Atsumu's gaze remains lost, fixed on the white color of the mattress —of course, it has to be white because according to Sakusa, if it’s white then it’s easier to see when it’s dirty or has any kind of stain. His knees are flexed and his hands are caught between them and his chest, closer to his torso, waiting for the trembling of his limbs to pass.
Unlike the teammates he has had throughout his life, he is not nervous, much less before a game. He trusts in his abilities and in all the afternoons and mornings of practice, sometimes even nights, and after two years with Kita expressing that an official game is just repeating the actions their muscles already know, nerves can’t afford to be part of his system. When the number seven was on his back, and then the number one, he was used to seeing his brother, lying to his own self by saying he is not nervous while his head reviews the steps of how to make an onigiri in order to stay distracted, to watch Suna stretching all the possible muscles of his body while using his phone, Gin distracting himself by watching him because he is also nervous. When a golden claw highlights the black color of his uniform, years have passed and his attitude has changed, his absence of nerves remains the same. Hinata is more excited than nervous, Bokuto tries to suppress them by putting his headphones on and shutting up the world around him, and though he never mentions it, he always sees the way Meian lets out a breath of air before the whistle is finally blown.
He doesn’t look for a special routine nor a particular exercise because he believes in the confidence that has led him to find himself where he is, either being chosen as the official setter for Inarizaki, being called to play for Black Jackals and later being chosen as one of the six official players, or in that precise moment, since again both his efforts and abilities as a volleyball player have given him a new chance.
He doesn’t believe in luck, he doesn’t believe in fate, he doesn’t believe in the gods. He believes in himself.
"I don’t wanna be sad."
His voice is accompanied by the same feeling of loss that highlights the brown of his eyes. He mentions those words and he really wishes, he doesn’t want to be sad. He is aware that he is a skillful volleyball player so he is not surprised, he is not nervous. He is sad and for the same reason his hands count with a slight tremble.
He feels Sakusa tightening the grip around him with his arms, and the same action makes him be closer to his chest, once again believing that if there is something he has to be thankful for, it’s that Sakusa is his teammate and therefore he is as athletic as he is because he always prefers to lay his head on Sakusa's chest rather than just a thinner cotton pillow because —of course, it has to be soft cotton so his necks don't hurt and so they have a good posture, at least that’s what Sakusa tends to say.
"Neither do I." Sakusa agrees, his voice more serious than his.
Atsumu wonders if this is the feeling that his brother describes to him, the taste of a bitter coffee with the sweetest cream decorating the rim of the cup, when he assures him that there is nothing better than eating cheese with a strawberry because the flavor is sweet but bitter, soft on the palate but then sour. It’s not too sweet and not too sour, and Atsumu can’t find words as accurate as those to describe his situation. If years ago he had thought of himself being like that, with his emotions fighting each other while Sakusa keeps him secured in his arms in the apartment they share, he would have laughed and made a simple movement with his hand after not taking the comment seriously, discarding the simple idea of imagining such future.
"But I still am."
He guesses that being sad is okay. He is also happy, very happy. But it’s a weird happiness. Melancholy stays glued to him in the same way as Sakusa and he doesn’t believe that he will separate from it in the near future, nor from Sakusa either. Being sad is a permission he gives himself, because if his abilities are what allow him find himself in a situation like that, then it’s also his right to react as he wants. Smiling, crying, being confused, excited.
Atsumu closes his eyes when Sakusa caresses him with his thumb, drawing an imaginary line with the help of it on his arm, assuring him that he is not the only one to find himself in that way even if Atsumu is the protagonist and therefore he is the one to seek refuge in Sakusa’s arms.
He knows that believing in himself is not the same as knowing what life will bring him. It’s to expect the best results but not to be surprised if they don’t appear because life is life and there is nothing more to add. There is no supreme knowledge or second words hidden behind sentences. There is no magic around them, no luck to accompany them. Life is nothing more than life, days passing, weeks ending, months pacing, and years changing numbers with each movement of the needles of the clock.
He is never nervous because he thinks that being nervous is not worth his time.
He is not nervous when he is elected captain of the Inarizaki team in his third year of high school, because Kita choosing him to occupy the same position is motive enough to assure him that if Kita trusts him, then he can do it. He is not nervous when his first training with the people that compose the Black Jackals team happens, because his reputation precedes him and Bokuto has already taken it upon himself to assure the entire team that it will be a great year. And he is not nervous when the Coach calls him three days ago to tell him that he can continue without feeling nervous, but excited.
In four months everything changes. A well-known team for England wants him.
Meian knows it. His brother knows it. Suna knows it. Kita knows is. His parents know it.
Sakusa already knows it.
One leaves. One stays.
He is proud of his achievements, of being called and of having a new opportunity to continue enjoying the sport he loves and for which he has always sought to improve throughout his life. He is happy because he has a new way to continue playing, to keep learning and meeting five more people with a net in the middle against other five. He is excited because it’s a team he has followed for several years, which way of playing is to his liking, and which uniform will probably highlight the blond of his hair and the brown of his eyes. Joy is part of his group of emotions because he plays in the right way to attract the right attention. And being positive is an attitude he wants to keep but, "I don't understand why it didn't happen earlier."
He doesn't understand not because he has always sought attention and therefore it’s strange that only now a foreign team has noticed him when the cameras have been focused on him even since his high school days, nor because he has an ego of the same size as his brother's stomach or Suna's phone memory, but because he only has to question life itself, expressing those words out loud since he really doesn't understand why now, why his surroundings should change when he's happy where he is.
With Osamu and Suna living just ten minutes away from the apartment he shares with Sakusa, who continues to keep him protected in his arms as well as with his back against the headboard while he is settled on his chest, with his knees close to the same but not so much because he wants to breathe and he already has enough with his hands not being as still as ever. With both having the same schedule since they must attend the same training and therefore wear the same uniform and share the same colors to strive for victory.
"Because Black Jackals is a really well-known team, and many people attend or watch the games on television, that's why I always want to leave the fan meetings. Always so many," Sakusa comments, leaving his chin on his blond hair. "In high school you were known but now much more, even more after you were placed second on the serves rankings. Also, Hinata and I joining the team at the same time allows you more exposure because we are different players, and together with Bokuto, the three of us hit your passes differently, which lets people who understand the sport to realize that your passes are accurate no matter what player it is."
"You hafta answer that you dunno, Omi."
Sakusa purses his lips and Atsumu suppresses a smile, though anyway it appears on his face for a few seconds because it’s not surprising that Sakusa gives him a short but precise list of why a foreign team wants him as a player. And he can only realize that Sakusa is still as honest as before.
Again he opens his eyes, thinking that he is not nervous either, that somehow he has allowed himself to be attracted by that honesty that can sometimes be totally brutal but free from bad intentions. Sakusa always gives his opinion and expresses his thoughts aloud no matter if sometimes his words feel like an arrow in the middle of his pride or a knife in his heart, on some occasions even accompanying his sentences with a small laugh to make it clear that he is not as serious and free of all humor as people think.
"You will meet new people." Sakusa mentions.
Atsumu is aware that he will meet new people, there is no need to tell him. He knows that he will probably compare his new teammates with the old ones. If someone will mention the gods and the different stories about how the world was created, he will remember Kita saying that he lives for himself and not because someone is watching him. If someone turns out to have dyed red hair, he will think of Hinata's natural hair that he probably doesn't realize is envied by many. If someone turns out to have a phone case with an owl or a fox, images of Bokuto, Suna, and his brother will appear in his head. And as soon as he sees the first mole imprinted on someone else’s skin, he will remember Sakusa.
"It's also a great country. I mean, I never went there but you get distracted very easily."
His brow furrows because if he is distracted by everything then his thoughts will end up going to the known, to his first distractions that probably, and without a doubt, will keep him unfocused the first days because they are different continents, different countries, and different cities. His thoughts will jump between the known and the unknown, making comparisons incessantly and at some point forcing himself to focus after slapping his head because he must clear his mind in order to rest his concentration on the moment he is in.
"You can try new food too. You can send photos to your brother."
He bites his lower lip because seeing his last name decorating his brother's shop will no longer be a possibility, nor will he entering it and offering his best smile to the clients who recognize him, while Osamu keeps giving him the same incredulous look every time he goes because people rest their attention on them, the difference of their lives soon being the subject of conversation at all the tables. Because if until now Osamu has been the brother who didn’t continue playing volleyball and Atsumu the brother who still plays volleyball, now in a professional way, Osamu will become the brother who continues in Japan and Atsumu the brother who is in Europe.
Gaining an opportunity implies losing other opportunities.
It’s a chance to change his environment, to leave the known behind and face the unknown, with familiar faces and places still impregnated in his mind, thinking about them, remembering them. It’s difficult and it will be difficult, and he knows it because he doesn’t believe that just because he is capable, it will be easier for him to change. He feels the tightness on his chest grows as well as the discomfort in his body as the trembling of his hands finally disappears, his lips white by the line his mouth forms and his vision becoming cloudy.
"Your english is good? You could practice with Adriah-san."
Atsumu rests his hand on Sakusa's chest to separate himself from him and the black of Sakusa's pupils meets the tears accumulated in the corners of his gaze when he holds his, his words being the reason why his vision is clouded and his chest burns with pain. Sakusa stops keeping his arms around him as if he had made a mistake no matter that he is aware that words can hurt and leave scars as physical as bruises.
"You don't care that I’m leavin’?" Atsumu asks him.
"I'm fine seein’ the same stupid buildings as always, I don't even pay attention, I don't know what color our building is." He assures him, because the two of them being teammates implies that he doesn't pay attention to the colors of the building or its height, since Sakusa walking beside him is distracting enough so that he can only focus on the frown on his face in case it wasn't a good practice, or on the blush he can still see peeking out from under his face mask when he says something and Sakusa tries to deny the effects of his words on his skin. "I like ‘Samu's food." He doesn’t hesitate to say, because he can deny loving him, he can deny missing him, but he must be insane to deny that his brother's cooking skills can be compared to his when he plays volleyball. "I like yours." He bites his lower lip as the tip of his index finger meets Sakusa's chest. "I even like what Bokkun cooks. When Shouyou-kun makes brazilian dishes and even the vegetable stir-fry that Meian-san cooks." He adds, still staring at him to let Sakusa know that the tear sliding down his cheek is his fault. "My english is good and so what. You don't mind me leaving?" He knows the answer is yes, that Sakusa does care, but it still hurts. "Ya don’t mind tellin’ me all that stuff like I'm not gonna miss—"
"I do care." Sakusa cuts him off and takes his wrists in his hands.
Because Sakusa also knows that Atsumu is aware that he does care.
Atsumu holds his neutral expression, with his chest rising and falling as the rest of his body doesn’t because his eyes correspond to Sakusa's gaze.
"I do care." Sakusa repeats, his grip around his wrists becoming softer as the seriousness of his voice is still present. "And it hurts me. I don't want to stop you. I want to be happy for you."
"Fight for me." Atsumu asks him.
He wants to hear him say what he really feels because he himself is the representation of confusion so the situation can’t get any more disconcerting, but Sakusa stops keeping his hands around his wrists and looks down, his typical pout on his face and tiredness installed on his shoulders. A few of his black curls fall onto his face and his frown remains furrowed though he doesn't seem to be angry.
"I'm fighting for you by not telling you how I really feel," He says, "I’m fighting for you by not fighting against you."
Atsumu frowns though his gaze is still clouded. "Tell me." He asks him again.
"What do you want me to say?" Sakusa looks up to shoot him a serious look. "That I don't want you to go?" Atsumu bites the inside of his lower lip. "That I’m proud of you but that I would have done the impossible for the Coach not to tell you?" He asks, his eyes never leaving Atsumu's. "Would that make you feel good? Would it make this situation any better?"
Atsumu shakes his head and wipes a tear from his cheek with the hoodie’s sleeve that in fact, belongs to Sakusa. He scrubs the clothing against his skin as soon as he thinks that perhaps he can take the item with him, perhaps asking Sakusa if he can, or perhaps without asking. "I still wanted ya to say it."
Sakusa rolls his eyes before resting his hand on his because he doesn't want Atsumu to leave a pink mark on his cheeks after scrubbing the hoodie with it, and replaces his hoodie’s sleeve with his thumb after gifting him a light caress, Atsumu leaning towards the contact that now the palm of his hand on his cheek offers him while Sakusa swallows dry, realizing how ruined Atsumu is, how ruined he is, how ruined they are both. He has so much to say and so many words to leave deep in his throat because he doesn’t want to make the situation worse, realizing everything that Atsumu makes him feel and provokes, as if he weren’t already aware of it.
"I dunno if it makes me feel better," Atsumu says, finally pulling away from his touch. "But you never care and you always tell me everything no matter what it is, so I don't want you to start containing yer words. Not now."
Sakusa inhales a large breath of air and then allows it to leave his system after exhaling through his mouth. He is aware that he expresses his opinion when he wants to because he prefers to be honest instead of letting lies be implied with his lips, but always telling the truth doesn’t mean no kind of pain or suffering. To be honest is to be ready for any type of reaction.
"I don’t want you to go."
The brown of Atsumu's eyes crystallizes and Sakusa looks at him.
He doesn’t want Atsumu to leave. There are no more or less words to add. He doesn’t want Atsumu to leave, it’s as simple as it sounds.
Atsumu gets closer until their lips are brushing. "Stop me."
The irony is that Sakusa smiles and rests his hands on his head to bump his forehead with his for a second, causing Atsumu to close his eyes in the moment and then look at him again, Sakusa's eyes now remaining on his lips. "I'm not selfish."
Sakusa bites his lips because he sees the beginning of a small, daring smile caressing Atsumu's face. It’s true that he doesn’t hesitate to take away Atsumu's pillow when he dares to steal his in the first place —although he tends to do so because that action leads to Atsumu to get up confused, with neck pain because he doesn’t find his pillow just to give up and decide to use Sakusa's chest as such. When he doesn't want to run with him in the morning because he's still tired, he doesn't doubt to say no to continue sleeping, not caring if Atsumu frowns and tries to form a convincing pout with his lips. He walks away when Hinata and Bokuto start complotting and instead of staying with Atsumu so he doesn't suffer on his own, sometimes he leaves while sometimes he joins the others to laugh at him too.
And perhaps he considers himself selfish because Atsumu is his and he is Atsumu's. Because for months they ignored the feelings that perhaps other people had for them just to see each other, to look for each other, sometimes the other being aware of that gesture while other times not. He spent days and nights being selfish, looking out for Atsumu without actually confessing how he felt and how he continues to feel, saying nothing, hoping that Atsumu would be the first to take the first step even if, as Atsumu has told him, he is the one who usually speaks regardless of the reactions he can receive. He is selfish because just as he knows that Atsumu is his first time, he is also Atsumu's first time.
"But not with this." He assures him.
Perhaps he is selfish, but he can’t, and won’t, ask Atsumu to stay, because he doesn’t want to either, and because expressing that he doesn’t want him to leave is not the same as asking him to do so. Since the training they both shared when they were still in high school, he knows that Atsumu's sets are as precise as the smile he makes appear when he feels he needs to decorate his face with it. Without hesitation, free from all doubts. He knows that he is not surprised that he continued to receive the same types of passes in Black Jackals, even more detailed, more accurate, so for him it’s not a surprise that a foreign team wants the passes he has been hitting as well as giving him his own special touch with the help of his wrists.
Sakusa wraps his hands behind Atsumu’s neck to draw him towards him so they can be as close as before, now with Atsumu using the space between his shoulder and his neck as a special place for his face as well as with his arms around his neck while his fingers caress his black locks. In a couple of months it will no longer be possible for them to be in that way, and if at that time they choose to give each other love through physical contact for the same reason, they don’t know, because the reality is that Atsumu represents a whole new world Sakusa has allowed himself to discover slowly, touring after taking small steps, moving forward without any rush because both must feel comfortable, that moment demonstrating that just as before he didn’t want Atsumu’s hand to rest on his shoulder, now even a kiss is welcome in the same area.
"You can pretend that ‘Samu is me."
Sakusa lets out a giggle that doesn’t really sound like an honest laugh and lowers his eyes to him to caress him on the cheek. "It’s not that easy." He assures him, because it’s not easy.
It’s not easy because love is not. Throughout his life he had never really questioned what is love and what it feels like to be in love because volleyball and his studies have always kept him busy, but when the first of those includes the new setter of his team, which turns out to be a familiar face, being busy is the same as being distracted, because with his bleached hair, the smirk on his face, and his kansai dialect, Atsumu Miya shows him that love is not easy and that nevertheless he doesn’t want —nor can he— stop thinking about it, feeling it. Thinking about Atsumu, feeling Atsumu.
"Your brother has now made the wise decision of leaving his hair as it is while you keep making all kinds of trouble in your head," He says as Atsumu laughs when he stops hiding his face in his neck to allow Sakusa to pass his fingers between his already ruined locks from bleaching them so many times, but that anyway Sakusa keeps playing with because he is already used to being the one who makes that mess on his head; since although it’s true that they can pay the best hairstylists and that they have that industry trying to contact them because their faces are known, anyway every so often Atsumu arrives at the apartment they share with a small box in hand exclaiming that it’s time again, and soon Sakusa finds himself with gloves on his hands and erasing the black color of Atsumu's hair.
Because in addition, Sakusa is the one to smile when Atsumu opens the door of the locker room to ask the rest of his teammates what they think of his hair, that in fact has nothing new but the absence of black roots, and the only thing he receives are compliments of how well Sakusa does his job, making Atsumu the one to complain while he continues to hide his smile of satisfaction under his facemask.
"You and your dumb, stupid, and annoying accent." Sakusa caresses the side of his face with his knuckles, Atsumu’s skin still wet thanks to the tears previously shed, until he reaches his mouth and contours the edge of his lower lip with his thumb, swallowing when Atsumu doesn't hesitate —of course he doesn't hesitate— to transform them into a smile after knowing that Sakusa's attention is once again on that part of his face. "And this smile that has brought me, and continues to bring me, so many problems," He adds, knowing that just as sometimes he just wants to turn around to stop seeing Atsumu when he doesn’t doubt to hold that personal signature on his face after being the one to commit more points by himself and so giving the advantage to their team with his services, or at practice when he makes a setter dump followed by that smile that everyone who plays against him wants to erase, there are other times when he thinks that he only wants to continue seeing the curve of his mouth, ignoring the world around him because that gesture is enough to roll his eyes but also to make the same kind of smile to decorate his face; and other times, when he decides to taste said smile with his own.
He leans down because he can and because he wants to, and because Atsumu keeps smiling when their lips meet as well as having his arms around his neck to assure him that he is tempted with his mouth in the same way. Because although Atsumu normally holds a vain smile while Sakusa a small yet noticeably annoyed pout on his face, they both slide their eyes to their lips when they have the opportunity to do so. The shared kisses only belong to them and no one else, they have already lost track of all the times they have used their mouths to mark each other's skin, sometimes tracing aimless paths with their lips, sometimes the color purple interrupting their skins being enough evidence of how lost they are.
Sakusa leaves his forehead on his once they break apart and it’s he who closes his eyes when he feels Atsumu's hands clasping behind his neck to caress his skin as well as the beginning of his scalp. "You move too much when you sleep," He continues, remembering all the times that just as he had woken up with Atsumu sleeping on his chest, he had also woken up with Atsumu using his face as a pillow for his arm. "You sing so, so bad," If he is distracted and his lips begin to whisper a song while he is doing another type of activity, he knows that he can only blame Atsumu and his mania for dedicating all the existing songs to him. "Your cooking sucks," He had once given him a chance to be in the kitchen only because he had made the mistake of thinking that since Osamu cooks well and they are twins, then Atsumu knows how to handle himself in the kitchen, but after seeing his plate seeming a personal live stream from space focused on a black hole when their dinner was supposed to be chicken nuggets, he realized that perhaps the two share blood and facial features but not knowing how to cook. "So," Sakusa moves a few inches away from him, promptly encountering brown that, as he often teases, he has also learned to consider as his own cup of coffee in the morning. "You are irreplaceable."
"Omi-omi, why do I hafta leave the country for ya to tell me this?"
Atsumu only utters that question to tease him because that’s how and who they are. They annoy each other because they love each other, and they love each other because they annoy each other, and because although he is willing to listen to Sakusa pronounce all the reasons of why he is irreplaceable, he has long learned to read Sakusa and the different options that he has at his disposal to let him know that he is the only exception to all the rules since he also respects them. Because a morning kiss on his forehead is enough to let him know that he likes to share a bed with him even though he makes a mess of it with the sheets at night since he can't stay still, as well as the attempt of a repressed smile on his face assures him that although he sings very bad, Sakusa never forgets the songs of his playlists.
"Because I didn't really think you would leave even if I never doubted your efforts."
Sakusa knows that it’s not just the two of them, although sometimes it feels like that. The world is big and sometimes unknown, and they are volleyball players, chess pieces moving on courts but also outside of them, since as well as one day they are wearing the same uniform and the same colors, another day those colors will no longer match and even their way of speaking will change. They are teammates and then they are on different sides of the court with a net in between. Sakusa is not surprised that Atsumu has a new opportunity, but he does allow surprise to invade him because after being so focused on Atsumu, he has forgotten that the world is much more than just the two of them.
Atsumu gives him a sad smile and then leaves his head on Sakusa's lap.
"Dontcha wanna go to Europe?" He asks him, because why not.
Sakusa hums, being entertained as the corners of his mouth lift, one of his hands being taken by both of Atsumu's while the other continues to caress blond locks.
"I had an offer a long time ago," He says, looking at him.
"What?" Atsumu's eyes widen. He didn’t expect any specific answer, but he didn’t expect those words either.
"When I finished my college studies, a team from Italy contacted me to tell me they were looking for me, but I said no to the offer."
Sakusa looks at him and lets out a breath. "I always knew that I would study before fully focusing on volleyball though I never stopped playing it, and that once I finished college I wanted to play here, with and against familiar faces."
"Omi-kun, didya choose Black Jackals for me?" Atsumu holds his typical smile and Sakusa shakes his head as well as bites his lower lip, no longer trying to suppress a smile because he’s not surprised to see that expression decorating Atsumu's face.
"No, for Bokuto."
Atsumu wrinkles his nose and Sakusa laughs.
"It's a strong team, just that. Strong players." He says. "Seeing your name didn't change anything."
"Please Omi-omi, I know you have been thinkin’ about my sets since the All-Japan Youth training camp."
On that occasion Sakusa wrinkles his nose and Atsumu laughs.
Being teammates years after that training camp is not something that surprises them as well as the fact that Kageyama and Hoshiumi wear the same uniform, because the skills they had begun to polish those days are now being demonstrated with each game that takes place and with every set they play. But it does surprise them to realize that they have gone from looking at each other, from being close but not too close, and from just waiting to see each other in tournaments because playing against is interesting, to playing side by side, the concept of being teammates leading them to be together off the court too. They are close now, too close, and will soon be far, far away. They are more than teammates and more than people who simply know each other because they are both equally good at playing the sport that unites them. Because years ago they would have laughed or frowned in confusion when someone mentioned that they would end up together while now they share the same broken heart because the atmosphere around them will change again.
Atsumu thinks that his and his brother's words don’t make sense, because it’s true that he is the one to leave while Osamu is the one to stay, but none will be fully happy. They mock each other, they don’t doubt to stick out their tongues and behave as when they were children though both already live alone and have established relationships and successful careers, and yet they are aware that a call is enough for the other to appear in the worst moments, as well as a hug is enough to make it clear that being brothers, than being twins, is something that they should be happy about because they are the same but different, and beyond all the teasing, they care for each other in the same way.
He loses Osamu but Osamu loses him, and so, no one can express that they are winning the bet —that in reality is not a bet— that years ago they expressed in a moment of anger and sadness. He leaves to face a new country and a new team while Osamu stays, not seeing him crossing the doors of Onigiri Miya anymore.
He keeps thinking about the Inarizaki banner, not needing memories being something confusing, because although he wants to forget to be able to focus on his future, it’s impossible to forget his beginnings and he doesn’t want to do it either, since just as he is who he is after deciding to advance without staying in the past, always deciding to move forward and risk more because determination is a characteristic he owns, it’s also because memories are part of his being and he doesn’t want to eliminate the past. He doesn’t want to erase memories or moments.
"Do you regret it?" He decides to ask Sakusa, "It wouldn't hurt if we had never let this happen."
Sakusa looks at the way Atsumu caresses his hand with his, and thinks that he is certainly right and that pain wouldn’t be a familiar concept in case nothing had happened. But as soon as his brain proposes that he should answer yes, that he is sorry because he would rather not know what pain is, he remembers the pain of seeing Atsumu and not confessing what he felt when both of them apparently felt, and still feel, the same way. Any attempt at a positive response is eliminated when he thinks of the way in which he couldn’t prevent his stomach from hurting and his eyes from widening when he hears Atsumu express that he feels the same, when he remembers all the limits that he has been breaking after the first kiss they shared, after the first date they had and after the first night where one of their beds remained with the sheets in one corner and the pillow on the floor because they could only focus on their bodies. It’s true that the situation would be easier if they only kept considering each other as a teammate they like in silence, but even though his heart at that moment is suffering and he’s aware that the present only has a portion of the pain that he will feel in a future, he has no regrets.
"No." He replies.
He is not sorry because Atsumu taught him that holding hands is a simple yet loving gesture that he likes to do because it implies being side by side regardless of the situation or the people around him, because he also taught him that kisses are not only for joining their lips but also to worship the different parts of their bodies as well as hugging someone doesn't sound like the worst of plans once he gets used to it. Because Atsumu taught him that love doesn’t depend on luck or fate, but on themselves because it’s they who decide what to do with their feelings, whether to confess what they feel or not, whether to accept them, to deny them, or to kiss for the same reason. He simply can’t imagine himself regretting it.
"I won’t go to the airport." He decides to add at that precise moment.
Atsumu stops looking at his hands to look at him. "Too many people?" He asks smiling, but the same gesture quickly disappears from his face when Sakusa stares at him.
"Because if I go, I won't let you leave me."
Atsumu stops holding their hands together to rest his on the mattress and thus get up to hug Sakusa and copy their previous position after hiding his face in his neck, since not being sorry implies that all the emotions of all the moments they had allowed to happen, that are now kept in the form of memories in their heads, attack Sakusa to remind him that soon he won’t be able to create more. Because while the team only loses its setter, he loses his setter and the person he loves.
Sakusa closes his eyes to try not to express the pain he feels in the form of tears to accompany his gaze, not because he wants to pretend to be strong in front of Atsumu when he knows that the two are equally happy and sad with the situation, but because he knows that if he is crying even though seconds ago he thought he didn’t want to, it’s because Atsumu represents and always will represent the collapse of his personal limits as well as the creation of new ones no matter where they are. And because if Atsumu started the hug as he begins to cry it’s because he also knows how important the relationship is for the both of them.
He draws vertical lines on Atsumu’s back because he knows that it’s as difficult for him as well for Atsumu, and he kisses him on the neck because he still has the opportunity to do so, and because from now on he must count the days he has left to continue having that chance. "Maybe one day we will meet again like the old days, remember?" He says, pulling away from him so he can look at him, the same kind of wet path at the corners of his eyes decorating Atsumu's gaze.
"And I'll beat ya again ‘cause Inarizaki won nationals against ya," Atsumu assures him with the same kind of smile he never hesitates to hold when it comes to him.
"And Itachiyama won the year before. Against you. Don't be full of yourself." Sakusa mimics his smile.
They are crying and smiling because that's the way they are and they react as they can, being grateful for each other, sharing the same melancholic feeling that that situation offers them. "We'll probably have a third and last time to face each other again," Sakusa adds, now with one arm around Atsumu’s shoulders as his other hand has come down to Atsumu's waist.
"Last one?" Atsumu tilts his head, frowning slightly.
"Yes." Sakusa answers more than sure. "I'm letting you go once. For the first and last time. I won’t do it twice."
Determination turns out not to be an important concept only for Atsumu and they both know it, so they are also aware that Sakusa is not speaking just for the sake of it, and that although at that time he will be able —is able— to bear the pain, he won’t go through the same emotions for a second time.
Atsumu brings his hands up to his cheeks to stare at him.
"Thank you for lettin’ me love ya."
He is grateful that Sakusa taught him that love can be as complicated as easy, and that just as there are discussions and misunderstandings, there’s also speaking honestly and being sincere with the emotions one feels. Because he knows that just as Sakusa is the only person who loves him the way he does, he is the only one capable of challenging Sakusa to assure him that love is a concept with which he wants to be associated beyond pain, suffering, and of the obstacles life can impose, because life is like that, sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s unfair and they only can accept it.
Their lips meet again for a second.
Sakusa is aware of the same thing, that they only have to deal with the present, with the future, and also with the past because it’s thanks to both of them that now they can count on moments to cry and also rejoice when remembering them. In a matter of seconds that same instant will be one more image in their heads, that in the future they will bring back when they want to shed new tears or carry the same type of smile that characterizes them.
"I know you don't need me to tell you," Sakusa says, "But don't let anything or anyone stop you."
They also know that despite the discomfort in their throats and the tightness in their chests, at no time did Atsumu think of rejecting the offer to leave and therefore decide to stay. And it’s for that very reason that Sakusa loves him, and Atsumu loves him the same way.
"Not even you and our relationship?"
"No. Not even me and our relationship."
Again Atsumu's eyes turn crystalline and a sob leaves his lips.
"Even if it hurts?"
"Even if it hurts." Sakusa's voice is two more words away from leaving him.
"It hurts a lot, Omi." Atsumu is crying again because it really hurts. "It hurts a lot."
"I know." Sakusa no longer wastes time wiping his tears from his face because he's hurting too and there are no words to make it clear that they feel the same way.
They know that life goes on and that they have to live day by day, sometimes it will be with smiles as they talk about the way they avoided declaring their feelings for each other although for the rest it was quite clear that they felt the same, sometimes it will be between laughs as they think about the terrible handling that led them to confess and the way they reacted after finally learning that their feelings are mutual, and other times it will be crying, with tears and tissues because one day they will no longer have time to create more moments and they will only be left to remember and think about each other until life — if life wants to— brings them back together, either with a red uniform in between, or with a simple plane ticket that implies returning home to stay. Life is life and they are happy as well as sad, because they know what it’s to have a broken heart as well as reciprocated feelings. Pain and joy. Suffering and rejoicing. A bittersweet feeling.