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Atsumu runs.

It’s his day off, when he gets the news, and he’d decided to switch things up and make the visit to see Osamu at his new branch in Tokyo. It’s a long train ride, but he misses Samu, and he doesn’t give him nearly enough time these days. A mixture of guilt and a longing to see his twin gave way to this weekend – a perfect opportunity, with no games, no practices, and no obligations. All of his teammates had other plans, all of them taking trains or cars or bus rides to their home cities. Atsumu had debated for a while, thought about staying home and taking it easy, promising Samu another time, but in the end, his brother won out, and so Atsumu came.

And now, Atsumu runs, runs harder than when he tried to beat Samu and Suna at practice back in high school, with his heart racing and his lungs burning all the way to the train station.

Osamu’s shop is close to public transport, so Atsumu didn’t have to run too far, but it still took too long. He’s hours away from Osaka, way too damn far, but he has to get there.

Someone is blowing up his phone – either Samu, who he left without much more than a panicked explanation that he just needed to go , or the team group chat, but Atsumu has tunnel vision. He purchases his ticket, hops on the train, falls into his seat in a blur, and buries his face in his shaking hands.

Atsumu breathes, and breathes, and breathes. He counts down from ten, like Samu had taught him to do whenever he was a little too worked up, then raises his head and gathers the facts in his head, like Kita had taught him to do on the court.

Atsumu knows two things as fact: he received a text from Meian, and he needs to get to Osaka.

He knows what said text message says, as well, but he doesn’t want to think about that right now – if he thinks about it, it makes it real, and his brain hasn’t processed enough to handle that yet. 

Atsumu’s phone feels like lead in his pocket. He takes it out and shoots an apology text to Samu, saying it’s a team emergency and he’s real sorry but next time he’ll stay the whole weekend. Samu responds immediately with a rolling eye emoji and a thumbs up, and Atsumu wishes he were here with him. 

His fingers hover over his messages, over the team group chat, which is lighting up before his eyes, everyone talking over each other within the tiny chat room, where Atsumu sits silent. 

Atsumu remembers when he first got added into that group chat – he once again belonged to a group, to a family, and everytime his phone buzzed with a new notification from one of his teammates, his heart warmed. Even Omi responded, but only once – that was enough for Atsumu to save his number, and the text messages began.

He eventually convinced Omi to actively participate in the chat, in the name of team bonding, and Omi reluctantly agreed – Atsumu’s first victory. He sent great memes and occasionally blessed them with an ‘lol’ but he was always present.

Now, his silence rings even louder than Atsumu’s.

It can’t be real, right? He’s having a nightmare – except his nightmares are never this clear. This is high-definition, a world he can’t wake up from. 

He clicks on the group chat and scrolls to the very top, where a message from twenty minutes ago sits. 

The letters blur in his eyes. They burn, but he doesn’t cry – the adrenaline will not allow that, yet.

The text pops out at him, his eyes drawn instantly to the subject of the sentence. The moment he saw the name, he knew something had happened, as if an instinct had awoken inside of him. 

Sakusa got into a car accident. I don’t have many details, but he’s in bad shape. 

It’s from Meian. Just under it, a follow up with the name and location of a hospital. 

Atsumu digs his nails into his palms and squeezes his eyes shut. Why Omi? Omi, who won’t even get on a rollercoaster for fear of his imminent death; Omi, who snatches Atsumu back when there isn’t even any incoming traffic, just to be sure. Omi wears his seatbelt even if they’re just driving down the street, so how could he possibly get himself into a car accident

Atsumu is the reckless one. Omi is the one who keeps him in check, so of course Atsumu could leave for the weekend and things would be fine.

Guilt gnaws at his stomach. He closes his eyes and tries to ease the ringing in his ears, but it doesn’t work, because the moment his eyes close, images of Omi assault him. He sees his signature scowl, which Atsumu is still on the receiving end of at many a practice; his smile, which came later, and less frequently, in the beginning, until Atsumu decided it was his goal to draw it out of Omi as often as possible; his closed eyes, nose twitching lightly as Atsumu gently roused him from sleep. 

Then, he sees Omi covered in blood, broken and mangled in the front seat of his car. 

Atsumu needs to relax. Omi isn’t dead. He’s fine. He’s going to be fine. There is no other scenario that exists, because Omi is only twenty-three, an up-and-coming star, and Atsumu has just started getting him to come out of his shell. He’s got way too much life left to live to be anything but perfectly fine. Car accidents always seem worse at the scene, but once they get him patched up, he’ll be good as new.

But Atsumu wasn’t there – if he had been, in the car with Omi, could he have stopped it? 

His phone buzzes again, and he wrenches his eyes open, hoping for news, any news, but it’s just Samu, and this time he has a question. Let me know if you’re okay and when you get to Osaka. I’m worried about you, never seen that look on your face before. 

Atsumu wonders often how and when twin telepathy works. Sometimes, Samu reads Atsumu like a book, drags out every emotion that he tries to ignore and lays it out on the table, and sometimes, he’ll see a fleeting expression on his face and know immediately what it means. 

Atsumu hates lying to Samu more than anything, and for the past year, he hoped that Samu would just read him, so Atsumu wouldn’t have to come clean, but twin telepathy seems to be selective, because Samu never showed a single sign that he knew anything was different in his twin’s life. 

He’d had the thought, when deciding to visit Samu, that he might tell him about the last year of his life. It was part of what brought him to make the trip – away from Omi. 

Atsumu gives Samu a better explanation this time, even though typing out the words, so impersonal, so harsh, makes him want to throw up.

One of my teammates got in a nasty car accident. Whole team is going to the hospital to see him. 

Is it Shoyo? He’s your favorite, right?

Atsumu laughs, humorless, and types back, No, Sho is fine. You’ll see it on Twitter soon enough, I’m sure.

Samu sends him back a series of question marks to that, and a ‘why won’t you just tell me, moron’, but Atsumu silences their conversation. He once again slouches back into his seat, and shuts his eyes, praying to every god he knows of to please, just please let this be no big deal. 

 

-x-

 

Atsumu has been in hospitals plenty of times – Samu broke his leg, Suna sprained his ankle, Kita had a really nasty bout of the flu. Atsumu managed to avoid them himself, miraculously, due to some kind of unearthly luck, but he’s familiar with the pristine walls and the smell of antiseptic. It was comforting to him, then, to know that even if his friends broke themselves, there was always somewhere to go where they could be put back together. It was justification for their reckless lifestyles, where scraped knees and snapped bones were signs of an adventure completed.

Now, Atsumu just feels nauseous. The white floors and walls are blindingly bright, and he might choke on the smell of latex gloves and hand sanitizer. This, Atsumu thinks, miserably, is Omi’s kind of place – Atsumu always used to tease him that he’d picked the wrong career. Volleyball is too dirty, too sweaty – why hadn’t Omi been a doctor, or something like that?

Omi had rolled his eyes at him, then, but then in a rare moment of vulnerability, admitted that he was squeamish – he hated all things medical. Those moments had just started to come more frequently, but now –

Now he’s here – in one of these rooms, and Atsumu wonders if Omi’s scared. He’s spent the last two hours and twenty-three minutes agonizing over every single emotion Omi could be experiencing – fear, pain, irritation, helplessness. Atsumu can picture how each feeling would play out on Omi’s face, and it hurts . Atsumu can handle anything in the world, when it has to do with himself, but with Omi – it’s so much worse when it’s Omi.

A year, he’s had to mull over his feelings for Omi, and now what if he’s too late?

No – nope, he will not entertain that line of thinking. He needs to track Omi’s room down, and see him, and then when he wakes up he’ll –

“Oi, Miya!” 

Atsumu jolts towards the voice and sees Meian – disheveled, pacing Meian, no trace of the calm that usually clings to him to be found. He’s alone, and keeps glancing at his phone. “Bokuto and Hinata are on their way, and Inunaki is trying to get a hold of Sakusa’s parents.”

“He won’t be able to,” Atsumu blurts without thinking, then he picks up on Meian’s bemused expression, and he corrects himself, like he’s been doing for a year now. “Uh, he told me they’re not around much. They vacation in other countries a lot. He mentioned it at practice once.” 

“Okay.” Meian nods. “Still, we’ll keep trying.”

“Is he – have there been any updates?” Atsumu fidgets with his sleeve, looks down, to the side, anywhere but at Meian. He can’t let him see the worry on his face. Atsumu sucks at hiding his emotions – they show in his eyes, in the twitch of his lips, or the color on his cheeks, and he can’t let Meian see that.

“He’s in stable condition, but he hasn’t woken up yet. That’s all I know. He listed me as his secondary emergency contact, which is the only reason I know.” 

Atsumu averts his eyes and inclines his head slowly. Stable condition – that’s alive, so he can at least cross his worst fear off the list.

There are several right under it, though. 

He should sit down and act like a normal, rationally concerned teammate and not a basket case, but he struggles with the thought, so he bounces on the soles of his feet while Meian paces, and when Inunaki turns the corner at the end of the hall, they both snap their attention to him.

“You’re here already, Miya?” Inunaki asks. “I thought you were visiting your brother. That’s some impressive timing.” 

“Came as soon as I heard,” Atsumu mumbles, trying not to come off as defensive – as if he would’ve taken his time for something like this, as if he would’ve been anywhere in the world but Omi’s side. He would’ve been here faster, if he could’ve been.

Inunaki agrees. “Me too. I just know you two...don’t exactly get along.”

Atsumu’s jaw sets in a grimace.

“Inunaki,” Meian warns.

“He’s a teammate,” Atsumu snaps, words tight and cutting. “‘Course I’m here for a teammate.”

“Of course.” Inunaki clears his throat, and Atsumu wishes he could push him away, like a little kid who made him angry on the playground. He doesn’t know that Atsumu has spent the last two hours reminding himself to breathe, switching between best and worst case scenarios as he sat numb in his seat and watched the scenery outside of his window fly by and blend into a painting of complimentary colors. He can’t know how much Atsumu itches to jump out of his seat and grab the first doctor and demand to be taken to Omi.

Atsumu is not a child. He can sit still and bite his tongue and wait for the professionals to do their job, and he can lie. He’s proved that in more ways than one.

They sit in silence after that and Atsumu finds ways to keep himself together. He counts the tiles on the floor, hums to himself, shakes his leg until Meian gently puts one hand on his knee to stop him. He makes up stories for every family in the waiting room with them – happy stories, of course. The bald man clutching his briefcase to his chest with a nervous expression on his face is going to be a new dad soon. The tearful young mother is here for her son’s last chemotherapy treatment, and the tears are tears of joy. Somewhere, behind a closed door, he imagines that Omi is waking up, and he tells himself that soon he’ll be able to see him again.

Shoyo and Bokun show up after some time – hours, maybe? Atsumu doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to look at his phone, because it’ll be too eerie. Omi always texted – which is funny, no one would think he was a texter, but he’s a serial social media scroller, and he sends Atsumu every meme he comes across. Some are Omi’s humor, and Atsumu only laughs out of appreciation, but others he knows are sent just for him – jokes that would make Omi roll his eyes or crinkle his nose, but would always send Atsumu into a frenzy.

He hadn’t texted Atsumu much today – he knew he’d be with Samu, so their last series of exchanges are from the morning, where Omi told him to ‘have a safe trip’ and Atsumu sent back a series of emojis.

Should he have wished him luck back? Did he curse him? 

Atsumu thinks about the feeding frenzy that will be going on Twitter soon. Omi is an up-and-coming media darling. The press loves that he scowls at them; they think it’s cute. Omi trends twice a week for something he doesn’t mean to do, and it equal parts endears and enrages Atsumu (because he should trend too, damn it). Now that there are rumors of Olympic scouts coming to MSBY practices, their entire team has been blowing up on social media, and this will set the media alight. 

Sakusa Kiyoomi, potential future Olympian, Japan’s Scowling Sweetheart, in a tragic car accident. There will be pictures of him from games, maybe a few where he’s smiling, but more likely they’ll feature his full concentration on the court, and a nasty thought wraps itself around Atsumu’s brain and constricts. Will Omi be able to play volleyball again? Will Omi wake up?

He shakes his head and starts jiggling his leg in place once more. This time, Meian lets him. 

Next to Atsumu, Shoyo fidgets. 

“You look terrible, ‘Tsumu,” he whispers, and Atsumu gives him a dry look in return. “Ah, I just mean – you look so worried, but don’t! Omi-kun is going to be fine. He’s reliable like that.”

“I’m not worryin’,” Atsumu lies.

“It’s okay,” Shoyo laughs, “When Omi-kun wakes up, I won’t tell him how concerned you were about him.” 

He’s teasing, trying to make him feel better and it’s all Atsumu can manage to give him a weak smile in return. He feels like if he says too much, he’ll throw up everything he has inside of him.
This is the worst – the absolute worst. Atsumu knows all about anxiety. He’s been anxious his whole life – anxious to stand out, anxious to succeed, anxious that he wasn’t doing enough, practicing enough, living enough. Natural worriers make incredible athletes, because how can you slack off when you’re in constant fear that you may slip up?

Samu doesn’t have the same worries as Atsumu – probably why he didn’t stick with a sport and chose food, instead. 

Despite the familiarity of his chest tightening and his stomach filled with emptiness, he’s never experienced it quite like this. Atsumu wants to tear his hair out; he wants to scream until his throat is ragged. He needs to see Omi, or he might disappear into thin air.

Barnes and Tomas are the last to arrive, both looking haggard. Meian gives the run down once more, and the words start to lose their meaning to Atsumu.

Tragic car accident. Possible trauma. No word yet. 

Half of their team can’t deal with silence or stillness, so pretty soon Shoyo starts pacing and Bokun starts talking. Atsumu would normally join one of them – silence makes him uncomfortable and his body always itches to move, but now it feels as if his bones are made of solid lead and his tongue is too twisted to speak. He comes in and out of reality, somewhere between the hospital and back at his apartment, with Omi in the kitchen, wrinkling his nose at Atsumu’s meager stock of dinner ingredients.

“Tsumu?” Bokun pokes him and Atsumu jumps.

“Sorry,” he mutters in response. “Could ya repeat that?”

Bokun gives him a sideways glance. “Jeeze, Tsumu, are you one of those people that gets squeamish in hospitals?”

Atsumu takes a minute to understand what he’s asking, and then realizes that yeah – right, he looks awful. He’s already been told that by two of his teammates, so what’s one more? He thinks of how if Omi were here, and not in a hospital bed, he would smack him on the side of the arm and tell him to chill out. “Yup, always hated them.”

“Well, we’ll be out of here soon enough, hopefully,” Meian says. “Inunaki, you still haven’t been able to reach his parents?”

“No.” Inunaki frowns. “I left a message and sent a text to his father’s number. I’m sure they’ll get back to us whenever they receive it.”

Atsumu wants to say that nobody should hold their breath, but he doesn’t, because why would Miya Atsumu know something so intimate about Sakusa Kiyoomi?

“We should prepare for the off chance that we can’t get a hold of them,” says Meian, always in leadership mode. “I’m sure that regardless of the outcome of his injuries, he’s going to need assistance.”

“I can take care of Omi,” Atsumu blurts, and instantly regrets it when every pair of eyes snaps to him. His cheeks redden on their own accord and he covers it up with a cough. “I mean – it makes sense, right? We live in the same complex.”

“Look at you, Miya,” teases Inunaki. “So you can be selfless.”

“We can ask Sakusa what he wants when he wakes up,” Meian decides, giving Atsumu a weary look. “We don’t want to overwhelm him.”

“Ah, he’s going to be overwhelmed no matter how we approach him,” Shoyo points out. “It’s Omi.”

That’s one thing Shoyo has straight – Omi is going to hate all of this. He doesn’t like being fussed over. Atsumu remembers the one time in the history of his knowing Omi that he got sick – a common cold, really no big deal, and Atsumu had to go to war to convince him to let him take care of him. He rejected every bowl of soup, every hot towel, and continuously tried to kick Atsumu out of his room. 

Atsumu latches onto the memory, and tells himself that Omi will let him take care of him now. He’ll make sure he’s comfortable and settled and doesn’t want for anything. He’ll even indulge all of his annoying habits – he’ll keep his mouth shut of any complaints. 

Meian sighs, like he wants to say more, but he suddenly snaps to attention – a doctor is walking over to them, and Atsumu has to dig his nails into his thighs to keep himself from jumping up and demanding answers. Meian speaks to the doctor quietly enough that they can’t hear, nods several times, and then smiles, and oh – Atsumu thinks he may pass out. A smile. A smile has to be a good thing. 

When he sits back down, Atsumu wants to scream – tell me, tell me, tell me. Meian clears his throat. 

“Sakusa is awake. He’s in stable condition. No visitors yet,” he adds sternly, eying Shoyo, who is already vibrating in his seat. “He has a lot of injuries, but his head is the primary concern.” He cringes. “He banged it against the door when the other car hit him.”

Atsumu barely holds back the cry that threatens to escape his lips – his Omi, his poor Omi, who can’t even handle a paper cut. He jiggles his leg faster, and Meian eyes him. 

“The doctors think he’ll heal just fine, so don’t worry too much over him. The biggest concern is that he’s going to be benched for awhile, and you know how he’s going to feel about that, so be kind to him.” 

Atsumu may sink down his chair and melt into a puddle on the hospital floor. His heart soars, and a smile finds its way to his face without his permission. If that’s the biggest concern, then they’re in the clear. Once Omi is patched up and released, Atsumu is going to put him right back into the hospital for scaring him like this. 

They’ll laugh about it later, Atsumu is sure. He’ll make it into an inside joke, one that Omi will roll his eyes at, but secretly he’ll smile, and Atsumu will know, so he’ll smile too. He’s going to make sure every time Omi gets into a car, his seat belt is buckled. Atsumu will check.

“Atsumu, relieved?” Tomas asks. “You’re a good teammate.”

“When we tell Sakusa how freaked out you’ve been, he’ll have to be nicer to you,” chuckles Inunaki. “Maybe this finally ends the fated rivalry between you two.”

“Maybe,” Atsumu says noncommittally. He releases a sigh of relief and the anxiety seeps out of him, releasing him from its chokehold and letting him function at a normal level again. It feels so good to breathe. “None of ya better tell Omi anythin’. I can’t have him thinkin’ I’m soft.”

Bokun ruffles his hair and barks out a laugh.

“Don’t worry, Tsumu, your secret is safe with us.”

Atsumu nods, and warmth floods his whole body. This is nothing – it’s just a blip, just a small interruption in their lives. Omi will probably be pleased that he was able to get Atsumu back here – he always gets so needy when Atsumu goes away. Atsumu joked that he could always bring Omi with him, but then he’d scrunch up his nose and drop the argument, and so Atsumu would go alone. 

Hopefully Omi gets out of the hospital today – Meian said he has a head injury, but if he’s awake and talking, it can’t be that bad. He may get released, and then they can spend the rest of the weekend on Atsumu’s couch, eating take-out and watching movies, and Omi can rest his head in Atsumu’s lap and he’ll run his hands through Omi’s curls until he falls asleep. 

“Excuse me?” 

A nurse approaches Meian, who jumps right back up. “You are Sakusa Kiyoomi’s family?”

“We’re his teammates,” Meian explains. “Is there a problem?” 

“He’s showing some inconsistencies with his memories – confusion over his location, the date, and we want to bring in someone familiar to him. Would you?”

“What?” Atsumu blurts out. His heart has picked up the pace again and his brain tries to keep up with what the nurse just said – inconsistencies in his memories? Like amnesia? He vomits out his thoughts before he can stop himself. “Does that actually happen outside of movies?”

“Atsumu, shush,” Inunaki hisses.

Atsumu ignores him completely. “Ya said inconsistencies? So it’s no big deal, right? He’s just confused.”

He recognizes the look on the nurse’s face – pity. 

“It happens sometimes,” she explains. “Sometimes, seeing something or someone familiar helps everything snap back into place.” 

“We should all go see him then.” Atsumu barrels on, choosing not to look at the disbelief on his teammates’ faces. “If anythin’ is gonna jog his memory, it’ll be seein’ the whole team. Who can forget someone like Shoyo or Bokun?” He’s panicking, a little, trying to rationalize in any way that will allow him into Omi’s hospital room. He can’t sit out here and wait after a bomb like that was just dropped on him, he’ll drill a hole into the floor with his foot, or chew his nails clean off.

“I thought we didn’t want to overwhelm him,” Barnes speaks up. “The whole team?”

“Hinata is his favorite,” Inunaki points out. “He should go.”

“I wanna go too,” Atsumu demands, and he can hear the desperation in his voice and takes a breath, tries to dial it back. If Omi is fine, he’s going to absolutely kill Atsumu for how he’s behaving right now. “I’m sure I’ll trigger somethin’ in his mind, don’t ya think?”

Meian cracks a smile at that and Tomas says, “Probably irritation.”

“Exactly,” Atsumu agrees easily – whatever it takes to see Omi.

“Bokuto, Hinata, Miya, you all go, then,” Meian says. He turns to the nurse and asks, “Is that okay?”

“Of course!” She nods. “Follow me.” She smiles kindly at Atsumu, Shoyo and Bokun, but Atsumu can’t relax, not until he sees with his own eyes that Omi is in one piece. He doesn’t even have to say anything to Atsumu – he’ll know just by the look on Omi’s face that everything is okay.

He stays in step with Bokun as they follow the nurse down the hall, to a plain door, slightly ajar. Omi is in there – Atsumu will rattle his brain back into place, and he’ll remember. He’ll be fine.  

“Kiyoomi,” the nurse calls as she peeks in the door. “I brought your friends. They’ve been very worried about you.” 

Atsumu practices patience and doesn’t shove Shoyo aside to get into the room first, and when he does make it, he sighs heavily, feeling traitorous tears prickle at his eyes.

Omi is sitting up, a look on his face that is a combination of bemused and frustrated. A bandage covers his head, and his curls flop over, sweaty and matted. Small bandaids dot his cheeks, and his arm is in a sling, but he’s whole – he’s not broken beyond repair. 

Atsumu catches his eye immediately, and smiles, openly, warmly, and Omi responds with a sneer – not like the ones he often gives out on the court, not calculated and practiced to best throw their team off, to hide away his actual feelings. This is real. It’s pure distaste, written all over his face. “What are you doing here?”

“W - what?” Atsumu chokes. “It’s me, Omi.” 

“Kiyoomi, you recognize him?” The doctor from earlier stands in the corner of the room, clipboard in hand, observing.

“Yes,” Omi answers, curt, like it’s an inconvenience to even answer this question. “We vaguely know each other from high school. Miya.” 

Miya. Atsumu nearly chokes. Omi hasn’t called him Miya since their first few months on the Black Jackals – he’s Atsumu on the court and in front of their teammates, and in private he’s Atsu, Tsumu, or sometimes, if he’s lucky, a variety of other names. 

He swallows down the lump in his throat. Omi sounds cold. 

“It’s more than that. We’re teammates, Omi,” Atsumu tries to keep it together, but the words stick in his throat. He laughs once, humorless. “We, uh, they call us a power duo. Ya remember that, don’t ya?”

“Do I let you call me that ridiculous nickname? I doubt it.”

Atsumu thinks he feels his heart shatter.

“You two drive each other crazy!” Shoyo jumps in. “You’re always arguing, but you work super well together! We’re teammates too, Omi – uh, Sakusa!”

Omi squints at him. “I remember you too. You’re from Karasuno, and you,” he points to Bokun, “another top ace in the nation.” 

“That’s me,” Bokun grins. “So you do remember!”

“Kiyoomi,” his doctor says gently. “You have good memory of your high school days, and we discussed university earlier. Seeing your teammates hasn’t triggered anything for you?”

Omi looks helpless like this. Atsumu knows how much he hates not being in control – he has to have every little detail of anything he does researched and planned for in advance, whether it be a new play for a game, or something as simple as going out to eat. Atsumu used to tease him for looking at the menu beforehand, saying part of the charm was browsing in the actual establishment, but Omi brushed him off. 

Omi purses his lips. “No.” 

“Two years ago, then,” his doctor muses, scribbling something onto his clipboard, too casual, like he’s just partaking in a science experiment, and not watching Atsumu’s entire world crumble.

“Omi,” he whispers. “Ya...ya really don’t remember?”

Omi gives him a look of pure disdain. “Do you think I’d lie, Miya?”

Atsumu can’t breathe. He almost falls backwards into one of the chairs by Omi’s bed but manages to keep himself together, just barely. Shoyo is watching him with worry on his face, but Atsumu can’t smile for him this time. He tries to block out the ringing in his ears, now back with a vengeance, and the room starts to blur. This isn’t happening – it’s not. This kind of stuff happens in bad movies and sad romance novels, not Atsumu’s real life, not to Omi. 

Omi is alive. He’s alive and he’s whole and Atsumu made it to Osaka to see him.

But Omi is two years in the past, right before he joined the MSBY Black Jackals, with nothing but hate in his heart for Atsumu. 

Chapter Text

Atsumu drifts in and out of conversation forty minutes later, at the restaurant that Tomas picked out for them. He hasn’t touched his food, not even attempting to poke at it to satisfy Bokun, who won’t allow anyone on the team to eat insufficiently. Atsumu must be making a hell of a face, because even Bokun leaves him alone for now, and for that, he is grateful. Atsumu stares into space, his ears occasionally picking up on words like  logistics and contact and assistance. It all sounds so impersonal, like Omi is some alien creature that they’ve been tasked with taking care of. 

Nobody tries to pull Atsumu back into the discussion – after the third attempt, they all give up, though he does see Shoyo throw him a concerned glance every three minutes. 

Atsumu had already placated him and Bokun back at the hospital, once the nurse had pushed them out with an insistence that Omi should rest for now, leaving Atsumu with only half a second to get one last look at him.

It didn’t matter. Omi wasn’t looking at him. 

“I’m just shocked is all, Shoyo,” he sighed. “It’s hard to wrap my head around it. I’m tired, too, from the train ride – ya know I get weepy when I’m tired.”

He had to explain the tears away, the ones that had started to fall without him realizing it, staining his cheeks. At least they had waited until he was out of Omi’s room – he didn’t want him to see Atsumu cry. 

Shoyo and Bokun seemed to buy it, at least, and they promised not to tell the rest of the team he was crying. The lie took everything out of him, and he repeated it to his teammates at the start of dinner – I’m tired, and he is. Atsumu is exhausted. 

He tries to tune in, but every word he hears feels like a nail in his coffin. They confirm everything, over-and-over again, and it’s grating in his ears.

“The doctor said he should stay for a few more days,” Meian says, “He’s pretty unhurt other than the...head injury.”

“His parents still haven’t responded to me,” Inunaki whines.

“I’ve considered the possibility that they won’t get back to us, and I think we should make a plan on how to help Sakusa get reacclimated to his life.”

Atsumu blinks blearily at that, more actively trying to listen now. He takes a sip of his water to try and shock himself awake with the cold. It works, a little.

“I was speaking with Sakusa’s doctor, and he thinks that if his memories haven’t returned in the next two days, we need to help him recreate his life with as much normalcy as we can manage.” He sighs. “He says Sakusa may be reluctant to trust us, but that’s not too unusual.”

“Sakusa just started trusting me, like, last week,” Inunaki laughs, “So it won’t be a hard adjustment for me. Or Miya.”

Atsumu smiles mechanically because that’s what’s expected of him. 

“Right, we can just think of it as if we’re all meeting Sakusa for the first time,” Meian continues, “Since that’s what it’s going to be like for him. His doctor said it’s good to feed him memories, but very slowly and casually, so as to not overwhelm him. That being said – if I catch any of you lying to him as some kind of prank, I will tell Coach Foster to kick you off the team. This is serious, and we cannot mess with him in any way.”

The end of the sentence is unspoken – he’s speaking to Atsumu. It has to be said, he supposes – Omi never held back on his act when they were at practice and in turn, Atsumu gave it right back to him. It was an inside joke between them – how far can they go while still being believable? The answer is extremely far, considering their behavior at practice and games earned Atsumu a top spot on the list of People Who Can Not Be Trusted With Omi. 

It pisses Atsumu off, and damn Omi, really, for making Atsumu keep this a secret. If he didn’t love him so damn much, he wouldn’t have agreed to it, and he wouldn’t be staying silent now. He would scream it to all his teammates – they’re treating him like some dirt on Omi’s shoe, but Omi loves him.

Loved, his brain supplies, and Atsumu feels his vision blurring again. He shakes his head, quick, like a dog drying off, and tries again to focus on the conversation.

“He’s not helpless,” Meian says, “But I think we should still make an effort to make this adjustment period as comfortable as possible for him.”

Atsumu’s brain kicks into overdrive, and he doesn’t have a chance of holding back the question that comes out, “What if Omi doesn’t wanna join the Jackals this time ‘round?”

They all stare at him, probably shocked that he’s spoken at all, then Shoyo cocks his head to the side like a confused puppy dog. “Why wouldn’t he?”

“Yeah, he’s the same person as he was two years ago,” Bokun muses, “And two years ago, he joined the Jackals.”

“Two years ago he didn’t have amnesia,”  Atsumu says the word like it’s dirty. “Isn’t he gonna be weird about everythin’?”

Inunaki shrugs. “You know Sakusa. He’s cooperative.” 

“He’ll probably do it to avoid the inconvenience of figuring out something else to do with his life,” laughs Tomas. “He hates inconveniences.”

The team knows this as Omi getting frustrated with bad tosses easily, or having to stay behind to sign merchandise for hopeful fans, or having to take a detour on the walk home. Atsumu knows this as Omi setting up three Wi-Fi routers in his five-hundred square foot apartment so that not a single corner will have a slow connection, or having every shampoo and body wash in the shower perfectly arranged in the order that Omi will use them, or the fact that he makes them sleep with four blankets because he gets cold and Atsumu always takes two, so yes, Atsumu knows Omi hates inconveniences. 

This comforts him because Tomas is right – Omi will join the Jackals again just because he won’t want to have to look for something else to do. 

“He obviously won’t be playing for a while,” Meian says, bringing the attention back to him. “But I think it could be good to get him back at practices to at least observe and get to know everyone again – if he wants, of course.” 

“Aye, aye, Captain.” Inunaki claps. “I’ll keep calling his parents.”

“Somebody should also visit him every day, I know it’s going to get busy when the week starts up –”

“I said I’d do it, remember,” Atsumu speaks up, and his voice sounds a little less dead this time around. “I live right by the hospital. I can go. Ya’ll don’t worry about it.” 

“Are you sure?” Barnes asks. “We don’t want to put all the burden on you.”

“Nah, ‘s fine,” he mumbles now, losing his nerve because everyone is looking at him, and at any other time in his life, Atsumu would gain confidence from that, but now it feels like every member of his team is analyzing him and can see through every one of the cracks that have begun to form on his exterior. “I don’t mind. It’s only a few days. I’ll be nice to him,” he adds with a huff. “I don’t hate him, or anythin’.” 

“Nobody thinks that, Tsumu!” Shoyo squeaks. 

“Shoyo, you and Bokun don’t live too far either. Take turns,” Meian decides, and he’s using his captain’s voice, so it’s final. “Come up with a schedule. He should be out by the end of the week, and we’ll figure it out from there. Don’t overwhelm him,” he adds, and then looks as if he’s questioning his decision to send the three most overwhelming players to sit by his bedside. It’s not as if he has much of a choice – Shoyo, Bokun, and Atsumu don’t have families, or lives outside of volleyball, really, to rush back to after practice. 

Atsumu used to, but that must be gone now, right? 

They finish up eating (well, Atsumu boxes his food at Bokun’s insistence, even though he knows he won’t be eating later, either) and say their goodbyes. Shoyo promises that he’ll create a group chat for scheduling as soon as he gets home, and Atsumu nods, before starting his trek to his empty apartment. 

He checks his phone, once, and sees another barrage of text messages – from Samu, Suna, Aran, Kita, mixed in with Twitter notifications and pop-ups from the news. 

Atsumu will tackle that later – first, he has to make it home.

He wanders, more so than anything, on the way back to his apartment. He and Omi ending up in the same apartment complex was a choice that was not intentional at all, and initially pissed Omi off. They both liked the convenience of being close to the gym – they could walk to practice, and to anything else they could possibly want, so it made sense that they would end up in the same place, and if Atsumu used it to his advantage, well...at least it worked.

In his quest to befriend Omi, he had to put in the extra effort. Practice wasn’t enough, so living in such proximity gave him an excuse to see Omi more often. He’d jog up one floor and knock on Omi’s door, acting like he was just in the neighborhood; text Omi twice a week to ask for ridiculous favors, like borrowing every spice in his cabinet, or threaten to show up in front of his door and bounce a volleyball off it until he agreed to practice. 

Atsumu still remembers the first day Omi didn’t slam the door in his face. He rode that high for a week. 

He passes a ramen shop that they used to frequent and his stomach rumbles, even though there’s a full meal in his carryout bag that he hasn’t eaten. Ramen was their favorite – a go-to, easy date for when they didn’t feel like going anywhere fancy, and Atsumu thinks it probably wouldn’t taste the same without Omi there.  

By the time he makes it to his front door, he feels like he’s aged a thousand years. 

Osamu once said that Atsumu had no coping skills. At the time, Atsumu punched him in the face for insulting him, and once he and Osamu beat the shit out of each other, he felt better, but now – now he thinks he finally gets what he meant. Atsumu doesn’t know how to process this. It doesn’t feel real. His fingers itch to text Omi, but he doesn’t even know if he has his phone, or how he would react to receiving a text from Atsumu.

Probably not very well, if his reaction to him in the hospital room is any indication.

Atsumu shoves his food in the fridge, deciding that maybe later he’ll be able to stomach something. He manages to shower, because he smells like the hospital and it reminds him of Omi which makes him feel sick again, then he slinks into bed and closes his eyes.

It’s not even seven PM, but Atsumu doesn’t know what else he’s supposed to do. Finally, he decides to bite the bullet and open social media.

It’s the first thing he sees – Olympic Hopeful Sakusa Kiyoomi Hospitalized. Atsumu scrolls through the article, but they don’t have any details other than that he was brought into the emergency room after a car slammed into him at a stoplight. 

Of course it wasn’t Omi’s fault – he would never be so careless.

Twitter is exploding, naturally, with thousands of tweets per minute from MSBY fans. Omi had an insane fan following – something that gave Atsumu more joy than he could ever describe. Seeing Omi, stiff and awkward as holy hell, have to pose with adoring fangirls after every game put the most genuine smile on Atsumu’s face. He didn’t even care that Omi scored higher than him in popularity polls (they were neck-and-neck, anyway) because the whole thing was just so hilarious. 

Now, his fans are losing it – he’s trending in Osaka, with messages of love and well-wishes pouring in. It used to be fun when one of them trended. Oftentimes it was Atsumu, for sticking his tongue out in photos too much, but the real gems were from Omi, and through no intention of his own. He’d stare soullessly into the camera and do the bare minimum of the pose the rest of the team was doing, and the whole world would collectively lose their minds.

Atsumu didn’t blame them – Omi is damn cute, even when he tries his best not to be. 

He groans and chucks his phone across the room. He’s self-sabotaging.

After lying in still silence for thirty seconds, Atsumu decides that all he knows how to do is self-sabotage right now, and so he pulls up a web browser and types in ‘amnesia’. 

He learns that the two main symptoms are difficulty learning new things, and difficulty remembering things you already know, and man, Omi must be beside himself. He’s naturally talented with many things – just one of those people, the type who can excel at anything they decide to set their mind to. Not only is Omi incredible on the court, but he’s  smart, dazzlingly so, with a fancy degree to prove it. Suddenly not being able to pick things up instantly is going to knock him down several pegs, and Atsumu used to joke that it was a good thing when Omi got shown up, but now the thought of it just makes his stomach ache.

That’s the least of his concerns now, though, because as he reads further, he’s filled with heavier, darker dread. Amnesia can cause disorientation – confusion that includes false memories,  things that never happened at all but have somehow wormed themselves into the person’s brain. 

Atsumu feels a spike of fear – what if Omi never remembers the real things, but his brain produces fake memories of Atsumu, nasty, cruel memories? He sees Omi’s sneer from his hospital bed when he closes his eyes, and he knows that there was true dislike in his features. He thinks he hates Atsumu – and maybe he did, once, but what if this time, he never changes his mind? 

He continues reading – focuses on one line, reads it over and over again until the words blur and spin under his gaze.  Amnesia from mild head trauma usually resolves without treatment over time. Amnesia from a severe head injury may not recede. However, improvements usually occur within six to nine months.

He’s caught up on the one line, right smack dab in the middle of the paragraph – amnesia from a severe head injury may not recede. 

Atsumu feels himself starting to panic, and he hates this – panic attacks never come this frequently for him. They come, sure, but not like this, not constantly in the background, waiting to strike, waiting for Atsumu to get the next piece of terrifying news and spiral into a state of non-control. He needs to get a grip – he needs to call Samu, but this isn’t his secret to tell, and he knows his brother will know something serious is wrong the moment he hears Atsumu take a breath. 

He breathes, just like he remembers, and holds his phone again with shaking hands. He searches for anything that may help Omi get his memories back – anything at all that Atsumu can do. 

The internet has a lot of advice, and most of it goes right through Atsumu, too incomprehensible, but he latches on to one bold heading that tells him in plain words –  don’t expect them to conform to present reality. 

You can’t tell Omi that you love him, it basically says. It will confuse him further, frustrate him, he may not trust it. He can’t force Omi to come to the present when he’s stuck two years in the past – he can’t make him see the Atsumu that he once kissed little bits of icing off of when he got it on his nose, or the Atsumu that he woke up early on mornings they had practice, just so they could cuddle beforehand. Omi doesn’t know that Atsumu – he only knows the setter from the high school training camp who made it his personal mission to tease and torment Omi every moment he could. 

Atsumu hadn’t known any better – he was just a dumb kid, infatuated with Omi from the beginning, with no understanding of how to express that other than getting under his skin. Of course Omi would hate him; he was a nightmare.

Atsumu isn’t, anymore, though – at least, he doesn’t think so. He grew a lot, especially over the past two years, and even just a few hours ago, he would argue that it wasn’t for Omi. It was for himself – personal growth and all of that, but it would be a lie. Everything has been for Omi. 

God, he’s become such a sap – ruined by one Sakusa Kiyoomi. 

Atsumu glares down at his phone, still open to the page about amnesia, and considers screaming into his pillow for the next twenty minutes to see if it’ll make him feel better, but he knows it’ll just give him a sore throat and piss off his neighbors – the walls are thin, as they’ve reminded him a few times.

He decides to keep reading, and reflects on what Meian said earlier – he may not be able to force Omi to conform to the reality that is their relationship, especially since nobody in the world can back him up on it, but that doesn’t mean he can’t...help him out a little. The doctor told Meian specifically that it would be good to feed him memories, little by little, to help him get everything straight on his head.

Atsumu knows that in this state, Omi will toss everything he says out the window without a second thought, so just straight up telling him what they have together is out of the picture, but what if he writes it down? He can get it all out there, in clear, concise language (Omi is always going on about how he likes things concise – Atsumu is long-winded, but he can shorten his speeches for this) so that when Omi starts to heal (when, not if, he has to tell himself) Atsumu can help guide him. 

This is a good idea. Atsumu jumps up from bed and strides over to his desk, rummaging through the drawer filled with junk, looking for a pen and paper. He finds a musty notebook and a half-sharpened pencil and decides it’ll have to do. He sits down, ready to write Omi the best letter of his life.

Except, nothing comes. He stares at the faded lines on the paper and comes up blank. He doesn’t know where to begin. Atsumu has never been much of a writer, or one for words in general, but when he thinks about Omi, he feels so much that it makes his heart squeeze so hard it might burst. He should be able to write poetry about their relationship – novels, but no words come. 

Twenty minutes pass and Atsumu is starting to think that maybe Samu was right all those times he told him that he was lucky he had volleyball because he was too dumb for anything else. 

Ah, he can’t think like that now, he has to do something! He can’t just sit idly by and let Omi’s brain lock away the memories of them together – he has to wake them up. He stands up, paces for a moment, and then pulls out his phone.

Atsumu may not be particularly good with words, but he loves to talk. Samu tells him all the time that he’s vain to a fault, and not everyone likes to hear his voice as much as he does, but Atsumu never cared about Samu’s opinion in the past, and he isn’t going to start now. Omi likes to listen to him. Sometimes, when he’s exhausted, in his most vulnerable state, he’ll whisper to Atsumu to tell him something, a story, and then Omi will fall asleep to the sound of Atsumu’s voice.

He tells himself it’s okay to think about Omi in the present tense because this is temporary – six to nine months at  worst. It’ll hurt like hell if it takes that long, but Atsumu can speed up the process. 

Since Omi likes his voice so much, Atsumu can retell their stories on video, starting from the beginning, and then Omi has to remember. 

It’ll be easy enough, just like talking to Omi, one of his favorite things to do. It’s always been his favorite, actually, from training camp when he just wanted the scowling, silent boy to acknowledge him, and later, on the Jackals, when sometimes Omi would reward him with speaking back. 

If he’s lucky, he’ll only get through one or two before Omi is blowing up his phone, complaining about how bad his head hurts and how weird it was to not remember anything for a few days, and then they’ll laugh at the videos, and Atsumu will cover him in kisses, and then maybe he’ll tell him, for the first time, explicitly how much he means to him. 

He sets up his phone against his desk and positions himself in the frame, but as soon as he sees himself, he scrunches his nose. He can’t present himself like this  to an Omi who doesn’t remember him at his worst. Pre-brain injury Omi may have images in his head of Atsumu with bedhead, or red-nosed from a cold, or with a ‘frightening’ green face mask on, but current Omi only knows him as his pretty self, so he’ll keep that for a little longer.

After rummaging through his closet and combing his hair to make himself more presentable, Atsumu is satisfied, and he sits down in front of the camera and smiles, makes sure it’s a genuine one for Omi’s sake.

“Hey, Omi,” he greets, giving the camera with a small wave. “Ya lost yer memories, and that’s really annoying, because I’m gonna have to tell ya everythin’ all over again, and I’m not good at tellin’ stories.” His mouth quirks up because he can see Omi now – eyes narrowed at the screen, a little scoff, but then maybe, a smile. “Well, I guess it all started when ya jumped my bones in the locker room…”

Atsumu frowns suddenly and snatches his phone from its spot recording, and promptly deletes the video. It’s just – it’s too much, for the first video. Omi would never watch it. He’d listen to maybe two sentences and then delete it, and then Atsumu wouldn’t have a chance to show him more. He can’t be so direct with him – he has to approach it in a way that Omi will respond to. 

He’s always appreciated blunt, a fact that Atsumu, someone who naturally teases with his words, had to grapple with, but he and Omi always balanced each other out well. They don’t push the other to change but just learned to adjust to their own personalities and quirks. Atsumu used to laugh – he and Omi don’t work on paper, but in practice, they’re pretty damn perfect. 

He takes a breath, tries again. “Hey, Omi. This is gonna sound real weird, but ya don’t hate me anymore. In fact, we’re pretty damn close. Ah, I guess I should start from the beginnin’ – ya might not believe me, but I promise everythin’ I say in these videos is gonna be one-hundred-percent true. I don’t have anyone to back me up, so yer just gonna have to trust me.”

He sighs and taps his fingers in his lap. “I guess if we wanna go way back to the beginning, we can start from the first day of practice. I gave everyone on the team nicknames, so I wanted to give one to ya too. You were so prickly, and ya didn’t like me much, but I don’t think ya ever hated me, Omi.” He shrugs and leans back onto the bed a little, sudden realization of just how tired he is hitting him like a train. He tells Omi as much. “It’s been really stressful today since ya had to go and get in a damn car accident. Ya know better than that.” He shakes his head. “Anyway, I wanted to give ya a nickname, so I called you Omi-Omi, and ya glared at me, real mean, and I shortened it to Omi for ya.”

Atsumu imagines Omi snorting at that, rolling his eyes and walking into the other room. Atsumu can almost sense a ghost of him here, can feel his presence in every piece of furniture – he’s laying on the bed, ankles crossed in the air, reading while he waits for Atsumu to come join him; he’s standing in the bathroom, face mask on and toothbrush in his mouth, the picture of domesticity, though he’d scoff at Atsumu for saying so; he’s rummaging through his drawer in Atsumu’s dresser because he left clothes over so often they just decided to share. For someone as quiet as Omi, he sure had a momentous presence, and Atsumu feels cold without it.

“Ya complained for a while, but then ya started answering to it.” Atsumu smiles shakily at the memory, now, remembering how victorious he had felt when Omi turned his head at his call and didn’t immediately give him a death stare. “And then it became my favorite name to say! Ah, Omi, I always wanted to be yer friend. I don’t really know why – well, I know now, but I didn’t then.” He’s rambling a little, but it’s his first video, and Omi will forgive him – he knows he rambles when he’s nervous. “So, our first real memory together is when I gave ya yer nickname because I think that’s when ya first started to like me a little. Ya might deny it, but I know ya pretty well.” 

He looks at the camera for another minute, then shrugs his shoulders. “This is so awkward, Omi, I bet yer laughin’ at me. The things I do for ya. Well, I’ll say bye for now, but don’t worry, Omi – I’ve got lots more memories for ya.” 

He stands up and pushes the stop button. He holds his phone for a moment and then walks backward until he hits his bed, and he collapses onto his back, tears already threatening to spill over once more.

Atsumu hates crying, but normally, when he does, Omi is there to snap him out of it. He would glare at Atsumu’s tears before wiping them away, telling him tears were a waste of hydration or some nonsense like that. Thinking about it makes Atsumu cry harder, and then he can’t stop. He rolls over onto his side and sobs, reaching for his pillow so he can clutch it to his chest and let everything  out. 

The cries are loud and ugly, and he chokes on his spit several times, sending himself into a violent coughing fit. His eyes burn, his cheeks are hot, and he can’t stop. The front of his shirt is soaked with snot and tears – the nice shirt he wore for Omi. 

If Omi ever even sees it – if Omi even watches any video Atsumu sends him; if he’ll even talk to him.

He shivers as another sob wracks his body. He wants Omi to hold him, to kiss him quiet, to admonish him for throwing a tantrum, but Atsumu can’t even feel the ghost of his presence anymore. 

What’s Omi thinking about, he wonders – is he lonely, scared? Should Atsumu go to the hospital and stay with him? He doesn’t want him to be alone, but Omi wouldn’t want him there. He would send him away, disgust all over his face. 

Atsumu can’t stay here though – Omi doesn’t even live here, for Christ’s sake, but he’s everywhere, and Atsumu is going to go crazy trying to find him in the spaces he no longer fits in. He sheds his shirt and uses it to wipe his blotchy face, taking several deep breaths before he dresses in a fresh one, throws on his shoes, and walks out the door. 

He doesn’t know where he’s going, but it’s a Friday night, so the sidewalks are busy. Atsumu walks with his head down and his hood up, unusual for him, his friends would say – always wanting to be the center of attention, but right now Atsumu doesn’t want anyone to look at him. He didn’t really seek out attention, he’s just – boisterous. The only person he’s ever actively tried to impress is Omi. 

Atsumu is really pathetic, isn’t he? He’s been hung up on Omi for as long as he can remember. Even when they didn’t see each other for years, he was in the back of his head – that sneer, that serve, the way he hit Atsumu’s sets and then just stared lifelessly at Atsumu’s outstretched hand, leaving him hanging every time. Atsumu didn’t get him, but he wanted to, and finally, he had the chance. 

He hadn’t meant to fall in love with him. That was Omi’s fault entirely. Atsumu just wanted to figure him out – to crack the code, put together the puzzle that was Sakusa Kiyoomi, but in the process of doing so, Atsumu realized that he found Omi incredible. 

Of course, he didn’t understand what that meant until Omi kissed him in the locker room, unprompted, after everyone had cleared out from practice, and it turned out that Atsumu never wanted to stop kissing Omi. 

Atsumu walks past a couple now – a young one, probably still in high school, holding hands while the girl points excitedly at window displays showcasing some sort of new fashion brand, and he really might cry again. He doesn’t know when he got so sensitive that high schoolers are making him teary, and he knows if Samu could see him, he’d punch him clean in the face for being such a baby, but he’s just so….tired. 

He knows these streets so well. Atsumu didn’t think Omi would want to go on dates – he was probably just happy with their makeout sessions, which got progressively steamier each time they happened, so he was surprised when it was Omi who first made the suggestion. He mentioned a fried chicken restaurant, just down the street from their complex, that he’d read good reviews on. Atsumu had almost been too shell-shocked to say yes.

Dates became a regular thing after that – almost every weekend, they’d go somewhere to eat, or to a movie, or walk around the park, and then they’d end up at one or the other’s apartments, tangled up in each other on the bed. 

It’s ironic, Atsumu thinks – he spent such an integral part of his life living by the motto of ‘who needs memories’, and now memories are all he has. 

His wandering gets him to the front of the hospital, and really, Atsumu shouldn’t be surprised. He hadn’t meant to end up here, but it’s where his feet carried him because he is inexplicably drawn to Omi, no matter the circumstances. He wants to go inside but remembers the way Omi looked at him, and he doesn’t think he could keep it together if he had to experience that again. 

He huffs out a long, tortured breath and pulls out his phone. He needs to get himself back to some semblance of normal, at least to where he isn’t on the brink of crying in the street before he can see Omi again. No matter how much Atsumu wants to collapse onto him and cry his heart out, begging him to just  remember him, he knows he can’t do that. He starts a quick group chat with Shoyo and Bokun, asking if they can visit Omi over the weekend, and Atsumu will go after practice on Monday.

Shoyo responds immediately with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ (with so many exclamation points) and Bokun sends some positive emojis. Atsumu sends back a thumbs up, and then Shoyo texts him privately.

Are you okay, Tsumu? You know I’m here to talk if you need it.

Atsumu smiles sadly at his phone. He doesn’t think he’s ever been less okay in his life, honestly. He’s lost countless games, started and ended earth-shattering fights with Samu that made him feel like his world was ending, even though he had his heart broken a few times before, but all of that was so easy compared to this. Atsumu feels like he’s walking underwater, each step harder than the last, and it scares him. It scares him, to know that he’s fallen so deeply in love with Omi, without either of them ever saying the words out loud. 

Now, Atsumu wonders, those damn tears welling up in his eyes again – will he ever get to say them to Omi after all?  

Chapter Text

Atsumu’s mother told him he’s always been a good sleeper. She said that when he and Samu were babies, Samu would wake the whole house up wailing, but Atsumu just slept through it, peaceful. Samu said that made him an asshole, for not trying to calm him down, because Atsumu can’t get a break from his brother, even as an infant.

He’s grateful for this ability now, as he spends the entirety of the weekend falling in and out of sleep. After leaving the hospital, he went home and doom-scrolled Twitter for news about Omi before passing out fully clothed, and he’s barely left bed since.

It’s unlike him, he knows, and he’s going to regret it when he has to go back to practice on Monday after a weekend of barely moving, much less eating properly and doing his exercises, but his brain doesn’t care about logistics right now – it just wants sleep. Besides, sleep keeps him from crying, and Atsumu has had enough crying for a lifetime already.

So he gives into it, for now. He sleeps, but he keeps his phone volume turned up as high as possible, just in case somebody calls him with news, or Omi calls him. 

It’s wishful thinking, because Omi does not call him all weekend, and Atsumu has to fight not to let that kill him.

He does respond blearily, in between fits of sleep, to everyone else who has reached out. Nobody may know what Omi truly is to Atsumu, but they do know he’s a teammate, and several people have contacted Atsumu, asking for details. Some are out of concern, like Kita and Aran, and his parents, and some he knows, are prying for details. 

Atsumu lies to all of them equally, with smiling emojis and thumbs up and promises that Omi should be fine, just fine. 

The weekend passes, and the only indication of time for Atsumu are Shoyo and Bokun’s updates in the team group chat on their visits to Omi’s hospital room.

 He’s grumpy, they say, which is on-brand and expected. Shoyo reports that Omi didn’t have much to say, but he allowed Shoyo to yammer at him, telling him about all things volleyball related that Omi has lived from the time his memories leave off. 

Atsumu grits his teeth at the update. Omi won’t want to hear that, but Shoyo doesn’t know better  – his heart is in the right place, but the rest of the team doesn’t get Omi like Atsumu does. It’s a cliche, but it’s a true one  – Omi is complicated, and if Atsumu was a weaker man, he would’ve given up on him long before he got to where he was. Hearing about everything he’s accomplished  – sure, it sounds exciting, but it’ll just eat Omi up to know that he’s achieved so many of his goals and he can’t even pull up one memory in his brain about any of it. 

Bokun brings pictures, so at least Omi has a visual. Atsumu wonders if his eyes lit up when he saw himself on the court, or if they were dull, as if he’s looking at photos of somebody else. 

Atsumu has enough awareness to know that it’s his turn to visit tomorrow, and his stomach churns at the thought. It’s funny, because never in his life has Atsumu not wanted to see Omi. Even at the training camp where they met, he looked forward to every day he got to play with or against him – because Omi exhilarated him, but now, his insides are in knots and he thinks about playing sick, because he just doesn’t know what he’s going to say.

Logically, he knows that Omi is just confused, and probably scared, and only can go off what he knows as fact in his mind, so it makes sense that he would lash out at Atsumu, but, even knowing that, Atsumu doesn’t know if his heart can take it a second time.

His phone trills at him and he dives for it, that consistent hope showing its face again, but it’s just Samu  – for the fourth time in an hour. Atsumu is avoiding him, and Samu knows it, hence why he’s calling him every fifteen minutes. It grates on Atsumu’s nerves, because every ring that isn’t Omi adds to the growing pit of disappointment weighing him down. 

If he doesn’t answer, though, Samu will never stop. 

“Yeah,” he says, flat and cringes at the sound of his own voice  – it’s got that gruff tone to it, the one that will tell Samu exactly how little Atsumu has been talking to anyone this weekend.

“What the fuck is wrong with ya? Are ya dead? I was about to call ma.” Samu starts off his rant immediately and Atsumu grimaces further. He hasn’t heard another person’s voice since he crawled into bed forty-eight hours ago and Samu is so damn loud when he’s mad. “I called Kita and asked him if he’d heard from ya – me, yer own twin brother, havin’ to ask my old captain if he’d talked to ya, and he had. Why are ya avoiding me?” 

Atsumu sighs. He hates this. He hates upsetting Samu, and this whole weekend he’s done nothing but that – running out of his shop with barely any explanation, ignoring all of his phone calls, but he can’t talk to him about this. He can barely talk to him, period, because one slip-up and he’ll know – Samu always knows. 

Atsumu’s only been able to lie to him once in his life, and he feels the facade he built begin to crumble. He has to build it back up.

He can do this.

“I’m not avoidin’ ya, idiot,” he snaps, forcing all of the normalcy his brother expects into the grit of his words. “I told ya – I’m stressed because my whole team is stressed.”

“Yer not that empathetic,” Samu accuses and Atsumu frowns.

“I’m plenty empathetic.”

“Ya used to laugh when people got injuries on the court.”

“If they were on the other team.”

 Samu laughs, but it’s short. “Jus’ – stop avoidin’ my calls. Ya know that’s the rule. One of us calls, the other answers. Those were the guidelines for us bein’ far away from each other.”

Atsumu sighs. Samu is placated for now.

“If ya miss me so much, Samu, ya can just say it.” Atsumu feels a little lighter, as if maybe lack of human contact and just laying in bed for two days straight is bad for his mental health. 

“Shut up. I don’t give a shit if I don’t see yer ugly face for a year, but I want ya to pick up the phone.” 

Atsumu rubs his eyes. “Alright. I will. I’m fine though, Samu, chill out. It’s been busy. We’re all tryin’ to figure out how to...deal with this.”

“It’s pretty wild,” Samu muses, calmed down now. “Kita told me – ya fuckin’ asshole, don’t even tell me that yer teammate has amnesia. Is he all confused, like a kid?”

“No,” Atsumu snaps, ready to raise hell, but he manages to compose himself. “Nah, he just – he doesn’t remember the last two years of his life, so he doesn’t remember the Jackals. It’s gonna be a pain, is all, gettin’ him back up to speed once he’s able to play again – be a bigger pain if he doesn’t want to play again.”

It’ll be more than just a pain if Omi doesn’t want to play again – he’s sure he will, tells himself over and over again that he will, but the slight possibility that he won’t is terrifying. If Omi walks away from the Jackals, then Atsumu will have no excuse to see him, talk to him, and then he really may lose Omi forever.

He can’t let that happen. 

“I know he’s yer friend, Tsumu, but try not to kill yerself over this.”

Atsumu practically sputters. “He’s barely my friend, why would I – ”

Samu hums. “Ya just talked about him a lot, is all, and sure, most of it was complaints, but yer always complain’, so I figured ya liked him okay.”

Atsumu prepares to argue more, so trained from constantly having to pretend he and Omi grated on each other’s nerves, but then he relaxes. It’s probably okay, to tell Samu that they’re friends – they are, even if they do pretend to annoy each other, Atsumu has never acted like he hates Omi. The team knows that too, even though they would apologize profusely to Omi every time they ‘forced’ him to room with Atsumu at away games. They wouldn’t have made him do it if they thought they were at risk to kill each other.

“We’re friends,” Atsumu admits, and it’s a relief to even be partially truthful, but then the familiar fog of anxiety seeps into his brain again and reminds him that in present time, as Omi is now, they are definitely not friends. “Well, he remembers me as I was at the trainin’ camp, so…”

“Ah,” Samu says, and that’s all he has to say, he can really leave it there, but because he’s an asshole, he continues. “You were such a jerk in high school  – all cocky and obnoxious. I dunno how anyone tolerated ya. So, he hates ya now?”

“Pretty much,” Atsumu grumbles miserably. 

“Ah, well,” Samu yawns, and Atsumu is glad he got over his worry so easily. He rolls his eyes. “Guess ya just have to start over. Ya got him to be yer friend one time. Just do it again.”

Samu has no idea how much he’s oversimplifying things – as if getting someone as prickly as Omi to be somebody like Atsumu’s friend was easy in the first place, now he gets the added challenge of Omi’s amnesia making him not trust anybody.

But he’s already told Samu too much. “Yeah, yeah. Leave me alone now, I’m busy.”

“Busy doin’ what? I bet yer laying in bed like a scrub. Did ya eat dinner yet?”

“Holy shit, I thought movin’ away from home would stop the naggin’, but it turns out I’ve got a second ma,” Atsumu snaps, and Samu laughs at that.

“Bye, Tsumu – pick up the phone next time I call, or I’ll show up at yer front door and kick it down.”

“I will.” 

Atsumu hangs up then and goes back to his regularly scheduled misery. As he scrolls through his phone aimlessly, he wonders if it’s a good thing or a bad thing Omi never took pictures with him. It made sense at the time; Atsumu is famously careless with his phone, letting anyone who asks borrow it, showing videos and tweets and whatever else he comes across to the whole team. If he had a picture of him and Omi, there’s a good chance it would get accidentally discovered, so Atsumu hadn’t questioned it then, but now – he starts to wonder, why had Omi been so adamant about keeping things a secret?

Atsumu had been so caught up in the whirlwind of it all that he never really stopped to think. Omi kept him swept up in burning kisses and wandering hands, whispered promises that took root in his brain. They just kind of...happened. Their frequent hook-ups that used to end when they came down from their highs started turning into both of them finding ways to stay the night, and then stretched into weekend affairs, where they would barely come up for air other than to eat. Dates followed soon after, and they fell into a routine so naturally, so wordlessly, that Atsumu never really felt the need to worry about who knew, or what they were doing, as long as Omi was with him. 

Did Omi love Atsumu at all – or, maybe he didn’t, and that’s why he’s able to forget him so easily?

He’s been doing this a lot in the last blur of days – second-guessing himself, doubting everything he thought he ever knew, and crying himself to sleep. 

At least it’s become a routine – Kita would be proud of him.

 

-x-

 

Atsumu manages to get his shit together enough to not completely embarrass himself at practice. He misses a few serves, but his tosses are on-point, so Meian and the coaches leave him alone. Volleyball, at least, is distracting. Atsumu may not be the best at hiding his feelings during his games, and he definitely still lets emotion get the best of him on occasion, but he can dive into it just enough that his brain turns off any outside troubles and focuses only on getting a point. 

He’s getting ready to shower when Meian approaches him. “You’re going to visit Sakusa in the hospital tonight, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Atsumu says, hoping he doesn’t sound like he feels. Now off the court, his anxiety has taken ahold of him, and it’s a chokehold. He has a brief thought of practicing until he passes out  – it would at least keep him from thinking.

“He’s supposed to be released tomorrow,” Meian begins, and Atsumu tries to keep his face a clean slate. He knew Omi would be getting out soon, but tomorrow  – he’ll be back in their apartment complex tomorrow , just one floor above Atsumu. “I didn’t mention this to the rest of the team yet, but we did get ahold of his parents. They’re abroad for business and unable to make it home right now, so they’ve entrusted us with his care. I know you mentioned that since you lived close, you’d check on him when he’s released, but I don’t want to burden you with – ”

“I’ll do it,” Atsumu blurts. “It’s no trouble. He’s just a floor above me. I’ll make sure he’s takin’ care of himself.”

“Okay.” Meian nods. “Thank you, Miya – and, if you could...talk up the team. It would be a shame to lose Sakusa.”

“Ah, yer trustin’ me now?” Normally Atsumu wouldn’t dare tease his captain like this – Meian is kind, but he’s also scary, and Atsumu had respect drilled into him by Kita, but he’s exhausted, and he’s got so much pent up irritation that it’s threatening to burst out of him. “Thought everyone was afraid I’d torment and lie to Omi?”

“The team knows you care about him just like the rest of us,” Meian says, face a hard mask. “You two just have such opposite personalities, so it can be hard to tell, sometimes.”

It’s all an act, Atsumu wants to snap. It’s an act because if they told the team, they’d have to put a label on it, and deal with all that resulted from that – boyfriends? Social media would implode, Shoyo, Bokun and Inunaki would never shut up, and it would throw their entire dynamic off. It was a burden, and that was why Omi wanted to keep it a secret, Atsumu reminds himself again. He gets in his head too much – it’s not like Omi is ashamed of him. Was ashamed of him.

“We’re like a cat and dog,” Atsumu says instead. “We get along just fine when we need to.” 

“I know.” Meian smiles. “Sakusa is going to try to push us away. We all know it. You’re the most persistent, so I am certainly trusting you.” 

“Alright, captain,” Atsumu says, and in a strange way, it makes him feel better to hear the words. The taunts of his teammates have been grating at him and it’s getting harder to hold his tongue, but Meian settles him. He trusts him to take care of Omi – to persuade him to come back to his old life, and reintroduce himself to his team. Atsumu can do that, of course he will. 

“Good luck to you,” Meian sighs. “It would’ve been easier if you’d lost your memory. You’d go along with whatever we told you.”

Atsumu laughs at that, genuine and unexpected. It’s insulting, but Meian is entirely right – Atsumu would just believe everything the team told him and show right back up to practice, ready to relearn how things work on the Jackals. Omi would be much, much harder. 

“Life can’t be easy, huh?” Atsumu rolls his eyes, and Meian smiles and turns towards the locker room. Atsumu follows him and the rest of the team in, paying little mind to their conversations as they shed clothing and slam locker doors. Atsumu makes his way to the showers, making sure to be meticulous in his process. 

When they first started out, Omi was insistent that Atsumu shower anytime they spent time together, even if he already had after practice, but Atsumu thought it was just because Omi wanted to watch him strip. Occasionally, he would join him, and so Atsumu didn’t mind the extra steps. Recently, Omi had been less demanding of it – he was used to Atsumu now, and all of the germs he brought along with him. It felt like crossing a bridge in their relationship, a sign that Omi was truly comfortable with Atsumu exactly as he is, but this is a different Omi now, and Atsumu doesn’t want to risk even having a hair out of place when he visits him. 

He dries himself off well, styles his hair in the mirror, and dresses in a casual but still stylish outfit – just enough so that he didn’t look like a slob, but nobody would think he’s trying too hard (even though he had spent so long picking it out that he was almost late to practice).

He guesses it’s a good thing he’s vain on a regular day, because nobody comments on the fact that he spends a little extra time in the mirror, checking his face for blemishes, though Shoyo does give him a strange look when he smooths down his eyebrows a third time. He shrugs it off though, and when Atsumu waves goodbye, he smiles and waves back wholeheartedly.

It’s a nice night to walk, and Atsumu tries to focus on that, rather than his rapidly increasing heart rate. He thinks about calling Samu again, just for something to do other than think, but Samu will ask what he’s doing, and with the fragile state Atsumu is in right now, he’ll probably say something incriminating. He puts in ear buds instead and puts on a playlist – one that Omi made him, of course, after he told Atsumu there was more to life than ‘that bubblegum pop shit you like so much’. Atsumu rolled his eyes then – like Omi hadn’t been caught several times bopping his head along to the music Atsumu played in his apartment, or trying to hold himself back from subtly dancing. 

God, Atsumu would come up behind him when he was mixing ingredients and wrap his arms around his waist, sing the lyrics in his ear, kiss him on the cheek. He took things like that for granted, didn’t think he’d ever have to miss them like this.

This playlist isn’t upbeat, like Atsumu likes, but it has lyrics that tell Atsumu a story that Omi would never tell him himself, and Atsumu soaks them in while he puts one foot in front of the other and makes his way to the hospital.

Omi is even worse with words than Atsumu is, but he picked his songs purposely. Atsumu wonders if he should’ve listened closer. He tries now, but gets one song in before he has to switch away to something mindless. It’s too much  – he can’t listen to a playlist curated for him by someone who no longer exists.

You’re wrong, Atsumu scolds himself. Your Omi is in there.

Atsumu checks in with the receptionist at the hospital, and he’s directed once again to Omi’s room – not that he needs to be told where to go; Atsumu memorized the room number the moment he saw it, and soon he’s standing in front of it again. It’s slightly ajar, and he hears the sound of the news playing from inside. He knocks once, lightly, then again, just in case Omi didn’t hear, and he’s answered with a grumbled, “What?”

“Jeeze, Omi, that’s no way to greet a teammate,” Atsumu chuckles, trying to keep his voice at a normal tone, but seeing Omi messes him up, and he goes a bit higher pitched than he’d meant it to. 

Omi is sitting up in bed, cleaner than the last time Atsumu had seen him, no longer sporting tangled curls hanging over a blood-stained bandage. His arm is in a sling, but other than that, Omi is in near perfect condition – a miracle, if not for the fact that his brain is broken.

“Ya look better,” Atsumu comments, and Omi says nothing, just stares. There’s a brief stand-off, where Atsumu doesn’t know if he should walk further into the room or flee altogether, but then Omi narrows his eyes and scoffs.

“Are they going to send someone new every day? I don’t need a babysitter.” This Omi speaks every sentence with a voice that used to be reserved for arguments or losses; cold, flat. Atsumu hates it  – he has nothing but nasty associations with it. “It’s not helping. I still don’t remember anything.”

Atsumu has to keep himself upbeat, not just for Omi’s sake, but for the team’s – he promised Meian he would be persistent, and persistent he will be.

“Ah, but ya might, maybe it just takes the right person.” Atsumu winks, and Omi scrunches his nose up at him. Atsumu holds back the frown that threatens to pull down on his lips – right, he can’t be entirely himself with this Omi; this Omi doesn’t think he’s cute and charming when he flirts. “Nobody is babysittin’ ya, but yer doctor said normalcy is good, and we’re normalcy, even if ya don’t like it.”

“Normalcy,” Omi repeats. “My life can’t be this exhausting. I wouldn’t do that to myself.”

Atsumu snorts. “I don’t know what to tell ya about that. You made this choice all on yer own.”

“I must’ve been coerced to join a team that has Hinata Shoyo and Bokuto Koutaro on it,” Omi insists. “I think I actually lost more brain cells listening to them, which would make my brain damage worse.” 

Atsumu laughs for real this time, and his heart warms. He sinks into the chair next to his bed, relieved. This is still Omi – blunt, sarcastic Omi. It was unreasonable, but Atsumu had worried that the injury would change his personality, shift him into somebody that Atsumu didn’t know, but no – Omi through and through. 

“Good thing I’m here now then, right?” Atsumu sits down in the chair next to Omi’s bed, and he’s given a withering look.

“I don’t know how many brain cells I have left to lose, but I guess I’ll be able to tell after this.” 

Atsumu grins at Omi. This feels – natural. Omi is being mean, but not really. He’s certainly not acting like he hates Atsumu, and his heart is soaring at the fact. Omi doesn’t smile back at him, though, instead, his face twists and then he’s regarding Atsumu with that cold stare again. 

“You should leave, Miya. Tell Meian that you stayed, I don’t care. I’ll lie to him.” 

“Wha – am I botherin’ ya that much?” he asks. “Look, I get that yer stressed out, but ya’ve gotta embrace that this is yer life now, this – ”

“Don’t tell me about my life,” Omi snaps, and – did Atsumu imagine the earlier interaction? Was Omi just humoring him, or simply too tired to fight him at the moment? 

“I’m just sayin’ we should catch up.” He tries for a smile and knows it’s wobbly at best. “C’mon, Omi. We’ve got two years to cover, and I promise ya it’s not all that bad.”

“Stop calling me that. It’s not my name.” 

“Sakusa sounds...impersonal,” Atsumu whines – he’s said it before, back when he first came up with ‘Omi’. He told Omi that Sakusa was a mouthful, and simply too formal for a teammate, and Omi had rolled his eyes and walked away from him, but he gave up quickly.

“Impersonal, yes,” Omi agrees. “That would make sense, considering we’re not friends. I barely know you.”

“That’s not – ”

“I’ll tell you what I remember, Miya. I remember you strutting into Ajinomoto National Training Center like you owned it, bullying Tobio Kageyama, and being a general pain in the ass. You’re cocky, you’re messy, and your serves need a lot of work – though, I suppose you could’ve improved that over the years. Your personality doesn’t seem to have changed though.”

“Omi – ”

“Sakusa. I don’t want to speak to you anyway, but I just won’t respond if you call me by that stupid nickname.” 

Atsumu is, for maybe the second time in his life, at a loss for words. He bites his tongue and forces back tears, because he won’t let Omi see him cry – he won’t let him know that his words break his heart into pieces. 

“I’ll call ya what ya want then, if it makes ya calm down.”

“I am calm, Miya, thank you.” Omi’s words are scathing. “I’m very calm, all things considered, but what doesn’t help with my calm is when someone like you – somebody I am positive that I dislike comes into my room calling me stupid, familiar nicknames and trying to act like you know me.”

“I do know ya,” Atsumu whispers, but it’s more of a breath, and he isn’t sure Omi hears at all. His lips are pursed, and he’s glaring at Atsumu like he wants to burn him. He won’t hold out much longer. He knows his threshold, and Omi is shattering it. He takes a breath, and turns off his emotions the best he can. “Meian wants you back on the Jackals,” he says, louder, and his words come out stiff and mechanical. “I don’t know what ya plan to do, but that’s yer life, Om – Sakusa. Ya can try and run away from it, but it’s where yer supposed to be.”

“I’ll make that decision for myself.”

“Alright,” he responds. “Ya do that. I’ll leave ya alone then.” 

“Great,” Omi says, closing his eyes, and Atsumu feels like he’s glued to the chair, every instinct screaming at him to stop, to stay. He can’t give up on Omi so easily, but he’s so, so tired. He doesn’t think he can do it, not like this. He’s simply not a strong enough man, so he stands, and drags his feet to the door.

“Miya,” Omi calls, and like a fool, Atsumu allows the feeling of hope to consume him once more. “You shouldn’t come back.” 

Atsumu doesn’t answer him, doesn’t think he can open his mouth without choking out some pathetic, desperate plea. He shakes his head and slips out the door, nearly slamming the door behind him. 

The tears come faster this time, before he can stop them, and Atsumu ducks his head so nobody sees.

 

-x-

 

Atsumu doesn’t go back. In fact, he doesn’t leave his room at all for the next two days. He calls out of practice, claiming that he’s got the flu, and he doesn’t want to spread it to anyone. Their season doesn’t start up for another two weeks anyway, so Coach Foster tells him to rest up and be back at top form when he returns. He doesn’t answer the phone when Samu calls, but texts him, telling him his voice sounds like shit and that he’s sick. Samu doesn’t believe him, and keeps calling, but Atsumu just can’t. 

When Omi is released from the hospital, Meian goes in place of Atsumu to his apartment. Apparently, he’s kinder to him, and he even updates the group chat that Omi will come to the Jackals practice to watch, once he’s had time to recover. He’s currently settling into his apartment, just one floor above Atsumu, and Atsumu is rotting away in his room, crying himself dry over somebody who hates him. 

He watches the video he took for Omi on his phone, thinks about what an idiot he is for recording it in the first place, and almost deletes it, but can’t bring himself to press the damn button. Instead, he holds his phone up above him as he lays in bed. He stares at himself for a moment – puffy-faced, red-eyes, with unkempt peach fuzz growing on his chin and his bangs greasy in his face. 

He clicks record.

“Hey, Omi.” His voice is rough, rubbed raw from hours of crying and holding in screams. It’s almost gone, and it hurts, but he powers through. “I’m tryin’ real hard not to be upset with ya, but God, this is hard, ya know?” He laughs once, bitter. “Ya used to piss me off all the time – well, I’m not innocent. We pissed each other off, but we really got in some fights in the beginnin’. Ya know the funniest one we had?” He sniffles and tries to blink the redness out of his eyes, but it’s hopeless. “Ya got so mad at me because I didn’t take my shoes off before comin’ into the apartment, and it was just so ridiculous that I laughed, and ya said I didn’t respect ya, and that we weren’t gonna work out. Ya nearly kicked me out of yer place, Omi!” He smiles, a little, at the memory, and he thinks he may have lost his mind completely. “I took them off and threw them, and told ya that ya were being a baby, and ya picked one up and chased me around the apartment with it. It’s a small apartment, Omi, yer in it right now, so visualize how damn stupid that is.”

He shudders out a sigh. “It just took us some time to get used to each other. It’s weird that we work, Omi – yer such a princess sometimes, but I know I can be a pain in the ass and so we fight. I don’t care though. I never cared. Ya were worth it to me.” He pauses. “Ya still are so worth it to me, but I don’t know what to do right now. I’m breakin’ apart over here, and ya just have no idea. I can’t tell ya. I don’t want to make it worse.” 

He starts crying again, then, and so he stops the recording and silences his phone and throws it somewhere onto the mess of blankets. He lies back, head in hands, and tries to self-soothe, breathing like he knows how, but even that isn’t doing anything for him. His head is at risk of splitting open, and he’s soaked through his already ruined pillowcase, but still the tears come, hot as they rain down his cheeks, reminding him of how pathetic he is. 

He doesn’t know how long he lays there, but at some point, he slips into sleep, and he dreams about Omi in fractured images of memory and fantasy and fears. 

Atsumu is woken up by a pounding on his door.

“Open up, Tsumu, or I’ll call the police, I swear to God!”

Atsumu blinks several times, trying to get his bearings, because that’s – that’s Samu at his door. Oh Christ. He remembers his promise now – if Atsumu doesn’t pick up the phone, Samu will kick his door down.

He fumbles blindly for his phone and squints at the screen – seventeen missed calls and more texts than he can count. The clock reads 2 AM.

Samu knocks harder, probably waking up every one of his neighbors. “ Tsumu !” 

There’s a high-pitched desperation in the way he shouts his name, and Atsumu swallows lead.

“I’m comin’,” he calls, but it’s too hoarse for Samu to possibly hear. He clears his throat and stumbles out of bed. “Just a sec.” 

He has to get himself together, because if Samu sees him like this, he’ll throw a fit, but he’s not given any time.

Now, Tsumu, or I’ll pick the damn lock!”

Damn it. Damn Suna for teaching them both to do that, one afternoon before practice. Atsumu scrambles, rubbing his eyes quickly and wraps himself in a robe. He shuffles over to the door and opens it, refusing to look his brother in the eye.

He doesn’t need to. He knows Samu came ready to raise hell, but he’s silent now. Atsumu stares at the floor, but hears the soft ‘oh’, a confirmation of Samu’s worries over the past few days coming to light. A tear drips down Atsumu’s nose.

“I’m sick, Samu,” he whispers. “I’m real sick.”

“Okay,” Samu says, and then Atsumu reverts back to pure instinct, letting himself collapse into his twin’s arms and, unable to hold it back in front of him anymore, he sobs into his shoulder.  

Chapter Text

As he so often does, Samu puts Atsumu back together. On their good days, their interactions are casual, if not brimming with insults and taunts, but there’s nothing but love past the surface, and both of them know when the other needs them. They poked and prodded and teased and laughed until there was a situation they couldn’t turn into a joke, like when Osamu fell out of that tree in their backyard and knocked all of the wind out of his lungs and shattered his leg; or the time Atsumu failed a math class and had to take summer classes, so he had to miss volleyball camp, and Samu tried to tease him until he saw the tears in his eyes. They tormented each other when they could, because what else are best friends and brothers for, but when it mattered, they fell into line. Atsumu soothed Samu through his first heartbreak, and now, years later, Samu is here to return the favor.

He doesn’t ask questions, he just leads Atsumu out of the foyer and into his bedroom, hands him clean pajamas to change into and then tucks him under three of his warmest wool blankets, because although it’s mid-Spring, Atsumu is shivering. 

Samu disappears into the kitchen and comes back a moment later with a glass of water and a warm towel, which he places gently on Atsumu’s forehead. He gives Atsumu the water and tells him to sip it slowly. Atsumu obeys without any complaint.

He knows he must be bad if Samu is being careful with him. He’s had the flu before, and Samu still put aggression into all of his care, practically slapping the towel on his head and pouring water down his throat. Now, he approaches Atsumu like he’s fragile, like he’s scared this may be the time he finally breaks.

It might be.

Samu is quiet while he tidies up Atsumu’s room – while Atsumu is a nervous talker, Samu prefers to stew in silence. It’s one of the more prominent differences between them, one of many that have shown themselves the older they get. Atsumu watches him work, picks up on the subtle expressions on his face as he gathers clothes off the floor, or examines the few wrappers from the meager snacks he’s been able to stomach strewn about. Atsumu’s practice schedule sits open on the floor, pages shuffled out of place, various articles on new plays crumpled and forgotten, and Samu neatens it and puts it back onto his desk.

Atsumu gets dizzy after a while, so he closes his eyes and settles for listening to Samu’s movements. The sounds soothe him, the sounds of another life in his apartment – it’s been so silent without Omi. Atsumu doesn’t move enough for two people; he can’t recreate it.

Despite the blankets, Atsumu is so cold. Omi used to complain when Atsumu tried to cuddle him in the mornings in the summer, when the sun slotting through the blinds warmed the bed to an uncomfortable level. He told Atsumu he was a lizard, and he should go find a rock to sun himself on rather than assaulting Omi with his sweaty torso. 

Atsumu had laughed then, and Omi had gotten used to Atsumu's tendency to run hot, eventually seeking him out in the colder months as his own personal sun. Omi runs cold, like a human icebox. He could put one hand on Atsumu’s bare skin, and he’d break into shivers. It was perfect though, because if Omi is an icebox, Atsumu is a space heater, so he would brave the cold to wrap himself around Omi and wrap him up in his arms and the warmest blanket they could find. In this scenario, Omi would have to be the one keeping Atsumu warm, enveloping him with his arms and burying them under the covers for just five more minutes.

Tears well up behind closed eyes again and he opens them long enough to squeeze them out. Atsumu’s lost count of how many times he’s cried at this point. He doesn’t know how he’s still managing to produce tears. They have to run out at some point, right? 

“Atsumu.”

It’s soft, soft enough that Atsumu almost missed it, but he sees Samu watching him from across the room, and the worry is still there, written all over his face, but there’s something else there too – hurt. Atsumu hurt his brother, and that’s nothing new, but he hates it more and more the older he gets. He should tell Samu that nothing is wrong, that he’s okay, and he’s sorry, but the words stick in his throat. He’s too weak to get to formulate even a simple sentence, and the thought crushes him even further.

Atsumu has never been weak. He’s prided himself on his strength since he was old enough to pick up a volleyball – intimidating, mesmerizing, powerful. Atsumu never tried to pretend he wasn’t emotional, but if he overshadowed it with his strength, then it wouldn’t matter. He’s never been knocked down this hard.

He almost wishes Samu would hit him, or at least yell at him. The disappointment, the tinge of sadness in his eyes – it’s so much worse. 

He remembers the last time he saw hurt like this on Samu’s face, years ago in their shared bedrooms, after Atsumu screamed at him until his throat was raw, calling him unforgivable names and making promises that he truly meant, no matter how cruel, and Samu just took it, for once not fighting back. 

Atsumu closes his eyes so more tears don’t fall, and then they’re too heavy to open again. Samu says nothing and Atsumu thinks he might fall asleep, he’s so tired, and sleep is so much easier than dealing with all of the horrible thoughts that swirl around his brain, rattling him. 

Sleep is good. Usually, his dreams are kinder than his reality.

“What’s happenin’ to ya, Tsumu?” He hears Samu mutter, like he’s talking to himself. “What’s got ya so sick?” 

Atsumu can’t answer him. He wants to, but his lips won’t move to say the words, to unload the burden, to finally tell the truth.

He feels a familiar heaviness in his chest, dragging him into darkness. Before everything goes black, he hears Samu whisper, “Why can’t ya tell me?”

 

-x-

 

Atsumu wakes up to a shocking amount of daylight and Samu in his face. All gentleness forgotten, he’s glaring at him with enough fury to burn a hole right where a fresh warm towel currently soaks into his skin. 

“Ya been in here starvin’ all weekend, Tsumu?” he snaps. “I just looked in yer fridge and ya’ve got nothin’ – let me see ya. Have ya lost weight?”

“Stoppit, Samu.” Atsumu swats at him. He’s a little less disoriented now, and his limbs don’t feel quite as much like lead, but he could sleep for at least two more hours. He has to give some kind of explanation to Samu, though, even if it’s not the truth. “I’ve been eatin’ takeout.” 

It isn’t like he’s been purposely not eating full meals. Everything has just been too difficult to do. Even getting up to go to the bathroom was a monumental task, and by the time he finished, he didn’t have the energy to walk to the fridge. He’s just been tired, and sad. Atsumu thought he knew sadness – tears after a game, silent bus rides home, a shared bedroom filled with impossible, painful tension, but this is a different level. It sits in his stomach like acid. It’s one of the parts of grief that nobody talks about, how your entire body starts to shut down, and starts by making it impossible to eat. 

“Yer a professional volleyball player, idiot, I don’t care how sick ya are, ya gotta feed yerself!” Samu throws his hands up in the air. “Next time, ya call me. Jesus Christ. Ya scared the shit out of me.”

“Don’t yell, I feel like shit,” Atsumu mumbles, because he does have a headache from hell. Everything is fuzzy around the edges.  

“Ya look like it too,” Samu says, crossing his arms, and Atsumu knows he owes him another apology. He clears his throat, trying to make his words come out steady.

“I’m sorry for makin’ ya worry, Samu,” he says, and because he feels like they’re not equal here, he pulls himself up into a sitting position, and bows his head for good measure. It’s enough to make him keel over and vomit, not that he has anything in his stomach to throw up. He grits his teeth. “I should’ve answered yer calls, but I wasn’t feelin’ up to talkin’.”

“I don’t give a shit if yer not up to talkin’,'' Samu spits. “Ya could’ve just sent me a text and said you were like this. Yer lucky ya have me and I can tell when ya need me,” he grumbles. “If ya weren’t born a twin, ya would probably be dead by now.”

“Probably,” Atsumu admits. Normally he would argue, but he’s not up for it right now. 

“Ya gotta eat somethin’. Take this – I bought it for the trip but ya stressed me out too much to want to eat it.” Samu holds out a protein bar, one of their favorites from their high school days, and shoves it into Atsumu’s hands. 

“That’s not somethin’ I hear often from ya. Ya can always eat,” Atsumu tries to tease, a peace offering, a piece of normalcy so his brother won’t dwell too much on this situation, but it doesn’t work. Samu glares at him harder. 

“I’ll go to the store – do I need to call someone to watch you while I’m gone?” 

Atsumu knows that is a very real threat – he’d probably go straight to Meian and it would be humiliating – or even worse, Coach Foster,

“No,” he says. “I’m not dyin’, Samu.”

“Seems like yer tryin’ to,” he retorts. When Atsumu doesn’t snap back, Samu sighs. “I’ll be back in an hour. Ya shouldn’t be layin’ in bed for too long, and ya need a shower.”

Atsumu nods, because he’s not that weak. He moves to lift himself out of bed, and his vision goes blurry and his heartbeat accelerates. He immediately falls back against the pillow, closing his eyes in agony. 

He can’t quite remember his last real meal, actually – it couldn’t have been two days ago?

“Fuckin’ – sit down and eat that. Ya were in here tryin’ to starve yourself to death. I can’t believe it.”

Atsumu does as he’s told, slowly peeling back the wrapper on the protein bar – his hands are shaking, and the whole two-second exchange makes him lose his breath. He really did mess himself up. He needs to fix this shit before he goes back to practice or he’s going to get kicked off the team.

Samu watches him with an unreadable expression – guarded, now.

“I’m going down the street to get somethin’ more sufficient for ya to eat and some groceries – go back to sleep and don’t do anythin’.”

“Stop fussin’. Yer so much like ma.” 

“Somebody obviously needs to fuss over ya,” Samu snaps back, fury coloring his cheeks a light pink. He glances over at Atsumu and must-see truly how pathetic he looks up close, because he softens, just a bit. He grabs Atsumu’s phone from the nightstand and presses it into his hand.

“Call me if ya need me. I’ll come right back.”

“I’m not gonna die while yer gone.” 

“How am I supposed to know that? I didn’t think ya’d get so damn close to it when I’m just a little while away. I’ll be back in an hour. Sleep.” 

Samu stares threateningly at the protein bar now in Atsumu’s hand, open but nowhere near his mouth. Samu waits until he physically sees him take a bite before he stomps out of the bedroom and shuts the door behind him, and a moment later, he’s out of the apartment. 

Now that Samu’s gone, and Atsumu is fully awake, the emptiness that has plagued his stomach for the past four days comes back to life, casting a heavy weight over Atsumu.

He tries to nibble at the protein bar, knows he’s hungry, but it feels terrible to eat. Atsumu chokes it down anyway, because Samu will probably tear the covers off the bed to check if he’s hiding it. 

He doesn’t know if it helps or not. Atsumu used to love these things, but he barely tastes it now. He wonders if he’s empty, if Omi took everything with him when he lost his memories. 

Atsumu has been trying to remain hopeful, but damn, it’s hard to hope when faced with reality staring him straight in the face. Repeating the facts has always helped keep him calm, but when the facts are so heart-crushingly bleak, Atsumu would rather ignore them. He can’t deny the fact that Omi wants nothing to do with him, though. He made that abundantly clear back in his hospital room, and Atsumu could argue that Omi is simply processing, and that he’ll come around to him eventually, but is that too hopeful? 

Atsumu knows one thing for sure – he absolutely can’t continue on like this. He has a life to get back to, and he’s already done enough damage with Samu – he won’t leave Atsumu alone for the next year, now. He has to do something, but what is he supposed to do? Move on? Try and forget Omi like he’s forgotten Atsumu? 

That’s just not at all realistic. 

He can at least take things a step at a time. He ate something, that’s step one, and step two is to check in with the real world. He promised Coach Foster he would check in occasionally, and so far he hasn’t even managed to send a single text.

He opens his phone – the battery is low, so he leans over and plugs it in, and then takes in all the messages he’s ignored over the past few days.

Samu’s eclipse almost everybody else’s, but there are others, too, from his mom and dad, several from Kita, each more admonishing than the last, and the ever-present, brand new Black Jackals group chat. Meian had made sure to create one without Omi, as soon as he got word of the accident, and they continue to use that one so as to not overwhelm him. Atsumu hates it, it’s too empty without Omi in it. The memes aren’t nearly as good.

Atsumu texts his parents back, letting them know that he’s okay and Samu came to visit, and that he’s sorry for worrying them. He’ll have to visit them soon, because if anyone is worse than Samu when it comes to babying him, it’s his mother. He texts Kita too, because Atsumu owes Kita too much to ever ignore him for long. 

He doesn’t read the group chat, or any of the messages from Samu. He doesn’t have the capacity for that right now.

What he does instead is navigate to his photo app, thinking that maybe there’s a possibility there was one Omi forgot to delete. All Atsumu needs is a piece of proof, but Omi was meticulous, and by extension, so was Atsumu. They barely texted, preferring to go the one floor distance to spend time in person, so any texts Atsumu does have are simple, not at all evidence of a relationship, and Omi deletes his texts at the end of each day because he hates the clutter. 

He doesn’t find anything he can use. The one thing Omi allowed him to have was his contact name, and that was only because Atsumu put his name into everyone’s phone with some variation of hearts and random emojis. Omi would be no exception. He typed Atsu into Omi’s phone, like a little inside joke – the team would never know that Omi called him that more than he ever called him Miya.   He added a rolling eye emoji at Omi’s insistence and a peach at his own, then one solitary red heart. Omi deemed it appropriate, and later, Atsumu caught him smiling down at his phone and when Atsumu asked what he was grinning at, he saw it – the contact name,  Atsu.

When Atsumu kissed him, Omi returned it with just as much enthusiasm. 

Atsumu looks down at his screen, at the Omi contact, complete with a heart in every color of the rainbow, and he wants to cry again. 

He exits out of the contact and gets ready to...do something, he’s not sure what yet. 

He could shower, at least. He could manage that on his own. 

His steps are shaky at first, since he hasn’t done a whole lot of moving in a lot of hours, but he’s able to hit his stride. He’s more clear-headed, Samu’s presence slapping him back to reality. He still feels like shit, but at least he can somewhat get himself together.

Atsumu is nearly to the bathroom when he hears his phone go off.

Except – this isn’t just any ringtone. That distinct, two-toned chime, Atsumu picked out so he would always know when to check his phone – that sound means Omi is texting him.

Atsumu practically trips over himself in his haste to get back to his bed. He leaps for it, picking it up with shaking hands. There’s one message, and clear as day, it says it’s from Omi.

Atsumu feels butterflies, real, crush-like butterflies and he’s a grown man, he’s better than this, but he can’t help it – a real smile cracks onto his face for the first time since everything happened.

Atsumu's eyes devour the text. It’s simple – a request, one that Omi clearly did not want to have to ask for, but there it is anyway.

Meian told me you lived in the same complex as me. How do I turn the heating on?

Atsumu reads the text three more times, hears the words in Omi’s inflection, probably dull and a little annoyed, when it came to an inconvenience such as this. It’s spring, but the cold still lingers and Omi is finicky about these things. 

Right now, he texts back rapid-fire, giving Omi all the details he needs to make sure his apartment is the perfect temperature for him, checking and triple checking his grammar and spelling and making sure his emoji usage isn’t too overwhelming. When he’s satisfied, he smashes the send button, and waits.

Atsumu stares at his phone for a full minute, then two, then three, and by three minutes and thirty seconds, he’s starting to lose his momentum. Omi is a notoriously fast texter, skinny fingers working at some kind of magical pace, so if he hasn’t texted back by now, it’s not likely – 

The two-toned chime interrupts his thoughts and Atsumu pulls his phone to his face so quickly it makes him dizzy. He reads the next text over four times.

I don’t see what you’re referring to. 

An idea forms in Atsumu’s head, an idea that could be great, or it could send him straight back into despondency. It’s risky, in Atsumu’s fragile state, but it’ll allow him to see Omi, and so he decides on executing it before he can really think it over at all. He’s frantic right now, his heart beating at a dangerous pace, and all that matters is keeping Omi’s attention. 

I’ll come show you.

He hits send and throws his phone away from him like it’s fire, afraid to see the response. Before he can regret it, he makes his way to the bathroom and throws his crumpled, three-day-old pajamas onto the floor.

The water from the shower feels good, and Atsumu knows he’s been disgusting, but he can’t enjoy this – he has minimal time before Samu comes back, and if Atsumu is gone, he won’t have to worry about Omi at all, because he’ll be dead. 

He makes record time, scrubbing the grime and despair off of himself in a flash of soaps and suds. He towels off his hair and looks in the mirror for the first time since he got home from the hospital.

Atsumu grimaces at himself – he’s a shameful mess. He’s got an uneven beard growing over blotchy cheeks; his eyes are rimmed with red and under them are prominent purple bags. It’s...probably the worst he’s ever looked, and he’s had some bad days. He doesn’t have time to pull off any miracles, but he slaps some moisturizer on, at least, and tugs Samu’s baseball cap over his disheveled hair. Sweats and a hoodie are going to have to do it, because Atsumu hasn’t done laundry since before he left for Samu’s, and that was a lifetime ago.

He decides this is as good as it gets, so he goes back to his bed where his phone sits and finds two text messages from Omi.

The first is a very simple: No thank you, I’ll figure it out.

The second is a reluctant: Fine, make it quick.

Atsumu practically sprints out of his apartment.

He’s running on pure adrenaline, and he’s going to crash hard after this, but he doesn’t care – he’ll gather together every ounce of remaining energy he has for Omi. He takes the stairs two at a time, and within minutes, he’s at Omi’s front door. A warmth seeps into his bones, breaking the chill that’s been clinging to him – he loves this damn door. Apartment 404, one floor above Atsumu’s, with its small chip in the paint right above the lock. He’s stood in front of this door more times than he can count, been pushed against it after late, drunken nights with the team, when they could barely hold themselves back until they got inside. He knocked so many times, day after day, until Omi threw a key at him one day, and then he didn’t have to anymore.

The key is on his lanyard at home, and so he starts over at square one – with two, quick knocks. 

Omi answers the door immediately. He’s bundled up in a blanket, mask on his face, glaring at Atsumu as if it’s his fault he can’t figure out his heating system. 

It’s a little nostalgic, this Omi. 

Atsumu greets him with a smile, to which Omi glares even harder, and remarks, “You look like you’re sick. You can’t come in here if you’re sick.”

“I’m not sick,” Atsumu argues. 

Omi looks at him with disdain, and Atsumu won’t ever get over how expressive Omi can be with his eyes – it was one of the first things that drew Atsumu to him, the way he could convey a spectrum of emotions, even behind a mask. He wanted to pull the mask down, and see what else he could find on Omi’s face. 

His eyes are just the tip of the iceberg. Atsumu has every one of Omi’s expressions memorized, the good and the bad. 

He tries not to stare, now. “I just couldn’t sleep last night, is all,” he grumbles. “Ya want my help or not?” 

Omi is still skeptical, but he lets Atsumu in any way, and he feels physical relief at being back in his apartment. 

Atsumu loves his own place, but they always ended up spending more time at Omi’s – it’s cleaner, it’s a little bigger, and he has a better TV. There’s the added bonus that Omi is here, and Atsumu feels like he’s home after a long trip. He sighs, feeling a little lovestruck. There are so many little things that Atsumu didn’t think about in his day-to-day life, and Omi’s apartment was one of them. 

“What?” Omi asks, dry. “What’s with the dopey look?”

Atsumu is caught off-guard – if he wasn’t so fucked up from the past few days, he would be handling this better, but it’s hard to act like he and Omi are just friendly teammates when he wants to drag him into the bedroom and cling to him like a koala, locking his arms and legs around him so he can’t leave again.

There are several reasons why that would be a terrible idea, so Atsumu decides against it. He allows himself one quick, calming breath, and then he turns on his patented Atsumu charm, just like he had done so many times when first trying to entice Omi into a friendship with him.

“Ya’ve got a nice place, Omi. Ya don’t let the team over much.” 

“That’s the first thing you’ve said that I believe,” Omi says, and Atsumu snorts. 

“Got no reason to lie to ya, Omi,” he promises, sticking his hands in his pockets. He’s not used to feeling awkward in Omi’s presence, or awkward in general. Atsumu is an extrovert, a complete natural at socialization, but now, as much as he tries to act normal, he just feels out of place.

It’s jarring, having to hold back from interacting with Omi like he usually does. Usually, when they’re talking, they’re touching, whether it’s Atsumu, lazily playing with Omi’s fingers, or Omi nuzzling his head into the crook of Atsumu’s neck. It was always hard, when they were around others, to not be so obvious, to not look like they were itching to touch each other. Atsumu kept his distance from Omi at practice, only daring to give high-fives after good plays, or shouting across the court, because he knew one day he may get too close, and he would just revert to muscle memory. 

Omi is surprisingly touchy. It was a great realization. 

“I remember high school clearly, Miya, and you’re exactly the type of person who would take advantage of someone losing their memories,” Omi sighs. “Show me how to turn the heat on.”

Atsumu frowns. “Ya know, high school was a long time ago – people do change.”

Omi doesn’t answer, just looks at him expectantly, and Atsumu walks over to the temperature control. He walks Omi through changing the filter and manually setting the heat on and how to turn it off, for when summer comes and Omi decides he’s warm enough on his own.

That’s an invasive, nasty thought – Omi, still missing his memories in the summer. Six to nine months – that’s the timeline he has. Or never.

He shakes the thought out of his head, a nervous tick.

“Are you a dog?” Omi raises an eyebrow at him in question.

Atsumu ignores him. It’s easier than trying to explain. “Ya need anythin’ else, Omi? Sakusa,” he adds, as a reflex, even though the name tastes like acid on his tongue. 

Sakusa sighs behind his mask, and there go his eyes again, displaying what Atsumu can’t see on his face. There’s a mixture – exhaustion, frustration, irritation. Atsumu isn’t sure if any are directly related to him. “No, you can go. Thanks,” he responds, and it looks as if it physically pains him to say it. 

Sudden panic strikes Atsumu – this is the most Omi has said to him since waking up, and it can’t end yet. Atsumu is desperate to keep the conversation going. He fidgets for a moment, then begins with, “Hey. Meian said yer comin’ back to practice – what made ya decide?” 

Omi doesn’t meet Atsumu’s eyes. “It’s not as if I really have a choice. I have no idea where else I would go, and I want to play professional volleyball. That’s why I tried out in the first place, so it makes the most sense.” 

“Yer really good,” Atsumu blurts, and then he feels his face heat up when Omi fixes him with a stony stare.

“I know,” he says, after a moment. “I didn’t forget that.” 

“Wait until ya hit one of my tosses.” Atsumu smiles, a cautious one, but then he grows more confident, because Omi hasn’t kicked him out yet, and he’s having an actual conversation with him. How far he has fallen, to be thrilled over having a simple back-and-forth with somebody who once knew every single piece of him. “I’m kinda jealous of ya – gettin’ to hit one for the first time. It’s gonna blow yer mind.”

“I’m sure.” Omi rolls his eyes, and there’s quiet for a moment. Atsumu knows he should leave, but Omi hasn’t repeated that he has to, so maybe – 

His phone rings in his pocket, shrill and demanding. Omi jumps a little, but quickly composes himself, and Atsumu smashes the silence button without even looking at it. Within two seconds, it’s ringing again.

“Jesus,” Atsumu grumbles, glaring at the screen. It’s Samu – oh God. He’s going to get his ass beat into the next century, all pity and fear forgotten. 

“Is that your girlfriend or something?” Omi asks, casual, disinterested and a little annoyed. Atsumu’s heart races anyway.

“No,” he splutters. “No, I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“That makes sense,” Omi notes, and Atsumu’s face heats up. Oh, the things he could tell this Omi – the stories he could tell him of everything they’ve done together, of all the times Atsumu has made Omi weak in the knees, of all the times he’s kissed him into submission. This Omi thinks he’s being clever, insinuating that Atsumu is undesirable, but he has no idea.

Atsumu doesn’t tell him. Omi won’t believe him.

“It’s just Samu – my brother.” 

“I remember him. He’s better at volleyball than you.”

Hey, that ain’t true at all, and he quit, for yer information!” Atsumu snaps. Damn this Omi and his capability to come up with fresh, hurtful insults. Omi never stopped insulting Atsumu, even when they got together, but they never hurt. They were just teases, disguised as something else, reasons for Omi to kiss Atsumu in apology later on.

“That’s a shame,” comments Omi. “He had real potential.”

“Ah, just wait until yer back on the court,” Atsumu threatens, “I’ll make ya eat yer words.”

Omi hums, then nods to Atsumu’s phone, which, though effectively silenced, is still lighting up in his pocket. “Get out of my apartment now,” he decides, and Atsumu’s time is officially up – back to reality. “And answer your brother’s calls. It’s obviously important.”

“Right – uh, see ya at practice, then?” he asks, hopeful. 

“Mmm.” 

Well, it’s better than what he expected – it’s way better than the Omi from two days ago, breaking his heart in two with his words without even needing to lift a finger from his hospital bed. Atsumu will take any improvement from that.

In fact, he’s feeling better than he’s felt in days. 

He leaves, shutting the door quietly behind him – Omi hates when it slams, and glances down at his phone. In all of five minutes, he’s missed six calls from Samu.

Fuck. He probably shouldn’t go back to his apartment – he should probably flee Osaka, take the soonest train anywhere away from here, but his adrenaline is fading, and his exhaustion and hunger is catching up with him. He just needs to bite the bullet. At least Samu will have brought food, and finally, he’ll be able to eat it.

He opens his own door slowly, creeping in like Samu somehow won’t hear him.

“What the fuck, Tsumu?” 

Atsumu cringes. Samu is right in front of the door, waiting to ambush him. Usually, Atsumu has a retort at the ready, something sharp to smack Samu back with, but he knows he’s not going to be able to perform to his usual standards, and honestly – he gets it. He didn’t mean to worry Samu further, but what was he supposed to do –  not go to Omi? 

“I jus’ had to help a neighbor with somethin’!” Atsumu does his best to defend himself. “I wasn’t gone long – yer back earlier than ya said ya’d be!”

“Because I’m worried about ya!” Samu shouts him down, absolutely seething in a way that Atsumu hasn’t seen in a long, long time. “I rushed my shoppin’ ‘cause I couldn’t stop thinkin’ that you were gonna hurt yerself somehow!”

“I’m not gonna hurt myself,” Atsumu snaps, and he shoves past Samu, annoyed now – because sure, he’d had a rough few days, and skipped a few meals, but he wasn’t going to, just, give up on living or anything. He just needed to process it all, and he’s feeling a lot better now. “Stop treatin’ me like a fuckin’ baby, Samu, it’s annoyin’.”

Samu looks like he’s using all of his willpower to refrain from punching Atsumu square in the face. 

“Yer an insufferable asshole, Tsumu,” Samu spits. “Do ya not give a shit about anyone but yerself?”

“Why are ya yellin’ at me for being sick – ”

“I’m yellin’ at ya because you don’t get it!” Samu explodes now, and Atsumu knows a fissure has erupted in their relationship, one that will take difficulty and time to fix, just like the one before it, the one they both promised would be the last, but Samu is furious now. He grabs the back of Atsumu’s shirt and turns him around so they’re face-to-face “Jus’ before I left, ya looked like ya were a few hours away from needin’ to be fuckin’ hospitalized. That’s what I walked in on, after I didn’t hear from ya for days. Days. Normally yer blowin’ my phone up every hour!” 

Atsumu is used to Samu’s anger – he’s always mad. People always call him the nicer twin, but he’s got a mean streak and eventually, something or another will always piss him off. This is just one more way that Atsumu and Samu differ, though – Atsumu is the type to get mad, to throw things, to scream, whereas Samu simmers in silent fury, listening and calculating the best ways to hurt. It takes a lot for Atsumu to get Samu to this level – where he loses control of what he’s saying. 

He’s there now. Atsumu can tell by the desperate, panicked look in his eye that he hasn’t been able to make go away. Samu sees that Atsumu sees it, and he shoves him away. 

“Ya have no idea, do ya, Tsumu?” he demands, and the words grow in volume and in impact, slapping Atsumu in the face. “Ya don’t get it – if somethin’ happens to ya, I’ve got nothin’. It’s a goddamn unfortunate truth, but I can’t do anythin’ about it, so forgive me for bein’ fuckin’ worried about ya when ya hole yerself up in yer room for days, not eatin’, not takin’ care of yerself, and ignorin’ everyone who cares about ya.”

Samu shakes his head, a strange combination of disgust and desperation mixed on his face, and Atsumu knows that’s just how Samu feels about him – forced to care, even when Atsumu makes it impossible.

The yelling stops there, and Samu reverts back into that stifling silence. The one thing about Samu when he gets like this, is that he burns out quickly. He says what he needs to say, and then deflates, and it always makes Atsumu feel so much worse than if he would’ve just kept beating him down. Shame washes over him – he hates when Samu gets him like this. He and Omi are the only two in the world who can make him feel pure shame. 

Samu leaves Atsumu behind, slumping into the kitchen to shuffle around the groceries he bought for Atsumu. Samu works to unload the bags in silence, and Atsumu groans out loud.

“It was an emergency, Samu, helpin’ my neighbor,” he promises. “I’m sorry I worried ya.” He lingers by the counter, snooping in the bags, and Samu lets out a hefty, exhausted sigh.

“Are ya finally hungry? I brought ya...everythin’ I could get my hands on, I dunno. Pick somethin’ out and I’ll make it for ya.”

“Ya got the stuff for donburi?” he inquires, hopefully. Hunger hit him like a truck the moment he entered Omi’s apartment, like he was entering some sort of domain that blocked out the anxiety. It seemed to follow him out, though, because Atsumu feels more energetic than he has in days.

“Yup,” Samu confirms, and he begins to prep. “Eat somethin’ while ya wait.” 

They don’t talk for a long time, and Atsumu is getting uncomfortable with the silence. He doesn’t mind them in general, with Samu, but this one is charged with tension, and Atsumu can’t handle it. He stops snacking, and looks towards his brother.

“Samu – ”

“Are ya gonna tell me?” Samu interrupts him, pausing in his preparation to fix Atsumu with a searing look. “What’s got ya like this – are ya gonna tell me?”

Atsumu blinks once. “I just overworked myself and got sick. Nothin’ – nothin’ has me like anything.”

“Ya know I wouldn’t judge ya?” Samu continues, as earnest as Atsumu’s ever seen him, phrased almost like a plea to Atsumu – I wouldn’t judge you, so trust me.

Atsumu can’t.

“Is this about Sakusa?”

Atsumu freezes. “Why would it have anythin’ to do with Omi?”

“I dunno, Tsumu,” Samu drawls sarcastically. “Yer teammate gets into an accident and suddenly ya forget how to live yer life. Seems pretty connected to me.”

“I told ya, Samu, if ya listened to me – sure, it’s got somethin’ to do with Omi, I guess, because of the extra stress, but I’m sick. That’s all it is.”

“We don’t lie to each other,” Samu reminds him. “I’ve never once lied to ya.”

“That’s a lie in and of itself,” Atsumu accuses. “Ya used to steal my stuff and pretend ya didn’t.”

Samu gives him a dry look. “That’s not the same as lyin’ about somethin’ like this, Tsumu. This isn’t a little white lie – this is somethin’ that’s got ya in a terrible state, and if ya don’t tell me what it is, I can’t help ya.”

Atsumu swallows. “I’m not lyin’ to ya. I’ve just got the flu.”

“We used to get the flu every other year when we were kids,” Samu reminisces lightly, looking off into the distance. Atsumu thinks it’s so he doesn’t have to look at him. “‘Cause ya were so damn gross and put yer mouth on everythin’. You were the biggest baby about it, but I remember yer symptoms, ‘cause ya never shut up about them. They were different from these.”

“Pretty sure the way ya get sick changes when ya get older, Samu,” Atsumu tries to keep his voice steady, but Samu sees right through him, and he knows it.

“Is that so?” he murmurs. “Alright, then.”

Samu finishes their meal and watches Atsumu eat like he’s not sure he actually will, but Atsumu does. He practically inhales it, only slowing down when Samu yells at him to, claiming that he’s leaving if he starts puking. After eating, Atsumu feels human again, though he might still be riding his high from talking to Omi. 

“Are ya stayin’?” Atsumu asks.

“Can’t,” Samu states, and there’s something missing from his voice – it’s not cold, but it’s flat, defeated. “I think ya can handle yerself now, yeah? Whatever was plaguin’ ya seems to be gone, some kinda miracle.” 

Guilt gnaws at Atsumu and he thinks again about how easy it would be to tell Samu everything – it would resolve so much, and Atsumu would no longer be the only one in the world to know that he and Omi ever existed together at all. He could beg Samu to stay, right now, and spend the night pouring his heart out. It would be therapeutic; it’s exactly what he needs, and he doesn’t doubt for a moment that Samu would believe him. 

Talking to Samu is always the easiest thing in the world. They’re always in sync, always on the same page, but right now, there’s a rift that Atsumu caused, and all he needs to do to mend it is tell the truth. 

But something stops him – a stab of fear to his chest, that telling Samu will jinx him somehow, as if breaking Omi’s trust will take him away forever. What if he tells Samu, and then Omi never gets his memories back? He’ll have to live the rest of his life pitied, and Atsumu hates being pitied by Samu more than anything. 

Samu looks at him carefully, waiting. Atsumu huffs out a breath.

“Alright. Will ya call me when ya get home?” he asks, and disappointment flashes briefly in Samu’s eyes.

“Will ya answer?” Samu wonders.

“I’m sorry, Samu. I am,” Atsumu pleads, and it’s the truth. He’s more sorry than Samu will ever know. 

Samu softens, just a little, and plucks the hat Atsumu is wearing off his head. “Stop stealin’ my shit.”

“Maybe if ya gave yer own family merch to wear, I wouldn’t have to steal yers.”

Samu hums, and then he brings Atsumu in for a bone-crushing hug. “Ya can always talk to me, Tsumu, alright?” he whispers. “You don’t have to shut me out.” 

Atsumu buries his head in his twin’s shoulder. “Yeah, I know, Samu. Don’t ya worry about me.” 

Chapter Text

It’s always a little rough when he and Samu say goodbye. They’ve been apart for nearly five years now, but when you spend the entire first half of your life with someone, especially someone you shared a womb with, it’s hard to separate, no matter how long it’s been. 

It’s even harder when Atsumu knows he’s sending Samu away without having really fixed anything. Atsumu feels better, physically, but there’s now new anxiety stirring in his gut, the fact that he is actively lying to Samu.

Lying by omission is one thing – Atsumu rarely felt guilt for not telling his brother about his relationship with Omi; it was more like disappointment. He didn’t have anyone to talk about Omi with, to describe each and every adorable quirk he had, or to complain about some of his more polarizing habits. Samu would’ve hated that, but Atsumu is sure he would’ve gotten used to it eventually. Atsumu never let it slip and that was just fine with him. 

Last night, though, Atsumu lied straight to Samu’s face. Repeatedly.

It feels gross. 

He does think he managed to ease some of his worries – Samu at least knows Atsumu will eat now, and Atsumu sends him money for the groceries he bought, but there’s an undeniable rift that has risen between them. Samu doesn’t call him when he gets home, but sends a brief text to let Atsumu know when his train arrived. 

Atsumu promises himself that one day, when this is all over, when he gets Omi back, he’ll tell Samu everything. He knows Omi will be okay with it – after surviving something like this, maybe Omi will let him tell everyone. Samu will forgive him too, once he knows the whole story. 

After Samu leaves, Atsumu does pull himself together. He owes most of that to Samu, and a lot to Omi, even if he has no idea what he did.

A simple conversation, just twenty minutes spent in a familiar place, altered Atsumu’s mood so dramatically it should be concerning, but Atsumu can’t waste time worrying about himself. He needs to see Omi again, has to find some kind of excuse to get back to his apartment. 

Atsumu has to persist, because if he slows down, Omi may never remember him. 

There have to be other things in the apartment that would cause Omi difficulty – he’s so fussy about things like that, preferring to complain about problems until they vanished into thin air (or, Atsumu finally broke and took care of it).

Their complex is old and kind of questionable, because professional volleyballs don’t make as much money as people may think they do, and living in the middle of the city drains Atsumu’s wallet. He was shocked Omi even looked at this apartment, but determined to make it on his own, he settled down to rough it.

Atsumu will have to add that to one of his videos for Omi – how absolutely terrible he was at living alone at first. Atsumu had no idea that when he asked to stay the night at Omi’s after one of their hookups that Omi would absolutely latch onto the idea, and one night turned into four or five a week. 

Atsumu never once complained. He told Omi he liked his bed better, anyway.

Maybe Atsumu will get lucky, and Omi’s water will go out, or his key will get stuck in the door. Atsumu has a spare, and he could explain to Omi that it was for emergencies. It would convince him that they were friends, at least.

Atsumu lays in bed and prays to the gods for inconvenience to strike Omi’s apartment.

It doesn’t happen, at least in the next day. Atsumu sits by his phone for a few hours, making the excuse that he’s still regaining his strength and pretending that he’s not waiting around for Omi to need him like some useless, thrown-out tool. 

After an unhealthy amount of time spent waiting, Atsumu gets up and focuses on cleaning up his life. Samu started a lot of the work for him by organizing his room and providing him with groceries, but Atsumu still has a lot to do to get ready to show his face at practice again.

 He starts with an actual shower, taking his time and using all of the fancy body washes he had. Most of them were gifted from Omi. Atsumu doesn’t know what’s worse – purging his apartment from anything that may remind him of Omi, or doubling down, so no memories have a chance of dying.

He wonders if there are any pieces of him at Omi’s apartment, ones that he would recognize. Atsumu’s presence is everywhere, but Omi won’t know it; he won’t recognize the place mats as a homemade gift from Atsumu’s hometown, specifically made to match Omi’s style of decor. He won’t realize that his fancy, cordless vacuum is a product of hours of debate over web links and online reviews, and that ultimately Atsumu won the battle. When he saw Omi clean with it the first time, a look of pure serenity on his face, Atsumu had considered rubbing it in, but he chose to just watch him in content.  

Atsumu kept his own shampoo at Omi’s, the special kind, for dyed hair, but it had run out a few days before the accident. Atsumu had been planning to pick up a bottle on his way home from Samu’s. 

It’s almost as if the universe is against him. 

Atsumu reminds himself not to fall back into that dark pit, if not for him, then for Samu and for Omi, who if he had his memories, would be absolutely furious at Atsumu for how he’s been behaving. 

After an eternity under the hot spray, Atsumu gets out of the shower and begins the journey of fixing his appearance, going from ‘man found on a deserted island’ to ‘adult with hygiene standards’. 

He meal preps for the remainder of the week, snacking in-between, and sends Samu pictures for proof, along with another hurried ‘thank you’ for the groceries.

Normally, he would call him to insult his cooking, or the lack of creativity in his prepping, but Samu sends him a thumbs-up emoji in response.

Atsumu adds it to his list of things not to dwell on. 

After he’s taken care of all immediate priorities, he calls his parents. His mom berates him, in that soft way of hers, words intended to be sharp but coming out with more worry than irritation. Samu’s always been more like their mom, while Atsumu takes after his dad. They used to joke that each parent got their own kid, but Atsumu will be the first to admit he’s a bigger mama’s boy than most. He feeds her the same lies he fed Samu, and just like Samu, she’s skeptical, but ultimately lets it go. He promises he’ll be in top shape for their first game, which his whole family will be watching.

Samu’s words ring in his ears – ‘not taking care of yourself’ and ‘ignoring everyone who cares about you’. 

He sets a calendar reminder to call his parents more.

Throughout the day, he’s able to keep just busy enough to keep intrusive thoughts at bay and as he winds down, he uses his remaining energy to make more videos for Omi, retelling tales from their awkward stage, where Omi didn’t really like him at all. He keeps these stories shorter, since it was just a lot of both of them wasting their time being snappy with each other. As much as Atsumu wanted to latch onto Omi from the moment he met him, Omi was still his natural foil, and they clashed over and over again before they fell into a rhythm. 

As he’s telling his third story of the night, an unfortunate incident where Atsumu served a ball into Omi’s face, he begins to notice a pattern. They’re stories of bickering, shouting and acts of passive-aggressive terrorism, but Atsumu laughs through them all, and he remembers that he laughed, then, too and he hadn’t cared how irritating he found Omi in that moment, he still wanted to find excuses to talk to him. He’s not sure how the team could think they hated each other, when Atsumu isn’t sure he’s ever done less than love Omi a day in his life.

It’s interesting what he realizes in hindsight – interesting, and heartbreaking.

Atsumu goes back to practice three days after that visit to Omi in the hospital. It’s hard to believe how long days can drag; it feels like he’s been out for a month, but when he walks back into the gym, the only concern he’s shown is for his supposed flu. Shoyo forces him to crouch down so he can feel his forehead, Tomas makes sure he has boxes of tissues at the ready, and Coach Foster makes him promise not to go all out. 

Atsumu does anyway. It’s all he knows how to do. 

It’s definitely too much – at the end of practice, he’s drenched in sweat and about ready to die, but he gives a shaky thumbs up when Meian demands to know if he’s alright, and he waves away Inunaki’s taunts about his durability. He makes it, and that’s what matters, and the next practice after that, he’s a little bit stronger.

Nobody talks about the empty spot on the court where Omi should be. They go on as normal throughout the week, but Atsumu thinks about it every minute.

The emptiness that Omi leaves is not just felt in practice. 

Atsumu has never been a person who likes to simply relax by himself. He gets antsy when he’s not being stimulated by something, whether that something be four straight hours of volleyball practice, an all-day hike, or just watching ten-second videos until he passes out. If he’s taking it easy, it’s usually because he’s being forced by Omi, and that’s fine by Atsumu, because just being near him is invigorating enough for Atsumu’s brain, although he does struggle to keep his hands still when they’re doing nothing but lazing around.

Atsumu doesn’t have that anymore, and he’s having a hard time adjusting to the bareness that has been draped over his life.

In high school, Atsumu didn’t have any time to worry about being alone. Samu woke him up every morning by shaking their bunk bed and letting his alarm blare, just because Atsumu had a slight tendency to sometimes oversleep. The last time it happened, Samu left Atsumu behind and Atsumu wailed at him for fifteen minutes on the phone while he hopped into his school uniform and scrambled for his shoes. Samu told him if Atsumu didn’t stop whining, he’d never let him sleep in ever again in his life. Atsumu didn’t stop whining, and Samu kept his promise.

They spent all day together, with different strings of people coming and going – girls who wanted to fawn over them, their teammates, friendly classmates. Atsumu basked in attention all day, and then dove straight into practice. When they got home, he and Samu played video games in their room, or argued over who had to do the math homework that night, or watched recorded volleyball games that they missed while they were in school. 

Atsumu hardly had a minute to breathe in general, much less alone, and he liked it that way. 

Atsumu spends his adult life trying to maintain that same level of comfortable chaos, but he could never quite match it. It was the being alone that he could never quite get used to. He wasn’t used to sleeping in a room where he couldn’t hear somebody else’s breathing, or not having to fight for the bathroom, or just having someone whose name he could hiss when he couldn’t sleep. He called Samu three times a day when he first moved out on his own, but it was no substitute for him being there, his built-in best friend at his side.

Atsumu made up for the loneliness by making sure he was at home the absolute bare minimum. He stayed after practice, setting until his fingers grew too tired; he went with Bokun and Shoyo to restaurants and food trucks; he spent every weekend dragging his teammates from bar to bar.

He often got drunk enough to lose inhibitions and flirt with a stranger he plucked from the crowd. Sometimes he brought them home. Usually he didn’t. 

Atsumu hated being alone, but when it came to having someone in his space, he was picky, so he stuck to fleeting kisses in back alleys or in dingy bathrooms. In the back of his head, Atsumu knew he was just going through the motions to avoid the loneliness that came with nights in. There was no real passion behind his actions, but it was enough, until the next weekend. 

When Omi joined the team, things changed.

Atsumu never thought he’d see the day where Omi would actually join them on their outings. Atsumu asked him so many times that he started hearing the curt ‘no’ before Omi even got a chance to say it, but then, one night, he was there.

Atsumu remembers that night clearly, because it marked a new phase of his life – after Omi. 

“Omi, do ya remember the first night ya came out with us?” Atsumu asks his camera now. He’s lonely in the present, remembering the warm feelings of his past, but recording these videos gives him just enough peace to fall asleep. They grow in number every day – Atsumu’s phone is already filled with them. Even though it’s not the same as talking to Omi, his brain accepts the placebo and so he records one every day. He’s still barely scratched the surface. Every time he finishes a video, his fingers twitch, and the call of the void tells him to send it to Omi with zero context, but then his rational side kicks in and he decides against it.

He does wish he had a reason to see him, though. He’s still recovering, Atsumu knows, and though they had ended their last visit on a more positive note than their first, he doesn’t want to push him. It's torture like Atsumu has never experienced, spending this much time away from Omi, but for him, he can do it. 

He misses him extra tonight, though, recalling when his ‘After Omi’ phase began. 

“You were so uncomfortable,” Atsumu sighs. “Shoyo was bouncin’ all around ya – he’s a menace when he’s drunk, Omi, I feel bad that ya gotta relearn that – and you were sippin’ yer drink real slow. I dunno, ya just had anxiety radiatin’ off of ya, so I figured I should save ya. I was pretty drunk and couldn’t figure out a way to get Shoyo away from ya, so I just...threw my drink on the ground.” His phone is against the dresser tonight, so he’s free to bury his face in his hands. “It was so embarrassin’ , but I guess my line of thinkin’ was that if I could make a fool out of myself, it would take some of the pressure off of ya. It worked. Ya laughed at me, and Shoyo came over to make sure I was alright.” 

With Omi now in attendance, Atsumu found himself more drawn to the team’s table, when usually he would’ve wandered off much earlier to find a stranger to whisper sweet things to. He drank a little less, doing careful and inconspicuous recon on Omi.

He told himself that it was because he cared about his teammates, and he worried about someone like Omi in an environment like this – it would mess up their energy if Omi felt pressured, or uncomfortable, or associated any negative feelings with anyone on the team, so Atsumu guarded him.

It was casual, almost unconscious, and then it had been three weeks and Atsumu hadn’t talked to a single stranger at any of the number of bars they had been to.

“Sometimes, we’d end up sittin’ together, the only ones at the table. The first few times, you ignored me – typical, but then eventually, we started havin’ conversations.”

Atsumu hums, remembering the first time Atsumu got Omi to successfully respond to him. They were sitting in a booth, drinking quietly, and observing the rest of their team. 

It was a rare night where everybody was out, including Barnes, who usually hung back from outings with the kids. They were at one of the ritzier bars in the area, one where dignified professional volleyball players should hang out, but nobody’s behavior was dignified that night.

Atsumu got a front-row seat to the disaster that was and is Shoyo Hinata. Atsumu knew from many long nights that Shoyo was simply too little to contain as much alcohol as he consumed, but he was in rare form that night. They’d won an earlier game, and Shoyo insisted that everybody take an entry shot before they were allowed to go on the dance floor. After checking and double-checking that every shot had been downed, Shoyo then proceeded to order three more for just himself.

“Oh, he’s self-destructive,” Omi said from his corner of the booth. His mask was pulled down to his chin as he sipped his drink, and Atsumu tried not to stare, but it was harder these days, not to observe. 

“Bokun usually reigns him in, but he’s a lil’ occupied tonight, it seems.” Atsumu rolled his eyes over to where Bokun was pressed against a certain dark-haired man – Akaashi, who had shown up at nearly all of their games since Bokun joined. “We might need to intervene.”

“I’m certainly not doing anything.” Omi scrunched up his nose. “He should know better.”

“He should,” Atsumu agrees. “Tequila knocks him on his ass. Though, it knocks everyone on their asses.”

“Not me.” Omi had sounded so confident, so unbearably cocky that Atsumu was challenging him before he could think against it, and amazingly, miraculously, Omi accepted. The stakes were high – if Omi couldn’t take the shot without flinching, he would have to take another, but if he could, Atsumu would have to take two more. They were actually playing a drinking game – Atsumu and Omi . Atsumu felt a small flutter in his stomach, then, something like butterflies, but he pretended it was simply adrenaline. He was too enthusiastic at the prospect of beating Omi to worry about it, and he couldn’t remember the last time he had this much fun on a night out. 

He lost, spectacularly. Omi threw back the tequila shot with all the grace of a professional poker player, not even twitching. He even inspected the shot glass afterwards, knowing how smug he looked.

Atsumu had a nasty hangover the next day at practice. Omi smirked at him.

“Ya really had me under yer spell much longer than either of us knew,” Atsumu says now, scratching his face. “Ya were always doin’ little things to mesmerize me. Once ya kissed me, I had a flashback to all the times in the past I shoulda kissed ya first.” 

Atsumu smiles at the camera. “Ah, but that’s a story for another video.”

 

-x-

 

After nearly two weeks, Omi shows up at practice. 

Nobody warned him, so Atsumu chokes on his water when he sees him walk in. He’s in casual clothes, mask on and hair pushed out of his face – it’s a look that Atsumu has seen a million times, but it disarms him. 

“You okay, Atsumu?” asks Barnes, concerned, and Atsumu waves him away, red-faced and sputtering. Omi walks up to Coach Foster and greets him warmly. Coach Foster claps him on the back and Omi shrinks away a little – to be expected. Coach Foster is practically their adoptive father, and Omi hero-worships him now, but this Omi doesn’t know that. 

Omi doesn’t greet any of them, but simply sits on the bench next to Coach Foster. As the whistle is blown and everyone jumps into position, Omi observes. 

Atsumu can’t get into the drills. He’s constantly distracted, sneaking looks at Omi whenever he has a brief moment, showing all of his restraint by not all-out gawking. Inunaki throws a volleyball at the back of his head at one point and tells him to get his shit together. Meian asks him if he has the flu again. Atsumu blames it on allergies, and gets himself back into gear. 

At the end of practice, Coach Foster gathers them in a circle. Omi is at his side.

“So, this is a little unprecedented,” Coach begins, and he scratches his chin. “You all know Kiyoomi, but I wanted to reintroduce those of you who he hasn’t gotten the chance to meet yet. Kiyoomi, I believe you know the triplets – Atsumu, Koutaro and Shoyo, and you’ve met Shugo. This is Shion, Adriah and Oliver.” 

Omi bows to them all. “I’m pleased to meet you. I promise I’ll be up to speed shortly, and be a productive member of this team.”

Silence follows his statement, thick, like a bubble about to burst, and then Shoyo breaks it with a poorly-contained giggle. 

Omi raises an eyebrow at him, which causes Inunaki to shatter his own self-control, and he bursts into hysterics.

“You two,” Meian sighs. Coach frowns at them, but Atsumu gets it – there’s a smile tugging at his lips too, though he can’t let Omi see lest he thinks he’s laughing at him. He wouldn’t dare – not until this Omi is fond enough of him to allow it.

“Sorry, Sakusa, it’s just been awhile since we’ve heard this version of you,” Inunaki explains, still smirking. “It’s surprising.”

“Nostalgic,” Barnes adds and Meian shoots him a severe glare.

“What do you mean?” Omi is classically flustered – face dusted with a light pink and eyes just a smidge wider. He looks like a renaissance painting, something that belongs in a museum, and Atsumu loves him like this, usually. 

Not now, though. Now, alarm bells ring in his head as he represses the urge to throw himself in front of Omi and demand nobody else speak to him until he gets his memories back.

He clenches his fists in his pocket to help him stay still.

“Ah, well, you’re just not this polite, Omi!” Bokun booms cheerfully, like this is a compliment that Omi should appreciate. “You used to be in the beginning, but it didn’t last long.”

“Maybe five minutes,” Inunaki snickers.

“Hmm.” Omi is frowning now. Atsumu can see the folds of his mask crinkle to reveal it, and he needs to wipe it away immediately, but the words he wants to say stick in his throat.

“We love it though!” Shoyo interjects and Atsumu deflates. “The blunt attitude really helps with tough love! Bokun and I respond really well to that! Besides, it’s just ‘cause you’re comfortable around us, Omi.”

“I see.”

“You’ll get back to it, I’m sure,” Meian says. He tries for a kind smile, but Atsumu thinks it looks sad. 

“I’m sure,” Omi agrees, words lacking inflection. “I will do my best.”

“Kiyoomi is going to start practicing with us next week,” Coach picks up where he left off. “We need to make sure he’s in shape for our game against the Adlers, but I trust that he will work hard and you will all support him.”

He claps Omi on the shoulder once more and Atsumu sees in high-definition the discomfort in Omi’s eyes. Atsumu bites back his protective side, raging fiercely inside of him. All it takes is one look from Omi and Atsumu will swoop into action – he’d shroud him in his arms, away from all this awkward tension that suffocates them all. He could do that, shield him from it all, but this Omi would hate that even more. 

Omi leaves after that. He glances at Atsumu once, but he says nothing, and Atsumu isn’t convinced he didn’t imagine it. 

As soon as he and Coach Foster are out of earshot, Meian smacks both Inunaki and Shoyo.

“You made him so uncomfortable!” he admonishes them.

“Poor kid.” Barnes shakes his head. “I can’t imagine how strange this must feel to him.” 

“Exactly, don’t make it worse,” Meian threatens. “You two know better.” 

Inunaki sighs, raising his hands in surrender. “It was just so funny,” he says. “Do you remember when he was actually like that? All meek and polite?”

Bokun nods vigorously. “He was so nice to everyone! Except Atsumu.”

Atsumu grits his teeth into what he hopes is an unbothered smile. “Ah, well, we knew each other from the past. Didn’t need any formalities.” 

“I miss the days,” Inunaki says dreamily. “When he still respected me as his senior. He’s so bitchy now. Maybe we should enjoy this while it lasts.”

Meian gives him a withering look. Atsumu bites his tongue. He often wants to punch Inunaki, in a fond way, but right now it’s backed by malice. They’re treating it like a joke, like two lives haven’t been thrown entirely off-course by this. Omi is stressed, and uncomfortable, and forcing himself to do things that mimic the normalcy of a life that he has never known. They should show a little more sympathy.

“Don’t overwhelm him any more than you already have,” Meian reiterates.

“Ah, you tell us that every day,” Inunaki says. “It’s like you think we’re overwhelming.”

“Enough out of you.” Meian smacks him upside the head again. Atsumu keeps quiet, still going up and down on a rollercoaster of barely held back emotions. He’s coming down from the adrenaline high of seeing Omi again, all warm and fuzzy feelings replaced with iron-clad irritation and worry. He wants to leave already, but they have to hear the final word from Coach Foster, and the last thing Atsumu needs to do is bring more attention to himself.

“I can’t wait to teach him everything again,” Shoyo marvels. “It’ll be like having a student!”

“Omi is older than you, Shoyo, that’s not how it works,” Bokun argues. “ I can teach him.”

“He didn’t forget how to play,” Atsumu grumbles without thinking. “He’s still gonna beat the pants off ya in serving, Bokun.”

Everyone blinks at him, and Atsumu realizes that was probably too much. It was definitely too much, because now Inunaki is giving him one of his trademark feral grins, the one that comes right before he taunts Atsumu within an inch of his life.

“When did you become the Sakusa protection squad, Miya?” 

Atsumu grits his teeth. He doesn’t want a standoff with Inunaki, because he’s ruthless, just like every other damn libero he knows – it’s like they’re trying to shove as much sass as they can possibly fit into their small bodies; it’s scary.

Atsumu shrugs, keeping his cool. “Somebody’s gotta do it, I guess.” 

Meian ends the conversation with a pointed look at Inunaki, and then they wait in relative silence until Coach Foster comes back to go over their upcoming schedule and dismisses them.

Atsumu slugs off to the locker room, ready to go through his post-practice routine. He adopted it from Omi – a meticulous, time-consuming ordeal that included thoroughly scrubbing himself so that Omi would put his mouth all over him. He didn’t need it now, but old habits die hard. 

He knows it’s going to be a rough night, so he drags his feet, thinking about calling Samu and asking if he wants to open up a business in Osaka so that he can get a part-time job to avoid being home alone anymore. He’s the last out of the locker room, leaving only Coach Foster, looking at his phone right outside of the doors.

“Ah, Atsumu!” he exclaims. “I was waiting for you.”

“Yessir?” Atsumu can’t think of anything he could’ve done at practice to get himself in serious trouble – not the kind that would earn him a one-on-one talking to. He wasn’t that distracted during their drills.

“You live in Kiyoomi’s apartment complex, right?”

Atsumu nods slowly, and then his gaze locks in on a manilla folder in Coach’s hand.

“I forgot to give him these forms when he was here earlier. He needs to fill them out before actively participating in practice. Could you bring them by?”

Atsumu takes the folder and stares at it with wonder, feeling like he’s been given a Christmas present. He nods like an overjoyed child and nearly starts bouncing up and down. This must be how Shoyo feels all the time. “Yessir! I’ll get them to him right away.”

He walks away from Coach Foster with an unconcealable spring in his step and he doesn’t even care if he sees. He’s got the goofiest grin on his face, but there’s nobody around to call him out on it. 

This is exactly what he’s been waiting for – the perfect opportunity to see Omi again, dropped directly into his lap.

He practically sprints all the way to the complex, using the reasoning that it’s a post-practice cool-down run. He gets nearly there, but then takes a sharp turn and slows to a jog in front of that ramen shop – Omi’s favorite. It’ll be a peace offering, a gift of friendship. Not even Omi can say no to food. 

He orders Omi’s usual (extra chashu and egg), and smiles to himself the entire time he waits in line.

He knocks on his door thirty minutes later, ready to shoot himself straight into the ceiling. Atsumu is rarely jittery – for all of his antics, he’s a pretty calm person, but he feels like he just downed an entire mug of espresso. He can’t stand still.

Omi answers the door on the second knock. He assesses Atsumu, who’s still out of breath, probably a little sweaty from all the running and gives him a look of disdain.

“What do you want?” he demands. Atsumu is too wound up to be hurt by Omi’s irritated tone. He lifts the bag of takeout in one hand, and the folder in another.

“Foster forgot to give these to ya, so he sent me home with them, and he told me to help ya fill them out.”

It’s a lie, but a harmless one – and really, Omi may need the help. Atsumu knows he didn’t forget anything basic, but there may be questions he doesn’t understand regarding the contract and such. He knows he barely understood it himself and had to keep calling Suna and Aran to help him decipher it. Omi must’ve been in the same boat, and so Atsumu will be there to assist him. “And I thought ya might be hungry since it’s dinner time.”

“I’m perfectly capable of feeding myself, Miya,” Omi says, crossing his arms. 

At that moment, two things happen. Omi takes a quick inhale – Atsumu sees it through his mask – and his eyes zero in on the plastic bag, trying to decipher the words written in a faded font.

Atsumu knows very well that Omi is capable of feeding himself, in the barest sense of the phrase. Without Atsumu, he’s probably living off take-out. Omi’s a bad cook, a true Tokyo boy, born and raised with the kind of wealth that would allow him to spend his afternoons in cafes and fancy restaurants. Atsumu teased him once about how he was probably the one who brought the best snacks to games, and Omi refused to answer, so he knew it was right.

Omi got an allowance all throughout college (‘motivation money’, Omi called it) and so he never had to worry about learning how to cook. Atsumu’s seen his credit card statements from those days – he’s never seen someone eat so many fancy protein bowls in his life. There was so much delivery it made Atsumu’s head spin. 

Omi was lucky he met Atsumu when he did, or he would’ve gone broke from all of the luxury fees. He’s surely well-on his way to it now.

“But do ya really want to when I’ve got this delicious ramen here with me?” 

Atsumu smiles. He has Omi clocked. It’s past 6 PM, which is Omi’s prime dinner hour, and if he hasn’t eaten now, then he must be starving. 

When Omi begrudgingly snatches the folder away and walks inside, leaving the door ajar for Atsumu to follow, he can’t help but smile smugly to himself. It feels like victory.

Atsumu is thrilled to be back in Omi’s apartment. A week feels like a year in this new time period that Atsumu is cursed to survive in, and he misses this place every day. 

The television is on, set to the news, and Atsumu can picture both of them on the couch, Omi paying rapt attention (because he likes to keep up with current events the old fashioned way, and not through Twitter, like Atsumu) while Atsumu lays his head in his lap and plays one of those mindless games on his phone. He smiles, unable to help himself.

“What are you smiling about? You look creepy.” 

Atsumu wipes it off his face. “I’m jus’ in a good mood,” he says. “Had a real productive day all around.”

“I don’t think I asked about your day,” Omi mutters, already looking through the papers, but Atsumu barrels on – he can’t let every bite from Omi get him down. Atsumu remembers that an Omi existed who wasn’t his once. That Omi had walls that needed to be broken down, carefully and meticulously. That Omi was guarded, short, and didn’t let just anybody in. Atsumu can’t be upset that that’s who he’s reverted to. Getting his Omi back will be difficult, but Atsumu has always been willing to work hard when it matters.

“What did ya think of the team?” he continues. He knows Omi will have thoughts – he’s probably been analyzing and picking apart their individual play styles since he left the gym. “Pretty good, right?”

“As expected,” Omi replies. “I can see why I picked MSBY.”

“Damn right.” Atsumu swells with pride. Omi’s eyes flick up to meet his, then immediately flit back down to the forms.

Atsumu’s heart picks up the pace and he decides to unpack the food to give himself something to do with his hands. He’s going to have to see a cardiologist after this – the constant spikes in his heart rate can’t be good for his health. 

He sets two bowls on the counter and digs around in the bag for napkins and utensils, but he finds none. No matter, he slips behind the counter and into the kitchen, opening the drawer he knows houses everything they need.

He freezes when he hears Omi clear his throat.

Oh. He’s not supposed to know where everything in Omi’s kitchen is. That wouldn’t make sense to this Omi.

“Sorry, sorry!” he cries. “That was rude, wasn’t it? I dunno where my head is.” He laughs nervously. “Everyone has the same drawer for utensils – that’s where I keep mine too. Shouldn’t have helped myself.”

Omi stares at him, that calculating look in his eyes. Atsumu holds his breath.

“It’s fine,” Omi says, finally. “I’m not surprised you still don’t have manners.”

Atsumu huffs at him. “I’m gonna ignore that comment.”

“If it makes you feel better.” 

Atsumu smirks a little bit to himself. This isn’t going so bad, and he knows that no matter where he stands with Omi, the one thing they will always have in common is their love of volleyball. Omi’s eyes light up when he talks about it. Atsumu just has to keep him talking.

“Ah, so ya remember Bokun from high school, right? Ya must remember how he was, then, all emotional and such.”

“I do,” Omi answers, not looking up from the forms. “He would often have breakdowns on the court, but still managed to be the top ace in the country.” 

“Yeah!” Atsumu nods. “He figured out how to channel all of that rogue emotion into his plays, so he’s extra scary now.” 

Omi glances up at that. “Has his status changed? Last I remember, he was being scouted for the Olympic team.” A shadow darkens his face, and Atsumu can’t help it – he laughs.

“Ya got nothin’ to worry about, Omi. Yer being scouted for the National Team too, and yer pretty evenly matched with Bo, though I think yer spikes are freakier with those wrists of yers.” 

Ah, Atsumu is so fond of those wrists, but he absolutely cannot think about that right now. 

“Am I?” Omi asks, softly. Then he clears his throat, as if he realized how gentle his voice had become. “That makes sense, then. That always was my dream.”

“Yeah, I know,” Atsumu says before he can stop himself. Omi turns him into Jell-O, and all reason goes out the window, but he has to keep himself in check. “It’s all of our dreams,” he adds quickly, to save face. 

It’s only right at that moment that Atsumu realizes Omi didn’t correct him, or even sneer at the nickname he used. 

He’s on a roll. He has to keep going.

“What did ya think about me, Omi? C’mon, ya don’t have to hold back.” Atsumu grins, and Omi rolls his eyes.

“You’re as cocky as ever,” he deadpans.

“Ah, confidence is different than cockiness!” he calls. “Yer food is gonna get cold. Come eat. Nothin’ worse than cold ramen.” 

Omi obeys, albeit begrudgingly, with several glares and huffs of displeasure. Atsumu is going to hurt his jaw from smiling so much – the muscles have been underused. The behavior is just so quintessentially Omi – cooperative, but making sure he doesn’t act happy about it. 

He doesn’t sit down next to Atsumu, but instead takes his bowl and puts distance between them, leaning against the back counter as he eats. He studies Atsumu carefully, as if he’s not sure what to make of him. 

“Why did you bring me food?” he asks.

“Huh?” Atsumu pauses, mid-bite. “I told ya, it’s dinner time and I thought ya might be hungry.” 

“No, the real reason,” he says, impatient. “This – you’re acting so casual. Why would this be casual?”

“Do ya want me to be mean to ya?” Atsumu tilts his head to the side. “I’m not some monster. I don’t think it’s fair of ya to remember me as a sixteen-year-old.”

“That’s all I can remember you as,” Omi snaps at him. “That’s all I have to go on, so you, here, like this.” He gestures to Atsumu’s general direction. “It doesn’t make sense to me.” 

“I guess I can channel my inner high schooler if that makes ya more comfortable,” Atsumu says, and he’s joking but Omi glares at him all the same.

“Your name in my contacts didn’t make sense to me either. I couldn’t find you at first because I didn’t have you under Miya. Why would I have done that?” 

He whispers the question to himself, and his expression is so conflicted, so confused, that Atsumu’s heart breaks. He doesn’t want to cause Omi turmoil, not when he has so much to figure out about himself first.

“I changed it to that,” he blurts. “I did it to everyone on the team.”

It’s a half-lie, and he doesn’t know why he said it at all. It’s the opposite of the goal he’s trying to achieve. He wants Omi to think he’s special, different from the others, but the mild panic on his face was enough to send Atsumu into a spiral. If it calms Omi down to know he’s just like his other teammates, then he’ll say that.

“I changed it back,” Omi says simply. Atsumu can’t help the pang of hurt that slices through his heart. He doesn’t let it show on his face.

“Okay,” he says, in lieu of a better response, and gets back to his eating.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” Omi mutters. 

“Do what?”

“I told you I didn’t want to be your friend,” Omi says. “I doubt we were before. Maybe something. I don’t know, but I told you I didn’t want that, so why are you here? Why are you helping me?”

Atsumu sighs. He’s proud of himself, for staying steady through this, but his resolve is wavering. “Ya don’t gotta be my friend if ya don’t want to – yer loss, by the way – but we are teammates, and I’m not gonna stop bein’ nice to ya just because ya remember me as a dumb kid.” 

“A really dumb kid,” Omi emphasizes and Atsumu huffs at him, but despite what Omi says, he continues to eat his ramen, and when they both finish, he doesn’t kick Atsumu out. Instead, he pulls out his forms and begins to work on them, filling the quiet with the scratch of a pen accompanied by murmured questions and grumbles of frustration.

“Ya need help?”

“No, I can read, Miya.”

“Ya sure? Yer head got pretty banged up, ya might’ve forgotten.”

“Fuck you.” 

Atsumu smiles. Like this, it’s almost like time traveling, back to when Atsumu discovered that it was fun to push Omi’s buttons, that he liked to get reactions out of him. It took Omi some time to get used to Atsumu’s brand of teasing, took him even longer to move from ignoring it, to snapping back, to finally tolerating it and even laughing. Atsumu thinks they’re moving faster, now, and maybe if he’s already got Omi biting back at him, he can get him laughing soon.

“They’re thorough,” Omi mutters to himself as he reads. “I’m sure reading through these the first time was bad enough. At least I don’t remember it.”

“I can’t believe ya actually read through it,” Atsumu quips. “I gave up after a while and just signed.”

“You probably signed your life away,” Omi says. “MSBY owns you now.”

Atsumu shrugs. “I don’t mind. I love the Jackals. They can own me. Besides, I behave myself on social media, so I don’t need to worry about scandals.” 

“Somehow I doubt that.”

“Check the internet!” Atsumu insists. “My reputation is squeaky clean. Even Shoyo’s had a scandal, but not me.”

Omi raises an eyebrow at that, showing actual interest for the first time since Atsumu came over. “What could he have possibly done?” 

Atsumu laughs, delighted at a chance to share that story again. This is kind of fun, in a twisted sort of way. There’s so much he can tell Omi. 

“He was at a reunion for his old high school – ya know, Karasuno – and someone got pictures of him makin’ out with both his old teammate – Tobio – and their old manager, the cute blonde girl, Yachi. They were all over the Internet the next morning.”

“What.” Omi stops looking at the paperwork entirely for that. “How.”

“Shoyo fucks,” Atsumu says wisely, and Omi crinkles his nose.

“Ew.”

“Ya’ve got a lot to relearn, Omi. Ah, Sakusa. Sorry, old habits die hard.” 

He hadn’t been told off yet, but Atsumu has to test the waters, wants to see if Omi really doesn’t mind, or if he is gearing up to yell at Atsumu any minute. 

“It’s fine,” Omi says, curt. “It’s a stupid nickname, but if you call everyone else stupid nicknames too, then...whatever.” 

“Yeah?” Atsumu grins. He feels like he’s soaring. “I do. Don’t worry, Omi, yer not special.”

It’s the biggest lie he’s told so far, probably ever in his life, but it seems to satisfy Omi enough so that he goes back to his paperwork. By the time he’s finally finished looking it all over, the sun has set outside, and Atsumu is absently scrolling through his phone, comfortable, peaceful. This is perfect; he loves this. He doesn’t want to go home, not in the next fifteen minutes, not ever.

He knows he’s going to have to, soon, but he’ll enjoy it while he can. He goes back to scrolling and his eyes catch on his ‘Explore’ page.

“Hey, yer trendin’ again,” Atsumu says suddenly. “Come look.”

Omi walks over to him, clearly intrigued. He hovers over Atsumu’s shoulder so that he can make out the screen, and Atsumu’s entire body flushes, hot. 

Ah, maybe it was a mistake to call him over – Atsumu didn’t think Omi would actually come so willingly, and now that he’s this close, Atsumu feels like he’s burning all over.

He’s like a teenager, getting this bothered over Omi standing near him, but he can’t help it – his body misses him so much, it just reacts with instinct. It’s a fight not to lean back, like he would’ve done just a few weeks ago, so that he could rest himself against Omi. 

He sits up straighter, and focuses on scrolling up so Omi can see the news articles splashed across his screen.

They’re nothing special – just an update on his status, that he was spotted leaving the hospital in a sling, and he seems to be in good shape. There’s nothing on the amnesia, and he can feel Omi relax behind him at that. 

“Does this...happen often?” he asks, finally backing away enough so that Atsumu can breathe. 

“What, people talkin’ about ya?” Atsumu smiles. “Sure, Omi, yer a star.”

In a rare moment of vulnerability, Atsumu sees Omi’s face change – it softens, to one of wonder, one of Atsumu’s favorite expressions. He used to call it ‘starry-eyed’ because Omi’s eyes are dark, but occasionally, if Atsumu looks hard enough, he can see a whole solar system in them.

“Huh,” Omi mumbles and Atsumu watches him. He’s indulging a little, getting an up-close view of Omi. When he gets his memories back, Atsumu is going to spend hours unabashedly staring, and touching, and kissing. He’ll lock Omi in his arms and just admire. 

“What are you doing?” Omi snaps and Atsumu comes back to reality. 

“Sorry, just spaced out for a minute,” he murmurs, and he knows his face is bright red. He’s never been able to hide a blush. 

Omi’s expression changes from mild annoyance to something much, much worse – clear discomfort.

“You should go,” Omi says, each word clipped and deliberate, and Atsumu knows it’s a demand, masked behind pleasantries. What he means is – get out of my apartment .

Atsumu wants so badly to fight him. If he could just take Omi by the shoulders and rattle his brain back into place, he would. Omi is so determined to hate Atsumu, that every time he catches himself lowering his guard, he defaults right back to cruelty – why? What’s he so afraid of?

Atsumu could kiss him. He could ambush him, just like Omi ambushed him last year, and just kiss him until he’s gasping for air. He’s better at actions, anyway, and that’s what it took, right, to get them started. He could do it again; so simple, the opportunity right there in front of him.

But the look on Omi’s face is unmistakable – it’s discomfort. Omi wants him to leave. 

One of the first things Atsumu learned about Omi was his threshold for being uncomfortable. Some of their teammates whispered about him behind his back – they called him a germaphobe, or obsessive; they rolled their eyes over the way he wiped down a bench before he sat on it, or how long he took in the showers, but Atsumu knew it wasn’t all of that. Omi just had a certain way of doing things, and he didn’t handle discomfort well. 

They all knew better, now, not to touch him without warning, at least outside of the court, but in the beginning, things were rough for Omi. Atsumu found himself subconsciously wanting to ease his burden, so he observed and he learned.

Omi’s tells were easy – it was all in his face. He couldn’t hide when he was bothered, and Atsumu started reading his cues, and whenever things got to be too much for him, Atsumu was the one to reign it in.

He did so casually – if Shoyo was too in Omi’s face, Atsumu would make up some excuse to call him over. If Bokun was yelling too loudly, Atsumu pretended like he was giving him a headache. He didn’t do it for Omi’s attention, he just – he hated that face he made; the very same face he’s making right now.

Atsumu made sure never to be the cause of Omi’s discomfort, but here he is now. 

“Okay, yeah, I’ll go,” Atsumu says, hopping up from the barstool. “Lemme just get the trash.”

“I’ve got it,” Omi interrupts him. “Thank you. For the food. I’ll pay you back.” 

“Don’t worry about it, ‘s nothin’,” Atsumu says. “Well, g’night, Omi.”

Omi nods, and Atsumu retreats, feeling a bit like he just suffered a crushing defeat out of nowhere. The adrenaline of Omi letting him in still lingers, but now it wraps himself around his neck like a chokehold, twisting into tendrils of anxiety. There’s too much conflict, too many mixed emotions, and Atsumu doesn’t get it, doesn’t get why Omi is so hot and cold with him.

The familiar heaviness settles in his stomach, but Atsumu keeps his head high. 

He will not fall down that hole again, for Samu’s sake, if anything. He’s got a business to run and he can’t afford to come save Atsumu from himself every time he gets self-destructive. No, Atsumu needs to be an adult about this – he needs to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives, like the fact that no matter how he frames it, he’s had successes tonight. He can’t afford to get down. He has too many more stories to tell Omi. 

He barrels into his apartment and sets his phone upon his TV stand before he can lose his nerve, and when he presses record, he smiles a little less nervously than before.

“Hey, Omi! It feels kinda weird to be talkin’ to ya on camera, when I was just talkin’ to ya in person, but I’ve been kinda keeping two versions of ya separate in my head. There’s pre-accident Omi, who likes me a lot, and post-accident Omi, who...doesn’t seem to like me that much. That’s okay, though – that’s why I’m makin’ ya these videos, so post-accident Omi remembers why he likes me.”

He takes a deep breath. “I try to stay in some kinda order, but ya know how my head works. Well, I guess ya don’t anymore. Once ya said that I ‘don’t think in any linear way’ and that’s true. I’m all over the place, but it works for me. I know ya prefer things more linear, though, so that’s how I’ve been doin’ for ya,” he pauses, thinks, then smiles. “But I’ve gotta tell ya this one. It’s a good one – I’ll tell ya about the first time I got a real smile from ya. Man .”

He remembers it so well – it changed Omi’s entire face. He didn’t have one of those natural, charming smiles like Shoyo or Bokun, but it just...blew Atsumu away completely. Omi had pouty lips, and Atsumu had been finding his eyes drawn to them a lot as of then, but nothing could prepare him for the way they quirked up, genuinely, showing just a hint of perfect teeth. 

“It was such a small smile, but the fact that I was the one who got it from ya – it felt better than winnin’ a game.” 

He imagines Omi now, his Omi, watching this video and shoving Atsumu off the couch for being so cheesy, but he can’t help it. Atsumu has always been a sap – but Omi really drags it out of him. 

“It was for such a dumb reason too,” he laughs, and he’s transported back to that day – early afternoon, before a Shoyo and Omi’s debut game. They were on their own turf, facing a team full of old friends and old enemies, and emotions mixed in the air like a whirlwind. Atsumu was excited, but nervous. He had old teammates watching this game; he was playing against Tobio; Samu was in the crowd. He was twisted up so tight that he thought he might burst, and so when he came across Shoyo and Tobio about to go at it in the hallway (which definition of ‘go at it’, he wasn’t sure) he immediately went into protective mode, and rushed to Shoyo’s side. Too bad that seemed to summon everybody else from both teams, and chaos erupted. Atsumu tried to play the role of caroling his teammates, but they were so uncooperative, and in a moment of true understanding, he said an apology to Aran, who had always played this role on Inarizaki.

Omi, who had at some point ended up right next to Atsumu, snorted.

“You’re not cut out for leadership,” he told Atsumu.

“Excuse me – I’d like to see ya try to get these animals under control!” Atsumu argued back.

“No, I don’t think I will.”

Atsumu must’ve had the most crestfallen look on his face, because Omi smiled, right then in there, pure amusement in the quirk of his lips, and the crinkle of his eye. It was a rare maskless moment off the court, and Atsumu felt like he needed to capture it, to commit it to memory, and to do whatever it took to make it happen again.

“So, really, ya were smilin’ at my misfortune,” Atsumu explains to the camera now. “I was so overwhelmed that day – I said I was nervous about showin’ off, but when I think about it, it’s not like it was my first time playin’ Tobio, or the first game Samu and my team watched. I think I was probably nervous on account of ya bein’ there, Omi. I just didn’t know it yet, but all I wanted to do was impress ya.”

He shakes his head at his own foolishness. There were so many signs back then – Atsumu ignored them all. 

“That was a good game. God, I wish ya remembered – ya were taunting me about service aces. Ya know, we have a runnin’ bet about those to this day – ya always beat me. It’s those freaky wrists, but one day I’ll catch up. Don’t worry, I won’t count any against ya until ya get yer memories back and yer back on yer full game.” 

He smiles sadly now, suddenly shy of the camera. “I miss ya a lot, Omi, but I’m just grateful I get to see ya at all. I really am.” 

Atsumu stands up and retrieves his phone, ending the recording. When he exits out of the camera app, he sees he missed a message.

It’s from Omi. 

Atsumu inhales so abruptly that he chokes on his spit, but there’s no time to recover. He swipes up immediately.

How much for the food?

Okay, this is good. This is an opportunity. Omi is asking him a question and questions need to be answered. Atsumu can work with this.

Don’t worry about it, Omi. He sends a smiley face, for good measure. You can pay for our next dinner.

I don’t want to go to dinner with you.

He frowns. This Omi really wants to beat Atsumu down. If he were a weaker man, he would give up, but Atsumu still has fight in him. He has to.

Wow, you really want to owe me for the rest of your life then? Okay.

There isn’t a response for a few minutes, then comes one simple, irritated word that makes Atsumu’s entire body warm. 

Fine. 

Atsumu feels weightless.

Chapter Text

Atsumu wakes up to his phone ringing. 

His first instinct is panic – he overslept. Samu is in trouble, Atsumu is in trouble for something stupid he did. There’s a game today that he forgot about. The possibilities fly through his head at one hundred miles per hour as he scrambles for his phone, digging it out of the nest of blankets he’s buried himself in. Atsumu is such a damn disaster that he’s gone from being someone who barely uses the comforter to someone who sleeps under four plush blankets, just to substitute Omi’s presence. It’s a poor replacement for the clinging that he’d gotten so used to, but he’s had to make adjustments. 

He finally locates it and blinks blearily at the name flashing across his screen.

“What,” Atsumu gasps out loud. He slams his thumb into the blurry green button. He’s trembling all over, an instantaneous response. “Hello?” he rasps.

“Do you really sleep in this late?” 

It’s Omi – it’s Omi on the other line, and Atsumu has all but forgotten what tired feels like. He thought at first that maybe he was still asleep, that the contact name he saw was a product of one of those cruel, early morning dreams that feel too real. Atsumu has been having a lot of those lately – bursts of memories that make way for peace to blossom in his chest, visions of domesticity with his Omi, the one that remembers him and loves him. He wakes up feeling heavy loss, an emptiness in his stomach that he can’t quite ever get rid of when he’s awake. 

There’s no mistaking that voice though – it’s not hazy with the vignette of a dream, but clear and high-definition on the other line.

“Miya?”

Atsumu flounders. “Y - yeah, sorry, sorry! I wasn’t sleepin’, I was just, uh, comin’ back from the gym.” Atsumu clears his throat, desperately trying to rid his voice of the grogginess that plagues it. “I didn’t hear my phone ringin’. Uh. What’s up?”

Omi is quiet, and Atsumu can hear the disbelief in his silence, but he doesn’t comment on it. Instead, he gets right to the point, just like he always does. “I owe you food.”

“Ya do,” Atsumu says slowly. 

“I don’t like owing people, so I’d like to get that out of the way.” Omi’s words are clipped and curt, but there’s the barest hint of nervousness hidden in them. If Atsumu didn’t know him so well, he wouldn’t have caught it. 

It’s endearing. Atsumu smiles dreamily, completely dumbfounded. What a way to wake up. He can’t believe his luck. “Ya wanna take me to breakfast?”

“We could happen to end up at the same restaurant, and I could happen to pay for you,” Omi grumbles. “And it’s brunch , at this point. It’s past nine o’clock, Miya.”

Atsumu glances down at the time. It’s 9:15. 

Ah, Omi – a morning person in the worst sense of the word. Atsumu considers himself one too, due to years of practices before sunrise molding his brain into a routine, but God forbid he ever wanted to stay up late when they didn’t have practice the next day – Omi would wake him up at 7 AM regardless, demanding he go on a run with him, or begging for breakfast. 

Atsumu would wake up at 4 AM if that’s when Omi wanted breakfast. He’s not going to waste time differentiating between meal times. He’s bordering on frantic and he needs to confirm that this is actually happening.

“Okay, ya wanna take me to brunch?”

“Sure,” Omi answers, a long-suffering sigh included as punctuation. “If that clears my debt.”

“Okay.” Atsumu moves while he talks. “Where d’ya wanna go?” He bounds out of bed and stumbles over to his drawers. He keeps the phone sandwiched between his ear and his shoulder while he rifles through his clothes, throwing outfits to the floor with barely a second glance. Ordinary T-shirts will not do for today. Atsumu has to do better than that. 

On the other line, Atsumu thinks he can hear Omi frowning.

“I don’t know anything around here,” he reminds him, exasperated, and Atsumu’s eyes widen. He’s a mess in the mornings – his brain hasn’t had enough time to fully charge, and now Omi thinks he’s an insensitive jerk. He bangs his knee on his dresser and curses under his breath. 

“Are you having difficulties?”

“Nope,” Atsumu blurts. “All good over here.” He racks his brain as he pulls out a blue button-down that he reserves for casual weddings and professional cocktail hours –  it’s low-key enough that Omi won’t think he’s trying too hard, but Atsumu looks good in it; it shows off all of his assets. Blue is his color.

“I’m assuming you know at least one decent restaurant in Osaka,” Omi prompts, bringing Atsumu back to the actual conversation. He hums, racking his brain for Omi’s favorite – he remembers an image of quaint outdoor seating and pink flowers surrounding the door. 

“I know the perfect place. I’ll come to yer place and get ya. You’ll love it.”

“Twenty minutes,” Omi tells him, and then hangs up.

Atsumu lets out of a garbled whine and lunges for the shower. 

Fifteen minutes and three miniature crises later, Atsumu dashes out of his apartment, leaving it in a state of extreme disarray. He slows to a walk a few feet away from Omi’s door and gives himself a full minute to compose himself. He’s buzzing, on a different plane of existence, and trying to process that he’s going on a date with Omi.

Well, it’s not a date. Omi is just returning a favor. It’s barely friendly.

Atsumu grins to himself. It’s not a date, but they’re going to brunch together. Brunch

The concept used to be entirely foreign to Atsumu – a lavish affair that involved dressing up, paying obscene amounts of money for an infinite amount of food and enough alcohol to tranquilize two Ushijimas. The goal was to get drunk before 2 PM. Atsumu teased Omi about it, said it was very Tokyo of him, but as soon as he sat down across from Omi and received a steaming pile of pancakes fluffier than a pillow, he understood the appeal.

It became sort of like a weekend ritual – on the days that Atsumu didn’t want to make breakfast, Omi would pick a new restaurant for them to try. Atsumu never told him, but he was more hung up on the twinkle in Omi’s eye when they found someplace amazing. The food was a secondary bonus.

It’s so familiar. Atsumu can pretend nothing has changed if he really tries. He can marvel at all of the different ways eggs can be prepared and sneak glances at Omi when he looks down at his phone. It can be normal.

Atsumu opens up his phone camera and smooths down his hair for the fifth time in ten minutes, then changes his mind and tussles it once for effect. With one last deep breath to hype himself up, he finally knocks. 

Omi answers immediately. He’s dressed in black jeans and a slightly oversized gray sweater – it’s not cold enough for that, but Omi is nothing if not on brand. His curls fall perfectly like they’ve been painstakingly styled (Omi can never achieve that level of waves without effort – Atsumu’s seen his bed-head). 

He has the intrusive and heart-wrenchingly hopeful thought that maybe – maybe Omi got dressed up for him.

“Let’s go,” Omi says in lieu of a greeting. Atsumu is about to say something clever, some kind of joke that his brain tends to come up with on the fly, but Omi doesn’t allow him even a second of grace. He shuts the door behind him and starts down the hallway, leaving Atsumu to jog to catch up.

“Hey to ya too, Omi,” he snarks when he finally reaches him. It’s not his best quip, but he isn’t prepared. He does, however, know how he can get Omi’s attention. “I’m about to blow yer mind – there’s this place just down the street that has the best waffles. They make ‘em real sweet, if ya want – with chocolate chips, or honey, or matcha. Tons of options.”

He stops himself from adding on the ‘just like you like’ to the end. He catches the sparkle in Omi’s eyes anyway – it’s brief, like Omi just couldn’t hold it back entirely. 

“Waffles are fine,” he answers instead, and it’s cute, how hard he tries to stay aloof. Atsumu has seen Omi consume an entire stack of peanut butter and chocolate chip waffles in less than ten minutes. He’s an animal with a penchant for sweet things.

Omi doesn’t talk much on their way, but it’s okay because Atsumu is used to this. He can talk enough for the both of them. He tells him mundane things about the state of the world, trying to rack his brain for world events that Omi would be interested in. 

“I’m sure ya’ve been studyin’ it all,'' Atsumu snorts because Omi is exactly the type to pore over Internet articles until he’s sure he’s gotten up to speed on every piece of major news from the last two years. He can’t stand to be uninformed. 

“Somewhat,” Omi says. “It’s hard to know where to start, so I haven’t been doing much of anything. My cousin has been doing his best to hammer two years’ worth of knowledge into my head, so I’m learning, I guess.”

Atsumu laughs, just as they reach their destination. He holds the door open for him, and Omi doesn’t comment. 

“That sounds like Motoya – bet he’s talkin’ yer ear off.”

“He tends to do that,” Omi drones, a little suspiciously, but then adds, “I suppose you’d remember him from the training camps.”

“We play EJP a lot too,” Atsumu quips. He knows more than he could ever want to know about Motoya because he’s Omi’s second favorite person, though even with his memories, he would never admit it. Motoya is what would happen if someone created a person based on every attribute that Omi didn’t have. They’re polar opposites. Atsumu liked Motoya immediately when he met him at their first training camp, but he was more drawn to the dark-eyed, aloof stranger who trailed behind him. 

Omi and Motoya may have nothing in common other than volleyball, but Atsumu rarely saw one without the other until they all graduated and went to separate teams. Still, Motoya makes an effort to come to Osaka whenever he can so he and Omi can go out to dinner. 

Atsumu wished for an invite, even tried, one time, to talk Omi into letting Atsumu tag along under the premise that Sunarin and Samu would come too, but Omi declined, saying his dinners with Motoya were just a lot of boring catching up. Atsumu wouldn’t be interested.

Atsumu would listen to a whole lecture about the mundane details of Omi’s family life, but he didn’t push it. 

“It’s good-natured but annoying,” Omi admits now. 

“Ya think everythin’ is annoyin’,” Atsumu teases.

“No, only things that fall under the dictionary definition.” He gives Atsumu a dry look, and Atsumu chuckles, side-stepping him to approach the hostess stand. 

While she gathers their menus, Atsumu asks, “Does it help at all? D’ya ever get – flashes? Recognition?” 

Omi doesn’t answer until they sit down and the hostess has taken their leave, and Atsumu is starting to sweat. It was a hopeful question, and he’s sure he already knows the answer – if Omi had even the faintest memories of Atsumu, he would’ve said something by now, but he couldn’t hold back from asking. Normalcy could trigger memories, so maybe talking to Motoya could shake something loose in his head.

Omi considers it as he sits down and opens his menu. He glances up at Atsumu and then back down. 

“Sometimes,” he says simply.

“Really? Like what?” Atsumu leans in, ignoring his menu completely. God, he’s a mess. He used to be able to keep his cool, but being around Omi reverts him back to his high-school self – idiotic and awkward, the type to blurt out anything that comes to his mind. 

Omi assesses him, and Atsumu thinks he’s going to get entirely ignored, but then he sighs. “Insignificant things. They’re exactly what you said – flashes. I remembered a cleaning routine the other day when I found the supplies in the bathroom closet.” He pauses, purses his lips and gives Atsumu a curious look, as if thinking. Atsumu waits in stunned and frenzied silence and Omi sighs. “Stupid stuff. Nothing important.” 

Atsumu lets out a careful breath. “Well, that’s a start.”

“Yeah, it is. Figure out what you want to order, I don’t have all day here.”

“No offense, Omi, but what could ya possibly have to do? Ya didn’t have a life outside of volleyball before ya lost yer memories.”

Omi’s eyes switch to daggers. “I have a doctor’s appointment later. I’m getting this off.” He slightly raises his left arm uselessly. It’s still hung in a sling. Omi has been perfectly functional with it, but he’s clearly miserable at the handicap. “I can’t wait.”

Atsumu doesn’t hold back the small smile that tugs at his lips. He’s just happy to be here, with Omi, even if they do have a time limit.

“Okay, okay, I’ll order. What are ya gettin’? Do I have a price limit?” He wiggles his eyebrows.

“I will leave you here with the bill if you order anything ridiculous,” Omi deadpans.

“Well, then ya’d just owe me again!” 

“Just being here counts as paying you back.” 

“Psh, that’s not how it works. I’m thinkin’ about gettin’ the peanut butter waffles, what d’ya think?”

“Sounds disgusting,” Omi says, wrinkling his nose. “Professional athletes shouldn’t eat like that.”

Atsumu barks out a laugh – Omi is a dirty liar, trying to act too cool for sweets, as if he doesn’t make Atsumu buy him sour candies every time they go to the movies. He’s ready to taunt, to pull the truth out of him, but then his smile falls without warning as panic strikes his brain like lightning. What if Omi’s tastes have changed? He read that somewhere, one late night while he was going down an amnesia rabbit hole on Google. That’s definitely something that can happen, so if Omi doesn’t like the same foods – did his taste in people change too?

Atsumu may not even be his type anymore. How is he going to make Omi fall in love with him if he doesn’t like blondes, or athletes, or men in general ?

Oh, he didn’t even think about this. Suddenly, his stomach sinks. 

“Miya.”

Atsumu snaps his attention back to Omi. He’s looking at him like he’s some kind of swamp creature. 

“Yeah?”

“I asked you if you were going to order that disgusting sugar food. Our waitress is watching us.”

“Oh, uh. Yeah. Sure. I’ll get that.”

“Hey,” Omi drops his voice lower. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you on drugs?”

“What,” Atsumu chokes. “ No , we get drug tested.” 

“You spaced out for no reason, like something just hit you.” 

Something did – something definitely hit him, but he can’t fall apart in front of Omi. He has more self-control than that. 

“I dunno what yer talkin’ about. I’m all good.” He smiles to prove his point, and fate smiles back at him because at that exact moment, their waitress comes to take their orders. 

Atsumu is able to shove his despair into the deeper recesses of his brain and fall into normal conversation with Omi. It’s a bit of a learning curve – Atsumu and Omi had established a comfortable rapport over their time together, the kind that no longer required constant conversation. They could go out to eat and just enjoy each other’s company, but when they did talk, it was about things that inexplicably connected them. They discussed shows they were binging together, gossiped about their teammates, people-watched. Sometimes, Atsumu would start making up stories for the tables around them. Omi rolled his eyes at first, but it didn’t take long for him to join in.

It’s been a while where he’s been at a restaurant and felt so wholly vulnerable like this. The blanket of comfort that used to be draped over him and Omi is gone now, and the chill of his nerves takes over. He tries to treat it like any first date, but he doesn’t even know how to do that anymore. He and Omi’s path to each other was nothing normal, and even their first official date was unorthodox. Atsumu hadn’t been on a casual, get-to-know-you type of date in years.

He reverts back to volleyball, something comfortable for the both of them, and then once he hits his stride, he becomes braver.

“So, Omi, tell me about yerself, let me hear about University.” 

“I thought we were friends,” Omi says dryly, mockingly. “Shouldn’t you know about it?”

“Well, I think it’s only fair if I have to tell ya everythin’ about my life again, ya should have to tell me about yers.” 

Really, Atsumu just wants to hear Omi talk. He hasn’t said this much to him since...before the accident, and it’s soothing. Atsumu could fall asleep to the sound of Omi’s voice, low and rumbling. He used to threaten Omi that he wouldn’t sleep unless he was told a bedtime story. Omi told him he’d lecture him on kinematics and Atsumu decided to give up on that dream. He just has a voice that sounds like his favorite song – it’s like home.

Omi indulges him and Atsumu is in quiet awe of his luck – to have Omi like this, in front of him, voluntarily. It feels both like a brand new prize and also something so fundamentally familiar. He talks about his first-year roommate, about Motoya coming to visit him at 2 AM from two hours away because he’d gotten locked out of his apartment and decided to take the train to crash with Omi. Most were stories Atsumu knew, but there were sprinkles of memories that even Atsumu was not privy to, and hearing them is like meeting Omi over again. 

“The accident must have cut off my memories right after graduation,” he says. His voice is calm, but there’s that frustration in his eyes again. It’s now commonplace in Omi’s expression, it seems, as Atsumu hasn’t seen him without it once. “I remember everything crystal clear until the day I moved out of my college apartment.” 

“So ya remember that ya were plannin’ on trying’ out for the Jackals?” Atsumu asks. He’s long-since finished his waffles, and he feels a little better after he saw Omi eyeing them with something akin to interest and jealousy. 

“Mhm.” Omi twirls his chopsticks. “I was looking at places in Osaka. How did I end up living in the shittiest apartment in the city? I don’t remember that.”

Atsumu laughs. “Ya were tryin’ to prove yerself that ya could deal with some discomforts.”

Omi’s eyes widen for a moment and Atsumu’s stomach sinks. He just said way too much – that’s an intimate detail of Omi that just a casual friend wouldn’t know. In the beginning, Omi danced around the germ thing and how much it affected him. Atsumu knew it was a thing based on the way he behaved in high-school, but it had nearly no impact on Atsumu’s life, other than the required post-practice showers and the fact that they were never allowed to eat anywhere but in the kitchen, so he didn’t push. He wanted to let Omi tell him about it on his own time, and he did.

Omi told Atsumu in bits and pieces the journey he went through to overcome some of his more consuming compulsions. He started seeing a therapist his third year of high school and continued throughout college. He did things that scared him, like accepting high-fives from his teammates, like getting dirt under his fingernails, like picking a shitty apartment in a good location, like Atsumu.
He’d come a long way, but this Omi would still be fighting against his comfort zone, taking baby-steps out of it, and why would Atsumu know that?

He can’t retract what he just said, so he tries to brush it off with a nervous laugh. It doesn’t work. Omi zeroes in on him.

“Did I tell you that?” 

He opens his mouth to come up with a convincing lie – ‘you were drunk’ or ‘I overheard ya on the phone’ but he’s interrupted before he can settle on something, by a very shrill and demanding ringtone. 

Atsumu cringes. He forgot to silence that, still in the habit of keeping his volume high for any calls that may come from Omi. 

“Sorry,” he grumbles, fishing it out of his pocket. It’s Samu. Of all the times he decides to start calling him again, it had to be now. He hits silence.

It starts ringing again approximately one second later. 

“Your brother doesn’t like to take no for an answer,” Omi observes, still watching Atsumu closely.

“Ya have no idea,” he groans, but maybe this is divine intervention – one of Samu’s moments of truly impeccable timing, because the distraction will give him the time he needs to come up with an excuse for how he knows one of Omi’s deepest insecurities. God, he’s an idiot.  “One sec. I’m real sorry. I’ll just tell him to fuck off.” 

“It’s fine,” Omi mumbles. “I don’t care.” 

What , Samu?” Atsumu snaps into the phone. “I’m out right now.”

“Oh, yer leavin’ yer house for reasons other than to go to practice now? Nothin’ short of a miracle.” He can hear muffled laughter in the background – probably one of Samu’s employees, long-used to the antics of the twins. Samu always puts him on speakerphone when he calls because he can’t stop working long enough to have a conversation.

“Eat shit. I’m shocked yer actually callin’ me since ya haven’t in three days. Remember when ya used to bitch at me for never callin’?” 

Omi lets out a breathy noise and Atsumu is positive it’s some form a laugh. He holds back the smile and focuses on getting rid of Samu. 

“Don’t start that with me right now.”

Atsumu’s jaw sets, tight. Things are still weird with Samu, no matter how hard both of them try to pretend they aren’t. “What d’ya want anyway?”

“Did ya see the news?” 

“What news?” 

“Damn, thought ya woulda heard. Sakusa’s all over the Internet. Someone ran their mouth about his head injury and now everyone is freakin’ out.”

Atsumu feels like the wind has been knocked out of him. Across the table, Omi looks at him expectantly and Atsumu shakes his head slightly.

“Tsumu? Did the line go dead?”

“Nah, uh, when did that happen?”

“I started seein’ it a few minutes ago – it’s blowin’ up though.” 

“I gotta call ya back later.”

He hangs up before Samu can say anything else and pulls up Twitter on his phone. Omi will surely see the look of horror in his eyes if he looks at him now, so he keeps his gaze cast down, going for casual. “Sorry, just gotta check somethin’.” 

“Doesn’t bother me,” Omi says dryly. “Family drama is boring.”

 If Atsumu was in a better mindset, he would marvel at the memories of all the times Omi tried to feign disinterest when he was really prying for answers. It was never obvious to Atsumu then, but now it’s clearer than day. Omi wants to know what the call was about, and Atsumu has no idea how to tell him. 

Atsumu shrugs and refreshes his page – sure enough, it’s the first tweet he sees: Olympic Hopeful Sakusa Kiyoomi – Amnesia? 

His phone aggressively vibrates as one message after the other from the Omi-free MSBY group chat starts to erupt.

Omi frowns, indifference forgotten. “Is everything okay?”

“Uh.” Atsumu doesn’t have the capacity for this – he’s trained extensively in handling Omi’s emotions and he likes to think he’s an expert at this point, but this has the potential to be a whole new beast. Atsumu has been at Omi’s side for a lot of small tragedies – a goldfish passing away (Atsumu’s idea, but Omi was the one who got attached), having to finally throw away a high-school hoodie that had holes in it, dealing with an extremely emotional anime that was advertised as ‘cute’ and ‘whimsical’ but turned into pure despair. 

He and Omi had been relatively lucky – neither of them had ever had a real emotional blow. They’ve had losses, failures, minor arguments that left their feelings hurt, but everything was tolerable, easily fixed, and would not send either of them spiraling.

That changed in the past few weeks, of course, but Atsumu had been the one to crack, not Omi.

But this – this total and complete invasion of his privacy, the thought of being scrutinized by thousands of millions of eyes, theorized about, treated as an anomaly...this will freak Omi out to the point of hysteria. 

Atsumu has to word it carefully.

“Uh,” he repeats because he really doesn’t know how to begin, but at that moment, Omi’s own phone vibrates and he looks down at it.

“Motoya is texting me,” he says. “One moment.”

“Okay.” Atsumu feels the need to brace himself, to jump into emergency mode, and prepare himself to shield Omi from whatever they’re saying about him online, but he doesn’t know how to do that with an Omi who isn’t wholly comfortable with him.

He watches in real-time as Omi’s face pales. 

“Omi, it’s not a big deal,” Atsumu blurts, words coming out jumbled together. “People are just talkin’ – they always talk about MSBY. It’ll blow over in a minute when they get wind of somethin’ else.” 

Omi meets Atsumu’s eyes for a half-second, then they flit around the restaurant, and Atsumu’s heart sinks. Omi is making sure nobody is looking at him. The spiral has already begun.

“I need to go,” he says evenly. He pulls out his wallet and pulls out several bills. “Use this to cover it.”

“Omi, c’mon, don’t just run off – ”

“I’m not running off,” Omi snaps. “I told you I didn’t have all day. I’m going to my doctor’s appointment.”

“It’s that soon?”

“Why is my schedule suddenly your business?” Omi growls, and it’s there, now – the alarm is turning to anger, like it so often does. Omi doesn’t cope with negative emotions well. They mix and mesh together until the lines are blurred, and suddenly he’s lashing out.

Atsumu doesn’t want to push him. He can’t make it worse, but he doesn’t want to just let Omi go.

“Are ya sure yer alright? I promise, it’ll blow over. This is just somethin’ that happens, and –”

“Why would I care about what strangers think about me?” Omi demands, eyes dark and unwavering as he sneers at Atsumu. “I wouldn’t have become a professional volleyball player if I cared what people thought.”

Lie, lie, lie. Atsumu knows how Omi gets about things like this, knows he’s about thirty minutes away from becoming a basket-case. He’s overwhelmed enough by the nuances of being a minor celebrity, and this is ten times anything they’re used to. Omi is the type of person who has to be coerced into interviews. Ironically enough, in the beginning, he was the center of most of them, the new kid in town, essentially, one that had caused a monumental wave in the college volleyball scene. He hates this – it’s his least favorite part of his career.

Yet, here he thinks he has to maintain a sense of pride, as if Atsumu would ever judge him for being bothered. 

He wants to say that, say anything to get Omi to stay. Atsumu can talk him through this – he can convince him that there’s nothing to worry about, and that nobody online knows anything, but Omi’s mind is made up..

He nods once to Atsumu’s empty plate. “We’re even now.”

“Oh – yeah, guess we are. Thanks, Omi.”

He nods again, the faintest bit of panic showing in his eyes. He’s unfocused, in flight mode, and Atsumu is letting him go.

What other choice does he have?

“See ya around?”

Omi doesn’t answer, but turns on his heel and strides out of the restaurant. Atsumu flags down the waitress and pays with Omi’s money, then rushes back into the city, thinking for one insane moment that he should chase Omi down.

This isn’t a romance novel, and Atsumu can’t run through Osaka to get Omi – what would he even do when he reached him, spin him around and shelter him in his arms? It’s not like that would make him remember him. He would shove Atsumu away, because Omi doesn’t know that he needs Atsumu right now. He needs Atsumu, but he doesn’t want him and nothing Atsumu can do will change that.

He can at least monitor the situation. He’ll have to do it from afar, but he’ll keep tabs and that way, if it gets really bad, Atsumu can...intervene, somehow. 

He pushes through the late-morning weekend crowd and makes his way back to his apartment. Once he’s inside, he opens up his phone and checks the damage. 

He sees the group chat first, everybody on the team’s speech bubbles lit up in various expressions of alarm.

The first text is from Meian, timestamped a few minutes before Samu called him.

Do not engage with anybody online. If anybody from any publication reaches out to you, you have no comment.  

Responses pour in all at once.

Is Omi okay?? That’s Shoyo.

Inunaki asks, Who snitched? 

Everyone is FREAKING out!! Bokun is always yelling, even in his texts. The Jackals are trending worldwide!!!

This is a mess, Tomas says. Poor Sakusa.

Poor Omi is an understatement. Atsumu knew that look in his eyes. He’d made it his personal mission in life to always swoop in to save the day if he saw that look. Whenever Omi was prompted for a post-game interview, or approached by a hopeful fan, Atsumu took notice of the discomfort on his face, the slight panic in his features, and he couldn’t help himself – he had to be Omi’s hero. 

Atsumu is a natural at these things. Competing for attention all his life made him a natural lover of the limelight, and so he took it upon himself to save Omi, time and time again until they became a natural pair for anything media-related. The team laughed about it relentlessly, about the hilarity of it all, two of the least warm and fuzzy teammates, constantly being called upon to sit next to each other in interviews or pose together for pictures. 

Atsumu wants to call Omi. He doesn’t.

He doesn’t want to read the news, though. He doesn’t want to know what they’re saying about Omi. 

The videos have become a constant in Atsumu’s new routine, something to do whenever he can’t get out of his own head – it’s a way to talk to Omi without actually talking to him, and so Atsumu pulls up his camera app now, and holds the camera up to his face.

“Hey Omi,” he greets. The smile he wants to show doesn’t quite pan out, and he swallows down the lump in his throat. “I hope that when this is over, we laugh about today, but I’m real worried about ya right now. Ya know, the media is full of vultures. I used to tell Samu all the time that I wanted the limelight, but it’s hard, and if it’s hard for me, I know it’s brutal for ya.” 

He huffs out a breath. “Our first interview together was somethin’ else. Before ya joined, me, Bokun and Sho were kinda a trio in these things – but it’s hard competin’ with personalities like theirs. I wasn’t big enough, ya know? We didn’t mesh that well. Once ya came around and started havin’ to sit in interviews, I saw how much ya hated to be on the spot, so I just kinda – took over for ya. That first interview was somethin’ dumb – they were askin’ us about our favorites, a this-or-that kinda thing. They asked ya if ya would rather go to a tropical island or go hiking in the woods and ya said neither in that deadpan way of yers, and the interviewer just looked horrified. So I jumped in, and I said ya’d probably prefer bein’ at home to anythin’, and ya laughed. ” 

He smiles. “We kinda just became a package deal after that. Interviews said they liked how we played off each other. Polar opposites, they said.” 

Atsumu laughs to himself. “After we’d been together for awhile, ya know what Meian said?” He puts on a deeper voice, mimicking his captain. “‘If only you two could get along like this at practice.”

The act they put on was fun, then – just a joke, a way to avoid their secret getting out. Atsumu wishes he hadn’t been such a good actor.

“Omi, there’s interviews of us ya could watch – dunno if it would jog yer memory, or if ya even want to watch them, but maybe you’d be able to see...how we looked together, how we got along.” 

Atsumu used to joke that it was fate, shoving them together, that they were destined for friendship. Omi rolled his eyes then. Much later, when they had long since crossed the threshold of their relationship, they watched an old interview of theirs together, Omi with his head in Atsumu’s lap. 

“Ya don’t think they knew then?” Atsumu teased. “I think they grouped us together all the time because they knew we would be such an allurin’ couple.” 

“I think they just know I make for terrible television alone,” Omi said. 

“Get outta here, Omi, yer so awkward, it’s adorable to watch.”

Omi had scooted away from Atsumu then, and dodged all of his attempts at apology kisses until Atsumu was forced to pin him down. 

The memory hits him with a pang to the stomach. Even if Omi watched every interview, Atsumu knows he wouldn’t see it as anything other than two teammates putting on a show for the media, just like everyone else did. 

Omi got used to the media, eventually, but he did so in the period of his life that he’s missing now, and Atsumu knows that without those coping skills, Omi will overload.

Atsumu can do something. He doesn’t have to be drastic, but he could offer advice, offer friendship, offer to hole himself up in Omi’s apartment with him so he could lock away his phone and distract him until things die down. They were just at brunch – that has to mean something. The very fact that Omi willingly sat down in a restaurant with him is enough to show that he at least doesn’t hate him. Atsumu could run with that. He could still comfort Omi as a slightly less-disliked acquaintance. 

There’s always the possibility that Omi will slam the door in Atsumu’s face, though, and that might very well shatter him all over again. 

Atsumu antagonizes. He ends his video, adds it to the growing collection, and gives up his desperate need to read the damn news. 

The media has erupted. He searches blindly for the remote and turns on the local news while he scrolls through headlines on Twitter. It’s chaos – a cacophony of social media posts that proclaim their disbelief, that send their love and hope, that treat it like it’s a plot in a movie. Atsumu glances up at his television, and sees Omi’s team photo on screen. 

The Black Jackals are a prominent team in a professional league, but volleyball isn’t as glamorous of a sport as most. They don’t fill stadiums with fans, don’t get called on the bigger talk shows. They’re minor celebrities at most, popular within their niche, with a horde of dedicated fans, but nothing to the extent of those celebrities that set the world on fire with every play. One day, they will be, but Atsumu has been content with his level of fame on the Jackals – it’s always been just enough to let him get into trouble with minimal circumstances. 

Now, though, all eyes are on them in a way that Atsumu has never seen before, and it’s all because of Omi. 

Fury sizzles inside of him. There are some posts that catch his eyes, some that seem to express genuine care and worry for Omi, but most are just buzzing about the fact that somebody in the limelight has an actual case of amnesia . This doesn’t happen, they all say. Nobody can believe something like this would happen to up-and-coming volleyball star Sakusa Kiyoomi. Is it a joke? Some kind of attempt at promo? Is Omi moving from volleyball to acting? 

It’s entertainment to them, something just crazy enough to break up the monotony of their lives. They come up with conspiracy theories, debate just how much of his memories Omi has lost, wonder if Omi may have forgotten volleyball entirely. 

Some of the messages are truly disgusting – anonymous users on the internet hiding behind fake profile pictures, talking about the things they’d do to the clean slate that they believe Omi is now, some in great detail. Atsumu has a draft of threats written up on his phone, ready to fire them off at anyone who is saying anything negative, inappropriate or cruel about Omi, but Meian will kill him if he even tries. He jumps up instead and paces, still staring at his phone, absorbing every single word that anyone dares to say about Omi.

This isn’t right. It isn’t fair. Atsumu has barely processed what’s happened, and now the entire world is privy to Omi’s suffering. 

He doesn’t know how long he’s been in this state – accelerated heart-rate, vision tinted red, hate-reading the tweets as they come in, but when he glances up to the time, he sees over an hour has passed.

Omi will be home from his doctor’s appointment soon. It doesn’t take long to remove a sling, and Atsumu is sure he’s seeing his regular doctor, at a practice just down the street. Omi shouldn’t be alone like this. If he’s left alone, Atsumu knows exactly what he’ll do – he’ll do exactly what Atsumu is doing right now, and read until his eyes bleed.

He drafts up a text.  

It’s simple – an olive branch, an offer that doesn’t put too much pressure on him, because even if Omi doesn’t respond, at least he’ll know that Atsumu is worrying.

Atsumu is worrying, has been since long before the news broke about Omi’s amnesia. He worries first thing when he wakes up in the morning, worries post-practice, in-between meals, before bed. Samu would say he’s going to give himself an ulcer. 

He might be right, at this point. He didn’t tell his brother about the hives that broke out on his skin the night he showed up at his apartment, because Samu would’ve tried to hospitalize him. They’ve since faded, but Atsumu doesn’t want to find out whatever ailments he can produce due to stress.

He wonders if it’s selfish to think that texting Omi would make him feel better. Even if he doesn’t respond, at least Atsumu can breathe a sigh of relief that Omi knows he’s thinking about him, that he’s here for him, even if he doesn’t want him. 

Atsumu should leave him alone. He shouldn’t bother him when he’s not the one Omi wants to hear from, but Atsumu is a weak, selfish man, and so he doesn’t try to control himself when his fingers start typing a message.

Ignore the news, Omi. They don’t know anything. If you need anything, I’m downstairs. 

Omi doesn’t text him back, not within five minutes, or five hours, and Atsumu can’t settle down. He tells himself that Omi probably isn’t looking at his phone, that he’s silenced it, he’s resting after the doctor’s and that he’s taking the whole thing fine. His brain argues with him, insisting that it makes no sense for Omi to silence his phone when it’s surgically attached to him at any given moment, unless he’s in a really bad place. If Omi is shutting down to the point where can’t even use his phone, then he’s in bad shape. 

He needs Atsumu. 

He doesn’t want Atsumu.

But Omi doesn’t like to be alone like this – for as much as he claims he hates people, he takes comfort in being with those he loves. He told Atsumu once that he didn’t need to talk, he just needed Atsumu to be there, and he’d be fine. 

He pulls at his hair. 

It’s still early enough – it’s not yet an unreasonable hour to drop by. Atsumu could just...check on him, and if Omi tells him to fuck off, then so be it. He can handle that, so long as he sees with his own eyes that he’s okay.

Atsumu feels a little manic, not entirely in control of what his body is dragging him to do, knowing somewhere in the back of the mind that it’s a bad idea, destined to end in disappointment, but he knows he’s going to do it anyway, because he loses sense when it comes to Omi. 

Somewhere between taking the stairs two at a time and nearly skidding to a halt in front of Omi’s door, Atsumu loses his nerve. He raises hand to knock, but it hangs there, frozen in the air like he’s trying to silence for a serve. Atsumu is a selfish man, one who falls apart at rejection of this caliber, so despite the fact that Omi needs him, he falters. 

No, no, Atsumu is selfish but he’s not a coward. He can take whatever rejection Omi throws at him. He’s learned to expect it, so what’s one more time? He takes a breath, and knocks. 

“What?” Omi snaps from inside, voice is rough, and Atsumu’s instincts turn to red alert.

“Omi? Are ya okay? Let me in.”

Omi opens the door only to stare at Atsumu in pure astonishment. “What are you doing here?”

“Ya didn’t answer my text, I – ”

“I don’t have any obligation to answer your texts,” Omi interrupts. Omi is famous for interrupting, and it really grinds Atsumu’s gears. He told him once that he couldn’t help it, Atsumu speaks too slowly, draws out his vowels, and Omi likes things to get straight to the point.

It caused a fight. Atsumu, hurt by the feeling that Omi never actually listened to him, lashed out and called him a ‘city-boy elitist prick’. 

He’d stormed out of the apartment, leaving Omi dumbstruck on the couch. Omi apologized an hour later, showing up at his door with takoyaki, and afterwards, Omi always made sure to let Atsumu finish before he said his piece.

Now, it seems as if he’s reverted to it in full force.

“Ya didn’t let me finish,” Atsumu huffs. “I’m here because I’m worried about ya, Omi – it can get pretty brutal online, and I know yer not used to it.” 

Atsumu fixes him with a glare, feeling braver by the second, because this bratty Omi brings out some sort of survival instinct within him, one that armors his nerves and strengthens his resolve.

Even Omi seems to notice it, because he backs down, just the tiniest bit, only noticeable in the slight slump of his shoulders before he sighs. “I’m fine. You can tell Meian and everyone else who’s blowing up my phone that too.”

“Why don’t you tell them yerself?” Atsumu challenges. He shifts from one foot to the other, feeling antsy and exposed in the hallway like this. They spent so long in secrecy, that Atsumu got used to all of their interactions like a budding scandal. It seemed so exciting at the time – Atsumu was so naive. 

“I don’t feel comfortable texting most of them,” Omi says, in a rare show of honesty. “It feels strange, seeing all of the contact names of people that I don’t remember knowing enough to have their numbers.”

“I get that,” Atsumu says, and swallows. “But everyone would be a lot less worried if ya just texted back and then I wouldn’t have to come knockin’ on your door when I could be relaxin’.”

“Don’t let me stop you from relaxing,” Omi drawls and he moves to shut the door, but Atsumu blocks it, throwing his hands out in panic.  

“Omi,” he starts, “Don’t push people away when ya need help.”

“Who are you to tell me I need help?” Omi growls back, and he’s mad once again, shooting straight back up to the defensive, but Atsumu can’t let Omi push him around like this, or he’ll never get him back. Atsumu needs to live up to his reputation – neverending persistence, the stamina and drive to get things done. That’s what got him this far in life, and he can’t slow down because of this roadblock. 

“I’m yer friend, Omi, and I don’t give a shit if ya don’t believe that. I’m gonna worry about ya because I care about ya, so cement that in yer damn memories.” 

He crosses his arms and stares Omi right in his astonished eyes. 

The look fades fast, and he glares back at Atsumu, then turns around and walks further into his apartment, leaving the door wide open. It’s an obvious invitation, in the most Omi fashion – he won’t say it, but he knows Atsumu will follow him in.

The apartment is in a state of disarray, at least for him. There are magazines strewn about on the coffee table, all with various professional athletes on the cover and a blanket is draped over the couch, dragging on the floor. 

The television is on, like Atsumu knew it would be, tuned to the news. They won’t be covering Omi as the main story now, but Atsumu is sure Omi’s eyes have been trained to the same channel since he found out his business was exposed to the world.

“Ya eat yet?” Atsumu asks, taking a leaf out of Samu’s book of care. 

“I’m not hungry,” Omi mutters. “We just ate.” 

“That was six hours ago,” Atsumu points out, and Omi clicks his tongue at him before sinking into the couch. 

“Stop babying me, I can’t stand it.” 

“I’m not, I’m just hungry and I want to raid yer fridge,” Atsumu levels with him, itching to cross the familiar threshold, past the counter and start digging through Omi’s cabinets for something to cook him. He’s lucky Atsumu came along. Samu is and always will be the better cook of the two of them, but competing with Samu has fueled Atsumu for their entire lives, so he got pretty good at it, in an effort to one-up his brother. 

“You can’t just come in here and raid my fridge. You have absolutely no manners and that’s why I’ll never believe that we were friends,” Omi grumbles from his spot on the couch. He has now wrapped himself in a blanket and he’s reading a magazine. 

“Oh, I recognize that,” Atsumu says suddenly, forgetting his mission. “That’s from when ya first joined the Jackals.” He wanders over to stand behind Omi. “That was a funny shoot – ya were all huffy because the photographer was fussin’ over yer curls not sitting right.” 

Omi pushes a stray curl out of his eyes now, as if suddenly self-conscious. Atsumu wants to pull his hand away, or better yet, run his fingers through Omi’s hair himself, to assure him that he loves his curls, held in place by product or running wild, but he holds himself back, again.

“Of course they were,” he mutters. He drops the magazine and picks back up his phone.

“Ya shouldn’t read what they’re sayin’,” Atsumu suggests, frowning. “I know it’s hard not to, but it doesn’t make it any better.”

“If it were you, would you read it?” Omi asks, eyes not leaving his phone.

Atsumu can’t lie to him. “Yeah.”

“Exactly.” 

There’s quiet for a moment, and Atsumu does raid Omi’s fridge. It’s better stocked than Atsumu’s ever is, which is ambitious for somebody who doesn’t cook. Maybe Omi figured he picked it up in the two years he lost. He snorts to himself at the thought.

“Why do they care so much?” Omi’s voice comes from the couch and Atsumu feels like it’s not a question he should’ve actually heard. Omi may not actually be seeking an answer, but Atsumu gives one anyway, just to keep him talking.

“They’re bored, mostly.” Atsumu shrugs and leans against the counter. “Bored and they’ve got this idea in their heads that they know us, since they see us in interviews and on the court and such. It’s fun sometimes, but other times…”

“There’s nothing fun about watching strangers on the Internet debate on whether or not I still know how to play volleyball. I do, ” he adds in a huff. Atsumu cracks a smile.

“Well, yer gonna have to show ‘em then, Omi,” he says. “We can leak a video of ya playin’ at practice once yer cleared, and it’ll shut ‘em all up.” 

“This is stupid,” Omi sighs. “I would’ve rather broken my body than lost my memories. I hate it. It’s such a pathetic injury to have.” 

The smile melts away. “No one thinks yer pathetic.”

“The entire Internet is pitying me,” Omi snaps. “I’d say a lot of people think I’m pathetic – you included, since you ignore every attempt I make to get you to leave me alone.”

That stings, but Atsumu is on a roll here. He holds strong, and decides to test the waters – if he’s right, then it’ll be a big step; if he’s wrong, then it may kill him, but it’s a risk he has to take. 

“If ya really want me to leave ya alone, I will,” he says evenly. Omi appraises him, as if trying to call his bluff, but Atsumu keeps his face an impressively blank slate, though he has to hold his hands behind his back to keep them from trembling. 

After a moment of deliberation, Omi says nothing, and goes back to reading on his phone. Atsumu breathes out a sigh of relief.

“Ya know, I like to pick the most ridiculous tweets I can find and imagine the kinda person that said it. It makes these things kinda fun. Like, one time, when I fell real hard at a game, the video started trendin’. Someone reposted it with a caption about I’m ‘a danger to have on the court’ because I’m just ‘so unpredictable and unreliable’ and listed off all of the things that make a good volleyball player. I imagined it was someone who hasn’t ever exercised in their life.”

Omi snorts. He doesn’t say anything at first, but then he starts reading, “‘It’s a good thing Sakusa Kiyoomi lost his memories so he doesn’t remember being on a team like the MSBY Black Jackals’.” 

“Pft, Tobio probably wrote that,” Atsumu says without thinking. “The little shit talker.”

Omi really laughs then, short and controlled but an actual laugh, and Atsumu grins. They spend the next few minutes finding the most obscene tweets they can find, and trying to think of who in their right mind would say them, publicly, when Omi’s stomach rumbles loudly, and Atsumu zeroes in on it.

“I thought you were cooking,” Omi grumbles in response to Atsumu’s look, and he thinks he may throw up from the sheer volume of butterflies that just descended into his stomach.

“Don’t ya wanna learn how to feed yerself?” 

“I know how to cook. You offered.”

Atsumu laughs, returning to the fridge and taking out a slew of ingredients that he knows he can throw together with relative ease.

“I’m not sure of that, judgin’ by the state of yer trash can over here.” He glances down to it – it’s filled with takeout containers. 

“What kind of person goes through someone’s trash?” Omi grumbles.

“I was throwin’ somethin’ away!” he lies. He was just going through Omi’s trash. 

“I’ve had a lot going on,” Omi grumbles, and to his credit, anyone else would have believed that – nobody wants to cook when they’re stressed; take out is comforting, but Atsumu knows Omi. 

“Suit yerself then.” This is how it went when they first started spending time together, too. Omi was reluctant at first, but eventually, he started trailing behind Atsumu into the kitchen, observing at first, then helping. Omi didn’t lose too much cooking knowledge in the accident, because there wasn’t much to lose in the first place, but Atsumu did get used to having an assistant in cooking their dinners.

For a while, they exist in silence, and Atsumu makes himself at home, a little bemused that Omi is so...okay with this. Omi eventually drops his phone and wanders over to the counter,  blanket still draped around his shoulders.

“It’s gonna be summer in a few weeks, Omi, yer really somethin’ else walkin’ around like that,” Atsumu comments, but he turns his head back to his cooking so Omi doesn’t see the smile he can’t hold back.

Omi chooses to ignore him, but he lingers by the counter, and Atsumu can feel his eyes on his back. He continues to work, reminds himself that he’s used to this, that Omi watches him all of the time, but he can’t help but feel like this is an entirely new sensation. 

Omi clears his throat. “You’ve said we were friends in the past.”

“Yeah, we were – we are. Not the past, unless yer countin’ a few weeks ago as the past.” Atsumu keeps himself steady, but his heart is threatening to burst out of his chest again. 

“How?” asks Omi, and it’s such a simple question that requires a novel’s worth of explanation that Atsumu can not give him.

He thinks about it for a beat, not too long that he’ll leave Omi wondering, and then settles on the easiest truth, “It kinda just happened one day, I guess.”

Omi raises an eyebrow, prompting him for more, and Atsumu hums. He idly flips the vegetables he’s cooking, and then continues, “I was pretty persistent with ya – I’ve always thought a team should be like a family, and everyone should love each other, but when ya joined...ya were a little reserved. You were a part of the family the moment ya joined, so I just thought I could be the one to get ya to actually think so.” 

Omi snorts. “I bet it was annoying. I’m glad I don’t remember.”

Atsumu rolls his eyes, but the smile stays on his lips. “It worked, didn’t it? Well, I guess ya can’t say for sure, but I’ll tell ya – it worked, and it wasn’t just me doin’ all the work, Omi! You contributed plenty to the friendship buildin’.” 

“I can’t imagine that,” Omi muses, “But I don’t know why you would go so far to lie to me about it, and you seem...comfortable in this kitchen. I can tell you’ve been here before.”

“A few times, yeah,” Atsumu whispers, because if he speaks the words any louder, he may cry. He focuses on plating their food. 

Omi watches him work, waits until everything is ready and he’s handed his portion, before speaking again. “I’m not going to just jump back into things.”

“Huh?”

Omi gestures in Atsumu’s direction. “This. If this – if we really are friends, then fine, but I’m not comfortable just pretending that I remember.”

Atsumu feels his mouth drop open, just a little. He shuts it quickly. “That’s fine!” he assures him. “That’s fine, Omi. I’m just happy yer not kickin’ me out again.”

“I still might. I haven’t decided.”

“I thought you were sayin’ we can be friends again!”

“That doesn’t give you immunity from being kicked out.”

“You don’t kick yer friends out of places!” Atsumu protests, but he knows that Omi has and will kick him out again in the future. He raises his hands in surrender. “Alright, alright – but we are friends, then?” 

“Friends,” Omi agrees, curtly. Atsumu shoves his food into his face to keep from crying out in joy. 

Friends. Yeah. That’ll work, for now. Atsumu can be Omi’s friend. 

Chapter Text

Atsumu gets home after 10 PM. 

He feels like a schoolboy coming home late from a date, jaw sore from smiling, cheeks permanently tinted pink. He spent the entire evening with Omi and only left because his traitorous body couldn’t hold back the yawns. Omi banished him, but not before admonishing him for his sleep schedule – which is ridiculous because he doesn’t even know that Atsumu likes to stay up late rewatching the same anime he’s seen six times or watching his highlight videos, he’s just assuming.

It makes Atsumu feel warm inside – like little seeds of memories may be breaking out of the darkness in Omi’s brain and planting themselves once again.

Now that Omi has decided to officially give Atsumu another chance at friendship, he’s much more open. They kept up a lazy conversation for the duration of the night, switching topics depending on what caught their interest. Omi asked plenty of questions, though they stayed mostly in the realm of volleyball, orbiting around the Black Jackals and their play-style. It was safer that way, to stick with a subject that’s neutral, a common denominator between both of them for their entire lives. Atsumu can talk about volleyball without the risk of oversharing and letting details slip – details that friends shouldn’t know, flashbacks that Omi wouldn’t remember. 

Volleyball is the one thing that Atsumu can speak mindlessly about, with no tip-toeing or second-guessing.

“Ya already know how Tobio and Wakatoshi play, and probably Hoshiumi too, right?” Omi nodded. “Ya just gotta learn the others – here, lemme pull up some of Romero’s highlights. He’s a monster.”

Omi hadn’t responded, but he was worrying his lip like he did when he was anxious, so Atsumu paused in his search.

“Ya know ya don’t have to play if ya don’t think yer ready,” he pointed out. “You were in a car accident and ya lost a chunk of yer life, and just got yer arm outta a sling. Nobody would be mad at ya if ya sat this one out.”

Omi scoffed. “You obviously need me. Without me, they’re going to destroy you.”  

“Jeeze, glad ya didn’t forget your ego.” 

Omi smirked. He stopped biting his lip and sunk further into the couch. “I’ll be ready. Show me Romero.” 

Things fell into a relaxed rhythm after that and time passed with YouTube’s autoplay feature taking them from video to video. They ended up far away from the Adlers, watching foreign players and random interview clips, but Atsumu wasn’t bothered one bit. The night was winding down too soon for his taste, but Omi had taken notice of the tired slump in Atsumu’s shoulder and the constant yawning and threatened to kick him off the couch if he dared to fall asleep on it.

While Atsumu gathered himself together, Omi cleared his throat. 

“I apologize for how I’ve acted towards you.” The admission was quieter than usual, but Omi met Atsumu’s eyes without wavering. Omi hated apologizing – he would only do it if he had the utmost certainty that he was entirely at fault, and so true apologies were few and far between. Atsumu held his gaze with wonder as Omi continued. “The first few days after the accident were...rough, and I was unnecessarily rude to you.” 

Atsumu knew then that he absolutely had to go home before he did something stupid like cry or try to hug him. 

“‘S okay, Omi. I didn’t let it get to me.” 

Omi inclined his head once. Atsumu should’ve left then, but he still lingered, held back by the magnetic force that Omi was to him. Leaving his apartment still felt so wrong when he had his own spot in Omi’s bed. 

“Are ya worried about tomorrow?” he asked, to steal a few more minutes of his time. 

“No,” Omi answered, petulant and with no hesitation. He walked Atsumu to the door but instead of shooing him out, he frowned, as if searching for his own way to keep him here longer.

Atsumu was probably just projecting. 

“It’s just...weird,” Omi settled on. “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to behave.”

“Just behave how ya would’ve with yer collegiate team,” Atsumu suggested. “I dunno how they were, but I imagine ya were comfortable around them.”

Omi shrugged. “Relatively.”

“Well, just be yerself, Omi. Nobody is expectin’ anythin’ from ya. The team is gonna act like total freaks around ya, but ya need to know that’s not because of the amnesia – they’re all just freaks.”

Omi rolled his eyes, but he smirked. Atsumu was racking up smiles the whole night. 

“Night, Omi,” he told him at the door.

“See you tomorrow, Miya.”

Atsumu smiles to himself now thinking about it, and for the first time in weeks, he falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. 

 

-x-

 

Atsumu wakes up like a kid on a snow day, filled with the kind of excitement that makes him want to hop out of bed and run to the window to press his face against the cool glass. He slept...incredibly well, without waking up once, uninterrupted by the usual dreams that plague him. It’s a strange feeling – to be fully rested after so many weeks of running on half-empty, weighed down by the ever-present dread in his stomach.

He’s feather-light now and if he didn’t keep his feet firmly planted on the ground, he thinks he may float away with how giddy he is. 

Last night was entirely casual – a normal occurrence for two teammates and friends. They ate, they watched videos, and Atsumu left. He’s done the same thing a million times before and yet, and yet, and yet…

He can’t keep the smile off his face whenever he thinks about it. 

It’s progress, plain and simple and it’s moving at a much faster rate than things did the first time around. Atsumu latches onto that and holds it close – Omi is warming up to him faster because somewhere, deep down, he has to know him. Not the Atsumu from high school, with the box-dyed hair and Main Character Syndrome that caused him to act so obnoxious, but the one he snuggled close to early in the morning and whispered sweet things into his ear. 

Omi has to know that version of him, somewhere. 

Atsumu just has to pull it out of him. 

He dresses in his practice clothes quickly, bouncing on the soles of his feet and checking his phone every fifteen seconds for signs of life from Omi. It’s not like they’re just going to suddenly start texting, but Atsumu has to make sure he’s available, just in case.

He could just run upstairs and knock on his door. They’re going to the same place so it would make sense, but it feels a bit like overkill. He doesn’t want to suffocate Omi with his friendship, especially when he made it clear that he wouldn’t jump back into things. Atsumu knows he can be a bit overwhelming – Samu told him as much, back in high school, with scathing insults after a juvenile fight. Kita reiterated it later, with gentle words that somehow hurt more than being punched. He’s tried to hold himself back ever since, but there are some things in life that Atsumu struggles to contain himself in. Volleyball is one of them, Omi is another. 

He decides against it. It’s only their second official day of being friends. Walking to and from practice together comes later.

It’s not just the fear of freaking Omi out that keeps Atsumu away. If he’s being honest with himself, it’s hard to be friends with Omi. 

Atsumu, as it seems, has lost some of his memories as well. He doesn’t remember  how to be just friends. 

It was easy when he was being cautious, afraid to say anything that would get him kicked out of Omi’s room, or apartment, or life, but now that he’s opened up to the idea of them being friends, and Omi is willingly spending time with him, Atsumu is struggling. 

It’s probably the same reason why it’s so hard for anyone to be friends with their ex – there’s too much muscle memory, too much history etched into the deepest recesses of Atsumu’s brain. He could barely sit on the couch next to Omi last night because all of his instincts told him to close the distance between them and lean his head against his shoulder. He gripped his own thigh to keep himself from laying his hand on Omi’s. The whole thing was a conscious effort. Every time they made eye contact, Atsumu wanted to lean in and steal a kiss, wanted to link their pinkies, or play with Omi’s curls.

Atsumu was always a touchy person, but he could control himself before Omi came around. In fact, a lot of his control was  for Omi. Atsumu wanted to be completely sure Omi was fully cool with him touching him before he jumped into it, and so he practiced his restraint – though it wasn’t necessary.

Now, he’s long past ruined. His body craves the little touches, the reassurance that Omi is his, even if his brain knows he isn’t right now.

So, walking Omi to practice probably isn’t the best idea, but that’s okay. He’s going to see him in a little while anyway. They’re going to get to play together again. A few weeks may as well have been a lifetime with how much Atsumu was missing being together on the court. 

This is probably the happiest he’s been to be awake for morning practice. He loves his job. He loves volleyball. He doesn't love early mornings, and usually, it takes the entirety of his walk to the gym and a full mug of coffee to properly wake up. 

This morning, he’s running on a full night of sleep and unadulterated joy. He’s whistling – it’s 8 AM and he’s whistling to himself. If Omi were here, he’d probably stick his hand to his forehead to check for a fever, or accuse him of being someone else. 

He stops at a convenience store to pick up an onigiri and sends a picture to Samu with the caption, much better than yours. 

It isn’t, but being in a good mood always makes him want to mess with Samu. 

He barely makes it out of the store before his phone is ringing and the ugliest selfie he has of Samu is flashing on his screen. 

“Ya talk a lot of shit for someone whose ass I can still easily kick.”

“How are ya gonna kick my ass from a whole train ride away?” Atsumu challenges. “And isn’t it too early for yer bitchin’?”

He’s grumbling, but he’s pleased. Samu’s been calling him again and sending more than just emojis or a few words in his text messages. Atsumu hopes that means he’s finally dropped the incident from a few weeks ago.

“You started it,” Samu snaps. “Actin’ like some store-bought shit can beat me homemade. Asshole. Are ya goin’ to practice? Ya sound good.”

“I am good,” Atsumu asserts. “Why wouldn’t I be good?”

“I dunno, sometimes I feel like I gotta drop by yer apartment unexpected so I can make sure ya aren’t starvin’ yerself in yer room again.” He sighs. “But I don’t wanna know what I could walk in on, and yer an adult, so if ya say yer fine, then yer fine. I can’t spend all my time worryin’ about ya or I’ll go gray naturally and I’m over that look.” 

“I thought it was a good look,” Atsumu says, decidedly ignoring everything else that his brother just admitted. Apparently, he hasn’t let go of it yet. He and Samu are pretty good with emotions, usually, but this is a slippery slope, and Atsumu doesn’t want to give anything away. The easiest way is to just divert the subject.

It works, because Samu snorts. “Moron. I’m comin’ to see ya for the Adlers game. Settin’ up a stand again.” 

“Yeah? I did draw ya in a big crowd last time,” Atsumu boasts. “Yer welcome, by the way.”

“Fuck off, I don’t profit off yer fame. I earn it all myself.”

“Alright, Onigiri Miya.

“Yer not as famous as ya think ya are, I promise.” 

“Yeah, yeah,” Atsumu sings with a mouth full of onigiri. He hopes Samu can hear him chewing so he knows how much he’s enjoying it. “Why don’t ya come a few days early? We can do somethin’ in the city. Shoyo and Bokun have been askin’ when yer comin’ around again. Apparently, Akaashi is dyin’ for ya to make him something new.” 

“Ya better tell Bokun to get a second job if he wants to support that man’s addiction,” Samu comments. There’s a pause. “I can’t come early, I’ve got business in Tokyo.” 

“Ah, for the new shop? I thought ya said ya wanted to be more hands-off with that one? Unless you’re in Tokyo for a different reason.”

“Mind yer business,” Samu snaps, defensive, and Atsumu’s eyebrow shoots up. That’s interesting. “It’s for the shop. Gotta make sure the new manager is doin’ his job right.”

There’s something off in Samu’s voice. He’s mumbling, drawling his words in a cluster so they’re hard to make out, like he does when he’s trying to lie. 

Atsumu says trying because Samu is the worst liar – he can’t do it, says the guilt eats him alive and so when he has to, he avoids speaking clearly, like the muddled words will shield him from his sins. Whenever they got in trouble and had to cover something up from their mom, Atsumu would be the one to come up with the story while Samu stood behind him and nodded vigorously. 

It doesn’t matter that Samu sucks at lying, though, because he’s never needed to lie to Atsumu. 

But now – Samu is lying to him about what he’s doing in Tokyo, and it leaves a sour taste in Atsumu’s mouth.

What a shitty, murky feeling. It clouds his day and lowers his mood – he’s such a hypocrite. He’s going to have to buy Samu an entire platter of fancy sushi to make up for his lies. 

“Alright, that’s fine, we’ll go out after the game.”

Atsumu hears a faint noise in the background, a shuffling, and then a bleary, deep voice calling, “Osamu?” 

Atsumu gasps. “Who’s that – Osamu, who the fuck was that?!” 

He yanks his phone away from his ear and slams down on the button to switch to FaceTime. He did it quickly enough that he may catch Samu by surprise and he’ll accidentally accept it. 

Hush, you.” No such luck. Samu is hissing into the line.

“Who?”

Samu must mute him because he hears nothing in response, not even background noise. Atsumu shouts his name into the phone until he unmutes him. “I said hush.

Atsumu is positively gleeful. His brother is sleeping with someone. That’s what he’s being cryptic about – Samu has a secret Tokyo boy. 

Sometimes, he and Samu are so alike it’s odd.

Atsumu is still going to taunt him within an inch of his life for this. “Who was it, Samu, who’s in yer bed?”

“Yer the worst. I ask myself every day what I did in my past life to deserve someone like you as a twin.” Atsumu can hear him pacing.

“Tell me.”

“A stranger, fuck off,” Samu whispers urgently. “Now stop talkin’ about it. I don’t bug you for the details of yer sex life.” 

“I would tell ya if ya did!” 

It’s a confident lie because Atsumu knows exactly what Samu’s next answer will be.

“No thanks, I’d rather die.”

Atsumu smiles to himself, smug. 

It is decidedly unlike Samu to sleep with a stranger, but Atsumu knows he hasn’t had time for dating with everything going on. The restaurant demands his full attention, and anything left goes to Atsumu and to their parents. He must’ve been getting desperate and picked up someone last time he was in Tokyo.  

“Is he at least a pretty stranger?”

“I beg ya, again, to fuck off,” he whines. “Ya know damn well I have high standards.”

Atsumu laughs. He’s not done teasing yet, has about six more jokes he could make, but Samu cuts him off with a casually-posed question. 

“So, how’s Sakusa?”

Atsumu stops laughing so suddenly that his brain rattles. He nearly screeches to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk from his whiplash. The frown is evident in his voice when he asks, “Why’re ya askin’ me about him? It’s not like he talks to me or anythin’.” 

“Ya been visitin’ him upstairs lately?” 

“No, not often – wait.” Atsumu’s stomach drops. “I didn’t tell ya I lived in the same complex as him.” 

“But that was him ya ran out to see that day, right?” Samu has him in a trap and Atsumu walked right into it. Samu is in full-on interrogation mode and Atsumu is going to have to craft a whole new web of lies to get out of this. Damn it. “He’s the neighbor, isn’t he?”

“Uh, yeah, who cares?” Atsumu lands just shy of defensive, though he was aiming for the clear territory of disinterested. “He needed help with somethin’.”

“I thought he hated ya now.” Samu questions. “Why would he ask you?”

“Because we live in the same complex, Samu,” Atsumu groans. “Meian told him to go to me for shit. I’m like his babysitter.” The lie drops like a rock in his stomach. “We’re cool now, though. He doesn’t hate me anymore.” 

He doesn’t know how to explain to Samu the situation that is his budding friendship with Omi. Samu wouldn’t understand why Atsumu is going out of his way to befriend someone who, according to the few times he’d mentioned Omi to Samu, ‘is hardly tolerable’. 

God, it was so hard not to run his mouth about Omi to Samu that he talked shit just to be able to say his name. It wasn’t what he wanted – he wanted those K-drama moments, where he could spill every sweet thing Omi did, knowing Samu would react with disbelief and barely contained disgust. He settled, though, for at least getting to tell Samu something about Omi, even if it was that they were at each other’s throats all of the time. Atsumu didn’t like keeping secrets.

“Ya like him any better this time around?”

“Don’t say it like that, Samu,” Atsumu bites because he can’t help it. “He’s the same person. Two years isn’t even that many memories lost.”

It’s just two years Atsumu spent intertwining himself so intricately to Omi so that he’s missing part of his identity without him. 

Samu hums. “Guess so. Everyone’s wonderin’ how he’ll play in yer Adlers game. Guess we’ll see.” 

“Yeah, we’ll see. When are ya goin’ to see Kita this month?”

Samu takes the subject change without any further questioning and Atsumu breathes out a silent sigh of relief. He talks with Samu for a few more minutes, mostly about work and about home, and Atsumu hangs up feeling like his good mood was snuffed out like a candle before bedtime.

He’d underestimated how much Samu was paying attention. Somehow, he got his hands on the information that Omi lived in his complex – the terrifying part is the how.

The thing about Samu is that he’s smart – real smart. He had the better grades and always kicked Atsumu’s ass in trivia games. Samu is smart, but he’s so damn lazy that nobody ever sees it coming. Atsumu knows better – he’s had this knowledge his whole life, and yet he still falls into the false sense of confidence.

At some point, in a passing moment, Atsumu must have done something to convince Samu that his relationship with Omi is something to be suspicious of. 

Atsumu has to shut that down before it can become anything – he can’t explain this to Samu when the situation is as fragile as it is. He’s not doing anything to mess things up with Omi, and that includes revealing the secret of their relationship, even if Omi wouldn’t have any idea about it.

Samu will only keep up the investigation into Atsumu’s life if he gives him a reason to. Atsumu is going to have to up his game. He’ll send him daily pictures of him eating and make sure he’s never pictured without his sixty-four-ounce water bottle. He’ll take videos of himself at practice so Samu can see he’s in top form and forget that he was ever unwell and that it may have had something to do with Omi.  

By the time he nears the gym, he’s gone from euphoric to slightly on edge, and not just because of Samu. Omi is joining practice for real today – he’s going to hit Atsumu’s sets. Will there be a learning curve – clumsy fumbles of the ball until they get reacquainted with each other’s style, or will it snap back into place like a magnet? Something that the body can’t forget. He’s as excited as he is nervous, but he plasters on his easiest smile as he walks through the door and shouts his greeting to his teammates, scattered about in a circle on the floor. 

Atsumu’s eyes seek out Omi immediately and he finds him on the bench with Coach Foster, head bowed, listening. 

Atsumu pretends he isn’t staring and then plops down next to Shoyo, who’s in the middle of speaking while he waves his arms above his head in a slow stretch.

“I hope everything goes well.” He’s fretting, which is typical of Shoyo. Apparently, three of his seniors in high-school had dad-like attributes that wore off on him. Atsumu gets it. “He’s not very responsive to texts, so I’m worried he might try to shut us all out.”

“That’s exactly what he did the first time,” Inunaki assures him, adjusting his knee-pads. “So we’re well-equipped.” 

“I don’t think ignoring your memes is shutting you out,” Tomas comments. 

“It absolutely is – in the worst way!” protests Bokun.

“Regardless of how he behaves, just treat him like you always have treated him.” Meian watches them all with a weary look in his eye. “You don’t have to pretend he’s a stranger, but be understanding if he isn’t up to speed immediately.”

Atsumu rolls his eyes at that. They have nothing to worry about. He’s more than confident that Omi – who is a walking volleyball encyclopedia – is going to be just fine. He says as much. “Omi’s a fast learner, just like the rest of ya.” 

“He better be,” Barnes says. “I don’t want to lose to Romero another time.”

“Yeah, I’ve gotta kick Tobio’s butt!” Shoyo declares. “I’m only ahead by one match now.”

Atsumu keeps his mouth shut because he’s tempted to boast, to brag to them all that Omi is fully prepared to go all out today and wash away any doubt that his teammates have about the skills he retained. The looks on their faces will be more satisfying if he keeps to himself, anyway.

“Atsumu, come here a moment.”

Atsumu startles and looks up like a deer in headlights to where Coach Foster is beckoning to him. He blanches a little. Coach Foster is not by any definition  scary but Atsumu lives in constant fear of him regardless. It’s the gentle way he speaks – reminds him of Kita. 

“Atsumu is about to get cut,” Bokun teases and Atsumu shoots him a withering glare.

“Don’t jinx me now.”

“No way Coach would ever cut the one person who can handle Hinata, Bokuto,  and Sakusa,” Inunaki says confidently. “Well, the jury is out on Sakusa.”

“If he kicks me off the team, I’m gonna tell him ya wanna learn how to set,” Atsumu snarks and Inunaki shakes his head in horror. 

Atsumu snorts and jumps to his feet. Coach Foster is waiting for him, with Omi at his side, arms crossed in a show of mild unease. Atsumu jogs over, and right as he approaches, he sees the tension seep out of his expression, just slightly but enough that Atsumu catches it. His heart patters happily. 

“Yessir?” 

“I want you to be Kiyoomi’s partner until he gets more comfortable with the rest of the team.”

Atsumu’s shock is replaced instantly with a grin. This is all too much for just two days. He’s going to short-circuit. With him and Omi now in friendship territory, Atsumu doesn’t think he needs an excuse to spend time with him, but he’ll surely take one if it drops into his lap. He tries to catch Omi’s eye and is pointedly ignored.

“Absolutely,” he replies with a nod. “I’m honored ya would give me the responsibility.”

Omi glares at him now, annoyed. He’s holding back from rolling his eyes in front of Coach Foster, Atsumu can tell. His own smile remains set in place. 

“It was Kiyoomi’s idea, actually,” Coach Foster says, like it’s casual, like Atsumu’s heart didn’t just explode out of his body. Omi still won’t look at him. “Make sure he’s prepared for the Adlers game. I want extra practice, at least thirty minutes every day, alright?”

Atsumu and Omi echo their assent and Atsumu feels sky-high. The universe must have decided he’s suffered enough because it’s throwing him win-after-win. When faced with the choice of having to have someone teach him, Omi chose  Atsumu.

If he smiles any harder, his teeth are going to shatter. 

Coach Foster blows the whistle for them to get started, and Atsumu nods to Omi.

“Buddy system, huh?” he teases.

Omi side-eyes him, making sure to look as dry and humorless as possible. “Don’t make me regret it.”

“Nah, ya won’t. C’mon, Omi,” he says, too cheeky for his own good. He can’t help it. “Show ‘em ya remember.”

Omi does. He’s still a bit stiff around the other members of the team as they all rush to greet him, but once they’re in position on the court, he loosens up all at once. This is volleyball – this is Omi’s element and he reverts right back to it like there was never a disconnect. He moves fluidly with the rest of the team, reacts to every shift and call like it’s second-nature, and when Atsumu shouts his name, Omi is there, right under the ball. 

“Nice, Kiyoomi!” Coach Foster yells from the sidelines and Atsumu sees Omi preen, then very quickly try to pretend he’s unaffected. Omi likes praise, though he’d probably sooner die than admit it to anyone but Atsumu. The team has been giving their encouragement all morning, but glares from Meian keep them from reaching out like they’ve grown accustomed to. 

Atsumu’s own restraint is trained from over a year of not being able to touch Omi how he wants to in public, but it wavers now more than ever. He aches to at least give him a high-five, or a pat on the shoulder, desperate for even the tiniest bit of contact. Usually, they could get away with sneaking around a bit, the first ones in or the last ones out, so Atsumu didn’t crave too much, but now he’s been high and dry without anything from Omi in weeks, and his body is starting to go haywire. 

He’s not the only one having to acclimate.

Shoyo is the first one to slip up, rocketing up into the sky and landing right next to Omi. He’s too short to reach his shoulders, so he pats Omi’s arms. “You’re killing it today, Omi!”

Omi’s recoil is minuscule, but Shoyo zeroes in on it. 

“Ah! Sorry. You’re pretty cool about touching now, so I didn’t think about it. Well, maybe not cool, but you don’t glare at us anymore, but I forgot that you’re still catching up, and I’ll totally back off – ”

“It’s fine, Hinata,” Omi says calmly. “I’m sure it’s just as much of an adjustment for you as it is for me.” 

“I’ll be better, promise!” Shoyo bows twice and scurries away. Atsumu doesn’t miss that ever-present frustration flaring up in Omi’s eyes. He shakes it off a moment later and gets back into the game.

It’s a good practice. Spirits are high, and Omi has begun to melt. He’s awkward as all hell, but Atsumu can tell he’s trying. The politeness gives way to that blunt way that is so quintessentially Omi, and everyone is happier for it. 

“That’s right, Sakusa, bitch at him!” Inunaki hollers when Omi snaps at Bokun for nearly crashing into him. Omi apologies profusely afterward, probably because Bokun always looks like he’s about to cry when he gets told off and Omi isn’t used to that. It eases some of the strain and Bokun ends up laughing about it, declaring that he’s glad Omi is still keeping him in line.

The morning ends as it always does, with cooldowns and stretches, but Atsumu and Omi stay on the court. 

“Don’t practice too long,” Meian warns them before he goes. “You have to be back here in a few hours.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Atsumu grunts as he tosses up a ball into the air. When Omi slams it down, he smiles to himself and flexes his wrist. Atsumu smiles too. 

They lose track of time, just the two of them in an empty gym, the only sound the echoing of the ball as it hits the floor again and again. Atsumu is beginning to feel fatigue set in and Meian is right – they do have to be back here in a matter of hours. They’re on overtime before the Adlers game, with two-a-days and mandatory gym sessions and Atsumu thrives in it all, but he’s no machine. Neither is Omi, and Atsumu can tell he’s hitting a wall too. He’s drenched in sweat, breaths coming out in heavy pants, and his hand keeps ghosting over to his newly healed arm.

“Ya know, ya’ve got two weeks, Omi,” Atsumu reminds him. “Ya could take a break if yer gettin’ tired.”

“No,” Omi answers. “Give me another.”

When he’s finally had enough, they both collapse onto the floor, their exhausted breaths mingling in the air. Atsumu could fall asleep just like that – wouldn’t be the first time he knocked out on a gym floor, but Omi grumbles at him to get up and stretch so he doesn’t pull a muscle. 

They sit across from each other in a light, comfortable silence, with both of them reveling in their individual successes – Omi, from showing everyone that he is still very much a threat, and Atsumu, still basking in the wonder of having Omi so willing to be near him. 

They’re halfway through when Omi clears his throat.

“The touching thing,” he begins, and it’s clear he doesn’t want to have this conversation. Atsumu wants to tell him he doesn’t have to, but Omi soldiers on. “I don’t know how much I told you about it, before, but you obviously know something since you mentioned it.”

“Yeah.” Atsumu keeps his voice steady, casual. “I mean, we all kinda know about it, but I remember how ya were in high school and you’ve come a long way since then.”

Omi grimaces. “College was a turning point for me.” Atsumu knows this story, but he lets Omi tell it – he needs to. “Still, even with therapy and exposure and spending four years on a team full of men with no boundaries…”

Atsumu snorts. Omi pulls his arm above his head and continues. “I worried it would be more...prominent, but it’s not. I barely flinched when Hinata touched me.” 

“That’s a good thing, right?”

Omi hums, an unsure sound, and Atsumu thinks that may be all he gets out of him, but then he continues. “It’s difficult to reconcile that I would be so okay with strangers touching me. They’re not technically strangers, but to me…”

“Maybe ya remember more than yer brain is lettin’ on,” Atsumu says softly, hopefully. 

“Maybe.” Omi rolls over and pulls his legs up, stretching out his calves, and Atsumu turns his head so that Omi won’t see the blush forming on his cheeks. He coughs once and then brings his head down to his knee, hiding in the stretch. When he comes back up, Omi is watching him.

He looks away and they both pretend not to notice.

“I need more practice,” Omi says, to change the subject. Atsumu is grateful for the distraction because all of his nerves appear to be burning him right now. “Now that everybody knows about my...condition,” he scowls at the word, “The Adlers game is going to be my second debut. I need to be perfect.”

“It will be,” Atsumu assures him. “We’ve got over two weeks, and ya already look good out there.”

Atsumu doesn’t know what’s real and what’s in his head and it’s going to lead him to insanity or an early grave. He sees Omi’s face, catches the hint of gratitude there, the softness in his expression, but then it’s gone, and Atsumu is left to wonder if it was a figment of his imagination. 

Atsumu’s Omi is a marshmallow hidden away under a steel exterior, and it took months for Atsumu to chip away at him. It can’t be this easy, not after everything they’ve lost. 

Perhaps it could be that easy, and Atsumu is the one making it hard. 

“We’ll practice as much as ya want. I’m always free.”

“Ah, right, no life outside of volleyball,” Omi mimics Atsumu’s dig from yesterday, and Atsumu swats at the air in his general direction. It’s so natural – the proximity, the banter.  

“Yup, I’m not ashamed. The more I practice, the better I get. You were lookin’ scary out there today, Omi – I can’t fall behind ya.”

Omi snorts. “My serves felt good. I’m going to get more service aces than you in the game.”

Atsumu’s heart stutters so suddenly he’s surprised he doesn’t need CPR. A violent wave of Deja Vu overwhelms him, reminding him of this same conversation had in a different life. 

Atsumu smiles, a little melancholic. “Yer on, Omi.”

 

-x-

 

When they first got together, Atsumu didn’t mind keeping Omi a secret. It was covert, a little scandalous, two teammates dragging each other into storage closets or alleyways, grabbing at clothes and breathing in each other’s air in moments that only they would ever be privy to. It ignited a flame in Atsumu that burned brighter and brighter with each passing day of knowing that  he  was the only one who got to see this side of Omi.

There was so much to him that nobody knew. 

One of his favorite things to learn was just how clingy Omi is. Here was this person – blunt and stingy and imposing in every sense of the word, whose aura alone could send grown men on their opposing teams running, transforming into a kitten right before Atsumu’s eyes. He curled up in his lap, laid his head on his shoulder, played with Atsumu’s fingers when they held hands. He followed him around the apartment, called him five minutes after they parted ways, and sent him some form of meme every few minutes, just to keep them talking.

It delighted Atsumu to no end. Not only was he a stage-four clinger too, but Atsumu took pride in knowing that there was an entire facet of Omi’s personality that only he got to see. 

Atsumu missed Omi’s clinging. He’s always wanted to feel wanted, almost desperately so, and he never had to ask with Omi. 

Now, though, Omi has adopted a new brand of clinging and it’s torture like Atsumu has never experienced. 

After their first practice, Atsumu goes home ready to shovel leftovers into his mouth and pass out as close to his bed as he can get. He’s exhausted and aching from head-to-toe. He doesn’t expect to hear from Omi and has decided he will give him his space and not spam him with text messages just because he is technically allowed to now, so he puts his phone on the charger and mills about the kitchen.

It pings just as the microwave goes off. 

Atsumu meanders over, thinking it’s Samu or the group chat, but his eyes widen at Omi’s name on the screen. He shouldn’t still be this shocked; his heart shouldn’t catapult out of his chest, but the reality of his situation still hasn’t quite sunk in.

The text is simple. I want to work on our quick before practice tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another two-a-day, meaning morning practice starts at 8:30 AM. To get any significant practice, they would have to start at latest 7 AM.

Atsumu texts back immediately with a thumbs up, telling Omi he’ll meet him bright and early. He doesn’t even second-guess it. 

That’s how Atsumu ends up waking himself up at 5 AM the next day, disgruntled with the knowledge that he is entirely in love with one Sakusa Kiyoomi because there is no one else in the world he would do this for. 

They drill spikes, serves and receives for two hours before anybody else makes it to the gym. Atsumu is drenched in sweat and as sore as he’s ever been, but he’s wide-awake, because he’s spent the whole morning with Omi’s attention on him.

“The human body is a crazy thing,” Atsumu marvels, after Omi slammed down a serve that could kill someone. “It’s like ya didn’t forget anythin’.” 

Omi grins, uninhibited, with his hands on his hips and breath coming out in pants through his teeth. It’s gorgeous. 

Atsumu and Omi are in their own little world like this, needing only to communicate with compliments or critiques and hissed exclamations of success. It passes too quickly. 

The rest of their teammates file in, all varying states of awakeness. Shoyo drags his feet and chews on a bagel that’s hanging out of his mouth. Bokun is playing the role of the alarm clock, bursting with energy and shouting to Tomas, who has life slowly sparking in his eyes. 

Meian trudges in, the only one actually in practice clothes, though it does nothing to disguise the exhaustion on his face. He rubs his eyes and blinks Atsumu and Omi into focus. Surprise is written all over his face. 

“Have you two been practicing already?” 

“Yup, all mornin’,” Atsumu answers, just barely concealing a yawn. Omi side-eyes him and Atsumu feels the sudden need to sit up straighter. 

“I want to make sure I’m prepared for the game,” Omi explains.

“Seemed plenty prepared yesterday,” Barnes tells him, walking up wearing a pair of My Hero Academia pajama pants. “Try not to worry too much about it. You do not need to overwork yourself.”

He’d be better off telling a dog not to bark, Atsumu thinks. The rest of the team meanders over to them, stopping by on their way to the locker room. Inunaki, who never sleeps and is still somehow always full of energy, saunters up to them and smirks. 

“If you ever get sick of Miya, let us know,” he teases. “I know he’s annoying. I’ll practice receives with you.”

“For yer information, Coach assigned me to be Omi’s buddy, so fuck off,” Atsumu says without heat.

“Miya is fine,” Omi states. It’s not a kind proclamation, or anything that should make Atsumu feel warm and fuzzy, but he does. 

“Did he pay you to say that?” Inunaki prods. Shoyo and Bokun laugh. Atsumu chucks a volleyball in their general direction and they scatter away, giggling. Omi smirks too, a little one, and Atsumu can’t help his own smile from breaking out. 

They adopt a routine – early mornings and late nights. Both of their bodies are ready to give out, but Atsumu and Omi have their discipline in common. They have the same common goal, to keep moving until they reach the top. 

It’s probably what drew them to each other in the first place.

Atsumu worried so much about overwhelming Omi, but he’s the one who knocks them back into a routine reminiscent of the one they had before, with the added bonus that this one is not secretive. Before, Omi and Atsumu would leave practice at different times and meet up at one of their apartments, a restaurant, anywhere away from the prying eyes of their teammates. Now, Omi doesn’t care. He waits outside of their complex each morning, texting Atsumu to hurry up so they can go. They walk home together every evening, only parting ways when they get to the elevator.

On the fourth day, Omi stops them before they can make it home.

“This is the restaurant you brought me food from,” he points out, nodding up to the ramen shop a few feet in front of them. 

“Yeah! It’s great. One of my favorites.” 

“I’m hungry,” Omi mumbles, and Atsumu startles. 

“D’ya wanna get somethin’?” 

“I don’t know if I’ll make it home,” he mutters, dramatic, and Atsumu knows what he’s doing – he’s asking the question without saying the words, making Atsumu pick up on what he wants, and of course, Atsumu knows. 

“Let’s eat here then,” he decides for him, and Omi nods, clearly satisfied. 

Atsumu can’t believe how far he’s come in a short time with Omi. Just a few weeks ago, he stood in line at this shop, just thrilled to be given a reason to see Omi at all. Now, he needs no excuse. Omi seeks him out. He wants to spend time with him. It’s making him deliriously happy, teetering on the edge of ecstasy. 

It’s easier even than the first time around, though he and Omi didn’t go about their relationship in a normal way. It’s almost like a fresh start – a more wholesome beginning than he and Omi had before. Atsumu isn’t complaining – he didn’t mind being manhandled into a physical relationship by someone like Omi, and the first few months were nonstop, but this is...softer. It’s sweeter, and Atsumu thinks that even if Omi never gets his memories back, maybe he can make him fall in love, like this. 

Omi nearly falls asleep against the wall of the restaurant. Atsumu gets their food boxed up, and drops him off at his door, like a date. 

When Atsumu shuts his own door behind him, he sinks down onto the floor, completely beside himself. He’s too old to be acting like this, but he doesn’t give a damn. He’s giddy. 

He pulls up his camera app in a cloud of euphoria. “Omi-Omi,” he talks to the screen with a dopey smile. He looks like an idiot. Omi never cares – he’s always liked him anyway. “I think today is the day I tell you about our first kiss.” 

It was like getting hit by a freight train. He and Omi had been dancing around each other for weeks, but it was all teasing, snarky banter and taunts. They competed with each other, got in each other’s faces, and drove each other crazy, but Atsumu never disliked Omi. He invigorated him, actually – drove Atsumu to fight harder, to be  better.  He didn’t realize the bubble of tension that was forming around them until Omi popped it unceremoniously, cornering him after practice one day and walking him backward into the lockers.

“Omi?” Atsumu squeaked out, and the feeling of being caged in with no escape fired off a stream of adrenaline. “Yer lookin’ at me like ya wanna – ”

“Like I want to what?” Omi inquired. Atsumu had a clear vision of his gaze– all molten, eyes just the slightest bit lidded as they flickered down from his eyes to his lips. 

“Like ya wanna do somethin’,” Atsumu breathed.

Omi’s smirk would star in Atsumu’s dreams for the next week. “I do want to do something.”

“Ya kissed me, just like that,” Atsumu tells the story. “And I thought ya might be rough, but you were real gentle, real slow. God, I miss kissin’ ya. I never got tired of it, no matter how many times we did it after that. I’d give anythin’ for another chance.” 

He purses his lips theatrically at the camera and air-kisses. Omi will find it ridiculous, but maybe he’ll smile, too. 

“We never really talked about it. I guess we didn’t have to. We were just all over each other, all the time, like we couldn’t get enough. Kissin’ didn’t cut it. I was addicted to ya. It sounds so dramatic but…” He runs his free hand through his hair. “Ya know, at first, I thought if I just got my fill of ya, I’d get over it – the frantic, desperate feelin’ of needin’ to be closer to ya, but I could never get close enough. I didn’t just want to fool around with ya, so the next logical step was to take ya out. We went to the ramen place on our first date – same place we went to tonight. Kinda poetic, right?” 

Atsumu is less nervous now, doing these videos for Omi, but this one feels kind of like baring his soul. It feels like he’s finally letting go of a secret, releasing it to the world and easing the tightness in his chest. 

“I love ya, Kiyoomi. I wish I had told ya before the accident, but I’m tellin’ ya now, and one day, I’ll get another kiss, and I’ll get ya to say it back to me.” 

He ends the video, feeling much more somber than when he started it. This night was a success, but Atsumu can’t shake the feeling that he’s just putting on an act. He’s pretending that he and Omi were nothing but friends. He’s lying to Omi, he’s lying to Samu, his parents and his teammates. He’s walking around tricking each and every one of them, day in and day out. He loves Omi. If Omi never loves him again – if he’s content with what they have, what they’re developing into, will Atsumu be able to live with it? 

He’s not supposed to be sad right now. It’s a stifling contrast to his early mood, but on-brand with the last few weeks. Atsumu has been on a rollercoaster and with the last few days with Omi, it’s just gone steadily up, up, up, but rollercoasters always have their drop. 

The higher he is, the harder he falls, and Atsumu is beginning to wonder how long he can climb. 

He can’t stop now, though. The high might be worth it, if he gets to stay with Omi right up to the top. The fall might be worth it, too. 

Atsumu starts a new video against his better judgment because he has to tell Omi what came after the kiss.

 

-x-

 

Atsumu is convinced that his limbs may start to fall off, one by one, in a protest for what he’s putting them through. Omi is a machine. Atsumu knew that, but this is a new level. Driven by an insane desire to send a giant ‘fuck you’ to everybody who doubts him online, Omi is in another dimension of discipline. If Atsumu didn’t drag him out of the gym, Omi wouldn’t leave.

A week before the Adlers game, Atsumu put up a white flag of surrender.

“Omi, I’m gonna die,” he says. “We gotta take a rest day. Or at least a rest night.” 

Omi frowns at him. He crinkles his nose when he frowns, like he’s disgusted. It reminds Atsumu of a grumpy bunny. 

“We only have seven days left.”

“We don’t need ya to kill them,” Atsumu insists. “With how yer training, ya probably could.” 

Omi doesn’t respond to that, but he lingers, making no move to gather his things. 

“What’s the matter? Are ya really that torn up about not practicin’?”

“No,” Omi snaps, then he sighs. “I don’t – I don’t like just sitting in my apartment. I feel antsy.” 

Atsumu doesn’t know how to respond to that. Omi has always been a homebody. He loves sitting around the apartment, likes movies so much that he owns physical copies of DVDs. He has every media subscription, an array of fuzzy blankets and at least twelve pairs of sweatpants. Atsumu has never seen anyone  more  settled in their space. For Omi to not want to sit still is unusual. 

“Ya get easily bored?” Atsumu asks casually, trying to prompt Omi into disclosing more without scaring him away from the conversation.

“It’s just not home yet, I’m sure,” Omi mumbles. “I haven’t had a chance – I don’t remember it, so.” He hesitates, and then blurts out, “It feels like something is missing and it’s driving me crazy because I can’t figure out what it is.”

Atsumu is glad they’re laying on the floor, alone after staying behind at practice again and far enough apart that Omi won’t be able to make out Atsumu’s expressions. Stupid, stubborn tears prickle at his eyes, and Atsumu blinks them away, staring up at the ceiling. 

He’s what’s missing from Omi’s apartment – the sound of their laughter, the smell of garlic cooking, the whispers before bed. Atsumu is what’s missing. He aches to tell him, to just say the words and take whatever consequences come with them. He could, but he can’t risk losing this. 

“Maybe ya need new decor?” he suggests, instead. Omi gives him a dry look.

“Yeah, new dish towels will really fill the void that the amnesia left,” he deadpans, and Atsumu can’t help the laugh that bubbles out of him. It might be a little frantic, but Omi doesn’t notice. 

“Miya,” Omi says after a moment. He’s sitting up now and Atsumu can see from his peripheral vision that he’s hugging his knees. “I don’t know how good of friends we are, or how often we spent time together, but this is...I hope it’s not too much.”

“What, hangin’ out with ya?” Atsumu jolts up now, incredulous. “I like hangin’ out with ya, and I’m never gonna say no to extra practice.”

“You just did, though.”

“It’s a life or death situation, Omi. I’m tired.

Omi worries his lip again, teetering on the edge of speaking. Atsumu sees the thoughts forming in his head before his eyes, the conflict and then the resolution as he blinks once, calmly, and then asks, “Maybe if I redecorate my apartment, it will help, like you said. I just don’t know where any home decor stores are…”

Atsumu grins. It’s exactly what he expected, exactly what he wanted. “Yer lucky ya have me then! I know a good one that Samu brought me to when I first moved to Osaka. I’ll take ya. Wanna go now?”

“We need to shower first. I hate showering in locker rooms.”

“Alright, I’m starvin’ anyway. Want me to make ya somethin’ while ya shower? Do ya have anythin’ in yer fridge?”

“Rice,” Omi answers. “Some vegetables. Meat in the freezer.” 

“I’ll make it work.” 

 

-x-

 

Atsumu once again forgets what it’s like to be without Omi. He lets the feeling fade away into the recesses of his mind, hopefully never to be seen again. He’s confident – he’s so confident, because Omi has been making excuses to spend time with him all week. 

He never outright asks, but that would be unlike him. Omi is too prideful to admit he enjoys Atsumu’s company, so he tells him with his actions. 

He complains about how he doesn’t want to cook, so Atsumu offers to come over and make them something. He uses the reasoning that Omi is paying for the food, so it’s a free meal, and Omi accepts that easily. Omi will mention offhandedly an errand he needs to run, grumbling about how he’ll have to find where it is, and Atsumu will offer to take him somewhere he knows. It’s gotten to the point that whenever they’re awake, they’re together.

Atsumu was so sure that he was going to drive Omi insane, scare him away, stress him out, but it never happens. For two weeks, it’s like nothing ever changed.

Well, except the constant awareness that they don’t touch, they don’t kiss, they don’t sit too close, that nags at Atsumu’s brain. He deserves an acting award for his perfect performance in the role of the unaffected friend. He knows he can’t complain – it’s much better than what it could be, but still Atsumu’s restless. By the time the game comes, he’s ready to crawl out of his skin.

He’s grateful it’s a home game. Atsumu thinks he may combust if he has to sit on a bus next to Omi anytime soon. He needs to convince Omi to fall in love with him again before that happens, because busses just have too much potential for touch, whether it be Atsumu’s finger brushing Omi’s thigh, or his head dropping against his shoulder. 

On the day of the game, the entire team is amped up in a rare, collective flow of energy. Even the quieter members are beating their chests and shouting on their way to the locker rooms. Omi is radiating nervous energy, but there’s determination, too. 

Atsumu opens his mouth to reassure him, but he’s cut off when all of the wind is forced out of his lungs, and he’s lifted into the air in a crushing hug.

“Help,” he manages in a gasp. Omi raises an eyebrow at him, but keeps walking. “Yer the worst friend!” he calls at his retreating back. The rest of his team turns around but nobody comes to his rescue. Traitors – all of them. “Who the fuck is grabbin’ me?”

“Such a rude response,” a familiar voice drawls. “Sad to hear that no matter how much time passes, you never get more polite.”

Atsumu’s heart soars. “Sunarin!”

He’s released and he spins around to meet Suna and Samu, both wearing matching sly grins, like they got away with a secret. Atsumu smacks them both, then gives them each a crushing hug.

“How are ya not gonna tell me you were bringin’ Sunarin with ya?!” Atsumu pokes Samu in the chest.

“Haven’t ya ever heard of a surprise?” Samu rolls his eyes. “I knew if I told ya you’d stress yerself out tryin’ to impress him.”

“No I wouldn’t,” Atsumu grumbles, even though he would. He’s been trying to one-up Suna for their entire lives, and he’s winning. He can’t ever afford to look sloppy in a game when Suna is in attendance, because he’ll roast him mercilessly for at least a month, publicly, all over the Internet. “I’m sure ya just came to scope out the competition. I’m gonna stomp yer ass in three weeks.” 

“Don’t you ever get tired of talking shit?” Suna wonders, looking bored by the threat.

“Not to you.” 

Suna sighs. “Dunno how you’re gonna stomp me, Tsumu – don’t think you’ll even get MVP this time around, what do you think, Samu?”

“He was decent last season,” Samu comments, “But nobody is gonna be lookin’ at anyone other than Sakusa.”

“If not Sakusa, then it’s probably going to be Bokuto,” Suna says.

“Maybe Hinata. His jumps are insane.”

“Inunaki is really good too.”

“Ya’ll are the worst,” Atsumu whines, but he’s still smiling. Nothing can bring down his mood right now. He’s amped-up, running on pure excitement. “Ya comin’ with us tonight, Sunarin?”

They’re going out with the rest of the team after the game – a mixture of Adlers and Jackals and the loved ones they’ve brought together. Shoyo planned it all and it’s all he’s been talking about for weeks. Atsumu hasn’t been out in  too  long, and he’s itching to be social – the only downside is that Omi doesn’t want to come. Atsumu had begged, a bit, but Omi shut him down. He used Motoya as an excuse, claiming they had about two-years worth of catching up to do and so they were going to dinner, and it’s not like Atsumu could argue with that.

He’ll find some way to see him afterward. He doesn’t think Omi will complain.

“Of course I am,” Suna answers. “I would never miss an opportunity to get you two drunk. I can only post so many throwback videos on my Instagram – I need fresh material.”

“Ya better not,” Samu groans. Then to Atsumu, he says, “I don’t wanna try to fight through the crowd of vultures that are gonna be on ya after the game, so let’s meet somewhere before.”

“Aren’t ya comin’ to my place?” Atsumu asks, confused. Samu always sleeps on his couch when he’s in town, and he’s sure he has a spare futon for Suna.

“Nah,” Samu answers. “Yer place is disgustin’, I got a hotel room.” 

“Me too,” Suna sings. “Sorry, Tsumu. I’ve heard horror stories from your brother about the state of your living space.”

“I cleaned it for ya, ya bastard,” Atsumu snaps at Samu. “Didn’t realize you were both tryin’ to burn money, or else I wouldn’t have offered.”

Samu waves him away. “Go get ready for yer game. If ya don’t properly warm up and let Tobio beat ya, I’ll remind ya about it until we die.”

Atsumu moves even slower, just to be a pain, and Suna kicks him in the shin. He hisses at them both and hops away, wounded. Samu and Suna’s laughter echoes behind him, and Atsumu smiles once again. By the time he reaches the locker room, most of his teammates are already gone. The only two who remain are Shoyo, who is sitting on one of the benches, tapping his foot nervously while typing away on his phone, and Omi. 

Omi has his head buried in his locker, pretending to look for something. Atsumu smiles fondly and approaches him. 

“All the extra practice paid off, ya know,” he tells him, because they still have a little time. “So ya can wipe the freaked out look off yer face.”

“I’m not freaked out.” Omi glares at him. “I don’t get nervous.”

“Yer nervous right now.”

“Shut up. You are too.”

“Very mature response, Omi. I guess ya can’t help it, though, ya’ve got college brain.” 

“I’m ten times more mature than you, and twice as educated.” 

“Ouch, my ego.” 

Omi snorts and Atsumu knows his plan has worked – Omi is in his head. Whenever he’s anxious, nervous, or stressed, Atsumu reverts to his true form of a clown, and does anything he can to make Omi laugh. Laughter is a universal healing, Kita told him once, after Atsumu laughed the tears of a loss away. 

A locker slams from somewhere behind them, and Atsumu is reminded they aren’t the only ones in the room. Shoyo glances quickly at Atsumu before jogging out of the room. 

Atsumu nods to Omi. “Now or never.”

“Yeah,” Omi answers.

“Hey, Omi, make sure ya hit all of my tosses.”

Omi rolls his eyes. “I don’t remember any time I’ve missed.” 

They join the rest of their team and Atsumu finds his peace, his zone of absolute concentration and serenity – he has nothing to worry about in this game. When he sets the ball, Omi will be there. 

 

-x-

 

Atsumu is high on all of it – the adrenaline of winning a five-set neck-and-neck match, the attention that he soaks in like sun rays, the whooping from his brother and Suna that he hears from the stands, clear as day, every time his serves slammed into the floor. His ears are ringing from the crowd and he’s light on his feet as he shakes hands with the Adlers, smiling just a bit smugly at Tobio. 

Cameras flash in all of their faces and interviewers flood the court, picking off players whenever they can. Atsumu spies Omi sneaking off into the locker room, accompanied by Meian, and breathes a sigh of relief. Omi did enough during the game – he went above and beyond his job, and showed the world that he hadn’t lost anything when it came to volleyball. There was no need for words when his actions said it all.

Atsumu dodges microphones skillfully, trained in the art of looking too busy. Atsumu wasn’t lying when he told Omi that he doesn’t have a scandal to his name, and that is because he avoids interviews at all costs. If the team isn’t there with him, it’s better he just not risk opening his mouth. 

 The rest of his teammates aren’t so lucky. Atsumu sips from his water bottle as he observes, overhearing snippets of conversation. They deflect questions about Omi and instead turn to safer topics, like statistics, like plays, like their history with each other. Shoyo and Tobio get interviewed together and Shoyo is beaming like he just won the Olympics. Tobio always gives off the appearance of being slightly constipated, but he takes the loss in stride, vowing to get his revenge.

It’s a routine that Atsumu has spent the last four years living and it’s so easy to get lost in. Atsumu has nearly no thoughts in his head as he treks over to the locker rooms, other than that – he loves this. He loves his team, loves this game, loves his Omi. He misses him already.

They were so in sync on the court, like one entity, like they always have been. 

The locker room is empty. Atsumu hums while he changes into sweats. He’ll shower when he gets home, but the sweaty clothes are uncomfortable on his skin – more of Omi’s fault, because Atsumu never used to notice things like that. 

He follows his post-practice ritual mindlessly, wandering around in a bit of a daze, floating. He pulls his t-shirt over his head and tosses his dirty clothes into his bag. When he turns around, he comes face-to-face with Omi. 

“Jeeze, ya scared me,” he gasps, but then Omi smiles. His hair is damp and he’s dressed similarly to Atsumu – casual and cozy and smiling, like so many times he’s seen before. “Omi,” he beams. “Ya did amazin’. Ya did so amazin!” 

And then Atsumu’s entire body reacts without thought. He grabs Omi by the shoulders and hugs him, and when he pulls away, he presses a light kiss to his lips, so natural, so normal, like nothing out of the ordinary at all. 

Reality crashes around him when Omi chokes out a surprised noise and Atsumu remembers where he is, and who he’s kissing. 

Atsumu rips himself away as if Omi burned him, and his stomach sinks. “I – ”

Omi is staring at him, confusion etched all over his face. He slowly brings up a hand to his mouth and touches his lips. 

This isn’t his Omi. How could he have forgotten? 

“That was...I didn’t mean to...fuck, I’m so sorry.” 

Atsumu’s vision is beginning to blur. His instinct takes over and he gives Omi one last panicked glance before tucking tail and running out of the room. His heartbeat thunders, blocking out the noises of those that still remain in the stadium. Someone calls his name – he thinks it’s Shoyo, but he doesn’t hear what comes after. He doesn’t hear anything over the rushing in his ears. He can’t think about anything else – just the despair that crushes his lungs, that cuts out his vision and clouds his brain. He ruined it – he ruined it.

Fresh air hits him and he inhales in a gulp. In and out. He knows how to breathe. In and out. 

There are too many people around him, so he ducks into the side of the stadium, tucking himself into a corner and sinking to the ground. He hugs his knees and hides his head between them, counting his breaths, but it’s not working.

He kissed Omi. He kissed him, like he had no self-control, like he temporarily lost his mind. 

That must be it. The stress of keeping up this charade finally cracked him and he self-destructed, and now everything he’s built up with Omi over the past several weeks will crumble. 

And he can’t even cry – he can’t because people swarm around him, their feet trampling the ground that he sits on, their laughter bouncing off the wall his back is pressed against. Lives continue in the background while Atsumu’s falls to pieces. 

He needs to keep it together. He’s already spiraled once and he promised Samu he wouldn’t put him through that again. Samu – Samu and Suna are waiting for him, and Atsumu is having a panic attack on the concrete outside of the stadium where he just won his first game of the season.

He has to do something about this – has to fix it somehow, but he can’t think straight. The thought of seeing Omi again now is paralyzing. Will he avoid him? Will he reach out? Will he hit him and tell him he’s disgusting? 

Is the chance of friendship – of something more, eventually – ruined forever?

Atsumu rubs a hand over his eyes. He breathes. He can handle this. He’s talked himself down from so many panic attacks that it should be second nature, but he’s entirely disarmed, hands shaking with every movement, heart hammering in his chest. 

He doesn’t know how he can function normally right now, but knows he has to for Samu, Suna and the rest of his team’s sake. Atsumu needs to forget, has to wipe this clean from his brain, just for one night.

He gulps in one last breath and stands up on unsteady feet.

Chapter Text

The crowd that surrounds Samu’s pop-up Onigiri Miya stand makes it easy to find, but Atsumu still lingers on the outskirts. He needs to allow himself another few minutes of miserable overthinking before he has to force himself into normal behavior. He thinks he’s a good enough actor to pull it off, but the thought of smiling and snarking with his best friends right now is a daunting task. 

Atsumu watches instead. It helps calm him down, to see his brother so at peace. Atsumu rarely gets to see him these days, and the last time they were together was less than ideal. Samu smiles as he works, like he’s never been happier anywhere than he is here. Years ago, it would’ve left a bitter taste in his mouth, but Atsumu is just glad Samu is content with his life, even if it means Atsumu is less of a constant in it. 

Samu laughs at something Suna calls to him. He must’ve gotten roped into volunteering because he lazily takes the last few orders before they close up shop, leaned against the counter and passing torn-out pieces of notebook paper to Samu like they’re a natural team. 

Atsumu has never once questioned his choice in life. Volleyball has always been everything to him, but now he finds himself wishing he could join them. His chances of falling in love with Omi would’ve been close to zero, and then he wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in. He’d have no worries other than a dinner rush. 

His brain keeps replaying it, over and over again – the moment the rollercoaster took its first dip, and then down, down, down. Omi’s face keeps changing in his memory – surprised, horrified, disgusted. He can’t differentiate between his imagination and reality anymore and the anxiety has seeped into every part of him. His brain smacks him with whiplash – Omi hates you. Omi will never speak to you again. And then – you can still fix this. Why would you run away from him?

It sticks longer on the first points, mostly because Atsumu has one hand firmly in his pocket, curled around his phone, waiting for it to vibrate with anything from Omi. He’s pulled it out four times in the past twelve minutes, checking and double-checking to make sure he didn’t miss anything. 

He hasn’t. 

Atsumu spent the last two weeks doing everything in his power to make sure Omi was as comfortable and calm as humanly possible. He slowed himself down, held himself back, kept up a meticulous performance so that Omi would not get overwhelmed, only to demolish it all in a matter of minutes.  

Instinct is a terrible thing. Muscle memory is cruel. 

Suna leaves the counter to tell Samu something. He claps his shoulder and grins. Suna always smirks – Atsumu told him his smile was nothing but ‘shit-eating’ but he grins around Samu. They’ve always been a little bit closer, but Atsumu had to be on the outside. Towards the end of their high school career, he was just too busy. 

Atsumu sighs. He taps his foot, a nervous habit that irritates everybody else within a five-foot radius. He’d done it the entire train ride back to Osaka when he first got the text about Omi. He did it anytime he sat still. It stopped two weeks ago.

Atsumu thinks it’s back for a while.

“Oi.”

He looks up and meets Suna’s bored expression from across the room. He’s faced with a massive line that doesn’t appear to be getting any shorter. “Come help, there’s a rush.”

Atsumu blinks, momentarily distracted from his spiraling to be incredulous. “Ya want me to help? I just won the game played here.”

“And ya think that makes ya better than us?” Samu snaps. “Put on a damn apron and help or we’ll never get outta here.”

Atsumu is about to argue, due to years of fighting Samu on anything he tries to get him to do, but he shuts his mouth. What Atsumu desperately needs is a distraction, and this is as perfect of one as he’s ever going to get. He ducks into the crowd and slides in behind the counter, taking the apron that Suna offers him. He’s smirking again.

“Look what we’ve been reduced to,” he sighs. “Two professional athletes doing slave labor.”

“Don’t act like I don’t pay ya in free food,” Samu snarks. “Now get back to work.” 

In all honesty, it’s exactly what Atsumu needs. He helps Samu craft order after order, letting himself get lost in the sounds of chattering patrons and the repetitive motion of creating onigiri. Samu bitches at him several times that he’s not doing it right and it’s comforting. There is no space in Atsumu’s brain to worry.

It sure as hell tries, though. Any moment not spent folding rice is spent glancing over his shoulder, searching fruitlessly for Omi in the mass of people. He’s not sure what he would do if he did see him – probably duck under the counter, but he just wants to see that he’s okay. 

Luckily, Samu works him like a dog and he barely has time to breathe.

They cut off orders after thirty minutes and Suna abandons his place at the counter in favor of standing right behind Atsumu. He watches him work with a quirked lip and judgment in his eyes.

“Are ya gonna help at all, Sunarin, or just think of things to give me shit for later?” Atsumu grumbles.

“You’re drowning it in tuna mayo,” he observes. 

“I told ya to chill out with that,” Samu snaps.

“The tuna mayo is the best part and ya shouldn’t be so stingy with it.”

Samu snatches the bottle of it away from him and takes over. “Ya wouldn’t be sayin’ that if it was yer money. Stingy, my ass. I’m gonna make Suna finish makin’ ‘em and put ya on cleanin’ duty.” 

“You don’t want to do that,” Suna insists. “The reviews will be terrible. You’ll have shitty onigiri and half-mopped floors.” 

Samu elbows Suna away and reluctantly moves away from Atsumu’s station. “Cool it, on the damn mayo. I’ll make ya one when we’re done and it’ll be swimmin’ in it.”

Atsumu smiles, a real, happy one. There are too many conflicting feelings going on in his head, and it makes him guilty to have a moment of joy, but he’s just...glad he’s not alone. If Samu and Suna weren’t here, he has no doubt that he would be on the floor of his apartment right now, probably racking up noise complaints from the neighbors again. 

Slowly but surely, the customers dissipate. Atsumu folds his final onigiri and hand-delivers it to a star-struck pre-teen. She thanks him six times in a row and Suna calls him a ‘big-headed asshole’. It’s calm. It’s normal. Atsumu thinks he may be okay if he can just keep up this level of distraction for the rest of his life.

The three of them talk idly while Atsumu wipes counters and Suna sweeps. Samu counts his money with a smug expression on his face. 

“Thanks for the free publicity, Tsumu,” he teases.

“Thought ya didn’t need it.”

“I’m sure it helps a little.”

Suna snorts. Samu pushes past Atsumu to grab something from under the counter and crinkles his nose. “Ew, why the fuck d’ya still smell like sweat? Ya didn’t take a shower?”

The mirage is shattered and Atsumu is assaulted once again with images from the locker room. It’s funny, how simple words used in everyday conversations can trigger a flood of memories in Atsumu’s brain, but they seem to do nothing for Omi.

Shame and frustration wash over him in a wave. 

“Not yet,” Atsumu mumbles. “Didn’t have time.”

Samu eyes him suspiciously. “What were ya doin’? Ya took forever.”

“Talkin’ to my teammates,” Atsumu says. It’s not a lie, he just omitted the part about also kissing his teammate. He’s still trying to pretend it didn’t happen. 

“Well, go home and shower first, then we can meet at the bar,” Samu decides. “We’ve got some time.”

Atsumu bites back the proclamation of protest. He doesn’t want to go home. He can’t handle a single moment of solitude because his thoughts will eat him alive. He wants to cling to his brother like he’s three years old and beg him to let him shower at the hotel. It’s closer. It makes sense. It’ll save him.

Instead of saying any of these things, he nods. “Yeah, I will after I finish cleanin’.” 

Atsumu drags his feet a little but still gets it done too quickly, and before he can even consider changing his mind and following them to their hotel, Suna and Samu are telling him they’ll see him soon. 

Atsumu doesn’t really think on the way home and ends up closing the door behind him without realizing how he made it there. He slinks into the bathroom and only comes back to himself when he looks in the mirror.

His reflection isn’t nearly as hideous as he feels. He managed to keep it together all the way home.

He finally breaks when he steps into the shower. He sobs until his throat is raw and his eyes are burning. He stays until the water runs cold, until he’s cycled through every possibility of how this will play out, until he no longer can produce any tears. He’s in a sorry state, rock bottom. It’s worse than any loss, any failure and he wants to banish the feeling. When he steps out, he’s slightly more invigorated, having gotten all of the pent-up emotion out. He’s a dizzy kind of high, the sort of sensation that only a post-cry can give him. He towels off, smacks his face twice, and decides that he’s not going to give up. 

He can spin this, somehow – he’ll tell Omi it was the adrenaline, that it put his mind in a weird place. Omi knows that Atsumu is a touchy guy – he’s seen him ruffle Shoyo’s hair, cling to Bokun like a koala when he doesn’t feel like walking, and try to suffocate Inunaki in a hug when he won’t shut up. Atsumu can frame it as something like that. Sure, a kiss is a hell of a lot more intimate but how would Omi know that some friendly kissing isn’t common among the team? 

Or, he could avoid Omi for the rest of his life. That’s also an option.

 

-x-

 

Atsumu likes being drunk. He’s boisterous on any given day of the week, but being drunk melts off any remaining social barriers, and he just gets to have fun. He’s mastered the art of landing just past tipsy, comfortably in the level of ‘socially drunk’, where everybody he meets will be his best friend, but he won’t end up face-down on a dirty toilet seat. 

Tonight, though, he’s a little less cautious. 

It’s just so much easier when he can just turn his pesky brain off and enjoy himself. He really, really needs to enjoy himself. Suna and Samu showed up at Atsumu’s place an hour after his cry, each holding the handle of a large, clear bottle.

“Pregame,” Suna declared, popping the top off of his bottle before he could even make it into the apartment. He took a hefty swig and ignored Samu’s disapproving glance.

“Yer a problem,” Samu sighed. Suna raised an eyebrow and handed him the bottle and Samu took a shot regardless. It was passed to Atsumu next, and he took a longer sip than both of them combined. It burned on the way down but then filled him with warmth.

Atsumu disagreed. Suna was not a problem – he was the solution. 

He walks into the bar now feeling like he’s on cloud nine. He only thinks of Omi in fragments and he’s able to push it back to the lesser-used part of his brain. He forces the victory to the forefront and straightens up, trying to get in the mindset of a winner. 

“Tsumu!” Bokun booms from across the room, causing several patrons to startle. Atsumu can see his eyes fill with stars even from several feet away. Like them, Bokun must’ve started early. “Samu! Akaashi, look, Samu is here!”

They approach them, Bokun practically vibrating and Akaashi as composed as always. “Hello, Osamu. Atsumu. Rintaro.” He nods to them all politely, but Atsumu can tell he’s trying hard to hold back the question that he wants to ask. Samu rolls his eyes and pulls two foil-wrapped onigiris from his pocket and joy blooms over Akaashi’s normally subdued face.

Others greet them in a constant succession – Shoyo drags Tobio over, who still addresses Atsumu with a slight reverence that absolutely goes to his head. Ushijima pauses his conversation with Tomas to say a polite ‘hello’ and congratulate Atsumu on a good game. Inunaki and Hoshiumi whoop drunkenly at him, Samu and Suna, and then at everybody else that walks through the bar – stranger or otherwise.

They’ve really taken over. Atsumu could throw a rock in any direction and hit a friendly face, but he’s missing one in particular. 

He digs his nails into his palms. He can condition himself for the night, convince his already fuzzy brain that every time he thinks of Omi, he’ll feel both physical and emotional pain, and he doesn’t want that. He wants to let go, to forget the past month of his life and pretend that for once, everything is normal. Tomorrow, he’ll figure out what he’s going to do to fix this. Tonight, he lets himself fall into the chaos that they’ve reigned down upon the poor, unassuming venue.

They have a cluster of tables reserved, and Atsumu flits from one to the other, talking to everyone. He accepts compliments and dishes them right back, even making sure to tell Tobio how good he’s getting. He adds the caveat that he’s going to beat him out for starting setter on the Olympics though, which seems to fire him up. 

It’s going well. Atsumu is having fun, and any time he thinks about earlier, he takes another shot and it fades into a comfortable fogginess. He’s on great terms with the bartender. Her name is Kuina and they’re already following each other on Instagram.

She tells him that she’s going to cut him off and he sticks his tongue out.

“I need,” he whispers, very secretive, “To forget something. Ya gotta help me out.”

“Whatever you’re trying to forget, it can’t be worth how bad you’re going to feel in the morning,” she promises, eyeing the nearly empty mixed drink she had made for him just a few minutes ago. Kuina is nice, but she’s wrong. She has no idea how bad what he’s trying to forget can be. He hopes she never has to experience the same level of pain in her life. Atsumu has wished a lot of inconveniences on his enemies, but he wouldn’t wish this on anybody. 

“I’m gonna feel bad in the mornin’ no matter what,” he insists. “So I wanna feel good now.”

The smile she gives him in response is sad and Atsumu drinks more so he doesn’t feel it.

Time passes in a weird, non-linear way – it’s like slogging through mud one minute and traveling at light-speed the next. Atsumu tries to keep up in conversations but finds himself getting lost. He laughs too loudly. He puts his hand on his teammates’ shoulders to steady himself. He drinks until everything is a blur.

At some point, he loses Suna and Samu, but he can’t be bothered to think too much about where they could’ve gone.

Shoyo asks him something and Atsumu has to have him repeat it three times. His brain feels like a rapidly melting ice-cream cone but it’s fine. It’s good. He’s good.

He’s good until he can no longer outdrink his thoughts. They’ve been swarming the surface for some time now, picking at him, only retreating a minimal distance away with every shot of alcohol that hits his system. Atsumu thought he could stay ahead of them if he just kept moving – that’s how he always solves his problems. He sprints ahead, never looking back, so they can’t catch him.

But this is Omi, and Omi is a force in Atsumu’s life that he’s never been able to escape. 

He sits down and the burden falls over him like a weighted blanket, knocking his senses awake and reminding him of what he’s trying to avoid. It’s a miserable feeling – worse than the flu. He pulls out his phone and lets the screen come into focus – there are no notifications that matter. Omi hasn’t texted him.

Atsumu could reach out first. Nothing is stopping him from opening up his messages with Omi and just sending an apology – something short, simple, an explanation to make it all go away. He could do it, but then Omi could choose not to reply and that will spell the end for Atsumu. 

He stares at the phone until the colors blend together and it gives him a headache. He shuts his eyes and wavers back and forth like he’s in the ocean. It makes him sick. 

“Get him water,” he hears, and he opens his eyes to see Suna’s cat-like eyes trained on him. He appeared out of thin air, like he always does. Suna should’ve skipped out on the whole volleyball career and been a professional spy instead. He moves like a panther – it’s terrifying. 

“Tsumu,” he says. Atsumu has seen Suna serious a handful of times in his life and they’ve always preceded disasters, like the loss of Nationals. If he stops talking shit, it usually means things are bad. 

“Where’s Samu?” Atsumu slurs, refusing to meet his gaze. He doesn’t want to see the concern mirrored there. He hates to be pitied. 

Suna inclines his head to where Samu is chatting up Meian and Inunaki like they’re long-lost best friends. 

“Where did ya go?” If Atsumu keeps him talking about himself, maybe Suna won’t ask him the questions he’s so desperate to avoid. 

“We’ve been here the whole time,” Suna says smoothly. “You’re just too much of a disaster to be aware of your surroundings. Thank you, Shrimpy,” he adds to Shoyo, who has returned with a large glass of water. Atsumu glances back at the bar and meets Kuina’s eyes. She gives him a thumbs-up, probably because she gave him the most massive cup the bar could possibly own. It’s practically a bucket. 

“When are you gonna stop calling me Shrimpy?” Shoyo whines. 

“When you grow another foot,” Suna assures him. “Run along now.”

Shoyo frowns and Atsumu adds him to the list of people who think he’s some broken, sad excuse for a man. He sighs but says nothing to him, just gives him an absent wave to signal he’s alive and Shoyo scurries away elsewhere. 

“Drink this before you fall over,” Suna demands. 

“I’m fine,” Atsumu grumbles, even though he’s never been less fine in his life. He falls firmly somewhere between ‘despaired’ and ‘ruined’. 

“You’re too drunk to even be fun,” Suna responds, aloof. “This is past ‘dancing on tables’ drunk. This is mopey drunk. I can’t film this.” 

Atsumu huffs. “Ya don’t need to be filmin’ me anyway. Our PR manager will tell ya off.”

“I’m not on your team.”

“She doesn’t care about that. She’s scary.” 

Suna ignores that. “Hey. You kind of look like hell. Wanna talk about it?” 

“Nothin’ to talk about,” Atsumu protests, but his voice cracks on the last syllable, and he knows he’s not fooling Suna or anybody else in a ten-foot vicinity. His head feels like it weighs twenty-five pounds and he’s been actively blinking back tears for the past...who knows how long. He doesn’t know how much time has passed. 

“Look, I would happily let you mope all night if that’s what you feel like doing, but you’re stressing your brother out. He told me you’ve been on the fast-track to self-destruction and we all know that’s not pretty.”

“He told ya?” Atsumu manages to raise his head enough to glare in Samu’s direction. He hopes he feels it. “None of his business to tell ya anythin’ about it.”

Suna examines his nails, acting unimpressed but Atsumu knows if he truly didn’t care, he wouldn’t be here. “I tortured it out of him because he was acting like a kicked puppy when I saw him after he left your house.” 

“I didn’t even realize ya’ll were spendin’ so much time together,” Atsumu grunts, feeling a little left out. 

Suna shrugs, unphased. “He’s in Tokyo a lot now for business. I have no other friends. It works out that way.” 

Atsumu laughs a little, at that. Only a little – and it comes out strangled. He’s exhausted and nowhere near in the right state of mind for this conversation. He tries to shut it down, deliberately pronouncing all of his words so Suna can understand. “Neither of ya have anythin’ to worry about. Game just wore me out.”

Suna gives him such a dry look in response that Atsumu feels like he needs to drink more water. He takes a long sip and Suna waits patiently for him to finish before he tears into him like a dangerous predator.  

“You can probably get away with using that shitty excuse on your other teammates, but I’m not an idiot. No offense to them. I’ve known you since you were in diapers. You have more energy than a power plant, and it doubles after games. You’re an unbelievable drunk and in any normal situation, you’d be demanding we go to karaoke, or dancing with a stranger, but instead you’re looking like you’re about to cry into your – what is that? A gin and tonic? God, you’re even drinking miserable drinks.” 

“Sunarin,” Atsumu whines. His head is swimming and Suna is speaking too fast for him to process all of his words. “Leave me alone.” 

“Where’s the fun in that?” He’s trying to go for teasing, but Atsumu knows he’s being analyzed. He knows enough about Suna to know when one is being scrutinized. He was always grateful that Suna was his teammate, and only learned in recent years how frustrating it is to be on the other side of the net from him. Suna takes people apart meticulously and instantaneously before anyone can even realize what’s being done.

Thankfully, Suna has a weakness. He has no patience. When there’s no reward for him, he gets bored and he gives up. Atsumu takes another drink of water and tactfully ignores him, knowing that eventually, he’ll go bother somebody else. Being indifferent is an art form that one must perfect to maintain a friendship with Suna. Samu is better at it, but Atsumu can hold his own. 

He can, if the circumstances align, but tonight, luck doesn’t appear to be on his side. Suna is relentless. 

“Did you know that sometimes after your games, I search social media for your name?” 

If it was anybody other than Suna, then Atsumu would react with at least some level of surprise, but Suna lives to get dirt on him and Samu, so he barely reacts. 

“I’m sure ya do. Why d’ya bring it up?” He decides to humor him. The ice-water is clearing his head at a gradual pace, but it’s hard to follow Suna when he’s sober. When he’s drunk, it’s like the game gets set to expert mode.

“I wanted meme material from the game today. I do it for Aran and my own teammates too. Action shots are hilarious.” He shrugs. “Anyways, I bring it up because I came across this.” 

He slides his phone over and Atsumu focuses on a blurry picture from the stadium where the game took place. He’s in the picture, but it’s not on the court. It’s him, running out of the locker room, looking like he just witnessed a murder. Even from far away, the distress on his face is evident. “Where is MSBY’s setter running off to!?

“Great,” Atsumu groans. He zooms in. He’s the only one in the picture, so Omi is safe. He breathes a sigh of relief at that, at least. “I wish they’d fuck off.”

“I threatened them,” Suna says casually, like it’s an everyday occurrence. It probably is, knowing him. “It’s just a fan, but I told her to take it down so the media doesn’t get a hold of it. I know they’re all over you all right now.”

“Ya...threatened her?”

Suna just smiles. “It’ll be gone within the next hour. Anyways, the point is – you’re not fine. Everyone can see that, so why don’t you tell me what’s your fucking problem?”

“Ya’d be a shitty therapist,” Atsumu sighs. “Yer too harsh.”

“We’re either going to talk to sober you up, or I’m gonna drag you into the bathroom and stick your head under the sink. Your choice.”

“Ya wouldn’t be able to –”

“Samu will help. Two against one. Do you really want to risk ruining your hair? It takes you hours.”

Atsumu gives him a withering look. “Doesn’t take me hours. Not tonight, at least.”

“That’s because you’re obviously too bothered by whatever your problem is. That’s how I know it’s serious. Drink your water and tell me what your issue is, Tsumu.”

Atsumu does drink, but he offsets it with a sip of his gin, just to be a pain and prove to Suna that he doesn’t have to obey him. He sighs out a heavy breath and lets his eyes wander around the bar, buying time.

He catches the door open, and he forgets about Suna altogether. 

Two figures walk in – Motoya and Omi. 

Atsumu chokes on his drink. Suna whips his head around to follow Atsumu’s gaze. When he zeroes in on them, a menacing grin casts his face in a shadow.

“Oh,” he says simply. “I see.” 

Atsumu barely hears him. Omi doesn’t see Atsumu. He adheres to Motoya’s side, nodding courteously at everyone who greets him. He’s clearly nervous, already uncomfortable at these types of events, but doubly so now. Inunaki bounces over to him with a drink in hand and Omi politely shakes his head. Atsumu’s entire body threatens to overload. He clutches the table because if he doesn’t, he’s going to collapse.

It’s dramatic enough to confirm what Suna already has picked up on.

“Damn, is that what it is?” Suna continues, still ogling in Omi’s general direction. “Do you have it bad for Sakusa Kiyoomi?” 

Atsumu makes a meager show at protesting. “Dunno what yer talkin’ about. Stop lookin’ at him.” 

Suna turns back around and Atsumu almost wants to tell him that nevermind, he can look at Omi all he wants, just so he doesn’t have to deal with the intensity in the stare that’s now trained on him.

“You do know what I’m talking about,” he accuses. “He walked in and you looked like someone just sucker-punched you. Is there something going on with you two? Did you get in a fight? Did he break your heart? Want me to beat him up?” 

Atsumu comprehends maybe one of his questions. It’s hard to pay attention to anything but Omi, who has still yet to spot him and is now sitting at a high-rise table, listening to Motoya and Hoshiumi communicate in a series of shouts that Atsumu can hear from across the bar. Omi leans against the table, chin cupped in his hand, and Atsumu sees him slowly scanning the bar. He suddenly feels the manic desire to flee.

“Tsumu.”

Atsumu refocuses on Suna. “What?”

“Oh my God.”

He shakes his head and drinks more water. He can’t be this level of drunk with Omi in the vicinity. He already aches to go to him and beg for his forgiveness, or, he could go the opposite route and just pretend it didn’t happen. 

No, that wouldn’t work.

“This is interesting,” Suna muses when Atsumu fails to respond. “Samu said you act like a freak whenever Sakusa’s name is mentioned, but neither of us thought it was a crush.”

Suna is borderline gleeful over his revelation and Atsumu stops spying on Omi for long enough to glare at him.

“Keep yer voice down. It’s not like that.”

“It’s absolutely like that. You’re blushing.”

“Because yer embarrassin’ me,'' Atsumu snaps. “I don’t act like a freak about him. He’s my teammate who lost his memories. Everybody acts like a freak about it. It’s a freaky situation! I don’t have a crush on him, that’s –” 

“Did the crush come before or after the amnesia? After, right? There’s no way you could’ve kept your mouth shut if it was before.”

“I told ya, I don’t – ”

“Don’t waste your energy trying to lie. You’re way too drunk to have a filter, so I’m going to get it out of you.” Suna crosses his arms and leans back into his chair, like he has all night to wait this out. 

Atsumu curses. Suna is right. When he was younger, Atsumu had no filter whatsoever – he blurted out whatever came to his mind, whenever, no matter how inappropriate. His mouth has been getting him in trouble since he could talk, and he only learned to bite his tongue when he started seeing Omi. Thank God for that, because now he has enough self-awareness to at least partially lie.  

He chances another peek at Omi and sees him now sipping on something idly, staring off into space. He raises his head when Motoya tries to get his attention and nods slowly. Atsumu frowns.

“Jesus, Tsumu. Be more obvious.”

Atsumu startles. He keeps losing his place in the conversation. As it comes back to him, he considers that he could use this to his advantage. He could tell Suna a half-truth to get him off of his back. That way, both Suna and Samu won’t think to worry about him, and Atsumu gets the added bonus of getting it off of his chest. It’s been weighing so heavily on him that he feels he may be crushed by it, so telling Suna might be...fine. 

He takes a deep breath. “Yeah, alright, I’ve got a crush on him.” 

Across the bar, Omi nods and grants Motoya a rare smile. It doesn’t reach his eyes. Atsumu wills him to look at him, then changes his mind and prays that he doesn’t realize he’s here.

“And?” Suna prompts him. He’s enjoying this too much. All seriousness is gone and he’s baring his worst shit-eating grin. Atsumu grits his teeth and soldiers on.

“And I embarrassed myself in front of him. Rub salt in the wound, won’t ya, Sunarin?”

“If you’d told me about your love life sooner, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Suna says without remorse. “What did you do?” He leans in, clearly enthralled. Atsumu has never met a man so evil in his life. He’s glad for him regardless. Saying the words out loud eases some of the burden, and clarity comes back to him. He sips more of his water, desperately willing it to do its job and sober him. Although, this conversation is easier drunk.

“I kissed him after the game.” Before Suna can burst into laughter, he plows on. “I was just excited and he was alone in the locker room and I didn’t think about it. I kissed him and I ran away.”

It’s like ripping a bandaid off of an open wound. The pain is searing, but then it’s over and it settles to a dull ache. It happened and he said it out loud. It’s real now.

Suna is doing his best not to laugh his ass off and Atsumu knows it. “It’s not funny, ya dick.” 

“No, it’s not,” he agrees solemnly, wiping the smirk off his face and replacing it with a grim pout. He can’t keep character for longer than three seconds and dissolves into giggles. 

“Yer the worst. The meanest person I’ve ever met.”

“Ah, you don’t mean that.” He smiles, then collects himself enough to further grill Atsumu. “So, what? You kissed him and dipped, and now you’re being awkward about it?”

“I shouldn’t have done it. He probably hates me now.”

Suna twists his body around. “Doesn’t look like he hates you,” he comments idly. “He’s staring so hard at you right now I’m surprised you haven’t burst into flames.”

Atsumu swallows his heart and jolts his gaze to Omi. Their eyes meet and Atsumu blanches. It feels like all the blood has exited his body and he’s now just a walking corpse. He gets his bearings enough to hiss at Suna, “Don’t look at him.” 

“Since when have you been afraid of a crush?” Suna wonders, indulging Atsumu enough to stop flat-out staring. “You used to kiss girls on the playground all the time. Once, you kissed one right after the other and then laughed when they fought over you, but you’re over here moping because you might’ve embarrassed yourself in front of your teammate? Doesn’t add up.”

Atsumu just huffs at him. He’s incapable of human speech right now because all of his remaining brain-power is going towards not looking at Omi again.

“Tell me, though, how did that happen? Sakusa Kiyoomi is the opposite of your type. You told us in high-school that you like cute blondes, because ‘I’ve never met an ugly blonde’.”

Atsumu laughs once. He barely hears it over his heartbeat. “Yeah, then ya told me ya were talkin’ to one right then. Asshole. Tastes change, though. Omi is...I dunno, he’s somethin’.” 

“Gross, forget I asked. I don’t want to see you get all dopey and lovestruck.” 

“Good, didn’t wanna talk about it anyways,” Atsumu gripes, although it is nice to talk about it, even if it’s more lies. It’s the closest to the truth he’s ever gotten. 

“Oh – tell your brother. I can’t believe I had to listen to him cry over you lying to him when it was something like this.” Suna shakes his head. “Nobody cares if you want to fuck your teammate, Tsumu. We’ve all been there.”

Atsumu only catches one piece of that sentence. “Samu cried? ‘Cause of me?”

“I never told you that,” he says, suddenly serious. “You didn’t hear it from me. I’m too drunk to be having this conversation.”

Atsumu feels sick. He knew he upset Samu, but – he didn’t cry. Samu never cried. Atsumu was the crybaby of the two and Samu was the one who wiped his tears. Atsumu spent hours demeaning him, crafting the most stinging insults and lobbing them at him after he told him he was quitting volleyball, and Samu didn’t cry. 

“I’m gonna go to the bathroom,” he decides, already shoving his chair away and jumping unsteadily to his feet.

“Okay. You should puke. You’ll feel better. I have gum for afterwards,” Suna says casually. 

“Thanks,” Atsumu mutters. 

The route to the bathroom is a labyrinth. Atsumu dodges tables filled with his friends like they’re minefields, though he knows they’re all too drunk to notice he’s about three minutes from having a breakdown. He doesn’t know what triggered it – Omi looking at him, Suna confessing that Samu cried over him, or just everything finally catching up. 

He makes it and practically crashes into the sink. He stares in the mirror and he looks bad. No wonder Suna interrogated him. His eyes are watery and his skin is sallow. His emotions have taken on a physical form and plastered themselves all over his face. He can’t hide anymore. 

He could leave, tell Samu and Suna that he’s not feeling well. He’s definitely drunk enough for that to be believable. There’s no salvaging the evening now – it was a mistake to even try. Atsumu can’t handle this. He can’t be in the same room as Omi, can’t put so much space between them when he’s so desperate to get closer.

The door opens and he straightens up, preparing to act normal. It could be a stranger, or Suna come to check on him. He pastes a fake smile regardless and turns to brush past whoever it is.

“Hi.” 

Atsumu freezes where he stands. It’s not a stranger and it’s not Suna.

Omi blocks his exit. He’s standing with his arms at his side, looking at Atsumu expectantly. Atsumu says nothing – he can’t. His vocal cords have all dried up and snapped in half. His entire body tenses up like he’s about to be slapped. He’s prepared for Omi to scream at him – to call him a creep, to demand an explanation, insult him. It’ll hurt, but Atsumu has done all he can to ease the pain. 

Omi does none of these things.  

“You ran away from me earlier,” he says instead. There’s no anger in his tone, only sadness. Atsumu can read emotion in every one of Omi’s voices – his soft longing, his deadpan way of teasing, his quiet frustration. He locks into Omi’s moods with a single word, so he knows, now, that Omi isn’t angry at him. 

Atsumu did this to him. He upset Omi. He made him uncomfortable.

He knows he has to face it.

“I – uh, sorry,” Atsumu blurts lamely. “I didn’t – ”

“Atsumu,” he mumbles and Atsumu feels like he swallowed a baseball. His eyes snap up to meet Omi’s, finally, and his heart skips at least three beats. He called him Atsumu. When’s the last time he heard that from Omi? His Omi. He steps closer on instinct. He wants to be closer to him. 

“I wanted to – ”

A toilet flushes and Omi stops talking. A stall flies open and a red-faced, grinning Shoyo comes out. 

“I thought I heard you two!” he cries, joyful. “Hi, Omi! I didn’t know you were coming out!”

Shoyo is six levels too drunk. His eyes are glazed over and Atsumu is surprised he’s even standing, but he smiles at both of them like he couldn’t be happier he ran into them. It would be sweet if Atsumu wasn’t about to jump out of his skin. 

Omi has more composure than he does, so he answers, “My cousin convinced me. I won’t be staying very long.” 

“Oh, no fun!” Shoyo frowns. “You should stay! Especially since you and Atsumu seem to be getting along.” He grins. He’s slurring his words and swaying where he stands. “You know, I meant to ask Tsumu about that, but I keep forgetting. How did you two become friends this time?”

“What do you mean ‘this time’?” There’s a crinkle in Omi’s forehead, something that happens when he’s confused. Atsumu holds back the strangled sound that threatens to escape his throat. He considers tackling Shoyo into the stall and locking it behind them.

“Well, you two are acting so friendly – like you like each other! You don’t like each other at all – you hate each other!”

Atsumu is witnessing the end of his life as he knows it. In one day, everything around him was decimated into nothingness. The surprise that flashes across Omi’s face is in slow motion and Atsumu is powerless to stop it. 

“Yeah, you were always fighting.” Shoyo giggles, like it’s a fun memory. “None of us knew what to do with you at first. We always felt bad making you share hotel rooms at away games, but Inunaki said it had to be done because you were both too difficult to share with anyone else.” His eyes widen. “Don’t tell him I told you that. He’ll be mad.”

“Is that so?” Omi mutters. His expression has morphed from mild confusion to disdain. He refuses to look anywhere near Atsumu. “That’s interesting.”

“We didn’t hate each other,” Atsumu defends himself, but it’s weak. His hands are shaking. “We had a little rivalry.”

Shoyo scoffs. “We all saw the ‘Atsumu sneer’ every day. Omi, you used to glare so hard at Atsumu. It was really scary. Ah, well, it doesn’t matter now! I’m just glad you decided to be friends this time around.” He hiccups once then laughs.

“Omi, wait. Shoyo is just talkin’ about – ”

The exact sneer that Shoyo just described shows up on Omi’s face, twisting into something horrible and ugly. Atsumu has been on the receiving end of it many times, but this time it isn’t an act. 

“Well, like I said, I didn’t plan to stay long,” Omi says, deadly calm. “I’ll see you at practice, Hinata.”

Omi doesn’t spare Atsumu even a glance, but he sees the hatred in his eyes before he turns on his heels and stomps out of the door and away from Atsumu. 

“Oh, did I say something wrong?” Shoyo asks, concerned. “I thought he would probably know about all of that. Didn't you tell him?”

Atsumu ignores him. He doesn’t give one single shit about keeping up appearances right now. His heart is pounding and he can’t let Omi get away. He has to explain. He has to do something. Shoyo cries after him as he races out the door but Atsumu doesn’t look back.

The scene around him is dizzying. There are too many people, crowded together on a makeshift dance floor, wandering about with drinks in their hands. The music deafens him and he’s too overstimulated to think straight. He needs to find Omi, but he’s nowhere. 

He spots Motoya with Suna and Samu, but no Omi, and Atsumu has the horrible, crushing thought that he’s left the bar. He bolts through the room and out the front door and as soon as the cool spring air hits him, clarity returns.

Omi is standing on the edge of the street, looking for a cab. Atsumu could cry in relief.

“Omi!”

He turns and glares. Atsumu stops in his tracks, almost instantly losing his nerve. Omi is regarding him like he’s something despicable, like he can barely stand to look at him. 

“Please,” Atsumu begs. “Please, let me explain. Shoyo is just drunk, Omi, and he’s sayin’ dumb shit, and I – ”

“I don’t care what you have to say to me, Miya,” Omi interrupts him and Atsumu feels a fissure erupt in his heart. So easily, he’s back to ‘Miya’ – he was only ‘Atsumu’ for a brief moment before it all fell apart.  

“Ya gotta – ya gotta listen. We just bickered, Omi – like teammates. It was just jokin’ around, and – ”

“Really? Was it?” Omi demands, still with that serene, emotionless tone. He regards Atsumu like he’s not worth getting worked up. The fury lies below the surface, like a brewing storm. “Motoya knew absolutely nothing about our ‘friendship’.” He says the word as if it tastes like acid. “He said I never talked about you, other than to occasionally complain.”

Atsumu feels the crack widens. His heart just healed. He was getting better, and now this. 

“If we were such good friends, explain that to me. Explain to me why nobody in the world but you seems to know anything about it. Why the team seems to be under the impression that we hate each other. If you have an explanation, I want to hear it.”

“I – I can’t explain, ya wouldn’t,” he chokes out the words. “Ya wouldn’t understand. It’s...complicated.”

“Complicated.” Omi laughs once, humorless, and turns to glower straight at Atsumu. His face is a painting of pure pain – anger, betrayal, hurt. 

Atsumu is going to break.

“I asked Motoya right away, but I still gave you the benefit of the doubt. That was obviously a mistake.” 

“Omi.” Atsumu is useless. He can’t do anything but plead with him, and Omi isn’t interested in listening. 

“Why did you do it?” he wonders, and the resentment begins to break through in his words. “Why did you lie? Were you bored? Did you think I was a novelty, like all of the news outlets? It must’ve been exciting for you – your very own teammate has amnesia and might believe everything you say.” His voice rises in volume. “Did you want to take advantage of me?”

“No, I would never!” Atsumu blurts. “I wouldn’t. I didn’t want that. I care about ya, Omi, I swear I do.”

“You treated me like some sort of blank slate for you to deface however you saw fit. It almost worked. I almost believed you.”

“That’s not – ”

“I should’ve stuck by what I said in the hospital. I knew we weren’t friends. I knew you were this type of person, but I was naive enough to think that maybe…” he trails off. “It doesn’t matter. I’m done.”

“Omi, please just listen to me – I have to tell ya somethin’.”

“Will it be the truth this time?” Omi’s resorted back to emotionless. “Or just another thing to add to the lies you’ve told me thus far?” 

“They weren’t lies.” Atsumu realizes he’s crying. He feels the tears falling, hot as they cascade down his cheeks. He doesn’t stop to wipe them away. “I didn’t lie to ya, I just – I couldn’t tell ya the truth, Omi. I’ll tell ya now, okay? Please. I’ll tell ya. I…I love ya. We’re – we were. We were together. And I know ya remember, Omi. I see it – I can tell when ya look at me, that yer familiar, and ya just don’t know why, but it’s because – ”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” Omi bites out. “I would never be with somebody like you.”

“You were,” Atsumu insists, raising his voice, speaking over the soul-crushing words, fighting through them like they aren’t knives delivered straight to his chest. “Why would I make that up? Would I be cryin’ like this if it were all a joke, Omi? Please. Please. I know you’ll remember.”

“There’s nothing to remember!” Omi snaps. “You’ve done enough damage. Leave me alone and stop  fucking  with my head.” 

Atsumu blanches and steps back several feet like he’s been slapped. Omi turns back to the street and flags down a cab. Desperation overtakes all of Atsumu’s senses. 

“Ya can’t – ya can’t pretend like ya didn’t feel anythin’. I know ya did. I saw yer face when I kissed ya.”

“I was disgusted,” Omi spits. “That’s what you saw. Disgust. Get away from me.”

“Omi –”

“I told you I hate that stupid nickname. I’m not answering to it anymore.” 

A cab rolls up to the curb and Omi doesn’t turn back. He opens the door and slams it behind him, leaving Atsumu to watch him go, and it hurts. It hurts like nothing he’s ever experienced before – the finality of it all; the nail in the coffin on any chance Atsumu had of Omi loving him again. He thought his heart had been broken already, but this is excruciating. He thinks he’s dying.

He’s crying so hard it’s difficult to breathe, and people pass him by, glancing nervously in his direction. He wipes the snot away from his nose and blinks until his eyes stop burning, but as soon as the tears stop, they come again. He can’t control himself. He can’t calm down. He doesn’t know what to do.  

He’s not going back inside the bar, but how can he go home? The ghost of Omi lives there, and Atsumu can’t be haunted by him, not tonight. He stares into the street, watches the cars drive by and wishes he could escape to a life that isn’t his own.

The door opens, and with the world’s worst timing, like always, Samu walks outside.

“Jesus, idiot, why’d ya go run off? Suna said ya went to the bathroom twenty minutes ago and I thought ya went and drowned in the toilet. Oh – are ya cryin’, Tsumu?”

“No,” Atsumu says, lifeless. He sniffles. “I’m goin’ home, though. I was about to let ya know.”

Samu is approaching him with the wariness of somebody trying to pick up a feral cat. “Alright, I’ll get Suna and we’ll get goin’.” His voice is too soft, too careful and Atsumu grits his teeth. He hates it. He doesn’t want his pity. “What’s the matter, Tsumu? Is this about what ya told Sunarin – ”

“Wow, you tell each other everythin’, huh?” He barks out a cruel laugh. “I was lyin’ to him anyway, Samu. I just wanted him to get off my back. I don’t like Omi, and we sure as hell aren’t friends.” 

“Oi, did Sakusa do somethin’ to ya? Ya better tell me, Tsumu. I’ll kill him – I will.”

“He didn’t do anythin’. Nothin’ happened so there’s nothin’ to talk about. I’m goin’ home. By myself. Wouldn’t wanna bring you and Suna down. Ya’ll have such a good time together.”

“What are ya talkin’ about?” Samu narrows his eyes. “Yer just tryin’ to change the subject. I’m not havin’ it. I’m not dealin’ with this again.”

“Nobody asked ya to deal with it,” Atsumu hisses, toxicity melting over his words, weaponizing them. “I didn’t ask ya to come to my place in the middle of the night, and I didn’t ask for ya to tell Sunarin all of my business, and I didn’t tell ya to cry over me. So you can go ahead and stop now, Samu. I don’t need ya.” 

Samu takes a second to soak in the words and Atsumu hopes he yells at him, hopes he fights him and calls him names and pushes him into the wall so Atsumu can beat him right back. He needs to scream, needs to hurt somebody so they can feel what he’s feeling.

Samu doesn’t give him what he wants. “Yeah, ya know, ya really do need me, actually. Yer a fuckin’ mess, cryin’ in the middle of the sidewalk, actin’ crazy – ”

“Fuck off, Samu. Just fuck off.” 

Samu watches him, waits for something more, and when nothing comes, he turns away. “If yer gonna self-destruct like this, then fine. I don’t want a front row seat, so don’t call me until ya’ve got yer shit together. I’ll be ready to listen when ya decide to tell me.”

“I don’t have shit to tell ya,” Atsumu retorts.

“Ya’ve got plenty of shit, Tsumu. Yer full of it.” He shakes his head. “I can’t take care of ya if ya won’t let me, so I’ll see ya around.”

“Whatever,” Atsumu spits. He doesn’t turn around but hears the door slam behind him. He pulls out his phone and calls for a ride, and then doubles over and throws up. 

 

-x-

Through some form of divine intervention, Atsumu makes it home in one piece. He lets himself into his apartment and finds his legs can’t take him any further than the living room. He sinks into the couch and stares at the wall. 

He’s gross. He smells like a bar, all cheap liquor and smoke and he tastes vomit on his tongue. His body buzzes with pent-up energy and he wants to scream until his voice leaves him and wants to hit something until his knuckles bleed. He wants his physical pain to match his mental pain.

He’s never going to have a peaceful night of sleep again. His fight with Omi will haunt his dreams. 

He considers drinking more – he’s got vodka in the pantry, a bottle that Shoyo re-gifted him from one of his old high school friends, and if he downs half the bottle, at least he’ll be able to pass out. He could blackout and wake up with no memory of this entire day. An easy solution, and who’s here to stop him?

That’s not who Atsumu is though, and he  knows that. He can’t let himself fade away. This is a curse that he will have to fight because he has to face this – he has to face Omi every day for at least as long as he has left on his contract with the Black Jackals, and then what? Will Omi hate him forever? Did Atsumu lose him for good?

It isn’t even his fault, and that’s the true unfairness of it all. Atsumu gave Omi all of the love he had. He bared his whole soul to him, showed him all his insecurities, and treated him like he was the best thing to ever happened to him – because he was. Atsumu gave everything to Omi, and still, he’s being punished. Why?

Atsumu used to be a romantic – he liked the idea of soulmates, being tied together from birth, destined to find each other somehow. He firmly believed that Omi was his – why else would they end up on the Black Jackals together after meeting as children? Why else would they fall together so perfectly like they did?

For Atsumu to go through hell, apparently. Like some kind of lesson. 

The thought leaves an acrid taste in his mouth.

Atsumu is at a loss. He doesn’t know how to move on, and he doesn’t want  to. Forgetting Omi and going on with his life is impossible – he’ll never survive it. Every time he sees him – practice, team dinners, long bus-rides to away games, special events, it’ll be a reminder of what Atsumu lost, what he destroyed. Omi will be at arm’s length, but Atsumu won’t be able to reach him.

His phone goes off in his hand and Atsumu twirls it over, watching as text-after-text come in from Shoyo, Bokun, Suna, Meian, but none from Omi. He wonders if he’ll ever get that particular notification ever again. 

Atsumu mutes it. He doesn’t need to hope anymore. 

He lies down on his side and closes his eyes, but he can’t get the scene from in the street out of his head. It overwhelms him, leaves him dizzy and reeling and he has no chance at relief. The images assault him from every angle and he can think of nothing else. It leaves him frenzied, desperate for anything to distract himself from the pain. 

He’s probably not entirely in his right mind when he opens the camera app on his phone, but he does it anyway. He doesn’t want to look at his reflection, but he forces his gaze. It’s as disturbing as he imagined, but what does he care at this point? Nobody is here to witness his shame.

Atsumu starts speaking without preamble. “I started these videos for you, Omi, ya know, but I think they’re more for me now. Yer probably never gonna see ‘em anyway.” He takes a shuddering breath, the kind that racks through his entire body. He’s light-headed from crying. He aches. “I gotta keep recordin’ them, though. I’ve gotta retell every piece of our story, so it’s out there, so even if nobody knows it but me, it’ll be here. I worry that maybe one day, I’ll wake up and I won’t think of ya, but if that ever happens, I’ll have these videos to watch.” 

Atsumu is a miserable sight right now, but the words are a way to self-soothe, and they flow out of him like a faucet, so he continues.

“There’s still so many things to tell,” he sighs. “We had so many good times together. Like the time ya tried to make me homemade chocolates for Valentine’s Day and nearly burned down the kitchen – that’s one of my favorite memories. They tasted like shit and we nearly broke our teeth on ‘em.” He laughs and it feels hollow in his chest. There’s crippling loneliness that swirls inside of him. It plants roots in his chest and they spread out through the rest of the body, taking hold of him in a vice grip. It feels final. He’ll never experience another night like that night – one that ended with him and Omi sitting on the floor of the kitchen, both pretending to like the barely edible chocolate and holding back their laughter. 

He’s never going to make more memories with Omi. 

“Remember we had that team New Years party, and ya made me pretend to be so drunk I couldn’t stand?” He smiles, watery and wobbly. “Ya kept tellin’ Shoyo and Bo that ya would take me home because ya wanted to leave anyways, but ya acted real annoyed about it so they wouldn’t catch on. We put on our pajamas as soon as we got home and watched one of those cheesy romance movies ya like – one of the ones with the ensemble cast. When midnight came, ya kissed me first. The best kisses were when ya kissed me first.”

Atsumu holds back a sob that threatens to rip out of him. He’s blinded by his tears, but still, he carries on. 

“I already started plannin’ our next holidays together – I wanted to take ya home for our Christmas break. I wanted to finally tell Samu about ya, and my ma. She’d love ya. She loves to baby people and yer the biggest baby.” He smiles. He’s crying again, but tears are so commonplace that he barely notices them this time. “But this is about the ‘what have’s, not the ‘what if’s, so I’ll talk about them.”

Atsumu stays up through the night, taking video after video and saving them to his phone, promising himself that he’ll watch them every day. Omi may have forgotten him, but Atsumu will never forget his Omi. He tells happy stories. 

“We almost adopted a cat, Omi!” he recalls. “Oh man. She was the cutest little thing – ya kept callin’ her Fish, because we found her chewin’ on fish bones by a dumpster. We woulda taken her home if it weren’t for our schedules. Didn’t think it would be fair to her to leave her alone so often, so we took her to a shelter, but we promised each other we’d get one of our own one day, and name her Fish, in honor of our little dumpster cat.”

He tells sad ones too. 

“Sometimes, yer head would get the best of ya, and ya’d have a really bad night. I can’t lie, at first, it really freaked me out, seein’ ya all torn up over somethin’ I couldn’t see, but somethin’ about me seemed to calm ya down. I would hold ya, draw ya a bath, make ya green tea. Sometimes I read to ya. You said ya liked my accent, that it made the details come to life. I’m worried about ya, Omi. I hope you’re okay when I’m not there. I’m sure you will be.”

He confesses to all of his fuck ups, but reminds Omi of his, too. He details each date down to the outfits they wore and the food they ate. He recalls their inside jokes, their fears, their dreams, their talks of the future.

He tries to reconcile giving it all up. He thinks he’d rather die. 

By the time he finishes his last one, it’s nearly 5 AM, and Atsumu drags himself off of the couch and into his bedroom. He takes one last look at the phone, and scrolls up through the videos he’s taken over the last several weeks – his love letters to Omi; the story of them. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Atsumu might sleep, but if he does, it’s in little spurts. It’s the kind of rest that’s sporadic – his eyes grow heavy and he closes them, but just as his breathing evens out, he’s shocked back into consciousness. He lies awake, fingers twitching towards his nightstand, willing himself to just try again, but he fails every time. The minutes pass like hours and the hours feel like days. Atsumu checks his phone every so often, waiting for Omi, even still. 

At 7:24 AM, he gets a text from Samu. It’s a part of a larger thread. The first message came just after midnight, and it’s a lecture that Atsumu ignored the first time and glazes over now. It’s littered with typos, a testament to Samu’s anger with him. Just like Atsumu, Samu’s hands shake when he’s distressed. The second message, timestamped at 3:49 AM, is an apology. It is one which Atsumu does not deserve and yet Samu gives it to him anyway. The third is a plea – Just let me know you made it home safe. 

Samu is like that. He’ll swear and spit at Atsumu that he’s done – he’ll stomp away proclaiming time and time again that this is the last time he’s putting up with his shit, but he’s a natural-born worrier, and he can’t help himself from checking in. Atsumu has been horrible to him. 

There aren’t many things that he can manage to do at this moment. He’s used up all of his lingering will-power, poured the remainder of his soul into the videos that sit unwatched on his phone. He’s tired. Atsumu is just so tired, but he can text Samu back, at least. He deserves that much courtesy from Atsumu. One thing at a time – that’s a good mantra to have, right? If Atsumu has to live the rest of his life like this, then he’s going to have to get used to doing menial tasks again. He has to start somewhere.

Atsumu confirms that he’s alive and then powers down his phone. That may be the only way he can successfully fall asleep.

Forty-five minutes of lying with his thoughts determine that there’s no way he’s going to be able to turn off his brain. He’s too exposed, like a live-wire, constantly on the brink of short-circuiting. Burnt-out, used, ruined – they’re all dramatically painful emotions to be feeling at a constant basis and Atsumu is doing just that. He’s feeling them, nonstop. 

He’s tired and there has to be a point where he collapses, where his energy just depletes all at once and he’s forced into a coma, but if there is then he hasn’t reached it yet. It’s like he’s grieving in stages – first, all he could do was sleep, but now, he’s forced to stay awake and relive last night on a tortuous repeat.

They always have a few days off after games to recuperate. Atsumu barely remembers how he spent them before Omi. Before Omi, they were a hindrance – Atsumu didn’t want to take a break, especially when Shoyo spent all of his time chasing down his old setter and Bokun holed up at his place with Akaashi. Samu was busy so often, that it left Atsumu itching to do anything but sit around. He learned early into his relationship with Omi that he was the same way, and so their days off became increasingly filled with activities they could do together.

Omi was obsessed with planning things, which Atsumu found endlessly endearing and entirely surprising. Atsumu thought Omi would be the type to never leave his comfortable bubble of home, but just because he’s a control freak doesn’t mean he doesn’t take advantage of the city he lives in. He would troll Osaka's social media pages and send various events to Atsumu for his approval – seafood festivals, foreign film screenings in the park, and visits to historical monuments. It turned out that Omi was indeed a homebody, but when he liked someone enough, he wanted to take them everywhere. 

They never worried about being caught. None of their teammates lived in the same part of the city as them, so it was their time to be normal, to be a couple, even if they technically weren’t – officially. 

Sometimes, they forgo the planning altogether, choosing instead to laze around and recover. Omi would run a bubble bath with all sorts of fancy oils and soaps meant to ease sore muscles and they would soak for hours. Atsumu would make them an easy dinner and they would fall asleep in the middle of a TV show. Omi always woke up – his body wouldn’t allow anything less than optimal comfort when it came to sleeping, and he would drag Atsumu with him to bed.

Now, Atsumu has two days in front of him and absolutely no prospects on how to spend them other than rotting away in his room. He kind of alienated the majority of his friends all in one night, what with lashing out at Samu, running away from Shoyo, and disappearing without telling anybody where he was going. Reckless behavior – Atsumu stresses people out. Maybe it’s good for Omi not to remember him. 

He doesn’t want to go down that path of thought. Atsumu is tired of self-destructing. If he stays like this, in bed, self-pitying, then he may never get up again. 

There’s only one thing he can think to do – his go-to, a failsafe. No matter how badly Atsumu has fucked up his life, he has one constant. 

The walk to the gym is a familiar one, second-nature at this point and it goes by in a sleep-deprived haze. It feels as if he hasn’t walked far at all before he’s pushing through the door and breathing in the usual air of it all. It’s comforting.

They share the gym with several other teams in the area, but it’s nearly empty at this time of morning. Atsumu finds an open court, digs a volleyball out of the storage closet, and gets to work. 

He serves until his wrists are pulsing. He throws up set after set, even though there’s nobody to receive. He slams the ball down on the court, against the wall, letting the echo in the empty gym drown out the thoughts that buzz in the back of his mind. He runs laps, dives, jumps, and every time he falters, he does ten more drills. He lets sweat drip into his eyes and blind him. He doesn’t stop until his breaths go ragged and his vision begins to blur. 

Atsumu runs out of stamina after nearly two hours, and when everything catches up to him, it does so all at once, slamming into him like a speeding train. He collapses to the floor, gasping for air, and closes his eyes. 

 

-x-

 

“Tsumu!”

A pair of rough hands aggressively jolt Atsumu awake and he startles so violently that he sits all the way up. 

His eyes shoot open to take in one very concerned Shoyo staring at him like he just woke the dead.

“I was about to call an ambulance. You sleep like a rock.

Atsumu takes a moment to regain his bearings. His eyelids stick together and his lips are dry and cracked. It’s like he just woke up in a desert after spending the last six hours having his head beaten in with a sledgehammer. His back aches and his stomach rumbles at him in protest. He feels worse than death.

“Fuck, whatcha doin’ here, Shoyo?” he rasps. “What time is it?” 

“What are you doing?” Shoyo shoots back. “It’s 10 AM. Did you sleep here all night?!”

“No,” he mumbles. His vision is swimming but after a few heavy blinks, Shoyo comes into focus. He’s frowning, scrutinizing Atsumu. “I just wanted some extra practice and I sat down to rest my eyes for a second and fell asleep.” 

Shoyo’s gloom intensifies. It’s making Atsumu feel bad. He can’t be mad at Shoyo – and he wasn’t in the first place, not really. It’s not his fault for blurting out something completely commonplace among the team. If it hadn’t been Shoyo, then it would’ve been Inunaki or Bokun. Eventually, somebody would’ve shattered the illusion, and Atsumu has no one to blame but himself for that.

“Sorry for runnin’ out on ya last night, Sho,” he sighs. “My head wasn’t on straight.”

Shoyo plops down on the floor next to him. “You okay, Tsumu? You’ve been really weird lately, ever since Omi’s accident.” 

Ah, so they’re getting right into it. It’s easier that way with Shoyo – beating around the bush just leads to more questioning. It’s like Shoyo charges up while people stall. 

“Have I been?” Atsumu asks idly. He doesn’t want to talk about Omi. It’s bad enough that he’s in every thought, that any passing imagery conjures up a memory tied to it – he doesn’t want to talk about him like he’s just a teammate. 

“I dunno if they have anything to do with each other, and I might be overstepping but...you’ve been really up and down. Some days, you’re in a great mood, and then other times, I notice you staring into space like you’re about to cry. I remember...the day we were all at the hospital, you looked – ”

“Ya’ve got it wrong, Sho.” He smiles sadly. His lips burn, like the action is foreign and wrong. “I’ve just got some personal stuff goin’ on. ‘S got nothing to do with Omi.” 

“But what I said – ”

“Ya didn’t say anythin’ that’s not the truth. Someone was gonna tell him he hated my guts eventually, but I was just...enjoyin’ it for too long, I guess.”

He was enjoying his pocket of peace with Omi – his pure-hearted friendship, his complete trust in Atsumu, the joy he got from existing near him once again. He should’ve told him from the beginning, but Atsumu fears rejection like nothing else on this earth, and the thought of Kiyoomi laughing in his face terrorized him.

Of course, it would come crashing down on him, eventually, but just then, Atsumu wanted to enjoy what he was allowed to have. 

“I don’t think you ever hated Omi, right?” Shoyo muses. “You two act like Tobio and I. We always fought, but we were best friends too. It’s like that with you and Omi – at least, for you.” 

Omi always was a better actor than Atsumu. He used to tease that Omi had a switch in the back of his neck that toggled facial expressions off and on. At practice, it stayed off, but as soon as he and Atsumu made it behind one of their doors, Atsumu drew every expression out of him that he could. 

“Yeah, I never hated him,” Atsumu sighs, such a simple admission, an obvious truth, but it reveals a piece of Atsumu and Omi’s secret.

“Then why did you act like that with him?” Shoyo cocks his head to the side. “You’re great at making friends.”

“I thought I was just doin’ what he wanted.” He stretches back out onto the floor, tired again. “Maybe I thought I could get him to like me this time around.”

Again, Atsumu’s brain supplies – a truth twisted in a few simple words. It’s not worth it now, to tell what was once fact. There’s no chance of things ever being the same again, so to admit out loud what he and Omi had tried for so long to hide would just be deepening the wound. If Atsumu keeps twisting the knife, he’ll never heal. “We aren’t like you and Tobio. We were never friends, and it was stupid of me to try and be.”

Shoyo hums, contemplating that. “Why didn’t you tell us? We would’ve helped you be friends for real!”

Atsumu laughs. Things are simple for Shoyo. He’s been lucky, to be blessed by relationships that are so simple. Atsumu and Omi were tangled up from the start. 

He’s bitter, but not at Omi – he’s mad at himself for going along with it all. 

“Yeah, and then we’d all be lyin’ to him. I didn’t give him a choice in the matter.” 

Saying the words out loud makes them true, and Atsumu is overwhelmed with the shame that consumes him. He lied to the person he loves most in the world – actually, he lied to all of the people he loves in the world. Atsumu has plenty of love to give; he’s never been stingy with it. He can be catty and cruel, but to those he loves – he has only one rule. He doesn’t intentionally hurt them. He came up with it after he broke Samu into pieces, that one day after he told him he was leaving the team. Atsumu would do everything in his power to never hurt another human being like that ever again.

Yet, here he is, breaking all of his self-imposed rules. 

“What did you tell him?” 

“Just that we were friends before,” Atsumu answers miserably. “And some other stuff that doesn’t matter.” Atsumu told Omi the vaguest version of the truth, and it bit him in the ass. “He’s never gonna trust me again, but it was only a matter of time. He woulda figured me out.” 

“Maybe you can try again. You can just tell him that you’re sorry for lying, but that you want to be friends for real. Then, even if he gets his old memories back, you’ll have replaced them with good ones!”

It’s such a sweet concept that Atsumu smiles. “I don’t think I can do that. It’ll be alright, though. We’ll still be able to play together just fine, I’m sure.”

“You kinda suck at volleyball when you’re upset,” Shoyo says with enough brute-force bluntness that it bruises Atsumu’s ego. “And you’re obviously really upset over this, so you have to at least try to do something to fix it.”

“How about this?” Atsumu proposes because he needs an escape from this conversation. “If I’m playin’ like shit by practice in two days, I’ll let ya be my therapist. But if I play well, ya gotta leave the subject alone.” 

Shoyo rolls his eyes, but they still sparkle. Sometimes, it really is that simple with him. “You’re on. I think you better start practicing now!”

Atsumu thinks he may throw up any moment, but Shoyo knows what state he’s in, so he figures he’s prepared for the consequences. He drags a stray trash-can to the side of the net anyway, just in case. 

They fall into a rhythm, and Atsumu’s brain finally powers back on enough to realize that it’s strange for Shoyo to be here on a day off. Just like Atsumu – he has a reason. “Whatcha practin’ so much for, Sho? Ya did great in the game yesterday.”

“Ah, well, everyone was kinda worried about you last night,” he answers sheepishly. “Osamu texted Akaashi asking if Bokuto had heard from you, and so Bokuto texted the group chat and nobody knew, and so I thought you might be here. By the time Bokuto told me that Osamu told them he’d heard from you, I was already halfway here so I figured I’d practice. I’m always down for more practice. It helps me destress.” He smiles.

Ah, of course, Atsumu had made a scene last night. He didn’t pay much attention to anyone around him, just Omi – all that had mattered was getting to Omi. His drunken, one-track mind doesn’t excuse the fact that he cried and threw up in the street like some kind of lunatic. 

“I shouldn’ta worried ya all. It was really nothin’, my emotions were just runnin’ high. Ya know how I get when I’m drunk.” He tries to give Shoyo a reassuring smile, but he doesn’t think it’s very convincing. “I hope yer not beatin’ yerself up over it.” 

“I’m not,” Shoyo mutters, even though it’s obvious he is. 

“Hey, Sho. If ya wanna make it up to me that bad, do me a favor?”

“Anything!” Shoyo nods enthusiastically, determination illuminating him. 

“Just...talk to Omi some, okay? Treat him normally, but watch after him. Sometimes he forgets to eat dinner, so invite him out. Maybe send him a text or two every so often. He needs someone, even if he doesn’t think so.”

Shoyo’s watery eyes and pitying smile are enough to break Atsumu’s heart yet another time. 

 

-x-

 

He’s not doing well, but Atsumu is stable, at least for the rest of the weekend. He averages about four hours of sleep a night if he’s lucky, but he’d rather be awake than dream of Omi, so he finds things to do to keep him entertained in the late hours. He’s going to fuck up his circadian rhythm, but he’ll worry about that later. Right now, he’s just trying to keep his head above water.

He’s taken to searching for television shows with complicated plots – usually with subtitles, the kind that requires his undivided attention. He tries fancy recipes that he can’t look away from, ones that would make even Samu’s head spin. They’re not always good, but they pass the time. He spends hours in the apartment gym. When he inevitably wakes up in the middle of the night, he always checks his phone, a habit that he has no way to break, even though Omi never texts him.

Others do. Shoyo checks in on him every few hours, which would be sweet if Atsumu wasn’t so overwhelmed with the idea of talking to anybody. He responds back with enough to quell Shoyo’s worries, and gets back to his scheduled binge-watching. Suna texts him too, probably at Samu’s request. He has too much pride to text Atsumu outright after his proclamation, and Atsumu has nothing but more lies to tell him, so he doesn’t seek him out. Atsumu replies to Suna, though, with proof that he’s eating and sleeping as much as he can, knowing Suna will forward the messages straight to Samu. 

For two days, Atsumu goes to the practice gym by himself and drills serves and sets until he can no longer stand. Rinse and repeat, until his time is up, and what he’s been dreading is upon him.

He knows he can’t avoid Omi. He doesn’t want to, to be honest. Even after he told Atsumu that he wanted nothing to do with him, he can’t help but want to see his face, to know that he’s okay. He’s itched to text all weekend, to check in. He dug his nails into the couch cushions to resist jumping up from his seat and running up the stairs to Omi’s apartment. He knows it’s not his right to do so anymore. It hasn’t been for a while now. 

Seeing him at practice is a double-edged sword. It’s a blessing because it allows Atsumu to be close to him without invading Omi’s space, but it’s torture. It’s torture to even think about his proximity to Omi – the fact that he’s mere footsteps away and Atsumu can do nothing to close the distance. Practice, when they’re right next to each other on the court, will be a whole different beast.

He considers calling out sick, but it’s not like he can have the flu for the rest of his life. His options are to quit the Black Jackals and flee the country or suck it up and endure the pain. He agonizes until the last possible second and it makes him late. He’s the last to show up at practice and he jogs in, shouting an apology to Meian and Coach Foster, blaming his alarm for not going off. 

“Oi, Tsumu, you’re alive!” Bokun booms upon his arrival. “Akaashi and I thought you might’ve fallen into a ditch somewhere after Friday.” 

“Fortunately for ya’ll, I’m still here. Ya don’t have to go scroungin’ up a new setter.” Atsumu gives him a tight smile, trying to be his normal, teasing self. Most of them will believe him. They don’t look too closely, other than Shoyo, apparently. He doesn’t care what the rest of the team thinks, but he does care about Omi.

Omi, who Atsumu locked in on the moment he walked through the doors, is hitting back and forth with Inunaki, working on his receives. He hasn’t even so much as glimpsed in Atsumu’s general direction. He’s fully focused, self-control not wavering in the slightest.

Atsumu feels nausea coming on. He tries to swallow it down, but it’s a heavy pill – Omi didn’t break once, no texts, no calls and now not even bothering to acknowledge his presence.

He really meant it – he’s done.

“Miya, you dick,” Inunaki notices him and bumps the ball over to Omi before turning to glare in Atsumu’s direction. “Learn to handle your alcohol!”

Omi misses the ball. Atsumu forces himself not to stare. 

“Hey, it’s pretty funny when you get drunk,” Tomas begins, “But don’t just run off without telling anyone. We were all blowing up your phone.”

“Ah, I dropped it in the toilet,” Atsumu lies. Lying is so easy now. He wonders if he’ll ever be able to be honest again. “Haven’t gotten around to gettin’ a new one, sorry to worry ya.”

“You’re a liability,” sighs Meian. “Well, make sure you get one soon so you can keep up with schedule changes.”

“Yup, I sure will do that.”

Omi’s next hit to Inunaki is sloppy and he grunts out an apology when Inunaki has to dive to receive it. 

“Don’t worry,” Inunaki insists. “I’m a much better teacher than Miya.” 

“I appreciate the extra time,” Omi says humbly. Atsumu’s jaw sets in a hard line. He reminds himself again that this is nobody’s fault but his own. Inunaki is just teasing. He doesn’t know that the jab feels like a brick sitting on Atsumu’s chest. 

Practice is a slog, though Atsumu knew it would be. He’s in terrible form despite all of the extra work he put in over the weekend. Every other word that comes out of his mouth is an apology – sorry to Shoyo for the sloppy set, sorry to Inunaki for knocking into him, sorry to Coach Foster for being off his game. 

Sorry to Omi, for hurting him, for ruining everything, for not being enough for him to remember – though he keeps that one in his head. 

He’s able to get himself together halfway through, fighting through his aching muscles and shaking hands. It’s still not enough – Coach Foster grabs him with five minutes to go and asks if he needs to stay after.

Atsumu considers saying yes, if only because extra practice could mean the prospect of Omi, but that would be selfish of him. Omi doesn’t want to spend time with him. He’s spent the entirety of practice being perfectly cordial to everyone, including Atsumu, but there’s ice in every word he says. He’s not sure if it hurts more that every set Atsumu does manage to get into the air properly, Omi hits. Other than the bags under his eyes, there is no indication that he’s affected by his falling out with Atsumu at all.

Atsumu knows Omi. He knows when he’s barely holding it together, but now, he’s perfectly composed. 

“Nah, I’m fine, Coach,” Atsumu promises. “I’ll be back on my game tomorrow, don’t ya worry.”

“You better be. We’re playing EJP in a few weeks.” He pauses and watches as the rest of the team finishes up. The end of practice is always devoted to polishing up their individual skills. Omi is opposite of Shoyo and Bokun now. Shoyo is working on his sets and Omi is blocking every shot Bokun tries to make. “How do you think Kiyoomi is doing? Do you think you need to continue working together?”

“Nah,” Atsumu says sadly, every instinct screaming at him, begging him to say yes, to force Omi into talking to him. “I think he’s gonna be just fine workin’ with Inunaki now.” 

Coach Foster nods. “Something going on outside of practice, Atsumu?”

“No, sir.” He shakes his head. “I’m all good.”

He’s being assessed, he knows – Coach Foster is trying to read him, so Atsumu keeps his face a blank slate, and ultimately, he sighs. “Okay, go stretch. Sleep early tonight, and come back in better shape tomorrow.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

When Atsumu makes it back over to the rest of their team, they’re in a circle. Omi is plopped in between Shoyo and Bokun, who are talking his ear off while he rolls out his wrists. Atsumu stays on the other side, but it’s not far enough away for Shoyo to leave him out.

“Tsumu! We were just talking to Omi – Sakusa, sorry, I’ll get it right, promise – we were talking about getting dinner. You wanna come? Bokun and I found a really great fried chicken place nearby.” 

Atsumu knows the place. He and Omi have been there. 

Omi frowns. “I don’t think I can – ”

Atsumu cuts him off. “Can’t make it, Sho. Ya’ll go on and have fun, though. I’ll catch ya next time.” 

Omi closes his mouth. He grants Atsumu a fleeting glance, but his face is unreadable. 

“You’ll still come, right, Omi?” Shoyo asks. “It’s so good, I promise!”

“Sure,” Omi answers, voice devoid of any specific emotion. “I’ll come.” 

It’s okay, Atsumu decides. It’ll be better like this. Eventually, he’ll become numb to the pain. Eventually, seeing Omi won’t break him in half. Eventually, maybe, he’ll be able to talk to him without tears threatening to well up in his eyes. As long as Omi is okay, as long as he isn’t lonely, and he’s taken care of, Atsumu will be able to survive this. 

He finishes his stretches and goes back home. 

 

-x-

 

Time is supposed to heal everything. Atsumu has given that bullshit advice before, to heartbroken teammates, to Samu, when they first ventured out to repair their broken relationship, to himself after losses. Everything gets better with time – that’s how it should work, but with each passing day, Atsumu feels like he’s being dragged further into the hole he’s trying so desperately to avoid.

He manages to stay put together at practice, with carefully calculated fake smiles and breathless laughter that’s quieter than it once was. He makes sure his sets are meticulous, gives nobody any reason to doubt his abilities. When he has to work with Omi, they do so with minimal words. Atsumu’s throat closes up around the encouragements he wants to give him; he swallows down his apologies. He keeps his distance. It works, but he’s living in a glass house – one well-aimed rock, and everything around him will come crashing down.  

“So, did you and Sakusa have a falling out?” Inunaki asks him, two days into his torture. “You two were getting along strangely well. Now you’re not even bickering, you’re just not talking.”

“Well, we were never friends in the first place, were we?” Atsumu answers Inunaki’s question with his own. “Hey, ya wanna do two-on-two with Barnes and Bokun?”

Atsumu’s strategy is simple – deflect, deflect, deflect. He can get away with avoiding any and all questions about Omi, about himself, his mental state, his game-play, if he just changes the subject. His teammates don’t want to pry too deep – it’s surface-level information they’re interested in. 

Even Shoyo doesn’t poke at him because Atsumu kept his word. He’s doing just fine at his sport, so Shoyo isn’t allowed to dig anymore. 

He is keeping up his own promise, though, and doing his damndest to make sure Omi is never left out. Shoyo flits around him like a moth, including him in everything they do. Every time, he begins the proposition with, “Bokuto, Atsumu and I” and Atsumu has to correct him, giving a myriad of excuses as to why he can’t attend. Every dinner, he tells them that he bought too many groceries and he can’t let them go bad. Every invitation to a bar, Atsumu sheepishly shrugs off, saying he’s sworn off alcohol for a while. When Inunaki offers to host a movie night, Atsumu declines, claiming he’s going to visit Samu.

Omi always accepts, after making sure Atsumu isn’t going to be there. His teammates make note of it, teasing him, saying it’s so unlike him to be so social. Omi shrugs. 

“Maybe I like to be social. How would I know?” 

Everyone laughs at that, like it’s a hilarious joke. Atsumu hears the sadness in his words and he wants to reach out, to comfort, to reassure, but instead, he bites his tongue and goes home to spend another night alone. 

Atsumu watches Omi as much as he can. He’s discreet, letting his eyes wander covertly from the bench when Omi is on the court, or glancing at him whenever his attention is elsewhere. He watches the eye bags deepen, watches his skin grow sallower, and he doesn’t understand it. This should be better for Omi. He’s been spending time with his teammates, doing well at practice, and he no longer has the burden that Atsumu cast upon him. He should be thriving, but the little tells are there. 

After six days in which life has not grown any easier for Atsumu, Shoyo makes an announcement. 

“I found a new dance club.” There are stars in his eyes. “We all have to go. We have to! I can teach you all how to dance!”

“That sounds fun!” Bokun agrees. “I’m down.”

“Hinata, there is no way in hell that anybody here can dance like you,” Meian groans. “We didn’t all get the privilege of living in Brazil.”

“Anybody can learn!” Shoyo insists. 

“It would be fun to watch,” Inunaki muses. “Tomas, can you shake your hips?”

“Absolutely not.”

“I can,” Barnes offers. When everybody stares at him in mild shock, he shrugs. “My wife is a former exotic dancer.”

“You’ve – you’ve never told us that,” Meian manages, eyes wide.

“Dude,” Inunaki gasps. Barnes just shrugs again.

“It can be a team bonding activity!” Shoyo cries while Inunaki lunges for Barnes, demanding he show him pictures. “We can all go! It’ll be so fun!” 

“I’m in,” Tomas declares. “Only if Barnes teaches Sakusa how to shake his butt.”

Omi scrunches his nose up in displeasure. Atsumu always loved when he did that – he would kiss it and watch the grumpiness slide right off of Omi’s face. “I don’t dance.”

“Well, how do you know?” Bokun teases. “You could be a great dancer and you just don’t remember!”

Omi frowns at that and a worry line creases his forehead, like he’s considering that may be true. Omi does not like to dance unless it’s dancing around the kitchen when he thinks nobody is watching, or slow-dancing in his living room when Atsumu insists the song calls for it. His heart aches, but it always does nowadays. It’s become a constant pain that flares up every so often when a particular memory hits him hard.

He thinks of ways to dip out of this conversation early without being suspicious.

“We all have to go!” Shoyo pleads. “We never get everyone out at the same time. Just come for a little bit, Sakusa! If you hate it, you can leave.”

Omi considers this. Atsumu knows the answer. There is no way in hell that Omi is going to an honest-to-God nightclub. He’ll do bars, but nightclubs are too overstimulating, and it’s not going to dance with a stranger, or – 

“Okay, I’ll go,” he says.

Atsumu’s heart sinks to his stomach. Omi has said yes to everything Shoyo (and their other teammates) has asked of him this week, and Atsumu should be happy about that. It’s what he wanted, but it’s also just...not Omi.

He could huff and puff and whine about socialization all day, and Atsumu would humor him, but he knew that deep down, Omi loved the Black Jackals. Atsumu caught him more than once smiling in Shoyo’s direction when he thought no one was looking, or chuckling at one of Barnes’ bad dad jokes. There was no denying that Omi cared for his teammates, but it was also not a secret that they exhausted him. He told Atsumu once that for every one hour of practice, he needed at least three hours to decompress at home. When Atsumu brought up the fact that he came over after every practice, Omi waved him away and said he didn’t count. It was a point of pride for Atsumu – one that he definitely brought up to Omi whenever the opportunity arose. Omi was comfortable around him – he was on a different level than the others, even early on.

Now, everything has shifted and it’s Atsumu who drains him. It doesn’t explain why Omi is going along with everything he’s asked of, though – does he think that’s what’s expected of him? Omi has never been the type to care about societal obligations, and Atsumu knows that was true of him in high school too.

It’s been grating on him all week, seeing Omi so agreeable to things Atsumu knows he doesn’t enjoy doing, and since he has had nothing but time, he spent the entirety of one evening researching further into the effects of amnesia and after reading at least six heart-wrenching, personal accounts of it, he determined that Omi is lashing out. He’s frustrated that he doesn’t remember, so he’s doing things he would never do in an attempt to regain some kind of control over his situation. It makes sense – Omi has a deep-seated need to stay in control of himself, which is why something like this must be killing him.

Atsumu knows he could help. If he hadn’t screwed things up, he could be there for Omi, but he’s trying not to focus on what could have been, and instead on what is. 

He knows he can’t just leave Omi on his own in these situations, though. He should say no, he can’t make it to the club, but the thought of Omi there, without Atsumu to rescue him if he gets overwhelmed terrifies him. What if somebody touches him without his permission? Atsumu can’t – he can’t just sit home and imagine that. The rest of his team won’t know to look out for him, especially if they’re all drunk. 

“Tsumu, you’ll come too, right?” Shoyo pleads. 

Omi watches Atsumu in his peripheral vision. Atsumu’s mouth is dry. “Uh.”

Inunaki groans and points an accusing finger in Atsumu’s direction. “You better. You don’t get to become a social recluse all of the sudden. We have enough whiplash going on with this team.” 

“Yeah, Tsumu, have fun with us!” Bokun insists.

“I guess so,” he mutters. His heart hammers in his chest. He doesn’t look at Omi. “I’ll come.” 

He holds his breath, waiting for Omi to retract his acceptance, to make up an excuse, but the moment doesn’t come. He stays perfectly still, staring at the floor as he stretches. The whoops and cheers of his teammates fade to background noise as anxious butterflies gnaw at Atsumu’s stomach. 

 

 

-x-

 

Hyperfixation is a great thing when it comes to developing a skill. Atsumu has been able to come as far as he has in volleyball because of his insane ability to focus on nothing else but his goals and aspirations. It’s been imperative to his success, and so he’s never worried about his tendency to latch onto things until they’re all he can think about.

For the next three days, Atsumu can think of nothing but going out on Saturday. He goes back and forth on his plans for it, juggling ideas that range from playing it as safe as humanly possible or going the full self-destruction route.

The safest option is to lay low, to stay near Barnes and Tomas and Meian who will likely find a booth to drink in and to dip out after an hour or two. They’ll likely talk strategy and about their personal lives, and Atsumu likes to see pictures of Barnes’ daughter and hear about Tomas’s off-and-on-again relationship. He can keep an eye on Omi from afar – not that he’s going to need it because Atsumu has convinced himself that he’s being ridiculous. Omi is probably going to sulk the whole time.

On the flip side – what if he doesn’t? Atsumu could get preemptively incoherently drunk again, just in case Omi decides to torture him in some way (and there are a lot of ways he can), because can he really fuck his life up further? Omi already hates him. He can’t make it much worse, but he doesn’t necessarily want to deal with a hangover in the morning, and the thought of liquor still makes his stomach twinge in protest. 

The third and most terrifying option is to take it as an opportunity to talk to Omi. It has the potential for the worst outcome, and Atsumu is apparently a coward now, so he leaves it at the very bottom of his list. 

He no longer can focus on the shows that he’s taken to watching in the evening and instead he plays out scenarios in his head, one after the other. He prepares for at least sixty different situations, including five where he has to defend Omi from an unsavory stranger, and thirty-three in which Omi tells him some variation of, ‘go fuck yourself’. The rest are a mix of tragedies and victories, but he needs to be prepared.

It’s probably an unhealthy coping mechanism, but Atsumu doesn’t have the energy to fight against his own brain, so he just gives in. 

At least, time passes quickly. It’s painful still, but less so when all of the days blend together. His new routine is miserable, but he’s managing the basics of eating at least twice a day, showering after practice, and sleeping the minimum his body can function with. It’s not ideal, but he can survive it.

Even though it’s literally all he’s been thinking about, Saturday sneaks up on him. They have a short morning practice before a long weekend and all of his teammates are chipper about the prospect. Atsumu drags his feet and takes too long in the locker room. Coach Foster makes him run extra laps around the court before he gets into position for a scrimmage. 

He could visit his parents on Sunday. It’s been a while, but Samu is always going home to help out around the house, and Atsumu doesn’t know what he would say if he encountered him there. He’s going on nearly eight days of no direct contact with Samu. The longest he’s ever gone is five and he had tryouts and apartment hunting and planning for the future to distract him from it. 

Atsumu is his own person. He’s spent the entirety of his life trying to prove that, but he can’t pretend that the people in his life don’t have an effect on him. Missing Omi and Samu is like walking around without his vital organs. 

“Atsumu, you’re spacing out. You’re going to get hit in the face,” Tomas calls in warning. Atsumu tunes back into practice and gives his all in the last five minutes. It’s enough to get him through it, even though his entire body is a ticking time bomb of anticipation for the night.

It’s all they talk about in their stretches. Shoyo is thrilled beyond belief that nobody has bailed, which is fair because at least three of them are flakey enough that it wouldn’t be unlikely. Atsumu is included on that list now.

Shoyo orchestrates the plan in its entirety, making sure everyone has the correct time, address, and expectations. With how he’s talking about it, you’d think he’s never been out a night in his life, but Shoyo just gets really excited over any opportunity for team bonding. 

When Shoyo starts spouting off about a dress code, Omi raises an eyebrow.

“I’m wearing sweatpants,” he threatens. Atsumu smiles to himself, then wipes it away before Omi can see. He’s been growing more and more comfortable with their team. Atsumu remembered the first time around – it was like the ice melted off of Omi, and he blossomed into someone expressive, sarcastic, hilarious. Atsumu was the first to notice, but eventually, the whole team got to witness the joy that was an Omi making a  joke.

It’s harder this time around because Atsumu feels like an outsider to it all. 

“You’d probably be able to get away with it,” Inunaki bemoans. “You have the type of face where they’d let you into a nightclub wearing your pajamas.”

Omi smirks. A storm brews in Atsumu’s head. 

They discuss details – who’s splitting ride-shares, who’s pre-gaming. Bokun reminds them all to eat plenty of protein beforehand. Atsumu is given his own special warning not to overdo it. 

“We don’t want the paparazzi to catch you throwing up in the street,” Meian says. “Take care of yourself.” 

“I’ve sworn myself to a life of bein’ sober,” Atsumu promises, crossing his heart. 

Bokun thunders out a laugh. “We’ll see about that!” 

Atsumu can’t pace around his apartment for the six hours he has before they go out, so he goes on a run. He hates running. It’s the worst form of exercise – there’s nothing fun about forcing his legs to carry him aimlessly. The only way he remotely enjoyed it was when it became a race. Omi loved it, though, and he would haul Atsumu from the comfort of their bed and drag him down the stairs with him. He refused to race him, but that didn’t stop Atsumu from pretending.

He jogs now, a steady pace, and thinks he gets some of the appeal. At least when he’s running, he can get away from his thoughts. He blares music in his ears and lets his lungs settle into a constant burn.

He ends up at the hospital. It’s not intentional, but his legs take him to a lot of places that he doesn’t mean to end up at these days. He stares up at it, at the rows and rows of windows, wondering who sits in the rooms. 

Atsumu has never been one to dwell on the past. He can usually accept things as they are, but he can’t for the life of him understand why Omi had to get into a car accident that day. It’s a cruel and unfair punishment from the universe, or maybe it’s some kind of karmic balance. Atsumu was too happy and he needed to be knocked down a peg.

Maybe it’s because he and Omi never put a label on their relationship, because Atsumu was content with loving him in secret. Maybe he’s just unlucky. He runs away from it all now, passing through parks, going by restaurants. 

They say you can’t outrun your problems, but Atsumu sure tries. 

He runs until his legs threaten to give out and then turns back around. When he gets back to his apartment, he showers and collapses into bed and for once, he’s able to pass out easily.

 

-x-

 

Two hair-washes and six outfits later, Atsumu leaves his apartment again and makes his way downstairs to wait for his ride. Shoyo and Bokun both offered to split it with him, but it was out of the way, and Atsumu insisted against it. He thinks Shoyo is worried he’s going to flee, but he doesn’t break his promises, and he’s resigned himself to going. 

Usually, on these types of nights, he would share a car with Omi. Their proximity made it so nobody questioned the choice, and Atsumu got to hold his hand in the backseat and text back and forth about their driver’s music selection.  

That’s obviously out of the equation tonight.

It’s warm outside, so Atsumu opted for short sleeves and a pair of nice slacks, per Shoyo’s dress code. He waits with his back against the wall, staring idly at nothing and letting his vision blur in that way it always does when he spaces out. His ride is supposedly only seven minutes away, so he shouldn’t have to wait long. 

From a few feet away, somebody clears their throat quietly, and Atsumu’s head snaps up.

Omi is there – right there, watching him carefully. It’s not as if he hasn’t been within ten feet of Omi for the past week, but it’s different when it’s practice and they’re part of a larger team. It’s easier to disappear, to avoid. Now, there’s nobody between them, and the only audience they have are the pedestrians that pass by on the sidewalk in front of them.

 Omi’s eyes narrow when Atsumu looks back at him and he crosses his arms, settling into the opposing wall.

“Hey,” Atsumu croaks. Omi says nothing but looks pointedly at his phone. Atsumu should leave it at that, but the tension is so overpowering he feels like he’ll suffocate on it. “Are ya waitin’ for yer ride?”

“No, I’m just standing here for fun,” Omi snaps back. 

“Just makin’ conversation,'' Atsumu mumbles, barely audible. Omi hears regardless. All of his senses are freakishly refined – he can hear a whisper from a mile away. 

“Well, don’t. I’m just standing here because it’s away from the street,” he says evenly. 

“Alright,” Atsumu mutters. Mean Omi is a beast to handle. All of his words spew toxicity. There’s a bite behind every syllable. When they fought, Atsumu could handle Omi’s cruel streak – he knew that the words he meant were simply weapons, used to wound, but Omi didn’t really mean them. Now, Atsumu knows that he does. 

They stand in uncomfortable, stifling silence until Omi’s ride shows up, and he goes without another word to Atsumu. It was so easy for him to leave the night at the bar, and every time since. Omi never looks back at Atsumu. 

When his ride comes shortly after, he sinks into the backseat, wondering if he should cancel it before the driver can finish entering the address into his GPS. 

This is a bad idea, but still, Atsumu goes anyway.

By the time he arrives, he’s fully convinced that this is the worst decision he’s made in at least the past six days (it’s a steep competition, but it’s up there) but he can’t turn back now. He has to do this.

To Shoyo’s credit – it’s a nice place. If Atsumu wasn’t the human form of misery right now, he would be giddy at the prospect of spending a night at such a ritzy club. The lights are low, and it takes him a minute to find his teammates – luckily, Shoyo and Bokun are beacons of light, and they drag him into the chaos without giving him any chance for regret. Atsumu’s heart thumps at pace with the music as he scans the room for Omi. Shoyo and Bokun bring him right to him. He’s sitting next to Tomas at a booth off in the corner, sipping on a pinkish drink. It’s more ice than drink from what Atsumu can see, so he must be almost through it. He can’t have gotten here much earlier than Atsumu.

Atsumu greets all of his teammates, faltering when he comes to Omi, even though they spoke just a short time ago. Omi nods at him, keeping his lips attached to his straw, sucking it down at a dangerous pace. 

“What are you drinking, Miya?” Tomas asks him. “Inunaki is on bar duty. He’s going to try and take the bartender home.”

Atsumu glances over to where Inunaki is flirting his ass off across the room. The bartender is certainly charmed. He snorts. “I’m good, thanks.”

“Nothing?” Shoyo whines. “Tsumu, you’re not going to dance unless you’re drunk and that’s unacceptable.” 

“Not true, Tsumu never has to be drunk to do anything stupid,” Bokun argues.

“Thank ya for the vote of confidence,” Atsumu says dryly. He’s not sure what he should do. The booth is not big enough for Atsumu to sit down in – he’d either be squeezed next to Omi, or directly across from him, but standing still is making him itch. “I’ll drink somethin’ later. I wanna pace myself.”

“One shot would probably be fine,” Meian says, coming up from behind him with a tray of shot glasses and Inunaki in tow. He’s still throwing furtive glances over his shoulder, seeing if the pretty bartender is looking his way. 

Meian is all responsibility and morals at practice, but as soon as they get anywhere near a bar, he’s a fiend. He shoves shots at them like the alcohol will make them play better. 

Atsumu takes one when it’s passed to him, but his eyes linger on Omi, who swallows down the rest of his drink in one sip and then examines the shot in his hand.

Even when Omi comes out with them, he doesn’t get too drunk. The few times he has, Atsumu has ended up nearly carrying him home. The next morning would be filled with whining and moaning about his headache and Atsumu would bite back any ‘I told you so’s and nurse Omi back to health. They’d order greasy food to be delivered and Omi would drape himself over Atsumu’s lap and let him play with his hair until Omi nodded off. 

Even when Omi did let loose, Atsumu has never seen him go quite this fast, but Omi tilts the shot back with ease, not even flinching when the alcohol hits his throat.

“I’m going to go get another,” he decides, and he slides out of the booth.

Inunaki cackles. “This Sakusa is fun.”

“Keep an eye on him,” Meian says, mostly to Tomas and Barnes – the responsible ones. 

“Ah, let him have fun, Shugo,” Barnes laughs. “God knows the kid needs it.” 

“Besides, this is Sakusa,” Tomas comments. “Crazy for him is probably like...every day behavior for these three.” He gestures to Atsumu, Shoyo, and Bokun. 

Atsumu can feel the fiery intensity of Shoyo’s gaze on him, but that’s nothing new. He’s been boring holes into his head with his stare ever since they had that talk in the gym, but Atsumu doesn’t look at him. He knows he’ll see nothing but concern and that’s not what he wants right now. He’s trying to act naturally, not convince his teammates that he may burst into tears at any moment.

Atsumu takes the moment that Omi is gone to sit down. Inunaki disappears to get more drinks and Atsumu tries to follow the conversation that Meian starts. They’re discussing the upcoming EJP game, and then Barnes’ family, and then the Olympics. He dips in and out, but his attention is elsewhere. Omi has taken a seat at the bar. He’s with Inunaki, who is apparently his best friend now, downing another mixed drink like he’s trying to give himself alcohol poisoning. Inunaki, an enabler, is laughing about it. Atsumu needs to intervene.

“Gonna go get a drink,” he tells Meian, who nods. Shoyo and Bokun have run off to dance, which Atsumu will admit, is a sight. Bokun is all limbs, and he dances with about as much grace as a blind polar bear. God bless Akaashi. Shoyo is much better at it, and Atsumu watches in wonder as both women and men approach him from all angles. He indulges them momentarily but then shoos them away. 

Atsumu feels like he’s aged a hundred years, thinking back to when he could be that carefree. He let Omi ruin him. He never stood a chance. 

He makes it to the bar, putting himself next to Inunaki so there’s a distance between him and Omi. Omi is drunk enough that he’s not glaring at him. His eyes are slightly hooded as he sips from his drink, listening idly to Inunaki and the bartender.

“Heey, Miya,” Inunaki slings an arm around his shoulder. Inunaki is not big enough to handle as much liquor as he has probably already consumed. He may be of similar height to Shoyo, but his tolerance is no match. 

“Hey,” he greets him. The bartender comes to Atsumu’s side immediately, asking him what she can get for him in a sugar-sweet voice. He smiles at her, easy and meaningless, and tells her that he’ll drink whatever she wants to make him.

From the other side of Inunaki, Omi clicks his tongue. Inunaki frowns when the bartender disappears to make his drink and elbows Atsumu in the chest.

“Don’t flirt with her, she’s mine,” he hisses.

“I am not flirtin’ with anyone,” Atsumu grumbles. He was just being nice, which people apparently think he’s incapable of.

“That’s just how he talks to people,” Omi offers. “Miya likes to mess with people’s heads, you know.”

Atsumu gets the wind knocked out of him. It’s just one comment, but it shows the gravity of the situation. It’s bad. Omi is mouthy. He’s too drunk already and his lips are loose. Atsumu hopes the bartender hurries back with his drink.

Inunaki is delighted by the whole situation. “Yeah, are your memories of him coming back?” he prompts. “We all knew that, but we were waiting for you to remember.”

“I don’t need any memories to know that,” Omi says simply, sipping his drink. He doesn’t look at Atsumu when he says it, as if he isn’t there, or just not worth the acknowledgment. The bartender brings Atsumu his drink – something fancy with a lot of colors, not that he cares, as long as it’s alcoholic, and he thanks her with a clenched jaw. He abandons his spot at the bar and goes back to the table, feeling his cheeks heat up with shame and his eyes fill up with stupid tears.

He accomplished nothing. He has no control over the situation – he doesn’t even have control over his own emotions. He would, if he wasn’t so damn tired, but he’s in a fragile state, and Omi is out to hurt him. 

“Tsumu, come dance with us!” Shoyo calls but Atsumu waves him off, not in the mood. He sinks back into the booth, trying to look less miserable than he feels. He sips his drink to help. 

Shoyo doesn’t give up on his endeavor to make his teammates dance, and one by one he drags them onto the dance floor. Barnes does prove that his wife taught him some things and Atsumu is so shocked that he actually laughs out loud, forgetting momentarily the despair of his situation. Even Meian and Tomas go, awkward as all hell, too big to move fluidly. It’s entertaining, and everyone floats back and forth from the table to the dance floor. Atsumu keeps watch over Omi, still sitting at the bar, but he finds himself relaxing with each sip of his drink and the antics of his friends.

When Bokun gets a hold of Omi and drags him into the center of the club, Atsumu’s nerves shoot up once more. 

Omi is really drunk, like the type of drunk to trip over his feet when he tries to get up and then smile about it. Omi doesn’t smile at minor inconveniences, but the expression on his face is so clear even in the low-lighting. He’s dopey and unaffected. Atsumu is so tense that he threatens to snap in two. 

There’s a small circle of them on the dance floor, and strangers box them in. Atsumu doesn’t care that he’s staring – Omi won’t notice him from this distance anyway, and everybody else is preoccupied, away from the booth for one reason or another. Omi is not graceful when he moves, but he’s not terribly awkward either. It takes him a minute to find his rhythm, but when he does, Shoyo and Bokun encourage him, cheering and clapping and laughing like they’re all best friends.

It’s so unlike Omi, but he seems...happy. Was he ever this happy with Atsumu? He suddenly can’t recall. 

Shoyo appears out of nowhere in front of him, blocking Atsumu’s vision. “Tsumu, you’re kinda moping. I thought you said you were okay now.”

“‘M okay,” Atsumu says, tone not even close to being believably okay. 

“He’s not gonna bite you, ya know?” Shoyo says, inclining his head towards Omi, who has stopped dancing for a moment in favor of listening to Bokun shout something at him. Omi is nodding his head, so intensely engaged in whatever nonsense Bokun must be spewing, like he’s giving him the secret to the universe. It would be hilarious if Atsumu weren’t such a disaster. 

“I don’t think he’s gonna bite me,” Atsumu grumbles. He’s feeling the effects of his drink, but only slightly. He can still hold his tongue. “I just don’t wanna dance right now, my feet are tired. I went on a run earlier.”

“What!” Shoyo shouts, indignant. “Every time I ask you to run with me, you tell me you hate it!”

Atsumu shrugs. “I hate a lot of things I do but ya still gotta do ‘em.” 

“Good philosophy.” Shoyo nods enthusiastically. “That applies to dancing too. C’mon.”

“Not happenin’, Sho.” Atsumu’s eyes fix back on Omi. Somebody has approached him and Bokun – somebody that is certainly not a teammate. He’s tall – Omi’s height, if not an inch or two taller, which is ridiculous, because Omi towers above even Atsumu. He’s got platinum blonde hair, parted to the side with what must be a bucket of gel, and even from where he sits, Atsumu can see the smarmy smile. 

His blood begins to boil. Shoyo follows his gaze and he lets out a little squeak.

“I’ve got it, I’ll handle it,” he blurts in a rush and he scurries away back to the group. In the meantime, Barnes and Tomas come back, bringing with them even more shots. Meian has disappeared and Tomas tells Atsumu with a smirk that they probably wouldn’t see him for the rest of the night. 

Shoyo, to his credit, does handle Omi, but it’s a short-lived distraction. He manages to get him away from the blonde predator that’s circling him, but only for a moment. Once Omi gets another drink, he’s right back in the circle, and this time, he lets the man put his hands on his waist.

“Miya,” Barnes touches his arm. “Are you alright?”

“Yup,” Atsumu growls through gritted teeth. He’s not even remotely in the realm of ‘alright’. He hasn’t been for weeks, but he’s kept himself together like a well-practiced tightrope act. Now, he’s stumbling off of the rope and crashing down. “I’m gonna go dance.”

He drains the rest of his drink, jumps out of the booth, and goes towards Omi. 

Omi sees him coming – Atsumu catches the flicker of his eyes to Atsumu’s face, but he acts aloof, like he always does when he’s trying not to show he cares. Atsumu doesn’t buy it. He never once has. 

“Oi,” he snarls to the blonde – nobody is ever allowed to make fun of Atsumu for his old dye job ever again. This clown looks like he used lemon juice, and his roots stick out without purpose. It’s not trendy. It’s ugly. He’s so below Omi’s league it makes Atsumu sneer. “Don’t touch people without permission.” 

Omi pushes Atsumu away, arms slightly wobbly from the intoxication. “Mind your business,” he slurs. Omi does still have enough awareness to glare, and he does so with enough severity to nearly make Atsumu step back. He holds his ground, leveling him with a scowl of his own. “Besides, maybe I like to be touched now.”

“Not by strangers,” Atsumu blurts. No matter how receptive of touch Omi has become over the years, it’s never once extended to strangers. Shaking hands is number two on his list of most hated things, and he uses Atsumu as a shield on public transport. Omi would never – he doesn’t do this.

Omi frowns harder. His eyes are glazed over, like he’s here but also elsewhere. “How would you know, Miya?”

“I already told ya – ”

“I’m not interested in an encore performance of all the lies you told me,” Omi snaps. “You don’t know me, and – neither do I. I don’t know anything about who I’m supposed to be, so I’m just going to do whatever I want.”

“But ya wouldn’t want this.” Atsumu hates the desperation in his voice, but Omi refuses to listen to anything he says. He’s dubbed Atsumu a liar, and so everything that comes out of his mouth goes in one ear and out the other. 

“Actually, I do.” 

Omi turns away from him then, effectively ending the conversation and going back to the blonde idol wannabe. This time, he keeps at least an inch of space between them. It’s still too close. 

Atsumu seethes, but he doesn’t want to make a scene. The last thing he needs is Omi blowing up again – and this time in front of their whole team. He just – he needs a minute. He needs to get oxygen into his body and maybe splash his face with something cool because he’s seeing red. 

Anger is a common emotion. Atsumu has been angry at lots of things, from Samu and Suna to their incessant teasing, to the leg of his couch that he’s banged his ankle on one too many times. Anger is easy – it can be solved simply, usually with laughter, and then all is forgotten. This is past anger. Atsumu is murderous.

There was never any need to be jealous with Omi. He was stuck to Atsumu like superglue and never gave him any cause for concern. Jealousy is a new feeling – it’s awful. 

Atsumu doesn’t want to kill a stranger who really can’t know the whole convoluted story going on here, even if he does hate him, so he ducks into the bathroom and stares at himself in the mirror.

He really does look like shit lately. Eye-bags don’t suit him, and neither does pale skin and flat hair. He tried his best tonight, but there’s an undertone of sadness to his entire being. It hovers over him like a storm cloud. 

He splashes his face with cold water and then roughly rubs a paper towel across his cheeks, to bring feeling back into them. He glares at his own reflection until he’s stopped contemplating manslaughter and then prepares to go back out. He’ll keep an eye on Omi from afar – he’ll make sure that stranger doesn’t try anything funny, and hope the flirting isn’t happening right in front of him. Atsumu is a mixture of dangerously possessive and completely pathetic – he wants to grab Omi, wrap his arms around him, and drag him away, but he knows he has absolutely no grounds to do that. 

He just has to endure it. Atsumu will suffer through the horrible show to make sure Omi isn’t put in an uncomfortable situation. It’s not like he’s actually into the guy from the dance floor – he’s just drunk, and he’s not acting like himself. He has to remind himself over and over again that Omi’s lashing out – he’s confused and it’s pissing him off and so he’s rebelling against everything he thinks he knows. If that’s the case, then Atsumu absolutely has to protect him from himself. 

Once he’s convinced himself that he has the mental capacity to handle this, he walks back out the door and to his table. Bokun and Shoyo have given up in their quest for dancing and they sit ramrod straight in their booth, eyes locked to the dance floor. Tomas and Barnes are looking too, Barnes with concern and Tomas with a grimace. 

“What are ya lookin’ at?” Atsumu asks, approaching them and Shoyo jumps into the air. 

“Nothing! Nothing. Hey, Tsumu, you wanna come outside with – ”

Atsumu stops listening. He didn’t wait for an answer before following everyone’s gaze and it’s clear what they’re all staring at. 

Atsumu is pretty sure he’s gone completely numb. He can feel the blood rushing to his ears like rapids, blocking out everything but a high-pitched ringing. On the dance floor, in plain view, in the middle of a public club, Omi is making out with the blonde stranger. His back is to their table and Atsumu can see the man’s hands on Omi – one on his waist and one gripping tufts of his hair. 

He thinks he’s going to throw up. No, he knows he is, but first, he’s going to kill that man.

“Hey, Atsumu, what are you going to do –”

Atsumu ignores both Tomas and Shoyo as they try to grab him. He’s already halfway across the room, moving without a single thought in his head other than fury. He approaches them and rips the man away from Omi by his arm. He stumbles backward, drunk and wobbly on his feet, and catches himself on the bar.

“What the fuck?” he shouts. “What’s your problem?”

“I told ya not to touch him,” Atsumu snarls, fully prepared to go to jail if the situation calls for it. Maybe the man can see it in his eyes – truly, Atsumu must look insane. He feels insane. The fragile string of control that he’s managed to keep finally snaps taut in half and Atsumu is left in a state of hysteria. “Ya hard of hearin’ or somethin’?”

“What, is this your boyfriend?” the man asks Omi. Omi doesn’t answer. He’s staring at Atsumu in shock, mouth dropped open in a tiny, indignant ‘o’. The man laughs once. “Whatever, I don’t want to get involved in drama. I can find somebody else to fuck.”

“Yeah, as if I would ever fuckin’ let ya,” Atsumu shouts. The anger has boiled over now, and he doesn’t try to stop it. “I’d kill ya before ya could even – ”

Miya.” Omi yanks him by his sleeve and twirls him around so he’s facing him. “What are you doing?”

The stranger takes this as his opportunity to flee the scene and he backs off, shouting a hurried ‘goodbye’ to Omi. Atsumu is going to hunt him down and throw him in a dumpster. Right now, he needs to deal with Omi.

“What are you doin’, Omi? Why are ya actin’ like this? Some fuckin’ stranger – ”

“That’s not my name and I told you, my name is – ”

“I’m not fuckin’ callin’ ya that! I don’t ever call ya that!” Atsumu yells, and ah, this is it – this is the moment he finally breaks. It was a long time coming, with cracks that widened every day. “Answer my question – why are ya doin’ this? Because ya don’t do this, Omi.”

“I don’t know what the fuck I do because I don’t remember!” Omi screams back. They’re in a full-on shouting match now. Bodies move around them but Atsumu doesn’t care. He doesn’t take his eyes off Omi for even a second. “Why does it matter if I didn’t used to do things like that? Whoever I was doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t have to live my life exactly how I used to.” 

“Why are ya fightin’ me so much? I’m the only one who even knows ya and yer just – are ya punishin’ me? Is that it?” 

Omi laughs. It’s shaky, unhinged. “You’re the one who won’t leave me alone. Why are you still playing this game? You think I’m punishing you?” He laughs again. His eyes are watery and his hands tremble. Atsumu notices all of these things because he notices everything about Omi, all of the time. He sees the slight quiver in Omi’s lip when he asks Atsumu, “What do I have to do? What do I have to do to get you out of my head?

Atsumu stops then. “What – what d’ya mean?”

Omi pauses, chest still heaving, tears still close to spilling over, but not quite there. He seems to realize where he is, what he’s said. “I don’t want anything to do with you,” he says, finally. “I said that already. What will it take to make you listen? Do I need to quit MSBY?” 

Atsumu is suffering from extreme whiplash. The fury freezes in his chest and he’s left petrified. “Yer – ya wouldn’t quit the Jackals?”

“If that’s what it takes to get away from you, Miya, then I will. I was obviously stupid enough in the past to join a team with you on it. I’m fixing the mistake.”

Atsumu forgets how to breathe – because Omi is talking about leaving the Black Jackals. He could go anywhere – he could fly six hundred miles away and Atsumu will never see him again. He’s leaving because of Atsumu.

He doesn’t have any pride left. The dam breaks again and tears fall down his cheeks. Omi’s eyes widen, like he didn’t expect him to cry and Atsumu feels extra pathetic. He tries to square his shoulders, to bring himself to his full height, to say something that will hurt Omi as badly as he’s hurt him, but he can’t do it. He can’t hurt Omi on purpose.

“If I’m the problem, then I’ll go, alright? I’ll leave the Black Jackals. My contract is up for renewal soon. I’ll go somewhere else. Ya shouldn’t – yer happy on the team. Ya do well.”

“When will you stop thinking you have the right to tell me what to do with my life? I’m not your fucking pet, or your project, or something to play with when you’re bored,” Omi spits each word like acid. His face is twisted into a scowl, but the lights showcase his exhaustion. Even as he hurts him, Atsumu just wants to take away Omi’s pain. “Just go, Miya. I don’t care what you do or where you go, as long as you stay far away from me.” 

Atsumu is really more pitiful than he thought. He never thought he’d be reduced to this – his tears illuminated by flashing reds and blues that strobe around them, bass thumping in the background while Omi breaks his heart again.

“Ya know,” Atsumu says, just loud enough to hear over the music. “I’m only tryin’ to take care of ya because yer obviously so shit at it yerself, but if ya wanna have yer rebellious stage then – fine, Omi. Okay? Do what ya want.”

For a minute, something flashes in Omi’s eyes. It’s gone almost instantly. “Goodbye.” 

He turns around and dives back into the crowd, probably looking for his new infatuation. Atsumu feels dizzy. He can feel the eyes of his teammates on him, but his back is to them, so they won’t have seen the tears yet. And they won’t. He’s leaving, one way or another. He lets the crowd swallow him, effectively disappearing while he searches for an escape. 

He finds one by the bathrooms and he shoves open the door, letting the fresh air wash over him. 

Then he starts trembling all over. He sinks onto the dirty ground and bawls. 

Atsumu is so sick of crying. There has to be a limit to how many tears one can produce, and Atsumu has to be nearing it. He can’t do this for the rest of his life – he can’t. He’ll be hospitalized. His head pounds constantly. He’s lost weight. He’s exhausted, so exhausted. Omi is slowly killing him.

He thought he could handle it. He should be able to handle it. Atsumu is not weak. He’s been strong his whole life – a monster, they called him growing up. Someone to watch out for, a threat, a goal to reach, unstoppable – Miya Atsumu. He’s been reduced to dust and if he keeps this up, he’s going to lose everything.

It feels like he already has. He doesn’t know what to do, so he cries until his throat hurts, letting everything flow out. He can see groups of people walking by at the other end of the alley, but they’re too far away to notice him. The door to the bar is cracked, but the music drowns out any noises Atsumu is making. He sobs until he’s quivering and then when he’s sure he has nothing left, he does the only thing he knows how to do. He calls Samu. 

He hasn’t spoken to him for weeks at this point. They haven’t exchanged a single text since that night at the bar. Suna’s gotten involved with it, and he’s pleaded with Atsumu to stop being stubborn, but it has nothing to do with pride. Atsumu hasn’t had anything to say to Samu – how could he reach out with more lies? 

He’s done lying to him now. 

He clicks the number on his speed-dial, and Samu picks up on the first ring. 

“Tsumu?” His nickname comes out in a rush, and Samu barrels on before Atsumu can get any word in. “Ya okay? Yer callin’ late.” 

It’s a simple question – a common question Atsumu gets these days, but it breaks the dam all over again. He lets out a pathetic whine and shakes his head as tears cascade down his face. “I love him, Samu,” he croaks. “I love him so much, and he’s just – he’s making out with someone right now and what if he takes him home? Omi doesn’t – he wouldn’t let a stranger in his bed. He’d hate it. He’d feel dirty and gross. It’s not like him, Samu – I love him so much and he doesn’t remember, he doesn’t remember – ”

“Wait, slow down,” Samu implores. “Yer talkin’ about Sakusa? I know Rin told me that ya liked him but did it – did it become a thing? And now he’s two-timin’ ya?”

“It was more than a thing,” Atsumu snaps. The tears fall harder. He nearly chokes on the snot in his throat. “We loved each other, Samu. Why did life take him away from me? What did I do?” 

Samu doesn’t answer, and so Atsumu keeps babbling. “We were together for over a year and he doesn’t remember any of it – nothin’ at all! And what’s worse, is now he hates me, because I thought – I thought if I just acted like we were friends, I could make him love me again but I fucked it all up. I fucked everythin’ up.”

He’s spiraling headfirst now, rolling down the hill, all filters abolished the moment his brother answered the phone. “I was afraid to tell him because when he woke up in the hospital he was so mean, and I knew he wouldn’t believe me. We didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to tell ya so badly, Samu.” 

“Tsumu.” It’s soft. Atsumu cries harder. It’s always easier when Samu yells at him. “Atsumu. Yer gonna choke on yer tears. Take a breath.” 

Samu’s voice is soothing and Atsumu feels as if he has no choice but to listen to him. He takes a shuddering breath, then another, and then another. Samu stays expectantly quiet until Atsumu is no longer gasping, and the tears that fall are silent. 

“Okay,” Samu says. “Good. Now, I’m a little lost. Why don’t ya tell me everythin’, from the beginnin’, alright?”

Atsumu does. He tells Samu how he and Omi started out, what they became, and where they were now, as quickly and concisely as he can tell such a clusterfuck of a situation. As he talks, the tears ease, and his breathing evens. He feels like a pool float with a hole in it, slowly leaking out air until he’s entirely deflated. When it’s over, Samu is silent and Atsumu hiccups.

“I don’t know what to do,” he admits. “I’m so sick over him. We were doin’ good, but I couldn’t stop myself from ruinin’ it. I kissed him because that’s what I remembered to do, and that’s what fucked it all up, if I hadn’t – ”

It’s not true. Even if Atsumu had maintained perfect behavior for the conceivable future, something would still crumble. He wouldn’t be able to keep up a friendship with Omi. He needed more, and he knew it. Facades can’t be kept up forever. Atsumu was lucky he got a few weeks rather than nothing at all.

“I don’t know how to be without him. I tried, and it hurts so bad. Why do I gotta be without him? Why did I have to meet him if I was just gonna lose him?” 

A door slams and Atsumu jumps. He’s twitchy, overwhelmed with too many emotions. Samu picks up on it. 

“Where are ya?”

“In an alleyway outside of a club,” Atsumu answers miserably.

Samu curses on the other line. “Jesus, Tsumu. Do I need to come get ya?”

“Yer forty-five minutes away and ya don’t have a car.” 

“I can borrow one.”

“Nah, Samu,” Atsumu says. His voice is hoarse. “I can make it home just fine.” 

“Alright, ya got one of the rideshare apps? Call one, and then talk to me while ya wait, and then talk to me on the way home too.”

“Don’t ya wanna go to bed?” 

“Nah,” Samu responds, curt. “Ya haven’t let me sleep in weeks anyway. I’ve fucked my whole schedule up and now I’m a night owl.” 

“I’ll make it up to ya,” Atsumu promises, weepy again. He’s horrible like this – over-emotional, crying at the slightest thing, like ruining his brother’s sleep schedule. He wonders if it’s one of the aspects of twin telepathy – Atsumu always did wake up when Samu had a nightmare. “Once I get my shit together.”

“Yeah, ya will. I’m gonna use ya for free labor on every one of yer days off, so get ready. Alright, go on, call the rideshare and then keep talkin’.”

Atsumu talks until his throat hurts. He talks as he waits for his car on the side of his road, his shirt soaked through with tears. He talks in a whisper in the backseat. He talks while he walks up to his apartment, and still when he gets into the door. He tells Samu everything there is to say about Sakusa Kiyoomi – everything he loves, everything he had, everything that’s gone now, down to the last miserable detail.

When he finally falls onto his couch, he feels like his muscles are made of jelly. He sighs, going silent, and Samu hums on the other end of the line.

“Ya calm now?” he asks. He doesn’t give Atsumu a chance to reply. “Since when have ya given up on things?”

“What?” Atsumu manages. “What d’ya mean?”

“Ya heard my question. It doesn’t need explanation, but I’ll give it to ya, since ya seem a bit disoriented at the moment. Since when are ya a quitter? Ya’ve never quit anythin’ in yer life, and yer gonna give up on someone who’s got ya in this state? I don’t have a damn clue what’s goin’ on but the fact that ya love Sakusa is obvious.” 

“I’m tired, though, Samu. I’ve never been tired like this before. I feel like I’m a seventy-year old grandpa. My bones ache. I fuckin’ miss him. But he doesn’t want me. He doesn’t remember that he loved me and he’s never gonna.” 

“So tell him,” Samu says. “Remind him.”

“Yeah, it’s that simple,” Atsumu snarks. “Do ya think I didn’t try that? He told me to shut up and stop fuckin’ with his head.”

“Because ya are fuckin’ up his head. Jesus. I don’t know anythin’ technical about amnesia but in all the dramas, the character who’s got amnesia remembers flashes of their life, especially the person they love. Sakusa’s got all sorts of mixed emotions about ya. He remembers dislikin’ ya in high school, then he probably remembers lovin’ ya later on, and now he thinks yer a liar who’s messin’ with him.” 

“Samu, yer damn dramas are not how it works – ”

“Shut up for a minute. Ya said yer piece, let me say mine. How did Sakusa react when ya kissed him?”

“I dunno, I ran away,” Atsumu says through his teeth, but he can’t deny that he knows the answer to that question. He shouted it out to Omi in desperation, to get him to consider. Omi hadn’t reacted badly. He had been coming to talk to Atsumu about it. That meant one of two things: either Omi remembered something, or he had some sort of new feelings for Atsumu.

“I don’t think he hated it, but I didn’t get a chance to tell him on account of my life fallin’ apart.” 

“Ya hurt his feelin’s, Tsumu. He’s punishin’ ya for it, sure, but I think he’s also probably tryin’ to make sense of his own head right now,” Samu tells him, like this should be obvious. Maybe Atsumu should’ve talked to him sooner. 

“Why wouldn’t he just ask me if there’s somethin’ he’s confused about?” Atsumu whines. It’s a rhetorical question, but Samu answers it anyway.

“Because ya gave him a reason not to trust ya. Ya lied to him. I know why ya did it, but Sakusa doesn’t. He can’t ask ya, ‘cause what if ya lie to him again?” 

“Then how do I get him to trust me again?” Atsumu murmurs. It’s another question that he doesn’t expect Samu to have the answer to, but Samu seems to know everything all of the sudden. Atsumu would be annoyed at the sudden show of wisdom if he could be anything but absolutely miserable at the moment.

“Well, for starters, maybe tell him coherently. Ya screamed that ya loved him in the street. That would scare the shit outta me – especially comin’ from you. Yer so dramatic.”

“I was tryin’ to pour my heart out! Yer the one comparin’ this to a drama!”

“May as well be one,” Samu grumbles, and it makes Atsumu feel better, this normalcy. He doesn’t want Samu to worry over him, or cry over him. He wants him to tell him he’s an idiot and make him fix things, and that’s exactly what he’s doing. “Ya gotta, like, appeal to his memories. Tell him somethin’ that he can’t think is a lie. If ya’ve spent a year together, there’s gotta be some proof of it, somewhere.” 

“I’ve only got my word,” Atsumu says. He’s already thought of every possible thing that could tip Omi off to there being something between them, but nothing has done the trick. 

“Well, yer shit at makin’ up stories, so maybe yer word is enough.”

Stories. 

“Oh,” Atsumu mumbles. “I could – nah, I can’t. I can’t do that.” He talks himself out of it easily. Omi wouldn’t watch the videos. There’s no way he would, not after tonight. He’s probably already blocked Atsumu’s number.

“What?” Samu prompts him. “What are ya talkin’ about?”

“Well.” Atsumu’s already told Samu everything else, so one more thing makes the complete tale. He sighs. “I’ve been makin’ him videos, just like – like I’m talkin’ to him, tellin’ him about our life together. ‘S stupid. It just helped me get outta my head.”

“God, and ya make fun of me for watchin’ dramas. Yer over here livin’ one,” Samu says, incredulous. 

“I told ya it’s stupid,” Atsumu mutters. “He’s not gonna watch them, so I can’t – ”

“Are ya an idiot?” Samu blurts. “Of course he’d watch them. Ya kiddin’ me? Wouldn’t you?”

Atsumu doesn’t reply to that, mostly because it would be admitting Samu is right, and even in dire situations, he isn’t too fond of that. He is, though. Atsumu would watch every single video. He would be too curious not to.

“What if he doesn’t watch them? Or if he does, and he just thinks they’re more lies?” Atsumu has thought of every worst-case scenario, over-and-over again for weeks straight.

“Then ya keep tryin’ because ya love him and he loves ya too, somewhere inside that head of his. Don’t start bein’ a quitter now, Tsumu. That’s my role.”

Atsumu laughs. It’s a sad one. “Yer no quitter, Samu, even if I told ya you were.”

Samu makes a noncommittal noise. 

“Hey, Samu,” he blurts now. “Are ya sleepin’ with Sunarin?”

The silence on the other end of the line is confirmation enough. “We aren’t talkin’ about me.”

“Just don’t be a hypocrite, alright?” 

“Yer – yer somethin’ else,” Samu sighs. “I was gonna tell ya, eventually. It didn’t happen that long ago.”

“Do ya love him?”

“What kinda question is that?”

“Because he sure as hell loves you. You should tell him. Anythin’ can happen, ya know.”

“Shut up,” Samu mutters. Then he huffs out a breath, right into the receiver. “Ya know, it’s hard bein’ away from ya, Tsumu. We used to make every decision together. Remember when we were little? If I wanted to do somethin’, ya wanted to do it too. You wanted to play volleyball, so I did too. I wanted to learn to cook, so ya learned too. You wanted to dye yer hair, so I got that shitty box dye. Things were easier then, weren’t they?”

“Yeah...” Atsumu agrees, not sure where this is going. “They were.”

“So, how about this? I’ll tell Rin I love him if ya send those videos to Sakusa. Who gives a shit about rejection? Yer persistent to the point of it bein’ a problem, so just keep tryin’ and I’ll do the same.” 

Atsumu frowns, moving his phone from his ear to his chest and putting it on speakerphone. He’s calmer now, breathing evened out and tears drying on his cheeks. He opens his photo app and scrolls through the endless sea of videos. 

“Oi, someone is callin’ me,” Samu says. 

“Who? It’s, like, one in the mornin’.” 

“No idea, don’t recognize the number,” Samu mutters. “But it must be important if they’re callin’ me at this hour. Lemme get it. I’ll call ya back if it’s anythin’ ya need to know.”

“Nah, just text me. Go to sleep.” 

“Alright, I’ll call ya first thing in the mornin’ then. No more of this bullshit – I’ve got so much to tell ya. Hate not talkin’ to ya, Tsumu. Love ya.”

“Love ya,” Atsumu whispers. “Answer the call. Night.”

“Night.” 

Atsumu watches as the call ends, feeling lighter than he has in days. His stomach has uncoiled and recoiled so many times that he’s sure it can’t be functional anymore, and he’s cried so many tears that he must be permanently dehydrated, but Samu is right.

Atsumu is not a quitter – not when it comes to things that matter. Nothing is more important to him than Omi. He can’t give up.

There are at least fifty thumbnails, maybe more, all thrown together in a folder titled For Omi. Atsumu didn’t plan to actually send the videos – he didn’t want to imagine Omi’s reaction. He could watch one and be disgusted. He could watch five and decide to tell him off. He could watch none of them at all. Atsumu thinks that would be the worst outcome.

But he’ll never know – he’ll never know if he doesn’t just do it. The videos were always for Omi, and so he should have them. 

He has one more to make. 

“Hey, Omi,” Atsumu says into the camera. “I’ve been makin’ videos for ya for the past month or so. I gave ya a little explanation in the first one, but a lot has happened since then, and I want ya to watch this one first. I can’t make ya watch them, and I know ya probably don’t wanna see my face right now, but I promise, if you watch every single one...it’ll explain everythin’. Before ya do, I wanted to tell ya I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I lied to ya. I was just scared. I didn’t want ya to laugh in my face, or call me a liar. By tellin’ ya we were friends, I at least had the chance to keep ya in my life. Well,” he laughs once, humorlessly. “I shouldn’t have done it. Ya deserved the truth, even if ya didn’t want me in yer life anymore. So, here ya go, Omi. Here’s the whole truth – every single bit of it. I hope it helps clear things up.” 

Before he can lose his nerve, he saves the video, and then one by one, he sends them all to Omi. 

Chapter Text

Atsumu has spent his whole life pushing his limits. One more toss, one more serve, one more mile. He just had to be one point above the rest, propelling himself just a little further to take first place, testing the boundaries of his body and his mind.

He’s always gotten close, but he’s never quite hit that wall.

Tonight, he finally reaches it, but instead of slamming into it like he once expected, Atsumu just touches his hands to it, realizing with a wave of exhaustion and grief that he has no more fight in him. The videos deliver at 1:46 AM. Atsumu checks to make sure they’ve all gone through, and then he collapses into bed.

Everything is finally in the open – Atsumu has confessed the secret that has been weighing on him for so long, and for the first time in so many weeks, he feels like he can take a full breath. 

There is no more space for anxiety – his body has simply had enough. As soon as his head hits the pillow and his eyes close, unconsciousness envelopes him like a weighted blanket.

Atsumu doesn’t dream. 

 

-x-

 

Atsumu is beginning to learn that the peace that comes with sleep is often short-lived. There always tends to be  something shocking that wakes him up unceremoniously, whether it be a dream, a phone ringing, or a teammate shouting at him. 

This morning, it’s a light pounding on his door. He jolts upward, thinking he may have imagined it, but there it is again. The knocks are sharp and deliberate, but still quiet enough that they won’t disturb the neighbors. That’s not a courtesy that Samu would extend, so Atsumu knows it can’t be him, which eases the heart palpitations a bit. It’s not an emergency, then. It could be a package, but he hasn’t ordered anything in a while. He listens, but it goes quiet.

He checks his phone. It’s 9 AM – later than Atsumu’s been able to sleep in weeks. He has his usual slew of text messages from his team. He ignores those because he knows they’re going to tear him a new asshole for running off again and he’s not quite mentally capable of dealing with that right now. He has none from Omi, but he expected that. It’s still early and Omi probably had a late night. Atsumu refuses to think of why. He locks away those thoughts in a box and shoves it deeper in his head, disregarding his heart rapidly sinking.

Distraction comes in the form of three texts from Samu. 

They’re stretched out over a sporadic timeline, starting right around 2 AM, just after Atsumu fell asleep. It reads: You really owe me for the rest of your life for this.

The next one is at 2:47 AM and simply says: Holy shit.

The third is from 3:14 AM and it contains a link to therapists in the Osaka area. Atsumu grimaces at his phone. Atsumu is well aware that he has to sell his soul to Samu for lying about something of this caliber, and sure, he knows he should make an appointment with a therapist to unpack...everything, but he’s not sure why Samu would decide he needs that in the middle of the night. Atsumu is in the middle of replying to him with a series of question marks when the knocks pick up again.

Atsumu swings his legs out of bed. So, it’s not a package then – maybe it’s Shoyo. He is Atsumu’s designated babysitter these days and Atsumu did high-tail it out of the bar without telling anybody where he was going less than ten hours ago. It could even be Bokun or Inunaki – both of them have a tendency to show up places unannounced. He abandons his phone on his bed and shuffles out of his room, calling out, ‘one sec’ to whoever has decided to check on him so early in the morning. He doesn’t have an excuse prepared, but he can fall back on the default that he was drunk and acting irrationally. The majority of the team would buy that, and Shoyo can be convinced.

The one person on the absolute bottom of the list of people he would expect to show up to his apartment at nine in the morning, looking like he hasn’t slept at all, is Omi.

Atsumu does an honest-to-God cartoon double-take and confirms that no, he is not hallucinating and yes – that is Omi in front of his door, dressed in sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt that Atsumu used to steal from him to sleep in, looking like he just crawled out of a coffin. His curls are mussed and flat, like he tossed and turned on them all night, and if his eye bags are any indication, he’s missing out on more than just one night of rest.

Neither of them speak at first. They just stare, taking in each other’s states of disarray. Atsumu didn’t even bother to look in the mirror beforehand – oh God, Omi is probably about to run away any minute. He’s going to change his mind about coming here, and he’s going to flee. Atsumu has to do something to keep him here. 

“Uh, do ya wanna – ”

“I watched the videos,” Omi blurts, and then his eyes widen, like he hadn’t really meant to say it at all. 

And then he starts to cry.

Atsumu shifts into red-alert. Omi is here, right in front of his door, and he’s crying.  His brain is having a hard time processing it, but he knows he has to stop it, because Atsumu hates when Omi cries. It’s the worst sight. It’s misplaced. 

“Hey, hey – don’t cry,” he frets. He holds himself back from reaching out and enveloping Omi in a hug, because he knows that’s what always soothes his own tears. “Yer okay. Don’t cry, Omi, please.”

Omi glances up at him and the breath is ripped from Atsumu’s lungs. He’s always been pretty crier – the type where tears fall silently and elegantly down his cheeks. He doesn’t wail or shake or snot like Atsumu does. He cries easily but gently, over sad movies, or emotional songs, over those terribly sad commercials about animal shelters, though those tears are quiet. Those tears are effortlessly pacified. Atsumu would laugh and wipe the tears away with his thumbs and Omi would swat him away, grumbling at how Atsumu called him soft and sweet.  

Now, they rack Omi’s body, causing shivers and shudders. This is the type of crying caused by pure pain.

“Inside, Omi,” Atsumu demands, keeping his voice steady. He opens the door wider and steps aside, gesturing for Omi to follow him, ignoring every instinct that screams at him to hold out his hand and lead Omi in.

Omi comes on his own, but only just barely. He stands in the entryway and hugs himself, staring at Atsumu’s living room like he’s trying to analyze it. He looks vulnerable – too vulnerable, like he needs to be swaddled in a blanket. 

Atsumu has always had a protective streak in him. He would tear into anyone who looked at Samu wrong and got into enough fist-fights for his teammates in high school to land him on the principal’s watch list. He thought it would fade away once he graduated – after all, these were grown men on his team. They didn’t need anyone looking out for them, but then Atsumu actually met the Jackals, and it flared right back to life. 

He’s never met a more destructive group in his life and so Atsumu took back on the role.

No one activated the sense of care quite like Omi. Atsumu wanted to shield Omi from every discomfort, every ounce of pain. He always had, from the moment he saw that petulant little pout on his lips. No matter how hard Omi tried to come across as foreboding, Atsumu never bought it. It’s a wonder it took so much to make him realize how badly he loved him.

Things are so different now, but Atsumu hasn’t forgotten how to take care of Omi.

“Sit, Omi. I’ll make you tea. Green tea.”

“My favorite,” Omi mutters. He’s very clearly shell-shocked, but he listens and sits down on the couch, sinking into the cushions. Atsumu waits until he’s sure he’s settled, and then hurriedly scurries to the kitchen to start the water. He turns to see Omi watching him, tears still dripping off of his nose. 

“Stop cryin’, Omi,'' Atsumu begs, because his head still throbs from his own meltdown, he can’t start another one. He’s a sympathetic crier, and this is his Omi. He’s about twenty seconds from sobbing if this keeps up. “It’s alright. Got nothin’ to cry about.”

“I started last night and I haven’t been able to stop,” Omi says, quiet, like it’s something to be guilty about. “My throat hurts.”

“Well, that’s what the tea is for,” Atsumu comments, keeping his voice light. His mind races. He has so many questions and yet he doesn’t want to ask any of them. He doesn’t want Omi to cry any more than he already has. “I’ll bring it to ya in a minute.” 

Omi nods and turns around, facing away from Atsumu. He lets out a breath. He has absolutely no idea how to handle this situation, but if he keeps his hands busy, he can at least let his mind catch up. Omi is here, in his apartment. He watched the videos Atsumu sent him and he decided to come here. It’s enough to make his head spin all the way off its axis. He may never have a coherent thought again.

When the tea is finished, he approaches Omi with all of the stealth and grace of someone trying not to spook a wild animal. He holds out a mug – one that Omi left at his place, months ago, and hands it to him.

“This is mine,” Omi notes, immediately. “I got this in college. It was one of my favorites. I thought I threw it out.”

“Yeah,” Atsumu answers, a little sheepish. “I have a bad habit of stealin’ yer cups. Ya have too many of ‘em.”

“You mentioned that in one of the videos,” Omi says. He holds the mug and examines it, fingers sliding over the faded lettering of his old university. “You said that you took mugs from me because I wouldn’t let you steal my clothing. It was a way you could feel close to me when I wasn’t around.” His voice breaks on the last word. 

Atsumu lowers himself onto the opposite end of the couch, trying with all of his remaining might to keep himself together but it’s proving hard when Omi is right here. “Did ya watch all of them?”

“Yes,” Omi replies. One simple word and Atsumu’s entire body is set alight. “Every single one.”

Every single one. Omi watched all of the videos and now he’s here. He’s here and –

“And – do ya remember?” The question is so painfully, deliriously hopeful. Atsumu clings to it like an umbrella in a hurricane.

Omi looks at him. The tears continue, falling from his cheek onto the couch. “No, I don’t.” 

That’s what breaks Atsumu again. Soon, he fears he won’t be able to put himself back together again. He’s damaged goods, ripped apart over and over, but he doesn’t care. Atsumu just wants to help Omi. 

God, he wants to hug him. He wants to pull Omi into his arms and rest his chin on his head and rub circles onto his back until they both calm down. He didn’t want to hurt him like this. He never did. Atsumu cries now too, though he doesn’t allow himself to get worked up. They fall silently, matching Omi’s, the two of them perfectly mirrored messes on their opposite ends of the couch.

“It’s alright,” Atsumu croaks, even though it isn’t. “It’s not yer fault that ya don’t.” 

“It makes sense,” Omi continues, hugging his knees to his chest, mug balanced precariously in between them. “It all makes so much sense now – your face when you first came to see me in the hospital room. Your whole face lit up, like you were just so relieved, and I couldn’t understand why somebody I barely knew would look at me like I was their entire world.” 

Atsumu laughs once. It’s hollow and it makes the tears fall harder. “Thought ya might’ve died on me, Omi. I was in Tokyo visitin’ Samu when Meian told me. I wasn’t there with ya. I should’ve been.” 

Omi grips the mug and uses his free hand to wipe wetness away from his cheeks. “It was such a minor injury – not even a broken arm, just sprained. Everything was fine, except a giant chunk of my memory missing. I woke up and I couldn’t even tell anybody why I was in Osaka. They were asking me so many questions and I didn’t know the answer to any of them. I was panicking, I was angry, and then when you came in – I felt relieved. I felt safe. It made no sense. Miya Atsumu – the cocky asshole from training camp. I only knew you for a week out of the year. I watched your games in passing. We were acquaintances, and not even pleasant ones, so why did everything feel okay when you walked in the room?” 

Omi refuses to make eye contact. He’s stopped crying for the moment, but the tears haven’t dried. Atsumu stares at him unabashedly. He’s enraptured, in disbelief that this is actually happening, that Omi felt something for him when he woke up. 

“I thought it was a fluke. I thought maybe it was a one-off thing, or I’d get the same feeling for any of my teammates. When Hinata and Bokuto visited – there was something, a fondness, maybe. Definitely irritation. When Meian came, there was a feeling of respect, but with you... It was overwhelming, and it didn’t stop. There was something wrong with me – how could I not remember choosing the life I lived? My doctor told me about false memories and so I clung to that, for some sense of control. Everything I was feeling – it had to be fake, and so I lashed out at you.”

“It’s okay,” Atsumu whispers, the words unconsciously pulled from his lips. 

“I don’t remember,” Omi repeats, finally looking up at him. His eyes are shiny. “But I know this place. I’m comfortable here. I got the same feeling when I walked into the gym on the first day of practice. Comfortable, like home. My apartment never felt like that – until you came over for the first time. You kept coming back, and I never wanted to kick you out, even when I felt like I should.”

 “Why’d ya fight it so much?” Atsumu has to know. “If ya felt that way – ya fought me so much when I was tryin’ to be yer friend.” 

“Because nobody knew,” Omi explains, gesturing his hands out like he’s frustrated. “Motoya makes me tell him everything, but when I asked him about it the first time, he made fun of me. That’s why I didn’t believe it. It didn’t make any sense. He said that we didn’t get along, and that it was a common fact. We worked well together on the court, but off it, we were always at each other’s throats. So, I thought it was a mistake – false memories. That had to be the explanation – the reason I kept dreaming about you.” 

Atsumu has to remind himself how to breathe. 

“Ya...dreamt about me?”

“Constantly,” Omi recalls. He’s crying again, voice thick through the tears, and oh – Atsumu is too. He’s absolutely trembling with his own anguish. This is the hardest conversation he’s ever had in his life. “I dreamt about you nearly every night, and I couldn’t tell if they were memories or fantasies and it – it scared me,” he finishes softly. “And that fear turned to anger. I was angry that I was dreaming about you but nobody could tell me anything about our relationship. I was angry that you told me we were friends when my body reacted to you like – like you were my favorite person in the world. My head has been more complicated than the plot of a K-drama,” he mutters, mostly to himself, and Atsumu snorts, breaking the spell. Omi grants him the tiniest smile and it makes his heart stutter. 

“I thought you were messing with me – maybe you became an even bigger jerk after high school. It was a plausible line of thought.”

“Nah, Omi. I would never.” 

“Then why didn’t you just tell me?” he asks and it’s a little frenzied, like Omi has been sitting on the question. “You wouldn’t leave me alone. You tried so hard, but you didn’t just tell me.” 

All of the rationale he created to excuse the lies seem stupid now, with Omi in his living room, but it was never that simple. “Would ya have believed me?” Atsumu isn’t quite sure if he wants to know – both answers will hurt in their own right. If it’s a no, then it’s a reminder of the trust that has been lost between them – trust that takes years of build-up. If it’s a yes, then Atsumu has to live with the fact that this entire thing has been his fault.

“I don’t know,” Omi sighs. “I’ve been a disaster, so I have no idea what I would’ve thought. All I know is that no matter what I said, no matter how cruel I was to you, I wanted you to keep coming back. I was desperate for you to. When you showed up at my apartment after the news about my head injury leaked – I was so relieved to see you. It was like you were the one person I needed. I thought when you kissed me, that I could finally give in, but then Hinata confirmed all of my fears.” 

He finally takes a sip of the tea, as if he needs it to ground himself. “And the thing about it all is – I wanted to hate you. I kept telling myself that I needed to accept that you were just playing with me, but I still wanted to see you more than anything. You’re familiar and comforting but you also make me insane. It...hasn’t been easy.”

“I’m so sorry, Omi,” Atsumu rushes out. “I shoulda told ya, I was just scared. This whole time, I’ve been a coward.”

“I’m sorry too,” Omi murmurs. “I’m sorry for everything – for all of the ways I’ve hurt you since waking up in the hospital. For last night. I – I don’t know what I was doing. I was half out of my mind, and I was just trying to forget you.” 

“‘S okay,” Atsumu mumbles. He’s assaulted with images from the club – of Omi all wrapped up in a stranger’s arms, but he swallows down the pain.

“I’m sorry for making you keep this a secret. I’m glad you at least had Osamu.” 

“What?” Atsumu is momentarily thrown off, which is a bit of a relief from the onslaught of emotion he’s experiencing. He’s exhausted all over again, even with nearly eight hours of sleep. “I didn’t tell Samu. Well, I did. Yesterday. But that was the first time.”

“Oh.” Omi suddenly looks guilty. “I thought…”

Atsumu waits for him to continue. Omi seems like he’s regretting bringing it up.

“Well, I called your brother last night,” he admits. “That’s how I knew which apartment was yours.” 

“Wha – yer the one who called Samu?”

“I asked Motoya to get his number from Suna, but it turns out I already had it.” He exhales. “Which only further confused me. I’ve never met Osamu.”

“Ya have, actually,” Atsumu admits. “A handful of times, but nothin’ ever substantial. Ya just knew each other in passin’ from when Samu would show up to my games.” 

Atsumu ached every time Samu came to see them play. He loved having him there, thrived on his support, because if he couldn’t have him next to him on the court, having him in the crowd was the next best thing. He also hated it, because when the game ended, when he was high on adrenaline and pride for himself and for his team, he wanted nothing more than to show Omi off to Samu.

It was never worth it, to let them get closer than the nods Omi gave him when Samu came down to interact with the team. It was hard enough for Atsumu to keep the secret without Samu getting a good read on the way he and Omi interacted. He put Samu’s number in his phone for emergencies, and maybe for the day that Omi decided they could tell the world about them. 

“I had your brother’s number,” Omi continues. “And I had your number, saved under Atsu. Did I call you Atsu?” 

“Yeah, ya did,” Atsumu mumbles. The name hits him like a sudden burst of sunshine on a cloudy day. He hasn’t heard it in so long. “It was yer favorite nickname for me when it was just us.”

“Atsu,” Omi repeats, a bit dazed, and Atsumu’s heart feels like it’s being squeezed between Omi’s fingers. “I kept thinking back to when I first saw it in my phone, and I changed it because I couldn’t stand to look at it, and then I thought about the fact that I had your brother’s number. More things were falling into place, but I still – I had to be sure. I called Osamu because I didn’t know who else to go to. I heard you last night, you know? On the phone. Outside of the club.”

Atsumu briefly recalls a slammed door. “Yeah?”

Omi nods. “I was looking for you, to apologize for causing a scene, and for...a lot of other things.” He shakes his head. “I heard you on the phone, and you said that you didn’t know how to be without me.”

Atsumu lets out a shuddering breath. “Yeah, I did say that.”

“I needed to know the truth, but I didn’t trust you to tell me.”

“I’m sorr –”

“No more apologies right now.”

Atsumu closes his mouth, and Omi continues. “I thought if anyone would know what went on between us, it would be your brother. He’s your twin – everybody knows how close you are. He’s all over your social media.”

“Ya looked at my social media?” Atsumu interjects. Omi gives him a dry look and Atsumu, so startled by the contrast, laughs once. It pulls more tears out of him. “Sorry, not important.”

“Of course I looked at your social media,” Omi grumbles. “You were in my head constantly. I stalked all of your pages trying to figure out why that may be. It didn’t help at all. It just made it harder to act normal around you because you used to post so many ridiculous thirst traps.” 

“Ha,” Atsumu chokes out. “That was – a phase.”

Omi smirks, then wipes a stray tear from his cheek. “Anyway. I called Osamu. At one in the morning, like a crazy person.”

“He was up,” Atsumu mutters. “Seems like we had the same idea.”

“I owe him an apology,” Omi admits. “I was...very drunk. I barely gave him a chance to ask who was calling before I started demanding answers from him.”

“What did he tell ya?”

Omi laughs, humorless. “He told me I had ‘a lot of damn nerve’ for doing what I was doing to you, and said he had half a mind to hang up on me and force me to figure it out myself. He told me I made you cry, over and over again.”

Atsumu heats up at that. He’s going to kill Samu, or at least majorly inconvenience his life in one way or another. “He’s such a dick,” he grumbles. “Like ya don’t have fuckin’ amensia.

“No, he’s right,” Omi insists. He’s crying again now and his lip trembles when he speaks. “He told me everything you told him and – I ruined you, didn’t I? Those videos...everything you said, everything Osamu told me. There’s no way you could ever make that up. I ruined you, and you just allowed me to. Repeatedly. You kept coming back.” 

Omi waits for an answer and Atsumu doesn’t have one to give him, not one that he’ll like. 

“He told me he’s never seen you so torn up over anybody. He told me you loved me.”

“Yeah,” Atsumu rasps. He chances a look at Omi. His eyes are red-rimmed and his skin is as pale as paper. Nothing about him is put together, but he watches Atsumu like he’s rediscovering him. “I do love ya, Omi.” 

There’s no response, but it’s okay. Atsumu knew there wouldn’t be.

He knows what comes next, and he’s desperate to avoid it, if just for a little longer. Like this, with Omi in his apartment, just feet away from him, Atsumu is okay. Omi doesn’t remember, but he knows. He knows that there existed a world in which the two of them loved each other, and Atsumu isn’t ready for the ‘what now’ that inevitably follows this conversation. If they can never go back to it, then Atsumu will learn to live with that, but he wants to stay like this, for just a little longer.

“Which video was yer favorite?” he blurts. Omi looks up at him, surprised. Then, he pulls out his phone. He scrolls for a moment and then smiles at his screen – it’s a sad smile.

“This one, I think,” he decides. He makes no move to come closer to Atsumu, and Atsumu is frozen in his spot. He doesn’t want to startle Omi or over-step his boundaries, but Omi looks up from his phone at Atsumu expectantly, and so slowly, carefully, he shuffles over until they can both share the screen. Omi presses play and Atsumu grimaces as his face fills the screen.

“This is mortifyin’, actually,” he groans.

“You’re the one who made them,” Omi replies airy, almost teasing. 

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Atsumu sighs. “Hope ya didn’t watch the ones of me cryin’ more than once.”

Omi doesn’t answer that which is all the confirmation he needs. His face reddens, but Omi doesn’t call him out on it. “Let’s watch the video.”

They do. Omi’s favorite, as it turns out, is a light-hearted one that Atsumu made after one of their more successful outings – right after he and Omi started their extra practices. They’d gone until the sun set, until Atsumu had to force them out of the gym, and then walked home together, discussing strategies all the way to Omi’s door. Atsumu hadn’t wanted to leave yet, so Omi invited him in. 

He’d practically skipped back to his apartment when it was time for bed and made the video as soon as he got inside. It was a nonsensical one, but one of Atsumu’s favorites too. His voice is lively coming from Omi’s phone speakers as he recalls.

“We were always so competitive, ya know, Omi? Everythin’ was a competition. We drove each other to be better. Some of the competitions though...they were just real dumb.” 

Omi’s eyes twinkle at the video. Atsumu swallows his heart. 

Atsumu remembers the day well. It was late, right before bed, and they had been watching a YouTube video about proper lifting form for Atsumu to send to Inunaki because he nearly brained himself doing skull-crushers in the gym the week prior. Omi, who was always the instigator for their counteractions, innocently asked Atsumu how his own lifts were looking these days. Atsumu picked up on the tone for what it was and confidently answered, “better than yers”.

Omi snorts now and Atsumu thinks his face may be sore from smiling. He hasn’t used the muscles very often lately.

They’d ended up having a makeshift tournament in Omi’s tiny apartment, and since they didn’t have any weights to use, they just decided to use bodyweight – each other’s. Atsumu hauled Omi up over his shoulders and squatted him. Omi made Atsumu lay across his lap so he could hip-thrust him. They ended up in a tangle of limbs on the floor, laughing until they couldn’t breathe, unable to stop for long enough to determine the winner.

“It seems like we had fun,” Omi notes. Atsumu doesn’t focus on the tinge of sadness in his voice, the past-tense. Instead, he plays the next one.

This one is a misadventure of Omi in the kitchen – those are Atsumu’s favorite. Atsumu on-screen describes with damning detail the time that Omi tried to bake Atsumu a cake for his birthday and ended up spilling flour all over his kitchen and melting the icing because he didn’t wait for it to cool. Atsumu walked in, saw the carnage and doubled over in hysterics. He insisted on dragging Omi to the store so they could try again, and that time, Atsumu walked him through it. They ended up sitting on the ruined floor, Omi kissing the icing off of Atsumu’s nose. 

“This seems to be a common theme among the videos,” Omi grumbles. 

“Yeah, yer a shit cook, but that’s why ya have me.”

They don’t stop there. Omi plays video after video of happy memories and before long, they’re both crying again. 

“I watched this one three times,” Omi confesses when they get to the video about Fish, their temporary pet. “It sounds like something I would do. I’ve always wanted a cat, and Fish sounds like she was sweet. Did you take any pictures?”

“I did, actually.” Atsumu pulls up his phone and digs through it. He may not have been able to take any pictures of Omi, but that didn’t mean he didn’t take any of their time together. He has landscapes and street signs and stray cats and ruined cakes, all painting a portrait of time spent being loved, but only Atsumu would know that Omi was present in all of them. 

Omi grins at the picture of Fish, and this close, Atsumu can truly see the exhaustion in his face. It’s heavy under his eyes, settled all over his face like a fog.

Atsumu imagines the scene – exhausted, half-drunk Omi, sitting alone in his apartment in the dead of night, watching Atsumu pour his heart out. He should’ve been there with him. They should’ve watched them together, but he’s making up for it now.

Atsumu presses play on the next one. It details one of their first away games after they’d gotten together, where the team still apologized profusely for ‘forcing them upon each other’. They spent the entire night kissing under the covers and the next morning pretended that they were exhausted because they’d been up arguing about statistics. Omi taught Atsumu how to cover up the purple bruises on his neck with water-proof concealer, and no one on the team was ever any the wiser.

They watch video after video, but only the happy ones. Atsumu skips over any with tears. 

“I loved you,” Omi says, after another ends. It’s not a question, but a statement. “I loved you a lot, didn’t I?” 

“I sure hope ya did, because I loved ya, Omi. I love ya.” 

Love, he repeats to himself. I love you so much.

“It seems so unfair,” Omi mumbles. “We were happy, weren’t we? It was wiped away for no reason. Just a terrible coincidence.” 

“Yeah, life can be real shitty,” Atsumu agrees, bitterness biting at the words. “I didn’t even do anythin’ stupid. It was just...somethin’ that happened.” 

“Atsumu,” Omi says suddenly and he turns, looking directly at him. Atsumu forgets how to breathe. Even when he hasn’t slept, even when his eyes are red-rimmed and his skin is stained with tears, Omi is a sight to behold. Atsumu  loves him. “I want to try again. I want things to be how they were.”

Atsumu’s body seems to shut down at that moment because all he can manage to do is cry and rewind the words over again. He makes sure he heard them correctly – dissects every way they can be interpreted and manages to stammer out a choked, “Really?”

Omi doesn’t meet his eyes. “I don’t know that I deserve a second chance after how I treated you but if you’re willing to give me one...I’d like to take it.” 

Atsumu is really crying now, but there’s no way he can stop himself. This is all he’s wanted and now it’s here, right in front of him. It’s happening. “Omi, of course,” Atsumu croaks. “Of course I want that. I don’t care – I don’t care about anythin’ ya did in the past few weeks. Ya’ve just been sick, and now yer gettin’ better, right?” 

“Right,” Omi agrees, fresh tears now forming in his eyes. “I want to be with you. I want to try.”

“Just like this?” Atsumu dares. “Like...like we were? Even if ya don’t remember?”

Omi nods, frantic, sharp. “We didn’t break up, so why would we start over? Nothing changed, I just can’t remember, and God, this whole thing is weird and fucked up but I want to try.” 

“It is weird,” Atsumu laughs through his tears. “But if it makes ya feel any better, it was weird the first time around too. I thought I was goin’ crazy when ya kissed me. Ya had to do it three more times before it finally clicked that ya weren’t pullin’ my leg.” 

Omi smiles. “Tell me more about it, then.”

Atsumu does. He enhances on his stories, tells Omi every mundane facet from their old lives, until Omi’s eyes begin to droop and he rests his head against the cushion.

“Ya wanna sleep, Omi? You can sleep in my bed, if ya’d like. If that’s too weird, I’ll walk ya home.” 

“I’ll stay,” he mumbles. “I can just sleep here. I don’t think I can move.”

Atsumu snorts. Nothing has changed about sleepy Omi. He becomes anchored to whatever surface he’s on. Atsumu usually has to physically drag him to bed. He’ll get to do that again soon. He’s giddy at the thought. “Alright, lemme get ya a blanket. Sleep as long as ya want. I don’t have anythin’ to do today.”

Omi hums and Atsumu knows he’s already on his way out, so he jumps up to grab a fleece blanket from his bed and drapes it over him. He allows himself the reward of watching Omi’s breathing even out as his eyes flutter shut. It’s something he’s missed more than anything – the simple act of being there as Omi falls asleep. 

“Night, Omi,” he whispers. He waits until he’s sure he’s comfortable and then slips into his bedroom, shutting the door behind him. 

He takes a moment to just let it all sink in. He’s tempted to kick his legs, to jump up and down on his bed like a teenager, but it just – it feels like victory. He can’t keep the goofy smile off of his face, and he even pinches his cheeks for good measure, like they do in the movies, to make sure he’s truly awake. It’s a little unbelievable – after weeks of pain, after trying to reconcile a life without Omi, he’s now sleeping on Atsumu’s couch. 

His grin grows impossibly bigger. He pulls out his phone and dials Samu. Atsumu used to call Samu just to tell him what he was having for dinner. When the lies started, calls became texts and Atsumu got used to holding back. Now, he’s excited while he waits for his brother to answer. He always has so much to tell him and now he can do it without any fear of being found out.

“What the fuck, Tsumu? It’s so early.” 

Samu sounds raspy, like he’d just woke up from a dead sleep. 

“It’s half past eleven, what d’ya mean early? Ya used to wake me up at six just for the hell out of it.” 

“That was back when I had a normal goddamn sleep schedule, but as ya can see from yer text messages, I don’t have that luxury anymore,” Samu snaps.

“Okay, okay, I’ll just hang up and call ya back at a more reasonable hour –”

“Shut the hell up. The fact that yer in such an obnoxious mood makes it seem like yer feelin’ better. Did Sakusa come over like I told him to?”

“Yeah, he did,” Atsumu replies, dreamy. “He watched all of the videos.”

“Oh, thank Christ. I thought he might talk himself out of it. Shit, Sakusa can  talk. He must talk yer ear off with how much he was tellin’ me. We don’t even know each other and he just poured out his whole life story. He kept goin’ back and forth on what he should do and I kept tellin’ him to just watch the videos and decide after. He’s exhaustin’, but then, so are you.”

“Yeah, Omi’s like that,” Atsumu says. He’s going to write an entire novel on Omi to give to Samu. He needs to know everything. But first, he needs to get his side of the story. “He says ya told him off.”

“Sure fuckin’ did. Told him just because he lost his memories doesn’t excuse him bein’ a dick to ya. Then I told him you were an idiot and not to be too mad at ya for lyin’ to him. He cried more than you did.” He puffs out a long-suffering sigh. “I’m so tired.” 

Atsumu guffaws. “I’m sorry ya had it all put on ya like that Samu.”

“You two must be meant to be because yer both gonna be the reason I die before age thirty. Tell me what happened with ya so I can begin my path to recovery from this shit.”

Atsumu does. He tells him everything and it feels so good, to say it out loud, to know it’s an absolute truth – he and Omi are back. They’re going to be the same as they were – better, even. Maybe, now that Samu knows, they can tell other people. It won’t be an easy thing to explain, but the team and their families will understand, once everything is finally laid out in the open. 

Sure, there will be a learning curve when it comes to Omi’s memories, and there will definitely be boundaries in the beginning, but the promise is there – one day, everything will be exactly like it used to be. 

When he finishes, Samu is silent on the other line, and Atsumu’s happiness shifts into unease. Samu’s silences are never anything positive. They’re purposeful, generally used to give Atsumu a moment to prepare himself for whatever shit Samu is going to drop on him. “What?” he retorts after a full six seconds of nothing. “Why are ya bein’ so quiet?”

“Don’t ya think it’s a little presumptuous of ya to think ya can just go back to how things were? He didn’t get his memories back, did he?” 

Atsumu huffs out a disgruntled sound of displeasure. “Well, no, but he knows everythin’ now. He watched the videos. We talked about it, and he said he wants to go back to how things were.”

Samu hums. Atsumu is instantly annoyed. Samu can never just accept things – there’s always a ‘but’. Atsumu prefers to charge straight ahead but Samu is always hanging onto his coattails and forcing him to think. 

“It just seems sudden. Like yer gonna get back at it, just like that? Are ya gonna go on dates and kiss and shit when he’s got no memory of ever doin’ that? Are ya gonna tell people?”

“Why are ya interrogatin’ me?” Atsumu gripes. His mood has soured in an instant. He doesn’t want to go over the logistics of the whole thing. He wants to rejoice in having his Omi back – is that too much to ask? “Thought ya’d be happy for me.”

“Don’t pull that shit,” Samu scolds. Atsumu knows he’s rolling his eyes on the other end. “I want ya to be happy, Tsumu. ‘Course I do, but ya’ve been cryin’ over this guy for the past month –”

“He’s not just some guy,” Atsumu bristles.

“Alright, alright, I know. Ya love him and I get that. I’m just askin’ ya to think. It could get bad and I think ya should be sure about it.”

“I am sure about it. It’s what Omi wants to do,” Atsumu protests. “It’s what he said.” 

“I talked to him and honestly, he’s not in a great mental state.” Samu’s words are slow and deliberate – he’s forcing Atsumu to listen. “Neither are you. Yer both exhausted and stressed out and more emotional than ya get even when yer playin’. You should take a step back before ya jump into pretendin’ nothin’ happened.” 

“I’m not pretendin’ nothin’ happened!” Atsumu insists, voice rising in volume. He is emotional – Samu is right about that, but it’s not clouding his judgment. If Omi wants to get back to normal, then why should Atsumu fight it? “Obviously we both know somethin’ happened but it’s okay now, alright? It’s gonna be fine. We’re gonna be fine.”

“I just don’t wanna see ya cryin’ anymore,” Samu mutters. “It’s a bad look on ya.” 

“Well ya won’t. I’m sure about this. I’m happy.”

“If ya say so,” Samu says, placating. Atsumu hates it. He hates that Samu isn’t happy for him. He’s never been the type to jump up and down and sing Atsumu’s praises, and that’s been just fine, but Atsumu knows when he’s genuinely pleased. He knows now this is contrived acceptance, and it’s unsettling.

But he doesn’t need Samu’s approval. He doesn’t understand – no matter how much Atsumu told him last night, Samu can’t even begin to scratch the surface of how much Omi means to Atsumu, and how this is the absolute best-case scenario for them. 

“I say so,” he decides, and then before he can dwell on it any more, he changes the subject. “So, I kept my end of the bargain. Ya gonna tell Rin ya love him?”

“It’s too early for yer shit,” Samu grouses. “I haven’t had time to prepare.”

“Oh, come on, yer just stallin’.”

“I’ll get to it eventually,” Samu bites. “Stop naggin’ me. We’ve been friends for two decades. Ya don’t just come out with somethin’ like that.”

“Yer sleepin’ together,” Atsumu reminds him.

“Yeah, I’m aware, thanks. That’s all it is. It’s an arrangement. I’m in Tokyo a lot and it saves me money on hotel rooms.”

“Now who’s the liar,” Atsumu teases. “Ya spend every wakin’ moment together. He looks at ya with lovey dovey eyes.”

“Yer just makin’ shit up. Ya didn’t even know anythin’ was going on until that night at the bar.”

“Nah, I totally knew,” Atsumu lies. “You were way too obvious about it.” 

“Eat shit, yer not the only one who knows how to keep a secret.”

“When did it start, anyway?” Atsumu asks, just to keep hearing Samu’s voice. It’s peaceful; it’s normal, once again. If he closes his eyes, it really is so easy to pretend that the past few months didn’t happen at all.

 

-x-

 

 

Omi sleeps for the rest of the afternoon. Atsumu is generally content with that – he’s always teased Omi about it, telling him that, ‘of course the pretty boy needs his beauty sleep’ but he likes to laze around while Omi naps. It’s restful.

Today, he’s antsy.

He fidgets while he watches him, looking through social media, answering text messages. Shoyo fills him in on the rest of the night and Atsumu learns he’s the one who got Omi home safe. He owes that man his entire life. Atsumu is going to get him an Olympic gold medal if it kills him. He messages the group chat to confirm that he’s alive and endures their taunts. Nobody asks about the fight with Omi, and he’s grateful for that. 

Omi twitches in his sleep. His nose scrunches up, and Atsumu carefully brushes the hair out of his face. He lets his fingers ghost over his cheek, and his whole body feels warm. He’s allowed to do this again – he can touch Omi, he can love him. 

They do need to have a discussion about boundaries, though, and what they’re going to tell the team. As much as Atsumu would love to wedge himself between the couch and Omi’s body, wrapping his arms around his torso and burying his face in his hair, he knows that would probably be a little overwhelming. It’s all the more reason he checks the clock every fifteen seconds, wondering when he can wake Omi to talk more. 

It’s two hours when Atsumu decides he can no longer take it. He nudges Omi with his foot, just enough to jostle him, but not enough to reveal that he’s actively trying to wake him up. It’s a tactic that he’s utilized many times when Omi has chosen napping over spending time with Atsumu. 

“Mornin’, Omi,” Atsumu greets him with utmost innocence when Omi sleepily shifts his position and cracks open his eyes. He fumbles blindly for his phone and peeks at it. 

“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon,” he informs him in a voice laden with lethargy. Atsumu waves that away.

“We just woke up, so it’s mornin’. Ya sleep okay?” 

“Yes, very well, thank you,” Omi answers. There’s a pause, in which neither of them says anything, and Atsumu is very aware of the awkwardness behind it. He ignores it. There’s bound to be some getting readjusted to each other, but that’s no big deal. Atsumu can handle it.

“Do ya want somethin’ to eat? I’m sure yer hungry. Uh, I don’t have a lot here, but I’m sure I can scrounge somethin’ up.” He sits up and readjusts himself. He’d been dozing a bit too.

“Your hair is a mess,” Omi notes, but a smirk plays at his lips. “I’ve never seen it not styled.” 

“Ah, this?” Atsumu shakes out his hair. “Yeah, it took ya awhile to get used to it last time around too, but nothin’ compared to yers. You use much more product than I do, so don’t think ya can tease me.”

Omi frowns at that but quickly wipes it away. He picks at his fingernails. “I am hungry,” he admits. “I’m not picky, though. Whatever you have is fine.”

Atsumu snorts. “Not picky? Biggest lie I’ve ever heard. Don’t worry, Omi. I’ve mastered the art of cookin’ for ya. I’ll find somethin’ good to make.” 

He doesn’t read too into the distant expression on Omi’s face because he just woke up, he’s probably still tired, and he offers Atsumu a small smile when he gets up to move to the kitchen, so everything is fine.

Atsumu scrapes together enough ingredients for fried rice and they eat at Atsumu’s counter. 

“Tell me more things,” Omi insists in between bites. 

Atsumu begins to tell him about their relationship, but Omi shakes his head. “I have the videos for that. I want to hear about you. Tell me who you are without me.”

“I’m not any fun without ya,” Atsumu says, a little stunned by the question. “I cry a lot more.” 

Omi rolls his eyes. “Before me, then. Tell me about your first two years on the Jackals. Tell me when you became a starter, and what it was like. Tell me about Osamu.” 

Atsumu doesn’t talk about himself all that often. He’s misconceived as cocky – he’s confident, sure, but he likes to show that with his actions, not his words. Miya Atsumu is a monster on the court – he leaves no room for doubt there, doing whatever it takes to get the ball up in that perfect arc or his serves over the net. He remembers all of the small details of his friends’ lives and does his absolute best to make sure they’re all cared for, so he doesn’t have to say he’s a good friend. He doesn’t know how to describe himself to someone who only knows bits and pieces – someone who hasn’t seen him. 

“We didn’t always talk about this stuff, ya know,” Atsumu explains. “Ya just kinda figured out who I was.”

“We have to make up for lost time,” Omi insists. “If we want things to go back to normal, I have to know you like you know me.”

Omi has a point, so Atsumu does his best. He starts simple and tells Omi all about the misadventures of being eighteen and the baby of a professional volleyball team. He details the shenanigans he got up to while he waited for Omi to join him on the Jackals.

“Waited for me?” Omi questions. “You didn’t know I’d join.”

Atsumu shrugs. “I followed yer collegiate career, so I figured it was a possibility. Oi, don’t look at me like that! You were a threat! I had to scope out the competition just in case ya signed with another team!”

“I wonder if it was you who convinced me to join MSBY,” Omi muses. 

“I had nothin’ to do with it. I didn’t tell ya anythin’,'' Atsumu grumbles. “We didn’t talk all that much before the Jackals. I always said hi to ya at games, but ya weren’t very friendly.”

Omi snorts. “I told you, you were annoying in high school. But very talented. I was always fascinated with the way you managed to get the ball in the air for your spikers perfectly, no matter the circumstance.” 

“Huh, ya never told me that.” Atsumu stops eating in favor of studying Omi. 

“No?” Omi tries to hide his blush with his fork. It doesn’t work. “I guess there are  some things you don’t know about me then.”

Atsumu cackles at that. “Maybe just a few. One day, yer gonna get yer memories back and be pissed ya told me that, ‘cause I’m gonna hold it over yer head forever. Omi admired me.” 

“I never said that word. I said fascinated. Plenty of weird and gross things fascinate me too, like blobfish, and the decomposition process.” 

“Ya probably had a crush on me.”

“Okay, I remember why I didn’t tell you now.”

Atsumu covers his mouth so he doesn’t laugh with food in it. Samu was worrying over nothing. There’s nothing weird about this. It’s normal, it’s fun. They may have to get used to each other again, but Omi is all too willing. 

When it grows dark outside, when they’ve exhausted all of their topics for the evening, Omi shifts in his seat. “What do we usually do next?”

Atsumu thinks about that. It’s kind of hard to sum it up a few words. “In the evenin’s it depends. Sometimes we watch movies, sometimes ya get all into yer YouTube videos, or we’ll go out and do somethin’. Ya like to go on walks. Good for yer joints.”

“I do like walks,” Omi mumbles.

“Ya like board games too. We get real competitive.” Atsumu grins. “Ya beat my ass at chess but I’m the reignin’ champion at shogi.” 

Omi’s eyes light up at that, “I doubt that. I’ll destroy you.” 

“Yer on, Omi.”

 

-x-

 

They spend the next day together, too. It’s their last day off before they have to go back to practice and they spend it doing absolutely nothing but molding themselves into the couch. It’s necessary. Atsumu has weeks’ worth of recovery to go through, and Omi has no complaints about vegetating. 

They talk less, but that’s because they’re currently so deep down a YouTube rabbit hole that Atsumu isn’t sure what plane of reality they’re in anymore. They started out watching room makeovers, which were pleasant, but somehow ended up in the part of the Internet that theorizes in great detail the existence of aliens.

“This is giving me a headache,” Omi grunts. He takes the remote and switches out and Atsumu breathes a sigh of relief – he’s had enough existential crises in the last few weeks. His calm is short-lived though, because Omi lands on an absolutely horrific video of somebody popping pimples. His stomach turns immediately.

“Ah, Omi, I can’t tolerate it,” he whines, covering his eyes. He’s made that clear in the past, but he has to get Omi back up to speed. “I hate that shit.”

“It’s interesting,” Omi argues. “You really hate it?”

“Makes me wanna vomit.”

“Okay, okay,” he switches to something else – something even worse. 

“Nope! Not ASMR, please not that,” he begs. “It hurts my brain to hear people chew. I forgot how into this kinda crap ya were.”

“Oh, sorry.” Omi’s face falls. “I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay.” Atsumu unclenches when the video stops. “No biggie. Forgot I had to remind ya of that stuff.” 

“Yeah,” Omi says, and then nothing more. They ended up back on his home page, and Omi makes no move to go to another video.

“I guess I should probably head home anyway,” Atsumu decides because he can feel the tension creeping back into the room and the safest option is to run away from it. If he pretends not to notice it, Atsumu doesn’t have to think about why it’s there in the first place.

“Okay,” Omi agrees, shifting uncomfortably. “Hey, Atsumu…”

“Yeah?” Atsumu always lets himself be hopeful when Omi says his name – he’s not sure what for, but there’s an emptiness that sits on his chest, and he keeps waiting for Omi to fill it. When he says his name, there are endless possibilities of what could come after, and so Atsumu hopes.

“I don’t think we should tell the team about this yet,” he says, all in a rush. “About us.”

“Oh, okay. That’s fine, then, Omi.”

“I know it was a problem before,” Omi’s words are pleading. “I don’t want it to be, but I’m just not ready for all of the questions. They’re all so loud and I don’t know that we have the answers to everything they’re going to ask.”

Atsumu sulks a little, against his own will. “I mean, we don’t have to tell them the whole story, I know enough – ”

“I don’t,” Omi interrupts. “I don’t know enough to tell them and I’m still – getting used to everything. Sometimes it’s hard to just acclimate back to this life I’m supposed to have been living.”

A lump the size of a mango lodges itself in Atsumu’s throat. “Yeah, I get it,” he says, trying not to let his voice come out as hollow as he feels. “We’ll just tell them we’re friends now, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Omi agrees, soft. “That works.”

It works. Atsumu knows that it’ll make things easier if they don’t jump right into something nearly impossible to explain.  Everyone will want to know why they hid it, how long it’s been going on, all of the gritty details that Atsumu can manage, but that Omi doesn’t have the capacity to clarify. He’s right, and it’s fine.

Atsumu was just...looking forward to telling his friends, finally. Samu eased some of the burden of keeping it a secret, but he wants to tell Shoyo and Bokun. He wants to rub it in Inunaki’s face. He wants to see the shock in Tomas and Meian’s eyes, get clapped on the shoulder by Barnes, who is always supportive. 

He forces a smile onto his face. “It’ll be good, Omi. We’ll get them used to it.” 

It’ll be just like things have been for the past two weeks – coming and going without sneaking around, no more fake scowls at practice. Atsumu is happy to drop the act, even if the curtain will only fall halfway. It’s a compromise that he can deal with.

“We will,” Omi replies. “Goodnight, then.”

Atsumu lingers by the door, turns to say his own goodbye, but then Omi shocks him into stillness, leaning in and pressing a kiss to his cheek – just once. It’s chaste and it’s over before Atsumu can comprehend it, but once his brain catches up, he grins bright enough to rival a lightbulb. 

Omi is blushing furiously and staring at his feet. 

“I missed those,” Atsumu admits. “Ya used to be all about the cheek kisses. Forehead kisses, too. So cute, Omi-Omi.”

Omi glances up, just briefly, and something that looks lost flashes in his eyes. Atsumu can’t make it out. 

He leaves anyway.

The next morning comes sooner than Atsumu expected. He thought he would sleep better, after he and Omi made up, but it still eludes him. He wonders if he’s too far gone and he’s going to have to learn to live on six hours or less every day. He used to give Samu shit for all the coffee he consumed, but Atsumu is going to end up giving him a run for his money. 

Omi meets him at the front of the building and Atsumu’s nerves uncoil. His life has felt like a fever dream lately, but no matter what, seeing Omi will bring him unconscious comfort. They don’t hold hands, but when Atsumu’s arm bumps Omi’s, he doesn’t complain or move further away; he bumps back. Atsumu is trying not to think too much about the proximity, or the fact that they’re going to tell their teammates that they’ve decided to be friends, randomly, for no reason at all. 

Fuck, how does one even phrase that? He’s going to have to let Omi do the talking.

He doesn’t talk much now, but it’s okay. It’s a short walk, and Atsumu passes the time by pointing out various buildings to Omi and telling them how they fit into their life. 

When they walk into the gym together, Shoyo zeroes in on them like a trained sniper, and he springs into action before Atsumu can even take a breath to warn Omi. “Did you two make up?!”

Tomas tosses a volleyball at his head. Shoyo yelps and Tomas sighs. “Hinata, we were not going to ambush them. It was supposed to be subtle .” 

Inunaki bounces up from where he was sitting on the floor, tying his laces. “Nobody on this team can do subtle,” he declares. “So I’ll be the one to ask – what the fuck was Saturday night and what in the holy hell do you two have going on together?” 

Well, they’re getting right into it then. Atsumu saw that coming. He gives Omi a sideways glance, an out, maybe, let him do the talking, and if something more slips out, then –

Omi bows to the team. “We both apologize for causing trouble on Saturday.” 

Atsumu follows suit, a little clumsily. “Uh, yeah. Very sorry. That was bad.” 

“Miya and I had a falling out, but we’ve talked things through, and we won’t cause any more problems.”

Everyone watches them with varying expressions on their face. Inunaki is shocked, mouth wide open. Shoyo is more confused, like whatever he had in his head was not this. Bokun is grinning. Meian, Tomas, and Barnes stay neutral, but Meian has a concerned glint in his eyes. 

“A falling out?” Meian breaks the silence.

“Not following,” Inunaki adds. “How do you have a falling out when you were never falling in?”

“I don’t think that makes sense…” Bokun’s eyebrows knit together.

“It’s complicated?” Atsumu makes an attempt at explaining away. 

“We ask that you forget how we behaved towards each other in the past,” Omi interjects, and his tone is imploring enough that everyone pays rapt attention. “It was immature and not conducive to teamwork. We get along now, and you’ll see that at practice and on the court.”

“Tsumu, did you brainwash him?” Bokun wonders. It’s a genuine question, because Bokun is never anything but  genuine, which makes it more insulting.

“What, ya think I forced him to be my friend against my will?” he groans. 

“Kinda, yeah,” Tomas admits. “That would make the most sense in this situation.”

“Have some faith in me!”

“If they want to be friends, let them be friends,” Barnes decides. “People change.”

“It’ll be better for the team,” Meian says. “Okay, apology accepted. Make up for it in our EJP game next week.” 

“We will,” Omi promises.

“And no more drama when we’re going out. You’re lucky there was no paparazzi in that club. They would’ve been all over that. I won’t tell Coach Foster, just don’t do it again.”

“We won’t,” Atsumu says, and he and Omi bow their heads in tandem. Meian nods, and then Coach Foster joins them in the gym and well – that’s that.

The team knows they don’t hate each other. It’s not the truth, but it’s something, and it was that simple. Atsumu is getting a little suspicious of how easy things are around here now.

 

-x-

 

Things are not easy.

Actually, they’re probably harder than before. Atsumu and Omi play well together. Their practices go stunningly and Coach Foster is beside himself with glee at it. Their teammates pick up on it too and they taunt them over their budding friendship, and how they should’ve locked them in a room and forced them to get along together years ago.

Atsumu knows they're full of shit because he and Omi have always played together just fine – great, even, but there is something to be said about being able to freely smile at him on the court, to be able to offer high-fives and to have his shouted compliments returned. Things aren’t easy, though, because he can’t wrap Omi up in a hug. He can’t kiss him or absent-mindedly play with his curls, neither at practice or outside of it.

Omi wouldn’t stop him, but Atsumu has come to recognize a new emotion in his eyes – one that’s prominent like never before. It’s hesitant. Insecure. Atsumu watches it come out several times a day and he doesn’t know what to do to alleviate it. 

It happens when they stop by a restaurant on the way home and Atsumu gives the cashier Omi’s exact order without asking. 

“How do you know that’s what I was going to get?”

“Oh, ya always get it. We came here a lot. Sorry, I shouldn’t – did ya want somethin’ else?”

“No, that’s what I wanted,” he mumbles. “Thanks.”

It happens when they stop by their apartment gym before practice and Atsumu automatically starts helping Omi stretch, exactly the routine he was given years ago. Omi startles at the fact that Atsumu knows it so well, and there’s that look in his eyes. 

“My athletic trainer in college came up with this,” Omi tells him, like this should be news to Atsumu. It’s not.

“Yeah, Haruki! He was really good with ya. Ya told me all about him.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure I did.” 

Things come to head on the night before their EJP game. They’re at Atsumu’s place this time and it’s nearing 10 PM when Omi asks, “Did we used to stay over at each other’s places?”

“Generally,” Atsumu answers, heart thumping in his chest at the sudden topic change. “But ya don’t have to do that, Omi. We don’t have to jump back into everythin’ all at once.”

“No, I want to,” Omi decides. He sounds set in his resolve. “But maybe – my place?”

“Okay.” Atsumu jumps up so fast it makes him dizzy. “Okay. We’ll go back to yer place. Um. Lemme just get my stuff – ”

Omi waits patiently while Atsumu gets himself together. He gathers his toothbrush, a change of clothes and his phone charger. Omi assesses him curiously.

“Did you not leave anything at my place?”

“Not intentionally,” Atsumu says. “I had shampoo in yer shower, but I’d just run out before the accident. Ironic, right?” He laughs nervously. He doesn’t know why he’s so nervous around Omi. He wasn’t before, when he was pretending just to be his friend. “Ya like yer organization, so I never left my toothbrush or anythin’. I never wanted to impose.”

Omi scrunches together his eyebrows. “We were together for a year and I never let you leave a toothbrush at my place?”

“I never asked,” Atsumu admits. “It just seemed like – well, we never really had a title for what we were doin’. We spent all of our time together, but neither of us ever asked the other to make it...official, I guess,” he finishes lamely. “It was a good thing, and I didn’t wanna push ya. It was always a little hard to believe, that ya’d pick me.”

Omi frowns. “Why?”

“What d’ya mean why?”

“Why would it be hard to believe? Didn’t I kiss you first?”

“Well, yeah, but...I dunno, Omi. Yer always – ya’ve always been above me.”

“That’s not true,” Omi argues. “Did I do something to make you think that way?”

He hadn’t, it’s just always how Atsumu thought. It shocked him every day that someone as refined as Omi had picked him. Omi is a Tokyo boy through and through and Atsumu grew up in a small town in Hyogo. Omi is perfectly composed while Atsumu is floundering, overzealous, overwhelming. He loved Omi with his entire heart, but he was afraid that if he showed that too much, if he intertwined himself too much with Omi’s life, then one day he would wake up and declare enough is enough. 

“No, ya didn’t.”

Omi stays silent. Atsumu rushes to finish gathering his things. The sinking feeling in his gut demands to be acknowledged, but Atsumu has gotten skilled at disregarding anxieties. Things are fine – they’re more than fine. They’re good. Omi just invited him to stay the night after months of having to keep himself away. These are all good things, but Atsumu can’t help but zero in on the way Omi keeps picking at his fingernails, or the way his smile doesn’t reach his eyes.

Omi’s apartment is a mess again. Every time Atsumu comes over, Omi mutters a string of excuses and tidies quickly, but it always goes back to a state of disarray. It’s unlike Omi to be content to live in clutter. Atsumu can’t tell what’s going on in his head. 

He tries to relax. He tells himself they’re both just nervous, because while they’ve done this one hundred times before, it’s still new. Omi orders them takeout and Atsumu picks a movie – something easy, that they don’t have to pay attention to much. 

They talk idly, but Omi doesn’t ask any questions, and he keeps up that nervous habit of touching his fingernails.

When it’s time to retire to sleep, Atsumu starts setting up the couch. Omi watches him with a crinkle between his eyebrows. 

“Whatcha givin’ me that look for, Omi?”

Omi’s cheeks heat up. “I just assumed that you would sleep in the bed with me.” 

Atsumu pauses to give him an incredulous look. “Did ya want me to sleep in the bed with ya?” 

“Well, if that’s how we used to do it…” Omi trails off, looking anywhere but at Atsumu’s face. 

“Omi, we don’t – we don’t have to do that. I don’t wanna make ya uncomfortable.”

“You’re not. I’m asking for it. I’m hoping that...being close to you will trigger things. Memories, maybe.”

“Oh,” Atsumu bites his lip. It feels wrong, almost dirty, to agree to share a bed with Omi. He doesn’t want to take advantage of him, but he can stay on his side of the bed and he’ll be on his best behavior. Besides, it’s a good theory – maybe it will help with remembering, and God, Atsumu has missed being close to Omi. “Okay. But ya better kick me out if ya decide halfway through the night that ya don’t like me in yer bed. I’ll sleep on the floor if I have to. I don’t care.”

Omi rolls his eyes, seeming to relax, just a little. “I wouldn’t ask for it if I didn’t want it.”

Atsumu is practically vibrating with anticipation – a nervous excitement that he never quite got over with Omi, but this time amplified a hundred times over. He hasn’t been sleeping well, and this could be the solution – Omi soothes him, eases his anxieties. He’ll lull him into sleep. 

Atsumu has Omi’s bedtime routine memorized. It’s meticulous, just like anyone would imagine, but Atsumu has had his fair share of times where he had to remind Omi of it, just because he knows he would be grumpy in the morning if he forwent doing it before bed. He washes his face with two different products, applies lotion, brushes his teeth for the full two minutes recommended by dentists, flosses, takes a melatonin and then settles into bed to read. It fascinated Atsumu to no end the first time he slept over. Atsumu can generally pass out as soon as his head hits the pillow but Omi needs to read for at least  fifteen minutes or he can’t sleep. Atsumu bought him a tiny reading lamp so that they could coexist in their sleeping routines peacefully.

Tonight, Atsumu turns the sheets just the way Omi likes them. He gets an extra blanket from where he knows it sits, folded neatly in his closet, and he changes into his pajamas. When Omi comes out, dressed down and clean, he stares at Atsumu curiously.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Omi answers. “It’s just – of course you would know exactly how I like the bed.”

“Yeah, ‘course.” Atsumu smiles tentatively. “You’ll learn my routine soon, although it’s pretty borin’. I don’t care about my skin as much as you do.”

“You should,” Omi grumps. “I can already tell you don’t wear sunscreen.”

“How d’ya know?” Atsumu pouts. 

“The freckles,” Omi points out. He climbs into bed next to Atsumu, close enough that Atsumu’s heart stutters. Omi reaches a hand out and pokes Atsumu’s nose. “You have them across your nose. I never noticed before.”

“Ya like my freckles,” Atsumu says proudly. “Ya used to kiss them and I’d kiss yer moles, and – ah, well, we don’t have to talk about it.” He laughs, a little awkwardly, and Omi frowns. 

“Okay, we don’t,” he agrees. “I’m going to – ”

“Read, right? It’s alright, I’m used to it. I can sleep through anythin’.”

“Right,” Omi says slowly. “Okay. Goodnight then...Atsumu.”

“Goodnight, Omi.”

Atsumu should feel warm. He should fall asleep faster than he has in weeks, but something heavy settles in his stomach when Omi turns away from him, and he has a hard time getting his brain to quiet down.

 

-x-

 

Playing EJP isn’t as big of an event as the Adlers game was, but Atsumu is still keen on kicking Suna’s ass, and he tries to tell himself that’s why he slept so poorly. He’s just nervous – excited, jittery, whatever the word. It isn’t because of Omi, who Atsumu has spent more nights in bed with than out of at this point – it has nothing to do with that.

Atsumu wakes him up now, gently, toeing his boundary line carefully. He touches his shoulder, just barely, and shakes him. “Game day, Omi.” 

“Mmph,” Omi responds. When he blinks awareness into his eyes, Atsumu sees the bags there. Even a week later, they haven’t gone away.

“Ya feelin’ alright, Omi?” Atsumu frets, though he thinks he knows sickness is not the cause. He has a terrible feeling that  he  is the cause, but he compartmentalizes the feeling. He can’t let his mind tell him lies the day of a game – it’ll throw everything off.

“I’m fine,” Omi responds. “We should get ready.”

Getting ready together has always been a quiet affair. Atsumu learned quickly how to exist in Omi’s space – how to fit himself perfectly next to the sink so they could share the mirror, how to maneuver around his fancy shower, how to find where everything was in the kitchen so he could efficiently make breakfast. He shows that now, and instead of going on with his routine, Omi just watches him.

He’s been doing a lot of that recently – observing, fully focused on anything and everything Atsumu does, like he’s trying to make sense of it all. 

“Kinda freakin’ me out, Omi,” he says off-handedly, going for teasing. Omi pouts. 

“I just have a lot to learn,” he admits. “You know so much about me and my life and I don’t know anything about you.”

“That’s not true, I’ve been tellin’ ya tons about me.” 

“Stories,” Omi drawls, almost to himself. Atsumu would miss it if he wasn’t listening so hard. 

“What d’ya – ”

“Come on,” Omi interrupts. “If we’re late, Meian is going to bitch.”

“No one will bitch at ya, Omi. You can do no wrong, remember?”

“For now.” 

It’s easy, Atsumu thinks, to pretend that these little moments mean nothing. It’s easy to turn a blind eye, to bury himself in fake feelings of domestic bliss and of happiness, but Atsumu is cursed to  notice things. He can’t stop himself, and this is no different. Something is wrong with Omi – he’s unhappy in this situation; he’s unhappy with Atsumu. 

He wonders if he regrets it. Was it a spur-of-the-moment decision? Omi watched the videos when he was drunk, emotional, exhausted...did Atsumu force this on him? 

“Atsumu,” Omi calls from the door. “I’m going to leave without you.” 

“Comin’.”

Atsumu tries not to think about it. He gives his best attempt – he listens intently to Meian’s pep-talk; he shares an ear-bud with Omi on the bus; he laughs at one of Shoyo’s Brazil stories. He stretches and warms up and trash-talks Suna from across the net. He spots Samu in the crowd and shouts at him. He sizes up the competition, but the whole time, Omi’s discomfort is at the forefront of his mind and somehow it’s worse than anything else.

Before, at least Atsumu had the excuse that Omi didn’t remember – but now he knows. He knows, and he’s still too distant for Atsumu to reach.

It’s been building for the past week and he can’t ignore it anymore.

The whistle blows, signaling the start of the game, and Atsumu does his best to gather himself, but he botches his first serve. His teammates tell him to shake it off. He blames it on nerves, but he feels Omi’s eyes on him. 

It’s not a one-time thing, either. Atsumu is tragically off his game. He grits his teeth after each set, watching the trajectory miss, watching his spikers scramble. They can pick up the slack, usually, but they can’t pull off miracles. 

When he rotates to the front, Suna assesses him. “You’re playing like shit.” 

“Thanks, Sunarin,” he snaps. “I didn’t notice.”

“Whatever you’re freaking out about – don’t. It’s volleyball. You’re good. I’m still gonna kick your ass, but chill.” 

Atsumu huffs and rolls his eyes. Leave it to Suna to turn shit-talking into some sort of life-lesson. He retained too much from Kita. 

It helps, a little, though. Atsumu turns off his brain and throws himself into the game. He’s not perfect, and the damage is done, but at least they don’t get crushed. They lose the game and Atsumu, his dignity.

Everyone is far too nice about it, like they can read his every thought, and he hates it. He waits on the court, letting his teammates go into the locker room without him. Omi goes too, after a quick glance back at him. 

“Oi,” Suna calls. He’s not even wearing his signature shit-eating grin, so Atsumu must really look pathetic. “We’re going to get drinks. Let’s go.”

“I don’t wanna,” Atsumu grumbles. 

“Not asking.” Suna yanks him up from where he’s sitting on the bench. “Your brother is waiting for us.”

“Do I get to shower?”

“Are you going to drown yourself?”

No,” Atsumu snaps, but it’s a fair question. He doesn’t try to hide his agony from Suna, not that he could anyway. He’s too perceptive, and there’s a zero-percent chance that Samu hasn’t already gone and told him everything. He started seeing right through him the moment the game started. “Where are we even goin’?”

“Out,” Suna says simply. “Your team and my team. That’s what we do after games, remember?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Atsumu sighs. He wants nothing more than to hole up in his hotel room and cry by himself, but even that’s impossible. He’s sharing a room with Omi. Maybe going out would be a better option. “I’ll be back in fifteen.”

Atsumu tries to sneak into the locker room, but nobody will allow him to wallow in peace. Shoyo and Bokun jump him, both proclaiming that it was a fluke, an off-day, a good game, regardless. Meian claps him on the back, Inunaki tells him he’s fired, Tomas and Barnes try to rein them all in so they don’t take an hour getting ready to leave. Atsumu indulges them all, but his eyes keep straying to Omi, who has been fidgeting in his locker for the entire interaction.

Atsumu approaches him, even though he would rather run the other way. “Hey, ya did good. Sorry about my sets.”

“Is it my fault?” Omi wonders, still staring into his locker. 

“What? No, ya played just like you were supposed to – ”

“That’s not what I mean,” Omi interrupts, like he does when he’s frustrated. “You were distracted during the game. Upset. Am I making you upset?”

“Omi, no, that’s not – ”

“Sakusa!” Inunaki calls, breaking the moment. “You’re coming with us, right? Your cousin is my favorite person. I need some libero bonding.”

“Yes, I am,” Omi answers, shutting his locker. It echoes in Atsumu’s ears. “I need to meet up with Motoya, actually, but I’ll see you all there.”

“Nice!” Shoyo cheers. “I want Komori to teach me how he receives like that – I still haven’t quite gotten it yet.”

“Stop trying to come for my position,” Inunaki whines.

“I’ll see you there, Atsumu,” Omi mumbles to him and then he’s walking away, and Atsumu can’t shake the feeling that he’s walking away from him. 

 

-x-

 

“You know,” Suna approaches Atsumu with two drinks balanced in his hand. Samu follows him, sipping his own. “I’m kinda tired of your misery.” 

“Same,” Samu agrees. “What’s wrong now, Tsumu? Why are you and Sakusa on opposite sides of this bar? Ya havin’ a lover’s quarrel?”

Atsumu stares longingly across the room where Omi sits in a booth with Motoya and Shoyo. He isn’t even trying to look interested.

“They’re definitely fighting,” Suna deduces. “He almost looks worse than you do.”

“We’re not fightin’,'' Atsumu grumbles. “We’re just…” he trails off, and swallows down his pride. He has to, for what comes next. “I think you were right, Samu.” 

“What was that?” Samu asks, cupping a hand to his ear. “Didn’t quite hear ya, say it louder.” 

“Ah, fuck off. Sunarin, make him fuck off.”

Suna laughs. “I don’t have a leash on him, sorry to say. I’m gonna agree with him being right though, even if I don’t know what he’s right about. I’m assuming it has something to do with the secret relationship?”

“Traitor,” Atsumu barks at Samu, even though it’s expected.

“Like ya wouldn’t have told him yerself.” 

Atsumu plays with his chopsticks, a nervous habit that he picked up when he was younger – the need to constantly fidget. Kita used to admonish him for it, but eventually he gave up. “He’s distant. It gets worse every time we hang out. He gets upset whenever I do somethin’ for him.”

“What do ya mean ‘do somethin’ for him’?” Samu asks. “Are ya buyin’ him gifts, or are ya coddlin’ him? Ya know how ya like to coddle.”

“I miss when Tsumu used to coddle me,” Suna sighs. Samu smacks his arm.

“It’s not even that, it’s like, anythin’. I’ll lay out his pajamas for him, or turn on his readin’ light, and he’s all weird about it. I’ll tell him somethin’ I know about him and he gets pouty. He asks me to tell him things about the past, but I don’t think he really wants to hear them.” 

“Hmm,” Samu hums. Suna leans in, gesturing to him to carry on. 

“Like – we’re doin’ a lot together, right? Stuff we used to do. It’s all the same, I guess, except he doesn’t seem that into it. It feels like he’s forcin’ himself to do it – puttin’ on an act for me, ya know?” 

“Yeah,” Samu answers before Suna can. “No shit. Yer tryin’ to recreate a life that he’s got no recollection of. Of course he’s bein’ weird about it.”

“It would be weird,” Suna agrees. “To not know anything and then suddenly be told that this is the life you’ve been living, and you just have to start living it from where you left off.”

“He said it’s what he wants!” protests Atsumu.

“Because he’s just as much of a bleedin’ heart idiot as you are. Both of ya have such self-destructive tendencies. He’s doin’ it for ya, Tsumu, because he knows how bad it hurt for ya to lose what ya had.”

“But –”

“He’s tryin’ to manage without his memories, but think about it – what if someone just showed up in yer life, said they loved ya, and then slipped back into a routine that ya’ve got no idea about? He might never remember, and then he’s just gotta feel stuck in a stranger’s life.”

Atsumu is beginning to feel desperate. “Then what do I do? Do I gotta give him up? I can’t – you know I can’t do that.”

“What was our high school motto again?” Suna asks airily, staring into Atsumu’s soul. “‘Who needs memories’ or something like that? Wow, how fitting.”

“I don’t understand,” Atsumu whines. He’s decided he hates Samu and Suna together. They communicate telepathically and gang up on him and that’s supposed to be he and Samu’s thing. “What does that have to do with anythin’?”

“Maybe ya oughta start over, Tsumu,” Samu suggests. “You don’t have to give him up, but ya might have to give up this version of him.”

“Not followin’.”

“You’re the one with brain damage,” Suna groans. “How would you normally start a relationship?” 

“I’d...ask ‘em on a date?” 

“Exactly,” Samu says, slowly, like he’s sounding it out for Atsumu. “Ask Sakusa on a date. A new beginnin’. That takes some of the pressure off of him, feelin’ like he can’t measure up to what ya have in his head, not knowin’ enough about ya. Ya gotta let go of the past. That relationship isn’t comin’ back, so make a new one. Give yerself a clean slate to work with.”

“How do you know so much about how Omi works?” Atsumu whines. 

“Because I was his damn therapist for an entire night, in case ya forgot. I’m gonna add that to my list of reason why I’m doin’ better than ya in life – I’ve got a restaurant chain and I’m a therapist.”

Suna giggles. “Are you getting it, Tsumu? Just forget the past. Don’t hold onto something that doesn’t exist anymore. Create something new. It’s that simple.”

“It’s that simple, huh?” Atsumu rolls his eyes at both of them. It sure doesn’t seem that simple, but then...maybe it is. The problem isn’t the feelings – Omi still likes Atsumu, the Atsumu he knows now. He’s just trying to make himself fall back into love with the Atsumu from his past. Atsumu has been so focused on getting back what they had, that he never stopped to think about how difficult it must be for Omi. 

Actually, it might be exactly that simple. 

“Huh.”

“Ya, it’s almost as if I told ya that ya should consider that a week ago when ya called me about it.” Samu rolls his eyes. “Yer gonna learn to listen to me eventually. I give the best advice.”

“He does.” Suna nods sagely. “The stereotype that one twin is smart and one is a raging idiot is all too true.”

“Oi.” Atsumu pushes him back by the forehead. “Alright, alright. If I’m so dumb, then why am I the only one who’s actually confessed to the person I like? Last I checked, ya’ll were just flirtin’ and fuckin’ with nothin’ to show for it.”

Suna chokes on his drink and Samu glares with enough venom that Atsumu may drop dead on the spot.

“He knows?” Suna sputters. “How does he know?”

“I didn’t tell him!” Samu cries. “He figured it out on his own!”

“How? He doesn’t figure anything out!”

“I figured out that you two loved each other before ya figured it out yerselves,” Atsumu snaps and he stands up to go. “I may have not known ya were sleepin’ with each other, but once I learned that, the rest made a lot of sense. I gotta talk to Omi. Lemme know how things go here.” He gestures between them and smiles sweetly. “But no graphic details. Please spare me.”

“One day I’ll kill ya,” Samu promises with his head in his hands. “One day.”

Atsumu sticks his tongue out. 

“Ya’d be so bored being an only child.”

Suna is laughing now, cheeks an alarming shade of red, but eyes filled with happiness. “Do you love me, Samu?”

“Jesus Christ.”

Atsumu pats Samu on the back, and with a renewed spring in his step, he walks away from their table and over to Omi. 

It’s a short walk and Atsumu closes the distance in no time. He’s done hesitating, tip-toeing and walking a path that he has memorized. This time, he’ll make a new one for them. Omi sees him coming. Atsumu gives him no chance to run.

“Hey,” he greets him, and all of the table turns to look at him, but Atsumu only looks at Omi. “Ya wanna go somewhere?”

Motoya and Shoyo give him matching grins. Ah, so there’s confirmation that Omi told Motoya, and Shoyo may not know everything, but he’s pretty damn close. Omi stares up at him with surprise.

“Where?”

“Anywhere. A date. Let’s go get dinner.”

“A date!” cheers Shoyo, beside himself. He’s not even drunk, just thrilled. “Say yes, Omi, say yes! Tsumu would be a great boyfriend!”

Motoya giggles and gently guides Shoyo up from the booth. “C’mon, Hinata. Let’s go talk by the bar. I’ll tell you about that really cool dive technique I did today.” 

Motoya leads Shoyo away, and so Atsumu is alone with Omi, who is watching him now with a mixture of quiet wonder and mild confusion. “Okay...a date. That’s fine. You didn’t have to ask me. We always just go out now.”

“Nah,” Atsumu stops him. “That’s different. This is a real date. Our first date.”  

“What are you talking about?” Omi asks slowly. “We’ve already gone on plenty of dates...over a year’s worth, I thought?”

“We did, but ya don’t remember those. I can tell ya, but it’s not the same. I don’t wanna force ya to live a life ya don’t remember, Omi. I don’t need ya to fit into this perfect mold of how we were.”

Omi’s eyes water immediately and he blinks frantically. “You’re saying – you would be willing to let it all go?”

Atsumu was doing well not crying but Omi is about to send him over the edge. “Ah, well, ya remember me from high school, so ya remember my team motto, right? I don’t need the memories.” He scratches the back of his head, a little sheepish by his grand proclamation. “Of course I’d let it go for ya, Omi. As long as I get ya in my life, I don’t care if we start over.” He doesn’t. He’ll stick with Omi through anything — memories or not. “Will ya start over with me?” 

Omi failed at stopping the tears and he wipes uselessly at them with his sleeve now. “I’ve been feeling so lost. It’s been like stepping into somebody else’s life. I’m like a stranger in this relationship. I know how we started, and I know our stories, but I didn’t actually experience them, and it’s been hard. I – I wanted to try to go back to how things were, but I don’t think that exists anymore.”

“No, I don’t think so either,” Atsumu admits. It’s cathartic to say out loud, after sitting on it for a week. “And at first I was sad about that, but I don’t care about how things were. I care about you now, Omi. I love who ya were, and I love who ya are, and who yer gonna be one day – I’ll love him too.”

The tears fall faster. Atsumu reaches out to him. 

“No more cryin’, Omi. We’ve done enough of that. Ya don’t wanna let Inunaki see ya cry. He’ll be terrible.” 

A laugh bubbles out of Omi. It’s watery and desperate. “We’ll start over?”

“Hell yeah,” Atsumu says with conviction. “It’ll be fun. I’ll romance ya. I’ll take ya to fancy restaurants and on picnics and to all the good movies. I’ll repeat dates and you’ll never have any idea. It’ll be great.”

Omi chokes on a giggle. “I like the sound of that.”

“Then let’s go, Omi. I’m gonna find somewhere nice to take ya.” 

“Didn’t I start us out?” He cocks his head to the side, a teasing glint hiding in his eyes. “Shouldn’t I kiss you in a locker room?”

Atsumu laughs. It burns in his chest, but not in a bad way. “We can do it differently this time around. If ya like me at the end of the date, maybe I’ll get a kiss.” 

“Maybe you will.”

“So, is that a yes? Will ya let me take ya out?”  

“Yeah,” Omi says, a little breathless. “Yeah, let’s go.”

Atsumu smiles and he squeezes Omi’s hand before releasing it. He runs to tell Samu and Suna he’s going, for once fleeing the scene not in shambles, but with butterflies fluttering in his gut. 

Samu rolls his eyes at him but he grins, and Atsumu doesn’t miss the way he sits shoulder-to-shoulder with Suna, goofy, lovestruck expressions on both of their faces. Gross.

He and Omi leave together, into the warm, Spring night with a whole city in front of them.

They’re in Tokyo, so Atsumu can’t take Omi to their ramen restaurant, but that’s okay – because this is new. They have an entire lit-up world in front of them, and Atsumu can take Omi anywhere.

“Whatcha in the mood for, Omi?” Atsumu asks rather than assumes. This night is for Omi to dictate, and he’s all too happy to. He leads them nowhere, meandering through the city until they come across a hole-in-the-wall sushi place. Omi says he went with his team a few times and that he thinks Atsumu will love it. 

It’s the type with rare, vintage decor and it’s covered in fairy lights. They illuminate Omi’s face as he sits across from Atsumu, smiling at everything he says. They don’t talk about the past – instead, Atsumu tells him about himself, about his dreams, his plans, his favorite color and all of the things that set his teeth on edge. Omi does the same, granting Atsumu bits of trivia that even he had never heard of. It turns out that he has a lot to learn about Omi still, and he can’t wait to spend a lifetime learning it. 

Atsumu laughs while Omi tells him about his college team, groans when he’s given a lecture on the state of his apartment (Omi noticed the disarray that Atsumu could never quite get a handle on), and when Omi sets his hand on the table, Atsumu takes it, intertwining their fingers.

Omi looks down at their hands, then back at Atsumu. The stars in his eyes are blazing bright. The smile could melt a glacier. 

“Ya look beautiful, Omi. I wanna take a picture of ya like this.”

“You can,” Omi says, tilting his head a little. 

Atsumu squeezes Omi’s hand. He takes out his phone and captures the moment – their interlaced fingers, the soft upturn of Omi’s lips, the glow of the colorful lights surrounding him. He shows it to Omi after, raising an eyebrow in an unasked question about his photography skills.

“It’s a good one,” Omi praises him. “I would allow that to be posted on social media.”

“D’ya mean...d’ya mean I can post it?” 

“Only if you think of a good caption.” He smirks. Atsumu beams back, and he pulls up Instagram immediately. It’ll cause an absolute explosion – the team will lose their shit, it’ll make it to all of the trashy gossip magazines. They’ll have to explain it to their friends, their families, their coach. 

It’s a small price for Atsumu to pay to be able to tell the world that he loves Sakusa Kiyoomi. His Omi. 

He taps his fingers across the keyboard, smiling all the while. When he’s done, he shows it to Omi for his approval. He laughs lightly.

“Cheesy. Who knew you were such a romantic?”

“Yeah,” Atsumu breathes, tangling his leg with Omi’s under the table. “Who knew?”

He posts the picture. Underneath it, the caption reads: Here’s to a new beginning to the story of us.

Chapter Text

Kiyoomi is learning, day-by-day.

Memories are not like math problems. He can’t calculate why his heart beats like a hummingbird whenever Atsumu enters a room. There’s no logical answer to why his body is flushed with heat whenever he sticks his tongue out at Kiyoomi across the court, or why whenever Atsumu grants him a flash of that blinding smile, Kiyoomi’s own mouth turns upwards without warning. Kiyoomi can’t decipher his emotions, his reactions, his hopes, and his fears.

But he’s learning. 

In the beginning, Kiyoomi wondered every day what could have possibly possessed him to be careless enough to let it happen. On paper, nothing was his fault. The other driver was texting and slammed into him going well-above the speed limit. Kiyoomi was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and it uprooted his entire life.

His therapist tells him not to dwell on the past. It’s easier said than done. For the first two weeks, it’s all Kiyoomi did. He beat himself down, asking again and again – why? Why didn’t he wear a seatbelt? Why wasn’t he paying more attention to his surroundings? He doesn’t even remember where he was going that day. All of the ‘why’s and the ‘what if’s swirled around in his head like a tornado and he didn’t know how to stop it. 

Healing is a difficult process. Kiyoomi abhors feeling out of control. He fights it any way he can, but to wake up and be told you’re missing two years of your life – he spiraled. 

And as he spiraled, there was Atsumu. A constant in this life that he didn’t know – a source of comfort and peace that Kiyoomi didn’t understand, that scared him. Like most things of that nature, Kiyoomi went at him with his teeth bared, despite the fact that every instinct begged him to let Atsumu in.

He’s trying to move past it. 

Kiyoomi has been Atsumu’s boyfriend for nearly two months and just like promised, they’re adhering to a brand new timeline. They go on dates, they hold hands, and do all of the things that couples do. It’s something that he would have never been able to wrap his head around before – wanting these sort of things, wanting somebody to take up this much space in his life, but he’s never met someone like Atsumu.

He has a lot of issues with his thought-processes from the past, but letting Miya Atsumu into his life was the right choice. Kiyoomi can’t get enough of him. He wants to kiss him senseless constantly.

It’s sweet and it’s sincere and it feels better than anything Kiyoomi has ever felt. 

It also scares the absolute hell out of him. 

He knows their story – Atsumu’s videos will be saved on his phone forever, and he watches them when he’s alone, mesmerized by the fact that these memories belong to him and Atsumu alone, even if Kiyoomi can only see them on a screen. For weeks after Atsumu sent the videos, Kiyoomi studied them, pleading with his mind to remember, to unlock even the faintest echoes of his time with Atsumu, and for weeks, he was left disappointed. 

It’s more like watching a beloved television show – Kiyoomi is invested in the story, could watch it over and over again, but he’s detached from it.

His therapist told him getting his memories back is going to be like putting together a puzzle, but some of the pieces are missing from the box. They fell out when he was carrying it inside and they lay scattered around his rooms, in the streets that he walked, in all of the places he went. Kiyoomi has to look around to find them, and it may take time, and it may be frustrating, but eventually, Kiyoomi will find them all. One day, he’ll put that final piece of the puzzle into place. 

His doctor is confident that his memories will return. Apparently, the fact that he only lost two years is a positive sign – he has a better chance than someone with an entirely clean slate. Atsumu talks like it’s only a matter of time, and Kiyoomi is so scared of disappointing him.

Atsumu never pressures him to remember. He’s conscious, now, of the difference in their knowledge of their relationship, and so both of them treat it like it’s something new. It is – it’s brand new to Kiyoomi, and there are adjustments, but he’s happy. He’s happy with Miya Atsumu. Sometimes, there are slip-ups and Atsumu falls back into routines that only he is privy to. Kiyoomi doesn’t fault him for it, but it’s a painful reminder of the fact that he is still not whole.

He brings it up one night because he’s trying to be more communicative about his problems, rather than just running away from them. They all know how that went the first time around.

“If they never come back, will you be okay with that?”

“If who never comes back? The characters in this series – ‘cause I think they’re gonna, and I don’t wanna hear yer negative energy about it. Just because it looked like they died off-screen –”

“What?” Kiyoomi scrunches his nose up. “No. My memories.” 

“Oh,” Atsumu swats at the air. “Are ya even payin’ attention to the show?” 

Kiyoomi gives him a dry look and Atsumu huffs. “I told ya, I don’t care if ya ever get them back, as long as I have ya. And I do, right?” 

“You do,” Kiyoomi confirms.

It goes like that, usually. Kiyoomi hates insecurity – it’s a new emotion for him, and not one he’s fond of. He isn’t sure if he ever felt it with such prominence before, but it’s a constant presence now, always in the background of things. He doesn’t burden Atsumu with it, and he believes him when he tells him that he doesn’t care. It would be impossible not to – Atsumu loves with all he has. It’s something wondrous to behold and breathtaking to be on the receiving end of. He adores Kiyoomi in exactly the way he needs. He’s cautious, careful not to ever take things too fast or to overwhelm him but he never leaves any doubt that he will love Kiyoomi always, memories or not.

It breaks his heart to not know if he was ever worthy of Miya Atsumu. Judging by the videos, he wasn’t, but Atsumu will insist that it isn’t true. Sometimes, when Kiyoomi is by himself, he’ll just think – willing himself to remember what was going on in his head for the past year. He can’t imagine hiding Atsumu from the world. It was selfish of him – cruel, and he doesn’t even know his reasoning for it.

He dips into his college mind. He was never privy to relationships, preferring loose arrangements that could be broken off at any time. Kiyoomi kept himself guarded, on a path to his own goals, and never changed for anyone. Motoya used to tease him for it when they were younger. ‘We all know you’re a lover, Kiyo – why do you keep all of the love locked away?’

It was true. Kiyoomi loves too easily, and he knew he couldn’t keep everyone he laid his eyes on. He got attached, and it often ended in pain, so it was always better to just...not.

 He doesn’t need to wonder what made Atsumu different. He could never stand a chance against this type of care. Atsumu downright drowned him in love. Kiyoomi would be powerless to it, but he knows he would still try to keep his distance. If Kiyoomi had to guess, he would say he maintained control by telling himself he was keeping Atsumu at arm’s length. If there wasn’t a title, a declaration of love, actual whispered confessions of feelings, then Kiyoomi could never lose him. 

If he could go back in time, he would slap his younger self. 

He would tell him to let Atsumu in, to never let him doubt Kiyoomi’s feelings, to never force him to go through the pain he went through alone. 

Losing his memories feels like a lesson that he deserves. 

He makes up for it the best he can now. He showers Atsumu in love, to the point of clinging, but Atsumu doesn’t seem to mind. It’s an odd relationship, filled with bumps and blunders, miscommunications and tension, but there is so much love. 

Enough that Kiyoomi can’t believe he would ever keep it to himself. He wants to tell the entire world how lucky he is to have somebody like Atsumu.

Well, the world certainly does know, now. The moment Atsumu sent that picture out, both of their phones blew up. Kiyoomi worried they may freeze entirely from the sheer volume of notifications that were coming in at record-breaking speed.

“Should we turn them off?” Atsumu asked, scrunching his eyebrows together in horror at the non-stop vibrating. Kiyoomi considered it. He tried to scroll through – most of it was incoherent key-smashing from the MSBY Black Jackals. Several messages were from Motoya, congratulating him on finally getting himself together – Kiyoomi owed him a much more coherent explanation, preferably with less sobbing. There were a handful from Osamu and an unknown number – which Kiyoomi inferred was his boyfriend, Suna Rintaro. He and Atsumu were apparently in a group chat with them now, one that involved lots of sarcastic comments and rolling eyes emojis.

“We should, for now,” was Kiyoomi’s final decision. “We can worry about them tomorrow. I want to focus on you tonight.”

It was romantic, sappy, but maybe Kiyoomi was that kind of person now – at least around Atsumu. He wouldn’t fight it. 

They turned off their phones and spent the rest of the evening wandering around Tokyo, trying new places, learning things about the other. Kiyoomi brought Atsumu to an ice cream shop with over one hundred different options for toppings, and when Kiyoomi got a combination of sour gummy worms, sour patch kids, and cookie dough on his, the horror on Atsumu’s face showed that how Kiyoomi ate his ice cream was new to him.

Kiyoomi smiled at the thought of being able to surprise him, still, even if he did have to endure a full twenty-minutes of incredulous teasing for the choice.

When they were both dragging their feet with exhaustion, Atsumu led them back to their hotel, and when he collapsed into his own bed, Kiyoomi followed him down.

“Omi?” he asked slowly, staying still and stiff and watching Kiyoomi like any sudden movement might startle him away. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes, choosing to close them instead.

“Mine is too far,” Kiyoomi replied, even though his own bed was a mere ten feet away. He opened one eye to gauge Atsumu’s reaction and found him beaming. Kiyoomi wrapped himself around him and brought their faces together. He watched as Atsumu’s eyes filled with a myriad of emotions – thrill, fear, love, and then he kissed him until they fluttered closed. 

Kiyoomi felt a warm sense of familiarity spread over him, and then he was somewhere else entirely – in his own apartment, with snow falling outside of the window he always kept the blinds open on. He watched it with his head against Atsumu’s chest – warm, content, home. 

He startled and Atsumu pulled away. “What’s wrong, Omi?”

“Be my boyfriend,” Kiyoomi muttered to him, urgently. His heart raced. 

“A-absolutely,” Atsumu whispered back, a little shaky, but fully affirmative. Kiyoomi kissed him again, clinging to the small piece of their old life that came back to him, playing it over and over so he wouldn’t forget again.  

They woke up to chaos in the form of MSBY knocking on the door to their hotel room, demanding answers. 

“I’m not ready for this,” Kiyoomi admitted. He and Atsumu didn’t bother falling asleep on opposite ends of the bed this time, and Kiyoomi woke up tangled up with him. Even with the pounding on the door, it was a pleasant way to wake. It was the first time since the accident that Kiyoomi had awoken with warmth and elation instead of dreary confusion. It was something he could get used to. “I want them to know, but I’m not ready for it.”

“I’ll do all the talkin’,” Atsumu promised in a low grumble. Kiyoomi paid special attention to the way Atsumu spoke. He wouldn’t forget the way his voice sounded when he spoke to Kiyoomi again. 

“I want you to tell them everything,” Kiyoomi decided. “About the whole relationship.”

“Omi, we don’t have to – ”

“I wanted to start over, but I don’t want to pretend it didn’t happen. All of those stories – they were real. I want them to know the truth.” 

Atsumu laughed a little at that. “I don’t think they’d appreciate havin’ to hear all of the stories, but sure, we can tell ‘em a few.” 

They ignored the knocking for a few more moments, mostly because Kiyoomi wanted to kiss Atsumu more, and secondarily because he needed to brush his teeth and put a shirt on. Once the pounding reached a fever pitch, Atsumu grumbled and threw himself out of bed, yanking the door open with the force of one of his serves. 

“What if we were sleepin’?” he snapped, and Kiyoomi peeked over his shoulder to see...the entire team. Meian led the pack, with Inunaki and Hinata on opposite sides of him – Hinata looking like a child on Christmas and Inunaki looking like he just witnessed a murder.

“You lost the privilege to sleep,” Meian told them, “when you decided to turn the entire V league on its ass and then disappear from the face of the planet.

“You know, I expect this kind of behavior from Miya,” Tomas said. He was laughing, failing entirely at being authoritative. “But not from you, Sakusa!”

“Can I just say,” Hinata began, stars in his eyes. “That I called this, and that I am so happy for you.”

“You almost ruined it,” Sakusa pointed out and Hinata deflated.

“He’s just making a joke, Sho,” Atsumu translated. Hinata reanimated and nodded, like of course, he knew that.

A thought invaded Kiyoomi’s head – one of his early days as a part of MSBY, with four of them in the gym, waiting for the rest of the team to arrive for an away game. Hinata, who was entirely too awake for the early hour, was trying to rouse them by playing ‘Would You Rather?’

Kiyoomi didn’t participate at first, choosing instead to doze on the floor against his backpack, but he felt compelled to answer when Hinata asked, “Would you rather have incredibly strong fingers or an incredibly strong sense of smell?” 

“Fingers,” Kiyoomi had said. “It works out perfectly. I would be even better at you all than I already am, and I wouldn’t have to smell how disgusting you are after practice.”

Hinata, Bokuto, and Atsumu all turned to stare at him and then burst into laughter.

“You know, Omi, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard ya joke around,” Atsumu pointed out. Kiyoomi remembers very distinctly that his heart fluttered.

Memories. He’s recalling things that have actually happened to him. He’s finding pieces scattered on the floor, brought back into the room by Atsumu, by his teammates.

“It’s so cute,” Bokuto declared, gleeful, pulling Kiyoomi back to reality. “Two teammates falling in love.”

“Did you know we’re trending on every social media right now?” Meian interrupted, irritated. “We’re getting interview requests like never before. They’re making up couple names for you.”

“Ah, yeah?” Atsumu blurted. “What’s the name?”

“Is that important?” Meian bit. Kiyoomi thought it was, but he didn’t say so. 

“Explain yourselves,” Tomas demanded, but he was still smiling. Barnes would’ve been a better option for Meian’s back-up, but he’s far in the back, staying out it. “I want the whole story.”

Atsumu looked to Kiyoomi, as if asking him for his permission. He answered him by running his fingers down his arm and intertwining them. All eyes followed the movement and Kiyoomi clocked a mixture of joy, disbelief and maybe slight horror in their expressions. 

“Go ahead and tell them everything,” Kiyoomi said. “From the beginning.” 

“I’ll tell ya, but yer not gonna believe it,” Atsumu sighed. 

“Try us,” Bokuto challenged. “Why wouldn’t we believe you?”

“Come in, and you’ll see.”

They all piled into the small hotel room, draping themselves over beds and settling onto the floor, and Atsumu retold the story that Kiyoomi already knew so well. By the time he finished, Inunaki had collapsed with his hands over his eyes, Bokuto and Hinata were practically vibrating, Barnes and Tomas seemed like they couldn’t compute, and Meian appeared to be having a stroke.

“A year?” he asked faintly. “You two were dating for a  year  and didn’t think to tell anyone about it?” 

“Well, yeah, it would’ve been weird,” Atsumu answered. “And we were only kinda datin’, I told ya. It was a...situation, for sure.”

“I made Atsumu keep it a secret,” Kiyoomi explained. “I’m sure I had my reasons, but I can’t think of them now so they aren’t valid to me. I apologize for going behind all of your backs with this.”

“We’re datin’ for real now,” Atsumu added helpfully, squeezing Kiyoomi’s hand.

“I think I’m having an aneurysm,” Inunaki said, finally sitting up. “So you two...pretended to hate each other...for over a year...just so we wouldn’t catch onto the fact that you liked each other?”

“Mmm, yup.”

“Oh my God,” he whispered. “We used to put you in hotel rooms together and make bets on whether or not you’d kill each other, and the whole time you were – no, I can’t think about it.”

“I hope ya lost lots of money on yer bets, ya dick,” Atsumu snapped.

“You two were...really convincing,” Barnes said. “Although, I did always wonder how you managed to keep up such a level of teamwork when you were always at each other’s throats. Now I know.”

“I took a theatre class in college,” Kiyoomi offered. Atsumu snorted and laid his head on his shoulder. Everyone stared for a moment before Hinata burst into laughter, and Bokuto joined in.

“I think it’s sweet!” he boomed. “I love it. I’m so happy for you two. Omi, do you not remember any of it?”

“I remember some parts,” Kiyoomi responded. He knew this question would come and that his teammates would only be the first ones to ask it. There’s never enough preparation for it, though, especially now, when he’s begun to get glimmers of recognition from his old life. “But it doesn’t really matter. We’re together now.” 

“Yeah, Omi asked me to be his boyfriend,” Atsumu bragged, holding tight onto his hand. 

“Did nobody know?” Hinata demanded. “Man, I thought I had you all figured out, but I was way off the mark. I thought you were just stupid and crushing on each other and used the angry rivalry trope to hide it.”

“That sounds oddly specific, Sho, like ya’ve got experience with it?” Atsumu taunted, and Hinata turned redder than his hair. “But nah, nobody knew. Didn’t even tell Samu, and it sucked, so now we’re tellin’ everyone important. We won’t be gross about it, and it doesn’t change anythin’ – which we can prove since it didn’t change anythin’ before. So, please accept us, or whatever.”

“You could be more apologetic,” Meian grumbled. “This is going to be all anyone talks about for who knows how long. All of the interviews are going to center around you two.”

“Got it handled,” Atsumu replied. “I love to talk about myself. But we’re not gonna tell everyone about the past, alright? As far as they’re concerned, this is a new thing. We’re startin’ over, but we figured ya’ll should have the truth.”

“A year later,” Inunaki reiterated, still pale. Kiyoomi thought he might actually faint. He was not confident in anybody on the team’s medical abilities and he knew he would have to be the one to rescue him.

“We said sorry!” Atsumu cries. “We were young and dumb.”

“I have no recollection of it, so I can’t be held responsible.” Kiyoomi shrugged. It was going to be a lot less fun when he couldn’t use the amnesia excuse anymore. 

“Would you have told us if Sakusa hadn’t lost his memories?” Tomas wanted to know, and Atsumu froze, unsure. He looked to Kiyoomi, like he was asking for help, but Kiyoomi didn’t know the answer either.

He realized it was up to him to speak up, though, and so he did. “Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know what I was thinking, but whatever it was, I was stubborn about it. This definitely made things more...urgent.”

Atsumu gripped his hand tighter, and Kiyoomi took it for what it was – an acceptance of Kiyoomi’s apology. 

“I’m shocked,” Barnes admitted after a brief silence. “I really didn’t think Sakusa liked many people. I counted myself lucky to be in your good graces.” 

Kiyoomi shrugged. “I like everybody on the team. I just don’t show it the way you all do. I like Atsumu the most, though.”

Half of the team burst into groans while the other half squealed in happiness. It was such a simple reaction and Kiyoomi recognized that he’d heard it before. His heart beat a little faster and he wondered if his brain was finally mending.

After MSBY got out every possible question they could think of (and there were a lot – some that Kiyoomi wished he had never been subjected to), they moved down the line. Kiyoomi called Motoya next. He knew bits and pieces of the story, told through thick tears, and blessedly, he hadn’t questioned much then. Once he picked up on Kiyoomi’s calm, he proved even more relentless than MSBY. Kiyoomi told him everything, except for the brief memories that he had encountered over the past few days. It felt too dangerous to say out loud, like the universe may hear and take it all away from him again.

After Motoya, he called his parents, which was even more unpleasant than he’d expected. They made him repeat his admission several times. They interrogated him about Atsumu – his family, if he had a degree, his earning potential. They asked if it was a side effect of the amnesia, if he was just confused, and Kiyoomi nearly hung up.

Visions of his mother, stoic and calm, asking him over and over again if he was sure about choosing volleyball as a career, wondering aloud if it was beneath him. He remembers the argument before he moved to Osaka, and with startling clarity, his entire thought-process for picking MSBY comes to him.

Atsumu did have something to do with it after all, but Kiyoomi thought he already knew that. 

He reiterates that thought-process now, keeping up his conviction while Atsumu sits nearby and holds his hand. He tells his mother that this is his decision and in the end, she begrudgingly accepts it. 

Atsumu’s family was much more accepting about the whole thing. His mother’s accent matched his, and every word that came from her mouth was filled with warmth. She asked if she was on speakerphone once Atsumu finished the story, and when he said yes, she spoke directly to Kiyoomi.

“Yer just as much a part of our family now as the boys,” she promised him. “Make sure ya come visit soon. I’ll cook ya somethin’ good and we can get to know each other.”

Kiyoomi smiled and said that he would. 

Dealing with the media was the worst of it. Kiyoomi wouldn’t mind if all of his memories of interviews, variety shows, and the paparazzi stayed repressed, because they’re awful. As if Kiyoomi wasn’t enough of a spectacle to begin with, now the tabloids had even more of a reason to latch onto him. They were told they had to participate in some interviews because from a purely public relations standpoint, staying silent would be suspicious. Atsumu took the brunt of it, but in every interview, they descended upon Kiyoomi like vultures, asking him not only about his lack of memories but now about Atsumu.

Most were friendly. The news was overwhelmingly positive. Kiyoomi zeroed in on the negative because that’s who he is.

He inhaled headlines that called Atsumu a whole set of nasty names – manipulative, swarmy. He hate-read them, eyes glazing over at lines that declared Atsumu was taking advantage of Kiyoomi, that he couldn’t make his own decisions, like he had no agency.

Atsumu frowned at him whenever he caught him.

“Omi, I don’t care what they say about me,” he promised, but Kiyoomi knew it was a lie. He may not know Atsumu as well as Atsumu knows him, but he’s easy to read. In just a few weeks, Kiyoomi picked up all of his tells, from the way his eyes widen when he’s caught doing something he shouldn’t, to the way he tries to shake unpleasant thoughts out of his head, and the way his voice dips in volume when he’s bothered. Atsumu may act like he’s unaffected by everything, but Kiyoomi knew he took peoples’ opinion of him to heart. 

Two days after the news of their relationship breaks, Kiyoomi agreed to a solo interview. He didn’t tell Atsumu about it because he knew he would insist on being there, and this was something Kiyoomi had to do alone.

He sat down and immediately had a flash of another time – of a sweltering studio, bright lights shined in his face and his leg tapping nervously. Next to him, like always, was Atsumu, taking every question with ease. He remembers interviews with Atsumu – the way they were paired up constantly, the way they would ask leading questions meant to embarrass Kiyoomi, and Atsumu would swoop in and answer before he got the chance. He remembers having to fake smile at reporters who weren’t as charming as they thought they were, and how easily Atsumu pulled it off. 

Kiyoomi remembers.

All by himself, Kiyoomi spoke directly into the camera and told thousands upon thousands of viewers how much he adored Miya Atsumu, and that there needed to be no speculation on his capacity to decide that. Then he tells them that the relationship actually began a year prior and that Atsumu had been imperative in his healing process.

When it was over, Kiyoomi felt like collapsing, but Atsumu called him immediately, blubbering, incoherent through his tears.

“Ya didn’t have to do that, Kiyoomi,” he told him, nearly hysterical. “I thought ya didn’t wanna, I thought – ”

“I was tired of them saying awful things about you,” Kiyoomi replied, shortly, with no room for any misinterpretation. “Now they know.”

The interview blew things out of proportion again for a while, and more questions came, but eventually, like all things, they settled. 

The team continues to make fun of them every single practice, but it’s good-natured, and Kiyoomi is a lot more open to smiling these days. The group chat with Osamu and Suna became a permanent fixture in their lives and Kiyoomi quickly got used to how often it went off. He has decided that Suna Rintaro is going to be his best friend. They have the same taste in memes and skincare, so it’s a match made in heaven. Atsumu grumbled about his jealousy at this discovery, but Kiyoomi isn’t sure if he was jealous of Suna or jealous of him for taking Suna away from him. 

They met up for the first time when Atsumu brought Kiyoomi with him to Tokyo on one of their weekends off. They checked into their hotel and went straight to Onigiri Miya, finding Osamu behind the counter. 

As soon as he walks into the door, Kiyoomi recalls endless stories about Miya Osamu – rants from Atsumu after one of their petty arguments, admiration for his success, nonsensical tales from their childhood. It’s a rush, and enough to make Kiyoomi feel like he’s known Osamu for his entire life. 

When he’s done sizing Kiyoomi up, Osamu tells him to be careful with his brother and seems satisfied when Kiyoomi assures him that he’s in therapy, and working on setting Atsumu up with his own sessions. He claps him on the back then, and asks him what he wants to eat. Suna promises that Osamu won’t poison him, at least not without reason, and Kiyoomi is pretty sure he’s joking, so he laughs.

It’s an easy familiarity to fall into. 

Kiyoomi picks up missing pieces all over the house. He finds them in Atsumu’s sleepy smile, in the way he wakes before Kiyoomi and snuggles up to him, only to fall right back asleep, in the way he puts on his socks before anything else. He finds them in the paths they walk to and from practice, the music they listen to, their picks for movie nights. The puzzle begins to resemble an actual picture, and the fuzziness that has surrounded Kiyoomi’s brain for so long slowly begins to clear. 

More memories come – in flashes of Deja Vu and feelings of understanding. When he and Atsumu stop into one of their old favorite restaurants, Kiyoomi will remember with complete clarity his order and he’ll be able to read it off to the cashier without even looking at the menu. They’ll come in dreams that Kiyoomi was once sure were just fantasies. Sometimes they’re faint and they’re fragmented, but other times, they’re as clear as day.

He remembers more and more, but he doesn’t tell Atsumu – not yet. He’s still afraid. Though the memories come with more frequency, more brightness, he still fears a total reversal. His therapist tells him it’s ridiculous and implores him to accept this for the positive news it is, but Kiyoomi struggles.

The new and the old bleed together and Kiyoomi has a hard time differentiating them. 

But isn’t that what he wanted? This relationship – what he and Atsumu have – it’s exactly what he wants. It’s his Atsumu – his Atsu, who he knew from the moment he woke up that he loved. Now Kiyoomi knows that he’ll love every version of him. 

He startles awake one morning when it’s still dark outside. He had been dreaming – a long, drawn-out dream with no real linearity to it. This dream was different than the others – not just a spark in the distance, but an entire raging fire. The images don’t fade now that he’s awake, and he clings to them.

Rolling his eyes. A rapidly beating heart. Hiding a flushed face in the gym. Backing Atsumu up against a locker. Watching him across the table at their favorite ramen restaurant. Laughing on the kitchen floor. Whispering ‘I love you’ in the darkness of Kiyoomi’s bedroom. 

Stolen moments in early mornings and late nights. Festivals and fairs and colorful adventures.

Raised voices and hurt feelings. Broken admissions that Kiyoomi refused to speak aloud. Fear, uncertainty, regret.

Love. Kiyoomi remembers so much love. 

Tears gather in his eyes. They don’t fall yet.

“Atsu,” he whispers into the darkness. Atsumu is right there, always at his side, through anything. Kiyoomi didn’t know he could ever love a person as much as he loves Atsumu. 

Atsumu shuffles closer to Kiyoomi to bury his face in his neck. “Yeah, baby?” he mutters.

Kiyoomi is ‘Omi’ less these days. He’s ‘baby’ or ‘love’ in the quiet moments when they’re alone. He’s ‘darlin’’ when Atsumu has had too much to drink, ‘Kiyo’ when they’re laughing, ‘sweetheart’ and ‘Kiyoomi’ when they’re tangled together underneath the sheets. 

“I love you,” Kiyoomi says. It’s the first time he’s said it in the present tense – not just in this new relationship, but ever, to Atsumu. He tries to convey it in all of his actions – through every kiss, every giggle, every night spent curled up together on the couch, or sitting across from each other at a restaurant. Kiyoomi’s heart has never done anything but scream with love for Miya Atsumu, and now he no longer has to hold back in speaking it aloud. 

Atsumu shifts suddenly, sitting up. “Yeah?” he asks, voice a pitch higher than usual. His eyes search blindly for Kiyoomi. Kiyoomi smiles to himself.

“Yeah.” 

Warm hands cup Kiyoomi’s face. Atsumu radiates warmth, like his own personal sunshine. They find each other in the dim lighting.

“I love ya more than I’ve ever loved anythin’ in my life,” Atsumu says, and he kisses him. Kiyoomi gives back, opening his mouth and twisting himself around Atsumu like he needs him for survival. They fall together like this often. Atsumu only has months to make up, but Kiyoomi has years. He explores Atsumu’s body, carefully, meticulous, every time. He takes his time, no matter how much Atsumu whines and begs. Kiyoomi could never get tired of it, could never get tired of anything Atsumu. 

“What brought this on, sweetheart?” he murmurs against Kiyoomi’s lips. 

“Nothing,” Kiyoomi lies. Not yet. He won’t tell him just yet. “I just do. I love you so much.” 

Atsumu lets out a broken sob and kisses Kiyoomi’s pulse point.

He sheds his sleep clothing and presses himself to Atsumu’s bare chest, absorbing all of his heat. His hands rub down his back, land on his hips and he shifts so that they drag against each other. 

For once, Kiyoomi doesn’t want to go slow. He licks into Atsumu’s mouth once more, and lets him take control. They become a mess of sweaty, writhing bodies, but through the whole time, Atsumu is whispering sweet things in his ear. It takes Kiyoomi apart. It squeezes at his heart. He closes his eyes as Atsumu carries him over the edge, trailing kisses down his neck, and he’s assaulted with images. More memories. A year in his life with Miya Atsumu. 

The tears fall now. Atsumu startles when he brings his hand up to Kiyoomi’s face and wipes them away.

“Baby, why are ya cryin’? Did I hurt ya? I didn’t hurt ya, did I?” 

Kiyoomi gasps, touches his own face, and tries unsuccessfully to hold the tears back. He turns to Atsumu and presses their foreheads together, breathing deeply. “I remember, Atsu. I remember it all.”