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mysophobia (noun)

extreme or irrational fear of dirt or contamination

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He’s not sure when it started. No one is. His father thinks Kiyoomi came into this world gurgling and squirming and afraid. If his mother’s ever had any theories or opinions on the subject, she’s kept them to herself. 

Regardless of when it started—or how—this is and has been Kiyoomi’s reality for as long as he can remember: taking a little white pill every morning, washing his hands up to twelve times a day, hunching his shoulders as he maneuvers through crowds, and strategically putting as many layers as possible between himself and the rest of the world. 

And in every sacred, stolen minute in between: volleyball. 

He does know exactly how volleyball started. In the beginning, it had nothing to do with his hypermobile joints or his height or his strength; it was simply one small part of the tedious process his father called “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”. 

The goal isn’t to cure you all at once, he had explained without looking up from his notes while Kiyoomi, barely eight, had wrung his hands together and tried not to think too hard about the particles of dust floating about in the splinters of sunlight coming in through the blinds. For now, we just want to delay your responses. Then, based on how well you respond to that, we’ll establish your treatment plan.

First they’d tried piano, which bored Kiyoomi to frustrated tears; then they’d tried basketball, which sent him into fits and tantrums. The sustained contact these activities demanded—with keys and balls that had been touched by who-knows-how-many people—pushed Kiyoomi past his limits too quickly. 

Volleyball, it turned out, had just the right balance of touching to not-touching and just enough excitement that it rendered that gurgling, squirming, afraid thing inside of Kiyoomi completely, blissfully, finally quiet.

It was love from the first whistle, before he really knew what love was.

 

*

 

Atsumu Miya is probably the most dramatic person in the entire world. He’s also—in a recent and wonderful development neither of them have totally wrapped their heads around—Kiyoomi’s boyfriend.

“Just leave me here to die,” he says when Kiyoomi finds him crouched outside the corner store, knees folded up to his ears and arms curled over his bowed head. 

There’s a half-inch of exposed skin on the back of his neck that’s flushed a ruddy red, and Kiyoomi’s body thrums with the sudden, impossible urge to sink his teeth into it. Instead, he balls his hands into fists and shoves them so deep in his pockets that his jacket starts to stretch.

“What happened this time,” he says, tone too flat for it to really count as a question.

Atsumu raises a fist that’s clutched around a plastic bag, like that’s explanation enough—which it is. After a beat, he says, “I got ‘em.” His neck seems to go redder.

“Yeah,” Kiyoomi says unhelpfully. “Get up now.”

“Don’t tell me what to do. I’m waitin’ to die here, Omi-kun.”

“You can do that at home.”

“Sure can,” Atsumu agrees in his sweetest, brattiest tone. “But I’m doin’ it here.” 

Kiyoomi sighs, looks around to check their surroundings, and quickly shifts closer to the shopfront to avoid a group of excited middle schoolers coming down the sidewalk. Atsumu’s got the thigh strength to stay here like this all afternoon if he really wants to, and Kiyoomi doesn’t have enough patience by half to wait that out. 

“You said you wanted to,” he tries instead.

“Yeah, well, I say a lot of things!” Atsumu cries, voice rising and cracking on the last few words.

When he gets like this, it’s usually best to just let him wring himself out. There’s no way to talk around or through Atsumu’s feelings; he just has to feel them until he’s too tired to keep feeling them. 

It’s something that fascinates Kiyoomi to no end; it may even be one of the things that attracted him to Atsumu in the first place. If he knew when the seeds of these tender feelings had been planted maybe he could say with certainty, but he doesn’t. He just woke up one morning, went to practice, and experienced a feeling like flowers blossoming in his chest—which is to say: painful as fuck—when Atsumu threw his wide, cocksure grin Kiyoomi’s way.

Now he looks down and tries not to fixate on the back of his boyfriend’s neck while Atsumu has a public meltdown over buying a pack of condoms, and he longs for the days when his feelings were so gentle. 

When Atsumu looks up at him now, his mouth smushed against the side of his knee in a pout, Kiyoomi curls his fists—still pushed deep in his jacket pockets—so hard he feels his knuckles start to cramp immediately. 

It can’t be good for him, wanting this much. But there’s no stopping it. Not when Atsumu’s all red from his neck to the tips of his ears, his gaze a little bleary like he hasn’t seen the light of day in hours, his hair tousled from however many times he pushed and tugged at it while quietly losing his mind on a crowded street in the heart of Hirakata City. 

Just looking at him like this stirs up a cacophony of feelings inside Kiyoomi. There’s the wanting, sure, but there’s also a sour note of guilt, too. Is it normal to get this worked up seeing your boyfriend look distraught like this? Probably not. Can he help it? Definitely not. 

He shifts his weight from foot to foot to work off some of the restless, nervy energy that’s coursing through him now and swallows thickly around the sudden knot in his throat. There’s a line between Atsumu’s brows that he badly wants to trace, and Kiyoomi thinks he could cry for want of tasting the unhappy twist of his wide mouth. 

Someday, someday, someday, says the trochee of his heart.

He says, “You’re very—”

“Handsome,” Atsumu provides helpfully.

“—red.”

Atsumu’s glare transforms his expression into something close to naked rage, and all at once he looks like a hissing, spitting cat. “Excuse me?” 

Kiyoomi wishes so, so badly that he could be brave enough to kiss him. Just the once. Open-mouthed and hungry, swallowing each other’s voices, with fingertips pressed to each other’s jaws or cheeks or scalps. Just one time. He lies to himself by believing he wouldn’t get greedy for any more than that.

“Getting redder,” he warns instead of voicing any of this. He casts a cursory glance out to the street around them, where foot traffic actually seems pretty sparse for the time being. “No fans around, at least.”

This, unbelievably, seems to be the exact right thing to say. 

Atsumu goes still all at once, eyes darting around, and he draws a slow, deliberate breath before lifting himself out of his crouch. He runs a hand through the front of his hair, smoothing out his bangs as best he can without a mirror. His face is still flushed, and he doesn’t quite meet Kiyoomi’s eyes while he straightens his clothes.

“Speak for yourself,” Atsumu says with the absolute confidence of a man who truly believes everyone on the street is his fan. 

He’s dating Narcissus himself, but it’s fine. Kiyoomi knew this side of Atsumu from the beginning, and he fell for him just the same. 

“Finished?” he asks.

Atsumu appears a cap from out of nowhere and pushes it down hard on his head so the bill casts a dark shadow over his blushing cheeks.

“With you? Thinkin’ about it. You know—” he shakes the bag, “—I can still return these, if you’re gonna be all ungrateful like this.” 

“Maybe,” Kiyoomi concedes, “but you’d have to talk to the clerk to do that, and I think you’ll swallow your tongue if you try.”

Atsumu sniffs as condescendingly as a person the same color as a tomato can. “I’m pretendin’ you didn’t say that, but only cuz I wanna do this just as much as you, ‘kay? Not cuz you deserve it, cuz you don’t.”

“Okay.”

They fall in step, a foot of space between their shoulders and elbows and hips that Kiyoomi resents and needs and resents that he needs. For a while they’re just quiet together, neither of them interested in forcing conversation. And if Atsumu notices that Kiyoomi can’t quite stop casting sidelong looks his way, he’s at least got enough tact to not say anything snide about it.

 

*

 

The simple truth of it is that they’re both touch starved and eager to taste one another. The trick is that Kiyoomi’s fight or flight instinct kicks in as soon as anyone—Atsumu included—gets too close too fast. But they’re modern men with working internet connections, so last week Atsumu had sat next to Kiyoomi on the bus into Tokyo for their rematch against the Adlers, tilted his phone’s screen so they could both read it clearly, and shamelessly Googled: how to have sex with a germaphobe.

That false bravado had come and gone in a flash, though, and Atsumu’d nearly chucked his phone out the window in his ensuing panic. 

Still, the idea wasn’t all bad. Having grown up with two doctors for parents, Kiyoomi had endured a lifetime of lectures about seeking medical opinions on the internet, so it had never occurred to him that he could crowdsource sex advice before. 

When they’d gotten back to Hirakata a day later, still riding the sweet high of their victory, Atsumu had brought his laptop to Kiyoomi’s apartment and they sat two feet apart while discussing what search terms would net them the best, most relevant results. 

(“There’s always phone sex,” Kiyoomi had suggested that night.

But Atsumu shook his head with a dark look on his face. “Talkin’ on the phone freaks me out enough when it’s not about sex stuff. Have mercy, Omi-kun. I could die just tryin’.”)

Ever since then, they’ve used nightly “research” sessions as a way to decompress after practice, alone together in the near-dark of Kiyoomi’s studio apartment. In no time at all it became clear that this had escalated into a strange sort of foreplay between them: they talk about what they want, they get flustered and overheated, and then Atsumu returns to his apartment so they can take care of themselves while thinking about one another. 

It'd probably be weird to anyone else, but it works for them. 

Tonight, Kiyoomi pulls a box out of the table by his couch, and he drops the pack of condoms inside. Their presence somehow gives transformative context to the rest of the contents—unscented sanitary wipes, medical grade non-latex gloves, and a bottle of water-based lubricant. Looking at it all together now makes Kiyoomi feel dizzy. They’d started stockpiling supplies based on the internet’s recommendations two days ago, but only now does it feel real

“When’s our next day off?” Atsumu asks from his spot on the couch, his face washed in the blue light of the laptop.

“Sunday.” Kiyoomi’s throat is so dry it hurts to speak.

Atsumu hums thoughtfully. “Sunday, then,” he decides. Then, “What do you think, Omi-kun? What do you want to try?” 

Everything, Kiyoomi wishes he could say without getting their hopes up. Instead he says, “The stuff with the clothes.”

“It’ll be hot,” Atsumu says, eyes back on the screen. “And I don’t mean that in a sexy way. Just—it’s summertime, y’know.”

Kiyoomi’s intimately aware. Summer is a tricky time of year for him—it robs him of his layers and makes him sweat. As a child, sweating had been intolerable; through volleyball, he’d grown to associate it with the thrill of hard-earned victory, and his own sweat had eventually become a non-issue—sometimes it even felt purifying.

Then these feelings for Atsumu had taken root, and Sakusa had had to suffer through the revelation that was Atsumu sweaty and panting and triumphant post-match. Nothing about that, or how it made him feel, was anywhere near pure.

“Still think you’ll like it?” Atsumu asks, and there’s a sour edge to his tone that sounds like insecurity.

He may be the most vain person in any room he walks into, but there’s also this: the quiet sense of doubt that managed to sneak its way into him sometime after high school. It’s a mystery Kiyoomi is starving to solve.

For now, though, he considers the question and the image it evokes: Atsumu laid out, fully clothed, sweating and panting and writhing against Kiyoomi’s hand pressed to the front of his pants.

“I’ll like it,” he says with certainty, and something in Atsumu’s expression seems to soften.

He likes that, too.

 

*

 

On Sunday, Atsumu shows up on Kiyoomi’s doorstep with his hair damp, his skin shiny, and his eyes down. He shifts his weight anxiously from left to right. He’s wearing a fitted, threadbare t-shirt and a pair of loose sweatpants, and Kiyoomi feels sick with the need to touch him.

He says, “I thought you’d get here later.”

“Gonna let me in?” Atsumu asks, voice softer than Kiyoomi expects. 

Some strange, tight feeling in his chest begins to unfurl.

“Thinking about it. Your hair’s still wet.”

“Yeah.”

Kiyoomi moves aside so Atsumu can step around him and into the apartment where he clumsily steps out of his shoes. He smells as clean as he looks. It makes Kiyoomi’s teeth hurt. 

How many times have they been alone together in his apartment? At least a dozen, now. But it’s never felt like this, like the air between them is vibrating. They look at each other now without making eye contact—Kiyoomi’s particularly caught by the way Atsumu’s shirt clings to the curve of his shoulder—and for a long time neither of them says anything.

Atsumu breaks first.

“So, obviously I showered,” he says. He plucks at the front of his shirt, and Kiyoomi finally looks at his face. Breathing is difficult. “These’re clean, too. What next?”

“I need to shower. Just—sit on the bed or something.” 

“Right,” Atsumu says, not meeting Kiyoomi’s eyes. His cheeks are starting to turn pink. 

With a bitten off curse, Kiyoomi gathers his things and disappears into the bathroom. He lets his lungs fill with steam and his head fill with white noise, and he wills his heart to be a calmer thing. When he closes his eyes to rinse suds out of his hair, all he sees are Atsumu’s dark eyes, damp hair, and flushed cheeks; thinking about it makes him shake and picturing it nearly makes him bite through his tongue.

He knows that the surest way to freak himself out is to overthink this, and he refuses to let that happen. Not now, not when they’re so close.

So he willfully does not think about how other people might do this or about any of the hundreds of suggestions the internet had to offer or about how they haven’t even kissed yet. Instead, he washes his body more thoroughly than he ever has and holds his breath—without consciously deciding to—when he kills the water.

The wet slaps of his feet on the tiled floor and the near-violent hammering of his heart are equally, mercifully drowned out by the bathroom vent. He leans over the sink, squints at his foggy reflection, and takes a deep breath. 

Something in his chest is sparking, his body a livewire, but it's not quite like a panic attack—there’s none of the bone-deep dread he gets in the seconds before those take hold. Whatever this is, it's something so strange and unfamiliar that Kiyoomi’s not sure what to do with himself. 

He wonders: Is this how I’m supposed to feel? and Do I just wait this out? and then, like an epiphany, Is he as nervous as I am right now?  

That’s probably the case, given the way Atsumu couldn’t meet his eyes and how uncharacteristically soft his voice had been. It makes him feel marginally less alone in whatever these feelings are and soothes his frazzled nerves just enough that he can brush his teeth, finish toweling off, and put on his own sweats and long-sleeved shirt. 

It’ll be hot, Atsumu had warned. Kiyoomi’s counting on it.

The main room of his apartment feels like a completely different place when he steps back into it. His curtains are still drawn, and the summer sunshine filtering through them renders the simple space in warm, muted colors. Atsumu is sitting cross-legged on the bed with their box of supplies in his lap. He’s staring at Kiyoomi with a flush high on his cheeks.

He says, “C’mere.”

Kiyoomi can’t not go to him.

“Your hair’s still wet.” Atsumu’s voice is still so soft it’s almost unrecognizable.

“Yeah. Are you sure—” 

With a flash of anger that pinches his full brows and twists his wide mouth into a snarl, Atsumu’s expression changes.

“Don’t you dare,” he snaps, sounding so suddenly like himself it shatters the strange, dreamlike quality of the room. “Am I sure, I can’t believe yer askin’ me that now when you’re—” he gestures widely at Kiyoomi with a strangled, frustrated sound, “—ugh. Sit down already.”

Kiyoomi sighs. “Fine.” As far as rambling non-answers go, that was more or less a yes. He imagines a no might actually be a kick to the chest.

Atsumu’s sat on the far side of the mattress and Kiyoomi takes a seat beside him, their shoulders nearly brushing but not. While he’s trying to decide what to do with his legs, Atsumu offers him the box of gloves. 

“Grab a pair for me, too,” he orders. 

The bossiness is a sure sign that he’s getting comfortable, maybe even hitting his stride, and Kiyoomi’s so relieved to hear it that he barely musters a glare as he tears the box open and plucks out four individual gloves. 

He passes two to Atsumu. Their fingers don’t brush.

 

*

 

From the beginning, Atsumu had been bold enough—or just plain rude enough—to ask the questions no one else had ever dared to. Most people took one look at Kiyoomi’s face and whatever sense of self preservation they had kicked in and told them to steer clear of personal questions. 

The first day they met, Atsumu had tried to throw a companionable arm around Kiyoomi’s shoulders during a huddle, took notice of the way Kiyoomi flinched away, and bid his time. He didn't go in for shoulder slaps or high fives after that, even when Kiyoomi smashed one of his tosses into the opposite corner of the court. Instead, he’d just held himself a few feet back, hands on his hips with a proud look on his face, and called, Nice kill!

After practice, in the dining hall, he’d sat across from Kiyoomi and said, “So, not a fan of gettin’ touched, huh? What’s the deal with that? Not that I care, so long as ya keep whuppin’ my tosses like y’did today. That thing your wrist does is real gross, y’know! How is somethin’ like that even possible?”

He’d said it all in one breath, around a smacking mouthful of rice. Watching him talk made Kiyoomi feel physically ill.

They’d been sixteen back then, Kiyoomi’s heart not yet caught in a bramble. The memory, just like every other one he has of not loving Atsumu, feels like it belongs to a different person.

 

*

 

Atsumu shifts to move the box between their thighs, and normally the presence of a makeshift physical barrier would calm the wild thing in Kiyoomi’s chest. Today, it only sharpens its teeth. 

“What d’ya wanna try first?” Atsumu asks as he works on the gloves, cheeks puffing out as he struggles to fit his knuckles in. “If you don’t have any ideas, I‘ve got some.”

Kiyoomi’s got ideas—he feels like he’s made of nothing but ideas these days—but try as he might he can’t recall a single one now that Atsumu’s said that. Atsumu’s mind is a strange and incomprehensible place, filled to bursting with bad jokes, video game cheat codes, and incorrect song lyrics. Whatever ideas he has for this afternoon, Kiyoomi needs to know them all.

He works his hands into both of his gloves without fuss. “Don’t kiss me,” he says.

Atsumu blows a raspberry at him. “Do I look like I wanna fight right now? Nah, don’t answer that. Gimme your hand.”

He offers his own hand, palm up and relaxed on the bend of his knee. Kiyoomi studies it at length, breath caught in his chest, heartbeat a roar in his ears. This is it.

“Omi-kun,” Atsumu complains, fingers wriggling impatiently.

Kiyoomi glowers at him. “Don’t be a brat,” he warns.

“But I’m so good at it.”

Their eyes meet, and Kiyoomi’s heart climbs into his throat. His boyfriend is a self-obsessed little jerk, and he couldn’t be happier about it if he tried. He reaches out and carefully slides his palm against Atsumu’s, the gloves doing little to diminish the warmth of his skin. He thinks they both shiver.

“You’d better not have a fever,” he bites out. 

“Calm down, would ya?” Atsumu huffs, peevish but visibly pleased. Kiyoomi can’t stop looking at him while Atsumu looks at their hands, the corners of his mouth lifting. Like this, soft and clean and relaxed in a splash of sunlight across the bed, he’s especially beautiful. “The gloves are sorta weird, sure, but I’m kinda into it.”

Kiyoomi opens his mouth to say something, but Atsumu interlocks their fingers together so a breathy, surprised sound is what comes out instead. It feels impossible that Atsumu’s ideas for today could start here, with something as simple and tender as hand holding. The other shoe is going to drop somewhere soon, but Kiyoomi’s got no clue where or when to expect it. 

“Ready?” Atsumu asks, and Kiyoomi’s not but he’s also not not. 

He says, “For what.”

Quick as a whip and twice as mean, Atsumu flicks him on the forehead. 

Shit!” Kiyoomi yanks his hand back to cover the rising welt with his palm, eyes stinging and Atsumu’s delighted cackle ringing in his ears.

“Your face!” he’s wheezing, doubled over his legs with laughter. “Look at your face, Omi-kun!”

Kiyoomi glares at him. His forehead hurts less now that the surprise has passed and left him in a contradictory whorl of fury and fondness. In any other case, with any other person, fondness would never have been on the table. But Atsumu’s never been one to fit comfortably in the familiar or typical, and Kiyoomi resigned himself to being smitten with an absolute asshole forever ago.

Fondness wins out.

He says, “I’m going to get you back for that,” with all the venom he’s capable of.

Atsumu, curled over his legs with his head bowed and his whole body shaking with laughter, turns his face towards him and smirks. 

“You’ll have to touch me first,” he leers.

Kiyoomi rises to the bait and reaches to run his knuckles along the back of Atsumu’s arm in one long, slow sweep. It earns him a shiver, a sigh, and a fluttering of Atsumu’s eyelashes—so he does it again, slower. Their breaths hitch.

“These gloves were a bad idea,” Atsumu groans. “My next flu shot is gonna be so weird.”

“They’re working, though,” Kiyoomi says. “I could touch you like this for a while.”

Atsumu sighs. “Promises, promises.” Then he asks, “Can I sit in your lap?” 

Kiyoomi nearly swallows his tongue. 

 

*

 

The first time Atsumu had tried to touch him after they’d decided to start up a relationship—a casual, thoughtless gesture no one could fault him for—Kiyoomi nearly brained himself on the corner of the building they were standing by. Nevermind that he’d been wearing a face mask and that Atsumu had been aiming for his cheek and not his lips; the lean-in had fired off some deep-rooted response within Kiyoomi that he’d had no hope of avoiding or taming.

Atsumu had just frozen in place as a horrible look crossed his face, realization dawning, before it melted into an easy lie of a smile. Kiyoomi had been looking at him long enough by then to know how Atsumu looked when trying to save face and avoid embarrassment, but he didn’t know what he was supposed to do with that knowledge. 

“Sorry, Omi-kun. I got carried away there,” he said, looking and sounding more contrite than ever before. 

Kiyoomi, dazed and rubbing at the back of his skull, said, “Shut up. It’s fine. We’re going to miss our movie.” 

It wasn’t until later, when they were walking back to their building, that he felt like he understood what that smile had really meant. It was a shot in the dark when he’d said, “It’s not that I don’t want to kiss you.”

Atsumu stayed quiet, every line of him suddenly held taut. That was enough for Kiyoomi to know he’d been right. Atsumu had taken the entire ordeal as a rejection. 

“Don’t be stupid,” Kiyoomi said. “If I didn’t want to kiss you, why would I want to date you?”

“I’ve been asking myself that for the last two hours!” Atsumu broke, head thrown back for him to growl his frustration to the sky. “I don’t wanna freak you out or nothin’ but I just don’t know how to deal with you lookin’ like—lookin’ like—”

“Don’t be stupid,” Kiyoomi repeated. “Just calm down and give me some time.”

Atsumu crossed his arms and looked wholly unconvinced, his expression bordering on a pout.

“You’re gonna break up with me before you ever feel comfortable kissin’ me,” he’d spat then, offering up a gleaming piece of truth in the ugliest way possible, trying to disguise just how fragile a confession it really was.

“Probably,” Kiyoomi had agreed, pulling his face mask down just enough to let Atsumu see the curve of his smirk. “Are you done moping yet?”

“I'll be done when I'm good and ready and not a second sooner, ya jerk.”

 

*

 

Having a lap full of Atsumu Miya is one thing to daydream about and a very different thing to experience. He’s heavy. Years of dedication to being the best possible setter meant an untold number of leg days, and while Kiyoomi knew Atsumu is, basically, all thighs—it’s just very different, okay, having those thighs spread wide over his own. 

“My legs are going to go numb,” he says, feeling faint.

Atsumu pins him in place with a glare. “And you’ll say thank you when they do,” he huffs. “Do you want me to go? Because I can go.” He starts to swing a leg over, but Kiyoomi grabs him by the hips, over his clothes, before he can. 

“Don’t.”

“Be less of a jerk or else,” Atsumu says, now fully preening. It’s as obnoxious as it is attractive, and isn’t that just Atsumu in a nutshell. “Am I allowed to touch your mouth? With my fingers, I mean.”

Kiyoomi studies his hands for a beat before nodding. “Is that what you want?” he asks.

“To start with, yeah.”

“Don’t do anything weird.”

Don’t do anything weird,” Atsumu mimics in a bad imitation of Kiyoomi’s voice and presses his thumb to the corner of his mouth. 

That single touch sets Kiyoomi’s blood on fire and tears a raw, hungry sound from somewhere deep in his chest. It shouldn’t be sexy, but the touches they’ve shared up to this point have been so few and far between and so often accidental and fleeting in nature, that this careful, deliberate, lingering press feels like kissing. Feels like what Kiyoomi thinks kissing might be.

“Hey there,” Atsumu says in that same soft voice again. Kiyoomi meets his eyes, and only then does he realize he’d closed his own. “Do you like that, then?”

He can only nod. 

Atsumu’s answering smile is wide and smug and makes him so impossibly handsome it’s borderline offensive. “How ‘bout this?” he asks, dragging his thumb along the curve of Kiyoomi’s bottom lip. 

It’s—fuck. It’s just a lot. To anyone else, it would probably be nothing, but Kiyoomi’s never—he’s never. He opens his mouth without thinking anything of it, and Atsumu’s expression visibly darkens.

“Oh, I really am gonna die,” he breathes as he slides his thumb into Kiyoomi’s mouth. 

The taste of nitrile fills his mouth, and the strange rubbery texture of the glove doesn’t feel right, but it doesn’t feel bad either. Atsumu watches with dark, dark eyes as he presses the pad of his thumb down firmly to Kiyoomi’s tongue.

“You’re so pretty,” he says through grit teeth. “It’s gross how pretty you look like this. No one should look this good, Omi-kun.”

Kiyoomi tries to say, This is going to make my next dental appointment very weird, but his voice fails him. Instead, he relaxes his jaw and presses his tongue up against Atsumu’s thumb. Both of them make guttural, surprised sounds at the sensation.

“Again,” Atsumu demands, thumb moving forward and back in a peculiar petting motion. Kiyoomi ignores him in favor of closing his lips around his knuckle and sucking instead.

Atsumu makes a sound that’s perilously close to a whine. 

It’s the single most erotic thing Kiyoomi’s ever experienced, and he closes his eyes to better melt into it, to commit every detail of this moment to memory: the weight of Atsumu in his lap, the curve of his gloved thumb against his tongue, the cloying taste and smell of the nitrile rubber coating all of Kiyoomi’s senses at once.

Above him, Atsumu breathes, “Can you—” and pulls one of Sakusa’s hands off his hip and moves it to the top of his thigh. 

All at once, with just that touch, Kiyoomi remembers everything he wants. He draws his head to this side and drags his mouth off of Atsumu’s finger with a wet sound.

“Condoms?” he asks, meaning do we need them yet and where are they at the same time. 

They could slow down, but Atsumu's never paced himself a day in his life and Sakusa—for once—really, really does not want to. The internet had a lot to say about learning each other's bodies inch by inch. It sounded okay, if a little embarrassing, but right now Sakusa really just wants to make his boyfriend shake and watch him come. And to make that happen, they're going to need condoms.

“Uhh,” Atsumu blinks down at him, and he’s a vision under his blush, eyes dark and half-lidded. Eventually, he processes the question and says, “Damn—yeah, one second. Hold on.”

He leans his whole body left and then back a little, rummaging in the sheets for their box. The movement has his shirt stretching up, revealing just a sliver of his belly, and the sight sends a shock of arousal through Kiyoomi’s whole body.

Atsumu says, “Here,” as he sits upright again with the box of condoms in hand. “Just me or do you want one, too?”

His voice is unsteady, his accent swinging wildly. It satisfies some innate, primal thing in Kiyoomi to hear him so affected. 

“I want one,” he admits, voice raw with just how much he wants. 

Atsumu fumbles with the condoms to separate two from the rest of the strip, then to tear those two packs apart. Kiyoomi watches in silence and presses his tongue to the back of his teeth. His mouth still tastes like the gloves. 

“I just want to say,” Atsumu huffs, dropping one of the condoms on Kiyoomi’s chest and reaching down to untie the drawstring at the front of his own sweats, “that you’re not allowed to judge me for how fast this is gonna be.” 

“Shut up,” Kiyoomi groans, unable to help the way his hips flex a little. “Shut up and just—move.” 

For once in his life, Atsumu doesn’t say anything smart or bratty and just obeys. He shifts back, walking on his knees to settle further down Kiyoomi’s legs, and they both scramble to peel back layers: sweats and underwear scrunched to mid-thigh without a second thought. 

Atsumu's body is something Kiyoomi's seen in passing in various locker rooms; they're both pro athletes in their physical primes, so it's not a surprise that Atsumu has corded muscles along his broad shoulders, a lean waist, and thick flanks. But seeing him with his pants pulled down, naked only from juts of his hip bones to the tops of his knees, is somehow the most erotic thing Sakusa's ever seen. 

Maybe it's because, like this, Atsumu's hard and eager for him—so much so that there's no trace of that lingering doubt that's always present everywhere else.

Kiyoomi's hard too, and he can feel sweat beginning to form at his hairline, in the bends of his elbows, on the backs of his knees. His head is swimming with heat and arousal, and he struggles to take his eyes off Atsumu—who's not even trying to keep his eyes off Kiyoomi—long enough to open a condom and roll it down over himself, the friction of the gloves on his hands and the condom on his cock unlike anything he’s ever felt before.

“Come here,” he demands as soon as he’s finished, but Atsumu is cussing under his breath and struggling—the condom unwilling to roll out under the rubbery, loose press of his gloved hands.

Kiyoomi’s certain he’ll die if he has to waste another second. He tears off one of his own gloves—“It’s fine, shut up,” he snaps at the look Atsumu shoots him—and reaches to roll the condom down for him. He’s careful, so careful, to not let skin touch skin, though part of him badly wants to now that he’s seen Atsumu hard and eager for him, for him

“Now, now, now,” Atsumu’s chanting as he crawls back over Kiyoomi and aligns their hips. They both keen at the first touch, their hips moving in clumsy, uncoordinated rolls to drag their cocks against one another.

It’s not enough, not nearly enough. “Hands,” Kiyoomi hisses, holding his own out. Atsumu slides his palms into them with a stuttered groan. 

“You’ve ruined me,” he moans, lashes fluttering, jaw clenching tight before he moans again, hips humping forward desperately. 

Kiyoomi says, “Be still, Atsumu,” and Atsumu whimpers high in the back of his throat but holds himself taut, eyes cracking open in a glare.

“Like this,” is all Kiyoomi tells him before taking Atsumu’s hands and curling both of them—big, beautiful hands that are molten hot under his medical grade gloves—around their cocks. It means Atsumu’s has to engage his quads and core to keep his balance, and Kiyoomi’s half expecting him to complain about it.

But instead Atsumu coos, “Oh, Omi-kun, you’re a genius,” and presses them closer together, his whole expression melting into something nearly euphoric as he takes another thrust, slower and more deliberate this time. 

Shit,” Kiyoomi bites out, head thrown back and hips flexing to fuck up into Atsumu’s grip. “We should—” he feels around with his hand until his fingers knock against the side of their box, and he blindly fishes out the bottle of lubricant from it.

It makes a mess when he squirts it over Atsumu’s hands and their cocks, but the effect is immediate and blindingly good. He throws the bottle aside as soon as he can in favor of moving against Atsumu, between his hands and against his cock in a way that makes him shivering from head to toe, again and again, just from how good it feels.

“Gonna—gonna do this all the time now,” Atsumu decides. “Every day. I’m gonna be in your bed every day like this, ohh—”

His mouth falls open and his eyes screw shut as he gives into it, the push-pull of both of them fucking into his grip in tandem. Kiyoomi grips Atsumu’s wrists like a man possessed, unwilling to let him pull away even though it looks like that’s the last thing on earth Atsumu’s interested in doing right now. 

It takes a long time for him to realize that his bare fingers are curled around Atsumu’s bare wrist, his thumb pressed to the paper-thin skin over his hammering pulse. Once he’s noticed, he can’t stop noticing—instantly and immediately obsessed with the softness of skin against skin; instantly and immediately resentful of the glove on his other hand.

Atsumu chokes out, “It’s good, right? Tell me you like it too Omi-kun. I’ll die if you don’t.”

But Kiyoomi can only stare at his slack mouth and hooded eyes and, mindlessly, reach up to touch his forefinger and middle finger to the sweet swell of Atsumu’s bottom lip. Atsumu’s mouth pulls into a sweet, smug smirk, and he opens for him like he knows. Kiyoomi hesitates, then he presses inside.

Atsumu moans around his knuckles, and Kiyoomi cusses colorfully as he feels arousal coil ever-tighter and ever-hotter in the pit of his stomach. Both of them are sweating now, but Atsumu looks nothing like he does post-match and everything like something out of a wet dream. His mouth is even hotter than the rest of him, hotter than the midday heat outside and the sun overhead. 

Kiyoomi pushes his fingers against the soft, silken curl of Atsumu’s tongue, and both of them make high, reedy sounds in the back of their throats for it.

He draws back, brushing the pads of his fingers against Atsumu’s lips, then pushes back in. Atsumu closes his lips around them and hollows out his cheeks and sucks, and that’s it—there’s nothing more Kiyoomi can do but come for him, his whole body jerking with the force of it.

Atsumu draws back off his fingers to ask, “Did you just—?” but he must get his answer from the sight of Kiyoomi melting into the bed because he just cusses hotly, fucks his hips forward three, four more times, and comes with a strangled cry.

 

*

 

Once, somewhere in the months between Kiyoomi joining the team and him confessing his feelings to Atsumu, the two of them had gotten drunk together on Kiyoomi’s couch. There hadn’t been a reason for doing it other than the fact that they’d never done it before, and at the time that was enough.

Atsumu had sunk so far into the couch that his chin was touching his chest in a way that promised horrible back and neck problems to come, and he didn’t look at Sakusa as he lamented, “I think I was in love with Shouyou.”

Kiyoomi nodded, unsurprised. He’d known Atsumu for too long not to know, on some level, what those looks were about. “You and half the damn league,” he said. 

Atsumu sniffed. “I don’t think he was ever in love with me.”

“No, he wasn’t,” Kiyoomi had said, and Atsumu had flung a throw pillow at him in retaliation, missed, and knocked their open sake bottle to the ground.

They’d both gasped and scrambled to clean it up, cussing at one another and crying over spilled alcohol like that was gonna bring it back.

After, Atsumu had said, “He could’ve loved me,” in a mullish tone. They both knew it was a lie, so Kiyoomi didn’t say it. After a long stretch of uncomfortable silence, Atsumu sighed and said, “You’re such a jerk, Omi-kun. Someone really could love me, y’know.”

I already do, Kiyoomi had had the sudden urge to say. Then: what the fuck? 

It was the first time he’d ever been aware of the thorns pressing into his heart. The revelation had been so acutely sweet it’d felt painful.



*

 

In the aftermath, once they’ve tossed their condoms and their gloves, Atsumu lays sweaty and panting on his back at Kiyoomi’s side. The patches of his skin that aren’t covered by his clothes are dripping with sunshine and sweat, and he looks damn near edible. 

“That was great,” he says with a sleepy sort of smile. “Gimme a minute and we can probably do it again.”

Kiyoomi barely hears him, too busy quickly assesses his feelings: his skin isn’t crawling, his stomach isn’t churning, and his breathing—though fast—isn’t wet or uneven. It’s like coming down from a match, before his brain starts to think about all of the people who had their grubby hands on the ball and all the times he threw his body sidelong into someone else’s to put up an effective double or triple block in time.

This is it.

It’s the exact headspace he’s desperately wanted to capture while alone with Atsumu, and he knows from experience it fades quickly. So he doesn’t waste time before rolling over Atsumu, hovering on hands and knees, fingers curling into the sheets by his shoulders.

“Kiss me,” he demands, and Atsumu’s whole face lights up.

He reaches up and cups Kiyoomi’s face between those big, beautiful hands, and Kiyoomi closes his eyes as he takes in the sensations of rough calluses and sweat-slick palms, a rough sound escaping him. Atsumu pulls him down while curling up to meet him halfway, and their mouths meet in a slick, sudden press that’s as clumsy and awkward as their first thrusts against each other had been. The taste of the gloves is still in their mouths, lingering somewhere behind their molars. 

Kiyoomi melts against Atsumu and Atsumu melts into the bed, and they kiss again and again and again.

Atsumu breathes, “Kiyoomi,” between once desperate kiss and the next, and his name sounds so sweet on those lips that Kiyoomi has to lick into his mouth to taste it. 

Eventually—once he's certain he's kissed Atsumu stupid—he draws back, takes a good look at him, commits everything about this singularly perfect moment to memory, and flicks him on the forehead.

 

***

 

Days pass, marked by practices and games and—in every sacred, stolen minute in between—their unrelenting commitment to Kiyoomi’s new, ongoing exposure therapy. Atsumu in bed is much like he is on the court: bossy and adventurous and eager to show off. Usually Kiyoomi says what he’s comfortable with then follows Atsumu’s lead, waiting for whatever new and wild idea he's got to be tossed his way. 

It’s not until one day, after two full weeks of finally being able to touch and be touched in return, that Atsumu makes a request for himself. 

They’re standing in the kitchen when he asks for it, both of them wearing only boxers as they pick apart the pieces of an orange and savor its sweetness on their tongues, occasionally pausing to trade barbs and flicks and pinches because the novelty of skin to skin contact makes even the meanest touches feel sweet. 

“If—” Atsumu starts then stops. A complicated look flits across his face, there and gone again in a blink. He tries again: “If I ask you to do somethin’, can you just give me your answer without askin’ why?”

It’s a surprise, but—”Yeah,” Kiyoomi says.

Atsumu’s face is turning a soft shade of pink. “You’re not lyin’ right?” he demands.

“When do I ever lie?” When is it ever worth his time? 

Their eyes meet, and Atsumu makes a frustrated sound before saying, “Fine, okay. Just—don’t break that honest streak here. No questions! I mean it!” 

Kiyoomi hopes the look on his face conveys just how unimpressed he is, but then Atsumu says something all at once—a jumble of sounds Kiyoomi’s brain can’t quite keep up with.

He says, “What.” Then his brain catches up and—“ What? Why?” 

Atsumu flinches, and a look of sheer betrayal takes over his face. He opens his mouth—presumably to shriek at Kiyoomi for doing exactly what he just said he wouldn’t—but no sound comes out. Or maybe he’s hitting an angry note so high on the register it’s only audible to dogs. He’s turning redder than he’s ever been, even after playing five full sets in the dead of summer, even after that first Sunday, when he’d been fully clothed and shaking in the midday sun under Kiyoomi’s hands

It’s probably not a good idea to tell him how attractive he is like this, though not saying it doesn’t make it any less true.

Instead, Kiyoomi backpedals. “Wait—Don’t—That wasn’t— ” he tries, but it’s already too late.

Atsumu points an accusatory finger at him, backs himself into the bathroom, and slams the door. 

As usual, there’s no talking through or around whatever Atsumu’s feeling, so Kiyoomi sits on the couch to wait it out. In the bathroom, the sink starts to run. When it stops several minutes later, there’s a suspended silence that fills the whole apartment until—finally—the bathroom door opens again, and Atsumu steps out. 

He’s holding two folded hand towels and doesn’t quite meet Kiyoomi’s eyes at first. Something in the hunch of his shoulders betrays his uncertainty, and Kiyoomi swallows the urge to go to him and press his hands to those corded muscles to physically push that doubt away, to work it even out of his sinews and bones.

“I know it’s weird,” Atsumu says, sounding mad enough to spit which usually means he’s embarrassed. “But, if you’re not feelin’ sick at the thought of it, could ya just indulge me here? Just the once. I won’t ask for it again.”

“I was surprised,” Kiyoomi says. “I don’t just want to indulge you—I want to do it. I don’t care if it’s weird.” Atsumu, still not looking up, seems unconvinced. Kiyoomi adds, “I’ve always known you’re weird. From the beginning. And I’m here, aren’t I?”

“Hey—!” Atsumu snaps, finally looking at him.

“You’re weird,” Kiyoomi insists. “You’re weird and vain and rude, and you’re the only person I’ve ever wanted to put my hands on.”

Atsumu pauses, and his wide, lovely mouth twists into an perplexed little frown. “When you put it like that, it sounds like ya wanna hit me.”

“Sometimes,” Kiyoomi agrees, a ghost of a smile pulling at his lips. Then he says, “You’re also the only person I ever want to let put his hands on me. For what that’s worth.”

“I can’t believe this,” Atsumu groans, and he turns around to disappear back into the bathroom. For a horrible moment, Kiyoomi thinks he might lock himself inside again. But then Atsumu calls, “Ya comin’ or what? I don’t have forever here!” and he stumbles off the couch in his haste to join him. 

In the warm light of the bathroom, Atsumu stands on the side of the pedestal sink with his palms curled around the rim, expression complicated. He looks strange, this obviously out of his depth. 

“Where do you want me?” Kiyoomi asks.

“Where do you normally stand to wash your hands?”

Kiyoomi moves in front of the sink and turns to look at his reflection, then he looks at Atsumu’s. Their eyes meet, and Atsumu bites back a little smile.

“Okay, I’m gonna—” he starts, and he reaches to turn on the faucet. “Give it a second. I’ll let you know when it’s warm.”

It’s a small, inconsequential gesture, but it catches Kiyoomi off guard with how tender it is. He wrings his fingers together and tries to calm the rabbit’s pace of his heart.

“There we go,” Atsumu says after what feels like an entire lifetime of waiting. “C’mere.” He takes both of Kiyoomi’s hands in his and guides them into the running water. 

It’s a sight to see: Atsumu’s hands curled over the backs of Kiyoomi’s, their fingers tangled together as Atsumu turns them over, this way and that, making sure every inch of them gets wet. 

In that soft voice he only uses when he’s feeling particularly vulnerable, Atsumu says, “I’ve just—thought about this a lot, is all.”

Kiyoomi’s never thought about it before, but he’s certain he’ll now think about it for the rest of his life. 

Atsumu lets go of his hands and reaches to pump soap into the middle of his own palms. He takes one of Kiyoomi’s hands again between both of his and carefully begins to lather it in suds, working in small circles from the boney bend of Kiyoomi’s hypermobile wrist up over the meat of his palm to the knobs of his knuckles. He hums something under his breath as he works—probably a song he only half-knows the lyrics to—until he’s satisfied, then he guides Kiyoomi’s sudsy hand under the faucet again. He repeats all of this with his other hand. 

Throughout the whole process, neither of them says a word.

It leaves Kiyoomi feeling boneless and unmoored, and he sways a little on his feet when Atsumu cuts the tap. 

“Almost done,” Atsumu assures him.

He takes up one of those folded washcloths and fits it over one of Kiyoomi’s hands, kneading the terry cloth gently until he’s satisfied that his hand is dry. He hesitates for a moment before bowing his head and pressing his cheek to the outside of the towel in an impossible, sweet little nuzzle. It's arresting.

Kiyoomi holds his breath as Atsumu does the exact same thing with his other hand.

“There,” he says once he’s finished.

Silence stretches between them. This time, Kiyoomi breaks it.

“All things considered,” he says, his ragged voice giving away just how affected he was by the entire display, “that’s not the weirdest thing you could have asked me to do.”

Atsumu throws the damp towel at his face. Kiyoomi bats it away with a scowl and leans in to steal a kiss instead.