When Iwaizumi's program advisor recommended that he take astronomy to fill up his non-technical elective requirement, he had been a little skeptical. Sure, space was interesting but it sounded like a lot of math to him, and while he wasn’t opposed to a little bit of intellectual stimulation every once in a while, he was in the third year of his program, studying kinesiology, and getting closer to adopting the attitude of just wanting to graduate rather than finding an interest in the roundabout way universities operated.
One look at Iwaizumi's hesitant frown, and Watanabe-san had jumped to assure him that this astronomy course was offered under the faculty of arts, and that it was more about learning to appreciate space rather than trying to map it out, which sounded completely fake to Iwaizumi but who was he to oppose an easy grade in a bird course?
Besides, the class was only once a week. Despite the fact that it was on Wednesday nights from 7 to 10 pm, it was the middle of the week and there truly wasn’t anything better he could have been doing, anyway. It was so much easier to get all the information for the week over with in one day rather than having it spread out over three one-hour lecture intervals.
So once every week, Iwaizumi grabbed his bag, his flashlight and his dusty old black sneakers to either head up to the top floor of the astronomy building or meet out by the soccer field to learn about space.
Mostly, their professor, Suzuki-sensei, just spat facts about the history of travel into space, how the stars were used to map out the Earth, and he sometimes even threw in a bit of random mythology about the names of the constellations and galaxies.
Overall, it wasn’t the most interesting class but it was definitely easy considering how little material they had. There were no tests, only a series of assignments that were well spread out over the semester and both a mid-semester and end of semester culminating projects.
Their first assignment was to create a star-map for the day they were born, which was easy enough to look up. Their second assignment required them taking ten different photos of the night sky and labelling all the planets, stars, and other occupants of the solar system, which sounded difficult in theory, but the school telescope they were allowed to use did all the labelling for you, so long as you selected the option.
Iwaizumi wasn’t sure if Suzuki-sensei just didn’t know about the feature, or if he was banking on the students not having figured it out. Lucky enough for Iwaizumi though, the guy who had used the telescope before him, Oikawa, had somehow managed to turn the feature on and left it enabled for everyone in line after him.
At first, the way Oikawa had grinned at him as he left the small operating room had taken Iwaizumi aback for a moment, until he realized what Oikawa had done, and how much easier he had just made Iwaizumi’s life.
While Iwaizumi may not have been interested in the astronomy course, Oikawa Tooru sure as hell was.
Iwaizumi knew who he was even before he had seen the keener extraordinaire raise his hand to answer every question correctly – if Iwaizumi had to hear one more ‘You’re absolutely correct, Oikawa-kun!’ he was going to pop a nerve. It was strange, really: Iwaizumi would have never taken the star setter for the school’s Varsity boys volleyball team to be such a nerd.
Admittedly, the first few times his enthusiasm had been cute, and Iwaizumi was ashamed to say he had sort of wished Oikawa would notice him. But no matter how early Iwaizumi got to class – one day he had arrived at 6 pm rather than 7 pm – Oikawa was always already at their pre-determined location for that week’s lecture, a gaggle of girls leaning off of his every word not far behind.
Soon, the enthusiasm went from being cute to downright infuriating, which had a lot more to do with the girls around Oikawa who wouldn’t stop giggling even when Oikawa wasn’t speaking, than Iwaizumi would have liked to admit.
Not that they even had a chance with him, which they all seemed to know but couldn’t quite comprehend.
Still, class continued even with Oikawa's fangirls, for a lack of a better explanation, making Iwaizumi wish he had never taken this class in the first place.
April turned into May and with the middle of the semester approaching, Suzuki-sensei had taken the liberty to introduce their mid-semester culminating project: extraterrestial life.
It took everything in Iwaizumi's power not to groan aloud at the overly scientific use of the word for aliens, as much as it took to not shout ‘Are you fucking serious?’ because what kind of a university taught hypothetical courses – of course ignoring the very existence of philosophy?
Iwaizumi was the odd one out of the group though, because as they trudged across the perimeter of the woods surrounding the school for that week’s lesson – looking for signs of the weak meteor shower, the June Bootids – he heard excited whispers from his classmates around him about how much they were looking forward to the prospect of discussing the possibility of alien life and whether they existed.
Fortunately, not everyone he heard was dead set on the idea that aliens did exist – he did hear some murmurs of disagreement – however that didn’t wash away the fact that these people were actually discussing it like it was a valid topic of discourse.
To make matters worse, Suzuki-sensei had made the project partnered work. Iwaizumi didn’t particularly like or dislike working in pairs or groups on projects, so long as everyone got the work done. He did however dread the anticipation of a partner in this course because he didn’t know anyone, not really, and the rest of his classmates were way more invested in this course than he was.
It made him feel slightly guilty for his future partner because even though Iwaizumi wasn’t a jerk and would put in the effort for his share of the work, actually liking the course always made people easier to work with.
That was, until Suzuki-sensei called his name as they were dismissed for the week.
“Iwaizumi-kun, if you wouldn’t mind staying behind for a few moments,” Suzuki-sensei asked, just as Iwaizumi slung his backpack over his shoulders.
His shoes had gotten muddy during that evening’s lecture. It had rained for the past two days, and the heavily soiled forest did not have the chance to dry up with the surprisingly drafty weather that had hit them at the end of May.
Despite the fact that his shoes were old, Iwaizumi didn’t want to drag around mud, especially inside his apartment lest his clean-freak roommate threatened to maul him in some way.
Suga was a generally kind and patient person; Iwaizumi liked him just fine – they were friends – but he was obsessive about keeping the apartment clean to the point where Iwaizumi wasn’t even allowed to use a mug without a coaster.
“Yes, sensei,” Iwaizumi acknowledged, dropping the dirty cloth he had used to wipe his shoes into the trashbin outside the doors to the astronomy building.
He watched the rest of the students file past him, talking to what Iwaizumi assumed were the partners they had already picked out, about the upcoming project. Iwaizumi tore his eyes away from the door to where Suzuki-sensei stood, joined by none other than Oikawa Tooru. Iwaizumi narrowed his eyes but walked forward, giving Suzuki-sensei his full attention.
“You’re a good student,” the man acknowledged.
Iwaizumi couldn’t help when he blurted out, “I am?” because while grades were important to him, he didn’t think he had been trying particularly hard in this course. It was easy, but the best grades didn’t always constitute a ‘good student,’ in Iwaizumi's opinion.
Suzuki-sensei chuckled at Iwaizumi's stupor. He nodded his head in agreement. “You are,” he confirmed. “And as a result, I would like to ask you to pair up with Oikawa-kun for the upcoming project. Pardon me if this an assumption on my end, but you don’t talk to anyone in the class so I assumed you didn’t have a partner yet?”
He phrased it politely like a question, but Iwaizumi could tell it was more of a statement. Despite the fact that Suzuki-sensei hadn’t said anything rude or embarrassing, Iwaizumi's face flushed a deep crimson. It was like he was being called out – what for, even he wasn’t sure, but the way Oikawa's eyes sparkled in some sort of hidden secret just made Iwaizumi flush harder because someone else had noticed.
“Iwaizumi-kun?” Suzuki-sensei repeated.
Iwaizumi cleared his throat. He nodded his head slowly, eyes narrowing in an attempt to figure out what Oikawa was playing at.
He may not have had plenty of people lining up to be his partner but Oikawa sure did. Everyone in the class knew who he was and not only because of his fame on the volleyball team. He was generally well-liked by his peers so why he was going out of his way to seek out a partner that wasn’t anyone else in the class who would most likely sell a kidney for this chance was beyond Iwaizumi.
“Is that a yes that you don’t have a partner or that you’ll be mine?” Oikawa asked, voicing his say in the matter for the first time. Suzuki-sensei gave Oikawa an apprehensive look but he conceded to let Oikawa take over the conversation when he gave the teacher a reassuring smile.
“I’ll leave you two to it then,” Suzuki-sensei laughed. “Have a good week, I’ll see you both next Wednesday,” he greeted, leaving with a short wave of his hand.
Suzuki-sensei was nice but just a tad bit too naïve. Iwaizumi may not have been able to say he knew Oikawa well, but he could at least tell that this whole ploy wasn’t as straightforward as what Oikawa must have made Suzuki-sensei believe.
“What do you want from me?” Iwaizumi asked bluntly the moment the door to the astronomy building closed behind Suzuki-sensei’s retreating figure.
Some of the yellow lights hanging around the school flickered, casting a momentary shadow to run across Oikawa's face. His smile slipped for a second but before Iwaizumi had the chance to feel guilty for being so rude, Oikawa's practiced mask was back in place, lips stretched wide across his face.
“You know, you should be honoured sensei thought about pairing us up,” he said coolly. “After all, I am getting the best grade in this class,” he added, as if Iwaizumi wouldn’t have known that from the way Oikawa answered all of Suzuki-sensei’s questions.
He scoffed at the proclamation. “Right, like that’s a big accomplishment. This class isn’t exactly difficult to master,” he rolled his eyes.
Oikawa pursed his lips, eyes moving to the side in an indication that he was thinking over his words carefully.
“I don’t really like to brag,” he started, narrowing his eyes at the small sound of disbelief that Iwaizumi couldn’t help but let out, “but I’m also at the top of my class in my major. Astrophysics if you were wondering, but I can see that working together is too repelling of an idea for you so I’m sorry that I even asked,” he turned his nose up.
Iwaizumi wanted to point out that technically he hadn’t asked Iwaizumi anything – that it was Suzuki-sensei who took the initiative but the look of genuine hurt that crossed Oikawa's face had Iwaizumi's stomach churning in guilt. He gave Oikawa the chance to walk only three steps before he called out, hand reaching for Oikawa's wrist reflexively.
He pulled back the moment Oikawa jolted to a stop, eyes widening.
“Sorry,” Iwaizumi apologized gruffly.
What for, even he wasn’t sure. Oikawa seemed to think the same thing as his eyes narrowed further and his lips stretched thinner into a nonplussed expression.
“Yes, I’ll be your partner,” he sighed. Oikawa raised his eyebrows expectantly and Iwaizumi bit back the retort that was on the tip of his tongue. Oikawa was pushing his luck – the smug smile threatening to break through proved that he knew he was.
Iwaizumi clenched his fists, closed his eyes and breathed deeply before saying, “Will you be my partner for this project, Oikawa?”
“Say please,” Oikawa grinned.
“Forget it,” Iwaizumi deadpanned. No way was he begging. If Oikawa wanted him as a partner then Oikawa was the one who was going to have to beg.
“I’m joking!” Oikawa mended, sincere smile lighting up his features. Iwaizumi relaxed at the sight of his teeth flashing and eyes crinkling up into neat crescents. “Geez, you’re so stuffy. Although I guess rooming with Suga-chan will do that to a guy,” he waved off.
“You know Suga?” Iwaizumi furrowed his brows.
Of course Oikawa would; Suga’s boyfriend also played for the same team that Oikawa did. That made sense, yet it didn’t stop Iwaizumi from feeling a little too exposed with how much Oikawa knew about him.
Oikawa cocked his head, lips tilted in a lopsided smile at Iwaizumi's question. “Yes,” he answered eventually when he deemed that Iwaizumi wasn’t joking.
Iwaizumi couldn’t tell if he was imagining things, considering it was past 10 pm now and he had gotten maybe five hours of sleep the night before, but Oikawa looked almost jilted at having to answer Iwaizumi's question.
“Anyway, give me your number so we can figure out when we want to meet and what kind of evidence we should collect to prove that aliens exist,” Oikawa listed off excitedly, pulling his own phone out for Iwaizumi to take.
But Iwaizumi was too busy trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Oikawa just said ‘aliens exist’ to take the phone that was waved in his face.
“Hold on,” Iwaizumi said carefully, trying his best not to piss Oikawa off. “You’re telling me that you want to ‘collect evidence’ to prove that aliens exist?” he said slowly.
This had to be some kind of joke, right? So what, Oikawa was smart; there was no way Iwaizumi could partner up with someone who believed aliens existed. Nope, it wasn’t happening. He wasn’t going to give a presentation and write a report on the existence of aliens because it wasn’t true.
“Don’t tell me,” Oikawa frowned, putting a hand up to stop Iwaizumi from defending himself. “You’re a nonbeliever, oh my god,” he wailed.
If Iwaizumi didn’t know better, he would have assumed Oikawa was genuinely in trouble by how offended he looked. The way Oikawa was glaring daggers at Iwaizumi though made him feel like maybe he was the one in trouble instead.
“You know you could just pick a new partner. You’ve got people lining up in spades,” Iwaizumi defended.
Oikawa shook his head firmly. He moved forward, clapped both hands on Iwaizumi's shoulder and said in a far too serious tone, “No way, I’m turning you towards the light. It was meant to be, Iwa-chan. We were destined to be partners. Your attitude just proves it.”
“First of all drop the nickname. Second, you’re going to have a hard time convincing me,” he scoffed.
“Wanna bet?” Oikawa asked, eyes twinkling mischievously.
If Iwaizumi hadn’t grown accustomed to Oikawa's perky attitude over the past month in class, he could have been fooled into thinking this was all an act.
“You’re on,” Iwaizumi agreed, competitiveness kicking in before he could convince himself otherwise. He stuck a hand out for Oikawa to shake, which he did eagerly.
Prove that aliens don’t exist: no big deal. Easy, even.
Iwaizumi realized he should have asked Oikawa what exactly they were betting on before he walked off in the direction of his apartment, phone tucked into the pocket of his jeans, Oikawa's newly added contact information weighing it down in something akin to anticipation.
But it was too late and Iwaizumi's faults always lay in his ability to get through obstacles by pure force alone.
“Yo, Suga, I’m home,” Iwaizumi called, closing the door to his apartment behind him.
He slipped of his shoes and placed them neatly in a shopping bag before dropping them into the closet, along with his coat. He had wiped his shoes clean in the bathroom a second time, even after cleaning them once already before leaving campus, but knowing Sugawara, he’d be able to spot dirt that was a millimetre spec in diameter.
“Oh, you’re later than usual,” Suga’s face popped out from around the corner.
He was wearing a pair of grey sweatpants and a navy, volleyball t-shirt that was far too large for him around the shoulders. Iwaizumi concluded it was his boyfriend’s and not Suga’s, if the size and the fact that it read Chuo University across the front in white lettering was anything to go by.
“Yeah, I got caught up,” Iwaizumi shrugged.
“Oh,” Suga asked, interest piqued. “Caught up by what, or whom should I ask?” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Iwaizumi flushed. Suga’s uncanny ability to detect the minor changes in composure was a little bit frightening. If it weren’t for the fact that Iwaizumi considered them as somewhat closer to being friends than just roommates, he’d have tried to move out by now. As if Sugawara’s need for everything to be clean and in its place wasn’t enough for Iwaizumi to want to move out.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked defensively.
He dropped his bag off next to the couch and pushed the sleeves of his shirt up to his elbows as he looked at the dishes in the sink. Unfortunately for him, every two weeks, Iwaizumi's turn to wash the dishes fell on a Wednesday. No matter how tired he was, unless he wanted his roommate to throw a fit, Iwaizumi dutifully accepted his responsibility.
He was a clean person by nature; Suga just wasn’t human. Iwaizumi honestly didn’t know how Daichi put up with Suga’s need for everything to be a certain way. The man was either more in love than Iwaizumi could imagine, or he had a lot of patience… potentially a mix of both.
“You know what I mean. Did you get a hot date or what?” Suga pried, leaning his right elbow on the counter and his cheek in his palm, facing Iwaizumi with what he could only assume was one of his looks, since Iwaizumi was stubbornly keeping his face forward.
“Oh come on, you haven’t been on a date even once since I met you,” Suga complained when Iwaizumi didn’t give him a response. “You’re young and have a nice face and an even nicer body. I mean, I’m more of a legs guy myself but someone else would kill for your arms. Daichi agrees,” Suga added, as if that was supposed to convince Iwaizumi.
“Suga, shut up,” Iwaizumi grumbled, trying and failing to keep the flush rising in his face at bay.
Yeah, okay, he hadn’t been on a proper date since first year, but that didn’t mean he was incapable of getting a date. He just… didn’t want to date. No one was interesting or serious about a relationship. So sue him for being a little old school but he didn’t want to just fuck around for the sake of the ‘university experience.’
The people who were serious about a relationship were either his friends, already in a relationship, or just not Iwaizumi's type.
Suga had tried to ask him on multiple occasions what his type was, in an attempt to set him up but Iwaizumi couldn’t really say he had one. Every time Suga introduced him to someone, Iwaizumi's type would change to be the opposite of whomever Suga tried to set him up with. He didn’t need his roommate messing around with his personal life.
He had enough of that with his friends. Matsukawa and Hanamaki had been trying to set Iwaizumi up as well, much to his chagrin. He realized that if he just gave their attempts a chance, they would likely drop the subject but he was stubborn to a fault and persistent all on his own.
“Do you believe in aliens?” he asked Suga in an attempt to change the subject.
Suga gave him a disbelieving look before his face turned contemplative. “Aliens, huh?” he asked, more to himself than Iwaizumi. “I don’t know, I guess. I mean, it’s pretty arrogant of us to assume we’re the only life force out there in a place that’s immeasurable by distance,” he said honestly. “But if there were aliens, I think they’d find us too boring or too destructive to ever come in contact.”
Iwaizumi wasn’t sure if he should have been annoyed or shocked by the thoughtful answer. Honestly, he was feeling a little bit of both at the moment. He hated to admit it, but Suga’s answer… kind of made sense – logically, anyway.
But the idea of aliens was just so ridiculous and childish. “But that’s like believing in Santa Claus,” Iwaizumi defended. “Obviously it’s too surreal to actually exist.”
“Hey,” Suga said, throwing his hands up in defense. “You asked me my opinion and I gave it to you. I’m not about to dive into rhetoric on the existence of aliens at 11:30 pm on a school night,” he shook his head with a laugh. “Or ever,” he added as an afterthought.
Iwaizumi furrowed his brows. Was he the only person who was sane around here? Maybe he’d ask Matsukawa and Hanamaki their opinion. While they did have a penchant for odd humour, they could be logical and reasonable if they wanted to be…
Iwaizumi's phone vibrated, breaking him out of his thoughts about his friends. He turned the tap water off and reached for the towel to dry his hands off before he could check his phone, but Suga was far quicker than he was. In an instant, he had fished out Iwaizumi's phone from his back pocket and hit the screen, the display lighting up with the arrival of a new text.
Thankfully, Iwaizumi had been conditioned by his snooping friends to make sure the messages stayed private until he unlocked his phone but the display name was something that he couldn’t hide.
“Oikawa, huh?” Suga asked. “No wonder you didn’t wanna tell me who kept you out late,” he hummed, tossing Iwaizumi his phone. “Seems like you’re pretty close.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” he demanded.
Iwaizumi couldn’t be angry even if he wanted to be. At this point, he was regretting his decisions to ever involve himself with Oikawa. Only an hour of actually speaking to the guy and he was already at the forefront of Iwaizumi's troubles.
He scowled, nudging Suga with his shoulder just hard enough to jostle him but Suga took the action in stride, waving goodnight and retreating to his bedroom.
Iwaizumi looked down at his screen and didn’t even have to unlock his phone to know what Suga had meant by close.
Really, Iwaizumi should have seen this coming with Oikawa's bubbly – annoying – attitude. Right at the top of all his other notifications was a message from ‘Oikawa-kun (｡♥‿♥｡)’ much to Iwaizumi's chagrin.
“Goddammit!” he shouted.
He heard Suga’s laughter from his room echo against the walls at Iwaizumi's annoyance. Iwaizumi should have checked his phone after Oikawa had given it back to him, but how was he supposed to know that a perfect stranger was going to be so familiar with him? Didn’t this guy know anything about etiquette?
He quickly put in the passcode, unlocking his phone to see what the hell it was that Oikawa wanted from him.
[Subject: aliens exist]
From: Oikawa-kun (｡♥‿♥｡)
>> Iwa-chan !!!
>> look at this video
>> tell me you don’t believe now I dare you !
Iwaizumi cursed and clicked on the link Oikawa had provided. What the hell, it was almost an hour long? No way. No fucking way. Iwaizumi had far better things to do with his time than watch a terribly edited video on the existence of aliens.
He clicked Oikawa's contact information, edited the name to ‘Shittykawa’ instead, took a screenshot of the change, and sent that image back to Oikawa as a response.
The flood of messages he received in protest was pretty amusing, even if Iwaizumi felt juvenile for laughing at Oikawa's distress. But if Oikawa was going to insist on giving him a stupid, childish nickname then he was going to have to deal with Iwaizumi's own nickname for him.
That night, when he tucked himself into bed after changing and brushing his teeth, Iwaizumi blamed it on the effects of a long day and a lack of functionality in his brain when he picked up his phone and clicked on the stupid link Oikawa had sent him once again. This time, he watched it all the way through instead of just checking the link and exiting out.