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love the one you hold

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Hiro was starting to slightly regret his decision of pestering the other third years to hang out together one more time after Oikawa's birthday before summer break was over. I know 'Kawa's birthday was six days ago, but we met up with the entire team on that, and school starts in a week and well, why not?, he'd said. Just the four of us. Before, ah, you know-

I know what you're about to say , Oikawa had interrupted. Don't. Just. Don't.

They were all trying for different colleges, that was the harsh truth neither of them wanted to acknowledge. If everything went well, if all their plans worked out, they would all move to completely opposite regions. Hell, Mattsun was trying for a college on the other side of the country. Back on the beginning of their first year of high school, when their friendship was still fresh and new and delicate to the touch, they'd happily agreed to dream and work hard together and try to get into the same college and be friends for ever and ever and ever. There had been talks about sharing a little place, about who would wake up in the morning to make breakfast, about who would wash the dishes and who would take care of the laundry.

Now, graduation was three months away, Oikawa's mental illnesses made it mandatory for him to go study somewhere close to his older sister (who lived too many miles away) so that she could support him financially, Makki couldn't stop fantasizing about his dream college, Iwaizumi's parents didn't want to give him the amount of money necessary to follow Oikawa and were pleading for him to get into a local university, and the best place in which to study Mattsun's chosen major was literally on the other side of the country.

It was the ending of their third year, their friendship was deep and beautiful and made of the stuff poets wrote about, and life had finally caught up with them.

Still. They had this. The four of them, together, sharing a table at their favorite cafeteria, stealing each other's food and laughing about completely nonsensical things.

They also had the way Oikawa looked at Iwaizumi, like he had hung all the stars in the sky, like he was everything the setter would ever need, like he was the first intake of breath after almost drowning. And it hurt, deep down in all of them, the silent pressure no one wanted to talk about. It seemed to be getting worse and deeper and even more confusing, what with graduation looming so close on the horizon, but still no one wanted to talk about something that profound when they were probably three months away from never seeing each other again.

Why don't you tell him?  , Issei had asked Oikawa one time before.

Oikawa had smiled that way he did, sad and tiny and resigned. I confessed to him two times already, Mattsun. One in my first year and the other in my second year. Third time's not the charm in this situation.

Are you sure you don't love him like that? Hiro had asked Iwaizumi, one night after practice when Tooru had magically left his Iwa-chan alone for more than five minutes in order to talk to the coach about training routines.

Iwaizumi had avoided his eyes. ...I don't know. And Oikawa deserves better than someone who doesn't know.

Hiro had sighed, closed the zipper of his bag. Listen, say what you will, but I think he'd rather have you, who doesn't know, than someone else who does know.

Oikawa and Matsukawa had arrived a few moments after, and that had been that. Makki had leaned against Hajime just to whisper in his ear, You have less than a semester to figure it out. Don't be a coward.

Hiro felt like a hypocrite for saying that, though. Because he was completely unable to walk up to Mattsun, shove him against a wall and say, That time we made out on that party on the end of the semester. Were you drunk? Do you remember any of it? Did you mean any of the things you said to me?

During that party, the two of them had been dancing together, grinding against each other in a way that had long crossed the line of best friends , and Mattsun had turned him around, lifted his head with a finger to his chin, and kissed him in the sweetest, softest, most loving way.

After they'd parted, Makki must've widened his eyes so much, Mattsun had chuckled and pulled him closer by the hips and said, Why do you look so scared? It's just me.

Makki had shaken his head, wrapped his arms around the other's neck and pulled him down for another kiss.

Why are you so scared of telling him?

Why are you so scared of giving it a try?

Why are you so scared to admit it was what you'd wanted for so long?

Why did you look so scared?

They had all of this, and they were all sitting at their usual table, bumping into each other and yelling and laughing, and they were all goddamn cowards.

“Iwa-chan and Mattsun should go get us more sweets!” Oikawa demanded suddenly, raising his head in that way that made him look more like a king than he already was.

“Why us?” Iwaizumi grumbled.

Makki scoffed, nudged Mattsun. “Because you two are the buff, strong men and me and Oikawa clearly play the female role here since he’s the prettiest and my hair is pink. Gender roles, Iwaizumi, it’s all about the gender roles.”

“This is ridiculous. And sexist.” Iwaizumi said, ignoring Oikawa’s cooing of Ah, Makki thinks I’m the prettiest~

Mattsun got up, wallet in hand, and slapped Hajime on the shoulder. “C’mon, Iwaizumi, otherwise they’ll just keep bitching until we do.”

Makki pretended to swoon. "See? So manly. "


As they moved to the cashier, Issei took a second to analyze the length of the line, and deemed it long enough for him to start the dialogue that he needed to start before they went back to their table and he got distracted by something else and school started again and before it was too late.

He took a deep breath, positioned himself at Iwaizumi's side, and stared. It only took five seconds for the other to sigh and turn to him with a deep, frustrated frown.

“I know , okay?" he burst out. "Don’t look at me like that.”

Common knowledge showed that Iwaizumi was always more honest when he was pissed off. Issei decided to play dumb. “What?”

Hajime crossed his arms, stared out of the window. “I’ve seen the way he looks at me." he sounded almost sad now, that kind of sadness that comes with inflicting pain without wanting to in someone you care about. That helpless frustration. "I’m not fucking blind.”

“Then, do something about it.”

“I’m confused, okay?! Look, I was attracted to Oikawa long before he came out, and now that he did I don’t know how to deal with the fact that I-”

“That you still want him, even after he came out as trans?”

Iwaizumi shot him the hardest glare. Mattsun didn’t look away. “What? I’ve seen the way you look at him. I’m not fucking blind either, big boy.”

“It changed everything. It shouldn't have changed anything, to be honest, I've kind of always known, but it changed so much. I don't - I've never - my fucking parents, oh my God, they would kick me out." he buried his face in his hands. "I just need time .”

“Well, we all do, but we don’t have much of that, now, do we?”


As soon as the two boys left the table, Oikawa rested his head in his hand, swirled his stupidly sweet drink with the straw, and said, “So, when are you going to talk to Mattsun?”

Hiro almost choked on his coffee. "Talk about what?"

Oikawa sighed dramatically and flicked his friend’s nose. "Makki, you're pretty enough to be able to successfully play dumb, but please don't make use of that ability now. I saw you two kissing at the party."

"So what? I've kissed you in parties before. It doesn't mean anything."

"I also saw the way you two walked away from the dance floor and spent the rest of the night snuggling and whispering and kissing." Oikawa's lips stretched in a sly, sly smirk. "You never did that to me."

Makki clenched his teeth, took a sip of his coffee. Damn Oikawa for being the meanest sober friend that ever existed and for spending all the parties hovering around and collecting gossip and secrets for himself in order to shove them in everyone's faces the next morning.

"Fine, okay, but he was probably drunk. He probably doesn't even remember it."

Oikawa leaned against him to whisper in his ear, "He drank less than half of a bottle of beer that night. I know that, and you know that."

Makki did know. He hadn't smelled any alcohol when Mattsun had kissed him.



I'm coming over

Their acceptance letters had arrived that morning, and Oikawa had taken his before anyone else in the house could and had darted up the stairs to his room, so he could open it with no annoying family members bumping into each other to read over his shoulder.

And he was in.

He’d gotten in and he’d happily cried so much his pillow was drenched with tears. He was about to go down and shout everyone awake and throw the biggest fucking party when he received Iwaizumi’s text.

In the middle of his ecstatic confusion, he managed to type out a Sure and Did you get in?

I did.

In two different ones.


I’m at the door open up we need to talk


Iwaizumi didn’t say anything on the way up to Oikawa’s bedroom. He said nothing as he waited for Oikawa to close the door behind them. Without so much as a deep breath, he took out two letters from his pockets, opened them and threw them on the bed.

Tooru grabbed the papers and analyzed them. One of them was the acceptance letter sent by the local college Iwaizumi had planned on attending. The other was an exact copy of the one Tooru himself had received, only with Iwaizumi Hajime on top instead of Oikawa Tooru .

Oikawa was speechless as he reread the second one over and over and over. “Iwa-chan -” he stuttered, without words for the first time in his life. “When - when did you - how - why didn’t you tell me, just-”

Iwaizumi sighed, deep and full of so much feeling and confusion and so many questions . “It was…” a whim? No. Not really. More of an instinct, engraved in his very being, to follow Oikawa to the edges of the universe. “I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t actually think I’d get in, but. It happened? And I just. I don’t know, I’m -”

Oikawa jumped forward and grabbed Iwaizumi’s arms, his long fingers wrapping around his biceps with every ounce of the hidden strength the setter had in his body, as if he was trying to keep his best friend by his side through sheer force. Hajime wanted to hush him, to tell him, you don’t have to do anything, I won’t ever leave you. He knew that, had known that since they were kids sharing cereal bowls and watching cartoons, but was only now realizing how deeply that certainty went.

“Will you go? Please, Iwa-chan, please tell me you’ll go with me.” his big brown eyes were hopeful and bright as if they had a light of their own. “I don’t wanna go alone, I’m scared, and it’s such a great college too, and we’d be together, it’d be perfect-”

“I don’t know.” Iwaizumi interrupted, because it would be perfect, it would be great and they would have five more years to stick together and share an apartment and have breakfast together and steal each other’s sweatshirts. But this was senior year and life wasn’t ever that simple. “I want to. But I don’t know if it’s possible. I mean, there’s the whole money thing…”

Oikawa shook his head violently, his grip on his friend's arms tightening. Hajime wondered if he'd leave bruises. “I can take the bigger part of the rent. Hell, we can move in with my sis. She’s invited us before. You can get a job. We can make it work. " I'm not losing you, I'm not leaving you behind , was what he seemed to be repeating over and over underneath his rational words.

"I can't make you any promises, Tooru. I don't want to make it sound like being accepted is all my parents need to let me go."

Tooru's head fell forward, thumping against Hajime's shoulder. His breath was warm, the room was dimly lit, he had nothing but a binder and his favorite sweatshirts on, and Hajime fought back a shiver. "We'll talk to your parents. I'll tell mom and dad and we can all sit together and find a way. Just, promise me you'll try your hardest. You want this as much as I do, don't you?" he didn't raise his eyes, just kept his face buried in Hajime's neck, as if he was afraid of the answer. His fluffy bed head tickled against Iwaizumi's nose. It smelled like vanilla and the soap his mom used on the bed sheets, and like him .

"I do. Of course I do."

Oikawa seemed to calm down a bit with that answer, and scooted back on the bed, legs crossed, facing Hajime directly. "You know," he gave a low chuckle, nervous and small and the kind of laugh that just screamed anxious . "Since I'm not out to our parents yet, we should just tell them we're dating? You know they've been wanting us to get married since I got breasts." another tiny chuckle, even more unsure than the first one. Iwaizumi wanted to reach to him and wipe the anxiety off of his face forever. "They might just throw you on a plane with me if we promise we're going to get engaged as soon as we graduate college."

I just need time.

Well, we all do, but we don’t have much of that, now, do we?

I think he'd rather have you, who doesn't know, than someone else who does know.

I’ve seen the way you look at him.

Iwaizumi took a breath and grabbed Oikawa's beautiful hands from where they were grasping on his sweatpants. Fuck it. "I'm not into fake dating, Oikawa, I'll only accept the real thing."

Oikawa laughed, his voice breaking, his fingers trembling slightly against Hajime's hand. "Wow, Iwa-chan, way to break my sensible heart-"

"What I meant -" he brought Oikawa's hands to his face, nuzzled against them. Soft. So soft. Familiar. As natural as breathing. How had he gotten everything so messed up? Why had he made everything so hard? It was so easy, loving Tooru. It was this; the two of them, legs crossed, on his bed, chatting and feeling each other's warmth while the sun rose. It was this; first-name basis, safety, reassurance, a past and a present culminating in a future. For the two of them. Always for the two of them, since Hajime had taken a volleyball to the face by a shy, pretty neighbor who apologized profusely and gave him a piece of chocolate as a way of saying sorry. It was this; them, and them alone. "What I meant is that I'll date you. But only if it's for real."

The way Oikawa's eyes lit up reminded Hajime of a comet rapidly approaching the atmosphere; bright, inescapable, something out of this world, something that contained more than mere humans could explain, something that changed everything in its path. "Do you mean…?"

"Yes." Iwaizumi smiled softly. "Sorry for taking so long."

Tooru was on top of him in a second, hugging him tightly and pushing him back against the mountain of pillows he kept on his bed. His weight on top of Hajime was a point of contact to reality.

"I didn't mind waiting. You've always been kind of dumb, Iwa-chan." Oikawa murmured against his neck, and Iwaizumi kicked at him lightly, allowing himself to melt to the sound of his best friend's - boyfriend's - sweet laughter.

"You know I got in too, right?" Tooru said a few moments later.

"Of course you did. You're too perfect and overachieving. It's infuriating, to be honest."

"Shut up, you're so mean, oh my God."

"Why are you already insulting me? It has barely been two minutes."

"Consider it punishment for making me pine for the entirety of my high school years."


Hiro and Issei parted the kiss with a shared breath that smelt of alcohol and something more.

"Tell me." Hiro began, in a whisper, breath short, because his courage didn't allow him to go any further than a whisper, any louder than a question. "Why do we only do this when we're drunk?"

Issei moved the half-empty bottle of whiskey to somewhere next to their acceptance letters, with one hand, the other still lingering at Hiro's thigh. His eyes were tired and filled to the brim with something the other boy could not identify. "I'm not drunk."

Laughter bubbled like soda against Hiro's lips, and he shook his head. "We're ridiculous. I'm not drunk either."  

Issei had called his friend in the morning, inviting him to escape the congratulatory family rituals and celebrate their getting in college somewhere else, just the two of them and a bottle of alcohol and too much romantic tension.

Too fucking much.

I also saw the way you two walked away from the dance floor and spent the rest of the night snuggling and whispering and kissing.

"Why do we keep doing this, Hiro? Why do we keep pretending this means nothing?"

Hiro gestured to the acceptance letters with his head, not wanting to move at all so that Issei would keep the soft grip in his thigh. "Because we're weeks away from graduating and you're moving to the other side of the country."

Issei's thumb started caressing Hiro's skin that was uncovered by his shorts. It was an idle gesture, natural. As if they had been doing this for ages. "Do you think it would change anything?"

"It would change everything , Issei."

Issei stopped to think for a few seconds before leaning forward and pressing a soft, close-mouthed kiss to Hiro's lips. They stared at each other, searching for answers neither one could dream of having. " This wouldn't change."

Hiro laughed again, tears prickling at the corner of his eyes. "Do you wanna do this?"

"Do you ?"

The pink-haired boy nodded, warm tears slipping down his cheeks, before sipping at the whiskey again. "God, we're fucked. " he muttered and grabbed at his boyfriend's collar to kiss him as if it was the last thing he would ever do while living.


The night after the graduation ceremony was filled with stars, the grass soft underneath their feet as the four of them walked away from Seijoh's stadium and sat down to enjoy a little bit of silence, a little bit of calm, a little bit of the ending none of them saw coming but had arrived anyway.

Oikawa looked over Iwaizumi's shoulder as he caressed his boyfriend that was propped up in his lap, too tired from the day's festivities. Mattsun and Makki were just beside them, laying down on the grass and clinging to each other as they came up with sexual constellations for the night sky.

As he found out just how soft Makki's smile was in the moonlight, just how peaceful Mattsun's eyes were when he was sleepy, Tooru couldn't stop feeling as if he was leaving something huge behind.

"Don't." Iwaizumi whispered kindly in his ear.


"I know what you're thinking. That this, the four of us, that there should be more to us than just being friends. That we're letting more love get away from us."

Oikawa closed his eyes with a surprised little smile. "Yeah, that's it." Makki was now laughing hard at something Mattsun had said, and Oikawa felt a burning pang of affection - love? - piercing through his chest.

"Don't think so much about things. Enjoy what we all have for now. They won't get away from us so easily, and we're not going to let them go. Wait another four years or so."

Oikawa pressed a kiss to Iwaizumi's cheek and let himself relax. "I don't mind waiting."