Through the large windows, the last rays of the sun trickle into the apartment, caressing the wood of a piano and the side of Kiyoomi's face. Dust particles float through the air, dancing in the silence that once teemed with music. However, now all that lingers is a hollow feeling that he's forgotten something important. Skimming his fingers delicately along the ivory keys, Kiyoomi doesn't make a sound. He only stares at the instrument, willing it to play like it did before. Pressing down a single key, the note rings out in the room.
Nothing. He feels nothing.
Slowly, he removes his hands and hunches down on the piano bench. Music used to flow through his body like blood. It was what sustained him, fueled him to work harder to reach his goals. However, now Kiyoomi can't quite remember what those goals were to begin with. Did he reach them?
Music. It used to come so easily to him, like breathing. Talented, gifted, they said. Now, look at him. When something that was once his biggest passion flickers out, what's left? Perhaps he's used up all the vitality he has already, and now it's all dried up. Imagine a luscious forest that's been set ablaze. What's there once it's all burned out? Smoke and ruin?
For someone that used to play every day for hours, it might seem like he should be going through withdrawals, like his fingers should itch to create. But it’s not like that. It’s like a car driving full speed down the highway and a wall appears out of nowhere. The car slams into it without slowing down at all—then it’s suddenly forced to cease all motion.
Sometimes, he feels that deep-seated urge to do something. Yet there’s just nothing more inside of him to give. He’s given everything he had since he was seventeen, and even now when he’s wrung dry, he’s still trying.
It's not every day that Kiyoomi tries to start again. Sometimes he merely glances at the piano or his guitar, never letting a single note free. Other days, he manages to sit down with his guitar in his lap and strum a few chords. The tips of his fingers are already going soft from lack of use. When the sting cuts through, Kiyoomi wants to slam the instrument down. He can’t play for hours on end anymore unless he wants to bleed. It’s happened before.
With a heavy sigh, Kiyoomi rises from the bench. Perhaps he’ll try again tomorrow.
The process is simple. Rinse and repeat. Nothing feels the same anymore though. The monotony that he’s achieved with these practiced habits of routine are blurring his days together. He’s breathing, but he’s not sure if he’s really living. They say that each day is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present. However, Kiyoomi isn’t sure if this is a present he wants.
Sometimes he’ll sit and stare at his piano, willing it to play a tune, any tune. Let the fingers of his own ghost dance across the keys. The ghost of his past self. The one that still remembers how to play. He can almost hear the phantom fingers trail across the keys, letting the notes ring free. They fill his pages with beautiful words and melodies that leave others hanging on every note, basking in the awed silence.
That’s only in his ever-increasing daydreams though. Now the silence is muddled with a distant ringing in his ears and the traffic from the streets below. Now, as time passes, his muscle memory has deteriorated, and Kiyoomi isn't sure he knows how to make his hands move as he wishes. His body is stiff and refuses to flow gracefully along with the music that haunts him.
Then there’s his mind. It’s possible he’s going a little insane because he swears he’s done this before. It’s like deja vu. Every day is Groundhog Day, but the date keeps pushing forward. As the world around him continues to turn, Kiyoomi wonders what the meaning is.
Kiyoomi has nothing to show for his time trying to create, yet he’s exhausted. There’s no energy in his body to lift his arm up the neck of the guitar or to the piano keys. Though the longer he sits getting nothing accomplished, the worse he feels and berates himself.
Seeing his empty notebooks and blank scores fill him with dread. He tells himself that he has to do this, that he has to keep going. However, it only makes him feel heavier. His bones weigh him down, his head feels like it must be made of lead, his neck aches, and at the end of the day, he’s not sure how much he really cares.
What happened to the Kiyoomi that could write an entire song in a day and have it hit number one on the charts and stay there for weeks? Where’s he? Kiyoomi misses him. That Kiyoomi was proud of his work… and happy.
Sometimes Kiyoomi forgets how much time has passed. Not just in a day but since he last performed. How long has it been? Six weeks? Six months?
“Two years, Kiyoomi,” Komori says. “It’s been two years since you’ve become this shut-in, and honestly, I’m worried about you.”
Kiyoomi stands with a cup of tea in hand, staring out his floor-to-ceiling windows and watching the rain wash over the Tokyo streets below. There’s something about the rain that Kiyoomi has always found enchanting. Between the smell of petrichor and the rhythm it creates, rain is riveting.
“Are you even listening to me?”
“Hm?” Kiyoomi doesn’t turn.
Komori huffs and marches over to stand next to him. “Look, Kiyo, I know you’re in this slump, but things like that happen. You’re only 25. It’s not the end of the world. Maybe you just need to shake things up a little. You never even leave this place. Come out with us tonight, just once.”
That’s not true. He leaves his apartment. In fact, he left to get drinks with Ushijima for his birthday… two months ago. Oh. Well then.
Kiyoomi has met Komori’s friends before, of course. Before his slump, they would often hang with Kiyoomi’s friends as well, intermingling. He likes them all, but he trusts exactly zero of them. They’re friends with his cousin, so he just knows that underneath their calm exteriors lies something truly evil.
“Hey, Sakusa! It’s been a while,” Semi says.
“I’ve been preoccupied.”
Komori slings an arm around his shoulders. “And by preoccupied, he means that he’s been stuck in his head.”
“I swear you wore that just to spite me,” Yaku says, glaring at the offensive neon yellow of Komori’s jacket. Kiyoomi doesn’t think it looks that bad.
Tsukishima nods to him as he sits down across from him. “So he managed to drag you out of the pit.”
“Maybe physically. Mentally I’m still there.”
He hums in understanding. “Well, I hope you find whatever it is that will pull you out.”
Kiyoomi knows he means it. When Tsukishima had first started modeling, he was put through the wringer mentally. If anyone else here knows what that pit is like, it’s him.
“Thanks. How’s it for you?”
“Good. I’m shooting with Akaashi next week.”
Relaxing in his seat, Kiyoomi continues to converse with everyone. It’s nice to be sociable every now and then he supposes.
Kiyoomi is a few drinks in when he hears it. Even with his slightly muddled brain, the words are clear as day.
I don’t need these memories
But thanks for the thought of me
Everything reminds me of you
And it’s troubling in all I do
Listening to the singer’s voice, he can hear the frustration he’s exuding through the words. His tenor voice is so pure and clean. Kiyoomi swears he can’t detect any autotune either.
Maybe I’ll keep this one memory
It’ll be a secret between you and me
The cut of the instruments at the bridge pulls out the singer’s vulnerability, revealing that everything up until now has been a farce of him trying to move on. And in all honesty, Kiyoomi isn’t even sure if it’s truly a love song.
Then the instruments pick back up again for the closing chorus.
I don’t need these memories
Won’t you keep them safe for me
Everything all comes back to you
And I can’t help hate that it’s true
As the song ends, Kiyoomi asks, “Who is this?”
Tsukishima raises an eyebrow that definitely says Kiyoomi should know but answers, “Miya Atsumu. He’s everywhere right now. I’ve heard he’s already favored to win several awards this year.”
“Yeah, and you only know that because your boyfriend is his manager!” Yaku cuts in with a smirk.
“Tch. He’s not my boyfriend. He only wishes.”
Semi eyes him from down the table, and Kiyoomi can’t quite take him seriously with that fur-trimmed jacket he has on. “So, what do you think? He’s pretty good, right?”
Kiyoomi nods. Better than pretty good. Miya Atsumu, huh?
When he gets home, Kiyoomi lounges on the couch and pulls out his phone to look up Miya Atsumu immediately. A picture of an attractive man with bleach blonde hair pops up. Even just in the picture, something about him draws Kiyoomi. Whether it’s his charming smile or his honey eyes that seem to glimmer, he’s not sure, but he can feel the charisma oozing through the screen.
He’s only nineteen, turning twenty in October. This isn’t what Kiyoomi is looking for though. He doesn’t care about his backstory. Where’s the music?
He huffs in annoyance when it turns out that Miya’s debut album hasn’t even been released yet. It drops next month. The song he heard tonight is a single called “Memories” from the album of the same name. It has a music video too. Curious, he pulls it up.
Kiyoomi watches the scene of polaroids being swept past Miya in the wind. At the bridge, time slows down almost to a stop, allowing him to easily pluck one of the polaroids out of the air. As time resumes, he keeps the picture he picked up protected from the onslaught. In the end, everything is destroyed except for the one he kept tucked away.
It’s artful, and Kiyoomi finds that Miya looks nice with windswept hair. There has to be more though. He couldn’t have possibly just popped up overnight.
Resigned, Kiyoomi goes back to read about Miya’s origin story. It appears that he and his twin brother have a YouTube channel together. Miya was approached by fellow YouTuber Kodzuken, also known as Kozume Kenma, for use of his original music in his streams. People started noticing, and that included Kozume’s friend, Kuroo Tetsurou, who is now Miya’s manager as Kiyoomi learned earlier. After that, well, needless to say, he exploded.
Switching over to YouTube, Kiyoomi types in Miya Twins Media and clicks on a video from two years ago. Miya’s hair is an atrocious yellow color, but he still somehow makes it work. Then on top of his head are a pair of fox ears. Kiyoomi isn’t sure what to make of the choice of accessory.
Miya speaks to someone off-screen, and oh, he speaks in Kansai-ben. A nearly identical teen with grey hair leans into view, waving and introducing himself as Osamu. Miya picks up an acoustic guitar and starts strumming a familiar tune. Kiyoomi glances at the title of the video. Yeah, it’s one of his own songs. He’s interested to hear how it goes.
As soon as Miya opens his mouth, Kiyoomi is entranced. He’s changed the arrangement a bit to make it more his own style, and Kiyoomi is surprised by how much he likes it. The almost soft rock feel Miya brings to the song makes him want to try it this way.
He brings his phone, still playing Miya’s version, with him to his music room and finds a place to prop it up. Then Kiyoomi picks up his guitar for the first time in over two weeks. And when he strums a G chord and lets the sound ring into the room, it doesn’t feel like a rock dropped in the water. Instead, it ripples at the surface, waiting for more.
Kiyoomi closes his eyes and a smile plays on his lips. Finally. Progress.
That night, he plays Miya Atsumu’s version of his own song, and he thinks that it might even be better than before. It’s an abrupt thought that makes him pause because Kiyoomi doesn’t put out anything that he deems unworthy. Just how did Miya Atsumu manage this?
He plays for hours, playing past the point of the tips of his fingers aching. His throat is dry and scratchy after singing again after nothing for so long. Though he’s tired when he places his guitar back in its case, his system feels revived. It’s like a gentle rain shower has blessed his dry and barren forest of creation, slowly bringing it back to life.
Over the next few months, music once again breathes life into the stilted air of his apartment. Though Kiyoomi’s drive and will to create flourishes, something still isn’t right. Crossing out yet another bar of music he just wrote, he tries again. After playing the modified piano riff, Kiyoomi wads up the sheet music and throws it on the floor. He’s not sure how many balls of paper are there right now. Stretching his fingers, he starts from scratch. Again.
C Major triad. F Major triad. Basic. Contemporary. Wrong.
Kiyoomi sweeps all the papers off of the piano with a shout. His chest heaves as he watches the papers flutter to the ground. Why does nothing he make sound right?
“Alexa, play ‘Kryptonite.’”
“Okay. Now playing ‘Kryptonite’ by Miya Atsumu as requested by Kiyoomi.”
As the familiar tune fills the air, Kiyoomi makes his way to the couch and plops down. He leans his head back and closes his eyes, just listening. Ever since Miya’s album dropped, Kiyoomi has listened to it countless times. He’s memorized every lyric, melody, harmony, and rhythm.
Alexa continues to play the next song on Miya’s album, and Kiyoomi taps his fingers along. He sighs and pulls out his phone to open Twitter. Miya Atsumu is trending. Oh, it’s his birthday. There’s a picture of him with several recognizable faces.
Of course, there’s Miya Osamu who he recently learned Komori actually knows through work. He remembers that conversation. “Oh, yeah. We hired him after Atsumu’s promotional shots debuted. Kid’s a talented photographer.” Then there’s the model Suna Rintarou, actors Kageyama Tobio and Oikawa Tooru with his manager and “not boyfriend” Iwaizumi Hajime, and fellow musician Hinata Shouyou. They all have fox ears on and are doing that paw pose—some more enthusiastically than others.
What an interesting bunch.
It seems Miya has already made several big-name connections for himself. It’s not surprising from what Kiyoomi has seen of him. He’s loud and bright with endless charisma. The people around him can’t help but be intrigued and watch him.
It’s rather different from how the public perceived Kiyoomi. During his five years in the limelight, he was known more for his “mysterious” personality. At least, that’s what his marketing team depicted him as.
He’s not exactly what someone might call a people person. Kiyoomi loves his fans, don’t get him wrong. It’s just that he might tend to avoid places where people gather and shy away from large fan signings. He’d never tell someone no if he’s approached though, and he’s appreciated everyone’s support through the years.
Now though, it’s next to impossible to catch him out on the streets. Everything he needs is right here in his apartment or just a click away on the Internet. The number of interviews and TV appearances he’s turned down over the last two years is in the double digits.
Kiyoomi knows what kinds of questions he’d be asked, and he’s not ready to face them. He may never be if things keep going this way.
It’s lonely; he can admit that. This need to hide himself away due to his failures have created an icy barrier between himself and the rest of the world. His self-isolation has stilted his social life, not that he was going to parties every weekend before, but now he rarely talks to anyone.
Kiyoomi has few close friends. Ushijima will send him a text every week, Bokuto’s contact comes in spurts, and Akaashi will check in every once in a while to make sure he’s still alive. Komori just barges in whenever he pleases. Kiyoomi has thought about changing the codes, but he never has and probably never will.
Truthfully, he’s thankful for them more than he can really say. He’d be in a much darker place without them. It’s just hard to look them in the eye sometimes. Their careers are moving forward successfully, and Kiyoomi is stuck in the same spot from years ago.
It’s not just careers, it’s life too. People Kiyoomi’s age are starting to settle down, getting married, having kids… Is it okay that he’s not? Is it okay that he can’t even imagine that future from where he stands now? He wants it though.
“So I talked to Iizuna today,” Komori says casually. Too casually. Kiyoomi is immediately suspicious. “He said you were asked to present at the Record Awards.”
“Yeah, and I said no.”
“I told him you’d do it.”
“What the fuck, Motoya?!” Kiyoomi turns to fully face him from where he sits on the opposite end of the couch, glaring.
“You haven’t been in the scene for over two years now, Kiyo. This is a good way for you to ease your way back into it. Plus, maybe you’ll get to meet your muse.”
Kiyoomi avoids Motoya’s watchful eyes and contemplates the pros and cons. He’d love to be able to pick Miya’s brain on his musical process. There’s going to be so many people there though. Who’s to say that he’d even get the chance to talk to Miya? But if he sets his mind to it…
“Fine. But I’m not performing.”
The Japanese Record Awards is the major music award show in Japan and takes place on December 30 every year. It’s comparable to the Grammys in the United States supposedly. So here Kiyoomi is dressed in Yaku’s creation of a jacquard maroon three-piece suit. He had insisted that Kiyoomi needed to make his reentry to the scene a statement, and Kiyoomi can’t complain because it’s a nice piece. It fits him perfectly, even if he’d rather the pants be solid rather than patterned as well.
Kiyoomi is presenting the Best New Artist Award. He won that same award himself for his debut year. There’s a high chance that Miya Atsumu will win, and he may be a little biased, but Kiyoomi hopes he does. It’s not because he’s Kiyoomi’s muse as Komori likes to say, it’s because everything that he touches is filled with life, teeming with passion. He deserves it, plain and simple.
Komori was right about him being out of the scene; he feels like he doesn't know half of these people milling about. There are familiar faces, of course. Anyone who is anyone is here tonight.
He saw a few of his old friends earlier. Bokuto had greeted him with the same enthusiasm as the last time he saw him. Truth be told, Kiyoomi missed him and his antics. Akaashi and Ushijima were much more reserved in their greetings but were no less pleased to see him.
Bokuto was adamant about Kiyoomi going to the afterparty, and well, he’ll just have to wait and see. Big events like this are always draining. He’s not sure if he’ll have the energy to actually socialize with everyone all at once. He knows he’ll be bombarded after his extended absence.
Throughout the show, performances from those nominated for the Grand Prix Award take place. Semi and his band are included. Kiyoomi has always enjoyed their music, so he’s happy to hear what they’ve put out this year. He really has missed a lot. However, the artist he’s preparing for is Miya Atsumu.
Kiyoomi has yet to see him in person, so when said man walks out on stage to perform, Kiyoomi is hard-pressed to look away. He’s dressed in a fitted black suit with gold lapels and accents and everything about it makes him look completely captivating. Miya is performing “Memories,” and even though Kiyoomi has heard the song probably hundreds of times, it’s a completely new experience hearing and seeing it live.
He’s entrancing. The way he flows across the stage, capturing everyone’s attention like a magnet pulling them into his field. When the lights flash with the re-upped downbeat, it casts across Miya’s face in a way that makes his eyes glow, burning with passion.
His presence on the stage is entirely natural; it’s like he belongs there. Just from the look on his face, Kiyoomi can see how much fun he’s having. Fame may not be right for everyone, but it sure loves Miya Atsumu.
He continues to shine throughout his performance, and when it ends, Miya looks thoroughly satisfied. The bright gleam in his eyes says it all.
When Kiyoomi walks out on stage with the award and envelope containing the Best New Artist winner, he doesn’t expect the large applause he receives for just himself appearing. A warm feeling in his chest grows, and he has to push it down so he can announce the nominees.
“And the winner for Best New Artist is,” he opens the envelope, “Miya Atsumu.”
Kiyoomi watches as Miya stands and hugs his twin brother, both of them beaming. Then he’s making his way up to the stage. When he makes eye contact with Kiyoomi, it feels like the intensity of an entire inferno. Golden-brown meet dark emerald in a crowded room with all eyes on them. Their fingers brush as Kiyoomi passes the award to him with a low, “Congratulations.”
Kiyoomi steps to the side, so Miya can stand in front of the mic. He’s taller than Kiyoomi expected. However, that same energy of pure, unadulterated passion that he saw just through a screen radiates off of Miya. Kiyoomi can feel it. After Miya gives a surprisingly heartfelt speech, they walk backstage together.
“Ya know, I was really excited when I found out who was presentin’ this award tonight,” Miya says. “I really wanted to meet ya.”
“What a coincidence. I was equally pleased when I found out who was nominated.” Kiyoomi turns his head slightly to look at Miya next to him.
“Ya couldn’t have known I’d win though.”
“It goes to the best.”
Miya clutches at his chest and makes a strangled noise. “Ya can’t just say that! Warn a guy!” Kiyoomi chuckles at his dramatics. “But since yer here, does that mean yer workin’ on somethin’ new?”
“I’m trying. I’m just having a bit of trouble.” Miya cocks his head in interest. “Actually, that—”
Their conversation is interrupted by a stagehand who ushers them to return to their seats.
“I’ll find ya at the afterparty, Omi-kun!” Miya waves as he walks away.
Omi-kun? What a dumb nickname. They don’t even know each other. He ignores the warmth on his face as he makes his way back to the audience.
Sitting back down in his seat in a slight daze, Kiyoomi wonders what the hell just happened.
The rest of the awards go by in a flash. Komori nudges him when it’s over, bringing his mind back to where he is. As they shuffle out to make their way to the afterparty, Kiyoomi hopes that Miya will actually find him like he said he would.
The afterparty is at least devoid of the press. Here he only has to deal with other celebrities flocking around him. He’s never talked to most of these people in his life. Why they are so interested in his personal life is truly beyond him, but that’s fame he supposes.
Currently, he stands in a group composed of Ushijima, Bokuto, Akaashi, Semi, and Yaku. Ushijima and Bokuto are listening attentively to Semi’s story about some mishap during a recording session. Akaashi swirls his drink and looks past Kiyoomi’s shoulder where Kuroo and Tsukishima are definitely flirting with a small smirk.
Kiyoomi listens in and out as Yaku critiques everyone’s outfits. Some of his comments are fairly entertaining. “Oh my god, what is Kageyama wearing? Who let him out like that? He looks like a vampire.” And well, the lace jabot (Yaku’s word) and cuffs might be a bit unfortunate.
As Yaku excuses himself to go find his boyfriend, Kiyoomi hears a freshly familiar voice. “Omi-kun!” Miya slides into Yaku’s vacated spot. “There ya are! I was lookin’ for ya.”
“Omi-kun? I didn’t know you two knew each other, Tsum-Tsum!” Bokuto says, turning his attention to him. Of course, Bokuto and Atsumu know each other. He’s not surprised.
“Well, uh, we actually kinda just met at the awards.”
“Is that right?” Akaashi says with a hint of amusement. Kiyoomi does not appreciate that quirk of his eyebrow.
“Yeah! We were gonna talk about somethin’. So I’m gonna steal him now if ya don’t mind. See ya later!” Then without much ado, he pulls Kiyoomi away from them.
Miya doesn’t say anything as he leads Kiyoomi with a firm grip on his forearm. He has no idea where he’s being led, but his feet keep moving forward with no resistance. Miya keeps looking over his shoulder with a smile, and all Kiyoomi can do is stare back, whether it’s at those honey eyes or the back of his golden head.
Kiyoomi isn’t known for being spontaneous. He’s practical and likes to follow a routine. It may seem counterintuitive in a career that requires creativity, but it works. Or, well, it did. The monotony he’s let himself fall into can’t even be considered much of a practical routine if he gets nothing accomplished. However, escaping from an afterparty of the biggest music event of the year is something he’d never be caught dead doing. Yet, here he is.
They reach their destination when Miya slides open the door leading to a balcony. When his arm is released, Miya walks to the railing and places his hands on it. He takes a deep breath like he’s just come home from a long day at the office.
Kiyoomi takes the place to his right and gazes out at the Tokyo night skyline. Tokyo Tower shines like a golden beacon in the distance, guiding his eyes to it immediately. None of the other buildings surrounding it even stand a chance. It’s a lot like when Miya took the stage earlier in the night.
“So ya said yer havin’ a bit of trouble, yeah?” Miya suddenly breaks the silence.
Gritting his teeth, Kiyoomi sighs and nods. He leans his forearms on the railing and links his fingers together. A bit of trouble. That’s putting it lightly. He’s going on three years with nothing.
“What kinda trouble are ya havin’?”
“The music— nothing sounds right. Does that make sense?”
Miya turns his head to look at Kiyoomi. The city lights dance in his eyes. “That just means ya ain’t listenin’ close enough.”
Kiyoomi furrows his brows. “To what?”
“That makes no sense.” Of course, he listens to the music. He creates it after all.
“If it doesn’t sound right, then ya ain’t listenin’ to what it’s sayin’.” He smiles, making his eyes crinkle into fox-like crescents. “Tell me, Omi-kun, what does music mean to ya?”
What does music mean to him? Kiyoomi has had several interviews over the course of his career, but he doesn’t think he’s ever been asked this kind of question quite like that. Why did he get into music? How has music affected his life? When did he know this was what he wanted to pursue? Those are familiar, but what it actually means to him?
Kiyoomi can’t confidently say he has an answer. Music has always been a part of his life. He’s studied the ins and outs of it from history to theory. He’s trained in it since he first started piano lessons at the tender age of three. Is it… a way of life? Then what the fuck has he been doing?
He’s brought out of his musings by a soft laugh and a finger poking between his eyebrows. “Ya look like yer thinkin’ too hard.”
Frowning, he swats the offending hand away, which only makes Miya laugh louder. Kiyoomi sighs and drops the thought for now. However, Miya is still looking at him expectantly.
“I actually wanted to talk to you about your music-making process. All of your music sounds so perfectly pieced together.”
“Oh!” A slight flush climbs up Miya’s cheeks, and he rubs the back of his neck. “I’m touched ya think so. I mean, I don’t really do much. It just finds me, and I write it down.”
Kiyoomi blinks. “I’m sorry, what?”
“That’s why I told ya to listen! Don’tcha hear it?”
“I have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.”
Miya sighs and flops over the railing. “It’s alright. No one ever does. I can’t really explain it anyway. Ya gotta figure it out for yerself.” They’re quiet for a few moments until Miya pops his head back up. “Maybe I can help ya though.”
“And how do you plan to do that?”
“I dunno. I can teach ya where to find it, where to listen—how to listen. Gimme yer phone.” He reaches out with grabby hands.
Kiyoomi takes a deep breath and hands it over. “You know I’ll probably never use it.”
Miya waves him off as he punches in his number. “You’ll change yer mind.”
He says it like he’s fully aware of how close to the edge Kiyoomi already is. Maybe it’s just that obvious. He didn’t think he was that desperate though. He hands the phone back with a smirk.
“Yeah, you’ll change yer mind. I can feel it.”
When he gets home, Kiyoomi flops back on his bed with a sigh. Miya Atsumu isn’t what he was expecting. Perhaps he shouldn’t be so surprised after watching every one of his YouTube videos, some more than once. However, meeting him in person, he had a certain expectation. Right now he can’t honestly say if Miya failed, met, or exceeded them.
There’s something about him though. It’s something that draws Kiyoomi in, and he can’t help but think of how he looked on the balcony. His hair ruffled in the wind with the city lights bright behind him like a stage.
Maybe he doesn’t feel satisfied because Miya’s advice makes no sense. Listen to the music? Listen harder? Kiyoomi has no idea what that’s supposed to mean. He was hoping to talk about theory or Miya’s songwriting process, not whatever the fuck that was.
Kiyoomi sighs, leaning back his head, and writes Miya Atsumu off as a dead end. That’s what he gets for hoping. Fuck hopes and dreams and all that other bullshit. Maybe this is his hint that he should just pack it up and actually go to college - get a real job. Would that be better than sitting here day in and day out wondering what he should do next? But fuck, he doesn’t want to.
Kiyoomi doesn’t give up. So maybe he’s been stuck for a while. He’s made more progress in the past six months than he has in years. And it’s all thanks to... Miya Atsumu. Fuck.
After wallowing for a good week or so, Kiyoomi stares at the number Miya punched into his phone. Maybe talking to him will prove better results. What’s the worst that could happen? Another lead to nowhere? It’s not like that’s any different than his usual.
You: Hello. This is Sakusa Kiyoomi. You gave me your number at the Record Awards.
He hits send. That text reads so stiffly that he cringes a little. What was he supposed to say though? Oh hey, Miya, I thought about what you said, and I’d like to find out what exactly you meant? Oh. Yeah, that probably would have been better. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to wait long to get a response. It reminds him he needs to change the contact name.
Atsumu 😜: Omi-kun! I was beginning to think that I actually scared ya away (>﹏<)
You: Running away is still a very tempting option.
Atsumu 😜: (°ロ°) ! I’m hurt Omi-kun! I thought ya were excited to meet me!
You: Yeah. Then I actually met you.
Atsumu 😜: (╥﹏╥) that’s so mean! Why did ya even text me then?
You: Sorry. You were just different than I was expecting. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Atsumu 😜: Well they do say to never meet your idols
You: Hm. I suppose so. So the reason I texted is because I want to know what you meant about listening to the music.
Atsumu 😜: Oh! Tell ya what. I gotta go back to filming. Come by Sakura Films and we’ll start when we wrap up
Atsumu 😜: (*˘︶˘*).｡.:*♡
What is he doing at Sakura Films? Kiyoomi supposes he’ll find out soon enough. What could Miya possibly be planning for him on short notice like this?
Arriving at the studio, he’s let in with surprisingly little questioning and is even escorted to where Miya is. He’s apparently making a guest appearance on a popular drama starring Oikawa Tooru. Kiyoomi doesn’t keep up with any of that.
Kiyoomi raises an eyebrow at the scene presented to him. Miya is performing “Memories” clad in a hospital gown. Well, that’s an interesting choice. It’s a far cry from his usual flashy clothes and fox accessories.
Oh, that’s right. This is that doctor show that Komori is weirdly into. If he remembers correctly, Ushijima also guest-starred on it. He died.
Miya sounds just as good as on his album. If he didn’t know any better he’d think he was lip-syncing. That’s just how clean his vocals are though. It’s amazing how even in a damn hospital gown he still just as easily captures the attention of everyone in the room.
When the scene finishes, someone goes over to say something to Miya and then points over in Kiyoomi’s direction. Great. However, Miya looks up, seeming almost surprised. Then he flashes a bright smile. How can he be that happy just to see him? Did he think he wouldn’t come even after he agreed?
Miya doesn’t come over though, he focuses on what the director is saying. Instead, he gets Oikawa.
“Ya-hoo~ The elusive Sakusa Kiyoomi makes an appearance in the wild.” He smiles and wiggles his fingers.
“Oikawa,” he says, nodding in greeting.
“Atsu-chan will be with you in a little bit. We just need him for one more scene.” Oikawa scrutinizes Kiyoomi, looking him up and down. “So what have you done to capture his interest?”
“I’m honestly not sure. I feel as though it’s more the other way around.”
“Oh, no. He was so excited when you texted him. Like an adorable puppy. Now I haven’t known Atsu-chan for all that long, but if you hurt him I will end you.”
Kiyoomi’s eyes widen in surprise. “Are you threatening me?”
The tense aura surrounding them is immediately lost when there’s a call for Oikawa on set. “Oi, Shittykawa! Get over here!”
“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa turns around. “You ruined my effect!”
“You’ll find out how much your effect can be ruined if you don’t get back in front of this camera.”
Oikawa lets out a small whine and then turns back to Kiyoomi. “Well, that’s my cue. Later!”
Kiyoomi stares as he walks away. What the hell?
Watching Atsumu’s last scene, Kiyoomi wonders if there’s anything he can’t do. He’s actually pretty good at acting if Kiyoomi’s opinion is anything to go by. Then there’s that advertisement for cologne he’s in with Suna Rintarou. It hangs on a billboard right downtown. Kuroo sure is making the rounds with all these promotions and exposure.
When Atsumu makes his way over to him, he’s changed out of his hospital attire and into an oversized light pink sweater and light wash jeans. Kiyoomi can’t help but raise an eyebrow. It’s not flashy like he’d expected. In fact, he looks rather soft.
“Omi-kun! What’d ya think?”
“Well, I can’t say I’d ever seen anyone perform in a hospital gown before.”
“That’s the best a hospital gown has ever looked. Yer just jealous.”
Kiyoomi huffs a laugh. “Sure. Your vocals sound so clean. What kind of training have you had?”
“Thanks! I’ve never had trainin’. Ya drive here?”
“Yeah. None? Not even since you were signed?”
“Sweet. Yer drivin’ then. Kuroo got me a vocal coach, but they kept tryin’ to get me to do all this weird shit. I didn’t like it. So I may have fired them... but! I make due my own way, and I think I’m doin’ just fine.”
Kiyoomi somewhat reluctantly leads Miya out to his car, listening to him talk about his experience on the set. He’s enthusiastic, waving his arms around as he speaks. It’s only a little endearing.
“So where am I driving to?” Kiyoomi asks once they both settle into the car.
“Odaiba Seaside Park!”
Kiyoomi groans. He hates the beach. The sand always gets everywhere. It’s all the way down at Tokyo Bay too. However, he diligently starts the car and follows Miya’s directions.
He never does this—spontaneous trips. This entire day has been out of the norm for him. Maybe that’s what he needs though, a little new addition to his routine.
“I’m not getting out if there are people there. I don’t like being swarmed.” Kiyoomi glances over at Miya out of the corner of his eye. He almost looks like he’s gently swaying to some tune in his head.
“Ah, no one’s ever there this time of year,” he says before going back to his little head sways. Kiyoomi has his doubts. It’s Tokyo. People are everywhere.
After parking, they walk down to the beach, and Miya leads them over to the observation deck. He was right about there being no people here. It’s practically deserted, which is strange for any place in the big city.
It's sunset, and there's a great view of Rainbow Bridge from here. The sky is painted in yellows and gold, and the sun shines through the towering buildings of the city, casting them in soft light. Looking out at the bay, orange hues dance on the water’s surface.
“So what are we doing out here, Miya?”
“I’ve told ya to call me Atsumu.” He pouts up at Kiyoomi until he nods. Then he continues, “I brought ya here to listen. It's one of my favorite spots here in Tokyo.”
“And what am I listening for… Atsumu?” It brings a smile to Atsumu’s face.
“Well, tell me what ya hear.”
With a sigh, Kiyoomi listens to the ambiance around him. There's the distant rush of cars, the light rippling of water, and the wind is starting to pick up. It seems like it might storm.
“It sounds like Tokyo on a peaceful day,” he says, turning to Atsumu.
“No, no, ya ain't listenin’ right. Try again.”
“I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be listening for.”
Atsumu rolls his eyes before closing them. He spreads his arms out wide, letting his hair and loose shirt billow in the breeze. The last glimmer of daylight streams through his hair and outlines him in gold. A peaceful smile forms on his lips. Kiyoomi supposes that he’s hearing whatever it is that he’s listening for.
No, Miya Atsumu is not what he thought he would be at all, but he's something extraordinary; there's no denying that. Kiyoomi hasn’t known him long at all, but underneath that loud, bright exterior, Atsumu is gentle and exudes love. That warmth that he holds shines just as intensely.
“How do you do it then?” he asks when Atsumu opens his eyes again.
“I dunno. I just hear it.”
“And it’s really just like that with the music you make?”
“Yeah. Like I said, no one really gets it though.” Atsumu rests his elbow on the wooden railing, chin supported by his hand.
“I'd like to see it sometime.”
Atsumu cocks his head thoughtfully and smiles. “Maybe I'll show ya if I’m feelin’ particularly charitable one day.”
A crack of thunder is heard in the distance. It's the signal to end their impromptu adventure.
Kiyoomi still doesn’t get it. Yet there’s something about Atsumu that’s captivating. He’s unlike anyone Kiyoomi has ever met before. He worries that he may have been sucked into the eye of the storm without even realizing it.
Two weeks later there's a knock on Kiyoomi’s door. He isn’t expecting anyone, and he’s fearful that Komori is making a surprise visit. However, instead, it's Miya Atsumu that greets him. He's completely soaked and shivering. Yanking the door open, Kiyoomi is still met with a bright smile.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Atsumu huffs and pushes his limp hair out of his face. “Well, hello to ya too. I was in the neighborhood and thought I would stop by.”
“How did you know I lived here?” Kiyoomi asks as he opens the door for his unexpected guest to enter.
“I may have asked around. I asked Shouyou-kun, who asked Tobio-kun, who asked Ushiwaka.”
Sighing heavily, Kiyoomi watches Atsumu line his shoes up next to Kiyoomi’s own. So it was Ushijima who betrayed him. Atsumu unzips his coat and hangs it up, shivering like an idiot because it’s raining and barely above freezing outside right now. He goes to retrieve a towel for Atsumu and a spare set of clothes while he’s at it. He doesn’t want water dripping all over his floor.
He hands over the clothes and towel, directs Atsumu to the bathroom, and plops on the couch with a groan. Why is he here? Kiyoomi likes to think that if it wasn’t practically an ice storm outside he’d send Atsumu away, but he knows he still wouldn’t.
Atsumu reenters the living room in a t-shirt and sweats that are slightly too large on his frame and his hair fluffy, only slightly damp now. There’s still a slight tremble to his frame though.
“Thanks for the clothes, Omi-Omi!” Kiyoomi watches as he walks into the kitchen and stands in the middle of it. “Ya got any hot chocolate or somethin’?”
“Why would I have hot chocolate?”
“For cold rainy days like this!” Kiyoomi furrows his eyebrows. Is that… something people do?
“I doubt it, but I guess you can look.” Sometimes Komori will bring over random things and shove them in Kiyoomi’s cabinets. It’s supposedly to help Kiyoomi shake things up, but he thinks it’s more for his cousin’s own benefit for when he comes over.
Atsumu takes that as the okay to start opening and closing cabinets to look for what he needs. As more and more items are laid on the counter, Kiyoomi wonders how much shit is needed to make hot chocolate.
Watching Atsumu pad around the kitchen and dance to the music in his mind, Kiyoomi doesn’t realize how much time has passed until Atsumu is suddenly in front of him holding out a cup.
“Thanks,” he says, taking the cup. “Why is it green?”
“It has matcha in it. My ma’s recipe. Try it!”
Hesitantly, Kiyoomi takes a sip. It’s good, surprisingly so. Rich and creamy flavors warm places in his body that he didn’t even realize were cold. Next to him, Atsumu lets out a little hum of contentment. It’s… cute.
“So what are you really doing here?”
Atsumu’s large eyes peer at him innocently over the rim of his mug. “Ya said ya wanted to see when I make music.”
“And you thought coming over out of the blue before a storm was a good idea?”
“Rain always makes it flow easier…”
“Well, what if I wasn’t home?”
“To be fair, I did text ya earlier and asked what yer plans were today, and ya said the usual, which means nothin’.”
Kiyoomi frowns at that. Just because he’s right doesn’t mean he has to say it. He supposes this answers his question of why he never heard back from Atsumu. When he texted, Kiyoomi thought Atsumu was just going to talk to him about whatever random thing like usual.
“Now,” Atsumu sets his mug on the coffee table, “if ya don’t mind, I’m gonna show ya, so pay attention.”
Kiyoomi sarcastically gestures for him to go ahead. Atsumu takes a seat on the piano bench across the room. His fingers skim across the keys, not yet making a sound. Sitting there, he closes his eyes. The only sound in the apartment is the rain pattering against the windows. Atsumu begins that gentle swaying side to side that he does, and then, he plays.
A pleasant melody drifts through the room like a tranquil serenity and washes over Kiyoomi. It’s like Atsumu is plucking the notes right out of the air as they flow through him, writing themselves into his muscles and blood and out through his fingertips where he strokes each piano key.
Kiyoomi can almost see them—the notes in the air that release from the hammers and strings. The overflow of pure emotion that they carry as they wrap around Atsumu with a gentle embrace sings a tale of love. A type of love like agape.
He looks ethereal—Atsumu, that is, bathed in the glow of the lamp-light and brilliance of the music he creates.
It’s now that Kiyoomi realizes that this is what he felt when he first heard Atsumu play the cover of his song all those months ago. That release of emotion that fell over him once again consumes him. If Atsumu was the rain that revived him, he’s now the rain soothing his battered mind.
Atsumu is right, rain does make creativity flow easier. The rain has a strange way of igniting a passion that can be as destructive as it is fulfilling in the breadth of a storm. And Atsumu is like that storm with all his rises and falls. Once he’s made up his mind, there’s no changing it. He’s an unstoppable force, barging into Kiyoomi’s life. He might exit just as easily and leave devastation in his wake, but Kiyoomi wants to brace against those winds. He’ll face the storm head-on and pray that he’s met with love instead.
Atsumu’s song comes to an end, and he pauses all his movements before setting his hands in his lap and turning to Kiyoomi. His eyes squint slightly, sparkling with passion. Truthfully, Kiyoomi has no words for him. None that can describe what he feels at least. Atsumu just… he just created something so beautiful like it was nothing.
“That was…” Atsumu raises an eyebrow and his lips lilt upwards, waiting. “Wow.”
Atsumu giggles. “I leave ya speechless, Omi-kun?”
“Something like that.”
Rising up from the bench, he walks over to the window. “Oh, it’s finally snowin’.”
Kiyoomi hadn’t even realized the sound of rain had stopped having been so swept up in Atsumu’s music. It’s late now and probably icy from the rain earlier. It’s way too dangerous for Atsumu to go home. Who knows how he even got here.
“You can stay the night in the spare room if you want.”
Atsumu turns with that fox-like smile. “Thanks, Omi-Omi!” He comes over to settle right next to Kiyoomi on the couch and pulls out his phone. “Didja know that ‘Samu and I have a YouTube channel?”
“I did, actually.”
“We don’t upload on it anymore, but it was fun. I wanna show ya somethin’.” Atsumu taps on the screen until he pulls up a video. Kiyoomi immediately recognizes it. There’s no way in hell he’s saying that though. “This song was actually inspired a lot by yer music.”
On the screen, a teenage Miya Atsumu begins playing an original song that isn’t on his album. Even though he’s seen this video multiple times, Kiyoomi listens closely. Now that Atsumu has told him that his own music inspired this song, Kiyoomi can pick out certain patterns that he tends to use weaved into the song.
It’s flattering to have his music inspire others, and so beautifully. Everything Atsumu touches comes to life though, so it’s no surprise. The world is his garden to make flourish, and Kiyoomi is just lucky enough to witness it.
“I could hear it in there subtly,” Kiyoomi says when the video ends.
“Didja like it?” Atsumu looks up at him, biting his lip. “And be honest. I’ll know if yer lyin’ and that’s just insultin’.”
“Yeah, I really did. I need to know what the deal with the fox accessories is though.”
“Ah, well it started as a joke. My high school’s mascot is a fox, and one of my friends dared me to wear some ears in a video. A lot of viewers ended up really liking it and started drawin’ fanart. It started bein’ associated with me, so I rolled with it. Then when I got signed, Kuroo said since it was already my ‘thing’ we should stick with it for branding and whatnot. It just evolved from there with the tail.”
Atsumu’s face flushes a light pink and he picks at his sweatpants. “I know it’s kinda weird, but I ended up likin’ it a lot. It’s, ya know, my signature.”
Kiyoomi thinks of all the posters and images of Atsumu he’s seen in his flashy outfits and fox tail. He’s also seen how Atsumu’s fans follow in his lead with their own headbands of ears and fox charms.
“It’s cute,” Kiyoomi says.
Atsumu covers his face and groans. “Omi-kun, ya can’t just say it all deadpan like that!”
Seeing how red Atsumu’s face is now, perhaps it’s just him that’s cute. He chuckles and collects their empty mugs to wash in the sink. He hears Atsumu’s feet padding behind him.
“Um… Ya need help with anythin’?”
“No thanks. I’ve got it.” Atsumu lingers as he finishes drying and putting the mugs away. He looks like he wants to say something. “What, cat got your tongue now?”
“No! I just… Thank ya for lettin’ me stay. I really do appreciate it. I’ll have to pay ya back somehow.”
“You’re welcome. You showed me something truly incredible today, Atsumu. I think that’s payment enough.”
“I like showin’ ya incredible things, Omi-kun.” He smiles and brushes a strand of hair out of his face. “I wanna show ya more.”
“I’d like that.”
Kiyoomi wakes with no more stiffness in his joints than usual, yet he still groans, feeling his youth slipping away. He’s twenty-six years old today. Over a quarter-century. If he can make it through the day without throwing himself into an existential crisis it’ll be a miracle.
Before he even managed to get out of bed, his bedroom door bursts open. The world really is just unforgiving today.
“Happy Birthday, Kiyo!” Komori says with a cheeky grin on his face.
“What the fuck, Motoya?”
“I know how you get, so I wanted to start your day off with positive vibes!”
Kiyoomi groans and pulls the covers over his head. Fuck Komori and his vibes. He’d rather just stay here all day.
“I picked up breakfast from that one place you like,” Komori adds.
Lifting the covers slightly, Kiyoomi peeks out. “Did you get the tamagoyaki and salmon?”
“Of course, because I’m the best cousin ever.” Kiyoomi braces himself for whatever follows that statement. It’s never anything good after proclaiming himself the best. “Now get up. You have a busy day ahead!”
Yep, there it is. Only Komori could manage to completely disregard his desire to stay home all day. Invoking birthday privileges doesn’t work with him. Kiyoomi isn’t prepared for what his dear cousin has planned.
Komori drags him all over the fucking city. He’s about ten seconds away from wrapping his hands around Komori’s neck. The only thing keeping him sane right now is Atsumu. Honestly, Kiyoomi should have just made plans with him to get Komori off his ass.
Atsumu 🦊: Omi-Omi don’t use me to ditch your cousin! (ᗒᗣᗕ)՞
You: I’m the one suffering here. He made me go into an outlet store.
Atsumu 🦊: And what’s wrong with that?
You: Nothing is inherently wrong with it. But then he made me try something on.
Atsumu 🦊: I highly doubt he can MAKE ya to do anything. You’re just being dramatic (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
You: And you’re being annoying. Here I was asking to hang out and this is what I get.
Atsumu 🦊: (￢‿￢ ) don’t worry Omi-kun. Everything will be just fine
You: I don’t like that face.
Atsumu 🦊: U^ｪ^U
You: What’s that supposed to mean?
Kiyoomi clicks his phone screen off in annoyance. He’s been abandoned. How dare he ever call Atsumu his friend. That’s right, no friend of his would ever betray him like that. It’s fine though. Komori is distracted. Maybe Kiyoomi can just—
“Alright, Kiyo. Are you ready for the main event?”
Kiyoomi freezes mid-step and turns to Komori. “Main event?”
“Why do you think I’ve been hauling you around all morning?”
“For the positive vibes,” he says sarcastically. Komori ignores him and drags him to the car rather roughly. Once they are on the road, Kiyoomi asks, “So where are we going?”
“Well, we all agree that you need to get out more. So we decided to throw you a little party!”
Kiyoomi groans. We. Little. Party. Somehow those words don’t seem to go together in his mind. He has doubts. If he’s being taken to some kind of club… It’s far too early in the day for that though, right?
“You look doubtful,” Komori says, glancing over at him. “Don’t worry. I think you’ll like this. Atsumu suggested it.”
Atsumu did? Somehow that makes him feel a bit better. It’s strange how they’ve only known each other since the end of December, yet Kiyoomi truly considers him one of his close friends. He doesn’t have anyone that he can just sit down with and talk about music to like he can with Atsumu. No one makes him smile and laugh the way Atsumu does. Nor can anyone annoy him and endear him within the same breath.
But that’s Miya Atsumu for you.
They pull up into a fairly empty parking lot, which is strange. The only other vehicles are ones he recognizes from friends. He’s not overly familiar with the area they’re in though, so maybe it’s just not popular. Komori only wiggles his round eyebrows at him as they get out of the car. Walking down the sidewalk, what looks to be a cafe comes into view. Then he sees little paw print decals on the window. Oh. A pet cafe?
Upon entering, he’s met with a group of his friends who smile and say, “Happy Birthday, Kiyoomi!”
Kiyoomi pulls his mask down and smiles at everyone. However, several are already distracted by dogs vying for their attention. Oh. A dog cafe.
Atsumu walks towards him with a Shiba Inu right on his heels. He’s wearing an oversized black and blue chimney sweater with yellow plaid at the chest and cuffs and a random stripe of cheetah print towards the bottom. It shouldn’t work, yet it somehow does. Atsumu crouches down to pet the dog, and Kiyoomi follows suit.
“So what do ya think of Cafe 4 Paws? It’s kinda new, but it’s nonprofit and all the dogs here are up for adoption. We rented the whole place out for the day and got here early to give all these little guys a bath so that they’d be nice and clean for ya.”
Scratching behind the Shiba’s ear, Kiyoomi feels a warm tingle in his chest. He remembers mentioning to Atsumu maybe once how much he loves dogs. Did he remember that? He had to. Then, he helped get everyone together and have the place just to themselves and cleaned…
“Kiyoomi-kun,” Akaashi calls, “please come over here so we can cut the cake before Koutarou does it with his hands.” They laugh hearing Bokuto’s sad whines.
The cake is beautiful, all white with buttercream piped stars filling the top. It’s immediately recognizable as one of Tendou’s creations.
“It’s a sesame white cake with salted plum sauce,” Tendou says. “Wakatoshi reminded me that you aren’t big on sweets, so I hope you like this!”
“Wait, wait! We have to sing!” Bokuto says. Kiyoomi is about to protest, but it’s too late.
Listening to people sing “Happy Birthday” is one of the atrocities people across the world share. There’s just something about the song that makes it unable to be pleasing to the ear. So he stands there awkwardly while his friends sing out of tune, and Bokuto practically yodels his way through it. However, by the end, everyone is smiling and laughing.
It’s funny. Kiyoomi has spent so much time closing himself off from others he didn’t realize how much he’s missed this. Looking around at these people who are here to celebrate with him even after he’s been a shitty friend is touching. They’re all so full of life, moving forward, yet they still offer out a hand to Kiyoomi to not leave him behind. Maybe he’s just been too blind to see it.
Then there’s Miya Atsumu who lit the damn path. He’s… well, he’s… Kiyoomi’s heart thuds when he sees Atsumu smiling at him with a poodle in his arms. He’s the air, a place where Kiyoomi can be warmed and feel raw. He is what Kiyoomi wishes to breathe, surrounding him with the scent of a morning after rainfall.
The same Shiba from earlier nudges Kiyoomi’s leg, wagging his tail when Kiyoomi looks down. Kneeling down, he ruffles the fur on the dog’s neck. He laughs fondly to himself. Maybe he’s ready to start taking that first step forward after all.
It’s another one of those days. The days where Kiyoomi feels the weight of the world on his chest. Where he just wants to lay in darkness and shut off his mind. He’d really thought he’d been making progress. However, yesterday proved otherwise.
It’s like he can see the goal right in front of him, but nothing he does brings it any closer. Kiyoomi can almost hear the melody in his head, but whenever he tries to play or write it nothing comes out. He can sit there for hours, staring at nothing, letting time pass, wishing for something to take shape in his mind.
However, the more he thinks about getting something accomplished, about all the things he needs to do, the more anxious he becomes. In the end, nothing changes. It’s all left untouched. His future depends on this, so why is it so hard to make himself do it?
In school, adults would always ask everyone where they see themselves in ten years. Of course, everyone said things like successful, married, happy. Kiyoomi himself was one of them. How was he able to envision ten years into the future all those years ago when he can’t even see tomorrow now?
Sometimes Kiyoomi isn’t sure he even likes music anymore, let alone love it.
He thinks about Atsumu. Atsumu who comes, oblivious to the love he gives. In a way, it reminds Kiyoomi of the rain bringing life. Rain and love come with full force, affect everything in the way, and leave, taking everything with it. Kiyoomi is well aware that Atsumu applies to this.
Atsumu is young, still only twenty, and so full of passion. There’s so much of him left that wants to give. It’s selfish of Kiyoomi to take all that he can, to crave the fresh air that Atsumu brings. In truth, Kiyoomi just wants to bask in Atsumu’s presence a little longer before the winds carry him away.
With a sigh, Kiyoomi picks his phone off of the couch cushion next to him and finds several unread texts from Atsumu. Checking the time, he’s been sitting here doing nothing for a lot longer than he thought.
Atsumu 🦊: Hey Omi-Omi I’m bored ٩(ˊ〇ˋ*)و
Atsumu 🦊: Actually that was a lie I wanted to see if you’d help me with something
Atsumu 🦊: It’s not anything big! Promise! (*^‿^*) 人(_ _*)
Atsumu 🦊: Omi??? (・_・ヾ
Atsumu 🦊: Omiiiiiiiiiiiiiii are ya ignoring me? o(TヘTo)
Atsumu 🦊: OK it’s real weird that ya haven’t texted me back yet. I’m coming over. See ya soon ＼(＾▽＾)／
That was fifteen minutes ago.
Kiyoomi scrambles up to change into something that’s not ratty sweats with holes. Did he shower today? No, he definitely showered. He always showers. He thinks.
As he's in the middle of pulling on an acceptable shirt, there’s a knock at his door. Kiyoomi runs his finger through his hair a few times on his way to let Atsumu in. Then there he is with a pout and a guitar case.
“Were ya really just ignorin’ me, Omi-kun?”
“No, I wasn’t. Sorry, I just…” Atsumu raises his eyebrows, waiting for Kiyoomi to go on, but he never does. What would he say? Hey, sorry I was zoning out feeling sorry about my life? Pass.
“Looks like it’s a good thing I came over then.” And it is a good thing—until Atsumu takes his coat off.
He’s, of course, wearing a gigantic sweater, but this one has a boat neck so it exposes his collarbone and looks like it’s going to slip off his shoulder with the slightest movement. There is no discernible reason to be wearing a sweater like that when it’s 10°C outside. Okay, maybe it’s not that cold, but his point still stands.
“Right… So you said you wanted my help with something?” Kiyoomi follows Atsumu to where he’s opening his guitar case in the living room.
“Yeah. So I wrote a song, but I’m havin’ trouble with findin’ the right lyrics. Yer lyrics are always impactful and flow with the song. So… will ya help me?”
“If I can. Show me what you have so far.”
They sit next to each other on the couch with Atsumu angled towards him, so the guitar’s neck points out. He closes his eyes and slightly sways his head. Kiyoomi can already feel himself becoming entranced, but he needs to focus right now. Then Atsumu starts a riff that has a pop-rock vibe and sings.
“There’s no reason to feel insecure
I can see the fire in your eyes
That same fire burns inside me too
It only feeds the hunger inside of you
This is what I live for, lust and hunger
You and I found the place we both hunger for
In your soul rages a burning fire
To be the best, you must hunger for more
It is my selfish, deep desire
The fire that we keep burning between us”
“And then I’m not sure what else to say in the second verse.”
“Hm. Play it again.” Kiyoomi leans back and takes on a thinking pose while Atsumu does as asked. Fire and passion. Hunger and desire. Love and rivalry? How to be the best? “Let me try this. Play the second verse for me?” Atsumu nods eagerly and counts for Kiyoomi to come in.
“The fire that we keep burning between us
And living in leisure, it seems so vain
Gotta put your best effort forth
I have felt this hunger growing
This is what I live for, lust and hunger
You and I found the place we both hunger for
In your soul comes the burning fire
To be the best, you must hunger for more
It is my selfish, deep desire”
“Yes!” Atsumu cheers as Kiyoomi finishes the chorus. “That’s perfect! Yer amazin’, Omi!”
Kiyoomi turns away to hide his quickly flushing face. “I’m just spouting words. Do you need a bridge too?”
“Nope! Have that all written. Look.” He pulls out a leather journal from his bag. Kiyoomi reads what he has written. It’s titled “Hunger.”
For love is a hidden warfare
In the heart of a king with a crown of thorns
My selfish hunger is growing stronger now
Shadows of lust in hunger of light
Looks good. He watches Atsumu pencil in the new lyrics, feeding him any words he forgets. Kiyoomi’s eyes linger on the exposed shoulder that the damn wide collar exposes as it slips down his arm further. Then Atsumu shuts it with a snap, bringing Kiyoomi back to his senses.
“Thank ya, Omi-kun.” He tucks it back away and then turns to Kiyoomi. Atsumu bites his lip and runs a hand through his hair before he says, “Not to be that guy, but when’s the last time ya sang?”
Kiyoomi quirks an eyebrow. “Are you saying I sound rusty?”
“Uh, well… Yeah. Yeah, I am. But there’s a way to fix that! Play me a song, Omi-Omi!” He thrusts the acoustic towards Kiyoomi who takes it tentatively.
“Atsumu, I haven’t—”
“Ya forget how to play yer own songs?”
Kiyoomi sighs and wraps his right arm around the body of the guitar. His left hand trails up the neck, pressing down on the strings, testing them. It’s almost a foreign sensation on his softened fingertips. Shuffling through his brain, he settles on “See This Through.” Hopefully, he doesn’t embarrass himself.
He successfully makes it to the chorus without any flubs and is mildly surprised when Atsumu’s voice joins his own.
“If I’m lucky enough to survive
I might just be satisfied
Though time may not be on our side
I’m going to see this through
And get back to you”
Atsumu looks right into Kiyoomi’s eyes as he sings the last line of the chorus. He’s afraid that his heart might flutter right out of his mouth if he keeps singing, but he does anyway.
The way Atsumu moves his body subtly, feeling the rhythm, is art in its own. Each nuance is perfectly captivating, brimming with a story to tell. And his voice… It’s laced with gold and silver, enthralling like a siren pulling him out to sea.
It’s been suggested that when musicians perform together that their heartbeats synchronize. They have this connection where they are so in tune with each other. It’s fascinating how a single performance can spark an ember into a full flame.
Golden-brown eyes crease in fox-like crescents as they end the song together in perfect harmony. Kiyoomi thinks he’s beautiful.
“Hey, Omi, I’ve gotta show that I’m doin’ in Osaka next month. Will ya come and watch me?”
Love is like rain—unconditional. It sees no reason, only the need to fall to its own gravity. And that’s exactly what happens. Kiyoomi falls in love with Atsumu the way rain falls to the Earth, endlessly and with reckless abandon.
“I’ll be there.”
There’s a part of Kiyoomi that can’t believe he’s doing this. The other part has been anticipating it since Atsumu asked him to come and watch. Driving to Osaka in itself isn’t a big deal. However, the fact that he hasn’t left Tokyo in years is. He’s also doing this for… a boy. Komori had literally spat his drink all over Kiyoomi’s counter when he told him.
So yes, this may be a little sudden. Komori had called it character development. Maybe it is. He’s felt lighter this past month. Happier. The clouds have parted and the sun can finally shine through. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel where a big, open field awaits him, where he can bathe in the sun’s warmth. Kiyoomi thinks Atsumu is a lot like that.
Atsumu is the air, a place where he can be warmed and feel raw. He is what Kiyoomi wishes to breathe in, surrounding him with the scent of a morning after rainfall. Atsumu, love, comfort, a gentle whisper of nothings that the wind brings, echoes of the trees whistling, and the brook's gentle roar. Always pushing him further, into the adventure and journey of being known, of being loved.
Kiyoomi pulls up to the back of the venue well before the concert is scheduled to begin. There’s no way he was going to deal with the crowd that’s bound to form. Security lets him in after showing the pass Atsumu had given him.
It has been a long time since he’s been backstage, especially at this particular venue. Somehow he’s still able to navigate it fairly well. The people around don’t pay him any attention thankfully. They’re all too busy preparing. He makes it to the artist’s lounge and spots someone he, well, not knows, but recognizes.
Model Suna Rintarou lays sprawled out on the couch, messing with his phone. What’s he doing here? Kiyoomi supposes that he and Atsumu are friends since he’s seen them together in photos for both work and social. Still, why is he here backstage?
His lingering in the doorway catches Suna’s attention, though, he doesn’t do much other than shift his eyes in Kiyoomi’s direction and raise a single eyebrow.
“Atsumu is still getting ready. Might as well take a seat.” His attention returns to his phone. However, once Kiyoomi sits in a chair, Suna speaks again. “He wasn’t sure you’d actually come.”
Kiyoomi frowns, drawing his eyebrows together. Why would Atsumu think that way? Hadn’t Kiyoomi said he would come? Thinking back, he tries to imagine why Atsumu would doubt him.
“Hey, Sunarin, do ya know where ‘Samu is?” Atsumu suddenly appears in the doorway and quickly takes note of Kiyoomi. “Omi-Omi! Ya came!”
Atsumu is wearing the tightest black pants Kiyoomi has ever seen. They hug his thighs sinfully and cinch his waist. Dear god. Kiyoomi has never seen Atsumu in his usual stage getup in person, and he usually wears oversized sweaters. Needless to say, Kiyoomi had no idea how tiny his waist was. Then there’s that fluffy fox tail hanging down his backside. Over a white button-down, he wears a sparkly, red, military-style jacket with gold embroidery and epaulets with fringe.
Kiyoomi shakes himself out of his stupor and stands to address Atsumu. “I said I would, didn’t I?”
“Ya did,” he says with a small smile and his head tilted down.
“Yeah,” Suna draws out the word as he swings his legs off the couch. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m going to go join Osamu.” Suna makes a swift exit, leaving them alone.
Kiyoomi approaches Atsumu and reaches out to feel his faux ears. “Cute.”
“I’m not cute! I’m ‘sposed to be a sexy fox superstar.”
“Sure.” Kiyoomi smirks and grabs Atsumu’s big fluffy tail and tickles him with the tip of it. “Pretty sure fluffy animals are cute though.”
Laughing, Atsumu pushes his arm away. “Ya know, most people would think it’s kinky, hence, sexy.”
Kiyoomi’s eyes widen momentarily before leaning closer into Atsumu’s space. “Oh? So you want me to think of you as a kinky little vixen?”
The rate in which Atsumu’s entire face blooms tomato red must be record-breaking. “Th-that’s not—that’s not what I meant!”
“If you say so,” Kiyoomi says, straightening up. He can’t help but tease. Although Kiyoomi is fairly sure his feelings are returned, there’s always that shred of doubt lingering in the back of his mind.
Over the past month, he’s been testing the boundaries between them—small lingering touches, fervent glances. The desire building in Kiyoomi to hold Atsumu in his arms, to kiss him, is becoming unbearable.
When it’s almost showtime, Atsumu takes Kiyoomi by the hand, subtly checking out of the corner of his eye if it’s allowed, and leads him to where he’ll be watching the concert from the stage wings. Suna and Osamu are already there. Osamu eyes them both with an expression somewhere between threatening and amused. He and Kiyoomi have never actually properly met.
“So this is Sakusa Kiyoomi in the flesh. It’s good to meet ya,” he says and sticks out a hand.
“You too, Miya-san.” Kiyoomi shakes his hand and sees him quirk an eyebrow. Suna snorts from where he’s leaning against the wall.
“Just Osamu is fine.”
“I told ya he’s an awkward fuck,” Suna says walking over to wrap his arm around Osamu’s shoulder. Ah. So that’s why Suna’s here. That makes sense.
“Alright. I needta go take my place. I’ll see ya soon!” Atsumu says, but before he leaves, Kiyoomi brushes a stray piece of hair back in place.
He lightly brushes his thumb over Atsumu’s cheek. “You’ll be great.” Atsumu smiles and heads off, glancing back over his shoulder. Kiyoomi turns to see Osamu looking at him, the tiniest quirk to his lips.
The three of them stand together and watch as the stadium lights darken and the stage comes alive. Then, there he is. Bathed in blue and pink lights, he’s something straight out of a fairytale. An enchanting being merely gracing others with his presence before he goes back from whence he came.
And Kiyoomi feels it—that magic in the air that stills the crowd and sprinkles on their faces like a gentle kiss. It’s the eye of a hurricane, calm, serene. Before long though, the wind wails, bending all to its will. Watching Atsumu glide across the stage, whirling into his life, Kiyoomi lets the winds carry him as well. He hopes it carries him to Atsumu, where he can let the rain wash over him and make him whole again, so he can love and live again.
“I’m sure ya know this, Sakusa, but there’s somethin' extraordinary about ‘Tsumu,” Osamu says, not turning to look at him. “Don’t ever let that part of him fade.”
“I won’t.” Kiyoomi will never let such a brightness dim. Stars may fall, but this one shall not ever burnout.
When Atsumu jogs off the stage on that aftershow-high, he barrels straight into Kiyoomi’s arms. He takes in the sudden force of Atsumu and holds him around the waist.
“Omi, I was great, right?!”
“You were amazing.” He squeezes Atsumu tighter. “You are amazing.” Kiyoomi would kiss him right now if it wasn’t for their small audience. For now, he settles for holding him as he’s been wanting to.
“Come to Hyogo with me,” Atsumu says suddenly.
“I want ya to understand, Omi. I want ya to hear and feel what I do. ‘Samu and I are headin’ home to Himeji. It’s the best place for that.” Eyes of molten gold and brown gleam at him. Kiyoomi doesn’t think that he could ever resist Atsumu like this.
Arriving in the countryside of Himeji is almost like stepping foot into a foreign land. There are no skyscrapers or horns blaring in traffic. The air feels cleaner and brimming with a current of something just waiting to be discovered.
Kiyoomi pulls along the road behind Osamu’s car. He and Suna beat them here by just a few minutes. They are already out and greeting a group of people in front of Atsumu’s childhood home.
Atsumu gasps. “The guys are here!” He opens the door and flings himself out of the car. “C’mon, Omi-kun, I wanna introduce ya to everyone!”
He follows behind Atsumu at a more reasonable pace. As Kiyoomi approaches the group, he thinks a few might look familiar from some of Atsumu’s YouTube videos. The fond yet exasperated expressions on their faces are definitely memorable. Several names and faces are thrown in his direction, and Kiyoomi tries to keep up, but he’s bound to forget.
Kiyoomi is currently in a conversation with one of the guys with more frequent cameo appearances.
“I always knew that Atsumu was bound for greatness,” Aran says. “The lot of us here were just waitin’ for it to happen, and with Osamu pushin’ him every step of the way, he’s really made it.” Aran’s eyes gloss over with a watery sheen, and he wipes at them with the back of his hand. “Sorry. I’m just really proud. Of both of ‘em.”
Kiyoomi definitely never kept in contact with anyone he went to school with. Even his family isn’t all that close. Komori is the only one he has a good relationship with. Seeing the genuine joy and love all these people share is something he's never had. Well, until he found his friends. Now, he hopes that he can share this with Atsumu in the future.
“Where are we going?” Kiyoomi asks as Atsumu leads him by the hand.
They’re far past where they parked at Kita’s house. It’s tiny in the distance, and all Kiyoomi can see around them is fields with scattered trees. Atsumu keeps hold of Kiyoomi’s hand as the wind billows his shirt, and a soft roll of thunder sounds.
“I used to come out here all the time in high school. I could always hear the music no matter where I was; it’s all around us, but I always found that I could hear it best here.”
Kiyoomi is about to try this listening to the music again when, all of a sudden, the sky opens up and lets out a torrential downpour. This time, he’s the one pulling Atsumu along to reach shelter underneath a tree. It doesn’t do them much good since they’re already drenched though.
The rain has already considerably let up. Now, it’s steady large droplets showering from the clouds. Kiyoomi only sees a sly smile and flash of blonde hair before Atsumu is no longer by his side.
“Get back here, you idiot! You’re going to get sick!” Kiyoomi calls as Atsumu runs out from underneath their shelter, completely ignoring him.
He watches Atsumu laugh and twirl, hope and smile in the rain for no tangible reason. It makes Kiyoomi wonder if it’s any different from love—the rain. Looking from the sidelines, under his shelter, it seems harsh. However, as he sticks his hand out and feels the droplets, he realizes how deeply he has missed such a tender caress.
“C’mon, Omi-kun!” Atsumu’s bright smile beacons him, and he goes.
When Atsumu wraps his arms around his neck, Kiyoomi’s hands automatically rest on his waist. Atsumu leans his head back, letting the rain pelt his face. They’re swaying together before Kiyoomi realizes it.
Atsumu tilts his head back in, tilting up to look him in the eyes. “Do ya hear it, Omi?”
“The music.” Atsumu closes his eyes, looking serene. “Listen.”
Kiyoomi closes his eyes. He hears the rain hitting the ground around them, the roll of thunder in the distance, and the wind rustling through the trees. He’s still not sure what exactly he’s supposed to be listening for.
Then there are soft fingers smoothing his scrunched-up forehead. “Relax.”
He tries again. With Atsumu’s hands cradling his face, he relaxes, opens himself up, and listens. The steady rain provides the perfect beat, the thunder flares for a dramatic entrance, and the wind whistles a melody. Then Atsumu starts humming a new tune; it fits in seamlessly.
“I hear it,” Kiyoomi says, making Atsumu smile.
He takes one of Atsumu’s hands in his own and begins leading him in a dance, completely in time with the music. Atsumu laughs and quickly follows. They’re completely soaked and might end up sick like Kiyoomi said, but right now, neither cares. All that exists is this dance with the storm as the score to their love story.
As they slowly come to a stop, Kiyoomi trades Atsumu’s hand for his cheek. Cradling his flushed face, Kiyoomi leans down slightly to press rain-drenched lips together.
There’s something blissful about a kiss in the rain, a tender moment that just won't wait. It’s a surge of love that’s expressed, not caring if the water soaks through to chill the skin. It’s a connection that shows the strength of their feelings, the mutual need. Perhaps it takes a lover to really see the rain—to notice every raindrop, to bear witness to its music, and to understand why it falls. Kiyoomi thinks he understands now.
That night when they arrive back at the inn of rural Himeji, damp clothes litter the floor. Kiyoomi lowers Atsumu onto the bed, kissing him with all the built-up love and yearning he poses. He runs his hands over the expanse of skin, leaving behind a trail of warm kisses. Atsumu sighs and melts into the mattress with every touch, whispering Kiyoomi’s name.
When Kiyoomi pushes into him, Atsumu clutches at his back and the hair at the nape of his neck, tilting his head to delve deeper into their kiss. Kiyoomi’s attention stays on Atsumu, watching how he throws his head back and arches into his touch.
“Atsumu,” he murmurs, kissing down his neck. “Atsu.”
“Omi…” Atsumu pats around on the bed for Kiyoomi’s hand. Lacing their fingers together, Kiyoomi presses Atsumu’s hand down.
“I’ve got you.”
Kiyoomi makes love to Atsumu the way the rain makes love to the trees; never ceasing, except to see how he comes alive.
Rain pelts against the large windows as the last rays of the sun try to peek through the clouds and into the apartment. Kiyoomi sits at the piano. His fingers dance across the ivory keys, letting a flowing melody ring out in the room. With his spirit revived, music once again flows through him as easy as breathing.
They say that water holds memories. That means that each raindrop is the drop that kissed their skin from that first strike of love. Each one is the same because they sing of these treasured memories, of the burning love that it witnessed. And so, Kiyoomi decides that he loves the rain more than photographs, for each one is a perfect moment.
He smiles as he writes the notes down on the staff. It’s been a long time since Kiyoomi has written a song, but well, he has a pretty great muse.
Arms slide over Kiyoomi’s shoulders from behind him. “How’s it comin’?”
Kiyoomi takes Atsumu’s hands and places kisses on his knuckles. “Good. Though I told you not to listen.”
“But I wanna hear!”
“And you will,” he scoots over and pulls Atsumu to sit down next to him, “when it’s finished.”
Groaning, Atsumu leans his head on Kiyoomi’s shoulder. “Fine… Will ya play me a different song then?”
“Of course, love.”
Music is their love language, for love is just music without volume.
Kiyoomi can hear the crowd chanting his name from where he’s finishing up his final checks backstage. There’s a part of him that really can’t believe that he’s here. After three years, he’s about to set foot on a stage and perform. After three years, people still come together to watch him and hear his music. After three years, he finally feels like he has a reason again.
“Are you ready, Kiyo?” Komori asks. Kiyoomi nods. “I’m proud of you, you know?”
“Thanks, Motoya. I honestly don’t know if I would have made it here without you.”
“Stop, you’re going to make me cry.” Komori hugs him. Kiyoomi returns it, rubbing soothing circles on his back. When Komori pulls back, he’s smiling. “Now get ready. You’re almost on.”
“Omi!” Atsumu lightly tugs on his sleeve, demanding his attention.
“What is it, baby?”
“Just wanted to say that I love ya.”
Kiyoomi smiles and caresses Atsumu’s cheek. “I love you too. Listen closely to my new song, yeah?” When Atsumu nods, he places a kiss on his forehead. “Alright, that’s my cue.”
Enthusiastic cheering greets him as he walks out on the stage. Waving to the crowd, he stops at center stage and speaks into his microphone.
“Hey, Tokyo, how’s it going tonight?” He chuckles at the ear-splitting screams he receives. He’s missed this. “Glad to hear it. Now I know that it’s been a while since I last performed, but it’s good to be back. It’s all thanks to some really amazing people in my life. And this song I wrote is about the love of my life. Would you like to hear it?”
Kiyoomi looks offstage at Atsumu as screaming fans fade into the background. Atsumu stands there with his eyes slightly squinted and a dazzling smile. He’s beautiful. Kiyoomi loves him so much.
“Alright. This one’s for you, Atsu. Here’s “You’re Like the Rain’.”
As the music starts, Kiyoomi turns to look out at the crowd. There he sees several glowsticks waving in the air. The piano intro comes to an end, and the first verse begins.
“I’m in my head, all burned out
Can’t keep these feelings out
I begin to dread each new day
Something keeps on holding me back
And I fear I won’t come back
Can I find any other way”
For three years, Kiyoomi was at a complete standstill, his life put on hold. He was at a loss. Music had lost its meaning. Thank god Komori dragged him out to the izakaya that night.
“Then I heard you, then I saw you and
You’re like the rain, reviving me
Gentle in all your grace and in my embrace
You’re like the rain, when you kiss my face
We’ll dance in the storm together
With it as the soundtrack of our love
You’re like the rain”
Then it was Komori again who said he would present at the Record Awards. That night completely changed his life. His cousin is never going to let him forget it either. It’s when Kiyoomi met the most amazing person. Because Miya Atsumu? There are no words that can do him justice.
“You make me feel whole again
Learn to laugh and love again
Bring me to life in every way
Let this feeling wash over me
Please just take control of me
It gets more riveting every day
Now I want you, now I need you because
You’re like the rain, reviving me
Gentle in all your grace and in my embrace
You’re like the rain, when you kiss my face
We’ll dance in the storm together
With it as the soundtrack of our love
You’re like the rain”
There’s not a day that Kiyoomi isn’t thankful for having Atsumu in his life. He’s a hurricane—full of emotion and stubborn, charging in full speed ahead. Though Kiyoomi wouldn’t have him any other way.
“Like a storm, you’re whirling, unstoppable in your wake
You can bring devastation, wreak havoc on my heart
Your smile, it’s blinding, and you refract on the prism of my heart
You’re like the rain, reviving me
Gentle in all your grace and in my embrace
You’re like the rain, when you kiss my face
We’ll dance in the storm together
With it as the soundtrack of our love
You’re like the rain”
Kiyoomi looks to the stage wings, meeting the glistening, golden eyes of Atsumu—his love, his rain.