Being twins didn’t mean they both had to have things, and he didn’t need it, really, but Osamu couldn’t help but ask for something anyway on graduation day when Kita handed Atsumu the captaincy title and Osamu had nothing.
Kita agreed, much to Osamu's surprise, and gave him the second button of his uniform.
Osamu though—he didn’t agree to this. It wasn't exactly an odd scene; there were other third-years undoubtedly doing the same, exchanging heartfelt words and little tokens to cherish in their wake, but there was always been a sense or romance to those acts, the kind of thing people did under cherry blossom trees or hidden corners where they were the only two people in the world that really matter. As it was, Osamu and Kita were standing behind the indoor court and were ten steps away from the shower stalls. They shared it with the basketball team and Osamu could vaguely make out their conversations past the noise of water gushing down.
“Kita-san,” Osamu said, suddenly finding it hard to concentrate on anything. “Y’know, when I said that, I didn’t mean it like this.”
“How did you mean it then?” Kita asked, but Osamu didn’t respond because he didn’t know. He liked to think that he complained as a joke, because he didn’t really need anything from Kita, but now he wasn’t so sure. Kita took his silence as an answer and leaned on the wall, arms crossed. They covered the small hole in his blazer where his button once was. Their farewell match with the rest of the team was still in an hour, so Kita hadn’t changed out of his uniform yet. Osamu was already in his volleyball shorts and together, they looked mismatched. “In any case, return it to me when we’re older.”
“No way,” Osamu refused, closing his fist around the button without a second thought. He didn’t want to give it back. It was his now, even if he didn’t really ask for it. “It’s not like ‘Tsumu’s gonna return the captaincy to you.”
“It’s different,” Kita said. Before Osamu could ask how, Kita continued, “What I have with Atsumu is different from what I have with you.”
Osamu blinked. “Kita-san.”
“Besides,” Kita paused. “That belongs to me alone, not the team, so it’s different.”
There were many definitions of different, Osamu learned over the years. There was different that fell in line with the same, like he and Atsumu, born together but growing apart. There was different that fell in line with strange, things the world could not comprehend so they shunned or shied away from them. For a time, that had been how Osamu saw Kita, unable to understand him and too afraid to. But the different Kita was saying now was like shaping the same words as special, and this, Osamu understood in more ways than one.
“Kita-san,” he said this a little more desperately, almost like a whine. But Kita was unrelenting and his even gaze only made Osamu flush with embarrassment and flattery. There was no winning with him, Osamu didn’t even know why he tried. He opened his palm and ran his thumb against the intricate engravings of the metal like it was something new to marvel at and not something he had seen constantly for the past year. He still didn’t want to give it back, but he said anyway, “When do you want me to return it?”
“When you’re ready,” Kita answered. This was the kind of thing he used to say to Atsumu whenever he asked Kita when would he acknowledge that the setter was captain material, the kind of thing Kita would tell Aran and Suna before they’d have a practice match together to fix the flaws in their tactics, the kind of thing Kita once whispered against Osamu’s ear in the empty hallway of the classrooms on the day Osamu was going to tell Atsumu he was quitting volleyball. Osamu expected the warmth of Kita’s mouth on him and closed his eyes in anticipation, but all Kita did was kiss his forehead because Osamu wasn’t ready yet.
Kita said and did these things because he needed to, because others needed it and Kita was good at it—being needed by others. But there was a fine line between needing something and wanting something, and Osamu was at a stalemate trying to figure out what all this was.
“Next year,” Osamu guessed. “When I graduate, do you want your button?”
“It’s not just a button,” Kita said, just to be difficult, even though Osamu already knew that.
Osamu took it as a no. “Then do you want mine?”
But Kita shook his head, let his arms drop so he could slide his hands into his pockets nonchalantly. Osamu glanced up to where Kita’s button should have been. “I don’t need it.”
Surprisingly, Osamu was not hurt. To give someone your second button meant giving them something close to their heart, so Kita gave his button to Osamu. Osamu didn’t know if Kita did it because he thought Osamu needed it, but what he did know was that the reason it was a button was because it wasn’t actually his heart, because Kita didn’t think he was ready for it, but something close enough.
Osamu didn’t know when that day would come, when he would ever come to be ready, but at least Kita was willing to wait. He was good at knowing what others needed and being needed himself, so it wasn’t unexpected, but Osamu wondered if it ever became tiring or lonely, and if these things ever mattered to him in the first place.
“Do you ever need anythin’?” Osamu finally asked.
“It’s never been about needin’ things,” said Kita, and his voice was as soft as it was on the day his lips touched Osamu’s forehead, and they still did not kiss.
Then, six years later:
“Here,” Osamu said, but what he presented to Kita was not the golden button he’d given him all those years ago, but the one from his own uniform, a bit more worn down and dirty. Kita remembered it because he saw Atsumu try to smear the black ink of the marker on Osamu’s uniform when they graduated. “This is for you.”
Kita took it. They sat by the front porch of his house, overlooking the fields and reminding Kita of all the work he had to do for the day but put off because of Osamu’s abrupt visit. He fiddled with the button, remembered Osamu’s graduation and how he was the only one who hadn’t given it to anyone, never even hinting at wanting to do so. Kita didn’t think much of it then, and he didn’t think much of it now.
“This isn’t mine,” Kita told him.
“I know,” Osamu said. He ducked his head, looking less like a twenty-three year old man who ran a successful business and was sure of himself, and more like the second year student whose hair Kita would ruffle in affection and tease for his overthinking. “I know you told me you didn’t need it, that’s why I shouldn’t give it, but then I realized there’s a difference.” There was a peculiar way to how he said the word difference. “Needin’ and wantin’, I mean. You don’t need it, but I wanna give it to you anyway. Like how you gave me yours, even if I didn’t need it, just ‘cause I wanted somethin’ from you.”
Kita said nothing to that, but he did hide a smile as he tucked the button in the breast pocket of his shirt, right where his heart rested. This time, Osamu’s gaze did not trail after his movements, because he had no need to. This time, Kita was the one who was quiet, and it was an answer for Osamu.
“Hey,” he said. “Do you think I’m finally ready?”
“Do you want to be?” Kita turned to him. They were closer than he thought, arms pressed against one another like they craved for some semblance of warmth in the cold morning of spring. There were many things Kita needed to do today, but only one thing he wanted to do.
“Yes,” Osamu said.
“Okay,” Kita replied, and then one hand held Osamu’s while the other cupped his cheek. He leaned forward. When their mouths pressed in a gentle kiss, Osamu gripped onto Kita’s shirt, right where the button was, just where his heart lay. The line between need and want blurred because they had found a place in between—with each other.