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Stick With You

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They shouldn’t have left Japan.

The world had already been restless, what with the news of a highly contagious virus slowly leaking out of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. It was a newly discovered strain of the coronavirus, which was from the same family of viruses that caused deadly respiratory illnesses like SARS and MERS.

It’s been putting him on edge. But he and the rest of the MSBY Black Jackals were preoccupied with the last leg of the V. League season, so they really didn’t have time to dwell on it. They emerged victorious, stealing the crown from the defending champions and their rivals, the Schweiden Adlers. And so, high on their victory, they boarded the plane to a popular island in the Philippines called Palawan.

The thing is, the trip had been booked and paid for months ago, when the team made plans to hold a five-day “post-season team building exercise” there. It was a thinly veiled excuse to travel and get drunk and mess around, far away from the watchful eyes of their coaches and managers. But they approved it, and the whole team agreed to go, even him. He didn’t want to be a spoilsport.

Besides, he was new in the team, along with Hinata Shouyou. He supposed he wanted to get to know them better — Hinata already managed to be friends with everyone in the seven months he’d been part of the team. Kiyoomi was ahead of him by two months, and he wouldn’t exactly say they were friends.

Not that he cared. This was how it’s always been for him.

So here they were, in a coastal town called El Nido, being told by hotel management that most of the country was going on lockdown, and that they were advised to return home before it was implemented.

“Oh, bummer,” said their ace, Bokuto Koutarou. “Our trip is cut short.”

“Health and safety first,” Hinata said.

“Alright, this is what we’re gonna do,” said their team captain Meian Shuugo. “Everyone pack up your things. I’ll give Foster an update and call our airline to see what we could do about a flight back home.”

“What about the bus?” their setter, Miya Atsumu asked.

Meian rubbed his forehead. “Right. I’ll ask the reception about the schedule. Get going.”

He and Hinata made quick work of packing their things and cleaning their room. Hinata had been an okay roommate — he was chatty but he knew how to clean up after himself and he’d long since learned to respect Kiyoomi’s space. He didn’t even mind sharing a double bed with the shorter man, because he slept like a rock, firmly on the opposite side.

“Sad about the vacation, huh?” Hinata said, sitting on his side of the bed. “This place is so dreamy. I wanna go back! Three days isn’t enough to explore! Even if we managed to stay for the whole five days, I don’t think it would have been enough either.”

“Hmm.” Truthfully, he was ready to go back home to Osaka. He had never been a fan of the outdoors, and he’d already had his fill of sand and salty water and scalding heat. He wanted to curl up under his covers and rest and hide from the spreading virus. He was honest to God terrified of it — he was already hung up on something as simple as a cold, so a potentially deadly disease that had just been declared a pandemic was straight out of his nightmares.

“This timing is crap,” Hinata sighed. “Imagine, a pandemic? Who saw that coming?”

“It’s been on the news,” he pointed out.

“Yeah, but…” Hinata trailed off.

He did understand. When was the last time there was a pandemic? The Spanish Flu? He’d heard about epidemics like ebola and zika but those weren’t exactly a threat to them. They didn’t cause countries to shut borders like this. When was the last time nations and cities across the globe imposed lockdowns? Just last week the World Health Organization was saying travel must continue for the sake economies, and now they’re declaring a pandemic? It felt like everything just spiraled out of control too fast. No one could possibly have seen this coming.

Just then, the phone in their room rang. He stood up. “I’ll get it.” He picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Sakusa-kun.” It was Meian. “Tomorrow, we’ll catch the 7 a.m. bus to Puerto Princesa, and then a 2 p.m. flight to Manila, and then a 5:30 p.m. flight back to Osaka. The schedule’s a bit too cramped, but that’s the best we could do. The lockdown will be in effect the day after.”

He internally cringed. Right. How could he have forgotten the hell they’d had to go through just to get here? And they had to do it all again. “Okay,” he simply said.

He told Hinata the plan after he hung up. And then, since it was only 6 p.m., the team decided to make the most out of their stay and have one last night out.

It was a mistake.

The night got too rowdy and all of them got caught up in the whirlwind that was Bokuto, Hinata, and Atsumu combined. Not even Meian could deny them when they were forcing him to take shots. The sense of urgency hasn’t quite sunk in yet — the bars were still filled with people who probably had the same idea as them, wanting to squeeze in one last night of fun before the world came to a standstill. As far as he knew, there were about three confirmed cases of COVID-19 — that’s what they were calling it now — in the Philippines, all of them Chinese tourists confined and quarantined in the capital. They were drunk on an isolated island — at that moment, it all seemed far away.

The night flew by in a drunken haze. He vaguely remembered stumbling into his hotel room and straight into bed, feeling like he’d actually had fun, but also wondering why he let Atsumu shove those shots down his throat. He’ll make him pay for it tomorrow.

At some point, he distantly heard the phone ring. Someone picked it up and a deep voice answered, and that was all he registered before falling back asleep.

He was roused again by a hand shaking his shoulder. “Omi-san! Let’s go to the beach one last time to take pictures! It’s sunrise soon.”

He groaned and batted Hinata’s hand away. “What time is it,” he croaked out.

“Like 6 a.m.?”

“No. Go ahead.”

“Okay, then!” His footsteps receded and he could hear him trying to wake the body beside him on the bed. “Atsumu-san!” Atsumu?

There was some muttering, then Hinata left, saying, “Alright, see you two at the bus later! Remember what Inunaki-san said!”

His eyes closed in time with the sound of the door clicking shut.

He was fully jarred into consciousness when not one, but two cellphones rang.

He blinked groggily and sat up with a pained grunt, patting bed sheets to look for his. When his hand landed on a familiar shape, he picked it up and swiped to answer the call. It was their libero, Inunaki Shion.

“What?”

“What do you mean what?” Inunaki snapped. “Where the hell are you two?”

“Huh?”

“Sakusa,” Inunaki said slowly. “We are all waiting for you on the bus. It’s leaving in 10 minutes, what the hell, we called your room over an hour ago! Atsumu answered and said some shit I didn’t understand, but I figured he was awake.”

He craned his head to the side to see Atsumu very much not awake. His phone was still ringing insistently somewhere.

“Why didn’t you come get us?” he said, starting to panic now. He kicked at Atsumu until his eyes fluttered open. “Miya, get up, we’re gonna get left behind.” Then he stumbled off the bed, heading straight to the bathroom.

“Meian and I had to get to the bus stop early to make sure we all have tickets,” Inunaki said, sounding aggravated. “We called everyone and said to meet here, for the love of god, it’s only fifteen minutes away from our hotel. Get your shit together and run over here, I’m not sure if they’ll wait. Hurry.”

“We’re going,” he said, then hung up.

He powered through the basic necessities — he peed, he splashed water on his face, he rinsed his mouth. Then he hurried out, finding that Atsumu had gone, hopefully to his own room. He gathered his things, which were thankfully still packed neatly, then hurried to the lobby, not bothering to change clothes. He was still wearing the rumpled outfit he wore last night.

He tapped his foot impatiently, looking around for Atsumu, relieved and annoyed when the idiot hurried over to him.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Atsumu chanted. “The hell happened last night?”

“We’ll figure it out later, we have to go now.”

“Shit, we have to check out, shit. I’ll do it.” He grabbed Kiyoomi’s key card from his hand and strode over to the counter.

And then his phone rang again. “Inunaki?” he answered.

“Dude, the bus is leaving in a minute, please tell me you’re near.”

“Uh.” Dread swirled in his stomach. “We’re still at the hotel.”

“You’re what?” Inunaki shrieked.

“What is it, what’s happening?” The deep voice of their giant hitter, Oliver Barnes, floated down the line. “Where are they?”

“They’re still at the hotel!”

“They’re what?” That was their middle blocker, Adriah Thomas.

Kiyoomi’s mind was already racing, trying to figure out a solution. He hurried over to the counter Atsumu was in. In English, he said, “Hello, what time is the next bus to Puerto Princesa?”

“There’s one every hour.” The lady behind the counter smiled and he relaxed. “So, 8 a.m.”

He put the phone back to his ear, interrupting the panicked arguments on the other side of the line. “Inunaki. There’s another bus in an hour. We’ll just catch that, go ahead.”

“What? Wait, talk to Meian.”

“Sakusa-kun,” Meian’s severe voice said. “Tell me you have a solution.”

“There’s an 8 a.m. bus to Puerto Princesa,” he said again. “We’ll just take that one. It’s cutting it too close, but we can still make the flight back to Manila. 2 p.m., right?”

Meian sighed. “Right. Are you sure? We can wait for you, we’ll just catch the next bus too — uh.”

There was a pause that allowed Kiyoomi to figure out that the bus had started moving.

“Wait,” Meian called out. “Can we still — we need to get off the bus.”

“Meian, it’s fine,” he interrupted. “You go ahead. We’ll get there eventually, just wait for us at the airport.”

“Alright. Make sure you make it, Sakusa-kun.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He hung up and exchanged stares with Atsumu. “They left. We need to get on the 8 a.m. bus.”

Atsumu groaned and smacked a hand on his face. “Wonderful.”

He glanced at the key cards still in Atsumu’s hand. “If we have some time, I’m gonna go shower. Let’s meet back here in 20.”

The lady seemed to have picked up the fact that there was something wrong. She cleared her throat. “Um, may I help you? If you need to go to Puerto Princesa, our hotel also provides van service going there. Next one is at 8 a.m. So no need for bus.”

He frowned, considering. He didn’t really want to suffer through a bumpy ride in a crowded bus again. A van service sounded nice. He glanced at Atsumu, who shrugged. “Sounds like less of a hassle that way,” he said. Atsumu looked at the lady and said, “Can we be dropped off at the airport?”

She nodded eagerly. “Yes, direct transfer.”

Great. We’ll take it. 8 a.m.?”

“8 a.m.,” she agreed. “That’s 1,000 pesos each.”

They paid and returned to their respective rooms. Kiyoomi took a shower, trying to quell the anxiety. It was going to be fine. If they left at 8 a.m. on the dot, then they can be at the airport by past 1 p.m. The local airport was very small, from what he’d seen last time, so they can easily navigate it and make their 2 p.m. flight back to the capital.

By the time he finished his bath, he was feeling much better.

But of course everything just had to go wrong in a truly amazing case of Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and all that. And it did.

It was just him, Atsumu, and an American couple in the van and the ride was extremely nauseating. The driver sped through the winding mountain roads and Kiyoomi found himself gripping the seats for purchase as his body was forcefully rocked from side to side.

“Jeez, is this a rollercoaster ride or what,” Atsumu muttered from where he was seated an arm’s length away from Kiyoomi. They were at the very back of the van, ignoring each other for the most part. They never really got along. In fact, Kiyoomi would go so far as to say they disliked each other. Immensely.

“Is it going to be like this for five hours?” he asked, blanching at the thought.

“Looks like it,” Atsumu said flippantly. He sat back and stretched his legs. “I’m gonna take a nap.”

A nap would make time pass by faster, he thought. He settled down as best as he could and it didn’t take much time at all before he was asleep. He was still exhausted from the night before, he didn’t even know how many hours of sleep he had managed.

He was once again dragged into wakefulness by a phone call. Jerking awake, he picked it up. “Meian?”

“Where are you?” Meian said, sounding worried. “We’re here at the airport already. The flight’s in an hour.”

His stomach clenched with sudden panic as he realized they weren’t moving. He looked around — the driver wasn’t in his seat, the van door was open, and Atsumu was still sleeping. He gripped his shoulder and shook it, hard. Atsumu woke up crankily, scowling and looking around with a narrow-eyed stare.

“Excuse me,” Kiyoomi said, trying to catch the attention of the couple they were with. “Could you tell us what's happening?”

“We’re only halfway through,” the woman informed them. “The van broke down a couple hours ago.”

Increasingly alarmed, he checked the time on his phone: 12:50 p.m. He was awash with a fresh wave of anxiety as he realized, ‘We’re not gonna make it.’

His phone was taken from his slack grip. In a surprisingly calm voice, Atsumu spoke. “Meian, we’re not going to make it. Our van broke down, we’re nowhere near.” Pause. “No, calm down. We can’t do anything about it now.” Pause. “Okay, we appreciate that. Let us know. But Meian — get on the plane. I’m serious. If the country’s imposing a travel ban tomorrow then there’s no point if we all got stuck here.” Pause. “Yes, yes. Of course, we’ll keep trying to find a way. Okay. Bye.”

Atsumu hung up then rested his face on his hand, groaning. “What the fuck. What the fuck. I’ve got to be dreaming or some shit. This can’t be happening.”

“What did Meian say?” he demanded.

“He said they’ll try to see if there was another flight back to Manila. And then...if there’s another flight back to Osaka.”

They exchanged loaded glances, not needing to acknowledge the low chances of that. When they were booking flights to Manila from Osaka there were only three a day, and two of them were in the morning. Not to mention the fact that tourists were all rushing home — it was going to be a battle trying to get on a flight now.

“Yo, Omi-kun,” Atsumu suddenly said. “You gotta breathe.”

He tried to do what he asked but he was finding it hard what with the sudden tightness of his chest. He just wanted to go home. Everything was going wrong.

“Hey,” Atsumu said in a surprisingly gentle voice. “Hey, it’s not so bad. If we do get stuck, at least it’s in paradise, right? The season’s over, we have no obligations waiting for us back home, so just think of it as extending our vacation, yeah? El Nido’s really nice. The lockdown probably won’t take long, and there are agencies that could help us, probably…”

It took a while, but the panic attack eventually subsided. Once it did, he was thinking much clearer.

There was nothing to do about it now. He wasn’t the only one inconvenienced, he thought, glancing at the couple who were talking in low voices. And there were probably thousands who were getting stranded in foreign countries, just like them.

Sometimes, shit happens. Atsumu was right, at least they were in paradise.

As the driver tried to figure out what was wrong with the engine and Atsumu tapped on his phone with a frown, Kiyoomi tried to make peace with the probability that he will be stuck here for an indefinite amount of time.

When the call came, he took a deep breath and told Atsumu to put it on loud speaker.

“So,” Meian’s voice blared through the speakers. “It doesn’t look like there’ll be other flights. I’m sending the rest home, but I’ll go back —”

“No,” he interrupted. “Go home, Meian.”

“But —”

“We appreciate it,” Atsumu said. “But seriously, this is kind of our fault.” Guilt edged into Atsumu’s voice. “Sorry, Cap. We’ll be fine, we’ll just return to the resort, this is their van anyway. Doesn’t look like it will be fixed soon.”

“But —”

“We’ll be fine,” Kiyoomi repeated. “Extended vacation or whatever.” He wasn’t totally convinced, but what choice did he have but to accept it?

“Get on the plane, Meian,” Atsumu said.

Meian sighed. “I’ll call every day,” he said morosely. “We all will. Maybe we can send care packages...”

That made Atsumu snort. “Sure. Don’t worry, Omi-Omi and I will have fun here. We’ll totally have the time of our lives! Right, Omi-kun?”

Atsumu glanced at him, an eyebrow raised, and he rolled his eyes. He said, drily, “Sure.”

Stuck on an island with Miya Atsumu. It shouldn’t be too bad, right?