The shrill sound of the whistle cut through the silence that was caused by a ball ricocheting off the Toshiro's arms and out of bounds. All the players stared at the ball rolling off to the side and finally stopping a few meters from the back-line. Kiyoomi stood in front of the net panting still a bit crouched from when he had come down from spiking.
The whistle was what caused the Jackals to shift their attention to him, first it was Koutarou that screamed "Sakusa!" before barreling toward the other. Having successfully avoided him, Kiyoomi didn't think he would get attacked from behind by Shuugo and Shouyou. He wrestled with them screaming on how they were too dirty to touch him at the moment, or at any other moment for that matter.
Atsumu looked on as they smothered the player that won them the winning point, feeling the same form of ecstasy as it had been a long time since the Jackals had won against the Adlers.
"Congratulations, Atsumu-san." he heard from across the net.
He turned around and looked at Tobio.
"Good game, Tobio-kun. See ya around then." He replied walking back to his teammates that were still crowded around a hunched over Kiyoomi.
"Yo, let the guy breathe will ya? I think yer forgettin' he doesn't do good with too many people." It may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but despite their banter and snarky remarks, they were pretty good friends. They had become acquaintances when they both became captains in their third year and that "friendship" continued into Kiyoomi's university life and their joint professional endeavors.
"Oh, right, sorry, Sakusa, I think we all got overwhelmed is all. Are you okay?" Shuugo said pulling in the collars of Shouyou and Koutarou who had the audacity to hug him.
"Fine." the other had managed to grumble out. To the others, it may not seem like much, Kiyoomi was always like that, he always grumbles, groans, rolls his eyes, to the point that they don't bat an eyelash anymore when he was genuinely annoyed, or in this case, overwhelmed.
The two teams exchanged their sentiments of a good game played and they went on ahead to the dressing room. Kiyoomi was left to himself as usual, when he entered the bathroom stall, he wrapped his hand around the fabric of his discarded jersey and started clenching and relaxing his fist around the material as if to mimic a stress ball.
If it weren't for Atsumu, he would be in a far more disastrous state than he was now. Earlier, he was very much close to shoving Shouyou who clung to him like a koala and Koutarou who had a heavy arm around him. He had known, that since their so-called start of their friendship in high school, that Miya Atsumu was a very perceptive person, he could pick up on the slightest things which made hiding things from him exponentially difficult.
He thought back to when he first met the snarky setter. It was their second year and Atsumu was standing near the vending machine with a girl in front of him. She was bowed at the waist holding out a letter, a confession letter. Despite not having witnessed or experienced a confession before, he knew that the girl will be rejected. If the air of indifference around Atsumu was anything to go by, he knew that her confession was a lost cause.
"Sorry, I'm not really lookin' for a relationship right now." The tone may have been deceptively emphatic, but the expression on his face sure wasn't. The girl looked up and met his gaze. Those cold, hard, scrutinizing eyes stared back at her. The girl didn't need to be told twice, she retracted her hand and turned away.
"Ugh, this is gettin' tirin'." He said as he faced the vending machine. Kiyoomi waited for him to finish his business as he fished out a bottle of disinfectant from his pocket. Atsumu turned around and focused his brown eyes on him.
"Well, if it isn't Mr. Top-High-School-Spiker-In-Japan. Ya gunnin' for National Youth this year?"
"Given my past games, I don't have a reason to believe otherwise. If you'll excuse me, are you done with the vending machine? Because I need to use it." Kiyoomi muttered.
"Eh? Are ya really this cold? Then again, ya hang out with UshiWaka, so 'm not surprised." Atsumu snickered.
"What does Wakatoshi-kun have anything to do with this?"
"Nothin' I look forward to playin' against ya tomorrow, Sakusa Kiyoomi. Keep me entertained will ya?" Atsumu said staring back at him with those provocative eyes of his. Kiyoomi felt his breath catch, no one, had the audacity to do that before, no one even dared to approach him if Motoya wasn't with him.
To be so openly challenged, by someone who he didn't even personally know, sent a fire through his being that he had only even felt with Wakatoshi. It was the fire of someone who desperately wants to prove the other wrong, to shove it in his mouth that Sakusa Kiyoomi was not someone who bows to other people so easily.
"As if I need to prove anything to you, Miya." Kiyoomi said instead.
"Well, I guess I just have to show ya just why ya need to watch out for me, then. Let's have a good game." He said ducking down and taking a granola bar from the bottom of the machine.
"See ya." He said as he turned to walk away.
Oh, just you see, Miya Atsumu, you will see. Kiyoomi thought as he walked back to the bus with only victory on his mind.
"Omi-kun! I want boba!" Atsumu whined when he came back from the shower.
"Buy it yourself, Miya." Kiyoomi muttered and began packing his stuff. Right now, they were the only people in the shower room since the others are still most likely fooling around and screaming along to anime openings in the showers.
"I told Coach and Cap that we'd go our own way and to let us be." Atsumu said as he pulled a hoodie over his head.
"You plan on kidnapping me again today?" asked Kiyoomi already knowing the answer.
"Oi, it's not kidnappin' if ya wanted to come with me ya know?"
"Keep telling yourself that." He replied instead knowing full well that the other can read through the words.
"So, where are you planning on taking me today? And what are we doing at the train station?" Kiyoomi asked as they entered the building.
"We're goin' back to Tokyo, then to the ramen place we always go to, then walk around maybe? Then I'm gonna be stayin' at yer apartment for tonight." Atsumu said climbing up the stairs to where the ticket booths are.
"When did I agree to this? Also, why don't you just go home to your own apartment?"
"Sunarin's comin' over and I really don't wanna be left alone with them. You love me right Omi-kun? Let me stay with ya!"
Atsumu hadn't given him a chance to reply since he ran to the ticket booth. Kiyoomi stood there as he looked at him happily chatting with the stranger in the booth. He would never genuinely get how people like Atsumu, Koutarou and Shouyou exist. How people like them are able to converse so easily, how they're able to charm anyone anywhere despite not knowing them.
Truth be told, his way with words was one of the things that made him love Atsumu in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, Atsumu wasn't insensitive, in fact, he was the exact opposite, and he used that to his advantage. He used his perception just to provoke people and get the exact reaction he wants from them. Apart from his skills, it was his disposition and perception that made him a great setter. He knew exactly how to lure people to giving him what he wants.
Similarly, if Atsumu were to care enough, he'd use his perception to help others. With Koutarou's bouts of misery when Keiji stayed at the office for the night, with Shouyou's nervousness and reluctance when trying a new attack, he knew the exact words to say in a way that makes him seem like the asshole but clearly, he said it with the intention to get the others to straighten up.
However, he has never been that way with Kiyoomi since they both knew that when it comes to being an asshole, they could go head to head for hours and not get anything from it. Atsumu had tried his little experiment with him and it almost ended with them nearly strangling each other had it not been for Osamu. Not to be deterred, he tried another way.
It was after their last game in High School that the two ran into each other again. Kiyoomi was walking around the venue trying to get away from his team. Despite his reputation of easily accepting wins and losses, he was significantly more upset today. He was the captain, it was inevitable to not feel this way, he was supposed to lead them to victory, yet here he was, wallowing in self-pity as he took a stroll after the last game and the last loss of his high school career.
He supposes that he had gotten what he needed from high school, the knowledge of academics was there, the offers from universities, even a few professional teams, ready to take him as their spiker. But like any other person who invested that much time in something and still failing, it was an irrefutable fact that he is upset.
"There you are!" he heard from behind him.
He turned around and saw Iizuna Tsukasa running toward him.
"I've been looking everywhere for you!" he said catching up to him.
"You don't have a game today?" Kiyoomi asked although already knowing the answer.
"I know you know that I don't." the other laughed.
"Good game out there Sakusa, I knew we made the right choice." The silence drawled on as they stood in a near deserted hallway since the game finished an hour ago.
"You looked for me for that long just to say that?" Kiyoomi said looking away, the last thing he needed was to see how disappointed Tsukasa was with him.
"Hey, I always said that it was okay to feel frustrated, it's only right, you invested a lot into this. But never feel disappointed. You did what you can, and these are the results, what are you gonna do now? Accept it, learn from it, and move on. It is the only thing you can do." He said placing a hand on Kiyoomi's shoulder.
"Play well in uni, Sakusa, I'll be cheering you on." he clapped his hand once then let go, waving as he walked away.
"Thank you for your support!" Kiyoomi said as he bowed at the retreating figure.
"How are ya doin' Sakkun?" he heard someone say. Raising his head, he sees Atsumu standing near the corner of the hallway with his hands in his pockets.
"Did you come to gloat?" Kiyoomi said instead.
"Nah, just wanna be here for ya for a change. Oh don't look at me like that! I know how to be nice ya know?" he said when Kiyoomi raised an eyebrow at him.
"Hey! I'm just better at being an asshole, but I can be nice ya know? Anyway, how ya holdin' up?"
"Mad? Disappointed? Frustrated? Sad? I don't know." Kiyoomi mumbled as he scratched the back of his neck in frustration. He hated feeling something out of the ordinary, he was used to it, but it didn't make it any less annoying.
"Let yerself feel it Sakkun, it'll help a lot."
"You say it will help but right not I want nothing I want to do more than scratch my arms." Kiyoomi said as he began running his hands up and down his arms. This was exactly what he wanted to avoid by walking around, if he was focused on walking, he can't focus on the itchy and nagging feeling beneath his skin.
"Hey, hey, breathe Sakkun, breathe. Is it okay to touch you?" Kiyoomi flinched and angled his body away from Atsumu's hands.
"Hey, I'm clean I swear, I already took a shower and disinfected my hands. I'm not gonna touch ya anywhere, just here okay? Tell me if it's too much." Atsumu cautiously extended his hands to him again careful that he doesn't scare him.
"Is this okay?" Atsumu asked when his hand rested on the other's wrist. He didn't need a reply, as he felt Kiyoomi's arm lose tension little by little. By the time he let go of his jacket, Atsumu's thumbs were rubbing soothing circles on each of his wrists.
One of Atsumu's strongest suits were his words, he was provocative, snarky and witty. But for Kiyoomi, he felt the most loved when Atsumu was silent and comforting. He didn't need words, for comfort, he needed these small silent strokes that Atsumu gave with such care and caution for his feelings that he can't help but be reminded that only he can make him feel such a way.
"Sooo, do you wanna stop by the convinience store before we head up to yer apartment?" Atsumu said.
"We just ate, do you really want to think about food right now?" Kiyoomi asked as he pulled his mask to rest on his chin.
"Well, I'm sure I'll be hungry later, plus, I don't plan on sleepin' when we get to yer apartment, no, we're watchin' a movie, or a few."
"Why does it seem like you hadn't even played five full sets today?"
"Can't help it! I'm goin' home to Hyogo in a week remember? I guess I'm just excited, I guess."
"Can't that excitement wait when I have energy to deal with you?" Kiyoomi squinted at him, half-pretending to be annoyed.
"Nah! We're bound for life Omi-kun! Ya ain't gettin' rid of me anytime soon!" He said.
"What an unfortunate fate." Kiyoomi muttered.
"Hey I heard that!" Atsumu said as he ran on ahead to the convenience store.
Kiyoomi always marveled at how Atsumu could be so energetic, how he could still go to practice and perform his best despite not sleeping because he was binging anime. He remembered being ran ragged to the ground by this ball of energy. It was bad enough that Atsumu would be his teammate, but add Koutarou and Shouyou into the mix, he didn't expect the other to mellow out, at least, that was until they were alone.
Miya Atsumu was childish, very childish, he knew this so here he was looking as Atsumu tried to choose whether he wanted strawberry milk or chocolate milk. He had a look of pure concentration on his face as his gaze shifted to each of the bottles in both his hands.
"Does it really take you this long to choose between milk flavors?" Kiyoomi asked approaching him and the basket that he abandoned to rest on the ground.
"Chocolate milk or strawberry milk Omi-Omi?" he asked instead.
"I don't care, Atsumu, you're going to consume this by yourself anyway." the other shrugged and put both bottles in the basket.
"What kind of athlete are you?" Kiyoomi asked as the other proceeded to take bag after bag of junk food and stuffing the basket to the brim.
"Meh, we won anyway, I'm treatin' myself." He shrugged.
They walked to the counter and Atsumu left some cash with him as he took a phone call and went outside. When the transaction was finished, Kiyoomi went outside and found Atsumu leaning against a lamppost with a goofy smile on his face, a soft blush on his cheeks.
"Oh, Omi-kun's here, see ya next week. Love ya, Shin." if it was possible, Atsumu smiled wider and ended the call.
Oh, yeah. Kiyoomi thought as he walked to the other.
"Thanks for letting me stay again with ya tonight Omi-kun." he said and Kiyoomi stayed silent.
He was reminded of many things today. Miya Atsumu was childish, loud, snarky, witty, perceptive, caring and lovable. His words, his gestures and his way of caring reminded him of why he fell in love with him. With everything that Atsumu is, Kiyoomi let himself fall unknowingly.
He let the other charm his way into his heart knowing full well that the other didn't love him. Today also came with the reminder that Atsumu wasn't his, and will never be his. It hurt, but it wasn't Atsumu's fault after all, he wasn't the one who fell.