It’s not the first time he’s seen him, but it’s the first time in a while since he’s felt like this.
Fukurodani’s setter, he remembers, looking at the man from across the table. Osamu doesn’t remember much about him, within his memories of sweat-stained jerseys and deafening volleyball courts, and awkward teenaged hunger; but he remembers the way he’d played. Remembers skilled hands, and fingers made of grace. Apparently the then-setter wears glasses now. The new hairdo is cute, too.
“Miya-san,” he greets, smiling politely. The thump of Osamu’s heart is masked by the smack of a volleyball hitting the court. The curve of his mouth is cute, too, but Osamu doesn’t think that’s changed from way back when.
“Ah, you’re...” Osamu trails off. The then-setter fills in the blanks, smiling still.
“Akaashi Keiji,” he says, and Osamu takes a second to breathe. The air smells like sweat and Salonpas, and onigiri fillings, and something sweet like a hint of perfume. Osamu tucks the name into his memory, above the cold of January, and blue eyes across a volleyball net. It nestles there. It seems to find a home, there.
“Akaashi-kun,” Osamu says, the name sweet in his mouth. Keiji.
Keiji asks after a possibility, an Onigiri Miya branch in Tokyo, where coincidentally, Osamu’s new wings have begun to veer towards as well. Osamu smiles, just as polite, and answers with something that tastes like a promise against his tongue. They make small talk. Osamu makes fun of Atsumu; Keiji says something funny that makes Osamu laugh; and all too soon, Keiji leaves to return to his seat in the bleachers, onigiri already in hand and a smile tucked behind the other.
Soon, Osamu thinks, a promise against his tongue. Keiji’s mop of hair and slender shoulders get lost in the crowd. Osamu rings up the next customer, but his mind is in Tokyo, in a volleyball court with high school boys instead of grown-up athletes, in the name of a then-setter that was lost to him then, but whose hands he’ll always remember.
Soon comes faster than Osamu can even dream, and in a few months and some change he’s swept up in the whirlwind of opening Onigiri Miya’s new Tokyo branch, lacking time, sleep, and most of his sanity. He’s been in Tokyo for a few weeks now, overseeing everything and making sure the kitchen runs smoothly, the service runs smoothly, the small TV in one corner that plays all of Atsumu’s matches per his request (and many bribes) runs smoothly. Then, almost like a remedy, one week later: Keiji’s mop of hair and slender shoulders cut through the warmth of the store, and that gentle smile. And Osamu’s name in his gentle mouth.
“Miya-san,” Keiji greets, and Osamu feels all the lacking melt away. Osamu smiles, and it veers off slightly from polite and into something warm, and aching.
“Akaashi-kun,” he greets back, beaming. Keiji takes a seat and Osamu offers him a menu, and doesn’t move away. His fellow workers are all side-eyeing him, boss, don’t you have onigiri to make? but Osamu’s busy looking at Keiji. It’s not rush hour, anyway. Osamu can afford a small break in the sun.
“What’ll you have?” Osamu asks, and Keiji’s eyes shift from the menu to him. He doesn’t want those eyes to look at anything else, at all.
“What do you recommend?” Keiji asks, amicable, pleasant, and Osamu shouldn’t be filling with warmth, but he is. Keiji is stunning in his blue dress shirt, his black-framed glasses, his shiny dress shoes. Keiji is stunning in Osamu’s shop, at the table by the window, in the afternoon sunlight that streams in through newly-polished glass. Osamu doesn’t know what to make of it. He can hear Atsumu laughing at him from wherever he is in Osaka, right now, but Osamu can’t begin to care about his stupid twin brother; all he can think of is Keiji in his shop, Keiji in that shirt, Keiji with his owlish eyes, blinking up at him. Waiting for a response.
Osamu clears his throat. Smiles something warm, and aching. “How ‘bout I make you something special?” he offers, looking at Keiji over the lip of his cap. Keiji looks back stunned, stunning, his features tugged gently into surprise.
“You don’t have to—” he begins, but Osamu’s already taking away his menu, turning away.
“Akaashi-kun,” he interrupts, and the name still tastes sweet, no matter how long it’s been since the last time he’s said it, “if it’s for you, I want to.”
He turns away with a small smile, and a blush that he tries to hide. He doesn’t notice Keiji hiding, as well.
Osamu doesn’t have the graceful, skilled hands of a then-setter in high school. Not even the skilled, ugly hands of his ugly now-setter brother in the V-League. But his hands are filled with care. This, for Keiji, is filled with care, too. This, for Keiji, is full of him, too.
“You didn’t have to,” Keiji says again, tucking his hair behind his ear. Like the rest of him, the movement catches Osamu’s gaze, and it lingers, at the edge of one cheekbone, to the slope of Keiji’s nose, to the gentle curve of his mouth. Keiji is stunning, even in the dim streetlights and barely-lit store signs. Despite how many times they’ve done this— despite how many times Osamu’s looked at him— it still catches Osamu off guard. He clears his throat, looks away.
They find themselves like this more often, lately. Osamu has made himself a semi-permanent resident of Tokyo, with the excuse of running the new branch, and Keiji frequents the shop more and more, as the months pass. Evenings mean cooking something special for Keiji, and nights mean walks to the train station, where he sends Keiji off with something warm in his chest, and aching. Osamu thinks he wouldn’t mind doing this for the rest of his life, if Keiji would let him.
“I keep telling you, Akaashi-kun,” Osamu says, and he does, again and again, “I just want to.”
Keiji looks away, too, his eyes downcast to the pavement beneath their feet. This time, Osamu catches Keiji’s hiding, and his blushing, and he thinks maybe he shouldn’t have. It’s not good for him. His heart’s roaring in his chest, now, and if he’s being really honest— he’s not that much less stupid than Atsumu. He’s not sure what his stupid heart will do, when it comes down to it.
They walk on in silence. The nights have gotten colder with seasons change, but Osamu is warm with an ache pooling in his chest, and he thinks he should be grateful, to have had the days that he’s had in Keiji’s presence. He thinks he probably shouldn’t be greedy, shouldn’t be looking for a detour, or try to “accidentally” get lost, or make Keiji miss his train, every time they do this— but then Osamu turns to look at him. Osamu turns to look at Keiji, and he doesn’t think he could ever stop wanting him, at all. No matter how many days have passed. No matter how many times he looks.
So he’s almost as stupid as his brother, and they’ve come down to it. Osamu reaches out a careful hand, and slips his fingers quietly around the palm of Keiji’s graceful one. Keiji startles, features tugged in surprise, and Osamu’s cheeks are burning. Osamu’s heart is burning. He hopes to hell his fingers aren’t as shaky as he feels.
“Is this okay, Akaashi-kun?” he asks, low, quiet, like he’s scared he could burst the night with his voice alone. With his want alone. With the ache in his chest that won’t leave him alone.
Keiji’s face is red, and he refuses to look Osamu’s way. But his fingers curl slightly around Osamu’s fingers, and he’s still walking forward with Osamu by his side. “Yes, Miya-san,” he says gently, his nose tucked behind the folds of his red scarf. He still isn’t looking at him. “This is okay.”
“Keiji,” he tries, aloud.
Osamu never runs out of ways to surprise him, it seems. Keiji looks up at him, stunned, stunning, his eyes glinting in the shitty light of Osamu’s shitty apartment, and Osamu thinks, he probably won’t remember this, 4 years down the line. He thinks, he probably won’t remember a lot of things, because he’s human; he doesn’t remember what they first talked about, all those months ago in Sendai, and he probably won’t remember what they talked about this morning, once a few weeks have passed. But he thinks he’ll remember some things. He thinks he’ll remember Keiji’s look, and Keiji’s blush, and Keiji’s gentle, gentle smile. He thinks he’ll remember how he feels.
Osamu wants to burst into flames. Osamu thinks he could run 10,000 laps and then some.
“Drop the -san,” he says, keeping it cool. His heart is roaring in his chest.
Keiji’s face goes very, very red. He doesn’t make eye contact, this time, but Osamu knows there’s no rush, between them. “...Osamu,” Keiji murmurs, quiet like he’s scared. Quiet like it’s too much, the feeling in his chest, and the shape of Osamu’s name in his gentle, gentle mouth.
Osamu’s quiet, too. Osamu’s scared, too.
This time, he knows his hands are as shaky as he feels. He reaches out to cup Keiji’s jaw with one hand, the other sliding around his waist, and Keiji’s shaking, too. Osamu’s cheeks are burning, and his heart is burning, and he thinks Keiji’s burning, too.
He slots his mouth against Keiji’s. It’s the best fucking thing he’s ever tasted.
Every night before bed, Osamu takes Keiji’s graceful then-setter hand in his, firm and sure, and presses his lips against the knuckles. Sometimes Keiji will laugh, other times Keiji will smile, but mostly Keiji will blush; Osamu probably won’t remember every night they have like this, but he thinks he’ll always remember how he feels.
Except for this night.
“Osamu,” Keiji says, gentle, quiet, like his voice could burst the night. “I love you.”
Osamu’s smile is warm, and aching. His chest is warm, and aching. He doesn’t think he could forget this night, even if he tried.