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but my lungs feel so small

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Thirteen

Ushijima’s burial is a quiet affair. It makes sense, a small funeral pyre and lowered heads, a humble sort of thing that fits the man at the center of it all. You’re standing at the side, mouth curled down in a frown as you watch Makoto gather her bones in a fragile bundle, skin and nerves working overtime trying not to break down. You don’t need to see her expression to know how she feels, the hollow, heavy sensation of loss takes residence between your ribs and claws at the innermost corners of your tattered soul. You feel that sensation every day, carrying the weight of grief on your hunched over shoulders every moment you’re awake.

Your mother, your father, your friends. Ushijima. Iwaizumi. You bite the inside of your mouth, brows knit and furrowed. Only Iwaizumi is not dead, is he? If you raise your head you will see him on the other side of the funeral pyre standing next to Oikawa, a bit skinnier than before but very much alive. Very much the reason your father is dead. In some way, the reason Ushijima is dead, too. You blink, angry tears making your vision blurry. You do not want to taint the moment with the grieving of the man you thought Iwaizumi was, not when there is a tangible, mind numbing sort of loss huddled on the inside of your body already.

The fire in front of you crackles and pops in a low sort of unassuming way, as if it doesn’t want to disturb you with its presence. The inside of your throat feels scratchy and sore and you cannot get the image of a bright, shimmering shield out of your mind. Another death to add to the talley, another cut into the battered organ beating in your chest. You want to break down, to scream and break things and throw tantrums. You look around, etching the faces of strangers weeping into the back of your mind. So much sorrow, so much destruction. This village only knew peace before you came here. You feel like a parasite. 

At once you know what you have to do. If you’re hoping to win back your kingdom, to retake a throne that wasn’t ever meant for you, to be a ruler..

You need to start acting as one.

 


 

Iwaizumi Hajime was your first crush. A picture perfect knight in shining armor; a kind and handsome young knight who helped his peers and respected his superiors. When he arrived at court he’d been living in an orphanage since he was very young, and you don’t think he really truly knew how royalty worked. He treated you like a person, like something more than a trophy or an inconvenience and maybe that’s why you fell for him so hard, so fast. You remember fantasizing about it, about the love story of the princess and the shield; an impossibly tragic, tragically beautiful love. 

It was the most exciting thing you could imagine. An impossibility, but that was the core of it, right? You already knew the path you were destined to walk, but the silly, romantic idea of true love against the odds made every step a bit easier.

Until you got older. You had sort of assumed that the feelings would fade as you grew into your role as a princess and as the marble art piece of royalty. You met with many suitors over the course of your teenage years; some of them handsome and cruel, others humble in appearance and soft in demeanor. Some were hard passes, some were okay. There were one or two of them you could even kind of imagine yourself with, if you squinted hard enough.

But they were not Iwaizumi. And the crush didn’t fade. It blended into the background, ebbed and flowed among the pressure of royalty and resentment of your nonexistent role in the hierarchy of your own life, but it persisted. He was a safe haven, a comforting presence in the monumental chaos that was your life and even when the sensation of your emotions stopped overwhelming your senses it was nice to know it was always there. 

That he was always there.

Iwaizumi Hajime stands before you in the wooden house you’ve made your home and you wonder how you ever loved him. It is as if the wild and intense hatred you feel somehow reaches the entire backlog of your life, erasing every moment of comfort and affection you felt for the man. Next to him stands Oikawa and if you’re being honest you can’t stand to look at either of them. 

You remember them at the castle. Inseparable friends, always sparring together, always talking in low voices muttering words not meant for anyone else. You’d been jealous, you remember. Of both of them. Iwaizumi for penetrating the wall you couldn’t seem to, Oikawa for taking up your friend’s time. You’re so angry you feel like throwing up. Betrayal coats the inside of your mouth, the taste sour on your tongue. You hear Oikawa saying your name and the sound makes you grimace. 

Throughout the war you’ve been comforted by the fact that violence never came easy, that death was a last resort not an inclination you had. For the first time in your life you feel like you have the will and the want to kill. It’s a scary thought. 

“Just let me explain,” Oikawa says and if you weren’t so angry you might have considered his soft voice an attempt at de-escalation, at comfort. But as it is, all he sounds is pathetic. 

“Explain!” Your own voice sounds like someone else’s entirely. Octaves above your register, cracking over the syllables as you choke back a laugh. It’s like you’re watching the scene unfold outside your own body, like you’re just an onlooker rather than an active participant. “I think you have had more than enough chances to explain.” 

Like when you asked about the body in the Servant’s Chamber. Like when you were squeezed against the wall of a boat traveling towards the East. Like all the times he berated you, looked down on you, made you feel lesser than him for your blue blood and Royal birth. Like when he— you blink, all too aware of your wet eyes. 

Iwaizumi opens his mouth and you raise your hand in a gesture that feels so like your father it makes you uncomfortable how easy it comes to you. 

“Not a word. I swear I’ll—” ten thousand threats lie on the tip of your tongue and not a single one sounds dangerous enough. “Get out.” 

Oikawa’s mouth is curved in a deep frown. Iwaizumi looks like he wants to cry. Good, you think. You hope they’re suffering. Oikawa looks like he wants to say something, but he thinks better of it and instead grips Iwaizumi’s bicep in a tight grasp, leading him out of the house. 

And then you’re alone. Truly, honestly alone. 

 


 

“He betrayed his people to save you,” Makoto tells you with a heavy voice. She sounds tired, like there’s not much more to her, like she’s about to fall into deep slumber and never wake up again. Her eyes are red-rimmed and swollen but you have not seen her cry once. Maybe she’s got no tears left to cry. You know that feeling all too well. 

She’s the first to visit you after the funeral, after you told Iwaizumi and Oikawa to leave. You don’t know where they went, what they’re doing, but you can’t summon the will to really care. You’re not sure how long it’s been, but you know that when Makoto came knocking with food and wine in a basket your stomach was howling. 

You’ve never had alcohol before, but the dreamy, floating sensation is nice. Your head is clouded, thought too far away to reach and you think that’s just what you need right now. Maybe Makoto needed it too. 

“He’s the reason I needed saving  in the first place,” you counter, chugging the red liquid so fast it almost makes you gag. The taste is stronger than anything you’ve drank before, it takes some getting used to. “He’s the reason my father is dead.” 

Makoto looks conflicted. Like she’s biting her tongue. You wish people would just stop, that they would be honest with you. 

“I think there are many things about the world we’re too small to understand,” she tells you, regarding you with kind and tired eyes. “About the South, about the conflicts of the kingdoms.” She pauses. “About your father.” There’s an implication there that makes you want to yell at her. Your anger and grief wants to throw something, to chew her out for implying something so vicious, for speaking ill of the dead. 

What if he was the one who killed Ushijima, you think. Would Makoto be so quick to forgive then? You don’t ask, of course, because you’re not that cruel, but you’re cruel enough to think it, to let the bitterness of the question deep into your bones.

You can’t. Words get caught in your mouth and for the tenth time in as many minutes you feel like crying. 

“Nothing can justify what Iwaizumi’s actions have brought. Nothing.

“I agree. But we can try to understand it. Not forgive,” she quickly interjects when you open your mouth to protest. “But understand. Aren’t we all results of our circumstances? And he did save you. And he did betray his people. Time and time again, every time he penned a letter he risked his life.”

You don’t think that counts for much, but you’re too tired to argue. You don’t want to talk about Iwaizumi. 

“Ushijima,” you murmur instead, staring at the fireplace. The fire crackles and pops much like the funeral pyre and in your mind you see a brilliant, shining shield. “He— he saved my life. He did something. Something impossible, but—” you turn to look at Makoto. She’s looking right back at you, mouth curled downward in a tragic frown. “He knew magic. Didn’t he?”

“I mean it’s insane, but that’s what it was, right?” You’re rambling, feeling more and more unhinged with each word that comes out of your mouth, but you can’t stop talking. “My hand, too; he somehow took away my injury. Right?”

Makoto sighs, a sort of wistful look on her face. “Wakatoshi…” she says his name as if remembering some fond memory. Something that makes her want to cry and laugh all at once. You think you understand how she feels. “He was very special. When he was young he thought was cursed.” You try to imagine Ushijima as a child, but find yourself coming up empty. He had this air about him, like he’d come to life a fully grown adult. “He had healing abilities, yes,” Makoto confirms after a pause. “Like his mother had.”

“Magic,” you whisper, more to yourself than to Makoto. “I can’t believe it.” You stare at your hands, palms up, and try to imagine being able to soothe pain with just a touch. “I don’t understand why you don’t hate me.” Thinking about Ushijima makes you ache. In the grand scheme of things he was worth so much more than you; he could have done incredible things with his gift if he hadn’t died protecting you. He thought he was cursed, but you must be the cursed one. Leaving nothing but death and destruction in your wake. Makoto’s hand comes to rest at your shoulder, squeezing it until it hurts. She doesn’t speak for a long time, but the touch is comforting despite the way her nails dig into your skin. She inhales loudly. 

“All these burdens are not yours to bear,” she tells you, and it’s enough to kick the air out of your lungs. Something like forgiveness, like acceptance, and you don’t know what to do with it. Do you even deserve it? “We made our own choices. When Tooru fled with you, when I took you in. Wakatoshi, too. Those were our decisions. Now you have to make your own, too.”

She’s right. All this time you’ve let yourself be led. You’ve let others make the decisions for you. Even with the Western proposal you considered just putting the choice into Oikawa’s lap, just so you wouldn’t have to decide on your own. It has to end. 

And Makoto, like the mother that she is, pulls you against her and embraces you. She lets you cry against her, a hand rubbing circles into your back as you weep quietly. She cries too, you can tell, her body quivering and convulsing with grief as you both just sit there for an eternity. 

(“Tell me about Ushijima,” you ask her, eyes closed as she caresses the side of your face, plays with your hair. “Tell me how he was as a child.” 

And Makoto does. She tells you about a soft, gentle boy who loved his mother. About a boy too tall for his age and too kind for the realities of the world. You cry when she tells you how his parents died, laugh when she retells his first attempts with a sword. You feel your heart pound against your ribs, eyes hurting and mouth trembling with every word, every detail of Ushijima’s life. Makoto’s voice is strong and even throughout the entire tale, pride in her voice as she tells you about two boys who became brothers in all but blood.

It’s catharsis. You silently promise never to let his life be forgotten. 

“Try to forgive Tooru,” Makoto whispers, her voice somehow distant as you feel yourself slipping into sleep. “He’s miserable.” 

And despite your fading consciousness, you feel your heart break.)

 




The tension is tangible; heavy and thick and suffocating when Oikawa enters the house the next evening. You’ve kept busy the entire day, surrounding yourself with people and making sure you’re never alone. Hinata and Kageyama seem to be adjusting as well as one might expect, the former more so than the latter. They’re both slightly paranoid being let loose around a village full of people they’ve been raised to consider their enemies and they keep mostly to themselves, but Hinata in particular does not seem to waver. He’s taken an interest in agriculture, tentatively watching as easterners worked the fields.

Akaashi is getting antsy waiting for a response to his proposal. He tries not to pry, tries not to overstep, but you can tell nonetheless by the way he seeks you out for seemingly no reason, keeping close as if using his very presence as a reminder that you have yet to offer any reply. You think he wants to return back to the West as soon as possible. Maybe he misses his young king. Maybe he’s terrified of what Lev might do if left alone for too long.

Whatever the case, the sun is setting when Oikawa finally corners you, so to speak. You can’t see him from your position on the couch, but you can sense him standing by the door watching you. You suspected he might seek you out when the opportunity presented itself. In fact, you have prepared for it the entire day; have written monologues in your head and orchestrated entire arguments while going about your day. At the time it had felt like a good idea, but when he actually enters the room and clears his throat your nerves are just a bundle of frazzled jolts of electric currents and you find that you’re just angry.

“I saw you talking to Akaashi,” he says by way of greeting. You frown, willing yourself to sink deeper into the couch. You thought you’d kept pretty good control over his not so subtle stalking throughout the day, but you did not see him when you were talking to Akaashi. You hum, determined to keep your composure. Oikawa pauses, seemingly not sure how to proceed. It’s awkward. It reminds you of days at the castle, of tiptoeing around a man who hated you for no reason you could discern at all. Oh, how the tables have turned, you think bitterly. You hear Oikawa sigh deeply, his footsteps heavy and loud in the silence as he moves from the door to approach you. 

“Hey,” he says, stopping in front of you. He stares you down, but you can’t decipher the look on his face. A few months ago you suspect he would’ve been angry, dissatisfied over not being treated in a certain way. But as much as things feel like they’ve regressed to some irreversible point, they’re not the same. The look on Oikawa’s face is conflicted, caught somewhere between frustration and sadness and guilt. The part of you that remembers his lips on yours and the sensation of butterflies in your stomach wants to just relent then and there, to forgive and forget and pretend that nothing has changed. You can’t. You’ve made up your mind and you have to stick to it. “If you’re mad, just tell me.”

“Does it matter? It is done, regardless of what I think of it, no one factored in my feelings or mental state when it happened anyways,” you wish you didn’t sound so bitter, so vulnerable and angry, but you are. You feel small, too small for your body, for the world, and you can’t stop yourself from feeling that way no matter how hard you try swallowing it. Oikawa doesn’t reply, though you see his jaw twitching as if he’s biting down his words. “You knew the whole time. Who else knew? Did Ushijima know? Makoto?” 

He diverts his gaze and it’s as good an answer as anything he might have said. You feel deflated, hollow, skin clinging to empty bones. It feels obvious, then, how Oikawa truly sees you, how stupid and naive you really are. He saved you, brought you to his home, earned your trust. Propped you up as a ruler fighting in the name of the East. You get up from the couch, skin sizzling with tension as you come face to face with him. 

How tragically pathetic, the two men you ever loved both betrayed you so easily. It hurts to look at him. 

“You know, for someone who claims to hate the Royal family so much, you sure know how to act like them.” 

You try to walk past him, desperate to get away, but Oikawa grabs you by the arm, keeps you in place. “Please,” he says, and you swear there’s a sort of crack in his voice. You stare at him, and he has never looked more vulnerable. He looks at you like he means it, like he’s tearing at the seams. Maybe it’s just your delusional mind trying to appease your wishful thinking, maybe you’re just seeing things that are not there. You’re too angry, too hurt to have a conversation with him. You know that if you try to you’ll just end up saying something you won’t be able to take back. 

So you don’t. 

In all of your encounters, Oikawa has been the proactive one. The one leading the dance, taking the reins, catching you by surprise. You haven’t minded because truly you were never raised to be a proactive person; you were raised to bow your head, follow the lead and look pretty doing it. You twist your arm out of his grip, planting your hands firmly on each side of his face and tug him down. 

There are not many things in your life you feel completely in control over. But at least there’s this. Oikawa's mouth is open in surprise when it meets yours, and for a moment he seems to be completely stunned. It’s kind of awkward, kind of scary, but you’ve come this far and you can’t really back down now. You tug at him again, move your lips against his, eyes closing more because you can’t stand to look at his surprised face anymore than anything else. 

He recovers quicker than you anticipated, arms reaching around your waist and pulling you close as his mouth starts moving. He licks at your bottom lip, cages you against his body as if he’s scared you might change your mind or disappear altogether. Your skin is on fire. It’s such an overwhelming sort of emotion you don’t know where to channel it, and you bite down on his lip, hard. He groans in response, fingers digging into your skin and the feeling grows. All of your anger and frustration melts into this strange, volatile ball of fire in your stomach and though you might be naive and inexperienced, you know what it means.

Suddenly you’re reminded of lessons you had as a teenager. You remember a stern, old woman telling you about… womanly duties . She was the one who prepared you for your time of the month, who told you about consummation. At the time you had been a hopeless romantic, and the whole affair seemed like such a horrible prospect. Tradition, the woman told you, dictates that once a royal wedding comes to a close the royal couple retire to their chambers to consummate the marriage. The woman, of course, is expected to have kept pure, and part of the tradition is to take the bedding from the wedding night and preserve it as a token. The implication was clear. She even added in a horror story about a woman who did not bleed on her wedding night. Oh the terror, the absolute horror when the help came in the morning after and the sheets were as pristine and white as the night before. 

You step back, pulling Oikawa with you. Fumbling backwards in the direction you think the bedroom is, hands toying with the neck of his shirt. 

“What are you doing?” He mumbles against your mouth, stumbling along as you pull. 

“What does it look like?” You retort, giving his shirt an extra tug as if to accentuate the point. He stares down at you, standing his ground. You feel as if you’ve been doused in cold water, horrified that maybe you’ve misread some signs. “Do you.. Do you not want to?”

“Are you insane?” He says, and you’re not sure what he means. He leans down, kisses your cheeks, your nose, your mouth. “I, uh, I thought you were mad.”

“I am mad,” you tell him, and at once you feel completely exposed. You feel naked and transparent in a way you’ve never felt before. Being honest and genuine was never an option for you, not when you were a princess and not when you were a runaway. Truth is a weapon, and you’ve been taught to wield it well. “I’m so angry I’m about to burst. I’m so sad I feel like if I start crying I will never stop. It’s just-- it’s too much. I can’t, right now. Please.” It’s an important moment, and you don’t want to spend it fighting with him. You don’t tell him that.

“Okay,” Oikawa whispers, leaning down once more to put his mouth on yours. Slower now, more deliberate. Like he’s trying to ease your worries, make you forget your troubles. He can’t, of course, because there is too much, too much going on inside your head. But it helps. In small, inconceivable ways, it helps. And if only for a little moment you are at peace. Oikawa’s hands drop to your waist, sneaking underneath the hem of your shirt and his fingertips are on your skin, pressed against your stomach. It paralyzes you for a moment, the touch so foreign and fantastical you can’t even think straight. Oikawa nudges you carefully, tentatively, pulls you out of your thoughts. He kisses you lightly, featherlight, as if he’s afraid to break you, pushes you gently past the threshold to the bedroom. 

All of your life you’ve been told that you’re a prize to be won. To be conquered, to be taken. Oikawa lets his hands wander, pushing your shirt up your body. He’s not taking anything from you, you realize. It’s not this huge, important thing that someone can steal away, that would reduce your worth. His fingertips trace the curves of your breasts and you shiver. And you want more. You want more, you want him everywhere and it’s such a powerful feeling and it’s your own decision and in that moment you feel like the most powerful person in the world. And it doesn’t matter if it’s just a war thing, if it’s just this byproduct of the fear of death and tension of impending battle. It’s the world. Oikawa removes your shirt completely, looks at you like you’re an invaluable masterpiece and it’s the entire world.

“You’re—” Oikawa catches himself, swallows his words as if he wasn’t aware he had started to speak. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” you murmur, your stomach burning as you grasp onto the front of his shirt, pulling him with you as you sit down on the bed. Your heart is pounding as Oikawa stands before you, grabbing his shirt by the hem and pulling it over his head. You’ve seen shirtless men before, watching the knights practice in the yard during hot summers. Even the man standing in front of you right now. It’s different, though, when it’s just for you. When it’s private. When he takes your hands and places them on his chest, leans over to climb on top of you on the bed. You feel his heartbeat against your palm. Hard, fast, erratic; just like your own.

His exhale comes as a shiver across your skin, fanning over your face as he bends down to kiss you. The silence is too loud, your bones too big, your skin too hot. You feel his skin beneath your fingertips, muscles tightening and tending at your touch. You want to commit it all to memory, to trace every line, every scar, every inch of skin with your hands. His own creep up your sides, one hand cupping your breast fully and squeezing with an unsure hand. 

You’re on even ground here, unlike when he’s teaching you to fight with a sword or when you’re a princess and he’s a knight. You’re just you and he’s just Oikawa. And when you press your pelvis up against his and he exhales sharply into your mouth before retaliating by grounding against you even harder, you’re equals. And it’s nice. It’s scary, but it’s nice. 

You’ve read romance novels before, you know how sex works. You know about the frenzied passion of long lost lovers and impossible partners, about the rush of lust and the heat of lovemaking. Somehow it’s not at all like that. Somehow it’s just a slow and steady sort of thing. You explore the expanse of Oikawa’s stomach before letting your hand travel down to the waistband of his pants, he presses sloppy, wet kisses to your cheekbone, your neck, your shoulder. You press your palm against his erection and he groans against your skin, bites into your flesh and breathes through his nose. You repeat the action, harder, and he curses. He kisses down your neck, your collarbone, your breast, tongue dragging over your nipple and eliciting a gasp out of you that drags itself along your throat. 

He must like that, you think, because he does it again, thumb playing with the other nipple as he puts his mouth on your breast and sucks. You arch your back up in a completely involuntary movement and you feel his teeth around your hardened nub. There’s an ache in your abdomen that only seems to grow more impatient and you close your hand around the shape of his cock, feel it twitch under your touch. You want him to slow down, to hurry up, you want time to stop completely and let you wrap your head around the moment properly. Oikawa continues his descent down your body, leaving a trail of kisses down your stomach. 

He pauses at your hips and you grab at his shoulders, tension makes your skin fizzle and buzz with electricity as he moves his hands to undo the buttons of your pants. He slides them down your legs, his breath hot against your abdomen. You’re nearly naked, as bare as you’ve ever been in front of anyone before. You thought that would make you feel vulnerable somehow, but instead you feel empowered. He hooks his fingers in your underwear, pulls it down and you’re exposed. His mouth moves down, licking and sucking and prodding at flesh and skin with careful enthusiasm. 

He licks at your entrance and you moan, fingers digging into the flesh of Oikawa’s shoulders as if to anchor yourself. It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before, like flashes of lighting and a mix of pale greens and blues and yellows behind your eyelids. He’s emboldened by your reaction, repeats the gesture with more force. Broader strokes, up and down your cunt until he hits a spot that makes every muscle in your body tense and spasm. 

“Oh god,” you exhale, voice cracking. Oikawa makes a sound that sounds almost like a laugh, and if you weren’t so distracted by his wicked tongue you might have reprimanded him for it. 

And then— he inserts a finger, the digit sliding easily into you, lubricated by your own juices. It’s a strange feeling, somehow filling and uncomfortable all at once. It makes your head clouded and your breathing uneven and Oikawa pauses, looks up at you. It’s such a filthy sight, his head between your thighs, his face red and his eyes dark. 

“Are you okay?” He asks, his voice low and raw. “Does it hurt?” 

“No,” you reply, embarrassed to find your own voice stuttering. “Don’t— don’t stop.” You hope you don’t sound as needy as you feel. If you do, Oikawa has the grace not to mention it. He buries his face between your thighs, goes back to his ministrations as if he wants nothing more. He slides his finger almost all the way out of you, slides it back in. It feels a bit less intruding, a bit more pleasant, and you jerk your body against him. He repeats the action. Faster and faster, licking and sucking and biting at your cunt while he moves his hand. 

“More,” you plead, head too filled with clouds to register how you sound, and he inserts another finger. You gasp, shuddering, feel yourself clamp around his digits. It’s filling, but it’s not enough. You want more. You want him. “Oikawa,” you whisper. “Please. I need you.” 

Later you might regret how desperate you sound, how dangerously close you are to spilling words and confessions you really do not need to voice out loud, but Oikawa groans against you and it does not matter. He removed his fingers from your cunt and you find yourself missing him. He props himself up, staring at you like he can’t quite believe it. He’s back on top of you in a matter of seconds, body pressed against yours and mouth on yours with a hunger that seems almost uncharacteristic. You can taste something foreign on his tongue. Yourself, you realize. Your own juices. It’s a strange thought, but you don’t have time to dwell on it, not when he grinds his erection against you and bites at your lip. 

You grab at his pants, fingers sneaking past the waistband and he lifts his body enough for you to reach the buttons of his pants. He helps you get the garment off, his underwear disappearing with it and then it’s just skin against skin. You move your hand to close it around his cock and he groans, dick twitching in your grip, it’s hard and veiny and new and the sound he makes when you stroke it makes you want to do it more. 

“Tooru,” he says, his voice husky. His face is right above yours, noses touching as he looks down at you with hooded eyes. “Call me Tooru.” 

You’ve never called him that. It feels too intimate, too personal. Only his closest friends and family call him that. It feels like a monumental thing for him to ask you. You, of course, can’t but oblige. 

“Okay,” you murmur. “Tooru.” It feels odd on your tongue but Oikawa smiles and that’s all that matters. He slides a hand down between your bodies, grabbing his cock over your hand and maneuvering it towards your entrance. 

The feeling when he enters you is incomparable to the sensations of his fingers. It’s an overwhelming sense of being filled. Too much, too tight, too big. You wince, and he tenses immediately. 

“You okay?” He kisses you beneath the eye, on the nose, on the side of your mouth. You nod, gritting your teeth. It hurts, aches. “We don’t have to—”

“It’s fine,” you interrupt him, gripping at his shoulders. “Just give me a moment.” He looks at you like he’s afraid. Like he’s uncertain of what to do or how to proceed. You lean up to kiss him, to distract you both as your body adjusts to him. His skin is hot, as hot as your own, and you feel like you’re on fire. “Okay,” you murmur against his lips. “I’m fine. You can— you can move.”

He goes slow at first, unsheathing himself almost completely before grinding back into you in careful motions. It’s strange at first, feeling yourself filling and expanding, muscles clamping around his cock as if your body doesn’t want to be without him. You get used to it faster than expected and then it’s not enough. Not enough friction, not enough pressure. You slide your hands down his back, pressing fingers into his skin to urge him to move faster. He presses haphazard, wet kisses all over your face, whispers your name into your skin like a prayer. 

You feel powerful. More, more, more. You press against him, mirror his movements and he groans, loudly. You want to cage him in your arms, never let him go. The word ‘love’ lies at the tip of your tongue, wants to spill, to be let go, to be breathed into existence but you swallow it, not wanting to ruin the moment. He moves faster, thrusting into you with the sound of skin slapping against skin. Your arms coil around his neck pulling him as close as you can, his skin coated with a layer of sweat as he breathes heavily against you, muscles tensing with every thrust. 

You want to remember this. The overwhelming, intense feeling of him, the way he bites at you, claws at you, buries himself into you like he knows nothing else. The way his smell mingles with yours and his sounds echo in the darkness. No matter what happens, you’ll remember this. “Tooru,” you murmur, and he looks at you. And it’s the world. The entire world, captured in the moment your eyes lock and he looks so bright. He kisses you, slowly and with meaning. It doesn’t match the fervor in his body or the way his hands grab at you with hunger. It makes you forget yourself, makes you melt. 

“I can’t,” he near whimpers. “I’m gonna—”

“Don’t stop,” you tell him, your own voice a complete stranger to your ears. “Don’t stop.” And he doesn’t. He moves to grab your hips and pounds into you until all you see is white and he releases a long, guttural groan, jerking and twitching against your body. He grabs your hand, intertwining his fingers with yours hard enough to hurt. 

The aftermath is a sweaty, sticky mess and two bodies gasping for air. Oikawa rolls to the side, one leg slung over yours, still clasping your hand. He doesn’t let go. You don’t want him to. 

“Can I.. can I stay?” He asks, and even with what you’ve just done it’s the most vulnerable, intimate he’s ever sounded. 

“Yeah.” 

He curls up on your side, his free hand guiding you towards him as he plants a kiss to your forehead. 

He’s asleep within minutes. 

 


 

Getting free from under Oikawa’s body without waking him up turns out to be somewhat of a difficult task. The first attempt sees you more tangled in his long limbs than before and the second leaves you snug enough to almost fall asleep yourself. There’s an ache in your body that doesn’t feel wholly unpleasant and it takes all the willpower you’ve got to leave the comfortable warmth of the bed and Oikawa’s embrace.

God if your etiquette teacher could see you now. Sleeping with a commoner. The thought makes you smile despite yourself, despite the looming knowledge that this is probably the last time you’ll ever be here, the last time you’ll feel free in the way that having sex with Oikawa made you feel. You glance over at his sleeping body while getting dressed, entranced by how soft his features look when not burdened by a furrowed brow or a frown. He looks so young. You find yourself rooted to the spot, watching him quietly for a moment wishing you could stay. And then he stirs and you’re reminded that you’re on borrowed time as it is.

With one last glance at the man sleeping in your — his, actually, you remind yourself; this was his before you came here and will be his again once you leave — bed, you exit the room and the house and you exhale.

 


 

It is dark outside, night blanketing the eastern village. The air is crisp and almost cold, but you feel hot, smoldering, burning up from the inside. You follow the lights coming from the western tent, feeling very much like you’re walking towards your own beheading. It’s not so bad, you tell yourself. Lev is a friend, a thoroughly good person, you will be happy enough in the West. You’ve always wanted to travel, to see all the edges of the world, and at least you won’t be alone. 

Hinata and Kageyama sit on the ground outside of the tent muttering among themselves. They look up at you when you approach them; Kageyama with a tentative but much less hostile look than the first time you tried to speak to him after his capture, Hinata with what can only be described as compassion. He’s not the most clever guy, you’ve concluded, but he’s strangely attentive. There’s no doubt in your mind that he knows that this is not what you wanted.

Hinata gets up, dusting off the back of his pants and confirms your suspicions. “You don’t have to do this, you know,” he tells you. “There’s other options.” He doesn’t list off any options, and you both know why. This is the best, the easiest, the surest way to win back the capitol without bloodshed. Without drama. You will face much less scrutiny with Lev by your side than you would alone. 

And if you’re being honest, you just can’t stand the thought of staying, not anymore. 

“It’s fine,” you wave it off, blinking rapidly three times. “I’m fine. Thank you for coming with me.” Kageyama looks like he might object to that, but he doesn’t get the time to, because Akaashi chooses that moment to emerge from the tent, a candle in his left hand. 

“I thought I heard voices,” he says. He looks a bit tired, a bit rough around the edges. “Are you ready to go? Have you said your goodbyes?” Akaashi had not questioned why you wanted to leave at night when you asked him to, and for that you appreciate him. You wonder if he knows, if he understands, or if he was just being courteous. It doesn’t matter, you suppose, you’re still leaving. Leaving Makoto, leaving Oikawa. 

You hope it might finally bring some peace to their village. The western soldiers will stay until the war is over, to keep them safe and to keep an eye on the traitor they are housing. You’re not sure what to do about Iwaizumi yet and you intend not to figure it out until you absolutely have to. Just thinking about him makes you feel ill. 

“Yeah,” you reply, sucking in as much of the eastern air as your lungs allow. Maybe, you think, for the last time. “I’m ready.”