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Miya Atsumu has never loved anything more than volleyball. Well, maybe not never; when he was six years old, if you asked him what his favorite thing in the entire universe was, he would definitely tell you that it was sour candy. But then at the age of seven, their parents forcefully put him and Osamu in a children’s volleyball club just to tire them out so they won’t make the house collapse everyday by bouncing around, breaking stuff. And Atsumu has been in love with the sport and nothing else ever since. 

 

***

 

Atsumu has never liked change much. It’s too much of an effort to adjust to something new, to shape his life around it. Not having his twin by his side on the court everyday was a huge change, a change that he saw coming and hated, but had no choice but to adapt. Leaving his Inarizaki teammates behind and maybe facing them as opponents was a change that was hard to accept. Joining the MSBY Jackals and adjusting his life around new people was hard too. But Atsumu was willing to adjust to all changes if it was for volleyball. 

 

Watching Kageyama Tobio play for Japan had been hard, because it felt like a constant slap to his face- you lost to Tobio-kun, you lost to Tobio-kun, you lost, you lost, you lost. But Atsumu would be lying if he said that he wasn’t enjoying where he was at right now. He’s playing the sport that he loves, he is a First Division setter, his teammates are great and tolerate his annoying personality, his twin is still an asshat and Atsumu misses having Osamu by his side to hit his tosses (he will never admit that to Samu’s face), but Bokuto and Hinata are great spikers too. Atsumu slowly becomes accustomed to this new team, new friends, new routine and new life. What had been a huge, life-turning change a few months ago, was now a normality.  

 

And then, one day, Coach Foster forces him to go to the try-outs of new recruits for the team. Atsumu agrees after lots of whining and complaining. It’s not like there aren’t any other setters, why can’t the coach send them instead of him? Who wants to waste an entire morning meeting new people who he may not even play with in the future, when he has serves to practise? Atsumu goes to the try-outs that day in a bad mood, which means he's gonna be super mean to his potential-teammates. But that's fair, because they should know what they're signing up for. 

 

But Atsumu completely forgets about his evil thoughts of becoming the God of Assholery when he spots a familiar mop of raven curls framing a pale face wearing a mask. 

He raises his eyebrows dramatically at Sakusa. 

“Sakusa Kiyoomi, as I live n’ breathe!” he mocks him.

"I thought ya disappeared  from the world after high school, Sak-kun.” 

Sakusa’s dark eyes meet his coffee brown ones, and they’re blank as usual, tinged with slightest annoyance. 

“Miya,” he says with a nod, “My name is Sakusa.” 

Atsumu grins obnoxiously. “So warm n’ expressive as always, eh, Omi-Omi?” 

Sakusa’s delicate brows furrow in real annoyance now. 

“Don’t call me Omi-Omi. That’s not my name.” 

“Alright Omi-kun, if ya insist.” 

Atsumu hears Sakusa make an annoyed ‘tch’ sound with his tongue and suddenly, the tryouts seem so much more fun now that he’s found someone to annoy. The entire time, Atsumu doesn’t stop calling him Sakkun, Omi-kun or Sakusa’s least favorite- Omi-Omi. Sakusa glares at him every time he uses these stupid nicknames, but hits all his tosses nonetheless, and the spikes are as amazing as they were back in high school, if not better. He almost expected Sakusa not to join the team as it meant putting up with Atsumu for a long, long time; but apparently, Atsumu is over-estimating his powers of Assholery, because Sakusa signs the contract and officially becomes Atsumu's teammate. 

 

From that day on, Atsumu has a newfound hobby- annoying the hell out of Sakusa Kiyoomi. Atsumu has designed a point system to reward himself based on Sakusa’s level of annoyance.

Nicknames earn him 3 points at first, because Sakusa shoots daggers at him every time Atsumu calls him Omi-Omi or Omi-kun. But then Sakusa probably gets used to it, because after a while, he stops giving Atsumu the pleasure of getting a reaction out of Sakusa. Now, he just ignores Atsumu's ranting unless it's something important, like, volleyball related stuff. 

By asking Sakusa to high five him after he scores a point while playing, Atsumu earns 5 points. He has no intention of actually touching Sakusa, he knows and respects Sakusa's boundaries, (he’s an asshole, but a decent one) but he does enjoy the way Sakusa steps back from him with an annoyed huff and furrows those delicately arched eyebrows, the tiny moles peeking out from the slightly damp curls. 

 

But one day, Atsumu hits the jackpot. He discovers that the best way to get a reaction out of Sakusa is to flirt with him. It happens something like this- 

 

They've just finished practice, and everyone is stretching. Hinata and Bokuto are talking excitedly about their plays with weird noises like gwah! faboom! baban ! which no one on the team understands, but they're used to it anyway. 

 

For the supreme and God-given purpose of being the most annoying human being in Sakusa Kiyoomi's life, Atsumu is sitting beside him with their legs stretched out in front of them as both of them grip their toes. Sakusa does it with ease, he even touches the ground with his elbows while doing the stretch and Atsumu wonders for the umpteenth time if Sakusa has no bones in his body. But then he starts to tell Sakusa about this new movie he saw in which all the characters suddenly discover that they're actually comic book characters and some Manga writer controls their lives and how panic ensues. Then he's done telling about this movie, so he starts talking about another one that he saw with Aran-kun last week, and Sakusa heaves a huge sigh and says, 

"Miya, you just don't know how to shut up , do you?"

Almost every single one of their team members looks up from their stretching, surprised that Sakusa actually dignified Atsumu with a verbal response. Atsumu is extremely pleased. 

"Nah, I don'," he says cheerfully, shooting Sakusa what Osamu calls a 'shit-eating' grin. 

Sakusa rolls his eyes. 

"Ne, Omi-kun," Atsumu prods him further, "ya've been on team for awhile now, when are ya gonna stop callin' me Miya?" 

Sakusa drops his arms and folds his legs. His eyes meet Atsumu's and Atsumu realises suddenly that they're not black, they're just dark, dark, dark grey the way thunderclouds look during nights. 

"What else would I call you?" says Sakusa flatly but Atsumu can detect a faint glint of teasing behind his words. 

Oh, so I see how it is, he thinks to himself before plastering a smirk on his face as he says, 

"My name's Atsumu, but ya can call me tonight," and then he winks. 

 

The entire team is used to Atsumu’s casual flirting by now and they all groan, because that line is so cheesy, so lame, but Sakusa looks taken aback, like this is the first time anyone's ever hit on him. The sheer amount of shock on his face is truly appalling, Atsumu thinks, why would he be so surprised to have gotten hit on? People must have flirted with Sakusa often, right? Sakusa might be a germaphobe, and he may hate social interaction, but he was still very good-looking-

Atsumu snaps himself out of those thoughts. 

He notices how Sakusa flexes his wrist awkwardly, bending it back which Atsumu knows is a nervous habit, and mumbles something like, 

"Shut up. I'm never doing that."

 

Atsumu is delighted to see him flustered. He awards himself with a solid 7 for this brilliant idea. 

 

"Keep tellin' yerself that, Omi-Omi." Atsumu's grin is cheeky but there's a eenie-weenie, teenie-tiny part of his mind that thinks Sakusa is cute unlike the rest of the parts which are cackling in evil delight for successfully making Sakusa Kiyoomi blush.

 

***

Pick up lines become a regular occurrence after that. Sadly though, Sakusa never displays shock like he did the first time, now, he just rolls his eyes or cringes when the line is too corny. 

But if the line is super-duper extravaganza cheesy, Atsumu is awarded with a sigh along with “You’re an idiot, Miya.” 

 

Atsumu discovers that Sakusa’s apartment is very close to his own, so they can walk home together from practice. Perfect, thinks Atsumu, now he gets fifteen more minutes to annoy Sakusa.

 

One day, when Sakusa is done showering, Atsumu corners him. 

“Omi-kun~,” he says sweetly and Sakusa actually takes a step back from him. 

“What do you want.” 

Atsumu flashes him his shit-eating grin and sings, “I know yer apartment's close ta mine. Let’s walk home together~.”

Sakusa scrunches his nose and glares at Atsumu. 

“I never should have told Hinata where I live.” He pulls on his jacket and a mask along with a pair of gloves, the Atsumu scowl already making its way on his face.

“Good thing ya told ‘im, now ya get ta enjoy my company for a lil longer everyday!” Atsumu says with the grin still intact on his face. 

Sakusa doesn’t respond and turns and strides to the exit as fast as he can.

“Hey, wait for me, Omi-Omi!” yells Atsumu and runs to catch up with Sakusa. 

On their entire walk home, Sakusa is quiet and brooding as usual with his hands stuffed in his jacket-pockets and Atsumu lets his mouth run loose as he talks about literally the randomest of things. Sakusa doesn’t say a word, but he doesn’t push Atsumu in the street so that a random vehicle can kill him either, so Atsumu supposes he’s fine. 

At least until they reach Sakusa’s home and Atsumu asks him for a goodbye kiss. Sakusa glares at him (3 points) + steps away with a disgusted face (5 points) + says, “You’re an idiot, Miya.” (4 points). 

Atsumu shoots him a signature grin and walks to his own apartment, whistling off-key. Scoring 12 points in 3 seconds had to be his new best. 

 

One weekend, Atsumu is meeting up with Samu and his evil spawn of a boyfriend Sunarin, when his phone dings. Atsumu grabs it, checks the notification and gasps in surprise. It’s a simple text from Sakusa asking him if he would like to practise for a while with him. 

 

“Why do you look like someone promised you a lifetime supply of free candy?” Suna drawls from where he is seated in the cafe, next to Osamu of course, with Atsumu sitting alone on one side of the table all by himself like the pathetic loner he is. 

 

Atsumu is still staring at his phone in disbelief. Maybe Sakusa didn’t text him himself. Shouyou-kun and Bokkun must have dragged him to practice against his wish and they abducted his phone and texted Atsumu when they realised they didn’t have a setter. 

But Shouyou had mentioned he was going back home for the weekend and Bokuto hadn’t stopped rambling about how excited he was to see Akaashi. So then Omi-kun is probably alone, which means he decided he wanted to spend time with Atsumu by his own choice. 

 

“Omi-kun texted me,” says Atsumu stupidly and Suna and Osamu raise their eyebrows together. 

“That’s why ya lit up like a christmas tree? Ya got it bad, Tsumu.” his brother scoffs and Suna smirks his signature foxkill smirk. 

“Got what bad?” says Atsumu in confusion and Osamu sighs. 

“Living away from ya’s makin’ me forget how stupid ya are.” 

Atsumu glares at him. “Shut yer trap, ya-” 

But Suna interrupts him before he can spew profanities at his dear twin’s face, 

“How long have you liked Sakusa, Atsumu?”  

“I-what?” sputters Atsumu and blinks. “I don’t like Sakusa!” 

Osamu and Suna scoff at that in unison, which is creepy. 

“Like we’re believin’ that,” mutters Samu. 

“But I really dont’!” exclaims Atsumu incredulously. “Omi-Omi’s so different from me, he never gets my movie references an’ always calls me an idiot!” 

Osamu scowls at him. “Hinata says ya guys walk home together now an’ that ya never leave ‘im alone, always hangin’ off his side, not ta mention all these nicknames.” 

“Why the hell have ya been talkin’ to Shouyou-kun?” 

“That’s what ya decide ta focus on?” 

“I… well,” Atsumu says eloquently, “I just like annoyin’ ‘im. He makes it so easy, ya know? Always glarin’ an’ scowlin’. It’s fun.” he shrugs. 

“Really?” says Osamu sceptically, “what I think yer doin’ is trynna get his attention.” 

“‘Course I’m trynna get his attention, I’m Atsumu, I want everyone’s attention!”  

Suna rolls his eyes at that. 

Osamu, who knows how stubborn Atsumu is, sighs in resignation. 

“Well, yer a stubborn sod so I know ya won't admit it just to spite me. Just don’ make a big mess outta this stupid crush ya have. It can wreck all yer career, ya know.”

 Atsumu knows that his brother is being serious for once. 

“It’s not a crush, I’m tellin’ ya! Omi-Omi an’ I aren’t even friends! He probably thinks of me as an annoyin’ teammate he’s gotta put up with,” Atsumu protests. 

“Hm, and how does that make you feel?” Asks Suna, boring his eyes into Atsumu’s.   

“What’re ya, my shrink?” he yelps, squirming under Sunarin’s gaze. 

Suna shrugs. “I’m just saying, you’ve thought about what Sakusa thinks about you.  That’s gotta mean something, am I right?” he turns to Osamu and they share obnoxious smirks before turning back to look at Atsumu. 

“Huh. Whatever. Doesn’t matter,” huffs Atsumu, “an’ if ya two’re gonna bully me like this the whole day, then I’m leavin’ to go practise with Omi-kun.” 

Osamu’s smirk widens. “Aw, look at the two of ya, havin’ volleyball dates!” he says saccharinely and Atsumu kicks his shin under the table.

“I will really leave, ya know,” Atsumu threatens. 

“By all means, go,” says Suna, “then Samu and I can enjoy our date in peace while you’re pining about your cute little crush.” 

Atsumu snorts. “Sakusa Kiyoomi is in no way cute .” 

Suna smirks. “You didn’t deny him being your crush.” 

Atsumu, who’s now really pissed off, gets up to leave. 

Osamu is laughing, but he still stops Atsumu from leaving and forces him to be the third wheel the entire day. Even though they tease him all day about Sakusa, and even though he complains about third-wheeling constantly, Atsumu can’t deny the fact that it felt good to see his twin. 

Because bicker and fight and quip at each other as they may, Atsumu still feels a pang in his gut as he hugs his brother and his brother’s douchebag of a boyfriend goodbye. He just convinces himself that it’s from hunger. 

***

Months go by and Atsumu carries on with his life as usual, practise, practise, practise, eating, hanging out with his friends, annoying his brother, video calling their parents and then practise and practise again. He would really like to say that he absolutely did not dwell on Osamu and Rintarou’s teasing and he did not think about having a crush on Sakusa at all, but then he would most definitely be lying. 

 

It is just a little bit hard to forget about something when two of the most annoying people on this earth keep texting him things like, ‘In the last match, you set to Sakusa 92 times but you sent only 67 tosses to Bokuto.’ (Yeah, those jobless smartasses actually counted). They sent him links of his own interviews in which he has praised his team members along with Sakusa with snide comments of ‘Careful Tsumu, your gay is showing.’

Osamu, the world’s largest asshat that he is, sent him an entire pdf titled- ‘The Ultimate Guide to Coitus with a Mysophobe’ and Atsumu promptly lost his barely held together shit and blocked Osamu for a week. Osamu then showed up on his doorstep one Sunday morning and Atsumu was actually touched by that gesture. Until Osamu opened his bag and drew out a printed version of the stupid guide. Then Atsumu kicked him out but took him back in when he said that he’d brought his favorite onigiri. 

 

Atsumu has dated people before. But it always ended up in them telling him that they loved him despite him being an idiotic asshole; and him telling them that volleyball was his only love. Atsumu wonders if he'll be able to find love like his brother someday. Osamu and Suna have been dating for four years now. But the sheer notion of loving someone more than volleyball, more than winning, seems totally absurd.

 

If he falls in love with Sakusa, he won’t have to choose. If he falls in love with Sakusa, he can have both because one thing simply cannot come without the other. But you aren’t supposed to fall in love like this, weighing out pros and cons. And Sakusa Kiyoomi is very hard to fall in love with, if not impossible. He’s broody and frowny and not funny at all. If they start dating by some miracle, he wouldn’t even let Atsumu hold his hands, coitus be damned. Atsumu scoffs to himself and pushes the thoughts outside of his mind.

 

He manages to live his life without his brother’s suggestive texts and underlying doubts in his own mind about his own attraction to Sakusa (because Sakusa is hot as fuck, dammit) bothering him too much. But then, one night, he realises that, maybe, just maybe, liking Sakusa isn’t as impossible as he had originally thought.       

 

They’re staying in Hokkaido for a tournament. They had gone up to the quarter finals and then lost, if only by two points. And Atsumu, even though he’s a 23 year-old grown-ass man, still cries like a baby whenever he loses. He doesn’t do it in front of people, but still. 

 

It’s also sort of a ritual for him and Samu to have a phone call after every defeat, Atsumu shedding tears unabashedly, because it’s Osamu, they’ve seen each other do everything (literally everything, yes, it includes what you’re thinking about right now) and Osamu telling him not to be so hard on himself. He does it in a typical Samu way, with quips and insults. But it always makes Atsumu feel better. Now that they’re not living together anymore, this is one of those things which brings them closer, keeps their bond intact. 

Today, Atsumu calls Osamu and he doesn’t pick up. 

 

Osamu knew that they had a match today because he had texted him ‘good luck’ before it started, so he must know that the only reason Atsumu is calling right now is because they lost and Atsumu needs to rant and cry. Then why isn’t he picking up? thinks Atsumu desperately, after he’s dialled his twin’s number at least ten times in a row. 

 

The entire team is silent as they pack up their stuff. Shion tries to crack a few jokes, but no one laughs, even Shouyou and Bokuto are sombre. Atsumu can feel distress clawing in his chest as he calls his brother again and again, nibbling on his lower lip. His throat hurts and he knows that he’s barely holding the tears at bay, so he grits his teeth, takes a few deep breaths and steels himself. 

 

The busride on the way back to their hotel is quite morose. Everyone is either asleep or busy in their phones, texting their significant others or friends, who are probably trying to comfort them. Atsumu puts his earphones in and tries to sleep or something, but he can’t help constantly checking his phone. Why the hell was the asshat not picking up his calls? Atsumu’s anger and betrayal are mixed with worry now, what if it’s an actual emergency and something has happened to Samu? 

Atsumu clamps down his thoughts and squeezes his eyes shut. When he opens them, he feels the weight of a gaze upon him and turns his head to meet the dark orbs of Sakusa’s eyes. They’re blank as always, betraying no emotion, but Atsumu can easily detect the tension in Sakusa’s posture and he knows that the wing spiker is just as agitated as everyone else for losing. Neither of them say anything. Atsumu breaks the contact first, turning away to look outside the window. 

 

When they reach the hotel, everyone bids each other half-hearted good nights, heading straight to their rooms. It isn’t until he reaches his room that Atsumu remembers he’s sharing a room with Sakusa. 

 

It’s not that he has any problems rooming with Sakusa. They’re fine as long as Atsumu keeps the room clean. But today, Atsumu wishes to be alone and he doesn’t really want anyone other than his twin. Atsumu sighs. This can’t be helped though, he’ll just have to get through the night somehow. 

 

Atsumu lets Sakusa have a shower first and then he goes into the bathroom to have one himself. Sakusa has obviously wiped each and every surface after he was done. Atsumu expects the small room to smell like disinfectant and other chemicals, but it oddly smells like lemons. Atsumu breathes in the fresh scent and tries to distract himself by scrubbing his own body ferociously, trying not to have a mental breakdown. He remembers every set that could have been more perfect, every serve that could have been a service ace, every receive that was sloppy. He’s still quiet and fidgety and tense when he comes out of the shower. 

 

He doesn’t look at Sakusa and quietly tells him to order something from room service for dinner. They eat in silence, Sakusa sending vague, unreadable glances towards Atsumu which he religiously ignores, checking his phone and calling Samu from time to time. They go to bed super early that night and Atsumu tries to call Osamu one last time before flinging his phone on the nightstand and tucking himself in the covers.

Atsumu turns his head to his side, and he’s not surprised to see Sakusa sprawled over the bed with his head turned in the opposite direction of Atsumu, dark curls splashed like paint against the white pillows. Atsumu turns off the lamp and closes his eyes. 

 

But sleep doesn’t come. He envies Sakusa for falling asleep so easily. Atsumu tries to twist and turn quietly, the rustling of his sheets might disturb Sakusa. He tries sleeping in all positions, even the weirdest ones with his butt floundering in the air, but the moment he closes his eyes, he just thinks how could you lose why did you lose practise more, be more perfect, where is Samu, Samu pick up, you lost, you lost, you lost. 

 

Atsumu gives up on sleeping and lies on his back with his eyes staring aimlessly at the ceiling. It's completely blank, unlike his mind, which is raging with depressing thoughts. And then, suddenly, without any warning, the tears come. Atsumu takes in a shaky breath before squeezing his eyes shut tightly as tears spill down his face, going into his pale blonde locks, hot and unstopping.   

He can hear the faint rustling of sheets as Sakusa shifts his position in sleep. 

Atsumu wipes the tears and snot threatening to come out of his nose with a tissue paper he finds on his nightstand, trying to make as less sound as possible. 

 

And then, out of nowhere, 

“Atsumu.” 

 

Atsumu sucks in a sharp breath of surprise, but doesn’t open his eyes. Sakusa’s voice seems extremely close, as though he’s crouching down right next to Atsumu’s bed. 

He says nothing, just wipes his tears. There are warm, calloused fingers sliding across his scalp through his messy hair which is still damp from the shower, and Atsumu’s body freezes. He actually stops breathing for a few moments, because his mind has nearly short-circuited. Sakusa Kiyoomi is touching me, he thinks numbly, Sakusa Kiyoomi called me by my first name for the first time since we’ve met. 

Atsumu takes a few shaky breaths and swallows visibly. 

 

“Atsumu,” says Sakusa in his deep, quiet voice again, uncharacteristically gentle like his fingers in Atsumu’s hair, “We are a team for a reason. You don’t get the luxury of placing all the blame on yourself.” 

Atsumu doesn’t open his eyes but leans into Sakusa’s touch. He lets Sakusa’s words wash over him, and he knows Sakusa is right, but it’s still so hard to accept that he lost. They stay like that for some time, neither of them saying anything. Gradually, the tightness in Atsumu’s throat begins to fade away. 

“Did I wake ya up?” his voice is hoarse, “sorry.”

“No, I wasn’t asleep,” he hears Sakusa say and then feels the mattress dip and realises that Sakusa is sitting on his bed now. If it had been any other time, Atsumu would have annoyed the hell out of Sakusa by relentlessly teasing and flirting with him because he was stroking his hair for God’s sake. Sakusa had probably guessed Atsumu would be doing none of that today, or else he wouldn’t have done this in the first place. 

 

“Oh,” says Atsumu eloquently, and suddenly feels ashamed to be so exposed and vulnerable in front of someone. Sakusa, as if sensing this, says, “It’s okay, you know. I cried too.” 

 “Really? Did Omi-kun cry in the shower then?” 

“Mmm,” replies Sakusa. 

Atsumu takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. 

“I hate losin’,” he mutters balefully. 

“I hate it too.” 

They’re silent for a while again, but Sakusa’s fingers in his hair don’t stop. 

And then Sakusa breaks the silence again.

“I’ve never seen you cry before,” he sounds contemplative, “we’ve lost quite a few matches before this too, but I’ve never seen you cry. Why today?” 

Atsumu clears his throat. 

“I, um, usually call Samu after we lose,” he confesses, “while everyone is packin’ up an’ all. I sneak out an’ then I cry with him an’ he, uh, he, tries to make me feel less shitty.” 

“Ah,” says Sakusa softly, “so much for your claims of Osamu being the biggest asshat in the universe, huh?” 

Atsumu scoffs. 

“Osamu’s way of makin’ me feel less shitty is tellin’ me to stop whinin’ ‘bout my volleyball skills. ‘Cause apparently, I should be worried ‘bout my personality, which is a lot shittier. Sounds like an asshat to ya?” 

“Well, he’s not wrong, that’s a valid point.” Sakusa sounds faintly amused. Atsumu has a sudden urge to see his face. He can just open his eyes and look at him, but somehow he can't bring himself to do so. He's weirdly afraid that the moment Sakusa meets his gaze, he will move away. 

It’s a stupid thing to think, but Atsumu feels so much better now, with Sakusa’s fingers in his hair and his warmth seeping into the mattress. He doesn’t want Sakusa to go away. Doesn’t want to ruin this rare moment of civility between them. 

“Mean, Omi-Omi,” is what he settles for.  

“Then why are you crying twice today?” asks Sakusa, ignoring him. 

“I didn't cry before. Samu isn’t pickin’ up,” Atsumu finally says, “he’s never done it before. He knew we had a match, he knows the only reason I’ll call after a match is if we lose. But he’s not pickin’ up, not respondin’ to texts.” 

“I see,” Sakusa’s voice is gentle again, “Are you worried about him?” 

Atsumu didn't think anyone could really see , but he just says, “He might be an asshat, but he’s still my brother.”

“He must be busy somewhere or his phone must be broken. I’m sure he’ll call you right back in the morning.” says Sakusa. Atsumu isn't very reassured. But well, he is known for being overly paranoid at times.  

Yeah, Samu was probably busy boning his boyfriend or something, that jackass.  

He shuffles a little and scoots to a side. 

"Omi-kun," he pats his covers, "dontcha wanna get in?" 

"No." 

"Aw, why not? Yer already sitting on top of my bed, at least ya'll be comfortable under the covers." 

"What if you've farted in there?" 

Atsumu laughs. 

"I haven't, I promise."

"I don't believe you," Sakusa declares firmly. 

"Ah, that's a wise decision," admits Atsumu, "but really, I haven't. What's the big deal about sitting inside the covers anyway? Yer already touchin' me." 

He senses Sakusa's hesitation. 

"This is different. I know your hair is clean because you showered. It still smells like your shampoo." 

Atsumu's heart does a flip flop for no apparent reason. 

"Is that how it works then?" he says slyly, "does that mean ya'll gimme a kiss if ya can smell my toothpaste?" 

And there's the familiar annoyed huff.

"You're an idiot, Miya."

"Hey, I thought we were on a first name basis now," says Atsumu with a fake pout and whines when Sakusa withdraws his fingers from Atsumu’s hair. 

Sakusa snorts at that.

"You're like a cat," he says, "selfish, mean, thinks he's better than everyone and likes having his hair stroked." 

Atsumu snickers. 

"Lots of people love cats though," he points out and Sakusa hums, non-committal. 

Then stay like that for a while and Atsumu can feel the drowsiness finally settling inside his body. They had played a five-set match today, it had been quite draining. Sakusa's warm, long fingers work like magic and Atsumu turns on his side to face Sakusa. 

He finally opens his eyes and looks at his teammate for the first time that night. Sakusa must have turned on the bedside lamp at some point and he's basked in its warm golden glow, soft curls casting shadows across his porcelain skin. 

Oh, thinks Atsumu, has he always been so beautiful? 

Atsumu gives Sakusa a sleepy smile. It's sleepy, but it's a real one, unlike his lazy grins and obnoxious smirks. 

"Thanks, Kiyoomi," he says and closes his eyes again and instantly falls asleep.

 

(Osamu calls him next morning and tells him that he forgot his phone in the shop while closing it. Atsumu flings curses at him for the next 3 minutes, non-stop.) 

 

***

Atsumu hadn’t expected things to drastically change between them because of that small incidence, and they don’t. He still annoys Sakusa at every chance he gets and Sakusa still huffs and scowls and calls him an idiot. But the air between them has changed now, that much Atsumu can admit.

 

The things that have changed are small, so miniscule that Atsumu is surprised that he even notices them, he doesn't really care about other people in general. And yet, Atsumu notices that Sakusa stands a millimeter closer to him now than before. Or that Sakusa talks just a little more around him- he doesn’t just call him an idiot anymore, he calls him stupid or an imbecile too. He stopped glaring at Atsumu’s nicknames a long time ago, but the disapproving crease that used to appear between his brows is also gone now. It might be because the rest of the team calls him ‘Omi-kun’ and ‘Omi-san’ as well, but whatever the case, Sakusa has officially accepted Atsumu’s nicknames. Atsumu is still the only one who calls him Omi-Omi. And for some weird reason, the thought of someone else calling Sakusa ‘Omi-Omi’ is unsettling. 

As they walk home from practice everyday, Sakusa actually responds to Atsumu’s meaningless babble sometimes, even if it’s just a snort or an eyeroll. 

 

At first, Atsumu is proud of himself for getting someone like Sakusa to warm up to him. He notices all these little things and congratulates himself for creating a precious bond with another teammate (in case you didn’t understand, the word precious is sarcastic). But, there’s a problem- Atsumu’s ‘noticing’ doesn’t stop at these little signs. He notices a lot more. 

 

It’s almost as though Sakusa’s touch has flipped a switch inside him- He has started noticing how beautiful Sakusa’s form is while he jumps to hit his set, one hand spread to his side like a wing and the other high up in the air, silhouetted against the lights. How everything about Sakusa is so sharp- his thunderstorm-like eyes, his pale collarbones, his shoulder blades and his cheekbones. How lovely Sakusa’s curls look, their darkness a stark contrast against his smooth, pale skin. How carefully he washes his hands with soap or sanitizer every once in a while; long, nimble fingers sliding against each other with practised grace. How analytical and calculating and smart Sakusa is. How some of his frowns are more intense than others, how he always runs away from cameras after they win a match, how soft his mouth actually is when it isn’t hidden behind a mask… And this isn’t even half of it. 

 

Atsumu doesn’t think of it as odd at first- you always observe the people near you and notice their habits, right? But then, Atsumu tries to think about Shouyou and Bokuto or their captain or Osamu or Aran or his other friends like that. He realises that he has never felt so fascinated by any of their features or their weird quirks or wondered how they looked when they smiled or missed the feeling of their fingers in his hair. Atsumu isn’t too sure what to do with this bit of information. 

 

But, one day, after they’re done with practice and are changing out of their sweaty clothes, Sakusa emerges out of the shower, shirtless and hair still dripping wet. Sakusa is tall and lean and muscular, his hard muscles coiling tightly as he walks. But that’s not what Atsumu really notices, he’s seen Sakusa shirtless plenty of times before, he knows Sakusa has a hot body. What catches his attention on this particular day are the tiny dots decorating Sakusa’s collarbones and abdomen and back, not unlike the ones above his eyebrow. How had he not seen them before? There’s one right on Sakusa’s jugular knot, two on his right collarbone, another to the left of his navel and three or four scattered across his back. 

And he walks home in a daze that day, quieter than usual and sees Sakusa send him a worried glance (he thinks it’s worried, it could be just relieved). But once he’s home and taking a bath before going to bed, he looks down at his own torso (which is as defined and sculpted as Sakusa’s by the way), Atsumu realises that he can’t get the image of Sakusa Kiyoomi’s pale upper body dotted with tiny moles out of his head. And he thinks, oh no, oh fuck. 

 

Atsumu rushes out of the bathroom, almost face planting on the slippery tiles, and frantically dials his brother’s number. 

The moment his twin picks up, he says, 

“I think I have a crush on Omi-kun.” 

Atsumu can hear Samu rolling his eyes. “Congratulations on yer gay awakenin’,” he drawls sarcastically and for once, Atsumu doesn’t snap anything back at him because he’s still freaking out. 

“Ya don’t get it,” he says in a panicky squeak, “I have a crush on-”

“I get it perfectly fine, Tsumu,” says Osamu in a bored voice, “I got it months before ya did, didn’t I?” 

Atsumu groans. 

“Aah, what do I do?” he wails and he hears Osamu suppress a snicker. “Yer fuckin’ laughin’, ya prick-” 

“‘Course I’m laughin’, ya goin’ into gay panic over Sakusa Kiyoomi of all people on this earth is funny as fuck,” says Osamu with a snort, “How’d ya even figure it out?” 

Atsumu puts his phone on speaker and plops down on his bed, still half dressed. “I saw him shirtless an’ I counted the moles on his body an’ realised that’s not somethin’ ya notice ‘bout yer teammates,”

“The fuck-!” Osamu chortles, “Ya couldn’t just have a sex dream like a normal person, could ya?” 

“Ya of all people should know that nothin’ ‘bout me is normal, startin’ with my abnormally good looks,” says Atsumu condescendingly and Samu scoffs, “Yeah, an’ it ends with yer abnormal stupidity.” 

Atsumu ignores the quip, letting out a sigh instead. 

“What am I gonna do, Samu?” he says in a subdued voice, “I’m bein’ serious.” 

Osamu notices the shift in his mood. “Well, the smartest choice would be ta tell ‘him.” 

Atsumu shoots up. “What?! Ya outta yer mind? I’m not tellin’ him! He’ll hate me more than he already does!” he says, panic rising in his chest once again, “It’ll destroy our team, and this ain’t high school, we’re V-league players, they’ll kick me out-” 

“Atsumu.” says Osamu firmly, cutting his panic-ramble short, “Calm the fuck down, ya idiot.”

Atsumu puts his head in his hands and breathes and then breathes some more. 

“Listen to me,” continues his twin, “Unlike ya, Sakusa isn’t an immature baby. He’s an adult who acts like an adult,” he ignores Atsumu’s indignant squeak, “If ya tell him how ya feel, the worst he’ll do is not return yer feelin’s. Wait, does he even like guys?” 

“I don’t even fuckin’ know,” whispers Atsumu and hears Osamu sigh. 

“Well, I don’t know Sakusa at all, but he’s tolerated ya for months now, and yer teammates. I don’t think he’ll be petty like ya an’ start ignorin’ ya for likin’ him.” 

“But I don’t wanna tell him,” whines Atsumu, “it feels like losin’!” 

Now it’s Osamu’s turn to groan. “If ya hate losin’ so much, why did ya decide to fall in love with yer high school rival?” 

“I am not in love with him!”

“Fine, fine, but ya still wanna bone him.” 

“Oh my god, shut up.” 

“Yer the one who called me.” 

“So what, now I just pine in silence?” says Atsumu sulkily. 

Osamu sighs again and Atsumu can picture him pinching the bridge of his nose. “Try ta find out if Sakusa’s into guys,” he says finally, “though even if he is, he’s not gonna like you ,” he adds. 

Any other day, Atsumu would have flung insults back at his brother for that comment, but this time, he thinks, his brother is right. Even if Omi-Omi was into guys, why would he fall for someone as obnoxious as Atsumu? 

Osamu notices his silence and starts to say, “Tsumu-” but Atsumu doesn’t want to talk anymore. He just hangs up.   

 

The following weeks are some of the hardest weeks in Atsumu’s entire life. He tries to act like everything is normal, but his head has sort of stopped functioning around Sakusa. He loves every second of attention he gets from him, even if it’s just Sakusa calling him names. If he was noticing things about Sakusa before, he’s noticing a shit ton more now and it drives him insane. How the fuck do someone’s habits go from seeming delusional to endearing in one night? Even Sakusa’s weird bendy wrist is attractive now. And the way someone glares at people and gives them stink eyes when they enter a two feet radius should not be cute either. But it is. Atsumu has always been good at hiding his insecurities behind the mask of Assholery, so he thinks he's doing a good job at hiding his crush.

Well, until he gets hit by a volleyball in the face because he's too busy admiring Sakusa's beautiful form.

 

"Atsumu-san!" exclaims Shouyou loudly, "are you alright? I know how much getting hit in the face by the ball hurts!! Is your nose bleeding?" 

Atsumu shakes his head in a daze. 

"Tsum-tsum!!" yells Bokuto and bounces towards him, "do you need to sit out?" 

Atsumu blinks rapidly and shakes his head again. 

"No worries, I'm fine," he says. 

Meian-san looks at him in concern as Shion and Adriah start sniggering. He opens his mouth to say something but someone beats him to it-

"You have been distracted like this for a while now, Miya," Sakusa's voice is monotone and unwavering as always and Atsumu's eyes snap up to meet his. "Is there a problem?" 

"Omi-omi," says Atsumu with a sugar sweet smile, "are ya worried ‘bout me? That is so sweet.”

Sakusa rolls his eyes. 

Meian-san claps Atsumu's back. "He seems fine, guys, let's just resume our practice," he says and Atsumu shoots him a grateful smile. 

 

Atsumu goes home and rants about this to Osamu, who listens to him patiently because Atsumu did the same for years when Samu was the one pining about Suna. Sakusa keeps him awake at night, when he's tossing and turning and cursing himself for liking a guy who might not even be into guys. And even if he does fall asleep, Sakusa's there in his dreams, soft curls and dark eyes and pretty moles. 

 

Atsumu's crush does not damage his game though, if anything, he gets better, because now he plays volleyball to escape from his thoughts. He's got dark circles under his eyes and he tells Sakusa to leave without him everyday because he wants to practise his serves or tosses for just a bit longer. His teammates are worried about him, he knows that, and they ask him if he's alright from time to time, but he always tells them he's peachy and dandy, (he can't tell them he's having a gay crisis over a certain spiker) and thankfully, they don't push. 

 

One day, finally, Atsumu gets the answer to the question that has been keeping him up for weeks. It happens like this- 

Adriah's fiancee comes to their practice one day to pick him up. Adriah introduces her to the team. She's very beautiful and quite nice too. Hinata and Bokuto love her, they bounce around her, telling her how awesome Adriah is while he turns red and starts stuttering, making everyone laugh. Atsumu sees Sakusa's eyes crinkling and knows he's smiling under the mask. If only Atsumu could rip that thing off and see the smile with his own eyes- 

He bites his lip, hard, and focuses on the conversations happening around him. 

Atsumu is lost in his own thoughts while they're walking home. He wonders if he'll be able to have a fiancee ever, even if he gets over Sakusa. He'll probably be that pathetic friend who remains single all his life. 

"Why are you so quiet?" says Sakusa suddenly. Atsumu looks at him in surprise. 

"Normally, I can't get you to shut up no matter how hard I try, you being quiet on your own is… weird. And scary." Sakusa pins Atsumu down with his sharp stare. Atsumu flashes him a grin that they both know is fake. 

"I'm not plottin' a murder Omi-Omi," he says. 

"Then what are you thinking." 

"I don't wanna tell ya." 

Sakusa looks incredulous. "The one time I actually show an interest in having a conversation with you, you don't wanna talk?" he says gruffly, "who are you and where's Miya Atsumu?" 

"He's probably dyin' in a ditch with no one ta mourn him," says Atsumu with a dramatic sigh. 

Atsumu expects him to roll his eyes and continue walking in silence, but- 

"Do you want someone to mourn you?" 

Atsumu is slightly confused now. 

"Well…" he is hesitant, not exactly sure how to respond, "everyone wants someone ta mourn them an' miss them, no?" 

"That's not what I meant," says Sakusa quietly, “I meant to ask if there's a special someone you want to mourn your death." 

It’s you, you clueless jackass. 

Not wanting to answer the question, Atsumu shoots him an obnoxious grin.

"Is that yer subtle way of askin' if I'm single an' available Omi-kun?" he says with a wink and Sakusa makes an annoyed 'tch' sound.

“Just answer straight for once, would you?”

"No," the lie comes out of his mouth with practiced ease, "there isn't a special someone as ya put it. I was just wonderin' if there'll ever be," he admits, not meeting Sakusa's dark eyes. 

"And why won't there be?" 

Atsumu sighs. "It comes down to a choice in the end. I always end up choosin' volleyball." 

Atsumu thinks Sakusa will say that he’s so shallow, so narrow, and it’s pathetic how Atsumu doesn’t even have a life outside of his career. He sneaks a glance at Sakusa. He's as unreadable as ever. 

"How many are 'they'?" says Sakusa and Atsumu smirks. 

"There were six that I actually dated," he answers, "four girls, two boys. None of 'em lasted more than a year." 

"Oh.. I'm- sorry to hear that?" Sakusa sounds dubious, as though he isn't sure how he's supposed to respond to that. 

Atsumu laughs. "Don't be, Omi-kun. What about you? Have you ever dated anyone?" 

The prospect of Sakusa Kiyoomi dating someone seems strange. He doesn't like touching and dating is all about touching. Would Sakusa even kiss the person or have sex with them? Atsumu can't help but wonder how it works. He supposes Sakusa will just tell him to shut up and mind his business but he answers his question. 

"I have. Two people." 

"...And?" 

"One left because I was way too focused on volleyball and the other one…" Sakusa trails off and then clears his throat, "the other one left because, ah, my conditions were too much to put up with."

Atsumu does a double take. Atsumu might be a jerk to many people with his passive aggressive style, but damn, this person was mean . Atsumu feels a surge of fury; it's not like Sakusa chooses to be this way, it must be painful for him too. Aren't partners supposed to be understanding and accepting? 

 

"What? She really said that? What a bitch, huh!" he spits out and Sakusa gives him a surprised look. And then Sakusa just stops in his tracks. 

Atsumu stops too and looks at him, befuddled. Sakusa is wearing an extremely strange expression. To Atsumu's greater bewilderment, he slowly reaches up and takes off his mask. 

"Atsumu," he says slowly and Atsumu's eyes widen at the sound of his first name. "Do you not know that I'm gay?" 

"Hah?" Atsumu's mouth stupidly hangs open. 

Sakusa still looks surprised too, though Atsumu doesn't know why. Sakusa's crush didn't randomly inform him that he's interested in guys in the middle of a street. 

"I thought you knew." says Sakusa with a shrug. 

 

Atsumu closes his mouth and then opens it again and closes it once again, wordless. His brain is just going Sakusa's gay, Sakusa's gay, you might have a chance, you might have a chance, holy shit, you might actually have a shot with this-

"Yer not exactly the most talkative person, are ya, Omi-kun?" says Atsumu, "Ya never talk 'bout yer personal life, how was I supposed ta know?" 

Sakusa blinks and flexes his wrist awkwardly. 

"Well…" he looks away, "I figured you knew since you flirt with me. A lot. All the time." 

 

Atsumu starts laughing loudly, the passersby staring at them weirdly. 

"Omi-omi," he wheezes between his chortles, "I hit on everyone . I hit on Meian-san and he's got a freakin' wife! Did ya think ya were special or somethin'?" 

You are you are you are.

Under the golden glow of street lamps, Atsumu can tell that Sakusa's face is pink. Then he whacks Atsumu's shoulder none too gently and huffs, "Shut up, Miya." 

He starts walking again, slightly faster and Atsumu takes long strides to catch up with him. 

They walk side by side silently for some time, Atsumu's brain still having a meltdown, and then Sakusa makes a strange noise and Atsumu turns to look at him. 

 

And he realises with a jolt that it's not a strange noise; Sakusa's laughing. He still hasn't put his mask back on, which is a miracle and he's actually laughing . His laughter is silent, like much of him, but his shoulders are shaking and there's a smile on his face and yeah, he's laughing. Atsumu stares at him, dumbfounded. 

"I can't believe that we've been on the same team for eight months now and you didn't know I was gay," Sakusa shakes with laughter again. 

Atsumu is rendered wordless again and he continues staring at Sakusa like a creep. And then- his gaze lands on a crescent shaped tiny mark near Sakusa's mouth and fuck he has dimples oh my god he has dimples, wow I'm so fucked, holy shit. 

 

Atsumu starts smiling as well. 

“Well, well, well, who woulda thought that the God of Deadpans, Mr. Clean-freak People Hater Sakusa Kiyoomi knows how ta laugh?” he drawls to mock Sakusa. 

Sakusa rolls his eyes with a smile still intact on his face. He slowly pulls his mask back up and Atsumu almost begs him not to do so, but manages to keep his mouth shut. 

The rest of the walk to his home is normal, with Atsumu talking about his favourite anime and Sakusa providing one worded responses occasionally and rolling his eyes when Atsumu says something cocky or flirtatious. 

 

Atsumu goes to bed that night feeling lighter than he has in days, since he doesn't have to stay up wondering about a certain wing spiker's sexual orientation. 

 

***

September comes and goes by in a blur, all red leaves and pumpkin spice lattes, and it's October already, the autumn air sending chills down Atsumu's spine when he walks to their gym for practice. 

 

Sakusa is already practising spikes with Shouyou-kun when Atsumu starts warming up. 

"Tsum-tsum!" he hears Bokuto exclaim loudly from behind him and turns to face the perpetually excited ace.

"Yes, Bokkun?" asks Atsumu patiently, thinking Bokuto is going to pester him about sending more tosses his way. 

"Akaashi says it's your birthday in two days!! He set a reminder on his phone for everyone on the team! What do you want for a present?" 

"Ohhh, Atsumu-san!!!" pipes in Hinata, "I didn't know your birthday was so soon!! Let's have a party!!!" 

Now the entire team has gathered around them.

There's a chorus of "Really, Atsumu?" 

"Hey, why didn't you say so?" 

"What're your plans?" 

Atsumu grimaces. He knows it's his birthday in a couple of days, he hasn't forgotten, but he isn't too excited about it. Osamu won't be there to celebrate with him either, since it's a week day. 

"Ah, thanks guys," he says loudly, over everyone's voices, "but I don't think I'm gonna celebrate it on the 5th. It's a weekday, and Samu won't be here either. He'll come visit me on the weekend and then all of us can go somewhere and get dinner, 'kay?" 

Meian-san grins at him. "Whatever you want, Atsumu. We know how hard you've been working! We just want our favourite setter to take a day off and have some fun!" 

"Yeah!!!" exclaim Bokuto and Hinata together and Bokuto ruffles Atsumu's hair. Atsumu instinctively jerks away from the touch and Bokuto pouts. 

Atsumu glances at Sakusa. He's standing away from the huddle as usual, with his hands stuffed in his pockets. He meets Atsumu's gaze for a second and then both of them look away. 

Atsumu plasters a grin on his face. "Well, that's enough birthday talk. Let's go back to practice for now, yeah?" 

Everyone disperses to their original positions. Atsumu starts practising receives. He's been slacking off on those lately. 

"Miya." says a familiar voice and Atsumu jumps slightly. 

"Omi-kun," he nods in acknowledgement, "what's up?" 

"Want me to help you with the receives?" 

Atsumu quirks an eyebrow. "Sure, why not," he says nonchalantly. 

They go on like that for a while before Sakusa asks him to toss to him. 

 

Atsumu still hasn't said anything to Sakusa about his feelings. Usually Atsumu isn't like this. If he likes someone, he just says it. But Osamu's words keep echoing in his head every time he thinks about telling Sakusa- Just don’ make a big mess outta this stupid crush ya have. It can wreck all yer career. 

 

Atsumu is ninety percent sure that Sakusa won't return his feelings. Maybe they'll still manage to remain civil if that's the case, but things will be awkward and it could endanger the team's balance. And Atsumu hasn't even considered the possibility of Sakusa returning his feelings. What then? Do they start dating? And what if they don't get along after all? What if they break up? Either way, they end up messing up the team. Osamu's right, this could wreck his career he's fought so hard to build. For the first time in his life, Atsumu doesn't want to take a blind risk.

 

His birthday, rather, their birthday arrives like any normal day does. Atsumu's phone doesn't stop ringing all morning, his parents video call him, wish him a happy birthday, his mom tears up at how much both of them have grown, and also tells him to find a girlfriend. His parents know he's bi, but they keep hoping he'll marry a girl so that his mom can have a grandchild. Osamu is gay, he won't be providing grandchildren anytime soon. 

There's a flurry of messages from his fans and Atsumu chuckles as he goes through his twitter feed. He feels a surge of gratitude for all the support that he’s got, from his parents, his brother, his friends and fans. The moment this thought touches his mind, Atsumu cringes, slightly aghast. Since when does he get touchy thoughts like this? Was he actually adulting ? Was he getting mature ? Ew. 

Atsumu’s on his way to the practice when his brother calls him. 

“Happy birthday, asshole.”  

“Back at ya, asshat.” Atsumu quips back and they both laugh. 

“So, 23 huh?” Samu drawls. 

“Strange, ain’t it,” says Atsumu, turning at a corner, “did mom cry while wishin’ ya too?” 

He can hear his brother rolling his eyes. “She’s been doin’ that since we were what, eighteen?” 

“Yeah, since we graduated.” 

“Well, ya must be off ta practice now,” says Samu, “I’ll see ya on Saturday, loser.”

“I’m not the loser here, ya fatass prickly-” 

Osamu hangs up. Atsumu mutters his remaining insults under his breath. The passersby give him strange looks. Nothing new here.   

The moment he enters the gym, there are two blurs- one orange and one white- who jump on him while yelling an extremely loud “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” and making the three of them collapse in a tangle of limbs. 

“Bokkun, Shouyou-kun!” laughs Atsumu from the ground, “get off me, ya blockheads, someone’ll pull a muscle!” 

Both Bokuto and Hinata hastily clamber off of him and shoot him equally radiant smiles. 

“Come quickly, Atsumu-san!” exclaims Shouyou, his brown eyes liquid in excitement, “the rest of the team wants to wish you too!” 

Still smiling, Atsumu dusts himself off as Shouyou drags him by his wrist. Bokuto’s springing on ahead of them, shouting, “Hey, hey, hey!! Look who’s here!” 

Atsumu has found Hinata and Bokuto too loud and annoying on more than one occasion, but today, he bears with them and kind of likes how excited they are for his birthday. Even he isn’t that excited, and it’s his birthday. 

Atsumu enjoys the practice. Everyone on his team- their coach, their managers, his teammates wish him and tell him how grateful they are to have him on the team even if he behaves like a narcissistic asshole. They pound his back and ruffle his hair and Atsumu takes it all in with a smile, glad that he is where he is. 

Sakusa doesn’t touch him like others. “Happy birthday, Miya.” 

Atsumu mutters a breathy thanks and then dives into the practice. 

Atsumu promises to treat everyone on the upcoming weekend. Then he and Sakusa walk home after Sakusa’s done taking a shower. 

“What do you plan on doing today?” Sakusa asks him. Atsumu shrugs. “Take a bath, take a nap, watch my favourite anime, order my favourite take out and then sleep.” 

Sakusa nods. 

Sakusa’s being a little odd today, he’s checking his phone a lot, something which he rarely does. 

“Ne, Omi-kun,” says Atsumu, “why do ya keep checkin’ yer phone so much?” 

Sakusa looks startled. 

“Ah, um, I-” 

Why does he look so flustered, thinks Atsumu, how weird. 

“I, uh, I have a date.” blurts Sakusa. 

And just like that, what seemed like a great day so far, turns into one of the worst ones in his life. 

“You have… a date?” he repeats in disbelief. 

Sakusa flexes his wrist. 

“Yes. A blind date. Uhm, Komori set me up.” 

Atsumu’s heart feels like it’s filled with lead. “Huh,” he says, “guess even ya want someone ta mourn ya.” 

Sakusa frowns. He doesn’t say anything. Atsumu doesn’t say anything either. An odd, awkward silence settles between them. Atsumu makes no attempt to break it. He wants to cry because this feels like a defeat too. He’s lost to a faceless, nameless guy this time, the one Sakusa will go on a date with. The one Sakusa will willingly spend time with even though it’s not his birthday. 

Atsumu balls his hands in fists and keeps walking. He silently waves goodbye to Sakusa before turning and going straight to his apartment. 

The moment he enters the house, it strikes him how lonely he is right now. He’s Miya Atsumu. Miya Atsumu loves people and is loved by people. Miya Atsumu never spends his birthdays alone. But he is today. Miya Atsumu's birthday present is finding out he never has a shot with his crush. 

Atsumu loses his desire to do anything. He grabs his phone and a mini speaker and draws a bath for himself, trying to listen to songs and drown out his sorrows in the bathwater. Turns out, he can’t even do that, because five minutes after he’s settled in the bathtub, his phone begins to ring obnoxiously. Atsumu glares at the caller id- it’s his twin. 

“What do ya want?” he answers grumpily. 

“Jeez, what happened to ya?” says Osamu, “weren’t ya all rainbows an’ daisies this mornin’?”

“Yer disturbin’ my bath time,” Atsumu is still grumpy. 

“What’s wrong?” His brother will never buy any of his bullshit.  

“Omi-kun’s goin’ on a date,” sighs Atsumu and slumps. 

Osamu snickers. “Must be nice, bein’ ya. Go mope in yer bathtub.” 

“That’s what I was doin’ but ya had ta ruin that too.” 

“Well, I don’t give a damn ‘bout yer non-existent love life. I called because I think I left my razor back at yer place when I was there the last time. Look for it an’ give it back ta me on Saturday.” 

“An’ ya couldn’t tell me this tomorrow? Ya have ta ruin my mopey bath time?” 

Samu scoffs. “Just drag yer stupid little ass outta there and search for it. It’s my only good one. It’s in yer bathroom, I remember puttin’ it there.” 

“FINE. I’ll do it later.”

“No, do it now.”

“Now? What the fuck, why?”

“‘Cuz yer a liar, I know ya, yer gonna say later and never look for it.” 

“Ugh, shut up.” 

“Nah, ya shut up and also get up and look for it. Right now. Or else I’ll steal yer lucky t-shirt when I see ya on Saturday.” 

“Hah, I would never let ya near it. I’ve hidden it in a safe place.”

“I know it’s in yer left kitchen drawer. Now get yer ass up and search.”

Atsumu lets out a steady stream of curses as he gets up and wipes his body, putting on his boxers and starts looking for that damn razor which is so important to his brother. Must be a present from Suna or something, he thinks. What sort of boyfriend gifts a razor though? The lame sort. 

Atsumu searches his entire bathroom. All shelves, all cabinets. There is no razor other than his own. 

“Maybe ya left it out in the bedroom or somethin-” he starts to say but Osamu cuts him off with a sharp “NO!”

“I definitely remember puttin’ it in the bathroom,” his asshat of a twin says stubbornly, “Yer just not lookin’ properly.” 

“Yer mental,” says Atsumu but keeps looking in the bathroom. Osamu makes him search for half an hour. Half fucking hour. He doesn’t even let Atsumu step out of the bathroom because he’s so sure that he’s left it there. Atsumu loses his already lost shit when he’s done combing out every single inch of his bathroom, including the toilet seat and its flush-tank and all. Osamu still orders him around, threatening to steal his good-luck t-shirt in which he sleeps before his matches. How did that bastard even know where Atsumu hid it? Atsumu will change its hiding place now of course, but he wouldn’t put it past his brother to find out that new location and then steal it. 

Finally, when Atsumu is about to scream like a banshee, Osamu stops and sighs in defeat, hastily muttering that he must have left it at Suna’s place before hanging up suddenly. Atsumu sighs heavily. Why the fuck was his brother so weird and why the fuck was this day so bad? 

He needs to get some water, so he gets up and stretches and makes his way towards the kitchen, still wearing nothing but boxers.   

 

But his water is forgotten when he steps out of his bedroom and there are about twenty people in his apartment who scream “SURPRISE!!!” when they see him. 

 

Atsumu stands still in shock, his body frozen and eyes wide. Then he realises that there are actual people in his house who are dressed up for a party because this is a birthday surprise and he’s only wearing tight-fitting boxers. Who leave no space for imagination.

 

So he does what any normal person would do. He screams and runs back into his bedroom and bolts the door.  

 

There’s a lot of hubbub outside, he can hear the sound of laughter and confused exclamations. Atsumu groans and puts his head in his hands, slumping against the door. 

He starts when someone loudly knocks on it. 

“Tsumu ya dumbass!” he hears his brother’s voice and he sounds breathless from laughter, “Man, the look on yer face-” and he bursts out laughing again. 

“Samu ya fuckin’ prick, ya planned this? Ya let 'em in with yer key, didn't ya?” Atsumu yells, though it’s muffled by his hands.

“Well, a part of it, yeah, but that’s not the point. Stop bein’ a drama queen and put on some clothes. Come out.” his brother orders. 

“I’m bi,” says Atsumu. There’s a sharp rap as though Osamu has kicked the door.

“I really don’t wanna meet the people who almost saw my junk right now,” he grumbles and Osamu punches the door, making it rattle. 

“Listen, ya ungrateful lil shit,” his brother seethes, “I didn’t spend the last week havin’ video calls with Sakusa an’ an overexcited shrimp an’ an owl for ya to stay locked inside yer bedroom. They’ll laugh at yer face, but they do that anyway, so suck it up, behave like a grown-ass man an’ get out.” 

“It’s our birthday, ya could at least pretend ta be nice to me,” whines Atsumu but he gets up and starts looking for clothes. 

“If yer not out in the next two minutes I'll be in the kitchen, where there are scissors and yer t-shirt." 

Atsumu gasps and gets into the first thing he sees in front of him and steps out of his bedroom. 

The first thing he notices is Osamu with Suna, both of them still grinning, those smug bastards, and he runs to them and holds both of them in tight headlocks.

"Ya little fucks," Atsumu grumbles as the others watch him, laughing, and there are a few hoots as well along with a "Nice ass, Atsumu!" 

Once Atsumu is sure that his twin has suffered enough, he loosens his grip and pulls him into a hug instead. Osamu, rubbing his sore neck, pounds his back and they grin at each other when they pull away. 

 

Atsumu turns to face the crowd and beams. "An' now that y'all have been blessed by the sight of my divinely magnificent body, I'm officially happy to have ya guys here!" 

There's more laughter and whooping and a chorus of Happy Birthdays and Atsumu is being pulled into hugs and more hair ruffling and hand shakes. The apartment which was laughing at Atsumu for being a lonely loser is alive with noise.  

Atsumu spots a tall, dark guy with a familiar smile.

"Aran-kun!!" he shouts happily and runs to his friend, pulling him in a hug. Aran laughs his deep laugh and pats Atsumu's back. 

"That was an amazingly grand entrance. Didn't know you could scream that loud," says Aran and Atsumu laughs. "I missed yer comebacks, Aran-kun." 

They've brought pizza and ice cream and drinks with them and Atsumu is swept up in conversations for a while, meeting everyone in the room, laughing and joking and he's happy, he's so, so happy. 

 

His team is there and so are his former teammates from Inarizaki, their coach, managers, and even the Gym security guard because he's a nice bloke and Atsumu is friendly with him. Atsumu meets Meian-san and his wife, and he flirts with both of them. They laugh and make fun of him for almost flashing 20 people. Atsumu notices a mop of raven black hair and a serious man with specs who's walking calmly beside an elated Bokuto. 

"Hey, hey, hey!!! Tsum-tsum!!! How'd ya like the surprise??? Akaashi didn't think I would be able to keep it a secret, but I did! Aren't I awesome?" gushes Bokuto and Atsumu rolls his eyes with a grin. 

"Thank ya, Bokkun. I'd never have thought ya would be able ta keep a big thing like this!" he admits and then turns to Akaashi. 

"Keiji-kun!" He says with a flirty smile, "as pretty as ever, I see." 

He laughs as Bokuto protectively steps in front of Akaashi who is sighing at Atsumu's antics and yells at Atsumu for calling his boyfriend pretty, because only he's allowed to say so. Atsumu leaves the pair while Akaashi tries to hug Bokuto's pout off of his face and runs into another black haired guy. 

He looks up in surprise and realises that it's Kageyama Tobio. 

"An' just why are ya in my house?" he says, genuinely confused and mad because, well, he hates this guy. Then Shouyou bounds out of nowhere and screams, 

"Atsumu-san!!! You have really nice thighs!!" 

Atsumu is taken aback at that and Kageyama glares at Hinata. 

"Hinata dragged me here," Kageyama huffs. 

"Aaaah, don't be so stingy now, Grumpyyama, I'm sure Atsumu-san doesn't mind! The more the merrier, am I right?!!" asks Hinata with his eyes shining and Atsumu feels the annoyance and anger leave his body. He did just compliment his thighs. It's hard to be mad at Hinata. 

"Yes," he sighs, "the more the merrier indeed." 

He doesn't wait around to see Hinata dragging Kageyama along, babbling all the while about how he's going to beat him soon, and Kageyama letting the smaller man drag him around with something akin to a smile on his face. He hears them start bickering after a second though, and he smiles to himself. He picks up a random slice of pizza and stuffs his mouth, making his way to the balcony to breathe some night air. 

He expects to be alone because it's an October night, it's freezing outside, but there's someone else out there. 

Upon hearing Atsumu's footsteps, the person whirls around to face him and Atsumu instantly recognises the mop of raven curls framing a sharp, handsome face that has been keeping him awake for weeks. 

 

Atsumu had wondered if Sakusa really had a date that night, because he hadn't spotted him in the crowd. When he saw it was a surprise thing, he figured that Sakusa had used the date excuse to draw his attention elsewhere, because he didn't want Atsumu to know that there was a surprise party being planned behind his back. Still, Atsumu wasn't a hundred percent sure that Sakusa hadn't gone on a date. But of course, he was here in the balcony, with no human being in a 5 feet radius. Save for Atsumu. 

 

"Omi-omi!" says Atsumu with his usual grin and steps closer to Sakusa. As close as Sakusa allows him to be. 

"Did ya bring yer date over here? Aren't ya gonna introduce me ta him? Aren't I yer best friend?" 

Sakusa gives him a look. "Very funny, Miya. You're not my best friend." He says and looks away. 

Atsumu doesn't know if he should be happy about not being friend-zoned or offended. 

He decides to go with pretending to be offended. 

"Mean, Omi-kun! Could ya be nice ta me at least on my birthday?" 

"I am being nice to you," says Sakusa softly, "who do you think planned all of this?" 

Atsumu blinks, perplexed. He vaguely remembers Osamu saying something about video calling Hinata, Sakusa and Bokuto… but surely, Osamu was the one who planned this surprise because there was a small amount of decency left in him…? It couldn’t be Sakusa... 

 

"It was ya?" says Atsumu breathlessly, "ya planned this, Omi-Omi?" 

Sakusa adjusts his mask and nods. 

"I- really?" 

"Yes." 

"Ya… ya knew when my birthday is?" 

"Yes." 

"Ya remembered it?" 

"Isn't that obvious?" 

"Ya actually value me as a teammate and want to celebrate my presence in yer life?" 

"Wha- yes, Miya, I value you as a teammate, and no, planning a birthday party does not mean I want to celebrate your presence in my life." 

Atsumu feels a grin spread on his face again. 

"Awww, Omi-kun is so sweet!" He coos, but he is secretly glad to hear that.

Sakusa makes a 'tch' sound with his tongue. Atsumu wants to do a lot of things to that darned tongue. He tries not to dwell on them too much or he might lose his sanity. 

"How'd you plan it?" He asks and takes another step closer to Sakusa. He knows he's pushing his luck a bit, but Sakusa humors him, even though his eyes narrow at the movement. 

"I contacted your brother. Asked him if you had any plans. He said no. I had to include Hinata and Bokuto since they had most of the contacts of our high school acquaintances. Osamu-san told your school- friends. I was supposed to lead you elsewhere when we walked home today and stall for an hour till the others got home, but Osamu-san insisted that he will do a better job at stalling you." 

"That bastard," mutters Atsumu. 

"What did he do?" 

"Made me search for his non-existent razor in the heckin' bathroom for half an hour." 

Sakusa's eyes crinkle. 

"Very creative. Was that why you appeared looking like a harassed underwear model?" 

Atsumu gasps. "Did ya just say that I look like a model? Omi-omi finally admits I'm pretty!" 

"I really wish you had a switch so I could turn your narcissism off." 

"Nah, you love me the way I am, everyone does." 

"I'm sure they do." Sakusa deadpans. 

"Ne, Omi-kun?" 

"What." 

"Where's my present?" 

Sakusa gestures vaguely at the people in his house. “Isn’t this enough?” 

Atsumu hums. “Well, I was expectin’ somethin’ more… substantial.” 

Sakusa snorts. “I’m surprised you even know what substantial means,” he says mockingly. 

“Hey, just ‘cuz I didn’t go ta college doesn’t mean I can’t have a good vocabulary,” protests Atsumu and leans on the railing. It’s icy cold and Atsumu jerks away from it immediately. 

“Atsumu,” says Sakusa quietly and Atsumu turns to face him. Sakusa’s face is half lit with the light coming from his apartment. He has pulled down his mask and it bunches below his chin. Atsumu had not noticed up till now how regally beautiful Sakusa looks tonight. He was wearing a black shirt with black trousers and the first two buttons were open, showcasing his pale, defined collarbone. Atsumu tears his gaze away from the moles dotting the expanse of skin over there. 

His heart speeds up in his chest and he wants to jump off the balcony because god, this is pathetic, he just said your name, and now your chest might combust, when did you get like this?

“Yes, Omi-Omi?” 

“There are twenty three people in this apartment right now.” 

“Uh… ‘kay?” 

“All of them have hugged you or shaken their hands with you tonight. Research says that even with clothes on, people shed 37 million microorganisms into the air an hour.” 

“That’s.. disturbin’,  though I don’t see why yer tellin’ me this..?”

Sakusa ignores this and continues, “which means the highest possible amount of microorganisms currently on your body or clothes could be up to 851 million.”

“I did not need ta know that.” says Atsumu, still extremely confused. 

Sakusa pulls out a disinfectant spray out of his jacket. Atsumu knows that he carries it around everyday, using it to disinfect every surface that he touches, despite the fact that he always wears gloves. 

“This disinfectant,” says Sakusa, as though Atsumu has not spoken anything, “claims to kill 99.9% of them, but that’s just for marketing and it actually kills only 65 to 70%. Which means even if I spray it, there can be up to 255.5 million microorganisms on your body right now.” 

“That is gross, Omi-Omi! Is this yer idea of a present? Tellin’ me gross facts ‘bout germs so that I turn into a mysophobe too-” says Atsumu with his nose scrunched in disgust but Sakusa cuts him off impatiently. 

“No, you idiot,” he says softly and steps closer to him, closer than they’d ever been and Atsumu stands still, eyes wide in surprise. Sakusa never breaks their eye contact as he sprays the disinfectant all over Atsumu’s body, once, twice, three times. Atsumu has zero idea what is happening, but for once, he keeps his mouth shut the way he had kept his eyes shut that one night, afraid that Sakusa will run away if he says anything. 

Sakusa stops spraying the disinfectant on him and says quietly, “I just wanted to let you know all that before I do this,” and then, he simply steps closer and hugs Atsumu.  

 

Atsumu’s heart stops beating altogether. 

He barely registers Sakusa whispering Happy Birthday Atsumu.

He wonders what his fans will say when they read the news next morning - Miya Atsumu, 23, the beloved setter of MSBY Jackals dies because his mysophobic crush hugged him on his birthday. 

 

Sakusa smells like lemons and nighttime and petrichor. There is a strong scent of the disinfectant, but Atsumu knows that it’s himself who’s the cause. Sakusa is rigid and tense, and he must really not like the proximity, his arms around Atsumu’s shoulders aren’t very tight. The hug only lasts for about 4 seconds, but Atsumu loves and relishes every millisecond of it, because holy fuck, the Sakusa Kiyoomi, mysophobe and People Hater Supreme TM of MSBY Jackals, just hugged Atsumu. 

Sakusa pulls away rapidly, not giving Atsumu even a chance to get over his shock and hug him back. 

Sakusa steps away from him again and Atsumu misses his warmth instantly, but lets him step back. He is still staring at Sakusa with wide eyes and an agape mouth. 

Sakusa rolls his eyes. “Stop being a drama queen, Miya,” he says but Atsumu spots how his pale visage is flushed. 

Atsumu somehow finds his voice. 

“Ya hugged me,” he says stupidly. 

“No shit, Sherlock.”  

“No,” says Atsumu, shaking his head, “this isn’t real at all. This is a dream. This is all fake.” 

“Why the hell would you dream about me hugging you, Miya?” says Sakusa with a scowl. 

The same reason I dream about you with your tongue shoved down my throat every night.  

“I’ve just been hugged by Sakusa Kiyoomi,” says Atsumu breathlessly and Sakusa’s face flushes a brighter shade of red. 

“Shut up,” his teammate mutters and shoves his hands in the pockets of his jacket. 

Atsumu holds up his arms in front of him and looks at them in wonder. “I’m never bathin’ again.”  he declares and Sakusa rolls his eyes again. 

“Then I’m never doing it again.” he says firmly and Atsumu’s heart soars even higher- now it’s beating so hard, he feels like his entire body is going to combust from sheer elation any second. 

Atsumu grins, wide and bright and happy. “Does that mean ya were plannin’ on doin’ it again Omi-kun?” 

Sakusa makes that annoyed ‘tch’ sound that Atsumu has come to love recently and then Atsumu laughs, open and loud. Sakusa clears his throat. 

“I think people will be missing you inside,” he points at the living room. 

“I think they’re missin’ ya too,” says Atsumu coyly. 

Sakusa gives him a look but follows him back inside. Atsumu watches as he goes to stand in a corner, away from the 37 million bacteria that every person was emitting. Then Meian-san approaches him and they start talking about something, Sakusa nodding along occasionally as Meian-san talks. 

There’s a sharp blow on his head and his twin materializes by his side. “Why the heck do ya smell like someone made ya shower with a sanitizer?” he says and wrinkles his nose. 

Atsumu grins. 

“Omi-kun hugged me!” he says with the contentment of someone who’s discovered eternal bliss. Because being hugged by Sakusa Kiyoomi does that to you. 

Osamu’s features contort in disbelief.

“Yer lyin’!” he says firmly after a moment. 

“I’m not! Can’t ya smell all this disinfectant? He sprayed it on me like three times and then hugged me! It’s my birthday present!” 

“The fuck!” says Osamu. Then he calls out for Suna. 

“RIN!” Suna looks around wildly and then raises his eyebrows when he meets his boyfriend’s eyes. “C’mere!” 

Sunarin approaches them. “If you guys ask me who’s the taller one again, I have no ide-” 

Osamu cuts him off with, “Tsumu says Sakusa hugged him.” 

Suna’s usually emotionless face forms an :O shape. 

“He’s lying,” he says with conviction and Atsumu squawks in protest, offended. 

“Here, smell!” he pulls his t-shirt and Suna actually sniffs it. 

“Whoa, did he spray you with a sanitizer and then hug you?” 

“Yup,” says Atsumu proudly, “ and he said he would do it again.” 

“Now that’s a lie an’ I know it.” 

“Okay, fine, it is. But he might. It was implied.” 

Osamu and Suna stare at him with identical disbelief on their faces. 

“I have no words for this occasion,” announces Suna. “Fuck, I’m judging Sakusa way too much for liking Atsumu.” 

Atsumu feels uncomfortable. “I don’t know if he likes me likes me,” he admits in a low voice, “I don’t think he does.” 

“Atsumu,” says Suna in exasperation, “he literally called Samu and I and planned this entire party for you and he walks home with you everyday and tolerates your nonsense and he hates people and germs and he just hugged you, a dirty pig both mentally and physically, so yeah, he fucking likes you.”  

“Hey, I’m not a clean freak like Omi, but that doesn’t mean I’m a pig, ‘m pretty clean!” 

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think Tsumu would be actually able to land Sakusa,” sighs Osamu. Atsumu punches him. 

“Should’ve believed in my charm.” 

“Oh really? What happened to “Agh, Samu if I tell him, he’ll hate me”, “He will never like me, I’m too stupid for him anyway!” or “He’s totally immune to my charm, why do I have feelings for a robot?”” 

“Shhh! Shut yer hole, someone’ll hear ya!” 

“OOOH, ya mean KIYOOMI will hear that an’ find out what a simp ya are for hi-” 

Atsumu grabs Samu’s head in another headlock. 

 

People slowly start trickling out after a while, when it starts getting late. It is a weekday after all. They all have practice in the morning tomorrow. As petty and childish as it sounds, Atsumu doesn’t want to hug anyone goodbye, not even his brother. He wants to let no one touch his blessed body and clothes that have been embraced by his crush for four seconds. But he has to do it. So he does it reluctantly, thanks everyone for coming and bids them goodnight. 

 

There aren’t many people around now. It’s just Osamu, Suna, Aran, Shouyou and Kageyama and Sakusa now. 

“Did you like the party, Atsumu-san??!” says Shouyou, as energetic as ever. 

Atsumu pulls him in a bro-hug with his usual grin. “‘Course, I did, ya were here, weren’t ya?” 

Hinata giggles and Kageyama’s scowl deepens. Atsumu flashes him a brilliant fake smile and nods. “G’night, Tobio-kun!” he says sweetly. Hinata and Kageyama leave not long after. Bokuto and Akaashi already left a while ago because Akaashi has work early tomorrow.  

He watches the oddball-duo make their way out of his apartment, bickering as always.  

 

“I suppose I will be off too,” says a voice behind him and Atsumu turns to see Sakusa. 

Atsumu smiles at him. “Alrighty, Omi-omi,” he says cheerfully, even though he really, really wants Omi-kun to stay. He will kick out his brother. His brother makes a decent amount of money from the shop, he can afford to spend a night at some hotel. But just because Sakusa hugged Atsumu, it doesn’t mean he’s gonna stay in an apartment which might contain 851 million bacteria. 

“Didja have fun?” he asks instead. 

Sakusa’s jaw moves as if he’s opening and closing his mouth (Atsumu can’t tell because Sakusa’s wearing a mask as usual). His eyebrows furrow. 

“Nevermind, that was a stupid question,” laughs Atsumu, “I gotta admit, I started havin’ considerably less fun since I found out my apartment might’ve 851 million microorganisms.” 

Sakusa blinks. “You remembered the number,” he says with a hint of surprise in his voice. 

“Miracle, ain’t it?” says Atsumu drily. 

Sakusa gives him a curt nod and then steps towards his door. And then, on a strange impulse, Atsumu brings forth his hand and taps Sakusa’s shoulder that’s covered in a jacket; making him flinch and look back at him in surprise.  

“Thanks for everything, Kiyoomi,” Atsumu tells him softly, and he means it; so he smiles at Sakusa the way he had smiled when he had fallen asleep with Sakusa’s slender, nimble fingers in his hair. 

Sakusa stares at him a moment too long. And then he’s gone with an awkward bob of his head. Atsumu closes the door with a soft thud. He turns back, only to find three smug faces with identical smirks on them - Osamu, Suna and Aran. Atsumu ignores them as he starts cleaning up the apartment and allows himself to have a little hope about the Sakusa-situation for the first time in months. 

 

***

Things change considerably among them after the hug. Atsumu isn’t a huge fan of change in general, but he likes this. Sakusa lets him pound his back after good spikes, he doesn’t stare at Atsumu with disgust like he’s a spinach-smoothie. The distance between them while they walk side-by-side as they go home has suddenly and miraculously shrunk down to half a foot. Atsumu even notices the tiny twitch of lips when Sakusa is trying not to smile at his horrible pick up lines. 

Sakusa laughs in front of him for the second time, when Atsumu tells him a joke (what does the cannibal do after he dumps his girlfriend? He wipes his ass). Yeah, Sakusa freakin’ Kiyoomi laughed at Miya Atsumu’s joke! Atsumu feels like he’s won the world.

 

This change doesn’t go unnoticed by their teammates. Atsumu can feel their stares, but they don’t  voice out anything, so he doesn’t say anything either and obviously, neither does Sakusa. 

 

But one day, after they’ve won a match, Sakusa randomly stalks towards Atsumu, tells him to hold out his hands in front of him, squeezes half a bottle of sanitizer on them, pours the remaining half on his own hands and then slams their palms together in a double high-five. Atsumu’s face probably lights up more than a Christmas tree. Sakusa doesn’t even spare him a second glance. But he doesn’t high-five anyone else. Atsumu feels incredibly smug. 

“HAAAH?!” shouts Shouyou, “Omi-san, I want a high-five too! Why does only Atsumu-san get it?!” and Bokuto backs him up with fervent nodding and yelling.
Atsumu goes to stand beside Sakusa and puts his hand on Sakusa’s shoulder. Sakusa gives his hand an unreadable look, but doesn’t move away. 

“That’s ‘cause Omi-Omi and I are best friends!” announces Atsumu with a condescending grin. Everyone looks at Sakusa, as though waiting for him to deny it. Atsumu is slightly offended. 

Sakusa only says, “Hurry up, Miya, or I’ll tell the bus driver to leave you here.” 

“Mean, Omi-kun! Is that how we talk ta our best friends?” whines Atsumu, but follows Sakusa to the changing room.  

If he had looked back, he would have noticed Meian-san’s raised eyebrows, Bokuto and Hinata’s open mouths and Shion and Adriah’s wide eyes and Barnes scoffing, “Best friends, my foot!” 

But he doesn’t look back and only stares at the mop of black curls ahead of him. 

 

***

Even after all that, Atsumu still doesn’t want to tell Sakusa about his feelings. Osamu yells at him every night to stop being an insecure idiot and smack a kiss right on Sakusa’s mouth, but they both know that Atsumu can never do that. Getting closer to Sakusa somehow makes him feel more reluctant about confessing. Earlier, he was only worried about Sakusa hating him and destroying their team. Now, he’s worried about losing an important friendship too. 

 

And so, Atsumu just pines everyday and loses his mind over this dilemma. 

 

Atsumu is lost in his gloomy thoughts one day, and the weather reflects his mood too, there are dark clouds gathered in the sky, signalling a storm. He waits outside for Sakusa after practice, but when Sakusa approaches him, he looks at Atsumu with those sharp eyes of his and says, “Miya. I’m not walking home with you today.” 

Atsumu gives him a surprised glance. “Why, does Omi-kun have a date again?” he asks with a fake teasing smile but Sakusa only rolls his eyes at that. 

“No. I’m getting my house pest controlled so I have to stay out tonight. I’m booking a hotel room.” 

“Oh.” says Atsumu. Then he contemplates this for a moment before cautiously saying, “Hey, Omi-Omi, why don’t ya crash at my place instead? I’ve got Samu’s room for when he comes over. I won’t even take money from ya, ya get the friend discount.” he shoots Sakusa a cheeky grin. 

Sakusa looks apprehensive. He hesitates. 

Atsumu laughs. “Tell ya what, let’s stop at the store near my house an’ pick up all the cleanin’ supplies ya want, then we can sanitize my place so it’s fittin’ for Yer Majesty’s standards.” 

Sakusa stares at him for a moment and then nods. “Yeah, okay.” And then he starts walking. 

“Whoa, whoa, just like that?” says Atsumu, surprised. 

“I wouldn’t mind if you beg a little.” replies Sakusa haughtily. 

“Oh yes, ya would enjoy that quite a lot, huh?” Atsumu's smirk is coy and Sakusa makes the ‘tch’ sound. 

“I didn’t mean it like that, you dirty-minded simpleton.” 

"Oooh, simpleton, huh? Omi-kun uses such fancy words!” 

“Shut up, Miya.” 

“As ya wish, Yer Majesty.” 

 

They enter the shop and Atsumu notices how Sakusa’s mood shifts. He looks almost excited, the way he is before important matches. Atsumu suppresses a fond smile. He thoroughly enjoys prancing around the store with Sakusa though, Sakusa narrowing his eyes to look at various cleaning products, and telling Atsumu which one is the best. Atsumu has never heard him talk so much. It’s always Atsumu who’s babbling nonsense between them. When they pay for the supplies and start walking towards Atsumu’s apartment, there’s a barely noticeable spring in Sakusa’s step. 

 

Atsumu’s apartment isn’t immaculately clean like Sakusa’s probably is, but it’s decent enough. There’s no food or clothes lying around at least, like Bokuto often has in his room. His coffee table has a pile of notes though, the ones he made while watching volleyball games and he sees Sakusa stare at it curiously. Atsumu suddenly realises how awkward it is to be like this with Sakusa. They’ve shared rooms in hotels before, but this, having Sakusa alone in his own home, feels different. But nice. 

 

He shows Sakusa around the house and lets him shower first. He lays out a pair of shorts and a plain white t-shirt for Sakusa to wear afterwards, trying hard not to dwell on how he’s going to deal with Sakusa wearing his clothes the entire night.  

Atsumu decides to make ramen for dinner and he’s done cutting up the veggies when Sakusa emerges in his kitchen with just a towel around his hips with Atsumu’s t-shirt and shorts in his hands, demanding to know if they’re washed. 

Atsumu manages to tell him that they are, but his brain has already melted in his skull at the sight of Sakusa’s bare body. Not to mention those moles that take away Atsumu’s sanity every time.  Seeing Sakusa wear his clothes isn’t much better for his sanity, but he decides to bear with it somehow. 

 

They have dinner while watching TV (they argue about what to watch - Atsumu wants to watch Naruto, Sakusa wants to watch documentaries, they finally settle on watching Howl’s Moving Castle). They don’t sit too close on the couch, both sitting comfortably at the opposite ends, but Atsumu doesn’t mind. It started raining outside a while ago, and now it’s pouring. There are flashes of lightning every now and then, along with the roar of storm-clouds and Atsumu smiles because he loves storms, loves how wild they are and how free and how awesome. Sakusa, who was uncomfortable at first, seems at ease now. Atsumu wonders if this is what dating Sakusa will be like, easy and comforting despite storms raging outside.  

 

Then they unpack all the supplies they’ve bought and start cleaning Osamu’s room so that Sakusa can sleep there without worrying about cockroaches. Yes, he still remembers what Atsumu said about Samu eating in his room at the training camp in high school. Atsumu blasts his favorite playlist on his mini speaker and sings along with the songs, terribly off-key as they wipe the floor and the bed and everything. Sakusa shoots him annoyed looks and growls at him to shut up, but Atsumu catches him humming along with the tune every now and then. 

 

By the time they’re done cleaning, Atsumu is sleepy and exhausted. He hands Sakusa a spare toothbrush and they both brush their teeth. Atsumu files his nails and applies hand-cream, Sakusa’s gaze following him closely. 

 

Atsumu digs out a duvet and a pillow for Sakusa and then jumps on his way to the other room as thunder booms loudly. He makes his way towards the balcony and shudders at the cold air but watches in fascination as the wind blows wildly and rain drops make a loud noise when they slam on roofs. 

“Do you like watching storms?” says Sakusa from behind him. Atsumu doesn’t take his eyes off the sky. The clouds look the exact shade of Sakusa’s eyes now. 

“Yes,” he says eventually, “Samu was afraid of ‘em, but I always loved ‘em.” 

He looks at Sakusa from the corner of his eye as he comes and stands next to him, arms hugging his body because of the chilly air. 

“I can see why,” says Sakusa and it sounds like he’s smiling, “they’re chaotic, like you.” 

“Does Omi-kun not like storms then?” Atsumu's voice is almost drowned out by the rain. 

“Why wouldn’t I?” muses Sakusa, “Chaos is entertaining every now and then.” 

“Is that yer subtle way of tellin’ me I’m entertainin’?” says Atsumu with a grin. 

Sakusa, who appears lost in his thoughts, doesn’t say anything for a long time. 

“Atsumu,” he says suddenly and Atsumu turns to look at him properly. “Am I really your best friend?” 

Atsumu is taken aback. 

“Answer me seriously please. No dramatic nonsense.” orders Sakusa and Atsumu sighs. 

“My first best friend is Samu ‘course, even though he’s an asshat. Then after him, it’s probably Aran-kun or maybe Sunarin even though Sunarin’s even more annoyin’ and assholish than Samu,” Sakusa rolls his eyes at that, “but if we’re talkin’ about this team, yer probably the one who I’m closest to,” admits Atsumu, “Yer the only one who’s seen me cry.” 

“Oh.” is all Sakusa says to that. Atsumu doesn’t know what to make of that. 

“Ya don’t sound too happy, Omi-Omi,” he says teasingly, “Is it really that bad, bein’ my best friend?”

His tone is light but he knows that Sakusa can sense the weight behind that question. 

Sakusa looks at Atsumu, long and considering. 

“Yes,” he says finally, “it is.” 

Atsumu doesn’t think he succeeds in hiding how hurt he is by that. His heart feels like it’s filled with lead again, like the day Sakusa told him he had a date. Atsumu doesn’t really care if others call him an asshole or a jerk or hate him, but hearing Sakusa say that he doesn’t like being a close friend to Atsumu is a low blow. 

“Wow, Omi-kun,” he starts with a laugh that sounds as fake as it is, “I know yer blunt, but this actually hu-” 

This actually hurts, he wants to say, but he can’t get the words out. 

Because Sakusa’s mouth is on his own, effectively blocking out all the words. 

 

Atsumu is frozen at first, like he always is whenever Sakusa touches him. 

But Sakusa isn’t just touching him this time, he’s actually kissing him, holy fuck, Sakusa Kiyoomi is kissing him, and, this is definitely a dream, thinks Atsumu, because it always is. 

Thunder booms loudly again and Atsumu’s mind snaps back to reality and Sakusa is still there, still kissing him, probably wondering if Atsumu is broken or something since you’re supposed to kiss back the person who’s kissing you, especially if the person is the one you’ve been dying to kiss for months. 

Still in a daze, Atsumu’s arms find their way to Sakusa’s shoulder and he tangles his fingers in the soft black curls, and oh wow, how he had longed for this.   

Sakusa’s lips are surprisingly soft for someone who scowls and frowns all the time. Atsumu pulls him close, so close, closer than possible, and he never wants to leave Sakusa’s lips. 

 

By the time they pull away, they’re both panting and shuddering, but Atsumu doesn’t care about the cold at all. He meets Sakusa’s dark eyes that mirror the stormy sky and with fingers still entangled in his curls, asks him breathlessly, “Why’d ya do that?” 

 

“I could smell your toothpaste,” says Sakusa with a dimpled smile and Atsumu grins, wild and messy like the storm outside, as he leans up to kiss Sakusa once again.

 

*** 

And now that they’re dating, Astumu thinks that he couldn’t ask for more from his life. 

(And that’s something, since he’s Atsumu and he always wants something more). 

 

Sakusa still calls him an idiot. He still calls him Miya in front of everyone, but whispers Atsumu when they’re exchanging minty-toothpastey kisses. 

Sakusa lets their team members pat his back when he lands a nasty spike, but Atsumu’s the only one he high-fives when they’ve put sanitizer on their hands. 

He still listens to Atsumu’s worthless rants on their way home, but sometimes rambles about his favorite documentaries too. 

 

Atsumu has a startling epiphany one day, when he realises that maybe, just maybe, he likes Sakusa as much as he likes volleyball and gets hit in the face by one (again).

Because the noise that Sakusa makes when Atsumu kisses him roughly on his lips, his jaw, his collarbone is just as wonderful as the noise the crowd makes when he pulls a mean setter dump. 

Because every brush of Sakusa’s fingers in his hair when he’s lying on the sofa with his head in his boyfriend’s lap (after both of them have showered, of course) is just as satisfying as the brush of a Mikasa volleyball when he sets it to the spikers. 

Because every smile that Sakusa gives him is just as maddening as the feeling he gets when he’s the MVP. 

And because, being with Sakusa makes him just as happy as playing volleyball does; truly, fully, wholly, completely. 

 

***

Miya Atsumu has never loved anything more than volleyball. Well, maybe not never; now that he’s twenty three, if you ask him what his favorite thing in the entire universe is, he’ll definitely lie to you and say that it’s volleyball. He'll never admit that there's a certain someone called Sakusa Kiyoomi who he loves just as much as he loves volleyball (maybe, just maybe, he loves him an eenie-weenie, teenie-tiny bit more too).