one of the chairs too. He sat in silence, searching for the right words to say. How would he even tell Rintarou? ‘Kiyoomi ran away after kissing me’? Sunarin would only laugh at him. ‘I don’t know if I like Kiyoomi or if I just want to kiss him again’? No good, either. He didn’t know if he had the courage to admit anything out loud.

“Wow, okay,” Rintarou said sarcastically when Atsumu didn’t speak. “Am I supposed to guess? Is that what this silence is about?”

“No, no,” Atsumu said. He pressed his chin to the lower region of his palm. “It’s just… Say, Suna, how did ya know ya liked me? Before, when ya asked me out.”

Rintarou stared at him. Atsumu felt himself shrink under his accusatory gaze. “Did something happen between you and Kiyoomi? Is that why he went home that night?” he interrogated. “Did he finally kiss you or something? And now you’re wondering if you like him?”

Atsumu’s jaw dropped. 

Rintarou laughed. “I take it that I’m correct?”

“Uh, yeah.” Then the words came spilling out of Atsumu. It was almost embarrassing to admit, even, but he couldn’t stop.

“Okay, so you want to kiss him again,” Rintarou began listing when Atsumu stopped rambling, “and you think he’s hot, probably got flustered after seeing his bare chest, which I assume you did since he showered in your bathroom last month. You keep waiting for a text message that probably wouldn’t come, you’re bi, you think he’s funny, you miss talking to him: yep, you like him.”

“I don’t miss talking to him,” Atsumu denied.

“So why do you keep checking your phone every few minutes?” Rintarou said, deadpan. “And don’t think I haven’t noticed you smiling at your phone while texting him these past few months.” He smirked. “Doesn’t the quiet of not having anyone to talk to make you feel all empty inside? Admit it, you miss him.”

“Okay, maybe a little.”

Rintarou looked at him pointedly. 

“Fine,” Atsumu admitted begrudgingly. “A lot. I miss him a lot. He was the one I could turn to for… whatever, and he would just go along with me. It was really nice talking to him. Comfortable, warm — even if it was just through the screen. And of course, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t attracted to him. He has nice eyes, ya know? I hate green, but his eyes are the kind of glossy shade that I like. Just right. Like seeing a leaf through a droplet of water. The moles on his forehead… they’re kinda sexy, don’tcha think? They’re right above the arch of his brow, and— oh my God, I like him, don’t I?”

If they had been in a TV series, Rintarou would have stared at the camera like in The Office.

“Hey, hold on,” Atsumu backtracked. “What do you mean I’m ‘waiting for a text message that probably won't come’?”

Rintarou rolled his eyes, reaching over to lightly smack Atsumu’s head. “Stupid,” he said. “Of course, he’s not gonna text you back. He probably thinks you hate him. He kissed you out of the blue without knowing if you even like him. He’s afraid. You’re gonna have to make the first move."

“But is it really okay for me to like him?” Atsumu asked. “I mean, with him being a prince of Itachiyama and all.”

“Who cares?” Rintarou said. “You two are already fake boyfriends, aren’t you?”

“Ah, but that’s exactly it:  his dad consented to a fake relationship, not a real one. I don’t think he’d approve.” He sighed heavily, putting his head in his hands. “This is why I hate thinking,” he moaned despairingly.

“So don’t think,” Rintarou said.

“Huh?” Atsumu said, looking up. “That’s new, coming from you, Sunarin.”

“Just go to him,” Rintarou insisted. “That’s what you’re good at, right? Being impulsive?”

Atsumu blinked. “Does it count as being impulsive if you’re the one who told me to do it?” 

Rintarou sighed, smacking his forehead. “Just go, idiot.” 

 

Atsumu didn’t really know what he was doing. He stood there, in front of the Palace gates, totally killing one of the guards at a staring contest. 

“You can't just go in,” the guard protested as she looked away, blinking. 

“What if I make a lot of noise?” Atsumu asked her. “I can be really, really loud.” 

“I bet,” she mumbled under her breath. 

“Excuse me?” Atsumu said. He raised a hand before she could speak. “Y’know what? Screw this. If the prince tells ya I can come in, will ya let me in? We’re best buds, y’know.”

She raised an eyebrow. “ Just best buds?” 

Atsumu stepped back. “Wha—?” he sputtered. “That’s not the point!” He scoffed and pointed a finger to her face. “Just you wait.” He took his phone to call Kiyoomi.  “Yes, hello? It’s me. Couldja let me in? I’m outside the gate.”

“You're joking,” came Kiyoomi’s response. 

“What? No, I’m not! I really am outside yer gate! Why don’t ya check and see?”

“No, I will not.” 

“How awful of ya, Omi! After ya ghosted me for a month , ya won’t even do this one thing for me?” Atsumu said. “I thought we were friends.” 

There was shuffling on the other end, then a gasp. "Holy shit, you're really here. What the fuck are you doing here?" 

"Well, ya refused to talk to me so I figured I should just come and visit ya," Atsumu said, as if it was the most obvious course of action one should take after being ignored by one's pretend boyfriend. "Lemme in, will ya?" 

"Huh? Oh, yeah, hand your phone over to one of the guards, I'll talk to them." 

With a smug grin, Atsumu gave his phone to the guard, who rolled her eyes at him and finally let him in. He winked at her as he walked away. 

Kiyoomi met him halfway on the path to the Palace. He looked mildly disgruntled and winded. Atsumu wanted to pull him in for a kiss. 

"Hi," Atsumu said cheerfully. 

"You," Kiyoomi said. It looked like he hurried to go and meet him, given that his hair was a mess, and his face mask was partly off. "What are you doing here?"

"Can we talk?" Atsumu said. "Preferably somewhere a battalion of guards can't blatantly stare at us." 

Kiyoomi looked behind Atsumu and caught the guards staring at them. He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "Alright. Follow me." 

When Atsumu took the first available flight to Itachiyama, he didn’t really think about what he was going to do when he arrived. But now that he was here, he couldn’t help the nervous energy that started to emanate from him as Kiyoomi guided him to his room. He felt like a Mimosa pudica, a touch-me-not, shying away from the human touch. Or in this case, shying away from the inevitable confrontation he was going to have to face.

Kiyoomi closed the door behind him, inhaling deeply and discarding his mask to the nearest bin. “So, what brings you here?”

He frowned. “Are ya kiddin’ me, Omi?” he demanded. He scoffed. “Ya kiss me in my own room, run away, then proceed to ignore me for a whole month, and now yer wondering why I came to see ya?”

“Ah,” Kiyoomi said, looking away. “Right. We should probably discuss that.” He cleared his throat. “I apologize for my actions, which I was only prompted to do due to my inability to control my emotions—”

“Why’re ya being so formal with me, Omi?” Atsumu interrupted. 

“Sorry,” he said. “I do that a lot when I’m nervous.”

“Look,” Atsumu said, “I came here to know if we’re still… y’know, whatever this is. Are we still good? Or d’ya not want to hear from me anymore?”

“We’re okay,” Kiyoomi confirmed. “And I’m sorry for ignoring you. I got scared.”

“I know, Kiyoomi,” Atsumu said gently. “But I didn’t really come here for an apology.” He started to walk towards Kiyoomi, slowly closing the gap between them.

“What?” Kiyoomi asked, gulping visibly. “What are you doing?”

“Kiyoomi,” he breathed, “can I kiss ya?”

“What? Are you crazy?” Kiyoomi yelped.

Atsumu smirked. “I did a lot of thinking,” he said, “in the weeks you didn’t talk to me, and I realized three things.” His eyes dropped to Kiyoomi’s lips, and he cocked his head to the side, asking for permission. When Kiyoomi nodded, he captured Kiyoomi’s lips in his, pulling Kiyoomi’s body close and resting his hand on the small of Kiyoomi’s back. They pulled away to catch their breath.“One: I wanted to kiss ya again.”

“Yeah?” Kiyoomi breathed with a smirk. His face was a little red with warmth, and Atsumu thought he never looked prettier. “Tell me more.”

“Gettin’ cocky there, are ya?” Atsumu kissed him again, and this time Kiyoomi opened his mouth to let Atsumu’s tongue in. His hands traced the frame of Kiyoomi’s body, finding places he never thought he’d get to touch. It’s funny how, a couple of months ago, Atsumu would have retched at the thought of making out with one Sakusa Kiyoomi, but now here he was, pressing his body against Kiyoomi’s, wanting to feel every inch of his skin. “Two,” he gasped, “I want ya, Omi.”

Atsumu’s hand palmed Kiyoomi’s member, stroking it above his pants as Kiyoomi took his shirt off.  “Are you clean?” Kiyoomi asked, face flushed. “Or should you shower first before we do this?”

“If I say no, does that count as dirty talk?” he joked, unzipping Kiyoomi’s pants. “Kidding. I’m clean. I showered at the hotel before I came here.” His tongue met the fabric of Kiyoomi’s underwear, and the sudden warmth of his wet tongue made Kiyoomi whimper.

“Can we take this to the bed?” Kiyoomi moaned, legs squirming under Atsumu's touch.

Atsumu grinned. “Thought you’d never ask.”



"If I stay, I'll get into trouble, won't I?" Atsumu asked when Kiyoomi emerged from the bathroom. 

Kiyoomi joined him back under the covers, arm wrapped around Atsumu's body, rubbing his thumb against Atsumu's bare shoulder. "Yeah," he said. "Are you going back to the hotel or are you heading home immediately?" 

"I think I'll stay at the hotel for a bit," Atsumu said, burying his head in Kiyoomi's chest. 

"Okay," Kiyoomi said. 

When two physical systems come into contact, and one's temperature is higher than the other, heat flows from one body to the other until they both reach thermal equilibrium. Atsumu could feel Kiyoomi's Magnolia tree heart under his palm, pumping blood instead of water, and he wondered if two erratically beating hearts would meld once they found each other, waltzing in the showroom of their chests, until they started singing the same song, beating in the same rhythm. A cardiovascular equilibrium, if there was such a thing. 

"Can we stay like this for a while?" Kiyoomi asked. His voice is deep and full, but it was soft around the edges, and Atsumu thought it was nice how the quiet seemed to amplify it, but also sucked it in like a black hole would a nearby star. 

"Five minutes," Atsumu decided, "then I have to go. God knows what your dad would do to me when he finds out." 

"Right," Kiyoomi said. He heaved a sigh. "Alright, I'll bite. Should we talk about… this?" When Atsumu looked up at him, he continued, "I mean, we're both in agreement about our current relationship, right? Because it would be awkward if we aren't." 

"Uh, yeah?" Atsumu said. "I mean we've always been dating, haven't we? Now, it's just… real." 

"Yeah," Kiyoomi said with a relieved exhale. He relaxed into Atsumu's hold. "What's number three?" 

"Number three?" 

"You said you did a lot of thinking," Kiyoomi said, "and you realized three things. You only told me two." 

"Ah," said Atsumu. "Number three." His fingers trailed along Kiyoomi's skin, tracing his chest. He thumbed Kiyoomi's nipple, laughing at the sound of the Prince hitching his breath. "The third thing I realized," he said, crawling over Kiyoomi's body, situating his legs on both sides of Kiyoomi, so he was straddling the taller man, "is that I like ya, Omi. So damn much." 

He moved to sit on Kiyoomi's stomach and bent to press his lips to Kiyoomi's neck, hand reaching over to fondle Kiyoomi's lower region. 

"We just showered," Kiyoomi whined as Atsumu slipped his hand inside his underwear.

"Is that a no?" Atsumu asked. 

Kiyoomi shook his head. "Keep going," he said. "Kiss me." 

Atsumu obliged, loving the taste of Kiyoomi’s mouth and the sound of his breathless gasps. "Do ya like me Omi?" he asked in between wet kisses. "Tell me ya like me." 

"I do," Kiyoomi whispered shakily, shuddering in pleasure as Atsumu started to move down from his neck, leaving a trail of kisses as he went lower. "I've liked you ever since I properly saw you at the state dinner after the 2014 Olympics. Do you remember?" 

"Really?" Atsumu teased, pulling down Kiyoomi's underwear and kissing the skin underneath it. "That's a damn long time ago, Omi."

Kiyoomi was about to answer when there came a knock on the door. "Kiyoomi?" It sounded like his dad's voice. "Are you still awake?"

They both froze. Kiyoomi pressed a finger to his lips. Atsumu nodded. They both waited until they heard the sound of retreating footsteps. 

"I think," Atsumu announced, "that's my cue to leave." He gathered his clothes and started putting them on. "How am I supposed to get out without the guards wondering why I'm still here at 11 in the fuckin' evening?" 

"We're supposed to be dating anyway, right? Just go out the normal way and ask them not to tell anyone else, especially my dad, that you came over.  They love being in on things. Careful not to run into anyone on your way out, though." 

"Right. Thanks." He reached over to give Kiyoomi a kiss. "See ya soon," he said. An evil glint flashed through his eyes, and he reached a hand to stroke Kiyoomi's bulge. "Sorry for the interruption," he cooed. "I'll take care ya next time." 

"Fuck off, Miya." 

 

 

Subject: hey there

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy]

Time: 14:36

Did I ever tell you that my mom made me join her team? For her campaign, I mean. I expected her to assign me to something exciting, like the publicity team or something. Instead I'm stuck behind a desk. It's frustrating, to be honest, because I feel like I can do more, you know? Even now I'm bored out of my mind. My superior even refuses to let me work because my mom is their boss. Jesus. 

I miss you. Are you coming here for Kou's fundraising event? He told me he'll bring his boyfriend along. If you're attending, let me know, yeah? I want to see your pretty face. 

Sincerely, 
Atsumu, A Very Sexy Piece of Ass

 

 

Subject: Re: hey there

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 15:54

Unfortunately, I won't be going to Inarizaki for the fundraiser. I'm going with my mom to Shiratorizawa. Send my regards to Kou, though. I haven't seen him in a while. The man has been busy. 

I want to see you too. I miss you, obviously, but I can't seem to get the chance to come visit. I will, I promise, as soon as I can. But for now, we'll have to make do with sporadic emails, late night texts and the occasional FaceTime calls. 

As for your situation right now, let me tell you about the story of Hippomenes and Atalanta. 

Atalanta was a very beautiful and fierce princess. Princes from all around the world wanted to marry her, but the Oracle had told her that her marriage would bring her doom, so she declared that the only suitor who could beat her in a footrace can take her hand in marriage. If any man challenged her and lost, they would be executed. 

One day a young man, Hippomenes, fell in love with her as he watched one of her races. He prayed to the goddess of love, Aphrodite, to help him win her over. The goddess was moved by his pleas and gave him three golden apples. 

"If she gets too close," she said, "drop an apple. She won't be able to resist it." 

Hippomenes challenged Atalanta and did as Aphrodite instructed him. As predicted, Atalanta couldn't help but stop to pick up the apples Hippomenes had dropped during the race. He won, and they got married. 

(Of course, in the end, they got turned into lions as punishment for having sex in one of the goddess Cybele's temples, but that's not the point.)

The point is, Hippomenes found his way around a seemingly impossible challenge. If he, a regular man, can beat the fastest woman in the world at a footrace, you can find a way to do more for your mother's presidential campaign than sit behind a desk. 

Sincerely, 
Kiyoomi, An Even Sexier Piece of Ass

 

 

Subject: Re: hey there

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 18:12

So you want me to cheat and force a girl into marriage then have sex with her in a temple so we can receive the punishment of being turned into lions? 

 

 

Subject: Re: hey there

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 18:34

Fuck you, Miya. I swear to God, if you cheat and force a girl into marriage then have sex with her in a temple so you can receive the punishment of being turned into lions, I will personally end your sweet little ass. 

 

 

Subject: Re: hey there

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy] 

Time: 18:12

Not funny. Didn't laugh. My ass is anything BUT little. You should know that. 

 

 

Subject:  business in Dateko

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 00:04

Hey. I know it's late, but I just got home from work. (Can you believe that little pep talk of yours last month actually worked and now I'm working alongside my mom? Good work, Mr. Demigod.) I'll be heading to Dateko next week for a meeting with some of the local government officials who are on my mom's side. I'll be staying there for three days. 

Dateko's pretty close to Itachiyama, right? 

Missing your meat sword, 
Atsumu, First Son of Giving Head

 

 

Subject: Re: business in Dateko

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 01:06

Dear Atsumu Miya, Effervescent Pain in my Ass, 

I'll be there. It's been too long. 

 

 

Subject: Re: business in Dateko

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 01:10

Oh, I'll be the pain in your ass, alright. See ya, Omi. 

 

 

Subject: dear god someone help me

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 14:45

Hey, Omi! You ever think of running away? I think I'm accidentally going to kill my brother within the next thirty minutes. It will be an accident, of course. But the police will probably say that it was a cold and calculated murder, as I have had a whole life to plan it. I'm reaching out to ask you if you want to come with me, because after I do the deed, I'm going to hop off the radar and disappear forever. 

Best Regards, 
Atsumu, First Son of Long and Painful Suffering at the Hands of My Own Twin

 

 

Subject : Re: dear god someone help me

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 14:50

No, Atsumu. I will not run away with you. And no, you will not “accidentally” kill your brother. What did he even do anyway? 

Here are some helpful links to aid you in this trying time:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-calm-down
  2. https://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Your-Brother-from-Annoying-You
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-venn-diagram-life/202004/sweetie-please-don-t-kill-your-brother
  4. https://kipkis.com/Get_Your_Siblings_to_Shut_Up

Concerned, 
Kiyoomi

 

 

Subject: Re: dear god someone help me

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 15:01

We are currently watching a movie and he just. will. not. shut. up. I have been spoiled more than enough times already, and he always says them SECONDS before the plot twist. I hate him. I hate him. I have better things to do than this. Like focusing on my mom's campaign. 

 

 

Subject: Re: dear god someone help me

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 15:03

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-exit-a-room-like-a-man/

 

 

"Jackson!" Kiyoomi called, and Atsumu watched his screen as the other man attempted to coax his dog into approaching him. "Come here!" 

"I don't think he wants to see yer face, Omi," Atsumu teased. 

"No, I think you're the problem, Miya," Kiyoomi fired back. 

"I doubt it."

Atsumu rested his feet on the garden table. "Look at my babies instead." He turned his camera around so Kiyoomi could see his plants. 

"They're pretty but not particularly interesting," Kiyoomi commented. "Compared to pet dogs, that is." 

"Excuse me?" Atsumu scoffed, partly offended. He stood and approached a shrub of pink flowers. "See these," he said. "These are rhododendrons. Not sure of the specific name of these particular ones, but rhododendrons are interesting because they can be used for both pharmacology and toxicology. How cool is that?" 

"I admit, that is pretty cool, but I still prefer dogs," Kiyoomi said.

"Fine," Atsumu relented. "Agree to disagree."

A distant voice called Kiyoomi's name. The Prince turned at the sound, his face losing all hints of happiness. He nodded solemnly at the speaker, before turning back to Kiyoomi. 

"Sorry," he said. "That was my dad." 

"Is there anythin' wrong?" Atsumu asked, concerned. 

"Nothing," Kiyoomi said. "I'm fine." 

"Y'know ya can tell me things, yeah?" Atsumu said. "No pressure, though. Just wanted ya to remember." 

Kiyoomi inhaled deeply, biting his lower lip. "You know how my dad keeps pressuring me to be perfect, yes?" When Atsumu nodded, he continued, "My brother, Wakatoshi, he's married and happy now and all that, but he used to be the rebel type who only followed himself and bowed to no one, not even my father, and he hated that. Wakatoshi's changed, of course. But my father was never one to let the past go. 

"Older sons always get the throne, but my father took his immediate inheritance from him and declared that when he retires, he will have to choose between me and my brother. Now he's biased towards me, as I've never spoken out of line, and always pressures me to keep up my perfect image, so when he'll choose me to be king, there will be no protests from the people.

"And it's all so exhausting. I mean, I love being a prince. Because of my title, I get to help people and be their guiding light to a better life. But all these pressures and expectations are so tiring and draining, that I don't even get to enjoy my acts of altruism anymore. 

"It's just…" He waved a hand hopelessly. He sighed. "Sometimes I just don't think it's worth it anymore." Then his voice dropped to a low rumble, "Sometimes I want to leave." 

"As in run away?" Atsumu asked. He thought of his little secret, the beach house his grandfather had given him before he passed. He wondered about life with him and Kiyoomi alone, living the rest of their days in that home, away from prying eyes and lifelong burdens. 

Kiyoomi nodded. "But I never go through with it, though. And that's a good thing, I think. Because if I had run away the night before Wakatoshi's wedding like I had planned, we never would have crashed into the cakestand." 

Atsumu grinned. "Are you getting sappy on me, Omi? How cute." 

"Shut up," Kiyoomi grumbled. 

 

 

Subject: you up?

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy]

Time: 03:15

Hi. I’m probably gonna regret this in the morning. Well, technically, it’s already morning, but I digress. So. I’ll probably regret this, or at least be mildly embarrassed, but such things do not matter to me in my current state. An after effect of all the wine I consumed, perhaps, is the fact that I am feeling particularly melancholic. And brave. I don’t know if this will scare you off, and shall it come to that, I would like to inform you beforehand that while there is some truth to the words that I will say, it is highly likely that they are hyperbolic and exaggerated for poetic effect, and also: the person writing this is intoxicated, and therefore you should probably just disregard this.

However, if you do in fact read this, I want you to know that I miss you very much. I want to see you. I want to touch you. It’s been a week since we last saw each other, I believe. And longer since we’ve been asked to play the role of two significant others in a secret relationship. A year? More? My inebriated state cannot recall. I long to feel your embrace, your warm skin pressed close  to mine. There is a sweetness in the way you thrust inside me, and such is a sensation of pleasure that I want to be subjected to once more. I long for the feel of your lips touching every inch of my body, the rapid motions of your fingers wrapped around me. Your hips are an altar, and I am a devotee, back arched in what some might mistake as a prayer.

There is something beautiful about the way the light catches your teeth when you grin, and sometimes I think that there are stars in your mouth, with the way that they glow. I want to run my fingers through your sun-laced hair and kiss you senseless until we lose touch with the rest of the world.

There’s this corner of your chest that I particularly like. This specific square of skin where you’re most sensitive. It’s somewhere close to your heart, and when I touch it with my mouth I can feel it pulsating under my lips. It’s the part of your sternum I've kissed so many times, I can find it with my eyes closed. I’ve memorized every single inch of your body, I might as well make a map of it. 

Here’s a secret: when I close my eyes to dream, I see you looking down at me, hair sticking to your face like stray strokes of paint. I can feel whispers of your fingertips against my skin, caressing every part of me so I reach heightened pleasure. I can hear your voice panting beside my ear, chanting my name like a prayer. A holy mantra I can sing to the stars as you keep me awake at night.

I get the nomenclature of you now: a shrine for insatiable hunger. A sacrarium for a desire that cannot be fulfilled. A temple for a thirst that cannot be quenched. 

Quantum physics states that no matter how close two objects are, there will always be space between the two of them, a quantum distance that cannot be surpassed, and that the sensation of touching something doesn’t really mean that you’re touching it.  Maybe that is why I feel as if you could still be closer to me, even when your body is directly on mine.

Humans are all made up of empty space, so why do I feel as if there is an entire planet with living, working societies inside me when I’m with you? I wonder, whenever you explore my depths, if you can find the grassy fields that now occupy the once barren wasteland, the salty waters that become nectar when touched, marked along the shore with pebbles and sand.

These are the things that bloomed inside me the moment I knew of your touch, the delicate murmurs from your being to mine. 

You are a beast, Atsumu Miya. And I can’t get enough of you.

Sincerely and with a touch of wine,
Kiyoomi Sakusa, the Cartographer of the Beast with Sun-laced hair

 

 

Subject: Re: you up?

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 06:57

Oh, wow. Good morning to me, then. I honestly don’t know how to respond to all that without sounding inadequate. Personally, I don’t think anything I'll say in reply can top that. But I’ll have you know, to relax your nerves, that the sudden 3 A.M. proclamation of your sentiments towards me did not scare me off at all. In fact, I’m quite touched. I can’t reply with anything of that calibre, so let me just tell you this: when you look at me, you remind me of a sunflower that has finally found the sun. Take what you want from that. Just thought you should know. Also, have you ever considered being a writer?

P.S. If I’m the shrine, and you’re the saint, doesn’t that mean we’re meant for each other?

Subject: Re: you up?

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 9:34

I have, actually. Unfortunately, my family isn’t very fond of the idea. Says being a writer hurts my chances of being a king. Why? I don’t know. They still say things I don’t think I will ever understand.

A sunflower that has finally found the sun… I like the sound of that. Will you help this sunflower find his sun, then? Will I get to see you when I come to Inarizaki for a business meeting in August? I’ll be staying there for a week.

All my heart,
Kiyoomi, Prince of Sexual Desires Disguised as Poetic Letters

 

P.S. Even without the well-suited nomenclature, it’s an undeniable fact that you fit perfectly in me.

 

 

Subject: Re: you up?

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 9:40

I’ll be there, Your Royal Highness. I can’t wait to see you. 

 

 

"Hey," Kiyoomi breathed into the phone when Atsumu picked up. "Did I wake you?" 

"No," Atsumu said. "It's almost August, isn't it? I can finally see ya again." 

"It's not for another two weeks, but yes," Kiyoomi said. He fixed his phone so it stood without being held. "Are you outside?" 

"Yes." The moon was bright in Inarizaki, and the grass on his back was cool to the touch. He raised his phone above him, so Kiyoomi was looking directly down at him. "Are ya drinkin'?" 

"Wine," Kiyoomi said, raising his glass. "It's been over a year since the agreement. I'm a little worried that Meian or my father will have it called off already. Then I wouldn't have an excuse to see you." 

"The world would still expect us to be friends, right?" Atsumu said. "I'm sure it'll be fine even if they call it off." 

Kiyoomi only hummed. He took a sip of his wine. It was supposed to be around seven in the morning in Itachiyama, but his room was dim. "When Elections are over, are you planning to run in the next one?" 

"Maybe," Atsumu said. 

"Eager to make a change, are you?" Kiyoomi said. 

"Everyone's too ignorant and blinded by the 'resilience of the poor' to actually go and help them." Atsumu shrugged. 

"'The "world," after all, was still a place of bottomless horror. It was by no means a place of childlike simplicity where everything could be settled by a single then-and-there decision,'" Kiyoomi quoted. 

"Dazai Osamu?" 

"You recognize it?" Kiyoomi asked, visibly surprised. 

"Yeah," Atsumu said. "I read it. It's your favorite book, right?" 

They shared a smile then, and Atsumu could almost feel Kiyoomi’s presence beside him, as if there were no cell phone screens and 5, 780 miles of distance that kept them apart. 

"'I could believe in hell, but it was impossible for me to believe in the existence of heaven.'" Kiyoomi said. "Perhaps Oba Yozo wasn't looking in the right direction, because I see heaven right in front of me, in all his seven levels."

 

 

No subject

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 20:24

Sorry to trouble you with this, especially when August is almost upon us, but it sickens me how we have to hide this relationship from the public, especially from our family. People have speculated about us being intimately involved, of course, but what they saw was all an act. 

Now it's real and raw and so very forbidden. It pains me how I can't express my feelings for you behind closed walls, because our relationship was only supposed to be for public eyes. My father won't be too forgiving if he finds out that the fake relationship he consented became, well, not fake. 

I just wish they didn't let history burden them this much, you know? My people see yours as dirty and traitorous. They hide their contempt and hatred behind fake smiles and a half-hearted peace treaty designed only to ease the rest of the world. 

It baffles me how they're so fixated on the remnants of the past that they become blinded to the changes of the now. Why would they let a measly thing that happened before define who they are and what they fight for today? 

Traditions are supposed to be upheld in respect for our ancestors, but if said traditions are harmful for the youth of today, shouldn't one let go of the promises long gone? Our forebears' blood runs our nation, but overtime that blood becomes the acid in which we drown, should we keep swimming in it. 

I wish we didn't have to be prisoners of history, victims of ghosts that have long since passed the threshold of life, so that I may be able to hold your hand, and the world wouldn't even bat an eye. 

Maybe one day we can be the turning point of this cold war long overdue. Maybe one day we can break free from the bonds with which they shackled us, and show them that we are more than our past. 

This backstair fervor of ours has me bleeding on thin ice, but it's a risk I'll take if it means I get to call you mine. 

All my love, 
Kiyoomi Sakusa

 

 

Re: No Subject

To: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy]

Time: 20:34

Us against the world, huh? I like that. Makes me feel all badass and heroic. But I think it would still be loads better if it was simply 'us'. 

A world where we can be together, and it's not so much of a big deal — that's the dream. Just hope it ain't all that it is. 

“The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,

You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be your sole and exclusive standard,

Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,

The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives around you would have to be abandon’d,” 

—Walt Whitman, 1885

 

 

Re: No Subject

From: Kiyoomi [kiyoomisakusa@email.com.itcy

Time: 20:39

“I loathe the twin seas

Of being and not being

And long for the mountain

Of bliss untouched by

The changing tides.”

—The Manyoshu, 795 C.E.

 

 

It took everything in Atsumu not to run up and jump in Kiyoomi’s arms. He had to remind himself that they were in public, and that violently traditional Inarins probably would not appreciate it if he publicly confirmed the suspicions of them being romantically involved.

He settled for shaking Kiyoomi’s hand and patting his back once, before sitting on the seat Kita had reserved for them. (He had heard of Kiyoomi’s visit and immediately arranged a casual public appearance for the two of them the minute Kiyoomi left the business meeting.) Atsumu was acutely aware of the cameras and eyes that were on them, and he wiped his hands on his pants to get rid of the sweat that accumulated on his hands.

“How have ya been, Omi?” he asked. “It’s been a while since we last hung out like this, yeah?”

“Definitely.” Kiyoomi’s movements were careful and calculated. He kept his voice level and polite, but Atsumu could see through the facade. He knew every cautious blink and every deliberate breath of air were all a ruse to hide Kiyoomi’s utter excitement for finally being able to see Atsumu in person again, albeit in a controlled area. “Life’s been treating me well, as usual.”

“I heard Kou and Keiji-kun are comin’ over tonight as well? I’m glad I’m finally going to meet the great Akaashi Keiji,” Atsumu said. 

“Yes,” Kiyoomi agreed. “And Kou invited your brother and Rintarou to come with us, yes? I’ll have to admit, I was kind of nervous when Kou told me he wanted to go partying with you guys. That isn’t really my scene.”

Atsumu laughed. “I know,” he said. “I bet you’ll have a blast, though. Kou said he wanted to go to karaoke instead of nightclubs, so it’ll be just as fun, but not too much for ya to handle.”

Kiyoomi raised an eyebrow. “Well,” he said, “can’t say he doesn’t deserve credit for that.”

“You can come with me to the First House, if you want,” Atsumu offered. “Hang out with me, Osamu, and Sunarin, before we meet Kou and Keiji-kun.”

Atsumu knew that Kiyoomi can tell what Atsumu’s intentions truly were, and he had to hide a smirk behind his hand.

“Alright,” Kiyoomi said.

 

 

“If this is what you meant every time you told someone you wanted to hang out,” Kiyoomi whimpered as Atsumu viciously sucked on his skin, unbuttoning the Prince’s shirt, “then I grimace at the thought of how many people you asked to hang out with.”

“It’s just you, Omi,” Atsumu whispered. He pushed Kiyoomi against his bedroom wall, pressing his leg against Kiyoomi’s crotch. His hands traveled along the sides of Kiyoomi’s body as he hungrily devoured whatever there was to taste in Kiyoomi’s mouth. “It’s just you.”

Soon, all of Kiyoomi’s clothes were on the floor. There was something undeniably sexy about how Atsumu, fully clothed, stood before a completely naked Kiyoomi with a smirk on his face. 

“I’ll make ya feel good, Omi,” Atsumu promised.

Atsumu did make Kiyoomi feel good, and they went for a couple more rounds, finally finishing at around five in the afternoon, before hitting the shower. (Atsumu had suggested that they shower together, but Kiyoomi argued that they would probably just fuck in the bathroom. Atsumu couldn’t protest.)

“Do ya wanna see my garden?” Atsumu said as he put on a fresh change of clothes. “Osamu and Sunarin are probably there. They like to hang out with my babies when I’m away.”

“By ‘hanging out’ do you mean ‘have sex’ or…?” Kiyoomi joked as he put on a new surgical mask he'd procured from the medicine cabinet of Atsumu's bathroom.

“What the hell, Omi!” He shuddered. “Great. Now you’ve ingrained the thought of my brother and my best friend fuckin’ in my head. Awesome.”

“Sorry,” Kiyoomi said, but he didn’t really sound apologetic. 

As Atsumu predicted, Rintarou and Osamu were indeed in his garden. Rintarou was typing away at his laptop, and Osamu was reading a culinary magazine. 

"Hey," Atsumu greeted as he pulled out one of the chairs around the garden table and took a seat. 

"Took you long enough," Rintarou said with an accusatory glance, looking up from his laptop as Kiyoomi took the seat next to Atsumu. 

"Ah," Atsumu said, "there was a bit of a hold up." 

"I bet," Rintarou said meaningfully, and Osamu laughed with him. 

At this point, Atsumu knew that Osamu had already correctly guessed the status of his and Kiyoomi's relationship. They were twins; Osamu was familiar with the signs. Rintarou could have also told him, but Atsumu doubted it. If anything, Osamu was probably the one who insinuated to Rintarou that he already knew. 

"They just landed," Kiyoomi said, looking up from his phone, "Kou and Keiji, I mean. They'll be joining us shortly." 

"Great!" Rintarou said, cracking his knuckles. "I can't wait to impress you all with my incredible singing skills!" 

Osamu snorted. "Someone should ban ya from touchin' the mic. Are ya aware that excessive bleeding can result to death? If ya sing yer heart out and make our ears bleed we might literally die." 

"Fuck you, Osamu." 

"Yeah, Samu, yer not one to talk. Yer horrible at singin' too!" Atsumu goaded. "Unlike me." He pointed a proud thumb at himself, puffing his chest to look taller in his seat. 

Kiyoomi sneered behind his mask. 

"Look, Kiyoomi's laughin' at ya!" Osamu pointed. "Shut yer trap, Tsumu, yer embarrassing!" 

Atsumu scoffed, offended. "When I serenade y'all to sleep, y'all won't be laughin', then. Just wait." 

"I doubt that," Kiyoomi said. 

"Omi, yer supposed to be on my side!" Atsumu whined. 

Kiyoomi pretended to think for a few moments, then shook his head. "No." 

When Koutarou and Keiji finally arrived half an hour later, they greeted them at the front doors in a hired limousine. "Hey hey hey!" Koutarou called with a whoop, beckoning them inside the vehicle. He wore a loud bomber jacket, ripped jeans, and a beaming smile. Keiji paired his modern half rim glasses with a blue button down, a pair of jeans and a coat. 

"This is 'Kaashi," Koutarou said, gesturing to the pretty bespectacled man beside him, who raised a hand and smiled in greeting. 

"Hey, Keiji-san!" Rintarou greeted. 

"Rintarou-kun, are you doing well?" Keiji asked with a smile. 

"Never better." 

"Hey, Tsum-tsum, wanna hear what Kiyoomi told. me the other day?" Koutarou asked excitedly, but didn't wait for an answer. Beside Atsumu, Kiyoomi groaned. "So we were headed to a Welsh town called—” He proceeded to butcher the town's name. “—and I said, 'how did you manage to make Tsum-tsum so smitten?' and then he said, 'I don't know I just insult him, and it seems to work,' and I was about to laugh, but he kept going and said—” 

“Alright. That's enough,” Kiyoomi interrupted. 

“No, I wanna hear it,” Atsumu insisted. “What is it?” 

“No,” Kiyoomi said. “Kou, that's enough.” 

“I think he doesn't want me to say that you like it when he puts his dick in your mouth,” Koutarou supplied helpfully. 

Awkward silence probably would have been less embarrassing, but neither Rintarou nor Osamu wanted to spare Atsumu the humiliation, so they both laughed hysterically.

“Yes, I do like it when Omi puts his schlong inside my trap,” Atsumu said thoughtfully. Kiyoomi would have slapped his forehead if he wasn't sensitive about germs. “Hey, Omi, can ya tell me the name of the Welsh town ya went to with Kou-chan?" 

Kiyoomi sighed, shutting his eyes, but grateful for the change of topic nonetheless. He pulled down his mask. “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.”

“That’s hot. Say it again.”

“Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.”

“Again.” 

“I will not.” 

They ended up in a small, shitty karaoke bar near the deeper parts of the city that Rintarou somehow knew about. It looked like it was ripped straight out of the American 1950's, with the dim interior illuminated only by neon lights, funky retro booths and stools, and of course the old jukebox in one corner. In the far end of the room was a huge karaoke system. 

Of course, Meian and Aran had their security check the building before their arrival and warned people against taking photos, but it still felt fun and very young adult-ish. 

“What's in this?” Kiyoomi asked when the waitress placed a tray of drinks on their table. 

“Just drink it,” Atsumu said. “Yer handler had the place checked, I'm sure it's all clean. Yer fine.”

Kiyoomi peered into his glass with squinted eyes, then shrugged and pulled down his mask to down it all in one go. 

“There you go!” Everyone whooped, even Keiji, and followed Kiyoomi's lead. 

The place was a little on the dark side, but the neon lights perfectly highlighted Kiyoomi's cheekbones which were now exposed as Kiyoomi had removed his mask. The neon lights danced on his skin, bathing him in red and blue. Even in the casual party clothes Atsumu had lent him, he still looked rich and untouchable. 

“You're too tense!” Atsumu yelled at him over the music and chatter of the bar. Across him, Osamu called for another round of drinks

“Come on, let's sing!” He grabbed Kiyoomi by the shoulder and pulled him over to the karaoke machine. 

Atsumu chose Journey's Don't Stop Believin', handing one microphone to Kiyoomi and grabbing one for himself. “ Just a small-town girl livin' in a lonely world. She took the midnight train goin' anywhere… ” 

As Atsumu approached the pre-chorus, the bar crowd sang with him, clapping and dancing. “ A singer in a smoky room. The smell of wine and cheap perfume.

It was kind of an odd sight, but one to behold: a millionaire philanthropist and his magazine editor boyfriend, a supermodel, the Prince of fucking Itachiyama, and the two sons of the Inarin president all in one booth, drinking and singing in a shitty, retro, relatively unknown karaoke bar. 

Kiyoomi was a bit hesitant, but one pleading look from Atsumu was all it took to make him relent. “ For a smile they can share the night. It goes on and on and on and on. ”  His voice was rich and deep and rough and hesitant, but he was smiling and visibly starting to relax. 

Soon, he was dancing along to the music with Atsumu, shaking his body as he sang. 

Strangers waiting up and down the boulevard, their shadows searching in the night…”

They come back to the booth after their number, all sweaty and happy. A third round of drinks had been brought to their table, and Kiyoomi reached for a shot and downed it as he squeezed into the booth. 

“That all you got?” Rintarou stretched and cracked his knuckles. He got up and entered Single Ladies into the machine, turning back to wink at the group when the music started playing. “ All the single ladies, all the single ladies.” 

Laughing, Osamu got up too and started to dance the way Beyonce did in her music video. Atsumu, not one to be outshined by his twin, followed suit. Together, they moved their hips to Rintarou's singing and the background music. 

Some people from the onlooking crowd joined them, and they all formed a cluster behind Rintarou who had also joined the dance as best as he could with a wired mic in one hand. It was kind of incredible: strangers brought together on the dancefloor by an iconic song well-executed by one of the most highly paid fashion models of their generation. 

Rintarou finished the song with a flair, bowing dramatically at an excitedly clapping and thoroughly impressed audience. “What did I tell you?” he said when he got back to the booth, spreading his hands patronizingly. 

The Miya twins looked at each other. 

“Oh, no,” Rintarou grumbled. “They're doing the twin telepathy thing again.” 

Osamu went to enter ARASHI's Turning Up and handed Atsumu a mic. “ You know what’s coming. You caught the feelin g.”

Tozasareta doa hiraku kagi wa here ,” Atsumu sang next, winking at the crowd. 

Chikazukukikoete kuru zenshin o toriko ni saseru harmonies .” Osamu pressed two fingers on the corner of his eyebrow and saluted to the audience at the last word. 

Kiyoomo watched in surprise as the two performed what seemed to be a well-rehearsed song and dance number. The twins moved in perfect sync, it was almost scary. 

“They had that performance perfected last New Year's,” Rintarou explained. “Their mom made them perform it for us.” 

“That is a very hard number to top,” Keiji commented. “They're pretty competitive, Kou. Think you can take them?” 

Koutarou proudly puffed his chest at the mention of his name. “Of course, 'Ji, ” he said. “I'm a monster in karaoke.” 

“Is there anything Atsumu can't do?” Kiyoomi grumbled as he looked at the twins dancing. He downed another shot. “Seems kind of unfair, isn't it? He needs to be nerfed.”

Rintarou laughed. 

“No, seriously,” Kiyoomi complained. The alcohol in his system made him particularly brave. “The man can sing and dance. And give ridiculously good blowjobs. How is that possible?” 

Koutarou giggled. “Someone's drunk already.” 

“Hey, Omi, come ʼere!” Atsumu called, not wanting to let go of the mic as Osamu went back to the booth. “Let's give them hell, baby!” 

Kiyoomi was drunk enough that Atsumu could practically convince him to do anything, so he slid off his seat and joined Atsumu. 

“Hey! It's my turn!” Koutarou yelled, but he made no move to stop them. 

Tonight, I'm gonna have myself a real good time…” 

Kiyoomi sang into Atsumu's mic, even though he had his own. “ I feel alive. And the world, I'll turn it inside out. And floating around, in ecstasy.” 

By the climax of the song, not one person in the bar was glued to their seats. Kiyoomi went fully wild, screaming at the top of his lungs, intensely playing air guitar while knee-sliding on the floor. “ I wanna make a supersonic woman of you!” he shouted into the mic Atsumu held for him as he violently strummed the air. “ Don't stop me, don't stop me, don't stop me!” 

“Hey, hey, hey!” The entire bar yelled, led by Koutarou, who was standing on the table and waving his bomber jacket around. 

Don't stop me, don't stop me!” 

“Ooh, ooh, ooh!” Atsumu sang. 

When the guitar solo came on, it was as if they were transported to a different world where there was nothing but music and dancing and booze. 

Kiyoomi bobbed his head up and down, and Atsumu lost himself in the moment, dancing to his heart's content. He pulled Kiyoomi to him, pressed a hand on his back, and dipped him low. 

Osamu and Rintarou procured bottles of champagne from shelves behind the unmanned bar and sprayed the two of them with it. 

Atsumu let go of Kiyoomi, laughing, when Koutarou and Keiji joined them at the front. 

I'm burning through the sky, yeah!” Kiyoomi yelled loudly and drunkenly  into the mic, putting an arm around Koutarou. “ Two hundred degrees, that's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit!” 

I'm traveling at the speed of light!” Koutarou continued. 

“I wanna make a supersonic man out of you!” the four of them sang together. 

Kiyoomi's face was flushed and sweaty. He looked like a hot mess, but there was genuine happiness in his face, amidst the sex appeal of his wild, drunken state, and Atsumu didn't need anything more. 

When was the last time Kiyoomi had fun like this? Atsumu briefly wondered, before Rintarou pulled him into the crowd. 

Yes, I'm havin' a good time!”  Kiyoomi screamed into the mic. His eyes met Atsumu's, flicking downward in one sexy movement, and winked. He then shut his eyes and bellowed at the top of his lungs, “ I don't want to stop at all!” 


 

 Atsumu didn't remember much from the drive to the hotel Koutarou had booked them in. He vaguely remembered hoisting Kiyoomi in his arms and guiding him back to the limo. There were some flashes of a drive-thru stop and loud screaming from Koutarou and Rintarou who were fighting for a seat on Keiji's lap. 

Kiyoomi had sobered up a bit when they pulled up the main entrance of the hotel, but Atsumu helped him walk into the lobby anyway. Koutarou had booked them an entire floor for privacy, so they hauled themselves into the elevator and pressed their floor's number. 

Atsumu, who could handle his alcohol better, had found Kiyoomi a spare face mask in the first-aid kit of the limo and adjusted it on his face, so the Prince looked like a sick person with his feverish face and tipsy steps. 

Atsumu felt a tug in his sleeve, and he looked up at Kiyoomi, who bent down and pressed a kiss on his lips, mask and all. His eyes widened, surprised at the sudden show of affection, and he found that he couldn't bring himself to care if they were in public. “Yer the affectionate drunk, huh?” he said, chuckling as Kiyoomi interlaced their fingers. 

They exited the elevator, and Kiyoomi, not wanting to let go of his hand, followed Atsumu into his room. 

“Let's get ya cleaned up,” Atsumu said. “Can ya take a bath yerself?” 

Kiyoomi shook his head, then flopped to the side. “Wash me, Tsumu,” he mumbled. 

Atsumu laughed softly. “Alright.”

He prepared a warm bath for the Prince, then guided Kiyoomi into the bathroom when the water was at the perfect temperature, stripping him out of his party clothes. “You were quite an animal out there,” Atsumu said as he helped Kiyoomi get in the tub. 

“I had fun,” he said, melting into the warmth of the water. “Do you want to join me here?” 

Atsumu paused, then shrugged. He took off his clothes and slipped into the bath, sighing contentedly when the hot water embraced his bare skin. Then, stretching, he reached over to grab the shampoo on the nearby glass shelf. “Come closer.” He beckoned Kiyoomi with his hand. He started to lather the shampoo on Kiyoomi's hair, making sure not to leave out a single strand. 

Kiyoomi hugged his knees to his chest, keeping his eyes trained on Atsumu as the latter worked on his hair. 

Atsumu drank in every inch of Kiyoomi, marveling at his beauty. He'd seen the man naked plenty of times, but he could never get enough. Kiyoomi was beautiful in a cosmic sense. His name was sickeningly appropriate for an ethereal man such as he. 

Holy saint. Atsumu would be lying if he said he wouldn't kiss the ground Kiyoomi walked on. (Though Kiyoomi would probably chew him off and lecture him about how disgusting and unsanitary that would be.)

He reached over and gave the bath soap bottle two pumps, then took Kiyoomi's arm and started scrubbing his skin, making sure to clean every millimeter of his flesh. 

“I love you,” Kiyoomi said over the silence and the sloshing of water. His hair clung to the sides of his face, and his eyes were droopy. He took Atsumu's hand and blew off the soap suds, before bringing it to his lips and kissing the knuckles, not breaking eye contact. 

“Omi…” Atsumu was probably beet red right now, but he didn’t really mind. 

“Let me wash you,” Kiyoomi said, squeezing shampoo onto Atsumu's head. His fingers were soft but rough around the edges, possibly from polo practice and working out. He traced the side of Atsumu's face with his hand. 

“I love ya too, Omi,” Atsumu whispered, sinking into Kiyoomi's wide palm, kissing it gently. 

Kiyoomi scrubbed soap on his skin, from his arms to his chest to his legs. He left soft touches on the faded scars Atsumu had gotten when he was still a country lad, going on small adventures with his twin brother. 

“We can rinse now,” he said. 

That night, Atsumu laid Kiyoomi on the bed gently, slowly undoing the knots of his bathrobe. He pressed his lips on Kiyoomi's, moving slowly, taking in everything Kiyoomi could offer. He rubbed his hands up and down Kiyoomi's body, massaging his thighs. 

There was silence then, as if the world had just gone quiet around them. And maybe it did, Kiyoomi couldn't really tell. All his hazy mind could register was the feel of Atsumu's warm tongue quietly trailing down his neck to his solar plexus. 

“I love ya,” Atsumu said. “I'm in love with ya.”

He traced Kiyoomi's Adonis belt with his mouth, caressing his hips with one hand. 

Kiyoomi slowly threw his head back, as Atsumu took his entire length in his mouth, kissing the head and rubbing it with one hand. A sweet sigh escaped the Prince's lips, before Atsumu silenced him with his mouth. 

There was an ache in his gut that filled him with longing, an insatiable desire to pull the prince closer to him. He grabbed the bottle of lube on the nightstand that he'd taken from the bathroom vanity, and his fingers set to work as their lips clashed, making Kiyoomi whimper under him. 

Passion was a powerful thing, and the room was brimming with it, pulsating in the air and making the room heat up. 

If pleasure was a painted image, it would probably be this: Atsumu whispering sweet nothings in Kiyoomi's ear as he nibbles at his lobe between his teeth; Kiyoomi moaning 'I love you' at every one of Atsumu's slow thrusts; Atsumu making Kiyoomi feel good on both ends, his free hand holding Kiyoomi's front with just the right that's almost feather light but still applied pressure to Kiyoomi's erect length. 

“I love you,” Kiyoomi managed to breathe out as he blinked back tears of pleasure. 

When morning came, Atsumu kissed him awake, already dressed. “Good mornin', love,” he said. “The others are waiting downstairs. We can wash up and eat at the First House.”

The ride back home was quiet, as everyone was purely spent from the night before. There was some small talk, but even Koutarou was too tired to interact with anyone, opting instead to snuggle in Keiji's arms. 

Everyone retired to their respective rooms, Keiji and Koutarou in one guest room, and Kiyoomi in another. Atsumu squeezed his hand before they departed. 

He was about to head to his own room when Kita called him into his mom's office. “You'll see,” he said when Atsumu asked why. 

When he got into the office, Saeko had her head in her hands. She glanced up when Atsumu and Kita entered. “Sit,” she said, gesturing to the chair by her desk. Kita sat across him. 

“Have ya checked yer social media this morning?” Kita asked carefully. 

“No,” Atsumu said with a shake of his head. “Why? What's goin' on?” 

Kita pushed a tablet towards Atsumu, and his heart dropped six feet under the ground. There, on the screen, was a picture of Kiyoomi kissing Atsumu in the elevator. Kita swiped at the screen, and the image was replaced with one of Kiyoomi’s emails to Atsumu. 

“What…?” Atsumu could only say. 

“We dunno how yet, but yer emails got leaked. One of the security operators from the hotel leaked the elevator footage. We had them fired already,” Kita explained. “The King has already found out about this. He is currently on his way here, having taken a private jet two hours ago.”

“I…”

Saeko reached for Atsumu's hand over the desk. “Like I said before the whole fake relationship thing,” she said. “I'm okay with it. This whole fiasco will most likely damage my campaign, but it's okay.” She squeezed his hand. “I'm your mother before I'm this country's president.”

“I'm sorry,” Atsumu sputtered. He couldn't bring himself to cry, though. He was still in shock. “I'm sorry for ruining your campaign—” 

“Don't be,” she said with a gentle smile. “You're happy with him, aren't you? Never be sorry for that.” She let go of his hand. “How do you want to handle this?” 

“Does he know?” Atsumu asked. 

She shook her head. “Not yet. Do you want to tell him yourself?” 

“Can I do it later?” Atsumu asked. “Maybe a little while before his father arrives? I just… Last night was probably the first time he ever let himself free like that, and I don't want to ruin it.” 

“Okay,” Saeko said with an understanding nod. She released a heavy exhale. “You may go.” 

Atsumu walked to the guest room Kiyoomi was staying in a daze. He felt like the Kudzu plant in a foreign continent, thriving but didn't quite belong, instead bringing harm to the other surrounding plants, suffocating them until they wither and die. He opened the door without a knock and peeked inside. 

Kiyoomi was sleeping soundly on the bed, curled under the covers. Atsumu pulled a chair and sat beside the bed, watching the rise and fall of Kiyoomi’s body. He stroked the Prince's hair. 

If the King came here only to take Kiyoomi back — what then? According to Kiyoomi's accounts, King Tsukasa was unlikely to accept Inarin as his son's significant other, and immense pressure from the traditional elders of Itachiyama wasn't one to ignore. 

Atsumu wondered what would happen to him. How would he feel? He imagined it would be like having his carefully nurtured garden burn to the ground, only much more painful. He thought of a world where he and Kiyoomi were on different sides of the globe once more, existing but not together, as if they never screamed erotic 'I love you's in the darkness of a shared bedroom. The thought of knowing Kiyoomi was out there but forbidden to the touch was unbearable, and his chest hurt at the mere thought. 

Before he knew it, tears started to prickle at the corner of his eyes. 

One might say that a display of hurt is screaming at the sky until your throat is sore, with the rain and thunder drumming to your heartbeat, but sometimes it can be quiet crying with a hand clamped tightly to your mouth to avoid waking your sleeping boyfriend.

Sometimes it's shutting your eyes tight to try and squeeze out the tears and drown the heavy feeling at the pit of your stomach. 

If they take Kiyoomi away from him — what then? 

Kiyoomi stirred in his sleep, and Atsumu freezed, hitching his breath so Kiyoomi wouldn't wake up. 

“Are you crying?” came Kiyoomi's groggy voice. 

“Sorry,” Atsumu said, sniffling. “Did I wake ya, Omi?” 

“Why are you crying?” Kiyoomi's eyes were bright with concern as he held Atsumu's hands. His hair was messy from sleep, and Atsumu would have found it cute if not for the nagging reminder in the back of his head that he would probably never get to see it again. “What's wrong?”

Atsumu explained everything Kita told him, gripping Kiyoomi's hand tightly. “I don't wanna lose ya, Omi,” he said. “They can't take ya away.” 

Kiyoomi swallowed. It was clear that there was a conflict brewing inside him. He had grown up obedient, going along with everything his father told him to do. He had never stepped a toe out of the line, and he never thought he’d ever have the courage to. He was the good son, marching at his father’s command, not unlike a puppet on a string. Doing whatever his father tells him to was a muscle memory engrained deep in his bones through a lifetime of repetition. It was a frightening instinct, one that he didn't think he’d ever be able to let go of. But the thought of having to let Atsumu go was much too painful to bear. 

“My father…” he said.

“D’ya wanna run away?” Atsumu said. “There’s this beach house my grandfather left for me in Seijoh. I checked out the area once, and it’s like a secret paradise there. Secluded. Away from everyone else.”

“Calm down,” Kiyoomi said gently. “Is my father coming?”

“Yeah.”

“We’ll talk to him,” Kiyoomi promised. “I’m scared, but I won’t let him control me anymore. Not this time.”

It was a futile promise, one last fruitless attempt at reassurance, for when the King arrived at the First House, he immediately demanded for Kiyoomi, not even sparing a glance at the other guests in the presidential residence and grabbed his son by the shoulder. “I would like to apologize for the intrusion,” he said, “but I will be bringing my son back home now. Please continue as you were.”

Saeko opened her mouth to protest, but Kiyoomi shook his head, letting his father haul him out of the First House. She turned to her Atsumu, but he had already left for his bedroom.

 

 

haruka @everythingbutsink

So everything was a lie, just to prevent a war. But then the two couldn’t get their dicks under control and ruined everything. Lol, I hope King Tsukasa fixes his kid.

 

 

cherry @yaddayadda

poor kiyoomi and atsumu. i hope tsukasa doesn’t give them too much of a hard time. i read their emails and cried so hard

 

 

leo @nobrainers

Replying to @yaddayadda

i know right??? I feel so bad for them

 

 

k @starkvisionary

“I wish we didn't have to be prisoners of history.” if u listen closely u can hear me crying 

 

howl @plushyholland

Replying to @starkvisionary

k omg their emailssss imsosdafdsdddaskljfhf

k @starkvisionary

Replying to @plushyholland

HOWL OMGSJGHJFD I CANT DO THIS ANYMORE PLS THEY DONT DESERVE THIS

 

 

benjie @bananasnbenjamas

Prince Kiyoomi fucked up big time. It’s so unlike him. Those emails were so disgusting and animalistic. That Atsumu kid is a bad influence on him. King Tsukasa better fix his kid. This is so embarrassing.



val @msbyworld

“You are a beast, Atsumu Miya. And I can’t get enough of you.” “This backstair fervor of ours has me bleeding on thin ice, but it's a risk I'll take if it means I get to call you mine.” imthisclsoe to acting up icant do this anymore i cant i cant “Us against the world, huh? I like that.” GOODBYE



mina @peripherals

WHY IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT HOW EVERYTHING WAS FAKE?? WHY IS NOBODY ANGRY?? THE ROYALS ARE SO FULL OF SHIT 

Subject: checking in

From: Shinsuke Kita [kitashinsuke@gmail.com]

Time: 19:59

It’s me. Kita told me to use his email in case mine gets leaked again.

Sorry it took me so long to get a hold of you. My father was extremely strict about not letting me contact you again.

My father brought me to a hotel, where the rest of my family is staying for the meantime. The past few days’ weather has been too extreme for traveling. Apparently, we’ll be heading home tomorrow, as the rains seemed to have calmed. I expected my father to lecture me until the sun comes down the other day, but he only told me that they’d think of a lie to cover up this scandal, and that this shouldn't happen again.  His exact words were,“If I find you anywhere near him again, I’ll take away your rights to the throne.”

Wakatoshi seems neutral. He told me he thinks I should obey what my dad says, as that was my duty as prince. But he also told me that I was human first, and that I must do whatever I think is best for me.

My mother was sympathetic though, so that’s a good thing. She told me she would try to talk to my dad, and that she was glad that I finally found someone who could make me happy.

I’m scared, Atsumu. All my life, all I ever knew was how to be a prince. And now I’m doing what I want to as human. But like I told you, I won’t let them take me from you. I’ll be damned if I let them pressure me into cowardice again. I know what I want now, Atsumu, thanks to you. And I’m not letting you go anytime soon.

I love you.
Kiyoomi.

 

Subject: Re: checking in

From: Shinsuke Kita [kitashinsuke@gmail.com]

Time: 20:09

“and you are a lily, an aster, white trillium

or viburnum, by all rights mine, white star   

in the meadow sky, the snow still arriving

from its earthwards journeys, here where there is   

no snow (I dreamed the snow was you,

when there was snow), you are my right,

have come to be my night (your body takes on   

the dimensions of sleep, the shape of sleep   

becomes you): and you fall from the sky

with several flowers, words spill from your mouth

in waves, your lips taste like the sea, salt-sweet (trees   

and seas have flown away, I call it

loving you): home is nowhere, therefore you,   

a kind of dwell and welcome, song after all,   

and free of any eden we can name.”

— Reginald Shepherd, 2007

 



Subject: Re: checking in

To: Shinsuke Kita [kitashinsuke@gmail.com]

Time: 20:14

“I loved you first: but afterwards your love

Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song

As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.

Which owes the other most? my love was long,

And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;

I loved and guessed at you, you construed me

And loved me for what might or might not be –

Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.

For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’

With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,

For one is both and both are one in love:

Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’

Both have the strength and both the length thereof,

Both of us, of the love which makes us one.”

—Christina Rossetti

 

 

American agave plants die after blooming. They do not perish completely, though, as they are fated to survive and be reborn. A circle: live, die, repeat. It was a sad fatalistic cycle, and much like the way life works: after climbing to the top, you must always fall back down. Atsumu and Kiyoomi had spent way too much time at the top of the world, and the universe, upon seeing their growing comfort in their own little bubble, decided that they, too, must fall.

Of course, with that logic, it meant they would be able to find a way to plow through this and emerge in full bloom, but that didn’t make the loneliness and fear subside.

He thought about something Kiyoomi had said once, about how humans are all made up of empty space. He didn’t know much about quantum physics, but he definitely felt it now: the hollowness in his chest that was amplified a hundredfold and the looming uncertainty of his and Kiyoomi’s future.

There was a knock on his door, and it didn’t take Atsumu much to guess that Osamu, Rintarou, Koutarou, and Keiji were behind it. (The latter two decided to stay for a few more days to help keep Atsumu company.) Atsumu didn’t respond, but they entered anyway.

“Hi,” Koutarou said.

Osamu was looking at him with furrowed eyebrows. “Do ya want some onigiri?” he asked.

Atsumu shook his head. “No, I'm good,” he said. “Should I go to him? He told me he’s still in Inarizaki with his family. He unlocked his phone and showed them the email. “I feel like I gotta be there for him.”

“If you’re going, I’m going too,” Koutarou said. “I’ve been his friend long enough to know how much he needs this surge of freedom that you let him taste, so I’m rooting for you, and I also want to be there for him.”

“When did he say they were heading home?” Keiji asked.

“Tomorrow.”

“Then there’s still time for you to get to him, right?” Rintarou said.

 

Prince Kiyoomi: ‘I wish we didn't have to be prisoners of history’

 

TUESDAY — Last Friday, private emails shared between the alleged couple Atsumu Miya, First Son of Inarizaki, and Kiyoomi Sakusa, Youngest Prince of Itachiyama, came to light after it was leaked into the popular social media site V.L. by an anonymous user. It garnered 12 million hits overnight, and would supposedly still be rising, had it not been taken down at 6:32 this morning.

Both men had made the front pages last year after the fiasco at Prince Wakatoshi’s wedding reception, where they crashed into the cake stand, thus putting the one million yen cake to waste. Since then, they had been open to the public about the friendship they’d apparently been secretive about. The people, however, believed that what they really were hiding was a secret romantic relationship, as it was still considered taboo for many for an Inarin to be involved with an Itaji. 

The recent divulgences revealed that the whole friendship matter was, in fact, a hoax crafted in order to prevent a war, one that was extremely likely as both countries are still very wary of each other. However, as the emails have shown, Atsumu and Kiyoomi are revealed to have developed feelings for each other despite King Tsukasa’s disapproval.

“There is something beautiful about the way the light catches your teeth when you grin, and sometimes I think that there are stars in your mouth, with the way that they glow,” Kiyoomi writes to Atsumu.

The emails also contain explicit imagery regarding Atsumu and Kiyoomi’s sexual experiences. “There is a sweetness in the way you thrust inside me, and such is a sensation of pleasure that I want to be subjected to once more,” Kiyoomi says. “Your hips are an altar, and I am a devotee, back arched in what some might mistake as a prayer.”

The Conservatives have expressed their disgust and dismay at what they felt was a betrayal from their prince, saying that they “hope King Tsukasa fixes his kid,” and “[Prince Kiyoomi] is an embarrassment.”

“I’ve always known those two were up to no good,” Taketora Yamamoto, Saeko Miya’s rival for the presidential seat in this year’s election, claims. “I feel sorry for their mother; her campaign must have taken the most damage.”

The Liberals — mainly made up of the younger generation — are open about their support towards the two star-crossed lovers, claiming that “it’s about time,” and “they [Kiyoomi and Atsumu] deserve to be happy.”

“If I’m the shrine, and you’re the saint, doesn’t that mean we’re meant for each other?” Atsumu writes.

By 4:00 in the afternoon last Friday, people had fully swarmed the gates of the First House. The crowd was divided into two: the protesters and the supporters. All held signs that had written statements about their stances. “We do not frolic with Itajis,” says one. “We don’t have to be prisoners of history,” says another.

It’s been approximately four days since the leaking of the emails, but both the Palace and the First House have yet to release a statement. How they would handle this scandal is yet to be foreseen.




Atsumu knew better than to check his social media accounts. He knew what he would see, anyway: lies, slurs, accusations. It was the inevitable consequence of all who rise to fame. People always have something to say, whether it was good or bad, so ultimately, it was better if he simply avoided seeing them altogether.

Besides, he had other things to worry about. As the First Son of arguably the most controversial politician, he was used to being in the limelight, having nearly everything about him out in the open. Hell, people wrote fanfiction about him fucking celebrities he’d never even spoken to.

But those emails… They were supposed to be private. His one last escape to paradise. It was supposed to be a sacred thing between him and Kiyoomi, something only they had the right to see.

Now it was all out in the open: the sensual nights spent together, Kiyoomi’s nightmare of a childhood, their late night musings and intimate exchanges. There was nothing to hide now, nothing to keep to himself.

“Did they ever find out who leaked the emails?” he found himself asking nobody in particular.

“No,” Rintarou said. “They’re still working on it, but so far, nothing. The hacker’s like a ghost.”

The rest of the ride was silent, and it was only until they pulled up to the hotel entrance that Atsumu started to feel nervous. I’m here , he texted Kiyoomi.

I’ll meet you there, was Kiyoomi’s reply.

Koutarou put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, and he looked back to see Kou and Keiji smiling at him.

The thought of displaying affection so publicly, in a lobby full of whispering patrons, felt odd to him, so Atsumu had to keep reminding himself that he had nothing to hide anymore, that he’s been completely exposed and vulnerable. That he was quite literally an open book now. Perhaps even with transparent covers. But when the elevator on the far end of the room opened to reveal a disheveled Kiyoomi, none of his concerns mattered anymore.

He let loose a noise that was half laughter, half sob, forcing himself not to break into a run as he walked over to Kiyoomi.

“Hey,” Kiyoomi said weakly, pulling Atsumu into a tight hug. He had just released Atsumu when Koutarou tackled him into an embrace.

“Bro!” Koutarou cried.

“There, there,” Kiyoomi said, patting his best friend’s back.

“Omi—” Atsumu began, but Kiyoomi raised a hand to silence him.

“Save it,” he said. “Don’t you dare. If you’re gonna apologize, just shut up. I don’t regret anything, and neither should you.”

Atsumu felt as if a ton of weight had been lifted off his chest. His lungs started breathing freely, and the thoracic vertebrae that had turned and stabbed his chest a while back was now back to normal. “Fuck,” he said as he pulled Kiyoomi into a kiss. “I missed yer smart ass.”

They followed Kiyoomi into the elevator. “My mom and I have been trying to talk to my father, but he just wouldn’t listen,” he reported to them. “If there’s one thing he is, it’s being as stubborn as a mule.”

“Well, at least we know where ya got that from, Omi,” Atsumu said with his signature shit-eating grin.

“Ha ha,” Kiyoomi said. They got out when the elevator dinged, and Kiyoomi guided them through the maze of hallways and doors. “He won’t be too pleased about all of you visiting, so I apologize beforehand for his behavior.”

As if on cue, King Tsukasa strode out of one of the rooms and immediately locked eyes with Kiyoomi. Then his gaze dropped to the people surrounding him. He glared at Atsumu. “What is this lot doing here, Kiyoomi?” he demanded. “I thought I told you not to contact any of them. Especially him.”

“Listen,” Kiyoomi began, raising his voice. “Sorry,” he muttered after catching himself. He took a deep breath before continuing, “I’ve been trying to talk to you these past few days, but you always blew me off. You wouldn’t even listen to mom. But… no more, okay. You have to listen to me. I’m not just some puppy you can command to do your bidding. I’m your son. I have a voice of my own, too.”

Tsukasa blinked. “You’ve been very obedient and well-behaved before that Inarin came here and disrupted your peace. I know you’re not in the right mind right now—”

“Father!” he exclaimed.

Tsukasa raised his hand. “Clear your head, son. It’s a long ride back home. And as for them…” His gaze turned icy as he looked at the rest of the crowd. “They are free to leave.” 

They could only stare disbelievingly at his retreating figure as he walked away.

“What did I tell you?” Kiyoomi said. “Stubborn.”

“Let me talk to ‘im,” Atsumu said. “I can be very annoying.”

“I know,” both Kiyoomi and Osamu said at the same time.

Atsumu scoffed. “Omi!” he said. “Ya were supposed to correct me and say ‘persuading’.”

Kiyoomi only squinted his eyes at the shorter man. 

“We’ll get him to listen,” Keiji said with a soft smile. 

“How?” Kiyoomi said. “We’ve been trying for days, and now we have only less than a day before he goes back to the Palace and releases some bullshit fucking statement about how everything was a misunderstanding and that his son isn’t really a hopeless piece of shit who would even think about touching dirty Inarin blood.”

“Well, you didn’t have me then,” Atsumu said.

“And? What difference will you make? He wouldn’t even look at you without glaring,” Kiyoomi said.

“That may be true,” Atsumu rescinded, “but as I said, I can be annoyingly persuasive.”

“Kiyoomi?” A woman with black hair and kind eyes walked over to them from the other elevator. “Did you say something to your father? He seems to be in a foul mood.”

“Mom,” Kiyoomi said. Atsumu could see that he was nervous, the confidence in his eyes wavering. He cleared his throat and put a hand on Atsumu's shoulder. “This is Atsumu,” he said. “My boyfriend.”

Atsumu didn’t know whether to go for a handshake or a hug, but Miwa decided for him instead, pulling Atsumu in for an embrace. “I’ve heard a lot about you,” she said, beaming. “Thank you for making my son happy.”

Thank you for giving birth to your son, Atsumu wanted to say, but he figured the Queen wouldn’t appreciate it, so he settled instead for a warm smile. “It goes both ways,” he said.

Miwa turned to Kiyoomi. “We’ll be having dinner in his room tonight,” she said. “We’ll have to try and convince him for the last time then. Atsumu can join us if he wishes.” She gave her son two pats on the back. “Hang in there.” Then, she turned to the rest of the group. “Would you all like something to eat or drink? We can have that arranged.”

Keiji smiled politely. “We’re alright, your highness.”

“How are y’all planning to convince Kiyoomi’s dad?” Osamu asked. Concern was a written story on his face: furrowed eyebrows, pursed lips. Atsumu would have teased him relentlessly if he wasn’t full of worry too. 

“Well,” Miwa began, gesturing to one of the doors on the right. “Follow me.” She led them to a meeting room, and they all took their seats around a table that reminded Atsumu of the Knights of the Round Table. “That man cannot be moved by emotion,” she said. “Ever since he and Satori got divorced, he kept his heart locked up in his chest instead of his sleeve.”

“What about you?” Rintarou asked. Then, catching himself, he said, “If it’s alright with you, Your Highness.”

Miwa waved a hand. “Oh, dear. Tsukasa and I… our wedding was merely one for political intents.”

At that statement, Atsumu turned to Kiyoomi, confused. Why don’t I know this? he thought.

Kiyoomi shrugged sheepishly. I didn’t think it was important, he seemed to say.

“So,” Miwa continued, “if emotions don’t work on him, let’s make him listen through political strategy.”

Atsumu had always thought that Miwa Sakusa was a soft-spoken, timid woman who went along with everything Tsukasa said. That was how the media always portrayed her: the good wife behind the strong king. But, as Atsumu watched her talk strategy with a vicious glint in her eyes, Atsumu wondered about the layers the Royal Family hid from the public.

“Yer mom’s badass,” Atsumu whispered to Kiyoomi.


 

MSBY News @MSBYNEWS

Live Thread: 7 PM. Updates on crowd of protesters and supporters outside swarming Adlers Hotel.

Follow this thread by our digital producer and field reporter @FurudateHaruichi to be notified.

 

 

After various footage of Prince Kiyoomi and First Son Atsumu Miya reuniting in the lobby of Adlers Hotel were uploaded and released to the public by the hotel patrons, both protesters and supporters alike have swarmed the hotel within approximately two hours.

#MSBYUPDATE: A fight has broken out between the two sides after a protester swung and landed a hit at a teenage Liberal. Authorities are expected to arrive in a few minutes to break out the riot.

#MSBYUPDATE: A fire truck arrives and starts hosing the crowd down, soaking them in water. Taking advantage of the confusion, a large portion of Liberals moves up front to make themselves more visible. One of them even begins leading a chant with a megaphone. “Free Kiyoomi,” they say.

#MSBYUPDATE: Security has been tightened at the front gates.

#MSBYUPDATE: Curtains from one of the windows of the 21st floor have been opened to reveal Prince Kiyoomi, FSOI Atsumu, Prince Wakatoshi, Queen Miwa, and King Tsukasa in one room. They seem to be arguing. Prince Kiyoomi gestures at the crowd of supporters at the front gates and closes the curtains.

#MSBYUPDATE: Another fight breaks out as some Conservatives who have been pushed to the back attempt to get to the front of the crowd.

#MSBYUPDATE: Police cars have arrived and the crowd quickly disperses. Some protesters and supporters have been arrested.

More comprehensive details and reports will be released in the MSBY News website. [End of thread.]

 

 

King Tsukasa strode into dinner sporting a black three-piece suit and gritted teeth. His hair was combed to one side, much like Atsumu’s. He was beautiful and brooding, like the mad Titan Kronos — ethereal, but untouchable. There was an ancientness in the way he carried himself, like a war general who’d seen too much. His eyes caught the light for a fraction of a moment, and Atsumu thought he saw a certain sadness in them.

Atsumu wondered what it was like to lose someone you loved, then be forced into marriage for the sake of politics. It probably didn’t help that he had to face Wakatoshi everyday either. Not that it was the eldest prince’s fault, but Wakatoshi was basically Tsukasa’s constant reminder of the love he lost, one he thought he’d get the chance to see through until his final days.

He sat at the head of the table, narrowing his eyes at Atsumu. “What are you doing here?” he asked. “I thought this was supposed to be a family dinner.” The room temperature dropped several degrees at the question, and before anyone could answer him, he raised a hand. “Ah,” he said. “I see what this is about. You’re going to try and talk me out of trying to save this family’s name and drag it out of the mud.”

“Father—” Kiyoomi began.

“We’ve talked about this, son,” he said, getting out of his seat to walk over to Kiyoomi and put a hand on his shoulder. “This is for your own good.”

Atsumu could see how the King managed to keep Kiyoomi in a leash all these years. He didn’t raise his voice, but he emitted some kind of aura that made you fear him and what he could possibly inflict on you. He was king, after all. He was law.

“Tsukasa—” Miwa attempted, but Tsukasa cut her off.

“Don’t start, dear,” he warned, a sickly sweet edge to his voice.

Miwa rolled her eyes with a scoff.

“Sir,” Atsumu tried. “Yer son has something he wants to say. If ya would just listen—”

“Atsumu Miya,” Tsukasa said, and Atsumu felt his blood cells freeze and turn to ice. “First Son of Inarizaki. I suppose you think that, since we are your home turf, you’re of higher power than me, yes? Alas, I am still king, and you are someone’s son. And I don’t ever recall asking you to speak.”

“Father, please, ” Kiyoomi said, slamming a fist on the table. He was standing now, and even though his expression was stony, Atsumu knew that he was seething. “Just fucking listen!”

“Kiyoomi,” Tsukasa chided, affronted. “When did you learn to speak such filthy words?”

“Father,” Wakatoshi finally spoke. “I believe it’s for the best if you take a moment to listen to what they have to say.’

“Wakatoshi,” Tsukasa said in disbelief. “You can't possibly be on their side.” He sighed. “My mind is already made up. I’m doing this to keep the peace in our nation. If I allow this, they will simply riot, and we will lose their trust. I will not let this empire my bloodline has worked so hard to preserve for centuries to crumble to dust just because my youngest son wants to shove a dick in his mouth.”

Kiyoomi let loose a half-hysterical laugh. “Sorry,” he said, chuckling. “I just find it funny how this empire you’re so proud of has looted, colonized, pillaged, raped, and destroyed, but that’s fine, right? It’s all good, but the moment your son wants to be happy with a guy from the country that didn’t do anything but take in a wayward son who ran away from the prison of home a hundred years ago, everyone throws a fit?”

“The people don’t want a member of the Royal Family to be involved with the First Son of a dirty country,” Tsukasa insisted.

Says who? ” Kiyoomi stressed. If he could pull his hair out in frustration, Atsumu guessed he probably would. “The hags who would probably die of old age in a couple of years? They’re the ones making you their bitch?”

Atsumu had to stifle his laugh.

Miwa, however, couldn’t keep the smile off her face.

Kiyoomi walked over to the windows and pulled the curtains open. “Look at them,” he gestured to the crowd outside. From where Atsumu sat, he could see a swarm of people surrounding the hotel. They were holding up signs: ‘Free Kiyoomi,’ ‘We don’t have to be prisoners of history,’ ‘Let go,’ ‘Let them love.’ One of them was even atop a small platform, yelling into a megaphone. They were drenched, but their faces were determined and passionate. “Are these the faces of people who want to hear more of your lies?” He closed the curtain.

“They aren’t our people,” Tsukasa said.

“Exactly,” Atsumu spoke. “They ain’t yer people, but they’re fighting for us, for yer son. Do ya still not see the gravity of this situation? The whole world’s looking at ya, Yer Highness. It’s not just yer country that you have to please.”

“They’re right, Tsukasa, and you know it,” Miwa said. “This is the age of change. Minorities are fighting for their rights. People are trying to end useless prejudices. You know it would do you good if you showed them that you can let go of your anger. You know that. If you continue to listen to the grudges of the dead, who will you stand for now? Your deceased ancestors or your living, breathing son?”

There was a beat. Another. Another. 

The Magnolia tree in Atsumu’s chest had multiplied tenfold, pumping so loudly, he feared everyone else would hear. He held Kiyoomi’s hand like an anchor would to sand. The warmth was comforting and kind, unlike the King’s intense gaze that would have brought Atsumu to his knees, if he wasn’t holding Kiyoomi’s hand.

“There really is no stopping you?” Tsukasa’s voice came out small, which surprised everyone in the room. He looked vulnerable and sorry. He was a wilting plant in a garden of fully-grown flowers.

“No,” Kiyoomi said firmly. “If you still don’t approve, I can abdicate anyway. Didn’t you threaten to take away my right to the throne?”

“No,” Tsukasa said. “That will not be necessary.”

“Father?” 

“Well,” Tsukasa said, a small smile on his face. “You leave me no choice, do you?”

 

The night was young, and the garden in Atsumu's thorax was thriving — alstroemerias shooting out of the gaps between bones of his rib cage, purple asters in full bloom. His heart was the earth from which the flowers sprung forth. His skin tingled under Kiyoomi's touch, a buzzing feeling that made him all warm and fuzzy inside. He'd never felt this way before: pure, unadulterated bliss. He didn't think of anything else, and he was happy.

“I love ya,” Atsumu whispered as they walked along the hallways of the Adlers Hotel. “Fuck. I love ya, I love ya, I love ya. I fuckin’ love ya, Omi.”

“I know,” Kiyoomi said, pulling Atsumu in for a kiss. They climbed the emergency staircase, hand in hand, basking in the freedom they never thought they’d be able to have. They pushed open the door at the end of the staircase and exited out onto the rooftop. Despite being all the way up, they could still hear the chants of the people below, loud and demanding to be heard. 

Atsumu supposed they’ve had enough, too. Enough of the prejudice and lies and of having to hide. Humans can only tolerate so much, after all. 

“We’d probably have to release a statement tomorrow,” Kiyoomi said. His eyes were glassy when he looked at Atsumu, and the cold of the evening breeze stung his cheeks red. He pulled Atsumu  gently to the metal railings at the edge of the rooftop. “You hear that?” he yelled over the traffic and the chanting and the wind. “They sing for us!”

They’d been prisoners of history, as Kiyoomi had put it, and now they were free. 

“Did I ever tell ya about the beach house my grandfather left for me in Seijoh?” he asked.

“Yes,” Kiyoomi said. “What about it?”

“Will ya go with me there someday? Open the door,” he said, “with me.”

There was only him, Kiyoomi and the howling of the wind on that rooftop. The distant cheering and the sounds of traffic became static noise in the back of his mind. He supposed, if plants were sentient beings, that this was what an American agave plant must think, when its seeds take hold of the earth to begin its cycle of life once more: I can breathe again.

Kiyoomi leaned down, one hand pressed against the small of Atsumu’s back. “I will,” he said, and his lips found Atsumu’s, as a sunflower would the sun.