Practice is running long and Kiyoomi’s patience is running short. He detaches himself from any mental processes that would lead him to lashing out at an innocent teammate.
He’s just a little too off today. His setter isn’t particularly interested in being nice about it, either.
“Third one today, Sakusa.”
He bites the inside of his cheek, watching the out-of-bounds spike roll further away towards the benches. “I understand. I’ll adjust my approach.”
“Make that happen sooner rather than later.”
Despite his illustrious high school volleyball career preceding him in university, Kiyoomi’s still an underclassman. He knows his place, and he knows the path he has to walk to earn a better one.
Take care. Do it right. Do it properly.
He rotates one of his wrists, though he’d already stretched them out at the beginning of practice. He picks at the last spike in his memory, turns it over and shifts it to the left for a better look.
Kiyoomi’s last few hits of practice are shifting closer to what he wants, but not as fast as he’d like. Shoko jerks his chin at him in partial approval, but the message is clear.
Practice ends with a wobbly half-circle of sweaty players around the coach, the sleeves of her tracksuit pushed up and her hands on her hips.
“Sync on the newer moves can stand some improvement. We’ve made it clear what each player needs to work on.” The words aren’t directed at him, Kiyoomi knows. He presses his lips together and nods along with his teammates. “Extra conditioning tomorrow, and remember the rest day schedule. Those are just as important as the days that we’re on the court.” She allows them a small nod and eyebrow raise. “Good work today.”
The team choruses back a thanks and farewell as they shuffle towards the changing rooms. Kiyoomi strides ahead to speed through his routine and get to a freshly-sanitized stall.
Sometimes, he thinks as he shrugs off his sweaty uniform, even off days feel good. The anticipation of how it’ll feel when he fixes what’s wrong, when he gets the right kind of thwap and smack, how right it’ll feel are all in store for him. He hates departure from routine, but the satisfaction of returning to it is like learning it anew.
Physical practice is over, but the mental work of mulling his actions over and picking apart what went wrong and right awaits him. With most other situations, he’s ready to dodge that process like the plague and get to the point, but volleyball fits so well into his brain. It’s what he wants to dwell on, if even to pluck out a minor issue and remedy it as soon as possible.
It feels good to take care, do it right and proper.
Regardless, with practice over, getting back to his own little world inside his dorm room is rapidly taking priority.
Slumping his shoulders, Kiyoomi eases his way around the rush of athletes pushing their way through the doors of the gymnasium—well, the “Sports Center.” Such paltry titles for practice areas didn’t last past sweaty high school drills.
He breathes a sigh of relief at the thinned-out crowd beyond and picks up his pace in the dorms’ direction.
“Hey! Heyyy, is that—Kiyoomi-kun!”
No, it’s not, he thinks, unwilling to entertain anyone keeping him from a steaming mug of tea and painstakingly neat dormitory right now.
“Hey!” The obnoxious voice gets closer. Kiyoomi considers breaking out into a run—with legs well-warmed up from practice he can make that ten-minute journey a four-minute one—but he also considers that this would be frowned upon in a societal sense.
Just as he’s decided he doesn’t care much about that last point, the jogging footsteps stop a respectable three-foot distance from himself.
“Givin’ me the cold shoulder? But it’s been so long, Kiyoomi-kun!”
Horror and recognition—maybe they’re the same thing—dawn on him at those words. Rather, the thick accent they’re wrapped in.
“Ah.” He turns around, resigning himself to a conversation that he will make every attempt to shorten. “Miya.”
“As charming as ever, aren’t ya?”
He’s sure that these words from Miya Atsumu, to anyone else, would be nothing short of swoon-worthy. Kiyoomi, however, is not particularly interested in fawning over one of the V-League’s rising stars, with several thousands of Twitter followers and a fan club to boot, currently decked out in sunglasses at 8:00 PM and—
“What is on your head.”
Even in the bluish-darkness of evening, he can see Atsumu’s face redden. “I’m—uh, incognito.”
“In Tokyo Disneyland-branded mouse ears?”
He casts a glance around and pulls the brim lower over his eyes. “None of yer business. Ya don’ know what it’s like bein’ this famous.”
“No, I don’t. But ‘overenthusiastic tourist’ isn’t quite the ideal undercover persona that you think it is.”
Atsumu seems ready to toss back a remark, but instead breaks out into an unexpectedly warm grin. “Ah, ya never change, do ya?”
“Neither do you.” He doesn’t make it sound like a compliment. “What are you doing here?”
“I was in the area an’ remembered this campus is home to a pretty well-known team. Figured I’d drop by for a visit ta see how yer faring.” Atsumu gestures grandly to the concrete before the Sports Center. “One of the nation’s top three aces, a junior once again.”
“I’m faring just fine. I will fare even better once I’m back in my room and alone.”
“Aw, am I keepin’ ya? I’ll walk ya there!” The immediate dismissal ready on Kiyoomi’s tongue dies once Atsumu whips his sunglasses off and grins again, in a way that pushes his cheeks up and his eyes closed. It’s annoying, really, how excited he seems to be to accompany Kiyoomi for an eight-minute powerwalk.
“I… that’s really not…” He trails off and sighs. “All right. Don’t fall too far behind.”
He bites back a smirk at Atsumu’s immediate and indignant reply. “Hey, ya sayin’ somethin’ about my height?!”
“ You did.”
“Never drop the ball, do ya, Kiyoomi-kun?” he grumbles.
Kiyoomi-kun. Not many people call him by that, but high-school Atsumu made a habit of overfamiliarity, all Tobio-kun this and Shoyou-kun that.
It hasn’t really been a long time since they’d last spoken. For them, anyway. With yearly camps and tournaments, it was the norm to only see each other in between gaps spanning several months. He’d initially thought Atsumu hadn’t changed much from high school, but now that he looks at him properly, catches better glances in the glow of streetlights…
He’s a little bit taller (but still shorter than Kiyoomi, he thinks smugly.) Even his “incognito mode” look can’t hide the proud set to his… noticeably wider shoulders, the confidence with which he carries himself. Of course, he had that in spades in high school, but it’s… different. A little more tenured.
What stands out more than this, however, are the little tufts peeking out from beneath his baseball cap.
“What did you do to your hair?”
Atsumu freezes, for just a second. “Ah… nothin’. Jus’ tryin’ out, uh, a different routine.”
“Your ends look—” Kiyoomi peers closer, a neon sign overhead illuminating Atsumu’s shape just a little better. “... Destroyed.”
“So sue me, I’m havin’ a bad hair day!” Atsumu explodes. “What, ya tellin’ me ya wake up with yer hair lookin’ like that?”
Kiyoomi shrugs, biting back a smile. “Did you do it yourself?”
“I know an at-home bleach job when I see one.”
Atsumu slumps, looking defeated. “Shut up.”
He supposes it is kind of mean to just start needling Atsumu about his appearance after the first time they’ve seen each other in months. The alternative would be commenting on his stature and smile and broad shoulders and other nightmarishly embarrassing things to notice, unfortunately, so he sticks to his guns but softens his tone a little.
He groans. “I figured… y’know… all the damn hair experts with their ‘use toner’ and ‘get it done at a salon’ advice maybe had a point… an’ I didn’t wanna have the same look from high school for my pro career… but I did my own hair for three years! I can switch it up on my own, and you can learn anythin’ from a YouTube video these days.” He kicks a pebble as they pass a particularly rickety patch of sidewalk.
“I’m guessing you found out you can’t actually learn anythin’ from a video,” Kiyoomi says, drawling out the word in an attempted imitation.
“Gee, the sympathy is jus’ overflowin’ over here.” Atsumu bumps him, but it’s light enough that Kiyoomi doesn’t feel compelled to stiffen up. “An’ I don’ sound like that!”
Kiyoomi shrugs. “Truth hurts.”
They fall into a silence that Kiyoomi’s not sure constitutes as “awkward,” given that he’s been the driving force behind many of those kinds of conversation breaks in his lifetime. He can’t really tell where that easy teasing and banter came from, but maybe he’s not giving his past self enough credit for building rapport with future acquaintances.
Glancing over at Atsumu’s poor attempt at hiding a pout, he thinks that perhaps making fun of Miya Atsumu is a very easy urge to succumb to.
Finally, they stop by the tall glass doors of his dormitory. Atsumu lingers as Kiyoomi rummages around for his ID to scan in. He's sort of shifting on one foot, almost switching sides but seeming to catch himself before committing to it. Kiyoomi hopes this isn't his attempt at being casual.
"So," Atsumu begins casually. "I'll see ya 'round? I don't live all too far from here, so I might, uh, catch ya in the area.”
ID in hand, Kiyoomi pauses before scanning it. That’s not what we usually do, he wants to say, absurdly enough.
The Miya Atsumu is his mind is a collection of drills and sets and practice matches, caught in snapshots between months of minimal contact. His somewhat obnoxious personality managed to make its mark, as did his fearsome reputation throughout high school, and at some point, his pro leagues admittance has made him something larger-than-life, even with Kiyoomi knowing well that he had the same offers, the same opportunities himself.
"Uh…” He looks at those ridiculous ears, that hopeful smile Atsumu’s trying to bite down, and thinks that many, many norms were not made to remain unbroken forever.
“My number's still the same." Komori urged him to give it out at their last training camps in high school, insisting that connections and networking were the bread and butter of the pro leagues. Kiyoomi prides himself on his one-word responses—better known as "conversation killers"—but the intentions were nice. Atsumu’s eyes light up at the affirmation.
“The trains, they probably aren’t—” He breaks off, his meaning clear, but this conversation was a lot easier when he wasn’t thinking about what he said.
"I'll catch a bus." Atsumu slides his sunglasses on, looks around, and slowly slides them back off. "Ah… it's gotten late, hasn't it?"
“Yeah.” Kiyoomi lingers, a text me when you get back dangling on the tip of his tongue. It feels too soon for that, for this weird high school catch-up, this in-between of being comfortable and feeling embarrassed about being comfortable.
“Well.” Atsumu tosses him a wave, smile back in full force as he turns to leave. “‘Til next time, Kiyoomi-kun!”
That grin remains in his mind like an afterimage, long after Kiyoomi’s made his way up to his dorm. It’s the kind he’s only seen after perfect sets, hard-fought victories after matches—he pauses in the middle of sorting out his sweaty laundry. He hasn’t heard much of the Miya duo’s other half, come to think of it. Maybe he’ll ask Atsumu about it sometime, if the other’s really so determined in following up on his promise to keep in touch.
pretty campus pretty faces
uni rookies lookin like tough competitors 👀
Add To Story
The aforementioned “next time” arrives far sooner than anticipated.
heyyy mind if I pop in your dorm for a bit?
real quick. so quick you won't even see me. like a flash
You can't even get into the building without a student ID
oh, I'm in alright. what floor what room quick
Atsumu is lucky Kiyoomi’s not in a rotten mood right now after the hours spent on his group project. Submitting it minutes before the deadline finally granted him sweet release from ever thinking about the frustration associated with it again.
i'm coming up. cover me when i'm at the location.
Rolling his eyes, Kiyoomi opens his door three minutes to a suspicious hooded figure, thankfully devoid of mouse ears this time around.
Atsumu whips his head around before sliding past Kiyoomi, who's still watching him in utter befuddlement, into the entryway.
“Sorry for the short notice. Ya got some enthusiastic fans of yours truly around here. Not that I’m complaining.” He flashes a winning, but weary, grin at him.
“Mm. You don’t mind so much that you turned tail and ran from your adoring supporters?” Kiyoomi pulls out his desk chair for Atsumu to sit in.
Atsumu winces, plopping down hard enough for momentum to spin him a little to the left. “I didn’ run! I just… finished up all the autographs and such… and didn' really know what ta do after that. But they already let me in, so I knew you'd be my knight in shinin' armor!"
Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. “Sure. What were you doing skulking around here?”
“Just scoutin’ around for some… establishments.”
“Not like that!” Atsumu yelps. “Ya make it sound so… indecent! If ya must know, I was... scopin’ out some of the locations for ‘Samu’s new business, is all.”
One look at Atsumu’s expression and Kiyoomi knows he doesn’t want to touch this topic with a ten-foot pole right now.
“Well, as long as you’re here, make yourself useful.” Kiyoomi hands him a stack of flashcards. Atsumu stares at the thick deck in horror.
“Oh, god, I forgot college was just school but more.”
Somehow, Atsumu’s presence in his desk chair has become a semi-regular occurrence.
What’s also become semi-regular is his over-the-top performance of sneaking into Kiyoomi’s room (read: taking the elevator while shifting around suspiciously).
“Listen, ya wouldn’ want a barrage of fans beatin’ down yer door once they see me disappear behind it!” Kiyoomi’s pretty sure he’s never seen anyone give so much as a second look at a college-age guy in sweatpants and sunglasses slinking his way into someone’s dorm.
Although, he doesn’t quite like the implications of the same guy slinking into his dorm every week, either.
“No one cares who you are, but I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about me with your constant visits,” Kiyoomi mentions offhandedly, tapping at his laptop to refresh a grade that should’ve been posted an hour ago.
Atsumu is shoveling chips into his mouth, though carefully avoiding dropping any crumbs on Kiyoomi’s desk. “Whaddya mean?” A pause and loud crunch as he gets it. “ Ohhh. Hey, wait, don’t tell me yer seein’ other boys, are ya?” He sniffles exaggeratedly.
Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. “Don’t think you’re so special, Miya.”
“So cold. I’d think we’re on a first-name basis by now.”
“Oh, we’ve bonded so much over the ant population that you breed in my room.”
Atsumu points an indignant, chip-dust covered finger at him. “Not true! I’m damn courteous to ya, and ya know it!”
“On accident, yes.”
Atsumu huffs and he clicks over to another tab as if not looking at the page will make his grade manifest faster. They’re quiet for a moment, until Atsumu breaks it with a tentative, “Uh. Are ya?”
“Am I what?”
“Ah, seein’ other boys—?”
Kiyoomi looks up from his screen to catch an odd expression crossing Atsumu’s face. “Ya are?”
“What’d you ask? My professor finally posted my grade.”
“Ah, you college kids and yer obsession with grades.” Atsumu waves a hand.
“Don’t talk like you’re some wise old graduate. What were you asking?”
“If you were.” Atsumu pauses, rolls his eyes up to the ceiling as if it holds all the answers to his problems. “Seein’ other boys.” He says it lightly, like a punchline he didn't mean to set up.
“I’m… not,” Kiyoomi says, suddenly on guard. “Why?”
“Oh, it’d just break their hearts if they saw the likes of me hangin’ around ya!” Atsumu laughs, all traces of awkwardness gone. “I’m a real catch, ya know, I drive all the other suitors off! It’s a real problem for my associates.”
“I won’t disagree. You are a problem.”
He clutches at his heart. “Ah, ya always got a turnabout up yer sleeve ta wound me.”
Kiyoomi’s shoulders loosen a little. He hadn’t realized they had tensed. “A specialty of mine.”
“Oh, so yer usin’ all yer special moves on me?” Atsumu quirks a brow at him. “Save some for the court, Omi-kun~”
Atsumu’s eyes widen, like he’s slipped up, but he doesn’t let his smug expression slide. “Yeah, it’s fittin’ for ya. Yer so prickly an’ all.”
Kiyoomi wrinkles his nose at him. “Remind me why you want me to be on first-name terms with you again?”
"Ah, it's nothin' short of a privilege." Atsumu sweeps a hand out and bows—rather, drops his head lower over the back of Kiyoomi’s chair.
Kiyoomi leans over to poke his pencil into the top of Atsumu’s head. His indignant yelp is perhaps even more rewarding than a long-awaited grade posted.
Miya Atsumu @bettermiya
missin’ my lovely little lady at home😢😢
Guys he’s talking about his cat again
"'I know a place,' ya said."
Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. “Oh my god.”
“‘Ta grab lunch,’ ya said.” Atsumu flails his hands around at their surroundings. "This is a sugar factory!"
"Maybe you can claim some seniority over me. You watch your sugar intake like an old man." Kiyoomi makes a show of scanning up and down the bakery menu, already reaching for his wallet. After careful and extensive testing of every product, he's already narrowed down his order to a T.
Atsumu splutters. "Ya—hey! Just ‘cause I don' have the sweet tooth of a four-year-old—"
"Old man," Kiyoomi bites back, because he never hears the end of that from Komori. He's glad Atsumu doesn't have the advantage of knowing that his sweet tooth has, in fact, remained unchanged since toddlerhood. “Just pick something already.”
“Sure know how ta charm a guy, don’t ya,” Atsumu grumbles, but gives the display shelves an appraising look regardless.
Atsumu’s intense distress over the lack of healthy options at a bakery that specializes in comically oversized cookies amuses Kiyoomi enough to offer to pay for his order, which is not-so-graciously declined.
“I’m an adult with a salary! If anythin’, I should be payin’ for yer order.”
“Oh, I’d hate to take advantage of your boundless generosity.”
Atsumu squints at him. “Ya got this way of makin’ anythin’ ya say sound like an insult.” He pulls out his card, gesturing as he continues and quirking up an eyebrow. “Also, bold of ya ta turn down bein’ sugar daddy’d by one of the V-Leagues rising stars…”
Kiyoomi gags. “Now you’ve done the unthinkable: found a way to put me off sugar.”
Atsumu glares. They each pay for their own orders.
Once they’ve settled down, Kiyoomi’s accursed curiosity starts nudging at him. Never one to deny his own impulses, he decides to go for it.
"How's, uh." He considers being delicate about it. "How have you and Osamu been?"
"He's workin' on his business." Atsumu shrugs, nonchalant, but his mouth twists a little. "Gotta half-decent menu by now—be a crying shame if he didn', after being raised on our parents' cookin'."
“Mm. So he didn’t continue volleyball with you?”
Kiyoomi catches the faint echo of a flinch, as if Atsumu’s been asked this question enough times to steel himself, but not quite all the way. “No. He had… other things ta be crazier about. Clearly.”
Kiyoomi shrugs. “You two were a force together, to be sure, but you’re clearly doing well on your own.”
Atsumu looks startled, then ducks his head down to needlessly inspect his cookie. “Pfft. Yeah, obviously.”
“You mentioned a menu?”
He nods. “Yeah, he’s startin’ up an onigiri business. Hopin’ ta make it a chain: ‘Onigiri Miya.’”
“That’s certainly ambitious.”
Atsumu sighs suddenly. “Listen, we’ve… gotten through it. I get his menu rejects, he makes me cook for him after a long day of entrepreneurin’. I’m not so petty as ta not support him in his dreams.”
“Who knew there could be limits on a limitless resource?” Kiyoomi provokes him, just to get that riled-up look on his face.
Atsumu rises to the bait, reliable as ever, and lunch passes quickly. They finish off their cookies and stand to leave, when he pauses and says, “Ah. We have a visitor.”
A starry-eyed middle schooler is shifting on her feet in front of them, glancing back at a gaggle of her friends. “Uhm… you’re Miya Atsumu-senshu, aren’t you?”
Atsumu gives her a warm smile. “The one and only.”
“May I, uhh, could you sign this…?” She thrusts out a small notebook, reddening more with every second.
“Of course. Who am I makin’ it out ta?”
Kiyoomi tunes them out. He hadn’t really taken Atsumu seriously when the other mentioned all the fan attention he dealt with, but the proof is right in front of him now… Hm. He’s not sure he likes splitting Atsumu’s attention with complete strangers.
He’s brought back to reality by the girl’s voice. “Hey, you’re—you were one of the top high school aces a couple years ago, weren’t you?”
“Could you also…?”
Kiyoomi tries to hold back his frown. He’s not going to be the jerk who takes his annoyance out on a middle school girl—anyone under seventeen, in his mind, is just categorized under “Literal Baby.”
“I don’t have an autograph,” he states, blunt but honest.
The girl looks embarrassed and a little crushed. “S-sorry, that’s alright! Thank you again, Miya-senshu—”
“I, uh, I’ll sign, though. What was your name again?”
It’s just… it’s just against Kiyoomi’s policy to make kids— babies— make that kind of face. He’s not great with them, but he knows how to be a decent person. After he scribbles his signature, the girl bows profusely and runs back to her friends.
Atsumu rubs the back of his head sheepishly as the doorbell tinkles cheerfully over their departure. “Sorry about that. Ah, not that she was botherin’ me much, but for draggin’ ya into it.”
“I don’t mind. Comes with the territory, doesn’t it?” The minor irritation is long-forgotten now, the frosting-laced sweetness of the cookie still lingering in his mouth. “She was a kid, anyway. No point in crushing her dreams this early in her life.”
“Yer implying there’s a point in crushing dreams later in life,” Atsumu counters, but his grin is relieved.
“You tell me. Wouldn’t you like to see your brother’s business come crashing down?”
“Wow, and I’m the petty one?”
Atsumu leans into him, obnoxious and cloying and too close. Kiyoomi lets him.
Miya Atsumu @bettermiya
sometimes yer brother hands ya the foulest tastin’ mess ya ever seen in his life and ya gotta question if you were raised under the same roof
Miya Osamu @thebettermiya
Replying to @bettermiya
And u still beg for my menu leftovers so what’s good
It isn’t flat-out humiliation, per se, but Kiyoomi's pretty sure this (broadcasted) match has immortalized the sorriest fucking receive he’s sent up since the second grade.
Their loss was a collection of mishaps, the team's harmony made discordant enough for a hard frown to settle on the coach's face. She doesn’t mince words when they gather after the game.
“That was a sorry performance from the lot of you. I know you all understand what went wrong.” He catches some winces from his teammates, but he’s only vaguely registering her ensuing lecture. He’s already walking through every step and spike of the game in his head, picking at it, moving and correcting the figures in his head like pose dolls.
She lets them go with a curt, “Dismissed.”
He takes a deep breath as he goes through the motions of his post-game cleanup and organization. Take care. Do it right.
His phone buzzes. omw overrr
samu's been doing a little more 'product testing' at my place
In spite of himself, Kiyoomi feels his lips tug up.
Ah. More rejects?
only the finest for uuu~
Give me forty-five. Just finished a game
The anticipation of Atsumu and good food makes the journey home fly by. When he’s finally back in his dorm, the knock he’s been expecting still manages to take him by pleasant surprise.
Atsumu's hair is mussed from the wind, but he doesn't seem to care as he hurries in and carefully sets the plastic bag on Kiyoomi's desk.
"Thought ya might want a little pick-me-up after today’s game,” Atsumu says, turning around, not a trace of sympathy but just open, genuine want to make him happy.
Kiyoomi, who got over it thirty minutes ago, feels suddenly compelled to be the kind of state to necessitate a “pick-me-up.”
“Uh… thank you,” is what he manages to say. Atsumu waves a hand as he turns back to unpack the food.
“Yer takin’ it off my hands, really.”
The steam unfurls from the container. It floats up and dissipates around Atsumu's face, his eyebrows drawing together as he carefully places each rice ball onto a plate. Kiyoomi's chest feels… oddly tight watching him.
He almost startles as a plate is placed in front of him, onigiri neatly molded and arranged. For him.
"There ya go," Atsumu mumbles, more to himself than to Kiyoomi. "All good."
It’s been a while since Kiyoomi’s felt so… tended to. Atsumu, who’s always fussing with his hair and checking that his shirts drape right and muttering snide little one-liners to Kiyoomi… his busy hands are moving now, shaping something warm and careful for him.
Do it properly.
“I can do a lot better than leftovers, y’know. Ya gotta come over ta my place sometime for the real Miya cuisine experience.”
Kiyoomi snorts. “Sounds like a setup.”
“I’m not even gonna rise to yer bait. You’ll see when ya take yer first bite of my home cookin’.”
The room is quiet, save for the munching and chewing as they dig into the steaming onigiri. Kiyoomi swallows a large bite and clears his throat.
“How’d you know about my game?”
He expects a shrug, a dismissive “Caught the last set when I was channel-surfing,” anything other than Atsumu’s crooked smile and “What, ya think I’m not keepin’ up with one of the most promisin’ careers of this generation?”
“I…” He doesn’t have anything smart or quippy to say to that. Atsumu’s eyes on him feel like a weight, but a pleasant one. Kiyoomi huffs out a breath, unable to bite back a smile.
“Send me your address for that cooking sometime, then.”
“Just think, ya coulda hopped right into the pro leagues after school for this, Omi-kun.” Atsumu spreads his arms as Kiyoomi crosses his apartment's threshold.
It's a nice, spacious place, Kiyoomi grudgingly admits, with a generous sprinkling of personality too. Trinkets line the shelves, a blanket artfully draped over the couch, it's certainly—
"Cleaner than I expected."
“What’s that supposed to mean?!”
Kiyoomi inclines his head. “I mean, it’s sparkling. If this is how orderly you keep your apartment all the time…”
Atsumu flushes. "I was scrubbin' on my hands and knees for ya, y'know!" Kiyoomi can practically see the lightbulb over his head as his indignance gives way to a smirk. "Unless ya want me another way on my hands a—"
Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. An unfortunate side effect of being closer with Atsumu has been the gradual loosening of his tongue to make the most immature jokes whenever the opportunity arises.
“Anyway!” Atsumu claps his hands. “The point is, yer both a non-believer in my cookin’ skills and someone who barely cooks for himself. Today, we’ll fix at least one of those things. Now stick ‘em on, little helper.” He brandishes a box of food-safe gloves, from which Kiyoomi gratefully plucks a pair.
“I’m not hearing ‘little helper’ from someone who hasn’t grown since high school.”
“Really?” Kiyoomi smirks. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“Just ‘cause ya stayed taller like an asshole..” Atsumu bustles around the kitchen where some ingredients are already prepped, muttering to himself. He puts a bowl of freshly washed vegetables next to Kiyoomi and tosses one of them onto the cutting board. “Here, dice these.”
He places the knife down next to the carrot. Picks the carrot up and places it down a different way. When no direction is given, he makes to saw it in half, which seems like the right place to start. He thinks.
Atsumu glances over and laughs.
"Have ya never had ta dice a carrot in yer life?"
"The dorm isn't exactly fitted out with a full kitchen set for me to practice cooking in," Kiyoomi says defensively.
Atsumu plucks the knife from Kiyoomi's hand, slicing the rest of the carrot evenly and scraping the pieces up for a clean deposit into the bowl.
He wiggles another carrot in front of Kiyoomi and sets it down.
"Give it a try," he says encouragingly, but that teasing grin is still lingering at the corners.
Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. "I can just buy pre-sliced carrots."
Atsumu sighs, leaning over to tap on the board, but his eyes are watching Kiyoomi. "C'mon, Omi-kun," he murmurs. "You can do better'n that."
Kiyoomi blames that heavy gaze for how he stumbles with the knife, nearly chopping one of his fingertips off. All he gets is a put-upon tsk for his efforts.
"Let's try easy mode, shall we?" Atsumu pauses, moving to stand behind Kiyoomi. “Mind if I do?”
There’s still a teasing hint to his voice, as Kiyoomi realizes what he’s asking. He rolls his eyes, deciding to play along if only because his height is going to make Atsumu need to tiptoe to match him. “Go right ahead, sensei. If you can reach.”
“Jerk,” he mutters back. Moments later, Atsumu's arms snake around, gloved hands coming to rest on top of where Kiyoomi's are positioned.
"Hold steady. Curl yer fingers. Ya won't get that nice tuk tuk that the professional chefs such as myself do— "
“Professional chefs who are gracious enough to keep helping even the bluntest of jerks.”
Atsumu's chest presses and shifts with every breath, but being encased in his arms is more… steadying than Kiyoomi would've anticipated.
Well, Kiyoomi thinks, eyes cutting over to the solid biceps caging him in, maybe he could have anticipated it.
Kiyoomi frantically presses every button and flips every switch in his brain to make his voice come out cool, only vaguely interested.
"Mmm. Thanks for the tutorial, Miya," he manages, flat, biting the inside of his cheek. Atsumu chuckles and he hears it and he feels it.
“You’ve come far.” Atsumu nods approvingly at Kiyoomi’s vegetable slicing. "Don't get too good, or my brother might snatch ya up."
"Before you do?"
The words slip out in an instant between two chops, tentative tuks that Kiyoomi finds himself suddenly very focused on.
It’s so quiet in the kitchen, suddenly. Only tuks to be heard.
“Ah. Mm. I’ll. Get started on the broth.”
He chances a glance up at Atsumu, who’s already turned away to mess with the stove. The back of his neck is redder than his hoodie. Kiyoomi wants to touch it, see if it’s hotter than the stove burners flicking on.
It was the arms, he tells himself. Those damn arms scramble every signal in his brain.
They regain some semblance of normalcy when Atsumu can’t reach some obscure spice at the top of his cupboard (‘Samu put it there last time he was over jus’ ta mess with me, I swear) and Kiyoomi lends his height to help in the most obnoxious way possible.
The food turns out good. So good that Atsumu scrambles for his phone to take pictures of the dishes, beaming and going on about how “his tutelage” is what made Kiyoomi into the chef that he is today.
“One dish that I only did half of the cooking for doesn’t make me a chef.”
Atsumu waves a hand in dismissal. “All chefs have teams. It’s like volleyball.”
cooking lessons opening up now. payment will only be taken in smiling at me and telling me how ur day has been
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tsumu this is embarrassing
“Yer not gonna keep me waitin’ like this, are ya? You can do better’n that...”
Kiyoomi’s mouth moves, but what he says is hazy to even himself. The important part is hard muscles pressing into his, broad shoulders that his hands scramble for purchase on, a built thigh pressing in between—
His mouth is left unoccupied as the other pulls away. Dark eyes, crinkled up happily, meet his as warm hands encircle his waist. “What am I gonna do with ya, baby?”
He doesn’t shoot up in bed when his eyes open, but he does lay unmoving, still frozen in that last painfully tender moment. He can’t tell if he wants to hold onto it or carefully pack every breath, every tingle, every thrill up his spine away into a bag and bury it six feet under.
So he doesn’t do either.
Kiyoomi catches the wisps of his dreams between his teeth, swallows them down.
He clenches at his chest in the dark of his room, head still swimming in the depths of warm brown eyes and cocky half-smiles.
“Just a nightmare,” he says to himself, aloud.
Kiyoomi wouldn’t have any plans today if Komori wasn’t an evil, conniving, manipulative bastard who knew a significant amount of his weaknesses. Namely, that all anyone has to say is “Korean Barbecue” and Kiyoomi’s already got his schedule open to jot down the date and time.
“Good evening, blood traitor.”
“Good evening, dear cousin.”
Kiyoomi maintains his cold gaze even as he sits down and makes himself comfortable at the table.
The frigid facade remains in place, only broken by Komori’s exasperated sigh. “Are you done condemning me for the crime of making you go out for food that you like to eat?”
“Extra beef back would certainly sweeten the pot.”
Komori’s eye twitches. “Fine.”
With that, Komori launches into a tale of EJP Raijin’s antics that Kiyoomi is content to nod along to while he grills his overpriced beef slices. The conversation eventually turns to careers—Komori’s current one and Kiyoomi’s future after university.
“You’ve got a straight shot to Division 1, if you ask me.”
“I didn’t, but thanks for the exact same career advice I’ve been getting ever since I turned down the league’s offers for university instead.”
Komori jabs his chopsticks emphatically in the air. “I wouldn’t dream of telling you that a degree in the humanities is a waste of your time.”
“Funny how you managed to say just that.”
He holds up his hands in surrender. “Hey, I’m not saying that the leagues are your destined path or anything. It’s not all sunshine and camera flashes, let me tell you.”
Kiyoomi takes a neat bite of a well-grilled mushroom and quirks an eyebrow. “Oh, do tell about the dark underbelly of fame.”
Komori sounds more serious now. “Going pro will put more eyes on you than you’ve ever had in your life, y’know. Are you sure you can… handle that?”
“What do you mean?”
Komori shrugs. "You can get, sort of. Y'know. Bitey about these things."
Kiyoomi scowls, even though he knows what he means. “It’s not a crime to value my privacy.”
He holds up his hands. “Hey, I’m not saying the press are going to be breaking down your doors or anything. You’re just gonna have to get used to a lot more scrutiny than usual.”
He chews contemplatively in response. Komori does have a point, but Kiyoomi’s dealt with national recognition in high school. The thought of the rest of his career being like that but amplified by a hundred is intimidating sure, but he can handle it… right?
“Even just, ah, fraternizing with a professional player can earn you some unwanted attention.” Komori stuffs a roasted morsel of beef in his mouth to punctuate his statement. Something in his words sets off a double-entendre sensor in his head.
Kiyoomi narrows his eyes. “Spit it out.”
He grins. “But the sauce on this cut is so good.”
The Cain instinct, Kiyoomi thinks this is called. “You know what I mean.”
“I didn’t see anything on the local news, if that’s what you’re asking. I just heard through the grapevine that you’ve been hanging out with an old friend from high school… maybe better known as the risi—"
Kiyoomi cuts him off with a groan. "If one more person calls him the 'rising star of the V-League' I'm going to put my face directly onto this grill."
Komori laughs loudly, which draws out a grudging chuckle from Kiyoomi, and his worries, for now, seem to float away and dissipate with the smoke rising from the table’s grill.
He doesn’t pay much attention to the more sordid side of sports news. Sure, many players are considered celebrities in their own right and are treated by certain journalists as such, but his eyes glaze over at just the thought of swiping through any gossip rag’s take on an athlete’s personal life.
The only thing that makes his eyes glaze over faster is writing abstracts for his duller-than-rocks literature class.
So he’s sitting in front of the world’s most unappealing blank document on his laptop and a notebook of scribbled ideas, and his phone is looking more and more compelling by the second...
Incredible, the lesser evils one is driven to when avoiding greater evils, such as opening brain-damaging social media apps instead of brain-tangling scholarly articles.
He scrolls down his feed. The extent of its stimulation is when he finds an 86-comment-long argument that has zero relevance to the post it’s on. The internet never fails him.
Of all the recommended accounts to follow, he gets Miya Atsumu’s. As if Kiyoomi needs to inflate his numbers any more.
There’s a little pink circle around his Instagram icon, though. Sheer boredom compels Kiyoomi to tap it.
He’s treated to a brilliant view of the city at night, lights like pinpricks dotting the scene. It’s captioned, “Thinkin’ about her…”
Unbidden, his breath catches in his throat. Who? he thinks, and grimaces. This is the base human instinct that drives people to flipping through those gossip magazines sold by store checkouts.
The next image is… Atsumu’s hand holding his cat’s face. Captioned with “... <3.”
His next stop on this procrastination-induced social media field trip is to Twitter, which he only opens for notifications of certain artist’s tweets.
Atsumu’s recent posts seem to be retweets of promotional accounts, advertising the newest match or sponsorship pertaining to his team. But he does have some personal posts. Pictures of his cat, mostly, and—Kiyoomi nearly chokes—thirst traps.
He hates that he knows to navigate to the media section to get a straight feed of… those. They’re not the sauciest pictures, he supposes, but by nature of Atsumu being Atsumu he finds himself a little warm under the collar. Tossing up a peace sign in an artfully loose tank top, sweat glistening around his neck. A posed snap of his outfit—he seems to pride himself on his style. A victorious fist pumping in the air after a win, hair still mussed from coming off the court and sleeve falling back to reveal a tanned bicep—
A video. He taps on it almost robotically.
“Hey, everyone, just wanted ta—oh!” Atsumu’s walking down a hallway while talking when he stops and looks down, a pleasantly surprised expression crossing his face. “Didn’ see ya there, bud.” He leans down and lifts up a bundle of fur into frame. “This is my baby, say hi!” He makes some kissy noises. Kiyoomi’s grip on his phone tightens, inexplicably.
“Anyway, me an’ Oni-kun here wanna tell ya about MSBY’s upcomin’ match! Ya won’ wanna miss it for the world. Will they, ya little devil?” He rubs noses with his cat and smiles at the camera again before the video ends and automatically loops.
And yes, Kiyoomi sits there and rewatches it.
The abstract is hastily typed and submitted sometime next morning.
Instructor Feedback: Well-placed context and preliminary research overview. However, claims need stronger articulation and more focus."
Kiyoomi's utter disinterest in social media remains unchallenged. He's got too many lab reports and essays and "borrowed" stationery to keep track of to dedicate any significant amount of attention to it.
But… he does find himself checking Atsumu's accounts on occasion. When he's really got nothing else to do.
"Gym selfies, huh? Ya jealous of his gains?"
Kiyoomi nearly jumps out his skin at the deep voice over his shoulder. Thankfully, his teammates have learned to allow him his personal bubble, particularly in the locker room. Somehow, Shoko has unintentionally earned himself the honor of Kiyoomi’s comfort, by both his own meticulous hygiene and slight twang of an accent coupled with a friendly smile.
"Hey, is that Miya A—"
"No." Kiyoomi swipes to close his phone and resists the urge to tuck it away as if he’s been caught doing something wrong.
"Uh, I'm pretty sure that was him."
"No to what you said before."
Shoko laughs. "There's no shame in admitting it, man. The guy's splashed across the city's billboards for a reason. You're not doing too bad for yaself, though."
He taps Kiyoomi's shoulder in a "bro punch", and Kiyoomi is suddenly brought back to his adolescent years of confusing fervent homosexual attraction with jealousy.
“Thank you, Shoko-senpai.” He makes an aborted attempt to bro-tap back. “Ah… you as well. But really, I don’t envy others for things like that.” No, I get jealous of mangy black cats.
"Alright, alright.” Shoko holds his hands up with an easy smile. “I can take some gains shots for ya next time ya hit the weights, though.”
“Thank you, again.”
Once he’s clear of any nosy seniors, Kiyoomi goes back to scrolling mindlessly on his phone.
Good god, now all of his social media algorithms think he’s as obsessed with Atsumu as his fanbase. A snippet of a promoted article catches his eye.
The young recruit’s enthusiasm is only matched by his charm, which earned him quite the following back in high school.
Kiyoomi snorts, remembering the brightly colored signs that would crop up at every Inarizaki match. He wonders what those fans are up to now.
Oh yeah, those Twitter users with display names like “atsumu’s sweaty jersey.” Safe to assume that obsessing over Miya Atsumu is not something that is easily cured.
Kiyoomi’s been aware of the first Onigiri Miya location’s opening for a few weeks now. It’s too far away to warrant a personal visit, but he’s gotten some truly excellent takeout from there.
After running some errands, he makes the grave mistake of dropping in. This isn’t a mistake that makes itself immediately obvious, as the interior is clean, simplistic decor and spotless surfaces, all of which quickly earn his stamp of approval. He catches sight of a dark undercut tucked under a cap, carrying something to the back, and nearly does a double take.
Come on, Kiyoomi thinks, rolling his eyes, they’re twins . There’s no way that’s actually—
“May I take yer order?”
He blinks slowly, eyes falling on a blonde tuft of hair and a blinding grin.
Atsumu throws his hands up. “C’mon, at least call me by my name now. What if you’re spittin’ some bitin’ comeback at me and poor ‘Samu thinks that it’s for him?”
“The difference is that Miya-san knows I respect him.”
His eyes bulge. “Miya- san?!”
“This isn’t very good customer service,” Kiyoomi informs him. “What are you doing here behind the counter, anyway?”
Atsumu puffs his chest out. “I’m the older one, y’know. I’ve gotta help out my poor brother’s struggling business.”
A familiar accent calls from the back. “Keep talkin’ like that and I’ll halve yer pay.”
“Yer practically charging me ta cover shifts today,” Atsumu grumbles.
Kiyoomi watches his face for any hint of real bitterness and finds none.
Osamu emerges from the kitchen, apron stained and expression harried, but his grin is friendly as he nods at his newest customer. “Kiyoomi-kun! I thought I saw yer name on some deliveries recently.”
Kiyoomi offers him a smile back. “You certainly have. With food like this, I can see why you’re so busy.”
“Aw, yer too kind, Kiyoomi-kun. What would ya like today? The usual?”
“That would be excellent.”
Atsumu pouts. “Omi-kun, where’s all these manners when ya talk ta me?”
“That’s what ya call him? No wonder he has no respect for ya.” Osamu shoos him away. “Now go fix up his order.”
Atsumu glares and heads into the back, grumbling something about how “I’m not even gettin’ paid for this bullshit.”
Osamu grins at Kiyoomi. “He ain’t great for the atmosphere, is he?”
Kiyoomi quirks his lips up in response. “Bringing down the reviews, no doubt.”
He snorts. “How’ve ya been, Kiyoomi-kun? Heard yer on the university’s circuits nowadays. Coulda guessed that from all the takeout orders, though—we get lots of uni students here. ”
They chat amicably until Osamu’s called away by another employee. His place is quickly taken.
“Yer order, sir.” Atsumu has the most simpering customer-service smile plastered on as he presents Kiyoomi’s steaming onigiri to him.
“Sure you didn’t get it wrong?”
“Positive.” Atsumu leans in. “I picked every ingredient by hand.”
Kiyoomi leans forward, not breaking eye contact. “Thank you. Waiter.”
They stay there, eyes narrowed, neither daring to give up.
“No offense, but what the hell d’you two think yer doin’.” It’s not a question. Both of them blink and—
“Tsumu! The next order, ya lazy prick!” Osamu’s exasperated voice cuts the moment sharply in half. Atsumu breaks his gaze away to narrow in irritation over his shoulder.
“Yer ungrateful ass has me working pro bono an’ ya still got the audacity—”
Kiyoomi sighs and takes a well-deserved, savory bite of his tuna-mayo order.
Local Guide · 67 reviews · 46 photos
★★★★☆ 2 days ago
Excellent atmosphere. Service was good, if a little slow at times. Hope to see it grow!
The next time Kiyoomi is at Atsumu’s place, he voices a question that’s been eating at him.
“Where’s your cat?”
“Your—” He prays Atsumu doesn’t ask how he knows. “I heard you had one.”
“Oh, me an’ Samu trade her off between our places every few weeks. She likes me better, though.” Atsumu adds the last part in a conspiratorial whisper. “Lucky for ya, she’s here this week!”
“Really? What’s her name?” Kiyoomi asks, lying through his teeth.
"Oni-kun! But she’s Oni-sama when I don't give her breakfast on time." He wanders into his bedroom, presumably to fetch her. “Hey, Oni-kun~”
A little black ball of fur pads over to the sofa, unbothered by her owner going in the wrong direction. She hops up and makes herself comfortable. Kiyoomi holds out a hand for her to sniff, and she bonks her little nose against him, blinking up at him with wide, innocent eyes. He’s about ready to give her his wallet.
Damn. She’s good.
“How’s my cutie pie doin’?” Atsumu’s voice carries over to the living room. Kiyoomi startles so violently he almost frightens Oni. The cat, he’s talking to the cat.
“I think she tolerates me.”
“Aw, she’ll love ya, just give her another couple minutes. She either clings ta ya like there’s no tomorrow or rejects yer very existence.”
He strokes his fingers along her luxurious coat. “You seem to take good care of her… or maybe it’s just Osamu’s doing.”
“I’m a better cat-dad than he could ever be, ya slanderer.” Atsumu settles on the opposite chair, watching Oni warm up to him.
Kiyoomi scratches behind Oni's ear. "Sorry for calling you mangy," he mutters.
"What was that?"
It's clearly not nothing to Oni, who bares her teeth and goes for a vicious attack on his finger. It's more of an ambitious nibble than anything, but Atsumu immediately springs up to scold her.
"That is not how we treat guests!" he says sternly, picking her up to meet her eye-level. “I’m sorry, she seemed ta like ya jus’ fine a minute ago…”
Oni whines in the back of her throat, and Atsumu’s stern expression melts like butter. “Aw, baby, d’ya need something?”
Kiyoomi watches in astonishment as Atsumu goes full doting-parent mode, fussing over her and carrying her over to her ridiculously luxurious cat bed. He could swear that the paw she’s got on his sleeve is… smug.
She turns and pinches up her little mouth at him.
Mangy cat, he mouths back.
Worse than a hiss, he gets a sad mewl in response that sparks another round of Atsumu obsessively tending to her.
She’s playing him like a violin. Kiyoomi would be impressed if he wasn’t feeling such an unreasonable amount of animosity towards a pint-sized feline.
Once she’s all settled, though, Atsumu’s all eyes for him. He doesn’t even lord Oni’s dislike of Kiyoomi over him for too long before settling in to hear Kiyoomi’s various complaints about his university workload.
“Why’d ya go for a degree?” he interjects after Kiyoomi has finished extrapolating all the ways in which he has constructed a better plan for the curriculum than the professor himself after sitting through weeks' worth of his lectures that left him more confused about the class topic than when he started.
"Well, part of it was for my dad's sake—he worries himself ill about my career prospects if I get so much as a twisted ankle." Kiyoomi rolls his eyes. "I wanted to try going through the collegiate circuit, too, instead of jumping straight into the pros."
"And whatta loss it's been for the pros," Atsumu laments, and Kiyoomi laughs.
"Sure it's been."
"No, really. I mean, there's some monsters out there, but I remember settin' to ya the few times I got ta see ya." A distant smile crosses Atsumu's face. "I remember sayin' some nonsense about transferrin' to yer school and 'Samu smackin' me ta get my head out the clouds."
"You— what?" Kiyoomi's mind is reeling. He tries to cover it up with amused incredulity.
He's always thought of the impression Atsumu managed to leave on him during the few and far-between times they saw each other, but he's never considered what Atsumu thought of him.
Closed-off, particular to a fault about the sets he spiked and the people he talked to… the only impression Kiyoomi's ever thought he gave off was some blunt introvert who also happened to be one of the nation's top three.
"Aw, I don' know why I told ya that." Atsumu buries his face in his hands. "Listen, I was this weird little jerk in high school who'd jus’ say nonsense when his team got on his nerves, alright?"
“Since you want to be on a team with me so badly… ”
“I’ll try not to keep you waiting, Atsumu.”
It’s supposed to come out light, joking, but it doesn’t. Atsumu uncovers his face to meet Kiyoomi’s too-sincere eyes.
“Seriously? All it took was barin’ my soul with one of my embarrassin’ high school stories? Is this how ta unlock all yer levels of familiarity?”
Kiyoomi groans, the moment broken. “Don’t make such a big deal of it, Mi—”
“Nope!” Atsumu cuts him off. “Ya can’t take it back now. We’re Atsumu an’ Omi-kun now.”
His pleased grin is enough for Kiyoomi to give up his cause quickly.
When the hour comes for Atsumu to glance at the clock and exclaim about the train schedule, Kiyoomi wishes he were so bold as to ask to stay. But he finds himself agreeing, gathering his things and bundling up for the brisk weather outdoors.
Kiyoomi feels like the warmth of the apartment is still spilling out behind them as Atsumu walks him down to the door of the building. Even the chilly air outside can’t tamp down the flush he can feel on his ears.
“I’ll be heading to the train now,” Kiyoomi says, though suddenly very willing to hesitate and linger in the soft glow illuminating Atsumu’s face.
“Right,” he responds, oddly quiet. “It’s cold, so take care.”
Atsumu’s hands come up the Kiyoomi’s coat, smoothing the collar unnecessarily. “All good,” he says, as if Kiyoomi isn’t already intoxicated by every soft, half-lidded glance Atsumu deigns to give him.
I remember settin' to ya the few times I got ta see ya.
His eyes drift down to Atsumu’s lips, still half-parted from the tail end of his words.
They’re far closer than either realized. This becomes clear as they break apart, heads whipping around to look at the mousy-looking man in front of them wielding a camera the size of his head.
“Miya Atsumu!” He pulls out a square audio recorder, jabbing it towards Atsumu. “Care to offer any insight on this fresh romance, as a rising…”
His voice jabbers away, turning into a dull drone as Kiyoomi’s heart becomes leaden, sinks to his stomach.
Is this how it’s going to be? he thinks.
“Omi? What d’ya, sorry—hey, shut up!” Atsumu’s charming grin is nowhere to be found as he turns on the reporter. “You’re gonna stay right here or I’m getting the building’s security on your ass.”
He turns back, words quiet and quick. “Hey, Omi-kun, I’ll handle—”
“Make sure that isn’t posted anywhere.” Atsumu reels back. Kiyoomi sounds harsh to his own ears.
“I… yeah, of course. Hey, you! Hand over that camera and…”
The warmth Kiyoomi felt is creeping uncomfortably towards stifling, making him feel uncomfortable in his own skin.
He stumbles back, one step and then another. Atsumu follows him, eyes worried. “I can’t do this. Not with all this—“ He gestures helplessly. “I have to go. Train.”
There’s plenty of time for him to get to the station, but Atsumu’s expression has shuttered at his words. “Of course. Go on ahead.”
He jerks a nod. Somewhere behind the two of them, the building’s security has in fact shown up. It’s a ritzy complex, after all.
“I’m sorry about that.”
“It’s—” Fine gets stuck in his throat. “Later.”
Later is when Kiyoomi realizes that he did say it out loud.
“Is this how it’s going to be?”
He looks outside the train window, past the tired faces of late-night commuters, and catches sight of one of those billboards Shoko mentioned weeks ago.
Atsumu and his teammates stare down at him, large lettering framing their intense expressions.
DO IT BETTER.
He gets a single text from Atsumu the next morning, devoid of tildes or exclamation points.
The photo won’t be published anywhere.
It’s not fair to Atsumu. He doesn’t know about Kiyoomi’s anxieties over being in the spotlight, he doesn’t know, doesn’t know that he’s so unprepared that he’ll freak out over one measly little paparazzi.
The crash stunned him, the high of almost kissing Atsumu dropping down to the awful invasion of privacy. What burns the worst is how the moment was broken, by someone else, that he let it break.
That man had no right, no place there. But, Kiyoomi realizes, he’s going to have to decide what does have a place, and keep out what doesn’t if it won’t stay out.
What’s important is volleyball. If volleyball is going to put him in the spotlight, then screw it all, it’s just another step in a labor of love.
What’s important is Atsumu. If—
Shoko nudges him. “You all there, Sakusa?”
He nods instinctively.
“Alright, ‘cause Coach might whoop our asses if we get a repeat of That Match.”
He nods again.
The team has been doing well since That Match, extra motivation thrumming between them to go further, do it better, do it right and do it more right.
They play the kind of match that’d have Coach thumping their backs in approval. Kiyoomi dives for a receive that’d have him face planting into the court if he didn’t pull it off exactly as he practiced. The ball floating up high and easy is proof enough of his success.
Kiyoomi’s spikes cut through the opponents’ defense like butter. He doesn’t bother biting back his smirk as he lands.
The match point is a nigh-immovable block between him and Shoko, but Shoko takes the brunt of it. The ball slams down to the other side, and the world around him erupts into cheers.
Shoko bro-punches his shoulder. He taps one back, and Shoko grabs him in a one-armed hug. “You’re the man, man.”
Do it right.
“Excellent work on those blocks. And Sakusa, those wrist spins were spot-on from practice.”
Do it properly.
He turns, and catches sight of—
Mussed hair catching bright stadium lights, oversized shades, and a mouth he can't see tucked behind a mask. Hooting and hollering with the crowd like there’s no tomorrow.
No mouse ears to speak of, but Kiyoomi can tell from ten bleachers down.
He rushes over, nearly knocking into one of the cameramen.
“Hey, Sakusa, what—”
He vaults over the edge of the bleachers—they’re low, but it’s still a strain on his jumping-sore legs—and takes them two at a time. He’s in the aisle, and Kiyoomi can’t see a goddamn thing on his face, and that needs to change quickly.
Kiyoomi's hands move before his mouth does, pulling down Atsumu's mask with one and cradling his face with the other.
The exchange is barely more than a second, but time stretches out lazily, deliciously slow as Atsumu's mouth catches his. One of Atsumu's hands fists in his still-sweaty uniform, tentative at first but pulling him closer only moments later. With you, with you, his mind chants, like a litany, I don't mind, ever, ever, I—
"I don't mind," he breathes, breaking away. "I don't mind at all as long as your eyes are on me."
Atsumu's mouth wobbles, eyes still hidden by those stupid shades, and splits into a wide grin. "All I've ever cared about is where yer lookin', sweetheart."
A Raucous Victory
First-year and rising star of collegiate volleyball, Sakusa Kiyoomi, caused quite a stir among the crowd when he leaped over the bleachers moments after the team’s match point to passionately kiss a hooded figure. Most likely one of our students, but why go to such lengths to hide their face? That’s the real intrigue.
The university team is getting its fair share of love from the student populace after their winning streak following a harsh loss near the beginning of the season. Catch our next match on…
They’ve come to an agreement over their shared territory. Atsumu is blissfully unaware of their dealings.
“Shove off or no extra treats,” Kiyoomi says to Oni, very seriously. She doesn’t budge. He narrows his eyes.
“You may be cute, but he kisses me goodnight. And we have sex. I have the high ground here.”
Atsumu wanders in, wearing nothing but boxers and a robe. “Ya talkin’ ta someone?”
“Oni isn’t getting off your side. Where you should be, you freak of a morning person.”
“Ya can’t just stay in bed today, babe. You’ve got some big tryouts today~” Atsumu sings, tugging at Kiyoomi’s covers.
“Right, MSBY isn’t expecting me until this evening.”
“Ya gotta spend the day preparing! I’ve gotta whole protein-packed breakfast planned out for ya!”
Kiyoomi groans and rolls over. “Atsumuuu…” he calls in a pouty voice that he only uses for evil.
“Gotta get up first if ya want any of this.” Atsumu flourishes with his robe.
Kiyoomi wrinkles his nose at him. “Come here.”
Atsumu holds his hands up in surrender, leaning in, but Kiyoomi’s impatience has him grabbing to pull him in closer.
“I need some kisses for good luck. What if I do terribly?”
He snorts. “You can do better than that, Mister Official MVP of Collegiate Volleyball.”
Kiyoomi takes advantage of Atsumu’s imbalance and yanks him down. “I need kisses.”
“Not even a reason this time, I see.” The important part is that he indulges Kiyoomi, threading a hand through his hair and pressing him back into the mess of pillows.
Atsumu sighs into his mouth once they break apart. “What am I gonna do with ya, sweetheart?”
Oni yowls from where she’s been banished at the foot of the bed. Atsumu coos reassurances at her as she huffily disappears into the living room. Kiyoomi slides his hand up to catch Atsumu’s jaw, tugs his face to him.
“Hey. Look here.”
Atsumu’s eyes, the little flecks around his iris, the hazy half-lids, the crinkles at their corners, all say it before his mouth does.
“I always am.”