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A Finite Forever

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Oikawa flopped against his couch, ignoring the fact that all of the omega etiquette books insisted that flopping was unrefined and would lead to bad posture, which according to the book he was currently being forced to read, would decrease his likelihood of finding a good mate. Granted, that was the book’s conclusion to everything it deemed improper. If you do x, then y will happen and you’ll never find a good mate. If this is the case, he thought, then I bet there isn’t a single omega who’s found a good mate. Maybe that explained why his parents, two alpha powerhouses, had married each other instead of finding omegas. All omegas were probably a disappointment to them—their son especially.

While Oikawa hadn’t presented as an omega yet, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would. He was small for his age, his petite frame and features better suited to a girl than a boy. His face was soft, pale, and still showed traces of baby fat that he had never managed to shed. And if his appearance wasn’t enough of an indicator, his personality was the last nail in the proverbial coffin. He was shy, stuttering whenever he spoke, bad at sports, had almost no self-esteem, and was practically incapable of doing anything that hadn’t been set before him. He lacked initiative, according to his mother, a central feature of an alpha’s personality. Everything about him screamed omega.

If his parents had been capable of expressing any sort of emotion, he was sure that they would be devastated that their only son wasn’t an alpha, or at very least a beta. Instead, Mr. and Mrs. Oikawa were just extremely irritated and inconvenienced that Oikawa had turned out to be an omega. He knew that they had hinged on him being an alpha, and he had a feeling that having one child had been enough of an inconvenience and had required that they spend far too much time around each other, which was probably why they had never bothered to have a second one. Instead they had resigned themselves to the fact that they would have to marry him off to an equally rich and successful family. He was a small asset in the grand scheme of things, but an asset nonetheless, and they were going to capitalize on that.

This was exactly why Oikawa was surrounded by nearly ten books, all of which outlined exactly what he had to do to be a good omega, though he frequently felt as though their sole purpose was to tell him just how terrible he was at being an omega. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he had been put on a strict diet, which meant no sweets, had been made to wear braces and contacts (though he wore the contacts as infrequently as possible since they hurt his eyes), and had been given a beauty regimen that he had to follow twice a day. On top of all of this, he was learning to play the piano, serve tea, and make polite small talk. He was bad at all of it and his life was a living hell because of it.

Sliding off the couch and onto the floor, Oikawa considered calling a maid and asking her to bring him a snack. He racked his brain, trying to remember name of the latest maid. There had been so many that they had all started to blur together. They rarely stayed long, most of them unwilling or unable to meet Mrs. Oikawa’s high expectations.

He gave up after running through a few names. The snack wouldn’t be worth the effort, anyway. It would probably be something leafy, green, and gross. He had almost reached a point that he would rather starve than eat that.

Yawning, he tried to think of what he should do next. Reading was out of the question, since he wasn’t sure that his brain could handle seeing another list of things that he was doing wrong. Plus his eyes hurt and, in spite of having glasses, he was having trouble seeing the words. He went through the rest of his options, not considering what he wanted to do, but considering which option wasn’t as bad as all the others.

Before he could decide on one of the two options that he’d narrowed it down to, he heard a faint rustling outside of the window and noticed a few bushes shaking. Happy for an excuse to procrastinate, Oikawa tip toed over the window and peered outside.

At first he didn’t see anything, making him wonder if it had just been the wind. However, just before he was about to walk away, a large shadow scurried through the bushes, darting past Oikawa before he could even register what it was. He pressed his face against the glass, focusing his eyes until he finally saw the dark form laying flat against the dirt under the bushes. Eyes wide, Oikawa stared at the thing. If he hadn’t known better, he would’ve thought that a spiky black plant had come to life and was just lying in wait to do god knows what.

Actually, he really didn’t know better, which was why he let out an unholy shriek as the thing moved, dragging its body across the ground like an overgrown inchworm.

The thing jumped up as soon as it heard Oikawa, crashing into the bushes and quickly becoming one with the tangled mass of leaves and twigs. Oikawa, though wanting to run, found himself frozen with fear and incapable of moving away from the window as he observed the scene below. Even with the glass barrier between them, Oikawa could hear muffled angry noises coming from the other side. Less than a split second later, a head popped up, and Oikawa found himself looking at the furious, mud-streaked face of a dark-haired boy.

If Oikawa was being honest with himself—and he was, of course, always honest with himself—he’d say that the boy was at least twice as scary as the monster that he had imagined. The boy’s tanned skin was tinted a red that Oikawa was sure wasn’t a sunburn, and he was yelling something that Oikawa couldn’t quite understand. Eyes round with fear, he stared back at the boy, unsure if passing out would be a prudent response to the situation. According to his books, it probably would be.

The boy suddenly stopped yelling, seeming to realize that Oikawa couldn’t hear a word that he was saying. He started pointing at the window, gesturing that Oikawa should open it up. A streak of panic rushed through his body as he considered, not what would happen if he did open the window, but what the boy would do if he didn’t open the window. His expression was the stuff of nightmares, and even though Oikawa was absolutely terrified, he forced himself to obey, slowly unlatching the window and pushing it open. A rush of hot air hit his face at the same time that the dark-haired boy started yelling.

“You made me lose it!” the boy growled, and Oikawa took a quick step back. “I’ve been hunting it for at least an hour, and you made me lose it.” Oikawa swallowed hard. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to know what the boy had been hunting, but a flurry of images rushed through his head, people being the most prominent.

It wasn’t until the boy placed his muddy hands on the windowsill that Oikawa realized what a truly horrible mistake he had made. There was no screen on the window, and before Oikawa could even consider closing the window, the boy had vaulted himself into the room, leaving streaks of mud on what had formerly been pristine white paint. He tucked his body into an ungraceful roll and skidded across the carpet. Oikawa winced slightly as he imagined the rug burns he must have given himself. But the boy seemed unfazed, jumping to his feet and brushing his skin off, almost as though he were trying to wipe the clean of the carpet off of his skin.

“Who’re you?” the boy demanded, crossing his arms across his chest as he gave Oikawa a hard look.

Oikawa’s hysteria finally got the best of him. “You’re in my house,” he shrieked. “Why are you in my house?” He made a move to run, but the boy was quicker. He pulled Oikawa into a headlock and clapped a grubby hand over Oikawa’s mouth.

“Be quiet,” he hissed, tightening his grip as Oikawa started to squirm, just as eager to get away from the dirt as he was the strange child. Desperation washing over him, he closed his eyes and forced himself to bite the hand covering his mouth. The boy let out a yell, shoving Oikawa to the ground. Free at last, Oikawa started to scream for help.

Before the boy could make a grab at Oikawa, footsteps thudded through the hallway and the door was flung open. A stout woman stood in the doorway, gasping for breath as she looked at the scene with panicked eyes. When her eyes landed on the boy, her expression quickly morphed from fear into anger.

“Hajime,” she barked. “What on earth are you doing in here?”

The boy, who was apparently called Hajime, looked at her with wide eyes before he mumbled an excuse and scowled at the floor. The woman started to march towards Hajime, but then paused, her eyes landing on Oikawa, who, overwhelmed by the situation, was ready to burst into tears. She knelt down next to him and pulled him into a hug.

“You poor child. Did he hurt you?”

Oikawa sniffled as he looked down at the small scrapes on his hands and elbows. As soon as he did, he also noticed the muddy handprints that were stamped all over his arms. That sent him over the edge, and he let out a wail.

“He got dirt on me,” Oikawa cried. “He got dirt all over me, and my clothes, and my hair, and—” It was about that time that he remembered the dirty hand that had been held against his mouth—the one that he had bitten down on. He frantically clawed at his mouth, trying to scrub away the dirt that he was sure coated his lips and tongue, not realizing that he had dirt all over his hands, as well.

At a loss as to what he should do, Oikawa froze in place, shaking slightly and letting out small whimpering noises as he tried to process what had just happened. Strong arms lifted him up as the woman cradled him against her chest. He inhaled the clean, comforting scent of her clothes, which lacked the musk of an alpha or omega. A beta, he thought to himself. He liked betas.

“Let’s get you cleaned up, dear,” she said, standing slowly as Oikawa nestled against her body. She took two steps before stopping abruptly, her head snapping towards the door. Oikawa peered out of her arms just in time to see Hajime starting to slink out of the room.

“Hajime, if you take one more step out of this room, I’ll take away your net and you’ll spend the rest of the summer scrubbing floors and cleaning toilet bowls,” she said, her voice threatening and not unlike the tone that Hajime had directed towards Oikawa only a few moments earlier. The boy didn’t answer, but he also didn’t move another inch. The woman, satisfied that she had sufficiently cowed Hajime, marched out of the room, carrying Oikawa into the nearest bathroom.

She gently placed Oikawa on the floor before immediately starting a bath. Unsure as to what he should do, Oikawa picked at the silky threads of the bathmat, trying hard not to think about all he germs that now coated his skin. He glanced down at his shirt, which was practically painted in mud, and started to let out choked sobs. 

The woman turned toward him and gently placed a hand against his cheek. “We’ll get you cleaned up. And I’ll make sure your clothes are good as new, OK?” He nodded mutely. 

As she placed him in the warm water and started to rub the mud off of his skin, he stared at her features, realizing just how much she looked like Hajime. Her hair, though not as spiky, was short and an inky black, contrasting sharply with her brown skin. There was a small, most likely permanent, furrow between her eyes, but her eyes were soft and she smiled slightly as she worked.

“Who are you?” he asked, finally finding his voice.

“I’m Reiko Iwaizumi,” she said. “I’m your new housekeeper.” Oh, he thought. That explained why he didn’t recognize her. Hired hands came in and left the Oikawa house on a regular basis. Some were fired, but most couldn’t handle Oikawa’s mother’s high demands and meticulous attention to details. On more than a few occasions, Oikawa had envied their ability to leave. He wished he could go with them.

“I’m sorry about Hajime,” she continued. “Once he sets his sights on something, whether it’s a beetle, or a spider, or some other bug, he goes after it until he catches it.” She shook her head and sighed. “I’m not looking forward to the day he presents as an alpha. He’s aggressive enough as it is.”

Oikawa frowned. “He was hunting for bugs?” he said loudly. “That’s gross!”

“It is not!” a voice yelled back, and Mrs. Iwaizumi pursed her lips.

“Hajime,” she called back, “mind your manners.” There was no response, and she nodded her head. Oikawa let out a small breath. The boy, who he guessed was Mrs. Iwaizumi’s son, seemed to have two settings: angry and stoic. He remembered the dark glare the other boy had given him. He wasn’t exactly comfortable with either.

Finally satisfied that she had scrubbed all the dirt off, Mrs. Iwaizumi lifted Oikawa out of the bath, wrapping him in a fluffy towel.

“I’m going to get you some clean clothes, alright?” Oikawa nodded, inspecting his pale skin for any traces of mud. A few moments later, Hajime’s mother brought him a new set of clothes, gathering the dirty shirt and pants in her arms as Oikawa got dressed.

“Is there anything else that I can get you?” she asked kindly, and Oikawa shook his head. She gave him a once over before nodding her head, satisfied with what she saw. He followed close behind as she walked out of the room, doing his best to hide behind her as she walked into the room where Hajime was waiting.

He was standing in the same place that she had left him, arms crossed and jaw jutted out as he glowered at the wall. His mother stared at him before letting out an exasperated sigh. “I’m going to have to hose you off again.”

That quickly caught Hajime’s attention, and he jerked his head toward her. “Can’t I just keep playing,” he groaned. “I’m gonna get dirty again anyways.”

“Absolutely not. I am going to hose you off, and then you are going to sit outside and think about what you’ve done.” She picked him up and carried him toward the kitchen, grumbling about the mess he had made. Oikawa followed, his eyes trained on Hajime’s stiff form, reminded of a YouTube video he’d seen of a cat trying to avoid getting a bath. He smiled slightly at the resemblance.

He stared out the screened kitchen door as Mrs. Iwaizumi set her son in the grass before hunting down the garden hose. Hajime flopped on the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut, seeming to have accepted his fate and given up on life altogether. He hung his head as his mother dragged him up and began to hose the mud off of him. When she finished, she gestured at a small stone bench a few meters away. Hajime, clothes dripping and hair slightly less spiky than before, slouched towards it and then curled up on the cool stone.

Mrs. Iwaizumi gave him a bright smile as she walked back into the house. “If there’s anything I can do for you, Tooru, please let me know. I’m going to tidy up a few things, but all you have to do is call for me, and I’ll be right there.” Oikawa returned her smile with a small smile of his own.

“OK.”

Oikawa waited for a few moments until he could no longer hear her footsteps, then crept towards, staring at Hajime, who looked like a drowned rat and seemed significantly less scary because of it. He eased the door open, flinching as it creaked in protest. Hajime looked up, then quickly glared as Oikawa slowly approached him.

“Go away,” he said gruffly, refusing to look at Oikawa. He jaw clenched as a small sniffle escaped him. Upon closer inspection, Oikawa realized that the boy’s eyes were rimmed with red and puffy with unshed tears. He started to feel a little ashamed for enjoying Hajime’s impromptu bath.

“I’m sorry you had to get hosed,” he said, in an attempt to make peace with the other boy.

“You should be,” Hajime said thickly. “This is all your fault.”

“Is not! You jumped through my window and got me all dirty.”

“Yeah, but you made me lose my beetle,” Hajime accused. “And you started squealing. My mom wouldn’t’ve come if you hadn’t made so much noise.”

Oikawa let out an offended noise. “I didn’t squeal he said.” And then, with an afterthought, said, “And I’m not the one who’s crying right now.”

“’m not crying,” Hajime said through gritted teeth. “Alphas don’t cry.”

“You’re not an alpha. Your mom says that you haven’t presented yet,” Oikawa huffed, displeased by the other boy’s bravado.

“Well I’m not gonna be a stupid omega, at least.” Hajime inclined his chin, daring Oikawa to challenge him. Oikawa tried to hold his gaze, but averted his eyes after a few seconds.

“Omegas aren’t stupid,” he said softly. No matter how many times people talked badly about omegas, it still hurt like a fresh wound. He wondered if he would ever stop caring. “My mom says I’m going to be an omega,” he added, so quietly that he was sure Hajime wouldn’t be able to hear him. He could feel the other boys gaze on him, and he hugged himself, as if he could protect himself against Hajime’s stare.

He started to back away when Hajime said, “No, you’re right. There’s nothin’ wrong with omegas.” He paused. “I still don’t like you, though,” he said with conviction 

Oikawa looked up at him again, surprised by Hajime’s and unsure if he should be thrilled that Hajime didn’t seem to look down on omegas or offended by his bluntness. “Why not? I didn’t mean to make you lose your beetle. I didn’t even know you were in my bushes.”

He shook his head. “Because you’re a sissy.”

“Am not!” Oikawa gasped, any spark of hope that he’d felt extinguished.

“Are too!” Hajime snapped back. “You cried when you got dirt on you.”

“Well dirt is gross,” he said, for lack of a better argument. “And just because I’m an omega doesn’t mean I’m a sissy.”

Oikawa stared defiantly at the ground, wishing that he had never gone anywhere near Hajime. It was bad enough that his mother said terrible things about omegas, that his father gave him disappointing looks when he bothered to come home, and that the other children at school made fun of him for being so small and weak. It wasn’t his fault that he was born this way. He didn’t ask to be this way at all. And he certainly didn’t want to be like this.

As he started to turn away, a slippery hand grabbed his wrist and pulled him back. Surprised, Oikawa stared at Hajime with wide eyes. He tried to shrink away, the tight grip reminding him of the bullies at school who teased him about his glasses and braces, and hit him in places nobody could see. But instead of hitting him, the dark-haired boy gently pulled him closer.

“Omegas aren’t sissies, but you are.” He folded his arms, eyes thoughtful. “I can teach you how to be a strong omega,” he said, slowly and uncertainly, as though he were questioning his words as he said them. He cocked his head to the side. “And I’ll even be your friend if you tell my mom you want to catch bugs with me today.”

A … friend? Oikawa thought. He’d never had any friends, and while he wasn’t entirely sure that he wanted to be friends with someone as brutish as Hajime, he desperately wanted some sort of companionship. And if Hajime could teach him how to be strong, then maybe life wouldn’t be so bad after all.

He nodded resolutely. “Deal.”

Satisfied, Hajime spat into his own hand before offering it to Oikawa. Oikawa stared at it with some trepidation and a lot of disgust. “You gotta shake or it isn’t a deal,” Hajime asserted.

“Can’t we pinky promise instead.” Hajime’s eyes widened as though he’d never even heard of the idea before.

“Real men don’t pinky promise,” he bellowed. “Now shake.”

Swallowing hard and squinting his eyes shut, Oikawa grasped the Hajime’s calloused hand, hoping that his own hand wouldn’t be crushed in Hajime’s hand as he shook hard. When he let go, Oikawa opened his eyes.

“Does this mean we’re friends now?” he asked hopefully. Hajime nodded.

“It means we’re friends.”

“Thank you, Hajime,” Oikawa said excitedly. “I promise you won’t regret it.” Hajime rolled his eyes in response.

“Oi, don’t call me that. I’m regretting it already.”

“Then what am I supposed to call you?” Oikawa asked, confused.

“Iwaizumi.”

Oikawa tested it slowly, tripping over the name as he tried in vain to pronounce it.

“Iwaizumi.” Hajime enunciated, placing an emphasis on each syllable. “You’re saying it all wrong.”

Oikawa mouthed it to himself a few times, before pausing a moment. His face lit up, and Iwaizumi stared at him suspiciously. “Iwa-chan,” he said brightly.

“What,” Iwaizumi deadpanned, his voice flat.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa repeated. “That’s what I’m going to call you now.”

“I heard you the first time,” Iwaizumi said. “And that’s even worse. You can’t call me that.”

“But I can’t pronounce your name,” Oikawa wailed loudly. “How can we be friends if I can’t pronounce your name?” Iwaizumi glanced at the kitchen door, as though he expected his mother to burst out at any moment and attack him with the hose again.

“Alright, alright,” he said quickly. “Sheesh, you’re too loud. Be quiet already. You can call me that until you learn to actually say my name, OK? But after that, no more nicknames. Got it?”

“OK Iwa-chan,” Oikawa sang. Iwaizumi rubbed his hand across his face and sighed wearily, his practically non-existent patience already pushed well beyond its limit. He should’ve stayed home today. It was too late for that, though, so Iwaizumi nudged Oikawa towards the door. He might as well get something in return for his suffering.

“Now you’ve gotta tell my mom that you wanna hunt bugs.”

“Do we actually have to hunt bugs?” Oikawa asked nervously. “Can’t we do something else? 

“Nuh-uh,” Iwaizumi replied. A deal’s a deal. He cocked an eyebrow. “You aren’t gonna go back on a deal, are you?”

“Of course not.” Oikawa met his gaze and nodded firmly, mimicking the nod Mrs. Iwaizumi had sent his way earlier. “A deal is a deal.”

“Good. Now get going.”

Iwaizumi sank back against the bench as he watched Oikawa skip towards the house. This was going to be a very, very long summer.

 


 

 

It was the best summer of Oikawa’s life. After being forced to catch bugs and play in the mud nearly every day of the week, he developed a healthy tolerance for dirt, though he was sure he would never be fond of it and he always immediately took a bath as soon as he got back to the house.

Iwaizumi taught him everything he knew, from climbing trees, to catching crayfish, to hunting for beetles, Oikawa tried it all. And although Oikawa was far from being a morning person, he was up bright and early every day, waiting for Iwaizumi to arrive so that they immediately head out to the small forest behind Oikawa’s house. Even though Iwaizumi pretended otherwise, he knew the other boy was just as eager. On the few mornings that Oikawa had managed to sleep through his alarm, Iwaizumi had been in his room, dragging the brunet out of bed before he could register what was happening. 

Mrs. Iwaizumi, though initially a little worried about her violent son’s sudden interest in her employer’s child, quickly accepted their friendship, slathering Oikawa with layers of sunscreen before the boys went out and making them bagged lunches and sweets that the two would take with them on their adventures. She smiled at the way that Oikawa had begun to open up, smiling and laughing in a way that he had never done before. She was just as pleased that Iwaizumi, though still violent and prone to outbursts, had developed an obvious soft spot for his friend, his playful punches contrasting strongly with the fights that he had gotten into with the boys at his school. They were good for each other, and she hoped that the changes would be permanent, even if their friendship wasn’t.

“Iwa-chan,”Oikawa chirped as the two sat with their feet in the creek on a particularly hot day.

“What?” Iwaizumi sighed, exasperated. He’d been enjoying the way that the small minnows had been nipping at his feet, but Oikawa’s voice, loud as ever, had quickly scared them away.

“When I present as an omega, will you be my alpha?”

Iwaizumi’s face turned bright red. “Don’t say stuff like that, stupid,” he muttered, shoving Oikawa hard enough that he would get his point across, but lightly enough that Oikawa wouldn’t fall into the shallow water. He’d already had to pull a crying Oikawa out of the creek more than a few times and, while it had been funny the first time, it had gotten old fast. 

The brunet’s face fell at the other boy’s dismissal. “You wouldn’t want me as an omega?” he said sadly. Then he stuck his chin out. “Good, because I wouldn’t want a brute like you as my alpha. I’m going to marry someone rich and handsome, and Iwa-chan is going to be stuck all alone, because all of the omegas are going to be scared of him and he won’t have any friends and he’s going be ugly forever and—” Oikawa babbled until Iwaizumi put a hand over his mouth, forcing him to be quiet.

“Cut it out, Idiotkawa,” he said, using one of the nicknames he’d created in retaliation to Oikawa’s ‘Iwa-chan.’ “You know I’d…” he faltered, his face turning an even deeper shade of red. “You’re my best friend. You know I’d want you as an omega,” he finally finished, muttering the last part to himself.

Oikawa let out a haughty sniff and turned his head away. “What makes you think that I’d let you be my alpha?” he asked. He jumped when Iwaizumi let out a bark of laughter.

“’cause no one else would be stupid enough to be stuck with you,” Iwaizumi chuckled, and Oikawa stuck out his tongue.

“You’re still here, though. Doesn’t that make you stupid, then?”

Iwaizumi thought for a moment. “Yeah, I guess it does. But you wouldn’t let me leave even if I tried,” he said, shooting Oikawa a wry grin.

Oikawa let out a “Hmph” and turned away, crossing his arms and turning his nose up dramatically. Iwaizumi poked at him until he finally started laughing, squirming in an attempt to get away while still trying to maintain his balance. Once Iwaizumi was certain that his friend was paying attention, he grabbed Oikawa’s hand and looked him in the eye.

“But I wouldn’t leave you,” he said seriously. “We’ll always be together. And we’ll catch bugs, climb trees, splash in the creek, and have all sorts of adventures together. 

“I don’t think we can do that forever, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa teased, though there was a wistfulness in his voice.

“Yeah?” Iwaizumi challenged. “Who says?” There was a stubborn, determined glint in his eyes.

“Well, there’s my parents….” Oikawa trailed off, reality setting in again. His parents had only been home once or twice over the past couple of months and had no idea that he was stomping around the forest with Iwaizumi instead of reading his books on omega etiquette and practicing piano like he was supposed to. As much as he wanted it to, this wouldn’t—couldn’t—last forever.

A sharp pain in his arm snapped Oikawa out of his reverie. “Iwa-chaaaaaaan,” he whined, “hitting hurts.”

“Stop worrying about your parents, dumbass. They don’t get to decide what you do with your life,” he said, ignoring Oikawa’s scandalized gasp at his language.

“But Iwa-chan—”

“No buts,” Iwaizumi interrupted. “We’re gonna be together forever.” There was a fierce look on his face that reminded Oikawa of the first time he’d met Iwaizumi—when he’d ruined his beetle hunt— and suddenly he remembered what Mrs. Iwaizumi had said about her son. “Once he sets his sights on something, he goes after it until he catches it.”

At that moment Oikawa decided that no matter what, Iwaizumi was going to be his alpha and he was going to be Iwaizumi’s omega. He grinned happily. “Do we have a deal, then?”

The corners of Iwaizumi’s mouth lifted into a smile, and he raised his hand towards his mouth to spit in it. But instead of spitting, he stared at his hand for a moment, then shook his head and held out a pinky. Surprised, Oikawa stared curiously at his friend’s face before locking his pinky with Iwaizumi’s.”

“It’s a deal,” Iwaizumi said.

 


 

 

Oikawa paced impatiently as he waited for Iwaizumi. He had seen Mrs. Iwaizumi’s car pull into the side entrance of the Oikawa’s estate over 15 minutes ago, but Iwaizumi still hadn’t shown up. Sure, it wasn’t the first time Iwaizumi had been late. Mrs Iwaizumi frequently forced her son to help with small chores before he was released to play with Oikawa. Character building, she had called it. Whenever she gave her speech about taking on responsibilities, Iwaizumi would roll his eyes at Oikawa and mouth “annoying” when he thought his mother wasn’t looking. He was almost always given extra chores whenever he did. Oikawa had quickly realized that nothing got past Iwaizumi’s mother.

This time was different, though. Iwaizumi had always waved exasperatedly from the house, yelling for Oikawa to come help him so that they could go exploring sooner. Oikawa had strained his eyes, looking for Iwaizumi’s face in a window or behind the kitchen door, but never saw a trace of his friend.

Oikawa felt a chill run through his body as a slight breeze broke through the still air. He hugged his light jacket closer to his body, trying to ignore the weather and everything it symbolized. Fall was coming, which meant that the summer was coming to an end. Soon both Oikawa and Iwaizumi would be going back to school.

He had begged his mother to let him go to a public school, saying that he would learn just as much there as he would at his expensive private school, but she had just stared at him blankly before giving him a firm no. Why would he want to go to one of those schools? she had asked. Did he really want to spend his time around poor kids who wore hand-me-down clothes and would probably drop out before they made it through high school? Oikawa had just shrugged, not wanting to tell her about Iwaizumi. He didn’t want her to take Iwaizumi away from him. She would ruin their friendship, just like she ruined everything else.

At one point, in a moment of desperation, Oikawa had asked Mrs. Iwaizumi if she would let Iwaizumi go to his school. When she had softly said that they couldn’t afford it, he had puffed out his chest and said that he would pay for it. He got an allowance, and, like a good omega, he was supposed to take care of his alpha. Mrs. Iwaizumi had given him a sad smile.

“I’m not sure that your parents would let Hajime be your alpha,” she had said slowly, as though she was trying to break some sort of terrible news to him. But he had just shaken his head.

“Iwa-chan and I are going to be together forever,” he insisted, refusing to accept her statement as even a possibility. “So can he go to my school?”

The answer had been no, of course, and Oikawa had tried to hide his disappointment. He was supposed to stay with his alpha. What kind of omega was he if he couldn’t even manage that?

Iwaizumi’s mother, almost as good at sensing Oikawa’s moods as her son was, had patted him on the cheek and promised to bring Iwaizumi with her every weekend.

“Does this mean our deal is broken?” he’d asked, sobbing as he’d told Iwaizumi that they wouldn’t be going to the same school.

“’course not,” Iwaizumi had said. “We don’t have to be right next to each other to be together. I go home every day, don’t I? Oikawa had nodded. Do you think we’re not together when I leave for the night? 

Oikawa’s mood had improved slightly after that, though Iwaizumi punched him on a regular basis for “sulking around an idiot.”

 “Sheesh, you act like I’ve died or something. Cut it out,” he’d said. “’sides, you’re an ugly crier.” Oikawa had tried to put his sadness behind him. While it wasn’t the same as seeing him every day, Oikawa had clung to the fact that they wouldn’t be completely separated.

 As he waited for Iwaizumi, though, Oikawa couldn’t help but wonder if the rest of the year was going to feel like this. He felt empty, sitting outside alone without Iwaizumi to hit him, insult him, and pick at him until Oikawa finally cracked a smile. His old worries started to come back as he wondered if Iwaizumi would find a pretty omega at his public school. Maybe he would want someone who he’d get to see every day. What if he found someone who wasn’t annoying like Oikawa? Someone who didn’t whine and complain, and cry. He hugged himself tighter, forgetting the cold and instead trying to hold himself together. He was nothing without his alpha.

 “Oi, Crappykawa! I can practically hear your brain trying to work. Stop thinking so much,” Iwaizumi rasped, as he moved slowly across the yard.

 Oikawa nearly jumped out of his skin. He’d been so absorbed by his own self pity that he hadn’t even heard Iwaizumi sneaking up on him.

 "Rude Iwa-chan,” Oikawa huffed, addressing both Iwaizumi’s growing list of insulting nicknames and the fact that he had snuck up on Oikawa.

 When Iwaizumi didn’t reply, he took a closer look at his friend, scrunching his face up as he examined Iwaizumi. “My, Iwa-chan. You look terrible. Even worse than usual, that is,” he said loftily. “We both know that you’ll never be beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that you should let yourself go completely.”

 Iwaizumi, who had finally made it to Oikawa, punched his friend halfheartedly. “Shut up,” he groaned. “I think I’m getting sick.” Oikawa scrunched up his nose.

 “So you decided to come here and get me sick, too? How inconsiderate of you,” he sniffed, waiting for Iwaizumi to smack him or tell him that his bad personality was getting worse. Instead, Iwaizumi flopped down next to his feet.

“You want me to go home?” he asked. “’cause I’d be more than happy to sleep instead of seeing your ugly face.” He closed his eyes and leaned against Oikawa’s legs. “’sides, I bet spending too much time around you is what got me sick.”

“Please don’t go,” Oikawa said quickly. He didn’t have a lot of time left to spend with Iwaizumi. The last things he wanted his friend to do was leave. ”I promise I’ll be nice. I’ll even pretend that you don’t look like a dead fish right now.”

Iwaizumi snorted at that. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. I knew you’d have a panic attack if I didn’t show up, otherwise I would’ve stayed home,” he slurred, giving Oikawa a loopy smile that might have worried him if he hadn’t been so relieved to see his friend. He slowly placed his hand on Iwaizumi’s head, carding through the dark, spiky hair. Iwaizumi let out a small noise and leaned into Oikawa’s touch. Oikawa couldn’t help but smile at this. He bit back a snarky comment in favor of enjoying a rare moment. It wasn’t very often that his friend shed his tough exterior and displayed his more vulnerable side. As much as he loved going on adventures with Iwaizumi, it was moments like this that he loved most. He could happily do this every day.

Eventually Iwaizumi broke out of his trance, shaking his head in an effort to wake himself up. He stared at Oikawa blearily for a moment before holding out his hand.

 “Help me up.” Oikawa pulled him, struggling a bit since Iwaizumi was practically a dead weight.

 “You’re getting so heavy,” he complained.

 “You’ve just got noodle arms,” Iwaizumi replied, and Oikawa grinned, happy that his friend was still acting somewhat normally. He waited as the dark-haired boy struggled to maintain his balance, swaying slightly as he glanced around with a confused look on his face.

“Head rush?” Oikawa guessed, hoping that it wasn’t anything more serious than that.

“Somethin’ like that,” Iwaizumi muttered, finally just leaning against Oikawa’s shoulder, giving him the chance to look more closely at Iwaizumi. His usually tanned skin was closer to a dusky red, and a sheen of sweat coated his face, slowly seeping into Oikawa’s jacket. “Why is it so damn hot out here?” he asked, wiping his face on the back of his hand.

Oikawa frowned. “Iwa-chan, I don’t think that was what your teachers meant when they said you should learn more words,” he said in response to Iwaizumi’s cursing. He shook his head. “And it’s freezing out here. I’m wearing a jacket and I’m still cold.”

“It’s ‘cause you don’t eat enough. You’re too skinny.” He rested most of his weight on Oikawa’s shoulder, causing his friend to stumble a little. Oikawa wrapped his arms around Iwaizumi’s body, pulling him close in an effort to keep him from falling over.

“It’s OK, Iwa-chan. Cave men like you survived much worse weather.” He brightened, remembering an old science lesson. “Who knows, maybe you’ll evolve!”

Iwaizumi didn’t respond, and Oikawa began to feel heat seeping through his layers of clothing. “You’re burning up, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa said, a little worried at this point. Iwaizumi muttered something indiscernible as he buried his face in Oikawa’s jacket, inhaling deeply.

Somewhere in the back of Oikawa’s mind a red flag went up, telling him that something was very, very wrong, and that he needed to get help. At the same time, though, he couldn’t bring himself to let go of Iwaizumi. This was his friend—his best friend—and his alpha. He was supposed to take care of his alpha. That was what omegas were supposed to do, he rationalized, willing to accept any excuse to keep Iwaizumi next to him. He pulled his friend even closer and held on to him tightly as a chant of minemineminemine went through his head. 

Iwaizumi’s skin was practically scorching Oikawa, and suddenly his jacket felt a little too warm. Maybe Iwaizumi was right. It was hot today. He felt the sweat starting to trickle down his face and neck as he struggled to hold Iwaizumi up. His arms were shaking and he knew that he wasn’t going to be able to do this much longer.

“C’mon,” he murmured, “let’s get you inside. You need to lay down.”

I think I should go home,” Iwaizumi said slowly, as though he were having trouble stringing words together. Oikawa felt a spike of panic shoot through his body at the idea, his senses screaming at him to keep Iwaizumi close. And in spite of what Iwaizumi had said, he clung to Oikawa, refusing to budge even when Oikawa tried to readjust his own grip. Finally he gave up and settled on dragging his friend towards the house.

“Do you want me to get your mom,” he grunted, ignoring all the voices that were telling him not to.

“’s’okay,” he said. “Just promise you’ll stay with me?”

“Always.”

 


 

 

Oikawa was sweating hard by the time they got back. Regardless of whether it was hot outside, it was impossible to ignore how much of the heat was radiating off of Iwaizumi. It was suffocating. In spite of that, he couldn’t get himself to let go of his best friend, and had prayed hard that Mrs. Iwaizumi wouldn’t hear them as they struggled through the house. He pressed his face against Iwaizumi’s neck as they struggled up the stairs, inhaling deeply. He smelled wonderful, though Oikawa had trouble identifying the exact scent. He sniffed a few more times before deciding that it was a mix of pine and the sweet musk that came before a heavy rain. He absently wondered if all the time that Iwaizumi had spent in the woods had caused his skin to become permanently infused with the scent of forest.

They both nearly tripped over the final step as Oikawa hesitantly ran his tongue along the juncture between Iwaizumi’s neck and shoulder, trying to get a taste of the heavenly scent wafting off of his friend. Iwaizumi let out a strangled noise, but leaned into the touch, baring his neck to Oikawa.

Oikawa nuzzled his face against the other boy’s scent glands, trying to mix his own scent with Iwaizumi’s. “Why do you smell so good?” he asked, and Iwaizumi let out a soft moan in response. That was enough to give Oikawa the strength to pull Iwaizumi into his room and set him down on the floor. Before he could stand up straight, though, Iwaizumi was pulling him down on top of him.

They barely registered what happened next, hands fumbling against each other’s clothes as they desperately tried to strip each other down. Oikawa couldn’t get close enough to him, pressing his entire body against Iwaizumi’s and pinning him to the ground as he ran his hands over Iwaizumi’s smooth skin. He hardly registered the heat of Iwaizumi’s body, his own skin burning with the same intensity. Hands still exploring every inch of Iwaizumi, he started to nip against his friend’s neck, occasionally swirling his tongue over the scent glands.

Iwaizumi groaned in response and raked his blunt nails down Oikawa’s back while biting a kissing the closest available parts of his friend’s body. Neck, chin, shoulders, chest—Iwaizumi marked as much of Oikawa as he was able. The brunet felt a shiver of pleasure coarse through his body at Iwaizumi’s enthusiastic response.

He quickly hit a point where touching wasn’t enough. His hands wandered down to Iwaizumi’s hips, which he firmly held in place as he rutted against the dark-haired boy’s body. Iwaizumi inhaled sharply as he attempted to buck his hips up. For the first time ever, Oikawa’s own strength outmatched his friend’s.

“Iwa-chan, Iwa-chan,” he gasped, a guttural sound reverberating through his body as his words quickly dissolved into grunts and moans. He could hear Iwaizumi’s own voice mumbling something against his own ear, but was too far gone to even guess, much less understand, what he was saying.

Instinct taking over completely, he spread Iwaizumi’s legs before snapping his hips forward. A rush of pleasure shot through his body as a cry was ripped from his throat. Iwaizumi writhed below him, just as far gone.

It only lasted a few moments, and as Oikawa hit his climax, his teeth closed down on Iwaizumi’s shoulder, teeth ripping through skin and muscle with a ferocity that he’d never before possessed. He didn’t even hear Iwaizumi’s yell as his vision went white and the metallic taste of blood flooded his mouth. Unable to hold himself up any longer, his body collapsed against the other boy’s, which was heaving as he tried to catch his breath.

Somewhere in the distance Oikawa heard a woman’s shriek before his world went completely black.

 


 

 

Oikawa shut his eyes as quickly as he opened them, partially blinded by the light streaming through his bedroom window. He groggily rubbed a hand against his eyes before letting his arm fall limply against his forehead, too tired to complete the motion. Blinking slowly, he turned his head towards the clock on his nightstand, vaguely wondering if he’d slept through his alarm again. 4 o’clock. He still had a few more hours. He eyes drifted shut again as his brain tried to process the strange idea that it was broad daylight at 4 in the morning.

He shot up, his muscles screaming as he looked at the clock again. 4 PM, not AM. He’d slept through the entire day and Iwa-chan hadn’t woken him up. Heart racing, he flopped against his pillow again, too sore to get up. He must have gotten sick. It was the only reason that would explain why Iwaizumi wasn’t with him, in spite of the fact that they only had a few more days together before they went back to school.

“Iwa-chaaaaan!” he half yelled half croaked, panic starting to set in as he wondered if Iwaizumi had left without telling him goodbye. What if he wasn’t allowed to come back until he was better? Since they had first met, he hadn’t gone longer than a day without seeing his friend. The thought that he might not be able to see Iwaizumi for another week or two terrified him. He needed his Iwa-chan. He was supposed to be here. Why wasn’t he here?

Ignoring his aching muscles, he slid out of bed, then stood in the middle of the room, trying to catch his breath, which was coming out in pants as panic and fear squeezed around his heart. He hugged his arms around himself. This feeling … it was worse than the feeling he’d gotten when the bullies had picked on him, or when his parents had told him how ashamed they were of him, or when he’d felt the disappointed and derisive stares of his teachers and parents’ friends. 

This was different. Iwaizumi was his world, and he felt like that world was crumbling around him. A part of him, the more logical side, knew that he shouldn’t feel this way—that Iwaizumi had just gone home for the day and would be back soon. But somehow it seemed like so much more than that. Iwaizumi was supposed to be here, or he was supposed to be with Iwaizumi. It was impossible to pinpoint, but something just felt wrong. He felt like he’d lost a piece of himself, one that he couldn’t survive without.

“Iwa-chan!” he yelled again, his voice breaking mid syllable. He was about to yell again, but stopped when he heard footsteps and angry voices echoing through the hallway. He sniffed the air, disappointment clouding his mind. It smelled all wrong, not at all like Iwaizumi. Before he had a chance to even consider who else it might be, his mother flung the door open, her eyes blazing with anger. In spite of his panic, Oikawa took a step back. He’d seen her angry before, but never like this. 

“Tooru, dear,” she gritted out. “What are you doing out of bed?” She smoothed her face into what she probably thought was a soft look, though it really was just a slightly-less-angry glare. To his mother, Oikawa thought, they were probably one and the same.

 When he didn’t respond, she pursed her lips. “Get back in bed, Tooru,” she said firmly. “You’re sick. You’ve been sick and hallucinating all morning.” She eyed the man next to her, who, as if on cue, nodded.

 The man held out his hand. “I’m Dr.—” he started to say, before Oikawa’s mother cut him off.

 “I have several phone calls to make. I trust you can take care of things,” she said, arching a brow.

 The doctor smiled thinly. “Of course. I’ll make sure that everything is OK.”

“Good. Get back in bed, Tooru,” she snapped, before turning on heel and walking out of the room. Oikawa, against his will but in line with his better judgment, slunk back into bed.

 The doctor knelt next to him, silent as he pulled out his stethoscope, as well as several other tools that Tooru didn’t recognize.

 “Congratulations, son,” he said as he checked Oikawa’s vitals. Oikawa cocked his head to the side, more than a little perplexed. The doctor seemed to notice his confusion, and elaborated. “You presented as an alpha today. Your parents are so proud.”

 “An alpha?” Oikawa said, not sure if he was hearing the man correctly. “But I’m an omega. I can’t be an alpha.” The man winked at him.

 “That’s not what your body is saying. You’re 100% full-blooded alpha.”

 Oikawa was silent for a few moments as it sank in. That at least explained why his mother was home. He knew he ought to be happy. His parents might actually be proud of him for once, rather than finding excuses not to see or talk to their omega son. But somehow that didn’t matter to him. Not anymore, at least.

 “I can’t be an alpha,” he said, hysteria starting to set in. “I’m supposed to be an omega. I have to be an omega. I can’t—” he let out a small sob. “I can’t be with Iwa-chan if I’m not an omega.” His voice dropped to a whisper as he hung his head, hot tears splashing against his pants. The doctor patted his back comfortingly as Oikawa cried.

 “I think,” he said, “that you are the first person I have ever met who has been upset about being an alpha. You’re a special kid, and I’m sure your Iwa-chan would want to be with you regardless of what you presented as.” He gave Oikawa a smile, which Oikawa returned with a small smile of his own.

 “Do you really think so? Do you think that he wouldn’t care?” Oikawa asked hopefully.

“I don’t see why not. Both of your parents are alphas, are they not?” Oikawa wrinkled his nose slightly at that, but nodded. “Then there you have it,” the doctor exclaimed, shooting Oikawa a conspiratorial grin. “There’s no reason why you and your Iwa-chan can’t be together.”

“And who exactly is this ‘Iwa-chan’?” a cold voice clipped. Both Oikawa and the doctor flinched as they turned their heads towards the door, where Mrs. Oikawa was standing. The doctor stood quickly, bowing slightly to Oikawa’s mother.

“He seems to be in excellent condition, madam,” the doctor began, but she held her hand up and walked past him, kneeling slightly so that she was on eye level with her son. Oikawa swallowed hard, his mother’s face so close that he wasn’t able to look anywhere else.

“He’s my friend,” he mumbled, a spike of affection shooting through him in spite of the situation. Mrs. Oikawa frowned.

“This ‘friend’ wouldn’t happen to be the son of our former housekeeper, would he?” Oikawa’s eyes went wide, his panic at having his secret discovered preventing him from registering exactly what his mother had said. The woman took that as a yes, her lips pressing into a hard line as a spark of fury ignited behind her eyes.

“Is he here?” Oikawa asked, his desire to see his friend outweighing his fear of his mother. “Did he come over at all today?” His eyes slid to the side. “I need to tell him that I’m an alpha.”

Confusion flashed across Mrs. Oikawa’s face for a split second. “Tooru,” she said slowly, “when was the last time that you saw your,” she paused, “friend.” She spat the last word out as though she found it personally offensive.

“Yesterday,” he said hesitantly, worried that he was going to get in trouble because of it. But his mother’s face broke into an elated smile, which had Oikawa recoiling, because anything that made his mother genuinely happy couldn’t be a good thing.

She turned to the doctor. “Well?”

The doctor looked between the two of them. “It isn’t entirely uncommon,” he started.

“Good,” she said. “Now if you don’t mind, please wait outside while I speak with my son.” Her tone gave the impression that she didn’t really care one way or the other what the doctor thought. She waited as the man slipped through the door, closing it gently behind him, before she turned back to her son.

She cupped her hand against Oikawa’s cheek, her hands, though softer than those of Iwaizumi’s mother’s, felt threatening as she pressed her long nails against his jaw. As hard as he tried to resist it, Oikawa couldn’t help but bare his neck to her in submission, an action that left her looking both pleased and disgusted at the same time. 

“Tooru, dear,” she began, “presenting as an alpha is both mentally and physically taxing. The doctor says that it’s not uncommon to hallucinate when it happens, as your body is going through a lot of changes that your mind might have some difficulty processing.” She caressed her hand against his cheek, her nails lightly scraping against his fair skin. She lifted his chin up, forcing him to look into her eyes. “It’s very important that you realize that none of these hallucinations are real. They’re just dreams, do you understand?”

Oikawa tried to nod, but his mother’s iron grip held him in place. “I understand,” he said in a small voice. When she let go, he let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He stared after his mother, who had already started to walk away, her gaze fixed on her phone as she tapped the screen a few times before holding the device against her ear.

“Your father will be here tomorrow morning to talk with you about this,” she said in a distracted voice. “Try not to cause too much trouble until them.”

“Wait, Mother.” Oikawa racked his brain for something to say. More than anything he wanted to see his friend, but he also knew that was the last thing his mother would give him were he to ask. “Can Mrs. Iwaizumi make me food while I’m sick?” he asked quickly, knowing that anything she made would be delivered by Iwaizumi.

Oikawa’s mother paused at the door. “Mrs. Iwaizumi stopped by the house today to drop off her letter of resignation,” she said tersely. “She and her family had to move away. It was a family emergency, I believe. She didn’t leave a forwarding address.” And with that, she shut the door, leaving Oikawa in a state of shock. He listened numbly as her heels echoed through the hallway, trying desperately to process what she had said as the words ‘resignation’ and ‘moved away’ floated through his mind like foreign and abstract ideas.

“Iwa-chan,” he whispered, barely registering the tears as they spilled down his face. His friend had left without even saying goodbye. Even if it had been an emergency, he knew Iwaizumi would have fought tooth and nail to at least say goodbye to Oikawa. He swallowed hard. Maybe this was his fault. He’d broken his end of the deal by presenting as an alpha. Maybe Iwaizumi didn’t want to be with another alpha, and had decided that leaving his friend would be better than being friends with a promise breaker.

“I’m sorry,” he sniffed. “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t want to.” He clutched at his sheets, wishing desperately that he could go back and find a way to change it all. Before he had met Iwaizumi, he had wished almost every day that he could be an alpha, or even a beta. Anything but an omega. But ever since he had met Iwaizumi, no one else had mattered. He’d be happy being an omega as long as they were together.

 

Burying his face in his pillow, he tried hard to ignore the gaping hole in his chest as he sobbed and grieved for everything he’d lost.

Chapter Text

Oikawa let out a slow breath as he gripped the edge of his bathroom counter. The face staring back at him through the mirror grimaced slightly, having noted every single imperfection that it could possibly find. Today was the first day of his last year of high school, and it wasn’t off to a good start.

Touching the bruises that lined the underside of his eyes, he tried and failed to ignore the fact that he looked like something off the set of a B-rated zombie movie. Letting out a sigh, he grabbed the tube of concealer that lay next to his toothbrush. He’d hoped that he would be able to put off using it until he was at least a couple weeks into the semester, but he had a feeling he’d be using it more often than not.

He dabbed at the dark circles, which were the culmination of the sleepless summer nights he’d spent watching old volleyball matches in a determined effort to prepare himself for his role as captain of the Aobajōsai volleyball team. He couldn’t say that it hadn’t been worth it, but he was beginning to regret having done it the night before school started. Going to sleep at 2 and waking up at 5 probably hadn’t been the best idea, and now he got to deal with the fallout 

Mentally cursing last night’s decisions, he screwed the cap back on the tube and tossed it at the mirror. “Good enough,” he sighed to himself as he checked the rest of his appearance. His uniform was perfect, he’d remembered to swap his glasses for contacts, he’d covered the few breakouts that had dotted his skin, and his hair, which he’d spent the better part of the morning taming, was flawless.

He absently smoothed the brown waves, a nervous tic he’d developed somewhere around the time that his mother had started to take an interest in his appearance. Previously, when she had thought that he was an omega, she’d hired people to take care of his appearance, an act that had been completely in vain, since Oikawa had bribed them into leaving him alone.

There had been no bribing his mother, though, who had quickly decided that she was going to turn her now alpha son into something she could be proud of. She’d started with his glasses, snapping them in half and tossing them in the trash, saying that she might let him get a new pair once he learned to wear his contacts whenever he was out in public.

Next she had turned her attention to his teeth. Oikawa had been lucky in that respect, since, having worn his braces for several years, he’d only need them for a few more months. Still, his mother, ever impatient, had had them removed and replaced with braces that went behind his teeth.

After that, it had been his hair, his clothes, his skin—anything that she could possibly change sans cosmetic surgery (though Oikawa was almost positive she’d considered it). It had left Oikawa reeling as he’d tried to hold onto what little remained of his identity. Most of it was now stored under his bed in the form of old alien t-shirts, sci-fi posters, and glow-in-the-dark stars as he’d forced himself to embrace the persona that his mother had created for him.

As much as he’d hated it, he’d come to appreciate the results. They hadn’t been instantaneous, as his classmates had had just as much trouble accepting the changes that had occurred over the course of couple of weeks as he had. Still, the bullies who had previously tormented him suddenly found new victims, his teacher’s snide comments had been replaced by silence, and little by little, his classmates began to talk to him. It had given him the boost of confidence he’d needed to come out of his shell. After that, he’d joined the school’s volleyball team, started taking in actual interest in his grades, and had begun meticulously crafting a personality that everyone would love. By the time he’d reached high school, his popularity had exploded.

Oikawa winked at his reflection before grabbing his teal and white school bag and heading out the door. Traces of the summer’s warmth were still in the air, and he slung his jacket over his shoulder, grateful that his parent’s driver hadn’t insisted on taking him to school. He enjoyed the brief walk, and it gave him time to think and prepare himself for the day. He certainly wouldn’t have any time for that once he got to school.


It had been nothing short of a miracle that his parents had allowed him to go to Aobajōsai. Had he been an omega, his parents probably would have insisted that he go to what was now his current school, which was primarily populated by omegas and betas. But as an alpha, he was supposed to have gone Shiratorizawa—the school that his parents had chosen for him—which was known for producing successful alphas and had more than a few notable alumni. At the time, he hadn’t been comfortable enough in his own skin to go there, though. It was competitive, and while he had learned to enjoy being challenged both athletically and academically, the students there had no issue trampling each other to get to the top. There would have been a whole new league of bullies, and Oikawa hadn’t been ready for that back then.

Finding out the Ushijima was going to be there certainly hadn’t had an influence on his decision. Nope, not at all.

The boy, also an alpha, came from a powerful family known for its political influence in Japan and its role in the food industry. If you asked Oikawa, which no one had, Ushijima was the single most boring person in Japan, if not on the face of the planet. Not long after presenting, he’d found out that his parents had planned making him Ushijima’s mate. Being an alpha had more than a few perks, and not having to mate with Ushijima was at the very top of that list. Oikawa had found that in spite of being an alpha, Ushijima still had a strange fixation on him, and he suspected that had both families not needed heirs, Ushijima would have insisted that they be mates.

So Oikawa had used the only argument he could think of: Aobajōsai, a private school, had the largest percentage of wealthy omegas in the entire prefecture, and he could start looking for a mate whose status matched or exceeded his own. Very few omegas went to college, so any matches after that would most likely have to be arranged. He had expected his parents to scoff and tell him that omegas were the last thing he needed to be thinking about right now, but his mother had gotten a thoughtful look on her face 

Staring hard at his father, who had been shaking his head, she’d said, “I think it might be a good idea to let Oikawa meet a variety of omegas while he is still young. It would be best for everyone if he found one he liked.”

Oikawa hadn’t missed the deliberateness with which she’d spoken. It was strange that she actually seemed willing to let him select his own mate, something that he had been sure his parents had planned to choose for him. While some families did let their alpha sons and daughters find their own mates, most preferred to treat it like a business transaction, selecting whomever would benefit their families most. He would have guessed that his parents would’ve fallen in that category.

As he walked up the school’s drive, he steeled himself for the hoard of said omegas who were, without a doubt, waiting for him. He didn’t have to wait long. Even if the girls hadn’t been looking for him, his scent preceded him. His parents hadn’t wanted him to use scent blockers, believing that alphas shouldn’t adjust their natures to accommodate their other secondary genders. And while his scent wasn’t overpowering, it was distinct and stood out from the other alphas’ scents.

“Oikawa-san!” An omega girl from his fan club ran towards him, followed closely by several of her friends, who were just as excited to see him.

“Mai-chan,” he said cheerfully, flashing her one of his signature smiles as she practically collided with him, knocking the breath out of him as she pulled him into a hug. “How was your summer?” he asked, wheezing slightly as he tried to catch his breath.

“So boring,” she complained, completely oblivious to the fact that she’d nearly destroyed his solar plexus. “My parents made me stay with my grandparents for most of it.”

He made a sympathetic noise, which was mostly drowned out as more girls joined their group and gathered around Oikawa, trying hard to get his attention.

“I get first dibs!” Mai said, whipping out her phone and taking a selfie with him before any of the other girls had a chance to do the same.

“Oikawa-san! Take one with me, too!” Oikawa felt himself being pulled to the side, and he barely had enough time to throw up a peace sign and smile before he heard a telltale click, notifying him that yet another picture had been taken. He had no idea which girl that had been with, but he was sure he would be tagged in all of the photos later. And while it didn’t really matter one way or another to him, he enjoyed the attention regardless.

He posed playfully with the girls, most of whom were omegas, though there were several betas and even a couple of alphas. Occasionally they were joined by one or two omega boys, though it didn’t happen often. Most of the girls went out of their way to make them feel uncomfortable and excluded from the group. It hadn’t been until high school that Oikawa had realized exactly why he had been singled out by the bullies, even though there had been dozens of omegas in his grade. 

People, he’d found, tended to look down on male omegas. They were a minority group and were largely discriminated against—to the point that some schools wouldn’t allow them to play sports or take certain classes, rationalizing their decision by saying that male omegas were far more likely to get hurt when going up against male alphas and betas.

Personally, Oikawa thought it was bullshit, but he usually kept his mouth shut in spite of the overwhelming guilt he felt at not doing anything for the male omegas who had, for the most part, given up on trying to attract Oikawa’s attention and affections. He’d worked hard to move up the school’s social hierarchy, and the thought of having all of that destroyed by a few careless words terrified him. Nearly all of the school adored him, and he adored their adoration. He didn’t want to lose that. 

The bell rang, snapping Oikawa out of his reverie as the girls let out a chorus of groans. “We’ll talk more at lunch,” Oikawa promised. “I want to hear about your summers!” He waved at them, and a couple of girls from his class latched onto his arms, practically dragging him along as they chattered.

He flinched as soon as they walked into the school. An almost imperceptible but strangely familiar scent lingered in the air. It had been diluted by the scents of all the other students walking through the halls, but in spite of that, it somehow managed to stand out from all the rest.

All senses on alert, Oikawa cocked his head to the side as he inhaled deeply, trying to place the scent. Closing his eyes, completely oblivious to the strange looks he was getting from other students, he sniffed the air a few more times, trying to coax out a memory that lingered somewhere at the edge of his mind. It was like trying to remember a dream, though, one that moved just out of his reach as soon as he had begun to remember snatches of it.

“Um, Oikawa-san. Are you OK?” He snapped his eyes open, realizing that the girls were now staring at him with concerned looks on their faces. He bit back a blush, unsure of what had come over him. The scent was gone now, making him wonder if he’d imagined it.

“Oh…. Yes, of course!” He flashed them a smile, trying to conceal his irritation at having completely lost the scent he’d been so desperately trying to place. “I’m sorry, my … sinuses have been bothering me a bit lately,” he said lamely. “Please, continue.” The seemed satisfied with his explanation and went back to their conversation, either not having noticed or having chosen to ignore Oikawa’s frantic attempt to draw attention away from himself. It happened so rarely that he was surprised that they hadn’t noticed.

“Oikawa-san, w-w-wait.” He immediately stopped, waving away the rest of the girls. He knew exactly what this was, having dealt with it on a daily basis since high school had begun. Mentally preparing himself, he turned to find a small omega girl—second year, if he remembered correctly—following closely behind him.

“I’ll catch up with you,” he called to his classmates before turning back to the girl, who was toying with her hair nervously as she stared at the floor. “Seiko-chan, isn’t it?” he asked softly, and she nodded. “What can I do for you?”

“You remembered me?” she said shyly, her eyes hopeful.

He smiled, trying to put her at ease. “Of course. I couldn’t possibly forget a face as pretty as yours,” he said, then cringed inwardly as her face lit up. Most girls appreciated the flattery for what it was, while a few practically considered it a marriage proposal. He really, really hoped she didn’t fall into the latter category. The last time he’d met a girl like that, he’d had to change his phone number and sneak around the school for weeks. The volleyball team had thought that it was hilarious—up until Hanamakki’s gym locker, mistaken for Oikawa’s, had been doused in perfume and covered in love notes. They’d had to change in the school’s bathrooms for several weeks after, and Makki’s uniform still smelled like floral Eau de Parfum. As bad as it had been, in Oikawa’s mind, that alone had made the trauma worthwhile.

Apparently that had been the extra boost of confidence that Seiko had needed, and she quickly thrust a pink envelope into his hands, blushing furiously as she immediately averted her eyes. “I really like you, Oikawa-san. I hope that you’ll think about reading this. I would be honored if you would consider letting me be your girlfriend.” She said it quickly and quietly, and Oikawa could barely understand what she had said. All confessions were essentially the same, though, so he knew he could give her the same response he’d given all the other girls.

He was sure that they’d all heard it at least five or six times, either directly receiving it or hearing it secondhand from one of their friends. Since he knew that none of them could have possibly forgotten his answer, he figured that they were either hoping that he would change his mind or that they would be the exception. Possibly a little bit of both

As he opened his mouth to answer, he caught a slight whiff of the same scent that he’d smelled earlier. Distracted, he tried to recompose his thoughts as Seiko’s hopeful expression began to fall. 

“While I think that you’re a wonderful person, Seiko-chan, and I would be truly lucky to date you, I’m waiting until college to date,” he recited with a sympathetic smile. “I want to make sure that I can dedicate my full attention to whomever I’m fortunate enough to date.”

At least, that was what he had meant to say.

Instead he said, “I’m a wonderful person you’d be truly lucky to date, but I don’t want to dedicate my attention until I’m fortunate enough to be in college.” And what he had planned to be sympathetic smile actually manifested itself as a wry grin.

The girl looked utterly crushed, running away before Oikawa even realized what he had said.

“Wait! Seiko-chan! I didn’t mean it like that!” he called, but she had already turned the corner and was gone. Oikawa let out a groan, scrubbing his face with his hand as he shoved the envelope into his bag shuffled to class. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d made a girl cry like that.

It wasn’t that they never cried, but usually it was out of disappointment, and he’d always managed to cheer them up somehow. He knew that he’d managed to completely insult this girl while simultaneously disregarding her feelings. It was probably his worst response to a confession—and that was including the embarrassing middle school confessions. 

When Oikawa had first begun receiving confessions, he’d been thrilled. Thrilled, until he discovered that he had no idea what to do with them. The first had been awkward on both his and the other girl’s part. She’d handed him her letter, and they’d both stood there, stammering and red faced, neither one having had experience with confessions before. He had read through the letter at least 20 times prior to going back to school the next day, where he was relieved to find that the girl was too embarrassed to pursue the issue.

 That had been the beginning of a long string of confessions, which had happened more frequently with each year that passed. The college excuse would last him for another year, and that meant that soon he would have to come up with a new excuse—that or actually give in and pick an omega.

 It wasn’t that Oikawa didn’t want to be in a relationship. He really did. But what he’d never told anybody was that he just wasn’t attracted to anyone. It didn’t matter if they were male or female; alpha, omega, or beta. Sure, he’d met people he’d found attractive, but finding someone attractive and being attracted to them were two entirely different things.

He’d done his best to hide it. He flirted with girls on a regular basis, and had even gone out with a couple of them, but had later cited his preoccupation with volleyball as his reason for breaking up with them. Sure, volleyball monopolized most of his free time, but if he had really wanted to, he could have found a way to balance it with dating.

 Unfortunately the idea of actually being with someone made him sick. He’d hated holding hands, kissing, and ultimately pretending to like someone he couldn’t care less about. It had felt wrong. And while he wanted a mate, he’d almost decided that he’d rather be single for life than be with someone he couldn’t love. He didn’t want to end up like his parents, and he most certainly didn’t want to be with someone who loved him in a way he couldn’t reciprocate. At least his parents had a mutual understanding that they would never love each other.

He could pretend to love someone. No one had seen through his persona thus far. And if they had, they’d never said anything about it. Even if he’d wanted to, he wasn’t sure that he could maintain that façade indefinitely. He at least had the luxury of dropping all pretenses when he went home. He’d go insane if he lost that.

The second bell rang and he hurried into his classroom, sitting down just in time to catch snatches of the latest gossip being exchanged by the students sitting near him.

They were arguing over something. Having sat down during what appeared to be the middle of the argument, he was having trouble following exactly what was being said, but he turned his full attention to them, wanting to forget about the botched confession.

“Did something happen?” he asked curiously, as they came to what seemed to be the end of their disagreement.

“Yes, actually. And we were all talking about it until someone had to go off topic,” said one of the girls, who was perched lightly on the surface of the desk next to Oikawa’s. She shot a glare at her friend, who made a face.

“Where were we?” the girl to his right interrupted, tapping her pencil against her lips. Her face lit up. “That’s right! The new student in our year.” The others murmured their agreement, and Oikawa found himself instantly interested, as it wasn’t very often that a student transferred into their school.

“I heard that he’s a beta,” one girl said. 

“There’s no way he’s a beta,” another argued. “I saw him this morning. He’s totally an alpha.”

“Wait, you saw him?” her friend squealed. “Why didn’t you tell me? I’ve been dying to know ever since I heard that he’d transferred here.”

“Didn’t you just hear about it yesterday,” a beta boy asked boredly. He was instantly ignored.

“I’m sorry! I forgot.”

“How did you forget about that? That’s, like, top-rated gossip.”

“Forget about all that,” the first girl said, holding up a hand. She turned to the girl who had initially admitted to seeing the new student. “Sooooo,” she said with a sly grin, “what was he like?”

“He was perfect,” she said with a dramatic sigh, reveling in the attention. “He had this dark hair—” 

“Which describes practically every guy in Japan,” the beta boy grumbled. “Get on with it.” She stuck out her tongue out at him, but continued.

“His skin was really tan. I would have guessed that he went to a tanning bed or something, but he’s kinda rugged looking and he’s really buff. I bet he works out all the time.” She gave them an impish grin. “Beta or not, I would totally date him.”

 The girls started discussing ways to casually run into him, and Oikawa tried to decide whether or not he ought to be jealous of the attention this new student was already getting. It might not be so bad, he considered. He was constantly in the spotlight, and it was starting to wear on him.

 Just as the final bell rang, their homeroom teacher walked into the room, having what appeared to be an amicable but one-sided conversation with a dark-haired boy who followed closely behind her. As soon as they crossed the threshold between the hallway and classroom, the entire room went quiet. The boy froze and a look of surprise crossed his face. He seemed to have lost his bearings, as his face flickered through a variety of expressions—only one or two of which Oikawa was able to identify—before going stoic.

The silence didn’t last very long, and less than a few seconds later everyone was whispering to each other, asking and confirming the identity of the new student. Oikawa tuned them out, turning his full focus to the object of everyone’s attention.

The young male crossed his tan arms across his chest as he scowled at the ground. His discomfort was practically tangible, and it was obvious he didn’t like being looked at. His uniform was slightly disheveled and Oikawa noticed a small black stud in his ear. If he’d wanted to lay low, then he was going about it in the worst way possible, as his style seemed to only excite the girls even more.

“As some of you seem to already know,” the teacher said, talking over the students, “we have a new student who will be joining us for the rest of the year.” She gestured to the boy standing next to her. “Would you mind introducing yourself?” she asked, smiling encouragingly. Oikawa squinted at him. This person was familiar, though he couldn’t put a name to the face that he was sure he recognized.

The dark-haired boy stared past everyone, refusing to make eye contact with any of the students staring at him. “Iwaizumi Hajime,” he said gruffly, and Oikawa’s jaw dropped. The teacher waited expectantly and Iwaizumi finally added, “Beta.”

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa whispered, much louder than he’d realized, because several heads turned toward him.

“Oh, do you two know each other?” the teacher asked, cocking her head to the side. Iwaizumi, meanwhile, looked horrified. His tanned face had paled to a color that was only a few shades darker than Oikawa’s own porcelain skin tone. His rigid posture was one of someone caught between fight, flight, and freeze.

Iwaizumi responded “No” at the same time that Oikawa said “Yes,” and everyone looked back and forth between the two with curious expressions.

“We’re childhood friends,” Oikawa elaborated, his eyes trained on Iwaizumi’s face.

“I’ve, uh, moved around a lot. It’s been difficult to keep track of everyone I met.” Iwaizumi shifted uncomfortably, and Oikawa felt a stab of hurt. While it had been awhile since he’d thought about the friend he’d met several summers ago, he’d never forgotten about him. And if he’d read Iwaizumi’s expression correctly, his former friend had hadn’t forgotten him, either.

Had this happened a few years ago, Oikawa wouldn’t have been surprised at all. But now? Most people would kill to be in his friend circle right now. He was at the top of Aobajōsai’s metaphorical food chain. With only a few exceptions (namely the volleyball team) everyone wanted to be with him, be him, or some combination of the two. And while he wouldn’t have necessarily expected Iwaizumi to fit into either of those categories, he never would have expected him to deny knowing Oikawa.

 His mind flashed back to their summer together, the fond memories somewhat tainted by Iwaizumi’s attitude towards him. They had made so many promises to each other…. Had he really forgotten about all of that? It had been awhile, but it hadn’t been that long. It wasn’t as though they’d been too young to remember each other.

 He continued to stare at Iwaizumi, who glared back defiantly. He couldn’t help but notice that Iwaizumi’s gaze wavered a little, as though he was struggling to maintain eye contact. It was interesting, and definitely not the behavior he would have expected from someone as belligerent as Iwaizumi. Even as a child, Oikawa had found it impossible to get the other boy to back down from anything. And while, as an alpha, Oikawa was a force to be reckoned with, he never would have guessed for a second that he would have been able to get Iwaizumi to yield to him.

The teacher, either oblivious to the tension between the two boys or trying to alleviate the awkwardness, clasped her hands and smiled. Nodding at Oikawa she said, “Since you seem to know Iwaizumi-kun, would you mind showing him around the school and helping him get settled in?”

“That’s really not necessary,” Iwaizumi protested weakly.

“I’d be more than happy to,” Oikawa interjected, plastering a smile on his face as he turned to the teacher. “Would you mind if I showed him around right now?” he asked. “It would be easier to do it when everyone else isn’t crowding the hallways.” He didn’t tell her that he really just wanted some time alone with Iwaizumi—time that wouldn’t be monopolized by fan girls or students curious about their new classmate.

The teacher nodded. “Alright. But don’t get into any trouble and make sure that you go to your next class.”

Oikawa stood, picking up his bag as he headed toward the front of the room. “Of course, sensei. Thank you.”

He grabbed Iwaizumi’s wrist, tugging him out of the room before he had a chance to react. As soon as he closed the classroom door behind them, Iwaizumi jerked his hand out of Oikawa’s grasp. Oikawa’s fingers tingled from the sudden loss of contact, and he fought the sudden urge to take the other boy’s hand again.

They stared at each other for a few moments. Oikawa tried in vain to think of something to say as Iwaizumi’s hostile gaze burned through him. He felt the need to explain himself and justify all the changes that had taken place after Iwaizumi had moved.

“Do you have your schedule,” he finally asked, trying to fill the uncomfortable silence. Iwaizumi silently reached into his pants pocket, then handed Oikawa a crumpled piece of paper. After surveying it for a moment, he nodded.

“OK, let’s walk through the classrooms on your schedule.”

“I’m sure I can find them without your help,” Iwaizumi grunted, pulling the paper out of Oikawa’s hands and barely avoiding giving him a paper cut.

Oikawa shook his head. “It’s my job as your senpai to ensure that you are properly acquainted with our lovely school,” he said, raising his nose as he gestured around him grandly.

“Ow!” he yelped, as Iwaizumi smacked him on the back of his head.

“One,” he said, holding up a forefinger, “you’re not my senpai. And two,” he held up another finger, “that facial expression and pose piss me off. Cut it out.”

“Iwa-chaaaaan! That’s just my face,” Oikawa whined.

“Yeah, I know.” He started walking, staring at the paper in his hands as he went. “And stop calling me Iwa-chan,” he added.

Oikawa stared after him for a moment before he remembered that he was supposed to be showing him around.

“Wait!” he yelped, bolting after Iwaizumi. “There are letters and numbers on the doors. How are you going to find the right classrooms without someone to read them for you?”

“It seems pretty intuitive,” Iwaizumi said dryly.

“That’s an awfully big word for you, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa teased, hoping to pull Iwaizumi back into the playful banter they had exchanged as children.

Iwaizumi turned toward him, jaw clenched and eyes blazing. “Are you usually this rude to people you barely know?” he asked. “Because if so, then I’m honestly surprised that you have any friends at all.”

Oikawa immediately thought back to his conversation with Seiko earlier that morning. “I was just trying to be friendly,” he said faintly. Swallowing hard, he forced himself to think about Iwaizumi’s schedule instead. “I think your first class is this way,” he said pointing ahead. He started walking, hoping that Iwaizumi would follow. After a moment he could hear the other boy’s footsteps behind him, which made him feel a little better. A little, but not by much.

Iwaizumi hung back as they walked, choosing to walk behind Oikawa rather than next to him. Unused to rejection, especially from someone who mattered, or at least had mattered, to him, Oikawa tried his best to detach himself from the situation. He tried to pretend that Iwaizumi had been a brief acquaintance rather than a close friend. Had Oikawa been as good at fooling himself as he was others, it would have worked, but he found it impossible to deny the connection he felt with Iwaizumi.

“So,” Oikawa said lightly, trying to conceal his dejection, “do you really not remember me?”

“Should I?” was Iwaizumi’s flat response. 

“We did spend an entire summer together.”

“That isn’t exactly a long time,” Iwaizumi said. “Why should I remember it?”

It felt like a loaded question, though Oikawa had no idea what Iwaizumi could possibly be trying to get out of it. He shook his head, trying not to read too far into it. 

“It meant a lot to me,” he started. “That summer was the best summer of my life. I thought … I would have thought,” he amended, “that it would have meant something to you, too.”

“Glad I could be of service,” was all Iwaizumi said.

Oikawa didn’t pursue the issue any further after that. The two walked in silence as Oikawa tried to process what had happened. By the time he had finished walking Iwaizumi around he school, the bell had rung, and Oikawa was no closer to understanding Iwaizumi than he had been at the beginning of their walk.

As soon as he heard the bell, Iwaizumi walked away, not even bothering to thank Oikawa or at least say goodbye to him. Oikawa stared after him, watching him smile slightly at the students who approached him to introduce themselves. His heart sank as he realized that Iwaizumi’s frigid behavior seemed to be reserved exclusively for him.

He was quickly distracted by his fan club, which made him feel a little better about himself—knowing that there were still people who were interested in him and wanted to be around him. Just the same, he couldn’t ignore the glaringly obvious fact that they weren’t Iwaizumi. He wanted Iwaizumi to look at him with the same adoration that his fans did. Suddenly everyone else’s attention felt insubstantial in comparison to Iwaizumi’s. 

In spite of Iwaizumi’s attitude towards him, which was extremely off putting, Oikawa wanted to be friends with the other boy. Maybe it was because he still missed the friend he had lost years ago, the one who had known and accepted the real him, or maybe it was because he couldn’t stand the idea of someone disliking him, but Oikawa wanted—needed—Iwaizumi in his life.

 


 

Much to Oikawa’s excitement, and Iwaizumi’s obvious chagrin, the two shared several classes, one of which was gym.

“There is a god,” Oikawa breathed softly as Iwaizumi emerged from the locker room. The dark-haired boy was wearing the school-issued shorts, which showed off his toned legs, but even better than that was the black muscle tank that he was wearing. Oikawa couldn’t help but think that it had been aptly named, since it showcased Iwaizumi’s powerful arms perfectly.

While Oikawa was in incredible shape, running and lifting weights on a regular basis to stay in top shape for volleyball, his own physique paled in comparison to Iwaizumi’s. He couldn’t take his eyes off Iwaizumi as the other boy walked up to the coach and handed him the teal shirt that completed the gym uniform.

“It’s a little tight,” he mumbled somewhat apologetically.

The coach just nodded and accepted the shirt. “I’ll find you another one tomorrow,” he replied. “We don’t exactly approve of students wearing clothes that expose their shoulders, but I’ll make an exception today.”

“I wish they’d make an exception for him every day,” one of the students murmured. A few others made quiet noises of assent. If they’d been able to take it to a vote, Oikawa was almost positive that the entire class would agree that Iwaizumi should wear sleeveless shirts every day. Oikawa, for one, would never miss gym if he knew he could see that one a regular basis. 

When the coach yelled for everyone to run ten laps, Iwaizumi took off at a sprint, as though he was doing everything in his power to avoid social interaction. Oikawa, whose legs were longer than Iwaizumi’s, had no trouble catching up with him, and ran alongside him as they circled the gym.

“You really can’t take a hint, can you?” Iwaizumi said, panting lightly as he picked up the pace.

“Hint?” Oikawa inquired, matching the other step for step. “What hint? I didn’t hear any hints.”

“So you really are as dense as you seem. Can’t you tell that I want you to stay the fuck away from me? You have plenty of other people to bother.” He let out a derisive snort. “Like your ridiculous harem.” 

“Oooh, feeling a little jealous now, Iwa-chan? You don’t have to pretend. You know you missed me.”

“Like hell I did,” Iwaizumi snarled.

“So you admit that you remember me!” Oikawa crowed, and Iwaizumi jabbed him in the side.

“You know that’s not what I meant.” He opened his mouth to say something else, but was interrupted by the coach as they ran past.

“You two!” he yelled, pointing at Oikawa and Iwaizumi. “This isn’t a race. You’re supposed to be warming up. That means JOG. If that’s your idea of a jog, then I’ve got one hell of a workout for you!” 

That was enough to make the both of them slow down. As much as Oikawa wanted to keep up with Iwaizumi, he wanted to be able to walk by the time he got to practice. Iwaizumi did the same, but he refused to look at Oikawa or respond to his banter. The coach, already in a bad mood, separated the two of them for the rest of class, pairing them off with other students, much to Iwaizumi’s obvious relief.

 


 

By the time class ended, everyone was sweating, and over half the class was complaining about it. Iwaizumi, as usual, was silent. He stood a few feet away from the rest of the group, tugging at his shirt in an attempt to provide some sort of ventilation between his thin tank and sweaty skin.

“Iwaizumi-kun,” one of the girls said hesitantly. “Is that a tattoo?” A few others, Oikawa included, turned to look at the mark on his shoulder, which had been exposed when his shirt had slipped.

“Huh? Oh, yeah.” Iwaizumi touched his shoulder absently, blushing slightly as he ran his fingers over the dark patch of skin covering his left shoulder.

“Ooh,” can I see, another girl squealed. Oikawa had noticed her staring at Iwaizumi throughout the entirety of gym class, and he was almost certain that she was less interested in Iwaizumi’s tattoo and more interested in seeing as much of him as possible. It annoyed him, but he brushed the irritation off as possessiveness at having to share his childhood friend, who wasn’t at all interested in rebuilding their friendship.

Iwaizumi didn’t say anything as he pulled his sleeveless shirt back slightly, exposing a black moon surrounded by several stars. It was positioned oddly, covering the majority of the upper portion of his shoulder and extending only slightly down his shoulder blade. It gave the tattoo a rippling effect, making it look more like the reflection of the moon rather than the moon itself. Oikawa liked the effect. 

“That’s so pretty.” Another girl reached up to touch it, but Iwaizumi jerked away, quickly covering the mark again.

“Um, thanks,” he said, fidgeting nervously as his eyes almost instinctively darted towards Oikawa. “I’m, uh, I’m gonna go change.” And with that, he practically sprinted back to the locker room. Oikawa watched as he fumbled to get the door open, slamming it behind him as soon as he did.

“Oh my god, he’s so cute.”

“I dunno, he seems kinda angry to me.” 

“Maybe that’s just his natural expression.”

“I bet he’s just shy. Did you see the way he blushed when we asked to see it?”

Oikawa barely heard their chatter as he stared at the locker room door, as though Iwaizumi might re-emerge that very second. He shook his head and headed after Iwaizumi. Once inside, he glanced around for Iwaizumi, though he already knew that the dark-haired boy was changing in one of the bathroom or shower stalls. He would probably stay in there until he knew that Oikawa had left, so Oikawa changed quickly, stowing his gym bag in his locker.

He couldn’t help but feel discouraged as he walked to his last class. Iwaizumi really didn’t want to have anything to do with Oikawa. And while Oikawa was persistent, he knew that Iwaizumi was equally stubborn. It was a battle of wills, and even though it was still day one, he was having trouble staying optimistic. Still, he wouldn’t give up that easily. He wanted to be friends with Iwaizumi, and it would take a lot more than Iwaizumi’s stoic attitude to dissuade him.

He spent the majority of his next class trying to figure out why Iwaizumi was so adamantly against being friends. Maybe it had been their pact, which Oikawa hadn’t forgotten even after all those years. Oikawa had always been the sentimental type, but he knew that it had taken a lot to get Iwaizumi to open up to him. Maybe he was embarrassed because of it. He had said that he’d moved a lot, so he had probably tried to avoid getting attached to anyone.

His thoughts continued along that trajectory until the final bell rang. While his teacher hadn’t asked him any questions during class, she held him back after class, lecturing him about the consequences of slacking off during his last year of high school. By the time he managed to escape, he knew that the team was probably already warming up.

 


 

The first thing that he saw as he burst into the gym was Iwaizumi, who was standing between Hanamaki and Matsukawa as they all stretched.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” was all Iwaizumi said as Oikawa walked toward them.

Hanamaki snickered. “That’s pretty much everyone’s response to him. But,” he said, putting one hand on his hip and pointing a finger to the sky, “don’t let him fool you.” 

“Behind those girlish looks and that obnoxious personality,” Matsukawa added, “lies the heart of a true leader. Behold, our esteemed captain!” he said, making a sweeping gesture towards Oikawa. Hanamaki let out what was probably supposed to be a trumpet sound, but ended up sounding like a dying goose.

“You guys are just sucking up because you don’t want me to make you practice receives,” Oikawa pouted. Hanamaki and Matsukawa looked at each other and shrugged.

“Did it work?” Hanamaki asked. 

“No!”

 “Oh well,” the pink-haired boy said, shrugging again. He clapped Iwaizumi on the back. “In that case, you may as well quit while you’re ahead. He only gets worse with time.”

“I dunno,” Matsukawa said as they walked away. “He kinda grows on you after awhile. Sort of like a bad haircut.”

“Hm, that almost sounds positive. I’d say more like a fungus.”

“Sounds suitably disgusting, right?” 

“Matches his personality perfectly.”

Oikawa wrinkled his nose as he stared at their backs. “So,” he said, turning after a moment, “volleyball, eh? What position do you play?”

 “Wing spiker,” was all Iwaizumi said. With an afterthought he added, “Though now that I think about it, I may switch to basketball instead.”

 “Aren’t you a little short for that?” Oikawa said it without thinking. He clapped a hand over his mouth as soon as he realized what he had said. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he said quickly. “Don’t take it the wrong way.”

 Iwaizumi narrowed his eyes and let out a snort. “As if I could take it any other way. If I accidentally spike a ball into your face, maybe you’ll have an excuse for saying stupid shit. Unless you want to admit to already having brain damage,” he threw over his shoulder as he walked away.

 Oikawa slapped a hand against his face. Today was not his day, he thought as he headed to the locker room. Usually he was quite a bit more suave. It was like his brain was unconsciously trying to sabotage him.

Oikawa changed quickly, starting his warm up as the rest of the team put up the net and wheeled out the ball cart. Iwaizumi was standing on the sidelines talking with the coach, who seemed interested in whatever Iwaizumi was saying.

 As he finished his last lap, he nearly ran it to Matsukawa, who grabbed hold of his shoulders in an effort to stabilize both of them.

 “Careful there.” He jerked his head towards Iwaizumi and the coach. “Our new spiker over there seems a few stares away from filing for a restraining order.” Oikawa blinked hard. He hadn’t even realizing that he’d been staring at Iwaizumi.

 “How do you think that would work?” Hanamaki asked, striding over. “Oikawa would have to quit volleyball, right? He can’t set from… Wait, how far away from Iwaizumi would he have to stay?”

 “It’s gotta be at least 50 meters. Probably more.”

 “So far enough away that Oikawa would have to start setting from Shiratorizawa, right?” The two high fived each other as Oikawa let out a strangled noise.

 “You don’t think he would actually do that?” Oikawa said, aghast as he considered the possibility.

“Who knows?” Hanamki threw his hands up. “But I can think of a certain ace who wouldn’t mind having you stare at him like that,” he said, waggling his eyebrows conspiratorially. Oikawa shuddered.

“I sense the beginnings of a love triangle.” Matsukawa sighed dramatically.

“That’s sick and twisted,” Oikawa grumbled.

 “True,” he conceded, “but I was under the impression that all love triangles were a little sick and twisted.”

“Someone got a restraining order against Oikawa-san?” one of the first years said, coming into the conversation several minutes late. His eyes were wide as he glanced at Oikawa warily. The rest of the team had migrated over and was now listening intently.

“What? No!” he gasped, before covering his face with his hands. “There will be no restraining orders!”

“Not yet,” Hanamaki corrected. “But you can start placing bets tomorrow on how long you think it’ll take for it to happen.”

“I’m betting 5 days,” Matsukawa added, as the coach called the team over so that they could begin introducing the new club members.

“You two are literally the worst,” Oikawa groused, knowing that half the school would be gossiping about it by the end of the week. 

“What’s going on between you and Iwaizumi, anyway?” Hanamaki asked quietly as they walked toward the center of the gym. “You’re not exactly the most likeable person, but you don’t usually piss people off this fast.”

“I don’t know,” Oikawa whispered miserably. “We were friends when we were kids, but I haven’t seen him in years.”

“You sure that you guys were actually friends?” Hanamaki asked.

“Of course I’m sure. Things have changed a lot, but I know that we were friends back then.”

They joined the group just as the first years began to introduce themselves, rattling off their names and secondary genders as the rest of the team welcomed them.

“Alright, I think that’s everyone,” the coach said after Kindaichi had finished stuttering out his information. “Is there anything else that we need to take care of before starting practice?”

“Oikawa still hasn’t chosen a vice captain,” someone volunteered.

Coach Irihata glanced over at Oikawa. “Did you have anyone particular in mind?”

Oikawa rubbed the back of his head and laughed slightly. “Ah, I was still thinking it over,” he admitted. It was something that he had thought about ever since he had been named captain, but he hadn’t been able to make a definite decision.

“We should take it to a vote,” Hanamaki said with an all-too-innocent look on his face. “I nominate Iwaizumi.”

“Seconded,” Matsukawa said with a lazy nod.

“All in favor?” They both raised their hands, and after a moment, several others lifted their hands. Iwaizumi’s, most ostensibly, was not among them.

“The people have spoken,” Hanamaki said sagely. He slapped Iwaizumi on the back. “Congrats vice captain.”

“So I don’t have a say in this—” Iwaizumi began, but was instantly interrupted.

“Nope! Today this is a democracy, and today the majority rules.”

The coach raised a brow. “Is there a problem with this?” 

“No,” Iwaizumi sighed. “No problem.”

The coach immediately paired Iwaizumi off with Oikawa. While it wasn’t explicitly stated, Oikawa knew that the coach wanted him to evaluate Iwaizumi’s ability as a spiker. It was obvious that he had a lot of strength and potential, but they needed to know whether he was ace material. Their previous ace, last year’s captain, had graduated, so Oikawa really hoped that Iwaizumi was up to the task.

It didn’t surprise him that Iwaizumi was good. His technique wasn’t perfect, but he had a lot of raw power. Oikawa could work with that. What did surprise him, however, was how well he and Iwaizumi synced. Oikawa knew that he could bring out the best of any player and he learned how to adjust to each person’s strengths and weaknesses, but that usually took time. He’d never meshed with someone as quickly and perfectly as he did with Iwaizumi.

He didn’t have to look to know exactly where and how high to set the ball, and even when he’d tossed a little too high or too low, Iwaizumi had adjusted immediately. It was almost like having a sixth sense that was exclusive to Iwaizumi. He was acutely aware of where the other boy was at all times, and he felt a building excitement as he thought about what this meant for the team.

He wasn’t the only one who noticed. “Have you played together before?” Kindaichi asked as he looked at Iwaizumi in awe.

“Nope,” Iwaizumi said, before changing the subject to Kindaichi’s own spikes.

“I think this is going to be a good year,” Coach Irihata said, as he walked over, confirming Oikawa’s own thoughts.

Oikawa nodded. “There’s a lot of potential here. We’re going to beat Shiratorizawa this year,” he said with a fierce look.

“They’ll need a little more work before we reach that point, but with Iwaizumi, I think we have a fighting chance.”

Oikawa set for a few of the first years, taking note of what was good and what needed work, before ending practice. He complimented each of the members as they headed to the locker room. In his own experience, praise worked better than criticism, and he wanted each of them to be comfortable with him.

Iwaizumi finished changing before he did, but Oikawa stopped him before he could leave.

“Iwa-chan, I want to talk with you about a few things before you go. Captain to vice captain, OK?”

“You’re really not going to drop the nickname, are you?” Iwaizumi grumbled. He glanced around at the remaining teammates before settling onto a bench.

“Nope,” Oikawa said with faux cheerfulness. “Your name is too long.”

“I’d just accept it now,” Hanamaki advised, grabbing his bag and heading towards the door. “He does that to everyone. There’s no avoiding it.”

“Fantastic.”

Oikawa waited until the last club member had left the room before turning to Iwaizumi and dropping all pretenses as he slammed his locker.

“You don’t like me. You’ve made that painfully obvious,” he said through clenched teeth. “You can hate me all you want while off the court,” he ground out, trying to ignore the clenching in his chest, “but when we’re on the court, we’re a team. Got it?”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Iwaizumi shot back. “You’re not worth ruining things for the rest of the team.” After a pause he asked, “Did you really wait to close your locker just so you could slam it when you talked to me?”

“It was for emphasis,” Oikawa muttered, irritated that Iwaizumi had noticed.

Iwaizumi let out a snort before standing up. He gathered his things, then walked out the door without bothering to say goodbye.

It wasn’t until the door had closed behind Iwaizumi that Oikawa noticed that the scent he’d smelled earlier in the day. Had it not been for the vague sense of familiarity, he was sure that he wouldn’t have noticed it all.

Shaking his head, he grabbed his bag and began to lock up. He was going insane. He and Matsukawa were the only alphas on the team, and this definitely wasn’t Matsukawa’s scent. It could be cologne, but he couldn’t imagine why any of the betas on the team would wear something that was so similar to the sweet musk of an omega. 

It was probably Hanamaki’s idea of a joke, he decided. It wouldn’t surprise him if he and Matsukawa had decided to spray something in the room just to annoy him, knowing that none of the betas would be able to smell it.

He wasn’t going to mention it to them, he decided as he locked the door behind him. “As the team captain, it was up to him to set a good example for the rest of the club members. It definitely wasn’t because he didn’t want to give the pair the satisfaction of seeing him rise to the bait.

Content with that answer, he left the gym and began the walk home.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t obsessive. At least, that was what Oikawa kept telling himself. It was perfectly normal for a captain to be invested in his teammates, so it wasn’t weird for him to memorize their schedules, regularly ask people about him, occasionally happen to run into them everywhere on a daily basis.

OK, so he had only done all of that for one person, but Iwaizumi was their ace! He had transferred to their school as a third year, so Oikawa needed to make sure that he adjusted well. Otherwise it could obviously seriously affect the team. So out of the goodness of his heart, he had taken it upon himself to keep track of Iwaizumi—from a distance, of course, since the other boy sent him threatening glares whenever he got too close.

 “You’re stalking him,” was all Hanamaki said after Oikawa had finished rationalizing his behavior. They were sitting in the clubroom, the only place that Oikawa could go when he wanted to hide from the girls. He’d wanted to ask for their advice on how to get Iwaizumi to like him—or at least not hate him. It had quickly turned into a conversation about Oikawa’s Iwaizumi-related habits.

 “We have classes together!” Oikawa protested.

“You have two classes together. And yet somehow you manage to find him in between every class.”

 “We just happen to be in the same areas a lot.”

 “Oikawa, one of your classes is on the opposite side of the school….”

 Oikawa opened his mouth to say something, but almost instantly shut it after. OK, so maybe he did go a little out of his way to see Iwaizumi sometimes, but there was nothing wrong with that.

 “Case in point,” Matsukawa said, taking Oikawa’s silence as affirmation. After a beat he added, “So why are you so interested in him? And don’t say it was because you were childhood friends. We all know that isn’t enough to warrant your weird-ass behavior,” he said, looking between Oikawa and Hanamaki as Hanamaki whispered “Ass behavior” under his breath.

 “I—” Oikawa paused. Why was he so interested in Iwaizumi? He’d had teammates who, in the past, hadn’t liked him. While he’d made an effort ensure that they had all gotten along well with him on the court, he’d never been so fixated on getting them to like him. He tried to think of something to say—some good excuse that would make them leave him alone—but he had to settle for mumbling, “I just want to be friends.”

 “We’ve also heard that you’ve been asking about him.” Oikawa groaned, hiding his face in his hands. He glanced up a second later, narrowing his eyes as he looked between the two of his friends.

 “How do you know so much about what I’ve been doing?” he asked. “Are you sure that you’re not stalking me?”

 “Because a couple of people have started to comment on it,” Hanamaki said seriously. “C’mon Oikawa. Did you really think that we were the only ones who noticed? Usually you’re a little more interested in what people are saying about you, and a few of them are starting to say that you’re acting a little bit like a creep.”

 Oikawa felt his face go pale. “They’ve really been saying that?” he whispered. Hanamaki nodded.

 “Fortunately it’s only been a few of the guys. Your fan club is still stuck on the idea that you’re going to fall for one of them eventually, but if they start to notice….” he trailed off, letting Oikawa fill in the blank. He was right. Oikawa knew he was right. If even one of his fan girls started to notice and comment on his behavior, then it would spread through the school like wildfire. His every interaction with Iwaizumi would be scrutinized, and in a school that barely tolerated homosexual relationships, that was social suicide.

 The other two seemed to notice his distress, and began to make an effort to calm him down.

 “It’s not going to happen if you start to back down,” Matsukawa assured him. “Besides, for some reason people seem to think that you’re actually worth dating. They wouldn’t let go of you that easily.”

 “What are you trying to say? I’m a great catch,” Oikawa huffed.

 “No, you’re a catch,” Hanamaki corrected. “The kind that someone throws back in the sea after catching.”

 Oikawa let out an indignant squawk. “You’re so mean to me,” he complained. “I don’t know why I hang out with you guys.”

 “I think the better question is why do we hang out with you,” Hanamaki said with a grin. “Even if you didn’t have a shit personality, your fan club makes you a pain to hang out with.” He turned to Matsukawa. “Issei, why do we hang out with him?”

 Matsukawa hummed, feigning thoughtfulness. “Pity,” he finally said with an assertive nod. He stood, then extended a hand to Hanamaki. “We should leave him now. I don’t want to be associated with him when he finally gets arrested for harassing Iwaizumi.” They started to pack up, and Oikawa let out an offended ‘Hmph,’ though he already knew that the two had to be at their next class early.

 “You really should think about what we’ve said,” Hanamaki said as they started to walk out.

 “1,000 yen that he breaks down in two weeks,” Matsukawa whispered loudly as they crossed the threshold.

 “1 week. And make it 2,000,” Hanamaki said back.

 “I can still hear you,” Oikawa called after them as they shook hands. Hanamaki just waggled his fingers as the door closed behind them.

 “I’m not that creepy,” Oikawa muttered to himself as he began to pack up his uneaten lunch. He knew it was a lie, though. He was a little too interested in Iwaizumi. Slinging his bag, he slung his bag over his shoulder. As much as he hated to admit it, they were right. He was being obsessive, but for some reason he couldn’t get Iwaizumi out of his head.

 He walked slowly as he headed towards his next class, passing by the cafeteria on his way. He tried not to look at the table he knew Iwaizumi was sitting at, already knowing the scene that he would see. Iwaizumi had almost instantly been invited to sit at what was known as the jock’s table, which was exclusively populated by male alphas and betas. He fit in perfectly with them. 

He ought to be glad that Iwaizumi has adjusted so well. While he hadn’t known much about Iwaizumi’s school life when they were younger, since most of their conversation about school had been limited to discussions about Oikawa’s bullying, he did know that Iwaizumi had gotten into fights on a regular basis. At first he had thought that might have been Iwaizumi’s reason for transferring to Aobajōsai, but the other boy seemed to get along well with everyone. Too well, if you asked Oikawa. 

He’d found himself selfishly hoping that Iwaizumi would be more of an outcast, and he might finally turn to Oikawa for friendship. It made Oikawa sick to think about it. Having been bullied and ignored for nearly half his life, he’d never wish that fate on anyone. He hated how much he wanted to be Iwaizumi’s savior.

The bell rang and the people he’d been hiding from surrounded him again. He put on a plastic smile, trying to ignore how difficult it was to fake happiness now that he had a living reminder of how happy had been during that summer so many years ago. He was almost beginning to wonder if it had been real. Had he and Iwaizumi really been as close as he remembered? Maybe was being honest when he had said that he didn’t remember Oikawa.

 


 

 

Oikawa started avoiding Iwaizumi after that. The only things he heard about Iwaizumi were the snatches that came off of the rumor mill. Iwaizumi was dating a beta girl. He was playing pickup games with the basketball team. He was doing this, he was doing that, and Oikawa was doing his best to block it all out.

 He didn’t look at Iwaizumi during their classes, and he paired up with other people when they did group exercises. The few times that they were forced to work together, Oikawa only spoke to him when he had to. When Iwaizumi asked the occasional question, he responded with one-word answers. It hurt like hell and it was starting to take its toll on him. He felt physically sick, and was starting to have trouble eating and sleeping. He took sleeping pills when he absolutely had to sleep, and forced himself to eat so that he wouldn’t pass out during practice. He tried to hide it, but he knew it was starting to show.

 “Are you OK?” Yahaba asked, approaching him cautiously when Oikawa took a water break.

 “Of course,” Oikawa said cheerfully, smiling as he turned to face his teammate. “Why do you ask?”

 “You seem like you don’t feel well.” He started to fill his own water bottle, glancing over at Oikawa momentarily as if to gauge his reaction. Oikawa had to stop himself from wrinkling his nose. Yahaba was perceptive and, for the first time, Oikawa really wished that wasn’t the case.

 “I think I’m getting a cold,” Oikawa said mournfully. He knew that Yahaba recognized the lie, since Oikawa had, on several occasions, bragged about the fact that he almost never got sick, but he really hoped that the other boy wouldn’t pursue the subject.

 Yahaba nodded, taking a sip of water before turning to walk back to the court. “If you ever want to talk about it, just let me know,” he said softly as he walked away. Oikawa stared at his back for a moment before shaking his head. He really needed to step up his acting skills if he was going to make it through the rest of this year.

 Wiping his mouth, he walked over to Hanamaki, who was practicing serves on the other side of the court.

 “Makki, how bad do I look right now?” he asked, putting on his best face and hoping that the pink-haired boy would confirm that his façade was still holding up.

 Hanamaki shoved the ball he had been holding under his arm, making a show of it as as he squinted at and examined Oikawa, his face only inches away from Oikawa’s own. He leaned back. “You look pretty bad. Worse than usual,” he said, the opposite of what Oikawa had been hoping for. “You look … gaunt. Have you been sleeping?”

 Oikawa’s face fell a little. “Sort of,” he mumbled.

 “How do you sort of sleep? You either are or you aren’t. And I’m guessing that you aren’t, because you look ready to pass out.”

 “I’ve just been having trouble getting to sleep,” Oikawa snapped defensively. Hanamaki held up his hands in surrender.

 “I’m just telling you the truth,” he said. “You did ask, after all. If you hadn’t wanted an honest opinion, then you would’ve asked someone else.”

 It was true, and Oikawa rubbed his face as he tried to maintain his composure. “I can’t keep this up,” he whispered miserably. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Why is this affecting me so much?”

 Hanamaki frowned. “I wish I could give you an answer,” he said after a moment, “but I really have no idea. You look like you’re going through withdrawal.” He gave Oikawa a hard look. “Is all of this just related to Iwaizumi?” he asked. “You haven’t been taking stuff, have you?”

 “What?” Oikawa let out a surprised squeak. “Of course not! Why would you even think that?”

 “I’m just trying to think of some sort of explanation. This all doesn’t really make sense.” Oikawa didn’t say anything. “Have you thought about seeing someone?” Hanamaki asked tentatively. “Like a therapist?”

 “I’ve already got enough going on without adding that to my schedule. Besides, my parents would kill me if they found out.” Hanamaki nodded. Oikawa hadn’t told him much about his home life, but he’d heard just enough to know that it was dysfunctional at best.

 “So what’re you going to do, then?”

 “Suffer,” Oikawa said, letting out a tired sigh and turning away. “Whatever it is, it’ll go away eventually.”

 “And if it doesn’t?” Hanamaki asked, giving him a dubious look.

 “It will,” he said as he walked away. “It has to.” Because if it doesn’t, I don’t know what I’m going to do, he thought to himself.

 Dread pooling in his stomach, headed towards the source of all his problems: a certain spiky-haired wing spiker. Everything about Iwaizumi was spiky, Oikawa decided. His hair, his position, his attitude, his personality…. Had it been anyone else, Oikawa might have smiled at the thought, but it only worsened his already sour mood.

 He’d put off working with Iwaizumi as much as possible, focusing on all the other new members instead. But the coach had specifically asked him to work with Iwaizumi today, so he didn’t have much of a choice.

 “Iwa-chan,” Oikawa called, catching Iwaizumi’s attention, “let’s practice your spikes.” He had stuck with the nickname out of habit, knowing that he would slip up if he stared calling him ‘Iwaizumi.’ Plus the team would get suspicious. Not that they weren’t already, if what Yahaba had said was any indication.

 Iwaizumi glanced over and nodded mutely. The two of them got into position as Oikawa spun the ball in his hands. He tossed it in the air a few times experimentally before sending it to Iwaizumi.

 It was obvious that something was going on between them. Only a few weeks ago they had been on the same wavelength, practically functioning as one. But today? Today Oikawa was seriously doubting his ability as a setter.

 All of his tosses were either too high or too low. And while that in and of itself wasn’t necessarily disastrous, Iwaizumi seemed incapable of adjusting to the tosses. When he did manage to make contact with the ball, his spikes were either weak or went completely out of bounds. He completely missed several tosses, swatting at the air as the ball floated past him.

 Thirty minutes into their practice, they were already sweaty and exhausted. Oikawa ground his teeth, painfully aware of his teammates stares as he and Iwaizumi tried and failed over and over and over again. Finally the coach put an end to their misery, yelling for them to sit out the rest of practice.

 “What’s going on between you two?” Irihata demanded as they both collapsed onto the bench. “I’ve seen middle schoolers play better than that.”

 “Sorry Coach,” Oikawa said weakly. Iwaizumi didn’t say anything at all, and the coach seemed to realize that neither of them had a good excuse.

 “Whatever it is, work it out,” he snapped.

 Oikawa felt thoroughly defeated as he watched the rest of practice from the sidelines. It was humiliating, but at least he was able to observe and analyze the rest of the team as he mentally took notes on their performance.

 Iwaizumi didn’t say a word as they sat there, and had Oikawa not been able to feel his body heat, he might have thought that the other boy had left. Despite the coach’s orders, they obviously weren’t going to be talking through things today. He had begun to wonder if they ever would, and was already imagining the worst volleyball season ever. He didn’t think he could stand having Ushijima tower over him again as he informed Oikawa, for the thousandth time, that he should have come to Shiratorizawa.

 Now that he thought about it, working with Ushiwaka might be preferable to working with Iwaizumi. It probably wasn’t too late to transfer. He was positive that the ace would make it happen if Oikawa mentioned it to him.

 He shook his head at the thought. He’d rather commit seppuku. Falling on his on sword seemed preferable to setting for Ushijima. Having conversations with the other alpha ought to fall into the category of cruel and unusual punishment. He snuck a side glance at Iwaizumi, who seemed totally absorbed in watching the others practice. At this point, though, not talking to Iwaizumi had become its own form of punishment.

 He couldn’t help but feel that he lost no matter what he did.

 


 

“Are you coming?” Matsukawa and Hanamaki stood in the doorway to the locker room, staring at Oikawa, who hadn’t made a move to change out of his uniform.

 “I’ve got a few things to look over,” Oikawa said, holding up a folder stuffed with papers. “I’ll lock up as soon as I’m done.”

"Shouldn’t Iwaizumi be helping you with that? You guys are supposed to do that together, right? He is the vice captain, after all….” Matsukawa trailed off, brows raised as he gave Oikawa a questioning look.

 “He already left. Guess I’ll have to do it all by myself.” Oikawa let out a breathy laugh. “It’s just this once. I need to review some of the training camp options. I’ll get his opinion on them later.”

 “If you say so.” Neither of them looked convinced.

 “Listen, when we said you should back down a little, we didn’t mean that you should ignore him entirely,” Matsukawa said. “We just meant that you shouldn’t follow him around. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, y’know.”

“I don’t think that even Iwaizumi wanted it to go this far,” Hanamaki added, much to Oikawa’s surprise.

 Oikawa frowned. “Why do you say that? He did tell me to stay away from him.”

 “Yeah, but he’s tried talking to you a few times since then, right? I don’t think he wants to be besties or anything, but I don’t think he wants to be enemies either.”

 Matsukawa nodded. “What he said.” He jabbed a thumb at Makki, who gave him a thumbs up.

 “I don’t know….” Oikawa said uncertainly. They were right; Iwaizumi had tried to start a conversation a few times. It hadn’t been anything substantial, just offhanded comments about the weather, their homework, practice, and so on. He’d written it off as Iwaizumi trying to keep up appearances, just as Oikawa had been.

“Just think about it, OK?”

“Alright,” Oikawa said slowly. He didn’t look at all convinced, though.

“Don’t forget to lock up,” Hanamaki said as they walked away. “Coach was already pissed off after everything that happened today.”

“Of course,” was all Oikawa said. He opened the folder and started to leaf through its contents, waving at Hanamaki and Matsukawa as he heard them walk away. He waited several minutes after the gym’s door had closed, then shoved the folder, which was actually his math homework, back into his bag.

He walked back onto the court and began the process of setting up the net again before rolling the ball cart out. He was falling behind. His performance couldn’t be entirely related to his interactions, or lack thereof, with Iwaizumi. Even if he and Iwaizumi didn’t have the same dynamic that they had initially had, Oikawa still should have been able to send him good tosses. He could work with anyone. Iwaizumi couldn’t possibly be the exception to that.

He started practicing his serves, throwing the ball up into the air before slamming it down on the opposite side of the court. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed or how many times he’d refilled the ball cart. It didn’t matter, though. He’d practice all night if that was what it took.

He pulled the ball cart across the court and began to drop the balls back into it. Frustration was building in his chest as he thought about his serves. They had been OK, but OK wasn’t good enough. They lacked their usual power, and his precision was off. Like everything else in his life, his nearly perfect technique was starting to slip. He wondered how long it would take before he completely lost control.

“So, training camp, huh?” Oikawa nearly jumped out of his skin as a voice echoed through the gym. He turned to see Iwaizumi leaning against the back wall as he gave Oikawa a hard look.

“How long have you been here?” he asked, his voice shaking slightly—a result of exhaustion and surprise at Iwaizumi’s sudden appearance.

“Long enough.” Iwaizumi pushed off the wall, advancing towards Oikawa. “Makki and Mattsun told me that you were looking through training camp stuff and that I needed to help. Clearly that wasn’t the case, though.”

Oikawa shook his head and looked away. Of course they had. Leave it to those two to take things into their own hands. “I just wanted to get some extra practice in,” he said. “That’s all.”

Iwaizumi raised a brow. “Two hours of extra practice? That seems a little excessive.” Oikawa’s eyes widened a little.

“You’ve been here that long?” He imagined Iwaizumi watching him—something that the other boy seemed to avoid at all costs. Why had he waited so long before talking to Oikawa? And why had he even stayed in the first place? 

Iwaizumi seemed to guess his thoughts and glanced away. He grabbed a ball out of the cart and began turning it over in his hands, staring at the ball instead of Oikawa and suddenly taking a great interest in the intersecting grooves. “Yeah. And you’ve looked worn down the entire time. Are you trying to sabotage yourself? Because practicing this much isn’t going to do you any good.”

“You don’t know that,” Oikawa muttered. He grabbed a ball and went back to his serves. He winced slightly as the next one barely skimmed the net. When he turned to retrieve another ball, he saw Iwaizumi pulling the cart to the supply closet.

“What are you doing,” he called irritably. “I’m not done yet.”

Iwaizumi shoved the cart into the closet before turning to glare at Oikawa. “Yeah, you are. I’m cutting you off.” Oikawa felt a surge of irritation.

“You know, Iwa-chan, “ he said, practically spitting out the nickname, “for someone who claims not to care, you’re acting awfully concerned about what I do with my free time.” Iwaizumi didn’t get to all but ignore him for a month and then act as though he knew what was best for him.

“I never said I didn’t care,” Iwaizumi ground out, looking just as frustrated as Oikawa felt. “I just thought we should stay away from each other.”

“Same difference,” Oikawa said under his breath.

“Hardly,” was Iwaizumi’s response. “And you’re one to talk. I don’t get why you suddenly seem to care so much.” He gazed at Oikawa defiantly, and Oikawa couldn’t help but feel confused.

“What are you talking about? I’ve been trying to befriend you ever since you showed up.” He averted his gaze. “I hadn’t realized that we’d stopped being friends. I mean, you left so suddenly, but I didn’t think that meant that we had to stop being friends.” He looked up, giving Iwaizumi a hard look. “You could have at least sent me your address,” he started, but then trailed off when he saw Iwaizumi’s expression.

Iwaizumi’s jaw was slack and his eyes looked ready to pop out of his head. Oikawa was even more confused. Had it really been so surprising that he would have wanted to keep in touch with Iwaizumi? That was what friends did, right? Not even Hanamaki or Matsukawa would argue with that.

“You … you really don’t remember,” Iwaizumi whispered, finally finding his voice. He looked as though he’d experienced some sort of grand epiphany, and shock was written all over his face. His eyes were glued to Oikawa’s face, though he didn’t seem to be actually looking at Oikawa.

“Remember what?” Oikawa asked, throwing his hands up. “I remember the whole summer. What was there to forget?”

Iwaizumi opened his mouth as though he were about to reply, but a strangled noise escaped his lips. He looked lost and helpless. In spite of his bewilderment, Oikawa wanted to hug him.

“Iwa-chan?” Oikawa said. “What’s wrong? What did I say?”

“You don’t remember,” Iwaizumi repeated, just as much to himself as to Oikawa. Whatever he was thinking, it didn’t seem to compute. He seemed to be trying to reconcile something, but Oikawa had no idea what he could possibly be thinking about, much less what it had to do with him.

Oikawa started to reach out to touch Iwaizumi, not sure what he should do, but feeling as though he should do something. That seemed to be enough to snap Iwaizumi out of his trance, and his eyes finally settled on Oikawa’s. His face turned bright red, and he immediately looked away.

“I—” he started. “I need to go.” He all but bolted towards the gym’s exit, running like his life depended on it and only slowing down enough to grab his school bag as he went.

Oikawa could practically feel the fear rolling off of Iwaizumi. “Wait, Iwa-chan, I’m sorry!” he yelled, not really sure what he was apologizing for. 

He started to run after Iwaizumi, but by the time he burst through the gym doors, Iwaizumi was nowhere to be seen. He stopped in his tracks, looking around for traces of the dark-haired boy. Wherever he was headed, he was probably already halfway there by now.

After standing there for a few moments, he finally went back into the gym. He could feel his muscles starting to tighten, having cooled down far too quickly after standing in the chilly air. He stretched his legs a little in an attempt to work out some of the stiffness.

Once he finished, he started to take down the net, moving mechanically as he tried to process what had happened. Somehow things made even less sense than they had before. He wasn’t sure if he should be relieved or troubled by the fact that Iwaizumi seemed to feel just as perplexed as he did.

“What’s going on?” he whispered, half hoping that something would intervene and explain all of this to him. But the only sound in the gym was the buzzing of the gym’s lights and his own shallow breaths.

Mind racing, he walked out of the gym, shutting off the lights and locking the doors before beginning the walk home. He had a lot to think about.

 


 

Oikawa hadn’t been tired before. Not compared to the raw exhaustion that now weighed heavily on his body. He trudged through the day like a zombie, having spent a sleepless night racking his brain for answers that never came.

As he stared at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, he realized that Makki was right. He did look like he was going through withdrawal. He almost wished that were the case. At least then he would know exactly what was happening and how to treat it. As it was, he was ready to check himself into the nearest mental hospital.

He hadn’t seen Iwaizumi at all today. He had followed all the routes he had taken before he had started to ignore Iwaizumi. Having practically burned Iwaizumi’s schedule into his brain, he knew that he was looking in all the right places, but the other boy was nowhere to be found.

He grabbed his bag off of the floor. He’d already been in here too long. Had he not looked so terrible, someone probably would have come looking for him by now. They probably thought that he was throwing up in a stall or something.

He pushed the door, which felt unusually heavy, open and began to walk back to class, thanking every deity that might exist that he only had an hour left to go. One more hour until practice, and then around 12 hours until he might be able to see Iwaizumi again. He hated waiting. What if he wasn’t at school tomorrow either?

The last hour dragged by, and by the time the bell rang, he realized that he wasn’t looking forward to practice at all—something that hadn’t happened in a very long time, if it had even happened at all. Just the same, he didn’t want to skip. He preferred the distraction to sitting in his room for hours as he went over every possible scenario that Iwaizumi could have been referring to.

Maybe he would at least be able to wear himself out to the point that he could get a few hours of sleep that night.

When he walked into the gym, he was shocked to see Iwaizumi standing off to the side of the court talking to the coach. He didn’t look any better than Oikawa felt, and even from a distance, Oikawa could see dark circles under his eyes.

Not wanting to interrupt their conversation, Oikawa headed into the locker room, changing into his practice jersey as quickly as he possibly could. Before he could leave the room, though, Hanamaki blocked his way and pulled Oikawa to the side.

“How did it go last night?” he asked, referring to the impromptu meeting that he and Matsukawa had set up for their captain and vice captain. “Because based on the way you two look, it couldn’t have gone well.”

“I don’t know how it went,” Oikawa said helplessly. “We talked, and then he ran away.”

“Oh my god, Oikawa, what did you say to him?”

“I barely said anything!” he said, and Hanamaki rolled his eyes in response.

“We all know that you don’t have to say much to thoroughly offend someone.” Makki said, making a face. “Remember that time at the spring tournament last year? You said all of five words to Ushijima and managed to piss him off. I didn’t know that Ushijima was capable of getting pissed, and yet you somehow—” Oikawa cut him off. 

“I just— Can we talk about this later? I really need to go,” he said, exiting the locker room before Hanamaki could respond. “And I’m pretty sure it was closer to three words,” he yelled as he left. He wished he could remember what he had said. That had been a damn good insult.

He immediately spotted Iwaizumi as he made his way onto the court. He was standing off in a corner while stretching, obviously trying to escape attention. Iwaizumi glanced up as Oikawa walked over. He looked like a deer in headlights, and Oikawa stopped short just a few feet away from his teammate. They stared at each other in silence.

“Iwa-chan,” he said, making a move towards his teammate. But Iwaizumi only shook his head, taking a few steps back before turning and walking away.

“Not now,” was all he said, not even bothering to look at Oikawa.

Oikawa jogged after him. “Then when?” he asked.

“Later.”

“When is later?” Oikawa asked desperately.

“Leave it alone, Oikawa,” Iwaizumi said, glancing over his shoulder. He wore an upset, though not angry, expression. It was enough to dissuade Oikawa from following him, so he reluctantly went to warm up with the rest of the team.

After he had finished stretching, the coach sent him to practice serves, not wanting him to work with anyone else until he remembered how to send the ball in the right direction.

“Try not to take anyone’s head off,” the coach said with a sigh. Oikawa wished that the coach was exaggerating, but they both knew, given Oikawa’s performance as of late, that was a distinct possibility.

Everyone seemed to realize what he would be doing, and they were now looking around, as though they weren’t sure which part of the court would be safe. Oikawa rolled his eyes in annoyance. OK, so he hadn’t been doing that great, but he still had some control over the ball. 

He let out a slow breath as he held the ball in his hands, forcing himself not to think as much. Muscle memory taking over, he let himself glide through the motions that he had practiced so hard the night before. It all felt so natural as he jumped, hand making contact with the ball at just the right moment.

Oikawa felt a little dizzy, but he smiled triumphantly as the ball slammed against the floor, landing exactly where he had planned.

He grabbed another ball, prepared to do it again, but as he jumped, he felt himself slip a little. A jolt of pain shot through his leg as his knee twisted painfully. He barely registered the yells around him as he hit the floor, his head smacking the ground before he could put his hands out to catch himself. He felt burst of pain as stars exploded behind his vision before everything completely faded to black.

Chapter Text

Iwaizumi stared off into space, so lost in thought that he barely registered the rhythmic beeping that measured Oikawa’s heartbeat. Over and over again he scolded himself for volunteering to stay. It was the stupidest decision he’d made since agreeing to return to the Miyagi prefecture. He seemed to be making a lot of stupid decisions lately.

 

He subconsciously tugged on his shirt, even though his tattoo was completely obscured by the fabric. It was a habit he’d developed over the years, one that had started back when he was thirteen and his mother had warned him of the consequences of letting it show. He had slipped up a few times, though, and had come face to face with those consequences.

 

He swallowed hard, forcing himself not to think about it. That wasn’t going to happen again. The tattoo had helped with that, and hopefully he wouldn’t have to worry about that again. As long as no one got too close….

 

“Iwa-chan?”

 

Oikawa’s voice pulled him back to reality. He swiveled his head, eyes locking on Oikawa’s face as he blinked groggily. His expression shifted from confusion, to recognition, then back to confusion again—as if he wasn’t really sure why Iwaizumi was there. Iwaizumi couldn’t really blame him for it. He was just as confused as Oikawa was.

 

“Why am I in a hospital?” the brunet finally asked as he glanced around the room. He lifted his head slightly, then winced. “Ow.”

 

“Hold still, dumbass,” Iwaizumi commanded. “You hit your head pretty hard.” He didn’t mention his knee. Not yet. He may have been away from Oikawa for several years, but he still knew the other boy well enough to know what his reaction would be. It wasn’t going to be pretty.

 

Oikawa ran his hand over his forehead, stopping when he felt the bump on the side of his head. He started poking experimentally at the dark bruise that peaked out from under his hairline. “How bad is it?” he asked, eyes darting towards Iwaizumi. The pain meds were obviously still in his system. Iwaizumi could only assume that they were making him paranoid, more melodramatic than usual, or some mix of the two. “Am I hideous?”

 

“Yes,” Iwaizumi deadpanned, biting the inside of his cheek to keep himself from smiling. Oikawa was still the drama queen that he remembered. It was almost endearing, which pissed him off.

 

Oikawa let out a dramatic wail, which, apparently, was loud enough for one of the nurses to hear. She came bursting into the room, making a beeline towards Oikawa.

 

“What happened?” she asked. There was a worried look on her face as she began to check Oikawa’s vitals.

 

“Iwa-chan said that I’m disfigured,” Oikawa said miserably. He lifted a hand to his head again as he began glancing around, probably looking for a mirror.

 

“I didn’t,” Iwaizumi started, but then bit back the rest of his protest. Based on everything he’d seen while on the team, arguing with Oikawa was like arguing with a two year old. There was no way in hell he was going to argue with an Oikawa on pain meds.

 

“You look just fine,” the nurse said soothingly. She sent Iwaizumi an angry glare. He just held up his hands, not really wanting to get into an argument with her, either. Oikawa caused him enough trouble as it was. The two would probably tag team him, anyway. Oikawa had a habit of dragging other people into his drama.

 

Oikawa perked up as she continued to talk to him, preening under her attention. The effects of the drugs seemed to be slowly wearing off, and Oikawa’s natural charm quickly became flirtatious. It made Iwaizumi sick to watch him. This was one of the many reasons he had avoided Oikawa. Seeing him flirt with nearly every girl in the school made him want to hit something. Or someone. Preferably Oikawa.

 

It wasn’t until he stood up to leave that Oikawa seemed to notice that he was still there. “Where are you going?” he asked. Iwaizumi bit back his irritation. Leave it to Oikawa to only remember he existed when Iwaizumi was finally ready to give up on him.

 

“You seem to be doing fine,” he said, using every ounce of strength that he had to keep his voice neutral. “It’s getting late and I need to go home.” It wasn’t a lie. The sun had already set, which meant that Iwaizumi would have to hunt for a bus stop with only street lamps as his guide. He was really fucking lucky that he looked like a beta.

 

“Can you stay a little bit longer?” Oikawa asked, his voice small. Iwaizumi hesitated. It shouldn’t be this difficult for him to resist the other boy. He had thought that, with time, Oikawa’s hold on him would have loosened, but time only seemed to have made it stronger. “Please?” Oikawa added, almost as though he was aware of Iwaizumi’s inner struggle.

 

“Fine,” Iwaizumi huffed, returning to his chair. God, he was worse than Oikawa’s fan girls. His behavior practically screamed, ‘Notice me, Senpai!’ And of course, like all of Oikawa’s fan girls, he would get to watch and pine after someone he could never have. Did Oikawa even realize how painful this was for him? For all of Oikawa’s perceptiveness, he was either shit when it came to noticing Iwaizumi’s feelings or he was a damn sadist. It was probably the latter, since he had basically given him a front-row seat to his ‘flirt with the nurse’ game.

 

The nurse finally walked out of the room, waving goodbye to Oikawa, who winked at her as she scurried away. Iwaizumi rolled his eyes. She’d doubtlessly spent three times the amount of time on Oikawa as she had on her other patients.

 

It wasn’t until she was gone that Oikawa’s face fell. “What’s wrong with you?” Iwaizumi asked. “Didn’t get her number or something?”

 

Oikawa let out a bitter laugh. He held up his arm. “No, I got that.” The numbers were written across his arm in black permanent marker. Iwaizumi wanted to kick him.

 

Iwaizumi leaned back, folding his arms across his chest. “So what’s the problem, then?” He gave Oikawa a hard look, and Oikawa immediately looked away.

 

“My knee,” he said softly. Iwaizumi winced. He’d nearly forgotten about that.

 

He stood up and walked over to Oikawa’s side. “It’s not that bad,” he said, standing awkwardly next to Oikawa’s bed, not really sure what he should do. He doubted patting Oikawa on the shoulder and saying, ‘There, there,’ would go over well. Instead he settled for saying, “It’s a really mild sprain. You’ll probably only be out for a few weeks max.” He shoved his hands in his pockets, worried that he might do something stupid while this close to Oikawa.

 

Oikawa just shook his head, refusing to look at Iwaizumi. “That’s a long time when it’s my third year and our first match is just a couple of weeks away,” he said sadly.

 

All of Iwaizumi’s instincts were telling him to comfort Oikawa. Almost without realizing it, he lifted one of his hands and began to run it through Oikawa’s hair. Oikawa’s reaction was instant, and he leaned into Iwaizumi’s touch, rubbing his head against his hand like a cat. His eyes drifted shut and he relaxed a little. A small smile tugged at Iwaizumi’s lips as he watched his childhood friend.

 

“Are you two mates?”

 

Iwaizumi jumped nearly a foot in the air before scrambling backwards, nearly tripping over himself in his haste to get away from Oikawa. He looked around wildly before his eyes settled on a man standing in the middle of the room. He wore an expression that was somewhere between amusement and confusion as he watched Iwaizumi.

 

“Uh, no. We’re, um, not mates,” Iwaizumi said quickly, wishing that he could melt into the floor. He finally dared to glance at Oikawa, who was giving him a peculiar look. He cleared his throat, doing his best to recompose himself. “So, uh, can he leave?” he asked, really hoping that the answer would be yes so that he could leave, too.

 

The doctor nodded. “All the X-rays looked fine,” he said, speaking to Iwaizumi rather than Oikawa. “He should avoid physical activity for at least two weeks, but after that he should be fine to play as long as he wears a brace. I’d like to see him again before, then, though.”

 

Iwaizumi opened his mouth, on the verge of promising that he would bring Oikawa back for a follow up, but then snapped his mouth shut. He glared at Oikawa, who was watching at them. “You got that, Shittykawa? No practice for two weeks.”

 

Without waiting for an answer, he walked across the room to get his things together, leaving the doctor to discuss the finer details with Oikawa. It wasn’t any of his business. He had no reason to know any of it, but he couldn’t help but listen to the instructions the doctor rattled off, committing them to memory.

 

He sorted through his school bag, pretending to look for his phone, which definitely hadn’t been sitting on top of the rest of his stuff. He shoved it to the bottom of his bag, then rooted through it for a little bit before eventually fishing his phone out. He zipped his bag shut, slinging it over his shoulders before grabbing Oikawa’s own bag, which had been sitting right next to his.

 

He carried it over to the brunet just as the doctor exited the room. “Here,” he said, dropping it at the end of the bed, careful to avoid hitting Oikawa’s leg.

 

Oikawa stared at it unhappily. “Makki and Mattsun?” he asked.

 

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi said, confirming that the two did, indeed, know Oikawa’s locker combination.

 

He let out a small groan, and Iwaizumi guessed that this was something that happened on a semi-regular basis.

 

Oikawa swung his legs out of the bed, sitting on the edge for just a moment before shakily getting to his feet. He teetered a little, and Iwaizumi all but lurched forward to steady him. He slipped an arm under Oikawa’s shoulders, propping him against his own body.

 

Being this close to him…. It was nice.

 

Iwaizumi nearly shoved Oikawa onto the floor as the thought crossed his mind. There was nothing nice about being anywhere near Oikawa. He started to realize, though, that since coming to the hospital, he’d been taking every opportunity he’d had to touch Oikawa or be near him. The other boy’s scent had been driving him crazy.

 

He swallowed hard. He had to get out of here. Out of here and away from Oikawa.

 

“You’ve got someone to pick you up, right?”

 

Oikawa looked startled. “Huh? Oh, well….” Out of the corner of his eye, he glanced at Iwaizumi nervously. “Can I stay with you tonight?” He said it quickly, the words coming out in a jumble.

 

“What? Fuck no! You’ve got your own house,” Iwaizumi said, surprised that Oikawa had even considered it.

 

“If I call someone to take me home, they’ll ask questions,” Oikawa said, a pleading look on his face. “Especially if they see me limping. They’ll call my parents, and….” Oikawa trailed off.

 

Ah, so that was it. Iwaizumi guessed it made sense. Oikawa had been terrified of his parents when they were younger. He hadn’t talked about them much, but the little that he’d said had left Iwaizumi’s blood boiling. He would have guessed that his parents would have gotten better once they had found out that Oikawa was an alpha, but somehow it didn’t surprise him that Oikawa was still uneasy around them.

 

Iwaizumi shook his head. Shitty parents or not, here was no way in hell he was going to let Oikawa come home with him. That would be a disaster and a half. “So call a cab,” he said, moving Oikawa so that he was leaning against the wall rather than Iwaizumi.

 

“That would create just as many questions.” Oikawa made a face as he seemed to run through the possibilities. “I guess I could walk home.” He hobbled to the end of the bed, then pulled his phone out of his bag. Probably checking the walking distance from here to his house. A contemplating look crossed his face, and Iwaizumi knew that he was actually considering it.

 

“You’re not walking home.”

 

“But—”

 

“Look,” Iwaizumi said, scrubbing a hand over his face as he let out a sigh, “you can stay one night.” Oikawa’s expression practically lit up, and Iwaizumi instantly regretted his words. What was he doing? He couldn’t let Oikawa stay with him. He could barely be around him for a few hours without losing his mind. Besides, Oikawa’s scent…. He either wouldn’t sleep tonight or he would have some really fucked up, not to mention extremely embarrassing, dreams.

 

“Really?” Iwaizumi wanted to say no, to tell Oikawa that he had been kidding and that he wasn’t Iwaizumi’s problem. But instead he found himself nodding.

 

“C’mon,” he grumbled, turning away from Oikawa and towards the door. “I am not carrying your bag, though,” he added as an afterthought. Oikawa let out a stupid and completely not adorable squealing noise as he followed Iwaizumi.

 


 

He ended up carrying Oikawa’s damn bag. He also ended up practically carrying Oikawa to the bus stop after they had asked one of the receptionists where the closest one was. Oikawa’s scent was rolling off his body, and Iwaizumi could feel his own body responding.

 

This was exactly why Iwaizumi had kept Oikawa at arm’s length. In spite of the suppressants that he took and scent blockers that he applied multiple times each day, his natural scent somehow overpowered both as his body tried to attract its mate. Fortunately it was slight and nearly imperceptible, but Iwaizumi worried that close proximity to Oikawa would make it worse. He hadn’t wanted to risk that, so he had surrounded himself with other alphas, hoping that their scent would mask his own.

 

It had seemed to work. Up until now, at least, when he’d had the bright idea of staying with Oikawa. He was finding it more and more difficult to stay away, though. His body had never fully adjusted to being away from Oikawa. It had left a hole in his chest, one that medications, therapists, and distractions hadn’t been able to fix. It had hurt like hell, but none of it could compare to the pain he felt at seeing Oikawa, but knowing that he would never be with him.

 

It had made him physically sick. He was constantly tired, nearly incapable of focusing, and had found it almost impossible to sleep. Nothing that he did helped, either. At one point he had even attempted to double up on suppressants, but that had left him nauseated and he’d spent the entire day at home while his stomach rejected everything he’d eaten over the previous 12 hours. He’d given up on the idea after that.

 

He had noticed a change in Oikawa, too. The other boy looked just as sick as he felt, but he had barely spared a glance for Iwaizumi refusing to look at or be anywhere near him during school, and refusing to talk to him whenever they were forced to be together. Even at practice he had avoided having to work with Iwaizumi. It had left him aching for the almost creepy amount of attention Oikawa had shown him before.

 

But sitting next to Oikawa now, he felt a strange sense of peace, though it was tainted by the bitter knowledge that everything would go back to normal when they went back to school the next day. A part of him told him that he should enjoy it while he could, while another part insisted that he needed to throw his walls up before Oikawa hurt him again.

 

He was quiet as he tried to figure out what he should do next. Oikawa, by some miracle, was silent, as well. The brunet stared out the bus window, probably thinking about his knee. Iwaizumi wished he could think of something to say that might comfort the other boy, but no words came to mind, and even if they had, he doubted that he would be able to bring himself to say them.

 

After what felt like an eternity, the bus finally pulled up to the stop near his apartment. He nudged Oikawa, who looked at him questioningly. “Hey, we’re here,” he said, standing up and grabbing their things before pulling Oikawa to his feet.

 

He walked in front of Oikawa, helping him down the steps of the bus as they got out. The thought of Oikawa falling again made him shudder, so Iwaizumi stayed close to him as they walked towards his apartment.

 

Fortunately it was a short walk, and Iwaizumi lived on the second floor, so there weren’t many stairs to climb. That didn’t stop him from shouldering most of Oikawa’s weight as they slowly made their way up the steps.

 

“You OK?” he finally asked, unable to handle Oikawa’s silence any longer as they made it over the last step.

 

Oikawa bobbed his head. “Yeah. My knee feels a little strange, but I’m fine.”

 

“That’s good,” Iwaizumi said awkwardly. He shoved his key in the lock, then opened the door, lifting it ever so slightly in an attempt to keep it from scraping the floor. After flipping on the lights, he gestured for Oikawa to come in, closing the door behind him.

 

Oikawa glanced around curiously as he walked through the small hallway that led to the living room. As he walked, his limp was more pronounced and he had slowed down a lot. Iwaizumi was 95% positive he was only doing it so that he had more time to examine the apartment—namely the art and photos that lined the wall.

 

Iwaizumi’s mother was a practical woman and most of her decorating skills were limited to small mementos she’d collected throughout her life. Among those were drawings and paintings that Iwaizumi had made when he was younger. It had been embarrassing when his mother had first mounted the them, but it was cringe worthy now that Oikawa was looking at them. When his parents got home from their trip, he was going to beg his mother to take them down.

 

His mom had made up for the few decorations by covering the walls with photos. Being an only child, most of them were of or included Iwaizumi. It was another thing he had begged his mom not to do, but she had just shaken her head and told him that she liked them and that they made her happy. Even if she hadn’t used her no-nonsense tone when telling him this, he still wouldn’t have tried to stop her. If it made her happy, then he would, begrudgingly, go along with it.

 

“Where are your parents?” Oikawa asked as they walked into the living room.

 

“They’re, uh, not here,” Iwaizumi said, not bothering to look at Oikawa. “My dad’s on a business and my mom went with him.”

 

“Ah,” he said absently. He wasn’t even bothering to maintain his over-exaggerated limp as he wandered around the room. He stared at the walls with a delighted look in his eyes. Iwaizumi remembered that Oikawa had never actually come over to their place when they were kids, so this was his first time seeing everything. He was at least grateful that the threadbare furniture had been replaced by newer stuff, but he still felt extremely uncomfortable to have Oikawa here.

 

“Oi,” he said, lightly tapping Oikawa on the back of the head, “quit gawking and sit down. Oikawa let out a surprised squawk, but obeyed, taking a seat on the nearest couch. Iwaizumi busied himself with getting pillows to prop Oikawa’s leg up with, then got an ice pack to drape over Oikawa’s knee. “Ice it for 20 minutes,” he grumbled, not happy that he was actually enjoying taking care of the other boy.

 

He started to stomp out of the room, but Oikawa stopped him. “You’re not going to bed, are you?” he asked timidly.

 

Iwaizumi glanced at the clock on the wall and let out a snort. “At nine? Fuck no. I…” he hesitated. “I’ll be right back. Just wait here.” And with that, he headed towards his room, closing the door behind him as he went in.

 

He moved quickly, really hoping that Oikawa would actually listen to him and stay in the living room. He grabbed his suppressants, birth control, and various scent blockers, which had been sitting on his nightstand in plain sight, and shoved them into his dresser drawer, covering them with clothes. He considered making himself a note so that he would remember where they were and would take them in the morning, but he decided against it. Too risky. He desperately hoped he wouldn’t forget to take them. It would be a fucking disaster if he forgot.

 

Next he scanned the room for any other incriminating materials. He’d been reading up on surgeries (still in the experimental stage) that would permanently disable an omega’s scent glands. He also had one or two leaflets on the best way to conceal his scent and resist his instincts. He shoved those under his bed. It didn’t really matter if he forgot about those. It wasn’t like they’d been helping him lately.

 

Once he was satisfied that anything suspicious was now out of sight, he changed into pajama pants and a tank top. He grabbed an oversized white shirt and a checkered pair of pants for Oikawa, knowing that he would whine all night if he had to sleep in his practice clothes.

 

When he reemerged, he was surprised to find Oikawa exactly where he had left him, texting away as he hummed softly. Iwaizumi shoved the clothes toward him.

 

“Here,” he said, “these are too big for me.” As Oikawa accepted them, Iwaizumi jerked a thumb back towards the hall. Bathroom’s back there to the left if you wanna shower or something. Do you wanna go first or wait.

 

“I’ll wait,” Oikawa said, nodding towards the ice pack, which was slowly melting. “I’m going to leave it on for a few more minutes.” Iwaizumi nodded and walked back in the direction he’d come from.

 

As he turned on the shower and stepped under the spray, he was suddenly very grateful that Oikawa had let him go first. He had forgotten that his body wash was designed to act as a mild scent blocker. He also kept a spare container of gel that he could rub over his scent glands, also muting his natural scent. Once out of the shower, he applied the gel before hiding both it and the body wash under the sink.

 

As an extra precaution, he sprayed air freshener throughout the entire bathroom, practically emptying half the bottle. He had been nervous before, but now he was nervous and paranoid. Was there anything else that he had forgotten? God, he really hoped not.

 

He waited on one of the couches as Oikawa took his turn. Tonight would probably be the most stressful night of his life. There was so much that could go wrong. He wrung his hands as he considered the possibilities. Oikawa had been, or at least had pretended to be, oblivious so far. One misstep could ruin it all, though.

 

When Oikawa came back in the living room, his expression didn’t suggest that he’d made any life-changing discoveries. Iwaizumi nearly let out a sigh of relief. He still wasn’t able to relax, but he felt a little bit better now.

 

He watched as Oikawa returned to his former seat and propped his leg up again. There was a tense silence as Iwaizumi tried to decide what he should do next. All he wanted to do was run back to his room and lock himself inside until Oikawa left in the morning, but at the same time he felt like he should act like a decent host or something—even though Oikawa had literally begged his way into coming over.

 

“So,” Oikawa said, breaking the silence, “are we going to talk now?” He had a determined look on his face, and dread started pooling in Iwaizumi’s stomach. He wasn’t going to back down easily this time.

 

“What’s there to talk about?” Iwaizumi said evenly. In spite of his tone, his hands were shaking and beads of sweat were starting to form as his forehead.

 

Oikawa was watching him carefully. It was the same look that he wore when observing and analyzing members of the team. He could feel Oikawa picking him apart, searching him for weakness, just as he did with all his teammates. Iwaizumi shifted uncomfortably under his gaze.

 

“I don’t know what you’re not telling me or what I did to make you treat me this way,” Oikawa said cautiously, “but would you at least explain to me what’s going on? You can go back to,” he waved a hand in the air, ignoring me, avoiding me, or whatever it is you want to do, but at least explain this to me.”

 

Iwaizumi was torn between giving in and running out the front door. He could keep this up. He knew he could. If Oikawa hadn’t realized what was going on by now, then he would probably never figure it out. He could give him a bullshit answer and everything would go back to normal.

 

The problem was that he didn’t want things to go back to normal. Neither of them could keep going like this. And as much as Iwaizumi would love to magically become a beta and forget all of this, that wasn’t going to happen.

 

“Oh, what the fuck,” he muttered, getting off the couch and walking towards Oikawa. He was going to regret this so much.

 

Oikawa gave him a startled look as he knelt next to him. Iwaizumi pulled his tank top aside, exposing the mark he’d spent years trying to conceal.

 

He knew that the dark ink mostly obscured it, but up close, if you looked hard enough, you could see faint ridges that formed an ovular shape. After staring for a moment, Oikawa lifted his hand and ran his fingers over the mark. Iwaizumi shivered slightly under his touch, but forced himself to stay still.

 

Once he drew his hand back, he met Iwaizumi’s expectant look with a curious look of his own.

 

“It’s a bond mark,” he said slowly.

 

Iwaizumi just nodded, waiting for Oikawa’s reaction.

 

“Wait.” He paused, furrowing his brow in confusion. “Why do you have a bond mark if you’re a beta?”

 

Exasperation, frustration, anger, and disappointment all coursed through Iwaizumi’s body. He’d finally gotten up the courage to show it to Oikawa, and Oikawa hadn’t even come close to realizing what had happened.

 

Oikawa started to reach towards the mark again, but Iwaizumi grabbed his hand and flung it away before shoving Oikawa against the couch. “Oh my god,” he yelled as he got to his feet. “What the hell is wrong with you? Are you fucking serious right now?”

 

“I, um, yes? Iwa-chan?” Oikawa squeaked, at a loss for words as Iwaizumi towered over him.

 

“Do you really not remember?” he growled. He knew the answer, but he still couldn’t accept or believe it.

 

“Remember what?”

 

He shot Oikawa a murderous look. “Forget it. Just fucking forget it.” Turning, he made a move toward the door, ready to walk away all of this. He didn’t want to be anywhere near Oikawa for another second.

 

“Wait, Iwa-chan! Please don’t go.” He could hear Oikawa struggling to get to his feet, and then hobbling after Iwaizumi, who had stopped as soon as he’d put his hand on the doorknob. He’d only just remembered that this was his apartment.

 

“You’re right,” he said, dropping his hand and then clenching it into a fist. “You should go.” He walked past Oikawa, who stood frozen, grabbing his bag before shoving it into his arms.

 

He pushed Oikawa lightly but firmly towards the door, and Oikawa, with the grace of a gazelle, stumbled, putting all of his weight on his injured knee. He let out a cry of pain.

 

Iwaizumi was immediately by his side. “Shit. Oikawa, I’m sorry. I forgot—” He stood there helplessly, trying to think of something to do. Kicking Oikawa out the door was clearly out of the question now. He was about to say something, probably something stupid, but Oikawa held up a hand, cutting him off.

 

“It’s OK,” he said, sucking in a breath of air before exhaling sharply. “I’m OK.” He glanced over at Iwaizumi, who had squeezed his eyes shut. “Um, are you OK?”

 

Iwaizumi shook his head, not bothering to open his eyes. “No, not really.” He let out a noise that was somewhere between a laugh and a groan. “You ruined my dramatic exit.”

 

“You ruined your dramatic exit. You tried to kick me out,” he said. After a moment he hesitantly asked, “Are you still kicking me out?”

 

He wanted to. God, he really wanted to. And after that, he wanted to pack all his bags and leave the country.

 

“You wouldn’t make it down the first step,” he said instead. “I’d rather not get kicked off the team for inadvertently killing the captain.” Maybe it wouldn’t be inadvertent. Oikawa’s injury wasn’t severe, but no one would question it if he happened to stumble down the stairs … and then land on his head when he reached the bottom. Totally normal.

 

Oikawa nodded. “They’d probably think you pushed me.” They stood there in silence for a little while, neither quite sure what to do. Iwaizumi wracked his brain for something to say, but before he could think of something, Oikawa interrupted his thoughts. “Can we talk?” Oikawa finally asked. “Please?”

 

Iwaizumi let out a tired sigh. How many times was he going to have to do this? “Yeah, OK.” He led Oikawa back into the living room, pointing to the couch. “Prop your leg up again. I’m going to get you more ice.”

 

He headed to the kitchen. This day had just hit a new level of awkward. He wished he could say that this was the most awkward moment of his life, but it barely made the top ten. He clenched his jaw as he started shoveling ice into a bag. You knew you had a fucked up life when talking with your amnesiac (?) childhood friend/mate about sex you’d had when you were thirteen wasn’t anywhere close to your most awkward experience.

 

Slamming the freezer door shut, he made himself walk back into the living room. He could only hope that tonight wouldn’t get any worse than it already was.

 

“Here.” Iwaizumi tossed the bag of ice at Oikawa, who caught it easily. He then rearranged the pillows that Oikawa had haphazardly shoved beneath his leg. Was the idiot trying to hurt his knee even more? When he’d finished, he fell into the loveseat opposite Oikawa.

 

Iwaizumi’s face slowly turned a bright pink as he prepared to, yet again, explain the … situation. He quickly covered it with his hand. Even the thought of talking about it flustered him. “I can’t believe I have to explain this,” he said, thinking out loud as he stared at the ceiling. “Why don’t you remember?”

 

Oikawa threw his hands up in the air, his frustration getting the best of him. “Remember what? You keep saying that, but then you never tell me what you’re talking about.”

 

Clenching his teeth, Iwaizumi made a face that suggested he was about to do something extremely unpleasant. He jerked his shirt to the side, nearly ripping the fabric, and pointed at his tattoo again. “That. Do you not remember that?” He averted his eyes “Do you not remember biting me?” he mumbled.

 

“Huh?” Oikawa cocked his head to the side. “I…. What? No. I, um, no.” He stumbled over himself, trying to put his words in an order that made sense. “Why would I have bitten you?” he finally managed.

 

Iwaizumi buried his head in his hands, completely unable to look at Oikawa. He’d never expected that he would actually have to explain this, much less go through it play by play. “Do you remember the day I left, at least? The last day I was at your place?”

 

“Uh, sort of?” Oikawa said. He still seemed like he was trying to process what Iwaizumi had initially said. Iwaizumi considered giving him a few minutes to let it sink in, but if he didn’t get this over with now, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it later.

 

“Do you remember any of what happened?” he pressed. Oikawa had to remember something—at least a fragment of it—like biting his best friend on the shoulder….

 

“I mean, not specifically,” Oikawa said. “I remember you not showing up the next day.” As an afterthought he said, “I went into rut that day.”

 

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi said, grimacing a little, “I was there.” His face turned an even darker shade of red as Oikawa gaped at him. He refused to make eye contact, but continued. “We met up that morning. I … I went into heat, and it must have triggered your rut.” He said the last part so quickly that Oikawa could barely understand him. Oikawa repeated the words to himself a couple of times, then his eyes widened.

 

“Did we….” Oikawa let out a squeak, unable to finish the sentence. His eyes were bulging. “Did I do more than just bite you,” he asked, his voice several pitches higher than normal.

 

Iwaizumi wanted to disappear. Or die. Anything that would get him away from this.

 

“Yeah,” he managed, voice strained. “It … It’s probably exactly what you’re thinking.” He hoped that this time Oikawa would actually fill in the blanks instead of making him go over everything.

 

“Oh.” He could practically see the wheels turning in Oikawa’s head. Everything seemed to finally click for him.

 

“Yeah,” he repeated, looking down at his hands. There wasn’t really anything else that he could think to say. Hell, he had no clue where they were supposed to even go from there. It wasn’t like they were going to run to a wedding chapel, get married, and then live happily ever after. That wasn’t how life worked. He’d found that out the hard way.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Oikawa asked softly. While still disoriented, he seemed hurt, and Iwaizumi almost felt bad for not mentioning it sooner. He quickly dismissed the feeling. It wasn’t like this was his fault.

 

Iwaizumi looked up. “I thought you knew. Until yesterday, I didn’t even consider the possibility that you might not remember.”

 

Oikawa stared at him. “You thought that I remembered?” he asked incredulously. “You thought that I remembered and didn’t bother to say anything?”

 

“What was I supposed to think?” Iwaizumi said defensively. “I mean, who forgets something like that? You acted like you wanted to be friends, but then you never said anything about it! I figured you were just making fun of me.”

 

Oikawa didn’t answer, but he wore a pained expression.

 

“There was that, and then there was your goddamn fan club,” he continued angrily. “I figured you just wanted to add another person to that—someone who would worship you while you toyed with their emotions.”

 

“I don’t toy with them,” Oikawa protested, finally finding his voice. “I respect all of those girls.” Iwaizumi wasn’t convinced. He’d watched Oikawa flirt with each and every one of those girls. He might have turned down all of their confessions, but he still kept them on the hook, silently leading them to believe that they might eventually have a chance with him.

 

“So I’m your alpha,” Oikawa said slowly, the words sounding foreign as they left his mouth.

 

Iwaizumi’s mood shifted instantly and he made full eye contact with Oikawa. “You may have chosen me as your omega, but you are not my alpha,” he said fiercely.

 

“But—”

 

“I spent years trying to move past what happened,” he growled. He pointed at his tattoo again. “I’ve only had this for a few months. Do you have any idea what it was like trying to hide the bite mark?” He didn’t give Oikawa the chance to answer. He’d been waiting years to say this, and he wasn’t about to be interrupted.

 

“I’ve had to transfer schools three times in the past four years. No matter how hard I tried, someone always saw it.” He let out a bitter laugh. “And then they wanted to know why I had a bond mark at such a young age, where my alpha had gone, and if I was just having sex with whoever would give me a knot. People started saying that I was whoring around, and that if you looked close enough, that the bite mark was actually from multiple bites. I got called a slut more times than I could count.”

 

The words were pouring out of Iwaizumi’s mouth, and Oikawa watched him in horror as Iwaizumi listed one thing after another.

 

“What?” he said. But … But why didn’t you find me? I could have stopped all of that.” In a stronger voice he added, “I would have stopped all of that.”

 

Iwaizumi let out a snort. “Why would you’ve done that? It’s not like I’m anything to you?”

 

“But we’re bonded. We’re supposed to be together. I’m supposed to take care of you,” Oikawa insisted, voicing what Iwaizumi had wanted to believe for years.

 

“Yeah? If that’s the case, then where the hell is your claim mark,” he snarled. Oikawa faltered, and Iwaizumi knew that he had hit a weak spot.

 

It was unusual for an omega to not leave their own bond mark when being claimed. In fact, he’d never even heard of an instance where that hadn’t happened. Granted, it wasn’t something that any alpha would want broadcasted. To want an omega but not have them want you back wasn’t something to brag about.

 

Bond marks were almost always instinctual, often given regardless of whether or not either party had initially anticipated it. Having sex with someone you didn’t want to bond with was strongly discouraged, since it typically ended in a bonding. It was just as much a reason for shotgun weddings as unplanned pregnancies were.

 

“And it’s damn lucky that I didn’t,” Iwaizumi continued. “Do you have any idea the living hell that your parents put my family through?” It was rhetorical, but Oikawa shook his head anyway. “Well in case you hadn’t noticed, my family didn’t exactly have much money back then. My dad was back in school and my mom’s job was our only source of income. We didn’t have money for a lawyer, and your shitty parents knew that.

 

“After your mom pretty much threw us out of your house, they had a team of lawyers hounding us. The phone didn’t stop ringing for several days, and my mom was so stressed out that she made herself sick.

 

“They eventually reached a settlement. I don’t know much about it, but my parents got a few thousand dollars in exchange for never talking about what had happened. Apparently that was all their son was worth,” he said sarcastically. “A few thousand in exchange for a fucked up life and no chance at a relationship.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Oikawa whispered. “Iwa-chan, I am so, so sorry. I had no idea—”

 

“Yeah, I know that now,” Iwaizumi said. He let out a choked laugh as he struggled to maintain his composure. “But for years I thought that there must’ve been something wrong with me. I had thought that at least by high school you might try to find me,” he admitted. “I mean, we had made that stupid promise, and you of all people knew what it was like when people thought you were an omega. Eventually I figured that becoming an alpha had changed your mind— that you were disgusted by me and had just tossed me aside while you found someone.” He paused. “Someone more fitting,” he finally spat.

 

Iwaizumi could feel tears starting to prick at his eyes. He blinked them back furiously. The last thing that he wanted to do was cry in front of Oikawa. He failed miserably, though, and Oikawa pulled him into a hug. “If I had known,” Oikawa whispered, “I would have done everything that I could—” Iwaizumi, though initially leaning into Oikawa’s embrace, shoved him away.

 

“A whole lot of fucking good that does now.”

 

“Would you at least let me—”

 

“No,” Iwaizumi said, not even bothering to let Oikawa finish. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to hear what he had to say.

 

“Do you want me to leave?” His eyes were wide, as though the thought of Iwaizumi kicking him out (again) was terrifying.

 

“I … I don’t know,” Iwaizumi said, conflicted. On the one hand he was furious and humiliated, but on the other hand he was terrified that if Oikawa left, that would be the end of it. They would go back to being awkward acquaintances, and Iwaizumi couldn’t handle that. To bare himself in front of Oikawa like this and then be rejected wasn’t something he could come back from.

 

A flash of pain crossed Oikawa’s face. “I want to take responsibility for this,” he said. “I want to make this right.”

 

Wrong answer. That was the last thing that Iwaizumi wanted. He didn’t want someone who felt obligated to be with him. Oikawa seemed to realize what he was thinking, and immediately backtracked.

 

“It’s not like that,” he said, waving his hands in front of him. “I’m not doing this because I feel like I have to. I mean, well I sort of feel like I need to, but I want to do this. I want to be with you.” He blushed as he spoke. “Not in the sex kind of way.” Iwaizumi raised an eyebrow. “Not that sex would be bad!” Oikawa corrected. “I’m sure sex with you would be great and….” He let out a groan. “I’m messing this up, aren’t I?”

 

In spite of himself, Iwaizumi let out a laugh. “Yeah, kind of.”

 

“Do you at least understand what I’m trying to say?” Oikawa asked nervously. “I want to be with you because I like you. A lot, I think. I’m not saying this because I have to.”

 

Iwaizumi nodded. “I understand it. I’m not sure that I believe it, but I understand it.”

 

Oikawa put on his best puppy face. “Then let me prove it to you,” he insisted. “Just give me a chance. I’ll make you believe it.”

 

Iwaizumi swallowed hard. He might not get another opportunity like this. Saying no would be the safe answer. If Oikawa let him down, he wouldn’t be able to live with it. But he knew that he needed this. They both needed this.

 

“OK,” he said. “Yeah, OK.” A huge grin spread across Oikawa’s face. Before he could make a move towards Iwaizumi, the other boy held up a hand. “But if you fuck this up, I swear to god I’ll kill you.”

 

Oikawa’s grin didn’t waver. “I won’t. I promise, I won’t screw this up. You’ll see.” He gave Iwaizumi a goofy look. “I think this is the part where we kiss. Can I kiss you now?”

 

Iwaizumi punched him in the arm.

Chapter Text

Oikawa stared at the ceiling, breathing slowly as the first traces of daylight peeked through the curtains. Unsurprisingly, he’d barely slept at all that night. His mind had been bombarded with thoughts of last night’s discussion.

 

He hadn’t expected Iwaizumi to open up to him, and he most definitely hadn’t expected to find out that Iwaizumi was his mate. He couldn’t deny that he had been a little relieved when he had found out, but that relief had been quickly overshadowed by the horror and terror that he had felt upon finding the circumstances behind their, well, mating.

 

It was weird to even think about, much less talk about.

 

It wasn’t just the fact his parents had been absolute assholes towards the Iwaizumi family. That had come as no surprise at all. What had really bothered him more than anything else was what Iwaizumi had said about not giving Oikawa a bond mark in return. And the implications of that.

 

Unusual was the most benign word he could use to describe it.

 

It was unusual for either party—alpha or omega—not to reciprocate. Even couples of the same secondary gender gave each other bond marks. He knew for a fact that his parents had. Though given their indifference towards each other, it wouldn’t have surprised him in the least if they had done so out of obligation rather than instinct.

 

With all of that in mind, Oikawa couldn’t help but feel unsettled. Now that he knew that Iwaizumi was his mate, he was also able to recognize the nature of his feelings towards Iwaizumi, as well as just how strong his feelings were. He wanted Iwaizumi and he wanted to want Iwaizumi.

 

Iwaizumi, on the other hand….

 

Regardless of what his friend had said when they were younger, they had been kids and they had thought that Iwaizumi would be an alpha. He’d had no idea that he was going to be an omega, which, as far as Oikawa was concerned, changed everything. While he might have wanted to be Oikawa’s alpha, he had never said anything about wanting to be Oikawa’s omega. Those were two very different things.

 

Omegas were programmed to submit to their alphas. That wasn’t to say that they had to or that they would, but it was extremely difficult not to, and if there wasn’t a strong degree of trust between an alpha and omega pair, the relationship would become imbalanced very quickly, and not in the omega’s favor.

 

He’d heard of omegas who had chosen to mate with other omegas (which, unlike alpha/alpha pairs, was generally looked down on) or had simply decided not to mate at all. And even though some omegas preferred to accept a submissive role, for many it was a nightmare. Iwaizumi hadn’t had a choice in the matter at all.

 

He’d known how Oikawa had been as an omega, but that wasn’t to say that he wouldn’t change entirely upon finding out he was an alpha. For all he’d known, Oikawa had become a controlling asshole who’d planned to either use Iwaizumi or discard him entirely. He had, by no choice of his own, been at Oikawa’s mercy. He could only imagine how scary that was.

 

That, combined with the fact that Iwaizumi hadn’t bitten him, combined with the fact that they had been kids, combined with the fact that there had been no prior consent, made Oikawa feel sick. He had no idea where to even begin with that. He hadn’t asked Iwaizumi how he felt about it yet, but he already knew that his mate wasn’t exactly happy that he was tied to Oikawa. And that, in and of itself, was telling.

 

He’d spent the entire night mulling over that. For a number of reasons, he felt like an absolute asshole. He’d forced himself on Iwaizumi in several different ways—first when they had … mated, and later when he had tried to befriend Iwaizumi. He could blame biology, but it was a shitty excuse. There were no good excuses for doing something like that, and now he was going to have to live with the irrevocable consequences—namely the fact that he had denied Iwaizumi the ability to choose his own mate

 

Not having slept himself, he could say with some certainty that Iwaizumi had gotten, at most, a couple of hours of sleep. The walls in the apartment were thin, and he could hear Iwaizumi moving around, tossing and turning as sleep evaded him, as well.

 

Iwaizumi had excused himself less than an hour after their talk, telling Oikawa that he wanted to be alone and think for a little while. Not before that he’d made several ice packs and had instructed Oikawa to ice his knee off and on the entire night, promising that he’d ‘beat the shit out of him’ if he didn’t. Oikawa couldn’t help but smile as he thought about his aggressive concern.

 

Giving up on getting even a couple of hours of sleep, Oikawa wandered into the kitchen, wondering if he ought to try to make breakfast or something. He walked up to the stove, examining the buttons and dials as he considered what he might make.

 

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d cooked something. Well, the last time that he had actually cooked something. The last time that he had even gone near a stove, there had been a small fire and Oikawa had learned the hard way that you DO NOT throw water on grease fires. He’d ended up with a singed eyebrow and a permanent ban from the kitchen.

 

He ran his fingers over one of the knobs, contemplating. Scrambled eggs couldn’t be too hard, right? You just threw an egg in a pan and mushed it around. As he turned one of the stove eyes on, he heard the floor creak behind him.

 

“The hell are you doing?” Iwaizumi asked, his voice still thick with sleep. He stood in the middle of the kitchen, his arms crossed and brow furrowed.

 

“Making scrambled eggs?” Oikawa replied nervously, unsure if he should apologize for using the kitchen without asking. He shifted uncomfortably as Iwaizumi stared at him. “Um, would you prefer that I didn’t?”

 

“I would prefer that you didn’t scramble eggs in the oven while it’s set to broil,” Iwaizumi said, walking past Oikawa and turning off what was apparently the oven.

 

“Oh….” Oikawa said weakly.

 

Iwaizumi just sighed as he reached under the oven and pulled out a frying pan.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Not burning down the kitchen,” he said curtly. He shook his head at Oikawa. “I’m scrambling your damn eggs for you.”

 

“Oooh, can I watch?” Oikawa asked, a little excited by the prospect. In addition to being banned from the kitchen, he’d also been prohibited from watching the food channel, since everyone had been terrified he’d find sudden inspiration and would actually end up setting the neighborhood on fire.

 

“I guess. As long as you promise to never try this at home,” Iwaizumi said. Then he added, “Or anywhere else, for that matter.” He muttered something about ‘broiling eggs’ as he started rummaging through his refrigerator.

 

“Can I help?” Oikawa asked hopefully.

 

“Sure.” He pointed towards the other side of the counter. “Go stand over there.”

 

Oikawa pouted, but did as he was told. He couldn’t really complain, though, since he had the perfect view of Iwaizumi as he set to work.

 

He looked tired, letting out the occasional yawn as he cracked the eggs into a bowl before adding a few vegetables and unidentifiable spices. His spiky hair laid flat in a few places, his pajamas were rumpled, and he had bags under his eyes. In spite of all that, though, Oikawa still thought that he was the most adorable person he had ever seen.

 

His shirt rode up slightly, exposing the ridges of his abs. His sleeveless shirt showed off his biceps, which Oikawa begrudgingly admitted were more impressive than his own. Looking at him, Oikawa still had trouble believing that he was an omega. He knew that was what Iwaizumi had been going for, but just the same.... His mate could easily take out most alphas or betas.

 

Mate. That was a weird word. Or rather, it was weird to apply it to Iwaizumi. He’d had trouble imagining himself mating with anyone, which he supposed made sense now, given that he’d unknowingly had a mate for years.

 

“How’s your knee,” Iwaizumi asked suddenly. He kept his eyes on the frying pan, occasionally poking at it with a spatula. “You should sit down or something.”

 

Oikawa curled and straightened his leg a few times, wincing slightly.

 

“It’s stiff,” he said, “but not bad.”

 

Obeying Iwaizumi’s suggestion, he lifted himself onto the counter, doing his best to avoid putting his full weight on his knee. Less than a second after he did, Iwaizumi turned towards him, brandishing the spatula.

 

“Get off of there,” he ordered. “You’re getting your gross germs where I make food. Besides, you should probably prop your leg up while you can. You’re not gonna be able to when you get to school.”

 

Oikawa shrugged, but slid off of the countertop. “I could probably talk someone into bringing me a spare desk or letting me prop my leg up on their desk.”

 

“You’re disgusting,” Iwaizumi replied as Oikawa made his way over to the small table in the corner of the kitchen. “Do you expect everyone to make sacrifices for your own comfort?”

 

“Well, no….”

 

“Coulda fooled me,” Iwaizumi said as he began to dish the eggs onto two separate plates. He carried them over to the table and set one in front of Oikawa. He then say adjacent to Oikawa, avoiding the seat on which Oikawa had propped his leg.

 

Oikawa thanked him for the food, and then began eating in silence. He was a little hurt by Iwaizumi’s low opinion of him. Maybe he was a little inconsiderate at times, but it was never intentional. He started thinking of things that he could do to make Iwaizumi like him better. He really wanted his mate’s approval, and he was willing to change his entire personality if that was what it took.

 

“You going back to your place?” Iwaizumi asked between bites, breaking the silence.

 

“I, uh. Yeah, I guess I should.” He glanced over at his bag, which contained both his practice clothes and his rumpled uniform. He wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, I should probably go home and change.”

 

“I guess I could loan you one of mine, but I doubt It’d fit well, and I really don’t want people to know we swapped clothes or something like that.”

 

“Would that bother you?” Oikawa asked. He’d borrowed clothes from Makki and Mattsun before and no one had batted an eye. If it bothered Iwaizumi, then he wasn’t going to pursue the idea, but still.”

 

“I don’t want….” Iwaizumi hesitated, confirming Oikawa’s suspicions. “Nevermind,” he said, shaking his head dismissively. “It’s not a big deal.”

 

“You don’t want people to think that we’re together,” Oikawa said, filling in the blanks.

 

“It would be weird.” He shoved a large forkful of eggs into his mouth, probably to avoid elaborating.

 

“Do you— Are you OK being with me? I know it wasn’t by choice,” he said, looking down at his food, “and I’m really, really sorry about that.” His mouth sloped to the side. “Do you think,” he said quietly, “that you could ever like being with me. I mean, would you ever be happy being my mate?”

 

“I don’t know,” Iwaizumi said, letting out a long breath. He dropped his fork onto his plate, where it made a loud clatter. He pushed his plate to the side, then leaned his elbows on the table, propping his chin against his fists. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’re a great person….”

 

Oikawa cringed. This sounded like the beginning of a breakup. He knew how this went. There was always a ‘but’ that followed. ‘You’re a great person, BUT I don’t think we should be together.’ He shoved aside his own plate, which was empty save for a few pieces of egg here and there.

 

“You would prefer things were different,” he said. As much as he wanted to believe otherwise, he couldn’t delude himself. Iwaizumi’s actions from the very beginning had made that very clear.

 

Iwaizumi chewed his lip, averting his gaze. His silence said just as much as his words could. “To be honest,” he said, “I’m not really sure how I feel about all this.” He suddenly glanced over at the clock. “But anyway, if you wanna have time to get home and change, you should leave.”

 

Oikawa followed his gaze, his eyes widening a little when he saw the time. He bolted from his seat, doing his best to shove their conversation out of his mind as he distracted himself with the fact that he was, indeed, running behind.

 

He grabbed his bag, then stood in the middle of the living room for a moment, at a loss. “Do you want me to help with that?” he asked, gesturing towards the dishes. He felt bad for crashing at Iwaizumi’s in the first place, and now he felt like he’d taken advantage of the hospitality he’d all but demanded from Iwaizumi.

 

“Nah, I’ve got it.” Iwaizumi started gathering the plates from the table.

 

“Oh, um, thank you. I really appreciate it,” he said, bowing slightly. Iwaizumi just let out a snort.

 

“Get out of here.”

 

He nodded and headed towards the door. As he grasped the handle he asked, “Can we talk again later? We’ve got a little over an hour and a half until school starts, and if we get to school a little early….” He trailed off, hoping that Iwaizumi would agree.

 

“Sure,” Iwaizumi said, his back turned to Oikawa. “I guess we have a couple things we should work through.”

 

“Thank you,” Oikawa said sincerely. “I know I probably don’t deserve it, but I appreciate it.”

 

“Sure thing,” was all Iwaizumi said, signaling that the conversation had ended.

 

And with that, Oikawa walked out the door.

 


 

He’d all but run to school. After egging the cab driver to drive faster, he’d bolted into his house, showering long enough to wash his hair and body before almost immediately changing into his uniform, which had stuck to his body since he hadn’t bothered to dry off.

 

He’d run a brush through his hair and rubbed a little bit of gel through it, hoping that it would stay in place—at least until he could duck out of class and spend a little more time styling it. He had a few teachers who adored him, so he could probably get away with spending at least thirty minutes in the bathroom. If all else failed, he’d feign sickness. He’d looked pretty sick for awhile, anyway.

 

Oddly enough, though, his skin had a glow that hadn’t been there previously. In spite of not having slept the night before, he looked better than he had in years. He could only assume that it had something, if not everything, to do with spending time with Iwaizumi. If avoiding him had such a significant impact on his health, it made sense that being near him would improve things.

 

With that on his mind, he’d headed to school as quickly as he could, hoping that Iwaizumi had done the same. There was no guarantee that the other boy had any intention of associating himself with Oikawa at school, much less talking to him. Oikawa desperately hoped that he would, though.

 

Even though he’d taken a more roundabout route to the school, he was still swarmed by girls the moment that he set foot on school grounds. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Iwaizumi, who wore an aggravated expression as he took in the scene. Oikawa jerked his head in the direction of the gym, frantically hoping that Iwaizumi would get the message and wouldn’t just walk away.

 

“I have to go,” he told the girls apologetically. “I’ve got a meeting with my vice captain.” The girls groaned, so he gave them a bright smile. “We’ll talk again later,” he said, giving them a brief wave before darting towards the gym.

 

Once in the gym, he threw open the locker room door. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw Iwaizumi on one of the benches. He looked up from his phone as Oikawa walked in.

 

“They don’t give you a break, do they?” Iwaizumi said, referencing the girls that Oikawa had been with only moments ago. He still wore traces of irritation as he started toying with his phone again, and Oikawa instantly felt guilty. Somehow even talking with the girls felt like cheating. He’d gotten used to chatting and flirting with them—a habit that he was going to have to break.

 

“Never,” Oikawa said with a grimace. “Sorry about that. I was hoping they wouldn’t see me.”

 

“It’s fine,” Iwaizumi said dismissively. He didn’t look up from his phone, and though he had a disinterested look on his face, Oikawa had a feeling that he was upset.

 

He walked over to Iwaizumi and sat down on the bench next to him, leaning over his shoulder slightly to watch whatever game he was playing. He was disappointed to find that it was the news. Iwaizumi finally put the device away and turned to face Oikawa, scooting away slightly so that there was a respectable gap between them. He then glanced toward the door nervously.

 

“No one’s gonna walk in on us, right?” he asked apprehensively. “Should we go somewhere else?”

 

Oikawa shook his head. “Nah, there are no morning practices today. I double checked.” He then dropped his bag on the floor and pulled out a folder, waving it in front of Iwaizumi’s face before spreading it on the bench. “If anyone comes in, we can just say that we’re reviewing camp options. I usually come in here for stuff like that.” He cocked his head to the side, contemplating. “We should probably actually do that at some point.”

 

Iwaizumi picked up the papers and started sorting through them. He dropped a few back in the folder before holding up a few options. “These look pretty good.”

 

Oikawa blanched when he saw one of them. “Not Shiratorizawa,” he said, snatching the paper away before crumbling it up in a ball and throwing it at the trash can. Iwaizumi gave him a quizzical look, but Oikawa just shook his head.

 

“O-K...? It’s a good one, though. I don’t think we should completely eliminate it,” he said. He looked up after putting the rest of the papers away. “Honestly, I’m pretty surprised you didn’t go there. They’re one of the best, and I figured you’d be there. It’s, uh, one of the reasons I decided to come here.” He scratched the back of his head and shifted his gaze to the side. “I didn’t expect you to be here.”

 

“I’d rather die than go there,” Oikawa said seriously. He wasn’t sure if he should address what Iwaizumi had said about only coming here because he thought Oikawa wouldn’t be here, so he didn’t say anything more.

 

Iwaizumi let out a small laugh. “Still dramatic as ever,” he said, rolling his eyes a little. “Why didn’t you?”

 

“Ushiwaka,” was all Oikawa said. Iwaizumi raised a brow.

 

“Ushi-what?”

 

“Ushijima Wakatoshi,” Oikawa all but gagged. He felt like it was an appropriate response. The very thought of Ushijima made him sick.

 

“Shiratorizawa’s ace?” Iwaizumi said incredulously. “That’s why you didn’t go? That sounds like one of the best reasons to go.” He looked at Oikawa like he had gone crazy.

 

“Nope. Absolutely not. I’d quit volleyball before I’d set for him.” He didn’t add that he would probably try to put a hit on Ushijima before he would do that. “We’re going to crush him this year, by the way,” he said, baring his teeth as fire blazed behind his eyes.

 

He looked up to see that Iwaizumi had frozen, his eyes wide as he stared at Oikawa. Shit, pheromones , he remembered. “But, um, we’re going to worry about that later,” he said lamely, cursing himself for not paying better attention.

 

Even on suppressants, Iwaizumi still seemed to have a strong reaction to Oikawa. If that was the case, then Oikawa was going to have to buy some sort of blockers or suppressants for himself. The last thing he wanted was for Iwaizumi to feel even more uncomfortable and threatened around him.

 

Iwaizumi shook his head, probably trying to clear his mind. Oikawa could see that his fists were clenched. “Right,” he said, his voice cracking slightly. His expression turned vicious when it did, and his body grew even more tense. “So what did you want to talk about?” his voice coming out as a growl this time.

 

“Do you want to eat lunch together,” he said quickly, wanting to change the subject just as much as Iwaizumi. He wanted to apologize, as well, but he had a feeling that Iwaizumi wouldn’t appreciate it if he did.

 

“Sure?” Iwaizumi answered slowly. Clearly that wasn’t what he had expected Oikawa to ask him.

 

“Great! Makki, Mattsun, and I usually eat together,” he babbled, “but if you’d prefer, we can just eat together. Do you have a preference?”

 

“With Makki and Mattsun,” he replied instantly. Oikawa couldn’t help but notice he looked relieved by that option. He was a little disappointed, but knew that it would be for the best. Iwaizumi needed friends he could trust, and as awful as Hanamaki and Matsukawa could be, they were good people. They were also good at bringing people out of their shell. And though Iwaizumi seemed to interact well with his classmates and teammates, he still seemed tense—for reasons that were now obvious to Oikawa.

 

Iwaizumi had given him a brief overview about what some of his former classmates had said and done to him, but Oikawa knew that he had probably left out a few things. Even if he hadn’t, what he had told Oikawa was more than reason enough to be distrustful of his peers. The very thought made Oikawa’s blood boil, and he was prepared to rip off the head of whomever even looked at Iwaizumi the wrong way.

 

On the off chance that his mate ever gave him the names of the people who had abused him in the past, Oikawa would happily find ways to make them pay. Being born into a powerful family had its perks, and Oikawa wouldn’t hesitate to use that power to his advantage.

 

“Got it,” Oikawa said with a nod. He hesitated a little. “Are you OK with that? I mean, your other friends….” As much as he wanted to be with the other boy as much as possible, he also didn’t want to pull him away from his other friends.

 

Iwaizumi shrugged. “It’s fine,” he said. “They’ll get over it.”

 

Oikawa gave him a huge grin. “Great! I’ll find you as soon as lunch starts, then.”

 

“I’d tell you where my class is, but I’m pretty sure you already know,” Iwaizumi said with a snort. Oikawa felt his face heat up a little. He was still a little embarrassed by the fact that he had kind of sort of most definitely stalked Iwaizumi at school.

 

“Sorry about that.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I know that was a little … creepy.”

 

“At least I know why you were doing it now,” Iwaizumi said. “I thought you were just being an asshole back then.” He gave Oikawa a half smile. “But yeah, it was pretty creepy.”

 

Oikawa let out a groan and covered his face with his hands. “Can we forget that ever happened?” he mumbled, really wishing that he could forget it.

 

“Nope, definitely not,” Iwaizumi said, his lips twitching into a smile. He looked at his watch. “Shit. We should go soon. Class starts in 15 minutes.”

 

“Wait, there’s one more thing we should talk about,” Oikawa said before Iwaizumi could get up. He bit his lip, trying to think of a good way to phrase it.

 

“OK?” Iwaizumi said when Oikawa didn’t immediately answer. He looked a little annoyed by the delay.

 

“Well, your scent,” Oikawa said tentatively. “You give off a really mild scent. It’s not all that noticeable, but if someone does notice or if it gets stronger….” he trailed off, knowing that Iwaizumi was already fully aware of the implications.

 

“I know. I know,” Iwaizumi replied, shaking his head. “I’ve been looking into that.” He looked troubled, which worried Oikawa.

 

“Any luck yet?” he asked, though he knew the answer.

 

“Not really. There’s a suppressant that my doctor wanted to put me on a few months ago, but it’s really expensive.” Oikawa opened his mouth to respond, but then paused for a moment.

 

“A few months ago?” he echoed. “We haven’t been around each other for that long.”

 

Iwaizumi visibly tensed, his mouth drawing into a hard line. “I’m not actually supposed to be on the one that I’m on now,” he said, responding to Oikawa’s silent question.

 

“What are you on?” Oikawa asked curiously, then stopped, eyes growing wide. “Wait, you don’t have to answer that if it’s too personal!” he backtracked. Iwaizumi just rolled his eyes, something that was quickly becoming his trademark response to everything Oikawa said.

 

“It’s fine.”

 

Oikawa frowned as he listened to Iwaizumi rattle off a list of medications. “Hold on,” he said, holding up a hand. “The last one you mentioned. I’ve heard of that one.”

 

Iwaizumi looked uncomfortable. “Yeah, it was on the news a couple of months ago, he said. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “They recalled it before it was put on the market.”

 

Oikawa’s frown deepened. “But you took it?” He trained his eyes on Iwaizumi’s face, watching his expression carefully. Iwaizumi nodded as he tried to avoid Oikawa’s stare.

 

“We had shitty insurance for a while,” he said, embarrassment coloring his tone. “I was enrolled in one of the clinical trials right after I presented since we couldn’t afford one of the suppressants on the market.”

 

“Oh.” Oikawa couldn’t think of anything else to say. “Why was it recalled?” he finally asked.

 

“Look, can we talk about this later?” Iwaizumi said as he looked down at his watch. “We really should get going.” As if to prove his point, the first bell rang.

 

“Of course.” Puzzled by his response, Oikawa made a mental note to look it up later. He didn’t want to force Iwaizumi to talk about something he didn’t want to—especially when things between them were still shaky.

 

The both got up, and Oikawa shoved the folder of camp options back into his bag.

 

“Can we walk to class together?” he asked as Iwaizumi shouldered his own bag. He still had no idea how to navigate their quasi relationship, but he figured letting Iwaizumi take charge was the best thing to do right now.

 

“We’re both headed to the same class, aren’t we?” Iwaizumi said by way of response. Oikawa peered at him. He wasn’t 100% sure if that was a yes.

 

“So it’s OK?”

 

“Yeah, it’s OK,” he replied, walking towards the door. He looked over his shoulder at Oikawa. “You coming?”

 

Oikawa let out a happy noise and skipped after him. He reached for Iwaizumi’s hand, but they both flinched away before Oikawa made contact.

 

“No,” Iwaizumi started. “Let’s just not. Not here. Not….”

 

He looked unhappy, and Oikawa instantly felt guilty. He was supposed to make Iwaizumi feel safe. So far he’d been doing a pretty poor job of it.

 

“Sorry,” he mumbled. Iwaizumi didn’t respond, and they walked through the gym in silence. Now that they were out in the open, Oikawa could tell that Iwaizumi was throwing up his walls again. It made him sad, but he couldn’t blame Iwaizumi for it.

 

As they entered the hall, Oikawa remembered something. He moved closer to Iwaizumi, who glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and shifted away slightly.

 

“Before I forget,” he said in a low voice, “I can cover the medication for you.”

 

“That really isn’t necessary,” Iwaizumi protested.

 

“Isn’t it, though?” he asked, remembering what Iwaizumi had said about his doctor. “You need to be on something else, and I can make that happen.”

 

“It’s expensive—” Iwaizumi started to say, but Oikawa cut him off.

 

“Money isn’t an object.” He grinned. “As far as I’m concerned, what’s mine is yours.”

 

Iwaizumi gave him a suspicious look. “Are you trying to become my sugar daddy or something? Because that’s weird as hell.”

 

Oikawa feigned disappointment, letting his face fall a little. “Aw, but Iwa-chan, I already had everything planned out,” he whined, keeping his voice at a volume only Iwaizumi would hear. “I even bought you a pink collar with rhinesto—” Oh shit. That definitely had not been the right thing to say. He threw a panicked glance at Iwaizumi, who wore a neutral expression.

 

“I can take a joke, y’know,” Iwaizumi said with a sigh, and Oikawa relaxed a little. “But I swear to god, if you ever try to put a collar on me, I’ll break every bone in your body.”

 

“Got it!” Oikawa said quickly. “No collars. Definitely no collars. I won’t even buy you a necklace if you don’t want me to.”

 

“Why would you buy me a necklace?” Iwaizumi asked, arching a brow. Before Oikawa could come up with some sort of poor validation for his answer, Iwaizumi continued. “Let me at least pay you back when I can.”

 

“Sure thing,” Oikawa agreed, though he had no intention of letting that happen. He then gasped. “Wait, instead of your sugar daddy, does this make me your drug dealer?” He said it louder than he should have, and a few students glanced their way.

 

“Don’t say shit like that out in public,” Iwaizumi hissed. “And you got way too excited about that. What are you, some sort of wannabe thug?”

 

“I’m hurt, Iwa-chan. You don’t think I could be an actual thug?”

 

“No,” Iwaizumi deadpanned. “You’d be the idiot who would piss all the thugs off and would end up in a full-body cast.”

 

Oikawa flexed slightly, pretending that his shirt didn’t completely cover his muscles. “With guns like these?”

 

“You have noodle arms,” Iwaizumi replied. He didn’t even bother to look at Oikawa’s playful display, though a few girls nearby squealed.

 

“I do not,” Oikawa said with a pout.

 

“I could probably snap your arms in half.”

 

That got Oikawa’s attention. His heart rate sped up a little as a few scenarios crossed his mind. Before he could get very far in any of them, Iwaizumi elbowed him in the side.

 

“Whatever you’re thinking, don’t. Just don’t,” he said, effectively chasing away any fantasies Oikawa may or may not have been considering.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Iwai-chan,” he said primly as he settled into his desk. Iwaizumi shot him a look that said I don’t believe you , but sat down in his own desk a few rows away from Oikawa, ending their conversation for the time being.

 


 

They were starting to fall into a rhythm. Oikawa couldn’t help but find it a little strange, how easy it was to be around Iwaizumi. Their conversations came naturally, and he found that he was able to joke around with Iwaizumi some, though a part of him was still afraid of offending the other boy.

Just the same, Iwaizumi still seemed to be having trouble adjusting to the fact that he was adjusting to Oikawa. There had been a few times that he had started to lean into Oikawa or had reached out to touch him, but before he had, he’d always caught himself, jumping away like he had been burnt. After that he would start to distance himself. Not nearly as much as he had before, but Oikawa could tell that his mind was somewhere else.

 

It was almost as if his initial actions were subconscious, but his mind was questioning every single one of those actions. Iwaizumi would act, react, rethink, and then, while stuck in his thoughts, would start the loop all over again. Wash, rinse, repeat. It was a strange and sad cycle.

 

He could also tell that Iwaizumi was trying hard, though. He tried to act happy around Oikawa, though more often than not the smiles were forced. Even the genuine ones seemed accidental, and Oikawa pretended not to notice the flinches that followed. It was almost as though he thought of the small moments of vulnerability as threats to his own safety. It hurt Oikawa to think that, at one point, they might have been.

 

Oikawa had hidden behind fake smiles and cheerful words for as long as he could remember, but he was beginning to realize that his defenses were nothing compared to the walls that Iwaizumi had barricaded himself behind. It worried him. And while he usually prided himself on being able to help people through their problems, he wasn’t sure how to go about helping Iwaizumi.

 

There was a part of Iwaizumi, he knew, that wanted to be near Oikawa, but Oikawa was fairly certain that it was simply out of biological necessity. It was probably similar, if not the same, as the way that Oikawa had unconsciously yearned to be near his mate when they had first reunited.

 

It had been almost two weeks since he’d found out that Iwaizumi was his mate. Since then they had spent every day together. It wasn’t always intentional. Now that they weren’t actively trying to avoid each other, they seemed to gravitate toward each other. But even though they were often in the same place, Iwaizumi’s mind frequently seemed to be somewhere else.

 

Oikawa was painfully aware of proximity. He did his best not to touch Iwaizumi, letting Iwaizumi initiate contact instead. It was more difficult than Oikawa had thought that it would be, as he was a very handsy person, especially when it came to his team. He would slap his teammates on the back, ruffle their hair, occasionally hug them, etc. Even though he couldn’t do that right now, seeing as he was benched for at least one more week, the urge was still there, and he worried that even friendly contact was a taboo when it came to Iwaizumi.

 

Times like right now.

 

They were both sitting on the couch at Iwaizumi’s apartment. Oikawa had brought over his collection of movies (something that he had been threatening for at least a week), then had started to describe each and every one until Iwaizumi finally told him to shut up and then had picked one at random.

 

As they watched, there was a good two to three feet between them, as they had both pressed themselves against opposite ends of the couch, almost as though they were trying  to get as far away from each other as they possibly could while still maintaining the pretense of sitting together.

 

It hurt, but Oikawa wasn’t about to make a move to change anything. He already felt like he was encroaching on Iwaizumi’s space by even asking him to hang out.

 

“That thing didn’t look anything like an alien,” Iwaizumi said, leaning back against the sofa and crossing his arms over his chest as the credits started to roll.

 

“How would you know, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa exclaimed, a little offended. This movie was in his top 25, though he wasn’t about to tell Iwaizumi that.

 

“Were we watching the same movie?” Iwaizumi replied, gesturing at the TV. “If you saw that thing in any other movie, would you think it was an alien?”

 

“Yes,” Oikawa pouted, ready to defend it until the end. “I bet you think all aliens are green with giant eyes. You have no appreciation for the creativity that it takes to create aliens that aren’t cliche blobs with big black eyes.”

 

“Right,” Iwaizumi said, some of the tension draining from his shoulders as he shifted from what seemed to have been an extremely uncomfortable position. He seemed to be in higher spirits than he had been earlier. While Oikawa could tell that Iwaizumi was uncomfortable being alone with Oikawa, he seemed to be two to three times more uncomfortable when they were at school.

 

“So what now?” Iwaizumi asked, surveying the large pile of DVDs that practically coated his living room floor.

“Can I see your room?” Oikawa asked curiously. “It’s fine if not,” he said quickly. He was quickly beginning to realize that, when around Iwaizumi, he had a tendency to say things without thinking them through.

 

“I hate it when you do that.”

 

“Sorry,” Oikawa said. “I know I ask a lot of really invasive stuff. I’ll try to tone it down.”

 

“Not that,” Iwaizumi said, clearly irritated. Oikawa gave him a confused look. “I mean when you apologize for asking stuff,” he elaborated.

 

Oikawa’s mouth formed an ‘O’. “Sorry about that,” he said with a sheepish grin.

 

Iwaizumi stood, walking over to Oikawa before lightly punching him in the shoulder. “You’re doing it again,” he said, though some of the aggravation had drained from his tone. “C’mon.”

 

Oikawa hopped up and followed Iwaizumi, trying to hide his grin, which was in response to Iwaizumi showing him his room, as well as the brief feeling of Iwaizumi’s skin against his own. It was a small step, but maybe one day Iwaizumi would be comfortable enough to touch him without thinking. It didn’t have to be sexual, but he craved Iwaizumi’s touch. He wanted to be as close as Iwaizumi would let him.

 

The walked through the short hallway, and Oikawa stood behind Iwaizumi as he hesitantly opened the door to his room and ushered the brunet inside. Once he walked in, Oikawa glanced around the room, completely surprised by what he saw. Or rather, didn’t see.

 

Most of it was what he would’ve expected to see in a teenager’s room. Clothes were strewn across the floor, the bed was half made, a few textbooks were scattered here and there, he had a couple of volleyball and movie posters on the wall.

 

What did surprise him was how bare the room felt. Even omegas on suppressants liked to nest, heaping copious amounts of blankets, pillows, and even stuffed animals onto their beds. On Iwaizumi’s bed, though, was a simple blanket and a single pillow. The bare minimum.

 

“What?” Iwaizumi asked defensively, crossing his arms and glaring at Oikawa, who was openly gaping. “Something wrong.”

 

“No,” Oikawa said quickly, shaking his head. Iwaizumi didn’t look convinced, so he continued. “You, you only have one pillow,” was all he could think to say.

 

Iwaizumi let out a huff. “Well I have to sleep on something, right?”

 

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Oikawa said, shaking his head. “I mean you only have one pillow. One, as in singular. As in not more.” He gave Iwaizumi a sideways glance. “Why do you only have one?”

 

“I wasn’t aware I needed more than one to sleep,” Iwaizumi replied. There was a bite to his tone, which told Oikawa that he should back down. Now.

 

“I guess not,” Oikawa said uncertainly. He didn’t voice his confusion at the fact that an omega seemed to have willingly subjected himself to a bedding arrangement that couldn’t possibly be conducive to nesting. Iwaizumi wasn’t a typical omega, but his irregularities still surprised Oikawa every day.

 

He wondered if this was a choice that Iwaizumi had consciously made. He wasn’t about to ask, though. The look on Iwaizumi’s face seemed to demand the opposite, so he bit his lip and tried to think of something else to say.

 

“I like your posters,” he said, glancing specifically at the one of the men’s Japanese volleyball team. He turned to Iwaizumi. “Have you considered playing after high school? You’re definitely good enough to play in college,” he added, thinking back to the power behind Iwaizumi’s spikes.

 

“I used to,” Iwaizumi said with a shrug, “but if anyone found out I was an omega, it’d screw me over for the rest of college.”

 

“There are plenty of omegas who go to college,” Oikawa protested. “You’re good enough to go to college and you’re good enough to play volleyball there.”

 

“Thanks,” Iwaizumi said softly, “but that’s not how life works. Not yet, at least. I mean, how many omegas play at the university level?” he asked, a sad smile on his lips.

 

Oikawa frowned. He couldn’t offer Iwaizumi an answer. It was true; omegas rarely played sports in high school, much less in college. While he was sure that there had to be an exception, he couldn’t think of one off the top of his head.

 

Iwaizumi was watching his face closely. Even though he seemed to have known what Oikawa’s answer would be, his face still fell a little. “See what I mean?” he said. “I’m gonna try to pass as a beta for as long as I can. I don’t want to risk fucking that up in college.” He swallowed hard, and Oikawa felt a pang of sadness pierce his heart.

 

“You could do it, though,” he insisted. “You could be one of the first. I know you could do it.” He stared at Iwaizumi hopefully, but his mate turned his face.

 

“We should probably do homework now,” he said, ending their conversation. He walked out the door, sparing Oikawa a quick glance only to ensure that the brunet was following him.

 

“Of course,” Oikawa said weakly. He closed the door to Iwaizumi’s room just as Iwaizumi had closed the door on their conversation.

 


 

It was probably a stupid idea, but stupid or not, once Oikawa got stuck on an idea, he followed through with it. He was a little obsessive in that respect, but he was usually met with good results, and regardless, this was something that he really wanted to do.

 

He wandered around the huge home store tossing nearly every soft blanket and fluffy pillow that he found into a large shopping cart. He knew he was, more likely than not, overdoing it a little, but the idea of Iwaizumi not having a nest to burrow in made him sad. So he was shopping away his sadness—binge buying in lieu of binge eating.

 

He could barely see over the mountain of bedding that had accumulated in his cart, and had to peak to the side of it every now and then to ensure that he wasn’t about to plow over one of the little old ladies who were walking about while examining every. single. item. in the entire store. He’d already had to stop and apologize profusely twice after having nearly driven over two of them. Fortunately they had been sweet about it, asking him if he was shopping for his omega, and then politely listening as he gushed about his Iwa-chan.

 

By the time he had finished, he was a little embarrassed by how much he talked about Iwaizumi. They were mates only in the sense that they had bonded, but their relationship was platonic in every other sense. Just the same, being around Iwaizumi made him ridiculously happy, and buying things for him made Oikawa just as happy.

 

One of the women had asked if he had only recently bonded with his mate, since he seemed entirely starstruck when talking about him.

 

“It starts to fade some after awhile,” she had chuckled. “That’s not to say that it will go away completely, but eventually the honeymoon phase ends and the passion transitions into something a little more steady.”

 

Oikawa had smiled and nodded as she had spoken, masking his utter confusion. He couldn’t imagine anything that he felt for Iwaizumi fading. Even if their relationship never progressed physically, he would still be thrilled to be with his mate. And while he felt like he was treading on ice when he was around Iwaizumi, being with the other boy still made him giddy.

 

It was probably why he sported a huge grin each time he added another item to his pile. He liked doing things for Iwaizumi. He knew he wouldn’t get to very often, since Iwaizumi was proud of his independence. The few times that he’d try to do something for Iwaizumi, his mate had either flat out refused or had demanded that Oikawa let him pay him back.

 

It was frustrating to say the least, but he understood it. Iwaizumi wasn’t your typical omega, And after having been on his own for so long, Oikawa could only guess that the other boy didn’t want to feel as though an alpha had suddenly taken control of his life.

 

He got it, but that didn’t stop him from buying over three hundred dollars worth of blankets, pillows, and soft sheets. He’d decided to make it a part of his quest to prove himself to be a good alpha. He could only hope that Iwaizumi would actually appreciate it—whether he expressed it or not.

 


 

Arms laden with puffy bags, he knocked on the apartment door—or rather, body slammed the door, since he didn’t have a free hand to knock with. It was probably why Iwaizumi, instead of opening the door, cracked it open, peering out from the sliver of space that the door’s chain afforded.

 

He stared for a moment, taking in the sight of Oikawa nearly buckling under the weight of his purchases. Oikawa just grinned at him. He could practically see Iwaizumi’s mind trying to process what was in front of him.

 

“Abso-fucking-lutely not,” Iwaizumi finally said, then slammed the door in Oikawa’s face.

 

Oikawa set his bags down on the floor, not the least bit surprised by Iwaizumi’s reaction. He had expected to be met with resistance.

 

“But Iwa-chaaaan,” Oikawa complained, “I bought them all for me so that I wouldn’t have to sit on your hard floor when we do homework.” He started to dig through one of the bags, preparing his ultimate weapon—one that had been inspired by one of his childhood memories of Iwaizumi. “I even sacrificed and bought something for you! See!” he said, holding against the peephole a blanket spotted with tiny godzillas.

 

After a beat, the door creaked open and Iwaizumi stared at Oikawa through eyes that had been narrowed into slits.

 

“You,” he said, closing the door slightly so that he could undo the chain, “are the shittiest person I have ever met.”

 

Oikawa let out a cheer as the door opened. He picked up a couple of the bags and marched into the apartment.

 

“Don’t forget to get the other ones, Iwa-chan,” he called after him. “I am the guest, after all, and you can’t expect me to carry them all on my own.” He felt a particularly large pillow hit him on the back of the head as he walked. And then, after a second, another one followed after it.

 

Instead of carrying the bags in, Iwaizumi emptied their contents, directing each and every item at Oikawa, who yelped and did his best to use two of the pillows as a makeshift shield.

 

When he finally finished, pillows and blankets littered the ground. Most of them surrounded Oikawa, who had refused to come out from behind his tiny fortress. As he peeked out from between the pillows, he saw Iwaizumi pick up another pillow and advance towards him.

 

He immediately shot up, grabbing a small white pillow and waving it in the air like a flag.

 

“I surrender!” he yelped. “I demand a ceasefire!”

 

Iwaizumi let out a bark of laughter. “You’re pretty shitty at this whole negotiation thing. Aren’t you supposed to have something to bargain with?”

 

Oikawa thought for a second, then threw himself at Iwaizumi’s feet. “I humbly offer my body to you,” he said, peeking up from under his eyelashes. He then sat back on his knees and grinned. “That’s pretty good bargaining material, right?”

 

Iwaizumi smacked him in the head with a pillow.

 

“How about you just withdraw your troops from my territory?” he said, glancing around at the mess. “I can’t think of any reason why I’d accept your offer.” He reached out a hand to Oikawa, who looked at it disdainfully before accepting it and allowing Iwaizumi to pull him up.

 

“I’ll have you know I’m in high demand,” he said.

 

“Somehow I doubt that,” Iwaizumi said, ignoring Oikawa’s small sound of protest. “Now how about making yourself useful and cleaning this up.” He picked up a few blankets, then turned to Oikawa and crossed his arms. “And after that, you can take it back to wherever you got it.”

 

“Oh,” was all Oikawa said, his previously good mood dissipating in an instant. He picked up a few things, tossing a pillow here, folding a blanket there, before asking, “Do you really not like that sort of thing?”

 

Iwaizumi stopped what he was doing and looked up. The expression on his face was conflicted, and he seemed torn between ignoring Oikawa entirely and actually giving him some sort of explanation.

 

“I just don’t want to be the stereotypical omega,” Iwaizumi said, staring at the ground. “I figured I I acted the part of a beta, I’d feel more like one.” He clenched his fists. I never wanted to be this way. I hate being an omega,” he said, glancing at the few pieces of bedding that remained on the floor like they were going to attack him.

 

Oikawa frowned. “You know there’s nothing wrong with liking it.” He cracked a smile. “Besides, it’s not like betas, or even alphas, don’t like being comfortable.”

 

“Well, yeah. But it’s not like alphas and betas do the whole nesting thing,” he said, waving his hand at nothing in particular. He wrinkled his nose. “It’s weird as hell.”

 

“What’s weird about it?” Oikawa asked, furrowing his brow.

 

Iwaizumi thought for a moment, then said, “The omega part of it, I guess.” He shrugged helplessly. “I can’t really put it into words, but it makes me feel weak—like I don’t have any control over what I do. Besides,” he added, “that was something omegas at my schools were always teased about.”

 

“Back when we were kids,” Oikawa said slowly, “you told me that being an omega didn’t make me weak.” He bit his lip. “Did you mean that?”

 

Iwaizumi let out a slow breath. His lips turned downward and a resigned look took over his face. Oikawa watched him worriedly. He had promised himself that he wouldn’t push Iwaizumi—that he would give him the space that he needed until he was ready to talk to Oikawa. Just the same, though, he couldn’t watch Iwaizumi do this to himself.

 

Regardless of how Iwaizumi acted or what he pretended to be, he was still an omega, and Oikawa wanted him to be proud of that fact. He had made Oikawa feel strong and special when they were younger, and Oikawa wanted to return the favor. Even though they had gone years without seeing each other and were just getting to know each other again, Oikawa could say without hesitation that Iwaizumi was strong and perfect exactly as he was. That was who he was, and being an omega didn’t affect that at all.

 

“Yeah, I meant it,” Iwaizumi said after several minutes. He briefly met Oikawa’s eyes before looking away again. “It just feels different now that it’s me. I don’t think I ever realized back then how badly omegas were treated.” He gave Oikawa a pained smile. “Every time someone found out I was an omega, they started treating me differently. Even my friends, they … they didn’t want to be friends anymore after they found out.”

 

Oikawa opened his mouth to say something, but before he could, Iwaizumi continued.

 

“Did I ever tell you that I played basketball?” he asked, and Oikawa shook his head. “Yeah,” he went on, “I played for about a year at the beginning of middle school. Was pretty good at it, too. I was a starter my first year.”

 

Oikawa grinned. “I can see that.” He cocked his head to the side. “I bet you looked pretty cute in the uniform, too,” he said, and Iwaizumi let out a snort.

 

“You would think that,” he said, shaking his head a little. “But anyway, about halfway into the season I slipped up. Someone saw my mark when I was changing, and then people started talking.”

 

Oikawa grimaced. He could see where this was going. He waited for Iwaizumi to finish, though. He could tell that his mate needed to talk about this. He wondered if he had ever told anyone this before, and a wave of sadness passed through him at the thought.

 

“When I showed up for practice a couple days later, the coach grabbed me before I could go into the locker room and told me not to come back. Said that I was probably just playing so that I could find another alpha.”

 

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa said miserably, at a loss for what to say. He pulled his friend into a hug. Iwaizumi stood there stiffly, arms by his side. He didn’t push Oikawa away, though.

 

“It’s OK,” he mumbled. “It’s not a big deal.”

 

Oikawa pushed him away slightly, holding him at arm’s length so that he could stare at his face.

 

“It’s not OK,” he said. “The way that they treated you….” He shook his head. “That’s not OK at all. You deserve better than that.”

 

Iwaizumi didn’t answer. He looked on the verge of tears, so Oikawa ushered him over to the couch.

“You’re worth it, you know,” he said, and Iwaizumi glanced up quickly.

 

“What d’you mean?” he asked, blinking hard.

 

“I mean that you deserve everything you’ve worked for,” Oikawa said. “You deserve to be in the class you’re in, you deserve to be the ace, you deserve the admiration you get from our classmates—all of that. You’ve worked hard and you’ve earned all of this. And even if you hadn’t, it still belongs to you. No one has a right to take that away. Your secondary gender doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change who you are.”

 

Iwaizumi’s jaw was clenched tightly, and Oikawa could see a sheen of tears that coated his eyes. His mate opened his mouth to say something—maybe protest or deny everything that Oikawa had said—but instead, a strangled noise escaped his throat.

 

He buried his face into his hands and let out a sob as he shook his head.

 

“I can’t,” he started before his body was racked by another sob. “No one’s ever said that,” he finally managed as he gasped for breath. “Not even my parents. Not even my parents said that,” he added, his shaky composure falling apart all over again.

 

Tears filling his own eyes, Oikawa hugged Iwaizumi, and for the first time, Iwaizumi hugged him back.