The next day, Oikawa showed up to the airport as chipper as always, chattering about all the things he wanted to do in La Plata and Buenos Aires. CA San Juan was none the wiser about the breakdown Correa had witnessed just the night before. Other than a brief aside in which Oikawa thanked Correa for his help and assured Correa that his wife was out of the hospital and perfectly well, Oikawa also acted like nothing had happened. Despite this, Correa kept a close eye on Oikawa, checking the gym every day after practice to make sure Oikawa wasn’t holed up there again. It was empty every time he checked.
Oikawa’s resolve had hardened. Correa never again saw hesitation in Oikawa’s eyes whenever the topic of his naturalization came up. Oikawa’s nightly animated phone calls to his mysterious wife resumed and life on CA San Juan returned to normal as if Oikawa wasn’t about to alter the course of his entire life in a few weeks.
As expected, Oikawa passed the language test with flying colors, exiting the federal judge’s office with a giant smile plastered on his face. The members of CA San Juan wrapped a large Argentinian flag around Oikawa and started to sing the national anthem very loudly and very badly on the street, not caring who saw or heard them.
Despite having lived in Argentina for half a decade already, Oikawa had still been nervous before his date with the judge. The FIVB World Championship was three months away and Oikawa knew if he failed to obtain citizenship today, the next available date would be too late for him to make the World Championship team. So, it was with immense relief that he showed his teammates the smiling selfie he took with the judge who had finally granted him Argentinian citizenship.
As he held his phone out so his teammates could better see the picture, Oikawa felt the flag slipping from his shoulders. Instinctively, he went to grab it but when he saw his hand close around the blue and white stripes, he stilled, his vision gone hazy with what felt suspiciously like tears.
Oikawa blinked and suddenly, he was no longer outside some drab government building in the middle of San Juan. Instead he was in the middle of a brightly lit volleyball court, the crowd a sea of blue, going wild as he and his teammates waved Argentinian flags around in celebration. Oikawa blinked again. The sky-blue flags in the crowd were replaced with hundreds of rising suns. Thousands of faces that looked like his were looking down at him, black eyes shining with pride and joy. Oikawa's uniform was no longer blue, but a familiar bright red. He heard a familiar voice call his name from the bench but when he looked up, the cheers from the crowd had dimmed.
The Japanese faces in the crowd were still there, but now disappointment was spelled across each and every face staring back at Oikawa. He felt a burning sensation in his hand and let go of the flag. It fluttered to the ground, blue and white again, the rising sun replaced with a golden sun that grinned back at Oikawa accusingly. Oikawa’s teammates were still cheering around him, but he could feel the eyes of the crowd boring into him, judging him silently. Oikawa could not bring himself to smile. It would’ve been better if they booed.
Something sharp hit his head and he jolted back to reality where Lamela had accidentally elbowed him in the temple. “Let’s celebrate!” someone yelled, and the team started making their way to the captain’s house.
“Your first real Argentinian asado,” Lamela said to Oikawa, pushing an entire open bottle of Malbec into Oikawa’s hands.
“I’ve lived here for five years. We’ve literally been to at least twenty asados together,” Oikawa replied.
“It’s not the same. You’re a real Argentine now,” said Lamela, somehow producing another bottle of wine and gesturing at Oikawa for a toast.
As all of CA San Juan walked and celebrated towards Correa’s house in a mini parade, player after player came up to Oikawa to personally toast and congratulate him on his naturalization. By the time they finally arrived in Correa’s backyard, Oikawa was already drinking from his second bottle of wine. Oikawa was deposited in the seat of honor. The music was far too loud for a weekday afternoon. Plate after plate of barbecued meat were put onto the table in quick succession.
“Argentina is ranked third in the world for meat consumption,” Sosa said, sliding yet another platter of steak in front of Oikawa. “This year is the year we beat the Australians so we can’t afford to have you holding us back now that you’re one of us.”
CA San Juan was determined to make Oikawa’s first day as an Argentine one that he would likely forget.
Late into the evening, Correa returned to the backyard after tucking his son into bed, hoping to find that his teammates had gotten the hint and gone home. Instead, he found the majority of CA San Juan still sprawled out on his lawn furniture. Despite the fact that Correa had started secretly adding sparkling water to the wine hours ago, his teammates had managed to eat and drink themselves into such a stupor that most of them were sound asleep in his backyard in the middle of winter.
Somehow, Lamela and Oikawa were still awake even though Correa was sure the two of them had drank enough to put a small vineyard out of business. Lamela was weakly trying to get Oikawa to finish the last bottle of wine but Oikawa was too drunk to even notice. Instead, he was completely transfixed by the game of sliding his wedding ring around on its chain, watching it go back and forth like a volleyball rally.
“What’s that?” Lamela asked, making a gesture to point at Oikawa’s necklace but completely missing and instead pointed at Sosa who was passed out while cuddling a potted plant.
Oikawa got the point anyways. “This?” Oikawa asked, holding up the ring like he was seeing it for the first time, “I think it’s a wedding ring. Am I married? Captain, am I married?”
Before Correa could answer, Lamela was suddenly much more alert, screaming, “Of course, you’re married, idiot! You literally call your wife every night in your underwear.”
Oikawa gasped and started fumbling for his phone, “I haven’t called yet today. I forgot to tell her I passed!” he yelled, voice cracking out of panic. He hurriedly dialed a contact in his phone. After the phone started to ring, Oikawa held it up to his ear while badly trembling.
“Mi amor!” Oikawa practically shrieked when the call finally connected. He was so excited that he tripped over his own words, his Spanish becoming so garbled that no one on CA San Juan could even interpret it, let alone Oikawa’s Japanese wife who lived in California. Finally, after fumbling along in Spanish for a few more moments, Oikawa gave up and switched to Japanese.
Lamela was bitterly disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to gather any additional facts for his spreadsheet and was just about to doze off when he heard Oikawa loudly yell in English, “I am not drunk!” Oikawa visibly cringed at whatever his wife’s reply to that was before timidly admitting in Spanish, “Maybe I am a little drunk.”
Oikawa’s wife chewed him out a bit more over the phone before he finally whispered, “Don’t worry, mi amor, my team is here to take care of me. I’ll talk to you later when I’m sober. I love you, precioso.”
The call had just disconnected when Lamela loudly yelled from across the table. “Precioso? How did you pass the language exam if you can’t even get your grammatical genders straight? I can’t believe you just called your wife precioso instead of preciosa.”
A strange look passed over Oikawa’s face and he opened his mouth like he was going to argue but stopped himself at the last moment. A tight smile smoothed over his features, “Ah yes, preciosa. Not precioso.”