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“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Oikawa says at the fata morgana that appears in Rio de Janeiro. 

It shouldn’t surprise him the way it does, he knows the illusions are part of the deal now. 

(Oikawa has spent enough time abroad to learn how his mind likes playing tricks, how it’ll make him jump to conclusions at the slightest resemblance to anyone from home.) He knows this and yet— here he stands, double-taking, because this one somehow seems real . Realer than the other ones anyway.


Above him the orange sun burns bright, but Hinata burns brighter just a couple of steps away. 




Akin to Christ the Redeemer, Hinata receives him with open arms. Takes hold of him and doesn’t let go. 

One hand firmly wrapped around his wrist, he drags Oikawa out of his thoughts and down to the beach— with the sand burning at the soles of his feet and the weight of a ball against his fingertips, he has no time to wonder how any of this could be real. 


Instead, Oikawa learns anew. He studies the parts of Hinata that changed, takes note of all the ones that stayed the same. His hair has grown lighter, from hours spent in the sun. His shoulders are broader too. Hinata seems to thrive on Brazil’s fertile ground, if the brightness of his smile is anything to go by. (Oikawa finds himself smiling too, genuinely, the first time in a long while and he quietly thanks whatever god brought Hinata his way.)



Only over dinner does Hinata let on about his struggles, fork lifted halfway to his mouth, immediately dismissing it afterwards. And Oikawa realizes that maybe he doesn’t just shine because of the Brazilian soil in which he’s planted himself, but because he saw a familiar face that didn’t turn out to be an illusion.


An improbable encounter in an improbable city. Maybe it was meant for the two of them then: both travellers, who left the same home behind.



“You could come back to my place, you know. I have some tea from home that my sister sent,” Hinata says, accidentally brushing his knee against Oikawa’s under the table, “We could share a cup, if you want to.”


It’s not just about the tea, Oikawa knows. Despite what many people like to make him believe, he isn’t stupid. But if Hinata offers company alongside a piece of their home, who is he to refuse? They are both sailors sitting in the same boat after all.


“Only if you brew me the good stuff. Argentina’s given me a taste for mate now, so you better make it worth my while.”


“I’ll be sure to put in some effort then,” Hinata replies. Under the table he lingers, their knees are touching still.




Beyond the speed limit, they spend a night ride in a cab that’s unlit on the inside. The world passes by in flashing lights.

Then they both sit shoulder to shoulder— since the restaurant both needed at least one point of contact—, their backs leaned against the wall of Hinata’s bedroom. There’s no noise, but the heartbeat of Rio de Janeiro’s streets outside and the heartbeat, caged in Oikawa’s chest, right there on Hinata’s apartment floor.


Although it’s hot as it is, Oikawa appreciates the warmth spreading from the steaming cup in his hands. The sight of it is a familiar shade of green. Hinata’s delivered as promised.


He enjoys it, really. It means something— to quietly sip tea, to share a rare reminder of what he left behind, in the comfort of another wayfarer’s company. It’s just—


“It doesn’t taste the same, does it?“, Hinata sighs, two hands firmly clasping the rim of his cup. He offers a smile, unlike any of the ones Oikawa has seen from him before. And right there he can see the sadness, the loneliness , that sits deep in the sockets of Hinata’s eyes, coming alive in the quiet that lives away from the crowd. It doesn’t quite manage to take from his light, and yet—


“No, it doesn’t,“ Oikawa shakes his head. 


“I’ve tried, you know. Different ways of making it. But whatever I do, it never ends up the way it does at home.”




“I think it’s the water…it tastes different here.” 


”I know,” Oikawa says, because he does know. Argentinian water is no different.


He mirrors Hinata’s smile, finally letting the feeling resonate with his own. Like calling to like. Yes. That’s what has drawn them together against all odds, at the other side of the world.


It’s not that Oikawa is actively lonely. Between practice and learning the ways of life in a whole other country, he’s kept busy enough not to be. But sometimes, in the quiet of his room late at night, he finds himself missing certain things. Nothing drastic either, just details. Like the sound of the evening news, quietly playing in the background as his father prepares dinner. Or the jingle of a train announcing its arrival at the station. Or—


“My mum sends me laundry detergent,” Oikawa hears himself say out loud. “I ask her to. Each month.”


It’s a detail he was gladly going to keep to himself. Never did he mean to admit it to anyone else. But here, with Hinata laying himself bare in the quiet of the night, who was he not to offer a piece of himself in return?


Oikawa closes his eyes and rests his head against the wall. Then he continues, “When I first came to Argentina, I couldn’t sleep. First thought it was ‘cause everything’s new and exciting— and maybe it was. But then I noticed that my bed sheets smelled wrong, foreign somehow. I guess I couldn’t stop noticing afterwards, so… yeah.”


He reopens eyes just as Hinata puts down the cup by his side. His motion, still mindful, still careful, in handling this piece of home. When he turns back around to face Oikawa some of the sadness seems to have vanished from his eyes. In its place there is… Oikawa doesn’t know. Either way, Hinata burns a bit brighter.


He leans in as he says “Sometimes, just after I wake up, I still think I’m in my room in Japan. Half expect Natsu to come barging in the room and tell me I’m late,” then, after a moment he asks, “Can I kiss you, Oikawa-san?”


The question doesn’t come as a surprise at this point. He figured as much from the second Hinata touched him at the cafe. Still, he can’t help but feel something stir at the confidence in his tone. Just how much have you changed in this country ?, Oikawa wonders.


“Tooru,” he says, setting his tea aside as well, “I think you should call me Tooru, if only when we're alone.”


“Then you should call me Shouyou as well.”


Eyes lock, for what might be a second or what could be a year (it’s not like either of them takes notice)— and this is it. 


Both have reached into the pockets of their being, retrieved pieces of sadness for each other and laid them out on display, a market with no buyers. Both of them traded names. The only sensible thing left to do was to give what was left of their bodies as well.


“Can I kiss you, Tooru?”, Shouyou asks again. The sincerity of it leaves his mouth dry.


A half whispered Please and Shouyou cups his face with one hand, palm rough from caress of sand and sun. Tooru can feel each ball this hand has spiked, can tell by the hardened skin that presses on his own. Somewhere between the first touch of lips and the remaining air of tea between them, Shouyou settles in the place between Tooru's legs. Not once does he let go of his touch.


He kisses like the rest of him, open-hearted, open-mouthed and Tooru wants to die a little at how right it feels.



The second they break apart Tooru sees him. Sees him clearly, for the first time since the moment he spotted a misty outline at the beach.


Here is Hinata Shouyou, who has buried his homeland beneath the earth, beneath the layers and layers of sand at his feet. Hinata Shouyou, who is smiling at him, like he’s about to offer the world.


There are freckles on the bridge of his nose and skin that peels from it just ever so slightly. The neckline of his shirt, askew, reveals a tan-line that rests as a permanent divider between the old and the new, before it disappears behind cotton. There’s a spot on his arm where skin has been scraped off, some places where scars have already healed over.


Here is Hinata Shouyou, breathtakingly imperfect. Hinata Shoyou, who is definitely real and not an illusion. Maybe Tooru ought to give him the world instead.



He thinks about how he would do it, to offer all he can give, about what it would take to take this man apart.


If pride is Tooru’s vice, then he prides himself in giving people what they need. His skill for reading people has set him apart as a setter— if it makes him a generous lover too, who is he to complain? He's not going to deny his attention to someone who needs it.


How does Shouyou need it , he thinks. Kneeled on all fours with his face pressed to the pillow? Pinned to the bed with a hand in his hair? Or—


“I’d really like to fuck you,” Shouyou breathes against his neck, quietly taking charge as he takes hold of Tooru’s shirt. 


Oh. Oh . So this is how he does it then. Asks “Would that be okay for you?” and “Will you let me do it?”, innocently, with a voice that somehow lacks all innocence. His thumb traces the outline of his mouth and Tooru moans despite himself.


And then he lets the rope pull tight, like every setter who’s ever been met by one of Shouyou’s requests, be it Will you set to me next time? or Will you let me do that?, he falls victim to the rawness that lies behind the question asked.


“Yes,” he nods. How could he not.


Then Shouyou smiles the second smile that’s new today, at its root something dark and promising. “I promise to take good care of you,” he says and Tooru knows that he will .


This version of him is new. It’s Brazil singing in his veins— the flirt, the confidence. His heart beats the steady rhythm of a samba.


“Just what have you learned since you’ve come here, Shouyou,” Tooru asks, with his voice halfway caught between arousal and amusement.


Shouyou shrugs. 


“That doing what’s best for you is hard sometimes. But if you make a habit of trying, you find it gets easier.“


It wasn’t what he asked, both of them know it. But there’s something in Shouyou’s eyes when he says it, like this is a final truth that’s meant to be shared, a secret meant to be kept, that makes Tooru appreciate his answer nonetheless. 


Here, Shouyou offers himself freely in all ways one could ever imagine and Tooru’s about to offer all he has in return. Somewhere between this final revelation and the heat of Shouyou’s touch lies the message Tooru’s meant to take away that evening, he knows. 


Then all seriousness leaves Shouyou’s face, replaced by a grin that will count towards three on his list of unexplored expressions today. ( Cocky , Tooru thinks, that’s what it is.)


“Unless you meant sexually, Tooru. Cause then I’ve learnt plenty.“ 


He swallows hard. Yeah , he can see that. Doesn’t take much imagination to picture all the things he’s been getting up to.


He briefly wonders if this is what Shouyou does, if he tries to fill his emptiness with strangers, to fight against the loneliness that settles once you are alone. Tooru puts the thought away. No , this is someone who’s always had enough love to share with the world, who burns bright enough to draw people in like moths to the flame. That he’s popular is only natural.


“Here,” Shouyou says, as he tugs at the shirt in his fist, “come up with me and I’ll help you undress.”


“You don’t have to help me—“


“But I want to . Will you let me? ”, he asks and Tooru sighs, his knees giving way. He’s no psychic, doesn’t need to be, to see that this is how the rest of his night will go. Sees the strings of fate attached to his limbs that have led them to meet in this city and knows Shouyou’s going to use them to command him at his will. Like a puppet, completely at his mercy. 


“I’d let you do anything,” he says. In this moment he means it.


“Good, good.”, Shouyou tells him, pulling both of them up to their feet, then pulling at the hem of his shirt, “Let’s take this off together then.” 


Tooru lets him, just as promised. Lets him take one piece, and then some more. Lets Shouyou peel at his layers, strip them away one by one, with only his hands and his words to keep him in place. Lets him pull at the threads that are loosely wrapped around his joints, until all that remains is the framework of his body and the erection that presses against his briefs. Painfully so.


When Shouyou moves to tug at the waistband Tooru moans in relief. Half gasp, half sob— the sound of it utterly desperate. 


Then Shoyou says, ”Are you hard like that just for me? It looks good, Tooru. It suits you,” and with it he takes another layer, one that Tooru didn't even know he had left. 


Of fucking course Shouyou would turn out to be a tease. Of fucking course, he’d praise like he actually means it— he probably does mean it . The fact alone makes Tooru die a little more. Somewhere deep down he thinks, it’s just what he deserves.


“Maybe I’m just happy to see you?”


A wink. 

A snort— and Shouyou has the audacity to actually laugh at the joke.


“I am too,” he says, losing his own shirt in the process, “Happy to see you, I mean.” The rest of his clothes fall as well.


Tooru points his gaze downwards, wants to keep looking and never tear his eyes away. Yeah, he can see .


“Yeah, I can see.”


Another laugh then and Shouyou steps closer. Buries his face in the crook of Tooru’s shoulder and plants a kiss for good measure. Even though it is nighttime he can feel the warmth of sunlight on his skin where Shouyou lingers with his touches, embraces the feeling of words murmured against his skin.


“When I saw you at the beach today I couldn’t believe you were real.”


“I’m not an illusion, Shoyou,” Tooru lets his fingers brush over the expanse of bare skin in front of him, carefully tracing the tan line on Shouyou’s shoulders. 


Right here, beneath his thumb, lies the border that separates the two versions of Hinata Shouyou; spotted golden, the part of him exposed to the world, that has grown and changed in the Brazilian sun. And the pale that remains unchanged and unseen by anyone who does not look for it. It’s the part that keeps his homeland stored away somewhere close to his heart, the part that drives him further still.


Then he says, “Yeah, couldn’t believe it either.”


There’s no immediate answer, he doesn’t need to hear anything that can’t already be read in the words Shouyou writes against his skin with his lips.


I’m glad we found each other , neatly across his collarbone.


Can you see how real I am, immaculate penmanship against his pulse. 


“Will you come to bed with me?”, a final question by his ear. 


Tooru writes his reply in steady lines. Yes. Please take from me whatever you need.

With the same fateful grip he’d felt on his wrist the same morning, Tooru’s led away. 

He’s led to the bed, where he stands and watches as Shouyou takes out lube and condoms from a drawer. Watches still, as Shouyou unscrews the cap and pours some out on his finger. Watches, as Shouyou slides back, as some lube drips down to the floor, then on the sheets, as Shouyou says—


“Will you watch me all night? Or will you come here instead, so I get to be good to you?” 


The choice is easy enough.


Then he’s sprawled out over Shouyou’s lap with his face towards the mattress and he lets himself be taken apart. Slowly, because Shouyou takes his time, one finger after the other, while he combs through Tooru’s hair with the hand that’s still free. 


Says “Moan so I can hear you, yes?”, like Tooru would have any chance to keep his mouth shut with the way he’s being touched. He whines, he twists— the feel of it too much and yet too little. Still, he does as Shouyou asks him too and doesn’t hold back. He lets himself be heard. 


If he’d have the slightest capacity of thought left in his mind that wasn’t the burn of Shoyou’s touch, he’d think it funny that right now in this moment, where he’s all but pinned down in place, he feels free for the first time in ages.


He breathes and he burns, can feel the blood spreading on his cheeks— the painting of a scarlet sunrise unfolding for only Shoyou to see. Hears “Look at how gorgeous you are” and “The sounds you make, just for me” again and again, until they become a mantra almost, the narrative to his undoing.


He can’t even tell at which moment Shouyou adds a third finger, by then he's already reduced to sobs. If Shouyou’s hand has wandered in between— from his head, to his back, to caress the inside of his thighs— it goes back to where it started. He cups Tooru’s cheek once more. His calloused hand still careful after all this time, the same way he held his teacup before. (Like Tooru was a rare piece of home. To be treasured, to be held.) 


Shouyou lifts his head off the cotton, the imprint of the fabric melting into one with the heat on Tooru’s skin. He knows he looks wrecked , completely undone. He can see it in the widening of Shouyou’s eyes when their gazes meet. 


Surprising mostly himself, it’s Tooru that speaks first- 


“Please,” he pleads, “ Please ” —If whatever sound comes rolling out of his mouth can still be considered speaking.


And just because he’s a little shit (—always has been, always will, Tooru figures later on) Shouyou asks, “Please, what ?”


If it’s meant to provoke, it misses by a landslide. The teasing is pointless by now and Shouyou should know.


“Please, just fuck me,” Tooru twists on top of Shouyou’s thighs. With every turn and every movement he makes, he can feel his skin dragging against skin, “I’m ready, I'm ready. I’m good


“Fuck,” Shouyou breathes, because Yeah , they should do just that.

With the way they are seated, it doesn’t take much to shift positions. Shouyou rolls him off so Tooru’s lying on his back, removes and re-centers his weight to come out on top, the muscles of his arms flexing in the motion. With just a single impulse he has managed to change Tooru’s view from the darkness, that is yellow cotton seen up close to the constellation of sunborn freckles on Shouyou’s skin. Has managed to change his view of the entire fucking world. Has made him fly towards the ceiling, gravity be damned.


“This alright?”, he asks,” I really want to see your face.”


“Yes,” Tooru says, because it is. Yes, because Tooru needs to see him too. All this time he’s spent pressed against the mattress and he’s missed the way that Shouyou blushes and the way his eyes narrow in fascination at the reaction of the body beneath him. Needs to see him, like a plant needs sunlight to grow.


Alone the act of lying there feels close to a revelation, makes him want to find religion in the way Shouyou’s elbow bends. With the single thought Tooru manages to bring himself to have, he wonders if the people that have come to lay on these bed sheets before him have felt the need to send a prayer too, if they left these four walls changed for the better.


The wrapper tears, the condom slips on. Of all the savvy things Shouyou’s done today, this might be the most impressive one. A prayer should be the least he can offer.

“Fuck,” Tooru exhales. It needs to be said for emphasis. “If you don’t get inside me right this second, I swear—”


“Tooru,” Shouyou cuts him off, “You gotta learn how to take it easy. Relax a little.” Shouyou shines down on him, all but winks, like the smug sun that tells you to enjoy its warmth mere seconds before it gives you a sunburn. He does this and yet there is sweat on his brow and a glaze about his eyes that tells a different story about urgency.


“Fuck. Please . Just please , okay?”, he whines, he moans, he all but begs.


“Alright, alright,” Shouyou says and pushes in slowly, carefully, like he’d done with everything else that night. Then, “Touch yourself for me, will you?” It makes Tooru see the light.


“Shouyou,” he breathes. This is the only prayer he’ll say tonight.


In their embrace, Tooru finds a new homeland. Knows that he exists neither here nor there, but only in this moment, only in the space between Shouyou’s sheets and the chest that presses down on him. Sees Shouyou’s face then too and knows that he feels the same.


They are two oceans that share the same water, clashing waves where their forces meet. Every slow thrust takes them closer to breaking. They are two continents, never meant to share the same land.


With every single movement Shoyou slips from praise to curses, goes from Look so good, Tooru, feel so good to Ahhh and Fuck and wordless moaning and Tooru feels blessed that he gets to see this version of him too.


Shouyou’s rhythm changes too. Picks up speed and has Tooru gasping for air when he matches that of his own hand. What happened to taking it easy , he doesn’t ask. Doesn’t even get the change to, because Shouyou says 


“I’m close, Tooru. Gonna come. Will you come for me too ?”  


And this is what does it— tips him over without ever really meaning to. Has him barely bluritng Yes , before the white takes over and his orgasm carries him away. Just because Shouyou asks him to.


Tooru doesn’t even get to see Shouyou’s face when he comes inside of him.


By the end they’re panting, they’re breathless, yet somehow still breathing.

Lie next to each other for a small eternity and watch the white of the ceiling in the haze of their afterglow.


They are two travellers sitting in the same boat, swaying ever so slightly. Behind them, a country that grows small on the horizon. Before them, an ocean unknown.


“Do you wanna give that tea another try?”


“I thought you’d never ask.”