"People talk to you, then they love you.
They want everything, then they shoot you."
I grieve in stereo.
The stereo sounds strange.
I know that if you hide,
It doesn't go away"
“I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. Don’t touch anything.”
The door slams, and Atsumu is alone.
The month that he hasn’t set foot in this apartment feels more like a lifetime as he turns and takes in the off-white walls that used to make him feel at home only a couple of weeks ago. Right now, all they make him feel is cold.
He finally finishes putting his coat on the hanger. Atsumu’s eyes skim over the other garments – the closet a lot more empty looking than usual, without Sakusa’s heavy black coat taking up one-third of the space. The coat he was wearing just now, as he ran out to go get their order. ‘So they can talk.’
Atsumu scoffs and tries not to think of another, more brightly coloured jacket – the eye-catching green and yellow still shamefully hidden underneath his pillow. Well, Samu’s spare pillow, really. He wonders if Kiyoomi misses it. He hadn’t mentioned the jacket even once, over the past few weeks.
Then again, they had barely spoken at all.
Atsumu himself hadn’t talked to anyone, really, except for Samu (and Rin, but that was mostly food related, so it doesn’t count).
It had always been unclear to Atsumu what people meant when they talked about undying loyalty between siblings. Of course he was loyal to Osamu. Whenever something happened either twin, the other would be there to help him – after laughing a little. Or a lot, depending on the situation. It just seemed natural.
He sees that different, now.
Samu has been by his side every step of the way. He’d asked no questions when Atsumu stood on his doorstep with only the clothes on his back and red-rimmed eyes. Atsumu knows that this is also the reason why Suna hadn’t been around as much as usual. A rare show of quiet care – not a single teasing word thrown his way as Rintarou left the twins to themselves as much as one could in their shared apartment. None of this is his brother’s or Rin’s price to pay, but he appreciates it nonetheless.
Atsumu shakes his head violently, trying to get rid of the same circling thoughts plaguing him yet again. He tries to distract himself by stomping towards the living room – revelling in this small act of rebellion. Sakusa had always hated it when he did that. It fills the setter with a petty sort of relief, even if Kiyoomi isn’t exactly around right now.
Atsumu’s step falters when he turns the corner – confronted with the same old cabinets and bookshelves lining the wall closest to him. It’s not that he had forgotten what Sakusa’s living room looked like. Nor does the fact that shelves are still lined with books pull his attention.
He’s frozen solid because of the picture frames; still lining the mahogany shelves in elegant disarray, just as they had for the last year.
‘Why hasn’t he taken them down? Any of them?’
Against his better judgement, Atsumu lets his eyes roam over the pictures. Over the memories of the two of them. He doesn’t get why Kiyoomi left them up. The thought of Sakusa being too lazy to get up and clean – hiding the pictures in some sort of box in the attic is laughable.
It makes no sense. Sakusa had always been efficient through and through – getting rid of the things that didn’t serve him anymore. But what good could these pictures do, aside from their sentimental value? There has to be something else. For all his clinginess and love for hugs and other small affections, Sakusa had never been the sentimental one in their relationship. Those rights had been saved for Atsumu.
His eyes jump from picture to picture.
The two of them in the gym – Atsumu beaming at the camera as he holds on to Sakusa’s waist, the wing spiker’s arm steady around his neck. He flinches at the memory, refusing to focus on Kiyoomi’s expression in the image – that small but happy smile that had shocked Hinata enough for him to drop Atsumu’s phone right after taking the picture.
Kiyoomi and Atsumu, leaning against each other under a roof of cherry blossoms in the park – the two of them back to back as Atsumu inspects a single pale pink flower that had drifted down into his lap, courtesy of Suna’s standard sneaky photography.
He looks away after spotting the last picture. It had been his favourite for the longest time. Kiyoomi in front of the ocean; his hair backlit by the setting sun as he looks back at Atsumu – surrounded by the pinks and pale purples of the darkening sky. He hadn’t really been smiling, but the gaze in his eyes told an onlooker everything they needed to know when it came to the way Kiyoomi felt about the photographer. About Atsumu.
Or at least, that’s what he had thought, back then.
It’s enough to finally make him tear away his gaze, his eyes focused only on the floor as he walks to the couch, none of his earlier energy present in his movements.
“Just sit an wait, Miya,” he mutters grumpily, trying to regain some of that angry energy that had fuelled him while driving here. “Don’t touch anythin because yer a toddler, Miya.”
For a moment, Atsumu legitimately thinks that he has just suffered a heart attack. Which honestly wouldn’t be that weird if you suddenly hear someone screech behind you when you think you’re alone.
He turns around as quickly as possible; looking around wildly while checking for the intruder – his mind racing the whole time. Atsumu knows that he’s a professional athlete; a solid mass of muscle and strength, but he’s never been much of a fighter. Except for his brawls with Samu, maybe, but it’s been years since they had a serious scuffle, and-
“Miya! Miya!” the voice yells again – and this time, it’s very clear where it’s coming from.
Slowly, Atsumu turns.
There – in the corner of the room, stands a tall white cage upon a pedestal, and inside the cage sits…
Every thought about bright jackets or painful pictures has been wiped from Atsumu’s mind as he stares at what very clearly is a parrot.
His stare is returned with equal intensity – clever black eyes taking in every step the setter takes forward as he approaches the bird. The parrot ruffles his feathers a bit, cocking its head curiously as the human comes closer.
Atsumu almost feels like he’s dreaming, bewildered anxiety giving way for delight as he grins at the bird.
‘Why the fuck is there a parrot here? Kiyoomi never told Atsumu about wanting a pet before? A dog, maybe. Someday… but he definitely hadn’t ever mentioned a bird of any kind.”
He stops in front of the cage, mesmerized by the small squawk the creature lets out as it cocks its neck a little more to look up at the human.
“Ya can talk?” he asks the parrot eagerly, admiring the fluent way bright colours mix and fade into each other – painting the feathers in spectacular hues. At the very least, this bird is stunning.
“Can ya say what I say?” Atsumu tries again, when the parrot doesn’t answer.
It lets out an unintelligible noise in response. And then…
“Yes, I'm Miya,” Atsumu says, entranced by the animal before him. “Miya Atsumu.”
“Atsumu, Atsumu,” the bird squawks.
He laughs as he plays with the parrot a little – smiling every time it yells his own name back at him. He steps back after a couple of minutes, reaching for the glass of water Sakusa had put out for him, just before his arrival. It’s his favourite one, with the tiny Shiba Inu’s.
The swift piercing sensation in his chest at the sight isn’t enough to fully distract Atsumu from the bird as it continues screeching, but it causes him to freeze more slowly than he would have done otherwise, when it calls out to him again.
“What?” Atsumu laughs after he swallows, raising the glass back to his lips to take another sip. “I’m still here, aren’t I? Ya got something to tell me?”
“Love Atsumu,” the bird screeches.
Atsumu drops the glass.
Water splatters everywhere. By some miracle, the glass doesn't shatter – touching the edge of the carpet first, before hitting the ground with a dull thud and rolling away on its side.
Atsumu pays it no mind as he strides back to the bird, trying to move quickly while at the same time watching out not to slip and break his neck because of the small puddle on the floor.
“What did you say?”
“No! no!” Atsumu repeats, desperation rising up to swallow him whole as he reaches out and slightly shakes the cage. “What did ya say before?”
His knuckles are white where they’re holding on to the metal, and the parrot doesn’t seem to appreciate it in the slightest. Its brightly coloured head turns in all directions to inspect the noises, rustling its feathers uncomfortably as its screeches take a higher tone, and Atsumu quickly lets go of the cage.
How low he had sunk, to beg a bird for some sweet words. He must have truly lost his mind, so desperate to hear what he wants that he-
“Atsumu,” he repeats beseechingly, trying to drown out his own thoughts. He says it a couple more times, hoping to trigger the parrot with the name. “Atsumu Miya... At-”
“Love you, Atsumu. Love you! Love Atsumu!”
“Hey?! What the hell did you-? Why is there water on the floor? Miya?”
Atsumu doesn’t answer. Tears still run down his cheeks in silent streaks as he kneels in front of the cage, incapable of looking anywhere but at the bird.
He catches the exact moment Kiyoomi spots him – a pitiful heap of setter’s limbs and strong thighs looking absolutely powerless in the low lighting.
The tears don’t stop.
Kiyoomi rushes towards Atsumu, dropping to his knees without pause as he reaches out. His hands are trembling as they lift Atsumu’s jaw; inspecting his face and body for injuries he won't find. Not when it's Atsumu’s heart that is aching.
He can't deal with this.
Sakusa's soft fingertips are scorching his face; burning his skin with every careful touch. A high whine rips itself from the back of Atsumu’s throat, his body physically incapable of keeping all the hurt inside any longer.
The sound makes Sakusa’s efforts even more frantic in turn. “Atsu, what is it? Why are you crying?”
Atsumu cries even harder at the sound of that name flowing from Kiyoomi's lips again.
It's been weeks, and he is starving.
He doesn't bother asking where the parrot learned those words. Kiyoomi has never let people randomly enter his apartment when they wanted to – Komori being the exception, and he can hardly be called a random visitor.
He tries to tell Sakusa what happened, but the words won't come out.
Kiyoomi's expression gets more and more worried the longer Atsumu struggles to speak.
“Are you hurt-, do you need to-? Atsumu, please tell me what's going on?! You're freaking me-”
He shuts up when he's interrupted by a tell-tale screech.
Kiyoomi blanches. For all the jokes their team has made about his light complexion before, he has never looked quite as pale as he does right now.
“Atsumu! I lo-”
“Shut up, Kookie!” Kiyoomi snaps, and the bird screeches back, happy with the attention of its owner.
“Shut up! Shut up!”
Sakusa keeps staring over the top of Atsumu's head, his eyes fixed on the cage, even when Kookie quiets down. He looks too terrified to move. Too terrified to look back down at Miya, and see… what, exactly?
He finally moves when a hand enters his view. It points a trembling finger at the bird.
“Why…” Atsumu croaks, “why does he say those things? When you haven't... When you could never-? -never before?”
“It just… It is what it is.”
“It is what it is,” Atsumu mimics, wiping the tears from his eyes with harsh movements so that he can glare at Sakusa better. “What the fuck does that even mean? You’re coming with all of this now?! When I come over to get my stuff?”
“-no,” he continues with a hollow laugh, interrupting Kiyoomi before he can try to defend himself, “it’s still not you who said it. Only your fucking bird. Imagine, Omi; If you’d bought that feathered fuck earlier it just might have saved us.”
Kiyoomi’s face turns away like Atsumu’s words had slapped him. “I didn't tell you to go,” he says, still without looking at the blonde kneeling in front of him. “You left on your own.”
“Don’t blame me for this?! Ya know why I left! I asked you, and ya didn’t defend yourself one bit. I just got ya wrong. The person you turned out to be wasn’t the one who I thought I had a relationship with.”
“I am that person,” Kiyoomi hisses. “I have never been anything but honest with you.”
“Ya are?” Atsumu drawls. He’s digging his nails into his palms so deeply that he’s likely to draw blood. Anything to feel like he isn’t tearing apart at the seams. “I thought ya never half-assed things, Kiyoomi?”
“I asked you what ya felt for me!” Atsumu shouts, suddenly livid. “And you said nothing. Ya just stood there! And stared! What did ya want me to think then, huh?! I asked so! Many! Times!”
“It hadn’t been that long! I-”
“It’d been months?! And that’s without counting all the fucking that happened before. Guess it wasn’t too soon for that, ey, Omi?”
Colour creeps back into Sakusa’s cheeks, staining them dark red with anger and hurt alike.
“It was more than obvious how I felt! You know how these things are for me, I thought you’d-”
“Well, it wasn't obvious to me. I understand that ya don’t always wanna be touched, an I respect it, I swear! But ya have to give me something, okay? I won’t be the only one who’s feeling things! I can’t do it, knowing that I love you, and ya don’t… Ya don’t feel…”
Sakusa looks sick to his stomach.
The truth tears itself from his mouth – and it’s like hearing a third person speak. Like looking at yourself from a distance – just as surprised as the others around you, when you hear the syllables spill from your lips.
Kiyoomi closes his eyes – and for a moment, it’s just like when he practiced in front of the mirror in the morning. Just like all the times he said it to Kookie, for practice. Like all the times he whispered it in the shower.
“I love you, Atsumu. I love you. I really do.”
Kiyoomi gasps for breath, but keeps going, his eyes still firmly closed. He doesn’t think Atsumu will care much about it, not as long as it gets him to say the things he has kept inside for so long.
“I’ve always felt it, even if I didn’t say it before. I just needed… practice,” he finishes weakly. “Don’t leave me again, Atsu, stay here. Please. Just stay here.”
Atsumu stares at him, tears still silently streaming down his cheeks. He hasn’t said yes yet, exactly, but he hasn’t shaken his head or said no either, and that gives Kiyoomi all the hope he needs to keep fighting.
The begging comes naturally and without shame. Sakusa Kiyoomi is a proud man. Most people who have spoken to him could tell you that in an instant. But there is nothing pitiful or shameful about fighting for the man currently crying in front of him. Nothing at all.
“What do you want?” he asks shakily, the overwhelming mix of emotions finally catching up with him. “Is it still me?”
For a moment, Atsumu just sits there, frozen.
But when he opens his mouth, he says the exact thing Kiyoomi hadn’t allowed himself to hope for.
“I want everythin. I’ll always demand everythin ya can give me.”
“f’course. That’s also what I have always given ya, in turn.”
Kiyoomi isn’t quite sure if he’s awake or not. It’s as if he can finally breathe again, finally hear sound in a world that has been quiet for weeks. The relief is overwhelming, but it also hurts. It’s all a bit too much… And if Atsumu isn’t sure about this…
Kiyoomi needs him to be sure.
“Please, let’s just try again? We worked so well together, except for… But I do feel it, for you. Being with me will never be like being with someone like yourself… I’ll never be as vocal, Atsumu. I’m trying, but I-”
“I think I can live with that,” Atsumu breathes, “as long as ya give me your 100%. Give me all the love ya have to give, Kiyoomi. I’ll be more than happy with that.”
As if in slow motion, Sakusa reaches out again. But this time, his Miya – his Atsu, meets him halfway. His body naturally moves into Kiyoomi’s embrace, just like it had for the past year, with the exception of that one torturous month. The setter’s cheek is wet where it presses against the pale skin of his throat, but the tears themselves have stopped.
Neither can tell whether they have been clinging to each other for minutes or for hours when Atsumu finally speaks again.
“Please let me kiss ya, Omi,” he breathes into Kiyoomi’s ear as their hold on each other tightens even more. “Please?”
Kiyoomi doesn’t say anything. He merely moves his head back a little, until he’s facing Atsumu again – cradling those blotchy cheeks with his forever-chilly fingers as he presses soft kisses onto his boyfriend’s lips for the first time in weeks. And again. And again.
Eventually, they are so exhausted from the onslaught of emotions and lack of oxygen that they shuffle towards the sofa together, still hugging, even when they clumsily let themselves fall backwards into the pillows.
The both of them seem afraid to let go of each other for even a second – as if their lover will turn into mist and slip through their fingers yet again, and into oblivion.
Atsumu can feel how the tension is still locked tight in Kiyoomi’s muscles as they cuddle, causing slight twitches all over the wing spiker’s body.
“What is it, Omi? Tell me…?”
There’s a shuddering gasp, and then: “…don’t leave me again. Never do it again. Please, never.”
“Never,” Atsumu swears.
They don’t move or talk for over an hour. Neither of them needs to. They embrace the silence as they do each other, using the time and emotional safety to let themselves heal, slowly but surely. Their food has probably long gone cold where Kiyoomi dropped it onto the kitchen table earlier.
Even Kookie has been remarkably quiet.
A quick glance over the top of the couch shows Atsumu that the bird is snoozing, and probably has been for a while. It makes him think.
He stops and coughs for a second, his voice hoarse from all the earlier yelling and crying. He continues when he feels like his voice won’t creak like the floor of an abandoned pirate ship.
“I forgot to ask. Why did you call him Kookie? The parrot?”
Kiyoomi blinks sleepily up at him from where his cheek is squished to Atsumu’s sternum. “Well, that’s how it goes, right? Isn’t that… Don’t you kinda have to? Because… cookies?”
He stares up at Atsumu’s wide eyes, pointing to the cage when the other man remains silent. His finger is still trembling slightly. “It’s a parrot, Tsumu?” He says, his face blank, “what other option is there?”
Atsumu breathes in and out very slowly, trying to hold back.
It’s on his third breath in that he loses it. It starts with half a snigger before the true laughter breaks through, pouring out of him and echoing off the walls. His Omi still looks confused, but pleased that he made Atsumu laugh at the same time. Unconcerned, the wing spiker lays back down and relaxes, his face pressed into the warm skin above the setter’s collar bones as Atsumu’s chest shakes beneath him as he continues to laugh.
Atsumu hiccups, squinting down as he lets his hand pet into dark curls, his voice affectionate as he mutters: “yer such a dork, Omi-omi. I can’t believe I have such a shitty taste in men.”
“Sucks to be you,” Sakusa mumbles into his throat, but Atsumu can feel the smile against his skin. “All sales were final; no refunds allowed. Guess you’re stuck with me now.”
Atsumu laughs again.
Kiyoomi grunts in protest, and Atsumu pulls his hair a little in revenge. He’s allowed to be sappy right now.
He smiles when Sakusa clenches his arms slightly, showing his appreciation for the gesture after all, and holding him even tighter.
Atsumu closes his eyes, sagging back into the couch pillows and his boyfriend’s warm embrace alike.
Then, he blinks them back open.
“Hey?! Do ya reckon I could get Kookie to call ya Omi-omi as well?”
Sakusa groans pitifully.
They’ll be just fine.