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between the cracks, where you belong

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It's a simple call, a phrase to communicate their intentions on who will get the ball if there are more than one person running for it.

On court, Miya Atsumu doesn't belong to him. As setter, he is owned by anyone and everyone. He belongs to Foster, their dietitian, the PR team, Hinata, the blockers, the spikers and also to Sakusa.

In the beginning, he belonged to Osamu and volleyball. Some twenty years later, nothing changed much from that. Atsumu, armed with the same piss blond hair that appeared during his high school years, only taller, bulkier and meaner, still called volleyball his sport in the same manner that Osamu thought of his onigiri business as his.

Sakusa understands that. He calls his freaky wrists his in the same manner too, unabashedly belonging to him only, one of his defining features. There's a few actually, of his defining features, his height ("'S'gross! Ya should've been a middle blocker!") and attitude being one of them.

And his attitude is a well known trait among the professional circle he belongs to. Komori had begged, prayed and wrote on various wooden emas the winter of their final year of high school when Sakusa had been approached by a Waseda recruit that his cousin would cease his harsh words and blunt snipes.

So he's surprised when Atsumu claimed Sakusa as his not in the sense that he's one of his many spikers and players to use on court like some twisted game of real life chess, but his in the bruises he gives him, the hands that roamed along his skin, the comfortable weight that sleeps on top of Sakusa when they're sharing a hotel room on away games.

Sakusa rubs his face into Atsumu's clean neck, inhaling his shower gel as he slouches over him. There's only a little window of time between the closing ceremony and the start of the new season that every single minute of it is precious.

Their plan in the one week of freedom is to travel to Tokyo to Hyogo back to Osaka, checking as many people off their list of family to visit. They have a shinkansen to catch once they eat some breakfast.

"Omi," Atsumu warily says, trying to gently push him off, "I'm tryna wash dishes. Yer the one who wants 'em clean ASAP, righ?'"

"You're a talented man, I'm sure you can wash dishes and put up with me at the same time."

Atsumu sighs, tugging on the pink dish-washing, elbow length gloves, "No one believes me when I tell 'em how sweet ya can be."

"Of course not," Sakusa clucks, pressing a kiss to Atsumu's neck, above a hickey he made there last night that could be covered by a t-shirt. Mine, "It's funnier this way."

His parents took them out for dinner at Saito's because Atsumu likes fatty tuna and the chef is a close family friend who served them with food gloves. Sakusa ate every piece of sushi placed in front of him, grateful for the experience and accommodation, but not completely in love when the service got to the tuna section. 

The fatty tuna is oily and leaves a slick residue on his lips. It reminds him of vague childhood memories of his mother force feeding him fish oil from a bottle, his tongue tasting artificial orange and an undertone of oil. Even if he rinsed his mouth with sake, the lingering stickiness on his lips remained.

He sneaks a look to his right. Atsumu is trying hard to not cry, his parents giggling.

"Tha' was so good," Atsumu says, crashing into his childhood bed with a clean pyjamas and semi-dry hair. Sakusa looks around at the room. His parents had kept most of the furniture placements the same though the bookshelf and closet are empty, "What's yer favorite piece of the night, Omi?"

It takes him a while to formulate a reply. This room brings back memories of his third year of high school, of him staying up into the night as he stared into Atsumu's feature on Volleyball Monthly, ingraining his picture into his head, "...Akami."

Atsumu makes a face, "Really? They're number 2 on Tabelog in all of Japan!"

Sakusa flicks Atsumu's forehead, "Yes."

"Good, we're compatible then! I'll eat all yer chutoro an' otoro!"

When they arrive at Atsumu's childhood home, his extended family wasted no time stuffing them with food and asking for Sakusa's hand in marriage on behalf of their son. Here, in the houses that carry memories of the twins from when they were still swaddled in their parents' arms, Atsumu carries an obligation to his family the same way Sakusa did in Tokyo.

When Sakusa jolts awake from the train ride, feeling Atsumu shake his elbow and whisk him out of the compartment before the doors close, Sakusa sees rice paddies faraway and remembers that Atsumu also used to belong to someone else entirely.

Sakusa watches Atsumu from Kita's engawa, nibbling on a watermelon while the two former captains of Inarizaki are plucking Kita's singular plum tree, the branches heavy and drooping, free of its weight. 

Atsumu's grin is bright and his accent, softened around the edges from being in Osaka for five years, comes out sharper.

Kita, thinking that being a full time farmer isn't exhausting enough, teaches the local middle school the importance of land cultivation. The plums are apparently going to be washed and shared with the middle school students come the next school day.

Sakusa takes another bite out of his watermelon. The juice runs down his fingers and wrists over the spot where Atsumu had kissed last night in the tiny cramped bedroom the twins shared, claiming Sakusa had nice setter hands if he wishes to learn how to set for fun. He licks the sweet juices off his lips.

From afar, he watches as his boyfriend laughs with his ex-boyfriend, golden and sweaty as they both reminisce about the memories he doesn't have. Sakusa, used to being forgotten as the youngest sibling that has a considerable age gap to his older sisters, pushes aside the empty feeling in his chest and reaches for another triangle of watermelon.

After Kita is Osamu. 

Atsumu doesn't entirely belong to Sakusa either when they drop by. There, Atsumu is not Olympian Miya Atsumu who led the men's volleyball team to a bronze medal but a parasite who Osamu only trusts to fluff the rice when he visits and 'helps out'.

"'M yer brother!"

Osamu attempts to tug out the container of spicy cucumbers soaking in an inch of marinade out of his twin's hands, "Ya! Drop that container right now, they're fer payin' customers, not leeches like you!"

Atsumu plucks one bite sized chunk of cucumbers out with a food glove, spitting in his twin's face, "How come Omi-Omi gets a free pass then?"

Sakusa nods his thanks to his third bowl of chazuke Osamu places on the counter. The lid has been put on its side, steam wafting up from the slight gap, "He puts up with yer stupid ass! He can have as many as he wants!"

Then for good measure, Osamu takes the towel he wiped the counters with and throw it at his brother's face. Atsumu lets out a shrill battle cry like he's five and stupider, immediately head locking his twin and threatening to slap some bruises onto his face with the ride paddle. 

Sakusa came here for chazuke but he is also granted free entertainment. He tears his eyes away from the fight (Osamu is beating his boyfriend up mercilessly) to see the newspaper clippings stored behind a large picture frame of the first string players dog piling on court, of the decisive match that showed the world that Japan's men's volleyball team is a threat once more.

In that picture, Sakusa is bumping elbows with his cousin as Atsumu and the rest of the V1 players are screaming on court, Hinata's orange hair barely visible as Kageyama engulfs him. Sakusa had no actual recollection of the game aside from whistles, Pocari Sweat being shoved down his throat and the gratefulness he felt looking up at those ceiling lights once the final whistle blew, thinking of how lucky he was to be able to come this far.

He sighs, standing up and going behind the counter to break the scuffling apart. Their first practice is tomorrow (where did their one week of freedom go?) and he needs his setter in relatively good shape, "Stop it, Atsumu, god only knows why you would instigate a fight with someone who kick-boxes and throws around sacks of rice like they're feathers...."

Atsumu sulks, rubbing his red cheek that this twin had slapped. Sakusa gives them both Looks before going back to his food, drawing parallels to his parent's yappy Pomeranians.

"Ugh," Atsumu places his head on Sakusa's shoulders as they enter MSBY's gym, rubbing it against him like a cat, "Summer's gone too quickly."

There's a school bus parked outside the gym. When they entered the main hallway, there were a gaggle of grade schoolers around ten or eleven years old, restlessly shuffling around with two teachers trying to hush them. Atsumu, always attention seeking, had waved to one and caused the entire crowd to quiver in excitement.

Post-Olympics had Atsumu and the team entertaining some children from the local school in an effort to get kids to be interested in volleyball. Sakusa fails to see, especially after their bronze, how one child wouldn't be friends with at least one other person who hadn't watched the live or replayed match.

He changes into his practice gear, stretches, pretends that one child in the stands isn't wearing his jersey number, and breathes in.

When the whistle blows, he tosses the ball into the air and whips his arm out. Atsumu turns to give him a feral grin, standing in front of him. Hinata dives for the ball in the practice match and even Brazilian-sand-Shouyou-kun can't receive it properly, the ball flying out of bounds after it nicked his arm.

Hinata digs his nasty jump serve on the next one. The second string setter moves forward to get under it. Sakusa carefully watches the position of their blockers to see where he could egg Hinata and Bokuto into sending the ball, catching Atsumu lunging across the width of the court to meet shoulder to shoulder with Meian.

The ball nicks off Atsumu's finger.

"One touch!"

Sakusa races to get below it, "Mine."

It's a simple call, a phrase to communicate their intentions on who will get the ball if there are more than one person running for it.

They wrap three more rounds of this practice match and talk to the kids and take a few pictures, he and Atsumu heading home to get dinner started. Atsumu's fickle taste, ruined forever by his brother's cooking, spurs Sakusa to get the more expensive miso when they drop by the grocery store.

After dinner and stretches, they finally collapse into bed after a brief off season. One week of non-stop travelling have left both of them exhausted. Sakusa has paid his dues, he's shared his Atsumu with the world, he's been patient.

On court, Atsumu belongs to everyone.

Sakusa twists in his bed, throwing a leg over Atsumu.

Seconds later, Atsumu drawls, "Possessive, never realized ya had this side."

"Shut up," Sakusa whispers to the darkness, feeling Atsumu pull him closer.

But when they're alone, he belongs to Sakusa.