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“Iwaizumi-san—”

And it is with the utmost dread that Iwaizumi realizes he recognizes this tone of voice. He looks at Kunimi, mere gaze silencing the underclassmen. He knows this tone. He knows this as the please help me because Hanamaki-san and Matsukawa-san are using me as the messenger and I have nothing to do with this tone.

So with that, he frowns.

“Absolutely not,” Iwaizumi says before Kunimi can manage to finish his sentence. He looks at Kunimi’s placid expression before returning his attention to his notebook, much too focused on scribbling down last minute notes in an attempt to prepare for a quiz coming up next class.

“But,” Kunimi tries again faintly, “I didn’t even—”

“No.” With finality, Iwaizumi sets his pen down, tearing his gaze away from his notes to stare plainly, expectantly, sternly at Kunimi. Unfortunately, Kunimi seems less than fazed, neutral expression plastered on his face as he patiently waits for Iwaizumi to give in.

“Iwaizumi-san,” Kunimi states mildly.

Iwaizumi sighs. “What,” he demands, not because he’s soft on his kouhai or actually admitting defeat but because he might as well take a break from his notes anyway since the lines are starting to blur—and maybe because he’s a damn good person who humors his friends too.

He doesn’t really know what to expect. University has been hassling and he isn’t sure how his friends still manage to make his life the closest thing to an untamable hell but he’s grown wiser in his years in school. Iwaizumi has learned to stop underestimating the joint efforts of Hanamaki and Matsukawa when it comes to Project: Cause Iwaizumi Hajime Grief.

Last time, Hanamaki had cornered him in the library to announce that he had taken the liberty to sign Iwaizumi up for salsa classes to liven up his bachelor’s lifestyle all while simultaneously offering Iwaizumi the chance to seduce not just one, but all of the common people. Unsurprisingly, salsa was the furthest thing from Iwaizumi’s forte and he spent a week nursing a sprained ankle all while looking into the legitimacy of voodoo dolls with startlingly pink hair.

The time before that, Matsukawa had (after undoubtedly losing a game of rock-paper-scissors with Hanamaki) plainly announced something about how hot yoga was the trend these days and Iwaizumi happened to be the sole recipient of a month’s worth of free classes. There isn’t much to say about that one except—Iwaizumi shudders—never again.

He isn’t anticipating anything good. He’s had his dignity and pride bent in all of the wrong places—he’s had to hold back what he thinks might have amounted to tears while watching middle-aged women effortlessly touch their toes. Iwaizumi doesn’t think things could get much worse.

“Have you heard of the Grand Cupid?” Kunimi asks, seating himself in the spare library cubicle next to Iwaizumi’s. There is a twinkle in his eye that is, frankly put, terrifying, and Iwaizumi is strongly second-guessing his decisions to a.) not ignore Kunimi, and b.) leave Kunimi unsupervised in the presence of Hanamaki and Matsukawa.

“No?” Iwaizumi replies hesitantly, and it isn’t supposed to sound like a fearful question but it comes out that way before Iwaizumi can stop himself, steel himself, salvage his dignity. He narrows his eyes after regaining half of his resolve. “Why?”

“Oh,” Kunimi says pleasantly. He is smiling, and Iwaizumi has never once felt so unsure of a smile.

“Spit it out, Kunimi,” Iwaizumi grits out, thoroughly aggravated by how quickly he’s relented. He’s thoroughly regretting this now because while he would like to applaud Kunimi on his improvements in facial cues, the smile on his face is far from comforting.

“Ah, well,” Kunimi starts, looking what Iwaizumi thinks would be a very debatable synonym of smug. “The Grand Cupid is a well-known campus matchmaker.”

“Who was it?” Iwaizumi demands quickly instead of giving Kunimi the time to elaborate. “Was it Matsukawa? I’ll make him regret it. Was it Hanamaki? I’ll destroy hi—”

“He’s usually booked, Iwaizumi,” Hanamaki announces from behind. Iwaizumi nearly jumps in his seat and when he turns around, there’s an amused glint in Hanamaki’s eyes that is really just infuriatingly annoying and also a little too terrifying. “We worked hard—lots of teamwork—to get you an appointment. Free of charge, too.”

“Come closer so I can thank you properly,” Iwaizumi says, eye twitching as he rolls his sleeve up to properly punch Hanamaki in the gut.

“The Grand Cupid made a guarantee that he’d find you the person of your dreams and wouldn’t rest until you scored a first and second date,” Hanamaki continues, effortlessly and tactfully ignoring Iwaizumi like the shithead he really is. “Tomorrow at noon. You’re free, right?”

“Of course he’s free,” Matsukawa chimes in, virtually out of nowhere, as he appears from Iwaizumi’s other side. “What have you been up to, Iwaizumi? Aside from hiding in that hermit shell of yours and wasting hot yoga classes, that is.”

“I hate you,” Iwaizumi announces mildly.

“Cute,” Matsukawa says fondly. “You can work out your schedule with him tomorrow. It’ll be a good experience. Lots of fun stuff for you to focus on instead of devoting your youth to studying.” Matsukawa says the word with such disdain that Iwaizumi almost kicks him down right then and there because he already has good grades, so no shit he doesn’t have to study.

“Yeah—no.” Iwaizumi glowers purposefully before angling his body away from the three to focus on his notes once more. “Bother Oikawa about this. Isn’t this right up his alley?”

“Well,” Kunimi starts, though he stops himself abruptly.

“Maybe when Kindaichi flies and Kunimi joins the basketball team,” Iwaizumi grumbles, scoffing to himself before uncapping his pen.

Hanamaki hums pensively and that alone is enough to make Iwaizumi regret every single one of his words. Next to him, Kunimi sighs with feeling as he rises from his seat and mumbles something along the lines of “maybe my roommate has basketball shorts.”

“Bye, Iwaizumi.” Hanamaki bids farewell with an easy smile.

“We’ll see you,” Matsukawa says as well.

“Bye,” Kunimi parrots, expression blank as he purses his lips, shooting a pointed look in Hanamaki’s direction.

Iwaizumi does not look up for two reason: a.) because he is terrified of the expression Hanamaki might be wearing and b.) because he has a shit track record when it comes to staring contests with Kunimi and he isn’t sure if he’s in the mood to let the younger boy stare into the deepest, darkest corners of his soul.

He mumbles something noncommittally and scowls when his ink smudges.

-

“This is a joke,” Iwaizumi finds himself stating instead of inquiring. “This is a fucking joke.”

“Jokes are funny,” Hanamaki corrects thoughtfully. “This isn’t funny. This is reality.”

“Reality could be a joke,” Kunimi suggests with a shrug.

“Oh, Kunimi,” Matsukawa says, wearing an expression of feigned affection. “You are much too young to be jaded and disillusioned by the world.”

“Haha,” Kindaichi murmurs faintly.

They’re standing on the rooftop of the humanities building—Hanamaki, Matsukawa, Kunimi, Kindaichi, and himself. Iwaizumi is not the smartest guy in the world but he is not foolish enough to dutifully ignore the fact that what’s about to happen is going to be something he regrets thirty years into his life.

“Reality,” Iwaizumi repeats dully.

“Can we speed this up?” Kunimi asks flatly from the sidelines. “I have to go to basketball practice,” he concludes, staring expectantly at the orange ball clutched in his hands. He looks so out of place in his jersey, baggy athletic shorts, and multiple sweatbands that Iwaizumi almost sighs.

But really, nothing can top how out of place Kindaichi looks with his makeshift cardboard wings, brutally duct-taped to his clothed arms. He looks, well, terrified, but serene at the same time—like he’s come to terms with how inevitable it is that he’ll get roped into terrible schemes like this one.

“This is a fucking joke,” Iwaizumi repeats, because he’s pretty positive no one is actually listening to him.

Matsukawa peers over the ledge, expression as easy as always as he hops back onto solid ground. He points to the mathematics building, just next door. “You just have to fly to that one, Kindaichi,” he says easily, like it’s a very feasible thing to accomplish. “Well, it’s now or never.”

Kindaichi flaps his cardboard wings purposefully.

“Hopefully he flies,” Hanamaki murmurs, stroking his chin pensively. “I worked hard on those wings.” And Iwaizumi feels very compelled to march right up to the dean of the engineering department to address the problem student that is Hanamaki Takahiro because the wings look like shit—literally like mismatched, torn pieces of cardboard stolen from the recycling bin.

“Basketball practice is in five minutes,” Kunimi announces.

This entire situation is completely ridiculous and Iwaizumi is two seconds away from calling Oikawa to demand he out-ridiculous their ridiculous so Iwaizumi can suffer from a manageable headache instead of… whatever the hell this is. He grits his teeth, clamping his eyes shut in muted agony as he sifts a hand through his hair roughly. He has notes to be reviewed and okay, yeah, maybe he has the weekend for that but he’d rather be cringing at complicated material than at—

“Countdown?” Kindaichi asks, gazing at the math building in what Iwaizumi thinks might be, to his horror, determination.

“Let’s count down from ten,” Hanamaki says.

“Five,” Kunimi amends. He gestures to the basketball cradles in his arms. “Make it quick, please.”

“Five,” Matsukawa agrees, patting Hanamaki on the shoulder encouragingly. “Fly, my bird.”

“Yeah,” Kindaichi replies, swallowing thickly when Hanamaki looks at him expectantly. “Chirp.”

Iwaizumi groans.

“Five,” Kunimi starts, “four…”

“Three,” Hanamaki continues.”

“Two,” says Matsukawa.

“Tomorrow at noon?” Iwaizumi finds himself saying loudly, one hand already massaging his forehead, trying to coax the headache out of his skull. “Where am I meeting this guy?”

Hanamaki looks mildly disappointed, like he legitimately thought his wings were foolproof and that he might be able to see Kindaichi fly. It’s a matter concerning in its own respect considering Hanamaki actually has received accolades within the engineering department for other, likely more complicated things, but Iwaizumi doesn’t even have the strength to call him out on it, which speaks volumes on his current state of mind.

“The Grand Cupid will meet you at the coffee shop down the street from your apartment building,” Matsukawa replies a little too readily.

Iwaizumi squints, parts his lips to say something snide, something bitter, but Kindaichi is looking at him like he’s mildly grateful that he doesn’t actually have to test out these bullshit wings. So Iwaizumi sighs instead because in a roundabout way, he supposes he saved someone from danger that he’s pretty sure wasn’t an actual concern in the first place.

“Hm,” Hanamaki says, contemplative.

“Don’t,” Iwaizumi hisses, reaching over to tear one wing free from Kindaichi’s arm. “No flying.”

Kunimi yanks off the sweatbands around his wrists with gusto.

Iwaizumi sighs as Matsukawa and Hanamaki come in from both sides to bump his shoulders wickedly. He isn’t sure how this always happens but he makes a mental note to schedule in a noon meeting in his planner when he gets back home.

“I hate you guys,” he declares, less to the group and more to a god that he thinks really doesn’t exist anymore.

“Cute,” Matsukawa says.

-

“Iwa-chan, you’re going on a date?” Oikawa gasps.

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi grits out a little too quickly, and then, upon realizing his annoyance is misguided: “It’s not a date.”

“A real life date!” Oikawa continues, because as Iwaizumi’s best friend, he’s most certainly the pinnacle of understanding, the model of attentive, and the definition of active listener.

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi repeats, this time finding that his irritation is definitely being channeled in the right direction.

There is an awestruck expression on Oikawa’s face as he flops over onto their couch. “I’m so shocked,” he says, peering up at Iwaizumi from the cushions. “Are you going dressed like that?”

Iwaizumi frowns. “Dressed like what?”

Not dressed to impress!” Oikawa mirrors Iwaizumi’s frown, scrabbling to sit up properly. He crosses his arms and his legs, looking Iwaizumi up and down. “Can’t you ask Daichi-chan to lend you some acceptable clothing?”

“Stop bothering my roommate,” Iwaizumi says with a sigh.

“You’re right,” Oikawa replies. “Daichi-chan kind of has a similarly boorish sense of style.”

Oikawa.”

Oikawa hums, tapping his chin contemplatively with his index finger. “You shouldn’t be afraid of color, Iwa-chan,” he says brightly, beaming as he rocks back and forth in his seat. “I’m sure a nice blue would bring out the wrinkles between your eyebrows wonderfully!”

Iwaizumi does not waste any time in throwing a jacket over Oikawa’s head.

“Iwa-chan! Covering my face doesn’t make my beauty disappear! Object permanence should be a learned trait by—are you ignoring me?” Oikawa huffs, pulling the jacket from his head and watching as Iwaizumi pointedly pays attention to everything but Oikawa.

“Don’t you have things to do?” Iwaizumi asks while zipping up his bag. “Fans to blow kisses to, people to annoy—”

“Not annoy, Iwa-chan. It’s like community service, gracing the people with my presence!”

“Right,” Iwaizumi echoes. “What a Samaritan you are, Shittykawa.”

Oikawa offers a humble peace sign before swinging his legs over the couch to stand himself up. “I have to go anyway! You’re meeting up with your date at the coffee shop down the street, right? I’m headed there too.” He shrugs on the jacket Iwaizumi had thrown at him prior. “I’ll walk you.”

“What am I, your dog?”

Oikawa stands by the door, slipping on his shoes, and tactfully chooses not to respond.

“Maybe more like… a lion?” Oikawa purses his lips. “Or like, a warthog, mayb—AAAAAH, IWA-CHAN! LET GO OF MY FACE!”

-

By the time they get to the coffee shop, Iwaizumi is ten minutes early. It’s not a huge issue; he prefers being early to being late and he doesn’t mind waiting. He does, however, mind waiting when it’s with Oikawa, who looks particularly keen on staying and meeting Iwaizumi’s not-date.

“Why are you still here?” Iwaizumi asks plainly, staring at Oikawa from across the two-person table.

“Supervising,” Oikawa says. “I’m looking out for you, Iwa-chan! I’m a very good friend!”

“Stellar.” Iwaizumi stares at the plastic lid of his coffee cup. “Are you meeting up with someone or what?”

“Yeah,” Oikawa replies. He glances at the time on his phone and sinks back into his seat. “They won’t be here till noon.”

“Another date?” Iwaizumi asks aloud, and he tries not to make the question seem as awkward as he thinks it sounds in his head. He fathoms a glance in Oikawa’s general direction, maintaining as neutral an expression as possible.

Oikawa shrugs his shoulders. “No,” he says. “Why? Are you jealous, Iwa-chan? Jealous that someone might whisk your charming and talented best fri—”

“Anyway,” Iwaizumi interjects loudly, “it’s almost noon so you should move and stop being annoying.”

“But Iwa-chan,” Oikawa complains with a look of feigned devastation.

“No buts,” says Iwaizumi.

Oikawa leans forward, resting his chin on the tabletop and peering up at Iwaizumi with wide eyes. “Aren’t you waiting for the Grand Cupid?” he asks with a wide smile that crinkles his eyes.

There is a sudden lurch at the base of Iwaizumi’s stomach.

“Yeah,” he responds faintly, suspiciously, narrowing his eyes as Oikawa smiles pleasantly at him. “What about him?”

“Well,” Oikawa begins, sitting up straight again and crossing his arms against his chest, “Aren’t you curious about who this illustrious matchmaker is?”

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi says, in warning.

There’s a five second silence as Oikawa peers at Iwaizumi, hardly budging before he reaches into his wallet to procure a single bright red business card. He slides it across the table until it’s sitting there, glaringly bright, obnoxiously real, and staring Iwaizumi right in the eye.

THE GRAND CUPID
OIKAWA TOORU
CAMPUS MATCHMAKER

“You’re kidding me,” says Iwaizumi, maybe to the skies, or to the birds flying free outside while he’s trapped in what he thinks might be his new personal hell. “Tell me you’re kidding, Shittykawa.”

“I don’t kid.”

Iwaizumi stares, incredulous.

“Okay, I kid a little! But this is my not kidding face,” Oikawa explains yieldingly, busying himself with unzipping his own bag to pull out a variety of folders and binders. “You have to understand, Iwa-chan! I’m a very busy guy but Makki and Mattsun were so worried about your love life, and I mean! Me too! So I’m making a very big exception for you because Kunimi-chan was so cute when h—Iwa-chan? Iwa-chan! Why are you putting your jacket back on?!”

“I’m leaving,” Iwaizumi announces, contemplating what suitable punishment to deal upon his supposed best friends. He should have known, honestly. His grasp on campus trends and the rumor mill is hardly commendable but he should have known Oikawa was involved in one way or another. “I was only going to meet up with the Grand Cupid or whatever to tell him I didn’t need his help and now that I know it’s you, I really don’t need your help.”

Oikawa all but clings to Iwaizumi’s arm before he has the chance to walk by, keeping him in place with much futility. “Iwa-chan!” he whines out. “You haven’t even given it a chance yet! My success rate is very high, you know.”

“Forget it,” says Iwaizumi.

“Sit down or I’m calling your mother and telling her you still won’t eat your tomatoes!” Oikawa threatens.

There is a long silence as Iwaizumi stares at Oikawa incredulously.

He sits back down.

“Ha,” Oikawa gloats.

“I’ll give you ten minutes,” Iwaizumi replies resolutely, and while he is definitely not still afraid of his mother (haha), he figures that as a good friend, he can spare ten minutes to listen to Oikawa’s ridiculous ideas.

“All you have to do is fill this out,” Oikawa explains, handing Iwaizumi what looks like a questionnaire. “I’ve matched up a lot of people! Most of them are still dating and my success rate and rate of approval is very high.”

“Congratulations,” Iwaizumi says flatly, setting the paper back down on the table.

“Like, Tetsu-chan and Refreshing-kun!”

“Refreshing-kun—Sugawara? The guy Hanamaki was dating?”

“Oh,” says Oikawa, clearing his throat. “Well sometimes I have to match people twice! But second time’s always the charm.”

Iwaizumi snorts. “Convincing.”

“Makki is a different story but this isn’t Makki’s time, Iwa-chan! This is the Iwa-chan show, the Iwa-chan hour! Let’s talk about you and your sad, lonely, love life!”

“I’m not lonely.”

“You’re so lonely these days, aren’t you, Iwa-chan? So lonely!”

I’m not lonely.

“As your best friend,” Oikawa continues, ever the master of ignoring Iwaizumi’s feeble protests, “I think it’s my responsibility tenfold to make sure you’re making the most of your university career. You trust me, don’t you? I’ve never led you astray before or anything and please don’t correct me, this is not an issue open for debate.”

“Yeah, I trust you,” Iwaizumi says flatly.

“So let me do this,” Oikawa insists with a sobered smile. “There’s nothing to lose, is there? Maybe you’ll even get set up with someone wonderful like me.”

“Seriously?” Iwaizumi sighs. He doesn’t want to give in to Oikawa’s annoying demands and he doesn’t particularly want to think about romance or dating or anything along those lines when he can’t even make sense of his feelings beyond textbooks and homework questions he can’t solve as of late. Oikawa is looking at him expectantly though—the expression he wears when he really wants something and Iwaizumi. Just. Sighs. “Fine.”

Oikawa sparkles.

“I’ll do it as long as you make sure that doesn’t happen.”

There is an added brightness to Oikawa’s features that almost makes Iwaizumi’s surrender rewarding.

“Leave it to Oikawa-san!” Oikawa declares proudly. “But Iwa-chan, don’t you think you’re aiming a little too high if you’re trying to get someone better than me? I’m a little offended I’m not enough! Are you playing hard-to-get?”

“Don’t make me take it back,” Iwaizumi warns.

“So coy, so coy.”

Iwaizumi only rolls his eyes, sinking back in his seat all while contemplating the crumble of his steel resolve these days. “I need new friends,” he mutters with another sigh.

“I’m irreplaceable,” Oikawa says absentmindedly, scribbling away at a handout he’s pulled free from the confines of one of his binders. “The time period for returns has kind of been expired for years now, Iwa-chan. It’s too late to try to ditch me.”

“Great,” Iwaizumi says with a roll of his eyes, hardly malicious as his gaze flickers from a light fixture to Oikawa’s face, concentrated on the paper before him. “Remember when you made me sign that contract in elementary school to be your best friend forever?”

Oikawa lifts his head immediately, looking betrayed by the fact that Iwaizumi is carelessly bringing up the marginally more embarrassing parts of Oikawa’s childhood. “I was doing you a favor,” Oikawa states primly.

“Uh-huh.”

“Fill out the questionnaire, you big bully!”

With a flourish, Iwaizumi picks up the pen that Oikawa proceeds to toss at him from a fold in his sweater and uncaps it, tapping it against the table all while glimpsing over the questionnaire.

“This is pretty thorough,” Iwaizumi comments, gaze lingering on How many times have you been in a relationship? before jumping to (OPTIONAL) Are you a virgin? “How did I never know you were doing shady business under wraps?”

“Love is not a shady business, Iwa-chan!”

“Oikawa Tooru, Playing God on Campus,” Iwaizumi recites aloud, panning his hand across the air in front of him for dramatic effect. “Should I join the school newspaper and give them something to talk about?”

“You’re such a bad sport!” Oikawa huffs, frowning childishly and blowing his bangs out of his eyes. He reaches over the table to take a look at Iwaizumi’s entirely blank questionnaire and looks even more unimpressed than he was two seconds prior. “Cooperate with me, please~”

Iwaizumi spins his pen once before propping his elbow up on the table, resting his chin against an open palm.

"I have class," he announces. "I wasn't planning on staying for the whole meeting and the Grand Cupid being an idiot like you doesn't change that plan." With that, he slides the questionnaire over to Oikawa. "Don't you know me anyway?"

Oikawa sulks, lower lip jutting out as he spins the paper around so he can read it properly. "You're right, Iwa-chan!" he chimes with a vigorous nod of his head, poising his pen against the paper. "How many relationships has Iwa-chan been in? Negative ten."

"Oi."

"You're right," Oikawa says apologetically. "Negative twenty."

"I'm glad that years of friendship and having to hold your hand for your formative years has culminated in this very stable working knowledge you have of me," Iwaizumi states, voice flat and borderline robotic as he kicks Oikawa’s shoe with his own.

"I agree," says Oikawa with a dazzling smile. "Anyway, back to more important stuff. What does Iwa-chan find most important in a significant other? Well, that's easy. They have to eat your tomatoes!"

"I'm leaving," Iwaizumi announces before he feels swayed into staying just to protest the bullshit answers Oikawa is undoubtedly going to hold him to. He secures the strap of his backup over his shoulder and shoots a warning glance in Oikawa's direction.

"Iwa-chan, you're a little too young to have premature wrinkles! Stop frowning like that!" Oikawa pauses. "What are Iwa-chan's weaknesses? Face... wrinkles..."

"I'm leaving," Iwaizumi says once more, resolutely. "You're having too much fun with this, Shittykawa."

"I always have fun," Oikawa replies evenly. "Have a good class, Iwa-chan. Don't get too distracted during lecture thinking of me."

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes and knocks Oikawa's head lightly as he walks past. "Don't be gross."

The door to the coffee shop closes behind him just as he catches the lingering cadence of Oikawa's voice calling out: "I'm not gross!"

-

By the time Iwaizumi exits his last lecture of the day, he finds that his phone has accumulated—in a limited fifty-five minute time frame—a grand total of sixteen text messages and four missed calls. Almost all of them are from Oikawa, save for a single call from his mother likely asking him if he's doing his laundry and separating his whites from his colors like he's supposed to.

The remaining sixteen messages and three missed calls are logged under IDIOT TOORU and with much futility, Iwaizumi brings himself to look over them.

Unsurprisingly, the text messages are hardly substantive, filled with mostly exclamation points and broken and disjointed Iwa-chaaaaaaaaaaaaans.

He's on autopilot as he dials Oikawa back, wedging his phone between his shoulder and his ear while he tries to shove a smattering of library books into an already crammed backpack.

"Iwa-chan!" Oikawa greets shrilly.

"What," Iwaizumi responds. "Why are you being so loud off the bat?"

"I—oh! No, no, that's quite alright, Dai-chan. I'm very used to waiting on Iwa-chan," Oikawa says offhandedly, very clearly occupied in real time with someone that isn't Iwaizumi.

"Are you at my place?" Iwaizumi demands, when he manages to hear what he's pretty sure is Daichi's voice in the background.

"Yes," Oikawa replies, shameless and brazen. "Dai-chan let me in because you stopped hiding your key under your doormat!"

He lost the key, Iwaizumi decides not to tell Oikawa, if only because he doesn't want to admit that the missing key is a self-induced problem.

"Why are you at my place?"

"I finished your matching!" Oikawa announces brightly. "And—haha! You're right, Dai-chan! Iwa-chan does look kind of like a gorilla in that picture, huh? I personally think he does a lot of the time but it's hard to tell him the truth when he's so scary!"

"Oikawa," Iwaizumi says gravely.

"Iwa-chan, please be a little more polite. I'm having a very nice conversation with Dai-chan and—"

"Do you want to die?"

Oikawa clears his throat purposefully. "An~yway! Like I was saying, I finished your matching."

"Matching?" Iwaizumi repeats, too disillusioned by the lingering damage his Biostatistics class dealt on him just moments prior.

"This is where chapter one of your story starts, Iwa-chan," Oikawa says impatiently. "I have a couple of options for you so hurry home! It's time to schedule the first date!"

"Oh."

He remembers now, the afternoon at the coffee shop hitting him in a rush. Iwaizumi almost sighs but he manages to hold it back, using his free hand to massage his temple briefly. It seemed simple when Oikawa explained it to him earlier but he's feeling the familiar thrum of regret again. He's already busy enough with school and there's no room for trying to explore the prospect of like and love when Iwaizumi's romantic bone count is null.

"Yeah," Iwaizumi says a beat later. "Can't wait."

"Sound a little more excited! This is a big step!" Oikawa chatters animatedly.

He wants to point out that Oikawa has hardly any room to talk considering he hasn't been able to keep a stable relationship for longer than a month yet. Respectably and politely, ever the modicum of composure, Iwaizumi holds his tongue.

"Yay," he forces out instead.

"That's more like it!"

His first step in the general direction of his apartment building is heavy and Iwaizumi wonders to himself how much he's going to regret this in a week.

Oikawa sends a text as soon as Iwaizumi hangs up and all it contains is an excessive amount of hearts and winking faces.

Iwaizumi looks to the sky and realizes his answer is, in two simple words: A Lot.

-

By some stroke of luck, he manages to run into Daichi right outside of their apartment building.

"Leaving?" Iwaizumi asks aloud.

"Study session for Econ," Daichi says, heaving a sigh. "Ah, Oikawa's in your room. He said he'd be fine on his own but I think he might fall asleep if you leave him unsupervised for too long." There's a grin on Daichi's face that Iwaizumi scowls at, in good humor.

"Yeah," Iwaizumi replies with a wave of his hand. "He's trying to rope me into another terrible idea."

"The matchmaking thing, right?" Daichi asks. He shrugs sheepishly when Iwaizumi stares at him, dead-eyed. "Oikawa sure talks a lot."

"Thought you'd be used to it by now," Iwaizumi says with a snort.

There's an unreadable glint in Daichi's eyes as he hums. "I'm a little surprised you agreed to go through with it," he says honestly.

"That makes two of us," Iwaizumi grumbles.

"I guess all things considered I kind of thought you already had someone you liked," Daichi explains with another laugh.

Iwaizumi blinks. "Me?" He shakes his head, jamming his free hand into the pocket of his pants. "I'm bad at that kind of stuff," he admits, as explanation.

"Yeah, I figured that much too," Daichi replies. "Anyway, good luck and I hope you find someone you love."

"Don't joke," Iwaizumi warns.

"I would never joke about my roommate's blossoming love life." Daichi has the decency to look mildly offended as he punches Iwaizumi's shoulder gently. "Good luck though, seriously. Oh, and I submitted a request to the landlord about your bedroom lock. Hopefully they'll fix it soon!"

"Yeah, thanks. And good luck with Econ," Iwaizumi says, nodding his head once before lifting a hand in farewell and making his way into the building itself.

Daichi's words linger on Iwaizumi's mind briefly. He's not a very expressive person on the regular and even when he is, it's hardly about romantic things or concepts. Iwaizumi purses his lips, thoughtful, as he tries to bring to mind the last person he had a genuine crush on (to no avail, because the only one he remembers is Oikawa, at the age of twelve).

He brushes it off. There's no reason to pore over something that isn't the truth anyway.

"Oikawa?" Iwaizumi calls out as he makes his way into his apartment, shuffling his shoes off and slipping into a pair of house slippers—the tattered blue ones, he notices, because Oikawa is undoubtedly wearing the brown ones with bears drawn all over them.

From the hallway, he can hear Oikawa humming from Iwaizumi's bedroom and Iwaizumi does not waste his breath on a second greeting before opening his door. Oikawa is sprawled out on his bed, stomach pressed to the mattress and legs bent, shins rocking in the air as he flips through a sports magazine.

"You're late," Oikawa announces, not even bothering to lift his head in greeting.

"And you weren't invited," Iwaizumi retorts with a scoff, tossing his bag onto his desk chair and reaching for the t-shirt and basketball shorts hanging limply over the armrest. "You told Daichi about the matchmaking thing? I thought it was like a secret job of yours."

"It's not," Oikawa says, flipping over so he's on his back, arms outstretched before his face with the magazine gripped in his two hands. "I would tell Dai-chan even if it were. He seems very dependable."

"Yeah, he is," Iwaizumi agrees, barely paying attention as he changes into his stay-at-home attire. "How long have you been waiting?"

"Thirty minutes?" Oikawa replies, alternating position again so he's lying on his stomach. "No, wait, three hours! Three long hours of waiting for Iwa-chan, as always."

"Don't change your answer, dumbass." Iwaizumi rolls his eyes, tossing his attire for the day into the laundry hamper before flopping over onto the bed, strategically landing on his back, right on top of Oikawa's torso. "You were so excited about the matches. What gives?"

"You're the one who made me wait," Oikawa complains with a huff, squirming momentarily under Iwaizumi's weight before relaxing again. "Oho! What's this? Iwa-chan, don't tell me you were... anticipating?"

"Shut up." Iwaizumi sighs once more, folding his hand on his stomach and closing his eyes. "Gonna talk or what? Here to hog my bed instead?"

"I'm great at multi-tasking," Oikawa announces, and Iwaizumi doesn't have to look at him to know he's grinning. "Anyway, since you're so eager to know!"

"Ugh," says Iwaizumi, with feeling. He's courteous enough to re-position himself so he's no longer using Oikawa's back as his pillow. He rests his head by Oikawa's shoulder instead.

"It was kind of hard finding your matches, actually," Oikawa begins, tossing the magazine to the side and stretching his arms out instead. He gestures fluidly, expressive as ever as he begins his likely lengthy explanation. "Since I know Iwa-chan best, I was pretty confident about who you'd enjoy spending time with! But it ended up being harder because obviously, I want the best!"

Iwaizumi clicks his tongue but doesn't say anything.

"I had a really long list at first... Dai-chan was on it... Refreshing-kun... Even Makki and Mattsun..."

"What?" Iwaizumi says, angling his neck so he can look at Oikawa. "My roommate? Our best friends?"

"Shh." Oikawa presses a finger to Iwaizumi's lips patronizingly. "Obviously I thought that'd be weird for you! And plus, Refreshing-kun already got matched with Tetsu-chan."

"Thank god." He can barely keep track of all of the nicknames Oikawa's reciting out of thin air but, as always, Iwaizumi manages to keep up one way or another.

"There are plenty of cute people left though! No worries, Iwa-chan!"

"Great," Iwaizumi says, staring plainly up at his ceiling. "I was getting worried," he adds, before Oikawa can complain about his lack of enthusiasm.

Oikawa glances at his phone screen. "Ennoshita Chikara! Have you heard this name?"

"Yeah, I think so," Iwaizumi replies. "The guy who does films? He's friends with Yahaba, isn't he?"

"Mhm! And then we have... Ushiwaka-chan, though he's not a personal favorite. I think you could do better, but you might have fun talking about cacti."

"Cacti?" Iwaizumi repeats.

Oikawa nods, sticking his tongue out past the corner of his lips. "Ushiwaka-chan is really fond of plants so maybe Iwa-chan will remind him of a cute cactus?"

Iwaizumi jabs Oikawa's side, unforgiving.

"It's a shame! I really thought Refreshing-kun would be good for you! He's very agreeable," Oikawa says fondly, tapping his chin. "Makki was matched with him once but I think they only went on one date before I matched Refreshing-kun with Tetsu-chan."

"Hanamaki did this too?"

"Makki and Mattsun both did," Oikawa corrects. "You know, I would have matched them together but Makki asked me not to last minute."

"That's weird," Iwaizumi comments agreeably. "Hey, don't you have client confidentiality agreements or anything? What if Hanamaki sues you for divulging this information?"

"Then Iwa-chan will have to protect me," Oikawa replies easily, though Iwaizumi highly doubts Oikawa's practice is as legally strict as other, more official, self-run businesses. "They would have been good together," he says earnestly, a beat later. "I think Makki was a little afraid."

"I'd be afraid too," Iwaizumi decides.

He's being genuine, for the most part. It'd be kind of alarming being notified of high compatibility with a best friend and Iwaizumi can't really blame Hanamaki for inching away instead of forward. They act the same for the most part—Hanamaki and Matsukawa have hardly acted out of character within the past few months; Iwaizumi can only figure that it's because they're fine with being friends above anything else.

Oikawa is quiet. "Really?"

"Wouldn't you be scared?" Iwaizumi stifles a small yawn. "Thinking about your friends beyond friendships is kind of scary in itself. Blurring the lines is kind of scary too."

"Blurring the lines," Oikawa echoes.

"Yeah, I mean, if you told me we were actually compatible, that'd kind of throw me off," Iwaizumi continues. "Because—you're my best friend, unfortunately, and if it came down to it, you'd probably understand me the most out of everyone but a relationship isn't worth risking an actual friendship for."

He's rambling at this point and Iwaizumi only realizes belatedly that Oikawa hasn't chipped in to say something annoying or cheeky.

"Did I say something weird?"

"Huh?" Oikawa squirms a little in his position, angling his head so he can grin in Iwaizumi's direction. "Iwa-chan, I didn't know you thought so deeply about our friendship~"

Iwaizumi scowls almost immediately. "Don't flatter yourself, asshole."

They lapse into silence and though it’s brief, Iwaizumi hasn’t spent ten plus years being Oikawa’s friend to neglect that this silence is heavy.

“Oi,” Iwaizumi says gruffly.

“Oh,” Oikawa says a second later. “Sorry, sorry. I keep drifting.” He turns again so he’s on his back now, shoulder-to-shoulder with Iwaizumi, just an inch of space between them. “So anyway, there’s Ennoshita Chikara, Ushiwaka-chan… Oh! And you know Tobio-chan too, don’t you? He’s friends with Kunimi and Kindaichi and that Chibi-chan who knocked you over in the library once. Ah! And—” A little too abruptly, Oikawa cuts himself off. “That’s it.”

Iwaizumi turns his head. “And?” he repeats instead.

“That’s it,” Oikawa repeats, pursing his lips thoughtfully. “Don’t tell me you’re disappointed, Iwa-chan! I worked so hard to get you a nice list!”

That’s not it, and Iwaizumi can tell. He doesn’t push Oikawa though, choosing instead to redirect his gaze to the ceiling, closing his eyes a moment after. “I’m not,” he replies, to emphasize a point. “Do I have to decide now?”

“I’ll tell you more about them tomorrow,” Oikawa offers. “You can decide what you want to do after! Sound good?”

Iwaizumi opens his eyes, glances over to find Oikawa holding a hand over the top half of his face. He’s about to comment, ask him what’s wrong now but he shrugs the concern off once more. There’s no use trying to push the issue.

“Sure,” Iwaizumi says instead of anything else. “We’ll see how it goes.”

-

Hanamaki approaches him in the library in the afternoon with a black binder clutched to his chest. “Iwaizumi,” he begins.

“No,” Iwaizumi cuts in before Hanamaki has the opportunity to continue whatever ridiculous request he has in mind now.

“Please,” Hanamaki says pleadingly.

“No.”

“You don’t even know what this is. I could need a liver transplant and you could be the only person in the world.” Hanamaki holds a hand to his chest. “You want me to die?”

"Are you—"

"Quiet, please," Hanamaki states primly, staring at the screen of his phone and tapping away at it indistinctly. "I'm emailing your mother about how mean you are."

Iwaizumi snatches Hanamaki's phone from him, looks down at the screen (it's some sort of game), and locks the phone without remorse.

"You know what you did just now?" Hanamaki asks. "Killed a piece of my soul. I waited all day for my LP to restore and you just wasted fifteen—"

"Hanamaki," Iwaizumi says sternly, and maybe a little exasperatedly too, "what do you want?" He waits a second. "I have no fucking idea what you're talking about either."

"Love Live," Hanamaki responds first. "And to answer your first question..." He opens the black binder and procures a hefty stack of papers. "Have you considered life insurance?"

Iwaizumi has been in the library for approximately three hours now and his mind is filled to the brim with material for an exam he thinks he might fail. He squints at Hanamaki. "What?" he asks, with caution.

"Life insurance," Hanamaki repeats, like it's as simple as that.

"What the hell," Iwaizumi responds accordingly.

"My sister's working on commission and she said if she got top employee this month she'd treat me to whatever I wanted." Hanamaki leans back in his seat and pans one hand across the space in front of him. "Imagine, Iwaizumi. An entire room filled with cream puffs."

"What the hell," Iwaizumi repeats, because he isn't sure if it processed in Hanamaki's brain the first time.

"If you cared about me as a friend..." Hanamaki begins seriously.

"Hey," Iwaizumi interjects, "so I heard you got matched by Oikawa?"

"Don't change the subject," Hanamaki says, as sternly as he can manage. "But yeah, I did. Last semester, I think."

"And?" Iwaizumi presses.

"And what?" Hanamaki stares at Iwaizumi, genuinely unsure of what Iwaizumi wants from him in terms of answers. "The guy was nice but I didn't like him like that. So it didn't work out. Now about you being a good friend—"

"Matsukawa did it too?"

Hanamaki stills for a second before sinking back in his seat. "Sounds like you already know the answers to your questions," he comments offhandedly, closing the binder in front of him and looking at Iwaizumi with a faint smirk. "He went on a date with someone from our year. I remember her being really cute but he said it didn't work out."

"Huh," Iwaizumi says distantly.

"Spit it out, Iwaizumi."

"Nothing," Iwaizumi murmurs. "I was just curious. Oikawa put together this list of people I barely know and he wants me to tell him who I'm interested in."

"Yeah, that's kind of how matchmaking works," Hanamaki replies with a shrug of his shoulders. "You know? He matches you with another person. You guys make... love or something."

"That was really eloquent of you."

"Envy is such a terrible color on you." Hanamaki grins. "What's the deal? Chickening out now when we went through so much effort to convince Oikawa to do this for you?"

"Bullshit." Iwaizumi folds his arms across his chest and tears his gaze away from his textbooks and disorganized notes. "He probably jumped on the opportunity to watch me crash and burn."

"Yeah," Hanamaki agrees honestly, "And maybe for other reasons."

"What?"

Hanamaki feigns innocence, shrugging his shoulders again and resting the side of his face against the surface of his binder. He looks up at Iwaizumi with an unsuspecting gaze, though there's a brief flicker of something knowing that passes through his eyes just seconds later.

"You're an idiot, Iwaizumi," Hanamaki points out, kind as always. "No worries though. You'll figure it out eventually." He lifts his head again and straightens his torso, opening the binder once more with purpose.

"You're an asshole," Iwaizumi counters with a sharp exhale. "Can you stop trying to be mysterious for once and just tell me—"

"So," Hanamaki interrupts. "Life insurance."

"This is ridiculous."

"Among other things, yes." Hanamaki procures a pen from his backpack. "Time to think about your future, Iwaizumi. How are you going to support your family if you don't start investing now?"

"You know, you're pretty amazing," Iwaizumi begins idly. "I didn't want to study when I got here but you're really inspiring me to focus on my notes instead of whatever you're about to spew."

"Flattering." Hanamaki pauses. "Rude, but flattering. Stop changing the subject, though. Don't hide from your future, Iwaizumi."

Iwaizumi scowls at Hanamaki before snatching the hefty packet from his hands. He doesn't have any genuine intent on signing his life away to a commitment he's only considering vaguely for Hanamaki's happiness.

"Yay." The grin on Hanamaki's face widens just a centimeter. "I got Matsukawa to think about it too. You'll convince Oikawa for me, won't you? Tell him you guys can put your savings together in ten years and buy a nice timeshare in America or something. Romantic. Friends with benefits. Literal benefits. Good one, right?"

"Sure," Iwaizumi says with a one-shoulder shrug. "You should do the same with Matsukawa," he adds, teasing.

Hanamaki, however, does not laugh. His expression is neutral as it always it but for a second, it falters. He regains his composure as quickly as he lost it, brushing the momentary lapse off as nothing.

"I can't trust him," Hanamaki explains. "He's too laid-back. He'll want to buy a timeshare in like, Antarctica, maybe? Save the polar bears and be one with the penguins."

"But you like that about him," Iwaizumi posits.

There is a brief lull in conversation as Hanamaki closes the binder again and busies himself with papers that don't require his attention. "Yeah," he says after a considerable handful of seconds. "Yeah, I guess I do."

He looks up then and Iwaizumi meets his gaze halfway.

“You like that about him,” Iwaizumi emphasizes, because he isn’t quite sure if they’re on the same page yet. All he can think about is Oikawa telling him that Hanamaki and Matsukawa would have made a perfect match.

“I like that about him,” Hanamaki echoes.

Iwaizumi stares levelly.

"Fuck," Hanamaki says, eloquently.

"Watch your language. Imagine if Kunimi were here to hear that."

"Motherfuck," Hanamaki instead opts to utter. He covers his face with his hands, dragging them down his cheeks before dropping them onto his lap. "No way."

"Oikawa said he thought you were afraid," Iwaizumi says as explanation. "Lines blur. Doesn't have to be a big deal." He knows that he essentially said the explicit opposite to Oikawa the night before but Iwaizumi doesn’t linger on that realization. He figures scenarios vary from person to person and Hanamaki and Matsukawa are a unique instance.

"God's dead and I like Matsukawa," Hanamaki grumbles. "Oikawa knew before me. There's no such thing as order in this chaotic world."

"This is getting a little dark."

Hanamaki rests his forehead against the cubicle desk.

"Ugh," he mutters. "Feelings are so gross."

Iwaizumi grins. “Maybe I should take Oikawa’s job from him.”

At that, Hanamaki perks up momentarily, leering at Iwaizumi. “Wouldn’t go that far,” he says with another knowing glance that has Iwaizumi contemplating his choice in friends. “You still have a lot to learn yourself.”

“What are you t—”

“Well, it’s about time for me to bury myself in pillows and textbooks on Quantum Physics.” Hanamaki heaves a sigh, rising from his seat and gathering up his belongings in his arms. “It was nice talking to you, Iwaizumi. Thanks for helping me come to my senses and subsequently ruining my life.”

“You’re welcome,” Iwaizumi replies simply, plugging one earphone back in and swiveling his chair so he’s facing his textbooks once more.

Hanamaki shakes his head and clicks his tongue. “Iwaizumi Hajime, claims not to know love but only when it comes to himself. Heartbreaking.” He pats Iwaizumi’s head patronizingly. “What a beautiful fool you are.”

“Fuck you.”

“Oh my, how forward of you.”

-

☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:18 PM): have u thought about it?
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:19 PM): not trying 2 rush but ur situation is kind of desperate
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:19 PM): genuinely looking out 4 u
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:20 PM): don’t want u 2 end up alone and w/ 50 cats
Iwaizumi Hajime (4:20 PM): I’m in class.
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:21 PM): ok but iwachan what’s more imprt…
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:21 PM): TRUE LOVE? or ur boring science stuff
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:24 PM): don’t ignore me u jerk!
Iwaizumi Hajime (4:25 PM): Well.
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:25 PM): here are some suggestions:
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:26 PM): Not Ushiwaka-Chan
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:26 PM): Not Tobio-Chan
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:34 PM): ARE U IGNORING ME AGAIN
Iwaizumi Hajime (4:36 PM): I’m going to block you if you don’t stop, dumbass.
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:36 PM): aw iwachan i love when u pretend 2 hate me
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (4:48 PM): Iwachan?
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (5:10 PM): iwachan???
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (5:17 PM): why are u heartless and evil
☆ OIKAWA-SAN ☆ (5:20 PM): answer me :(

-

Oikawa fills Iwaizumi’s notifications with approximately thirty more messages, all containing a varying amount of question marks. By the time Iwaizumi gets out of class, he is three things: one, tired; two, tired; and three, so very tired.

Truth be told, he hasn’t thought about it. He can barely remember the names Oikawa gave him and if Iwaizumi’s totally honest, he doesn’t really care, either. He’s sure the people on the list Oikawa has for Iwaizumi are nice, pleasant people that he might like to befriend some day in the inevitable future.

But he doesn’t want to date them. Thinking twice, Iwaizumi doesn’t think his idea of romance is something that can be just be ignited from a nonexistent flame.

“Hello?” Iwaizumi greets into the receiver of his cell phone.

“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa all but whines in response. “Why are you ignoring me?”

“Because you’re annoying,” Iwaizumi states point-blank, rolling his eyes even though Oikawa can’t see him. “I didn’t think about who I was interested in meeting so you can save your breath since I know you were going to ask.”

Oikawa huffs and then proceeds to let out a withering sigh. “Iwa-chan,” he says again.

“What?”

“In the off-chance that this doesn’t work out and you decide to retire to the mountains to live a life of seclusion,” Oikawa begins (to Iwaizumi’s emphasized chagrin), “I decided just now that I’ll keep you company!”

“That really isn’t a life of seclusion,” Iwaizumi replies, stifling a laugh.

“Well, Iwa-chan! That’s why I’m the ever-charitable Oikawa, your guardian angel, here to make sure you don’t die in the mountains alone!” There’s a rustling noise and Iwaizumi can tell Oikawa’s rolling around on his bed. “Say ‘thank you’ like a good boy!”

“Fuck off,” Iwaizumi opts to say instead.

“You are so crude.” Oikawa sounds vaguely offended. “Anyway, I know you’re too shy to say thank you to me directly but I know your heart!”

“You’re ridiculous.” And there’s a smile on Iwaizumi’s face that he’s glad Oikawa can’t see.

“Ridiculous…ly charming, good-looking—don’t stop there, Iwa-chan~”

Iwaizumi sighs, exasperated. He pretends more often than not that Oikawa’s more annoying than he actually is. It’s what he does to keep his affections for his best friend at bay. That, and it’s a necessary task delegated to Iwaizumi, an important part of keeping Oikawa’s ego comfortably large but not excessive.

“I’m hanging up,” he announces in the middle of Oikawa discussing the new chicken tempura menu in the university canteen. “Where are you?”

“At your place,” Oikawa says without missing a beat. “Dai-chan isn’t home today! I’m a little upset!”

“Stop bothering Daichi,” Iwaizumi chastises. “I guess I’ll see you soon then.”

“Don’t miss me too much on your walk home, Iwa-chan! Stay strong!”

“Don’t be stupid,” Iwaizumi grits out. “And get off my bed, Shittykawa!”

Oikawa’s laughter is the last thing Iwaizumi hears when he ends the call. He jams his hands into the pockets of his jacket and walks forward, trying in vain to bring to memory the names and identities of the people Oikawa wanted him to choose from.

He can’t decide and it comes as no surprise to him. It’s probably not going to work. Matchmaking’s hardly a foolproof method of finding a significant other and Iwaizumi figures he’s going to be that outlier, the statistical failure in Oikawa’s efforts.

It’d be kind of hard thinking of someone he barely knows as something beyond a stranger, Iwaizumi realizes. It’d be hassling too, and he’s not in the mood to waste time. He supposes choosing would be easier if he knew one of the options as well as he knew Oikawa—but Iwaizumi’s aware that that’s stretching it, considering nothing can really top having to grow up with Oikawa constantly in his life.

Iwaizumi stifles another sigh as he crosses the street. His expectations are high and he’s come to accept that reality. He figures it’s an unwritten term and condition that comes with being Oikawa Tooru’s best friend.

-

Surprisingly enough, Iwaizumi starts to think about long-term relationships more. He’s never been overtly interested in pursuing romance at his age, but with his closest friends pushing him in what he thinks is supposed to be the right direction, it’s been difficult warding off considerations of like and love.

It’s harmless thinking. Iwaizumi just contemplates what kind of things he’d like to do if he were to go on a date every now and then when lectures get boring and beyond that, he doesn’t humor himself much.

Iwaizumi realizes it’s a problem when he tries to put a face to the imaginary figure he’s going on dates with in his daydreams and the only person he can think of is—

“Iwaizumi-san?” Kunimi calls out, waving his hand in front of Iwaizumi’s face slowly.

In an instant, Iwaizumi snaps back to reality, blinking away the remnants of his brief reverie to look Kunimi in the eye. They’re standing in the middle of a hallway and Iwaizumi’s beginning to wonder if this is where it’s going to start going downhill.

“Are you okay?” Kunimi inquires with a tilt of his head. Beside him, Kindaichi looks troubled and dazed by Iwaizumi’s evident lack of grip on his surroundings. “You look a little out of it.”

“Oh,” Iwaizumi says faintly. “Yeah, I’m fine. Where are you guys headed?”

“To see Oikawa-san,” Kunimi replies, reaching out to lift Kindaichi’s arm effortlessly. He gestures to the bright red envelopes Kindaichi is holding in the hand attached to the arm in question. “He has love letters from girls in our last class.”

Kindaichi turns pink. “I don’t know why they asked us,” he mutters, evidently embarrassed at playing messenger.

“Kindaichi’s shy because he feels the passionate confessions through the envelopes,” Kunimi explains dryly. “He’s a newborn baby in that respect. Receptive of strong emotions.”

“Is that how newborn babies work?” Iwaizumi asks with a small smile.

“It’s not,” Kindaichi says quickly. He extends the envelopes to Iwaizumi. “Maybe it’d be easier if you deliver them to Oikawa-san? Kunimi and I have class and you see him a lot more than we do, right?”

“Kindaichi’s also afraid of the fans that will undoubtedly be swarming Oikawa-san when we seek him out,” Kunimi adds. “Kindaichi is a newborn child in that respect. Afraid of new surroundings.”

“I hate you,” Kindaichi grumbles. “Oikawa-san has a lot of fans and it’s overwhelming sometimes.”

“He does,” Iwaizumi agrees, mostly to support Kindaichi’s crumbling resolve at Kunimi’s hands. “It’s annoying as hell.”

“Don’t be too jealous, Iwaizumi-san,” Kunimi replies, patting Iwaizumi’s forearm in what Iwaizumi thinks is supposed to be a gesture of comfort. “I’m sure Oikawa-san still likes you best.”

“Wh—”

“Anyway, we have to go. I’m training Kindaichi to crawl through the fan barriers around Oikawa-san.”

Kindaichi makes a small noise, a mix between a gurgle and a sob of protest before he’s dragged away by Kunimi. They wave goodbye at Iwaizumi as they walk away, leaving him in the middle of the hallway.

“Huh,” Iwaizumi says dully. The bright red envelopes in Kindaichi’s hand make a comeback in Iwaizumi’s train of thoughts as he makes his way out of the building.

It’s true. Oikawa’s painfully popular and it’s an obvious fact. He relishes the attention too, enjoys speaking with his fans and showering them with as much love as he possibly can (which happens to be a lot). There’s a lot to like about Oikawa, if Iwaizumi’s speaking objectively. He’s a smart guy, talented to boot; he’s handsome, and though he’s annoying in the face of his closest friends, he’s generally well-mannered to people he doesn’t have a petty vendetta against.

So maybe that’s justification enough, Iwaizumi decides. He bites his lower lip, brows furrowed as he stares at the tiles leading to the exit. Maybe that’s enough reason, explanation, for Oikawa being the face in all of Iwaizumi’s recent date daydreams.

There’s a part of Iwaizumi that knows that’s far from the truth. He’s known Oikawa for years now—childhood spent chasing after one another in the park down the street from their neighborhood. He’s known Oikawa for so long, watched him go in and out of relationships with girls and boys that just couldn’t get him right, that Iwaizumi probably knows better than anyone else what type of person Oikawa needs.

The influx of Oikawa thoughts these days isn’t sudden, if Iwaizumi’s honest with himself, and it’s kind of jarring that he’s just now realizing how much he actually thinks about his best friend.

He stifles an aggravated sigh and brushes these thoughts off, with much futility.

-

He knows for certain that he doesn’t want to go on a date with Ennoshita Chikara, Ushijima Wakatoshi, or Kageyama Tobio another two days later after suffering a third barrage of text messages from Oikawa.

He knows for certain, but the words don’t quite formulate until Oikawa’s occupying the living room couch, thumbing through a magazine from two months ago on chemistry. It’s better to get it over with, Iwaizumi decides. Exams are coming up and he’s going to be busy—Oikawa will be too. It’d be better for Oikawa not to waste his time with frivolous attempts at playing matchmaker for Iwaizumi, especially when he’s hardly interested.

“Oi,” Iwaizumi starts, seated on the floor by the couch and trying in vain to focus on the jumble of equations written out in front of him.

“Hm?”

“Are you dating anyone right now?” Iwaizumi inquires.

The crouch creaks a little as Oikawa shifts his position. “Me?” he clarifies. “Iwa-chan, are you… expressing interest in my personal life right now?” Oikawa almost sounds touched.

“Don’t push it,” he warns, and Iwaizumi scowls when Oikawa laughs brightly in response.

“To answer your question,” Oikawa begins, “I’m not.”

“Why not? Iwaizumi blurts out before he can think his words through. “Isn’t it kind of weird?”

“What’s weird?” Oikawa asks. “That I’m playing unofficial matchmaker when I’m woefully single?”

“Yeah.” Iwaizumi burns holes through his notebook. “You should focus on yourself.”

Oikawa pats Iwaizumi’s head from behind carelessly. “Thank you for your concern,” he says through a laugh. “I’ll be fine though~ I have Iwa-chan to yell at me and keep me company after all!”

Iwaizumi taps his fingers against the spine of his notebook. Trying to study now is a waste of his effort considering he hasn’t absorbed any of the material, much too concerned with other things, thoughts. He’s quiet, thoughtfully so.

“Hey,” he begins. “I don’t want to do this matchmaking thing anymore.”

The idea in itself of backing out shouldn’t seem so punishable but Iwaizumi’s words sit thickly in the air.

“Why all of a sudden?” Oikawa stops flipping through magazine pages and Iwaizumi can feel his eyes on the back of his head. “Oh! Maybe it’s just the list. I can look for different people—”

“That’s not it,” Iwaizumi cuts in before Oikawa can convince him otherwise. “I just don’t want to. I’m already busy with schoolwork and I’m not interested in dating anyway.”

“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa whines, and he drapes his arms over Iwaizumi’s shoulder, crisscrossing them against Iwaizumi’s collarbones. “You can’t keep hiding from your shot at romance!”

He exhales sharply, and kindly refrains from pointing out that he doesn’t want to hear bullshit like that from someone who isn’t doing much for the pursuit of romance himself. Iwaizumi gently knocks Oikawa’s arms off of his shoulders.

So Oikawa might be right. Maybe Iwaizumi is hiding but maybe that’s exactly what he wants to and needs to do right now. He isn’t Oikawa. He isn’t wildly popular and he doesn’t have girls and boys confessing to him every other day. Romance is far from Iwaizumi’s forte and while rushing into it headfirst seemed like less of a hassle at the start, Iwaizumi knows better than to test his boundaries now, when he’s already burdened with troubling thoughts.

“Don’t be mean,” Oikawa scolds lightly as Iwaizumi rises from his seat on the floor. “There has to be a reason, right?”

Iwaizumi is hardly sure if there’s an actual, substantive reason behind how unyielding he feels. There could be a couple possibilities, but those are things that Oikawa doesn’t need to concern himself with.

“Go home, Shitytkawa,” Iwaizumi says instead, turning only to acknowledge Oikawa once before walking toward his bedroom at the end of the hall. “It’s getting late and I have to do work.”

Oikawa frowns before rolling off of the couch to stand himself up as well. “I can’t leave until I get a customer dissatisfaction report, Iwa-chan! This is a very serious business I’m running!”

“Don’t be annoying,” Iwaizumi responds, fingers curling tighter into the cover of his notebook as he steels himself, presses forward.

The more Oikawa pushes him, the more Iwaizumi realizes that he might have an answer, an explanation for why he’s against going on a date with a random person who’s supposedly compatible with him. The more Oikawa pushes him, the less Iwaizumi wants to speak.

He enters his room and slams the door shut behind him.

“Go home,” he says again.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa calls out, and there’s a desperate pull to his voice as he raps his fist against Iwaizumi’s bedroom door. “Why are you being so prickly? Hedgehogs are cute and all but you’re being a little too spiky right now!”

Iwaizumi doesn’t respond. He can’t respond, because suddenly, there’s a startlingly clear divide between what he wants to say and what he thinks he’s supposed to (allowed to) say.

“Unlock your door, please,” Oikawa says. “Let’s talk face-to-face!”

“I don’t want to go on your stupid dates, Oikawa!” Iwaizumi glowers at his own bedroom door, contemplating opening it just to pinch Oikawa’s cheek until he relents and goes home. “Stop pissing me off!”

He’s getting annoyed again, and it’s less at Oikawa and more at himself. His fists clench and unclench as Oikawa quiets.

“But…” Oikawa starts again, tapering off at the end of his sentence. “I can’t help you unless y—”

“I like you!” Iwaizumi blurts out gracelessly. The words don’t process in his mind until moments later and when he realizes what he’s said, he stumbles back, away from the door.

What the hell?

“I—” Iwaizumi stares, eyes wide and lips parted. What the hell is he supposed to say now? How is he supposed to do damage control when he doesn’t even know where to start?

Oikawa doesn’t say anything on the other side. Iwaizumi hates these types of silences the most—the ones where he can almost imagine the gears in Oikawa’s mind turning, creaking, uselessly toiling because Iwaizumi’s being an idiot, burdening his best friend with unnecessary thoughts.

The door knob turns and Oikawa pushes it open.

“It’s broken,” he says faintly, fingers curled around the handle. “Your lock is broken,” he clarifies, and there’s a strain to his tone as he speaks. He throws on a weak smile.

Iwaizumi’s cheeks are burning and he looks at the ground, at the wall, at anything but Oikawa’s face. He doesn’t have an explanation for this; he can’t even figure out if he meant what he said. He doesn’t even know why he said it.

So they stand there, in creeping silence. Iwaizumi’s chest squeezes painfully and he wonders if it’s too late to laugh and play it off as a fucked-up joke.

“Iwa-chan—”

“Just,” Iwaizumi interjects quickly, voice wavering, betraying his resolve. “Just leave me alone.”

He doesn’t really mean it. He never really means it when he pushes Oikawa away, tries to keep him at arm’s length maybe to scatter suspicion from himself. Oikawa’s always been the apple of so many people’s eyes and Iwaizumi’s used to distance, to comfortably occupying a space half-a-footstep behind.

But he doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t mean it at all.

And he realizes this, a sharp pang of recognition jolting his spine, when he lifts his gaze from the hardwood floor to gauge Oikawa’s expression: hurt, confused, defeated.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa tries again.

“I can’t talk right now,” Iwaizumi says briskly. His fingers clench into a weak fist and he swallows thickly, tries to hold back a grimace when his throat burns. “Just—forget it.”

I like you I like you I like you courses through his mind and Iwaizumi feels sick.

Oikawa doesn’t move, and his stare feels heavy. This is Iwaizumi’s apartment, his bedroom, his home but he finds himself grabbing his jacket from his desk chair and jostling past Oikawa in a rushed panic.

He’s never been the introspective sort—not like Oikawa, at least—and as the door slams shut behind him, Iwaizumi can’t help but wonder how anyone could bear to be the type.

Iwaizumi covers his mouth with his hand, wonders if he’s imagining the way his fingers are shaking acutely. He’s always been particularly good at convincing himself out of things but it’s with growing dread that he realizes this time, the effort’s futile.

He likes his best friend.

He likes Oikawa.

“Fuck,” Iwaizumi breathes out sharply. “Fuck.”

-

Oikawa doesn’t call him for an explanation and Iwaizumi can’t decide if he’s relieved or fucking terrified. Two days pass from the accidental confession and Iwaizumi doesn’t exchange a single word with Oikawa. He doesn’t come home to Oikawa occupying the greater half of his bed while reading through an outdated magazine. He doesn’t check his phone after classes to find bulk messages from Oikawa about nothing in particular.

He tries not to dwell on it. He tries not to linger on how he might miss that—whatever that is. He tries to focus on other things instead, but there aren’t that many other things available to think about when Iwaizumi’s always counted on Oikawa to fill the limited free time he has available.

He refrains from screaming and plucks his phone out of his pocket instead, scrolling through his recent calls to dial a number.

The call connects after three rings and Iwaizumi inhales and exhales sharply before speaking. “Hey, it’s Iwaizumi. Are you busy?” He pauses. “Can I come over?”

-

Iwaizumi gets to Matsukawa’s apartment after his last lecture and they wordlessly lapse into playing two hours of League of Legends before admitting defeat. Matsukawa retires to the couch and Iwaizumi holes himself up at the kitchen table.

“Hey,” says Iwaizumi.

Hello,” Matsukawa replies in rigid English. “How are you? I’m fine, and you?

“Do you, uh—” Iwaizumi trails off. “Do you like anyone right now?”

Matsukawa does not reply immediately, and Iwaizumi does not have the courage to look over to see what kind of wicked expression his friend might be wearing in this very instant.

“Yeah,” Matsukawa says instead of anything else, owning up to his typical tame manner when unobligated by ulterior motives. “Are we doing pillow talk right now? How cute. I didn’t know you were the type.”

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi says faintly, gritting his teeth when he hears Matsukawa chuckle.

Matsukawa flops over onto his back, reclining instead of sitting up straight. “Want to know who?”

“Sure.” Iwaizumi bites the inside of his cheek. He isn’t really sure why he feels nervous about talking about this particular topic.

“Your mother,” Matsukawa says seriously. “She’s a beautiful woman.”

I’ll kill you.

“Just kidding,” Matsukawa adds before Iwaizumi has the chance to physically retaliate. “Your mother is very kind and I respect her marriage with your father, who is also a very upstanding man.”

“Thanks,” Iwaizumi retorts dryly.

“What brought this up?” Matsukawa asks instead. “Love on your mind?”

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi says again, because evidently, there’s no limit when it comes to Matsukawa.

Matsukawa is hardly affected by Iwaizumi’s harmless words and it shows in the way he smiles. “Hanamaki,” he announces without preamble, evidently unashamed of announcing a crush on his best friend. He looks at Iwaizumi, gaze half-lidded and expectant. Matsukawa’s an expert at provocation but he’s even better at easing explanations out of Iwaizumi without so much as a single word.

Iwaizumi clears his throat. “How’s it feel?”

“How’s it feel?” Matsukawa repeats, folding his arms behind the back of his head, legs stretched out along his couch. He stares at the ceiling, not at Iwaizumi, and shrugs his shoulders against the cushion supporting his head. “Good, I guess.”

“Poetic,” Iwaizumi comments, swinging his leg to sit with the back of the chair between his knees. “That doesn’t really help though.”

“Yeah,” Matsukawa says with a laugh. “I don’t really know how else to explain it. Sometimes you feel terrible when you think nothing’s going to happen and then other times you feel good—really good—just because you feel like you know them better than anyone else.”

Iwaizumi folds his arms along the top of the chairback, pressing his cheek to his sleeve contemplatively. “Hanamaki though, huh? When’d you realize?”

This time, Matsukawa sighs. “I bought him 100 love gems on that school idol game he’s hooked on.”

“How much is that?”

There is a telling silence. “Dinner for a week and a half,” Matsukawa says, finally.

Iwaizumi winces. “Damn.”

“Yeah. It still stings. I bought him gold fish or something on this weird cat game he likes too—Neko Atsume? Just because he named a cat after me.”

“Goldfish?”

“Gold fish,” Matsukawa corrects.

“Cute,” Iwaizumi says.

“Thanks,” Matsukawa replies easily. “I spent two days straight with no sleep to beat a level of some video game I’ve never played before for him too.”

“Oi, why are you trying to buy your best friend’s attention?” Iwaizumi asks, tone teasing as he stifles a tiny smile.

“I’m not,” Matsukawa says. “Well, I’m not intentionally. It’s just me trying to avoid actually doing something substantial about liking him, I guess. I want to spoil him. Just like your way of avoiding how you feel is by avoiding Oikawa altogether.”

Iwaizumi stills, and though he thinks any other day and any other person and he might have felt thrown off by the comment, he’s remarkably unsurprised that Matsukawa already knows who Iwaizumi’s thinking about.

“You’re saying I should spoil Oikawa?” he inquires instead of acknowledging anything else.

“Nah,” replies Matsukawa, hoisting himself up so he’s sitting upright on the couch. He turns, running a hand through mussed hair, to look in Iwaizumi’s general direction. “I’m saying you should talk to him before Hanamaki gets him to download Love Live and your wallet takes the hit.”

“I’m not a pushover like you,” Iwaizumi protests.

There’s a neutral expression on Matsukawa’s face as he nods sagely. “Yeah,” he says with a crooked smile. “Since you’re suffering, I’ll humor you.”

“You know, I never thought I’d see the day—Matsukawa Issei with an actual romantic bone in his body and for Hanamaki Takahiro no less.”

“How gross,” Matsukawa bemoans idly, dragging a hand down his face. And though Iwaizumi can’t be for certain, he’s almost positive there’s a smile on Matsukawa’s face. “Could say the same for you though. Thought you’d get married to your textbooks before coming to your senses.”

“I’m suffering,” Iwaizumi echoes.

“You could be in a worse place,” Matsukawa says sagely.

“Sure,” Iwaizumi replies, unconvinced.

“Well,” Matsukawa starts, looking awfully pensive out of nowhere. “Hanamaki started a fundraising page for his Love Live account.” He pulls up his phone. “I’ll read it for you.”

Iwaizumi is quiet. He counts his blessings one by one.

Matsukawa clears his throat. “’I, Hanamaki Takahiro, have… a problem. Though I was born to loving parents and a modest family, I—’”

“I stand corrected,” Iwaizumi interrupts, looking vaguely sorrowful for even fathoming a life worse than Hanamaki’s.

“Life gets better,” Matsukawa offers with a lazy smile. “Life will get better, I mean. For Hanamaki, maybe not. But you, you still have a fighting chance.”

“There’s no way of knowing for sure,” Iwaizumi argues weakly.

“It’s Oikawa,” Matsukawa muses. “He doesn’t need much reason to wait for you.”

Iwaizumi feigns a grimace. “You really are a sap,” he says in jest. The words resonate in Iwaizumi’s mind though and he’s wondering how legitimate the claim is.

There are shuffling noises as Matsukawa rises from the couch, stretching his limbs casually before marching right up to the front door. “I’m a professional,” he replies with an easy shrug of his shoulders. He dips down to pick up a pair of shoes Iwaizumi recognizes to be his own.

It takes but three strides before Matsukawa’s standing in front of Iwaizumi, holding the shoes up.

“Now or never.”

Iwaizumi glowers. “So why now when never?”

Matsukawa sighs. “This sounds like the start of a terrible musical number and as one of your closest friends, I refuse to support you,” he states solemnly. “You can’t hold a note. And I’m feeling my kindness wear thin so I’m thinking you should get moving.”

Begrudgingly, Iwaizumi grabs his shoes from Matsukawa’s hands and drops them on the floor beside his feet. He doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to do once he gets the laces tied. He doesn’t know whether to call, whether to text, whether to take a chance and run to where he thinks he might find Oikawa.

But his body seems to move on its own and it’s with a startling clarity that Iwaizumi realizes it’s been a long time coming.

“I guess it’s now,” Iwaizumi murmurs.

“Ah, the smell of young love,” Matsukawa sighs out. “The smell of your shoes, too. You should wash those after you talk to Oikawa.”

“Keep ruining the moment, asshole.”

Matsukawa grins. “I’m a professional.”

-

Oikawa does not pick up the phone the first record-breaking six times that Iwaizumi calls so he almost gives up right then and there. It’s not that he isn’t used to pushing Oikawa. Iwaizumi has a breadth of knowledge and experience when it comes to dragging Oikawa out of self-induced slumps and self-inflicted isolation.

This situation just happens to be a little different from the ones Iwaizumi’s used to, and in more ways than one. He’s at a loss for what to do so he resigns himself temporarily, holes himself up at his favorite cubicle at the library instead to fill the gaps in his thoughts where Oikawa should be with equations and formulas that could hardly replace him.

That’s precisely why it feels surreal when someone taps his shoulder and Iwaizumi turns around to find none other than Oikawa standing behind him.

“Hi,” Oikawa greets amiably, like there isn’t an intangible wall standing between them. “Busy?”

“No,” Iwaizumi replies a little too quickly, gaze flickering from his mess of notes to Oikawa’s face. “Need to talk?”

“Yeah.” For a second, Oikawa’s expression tightens and he looks around fruitlessly. “Outside.”

Iwaizumi asks the person sitting next to him to keep an eye on his belongings and wastes no time after that in standing up to follow Oikawa outside. There aren’t a lot of places to talk and their search for a quiet location is wordless and silent. They end up at the side of the Mathematics building, a smaller space of concrete separating it from the Humanities building.

Oikawa sits down on the ground and rests his back against the wall. Iwaizumi follows suit, keeping a comfortable distance between them.

“Sorry,” Oikawa starts off. “Sorry for not answering your calls and stuff. Did I worry you?”

“It’s fine,” Iwaizumi says, stiffer than intended. “Is this about—”

“Iwa-chan.” Oikawa’s tone seems a notch smaller than it usually is, and though Iwaizumi can tell he’s expending a considerable amount of effort to maintain the small smile on his face, it’s quick to fade. “Can I be selfish and mean just for right now?”

Iwaizumi glances at the side of Oikawa’s face, follows Oikawa’s gaze to the pair of hands folded in Oikawa’s lap. He nods. “Yeah, go ahead.”

“Okay,” Oikawa says, exhaling quietly. He doesn’t speak immediately and when he does, his voice is just the tiniest bit strained, like the words leaving the tip of his tongue are unfamiliar—forced. “You know when we were younger and you went to summer camp without telling me?”

He remembers. They were twelve, maybe. Iwaizumi remembers it significantly because he still feels bad about it sometimes, being ushered away without a chance to say goodbye.

“Yeah.” He pauses, thoughtful, and there’s a hint of a smile on his face. “You cried about it.”

“I did,” Oikawa seconds, and there’s a small smile on his face too. He laughs, and for a second, the atmosphere feels a little warmer. “I missed you a lot and I hated it when you weren’t with me. It’s kind of still the same now. Is that weird?”

Iwaizumi frowns, brows furrowing in contemplation. “No,” he states honestly. “We’re best friends. It’s not that weird.” He misses Oikawa too even if he writes him off as annoying nine times out of ten. He misses Oikawa more now but it was vaguely the same scenario back when feelings weren’t tossed into the jumbled equation.

“That’s… That’s not what I mean.” Oikawa turns his head this time, looking Iwaizumi in the eye brazenly. “I mean is it weird that even when you’re sitting on the same bed as me, I feel like I miss you as much as I did when we were twelve and you forgot to tell me you were leaving.”

There it is. The unfamiliar pang of something (guilt, clarity, recognition) that courses through Iwaizumi’s veins. He doesn’t say anything, maybe because he wants Oikawa to keep talking and maybe because he doesn’t know what he’d say anyway.

Oikawa shifts gears, tearing his gaze away from Iwaizumi to stare at the wall in front of them. “Remember when we watched the Lion King and you started crying?”

“I still tear up,” Iwaizumi confesses honestly.

“I started crying too when we were younger because I got scared—not because of the actual movie but because you were crying.” Oikawa laughs again. “It didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time why I felt so afraid but looking back, it probably had something to do with you, huh?”

“…Yeah?”

There’s a tight smile on Oikawa’s face. “I like it a lot when you’re happy, Iwa-chan!” He nods his head, self-affirmation. “Even though you bully me and call me dumbass every other day, I like it best when you’re happy! And I guess it was the same then as it is now.”

Iwaizumi lapses into silence again, nodding even though Oikawa isn’t looking at him. “I believe you,” he says.

“I know you do,” Oikawa replies. “When I told Makki and Mattsun I’d match you up with someone I thought I was doing something good for you. I thought I could make you happier!”

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi finds himself saying aloud, remarkably more stable than he ever would have expected from himself. “You didn’t do anything wrong—”

“This is really embarrassing, Iwa-chan, but I just want to say upfront that first and foremost, I value you as my closest and longest friend.” Oikawa is just talking at this point, rambling like he does when he’s nervous, anxious, scared. “But secondly, I want to tell you that I’ve liked you for the past two years and I think it’s genuinely unfair that you’re making me admit it out loud.”

Something rings in Iwaizumi’s ears. “What?” he demands.

“I like you,” Oikawa says again. “And maybe I’ve liked you for longer than just those two years but I knew when we were in high school and you told me you were studying extra hard so we could go to the same university. I mean, you’re not very bright, Iwa-chan! So I knew it had to mean something when I couldn’t stop thinking that you were doing this for us. And I really hated you for it! I kept thinking—how dare Iwa-chan make me feel like he’s doing this just for me?

They sit in silence, drinking in memories and perspectives never once discussed in their years of friendship.

“I was kind of relieved when you said you didn’t want to go through with it,” Oikawa confesses. “I was kind of relieved but I felt very selfish and mean for feeling that way because you are my best friend, Iwa-chan, and more than anything, I want you to be happy! And maybe I tricked myself into thinking I know you better than I do but I thought this was the only way I could make you happy…”

Iwaizumi stiffens. “Oikawa,” he says.

“But then you got mad at me—and you, you told me you liked me and it got really messy then! Really messy! I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I was so mad at myself for not stopping you when you ran away.” Another laugh, this time, louder. “I kept thinking, Iwa-chan is such a jerk for doing these things to my head! But you know, Iwa-chan, after I got over how scared I was, it just made me wonder if I could make you happy in a different way.”

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi repeats once more.

“I kept thinking—I could be better for Iwa-chan than anyone else if I tried! And I wanted to tack my name onto your dumb list too, tell you that maybe you should really consider me but…” Oikawa tapers off. “You know, I’ve been matching people up for fun all this time but I never really thought I’d have to do it for you. I never really thought I’d want to match you up with me so badly.”

Oikawa drags a hand down his face, concealing half a smile behind his palm like it’s a secret.

“I like you.” The three words sit between them, a conquerable barrier. “I like you a lot and it’s dumb because you’re really mean sometimes and everyone knows it! But I like you a lot anyway because I know you’re a pushover. When you asked me why I wasn’t dating, I didn’t know how to explain it then—but I can tell you now that it’s because I always thought if I waited long enough, maybe we’d end up together… That’s kind of silly, isn’t it?”

Oikawa.”

“I think I’m in love with you,” Oikawa finally, finally says aloud.

Iwaizumi’s fingers curl into the lapels of Oikawa’s shirt unwittingly, reeling him forward until their lips meet in a messy, thoughtless kiss. Electricity, butterflies—those rom-com myths are hardly on Iwaizumi’s mind as he finds solace in the way Oikawa tenses and then relaxes seconds later.

“Iwa-chan?” Oikawa asks when they pull away. His eyes are round, questioning.

“You heard me the first time, didn’t you?” Iwaizumi demands. “I like you. You’re an idiot and I’m an asshole and I have no idea how this is supposed to go or work but what I do know is that I like you, I love you too.” Oikawa doesn’t say a word and Iwaizumi feels his cheeks warm. “Don’t embarrass me, Shittykawa. Say it back.”

“Yeah.” There’s a dazed expression on Oikawa’s lips and it ebbs away into a distant smile. “I love you.”

“You can be as selfish and mean with me as you want because I don’t care,” Iwaizumi adds. “Do you get what I’m saying?”

Oikawa’s smile widens, brightens, and though the change is faint, minimal, it’s monumental in Iwaizumi’s eyes. “Iwa-chan…” Oikawa trails off. “Were you always this sappy?”

The flush on Iwaizumi’s cheeks darken considerably as he turns away from Oikawa abruptly. “Wh—fuck off, Oikawa! I’m being serious!”

“I know, I know,” Oikawa chimes, the grin evident in his tone alone. “How cute, though! Iwa-chan is so unexpectedly soft! I’m almost charmed~”

“I take it back,” Iwaizumi announces grimly. “You’re the worst and I’m never letting you near my apartment ever agai—“

This time, it’s Oikawa who kisses him. His approach is different. He takes Iwaizumi’s hand in his and tugs him forward by the wrist until Iwaizumi’s head turns to acknowledge the invitation and Oikawa kisses him before he has the chance to reject it.

“Don’t be mean, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says softly, eyes curving into crescents as he pulls away, fingers tangling effortlessly with Iwaizumi’s. “I just spilled my heart out to you in such an un-cool manner, I think I deserve this!”

“You’re a dumbass,” Iwaizumi replies. The warmth in his cheeks subside as Oikawa squeezes his hand gently. His legs feel weak and it’s still a little hard to grasp that this is real now, but Iwaizumi realizes the technicalities mean nothing now.

Your dumbass?” Oikawa posits cheekily.

“Absolutely not.”

“Oh, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa sing-songs obnoxiously, lifting Iwaizumi’s hand to press a kiss to the back of it in a manner that’s both embarrassingly and endearingly cheesy. “I think you’re the cutest when you try to deny how charming I am!”

“Fuck off,” Iwaizumi manages to grit out. He knows it’s a futile effort but he tries to cover the growing smile on his face with his free hand anyway. “Oi.”

Oikawa hums softly. “What is it?”

“Do you really not tear up when you watch the Lion King?” Iwaizumi inquires. “Not even a little bit? I mean Simba’s losing his god damn dad and you don’t feel anything?”

“Iwa-chan, you’re ruining the moment by talking about your dumb Disney movie!”

“Don’t avoid the question, Shittykawa!”

##

“Let’s begin. First order of business?” Matsukawa inquires aloud, directing his gaze to Hanamaki expectantly.

“Ahem,” Hanamaki clears his throat. “Oikawa Tooru and Iwaizumi Hajime will start calling each other by their given first names.”

“What the hell?” Iwaizumi responds accordingly. “Why should we?”

“You’re in love now,” Hanamaki says, as though that’s explanation enough. “If you want to give me and Matsukawa something nice and substantive to write about in our diaries tonight, please be a little more expressive with your romance.”

“You’re ridiculous. We’re not doing that.” There is a purely exasperated expression on Iwaizumi’s face that he’s starting to think will become permanent if he has to subject himself to the antics of his friends again.

“Right!” Oikawa voices his agreement, jutting his lower lip out slightly before continuing to speak. “Iwa-chan’s so rude that he’d hit me if I called him Haji—”

Iwaizumi looks at Oikawa, a nonverbal warning. Oikawa smiles sweetly in response.

“Please keep the intense eye-fucking to a minimum,” Hanamaki requests plainly.

“Watch your language, Makki!” Oikawa gasps. “Kunimi-chan and Kindaichi-chan are too young and cute to hear how crude you are!”

Kindaichi looks at Kunimi in mild disbelief.

“Second order of business,” Matsukawa states, loudly so he can silence the other conversation.

“Oikawa Tooru and Iwaizumi Hajime will treat Matsukawa Issei and Hanamaki Takahiro to their choice of meal for the next week and a half,” Hanamaki recites clearly.

“Objection,” Kunimi says, raising his hand and Kindaichi’s arm.

“Yes?”

“We contributed too. We should also be compensated,” Kunimi reasons.

Kindaichi sighs.

“Kunimi’s so sharp it’s almost un-cute,” Matsukawa points out with a disapproving shake of his head. “Revision, Oikawa Tooru and Iwaizumi Hajime will treat Matsukawa Issei, Hanamaki Takahiro, Kunimi Akira, and Kindaichi Yuutarou to their choice of meal for the next week.”

“Objection!” Oikawa chimes in, raising his hand as well. “Why are you guys evil and trying to run Iwa-chan and myself out of house and home?”

“Did you hear something?” Hanamaki asks, elbowing Matsukawa’s side. “I thought I heard something but probably not since I didn’t give anyone permission to speak, right?”

“Right,” Matsukawa echoes. “Maybe the wind, or Kunimi’s stomach. He hasn’t eaten lunch yet.”

“So rude!” Oikawa whines, his tone petulant as he sulks like a child.

“Oh, Oikawa! Nice of you to join us,” Hanamaki says with a wicked grin. “Anyway, as reward for helping the two biggest idiots in this small room get together, I genuinely think that aside from medals—third order of business?”

“You should tack on sama to all of our names,” Matsukawa finishes.

Kunimi nods enthusiastically.

“Ridiculous,” Iwaizumi says for the nth time. “All of you need to stop being stupid right now before I have to knock sense into your heads.”

“I agree!” Oikawa chirps. “And I don’t think Makki and Mattsun have room to talk!”

“How very unkind of you, Oikawa-san,” Matsukawa comments, shaking his head in mock hurt. “How very unkind of you to drag us down with you indeed.”

“The Grand Cupid is taking a turn for the worst,” Hanamaki muses.

“We’re leaving,” Iwaizumi announces, grabbing Oikawa’s hand and yanking him up and out of his seat. “You guys are annoying,” he adds, though his tone lacks malice.

Oikawa sticks his tongue out at the group as Iwaizumi drags him out of Matsukawa’s apartment. Hanamaki waves good-naturedly in response.

“How long do you think it’ll take?” Kunimi asks aloud.

“Hm?”

“How long do you think it’ll take before Iwaizumi-san cracks and sends us a text about dinner?” Kunimi amends.

Hanamaki glances at the time on his phone and smiles crookedly. “I place my bets on ten minutes from now, followed by a text message to the group thanking us for helping him.”

“Solid,” Matsukawa agrees.

Kindaichi glances at the ceiling and then at Kunimi. “So this is love.”

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Kunimi replies. “Young love. They grow up so fast these days.”

Hanamaki and Matsukawa exchange a look. Kindaichi sighs.

-

“Iwa-chan~” Oikawa sing-songs, squeezing Iwaizumi’s hand.

“What?”

“You’re a pushover, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says, almost a little too brightly. “You’re going to buy them food, aren’t you?”

“What?” Iwaizumi repeats. “No?” he grumbles.

“Iwa-chan is such a softie on the inside!” There’s a grin on Oikawa’s face that Iwaizumi would like nothing more than to wipe off. Oikawa, however, leans in to peck Iwaizumi on the cheek before he has the opportunity to act on impulse. “We can split the check.”

Iwaizumi raises a brow before laughing incredulously, expression lapsing into a minute smile. “You’re calling me the pushover?”

“Well!” Oikawa huffs. “They did kind of help us, I guess. Good deeds need to be rewarded, Iwa-chan! Karma will bite us in the rear if we don’t do good things.”

“Okay,” Iwaizumi says, “Then do the good thing and pay the whole check, Oikawa-san.”

“What was that?” There’s a shine in Oikawa’s eyes as he cups his free hand around his ear and pretends to strain to hear. “Did you just say… ‘I love Oikawa and I’ll pay for his dinner too!’ Iwa-chan, what a romantic you are! My heart’s beating so quickly for y—OW!”

Iwaizumi’s iron grip on Oikawa’s cheek is unrelenting. “You’re right,” he agrees. “I love you. Tough love’s good, right?”

“Iwa-chaaaaaaaan,” Oikawa whines.

“Don’t be a baby.” Iwaizumi’s words carry no ounce of genuine chastisement as he lets go of Oikawa’s cheek and chooses to cup Oikawa’s jaw instead, leaning up ever so slightly to kiss him on the lips once. He flushes almost immediately after, embarrassed by himself. “Anywa—”

He hardly has the time to linger in his embarrassment when Oikawa pulls him close to kiss him again—deeper this time, with an enthusiasm that Iwaizumi almost smiles at.

“I love you, Hajime,” Oikawa says with a grin when he pulls away from the kiss, forehead pressing against Iwaizumi’s.

Iwaizumi mirrors Oikawa’s expression in spite of everything, and he can’t find himself caring about how stupid he must look with an endeared smile stretching his lips. “Yeah,” he finally manages to say, “I love you too.”