Kiyoomi has a list of the most mortifying moments in his life. It goes like this:
- The time he asked Ushijima Wakatoshi from his All-Japan Youth Volleyball Training Camp to go out with him. The act itself was not embarrassing, but the amount of snot-nosed sobbing that followed the break-up three weeks later was; culminating in his spectacular meltdown outside a Gong Cha inside the local mall while he’d been waiting for Motoya to retrieve their orders. It was three days after he’d been dumped. The mall’s soundtrack started blasting Kiss Me Thru the Phone, an American song that Kiyoomi had mentally attached to his long-distance relationship- without Wakatoshi’s input- and he’d simply burst into tears. Motoya was, understandably, distressed when he found Kiyoomi wailing like a banshee. “It’s our song,” Kiyoomi had bawled into his cousin’s chest, earning himself concerned glances from plenty of passers-by, while Motoya desperately tried to placate him. For obvious reasons, it capped the list by a pretty high margin.
- A particularly wet day in his third year of high school, when he’d needed to use the outdoor staircase to cross campus from class to the gym. The slip guards hadn’t been installed yet, and someone accidentally elbowed Kiyoomi from behind, sending him tumbling down the stairs. Luckily, it hadn’t been too far from the landing where the stairs twisted around a corner and continued to the ground. What made it extremely embarrassing was the fact that he got up, and then immediately proceeded to slip the rest of the way down, landing on his ass in a muddy puddle.
- His first time trying to blow someone. No need to revisit the specifics of that one, considering Kiyoomi is eighty percent sure he managed to hit every possible do-not on the list. Just saying it hadn’t gone well coupled with the look on his face had been enough to make Motoya physically recoil like Kiyoomi had just handed him roadkill.
This list has been fairly consistent for most of Kiyoomi’s life. Generally, Kiyoomi is what people would call switched-on; a go-getter, responsible and organized. There’s not a lot of room for him to be embarrassed with that kind of an attitude. He’s meticulous and Motoya calls him picky- which he is not, he just has standards, which Motoya wouldn’t know anything about because Motoya thinks wearing the same underwear two days in a row is a perfectly acceptable way of living- and he doesn’t drink or smoke or, God forbid, vape, and he limits himself to one random one-night stand every two months. He’s capable. He’s reliable. He’s competent.
He’s also currently standing in front of the confectionery aisle in a 24-hour convenience store, clutching his niece’s hand so tightly he thinks he might break her bones, while simultaneously becoming acutely aware of the significant lack of weight in his left-side ass pocket. This is where his wallet should be and is decidedly not, which is how the knowledge that his sister’s other four kids are nowhere to be found is dawning on him with slow-creeping horror. It is, in fact, dead silent in the convenience store. The only sounds are the faint, tinny J-pop song playing from the half-failing speakers and the hum of the freezers somewhere in the distance. So no children. No Kiyoomi’s wallet. No hope for Kiyoomi now.
There are several decisions Kiyoomi made that lead him here. Every single one of them was a mistake. Kiyoomi was born essentially a single child to a pair of working parents with two nearly-grown children, aged fifteen and twelve. By the time Kiyoomi was old enough to remember anything about them, Itsumi was a pre-med student in Kyoto and Hisaichi was studying internationally. His parents spent most of their time working, with already well-established careers to care for, and Kiyoomi spent most of his childhood with his cousin Motoya and the rest of the Komoris; his mother’s brother’s family.
Being an adult means making choices, though, and Kiyoomi- in a moment of what must have been absolute insanity- decided that fostering a relationship with his adult siblings was the mature, responsible thing to do. Hisaichi had been harder to reach, given the time difference between Japan and Los Angeles. Itsumi, on the other hand, was much closer, a mere Skype call away when neither of them could find time away from their jobs for the commute between Tokyo and Osaka.
Sakusa Itsumi has just turned forty. She’s a neurosurgeon, married to Sakusa Tadao, also a surgeon- cardiothoracic- who she met during her residency and somehow conned into taking her last name. They work at different hospitals in Tokyo so as to avoid having their personal relationship affect their workplace environment, and they have five children.
Sakusa Itsumi loves one thing more than being their parents’ blatantly favourite child, and that is her children, which means Kiyoomi is so very, very dead. He’s pretty sure it’s illegal for youngest children to be allowed to babysit anything. Motoya says Kiyoomi can’t take care of plants because of the “youngest-child genes”- which is stupid, because it’s most certainly not genetic- and Kiyoomi never bothered with pets after a boyfriend in college won him two goldfish at a cultural festival. Kiyoomi managed to kill both of them in just under two weeks. So what if all of Kiyoomi’s plants are plastic? It doesn’t mean anything. Plants are just a hassle, and he’s busy.
This is what he tried to tell Itsumi when she asked him to babysit for a night while she and her husband attended a work-related event. When that hadn’t worked, Kiyoomi had cited a lack of experience at any kind of baby-sitting, which he thought was a really compelling argument. Babysitters should be experienced, and he’d not even had a part-time job until college. Itsumi had ruled out Hisaichi and their parents on the grounds of them all being overseas, leaving Kiyoomi as her last resort before entrusting them to a stranger, with heavy implications about Kiyoomi’s duty as a member of the family.
Family was the buzzword of late, and the whole reason Kiyoomi had reached out to Itsumi in the first place, and begrudgingly, he had agreed. Never before has he regretted a decision so wholeheartedly.
First of all, Itsumi’s children are insane. Riko is fifteen going on twenty-five with an attitude. Yukiya dresses in all black, has one side of his head shaved, and a lip ring. He’s thirteen. Apparently, Kiyoomi’s mother thinks this is an endearing trait, but when Kiyoomi got his ear pierced when he was sixteen, she had refused to let him leave the house until he surrendered the jewelry to her and let the hole close up. The twelve-year-old twins, Terumi and Teiji, are at each other’s throats like cats and dogs constantly, and Kiyoomi is near a nervous breakdown from being in the middle of their warzone. Miori, at least, is reasonable and polite- at least as reasonable and polite as an eight year old can be- and likes normal eight-year-old things like horses and the colour pink.
And now, four terrible terrors armed with Kiyoomi’s wallet and plans for mass destruction have been unleashed on Tokyo, because Kiyoomi caved into their late-night demands for sweets due to the selfish reason that he really, really couldn’t cope with another tantrum tonight. He thought he could be the cool uncle. Mistake! Huge mistake! He is very much not the cool uncle right now. Right now, he’s the uncle about to have a heart attack and give Miori the fun little experience of an ambulance ride, before Itsumi finds out he lost her children and permanently rearranges his brain.
He’s dead. He’s so dead. He’s beyond dead.
“Whoa,” Miori says, snapping him back to the present. Miori has wandered away from him, stretching his arm out as far as it can go with her little hand still clasped in his. “You’re pretty.”
Oh, God. This moment pings from a good, solid number three right up to number one-point-five on the list of his most embarrassing moments. Because he is! The stranger witnessing him having his mental breakdown with one hand grabbing his own ass hard enough to bruise is possibly the most attractive man alive. He’s tall- not quite as tall as Kiyoomi, but close- with sun-tanned skin and platinum blonde hair offset by a dark brown undercut. His shoulders are broad, his waist tapered, his thighs near bulging in his tight-fit jeans. His eyes are sparkling and honey-amber in colour as he grins crookedly down at Miori. It’s like he’s just lodged six consecutive horny-arrows directly into Kiyoomi’s heart. Critical fatality.
“Do you want to marry me?” Miori asks, eyes wide in the earnest manner only children can emulate. Kiyoomi goes violently red. This is not happening. This can’t be happening. His eight year old niece can not be hitting on a stranger. What if he’s a child-kidnapping creep? Kiyoomi can’t take this guy in a fight. He’s broad. He’s fucking tanked, as Motoya would say. If he turns out to be a freak, Kiyoomi is absolutely going to lose in a physical altercation, and then Itsumi will resurrect him just to kill him again. Said stranger also has a six pack of IPA craft beers and two packets of flavoured condoms in his basket, both of which are things an eight year old should not be seeing.
“Hm,” says Sexy Blond, crouching to meet Miori’s eye level, “I think yer too young for me, princess, but that’s real sweet of ya to ask me.”
“Oh.” Miori blinks, surprisingly cool with apparent heartbreak. “Is being old important?”
“Yes ma’am,” he says as he nods, very seriously, and Miori mirrors him. She looks like a bobblehead. “Age is very important. It’s hard to have a good relationship with someone when yer at different places in yer life, and bein’ the same age really helps with that, okay?”
“Okay.” She scrunches up her little face, deep in thought. “Will you marry me when I’m older, then?”
“Miori,” Kiyoomi scolds, his voice so violently disruptive that he jumps, Miori jumps, and Drool-Worthy Stranger also jumps.
“Tell ya what, squirt, ya make it to eighteen, we’ll revisit the question,” Wet-Dream Material says as he straightens up, tugging his shirt down where it’s ridden up a little because it’s all-but-pasted to him. Kiyoomi is not drooling. He’s not. “Now, how ‘bout you, big guy? Is-”
“I don’t want to marry you,” Kiyoomi says, and Belongs On Baywatch quirks one dark brow.
“Uh, well, that’s not what I was gonna ask.” Kiyoomi goes red. “That was more of a lead-in to me askin’ if everything’s alright here, considerin’ ya looked a bit like ya were havin’ some kind of a crisis for a second there.”
“Everything’s fine,” Kiyoomi says, too-quick. He knows it doesn’t land. The look on God-like Body’s face says he’s still suspicious.
“Oji-san?” Miori says, tugging his hand. “Where’s Riko-nee?”
Kiyoomi closes his eyes, slowly, as he feels his face flame. He prays that the ground opens up and swallows him whole. He prays that a whole earthquake rocks Tokyo and brings the place down on him, specifically. He prays that some higher power decides to strike him with lightning right this minute.
“Actually,” he says, grinding it out through clenched teeth, “you haven’t seen any other kids around, have you?”
“No, sorry,” Hottest Man Alive says, shaking his head. “The place was empty when I came in. Hey, are ya sure yer alright-”
“Okay, because ya just closed yer eyes and ya haven’t opened ‘em so-”
“Like I said, I’m fine.”
“Alright, I’m sure ya got it handled, but y’know, I’d have a pretty guilty conscience if I left ya here to have a heart attack so if something’s wrong-”
“I lost my kids,” Kiyoomi whispers. It’s dead silent. In the distance, the cashier drops a pen and swears. “My sister’s kids. I lost them. I think they took my wallet.”
“Ah.” Kiyoomi nods grimly, closes his eyes again and refuses to open them. “Well, shit.”
“You’re not allowed to say that word,” Miori pipes up.
“Right ya are,” Mr. Body agrees, and Kiyoomi cracks open an eye to watch him open his wallet and drop some cash into Miori’s hand. When Tall, Blond and Handsome notices Kiyoomi half-looking, his face creases in concern. “Any clue where they might be headed?”
“Are their parents ‘round, or-”
“My sister can literally never know about this. She’ll kill me, and no one will ever find the body.”
“Okay.” Horny Thought Machine holds up both hands placatingly, basket swinging idly from the crook of his elbow. “D’ya have anyone ya can call to help ya out?”
That’s a great question. Hisaichi has babysat for Itsumi before, but Hisaichi is still semi-responsible despite jet-setting all over the world on a regular basis. Hisaichi might be able to convince his partner, Kimiko, to help, but he’s also closer in age to Itsumi than Kiyoomi is and Hisaichi has two dogs to care for. This means Hisaichi would almost definitely tell Itsumi, because he’s too responsible not to, and his sibling allegiance will always be to his big sister first. Kiyoomi will die before Motoya finds out. Motoya’s not even in Tokyo anyway, and he absolutely wouldn’t be able to keep it secret for long. There’s always Wakatoshi, but that would end in a lecture. Not that Wakatoshi would mean it, or would even really try to scold him, but there are only two people completely impervious to Wakatoshi’s inherent disappointed-father tone and Kiyoomi is not one of them.
“Not… really,” Kiyoomi finally concedes. “No, I don’t.”
“Okay,” says Thighs Galore, and then he whips his phone out of his pocket and taps rapidly at the screen. “I’m almost good to go. Lemme just pay for my sh- stuff and I’ll meet ya in the parking lot.”
“I’m gonna help ya,” he says, like this is the most obvious thing in the world, and not like this is a train of logic Kiyoomi can’t even start to follow. “I can’t let ya handle this on yer own. Ya need backup.”
“I can’t ask you to-”
“Ya didn’t, I offered, and I’m doin’ it, so shut up and deal with it. Time ya spend arguin’ with me is time we’re wastin’.” Kiyoomi knows he’s right. He doesn’t have to like it, though.
“How am I supposed to trust you with this? I don’t even know your name.”
“Miya Atsumu.” He holds out a hand, face determined. Kiyoomi gingerly takes it, and experiences a shake so violent that it almost wrenches his shoulder from the socket.
“Sakusa Kiyoomi,” he says. Miya’s phone starts to buzz violently. He immediately sends the call to voicemail and shoves it back into his pocket. After a brief moment of internal debate, Kiyoomi relents.
Unfortunately, Miya is right. Kiyoomi absolutely cannot handle this on his own, given that minor crises like a screaming match between the twins and Riko attempting to kill Yukiya over the last popsicle had nearly done it for him. Tokyo is a lot bigger than Itsumi’s apartment, and he also has a child still in his care while he hunts down the other little shits. He does need backup, and Miya is probably the only person in Tokyo who can actually give him that. It’s not ideal, but it’s what Kiyoomi is working with. He’s long since been praised for his resourcefulness, and Miya is just another tool to be used. But oh, if he couldn’t think of some better uses for him. Most of them involve both of them naked. Belatedly, he adds;
“This is Miori.”
“Nice to meetcha, Sakusa-san, Miori-chan.” Miori flushes bright red and hides behind Kiyoomi’s leg, suddenly shy, despite the fact that she’d been proposing less than ten minutes prior. He will never understand kids. Miya seems endeared, the weirdo. “Gimme a minute. I’ll be right behind ya.”
“Oji-san, are we not going to pay for our food?” Miori blinks up at him. Kiyoomi gives Miya a helpless look. Wordlessly, Miya takes the treats Miori is holding, and adds them to his basket. Kiyoomi hurries his niece out of the store so that Miya won’t have a chance to see how furiously he’s flushing.
There’s one other car in the parking lot when Kiyoomi straps Miori into her booster seat. Given that this is one more than when Kiyoomi pulled in, he assumes the bright red pickup truck belongs to Miya. His suspicions are confirmed when Miya strides up to it, dumps his things in the passenger seat, and then makes his way to Kiyoomi.
“Nice ride,” he says, grinning crookedly. Kiyoomi glares back, as aggressively as he can. Driving Itsumi’s champagne-coloured minivan had not been on his agenda, but five is an inconvenient number of kids because they don’t fit in regular people cars, which means Kiyoomi had no choice but to use it as his mode of transport for the night, given that he couldn’t very well leave some of the kids home by themselves.
“You can shut up about it, or I’ll leave you here,” Kiyoomi snips. Miya just grins and swings into the passenger seat, tossing a bag of potato chips back to Miori. She lights up, staring at Miya with sparkles in her big, dark eyes.
“Do you like pink?” she asks.
“It’s a great colour,” Miya tells her, with a sage nod. Kiyoomi doesn’t even wait for him to have his seatbelt on to start the car and violently reverse.
Riko’s music is still blasting at full volume when the radio kicks into gear. Miya looks vaguely disturbed, Miori puts both hands over her ears, and Kiyoomi’s eye twitches violently with the effort not to take a hand off the steering wheel and mash buttons until something happens because he cannot for the life of him work the music system in this stupid, fancy car.
“Yeah, that’s about enough of that,” Miya says. He leans across the centre console and fiddles with it until the volume is down by half, and he’s managed to flick through to some J-rock classics. Still not what Kiyoomi would have picked, but it’s better, and Miori looks pleased in the back seat.
“So,” Kiyoomi says, clearing his throat after a beat of blessedly peaceful quiet.
“Ya wanna know what our first move is, huh?” Kiyoomi purses his lips, but he nods. This is true. It’s frustrating that a stranger can read him that well, but there’s really not much point in trying to be obtuse. It’s just on ten, and Itsumi said she probably wouldn’t be back until three at least, which is a decent amount of time but not nearly enough.
“I really don’t have any leads. This is my second time meeting the kids, and they don’t really like me.”
“Have ya considered that might be ‘cause ya look at them like yer hopin’ they spontaneously combust?” Sakusa shoots him a glare that withers. Miya shrugs, sends another call to voicemail. He now has six missed calls from a contact named me (dark mode) and a further three from rin-rin. Strange.
“Do you have anything helpful to contribute, or are you just here to be annoying? I can always drop you off back at your truck, if it’s the latter.”
“Chill,” Miya says, and immediately loses a solid twenty percent of his sex appeal, “it was just a question. How old are they?”
“The eldest is fifteen, and then there’s a thirteen year old and twelve year old twins.”
“Okay so one of ‘em is bound to have a phone at least, right?”
“I guess so? Riko, at the very least, has one because she’s attached to it, but it’s not like I know their numbers-”
Miori sings a string of digits from the back seat. Miya swivels to look at her. Kiyoomi readjusts the rear-vision mirror so he can try to make sharp-eye contact, but Miori is eight and apparently in love with a man who must be at least three times her age, which means he’s not the adult who holds the most attention right now. She makes big moon eyes at Miya, who stretches back to take a chip from her. She lets him. When Terumi had done that at home, Miori had wailed for thirty-two consecutive minutes.
“What are those numbers for, Miori-chan?”
“It’s Riko-nee-chan’s phone,” she proudly states. “Mother makes the big kids tell her each other’s phone numbers so they don’t forget them.”
“Sing it for me again,” Miya says, at the same time Kiyoomi reaches into the center console for his phone. He mashes the numbers into a new contact as Miori repeats them, and then immediately dials it, wedging the phone between his shoulder and his ear.
“Hello?” Riko says over the other end of the line. Kiyoomi really didn’t think he’d get this far, which is probably by the next thing that comes out of his mouth is so, so fucking stupid.
“When I find you,” Kiyoomi seethes, “I am going to make you regret being born. I held you at your birth, Sakusa Riko, and you-”
“Shit,” she says, and then hangs up.
“You’re not supposed to say that word,” Kiyoomi yells into the dead line, shrugging his phone into his lap with a close-lipped scream. Miya looks vaguely concerned, before he reaches across and takes Kiyoomi’s still-unlocked phone from his lap.
“Miori-chan, ya happen to remember the other numbers?”
She does, in fact, happen to remember them, and by the time Miya has entered the other three, Kiyoomi feels less like committing vehicular manslaughter to vent his rage and more like the tidal wave of dread is finally crashing down on his head.
Tokyo is huge. These kids have access to his wallet, with not an insignificant amount of hard cash. That means they can afford to travel, and on top of that he doesn’t know their friends or their habits well enough to draw conclusions about where they might be trying to go. Twelve year olds think they’re bigger than the world, but Terumi and Teiji are both still so little and there’s plenty of dangerous things in the city. Literally anything could happen before he finds them.
He jumps at Miya’s fingers on his thigh. His hand is broad and radiates warmth, seeping into the fabric of Kiyoomi’s trousers and settling bone-deep into his skin. His fingers are surprisingly slender and refined, less square than the rest of him. He doesn’t keep his hand there for long, just long enough to be sure that Kiyoomi’s come back out of his head, before he crooks a gentle smile at him that Kiyoomi hates.
“Hey, deep breaths. We’re gonna find ‘em, okay?”
Kiyoomi hates to be pitied. Kiyoomi hates to be coddled. Miya’s voice is so warm. It wraps around him like a hug and squeezes until Kiyoomi feels overwhelmed tears threatening at his lashes. This is all so fucking weird, sitting across from a stranger he met at a supermarket because his sister’s evil, godawful children robbed him and ditched him in the middle of the city. He blinks and exhales roughly, with a firm nod.
“Yukiya-nii-chan!” Miori yells, and Kiyoomi slams on the brakes so violently that Miya jack-knifes in the seat next to him with a guttural little noise dying in his throat. He whips around just in time to see Yukiya dashing down an alleyway. Frantically, Kiyoomi wrestles his seatbelt off and hurls himself out the door to stumble after him.
The car behind him leans hard on the horn, and the cars in the lanes adjacent swerve away from the centre line but make no signs of stopping. He tries to judge a decent gap to run through, but the stream is constant, and frustration bubbles in his gut. Miya’s hand lands on his shoulder, grips into the fabric of his shirt and pulls him back against him.
He’s solid, and warm, and a huge pain in the ass.
“What are ya, crazy?!” Miya yells, right next to his ear. It’s not necessary; it’s loud out, but not that loud. “Get back in the car!”
“He’s right there-”
“Forget it, he’s a young kid and he’s actively avoidin’ ya. He’s long gone by now, yer gonna have to try and catch him by surprise another time. C’mon.” He shoves Kiyoomi back toward the car, and reluctantly, he climbs back in. Miya spends a few extra seconds yelling apologies to the cars they’ve held up, before he slams the door behind him and buckles back in.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to get out in the middle of the road, Oji-san,” Miori says helpfully, and Kiyoomi thinks it’s very brave of him to not brain himself on the steering wheel. Instead, he pushes the car forward again, turns off at the next intersection, and circles the block three more times before he’s willing to admit that Miya is right and Yukiya has well and truly lost them.
“Okay, he can’t have gone far on foot, right?”
“Uh,” Miya says, with something that looks like a grimace. His phone rings again. He heaves a violent sigh, and makes eyes that are borderline-puppy at Kiyoomi. He waves him away. Miya answers the call, cradles it close to his face.
“What?!” he hisses. “I already told ya, somethin’ came up- don’t harp on me like that! I’m not runnin’ away, I- yeah, yeah I know. I know, okay, drop it. And stop usin’ Rin’s phone to call me, I know he’s with ya. Look, I’ll see ya when I see ya, I don’t know how long this is gonna take, and if ya don’t quit buggin’ me about it I won’t come home at all.” He hangs up, and sets his phone to flight mode immediately afterward. Kiyoomi raises a brow at him.
“Siblings,” Miya grumbles, “you get it.”
“Not really.” Kiyoomi shakes his head. “Mine are a lot older than me. Hence the children.”
“Right.” Miya glances back at Miori, who is still watching him with the same rapt attention that Kiyoomi and Motoya had watched snails with when they were her age. This time, Miya’s face lights up, and he turns his near-manic grin on Kiyoomi so suddenly that he jolts in his seat. “Right.”
“What?” Kiyoomi asks, bewildered. This man gets weirder the longer Kiyoomi lets him sit in the passenger seat of his sister’s car, but he is the only person willing to help him scour Tokyo for his missing kids, so he supposes he has to deal with it. It could be worse. It’s not like he’s terrible to look at.
“Miori-chan,” Miya sing-songs, leaning around his seat again, “what’s Riko-chan’s favourite colour?”
“It used to be pink, but she says it’s a colour for little kids now.” Miori’s little face scrunches in annoyance, thoroughly affronted by the past attack on her own favourite colour. “She says she’s too old to have one now, but she buys all these light purple shirts that Mother yells at her for because they’re really little, so I think that’s her favourite colour. Purple’s a good colour. Do you like purple?”
“Yea, sure I do,” Miya says with a nod, “it’s my brother’s favourite colour too.”
“Cool,” Miori says, with a very serious nod. “We should have purple flowers when we get married. Otou-san watched a movie where they got married in a garden, but when I get married, I want to get married somewhere with horses. Do you like horses too, Miya-san?”
Kiyoomi’s face is going famously red again. Miya, at the very least, seems to take having his wedding planned for him by an eight year old with a particular style of grace. He nods very consideringly, but Kiyoomi doesn’t miss the amused little twinkle in his eye. It makes him want to do something stupid like attempt car sex for the second time since a disastrous first effort in college. Unfortunately, this is also embarrassing because chances are Miori has more of a shot than Kiyoomi does because Miya is like, too good to be true which means there’s no way in hell he’s into guys.
Even if Kiyoomi is pretty sure he can see a piercing hole in one of Miya’s ears, but he can’t for the life of him remember which ear is the quote-unquote gay ear, and it’s probably a trick of the light anyway.
“Horses are pretty cool. D’ya ride horses, Miori-chan?”
“No, Okaa-san says I can’t do riding lessons because she doesn’t have time to take me.”
“Aw, now that’s too bad. I bet the horses would love to make friends with ya.”
“I don’t think horses know how to make friends,” Kiyoomi mutters. Miya and Miori both look at him as if he’s killed someone.
“Horses are herd animals, Sakusa- kun,” Miya says, as if he’s genuinely affronted.
“Yeah, Oji-san.” Miori frowns, and Kiyoomi feels suitably chastised. He’s never having children. They have some kind of evil deep inside their little bones that manages to make shame at least twice as potent. Still, Miya doesn’t have to encourage her, and he certainly doesn’t have to demote him on the honorific side of things just to piss him off.
“Apologies,” he says, trying to tamp down the sarcasm in his voice. “Given that I have never had a conversation with a horse, I didn’t know they were capable of making friends, but clearly I was mistaken, thank you for enlightening me, Atsumu-kun.”
It’s a mistake. It’s a mistake and Kiyoomi knows the exact second he says it, because Miya grins like he’s going to eat him alive. Kiyoomi’s never saying it again, ever , because that look makes him feel like every inch of him has been set on fire. His toes are curling in his shoes. No one should look that good with a grin like they’re about to eat you alive.
“Kiyoomi-kun,” Miya croons back, sending very normal, very reasonable shivers all the way up Kiyoomi’s spine until he feels like he’s vibrating, “it was my pleasure. D’ya siblings like horses too, Miori-chan? When me and my brother wanted something, we used to gang up on our parents to get it.”
“Riko-nee-chan says she thinks horses are stupid and that they smell bad.” Miori crossly folds her arms over her chest. “She doesn’t even like unicorns anymore! Yukiya-nii-chan always yells at me to get out of his room, Teiji-nii-chan only cares about his dumb video games and Terumi-nee-chan says she hates the horse girls at her school and she doesn’t wanna hang out with them anyway.”
“Well, what do Terumi-chan and Yukiya-kun do, then? Maybe if ya help them get somethin’ they want, they’ll help ya out with the ridin’ lessons.”
“Yukiya-nii-chan likes going to the skate park, but he’s not supposed to because Otou-san thinks it’s dangerous. Other than that he just plays really loud music and yells at Riko-nee-chan about the bathroom. Terumi-nee-chan reads lots of books and she wants to shave off all her hair but Okaa-san won’t let her.”
“Huh,” Miya says, and leans back into his seat. “Well, maybe ya need to unite the troops before ya try any kind of coordinated attack.”
“Your plan worked so well,” Kiyoomi says, letting the sarcasm drip in. Miya looks slightly shell-shocked.
“Me and Samu argued as kids, but we were never not on the same page.” He shakes his head a little, ruffles up his own hair. “Forget Yukiya-kun, we should hone in on the twins first.”
“What?! I can’t just ditch a kid, Miya.”
“I’m not sayin’ ditch him!” Miya snaps back, then pauses. “Okay maybe I am, just a little, but I’ll bet ya two thousand yen that he makes an appearance at that skate park. There’s also probably a couple twenty-four hour arcades within walkin’ distance, where someone won’t see a car they know to look out for comin’, and if ya get one twin, guarantee ya get the other one.”
Kiyoomi stares at him, aware his jaw is slightly open. Right, Miya said, like he discovered the cure to cancer. This whole time, he’s been carefully extracting information from Kiyoomi’s niece and using it to build up to conclusions about these kids he’s never met. What the fuck. Who allowed him to be hot, nice to kids, and smart? Kiyoomi should do something about it. Kiss him, maybe. Ask to have his babies, maybe.
“Toldya, Kiyoomi-kun.” Miya taps his temple with a wink. “Siblings.”
“Right,” Kiyoomi huffs, annoyed at how right Miya is about all of this. “What makes you so sure about the twins?”
Miya holds up his phone, face expressionless. His lock screen- now cleared of the missed call notifications- is him and another man who must be his brother and a woman who is so very clearly their mother. The Second Miya has dark hair, darker, sleepier eyes, and slightly fuller cheeks, but other than that their features are identical. Their mother is the perfect blend of both of them, but a good half a foot shorter and pretending to be annoyed by her sons each resting an arm on top of her head and grinning broadly at the camera. Kiyoomi grunts his acknowledgement.
“I’m gonna start lookin’ up arcades, ‘kay? Keep a lookout, see if ya can spot any of the others.”
“Can I help?” Miori asks, already pressing her little face up the window. Miya grins at Kiyoomi, like this is the best thing in the world, before he turns to his phone. Kiyoomi hears the way it buzzes as all the missed notifications come filing in once airplane mode is turned off, but Miya ignores them to head straight to his browser. So dedicated to his research. Kiyoomi thinks this night has certifiably driven him insane, because it should not be as attractive as it is to watch Miya type arcades near me into his browser window. It is a very normal, reasonable thing to do. Kiyoomi wants to jump his bones.
“Okay, I think we got about four places to head to,” Miya says, scrolling vaguely through search results. “So long as the kid stayed on foot, that is.”
Kiyoomi’s knuckles go white where he’s gripping the steering wheel. Miya glances at him, and then immediately does a double take, sitting up a little straighter.
“Hey, no freakouts, Kiyoomi-kun, I need ya on side for this. Assumin’ this ain’t too far from yer sister’s place, I’m bettin’ video game kid is goin’ somewhere familiar instead of somewhere new. Isn’t that right, Miori-chan?”
“Teiji-nii-chan doesn’t like new things unless they’re video games,” Miori says, happily, and then scrunches up her face. “I don’t see anything, it’s really dark outside.”
“That’s okay, ya did a great job.” Miya twists his whole torso to hold out a broad hand for a low-five. Miori smacks it. Kiyoomi makes a valiant effort at not thinking about what Miya’s big fucking hand would feel like elsewhere on his body.
“Alright,” he says, breathing out through his nose, like his therapist taught him to do. “What’s our plan, then? We just drive around and hope he’s at one of these arcades?”
“We could split up? We’d cover more ground that way.” Miya frowns. “But I dunno what the kid looks like, and I’m not about to ask ya to entrust Miori-chan to me when I’m still pretty much a stranger.”
“Wise of you,” Kiyoomi agrees.
“It’s also a problem if we beat him there,” Miya’s frown deepens, and he rubs a hand over his chin. “If the kids ditched ya on purpose, they know exactly what to be avoidin’, and if any of ‘em see this car it’s gonna be a dead giveaway, no matter how stealth the rest of our operation is.”
“Are we spies, Miya-san?” Miori-chan asks.
“Yup, super secret agents,” Miya replies, without hesitation. Miori’s eyes sparkle in approval. “Plus, what if he sees ya comin’? He’s younger and probably faster than ya, and if yer lookin’ out for Miori-chan, yer gonna be slowed down by that. It’s not safe to leave her in the car on her own.”
“Fuck,” Kiyoomi says, and winces at Miori’s scandalized gasp. Wordlessly, Miya draws more yen from his wallet and hands it back to Kiyoomi’s niece. She accepts it, but with extreme disapproval. Kiyoomi reminds himself to never, ever have children.
“Our best weapon is me, ‘cause the kids don’t know who I am, but if someone lays eyes and we don’t corral ‘em back into the car, ya better believe that opportunity goes right up in smoke.”
“That just means we’ll have to be smart about our canvassing then,” Kiyoomi says, gripping the wheel harder. “Have you been to an arcade before?”
“Like, semi-recently. Not any in Tokyo, though.” Miya squints, scrunches up his whole face as he thinks. It’s ridiculously cute. Kiyoomi has never felt the urge to bite someone’s cheeks, but he sure is feeling it now. “If the layout is anythin’ like the last one I was at, there’s probably decent enough cover to hide ya from sight while we snoop.”
“Okay then. We just have to stay on alert.”
“Yessir.” Miya swivels again. “Think ya can handle that, Miori-chan? It means we gotta stay quiet and stealthy.”
“Okay,” Miori says, “I’ll be the best super secret agent ever, Miya-san.”
“I betcha will,” Miya says, with a genuinely agreeable nod. Miori melts. Incredible. What’s the magic ingredient to make children like you? Why does Miya have so much of it? Why does it make Kiyoomi at least sixty percent more attracted to him?
“Where’s our first stop?” he asks, instead of something more embarrassing like how much do you lift? Miya definitely looks like he lifts.
“Hm,” Miya says, pushing his tongue into the pocket of his cheek. Unhelpful mental image for Kiyoomi, ridiculously adorable body language for Miya. “I reckon this one. Decent reviews, pretty fair distance from the supermarket. We’re probably gonna have to check ‘em all, anyway.”
Grimly, Kiyoomi thinks he’s probably right. Miya rattles off the address. It’s a little far away from Itsumi’s place to give Kiyoomi any real faith in it. They’re heading farther from the apartment, and although Kiyoomi has no clue what school his nephew is currently attending, unless it’s in the direction of this particular arcade, he can’t imagine Itsumi letting him come all the way out to this one when there’s probably perfectly suitable ones closer to home.
The first arcade does end up being a bust. It’s one of the older style ones, with tacky brightly-patterned carpet and vintage machines. There’s also not a whole lot of places to hide, given that most machines are pushed up against the wall, with an air hockey table in the middle of the floor space. Luckily, none of the silhouettes are Teiji-shaped, and they can duck out into the night again fairly quickly.
Miori is yawning as she clutches Miya’s hand, having insisted on holding his hand as incentive to get out of the car. Kiyoomi thinks there have been plenty of low points in his life, but none of them have been quite as devastatingly low as being jealous of an eight year old. Miya’s phone rings again, buzzing insistently in his back pocket. Struggling with one hand, he sends the call through to voicemail, but not before Kiyoomi gets a glimpse of the contact photo on the screen.
“So, Miya,” he asks, trying to keep his tone as light as possible, “you’ve been witness to easily some of my most embarrassing moments tonight. Do I get to know why your brother is calling you as much as he is?”
“I s’pose,” Miya says with a sigh, tenses his bicep to lift Miori off the ground and swing her over a crack in the sidewalk. She giggles in delight, and continues with her game. “I was headin’ down his way. It’s a long drive, so I was s’posed to stay with a friend for the night, but Samu overreacted when I told him somethin’ came up, ‘cause he’s a big, dramatic baby who makes a big deal outta everythin’. Seriously, one time when we were teenagers, he got on my case for stealin’ his jacket, but we shared a room. He coulda taken it back at literally any time.”
“I have to say, that one does seem to be a very obvious fix.” Miya nods sagely, helping Miori up and into her booster seat. “How long is the drive from Tokyo?”
“Six hours, could be seven if I decide to take the scenic route,” Miya presents his hand for another high-five once Miori is suitably buckled in, and then gently closes the door.
“Ah, that’s about the same as my commute. I came up on the shinkansen though, much faster that way.”
“No kiddin’? Where ya from?”
“I mean, Tokyo, originally, but I’m living in Osaka right now.”
“No way.” Miya grins, sun-bright even in the darkness. Kiyoomi feels himself flush, for absolutely no reason. “I’m livin’ in Osaka too.”
“Ah, makes sense, considering the accent. What part?”
“Higashiosaka.” Kiyoomi’s face creases in surprise. Miya’s grin gets wider. “No shit. Small world, huh?”
“I suppose so.”
It makes him feel giddy, like a teeanger, standing face to face with Miya and watching him grin over this new knowledge. Of course, it’s doing things for him too. Miya lives in his city. Miya is insanely, unfairly hot, and lives in his city. Miya is watching Kiyoomi watch him and looking amused, like this is all a great game, and Kiyoomi has a violent urge to crush him. And also to be kissed senseless against this hideous, champagne coloured minivan.
Miori slams on the window hard enough to make both of them jump.
“Guess that’s our cue,” Miya says, surprisingly unperturbed by being ordered around by a child. He pulls open the door for Kiyoomi. “Yer chariot awaits, Omi-kun.”
“Omi-kun?” Kiyoomi parrots, even as his body reflexively slips itself into the driver’s seat now that Miya has pulled the door open for him.
“Sure. We’re practically neighbours. And ya can call me Atsumu if ya want. Everyone does.”
“Not a chance in hell, Miya,” Kiyoomi says. “I’ve never liked a neighbour in my life.”
That makes Miya laugh, and he’s still laughing when he gets in the passenger side seat and buckles up. Miori has been beaming little laser holes of disapproval into the back of Kiyoomi’s head for another bad word, so Miya obediently dishes out the swear-tax, Kiyoomi puts the car in gear, and they move on.
Arcades two and three are also Teiji-free. Miori is starting to droop every time they load her in and out of the car, and Kiyoomi’s not feeling much better. He’s white-knuckling the steering wheel. His jaw is painfully clenched, and he can feel his chest tightening with increasing desperation. There’s just one more arcade to check. If they strike out again, they probably have to consider the idea of Teiji being further away than anticipated, and he has no clue where to start with looking for Terumi, Yukiya’s probably still on high alert, and just thinking about Riko gives him a tension headache-
“So, whaddya do for work, Omi-kun?” Miya asks conversationally from the passenger seat. “No wait, lemme guess. Are ya… a rocket scientist?”
“No.” Kiyoomi’s mouth twitches a little in amusement. “I wanted to be, when I was younger, but I’m in osteopathy. I’ve got hyper-mobile wrists, and learning about them sparked an interest. I liked the course-work, my friend says I like bossing people around…”
“I could see it,” Miya laughs out, and Kiyoomi rolls his eyes, but can’t help a twitchy little smile stretching across his mouth.
“What about you?”
Miya’s face does something curious, then. He looks genuinely shocked that Kiyoomi followed up the question, and then he looks deeply troubled, handsome features darkening as his brows knit and his lips purse until some of the colour is sucked out of them. After a moment, his features relax, and he gives Kiyoomi a wan half-smile that looks more wry when Miya was probably aiming for something normal.
“Between jobs at the moment,” he says, finally, and props his chin on his fist as he looks out the window. Kiyoomi feels guilty that this makes him slightly less attractive, but Kiyoomi has always found dedication extremely sexy.
“It’s okay, Miya-san,” Miori mumbles in the back seat, “I don’t have a job either.”
“D’ya know what ya wanna be when ya grow up?”
“Maybe.” Miori looks thoughtful, rubbing her chin in a blatant imitation of Miya from earlier in the night. “Riko-nee-chan says it’s impossible to be a mermaid, so if I can’t be a mermaid then I want horses.”
“Excellent choice,” Miya agrees, and Miori beams, before her little face is swallowed up by a yawn. Miya glances at Kiyoomi with a pinched expression.
He knows what Miya means. Miori is only little, and it’s well past her bedtime. Who knows how long they could be out, scouring the city for her siblings? Having her in the car with them is slowing them down, and anything could happen when they find the others. Kiyoomi refuses to give into the little voice sing-songing if you find them in the back of his mind. As it stands, Miori’s going to need a babysitter, which means that someone else has to know.
Kiyoomi sighs, feeling some of the anxious energy leave him, giving way to exhaustion. He’s never been in a position like this before. It’s high stakes, but Miya is calm and radiating warmth in the seat next to him, the city lights passing off of his face and elongating the shadow of his lashes and the jagged slope of his nose. It startles Kiyoomi to realize it’s a nose that’s been broken once or twice, slightly crooked high up the bridge.
“Kiyoomi-oji,” Miori whines, “I’m sleepy.”
“Hey, Miori-chan,” Miya soothes, instantly turning in his seat to placate the child. Kiyoomi is grateful, wringing his hands around the leather of the wheel. “If I give ya my jacket, ya can fold it up to make a pillow and take a nap, okay? We’ll getcha home soon.”
Miori nods, sleepily rubbing at her eyes. True to his word, Miya shrugs out of his fleece-lined corduroy, folds it into a square, and passes it back to Miori. She tucks it against the window and into the cradle of her seat-belt, and leans her cheek into it to sleep. Miya’s shoulders in his tight-fitting shirt are twice as big as Kiyoomi originally thought, and he’s pretty sure his biceps are easily as big as Kiyoomi’s head. Kiyoomi tries not to stare, he really does.
“So, what’s the action plan then? Arcade first? Findin’ Miori-chan a nice bed until we’ve rounded up the others?”
“I don’t know.” Kiyoomi purses his lips. “I really don’t want to have to call anyone, because I don’t want anyone finding out about this, but… well. We can’t just leave her here. The same goes with the others. The more of them we’re dragging around with us, the harder it’s going to be to organize everyone.”
“Y’know it’s okay to ask for help, right? Surely ya got at least one friend in Tokyo?”
This is, strictly speaking, true. Asking Wakatoshi to care for his sister’s demon spawn, however, seems like a Herculean favour. Still, Miya must pick up something on his face, because his brow raises in amusement and Kiyoomi just scowls harder. Curse him for being able to read him so well.
“It’s embarrassing,” Kiyoomi mutters. “My sister’s children ran away from me. It’s not exactly something I want people to know about.”
“It’s not yer fault,” Miya says, so earnest it hurts a little. “No one would blame ya for it. Besides, if it hadn’t happened, ya wouldn’t have met me, and I’m a delight.”
That makes Kiyoomi snort, and Miya looks delighted with the development. Kiyoomi tries to cough away the smile into the crook of his elbow, but it’s impossible to wipe off his face. Curse this stupid, handsome man for being so compassionate and sexy and apparently funny, too. Really unfair of him to just be perfect, and to think he could have missed him completely if Itsumi’s children weren’t evil little shits.
“You have an extraordinarily high opinion of yourself, Miya.”
“Someone’s gotta,” Miya says, thoroughly unfazed. His grin turns a little more melancholic as he casts his gaze out the windshield, watching the city lights pattern the dashboard in vibrant colour. “If not me, then who?”
“I’ll revisit the whole asking-for-help thing after we find Teiji,” Kiyoomi promises. “Besides, I did already ask for help. You’re here, aren’t you?”
“Uh, doesn’t count if I had to bully ya into it, Omi-kun,” Miya snipes back, playfully shoving Kiyoomi’s shoulder. It makes him smile, and he flexes his fingers around the steering wheel as he indicates and turns into a parking lot.
He and Miya sit in silence. In the back seat, Miori sits up, probably missing the lull of the car’s motion. She rubs at her eyes with her little hands and blinks blearily at Miya. Kiyoomi breathes deeply through his nose and lets it out gently through his mouth. This is it. No Teiji, and they’re back to square one with a significantly wider search radius. They need to be right. They have to be right.
“Righto,” Miya says, and starts to unbuckle himself. “It’s super secret agent time, Miori-chan.”
This time, Miori has to be carried to the arcade. Strictly speaking, she could walk, but every time Miya makes a move to lower her to the ground, she starts making whining noises of protests, and given how often she rubs her eyes, Kiyoomi really does not want to endure another tantrum. She finally deigns to be separated from her Dream Husband when they reach the front of the arcade. Kiyoomi takes her hand firmly, Miori grabs Miya’s hand with her free one, and the three of them step in together.
Immediately, Kiyoomi feels overwhelmed. This arcade is definitely the newest of the ones they’ve visited; all modern, linoleum floors with walkway stickers plastered on them. There are lots of flashing lights and the loud shouts of several teens and twenty-somethings enjoying the games. A spirited game of air hockey is taking place just to Kiyoomi’s left, while a bored attendant mans the prize station, scrolling on her phone. Miya ushers their little group behind one of the games to their right, folding his arms over his chest. His forearms are prickling a little with cold, Kiyoomi notices absently. He’s definitely well and truly lost it, given that his first thought is about licking the corded muscle there.
“This place is bigger than I thought,” Miya mumbles. “What’s the plan?”
“I’m not sure.” Kiyoomi shakes his head, forcibly slaps a lid on every not-professional thought he’s having about Miya. “I suppose we still have to check every inch of the place, and there’s… well. There’s a lot of it.”
“No sh- uh. No kidding,” Miya amends. He and Kiyoomi both sneak a quick glance down at Miori to see if she caught the blunder, but she remains blissfully unaware. Bullet dodged. Kiyoomi shoots Miya a private, sly smile over her head, and receives a broad grin in response. God, he has so much of it in him. If Kiyoomi tried to smile that much, his facial muscles would just give out under the strain.
“Well,” Kiyoomi says with a sigh, “you scout ahead, then, for the best path. We shouldn’t waste any more time.” Miya nods, flicks two-fingers away from his forehead in a lazy salute, and meanders off into the maze of games, hands wedged into the pockets of his jeans. They barely fit, Kiyoomi thinks with marked amusement. Miya must have really been committing to whatever he was doing wiggling into them, because Kiyoomi would have definitely gone for something less circulation-restricting. Doesn’t stop him from watching Miya’s ass as he goes, though.
Miya takes maybe five minutes to sweep through the place, before sidling up next to Kiyoomi at the prize counter where he’s been entertaining Miori by letting her look at the soft toys. Kiyoomi shoots him a glance from the corner of his eye, and gets a head-tilt of acknowledgement for his troubles.
“I think he’s here,” Miya says, quietly. “He looks kind of similar to Miori-chan, and there’s an air about him. I dunno how to describe it, it would just make sense if he was related to ya.”
“I don’t know whether or not to be insulted by that,” Kiyoomi says, and Miya crooks an unhelpful grin that does nothing to answer Kiyoomi’s question. If he had to wager a guess, the answer is no, he should not be insulted, but Miya likes to rile him up so he won’t admit to it. He inclines his head again, Miya nods, and in unison, they step away from the counter to retrace Miya’s steps.
Miya moves with a particularly awkward gait, Kiyoomi notices. It’s obvious now that his whole goal is watching him, being led in a zig-zag pattern between machines and arcade-goers alike. He has a natural sort of grace; the kind that comes hand in hand with the easy kind of charisma that Miya possesses. But there’s something off about it. Kiyoomi knows he should be focused on finding his nephew- Miori’s clammy hand clutched in his is proof enough of that- but it’s endlessly fascinating to watch the way Miya moves, how his shoulders are strong and proud but he doesn’t seem quite so sure of the movement of his feet, how he over-extends one leg to make up for the shorter, more shuffling strides he makes with the other.
He ducks smoothly against the side of an unoccupied shooting machine, making eye contact with Kiyoomi and then pointing at an angle across from him. Kiyoomi shepherds Miori into the space behind him, peering around his shoulder to squint at whatever it is Miya is looking at.
He instantly feels two things. One is such violent relief that his stomach enters free-fall like it might make a valiant effort at dropping out of his ass, and he feels genuinely light-headed with the feeling. The other is crushing, blinding rage, like he has spontaneously gained the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes and he is going to personally fucking obliterate his nephew from existence. His face must be doing something weird, because Miya is looking at him like he’s sprouted a second head.
“That’s him,” Kiyoomi manages, when he’s sure his voice won’t be tea-kettle shrill and hissed from between violently clenched teeth. “Good catch.”
“Thanks. I got steady hands,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. It’s such a stupid joke. Miya looks beautiful in blue and purple lights and he should kiss Kiyoomi right now and-
“What was it that gave it away?” he asks instead, forcibly cutting off that train of thought.
“What look?” Kiyoomi narrows his eyes. Miya crooks a grin that can only be described as shit-eating and it’s so unfairly attractive that Kiyoomi thinks this man should be legally euthanized because he presents a very real danger to heart-rates everywhere, nevermind the increased chance of Boners In Public.
“Uptight,” Miya concludes, like this is the funniest thing in the world. Kiyoomi thumbs the side of his fist against his shoulder, and tries hard not to smile at the way Miya snickers.
“You’re not funny,” Kiyoomi tells him, even though he doesn’t believe it. Miya rubs absently at the spot Kiyoomi hit, still grinning.
“I think I’m hilarious, actually.”
“Yes, you think, but you’re quite wrong-”
“Excuse me,” says a new voice, a pretty girl with her long black swept back into an unkempt bun, “are you Miya-senshu?”
Kiyoomi cuts his eyes toward Miya with extreme prejudice. Between jobs, Miya had said. Miya definitely has the physique to be an athlete. He’s strong, muscular, but not quite cut the same way gym-bunnies are. Miya is still smiling, genial, but the warmth doesn’t meet his eyes. They seem somewhat vacant, which is cause to make Kiyoomi’s hair stand on end. Not once since he met him has Miya seemed anything less than offensively alive, all vibrant laughter and booming presence that draws you in and holds you captive. He lifts a hand, palms the back of his neck as he closes his eyes and lets out a lilting laugh.
“No, sorry, wrong brother,” Miya says, and the girl startles in shock.
“Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize Miya-senshu had a brother.”
“Twin, actually,” Miya continues. “Don’t worry, we get it a lot.”
Miya’s tone is cheery. Miya is still grinning big, wide, and reassuring, the hunch to his posture just a little bashful, like he’s genuinely apologetic for crushing this girl’s dreams. Kiyoomi frowns at his feet, and feels a little guilty for thinking Miya might do something like lie. It must be hard, having a famous- at least semi-famous if random people are recognizing him on the street- athlete for a twin, and to have no such sense of purpose in your own life.
“Right,” the lady says, and then tilts her head. “It’s a weird coincidence about your hair-”
“Shit,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi jerks his gaze back up, just in time to lock eyes with Teiji across the room. Shit indeed, he thinks mildly, as Teiji goes through all five stages of grief in the span of approximately three seconds, and then bolts.
Kiyoomi’s whole body goes taut like a bowstring. His first instinct is to chase him, but the heavy weight of Miori on the end of his hand reminds him this is very much not an option. Second instinct is to shove Miori into the arms of someone else, but a quick whip of his head from side to side reminds him the only people around are strangers, because he’s a stupid, prideful moron who didn’t ask Wakatoshi for help, so all he has is Miya, who has closed his eyes again and seems to be wrestling with an inner demon.
“Ennoshita-sensei, forgive me,” Miya mutters, and then he fucking moves.
It’s an explosive kind of energy. One second, Miya is standing there, the next, he’s very much not. Kiyoomi’s mouth falls open from the sheer speed of it. He has excellent running form, pumps his arms just enough to get extra momentum, leg extension ideal although a little unbalanced in terms of the weight placement on one side, back angled for the least amount of drag as he absolutely tears through the arcade after Kiyoomi’s nephew.
“Shit,” Kiyoomi mutters again, hauls Miori up into his arms and gives a hasty bow to the bewildered fan, and then he shuffles after Miya as fast as he can without jostling Miori too much.
Teiji’s not particularly agile- he dislikes sports, had not enjoyed Kiyoomi trying to bond with him over volleyball- but he is a shitty little twelve year old running for his absolute life. He does an obvious check over his shoulder, and then veers sharply down a narrow alley between two machines. Miya doesn’t even hesitate as he slides into the gap with an artful split-step that doesn’t slow his pace at all, barrelling ahead.
“Entrance!” Miya’s voice rings out above the din, and it takes Kiyoomi’s brain a second to catch up, before he realizes what Miya is trying to tell him. He hoists Miori further up on his hip and power-walks for the sliding doors at the front of the arcade with as much speed as he can muster without sacrificing too much of his dignity.
He swings into a ready position- doors opening at his back and flooding chilly night air into the arcade- just as Teiji skids around a corner, feet scrambling underneath him as he tries to back up and reroute. Unfortunately for Kiyoomi’s nephew, this is the exact moment Miya comes hurtling out after him, gets a hand in the back of his shirt and hoists him completely off the ground. Teiji goes dead-still in shock, eyes bulging, and Kiyoomi feels something stirring, along with a severe rattling in the back of his brain that threatens to bitch-slap the lid directly off the box his inappropriate thoughts are being kept in. Miya’s insane pace slows, and he slopes off into a trot, walking in a circle to return Teiji to Kiyoomi’s eye level. Teiji dangles like a scruffed cat.
“Sakusa Teiji,” Kiyoomi says, low and threatening, “you are in big trouble.”
“Aren’t you in bigger trouble?” Teiji pouts, attitude flooding back as Miya lowers him back to the ground. “You lost us, after all. That’s not very good babysitter behaviour.”
“Oh, know a lot about that, do ya?” Miya asks, amused, and Kiyoomi glares at him. Miya mimes zipping his lips with his free hand.
“No, you are in trouble, because I am going to find all your siblings and then tell your mother an absolute lie about what horrors you put me through to ensure you’re grounded for the rest of your life.” Teiji flinches back a little bit, hunching his shoulders up to his ears.
“It was just a dumb prank.”
“You abandoned me in the middle of Tokyo! Do you have any idea what could have happened to you? What could still happen to your siblings?” Kiyoomi frowns, lifts a hand to scrub at his face.
“Alright, while I’m all in favour of a good, old-fashioned scoldin’, maybe we can continue this conversation in the car? And I’m gonna need yer phone, pipsqueak.” Teiji tilts his head back and glares at Miya.
“Who are you, anyway?”
“Private Investigator,” Miya says, completely deadpan. Teiji sizes him up for a minute, and then scowls, digging his phone from his pocket and slapping it into Miya’s expectant palm. Miya immediately shoves it in his back pocket, nods toward the doors. “Ready to go, Omi-kun?”
“You have no clue,” Kiyoomi mutters, the corner of his mouth turning up in a smile as Miya laughs, low and indulgent from somewhere deep in his chest. The smile can’t even be deterred by Teiji’s horrified mutter that sounds suspiciously like the word ‘gross’.
It’s whatever. One kid down, three to go.
Miya keeps a hand on Teiji’s shoulder until he’s all the way into the car, where he promptly ficks the child lock on and closes the door behind him.
“Unnecessary,” Teiji says, when Miya and Kiyoomi get into the front seats.
“We’ll see,” Miya says, unbothered.
“Put your seatbelt on,” Kiyoomi says, making eye contact with intent to kill in the rearview. Reluctantly, Teiji buckles in, and Kiyoomi exhales a meditative breath, relaxing his grip on the steering wheel. Knuckles graze his shoulder, and he cuts his eyes sideways, relaxing even further at the crooked grin Miya offers him. His smile is broad, but his eyes are gentle and half-lidded. It’s calming, and Kiyoomi smiles back, small and private.
“Don’t forget, ya promised,” Miya says, needlessly cryptic. Kiyoomi rolls his eyes and puts the car in reverse.
“Yes, yes, I know. Asking for help.”
“Alright, good. No re-neggin’. Plus Miori-chan needs a bed. She didn’t even scold me for swearin’.” Kiyoomi hums, grimly. It really is end-times.
It feels a bit like a march to his execution, linking his phone with the car’s Bluetooth, only to dial Wakatoshi’s number. If Kiyoomi wasn’t driving, he’d for sure close his eyes against the fresh wave of embarrassment. Oh, there are no good words for this situation. Anything he could possibly say is going to end in The Voice. Wakatoshi usually doesn’t realize he’s using The Voice because that’s just how he sounds, but it has an effect that instantly vaporizes Kiyoomi’s innards and makes him want to shrivel and die.
“Kiyoomi?” Wakatoshi rumbles through the car’s speaker system. “Is everything alright?”
“Yes!” Kiyoomi says, too-quick. “I mean, no. I mean, I’m alright but I have- could you possibly do me a favour?”
Miya mouths something at him. Kiyoomi’s not sure exactly what it is, but it invokes murderous rage so he flips him off. Miya scrunches his nose and flips him off back. Miori mumbles tiredly about telling her mother, but given that she’s half-asleep on Miya’s jacket again, it doesn’t exactly have such a strong effect. Wakatoshi is silent for maybe a beat too long, and Kiyoomi starts to sweat.
“Of course,” he says finally, slowly. “But Kiyoomi, you seem… stressed. Are you sure you’re fine?”
“It’s… a long story,” is what Kiyoomi settles with. “But I’m alright, I promise. I just- I’m babysitting and something’s come up and if it’s at all possible I need you to look after one of the kids, just for a bit.”
“Just one?” Teiji says, and Kiyoomi glares at him violently enough to make him shut up and slump sulkily back into his seat. Miya muffles a laugh into his shoulder.
“That’s fine, Kiyoomi, Satori and I are both at home so-”
“Oh,” Kiyoomi says, panic lacing through him. “Oh, Satori-san is back from France. Wakatoshi, I had no idea- I’m sorry, nevermind it, I-”
“Kiyoomi,” Wakatoshi says sternly, “I will see you and the child soon.”
And then he hangs up the phone. Kiyoomi pulls over into an empty park on the edges of the road and thunks his head against the steering wheel, repeatedly. Miya laughs, low and giggly, and Kiyoomi decides he hates centre-consoles. If not for the great hunk of thing between him and the blonde, he would have been able to reach over and pummel him for laughing at him like this. Asshole.
“Stop it,” Kiyoomi grumbles, “it’s not funny.”
“It’s a little funny,” Miya says.
“Can we revisit the one child thing?” Teiji asks from the back seat. Miori has drooled onto Miya’s jacket in her sleep.
“We still need ya to help find yer twin,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi blinks at him.
“Was that… not what was goin’ through yer head when ya called yer buddy?” Miya raises a brow. Kiyoomi knows his silence is damning, but he looks ahead at the road and swerves back onto it anyway. “Ya just didn’t wanna ask him to care for two kids at once, huh?”
“You can’t legally prove that.”
“Wuss,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi slaps his thigh on reflex. Miya yelps, Kiyoomi wonders dazedly about how fucking strong that leg felt under his hand, and the way his flesh tingles and stings with the force of it. He’s pretty sure it hurt him more than it hurt Miya, even though he’s massaging his leg and-
“Are you alright?” Kiyoomi asks, and Miya startles, jerking his hands up and folding his arms over his chest.
“Yeah! Yeah, what’s gotcha askin’?”
“Mm,” Kiyoomi says. “Just checking.”
Miya hums his acknowledgement and checks his phone again, probably for something to do with his hands. Wrong leg, for starters, Kiyoomi thinks. He’s been doing it often too; Kiyoomi’s caught the movement of his shoulders from his periphery, so it wasn’t the slap that started it, and he certainly didn’t hit him low enough to warrant so much fussing around the knee.
Miya-senshu, Kiyoomi’s brain supplies. Between jobs. There’s a lot that can go wrong in that area of the body.
“I can hear ya thinkin’, Omi-kun.”
“Don’t be silly,” Kiyoomi says, slowing down as they reach a stoplight. He tries to recall details about the other Miya, but all that comes to him is calm. He’d seemed calmer, safer, more sturdy. He can’t recall if he had the body of an athlete or a presence to him that might make him seem like one. Wrong brother, Miya said. Were they more similar, once? And something about his hair, she said…
Kiyoomi shakes his head a little, accelerates just a beat too late after the light change. There’s no point getting in his head about it now. It’s just a distraction from the much more pressing issue, and he can’t afford distractions right now. A quick check of the dashboard clock tells him they’ve burned through an hour on hunting down Teiji, and that does not bode well for him. He exhales, slow and steady, and speeds up just a little. From the corner of his eye, he sees Miya flick a glance toward him, but Kiyoomi keeps his eyes straight ahead, and plans what he’s going to say to Wakatoshi.
Wakatoshi has always been from money, like Kiyoomi, but he’d submitted himself to share-houses and apartment complexes like everyone else when he’d started his professional career. The apartment is a relatively recent development, when Wakatoshi’s long-distance partner got sick of coming home to him and having to share him with several other sweaty volleyball players. The specifics of that conversation were never quite disclosed to Kiyoomi, but he can take a wild guess at why Satori-san might have wanted a more private space. The guilt makes Kiyoomi’s stomach roil a little; Wakatoshi and Satori-san already have so little time together, what with Satori-san in France and Wakatoshi busy with volleyball all the time, and encroaching on that with his own issues makes him feel like dirt.
“If the wind changes, yer face is gonna get stuck like that,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi glares at him from the corner of his eye.
“What are you, an old man?”
“Hey! I’m young and beautiful, if anythin’ yer the cranky old geezer here.” Once again, Kiyoomi hates the centre console for making it impossible to kick Miya. He makes himself a mental note to do it the next time he gets out of the car.
Wakatoshi’s apartment is in a nice building alongside several other nice buildings, however Wakatoshi’s nice building is so nice it has an underground carpark that Kiyoomi cannot get into, so he has to drive around the block to find a public carpark instead. When the car is still and the engine is off, he and Miya look at each other, and then swivel to look at the kids in the back seat. Teiji looks like he’s plotting something already, so Kiyoomi sighs, and gives Miya his best, biggest, most plaintive puppy-eyes. Miya hums and stretches a hand out to gently muss his hair. Kiyoomi finds he doesn’t even mind. Wouldn’t mind, in fact, if Miya closed his fist and pulled.
“I got it,” Miya says. “You keep a hand on Trouble, I’ll carry Miori-chan.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Kiyoomi says. Miya makes an ‘ok’ sign with his hand, and pushes the door open.
“Go team.” Kiyoomi squints at his back, and tries not to let it get to him too much. It would stand to reason, after all, that someone like Miya with a brother like he has would be into sports.
Wakatoshi buzzes them in after concerningly few seconds, which means he’s probably been waiting by the intercom this whole time. Kiyoomi sighs, shoving Teiji along in front of him and tries not to feel too consumed by his remorse.
“Whoa,” Miya says, gently cradling the back of Miori’s head as she dozes peacefully against his shoulder. “How loaded is this dude?”
“Unreasonably so,” Kiyoomi says, wrinkling his nose at the elevator button. Miya gently nudges him aside and looks back expectantly. Kiyoomi points to the appropriate floor, and Miya hitches his leg up to hit it with his knee.
“Thank you,” Kiyoomi says when the doors slide closed and Teiji makes a face at Miya. “But you didn’t have to do that.”
“Eh,” Miya shrugs. “Small kindnesses, Omi-kun.”
“Whatever.” He sighs, rubbing his face on his shoulder.
Wakatoshi opens the door approximately three seconds after Kiyoomi rings the bell. This is not particularly surprising, given that Wakatoshi hasn’t changed all that much since their short-lived and ill-advised high school romance. Grown into himself more, sure, but never shed the single-minded focus and his honestly concerning intensity. Kiyoomi can feel Teiji startle in fear under the hand he has on his shoulder. Miori barely even spares Wakatoshi a glance, too busy clinging to Miya like a limpet.
“Kiyoomi,” Wakatoshi says, and then looks down his nose at Teiji. “There are two children.”
“Yes.” Kiyoomi says, and then his brain short-circuits and he finds he cannot elaborate further.
“It’s not his bedtime yet,” Miya pipes up, “and we need him to help finish up an errand, ain’t that right, Sakusa-san?”
“Right, yes, of course.” Kiyoomi nods. “This is Miori and Teiji, my sister’s children.”
“Of course.” Wakatoshi nods, extends a hand to Teiji, who takes it and then grimaces at the crush of Wakatoshi’s handshake. “I am Ushijima Wakatoshi.”
“Ya don’t say,” Miya says, and both Kiyoomi and Wakatoshi turn to look at him. Kiyoomi raises a brow. Miya shakes his head, but his expression is amused. “Nothin’, nothin’. Hey, Miori-chan, why dontcha say hi to Ushijima-san? He’s gonna look after ya for a bit.”
“Don’t want to,” Miori mumbles into Miya’s shirt. “Want to stay with you.”
“That’s nice,” Miya says, “but ya need to have some rest, okay? Me and yer uncle are gonna be back soon, and Ushijima-san is real nice, right?”
“Yes,” Kiyoomi says, and it’s not a lie. Wakatoshi is stern, but not unfriendly. Just honest, no matter the cost. He’s gained a little more tact with many years and Satori-san’s influence.
It’s like the thought summons him, since Satori-san appears over Wakatoshi’s shoulder, hair freshly chopped right down to his scalp. It’s a good look for him, emphasizes his inquisitive eyes and the slender features of his face. He wiggles his fingers in a little five-finger wave, patting the back of his neck with the towel draped around his shoulders.
“Hi, Kiyoomi-kun. Babysitting, are we?”
“Hello, Satori-san. I’m sorry to impose, it’s just-”
“Oh, don’t worry about it!” Satori-san waves his hand as if shooing Kiyoomi away, and it makes him feel a little better. Satori-san is easily twice as expressive as Wakatoshi, but he’s also honest in his feelings. If Satori-san says he doesn’t mind or doesn’t want him dead for interrupting precious private time with his boyfriend, then it really is okay. “So, which one? Wakatoshi only mentioned one child.”
“Miori,” Kiyoomi clarifies, pointing to the girl curled against Miya’s chest. Warily, she peers at Satori-san from the corner of her eye and clutches tighter to Miya’s shirt.
“Your hair is really red,” Miori says, and Miya nods sagely in agreement. “Pink is better.”
“Miori,” Kiyoomi scolds, but Satori-san just ducks his head to Miori’s hand level.
“It’s really fluffy though,” he says. “Wanna touch it?”
Miori does, in fact, want to touch it. She reaches out a hand and tentatively pats his head, and then immediately puts both hands on his hair, her eyes almost comically bugging in glee. Teiji wrinkles his nose as he pouts at the ground. Kiyoomi can’t help the teensiest shudder- the idea of having a grubby eight year old’s hands in his hair is not so fantastic, but the idea of having Miya’s hand in his hair isn’t so bad- but he reigns himself in when he notices Wakatoshi’s stern stare. The Voice hasn’t made an appearance yet, and Kiyoomi would like to keep it that way to avoid experiencing shame so violent it immediately turns him into a worm.
“Alright then,” Miya says, gently settling Miori onto her feet. “Behave for Satori-san, okay? We’ll be back super soon.”
Miori still looks hesitant, so Miya crouches and holds out his arms. Miori hurls herself onto him and squeezes like he’s the charming big brother figure who raised her, and not a stranger she met less than two hours ago. Kiyoomi has to look back at Wakatoshi to avoid feeling seethingly jealous. Children are allowed to hug so easily. He’d hated hugs as a child, but right now he thinks Miya ought to hug him instead. He’s the one going through severe emotional distress, after all.
“I promise she’s in good hands,” Wakatoshi says, and Kiyoomi jumps a little. It’s an odd feeling, knowing Wakatoshi to be vulnerable. He’s tall and strong and unflinching, but right now, worry creases his brow like he’s somehow unsure. He promises, because Wakatoshi always follows through on his promises, but Kiyoomi’s known him long enough to see the uncertainty that dances in his eyes.
“I know,” Kiyoomi says, tightening his grip on Teiji’s shoulder. “I’ll call you when we’re on our way back.”
“Good luck with your errand,” Wakatoshi says. Miori shyly takes Satori-san’s hand, waving goodbye as the door closes behind her.
“When do I get my phone back?” Teiji asks into the ensuing silence.
“Dunno,” Miya says, particularly cavalier as he heads for the elevator. “Might keep it.”
“You can’t do that!” Teiji sputters. Miya cocks a thick eyebrow at Kiyoomi and tilts his head.
“Sure, why not. Consider it payment for all your help.”
“Aw, Omi-kun, yer too kind.”
Kiyoomi knocks his shoulder against Miya’s as he steps into the elevator. It’s mostly on accident and only ninety percent on purpose to feel the warmth of his body, and it’s wholly worth it for the crooked little smile that Miya slices at him from the corner of his mouth.
Teiji sulks in the back of the car as Miya and Kiyoomi strap in. Kiyoomi puts both hands on the wheel and exhales slowly through his nose. With Miori safe and Teiji present, he feels a little less like the weight of the entire world is bearing down on his shoulders. It makes it easier to relax them, idly rolling his head to stretch out his neck and release some of the tension that’s been knotting just below his jaw with how hard it’s been clenched.
“Alright, Miya, what’s phase two of your plan to catch a twin?”
“Yer Ma make ya turn on yer Snapchat location?” Miya asks as he turns in his seat, resting his cheek against the headrest. Teiji adamantly looks away, which is a very damning move. Miya extends his phone to him expectantly, and Teiji sighs in aggravation before reaching out to tap in the passcode.
“What’s a Snapchat location going to do?”
“Give us an approximate location, duh. Yer such a geezer, Omi-kun.” Kiyoomi scowls at him, even though he might have a point. Kiyoomi has never really seen the point of Snapchat. He’s sure his nephew would hate to know that he has one, even if he only ever had it because Motoya bullied him into making an account and Kiyoomi simply never responded to any of his ‘snaps’. Maybe if Miya has a Snapchat, he would make more use of it. He could ask. Should ask, when Teiji isn’t here to report back to his evil siblings.
“Alright.” Miya’s voice jerks him out of his thoughts, and Kiyoomi blinks. “Got a hit at this ice cream place about twenty minutes ago. Not too bad, for a start. Here, plug in this address.”
Kiyoomi does. The car moves forward. Teiji makes frankly poisonous eyes at Miya in the rearview. Miya seems unbothered by the staring, hand absently rubbing at his knee again. Kiyoomi’s eyes narrow, but he brushes away the thoughts, focusing on watching the instructions on the GPS tick over. Looking at Miya is becoming too distracting now, and Kiyoomi really should have anticipated it. He’s never been someone to give something anything less than his full devotion, and that includes silly crushes on pretty boys. Right now, he has bigger problems, even if he could die happily crushed between Miya’s obscene thighs.
“Hey Kiyoomi-oji,” Teiji says, kicking the back of Kiyoomi’s seat. “Why didn’t you tell Okaa-san that you have a boyfriend? I know she asked you.” Miya grins in amusement like it might genuinely bisect his face from the force of it.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Kiyoomi snaps, and Miya slaps a hand over his chest in faux-pain, slumping into the seat as if he’s been shot.
“He’s not a private investigator either,” Teiji says, glaring at Miya balefully. “No private investigator knows how to use Snapchat.”
“Ya know a lot of ‘em, do ya?”
“They’re all like, super old, dummy,” Teiji says, and Kiyoomi’s mouth hangs open in shock. His nephew just called a stranger dummy. That’s not respectful at all but the abruptness of it seems to steal any scolding from his mouth. Should he even be scolding the kids? Isn’t that Itsumi’s job? Should he be writing status reports? A captain’s log to be recovered in this inevitable shipwreck of a situation? Miya guffaws like this is the best joke in the world, even if it is at his own expense.
“Is bein’ rude in the Sakusa blood, Omi-kun?”
“No,” Kiyoomi says, appalled. And a little insulted. If he wasn’t still recovering from the full-body flush that his nephew inflicted upon him with the boyfriend supposition, he would have slapped Miya’s thigh again. Not because he’d deserve it, but because it feels good under his hand.
“Just bein’ cranky then,” Miya amends, and Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. “Look, Omi-omi, if ya wanted me to be yer boyfriend ya just had to ask, ‘cause this is like, the best first date of my life. What a story.”
“You want this to be a date?” Kiyoomi asks, because Miya is a weirdo. Kiyoomi can’t imagine a universe where helping a stranger search for his maniacal kids counts as a good date or a date at all, but Miya’s grinning that lopsided grin that makes Kiyoomi’s stomach do flip-flops and his brain feel goopy.
“Sure, why the fuck not? Whaddya say? It’ll make for a great conversation at parties, which ya obviously go to so often.”
“Obviously,” Kiyoomi says, fighting back his own smile. “Alright then, deal. It’s a date.”
“Awesome,” Miya says, extending a hand over the centre console. Kiyoomi pauses, and then takes it, lacing their fingers together. Miya squeezes hard enough to crush bones and lifts it triumphantly as he turns to grin at Teiji. “Shot, little man.”
“What the fuck,” Teiji says, horrified. Kiyoomi glances at Miya. Miya is looking right back at him, perpetual grin stretching wider and wider.
“Swear tax,” they say in unison.
“Cough up,” Miya demands, releasing Kiyoomi’s hand to hold a palm out to Teiji expectantly.
“Yeah,” Kiyoomi adds, “give me back my fucking money.”
Teiji sulkily pushes the arcade card into Miya’s hand, alongside another hundred yen. Kiyoomi frankly feels a little light-headed, knowing how much was in his wallet and knowing how little remains in Teiji’s possession. It probably means he’ll have to pass on the orgasmic-level salads from the little boutique bar that’s opened next door to his apartment building for the next couple of weeks, and that is a tragedy.
“Damn, Omi-kun, they cleaned ya out.”
“Swear tax?” Teiji tries. Miya pulls his eyelid down and sticks out his tongue.
“Nice try,” Kiyoomi says, “Miya can swear all he likes, since he didn’t steal my wallet and run off around Tokyo.” Miya lolls his head to the side and grins at him. Kiyoomi debates the ethics of letting go of the steering wheel just to stick his tongue down his throat. Unfortunately, there is a child in the car, so Kiyoomi settles for wistfully turning his gaze to the road and imagining Miya’s tongue in other places.
“Oh, shit,” Miya says, “I lost so much money to an eight year old.”
“How financially responsible of you,” Kiyoomi says, and then immediately feels guilty. Miya laughs, because it’s a joke and Miya seems to like jokes, even when they have little barbed hooks on the end. They bounce off him anyway, like his skin’s made of titanium or some shit. No staying power whatsoever. Usually, that would piss Kiyoomi off, but given that he actually doesn’t want to upset Miya, he’s kind of glad. And a little concerned. Miya really should be more worried about people being mean to him.
“Whup,” Miya says, “update. We’ve shifted a couple blocks over- movie theatre.”
“Don’t say that.” Kiyoomi fights the urge to close his eyes against the sudden and violent onslaught of second-hand embarrassment at the thought of having to sweep the theatres with a little flashlight to find his niece. He’s sure that would go over wonderfully with the ushers. Such a fantastic conversation he can’t wait to have.
“I’m just keepin’ ya updated, Omi-kun. I’m designated navigator after all.” Miya stretches across the centre-console. Kiyoomi can only half-enjoy the strong muscle of his forearm because he’s still trying to reckon with the emotion he would feel having a complete stranger flash a blinding light in his face in the middle of a children’s animated feature. Or a slasher film. Whatever the kids are into these days.
“I think you broke him,” Teiji says, unhelpful. Kiyoomi agrees. Miya wrinkles his nose, and then slaps Kiyoomi’s thigh. Hard.
It burns through him. Electric shocks go straight from the sensitive skin on the inside of his leg, buzzing violently at the base of his spine and then rocketing straight up the vertebrae and threatening to short-circuit his brain. As it is, he lets out a strangled yell, and reflexively slaps back at Miya. He half-catches his chest. Miya yelps, and then lightly punches Kiyoomi’s shoulder.
“What is wrong with you?!”
“Me?! Yer the one who spaced out!” Miya pouts, rubbing his severely uninjured tit. Kiyoomi kind of wishes he copped a better feel. Maybe later. Maybe that will be his reward for surviving this nightmare night; squeezing Miya’s titties like stress-balls.
“I’m fine, but you really shouldn’t default to violence,” Kiyoomi huffs, gently rubbing at his leg. Miya’s eyes follow the movement, and Kiyoomi tries not to flush under his scrutiny. It’s easy to get wrapped up in Miya that way, Kiyoomi thinks. He hasn’t known him for a long time, but something about him radiates ease. He likes it; likes the way it wraps around him like a blanket. It makes him feel less strangled by fear than he had been when Miya had descended into his life like some kind of ultra-sexy guardian angel.
“I have a twin brother, whaddya expect?” Miya settles back into his seat, checking Teiji’s phone again.
“It’s true,” Teiji says, straining forward to try and see what Miya’s doing. “Wait- are you playing Fruit Ninja?!”
“Yeah,” Miya says, and grins around the knuckle of his thumb as Teiji emits a sound not unlike a caterwaul.
“Christ,” Kiyoomi mumbles, and takes the turn a little more violently than he needs to just to let gravity slam his nephew back into his seat. Perhaps it’s not the most babysitter-ish move Kiyoomi could have pulled but in all honesty? The little shit kind of deserves it.
“Where’s my niece now?” Kiyoomi asks Miya, who turns the phone toward him, before apparently remembering the road-rules etiquette.
“Still pingin’ at the same location, but that was like five minutes ago so who knows. Maybe the extortionist prices of the cinema industry made her change her mind.”
“I’m genuinely surprised you know that word.”
“Ow? C’mon, I can be sexy and smart, Omi-kun, I’ve got multiple dimensions.”
“Can you two not do this in front of me?” Teiji says, and Kiyoomi glares at the road and hopes it reflects in the windshield so his nephew understands how little his opinion means to him right now.
“I am having possibly the worst night of my life, and that includes the time I got pneumonia and almost died, so frankly I think I’m allowed to tell Miya that he has nice biceps, thank you very much, Teiji-kun.”
“Aw, ya like my biceps?” Miya puts a hand over his heart and bats his lashes. Kiyoomi has to smother a laugh into his shoulder, trying to ignore the way his mouth reflexively curls up in the corners. Oh, it’s bad. The last time someone had been able to make him smile that much was Wakatoshi, when Kiyoomi was younger and had never experienced heartbreak. That kind of giddy foolery isn’t something he engages in anymore, but something about Miya makes Kiyoomi think he can’t escape it.
“It’s an objective fact,” he says, “don’t go getting cocky.”
“Ooh, too late.” Miya nods, sagely, then focuses back on the phone. “Oh, would ya look at that. I was right.”
“No kiddin’.” Miya falls quiet for a bit. “Damn, this kid is like, attached to Snapchat. Not even Rin-Rin updates his this much.”
“Do you have a boyfriend you didn’t tell Kiyoomi-oji about?”
“Yeah.” Teiji squints. Kiyoomi tries not to feel light-headed. Miya is nice. Miya seems somewhat responsible and also like his life is at least a little together, even if he’s not financially stable.
“Mm, nah.” Miya shakes his head. “He kinda has this whole thing with my brother, y’know? Would be a bit awkward. Besides, I’m not the kind of guy to agree to dates with pretty boys if I already had a boyfriend. That’s just a jerk move. Don’t do that.”
“Who do you think is asking me on a date? I’m literally twelve,” Teiji says, nose wrinkling in disdain.
“You think I’m pretty?” Kiyoomi says, trying not to sound too audibly touched. Miya winks.
“Obviously, Omi-kun. Yanno, for a smart guy, yer actually kinda dense sometimes.”
“Shut up, you don’t know me.”
“Maybe so, but I wanna.”
“Ugh. Does that actually work for you?” Miya laughs, shrugging his shoulders all the way up to his ears in a false picture of innocence. Kiyoomi can see through him. He knows better. It’s still so cute it makes him want to punch something. Stupid Miya.
“Sometimes,” Miya says, “but I prefer it this way. I kinda like to prove I deserve it.”
“I don’t think that’s a healthy approach to relationships.”
“Probably not.” Miya nods sagely. “But what can I say? I watched way too much-”
Teiji has been rolling his window down. This is a fact that has managed to escape Kiyoomi because he was so preoccupied with the colours sliding off of Miya’s pretty hair as they pass through the city. It is a fact that is also very apparent to Kiyoomi now, because Teiji’s whole head is out the window, and he is yelling.
And he is yelling at his sister.
“Fuck!” Kiyoomi says, and Miya bends himself into something vaguely resembling a pretzel to be clear of any windows. He hurls himself half across Kiyoomi’s lap to forcibly wind the window up, while Teiji desperately tries to keep it down. Kiyoomi watches as Terumi turns and bolts back into the building. Teiji leans back from the controls and the window winds up with the familiar light whir of technology. He looks smug. Kiyoomi exhales roughly, through his nose.
“I so do not like you right now.”
“That’s fine,” Teiji says, “you’re not even my coolest oji-san.”
“Have we considered turnin’ yer sister’s murderous rage onto him?” Miya asks, still wedged half across Kiyoomi and ducking away from the window. “I kinda think it’d be warranted. Yer smart, Omi-kun, ya could come up with something.”
“At this point, I’m getting close to murdering him myself and living with the consequences.”
“Oh yeah, that checks.”
“I’m right here?!”
“What now?” Kiyoomi sighs out. “There’s no way we can search the whole building, right? Where are we, anyway?”
“Uh.” Miya checks his phone. “Doctor Google says that there’s a record shop open late here, but ya also gotta consider she’s gonna have access to the stairwells and probably the back exit. Looks like it has an alternate route from the other side.”
“Terumi did get really into vinyls last year,” Teiji says, and Kiyoomi sighs.
“I’m going to be so broke by the end of tonight.”
“Chin up, Omi-kun, I’ll cover ya.”
“I thought you were between jobs?”
“Hey!” Miya huffs. “Did I ever say I didn’t have anythin’ saved up?”
Well, no. Kiyoomi turns to do another sweep of the block. It’s a futile hope that he’ll manage to cut Terumi off again, but he can’t help but want it anyway. It also gives him time to think on Miya. There are little pieces of him that are starting to add up, but it’s an incomplete puzzle picture. Kiyoomi purses his lips in thought, slides a curious look at the other man from the corner of his eye.
“You’re not a secret billionaire, are you?”
“No way,” Miya snorts. “Yer definitely the one with money between the two of us, but I don’t do too bad. Or, I guess I didn’t.”
“Your boyfriend doesn’t even have a job,” Teiji says with a snort. “Lame.”
“Ya know what?” Miya turns to glare at Teiji. Kiyoomi should probably be on high alert for how his nephew shrinks back in shock, but it’s honestly a little thrilling. He’s a terrible uncle, he knows, delighting in his nephew being bullied. To be fair, he did poke the bear. “I think I know what’s next, Omi-Omi.”
“We offload kid number two, and then we switch rides. This is the second time we’ve been caught out. Technically it was this one’s fault, but it’s probably better if we come at ‘em unexpected completely, y’know? None of ‘em will pick up on my truck.”
“Good plan.” Kiyoomi nods. “Small problem: I can’t keep bugging Wakatoshi. Or, rather, I won’t. So.”
“I got it covered.” Miya nods. “Most responsible guy I know, probably. I’ll get him to pass his CV on when we drop him off, okay?”
“I don’t like it,” Kiyoomi says, “but it’s better than the alternative. Call him.”
It takes some struggling and a lot of cussing over the truly incomprehensible Bluetooth settings to disconnect Kiyoomi’s phone and connect Miya’s instead. Teiji watches them with a smug little smile, which Kiyoomi chooses to mean that he knows what to do and just refuses to tell them. They figure it out without him anyway, which makes Kiyoomi feel marginally younger and less incompetent.
Miya’s caller ID reads tetsu as the line rings out. For a long time, it looks like no one is going to answer. Then there’s a click, and some rustling, and an irate voice.
“Oh, Kenma.” Miya blinks. “Hey, Tetsu around?”
“Mgh,” Kenma- apparently- says. There’s some rustling, and the phone is clearly being held away from someone’s mouth, but it’s still very loud when the voice- supposedly named Kenma- shouts, “Kuro!”
“Christ,” Miya whines, “take out my eardrums why dontcha?”
“Don’t be a baby.” Kenma sniffs. “Shouyou’s freaking out because you cancelled. You know how he gets- now he’s called Tsukishima and Tsukishima called Kuro and you know how Kuro is-”
“Stop slandering me,” says a very familiar voice. “You are literally in love with me.”
“Oh,” Kiyoomi says, faintly.
“Atsumu,” says Kuroo Tetsurou from That One Party. “How’s it hanging, you depressed bastard?”
“Ugh,” Atsumu groans, “are they that bad?”
“Shou-chan is of the opinion you are pretty much dead yeah,” Kuroo continues, oblivious to Kiyoomi’s meltdown. Because of course he is. Because he doesn’t even know Kiyoomi is here. Because he’s talking to Atsumu, who has his number and calls him Tetsu and knows him. This is not good. This is an apocalyptic level of catastrophe.
“They’re worryin’ too much.” Atsumu sniffs. “I’m fine, ya know that.”
“I mean, I don’t. I know you’re probably past the crying about it stage and all that, but it’s not like you to wimp out.”
“I’m not wimpin’ out! Take that back right now.”
“Would if I could, but it’s just a fact.” He’s just like Kiyoomi remembers him. That’s also not good. “So, how come you’re calling me? Shouldn’t you be answering Osamu’s calls to stop him from going greyer than he already is?”
“Absolutely not, ya know how he’s gonna get on my ass about it. Anyways, I’m on what is about to be a real fun story to tell at parties, and long story short I got a new bud who needs an impromptu babysitter.”
“I don’t think I want to know, but I’m so curious.”
“I’ll tell ya if ya say yes.”
“Normally I get the conditions before I agree, Tsum. You’ve also managed to piss off Kenma already, so you’ve gotta give me something to work with here.”
“Well, there was this hot guy in the convenience store-”
“Shaddup,” Miya huffs, “I’m story-tellin’, let me tell my story. Anyway he looked like he was havin’ a bit of a heart attack, his eight-year old proposed to me, turns out the rest of his kids are missin’, and now we’re huntin’ ‘em down together like some kinda fucked up buddy-cop movie.”
Kuroo is very quiet for a long while. That’s something that shocked Kiyoomi about him initially. He’d been so infatuated by the third year in his second-year biology class about something or other that Kuroo was also taking as an elective. Seeing him at parties, he was bombastic and charming and bigger than anything. His ability to be quiet had been genuinely shocking, but Kiyoomi supposes he should have seen it earlier. Kuroo’s shrewder than most people give him credit for.
“Tsum,” he says eventually, voice just a shade too soft. Kiyoomi knows it’s the wrong tone to take, because Miya instantly looks like a thundercloud. “I know it might be dire, but I don’t think dropping everything to become a house-husband is the most reasonable course of action.”
“His sister’s kids, ya asshole, he’s just babysitting.”
“Are you… having this whole conversation on speaker?”
“Yeah. Car’s fancy as shit. It’s got Bluetooth.”
“... In front of the kid?”
“Yes,” Teiji yells from the back. Kuroo sighs, but Kiyoomi doesn’t miss the amused uptick at the end of the exhale. It’s shocking that after all this time, Kuroo hasn’t changed a bit.
“Drop by,” Kuroo says. “Text me when you’re outside. I’ll tell your brother you checked in.”
“You owe me one. The world-famous Kodzuken is looking at me like I killed our dog.”
“Wait-” Teiji all but yowls, leaning forward in his seat so violently his seatbelt locks.
“Absolutely no-” Kuroo hangs up in the middle of his rebuttal, and Miya looks like he might hurl his phone out the window. It’s only then that Kiyoomi realizes that he failed to make himself known. Which means that Kuroo doesn’t know it’s him. Which also means that Miya doesn’t know that Kuroo has reason to care that it’s him. This night is his own personal hell. He thinks really hard about points in the last forty-eight hours where he could have actually died to explain how everything just keeps getting worse all the time.
“You know Kodzuken?!” Teiji demands, reaching his hands out to shake the back of Miya’s seat.
“Duh, ‘cause I’m cooler than you.”
“How’d you meet him? No one meets Kodzuken.” Teiji is desperate now, eyes almost bugging out of his head. He looks like he might cry. Miya shrugs, busies himself on his phone.
“We made out a couple times when he was in college.” Kiyoomi’s jaw drops. “Guess that translates to bein’ friends in Kenma-language. Had my tongue down his throat and all, ain’t much more awkward it coulda gotten.”
“What,” Kiyoomi says, when he manages to get enough air in his lungs to strangle out a word.
“Vicious DDR battle. I’m eighty percent sure he’s just attracted to people who are competent at video games. Tetsu- his boyfriend- is kinda a monster at ‘em. And he gets real competitive about Wii Tennis.”
“You hang out with Kodzuken.” Teiji slumps back into his seat. “Oji-san, you have to date him now.”
“Don’t say that,” Miya yelps, “now he’s not gonna do it just to spite ya!”
Kiyoomi’s three biggest motivators, in order, are general pride in maintaining a thorough standard of excellence in literally everything, Spite with a capital-S, and comfort, but even he isn’t spiteful enough to pass up on dating Miya. Well, maybe. Technically giving him head in the back-seat of his car doesn’t have to be dating.
Miya leans across the console to plug in Kuroo Tetsurou’s home address. The last time Kiyoomi saw Kuroo Tetsurou, he was living in an apartment the approximate size of a shoebox and eating instant ramen every night with a few leaves of garlic-fried lettuce sprinkled in for something resembling a ‘balanced’ diet on a budget. Both he and Kuroo had been under no illusions about this being at all healthy, given that Kiyoomi had an allowance and a particular lack of fundamental cooking abilities. Needless to say, it’s not the same home address.
Mostly because Kuroo Tetsurou stopped being Kuroo Tetsurou from BIO219 and became Kuroo Tetsurou from That One Party in Kiyoomi’s final year of college, when Kuroo had been a graduate for several months already, with a job he liked and looking a lot healthier and broader in the shoulders. Mostly because back then, Kuroo Tetsurou had been giving Kiyoomi possibly the best head of his life in the guest bathroom and he most certainly was not dating the quote-unquote World-Famous Kodzuken, who back then was just Kenma, Kuroo’s notoriously introverted best friend whose existence was dubious given roughly three people could claim to have laid eyes on him for long enough to confirm he wasn’t a figment of Kuroo’s imagination.
They’d never spoken after the incident. Kiyoomi had maintained some foolish hope for some kind of a relationship, given that Kuroo was tall and had a charming smile and offered his elbow to nice old ladies crossing the road and always kept his lab bench meticulously organized and colour-coded his highlighted notes. What had actually happened was that Kuroo had simply gone back to his newly-adult life, and Kiyoomi had gone back to chugging unhealthy amounts of energy drinks to get through lab reports he really, really didn’t want to write.
Kenma had gone to the same college as them. Kenma had been in college when Miya met him. Theoretically, Kiyoomi surmises, Miya could have been the one giving Kiyoomi possibly the best head of his life in the guest bathroom of That One Party, and not the hot stranger witnessing Kiyoomi’s highlight reel of mortifying ordeals.
“Okay seriously,” Miya gripes. “Knock it off. I know yer embarrassed about needin’ help and all, but Tetsu’s not gonna care. One time, Bokkun made a Screwdriver in an old litre-bottle of soft drink, chugged it, and put his head through a wall. He’s seen worse and much more embarrassing shit than this.”
“Shut up,” Kiyoomi grumbles, glaring at Miya from the corner of his eye. “You try losing the kids you were in charge of and then asking random strangers for help.”
“Been there, done that, Omi-kun. One time me and Samu left our cousin at a gas station.” Miya must clock whatever combination of horror, amusement and ‘of-course-you-did’ is on Kiyoomi’s face, because he wrinkles his nose. “Aw c’mon, don’t be like that. It was an accident. Well, mostly.”
“How can you mostly-accidentally desert someone?” Teiji asks.
“We kept drivin’ for like ten minutes before we convinced ourselves to turn around.” Miya shrugs, gives Kiyoomi a plaintive, searching look like he’s begging for forgiveness with just his eyes. As if Kiyoomi is in any way qualified to give him penance of any kind. “Cousin Hayato is kind of a dick.”
“Yeah,” Kiyoomi says, flicking his eyes pointedly at the rearview. “I understand family members who are a pain in the ass.”
“Ya do, dontcha?” Miya agrees, and he grins. His grin is so bright and makes Kiyoomi feel so bathed in sunlight that he instantly forgets that he’s pulling into a parking space outside a house. A house. Kuroo Tetsurou has a house. Kiyoomi feels vaguely light-headed.
“This is very… traditional,” Kiyoomi says, as Miya swings out of the car.
“Oh, for sure, Tetsu’s a big nerd about architecture, and Kenma doesn’t really know shit about properties or whatever so when they were house hunting he pretty much just let Tetsu do what he wanted.”
“This is Kodzuken’s house,” Teiji whispers, wide-eyed, not even minding Kiyoomi’s vice-grip on his shoulder. “I’m going to Kodzuken’s house.”
“Aw,” Miya says, “Tetsu’s gonna eat him alive.”
“Kuroo-san seemed nice on the phone,” Kiyoomi protests, as Miya jams his hands into his pockets and half-skips toward the gate. His only response is a crooked half-grin, as Miya mock-bows with a flourish to let them through.
It probably should have occurred to Kiyoomi sooner than it does that he has absolutely nothing prepared to say when facing a college hookup for the first time after the fact. As it is, the thought hits him square in the face while Miya is banging on Kuroo Tetsurou’s door, and Kiyoomi can hear feet shuffling on the other side, and someone laughing like a hyena. Then, Kuroo Tetsurou is pulling the door open, and a shit-eating grin is spreading across his face.
“No fucking way,” Kuroo says.
“Hello, Kuroo-san,” Kiyoomi mutters, trying to be less acutely aware of the force with which Miya’s head snaps to stare at him.
“You know Kodzuken’s boyfriend?!” Teiji all but wails, turning in Kiyoomi’s grasp to rattle him by the front of his shirt. He puts a hand on his forehead and holds him at arm’s length, trying to stop himself from turning beet red in front of an old college acquaintance. He’s not having much success, he knows this. He can feel it creeping down the back of his neck and flooding to the tips of his ears. Kuroo just grins his charming little grin, the motherfucker, and lazily lolls his head to the side.
“Small world, huh, Tsum?”
“Tiny,” Atsumu agrees, “since apparently ya go way back with Omi-kun, I’m gonna deliver you another kid later.”
“Oh, express shipping and all?”
“Somethin’ like that. We’re on a tight schedule.”
“It’s ‘we’ now, is it?” Kuroo arches a brow. Kiyoomi elbows Miya with a scowl, even though it’s been them for long enough now. He’s past the point where he can feasibly claim Miya isn’t part of the team. Miya’s right, it is like a fucked up buddy-cop film. It’s the most insulting part about this whole night.
“Yeah, yeah, yukk it up,” Miya says, rolling his eyes. Promptly, Kozume Kenma appears on the lip of the genkan, trailed by possibly the largest labrador Kiyoomi has ever seen in his life . It must hit Kozume’s mid-thigh at the very least, and it’s muscular instead of portly and overfed. It also sees Miya and starts wagging its tail like its life depends on it, charging toward him as Miya lets out a delighted gasp and crouches to welcome the animal into his arms.
“Oh hello, my baby,” Miya croons, ruffling the dog’s ears. “Hello, hello! Who’s a good girl? Ya miss me? Miss yer favourite oji-san? ‘Course ya did, my sweet girl. Hello.”
Kuroo and Kozume watch Miya baby-talk the dog. Then, in eerie synchrony they raise their gazes to Kiyoomi’s. He understands. There’s something amusing about watching Miya make smoochy noises at a dog that is practically vibrating out of its skin with joy. There’s also something about it that makes Kiyoomi want to demand he take him ring shopping in Roppongi and then elope with him the day after. He’s pretty sure that’s just a him thing, though.
“You’re Kodzuken,” Teiji says, jaw hanging open. Kozume’s face scrunches, and he takes a decisive step closer to Kuroo, skulking in his tall partner’s shadow.
“Is he?” Miya says, still petting the dog.
“Am I?” Kozume says, still squinting suspiciously at Teiji from the relative safety of the space behind Kuroo.
“Yes,” Teiji whispers, reverent. Kozume gives his boyfriend a disgruntled look, and then turns and disappears back into the house. The dog wrenches itself from Miya’s arms to chase after its owner, claws clicking on the wooden floors. Miya looks devastated as he drags himself back to his feet, patting dog hair off his clothes. Teiji turns pleading eyes on Kiyoomi.
“You made this too good for him,” he says to Miya, sounding exactly as accusatory as he means to. Miya grins his cheeky grin and shrugs his shoulders up to his ears. What can you do, the stance asks. Kiyoomi can think of at least sixteen different things they could do once Kuroo takes the damn kid already, but alas, they don’t have time for any of them.
“I’ll text ya when I’m comin’ back around,” Miya says, and Kuroo nods.
“Behave,” Kiyoomi tells his nephew, chopping him on the top of his skull before shooing him forward. “Be polite, especially to Kozume-san.”
Teiji doesn’t respond, moving on something like autopilot as he steps into the house. Maybe autopilot isn’t the right word. He kind of moves like The Terminator if The Terminator’s main goal was to trail a globally-famous streamer around his own house with starry eyes. Kiyoomi says a silent apology to Kozume for what Miya has unleashed upon him. It’s unsettling that he did it on purpose, too; unsettling that Miya’s depravity can reach such lows; unsettling that Kiyoomi is kind of into it.
“Call me if ya have any problems,” Miya offers, hands on his hips.
“I live with Kenma,” Kuroo says. “A twelve year old is like, the opposite of an issue.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Miya waves him away with a dismissive flick of his wrist, leaning around him to yell into the house, “Bye Kenma! Bye Kitty!”
“Miya,” Kiyoomi says, brow furrowing, “that is very clearly a dog.”
“No, that’s her name,” Miya says, staring back at Kiyoomi with mirrored confusion.
“The dog’s name is Kitty,” Kiyoomi repeats, takes one look at Kuroo’s manic grin, and understands. “Of course it is.”
Kuroo laughs, the sound like wood being shoved through a chipper, and waves them goodnight as he closes the door. Kiyoomi spends the walk back to the car pondering how letting Kuroo Tetsurou name animals isn’t somehow illegal.
“So, car swap?” Miya says as he buckles himself in.
“I suppose so. Dare I ask if your truck is an upgrade?”
“Better music, that’s for sure.”
“You know what?” Kiyoomi says. “I think that counts.”
The convenience store parking lot looks emptier, somehow, when Kiyoomi rolls the people-mover back into it. Miya’s truck still sits, alone and abandoned, but the night is deeper now, and there’s no other sign of human life. If Kiyoomi were an iota more paranoid, he’d bank on bad things happening. Miya has no such qualms, hurtling himself from the passenger seat to stumble across to his truck and dramatically flop against the hood. Itsumi’s car is nice, so Miya has no real reason to complain, but Kiyoomi can’t lie: he’s not exactly unhappy about leaving it behind.
The inside of Miya’s truck is somehow exactly what Kiyoomi expected, and not at all. It’s meticulously clean. All the seats have seat covers, there’s air fresheners hanging from the rearview, and there’s not a speck of dust in sight. Floor mats. The radio has been swapped out for something newer and presumably functional. There are polaroids clipped to the sun shades and tacked to the dashboard. Miya and his twin, Miya and many others who must be his beloved friends. Miya annotates the polaroids with their names, places, dates. Puzzle pieces that add up to some truth about Miya’s life.
“How d’ya feel ‘bout pickin’ the music?” Miya asks, dangling his unlocked phone in front of Kiyoomi’s nose.
“I feel like I’m going to make you regret that decision,” Kiyoomi says, taking it from him to scroll through his saved music. He has a lot of it, and clearly no shame. Kiyoomi raises his brow at consecutive titles sex and sex but slightly to the left. A faint part of him whispers that maybe he’ll learn the contents of it some other time, when he’s not hunting down his sister’s wayward children. He mentally curls a fist and smacks himself on the head with it, picking something safer and less likely to make him think such distracting thoughts with so much at stake.
“Okay,” Miya says, several minutes into the quiet, “so what was the weird tension with Tetsu?”
“What weird tension?” Kiyoomi says automatically, and blames Motoya. “There was no weird tension.”
“Dude, I’ve watched my brother be the most hopeless flirt in the world ever since he discovered the concept of flirtin’. That might have fooled yer cinderblock of a friend, but it sure as fuck ain’t gonna fool me.”
“There really wasn’t any-”
“C’mon, Omi-kun, don’t be so stingy! Look, I’ll even tell ya somethin’ embarrassin’ about myself if ya ‘fess up.”
“Ugh,” Kiyoomi says, but he can’t help the little twitching smile that threatens the corner of his mouth. He pulls the hood of his sweater toward his mouth to cover it, eyes glaring at Atsumu in the driver’s seat. Atsumu bats his lashes innocently, and Kiyoomi sighs. He vaguely remembers defeat from his years as a volleyball player, but he doesn’t remember it ever tasting this sweet. “We hooked up once, in college. I had the biggest crush on him for a long time.”
“No fuckin’ way.” Atsumu laughs. “Oh no way, yer Sakusa from That One Party. Damn. Tiny, tiny world.”
“Kozume talks about me?” Sakusa feels light-headed. He needs to leave the country and assume a new identity. He hears Iceland is nice this time of year.
“Oh, he like, actively hated yer guts for several months. Did ya lose yer dorm key in yer last year?”
“I did, yeah. How did you know that?”
“Well,” Miya says, and doesn’t elaborate. Kiyoomi’s glare becomes a little more real and less pretend.
“Okay, well, it wasn’t really him,” Miya says. “Mostly me and Keiji-kun. Mostly me.”
“Akaashi Keiji?! From the literature department?!”
“Surprisingly vindictive, yeah,” Miya says with a sage nod. “Sorry ‘bout yer key by the way. Keiji-kun made Kenma return it ‘cause he felt bad, but I thought it was hilarious.”
“I literally cannot believe you were menacing me that long ago.” Kiyoomi sinks down into his seat, feeling absolutely gutted with the truth of it. Miya Atsumu was running wild and free through his college, laughing and partying with people Kiyoomi knew and, in some cases, liked. He could have passed Miya at that party and been none the wiser. He could have passed him in the street and never known. Parts of Miya seem woven into his life in ways Kiyoomi hadn’t even been aware of. He wonders how many times they passed each other without knowing. He wonders what it could have meant for them, to have met sooner, someplace other than here.
“Okay, it wasn’t menacing, it was exactin’ revenge for my friend.” Miya rolls his eyes, and then sighs, suddenly less cheerful. “Still petty and stupid, sure, but fuck if ya care about that shit when yer young.”
“It’s not like you’re particularly old, you know. Stop talking like a grandpa.”
“Sorry.” Miya laughs, “Endings and all that.” Before Kiyoomi can ask what he means, Miya turns the music up.
“Where are we heading?” Kiyoomi asks, raising his voice just a little. He’s never been the best with people or understanding the intricacies of emotions, but Miya is refreshingly easy to read. Kiyoomi can see the tension in his shoulders, the grim set of his jaw. Even he can tell that’s universal code for ‘drop it’, and he doesn’t want to push. Not when the interior of the truck is warm, and Miya looks more and more relaxed the longer Kiyoomi goes without asking him to clarify.
“Skate park,” Miya says with a shrug. “I figure we’re shit out of luck on the Thing Two front, and I don’t wanna play my cards for the eldest just yet. Still workin’ out the logistics of it.”
“Should I be worried?”
“Dunno. Depends how adverse ya are to shenanigans.”
“Shenanigans like stealing a stranger’s dorm key from their room for having sex with a perfectly handsome man?”
“Nah, that’s tomfoolery.”
“Ah, in that case? Not adverse at all.”
“Cool. I’ll keep ya in the loop.”
“You’d better,” Kiyoomi says, and means it beyond Miya’s plan.
In the centre console, Teiji’s phone buzzes. Miya’s eyes flick to it briefly, before they lock back on the road. Kiyoomi supposes that he’s in charge of the phones now, so he gingerly picks it up- and tries not to focus too much on all the gross places twelve year old boys could have put their disgusting hands- to read the message. Immediately, it feels like being struck point-blank between the eyes with a paintball. Another message buzzes through. Now it’s like being smacked over the head with a cast-iron skillet.
“What’s it say?” Miya asks, without looking away from the road.
“It’s from Terumi,” Kiyoomi says, sounding far away, like his mouth is moving on autopilot as he reads out the messages. “Are you still with Kiyoomi-oji? Get away if you can, I’m going to the train station to visit Nishimura-”
Miya’s foot slams down on the gas and the truck speeds forward with such violence that Kiyoomi has to brace both hands on the dashboard. Miya floors it through a yellow light, takes the corner much faster than strictly necessary, and all Kiyoomi can do is wedge a foot on the dash and strangle the grip above the window with white-knuckles. Teiji’s phone is still clutched in his other hand. He yelps as Miya picks up even more speed to cruise through yet another set of lights, closing his eyes and bracing for impact. There has to be impact somewhere, because Miya is driving like a fucking madman.
“Not this time, ya little shit,” he mutters to himself, and Kiyoomi understands it, he really does, but he’s also about to piss himself in fear because the Fast & Furious movies gave him anxiety and living them is really not fucking helping.
“Oh this is it,” he whispers, “I’m gonna die.”
“Don’t be so dramatic Omi-kun, yer fine. GPS the station for me, will ya? I still don’t know the area super well.”
It’s hard to type it in when his hand is shaking and Miya is also going faster than the speed of light. The fact that the truck can even go this fast is frankly shocking, given that it’s shrieking and rattling like it might decide to simply fall apart any second now.
“In four-hundred metres, turn right,” the monotone voice of the app intones. Miya slaps the indicator on and swings around the corner so fast that the momentum wedges Kiyoomi up against the window. He makes a little sobbing sound, and Miya, who is evil, takes a hand off the steering wheel to pat his knee consolingly, before he rests it on the gearstick and shoves it up a notch. Kiyoomi gets the impression this is not going to end well for him.
“You don’t have to drive this fast you know,” he tries, voice more high-pitched than he’d like. “She’s a twelve year old girl. On foot. She’s not fucking Sonic.”
“Who knows how far ahead of us she is, Omi-kun. I’m gonna stop that train.”
“I’m starting to think you have screws loose.”
“Probably,” Miya says, and then takes another corner so suddenly that Kiyoomi shrieks, even with the advance warning from the app. “Tou-san says he dropped me a lot as a kid.”
“Explains a lot,” Kiyoomi says, closes his eyes, and prays.
He refuses to open them again until Miya has wedged his car into a spot at the train station’s parking lot. They are both, miraculously, in one piece. Kiyoomi has sweated all over his own phone case, and Teiji’s phone is upended into the centre console between them. Miya is panting like he just ran a marathon, chuckling around it.
“How do ya feel ‘bout ice cream?”
“You’re buying,” Kiyoomi says, swinging out of the car on wobbly legs. Miya doesn’t protest.
They post up on benches across from the turnstiles, Kiyoomi’s hoodie pulled tight around his face and Miya simply lounging, a tourist cap proclaiming he red-hearts Tokyo wedged tight over his head to hide the blonde. His thigh burns where it presses against Kiyoomi’s, shoulder to shoulder on a seat where they really don’t have to be. Kiyoomi doesn’t mind. He feels kind of boneless after Miya’s insane driving, and it’s nice to half lean on him, watching him put away dark chocolate flavoured ice cream like it’s nothing. How he doesn’t have brainfreeze is beyond Kiyoomi. Maybe he’s physically fighting it in his head, or mentally hitting it with a little imaginary version of his noxiously-red truck like a battering ram.
“You don’t think we missed her, do you?”
“Nah,” Miya says, around a mouthful of ice cream. “Not that ya would have any idea ‘bout it since ya had yer eyes closed the whole time, but we kinda had to drive a while. Unless she was already in the station, I reckon we beat her to it. Any clue who Nishimura is?”
“None.” Kiyoomi scrubs at his face, turns it into Miya’s shoulder briefly. His cologne smells crisp and clean. Kiyoomi kind of wants to stay nestled into the crook of his neck for the rest of forever. “I told you, these kids don’t like me.”
“I’m kinda gettin’ the picture, yeah. Don’t worry though, I got some ideas for revenge.”
“Okay,” Kiyoomi says. “Is key-stealing involved?”
“Nah.” Miya offers Kiyoomi a spoonful of ice cream. He accepts it, even though he’s barely touched his own. Mint chocolate chip, his own choice. “Are ya gonna lord that one over me forever?”
“Most likely,” Kiyoomi responds, schooling himself into grim seriousness. In reality, he feels a pleasant warmth spread through him at the idea that Miya belongs to a time beyond this night. It’s Kiyoomi’s impression that Miya is a vagrant in his life; transient like the weather, a tropical storm that blows in tonight and is gone with the morning light, staining everything glassy with his memory and leaving Kiyoomi struggling for breath.
“I s’pose that’s fair,” Miya relents. Teiji’s phone buzzes, where it’s set face-up on his thigh.
“Wow,” Kiyoomi says, “teenagers are stupid.”
“I coulda told ya that one for free,” Miya says, tucking the phone into his pocket and getting to his feet. He holds a hand out for Kiyoomi with a crooked smile. It’s funny; half his face is shadowed by the bill of his cap, but his smile is still so radiant it lights him all the way up. Kiyoomi lets himself be hauled into him, and dumps his untouched ice cream in the first trashcan they pass by. It tastes better from Miya’s spoon, apparently.
There’s no sense of urgency as he and Miya walk the length of the station to the spot outlined by Terumi’s text. Kiyoomi lets his knuckles brush Miya’s with every step, until he finally feels bold and curls a pinky around Miya’s middle finger. Miya curls his hands up, gives his pinky a little squeeze, and then lets him be. Kiyoomi tucks his face against his shoulder momentarily, in an effort to banish the pleased smile that settles on his face.
Terumi is, predictably, exactly where she said she would be, because she has no reason to suspect that Teiji could ever be physically separated from his phone. If Kiyoomi had never met Miya, he might have found this a little more reasonable, but within an hour or so of knowing the guy, he’s become convinced he could flash his baby-browns, bat his lashes and show a little bit of canine in his movie-star smile and immediately make anyone do anything he ever wanted. He could rob him blind, and Kiyoomi would thank him, probably. On any other day but this one; he makes a mental note that despite Miya’s frankly insane level of mouth-watering yum, he will be pissed if his wallet is taken from him twice in under twelve hours. Being robbed once by a bunch of children is insulting enough; being robbed by a guy you’ve been having vivid sexual fantasies about is even worse.
“I can feel ya seethin’,” Miya says, squeezing Kiyoomi’s pinky again. “Deep breaths, Omi-kun, or she’s gonna pick up on yer murderous vibes.”
“My vibes aren’t murderous,” Kiyoomi mutters in half-hearted protest. They were violent, at least. Miya hums, and then he gently lifts Kiyoomi’s hand up to his mouth and presses a kiss to his knuckles. Kiyoomi feels himself flush, and he glances away, glowering at the ground as Miya chuckles, low and warm in the back of his throat.
“Shut up. Less flirting, more recovering my runaway child.”
“Aye-aye, captain.” Miya mock-salutes, and then gently disentangles himself from Kiyoomi.
He squares his shoulders, pulls his cap lower over his face and stalks off before Kiyoomi can ask what he’s doing. What Miya seems to be doing is making a beeline for Kiyoomi’s niece, who is chewing her thumb nail and scrolling on her phone with her free hand. Miya shoulder-checks her so hard that she stumbles, and clenches a fist to shake at him.
“Watch where you’re going, j-” Her tirade is cut off by the fact that her phone is no longer in her hand. Miya cheekily waves it at Kiyoomi, whose jaw has dropped a little. Terumi frantically checks the ground near her, turning in circles, before she finally looks up to find Kiyoomi standing directly in front of her.
“Shit,” she says. Kiyoomi holds out an expectant hand.
“Just for that, you can pay a swear tax of all my cash that you didn’t spend.”
“I spent it all,” Terumi says, eyes cutting left and right, probably looking for an escape route. She’s a terrible liar. Kiyoomi is briefly offended that someone who shares his DNA could be so fucking bad at it. It’s honestly a little insulting that she expects him to believe it.
“Nice try,” he says, “cough up.”
Grumbling, she digs money out of her pockets and pushes it back into Kiyoomi’s hand. He feeds it carefully into his own pockets- the front ones this time, since he’s mostly sure he’d notice if anything went missing from there unless Miya actively had a hand down his pants- until she holds up both hands to indicate she’s got nothing left to give. Kiyoomi raises an eyebrow. Terumi wedges her hand into the back pocket of her jeans and pulls out another crumpled note, before folding her arms over her chest.
“Nice one,” Miya says, appearing at his shoulder. Terumi’s hackles raise like a very small dog.
“You,” she says, seethingly. Miya points at himself, wolfish grin smacked across his face.
“That’s my phone! You stole that!”
“I think the saying goes finders keepers, losers weepers?” Terumi’s mouth hangs open as she looks to Kiyoomi for help. Kiyoomi simply shrugs, and holds out his hand for the phone, which Miya passes to him without complaint.
“I am a little shocked at how easily you managed that. Should I be concerned for my belongings?”
“Omi-kun, I’m wounded. If I wanted to rob ya, I woulda done it ages ago. Besides, it’s just phones. I have a twin brother, y’know, it necessitates gettin’ creative. One time I created a fake backing in his phone case and put a magnet in it so I could use the opposite pole to drag it across the floor to me. Ya do whatcha have to.”
“What,” Kiyoomi says, blinking. “Literally what.”
“He had a really embarrassing picture of me, okay? I had to delete it ‘cause he kept threatening to send it to my crush.” Atsumu rolls his eyes. Kiyoomi shakes his head and decides to be concerned about it later. Instead, he puts a hand on Terumi’s shoulder.
“I’m going to erase the last thirty seconds from my mind so I can live in a world where you’re slightly normal. Just text Kuroo-san and tell him he’s got the second child incoming.”
“Babe,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi’s toes curl, “I think this whole night has been testament to how abnormal I am, but whatever helps ya sleep at night.”
“That was gross,” Terumi says, and Kiyoomi clamps down on her shoulder probably harder than necessary as Miya leads them out of the train station and back to his truck. He’s aware that such visceral reactions to an off-hand pet-name are a bit cringy, but fuck it. It’s been a long night, and at the end of it all, he deserves to get railed by the hot dude who seems to be having the time of his life on what is easily the weirdest adventure of Kiyoomi’s entire existence. Getting excited about being called babe is his God-given right, actually, and twelve year olds don’t know anything anyway, so Terumi can just zip it.
“That’s not Okaa-san’s car,” she says, squinting at Kiyoomi.
“It’s not,” he agrees, as Miya swings the back door open with a mock-bow. Kiyoomi all-but lifts his niece into the back seat as she glares at him.
“I’m telling the others.”
“Really bold of you to assume you’re getting your phone back,” Kiyoomi says, and shuts the door on her protesting yell.
“That was kind of hot,” Miya says, lounging against the car. “Are ya proud of me? I snuck the child locks on.”
“Ugh,” Kiyoomi says, hooking one finger through his belt loop, “that’s so sexy.”
“I know right,” Miya croons, leaning one arm on the hood of his truck and curling forward so his nose almost brushes Kiyoomi’s. “I put the kid to bed, sweetie, what’s next?”
“I can see you!” Terumi yells, outraged and somewhat muffled by the car door between them.
“Put all of them to bed for real and there might be adult time later.”
“Gee whizz,” Miya says, and slaps Kiyoomi on the ass. It leaves a pleasant tingle for his whole walk around to the passenger seat. By the time he opens the door, Miya has already strapped himself in, and is being bombarded with questions by Kiyoomi’s niece.
“Who are you, anyway? Kiyoomi-oji doesn’t have a boyfriend, everyone heard Okaa-san say so, and it’s not right to lie to your siblings, so if Kiyoomi-oji lied then I’m telling Obaa-san.”
“Okay, snitch.” Miya doesn’t sound bothered as he watches Kiyoomi buckle up and turns his key. The sound of the engine rolling over drowns out Terumi’s scandalized gasp. Kiyoomi is, for once, pleased at the sheer amount of noise Miya’s truck makes, because he’s pretty sure laughing at his niece would have been dutifully reported to his mother, too.
Terumi sulks in the back seat for the majority of the ride. Miya sacrifices his phone to Kiyoomi so that he can tell Kuroo they’re swinging by again with kid number two in tow. Kiyoomi’s fingers itch with curiosity. He sneaks purposeful, cagey looks out of the corner of his eye to see if Miya notices or cares. What he gets in response is a warm, amused smile. It’s a brief, fleeting moment, and then Miya turns back to the road, but it’s enough to have significant staying power in Kiyoomi’s brain.
Carefully, he taps away from the messages screen. Miya undoubtedly hears the sound of Kiyoomi’s thumb pressing down on the home button, but he doesn’t even glance at him. Kiyoomi allows himself to look. Miya’s home screen is a photo of him in a hoodie one shade off of fluorescent yellow, ripped jeans and a pair of the ugliest, neon-greenest sneakers he’s ever seen in his life. He’s seated on a skateboard, the photo taken in the dead of night, beer clasped in a loose fist so he can do a peace emoji, the flash lighting up the road and the surrounding houses. Idly, Kiyoomi strokes his thumb over the cocky grin on Miya’s face. His hair is tousled, roots growing dark and fringe flopping over his forehead. He looks younger. Happier, even.
He sneaks another glance at Miya from under his lashes. The Miya he knows is tenser in the jaw, mouth settled in a small, sated smile, but the more Kiyoomi looks at it, the more it looks carved there, like he doesn’t truly believe in it. It’s funny, he thinks, how Miya seems so big and bright, but one photo undoes him. Looking at anything else seems wrong, so Kiyoomi simply locks the screen and tucks it back into the centre console.
“Where are you taking me anyway?” Terumi finally thinks to ask, arms folded across her chest as she slumps back into the seat and glares daggers at Kiyoomi through the rearview.
“You’re going to stay with one of my friends,” Kiyoomi says. Miya raises a brow, grinning now. Kiyoomi narrows his eyes at him and Miya purses his lips together, puffs up his cheeks and turns his eyes back to the road. Kiyoomi lightly thumps his shoulder, and Miya’s hand reaches across to trap his wrist to his knee.
“You have friends?”
“From college.” Kiyoomi glares at his niece. Terumi looks far too smug. Twelve year-olds should never look so proud of themselves. “I give up. You can just hit the next one with the car.”
“That’s sweet, Omi-kun, but I’m not really into vehicular manslaughter.” Miya placatingly pats his knee before pulling his hand back to himself.
“I’m telling Okaa-san,” Terumi announces, and Kiyoomi rolls his eyes.
“With what phone? You think you’re the only one who ever learned how to convincingly fake cry?”
“Cold,” Miya says mournfully. Terumi scrunches up her face and then turns to glare out the window. “Can ya really cry on command?”
“A useful skill in the college… dating… scene.” Miya laughs, tipping his head back against the seat with a grin so broad it shows off his strangely sharp canine. Kiyoomi is overcome with the overwhelming desire to lick it. He bets it’s sharp enough to cut his tongue.
“You’re a weird dude,” Miya tells him, eyes dancing in a way that makes Kiyoomi’s heartbeat echo in his ears. “I dig it.”
“You’re weirder,” Kiyoomi shoots back, and Miya’s grin grows impossibly wider. Only Kiyoomi’s general aversion to stupidity and a twelve year old spectating stops him from unbuckling his seatbelt and throwing himself into Miya’s lap to kiss that stupid grin off his face. “I… also dig it.”
“Yeah? Ya think I’m cute, Omi-kun?”
“Old people are so weird,” Terumi says, and Miya makes a wounded noise. Kiyoomi puts a hand over his face to hide his smile, pulling one knee up to his chest and wrapping an arm around it so he can grin against his kneecap. Shyly, he lifts his eyes, to find Miya looking back for a brief moment, before he takes a deep breath and turns his eyes back to the road, grin still quirking up the corners of his mouth. It looks more real this time. Kiyoomi hopes he makes him feel like that, too.
“Don’t tell my brother ‘bout this, ‘kay?”
“Promise,” Kiyoomi tells him, like he’s in any way capable of contacting the second Miya.
“Oji-san, you can’t drop me off with a stranger,” Terumi says, leaning forward and waving a hand between them to get Kiyoomi’s attention. “What if they’re secretly a serial killer or something? You’re really uncool, you know, you probably would make friends with one.”
“Wow,” Miya says, as Kiyoomi sighs.
“Kuroo-san is not a serial killer,” he says. “He is a perfectly responsible, reasonable babysitter.”
“Well, I dunno about perfectly,” Miya muses, indicating and turning a corner. “There was that one time with the shaving cream.” Kiyoomi stares at him. Miya flicks his eyes from the road, and then back to it with a grim nod.
“Ya didn’t know, did ya?”
“I did not.”
“Cool,” Miya says, “I never mentioned it. I’ll know ya narked, by the way, and I give painful wedgies.”
“What are you?” Terumi says from the backseat, venomous. “Twelve?”
“Pot,” Miya says, “meet kettle.” That shuts Kiyoomi’s niece the whole way up to Kuroo’s house, because Miya is some kind of specific evil crafted solely to combat children. Kiyoomi is in awe of him. Or maybe he’s just in awe of his ass as he skips up the steps to Kuroo’s house and knocks on the door. Probably the latter, he decides, tilting his head just a little to get a better angle. It’s a really great ass.
“Kid number two,” Miya announces when Kuroo opens the door, and Kiyoomi ushers Terumi toward him. She stubbornly digs her heels in, which makes Kuroo raise a brow at her, and then lean halfway across the doorframe to scratch his dog behind the ears.
“So, what’s the plan now?”
“Two down, two to go. I reckon we hit the skate park for emo-boy next. Why, ya got some kind of a plan, Tetsu?” Kuroo shakes his head in answer to Miya’s question, nodding back toward the inside of his house.
“I want to help as much as I can, but the one kid is already driving Kenma mental and there’s only so many kids I can juggle running interference for at once. I’m a talented multi-tasker, but I’m not that talented.”
“Wuss,” Miya says. Kuroo wrinkles his nose, and gives Kiyoomi a look that says can you believe this shit? Kiyoomi, who has spent at least two consecutive hours with Miya so far, absolutely can. He simply nods, sagely, and pushes his niece toward Kuroo when she’s least expecting it.
“You can’t abandon me here!” she yells, bracing herself on the doorframe. “I’m not going in! You can’t make me.”
“On the contrary,” Kiyoomi says through gritted teeth. It’s been a while since he’s done sports, but he keeps up with his gym routine and it’s not like he’s little. Terumi is twelve, and Kiyoomi is six-four and reasonably fit. He’s absolutely sure he could hurl her like a bowling ball if push came to shove, although throwing one of her precious children around is something Itsumi would frown on. Heavily. With scalpels involved. And Kiyoomi likes his organs intact.
“What kind of twelve year old doesn’t like dogs?” Kuroo asks, with a raised brow, before making a kissy face at his dog. “There there, Kitty, I still love you, even if the mean little twelvie doesn’t.” Kitty the labrador does not seem perturbed about the twelve year-old’s lack of fascination, given that her eyes are closed and she’s leaning her whole body weight on Kuroo’s leg. Miya has not taken her eyes off of her once. Kiyoomi thinks he might start vibrating in jealousy.
“The dumb kind,” Miya says, sounding like he’s bored. “It’s alright, Omi-kun, if she doesn’t wanna stay with Tetsu and Kitty, we can always call up my friend Tooru and ask him to look after her instead. He’s mean and he hates kids, so I’m sure he’d sort her out.”
“You’re lying,” Terumi says, squinting at Miya seethingly. Miya looks her dead in the eye, with a wolfish grin.
“Maybe. But d’ya really wanna find out?”
“Tick tock,” Kiyoomi adds for emphasis. Terumi glares at him balefully before stomping past Kuroo and into his house with an ornery and rather rude ‘apology’ for her intrusion. Kuroo gives Kiyoomi a bemused look.
“Look at you, well-oiled machine. You look good, by the way, Sakusa. What are you up to these days?”
“Osteopathy,” Kiyoomi manages, “in Osaka.”
“No shit? Well hey, good for you, it looks like it’s treating you well. Lost kids notwithstanding. Good luck with the other two.”
“Who needs luck when he’s got me?” Miya asks, throwing a casual arm on Kiyoomi’s shoulder. Kiyoomi feels himself flush all the way to his hairline as he tugs at one of his hoodie strings and struggles not to smile. Kuroo looks between him and Miya, and Kiyoomi remembers with sudden, chilling clarity just how fucking perceptive Kuroo is.
“Oh yeah, this is gonna be good,” Kuroo says. “have fun with that.”
“I intend to,” Miya says, exchanging some complicated hand-shake with him, before Kuroo does a peace sign and slowly closes the door. Kiyoomi reaches out and grabs Miya’s hand, folds his fingers into the crevices between Miya’s own, and tugs him toward the car again. Miya doesn’t resist, swinging their hands lightly as they walk. It’s a simple gesture, flows with the lax amble of Miya’s gait, but it warms Kiyoomi from his toes to his ears and makes him feel just a bit lighter.
Miya’s dashboard clock reads twenty-two minutes past midnight, and Kiyoomi feels calm. It’s strange to think that less than three hours ago, the time would have sent him into a spiral, but with Miya turning over the key and slowly reversing out of his parking space with a face of intense concentration that Kiyoomi has become familiar with, he feels alright. Better than alright, even. When Miya turns onto the road, Kiyoomi takes his hand from the gearstick, places it on his own thigh and pushes his knees together to trap it there. Miya shoots him a grin from the corner of his mouth and circles his thumb with a gentle squeeze.
The lights of the city pass over the planes of Miya’s face, painting him in purple-yellow like an eternal sunset. Kiyoomi watches that tenseness melt from his features, feels his fingers flex on his leg, and trails his own up the corded muscle of Miya’s wrist. Somehow, Miki Matsubara has made her way onto the radio, and she sounds perfectly at home in the cocoon of a world Kiyoomi has crafted inside this cab, even if it’s only for the night. It’s sinking into his marrow; the knowledge he doesn’t actually want to forget, that he wants the phantom of Miya’s touch to feel as vivid and real as it does just now.
He yawns, lulled into security by the faint hum of citypop, and Miya’s thumb circling his skin, Miya’s pulse under the tips of his fingers. Miya huffs a laugh and squeezes again, closer to his knee this time so that it forces his muscles to twitch with the reflexive need to kick something.
“How d’ya feel about coffee, Omi-kun? Ya look like yer about to nod off on me.”
“I can stomach it with at least two sugars, a flavour shot and a lot of milk. It’ll probably mess up my sleep for tonight, but I honestly don’t think I’ll be getting much of it anyway.” Atsumu hums with a little nod. “And you’re buying.”
“Anythin’ for ya, Omi-kun.” It’s much too grand a statement. It makes Kiyoomi laugh, a huffy little thing snorted out through his nose against his will. It relaxes something inside him, and he smiles, pulls Atsumu’s hand higher again and laces their fingers together, hands tucked safely between his thighs.
“Well, maybe not that,” Miya says, “y’gotta release me. The old girl’s strugglin’ here.”
“Oh, I suppose.” Kiyoomi sighs, smiling at Miya from under his lashes as he releases his hand. Miya ratchets the truck up two gears in rapid succession and then immediately returns his hand to Kiyoomi’s leg like it never belonged anywhere else. Kiyoomi winds their fingers together and inspects Miya’s perfectly manicured nails, the strength of his palm and the delicate flexing of bone and tendon under the skin. He has a trio of light freckles on the far edge of his hand, and Kiyoomi traces them in a figure eight. Miya’s hand twitches, ticklish, but he doesn’t pull it away. Kiyoomi’s starting to feel like it goes both ways; he could bat his lashes at Miya and give him a little pout and he’d hand over everything he owns and his soul too, and he’d do it with a smile.
He likes that about him.
It’s silly, Kiyoomi thinks as Miya departs from the truck to buy them coffee. It’s far too soon to be making any suppositions as to Miya’s true character when he’s known him for less than one night, and everything he’s shown Kiyoomi is only what he’s wanted to. But Miya seems kind, he seems devoted and lively, someone who finds greatness in all the small things, who lives life unapologetically and curiously.
It’s so different to anything Kiyoomi has ever known. He’s always been careful; overly concerned about illnesses, or broken bones, or permanent damage to his body. He always stretched dutifully before volleyball games, he cleans his apartment regularly so mold can never build up, and he eats well, exercises properly, avoids smoking and alcohol lest it shorten his lifespan. Miya is none of those things. Miya thinks chasing children across a city is the best game in the world, and that is infectious to Kiyoomi. He should be on the verge of tears, fighting back a violent panic attack. Instead, he’s laughing, and imagining wearing Miya’s shirts and little else, trailing his foot up the inside of a bare leg, and then-
Kiyoomi’s phone blares a particularly obnoxious ringtone so suddenly that Kiyoomi jumps. A scowl crosses his face briefly. He set that particular ringtone for Motoya years ago, a sure warning against the bullshit that would inevitably follow. Of course Motoya would somehow divine Kiyoomi’s thoughts and call to interrupt them, but ignoring him would have much more dire consequences, so Kiyoomi swipes to accept the call a little violently and wedges his phone against his ear.
“That’s no way to treat your favourite cousin,” Motoya’s crackly voice says over the speaker. He sounds like he’s in a club, if the thudding that’s drowning out his voice is any indication. “So, I need your advice-”
“I can’t right now,” Kiyoomi lies, “I’m busy.”
“Doing what?” Motoya scoffs. “And don’t say reading or like, watching one of those weird niche documentaries because that’s just you developing into a lonely old spinster. I have actual problems. Boy problems. And you have half a brain sometimes so I need you to advise.”
“I’m not at home,” Kiyoomi says, racking his brain for something that Motoya would respect. “I’m on a date.”
“What?!” Motoya hollers into the phone loud enough to kill at least fifteen percent of Kiyoomi’s hearing. He holds the phone away from his ear with a grimace. “With who? Who the hell managed to get you out past midnight? Oh my god, are you like, are you sleeping over?”
“What? No, ew, no.” Kiyoomi wrinkles his nose. “And even if I was , I wouldn’t talk about it with you. We’re related. You don’t need to know where I’m sticking my dick.”
“I highly doubt you do any sticking,” Motoya says, because he’s the worst. Kiyoomi scowls at Miya’s rugby ball charm hanging from the rearview mirror, and flicks it with extreme prejudice. “Anyway, let’s circle back around to who, Kiyocchi. I need details. What if you don’t come home? What will Oba-san say if she knew I talked to you and didn’t make sure you were safe?”
“It’s no one you know.” Kiyoomi rolls his eyes at Motoya’s dramatics. “He’s just someone I met in Tokyo, but if it’ll stop you from harping on at me, his name is Miya Atsumu-”
“Shut the fuck up!” Motoya yells at a decibel just below being audible to only dogs. “Shut up! Get the fuck out of town! You’re shitting me, right? Yakkun put you up to this, right? You’re absolutely kidding.”
“No?” Kiyoomi raises a brow.
“You’re on a date,” Motoya repeats, slowly, like Kiyoomi is a particularly stupid child, “with Miya Atsumu?!”
“And you think I don’t know who that is? You think I don’t know Olympic-level rugby player Miya Atsumu? Scrum-half for Osaka’s MSBY Jetstreams? Voted Japan Rugby’s Heartthrob six years running? Most insane kicking accuracy rate in the last twenty years?!”
“You know him… why do you know so much about a rugby player?”
“Uh, because he’s hot?” Motoya says this like it’s an obvious thing. Kiyoomi scowls at the windshield. Motoya is a volleyball player. Surely there are plenty of hot guys in the volleyball scene? He does seem particularly concerned with Yaku Morisuke, probably more than is actually healthy. “I like sports, Kiyoomi, and I especially like sports where there are hot men in little shorts, slamming into each other for fun, and Miya Atsumu is like, um, mouth-watering? Delicious? Like I want to have his babies?”
“I am extremely concerned for you,” Kiyoomi says, and means it.
“Okay, be concerned then, but if you’re really on a date with him then you must have like, touched a thigh or something. Okay you have to touch a thigh for me or I am officially disowning you as my cousin. Like, his thighs are so-”
“Okay, I don’t need to know what his thighs are like. I said I met him in Tokyo and there’s no sleeping over happening, we’re just… we’re just hanging out, okay.”
“I actually don’t believe you, and if you don’t fuck him I will be so fucking disappointed because you are living my dream. Do you have any idea the amount of things I would give up to have Miya Atsumu bend me in half and raw me? Do you?”
“I really don’t want to.” Kiyoomi rubs his brow in distress. “If he’s so hot, why haven’t you hooked up with him, then? It’s not like you’re shy.”
“Um, hello? He fucking vanished off the face of the planet. Did his ACL last season, and pretty badly too. He was in recovery for a bit, and then someone saw him at the airport, and then no one heard anything about him for like six months. Just gone. And like, Suna- you know Suna from the team?” Kiyoomi does know Suna from the team, because Motoya thinks all his friends should be friends and this means Kiyoomi gets VIP tickets sometimes since all Motoya’s sisters want to do is flirt with the players. “Yeah, well, Suna’s dating his brother.”
“What?!” Kiyoomi feels his voice go up an octave. “What do you mean Suna’s dating his brother?”
“I mean his twin has a chain of onigiri shops or something, I dunno, but he has deals with the V. League where he sets up a stall at away games to help grow his brand or something and I’ve been trying to get an in with his twin for literally years and it never happens. Like, he’s always busy or playing or dating someone else and then he does his ACL and I’m like, I can play doctor, right? I have that sexy nurse costume from Halloween in twenty-seventeen and then he just fucking leaves-”
“Okay,” Kiyoomi interrupts, “ignoring your disturbing fantasies about bedside… help, what you’re telling me is that I’m on a date with an internationally famous athlete?”
“Yes, duh,” Motoya says.
“And his brother isn’t a rugby player?”
“No? I mean I think he played back in high school or whatever, but I’ve met him and he definitely didn’t go pro like his brother did. He’s one-hundred percent in the food industry. I’ve tasted his onigiri and they’re to die for. Like probably better than sex but not by a long shot.”
“You should see someone,” Kiyoomi says meanly, “you have issues.”
“Okay whatever, but like, suck his dick for me okay? Please, I’m giving you my blessing. My guy problems will be miraculously solved if you suck his dick and I will let you off the hook.”
“Goodbye, Motoya,” Kiyoomi says, and hangs up to the sound of his cousin making sickening kissing noises into the phone. He tosses the offending object back into the centre console and frowns hard at the dashboard, carding his fingers through his hair.
So Miya lied to him. He is the Miya-senshu in question, although Kiyoomi supposes he can understand why he would want people not to think that. He could understand keeping it a secret, although Kiyoomi’s not exactly sure if he strikes people as a fan of any kind of sport right off the bat. Then again, if Miya had owned up to it, he’s not exactly sure he would have taken it well. Mostly, he thinks he might have thought that Miya was bragging. And then again, the injury plays into it, recontextualizing all of the stress that had seemed to bleed through Miya after Kiyoomi had seen a photo of him where he’d been genuinely happy. Maybe Miya simply didn’t own up to it because he wasn’t sure he would be an athlete for much longer.
Kiyoomi’s not stupid, he knows that an ACL is a tough injury to come back from. Miya’s probably got a professional physiotherapy team behind him, which gives him hope, but it’s not like it’s a matter of doing everything right for the perfect reward. Bodies are fickle creatures, and there’s always the chance that Miya could do everything perfectly and still not be in any condition to play again. There’s also no guarantee of how long it would hold up, always the possibility of doing his other knee too, trying to take some stress off the bad one. It’s a tough situation. It makes Kiyoomi’s gut roll a little. He’d been a hair away from signing to a professional team just out of college, and the thought of his career ending over an injury like that… it makes his brow pinch and his mouth feel sour.
“What’s up?” Miya says, startling him so violently that he smacks his head against the head-rest and cringes. “Ya kinda look like ya saw a ghost.”
“You lied to me,” Kiyoomi says, before he can stop himself, and Miya blinks. “My cousin called. I mentioned your name to him and he had a lot to say about Miya-senshu .”
“Ah.” Miya closes his eyes with a resigned sigh, shoulders slumping just a little. “Right. Yeah. ‘Course.”
“I get it,” Kiyoomi says, “at least I think I do, but I still just- you lied to me.”
“To be fair, if ya were doin’ the askin’, I probably wouldn’t have lied. Ya just happened to overhear me tell a tall tale. Samu and I used to switch places all the time, but it got harder when I dyed my hair for obvious reasons.”
“Right.” Kiyoomi folds his arms across his chest and glares at his feet, lost to the shadows under the dash. “I should have googled you.”
“Alrighty,” Miya says, awkwardly hopping back into the car with his hands occupied by take-out coffee. “I’m startin’ to think we should unpack that a little more. Are ya mad ‘cause I’m kinda famous and I didn’t tell ya, or are ya mad because me lyin’ about it makes ya trust me less? Like, I gotta know how much of a dick I’m entitled to bein’ right now.”
“I don’t know,” Kiyoomi says, and finds that he means it. “It’s not like I don’t know what a fucked up ACL does to your career, and I think I get it but… nevermind, it’s stupid.”
“It’s not.” Miya carefully settles their coffee into the centre console’s cup holders, turning in his seat to face Kiyoomi a little better. “If it makes ya upset, then it’s not stupid. I think more people could stand to be honest with what they really want from people.”
“Are you asking me to be a blunt jerk?”
“Somethin’ like that,” Miya grins, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Kiyoomi exhales roughly through his nose.
“If you laugh at me, I’ll pour that coffee over your dick,” Kiyoomi tells him, and Miya’s eyes twinkle in delight. “I know we don’t actually know each other- like, at all- but after everything… I do trust you. And I thought you liked me, at least enough to be honest with me.”
“I do like you,” Miya says quietly. “I wouldn’t lie to ya about that. It’s a sore subject right now, for obvious reasons, which is why I didn’t bring it up again, but if ya asked me point-blank, I’d tell ya the truth.”
“But you didn’t,” Kiyoomi replies, feeling like a child with how small his voice comes out. “You told me you were between jobs.”
“Fuck, I’m gonna sound like such an ass.” Miya closes his eyes, pushes his hand through his hair and grips at the top of his head in a way that must be painful to his scalp. “Technically I didn’t. Lie to ya, I mean. Provisionally, my contract is renewed so long as I can play again. I’m headin’ back to Samu’s place down in Osaka so he can be with me when I go in for the final check-up in a couple days. They don’t want me to be alone.”
Kuroo had made that joke. Kiyoomi hadn’t thought anything of it, because he’d been too busy thinking about himself and arbitrary problems like facing a dude who sucked his dick once. He closes his eyes against the shame of it, puts a hand over his face with a sigh. Miya laughs, but it seems humourless, tired and defeated.
“I don’t ‘spose ya got any advice, do ya? Yahoo answers dot com, what do I do if I can’t do the only thing I ever wanted to anymore? How are ya s’posed to deal with the knowledge that ya achieved yer dream and it might be endin’ soon, and there’s not a damn thing ya can do about it?” Kiyoomi shakes his head, feels his heart drop somewhere low and pitiful in his stomach as he turns his face to give Miya his best apologetic smile.
“I don’t know, but I don’t think helping a stranger recover his runaway nieces and nephews is the right answer.”
“Ah, well fuck it,” Miya says, holding out one cup of coffee to Kiyoomi. “No one’s ever told me I’m renowned for particularly smart decisions. Not off the field, anyway.”
“The Snapchat thing was pretty ingenious.”
“That’s just ‘cause you think I have a hot ass,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi snorts behind the lip of the plastic lid. “Come on, Omi-kun. Kid number three awaits.”
“Unfortunately.” Kiyoomi sighs, getting out of the car and walking around to meet Miya in front of it. They take a few steps together in easy sync, before Kiyoomi reaches out and brushes his hand over Miya’s again. Miya brushes back, then turns his hand upward so Kiyoomi can settle their palms together and squeeze it tight. Miya smiles, relaxed, and lets Kiyoomi huddle into the bulk of his body heat.
“Ask me anythin’,” Miya says as they cross the grass leading up to the concreted skate park. “Anythin’ ya want, and I’ll tell you my honest answer.”
“Where did you go?” Kiyoomi says, swinging their hands idly. “Motoya said you disappeared, so where did you go?”
“New Zealand, strange as it sounds.” Miya huffs a laugh. “I figured if I was gonna go out, I should at least experience one of the most rugby-crazy nations for myself. Y’know how sometimes ya go looking for one thing and find shit ya never expected to find?” Kiyoomi does, but only vaguely. Probably not on the scale that Miya means. He nods, anyway. Miya just smiles, wry and nostalgic, and Kiyoomi grips his hand tighter.
“I think,” he says, feeling brave, “that I’m learning the feeling intimately.” Miya grins wider, lifting Kiyoomi’s hand to his mouth to brush his lips over his knuckles. It makes Kiyoomi flush to his hairline, ducking his head away and looking pointedly at his feet until grass gives way to concrete slab. Looking at Miya would be disastrous. If he looked at Miya right now, he’d never be able to hold himself back.
The concrete looks washed out under the harsh lights, Yukiya zipping through the basin with no direction. He hits the top lip and flips the board under his feet, but doesn’t quite stick the landing, and skids on his ass back down to the bottom of the hollowed-out area.
“Shit,” Kiyoomi says, pushing his coffee back into Miya’s hand and running for the basin. “Yukiya! Are you alright?”
“Fuck!” Yukiya yelps, scrambling to get to his feet.
“Wait, wait, wait!” Kiyoomi leaps over the edge and slides down the curved side, hands held up placatingly for his nephew. “Don’t run, please. We don’t have to go just yet, but are you okay? You’re not hurt, are you?”
“I think he’s fine, Omi-kun,” Miya says, and Yukiya lifts his head toward him with furrowed brows. “Just took a bit of a spill, but he didn’t hit his head and he cushioned his own fall. He’s probably just a bit scraped and bruised. Isn’t that right, kiddo?”
“Who are you?” Yukiya asks, rubbing his elbow now. Kiyoomi takes advantage of his being distracted to take a few quick steps forward and grab his forearm, extending it and flexing it to make sure nothing is broken. Yukiya struggles a little, before Kiyoomi lets out a rough exhale through his nose and puts a hand on his forehead instead, stumbling back and sitting down, hard. If something had actually happened, he’s not sure what he would have done.
“These are some sick wheels,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi tilts his head. Somehow, Miya has made it down the slope without spilling either coffee, and is currently nudging Yukiya’s skateboard with his toe. “Ya weren’t carryin’ it last time we saw ya, so where’d ya get it?”
“I’m not telling you,” Yukiya says, crossing his arms over his chest. “Kiyoomi-oji will just tell Otou-san and then I won’t be able to skate anymore.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Kiyoomi protests, biting down hard on the reflex to tell his nephew that he actually doesn’t care what he does, as long as he’s not actively running away from him when he’s trying to babysit. Yukiya sits down, hugging his knees to his chest and putting his chin between them. He’s glaring, but he also looks close to tears.
“Whatever,” he says, “you can say that all you want, but you freaked out too.”
“Your Tou-san doesn’t like it, huh?” Yukiya looks up at the same time Kiyoomi does. Miya’s face is shockingly pensive, an open expression that betrays everything he’s thinking. It’s so earnest it hits Kiyoomi somewhere in his solar plex and knocks the wind out of him. Miya places Kiyoomi’s coffee down, next to his hand, and then crosses to sit next to Yukiya, long legs stretched out. “He doesn’t want ya to skate?”
“No.” Yukiya glares, hugging himself tighter. “It doesn’t matter how many times I tell him that I like it, he says it’s too dangerous and people will think I’m a delinquent, and then I won’t be able to get a good job in the future. He doesn’t care that everyone already hates me, except here. No one treats me like a weirdo, or a freak, because I can skate and that’s all that matters. All the other kids at school only care about academics and universities, even though we’re just kids, and I hate math and I don’t understand it! It’s stupid!”
Kiyoomi looks at his feet as Yukiya sniffles, trying not to listen to the hiccuping sobs. He’s never been good at dealing with crying people, let alone crying children, and his nephew sounds so miserable. Kiyoomi can understand it, he supposes. His own parents used to fret about him playing volleyball, but he supposes that was a little less dangerous than skating. In theory, it wasn’t a contact sport, and so long as Kiyoomi took good care of his body and stretched properly, he would have been fine. Skating, on the other hand, feels like it has a lot more that could go wrong.
“Math is kinda stupid sometimes,” Miya agrees, and Kiyoomi looks up and finds that he’s idly shifting his feet. “Y’know, my Tou-san didn’t like that I wanted to play rugby too. He always thought it was too violent a sport, and that I’d get hurt. High school level stuff was okay, ‘cause we were all high schoolers, but we had the biggest fight when I told him I wanted to go pro. He told me I was throwin’ away my life, that I was settin’ myself up for heartbreak and disappointment ‘cause it could only end badly, and in some ways I think he was right. He knew then that I could get seriously injured and that’d be that, and y’know what I did last year? I tore my ACL. I knew what it was the second I went down, and as soon as they got me into medical I just started cryin’, and I couldn’t stop. Luckily, my contract got me in for surgery pretty quick, and I went back home to stay with my family through the early phases where I couldn’t even walk. And the worst part is Tou-san pitied me. He wouldn’t even say ‘I told you so’.”
“That’s not a very happy story,” Yukiya says, wiping his face. Miya nods, tilting his face back to the sky.
“I got so mad at him. We had a huge yellin’ fit, and I basically demanded he tell me he was right. I hate bein’ pitied, I can’t stand it, but I know… I know all he’s ever wanted is for me to be happy, and for me to be safe. I don’t have kids, so I can’t say for sure, but it can’t be easy watchin’ someone ya raised like that go through so much pain. I don’t think yer Tou-san means to make you upset the way he does, I think he just worries. Sometimes it’s hard to make ‘em understand when they’re so blinded by that fear, but if it’s somethin’ ya truly love… I think he’ll come around. And even if he doesn’t? From what I’ve seen, yer pretty damn good at it, and if ya love it, then fuck everything else, that’s the only thing that matters. Life ain’t worth a whole damn lot without love.”
“Oh,” Yukiya blinks at his feet. Kiyoomi barely notices, because he’s too busy gaping at Miya, who is smiling, kind of watery. “What are you going to do? About your ACL?”
“I dunno,” Miya says. “All goes well? I play again, and when I do my other one, I get that one fixed and I play again, and again and again and again until I can’t anymore, and then I’ll cry about it, probably work at my brother’s shop for a bit, and then I take it a day at a time until I find the next adventure. Everyone talks big about havin’ it all figured out when yer young, but that’s not the way, okay? Ya can just take things a day at a time, one foot in front of the other.”
“Okay,” Yukiya says, wiping his eyes. “I hope your knee heals. And I’m sorry for running away. It’s not because I hate you or anything, Kiyoomi-oji, I just…”
“I’m getting the impression your sister might have been somewhat of an instigator,” Kiyoomi says with a gentle smile.
“Yeah.” Yukiya nods, and Miya chuckles, taking a sip of his coffee. “You really think Otou-san will come around about skating?”
“I do. Omi-kun tells me that yer parents love ya a lot, and they’re probably just worried yer gonna get hurt, but as long as they know how much it means to ya, I don’t think they’d keep ya away from it.”
“How do I make them acknowledge that, though?” Yukiya looks at Miya like he’s hung the stars in the sky, like he holds all the answers to the known universe. Kiyoomi feels a little like that too, knowing his eyes have locked onto Miya’s eyes, flint-hard for the first time since he’s met him. They usually seem so alive and burning, but he’s thinking about it, serious and sure.
“I just did a lot of yellin’,” Miya says, and he’s honest. “But Omi-kun and I have gotta ditch ya so we can catch yer Nee-chan, so I’m thinkin’ I know someone who can help ya out.”
“Okay,” Yukiya says, pushing himself to his feet beside Miya. Miya collects his skateboard for him, and Yukiya tucks it gingerly under his arms. “I’m really sorry, Kiyoomi-oji. I wasn’t thinking.”
“It’s fine,” Kiyoomi says, even though it’s not really and he should never, ever do that again. “I’m just glad you’re alright.”
“See? Cool Oji-san after all,” Miya says, and Kiyoomi lifts a foot to kick him squarely in the ass as he clambers back up over the lip of the basin. Miya laughs like this is the best joke in the world, and extends a hand to haul Kiyoomi up after him.
“What position do you play?” Yukiya asks, as they wander back toward Miya’s truck.
“Scrum-half.” Miya’s free hand has found his again, fingers laced like it’s the most natural thing in the world. “Number nine. I was the team’s kicking specialist too, which is very cool of me by the way.”
“Awesome,” Yukiya says, with bright eyes. “What do you bench?”
“A lot, but that’s not really a good indication of fitness, y’know.” Miya grins. “But I can leg-press almost twice my body weight.”
“That’s interesting,” Kiyoomi says, taking a sip of his coffee. Miya grins at him and shoulder-checks him hard enough to make him stumble. Yukiya misses the whole interaction, busy mooning at Miya like he’s the coolest person in the world. Kiyoomi maybe, just maybe, relates to his nephew a little bit. Kiyoomi can’t imagine what he’d do in Miya’s shoes. Certainly, it wouldn’t be baring his soul like that in a skatepark.
Yukiya straps into the back of Miya’s truck, looking around it like it’s a trove of wonders. His eyes land on the polaroids stuck to the dashboard and the sunshades, dim in the dark of night. They bounce off the charms hanging from the rearview mirror, follow the way Miya’s hand flexes on the steering wheel as he turns his key over and puts it into reverse, turning slightly to carefully swing out of his parking space and turn them back toward the road.
“So have you been playing since you were a kid?” Yukiya asks, prompting Miya to turn down the radio a little.
“Yep, ever since I was seven. I saw a game on TV and I just wanted to do it too, y’know? I think it helped that I had a twin and I spent most of my young life wantin’ to body slam him all of the time, so the second we got an outlet we really went for it.”
“How come he didn’t go pro with you?”
“He had different dreams. I dunno, it sucked when he first decided it, and we fought a lot, but at the end of the day all we want is for each other to be happy, and if ownin’ onigiri shops is what makes him happy, then I s’pose it’s my destiny to be his most dedicated taste tester.”
“Does he have a store in Tokyo? Oji-san, we should get some of his onigiri.”
“He’s workin’ on it,” Miya says, with a crooked grin. “But hey, you ever show up, I’ll make sure he gives you the friends and family discount.”
“Oh,” Kiyoomi says, flushing, “you shouldn’t do that. We’d hate to detract from his business.”
“Whatever, Omi-kun, he likes feedin’ people, and I like ya. Ain’t like he’s gonna complain about givin’ out a few discounts here and there.”
“He’d help you out like that? Man, I’m pretty sure Terumi would actively sabotage any chances Teiji had at a relationship. Riko-nee has done that to me.”
“Okay, she doesn’t sound very nice. What’s her damage?”
“I don’t know,” Yukiya rolls his eyes. “She sucks, though. All she cares about is her makeup and clothes and boys now.”
“Be nice to your sister,” Kiyoomi says, mostly out of obligation. “Miya, where are we going now?”
“We’re droppin’ Yukiya-kun here with possibly the most tenacious person I know. If anyone knows anythin’ about convincin’ people ya can pretty much do the impossible, it’s him.”
“That’s unhelpfully vague. Thank you.”
“Welcome, Omi-kun,” Miya says, with a wink. Kiyoomi rolls his eyes and looks out the window, using his cup of coffee to hide his smile. Yukiya keeps peppering him with questions; where’d he grow up? What’s his favourite colour? Does he skate? Does he have any pets? Where does he live? Who’s the coolest person he’s ever met?
(Inarizaki in Hyogo, electric blue, not as well as Yukiya and not for many years, Higashiosaka, Aran, whoever that is. Kiyoomi commits these answers to memory.)
Miya pulls into a curbside parking space outside a set of apartments in an area Kiyoomi vaguely recognizes. Just around the corner, he’s fairly sure the Schweiden Adlers have their home gym. He’s only visited Wakatoshi there a couple of times, but he’s always had a fairly good eye for geography and the like, and it’s hard to forget places after he’s been to them once. Miya gets out of the truck and Yukiya hops out after him, trailing him with his skateboard clutched close to his chest, still asking questions. Now he’s on whether Miya is going to call him to help him with his math homework.
They’re buzzed into the building almost instantly after Miya hits the button on the intercom, and they load into the elevator, Kiyoomi with one hand curled into Miya’s again. It passes fairly quietly, Miya complimenting the art on Yukiya’s board while his nephew excitedly explains about how he saved up birthday money to get it custom painted by his favourite skateboard artist. Miya looks appropriately enthralled as they step out onto the correct floor, and follow the hall down to the last apartment.
Miya knocks, and Kageyama Tobio whips the door open.
“Sakusa-san,” he says, sounding like he’s been struck.
“Kageyama-san,” Kiyoomi manages in return. Miya is looking between them with a dawning understanding. Kageyama turns on Miya with a scowl darkening his features like a thundercloud, before there’s the pounding of feet on the floor and a blur of orange launches past Kageyama and leaps onto Miya with a vengeance.
“Atsumu-san!” Hinata Shouyou wails, clinging to the taller man like a limpet. Miya stumbles under Hinata’s weight, awkwardly patting his back.
“Christ, Shouyou-kun, give a guy some warnin’ before you jump attack him!”
“Are you okay?! Why’d you cancel on Bokuto-san?! Osamu-san was so freaked out, Atsumu-san, we were all so worried. Look at me!” Legs clamped around Miya’s waist, Hinata grabs him by the face and inspects his eyes. Miya stands there, looking vaguely unimpressed, before Hinata seems to deduce that Miya is, in fact, fine, and drops to the ground. Then he punches him in the tit so hard that Miya physically doubles over with a pained wheeze.
“That’s for giving us all a heart-attack. You can’t just say something came up when last time you said that you ended up on a plane halfway around the world!”
“That was different,” Miya whines. “This is what came up. It was legit this time.”
Hinata looks at Kiyoomi. Then he looks at Yukiya, who is gawking at him like he has two heads. Then he looks at Kageyama. Kageyama is fuming, trying to beam lasers directly through Miya’s head while Miya steadfastly ignores him, rubbing his own chest with a wounded little pout. Kiyoomi wants to kiss it off his face with a violent need.
“I didn’t know you knew Atsumu-san, Sakusa-san,” Hinata says, and Kiyoomi shakes his head. He’s only met Hinata a couple of times in passing when they’d both been in Tokyo to support Wakatoshi and Kageyama respectively. Aside from knowing that Hinata is an outside hitter for the Black Jackals in Osaka and that he’d gone to high school with Kageyama and played against Wakatoshi while there, he really doesn’t know that much about him. Somehow, the Miya-Hinata friendship is not surprising in the slightest.
“We just met,” he says. “My sister’s kids ran off while I was babysitting them and he’s helping me find them. This is one of the delinquents in question.” He lightly chops Yukiya on the top of his skull, which seems to shock him into talking.
“Sakusa Yukiya,” he says, with a quick bow, “hi.”
“Hi! I’m Hinata Shouyou, this is Kageyama Tobio, my partner.” Hinata points, and Yukiya nods. “I like your skateboard! Did you paint it yourself?”
“Oh, no, it was a commission, I was just telling Miya-senshu how I saved up to get it painted.”
“Yukiya-kun’s Tou-san is havin’ some problems with the idea of him skatin’,” Miya says, putting a hand on Yukiya’s shoulder. “I was hopin’ you might have some tips about how to convince someone to let ya do the thing ya love, even if it’s a bit risky, given the whole Brazil thing and all. And ‘cause I kinda need to leave him with ya for a bit while we hunt down the last one.”
“What?” Kageyama says, looking paler suddenly. He shuffles away from Yukiya, gripping the back of Hinata’s shirt.
“He’s a teenager, Tobio, not a crocodile. He doesn’t bite,” Hinata rolls his eyes. “We’re happy to look after him for you, if you need, but how come you have to dedicate so much energy to finding the last one?”
“Fifteen year old girl,” Miya says, and Hinata’s face goes sympathetic as he nods in understanding.
“Yeah, that makes sense. Natsu was a demon when she hit that age.”
“Natsu is an angel and I won’t stand for any slander of her,” Miya says, and Hinata wrinkles his nose.
“You didn’t have to be related to her, and also she had a crush on you, so your opinion does not count.” HInata gives him a pointed glare, and Miya holds his hands up in surrender, but he’s grinning.
“Thanks, Shouyou-kun. And I really am sorry about bailing, I know Bokkun said ya were thinkin' about comin' over to hang with us.”
“I’m just glad you’re okay. We can hang out in Osaka any time, but call your brother. He’s losing all his marbles. He sounded like he was going through it on the phone.”
“He literally knows I’m fine, but sure, I’ll call him again. Behave, Yukiya-kun.”
“Yes, Miya-senshu!” Yukiya sing-songs, accepting the offered fistbump. Kiyoomi is somewhat offended that his own nephew seems to prefer Miya to him. Miya simply grins and ruffles his hair before Hinata puts a gentle hand on his shoulder to usher him into the apartment.
“Now! About your Otou-san’s problem with skating…” he says, as the door closes behind him, obscuring the acute dread on Kageyama’s face from view. Miya stays still for a moment, just smiling, before he shakes his head and holds his hand out to Kiyoomi.
“Home stretch, huh?”
“I cannot believe my own nephew likes you more than me,” Kiyoomi says, and threads their fingers together. Miya chuckles, as they head for the elevator, and as the doors ding open, he lifts Kiyoomi’s hand to his mouth and presses a kiss over his knuckles. The warmth of his lips brands Kiyoomi’s skin, singing straight through tendon and bone, and sending a shiver up his spine as heat spills across his cheeks and down his neck. Miya chuckles, so Kiyoomi punches him in the tit.
“Ow!” Miya yowls, as the doors close. “Ow, fuckin’ low blow!”
Kiyoomi laughs the whole trip down.
“Do you have any kind of a plan?” he asks as Miya buckles himself into his truck. His hands flex around the steering wheel, and Kiyoomi stares, entranced. He has such nice hands. They’re big, and they’d feel good on his ass.
“I got one plan,” Miya says, “and it’s a fuckin’ long shot, but from what Yukiya-kun said I’m pretty confident I can pull it off, but it’s gonna make me look a bit unhinged.”
“Like you said, I think this whole night proves that your screws are a bit loose, and I have exactly nothing so even a crazy, half-cocked plan is better than that at this point.”
“Ah, Omi-Omi,” Miya sighs, making big puppy eyes at him, “yer such a romantic.”
“Shut up,” he laughs, and Miya grins, turns the engine over and pulls away from the curb.
“Yer not even gonna ask me what it is?”
“No, I feel like I’m having more fun observing you like some kind of scientific experiment.”
“Concerning!” Miya says, but his eyes are laughing, so Kiyoomi pulls his hand between his thighs again and leans his cheek against the headrest to watch him.
He’s so fascinating, the easy way his muscles move, how he gently slips his hand away from Kiyoomi to change gears almost absently. His hand always returns, rubbing comforting circles into Kiyoomi’s thigh while his feet ease on and off the gas, free hand tilting the wheel this way and that like it’s an easy extension of him. Driving was somewhat of a necessity for Kiyoomi’s sense of claustrophobia in crowds, but even then he doesn’t particularly like it. He’s far too aware of commanding a huge, metal death-trap. Miya, on the other hand, looks dauntless, like the car is just a tool and there’s nothing to fear from it, or from any other untold danger on the road.
He likes him so much.
That’s scary to think, really. He’s known the man for less than what could count as a night, but he’s funny and charming and brash and just a little bit insane, but who has ever claimed that Kiyoomi is anything resembling normal? He likes Miya’s big, cocksure smile, and he likes his calming hands and that dancing flame in his eyes and the way his laugh is big and full-bodied from somewhere deep in his chest. He likes his sharp canines and his hair that smells like coconut and the way his hand had felt giving his ass that slap. He likes how Miya makes him feel warm. He likes how Atsumu sounds, rolling about in his head and on the tip of his tongue.
“Hey,” he tries, swallows it down like something too syrupy sweet that’s stuck in the back of his throat.
“Mm?” Miya says, without looking away from the road.
“Atsumu.” The car jerks a little and Miya- no, Atsumu- tightens his grip on the steering wheel. “Atsumu.”
“Thank you,” Kiyoomi says softly, tracing his fingers over Atsumu’s knuckles, drawing little hearts over the delicate bones in the back of his hand. “For everything tonight. You know you didn’t have to go this far, right?”
“Maybe not,” Atsumu says, soft and quiet like it’s a truth he’s scared to voice, “but I wanted to. I wasn’t kiddin’ when I said I like ya. At first, it was just like ya needed someone and it’s easier to fix everyone else’s shit than it is to face my own, but I mean… spendin’ time with ya… I really do like ya, and I don’t just mean that I think yer hot. It’s kinda funny, little bits and pieces of ya are already sprinkled into my life and I never even knew it. Makes a damn good argument for fate, doesn’t it?”
“It does,” Kiyoomi agrees. “If you believe in that kind of stuff.”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been particularly spiritual but… well, it’s kind of hard to deny something like divine interference when we’ve been passing each other this whole time without even knowing.”
“Ships in the night,” Atsumu agrees, and Kiyoomi smiles, lets the warmth of it seep into his bones.
“Is it okay that I call you by your first name?”
“Omi-kun, it’s more than okay. I’ve been callin’ ya a dumb nickname all night and not once have ya complained about it. I think I can handle it.”
“Oooooh,” Kiyoomi mocks, “look at you, so big and tough.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty impressive right? Me and my massive biceps.”
“And your big, strong thighs.”
“Okay, weird choice, but yeah they’re pretty good.”
“My cousin’s obsessed with them, by the way. The one who sold you out.”
“Oh, good for me, I think?”
“He wants to have your babies.”
“Super concernin’,” Atsumu says, and Kiyoomi nods gravely.
“That’s what I said. Motoya has issue-”
“Like, Komori Motoya?”
“From EJP, yeah.”
“Yer shittin’ me.”
“I wish I was.”
“This night gets weirder and weirder,” Atsumu laughs, “I’m gonna beat the snot outta Samu for knowin’ ya existed and never cluing me in. Bastard.”
“In your brother’s defense, I don’t think I’ve ever met him.”
“Okay,” Kiyoomi laughs, and slides his fingers through Atsumu’s, cradling his hand in his lap and squeezing it intermittently. Atsumu rubs his thumb over the back of Kiyoomi’s hand, indicating while briefly stabilizing his wheel with his knee, before he turns them into the parking lot of a 24-hour McDonald’s. The drive through is fairly lively, even for this time of night, and the big yellow M casts a soft light through the windshield of Miya’s truck as he kills the engine.
“Alright,” he says, lifting their joined hands to his mouth again. “Are ya ready to commence Operation Catfish?”
“The name makes me extremely worried,” Kiyoomi says honestly, because Atsumu seems to appreciate honesty and it makes him smile that wolfish grin against the back of his hand as he presses gentle kisses over his knuckles. “But at this point? Fuck it, yeah, let’s do it.”
“That’s the spirit,” Atsumu says, holding out Kiyoomi’s phone to him. “I’m gonna need Riko-chan’s phone number.”
Kiyoomi dutifully keys in his pincode and hands his contacts over to Atsumu, who copies the number into his phone, and then hands Kiyoomi’s back to him. Under Atsumu’s instruction, he hooks up his phone to Atsumu’s radio and selects a pre-made Spotify playlist full of American songs with heavy, thrumming bass, experimenting with nooks and crannies within the car to make it sound a little more muted. When Atsumu’s satisfied, he gives him a thumbs up, and Kiyoomi makes himself as small as possible against the window of the car as Atsumu hits call.
Riko answers on the third ring.
“Bro, shut up, shut up,” Atsumu hisses, voice pitched deeper and thicker like something’s blocking the back of his throat. He giggles in a way that’s distinctly childish and Kiyoomi has to put a hand over his mouth to stifle a snort of laughter that Atsumu seems really pleased about.
“Heyyy,” he continues around another snorting laugh, “hey, uh, we got an order here for uh, like sixteen pizzas? Can you confirm payment for that?”
“Who is this?” Riko says, irritated.
“Huh?” Atsumu says, makes a show of pulling his phone away from his ear to glare at it. Kiyoomi muffles another whimpering laugh. “Wait, this doesn’t sound like Haruka?”
“No, this isn’t Haruka. Who-”
“Bro! Ya gave me the wrong fuckin’ number, ya dickhead!” Atsumu slaps his own thigh- hard- and it’s a really convincingly meaty slap. Kiyoomi jumps a little, tries not to howl with laughter as Atsumu grimaces and rubs the spot he slapped with a pout.
“Hello?!” Riko sounds enraged at being ignored.
“Hey, yeah, sorry ma’am, we were tryna prank call my friend, but someone’s had way too much beer apparently,” Atsumu scoffs, clearing his throat and leaning an elbow against the window vaguely as he pastes a smarmy smile onto his face and runs a hand through his hair. Kiyoomi snickers behind his hand. His dedication to the role is truly astounding. “I’m really sorry to bother ya- oh, shit, hey, what’s yer name?”
“Riko,” Riko says, and Kiyoomi reminds himself to tell Itsumi she should teach her kids about stranger danger. Worse yet, she actually sounds interested, and if Atsumu’s fuckboy-sona is the kind of guy that she’s into, then Itsumi is going to have a long road of teenage years ahead of her.
“Riko.” Atsumu nods, consideringly. “That’s a pretty name. I’m really sorry, Riko-chan, I hope yer havin’ a good night and I promise ya we didn’t order ya sixteen pizzas. Pinky swear.”
“That’s okay,” Riko says, and Kiyoomi can almost imagine her twisting a strand of hair around her finger. “Are you going to tell me your name after you bothered me during a nice night?”
“Oh shit, did I really?” Atsumu laughs, pretends to be nervous and suitably chastised. “It’s Rintarou. Nice to meetcha, Riko.”
“Yeah, it is. What are you and your friends up to, anyway?”
“Oh y’know, we’re just partyin’. Hangin’ out. Ya know how it is, right Riko? I betcha get invited to all the parties.”
“Obviously,” Riko lies, and Kiyoomi mimes gagging at Atsumu, who lightly punches his shoulder and mimes for him to shut up.
“Cool,” Atsumu says. “Hey, uh, can I make it up to ya? I’m actually headin’ out to get McDonald’s for everyone ‘cause I lost a bet, but I, uh… I could buy ya some too, if ya wanted? And then ya could come hang out with us. If yer not too busy with another party.”
“No, I’m not busy at all, Rintarou,” Riko says, pitching her voice lower in an effort to seem more mature. “Which one am I meeting you at?”
“I’ll drop ya my location, ‘kay? I got yer number and everything.”
“Okay,” Riko says, with a giggle. “Hey, what do you look like?”
“Oh y’know, I’m tall, I’m like… I dunno, six-two? Not that I’m countin’.”
“Not that you’re counting,” Riko giggles. “You’re so funny.”
“Ya think so?” Atsumu simpers, sounding like an eager puppy. Kiyoomi puts his head between his knees and shakes with silent laughter. “I, uh, I dyed my hair blond and I got brown eyes. I’ll, uh, see ya soon then?”
“I’ll find you,” Riko promises. “Bye, Rintarou.”
“Bye, Riko-chan,” Atsumu calls, and then hangs up. There’s a suspended second of silence before Kiyoomi wheezes and Atsumu howls with laughter, slapping his own thigh and then bringing his knees up to his chest to snicker into them. Kiyoomi sits up, wiping the tears from his eyes as Atsumu shakes, shoulders heaving with the force of it.
“Shut up, idiot,” Kiyoomi manages, lightly batting his shoulders, “you have to drop your location or she’ll get suspicious.”
“Shit,” Atsumu mumbles, fumbling with his phone to clumsily key in the command and pin-drop their location to Riko’s contact. He promptly collapses into hysterics again and Kiyoomi leans against his shoulder, nearly sobbing with the force of his giggles. Atsumu wraps an arm around him, claps him solidly on the back like that’s going to stop him, when it only makes him laugh harder.
“Six-two,” Kiyoomi repeats, “you’re sooo funny.”
“Stop,” Atsumu wheezes, “stop, I’m gonna pee.”
“I can’t believe you catfished my niece,” Kiyoomi says, and then laughs harder. There are tears dripping down Atsumu’s cheeks as he braces himself on his knees and laughs like a fucking horse. He sounds short of breath, gulping down air like someone’s been fucking waterboarding him.
“Yer sister needs to teach her kids not to trust people, holy shit.” It’s garbled around something thick in his throat, and all Kiyoomi can do is nod emphatically in agreement as he slumps back into the seat and puts both hands over his eyes.
It takes them both a long time to calm down, Atsumu’s howling slowing down to little hiccupy snickers and finally heavy breathing, while Kiyoomi carefully wipes his tears on the sleeve of his hoodie and tries not to burst into laughter again and the phantom image of Atsumu’s lip-bite and eyebrow bounce.
“Please tell me that’s not a genuine trick you use.”
“I promise ya, it’s not.”
“Where did Rintarou even come from?” Atsumu’s grin turns wicked.
“Suna’s first name.”
“Oh, that’s evil.” Atsumu whimpers, like he’s gonna laugh again, so Kiyoomi waves his hands wildly and grabs him by the front of the shirt. “No, no more. My sides hurt.”
“Oh, poor Omi-kun. C’mere, should I kiss it better for ya? Aha.” Atsumu can barely make it through the sentence without laughing, and Kiyoomi snorts, and then it’s over for him too, collapsing into Atsumu’s embrace as the tears come thick and heavy again, slamming his fist against his shoulder. The dirty cheater. It’s not fair how stupidly funny he is, and what’s he trying to do anyway? Kill Kiyoomi? Well, he’s doing a great job.
Kiyoomi’s phone rings.
“Fuck,” he gasps between hiccuping laughter. “Oh, shit, it’s Motoya, shut up.”
“My baby-daddy?” Atsumu asks, and then promptly bursts into more giggles at his own joke. Kiyoomi swats blindly at his thigh as he grabs his phone, strangling it in his effort to answer it when his hand is shaking as badly as it is. He takes a deep, sucking breath through his nose and holds his phone up to his ear.
“Hi?” he manages, proud of how little his voice wavers.
“Sakusa Kiyoomi,” Motoya says, like a thundercloud. “You lying liar. You’re not on a date, you’re supposed to be babysitting Itsumi’s kids tonight.”
“Oh,” Kiyoomi says, fisting his hand and bringing it down hard on Atsumu’s thigh. He curls in on himself, dragging his body out of Kiyoomi’s reach so that he can muffle his laughter into his own kneecap. “Oh, so you know about that, do you?”
“Uh, duh? I had it down on my calendar because I knew you’d fuck it up somehow, but if you were stressed you could have just said so? Did you really have to make up such a cruel lie? I mean, who even told you about the Miya thing anyway? Was it Suna? If it was Suna I swear to the heavens I’m gonna put hair remover in his shampoo, the little bastard.”
“It wasn’t Suna,” Kiyoomi says, watching Miya perk up a little, trying to swallow his amusement to pay more attention to Kiyoomi’s phone call. “I honestly didn’t know, Motoya, I swear, but I’m also kind of not lying? It’s a really long story.”
“Fuck all the way off Kiyoomi, there’s no way you just ran into Miya Atsumu in Tokyo on pure chance when he hasn’t even been in Japan for a whole six months, probably. There’s absolutely no way.” Kiyoomi turns the phone toward Atsumu and gives him a flat look. Atsumu swallows the last of his laughter, and leans close to the receiver.
“Havin’ a good night, Motoya-kun?”
Motoya goes dead silent.
“What the fuck,” he yells down the phone line. It’s loud enough that Atsumu recoils back from it, slapping a hand over his mouth to try and stop himself from descending into another fit of all-consuming laughter. Poor dude looks like it’s hurting him now. “Put me on speaker phone, now!”
Kiyoomi does as his cousin asks and clears his throat.
“Behave yourself, Motoya, and please stop talking about how bad you want to fuck him, it’s inflating his ego.”
“I’d pay you child-support, Motoya-kun, I promise I’d be a good daddy.”
“Kiyoomi, you’re dead to me! Fucking dead to me, you hear?!” Motoya yells, and Atsumu gives him his big, wolfish grin and Kiyoomi bites his lip. “What the fuck, how are you just on a date with Miya Atsumu?! No wait, why are you on a date with Miya Atsumu? Where are Itsumi’s kids?! You know babysitting means you have to be with them at all times, right? Please tell me you didn’t just put them to bed and leave them there?!”
“No! No, it’s a- it’s a really long story, and you can’t keep your fat mouth shut, so I’m not going to tell you.”
“I’ll call Ushiwaka-kun.”
“Low,” Kiyoomi hisses. “You can literally never tell anyone about this, do you understand? No one.”
“Okay, fine, I promise, no one. Hi Atsumu, by the way. Can I call you Atsumu?”
“Sure, why not. If yer gonna be havin’ my kids we might as well drop the formalities right.”
“Don’t encourage him,” Kiyoomi says, and Atsumu shrugs, clearly amused. He wipes a stray tear from the Riko-situation from the corner of his eye. Kiyoomi flips him off. “Alright, so Itsumi’s kids threw tantrums about snacks before bed, and I literally cannot deal with screaming children so I took them out, and then they stole my wallet and ditched me.”
Motoya falls silent. There’s a good thirty seconds of just complete, total quiet before Motoya also bursts into high-pitched cackles. Kiyoomi gives Atsumu a flat glare over the top of the phone. Atsumu shrugs, settles back into his seat and pats his shoulder. Willingly, Kiyoomi curls against it, ignoring the way the centre console digs uncomfortably into his side.
“You- how- okay. Okay.” Motoya takes a deep breath and exhales static into the phone. “Alright, but that doesn’t explain Atsumu?”
“I was in the area,” Atsumu says. “He looked like he needed a hand, and I’m a helpful guy.”
“He does need a hand,” Motoya agrees, “in his pant-”
“Okay,” Kiyoomi interrupts as Atsumu gives him his most amused look yet. Kiyoomi pinches his thigh. It does not deter him. “I know you think you’re being an excellent wingman, but you’re actually being quite embarrassing. I don’t need your help, thanks.”
“I think you do, actually? Okay, so wait, what are you two doing then? Where are the kids? Like, I know Atsumu’s hot and all but you do realize your sister will literally kill you if her kids have even the slightest scrape on them, right?”
“I’m aware,” Kiyoomi says with a sigh. “Atsumu’s been a big help, actually. We’ve managed to recover three of them, we’re just waiting on the last runaway.”
“Atsumu makes an excellent catfish,” Kiyoomi says, deadpan. He delights in the ugly sound Atsumu makes, trying to swallow down another bout of uncontrollable laughter. Motoya goes dead silent again.
“You guys are weird,” he announces. “Anyway, so like, you know those guy problems I was having? Since you clearly didn’t fuck Miya Atsumu, you are not off the hook and-”
“Goodbye, Motoya!” Kiyoomi yells, before he frantically hangs up. Atsumu is grinning at him, lower lip sucked into his mouth to hold back his amusement. He’s not doing a very good job of it, so Kiyoomi slaps his chest, and then leaves his hand there. Whatever, he’s entitled. If his cousin is going to embarrass him and Atsumu is going to jump on that train, Kiyoomi’s allowed to cop a little bit of a feel.
“So,” Atsumu says, “ya wanna fuck me?”
“You’re just as bad as he is,” Kiyoomi sighs, shaking his head. “I hope that wasn’t too weird for you, by the way. His whole… being kind of obsessed with you thing.”
“I mean, nah? It’s not like he’s the first person who’s ever had a crush on me, but it is gonna make yer family dinners super awkward.”
“Wow, you’re already planning on being invited to those?”
“Of course,” Atsumu says, and sounds like he means it. Kiyoomi chuckles, closes his eyes.
“Motoya isn’t even my most embarrassing relative. If you think that was bad, you’re going to have a hell of a time with the others.”
“Babe, don’t even worry about it,” Atsumu says, and Kiyoomi’s toes curl again. “The last family gatherin’ we had before my injury, my cousin said some shit to his wife so I tackled him straight through a foldin’ table and got both of us kicked out to sit on the curb. Yer family is gonna be a cakewalk compared to that.”
“You really do have something loose up here,” Kiyoomi says, tapping his forehead. Atsumu nods, so Kiyoomi sifts his fingers through his fringe, marvelling at how soft it is for how lightly it’s dyed compared to his undercut. He must take such good care of it. Atsumu closes his eyes, like a dog being pet. His arm is still around Kiyoomi, thumb brushing his hip idly, even though he must be crushing him rather uncomfortably against the seat. Kiyoomi wants to kiss him so badly.
“Ya like it, though,” Atsumu murmurs, and Kiyoomi hums his agreement, tracing his fingers lightly over his browline, over Atsumu’s closed eyes, the slope of his nose and the cut of his cheeks. Atsumu leans into fingers on his jaw, sighs as Kiyoomi’s thumb brushes his mouth.
“Yeah,” Kiyoomi agrees, letting himself be tugged closer, nose settling against Atsumu’s own as his lips brush the back of his thumb. “Yeah…”
He’s close enough to kiss him now. It would be so easy; let his thumb fall to the side, settle their lips together, kiss their worries away. His thumb presses against Atsumu’s mouth again, traces the shape of his full lower lip, the dip below his nose, the perfect little corners of his lips, quirked upward in the beginnings of a smile. It’s magnetic almost, forcing a matching smile onto his face, too. His fingers cup Atsumu’s jaw. Atsumu’s hand is sliding higher into the middle of his back to bundle him closer, his eyelashes slowly locking together as he exhales a rough, anticipatory breath against Kiyoomi’s mouth.
He can feel the short, huffing breaths, so close that just another centimeter would seal them together when movement beyond Miya’s window catches in his peripheral. With a ragged exhale, he sits back, pressing a hand over Atsumu’s chest to ground himself. Almost instantly, strong fingers circle his wrist, thumb rubbing over the bone there.
“Hey,” Kiyoomi says back, softly. “I want to, just- twelve o’clock.”
“Right,” Atsumu says, shifting to look over his shoulder, just in time to watch Riko enter the McDonalds. She’s pulled her hair up into a bun, probably to make herself look older. Kiyoomi makes another mental footnote to really tell Itsumi to teach her children some semblance of stranger danger. He hates to think what would happen if it wasn’t just Atsumu on the other end of the line.
“She’s probably gonna cotton on pretty quick to me not bein’ who I said I was, but gimme a couple of minutes. Say five? Just five, and then come get me.”
“Of course. Break a leg, as they say.”
“Not funny,” Atsumu retorts, but he laughs when Kiyoomi slaps his ass as he gets out of the truck. Atsumu straightens up, ruffles his hair a little and adjusts his jacket so he looks more rumpled, before he slumps off toward the McDonald’s door. Kiyoomi watches him go, a fond little smile on his face. He can still see the vague way he favours one of his legs; he’ll have to help him correct that he supposes, if Atsumu doesn’t want his other ACL to go down as easy.
Riko doesn’t spot him immediately, and Atsumu checks his phone, doing a good job of looking puzzled. Riko’s chosen a good seat, at least. It’s close to the window and there’s another family right behind her. That way if any shady shit was to happen, she’d be close to help. Kiyoomi feels slightly relieved that she’s smart enough to do that. It makes him worry for her safety just a little less, but she still definitely needs a talk about shitty college boys and how they’re not good for you at all.
Kiyoomi watches her wave, watches Atsumu’s face light up in faux-delight, wandering over to her like a lost puppy, hunching down to listen to what she says. He nods toward the counter and Riko shakes her head, grabs his hand and directs him to sit. Atsumu does, looking like he might vibrate out of his skin. Kiyoomi feels like he should be concerned about what a convincing actor he is, but at the same time, it’s incredibly endearing to watch Atsumu play-act as a stupid teenager about to blow his load over holding hands.
The clock on the dashboard ticks over. Atsumu talks and talks, Riko rests her chin on her palm and uses her other hand to twirl a fly-away that’s escaped her bun, biting her lip at him. Atsumu ignores her, probably talking up some fake achievements. Kiyoomi stifles a laugh into his shoulder. Even from here, he can see how annoyed his niece is at her attempts going over his head. If only she knew the truth.
Right on the dot for five minutes, Kiyoomi opens the doors to the truck and takes Atsumu’s keys with him so that he can lock it, before walking toward the building. The fluorescent lights seem harsh after a night in the dark, but Riko is still focused on Atsumu, who is talking about having a friend with a house where you can jump off the roof and into the pool and how he can do backflips and isn’t that cool and wouldn’t she want to come see him, while she gives non-committal hums and boredly stares out the window.
He knows the exact second that she sees him in the reflection of the glass, because she jolts and turns to him with a wide-open mouth and fury in her eyes. Atsumu cuts off abruptly, leaning his elbow on the table and grinning up at Kiyoomi with those dancing eyes of his.
“Yer a tad late, Omi-kun, I don’t know how much I had left in me.”
“It seemed like you were doing okay,” Kiyoomi says, and then flicks his forehead. “But if you’re really doing backflips off of roofs into pools, I have to say that I highly disapprove.” Atsumu blows a raspberry. Riko looks between them, understanding and pure rage dawning on her features.
“You tricked me,” she hissed.
“Yeah,” Atsumu says with a grave nod, “ya really oughta learn not to trust random strangers who somehow get yer phone number.”
“I can’t believe you snitched on me to my oji-san.”
“I didn’t snitch on ya,” Atsumu huffs. “I knew him the whole time. Ya do know I’m not actually some meat-headed college boy right? I know I look young but I don’t look that young… right?”
“You’re very youthful,” Kiyoomi says, and Atsumu faux-glares at him. “The jig’s up anyway, Riko. Give me back my wallet.”
“I don’t have it,” she lies, and Kiyoomi sighs.
“Well, Terumi doesn’t have it, Teiji doesn’t have it, Miori most certainly doesn’t and since Yukiya is now Atsumu’s biggest fan he would have turned it over in a heartbeat if he did, which means there’s only one person who could have it.”
“Left jacket pocket,” Atsumu says, sounding bored. Kiyoomi lunges for Riko’s discarded jacket at the same time as she does, snatching it away from her hands. She lets out a little hiss of rage, whirling on Atsumu with accusing eyes.
“You said your name was Rintarou.”
“Yeah, well. There’s this thing called lyin’, dontcha know?”
“I can’t believe this. I could get you in serious trouble.”
“For what? Helpin’ yer oji-san find ya after ya ditched him in the middle of the city and apparently don’t have enough self-preservation skills to know not to meet up with strange men ya don’t know in the middle of the night? C’mon kid, surely yer smarter than that.”
Riko glares at him, folds her arms across her chest and tries to drill holes in his head. Kiyoomi fishes his wallet from her jacket pocket and dumps it back on the table between them, leafing through the yen left in his wallet.
“You want anything, Atsumu? My treat.”
“Now, aren’t ya a gentleman, Omi-kun? I’m good though, let’s get outta here.” Atsumu stands, shoves his hands into his pockets and leisurely slouches at Kiyoomi’s side. Riko turns her withering glare onto them, and Kiyoomi can see the wheels turning behind her eyes. So, instead of acknowledging her wrath, he simply turns to Atsumu.
“If she tries to make a break for it, I give you full permission to tackle her like it’ll stop her team from winning the game.” He turns back to Riko. “He’s a professional rugby player. I wouldn’t try it.”
“Cold’s a sexy look on ya, Omi-Omi,” Atsumu says, and so Kiyoomi takes his hand, and puts the other one on Riko’s shoulder, steering her forward and out toward the truck. Atsumu flicks the child locks on as Kiyoomi helps her into the back seat, and she glares at the some more from behind the window. Atsumu puts his hands on his hips.
“She’s gonna bolt for it the second ya try to collect any of the others, huh?”
“She absolutely is,” Kiyoomi sighs. “Any last-minute ideas?”
“Oh yeah. I know the meanest person in the world. Fifteen year olds don’t mean shit to him.”
“Sounds like just the guy. What would I do without you?”
“Die, probably,” Atsumu says, and Kiyoomi snorts and shoves him just a little. They must look too pleased with themselves, climbing back into the car, because Riko leans forward moodily.
“What? What’s so funny?”
“Wouldn’t ya like to know?” Atsumu says, and then turns his key over, effectively drowning out Riko with the radio. Riko fumes, sinking back into her seat with her nose all scrunched up. When Atsumu seems sure that she’s not going to accost him with questions again, he scrolls through his contacts at a red stop light and hits dial on a number just as the light turns green.
“Attsun,” says a voice on the third ring, “this better be you calling to explain to me why your brother is having a hysteric breakdown on the phone to my fiance when he’s supposed to be paying attention to me.”
“Long story, that one,” Atsumu says. “But look, Tooru, I need a favour that’s kinda related to it, so I’ll tell ya about it when I get there, alright?”
“Not even a please?”
“Ya know better than anyone how much ya like a shenanigan.”
“Oh, just a singular one,” says the voice, and then there’s shuffling. “I suppose I’ll see you soon, then. If it’s not a good story, I’m going to rip you to pieces. Ta now!”
“Byeee,” Atsumu croons, making smooching noises at his phone until the call cuts.
“He seems delightful,” Kiyoomi says, only half meaning it. There’s a cold feeling of dread creeping down his spine. Just a tingling of suspicion, but given the fact that there have been multiple other instances of Atsumu being tightly interwoven into his life, he feels that there’s a solid chance. “That wouldn’t happen to be, Oikawa Tooru, would it.”
Atsumu’s side-eye gives him the answer he needs. He looks away. Atsumu makes a weird little noise in the back of his throat like he can’t believe that Kiyoomi is skimping out on the details of this story. But it’s so humiliating , a voice inside him whines. He can’t possibly tell Atsumu, because Atsumu will think he’s way less sexy, and he likes Atsumu thinking he’s sexy, because it increases his chances of having the best sex of his life in the back seat of his rattly old pickup truck.
“Well,” he starts, because the curiosity is basically radiating off of Atsumu in waves. “I dated Wakatoshi-kun in high school for maybe three weeks. I was not very happy when it ended.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right, yer all buddy-buddy with Ushiwaka.” Atsumu nods and Kiyoomi nods with him. They nod at each other. “Okay cool, yeah, I see where this is going.”
“I hate stalked him on his social media. Please tell me he got uglier as he got older.”
“Oh, yer gonna hate him.”
“Life is unfair,” Kiyoomi says with a sigh.
“Look on the bright side, Omi-kun, ya got me on yer arm tonight, and I’ve never once had the urge to fuck Tooru, so I think yer safe.”
“How sweet,” Kiyoomi says, with a cheeky smile from the corner of his mouth. Atsumu grins back.
“You guys are disgusting,” Riko says from the back seat, so Kiyoomi flips her off. Her mouth falls open and she turns an enraged look upon Atsumu, correctly identifying him as the source of his behaviour. Atsumu just grins at the road and takes the next corner probably harder than he needs to to make her jerk against her seatbelt. He’s such a bitch. Kiyoomi likes him so much.
Atsumu apparently knows the code to Oikawa’s residents-only underground carpark, swinging into an empty space and unbuckling his seatbelt. Kiyoomi gives him a curious look as he steps out of the truck, watching Atsumu swing his keys around one finger.
“How’d you meet Oikawa-san anyway? Isn’t he a Miyagi kid as well?”
“Yeah, but he knew Shouyou-kun, and then they got pretty close when he was playin’ beach in Brazil, and then when I fucked off, Shouyou-kun passed on my phone number and made him get in touch with me ‘cause he knows a thing or two about injuries and how much they suck and we just kind of hit it off? He’s a bit of a bitch, but I kinda like that about him, y’know? And he thinks I’m funny, which is obviously the most important bit.”
“Obviously,” Kiyoomi echoes. “Why New Zealand, I have to ask?”
“It’s as far away from here as you could get, probably,” Riko mutters as Kiyoomi half-hauls her out.
“Nah,” Atsumu shrugs, pushes a hand through his hair as he locks his truck. “They loved the sport as much as I did. That was the start of it but… it’s not a big country, but so much of it is wide and open. Y’know, right at the top of the country, ya can see where two oceans collide? It makes ya remember how big and grand the world is, and how small ya are in it. Makes ya feel connected to somethin’ greater than yerself. And the fishing wasn’t bad.”
“You fish much?”
“Well shit, not before I went there, I didn’t.” Atsumu laughs at his own joke, and Kiyoomi can’t help the fond quirk of his mouth as Atsumu leads them toward the elevator. He hits the button for the seventh floor, and they stand in silence as it takes them up and up and up. Kiyoomi’s stomach churns somewhat uncomfortably. Endings, and all that, Atsumu had said earlier. Kiyoomi feels it now. After this the steps are easy: Kiyoomi gets his car back, and collects the kids in order of least to most likely to run off. He gets home with an hour to spare, probably, and Itsumi is never any the wiser, until Motoya tells her several months down the road and she thinks he’s making it up because Kiyoomi did such a perfect job and at least Yukiya and Miori like him. And where does Atsumu fit into this? Is Atsumu waking up in his apartment, mouthing at his neck and slipping his hands under his shirt to feel his heartbeat against his palm? Is Atsumu fucking him in a bed Kiyoomi can’t visualize, big hands holding his thighs open for him? Is Atsumu anywhere in his life beyond tonight? Is he in double dates with their friends and meeting up on lunch breaks? Is Kiyoomi wearing his merch? It’s hard to visualize. There’s not enough time in the world for that conversation.
Oikawa Tooru is waiting for them in the frame of his apartment’s front door, a frustrated voice spilling out after him. He looks unimpressed as Atsumu strides toward him, grinning his bestest grin. Oikawa gives in about a second before Atsumu reaches him, stretching out to fold him into a cuddle. Then, he marches into his apartment, snatches a phone from the hand of a big, burly man and speaks directly into the receiver.
“Okay, he’s with me now. Stop freaking the fuck out.” He hangs up, tucks it back into the pocket of the other man and slaps him on the ass, before trotting back toward Atsumu and Kiyoomi, where they stand in the genkan. Riko looks horrified by him. Kiyoomi thinks this bodes well.
“Sorry ‘bout him.”
“It’s whatever, Attsun.” Oikawa waves a hand. “So, do I get an explanation or not?”
“This is Sakusa Kiyoomi.” Atsumu points. Kiyoomi waves. “Met him in a grocery store. Turns out he’s babysittin’ and his sister’s shit kids stole his wallet and pissed off into the city. This is the ringleader of said shit kids. Omi-kun here needs ya to mind her for a couple minutes while he picks up the kids least likely to do a runner. And gets his car back. We kinda had to switch out ‘cause his sister has shit taste in rides and it sticks out like a sore thumb.”
“She’s a doctor who has to transport five kids, Atsumu.”
“So how’d you catch this one?” Oikawa asks, his friend coming up behind him to lean a forearm on the doorframe above his head, green eyes curious.
“Catfished her,” Atsumu says with a shrug. “No sense about stranger danger.”
“I feel like you should sound more worried about that,” says Oikawa’s companion.
“Worked out for them though, didn’t it, Iwa-chan? What do you say? Couple’s babysitting? Could be fun.”
“Only you would think terrorizing children is fun,” says Iwa-chan, pressing a kiss to Oikawa’s neck. “But sure, fuck it. Do stupid things, receive stupid punishments.”
“Fantastic. How about we call Takeru? I’m sure he’d love to get in on this.”
“The family that bitches together....”
“I swear I won’t run,” Riko says, turning pleading eyes on Kiyoomi. “I promise.”
“Too late,” Kiyoomi says, making a shooing motion with his hand. “I’ll be back, probably. Which friend’s house were you staying at again?”
“You’re the worst,” she hisses, stepping into Oikawa’s flat. Oikawa gives him a cheery little wave as Iwa-chan shakes his head in barely concealed amusement. When the door closes, Kiyoomi and Atsumu stand alone, shoulder to shoulder, with the weight of next hanging over their heads. It’s Atsumu who breaks the spell first, probably because he has experience with the what-ifs, by inhaling deep through his nose and putting his hands on his hips.
“I s’pose we should go get yer car back, huh?”
“I guess so,” Kiyoomi says, and regrets it as soon as it’s out of his mouth, because Atsumu turns for the elevator and drags him one step closer to that goodbye. He’s quiet on the way down, hands in his pockets, watching the light reflect off the metal roof of the elevator. Kiyoomi watches him, watches the handsome planes of his face, commits them to memory. It might be the last opportunity he has to study them, after all. It feels precious. He wraps himself up in the moment and only lets himself be shaken free by the elevator doors opening.
Atsumu’s hands tremble just a little as they curl around the wheel. Kiyoomi chalks it up to the tenseness in his jaw, like he’s trying to hold back a yawn. He can definitely relate; now that the simmering anxiety over the fate of his family members has been eased, he’s suddenly exhausted. Atsumu drives diligently, hand flexing over the gearstick. Kiyoomi’s fingers twitch, missing the weight of his palm on his leg. Strange, how full it made him feel, and how empty he is now it’s gone. It’s hard to believe he felt like this before he knew Atsumu, harder still to know this is how it’ll be again.
Itsumi’s champagne-coloured people-mover is visible from a great distance, the streetlights making the colour almost sparkle. There is nothing beautiful about it. It is an ugly blemish on the cityscape, and Kiyoomi’s chest constricts as Atsumu heaves a sigh through his nostrils and turns back into the carpark. This time, he rolls his truck to a stop one space from the van. Hysterically, Kiyoomi thinks it’s an apt representation about how this night has gone. So close, yet so far away.
“I guess this is it, huh?” Atsumu says, both hands on his thighs now, smiling at something down by the pedals of his truck. Kiyoomi swallows, stretches his legs out until his knees knock the dashboard.
“I suppose it is.”
“Gimme yer phone,” Atsumu says. “I’ll give ya everyone’s number.”
“Okay,” Kiyoomi agrees, dumbly, handing his phone across to him. They sit in silence as Atsumu taps away, dark browns pulled taught across his forehead in concentration. After a beat too long, Kiyoomi swallows. “Are you… staying somewhere nice?”
“Yeah,” Atsumu hums, without looking up. “I had to cancel on Bokkun and Keiji-kun since I didn’t know how long I was gonna be, but the hotel I booked is s’posed to be four stars. Bit pricey, but whatever. I’m allowed some luxury, right?”
“Right,” Kiyoomi agrees, nodding dumbly. “Is it that new one where IKEA used to be?”
“I think it just recently opened, yeah, I don’t really know Tokyo as well as ya do, Omi-kun.”
“Of course,” Kiyoomi says, falling quiet again. Atsumu hands his phone back. They get out of the truck.
Kiyoomi hadn’t realized how the night actually is, but standing with the obnoxiously red truck separating him from Atsumu, the chill seeps into his bones. He rounds the vehicle, coming to a stop in front of the blond. Atsumu wedges his hands into the pockets of his jacket, grinning at him. Standing this close forces him to tilt his chin up to meet Kiyoomi’s eyes, just a little, but Kiyoomi still feels smaller, still feels like Atsumu could wrap him up in his arms and completely cover him.
“You won’t come with me?” he asks. “Miori will miss you. Yukiya, too, I think.”
“Ah, I shouldn’t,” Atsumu says. “Probably better for me to check in and call my brother, huh? It’s late already, and he’s gonna be havin’ a fit over the whole thing. He worries too much.”
“Mm.” Kiyoomi nods. “You’re not… he doesn’t have anything to worry about, does he? You’re going to be okay, right? With your… knee, and everything.”
“I’ll be fine, Omi-kun, don’t ya worry ‘bout me.” Atsumu smiles, cocking his head to the side. “I’ve always figured my shit out one step at a time, and I’ll sort this the same way. Don’t stress yerself, I reckon ya had enough excitement for one night.”
“For my whole life, probably,” Kiyoomi says, and Atsumu laughs, nodding.
“Okay, well. Good luck. Drive safe.”
“Yeah, I will. Thank you, you know? For everything. I wouldn’t have been able to get through the night without you.”
“Eh, ya meet people when ya were meant to meet ‘em. Lucky Omi-Omi, ya had someone out there lookin’ out for ya.”
“I did.” Kiyoomi smiles, small and indulgent. “It was… you are… tonight was special. Disaster aside.”
“Ya think so?” Atsumu’s voice is breathy, and Kiyoomi nods, watching the colour flood his cheeks. His gaze is almost shy now, as he takes a step closer. His nose almost brushes Kiyoomi’s. Kiyoomi’s breath hitches, his lashes fluttering closed.
His phone buzzes.
“Shit,” he says reflexively, startled back. Atsumu turns his eyes to something in the distance, palming the back of his neck. Kiyoomi checks his phone and-
“Shit!” he says again, more panicked this time. “Shit, Itsumi’s catching an earlier train. I-”
“Go,” Atsumu laughs, gently pushing his shoulder. “Go on. We didn’t do all this shit for nothin’, did we?”
“No, I guess not.” Kiyoomi hauls the door open, casts one last look back at Atsumu before he takes a deep breath and sinks into the seat.
The car doesn’t rumble the way Atsumu’s truck does, and it glides smoothly out of the park. Kiyoomi sends Wakatoshi a text to let him know he’s on his way, and then swings onto the road. In the rearview mirror, Atsumu tilts his head back to the sky, and runs a hand through his hair, frustrated. It’s the last thing Kiyoomi sees of him before he turns the corner and Atsumu disappears from sight.
It feels lonely without Atsumu there next to him. The radio is quiet. Kiyoomi’s phone is quiet. The seat next to him is cold and empty. Kiyoomi flexes his hands around the steering wheel. He misses having something more substantial to hold. He misses Atsumu’s warmth, and his laugh, and his pools-of-honey eyes.
“Where’s Miya-san?” Miori asks, rubbing her eyes as Wakatoshi passes her to him, still heavy with sleep. Kiyoomi rubs her back, gently coaxing her back to sleep.
“He had to go home. It’s late, and he needs to sleep too.” Miori pouts, and buries into his neck. Tendou chuckles a little, threading his hands around Wakatoshi’s arm and squeezing his bicep.
“But didn’t we have fun, Miori-chan? You liked your bedtime story, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” she mumbles quietly.
“Then it was a good night, wasn’t it? You got to meet Miya-san, and get told a nice bedtime story, and I’m sure you’ll see him again, won’t you, Kiyoomi-oji?”
“I hope so,” Kiyoomi says, and Miori nods, clinging to him tighter. Possessed by something- probably missing Atsumu so stupidly bad for a man he’s just met- Kiyoomi presses a kiss to the top of her head.
“Thank you,” Wakatoshi says, quiet. “Satori and I were pleased to have her. We’ve been thinking about adopting, and this was a nice trial run.”
Kiyoomi feels attention well in his chest. His lungs squeeze, and if he did not have an armful of child, he would hurl himself into Wakatoshi’s embrace and crush the fuck out of him in joy. As it stands, his lower lip wobbles, and his eyes well up with pleased tears. Wakatoshi flushes, looking almost shy, as Tendou smiles and gently fixes his boyfriend’s hair.
“I’m happy for you,” Kiyoomi tells him sincerely. “You’d both make great parents.”
“I know, Kiyoomi-kun,” Tendou says. “But you should get going. Miori-chan needs her sleep.”
Kiyoomi gives them a pleasant nod, before he turns and carries Miori to the elevator. She’s a warm weight against his body, breathing uneven as sleep tries to drag her under and she valiantly fights it to stay awake. Her little fist clutches at the hood of his pullover when she speaks.
“Are we really going to see Miya-san again?” she asks, and Kiyoomi sighs, pressing his nose to the top of her hair.
“I really want to,” he says, because there’s no point in lying. Atsumu hasn’t even been in his life for six hours and hasn’t been gone from it for twenty minutes, and yet Kiyoomi misses him like a limb. It’s more than a little bit pathetic, but what can he do? Miya Atsumu has settled under his skin like summer rain and at this point Kiyoomi’s a little afraid he’ll never wash him out of his bones; afraid that he’s settled marrow-deep.
His heart twinges when Hinata opens the door and Yukiya eagerly searches for Atsumu’s shock of blonde hair, before visibly deflating. Kiyoomi wonders if he’s as obvious as that; he certainly feels like it. Yukiya, at the very least, recovers quickly, inhaling a deep breath and tucking his skateboard under his arm, before throwing himself into a severe bow.
“I’m very sorry for the trouble I caused you tonight, Kiyoomi-oji! I promise it will never happen again!”
“That’s… alright,” Kiyoomi says, throwing Hinata a worried look. Hinata folds his arms and beams proudly.
“Kageyama-kun is very polite,” Hinata says, in a way that’s not intended to be a hundred percent sincere. Kiyoomi can almost feel the force of Kageyama’s signature pout from where he’s out of sight, somewhere inside their apartment. Kiyoomi supposes Kageyama didn’t adjust to a child the same way Hinata did, given that Hinata has a broad, calloused hand on Yukiya’s shoulders, smiling at him with the warmth of a slow-burning fire.
“Thank you for everything, Hinata-san,” Yukiya says. “I’m going to talk to Otou-san- but can you tell Miya-san thank you from me too? And that I’m going to watch his next game in Tokyo so he has to get back on the team.”
“I’ll tell him.” Hinata nods. “Just remember, even when things get hard, the things that make you happy are always worth fighting for. Atsumu-san believes that just as much as I do, and we’re both pretty cool people, wouldn’t you agree?” Yukiya nods fervently, and Hinata tips his head back and laughs, before turning his sunny smile onto Kiyoomi.
“Is Atsumu-san calling his brother?”
“He is,” Kiyoomi confirms, as Yukiya comes to stand at his side. Kageyama reluctantly peeks around the doorframe and nods hello. “I assume he’ll text you later to let you know he’s safe. Everyone seemed very worried about him.”
“Of course we worry. He’s our friend and we care about him, but he’s always been too independent for his own good. Just like a certain Silly-yama. He’ll be okay though, Sakusa-san, so don’t worry about him, okay? Atsumu-san always picks himself up, and I think he had fun with you tonight, even if we were all heckling him. Did you have fun with him too?”
“I lost the kids I was supposed to be babysitting,” Kiyoomi reminds him dryly. Hinata looks sufficiently chastised at the reminder, so Kiyoomi lets the edges of his eyes soften slightly and adds, “But I did. I liked spending time with him.”
“You should hang out with us more! Atsumu-san’s not in Tokyo very often, but we could come visit! I come up all the time to see Kageyama, and you know Ushijima-san right? I think I’ve seen you at Adlers games.”
“I know Wakatoshi-kun from high school, yes, but I live in Osaka.” Hinata’s eyes brighten.
“Me too! And Atsumu-san as well! Wait, you probably know that already! I’ll text you my address okay?”
“Okay,” Kiyoomi manages, somewhat shocked by Hinata’s friendliness. He’s not sure it was possible to be so… nice. Kageyama lightly fists his hand and bonks Hinata on the top of his head.
“Hey, idiot, let Sakusa-san go. It’s late and he needs to get home.”
“My sister is coming home early,” Kiyoomi says, by way of apology. “Thank you for minding Yukiya.”
“It was no problem, he’s a really great kid. Now go, get going before your sister catches you! And I’ll text you, remember!”
“He remembers, moron, you said that three seconds ago-”
“Well who knows, Goldfish-yama, maybe he has a memory like yours!” The door closes on Kageyama’s flustered sputtering, and three steps down the hallway, Yukiya bursts into a fit of giggles, and takes Kiyoomi with him. Atsumu would have laughed with them too, if he were here. Kiyoomi feels the absence of it sorely, like a hole where his heart should be, even as his nephew wipes away tears and then grips the elbow of his hoodie, giving him a big, wide grin, like he’s the best thing in the world.
“Thanks for everything, Kiyoomi-oji,” Yukiya says. “You’re pretty cool.”
And well, Kiyoomi thinks, perhaps it’s not all so bad if he’s made an ally of at least one child tonight. It’s impossible to forget the role Atsumu played in this alliance though. Impossible for Kiyoomi, at least. It haunts him as Yukiya buckles in next to Miori and lets her hold his hand as she drifts off to sleep again, the lights of the city washing over the three of them as they drive in silence.
Terumi is wiping her eyes to hide tears when Kiyoomi knocks on Kuroo’s door. Kuroo shepherds her out, fixing her hair with the same tenderness Kiyoomi remembers. It seems like even though time has changed many things about him, he’s never grown out of worrying about everything and everyone. Kiyoomi crouches to pat Kitty as she trots out to greet him, Kenma slotting himself up against Kuroo’s back and using him as a shield while Kiyoomi gently pulls Teiji past him and onto the stoop.
“Thank you so much,” he says, forcing both twins to bow.
“It’s no problem, Sakusa-kun,” Kuroo says, tucking Kenma under one arm and kissing the top of his head. “You remember that advice I gave you, won’t you, Terumi-chan?”
“Yes, Kuroo-san,” she says, nodding resolutely. “I promise I’ll remember.”
“Should I be concerned?” Kiyoomi asks, raising a brow. Kuroo shakes his head.
“I’ll text you about it later, since I’ve got your number. Tsum’s not with you?”
“He had to call his brother.”
“Right.” Kuroo smooths his hand over Kenma’s hair, gently tucking stray strands behind his ear as Kenma turns his face into his chest and clutches at his shirt. “I’m sorry, by the way, for not… keeping in touch after… college. You were always kind of hard to read, and I never meant to hurt you by, uh, ghosting you. So to speak.”
“You didn’t, don’t worry. I never expected us to go anywhere in the first place.”
“That’s… yeah, that’s fair. In all honesty, my head was… somewhere else.” Kenma gives him the smallest smile, and Kuroo leans down to steal it from his lips with a kiss. “But Sakusa-kun, can I give you some advice?”
“You’ve always been smarter than I was. Don’t follow in my footsteps about this one, okay?”
“I’ll try not to,” Kiyoomi says, even though he has no clue what Kuroo is talking about. Teiji tugs at his sleeve, so Kiyoomi tilts his head down to face him. Teiji’s eyes are still sparkly with wonder and half glazed-over. Kiyoomi thinks he should be incredibly worried about the parasocial relationships the kid is forming with streamers, and makes a note to forward Itsumi some resources on it.
“Oji-san,” he says, “can we come back and hang out with Kodzuken again?”
“You’ll have to ask Kuroo-san some other time when I’m not still mad at you. Come on now,” he says, putting his hand right on top of Teiji’s head and turning him around to march him down to the car, ignoring his wail of protest. Kuroo’s chainsaw-like laugh follows them all the way down to the car, and they stay illuminated by the backlight of their house, curled against each other, waving until Kiyoomi turns the engine over and drives away.
“What happened to you in there?” Yukiya asks, as Terumi wipes at her eyes. She sniffs violently and glares at her brother.
“Nothing,” she snips, “Kuroo-san is just really nice.”
“Please can they babysit me again?” Teiji asks with mournful eyes. Kiyoomi sighs, but he can feel a smile tugging at the edges of his lips.
“If I say yes, will you stay in the car while I collect your sister?” The twins nod emphatically. Kiyoomi reminds himself to add expert bargainer to his resume.
Riko throws open the door before either Oikawa or Iwa-chan can get to it, glaring daggers at Kiyoomi. The reason for their slowness is obvious when Oikawa appears behind her, his partner wrapped around him with his lips attached to his neck. Riko points an accusing finger at them.
“They just made out the whole time!”
“It’s late,” Oikawa says breezily. “You made us stay up past our bedtime because you tried to cause trouble for your oji-san. And we didn’t make out the whole time.”
“Do you think Takeru’s okay? Poor thing was laughing so hard I thought he might pop a lung.” Iwa-chan doesn’t sound worried in the slightest. Riko scowls, folding her arms across her chest.
“He’ll be fine! Who can blame him, after all? Imagine getting catfished because you’re into stupid college boys.”
“Like you’ve never been into a stupid college boy.”
“On the contrary! My college boy was very smart. And so handsome.” Iwa-chan makes a face that can only be described as a smirk as Oikawa pats his cheek. Riko turns her outraged expression onto Kiyoomi, obviously looking for some kind of solidarity. Kiyoomi has none for her. After everything she’s put him through tonight, watching an obviously happy couple enjoy each other’s company is the least she deserves.
“Thank you for letting her stay with you on such short notice.”
“It’s not a problem.” Oikawa waves a hand. “Anything for Attsun, wherever he’s run off to. I’ll be in touch to let him know he owes me one, regardless.”
“Ah, it should be me. Please don’t punish him for trying to help me.” Kiyoomi bows slightly, and when he straightens, he finds Oikawa watching him with a particular gleam in his eye that unsettles him. He can see, easily, how this is someone Wakatoshi had been infatuated with. He’s pretty, but beyond that he has a calculated intelligence that flits around his dancing eyes, a shocking jolt of sharpness in otherwise gentle-looking features. Oikawa is possibly the most gorgeous man alive, but Kiyoomi’s not stupid enough to miss the threat in the way he smiles with his teeth.
Atsumu’s like that too, he thinks. It’s easy to see how they’re friends.
“Well,” Oikawa says, “I do have your number, but don’t stress about it, Sakkun. I probably won’t cash in.”
“Don’t you think he’s been through enough, shitheel?” Iwa-chan says with palpable fondness. Oikawa puts on a sigh and rolls his eyes, before gripping the edge of his door.
“It was nice to meet you, but it’s late, and I want to have sex with my fiance.”
“Thanks again,” Kiyoomi says, trying not to go red.
“Yuh-huh,” Oikawa says, and shuts his door. He giggles as soon as it’s closed, and there’s the unmistakable thud of a body hitting a wall somewhere beyond it. Riko’s face has scrunched up into something even more horrified than it was previously, probably through sheer force of teenage will. Kiyoomi scruffs her by the back of her shirt and marches her toward the elevator, and he does not let go until she is safely in the very back of the minivan without access to any of the doors, which have the child locks on anyway.
“How were your babysitters?” Yukiya asks, sounding genuine.
“Die,” Riko says, and Yukiya startles, and then glares, belatedly cupping his hands over Miori’s ears. Kiyoomi twitches a smile, and feels relief wash over him so potently he almost passes out.
He makes it home without incident, rushes them through teeth-brushing and changing and then makes sure all of them are in their beds before he flops onto the couch and sinks into the leather. Leather couches. With those demons for children? Itsumi is so brave. Itsumi is also stepping through the door, using Tadao to brace herself as she violently kicks off her heels and says some very un-elegant words in what must be relief as her husband muffles his laughter into the shoulder of his suit jacket.
“Kiyoomi!” Itsumi says, hiking the hem of her ballgown up as she steps out of the genkan and into the apartment proper, crossing toward him. She’s tall, like all Sakusas are, probably taller than Kiyoomi in the heels, and she looks pretty with her hair pinned back with gold and amethyst jewelry, in a shimmery midnight-purple gown that covers her arms but exposes her back. She looks like a princess. That’s what Atsumu would say, if he saw her. The thought makes him feel stupidly close to tears, and he realizes he’s sleep deprived as fuck. “You didn’t have to wait up for us.”
She kisses him on the forehead, smooths his curls back and then jerks her hand away like she’s been burned. She didn’t even realize she was doing it, Kiyoomi supposes. It makes him laugh a little, and then he can’t stop. Itsumi laughs too, then, flopping down onto the couch beside him.
“My feet are killing me,” Itsumi says, and Kiyoomi folds his own up underneath him and puts his big, long knee in her lap. It would have been nice, he thinks, if Itsumi had been the same age as him, if he’d grown up with a sibling like her. It’s nice now, how she lets him rest his head on her shoulder as he smiles and nods.
“It was… good, actually. Really good.”
“With the kids? Our kids?” Tadao sounds shocked.
“I am surprised you’re still in one piece,” Itsumi pats his knee, consolingly. “But thank you for stepping in. Now let’s all get to bed before I start wanting to kill someone in the morning.”
That sounds like a good idea, Kiyoomi thinks. He brushes his teeth in the guest bathroom downstairs, washes his face and does his pre-bed skincare routine to compensate for being too bone-tired to shower. Somewhere upstairs, he can hear the hushed whispers of his sister and her husband. Even after so many years together, there’s still obvious joy between them. Kiyoomi finds comfort in knowing love like that exists, knowing that someone out there could be that for him. Maybe someone with platinum hair and honey-brown eyes.
It only occurs to him as he nestles into the pillow on the guest futon, sprawled out on Itsumi’s living room floor, that he never asked for Atsumu’s number.
He awakens, miserable, several hours after the sunrise. A hollow feeling settles in his gut as the last dregs of sleep flee him, chased away by the sunshine beaming across the floors of Itsumi’s apartment. It’s a beautiful day. Kiyoomi wants it to be heavy with cloud and pelting with rain, because it’s the first day without Atsumu, because Kiyoomi is too stupid to keep him.
He lies awake and imagines the empty space next to him filled with Atsumu, all liquid-gold in the early morning sunshine. He imagines tracing the freckles on his back and dusting his fingers over strong shoulders, kissing the divot at the base of his spine, nosing into his neck and breathing in his scent. Atsumu smells good. This is a fact he knows about him. The worst of it is that he’s already forgetting the particulars of it, after one night apart.
It’s early. Komori will want him dead if he calls him, but Kiyoomi is mopey and it’s Motoya’s stupid fault anyway. Apparently attraction to Miya Atsumu is both fatal and genetic. He scrolls through his contents, blinking away the desire to either cry or try to go back to sleep in vain, all the way down to Motoya’s name. And then his heart jumps so violently in his chest he just about spits it out through his mouth.
There, under Motoya and Minami, the one from his osteopathy cohort who had blue hair and stole his boyfriend that one time, is a new contact. neighbour it reads, lower case. Smiley face emoji. Kiyoomi doesn’t type like that. Miya Atsumu seems like he would type exactly like that. Kiyoomi tentatively taps it, reads the number just to make sure it doesn’t ring any bells. When he doesn’t recognize it at all, he tabs back to his contacts and calls Motoya without hesitation.
“Guh?” Motoya says by way of greeting. “Kiyoomi? It’s too fucking early for this shit.”
“He put his phone number in my phone,” Kiyoomi says, hand on his forehead. “I like him so much, Motoya. What the fuck do I do? Do I just text him ‘hey’ or some shit? That’s so childish, I can’t do that.”
“Wait, Miya?” He can hear Komori sitting up. “Whoa, take it from the top. What happened?”
“I forgot to ask for his fucking number last night because I’m so stupid, but he put it in my phone anyway, and I like him so badly, Motoya, he’s so kind and funny and honest and I spent the whole night wanting to kiss him and wanting to ride him and I don’t know- it’s been so long since I dated. What the hell do I do?”
“Dude, he spent the night chasing your sister’s kids through Tokyo with you when he could have been doing literally anything else. You two had fucking inside jokes and you’re sitting here agonizing over him like a little schoolgirl! Kiyoomi, you’re better than this! He fucking likes you and you know it, and you have to show him that too. Go and fucking see him! Do you know where he’s staying?”
“Yeah, yeah, I do, fuck okay-” Kiyoomi stumbles to his feet, blearily, turning to find Itsumi watching him from the doorway, Miori propped on her hip. “Uh. I have to go.”
“Go get him, tiger. And Kiyoomi?”
“No one makes you laugh like that. Keep him.” Motoya hangs up with a decisive click. Kiyoomi lowers the phone, feeling himself preemptively flush as he faces off with his sister.
“I need you to drive me somewhere.”
“To see the Miya-san I’ve heard so much about?” Kiyoomi gives Miori a betrayed look, as she hides her face in her mother’s neck and clutches at her shirt. “I have to say, I’m curious about the kind of guy who’d help you chase runaway children through the city on a complete whim.”
“I’m really sorry,” Kiyoomi says immediately. “I promise I didn’t mean to, and nothing happened-”
“Kiyoomi, it’s okay. I don’t blame you. Riko, however, is seconds away from being exiled to a boarding school in London. I’m honestly impressed you managed to track her down as fast as you did, considering a month ago she ran away from home to go to a party and we couldn’t find her. How did your Miya-san manage that?”
“It’s a really long story,” Kiyoomi says, “but I’ll tell you in the car?”
Itsumi crams her feet into a pair of emerald green knockoff ugg boots and sweeps her hair up with a sparkly yellow claw clip. She makes them both coffee and Miori a cup of hot chocolate with six marshmallows while Kiyoomi takes possibly the fastest shower of his life and wedges himself into fresh clothes. Itsumi drives much like she owns the road, swerving lanes and going a solid ten above the speed limit as Kiyoomi retells the night’s events.
“You catfished my daughter?” Itsumi asks, swerving around the corner with little concern for the lives of anyone in this stupid fucking car. “And she fell for it?”
“She did. Hook, line and sinker.”
“Wow. Miori, cover your ears.” Miori dutifully does so. “My child is so fucking dumb.”
Apparently, Kiyoomi bursting into hysterical laughter is all Miori needs as an indication that she’s allowed to listen again, as Itsumi grins from behind her designer sunglasses and hurtles him toward Atsumu at approximately the speed of light. Is this what having a sibling is supposed to be like? If so, it’s good. If so, Kiyoomi’s glad, and he’d babysit for Itsumi a hundred more times if she asked him to, his sanity be damned.
“I’m gonna go find us a park,” Itsumi says, swinging into the covered courtyard of the hotel behind a taxi. Kiyoomi hurls himself out of the car and dashes into the hotel lobby. At least three patrons eye him with obvious surprise. It’s a nice place, all dark woods and light cream walls, neutral earth tones in the furniture and gold accents. Floor to ceiling windows face onto the street, letting light stream in. Kiyoomi is wild-haired in a t-shirt and jeans, slamming his hands down onto the reception counter with what must be a manic look in his eye.
“Excuse me,” he says, out of breath. “I need to reach Miya Atsumu.”
“Sir, there’s no one here by that name,” the clerk says, and Kiyoomi kicks himself. Privacy policies. Duh.
“No! No, it’s not like that. He’s my friend and I just- I need to see him? I forgot to tell him something really important.” The lady at the desk purses her lips and glares at him harder. Kiyoomi tries not to wilt, curing his fingers against the wood. “Please, it’s really important.”
“We cannot give out information regarding guests of the hotel, sir,” she says, more forcefully this time. Kiyoomi bites down hard on his lower lip to keep the frustrated growl from escaping his mouth. He knows he’s being stupid. It was a stupid plan. A long shot. But he needs to see him again, somehow, some way.
“Please,” he tries one last time, plaintive now. “He knows me. Please just call him and tell him that Sakusa Kiyoomi is here to see him. He’ll know what you mean, I swear to you.”
The clerk glances at him, and then at her screen. Her brow knits, briefly, before she lets out a sigh, adjusting her low bun slightly and smoothing down her hair. After a moment, she taps at her keyboard, and one brow arches. She looks up at Kiyoomi, and gives him a shrug.
“I’m sorry sir, but I can’t call him for you. He’s already checked out.”
The end of the world comes in a slow crawl, Kiyoomi thinks. He feels the ground fracture under him, feels the unsteadiness of his feet as his whole universe tilts and then implodes, scattering debris far beyond the galaxy, to the farthest reaches of space beyond. Gone. Miya Atsumu is gone, and what could Kiyoomi possibly say to him to make up for it? For leaving him there alone, looking at the stars and wondering when they’d fallen off the same page?
“Oh,” he says, small. “Thank you anyway.”
“You should leave now,” she tells him, hand hovering menacingly over the phone. Kiyoomi pushes back from the counter, and numbly shuffles out through the doors. The sunshine doesn’t reach this far back into the courtyard. Kiyoomi shifts through the shadows, picking at the sleeves of his t-shirt as the cold starts to seep in.
His phone buzzes in his pocket. It’s Itsumi’s name on his screen, indicating the level where she parked. Kiyoomi slumps into the elevator and hugs himself, frowning at his phone. Tentatively, he presses message on Atsumu’s contact, watching the cursor blink back at him. What could he say? What could he say that would be right? What could he say that would lead to anything beyond a few fleeting conversations and a quick fuck? It was easier when that was all he wanted. It was easier when he didn’t know things about Atsumu.
The doors ding as they open, and Kiyoomi jumps in shock. With a sigh, he cards his fingers through his hair, shoving his phone back into his pocket. There’s no point in agonizing over it right now, he supposes. Staring pitifully at his phone isn’t going to make Atsumu text him first, and looking at a blank screen isn’t going to conjure up a message when his emotions feel raw and livewire. This isn’t like him, anyway. Kiyoomi doesn’t fall for pretty boys in the deep of Tokyo night. Kiyoomi doesn’t make stupid decisions.
“Hey!” His head snaps up.
Miya Atsumu is radiant in the morning.
His hair is still wet from the shower, dark brows darker, pulled up over his eyes in obvious amusement, grin cracked enough that Kiyoomi can see the sharpness of his teeth. He’s backlit by the sliver of daylight cutting through the rectangular gap at the side of the complex, one hand on the roof of his stupid red truck. Before Kiyoomi even registers what he’s doing, he’s running for him. Atsumu takes three steps toward him and Kiyoomi hits him like a freight train, grabs his face and kisses him like he’s trying to press his soul into him.
Atsumu gives as good as he gets, tilts his head and cradles Kiyoomi’s neck, fists his free hand in the small of his back and hauls him in close. Kiyoomi exhales roughly through his nose, delights in feeling the way Atsumu’s breath huffs across his cheeks, feels the way his fingers flex in his hair. It’s bruising pressure, almost all teeth and no lip and it’s not good but it’s perfect. It’s exactly what Kiyoomi needs, stumbling into the solid weight of Atsumu like he’s coming home.
“Fuck,” Atsumu gasps, cups his stupid-big hands around Kiyoomi’s waist and squeezes in a way that makes him whimper as he pushes their lips back together. Atsumu welcomes him in, presses his tongue into his mouth and tastes the sensitive spot behind his top row of teeth. Kiyoomi’s knees buckle. Atsumu tastes like mint toothpaste and strawberry chapstick. He’s perfect. He’s everything Kiyoomi ever wanted.
“Thought-” Kiyoomi manages between kisses, “thought I- missed you-”
“Fuck, Omi,” Atsumu says, and kisses him harder, slides his hands down under his ass to the backs of his thighs. He crouches just a little and Kiyoomi chases his mouth, hauls him in close as Atsumu hoists him and deposits him on the hood of his truck. Kiyoomi curls his fingers into his hair and pulls him into him hard as Atsumu grabs his hips and presses between his legs, flattens him against red panelling like he’s trying to fuse their skin together. “Fuck, ya make me crazy.”
“You’re so,” Kiyoomi tries, and can’t come up with the words. He makes a noise in the back of his throat and pulls Atsumu in again, traces the strong cord of his neck, presses his palms to Atsumu’s chest and kneads the divot between his tits, scrapes his nails down his abdomen until Atsumu shivers and presses closer into his mouth, tongue hot against his own.
“I’m gonna say something nutso,” Atsumu says, bites Kiyoomi’s bottom lip and tugs it teasingly. Kiyoomi fists a hand in his hair and pulls as Atsumu tries to draw away, forces him to speak the words into his mouth as he swallows them down like sweet nectar. “Come home with me. Meet my family. Be my boyfriend.”
“That is crazy,” Kiyoomi pants, licks into his mouth and laughs as Atsumu’s arm gives out and he catches himself on his elbow, swearing in pain. “We haven’t even gone on a date yet, moron.”
“First date can be a road trip back to Osaka, just us. Dinner anywhere ya want, breakfast any time. I want ya so fuckin’ bad it’s kinda stupid, but I just cannot stop thinkin’ ‘bout ya. Ya got me under some kinda spell, Omi, ya fuckin’ menace.”
“Wake up then,” Kiyoomi murmurs into his mouth, lips over his cupid’s bow and laughs as Atsumu grinds their noses together, shaking his head emphatically.
“No,” he says. “Nah, don’t wanna. I like it. I like what ya do to me. Want it forever.”
“That’s so long,” Kiyoomi murmurs, kisses him again, tips his head back as Atsumu kisses each of his eyelids and the tip of his nose. “That’s a lot of time to promise.”
“I’m an all or nothin’ kinda guy.”
“I like it,” Kiyoomi says, grins so wide their teeth clack and Atsumu laughs into his mouth. Pure, undiluted sunshine. Kiyoomi’s never felt so high, thighs locked around Miya Atsumu’s waist in a hotel’s tiered carpark, gripping his t-shirt and kissing in the early morning sunlight, sneaking peeks at the way the sun turns every aspect of Atsumu to gold, brings out the honey in his adorably short little lashes.
“Yer phone,” Atsumu murmurs into his mouth, talented fingers tracing Kiyoomi’s hips and the grooves of his stomach. Kiyoomi shakes his head, leans up and into Atsumu some more, sighs as Atsumu slides his fingers over his spine, grips his shoulders. “Y’know, there are probably security cameras.”
“Don’t care,” Kiyoomi breathes against his lips. “Stop kissing me and you die.”
“Sir yessir,” Atsumu says, and kisses him again. Kiyoomi laughs, and Atsumu drinks it from his mouth, nipping at his lips and provoking Kiyoomi into chasing him, the little shit. His phone stops, and then starts again. Atsumu pulls it from his back pocket and checks the caller ID.
“This is yer sister, ain’t it?” Kiyoomi sighs, and starts the call, tilts his head as Atsumu noses under his jaw and peppers kisses to his skin, thumbs tracing over his ribs as Kiyoomi strokes his fingers through his hair.
“Hey,” Itsumi says. “Sorry to rush you, but the parking’s pretty pricey and I’m running close to the free pick-up time limit. Are you still in the hotel with him?”
“Oh, no,” Kiyoomi says, pulling Atsumu closer as he mouths over his collarbone. “No, he already checked out.”
“Oh, Kiyoomi, I’m sorry,” Itsumi says, sighing with such grief that it almost makes Kiyoomi tear up. “So, where are you, then?”
Kiyoomi blinks. Over the rows of cars, he can see the bright pale-gold of Itsumi’s minivan. Atsumu’s hair is soft under his hand, his lips sweet and tender against the pulse of his throat, tongue tracing the dip in his clavicle, hands warm and steady against his waist. Kiyoomi twitches a smile, feels it rip across his features into a full-blown grin as he lets out a slow, breathy little laugh.
“You’ll never guess who I ran into in the parking lot,” he says, and Itsumi falls silent. Kiyoomi’s smile grows wider, as Atsumu’s lips press to his jaw, and then his cheek and then his temple, nose settling there as he croons to him, voice low and gravelly;
“We gotta stop meeting like this, Omi-kun.”
Kiyoomi hears Itsumi’s laugh loud and clear from across the carpark. Atsumu’s honeyed chuckle makes him shiver all the way down to his toes, and he kisses him again, because he can. Atsumu’s lips are sweet on his, and his hands are grounding on his skin. Kiyoomi loops an arm over his shoulders, presses their foreheads together.
“I don’t know,” he says, “I think it’s kind of working for us.”
“Oh, Sakusa-san,” says their extern, Morishige, “I didn’t know you were into rugby.”
It’s probably a little unprofessional to be wearing a rugby jersey to work. Although there’s not really a formal dress code, the general feeling among his coworkers seems to be that, universally, anything t-shirt adjacent should not be worn into the office. Given that Kiyoomi was awake until three the past morning because his nephew was having crisis number five of the month and refused to hang up on his quote-unquote favourite uncle, he thinks he’s allowed a little leniency. It’s suitably dressed up anyway, with a blazer on top, the nice one Kiyoomi bought from a trip to Kobe, the one in sunshine yellow with the olive silk lining that he never would have looked twice at if there hadn’t been hands fisting in his lapels and-
“That looks a little different to the merch they were selling for the last Super Rugby tournament, where’d you get it?”
“Oh,” Kiyoomi says, plucking at the fabric and delighting at the way it shifts against his skin. “I don’t really recall. Probably online.”
“It looks really cool either way,” Morishige continues, face flushing a little. Kiyoomi likes him; he talks a lot, but it’s just because he’s eager to please even though he doesn’t need to be. He’s almost ruthlessly competent for someone with so little professional experience. “And you have great taste in players! Miya Atsumu’s awesome, I’ve been following him since he was in highschool leagues, and I was so worried that the knee injury was going to be a career ender, but-”
“I don’t think he’s the kind of person who’d let something as insignificant as an ACL injury stop him,” Kiyoomi says, trying not to press his tongue into his cheek in an effort to stifle his laughter. Morishige nods like this is the wisest thing ever said.
“He seems that way, doesn’t he?” It should be so easy to not reveal intimate details about his life, to not inform him that Atsumu had said as much three weeks after being cleared to return to training, when he had Kiyoomi’s knees pushed all the way back to his ears, folding him in half to fuck his soul the whole way out. It’s not, though. Kiyoomi’s never had a problem keeping a tight lid on the details of his personal life, but something about his boyfriend makes him want to host some kind of seminar on his relationship.
“Sakusa-san,” says Umemoto, the receptionist, leaning around a corner to interrupt their hallway conversation. “Your boyfriend’s here to see you.”
Speak of the devil, Kiyoomi thinks dryly, and reminds himself to be concerned about Atsumu’s whole freaky not-really-mind-reading thing that he has going on. Morishige trots after him, blissfully unaware of what awaits him.
“I’ve never met your partner,” he says thoughtfully. “What’s he… like…”
Atsumu is bathed in the afternoon sunlight, which is the way he looks best. His hair needs to be re-dyed, dark roots growing back through platinum blonde, scorched yellow in the light of the afternoon. His skin is warm and slightly flushed with exertion, knee wrapped carefully in blue strapping tape that stands out starkly under the hem of his skimpy little shorts. How any of the rugby boys get anything done when Atsumu is running around in scraps of fabric that only narrowly cover his ass, Kiyoomi will never understand. Atsumu grins, broad and genuine, and holds up a paper bag in his hand.
“Delivery for yer hottest resident osteopath.”
“Higashino-san doesn’t work on Tuesdays,” Kiyoomi says, just to watch Atsumu scrunch his face. Morishige is gaping behind him, reflecting caught in the floor to ceiling windows. His eyes flick between them rapidly, understanding not dawning, even as Kiyoomi steps forward and takes the bag out of Atsumu’s hands, peeking inside.
“A little birdie told me someone was bitchin’ about forgettin’ his lunch. Ya know what ya get like when ya forget to eat, and I know yer not gonna bother goin’ out to buy somethin’, so I swung by and got Samu to make ya something.”
“Motoya,” Kiyoomi sighs. “Tell the meddlesome little shit to stop reporting everything I say to you.”
“Baby, I love ya so much, but I am absolutely not gonna do that.” Atsumu curls his fingers into the front of Kiyoomi’s shirt, tugs a little. “This is cute, by the way. Ya boyfriend give that to ya, handsome?”
“No.” Kiyoomi smiles. “Just some guy I met in Tokyo.”
Atsumu laughs, big and bold. Kiyoomi loves when he does that. He’s had roughly eighteen months and twenty-one days to familiarize himself with it, and yet every time it makes him feel giddy and light-headed. The warmth of it settles into his bones, warms him from the inside out, seeps into every corner of his being until it steals away the breath in his lungs, and all Kiyoomi is left with is the itching need to kiss Atsumu until he swallows that laugh whole.
“Yer funny,” Atsumu says, nuzzling their noses close together. Kiyoomi flushes a little, hyper-aware of the eyes on the back of his neck.
“I’m not kissing you in front of my coworkers, idiot.”
“Spoilsport,” Atsumu murmurs, grin still on his face. Kiyoomi can’t help himself. When it comes to Miya Atsumu, he’s the weakest man alive. Atsumu’s lips still taste like his strawberry chapstick and there’s the lingering taste of Osamu’s spicy tuna onigiri beyond. It’s a horrible combination, and it’s Kiyoomi’s favourite flavour in the world, because he so often kisses it from Atsumu’s lips.
His Atsumu, with his soft blonde hair and his big hands that fit perfectly into the dip of Kiyoomi’s waist, squeezing in the way he likes. His Atsumu, who demands he put on sunshine-coloured jackets and then hauls him in by the lapels to kiss him in front of God and everybody in a department store. His Atsumu, who stays awake until three in the morning, gently talking Kiyoomi’s nephew down from a panic attack. His Atsumu, who brings him food when he forgets his lunch and makes him breakfast the morning after and falls asleep face-down in Kiyoomi’s tummy, with Kiyoomi’s fingers playing with his hair.
“Go back to practice,” Kiyoomi says, stealing one last peck. “Don’t be late.”
“I got time,” Atsumu tells him, smooths his hair away from his forehead and places two chaste kisses against the moles above his brow. “But it’s yer lunch hour, ain’t it? I’ll let ya eat. Have a good day, okay?”
“No promises,” Kiyoomi says, tilting his face into Atsumu’s hand, closing his eyes as Atsumu’s thumb brushes briefly over his cheek.
“Mm. I’ll text ya later. We’re still on for tonight, right?”
“Of course. You bring dinner.” Atsumu hums his acknowledgement, kisses him on the forehead and steps back. As he turns away from Kiyoomi, he pauses, shooting him a shit-eating grin over his shoulder. Kiyoomi rolls his eyes, trailing his gaze down the slope of Atsumu’s spine to where he’s pushing his ass out expectantly, because the love of his life is so childish and Kiyoomi is so beyond gone for him.
He gives Atsumu’s ass a slap, and he trots forward, waving a cheery goodbye to the three of them gathered in the waiting room. The door slides shut behind him with a quiet whoosh, and Kiyoomi watches the familiar shape of his proud gait, the breadth of his shoulders, rolled back slightly with his hands wedged deep in the pockets of his MSBY Jetstream team jacket. He doesn’t tear his eyes away until he’s out of sight, if only because his stomach growls and he is suddenly very interested in his lunch.
“What,” Morishige whispers. “What?”
Kiyoomi shrugs. His grin is borderline evil, and he knows it.
“Please excuse me, I have a meal to eat,” he says, breezing past the frazzled extern, trying not to laugh as Umemoto stifles a giggle behind her palm. Morishige makes a confused sound in the back of his throat as Kiyoomi swans away. Onigiri his boyfriend bullied his twin into making for him rests just beyond his hand, the residual warmth of Atsumu’s lips on his forehead settling deep into his skin, infusing into the fibre of his very being, reshaping the version of him that existed before Miya’s honey-warm eyes under harsh fluorescents.
It’s something Kiyoomi never wants to lose. One night turned into many turned into routine, turned into Atsumu at his apartment three nights a week and Kiyoomi tucked up under Atsumu’s chin in the Jetstream’s sharehouse, playing FIFA with Bokuto and Hinata and some other guys from the local volleyball team.
But, Kiyoomi thinks, smiling around a mouthful of spicy tuna and rice, missing the taste of artificial strawberry, the apartment listings Atsumu left open on his laptop two weeks ago seem an awful lot like forever.