If someone had asked Suna Rintaro how his life was, he would have said: fine . That wasn’t properly a lie. Suna's life was good. He was a renowned professional photographer with a very nice apartment in Tokyo. Surprisingly, he had friends and, the icing on the cake, a charming, attractive, and successful fiancé.
Having Miya Osamu as his boyfriend (and his future husband) was his greatest achievement. It wasn’t a secret that he had been in love with the youngest of the Miya twins since high school, but it wasn't until long after that they managed to get together. A little more to settle together and a little more to commit. That had made him very happy. Things had been slow; they had given themselves the time to mature and thus be able to get together. Osamu had compared them to vegetables that were gathered from the fields to make a good home-made dish.
Suna wanted to believe that he was different from who he had been in high school. He wasn’t lazy but he was gentler. He spoke once every two weeks with his parents and sent many text messages to his younger sister. And most important of all, he had been able to maintain a functional relationship with his fiancé since he was not as "emotionally constipated" as someone had once told him.
In comparison, Osamu was practically the same as in high school. Perhaps less serious and more relaxed. Suna believed that it was the consequence of being in a different city than Atsumu. With his move to Tokyo, he had even lost his accent. Although it always came out when Osamu got angry. The older twin had been in professional leagues since he left high school. Sometimes, Atsumu would tease his twin for that, but Suna would give him a scathing comment and Atsumu would react like a small child, and then, the conversation would change the subject. Suna would glance sideways at Osamu to see his reaction, but he would find nothing but his blank stare or a slight crease on his forehead. Despite Osamu's stoic response, Suna had learned to read the small hints of emotion on his face. Maybe not to the point of twin telepathy (that shit was terrifying), but he could see how frustrated Osamu was. However, Suna didn't know if it was from Atsumu's words or if it was just the food.
When Osamu joined the Schweiden Adlers, the yearning, that had been plaguing Suna since Osamu's graduation from college, disappeared. Osamu received good offers from various professional teams across the country, even the Black Jackals contacted him to have the Miya duo on his team as in high school. However, Osamu had chosen the white eagles. This pissed Atsumu off like never before, even more than when Osamu told him that he wanted to go to university in Tokyo in his third year. That news ended in a bad fight over the phone. Suna appreciated that they were in different cities. That surely would have ended in a fistfight.
"He'll get over it," Osamu said after yelling at the top of his lungs at his twin over the phone for half an hour.
Suna just didn't have the energy to contradict him, so he nodded and kept going through the photos that he had to deliver for the magazine. Osamu went to the kitchen to vent his anger on some chicken breasts. Suna didn’t complain about Osamu's anger if he got a delicious dinner.
That night, they made it wearing Osamu's new white shirt. Suna was grateful that it wasn’t a difficult color to wash. However, when Osamu fell asleep, Suna ran his fingers through the silky material, dreaming of a T-shirt of the same material, perhaps a different color, but with his name on it.
So yes. Suna's life was good .
However, sometimes , he wondered what he would do if he hadn't become a photographer. He might have kept playing. Perhaps . Suna's coexistence with volleyball hadn’t been completely cut off since he had played a year at the University until the pressure of work and subjects had been too much to continue doing so. When he graduated, he began working for a sports magazine where he took pictures of various athletes, including professional volleyball teams and even high school teams. Sometimes, just sometimes , he would see the teams playing and miss the feel of the ball hitting his hand, the smell of pomade and salonpas, the desperation and anger in the enemy's eyes through the net, the food after the game with the team, hell , even the grueling uphill runs in practice. And even at times, he would envy Osamu a little for living this life. Suna knew that he was selfish since it hadn’t been anyone other than him who had decided to quit volleyball. But only sometimes. At these thoughts, Suna would shake his head for being so stupid and continue to give directions to the players so that the shots were good.
However, Suna knew that he wasn’t the only one who, sometimes , had a bad day. Sometimes Osamu would throw himself on their big bed after a grueling day of practice or a crushing defeat and would say that he hated volleyball.
"You don't mean it ..." Suna replied, massaging Osamu's black scalp. He had stopped dyeing it at University.
Osamu didn’t answer.
Despite all this, Suna had Osamu and Osamu had Suna. That was enough. Right?
Suna did not want to do it, not really. Becoming the coach of a children's volleyball team wasn't exactly what he had in mind when he went to take some pictures of the new community center, yet there he was. Suna had refused. He wasn’t good with children. He wasn't good at teaching either: he had no patience and he wasn't exactly a warm person. However, after watching the children play, after the pleas of Momo (who was the director of the center and who recognized that he was an ex-volleyball player), and the parents of the children, Suna accepted.
At first, Suna only did it to shake them off. If the manager, the parents, and the children coped with him, they would see that he wasn’t a suitable person to be a coach. However, Suna grew fond of the children and even the other trainers and managers. They reminded him of the innocence and fun of the game. In the end, Suna ended up staying because he wanted to.
"Couchie!" a little girl called Suna.
"Yes?" Suna replied, he still wasn't used to being called that.
"Teach me how to do that!" the girl, Sora, said, pointing to some older boys practicing serves.
Suna snorted. "You are still too young to do that," Suna said, but the girl pouted, threatening to shed tears. Suna sighed, defeated. He didn't need the parents and another coach from the center looking at him weird for making Sora cry. "Okay."
The girl recovered quickly and smiled. Suna knew, theoretically, how jump serves functioned, even though he had never done one in his life. However, his students didn’t have to know this.
“But you must practice spikes first, okay? I'll show you jump serves later. " Suna negotiated.
Sora smiled and went back to the court where the children were playing. With a sigh of relief, Suna turned his attention back to where the older ones were playing.
"Keigo, watch your posture." Suna squared his shoulders, the boy imitated him. "Ando, keep your arms steady."
"Yes, couchie!" children exclaimed and continued playing when a father, who was acting as referee, blew the whistle.
A vibration in his pants bag caught his attention. Suna unlocked it to see a message from Osamu inviting him to dinner out since his practice had ended earlier. According to the message, the coach was pious that day for the Adlers victory last weekend in a practice match. Suna bit his lip. Suna wanted nothing more than to go with Osamu; however, the practice had just begun and there was still a group of teenagers who wanted to practice next hour. Suna was covering the shift of another coach, who had gotten sick. Suna couldn't leave, he had a commitment to the children. He had a commitment to volleyball. Plus, there was the little detail that he hadn't told Osamu that he had been coaching at the center for a month and a half. Suna didn't know why he hadn't told him, there just hadn't been a chance. Suna would tell him later.
I'm sorry. I'll be late. My boss asked me to do a last-minute edit.
Suna locked his phone after sending the message and went back to training.
Suna felt bad after lying and not being able to have dinner with Osamu, so he bought a lot of candies, cookies, and cakes at a bakery near the community center. Osamu received them with great pleasure.
Despite the big late dinner, bought by Osamu in a restaurant on the corner, with his boyfriend, Suna's thought was on the court. There was a boy, Hiro, who was an outstanding libero; however, he had said that he had not been on a team in middle school and he doubted getting into one in high school because it would surely be boring. Suna knew, from the way the boy said it while he was looking at his nails, that this wasn’t true. The boy was just scared, Suna knew this from his own experience. He had to do something to motivate him.
"Rin?" Osamu called.
"Yes?" Suna replied, popping out of his head. Osamu watched him as he struck his chopsticks like castanets.
"Hoshiumi told me that he knows someone who can introduce us to a florist who would give us a big discount," Osamu repeated and Suna looked at the shrimp inside his yakisoba. The truth was he wasn’t in the mood to discuss wedding details. "I asked ya’ if you wanted to schedule a visit or just want to see the catalog online?"
Suna considered that for a moment. However, he had no reason to travel somewhere, if Suna remembered correctly, in Nagano to see flowers. Also, they had tight schedules, it wasn’t like they could travel the day they wanted.
"The digital catalog is fine, I guess," Suna answered, sipping his water.
Suna guessed that this didn't please Osamu because his boyfriend made a face.
"Okay." He replied but it didn’t sound agreeable at all.
Suna inhaled. He knew he had ruined it. If Osamu wanted to travel out of town, even to see some flowers, he would have said so. Now he would be the bad guy in the story when he was just thinking the most practical. Suna wanted to apologize and come up with a new plan, because Osamu's stupid ego prevented him from doing so, however, before the words could get out of his mouth, Osamu was faster.
"What?!" Osamu yelled, throwing the clamp into the glass refractory. "Will ya’ recriminate me for what I eat too?!"
Suna backed into his chair, shocked. Suna had never said anything about food to Osamu, if not jokingly about the chuppets since he knew how important food was to him. Suna was tired and his face, which he knew was that of a resting bitch, must have shown something else that Osamu misunderstood and now had yelled at him. Osamu yelled a lot, less than in high school, yes , but not at him. Never him.
Osamu, who was breathing heavily, and now his bangs were covering his eyes, clenched his jaw and stood up. Suna was still staring at his glass of water when he heard the loud slam of his room door.
Suna woke up when he heard his phone vibrating. Suna took it out of his pocket and read a message from his boss. He had to re-edit some photos that hadn’t convinced her. This time for real. Suna sighed. The table for two was left with half-finished plates.
After Suna re-edited the photos and his boss had accepted them, Suna realized it was almost eleven o'clock.
Suna closed his computer and rubbed his eyes. Suna was dying for a cigarette, yet he was on thin ice with Osamu and he couldn't sneak out onto the balcony and smoke one. Suna hadn't been able to quit smoking, a bad habit that he had picked up in college. One of the many things he doesn't know , a voice inside his head said. However, Suna wasn't in the mood to heed the voices in his head either, so he ignored them.
Suna's joints cracked satisfactorily, after-hours sitting, as he stood up. Suna walked to the small table where their dinner was still half-finished and looked at it questioningly. Suna had always liked eating with Osamu. Since high school, they had eaten many times together. Lunches, victory meals, family meals, in coffee shops and restaurants when they were in college… Suna had always considered Osamu a great companion to share a meal. Suna even enjoyed eating chuppets outside a conbini if he was with Osamu. Suna remembered when Osamu expressed his concern about that he didn't know what his last meal would be. Suna laughed at him. However, he thought that no matter what he ate on his last day on Earth, Suna would enjoy it if he could have Osamu at his side.
After storing the leftovers in the fridge and washing the dirty dishes, Suna wondered if Osamu was already asleep. It was close to midnight, so he probably was; however, Suna wondered if he was waiting for him to sleep. Suna knew he needed to give him space when he got angry, but Suna was very tired, and he wanted to sleep in his bed if it was possible.
Suna took a quick shower, thinking an appropriate apology as he washed his hair. Suna put on his sweatpants and brushed his teeth as he looked at his phone, albeit carelessly. Osamu believed that Suna had stopped that bad habit since his previous cell phone had fallen due to his wet flaps and the screen had been smashed into pieces. Suna turned off all the lights before going to sleep. When he got to the room, he just stared at the door. Small drops of cold water fell from the ends of his hair to his bare shoulders. Suna waited there, with his hunched back (another bad habit he couldn't finish shaking off, although everyone, including his younger sister, had scolded him for it), for a long time. Suna sighed before entering.
The first thing Suna noticed upon entering the room was that he was in the dark. Osamu was surely asleep already. At least that's what Suna thought until he saw Osamu shrink even more into his fetal position. Suna closed the door behind him. He walked quietly as possible, maintaining the illusion that Osamu was asleep. Suna put down his cell phone, with the alarm set on his nightstand, and entered his side of the bed (the right one) gently.
Suna loved his blankets. They were soft and warm; they were much better because Osamu was inside them. However, that night, they felt very heavy and cold.
"Samu," Suna called out, in a whisper, after the silence became deafening and the company felt like loneliness. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you feel bad, it wasn't my intention. Also sorry for being late. I will try to be on time. We can also go see flowers if you want to. "
Suna waited for an answer. He waited for what seemed like hours, but it didn't come.
"I love you, Osamu. Goodnight." Suna said and turned around. The image looked like a mirror of longing.
Suna had many flaws and bad habits, however, at that moment, Suna thought that if he could get rid of one, it would be to love Osamu so much. Suna didn't know when he fell asleep, he just remembers seeing the gold of his ring on his finger turning paler.
Suna woke up hearing Osamu's alarm. Suna didn't know why he bothered to set his own alarm if he always woke up to his fiancé's.
"Samu, the alarm." Suna said sleepily.
"Samu." Suna called again when he got no answer and heard the alarm keep ringing. Suna opened one eye and noticed that the side of Osamu's bed was empty. Suna sighed and reached out for his boyfriend's phone to turn it off. Suna pressed the red button and he was finally able to enjoy morning silence. However, after a few moments of peace, the night before returned to Suna, causing his heart to sink. That Osamu wasn’t sleeping. Was it a good or bad sign? Suna was almost sure that Osamu heard his apology from the night before. That counted for something, didn't it? Suna was thinking about whether Osamu would want to have lunch with him when a vibration scared him.
Suna didn't want to read the messages, but there were too many unread and Suna was able to read them perfectly without having to unlock the phone. The text messages were from the captain of the Adlers. He wrote something about Osamu’s performance and health. It was an advice, and a warning, for Osamu. He needed to see a doctor so he could improve his physical and mental condition for the court. Since he had retired early, and his ability had markedly decreased. Suna knew nothing of that. According to him, Osamu had been fine. Maybe a little more irritable and tired, but it was normal for a professional athlete, right? Suna felt bad. He had been so engrossed in his work and being a coach at the community center that he hadn't noticed that in Osamu. Did he feel physically ill? Or maybe it was something mental? Is that why he wanted to travel abroad? Suna didn't want to affect his performance and career even more. Suna didn’t want Osamu to leave what he loved so much.
"What are you doing?" Osamu interrupted from the door. A towel hung from his shoulders even though he didn't look freshly showered. "Are ya’ checking my phone ?!"
Suna didn't react until Osamu snatched the phone from him.
"Why didn't you tell me that you've been feeling bad?" Suna said, apparently interrupting a claim from Osamu.
Osamu clenched his jaw.
"It's not-" Osamu said, struggling with words. His grip on his phone tightened. "Ain’t nothing. Don’t worry."
Suna was incredulous. Suna got up from the bed, to stand in front of Osamu. Suna was a little taller, the same height if he stooped; however, Osamu was wider.
"How can I not be worried?" he claimed it. "That's why we are a couple, a team, you know you can tell me anything." Suna placed his hands on Osamu's shoulders, looking directly. The words stung his mouth, he felt like a hypocrite, but this wasn't about him, it was about Osamu. Suna swallowed and continued, "I don't want you to give up your dream."
Osamu laughed humorlessly.
"Maybe it's not my dream after all." Osamu said, his eyes gray like the sky before a storm, fierce, unforgiving, and very sad.
Suna didn't understand. Osamu had fought so hard; Suna wasn't going to let everything he'd fought for be ruined by a bit of indecision and a losing streak.
"That’s not true," Suna said. "You have fought really hard; we can help you to not give up what you love."
Osamu raised his right hand and pulled Suna's arm away from him. Suna backed away a bit as if he had been punched. Osamu had never shied away from his touch. Osamu didn't push him away. Osamu went with him for comfort, it was not for him that he needed to be comforted. Suna willingly pulled his other hand away from him, slowly retracting them.
"I don’t get it," Suna said, fighting with the feelings that overflowed inside of him. "You love volleyball."
Osamu deflated, defeated.
"No, Suna. I don’t." His last name was like a bucket of ice water on his head. It was a long time since Suna had been called that by Osamu. "Maybe I…"
I didn't love you that much either.
Suna backed away, hurt. Suna swore he heard his heart broke a little. Suna shrugged, even more, his bangs covered his forehead.
"I should go." Osamu said.
Suna froze and only reacted again when his alarm sounded. His feet and legs were numb, his head throbbed. However, these small physical aches didn’t compare to what he felt inside. Suna took two steps to get to the nightstand and turned off his alarm. Suna wished, for a moment, that he could turn off his heart the same way he did with his phone.
The next two weeks were very quiet and awkward. Suna slept on the couch most nights, excusing himself saying he needed to work. In fact, he had been promoted. More pay, yes, but more hours. When he said this to Osamu at one of the few dinners they had eaten together, he replied an emotionless "Congratulations".
Suna kept going to the community center in the afternoons, helping children and living through them. He knew he was pathetic; however, he would rather live through them and the people he photographed, than not experience volleyball at all. Osamu didn't mention anything about quitting volleyball, being tired, or going on a trip. Even the last few weeks he announced that he would be in the gym doing extra workouts with some of his teammates. Suna didn't know what to think about it. Maybe it was good, in a little less than two years it would be the Olympics and Osamu needed to prepare if he wanted to get into the main lineup.
The only intimacy they had had, was a kiss on the forehead that Osamu gave him when he believed that Suna was sleeping. No kisses. No hugs. Not to mention sex. They hadn't spoken either. Suna had brought up the subject several times, but Osamu would excuse himself and leave. However, he hadn't said anything about wanting to cancel the wedding or break up either, so things weren't too bad, right?
Suna was on the edge of him. He didn't know what else to do. He needed to talk to someone. Atsumu was out of the situation, he would surely travel from Osaka to beat him for making his precious brother feel bad, even though this whole situation was mostly his fault. Suna was also not in the mood to call Kita over for a lecture. Suna had tried talking to Matsuda, a reporter and coworker, however, Suna saw how uncomfortable he was and left him for peace. The only option was Aran or Gin. However, Aran was in the United States and the time difference only allowed him to write a long message of support. Gin was on a spiritual retreat or something, so it hadn't been possible to talk to him. At the end of it all, Suna went to a bar and told a bartender who wasn’t interested in his problems. Suna didn't feel better.
Suna knew that he reached his limit when he was talking to his father, of all people, about his love life. Suna called his father on a Friday morning during their lunch break. A pair of green eyes stared back at him from the screen of his phone. Suna told his father everything. He knew that he could always count on him. His father listened carefully to everything his son said and responded with things that Suna already knew he had to do, but he had not been able or willing.
That afternoon, while he was supervising the practices, Suna realized that perhaps he had blocked Osamu. What he had to do was let him spike freely. Suna chuckled inwardly at his own analogy and thought maybe he was a volley freak like the twins. Suna had to be honest with Osamu, they had to speak and Suna had to accept what Osamu had to say. Both had to support each other. Yes, he would do that.
Suna practiced his speech on the way home, thinking about what he should say. Suna had never been very good with words of encouragement or support. He wasn't good at apologizing either. His tongue was always hurtful and sarcastic. It was something he had worked on in recent years. In general, he wasn’t good at speaking, however, he trusted that Osamu would understand what he meant.
When Suna arrived at his apartment, Osamu was already there. Suna was glad, he thought that his fiancé finally wanted to talk. Suna walked over to the sofa Osamu was sitting on, watching the TV screen turned off.
"Hello ..." Suna greeted. His voice was cut off even in his own ears. He hoped he didn't look as pathetic as he felt.
"Where were you?" Osamu asked sharply. His eyes twinkled in the lamplight.
"At work" Suna lied. He hoped Osamu didn't notice the tension on his shoulders.
"Of course," Osamu replied, holding out his cell phone. "So, tell me who is this person who looks identical to you at the community center an hour ago?"
Suna froze. On the screen he could see a photo of him on the center bench, his mouth was open, as if he was shouting some instructions to the players.
"It's me, but-"
"When were you going to tell me?" Osamu claimed, shoving his phone into his back pocket. “Didn't you say we were a team? I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't the only secret you were keeping from me ... "
Suna snapped out of his stupefied state and exploded.
"Are you implying that I am cheating on you?" Suna's face burned with fury. Osamu was doubting about his love. The only undoubted and imperishable thing. “I would never do something like that. If you think that, it's because you don't really know me! " Osamu tried to speak, but Suna cut him off. "If you weren't so locked in your damn bubble and you looked at me, if you were willing to talk, I would have told you!"
"Am I locked up?" Osamu yelled back. “You still live in a high school utopia! Believing I still want the same. Believing that you can get volleyball back through a pathetic act. Believing this isn’t falling apart! "
"Whose fault is it?"
"Mine!" Osamu replied. "I hate my life. I hate my job. I hate all this. " His voice cracked. “And I feel terrible. This ain’t yer fault. You don't deserve this. " Suna backed away, shocked by the words. "As long as everything continues like this, I cannot be happy."
"Why are you doing this to me?" Suna asked, clutching his chest. "I know I'm not perfect. I'm an asshole with a bad personality, but I've always tried to be better for you. "
“Rin, it's not that. Listen."
"I don't want to listen to you. You are a selfish shit, just like your brother. " Osamu tensed. "You know what, I don't think I want to hear you anymore."
Suna removed the engagement ring from his left hand and threw it at Osamu. Suna ran to the door, quickly put his shoes on, and left the apartment, leaving his heart behind. Osamu didn't go after him. Suna wouldn't have wanted it either.
Suna hadn't been used to silence. Not for a long time. The voices of the twins, their friends from the volleyball club, and later Osamu's, had filled his life with noise, light, and color. Suna didn't talk much and most of the time he was reserved, however, he didn't like being alone. Suna thought that he wouldn't be. But there he was, pathetically curled up in Matsuda's chair.
Osamu's words haunted him at night. He listened to his claims, the way he suffered while he said he hated his life. Suna repeated that conversation over and over in his mind without being able to stop. Suna had tried to drown out his thoughts with nicotine, alcohol, and other kinds of things, but he couldn't do it. Suna had been on autopilot for the past few days. His boss told him to take a weekend; Momo, the center manager, told him the same; even Matsuda told him that he didn't look good. Hearing that from a guy who had purple bags under his eyes and a greenish skin tone wasn’t good. Atsumu called him a few times and had texted him too many emojis. Atsumu paused until Suna blocked him.
His sister cheered him up a bit, texting him all the time. Suna had taken some things out of his department when he knew that Osamu was in practice. Suna had a tab in his browser with some apartments near his job. Osamu hadn’t called. He hadn't called him either.
His life sucked and he didn't know what to do about it.
Suna received a call from an unknown number on a Wednesday afternoon. Suna replied, believing that was a call from one of the boy’s parents. However, he encountered something very different.
"Mister Suna Rintaro?" asked a female voice on the other end of the line.
"Yes?" Suna replied, tightly holding his cell phone.
"This is on behalf of the Schweden Adlers technical team," the woman said, Suna thought she could be their manager. "You are Miya Osamu-san's emergency contact, is that correct?"
"Yes," Suna croaked, fear and bile rising his throat. Suna heard a sigh on the other end of the line.
"It is my duty to inform you that Miya Osamu-san had an accident in practice this morning ..."
Suna froze and stopped listening. His head seemed not to connect with his brain. The words coming out of the receiver didn’t register in Suna's head.
"Suna-san?" asked the woman.
Suna didn't reply. He just hung up the phone, took his jacket, and ran off.
Suna didn’t like hospitals. They were too white and bright. Sadness and worry permeated the hallways. Also, the disinfectant irritated his nose. The last time he was in one was at the University. Yet there he was. For Osamu.
The road was a blur. So was finding manager Ume, Osamu's teammates Ushijima, Kageyama and Hoshiumi, and an Adlers assistant coach at the waiting area. Suna was about to throw all his years of new kindness away, but he controlled himself with them. That led him to be in front of Osamu's door fast enough.
What would he say to him? How would Osamu react when he saw him? Would Osamu want to see him? They hadn't seen or spoken to each other in nearly three weeks. However, Suna had thought of him in each of the minutes that they had been apart. Would Osamu have to give up volleyball? According to the few words that Suna managed to grasp from the medical report given by Ume, his injury was bad. However, with rest, physical therapy, and effort, he would be able to recover.
Suna knocked on the door before he regretted it. Suna heard an invitation to pass and opened the door.
The sight of Osamu in bed was the first thing he saw. Suna held his breath, a sling wrapped around Osamu's hand and forearm.
"Rin." Osamu called, snapping Suna out of his trance. "Come in."
Suna removed his gaze from Osamu's arm and entered the room to close the door properly. Suna approached slowly, the small heel of his shoes clicking with each step. Against all odds, Osamu smiled. It was a sad smile, but a smile, after all. Suna couldn't remember the last time he saw Osamu’s smile.
"Come." Osamu called, beckoning Suna to sit on the other side of the bed, the side where his arm wasn't hurt. Suna walked around the bed and sat on the mattress.
"I'm fine, Rin." Osamu said, breaking the silence. "I think it was for better."
"How is this going to be any better?" Suna asked, the lump in his throat making his voice hoarse. It was the first time he had spoken since he had entered the room. "You are injured"
Osamu squeezed his hand.
"It will heal." Osamu tried to shrug, but feeling pain, he winced. "I always wanted one of these."
Suna gave him a bad look. This moment wasn’t for jokes.
"You were right" Osamu said, cutting off Suna's reply. "I'm shit and selfish."
Suna tried to deny it, but Osamu interrupted him again.
"Let me finish." Osamu swallowed. "Please."
“I am shit because I’ve made ya’ suffer for no reason. And I'm selfish because, even though I knew what I was doing, I didn't want to let you go. "
The lump in Suna's throat grew tighter and tighter.
"And now again, I'll be a selfish shit and will let you go." Tears were gathering in Osamu's eyes. Suna squeezed his hand. "It’s because I love you that I cannot condemn you to an unhappy life by my side."
Suna wanted to say that it wasn't true. An unhappy life with him was better than any life without him. Suna wanted to ask him not to leave him. Suna wanted to say so many things, but no words came out of his mouth.
"I don't love volleyball." Osamu said and looked at his arm. “I don't feel good about myself, who I am, right now. And it's frustrating because you and my team and my brother have been so good to me. I have been very happy. But I'm tired of pretending that I'm fine and that if I push myself hard enough, I'll get through it. "
Tears spilled from Osamu's eyes. Suna lovingly wiped them with his free thumb.
"It's okay," Suna said, his voice cracking. It hurt to see how Osamu was suffering. He had been so stupid that he hadn't seen it. He understood it himself. He was hurting too, doing something he didn't fully love and hiding things for being ashamed of his decisions. “We can fix it. Let me help you."
"No." Osamu said, "I have to do this on my own."
Suna was going to say something else, however, he fell silent when he saw Osamu's eyes. His gaze held a fire that Suna hadn't seen in a long time. It was something to improve, to grow, to be happy.
"I understand you," Suna admitted. "I ..." Suna struggled with words. "I love volleyball."
Osamu squeezed his hand. Despite not being good with words, Osamu always understood what he meant. Osamu did it that time.
"I always knew ya’ were a volleyball nerd," Osamu replied, almost laughing. "Just like my brother."
" Ew, please don't ever say that again." Suna joked as he rubbed his nose with the sleeve of his jacket. It felt good to be himself with Osamu again. "Did you call him?" Suna asked. If Osamu asked him to stay while he recovered, he would. However, he would respect what Osamu wanted.
Osamu snorted. "Yes. The idiot is on his way. I told him not to, but he doesn't listen. Ya’ know how he is. "
"I know." Suna replied playfully. Osamu laughed and pushed his arm away with their joined hands.
"Rin." Osamu said after a while of simply looking at each other.
"I have something for you. Can you pass me my wallet, please? " Osamu indicated, pointing to an armchair in the far part of the room.
Suna didn't want to get away from Osamu, but he nodded and went where he indicated. Suna rummaged through Osamu's white jacket until he found the wallet. Suna took it and returned to his place. Osamu took something out. Suna held his breath. It was the engagement ring Suna had thrown the night of their fateful fight. Suna had had the feeling of emptiness in his finger ever since. Osamu put the wallet aside and handed him the ring.
"I think this belongs to you." Osamu said, the ring glittering on his outstretched palm.
Suna looked at him fearfully. Suna did when he was scared, he looked at Osamu. He nodded, encouraging him to take the ring. Suna took it between his fingers. The gold gleamed in the white lights of the room.
"Thank you." Suna said, approaching Osamu. Suna got a closer look at his gray eyes, curled eyelashes, and pink lips. Osamu was beautiful. Suna wanted nothing more than to kiss him, but he wouldn't do anything Osamu didn't want to. His doubts about doing so were ended when Osamu closed the gap. Osamu kissed him with all his love, his fervor, and relief, but also with his fear and sadness. It was a very fitting kiss. A long goodbye kiss.
Osamu broke away from Suna, gasping for air. Suna was also out of breath. Osamu rested his forehead on Suna's.
"I love you Rin."
"I love you too, Osamu."
"You should leave," Osamu said after a few seconds, sadness seeping into his voice. "Children are waiting for their coach." Osamu said with a smile.
Suna looked out the window, the night was approaching. The sky was tinged with pink and purple colors. Suna frowned, thinking that he wanted to go with the children, but he also wanted to stay and watch over Osamu. Suna knew this was a test. It was his first step to let Osamu go.
"It's true, I should go." Suna confirmed, clenching the ring on his fist.
"Go." Osamu encouraged. “Traffic at this hour is a nightmare. You don't want to be late. I'll be fine."
Suna looked back at Osamu and smiled. He squeezed his hand for the last time. Suna got up and walked to the door.
"Goodbye." Suna said.
"Go well," Osamu replied.
Suna opened the door and went out. Suna ran. A nurse scolded him for running in the corridors, he also thought that he heard Hoshiumi's voice, however, Suna had to leave before he regretted it. Suna didn't stop until he was out of the hospital. The cold hit him in the face. The wind ruffled his hair. Suna crouched down, putting his fists on his thighs. Tears stung his eyes, his lungs burned like he'd run a marathon. Suna felt a sting in his hand. Suna raised his hand and spread his fingers, revealing the golden ring that Osamu had given him.
Suna must be strong. Osamu had been, now it was his turn. Suna controlled his breathing and straightened up. Suna looked at the ring one last time and slipped it into his pocket. It no longer only meant a promise to Osamu, but also to himself. Suna called a taxi. He had to attend a practice.
"Good job guys." the captain of the Red Stars, a second division team of the professional volleyball league, said. “Go bathe and dress. We'll see you at the entrance. The coach will take us to a place to celebrate. " Everyone cheered and then scattered.
Suna headed for the locker room. That game against Yotsuya Motor Spirits had been exhausting. His muscles were sore, his fingers were bruised, and his face was drenched with sweat. He was the best feeling in the world.
Suna took a quick shower. The atmosphere in the team was great. Everyone was calm and happy, also excited. They had won the semifinals and now they would go to the finals. Suna quickly dried, dressed, and combed his hair. He was hungry. Even though he had eaten some cookies that a fan had given him when he was signing autographs, Suna was starving.
"Oi, Suna." Hotaru, one of the friends and teammates, called.
Suna stopped his steps and looked back. Hotaru ran over and put an arm around Suna's shoulders. The boy didn't mind the wet neck from his recent shower. They both resumed their march toward the entrance.
"Get your hands off me." Suna said playfully.
Hotaru laughed. “Man, those blocks were insane. If you play like this in the next game, we will surely make it to the first division! "
Suna staggered a bit at that statement. First division ... He could continue playing and now against and with better players. That wasn’t bad. Suna smiled at the idea.
"Your receptions weren't too bad either." Suna praised the libero of his team. His friend laughed again.
"By the way!" Hotaru screamed in Suna's ear. Suna made a face. "You are formally invited to my little Sakura's number one birthday."
"Is she already one year old?" Suna asks, stunned as they reach the vending machines. Hotaru departs to buy juice.
"I know! What madness! " Hotaru inserts a coin and presses the button for an orange juice.
"I still remember how you almost wet your pants when asking Mai-san out." Suna scoffs.
"Hey!" Hotaru screams with red cheeks. This had been like a cheesy romantic comedy. A fan and a professional player. Hotaru reaches down to pick up the can from him. “But everything turned out well in the end.
"Yes ..." Suna confirms, briefly recalling a past love story.
"Look, double prize!" Hotaru says with two cans, one in each hand. He throws one at Suna.
"Yes, he even agreed to marry you after seeing how you received your forehead," Suna remembers how his friend received a ball with his face. Fortunately, it was nothing serious because the ball was slow, however, Suna likes to joke about the loss of brain cells.
"That was only once!" Hotaru squeals. "Besides, you weren't so good your first game two years ago either ..."
Suna snorts. It had been terrifying. The rookie entering the game after his middle blocker injured his wrist. However, Suna had done his best. They won the game. His hands hadn't stopped shaking even after the match ended.
“Who am I kidding, you were great. That shit you do with your torso is crazy! "
Suna plays with the can a bit in his hands before opening it. The lights from the white lamps in the hallways of the gym cast their shadows on the floor. Regaining his physical condition, in addition to his flexibility and muscle mass, hadn’t been easy. However, Suna had tried hard and received a lot of help. He had worked so hard that even Kita-san had joked about alien abduction.
"Yes, good. Someone had to avenge our senpai. "
Hotaru laughs and sips from the can of him.
Both boys are the last to arrive at the entrance and are scolded by their captain, but not harshly. The whole team starts walking, according to their coach, the restaurant he will take them to is ten minutes away. The team complains about walking, but the coach shuts them down by saying that he will buy more beer.
The team walks through the streets of Tokyo, filling the atmosphere with their pleasant chat. Some talk about their plays, others about food and others about how they will get revenge on the Sendai Frogs when they reach the first division. Suna responds to congratulatory messages from her sister, Kita-san and Gin, and his students at the center.
Suna keeps looking at his phone until Hotaru stops him by the sleeve when they arrive at the restaurant. There, in front of him stands an imposing onigiri restaurant by the name of Onigiri Miya. Suna holds his breath.
He had heard that Osamu had dedicated himself to cooking, he had even heard a few times that he went to stadiums to sell his food. However, he had never found it or even tasted any of his food. Also, he didn't know that he had a branch in Tokyo. According to his internal sources (Atsumu), Osamu had settled in Kobe after recovering from his injury.
The relationship with Osamu for the last three years had been formal. Congratulatory messages were sent at important celebrations, in addition to joining Inarizaki's group chat to annoy Atsumu. However, they hadn’t seen each other in person since that day at the hospital. Despite his complicated past, Suna truly hoped Osamu would be happy.
"Suna." Hotaru calls and Suna stops looking at the imposing logo. "You come?"
Suna nods and moves on. Suna enters and is greeted by the smell of rice, spices, and soap. The place is nice and spacious. Suna hears a small chorus of voices saying "Welcome." Suna looks to the side and meets Osamu, wearing a cap and an apron. Osamu looks at him and smiles.