Art by @nanaboodraws on twitter
The sheer impact of our arrival at the sparrows stadium was mind numbing. It was what he had imagined for his debut, a roaring crowd screaming his name as he pushed in point after point as he won the game for the team.
His ma on the TV, Samu in the stands, although he would prefer him next to him.
It would all be perfect.
Tee day had already tipped as they started to drive across town in the team bus when the coach came up to him.
“Right so the hand thing? Well, we will need more time for that Miya. To be honest I don’t quiet get it yet but I respect you so of course we’ll get there, but you can do it without right?”
“Ya underestimate me coach!”
He had replied as cold sweat formed on his back.
Contrary to popular belief, and the valid perception that Atsumu was a narcissistic asshole, the hand indicator for the crowd to be quiet for his serve was more than just a fun thing to do.
Atsumus’ head needed a clear slate whenever he served. A calm moment to collect before he could deliver.
But hey, he works just as focused within the game when it was loud so it probably wasn’t much of an issue.
So it wouldn’t be perfect, whatever.
The second indicator fell wenn they walked out of the locker rooms and he could already hear the roaring of the crowds outside which riled him up, but as he stood on the court to warm up and find his brother.
Well, he didn’t.
On each side of the court, the watchers slammed their hands on the plastic banners around the court and stomped their legs on the floor.
His heart was thumping. Probably out of excitement.
He warned up like usual, recapped his game moves like usual, focused on himself for a second like usual.
Then the home team walked out onto the court, and his chest tightened.
“LETS GO!!”, a small familiar figure jumped onto their side of the net.
Right behind him, Kageyama Tobio.
Finally, some good food.
As a couple of moments later, the ball sat in his hand for the first serve, he imagined his highschool team behind him.
The roaring of the crowd didn’t stop, and the words of the coach only built the pressure in his mind.
He looked to the bench to find three people looking at him directly, their eyes full of hunger.
Oikawa, Iwaizumi, Sakusa.
His eyes trailed back to the front.
A whistle was to be heard.
The first service ace felt terrifyingly good.
The weight on his palm as he smacked down the ball and left it flying to the ground, it restored his faith for a moment.
I got this.
From then on, the game went rather smoothly. Some small hiccups, especially with that freak duo and that disgustingly well playing Libero.
What was his name? Morisuke?
Atsumu was sure this would be a long game, but a sure attainable win when like a hailstorm with no warning, the third impediment came in.
A few hard to knock cross shots, and there it was.
He knew it would come. It happened in practice, but this time it was real and dangerous.
“Okay Bo, listen”, he put his arm around the spiker to calm him but it was pushed away by him, ‘Come on! Ya wanna win dontcha?”
“You don’t get it! I just can’t remember how to do the cross shot right!”
Something tore in Miya Atsumu.
Was it his patience? His compassion? Was it his will? Whatever it was, it broke and a damn of emotions came rolling with it.
He kept tossing to Bokuto.
He was the secret weapon, but point after point was lost as he ignored his dip in emotion.
Did he actually forget how to play volleyball?
The sweat on Atsumus forehead started to feel sticky, and he stuck out his tongue and tasted salt as before wiping his face quickly with his shirt.
This is not good.
It was his time again to serve, a moment for him to change the tide of the game. His moment to save something where he didn’t need a spiker or a good pass from the back.
A good service ace.
He made his steps, he threw the ball up and watched it with his keen eyes. As if it moved in slow motion, the crowd was still screaming as he lost focus for a moment until his palm hit the texture of the ball and with a grunt he barreled it towards the enemy field.
A whistle cracked through the air, the counter pointed the red flag towards the sky, the referee whistled again to signal a point for the sparrows.
He looked at the scoreboard, match point.
Not for their team.
Another whistle sound made its way through the air to his ears, everything felt like it moved too slowly and as he looked at his coach, a number was raised to the air by him.
Oikawa Tooru held up his own jersey number, with a stoic expression that showed absolutely nothing.
But Atsumu felt a lot.
His shoes squeaked as he wobbled towards the plate with the number on it as he took it, looking at the disappointment in the coach’s face as he sat down on the bench.
Someone put a cool towel over his shoulders, and the cool sensation cleared his thoughts for a moment.
The whistle cracked again, his eyes fixated on the court as he watched the B-team setter walk up to Bokuto and pat his back.
After five minutes they got a match point.
After 15 minutes Bokuto was back to throwing in cross shots.
After 30 minutes they had won the second set, and in less than an hour Atsumu engrained every single movement of the brunette setter in his mind.
He glanced at the smile that plastered the entire team’s face, as they all cracked jokes while Bokuto almost slipped from the excess sweat and was caught by the other setter as they all celebrated the win.
“Miya, we will look at the footage of this game tomorrow at practice”.
The coach stood next to him, but Atsumu couldn’t even look at him.
He was the first to walk into the showers after they shook hands with the team, and he was the first to walk into the team bus and flop down on one of the seats.
He quickly took his cellphone and turned it on to check for messages.
From Ma: [You were just fine dear! Proud of you]
From Samu: [soz can’t make it, tell me all about it later]
He turned his phone off again before he could even dare to check the varsity group chat.
The bus started to fill with clamoring teammates as he just kept on staring at the orange tinted sky.
What the hell happened today?
His head reiterated the last three hours again and again, just to keep a tally of all the things that went wrong. Surely there would be something that could’ve been changed. He was in peak physical condition, his serves were fine, he was fine.
He was fine.
They had won the game.
“Shit”, he cursed under his breath as his mind came to the same conclusions again and again. No matter how many times he would think of it, how many times he would change the perspective of the facts, it was a dead end all around.
It was him.
How did this happen?
With a faint rumble, the engine of the bus started which snapped him back into the here and now by force. Blinking and tipping his head back, he racked his brain on how his after-game routine would change today.
He would definitely practice serves today.
Lots of em.
Lanterns rushed by as he took in the scenery, the sky slowly turning more into a peach and then lilac colour as it transitioned into a blue that signalled the arrival of the night. There wouldn’t be much time before the gym would close, maybe he would have to do his exercises outside or bribe someone to get the keys.
Who needs sleep anyway?
And maybe then Osamu would have some-
His thoughts jumped to a halt as he remembered the empty seat on the stands.
Sighing, he closed his eyes hoping for a calm ride until he had to unpack the rest of his thoughts.
The frustration bubbled away in the back of his mind, sure to erupt sometime soon.
His mind could only focus on the sound of the engine vibrating under him and the steady movement of the passing lights on his face.
Until he heard a creaking sound and he felt the seat next to him dip.
He stopped, opened his eyes and looked to the side quickly just to find that the other setter had made himself comfortable in the seat.
Atsumu huffed in disbelief.
“Came ta gloat?”
Oikawa shuffled a little in his seat, the dark blue jersey jacket zipped up completely as he threw a half-smile, “Do you really think I would do that? Beat down a dead man?”
Somehow the jab was better than pity, but Atsumu still kissed his teeth in annoyance.
“Dead man ay? Where’s that award winnin’ smile ya paraded earlier hm? Not so friendly when no cameras are there yea?”, Atsumu felt his finger twitch but kept smiling at the brunette who only returned the gesture.
“Well we won the game so”,his smile did not falter but his eyes roamed across Atsumu before they trailed away again, “your serves were adequate I guess”.
Atsumu punched out a sound out of his chest. It could’ve been a disbelieving huff or laugh, but it couldn’t deter Oikawa.
“And you got picked for the A-team so your skills well, I can’t complain”, sarcasm dripping from his voice.
The blonde took a moment and actually looked at Oikawa now, who pursed his lips and shook his head slowly. “It’s always guys like you who get picked so”, and they both looked at each other, “what happened out there?”
And maybe because Oikawa didn’t pity him, or dump snide backhanded comments at him he felt a brief moment in which he almost unloaded the entirety of his mind onto him, but he knew that would haunt him for the rest of his pro-career, so he opted for clasping his lips together for another second.
He hadn’t felt comfort like that in a while, and somehow even though it was absolutely infuriating, Oikawa had an atmosphere to him that almost made him want to open up.
“Nothin’ happened, that Bokuto guy was a hassle. That’s all there’s to it”
It wasn’t a lie. It was just not the entire truth either.
Atsumu was good at that.
Playing around with words, confusing people, toying with what was real and what wasn’t. He was in fact so good at it, he didn’t even know what was the entire truth if he thought about it.
“I see”, the brunette replied, his gaze piercing through Atsumu as the latter tried to hold his composure with another self-serving smile.
“Yup! Would’ve all been different then”, he pushed again, not expecting his peers’ next words.
“I really don’t know you that well, and I don’t want to assume anything or meddle in your privacy”, he held eye contact with Atsumu as he spoke, “but that kind of conflict already arose in practice from what I’ve heard, and you could’ve prepared for it. There’s no doubt on your skills, I hate to even admit that but”, he waited a moment as Atsumu could only sit there with his smile slowly falling, “there is either more to it, or you really need to work on evening out the playing field”.
There was some silence, as Atsumu pressed his fists together a little too much.
It was solid advice.
If it had been Atsumu, he would have said it in a much ruder way. Maybe even yelled it at the person or just commented on it behind their backs.
What did he know, huh?!
Acting all high and mighty just because he saved that game?
He stilled for a moment.
That wouldn’t work.
He knew Oikawa was right. Which made it even worse.
Still, he didn’t know what it’s like for Atsumu.
He had no idea.
He had his team, a smiling coach, Bokuto in his grasp. Iwaizumi at his side.
He looked at the dark screen of his phone that started to slip out of his jersey shorts.
Nothing new if he was being honest.
“Riiight! Thank ya so much for yer concern Oikawa”, he grinned widely and his whole demeanor changed as he squinted his eyes a little, “If you’ll excuse me I’m gonna to talk to the coach now alright?”, he grabbed his bag and shuffled over until the brunette had no choice but to leave the seat.
As he slowly walked in between the rows of seats, he took a quick look backwards to find Oikawa still staring at him intently, no emotions on display.
He quickly turned around again to find another empty seat and plopped down onto it. Grabbing his phone and turning it on, he quickly turned down the notifications for the group chat and his brother’s chat, only to find a new message he didn’t expect.
[from jittery beta: Have you thought about the exposure therapy?]
He groaned and rested his head in his hands.
Why is it all coming together?