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Hiding in Plain Sight

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Time slows down to a crawl when he sees it in Oikawa’s eyes, pupils blown wide with the ecstasy of set point and victory at their fingertips, razor-sharp gaze flickering from the flawless bend of Ushijima’s arm to the side, a few feet to the left.

He sees the horror in the silent parting of Oikawa’s lips a mere heartbeat before he feels the impact that throws him off balance, hears the familiar roar of the crowd distantly ringing in his ears as he fails to save his flubbed landing and his ankle caves in under his weight.

Then silence.

His body collides with the hardwood floor with a sickening thud.

Immediately, a jolt of white-hot pain shoots up his leg and he stifles a groan at the rapid pulsing sensation spreading from where he knows with a chilling certainty his ankle has already begun to swell. 

He squeezes his eyes shut against the bright overhead lights until the gymnasium slowly comes back into focus. 

There’s the high-pitched squeak of gym shoes and the thump of approaching footsteps, a small, panicked voice uncomfortably close to his ear.

“Ushijima-san?”

A hesitant touch to his forearm.

“Ushijima-san, forgive me, I am so sorry—

Ushijima barely keeps himself from wincing at the sound, brushes a few sweaty strands of hair out of his face before pressing his fingers to his throbbing temple instead.

“Are you alright?”

Surrounded by his teammates, who have started hovering around his still form in a tight circle, confidence and determination replaced by shell-shocked expressions, Ushijima carefully drags himself into an upright position. 

The world tilts to the side. His vision blurs momentarily.

It’s unadvisable at best, he is well aware of that, yet they absolutely cannot afford a blow to the team’s morale at such a critical point in the game. They’ve come too far to let this match slip through their grasp. 

Ushijima braces himself.

If you ever find yourself crowded into a corner, toss to me and I will be there, an old promise echoes inside his head, the deep baritone of his own voice calm and steady. 

He knows for a fact that Oikawa didn’t trust him then. 

Three years later his quips and taunts have gradually lost their edge, Oikawa’s teasing words at odds with the predatory glint in his eyes when skilled fingers work their magic on the ball, placing it exactly where Ushijima needs it to be, where Oikawa knows without a doubt Ushijima will barrel through the enemy team’s triple block like a force of nature and secure them another point.

Three years and countless hours spent on the same side of the court. Countless nights of staying behind long after practice has ended, molding their individual excellences into a lethal weapon. Countless petty arguments, heavy silences and, as of recently, deep, bruising kisses that, more often than not, lead to Ushijima pressed back into the mattress of Oikawa’s cramped single-bed, Oikawa straddling his face, long, bare legs trembling with pleasure as Ushijima’s mind is reeling with years of pent-up longing and he can’t possibly hope to keep up.

I will be there.

It’s in the way Ushijima’s nails bite into the burning palms of his hands and his frown deepens by a fraction, in the stern line of his jaw, a storm brewing in gold-flecked eyes as they find Oikawa’s across the court. 

Oikawa stares right back at him, mouth agape, hands hanging uselessly by his hips, and for a split second Ushijima sees a fissure in the mask, shaken and vulnerable. 

It’s gone so fast, Ushijima isn’t sure whether he had imagined it.

Against better judgement, he takes a deep breath through gritted teeth and pushes himself up onto his feet, gaze never leaving Oikawa’s as if it was all that was still holding him together.

It is , he understands with a pang of regret the moment that he dares tentatively putting some weight on his bad ankle and sees blotches of blinding white light exploding before his eyes. 

A pained, breathless gasp escapes his lips and a split second later his knees connect with the hard gymnasium floor once again. 

The throbbing behind his temples intensifies.

His vision has become blurred around the edges by the time a pair of medics settles down on the ground next to him. One gently pries his fingers away from where he hadn’t realized he’s been clutching his leg in an iron grip, the other inspects his pulsing forehead with a look of growing concern.

It feels like he’s watching the scene unfold from somewhere outside of his own body as they’re carefully heaving him onto a stretcher. He hears them speak to each other, speak to him but can’t seem to make sense of the words, let alone string together his own to form any sort of meaningful response.

Are you a robot, Ushiwaka-chan? a younger version of Oikawa drawls in the back of his mind, daggers hidden behind a dazzling smile and his usual breezy tone. Is it hard for you to hold a normal conversation?

Oikawa hasn’t spoken to him this way, aiming to hurt his feelings, in so long that sometimes Ushijima forgets that despite how much their relationship has changed over time, Oikawa may still not consider him a friend.

Ushijima’s chest tightens at the sight of him, frozen in place with an unreadable expression on his pretty face, not showing the slightest inclination to take a step towards Ushijima or the rest of their team. 

He thought they had become closer.

Then why, he wonders with an all too familiar taste of disappointment rising up in his throat moments before darkness encloses him like a heavy blanket, do they suddenly feel miles apart?

 

 

Ushijima wakes up to the distinct scent of hospital disinfectant and a dull pressure behind his eyelids that makes him wish he could will himself to drift back to sleep for a little longer.

His body feels unnaturally heavy, weighed down by an intangible force, his limbs as sluggish as his muddled thoughts as he slowly regains consciousness.

For a few long minutes Ushijima feels entirely, miserably lost. 

He can’t seem to recall where he is or how he got here, why his head feels like it’s filled with cotton, strangely light and dizzy even with his eyes closed, or whether his left foot has always been this stiff, the skin stretched too tight over muscle and bone.

It’s when he experimentally wiggles his toes and a nasty stab of pain lances up his ankle, making him wince internally, that fragments of memories finally come trickling back to him. The ball suspended in mid-air, a perfect set, high like he prefers it, the rush of launching himself into a powerful jump, Oikawa’s wide eyes a split second before the collision.

Oikawa.

Oikawa, who didn’t bother to cross the court and stand by his side with the rest of the team to nervously watch the medics assess the damage.

Oikawa, whose fingers he wished had brushed his wrist in gentle reassurance instead of Yamagata’s when everything had started to go dark around him.

Driven by a stubborn refusal to face the fact that he most likely worsened his own condition by abandoning all reason in favor of the misguided idea that keeping an old promise would someday make Oikawa see him in a different light, he keeps his burning eyes firmly shut until—

“Iwa-chan, he…”

The voice that reaches Ushijima’s ear from somewhere to his right, uncharacteristically small and laced with exhaustion, trails off into an exasperated sigh.

Ushijima’s entire body goes rigid. It’s like the air has been violently knocked out his chest, leaving him stunned and breathless.

“He hit his head on the ground,” Oikawa grits out, shakily, “ Twice. That stupid—“

On the other end of the line Iwaizumi doesn’t let Oikawa finish.

“Isn’t it about time you tell him?”

Then, after a meaningful pause, “You know, what you’ve been making everyone and their mom believe for what, four whole months now?”

It was an accident! ” Oikawa hisses back at his friend, a hint of defensiveness flaring up in his tone. 

Unlike most, Iwaizumi isn’t deterred that easily.

“Since when are your rampant fits of jealousy and paranoia an accident, Shittykawa?”

For once in his life, Oikawa doesn’t seem to have a smart comeback on the tip of his tongue. 

The silence that follows is deafening, makes the hairs on the back of Ushijima’s neck stand on end. 

He knows that he shouldn’t be eavesdropping on a conversation that most certainly isn’t meant for his ears, that he’s intruding on Oikawa’s privacy, but his hazy mind has been left reeling with confusion about Oikawa’s presence and the high probability that Oikawa will storm out on him in a burst of temper if Ushijima dares revealing himself now.

He doesn’t want Oikawa to leave.

So, despite himself, he strains his ears, anxious to pick up Iwaizumis’s next words, whose voice sounds audibly tense with the effort of remaining patient in the face of Oikawa teetering on the verge of a meltdown.

“You do realize that this is Ushijima, right? Don’t tell me you’re still expecting him to figure it out all by himself.”

What is there to figure out? Ushijima wonders, dizzily, brows drawing together in a puzzled frown, at the exact moment Iwaizumi chooses to yell into the microphone.

Goddamnit, Oikawa—

Before he can remember that he’s supposed to be asleep, before he can think to control his features, Ushijima’s eyes fly open wide, startled by Iwaizumi’s sudden outburst.

As if on cue, Oikawa’s head snaps up in alarm from where he had his face buried in his hands, restlessly tugging on silky tufts of a remarkably unstyled shock of chestnut hair, barely a moment ago. 

Of course, Ushijima scolds himself belatedly. Of course Oikawa must have been watching him. After all, there is hardly anything that escapes Oikawa’s piercing gaze, both on and off the court.

“I’m sorry Iwa-chan, I have to go. I’ll call you back tomorrow,” Oikawa cuts off the call sharply.

With Oikawa’s head lowered, Ushijima can’t make out his expression behind the unruly curtain of his bangs, save for the way his lips have pressed into a thin, tight line. 

Everything about Oikawa’s posture radiates unease, back ramrod straight, one hand clutching his phone like a lifeline, hard enough to turn his knuckles white, while the other is absentmindedly squeezing his bad knee through the black fabric of his skinny jeans.

“You’re awake…”

Oikawa doesn’t sound terribly thrilled about the prospect.

“Yes,” Ushijima responds dully, for the lack of anything else to say. 

In the silence that follows, he takes in Oikawa’s disheveled appearance, the paleness of his skin, the dark circles underneath carefully averted eyes. 

He looks like a ghost.

There’s a slight tremor in his hands as Oikawa reaches for the half-peeled apple sitting on Ushijima’s nightstand next to a large bouquet of brightly colored flowers —a gift from the team, Ushijima understands after a quick glance at the tiny card attached to it— and a smaller basket of potted daffodils.

He distantly wonders who would have known, much less cared to remember that daffodils are his favorite flowers since their blooming announces the beginning of spring. 

Reaching out to tenderly run a fingertip along the edge of the bright yellow blossom closest to him, he feels the corner of his mouth tilt upwards in a soft smile.

When Ushijima eventually turns his attention back to his visitor he is surprised to catch Oikawa staring, his gaze lacking its usual guard, yet none of its natural, analyzing intensity.

The shutters fall closed faster than Ushijima can hope to search Oikawa’s eyes for answers to an ever-growing number of questions that he doesn’t know how to ask.

“You left me,” Oikawa speaks, something distressed and raw lurking underneath the casualness with which he delivers the accusation.

He cuts the apple into six even slices.

“You left me to finish what we started by myself.”

“And?” Ushijima presses even though he already knows. Oikawa is a monster on the court in his own right. “Did you?”

Hazel eyes narrow in on him in feigned offense.

Refusing to let Oikawa’s games get under his skin, he just nods at the unspoken confirmation.

“You clearly wanted me to ask about your performance, yet you get upset with me when I do.”

This earns him a long, probing glance as Oikawa contemplates whether to grace his words with a response or pretend that he didn’t hear. Even when backed into a corner, no matter how gently, Oikawa Tooru does not deal well with admitting what Ushijima has come to understand is being perceived as defeat.

He doesn’t care to imagine how draining it must be to treat every interaction with another person as a competition, a battle of wits, to always have to have the last word at any cost.

“Who knows, maybe I changed my mind? I can’t be controlled.”

Ushijima finds it alarmingly easy to concede.

“I would not try to, even if I could.”

To his surprise, Oikawa quickly, unexpectedly looks away, rises from his plastic seat to push at the covers bunched up around Ushijima’s hips and squeezes himself into the newly created space on the edge of the hospital bed, one leg pulled underneath himself, the small of his back pressed into Ushijima’s thigh.

In an instant the atmosphere in the room shifts, sending a soft chill down Ushijima’s spine.

It feels charged, intimate.

Feels like the hazy, stolen moments immediately after their bodies peak, both of them breathing hotly against each other’s sweat-slicked skin before Oikawa impatiently kicks him in the shin, breaking him out of the fantasy, a sobering reminder that it’s just that, just sex.

It feels like everything Ushijima knows he can never have.

When Oikawa gingerly picks up an apple slice from the plate cradled in his lap and holds it out to him, he isn’t prepared to have his hand slapped away with a chiding click of Oikawa’s tongue, even less so for two of Oikawa’s long, slender fingers to softly poke the bridge of his nose, smoothing out his deepening frown.

Oikawa levels him with an amused expression, as if Ushijima had just proven himself to be particularly dense. It’s free from ridicule, eyes alight with well-meant teasing where they look up at him from underneath dark lashes.

The apple brushes against his bottom lip, insistently, pushing until Ushijima opens up in surrender, takes a wary bite, nips at the very tip of Oikawa’s thumb in mild exasperation. Oikawa absentmindedly spreads sticky drops of juice along the shape of his mouth.

Watching Oikawa blindly fish for a new slice, Ushijima is too distracted to notice Oikawa’s free hand grazing his own on top of the blanket. If the touch lingers for a few seconds too long, Ushijima isn’t aware of it, too busy keeping himself from sucking Oikawa’s pointer finger into his mouth. 

He can feel the phantom of those powerful hands wrapped around his throat as he takes Oikawa’s thrusts with his head thrown back, body spasming around the girth of Oikawa’s cock.

“Who knew you were such a klutz,” Oikawa says off-handedly, pretending he doesn’t see the light dusting of pink high on Ushijima’s cheekbones. “What am I going to do with you?”

Ushijima’s features shift from an expression of mild embarrassment to one of complete earnestness.

“There is no need to worry. What happened during the game today was hardly my mistake.”

He’s met with a set of raised eyebrows, unimpressed, and a pointed glance at the pulsing bump on his forehead, his braced ankle.

So serious, Ushiwaka. But you’ll have to do better than that to convince me”

 

 

The CT scan results come in about half an hour after Ushijima was roused from his sleep.

Oikawa is back in his chair, albeit positioned merely a couple inches away from the bed, playing with the fingers of Ushijima’s left hand. They’re larger than Oikawa’s, not quite as long, but just as rough.

Skin feeling cold against Ushijima’s, Oikawa’s thumb absently presses into the warmth of his palm. 

Ushijima wants to kiss him.

In the end it’s only his doctor’s well-timed arrival that denies him a chance at ruining whatever fragile moment of tenderness has unfolded between them.

He wonders if Oikawa’s knee has been acting up lately, if the stark white hospital walls and the shuffling of papers on a clipboard bring back unpleasant memories, if that is why Oikawa has gone back to nervously massaging his knee cap, searching eyes flickering across the doctor’s face for any sign of serious concern.

Introducing himself as Nakamura-san, the doctor gives Oikawa a quick, friendly once-over before turning back to Ushijima on the bed.

“Ushijima-san, would you prefer for your b—“

“Team mate,” Oikawa rushes to interrupt loudly, ears burning, then repeats much more gracefully: “His team mate. I apologize for cutting you short.”

There’s a moment of uncomfortable silence, a wordless exchange between the two that Ushijima isn’t quite able to follow. He watches Oikawa’s composure crack under the weight of the doctor’s kind, knowing gaze.

Ushijima has been on the receiving end of this exact type of look on several occasions ever since he first laid eyes on Oikawa Tooru sometime during his first year of middle school. If he didn’t know better, Ushijima would think it was one of pity.

“Would you like for him to stay?” Nakamura asks calmly, pretending Oikawa hadn’t just rudely spoken over him.

“Yes,” Ushijima responds firmly, a little too fast.

“Very well,” the doctor nods with the hint of a wistful smile. 

He launches into an explanation of second degree ankle sprains as well as their consequences, direct and to the point, which Ushijima appreciates. 

So does Oikawa, if his attentive expression is anything to go by.

“You have also been diagnosed with a mild concussion and may experience dizziness, fatigue and nausea over the next few days. Headaches or an unusual sensitivity to light and noise are further common symptoms.”

Out of the corner of his eye Ushijima sees Oikawa furiously typing away on his phone. 

He doesn’t know what exactly he expected but his disappointment stings deeply. Oikawa doesn’t even bother acting as if he hadn’t already lost interest.

Even though, rationally, Ushijima had known since the moment he went down on the court this morning that he most likely wouldn’t return to volleyball for the near future, Nakamura’s confirmation of the fact is hard to stomach, momentarily overshadowing the dull, ever-present ache in his chest that has Oikawa’s name written all over it.

“For an optimal recovery I recommend strict bed rest for the next 48 hours. Keep your foot elevated and ice your ankle for about 15 minutes three to five times a day…” Nakamura drones on. Not wanting to seem impolite, Ushijima tries to nod at the right times as his mind runs through the motions of his jump serve routine to keep himself grounded.

Instructions about range of motion and stretching exercises pass him by as the idea of being trapped in his small apartment, alone with his thoughts and the deafening silence, begins to truly sink in.

Next to him, Oikawa still seems engrossed in his conversation, is probably texting Iwaizumi about their plans for the night.

Tap, tap, tap.

Something about the monotonous sound grates on Ushijima’s nerves, makes his temper snap like a string pulled too tight.

“Would you please stop?” he asks sharply, fingers clenching into fists. Oikawa visibly flinches at the uncharacteristic edge to his voice. 

“I’m not forcing you to be here,” Ushijima can’t help adding, muttered lowly under his breath, but he takes some of the harshness out of his tone at the sight of Oikawa’s wide-eyed stare.

As if on cue, Nakamura pointedly clears his throat, preparing to deliver the finishing blow to Ushijima’s already battered composure.

“Somebody will have to monitor you - at least for the first couple days. A head injury like yours should not be taken lightly. Is there anyone you would like me to contact, Ushijima-san?”

Helplessness is not a feeling Ushijima Wakatoshi is particularly accustomed to. He looks down at his own hands, imagines the pads of Oikawa’s fingers tracing along  the lines in his palm to calm himself down.

It’s not that he doesn’t see the doctor’s point, whether he likes it or not. 

It’s that Ushijima had never been successful at catching people’s interest, nevermind holding it for an extended period of time. He isn’t like Oikawa, who always seems to know just the right thing to say, witty and charming. He doesn’t put a smile on other people’s faces. He doesn’t have an Iwa-chan at his beg and call, someone who would drop everything at a moment’s notice to take care of his injured childhood friend, half-heartedly feigning annoyance every step of the way.

Knowing this hurts when he gives himself too much time to dwell on it. Admitting it to a stranger, in front of the man that deems him adequate to fuck but not good enough to love, makes his stomach sink.

“I live on my own. I—“ I don’t have anyone that I can ask to make such a sacrifice.

At a loss for words Ushijima keeps his gaze fixed on a loose thread in the blanket that he has subconsciously started picking on.

Oikawa appears to finally have had enough. 

Even without looking up Ushijima knows that he has gotten out of his seat, scooping up the flowers from the nightstand after noisily stuffing Ushijima’s belongings into his large gym bag.

“Ushiwaka-chan will be in good hands,” he promises airily and Ushijima is certain that he must have misheard. 

The possibility of this being a cruel prank crosses his mind until a second later he remembers that Oikawa has been the closest thing to a true friend Ushijima has had since he moved to Tokyo for college well over three years ago.

“Our places aren’t too far apart and I have quite some… first-hand experience with nasty sports injuries, so I’ll make sure he doesn’t overexert himself. I wrote down everything you said to look out for.”

Oikawa’s last words make something vital tighten deep inside Ushijima’s chest. 

He guiltily glances at the upper half of Oikawa’s phone, accusingly peeking out of his right back pocket.

Apparently immensely satisfied with the sheepish look on his face, Oikawa gives him a smug smile

“This man is stubborn as a mule. One day he’s going to single-handedly turn my hair grey, then make a rude comment about it. So, when can I take him home?”





The doctor keeps Ushijima at the hospital until the early evening, a mere precaution, he explains in a serious voice that allows for no back talk.

Grudgingly, Ushijima accepts his fate, closes his eyes to think about who he should approach about their notes for the following two days of class.

The otherwise unoccupied hospital room feels oddly quiet without Oikawa lounging in the plastic chair by his bedside, scrolling through his instagram feed and occasionally turning the phone towards Ushijima to make fun of a rival player’s outdated haircut or test a new snapchat filter on Ushijima’s face.

He went to drop Ushijima’s things off at his apartment and throw a few ice packs in the mini fridge, maybe stop by the convenience store for some groceries on the way. Sparing them both the charade of asking how Oikawa is planning on letting himself inside of the building, Ushijima simply nodded his consent. They both know that Oikawa had never returned the spare key he’d “borrowed” halfway into their third year.

A quiet buzz under his blanket gives him a start.

He begins to dig for his phone that he doesn’t recall having used since he texted his mother about his injury, reassuring her that yes, he would be alright. 

It vibrates again, twice. 

When he eventually pulls it out from where it’s tucked underneath the top right corner of the bedsheet, he is greeted by a photo of Oikawa winking at him with all the sweet innocence Ushijima knows is a farce, the tip of his tongue sticking out between plush pink lips, complete with bunny ears, whiskers and a small white nose, as well as three text alerts on his lockscreen. In the background he recognizes a blurry version of himself propped up against his pillow, dozing obliviously. 

He must have left his phone unlocked.

Distantly, Ushijima is aware that he’s supposed to be upset with Oikawa for messing with his phone, would be if it was anyone else. Instead, he keeps the picture set as his lock screen — to see Oikawa’s reaction, he tells himself before opening the first message.

Looks like they’re out of that brand of hayashi rice ur so particular about. 

Attached is a picture of a blue box with an unfamiliar brand label printed at the top.

This okay?

It is not as… Ushijima hesitates, deletes the unfinished message and attempts to rephrase it. He doesn’t mean to offend Oikawa, who is, for reasons that are beyond him, going out of his way to make this unfortunate situation easier on Ushijima.

He can practically see Oikawa rolling his eyes at the small text bubble moving on his screen, indicating that Ushijima is struggling to form a response.

It has a different flavor, Ushijima eventually settles on.

Oikawa doesn’t reply, but comes to pick him up at 5:30 p.m, mercilessly teases him about the way he wobbles over to the elevator on a pair of crutches and helps him into the cab he must have called in advance. 

It’s hard to suppress the amused smile tugging at his lips throughout the long car ride when Oikawa not so subtly cranes his neck every time Ushijima checks his phone, holding it just so Oikawa can’t get a proper look at the screen. It becomes harder once he finally does allow Oikawa to catch a glimpse and finds himself scrutinized by searching brown eyes, their intensity making his skin prickle.

He’s been suspecting for a while now that Oikawa may have seen through him after all, down to what lies at the very core of his open admiration. 

If so, Oikawa doesn’t bring it up, just turns away with crossed arms and a pensive frown.

By the time they reach Ushijima’s apartment complex, the sky has clouded over and a light rain is gently drizzling down on them from above. Oikawa palpably shivers in his thin hoodie as they make their way across the sidewalk, then, significantly more slowly, up the stairs to the third floor, Ushijima leading the way with the reassurance of Oikawa’s steadying hand at the small of his back.

Once the door falls shut behind them, Oikawa immediately ushers him towards the bed with an unnecessary reminder to prop up his leg on a pillow. Ushijima’s gaze follows Oikawa behind the kitchen counter, where he bends over and out of sight to rummage through the freezer. 

Sitting on the counter top are two partly unloaded grocery bags next to a small stack of boxes that look suspiciously like the sold out brand of rice that Ushijima prefers.

“Tooru…” he sighs, trying and failing miserably to sound scolding, trailing off as he realizes that he doesn’t know what to say. 

Oikawa raises his head just enough to level him with a narrow-eyed stare.

“Wakatoshi.”

The ice pack Oikawa grabbed from the fridge sails through the air and hits Ushijima flat in the chest. 

Resignedly, he presses it against his swollen ankle, willing to humor Oikawa at least for a few minutes while contemplating how to go about taking a much needed shower. 

He feels sweaty and gross after spending the morning on the court and the better part of the day in the hospital, but his ankle hurts badly, the skin there having turned an unsightly shade of purple. It doesn’t help that he still feels a little lightheaded, yet he refuses to settle into bed like this.

When he reluctantly strips out of the shirt Oikawa had brought him to change into earlier that day, he feels the weight of a pair of sceptical eyes on him.

“You’re going to break your neck,” Oikawa chirps, watching Ushijima’s pants and socks drop onto the growing pile of shed clothes at the foot of the bed.

Ushijima huffs as he reaches for his crutches, heaves himself into a standing position with his left foot hovering several inches above the ground and carefully maneuvers his tired body through the bathroom door.

“I imagine you would be delighted,” he rumbles over the soft spray of lukewarm water.

Impatient to feel cleansed of today’s tribulations, he steps out of his underwear and climbs into the shower before it has properly heated up, awkwardly sitting down on the cold tile. He realizes too late that he can’t reach the shampoo bottle from down here, or anything else, really.

It’s under the endless stream of water pattering down on him, leaving his soaked hair sticking to his forehead, running into his eyes until he can barely blink, that the gravity of his situation hits him like a freight train and his throat closes up around a shallow, panicked breath.

He puts his face in his hands, presses the heels of his palms against his eyelids, hard. 

Years of being captain, being the ace, the player that others look to depend on has made him forget how to lean onto somebody else without feeling that he is nothing but a burden. Ushijima is used to getting by on his own, both in volleyball and outside of the sport.

Jaw set in a stubborn scowl, he readies himself to get up on his knees and reach for the body wash from the small metal basket in the wall. 

A strong hand on his shoulder holds him back just on time, the pressure gentle, yet unrelenting.

The shower door slides shut with a soft click and a few seconds later Oikawa slips into place behind him, chest flush against Ushijima’s broad back, soaped up fingers getting to work with the lack of hesitation that comes with months of mapping out each other’s bodies and the general nature of their silent arrangement. 

It’s hard to be embarrassed about their physical closeness or their nudity when Oikawa had smirked up at him around a mouthful of Ushijima’s cock the last time they’d gone for a shower together after a draining practice match.

“You’re an idiot, Ushibaka,” Oikawa eventually whispers against the back of his neck, continues to lather up Ushijima’s stomach and chest, “I could hear your jock brain working overtime from all the way out there.”

There’s a strange sincerity to Oikawa’s playful words, a sense of something close to protectiveness that tells him that Oikawa isn’t happy with the comment Ushijima made before disappearing into the bathroom, let alone his quiet refusal to accept help.

Ushijima allows himself to relax against Oikawa, who has moved on to shampooing his hair with a small sigh of disapproval at the sight of Ushijima’s offensively practical 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. Technically, he doesn’t need assistance washing his hair but he knows better than to mention it and it’s difficult to ignore how nice Oikawa’s fingers feel against his scalp. 

A pleased groan rumbles in his chest as Oikawa gets caught in a tangled strand and yanks Ushijima’s head back against the broad line of his shoulders in the process. Molten heat drips down the length of his spine from where Oikawa pulled, leaving a prominent flush in its wake.

Naturally, Ushijima expects Oikawa to tease him for being so easy for him, to rile him up until he goes soft and pliant under Oikawa’s calculated ministrations, waits for nimble hands to touch between his legs until he caves and crumbles into submission.

They don’t.

“This,” Oikawa says loftily, dropping the shampoo bottle into Ushijima’s lap, “is an atrocity.”

In Oikawa’s own backwards way, it almost sounds like an apology.

They wordlessly finish rinsing Ushijima’s hair and, despite some minor difficulties, somehow manage to get him out of the shower without further aggravating his throbbing ankle. Oikawa throws him a large white towel, a t-shirt and pajama pants, then disappears into the kitchen to prepare some tea.

A few hours prior, Ushijima thought he would spend the night staring up at the shadows dancing across his ceiling, the gentle, repetitive toss of a volleyball the only sound breaking the absolute quiet. He didn’t imagine Oikawa sitting across from him on the bed long past sunset, eyes closed, back rested against the opposite wall, foot rubbing up and down Ushijima’s right calf as he makes him listen to episode after episode of his favorite alien podcast.

His beauty seems otherworldly in the pale shimmer of the moonlight, all silvery skin and softened around the edges. Serene.

Mesmerized, Ushijima wishes that for once in his life he could understand what Oikawa is thinking.

 



“The plants—“

“— are watered. I took care of that last night before I left. Not that you’d know because you were sleeping like a rock,” Oikawa speaks dryly from over by the entryway while shrugging on his jacket in a hurry.

Barely twenty minutes have passed since Ushijima had been rudely awakened by a small brown paper bag being dropped on top of his chest. 

Groggily, he opened it to the sound of Oikawa clattering about in his kitchen and produced a large blueberry muffin — the type of meal he often finds himself criticizing Oikawa for in the vain hope that one day he may start taking proper care of himself.

Too bad you’re at my mercy now, the smug glint in Oikawa’s hazel eyes said, looking entirely too pleased with himself.

They had time for a quick breakfast before the start of Oikawa’s morning classes, a quiet affair, yet not uncomfortably so. Oikawa had made coffee and handed him the first ice pack of the day with a stern reminder to keep it on properly until the timer on his phone would go off.

That same imperious voice is currently ordering him to stay put unless getting up from where he’s sitting on the couch, left foot propped up on the coffee table, happens to be absolutely necessary.

“There’s a bento for you in the fridge. Don’t touch the milk bread, I’ll kill you. Text me if your head starts feeling weird while I’m away. If you try to push through it on your own and put yourself back in the hospital, I swear to God—“

“— you will kill me,” Ushijima finishes Oikawa’s speech solemnly, tone entirely too serious if the snort it earns him is anything to go by.

“I see that you’re catching on, Ushiwaka-chan,” Oikawa singsongs, already halfway out the door. “Very good, I’ll see you later.”

Not for the first time in the past twenty-four hours, Ushijima catches himself blinking slowly in disbelief, wondering if maybe he hit his head harder than he’d realized.

 

 

Five days and several gallons of ice later Ushijima can no longer ignore the fact that no amount of rest and care seems to be bringing down the swelling in his ankle. If anything, the pain becomes a little sharper every time he tries to do his exercises, dutifully following Oikawa’s careful instructions.

He clenches his teeth, feels his grip tighten around his crutches at the memory of last night’s misguided attempt at putting even a fraction of his weight on his left foot. Hissing and cursing under his breath, Oikawa caught his fall, the expression on his face grave, his mouth set in a tense line.

Something isn’t right, they both know as much. Oikawa, however, has been doing his worst to turn a blind eye to it as if his lack of acknowledgement will somehow make it any less real.

They’d briefly discussed going back to the hospital for an early check-up but eventually  decided to stick it out for the remaining two days until Ushijima’s scheduled appointment.

Waiting for the rest of his classmates to filter out of the room before him, Ushijima adjusts the collar of his shirt, trapped underneath the strap of his bag, and awkwardly smoothes down his hair. His lunch date — not a date per se, but it’s as close as he will get — is supposed to pick him up from his biology classroom in about two minutes.

He glances over at the door and sure enough he spots Oikawa, standing over by a window a small distance away from the crowd bustling along the hallway, phone cradled in his hand, fingers flying across the screen at a dizzying speed. He’s wearing a pair of washed out ripped jeans and an oversized red hoodie that seems to be swallowing him whole. Upon closer examination, it looks suspiciously like the one that went missing from Ushijima’s closet at the beginning of the week.

Oikawa, the color red suits you, he types out a quick text, looking back up to watch Oikawa’s reaction.

The response is almost immediate.

Doesn’t it? You know, red’s not for everyone, so I generously relieved the owner of his burden.

Their eyes meet across the hallway, Ushijima’s stare deadpan, which only makes Oikawa’s innocent smile grow wider in return.

You are shameless.

Ushijima pockets his phone and slowly makes his way through empty rows of chairs and tables, his face blank, his insides twisted into knots with hopeless longing. He imagines himself stepping into Oikawa’s space, Oikawa slipping his fingers between his own, Oikawa kissing him lazily in the locker room after a practice that Ushijima couldn’t attend. 

He thinks about Oikawa demanding to be fucked on his hands and knees because doing it face to face would make it feel intimate.

Lost in the abrupt but not unfamiliar downward spiral of his thoughts and the strange pull of Oikawa’s hazel eyes, Ushijima doesn’t pay proper attention to his surroundings as he exits the deserted classroom and nearly bumps into the smaller figure shyly stepping into his path.

“Ushijima-san?” a timid voice finally snaps him out of his trance.

The boy gazing up at him is handsome, face framed by short waves of caramel brown hair that shines prettily in the afternoon sunlight. There’s a soft blush of pink adorning high cheekbones when he lowers his almond eyes to look down at his hands in what seems like embarrassment.

“I’d like to speak with you if you don’t mind?”

Perplexed, Ushijima racks his brain for any clues on where he may have seen him before, if they share any classes, if they have spoken before.

Behind the boy’s back, Oikawa makes a show of pushing the sleeves of his stolen hoodie up to his elbows and repeatedly running his right hand through his mussed up hair while using his phone as a mirror, corded muscle rippling underneath smooth skin.

Ushijima feels his mouth running dry.

“My name is Yamashiro Akito. I’m a third year,” the boy introduces himself. To Ushijima’s credit he does mean to listen, if only out of politeness. “I  admire your strength and your passion for volleyball. I often come to see your games.”

His wary gaze drops to where Yamashiro’s hand is slipping into the zipper of his backback, pulling out an artfully embroidered omamori.

“I was there when you hurt your ankle ankle at the match last weekend. Please accept this charm for good health and a swift recovery.”

Ushijima doesn’t miss the small, neatly folded piece of paper Yamashiro nervously holds out to him with the gift. Then, several things happen at once, too fast for him to process.

Another guy that’s been lingering by a classroom a few doors down the hall darts over to where they’re standing, grabbing Yamashiro’s wrist and tugging harshly, all the while sending panicked glances towards Oikawa, who’s stalking over into their direction with his lips forced up into a murderous smile.

Are you out of your mind, confessing to him in front of his—“ Yamashiro’s friend whispers under his breath, looks up just in time to see Oikawa’s arm come up around Ushijima’s waist to casually rest one hand on his hip.

Completely bewildered by the surreality of the situation, Ushijima leans into the touch. Oikawa’s body language almost immediately relaxes.

Meanwhile, Yamashiro has begun to argue whatever point his friend tried to make.

“How are you so sure that that’s even true ?”

“Excuse us, gentlemen,” Oikawa interrupts impatiently, distaste lurking underneath layers of feigned cheerfulness. “It’s been a pleasure but Ushiwaka-chan’s got places to be. We’re running late for his physical therapy!”

He allows Oikawa to gently guide him towards the elevators, slipping the omamori he practically clawed out of Yamashiro’s hands inside Ushijima’s back pocket.

“I guess this can’t hurt,” he sighs, tone dripping with disdain as he lets the piece of paper, presumably containing Yamashiro’s phone number, disappear in a trashcan they pass on the way. 

Ushijima doesn’t attempt to stop him.

“Oikawa…” he rumbles after the elevator doors close behind them. “The appointment is next week. We have not completed the check-up yet and considering how things have been developing I am unsure if they will give me the go for physical therapy so soon after all.”

Next to him Oikawa rolls his eyes in disbelief.

“You don’t say.”

Back at Ushijima’s apartment, Oikawa doesn’t waste any time, just wordlessly drops to his knees and blows him with a vengeance until Ushijima’s trembling body collapses back into the disarray of scattered couch cushions beneath him with a helpless groan. 

By the time Oikawa finally pulls off Ushijima’s oversensitive length with one last slow stroke of his tongue, continues sucking his marks into the soft skin of his inner thighs, Ushijima can barely speak.

There’s a sick sense of relief pumping through his veins when Oikawa stares up at him, eyes glassy and distant, sticky lips slightly parted, right hand working between his own legs to the sight of Ushijima spread out before him. 

Oikawa hadn’t wanted him since then, since he lost weeks, if not months, on the court and by extension what little appeal he may have held to Oikawa.

His touch, Ushijima realizes as he draws gulps of air into his burning lungs, is like a drug that at some point along the way he had forgotten how to breathe without.

 

 

It’s on Friday morning, an hour before they’re supposed to get on their way to the hospital, that Oikawa strides into Ushijima’s tiny living room like he owns the place to find him in a heap on the ground near the window, expression defeated as he picks up another shard of shattered porcelain and drops it onto the pile in front of him with a quiet clink .

In a way, Ushijima can’t help thinking, the picture he must make is ironically fitting.

He watches Oikawa slam his iced vanilla latte on the counter, rush to the freezer and return with an ice pack, to examine Ushijima’s bruised-up ankle. Deep purple has faded into unsightly shades of yellow and green, the swelling seeming nearly unchanged. If there has been even a sliver of improvement over the past week, Ushijima just made sure to reverse it.

“I tried to move the daffodils into the sunlight,” he explains, one corner of his mouth pulling up into a sad half-smile.

Oikawa’s fingers lightly graze over his ankle, press the ice on with a tenderness Ushijima didn’t expect Oikawa could muster for him.

“I can see that.”

A minute passes between them in silence. It feels like an eternity.

“I brought you those, you know?” Oikawa gives a quick nod towards the battered flowers scattered across the floor.

Ushijima had suspected as much.

“I admit that I did not expect you to remember how much I enjoy this particular type of plant,” he responds earnestly.

One look at Oikawa’s closed-off expression tells him that it was the wrong thing to say. 

Hesitantly, Ushijima adds, “Daffodils are bulbs. Given enough time and the proper care, they will bloom again.”

Carefully studying Oikawa’s face for a sign that he may be boring him again, he only finds hidden traces of the single-minded determination Oikawa usually reserves for volleyball.

“Then I better pick up your mess, don’t I?”

Ushijima can’t tell if they’re talking about flowers anymore.

 

 

Leaves are rustling softly in the mild spring breeze, birds chirping in the branches outside the open window of Nakamura’s office when Ushijima learns that his left ankle will need surgery if he wants to ever stand on a court again.

It’s strange how calm he feels, numb almost, tuning out the doctor’s kind voice as he watches the trees gently swaying in the wind. 

Oikawa, on the other hand, shoots up and out of his seat, his chair nearly tipping over backwards with the force of it, hands balled into fists at his sides.

“Will he be able to play again?” he demands hotly.

Seemingly unphased by Oikawa’s loss of temper, Nakamura straightens out the thin stack of papers on his desk, then turns to consider him with a long glance that has Oikawa squirming with discomfort.

“Most likely, Oikawa-san.”

Oikawa doesn’t look at him when Ushijima accepts the documents that require him to sign his consent to the impending procedure and excuses himself from the room with a face so pale, Ushijima worries that he’s going to be sick. 

(They did have that convenience store sushi for lunch that Ushijima has never been particularly fond of. He thought the salmon tasted a little off.)

Oikawa doesn’t look at him after emerging from the bathroom fifteen minutes later, inquiring about the date and time of the surgery with the same casual tone he’d use to ask about the weather, on the quiet train ride home or as he informs Ushijima that tonight he won’t be staying over to listen to their podcast, cold toes wiggled between Ushijima’s warm feet underneath the blanket.

Oikawa doesn’t look at him at all the following morning, eyes red-rimmed and unfocussed, fingers twitching towards Ushijima’s outside of the operating room when they finally take him away.

 

 

One and a half months pass by in a blur of pain, pills and hours of straining physical therapy that leave Ushijima with a bone-deep exhaustion but soon show first signs of success, his ankle visibly regaining some of its old strength and flexibility.

Spending what little free time he has catching up with various missed classes and unfinished assignments doesn’t fill the void caused by Oikawa’s absence, though in a way the distraction makes the loneliness a little more bearable.

They’ve been talking here and there, short conversations that peter out faster than Ushijima can think of something to say, anything that may hold Oikawa’s attention.

Oikawa still checks on him every so often, asks him if he’s keeping up with his appointments, if he’s not over exerting himself, all the while carefully keeping Ushijima at an arm’s length. 

Sometimes Oikawa will text him at odd hours of the night, posing curiously straightforward questions.

The guy you walked with today after class - who was that?

Are you with somebody right now?  

Ushijima never responds, assuming that Oikawa must be out with his friends, probably too drunk to realize what he’s saying, or to whom.

In retrospect, with the distance starting to grow oppressive between them, the week they spent together in the wake of his accident seems like nothing but a fever dream.

This is why Ushijima is barely able to hide his surprise when, after a day spent in the library, followed by several sessions of advanced range of motion exercises, he walks out of the shower, covered in nothing but a damp towel wrapped around his hips, to find Oikawa spread out across his couch, flipping through the most recent issue of Volleyball Weekly as if he hadn’t been giving Ushijima the cold shoulder for the past six weeks.

Dark, unreadable eyes flicker up to his own and Ushijima watches dumbfoundedly as Oikawa pops a steaming-hot gyoza into his mouth, then picks up another from the large take-out box on the coffee table and holds it out to him invitingly.

“Coach says at this rate you’ll be permitted to join practice again in about a month?” Oikawa asks conversationally, yet even Ushijima can sense the anxiety and need for affirmation underlying the words.

“I would have messaged you about it, had I known that you still cared.”

“That I still—“ Oikawa repeats bitterly before cutting himself off mid-sentence. It’s quite the strange sight, considering that Oikawa has never been one to go back on what he said, no matter how unfair or insensitive it might have been.

After a minute of contemplation, Ushijima crosses the room to sit on the couch next to where Oikawa is sprawled on his stomach, head propped up on his elbows. He helps himself to some rice and vegetables with the pair of chopsticks he plucked out of Oikawa’s fingers. 

Thirty minutes into their silent dinner, Ushijima decides to comment on the fact that Oikawa has not once turned the page of the article he’s been pretending to be deeply immersed in.

“You have been unusually quiet,” Ushijima continues to prod carefully. He isn’t buying Oikawa’s excuses and the longer the night stretches, the less he believes that Oikawa has come here without a purpose.

“Is that so?” Oikawa responds without looking up from his magazine, tone flat, disinterested.

“You are unhappy with me.”

It’s not a question. 

The tension in Oikawa’s shoulders is enough of an answer.

”The past nine weeks must have been difficult for you,” Ushijima goes on bravely, voice laden with the sincere gratitude he feels for Oikawa’s sacrifices, regardless of the chasm that has opened up between them since. “You did not owe me anything but were there for me nonetheless. I apologize for burdening y—“

“Shut up.”

All of a sudden, Oikawa’s voice is searing, the words more of a threat than a request. He abruptly pulls himself into an upright position, jaw set in a tight line. It’s impossible to tell if Oikawa wants to run or throw a punch.

Without giving himself time to think better of it, Ushijima reaches out to rest his hand on Oikawa’s thigh in a pacifying gesture, thumb rubbing soothing circles into the smooth skin there, slowly testing the waters. 

Oikawa doesn’t brush him away, so he leans in a little closer, gently cups Oikawa through the thin fabric of his flimsy gym shorts, kisses his neck with quiet reverence because he never, never learns, no matter how many times he’ll get burned. 

Because he is in love with Oikawa Tooru.

“I can help you relax...“ he offers, a low whisper against the shell of Oikawa’s ear, willing to do whatever Oikawa asks of him.

Oikawa, who has started shaking uncontrollably under his touch, isn’t having any of it.

“I said shut up, you thick-headed bastard,” he snaps, teeth bared in an outburst of barely concealed frustration. There is no bite to the words, no venom in those wide, darkening eyes.

Cautiously, as to avoid setting Oikawa off any further, he brushes the pad of his fingertip along Oikawa’s flushed cheek, admires the way angry teardrops, caught in impossibly long lashes, are glittering prettily in the strip of moonlight filtering through a gap in the blinds across the room.

“I’m not crying,” Oikawa grits out weakly through his teeth.

There’s a tremble to his voice, accompanied by a swallowed hiccup.

“Of course,” Ushijima says softly. He averts his eyes, obeying Oikawa’s unspoken demand.

Minutes tick by in silence, only interrupted by the occasional soft sniffle or the sound of Ushijima’s nails lightly scraping across Oikawa’s scalp. Oikawa’s fingers, rough from hours and hours of rigorous practice, loosely wrap around Ushijima’s wrist as their lips meet in a tentative kiss. 

Eventually, Ushijima notices like in a trance, those fingers begin to wander, stroking up and down his bare stomach, the wide expanse of his chest, mapping out each familiar line of defined muscle. His own free hand has long disappeared underneath the waistband of Oikawa’s shorts to tug them down lower and grab a palm full of Oikawa’s ass.

He can’t help but let out a rather pathetic groan when Oikawa turns his head to break away without prior warning, flushed and breathless and so beautiful it makes Ushijima’s heart flutter against his ribs like a caged bird. Mindlessly, he tries to reach for Oikawa’s face, to pull him back in while Oikawa hastily crawls into his lap, nearly tripping over himself in his hurry to cup Ushijima’s cheeks and lick back into his mouth.

Their kisses are sloppy and desperate, Oikawa’s hips bucking wildly in Ushijima’s bruising grip. They haven’t torn into each other like this in weeks, not since the day before Ushijima had injured his ankle, Oikawa’s teeth sunk painfully into the crook of Ushijima’s neck, hazy eyes rolling into the back of his head, choking on the screams Ushijima fucked out of him that morning, deep and slow.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t long for it, didn’t crave the intimacy of Oikawa’s heated skin slipping on his own, Oikawa’s clever tongue in his mouth, Oikawa’s hands grabbing fistfuls of his hair, firmly putting him in his place, which, Ushijima has learned early on, is on his knees, face buried between strong, milky thighs.

On top of him Oikawa impatiently rips at the offending towel that has come loose around Ushijima’s waist. It unceremoniously drops to the floor at the same moment Ushijima manages to strip Oikawa out of his pants, his right hand pushing up his t-shirt to suck a pink, hardened nipple into his mouth, his left toying with Oikawa’s balls, dripping wet cock slipping up the crack of Oikawa’s ass.

The air in the small room is heavy with sex and the sound of broken gasps, mixed with Ushijima’s quiet hisses whenever Oikawa yanks at his hair or bites at his swollen lips, his throat, his shoulders, anywhere that he can reach. 

Soon each and every one of Ushijima’s senses has become clouded with a blind, all-consuming hunger. 

He needs to be inside Oikawa, feel Oikawa’s lean body convulse around the size of his cock, struggling to accommodate him even after Ushijima has fingered him open slick and wide. He needs to hear his keens and whines as he pleasures Oikawa, has Oikawa’s knees scraping on the rough fabric of the couch, his rhythm slow, deliberate, worshipping.

Oikawa, looking equally feverish, breathily moans into their open-mouthed kisses when the blunt head of Ushijima’s cock brushes up against his hole.

Before Ushijima knows it, Oikawa has twisted himself around in his arms, back pressed flush against his front, head thrown back against his shoulder, dazed, half-lidded gaze trustingly boring into Ushijima’s eyes. There’s something else coiling right beneath the surface, pained and raw, that Ushijima can’t quite put a finger on.

“Spread my legs,” Oikawa whispers then, so softly Ushijima nearly misses it,  “Make me take it.”

The quiet surrender in Oikawa’s voice goes straight to the thin hairs at the back of Ushijima’s neck, rolls down the curve of his spine like droplets of icy-cold water.

Sex, Ushijima has come to understand, just like anything else in their rather unconventional friendship, happens exclusively on Oikawa’s whim, at Oikawa’s terms, and Oikawa’s terms alone.

Oikawa doesn’t beg, least of all to be dominated, yet the plea in his eyes is unmistakable.

Watching his expression closely, Ushijima pushes Oikawa’s thighs wide, hooks one arm under Oikawa’s good knee and experimentally pulls it to the side. His gaze follows Oikawa’s stretched out hand that frantically rummages through the side pocket of his gym bag for a small bottle of lube.

They share a long, dizzyingly tender kiss as Oikawa’s body easily opens up for him, warm and soft and pliant, melting back into Ushijima’s strong chest. He holds him tightly, works his large fingers in and out of his greedy hole at a languid pace that he knows Oikawa must find maddening.

As if on cue, Oikawa buries his nose in the crook of Ushijima’s neck with a needy whine, hips rocking and twitching uselessly in his vulnerable state.

Not for the first time, Ushijima is possessed by the overwhelming desire to debauch him, properly ruin him for any other man the same way Oikawa has long since ruined him. He bites his bottom lip in shame, so hard he tastes blood, the tips of three fingers pressed firmly into Oikawa’s prostate until a string of violent sobs rips from Oikawa’s throat.

Catching sight of his shaky hand inching closer towards his own neglected length, lying red and swollen against Oikawa’s stomach, Ushijima warns him with a low growl, a sharp nip at Oikawa’s swollen bottom lip.

Oikawa whimpers softly, falling apart at the seams.

“You are going to come on my cock,” Ushijima promises huskily between an onslaught of stolen kisses. 

When he lifts Oikawa up by the backs of his knees, forces his legs apart as wide as they’ll go and exposes his glistening pink hole, loose and ready for the taking, Oikawa’s pupils dilate in restless anticipation.

Somewhere in the far back of his mind Ushijima knows that he’s staring, lips parted in awe as he sinks into Oikawa’s wet, smoldering heat and Oikawa’s mouth flies open in a silent scream, head lolling back against Ushijima’s shoulder. Hazel eyes slowly flutter shut at the sensation of Ushijima’s fingers toying with his rim stretching obscenely around the thick base of Ushijima’s cock.

Ushijima kisses him then, nothing like the frenzied chaos of tongues and teeth they shared before, but incriminatingly chaste and sweet.

They fall into an idle rhythm, Ushijima’s cock working Oikawa’s hole in slow, well-aimed thrusts that strike deeply. Too deeply, Ushijima realizes at the sight of Oikawa’s bitten lips and hollow gaze, too intimately.

He runs his tongue along the elegant curve of Oikawa’s neck, suckles on the pale, tender skin until his marks are blooming all over the place in vibrant shades of purple and red, until he has Oikawa writhing and moaning in his arms every time the head of his cock nearly pops out of his entrance just to thoroughly impale him once more, over and over and over.

Harder,” Oikawa finally snaps, voice low and rough, “I want it to hurt, I want—

“Oikawa…” Ushijima sighs, hoping against hope that Oikawa will just drop it.

He presses up against the supple globes of Oikawa’s ass and buries himself to the hilt, finds that perfect angle, begins to grind away at Oikawa’s prostate with quick, shallow bucks of his hips.

“Aren’t you angry?” Oikawa taunts desperately and the last remnants of his armor chip away, worn down by equal parts of frustration and blazing pleasure that Ushijima can tell Oikawa doesn’t want to feel while being taken apart with such gentleness.

“Why aren’t you ever angry with me? I— oh my God ahh —“

Ushijima feels the confession painfully clawing its way out of his chest, bubbling up his throat without his permission.

It’s too late.

He knows it is.

“I am,” he distantly hears himself speak, humiliated by the magnitude of his devotion in the face of Oikawa’s inevitable indifference. “It does not change how I feel about you.”

The absolute silence that follows his words is deafening.

“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Oikawa manages to croak out after an agonizing second or two and Ushijima feels something deep inside of him wither and die.

Not one of the scenarios in which he had imagined himself confessing to Oikawa has prepared him for Oikawa coming up with something more hurtful than an immediate rejection, delivered with a bout of exasperated laughter.

Somehow, the denial of his feelings, harbored over the stretch of a decade filled with longing for as much as Oikawa’s hard-earned friendship, stings deeper, leaves him stunned, vision blurring until he can barely see.

Wordlessly, he tightens his grip on Oikawa’s left knee and wraps one trembling hand around Oikawa’s cock, pulling and stroking until it swells back to full hardness under his ministrations. 

He needs this to end, fast. 

He needs space to try and put himself back together.

“I love you,” Ushijima says bluntly, stubbornly, nosing along Oikawa’s damp hairline, the nape of his neck, taking in his scent and committing it to memory, and after all these years it feels strangely liberating.

He groans as he rams up into Oikawa, hard enough to make Oikawa feel him in his step for the next couple of days, carefully enough not to do him harm. 

It’s Oikawa who comes first, wet and noisy, whimpering at the sensation of Ushijima’s continued frantic thrusts, fucking him through it, the squelch of Ushijima’s cock dragging inside of him as he pumps him full of his seed.

Their bodies slump back against the couch, sore and spent, a mess of tangled limbs, and for a few delirious minutes they just lie there, slowly coming back to their senses.

Unlike any of the countless other times they’ve had sex, it’s Ushijima who stirs first. 

His softening cock slips out of Oikawa, followed by a hot trail of come drizzling down Oikawa’s inner thighs and a muffled hiss, strong fingers finding Ushijima’s larger ones to guide them, tempt them to dip back into that tight, insatiable heat.

“Would you still love me…” Oikawa eventually says into the eerie quiet with an empty, rueful smile on his lips, eyes downcast as if he already knows the answer to his unfinished question, “if I told you that I wished for this to happen? For you to get hurt?” 

Ushijima’s entire body goes rigid, fingers freezing mid-caress.

“Back during our third year in highschool… I wished that you’d never be able to set a foot on a court again. This—” Oikawa chokes as he blindly gestures into the general direction of Ushijma’s healing ankle, blinking through a fresh wave of tears. “This is my fault. I’m sorry, Wakatoshi, I’m so sorry.”

Back in highschool, Oikawa’s words echo in his head.

He lets out the breath he didn’t know he’s been holding, fighting down the insane urge to laugh at the memory of Oikawa’s petty tantrums, at Ushijima’s own lack of tact and poor choices of words — flaws that he is still working on today, though he likes to think that he’s bettered himself at least by a little. 

Back in highschool Oikawa had said worse.

It may seem trivial to Ushijima now, considering that despite everything they’ve come quite a long way since their conflict-ridden teenage years. He has never been the type to hold childish grudges anyway, instead preferring to keep his focus on the present. However, it does put a few things into perspective the more he mulls the thought over, putting the pieces together in his mind.

He remembers Oikawa frozen to the spot at the other end of the court after his fall, too stricken with shock and guilt to approach, remembers waking up at the hospital to the sight of Oikawa looking like death warmed over, Oikawa holding his hand and feeding him apples by his bedside, Oikawa urgently typing the doctor’s instructions out on his phone. There’s images of Oikawa gently rinsing his hair, watering his plants, buying him food and yelling at him for being reckless. 

Suddenly, everything makes sense, his stubborn denial of the fact that Ushijima’s condition worsened, the way Oikawa hadn’t been able to face him since they learned that Ushijima would need surgery if he wanted a chance at playing volleyball again, his return at the news that Ushijima was recovering, the tears.

“It was a freak accident,” Ushijima murmurs calmly against the top of Oikawa’s head, “Blaming yourself for what happened is irrational.”

Oikawa lets out another stifled sob, shuddering all over.

“As for your question... I assume we can agree that we were both foolish then, if in different ways. I am not concerned about what you may have thought or said about me four years in the past. My answer depends on whatever it is that you are wishing for now.”

His words seem to take Oikawa by surprise. 

He notices Oikawa’s hands relax their nervous grasp on his own, if only by a little, and takes the opportunity to gently nudge Oikawa off of him, giving him time to collect his thoughts while Ushijima’s picking up a clean, wet towel from the bathroom and two bottles of cold water from the fridge.

Back on the couch he finds Oikawa with his knees drawn up to his chest, arms wrapped around himself tightly — a protective stance, Ushijima recognizes.

Oikawa appears determined to look just about anywhere but at his face.

“I want you to spike my tosses,” he begins, sounding confident in his response, yet hesitant to speak his thoughts out loud rather than simply gathering them in the safety of his own mind. 

“I’ve been wanting you to for a long time. Mind you, I haven’t been able to admit it, even to myself. I’m still not ready. I don’t know that I’ll ever be.”

A dangerous seed of hope buds somewhere deep inside Ushijima’s heart, treacherous and vulnerable.

He stomps it down before it can take root, just for Oikawa to dig it right back up, make it blossom until its branches push their way past the confines of his ribs, unchecked.

“I want you to myself. That guy that walked you home the other night… I wanted to push him down the stairs. Iwa-chan called me petty and a coward. I guess that’s true.”

Oikawa pauses, finally meeting Ushijima’s wide eyes with a self-deprecating glint to his stare, challenging Ushijima to scoot away from him, appalled.

He doesn’t.

“I’ve been telling people that you’re my boyfriend for the past half year or so. I wanted it to be true, but couldn’t admit that to myself either. There’s something wrong with me, Wakatoshi.”

His boyfriend, Ushijima’s mind repeats dumbly.

The corners of Oikawa mouth twitch up into a mirthless smile, more of a grimace than anything else, his tone full of false airiness. He looks small, stripped of his mask and false bravado.

“You’re wasting your time.”

Carefully, Ushijima pries Oikawa’s fingers away from where his nails are biting into his upper arms, one by one until Oikawa reluctantly allows him to weave them through his own.

“Tooru, look at me,” he says sternly, leaning forward to place a lingering kiss on his forehead the way he’s been wanting to before important matches or when dropping Oikawa off at his classroom door, at his apartment after dinner.

“You care. You are afraid to tell me directly, even now, but your actions speak for themselves. You took care of me when no one else did, you brought me flowers,” Ushijima lists, unwaveringly holding Oikawa’s skeptical gaze, “You listen closely even though you want me to believe that you do not. You do not want me to hurt — even then, I doubt that you truly meant it.”

To Ushijima’s immense relief Oikawa’s frown slowly starts morphing into an all too familiar pout, unparalleled in its petulance.

He has never been so glad to see it.

“I hate you,” Oikawa drawls with a halfhearted eye roll, his feigned annoyance sounding suspiciously like affection. It makes Ushijima’s heart soar, makes his mind feel woozy and his body oddly weightless. “Especially when you’re right.”

I know, Ushijima thinks with a small huff and the rare hint of a smile softening his features. 

“Get over it then,” is what he says instead. It earns him a shove in the chest that sends him tumbling backwards on the couch, hitting the cushions a mere heartbeat before Oikawa is on top of him to crash his lips into Ushijima’s in a bruising kiss.

Bliss trickles through his veins, slow and sweet like warm honey. His skin glows underneath Oikawa’s touch, spine curving as slender fingers explore his back and the plush swell of Oikawa’s ass wantonly rocks down onto his middle.

Ushijima’s hands find their way back between Oikawa’s soaked thighs, pushing inside of him but stopping at the first knuckle, lazily toying with his sensitive rim.

Wakatoshi… again,” Oikawa keens into his mouth between pleading kisses and the occasional demanding nip of teeth, “Fuck me again, fuck me —“

Something feels different about Oikawa. About the way his hands run freely, take what’s theirs without pretending that they don't yearn for it. It’s as if all of his inhibitions have been stripped off of him with the suffocating weight of a hundred masks, an old, careful guard that is finally beginning to lower.

When Oikawa slowly sinks himself back down on the length of Ushijima’s cock, Ushijima meets him halfway, grabs him by the hips and thrusts up so deeply, it knocks the air out of Oikawa’s lungs, one of Oikawa’s hands instinctively flying up to his stomach.

Tooru,” he whispers with a mix of arousal and sincere, unconcealed adoration in his eyes and Oikawa, ever-observant, pounces on it like a cat would on its prey, a knowing smirk spreading across his pretty face as he places Ushijima’s palm where his own rested merely seconds ago, firmly holds it in place.

“You feel so big …”

Oikawa drags their tangled fingers up higher with a soft moan, eyes half-closed, fixated on a spot somewhere below his navel.

His gaze is stunningly serious when it snaps back up to find Ushijima staring right back at him, haunting with no trace of its former playfulness.

“Don’t look at anybody else like that,” Oikawa says, dangerously, a half-whisper that makes Ushijima grow impossibly harder inside of him. “Don’t look at anybody else at all.”

Ushijima regards him with an indulgent smile.

“How could I,” he vows earnestly, “when you are all that I can see.”

Oikawa whines in embarrassment, something that sounds an awful lot like ‘Oh my God, I can’t stand you’ and swiftly ducks his head but Ushijima doesn’t miss his helpless grin or the soft flush of pink dusting his cheeks. 

It remains there for the rest of the night and so does Oikawa, nestled into Ushijima’s chest, warm and sated.

 

 

“Say it,” Oikawa demands hotly, eyes ablaze with a familiar urgency that hasn’t been directed at Ushijima in months, every muscle in Oikawa’s body pulled taut with excitement and an insatiable hunger for victory.

He is beautiful, the way he has Ushijima up against his locker, pinning him into place with one powerful thigh and a fist loosely bunched around the collar of his jersey

Ushijima simply stares.

There’s the sudden creak of a door opening to their right as one of their underclassmen sticks his head into the otherwise deserted locker room, eyes searching.

“Oikawa-kun? Ushijima-kun? The match is about to— Oh… my God, nevermind!“

The boy visibly jumps at the sight of them. Ushijima can see the burning tips of his ears peeking through his hair when he slowly takes a step back into the hallway with his head bowed in a silent apology.

“Wakatoshi…” Oikawa hisses as if he hadn’t even noticed the awkward interruption, shaking him a little, voice rough and impatient. Taped fingers lightly caress along his jawline.

With some significant difficulty, Ushijima finally forces himself out of his stupor.

“I’ll be there,” he rumbles, tilting his head to lean into the gentle touch.

This isn’t just about volleyball, not anymore.

 

 

During his first match back on the court, Ushijima is on fire.

He glances up from his burning palm after a particularly brutal spike that left the wall of enemy blockers reeling with terror on the other side of the net and feels it in the prickle under his skin before he sees it.

Oikawa looks at him like he wants to devour him alive.