Hajime has lived through seven summers when he falls in love with the sunset.
Legs tired after a long day of bug catching, he sits right at the top of the hill near his house, the wind blowing through the grass beneath him. It’s a clear view of the sunset up there, the waves overlapping the shore as the rays turn from orange to blue, reflected against the water. Hajime breathes in the smell of salt, the way it tastes on his tongue. It’s relaxing, and his shoulders lose their tension as he uses his palms to lean slightly backward.
He exhales quietly, listens to the sound the ocean makes as it sings its goodbye to the sun, the end turning into a greeting for the moon in its place. If there’s anywhere in the world he’d wish to stay in forever, it’d probably be here, in this moment. He watches as the colors blend against each other, pinks and oranges turning into a deep, dark shade of blue. He feels at peace, somewhat, even if there’s not much troubling him to begin with.
Hajime stays there, until the sun is no longer there and the moon is shining brightly on him. He sits there for a while, watching the waves ripple against each other, a riptide curling to the left. Crickets begin to chirp softly, and a firefly comes out to land on his arm. After a minute or two, Hajime takes this as his leave to go home.
He’s spent many afternoons like this already, on the hill watching the sun disappear through the ocean. He wonders if he’ll be doing this for the rest of his life. He’d like to, if he could. Maybe he could spent the rest of his life chasing after the sun, right before it leaves him for tomorrow. Running after it, watching it leave, and knowing it will be there when he wakes up the next day. Hajime is a boy of seven, and he’s fallen in love with the sun.
He meets Oikawa Tooru two months later.
The very first time Hajime meets Oikawa, it’s in the forest, the world a blur of earth and sky, hidden away from the rest of the kingdom.
He is walking quietly, bug-catching net slung over his shoulder, glass jars tinkling together in his hands. They’re already empty, and he’d caught only a handful of insects that day before releasing them again. It’s peaceful, and he likes watching the leaves sway in harmony, the bird chirping softly over his head. He likes it almost as much as he likes watching the sunset.
He stops when he hears sniffling coming from his right, the leaves crinkling. Hajime walks toward the sound, careful and slow.
“Hello?” he calls out. When he gets close enough, he finds a small boy, crouched next to a tree, hands covering his face. “Are you—are you okay?”
The boy looks up, eyes red-rimmed and glassy, nose pink with snot coming out. “No,” he mumbles out, and he isn’t looking at Hajime. “I’m lost.”
“Oh,” Hajime says. “That’s okay. I can help you get home then. I know the forest pretty well, since I go looking for bugs all the time.”
The boy’s face scrunches up. “Why would you go looking for bugs? They’re gross.”
Hajime crosses his arms, offended. “If anything, you’re the gross one here. You’re such an ugly crier.”
“Mean!” the boy says, sticking his tongue out.
Hajime only rolls his eyes. “Well? Are you coming or not? Let’s get out of here before it gets too dark.”
He stands up hesitantly, wiping at his face with his shirt. Hajime can see him a little better now. “Okay.”
“Where do you live, by the way?” Hajime asks.
“Near the big hill,” the boy answers. “It’s a bit near the ocean, too.”
“Hey, that’s where I live!” Hajime says. “I’ve never seen you around before, though.”
“We just moved,” the boy tells him. “My dad told me the names of the neighbors, but I can’t really remember. I think there was Isa—no, Iwa—”
“Iwaizumi!” Hajime finishes for him. He points to himself, grinning. “I’m Iwaizumi Hajime.”
The boy looks at him carefully before brightening up. “I’m Oikawa Tooru,” he saus. “You know what this means, don’t you? Now that we’re neighbors?”
“We’re going to be best friends!” Oikawa bursts out, beaming. “You and me, Iwa-chan!”
Hajime rolls his eyes again, and ignores the nickname. “Come on,” he saus, as tugs on Oikawa’s wrist. “Let’s go home already.”
Oikawa’s smile is blinding, but Hajime can’t seem to look away. “Okay, Iwa-chan,” he says. “Let’s go home.”
He quickly learns that Oikawa is nothing but a nuisance and a pain to be with. He’s clingy and whines like a baby about everything, he drags Hajime outside to play all the time, he’s loud and annoying, and he always steals the good parts of Hajime’s lunch. One time, he’d forced Hajime to practice some ball sport with him and they spent the day out in the rain so they both caught a cold, and even though they were both sick, Oikawa had snuck into Hajime’s room to apologize, and they lied on the bed together, making up stories until their mothers found them asleep. Oikawa is terrible, and Hajime has no idea how he got stuck with him for the last two years.
But he’s also Hajime’s best friend, and that also means that he knows him better than anyone.
“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says, poking Hajime’s side to gather his attention. “Iwa-chan. Let’s go outside already.”
“I’m almost done,” Hajime tells him, swatting Oikawa’s hand away. The boy pouts, and resorts to tapping his foot impatiently on the floor. “If I don’t clean my room before we leave, my mom will never let me out again.”
“But you’re taking so long, Iwa-chan, we’re going to be late!” Oikawa whines. “We’re going to miss the fireworks!”
“The fireworks are two hours from now, at the very end of the festival,” he reminds Oikawa as he settles one of his action figures on the table. He spreads his bed sheet out to remove the wrinkles before looking around his room. It’s still a bit of a mess, but it’s the best he can do. “Okay. I’m done. We can go now.”
Oikawa grins at him brightly before wrapping his fingers around Hajime’s wrist and tugging him out of the room. They both say goodbye to Hajime’s mom, who showers them with kisses and a promise to follow afterwards, and then they’re off to the festival.
“I’m so excited, Iwa-chan! They say the food stalls will be better than last year’s, you know, so you’re gonna have to buy me some of it,” Oikawa tells him with a teasing smile. His fingers find Hajime’s hand, and he laces it together. This isn’t anything new, since they hold hands all the time—Oikawa has a tendency to get lost really easily, so of course Hajime has to make sure that they’re always together in case—and he only tightens his grip as they walk into a thicker crowd of people.
Hajime rolls his eyes. “You brought money of your own, didn’t you? Pay for your own food.”
Oikawa’s smile doesn’t falter. “But as my best friend, you have to buy me something!”
“No, I don’t.” He kicks at a rock, and watches it tumble away. “I already bought you food last year. It’s your turn.”
“Just one candy apple then,” Oikawa says, and he bats his eyelashes at Hajime. “That’s all I’m asking for, Iwa-chan.”
“Fine,” he says. He sees the bright lights of the festival up ahead, and he pulls at Oikawa’s hand a little stronger before breaking out in a run. “Come on!”
Oikawa yelps, but he matches Hajime’s pace easily. He’s laughing, voice caught by the wind, and Hajime’s run only slows down a tiny bit when he tries to watch the colors move across Oikawa’s face, red blooming across his cheeks to meet yellow and orange and purple. He looks like the sunset.
“Iwa-chan, look!” Oikawa says, pointing to one of the stalls to their far left. It’s one of the gaming stalls, where the prizes seem to be stuffed toys. “We have to try that! Win me something, Iwa-chan!”
Hajime rolls his eyes, but he lets himself be pulled to the stall anyway.
He doesn’t win the big stuffed bear Oikawa wanted, but he gets him a little keychain with a weird-looking fish instead and Oikawa seems to love it all the same. They go from stall to stall after that, eating and playing and betting who can eat candy apples faster (Hajime wins, and he even buys Oikawa two candy apples so he wouldn’t mope; Oikawa smiles right back at him, sticky and sweet). They run into some of their other friends, but it’s mostly just the two of them, hands still held together to prevent being taken away by the current of people coming by. He doesn’t want either of them to get lost.
Half an hour later, the space near where they’re standing clears, and a small band stations themselves at the front, carrying out a lively tune. People gather right at the center, laughing as they begin to sway to the beat, friends and family alike. It’s almost magical.
Then Hajime feels something poke his side, and Oikawa is looking at him, eyes bright and excited, wide with happiness. Awestruck, at the scene before them.
“Dance with me, Iwa-chan,” he says, a little breathless, and he doesn’t wait for Hajime’s answer before he’s bringing him along and dancing to the song.
He already knows that Oikawa isn’t the best dancer, but the look on his best friend’s face has him moving to the beat as well, unafraid and just a little more happy than he should be, because it doesn’t feel like anyone’s watching—it’s just the two of them.
When they finish, they watch the fireworks together as promised. Their families come by, too, and Oikawa and Hajime sit side by side on the grass, watching as the heavens split into breathtaking colors before them.
It’s one of the best nights of his life.
Hajime is fifteen when he is given a sword and told to fight. Now, most of his days are spent training, practicing punches and kicks and tactics to disarm the enemy. His palms become calloused, rough from overuse, and his legs find familiarity in aching from where his bones lay tired. There are bruises that are scattered on his skin now, some faded and others new, deep purple that trace his arms and legs. They say they need to be ready for a war, that they’re training boys like him in case something goes wrong, and Hajime lets himself roll with it. He doesn’t mind too much, he likes being able to fight, and he rolls with the punches that come his way.
Oikawa seems to enjoy it, even more than Hajime. He takes it seriously, and he practices even after training, early in the morning all the way to late in the night. Hajime tries to scold him for it, because training so much isn’t going to help you, Trashykawa, you’ll only hurt yourself more. And sometimes Oikawa will listen, sometimes he’ll let Hajime take him back home, will let Hajime take his sword away and run ice over his bruises. Other nights aren’t so lucky, when it’s practically by force that Hajime drags him away to go home and get some rest, and it’s on those days that Oikawa’s eyes are darker and his face paler from their usual healthy color. He looks more tired, those days, and Hajime wants to be able to help his stubborn best friend more than anything. It’s a cycle that’s only wearing him out, and Oikawa is a sun that is burning away to quickly.
It’s past midnight when Hajime finds him in the arena, his sword held out in front of him as he swings it in the air, too quick for the eyes. Hajime rolls his eyes, and if he had been anyone else—if he had been someone who’d never seen that maneuver get practiced a hundred times, he’d have been taken aback by the accuracy, the precision, the timing. But he is not just anyone else, he is Oikawa’s best friend, and he knows exactly how to counter that move.
So without much thinking, he grabs one of the extra swords by the side, and moves quickly, his sword clashing with Oikawa’s at the very last second with the right amount of force. Oikawa’s sword falls to the ground.
Oikawa’s eyes widen as he stares at Hajime. “Iwa-chan,” he breathes out, shaky. He looks nervous at being caught, a hand coming to run through his hair. He smiles weakly, not quite reaching his eyes. “I was just about to leave, I swear.”
“No, you weren’t,” Hajime retorts, and he lowers his sword, smug and satisfied with the way he’d countered Oikawa. “You probably would’ve stayed and wouldn’t have noticed until it was already morning.”
Oikawa doesn’t reply to this. He keeps his eyes trained on the ground.
Hajime rolls his shoulders, and lifts his sword back up. “Well? Come on. We’re already here, we might as well practice together.”
Oikawa looks up then, eyes wide. “I—what?”
He snorts, and moves to the proper stance. “Come on, Oikawa, you gonna fight or what?”
Then, slowly, Oikawa’s face breaks out into a smile, and he picks up his own weapon from the ground. “You ready to lose then, Iwa-chan?”
Hajime grins. “You wish.”
He lunges forward first, but Oikawa dodges easily, stepping to his right with grace. Oikawa laughs, before trying to kick at Hajime’s feet, and remains undeterred when that doesn’t work. Hajime already knows that Oikawa is much better that him when it comes to fluidity, to being able to predict his opponent’s movements, but he’s always been a little more practiced when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Hajime parries Oikawa’s next move, their swords ringing together as they collide. He feels the vibration move up his arms. The thrill moves against his heartbeat.
He aims for Oikawa’s side once more, but he’s quick to move, and he spins easily before lunging at Hajime. Oikawa is smirking at him, his hair plastered to his forehead by sweat, and Hajime wants to wipe off that look on his face. He shifts his grip on his sword, glares at Oikawa, and sidesteps his attack before beginning another of his own.
“So slow, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa teases.
“Shut up,” he says.
They move quickly, in sync even if they’re opposing each other. It’s almost on pure instinct now, sparring with Oikawa, and he moves quickly to counter and attack, looking for holes in Oikawa’s defense. He’s practiced a lot, too, and he comes close when the top of his sword grazes the air next to Oikawa’s arm.
He looks at Oikawa’s face again, and there’s a small smile on his face, pleased with himself. It’s the genuine kind, Hajime realizes, the type that Oikawa reserves for himself (and more often than not Hajime too), and it strikes him that this means that Oikawa is happy. He’s happy, and Hajime wants nothing more than to make sure he feels like that all the time. If he tries harder, maybe he’ll be able to make Oikawa smile like that more, and maybe he’ll also be able to press his own lips against that smile, too—
Hajime freezes for a second, and that becomes the golden opportunity for Oikawa to kick Hajime’s feet from under him. He falls to the ground, and Oikawa’s blade is poised to his neck. Oikawa is grinning above him, genuine and real and proud.
In that moment, Hajime thinks he would like to kiss him.
Something clicks in his brain, and he feels the ground moving beneath him.
“Do you yield, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa says.
He nods. “I yield.”
Oikawa removes his blade from its position, and holds a hand out for Hajime. He takes it, dusting his pants as he gets up. Oikawa lets go, but Hajime’s hand still feels warm from the contact.
“Come on, let’s go home,” Hajime says, and his head is spinning a bit, but these thoughts can wait until he gets home and out of proximity of Oikawa. “We’ve been here too long.”
Oikawa hums as they walk back home, obviously pleased with himself for having defeated Hajime. He allows himself one look at Oikawa, the stars glinting overhead, a perfect backdrop for him. He looks otherworldly, and Hajime finds it incredibly unfair that even when he’s sweaty and bone-tired, Oikawa still manages a way to look beautiful.
“So,” Hajime grunts out, looking away unscathed with only the faintest blush to get away with it. “Why were you out so late, anyway?”
He knows that chances are Oikawa will wave this away, chalk it up to just how he needs more training even when he’s the best in their group. He’ll tease Hajime instead, deflect until he thinks it’s safe and Hajime has let the topic go.
But instead of that, he surprises Hajime by simply shrugging his shoulders and saying, “Have you ever met my mom, Iwa-chan?”
Hajime looks at him curiously. “No,” he says hesitantly, unsure of where Oikawa was going with this. “No, because you just live with your dad, don’t you? You’ve never—you’ve never mentioned her before.”
“Right.” Oikawa hums again, but his tone is too light and Hajime knows that whatever it is isn’t too easy for Oikawa to say. It’s too strained at the edges. It isn’t like him. “And there’s a reason why. I found out today why she was never around. You’ll never guess, Iwa-chan.” He smiles, but it’s all wrong. It’s not like the smile earlier—this one leaves something heavy in Hajime’s stomach.
“Why?” he manages to say.
Oikawa looks him straight in the eye. “She’s a goddess, Iwa-chan. That’s why she’s never home. I met her today, and you know what she told me?”
A goddess. Oh, that makes sense. Somehow, there’s always something that’s been different about Oikawa. A hint of something brighter inside of him. When Hajime doesn’t speak, Oikawa takes it as his cue to continue.
“She told me that I’m going to become the greatest hero,” Oikawa says, but his tone doesn’t feel quite right because—shouldn’t Oikawa be happy about this? Isn’t that what he wants? The fame, the glory, the attention? He’d told Hajime once, when they were younger, that he wanted to be a hero. So what’s wrong?
“Isn’t that what you want?” Hajime asks carefully.
And Oikawa smiles at him again, twitches, small and sad. “Yes. That’s what I want, Iwa-chan,” he says. His face turns sour then, his words twinged with bitterness. “But she also said that being a hero—it means no personal connections. No distractions, no friends, no love.” He looks at Hajime at that last word, before looking away quickly, the tips of his ears red.
“And Iwa-chan…” he trails off.
“And that’s not what you want at all,” Hajime finishes.
“Right,” Oikawa says grimly. “Because if I can’t have personal connections…”
Then I can’t be with you. Oikawa doesn’t say it, but it’s clear to Hajime’s ears that this is what he means.
Before he can overthink this, Hajime slips his hand in Oikawa’s. He looks at him, startled, but Hajime just squeezes it reassuringly.
(He doesn’t think about they haven’t really held hands like this, not since they were nine.)
“You don’t have to listen to her,” he says quietly. He can feel Oikawa staring right at him. “I mean, I know she’s a goddess—that’s what you said, right? But in the end, I think it’s up to you. If you think that you can be the greatest hero and have personal connections, then that would be a good way to prove her wrong, wouldn’t it?”
They’ve stopped walking, and Oikawa is just looking right at him, his gaze unmoving and unrelenting. Hajime tries not to look away, either.
Then Oikawa slumps forward, wrapping his arm around Hajime, burying his head into the crook of his neck. Hajime holds him by his waist, gentle but tight.
“I can’t lose you, Hajime,” Oikawa murmurs, and his breath is hot against Hajime’s skin. It sends shivers down his spine.
“Don’t be stupid,” Hajime says softly. “I’m not going anywhere.”
They stay like that for a while, the moonlight on their backs. It feels nice, Oikawa so close, and Hajime isn’t sure if it’s because it’s just nice to be with his best friend or if it’s something else entirely. If his earlier thoughts while sparring had been any indication, it just might be the latter.
He shrugs these thoughts away. Right now, Oikawa needs him, Hajime the best friend, not some dumb, lovestruck fool.
Slowly, Oikawa lets go. His eyes are glassy, but Hajime chooses not to comment on that. Oikawa’s always been an ugly crier.
“This…this doesn’t change anything between us, right?” Oikawa says hesitantly, his fingers coming together as he refuses to meet Hajime’s eyes. For a second, he almost thinks that Oikawa already knows—that he’s understood Hajime’s own feelings before he himself did. “Me being half-god? It doesn’t change anything, right?”
Hajime doesn’t think twice before taking Oikawa’s hand again. “Of course it doesn’t. You’ve still got that terrible personality of yours, don’t you? I don’t think godhood could ever change that.”
“Mean!” Oikawa says, but there’s a ghost of a smile on his face. Hajime breathes in relief at the sight. He’ll take what he can get. “You’re so mean to me, Iwa-chan. I’m higher than you now.”
Hajime elbows him. “Shittykawa,” he says flatly.
And Oikawa only hums in amusement, swinging their hands together, higher and higher. He laughs, and Hajime decides that it’s the best sound he’s ever heard.
“Good night, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says once they’ve reached their adjacent homes. “Try not to miss me too much.”
Hajime only rolls his eyes. “Good night.” He doesn’t leave until Oikawa’s inside his house, and he fights off a laugh when Oikawa waves to him from his bedroom window.
Only once he’s in his own room does Hajime let himself wonder what it means to want to kiss Oikawa.
Before Hajime had turned seven, his father had taken him to an Oracle to learn his fate.
The woman had taken one look at Hajime, closed her eyes, and murmured something under her breath. When she opened her eyes again, she only said one thing.
“It will be by sacrifice,” she had said, looking at Hajime with a guarded expression. “A sacrifice for the one you love.”
Hajime has lived sixteen summers when he realizes that he’s in love with his best friend.
They’re watching the sunset together, and Hajime has his knees pressed to his chest, Oikawa next to him. The colors are mixing, and the sun is a bright orange that implants itself into his brain, unmoving with hopes to be unforgotten. It still tastes like the sea on his lips, the salt in his hair, the grass beneath his toes. He feels calm, and he closes his eyes for just a moment.
He is still in love with the sunset.
And maybe he’s in love with a boy like the sun too.
Sometimes, Hajime feels as though he’s constantly chasing after Oikawa, the same way he’d chased after sunsets as a kid. It feels as though he’s always trailing two steps behind, with Oikawa tugging him along. He’s grown up following the sun, and he continues to run after it, after a person this time around, hoping that the colors will blend right just for him and the fates will align the stars in the night. He just keeps on falling, again and again and again, and sometimes it feels like he’s getting a little closer to touching the sun. He’s almost there. He’s going to reach it, he will.
(He only hopes he won’t be burned in the process.)
Hajime looks at Oikawa, at the way the colors fall on his face and turn him ethereal, godly but human even more so. He looks so at peace, with his head tipped back and his eyes closed. He looks happy, and positively content with the world around him.
“The sunset’s pretty today,” Hajime finds himself saying, turning his attention back to the view before them. It’s better if Oikawa doesn’t catch him.
“Yeah,” Oikawa says quietly.
Hajime expects him to continue with another prideful statement, with a Pretty just like me, don’t you think, Iwa-chan? but it never comes.
Hajime turns to face him only to find that Oikawa is already looking at him, with a strange sort of smile on his face, one that Hajime can’t quite read, despite being well-versed in the various faces Oikawa makes. But it’s fond, somewhat, the way Oikawa is looking at him, and it spreads warmth all over his body.
I’m in love with you, he wants to say. I think I have been, for a while now.
Instead, he takes Oikawa’s hand, and holds it there, refusing to look at his best friend’s face as he did so. His tongue tastes a little like longing instead of salt now, and he bites his lip to keep a confession from tumbling out of his cowardly mouth.
He squeezes Oikawa’s hand, still not looking back. This would have to be enough for now.
(But if he had looked, he would find Oikawa looking at him with wide eyes and a satisfied smile, the stars in his eyes brighter than the ones soon to come out.)
They are seventeen, and a storm is approaching. Hajime is on his very first mission, a simple scouting one with a team of ten, Oikawa right by his side. All they’re supposed to do is watch and record, take down any movement that seems out of the ordinary or hostile. They’re near the opponent kingdom’s ground, closer to the border than Hajime’s ever been in his entire life. It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at once.
Oikawa calls it boring.
“This is boring, Iwa-chan,” he says, resting his chin on Hajime’s shoulder. Hajime sits in front of him, binoculars in hand. It’s their shift for the hour in the watchtower. To be truthful, it is kind of boring, but it’s also their very first mission and if they do really well at it, they might be able to do more exciting ones. He tells this to Oikawa, but he just huffs, blowing air into Hajime’s ear. “I’m bored. We haven’t done anything all day.”
Thunder rumbles in the sky, and rain is to soon follow suit. Hajime brings the binoculars up to his eyes again, looking for anything different, but it’s all the same. He sighs, and looks back at Oikawa.
“Just one more day,” Hajime tells him. “And then we get to go home, alright? So just suck it up ‘til then, would you?”
Oikawa grumbles, and he moves away from where he rests on Hajime’s shoulder. Hajime almost wants to pull him back, yearning for the contact and the warmth. “Hey, about that,” he says. “Iwa-chan.” Oikawa pokes his side.
“Yeah?” Hajime turns to his side to look at him, and what he finds is a bit startling.
Oikawa looks nervous. His eyes keep flickering from place to place, and his fingers are coming together to knot and detach themselves over and over again. His face is slightly flushed, too, pink tinting his cheeks and his ears. He won’t look at Hajime, at least not directly.
“Are you busy? When we get home tomorrow?” Oikawa asks hesitantly.
“No, I don’t think so,” he answers. His mom might want him to help her with a couple of things when he returns, but other than that, he can’t really remember anything he planned before leaving. “Why?”
Oikawa exhales once before finally meeting Hajime’s eyes. “If you want, we could go get dinner—”
Thunder rumbles, lightning strikes, too quickly and too loudly. Oikawa yelps, and Hajime startles, dropping the binoculars.
Hajime huffs out a wheezy laugh before settling in again, and he teases Oikawa for being such a scaredy cat.
“I wasn’t scared! If anything, you’re the one who—”
“You’re shaking, idiot. What do you mean you weren’t scared?” Hajime says, laughing. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you that afraid since you saw that spider in your bathroom—”
“It was one time!” Oikawa argues, face heating up quickly. “Iwa-chan!”
“No, it wasn’t,” he says. “You’ve made me kill spiders a thousand times because you’re too chicken to do it yourself, Shittykawa.”
“Again with the name calling? Really?”
“You call me Iwa-chan all the time.”
Oikawa scoffs. “Iwa-chan is a name of love and affection!”
“Right,” he says dryly. “That’s what it is.”
Oikawa pouts and crosses his arms. “So mean, Iwa-chan. I thought we were best friends.”
“Honestly, I don’t know how we are either.”
“It’s okay, you might hurt yourself by thinking too much.”
Hajime doesn’t hesitate in pinching his arm.
“Ow!” he exclaims. “What was that for?”
“For being annoying,” he answers simply. “So really, for being you.”
“What did I ever do to you, Iwa-chan? I have been nothing but a loyal, trustworthy best friend, and this is what I receive in return?” Oikawa falls on top of him, placing a hand on his forehead dramatically.
Hajime grins, and decides to take this opportunity that Oikawa has given him. With a decade worth of friendship, it’s only given that Hajime knows all of the spots where Oikawa is vulnerable and terribly ticklish.
He aims right for the back of his neck, for his sides, and for the very center of his stomach. Oikawa becomes a laughing mess, and Hajime shifts so now he’s above Oikawa, relentless and unstoppable. Between fits of laughter, Oikawa keeps trying to swat his hands away but it’s not working, and now Hajime’s laughing, too.
He stops when he loses his balance and slips forward, hands coming between Oikawa’s shoulders to steady himself. And—oh.
Oh, because Oikawa’s face is now just inches away from his own, close enough that he could count the sprinkling of freckles across his nose if he wanted to, close enough that he can see the shadows that Oikawa’s eyelashes make. Close enough that he could kiss Oikawa, if he wanted to.
(And he does want to, so hopelessly and so desperately, that he almost does.)
“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says breathlessly, and Hajime feels like the wind has been knocked out of his lungs.
It would be so easy, just to lean a little bit further—
Thunder rumbles once more, and this time rain comes down with it.
Hajime blinks, and pulls himself back to reality. A reality where he cannot kiss Oikawa Tooru because that would mean something could change between them, and Hajime’s not sure if it’s the good or bad kind and he’s not so sure he wants to risk it.
“Sorry,” he mutters instead, and he doesn’t look Oikawa in the eye until he’s sitting upright on his own, the space between them a heavy guard against the confession waiting at the tip of his lips.
He’s trying not to replay the earlier events in his mind because that would mean imagining the greatest what if, which is where he kisses Oikawa, and he doesn’t really know if he could handle that while his best friend is right there. So, instead, he takes the binoculars and pretends to be doing his job. It’s a little harder now, with the rain pouring down. He doesn’t let it slip past him that Oikawa has remained silent this whole time.
“Oh, yeah,” he says after minutes have past, trying to ease the tension in the air between them. He manages to force himself to look at Oikawa, hair still a bit of a mess after their tickle fight. It’s adorable, and Hajime sort of wants to kick himself for thinking that. “What were you going to say earlier? Before the thunder came?”
“Oh,” Oikawa says, blinking at him slowly. “I was—uh. Never mind. Just forget it.” His gaze doesn’t meet Hajime’s eyes, and he keeps picking at an old scab on his arm. His eyes look sad—dejected, maybe. Hajime decides to drop the subject. Whatever Oikawa was going to ask, if he really wants it, he’ll ask again.
He watches as Oikawa’s hands rub against each other, each one shaking. He’s shivering, Hajime realizes.
“You’re cold,” he points out, and Oikawa looks at him again.
He holds his arms close his chest. “No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are,” Hajime grumbles. He walks over to where there’s supposed to be spare materials. He takes the blanket out of the box, and tosses it to Oikawa. For a boy so tall, he looks so small, curled up in the corner.
Hajime isn’t sure how near he’s allowed to be, so he sits by the window, far enough that Oikawa can have the space he wants, his back turned to Oikawa. His arms come up to cover themselves, and damn it, the rain really made it a lot colder than it should be.
“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says softly, and it surprises him. “You’re cold, too. Come here.”
Hajime turns around to look at him, and Oikawa is holding up the left side of the blanket, an invitation to sit by him.
“But we need to keep lookout…” he tries to say.
“Do you honestly think anything’s going to change?” Oikawa deadpans, and Hajime knows it’s useless to argue against him.
“Okay,” he says, and he settles on Oikawa’s left, the shared blanket coming around his arms. In an instant, he’s filled with warmth.
Hesitantly, Oikawa tilts his head to the left, almost as if he’s not sure if he’s allowed to.
“Go on,” Hajime says, and he reaches up to guide Oikawa’s head to his shoulder.
“Thanks, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa whispers, his head resting comfortably on Hajime’s shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah,” he says. “Go to sleep. I’ll wake you up in fifteen minutes.”
Oikawa barely stifles a yawn. “You promise?”
Hajime tries not to smile. “Yeah, I promise.”
Oikawa had once told Hajime that heroes don’t get happy endings.
That they live their lives on the way to a tragedy, hoping for a painless death but receiving otherwise. The stars don’t align on them just right, and the wind carries their fate whichever direction it likes. No matter how many people they save, no matter how much good they do, no matter how many lives they change—it all ends up in the same, twisted way. People mourn a good hero, and they’re forgotten with enough time, just another name in another story. There is not a single hero out there, Oikawa had told him, that received a happy ending.
“Which is why I’m going to be the first,” Oikawa had said to him, solemn and proud and serious. And Hajime knows that Oikawa is a boy bred to be a hero, adjusted over and over again to perfection, polished with delicacy. Trained towards the goal of heroism. “And you’ll be there, Iwa-chan.”
And he had looked at Hajime like he’d hung all the stars in the sky and stayed to watch the galaxies grow. “You’ll be the reason why.”
Hajime is furious. He is incredibly angry, his fingers are twitching, and he feels like his head is going to explode. Irritation crawls up his skin, and he wants to scratch it out, but it stays there, digging in deeper until he feels like bleeding. He is annoyed, very much so, and he hates it.
“Oi, Oikawa!” he yells, and he’s storming right up to his best friend, hoping that he looks just as angry as he feels because the idiot deserves to feel even just a bit nervous. “What—the—fuck?”
“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa squeaks out, suddenly looking too small in his own skin. “I’m glad to see you’re all healed up.”
Hajime doesn’t say anything, and instead he takes Oikawa’s wrist, ignoring the whine that comes out of his mouth, dragging him outside to the gardens, the starlight twinkling down on them.
“What’s going on, Iwa-chan? Shouldn’t you still be resting?” Oikawa asks, but he audibly gulps when Hajime turns to look at him again, a full-forced glare. “I—uh—I take it that you’re mad at me for something.”
“I’m pissed, Oikawa, what the hell,” he hisses, crossing his arms. “You’re right, I should be resting, but I’m here instead—and don’t pretend you don’t know, you know fully damn well why.”
“I do,” Oikawa admits softly, gaze cast to the ground. “I know why, but Iwa-chan, I had to. I don’t understand why you’re so angry I saved your life.”
“That’s exactly it!” he says, rubbing at his temple. He can still recall the memory, so clear still. Oikawa jumping in front of him at the last second, ready to take a hit. “You saved my life by putting yours at risk. We’re lucky that neither of us got too hurt this time. I don’t—Tooru, you can’t just do that!”
“And why can’t I?” Oikawa asks, and he draws himself up, a little more courageous and voice a little louder. “Why can’t I? What’s so wrong with risking my life for my best friend?”
“Because you’re important!” Hajime exclaims. “You’re important to the team, to the army, to me! And I don’t know what the hell I’d do if you died for me! You’re going to become a great hero, you said, but you can’t do that if you’re jumping into battle without thinking the moment harm comes my way! This isn’t the first time, Oikawa, you know that.”
Oikawa shakes his head, stubborn. “You and I both know it’s also not going to be the last. I don’t want to lose you, either, Iwa-chan! I don’t think I could—I don’t know how I would live knowing you died and I was right there, but I didn’t do anything to help—”
“But you might have to! There are plenty more people out there who need saving, who need protecting, you can’t just—”
“What kind of hero would I be, Hajime,” he says, solid and grounding, eyes piercing right into Hajime’s own, “if I couldn’t even save the person I love the most?”
“I—” he falters, and he feels the anger leaving him all at once. Because of course Oikawa loves him, he knows that, but—the most? Surely, that might just mean—
“I love you,” Oikawa says softly, and his eyes are no longer electrifying, they’re fond and warm and the right shade of brown Hajime has learned to find comfort in. “I’m in love with you, Iwa-chan, and that’s exactly why I can’t lose you.
Hesitantly, Oikawa takes Hajime’s hands in his own, intertwining the fingers on both hands, tugging him a little closer.
Hajime wants to say something, but his mouth is dry and his tongue feels hollow, and the words are right there, the confession ready to finally leave his ribcage, if he could just speak.
Oikawa is smiling at him, that same strange smile from the day they watched the sunset, from the night they sparred under the moonlight. And a warm feeling settles into his stomach, and somehow, that gives him a little bit of strength.
He can feel Oikawa’s grip on his hand lessen, the smile quickly fading away and his face falling, and Hajime can only imagine Oikawa’s thought process right now, and it must feel terrible for him because Hajime hasn’t said anything yet after he’d just poured his heart out. He thinks he’s being rejected, Hajime realizes all at once. But he’s not. He’s the farthest thing from that.
So Hajime holds his hands a little tighter, and Oikawa’s eyes flicker back to focus on his face, widening by just a fraction in surprise.
And before the courage can even begin to slip away from him, he says, “Can I kiss you?”
Then Oikawa smiles, that small, genuine one, and he laughs softly before coming closer. “I’ve been waiting years for you to ask me that, Iwa-chan.”
“Sorry, I took a while,” Hajime says, pressing his forehead against Oikawa’s. “Hope you didn’t mind waiting.”
“Anything for you, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa whispers, his breath ghosting over Hajime’s skin, leaving it to tingle.
Then Oikawa kisses him, and Hajime never stood a chance. The kiss is soft and sweet and tastes a little bit like the sea. Like home.
Hajime smiles into the kiss, and decides that he’s never been happier.
Just when Hajime thinks he’s done falling in love with Tooru, that it’s reached its peak, he falls in love all over again. And it’s stupid and dumb to be in love with a boy who can’t even kill spiders but claims he’ll be the greatest of them all, but all he has to do is turn and look at Tooru, who’ll smile at him, bright and earnest, and he’ll remember exactly why he chooses to fall in love all over again.
It isn’t easy, it never has been with Tooru. He’s stubborn and prideful and hell bent of tiring himself out without realizing. He does things that are annoying sometimes, like distracting Hajime when he’s doing something important or dragging him along to go to buy some milk bread when all Hajime wants to do is stay at home, but in the end he doesn’t really seem to mind too much. Not when Tooru cares for him just as much as Hajime does for him, when he holds him close on bad nights or when Tooru places a blanket over him when he’s cold but doesn’t want to admit it. Nothing really changes between them after, they’re still best friends who bicker and tease—but they also just find it easier to breathe when the other’s around.
“Promise me something, Iwa-chan,” Tooru says. They’re lying on the grass on the hill, just like the many times before, except this time it’s morning, on a clear, sunny day.
Hajime hums in response, his hands fiddling with a small flower, knotting the stem. “As long as it’s nothing stupid, sure. But then again, when do you not say anything stupid?”
“Mean,” Tooru huffs, pretending to sniffle. “I thought you’d be nicer to me, you know, now that we’re dating and all.”
“You thought wrong then,” he says, and he picks up another flower to knot. “Do I not shower you with enough love and affection?”
“That’s debatable,” Tooru answers, and Hajime elbows him in the ribs. He laughs airily, as he pulls himself up, choosing to sit instead. “But promise me something, won’t you?”
Hajime rolls his eyes, but sits up too. “What is it?”
Tooru takes his hand, and squeezes it once. He looks up at the sky. “Promise me, Iwa-chan. Promise that the wind won’t change on us. That we’ll be like this all the time.”
“That’s a lot to promise,” he says, and Tooru’s face falls, just a bit. Hajime shakes his head, and squeezes his hand. “But yeah, okay. I promise. I won’t let the wind change on us.”
Tooru smiles in relief, and Hajime wraps an arm around his waist to pull him closer. Tooru leans his forehead on Hajime’s shoulder, sighing contentedly.
“We’re leaving again tomorrow,” Hajime says quietly. When dawn breaks tomorrow, they’ll be boarding a ship to travel far from home, to a kingdom they’re allied with that needs help. “We’ll be fighting against Ushijima’s men. Don’t do anything reckless when we’re there, okay?”
“Don’t be silly, Iwa-chan.” He grins up at Hajime, pressing a soft kiss to his cheek. “What has Ushijima ever done to me?”
It’s fortunate that Hajime’s always been able to pick out dreams from reality.
He’s running, the sky a blood red above him, stray arrows flying all around as he tries to dodge them, his sword unnaturally heavy in his hand. His armor clanks against him as he moves, as though it isn’t his own, and his heart is racing in his chest. But it’s the little things that help him decipher that none of this is real. The way he can’t make out anyone’s faces, the blurred horizon up ahead, the strange way that he’s running away from something unknown. The fact that Tooru isn’t anywhere to be seen.
In ever battle he’s fought, Tooru has always been there right next to him. Backs together or side by side, Tooru’s always been there to cover his edges, to rise when he goes low, the defense to his offense. But he can’t find him anywhere here.
“Tooru!” he yells, but there’s no reply. People are fighting around him, swords clash loudly, arrows whip past abruptly. “Oikawa!”
He’s not here. Why isn’t he here?
His feet are turning to lead. Dread fills his senses, but he has no idea what’s coming next.
“Iwaizumi!” someone yells, and Hajime turns to look but there’s no one he recognizes. The battlefield had turned empty, only arrows and swords left to the earth.
He feels a sharp, searing pain to his back, and then the ground is swallowing him whole.
When Hajime wakes up, the first thing he does is feel for the body next to him, but the space beside him is empty. He blinks, eyes adjusting to the darkness, and his vision confirms it: Tooru isn’t here.
His head is still spinning from his nightmare, and he touches the part of his back that had hurt terribly. What kind of dream was that? He’s had nightmares before, but they’ve never felt that real. He’s never felt that lost before.
He needs to find Tooru now.
His legs are shaking, but he manages to steady himself as he exits their tent, similar ones laid out before him. Torches light his path as he walks around, and he lets the cool air engulf him, waking up his other senses. They’ve set up camp next to a lake, and he walks by the edge, the trees lining up against him.
Hajime listens to the world around him. Somewhere to his left, he can hear someone speaking.
Quietly as he can, he walks to the source, careful not to crunch any fallen leaves as he walks. As gets closer, he wonders where the hell Tooru could be and what he’s doing up so late. If he’s training when he should so clearly be resting, Hajime’s not entirely sure what he’ll do.
Probably hug him first, though, to make sure he’s real.
The voice gets louder, and relief floods his body as he recognizes it to be Tooru’s. He’d know that idiot’s voice anywhere, has heard it for years and misses it when it’s not constant. He picks up his pace, squinting his eyes when he sees a faint blue light from where Tooru’s voice is coming from. Another voice chimes in. He’s talking to someone.
Hajime slows down and stops behind a tree. He listens.
“—can’t do that,” Tooru is saying, his voice on the edge of annoyance. “I think it’s a little too late for what you’re asking.”
There’s the sound of someone clicking their tongue. Hajime peeks behind the tree. There’s a woman in front of Tooru, bathed in a bright blue light, hair dark and long. She looks graceful, gentle, but her eyes are sharp and focused. They almost look like Tooru’s.
That’s his mother, Hajime realizes. The goddess.
“Your fate has already been decided, Tooru. You shall be the greatest among men, and that boy is only holding you back. He is not talented as you are, he is not destined for greatness. He will only die a soldier, and you will be a hero, don’t you understand? I have been telling you this for years—”
“Hajime is all the best parts of me,” Tooru says evenly, loud and steady. “I want you to understand that. I am not leaving him, and I know he won’t leave me. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for him, and I sure as hell can’t be the hero you want me to be if he isn’t by my side.”
“You are making a mistake, Tooru,” his mother says, clearly annoyed. “He will only be your downfall.”
“Then let it happen,” Tooru says. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere in the world without him.”
“Love will only hold you down, there is no use for it, for loving a mortal—”
“Love is something you make bloom,” he tells her, and Hajime knows all the inflections in his voice to know he’s desperately trying not to lose his patience. “And I have grown with him right next to me. I love him more than anything in my life, and I’m not leaving him. You can’t change that.”
Promise me, Iwa-chan. Promise that the wind won’t change on us.
He’d promised, and Tooru had, too. He’s keeping his end of it, by fighting with his mother.
“You will regret it,” the goddess tells her son with finality. “Do not come to me when he ruins you.”
There’s a howling in the wind, and Hajime doesn’t need to look to know she’s gone. He steps out behind the tree, the leaves cracking under his feet.
Tooru turns around at the sound, the surprise written all over his face when he sees Hajime. He looks relieved, his shoulders sagging. “Iwa-chan,” he breathes out, his arms coming to wrap around Hajime. “How much of that did you hear?” Tooru murmurs into his neck.
“Just the end,” he answers, and there’s something warm spreading in his chest as he remembers Tooru’s words. “I love you, you know?”
Tooru laughs, the breath tickling his ear. “I knew you’d fall for my charm one day, Iwa-chan.”
Hajime pinches his cheek as he lets go. “I take it back. I meant it for a second, but I definitely take it back. I don’t know why I’m with you, asshole.”
Tooru only laughs again, and Hajime finds it incredibly endearing.
“Come on, let’s go to bed already,” Hajime says with a yawn, taking Tooru’s wrist. Tooru adjusts the grip so their fingers interlock instead.
“I did mean it, you know,” Tooru says, a ghost of a smile on his face. “Everything I said to her. I have no intention of leaving you, Iwa-chan.”
All his worries from the nightmare seem to disappear with Tooru’s words, and his mind is put at ease. He’s not going anywhere.
“And neither do I,” Hajime says. Tooru beams at him.
“Did you come looking for me when I was gone?” he asks with a smirk. “Missed me already?”
When Hajime punches his shoulder, he only leans in closer for contact.
“How are you so annoying?” he says as Tooru swings their hands together. “Though I guess it’s good to see that your personality’s as shit as ever.”
Tooru scoffs. “But you love my personality!”
“No, because you’re terrible.” He shakes his head.
“That just means you’ve got terrible taste, Iwa-chan,” Tooru sings, throwing a wink at him and squeezing their hands. “Don’t worry, I know everyone loves me, but you’ve always been my favorite. You’re stuck with me forever.”
“Someone kill me now,” he groans, but Tooru just laughs again and it really is the best sound he’s ever heard. He won’t admit it, but forever doesn’t seem like such a bad idea for the two of them.
Tooru places a hand on his jaw, and presses a soft kiss to his lips. “You’ll stay, right?”
Hajime smiles. “Yeah, I’ll stay.”
When he goes back to sleep that night, Tooru curled up next to him, there are no dreams that follow him.
Hajime has lived twenty-two summers when he finds a night he will remember the most.
The fire crackles warmly, a dance of flames upon the wood. It brightens the center of their campsite, illuminating the surrounding tents, as most of them sit by the fire. The night sky is deep and blue, scattered with twinkling stars, blurred only by clouds at small intervals. It’s a peaceful night, one Hajime doesn’t see too often, so he takes it all in one breath, close to his chest.
Most of them sit by the fire, soldiers from their kingdom and a few more from others, and they’d all been called in for all the help they can get. Nekoma, Karasuno, and Fukorodani, all of them as far as Hajime knows, had sent in men to battle with them. They’re all strong armies, so they have a great chance of winning against Shiratorizawa, if it ever comes to it.
Hajime watches as Hanamaki and Matsukawa go around telling false ghost stories, scaring some of the younger men. Kindaichi looks like he’s about to pass out, but Kyoutani remains unfazed, Yahaba clinging onto him for dear life. Kunimi doesn’t look too afraid, but Hajime’s known them all for years now to be able to tell that Kunimi is actually absolutely terrified. He grins at the sight, listening to Hanamaki finish up his story. Matsukawa claps him on the back, wiping away a tear, and saying, “You’re so brave to have told that story.”
From his left, Watari silently hands him another marshmallow on a stick. Hajime thanks him, and holds it above the fire.
“You look so lonely, Iwa-chan,” Tooru says, dropping into the space next to him. “What would you do without me, a constant presence in your life?”
“I’d probably have less wrinkles,” he says, watching Tooru’s face pull into a frown. “Where have you been?”
“Captain meeting,” he explains with a light shrug. Hajime looks around, watching as the other three captains exit a tent the same direction Tooru had come from. “Didn’t get much done, but we might be attacking two nights from now.”
“Okay,” he says, nodding. That seems like a good plan. They’ll have surprise on their side, too, hopefully. “Your knee alright?”
Tooru stretches his leg out. “It aches a bit, but not much more than the usual.” He then looks at Hajime’s face. “I’ll be fine, Iwa-chan,” he says reassuringly. “Don’t worry about me.”
Hajime snorts. “You’re always making me worry about you.”
“That’s not true!” Tooru says, tilting his head. “I can take care of myself just fine.”
“You can’t even kill spiders, Tooru,” he deadpans. “You always make me do it.”
“Because they’re creatures sent from the fiery pits of hell, Iwa-chan,” Tooru hisses. “They’re pure evil.”
“Sure.” Hajime rolls his eyes.
“Hey, hey, look at Tobio-chan,” Tooru says, eyeing the boy in question. Kageyama sits a few feet away from them, closer to people of his own group. There’s a boy sitting between his legs, Hajime notes, with hair almost as fiery as the sun, and Kageyama has his head resting on the smaller boy’s shoulder. The boy says something, laughing, and a smile flickers on Kageyama’s face. “He looks so—”
“Happy,” Hajime finishes.
Tooru shakes his head. “I was going to say annoying. But yes, I guess he does look happy. I don’t like it. Make it go away, Iwa-chan.”
Hajime shoves his shoulder lightly, making Tooru almost fall off-balance. His hand comes to grip Hajime’s arm and he steadies himself back on the log.
“Don’t be mean,” Hajime chides him. “I’ve never seen him that happy before.”
“I mean I guess,” Tooru says, huffing out a breath of air in annoyance. “Looks like that chibi-chan’s good for him, then.”
“Yeah,” Hajime agrees. He watches the rest of the Karasuno army, watching another small boy and a guy with shaved hair run around a taller man with a small beard, laughing loudly together. Karasuno’s captain, Sawamura, who Hajime’s met once before, talks quietly with a silver-haired man by the edge. There’s also another tall, blonde guy sitting together with a boy who has freckles all over his face, and they’re laughing together. They’re a loud bunch, Hajime’s come to know, but they all seem tightly knit, especially when in battle. They move in sync, each and every one of them, and Hajime’s just glad they’re allies.
Nekoma and Fukurodani’s members are loud and unapologetic as they fight for food, stuffing the pieces of meat faster than they can chew. Nekoma’s captain, Kuroo, is placing rice on a plate that belongs to a boy with dyed blonde hair, and Hajime can make him out telling the smaller boy to eat more. Bokuto of Fukurodani is cheery as he rounds on one of his men, a man with heavy-lidded eyes and dark hair, who only looks at him with a half-exasperated, half-fond look on his face. A tall boy with silver hair seems to be getting reprimanded by a much shorter soldier—the best of Nekoma’s defense, Hajime remembers seeing him in action once. They’re both good armies, and even louder as they mix together, laughter filling up the sky.
“This is nice,” Hajime says aloud, his own hand finding Tooru’s. “It’s noisy and chaotic, but it’s—nice. In a way.”
Tooru smiles, and lets out a little sigh. “It makes me almost believe heroes do get happy endings.”
“Dumbass,” he says, bringing up their enjoined hands and pressing a light kiss to Tooru’s knuckle. “You said you would, remember? Don’t fall back on me now.”
Tooru leans against Hajime, head finding the crook of his neck to settle in comfortably. “I know,” he murmurs. “And I’m going to get it. For both of us, Iwa-chan.”
Hajime nods, and the wind whistles a tune in the air. “For both of us.”
“If we take the pass here,” Tooru says thoughtfully, his hand hovering over a portion of the map. “Then maybe we can send Karasuno over by the river, Fukurodani by the hill for a surprise attack with the barricade, and Nekoma can come with us. It might be a bit tight, though, but if we manage to pull it off—”
“Then we win,” Hajime says, moving to stand next to Tooru at the table. “We could move some of Nekoma over with Karasuno just to be safe, in case Shiratorizawa decides to send more men. That is, if Kuroo’s okay with it.”
“He’ll be fine,” Tooru says with a wave of a hand. He bites his lip. “The problem now, though, is what happens if Ushiwaka himself decides to fight too?”
“He’s not invincible, so maybe we’ll just have to see where he shows up, send more men his way if he does,” Hajime says. It’s not the best plan, he knows, and their number of men may be great and their skills varying, but Shiratorizawa hasn’t come this far by lacking in defense and offense. “They say Ushiwaka’s got a weak spot on his shoulder.”
Tooru hums in agreement. “Okay. I’ll go over this with the other captains later, see if we can add more to solidify it. It’s best to attack soon, before they begin to suspect anything.” He turns to Hajime. “You should come.”
“But I’m not a captain,” he points out, and Tooru walks toward him, snaking an arm around his waist.
“So? Kuroo brings Kozume because he’s a good strategist. That means you can come because you’re my right hand man,” Tooru says, winking at him. “Plus, you’ll be able see the plan firsthand.”
“If you’re sure it’s okay,” Hajime says tentatively.
Tooru’s smile brightens. “Thanks, Iwa-chan! Together, you and I can find a way to crush Ushiwaka once and for all!”
“Oi, remember what you said,” Hajime warns him. “No doing anything reckless, especially when Ushijima’s around.”
“Of course,” Tooru says, the smile not slipping once. After all this time, Hajime still think he’s a boy like the sun, burning far too quickly and brightly without proper recognition. “After all, what has Ushijima ever done to me?”
Hajime lets out a breath. He hopes Tooru can keep his promise. He’s prideful, terribly so, and Hajime’s not surely of the lengths Tooru would go just to prove he’s better than Ushijima should they ever meet on the battlefield. Ushijima’s never done anything to them personally, so Hajime hopes it stays that way.
“No reckless fighting, I promise,” Tooru says. “Besides, when have I ever been reckless? I’m always careful, the ultimate picture of beauty and grace, mind you—”
Hajime places his arms on Tooru’s shoulders, and gently knocks their heads together. Tooru goes silently immediately, his face turning pink.
It’s adorable, even after all the years of intimacy, Hajime can still manage to make him blush.
“I’m serious,” he says. “Don’t be stupid.”
“Hajime,” he whispers, and his eyes are wide and unfrightened, so warm and bright. “I won’t—I won’t do anything, I promise.”
Hajime nods. “Thank you, Tooru.”
Outside, the wind shifts and blows the other direction.
“What do you mean you’re not going to fight?” Hajime asks as he enters Tooru’s tent.
Tooru is sitting by the edge, arms crossed while a map of the kingdom rests on his lap. He gives Hajime a pointed look and shrugs. “Did Makki tell you that?”
“Yes,” Hajime replies. In two long strides, he stands before Tooru. “So it’s true then? You’re going to sit this one out?”
“You make it sound like I’m doing something offensive, Iwa-chan,” Tooru says with a lazy smile. He folds the map back, and places it on the table. “You’re the one who said to not be reckless if Ushiwaka-chan’s involved. I’m simply holding up my end of the bargain.”
“That’s not what I meant. You’re the captain,” Hajime hisses. “You’re sending us all out there but you’re not even coming?” He makes a frustrated noise, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Is this—is it some sort of pride thing, Shittykawa? Is that it?”
Tooru scoffs as he stands. “It’s not a pride thing. It’s more like—your caveman brain probably wouldn’t understand, Iwa-chan—I just don’t want to fight tomorrow. Is that so bad?”
“Explain it to me,” Hajime says stubbornly. “Why exactly do you not want to fight?”
Tooru bites his lip, eyes averted. His fingers fumble together before he sighs once, exasperated.
“And don’t lie to me, Tooru,” Hajime warns him. “You’re all half-truths and false bravado most of the time, but just this once. It’s just me, alright? You can tell me.”
“Oh? Is Iwa-chan actually being nice to me?” Tooru says, but the teasing lays flat and Hajime doesn’t let himself get swayed. Finally, Tooru lets out a small breath and says quietly, “Tobio-chan pointed out a flaw in the plan, which ruined it, really, but it was just a tiny mistake, I swear. And I’ve decided that I’m not going to. I’ll just—I’ll still give out orders, but I won’t be joining.”
Hajime only blinks at him. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Tooru doesn’t say anything in response. He stares at his feet. “It is a pride thing, okay? It’ll only be a matter of time until Tobio-chan himself makes captain and then he’ll be better than me and he’ll beat Ushiwaka-chan and—”
Hajime knocks his head with Tooru’s, hard and quick.
Tooru yelps. “Ow! Iwa-chan!”
“You’re an idiot,” Hajime says evenly. “Do you really think—” he pauses, and shuts his eyes for a brief second. “Kageyama is a kid. He’s younger than you, and he’s got less experience. It was one mistake, it doesn’t define your entire life. But if he does beat you, then hell, Tooru, in all the years I’ve known you, you’ve never been one to give up. So surpass him if he does get ahead. You’ve always been good at picking yourself back up.”
(Hajime has lived most of his life with Tooru by his side. He knows that Oikawa Tooru is a battlefield, wrecked and put back together after a war, the rise and fall of nations right where his heart lies.)
Hajime takes his hands. “Look, if you’re not going to fight tomorrow, then at least let me lead. If you’re not going to be there properly, then I can help.”
Tooru’s expression softens, and he suddenly looks much younger, like the little boy Hajime found in the woods all those years ago. The same eyes, looking just a little bit lost.
“Okay, Iwa-chan,” he says quietly. “If you want, you can take my armor, too.” Hajime knows that under other circumstances, Tooru would’ve followed that with more teasing, with something that goes along the lines of You should be honored, using the great Oikawa Tooru’s armor, but even Tooru knows that the situation doesn’t call for it.
“Okay,” Hajime agrees. It’s a little impractical, Hajime knows, since Tooru is a bit taller and less broad, but if he can’t have Tooru fighting alongside him on the battlefield, he’ll settle for this.
(Looking back, Hajime should’ve known better than to never settle.)
The afternoon before the attack, Hajime and Tooru spar along the edges of the lake.
Tooru had him pinned down in ten minutes, smile cocky and proud, a crooked grin surrounded by the red flush of his cheeks. His hair stuck unevenly to his forehead by sweat, and his breathing was ragged above Hajime, breath ghosting over his lips. His eyes glinted underneath the fading afternoon’s light, warm brown turning to a rich gold.
“What’s wrong, Iwa-chan?” Tooru teases, laughing brightly. “You can do better than that!”
And Hajime’s only able to say one thing to that, breathless and hopelessly in love, “Marry me.”
Then Tooru laughs again, before looking down at Hajime again, blinking. His face turns red again, and Hajime’s sure it’s not from the adrenaline. “You—you mean it?” he asks quietly, eyes full of hope.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Hajime says, grinning.
Tooru gets off of him, and Hajime sits up properly, cross-legged across him.
“Marry me,” he repeats louder, and he wonders if Tooru can hear the erratic beating of his heart.
Tooru frowns. “That was the least romantic proposal I’ve ever gotten, Iwa-chan!”
Hajime raises an eyebrow at that. “You’ve been proposed to before?”
Tooru blushes again before shaking his head. “No,” he admits, and the teasing smile is back up again at full force, “but I’ve always expected there to be a thousand roses at the very least, you know. I deserve only the very best.”
Hajime rolls his eyes fondly. “I’m taking that as a yes, then.”
Tooru shuffles closer to put his arms around Hajime’s neck, their knees touching in the grass. “Yeah, it’s a yes.”
Tooru kisses him, slow and sweet, well-practiced after many years of being together. Hajime smiles against the kiss, happy and content and satisfied.
“I love you,” Hajime says in between, “even when you’re annoying or being an idiot. I love you, even when you hog all the blankets when we sleep or when you take all the carrots in my lunch. I love you and your stupid smile and even when you’re being an asshole and completely vain. I love you, even if the wind does change on us. And we’ll be okay, because all that matters is that we’re together.”
Tooru hums against his lips. “I love you, too, Hajime.”
They pull away, sitting together side by side to watch the sun slip past the horizon, the gold in the sky turning to a heavenly blue. Tooru curves his head into the crook of Hajime’s neck, shifting for more comfort.
“What kind of wedding do you want?” Hajime asks him after a while. “And no saying you want it on the moon or some shit like that because we both know that’s impossible.”
Tooru grumbles, but Hajime knows he’s smiling. “We can have it in the afternoon, like this one. On that hill near home, what do you think? It’s our spot, after all.”
“I’d love that,” he says. “I can’t wait to go home.”
“Yeah,” Tooru says. “Me, too.”
Hajime’s been in love with the sunset for a really long time now, and he’s also been in love with a boy of the sun for quite a while, too. And after all this time, he decides that he doesn’t mind chasing after both for the rest of his life.
When Hajime gets up in the morning, Tooru is already awake. He helps Hajime put on his armor, both of them moving quietly as they prepare for the day’s battle, a great unknown lying ahead. It’s barely even daylight, the sky still tinted blue, and the moon still hovers above them.
“You sure you don’t want to fight?” Hajime murmurs as Tooru’s fingers trace his jawline, worry in his eyes.
He shakes his head, and Hajime doesn’t push.
Tooru kisses him twice, one on the forehead then another on his lips. “For luck,” he says with a small, cheeky grin. “But I know you won’t really need it. You’re Iwa-chan.”
Hajime shakes his head, and squeezes Tooru’s hand one more time. He presses their foreheads together.
(Hajime’s always known the risks of war. He’s known it since he was four, looking up at the soldiers when they came home, since he was fifteen and given a sword, since he was eighteen and given his first proper mission. Hajime has always known, but he has yet to learn how to be unafraid of it.)
(It’s never been dying he’s afraid of. It’s losing this.)
“Wait for me?” he says.
Tooru nods, breath shaky. “Always.”
Then Hajime leaves, and prepares for battle.
Hajime has lived twenty-three summers when he steps on the battlefield.
Their army marches on, and with Seijoh’s number combined with Nekoma’s, they’re a lot more than what Shiratorizawa’s expecting. At least, he hopes so. They charge in together at full force, Hajime at the front, swords at the ready and arrows whipping through the air at lightning speeds.
Hajime encounters soldiers, fights them off quickly. He lunges and dodges, not leaving anything to chance—not when Tooru isn’t here to cover up the holes in his defenses like he usually does. He kicks and punches, blood staining his armor and the scent growing increasingly thick in the air. He looks around quickly, his reflexes fast as he runs, taking people down as he goes. He can hear Kyoutani howling as he fights, his voice almost lost to the wind. Hajime fights, instinct kicking in through all the years of practice and training.
He takes down another soldier when he hears it—the rumble of a chariot, the loud whining of horses, as it breaks through the chaos. Hajime looks quickly, and his blood runs cold at the sight.
Ushijima roars, spear held right over his head and armor thick. Then he’s aiming right for Hajime, eyes locked on his.
Run, his body tells him, but he can’t move, can’t breathe. Not like this. His legs feel like lead and his arms are heavy, and his lungs are filling up with water. He needs to move, move, move.
Something explodes to his left, and Hajime runs.
Run, Iwa-chan! and it sounds terribly like Tooru. Run and don’t stop!
Hajime runs, but he can hear the chariot rolling after him, and Ushijima is yelling after him.
Hajime stumbles, but he forces himself back up, his palms against the ground, taking off once more. He could hold his ground and fight, that’s an option—but against Ushijima of all people, he knows he won’t stand a chance.
His heart is stuck in his throat, the adrenaline burning in his veins, and he clutches his sword in a death grip, shield in his other hand. He slows down when another man tries to attack him, the purple displayed on his chest mockingly, and Hajime’s able to take him down with a bit of a struggle.
He breathes, takes a gulp of air, and then—
And then he’s falling to the ground.
He stumbles forward, a sharp pain to his back, and with effort he turns to look. There’s a spear sticking out, blood dripping quickly, flowing out fast. Hajime tries to hold it—but it hurts, it hurts more than anything he’s ever experienced.
He falls to the ground.
“Tooru,” he croaks out. Hajime imagines Tooru’s smile—the genuine kind, the one that had him falling in the first place, the one he loves, where Tooru looks so happy —and the way his arms come around Hajime’s, warm and safe. He imagines his eyes, always so bright, and he knows that Tooru is what he will most in this lifetime. He’s always known that. “Tooru, I’m sorry.”
Hajime takes one look at the sun, and he sees Tooru, grinning at him like he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him. He sees Tooru.
Hajime sees him, even when he closes his eyes for the final time.
Tooru had lived through fifteen winters when he fell in love with his best friend.
He was looking at Hajime as he cradled a small ladybug on his finger, looking at it with the cutest expression Tooru’s ever seen. Eyebrows scrunched together, eyes bright, and smile curved just a little upwards—the beginning of a lopsided grin, one of Tooru’s favorites.
He was just looking at Hajime, and he realized that there was no one else he’d rather spend the rest of his days with. There was no one else he’d rather choose.
Tooru’s lived through twenty-three winters when he loses him.
The news travelled slowly. Their side won the battle, but with more casualties than they had intended. Tooru had sent more men when he heard where Ushijima was, and he hoped that Hajime had stayed out of his way.
He learned he was wrong, when one of the younger soldiers comes in to tell him what happened.
“I’m sorry,” the boy says, tone careful, “Iwaizumi—he’s gone.”
His blood runs cold, and he stops breathing. The world ends right there and then, for Oikawa Tooru.
“What?” Tooru asks, but his voice is barely above a whisper. Hopelessness begins to unfurl at the bottom of his stomach, curling towards his skin to steal his breath. Desperation and loss, they clawed at his lungs slowly, each stroke more painful than the last. “Who killed him? ”
“Ushijima,” the boy answers. “It was his spear they found in Iwaizumi’s body.”
In a flash, he recalls the look Hajime on his face, the relief on he had, when Tooru had promised, when he had said What has Ushijima ever done to me?
He has taken the world from Tooru, stolen it right from under him, leaving nothing but his own worthless pride.
“Oikawa…” Hanamaki says slowly, approaching him carefully. He places a hand on Tooru’s shoulder, gentle. The words stop short there, and Tooru knows that he loved Hajime, too, just in a different way Tooru had.
His lips are dry, and he can feel tears rolling down his cheek. Tooru falls to his knees as sobs wrack through his body, his breathing coming out too fast and uneven.
If Hajime was here, he’d tell Tooru he was an ugly crier, but he’d comfort him anyway.
But Hajime isn’t here. He’s never coming back, is he?
(And it’s all Tooru’s fault. He chose not to fight. He left Hajime alone to deal with Ushijima—it’s his fault. His fault.)
It’s his fault, and it cannot be undone.
What kind of hero would I be if I couldn’t even save the person I love the most?
Hajime was his anchor, the one who kept him breathing, kept him moving, who made sure that Tooru was happy. And he was, he always was, with Hajime by his side. But now, the sadness is released, the desperation clings to his skin, and it’s suffocating him.
He will only be your downfall, his mother had said.
Tooru’s not sure if he could get any lower than this.
He is sinking into the sea, and the ground is eating him alive. He just wants to go home, to wrap himself in Hajime’s arms and forget about the rest of the world. He wants to go back to Hajime’s smile, the warmth of his hands, the way he always rolled his eyes at Tooru but kissed him anyway. He wants to watch a smile ghost on his lips, wants to listen to him talk about his interests, wants to live the rest of his life with him.
He wants Hajime.
Tooru’s always been known for wanting things he can’t have, after all.
“I have loved him,” he says, “all my life.”
Tooru cries, mourns, and lets himself fall apart.
Heroes don’t get happy endings, and Oikawa Tooru is no exception.
When Oikawa Tooru steps onto the battlefield, it is for the last time.
He gets his revenge on Ushijima, Tooru’s sword through his skin. It doesn’t feel as satisfying as he thought it would—he hasn’t felt much, has numbed himself to the world around him after he lost Hajime. Still, he avenges his death, and that’s what matters to Tooru.
Tooru falls on the same battlefield, a fearsome arrow to his own chest, sent hard and fast from above him. He falls to the ground, and the last thing he thinks of is Hajime’s smile.
The world goes dark after that.
Tooru has lived a whole lifetime when he sees Hajime again.
He looks beautiful, just like always.
(Two souls reach for each other in the dark.)
He throws himself toward him, burying his face into the crook of Hajime’s next, and he’s unapologetic for the tears that wet his shoulder.
“It’s you,” he says, and he presses kisses all over Hajime’s face. Hajime laughs, breathy and real, and he holds Tooru tighter. “It’s really you.”
“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Hajime says earnestly, pressing a light kiss to Tooru’s forehead. “Thank you for waiting for me.”
“Always, Hajime,” Tooru says, happier than he’s been in a while. “Anything for you.”
Hajime takes his hand. “Come on,” he says, grinning. “I think it’s time that we finally went home.”
“Okay, Iwa-chan,” Tooru says. “Let’s go home.”