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Stick With You

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There was no stemming the tears. He didn’t know how he could be expected to.

“Oh come on,” Kiyoomi told him. “At least say your vows first.”

He sniffled and wiped his cheek. “Shut up, I’m trying.”

It was a perfect day. It was technically rainy season in the Philippines but the skies were clear and cloudy. The salty breeze wafted around them, but in no way dried Atsumu’s tears.

Today, he was marrying the love of his life.

Truthfully, they were already civil partners. They had signed the necessary documents in Japan and had Kiyoomi’s name changed from Sakusa to Miya earlier in the year, because they wanted matching jerseys in the recently concluded Summer Olympics. They had bagged silver, which they were happy enough about. Two weeks later, they were headed to Palawan for their ceremony.

And now here they were, on the very beach where they fell in love.

The wedding ceremony was more for them and their loved ones rather than any kind of formality. Gay marriage wasn’t legal in the Philippines. They weren’t even holding a wedding, exactly — it was a hand-fasting. He didn’t know whose idea that was. Esme, probably.

Most of everyone they loved were here. Their teammates were sobbing from where they sat, Osamu looked like he couldn’t believe what was happening, and Komori was trying not to look moved but his eyebrows were giving him away. Atsumu’s parents were looking at him proudly, and even Kiyoomi’s family looked reluctantly touched. His parents felt bad about how they initially reacted and offered to pay for the guests’ flights. Apparently, their El Nido video was enough to change their minds.

Kiyoomi vengefully accepted their offer.

And of course, all the friends they made in the Philippines were in attendance: Maria, Lydia, Blas, Heidi, Christina, Jun — everyone was here. Isla and Dagat sat on the front row, quietly watching their parents get married beside Brownie.

In a strange twist of fate, the elusive old man they had once seen during the hotel’s anniversary last year was here again. Apparently his name was Jonas and he was a pastor based in Manila who got stranded while visiting a distant cousin.

And he was the one officiating the ceremony.

Atsumu had asked him if he minded, and he just declared that the Church’s teachings were “outdated.” That settled, they started planning and they all agreed to hold the ceremony in English so everyone would understand.

It was a simple affair, held on the beachside of the resort they previously stayed in. Wooden chairs sat on the sand in neat rows, covered with flowy white cloth that matched the one hanging on the archway they were standing under. Yellow acacias lined the aisle, culminating at the center, the only spot of color in the otherwise plain event.

Neither the place nor their love needed any extra embellishment to make it beautiful.

Gathering himself, Atsumu took a deep breath and began.

“Kiyoomi. You once told me that what we have was born of random circumstances. And maybe that’s true. After all, I’ve known you since we were just two 15-year-olds whose only common thing was a love for a sport and nothing else. Why you? Why now? It doesn’t make sense, so I was almost inclined to agree. But there’s something I keep coming back to lately, something I think even you don’t know.”

Kiyoomi frowned at him in curiosity.

Atsumu smiled to himself. He’d been keeping this in for so long, wondering when to bring it up. But this was the perfect time. “I don’t think you ever stopped to wonder why it was the two of us in the room that night, or why we were together when we got left behind. I don’t think you remember at all. Do you?”

Kiyoomi shook his head slowly, eyes fixed on Atsumu’s face.

“You were so drunk.” He grinned mischievously, laughing a little. “You were so drunk and you blamed me — and you were right to — and you demanded I take responsibility and take care of you, because you thought you were about to get sick. And you were clinging to my arm, which I found weird, because you never touched anyone, ever — and then you let go and you started walking away, back to the resort. I remember thinking — I can’t let him go alone. I gotta take care of him, like he said. So I followed you, without really knowing why. We didn’t even like each other. But I helped you to bed, and I stayed with you because I was worried you’d puke in your sleep and die. I watched you for a long time. I don’t remember falling asleep. And the next day, well — everyone was gone, and we were stuck.”

“I can’t believe you’re embarrassing me on our wedding day,” Kiyoomi said, sounding somewhat amazed and disbelieving.

He laughed again. “Sorry. I’m just trying to say — there were a lot of things that spiraled out of our control, but you chose to come to me that night, and I chose to follow you. If we didn’t make those decisions, where would we be?

“I don’t know how we somehow ended up here. Maybe it was a stroke of luck, or maybe the universe just kept throwing us together until something stuck. Or maybe, just maybe, we were waiting for the right place and the right time. And the right place was a small town called El Nido, and the right time was one drunken night out you don’t even remember.”

Kiyoomi’s eyes filled with tears.

“Or maybe you’re right, it was all just chance. Whatever the reason, there’s nothing about you, or us, or our story that I would wish to change. At the end of the day I get to come home to you, and it doesn’t matter how we got here, or where we’re headed, as long as I’m with you. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” His voice wavered and he started to sob. “And I love you with all my heart.”

Kiyoomi was crying earnestly now. Atsumu clumsily tried to wipe his tears. He could hear someone blowing their nose and another who was quietly sobbing. It sounded like Osamu.

“Miya Atsumu, you’re the worst.” Kiyoomi sniffled. “I’ve been saying that since high school because it’s true.”

Atsumu chuckled wetly.

“I think many people wouldn’t really understand,” Kiyoomi began quietly, “what it’s like to live with chronic pain since you’re young...knowing that there’s something inherently wrong with you, and it’s nobody’s fault. I live in constant fear that things outside of my control would break me, because I may be used to pain, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I’m always expecting the worst. I’m always bracing for impact. And I worked really hard to get strong, but I always knew I’d never really get fixed. I have no choice but to live with it every day — to take care of myself and protect myself at all costs.”

His heart ached. He’d seen with his own eyes what it was like to bear with that pain constantly.

“I say you’re the worst because you’re everything I’m not. You’re careless, and reckless, and wild, and free. You’re everything I ever wanted to be, and maybe that's why I hated you so much. I'm weighted down by gravity, but you — you’re a meteorite, streaking across space. And by some stroke of fate, you’ve crashed into my land. And you...had the biggest impact.

“Remember that day on this very beach? It started raining and instead of running for shelter, you ran straight into the water. I watched you and wondered how anyone could be so crazy. And then I followed you. And you told me...sometimes, you gotta take the bad and breathe.

“Easier said than done. But living by it became easy when you decided you wanted to stay by my side. Every day, you teach me how to say... we’ll take whatever comes. And that not knowing is the fun part. There's nothing wrong with chance. After all, no one knows when a meteor would crash — it turned out well in my case.”

Fresh tears started sliding down Atsumu's cheeks and this time, he didn’t bother to wipe them away.

“I didn’t know what it meant to live until you showed me, and now I don’t want to live this life without you. With you, I’m brave. With you, I’m free. And you will never understand how much that means to me. You said I could be anything with you so I’m choosing to be in love with you for the rest of time. You changed my life. Thank you.”

Atsumu wept into his hands, trying to cover the display of vulnerability, to no avail. “You changed my life, too,” he sobbed. “I love you.”

When they got a hold of themselves, they linked their hands as Pastor Jonas wrapped a cord around their wrists. They were tying their futures together, metaphorically and literally, and Atsumu thought he couldn’t possibly want more than this.

And then it was done.

The world burst into cheers when they kissed.


The moon lit their room as they lay intertwined in a familiar bed.

Kiyoomi traced Atsumu’s features, staring at his face intently as if he’d never seen it before. His dark eyes glimmered in the night.

“It’s done,” Kiyoomi finally said. “You’re mine now.”

Atsumu smiled. “Your name has literally been Miya Kiyoomi for months now.”

“Well, now you’re mine again,” Kiyoomi said, as if that corrected things.

Atsumu just chuckled. “I am.”

“And again and again and again...right?’’

His heart swelled. “Right. For the rest of our lives.”

Kiyoomi gave him a pleased smile, lips curving and cracking his normally impenetrable face. “Good.”

“Can you believe that just over a year ago, we hated each other?”

His husband let out a quiet laugh. “Feels like forever...I still hate you sometimes.”

“But you love me always?” Atsumu smiled, already knowing the answer.

“I’ll love you always,” Kiyoomi promised in a voice as soft as a whisper.

Atsumu leaned in and kissed him, sealing the vow with a kiss. As their bodies met once again, they moved in a dance only they knew the steps to in a beat only they could hear.

No one else needed to understand. The two of them could live in the world alone, in the paradise they found in each other.