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There is something dreamlike about seeing Sakusa again. 

Hinata had always thought that their reunion would be huge and momentous, like something out of the movies. A confrontation, at the very least—harsh and loud. But no, it’s just this: the two of them standing quietly in their shared room at the Olympic Village, suitcases still unopened, trying not to look each other in the eye. 

Sakusa breaks the silence. “Which bed do you want?” he asks. “The one near the window?” 

“Sure.” Hinata forces himself to smile. “If you don’t mind.”

“I don’t,” Sakusa says. 

He turns away to begin unpacking. Hinata gets the message, loud and clear: we’re not talking about it. It’s a relief, in some ways. Only some. Hinata looks at Sakusa, who is so close to him and yet so far, and he can do nothing about the wave of emotion that washes over him. 

“Omi-san,” he says, unable to help himself.  

The name is bittersweet on Hinata’s tongue, almost foreign in its disuse. Sakusa turns, and their eyes meet for the first time that day. For the first time, Hinata realizes, in more than a year. I missed you, he wants to say. I missed you so, so much

Instead, he says, “It’s good to see you again.” 

Sakusa’s expression is unreadable. But he nods, once. 

 

“Are you doing alright?” Atsumu asks, a little later. “Tough luck, you sharing a room with Omi-kun.”

They are eating lunch together in the cafeteria, some of the last to do so. The rest of the team have largely dispersed, going back to their rooms to chat or out for a walk. A few tables away, Ushijima and Kageyama are playing Jenga. 

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Hinata asks, trying to sound bright and nonchalant.

Atsumu huffs. “Come on, Shouyou-kun,” he says. “You think I don’t know what you guys were? I’m not blind, you know.”

Hinata pokes a piece of broccoli with his chopsticks. Exhales. “I don’t even know what we were,” he says. 

“You were—” Atsumu tilts his head, thinking. “Fond of each other.”

Hinata meets Atsumu’s gaze. It’s funny, now that he thinks about it. When he’d first joined the Jackals, Atsumu had been the first to make a move on him. Hinata had considered the proposition but ultimately declined, and Atsumu had taken it gracefully. Now, he’s a true friend and occasional nuisance, especially when it comes to matters like this. 

“That was a long time ago,” Hinata says, turning away. He doesn’t like other people poking around in this. Doesn’t like talking about it in general. “I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

Atsumu hums. “Well, if you say so.” He finishes his drink, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Anyways, if something does come up, you can request a room change, you know?”

“Oh,” Hinata says. “Okay.” 

Atsumu takes mercy on him. “Hey, Shouyou-kun,” he says, pointing over Hinata’s shoulder and grinning, “check that out.”

Hinata turns to see Kageyama and Ushijima glaring daggers into their wobbly Jenga tower, arms crossed and looking for all the world like a murderous father-son duo. He can’t help but break out into a grin, too. 

“Do you think they’ll kill me if I push it over?” Atsumu whispers. 

Hinata laughs. “Only one way to find out, Atsumu-san.” 

“Well,” Atsumu says, getting to his feet, “here goes nothing.” 

In the ensuing chaos—the clatter of pieces, Kageyama’s yelp of surprise, Atsumu’s wild laughter—Hinata can almost forget everything that weighs heavy on his mind, his heart. Almost. Atsumu’s voice still echoes in his ears, insistent. You were fond of each other. 

It is true, if an understatement. Hinata thinks of Sakusa and the distance between them, greater than the sea, and he cannot help but wonder: what have we become

 

There is a little less than a month before the opening ceremony, and they are expected to train a little, to maintain themselves, but mostly to relax. Hinata does his best—after all, he has dreamt of being here for as long as he has played volleyball. Despite the tension in the air, it is not hard for him to be happy in his homeland, surrounded by friends old and new alike, and knowing the excitement that is to come. 

For all of Atsumu’s concern, the first few days pass without incident. Sakusa is civil. Polite, if distant. On the whole, a good roommate. More often than not, Hinata sees him with Ushijima and Komori, while he himself spends most of his time with Kageyama and Atsumu. They exist only on each other’s periphery, save for the mornings and nights, because they still share the same routines: waking up at six to stretch and shower. Reading and stretching again later before bed. Old habits, dying hard. 

Sakusa’s words to Hinata are formal, impersonal. Morning. Are you done with the bathroom? I’ll wipe down the sink. It’s late; you should sleep. Goodnight. Hinata responds in kind—is afraid to do otherwise. It is as if Sakusa had drawn a line between them and told him, don’t cross. Stay where you are; don’t come any closer. And Hinata obliges, because it is the least he can do. 

Sometimes though, he finds himself stealing glances at Sakusa without realizing it. It is hard not to look at him. Always has been. Hinata lets his eyes linger on the broad expanse of Sakusa’s shoulders, the line of his jaw, the dark curve of his lashes. Sees the small, subtle ways that time has changed him and the painful familiarity that remains, still. 

Sometimes, Sakusa will turn and almost catch Hinata staring. Sometimes, Hinata could swear that Sakusa is looking at him, too. 

 

“He is looking at you,” Atsumu says, rolling his eyes. He reaches for his other foot, stretches. “Get a clue, Shouyou-kun.”

“Who is?” asks Kageyama. 

“Weren’t you listening at all, Tobio-kun?” Atsumu answers, sounding aggrieved.  “Your best friend is pouring his heart out to you, and you just sit there, thinking about God knows what.”

“I’m thinking about volleyball,” Kageyama says. And then, devoid of any spite, “Maybe you should do that more often, Miya-san. For your serves and all.”

Atsumu glares at him. “This is why you’re single,” he says. 

Hinata laughs. “Don’t fight, okay?” he says fondly, patting them both on the shoulder. “It wasn’t important, anyways. And I’m sure Atsumu-san thinks about volleyball more than enough, or else he wouldn’t be here.” 

“Thank you!” Atsumu says. “See, Tobio-kun?”

Kageyama ignores him. “Were you talking about Sakusa-san?” he asks Hinata, looking over his shoulder. “Because he’s staring at you right now.”

Hinata turns and sees Sakusa, across the gym. Their eyes meet for less than a second before Sakusa looks away, so quickly Hinata almost thinks he’s imagined it. His pounding heart and flushed cheeks prove otherwise, though. 

Atsumu chuckles. “See?” he says, almost a little smug. “I think you two might be in the same boat, Shouyou-kun.”

Hinata swallows. His heart is still fluttering inside his chest, birdlike. 

 

Hinata tries not to think about it, all the looking and being looked at. 

But it begins to happen more often, and eventually he gives up. Starts to want it openly, to hunger for it.  Sometimes, he even lets himself be caught staring, just for the momentary thrill of meeting Sakusa’s eyes. It isn’t good. Hinata shouldn’t be doing this, not after everything that’s happened. But he is only human, and he has never been the type of person who could rein in his heart. 

They are resting in their room after breakfast when Hinata notices the scarlet running down Sakusa’s finger as he sits, gazing out at the sea in the distance. Almost without even realizing, Hinata is at his side. “Omi-san,” he says, and Sakusa turns to look at him, taken aback. “Your hand—”

Hinata takes his wrist, gentle. Studies the cut in the skin—it is surprisingly deep. Sakusa does not pull away. 

“You’re bleeding,” Hinata says quietly. He looks up at Sakusa, who seems similarly surprised. “You didn’t notice?” That isn’t like him, not at all. 

“It didn’t hurt,” Sakusa says. 

“It might, later,” Hinata says. He tugs on Sakusa’s sleeve. “Come on, let’s go wash it off.” And then he blinks, remembers the line between them. Where he is, who they are to each other. His hand falls. 

Sakusa stands up and walks by Hinata to head to the bathroom. Of course—he can do this by himself, would probably prefer to. Hinata turns away. 

Sakusa pauses. “Aren’t you going to help me?” he asks, and Hinata stops in his tracks.

“Oh,” Hinata says. His heart stutters in his chest. “Yeah, just—I’ll get you disinfectant. And a bandage.” 

The bathroom is a little crowded for both of them. Hinata watches as Sakusa runs his finger under cold water. It doesn’t look too serious, which is a relief—after all, the cut is on his right hand, his hitting hand. 

“How’d you even get that?” Hinata asks, curious. 

Sakusa shrugs. “I was peeling an apple in the cafeteria,” he says. “Probably then.”

“Can’t believe you didn’t feel it.”

“I feel it now.” 

“Does it hurt?” 

A pause. “It’s okay.” 

Sakusa turns off the water, and Hinata passes him some tissue to dry himself off. He opts to put on the ointment himself, but holds out his hand for Hinata to bandage. Hinata touches him gingerly, his breath short. They haven’t been this close to each other in a long time, and the feeling is nerve-wracking as much as it is intoxicating. 

“Good?” Hinata asks, after he finishes. “You might want to see someone on the med team if it gets worse.”

Sakusa shakes his head. “I don’t want them touching me,” he says. “I’ll be fine.”

“Take care of yourself, then,” Hinata says. He smiles, struck by a sudden frivolity. “I don’t hang around people who don’t know how to manage their health, you know.”

Sakusa huffs, smiling just a little. Hinata’s heart clenches—how long has it been since he’d last seen Sakusa smile? Since Sakusa had smiled at him? He is suddenly hyperaware of how close they are to each other in the small space of the bathroom, of the warmth radiating from Sakusa’s body. Quickly, he turns and steps out, his face hot. 

Sakusa follows him. “Hinata,” he says. His hand finds Hinata’s wrist, closes around it gently. 

Hinata turns to him. Sakusa’s expression is softer than it’s been in a long time. He looks almost hopeful. It cuts Hinata to the quick, makes him remember. His guilt is stifling. He can’t do this again—he doesn’t deserve to. 

“Hinata,” Sakusa says again, and Hinata almost shivers, “I—”

Hinata steels himself. “Omi-san,” he says, stepping away from Sakusa, “maybe we should request a room change. Considering—considering everything.”

Sakusa’s expression hardens almost immediately. His hand falls and his jaw clenches, and it is a moment before he speaks.  “You hate being with me that much?”

“No,” Hinata says, backpedaling. “No, that’s not what I meant—” 

“Then what?” 

Hinata tries to choose his words carefully. “We—we make each other uncomfortable,” he says, finally. “Don’t we?”

“I don’t feel uncomfortable with you,” Sakusa says. He approaches Hinata slowly, closing the distance. “You made me happy. Once.”

Sakusa takes one step closer, Hinata one step back. His back hits the wall, and Sakusa keeps going, until they are almost pressed up against each other. It is hard to breathe. Sakusa’s gaze is dark, accusing, pinning Hinata to the spot. 

“I’m sorry,” Hinata says quietly, voice hoarse. Throat scratched raw by the past, the present. “Omi-san, I’m sorry.” 

“Why?” Sakusa asks, so close that Hinata can feel his breath. “Did you do something that you need to to be sorry for?”

The resentment, the blame in his voice is palpable. Unable to hold his gaze, Hinata turns just slightly and looks away. Swallows. Thinks of a night, more than a year ago, that’s been burnt into his memory despite all his attempts to forget, when Sakusa had asked him quietly, do you—do you want to talk about us? And Hinata, afraid of his feelings and hyperaware of the distance between Brazil and Japan, had said the cruelest thing imaginable: what’s there to talk about? 

They’d never quite spoken again after that. Sakusa had seen him off at the airport with everyone else, but they hadn’t kept in touch. Neither of them could bear to.

“I—” I’m sorry, Hinata wants to say again. But what’s the use of another apology? His breath hitches in his throat, and he cannot speak. 

Sakusa relents. He backs away, heads to the door. Pauses.

“Request a room change if you want,” he says. Run. Again. “I don’t care what you do. I have other things to worry about.”

He leaves, the door closing behind him with a heavy thud. Hinata walks over to his bed and sits down. Breathes deep to steady himself. Feels his heart race in his chest: wounded, traitorous, raw. 

 

Back in Brazil, Hinata would drive down to the ocean whenever he could. Partly to play beach again. But mostly to just look out at the water, the vast horizon. 

He’d never really thought too much of the ocean until he moved to Rio. And then it’d become a constant presence in his life—the sound of the tide, the green-blue hue of the waves in the sun, the plaintive call of gulls. It’d been where he’d rebuilt himself from the ground up, nineteen years old and still knowing nothing about the world. By the time Hinata leaves Rio for Japan, he is halfway in love with the ocean, and sorry to leave it behind. 

But the next time he finds himself in Brazil, things are different. More often than not, Hinata will sit on the edge of the water as the waves lap at his ankles, gazing out to where the sky meets the sea. Inevitably, he will think about Sakusa, somewhere on the other side of this great blue vastness, and he never really knows whether he’s comforting himself or mourning. Perhaps both. 

This is not to say that Hinata is unhappy: he has new teammates who grin at him when he scores, who ruffle his hair and call him a ninja. He has friends in Brazil and Japan and everywhere in between. He has his youth. He has beautiful strangers to share his bed with, though never for more than a night. And he has volleyball, the sport he has given his life to. 

Isn’t this enough? Hinata will ask himself, digging his toes into the sand. The water rushes down, back into the ocean, as if trying to pull him down with it. Isn’t this enough?

Yes, his rational self will say, yes, it is. But Hinata, being who he is, has never quite listened to this part of himself, and barely ever hears it. So he keeps looking out at the ocean, even as night falls and the water grows as dark as the sky above it, but never as dark as the soft blackness of Sakusa’s hair. 

 

They do not speak for the rest of the day after that. They do not even look at each other. Atsumu notices, as he always does. 

“If you need, I can switch with you for tonight,” he offers. “Tobio-kun’s an awful roommate, but at least he’s not—” He exhales. “You know.”

Hinata takes a deep breath. Throughout the day, he’s had time to think, to clear his head. He looks out at the sea. The water sparkles under the sun, catching the light like a thousand crystals. Hinata thinks of the past and the present, and he decides not to run this time.

“It’s alright,” he says finally. “But thanks, Atsumu-san.”

Atsumu nods, doesn’t object. Hinata is grateful. 

 

Later that night, Hinata and Sakusa settle into bed quietly, without saying much. Sakusa turns off the lamp, and Hinata just lies there in the dark. Thinking. Waiting to fall asleep. 

“Hinata.” Sakusa’s voice is low but clear. “Are you still awake?”

Hinata’s heart rabbits in his chest. He considers pretending to be asleep, but thinks better of it. He is tired of untruths. 

“Yeah,” he says. “I’m awake.” 

“Okay,” Sakusa says. A pause. “I’m sorry,” he says, “about this morning. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that.”

Sakusa has always been soft-hearted. Some part of Hinata wishes that he would stay angry. “It’s alright,” Hinata says. “Really.”

“No,” Sakusa says. “I hurt you. I won’t do it again.”

Hinata feels suffocated by Sakusa’s kindness. I’ve hurt you a thousand times worse! he wants to shout. But he swallows it down. 

“I didn’t ask for a room change,” Hinata says. “I thought you should know.” 

A moment of silence. “Okay.” 

Sakusa’s voice is inscrutable—Hinata wants so badly to turn on the lights and see his face, his expression. But he closes his eyes instead. 

“Goodnight, Omi-san.”

“Goodnight, Hinata.” 

Outside, the gentle sounds of the ocean. Hinata sleeps. 

 

The next day dawns clear and balmy. They wake to the soft light of the sunrise, both of them quiet and subdued in the hush of the morning. 

Hinata gets out of bed and stretches. Makes his way to the window and looks out at the sky. 

“It’ll be nice today, I think,” he says. His voice is still scratchy with sleep. “Sunny.”

Hinata feels Sakusa come up from behind him. But Sakusa’s presence doesn’t fill him with guilt or trepidation today—rather, it is comforting, familiar. 

A sleepy hum. “That’s good,” Sakusa murmurs. “I like the sun.”

Hinata turns to look at him, surprised. “I didn’t know that.”

Sakusa shrugs. He is softer around the edges in the morning, his hair ruffled into something like bedhead, his gaze slightly unfocused. Hinata has always loved seeing him like this. “Sunlight kills bacteria,” Sakusa says, as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. A pause. “And I like being warm.”

Hinata smiles. He can’t help it. “Okay,” he says. “I’ll remember.”

Sakusa nods. Swallows. “Hinata,” he says. 

Hinata imitates his tone. “Omi-san.”

The smallest of smiles, both exasperated and fond. “Listen,” says Sakusa. “You should switch rooms if you really want to. You don’t have to force yourself.”

“I’m not forcing myself,” Hinata says. It feels good to be honest. “I’m here now because I want to be, Omi-san.”

Sakusa’s eyes have always been impossibly dark. The colour of space, of the night sky between stars. But they are warm, too. Soft and expressive. Sakusa gazes at Hinata with an open vulnerability that strikes him right in the heart, but Hinata does not turn away. He stays. He looks back.

“I’m sorry for yesterday, too,” Hinata says. “I was scared, I—" He exhales. 

“No,” Sakusa says, voice hoarse, “it’s okay. It’s alright.” 

“After, I just thought—” Hinata falters for a moment, but he pushes onward. “When are we ever going to have a chance like this again? To be together?” He smiles. “We should enjoy it while we still can, don’t you think?” 

Sakusa exhales, the tension leaving his shoulders. “Yes,” he says. “That would be nice.” 

Hinata’s heart swells. He smiles up at Sakusa, unable to contain the warm bloom of joy in his chest. Sakusa turns away, but Hinata catches the blush on his neck, his ears. 

“Omi-san,” he says, teasing, “what are you getting all embarrassed about?”

Without turning back around, Sakusa reaches out for Hinata and pushes him gently. “Go brush your hair already,” he says. “You don’t look very Olympian with half of it in your face.”

Hinata laughs, but obeys. When he returns, it is as he predicted—the sunlight has spilled into their room, warm and golden and brilliant. It finds Hinata and Sakusa both, gilding their hair like crowns. 

 

In the coming days, Hinata finds that it is much easier for them to be good to each other than it is to be cold. He and Sakusa have always been inclined to care, even in their early days as teammates, back when Sakusa would put on a sour face and tell Hinata to keep his distance, but would also be the first person ready with a bandage whenever Hinata got hurt. And Hinata would respond in kind, whenever Sakusa let him do so: asking after his minor injuries, buying him a steady supply of his favourite hand sanitizer. It had been sweet then, and it is sweet now. 

Hinata is eating lunch with Atsumu and Aran in the cafeteria when he feels a soft touch on his head. He does not need to turn to know who it is; a thrill runs down his back. Across from him, Atsumu grins.

“Hey, Omi-kun,” he says. 

Sakusa ignores him. “You had something in your hair,” he tells Hinata, and sets a flower petal down on the table. It is pale pink, almost white, likely a remnant from the walk Hinata had taken this morning before training.

“Oh.” Hinata feels his face warm. He smiles, trying to hide his embarrassment. “Thanks, Omi-san.” 

Sakusa nods. For a short moment, neither of them says anything. It’s a little awkward. Atsumu looks like he’s about to burst out laughing, and Aran looks like he wants to run. 

Hinata suddenly remembers. “Oh, your finger—”

Sakusa huffs. “I’m fine,” he says. “I was practicing today, remember?” He reaches out and ruffles Hinata’s hair, his touch lingering. “I’ll see you later.” 

“Yeah,” Hinata says, a little hoarse. He doesn’t know why he’s so flustered, but he is. “Okay. See you.”

Sakusa finally spares Atsumu and Aran a glance, giving them a polite nod before leaving. There’s a moment of awkward silence.

Atsumu turns to Hinata. Raises an eyebrow, smirks. “Wow. What was that?”

Hinata’s face is still hot. “Don’t tease, Atsumu-san,” he says, turning away. 

“Wait,” Aran says. He stares at Hinata, then at Sakusa’s retreating figure. “What just happened?”

“Come on, Aran-kun,” Atsumu says, laughing. “It’s not that hard.” 

Aran blinks. It takes him a second. “What?” he says, keeping his voice hushed. He looks back at Hinata, flabbergasted. “You and—Sakusa? Really?” 

“Right?” Atsumu says, sounding amused. “Hard to imagine, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, well,” Aran says. “So you’re—what, together?” Hinata shakes his head. “Or you were?”

“We were—” Hinata exhales. “I don’t know. We never really… did anything.” 

Atsumu huffs, shoves a spoonful of rice into his mouth. “You two were joined at the hip,” he says. “You stayed over at his place. Regularly. And he let you.” He turns to Aran. “Can you imagine Omi-kun letting anyone into his house?”

Aran shakes his head, mystified. “Wait,” he says, meeting Hinata’s eyes. “You’ll be okay, right? Both of you? Should I be worried about your performance?” 

Hinata shakes his head. “We’re adults,” he says, smiling. Volleyball is a whole world away from this. “We’ll be fine.” 

“Well, I guess you’ve been doing well up until now,” Aran says, scratching his head. “Amazing. I don’t think I could ever do that.” 

“Do what?” Hinata asks, tilting his head. 

“Play on the same team as an ex,” Aran says. 

“He isn’t—” Hinata looks down at the table, studying a nick in the wood. “We never even kissed,” he says, voice quiet. 

He must sound more solemn than he’d meant to, because Atsumu and Aran are both silent for a moment. 

“Well,” Atsumu finally says. “Did you want to?”

It’s an invasive question, and much too personal for the time of day. But Hinata is not offended—rather, he jumps at the chance to finally be honest. Did you want to kiss Sakusa Kiyoomi?

“Yeah,” Hinata says. He smiles, a little sadly. “Yeah, I did.” 

 

Hinata doesn’t quite remember when he’d started loving the way Sakusa says his name. 

At first, it’d been nothing special. Short, terse: Hinata. The unspoken is simple: this ball is yours. Not that Hinata had disliked it—there is always something wonderful about being trusted with a pass, a set. But somewhere along the way, things began to shift. So slowly, so gradually that Hinata had barely noticed. 

Hinata, Sakusa will say, come here, and Hinata will grin and jog over to sit next to Sakusa and they’ll talk about whatever they feel like for the entire water break. And then, Hinata, you can come over if you want, and Hinata does want, so that’s where they spend a good portion of their time together, Hinata bright with joy and Sakusa trying not to smile but smiling anyways. Then at night, Hinata. Quiet, almost shy. I can’t sleep. In other words, come to bed. I want to sleep together. And Hinata will oblige him, because he too sleeps better when they hold each other. 

There is much of Sakusa that is unsaid. But to Hinata, he is so wonderfully obvious at the same time, the unspoken ringing out almost as loudly as what is spoken. Underneath the sharpness and the quiet, there is something so honest about him, so beautiful. 

So, well—of course Hinata had wanted to kiss Sakusa Kiyoomi. And despite everything—the ocean that’ll come between them, the hurt he’s caused—he still does. 

Just look at him. Look at them both. How could he not? 

 

“Hinata.” 

Fresh out of the shower, Hinata turns to see Sakusa taking out his hairdryer. 

“You still don’t dry your hair properly,” Sakusa says. He looks disapproving. “Come here.” 

“It’s plenty dry,” Hinata protests, but goes to sit on the floor at Sakusa’s feet anyways. 

The drone of the dryer is strangely comforting, and Sakusa’s hand is gentle in his hair. Hinata wonders, for a second, whether this is all too intimate, whether he should’ve thought twice before agreeing so easily. This is something straight out of the past, when he used to stay over at Sakusa’s for the night. Less of reconciliation and friendship than something else entirely. But Hinata can’t find it in himself to worry too much at the moment—the comfort of it all makes him drowsy, blissed out, and he is tired.  

“Alright,” Sakusa says eventually, turning off the dryer. “I’m done.”

But he keeps his hand in Hinata’s hair, carding his fingers through it. Hinata hums, barely awake. “Hey,” Sakusa says. “If you’re going to sleep, go to bed.” His fingers curl in the hair near Hinata’s nape, almost a gentle pull.

“Okay,” Hinata murmurs, and doesn’t bother moving. 

A few moments of silence. “Hinata.” A gentle touch on his neck. “Are you asleep?”

No, not quite yet. But as good as. Everything is fuzzy and dreamlike and Sakusa is close by, which makes Hinata feel safe. Content. 

Sakusa sighs. Hinata feels Sakusa shift and stand up from the bed. Feels himself being lifted gently from the ground, the warmth of Sakusa’s body against his. Hinata is placed on his own bed, and his covers are pulled over him. There is the softest of touches on his cheekbone, as light as a feather. 

“Goodnight, Hinata,” Sakusa murmurs, and it sounds like he is saying a thousand more things. 

 

Hinata has come to realize that the game of volleyball is much the same everywhere. 

There will be good players wherever he goes. There will be strategy and challenges and successes. There will be things that he likes, and things that he doesn’t. But he can’t help but feel a certain way about this national team, where he can play alongside old friends and rivals alike. Where both the setters know him deeply and never fail to deliver. Hinata steps onto the court with this wonderful, chaotic team, and he becomes fifteen and eighteen and twenty-two again, all at the same time, excited and ready to fly. 

“Are you nervous?” Sakusa asks him one day during a water break, quite out of the blue. 

Hinata blinks. They don’t usually speak much during practice—most of their conversations take place in the solace of their little room. “Well,” he says, “not now. But I think I will be.” He tilts his head. “Why? Do I look it?”

“You’re—” Sakusa considers. “Bouncy.” 

Hinata almost laughs. “Bouncy?”

“He means that you keep doing this,” Kageyama calls from the other side of the court, and goes up on his tiptoes, then back down again. “You should stop. You look like a chicken or something.” 

Kageyama really doesn’t have much tact when it comes to times like this—he hears a conversation he’s interested in and just shoves himself in sideways. Sakusa looks a little miffed at this, but Hinata laughs, already used to it. 

“I’m just excited, I think,” he says. He smiles. “What, were you worried about me, Omi-san?”

Sakusa face turns red when he exerts himself, which is why Hinata isn’t sure if he’s blushing or not.“I just didn’t want you to be nervous,” Sakusa says. “Because you shouldn’t be.” 

It’s flattering, if you read in between the lines. You shouldn’t be nervous, because you’re good. You’ll do well. Hinata feels his smile widen. “Thanks,” he says. “I hope you aren’t nervous either, Omi-san.”

Sakusa nods, and oh—he’s definitely blushing, even though his expression is almost sullen. Hinata holds back a laugh, feeling his own face grow warm, and they rest together until their coach calls for them on the court. 

 

Over the last few days, they’ve begun to watch volleyball videos together before going to sleep. Hinata—clean and freshly showered—will clamber onto Sakusa’s bed, and they’ll pick out a game to focus on for the evening. It’s fun, relaxing, even though they’re both so focused. Look, Sakusa will say, pointing at a figure on the laptop screen, look at what he does here, how he does it, and Hinata will watch intently, offering his own thoughts. 

It’s easy to sit close to each other when they’re like this. Sakusa is always the first to move, shifting just slightly so that their shoulders touch, and Hinata should put a stop to this, should keep his distance because a small part of him suspects—knows—what is happening here. It would be so easy: all he has to do is lean away, and Sakusa will understand. Subtleties are never lost on him. But it is so lovely to share warmth, and Hinata has missed this so much it hurts deep in his chest. So he lets himself have this—this and everything else that Sakusa is willing to give. 

Going to bed afterwards always feels a little cold, a little lonely. Hinata closes his eyes and turns to face the window, the pale light filtering in through the curtains. He is warm under the covers, but it’s not the same. Never is. 

“Hinata,” Sakusa says, voice soft in the dark. 

Hinata’s heart skips a beat. “Yeah?”

A pause. “I can’t sleep.”

Hinata blinks, turns toward Sakusa. “I have melatonin, if you want.”

“No,” Sakusa says. It is too dark to see his expression.“I just—" He sounds shy, embarrassed. “I can’t sleep.” 

With something like a thrill, Hinata realizes, and his breathing quickens. “Do you—do you want me to come to you?” 

“Yes,” Sakusa says, voice hoarse. “Please. Come.”

Don’t, the rational voice in Hinata’s head shouts, don’t, but he does not listen. He will not. The voice is shoved into the back of his head, silenced under pain of death, and Hinata gets up from his own bed. Sakusa holds the covers up for him, and he climbs in almost clumsily. 

For a moment, they just stay there, a distance apart. Lying on their sides. Trying to see each other in the dark. Hinata’s heart thuds in his chest, so loudly he is afraid that Sakusa can hear it. 

“You can hold me,” Hinata says, finally. His voice comes out almost half a whisper. “Isn’t that what you wanted?” 

Yes, he too leaves things unsaid: please, touch me. Please, I want you to. 

“Oh,” Sakusa murmurs, “okay,” and then he’s reaching out for Hinata, his arm coming to rest on Hinata’s waist, pulling him closer. Hinata reaches out too—he cannot help but do so—and entwines their legs. 

Sakusa sighs, shaky, like a wind blowing through him. Pressed close to him like this, Hinata can feel the pounding of his heart, just as fast as his own. Sakusa bows his head and holds Hinata even closer, so that their bodies are flush against each other. In the dark, he feels immense—Hinata is enveloped by warmth. He swallows his heartbeat, closes his eyes. 

Absently, Hinata remembers when things had been the opposite: in the beginning, he’d always been the one invading Sakusa’s space, always wordlessly saying let me closer. Let me in. And it had taken some time, but eventually, Sakusa had opened up. Slowly and beautifully, like a flower. With small smiles, a ruffle of hair, a blush. Hinata still remembers the first time Sakusa had reached out to hold him close, remembers the pounding of his heart and the answering beat in Sakusa’s chest. The quiet around them, their sheer, silent joy. 

Hinata, Sakusa had said, his chin resting on Hinata’s head. A smile in his voice, perfectly content. Hinata. 

No, they’d never even kissed. But now, as he lies in Sakusa’s arms, surrounded by the soft, dark night, Hinata knows that Sakusa had said his name and meant something else too: I love you. I love you. 

 

It feels frighteningly natural to wake up next to Sakusa. Hinata extricates himself gently, hyperaware of the hardness between his legs. It’s just biology, he knows, and it’s not like Sakusa would really mind, but he’d prefer to save them both the embarrassment. 

Sakusa is still asleep when Hinata comes back from the bathroom, and Hinata sits down on the bed next to him. Sakusa looks uncharacteristically peaceful when he sleeps, the lines between his brows smoothing out. Eventually, he stirs, blinks awake slowly. His gaze finds Hinata’s, and it is lovely and thrilling all at once. 

“Hi,” Hinata says, feeling shy all of a sudden. 

Sakusa yawns, covering his mouth. “Hi.” His voice is hoarse. “Have you been awake for a long time?”

Hinata shakes his head. “I just went to brush my hair,” he says. “And wash my face.”

Sakusa looks a little concerned. He sits up. “Did I wake you?” 

“No, no,” Hinata says hastily. “I slept—well.” It’s true. His sleep had been dreamless, deep. Restful. He’s missed this much more than he knew he had. 

“Oh,” Sakusa says. “That’s good. So did I.” A pause. “I always sleep better with you.” 

Hinata’s heart clenches. This is too heavy for the morning. But Sakusa is looking at him, eyes still soft from sleep, vulnerable and honest. It’s only fair to be honest, too. 

“Me too,” Hinata says quietly, heat rising in his face.

Sakusa says nothing, but he smiles, and it is like the dawn. He reaches out, cradling Hinata’s cheek. The touch—gentle, familiar—steals Hinata’s breath away. 

 

They begin to share a bed every night after that. Hinata cannot resist the comfort of it all, the sweetness, the way Sakusa sighs contentedly when Hinata lays his head on his chest. It is addicting, intoxicating. Sleeping alone is unthinkable now. 

They should talk about it, Hinata knows. They should talk about it, because they’re just walking down the same road as before. But this thing between them is so nebulous, so fragile, that it feels like even a single word could shatter it, send it into flight. 

So Hinata waits. He’s not quite sure what he’s waiting for. A part of him knows that he’s being cowardly, that he’s just putting off the inevitable. That he needs to do something different this time around. But he always thinks, no, no, not quite yet. Because Sakusa is so warm, and his smile is so sweet, and there is something so unspeakably perfect about these days and nights. 

No, not yet. Maybe tomorrow. 

 

Sakusa seems to have a thing for Hinata’s hair. He likes to touch it absently, likes to take care of it. And Hinata lets him—does not complain when Sakusa brushes his hair in the morning, dries it at night. It feels good, to be cared for like this. 

Usually, it is a quiet affair. Sakusa will be focused, and Hinata will scroll on his phone absently, though sometimes Sakusa will take a peek at his screen and offer his thoughts. But this morning, they are both silent. Hinata yawns, soothed by the rhythm of touch, still a little drowsy. 

Sakusa pauses. “Hinata,” he says, and the nervousness in his voice makes Hinata blink. “Are you—” Sakusa sounds almost pained. “Are you seeing anyone right now?”

Hinata is suddenly wide awake. He feels himself blush, full-body. Part of him almost wants to laugh—how could Sakusa ask this when they’ve been sharing a bed for a week now? But then again, he only has himself to blame for the ambiguity of their boundaries. 

Hinata swallows. “No,” he says, voice hoarse. “No, of course not.” 

“Oh,” Sakusa says quietly, and the relief in his voice is palpable. “Okay.” He begins to brush Hinata’s hair again. When he speaks again, his voice shakes. “Hinata,” he says, “I—”

Hinata knows what he is going to say. Everything has been leading up to this, and he isn’t ready. He isn’t ready. 

Hinata turns around. “Omi-san,” he says, desperate. His heart is a wild, frantic thing in his ribcage. “Please. Not now.” 

Sakusa blinks, and Hinata can almost see something inside him break. “Sorry,” he finally says, quiet. His gaze falls to the floor. “I won’t—I must’ve misunderstood. Sorry.”

“No!” Hinata exclaims, his chest aching. “No, you didn’t, I just—” He takes a breath, tries to steady himself. “I’m sorry. I know it’s selfish of me, but please. Give me some time.” Sakusa looks up; their eyes meet. “Not too long. Until tonight, okay? Let’s—let’s talk then.” 

Sakusa’s gaze is incredibly soft. “Okay,” he says. There is something like hope in his expression. “I’ll be waiting.” 

For once, Hinata is unable to speak. He nods, silent. 

 

It is cool for a summer day in Tokyo. Hinata sits next to Atsumu on a bench, hugging his knees into his chest. The two of them look out at the sea, unnoticed by the occasional athlete walking by. 

“Man, you should really be paying me for this,” Atsumu says, grinning. Hinata can’t help it—he smiles, too. “Well? What happened?” 

Hinata sighs. Traces over a groove in the bench. It’s hard to talk about this. “Omi-san, he—” He swallows. “I think he wants us to get back together.” 

“Ah,” Atsumu says. He exhales, smiles wryly. “So you were together, before?”

Hinata blushes, caught. “I don’t know,” he says, a little desperate. “Maybe? I don’t—” 

“Whoa, calm down,” Atsumu says. “Sorry, Shouyou-kun. I didn’t mean to tease.” He pats Hinata on the head. “Well, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. I’m surprised you didn’t, though.” 

“I think I did,” Hinata says, swallowing. “But—I don’t know. I didn’t think it would actually happen, I guess. I was just… happy. To be together again.” 

Atsumu hums. “I get it,” he says. “But it’s happened, now. So what do you want to do?”

“We—we wouldn’t work,” Hinata says. It hurts to say it out loud. “I’m going back to Brazil after this. And he’ll be here.”  

“That’s not what I was asking,” Atsumu says. “What do you want?”

Hinata swallows. “What I want doesn’t matter,” he says. “Not for this.”

“Oh, Shouyou-kun,” Atsumu says, and he looks so kind. He has always been so kind, ever since they’d become partners on the court, years ago. “It always matters.”

The ocean breeze is cool and lovely, playing at Hinata’s hair. Heart heavy, Hinata rests his chin on his knees. Stares out at the clouds, white and soft and beautiful.   

“You broke his heart when you left, you know?” Atsumu says quietly, and it cuts Hinata to the bone. 

“Did he tell you?” Hinata asks. “About everything?”

“Not because he wanted to,” Atsumu says. “Got it out of him after a few drinks. And then he wouldn’t stop talking about you.” 

Hinata feels raw, vulnerable. “Then you know,” he says quietly. “I was scared, and I said something awful, and I hurt him.” 

“Well,” Atsumu says. “Scared people do the wrong thing, sometimes.” 

“I’m still scared,” Hinata says, despairing. 

“You’re allowed to be scared,” Atsumu says. “We all are. But you can be brave, too.” He tilts his head, thoughtful. “If you want me to tell you what to do, I can’t, specifically—I’m not you. And I’m not Omi-kun. But, well—I think you should do what’ll make you happy, Shouyou-kun. Even if it’s hard.” 

His smile is as gentle as the wind. Hinata looks at him, and feels so grateful he could cry. “Atsumu-san,” he says hoarsely, “thank you. I’ll pay you, if you really want.”

Atsumu laughs, ruffles his hair. “Sure! Ten thousand yen should be enough, don’t you think?”

Hinata feels himself smile a little. “That’s too much, Atsumu-san,” he says.

“Stingy, stingy!” Atsumu says, shaking his head. He gets up from the bench, offers his hand to Hinata. “Come on, Shouyou-kun. Don’t want to be late for training now, do we?”

Hinata lets Atsumu pull him to his feet. “No,” he says, and puts on a smile. “No, of course not.” 

 

The night comes all too slowly, and yet it still takes Hinata by surprise. He sits on the edge of Sakusa’s bed, heart in his throat. Sakusa is meticulously drawing the curtains closed, and he looks so elegant and soft in the warm lamplight that Hinata cannot help but stare. His heart clenches, and he tries to commit everything he sees to memory: the lithe, muscular curves of Sakusa’s back, the exact shade of his hair. The swoop of his lashes against his cheeks when he looks down. Everything. Hinata wants it all, selfish thing that he is.

Sakusa turns back to look at him, and their eyes meet. “Why are you staring at me?” he asks, and there is a hint of a smile on his face. 

“Because you’re handsome,” Hinata says. He tries to smile back, but a lump rises in his throat, and his voice breaks. “Omi-san, you’re always so handsome.” 

He does not know why the tears come now of all times, or why his shoulders shake with half a sob. All he knows is that Sakusa is beautiful and kind and wonderful, that he had given Hinata something rare and precious, and Hinata had thrown it all away. You broke his heart when you left, you know

“Hinata,” Sakusa says, at Hinata’s side in a heartbeat. He kneels by the bed. “Hinata, what’s wrong?”

His care makes Hinata come undone. Hinata cannot stop crying; his tears are relentless. “Sorry,” he manages, wiping his face with his sleeve. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I’m like this—” 

Sakusa reaches out for him, cradles his cheek in a hand. “It’s alright,” he says, quiet. “It’s alright. Don’t cry.” 

Hinata cannot hold himself back any longer. “How can you stand being with me, Omi-san?” he bursts out, desperate. “I hurt you. I hurt you so badly, and you’re still—” So kind. Gentle. “You should hate me! Why don’t you hate me?”

Sakusa is silent for a second. His expression is impossibly tender. “I can’t hate you,” he says, finally. “I was angry and hurt, but I could never hate you.” He smiles, soft and genuine. “You made me happy, Hinata. You made me so happy. You still do.”

Hinata feels like there is a rising ocean inside him, spilling over at the edges. “Oh,” he says, his voice breaking with a sob. It is hard to speak. He reaches out for Sakusa, almost instinctively. “Omi-san. Omi-san—”

The bed shifts as Sakusa comes to sit next to him. Sakusa gathers Hinata in his arms, and Hinata clings to him, burying his face in Sakusa’s chest. They stay like that for a few moments, just comforting each other and being comforted. Hinata listens to the steady beat of Sakusa’s heart—a beautiful thing—letting it calm him down. 

“I’m sorry,” he finally says, voice hoarse. “Omi-san, I’m really sorry. For pretending like we didn’t have anything. For running away. For hurting you. I’m so, so sorry.” 

“It’s okay,” Sakusa says softly. “Hinata, it’s okay.” 

“It’s not,” Hinata says, his voice muffled against Sakusa’s chest. “I thought it’d hurt less if I just pretended. But I just ended up ruining everything anyway. I was—I was scared. And stupid.” 

Sakusa hums, strokes Hinata’s hair softly. “I was stupid, too,” he says. “I should’ve called you, at least once. Made us talk. But I was angry, so—” He exhales. 

“It’s okay,” Hinata says. He sniffs. “I wouldn’t have called me, either.” 

Sakusa huffs, amused. “All the same,” he says. “I should’ve said something.” A pause. “Do you remember the day you left?” he asks, more softly. “At the airport?”

“Yeah,” Hinata whispers. They’d barely said a word to each other. 

“When you were walking away,” Sakusa says quietly, “I just wanted you to turn around. I wanted you to tell me you’d miss me.” 

Hinata closes his eyes. “I did miss you, Omi-san,” he says, voice hoarse. “I missed you so much it hurt.” 

“Me too,” Sakusa says. He exhales. “Me too.”

Hinata takes a deep breath, pulls away just slightly so he can look Sakusa in the eye. He is calmer now, after the tears. Almost serene. In this moment, he knows he can be brave. 

“Omi-san,” Hinata says, reaching out to cradle Sakusa’s face, “I love you.” 

Sakusa sighs shakily, relaxes into the touch. He looks like he is on the verge of tears, but he’s smiling too. Happiness is beautiful on him, as it always is. He covers Hinata’s hand with his own. 

“You love me,” Sakusa says quietly. He is quietly radiant in his joy, a star in the night. 

“Yes,” Hinata says. His cheeks are burning, and he feels as exposed and raw as a wound, but he does not look away. “I love you.”

The laugh comes from deep within Sakusa’s chest, a rich, beautiful sound of pure, uncontainable happiness. Still laughing, he embraces Hinata. “You love me.” 

“I love you,” Hinata says again. It feels so good to say; he is almost dizzy with joy. He will say it as many times as Sakusa needs to hear it. “I love you, Omi-san, I love you—”

Sakusa kisses him. Gentle, chaste. Hinata’s whole body thrills with it, and the wave of emotion that envelops him is so intense that he could cry. When they break apart, they are both trembling. Hinata’s heart races. He feels like he has been running. Without thinking, Hinata presses their lips together again, greedy, and Sakusa kisses him back with more heat this time, almost desperate. It leaves them gasping, breathless, and they give themselves some time to recover. Hinata touches his forehead to Sakusa’s. 

“I know it’ll be hard,” he says, after a moment. “The distance—”

“I’ll call you,” Sakusa says. He bows his head, buries his face in Hinata’s neck. “Every day. We can visit each other during break.”

Hinata smiles, running his fingers through Sakusa’s hair. “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll call you too.” 

Sakusa hums. “Are you still scared?” he asks quietly, pulling away to look Hinata in the eye. “About us?”

“A little,” Hinata says. It would be a lie to say he isn’t. “But it’s fine. I want us to be happy.” He smiles. “So, Omi-san,” he says. “I know I don’t deserve you, but if you want me—” 

“I do,” Sakusa says. He takes Hinata’s hand, presses his lips to Hinata’s knuckles. “I want you. I love you.” 

Hinata feels his heart grow in his chest, his smile widen into a grin. “Well then,” he says, almost shyly. “I don’t think there’s anything else to worry about, is there?”

Sakusa kisses Hinata on the corner of his mouth. He is smiling. “No,” he says. “No, there isn’t.”

 

Hinata almost isn’t used to everything at first. Part of him is unsure if he’s really allowed to be so happy, almost to the point where he feels like he’s overflowing with it. But he is happy. Sakusa is too—Hinata can tell. And although volleyball is a different matter entirely, although Hinata knows through and through how to separate feelings from work, he can’t help but feel a warm glow of satisfaction when he sets to Sakusa off of Kageyama’s dig, when Sakusa spikes the ball down at the opposing team with a near-elegant ferocity. 

Keep it off the cameras, Aran had advised them, and they do their best to oblige, with the exception of one thing. When Hinata is particularly high-strung during the first few games, a little in over his head with excitement, Sakusa will place a steadying hand on his back between his shoulder blades and behind his heart. It’s something so small, and yet so lovely, and Hinata is grateful for it. 

However, being in the Olympic Village is another thing entirely. Hinata has never been more appreciative of hookup culture: aside from his teammates, some of whom are a little shocked at their development, nobody really spares them a second glance. He can sit on Sakusa’s lap in the cafeteria if he wants to. And he does. 

“Talk about PDA,” Atsumu says, mischievous. Hinata somehow feels Sakusa glaring at Atsumu even though he doesn’t see it. “Hey, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Chill out, Omi-kun.”

Sakusa huffs and returns to resting his head on Hinata’s shoulder. He’s wrapped his arms around Hinata’s waist, content to half-snooze while Hinata talks to Atsumu. Hinata grins, reaching back to ruffle Sakusa’s hair. 

“Sorry, I guess,” he says. 

Atsumu shrugs. “Nah, I get it. Use your time together wisely and all that, right?” He grins. “You guys look stupid happy. It’s nice. Feels like I’ve done a service to society or something.” 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sakusa demands, sounding suspicious. 

Atsumu grins, takes a bite of his granola bar. “I’m very good at relationship advice, y’know?” he says. “Ask Shouyou-kun.” 

Sakusa makes a face. “Seriously?” he asks Hinata, and Hinata laughs. “Him?”

“Excuse me?” Atsumu says, sounding affronted. “You know Shouyou-kun and I are like—best friends, right? And it’s not like you haven’t come to me for advice, either—”

“I was drunk,” Sakusa says. “I wouldn’t do it again.” 

“Yeah, well, whatever,” Atsumu says dismissively. “It still counts. You guys should both be thanking me, you know. Or paying me. Or both.” 

“Thanks, Atsumu-san,” Hinata says brightly. 

“No,” says Sakusa, at the same time. 

“Well, I’ll take one out of two,” Atsumu says. He finishes his granola bar and gets to his feet. “Ushiwaka is taking Kageyama and Aran to watch horse sports,” he says. “Free tickets and everything. I’m gonna tag along. Do you guys wanna go?”

Hinata nudges Sakusa gently. “Horse sports,” he says, turning to look at him. “What do you think?” 

“The word’s equestrian,” Sakusa says drily, but he pulls down his mask to kiss Hinata on the forehead. “Whatever you want.” 

“Ugh, this is getting kind of gross,” Atsumu says. “Can I just get a yes or no, please?”

Hinata considers. Despite what he says, Sakusa probably wouldn’t be all too fond of the dust. And it’s not like they have a lack of things to do here, either. “Eh,” he says. “I think we’ll stay. Have fun, though! Send us some pictures.” 

“Sure,” Atsumu says, grinning. “See you guys later, then. Use protection!” 

And then he’s gone, whistling a tune as he walks away, leaving both Hinata and Sakusa blushing furiously. 

Sakusa’s body feels very warm against Hinata’s. Hinata turns to him. “Does everyone think we’re—we’ve—”

“Apparently,” Sakusa says. 

Hinata swallows. “Should we, then?” he asks, trying to keep his voice even. Sakusa is silent, and Hinata feels himself tripping over his thoughts. “We don’t have a lot of time, so if we want to—do you want to?”

“Yes,” Sakusa says quietly. His voice is quiet but deep, a soft vibration that Hinata feels all the way in his bones. “Of course.”

“Okay,” Hinata says, mind already racing. His face is so, so hot; his heart is thudding against his ribcage. “Now?”

“Alright,” Sakusa says. He exhales, takes Hinata’s hand. “Now.” 

 

It is a little hard to hold back in the bedroom, after all this time. They’ve both wanted this for so long, and it makes everything more desperate, almost hurried. Hinata sits in Sakusa’s lap, his face in the junction of Sakusa’s neck and shoulder, and he bites to muffle any sound that threatens to be too loud. He is no stranger to things like these, but there is something about doing it with Sakusa that makes him feel like he’s losing his mind a little. His body is hot, oversensitive, burning. Sakusa’s grip is deft and gentle all at once, his movements almost elegant as he touches both of them. 

“Hinata,” Sakusa says, voice hoarse. He sounds wonderful; he looks wonderful—blush high on his cheeks, eyes dark with want. “Hinata, are you okay?” 

Hinata almost wants to laugh. “Yeah,” he breathes, smiling down at Sakusa. “It’s okay, Omi-san, keep going, I’m almost—” 

Sakusa watches him like a man entranced. It’s almost too much. And then it is. Hinata comes undone with a cry, shaking. When he returns to himself, he is collapsed, loose-limbed and relaxed, against Sakusa’s chest. 

Sakusa has paused, but he looks downright desperate. “Hinata—” 

Hinata straightens up, clearheaded now but still greedy. He moves Sakusa’s hand away, replacing it with his own, and watches with satisfaction as Sakusa’s eyes flutter closed. 

“Hinata,” Sakusa says again, sounding desperate and broken in the most lovely way possible.

“I’m here, Omi-san,” Hinata says, gentle. He quickens his pace. “It’s okay.” 

Sakusa makes a noise that almost sounds like a sob. He surges upwards to kiss Hinata, open-mouthed and deep, shuddering as he finally falls apart under Hinata’s touch. 

 

“This is bad,” Sakusa says afterwards. He lies in bed, eyes half-closed, too spent to even care about the state of the sheets. 

Hinata blinks, a little concerned. “What?”

“I just—” Sakusa’s voice lowers. “I feel like I could get addicted or something.”

Hinata laughs. “Wow, that’s kind of flattering,” he says, rolling over to look down at Sakusa. He grins, devilish. “Well, I’m here all week if you need me, Omi-san. If you want me.” 

Sakusa’s ears turn pink, but he reaches up to bury his hand in Hinata’s hair, and pulls him down gently for a kiss, sweet and slow and unhurried. Soothing rather than passionate. Hinata smiles into it. 

“I wish we had more time,” Sakusa murmurs, when they break apart. 

“Me too,” Hinata says. He exhales, lays his head on Sakusa’s chest. “But it’s okay. We’ll be okay. We’ll be good.”

“Yeah,” Sakusa says. He smiles. “I know.” 

 

The Olympics pass like a dream. The sharp joy of competition, of victory is so intense that Hinata can barely take it all in at once. By the time everything is over he feels like he has lived a hundred lives’ worth of excitement and exhilaration. And finally, finally, he gets a medal to show for it. 

Hinata stays for another week in Japan, the first half with his family in Sendai. There is something so bittersweet about it all—seeing his old friends once more, saying goodbye. But Hinata can’t quite find it in himself to be too sad. It is lovely to see how they’ve all grown, become somebody new and familiar at the same time.  

So it is with a light heart that he rides the train to Sakusa’s apartment for the rest of the week. Their three nights together are short but sweet, and they spend quite a good portion of it in bed. The rest of their time is spent doing nothing much at all, just enjoying each other’s company. Hinata loves their time together with all his heart, and loves it all the more because it ends so soon. 

The night before he leaves, Sakusa is gentle. Even more so than usual. He moves slowly, and he looks down at Hinata with an expression so tender that Hinata feels like he is about to overflow, to spill over at the edges. It’s too much—he feels raw and vulnerable in body and mind, and he almost tells Sakusa that it’s alright to go faster, to be rougher. 

But then Sakusa speaks, almost a whisper: “Hinata.” 

That is all he needs to say for Hinata to understand. Hinata feels himself relax, feels the ocean inside him stay still and calm.

“Omi-san,” he says quietly, and smiles. 

 

His flight is early in the morning, and he and Sakusa take a cab to the airport when the sky is still dark. The world is hushed, a little unreal. The two of them don’t speak much, communicating only with light touches, a quiet kiss to the knuckles. Hinata’s heart is sore, just as it was more than a year ago at this same airport. But things are different this time around. In a good way.

They are quiet as they approach security. There aren’t many people out and about, and it is still barely light outside. Their hands are linked, fingers intertwined. Together, they stop in front of the gate. 

“Well, then,” Hinata says. “I suppose this is it.” 

“Yeah,” Sakusa says quietly, and pulls him into a hug. Hinata closes his eyes, hugs Sakusa back just as tightly, breathing him in. 

“Be safe,” Sakusa says. “Don’t forget to call.”

Hinata nods. “I’ll call you so much you’ll get sick of me,” he promises. 

“I’ll never get sick of you,” Sakusa says, and he sounds so genuine that Hinata just has to tiptoe and kiss him. When they break apart, Sakusa exhales, touching their foreheads together.

“I love you,” Hinata whispers. 

“I love you too.” 

There is nothing much left to say. They stay like that for a sweet moment, just reveling in each other’s presence, until Sakusa pulls away, extricating himself from Hinata’s arms. Hinata is thankful that Sakusa is strong enough to do so; he knows he wouldn’t have moved away otherwise. 

“Have a good flight,” Sakusa says, cradling Hinata’s cheek. “Sleep well. Eat well.” 

Hinata swallows. “Yeah,” he says, putting a smile on his face. “I will. You too.” 

“Yeah,” Sakusa says quietly. He glances at the clock, lets his hand fall. “Go on, then. You’ll be late for your flight.”

“Okay,” Hinata says. He grips his suitcase handle, trying to ignore the pain in his chest. “See you later, Omi-san.”

“See you, Hinata,” Sakusa says. His smile is sad, gentle. Unbelievably fond. 

They share one last kiss, and then Hinata forces himself to wave and walk away from Sakusa, to scan his boarding pass and passport at the gate. It hurts, it really does, but he’s not afraid this time. Not of the ocean that will come between them, nor of his own feelings. They’ll be okay. Just look at them both. At what they feel for each other, deep and true. They’ll be okay. 

Mid-walk, Hinata realizes that he’s forgotten something important. A little desperate, he turns back and half-runs to the gate, where he sees Sakusa walking in the opposite direction. Heading home. 

“Omi-san!” Hinata calls. He sees Sakusa turn, taken aback, and he takes a deep breath to shout at the top of his lungs. “I'll miss you! I’ll miss you so much!” 

People are turning to stare, but Hinata couldn’t care less. Across from him, Sakusa is smiling like Hinata’s never seen him smile before, more bright and true and beautiful than the light of the morning sun.