This is not the beginning of the story. Kiyoomi is painfully aware of the fact that this is not where things begin. This is the aftermath of a million other events, all leading up to one big flaming shit show of a climax where there is no way he will come out on top.
The beginning is hard to pinpoint, much as he would like to. The beginning could have been when a young Kiyoomi at the tender age of thirteen had decided matter-of-factly that he liked looking at other boys a lot more than he liked looking at girls. He didn't like looking at girls all that much, or at all, really.
The beginning could have been when a slightly older Kiyoomi, at the ripe age of sixteen, saw Miya Atsumu and had thought that he was attractive. Objectively, factually and based on observation. Because shortly after, Kiyoomi had decided that Atsumu was annoying, full of himself, and generally a pest. No matter how much he grated at Kiyoomi's nerves, he was still a sight to behold. Rippling thighs and calculated tosses topped off with a face of a million expressions, all gorgeous in their own awful way.
The beginning could have been watching a young Hinata Shouyou play on that glorious court. Watching him fly with unseen wings and give his all to win no matter the opponents. It could have been when Kiyoomi saw Hinata flash a glorious smile, all tooth and gums like some wild animal, predator catching prey and showing its pride through glimmering fangs. Kiyoomi had thought how bright that smile had seemed compared to the hundreds of burning fluorescents ringing the arena.
All of that hadn't seemed important, two meaningless high school crushes, if he could even call them that. But they'd come back to bite him in the ass after finding himself on the same damn team as not one but both of them.
Which, logically, should have been fine considering he did not have feelings for them. He would repeat it to himself before and after every practice. A mantra. If he could repeat it enough times it would be true. He had built a foundation on that one line, an impenetrable one like steel. One that could not be broken, as was the meaning of the word impenetrable.
If said mantra was steel, Atsumu and Hinata were grinders.
(Atsumu would cackle and snort at the idea of this, mind going lewd places as he cracked some ridiculous joke that would surely get a little chuckle out of Hinata.)
Grinders that do not cut metal, but instead grind it, as is the name. Each call of Omi from either of them would slowly wear him down, bring his foundation dangerously close to crumbling while he would repeat to himself that he did not have feelings for either of them.
Because he did not.
And that is why, when Kiyoomi finds Atsumu's head draped over a towel and stuffed between his thighs, he can manage to stay fully and completely calm. He does manage it.
With only a twinge of difficulty, Kiyoomi manages to set his head straight enough to determine that the real beginning to this horror story is the idiotic bet made by the one and only Miya Atsumu.
(Kiyoomi refuses to even acknowledge what said bet was, because he's sure it was absolutely stupid and definitely not because he's upset to have lost. He's not that petty.)
The bet that ended in Atsumu being proclaimed victorious, and Kiyoomi—as the loser—being subjected to the task of re-dyeing Atsumu's hair.
Kiyoomi had arrived to Atsumu's apartment to find the man smirking dangerously, teasing and evil and managing to get under Kiyoomi's skin in that way that is so completely unique to Miya Atsumu.
Who left a container of bleach already mixed on the counter, who procured a pair of latex gloves and a towel, who insisted Kiyoomi sit atop the toilet with said towel draped over his pants to prevent staining as well as unwanted physical contact. Who had sat himself between Kiyoomi's thighs without a second's hesitation and said, "Get at it." As if he were some all-powerful tyrant.
With the story established after having played through his mind, Kiyoomi finds himself painfully aware of exactly what he is about to do. So, like any rational man, he decides to shove any semblance of emotion he feels under the guise of annoyance and disinterest.
"Why couldn't you go to a professional?" Kiyoomi asks, frowning as he reaches for the gloves set out for him. Frowning at the press of contact on his legs. Frowning at the proximity.
"Funny story," Atsumu starts with his face towards the wall of the small if not slightly grimy bathroom, "I usually do. But I found some old bleach in a drawer somewhere, n' decided it would be better if ya did it for me." He lets loose a little snort that makes Kiyoomi feel like doing a lot of things.
Kicking him, maybe. Kissing him, maybe. A playful mixture of the two, perhaps.
"I hope you know I have no experience with this," Kiyoomi warns as he takes the bowl of bleach in his hands.
(That statement is a lie. Kiyoomi winces as he recalls the time he, at fifteen, had decided to attempt to box bleach his hair. He had not bought enough bleach, and only had enough for one generous coating which turned his hair a garish orange-brown. He remembers calling Motoya in a panic, as if he would know how to fix it. Kiyoomi had run to the store, purchased black dye, and pretended nothing had ever happened. Though Motoya would absolutely never let him live it down.)
Kiyoomi grabs at the little applicator brush, turning it around and around in his hand and contemplating where to start, since this is definitely happening and not just some hellish nightmare.
Atsumu just snorts again. Kiyoomi is beginning to think the man is secretly a pig, it would explain a lot. "It's not that hard, Omi."
"Well, if you can do it, I'd assume not," Kiyoomi says under his breath. He sets the brush back in the bowl to touch at Atsumu's hair. To get a feel for what he's working with, of course. Not because he's always wondered what it feels like falling through the gaps in his fingers.
"This is fried." Kiyoomi has next-to-no experience with hair dye, but he can still pinpoint when hair is beyond damaged. This definitely fits the bill.
"I don't have all damn day. If ya just came to insult me ya shouldn't've come at all," Atsumu wines, he rolls his shoulders and makes himself comfortable by pressing his elbows into Kiyoomi's knees, actively spreading them a little wider.
"Trust me, this is not where I want to be spending my evening," Kiyoomi grumbles." And watch your elbows." He nearly snaps.
"Jeez. Aren't ya supposed to be flexible or somethin'?" Atsumu asks, raising his arms in surrender and letting them tumble back against the tile flooring. Kiyoomi can nearly hear the smirk that splits Atsumu’s lips at the reaction he got.
Kiyoomi huffs. "I don't want your bony elbows digging into me. Is that a ridiculous request?"
"A little," Atsumu says. He lets out a ghost of a chuckle before lapsing into silence.
Kiyoomi returns to surveying Atsumu's hair. There is a maximum of two centimetres of deep brown peeking out from the mass of blond. It should probably be easy, but Kiyoomi has no idea what he's doing. Though, if he ruins Atsumu's hair it doesn't effect him at all. So, really he should just go for it, Kiyoomi decides as he dips the brush into the lavender concoction.
He dabs the brush around a little, gauging where the best place to start would be. He tugs Atsumu's hair back, actively tilting his head slightly skywards to gain access to his forehead. Kiyoomi dots the mixture across the exposed hair, careful not to get an unnecessary amount on Atsumu's skin. He isn't sure the repercussions of hair bleach on flesh but he doesn't really want to find out.
Atsumu tips his head back to meet Kiyoomi's eyes. It's scarily intimate, the press of his skull on the inside of Kiyoomi's thighs and the sly smile that spreads like syrup across his face.
"Sure ya never done this before, Omi? Yer really workin' that brush."
Kiyoomi bites the inside of his cheek. In annoyance, he tells himself. Anxiously, some devil part of his brain that sounds suspiciously like Atsumu cackles.
"Head up, Miya." He peels Atsumu's head away from his thighs, tugging a little too forcefully on his hair.
Atsumu just chuckles and readjusts, facing back towards the creme-coloured walls of the quaint room.
Silence settles thick and heavy across the room. It's a bit foggy and difficult to think through, but Kiyoomi almost prefers it that way. He doesn't have to think about what he's doing as he runs the brush across every little brown bit peeking out at him. As he digs through tufts of blond like he's searching for treasure.
The only sound to be heard is the slight buzz of the off-white bulbs lighting the room, Atsumu's calm and unfazed breathing below him, his own steady and calculated inhales, and his pounding heart throbbing behind his eyes. He can feel it in his fingertips. When they grate against the flesh of Atsumu's skull Kiyoomi wonders if he can feel it through that thick mess of fried blond and the thin layer of latex gloves.
Kiyoomi can appreciate the silence. It's calming, bringing a serenity he can almost enjoy and cooling the panic brought on by the close quarters and intimacy of the situation.
Mere seconds later the doorway clouds over, a light rustling of fabric and a tapping of feet as a sunny voice calls out, "You two almost done?" Flashing a smile so blindingly white and electric, leaning an arm against the doorframe and surveying the sight before him is Hinata Shouyou.
This is where the problem lies.
It really wouldn't be all that much of an issue if Kiyoomi felt a certain way towards Atsumu and Hinata separately. He could go about his life ignoring those feelings and allowing them to fester in private. He could continue to say he isn't interested in pursuing a romantic relationship at the peak of his career and live life like everything is normal.
But no, the fatal flaw in this steely, airtight plan is something that Kiyoomi would never have accounted for. The fact that Hinata and Atsumu felt that same type of way towards each other. And they were willing to do something about it.
And now Kiyoomi is currently sitting in not only Atsumu's but Hinata's apartment as he tries—and fails—to shove down every emotion he has ever felt towards either of them.
"We almost done, Omi-Omi?" Atsumu asks, tipping his head back again.
"Head up," Sakusa repeats, albeit more aggressively than he needs to. He turns to face Hinata. With his broad shoulders stretched expectantly across the wooden frame, and his smile that's dimmed significantly but is still alarmingly bright, he's the breath of fresh air Kiyoomi needs after dealing with Atsumu all this time.
The two are the perfect balance. For each other, for Kiyoomi. Together they are everything he could ever want.
And that's the problem. That they're together.
Kiyoomi doesn't want to change that. He tells himself over and over that he doesn't want to separate them. And it's true. There is the lie of not having feelings for either of them and there is the absolute truth of not wanting to come between them. Kiyoomi must find some way to balance them.
To balance falsities and fact in the same way that Hinata and Atsumu balance him.
"It should only be a few more minutes, Hinata. Am I keeping him from dinner?" Kiyoomi asks, voice sounding alien as he pries himself from his spiralling thoughts.
"You're keeping the both of you. Aren't you staying, Omi?" Hinata cocks his head, brown eyes impossibly wide as he surveys the scene with a warm intensity.
"I don't want to impose," Kiyoomi nearly mumbles. He clears his throat.
"Too late," Hinata chuckles, "I already made you a plate." He glances back at the kitchen. "Well, I will have. It's almost ready."
"Right." Kiyoomi nods. "Thank you very much." He averts his gaze under the pretence of continuing with Atsumu's hair. Really he can't stand the way kind and sparkling amber regard him so knowingly. It's as though Hinata can see all of his secrets, as though he knows a little too much for his own good.
As though he can see through Kiyoomi like he's made of glass.
Atsumu may be dense and Hinata may be as well, but he has his moments of intellect where it seems he alone connects the puzzle pieces to the universe and sees all with incomprehensible clarity.
Kiyoomi finishes Atsumu's hair haphazardly, nearly spilling bleach on close-cropped sideburns in his haste to finish up. His hands shake ever so slightly, and a few times his thigh twitches a little. He can excuse it as his body revolting from so much close contact, something he surely isn't used to. He can excuse it as panic at being seen by Hinata in a way that is more intimate than having Atsumu between his damn thighs. He can excuse it as a million things all colliding at once into the climax a million other events have caused.
Kiyoomi figures if there was an official guide to not fucking everything up, he would have failed each and every step.
"Done," He says finally. "Now get off of me."
"Woulda thought you'd like havin' be between yer legs like that," Atsumu teases as he stands. He wrenches his neck from side to side before stepping in front of the vanity to survey the damage.
Kiyoomi ignores the comment and instead pries the gloves off of his hands and the towel off of his thighs. He revels in the slight pride of not having stained the coarse cloth—or his pants—in the slightest.
"Not bad," Atsumu says.
Kiyoomi thinks there is an equal chance that Atsumu's talking about his general appearance as opposed to the dye job.
"Knew I could trust ya." Atsumu reaches a hand over to pat Kiyoomi on the shoulder, eyes not daring to peel away from his own reflection.
"You're welcome," Kiyoomi mutters. He places the now-folded towel on the counter and exits the bathroom. He takes a moment to appreciate the apartment's air, the scent of food wafting around him and giving a much-needed break from the chemical stench of bleach.
Hinata sets the table. He's prepared quite a large meal. Kiyoomi would assume Hinata and Atsumu incapable of eating all of that by themselves if he hadn't seen them devour enough to feed a small family.
Atsumu comes out of the bathroom, shower cap atop his head, grinning like he is the peak of fashion.
Hinata snorts. Kiyoomi gives an evil grin.
"You don't like it?" Atsumu pouts.
"You look great," Hinata says through bouts of controlled snickering. He goes back to setting the table.
Kiyoomi isn't really sure what happens after the food is done being prepared. Surely he washes his hands before. Then he is ushered to the table and they begin the meal. Surely Kiyoomi thanks Hinata in-depth for the hospitality. Surely Atsumu complains that it's his apartment as much as Shouyou's and surely Kiyoomi writhes in his seat at the way Atsumu says that name.
Surely he thinks this must happen.
But he finds it difficult to process what's going on around him. He seems to be swimming through some other world. Because he is not supposed to be here. He shouldn't be at a table sitting between the two men he feels very strongly for as if it's the most natural thing in the world. This is what he wants. Not more than anything—because he is not naive enough to hold romance above all else—but pretty damn bad.
And that is why Kiyoomi knows he can't have this.
Having this would tear everything else apart. Tear Hinata and Atsumu, twin suns pulled to each other like magnets, apart. Tear his career apart. His professional relationship with both of them.
"What's wrong, Omi? You look like you're about to throw up." Hinata leans over, eyes searching Kiyoomi in their all-seeing way.
"No, no. I'm fine," Kiyoomi says. If he says it, it must be true. He is fine. This is fine.
"Is the food bad?" Hinata asks, utensils clattering as he drops them suddenly.
"No, thank you. It's wonderful. You're a great cook." Kiyoomi sounds like a robot, even to himself.
"Kinda had to be good at it. Osamu stole all the culinary ability, Atsumu can't cook for shit." Hinata laughs a bit. That little laugh that jingles like wind chimes in the afternoon breeze. He seems less worried now, and picks his discarded utensils back up to continue eating.
"I can too!" Atsumu cries out around a mouthful of food.
Somehow this is worse. The domesticity makes Kiyoomi sick in a way he feels everywhere. Every bone and every vein in his body pulsate with something akin to rotting. He feels it hot and sticky in his teeth and he needs to leave.
He needs to leave.
"I should get going now. I wouldn't want to overstay my welcome." His voice is far off.
Hinata lets out a noise of dissatisfaction.
Atsumu pouts. "What if I need a second round of bleachin'? Ya gotta do it for me, Mr Loser."
"Mr Loser?" Kiyoomi questions in spite of himself.
"Well, yeah. Ya lost so yer the loser," Atsumu says as if it's the most obvious thing ever.
"Yes, that's what loser means," Kiyoomi replies, matching Atsumu's tone.
"Great! So we agree," Hinata chimes in. "Did you set a timer for that?" He points to the cap on Atsumu's head.
"Shit. Yeah. Omi, what time did we finish at?" Atsumu asks.
Kiyoomi checks his watch, gauging the time as his internal crisis is put on hold for a moment. "About a half-hour ago."
"Be back. Thanks for the meal, Shou!" He calls, jumping from his seat in an overexcited manner.
Hinata sighs, eyes following Atsumu all the way to the bathroom as he leans forward to plant his face in his palm.
Kiyoomi chances a look in Hinata's direction only to find electrifying hazel already trained on him.
"We should do this more. It's nice having you here." Hinata seems honest. No malice clouding his sickly innocent tone.
But Kiyoomi doesn't want that. Far from it. He wants to leave and never come back. Wants to go back to a professional relationship with nothing tying him down in the slightest.
Kiyoomi finds that the words stick in his throat. He clears it. Once. Twice. He still can't manage to croak out an answer. A no, as he would like to.
Saving grace comes in the form of Atsumu screaming from the bathroom.
"What?" Kiyoomi demands.
"I need the toner!"
Kiyoomi's upper lip curls as he stands to stride towards Atsumu's voice. The closer he gets the more he registers the dim patter of the running shower, steam billowing from beneath the door. The dumbass forgot to turn on the fan.
"What?" Kiyoomi asks again, standing just shy of the sliver of light where the door isn't shut against the frame.
"The toner!" Atsumu calls out, annoyed.
"You can say it all you want, I don't know what that is," Kiyoomi grumbles.
"Under the sink, in a purple bottle!" Hinata supplies, still watching ever so closely from his vantage at the table.
"Thank you." Kiyoomi, quickly, before pushing the door gently open and stepping into the sauna of a room. He takes care to flick the fan on before rummaging through the cabinet under the sink. It's disorganized and every product is coated in a thin layer of dust, he can't say he expected much better.
"Right there," Atsumu says, pointing a finger out from behind the shower curtain.
Kiyoomi plucks the bottle from between expired acne medication from God knows how long ago and what seems to be a box of hair ties. For whose hair, Kiyoomi isn't sure.
He throws it haphazardly to Atsumu, more than sure the man can catch it—which he does—before receding from the room. The steam wraps around him and gets the floor swaying and bending beneath his feet.
Kiyoomi stumbles less than gracefully back towards the kitchen, only to find Hinata has moved to the spacious living room. He flips through channels on the wall-mounted television. Little blips of a dozen different programs flash and echo around the room.
"You can join me," Hinata says. The two make eye contact through the reflection of the television. Kiyoomi takes a glance at himself. He looks scared—terrified—and a little sickly.
With a bat of an eye is he on the opposite side of the couch from Hinata. His thigh presses into the armrest in his need to give Hinata all the space possible.
He isn't sure how much time passes, how many channels Hinata flicks through while he hums to some unheard melody, before Atsumu returns. Clad only in sweats, he plops himself onto the couch, right between Hinata and Kiyoomi, and motions to his hair like it's a separate entity.
"Omi, take a look at yer handiwork."
"It actually looks nice," Hinata says.
Kiyoomi mumbles something that even he can't hear. "I should get going." His voice is nearly a whisper, falling away from him every moment spent longing for something that isn't his to have.
It takes exactly three calls of his name from Atsumu for Kiyoomi to blink away his confusion and force his eyes to meet with those staring at him, tinged with just a hint of concern.
"Kiyoomi," Atsumu says as though he hasn't already captured his attention. There's wonder in his voice and somehow it seems much more intimate than a nickname. "Can I kiss you?"
Kiyoomi can't think. He just wants to leave. He doesn't know what Atsumu's trying to do but he knows it isn't right. He just wants to leave.
Hinata pitches forwards, peering around Atsumu to attempt contact with Kiyoomi. He doesn't even get a word in before his hand on Atsumu's shoulder tells Kiyoomi everything he needs to know.
They want this.
They want what he wants. And they won't let him leave without it.
Kiyoomi takes back what he thought. The two aren't twin suns. They are twin devils sent with the sole purpose of torturing Kiyoomi. For years they have been the object of his admiration. Tempting him and teasing him, only to hand him what he wants on a silver platter emblazoned with Omi in large lettering. In his mind's eye the picture is ridiculous.
"Can I kiss you?" Atsumu repeats.
Kiyoomi feels his bottom lip quiver. He tips his chin in the slightest hint of a nod.
Another tip as confirmation before lips are on his in a display Kiyoomi isn’t especially used to.
Atsumu is careful not to push boundaries, and it's so unlike him in every possible way that Kiyoomi keeps his eyes open for a moment just to be sure that Miya Atsumu, professional annoyance, is really the one kissing him.
And he is.
Kiyoomi grips at damp hair, presses his eyelids shut so tight it hurts, kisses with every fibre of his being to show that he means it. And he knows Atsumu does too. He knows from the stupid way he smiles and the way he keeps his hands to himself and the way he chuckles through his nose like he's been waiting for this moment just as long as Kiyoomi has.
And he knows Hinata means it too. From the way he reaches around Atsumu's stomach to grab at Kiyoomi's free hand. The way Kiyoomi can feel those knowing amber eyes burning holes in his head in the best possible way.
Maybe the two are twin suns. Maybe Kiyoomi doesn't mind that.
"My turn?" Hinata whispers. His voice quivers as if he's scared Kiyoomi will say no.
Instead, Kiyoomi pulls himself away from Atsumu. He tips his head over broad shoulders to find rosy red lips already waiting for him. The two lock over Atsumu's shoulder as if he's meant to be there. As if the three of them are all some puzzle in need of all of its pieces to show the full image.
"You really should join us more often," Atsumu whispers before Kiyoomi and Hinata have even finished laying claim to each other's lips.
"You should join us always." Hinata breaks away to say, hushed and gentle. Maybe he really does think Kiyoomi is made of glass.
Kiyoomi chokes. On words, on air. On everything. On the little yes that bubbles in his throat. A singular tear slides wet and lukewarm down his cheek—he doesn't know why he's crying. Hinata wipes it away without a second thought.
"I'll take that as a yes," He says. The breath of his laughter ghosts Kiyoomi's lips, leaving warmth in its wake.
"Yes," Kiyoomi says. "Yes." Again, because he can't get enough of it. The way it tastes on his tongue. Victory and success all rolled into one overwhelming word that floats so easily around him.
Hinata laughs. Atsumu snorts.
This isn't the ending. This isn't the shit show of a climax Kiyoomi had dreaded for so long. This is him coming out on top. This is the aftermath of a million events all leading to the moment in which he finds himself pressing his head into the crook of Atsumu's neck and the touch is more reassuring than revolting. In which Kiyoomi chokes back years of confessions because Hinata and Atsumu understand everything and he doesn't have the power to speak. In which Hinata brushes a calloused thumb over Kiyoomi's even more calloused palm.
This is where Kiyoomi finds solace and understanding in the balance brought by those he thought to be punishment.
"I'm not a loser," He whispers through a shaky sort of laugh.
Hinata squeezes Kiyoomi's hand.
Atsumu snorts. Again. "I know."