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A Garden in his Lungs

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Hinata Shouyou falls in love with Miya Atsumu while basking in the dreadful feeling of defeat during his second year of highschool, the blonde points at him, a repetition of what he had done the previous year and reminded him about his promise of tossing to him one day. A toss he never had to beg, it made his heart flutter like it did the year before regardless of losing to the older teen. 

 

For the rest of the tournament, Shouyou can’t help but watch as Miya Atsumu conquers the stage. It was a subtle, slow and steady ache in his heart, Shouyou felt a seed being planted in his lungs. 

He searches for Atsumu between the pages of a sports magazine, watching all his plays behind a screen. All he sees is him, and the roots have started to spread. He coughs his first few petals during Atsumu's debut game as the MSBY Black Jackals setter.

 

Sunflowers, loyalty and adoration.

 

Shouyou has an unrequited love towards Miya Atsumu, Atsumu doesn't love him back. How could he? When they've only ever talked twice, divided by a net and a thousand kilometers apart. The mere thought of it sends him to a fit of coughs. 

 

He wastes no time, he tells his mother, he had never seen her cry so much. They go to the hospital the next day. He had 3 options, confess and pray to the gods that Atsumu would feel the same (but he doubts Atsumu feels the same, if he did he wouldn't have this disease in the first place).And choose between the type of surgery he wants, both with unwanted side effects. It's mostly the same, they have to remove the flower that's slowly(rapidly) blooming in his lungs but he needs to choose whether to lose all the ability to love or to forget all the memories he has about the person he loves. He chose neither at the moment. He wants to love Atsumu a little longer, cherish the memories about him even if it's only a few. But he'll end up getting surgery anyways, (his mother insists, the doctor as well, he thinks about it rationally) he still has a long life ahead of him, a promise to fulfil, and a hundred, thousands of volleyball matches to play. Dying will never be an option, Shouyou doesn't want for Atsumu (or anyone) to blame himself for his death.

 

Not yet, he thinks. Not yet.

 

Despite the vibrant yellow flowers slowly blooming in his lungs, he goes to Brazil with petals between his lips. When he comes back to Japan his first ever real conversation with Atsumu went as briefly as this:

 

"Shouyou-kun, hope ya didn't forget about my promise."

 

"Miya Atsumu...-san?? Promise? Oh. The toss?"

 

"M'hurt that ya still confuse me with Samu! He doesn't even play volleyball anymore!" 

 

Shouyou and Atsumu immediately became good friends ever since his return from Brazil. They clicked, he never felt so relieved and full. Atsumu would even say they're best friends. 

 

They go from Shouyou-kun, 

 

‘Shou-kun’ 

 

‘Shou’

 

'Atsumu-san’ 

 

‘Tsumu-san’ 

 

 And ‘Tsumu’

 

Everyone at MSBY are at their wits ends, waiting for either of the two to just confess and start dating. Shouyou looks at Atsumu like he held the stars in his hands, Atsumu doesn't look back, he only holds a volley ball and nothing else.

 

He looks at the mix of white and yellow chrysanthemums scattered on his bathroom floor. 

 

Loyalty, devotion, neglected love, and sorrow…

 

Nothing happens even after Shouyou goes back to Brazil to play for Asas São Paulo. 

 




He flies back to Japan as soon as he makes it to the National team, ready to conquer the world, and the first person to greet him at the training camp was Atsumu who mainly ambushes him and ruffles his already messy orange hair.

 

"Shouu!!! How's my favorite wing spiker?" 

 

There was a pause, Shouyou looked at Atsumu like he's a stranger. 

 

"Don't tell me ya still confuse me fer Samu?!"

 

Shouyou blinks and proceeds to laugh at Atsumu.

 

"Nah, I'm just teasing you...Atsu--Tsumu." he bites his mistake in between his tongue.

 

While preparing for the Olympics Shouyou falls deeper for Atsumu. Despite all of this, despite the difficulty to breathe, he never confessed, he was-- is still scared, he is aware that Atsumu harbors no romantic feelings towards him. If he did the damn flowers would have long wilted away. He dreams about confessing to Atsumu every night, he wakes up coughing flowers on his bed accompanied with the excruciating pain of petals obscuring his airways that leaves him in tears. He dreams about dying whenever he says those three words.

 




They didn't take home the gold, but they were close, but that doesn't mean none of them feels regretful. Still they eat their dinners and drown the bitter taste of defeat with alcohol. In the midst of the team's chaotic dinner party, they thoroughly observe Shouyou’s obvious pining towards Atsumu. If Shouyou had once looked at Atsumu like he held the stars, he now looks at Atsumu like he holds his heart. His face will contort from blissful pining as if the blonde is caressing his heart like a fragile glass to a wounded expression as though Atsumu will shatter it to a million pieces anytime he wants.

 

Atsumu flushed red down to his neck, whining beside Shouyou, blaming himself for not being enough. Shouyou wants nothing more but to cup his cheeks, kiss his crocodile tears goodbye and whisper to him all the great things he has done. He doesn’t, he couldn’t.

 

He is hit with a painful force in his lungs. He needs to cough the flowers that are threatening to pass his lips away from any prying eyes. Atsumu looks at him, worried, distressed.

 

He knows he can't force the petals to stop climbing up his throat. He stood up and sprinted to the nearest bathroom.

 

A bouquet.

 

Of Sunflowers, Chrysanthemums. Loyalty, devotion, sorrow.

 

Orange blossoms, Daffodils. Eternal love, and unrequited love.

 

Shouyou lets out a choked sob. He has never heard of anyone coughing different flowers before. He can hear his teammates banging at the door asking what’s wrong with him but Atsumu's voice is the only thing he hears.

 

Shouyou has an unrequited love for Miya Atsumu, despite how many times he tries to forget, his heart knows what it wants. And it swears to love only one man.

 

'I'll love you for all eternity. Devote myself to you, without any love in return.... '

 

The assortment of flowers screams at him, he can feel the garden clutching it's roots at his lungs and the petals filling the hollow spaces. And all he sees is black.

 


 

Shouyou wakes up at the hospital, Natsu and his mother are crying beside him. He hears voices at the doorway, he immediately recognizes Atsumu so he listens.

 

"Miya-san, I heard you are close to Hinata-san. You understand better than anyone the condition he is in. He had already gone to surgery twice, removing his memories for the third time may cause unwanted side effects, and it seems Hinata-san refuses to forget and still won't distance himself from the cause. If his family cannot convince him, maybe a friend will."

 

Atsumu understands? How?

 

Shouyou watches as  Atsumu enters the room, his blonde hair not styled for once. His shirt was crumpled, tear stains marked in his chest as though someone had cried there. His hazel eyes rest on Shouyou and he can see it flooded with a mix of different emotions; regret, guilt, hatred--to whom? Maybe to himself, and Shouyou wanted to cry and tell Atsumu to stop blaming himself for this, for his own feelings.

 

His family left them to have some privacy, Natsu eyes Atsumu as though the man had killed her brother.  He was unsure about that. Shouyou doesn't know if he can survive being in the same room with Atsumu.

 

Atsumu sat beside him and held his right hand tightly and pressed it against his forehead. Silence filled the room until Shouyou heard choked sobs. 

 

"Shou, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He tells him this in between sobs like a mantra.

 

Ah. He knows...

 

Shouyou reaches out to run his fingers to Atsumu's hair relishing its softness and hushes his apologies.

 

"Tsumu, please don't apologize. Never blame yourself for something we can’t control. We...we can't help whom we fell in love with, okay?" 

 

Atsumu only cries more when he says those words. His hands are shaking and is having a hard time breathing.

 

 "Hate me, hate me. Everythin' will be better if ya just hate me. Tell yourself ya despise Miya Atsumu, write it down--I don't care. Just hate me, hate me. Forget everything about me...Please, please hate me Shou."

 

It was Shouyou's turn to cry, he now felt his tears freely flowing down his face. He lifts Atsumu’s face by his chin to make him look at him straight to his eyes.

 

"Tsumu, I can never hate you. NEVER, you hear me? I don't care how many times I have to take that damn surgery, no matter how many times I have to forget about you, I don't want to ever stop loving you, that's why I choose to forget. Because I know It'll always be you."

 

'I love you.' Was left unsaid. He is afraid.

 

"Ya don't understand--Shou! I--I can't! I'm not! I can't love ya--love anyone at all. I'm incapable of doin' so."

 

Atsumu Miya fell in love at the age of 18, but he was never loved back.

 

So he pleads to his mother to let him love this boy a little bit longer, to make memories with him just even a few, and then--then, he'll forget ever loving this boy.

 

But he couldn't.

 

He coughs yellow carnations with a mix of blood--rejection, disdain, and disappointment. Sometimes the flowers signify how the other person feels. He doesn't even need to confess, the answer is inside his lungs, killing him.

 

The roots had clung tightly and the petals filled up the space in his lungs, he could die, he is a boy, he is afraid.

 

He can never forget his memories of the boy, it will continue to live in the corner of his mind. He is left with the inability to love. Forever.

 

A day before his surgery he cried rivers of tears with his mother and his twin. Atsumu was scared. 

 

"What if I stop lovin' ya? My own family? What about my dream, my passion? Will I stop lovin' it too?" 

 

His brother held him tightly, he had never seen Osamu cry so much. Osamu tells him, if he ever stopped loving volleyball, he'll love it enough for the both of them. He'll love their mother for the both of them.

 

"But yer quittin'..."

 

"Doesn't mean I'll ever stop lovin' it."

 

When they all finally calmed down, tears had long dried. Osamu asked him a question, Atsumu can hear hatred laced with his voice.

 

"Why do ya love him?"

'Why do ya love someone who tells you how much he hates you through his eyes?'--this, Osamu doesn’t ask but Atsumu knows, he always does.

 

"I can make a whole list of why I love 'em. But I don't think ya'll accept anything' I say Samu, just remember that we can't help who we fall in love with."

 

Atsumu yearns to love again, he wishes he can tell this tangerine-headed man the words he'd been longing to hear. But it'll only be empty words.

 

Shouyou will always forget the existence of Miya Atsumu, the memories he keeps tucked between the pages will never fill up the void of the lost ones. But no matter what, Shouyou will always remember to love him. He feels cursed blessed knowing that he'll forever love Atsumu. It will always be him.

 

The incarnation of the sun loves him so much--and will love him forever expecting nothing in return. He cries, hate me , and he begs, "I want to love..." Again…

 

he chokes.

 

"I love you, Atsumu."

 

A purple lilac had started to bloom in his heart.