“—and remember to do your readings over the weekend!”
Hajime and a hundred other students slam their books shut, and chatter rises in the lecture theatre as people begin filing out.
He rolls his shoulders and cracks his knuckles, shuffling along the queue to the door. It feels like there are ants under his clothes and he itches to book it out of here. He’s wearing last week’s clothes, and the baseball cap pulled over his greasy hair combined with a day-old stubble and a dead-eyed stare is more than enough to make people step out of his way. It’s his last class of the week and he is beyond done.
He pulls his phone out of his pocket and presses the first number in his call log. It rings twice and then connects.
“Iwa-chan! Have you been freed?”
The phone’s tinny speakers don’t do Tooru’s voice justice but Hajime feels a fond smile cross over his face anyways, and the tightness in his neck abates.
“Yeah, thank God,” he groans, and Tooru laughs. “I’m gonna grab my stuff and head out soon.”
“Mmmn~ Call me when you get here?”
“Yeah.” Does he have to make those noises, what the heck. “Don’t forget to stock the fridge with real food.”
“Instant noodles not treating you well over there?”
Hajime grimaces. “I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime. I need actual cooked meals.”
“Does that mean you’ll cook for me, Iwa-chan?”
And curse him, but Hajime can practically see that coy little smile. “I’m not your mom, Crappykawa.”
“Awww but Iwa-chaaaaan, how could you use my kitchen and not even let me taste some of your delicious cooking?”
“Easy. I just won’t.”
“Meanie! And just for that, I’m not giving you your surprise!”
Hajime perks up, feet slowing down. “Surprise?”
“Nope! Nuh-uh, you’re not getting it, don’t even try with me!”
Hajime pauses, pretending to think, when really, he’s just barely holding back the giddy, happy feeling in his chest. His cheeks are stretched wide with a grin as he strolls back to his dorm. “…I’ll cook for you,” he plays along, and a little of the warmness slips into it.
“Hah, I knew I’d get you. Aren’t I great?”
“You’re one hundred percent trash,” Hajime says easily, reaching for his key card.
“Well, you’re childhood friends with this piece of trash!!”
Jesus fucking Christ, Hajime is going to die laughing. A dorm mate passes by and mouths “Oikawa?” and Hajime nods.
“Alright, alright, don’t get your flamingo boxers in a twist, you baby.” Hajime reaches his door, slides his key in and steps through the threshold, kicking off his shoes. “…You’re at least recyclable trash.”
The last thing Hajime hears is an indignant squawk before the call cuts off angrily.
Warm, orange-pink light shines softly on the walls and the floor as the sun settles down behind high rise buildings and distant mountains. Two birds chirp sweetly outside the window, fluttering around each other. The food sizzles on the pan, simple fried rice but Hajime’s mouth waters at the prospect of eating something other than microwaveable food. He arrived at Tooru’s apartment an hour ago, using the key Tooru gave him. He immediately took a shower and shaved in a blessedly clean bathroom not shared by two dozen other filthy guys.
Dressed in a loose tee and sweatpants, hair still a little damp, Hajime hums as he divides the rice into two bowls. He drops the pan into the sink and takes out his phone from his pocket.
[May 5, 7:12 pm] Hajime: fried rice fr dinner when u cming bck
[May 5, 7:13 pm] dnt fckn answer: ????you’re there right now??? I thought I told you to text me!!!
[May 5, 7:13 pm] Hajime: lol whoops
[May 5, 7:13 pm] dnt fckn answer: ヽ ( ಠ _ ಠ ) ノ
[May 5, 7:13 pm] dnt fckn answer: almost home. 5 mins
[May 5, 7:13 pm] dnt fckn answer: don’t eat w.out me!!!!!
[May 5, 7:14 pm] Hajime: no prmises loser
Stuffing his phone back in his pocket, he grabs two spoons and carries the bowls to the tiny coffee table. In fact, this whole place is tiny, Hajime barely needs to take four steps from the stove to get to what was essentially the living room, though it doubled as a bedroom; there's a futon rolled up in the corner by the desk. He walks back to the fridge to try and find some drinks and sees nothing but a half-empty carton of chocolate milk.
He sighs, grabs it and starts filling up two glasses. The door clacks open as he’s putting the carton back, and there’s a second of rapid thumping before Tooru’s flopped all over his back, singing “I’m home~”
Hajime’s about to welcome him back but then the bastard sticks his cold, cold hands under Hajime’s armpits.
“Jesus fuckin—Shittykawa, you are so fucking shitty, get off!”
There’s a lot of violent slapping and twisting, grunts and giggles, and when the dust settles, Tooru is lying flat on the tatami mats. Hajime steps around him with the glasses, glaring, because Tooru is sneaky fucker and would absolutely trip him just to send everything flying, damn the mess. Tooru just makes gross kissy faces at him.
“Come eat your food before it gets cold,” Hajime scolds. He feels like there should be an apron around his waist and a wooden spoon in his hand. It’s a weird and awful image, so he kicks Tooru in the shin when he crawls over.
“I’m annoyed for some reason.”
“Get out of my house,” Tooru says flatly.
“Thanks for the food,” Hajime replies and digs in.
The table’s pushed to the side, dishes dumped in the sink for later because they’re both lazy assholes, and a low-quality version of Moana plays on Tooru’s laptop. They’re on their stomachs on the futon, squished together and skin sticky with sweat from an unusually warm spring night. Hajime should be doing the homework he brought in his duffel bag, but he’s wonderfully full of food, sluggish and sated and anything beyond breathing or keeping his eyes open seems out of his physical capacity.
“This is awful, I can’t even see what’s going on, what is that? Is that her grandmother or a pineapple?” Tooru grunts, words muffled into his palm.
“Of course that’s her grandmother, why would a pineapple be imparting wisdom to a teenager on a boat in the middle of the ocean,” Hajime mumbles into the curve of Tooru’s bare shoulder. His eyelids droop, lashes brushing against Tooru’s skin and Tooru shivers, goosebumps rising.
“Why did I let you talk me into this, it’s ruined for me now, the magic of Disney and singing crabs is lost through the size of these fucking pixels.” Tooru slumps down, hiding his face in the crook of his elbow.
Hajime pokes at his side, eliciting a growl. “Pay attention, Moana’s singing.”
“Singing means something important is happening,” Hajime insists sleepily.
Tooru raises his head, mouth open as if to say something and stops. He stares at Hajime, strangely. Like they just met. Hajime just blinks back, slow and comfortable. He lets the corner of his mouth tilt up.
“…You’re ridiculous,” Tooru whispers, and knocks his temple into Hajime’s.
Hajime blows a loud and wet raspberry onto the skin under his lips and Tooru lets out the highest, most terrified shriek Hajime’s heard all year. He rolls onto his back, away from Hajime, and Hajime falls with him, onto his chest. Tooru scrubs furiously at the drool on his shoulder with Hajime’s sleeve and whines petulantly into Hajime’s hair.
Hajime falls asleep laughing, with Moana singing in the background and Tooru’s complaints in his ear.
“..wa-chan. Iwa-chan, wake up. C’mon, you sleepy bear, it’s already eleven.”
Hajime groans, low and raspy with sleep, “Tooru, please.”
The shaking abruptly ceases and there’s a period of silence. Hajime starts falling back to sleep, lulled by the warmth under the covers and snuggling deeper into the pillow in his arms.
And then some sick fucker bites his neck.
Hajime shoots upright, snarling and completely disoriented. He looks around, searching for the culprit and only finds Tooru laughing his ass off beside him, a finger pointed at Hajime.
“Oh my God, Iwa-chan, that is the best thing I’ve seen all week oh my God—”
“—should’ve taken a video, Makki would’ve loved it—”
“—play it at my funeral—”
“Oikawa fucking Tooru, did you fucking bite me?” Hajime growls, hand clapped over his neck.
“Well, you wouldn’t wake up and I needed to pee!” Tooru protests, staring up at him with big, brown eyes. “You were wrapped all over me, crushed my lungs, you poop-head!”
“Who the fuck says poop-head, Assikawa, are you seven,” Hajime scrubs a hand over his face, biting down on the smile.
“Out of five, yeah,” comes the cheeky reply.
Hajime snaps. He goes for the ribs, fingers merciless.
“I—Iwaaaa-ch—ah! No! Nooooo Iwa-cha—nnnhh mm’gonna pee!!!” He howls, head tossing side to side, hands pushing futilely at Hajime’s fingers. His shirt rides up his stomach and as he flails, the waistband of his pajama bottoms drag down. He laughs, wheezy and panting, and Hajime has to. Stop. Because he’s. Tired. Or something, whatever.
Tooru lies defeated, curled up on his side as Hajime shakes the sleepiness from his head, blinking back after-images of Tooru's bare skin in the morning sunlight. He leans back on his hands, lazily gazing around.
The curtains weren’t closed all the way last night, and a slice of sunlight streaks its way through the room, right down the length of the futon. It shimmers in Tooru’s hair, casts a glow on his lashes and his lips, and sinks warm and heavy onto Hajime’s thigh, the one Tooru’s got a hand on, absently rubbing slow circles onto it as he regains his breath. Dust floats around, passing through the ray of light and then disappearing. The apartment is still, fridge running quietly and the laptop is pushed a little bit away from the head of the futon, half-closed in their rush to sleep. Hajime’s duffel lies next to Tooru’s rack of clothes, blending right in.
He closes his eyes to it all, trying to breath steadily through his nose.
“Hey.” Tooru sounds impossibly soft.
There’s a rustling, and Hajime feels Tooru lean past him, reaching for something near the rack. His hair brushes Hajime’s chin, his hand is braced on Hajime’s shoulder. A finger taps his cheek and he opens his eyes halfway.
Tooru sits a few inches from him, and Hajime realizes their legs are still tangled together. In his hands lies a box wrapped in green paper.
Hajime leans forward, freeing up his hands to take the gift, and it brings him just that much closer to Tooru, who doesn’t move away.
“I know it’s a month early, but. We won’t be getting another long weekend in a while and if I waited ‘til the next time I saw you, it’d be July already,” Tooru says quietly, brushing his hair out of his eyes. There’s something almost shy about it.
But this is Tooru. Shy isn’t something Hajime would associate with Tooru.
“Thanks,” he says, sincere, feeling like the usual insult would fit all wrong in a situation like this. But Tooru’s given him presents before. Hajime doesn’t know what makes this time any different. It could very well be another prank gift that pukes glitter everywhere or a pair of kids’ underwear.
“Open it,” Tooru urges, bobbing in place, excited now.
Hajime does, oddly careful with the wrapping, partly because he’s still feeling…weird, and partly to watch Tooru squirm. The paper falls away and the lid of the box is lifted and Hajime stares down at sea-blue photo album. He takes it out, fingers sweeping over the smooth cover of it, and flips it open to the first sleeve.
There’s a picture of them already in it, the first picture of them, actually. They’re cradled in the arms of Tooru’s mom, who sits tired and glowing in a hospital bed. They’re holding hands across her chest.
Dated July 20th, the day Tooru was born, the story was that Tooru hadn’t stopped crying until Hajime’s parents stopped by and introduced Hajime to him, to which the little brat had finally fallen silent.
“I wish we’d caught it on tape, Hajime, it was the cutest thing,” his dad said. “Damn near teared up a little, watching Tooru reach for you the moment he laid eyes on your frowny eyebrows.”
“Dad, he was just born, he couldn’t possibly have been able to see—”
“The two of you, like little steamed red bean buns—”
Hajime turns the page, and it’s one of them ten months later, hands braced together between them, identical expressions of determination on their faces as they both struggle to get on their feet, using each other as support.
He flips through them all, running his fingers over some, huffing a small laugh at others. Halfway into the album, Tooru leans his head on Hajime’s shoulders and Hajime barely notices, too caught up in junior high memories to register the hand that comes up around his neck, dragging over the bite mark in his skin.
When he gets to the last picture—the one they took right before university started, lying in Tooru’s bed and Hajime’s got Tooru in a chokehold, the both of them making ridiculous faces—he pauses, because there are some empty sleeves left. And he knows it’s not that Tooru ran out of pictures because his mom keeps boxes full of them at home.
“For later, the ones that didn’t happen yet,” Tooru explains into the crook of Hajime’s neck. He taps a finger on the album. “There’s three more of the same set, in case you were worried about space.”
Hajime shakes his head. Closes the album and just. Holds it in his hands, thumbs tracing over the pattern of diamonds on the cover. Three more?
“You can be such a little shit sometimes, you know?” he says.
Tooru’s head shoots up, an offended noise starting low in his throat but Hajime speaks over it.
“But you make up for it, I guess, with this.” He turns his head slightly to smile.
Tooru’s mouth makes a small clack as it snaps shut and the flush that blooms across his cheeks puts the sunlight in the window to shame. They’re so close, noses barely an inch away, and the distance feels delicious to Hajime in a way he can feel himself getting addicted to. Can feel himself getting used to.
So he allows himself half a second before he pulls away.
He stands and Tooru falls on his side with a yell, limbs wind-milling. He looks like an overturned turtle.
“I’ll make us some breakfast,” Hajime says loudly, too loudly. It rings in the apartment, resonating all weirdly with the moment they just had but shit. Shit, Hajime doesn’t want to know what would happen if he hadn’t moved away. “Go brush your teeth, you stink.”
“O…okay,” Tooru says, and gets to his feet, rubbing at his arm. It’s telling that he doesn’t correct Hajime and tease him about it being more like lunch, with how late they slept in.
They won’t meet each other eyes, and the awkwardness only fades when they leave to meet up with Bokuto and Kuroo for a volleyball match.
“Hello, this is the Chofu Aerospace Center, how may I help you?”
Hajime twirls a pen around his fingers. “Hi, my name is Iwaizumi Hajime, I was wondering if I could take a buddy of mine to try out your space shuttle simulator for his birthday? I heard you guys do that.”
“Yes, we do offer the simulator for use. Would you like a tour of the facility, too?” the woman asks politely.
“Sure, that’d be great. Are there any available dates in July?”
There’s a click of a mouse and tapping of some keys and the woman says brightly, “There’s an opening on July thirty-first at 4pm. Would that be acceptable?”
A little late but it’ll do. Hajime’s confident Tooru doesn’t have summer practices that day. He tips his head back against his chair, squinting up at the library ceiling. “That’s great, we’ll take that day.”
“Wonderful.” The keyboard clacks again. “I’ll just get your email address so a confirmation email can be sent.”
Hajime recites it for her, but in his head, he’s already conjuring up the very face Tooru is bound to make when he finds out what Hajime got him. And when he realizes Hajime wins the title of the best present ever.
Hajime stops, trying to place where exactly he’s heard that voice, even as he turns.
His jaw drops.
She’s barely recognizable with her short pastel pink hair, dressed in a simple white tee and dark navy jeans, a jacket slung over one shoulder and a messenger bag over the other.
“Huh? Oh.” A hand reaches up to finger at a strand nervously. “I got it dyed? And cut?”
“Yeah, I can see that,” Hajime says, still taking it in.
Shimura rolls her eyes, but visibly relaxes. “Still as sarcastic as always, I see.”
He walks forward and raises his fist, grinning. “Don’t act like you weren’t just as bad.”
“I was an angel,” she says, straight-faced, and bumps his fist with hers.
He snorts. “Where’re you headed?”
“Dinner. Delicious donburi down the street,” she says, and they start walking. “Where’s Oikawa?”
Hajime shoots her look. There was something about that question that settled thick in his ears. “Tokyo, on a sports scholarship. Volleyball, as you might’ve guessed, still as obnoxious and awful and petty and loud as you remember,” he says at length, and there’s an unspoken apology in there, for the lack of contact over the last year.
“Good.” Shimura smiles and he knows she gets it.
They’ve entered the shop, a busy, warm little place, and the waiter points them to a table in the back. They squeeze past the other patrons, conversation paused. Hajime sits down, turning to sling his bag on the back of his chair and when he turns back around, Shimura is waving at the waiter, signaling for their food and he guesses she’s a regular, because the waiter just smiles and disappears behind the kitchen doors.
“What have you been up to?” he asks, and Shimura lights up, excitedly filling him in on her life. Architecture, she says, is so fucking hard and she loves it. She got lucky and scored herself an internship this year. It helps that her mom is already in the industry.
Hajime listens, honestly glad to see an old friend doing well. He can’t help but think about how Tooru would’ve burst into tears the moment he saw Shimura, their staunch supporter in the volleyball stands. She was so embarrassing, he remembers, shouting louder than anyone there and decked out in full cheering gear. There was a time they scored five consecutive points off Shiratorizawa and she got both feet on the railing and screamed “suck it!” just as the teachers hauled her off before she could fall.
Tooru soaked up her enthusiasm like red bull. Hajime almost feels his palms sweating again; drove him nuts trying to keep them from creating trouble he couldn’t get them out of.
There’s an uncertain pause and then she says, tentatively, “So…you’re here in Yokohama and…not next to Oikawa, pulling on his ear and nagging.”
Her chin rests in her hand, head tilted towards the side and scanning over the shop. It’s an undemanding posture and Hajime blinks once, twice, when he realizes she’s giving him an out, acting like the statement was just idle filler.
Why would she…?
In his head, the voice goes, oh no.
Quietly, like the first trickle of water through a dam, Hajime says, “Shimura?”
“We don’t have to, if you don’t want to. I was just curious, I’d thought it’d be good by now,” she says quickly, tapping a finger on the table. “Let’s talk about school, or something. How’s your mom?”
“She’s great?” Hajime answers, a little helplessly. What is this, they’re in a restaurant, why is it so weird all of a sudden. What about architecture? “What do you mean?”
The clink of cups and bowls, the sizzling food in the back and the loud conversations up front rise and ebb around them. They’re surrounded by faded cream walls on one side and bustling waiters on the other, and in front of him, Shimura leans back in her seat, fixing him with a familiar look.
It’s the same one Matsukawa and Hanamaki give him sometimes. Like the one Mom and Dad exchange over his head, like his teachers and his clubmates, the same look he’s seen over the years and yet he could never fucking figure out what it meant.
“You and Oikawa,” she says. “You and Oikawa, just—Hajime-and-Tooru and nothing else.”
The food arrives, steaming and smelling absolutely delicious. Hajime mechanically says his thanks and picks up his chopsticks, watching Shimura do the same, her eyes averted.
She eats, Hajime tries to.
“The first time I met you two, I was twelve and new to the neighbourhood—you remember.” She glances up at him, and he’d say she almost looked worried. “I was looking for friends, and the moment I saw you two I thought ‘not them.’”
“Oh,” Hajime says, and chews his food. It tastes good, but he can’t swallow. He doesn’t even know what she ordered for them and he doesn’t look down to check. His eyes haven’t moved from the spot above Shimura’s head since they started this conversation.
“I don’t mean it like that.” She lets out a small breath. “It’s just…you guys…were obviously the best of friends. I thought it best not to consider even saying hi, like it would feel like I’d gone and defaced a temple with a Sharpie. I barely had to even think about it—like it was just a foregone conclusion, and all those other kids milling around apparently thought the same because no one even tried to get close.”
Hajime raises his cup of tea to his mouth. Drinks. The liquid does little to force the food down.
“And I still thought that. Even after we became friends. All three years of junior high and in between the shit we got up to, I felt like I was watching two planets circle each other, felt like I was just a witness for something and Iwai—Iwaizumi, do you get what I’m saying?” Shimura asks, a little desperately, rice stuck to her chin.
Rice stuck t—
—o her chin, she shows him her phone and
“You guys aren’t listeniiiiiingggg,” Tooru whines—
“—the first to get a girlfriend.” Shimura says, picking at a scab on her arm.
Hajime blinks. “Oh. Right.” He hadn’t realized—
hadn’t realized, he blinks
and Shimura gives him a strange, strange look—
—Tooru cries and Hajime hides a smile behind his chopsticks
Shimura flicks a smirk his way. He doesn’t know why
he doesn’t know why
but he scowls, and she
only grins wider—
“—Daaad?? Can Tooru sleep over again??”
“Hajime, it’s been four days, aren’t you tired of each other?”
“No! Why’d’ja say that, Tooru gonna cry now, Daaad—”
“—since we met, you and Oikawa have acted like you’ve been married—”
— comes home without Tooru and his parents act like someone’s died
he’s standing at Tooru’s locker. He feels silly and it pisses him off
like he’s waiting for his crush—
“—Oh! Iwaizumi-kun, where’s Oikawa?” his Japanese teacher asks
and she glances to his side
like there should be something
—Tooru’s mouth at his neck and his fingers on Hajime’s thigh, saying “Three more”
“The ones that haven’t happened yet”
“—perfect fit for a shitty guy like you, huh?”
“Do you get what I’m saying?” Shimura asks.
“Fuck,” Hajime says, right as a waiter trips and splashes soup all over him.
[May 15, 9:05 pm] Shimura: We should do that again lol
[May 15, 9:05 pm] Hajime: fck off
[May 15, 9:05 pm] Shimura: Lol
[May 15, 9:06 pm] Shimura: Are you okay though
[May 15, 9:06 pm] Shimura: You were really shocked
[May 15, 9:06 pm] Shimura: I didn’t think you’d be that shocked like I thought you knew
[May 15, 9:06 pm] Hajime: no i fckn didnt how was I sppsd to knw
[May 15, 9:06 pm] Shimura: …Well I don’t know Iwaizumi maybe because they’re your own feelings
[May 15, 9:07 pm] Hajime: dnt call them tht
[May 15, 9:07 pm] Shimura: Feelings??
[May 15, 9:07 pm] Shimura: You’re a child
[May 15, 9:08 pm] Hajime: & an idiot apparntly
[May 15, 9:08 pm] Shimura: Are you going to tell him
[May 15, 9:11 pm] Shimura: Iwaizumi?
Hajime lets his screen go black and slumps down until his head hits the chair, the soft fabric of his hoodie sliding up his back.
Papers and textbooks lay scattered over the surface of his desk, granola bar wrappers in the trash and crumbs sprinkled in his lap. His laptop displays a problem set that he’s been stuck on for an hour now, only a third of it done. Through the window, the sun has finally set, and the rich purples give way to black. Clouds streak across the sky, like someone had covered their fingers in oil pastels and dragged them over the night. Down in the breezeway, stragglers make their way to the dorms, backs bent and rubbing at their eyes. Hajime watches them, chin resting on his chest and arms hanging limply over the armrests, swiveling side to side.
A loud slap, pages of a book clapped shut and thrown on the covers.
“Iwa-chan, you know I can’t concentrate when you do that. The chair squeaks.”
Hajime rolls his head to the side, squints over at Tooru stretched out on Hajime’s bed. His hair is all mussed and there are pillow marks on his cheek. His face is tipped up towards Hajime, and at this angle, his jaw looks just a bit sharper and his lashes longer. Hajime vows never to tell him that because what would follow would be a million requests to take his selfies for him.
“You weren’t even studying, Oikawa, don’t play.” Hajime mumbles, lids heavy. It’s late, he should get the futon out if Tooru’s staying.
Tooru keeps the charade up for another second, flicking pointedly at the book’s pages, and then sighs, falling back onto the bed, tucking his fingers back into the sleeves of Hajime’s hoodie.
“What time is it?” he asks softly.
“Late,” Hajime replies.
“Mmn…” Tooru yawns and flaps a hand at Hajime. “Come to bed.”
Tooru just sends him a look and then breaks into another yawn. “Bed, Iwa-chan.” He looks…adorably rumpled, huddled under the covers and fingers peeking out of the sleeves, wiggling demandingly. He doesn’t even have his eyes open anymore.
Hajime blinks and is left staring at an empty bed, covers folded and sheets straightened.
A clang down in the courtyard; racoons in the trash, again. Hajime sits up, the creaking of the chair filling in the silence.
He turns his phone on, unlocks it.
[9:18 pm] Hajime: i’ll thnk abt it
When he wakes up, it’s Saturday and there are screams and ominous thuds coming from outside his door. He rolls over and hopes it isn’t Daisuke from 207 setting the dryer on fire again. The RA chewed all of them out last time. He’s out of luck, though, judging from the increase in noises and frantic footsteps.
Sure enough, not a second later the door shakes under thunderous knocks and a desperate voice calls out, “Iwaizumi-san, I’m so sorry but please wake up! We need your help!”
Hajime growls low and annoyed but throws the covers off and grabs his phone and keys, slipping on his sneakers by the door. He doesn’t bother with a shirt; it’d just get dirty if this is what he thinks it’s about.
Throwing open the door, he scrubs at his face and says, “I’m not the RA, you know, you should really call him instead.”
The person—Serizawa, if Hajime remembers correctly—rubs restlessly at his wrists. “We did call him. He’s there right now, but he told us to go get you.”
Hajime shoots a quick, exasperated look at the ceiling and steps out into the hallway, closing the door behind him. “Right. He is kind of useless.”
Serizawa laughs uncertainly, jumping in place when Hajime gestures for him to lead the way.
“Daisuke-san broke the washer, this time,” Serizawa says unprompted, like he’s reporting to a superior, and Iwaizumi tries not to feel like he’s listening to Kindaichi; this guy’s the same age as Hajime, after all. “Betting pool went to his best friend, who predicted it with unerring accuracy. He’s denying all accusations that they staged it with the excuse that being his friend for all his life gave him this one perk in exchange for all the shit he puts up with. Apparently he used to do Daisuke’s laundry. And dishes. And cooking. And cleaning. And—”
“Alright, alright, I get the picture,” Hajime laughs. “Sounds more like his mom than his best friend.”
Serizawa makes an agreeing noise and pushes the laundry room door open.
Immediately, Hajime’s feet are assaulted with water and bubbles. His ears register panicked voices all yelling variations of “Daisuke, you fucker, are you kidding me?!” The guy’s best friend is the only one who’s sitting on a dryer laughing his ass off. Everyone is crouched on top of the machines, making vicious arm gestures at the culprit who—Hajime squints—is focused on his own hands like they’re covered in blood and not the soap that’s actually there.
The RA is just standing by the window, staring out of it like he’s regretting everything that led him to this moment.
Hajime claps once, booming and commanding, and everyone shuts up and looks up. Nice. He’s still got the vice-captain effect.
The RA turns to him, slow and grieving, what the fuck, and says, “I called the technicians.”
Hajime raises an eyebrow. “So, what do you need me for?”
The RA turns again, clasping his hands behind his back. Hajime inwardly despairs, he bets the girls’ dorms aren’t nearly as dramatic as this. “I’m running on negative sleep and the beer I had two days ago. I can’t deal with these—” he waves a hand at the crouching people— “things. You’re the only one with his head on straight on this entire damn floor.”
Hajime puts a hand over his mouth. Breathes in deep.
Then he turns to Serizawa. “Get the RA to his room, he’s probably not moving from there because if he does, he’ll drop dead.”
Serizawa nods and crosses the room to grab zombie RA by the elbow. Hajime very carefully does not look at that crazed-eyed stare as they pass by him.
To the rest of the room, he channels all eighteen years of experience dealing with Tooru and says, “Buckets and mops in the cupboard by the door. Grab ‘em and start cleaning from outside in, don’t spread the mess around. No, I don’t care if it’s Daisuke’s goddamn fault,” he adds, when one of them bristles, “you’re all at the scene of the crime, so as far as I’m concerned, every one of you shitheads had a hand in it.
“Get to it.” He frowns, and they all scramble to the floor, slipping around on the wetness. His hands fall from their unconscious position on his hips, and he moves to get supplies too, already thinking of which part of the room to take over.
When about two-thirds of the floor has been mopped clean, his ringtone calls out, muffled in the fabric of his shorts and he leans his mop against a dryer, fishing his phone out.
dnt fckn answer would like to facetime…
He glances up and one guy jerks his head at him. “Oikawa, innit?”
Hajime nods, hesitant. He doesn’t even know who this guy is.
He gets a considering nod back and the guy goes back to cleaning. Hajime walks out the room, vaguely confused, as he hits the accept button.
“Iwa-chan, h—what are you doing.” Tooru’s voice goes from annoyingly sweet to a disapproving flatness fast enough to give Hajime whiplash.
Hajime looks at himself through the icon in the corner, eyebrows furrowed. He’s…standing in front of the door, covered in the mess he just cleaned and there’s a bubble on his bare shoulder?
He looks back at Tooru’s pixelated face and brushes his hair back, puzzled. “I was helping clean up the laundry room; some idiot broke the washer.”
From behind the closed door, Daisuke yells, “Fuck you, Iwaizumi!”
Hajime rolls his eyes.
Surprisingly, Tooru tenses up further the moment Daisuke’s voice reaches him. “That’s all you’re doing? Cleaning? With him?”
Hajime scratches at the back of his neck, still confused as fuck. What’s happening here? “Uh, yeah? There’s like six other dudes though, it’s a big mess.”
Tooru narrows his eyes until they barely show up as slits through the screen. “Show me.”
Baffled, Hajime blinks rapidly and obligingly flips the camera and opens the door, panning from wall to wall. A couple of the guys give a wave and in the corner, one of them sticks his upper body into a dryer. Hajime retreats back into the hallway.
“Don’t tell me you called just to ask me what I’m doing,” Hajime says once he’s turned the camera.
Tooru looks much more relaxed now, the weirdo, and arches an eyebrow. “Isn’t that what people use facetime for, Iwa-chan?”
“Yeah, but not you. Facetime is for when you want something and think puppy-eyes will help you get it more than fifty emoji-laden texts will,” Hajime says, deadpan.
“I would never,” Tooru replies, just as expressionlessly.
A beat, and then they both grin, breaking the stare-off.
“No, but seriously, Iwa-chan, I just wanted to check in with you,” Tooru says, and his camera shakes as he leans it against something, settling back in his futon, on his stomach and propped up on his arms.
Hajime makes a quiet noise in his throat, faint memories of the time he spent in that exact futon playing in his mind, and his body aches with it. He breathes out, casting the images away and pulling up the week’s events instead.
“Ah.” He straightens. “You won’t believe who I ran into yesterday.”
“Who?” Tooru tilts his head to the side, cheek smushed against a shoulder. The neck of his shirt falls past it and on closer inspection, Hajime realizes that’s his fucking shirt.
“Shimura.” He grins. “She recognized me, actually. You wouldn’t know it was her with the pink hair and all—”
Tooru holds up a hand, leaning in excitedly. “Wait—Micchan? You saw Micc—she has pink hair???”
Hajime nods. “Yup, cut it short too.”
“What!” Tooru slaps his hands repeatedly on the futon, like a baby seal, and Hajime feels warmth bubble in his chest. He knew Tooru would be excited. “Did you get pictures? Iwa-chan, tell me you got pictures.”
“I did; I’m posting it later.”
Tooru flops down onto his arms, and like this, Hajime can clearly see the mess Tooru calls his ‘sexy bedhead.’ The dumbass probably called him first thing after waking up. Hajime’s grin softens.
“You better, I wanna see how pretty Micchan got,” Tooru mumbles into the crook of his arm, still drowsy.
“Really pretty, trust me,” Hajime says, staring at Tooru and the pillow lines on his cheeks.
Tooru stills, and it’s not all that clear through the screen, but that is most definitely a fake smile on his lips where there was previously a genuine expression. Hajime gets figurative whiplash again, looking at it.
“…Oh?” Tooru says, distant. “She must have a boyfriend, then, if she’s that pretty.”
Hajime’s still staring, perplexed, at the downturn in attitude. “No? She didn’t mention one when I asked.”
“You asked if she was single?” Tooru says, and it’s accusing. Hajime’s heartbeat picks up suddenly but his brain fails to see what’s got his instincts all wired up.
“I…guess?” Hajime doesn’t know, he just asked what she’s been up to, but maybe that counts as asking if she was in a relationship?
Tooru stares at him, and Hajime’s built-in translator goes, incredulous, betrayed, angry.
But Hajime’s conscious mind can’t process the input, lagging behind with the data and it results in him gaping at his phone when Tooru mutters something that sounds like “Unbelievable,” and hangs up.
What the actual fuck?
The door cracks open and Daisuke’s friend pokes his head out. Hajime turns to him, a litany of question marks still floating in his head. The guy looks up at him and goes, “Hey, do you know how to get a 156-pound guy out of a dryer?”
Hajime almost chucks his phone at him. Almost.
After that disaster of a phone call, Tooru doesn’t respond to calls or texts for weeks.
[May 18, 2:06 pm] Hajime: shittykawa y rnt u ansring me
[May 20, 10:13 am] Hajime: oikawa srsly wtf is up???
[May 23, 5:56 pm] Hajime: oikawa what’s going on? are you okay? if you don’t answer i’m coming over there
[May 27, 11:39 pm] dnt fckn answer: ehhh you’re not my mom iwa-chaaan
[May 27, 11:40 pm] Hajime: fucking finally
[May 27, 11:41 pm] Hajime: is something wrong? talk to me
[May 27, 11:54 pm] dnt fckn answer: it’s nothing!!! I just got sick that’s all
[May 27, 11:54 pm] Hajime: u fckn idiot
[May 27, 11:56 pm] Hajime: take bttr care of urself made me worry
[May 27, 12:32 pm] dnt fckn answer: ok
And then nothing after that.
Wrongly thinking all was fine, Hajime throws himself into his studies for the exams before summer lets out and slowly forgets to pay attention to fact that his phone stops blowing up with texts. Refuses to look too closely to the fact that June 10th passes and not even a simple "happy birthdayyy (ﾉ´ヮ`)ﾉ*: ･ﾟ" shows up.
He dismisses the feeling of wrong with the reasoning that Tooru’s probably gearing up for his own finals, and various volleyball matches. Though it kind of bothers him that he doesn’t know who the matches are against. Tooru’s always made it a point to keep him updated.
And then he gets a call from Hanamaki.
Hajime’s university isn’t big enough to have a volleyball team, but it’s a sports science-oriented school so there’s enough people who played the sport in senior or even junior high. The games are casual, more of a joint workout than anything competitive but it still leaves Hajime’s volleyball thirst satisfied.
He’s at one such game, between sets, when his phone rings from the bench.
He signals to the guys to give him a minute before they start again, and runs over to scoop the phone up and press it to his ear.
“Hello?” he asks breathlessly.
“Hello~ Hajime-chan, tell your mom what you’ve been up to!” a false falsetto voice demands.
“Fuck you, dude.” Hajime lets his shoulders drop and refuses to acknowledge the disappointment swirling in his gut.
Hanamaki snorts loudly, grossly and Hajime moves the phone away, grimacing. “Oh, I see how it is. Only Issei gets nice treatment from you.”
“Well, he isn’t nearly as bad as you and Crappykawa,” Hajime says, rubbing a finger on the patch of flaking paint on the wall. It falls away under his touch.
“You say that like half of the detentions we got weren’t because of you.”
“They weren’t. Witnesses can attest to that,” Hajime says innocently.
“I’ll get you one day, I swear to god.”
“You’ll die with regrets, then.”
Hanamaki growls. “Don’t fucking place a curse on me, man.”
“What did you really call me for?” Hajime continues chipping away at the paint with a nail.
Hanamaki sighs, but dutifully gets to the point. “Just wondering if you’re coming back home in July for Tooru’s thing.”
“Of course I am.” His finger pauses in it’s slow demolition of the wall. “Why wouldn’t I?”
Hanamaki doesn’t reply immediately, and the phone buzzes quietly with static in Hajime’s ear. And then Hanamaki lets out a steady breath.
“Well…I figured that, what with the whole—new person, thing. That. You wouldn’t feel, uh, up to it. So.”
Hajime’s lost. He moves the phone away to stare at it, like he’ll see the battery popped out or something because he’s not understanding a single thing Hanamaki is saying.
“Are you high?” he whispers into the mic, shooting glances at the guys on the court.
“Wh—no? Why would you ask that?” Hanamaki whispers back.
“Because you make no sense to me right now,” Hajime hisses.
“Oh my god,” Hanamaki says, hollowly. “Oh my god.”
Hajime waits, but Hanamaki is not forthcoming with his words.
“Holy shit,” he says, in a horrified sort of voice only reserved for that one time they watched a dog get brutally murdered in a thriller movie. “You have no idea.”
“He didn’t tell you,” Hanamaki continues, sounding far away.
“Who didn’t tell me what,” Hajime says, annoyed.
“This is going to end so. Badly.” Hanamaki whimpers.
“You’re gonna end badly if you don’t fucking tell me what you’re babbling about right now,” Hajime threatens.
“Issei told me that you and Oikawa aren’t talking,” Hanamaki says urgently. “That true?”
Hajime frowns. “Uh, I guess? Been busy with exams.”
Hanamaki makes a disbelieving noise. “Right. Like that’s stopped Oikawa from talking your ear off before.”
“Okay, but what has this got to do with going back to Miyagi and the thing I apparently don’t know,” Hajime says, holding up a hand when one of his teammates jerks his head to the court.
“You did this last time, remember?” Hanamaki says, unhelpful and vague like a math teacher trying to explain a test question without giving away the answer.
“I literally have no idea what you’re saying,” Hajime says flatly.
“The time with Ito? You guys were all…weird after Tooru got together with her?” Hanamaki hints. "It's happening again? Maybe, possibly, quite likely?"
Hajime just stays quiet, hoping the lack of an answer sufficiently communicates how fucking confused he is. When the silence stretches out awkwardly, Hanamaki lets out a tortured gurgle and yells explosively, “Oikawa’s got a boyfriend!”
“Hm,” Hajime says.
“‘Hm?!’ That’s it? Just a ‘hm’???” Hanamaki says, dumbfounded. “Are you feeling okay? No, nevermind, that’s a stupid question, don’t answer that.”
“I feel fine,” Hajime says. “Look, I still don’t get how any of this fits together, but I’ll be there for the party. And tell Oikawa congrats for me; idiot is still missing my calls. Hope they actually stay together this time.”
“Wha—you hope th—?” Hanamaki cuts off with a strangled noise.
“Anyways, thanks for calling. Gotta get back to the game, the guys are giving me looks. Talk to you later,” Hajime says, and hangs up.
The late June heat sticks uncomfortably to the sweat on his skin. Hajime bends down, grabs his water bottle, takes three big gulps and dumps the rest of it over his head.
“Iwaizumi, you good?” one guy shouts across the gym, spinning a volleyball in his hand. Everyone is waiting on the court, in position and grinning over their shoulders at him. He exhales slowly, and steps over the white line.
“Yeah, I’m good.”
Exams end and Hajime goes back to Miyagi.
Back to his home, where his parents scoop him up into tight hugs and squish his cheeks, bemoaning the loss of his “babyfat.” Where Coach Irihata greets him with a critical once-over and deems him still fit enough to play games with the new Seijou volleyball team.
Back to his neighbourhood with its loud aunties and friendly corner stores. Back to his familiar backyard, with the forest that beckons him from beyond the fence. He looks out at it from the back porch, squatting by the stairs with a juice box in his hand, track pants rolled up to his calves and sleeves bunched around his armpits.
In that corner there, Tooru had stepped on a beetle and screamed so loud the neighbours came running with a rake to fend off a supposed kidnapper.
By the footpath to the gate, Hajime’s dad found them arguing over who would be the one to tell their parents they’d lost their lunchboxes out in the forest again.
A nick on the fence: Tooru had tripped and bashed his head on it and there’d been so much blood Hajime had prematurely declared Tooru dead and started asking what his last wishes were through a stream of tears. It’s pretty funny now, but Hajime still remembers the visceral feeling of loss and fear so well. Tooru was left with a scar right where his hair and forehead meet.
A little further into the copse of trees and Hajime can just make out the slashes on the tree trunks, the ones they had to carve into the bark to find their way home, before they’d gotten comfortable enough with the winding paths and the tricky ways the forest disguised itself.
He sits there, crouched, until darkness settles over the place and paints the trees into something Hajime hadn’t ever been brave enough to venture into without Tooru.
The juice box goes into the recycling, and he steps through the door.
“Ah! Seijou’s ace!”
Hajime looks up from his phone and finds Karasuno’s number ten pointing a confident finger at him. Kageyama is there, too, a hand rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“I’m not Seijou’s anymore, uh…Hinata, was it?” Hajime says.
“Oh, right, forgot, eheheh.” Hinata rubs sheepishly at his head.
“Iwaizumi-senpai, it’s been a while,” Kageyama says, executing proper social customs for once, Hajime’s surprised to see.
Hajime nods back. “Mm, what are you two up to?”
“We just had a practice match with your—I mean, Seijou,” Kageyama says.
Ah, explains why he bumped into them on the way to Tooru’s party.
“Hey, hey, how’s the volleyball in university?” Hinata jumps in place and Hajime thinks, it's like the laws of physics don't even apply to him, he's fucking floating. “It’s even harder, isn’t it? I bet you guys are improving so much. Well, just wait ‘til we—”
“ANYWAY,” Kageyama says, which almost makes Hajime burst out laughing. “We’re grateful that we get practice matches every week with one of the strongest schools in the prefecture and we will not ruin that chance like Captain Ennoshita said.” The last part is hissed at his orange-haired companion, who just sticks his tongue out in response.
Hajime stuffs his hands in his pockets, grinning good-naturedly. “Relax, even if you somehow did offend me, it’s not like I have any say in what Coach does. Not like I ever did.”
Kageyama still looks dubious, which just says a whole lot about what he thinks of Hajime. It’s cute, just a little.
Hinata’s been looking between them, eyes flicking rapidly and he gets this look on his face when Kageyama stops paying attention to him. It’s oddly familiar, and Hajime braces himself, instinctively.
Again, the shrimp jumps, situating himself in front of Kageyama a bit. “Quick question! I’m totally not gathering intel like Sneakyshima told me to, but who was that tall blonde guy we saw with the Grand King during practice? Is he a new middle blocker? Are—”
Kageyama whaps Hinata on the head.
“Dumbass Hinata, that was Sado-san.” Hinata makes a confused face. “You know. Sado Kenichi? Oikawa-senpai’s, uh, boyfriend?”
He brought him to a volleyball practice match? He’s never done that with any of them ever, Hajime thinks. Also, why do these things always have a way of reaching me when I don't even ask for them.
“Sado, huh?” he says, and hopes he doesn’t sound too bitter.
“Wait, you didn’t know? Aren’t you two at the same school?” Hinata blinks up at him, and the brown of his eyes are just a shade too light to be familiar, but Hajime flinches anyway.
Kageyama jerks forward, grabbing at the back of Hinata’s jersey collar. “Hinata, shut up, I told you this already.”
He shoots a contrite glance at Hajime, and Hajime is tempted to check if the mountains are crumbling because he’s pretty sure Kageyama just read social cues correctly.
“No, I’m in Yokohama and he’s in Tokyo,” Hajime says. “We decided we needed to branch out.”
“—you’re going where?
...Okay…if that’s what you want, Iwa-chan.”
Hinata scrunches up his nose, cupping his chin with a thumb and finger. “Awww, that’s too bad. You guys were so cool together.”
Kageyama tilts his head up to the sky. “Hinata, no—”
And to Hinata, that apparently means “yes” because he just keeps going, completely ignoring the way Kageyama shakes him around by the collar like some misbehaving dog.
“Captain told me and Kageyama—”
“Sawamura-senpai isn’t our captain, anymore—”
“He’s always going to be captain, shut up, Tobio—” Kageyama splutters incoherently, red as a brick— “anyway, Captain told us that every time we fought, we were just wasting time that we could be using to aim for what you and the Grand King had.”
Hinata stares up at him, and there’s a vaguely creepy look in his eyes, now. “He told us, that if there was anyone we should aim to beat, it’d be you two.”
Hajime cocks his head, considering. Kageyama mouths “Hinata, oh my God” to a tree across the street.
“What about all those top five Japan players or something. Shouldn’t you be trying to beat them?” he asks.
At his comment, Kageyama turns to look down at Hinata, and Hinata tilts his chin up to look back at his teammate. And then, as one, they face Hajime, expressions sincere. And also kind of creepy.
“Well, yeah, that’s a given too.” Kageyama says, and Hajime thinks the thing Kageyama really learned from Tooru was the overconfident shittiness. “And sure we’ll get them, but as a team with all the other players, sometime in the future. Like we did with Ushijima-san.”
Hinata picks off where Kageyama stopped, and it’s familiar in a way Hajime can’t place. “But what we’re talking about now is who’s the better duo. You and the Grand King, or us.”
“…The better duo, huh,” Hajime says, numbly.
Okay, well. Suffice to say that the dinner is fucking awkward.
It’s okay at first. He arrives to find that Tooru and Sado aren’t there yet and it does wonders on his anxiety. He could just pretend to be engrossed in conversation with someone when they come. And apparently, he’s been pretty obvious the past few years, because with unspoken agreement, the seats are arranged so that Hajime is at the farthest end from the two latecomers, situated between Matsukawa and Watari.
Hajime kind of loves his friends.
And indeed, by the time Tooru and Sado walk in, Hajime is too deep in discussion with Watari about Karasuno’s libero to do anything beyond wave a vague hand in their direction and join in on the calls of “happy birthday.”
Watari doesn’t even pause in his sentence, just keeps the conversation going smoothly like a good kouhai.
It still doesn’t stop him from noticing the lovesick smile on Tooru’s face, and how his hands are interlaced with Sado’s. The little green monster sitting on Hajime’s shoulder gleefully tightens its grip on his throat.
“So I’m just sitting there listening to my cousin wax poetic about another libero’s skills,” Watari bemoans to Hajime, “when I was the one who taught her everything she knows!”
Hajime hums, popping another piece of tofu in his mouth. “Didn’t Nishinoya get the idea to set from the back line from you, too? After that match we had?”
Watari groans, “Ugh, don’t remind me, senpai. I don’t know whether to feel flattered or angry.”
“Go with flattered. Trust me, it’s a much better look,” Hajime says. They both turn to look at Tooru, thinking the same thing.
“I think he doesn’t mind nearly as much, now,” Watari says, and Hajime raises a brow. “Wasn’t much jeering from the sidelines at our match with Karasuno today.”
Across the table, Tooru’s holding court, a cup of something—that better not be strong liquor—in his hand. Hanamaki, Matsukawa, and Yahaba haven’t stopped talking to him and Sado since they got here, and Hajime just knows it’s because they’re trying to distract Tooru.
But Hajime kind of knows it’s useless anyways. Tooru wouldn’t be the setter he is, if he lacked sharp observational skills.
But it says a lot that he goes along with it, and hasn’t called out ‘Iwa-chaaan’ at all. Or demanded a present from him when everyone else gave one.
Not like he could really give the gift, now.
Yahaba says something, probably a dig at Tooru’s teaching and Tooru reaches over and messes up his kouhai’s hair, laughing, and there’s seaweed in his teeth but god Hajime wants to scream to the world right then and there that he’s so beautiful.
He’s so beautiful and he’s not mine.
He’s so beautiful and why that guy of all people.
He’s so beautiful and—
Sado buries his nose in Tooru’s hair and smiles, adoring. Tooru leans into him.
—he looks happy.
It’s that last one. That last thought that falls from his head and sits heavy on his chest, that forces him to lean back in his seat and breathe. The angry churning in his veins stops. Starts up again, but in reverse, and he blinks. The lines of his surroundings sharpen and slow and now he sees: Sado’s entire body curved around Tooru, accommodating and gentle. The easy give and take between them when Sado moves his arm so Tooru can lean out to stick his tongue at Kunimi. Feeding each other little bits of their food, exchanging smiles and teasing looks. It’s. Different.
In all of Tooru’s relationships, Hajime’s never seen one that looks as easy as this. As happy. So yeah, they’re completely gross with their affection and even Watari looks tired of the giggling but. Tooru’s happy.
And Hajime might be so desperately, achingly jealous and heartbroken, but he’s not an ass.
If they’re…If this is what Tooru wants. Then. Then Hajime is just going to have to grow up and shut up. He’s going to stop thinking about it and start acting like none of this bothers him in the slightest. He’s going to pretend like the best of them. All that time spent watching Tooru do it should count for something, after all.
The world resumes normal speed and sounds filter back into his ears, the smell of his soup wafts into his nose and the heaviness on his chest is still there but now he knows what he has to do.
Matsukawa makes a dirty comment and Hajime obligingly grins, knocking his shoulder into Matsukawa’s with just the perfect amount of roughness and good-natured teasing.
“Is that what you said to Hanamaki last night?” he says, and Hanamaki goes bright red, spluttering. Kyoutani chokes on his octopus and smacks Yahaba until he pushes a drink into Kyoutani’s hand. Matsukawa gets Hajime in a headlock, growling and he laughs, finding it easier to fake than he thought. Kunimi stops staring at him worriedly, though, and Kindaichi finally lets himself look up from the can of coke in his hand, grinning hesitantly. The tension’s gone, blown away by more dirty jokes and Hajime ignores Tooru’s stare in favour of joining in on the teasing.
For the rest of the dinner, no one looks at him twice. It’s a hollow success.
Hajime hangs out with everyone exactly one more time after that.
It went well, he’d like to think. Sado was a perfectly nice guy, who stuck to and doted on Tooru the entire time. Paid for all his food, the random things he wanted, and was sincerely interested in the things everyone had to say. If Hajime was being honest, he was kind of grateful Sado took up all the attention, replying to any and all the stuff being discussed, eliciting mock-groans whenever he nuzzled Tooru and held his hands and—yeah. Whatever.
It let Hajime fade into the background.
But four days after the dinner, not even a week since school let out, Hajime finds himself throwing his charger and toothbrush back into his bag.
“Going back so soon, son?” a voice says behind him.
He turns, guiltily folding a hoodie in his hands. “Dad.”
Leaning on the doorway, his dad pops a slice of orange in his mouth and chews, eyes sweeping over the made bed and barely used room. They land on his duffel, already zipped shut. He steps through the door and offers Hajime a slice before dumping himself into the desk chair.
“It’s not that I don’t miss you guys,” Hajime says, “I do. I’m glad you guys are doing well, and I want to spend more time here but—”
He bites his lip. Looks down at the hoodie in his hands, there’s a loose thread at the hem and he picks at it.
“It’s alright,” Dad says, and he spins around in the chair. “You don’t have to explain anything to me.”
“I want to, though,” Hajime says quietly. “I want to tell you, because I don’t…I can’t, with my friends, they’re already…”
He sits down on his bed, unfolding the hoodie in his lap and flipping the hem up. His dad passes him another orange slice and Hajime takes it, bites into it and lets the taste of it smooth over his parched throat. Dad finishes the last of the orange and wipes his hands on his pants. “Does this have anything to do with Tooru and his boyfriend?”
Hajime makes an affirmative noise, trying to swallow down the lump of fruit.
“Hm.” Dad scoots forward on the chair until he’s got both feet on the frame of Hajime’s bed, arms braced on his knees. “I’m just going to make some statements; nod if you agree, shake if you don’t. Okay?”
Hajime nods, eyes stinging. His teeth stop grinding, now that he knows he doesn’t have to talk.
“You don’t like Tooru’s boyfriend,” is the first one.
Hajime shakes his head.
Dad’s eyebrows rise slightly, but he continues. “You don’t like Tooru…having a boyfriend.”
Hajime hesitates, then nods.
“You didn’t like Tooru having all those girlfriends, either.”
Dad rubs a hand over his chin, and it makes a scratching noise against his stubble. Mom’s always telling him to shave it often because it grows back too fast. Hajime wonders if his will do the same.
“You like Tooru,” Dad says softly, and then corrects himself with a contemplative tilt of his head. “No—love. You love him.”
The relief that flies through Hajime when he nods almost makes his hands shake, but he tightens them in soft blue fabric.
“…You don’t think I’m reading too much into this?” Hajime croaks out. “Or that it’s…weird?”
“Well. I mean, you did spend your entire life with the boy, I think you’d know best.” His dad scratches at an itch in his calf and continues lightly, “And if I did have a problem with it, I had eighteen years to get over it.”
Hajime looks at his dad from the corner of his eye, curious, and Dad grins back at him.
“I suspected it when all it took for Tooru to cry was taking you out of the room, and I knew for sure the day you came home from your first day of kindergarten and declared that you didn’t like anyone there because they called Tooru noisy.”
Hajime groans, red dotting his cheeks. “Dad, seriously?”
His dad just shrugs unrepentantly, chuckling and Hajime turns away, hiding his smile in his palm. From outside his window comes the indistinct chatter of his neighbours, their kids running to the park, and if he listens closely, he can just make out the radio playing J-pop from old man Teuchi’s shop. He really does wish he could stomach staying longer. But everything reminds him of Tooru too much.
A cough interrupts his thoughts and then Dad says, “It’s going to be okay.”
It takes a second but Hajime realizes it’s both his dad trying to offer comfort in that awkward way of his, and a continuation of the thing they were doing. He flexes his toes against the floor, thinking.
The thread in his hoodie unravels when he pulls on it. He knows there aren’t any scissors in his room, so he holds down the thread at the base with one hand and wraps the rest of it around the fingers of his other. It bites into his flesh, blood squeezing out under the pressure and leaving white skin behind. He grips tight and rips his hand away, snapping the thread in half and sending it fluttering to the ground.
His mom is sad to see him go, but a touch of his dad’s hand and she gets that understanding glint in her eyes. Hajime still doesn’t get how they do that. She sends him off with a hurriedly-packed care package and at 5pm Hajime is on his way back to his dorm in Yokohama, watching the horizon blur beyond the train window. It’s nine when he steps out of the station, but there’s still a hint of sunlight in the sky and a mild breeze brushes through his hair, playfully lifting the edges of his clothes.
The university dorm is another forty-five-minute bus ride away, and Hajime spends most of it dozing off intermittently, head lolling against the window and drooling. There’s just something about bus rides that always makes him sleepy. His stop is announced and Hajime gets off, setting his bag by the bench to stretch, yawning. His phone vibrates in his jacket and he takes it out, unlocking it.
[July 24, 10:12 pm] eyes: heard you left, didn’t even say bye you ass, after all we did for you. Turnip head is going to cry, you know
[July 24, 10:12 pm] eyes: okay but serious now. Are you gonna be alright
Hajime taps a finger on his thigh, tongue smoothing over his teeth.
[July 24, 10:12 pm] Hajime: srry, had 2 get out, m good tho
[July 24, 10:12 pm] Hajime: tell kndchi i’ll tke him n kytni out to eat nxt tme
[July 24, 10:14 pm] Hajime: also, could you let everyone know I really appreciated it too by the way, what they did. helped a lot.
[July 24, 10:15 pm] eyes: no need to thank us, anything for our vice-captain
[July 24, 10:15 pm] eyes: keep in touch alright
[July 24, 10:16 pm] Hajime: yeah
He goes to put his phone away, bending down to grab his bag, when it vibrates in his hand. He picks up.
He hasn’t heard that name in two months.
Tooru clears his throat, and in the background Hajime can make out Hanamaki’s particular brand of loud, and the gunshots of an action movie.
“You didn’t show up to Yahaba’s,” Tooru says, and immediately, Hajime is ticked off. Granted, Tooru probably doesn’t know why he left, but it’s still annoying that he can start complaining to him after two months of radio silence.
“Nope,” Hajime says, popping the ‘p.’
Yeah, he can almost see the tick in Tooru’s neck right now, as he says, sickeningly sweet, “Makki tells me you’re back in Yokohama. What the hell, Iwa-chan? You couldn’t spend another month with your friends?”
“You guys looked perfectly fine,” Hajime says. Apparently, his brain doesn’t give a fuck anymore, alright, alright, okay, cool. What the hell is it about Tooru that gets him so damn fired up—
Tooru scoffs, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I wonder,” Hajime says, and the little rational man in his head wails in despair while the monkey at the wheel cackles.
“Do you have someone waiting for you back there, or something?” Tooru’s ice cold and Hajime actually checks to see if his phone had frosted over. He makes a vague, indecipherable sound and Tooru growls.
“Are you even going to respond like a normal, civil person?!”
Hajime blows a raspberry into the mic, relishing in the way it tests Tooru’s homicidal urges. Serves that idiot right, how does it feel to get a taste of his own irritating attitude?
“What is up with you, Iwa-chan?!” Tooru asks, exasperated.
And oh, man, Hajime could really fucking go on a rant about how it wasn’t him who didn’t respond to any form of communication at all for the entirety of June and July, he could write an essay on how shitty it made him feel, he could but all that comes out is a quiet: “I’m tired, Oikawa.”
And he is. God, he’s so, so, so fucking tired.
Because—here’s the thing: Hajime’s selfish as fuck.
He and Tooru? They shared homes and food and clothes. They threw study materials at each other, raced to see who finished chores first, fought over who beat the other at yearly fitness tests. They knew each other inside and out, held the very essence of each other in their hands and played catch with it, because to them, a relationship like that wasn’t anything special, it was just all they’ve known.
And because Hajime’s selfish, he wants more. He has that closeness, that trust, and fuck, he wants so much more, he wants it all but he can’t have it. Wants to be able to hold Tooru in his arms for something other than those rare cases where they lost a match or got injured and they both needed it. He just wants to be able to reach past those last few inches just because he’s allowed to.
But he’s not. Sado is.
It was almost better when Hajime thought Tooru didn’t like guys. Now—now Hajime knows. He knows it’s not that Tooru doesn’t like guys, it’s that Tooru doesn’t like Hajime that way, and it’s—fine, everyone has their tastes, he can’t blame Tooru for that but.
Knowing that there’s nothing stopping Hajime from being with Tooru except for that fact that Tooru doesn’t want it, is damning.
It’s, hah, it’s—fucking, great, this is great, Hajime—Hajime, fuck, he can’t even think right now. Just—
Sado’s hand around Tooru’s waist, Sado pressing lingering kisses on Tooru’s wrists, the tenderness in their voices when they talk about each other, the looks—the goddamn looks Sado gives Tooru, Hajime sees them on his own face in shop windows and blurry selfies when Tooru’s near. It’s fine, it’s fine it’s fucking fine—
“I’m just busy,” he lies.
“Staying up late, waking early. The usual,” he lies.
“You know how it is,” he lies.
Fuck, what the fuck.
Something crinkles over on Tooru’s side, sudden and sharp. “Iwa-chan, you were just home, it’s summer break—”
“Hey listen, would love to talk but Daisuke broke the washer again,” he lies. A car drives by, loud.
“I’ll call you later,” he lies.
“Bye, Oikawa,” he says.
And he doesn’t let Tooru reply, just jabs his thumb blindly at the red ‘end call’ button on his phone and hears it beep. He stares at the screen until it goes black and then stuffs it back in his jacket.
There’s a restlessness bouncing around in his ribcage and he spins around, lost. The campus is dead and its silence frustrates Hajime, he bares his teeth at the way the trees reach down at him with their arching, scraggly branches, a mute and mocking witness to everything.
He scrubs his hands over his head roughly, fingers catching in his hair and he breathes hard, almost panting with something that tastes like anger, like rainstorms and rust, but not quite. Something edging on desperation, salty and stale. His hands fall to his eyes, palms pressing down until his eye socket twinges. What happened, what did they even talk about? Hajime can’t remember past the raw dryness in his throat. He bites his lip. It feels like someone’s stuffed a cantaloupe down his esophagus and he coughs.
The soles of his shoes scrape against the concrete when he squats down—when he unwillingly falls to a crouch, really. He folds in on himself like if he does it hard enough he’ll shrink out of existence.
“You’re okay,” he says, harsh and quick, the words slipping around the cracks in the hand over his mouth. “You’re fine.”
He gives himself one minute.
One minute to close his eyes tight and grind his teeth, one minute to get his fingers to stop shaking, clench them hard enough his bones cry out in protest.
One minute to let his thoughts linger, let his breathing stutter and stabilize.
One minute is all he lets himself have.
And then he stands up, grabs his bag, and goes home.
“Don’t…but do you think he likes panca…ks?”
“…zawa said so—”
“Why,” Hajime says, throwing his door open, “are you guys failing at whispering in front of my room.”
There are two guys squatting at his feet and one of them lets out an ‘eep!’ while the other just gapes at Hajime like he honestly wasn’t expecting him to wake up through all that hushed yelling. They seem vaguely familiar to Hajime; he thinks they’re in the study group he leads sometimes. Still doesn’t explain what they’re doing.
Hajime gestures for an answer, and they hurriedly leap out of their crouch, thrusting a tray of what looks like slightly burned pancakes and eggs at him before fleeing down the hallway, punching and pushing each other.
“What the fuck,” Hajime says.
“Aw, did the puppies bring you breakfast to cheer you up?”
Hajime turns, finds the RA posing against the wall in a silk robe and fuzzy socks and nothing else. He has no idea what to address first; it’s too early in the morning for any of this, so he squints unsurely at the RA before walking straight back into his room.
His clock says it’s noon and his body is still feeling that delicious drowsiness that comes from sleeping for fourteen hours, muscles lax and warm as he sits down at his desk. Flipping his laptop open, Hajime cuts a piece of the pancake and pops it into his mouth. They taste pretty good, for something two eighteen-year-old boys made, meaning it’s burnt in some places and raw in others. He makes a mental note to thank them later.
He’s got a couple emails, most of them updates on school policy and registration for the next term. He skims over them, munching idly on the eggs and poking at the pieces stuck in his teeth with his tongue. The subject line of one email catches his eyes and he pauses, fork halfway to his mouth.
Confirmation email: Chofu Aerospace Cen…
He sits back and crosses his arms, right leg bouncing lightly. The chair squeaks with all the jostling, but he pays it no mind, chewing on his lip as he cocks his head, regarding the email he’d received back in May. He sighs, looking out the window at the summer air rustling through the lush, green trees. The phone call to the Centre seemed like years ago, if he’s being honest, recalling the excitement he felt then. He shakes his head.
Letting out a grunt, he hunches back over his desk and sticks the fork in his mouth, fingers flying over the keys and with a click of the mouse, he sends it off with a satisfied nod. He finishes the last of his pancakes and closes the lid of his laptop. He picks up the plate, licking the fork clean—because burnt food or not, the syrup was good—and slips on his shoes. He grabs his keys, takes a second to tamp down on the lingering clouds in his chest, and steps out into the hallway.
He spends the day in a sort of lucid denial of anything that happened in the last week, brushing aside his dorm mates’ concerned questions. He finds that raising an eyebrow and pointing at their barely-touched summer homework does the trick of shutting them right up. Though he just ends up walking them through it.
He can’t help it, they just look so…pitiful, staring forlornly at word questions and math formulas.
Right now’s he got Daisuke, Daisuke’s friend, the two that made him breakfast, and…his RA? at the table, books out and pencils scribbling furiously. There’s a ruler in his hand that he thinks the RA handed to him at some point, snickering slightly. Hajime just went with it, the less known, the better, when it comes to that guy.
“Okay, so we good with this one? Can we move on?” he asks, tapping the ruler at the textbook propped up on the whiteboard that he knows for sure was stolen. Scattered agreement around the table, and Hajime flips the page, skimming over the problem while he lets the other guys try it on their own.
The RA isn’t even doing any work, considering he is three years older. Hajime doesn’t even know what he’s doing here, lying upside down on the common room couch, staring at Hajime as his face gets redder by the second from the blood flow.
And then, like the foreboding string quartet in the background of a horror movie, harsh breathing can be heard from the hallway outside the common room, getting louder by the second. Hajime whips back to the table, and frowns when he sees Daisuke still sitting innocently in his seat, chewing on his pencil. He notices Hajime’s stare and immediately raises his arms.
“I haven’t touched any household machinery since that thing with the microwave and the kiwi,” he says.
Hajime just narrows his eyes at him but says nothing, turning to the doorway just in time to see Serizawa run by, skid to stop, arms wind-milling, and then trip into the room. He bumps into the doorframe six times, incredibly enough.
“Iwaizumi-san, Iwaizumi-san, oh my god IWAIZUMI-SAN,” Serizawa yells, and lurches forward to grab Hajime’s wrist like a starving man that was just presented with an entire feast.
Hajime sets the ruler down, nice and slow.
“Is something on fire,” he asks.
“IWAZUMI-SAN,” is the answer he gets, and Serizawa starts hauling him away, which is impressive for a guy of his stature, being significantly shorter and lighter than Hajime.
They leave the common room, but the study group tag along like ducklings, with their bobbing heads and inquisitive noises but Hajime frowns because this is the way to his room. They’ve just rounding the corner and Hajime scowls. “Serizawa, I swear to god, if something’s happ—Oikawa?”
And it is, indeed, Oikawa Tooru, standing in front of Hajime’s door, in nothing but a thin t-shirt, pajama pants, and…flip-flops?
Hajime drags his eyes back up to Tooru’s face and very nearly looks around to see if Ushijima is standing behind him, because Tooru’s only ever been this furious when that guy's around. He’s clutching a crumpled piece of paper in his hand and vibrating in place so lividly that Hajime’s surprised he doesn’t feel the air shake from across the hall.
Almost all the surrounding rooms have their doors open and Hajime’s dorm mates peek out from behind them, staring blatantly. One of them has a phone out.
Why the fuck are there so many, shouldn’t they be at home, it’s summer break, he thinks distractedly, taking uncertain steps until he’s standing in front of Tooru. Behind him, he hears Daisuke whispering worriedly and someone shushes him. He wants to tell them this is not one of their kdramas they binge-watch every Saturday.
“What,” Tooru begins, tightly reigned anger in the flatness of his voice. “Is. This.”
He shakes the paper in Hajime’s face, and Hajime briefly reads ‘Chofu Aerospa—’ on it before Tooru’s really frowny eyebrows are in his face again.
“Uh…your present?” Hajime says, disoriented.
“My present,” Tooru hisses. “To the Chofu Aerospace Center.”
Hajime inches backward. “…Yeeess?”
“The Center that is apparently packed until October.”
“I—yes? I didn’t know they booked that fast—” Hajime babbles.
Tooru clenches his fingers tighter around the paper. “Iwa-chan. This says you get to try out the Space Shuttle Simulator.”
“Uh, I’d hope so? I specifically asked for it, because I knew you’d like—”
Tooru inhales sharply, snarling, “Get in the fucking room, Hajime.” His eyes are bright and wild, crowding up close to Hajime until they’re chest to chest. The growl in the last syllable of his name—his name that he hasn’t heard in this particular voice in two years, eight months, and twenty-five days—raises just about every single hair on Hajime’s body.
Over Tooru’s shoulder, Yamada’s mouth drops open and Hajime feels naked all of a sudden. He quickly unlocks his door and Tooru barrels past him, barely waiting for Hajime to step through before slamming the door shut. Hajime flicks the lock nervously.
Tooru stares at the unmade bed, the mess of papers on his desk, the coffee cans by the trash. He catches sight of the framed photos on his desk, one of Hajime’s parents, one of the team, and one of just him and Hajime. His mouth goes tight.
“What are you doing here?” Hajime asks warily. “You aren’t even wearing proper clothes—”
“These are for two,” Tooru says.
Hajime’s toes curl. “Yeah.”
He rocks back on his heels. “I thought I wrote it in the email—”
“Who, Hajime,” Tooru demands, quietly but just as angrily.
Hajime looks past Tooru’s shoulder, out the window at the bright green trees swaying in the gentle wind. “You and Sado—”
“No, it’s not,” Tooru interrupts, and Hajime would make a remark about asking for an answer when you apparently have your own, but somehow, he doesn’t think this is the time for that. He might just get choked to death.
“It was for us, wasn’t it,” Tooru says.
Hajime just continues tracking the flight path of a bird outside, keeping himself grounded watching the loops and dips it makes, his fingers twitching at his sides.
Tooru clicks his tongue, a sharp snap of noise filled with a staggering amount of displeasure, and stalks forward. Hajime’s traitorous feet has him backing up to the door, the view of the window blocked out by Tooru, who looms over him with those last few centimetres in height difference, damn him. He flinches when Tooru smacks the paper onto his chest, tries not to shiver as those slim, pale fingers lay flat and determined over his sternum, heat suffusing through his tank.
“It was for us. Wasn’t it,” Tooru repeats, glaring down at Hajime with those half-lidded eyes. Hajime grabs Tooru’s wrist and pushes, but it doesn’t move. Tooru doesn’t move, too angry to let up even an inch off of Hajime and fuck him, really, that should not be as hot as it is.
“Why are you so worked up about this?” he says, glaring back. The grey tiredness he’s been feeling since the phone call falls away and in its place comes a familiar irritation.
“I’m worked up,” Tooru says, “because this is the best fucking present ever, Hajime.”
“O...kay?” Hajime blinks. That wasn’t what he was expecting.
Tooru clicks his tongue again, the annoying bastard, and pushes away from Hajime, walking agitatedly around the room. “You don’t get it—this makes me so damn mad, Hajime, because you got this with the two of us in mind, and it’s the best thing I could ever think of—” Tooru grips the paper with both hands, shaking it at Hajime— “and you wanted me to spend it with Kenocchi?”
Hajime throws his hands up. “Oh, well excuuuuse me! I just thought you’d want to spend it with your boyfriend, whom you love, please, forgive me, for jumping to such an unbelievable conclusion, Crappykawa—”
“I don’t love him!” Tooru shouts, slamming his hand into the desk. The photo frames wobble precariously. Hajime’s mouth snaps shut, and he stares, wide-eyed.
Tooru swears. His hands link tight behind his bowed head, fingers pale and shaking. He paces the small room once, twice, and then sits heavily on the bed, hunched over. Hajime remains where he is, still looking straight ahead, stunned into place by those four words. They don’t fit in with the picture of Tooru leaning into Sado at the dinner.
“I don’t,” Tooru whispers at the floor, to the eraser shavings at his feet and the socks lying still, mismatched and dusty. “I don’t. Not—not him.”
Hajime breathes, even and quiet. His mind is struck frozen, looping "not him, not him" over and over.
“Did you know,” Tooru says, “that Kenocchi asked me out. Said he was from the basketball team, and when our teams shared the gym, he always admired how put together I seemed. And I said yes because I was still thinking about that call where you said Micchan was pretty.”
When did I say that, Hajime thinks. His nails bite into his thighs, even through the sweats.
“So we went out. And half the time I’m trying to keep from snapping at him and it’s shit, Hajime, Kenocchi is so sweet but he treats me like a dainty fifteen-year-old girl, I can’t stand it.” Tooru scrubs his fingers irritably through his hair.
“But I stayed because every time I thought about leaving all I saw was your Instagram selfie with Micchan and you’re right, she’s even prettier than I remember and you two looked like you guys were on a date, Hajime, and that? That, I couldn’t stand even more.”
Tooru lifts his head, and the look on his face—the look on his face—
It’s something that reaches into Hajime’s chest and pulls and yanks at his lungs, stretches them to tangle around his stomach, something that tears his guts into ribbons to choke his heart with. Hajime’s only seen this look exactly twice in his life and he hates it the most. Of all the stupid, smug looks and pouts and smiles and frowns—this is the only expression of Tooru’s that he’d be happy never to witness again.
Tooru inhales, blinking rapidly. “So this?” He gives the paper a little shake before throwing it onto the desk. “This is telling me something, Hajime, and with the call yesterday, with the way you’ve been acting—Hajime, I swear, you better not be fucking with me, you better not, because I just broke up with Kenocchi and I don’t need any more joking around, okay.”
Tooru stares at him, and Hajime stares back.
“I didn’t know,” Hajime hears himself saying, “how to tell you that the reason I wanted you to stop saying my first name was because it sounded too nice and it kept distracting me.”
In the distance, there’s a rumble of a car engine but it barely registers to Hajime. He watches the shape of Tooru’s lips when he mouths “distracting,” like a silent question.
“We fought after that—you remember. Matsukawa cornered me in the storage room.” Hajime waits until Tooru nods and then continues, “He was telling me off for upsetting you, and I remember thinking how ridiculous it all was, like he was your older brother and I was getting the shovel talk.”
Tooru straightens, the tenseness falling away in place of surprise. “That’s what you guys were talking about?”
Hajime quirks an eyebrow. “What did you think we were talking about?”
Tooru just slaps a hand over his face, mumbling quietly to himself. Hajime lets his lips twitch upwards for half a second before they fall again.
“We went to visit Obaa-san in third year. I think she was trying to give me her…blessings.” Saying it raises warmth to his face again but he keeps going, eyes locked on the windbreaker dangling from his lamp. “In the last two months, I’ve had Hanamaki, Shimura, and my own dad tell me that I’ve been glaringly obvious for as long as they’ve known me. And I’m positive the entire Seijou team knows. I’m pretty sure even Kageyama and the shrimp put the pieces together by themselves.”
Tooru makes a questioning noise and Hajime sighs, finally pushing off the door to sit next to Tooru, thigh-to-thigh. It’s been so long and the feel of Tooru against his side almost derails his thoughts and he wrangles them back with some difficulty.
“That day I came over.” Hajime coughs, rubbing his hands on his sweats. “After you gave me my present. I, uh...I wanted to kiss you.” He laughs, a weak little noise that dies as soon as it’s heard. “I wanted to kiss you so bad. I don’t know why I didn’t.”
He turns to Tooru and finds the other fixated on Hajime like he’s one of those recorded plays of an opposing team. The familiar, ugly gape of his mouth and the exaggerated wrinkle at his eyes diffuse the tautness in Hajime’s neck.
“You wanted to...wait, are you...” Tooru trails off, confused. “Is this. Is this a—what is this, what is going on right now—”
Hajime groans, pinching Tooru’s cheek between his fingers, impossibly irritated and fond at the same time. “Oh my god, you asshat, are you serious? I'm confessing; I literally just said I wanted to kiss you.”
“Oh.” Tooru blinks, leans back on a hand. “Ohh.”
Hajime feels his mouth twitch. “Yeah. Oh.”
All of a sudden, Tooru turns red faster than Hajime’s ever seen, like a thermometer placed in boiling hot water. Hajime imagines steam coming out of the ears and nearly bites his tongue in half. Tooru slaps a hand on Hajime’s face and pushes, the other pressed against his own mouth, where a wobbly whine can be heard.
“Oikawa, what the fuck?” Hajime says, wrapping his fingers around Tooru’s wrist and pulling.
“Don’t look at me!” Tooru cries, and no way, is he sniffling?
“Are you crying?” Hajime asks, reaching for Tooru’s other hand and pulling it away too.
Tooru turns his head and tries to hide in his shoulder, pulling his knees up slightly and folding into himself. Hajime just stubbornly moves closer into Tooru’s space, peering up at him. He holds both of Tooru’s wrists and refuses to let them go, keeping them far apart and open.
“Oikawa?” He nudges Tooru’s knee with his own. “Oikawa.”
Tooru shakes his head, eyes squeezed shut. A tear seeps out from behind his right eye. Hajime’s frown softens and he lets go of Tooru’s wrist to place gentle fingers on the curve of his jaw. He guides Tooru away from the crook of his shoulder, soft and slow.
The name falls easily from his mouth, even after years of all kinds of variations on “Oikawa” and he knows it’s because Tooru is never anything else but that, in his head.
And Tooru finally lets his face crumple into his sloppy crying face, falling forward into Hajime and sending them dropping back onto the bed in a heap of hiccups and breathless laughter.
Like coming home, Hajime lets his arms wind around Tooru, lets his knee rest against Tooru’s hip and thigh and feels the realness of it—the weight and true solidity of his best friend cradled tight to him. He buries in nose in the spot just below Tooru’s ear and smiles into the skin and the baby hairs there. He can feel Tooru wipe his gross-ass snot on Hajime’s bare shoulder and still the giddiness keeps rolling in waves through his body and he laughs again, bright and free, and Tooru joins in, the two of them rocking slightly, side to side, caught up in each other.
“I feel like I just went through a lifetime’s worth of stress,” Hajime says, staring up at the ceiling. He’s still grinning, ear-to-ear. “I really thought you liked this one, you couldn’t stop smiling and stuff. You let him hang all over you. You took him to a volleyball match.”
Tooru snorts, and snuggles deeper into Hajime’s neck. “He invited himself—he was like that a lot, way too invested, I kept thinking he was gonna propose every time we went out.”
“Oh, yikes,” Hajime says, and then frowns. “Wait, so then how did he react when you broke up with him? Actually—how did you break up? You look like you ran here the moment you got the email.”
Tooru’s ears go redder than Nekoma’s volleyball uniforms. “I, uh…might’ve have, actually, yeah, maybe, I don’t know.”
Hajime moves his head, but the angle’s all awkward and he can’t get a good look at Tooru but he’s pretty sure that’s guilt on his face. “Tooru. Tooru, you goat, please tell me you didn’t break up with him on the phone or something. At least tell me you did it in person, with your ugly pajamas and uglier hair. Tooru.”
A nervous laugh muffled against the spot between Hajime’s neck and shoulder is the answer he gets and Hajime slaps a hand over his face. He should scold Tooru, he really should, but he’s still high on relief and pure happiness, so a startled laugh bubbles up instead. “You’re so awful, Tooru, seriously.”
Surprisingly, there’s no immediate rebuttal but Tooru raises his head, blowing at his fringe and placing his hands over Hajime’s chest, propping his chin on them. His eyes rove over Hajime’s face, contemplative and wondering, with a deliberate slowness to it that comes from knowing they have all the time in the world now. Hajime does the same, curling a lock of soft, brown hair behind Tooru's ear with a finger. He traces over the mark at Tooru’s temple, rubbing at the faded indentation of it.
“Do you remember what I told you when I got that scar? You thought I was dying.” Tooru leans in just a bit more to place the lightest of kisses to Hajime’s chin, tentative and trembling just the slightest bit. His heart swells.
“Hmn, not really,” Hajime says, and Tooru half-heartedly fakes a gasp.
“My dying wishes, my last words and my best friend couldn’t even honour them.”
Hajime rolls his eyes, slides his hand lower on Tooru’s spine and revels at the way it makes Tooru’s lashes stutter, the uncertainty bleeding out out the grip he has on Hajime's shirt.
“You said you’d leave your power rangers action figures to me,” Hajime guesses, rubbing figure-eights into the fabric of Tooru’s shirt until it rides up and smooth skin meets his touch instead.
Tooru smiles, eyes sliding shut. “Mmmnope.”
“You told me to grab your stuffed pig plush because you didn’t want to die without it.”
“You apologized for breaking my mother’s prized china.”
Tooru flicks an eye open and pouts, “We both know it wasn’t me who did that.”
Hajime just hums innocently, and his nails tease the edge of Tooru’s pajama pants. He says, quietly, “I think I remember now.”
“Yeah?” Tooru breathes, inching further up Hajime’s chest.
“Mhm, it’s all coming back to me,” Hajime says, tapping a beat onto the small of Tooru’s back. “You said: I should’ve gone to Shiratorizawa.”
Tooru freezes above him, scant inches from his lips. His face is blank and Hajime fights to keep his gaze steady.
“You’re dead to me,” Tooru says and pushes at Hajime’s chest, trying violently to squirm his way out of Hajime’s unrelenting hold. “Let go of me, you filthy traitor, how dare you, in our bed, on this day, our wedding day—”
“Tooru, Tooru, wait, I’m sorry,” Hajime chokes out between his laughter. “Hey, hey, stop, I’m sorry, it was just too good to pass up!”
Tooru keeps up the struggle, wiggling obnoxiously all over Hajime and normally that would annoy the hell out of him but he’s still running on endorphins so it’s doing something else, entirely. Hajime rushes to stop all the friction and ends up flipping them over to press Tooru down into the sheets, firmly, so he can’t move.
Tooru glares up at him, mouth opening in another whine, no doubt, but Hajime just lowers himself a little more on the arm he’s got curled up around Tooru’s head, hovering over him and says:
“I love you.”
Hajime counts his breaths. One, two, three. “That’s what you said.” His cheeks are flushed with embarrassment, with the cheesiness of everything. But he doesn't mind all that much, because they’re touching from toes to chest, legs hopelessly tangled together, fingers loosely, almost absentmindedly intertwined, and Tooru's gone all soft and pink.
“You were also pretty convinced you were dying. Wanted me to know that you loved me,” Hajime says, lips brushing the slope of Tooru’s forehead.
“Yeah,” Tooru mumbles. “Needed you to know.”
Hajime leaves a smile between Tooru’s brows, light and indulgent, “You remember what I said back, then?”
Against his throat, he feels a brush of lips and Tooru says it back, voice thick and wobbling, like he did when they were four and crouched in the spring mud, clutching to each other just like this.
(They get twelve minutes to themselves, and then Hajime gets knock after knock and question after question from his dorm mates about whether they’ve made up yet, or if they need condoms, spoken through the crack under his door.
He yells at them until they go away but because time is an illusion to these guys, twenty seconds later, Daisuke has his lips jammed under the door, saying how he’s really glad they’re back together—and just how many of them thought Hajime and Tooru were dating?)
“Oikawa, will you shut up about your ‘perfect date in space’ for one goddamn second, I’m working here,” Hanamaki says, tongue poking out of his mouth and his fingers twisted in Shimura’s hair. Apparently, he’s supposed to be doing a short, simple braid. Privately, Hajime thinks it looks more like crazy anime hair from the 90s, and Shimura is only enabling Hanamaki, handing him brightly-coloured elastics and…tiny toy figurines, yup, that’s a lego man, why does she have a lego man in her bag, why does she have three?
“You’re just jealous Mattsun isn’t as romantic.” Tooru jabs his popsicle in Hanamaki’s direction, exuding haughtiness even with the sweat-soaked pink t-shirt and bright orange Hawaiian-patterned swimming shorts. Hajime feels his retinas burning. “We flew among the stars, Hajime and I, like Princess Orihime and her lover, Hikoboshi.”
“No one remind him that the story has them meeting only once a year,” Matsukawa says, yogurt on his chin. There’s a small pile of empty cartons next to him on the living room table.
Shimura slurps unnecessarily long at her soda, eyes closed and leaning into the fan whirring away in her face. “Mmmn, but Iwaizumi told me all you did was tour the place and look at the different types of aircrafts. You got, like, fifteen minutes in the simulator, tops.”
Tooru rolls on the floor—somehow avoiding dropping his popsicle on the ground—until he reaches where Hajime’s leaning against the couch. He then crawls into Hajime’s lap, despite the sweltering heat. Hajime groans, suffering. “You talk to Micchan about our dates?” Tooru asks, squirming around in Hajime’s arms like a cat high on catnip.
Hajime shares a significant look with Shimura and she holds up an OK sign. Seeing that, Tooru’s head pops up and swivels to fixate on her, and Hajime shoots a quick look at his ass to make sure there isn’t actually a cat’s tail waving around.
“Wait, what was that, why did you guys look at each other like that,” Tooru says. He turns back to Hajime, and almost smashes their noses together in his haste. They end up looking cross-eyed at each other. “What do you guys talk about?”
Hajime doesn’t want to admit that two hours before the date, he called Shimura in a panic because he didn’t know what to wear, so he just takes the hand Tooru’s using to hold his ice cream and forcefully guides it back into his mouth to shut him up.
“KINKY,” Hanamaki and Matsukawa immediately say and Shimura follows up with a finger through the OK sign, eyebrows dancing on her face. Seriously, how do they wiggle so much.
“Clearly, I should’ve kept you three apart until the day I died,” Tooru laments, slumping onto Hajime’s shoulder, watching the other three high-five each other way too enthusiastically.
Hajime wholeheartedly agrees, mostly because the moment Shimura walked into his house to the four of them sitting around the table eating popsicles, fan whirring in the back and blowing hot air, she plain out said, “I’m gonna be honest, this looks like the start of a porno.”
Hanamaki immediately threw Matsukawa off of him and gathered Shimura into his arms, declaring them married. Matsukawa only dusted himself off and demanded why Hajime kept Shimura away from them for so long.
“Okay, but you two have no room to talk,” Hajime says. “Matsukawa got drunk a week ago and confessed to me the marks on your wrists in third year were not, in fact, because your sister made you carry her hair ties for a week, but because you two had kinky, naughty sex.”
Tooru lets out a delighted “OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH,” and Hajime smirks, watching the anguish unfurl in his friends’ eyes.
Hajime: infinity, Hanamaki and Matsukawa: fucking obliterated.
Matsukawa closes his eyes, shamed into silence so hard he literally tries to become a stone statue. Hanamaki just yells “Issei, you whore, I trusted you!” to the heavens, shaking his boyfriend in distress.
“Huh,” Shimura says, tipping the last of the soda into her mouth. “Somehow, not surprising.”
Hanamaki whips around and points an imperious finger at her. “You just met us, you know nothing.”
Shimura just jerks her chin towards the hand Matsukawa’s snuck under the hem of Hanamaki’s shorts and oh, wow, yeah, Hajime did not need to see that. Not so shamed, then, if he’s still doing that.
Hanamaki looks down, looks at his boyfriend, looks back at Shimura. “Yeah, okay.” And then he gets to his feet, dragging Matsukawa by the collar out of the room. “Excuse us.”
The three of them watch as Matsukawa lets it happen, eyes still closed. When the last of him has rounded the corner, the room is filled with only the sound of the fan and the background noise of an American TV show.
“Ten bucks, handjobs in the bathroom,” Shimura says, and Tooru snorts.
“No way I’m taking that bet, I’d lose.”
Hajime sighs, reaches for the remote and turns up the volume. “Couldn’t you guys have pretended that they wouldn’t and aren’t totally doing that right now? For my sake? I can never look at that bathroom the same way again.”
Tooru pats his thigh, licking the red stripe that's dripped down his arm from the popsicle. The shithead knows that’s distracting as hell. “Don’t worry, you’ll be back in Yokohama soon enough and it’ll be Uncle and Auntie who have to use it, innocent to its recent defiling and the ghost orgasms left behind.”
“You literally could’ve chosen not to say any of that and yet you still did,” Hajime says flatly.
Tooru makes some sort of incomprehensible noise around his ice cream, lips stretched slick and red and Hajime pushes him so hard he skids a few inches on the tatami mats before falling on his side, yelping.
Shimura stands, taking hurried strides to the door. “Alright, alright, alright, alriiiiight, that is my cue, goodbye, you horny bastards.” And then she’s gone, door clicking shut behind her.
Hajime kind of feels bad for driving her out like that but Tooru’s got the popsicle in his mouth again, eyebrows wiggling excessively and Hajime’s not sure if the idiot knows it’s about as sexy as a banana peel halfway through decomposition.
“You are a turd,” he says and braces for the inevitable hurling of Tooru’s entire body mass in his direction. He’s completely right, of course, when a second later he has an armful of Tooru shouting right in his damn ear, “Well, you’re dating this turd!”
It’s too hot to do anything but fall backward and take Tooru with him. They sprawl on the cool floor, the only point of contact being their hands, barely brushing together but it’s still too much, fingers sticky with sweat and ice cream.
Hajime looks over at Tooru, watches the sweat sliding down his temple and is reminded of the first time Tooru went through a breakup, six years ago with that first girl.
He hums, thinking. “This makes me number six then.”
It takes Tooru a second to get it, blinking up at the ceiling fan, and then he returns Hajime’s gaze, sure and trusting.
“No, this makes you my last.”
“That’s so damn cheesy, even for you,” Hajime says, and leans forward to kiss Tooru silent before he can point out the pleased grin on Hajime’s face.
His parents find out like this: he walks into his living room, hand in hand with Tooru.
His dad looks up from his phone and lets out the loudest and most excessive sigh of relief. He claps a hand over his forehead and stares unseeingly at the picture of Hajime’s dead grandfather hanging on the wall. Sometimes he wonders if his dad is supposed to be Tooru’s and they just got confused that one time they met at the hospital and went home with the wrong wife. That happens, right?
Mom just smiles serenely at them, and gives a simple thumbs-up.
“Oh thank God, I was so worried I messed up.” Dad says, gesturing expansively and breathing deep. “Sure, I looked calm but inside I kept thinking about you two poor red bean buns and—you know your mom was supposed to have that talk with you, right, and that reminds me, have you had sex education—”
“Yes! Okay! Thank you. For that. Alright. We. Are going upstairs,” Hajime says, tugging hard with his hand when Tooru snickers.
“I won’t ask to keep the door open but I hope you know not to try anything while your parents are still sitting here!” His dad calls after them and they both go bright red like the teenagers they still kind of are.
They take the stairs up to his room two at a time, bumping together in the small space, refusing to walk in any way but side by side. Hajime opens his bedroom door and they take two steps in and stop, turning to stare at each other.
Between one breath and another, they feel an uncertainty hanging, feel the change in them on the verge of eclipsing the past and they watch it happen: Hajime-and-Tooru to Iwa-chan and Oikawa, and now to something else that they don’t yet have a name for.
A childhood room shifts to fit them, though nothing visibly warps, and the metamorphosis settles nice and comfortable over them. They spend the rest of the day relearning how far their boundaries go, where one ends and the other starts, clumsy hands and eager hearts.