Rintarou stands outside the entrance of the building. Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium is lined across the glass and he can’t seem to take his eyes off the words. Rin breathes in deeply, trying to calm his nerves because he’s actually here. He made it this far.
No going back now, Rin thinks to himself, before entering the building.
"Sunarin!" Atsumu calls out as soon as Rintarou walks into the gym. Rin is incredibly tempted to turn around and walk back out right then. And he almost does, until Atsumu swings his arm over Rin's shoulder and pulls him close.
"Atsumu," Rintaoru murmurs as he gets pulled down into Atsumu’s side. Atsumu looks at Rin, observing him, and Rin so desperately wants him to stop; he can’t stay composed under Atsumu’s gaze. Atsumu removes his arm from Rin’s shoulder and nudges him gently.
“Come on, smile a bit, Rin. National team! We really made it here,” Atsumu grins brightly and Rin wants to look away; Atsumu’s smile is too bright. But Rin smiles back.
“We did,” And Rin lets Atsumu pull him away.
Rintarou had always been swept into Atsumu’s current. Atsumu pulled him in, wrapped his hands around Rin’s heart, and took away what little control Rin had of his feelings. But Rin was young, he didn’t know what these feelings were or what to do with them. So, he did what he usually does when things were a bother to him— he ignored them.
Every smile that Atsumu had blessed him with, he looked the other way. Every pat on the back, Rin pushed away. Every compliment, he would rebut with an insult. Because Rin was a coward. How strongly he felt for Atsumu— it was unlike anything he had felt, and truth be told, Rintarou was terrified.
He was scared of the control Atsumu had over his heart, scared that Atsumu would see through his facade, absolutely fearful of what would happen if Atsumu ever knew how Rin felt.
So, Rin continued hiding.
A poor choice to make.
“Suna,” Atsumu’s voice echoes through the empty locker room.
Rin doesn’t answer. He continues pressing his forehead against the cool lockers, skin still warm from their match against Karasuno. The match they lost.
He should have blocked more spikes. He should have been faster. He should have—
"Rin,” Atsumu says this time, louder and sterner. He is closer, standing right next to Rin.
“What?” Rin snaps.
“Stop thinking so much,” Atsumu pokes at Rin’s forehead with a teasing smile.
Rin scowls, swatting away Atsumu’s hand. “How can you be so— so— God, are you not mad?” Rin pushes himself off the lockers, glaring at Atsumu. He doesn’t understand why Atsumu isn’t angry, why he isn’t crying.
“I’ll be upset later,” Atsumu shrugs. “Right now, ya need to shower. Ya stink,” He wrinkles his nose. Rin doesn’t move, instead stares at Atsumu, who is looking at him concerningly.
“Atsumu,” Rin’s voice cracks. “I’m sorry,”
Atsumu tenses up for a second before smirking. “Are ya sure yer Sunarin? ‘Cause I don’t remember the last time ya apologized to me,” Atsumu crosses his arms across his chest.
“I’m sorry,” Rin repeats.
“Stop it. Stop apologizing,”
“The hell are ya saying sorry for? We’re a team for a reason Rin, I don’t have to tell ya what ya already know, right? So, if ya say sorry one more time, I’m gonna smack ya,”
“No, you’re not,” Rin bites back a smile.
“No, I ain’t. Ya scare me sometimes Rin,”
“Shut up. Now stop being sorry. We did all we could, we underestimated Karasuno, that’s on us. We’ve got next year, we’ll crush ‘em then, yeah?”
“Now seriously go shower, ya stink,”
“Asshole,” Rin rolls his eyes.
And there Atsumu went, pulling Rintarou back into his current.
Practice is excruciating. It always is, but today in particular, practice is kicking his ass. Rin thought that by now, weeks after training started for the national team, he’d be somewhat used to how extensive it is. And he is, to some extent, but today has been more difficult than Rin would like to admit.
Maybe today would have been one of those days where Kita would tell Rin to go home and get some rest, but Kita isn’t here. So, Rin ignores the ache in his legs and the relentless burn in his arms. He finds himself feeling hotter than normal, his sweaty shirt sticking uncomfortably to his skin. His mind feels fuzzy, the bright lights of the gym making his head hurt more.
Oh. Rintarou knows what’s going on, and he grimaces at the thought.
But of course, he isn’t going to say it aloud.
Rin continues pushing himself throughout the day, dismissing the worried looks of his teammates. He must look like hell if even Kageyama comes up to him and asks if he’s alright. And even if the rest of the team didn’t say anything after, Rin should have expected that Atsumu wouldn’t let him be.
“Ya look like shit,” Atsumu stares at Rin, arms folded across his chest.
“Thanks, asshole,” Rin murmurs, pushing past Atsumu. But Atsumu grabs ahold of Rin’s arm, and Rintarou suddenly feels a lot warmer than he did before.
“Are ya okay?” Rin thinks he sees Atsumu’s eyes soften, but he doesn’t trust himself to be sure.
“Just fine,” Rin brushes off Atsumu’s concern.
“Ya look like yer about to pass out,” Atsumu looks at him unimpressed.
“I’m fine, Atsumu. Drop it,” Rin urges.
Atsumu sighs. “Alright, but yer coming with me to ‘Samu’s for dinner,”
Rin knows Atsumu isn’t giving him a choice.
Atsumu is waiting for Rin at the entrance of the locker room, his hair flat from showering. Rin can see the goosebumps across Atsumu’s arms from the cold shower he took, and Rin just wants to envelop him in a hug to warm him up. But he doesn’t.
Instead, Rin grabs his things and follows Atsumu out of the building. As soon as they exit the gym, Atsumu has the back of his hand pressed up against Rin’s forehead.
“What the hell are you doing?” Rin says quickly, pushing aside Atsumu’s hand.
“Checking if ya have a fever,” Atsumu rolls his eyes, putting his hand back on Rin’s forehead.
“I don’t have a fever, idiot,” But Rin doesn’t move Atsumu’s hand away.
“Yer warm, Rin,” Atsumu frowns, dropping his hand beside him. Rin has to mentally scold himself for wanting Atsumu to touch him again.
“I’m fine,” He says instead.
“I’m telling Iwaizumi-san,”
Rin freezes. “No, you won’t,”
“Yes, I will,” Atsumu threatens, “Unless ya stay home tomorrow,”
“Atsumu, I can’t,”
“Are ya dumb?” Atsumu scoffs. “Yer an athlete, start acting like one and take care of yerself,”
“Sunarin,” Atsumu glares at him.
“I’m telling you—”
“If ya spew some bullshit about being ‘okay’ I’ll call Iwaizumi-san and Kita-san. Right now,” Atsumu says seriously.
And oh God, Rin did not want to be scolded by Iwaizumi and Kita. Most definitely not.
“Okay,” He finally relents. “I’ll take a sick day tomorrow,”
Atsumu smiles proudly, standing up straighter now. “Good. Let’s go get something to eat now. ‘M fucking starving,”
And really what else could Rin do except smile back and follow Atsumu.
Rintarou rings the bell to the twins’ home, standing outside the door waiting for someone to open the door.
“‘Samu!” Rin hears Atsumu’s loud voice ring through the house.
“What?” Osamu yells back.
“Rin is here!”
“I know, dipshit. Go open the door,”
“You go open it, I’m doing something!”
“I’m doing something, too!”
“Fucker!” Atsumu shouts before he comes trudging down the stairs.
Atsumu swings the door open, breathless from yelling and running down the stars. “Suna!” He smiles.
Rin keeps his face neutral, but he could feel his heart in his throat, beating too quickly and incessantly.
“Atsumu,” Rin greets before entering the house.
“‘Samu’s doing some shit in the kitchen,” Atsumu points. “I need to finish something up, but ya know yer way around,” Atsumu finishes before he runs back up the stairs.
Rin makes his way towards Osamu; he can smell the delicious aroma of whatever Osamu is making this time.
“Osamu,” Rin says, catching Osamu’s attention who was cutting up vegetables.
Osamu looks up briefly then returns to the task at hand.
“Not even a hello?” Rin teases, walking around to the corner to help Osamu prepare whatever meal he was making. “Is that how you treat your guests?”
Osamu snorts. “Please, yer here more than yer own home. ya ain’t no guest,”
“Hm, guess I have been here a lot,” Rin hums.
“Ya have,” Atsumu’s voice cuts in as he strides into the kitchen. “Ya should bring yer sister with ya next time. She’s probably bored home alone,”
“And who’s gonna entertain her here?” Rin looks at Atsumu amusedly.
“Me, of course!” Atsumu exclaims.
“Yes, really. She’s a delight,”
“She’s annoying, that's what she is. Maybe that’s why you two get along so well,”
“We’re angels Rin!
“More like the devil spawns,” Rin murmurs. He returns to chopping vegetables before he drops the knife he was holding and hisses, “Fuck” He had cut himself, but he doesn’t dare look at it. Instead, Rin holds his injured hand with his other hand.
Osamu rolls his eyes while taking the knife away from Rin’s reach and Atsumu scowls, walking towards Rin and grabbing his arm. Atsumu takes him away from Osamu, who was mumbling something about “kitchen safety” and “blood in the food”.
“That’s what ya get for talking shit about me and yer sister,'' Atsumu scolds while dragging Rin into the bathroom.
“Didn’t say anything that wasn’t true,” Rin quips back but he doesn’t hear if Atsumu says anything after, too focused on the warmth he feels in his hand, too aware that there’s blood gathering around his palm.
“Sit,” Atsumu orders, pointing to the bathroom counter before he starts rummaging through the cabinets probably looking for alcohol wipes and Band-Aids. Rin does his best to push himself onto the counter with his uninjured hand, a struggle that he was too embarrassed to admit to.
Atsumu’s back is facing Rin and he’s doing his best not to stare at the way Atsumu’s shirt is tight around his frame, how his arms are flexing while he shuffles through the cabinet, and how— okay so maybe he’s not doing the best job of not looking.
“I don’t know if I trust you with my injury,” Rin decides to say.
“Yeah, yeah shut up, dick,” Atsumu doesn’t turn around, he’s still scanning through the cabinet until finally, he grabs something.
“Okay, found it,” Atsumu says, before turning to Rin. He looks up at him and frowns. “Ya have blood on yer shirt,” he points to the red stain that has inked Rin’s shirt. “Well, don’t worry. Ya can borrow mine after we clean yer cut,”
Atsumu stares at Rin waiting, for what Rin is not sure.
“Well, are ya gonna give me yer hand, or are yer just gonna bleed around our house?”
Oh, that’s why he was waiting, Rin says to himself.
Rin puts his hand out front, looking away when Atsumu gently takes a hold of it.
“Not good with blood?” Atsumu asks.
“No,” Rin manages to get out, gritting his teeth.
“Well, look at that. Suna Rintarou does have a weakness,” Atsumu chuckles.
“Fuck off,” Rin rasps, trying not to think about the blood pooling around his cut or the stain on his shirt. “Disliking blood is completely normal,”
Atsumu uncurls Rin’s hand, who had unconsciously fisted it to avoid looking at blood.
“Whatever ya say Rin,” Atsumu is gentle with Rin’s hand. Rin wants to hit him for being nice.
“You’re really pissing me off,”
Atsumu has the audacity to laugh at Rin. “Now ya know how I feel every time ya open yer mouth,” Atsumu pauses for a second, looking around the bathroom before groaning. “I forgot the fucking Band-Aids,” he sighs, leaving the bathroom to go search for them. “Don’t bleed on the floor,” Atsumu yells from somewhere in the house.
“Wonder what’d happen if Osamu ate you in the fucking womb, dipshit,” Rin yells back. Atsumu stays quiet for a few seconds before he comes back in with a box of Band-Aids.
“Well, for starters you’d be bleeding on the counter because ‘Samu knows just about enough first aid as someone with shit for brains,”
“So as much as you?”
“You know I’m very tempted to just let you clean yerself up.”
They’re empty threats, Rin knows, because Atsumu takes Rin’s injured hand into his again.
“But you won’t”
“I won’t” Atsumu observes Rin’s hand. “It’s a long cut, but it ain’t deep,” Atsumu brings Rin’s hand down to the sink, running warm water over it. From the corner of his eye, Rin can see the red-stained water swirling down the drain.
He thinks he’s going to be sick.
So instead, Rin watches Atsumu. He sees the way Atsumu’s eyebrows are furrowed concerningly, his forehead wrinkling at the action. Rin wants to smooth the lines on Atsumu’s foreheads; Rin’s fingers twitch with sudden desire to lean over and push aside Atsumu’s hair so he can see him a little better. Rin watches Atsumu’s hands carefully hold his own, the very hands that have set to him on countless occasions, but now Rin is touching them, and he wonders if he’ll ever get to feel Atsumu’s hands again.
Atsumu stands up straight, removing Rin’s hand from the water. He rips open an alcohol wipe with his teeth, one hand still holding the back of Rin’s.
“Don’t worry, this ain’t gonna hurt,” Atsumu reassures before cleaning Rin’s cut with the wipe.
Well, that was a fucking lie.
Rin hisses, flinching when he feels the burn of the alcohol. “You fucker!”
Rin almost pulls his hand away, but Atsumu holds it still, still dragging the wipe across Rin’s palm. He tosses the now bloody wipe into the trash before reaching over to grab the band-aid. Atsumu peels off the wrapper and sticks the bandage onto Rin’s hand, smoothing it over with his thumb twice and then stepping away from Rin. Rin looks down at his hand, then up at Atsumu, then down at his hand, and then at Atsumu again.
He stares at Atsumu incredulously. “Volleyball Band-Aids? Seriously?”
Atsumu starts blushing. “Well duh, what’d ya expect me to have? Normal Band-Aids?”
“Good point. Sometimes I forget you're a child inside,”
Rin just shrugs before hopping off the counter. “I only speak the truth,”
“Asshole, ya can walk around the house with a bloody shirt then,” Atsumu pouts, but still makes his way to his room to give Rin a shirt.
And it’s how he ended up with one of Atsumu’s shirts, one that he never returned. A shirt Atsumu never asked for back. It’s a piece of Atsumu that Rintarou got to keep.
"Rin!" is the first thing Rin hears when he enters the locker room after taking two days off from practice.
Atsumu shuts his locker, the sound ringing through the empty room. Everyone has already started practice and Rin wonders why Atsumu hasn’t joined them yet.
“Why haven’t you started practice?”
“Ya said ya were coming back today, so I decided to wait,” Atsumu says nonchalantly.
“That’s stupid,” Rin slings his bag off, emptying it into his locker.
Atsumu squawks. “Huh?! I try doing something considerate and ya tell me it’s stupid?”
“It is. You’re wasting your practice time,” Rin doesn’t look up. He doesn’t want to look Atsumu in the eyes, he doesn’t want to see the kindness in Atsumu’s face because it’s not something Rin thinks his heart could handle.
“Practice just started, I ain’t missing much. Iwaizumi-san is probably yelling at Shoyou-kun and Tobio-kun. Yaku-san is probably about to strangle Kourai-kun,” Atsumu rambles on. “Basically, I’m just trying to say that practice hasn’t actually started, yet. We’ve got time.” Atsumu trails off when he sees something to the side. Rin notices Atsumu’s silence and looks up, following Atsumu’s line of sight.
Atsumu reaches over for Rin’s bag. “Hey, what’s—”
Rin grabs his bag, zipping it up and shoving it into his locker. “It’s nothing,”
“Well, clearly it’s something. Lemme see,” Atsumu comes closer to Rin, trying to pull open his locker.
“Hey, asshat. You know what personal space is?” Rin glares, trying to shove Atsumu to the side.
“Ah, well you know me Rin. I don’t care too much about it around you. Oh! There we go,” Atsumu says excitedly, somehow managing to reach into Rin’s locker and pull out his bag.
“Atsumu, give it,” Rin tries to grab his stuff over Atsumu’s shoulder, but Atsumu quickly moves away, running to his locker.
Rin’s frozen, Atsumu got away from him. He can’t even move when he sees Atsumu open his bag; he’s panicking because once Atsumu finds what’s inside—
“Rin,” Atsumu’s voice cuts the silence. He’s staring at the shirt he pulled out of Rin’s bag. “What’s this?”
“Dirty shirt,” Rin explains vaguely. “Guess I was too tired to take it out,” And it’s not a complete lie. Rintarou had been so sick he hadn’t realized that he had grabbed the wrong shirt: the shirt Atsumu had given him all those years ago.
“Since when did ya start lying to me, Rin?” Atsumu looks up at him from across the locker room.
Since forever ago, Rin thinks.
There were so many things Rin had never told Atsumu, so many things he had kept hidden away, and now Rin fears those secrets will spill, exposing him to the person he’s tried so hard to keep himself away from.
Rin was truly foolish to think he could ever escape Atsumu. No matter when or where, Rin will always be drawn back into Atsumu’s currents. And when he gets pulled under, undercurrents try to take him the other way. And Rin wants to follow the undercurrents. But he can’t. Because at the same time, Rintarou wants to always be around Atsumu, wants to know what it’s like to be completely surrounded by Atsumu’s presence, submerged under his love.
He could have had that.
But he missed his chance.
Rin had been a coward.
“It’s nothing, Atsumu,” Rin finally says, starting to make his way over to Atsumu’s locker. But Atsumu moves his hand away from Rin. “You’re being childish. Give it,” Rin snaps.
“Ya kept it,” Atsumu says to himself. “Ya kept it,” he repeats a little louder, staring wide-eyed at Rin.
Rin knows he can’t lie his way out of this one. “I did,”
“I forgot to give it back,” Yet, Rin lies for the second time.
“Why do ya still have it?” Atsumu asks.
“Fuck if I know. It’s just always been in my closet. Now let’s go. Practice is actually starting,” Rin tries to end the conversation.
This seems to bring Atsumu out of his haze. His eyes get dark. He shoves Rin’s shirt into the bag, standing up and pushing it into Rin’s arms.
“Don’t take too long,” Atsumu says, not looking back at Rin before he leaves the locker room to join the rest of the team.
Rin’s left alone, a familiar feeling of dread flooding through him.
And suddenly, Rin’s drowning again, not in the safety of the currents, but in the monstrous waves that are coursing through his mind, tides that aren’t letting Rin breathe.
They had lost to Itachiyama, placing second at nationals. It’s still a great accomplishment, no doubt, but Rintarou can see Atsumu losing himself to endless possibilities of what-ifs. He knows Atsumu is replaying the entire match in his head and Rin wants to pull Atsumu out of the rabbit hole he’ll inevitably fall into.
Rin sits next to Atsumu on the bench in the empty locker room. He knows Osamu’s somewhere outside cooling down, most likely just as frustrated as his brother, but right now Rin knows the twins need a little time to themselves; it’s the last match they’ll play together.
Rin says nothing, he just watches Atsumu stare at his hands. He watches the sweat trickle down the back of Atsumu’s neck disappearing into his shirt. He watches Atsumu hold his lip between his teeth, chewing it anxiously and Rin has to force himself to look away from Atsumu's red-tinted lips.
Atsumu begins picking at his fingers and that’s Rin’s signal to start talking. He places his hands on Atsumu’s, stopping him from peeling the skin off the side of his thumbs.
“Stop picking your fingers,”
“Sorry,” Atsumu mumbles, but he doesn’t move his hands, Rin is still holding them.
“You should probably shower,”
“Probably,” Atsumu doesn’t move, though.
Neither of them looks at each other. They’re practically holding hands, sitting so close to each other, but they simply stare at the wall in front of them.
“What’re you thinking about?”
“Might hurt your brain,”
Rin snickers, Atsumu bites back a smile.
“I’m thinking about the future,” Atsumu confesses.
Rin stays silent, letting Atsumu continue.
“I’m scared that I won’t make it as far as I hope to. I’m scared of leaving Inarizaki. I’m scared of losing ‘Samu. I don’t want to fail,” He whispers the last part.
Rin’s shock is masked under an emotionless face, but he tenses at Atsumu’s words. “What else?”
“What?” Rin asks because he isn’t sure if he heard Atsumu right.
“I said I’m sorry,”
Rin rolls his eyes. “Shut up, Atsumu,”
Atsumu lifts his head up, staring at Rin teary-eyed, and oh Rin feels his heart break. “The hell?!”
“I think your exact words last year were ‘we’re a team for a reason’ So why are you apologizing, asshole? You did all you could as a captain, as a setter, as a teammate. If you didn’t give it your all then, sure, be sorry, but I know you did. You gave more than anyone else and that’s why we made it as far as we did. So don’t fucking say sorry, don’t feel guilty, don’t blame yourself,” Rin says sternly. “Or I’ll tell Osamu to smack you,”
Atsumu stares at Rin, shocked before he starts laughing quietly. “Yer really fucking scary,”
Atsumu takes his hands away from Rin’s and rubs his eyes before he inhales deeply and sits up straight. “Okay,” he sighs. “I’m good,”
“So,” Atsumu starts, tilting his head to look at Rin properly. “EJP Raijin?”
“Yeah. Black Jackals?”
“Most likely,” Atsumu hums.
“So, then I’ll finally get to crush you across the net?”
“Unlikely, but I know you’ll miss me, Rin,”
You have no fucking idea, Rin thinks.
“We’ll be teammates again, don’t worry,” Atsumu promises.
“I’ll beat you first before that happens,”
“I’ll toss to ya again, Rin,” he winks before standing up to probably go find Osamu.
When Atsumu leaves, Rin drops his shoulders, placing his head in his palms.
“Fuck,” he whispers to no one.
The realization hit him harder than servers to the back of the head because Rin was finally understanding that this was the end of high school. And with the end of high school came leaving Inarizaki, leaving home, leaving the twins (leaving Atsumu).
Separating from his friends— Rin can’t even imagine.
But knowing that his chances with Atsumu were even slimmer now— he hates thinking about it.
Rin always found these feelings bothersome, it’s why he’s never done anything with them except ignore them (and also because Rin didn’t understand them. He’s not very good with feelings). But now graduation is creeping up. Rin will commit to EJP, Osamu to his culinary school, Atsumu to MSBY. It’s an inevitable separation.
So, what more can Rin do then to protect his heart? What more can he do now, than to keep his feelings buried and hidden away from undercurrents.
Rintarou is distracted. He’s flubbing his serves, miscalculating his jumps, missing Atsumu’s sets.
But Rin cannot shake the feeling of dread off him, he can’t ignore the look the Atsumu had given him in the locker room. Rin can’t fucking focus when Atsumu is only a few feet away watching him intently. The weight of Atsumu’s gaze— Rin wants him to stop looking.
“Suna,” Rin startles when he hears Aran call his name. Aran walks up to him, water bottle in hand and a concerned look etched onto his face.
He hands Rin the water, and Rin takes it, avoiding eye contact with Aran. Rin knows where this conversation is going.
“What’s going on with you?” Aran asks.
“Nothing’s going on, just off my game,” Rin brushes off the concern.
“You’re never ‘just off your game,’ You’ve been different these past few days, are you okay?”
“It’s nothing for you to worry about,”
“Is it because of Atsumu?” Aran crosses his arms as if he knew he was right. And, well, he was.
“No,” Rin lies through his teeth.
“It doesn’t have to do with Atsumu,” Rin says sternly before he takes a sip of water, trying to avoid saying more than he has to.
Aran looks at him intently. “Are you in love with him?”
Rin drops his bottle, choking on his water and coughing loudly. Everyone in the gym turns to look at Rin, including Atsumu, who Rin can see is making his way towards him. Rin looks away from Atsumu’s direction and turns back to Aran.
“Thank you for the water, but I’m not,” Rin quickly says, grabbing the bottle from the floor and walking away from Atsumu and Aran to join Sakusa on the other side of the gym.
Another fucking lie. God, Rin hated lying to Aran, to Atsumu, to himself. What was he trying to protect by lying if he was just hurting himself and those around him? It was getting exhausting trying to bury his heart, trying to push against the force of the currents.
Their coach calls them back to the court, deciding they were all going to have a practice match. It’s Rin, Sakusa, Kageyama, Yaku, Ushijima, Hyakuzawa on one side, Atsumu, Aran, Hinata, Gao, Hoshiumi, and Komori on the other. They all make their way to their respective spots, taking a few minutes to prepare for a grueling game.
“Suna,” Sakusa says his name impassively.
Rin knows what’s coming: a series of questions asking if he’s alright. And really, he wants to be happy that his teammates are concerned for him, but at the same time Rin wants them to just leave him to his own misery. He feels he doesn’t deserve the kindness everyone has been extending to him.
"Are you going to be alright?" Sakusa asks, eyebrows furrowed.
"Yes," Rin expects Sakusa to call him out on his lie, but he’s surprised that Sakusa doesn’t press further on the issue.
"Don't make us lose," Sakusa says instead, and Rin feels the ends of his lip quirk up slightly.
"Wouldn't dream of it," He grins.
"We've got to kick Atsumu's ass,"
Rin’s back on his game, more attentive and calculative than he was earlier. He's feeling refreshed and motivated now, his mind is clear of any distractions (read: Atsumu). He’s putting his entire focus on the rally in front of him, eyeing the ball carefully, blocking spikes from the opposing team. This is Rin’s comfort zone; this is what he knows how to do best, and he intends to see this through.
Both teams are gradually getting sucked into the game, pushing themselves to score points. From the corner of his eye, Rin can see Atsumu smiling as he tosses to Aran, Atsumu’s eyes bright as his fingers leave the ball from his possession. Rin follows the ball on the other side of the net, running fast to the end of the net and jumping up beside Sakusa to block Aran’s spike.
But Aran is a powerful hitter.
Rin tumbles into Sakusa after successfully blocking Aran, and there’s a sudden silence that falls over the gym. Atsumu and Aran duck down the net to join the other side, worried looks etched on their faces. Sakusa is on the floor, clutching his ankle and Rin immediately feels guilty for knocking into him. He bends down to help, but there’s a hand on his shoulder holding him back,
“Rin, yer bleeding,” Atsumu points out to Rin’s ring and pinky fingers. Rin didn’t even notice that he was bleeding himself until Atsumu told him.
He must have torn his fingernails while blocking Aran’s spike and he scolds himself for not taking care of his nails before practice. Rin glances down to his finger, sees the blood begin to trickle down his finger, and then looks away, his stomach churning at the brief sight of blood.
Atsumu’s hand is now gripping his forearm, but Rin can’t find it in himself to move away from Atsumu’s touch. It’s steadying.
Iwaizumi makes his way to Sakusa, kneeling to examine Sakusa’s ankle, asking him questions, and telling him what to do. Then Iwaizumi looks up at Rin and frowns when he sees Rin clutching his hand.
“Iwaizumi-san,” Atsumu speaks up. “I can take care of Rin, while ya take Omi. Rin just needs to wrap his fingers. ‘M sure Omi needs more help right now,”
Iwaizumi stands up, taking Atsumu’s words into consideration. “Alright, you take Suna, wash the blood off, clean his fingers, wrap them, and be gentle,” Rin almost snorts, as if Atsumu could be anything but gentle with him. “I’ll check him in a few minutes after I get Sakusa settled down,”
“You got it,” Atsumu says, pulling Rintarou away from court and into the locker room.
Rin remains silent. Atsumu’s hand is warm on Rin’s arm and he feels his heart pounding in his ears, almost scared that Atsumu could hear his heart beating so loudly.
“Still dislike blood?” Atsumu looks over his shoulder as if to check that Rin hasn’t passed out from the sight of blood.
“Never stopped,” Rin manages to get out.
“Well don’t worry. I’ll take care of it,” Atsumu smiles, and Rin thinks his heart has stopped working with how erratically it’s beating.
They walk into the locker room and Rin goes towards the sink, while Atsumu goes to grab the first aid kit. Atsumu returns, placing the kit on the sink and grabbing Rin’s hand carefully, running it under warm water. He gently runs his thumb across Rin’s ring finger and then his pinky, wiping off the blood that had stained Rin’s nails. They’re so close to each other, heads centimeters away. Rin can feel Atsumu’s hair soft hair brushing against his cheek, he can see Atsumu’s pretty eyelashes flutter from this distance, the curve of his nose, the pink tint of his lips, the blush on his cheeks, the-
“Okay,” Atsumu finally says, drawing Rin out of his haze. Atsumu glances at Rin, smiling. “Kinda like deja vu, huh?”
“Kinda, except your hair is much better,”
“Yeah, and yer still mean to me,” Atsumu pouts. Atsumu makes Rin sit on the bench before going back to grab the kit. He joins Rin on the bench, closer than what was probably necessary, except Rin doesn’t mind it (he never really minded being close to Atsumu).
Atsumu pulls out the athletic tape and carefully grabs Rin’s hand. He wraps the tape around Rin’s pinky and ring finger, gently turning Rin’s hand to get the tape around properly. Neither of them says anything and the silence is deafening, uncomfortable. Rin wants Atsumu to say something, anything, but he doesn’t.
So, Rin takes it upon himself to break the silence. “Atsumu,”
Atsumu hums in response.
“I lied when you asked why I kept your shirt,”
Atsumu doesn’t look up. “I know,”
Rin freezes and holds his breath. “What?”
“I know ya weren’t telling me the truth,”
“Do you know the truth?”
“Maybe,” Atsumu still isn’t looking at him and Rin just stares at the top of Atsumu’s head.
“I’d still like to hear the truth from ya, though,” Atsumu finally sits up straight, looking right at Rin.
“No, you don’t,”
“Yes, I do,”
“I don’t want to tell you,”
“Well, I think there's a lot of things ya don’t tell me, Rin,” Atsumu frowns.
Rin feels his heart break. “I want to keep it that way,”
Atsumu lets go of Rin’s hand and Rin feels a sudden loss of warmth. “Why?”
“Because I don’t deserve a second chance,”
Rintarou has been doing a good job these last three years pushing against the currents, keeping his feelings at bay, hiding them from everyone he knows. And now it’s the last day of high school, it’s the inevitable separation that Rin had been dreading.
He, Atsumu, and Osamu are sitting in the front yard of the twins’ home. Atsumu’s laying in the grass and Rin is sitting up against a tree next to Osamu.
“Are you excited for university?” Rin asks Osamu.
Osamu shrugs. “Kinda, but also nervous. But ya know everyone feels this way after high school,”
“‘Samu’s just saying that ‘cause he knows he’s gonna miss me,” Atsumu laughs.
“Not true, fucker. I’m glad I don’t gotta share a room with ya,” Osamu barks back.
“Please, I’m the clean one. Yer shit’s all over the fucking place. Ya won’t have me cleaning up after ya anymore,”
“Fuck off. I’m getting something to eat. And I’m not making anything for ya, asshole,” Osamu grumbles and stands up. He turns to Rin. “Ya want anything, Rin?”
“I’m good, thanks,” Rin declines before Osamu trudges off into the house, kicking Atsumu in the leg as he walks by.
Atsumu curses, pushing himself off the grass to join Rin under the tree.
“He’s gonna miss me,” Atsumu says again.
“I know,” Rin affirms.
“I’ll miss him,”
“You’re just telling me shit I already know,” Rin looks up at the sky, the branches from the tree extending above Rin.
“Want me to tell ya something ya probably don’t know?” Atsumu says quietly.
Rin turns his head, staring at Atsumu. “Sure,”
“I like ya, Rin,”
Rin holds his breath His heart’s stuttering, he can’t think, he’s at a loss for words because Atsumu just said he liked him.
Atsumu likes him.
No. No. This is not what Rin planned, this isn’t what he expected. He was supposed to keep his feelings buried and hidden and now Atsumu’s come and ruined it all, he’s washed away any hold Rin had on his feelings. The currents that he’s fought so hard against were growing stronger and now they’re taking Rintarou under.
“Rin,” Atsumu whispers.
Atsumu startles. “Excuse me?”
“You don’t like me,” Rin says clearly.
Atsumu scoffs. “Since when do ya go around telling people how they feel?”
“You can’t like me,” Rin doesn’t look at Atsumu. He picks at the grass, pulling the leaves out of the dirt one at a time.
“And why the fuck not?” Atsumu’s voice is louder now.
“Because you deserve more,”
“Now yer just spewing bullshit,” Atsumu grumbles.
“We’re going to be living in different cities, you’re going to meet new people, I’m not the kind of person you need” A lie. “I can’t give you what you want,” Another fucking lie because Rin would go to the ends of the earth to give Atsumu whatever he wanted. “It wouldn’t work, Atsumu,” Lies. Lies. Lies.
Rin finally glances at Atsumu. Atsumu looks hurt, his eyes are watery, cheeks red. Rin hates himself for making Atsumu upset.
“Rin,” Atsumu croaks out.
Rin can’t be here anymore, not when he just broke Atsumu’s heart for his own selfish needs. He feels sick. “I think I’ll go home now. My sister’s probably waiting for me,” Rin stands up, brushing the grass off his pants. “I’ll see you around, Atsumu,” Rin says finally before walking away.
Rin never really understood his feelings very well. But one thing he knew for sure was that he was afraid. He was scared of making himself vulnerable to Atsumu, scared to leave his heart open to Atsumu’s grasps, scared that he would lose Atsumu, scared that Atsumu would ruin love for him forever. Because Rin knows no one could compare to Atsumu.
Rintarou thought that after that day he wouldn’t ever have the privilege to speak to Atsumu, that he had thrown away any chance of being friends with Atsumu. Rin especially thought that Osamu would come after him with a knife, but Osamu only texted him a very passive-aggressive message and then an apology after, saying he’s sorry for the harsh words, but appreciates Rin not stringing Atsumu along.
But Atsumu ended up calling Rin a few weeks after his confession asking for them to go back to normal and forget that it ever happened. Rin tells him not to worry, that he was sorry, that nothing has to change. And Rin knows he can pretend, he’s been pretending for so long, but he also knows he won’t be able to forget Atsumu’s words. Because Rin had thrown away his chance to be with Atsumu.
For once, Rintarou had followed the undercurrents and had let them sweep him away from Atsumu.
“You know what I’m trying to say, right Atsumu?” Rin watches Atsumu.
“I do,” Atsumu agrees. “And I’m telling ya to tell me the truth, Rin,”
“I lied,” Rin confesses.
“I know that already,”
Rin sighs. “No, I mean, years ago- when you- when you told me how you felt. I lied.”
“I said that I wasn’t who you needed, that I couldn’t give you what you want, that we wouldn’t work. But I wanted to be with you. And I was scared. I lied this morning when I said your shirt was just in my closet and I forgot about it. It’s because I didn’t want to give it back. It was comfortable and it reminded me of you. And I’ve been lying to myself, telling myself that I didn’t have feelings for you, that I didn’t want to be with you, and I messed everything up. And now it’s too late” Rin drops his head in his hands and Atsumu stays quiet. “Say something, asshole,” he murmurs.
“Well for one, I think yer a dumbass,”
“That’s my line, dick,” Rin mumbles, shutting his eyes.
“And second, who said it was too late?”
Rin straightens up, lifting his head up and staring at Atsumu wide-eyed. “What?”
Atsumu smiles. “I think it’s a little stupid of ya for ya to decide what I deserve and what I want. I knew exactly what I wanted then, and I still do now,”
“You still- Do you still-?” Rin can’t force the words out. He doesn’t believe what Atsumu is telling him. Do you still like me? Rin wants to say.
“I don’t think I ever stopped, Rin.” Atsumu takes Rin’s hands into his own. “Do you get what I’m trying to say?”
“Fucker,” is all Rin is able to say before he pulls Atsumu into a hug.
Rin’s heart seriously cannot handle Atsumu. For so long, Rin had admired how wholeheartedly Atsumu loved and wondered what’d it be like to be submerged in his love. And Rin believed he had thrown away that chance, but he’s here now, in Atsumu’s arms. He’s been given another chance, another opportunity to be with Atsumu. And Rin can’t lose it again. “I’m in love with you,” he whispers.
“I know,” Rin can feel Atsumu smile into his neck. “I love you, too,”
Rin brings their foreheads together and they’re so close, Rin can feel the warm puffs of Atsumu’s breath on his skin. Atsumu’s eyes are half-lidded, his lips parted slightly.
And oh, Rintarou wants to kiss him, so he does. He leans forward pressing his lips onto Atsumu’s unbelievably soft lips. He wants to run his hand through Atsumu’s hair, so he does. He wants to tell Atsumu he loves him again, so he does.
“I love you, Atsumu,” Rin whispers. “I’m sorry it took so long,”
“Stop apologizing,” It’s those same words Atsumu had told him all those years ago after they had lost to Karasuno. “We’re here now, that’s what matters,”
“I know,” And Rin kisses Atsumu again.
It’s then that Rin learns that sometimes it’s best to follow the currents, to follow the feelings that reside in the depths of his heart (to follow Atsumu).