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Abhorrence, Loathing, Contrition.

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Hinata danced around Kageyama with a huge smile on his face, he leapt foot to foot carelessly despite his exhaustion from the match. It barely phased him. "Bakageyama, Bakageyama! One more, one more, Bakageyama! Bakageyama, nice kill!" Kageyama's fingers curled and his frown deepened, he made several grabs for the shrimp and missed each time even though he could have caught the little beast easily. Kageyama, holding back... nothing was more infuriating to his eyes. He couldn't take his gaze off the small middle blocker.

Iwaizumi almost couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Hey, who does he think he is! No one else is allowed to talk to Kageyama like that!" Oikawa seethed, "Why does he let that shrimp push him around? What's so special about him!" Iwa could see the deep, intense expression on his face. It was one with which he wasn't familiar, Oikawa wasn't mad or jealous he could tell. It was too intense for desperation. Or was it, that he wanted something?

"Is it Kageyama?"

"Eh?" Oikawa pulled a face, utterly confused by Iwaizumi's blatant and random question. "Come again?"

"You want something." He stated blandly, Oikawa felt discomfort under Iwaizumi's unyielding stare. His expression seeped into a surprised scowl, Oikawa tugged at the collar of his uniform and turned back to where Hinata pestered Kageyama. "Can't say that I do." He followed the bounding redhead with his eyes until he saw Kageyama's foot hit the shrimp's back with such force it brought him to the ground. He felt something come over him, sharply. It lingered.

"He's on their team now you know, Shittykawa. He's not your toy anymore." He shook his head, carefully styled brown hair barely shifting, "You're wrong."

"Why am I wrong?" Iwaizumi was being strangely serious today. "Because you're stupid, dummy!" 

His head snapped in the other direction so Oikawa wouldn't see his face. His lip trembled and he could feel the heat in his face, he hated when Oikawa made that face. Winking with his tongue out like that. What a terribly flippant thing to do. Normally he would be pestered and made fun of for his embarrassment, when Oikawa took a moment too long to come on the attack he allowed himself to peek at the other third year. He didn't like what he saw, he didn't like the way his gaze was fixed on Karasuno's first year.

Infuriating, that Oikawa was so careless he could find time to stare off at some kid he just met. Iwaizumi wondered what his intent might be.


The room was oddly quiet and tense with them occupying it together. He couldn't honestly tell when exactly it had changed, he'd like to say that. It wasn't true though, Oikawa knew exactly when it had changed. For just a moment his movements stuttered and he paused, his arms were still tangled in his shirt within his hesitation. When he noticed his own mistake he moved quickly, stripped his shirt and tugged his jersey over his head. He turned his back to Iwaizumi, leaned over his bag in the corner to hide the heat that seeped into his face from his fellow team mates. He could almost swear he felt Iwaizumi's eyes boring into him but when he had shoved his folded uniform into the sports bag and stood stiffly to face him, Iwaizumi was preoccupied with others players who annoyed him. A horrible, cold feeling erupted in his chest, it made his throat tingle in a discomforting way. Guilt, he guessed? Shame, he decided. Was it because he might have given away Iwaizumi, was it because he had assumed Iwa-chan would eat up the sight of Oikawa's skin, or maybe it was his sheer self-interest that made that feeling hunch his shoulders and turn his stomach. Oikawa walked into the gym ahead of Iwaizumi, he wondered if the rest of the team noticed the air thinning when the tension left with him.

At the end of their practice game, Oikawa wanted to throw himself off a bridge. His heart felt like it was climbing up his throat and he dropped to his knees out of sight, near the school building. What a stupid thing for him to do, to rile Iwaizumi the way he had. The practice match wasn't anything serious, just between the team but when the first set ended Oikawa couldn't hold back his anxieties. He felt like he had been boiling in his skin, every serve, every toss, every block- none of it had gotten better. His feet felt sluggish and he remembered how their team had been torn down during past official matches with Shiratorizawa. Every failure hurt him a bit more, made him a bit worse. He was so focused on what he was doing, what he wasn't doing, that he hadn't noticed that others could see and hear what was happening to him. "I caaan't!" He had screamed into the empty bathroom, his chest heaved and his legs wouldn't stop shaking. It was stress he had never experienced before to this extent. Third year, this was his last chance. He was going to blow it.

Of course, though, the empty bathroom wasn't empty long enough for him. Iwaizumi followed behind him almost the moment he had left the gymnasium, not that Oikawa had noticed he was being tailed. "Why are you being like this?" Iwa-chan asked sternly, "Now's not the time for you to be an idiot. Some captain you are." Iwaizumi knew the moment Oikawa turned to face him that he had misspoken. Tooru had a white-knuckle grip on the counter, his eyes showed how scared and lost he was. He looked so different than his usual smart-ass demeanour, with all the pain and fear shown on his face like a window to his thoughts. Like this, Iwaizumi thought his heart might stop. He willed himself not to react at all to Oikawa's strange state. "I can't do it, Iwaizumi," He quirked a brow at the formal address of his own name on Tooru's tongue. "I'll never get there. It's not enough." Oikawa's doe eyes turned to his own reflection. If he hadn't been so shocked at his own expression he might have flinched.

"What's not enough?"

"This... all of this. The practice. Every year we've fought our way as far as we could, and every year..." His throat hurt. He could remember Ushijima's face. Expressionless, like his victory was effortless. He remembered his own rage. Now, that fire felt as if it were burning out. "I've come this far to beat Ushijima Wakatoshi. I'm a failure, I keep forgetting myself. Forgetting my team."

"Then stop forgetting us." Iwaizumi stated coolly as if it were the simplest thing. "Stop comparing yourself, we'll take down Shiratorizawa when we get to the Spring Tournament Finals." Oikawa slumped against the sinks, discouraged and tired. Iwaizumi took a moment to consider, before taking a few steps towards Tooru. "Next time, you'll outdo him. You've got more positions at hand, you've got more resolve. You're built like a champion, and we're your team."

"You're lying." Iwaizumi sighed, "You're right, I am, but even if you're not born to win, you've got- er, the team." His slip up wasn't missed. Iwaizumi's mouth tasted sour. "We'll break him. And the rest of Shiratorizawa will fall at your feet." He knew his words were too confident, too brazen, but he kept talking. Oikawa pays him no mind, he may be a shitty person but never had he directly ignored Iwaizumi before. A pang of desperation hit him, he opened his mouth again. "I... I'm sorry. I don't know how to fix this- you. I hate this, I hate the way you look and how you're feeling. So... so shut up about it! Get over it, you're not done yet! You've done it before!" Iwaizumi held back tears. He couldn't read Tooru's expression anymore.

Oikawa's lip trembled, he hated the way that anxiety seemed to settle into his arms and legs, deep into his bones. He hated that he wanted so badly to do just that, get over it and step past this small roadblock, as if it were nothing. Instead, he felt like it was him who was nothing- he might have disappeared if he weren't team captain and if he didn't force attention to himself. He wondered briefly if Iwa-chan resented him for it ever, he couldn't shake the idea that maybe he hadn't had a second thought about Oikawa in the first place. His shoulders slouched, before he realized what he was saying in the face of his childhood friend and co-captain the words had already left his mouth. Iwaizumi stared hard, had it been so easy for Oikawa to forget what had happened and it's relevance?

"Why do you care? What's in it for you anyway?"

Iwaizumi felt in that trivial moment that Oikawa was making some kind of joke of him. Was he so easy to forget? Had Oikawa dismissed him so easily? He knew that his advances had been sourly rejected, even if he had hoped maybe it was for fear of change and not true adversity between them. Hearing these words from Oikawa held a certain weight within him, a deeper ache that he couldn't have denied if he had tried his very hardest to distract himself from it. It was harder to hear than when they had last 'addressed' how Iwaizumi felt, though it had been a surprise to them both.

"Get out! Get out of here Iwaizumi, right now!"

Iwaizumi grasped his shirt and grit his teeth, he squeezed his eyes shut so he wouldn't have to see Oikawa's face this time. "Because I-! I have feelings for you!" His words were unsteady, there was no use in trying to hide the hesitance they portrayed. "Iwa-chan, you shouldn't make fun of me right now," Oikawa couldn't help being apprehensive. He didn't want to hear these words from Iwaizumi, not now and he never wanted to hear them again. "I'm not making fun of you, you idiot! I'm being serious," Iwaizumi snapped, he clenched his hands into fists to conceal the trembling in his fingers he could barely conceal. "You're lying. Stop it Iwa... Iwa-chan." Oikawa took a step away from the sinks and turned to face Iwaizumi, the expression on his face was one that dug deep into Iwaizumi, it twisted his stomach and hurt his chest. He didn't stop talking though, he refused to give Oikawa the satisfaction of letting it go this time. When he had so clearly cast from his mind what had happened last time their argument got too heated. He didn't plan on acting on that impulse here, however, he would make Oikawa hear him loud and clear. "You can't keep denying everything I have to say! Love is a stupid thing, and I don't think that I feel it for you but... I care for you more than I should. I want you, more than I think I should- I just... want you close to me. All the time and I hate when you get girlfriends and I hate it more when you lose them and you..." He sounded like a dramatic girl, Iwaizumi was aware of the comedy of it. He had never spoken to his best friend this way before, he'd never had the intention to speak to Oikawa this way before. He found it more fulfilling to keep that kind of thing hidden as he had been for so long.

"You're a liar!" Oikawa's face is red, he couldn't tell if it was anger or embarrassment that drove the team captain to look that way. It may as well have been both. He stiffened, then tried to pass Iwaizumi to leave the washroom. He wasn't given the opportunity and stepped in front of Oikawa, blocking his escape route. "Listen to me," He snapped, Oikawa took a step back, clearly uncertain of Iwaizumi's proximity to him. He glanced to the bathroom door. "I'm gay, Oikawa. Gay. Surely even with your thick skull, you can process that much." He scoffed, Iwaizumi could feel a cold tingle in the back of his neck and his upper back, it made him want to hike his shoulders up to his ears but he resisted the impulse. "I've made my peace with that, okay? So make peace with what's troubling you too, dammit!"

Oikawa huffed indignantly and clenched his hands into fists, he still passed glances over Iwaizumi's shoulder to the door. His only escape route. He could have called for someone but something was holding him back from doing that. There was so much pressure on him that he barely felt he could breathe, it was an effort to keep a steady stream of air through his lungs. It burned, the air around him. He felt as if something inside him was boiling, it made him want to say things he shouldn't and do things he shouldn't. "You're the only thing that's troubling, Iwaizumi! You're a monster, some pervert- saying these things to me in a bathroom and trapping me here! You're the one who is going to destroy the team, not me!"

He was stunned, there were no words at first. Any nerve he had left him, he just stared at Oikawa. He didn't recognize the look of defeat and regret in his eyes. Iwaizumi averted his eyes and thought carefully about what to say. "You're right, if anyone found out..." He bit his lip, Oikawa visibly flinched at the soft tone of his words. "I would have to leave. No one would have any respect for me anymore. No one would care. They'd want me gone. You can tell the rest of the team if you want, I won't make any effort to stop you. But, if you're going to..."

"Think carefully about what you want. Be okay with the honest answer. Once you say something you can't take it back." They had never seen each other so helpless before, in all their childhood years by each others' sides. It stirred something in them that left the air in the bathroom thick and tense. The silence felt that it had lasted for too long and Tooru's reservations began to dissolve while he considered how to proceed. Indecision flitted from his mind and he strode towards Iwaizumi, who only looked up to meet Oikawa's eyes, strictly decided. He shoved Iwaizumi hard, he felt his back hit the wall but instead of running past him to tell their teammates like he had expected Oikawa stepped into him and forced Iwaizumi's wrists against the wall to keep him there. Tooru hesitated, at that moment Iwaizumi could have headbutted him and left quickly so he wasn't here when the team heard of his treachery. The look of decisiveness that marked Oikawa's typical sadistic and selfish nature kept him from doing that. He wanted to see what would happen.

Chapter Text

Oikawa clasped his hands around another hot cup of coffee, his fingers shook and he had been spacey all day. Iwaizumi would probably have said that wasn't much of a change, in it's own way though, it was. He was quiet, that was enough of a hint to those around him that something was wrong. Hanamaki sat across from him and stared at him with what he could only have compared to morbid fascination- eager to get a front row seat to the train wreck that was Oikawa's life at that particular moment. He was waiting for another crash, apparently. Oikawa scoffed internally, it would be just like his friends to revel in the times when Oikawa Tooru crashed down to earth. It wasn't like anything particularly crazy had happened. It wasn't-- crazy-- was it? He curled his fingers around the paper cup tighter and took a tentative sip. He probably should cut back on his caffeine intake, at that point it didn't seem to matter. He probably should, he probably wont. It was a phrase that was relevant to many things in his life. "Hey now, what did that cup ever do to you?" Hanamaki quirked his brow when Oikawa met his expression with surprise. "What do you mean?"

"You're looking at it like it ruined your childhood or something." Oikawa's surprise quickly turned back into an aimless frown of disapproval. Hanamaki took a sip of his own coffee and waited for Oikawa to give him some sort of sass for his comment. He doesn't make any snarky remarks, so Hanamaki set his drink down and leaned further into the table. "Captain, what's got your eccentric little head so out of focus?" Oikawa tilted his cup from side to side and felt the contents slosh back and forth, he set it down and tapped his fingers across the top in a form of finality. He titled his head and attempted to gather a semblance of his thoughts to give some kind of convincing explanation. What kind of explanation could he give Makki that wouldn't out Iwaizumi...? Scratch that.

What could he tell Makki that wouldn't out him.

It had become a bit more complicated than it was a week ago, he'd dragged himself into Iwaizumi Hajime's mess and now that mess had become his own too. Sort of. It was complicated, he amended to himself, but he knew an answer like that would never get by Takahiro. Somehow, he wondered how Makki hadn't already picked Iwaizumi out. Oikawa himself was very observant, but Hanamaki had always noticed things moments before he had. It had taken Iwaizumi coming out to him for Oikawa to put two and two together. Then, what twos had he been putting together after all? He had managed to make terribly skewed assumptions that probably made Iwaizumi uncomfortable and feel unwelcome near him, because of something he didn't know for years. But it had been there for years, it had been there for years and not once had Oikawa had anything to say until he knew. Then, it had been years hadn't it, maybe Makki already knew? No, he would have made a bigger deal of it. Hanamaki didn't look particularly impatient, just bored as usual. Like he couldn't care one way or the other, even if Oikawa chose to ignore him. It was the kind of guy Makki was. He wouldn't let Oikawa forget that he had picked up on his out of character behavior, though, so it was probably best that he just cave and admit something to keep Makki off his back. Until he could, maybe one day he would, give a real explanation.

White lies, that's what he needed. Something close to the truth, that wouldn't name Iwaizumi specifically. That, he could do. He was capable of that, and he could make it believable too. "I'm just... having some relationship problems." He admitted hesitantly and took another sip of his coffee, cooled to a drinkable temperature in the quiet moment he took to think. The gentle crease between Hanamaki's brows disappeared, Oikawa wouldn't have even noticed the slight frown if it hadn't changed. He nodded, Makki seemed indifferent to the subject but as if humoring him, he asked, "Do you think you'll lose another girlfriend? Is that it?" Oikawa shook his head, glancing quickly at his phone for the time. "No," He stated firmly, "It's not really a... break up kind of problem." Hanamaki pushed his cup forward and crossed his arms over the table. "What did you do?" Oikawa turned a glare on his friend, his fingertips pressed together gently from around the cup in front of him. "Why do you assume it was me?" Makki quirked a brow, a silent 'as if it wasn't?', and Oikawa didn't answer to that.

"Ah, I started something I shouldn't have. And I don't really know what I feel about it." He leaned on his elbows, took a sip, and swirled the coffee in his mouth while he thought. "I feel like I'm playing some trick."

Makki seemed surprised, a very slight change in his expression. He leaned back in the chair across from Oikawa and looked away from the brunette's curious gaze. "Is this a sex thing? This is a sex thing isn't it?"

"What?" Oikawa floundered, sputtering. "What makes you say that?"

Makki shrugged, still avoiding eye contact, "Just tell her you're sorry. I'm sure she'll forgive you, your fangirls always do."

And, he did the stupidest thing he thought he'd ever done. He corrected Makki. "God, they're not one of my girls, I really don't think apologizing is gon- gonna," He realized his mistake and stuttered, eyes going wide he forced the end of his sentence out in a quick breath, "is gonna fix everything." Makki turned his chin and stared hard at Oikawa. Like he was trying to bare a hole into him, or like he was plotting just how to pick him apart. It wasn't at surface-level threatening, but it had Oikawa scared. "Maybe, then, you should just stop being a shitty person." He spoke after a long and uncomfortable quiet. If he wasn't mistaken, he might say that Hanamaki looked... nervous.

"Did I say something?" Oikawa asked hastily, he didn't want to, but if he didn't comment about it Makki would surely know he was avoiding. "You don't look right. What's wrong?"

"Ah," Makki shrugged, "relationship troubles. Like you."

"Makki has a girlfriend! And I haven't met her?!" He practically squealed, latching onto the topic when given the chance. Hanamaki looked horrified. "Who is it? Do I know her?"

"Hey! Keep it down! No! I, I mean..." Hanamaki glanced around quickly, and leaned forward to seize his cup of coffee again, "No, you don't." Oikawa sat up straighter and flicked his hair out of his eyes, a comfortable smirk on his face. "Oooh, is she a college girl? Are you going to bring her by the club?" He gasped, feigning offense, "Has Iwaizumi met her? I can't believe you'd betray me like this-" Hanamaki suddenly stood, flushed from his neck to his ears, "Shut up, shut up Oikawa! Stop!" He raised his hands, taken aback by Makki's outburst, "Okay, okay."

Hanamaki let out a tired sigh and sat back down, shuffling his chair closer to the table, embarrassed as a few of the coffee shop customers nearby snuck glances at their commotion. "It's nothing like that... I'm not really-" He cleared his throat and wiped sweat from the corner of his jaw, it was a warm day and the shop's AC wouldn't be run for another month or so, leaving the small restaurant uncomfortably warm. The things they do for their favorite coffee. "We're not, together." Oikawa nodded, he placed his hands flat on the table as a sign of contrition and waited for Hanamaki to continue. When he didn't, Oikawa prompted, "What relationship problems then, if there's no relationship...?" Makki twisted his expression, he gnawed on the inside of his cheek while he considered quietly, and Oikawa let him take all the time he needed. Makki didn't often confide, he wasn't about to ruin that. They had a good thing going. "Well, it's..." The word 'complicated', like Oikawa had considered earlier, drifted silently between them, "-I want there to be. A relationship, I mean. I think we both do."

Oikawa shook his cup in one hand, feigning half-interest, to test the level of its contents, "So then if you do, then why isn't there one?" He peered from under his eyelashes up at Hanamaki, then tilted his head back to finish off his drink. That pesky word almost slipped from Hanamaki's mouth again, Oikawa could tell from the way he had opened his mouth to reply right away, then closed it and took a moment to think longer about his answer instead. 'Complicated', what does that really say anyway? "We don't think people would approve."

Oikawa nodded. He understood that. Probably too well. He knew that even though he could relate to it, the one who probably would get it most of all was Iwaizumi, and briefly had the mind to pity himself and think, That's who Hanamaki should be here talking to, not me. Thinking about it, thinking about his own situation, thinking about Iwaizumi, Oikawa felt himself grow restless. He began to seethe. Before he knew what he was thinking and before he could filter himself, he spat, "Well who cares if people approve? It's not People's relationship, anyways." Hanamaki was just as surprised as he was, cup half to his mouth his fingers twitched against the lid. He gently lowered it back to the table and set it down, gaze intent on the cup. "Captain... I really don't know if you'll understand." Oikawa Tooru was admittedly very confused at that. "But I hope you do." He flashed Oikawa a shy smile, he stood and took his cup, throwing his bag over his shoulder and he checked the time quickly. Oikawa pushed back in his chair but stayed seated, only offered a tight lipped smile in return. "I'll see you at club."

Oikawa watched Hanamaki thread between a small but growing line of customers at the till, while his thoughts ran rampant. What if being gay wasn't such a bad thing? What if, for all they knew, Iwaizumi could just be who he was without being afraid. He really was afraid, wasn't he? He remembered the way Iwaizumi's hands and voice had trembled. His eyes screwed shut as he spat the words he had been holding back, that he had spent years in fear of. No, that wasn't right. The words themselves were only an admission, he was afraid of Tooru. Iwa-chan was probably afraid of just breathing in general, by this point. Oikawa had been there for him to confide in all their lives and he had refused to promise to keep his secret. He felt like somehow this realization should make him sympathize or something, maybe pity Iwaizumi, instead he still felt bitter about it. Then, he was like Iwaizumi too now, wasn't he?

Oikawa stared at the lid of his coffee cup, silent in the bustling coffee shop, people walking by him now and then. There was a weird numbness to his fingers, he clawed thoughtlessly at the seam of the cover he'd slipped the paper cup into to protect him from the, at a time, burning hot coffee. One thought in particular, he caught and latched onto. He felt a slight bit of shame, but quickly he brushed away the guilt, setting in hard on that thought. It had been brief, but he shoved away anything else to focus on it, he refused to think further into something he found to be so ridiculous. "Does it even count?" He uttered aloud to himself, a slight and subtle sneer pulled at his expression, a deep frown set in his eyebrows, It's not like I really care about him that way, or want him. It's just... necessity. Resolved to this new ideal, he spurred himself on. It wasn't what he wanted, just what he had to do. That was all. Iwaizumi could trust him, he wouldn't be able to trust anyone else like he trusted Tooru. They'd been best friends pretty much since birth, at least Oikawa always said so, it was just a favor between friends. A favor, favors, he'd make Iwaizumi pay him back with all the milk bread he wanted anyway. If he were adverse to it, he wouldn't have practically thrown himself into Iwaizumi's arms in the first place. Thinking about it again made his stomach turn, maybe it was just a topic best avoided in general.


When Oikawa saw Iwaizumi again was at practice, he seemed happy. Genuinely without any underlying concerns, happy, it justified whatever Oikawa had to do to make it that way. He subconsciously bit his lip, caught himself staring and turned his head away. He pulled at the collar of his jersey and titled his head back, enjoying the cold rush of air across his sweat-saturated skin. His heartbeat was quiet, but definitely present, at the back of his head, beating away from his exertion. Iwaizumi's glow faded as he approached Oikawa, concern and anger covered his smile and replaced it with a tight-lipped frown. Of course marked with the usual deep furrow of his brow. Oikawa dropped into a crouch and braced his fingertips against the floor to rest for a moment, he anticipated Iwaizumi's lecture.

A moment later, Iwaizumi dropped into a crouch beside him, forearms braced on his knees. The concern overwhelmed the anger in his expression and he only gently shoved Oikawa's shoulder, "Hey, take a break dumbass. If you fuck up your knee you wont be able to play at all, you know?" His voice was stern, but ended soft. Like speaking to an injured animal, Oikawa mused, then he quickly realized that he may as well be one. Oikawa laughed it off, pushing back up to his full height. "Iwa-chan, I already have a mom!" He turned a smug side glance to his best friend, eyes narrowed and sharp, "You've met her, she's nice." Iwaizumi narrowed his eyes and stood back up stiffly, he shoved Oikawa harder than the first time. "You're right, Shittykawa, she is nice. So how come you're such a trashy guy? Surely it hasn't anything to do with how she brought you up." Oikawa smiled and shook his head, he scooped a ball from the cart and gently spun it between his fingers. "That's so rude, Iwa-chan." He stuck his lip out in a pout, but let it fade quickly after Iwaizumi scoffed. "Let me toss to you?" He asked hopefully, sincerely. Iwaizumi regarded him with that same worry from before for a moment, then let his reservations slip away with an exasperated sigh, "I guess."

Iwaizumi stepped away from the net to give room for a roughly estimated run up, set his feet wide and his arms poised for the receive. Oikawa moved to his spot by the net with the usual skip in his step, and lobbed the ball into the air towards Iwaizumi. He easily bumped it back towards Oikawa, nice and high, and waited to start his run up. His last foot hit the floor as Oikawa's fingers met the ball, he sent it up in a small arch and Iwaizumi spiked it deftly to the other side of the net. Iwaizumi buzzed with satisfaction and Oikawa only smiled with his usual pride. Nothing new, but he thought it was endearing how Iwaizumi still felt the same rush from a well performed spike in practice as he did in play. Oikawa stewed in his jealousy of that for a moment, if Iwaizumi had seen his pout before he flashed his usual smug grin to cover it up, he didn't make any attempt to point it out.

Iwaizumi watched Oikawa stride back to the cart of volleyballs with a fond expression, it made his skin crawl a little. He couldn't place it was a bad feeling or a good one. Oikawa tossed the ball up again, without thinking he said, "Do you think one day, it'll be enough?" Iwaizumi's carefree and endeared expression turned sour and suspicious. "What are you on about?" He grumbled, standing limply across the way while Tooru made his way to his spot on the floor. Oikawa paused, embarrassed that he'd said his thoughts out loud without thinking them through all that much. The tips of his ears felt warm. He smiled softly, underhanding the ball in Iwaizumi's direction. "All the practice, I mean." Iwaizumi lunged for the ball that fell slightly short and it turned into the air, he immediately stumbled back to ready himself to step into his stride. "I always feel like there's something I'm not doing, something more I could be-" He leapt to catch the ball before it could go over the net, the bump too aggressive sending it higher than Iwaizumi had wanted. "-doing!" He struck it with his fingertips and spun it into the perfect toss for Iwaizumi. He leapt into the air for the spike, distracted from the conversation momentarily, he struck it with all the force of his frustration. Oikawa winced, thinking that the ball probably hadn't deserved that today. Iwaizumi hit the ground hard.

"You're doing everything in your will," Iwaizumi huffed, he sent a sharp glare Oikawa's way. "Which is an annoying and troublesome amount. So get over it."

"Iwa-chan why do you always mask the nice things you mean to say about me with insults like that?" Oikawa pouts again, lunging forward before Iwaizumi can move away from him, and caught his arms around Iwaizumi's shoulders. He pushed most of his weight onto his best friend's shoulders and sent Iwaizumi stumbling, he set his feet wider apart to support the sudden extra weight, "Get off me right now, Shittykawa! Dumbass!" He hollered, trashing against Oikawa's grasp though it had little meaning to it. If Iwaizumi had wanted to, he could have thrown Oikawa off easily. He didn't though, and it was just another game of their usual banter. "I swear Oikawa, if you injure me too-" Oikawa squawked, Iwaizumi's elbow met his chin in a short jab. He released his arms and let Iwaizumi scramble away, whining loudly, "Iwa-chan! Don't elbow me! You could ruin my beautiful face, and then I'd look like you, with your ugly caveman face, and couldn't get any dates!" He ran his fingers across his jaw as if it were bruised. It wasn't. "You don't seem to mind my caveman face," He snapped, it didn't have much weight as a retort. Iwaizumi strode back to Oikawa, still grumbling and clutching at his face. Iwaizumi knew he was probably just fussing as usual and being melodramatic, but he still felt a bit of guilt turn his stomach. Oikawa held grudges to the end of time, so if he had hurt him and Iwaizumi didn't properly make sure it was nothing, he'd probably suffer for it tirelessly.

Iwaizumi shot Oikawa an exasperated glance and tentatively curled his fingers around his pale wrists to gently tug them from Oikawa's face. Oikawa looked down at him, confused. Iwaizumi peeked over Oikawa's rough and calloused fingertips, his jaw seemed fine enough. It was a bit red but definitely not forming a bruise, it turned paler pink as time went with him staring. He gently pressed his fingers against Oikawa's jawline, turning his head a bit. He could feel Iwaizumi's breath against his neck, warm, it sent a chill down his spine. After only a short glance to make sure no one was paying particular attention, Iwaizumi brushed his lips against Tooru's cheek, and muttered a 'sorry' before he stepped away. Oikawa wrinkled his nose in discomfort, he glanced around cautiously just to ensure no one had noticed, most of their team mates had headed back to the club room already, the coaches both gone and only Matsukawa, Kindaichi, some of the non-regulars, and Hanamaki still remained. Not one of them said anything or met his gaze, wrapped up in their own practices, so he exhaled a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding and let himself feel relieved. Then, suddenly, he felt agitated.

"What the hell?!" He hissed under his breath to Iwaizumi, he chucked the nearest volleyball at him, which he caught easily. Irritation made clear, Oikawa stiffly threw the gymnasium keys at Iwaizumi and headed for the door, "I'm going to the club room," He announced, practically jogging out the door. Iwaizumi didn't follow him, only quirked a brow in curious concern and stayed put, key held loosely in hand. When Matsukawa shot him a questioning glance, Iwaizumi only shrugged and slid below the net to join him and Hanamaki.

Oikawa still waited as usual, though he had decided to finish his practice early, by the front gates for Iwaizumi. They'd always walked home together. They could have a serious fight like when they were in first year, but at the end of the day they lived right next door so they still walked home. One would wait for the other at the gates of Aoba Johsai, kicking at the ground anxiously, afraid of confrontation. They'd silently fall in step, avoiding each other's eyes. Then, halfway home, Oikawa would think of something stupid to say to make Iwaizumi laugh. And it would work. Oikawa would whine about Iwaizumi not taking him seriously, and he'd laugh even harder- half forced, to egg Oikawa on, and he'd whine at a higher octave to annoy Iwaizumi. Oikawa would give up, falling into an effortless soft laugh caught on by Iwaizumi's contagious one, until they were both quiet. They'd make it home, Oikawa would turn towards his door and flash a peace sign and a smile, "See you tomorrow Iwa-chan!" Iwaizumi would shout back, "Don't stay up too late!" And then the door would close behind him and Oikawa would face his quiet home, greet his mother, and go on with his day without Iwaizumi.

Most of the time. Unless he texted Iwaizumi twenty one-word texts to annoy him into occupying his time.

Now, things went a little differently.

Oikawa stood, shoulders hiked up and leaned against the gate, waiting for Iwaizumi. The crowd of students from the after school activities and sports filtered out until only the occasional faculty drove off now and again, and then Hanamaki and Matsukawa left together before Iwaizumi showed up. His deep skin was flushed from the exertion, a slight sheen of sweat across his face. It wasn't as noticeable as the ruddy color that still settled in Oikawa's face from practice, but he admitted it was attractive on Iwaizumi. Iwaizumi could clearly tell Oikawa was upset with him, he didn't straighten up when Iwaizumi walked near. Just leaned against the gate and narrowed his eyes that way, that way that told him he'd taken serious offense to something. Iwaizumi stepped towards him, the toes of their shoes almost touching. "Are we going to talk about it?" That was new. That was different.

Iwaizumi looked reserved, almost cold. He could have played coy, said 'Talk about what?' but something held him back. Had he really been that bothered by it? He was even surprising himself. Iwaizumi waited patiently for him to say something or respond in some way, after a long silence he did. "Why'd you do that?" He said bluntly. Iwaizumi's brow furrowed in confusion. Oikawa only crossed his arms and waited, while Iwaizumi leaned towards him, one hand stuck out to support himself against the gate. "Did it bother you that much?" Iwaizumi muttered, face much closer to Oikawa's now. His skin tingled and he turned his face away from Iwaizumi. "What if someone saw?" He snapped, "You're going to get me in trouble." Iwaizumi exhaled through his nose and averted his gaze to Oikawa's shirt, it had been a selfish thing to do but he really hadn't thought Oikawa would be so bothered. He smiled, fond. "You get yourself in trouble all the time." He muttered. Oikawa snorted, Iwaizumi's hard stare softened, he raised it from the focused spot he chose on Oikawa's chest. He raised a hand to Oikawa's cheek and pressed gently, he turned to face Iwaizumi again. "Hey..." He coaxed gingerly, "I'm sorry." His voice is sincere, and Oikawa feels guilt sit heavy in his stomach not for the first time since this arrangement started. He didn't fight it when Iwaizumi leaned in to catch his lips in a soft, apologetic kiss. Oikawa just stood in discomfort, an anxious tingle ran across his shoulders and the back of his neck. He forced a smile as genuine as he could manage to make it seem, Iwaizumi didn't seem to entirely buy it, so he added, "Iwa-chan, if you really want to apologize, you should just buy me my weight in milk bread."

"I'm not doing that, dumbass," Iwaizumi quipped without hesitation, he pulled away and started off towards their usual route. Oikawa fell quickly into step, a light skip between his strides. It was a force of habit really. Oikawa still felt mildly perturbed, he kept it to himself. He tried not to let Iwaizumi see it. Their walk home was in relative silence until Iwaizumi started into him about practicing too hard again, that he'd get hurt if he did, and then whatever practice they did really would never be enough. "Yeah yeah, Iwa-chan," Oikawa chimed, he brushed off Iwaizumi's lecture. "Dumbass," Iwaizumi hissed, they turned onto their street. Oikawa slowed slightly when they reached his driveway, but when he looked up to Iwaizumi, he sent him that gaze. 'You coming or what?', it said. Oikawa glanced helplessly toward his front door, as if begging internally for his mother to step out and berate him for leaving the kitchen a mess that morning before he went off to school. She didn't, so quickly Oikawa stepped back up to Iwaizumi's pace. Unease swept his nerves, made worse by the anxiety that followed Iwaizumi's next words. "My parents are out at this business dinner tonight, if you wanted... to chill, or whatever." It sounded innocent enough, but Oikawa knew it for what it was, an invitation. He's gonna owe me a lot of milk bread, Oikawa stated to himself internally. It wasn't an offer he had the option to refuse, so Oikawa just flashed a nervous grin and nodded.

Iwaizumi held his hand out to Oikawa and he took it. He gingerly curled his nimble and pale fingers between Iwaizumi's thick ones, he felt all the callouses of years of their lives dedicated solely to volleyball. Since they were kids. Iwa-chan turned to lead him into the Iwaizumi household, Oikawa mourned quietly to himself.

But they weren't kids anymore. So why did Oikawa feel so much younger, so much more naive, so inexperienced, so lost, in this situation?