Telling people that love was a fragile thing is bullshit. Real love wasn't fragile at all. Real love was tough, and strong, and unlikely to break at all. Real love was something Kageyama had never experienced.
Not that he realized this, he'd always thought love was fragile and the hint of any disruption would completely shatter it. It could be any disruption really. A person getting a new relationship with someone else, some mistake happening that was too big for either parties to accept. It could even be shattered by just being you.
Kageyama was the third.
In middle school, Kageyama found his soulmate, the one he was supposed to be with forever. He had no special tattoo, nothing really happened when one found their soulmate. When you found your soulmate, you both could just feel it.
He felt it the moment he laid eyes on Oikawa Tooru. He felt something, a feeling indescribable, but he felt it, he knew he did. And the moment the brown-eyed boy locked eyes with him, he should've felt it too.
But he didn't even acknowledge it, and just kept walking, laughing and talking surrounded by people.
As much as Kageyama wanted to meet him, he couldn't very well go up to him now, there were too many people. He decided he would talk to Oikawa next time they were alone.
That happened to be in the locker room after practice. Everyone else had already packed up and left, but Oikawa and Kageyama were taking a bit longer, although, Kageyama was taking longer purposely. "Um… Oikawa-senpai?"
Oikawa sighed, "What do you want?"
Kageyama didn't know why exactly but he got the feeling Oikawa didn't want to talk to him.
"So uh, I don't know if you noticed or not…" that was stupid because of course Oikawa had noticed. How could you possibly miss meeting your soulmate. "I'm your soulmate Oikawa-senpai!"
"Well this is just great." Something in Oikawa's tone made Tobio think that whatever Oikawa meant by 'this' it was not great. "You took so long to talk about it I thought you'd missed it. Or you were so dense you didn't understand what it meant. Figures even you aren't that dumb though, Tobio-chan." Oikawa sneered.
"Of course I didn't miss it? How could I not know I met my soulmate?"
"Don't know, but if anyone could do it, you would be the guy." Oikawa sighed dramatically like this was far too much trouble. "Look, Tobio-chan, I don't really want to be your soulmate. Hell I can't think of anyone who would ever possibly want to be your soulmate."
"Oikawa-senpai, what are you talking about?"
Oikawa stalked forward and for some reason Kageyama backed away until he was pressed against the locker, Oikawa's hand placed beside his head, blocking his escape.
Kageyama vaguely registered that he should be feeling scared because after all, older, taller, stronger boys didn't usually trap you somewhere for anything good. But all he could do was stare at Oikawa's big, brown eyes and think that his senpai would never hurt him. "As I said before, I don't want to be your soulmate, I'm not sure how to put it any blunter."
"Don't wanna be my soulmate?" Kageyama frowned. Was that even possible?
Oikawa gave him an annoyed, biting smirk, "Correct. I don't want to be your soulmate. You're nothing but an annoying, bratty kid. Who would ever want you?"
Kageyama felt his heart stop when Oikawa leaned in closer, his next words a hiss, "You're really pathetic, honestly. I could have any person at this school pretty much. Any girl, any guy, and you think I'd want you of all people? An eleven-year-old brat? You've got to be kidding me and yourself. Just leave here and never come back. No one on the team would miss you anyway."
Oikawa's hand slid away and he backed up, blank faced now and went to grab his bag. "In fact," he said stopping at the door, "we'd all be happy if you left."
And with that the door closed with a final click.
Kageyama didn't quit volleyball of course, but he avoided Oikawa at all costs and it wasn't as if Oikawa made the first approach. He never had.
Kageyama's middle school days turned lonely in the blink of an eye. Rumors had always circled around him, he supposed that was what happened to quiet kids. The rumors were never nice, and always resulted in some type of bullying.
No one ever stopped them either, and Kageyama grew accustom to it. Grew accustom to the teasing and hitting and silent treatment. Grew accustom to the laughs, and faces, and torment. It was okay now. He even grew accustom to the constant pain inside his chest.
The pain and emptiness that came from being rejected by a soulmate.
But no one knew he'd been rejected, he had nothing brandishing that shame. And he didn't know if that was better or worse, because no one could hate him for it, but no one could help him with it.
Not that anyone would.
Kageyama didn't expect anything from anyone anymore. Not anything except when it came to volleyball. He poured all of himself into the sport because it was all he had left. No friends, no family, no soulmate. But volleyball. There was no way for it to leave him, not unless he decided to let it go.
The day of the tournament he supposed, was the closest to losing volleyball he'd ever gotten. When he was forced out of the game, when he could no longer play.
He vowed he would never lose volleyball again.
And so junior high ended.
Kageyama was nervous about going to his new school, and his new volleyball team. He had the thin hope that no one would no who he was but that hope was instantly destroyed his first day when the ginger he'd played against in middle school waltzed in and made him lose focus.
He met the rest of the team that day too, and despite kicking him out of the gym for the time being, they seemed pretty nice so far.
So had Oikawa.
He remembered he used to think Oikawa would never hurt him. Now he couldn't help but curse that stupid idiot child who'd thought so. What a fool.
"Come on Bakageyama, what is with your tosses today, they suck!"
"Oh shut up you dumbass, can't I ever have things on my mind!"
"Wait you have a mind? Consider me impressed." Tsukishima said with that stupid smirk of his that got on Kageyama's nerves.
"Stop teasing me!"
"Hinata is right though, Kageyama-chan, your tosses have been a little off which never happens. Is something wrong?" Suga asked.
"I bet he's thinking about some pretty girl who he desperately wishes was his soulmate." Hinata teased lightly, giving Kageyama a mischievous smirk.
"I am not!"
"Come on, Kageyama-kun, you're the only one of us who hasn't found your soulmate yet." Hinata waved his hand, "It'd make sense for you to be thinking about her."
"Ugh, my soulmate isn't a girl you dumbass."
"Fine, then you're thinking about him and who he could be. Bet you were disappointed it wasn't Tsukki."
"What!" Kageyama squeaked at the same time Tsukishima rolled his eyes and looked away. "No, I-that isn't it!"
"Then what is it?"
"I'm not thinking about anything okay you idiot, let's just get back to practice!" Kageyama shouted, way louder than he meant to, and with more anger than he meant to. Now Hinata and everyone else was looking at him strange. "It's nothing, my soulmate doesn't matter." Kageyama finally mumbled after it was clear no one was going to move or say anything until he spoke. His declaration made Hinata raise his eyebrows.
"Doesn't matter? Kageyama a soulmate is your life long buddy!"
"Having one is supposed to give you this complete feeling you never knew you were missing until you have it." Sugawara added.
Kageyama didn't want to have this discussion so he just out and said it, hoping it would make them drop it out of guilt, "Look, I don't want to talk about it. I'll never have that feeling okay, so just stop."
That made everyone pause, "What?" Hinata asked.
"I was rejected a long time ago, okay. I don't want to talk about it."
"Rejected?" Sugawara said, his face a picture of sympathy that Kageyama didn't want, "That must've been so painful."
"Doesn't really matter. It was a long time ago."
"Who is it! I'm gonna kick his ass!" Tanaka growled, clenching his fists.
"His name is Oikawa, that Sei Joh setter, and please do." Kageyama didn't really care anymore that Oikawa had rejected him, but he was still an asshole, and Kageyama wasn't about to be the bigger person. "Did I mention he also said horrible things to me like I was just annoying, and a brat, and everyone would be happy if I left the team." As expected, everyone looked even angrier after that. He'd be lying if he said he wouldn't like to see Oikawa suffer and then beg on his knees for Tobio to come back to him.
Maybe not that last part, Kageyama wasn't sure if he'd be able to break his heart by saying 'no'.
He didn't even know at this point.
"Good info, I'll be back." Tanaka growled.
"How do you even know where he lives? But also me too." Sugawara added and Daichi stared at him like he was crazy. Weren't they supposed to be the responsible ones?
"I don't know where he lives so I'll just have to knock on every single door until we find him."
"Or we could wait till tomorrow morning at Sei Joh for him to show up for morning practice and then jump him at the gate." Sugawara suggested.
"Why do you know more about being a gangster than he does?" Daichi cried. His image of sweet, caring Suga who wouldn't hurt a fly cracking with each word.
"Are you saying you aren't coming?"
"No, I'm coming, just wondering." Daichi said.
"Yeah, I'm gonna beat him up too!" Hinata pumped his fist in the air.
"Oh please, you're going to hide behind Tanaka the entire time, you can't fool me or anyone else." Tsukishima scoffed.
"I'm coming. I want to watch." Kageyama said. He'd hoped telling them about his soulmate would get them to shut up but apparently it just made them want to beat up Oikawa.
This went better than he could've ever hoped for.
The next morning they waited outside Sei Joh while volleyball players piled through the gate, giving them weird looks as they passed.
That was until Oikawa showed up, with no one else in sight.
Sugawara started going up to him first, and Kageyama half expected some kind of bitch slap, but the punch he sent flying towards Oikawa's face actually sounded like it broke Oikawa's nose.
"Hang on, I thought we were just gonna push him around and then tell him to go die and get lost." Tanaka said, a bit of sweat forming on his forehead.
"No. We're here for revenge." Daichi said with a terrifying smile on his face that had them all taking a step back.
"Oikawa-san, so nice to see you. How've you been lately?" Sugawara asked Oikawa who just held his nose and stared up at him in shock. "I'm going to kill you bastard."
"Well that was a complete 180." Hinata commented.
"I thought Sugawara was going to be the one holding me back." Tanaka murmured to Kageyama and Hinata.
"Suga-san is scary." Was all Hinata said in response.
"Why the hell did you break my nose you freak!" Oikawa cried, touching his nose as hot, thick blood ran down his face.
"I'd say I'm sorry but I don't make a habit of saying things I don't mean. And by the way I'm asking the questions right now. So you're going to tell me why the hell you thought you had the right to be such a bitch to Kageyama. Who even says stuff like what you did to a little kid."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Tanaka did have to hold Sugawara back then.
"He's talking about the day you rejected him, rejected your soulmate?" Daichi said. "That's almost unheard of it's so taboo. Especially since people usually find their soulmates young, and kids don't usually think of being so cruel to someone who's supposed to love you for the rest of your life."
"So what? You've come here to beat me up for something that happened three years ago. Give me a break. I didn't know Tobio-chan would be so hung up like this." Oikawa somehow still managed to smirk, his teeth showing menacingly.
"You show me those teeth again and I'll knock them out." Sugawara said. "Tanaka, let me go."
Tanaka slowly did and Suga just stood there, glaring at Oikawa still.
"Don't frown so much, you'll ruin your pretty face with wrinkles." Oikawa teased, and then spat out blood onto the sidewalk. "Now, I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm already late." He said and started walking off.
"Wait." Kageyama said and Oikawa did, turning to look at him.
"Oh? Are you done letting your goons do all the talking for you?"
"Do you still feel the same way as you did then?" Kageyama had to know. They were older now, more mature. Back then, Kageyama recognized he still must've just looked like a kid to Oikawa, maybe he still did. He wasn't sure. Regardless, what Oikawa had said wasn't right, but maybe it had been what was necessary to get it through his thick skull.
That sounded wrong even inside Kageyama's head, but he had to know how he felt now regardless.
"The same way? Do you mean to ask if I still think of you as an annoying brat?"
Kageyama froze and then nodded slightly, a small tilt of his head.
Oikawa was looking at him again with his big brown eyes, just like three years ago. Kageyama knew better than to think he wouldn't hurt him though. Now he knew Oikawa wouldn't hesitate.
Out of all the things he expected, Oikawa laughing was not one of them. "Oh Tobio-chan, of course you're still an annoying brat, though I'll admit I find it more adorable than anything else now. I shouldn't have said the things I did, I was a stupid kid, I'll admit that too. That doesn't mean I didn't mean what I said though. I don't want to be your soulmate."
Kageyama's breath hitched when Oikawa came closer, leaning over him. He was still taller, even after all these years. "I have someone else, Tobio-chan. Someone I already love." His voice turned quieter then, so only Kageyama could hear, "I wish that didn't mean I had to reject you, I'm sure it hurts." It did. It hurt so, so much. "But it isn't my fault how fucked up the system is. And you'll find someone someday. Someone who loves you so much they'll come beat me up just for you. Just like these guys."
Kageyama just stared at him for a long time, "You'll find someone who wishes they'd been born your soulmate, instead of some nameless fucker that broke your heart, right?"
"I'm okay with being the villain in someone else's story, but next time Tobio-chan, actually stop them before they come beat me up." He said with a smirk and roll of the eye.
Then he ruffled Tobio's hair and turned on his heel, into the school through the gates.
Kageyama knew he was right in some ways. The system was fucked up. But what was even more fucked up was that this made Kageyama like Oikawa even more, and made it that much harder to finally let him go.
Are you okay?" Sugawara asked.
Kageyama wasn't much for lying, and he did it terribly, "I will be." He said, instead of the standard 'I'm fine'.
It was like second nature, to always want what you couldn't have, and Kageyama wasn't able to have Oikawa Tooru for as long as he could remember. He didn't have him right now either, and he never would, but what he did have were people who loved him enough to beat that guy up for him.
And for now that was enough. This real, familial love was enough.