Three boys in varying stages of inebriation were sitting in a small, slightly messy room.
Oikawa Tooru, pretty-boy lady-killer extraordinaire, was draped across a couch he had rescued from the curb of a house several blocks away. It barely looked used and was only missing one cushion, which he had promptly replaced with a horribly mismatched one "borrowed" from a friend's dormitory lobby couch. The new cushion was even almost the right size.
"Where does he get off?" Oikawa slightly-slurred. His scowl as exaggerated, as were the long lines of his body as he draped his head over the back of the couch to look at the other two boys there. "Things are not facts just because you say them out loud!"
"I don't know. I kind of like him." Bokuto Koutarou. Oikawa's roommate and current comrades-in-arm-in-volleyball. Textbook definition of a good guy. And, apparently, Ushiwaka-sympathizer. "Like, yeah, he can come across kinda bad, but he doesn't mean to. He just says what he honestly thinks. He's like an innocent three-year-old."
"And that's why I hate kids," Oikawa said, at the same time another voice chimed in with "That's what makes him so infuriating!"
And so there were three. Iwaizumi Hajime was sprawled across the tatami floors, more drunk than Oikawa had ever seen him. He was clinging to an empty beer bottle like a drowning man to a too-small-to-be-effective float.
"The fact that he's not saying it to be mean," Iwaizumi said, his voice coming out maybe two times more slowly than usual, "that he genuinely believes it, it just makes it more annoying."
"Sides, shouldn't you totally hate him?" Oikawa's scowl deepened even more as he pointed at Bokuto. "You guys are competing for the same position."
Bokuto shrugged. Sitting on the floor, back against the wall, he was probably the least drunk among them. "All the more satisfying when I make starter first."
Oikawa made a noise that sounded suspiciously like "pffft."
"Hey!" Bokuto threw the closest thing he could grab in Oikawa's direction. Fortunately for Oikawa, the closest thing was a pillow, and it missed and fell a good five feet away from Oikawa anyway.
Despite their easy comradery, this was actually the first time that Iwaizumi had met Bokuto, and Oikawa and Bokuto had only known each other for a month or two themselves. Bokuto, looking for a roommate, had asked his new college volleyball coach if anyone else on the team was looking for a roommate, too, and the rest was history.
Oikawa reached for another beer as an owl started hooting. Bokuto's eyes lit up and he reached for his cell phone before running into his room.
Iwaizumi hiccupped. "Is there an owl in here?"
"His boyfriend's ringtone. Former teammate. Still in high school."
"I'm surprised he's not here visiting then. Didn't Bokuto go to high school in this area?"
"Game early tomorrow, I think?" Oikawa shrugged. He didn't actually know, but it seemed like the only reason those two would stay apart on a Friday night. "But seriously, you should be glad he didn't come over this weekend. Bokuto is so lovey-dovey around him it makes you literally vomit."
Iwaizumi attempted to take a sip of his empty beer bottle. "You don't mean that, right? I mean, you still mean it figuratively, right? Or do you actually, physically expel partially digested food from your mouth when Bokuto's boyfriend comes over?"
There was a scuffle, a fall, and a yelp, and then a few seconds later Iwaizumi's field of vision was filled with Oikawa's face.
"They're totally gross," Oikawa said, smiling a bit as he moved his face even closer. "They should have more consideration for the lonely roommate whose boyfriend is going to college in Hokkaido."
Iwaizumi reached out and brushed a strand of hair away from Oikawa's face. Not that any strands actually needed to be brushed away. It just seemed like the thing to do. "Sorry for not visiting more."
"It's okay, Iwa-chan. With your brains, you probably have to spend every extra moment you have studying, just so you don't fail out. Ow!"
Iwaizumi loosened his grip from where he had just pinched Oikawa's cheek. There was a rather satisfying red mark there. He brushed his thumb over it, soothing this time, before cupping a hand around the back of Oikawa's head and pulling him closer.
"You guuuuuuuuuys!" The whine was deafening. "No PDAs! Come on, I haven't seen Akaashi since he made me dinner three days ago, have a little consideration."
Oikawa's smile promised murder. Both Iwaizumi and Oikawa sat up as Bokuto bounded (as "bounding" seemed to be his default method of moving from place to place) back into the room.
"Short call," Oikawa said through gritted teeth.
"He was just wishing me good night."
And the goofy, lovestruck smile on Bokuto's face did seem a bit vomit-inducing to Iwaizumi. Or maybe that was the alcohol coming back up.
"Akaashi's so thoughtful. I mean, he's just the best ever."
"Hey, Bokuto," Oikawa said, in a cool tone of voice that did not generally forebode good things. "Why don't you tell Iwa-chan how you and Akaashi got together?"
Bokuto's eyes lit up like the sequins on a drag queen's gown. "Oh, man, it was just such your typical high school love story. I confessed and he said yes and we started going out. It was awesome! It really felt like a, this-is-the-springtime-of-your-youth kind of moment, you know?"
"What was he doing when you confessed again?"
Iwaizumi wasn't sure if he should stop Oikawa's line of questioning. It seemed harmless enough, but a lot of Oikawa's most devastating attacks could seem "harmless enough" a first glance. In the end Iwaizumi decided he wanted to see where this was going.
"Giving me a Pocari sweat," Bokuto said. "Cause that's how amazing he is, he knew I'd be thirsty after practicing spikes, so he had one ready for me when I finished."
"Isn't that kind of weird?" Oikawa asked. "I mean, you tell me all the time how attentive he was. From your stories, it seems like it went way beyond the normal kouhai-sempai relationship."
"No! Cause when he was a first year, the coach told him and the other first years to pay special attention to me." Here Bokuto beamed. "Cause I was going to be the star player. So Akaashi got really good at being there for me."
"Yeah. I mean, from what I've heard, no offense," Oikawa's expression was all psuedo-concern, "you kind of sucked before Akaashi."
Bokuto's smile faltered a little. "No way. I was just… inconsistent?"
"Oh. Right. But Akaashi helped with that, right? By getting you Pocari sweat and, you know, just doing all those things to keep you in a good mood."
"I mean, it kind of seems like it was almost Akaashi's job to make sure you were playing well."
Bokuto's smile was gone by now. "And what if it kind of was?"
Oikawa shrugged. "Just wondering, you know. If he had rejected your confession, how do you think it would have affected your playing?"
Oh, crap, Iwaizumi thought. But was Bokuto smart enough to get to where Oikawa was leading him? (Well, Iwa-chan, Iwaizumi's inner-Oikawa said, if even you managed to figure it out, Bokuto should be able to do it easily!)
Sure enough. Bokuto gasped. "No! Akaashi did not go out with me just for the team's sake!"
"Oh, I'm sure he didn't!" Oikawa said. "Although… I mean, you're always saying how selfless he is, and how he's always giving his all to the team. Just saying."
But Oikawa wasn't even halfway done talking before Bokuto was running back into his room, frantically poking at the screen of his phone.
"Typical shiitykawa," Iwaizumi said, before grabbing the front of Oikawa's shirt and yanking him forward. Their lips were about to brush together when-
"It went straight to voicemail. He's totally avoiding me, I know it."
Iwaizumi blinked as Oikawa's face moved away from his. What. The. Hell. They both looked over at Bokuto, who had flopped into a human-shaped puddle on the couch. His mood was a total 180 from a few minutes ago. Iwaizumi could practically see rain clouds above him. Oh wait, no, those were just the rain cloud-shaped stains on the ceiling.
"I mean, why shouldn't he avoid me? He's probably so sick of all my bullshit by now. Why did I ever think he'd be interested in someone like me?"
"Yeah…" Oikawa grabbed Iwaizumi's hand and started to stand up. "We're going to sleep now. Have a good ni-"
Oikawa made an "oof" noise as his ass hit the ground, having been yanked back down by a now glaring Iwaizumi. Did you know he'd get that depressed? the glare seemed to say. You broke him, you fix him.
"Bokuto," Oikawa groaned, "I was just thinking out loud. But I'm totally sure that Akaashi really, really likes you."
"And what if he doesn't? I'm texting him. Okay, text sent. He still hasn't answered! I'm texting again."
Iwaizumi blinked. "You might want to give him more than a second to reply."
"What do you know?" Bokuto turned to glare at the others. "You two are so obviously in love, it's sickening. I bet you had a total rom-com get together."
Iwaizumi's eyes softened a little, shocking the hell out of Oikawa. Was it the alcohol?
"Yeah," Iwaizumi agreed. "It was pretty ideal."
"Are you kidding me?" Oikawa yanked his hand away from Iwaizumi's hand. "What about our getting together was ideal?"
"I want to hear this story," Bokuto said. "Maybe it'll distract me from being dumped."
Oikawa rolled his eyes and opened his mouth, shocked once again when Iwaizumi beat him to speaking.
"Well," Iwaizumi said, "it started when Oikawa was born…"
"What the hell?" was Oikawa's incredulous exclamation, before the flashback started…
"He's so beautiful, just like you. Not like my monkey of a son."
It was hot and muggy outside, but inside the natal ward of the hospital, the air conditioners thrummed with a low, cooling buzz. Sunlight filtered in through large windows, making the yellowed white of the walls seem even more faded, not that any of the women in the room seemed to notice. Inside the room, one woman was laying in the bed, not a day after giving birth. Beside her was a mewling newborn baby swathed in bunny-covered cotton, and beside him was a larger baby with spiky black hair and a scowl on his face. Sitting next to the edge of the bed was a second woman, smiling as she played with both of the babies on the bed.
"Don't say that," Oikawa-san said with a laugh. "Your son looks just like your husband, doesn't he? Don't tell me you think the man you fell in love with looks like a monkey?"
Iwaizumi-san laughed outright. "Well, you know me, monkey-like was always kind of my type. But seriously, I didn't get any of my genes in there, did I?"
"Hajime is adorable."
"Hmm. Well, yeah, I think so, but I'm biased. Have you thought of a name yet?"
"Well, they were born so close together, and I really like the name Hajime, so we were thinking Tooru. Written with the kanji 'to go through.'"
"Seriously?" Iwaizumi-san laughed as she picked up a yawning Tooru. "Tooru. Please look after my son from now on."
The two mothers, friends since childhood, were intent on their children being the same, and from that day on Tooru and Hajime were basically inseparable. At first it was just long daily naps together, which resulted in albums full of pictures of the boys in matching outfits and sleeping side by side. Then it was playdates, Tooru crawling after a slightly-faster Hajime, something that didn't change after they started walking. Hajime had a natural athleticism and affinity with the outdoors, just like his father, and was always bounded through the woods or nearby creek with Tooru on his tail, buckets and nets in their hands as they caught all sorts of insects, frogs, and other creepy crawlies.
Although it's not as though Tooru stayed a passive follower for long. Soon he was telling Hajime which way to go, which trees to climb, and which beetles to go after. When Tooru was five, he watched an Olympic-level volleyball match on television, eyes round circles and mouth agape the whole time.
"It was so cool!" he told Hajime the next day, as they stood calf-deep in the cool, streaming waters of the nearby creek. Tooru was leaning on the end of a net's pole, the net-part of which was pressed against the ground beneath the water. "The ball went bam! Then zoom! Then bam again!"
Hajime stood a little upstream. He lifted a large rock and shuffled his little feet underneath… the commotion would kick up anything living under the rock, which would then drift down into Tooru's net. Usually they just caught… well, smaller rocks, but every now and then they'd find something cool like tiny, muddy crayfish-looking animals. "Yeah?"
"Yeah! And I asked Dad and he said we could learn how to play in the peewee league, and-"
"We?" Hajime asked. But when he looked up into big, bright eyes, he didn't really have to think about it. "Oh. Okay, I guess it sounds fun."
Tooru's huge smile, marred only by the missing front tooth he had lost the day before, was a brilliant, shiny thing, Hajime thought.
And so, Hajime's father's plans to introduce natural-athlete Hajime to a multitude of different sports to see which he excelled at were effectively shot, as Hajime decided he would follow Tooru into volleyball for as long as Tooru wanted to play it.
A year later, Tooru watched E.T. The next day he told Hajime about it, as they sat back to back on the Oikawas' patio, eating freshly-sliced watermelon with sticky hands.
"It was so cool," Tooru said. "And then they flew up, like whoosh, and there was a super cool spaceship, and he went home!"
"Hmm." Hajime's cheeks, bulging like a chipmunk's, were too full of watermelon for him to speak effectively.
"I want an E.T.!"
And that was when they started taking their "star walks." As kids, it seemed like they went so far and over such tough terrain. Marching over overgrown grass and hills, through dense forests, and into an isolated field with an old water tower that they could climb. In truth, the whole trip was probably less than a quarter of a mile, through neighbors' backyards, a strip of trees that was maybe a few yards thick, and into a field right next to the house of an elderly couple and family friends who always made sure to keep their eyes on the boys as they climbed up and down.
The water tower became their star-watching base. They kept some old blankets, a broken walkie talkie (but surely aliens would be able to communicate over it anyway, cause they were aliens, right?), and a stash of koala cookies there, although once it rained and they had to throw out all the cookies. They would lay there, side by side, and watch the stars, body heat and blankets keeping them warm into the fall.
"Maybe that's one!" Tooru said, pointing at a brighter-than-usual light.
"I think that's a plane."
"Oh." Tooru's disappointment rang loud in that one syllable. "What about that?"
"That's the light from the radio tower."
Looking for spaceships, they would fall asleep clinging to each other, only to wake up in the warmth and safety of one of their rooms. They never thought about it too deeply as kids, but one set of parents always came to pick them up promptly at ten, loading the softly snoring boys into their car to be taken home and carefully tucked in.
It was on one of these star walks that it happened. It was a little chillier that night, and they were wrapped up in bulky sweaters ("They'll grow into them," Iwaizumi's aunt had said when they tried them on). Hajime's sweater was blue with white stripes, while Tooru's was white with blue stripes, and they were both much too big for the boys. The boys were hunched together under a blanket, fiddling with the walkie talkie.
"Earth to space," Tooru said. "Earth to space."
He waited, then frowned.
"I guess they still can't hear us yet."
Hajime was also frowning, but he had been frowning a lot that night. On the walk over he had stayed a few steps behind, kicking away any poor rocks that happened across his path.
"What's wrong with you, Ha-chan?" Tooru asked, poking Hajime in the side.
Hajime swatted Tooru's hand away, although it was too late to prevent the poke, and he squirmed a little, pulling them together even closer in the blanket. Hajime frowned some more. Then pouted. Then, "I watched E.T."
Tooru's eyes lit up. "Did you love it?"
"E.T. asks Elliot to leave at the end!" Hajime blurted out.
Tooru could only blink. "Uh huh?"
"What if you find an E.T.?" Hajime asked, almost a little angry. "And the E.T. asked you to leave with him? Would you go?"
Oh, wow, Tooru hadn't even thought of that. His eyes it up as he imagined the possibilities. He could fly in a real spaceship. See Earth from space. Visit all kinds of planets, with animals he couldn't even imagine. And eat space candy! Tooru licked his lips.
"Oh…" Tooru looked back to see Hajime almost teary. Guilt tugged at him the same way he was currently tugging on a thread at the bottom of Hajime's sweater. "Umm…"
"My mom told me," Hajime said. "About our names. Do you know?"
Tooru shook his head no.
"When you put our names together, it means 'unyielding' or 'dauntless.'"
Tooru blinked. "I don't know those words."
"Yeah, me neither." Hajime averted his eyes and scowled as he turned slightly pink. "So I asked mom, and she said that it means when we're together, we can do anything."
"Oh." Tooru kind of liked that. He rolled the words around in his mouth. Unyielding. Dauntless.
Hajime nodded, happy that Tooru understood. "That's why you can't leave. That's why we have to stay together forever."
But space candy… but when Tooru looked at Hajime's barely-there smile, he didn't really have to think about it. "Oh, okay, I guess I'll stay here."
Hajime nodded again. He knew Tooru would make the right choice. "Do you want to get married?"
"Hmmm. Married like our moms and dads are married?" Tooru asked.
"Yeah. It means we can be together forever."
"Yeah," Tooru said, tilting his head onto his knees and smiling his gap-toothed smile at Hajime. "That sounds cool."
Hajime smiled back, heart fluttering.
"And that's how we got together," Iwaizumi said.
Oikawa was staring at him slack-jawed.
"One." Oikawa had one hand on his hip and the other in front of his face in a loose fist, one finger jabbed out for dramatic effect. "There were parts of that story you weren't even there for, like the parts with our moms in the hospital."
"Oh yeah." Iwaizumi's eyes were fixed on the ceiling in contemplation. He had a brand new bottle of beer in his hand and was making short work of it… well, in between hiccups, that is, which didn't seem like they were going away anytime soon.
"Two. Please don't just make up my thoughts for key moments of our history together."
"But I felt like your thoughts were pretty clearly written on your face at the time."
"Space candy?! And three, you totally forgot everything that happened after that story! This is why we ended up in that mess in high school, cause you thought everything just ended there."
"Shittykawa," Iwaizumi grumbled. "That was your fault. You completely forgot that I had already proposed to you."
"I did not! Sorry, but proposals at six-years-old do not count as proper confessions." Oikawa turned with a flare to face Bokuto. "I'll tell you how we really got together. And keep in mind, we stayed best friends, but it's not like we always did everything together as we got older. We did our own things with our own sets of friends, and by the end of middle school we weren't calling each other Ha-chan and Tooru anymore. By high school, we actually weren't even really hanging out together outside of volleyball-"
"Yeah," Iwaizumi interrupted, "but we spent almost all our time with volleyball."
"Oh, shut up, and just let me tell the story… and let me tell you now, if you were allowed to take liberties with the story, you can bet that I will too…"
Iwaizumi's clothes were so water-logged, there was a considerable puddle building at his feet in the entryway to Oikawa's bedroom. He looked so miserable standing there, short hairs plastered to his forehead, scowl deeper than usual, heavy clothes clinging to a slightly shivering frame, that Oikawa couldn't help but laugh.
"Iwa-chan," Oikawa said, rolling a little in his soft, fluffy pajamas, "why didn't you wear a jacket at least?"
"Shittykawa!" Iwaizumi said. "You're the one who texted me saying it was an emergency and to come over right away! And here you are eating disgusting sandwiches and watching old cartoons."
Iwaizumi turned up his nose at Oikawa's sandwiches, which were slices of white bread filled with peanut butter and squished brownies.
"If you ask nicely, I'll let you have one of my sandwiches."
"I'm going home." Iwaizumi turned and had gotten one and a half steps when long arms wrapped around his calves and he started to fall forward, just barely managing to avoid smashing his nose against the floor by putting his forearms in front of his face when he fell. He turned his head, furious. "Oikawa!"
But all his anger drained away when he saw Oikawa there. Well, the only thing he could really see was the top of Oikawa's head, those longish, perfectly-placed wisps of brown hair. But there was something about the way Oikawa was facing downward, the way he hadn't let go of Iwaizumi's legs, that was a little worrying.
"Oikawa," Iwaizumi said, a little softer this time. "Let go."
The reply came so fast that Iwaizumi could feel himself getting angry again. He wondered if he should try kicking. "Let go, skittykawa!"
"No! If I let go, you'll leave!"
Count to ten. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Iwaizumi let out a breath. ""I won't go. I promise. Now let me go."
Oikawa didn't let go at first. He did turn his head up though, his big, brown eyes peeking up to see if Iwaizumi seemed legit. "You'll stay for the night?"
Now Oikawa did let go. Part of his pajamas were wet now, too, a streak of darker fabric pressed against his chest. His usual smile was gone, but that was pretty normal, since he didn't feel the need to have it plastered on all the time when he was with Iwaizumi. To other people, he might have looked strange, but to Iwaizumi… well, this was Oikawa.
"Hajime?" Oikawa's mother called up from downstairs. "Are you staying for dinner?"
Iwaizumi looked at Oikawa and sighed. "Yes, auntie. I'm staying."
First, though, Iwaizumi took a quick shower and bath. As he soaked in the hot water, he wondered, not for the first or last time, what the hell was wrong with Oikawa Tooru. Both in general and in terms of what was going on tonight. Oikawa wasn't acting much differently, too be honest, but it was those little differences that had Iwaizumi worried. Little differences in his posture and in his gestures. Iwaizumi was always watching Oikawa, so it's not like it was hard to see.
It was also not that hard to figure out the mystery, Iwaizumi thought with a pang. He had just been trying to avoid thinking about it. But rumors were swirling around school that Oikawa's latest girlfriend had just dumped him.
Iwaizumi sunk deeper into the water as he thought about the latest girlfriend. Pretty. Nice. Smart. He couldn't raise any complaints, not that he would even if he had them. He was always concerned that his jealousy would seep out as soon as he started talking about Oikawa's string of steady girlfriends, so he avoided talking about them altogether. He avoided thinking about them, really, because each new girlfriend felt like a betrayal. It felt like he was slowly deflating, a little bit more each time Oikawa announced a new girlfriend, and one day there wouldn't be anything left inside of him.
Not that he could really blame Oikawa. Smart, handsome, dedicated. Didn't a guy like Oikawa deserve a cute girlfriend and a normal life? At least the girlfriends never lasted long, Iwaizumi thought, and hated himself for even thinking it. What did he just say about Oikawa deserving a normal life?
A slim shadow appeared through the thin paper of the bathroom door.
"Can I come in?" Oikawa's voice was as chipper as ever.
Iwaizumi scrambled a bit before realizing there wasn't anywhere he could hide anyway. Eventually he just kind of gripped the side of the tub. "Hell no!"
He could practically hear Oikawa pouting on the other side. "Okay. I'll leave a change of clothes here."
Iwaizumi was so shocked that he didn't move for a few moments. Oikawa… had listened to him. Huh. That felt kind of nice. Iwaizumi relaxed back into the water. Still… it didn't bode well for Oikawa's state of mind. With his heart feeling like it had just dropped into his stomach, Iwaizumi wondered exactly how much Oikawa had liked this girl.
After getting out of the tub and putting on a pair of Oikawa's sweatpants and t-shirt, Iwaizumi took a moment to internally grumble about how the hem of Oikawa's pants dragged on the floor below Iwaizumi's ankles. Geez, it wasn't fair… and he had been the tall one when they were little.
Dinner was blissfully uneventful, and by the time they were back in Oikawa's room, Oikawa's mood seemed to have mellowed a bit. Iwaizumi had just finished laying out a futon on Oikawa's floor when he was tackled onto it, Oikawa spooning up against his side.
"Go sleep on your bed," Iwaizumi said.
The grumble came out close against Iwaizumi's neck, all hot breath against sensitive skin, and it made Iwaizumi want to squirm away. He was all too aware of how beautiful Oikawa was, how much sexier he could be when compared to any-
"What, Iwa-chan?" Oikawa asked, tone short and clipped.
"I didn't complain when you started telling this story from my perspective, for whatever unknown reason your weird little brain came up with, even when you described my bath, but this is getting to be too much."
Oikawa snuggled up to Iwaizumi's side, taking comfort in their physical nearness. In Iwaizumi's smell. In the rise and fall Iwaizumi's solid chest. He used to do this so often as a child, and no one thought anything of it. When did they stop doing this? He shuffled closer, not wanting even the smallest gap between them, and buried his face in the crook of Iwaizumi's neck.
Today had been such a shit day. His girlfriend had dumped him that morning, which totally sucked and did not set a good tone for the rest of the day. Then a passing truck had splashed dirty puddle water all over him as he walked to school. Then the cafeteria sold out of his favorite type of bread one person ahead of him. Then he was called on in English class, only to realize he had done the wrong reading the night before.
But the coup de grâce had to be that afternoon, when he had to go to the teachers' lounge to pick something up. He happened to pass by the desk of Iwaizumi's homeroom teacher, happened to see a folder with Iwaizumi's name on it, and happened to flip it open. And inside was a form listing Iwaizumi's top three college choices. All of them in Hokkaido.
Oikawa felt like he was in freefall. Only his teacher calling him several times jolted him out of it, and even then he barely knew what happened in the next ten minutes. His mind could only grasp onto one word: Hokkaido. His mouth felt dry as he mumbled replies to his teacher--he had no idea what he as saying, his body on auto-pilot, just wanting to bolt. And when he conversation ended, he had walked as quickly as he could to the nearest empty classroom and collapsed on the floor against the door. Hokkaido.
From the second he was born, Oikawa had never been in a world without Iwaizumi by his side. He had never even contemplated a world like that existing.
In the Oikawas' spare futon, Oikawa gripped Iwaizumi even more tightly.
"If you don't relax," Iwaizumi said, "I'm going to suffocate."
But Oikawa didn't relax, and soon enough a hand sank into the hair at the back of his head, broad and comforting. Iwaizumi's arm was wrapped around his back, and Oikawa stifled the urge to cry. Why couldn't they stay like this forever? Stupid Iwaizumi. Stupid, stupid Iwaizumi.
"When were you going to tell me?" Oikawa asked.
From the way Iwaizumi tensed, he knew exactly what Oikawa was talking about.
"I did tell you," Iwaizumi said. "I told you I wasn't going to be able to get into the school you were going to, whether it was based on athletics or grades."
"I thought that meant you'd find another school in Tokyo. There are tons of schools in Tokyo. There are tons of schools closer than fucking Hokkaido."
There was silence, for a little, as though Iwaizumi was weighing what to say next. "We don't have to be together all the time. Maybe it'll be good to spend some time away from each other."
Oikawa pulled back. He wanted to see what kind of expression was on Iwaizumi's face, but Iwaizumi was facing away, features hidden in far shadow. "Why?"
"Why?" A long stretch of silence. "It's just… aren't you sick of having me around?"
Iwaizumi had attempted a half-joking tone that he had never been good at and that he had never used when he actually meant to be half-joking. And Oikawa finally got it. He realized what Iwaizumi was trying to say. His stomach dropped. Replace the pronouns and it made more sense, didn't it? He imagined the words Iwaizumi was just too nice to say out loud, the words he was obviously hinting at. I'm sick of having you around.
"Oh." Oikawa stood up and took the few steps to his bed, where he collapsed, facing the other way from Iwaizumi. He got it now. Just because he had never been able to imagine a world without Iwaizumi, didn't mean Iwaizumi felt the same way about him.
When you put our names together, it means 'unyielding' or 'dauntless.' When we're together, we can do anything.
Shit. Shit. Oikawa forced his eyes as open as they could go and tried not to blink. He was not going to cry over this.
"Oikawa?" Iwaizumi sounded concerned, like he had figured out that Oikawa had figured it out.
"I just want to go to sleep," Oikawa muttered.
In a way, he should have seen this coming. After all, in a way, they had drifted apart, volleyball the only thing keeping them together. Oikawa still remembered crying when he had gotten to his first day of second grade and had realized that Iwaizumi was in a different class. Iwaizumi had snuck out, multiple times, to come to his class that day, resulting in a stern group lecture from both their parents about being big boys.
But they had made new, different friends after that. Went to birthday parties without each other. Caught bugs and played tag without each other. Middle school came and Iwaizumi told him that they were going to start calling each other by their family names because "that's what everyone else does, and it's weird if we don't." And then they were in high school, and they barely saw each other in the hall, never managed to sync their schedules up enough to even walk to and from school together. But they still had volleyball, and somehow that was enough, because volleyball was their everything anyway.
And somewhere during that time Oikawa had realized. That he wanted to call Iwaizumi "Hajime." That he was happiest when they used to walk to and from school together, sometimes meandering off into the woods to do nothing but simply be together. He realized, watching across the cafeteria one day as a shy, mousy-looking girl snuck glances Iwaizumi's way, that he hated how apart they had become. And he hated that Iwaizumi didn't seem to mind.
The bed behind Oikawa sunk down with the weight of Iwaizumi's body as Iwaizumi sat behind him. Oikawa could feel Iwaizumi's warmth and mass as the other boy leaned over him, and in response he rolled over onto his stomach and buried his head in his pillow.
He felt Iwaizumi's arms on either side of him, not quite touching, but all too present.
"We'll still keep in touch. It's not like we won't see each other during the holidays. Plus there's this invention called the smartphone."
Oikawa ignored him.
"We can visit each other all the time. We always wanted to go mountain climbing in Hokkaido together, right? Now we have an excuse."
"Oh, come on, don't be such a drama queen."
Iwaizumi's tone was so exasperated that it made Oikawa flush with anger. Iwaizumi didn't have the right to be annoyed. He didn't have the right to feel wronged. Not when he was the one leaving Oikawa behind.
Oikawa squirmed around and kicked Iwaizumi off of him, satisfied when he heard Iwaizumi make an "oof" noise and fall back. Well, if Iwaizumi was leaving, there was no point on holding anything back.
"I love you, you idiot!" Oikawa yelled. "You stupid… stupid head!"
And then he ran.
Of course Iwaizumi ran after him. And of course Iwaizumi caught up to him, grabbing his arm after they had run down the stairs and had reached the living area of Oikawa's home. Oikawa was forced to turn back, at least to be able to yank his arm out of Iwaizumi's grasp, but he froze for half a second when he saw how genuinely Iwaizumi was scowling. It wasn't just his default scowl; his eyebrows were knit together so closely he almost had a unibrow, and his eyes were watery. Iwaizumi didn't cry when he was sad, but he did tear up when he was deeply and truly livid. Oikawa knew his words were going to be a shock, but didn't think that Iwaizumi would actually get mad over them.
"How can you say that?" Iwaizumi asked. "How can you say that, when you're the one who broke up with me in the first place?"
Oikawa froze for longer this time. His eyebrows knotted up in confusion, then… "What? What the hell are you talking about?"
Someone cleared his throat from the dining area. Iwaizumi and Oikawa both turned to look through the open floorplan, only to see Oikawa's father sitting at the table there and drinking coffee in front of his laptop.
"Lovers' quarrel?" Oikawa's father asked. "You know, when your mother and I were high school sweethearts-"
"Dad!" Oikawa shouted, but that was all he could manage, instead gaping at Iwaizumi, then gaping at his dad, before turning and running, albeit slowly, out of the house. He let Iwaizumi jog up to his side though before slowing to a fast walk, but he was so confused. He couldn't even look at Iwaizumi, although he could practically feel Iwaizumi stewing at his side.
"What were you talking about?" Oikawa asked, at the same time Iwaizumi asked, "How could you do this to me?"
Now Oikawa could feel himself getting mad too. What the hell was Iwaizumi so mad about?
"Yukie Miyazaki." Iwaizumi said, words coming out maybe two times faster than usual. "Our last year of middle school. You didn't even say anything to me beforehand, you just showed up to practice holding her hand before announcing that you guys were going out. How do you think that made me feel?"
Oikawa wasn't sure why Iwaizumi was bringing that up. "How was I supposed to know how you felt?"
"How can you say that?" Iwaizumi said, almost sputtering. "You didn't even have the decency to break up with me first, you just show up with a girlfriend, and kept showing up with girlfriends, one after another, like you were rubbing them in my face or something."
"Break up with you?" Oikawa felt like he was living in a kind of bizarro world. "Since when were we going out?"
"Since we were six! Since I proposed to you at the top of the water tower!"
Oh. Now Oikawa realized what was going on. Iwaizumi was crazy. Oikawa had fallen in love with a crazy man. At this point they had stopped walking and were standing to the side of some random side street, and Oikawa turned to face Iwaizumi properly.
"Okay, let's break it down," Oikawa said. "I only dated all those girls to get my mind off you. Well, no, it was kind of fun, too, but mostly it was to get my mind off of you. Because I had no idea we were going out. Because six-year-olds do stupid things like propose to each other without meaning it, and we're both guys, and it's not like we did anything after that but be best friends like usual. How was I supposed to know that you liked me all that time?"
Iwaizumi's eyes were really glassy now, and Oikawa wasn't sure it was just from anger. Iwaizumi stuck his hands in his pockets, shoulders slumped, and looked away. "Isn't it obvious? Isn't it obvious how I feel about you?"
Oikawa felt all the anger and sadness drain out of him. Now he just felt… a little tired. But there was this other feeling, like…. wow, they had both been idiots, huh? Oikawa crossed his arms over his chest. "Fine. Then before you go to Hokkaido, you have to start our relationship properly. I love you, you idiot. Take responsibility."
Iwaizumi, nodded, understanding. Then he got down on one knee. "Tooru, will you-"
"No! Not a proposal! Oh my God, I know I joke about you being dumb, but do you seriously not use your brain?" Oikawa grabbed Iwaizumi's arm and pulled him up, not letting go even when they were standing. If anything, he pulled him closer. Oikawa's voice, when he spoke again, was softer. "Just ask me to go out with you, stupid."
"Fine, shittykawa. I love you. Go out with me?"
"Actually, I'm kind of thinking I can do better-"
"Fine. Yes. Yeah, of course I will, idiot."
"And that," Oikawa said to Bokuto, extreme emphasis on the 'that,' "is how we got together."
"Wow." Bokuto was starry-eyed, head cradled in his palms as he looked up from the couch. "Total rom com."
"If it weren't for this idiot," Oikawa continued, gesturing at a half-conscious Iwaizumi, "we could have been spared a lot of teenage angst."
"Hey," Iwaizumi slurred. "You're the one who canceled our engagement without telling me."
"That was not a real engagement!"
Oikawa's proclamation was answered by soft snores. Iwaizumi had officially passed out.
Oikawa rolled his eyes and started to walk toward Iwaizumi, about to either force him awake or drag him to the bedroom, when there was a knock on the door. He exchanged confused glances with Bokuto. It was late on a Friday night and they weren't expecting anyone. Oikawa decided to forget about Iwaizumi for now and go answer to door instead. And once he had the door open, he wasn't terribly surprised to find a certain high school third year standing on the other side.
"Don't you have a game tomorrow?" Oikawa asked.
In response, Akaashi held up his phone, the screen of which was filled with text messages from Bokuto.
Y do you hate me so much?
Akaashi where are u?
Why won't you answer????????????
Apparently Bokuto had been busy while listening to Oikawa's story.
"Bokuto-san," Akaashi said, stepping into the apartment. "Explain."
Bokuto pouted, crossed his arms, and turned away. "What's there to explain? We're breaking up. I won't make you date me anymore."
Oikawa could see Akaashi's eyebrow twitching. Seriously, he wasn't really sure why Akaashi was dating Bokuto… it had to be a migraine-inducing experience. Plus Akaashi seemed too normal for a crazy person like Bokuto. Maybe Akaashi had some weird sexual kink that made it impossible for him to date other normal people.
"Bokuto-san. Please explain in a way I'll understand."
"I finally figured it out. The fact that you secretly hate me, and that all this time you were just forcing yourself to go out with me, for the sake of the team, because I liked you and you didn't want me to play badly, and you're the fakiest faker that ever faked and I hate you!"
Bokuto punctuated the end of his little speech by tossing a throw pillow at Akaashi's face. Since he didn't throw it particularly hard, Akaashi easily sidestepped it. Akaashi then sent a little, barely-there glare toward Oikawa. Oops, Oikawa thought… must have figured out who was the cause of this tirade.
"I don't secretly hate you. I have never, not even for one second, forced myself to go out with you. And if I was only with you so that you'd play well, why am I still going out with you now, when we're not on the same team anymore?"
"Umm… well…" Bokuto, for whom common-sense logic was a somewhat foreign concept, had his face scrunched up as he thought about it. "For the sake of volleyball in Japan?"
Akaashi sighed. "Do you want to hear why I said yes to you when you asked me out?"
Bokuto gasped before a smile stretched out across his face. He was beaming so brightly that Akaashi and Oikawa almost had to look away for a second. "Ooooh. I get to hear my get together story from Akaashi's perspective? Awesome!"
To be honest, Akaashi didn't know much about the volleyball team at Fukurodani. Volleyball was something he did for fun, as well as to have as another extracurricular that he could put on his resume. And while he was a good player--better than average, even--he wasn't anything spectacular. He was aware of this, so when choosing schools, his first choice was an academically solid place close to home. And Fukurodani fit that bill.
At the first day of volleyball club, Akaashi listened to the gossip going on around him, not so much because he particularly cared but because it paid to be aware of your surroundings. The first years were asking their upperclassmen about the state of the team, and the prognosis wasn't a particularly good one. A better than average team, maybe one of the best ones in the region, but probably not a national-level team, not now that all the star players from last year had left for college.
"Well, what about him?" one of the students asked, emphasizing the word 'him' as though that was all the identification needed.
"Him? I mean, I guess he has some good plays in him, but… you seriously think anyone would consider him a threat?"
"I dunno, I mean, every now and then he does something kind of awesome."
"Luck, man, they're all flukes-"
That conversation ended, though, when the doors flung open and in bounded a guy with the strangest hair Akaashi had ever seen (at this point Bokuto's hair was completely black, but longer and even more gravity-defying than the hairstyle he would favor later on, something like a foot-high flat top). At least the rest of him was pretty cute. With the sexy black knee pads wrapping around thick, muscular thighs… and the sliver of skin that appeared sometimes in the gap between Bokuto's knee caps and shorts as he walked. It was almost obscene somehow, that little piece of disappearing and reappearing skin. And the way Bokuto's shirt lifted up when he stretched, revealing just a hint of well-muscled abs. Not to mention that perfectly round ass…
"Hey hey hey!" The guy said. "Your new ace is here!"
The "ace" then proceeded to have a perfectly mediocre practice.
After practice Akaashi stopped by the bookstore to pick up some things before going home, at which point he spied Bokuto on the sidewalk checking his cell phone. Not particularly in the mood to socialize, Akaashi wondered if he should sneak past or go around a block, when Bokuto looked up at him and his eyes lit up in recognition.
"Hey!" And here he practically jumped over to where Akaashi was. "You're one of the new first years!"
Akaashi was vaguely surprised that Bokuto remembered him. After all, they hadn't really interacted, and Bokuto had been so wrapped up in practice that Akaashi didn't think he would have noticed the things around him.
"I'm Bokuto. You can call me Bokuto-senpai."
"Akaashi," Akaashi said.
Bokuto started gushing about something--Akaashi thought maybe it was the other boy's history of volleyball playing, but Bokuto was talking so quickly, Akaashi wasn't sure. After a little bit, though, he slowed down enough for Akaashi to feel like paying attention.
"So I'll totally teach you guys everything you need to know, don't you worry. After all, we're teammates now." Bokuto beamed.
Akaashi nodded. "Thank you, senpai."
"Since I'm your senpai, I'll even treat you to ice cream. Do you like ice cream? What am I asking, everyone likes ice cream." Bokuto laughed as though what he said was funny, an infectious but also vaguely-annoying noise. Cute smile, though. "You're going to love me, I'll be your best senpai ever."
At the ice cream stand, Bokuto realized that he had left his wallet at school, and spent several minutes being absolutely mortified that he had made his kouhai buy ice cream for them.
It took a couple of months for Akaashi to figure out how to deal with Bokuto and his mood swings and insecurity issues. It took about a month after that for the current third years to figure out that Akaashi had a knack for dealing with Bokuto, and that it was translating to Bokuto's volleyball. The captain himself took the opportunity to pull Akaashi aside.
"Akaashi Keiji," he said, hands gripping Akaashi's shoulders so hard Akaashi could feel nails. "You're our only hope. I'm going to give you a very important job… from now on, you're in charge of keeping Bokuto happy."
Akaashi frowned. He liked Bokuto, and liked spending time with him, but at this point wasn't sure what all the commotion about him was about. Bokuto was a good player, sure, but so far hadn't seemed like someone the senpais should pin their hopes and dreams on.
"I'll do what I can," Akaashi said.
And then it happened. An actual game that they let Bokuto play in, and in not two minutes Bokuto had dived for and returned a ball that, by all rights, should have been impossible to return, stunning the opposing crowd and audience into silence for a few seconds before cheers erupted. Bokuto pumped his fist in the air, expression aglow, before turning his head to look at the bench and his cheering teammates. And Akaashi could have sworn that Bokuto was looking straight at him.
"Pretty awesome, huh?" Bokuto asked him, next time he was at the bench getting water.
"Yeah," Akaashi replied, in his matter-of-fact way. "It was amazing."
Bokuto seemed to light up even more. Bokuto perform two more showstoppers that went against the laws of physics almost as much as his hair did before his performance dramatically dropped out of nowhere and he was called out. By then Akaashi had gotten it. Bokuto could do things no one else in high school volleyball could do. Bokuto could be absolutely amazing.
It wasn't hard for Akaashi to start figuring out Bokuto's moods on an even more nuanced, deeper level, because they started to spend so much time together, and besides… watching Bokuto wasn't hard at all for Akaashi to do. And he wasn't even talking about Bokuto's amazing, toned body, which seemed to get more muscular the more time went on. But Akaashi enjoyed watching Bokuto, because Bokuto was fun and honest and a mess of contradictions that seemed to all mesh together so well. Like how he seemed to lack basic common sense some times, but was a consistently ranked in the top ten percent on test rankings without having to put in a lot of effort to do it.
Toward the end of that school year, after a pretty successful season thanks to Bokuto's improved form, Akaashi saw the current captain and vice-captain walking to him after practice, mouths set in thin lines of determination. He looked around. No one else was there. Crap. Akaashi turned and quickly started to walk in the opposite direction, but they broke out in a run and caught up to him, one of them at each of his sides and hanging on to his arms.
"I know what you're going to ask," Akaashi said. "I'm not interested."
"You have to! For the sake of the team!"
"Please, Akaashi, no one else can do it. We're entrusting you to carry on Fukurodani's legacy."
Akaashi sighed. "You want me to become vice-captain."
The others smiled and nodded so vigorously Akaashi was worried their heads would fall off.
"You're making Bokuto captain," Akaashi continued.
"He's the best player by far," the captain said, then grumbled, "plus if we didn't make him captain, he'd probably be depressed over it the whole season."
Akaashi nodded. He didn't disagree with that statement. "Which means, if I take the vice-captain's position, I'll have to make sure Bokuto's playing properly-"
"Which you do already!"
"-in addition to performing all the captain's duties. Because we all know that Bokuto won't be doing them."
The other two looked so nervous, Akaashi actually felt sorry for them. Akaashi figured he had no choice. "Fine. I'll do it."
And it wasn't awful, really, because even though he did end up being the de facto captain, meeting with the coach to discuss strategies and coming up with practices and everything else (except for the pre-game pep talks, Bokuto like doing those), he got to spend a lot of time with Bokuto. And spending time with Bokuto was fun.
Then one day Akaashi was called out by a girl. He had never been called out like that before, but soon he found himself in the courtyard across from a small, cute girl in pigtails. And while she was cute, he wasn't particularly interested, and was already crafting a polite rejection in his head.
"Akaashi-kun… ummm… could you please pass this on to Bokuto-san?" The girl thrust her arms out straight, and Akaahi could see the square, pink envelope in her hands.
"Sure," he said, taking the envelope. But in his mind he thought, "Oh. I should confess to Bokuto."
Because, in a fit of jealousy that had lasted all of one second, Akaashi had realized that he liked Bokuto, and he didn't want Bokuto to be with any of these girls. He looked up that moment to see the object of his thoughts looking out at him from the second-floor window. Strangely, though, when Akaashi waved, Bokuto jumped back as though he had been caught doing something wrong and disappeared from view.
The rest of the day, Akaashi thought about the best way to confess to Bokuto. Of course he was just going to be straightforward about it, but he wasn’t concerned so much about how to say it. He just wondered what situation he should say it in, to make Bokuto the happiest. Over yakiniku, maybe?
But he had other things to worry about, because Bokuto ended up being awful that afternoon at practice. Bokuto was obviously down, but Akaashi couldn't isolate what the problem was, and Bokuto was being tight-lipped whenever anyone expressed worry. Eventually Akaashi assigned some first years to do spiking practice with Bokuto, because Bokuto loved spiking. And he went to get Bokuto a Pocari sweat, because Bokuto was always thirsty after spiking practice.
Once back, Akaashi called Bokuto over and handed him the bottle, but instead of taking it, Bokuto grabbed onto the bottle over Akaashi's hand so Akaashi couldn't let go. His cheeks were puffed out and his lips pressed together, and expression Akaashi recognized as meaning "I have something on my chest to get out, and I'm going to scream it!"
Akaashi braced his ear drums.
"Akaashi, I like you! Go out with me!"
In a half of a second, the gym went from noisy cacophony to complete silence, save for some volleyballs being dropped from shock.
"Oh, is that all?" Akaashi asked. He was a little disappointed that his plan to take Bokuto out to dinner and confess wasn't needed anymore, but maybe they could do that to commemorate the event instead. "Of course I will."
A smile spread over Bokuto's face, and he jumped up and screamed "woo hoo" before scrambling back into practice. The other team members, still a bit shocked, nonetheless continued with their practices as well.
Even Akaashi's own practice was a little more upbeat, as he couldn't really stifle the feeling of complete and utter rightness that being with Bokuto gave him.
"Akaashi, you're kind of a perv," Bokuto said. Still, with the way he was smiling and tittering, you could tell he was extremely pleased with himself. "I can't believe you were checking me out like that the first time you saw me."
He definitely had a hidden sexual kink, Oikawa thought as he looked at Akaashi. It was always the quiet ones. But he didn't want to think about Bokuto and Akaashi's sex life. "Okay. Help me drag Iwa-chan to my room? I think it's time to call it a day."
Akaashi excused himself to go back home, while Bokuto and Oikawa did short work of putting Iwaizumi in bed and drawing random things all over his face.
"First one asleep!" Bokuto had shouted, pulling out permanent makers from a kitchen drawer.
Oikawa slunk into bed soon after that, pretty close to passing out himself. This night had certainly had a nostalgic feeling. He had almost forgotten about that fight he and Iwaizumi had before they got together… and even now things were sometimes still hard between them, with Iwaizumi so far away. But as Oikawa drifted off to sleep while looked at Iwaizumi's penis-covered, drooling face, he realized that if two idiots like Akaashi and Bokuto could do it, there was hope for idiots everywhere.