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The Loss We Learned

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Suna had always been a sore loser.

He didn’t show it. That would be in bad taste, and it would suggest that he took wins and losses personally, which he didn’t. Volleyball was just a game, no matter how many days and weeks and years of his life he poured into it. Volleyball was just a game. Winning wasn’t everything.

Which was easy to say when their team won; more difficult when they didn’t.

“It would be too bad if he had an unfortunate accident,” said Suna under his breath, moments after the final spike had slammed onto their court and the cheers of the crowd started to fade. “Broke a leg, maybe.”

Komori didn’t answer – maybe because he was too nice to agree, or more likely he wanted everyone to think he was too nice to agree – but he also didn’t ask who Suna meant. It was obvious. 

Their captain waved them toward the net, and Suna almost didn’t go. That smug, ugly smirk was infuriating from across the court and Suna didn’t want to see it up close. 

But Suna was a team player even if he was a sore loser, so he wiped the sweat out of his eyes and lined up with the rest of them. 

The Black Jackals were fine for the most part, aside from their tendency to win almost every match they played. They were friendly when they shook Suna’s hand, thrilled with the win but humble enough to not rub salt in fresh wounds. Sakusa barely touched Suna’s hand before moving past, eyes averted, but Suna had heard enough about him from Komori to be unoffended. Most of the Jackals were okay, but then there was-

“Sunarin, always a pleasure to beat ya. Better luck next time.” Atsumu’s grin was wide, taunting. Suna wanted to slap it off of his face.

“You’re lucky you have a good team,” said Suna, his voice as passive as he could make it. “They carried you today, ‘Tsumu. Your tosses were shaky.”

That wiped away Atsumu’s smile just as quickly as a slap would have. It might’ve been even more satisfying. Atsumu’s eyes went narrow and he said, “You’re just tryin’ to piss me off. It’s not workin’. Don’t be a sore loser.”

“I’m not. I’ve never been.”

Atsumu scoffed. “Sure you haven’t.”

Suna suppressed an eye roll, only because he was very aware that their coach was probably watching. He took a step away, to move on to the last couple of Jackals so he could retreat, but Atsumu’s grip went tight around his hand.

“Hey, you should come out with us after this,” said Atsumu. He was grinning again, a little brighter and slightly less annoying. Just slightly. “There’s a real nice bar down the street. We go every time we play here, ‘specially when we win. Which is almost always.”

Suna couldn’t fight the eye roll anymore. He flicked a glance up at the ceiling, the bright lights searing his eyes, and jerked his hand out of Atsumu’s. “Thanks, but I’d rather die.”

“I’ll start writin’ your eulogy then, ‘cause Meian’s inviting your whole team and you’re not gonna have a choice.” Atsumu tossed him a wink, the kind that was meant to be charming but only made Suna grind his teeth. “I’ll save ya a seat.”

Suna glared at him until another Jackal shifted over to take his place and shake Suna’s hand. Hinata. Suna remembered him from high school too, but he’d never expected to see him in the professional league. He was good. Suna had underestimated him.

“Good game,” said Suna, and it wasn’t just a courtesy. He meant it.

“Thanks!” Hinata’s smile was as bright as Atsumu’s – brighter, even – but without that annoying curl of his lips that made Suna want to throttle him. “You, too! I look forward to our next match!”

Suna agreed. He was eager to face the Jackals again. They were starting to forget what losing felt like and Suna would gladly give them a reminder.

Getting off of the court was much easier after a loss, with fewer people taking pictures and crowding in to ask questions. Suna tried to think of that as something positive, but still had a bitter taste in the back of his mouth as he slouched away from the commotion. He kept his head up and his face neutral, in case anyone was watching. He didn’t want to get called out for bad sportsmanship.

Suna was a sore loser, but hardly anyone knew.

The shower after a long match was always soothing. Suna cranked the water as hot as it would go and stood in the steam until his knotted muscles loosened up. Some of his teammates’ voices filtered past the purr of the running water, but they were more subdued than they would have been after a win. If they’d beaten the Jackals, the locker room would’ve been joyous chaos.

Next time. They’d get them next time.

Suna hitched a towel around his hips and stepped out of the shower. The locker room wasn’t cold, but he shivered as he left the hot steam. He navigated around several of his teammates in various states of undress and yanked open the locker he’d claimed when they’d gotten to the stadium earlier that afternoon. He fished around for his sweats, hair dripping down the back of his neck.

Someone cleared their throat loudly from the other side of the locker room. Suna knew without looking who it was and what he was about to say.

“Listen up, guys!” Their team captain had climbed onto a bench, making his catastrophic height even more devastating. He was as serious as ever. Even when they won a match, he looked like he was officiating a funeral. “We all did good out there today. I’m proud of all of you.”

They’d heard the same speech so many times that each of his teammates chorused “Thanks, captain” simultaneously. 

Their captain continued talking and Suna effectively tuned him out as he got dressed. There was no need to listen. It was the same we lost speech as always, with a few adjustments for the specific mistakes they might have made. Suna already knew what he’d done wrong. He didn’t need anyone to tell him. 

Suna was in his sweats and jacket with his bag slung over his shoulder when he caught the new addition to the captain’s monologue.

“Meian invited us to get drinks with their team. He’s buying the first round, as a show of good sportsmanship. And yes, you have to go. Get your stuff and we’ll head out. I know some of us might be unhappy about losing, but be polite to the Jackals.” He turned his head to look directly at Suna as he said it, before hopping off of the bench and going to his own locker. Suna realized only then that the captain had been dressed only in his underwear for the duration of the speech.

“Why’d he look at me?” said Suna, as Komori nudged his locker closed and stepped up beside him. “I’m polite.”

“To some people, sure,” said Komori. “To Atsumu… not so much.”

“I’m only rude to him when he’s asking for it,” said Suna. He considered, and amended, “Which is all the time. I don’t like his face.”

Komori snorted. He was clearly trying not to smile and doing a terrible job of it. “I don’t think it’s his face. Mostly just his attitude.”

Suna shrugged. “His attitude sucks too, but his face doesn’t help.”

Komori hid his laugh underneath a cough, probably because their captain was looking in their direction again. He must have sensed Suna trash talking Atsumu. He had a way of doing that. Sometimes Suna thought he was telepathic. 

Suna gave him a winning smile and the captain turned back to his locker. At least he was wearing a shirt now, even if he was still pantsless. On multiple occasions that Suna would prefer to forget, their captain had strutted around completely nude until someone had reminded him that clothing was social protocol.

“I don’t mind Atsumu that much,” admitted Suna, and it was somewhat true. They’d had their arguments over the years, primarily in high school, but he didn’t mind Atsumu. He liked him most of the time, although he was embarrassed to say it. Atsumu was fine. Suna could deal with him.

The trouble was what – who – Atsumu reminded him of. 

There was a reason Suna didn’t like Atsumu’s face, and that was because it looked better on someone else.

“You have a weird way of showing it.” Komori patted him on the shoulder. “Just don’t bite his head off while we’re there. Captain will make us all run extra laps, you know he will.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Suna. He zipped up his jacket and started toward the locker room door, Komori tagging along behind him. “I’ll be civil as long as Atsumu is.”

Komori sighed.

Both of them knew that wouldn’t be for very long.





Their captain made them walk to the bar together as a team, which was unfortunate. Suna had already created a plan to step inside the bar, immediately walk out again, and say with absolute honesty that he’d gone and everyone must have missed him.

He told himself that a free drink was worth the trouble, that at least they were getting some sort of consolation prize for the loss. 

Suna intended to order the most expensive drink on the menu, whether he liked it or not.

The Jackals had settled at a long table at the far side of the bar. They were already drinking and laughing and having a great time, the same as Suna would have been doing if EJP had won instead. They should have turned down Meian’s invitation and let the Jackals have their stupid celebration alone.

“C’mon, guys,” said their captain, waving them forward. “Remember what I said. Be nice.”

Suna rolled his eyes and dragged his feet as they approached, his teammates filtering in among the Jackals they were most familiar with. Suna tried to find a seat at the extreme end of the table, as far away from everyone else as possible, but the chairs were already taken. His options were limited, and none of them looked good.

Atsumu swiveled to look over his shoulder, his arm stretched across the back of a vacant chair. He gave Suna a wicked grin and patted the empty seat in invitation.

Suna kept his face flat and hoped Atsumu could hear the absolute refusal even without words. Instead Suna circled the end of the table and dropped into one of very few remaining chairs. It was almost directly across the table from Atsumu, which wasn’t ideal, but it was better than sitting right beside him.

“Well look who decided to join us,” said Atsumu cheerfully. He leaned onto the table to grin at Suna. There was a half-empty drink at his elbow. “I knew you liked hangin’ out with me, Sunarin. Just admit it, you’re not foolin’ anybody.”

Suna checked the time. He’d gone exactly two minutes after walking through the door without saying anything rude. “If we were the last two people on earth, I would sail a boat to Russia just to get away from you.”

“Nah.” Atsumu shrugged that off, unbothered. “If we were the last two people alive we’d spend every wakin’ minute together. Best friends for life. You’d prob’ly fall in love with me and I’d hafta turn you down because my heart’ll always belong to someone else.”

Suna’s lip curled. “You’re disgusting.”

“Don’t say that to your best friend, Sunarin.”

Someone patted Suna’s back with a little too much force. He glanced to the side to find his captain passing by, his stare pointed. He said, “Don’t order the most expensive drink on the menu out of spite,” and his squint added, Don’t make a scene with the Jackals in public .

Suna was almost offended. Not about the drink thing, because of course he’d been planning to do that. But he’d never made a scene in his life, not really. In the past he’d engaged in a few heated arguments that could have been more private, but in situations like this, he’d always kept a low profile. Miya Atsumu wasn’t enough to rattle him, and if that had been the worst thing he had to face that night, he would have been fine.

But it wasn’t, not even close.

Despite Suna’s urge to order something fancy, he got an umeshu tonic, which was what he would have bought for himself anyway. He drank it, checked the time, and realized only twenty minutes had passed. It felt like two hours. 

Across the table, Atsumu chattered about something Suna had long since stopped listening to. The chair beside him was still empty. Suna bitterly thought it was likely because Atsumu’s teammates didn’t like him either, but that didn’t seem to be true. Hinata was on Atsumu’s other side, listening intently, and Bokuto had stopped whatever booming story he’d been telling to hear Atsumu’s. Washio, who’d ended up beside Suna, also seemed to be interested but he may have been pretending. He was far more polite than Suna had ever been.

Suna wondered if it was too early to leave. A glance down the table and a narrow look from his captain suggested it was. Maybe after one more drink he could slip out unnoticed. It wasn’t as if he could go home until the following day when they all boarded the team bus together, but he would rather sulk in his hotel room alone than be surrounded by Jackals. 

Their server flitted around every few minutes, but Suna thought he should walk to the bar to order his next drink. That was a socially acceptable thing to do, and it would get him away from the table for a few minutes.

He tipped back his glass again, drained the last few drops, and placed it in the center of the table. He pushed his chair back, but before he could excuse himself, he discovered who Atsumu had been saving the empty chair for.

Suna would have thought Sakusa if he’d been guessing, because he was nowhere in sight. Somehow he’d found a way out of this and Suna would’ve liked to know how, so he could do the same next time.

But it wasn’t Sakusa. It wasn’t another Jackal. It was the last person Suna would have expected, and the last that he wanted to see.

Miya Osamu walked up to their table, knocked Atsumu’s elbow off the back of the vacant chair, and sat down like he belonged there.

Suna’s heart leapt into his throat, sticking there in a way that felt like suffocation.

This wasn’t really happening. It couldn’t have been. He’d somehow gotten highly inebriated from his single drink and had developed double vision.

Except Osamu had never looked quite like Atsumu, and that realization was even more obvious now. Suna hadn’t seen them together in years. The differences were unmistakable, even without the tell of their hair.

Suna swallowed past the lump in his throat. It was slightly painful. Across the table, Atsumu snapped something at Osamu and jabbed an elbow at him, his grin softening the blow. Atsumu’s eyes darted to Suna, lingering, before he turned his head to resume whatever conversation he’d been in the middle of.

Osamu listened just long enough to decide he wasn’t interested. He plucked up Atsumu’s drink, raised it to his mouth, and took a quick sweep of the table. His gaze slid over Suna, skimmed past, and snapped back, his shoulders going stiff. He lowered the drink slowly, and his expression made it very clear that he hadn’t expected to see Suna. Atsumu hadn’t told him EJP would be there. 

Suna looked at Atsumu again, who pointedly ignored him. Suna wished he hadn’t finished his drink so he could throw it in Atsumu’s face. Atsumu had clearly known his brother would show up. He’d probably invited him. He could have at least given Suna a warning, so he could have emotionally prepared himself. 

Or more likely so he could have found a good excuse to leave.

“Hey, Suna,” said Osamu, his voice low.

Suna. Suna .

Suna didn’t flinch away from the sound of his name, but it was a near thing. Osamu hadn’t called him Suna since their first year of high school, and even then it had been temporary. It had quickly transitioned to Sunarin, then Rintarou, and then just Rin, called across the court or murmured in his ear or whispered against his lips.

Suna’s gut clenched at the flash of memory. He didn’t want to think about that, especially not with Osamu sitting an arm’s reach away. 

“Hey, Miya,” Suna returned, his voice perfectly level.

A wince touched Osamu’s face, so quickly that Suna may have imagined it. 

But he hadn’t. It had been there, and it gave Suna a thrill of vindictive pleasure.

“Didn’t know both teams were comin’ out,” said Osamu. He tossed a glance at Atsumu, who was very involved in a conversation with Hinata. He was clearly ignoring the pair of them on purpose. Suna despised him. “It was a good game.”

Of course Osamu had been there. Suna knew he catered most of the Jackals’ big games. He tried not to think about Osamu often, but it was impossible not to know that when his teammates drifted off before their warmups and came back with takeout bags branded Onigiri Miya .

“Yeah, I guess,” said Suna. He desperately wished he’d gone to get that second drink when it had first crossed his mind. At best, he would’ve seen Osamu coming and could have left. At worst, he would at least have a drink in his hand to ease the sting of Osamu’s voice.

It had been years since he’d heard it. At least four, closer to five. Suna had thought that was long enough that it wouldn’t hurt anymore.

“You played good,” said Osamu.

Suna had been wrong. It still hurt, more than it should.

“Not good enough.” Suna stared at his empty glass. It was easier than looking directly at Osamu.

“You were plenty good enough,” said Osamu. “Takes a whole team. You did your part just fine.”

“Yeah Sunarin, you did just fine,” said Atsumu, finally acknowledging them. He looked between the pair of them, ostensibly at ease, but something about his face was slightly wary. “Not your fault we’re the best team in the country. It’s a burden.”

He should’ve been wary. Suna was going to murder him, and not just for being a cocky asshole.

“Bein’ related to you is the real burden, dipshit,” said Osamu. He took a long swallow of Atsumu’s drink and leaned away when Atsumu tried to snatch it back.

“I paid for that!” said Atsumu, finally swiping the glass out of Osamu’s hand.

“Yeah, well, somebody who’s on the best team in the country could buy his brother a drink every now’n then.”

“Buy your own, ‘Samu. You made a killin’ at the match tonight. You should be buyin’ my drinks.”

“Not happenin’.”

Suna stood; maybe a bit abruptly, judging by the way the twins blinked up at him. “I’m getting another drink,” he said, as he pushed his chair underneath the table.

“Get me one while you’re up,” said Atsumu. “I’ll pay ya back.”

That was a lie. If Suna bought Atsumu a drink, he’d never see that money again.

Suna walked away without looking back at either of them. He wanted to walk right out of the bar, and he probably would have if his captain hadn’t also left the table to get another round of drinks. He gave Suna a look as he passed by, and Suna had gotten enough of those looks during his tenure with the team that he knew exactly what it meant.

Instead of leaving, Suna went to the bar and slid onto a vacant barstool. He waited patiently until the bartender took his order, although what he really wanted to do was bash his own head against the counter.

This was a nightmare. He’d thought going out with the Jackals was the worst thing that could happen to him, but he’d been wrong. 

Five years. It had almost been five years and he still couldn’t comfortably sit in the same room as Osamu. 

Suna was a special sort of pathetic. 

It wasn’t that he hadn’t moved on. He had, and he’d heard from mutual acquaintances that Osamu had done the same. Suna had dated other people. Some of them had been his boyfriends for varying lengths of time. He hadn’t spent his days daydreaming about Osamu. Sure Suna thought about him sometimes, but only in passing. He didn’t dwell on the past. There was no point. It was done, he’d moved on, and none of that mattered anymore.

So he didn’t understand why he felt like his ribs were cracking apart just because they were in the same bar together.

The bartender brought Suna his drink, and Suna asked for one more, because he thought he would need it. It was only with a mouthful of alcohol that he worked up the courage to swivel around on his stool.

Osamu was still there, right where Suna had left him. One of his hands was fisted in the shoulder of Atsumu’s shirt and he was hissing into Atsumu’s ear, his head down, expression hidden. Suna didn’t need to see his face to know Osamu was angry. He hadn’t expected this either, hadn’t known what he was walking into.

Suna took another drink, and Osamu released his brother. He sat back in his chair and whipped off his hat to push a hand through his hair. It was darker than Suna had ever seen it, dark enough that it must have been his natural color. Osamu pulled the cap back on and leaned over to bite something else at Atsumu, who rolled his eyes and snapped something back. Suna couldn’t hear any of it from that distance, and he doubted anyone at the table could, either. Over the years the twins had perfected the art of arguing in whispers so their parents would stop yelling at them every five minutes. Sometimes it didn’t work – Suna thought of the last high school volleyball incident in particular – but for the most part they’d learned to be discreet.

But even if no one else noticed, Suna always did.  

Suna drained the rest of his drink and put the empty glass on the counter just as the bartender delivered a fresh one. Suna thanked him, passed over a handful of yen, and turned toward the table again.

He didn’t want to go back. He really, really didn’t. Dealing with Atsumu was bad enough, but Osamu was worse. Suna didn’t know what to say to him. They hadn’t parted ways on the best of terms, and while Suna wasn’t bitter anymore, he still remembered every excruciating detail of their final fight. He wondered if that was the first thing Osamu had thought about when he saw Suna. He really hoped not.

Suna checked the time. He’d been there for forty-five minutes. If he could last for an hour, he thought he could reasonably slip out without attracting his captain’s ire. An hour was a long time. It was enough.

Fifteen minutes. If he could survive sitting at a table with Osamu for fifteen minutes, he could get out of there. 

It shouldn’t be difficult. They’d been friends before they’d dated. He could make conversation with Miya Osamu – his first boyfriend, first love, first everything – for fifteen minutes.

Suna took another gulp of alcohol to brace himself and begrudgingly returned to the table. He dropped into his seat and chose to stare at his drink instead of checking to see if Osamu was looking at him. Suna was almost certain that he was. He felt it.

“Where’s my drink, Sunarin?” said Atsumu. He leaned over to grab for Suna’s, but Suna whisked the glass away from him. “I toldja to get me one!”

“Did you? Guess I didn’t hear.”

“You heard me just fine!”

Suna shrugged and his eyes slipped to Osamu. 

He was right. Osamu was looking directly at him. 

“Fine, guess I’ll get my own,” said Atsumu, huffing as he pushed away from the table. He nudged Osamu’s shoulder with his fist as he passed by and drifted toward the bar.

Osamu turned his head, but only for a second. His gaze returned to Suna, steady, shaded by the brim of his hat. His voice went lower as he said, “How’ve you been, Rintarou?”

Suna exhaled a slow breath.

He’d been wrong. He couldn’t do this for fifteen minutes. He couldn’t do it for fifteen seconds .

“Fine,” he said. He rolled his half-empty glass between his palms. “Good. Just… volleyball. You know.”

“Yeah. Volleyball.”

Suna remembered the last time Osamu had said that word to him. It had been in a much different tone, fierce and fanged. Suna had bitten back even sharper, with words shaped to wound.

They’d been terrible to each other at the end. Suna wondered if Osamu regretted it.

“What about you?” asked Suna, to chase away the bitter memories.

Osamu shrugged. His shoulders were broad, strong. “Workin’. That’s about all I have time for.”

“Right,” said Suna. He gave himself permission to glance down at Osamu’s chest, at the small onigiri printed on Osamu’s shirt. “I’ve heard your restaurant is doing well.”

“Yeah, it is.” Osamu hesitated, his brow scrunching in the shadow of his hat. He asked, “You ever had it? My food, I mean.”

Suna almost lied, because the truth felt too sharp. But he was honest as he said, “No. I haven’t.”

Osamu dipped his head. He didn’t seem to be disappointed, but Suna thought maybe he was hiding it. “That’s too bad. It’s good food. I might be kinda biased, though.”

“I doubt it,” said Suna, aiming for passive. “My teammates say it’s good. They buy it when you sell at our games.”

Osamu didn’t ask the question, but Suna heard it anyway: So why don’t you?

“Your family okay?” said Osamu. It was a safe thing to ask.

“Yeah,” said Suna. He wondered how much time had passed. It felt like hours, but it couldn’t have been more than five minutes. “Yeah, they’re fine.”

Osamu nodded. 

Maybe he would’ve said something else, or maybe Suna would have come up with something to say, if given more time. 

Atsumu returned before either of them had a chance, and Suna was quietly grateful.

“Here, asshole,” said Atsumu. He plopped into his seat and slid a glass in front of Osamu. “You’re buyin’ the next round.”

“Don’t remember agreein’ to that.” Osamu took a long swallow of beer. He was probably grateful for the distraction, too. 

“You didn’t hafta agree. I made the decision for you.” Atsumu reached across the table to clink the edge of his glass against Suna’s. “You’re playin’ Aran-kun next week, yeah? Maybe you’ll stand a chance against him since you can’t win against me.”

“Are you implying you think you’re better than Aran?” said Suna. “I’ll make sure to tell him you said that.”

“C’mon Sunarin, I didn’t mean it like that and you know it.”

“I’ll leave that up to his interpretation.”

“And he’ll interpret that you were bein’ a dick, as usual.” Osamu knocked against Atsumu with an elbow as he rose. “I’m gonna step outside for a minute.”

“’Course you are,” said Atsumu. He leaned back in his chair and rolled his eyes. “Bad fuckin’ habit, ‘Samu.”

Osamu waved him off and walked away.

Suna didn’t watch him go, as badly as he wanted to. Instead he focused on Atsumu, who seemed less comfortable now that Osamu wasn’t there as a social buffer.

“Why didn’t you tell me he was coming?” hissed Suna, keeping his voice low enough that it was almost lost in Bokuto’s loud chatter. 

Atsumu shrugged. “What’s it matter?”

“You know why it matters.”

“You’re just bein’ stupid,” said Atsumu. He checked over his shoulder, as if making sure Osamu was still gone. “All that bullshit was a long time ago. Get over it, Sunarin.”

“It’s not your business.”

“Sure it is. I had to deal with all of ‘Samu’s whinin’ back then, too.” Atsumu screwed up his face and said in the most annoying possible voice, “Rin did this, and Rin said that, and Rin hurt my feelings.”

“He never said that.”

“It was implied, alright? You can’t just not talk to him for the rest of your life. Grow a backbone.”

Suna’s eyes went narrow. “Did you do this on purpose?”

“’Course not, I dunno what you’re talkin’ about.”

Suna slapped a hand against the table as he stood. Atsumu flinched, and Suna was pleased. If they hadn’t been in public with at least three of their teammates now staring at them, he would’ve tried to slap some common sense into Atsumu’s thick skull. 

“This isn’t about you,” said Suna. He kept his voice quiet, despite the urge to snap. “It’s between me and him. I know you’ve always thought the world revolves around you, but it doesn’t. Grow up, Atsumu.”

“C’mon, it’s not like that! There’s nothin’ to be mad about, I was just- Sunarin. Sunarin!”

Suna stomped off, ignoring the call of his name. He realized just before storming out of the bar that he still had a drink in his hand. He tipped it back, drained it, and left the empty glass on the nearest table as he pushed through the heavy door and stepped outside.

He remembered too late that Osamu had gone outside first.

He was a few paces away from the door, his back against the wall of the bar and a cigarette tucked between his lips. Suna met his eyes and Osamu seemed startled, like he’d been caught doing something wrong.

Suna should have walked away. The sidewalk was right in front of him and his hotel was only a couple of blocks down the street. He should’ve walked away and been done with this.

He took a few steps, but in the wrong direction.

“Your brother’s a dick,” said Suna. He propped a shoulder against the wall beside Osamu and hated himself for staying. 

“You just now realizin’ that?”

“No, I’ve known since the day I met him.” Suna sighed and glanced back toward the street. A few cars passed by, the purr of their engines blending into a white noise that may have been soothing if Suna had been talking to literally anyone other than Miya Osamu. “I don’t know how you’ve gone so long without killing him.”

“Get a little closer every day.”

Suna huffed a breath that was almost a laugh. He should have walked away. He needed to walk away. 

“You smoke now?” said Suna, as Osamu plucked the cigarette out of his mouth and exhaled a foggy breath.

“Wish I didn’t,” said Osamu. “Picked it up a couple years ago. Harder to quit than you’d think.”

Suna didn’t know what to say to that, so he said nothing.

He still didn’t leave.

“You ever go back to Hyogo?” asked Osamu after a few quiet minutes had passed. “To visit, or whatever.”

“No. There’s no reason for me to be there.” Not now, not anymore.

Osamu nodded. He knelt to grind his cigarette out on the asphalt. “Yeah, guess there’s not.”

That sent a pang through Suna’s chest. It might have been regret. 

When he’d first started playing professionally, he’d made lots of trips back to Hyogo. He’d had a reason then, a good one.

Osamu rose and tossed his cigarette into a nearby bin. He said, “Well if you’re ever around, you’re welcome to come by the restaurant. Food’s on me.”

Suna smiled, just a little, just enough to make the pain in his chest cut deeper. “Thanks.”

“Sorry ‘bout ‘Tsumu,” said Osamu, a little more quietly. “I wouldn’t’ve come, if I’d known. Don’t wanna make it awkward for you.”

Suna swallowed. “It’s fine. It…” He hesitated. He shouldn’t say it, shouldn’t let himself, but it was true . “It’s good to see you, Osamu.”

Osamu’s expression was hard to read. It was dark, and his hat left a shadow across his face. “Yeah,” he said, subdued. “Good to see you too, Rintarou.”

It still wasn’t Rin , but that was okay. Things weren’t like they used to be. They’d never be like that again.

“You leavin’?” asked Osamu after a moment, his hands in his pockets and his shoe scuffing back and forth over the pavement. “You don’t have to. I’ll go, you belong here more than I do.”

“I’ve had all the fun I can stand for one night. I didn’t want to come anyway. I knew ‘Tsumu would be more annoying than usual after that win.” He turned toward the street, because he couldn’t keep staring at Osamu’s face, trying to guess what he was thinking. “Good luck dealing with him.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Suna walked away. It should’ve been an easy thing to do, but it wasn’t. As much as he’d wanted to run the moment he saw Osamu, now he didn’t want to go. There was something achingly familiar about him, even all these years later. It gave Suna a specific sort of feeling that he couldn’t put into words. There was a touch of melancholy too, echoing from the past.

He took one step onto the sidewalk, stopped. He turned back and Osamu was still standing in the same place, watching him.

Suna took a breath and said, “I never changed my number.” He wanted to say more. He needed to, because he couldn’t leave it like that. Osamu would get the wrong idea. Suna needed to say more, but all he managed was, “Just… so you know.”

Osamu’s face was a shadow. His shoulders rose and then fell again. He said, “G’night, Rintarou.”

The words were gentle, but they carried a sting of rejection. It shouldn’t have been disappointing. Suna didn’t want to be with Osamu anymore. He hadn’t wanted that since they’d broken up, except during a few vulnerable nights when he’d realized that all the mistakes hadn’t been solely Osamu’s. Suna had made them too, plenty of them.

But that was done now. All of it was done. Suna had lost him, and he wouldn’t be a sore loser, not over this. 

“Goodnight, Osamu.” Suna gave a weak wave as he walked away.

He didn’t look back.