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Wedding Ring

Chapter Text

Tohru Oikawa, the Japanese-born setter for CA San Juan was married. His teammates couldn’t believe it. Oikawa had barely turned 22. They had never even seen him look at a woman, let alone have a girlfriend. Yet here he was, back from a three-week break with a shiny new ring hanging from a chain around his neck, nonchalantly chattering about California weather and showing people pictures of the Bolivian salt flats as if all he did on his vacation was sightsee and not legally bind himself to another person.

Finally, the libero on the team couldn’t bear it any longer and interrupted Oikawa’s complaining about LA traffic. “Dude, did you get married?” A hush fell over the gym. The captain gave the libero a dirty look, but everyone could tell he was also curious about the answer.

Oikawa stopped talking and absentmindedly touched the ring, “Yes, I got married when I was in California. Anyways, as I was saying, the traffic in LA is brutal and there isn’t any kind of public transportation, so you have to…”

“We know traffic is bad in Los Angeles. We’ve all seen the beginning of La La Land. Tell us about your new wife.”

“Yeah is she American?”

“How did you guys meet?”

“Is she beautiful?”

Oikawa was getting bombarded with questions from all of CA San Juan, even some of the managers and trainers joined in. A weaker man would have cracked and called his wife on the spot to satisfy everyone’s curiosity, but Oikawa merely shrugged and said they valued their privacy.

“You know how cagey we Japanese are about our personal lives,” he said with a dismissive wave.

That’s all information the team got. Oikawa’s new wife was Japanese. The only other question he would answer was, “Is she beautiful?”

“The most beautiful person the world,” Oikawa replied, nodding solemnly.

After that first practice back, Oikawa stopped wearing his wedding ring out in public, tired of getting asked questions he did not want to answer. Some players even started to think they had hallucinated the entire thing. However, those who saw Oikawa around in the dorms were able to confirm that he did actually wear the ring around his neck when he was home, frequently playing with the chain while watching game tapes in that weird crouched position he sits in. 

Oikawa’s marriage also coincided with his promotion to starting setter for CA San Juan. As expected, many volleyball fans throughout Argentina were enamored with the handsome foreigner. And because Oikawa only wore his wedding ring in private, fangirls flocked to the young, seemingly single setter.

After a game in Buenos Aires, his teammates looked on jealously as he signed autographs and flashed cutesy little peace signs for selfies with adoring fans. Finally, he was dragged back onto the bus by the captain and plopped down in his seat, taking his wedding ring out of his pocket and fastening it around his neck.

One of the younger team members, who was particularly jealous that a married man like Oikawa was attracting all the fangirls rudely asked, “Doesn’t your wife get mad that you pretend to be single for the fans?”

Oikawa shifted uncomfortably in his seat before replying, “I’m not pretending, I just value my privacy. She’s probably used to it anyways. I’ve been doing this since high school. It doesn’t mean anything.”

His teammates quietly filed away the fact that Oikawa’s been dating his wife since high school, shooting each other curious looks, wondering what kind of woman would tolerate her man being constantly fawned over like this.

“Dating is one thing. Being married is another,” said the captain quietly from the front after a long, awkward silence. The entire team turned their heads towards their captain in surprise. Having been married for nearly a decade, the captain was indeed qualified to dole out advice, but he never meddled in his players’ personal lives, frequently shooing away those who pestered Oikawa about his mysterious wife.

Oikawa remained silent, pensively running his finger over the metal of his wedding ring.

The next match was a home game in San Juan. The stands were packed with fans wearing the club’s trademark blue, Oikawa’s jersey being the most popular. Bright pink “Marry me, Oikawa-san!” signs were everywhere. Oikawa’s teammates cringed as he went to greet the adoring masses. However, instead of the high-pitched squeal they were used to hearing when Argentina’s most popular setter stepped onto the court, a quiet hush fell over the entire stadium.

The San Juan players looked at each other, confused. Perhaps Oikawa was doing a new bit with his fans? Suddenly, the sunlight pierced through the stadium’s glass roof and Oikawa’s teammates saw what had silenced their supporters. Shining around the neck of one of the Argentina’s most eligible bachelors, was his wedding ring.

Chapter Text

The CA San Juan players could tell that Oikawa was already regretting letting all of Argentina know he was married. His social media was getting flooded with questions demanding who the lucky lady was. Every interview he sat for included at least five minutes of the host grilling Oikawa about his marriage. The paparazzi had even started following him around hoping to catch him and his secret wife on a date.

Just like before, Oikawa tried to avoid the problem by simply not wearing his ring in public, hoping everyone would forget it ever existed. But it was already too late and the sudden public disappearance of Oikawa’s wedding ring from around his neck fueled a media frenzy of divorce rumors.

Finally, Oikawa gave up on trying to play nice, it really wasn’t his style anyways. He put his ring back on and whenever someone tried to ask him about it, he just pretended his Spanish wasn’t that good and deliberately misinterpreted the question. It all came to a dramatic conclusion when an interviewer asked Oikawa about his wife and instead got a ten-minute tirade about space and how the government was hiding the existence of aliens.

Rather than ruining his credibility as a serious athlete, Oikawa’s space rant went viral. People loved it. It seemed like every corner of the Argentinian internet was plastered with Oikawa alien memes and overnight everyone forgot about his secret wife. Everyone that is, except CA San Juan.

It was bad enough that Oikawa refused to tell them anything about his spouse. He knew all the gossip about their wives and girlfriends, it was only fair that he shared as well. No, Oikawa seemed to revel in the fact that he had a juicy little secret.

The first time Oikawa was overheard calling his wife, his teammates were more than a little surprised. His voice was at least an octave higher, taking on an adorable sing-song quality. They couldn’t believe it. This man could serve a volleyball 120 kmph and here he was pouting into his phone like a little girl.

“Is he the husband or is he the wife,” one of the players grumbled after Oikawa let out a particularly loud giggle, “And why is he speaking Spanish? Isn’t his wife Japanese?”

“Who else could it be? He says ‘mi amor’ like every other sentence.”

“I don’t know, he gets fan mail every day, it could be anyone. Ow!” At least three different people punched the outside hitter who had suggested Oikawa was unfaithful.

Turning his head towards the commotion, Oikawa saw his teammates spying on him. He shot them an exaggerated wink, then immediately switched to rapid-fire Japanese.

“Way to go idiot, now he knows we’re onto him,” said the libero.

And the libero was right, though Oikawa was never one to back down from a fight. Rather than retreating to his room to call his wife in private, Oikawa instead took up the habit of walking around the dorms late at night wearing only boxers and AirPods, talking to “mi amor” on the phone while twirling his wedding ring around his finger.

At first the team was delighted that Oikawa still talked to his wife in Spanish, perking up their ears, hoping to glean any bits of information they could about Oikawa’s relationship. The conversation started the same way each night, with Oikawa reciting every detail of his training regimen from that day. It was so incredibly boring.

“What woman wants to know how many box jumps her husband did that day. It’s literally the same number every day too! How can she stand listening to this?”

“Shut up, he’s about to say something interesting,” shushed the libero.

And indeed, Oikawa had finally finished reading off the splits from his morning run and was saying with a fond smile, “Ah, mi amor, that reminds of the time we…”

Everyone stopped what they were doing and sat very still, waiting for Oikawa to finally drop them a crumb about his relationship. Oikawa paused, sweeping his gaze around the silent common room. When he finally started talking again, he had switched to Japanese and every member of CA San Juan was ready to cry out of frustration.

It played out like that every time. Oikawa never slipped up. He would talk about the most mundane things in Spanish. The weather. How many kilograms he squatted that day. What he had for dinner. And as soon as the conversation got even the tiniest bit personal, Oikawa flipped, switching to Japanese and completely cutting his teammates out of the conversation.

However, there was one thing Oikawa couldn’t hide.

“His wife isn’t in Japan,” a middle blocker announced one day, very proud of himself.  

“What? Because she can speak Spanish?”

“Yes, that, but,” the middle blocker brandished a thick stack of color-coded spreadsheet printouts. “I’ve been monitoring Oikawa’s phone usage. We know he usually calls his wife between 9pm and midnight, but I’ve also noticed he doesn’t really use his phone in the morning. But at 11am, on the dot, he texts someone with this dumb smile on his face and then is glued to the phone until he goes to bed.”

“So? His wife is busy in the morning. What’s the big deal?”

“Ah, but my friends. What this data implies is that Oikawa’s wife is awake from at least 11am to midnight Argentina time. However, because Japan is 12 hours ahead, that would mean Oikawa’s wife is awake from 11pm to noon her own time. Unless Oikawa is married to an owl, the only reasonable conclusion is that Oikawa’s wife is not in Japan.”

“Then where she? She’s not here, that’s for sure. We don’t know a thing about her, we’ll never figure out where she actually is.”

The middle blocker slammed his spreadsheets on the table. “What do we know about Mrs. Oikawa? She is Japanese. She is beautiful. She has been with Oikawa since high school. She speaks Spanish. We have repeated these facts in our heads over and over again, but we have forgotten a crucial one.”

“California!” someone yelled excitedly.

“Yes, exactly. Oikawa was married in California. According to my calculations, if Oikawa’s wife is still in California, that would mean Oikawa’s wife wakes up at 7am and texts him throughout the day until he goes to bed around 8pm her time.”

The middle blocker was a genius.

Oikawa wondered why Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” had suddenly become everyone’s favorite song.

Chapter Text

Oikawa disappeared over Christmas break and the CA San Juan players were kicking themselves for not noticing earlier. He had been very excited for Christmas, but Oikawa was always excited for Christmas in Argentina. The novelty of cannonballing into a pool while belting Christmas carols seem to never wear off despite having been lived in Argentina for half a decade already.

As per usual, everyone on the team invited Oikawa to their family asado but paid it no mind when he politely declined, assuming Oikawa would show up with a bucket of fried chicken in someone else’s backyard that year. It was only after the festivities of Christmas Eve did CA San Juan realize; Oikawa was nowhere to be found. He hadn’t shown up in anyone’s backyard with a bucket of fried chicken.

While all of CA San Juan was lying on their couches Christmas Day, frantically texting back and for looking for their starting setter, Oikawa was cruising around Los Angeles, obnoxiously singing along perfectly to “Despacito”, much to the chagrin of the person driving him.

At their first practice back, CA San Juan descended upon Oikawa in the locker room, demanding where he had been. Oikawa pulled out his phone and started showing off pictures of Disneyland decked out for the holidays like he hadn’t just disappeared without telling anyone.

The middle blocker, Lamela, who had hypothesized that Oikawa’s wife was in California, grinned wickedly. “Los Angeles again? You seem to really like California.”

“Well my wife lives there so I go because I really like my wife,” Oikawa replied, still making his teammates look at selfies of himself wearing festive Mickey Mouse ears.

Lamela, and the rest of the team for that matter, couldn’t believe their ears. Lamela had spent the better part of half a year updating his spreadsheet, collecting evidence that Oikawa’s Japanese wife lived in California. He had poked and prodded at Oikawa, desperate that his theory be confirmed. And after months of denying it, Oikawa just waltzes in and casually drops the truth like it was obvious the whole time?  

The locker room sat in stunned silence as Oikawa kept on chattering about which Disney princesses he got to meet. Finally, the captain stuck his head into the locker room, barking at them to hurry up and get to practice.

Everyone jolted back to earth and started scrambling to finish changing. Only Lamela was left staring blankly at Oikawa, wondering why he had devoted so many hours of his life color-coding a spreadsheet to track such a giant troll.

Oikawa smiled sweetly at Lamela before turning away to unzip his warmup jacket.

“What the hell is on your neck!”

Chapter Text

Lamela had shrieked so loudly that the captain came running back into the locker room, just in time to see Oikawa clap his hands over the large constellation of bruises on his neck that had previously been hidden by the high collar of his warmup jacket. Oikawa was sheepishly glancing around the locker room and to his dismay, realized that everyone was once again staring at him.

“Did your wife do that?” Lamela asked, still screaming a little, “What kind of woman leaves marks like that?”

“I guess she was really excited to see me,” Oikawa replied lamely.

“Excited? It looks like she tried to strangle you.”

By now, Oikawa’s face had turned bright red but luckily, he was saved by the captain who threatened extra digging drills if the entire team wasn’t on the court in the next five minutes. Oikawa breathed a sigh of relief as everyone started scrambling to change and was just about to lift up his shirt when he noticed Lamela was still glancing over at him out of the corner of his eye. Oikawa scooped up his practice clothes and speed walked towards the bathroom stalls.

Oikawa changed in the privacy of a bathroom stall for the next week.

Eventually, Oikawa’s neck returned to normal, but his teammates were far from forgetting what Oikawa had let slip. Lamela was particularly energized, doubling down on his spreadsheet which by now, was shared amongst the team and included every fact they had gathered so far on Mrs. Oikawa.

She was Japanese. She was beautiful. She has been with Oikawa since high school. She spoke Spanish. She lived in California. She mauled his neck over Christmas.

There were other tidbits of information such as, she has been to the Bolivian salt flats and Disneyland with Oikawa. She was willing to listen to Oikawa ramble on about his training regimen every night. And she was probably a saint for marrying Oikawa in the first place. But the team had found nothing that would aid them in identifying her.

The spreadsheet stood listless until the libero, Hugo Sosa, had a visit from his wife’s side of the family. Sosa’s wife was originally from Brazil and for weeks Sosa had moaned and groaned to the team about how his annoying Brazilian brother-in-law and his wife were going to visit for two weeks and eat him out of house and home.

“Look at his smug face and tell me he’s not evil!” Sosa said, forcing his teammates to look at his brother-in-law’s Instagram.

“He looks normal, I don’t get why you hate him so much.”

“You don’t understand! He and his wife are so loud and needy, they’re always hanging out with my wife and talking in Portuguese,” Sosa complained, now showing his teammates a picture of his brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

The team largely ignored Sosa. Some of them pointed out that he just sounded jealous that his wife liked her brother and her sister-in-law more than she liked him. Lamela wasn’t even planning on looking at Sosa’s phone when something on it caught his eye.

“Hugo, you’re telling me this is your sister-in-law?” Lamela asked, reaching for Sosa’s phone.

“Yes! Look at her. She’s evil. All she does is listen to my wife complain about me.”

“You’re saying this woman is going to be at your house here in San Juan within the next week,” Lamela asked, staring intently at the picture on Sosa’s phone.

“Yes?” Sosa replied, confused as to why Lamela was suddenly so interested in his sister-in-law.

By now, a small crowd had formed, waiting for Lamela to explain why he was taking Sosa’s dumb family drama so seriously.

“Is Spanish and Portuguese the only languages your sister-in-law speaks?” Lamela finally asked.

“Well I think she also understands a little…” Sosa stopped, realization dawning on his face.

Lamela dramatically turned the phone around for the crowd to see.

Sosa’s sister-in-law was Japanese.

To the disappointment of CA San Juan, Sosa’s sister-in-law spoke much less Japanese than they had hoped she would. After a week of sneaking Sosa’s sister-in-law into the dorms to eavesdrop on Oikawa’s nightly boxers and Airpods phone call with his wife, she had only been able to determine that Oikawa talked to his wife about volleyball. A lot.

Sosa and Lamela looked especially disappointed that their gambit had failed, which the rest of the team thought was a bit rude considering this woman had just given up half her vacation to listen to Oikawa ramble on about volleyball in Japanese.

They thanked her profusely and as she left, Sosa’s sister-in-law once again apologized, “Sorry I couldn’t be any more help. I barely understand any Japanese and he talks so fast…” She paused, looking thoughtful.

“What is it?” Sosa asked, looking hopeful that his suffering might not have all been for naught.

“It’s hard to explain,” Sosa’s sister-in-law said slowly, “But the way he talks to his wife, even though I can’t understand what he’s saying, he just sounds so sweet. It reminds me a lot more of how my mother would talk to my father than the other way around.”

Chapter Text

There was a lot of anxiety buzzing around Argentinian club volleyball when the longtime head coach of the Argentina men’s national team announced his retirement. Argentina had been doing quite poorly on the international scene and the overall consensus was that the team had to be rebuilt from scratch.

Members of CA San Juan breathed a sigh of relief when José Blanco was named the new coach of the national team. Those currently in the lineup had more confidence that their spots were secure. Recent call-ups were hopeful that their positions would be made more permanent. All in all, José Blanco leaving CA San Juan for the national team was considered a win for all CA San Juan players who had international aspirations. That is, all players who were Argentine.

It was no secret that Oikawa had come to Argentina specifically to play for José Blanco. And it was no secret that Oikawa was José Blanco’s favorite member of CA San Juan. A fact that some members quietly resented. Everyone’s face brightened when Blanco announced his imminent departure, except Oikawa, who's face visibly darkened. Most team members were too excited about their own international prospects to notice the unhappiness written all over Oikawa’s face, but it did not escape the attention of CA San Juan’s captain, Santiago Correa.

Most members of CA San Juan assumed that Oikawa would stay in Argentina for a few years before moving back to Japan with his wife. Only Correa and Blanco knew that Oikawa had been quietly filing paperwork to become a naturalized Argentine citizen. Correa wasn’t convinced that Oikawa would actually go through with it. Naturalization meant giving up his Japanese citizenship and it seemed his spouse had no intention of moving to Argentina to be with him.

The Japan national team was strong, but a few more seasons with Blanco and Oikawa would be ready to challenge Japan’s genius setter, Tobio Kageyama, for a spot in the starting lineup. But Blanco was leaving. Oikawa had run out of time.

Correa did not live in the dorms, but by the end of the week, it was common knowledge that Oikawa’s boisterous nightly calls to his wife had turned dark and serious, with Oikawa retreating into his room for hours at a time. CA San Juan was convinced that without Blanco, Oikawa’s time in Argentina was limited and they jokingly lamented how Oikawa was slipping out of their grasp before any one of them got to meet his secret wife. Correa wasn’t so sure about that.

His suspicions were proven correct when a few days later, Blanco called Correa over after practice to where he was already standing with Oikawa.

Oikawa always looked intense while playing volleyball but today his eyes were particularly hard, as if he were preparing to jump serve an ace when the opponent was at match point.

“Captain.” Oikawa greeted Correa without his usual flourishes. 

“Santiago, I trust you remember the conversations we’ve had with Tohru regarding his citizenship,” said Blanco.

“Yes, of course. Have you made a decision?”

Oikawa nodded solemnly, “Coach, I followed you here from Japan. I still have a lot to learn. Please give me the chance to play for you again.”

“You’re a fantastic setter. If you actually choose to go through with this, you will have your chance,” Blanco replied with a smile.

Oikawa turned to Correa, “Captain. I’m going through with the final steps of my naturalization. I want to join you and coach on the national team.”

Correa thought he would be prepared for this. He had spent countless hours helping Oikawa file paperwork and study Spanish for the language test. But now, as he stood before Oikawa, who had previously been so intense, Correa suddenly realized how young he looked. The hunger in his face reminded Correa of what Oikawa looked like when they first met. Oikawa was only 18 at the time, fresh-faced, straight from Japan, didn’t speak a lick of Spanish, driven only by his passion for volleyball.

Oikawa was 23 now, with that same innocence he had five years ago, ready to give up everything for his love of volleyball. Then Correa’s eyes dropped a little from Oikawa’s face onto the wedding ring hanging around his neck. Oikawa wasn’t a teenager anymore. He had something to lose.

Before Correa could stop himself, he blurted out, “What about your wife?”

A grimace momentarily flashed across Oikawa’s face, but he quickly regained his composure, “We’ve talked about it. We’ve been together our entire lives. We’ll make it through this as well.”

After his talk with Correa and Blanco, Oikawa perked up considerably. He announced his plans for naturalization to the team and they were so excited about Oikawa becoming Argentine that they hadn’t yet considered the issue of Oikawa’s wife.

Watching the team’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to Oikawa’s announcement, Correa felt great guilt for asking such a rude question instead of expressing his support. The pained look on Oikawa’s face haunted Correa as he watched his teammates slap Oikawa on the back in congratulations. Correa tried to comfort himself that it wasn’t a big deal. Oikawa’s wife didn’t live in Japan anyways. Possibly she also had no intention to return herself. It didn’t matter if Oikawa was Japanese or not.

But that night, Correa went home to his wife and son like he did every night. He wondered how it would feel to be away from them for five years and then sign a piece of paper to separate them even further. His wife casually touched his arm while passing by in the hall. Moments like this were small, but combined, they wove together into the fabric of their life as husband and wife. Correa knew he would never be able to leave her the way Oikawa had done to his own sweetheart.

Chapter Text

The paperwork was filed. Oikawa’s Spanish was impeccable. The court date with the judge was scheduled for two months from now. Oikawa would be Argentine by winter. Correa could tell Oikawa was excited. Blanco had already left to coach the national team and though the new coach of CA San Juan was excellent, he was not the one Oikawa had come to Argentina to work with.

Also, to Correa’s immense relief, the team was still so excited about Oikawa’s impending citizenship change that they had largely forgotten about Oikawa’s secret wife. Correa could tell they were curious how Oikawa planned to stay married to someone so far away. But the team remembered the serious conversations Oikawa had had on the phone in the weeks leading up to his naturalization announcement and thus had the sense not to prod at such a painful topic. Whenever he saw Lamela hold his tongue, Correa again felt great shame for being the only one to have asked Oikawa how he could leave his wife like that.

Instead, the team was obsessed with turning Oikawa into “a real Argentine.” They planned trips to Brazil and Uruguay. As if his Japanese passport hadn’t allowed him to travel throughout South America visa-free (he literally honeymooned in the Bolivian salt flats). Little Argentinian flags popped up everywhere Oikawa looked—stuffed inside every pocket of his gym bag, hidden the drawers of his room, even sewed onto his practice shirts, an unsubtle nod to Oikawa’s inevitable call-up to the Argentina national team.

But sometimes, Correa saw the mask slip, anxiety momentarily breaking through Oikawa’s frenetic energy. The team had been tossing Oikawa’s Japanese passport around, which Correa felt was a bit risky since he was pretty sure Oikawa would need it to identify himself at the citizenship hearing. Oikawa seemed to take it in stride however, laughing along with his teammates as they threw the little book back and forth above Oikawa’s head. When Oikawa finally caught it, he mimed ripping the pages out to raucous applause.

The team loved it and Oikawa was grinning from ear to ear. But Correa saw how the smile didn’t completely reach Oikawa’s eyes. When the team turned around to harass someone else, Correa caught Oikawa slowly flipping through the passport, looking at the stamps, absentmindedly touching the wedding ring that hung around his neck.

There was something wrong with Oikawa today. To the players on CA San Juan, he just seemed a little slow. Maybe a case of the Mondays. But there was a reason Santiago Correa was captain. He could tell that Oikawa wasn’t making mistakes because he was hungover from the weekend. Correa thought about asking Oikawa what was wrong, but Oikawa’s performance hadn’t diminished to the point where it was affecting the team. As a rule, Correa did not mess with his players’ personal lives. Especially Oikawa who got enough grief from the rest of the team already.

However, as Correa was exiting the locker room after practice had concluded for the day, he heard a familiar sound echoing from what he thought should be the empty gym. It was not uncommon for players to stay behind and work on individual skills, but practice had ended more than an hour ago and they would be traveling to La Plata for a game early the next morning. No one should still be practicing right now.

Correa silently entered the gym. Oikawa didn’t notice. He was too focused on tossing the ball high into the air and smashing it towards the opposite court at the apex of his jump. The ball hit the net and bounced back, mockingly coming to a halt at the end line where Oikawa stood.

“You’re not going to improve like that.”

Oikawa flinched, nearly dropping the ball he was about to serve.

“You’re working too hard,” Correa continued.

A soft laugh drifted over from Oikawa’s direction. “Funny. He used to say that all the time.”


“Oh, no one.” Oikawa finally turned around. He looked even worse than before. The circles under his eyes had darkened and his face was so weary Correa was surprised he was still standing, let alone jump serving.

If he were younger, Oikawa would’ve ignored Correa and just kept practicing until he was physically forced to stop. But that was almost a decade ago. Oikawa was older now and had studied enough sports science to know that practicing to the point of exhaustion would only lead to injury. Yet here he was, serving by himself late into the night like he was back in middle school, waiting for someone to come stop him. Someone had come stop him, but Oikawa couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed that it was Correa who walked through that door and not someone else.

“Sorry captain. I’ll clean up and get going,” Oikawa finally said.

Correa looked like he wanted to say something but once again held his tongue, afraid he would make Oikawa more upset by prying. Still, he couldn’t leave Oikawa to clean up the gym alone in his current condition. So, Correa sighed quietly, and started helping Oikawa shag balls back into the cart. He wasn’t going to ask Oikawa outright what was wrong with him, but Correa hoped that Oikawa would tell him something rather than bottling it all up inside.

After a stretch of awkward silence, the only sound being the soft plunk of balls landing back into the cart, Correa heard a mumble come from Oikawa’s direction. He thought he had imagined it but a moment later, he heard the same mumble, louder this time, but still unintelligible.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?”

Oikawa finally looked up, though he avoided making direct eye contact with Correa. He was once again nervously fingering the wedding ring hanging around his neck.

“What does it mean to be married?” Oikawa asked for the third time. Correa had not been expecting such a deep question and his shock clearly showed on his face because Oikawa quickly added, “Sorry captain, that was kind of rude. I’m not trying to get personal details about your marriage. But I know you have a wife and a son and a house. They come to our games sometimes and you show us pictures of what you guys did over the weekend. Your wife is really pretty. She was really nice to me when you invited me to your family asado my first Christmas here and she went out of her way to make sure I was having a good time even though my Spanish was so bad I could barely even thank her. But it’s not just me, she’s really nice to everyone and I can tell everyone likes her a lot and that you love her a lot and you’re always excited to see her again when we’ve been traveling for a while.”

Oikawa was full-on rambling. Tears were forming in his eyes and his was gripping the ring around his neck so hard Correa was afraid the chain might break. “I know everyone thinks my marriage is weird. We don’t have a house or a child. We don’t spend the weekends together. I don’t look forward to coming home to someone after an away game. No one on the team’s even met my wife or even knows anything about her.

“But we’ve been together our entire lives. Literally from the moment I was born she was there, and we spent every day together for eighteen years. Anyone can buy a house or have a child, but you can’t go back in time and grow up with someone like that. Fall in love like that. I thought it would be enough, but now I look at our so-called marriage and all I see is this tiny piece of metal.” Oikawa finally stopped ranting, glaring at his wedding ring like it had gravely wronged him.

“Something happened,” Correa said. Oikawa opened his mouth to deny it, but Correa cut him off, “You’re barely speaking coherently, and I’ve tutored you long enough to know it’s not because your Spanish is bad.”

Oikawa visibly deflated, shrinking back into himself before finally admitting, “My wife was in a car accident last night, late enough that I had already gone to sleep. It wasn’t serious, but she still had to go to the hospital. My wife and I are from a small town in Japan. After high school, I came here and she went to California for college. She has friends and classmates of course, but they’re not close in the way we are. I have the team but she’s very much alone over there.”

There was a long pause. Though Correa was not part of Lamela’s ridiculous spreadsheet scheme regarding Oikawa’s wife, Correa knew that he had just heard more about Oikawa’s wife in five minutes than the entire team had heard in the past year combined. Perhaps Oikawa was losing his nerve and would shrink back into his shell, but finally Oikawa took a deep breath and continued.

“When she got to the hospital, she didn’t have an emergency contact listed. They saw her wedding ring and asked if they could call her spouse. And do you know what she said?” Oikawa’s voice wavered and Correa could see he was trying very hard not to cry. “She didn’t let them. She knew I had gone to bed already and that we were traveling soon so she didn’t want to wake me up and have me worry.”

 Correa tried to console him, “Well you said it wasn’t serious and there’s nothing you could do anyways.”

It had the opposite effect. Oikawa buried his face in his hands. The tears were flowing freely now, falling from his face onto the court. “You’re right. There was nothing I could do. I’m completely helpless here. What kind of husband am I? My wife was alone in the hospital all night and I was sleeping soundly in my bed thousands of miles away. Iwa-chan could’ve been dead and I would have had no idea.”

The sniffles abruptly stopped. Oikawa’s head snapped up and he looked at Correa with panicky red eyes.

“Is Iwa-chan your wife’s name?” Correa asked softly, afraid he would spook Oikawa.

Oikawa nodded before whispering, “Please don’t tell anyone. I’ve told you too much already.”

“Do you think I became captain by gossiping about my teammates?” Correa replied, a bit offended that Oikawa thought he would divulge such a serious conversation to the spreadsheeters. That seemed to put Oikawa more at ease, so Correa continued, “Do you want to move to California to be with your wife? Do you want to stay Japanese so you and Iwa-chan can go back there together one day?”

The pupils in Oikawa’s eyes visibly hardened. “Iwa-chan would never forgive me if I did that.”

“Would you forgive yourself if you didn’t?”

Oikawa looked pensively at his wedding ring, thinking for a long while before finally replying, “I can live with my own guilt if it means Iwa-chan lives with a clear conscious.”

Chapter Text

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.”

Chapter Text

California, December 2014


“Iwa-chan, why are we getting on the highway? If you wanted to be stuck with me in a small space you didn’t need to trap us in bumper-to-bumper traffic to do it,” Oikawa smirked from the passenger’s seat.

“Shut up Shittykawa, just because it took two and a half hours to get back from LAX doesn’t mean you have to whine every time we get into a car,” Iwaizumi shot back, scowling as he merged onto Route 55.

“I don’t think you could call this piece of junk a ‘car’, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa said. As if on cue, the ancient sedan made a loud whining noise as Iwaizumi accelerated onto the highway. Iwaizumi was just about to open his mouth to angrily retort but Oikawa had already turned up with radio, drowning Iwaizumi by loudly singing along to “Blank Space.”

Oikawa had only been in California for three days and Iwaizumi was already sick of constantly listening to Taylor Swift’s new album. However, he couldn’t help but smile when Oikawa leaned over and practically whispered in his ear, “But you’ll come back each time you leave. ’Cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.”

Once the song was over and Iwaizumi looked like he wasn't going to hit Oikawa for insulting his car, Oikawa turned the radio back down. “Iwa-chan, I learned a new word in Spanish the other day. My captain called his wife ‘preciosa’. Isn’t that sweet, Iwa-chan? I could call you that, but it would be ‘precioso’ for you I guess.”

“No thanks. Iwa-chan is bad enough. I don’t need you to be talking to me like you’re Spanish Gollum.”

Oikawa faked an offended expression that melted into a small smile. “Well it doesn’t matter since you’re a dumb brute who can’t speak Spanish. It would be weird to call you ‘precioso’ while speaking Japanese anyways.” He expected Iwaizumi to point out that Oikawa’s English was middle-school-level at best but instead Iwaizumi just continued to look straight ahead while driving.

Finally, the crappy old car pulled into a strip mall, engine almost sighing in relief when Iwaizumi finally turned it off. “Iwa-chan, this isn’t Diamond Jamboree,” Oikawa whined as he exited the car. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only Asian person in all of San Juan. I want ramen!”

“We’ve literally been to Diamond Jamboree every day since you got here. You’re in California. You’re going to try an authentic California taco and this place has the best tacos that don’t come from a truck that we have drive through half of LA to chase down.” Despite his harsh tone, Iwaizumi still took Oikawa’s hand and led him into a slightly sketchy-looking restaurant next to an Enterprise car rental office.

A bell jingled merrily as they entered. “Welcome to Taco Pronto,” a man called out from behind the counter. Oikawa looked around at the restaurant whose faux fancy chandelier suspiciously reminded him of a nail salon and wondered if this really was where one could find the best taco in California. But before he could tease Iwaizumi about his questionable taste in restaurants, the man behind the counter looked up, saw Oikawa and Iwaizumi, and started to speak in Spanish.

Oikawa looked down, wondering if he had accidentally worn a CA San Juan shirt that day. He hadn’t, but before he could figure out what had given him away, he heard Iwaizumi reply to the man behind the counter. In Spanish.

“Hi Jaime,” Iwaizumi was saying, “Sorry it’s been so long. School has been kind of crazy.”

The man behind the counter, Jaime, looked down to where Iwaizumi was still holding Oikawa’s hand. “Is this the boyfriend?”

Oikawa opened his mouth to reply but, Iwaizumi had already covered Oikawa’s mouth with his free hand. “Yup this is Tohru, he’s visiting from Argentina. You don’t want to hear his Spanish though; his accent will make your ears bleed.”

Jaime and Iwaizumi laughed. Oikawa was still so shocked that the next thing he knew, Iwaizumi was pushing him into an oversized plastic booth at the front of the restaurant. “Iwa-chan, don’t we have to order?” Oikawa managed to say in Japanese, too shocked to even speak Spanish himself.

Iwaizumi shrugged and sure enough, moments later, Jaime was back with two platters of tacos. “Buen provecho,” Jaime said. He set the platters down on the table and shot Iwaizumi a wink while walking away.

Oikawa was still sitting stupidly in the booth when a taco was shoved into his hands. “Don’t just sit there,” Iwaizumi said. “Eat it while it’s still hot.” Oikawa automatically took a bite and his eyes seemed to sparkle under the harsh fluorescent light of Taco Pronto. Even without saying anything, Iwaizumi could tell that it had been worth dragging him to Santa Ana for a hole-in-the-wall taco.

Finally, Oikawa regained his composure enough to ask, “Iwa-chan, why didn’t you tell me you were learning Spanish?”

Iwaizumi shrugged. “I wanted to surprise you. Are you surprised?”

Oikawa nodded. “You didn’t have to learn Spanish for me, Iwa-chan.”

“You know how to speak English.”

“Because we were forced to learn it in high school. You know it’s not the same.”

Iwaizumi wasn’t looking at Oikawa, seemingly transfixed by the menu on the wall opposite them. “Well now we can practice with each other. You’re always complaining that you don’t have any confidence when you talk to people.”

“Iwa-chan, I’m not going to be in Argentina forever. I could be playing in Brazil next or Italy or even Poland. You’re not going to learn Polish, are you?” Oikawa teased.

A small smile tugged up the corners of Iwaizumi’s lips. He looked a little sad, almost wistful. Finally, Iwaizumi shifted his gaze away from the menu and looked into Oikawa’s eyes.

“Veremos, precioso.”

Chapter Text

To no one’s surprise, Oikawa got a call-up to the Argentina national team’s training camp mere days after he finally received his citizenship letter. But to everyone’s great surprise, Oikawa wasn’t the only member of CA San Juan to receive his first international call-up from José Blanco. CA San Juan gathered around the paper calendar tacked onto the locker room bulletin board. The next week had been highlighted, reminding the team that Santiago Correa, Hugo Sosa, and Tohru Oikawa would be absent from practice to attend the national training camp. Everyone had expected those three to be called-up. Correa and Sosa had been international fixtures for years and Oikawa literally changed his citizenship to play on the national team. It was the final name on the list that took everyone by surprise, but none more than the man himself.

Matias Lamela and his spreadsheet were going to the national training camp. Though everyone knew Lamela was an exceptionally talented middle blocker, it was hard to imagine a ditz like him joining players as serious as Correa and Sosa or as ambitious as Oikawa on the national team. Lamela just kept staring at his name on the calendar until Oikawa finally dragged him away to stalk the other new call-ups on the internet.

When Lamela and Oikawa arrived in Buenos Aires, it was clear that they hadn’t been the only ones to search up their new teammates. While Lamela had flown largely under the radar so far, Oikawa’s reputation preceded him. Before he got married, most players in Liga Argentina knew Oikawa as that one Japanese setter who was super annoying to play against from CA San Juan. After he got married, Oikawa was known throughout the league as the pretty boy who was somehow incredibly popular with women despite very obviously being married and once going viral for a televised rant about aliens.

Having never expected to have much of an international career, Lamela was determined not to let the opportunity go to waste. He fully expected to buckle down and put the Oikawa secret wife spreadsheet on hold at the training camp. But as soon as he walked in, he was surrounded by Bolivar Voley players. Amongst them was Agustin Martinez, the national team’s star left-handed opposite hitter. It was basically impossible to walk down a street in Argentina without seeing a glossy ad with Martinez’s handsome face on it hawking some new brand of mate. Lamela was completely starstruck. He was just about to embarrass himself by asking for an autograph when Martinez shoved himself to the front of the crowd.

“You’re from CA San Juan right?” Martinez asked. He didn’t wait for Lamela to answer. “Can you please tell my idiot teammates that Tohru Oikawa is married to Miss Argentina 2007 not Miss Argentina 2016?”

Before a stunned dumb Lamela could open his mouth to answer, the Bolivar players had erupted into frenzy of angry whispers.

“Don’t be stupid Agustin, only you think he’s married to Miss Argentina 2007. Just because you like older women doesn’t mean everyone does.”

“Obviously he’s married to Miss Argentina 2016. She had that scandal which is why they can’t tell anyone they’re married.”

“Stop scaring the new guy. We all agree he’s married to Miss Argentina 2015, we saw them together at the same restaurant once.”

“You were the only one who saw them, and you can’t tell Oikawa apart from Ken Watanabe.”

“Everyone shut up! Let the man speak!” Martinez roared. All the Bolivar players looked expectantly at Lamela but before he could say anything, someone piped up from the back.

“What are you guys talking about?”

Lamela’s face turned white. The Bolivar players slowly turned around. Standing behind them, smiling pleasantly, was Oikawa, playfully twirling his wedding ring around his finger.

Oikawa waited for someone to reply but no one did. They were too horrified at the prospect that the first impression they made on their potential future setter was fighting about his love life. Finally, Oikawa flicked the ring into the air, caught it and said, “I’m actually married to Miss Japan 2015,” before skipping away to warm up.

Martinez and the rest of Bolivar snapped their heads back towards Lamela as soon as Oikawa was out of earshot. Lamela quickly shook his head though he did secretly consult his spreadsheet later that night to make sure that there was no way Oikawa could be married to Ariana Miyamoto.

By the end of the week, Lamela felt like a dead man. Blanco had been a tough coach at CA San Juan, but the national training camp was a whole new level of pain. Not only that, but Lamela also had to spend every evening arguing with Martinez that no, Oikawa was not married to a middle-aged, twice-divorced oil heiress, not everyone is into cougars like you.

It had taken the entire week, but with the help of his spreadsheet, Lamela had finally managed to convince the national team that none of their guesses for Oikawa’s wife was correct. While all of Bolivar was convinced Oikawa was married to a Miss Argentina, two wing spikers almost had a fistfight over which member of the Argentina women’s national team was secretly Oikawa’s wife. Someone even had the audacity to suggest that Oikawa was married to a man. At this point Lamela was sure that there were simply too many women in the world and they would never figure out which one Oikawa was married to.

Lamela had shut down so many regular members of the national team with his spreadsheet that he was sure his international career was already over. But despite all that, a mere two months after calling Argentina’s star opposite hitter a hijo de puta to his face, Lamela found himself decked out in sky blue, knees jammed into an economy plus seat that was way too small for a middle blocker like him, on his way to the 2018 FIVB World Championships.

Lamela and Oikawa arrived in Bulgaria fully expecting to be benchwarmers. Or Lamela did at least. Oikawa looked intense as always and had woken Lamela up more than once by loudly talking in his sleep about how he was going “beat everyone” and they shouldn’t “underestimate his worthless pride.” And so, it was in this sleep-deprived state that Lamela found himself lining up at his first major international tournament about to face off against the heavy favorites: Poland.

Blanco didn’t have to say it outright, but everyone knew. He was sending Oikawa and Lamela out like lambs for slaughter. Poland had decimated Argentina in all their recent fixtures and with Martinez benched, it was obvious that Blanco was expecting the match to be a calculated defeat.

Lamela could see in Oikawa’s eyes that he also knew they were expected to lose. But Oikawa wasn’t like Lamela. Lamela was already a head and a half taller than all the other kids by grade school. As expected, his parents signed him up for basketball, but he was so incredibly untalented that even his superior height couldn’t make up for the fact that he couldn’t dribble to save his life. So, they tried to next best thing: volleyball. God had been fair. Whatever talent Lamela lacked in basketball, he had been compensated by being a naturally gifted middle blocker. Since then, Lamela’s drifted up the ranks of Argentinian volleyball. Every time he thought about quitting and living a more normal life, another rung of the ladder beckoned to him: sports scholarships, Liga Argentina, and now, the national team itself.

As he stood next to Oikawa, someone who had literally left his spouse and his country to play on this court in Bulgaria, Lamela suddenly felt something he had never felt before a match. Fear. Playing club volleyball was one thing. Playing club volleyball was a job, a job Lamela did exceptionally well. But now, as he looked at Oikawa’s determined face that stood out so starkly amongst the Argentines and Poles on the court, Lamela was suddenly terrified of letting Oikawa down. Doing well today meant more than earning a paycheck. Oikawa had lived his entire life for this moment, and Lamela had the power to fuck it up completely.

Instinctively, Lamela began to pray. As he made the sign of the cross in front of his chest, he felt Oikawa’s eyes snap towards him. “What are you doing?” Oikawa asked.

“Uh, praying?” Lamela replied lamely, now even more terrified of Oikawa knowing how accidental his entire volleyball career had been.

“I’ve never seen you pray before a match before.”

Lamela gestured weakly at the giant Polish players. “Do you not want to pray when you see this across the net from you?” Oikawa took a look at the opposing team but seemed unimpressed. Lamela scrambled to say something else, “Also this is our first major international tournament, we should do something for good luck.”

Oikawa blinked, surprised that Lamela, the master of spreadsheets, would say something so superstitious. A faraway look fogged over Oikawa’s eyes, as if he were trying to remember something from long ago. Slowly Oikawa said, “I used to say my wife’s name a lot during matches in high school for good luck.” Lamela found it a bit weird that Oikawa would brag about his girlfriend during high school volleyball games. The judgement clearly showed on his face because Oikawa quickly added, “I think it would be a bit inappropriate to do that now.”

Lamela nodded quickly. As much as he would love to know Oikawa’s wife’s name, the last thing he needed was to be distracted by Oikawa’s personal life while going up against the world’s top ranked team.

Oikawa still had that distant look in his eyes when he reached up and took hold of the wedding ring that hung around his neck. He gazed at it tenderly, silently mouthed a few words, then closed his eyes and gently brought the wedding ring to his lips.

Chapter Text

Oikawa had disappeared again. Well, technically not disappeared. He told CA San Juan with ample notice that he would be gone for a week in June. A suspiciously similar trip to the one he had taken two years ago when he came back with a wedding ring around his neck. However, a lot had changed since then outside of Oikawa becoming a married man. He was now starting setter not only for CA San Juan but also the Argentina national team. Turns out, god had been listening to Lamela’s prayers and the Blanco-assembled b-team somehow managed to defeat Poland at the FIVB World Championships 3-2 in the biggest upset in recent history. Though a hard loss to France and Serbia after had eliminated Argentina from the tournament, Oikawa and Lamela emerged as the national team’s newly minted star rookies.

So, unlike two years ago when Oikawa was a relatively unknown benchwarmer, he was now a superstar and superstars were missed when they disappeared for a week during the regular season for no apparent reason. Sports casters speculated that he might be injured, arrested, deported. All sorts of crazy theories. But of course, no one was more curious than Oikawa’s teammates.

Frankly, Lamela was offended that Oikawa still refused to tell him anything about his wife. They were national team roommates and bus buddies. People stayed with their roommates and bus buddies literally until retirement. Oikawa knew about all of Lamela's dating disasters. Lamela put up with Oikawa’s competitive sleep talking. He even tolerated the 45 minutes Oikawa spent in the bathroom every morning doing his hair and skincare routine. Lamela had calculated—using a spreadsheet of course—that he and Oikawa had spent more than ten hours together waiting in various customs and border security lines throughout the world while traveling for international competitions. That had to mean something.

To his credit, Oikawa could tell that Lamela was about to blow so when he returned from his time off, he didn’t play dumb like he usually did.

“How was your trip?” Lamela asked, fully prepared for Oikawa to go off on another asinine tangent about LA traffic.

“Good,” Oikawa replied. “I was in California for my wife’s graduation.”

All those within earshot suddenly stopped stretching. Had Oikawa just offered up information about his wife without them having to forcefully extract it out of him like they were pulling teeth?

“LA is super nice this time of year,” Oikawa continued. “We played a lot of beach volleyball. Look, my wife took this picture of me at Huntington Beach. Don’t I look cute?” Lamela could barely believe his ears. Oikawa had just volunteered more information about his wife in thirty seconds than all of CA San Juan and the Argentina national team had gathered in a year. He stared helplessly at the picture of Oikawa grinning cheekily in front of a volleyball net on a crowded beach.

While Lamela was flipping out that Oikawa was so casually undermining his entire spreadsheet, Sosa was questioning every life decision he had ever made regarding gossip about Oikawa’s personal life. His wife had been livid when Sosa absconded with their sister-in-law every evening for a week. Even after she found out they were just eavesdropping on Oikawa speaking Japanese on the phone, Sosa had slept on the couch for nearly a month. All he got for his monumental effort was a measly crumb that Oikawa and his wife talked about volleyball a lot. And now Oikawa was just going to waltz in and let everyone know his wife was some kind of beach volleyball star who could pair up with Argentina’s starting setter?

“Your wife plays volleyball?” was all Sosa could manage.

“Yup,” Oikawa replied. “She’s really good.”

“Is she a setter too?”

Oikawa shook his head. His teammates were surprised. Usually in co-ed beach volleyball, the women focused on setting the ball since they didn’t have the strength to hit past blocks set up by the men. Oikawa saw the confused look on his teammates’ faces and flashed them a bright smile. “She’s my ace.”

“I didn’t know you played beach volleyball.” Sosa said weakly, wondering what kind of woman could keep up with Oikawa on the sand.

“Oh yeah, I picked it up two years ago in Brazil when I ran into a friend from Japan. You guys might know of him? I think people call him Ninja Shoyo on the internet?”

All talk about Oikawa’s beach-volleyball-playing, recent American-college-grad wife was forgotten. Sosa actually squeaked, his wife, being Brazilian, was a huge fan of Ninja Shoyo. Oikawa flipped through his phone a bit and turned it around to show his teammates the selfie he had taken with Hinata in Rio. CA San Juan crowded around the phone and their jaws dropped in disbelief. In that moment, Oikawa could have been married to Eva Perón for all they cared. Being friends with Ninja Shoyo was a much bigger deal.

For the next few days, all CA San Juan could talk about was Oikawa secretly moonlighting as a beach volleyball player not only with his California-girl wife but also viral star Ninja Shoyo. At first, Oikawa was happy to answer questions.

Yes, Ninja Shoyo was more skilled than his wife at beach volleyball. Yes, he had told her that. Yes, he had gotten in trouble for it. No, Ninja Shoyo was not a better beach partner than his wife.  

After a while however, Oikawa’s answers got shorter and terser, to the point where he visibly cringed at any mention of his wife. Usually, after Oikawa visited his wife in Los Angeles, he practically radiated California sunshine for weeks afterwards. This time, that sunny energy had dissipated in a matter of days.

On the court, Oikawa was the same. Intense, focused, reading his teammates’ every move to deliver them perfect sets. As soon as he stepped off the court however, Oikawa visibly deflated. His face collapsed almost instantly. Dark circles appeared under his eyes and worry lines formed in his forehead. And it wasn’t getting better. Oikawa had been this way for months.

Correa was reminded of the time more than a year ago when Oikawa’s wife got into an accident shortly before his naturalization. Oikawa had quietly gone into such a deep shock that even his usually flawless volleyball skills slowed down. But after a late-night cry in an empty gym, Oikawa was more or less back to normal the next day. This time was different. Something was festering inside Oikawa and even though he managed to suppress it completely on the court, it was painfully obvious that off court, it was consuming him whole.

After Correa saw Oikawa nod off in the locker room for the second time in a week, he decided it was time for an intervention. Correa technically had a rule that he didn’t meddle in his players’ personal lives unless it was affecting their playing, but at this rate, Oikawa was going to walk off the court after setting a perfect game and pass out the moment his feet crossed the sideline.

Before Correa could pull Oikawa aside after practice, he saw Lamela gesturing at him urgently. In an empty hallway away from the team, Lamela handed him a small stack of spreadsheet printouts.  

“Oikawa’s wife isn’t in California anymore,” Lamela said soberly. Correa blinked; this scene was eerily familiar. Two years ago Lamela had made an almost identical announcement, complete with the same color-coded spreadsheet. But now, Lamela had neither the bravado nor the audience as he presented the evidence for Oikawa’s wife’s current location.

“Where is she?”

“I think she’s back in Japan.” Lamela pointed at a column on the spreadsheet. “His evening calls to his wife have stopped. He doesn’t check his phone at 11am on the dot anymore. Actually, he barely checks his phone at all during the day even though he was addicted to it before. Instead, he calls someone at 7pm, but only for about twenty minutes. In the morning, he wakes up super early, I’m not sure when, I think around 5, and works out while everyone is sleeping. When everyone else is working out at 7, he’s on the phone again.”

“So, you think he calls his wife during our morning after she’s gotten home from work, and then calls her again at night when she’s going about her morning routine?”

Lamela nodded. “There’s no way she’s still in California with this schedule.”

“Have you told anyone else?”

Lamela shook his head.

“Matias, I’m proud of you. A year ago, you would’ve broadcast this to the entire team.”

There was a moment of silence. Lamela’s eyes fell onto the spreadsheet that he was still holding and mumbled, “He just looks so sad all the time. I don’t know what to do.”

If someone had told Correa even yesterday that Matias Lamela cared about Tohru Oikawa’s personal well-being more than he cared about gossip about Tohru Oikawa’s secret wife, Correa would not have believed it. Yet here he was, in an empty hallway with Lamela so worried that he was on the verge of tears. Finally, Correa patted Lamela on the back. “It’s going to be ok. We’re going to Japan for the FIVB World Cup next month. He can see her then.”

Chapter Text

Lamela was trying to cheer Oikawa up without revealing that he had once again recorded Oikawa’s movements into a spreadsheet to determine his wife’s geographical location. They were at training camp in Buenos Aires and would be traveling to Japan a full week before the start of the 2019 FIVB World Cup to get used to the time difference.

“Are you excited to go back to Japan?” Lamela asked, sprawled out on his bed after another day of jumping until it felt like his legs would fall off.

Oikawa was looking at his phone and didn’t seem to hear. Lamela checked his watch. It was nearly nine, Oikawa was probably texting his wife already though the furrow in his brow suggested that Oikawa was not particularly pleased with what she was saying. The way Oikawa was glaring at his phone made Lamela feel like he was interrupting a very personal moment.

Lamela cleared his throat and tried again. “So, our first round is in Fukuoka. Is that near where you’re from?”

“…No, I’m from around Sendai,” Oikawa said while shaking his head absentmindedly, still not looking at Lamela.

The conversation dropped off again and Lamela was just about to crawl out of bed and shower when he heard Oikawa audibly click his tongue in annoyance. That was it. Lamela was sick of feeling like an intruder in his own room. “Are you talking to your wife?” Lamela asked, a bit too quickly to be casual.

That got his attention. Oikawa’s head snapped up and Lamela could detect a faint blush blossoming on his cheeks. “Y-yes,” Oikawa managed to stutter. He had been so engrossed in his silent conversation that he was caught completely off-guard.

“Your wife lives in Japan now, right?” Lamela asked, gaining confidence. “Does she live in Fukuoka? Or Hiroshima?”

“She doesn’t… but she will be at the tournament.”

Lamela blinked. He had not expected to get this far. “Is she coming to watch you play?”

“Not exactly. She’ll be there with the Japanese team.”

Lamela’s jaw dropped. He knew Oikawa’s wife partnered better with him on the sand than Ninja Shoyo, but a member of the top-ranked Japanese women’s national volleyball team? Lamela was so shocked that he didn’t even realize Oikawa had just conveniently narrowed down the possible candidates for his wife from 65 million to 16.

“Are you going to see her?” Lamela finally managed to say, a bit jealous that Oikawa was half of a volleyball power couple.

Oikawa nodded then opened his mouth as if to say something. He glanced over at Lamela who was doing his best to keep a straight face. Oikawa quickly looked away. By now, the blush had traveled from Oikawa’s cheeks to his entire face and neck. Finally, he said in a barely audible mumble, “I miss waking up at the same time.”

“What?” Lamela asked automatically, mentally kicking himself for being so blunt.

Oikawa sighed and looked at his phone. “It feels like we’re in alternate universes. Every morning when I wake up, she’s lived an entire day without me. And every night before I go to bed, she’s getting ready to go through another day alone. It’s like I’m missing our entire life together by being asleep.”

Having never even had a serious girlfriend before, let alone a long-distance spouse, Lamela really didn’t know what to say that. Thankfully, the awkward silence was broken by a ping from Oikawa’s phone. He looked down to read the message and his face immediately darkened into a scowl. Lamela grabbed his towel and darted into the bathroom.

Even in the bathroom, there was no saving Lamela. The noise from the shower didn’t completely drown out Oikawa’s phone call in the next room. Thankfully, most of the conversation was in Japanese. But at one point, Lamela very loudly and very clearly heard Oikawa yell in Spanish, “Can you just give me a fucking break. You’re not my mother… Yes, I know you speak Spanish and understood that. That’s why I said it, but apparently it isn’t necessary since you know every fucking thing about me already don’t you, mi amor.”

Oikawa said “mi amor” with such venom that Lamela wanted to crawl into the shower drain and disappear forever.

Lamela had not meant to spill Oikawa’s secret. By now, Oikawa had walked in on Lamela using the toilet multiple times already so Lamela could confidently say that Oikawa was his best friend on the national team. Best friends did not gossip about each other’s personal lives. Lamela had even deleted his spreadsheet after Oikawa confirmed his wife had in fact returned to Japan. But their 24-hour journey from Buenos Aires to Tokyo was just days away and Lamela had barely gotten any sleep.

It wasn’t Oikawa’s competitive sleep talking that was keeping him up this time. A good pair of earplugs solved that problem long ago. No, Oikawa was no longer cursing off the entire Japanese starting lineup in his sleep. Ever since the blowout fight with his wife, Oikawa had taken up the habit of hunching over in his bed, glued to his phone, angrily texting his wife deep into the night. Though Oikawa covered his entire head with the blanket, Lamela’s bed was less than two feet from Oikawa’s and he could clearly see the glow of Oikawa’s phone even when his eyes were closed. That combined with the constant sounds of exasperation Oikawa made every time he received a text rendered it nearly impossible for Lamela to sleep.

It was obvious who Oikawa was talking to. When Lamela finally managed to fall asleep, he often found himself rudely jerked out of his dreams every morning by the sound of Oikawa practically hissing into his phone, throwing in a sarcastic “mi amor” every so often. But what really gave it away was how Oikawa jerked at the wedding ring around the neck, like the thin chain holding the ring was actually a shackle he was trying to break out of.

At breakfast, Martinez watched as Lamela tried to spoon some oatmeal into his mouth only to miss and have it dribble down his chin. Lamela tried to wipe it with a napkin but was so tired he only managed to smear the oatmeal over his cheek. Martinez couldn’t stand it anymore. He grabbed the napkin out of Lamela’s hand and wiped his face for him like he was a toddler. “Oi Matias, get it together. What’s gotten into you? At this rate you’re not going to survive the flight to Japan.”

 Lamela’s eyes cleared up a bit at the mention of Japan. “How many more days until we go to Fukuoka?”


“Ten. I just have to survive ten more days. Then Oikawa can see his wife and I’ll be free of his angst,” Lamela sighed wistfully, giving up on his oatmeal and burying his head in his arms.

“We’re going to Tokyo to train first. Oikawa can see his wife in three days. Did you forget?”

“I didn’t forget,” came Lamela’s muffled voice. “His wife is on the women’s national team and they’ll be playing in Osaka while we’re in Tokyo. He’ll have to wait until the women’s tournament is over before he can see her.”

Lamela had already started dozing off when he felt Martinez shaking him violently. “Oikawa’s wife is on the Japanese women’s volleyball team?” Martinez nearly screamed. Lamela’s eyes shot open. Oh shit. He hadn’t meant to say that.

Chapter Text

“Kanoka Amanai.”

Lamela looked up from the game he was playing on his phone to kill time in the Ezeiza Airport lounge. Thank god the national team had sprung for business class this time. Lamela was sure that he would sustain permanent damage if he tried to squash all 2.05 meters of himself into an economy seat for more than 24 hours.

“Bless you?” Lamela replied, very confused.

“Kanoka Amanai,” Martinez repeated confidently.

“Is that a person?”

“It’s Oikawa’s wife.”

Lamela immediately exited out of the game and looked around the lounge to make sure Oikawa was out of earshot. “What do you mean it’s Oikawa’s wife,” he whispered.

Martinez pulled out what looked suspiciously like printouts of a color-coded spreadsheet. Lamela opened his mouth to object but Martinez beat him to it. “Now Matias, I know you told us to cut it out with the spreadsheet, but I saved a copy before you deleted it.”

“What the fuck Agustin,” Lamela said angrily, “There’s a reason I deleted it. Tohru doesn’t need us fucking around in his personal life right now.”

“I’m not trying to mess with him, I swear,” said Martinez, holding his hands up innocently. “But you said yourself that Oikawa was arguing with his wife a lot. We could set up something nice for them.”

Lamela sighed. It was true that Lamela was pathetically looking forward to sleeping on the plane because at least up in the air Oikawa didn’t have service so he couldn’t spend the wee hours of the morning hissing into his phone in Japanese. Also, Kanoka Amanai was the first candidate Martinez had suggested who was under the age of 35 so clearly Martinez was serious for once.

“Ok,” Lamela finally said, “What makes you think out of the 16 members on the Japan women’s team, Kanoka Amanai is the one who’s married to Oikawa.”

Martinez sat down across from Lamela, triumphantly slamming the spreadsheet onto the table. Upon closer examination, Lamela saw that in addition to the spreadsheet, Martinez also had a literal dossier on Kanoka Amanai.

“What do we know about Oikawa’s wife? Let’s start with the basics. She’s Japanese and she’s beautiful.” Martinez held up a picture of a Japanese woman with large eyes, long lashes, and chicly cropped hair. “I think we can both agree Miss Amanai easily fulfills both those requirements.”

“Ok now you’re going to tell me she’s Oikawa’s wife because she’s good at beach volleyball. Half the facts we know literally match every member of the Japan women’s volleyball team,” Lamela said.

Martinez could tell Lamela was unimpressed. He pulled out a map of Japan. “How about this. Oikawa has also said he’s been with his wife since at least high school, right? Oikawa is from near Sendai which is in a prefecture called Miyagi and guess which high school is also in Miyagi.” Martinez dramatically pointed at a circle on the map. “Volleyball powerhouse Niiyama Girls’ High. Alma mater of a great number of illustrious alumni including, you guessed it. Miss Kanoka Amanai.”

Seeing that Lamela had nothing to say about that, Martinez pressed on. “And here’s the kicker. Oikawa’s wife went to college in California, yeah? Well I searched up every member of the Japan women’s national team and they all went pro right after high school with a single exception.”

With that, Martinez stood up and dramatically dropped a picture onto the table. It was of Kanoka Amanai sitting on a ledge in front of a grandiose building. She was wearing a white dress and had a blue and gold stole draped around her shoulders.

“Kanoka Amanai,” Martinez announced dramatically, “Attended University of California Berkeley.”

With that, Martinez sat back down into his chair with his arms crossed, looking very pleased with himself. Lamela examined the picture, wondering how Martinez had even gotten hold of a photo that was clearly from a personal photoshoot.

“University of California Berkeley?” Lamela asked. “I’ve never heard of it. Where is Berkeley? Is that in Los Angeles? Oikawa’s wife went to school in Los Angeles.”

“Of course it’s in Los Angeles,” Martinez said, offended that Lamela was questioning his research. “All of California is Los Angeles.”

The two sat in silence as Lamela cross referenced Kanoka Amanai’s dossier with the facts laid out in the spreadsheet. Everything checked out… everything except one thing.

“Do you think she would maul his neck?” Lamela asked without looking up.


“The first Christmas after they got married, Oikawa visited his wife in California and came back looking like he had been strangled. He refused to change in the locker room for a week so I’m guessing the rest of his body was just as bad.”

Wordlessly, Martinez pulled out his phone and handed it to Lamela. On it was a YouTube video titled “Kanoka Amanai Destroys South Korea with 6 Aces in a Row | World Cup 2019.” As Lamela watched Kanoka Amanai smash a ball so hard across the net that the South Korean libero literally went flying backwards, he unconsciously touched his own neck and wondered how Oikawa was still alive with a wife like that.

Lie-flat business class seats are nice but they’re nothing compared to an actual bed. When Oikawa and Lamela finally got to their hotel room in Tokyo, both of them collapsed into bed still wearing their gross airplane clothes and passed out immediately.

Actually, Lamela passed out for the entire week, sleeping more than he had in the past three combined. Every night before going to bed, Lamela silently thanked god that Oikawa and his wife were finally in the same time zone and could no longer keep him up all night with their domestic disputes. Lamela slept so soundly that he didn’t even notice his roommate creeping out of their room late at night and silently slipping back into bed just before dawn.

Chapter Text

Just being in the same time zone was doing wonders for Oikawa and his wife. Though Oikawa still seemed tired all the time despite going to bed before Lamela and waking up after him, Oikawa was visibly perkier, chattering brightly as he showed him teammates around his home country.

“He’s like a completely different person,” Martinez whispered to Lamela as Oikawa led them through the biggest store they had ever seen.

“Mitsukoshi is Japan’s oldest and largest department store! It dates back to 1673 when it first opened as a kimono shop. The Nihombashi flagship we’re currently in is nine stories of heaven. When I was little, my sister and I convinced our mom to take us to the store in Sendai, but she didn’t let us buy anything because it was too expensive.”

The only person really listening to Oikawa prattle about Mitsukoshi was Bruno, a young setter who played club in Brazil for Funvic Taubaté. Bruno for some reason was still convinced that Oikawa’s wife was actually a husband. Lamela suspected that Bruno was only listening to Oikawa so he could gather more evidence for his crazy theory.

“Oh, and the best part,” Oikawa exclaimed, stopping in front of a giant Louis Vuitton display, “Is that as foreigners, you guys get to shop tax-free!”

“You guys?” Martinez said automatically, “You also get to shop tax-free.”

The smile on Oikawa’s face faded briefly before returning two-fold. “You’re right! I do!” Oikawa said brightly.

Lamela however, noticed that the smile didn’t quite reach Oikawa’s eyes this time. He sharply elbowed Martinez, cleared his throat and said, “Are you going to get your wife something for when you finally see her?”

“When I finally see her?” Oikawa asked, confused.

“Yeah, for when you see her after the women’s tournament is over. They beat Serbia yesterday. That’s a pretty big deal, right?”

Oikawa waved his hand dramatically, “My wife doesn’t care for such trinkets. Her greatest present will be my presence.”

Everyone on the Argentina national team watched in shock as Oikawa waltzed around a store that was literally a woman’s fantasy and didn’t buy a single thing for the wife he hadn’t seen in months. Everyone except Bruno, who shot Lamela a knowing look as Oikawa stopped at a Shiseido counter to sample face creams.

“Tohru needs help.” Martinez cornered Lamela just as he was about to go check out some street vending machines. “After watching Miss Kanoka Amanai score those killer aces on Serbia yesterday, I don’t want her beating our starting setter to a pulp when Tohru shows up to their long-anticipated reunion empty handed.”

Usually Lamela would try to tamp down Martinez’s enthusiasm about Oikawa’s personal life. But after Oikawa spent half a day at Mitsukoshi buying presents for his mom and sister but not his wife, Lamela thought Martinez might have a point. Lamela had even taken a picture of Oikawa with a perfectly round melon that cost as much as a plane ticket which Oikawa promptly sent to his wife with a wicked grin on his face. Oikawa was setting himself up for major disappointment.

“He hasn’t even seen her yet,” Lamela said. “And he’s acting like he’s already rocked her world.”

“Exactly. We all saw how down he was when they were 12 hours apart. Now that they’re in the same time zone everything is just fine again? The heart of a woman is not that simple.”

“Like you would know,” Lamela muttered under his breath.

“Excuse me. I’m not the one looking up maid cafes.”

“I just wanted to see if they’re actually real or not,” Lamela said shrilly, turning a bit red.

“Whatever. This isn’t about us. My highly confidential source in the women’s tournament-”

“You mean your sister on the women’s national team,” Lamela interrupted.

“You’re ruining all the mystery, Matias,” Martinez said before continuing, “My beautiful and adorable little sister on the women’s national team, Catalina, whom you are obsessed with, has informed me that the Japan women’s national team is departing Osaka promptly after their final match to travel to Fukuoka to support their male counterparts.”

Lamela turned even redder at the mention of his not-so-secret crush on Catalina Martinez but he managed to regain his composure enough to reason, “There’s a day in between when the women’s tournament ends and when the men’s tournament begins.”

“Exactly. That is when Tohru and the lovely Miss Kanoka will at last reunite and that is when we will swoop in and save the day,” Martinez said, brandishing a glossy Mitsukoshi shopping bag in Lamela’s face. Martinez raised his voice for dramatic effect. “Oh Tohru you silly man. You were so eager to see the lovely Miss Kanoka that you left her present in the hotel. Thank goodness you have caring teammates like us.”

“How do you know she’ll like it,” Lamela asked skeptically.

“As I have said, my painfully single friend, heart of a woman is not that simple. Perhaps one day you will also learn to understand it.”

“Catalina chose it didn’t she?”

Martinez nodded. Withdrawing the bag from Lamela’s face he said, “I honestly don’t even know what it is, just that it cost a shit ton of money. And she made me promise to give it to her if we don’t end up using it.”

When Lamela exited the elevator in the Fukuoka hotel, what he saw almost made him turn around. What Martinez had sold as a quiet operation to ensure Kanoka Amanai didn’t beat Oikawa to death for being an inadequate husband had swelled into full-on group stalking. In the lobby sat not only Martinez, but all of Bolivar and a smirking Bruno.

“Wait. Wait. Wait!” Martinez yelled, grabbing Lamela’s arm before he could dart back into the elevator. “I promise we’ll be subtle. He won’t have any idea we’re there unless we need to give her the present from Mitsukoshi.”

“Which means he’ll never know because Tohru’s husband doesn’t want whatever girly nonsense your sister picked out,” Bruno said, taking up an entire sofa meant for at least three people.

All of Bolivar erupted in protest.

“Shut up Bruno. Only you think Tohru’s gay.”

“Yeah go back to Brazil, Bruno.”

“Just because he wears ten layers of face creams doesn’t make him gay. It just makes him Japanese.”

Lamela could tell that Martinez was going to follow Oikawa no matter what he did. Might as well go along and try to keep them in check. And that is how Lamela found himself squeezed into the tiny FamilyMart across the street from the hotel, eyes glued to the window, waiting for Oikawa to exit the hotel.

Following Oikawa through the streets of Fukuoka turned out to be much easier than expected. Oikawa was at least a head taller than the average Japanese person. It was virtually impossible to lose him in the crowd. Of course, that also meant it was impossible for a group of giant Argentine volleyball players to blend into the crowd should Oikawa look behind him. Luckily, he never did.

Virtually impossible to lose did not mean impossible and of all places to lose Oikawa, it was in front of another Mitsukoshi department store. Half the group was sure he had gone into the store and the other half were convinced Oikawa had simply walked past it.

Only Bruno had no opinion. He just kept repeating, “This is stupid. Japan is a highly conservative country. You’re not going to catch Tohru making out with his husband in public here.”

Lamela and Martinez were just in the middle of arguing whether or not they could bring their Nihombashi Mitsukoshi shopping bag into the Fukuoka Mitsukoshi when they heard someone scream, “Argentina!”

None of them were wearing their team gear. They shouldn’t be recognizable on the street like this. The Argentines all turned their heads and standing behind them was Tobio Kageyama and a third of the Japanese men’s national team.

“Japan!” Lamela shrieked.

Chapter Text

Martinez couldn’t believe his eyes. He had lived his entire life in Buenos Aires and never got a chance meeting with Florencia Peña on the street. Instead, he’s in Japan for a little over a week and he runs into six members of Japan’s national volleyball team in front of Mitsukoshi.

Smirking to Kageyama’s left was Japan’s other setter, Atsumu Miya. To Kageyama’s right was the libero-sized wing spiker, Kourai Hoshiumi. Behind them, smiling pleasantly was actual libero, Motoyo Komori. He was flanked by Japan’s Cannon, Wakatoshi Ushijima, and a man whose face was almost entirely obscured by a surgical mask. Judging from the curly hair and the two moles on his forehead, he could only be Creepy Wrist Kiyoomi Sakusa.

Of course, of all the times to run into the Japan national team, it was the one time they were without Oikawa. On top of that, Tobio Kageyama was acting very strangely. Having finally closed his mouth after yelling “Argentina,” Kageyama kept looking up and down the street, desperately searching for something.

Martinez was trying to figure out why seeing Kageyama sent a vague chill down his spine. It wasn’t because trying to block Kageyama’s sets was the bane of his existence. Nor was it the fact that since arriving in Japan, Martinez had seen at least five giant billboards with Kageyama’s awkward face printed on it promoting different products. In fact, Kageyama looked very different off the court and out of his uniform. His hair was fluffier, his eyes a lot more innocent. In general, he looked much younger, almost as if he were…

“As if he were in middle school!” Martinez screamed. The Argentines and the Japanese looked at him, equally confused.

“What?” Lamela asked.

“He looks like his picture from middle school.” Lamela still looked confused so Martinez continued. “While I was researching Tohru and Kanoka’s past, I found a yearbook picture of Tohru’s middle school volleyball team and on the team was Tobio Kageyama!”

Lamela didn’t even have time to wonder how Martinez had managed to find a decade-old yearbook picture from a small-town Japanese middle school because Martinez was already accosting Bruno. “Bruno! Your team in Brazil has a lot of foreigners, right? You speak English, right? Ask Tobio Kageyama if he knows where to find Tohru and his wife and if we’re right about her being Kanoka Amanai.”

Bruno batted Martinez away. “No way. Even if he knew who Tohru was married to, there’s no way he’s going to out Tohru to us.”

Though Kageyama didn’t speak any Spanish, he was able to pick up that the Argentines were talking about Oikawa and he looked supremely uncomfortable hearing them use Oikawa’s first name so casually. Kageyama coughed politely. Martinez and Bruno stopped struggling and turned their attention towards Kageyama who made a setting motion and asked “Oikawa-san?”

Martinez immediately started nodding, enthusiastically making setting motions and saying, “Yes! Yes! Tohru Oikawa! Yes!” Seeing that Bruno wasn’t going to help him, Martinez decided to take matters into his own hands. “Oikawa and wife where?” Martinez asked, swiveling his head around like he was looking for someone in the crowd.

Kageyama and the rest of Team Japan stared blankly back at him. While Martinez’s English was already quite bad, Kageyama’s English vocabulary consisted exclusively of volleyball terms of which “wife” and “where” were not included. Martinez could tell that Kageyama had no idea what he was saying. So, he shoved the Mitsukoshi shopping bag into Lamela’s hands, pointed at his ring finger, and loudly asked, “Kanoka Amanai?”

As soon as Martinez said “Kanoka Amanai”, Team Japan exploded. Atsumu Miya grabbed Sakusa’s shirt and started yelling something into Sakusa’s face while Komori looked on in amusement. Likewise, Hoshiumi also turned around and was basically jumping up and down, talking excitedly to Ushijima who solemnly nodded in agreement. Only Kageyama was still looking at Martinez.

Martinez once again repeated his actions, pointing at his ring finger while asking “Kanoka Amanai?” This time, Martinez even started humming the wedding march and danced around a little as if twirling a wedding dress.

Finally, Kageyama nodded and also pointed at his ring finger. “Ah yes… Amanai-san uhhhh… mwa mwa,” Kageyama said, making a kissy face.

The Argentines were shocked. Tobio Kageyama had just confirmed Martinez’s theory that Oikawa was married to Kanoka Amanai. The mystery they had been chasing for more than a year, and in Lamela’s case, more than two years, had finally been solved. Martinez was too busy high-fiving his Bolivar teammates to notice that Lamela and Bruno were exchanging skeptical looks with each other.

Suddenly, Martinez heard a deep voice cut through the chaos that was currently the Japan national team. Everyone froze instantly. A buff and surprisingly tan Japanese man emerged from behind Kageyama who basically leapt out of his way. When Kageyama was still a teenager, Martinez had once spiked a ball so hard that it hit Kageyama squarely in the face. That was nothing compared to how terrified Kageyama looked right now, cowering from this strange man whom everyone on Team Japan seemed to know.

Though Martinez was sure he had never met this man before, there was something about his face and demeanor that looked oddly familiar. The way his eyebrows pinched in, the set of his jaw. Martinez could swear he had just seen it somewhere.

While running his hand through his spiky hair, the strange man admonished the Japanese players a bit before turning back around and bowing deeply to the Argentines. “Please excuse my team,” he said.

Martinez’s jaw dropped. So did Lamela’s. And Bruno’s. And all the Bolivar players’. This strange Japanese man, whose mere presence had been enough to rattle Ice Queen Tobio Kageyama, had just apologized to them in perfect Spanish.

The man straightened back up and stuck out his hand. “I’m Hajime Iwaizumi, assistant athletic trainer for the Japanese men’s national team. Unfortunately, it is quite uncommon in Japan to speak Spanish. I apologize for any trouble my team may have caused.” The Argentines dumbly shook Iwaizumi’s hand one-by-one, so shocked that they could only mumble a “that’s ok” or “it was no trouble at all.”

Martinez still had nothing to say so they just stood there in awkward silence for a few moments before Iwaizumi finally said, “Well, welcome to Japan. Give Tohru our best,” before turning around and ushering Kageyama and company away.

Once Iwaizumi and the others were out of earshot, Martinez turned to Lamela. “Did you hear-”

“Yes, I did,” Lamela replied quickly, looking down at Martinez, his mouth still hanging open in shock.

Any Argentine would be able to recognize it anywhere in the world. Even outside a Mitsukoshi in Fukuoka. The Italian intonations. The trademark “sh” sounds. The use of vos instead of ustedes. Not only did Hajime Iwaizumi speak Spanish; he spoke Spanish with a distinctly Argentinian accent.

Chapter Text

Iwaizumi had only accompanied the national team a few blocks before splitting off. That was more than half an hour ago but Kageyama was still white as a sheet. “Do you think he knew?” Kageyama kept asking.

Komori at last took pity on him and said, “I wouldn’t worry about it, Kageyama. Iwaizumi-san isn’t the kind to retaliate for something as petty as this.”

“It’s not Iwaizumi-san I’m worried about,” replied Kageyama. “What if he tells Oikawa-san I tried to spy on their date.”

Atsumu groaned in frustration. “You and Waka-chan are the only people who think Iwaizumi-san is married to Oikawa. You’re both insane. Oikawa is a man and he literally lives in Argentina. How could they possibly be married?”  

“My father told me that Iwaizumi and Oikawa were married in California. He would not lie to me,” Ushijima said, expression not changing though he had probably repeated that very sentence at least a few hundred times already.

Atsumu was much less patient. “And as I have told you many times, Waka-chan. That’s absolutely fucking crazy,” he nearly screamed in frustration.

“Well, there is something that supports what Wakatoshi-kun is saying,” Sakusa said. Everyone jumped in surprise. Sakusa never participated in their dumb antics. It was a miracle he had agreed to come with them at all. Sakusa continued, “Oikawa is married, but the Argentines also have no idea whom he’s married to.”

“How do you know that?” Hoshiumi asked, looking up at Sakusa suspiciously.

“Unlike most of you, I actually went to college and understand English. The Argentinian Wakatoshi-kun was asking where Oikawa and his wife were. Even though the question was made of four very basic words, one of which was ‘Oikawa’, clearly none of you understood it. So, he gave up and just asked for Oikawa’s wife by name.”

“What? Is that why he said Amanai-chan’s name while pointing at his ring finger? I thought he was asking about her engagement,” Hoshiumi said.

“Me too,” said Komori.

Sakusa looked down at his cousin, eyes filled with disappointment. “I know you also speak English. Why does hanging out with these people make you so stupid,” Sakusa whispered under his mask.

As if on-cue, Atsumu loudly screamed, “Oikawa’s stealing Kanoka-chan from Aran over my dead body.”

Kageyama looked like he was going to be ill. “I also thought he was asking about Amanai-san and Ojiro. That’s why I said yes. I thought he was asking if she said yes or not since the engagement was so recent. I even made a kissy face. Now Oikawa-san’s going to think I’m going around telling people that he’s married to Amanai-san.”

Sakusa looked at Kageyama with concern. They had met at training camp nearly a decade ago and Kageyama’s always struck Sakusa as a very cool character. On quite a few occasions, Sakusa has even heard foreign teams call Kageyama “Ice Bitch” behind his back. But then Iwaizumi unexpectantly returned back from America and joined Kageyama not only as an athletic trainer on the national team but also the Schweiden Adlers. Ever since then, Kageyama’s been on edge. The man acted like the yakuza had put out a hit on him even though everyone knew Iwaizumi wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Atsumu also noticed how terrified Kageyama seemed to be of Oikawa and jumped at the opportunity. “Well, you are going around telling people Oikawa’s married to Kanoka-chan. Should’ve studied harder in school, Tobio-kun. If you’re that scared of Oikawa, I can start for our game against Argentina.”

Shooting an angry glare at Astumu, Kageyama immediately spat, “There’s no way I’m going to let you take away a chance for me to beat Oikawa.”

“Oh, hi there Iwaizumi-san, Oikawa-san. I didn’t know you knew each other,” Hoshiumi said while peering behind Kageyama. Kageyama breathed in so fast he started to choke. “Just kidding. What’s your deal with them anyways?”

“I believe Oikawa bullied Kageyama quite harshly in middle school. It seems Iwaizumi was much kinder. Iwaizumi’s marriage to Oikawa has put Kageyama in a difficult position. Kageyama feels he can longer trust Iwaizumi after Iwaizumi has demonstrated such poor judgement by marrying Oikawa,” said Ushijima. Everyone was shocked that something actually intelligent had come out of Ushijima’s mouth.

“Where in the world did you get that from, Waka-chan?” asked Atsumu.

Ushijima shrugged. “My mother has had quite a few bad boyfriends over the years.”

Kageyama looked like he wanted to murder Ushijima. “Iwaizumi and Oikawa are not my mom and dad,” Kageyama gritted through his teeth.

“Technically, Ushijima only suggested that Iwaizumi is your mother who has bad taste in men,” Komori said with a smile on his face, “Making Oikawa your father was all you.”

Sakusa nodded approvingly next to Komori. Finally, his cousin had done something that didn’t make Sakusa embarrassed to share a bloodline.

A horrified look crossed over Kageyama’s face as he realized what he had just implied. Atsumu patted him on the back. “Don’t stress out too much over it Tobio-kun. All children are naturally curious about their parents’ love lives.”

Martinez, Lamela, Bruno, and the Bolivar players were so thrown off by Hajime Iwaizumi and his Argentinian Spanish that they didn’t have it in them to keep looking for Oikawa. The Bolivar players left to go to the beach and Bruno slipped away almost immediately after. So that’s how Lamela found himself and Martinez slumped over in their hotel lobby, exhausted from the day’s events.

Just as Lamela was about to peel himself off the couch to sulk in the comfort of his own bed, he heard the elevator ding. The doors opened and out glided the most beautiful woman Lamela had ever seen. Well, technically he had seen her before, but this was the first time he got to see her up close.

Dark hair framed her sharp face perfectly before cascading in bouncy curls down her back. She was incredibly tall and the way she stood made it abundantly clear that she was proud of it. Bright eyes looked around the lobby and when they briefly locked onto his, Lamela forgot how to breathe. Luckily, the woman’s gaze immediately shifted over to the man next to Lamela and her eyes crinkled in amusement.

She began to walk over and Lamela’s first thought was run but it was too late. She was already here. “What’s up dummy? Give up already?” the woman asked, towering over Martinez who was folded into a love seat.

While Agustin Martinez looked like he could play Captain Argentina in a Marvel movie, his sister, Catalina Martinez, put every Golden Age Argentinian movie star to shame. Up until now, Lamela had only seen Catalina in matches; hair tied up in a high ponytail, face dripping with sweat. Even then, from far up in the stands, he had found her extremely pretty. But now that was she a mere foot away from him, Lamela knew that he was totally and completely besotted.

Martinez moved his hand away from where it was covering his eyes and shot his sister a dirty look. “What do you want, Catalina? We couldn’t catch Tohru’s date with Kanoka Amanai.”

“I would hope not,” Catalina replied, “I don’t think Kanoka’s fiancé would like that very much.”

“Fiancé?” Martinez sat up immediately. “What do you mean fiancé?”

Catalina pretended to examine her nails. “Aran Ojiro from the Japan national team successfully proposed to her last night. That’s the real reason why the women’s team left Osaka so early. He managed to convince the entire team and their staff to come to Fukuoka early. Isn’t that so romantic?”

So that’s why the Japanese players they ran into outside Mitsukoshi were so excited when Martinez asked about Kanoka Amanai. Lamela buried his face in his hands. They were wrong again. Lamela secretly breathed a sigh of relief. Though on paper Oikawa and Kanoka Amanai looked like a match made in volleyball heaven, Lamela for some reason just couldn’t envision the two of them together.

Martinez was furious. “You set me up!” he yelled at his sister. “You knew this entire time Kanoka Amanai wasn’t married to Tohru!”

Catalina shrugged. “It’s not my fault you’re dumb enough to think Berkeley and Los Angeles are the same place. That’s like saying Santa Fe and Buenos Aires are the same place.”

Having grown up together, Catalina knew exactly how to push her big brother’s buttons. Martinez was so mad he started making demonic noises. Lamela looked up to make sure Martinez wasn’t choking. Martinez’s face was bright red with rage but otherwise he was unharmed. Lamela, however, realized too late what a huge mistake it was to uncover his face. Immediately, he felt Catalina’s sharp eyes fix onto him.

“Is that for me?” Catalina asked.

For a second, Lamela had no idea what she was talking about. But a small voice in his head screamed. Yes! I am for you! Take me! It was interrupted by Lamela realizing he was still clutching the Mitsukoshi shopping bag.

Still too scared to make eye contact, Lamela stood up and practically shoved the bag at her. “I-I’m Matias Lamela,” he managed to choke out.

Catalina took the bag and said, “I know who you are, Matias Lamela. You’re good. I’ve seen you block Matt Anderson from the United States.”

Before Lamela could stop himself, he found himself blurting, “Well you’re better because I’ve seen you block Zhu Ting from China.”

There was silence for a moment and Lamela was sure he had fucked it all up. Gingerly, he raised his gaze and managed to sneak a peek at Catalina’s perfect face. Catching his eye, Catalina flashed Lamela a smile while laughing gently. The sound of Catalina’s laugh was so beautiful Lamela thought he was going to pass out.

“Thank you for putting up with my dumb big brother,” Catalina said. “He always has a lot of really nice things to say about you.”

Suddenly, Lamela felt something or someone possess his body. One moment, he was trembling with the effort of being in the presence of someone so stunning. But in the next moment, he had grabbed Catalina’s free hand and was gently bringing it up to his lips while smoothly saying, “If it takes putting up with Agustin for us to meet, it will have been worth it.”

Martinez looked on in horror as his little sister blushed bright red in response to Matias Lamela of all people kissing her hand.

Oikawa had been loitering in the basement food hall of the Fukuoka Mitsukoshi for at least an hour before he heard a set of familiar footsteps approaching him. He looked up with a smile, teasing, “You’re late Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi stopped in front of Oikawa with a scowl. “You’re lucky I’m here at all after you sent me a blurry picture in front of some gift melons with the caption ‘See you here in Fukuoka’. Thank god you talk about Mitsukoshi so much I actually recognized it.”

Oikawa pouted. “Mean, Iwa-chan. Is that how you greet your beloved husband after all these months apart?”

“I hate to break it to you. If this is our first meeting in months, then I’ve been cheating on you every night for the past week,” Iwaizumi said with a smirk.

“You know what I mean, Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi’s face softened. “Yeah I do. Welcome home, Tohru. Let’s get out of here, I’ll buy you some ramen.”

“Wait!” Oikawa said, a bit too loudly and a bit too quickly. He bowed down and held out a glossy Mitsukoshi shopping bag in both hands. “This is for you.”

Iwaizumi was stunned, and a bit scared. Was he supposed to have gotten Oikawa something? He looked around desperately as if someone would conveniently pop up from behind a counter with another Mitsukoshi shopping bag containing Oikawa’s gift.

“This isn’t a reunion gift,” Oikawa said. Iwaizumi breathed a sigh of relief. “This is a congratulations gift. For your new job. Or jobs. Please accept it.”

Despite Oikawa being a professional athlete and the bag not looking that heavy, Oikawa’s arms had started to tremble. Iwaizumi finally took the bag from him and Oikawa straightened back up, avoiding looking Iwaizumi in the eye. Iwaizumi was taken aback at the fearful, guilty look written all over Oikawa’s face. “I know I haven’t been the most supportive about you joining the Adlers and the national team, but despite all that I’m still incredibly proud of you. I hope this very expensive gift melon conveys the feelings that I can’t manage to say out loud.”

At the mention of the Schweiden Adlers, Iwaizumi’s natural first reaction was to open his mouth to defend himself. But for once Oikawa wasn’t combative at the mere mention of the word, spitting out “Adlers” like it was poison in his mouth. Iwaizumi looked around to make sure no one was watching them before softly grasping Oikawa’s chin and turning his face until their eyes met. “Thank you for the melon, Tohru.” Iwaizumi said softly, “It means a lot.”

Oikawa’s eyes widen before he jerked his face out of Iwaizumi’s hand and forcefully pushing him away. “Don’t do that here. Someone might see us.”

Chapter Text

Martinez was fuming. After watching Lamela kiss his precious little sister’s hand, his fight or flight instinct had taken over and that’s how he found himself back in his hotel room hours later, trying to erase the memory from his mind. He was just on the brink of convincing himself that it had all been a vivid hallucination when his roommate returned.

“Agustin, the beach was super fun. You should’ve come. By the way, did you know Matias is chatting up your sister in the lobby?”

Lamela was so dead. At the team meeting that night, Martinez was so busy glaring at Lamela that he didn’t even notice Oikawa tripping in at the last minute, hair askew and shirt inside-out.

After the meeting, Martinez was still so preoccupied with listing all the ways he could make Lamela disappear that he let his feet carry him out of the conference room automatically. Everyone ducked out of his way. Everyone except Oikawa, who was so engrossed with his phone that he didn’t notice Martinez until they collided with each other.

“Oh, sorry Tohru,” Martinez said, snapping out of his murderous musings to pick Oikawa’s phone off the ground. Seeing the Japanese characters on Oikawa’s phone reminded Martinez of what had transpired earlier that day, before Lamela became his mortal enemy. “Actually, you wouldn’t believe what happened today. Matias, Bruno, and a bunch of us were walking around and we bumped into some members of the Japanese team. There was this guy with them, what was his name?”

“Hajime Iwaizumi,” a passing Bolivar player offered helpfully. “He said to give you their best.”

“Ah yes, Hajime Iwaizumi,” Martinez said. He didn’t know if he was imagining things, but he could’ve sworn he saw Oikawa stiffen when he heard the name. “He spoke Spanish with an Argentinian accent.”

“That guy was crazy,” said another Bolivar player.

“Had the entire Japanese national team under his thumb.”

“His Spanish sounded exactly like yours, Tohru.”

“Y-you met another Japanese person who speaks Spanish like me?” Oikawa stuttered.

“Yeah, outside your favorite place, Mitsukoshi. Do you know him?” Martinez asked, “He’s an athletic trainer for the Japan men’s team.”

 “I think Ninja Shoyo’s mentioned that the national team got a new trainer from overseas.”

“You don’t know him?” Bruno asked, having appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

“Not really. Not every Japanese person in Argentina knows each other.”

Bruno furrowed his brow but otherwise remained slient.

“You should be friends with him, Tohru,” piped another Bolivar player. "His name is Hajime Iwaizumi, if you want to look him up.”

Just then, Correa was passing by the group and suddenly stopped, “What did you just say?”

The group stiffened. Their captain never cared about their dumb gossip. “We met a Japanese man who spoke Argentinian Spanish today. His name is Hajime Iwaizumi and he’s an athletic trainer for the Japanese men’s team,” Martinez replied apprehensively.


Martinez nodded. “Do you… know him?”

Correa shook his head and turned around to leave. “Get some rest. We have a tough match tomorrow.”

Oikawa scampered off, closely followed by Martinez who was muttering something about tucking Lamela into bed and wishing him sweet dreams. One of the Bolivar players looked over at Bruno who was watching Oikawa’s retreating figure. “By the way Bruno, did you guys ever catch Tohru and Kanoka Amanai?”

Bruno shook his head silently. The Bolivar player looked taken aback. “What? No more sassy theories about Tohru’s wife being a man?”

“We knew you were wrong,” added someone else, “How disgusting would it be if Tohru was actually gay. He’s seen me naked so many times.”

For a moment it looked like Bruno was going to punch someone in the face, but he regained his composure and simply said, “You should listen to the captain and get some rest. The match tomorrow’s going to be murder.”

Murder was an understatement. Argentina’s first match of their 2019 FIVB World Cup campaign was against the United States. Though it was the tournament’s very first match on the very first day, the crowd was sparse. The Americans were the top seed in the group and the Argentines were second to last not including the host, Japan. The match was projected to end in total defeat for Argentina. Not very entertaining to watch.

“I think Matt Anderson grew taller. And so did Aaron Russell and Max Holt,” Lamela worried as they exited the locker room.

“They’re all literally the exact same height as you,” Martinez said. Lamela flinched, waiting for Martinez to tack on a death threat. However, Martinez wasn’t going to let something as inconsequential as Lamela flirting with his sister affect his performance at the World Cup. Murdering Lamela would have to wait until after the tournament.

“It’s time to go,” Correa said, leading the team out towards the court.

The last time Oikawa had stepped onto a volleyball court in Japan was in the Sendai City Gymnasium back in high school. That was more than seven years ago. Oikawa still remembered how in awe he had been every time Aobajohsai made the finals and got to play in center court, the entire gymnasium focused on them. In the seven years since, Oikawa’s played in much larger stadiums with much larger crowds, but he had never felt as scared as he did now.

The nationalism hasn’t gotten any better, Iwaizumi had told him. If anything, it’s gotten worse. They’re not going to like seeing you in another country’s colors, Tohru. Oikawa shook his head, dispersing the memory from his mind. He hadn’t suffered 24-hours of air travel to be well-liked. He came here to win so he set his jaw and followed his team out onto the court. Despite the sparse crowd, an audible gasp rippled through the stadium when the cameras focused on Oikawa’s face, projecting it onto the large screens that hung above the court.

The Japanese crowd had recognized him as one of their own; Oikawa seized up in fear. Just as Oikawa was about to duck behind Lamela to hide, the camera swung away. Soft applause and a few muted cheers floated out of the audience.

The Americans had just entered from the other side of the court. Erik and Kawika Shoji were smiling and waving; their Japanese faces tilted up to face the crowd. There was a mumble of understanding and Oikawa breathed a sigh of relief. The crowd thought he was a nisei or sansei like the Japanese-American Shoji brothers. As one of the world’s top liberos, Erik Shoji was a huge pain to play against, but Oikawa was thankful that his first match back in Japan after changing citizenship would be against an American who looked like him.  

While the Americans warmed up, Oikawa closed his eyes and mentally went through the familiar motions of tucking all his anxieties away in the neat little box inside his head. Being a traitor to his country, pushing Iwa-chan away in Mitsukoshi… everything wrong between him and Iwa-chan would have to wait until after the match.

Oikawa opened his eyes just in time to see Jeff Jendryk jump up for a block against Matt Anderson. “Matias,” Oikawa asked Lamela, “Do you notice anything?”

Lamela was watching Jendryk closely. At 2.08m, Jendryk was one of the few middle blockers taller than Lamela, a fact that caused Lamela constant grief. After a short pause, Lamela nodded. “He’s slow. The Americans think they have this in the bag.”

Oikawa had wicked smile of his face. “They won’t stay slow forever, but I intend to make them regret underestimating us.”

As the referee checked their lineups, Oikawa brought his wedding ring up to his mouth. “Wish me luck, Iwa-chan,” he whispered in Japanese before firmly pressing the ring to his lips for a kiss.

Someone handed Oikawa the ball and while spinning it in his hands, he turned to Lamela and said, “Let’s see exactly how slow they are.” With that, Oikawa walked back to the end line and served an ace so fast the Americans didn’t even have a chance to move.

The Argentines tore through the first two sets and were a mere 25 points away from upsetting a tournament favorite. However, this wasn’t the first time Oikawa had faced off against the Americans. He knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.

It was a long tournament and Oikawa could tell the American setter, Micah Christenson, was trying to save the shoulders of his hitters for more competitive matches. But Oikawa had forced Christenson into a corner. In the third set, Christenson finally kicked his team into first gear. Suddenly, Oikawa felt like he was playing against a team of Ushiwakas, all directed by a setter who could run circles around Kageyama. The tide was coming in and the Argentines were at risk of being swept away.

Somehow, after losing two sets, Oikawa managed to drag his team to match point before Christenson did. And who stepped back to serve but Lamela’s worst nightmare himself, Jeff Jendryk. For once, Lamela’s face wasn’t consumed by fear as he stared down one of his toughest rivals. Oikawa watched proudly as Lamela glared at Jendryk through the net, daring him to mess up. As the serve flew above Oikawa’s head, he could tell that the pressure from Lamela had gotten to Jendryk; the serve was easy.

An easy pass, an easy set, and an easy dink by Lamela off the fingertips of the scattered American blockers. The ball fell onto the court with a thud, mere centimeters in front of Jeff Jendryk’s outstretched hand.

First Poland a year ago and now the United States. The Argentinian side of the court erupted in cheers and the bench exploded. Oikawa threw himself at Lamela who looked dazed. “You made them regret it,” Lamela whispered.

“We made them regret it,” Oikawa shouted back. He wasn’t sure if Lamela had heard; Lamela was too busy watching Jendryk pick himself up off the ground.

Oikawa had just finished shaking hands with the Americans when a reporter approached him with a microphone. From the corner of his eye, he saw Erik Shoji nudge his brother and they shot him a sympathetic look.

“Oikawa-san, congratulations on your upset over the United States who are the top-ranked team in the group. How does it feel to have such a good start to the tournament?”

“Well the team’s been great, we prepared-” Oikawa started to answer but stopped when he saw the shock on the reporter’s face. He realized her microphone wasn’t pointing at him, but at the man next to her who had just started to translate the question into Spanish. Behind them, the Shoji brothers looked on, mouths hanging open in shock. Too late Oikawa realized, Erik and Kawika Shoji never answered interview questions in perfect Japanese.

Chapter Text

The victory over Italy earlier that evening had been easy, too easy. Kageyama was restless and though his trainers would kill him if they knew, Kageyama was sneaking out for a late-night run. And of course, he runs into the last two people he wanted to see. Technically, only Iwaizumi was sitting at the hotel bar, but seeing Oikawa’s face on the tv screen in front of Iwaizumi was jarring enough.

Luckily, Iwaizumi was too busy watching Oikawa’s interview about Argentina’s unexpected victory over the United States to notice his starting setter creeping through the hotel lobby behind him. Kageyama heard Iwaizumi wearily say, “Hey Tohru.”

Once again jarred by the use of Oikawa’s first name, Kageyama fought the urge to stop and listen. Iwaizumi was talking on the phone, head resting on his free hand. “Congratulations on your win. I’m watching the interview now.” Iwaizumi paused before continuing, “You’re different than the Shoji brothers. They’re from Hawaii and you’re from Miyagi. There’s nothing you can do to change that. They were bound to find out eventually where you’re actually from.” Another pause. “Babe, you’re Japanese, you’re crazy good-looking, and you beat the United States. The media will naturally be curious about you.”

Iwaizumi nodded along to whatever Oikawa was saying on the other end. Suddenly, Iwaizumi’s face darkened but his tone stayed the same. “Yes, I ran into them outside Mitsukoshi, they were trying to talk to Kageyama and some of the others.”

Hearing his name, Kageyama stopped and tried to turn back but he was already inside the hotel’s revolving doors. He revolved back in and snuck closer to the bar where Iwaizumi was sitting. Kageyama wasn’t an eavesdropper. At least, he wasn’t when it wasn’t about volleyball, but he couldn’t help himself.

Ever since Iwaizumi had come back from America three months ago, he had worked harder than any athletic trainer Kageyama had ever met. If it weren’t for the wedding band on his left hand, Kageyama would’ve been sure that Iwaizumi’s entire life consisted of work and sleep. Even the sleep part was debatable.

Following Iwaizumi yesterday wasn’t because Kageyama didn’t believe what Ushijima said about Iwaizumi having married Oikawa. It was even more fundamental than that. After seeing how much time Iwaizumi spent at work, Kageyama was skeptical Iwaizumi could be married at all. What man or woman could put up with a husband like that?

Kageyama’s faced burned a bit, embarrassed that he had to tried to spy on his middle school senpais not once but twice in the same weekend. Atsumu had been right. Oikawa and Iwaizumi were like Kageyama’s parents. He was curious about their love lives, especially now that he knew their loves lives were one and the same.

“No, of course I didn’t tell them about us,” Iwaizumi said, anger creeping into his voice. He paused before saying even more forcefully, “What’s your problem? It was completely harmless. Every wedding band looks the same anyways. Besides, they were too shocked that I spoke Spanish to even look at my hand… Well then tell me Tohru, what language am I supposed to speak will conversing with the Argentina national men’s volleyball team? Polish?”

Iwaizumi listened to Oikawa’s reply. Kageyama’s seen Iwaizumi annoyed at Oikawa countless times; he was very familiar with the furrow in Iwaizumi’s brow that preceded a slap against the back of Oikawa’s head or maybe a punch in the arm. But as Iwaizumi’s face darkened further, Kageyama realized that he had never seen Iwaizumi truly angry at Oikawa until now.

All throughout middle school and high school and even now, it was Oikawa that Kageyama had been scared of. But now, Kageyama found himself sprinting down the street away from the hotel, trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and the murderous look on Iwaizumi’s face.

By the end of the week, Kageyama was too exhausted to think about Iwaizumi’s phone call with Oikawa. Ever since Oikawa had given a post-match interview on the first day of the tournament in perfect Japanese, the media had been frantically digging up dirt on Argentina’s Japanese setter. They aired old tapes of Seijoh’s matches against Shiratorizawa and Karasuno. Someone even found the profile Volleyball Monthly published about Oikawa back in high school. #HitItTillItBreaksKageyama had been trending on Twitter all week. Kageyama was always fired up for a chance to beat Oikawa, but now all of Japan was cheering him on. The entire nation’s expectations had been put upon Kageyama’s shoulders.

It was a full house in Fukuoka that night. Before Kageyama stepped out onto the court, he took a big breath. He gathered up all the pressure that had been placed on him and sealed it away. The media, the Twitter hashtags, the countless interview questions about playing against Oikawa in high school and what his strategy was to defeat him now. None of that mattered anymore. Full house, empty stadium, they were all the same to Kageyama. He just wanted to play some volleyball.

When the match finally started, Kageyama felt a wave of nostalgia. Oikawa’s sets were as perfect as ever, drawing out the best in his hitters. Kageyama felt like he was fifteen again, struggling to keep up. Even as Kageyama set a pinpoint back set for Ushijima, he felt a familiar pang of panic as he saw that the Argentine blockers were already there, a satisfied smirk on Oikawa’s face. All paths were closed for Ushijima. A perfect stuff block.

Actually, this hadn’t been the first time Ushijima had been shut down this set. Or the second. Or the third. Kageyama knew Oikawa liked to pick on him and Ushijima but today it was relentless; Oikawa was going out of his way to make risky plays if it meant he could score a point off Ushijima. In the end, Japan comfortably won the set, but Ushijima had lost more points than he won. Though Ushijima never showed it, Kageyama could tell he was rattled.

The coach could tell too because in the second set, it was not Ushijima positioned across from Kageyama on the court but Aran Ojiro. Even though there was no longer Ushijima to pick on, Oikawa still seemed off and Japan easily won the second set as well. Aran scored set point with a wicked straight that flew past the Argentinian block like it wasn’t there at all.

“Nice kill, Ojiro,” Kageyama said as they switched sides for the next set. “You’re playing really well this match.”

Aran smiled at the compliment. “Am I? I guess that makes sense. This is the nicest Japanese crowd I’ve ever played in front of. It almost feels like I’m playing for my college team in America again.”

“Is it? I didn’t notice. I don’t really pay attention to the crowd.”

“It must be a nice privilege to play without having to worry about what the spectators think of you,” Aran said. He was still smiling pleasantly though Kageyama felt like he had said something very wrong. He nervously looked at the stands, stuffed full of Japanese supporters.

“What’s so different about today’s spectators?” Kageyama finally asked. The crowd looked like every other crowd he had ever played in front of.

“It’s not what’s different about the spectators. It’s what’s different on the court.” Aran shifted his gaze away, looking towards the Argentinian side of the net.

Kageyama followed his gaze and saw it had landed on “Oikawa-san?”

Aran nodded. “I never thought I’d play against someone who’s committed a sin worse than being black and Japanese.”

Before Kageyama could ask Aran what he meant by that, the referee blew his whistle and it was time to start the third set. This time, Kageyama opened up his ears and actually listened to the noises coming from the crowd. At first everything seemed normal. They respectfully quieted down whenever someone went up to serve. There were impressed gasps when a player executed a difficult dig. Cheers and the thunder of clap sticks ran through the stadium on a particularly spectacular point-winning hit or block. They crowd even politely applauded when Argentina scored a point.

Kageyama was just about to direct all his focus back to the game when Oikawa walked back to serve. As usual, the crowd quieted down and Oikawa launched himself into the air like Kageyama had seen him do so many times before. The jump serve flew towards Kageyama ‘s right but it was too fast. Kageyama ended up shanking it into the crowd. An ace.

It was a hard serve but not impossible. Kageyama mentally kicked himself for losing focus. He braced himself for the cheers, but all he heard was silence. Perhaps it hadn’t been an ace after all? Kageyama looked up just in time to see the referee award the point to Argentina for a ball touch and out. Still the crowd did nothing.

Around him, Kageyama’s teammates were also looking at the crowd uncomfortably, none more so than Aran Ojiro. If he had looked towards the sideline, Kageyama would’ve seen Iwaizumi nervously twisting his wedding ring around his finger.

At first, Kageyama didn’t believe what was happening. It was a fluke. It was the third match of the day. The crowd was tired. But it happened again and again. Oikawa dumped a ball across the net on the second touch, catching Komori off guard. No reaction from the crowd. The Argentinian libero shanked a ball outside the antenna to the opposite side of the net. Oikawa ducked under the net, avoided the center line, and set it back perfectly for their left-handed opposite Martinez for a kill. The crowd acted as if there was not even a match going on in front of them.

Kageyama was so distracted by the crowd’s callousness towards Oikawa that he didn’t even notice the score until Argentina was at set point with Japan trailing by three. By then it was too late and Kageyama once again found himself walking next to Aran Ojiro while switching sides for the next set.

“Is this how they behave when you play?” Kageyama asked.

Aran shrugged, “More or less. They’re usually more subtle than this though.”

“How can you let them treat you like this?”

“I’ve lived in Japan nearly my entire life. I’ve always looked like this and they’ve always treated me this way,” Aran replied.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t know,” Kageyama said slowly.

Aran shrugged again. “Five or five thousand, it’s all the same to me. But him,” Aran said, gesturing at Oikawa, “pretty boy with a face that belongs on a dorama set. A true native son. I can’t imagine what he must be feeling right now.”

There was a moment of awkward silence. Kageyama didn’t know what to say. Finally, Aran quietly continued, “It’s one thing to be born on the outside. It’s another to be exiled. I saw it happen to my mother after she married my father and I would not wish that fate on anyone.” Aran was looking fiercely into the crowd, towards the box that housed the Japanese women’s national team.

Behind them, Kageyama heard a clatter and when he turned around, he saw the usually cool and composed Iwaizumi crouching down to pick up the clipboard he had just dropped.

Chapter Text

Lamela knew Oikawa wasn’t popular in Japan. How could he be? He had been born in Japan to Japanese parents, but had the gall come back with another country’s flag on his chest. Of course the crowd didn’t want to cheer for him. At least they weren’t openly booing Oikawa the way Diego Costa got booed every time he so much as set foot in Brazil. Even after a hard loss to Japan in front of a hostile crowd the day before, Lamela thought Oikawa had emerged from the first round of the FIVB World Cup un-booed and relatively unscathed.  

They were on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima for the second and third round. For once, Oikawa let Lamela have the window seat because it was Lamela’s first time in Japan. It was a kind gesture. Lamela didn’t have the heart to tell Oikawa that the Shinkansen went so fast that just glancing out the window made him nauseous. To avoid throwing up in a pristinely clean Japanese train, Lamela was reading commentary about their most recent match on his phone.

“There is so little media coverage about us,” Lamela complained, “I should’ve been a football player. Everyone loves Messi.”

Oikawa looked at him skeptically, “You think you could play football like Messi? You’re like half a meter taller than him. Messi would literally run circles around you.”

Lamela let out a resigned sigh. “Well volleyball seems super popular in Japan. Have you searched your name on Japanese Twitter yet? I bet the ladies love you with that handsome face of yours, especially since we just played the host country.”

Oikawa hesitated for a moment. “Oh, I haven’t really looked anything up. I was pretty unknown in high school. I guess I got used to being anonymous here.” Lamela could tell Oikawa wasn’t being completely truthful, but Oikawa had already taken Lamela’s phone, typing his name into the search bar before handing it back.

The entire feed was in Japanese. Lamela couldn’t read a single thing. Clearly, he hadn’t thought this through. Just looking at the strange Japanese characters on his phone was making Lamela’s head throb. He was just about to close the app when he scrolled past a picture of Oikawa’s head photoshopped onto the body of a samurai-looking man. Next to it was another picture with Tobio Kageyama’s head photoshopped onto a man wearing giant white robes.

Lamela couldn’t help but laugh out loud. They looked so ridiculous. “What are you laughing at?” Oikawa asked, suspicious that Lamela had suddenly gained the ability to read Japanese.

“Someone photoshopped yours and Kageyama’s heads onto some old Japanese prints,” Lamela said, handing his phone to Oikawa. “Who are these people anyways?”

Oikawa took Lamela’s phone. The expression on Oikawa’s face darkened the second he saw the pictures.

“Uhh… so who are they?” Lamela awkwardly asked again.

Without looking away from the phone, Oikawa replied, “The guy I’m photoshopped onto is a historical figure named Akechi Mitsuhide. Kageyama is photoshopped onto Toyotomi Hideyoshi.”

“Were they like rivals or something?”

Another long pause before Oikawa slowly said, “Yes, they were rivals. But Akechi Mitsuhide is more well-known for betraying and assassinating his feudal lord, Oda Nobunaga. He’s Japan’s most famous traitor.”

“And Toyotomi Hideyoshi?” Lamela asked. He could tell being called a traitor was upsetting Oikawa, but he couldn’t help himself. All these historical people had such cool sounding names. Way cooler than Tohru Oikawa or Tobio Kageyama.

Oikawa was now scrolling through Twitter on Lamela’s phone. Once again, he took so long to answer that Lamela was afraid he had forgotten the question. Finally, Oikawa said, “Hideyoshi defeated Mitsuhide in battle. Mitsuhide was killed by bandits while fleeing and Toyotomi Hideyoshi went on to unify Japan and lay the foundation for the Edo period, the greatest era in Japanese history.”

By now, Oikawa was talking so quietly he was basically whispering to himself. His eyes grew wider and wider as he scrolled faster and faster. The tweets containing Oikawa’s named flashed by so quickly that Lamela found it hard to believe Oikawa could actually read them all. Oikawa looked terrified. Lamela was just about to grab the phone out of Oikawa’s hand when it emitted a loud ping.

Oikawa immediately froze. His eyes flicked up to read the notification before handing the phone back to Lamela. “It says you got a text message from Catalina Martinez.”

Lamela nearly dropped his phone in his haste to answer.

Though Lamela couldn’t read a single thing they were saying about Oikawa online, even he could tell Oikawa was currently the most hated man in all of Japan. The hatred Brazil had for Diego Costa didn’t even compare.

Whatever Japan felt for Oikawa went much deeper than a mere sports rivalry. They were offended by Oikawa on both a personal and national level. And Oikawa felt it. He was perfectly composed on the court; his sets arced gracefully through the air as they always had. But the second his feet crossed the sideline, Oikawa collapsed under the constant abuse he was being subjected to by his birth country.

Even walking down the street Lamela noticed it. If this were Argentina, people would probably jeer at Oikawa. Maybe call him names and make a few rude hand gestures. But the Japanese possessed a quiet, sinister nature that Lamela had never experienced before.

People would stare openly at Oikawa as he walked past, remaining perfectly still and silent, but the malice was clear in their eyes. As if they were memorizing every detail about him to be dissected and ridiculed later. Waiters pretended not to hear him, preferring to struggle with the Argentines’ bad English than let Oikawa order in Japanese. Store clerks mysteriously went on break whenever Oikawa walked in. Even the normally friendly convenience store workers would ignore Oikawa until absolutely necessary.

The silence was deafening. Lamela recognized it from their match against Japan. He thought Oikawa had gotten off easy then, but now he realized that silence was far worse than common booing. At least then they acknowledged his existence.

The sinister silence was at every match they played; it cut Lamela to the bone. Just thinking about what it was doing to Oikawa made Lamela shiver uncontrollably. For the Japanese, Oikawa did not exist when he was in front of them. But, the second he turned his back, he was all they could talk about.

It didn’t help that Oikawa was the one Japanese man amongst fifteen giant Argentines. Even those who didn’t know his face could tell who he was immediately just by looking at who he was with. Within days of arriving in Hiroshima, Oikawa stopped playing tour guide. The team was left to muddle their way through sightseeing by themselves.

“He’s disappeared again,” Lamela said into his phone as he once again returned to an empty hotel room after a long day of taking pictures of Martinez posing next to race cars at the Mazda Museum. “Also, your brother threatened to burn half my face on the grill at dinner today.”

Catalina Martinez’s laughter fluttered out of Lamela’s phone and he had to steady himself on the door handle. “Agustin is such an idiot. He’s all bark and no bite. I could beat him up when I was still in diapers.” Lamela laughed at the image of Martinez losing a fight to his toddler little sister.

When Lamela finished laughing, Catalina’s tone turned serious, “How’s Tohru?”

Lamela sighed. Outside of training, team meetings, and actual matches, Lamela had barely seen Oikawa at all. After the third night in which Oikawa didn’t come back until morning, Lamela pushed the beds together in their hotel room to make a super bed for himself.  

“I’m not sure,” Lamela finally said, “He seems fine whenever he comes back from wherever he goes. Happy even. But then the smallest things set him off. Obviously, he’s always really sad after matches because the crowd completely ignores him. But the other day, the hotel doorman wouldn’t open the door for him, and I swear he was about to burst into tears. He won’t stop reading the mean tweets. I don’t know what to do.”

“You said he’s probably with his wife when he disappears?” Catalina asked, trying to sound optimistic.

“Yeah. I don’t think they’re fighting anymore. Literally the only times I’ve seen Tohru smile since we got to Hiroshima is when he’s on the phone with his wife. Half the time he’s disgustingly in love and half the time he looks like he wants to fall off the face of the earth. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen once we go back to Argentina.” Lamela lay down on his giant bed and shuddered at the thought of more sleepless nights lit by the glow of Oikawa’s phone and punctuated by his exasperated sighing.

“Still haven’t figured out who she is yet? And why she insists on living half the world away from him?”

“No,” Lamela said, “You’re sure she’s not on the Japanese women’s national team?”

Cataline clicked her tongue. “Matias Matias Matias. You think so little of me. You think I wouldn’t know if one of my competitors was secretly married to one of my countrymen?”

Lamela smiled at the sound of Catalina Martinez saying his name not once, not twice, but three times. However, she was wrong about one thing. He thought the world of Catalina Martinez. Her brother could burn his entire face off for all he cared, Lamela was never letting her go.

“When does your train leave?” Lamela asked. Oikawa was hurriedly trying to pack up the belongings he had strewn throughout their hotel room during their two weeks in Hiroshima. Despite the fact that Oikawa had hardly spent any time in their room, he had somehow managed to make a huge mess anyways.

“In less than an hour,” Oikawa yelled from the bathroom as he jammed his ten-step skincare routine into a toiletry bag. “And Japanese trains are perfectly on time too. Less than an hour actually means less than an hour.”

“Will your wife kill you if you miss the train?”

“I think I would be more likely to kill myself if I missed the train,” Oikawa joked. “Are you excited for your final day in Hiroshima? What are you guys doing?”

“We’re going to the Hiroshima Mitsukoshi,” Lamela replied.

“Really?” Oikawa’s eyes sparkled out of interest.

“No, of course not. We’re going izakaya hopping and showing up at the airport hungover out of our minds.”

“I’m glad I won’t be there to see that,” Oikawa said, now cramming dirty jerseys into his suitcase.

“How long are you staying with your wife in Tokyo?” Lamela asked.

“A week! I’m so excited. I hope this week lasts forever,” Oikawa replied brightly, zipping up his suitcase. “Well, Matias. I’m off. Try not to throw up on the street tonight, the Japanese don’t like that.”

“See you in San Juan!” Lamela called as Oikawa dashed out the door.

Even hungover out of his mind, still swaying from motion sickness after a turbulent regional flight from Hiroshima to Haneda, Lamela distinctly remembered that he wasn’t supposed to see Oikawa until next week. And in Argentina no less. Yet here they were, less than 24 hours later, in Haneda Airport; Oikawa curled up pathetically on three seats in the waiting area outside the gate for their flight back to Argentina.

Chapter Text

Lamela rubbed his eyes. There must be some kind of mistake. He was still drunk. Tohru Oikawa hadn’t seen his wife for nearly four months. They had been fighting constantly before the tournament, but things were better now. Oikawa had practically skipped out of their hotel room in Hiroshima yesterday. Before Lamela’s alcohol-addled brain could come to the logical conclusion as to why Oikawa was at the airport and not his wife’s apartment, he felt someone gently push him aside.

“Ah Tohru, there are you. Did you get your ticket ok?” Correa asked, bending down and gently shaking Oikawa awake.

Slowly, Oikawa sat up, looking around the airport like he didn’t know where he was. When he finally focused onto Correa’s face, his eyes welled up in disappointment. Oikawa nodded silently.

“Sorry there wasn’t any more room in business class. You’ve had a rough night. I’ll come back and switch seats with you after the plane takes off.”

Oikawa mumbled something while shaking his head. Correa was still looking at him with concern but didn’t say anything, just patted his head a little and walked off in Sosa’s direction. Lamela was about to go up to Oikawa and ask if he was ok when he felt someone grab him from behind.

“Leave him be,” Martinez said. “The man’s just had his heart broken.” For once Martinez was right. Normally so prim and proper, Oikawa’s face was haggard and unshaven, eyes puffy and bloodshot as they stared ahead listlessly. Lamela and Martinez were so concerned that they had completely forgotten about their drunken fistfight the night before.  

As soon as the plane reached cruising altitude, Lamela unbuckled his seatbelt and made for the back of the plane but Correa got there first, blocking his way. “Captain, let me switch seats with Tohru, I’m younger.”

Correa shook his head, “Matias, you’re the tallest person on this team. If you try to sit in an economy seat for two international flights your ligaments are going to snap.”

“You’re not that short yourself, captain.”

“He’s not, but I am.” Lamela jumped at the sound. The roar of the jet engines had covered up the sound of Sosa’s footsteps behind him. As the libero, Sosa was indeed one of the shortest members on the team and Lamela had no choice but to let him pass.

Lamela and Correa waited anxiously as Sosa disappeared behind the curtain that separated the two cabins. When the curtain finally opened again, it wasn’t Oikawa who stepped out from behind it. Instead, Sosa stood there with a concerned look on his face. “He’s asleep,” Sosa explained, “I didn’t have the heart to wake him up. I’ll try again later.”

Throughout that flight and the connecting one, Lamela saw Sosa go back to economy class at least ten times to try to switch seats with Oikawa. Every time, Sosa returned to the business class cabin emptyhanded, worry etched all over his face.

When they finally landed Buenos Aires, Lamela resolved to stay awake and not pass out immediately in his hotel bed like he had on the reverse journey. Oikawa had slept nearly 24 hours, albeit in an uncomfortable economy class seat, but there was no way he could sleep any more. Lamela was going to stay awake and keep him company.

Lamela was just about to down a scary American energy drink he had picked up on their layover when he heard a dull thud. Oikawa had collapsed into his bed and passed out with his dirty airplane clothes on, the same clothes he had been wearing when they parted in Hiroshima nearly three days ago. Lamela crawled into bed and tried not to think about how Oikawa was still clutching his wedding ring in his sleep.

Lamela woke to someone roughly shaking his shoulder. “Matias! Wake up! Wake up!” It was nighttime, the light on his nightstand was on and Lamela was able to make out Oikawa’s blurry outline shaking him awake. From the smell of him, it seemed Oikawa had finally showered. “Oh, good you’re up. Get dressed. We’re going out.”

“W-what?” Lamela asked, hastily rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Just a few hours ago, Oikawa was basically comatose, and now he was bouncing around their hotel room yelling at Lamela to get out of bed?

“We’re celebrating getting 5th at the World Cup. Who would’ve thought little Argentina, 15th at the World Championships last year has crawled her way up past Russia and Italy to be striking distance from the podium?” A pair of jeans hit Lamela in the face. “Get dressed now.”

And that’s how Lamela found himself squashed between Oikawa and Martinez in a crowded nightclub in Palermo, tipping back shots while bottle girls danced around them. Even though the night had just begun, Oikawa was already wasted, dancing on the couch while yelling at the top of his lungs, “We beat the USA. I out-set Micah Christenson. I’m free! I’m free!”  

A particularly pretty bottle girl poured Oikawa a drink, winking as she handed it to him. Oikawa froze. “You’re very beautiful,” he screamed, “but you’re not my type.” Oikawa looked around at all the bottle girls, “None of you are my type, actually.”

“I know what you mean, man. All these girls are way too young,” Martinez said, a frown on his face.

“Let’s go somewhere else,” Oikawa yelled back at Martinez, “Let’s go to Glam. Mi amor and I used to go to Glam all the time.”

“You took your wife to a gay club?” The entire Argentina national team erupted in laughter.

“I can’t believe Tohru took his wife to a gay club.”

“What would she think if she knew you ditched her in Tokyo to go to gay clubs in Buenos Aires?”

“You better not actually be gay Tohru, that would make everything so weird.”

Before Oikawa could respond, Lamela had already dragged him down from the couch and shoved cup of water into his hand. “Shut up Tohru,” Lamela yelled straight into his face, “You’re making a fool of yourself.”

Even drunk out of his mind, Oikawa knew Lamela never yelled like that. So instead of fighting back, he sat quietly on the couch, drinking his water and occasionally touching the wedding ring that hung around his neck.

The next thing Lamela knew, he was sitting in a dimly lit bar. They had been out so late it was nearly morning but the past few hours were a blur. Oikawa calming down meant Martinez lost his primary drinking buddy. So, Martinez had hoisted Lamela up and insisted on toasting “his future brother-in-law” over and over and over again. Lamela couldn’t tell if Martinez actually approved of him and Catalina or if Martinez was simply trying to kill him to keep him away from his sister.

Someone stirred next to him and Lamela realized it was Oikawa trying to pick his head up from where it was slumped over on the table. Clearly at some point in the night Oikawa had switched back to alcohol. “Where am I? Why am I?” Oikawa asked blearily.

“You’re in Buenos Aires. We just got back from the World Cup in Japan.”

“Japan!” Oikawa screamed. “I’m not in Japan anymore. I have to call precioso!”

The bar erupted with laughter as the Argentinian players made fun of Oikawa’s fumble. “First the gay club and now calling your wife precioso instead of preciosa.”  

“Did your wife kick you out for being too gay Tohru?”

“When she picks up make sure you tell her you would’ve stayed with her in Japan if she were a dude.”

Oikawa wasn’t paying attention; he was too busy scrolling through his phone. Lamela could faintly hear Bruno telling their teammates to shut up. Oikawa’s eyes got more and more frantic as he kept scrolling through the contacts. “It’s gone,” he whispered. “I can’t find the phone number.”

After a few more moments of crazed scrolling, Oikawa slammed the phone onto the table in frustration. “I fucked it up so much,” he said, voice trembling.

“It’s going to be ok, Tohru,” Lamela tried to say, reaching for Oikawa’s shoulder to comfort him. With reflexes he should no longer possess, Oikawa slapped Lamela’s hand away.

“Don’t touch me,” Oikawa said harshly. “I’m disgusting. We might’ve done well in the tournament, but I fucked everything else up. My home country. My marriage.” Oikawa paused for a moment, turning around in his seat to face the rest of his teammates.

He grabbed the wedding ring around his neck and gave it a forceful yank, breaking the chain. Oikawa held the chain at eyelevel, the ring glinting in the dim light of the bar, lightly swinging back and forth. “I don’t deserve this,” Oikawa muttered. And before Lamela could stop him, he slipped the ring off its chain and tossed it as hard as he could towards the back of the bar.

“Six and a half years,” Oikawa continued, looking at the empty chain, “We stayed together for six and a half years despite being thousands of kilometers apart. We’ve been together our entire lives. Twenty-five years, a quarter of a century.” Tears were falling freely from Oikawa’s eyes now and his voice was rising, “Grew up on the same street. Played on the same volleyball team since middle school. All that gone in four months”

Oikawa made a sound like a wounded animal. He looked at his stunned teammates, voice risen almost to a scream, “And the worst part is. In the end, even when we’re not together anymore, I still can’t do the one thing he-“

“I think that’s enough for you tonight, Tohru.” Correa had a hand clamped firmly over Oikawa’s mouth and was starting to pull Oikawa out of his seat. Oikawa struggled against their captain, kicking his legs, trying to wriggle out of Correa’s grip. Bruno, and to Lamela’s great surprise, Martinez, jumped up to help Correa wrestle Oikawa out of the bar.

Instead of following them, Lamela dived towards the back of the bar, frantically searching for the wedding ring Oikawa had so forcefully thrown away.

Chapter Text

At 2.05m, Lamela knew he was unnecessarily tall. He didn’t fit in cars, airplane seats, or doors. But now, crawling on the sticky floor of a Palermo dive bar, Lamela cursed himself for not being a more normal height. It felt like every part of his body was knocking into something or someone. Lamela’s drunk teammates watched as he shined the flashlight on his phone around their feet.

“What are you doing down there Matias? Living up to your name?” The remaining teammates all laughed, gesturing rudely at the front of their pants.

“Yeah, lick it Lamela.”

“Is that why you and Tohru get along so well?” Another round of laughter rang throughout the bar.

Lamela looked up from where he was still crouched on the ground, “Are you serious Nicolas? Isn’t your sister married to a woman?”

Nicolas Sanchez looked down at Lamela, or what he thought was Lamela since he was so drunk there were two Lamelas at his feet. “Yeah so what? She’s not here right now. And it’s just a joke. No need to be so sensitive about it.”

A shot of rage went straight to Lamela’s head. He was just about to jump up and sock Sanchez in the nose when he felt someone put a hand on his shoulder, holding him back.

“Calm down, Matias,” Sosa said, tightening his grip. “Wasn’t your fistfight with Agustin in Japan enough?”

“Let go of me Hugo, these guys have been assholes to Tohru all night,” Lamela yelled, struggling to wriggle away from Sosa.

“Punching out Nicolas isn’t going to help Tohru. This will,” Sosa said, dropping something in Lamela’s outstretched hand. It was Oikawa’s wedding ring. “See Matias, being short has its perks sometimes. Get up, I’ll help you get a cab.”

Sosa pulled Lamela to his feet and pushed him out of the bar. Lamela blinked, it was dawn already, pale sunlight crept past the horizon. The street was deserted.

Behind him, Lamela heard Sosa grumble, “I’m too old for this shit. At least it looks like Santiago got Tohru out before he outed himself to the entire team.”

Lamela looked at Sosa in surprise. “Outed?”

“Don’t play dumb Matias. You of all people should know that Tohru’s wife is actually a husband. That’s why you’ve been shutting him up all night.”

A cold breeze made Lamela shiver. He looked down at the wedding ring he was still holding. “The Japanese athletic trainer,” he whispered quietly.

“Is that who it is? Figures. There aren’t many Japanese people who can speak Spanish like us. We’re not like Brazil after all.”

“Wait, you weren’t with us when we followed Tohru in Fukuoka. How did you know?”

Sosa sighed, peering up and down the street, still looking for a cab, “My sister-in-law understood more Japanese than she let on.”

Lamela blinked, thinking back to the time when he was so desperate to know even the tiniest crumb of information about Oikawa’s marriage that he had literally hid behind a couch with Sosa and his sister-in-law every night for a week. That was less than two years ago, but it felt like a lifetime. “You’ve known since then?”

“No,” Sosa said, shaking his head. “I told my wife about Tohru’s sad journey home in the shitty economy seat. She must’ve told our sister-in-law.” Sosa let out an exasperated sigh, “And of course my sister-in-law decides to call me from Brazil while I’m napping to tell me to be nice to Tohru because he’s already suffered enough having to hide his husband this whole time.”

“Why didn’t he tell us earlier? He wouldn’t have had to pretend this entire time.”

“She said we weren’t ready to know back then,” Sosa said. He turned to look at Lamela. “You saw what Nicolas and the others were like. You and Tohru have a close bond now but think hard and tell me you wouldn’t have acted the same if you had known back then.”

Lamela opened his mouth to defend himself but the words caught in his throat. Before he could respond, a cab had pulled up to the curb and Sosa and already pushing him inside. “Go make sure Tohru’s ok. And don’t lose that ring. He and his husband might be fighting now, but he’s going to regret losing it.”

The cab door slammed shut. Sosa said something to the driver and the next thing he knew, Lamela was speeding off towards the sunrise, Oikawa’s wedding ring clutched tightly in his hand.

The adrenaline of nearly getting into a barfight with Sanchez had worn off, leaving Lamela drunk and exhausted as he staggered off the hotel elevator.

“Whoa there,” Martinez said, catching Lamela before he tripped and hit his head. 

“Is Tohru ok?” Lamela asked, collapsing in a chair in the landing’s sitting area.

Correa nodded. “Yes. He threw up a few times, but we got him cleaned up and put him to bed. Try not to wake him when you go back in.”

“But is he ok with his… you know…” Lamela said, awkwardly holding out Oikawa’s wedding ring.

“His husband,” Bruno finished. Correa shot him a dirty look. “C’mon captain. He’s Tohru’s roommate, he obviously knows even if he doesn’t want to admit it to himself.”

Correa looked at Lamela who nodded nervously. The captain pinched his forehead in worry. “So, including me and Hugo, that makes five who know about Tohru’s husband.”

“Five?” Lamela asked, turning to Martinez in surprise. “How do you know?”

“Why shouldn’t I know? Do you think I’m some kind of idiot?” Martinez shot back. No one answered. After a long pause, Martinez sighed and continued in a resigned voice, “I recognized Hajime Iwaizumi from the picture of Tohru’s middle school volleyball team, the one that also had Tobio Kageyama on it.”

Bruno got up from the corner where he’d been crouching and walked up to Lamela. He took Oikawa’s ring and held it up, examining it in the light. “Yup, it’s the same one Hajime Iwaizumi was wearing.”

“He was wearing a ring?” Lamela tried to remember how he didn’t notice it too, but the entire memory was a blur of being astounded by the buff Japanese man who spoke Argentinian-accented Spanish. He had been too distracted to notice, but apparently Bruno hadn’t.

Bruno nodded, giving the ring back. “Same material, same thickness. But most men’s wedding bands look the same, so I went back and followed Hajime Iwaizumi into Mitsukoshi. They met up in the food hall and it was kind of adorable. He even held Tohru’s chin in his hand like they were in some kind of sappy telenovela.”

“That’s sweet,” Lamela said, “I always thought Tohru would be the charmer.”

A cold laugh came from Bruno. “It would’ve been sweet if Tohru hadn’t jumped away like his own husband had slapped him in the face.” Bruno scratched his head, thinking for a moment before continuing, “He’s smart to hide it though. I had a teammate back in Brazil who came out to the team. After that, every time he made a mistake, it wasn’t because he was tired or had lost focus or wasn’t skilled enough. It was always because he was a sissy. By the next season he was gone.”

“I can’t believe Tohru denied knowing his own husband,” Martinez whispered. “I would be devastated if my wife pretended to not even know me.”

The mood was so somber that Lamela found it hard to believe he, Martinez, and Oikawa had been throwing back shots in a nightclub just a few hours ago. Lamela felt horrible in a hundred different ways, thinking back to all the times he had harassed Oikawa about a wife who didn’t even exist. Bruno and Martinez looked like they were about to cry as well.

Finally, the silence was broken when Correa pressed the up button and a set of elevator doors dinged open. Correa entered the elevator and beckoned towards Bruno and Martinez. “It’s late. We’ve had a long night. Time to get to bed. Matias, Agustin, Bruno, there’s no excuse for your past behavior, but I hope you’ve learned to be more mindful of peoples’ privacy in the future. You don’t know what they’re going through and even now we don’t know for sure what Tohru’s going through.”

“Good night, captain,” Lamela said as the elevator doors closed, leaving Lamela alone on the landing.

The hotel room was dark and smelled like vomit, but Lamela was too tired to care. He didn’t even have the strength to change out of his gross going out clothes. Before collapsing into bed and passing out, Lamela used the last of his energy to gently place Oikawa’s wedding ring on the nightstand.

Had Lamela had been able to stay awake a few moments more, he would’ve seen his roommate stir in his sleep, as if he had sensed the presence of the wedding ring that now lay a few inches from his face. Oikawa’s hand reached towards his chest, searching for something that was no longer there. “Iwa-chan,” he mumbled in distress, a single tear running down his cheek.  

Chapter Text

Tokyo, three days ago


“I think we should break up. I think we should break up. I think we should break up,” Iwaizumi whispered to himself over and over again, eyes screwed shut in concentration. He was standing in his apartment’s tiny bathroom, hands gripping the sink so hard he could feel his joints straining. “I think we should break up,” he said one final time.

Iwaizumi opened his eyes. Taped to the bathroom mirror, staring back at him, was a picture of Tohru Oikawa. The words caught in his throat. Iwaizumi rubbed his eyes in frustration. He had been practicing for hours, ever since he got back from Hiroshima.

Perhaps he should have chosen a less flattering photo of his husband. In the photo, Oikawa was smiling brightly, a rare genuine smile, lit up by the California sun. A beach volleyball rested casually at his waist while his other hand was raised with two fingers held together, forming a mini heart. The brilliant Pacific Ocean stretched out behind Oikawa, but its blue waters paled in comparison to the expression on Oikawa’s face. Anyone looking at the picture could tell Oikawa absolutely adored whomever was behind the camera. Iwaizumi smiled fondly. The photo sounded like Oikawa’s laugh mingling with the sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore.

A loud knocking sound suddenly echoed through Iwaizumi’s apartment, jolting him out of the memory. Iwaizumi yanked the photo off the mirror and put it in his back pocket before walking over and opening the front door.

“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa screamed, throwing his bags into the apartment and slamming the door behind him. Oikawa jumped into Iwaizumi’s arms with so much force that it nearly knocked both of them over. At the last moment, Iwaizumi was able to regain his balance and wrap his arms around Oikawa who was hugging him a little too hard and a little too desperately. “I missed you, mi amor,” he whispered into Iwaizumi’s neck.

“I saw you two days ago, Shittykawa.”

Oikawa pulled out of the hug slightly to press his mouth to Iwaizumi’s mumbling, “You know what I mean, Iwa-chan.”

Before he could stop himself, Iwaizumi found himself mumbling back, “Yeah I do. Welcome home, Tohru.”

He shouldn’t have said that. The beaming smile on Oikawa’s face broke Iwaizumi’s heart. When was the last time he had seen Oikawa smile so happily? It was long before that fateful night two weeks ago, when Iwaizumi watched helplessly from the sideline as Oikawa’s head drooped down after the final whistle. Oikawa looked more tired than he should have been after four sets. Iwaizumi would have given anything to have been able to walk over to Oikawa's side, gather up the pieces of his husband into his arms, and protect him from the cold stares of their countrymen.

Ever since his interview in Japanese at the beginning of the tournament, the media had been after Oikawa. A curiosity, a new challenge for national darling Tobio Kageyama and his Monster Generation. Thinly veiled innuendos about Oikawa’s inferiority were everywhere, but when Argentina soundly lost to Japan 3-1, the drizzle turned into a hurricane.

A failure, a traitor. Oikawa wasn’t good enough for Japan, so he went to Argentina, a country where volleyball was much less competitive. The news played their high school defeats at the hands of Karasuno and Shiratorizawa over and over and over, constantly reminding viewers that Tohru Oikawa had never made it to nationals as a high schooler in Japan. Kageyama and Ushijima were touted as national heroes while Oikawa was worth less than the dirt on which they stood.

The love of his life was drowning under a constant deluge of hatred and Iwaizumi was powerless to protect him. And now, the tournament was over. Oikawa’s matches were no longer on national television every night. The storm would eventually quiet and Iwaizumi would forget about the bad times and ask Oikawa to take another reckless leap of faith for him.

Stay with me. Iwaizumi would say. Leave Argentina. Join the V.League. Move in with me. Wake up with me every morning and go to bed with me every night. Without a doubt Oikawa would say yes and the storm would start anew the second he stepped onto another volleyball court in Japan.

“Iwa-chan, congratulations on placing 4th. Don’t get used to it though because next time we’ll be sure to crush you.” Oikawa called from Iwaizumi’s tiny bedroom, ready to explode his hastily packed suitcase all over their bed when he felt a hand grab onto his wrist, stopping him.

“Already Iwa-chan? So eager. Not even letting me rest after playing three games in three days and sitting on the Shinkansen for four hours to get here. Not everyone is loaded like the Japan national team and can afford to fly.” Oikawa said all this with a teasing tone, but Iwaizumi could hear the fear in his voice. So, he had been expecting it too.

“I think we should…” Iwaizumi started to say but Oikawa got there before him.

“I think we should break up.” Oikawa wasn’t looking at Iwaizumi. Instead, he was staring at the wedding ring on the hand that was still keeping him for unpacking. He gently touched the cold metal with his free hand. “That’s what you were going to say, weren’t you, Hajime? I think we should break up”

Iwaizumi stilled. He hadn’t expected this. All those hours of practice and he hadn’t had the strength to break up with a picture of Oikawa, let alone the real thing. And now, when the time had finally come to say those six words, he still didn’t have the willpower to force them off his tongue. It didn’t matter. Oikawa had gracefully swooped down and said them instead, saving Iwaizumi from an impossible task. In that moment, before Iwaizumi could stop himself, he thought. I love you so much.

Ignoring the lump in his throat and the tightening sensation in his chest, Iwaizumi nodded. Oikawa sighed. “I wish you had waited until the end of the week, Iwa-chan. I would have liked to spend more time with you.”

Iwaizumi could feel his resolve breaking but he managed to choke out, “I wouldn’t be able to do it if we spent an entire week together.”

“Then don’t break up with me,” Oikawa replied simply, shaking off Iwaizumi’s hand to reach for the zipper of his suitcase.

“We have no future together, Tohru.”

“How could you say something like that. We’ve always been together. In what future are we not together.” Oikawa said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Where would we even live.”

“Here. In Tokyo. In this very apartment.”

The life they could have together flashed before Iwaizumi’s eyes. He had only moved into this tiny flat in Tokyo a few months ago but he had imagined it so many times it felt like a vivid memory. Jostling around the matchbox-sized kitchen to cook breakfast. The whirring of the blow dryer as Oikawa styled his hair. The door clicking shut behind them after a long day.

But most preciously, going to bed with Oikawa every night. Tangled up together in the dark. Lazy whispers and muffled giggles under the moonlight. Waking up with Oikawa in his arms every morning, soft brown hair tickling his nose. How many times had he called Oikawa after waking up only to hear the fatigue in his voice, weary from another long day alone on the other side of the world? A grim reminder first thing in the morning that despite what the ring on his finger might say, Oikawa’s life no longer belonged to him.

How many years had it been since they were last together properly? Oblivious to a future where their hearts would bleed dry over thousands of miles of open sea. Naïve high school boys separated only by a desk or a street or nothing at all. Iwaizumi knew that if he even got a small taste of that easy happiness again, he would never be able to let Oikawa go. And he had to let him go.

“You know you can’t stay here,” Iwaizumi whispered.

“Because I’m not good enough to play volleyball in Japan,” Oikawa said. He looked at Iwaizumi with a smile. “After all, Iwa-chan, you know better than anyone that I couldn’t take Seijoh to nationals.”

Iwaizumi had heard Oikawa say those exact words so many times over the two weeks that he wanted to smash his forehead against Oikawa’s like they were in middle school again. Instead, he just pulled at his hair and tried his best not to yell, “And you should know better than anyone that there are six players on a volleyball court. I’m the one who failed to hit that last set against Karasuno. We all failed to take Seijoh to nationals.”

Oikawa remained silent. It had been seven years since they lost to Karasuno and since Oikawa had moved to Argentina, he hadn’t mentioned it once. Now, it’s all he could talk about.

“You’re the absolute best setter,” Iwaizumi finally said, taking Oikawa’s hand.

“Then why can’t I set in Japan and be with you!” Oikawa screamed, wrenching his hand away.

“Because Japan won’t rest until they see you dead! Just go back to Argentina where you’re safe and forget about me!” Iwaizumi yelled back. Oikawa stared back at him, eyes wide, lips slightly trembling.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa finally said, very quietly. He raised his hand to Iwaizumi’s cheek. Iwaizumi realized he was crying. “We were fine before. You didn’t have to move here.”

And there it was. The perpetual argument. Fought over early morning phone calls, late night text messages and even under the blazing California sun. After seeing what pain Japan had put Oikawa through, Iwaizumi should feel guilty for moving back, for even suggesting that Oikawa return to a country that would never accept him again. But this argument was much older than what had happened this month and Iwaizumi couldn’t suppress the anger that flared inside of him as Oikawa made his familiar accusations.

They slipped into their usual points so easily. When had they become so comfortable fighting each other? Voices rose louder and louder, bouncing off the walls until they weren’t even listening to each other anymore. There was no reason to. They had heard the other side’s argument a hundred times. The one hundred and first time wouldn’t change anything.

Finally, when Oikawa paused to catch his breath, Iwaizumi said something he had never said before, even in his angriest moments when he felt like he could crush his phone with his bare hands. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you to marry me.”

Oikawa’s hand immediately darted up to the wedding ring hanging around his neck. At first, Iwaizumi thought he was going to rip it off and throw it at him. But instead, Oikawa’s fingers curled around the ring possessively. With his other hand, Oikawa scooped up his suitcase and before Iwaizumi knew what was happening, Oikawa already had a foot out the door. He looked back, eyes burning with rage. “Divorce me then.” The door slammed in Iwaizumi’s face.

The words rang in Iwaizumi’s ears. Divorce me then. Divorce me then. Divorce me then. After all they had fought, Iwaizumi had never once thought about divorcing Oikawa. It was stupid not to have thought it. Breaking up with someone you’re married to meant getting a divorce.

Divorce me then. Divorce me then. It sounded so wrong. Divorces were filled with hatred and vitriol. It wasn’t for Iwaizumi and the tender love he still felt for Tohru. Divorce was for Utsui-sensei, who resented Ushijima’s mother so much he had moved overseas to avoid her. They hadn’t spoken at all since Ushijima graduated high school. He had wiped his life clean of her.

Hajime Iwaizumi had spent the last twenty-five years at Tohru Oikawa’s side and the mere thought of the silence without him was enough to make Iwaizumi double over in pain. This was a mistake. He pulled the door open so hard it felt like his arm was going to rip off.

“Tohru!” Iwaizumi screamed, but he could see Oikawa was already loading his bags into a cab. Iwaizumi lived on the third floor. If he jumped, he might be able to roll out of it and prevent any serious injuries.

Oikawa looked up at Iwaizumi, face twisted in betrayal. Iwaizumi froze. He had never seen Oikawa look at anything with such hatred before. “Don’t. Call. Me.” Oikawa gritted through his teeth before getting into the cab and speeding away.

Chapter Text

Lamela woke up to a splitting headache and the smell of bacon. “Oh good, you’re wake,” he heard someone say before he felt a plate of food being shoved into his hands, “I thought you were dead. Eat this now, the flight back to San Juan leaves in less than two hours.”

“What?” Lamela yelled, jumping out of bed, scrabbling for his phone, “What time is it?”

“It’s two in the afternoon,” Oikawa said, snatching the plate away from Lamela before the contents spilled all over the bed.

“Two in the afternoon?” Lamela shrieked, finally finding his phone in the folds of his blanket, “I was supposed to get lunch with Catalina Martinez at twelve!”

“Oh, uh, I’m sorry you missed your date. I would’ve woken you up sooner if I’d known,” Oikawa said awkwardly, suddenly deflated. Lamela looked over at Oikawa who was nervously turning his wedding ring over in his hand, “Thanks for uh, retrieving this, or whatever happened to it…”

“Tohru, do you remember anything from last night?” Lamela asked gently. He had already ruined things with Catalina Martinez anyways, it didn’t matter if she dumped him now or a few hours from now.

Oikawa shook his head, “I just remember being really sad.”

Lamela was taken aback. Oikawa never admitted he was upset; he was so good at repressing and denying. “It seems you had an argument with your erm spouse?”

“My husband and I are getting a divorce.” Oikawa said it so dryly and with so little emotion that Lamela thought he had misheard.

“W-what?” Lamela spluttered.

“The athletic trainer you met with the Japan men’s team, Hajime Iwaizumi. He’s my husband and we’re getting a divorce.”

There was a long pause before Lamela finally managed to whisper, “I know.”

Oikawa looked up at him in surprise. “Did I tell everyone I was getting a divorce from Iwa-chan while drunk?”

“No no no! You didn’t say anything when drunk,” Lamela said quickly, “I meant I already knew that Hajime Iwaizumi is your husband… was your husband?”

“Oh,” Oikawa stopped to think for a moment before asking, “How? I thought I was so careful.”

“You were. I was fully convinced you were married to Kanoka Amanai up until a few weeks ago,” that made Oikawa smile a little so Lamela continued, “But I don’t know what it was about him, I didn’t even need to hear him speak Spanish. The moment I saw him, I thought, `Wow, Tohru would really love this guy.`”

Oikawa let out a wistful sigh, “Well you’re right about that, I do really love him.”

“Then why are you getting a divorce?”

“Sometimes, love isn’t enough.”

“Uh, do you want to talk about it?”

Oikawa shrugged, still examining the wedding ring in his hand, “Maybe later. It feels like my chest is caving in, but my head is quiet for the first time in months. It’s kind of nice. I never liked the quiet before.”

In the past three days, Matias Lamela had binge-drank in Hiroshima, suffered through 24 hours of international air travel, and then binge-drank again in Buenos Aires. On the outside, Lamela looked presentable enough, having finally showered and eaten the cold room service breakfast Oikawa had ordered. But on the inside, Lamela felt like all the meaning had drained out of his life.

Lamela knew he was being melodramatic. Oikawa was literally getting divorced from a man he’d known practically since birth while Lamela was internally crying over a girl he met two weeks ago. Catalina Martinez had called him, texted him, left him voicemails, but Lamela was too scared to open any of them. He couldn’t believe he had overslept and stood up the most beautiful person in the world. His life was ruined.

The sunlight outside Aeroparque Jorge Newbery was blinding, especially given Lamela was now nursing a three-day-long hangover. He bent down with a groan to pick up his suitcase from where it had been unloaded off the bus when he felt a shadow fall over him. There was a gentle breeze and for a second Lamela thought he was hallucinating when he smelled a familiar perfume. He stood up and spun around so quickly he nearly tripped over his own feet. In front of him stood Catalina Martinez.

“You know Matias,” Catalina said in a dangerous tone of voice, “I’ve never been stood up on a date before. I’ve heard of it happening to other people of course, but I never imagined it would ever happen to me.”

“C-Catalina,” Lamela stuttered, shaking so hard he had to grab the side of the bus for support.

“Do you know how it made me feel, Matias Lamela?” Cataline asked. Lamela could only manage to shake his head. Catalina took a step forward, crowding him towards the bus. “It made me feel so shitty I literally called my dumb big brother while crying outside a restaurant in Palermo because I got stood up by some beanstalk on his team.”

“I’m sorry Catalina,” Lamela finally managed to say. “I’m so so so sorry.”

“Just sorry? No excuse?”

“There is no excuse for what I did.”

Catalina’s eyes widened before she moved her piercing gaze off Lamela’s face to look at something behind him. Lamela turned his head and saw that Catalina was watching Oikawa crouch next to his suitcase like he didn’t even have the energy to stand anymore. “Tohru looks terrible,” Catalina said. And then in a much softer voice, “He’s lucky to have a friend like you.”

Suddenly, Lamela felt a pair of strong hands grab the front of his jacket, pulling him down. Soft lips met his. He was kissing Catalina Martinez in broad daylight in front Bueno Aires’ regional airport. Too soon, her lips left his and he felt himself being shoved backwards. His back hit the side of the bus with a loud thud.

“You’re lucky my brother told me what happened. You’re even luckier he begged for your life,” Catalina said, flipping her hair haughtily. “Call me when you get to San Juan.” Lamela was still too stunned from the kiss to move when Catalina Martinez started walking away from him.

“I’ll call you as soon as I get past security,” he yelled desperately at her retreating figure.

Catalina turned back her head, a smirk on her face, “You’d better,” she said, before crossing the street and disappearing into the crowd.

Out of the corner of his eye, Lamela saw Martinez looking over at him warily. Wordlessly, Lamela walked over and clasped Martinez’s hands in both of his, bringing them to his forehead in gratitude.

Chapter Text

Irvine, fall 2016


“Iwa-chan, I can’t believe Tobio-chan played in Rio. Good thing Japan didn’t place. I don’t think I could live with Tobio getting an Olympic medal before I do.”

“You really are a crappy guy, you know that?” Iwaizumi said from behind the box he was carrying into his apartment.

“A crappy guy, me? The extremely helpful boyfriend who flew all the way from Argentina to help you move into your apartment?” Oikawa asked from where he was lying on Iwaizumi’s mattress, watching videos of Kageyama on his phone.

Iwaizumi stared at the so-called extremely helpful boyfriend, tempted to drop the box on Oikawa’s annoyingly perfect face. Instead, Iwaizumi set the box down, rummaged through it briefly before pulling out a set of bedsheets and forcefully throwing them at Oikawa’s head. “Then actually help me move in, Crappykawa. Make the bed. That mattress is disgusting.”

Oikawa made a startled noise when the sheets hit him, dropping his phone. Despite his grumbling about how “they were just going to get ruined anyways,” Oikawa got up and started unfolding the sheets while Iwaizumi left to get the final box out of his car.

When he came back, Oikawa was once again lying on the bed, the sheets having been thrown haphazardly on. Iwaizumi let it slide. Oikawa was right; the sheets were going to get ruined later. Trying to keep a tidy bed with Oikawa around was a losing battle.

“Look at this, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa said, shoving his phone into Iwaizumi’s face. It was Japan’s match against Brazil from the Olympics a few weeks ago. Kageyama had just been subbed in to serve and he stood behind the end line, spinning the ball in his hand. The referee blew his whistle and Kageyama tossed the ball high in the air before jumping and smashing it across the net where it ricocheted off a passer and into the crowd.

“That was a good ace,” Iwaizumi said.

“I know!” Oikawa whined, “Do you remember when that runt couldn’t even overhand serve and wanted me to teach him? And now he’s serving aces at the Olympics, against the host nation too!” Oikawa buried his head into a pillow and let out an exasperated noise.

Iwaizumi hadn’t particularly wanted to live alone his senior year. He liked having company and it was cheaper to live with other people. But as Oikawa continued to throw a fit, Iwaizumi had to concede that he probably wouldn’t want to be his roommate either.

With an audible sigh, Iwaizumi walked over and pulled the pillow out of Oikawa’s hands, leaning over the bed so his face was mere inches from Oikawa’s. “Well, you can go to the next Olympics and serve an ace against the host country.”

Oikawa blinked up at Iwaizumi, “What are you talking about Iwa-chan? The next Olympics are in Tokyo. How am I going to serve an ace against my own team?” He playfully punched Iwaizumi’s arm. “Seriously Iwa-chan, you’re about to be a senior in college and you’re still getting confused over things like this. Don’t let UC Irvine know, they might not give you your diploma next year.”

“Shut up Shittykawa, at least I’m getting a higher education,” Iwaizumi said with a smirk. “And don’t forget, I’m not stopping here. Soon I’ll have two college degrees.”

At that Oikawa made an annoyed noise. “Why do you have to stay for two more years, Iwa-chan? I want to go home. Let’s get an apartment in Tokyo. I’ll be a V.League star and you’ll be my handsome, athletic trainer boyfriend who takes special care of me,” Oikawa said with an exaggerated wink at the last part.

For a moment Iwaizumi was silent. Oikawa saw something flash through his eyes, but before Oikawa could identity it, it was gone. Iwaizumi moved away from Oikawa, turning to continue unpacking boxes. “Handsome, athletic trainer boyfriend, you say? We could get married in Argentina if we wanted to, it’s so open down there, but you still won’t let me set foot in San Juan because you’re afraid someone will see us together. I’m sure in Japan I’ll be nothing more than a friend.”

“Iwa-chan, are you still mad about that? I took you winetasting in Mendoza, didn’t I? Mendoza is much better. San Juan is super boring, and I live in the dorms with all the other players.”

“You-“ Iwaizumi started to say, but caught himself when he realized his voice was much too loud. He started again, voice a normal volume but colder than usual, “You’ve never had a problem staying in dorm rooms with me. My freshman year roommate was practically homeless for a week because of you. Do you know how much that guy hates me now?”

Iwaizumi felt something tug at him. He looked back and saw Oikawa had crawled to the edge of the bed and was holding onto the back of his shirt. “Hajime, you know it’s not the same. You’re a college student at a liberal American university. I’m a professional athlete, and a team sport to boot. There are things you can do that I can’t.”

The hand holding onto Iwaizumi’s shirt was trembling. Iwaizumi still wasn’t over the fact that Oikawa intended to hide their relationship for his entire volleyball career. But, in that moment, the late afternoon sunshine was streaming through the apartment’s grimy window, illuminating Oikawa’s desperate face in a way that made Iwaizumi’s heart clench.

Iwaizumi knelt down and took Oikawa’s hand, gently pressing a kiss to those precious fingers. “It’s ok Tohru, I understand. It’s a small price to pay for you to chase your dreams,” he murmured.

Oikawa’s hand twitched and before Iwaizumi knew what was happening, Oikawa had already pulled him onto the bed. Arms were flung around Iwaizumi’s neck and Oikawa kissed him until he could no longer breathe.

“Is that all you got, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa asked in a teasing tone as Iwaizumi gasped for air. Iwaizumi felt the back of his shirt being dragged upwards.

He gave Oikawa a stern look, gesturing at all the unpacked boxes that still littered his apartment, “Stop messing around, Thirstykawa.”

Oikawa huffed at him before saying in a dangerous tone of voice, “The boxes will still be there later, Iwa-chan. Now take this off. I want to see how thin your new walls are.”

“The walls were very thin.”

“What did you just say?” Oikawa looked up to see Lamela’s horrified face staring back at him.

“Nothing,” Oikawa said, too quickly.

“Are you listening to that song again?”

“No!” Oikawa said even faster this time, ripping the headphones out of his ears and scrambling to turn off his phone. Lamela could tell he was lying. Just before he pulled his headphones out, Oikawa had visibly flinched.

The flinch was his tell. Whenever he listened to “Oye” by Tini and Sebstián Yatra, Oikawa always flinched at the line “Si ya van tres meses y tú no reaccionas.” If it’s been three months and you haven’t reacted. Lamela checked the date. In two weeks, it will have been exactly three months since Lamela found Oikawa sleeping in Haneda Airport when he was supposed to be with his wife. No, not wife. His husband. Or was it ex-husband now?

Lamela looked nervously at the wedding ring that hung around Oikawa’s neck. Even though Lamela had bonked his head at least four times crawling around a gross Palermo dive bar looking for it, Lamela was fully expecting never to see Oikawa’s wedding ring again. He was completely wrong.

Oikawa had shown up for their first practice back looking like the walking dead. Dark circles under his eyes, hair completely unkempt, skin an ashen grey. The impending divorce was clearly weighing heavily on Oikawa, but the wedding ring he had thrown away was back around his neck, dangling from a shiny new chain.

On CA San Juan, only Lamela, Sosa, and Correa knew about Oikawa’s bad night in Buenos Aires, and they didn’t breathe a word of it to the others. Oikawa managed to wave off his terrible complexion as bad jetlag. But that was months ago, and Oikawa’s condition still hadn’t improved. Lamela tried everything and at this point, he was convinced it was because that dumb song was holding Oikawa back.

Lamela tackled Oikawa, snatching the headphones out of his hand. Oikawa yelped and tried to grab them back. But Lamela was much taller than Oikawa and with much longer arms, holding the headphones out of Oikawa’s. Lamela put the headphones into his own ear. “Que yo sin ti estoy major. Te fuiste con el…”

That was all Lamela needed to hear. “Tohru! Stop listening to your sad breakup song! It’s not even good.”

“Don’t insult Tini like that!” Oikawa shrieked. He suddenly froze, looking around frantically.

“Relax, no one else is here. You’re not going to out yourself by professing your love for Tini like some teenage girl,” Oikawa breathed a sigh of relief, but Lamela wasn’t done, continuing, “Why can’t you listen to Abel Pintos like a normal person? You’re really pushing your luck listening to Tini non-stop like this.”

Oikawa lunged, taking his headphones back while yelling, “Not everyone can have a beautiful, perfect girlfriend like you.”

“You’re the one who told your husband to divorce you!”

“He tried to break up with me first! And he hasn’t called me since!”

“That’s because you told him not to and then blocked him on every single possible channel of communication,” Lamela yelled, completely exasperated that Oikawa would just let himself be miserable like this, “How many times have you burrito’d in bed while listening to your sad breakup song this week?”

“Not that many!” Oikawa yelled back. Lamela looked at Oikawa skeptically and Oikawa sighed in defeat. “Fine, you got me. I’m sad all the time.”

“Why don’t you just call him? Are you afraid he’ll actually try to divorce you if you call him?”

Oikawa’s face twisted at the word “divorce.” Lamela knew he hated it. Breakups were temporary. People broke up and got back together all the time. Divorces were forever.

“First of all,” Oikawa said, “He couldn’t divorce me even if he wanted to since he hasn’t lived in California at all for the past six months. Isn’t it ironic that the thing that tore us apart is also what’s keeping us together?”

Lamela had to stifle a giggle when he saw the satisfied smirk on Oikawa’s face. “And what’s second of all?” Lamela asked.

The smirk faded. Oikawa twisted at the wedding ring nervously, “I’m afraid to call him,” he whispered, “Every phone call we had before the breakup just ended in a shouting match. I need to see him in person to make it right.”

“Are you going to Japan?” Lamela asked.

“Am I going to Japan he says,” Oikawa mocked, rolling his eyes. “Obviously I’m going to Japan, Matias. You’re coming too. Remember what year it is now? Or were you too busy making out with Catalina Martinez in Buenos Aires on New Years’ Eve to notice?”

Lamela turned bright red at the mention of Catalina, managing to stutter out, “I-It’s 2020.”

Oikawa held up his wedding ring before his eyes, staring at it intently. “That’s right. It’s 2020. Tokyo 2020. We’re going to win gold at the Olympics, and I’m going to win my husband back.”  

Chapter Text

Huntington Beach, June 2019


“Trashykawa, hold still so I can take a picture of you.”

“I love it when you call me señorita. I wish I could pretend I didn't need ya,” Oikawa sang while he danced in the sand, moving his hips to the sound of Camila Cabello’s voice in a way that made Iwaizumi want to actually grab him and call him señorita. The song had only come out two days ago and Oikawa already knew all the words. He had even written his own Spanish version of the lyrics just to show off.

“Pero tocarte es uh la la la. Es uh la la la,” Oikawa practically purred, winking at Iwaizumi. A beach volleyball hit Oikawa squarely in the face. Oikawa yelped, suave replaced by a pout as he rubbed his forehead. “Mean Iwa-chan! What was that for?”

“Stop being embarrassing Shittykawa, we’re at a public beach.”

Oikawa bent down to pick up the beach volleyball, slinging it by his hip casually, “Jealous, Iwa-chan? Want me to save the dance moves for when it’s just the two of us?”

Iwaizumi rolled his eyes. “Dance after, Hornykawa. I want to take a picture of you. The sun’s making your hair look gold in that way that I like.”

Hearing this, Oikawa playfully raised the beach volleyball, hiding his face behind it. “Ok Iwa-chan, you can take a picture of me, but with one condition.”

“What condition?”

The volleyball lowered a bit, and Oikawa’s eyes peaked out, twinkling with mischief. “The condition is that you have to print out this picture. Like on real photo paper, not some crappy printer paper. And once you go back to Japan, whenever you miss me, you have to look at the picture so you can remember me.”

“You make it sound like you’re dying. Don’t be so dramatic.”

Oikawa’s eyes narrowed, “Am I being dramatic Iwa-chan? Every time we’ve parted, one of us always had a plane ticket for the next time we would see each other. Where is your plane ticket now, mi amor?”

It was summer in California. The sun was shining in the cloudless sky, heating up the air around Iwaizumi and the sand beneath his feet. Yet, Iwaizumi suddenly felt so cold he nearly shivered. He was standing on a frozen lake, and Oikawa was circling him below the surface, waiting to drag him into the frigid waters. “Ok,” Iwaizumi mumbled.

“Ok what, Iwa-chan?”

“Ok, I will print out this picture on the nicest card stock there is and look at it whenever I miss you.”

Even before Oikawa lowered the volleyball, Iwaizumi knew a wide smile had stretched across his face. “I’ll be sure to look so beautiful that every time you look at it, you’ll thank your lucky stars that I ever agreed to marry you.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Iwaizumi said, as he raised the camera, “Just don’t strike another one of your dumb poses. Ready?”

Oikawa nodded, running a hand through his hair to mess it up just so. Oikawa knew it drove Iwaizumi crazy when he did that; there was a satisfied smirk on Oikawa’s face as he stared off into the ocean. Cocky bastard, Iwaizumi thought as he went to click the shutter. Iwaizumi was going to have to carry around a picture of his husband that could double as an advertisement for some California surfer dude brand. But just as the shutters snapped closed, Oikawa turned around.

There was a soft smile on his lips. Two of his fingers were pressed together to form a heart. The façade had been stripped away. Oikawa looked into the camera with such love and vulnerability that long after everything was over, Iwaizumi still found himself staring at the photo, in awe that someone would ever look at him like that.

Kageyama popped his head into Iwaizumi’s office. Iwaizumi was looking at that picture and listening to that sad English song. What did Komori say it was called? “Someone I Liked?” “Something You Loved?” Even though Kageyama couldn’t understand a word of the lyrics, the raw and mournful sound of the singer’s voice paired with the pained expression on Iwaizumi’s face was enough to tell him exactly what the song was about. And whose picture Iwaizumi must be looking at.

The music was so loud that Iwaizumi hadn’t heard Kageyama enter. For a few awkward minutes, Kageyama just stood in the doorway of Iwaizumi’s office, watching Iwaizumi stare at a picture of Tohru Oikawa like a widower looked at a picture of his spouse. The song finally ended, and Iwaizumi nearly jumped out of his chair when he finally noticed Kageyama standing outside his office.

The picture slipped from his hand, fluttering to the far side of his desk. Iwaizumi stood up to get it, but Kageyama was too fast for him, having rushed forward to pick it up before Iwaizumi had even rounded his desk. The edges of the picture were worn. A large crease ran through the middle of it. But the colors were so bright that Kageyama caught himself staring at it instead of giving it back.

“Is this California?” Kageyama asked, transfixed by the blue sky and the even bluer ocean under it.

“Yes,” Iwaizumi said, voice a bit hoarse, “Huntington Beach.”  

“It’s beautiful,” Kageyama whispered. “And Oikawa-san…”

“Even more beautiful, right?”

Kageyama looked up at Iwaizumi, eyes wide, afraid of what he had just heard.

There was a small, painful smile on Iwaizumi’s face, “It’s ok Tobio, I know Wakatoshi must’ve told you long ago, back when I wasn’t planning on returning to Japan at all.”

Still terrified of what Oikawa would do to him, Kageyama could only manage a small nod. He looked down at the picture. Oikawa smiled back at him in a way that made Kageyama feel extremely uncomfortable, like he was intruding on a deeply personal moment. “I’ve never seen Oikawa-san smile like this,” Kageyama whispered, handing the picture back to Iwaizumi without making eye contact.

“I haven’t seen Tohru smile like this in a while either,” Iwaizumi said sadly, giving the picture one last look before putting in the top drawer of his desk. He cleared his throat, “Sorry about that Tobio, you caught me in a bad moment. Won’t happen again.”

Kageyama nodded, even though he knew it was a lie.

“What can I help you with?” Iwaizumi asked, perfectly professional, as if he hadn’t been crying over a picture of his estranged husband moments before.

“It’s nothing important, I just wanted to let you know that my knees are feeling a lot better. The exercises are working,” Kageyama said, wondering why Iwaizumi’s face looked so pained by the good news. Maybe he still hadn’t recovered from listening to his sad American song. “Uh, so, thank you for the help. See you tomorrow, Iwaizumi-san.”

“Tobio,” Iwaizumi called out from behind him.

Kageyama flinched, but still managed to pause and turn around a bit to look at Iwaizumi.

“Wear a mask when you go outside,” Iwaizumi said, “we can’t afford to have Japan’s star setter catching a mysterious virus mere months before the Tokyo Olympics.”

Chapter Text

Disneyland, Christmastime, 2017


Iwaizumi looked at the Mickey Mouse ears, disgust written all over his face.

“Iwa-chan, put them on, I want to go to the Haunted Mansion and cuddle with you when it gets too scary.”

“I’m not putting them on,” Iwaizumi said firmly, handing the ears back to Oikawa.

Oikawa pouted. “You said you would wear Mickey ears with me, Iwa-chan.”

“Normal Mickey ears! Or those dumb Christmas ones you have. Not these!” Iwaizumi nearly screamed, grabbing the ears and brandishing them at Oikawa for emphasis. “These ears literally say ‘Happily Ever After’ on them and are shaped like a tuxedo!”

“Right? Aren’t they so adorable?” Oikawa replied, striking a cute pose, showing off the matching pair of Mickey groom ears already on his head.

“They’re clearly for newlyweds.”

“We are newlyweds.”

“Shittykawa, we’ve been married for half a year.”

“Yes, but this is only our third week physically in the same place together as husband and husband. That counts as newlyweds.”

“It absolutely does not,” Iwaizumi said, getting ready to throw the Mickey ears into a Christmas fountain. Something stopped his arm. Oikawa had grabbed his wrist, holding it a bit too tightly.

“Mi amor,” Oikawa said in a serious tone of voice, “I would advise you to think twice about what you’re about to do.”

Iwaizumi stopped struggling, looking at Oikawa whose eyes were suddenly burning in a way that was completely inappropriate for Disneyland. “W-what?”

Oikawa smiled. Iwaizumi’s stomach flipped. “Iwa-chan, if you wear the Mickey Mouse groom ears, I’ll let you do that thing you’re always begging me to let you do.” 

“And that’s how I convinced Iwa-chan to wear the wedding Mickey Mouse ears,” Oikawa chirped happily from next to Lamela, brandishing his phone in Lamela’s face, forcing Lamela to look at a selfie of him and his Hajime Iwaizumi.

Correa chuckled quietly as Lamela checked his watch again. Still two more hours until they landed in Buenos Aires. Lamela let out a loud groan and said, “Tohru, when I told you to think about something happy to distract from the anxiety of seeing the national team again, this is not what I meant.”

“Thinking about Iwa-chan makes me happy,” Oikawa said matter-of-factly, now trying to show Lamela a picture of Hajime Iwaizumi eating a candy cane beignet. It was still very jarring to hear Oikawa say his husband’s name so freely. Less than two years ago, Oikawa had practically begged Correa to keep it a secret. What a shame. Only after their estrangement did Tohru feel comfortable enough to tell some of his teammates about his husband.

“I don’t think looking at pictures of your ex-husband is a healthy coping mechanism,” Lamela said. There was a brief moment of silence before Lamela quickly yelled, “No no don’t do that! It’s fine! Show me more beach pics of Iwa-chan!”

Oikawa must’ve pulled out his headphones, threatening to bundle himself into a burrito and listen to his sad breakup song for the rest of the flight again. Lamela and Oikawa were sitting in front of Correa on the plane, but Correa was sure Lamela had that weary and concerned look on his face again. Ever since Oikawa had passed the three-month mark of no-contact with his husband, he had been talking about him non-stop, as if Oikawa was trying to fill the silence Hajime Iwaizumi had left in his wake.

Lamela, Sosa, and Correa now knew way too much about Oikawa’s husband. Correa had never even met the man, yet he knew which shampoo Hajime Iwaizumi used, what kind of car he drove. His favorite food, his least favorite food. His favorite movie, his actual favorite movie, the movie he suffers through because Oikawa likes it so much. Every nickname he had ever called Oikawa: Loserkawa, Asskawa, Trashykawa, Shittykawa, Crappykawa, even Thirstykawa and Hornykawa.

At first, Correa was shocked that Oikawa’s husband called him such vulgar things. But the fond smile on Oikawa’s face as he recited the nicknames made it clear that Oikawa would give anything to hear his husband call him Shittykawa again.

And now, remembering the week Oikawa spent changing in the bathroom after returning from Disneyland, Correa knew exactly what perverted thing Oikawa had let his husband do to get him to wear a pair of Mickey Mouse groom ears. He shook his head, trying to forget.

“What’s wrong?” Sosa asked from next to Correa, mistaking the head shake for one of disapproval. “Worried about Tohru?”

“Who isn’t worried about Tohru,” Correa mumbled quietly, though the roar of the jet engines and Oikawa’a loud chattering about some place called Huntington Beach made it unnecessary.

Sosa leaned back in his seat nonchalantly, “I think it’s fine. Who hasn’t broken up and gotten back together a few times? Tohru is clearly still in love with him. They’re probably just going to kiss and make up at the Olympics in a few months.”

“Not everyone is you, Hugo.”

Sosa shot Correa a look in mock-offense. “Well excuse me for falling in love with a distant Brazilian beauty rather than the girl whose name was alphabetically next to mine in school. Not everyone can be as lucky as you and the future Mr. Catalina Martinez over there,” Sosa said, gesturing at Lamela.

Correa laughed at that, but then his tone turned serious. “Dating is one thing. Being married is another.”

“You always say that,” Sosa said, rolling his eyes.

“I just hope the national team doesn’t give Tohru a hard time, he said some pretty drastic things that last night out.”

“They won’t,” Sosa said snorting, “Tohru trying to get everyone to go to a gay club is nowhere near the craziest thing that happened.”

“What happened after I left?” Correa asked, scared to hear the answer.

“Nicolas Sanchez had an accident in the cab back to the hotel,” Sosa said, trying not to laugh.

“He threw up in the cab? That’s terrible, but not that bad.”

Sosa shook his head, a satisfied smirk on his face, “He had an accident from both ends.”

Sosa had been right. No one remembered or cared about Oikawa’s outbursts in Palermo. But Sosa was wrong about the national team not giving Oikawa a hard time. As soon as Oikawa walked in, the national team descended on him.

“Have you ever been to Yokohama?”

“Is your family ok?”

“Do you have the virus?”

At that last question, the entire team looked at the player who had said it, a recent call-up from Bolivar. Martinez smacked him in the back of the head, “Why are you asking Tohru if he has the virus? Because he’s Japanese? He’s as much of an Argentine as you and me. More than you actually, since you have no international caps.”

Oikawa was stunned. He had expected crude jokes and prying questions about his personal life, but all his teammates wanted to know about was the cruise ship currently quarantined in Yokohama Port. Oikawa was so relieved he actually started laughing. The national team looked at him like he was some kind of psychopath.

“Do you think this is a laughing matter?” Correa finally asked.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Oikawa managed to stop laughing long enough to say, “No, it isn’t, captain. The virus is very serious. I was just laughing at Agustin’s joke about how playing more international caps can make one more Argentine. If only it worked like that.”

“Well, you can test it out once we win gold in Tokyo!” Martinez yelled, hitting Oikawa on the shoulder with so much force he nearly fell over.

“Not if the Olympics get canceled.” Everyone froze and looked over to the corner where Bruno was standing sullenly.

“What did you say?” Oikawa asked, suddenly very still.

“I said. Not if the Olympics get canceled.”

A hush fell over the team. Slowly, they began to quietly whisper amongst themselves. The Olympics had been held in times of war and times of famine. It had survived terrorist attacks and natural disasters. The last time the Olympics were canceled was during WWII. There was no way it could be canceled over something like this right?

“The Tokyo Olympics are not going to get canceled,” Oikawa said firmly. The chatter suddenly quieted. All the players turned towards Oikawa, who was staring Bruno down with so much intensity in his eyes that it was a wonder Bruno was still standing. “The Tokyo Olympics are not going to get canceled,” Oikawa repeated. Then much more quietly he whispered, “I can’t afford to let that happen.”

Chapter Text

“Matias! Calm down,” Oikawa yelled, trying to keep up with Lamela who was running around his apartment, throwing random things into a suitcase.

“I can’t calm down Tohru! How am I supposed to calm down? The league is canceled, the president locked down an entire province today. He’s going to lock down the entire country any minute.”

“So what? You’re just going to hop on a flight to Buenos Aires?”

Lamela struggled to zip up his hastily packed suitcase. “No, not a flight. They’re all sold out. Seems like a lot of people had the same idea as me.”

Oikawa looked at Lamela in shock. “You’re taking the bus? It’s fifteen hours. You’re more than two meters tall! You can’t take a bus all the way to Buenos Aires!”

Lamela was now busy stuffing socks in a duffel bag, “Then tell me Tohru, what am I supposed to do?”

“Not run to Buenos Aires like a madman. Who knows how long you’ll be stuck there?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ll be with Catalina,” Lamela said so confidently that Oikawa paused, not knowing how to respond. Lamela took his chance and continued, “And what about you? Are you just going to stay in San Juan for the pandemic?”

“Where else would I go?”

“Japan. Make up with your husband. Or go stay with your parents,” Lamela said. Oikawa flinched. Lamela saw. “You still won’t call him?”

“I’m going to win him back at the Olympics,” Oikawa said quietly.

Lamela let out an exasperated sigh. He had heard that line too many times, “The Olympics are going to get canceled.”

“No! They’re not!” Oikawa nearly yelled.

“Look, Tohru. I’m going to say this one last time,” Lamela put his packed duffel bag down and placed both hands on Oikawa’s shoulders, leaning down until they were eye-to-eye. “There’s something coming for us that we have no control over. We don’t know what’s going to happen. I could stay in a little bubble in San Juan, but I want to spend the end of the world in the arms of the woman I love.”

Oikawa opened his mouth to respond, but Lamela stopped him, continuing, “I know you have this elaborate plan to win your husband back at the Olympics, but if you hold onto it for too long, it might be too late to go to him. It won’t be your pride or your fear keeping you apart anymore. It will be our president and his prime minister. Trust me. I’ve seen the flights sell out and get cancelled before my very eyes. If you can still get back to Japan, do it. Or it might be too late.”

There was a long moment of silence as Lamela stared at Oikawa, daring him to object. Oikawa cracked first, letting out a tired sigh, saying, “You and Catalina haven’t been dating for that long. Aren’t you afraid something will happen and you’ll end up in Buenos Aires alone?”

Lamela shrugged, lifting his duffel bag onto his shoulder. “If Catalina throws me out during a pandemic, I might regret it. But I’ll regret it more if I didn’t go at all.”  

Oikawa was looking at Lamela strangely, almost enviously, “How can you be so sure of your love for her? And her love for you?”

Lamela shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe I’m just young and stupid… but, I seem to remember that you used to be the same way.” And with that, Lamela opened the door and stepped through it, calling out, “Thanks for agreeing to house-sit! Make sure to clean out my fridge so I don’t come back to find some new species of mold growing in my apartment.”

Sunlight streamed through the window of the plane as Oikawa lifted the shades. The ocean flashed a brilliant blue far below him. Land appeared on the horizon. A long, curved beach with a thick cityscape behind it. Copacabana Beach. Oikawa breathed a sigh of relief from behind his mask.

It had taken days to get to Brazil. Even though Oikawa had left less than a week after Lamela, his journey was far more arduous than a fifteen-hour bus ride. Argentina, all of South America for that matter, was shutting down. It felt like every flight, train, bus Oikawa took to get to Rio from San Juan had been the last one for who knows how long. But he made it. Oikawa looked down at the boarding passes clutched in his hand. A two-hour layover in Rio de Janiero, fifteen hours to Los Angeles, another five-hour layover, and then finally twelve hours from Los Angeles to Tokyo.

The plane began its descent and soon it was flying so low that if Oikawa squinted, he could almost see the volleyball courts that dotted Copacabana Beach. His hand twitched at the thought of volleyball. Training was canceled weeks ago. When was the last time Oikawa had played a proper match?

If he closed his eyes, Oikawa could still feel the sand beneath his feet. The uncertainty of it, how it shifted under his weight, throwing him off balance and pulling him to the ground. But when he fell, the sand also caught him, so soft compared to the hardwood courts he was used to.

Falling over and missing an easy pass was embarrassing. Something that would have made a younger version of himself spiral at his lack of natural talent. But it was different on the beach. Oikawa remembered how he couldn’t help but laugh at the way the sand exploded around him when he fell, dirtying his clothes and getting into the hair he spent so much time styling. It made him feel like a little kid again. For the first time in a long time, volleyball was fun.

What he wouldn’t give for a pickup game on the beach, the only stakes a round of beer, like his first match with Hinata all those years ago. The famous Ninja Shoyo was back in Japan now, on a V.League team and getting invited to Japan national training camps. A chill crept up the back of Oikawa’s neck at the thought of the Japan national team. Before he could stop himself, Oikawa found himself thinking. Why had he been able to go back but not me?

The plane dropped suddenly in its descent. Oikawa felt his heart drop much further. This entire journey, he had tried to channel Lamela’s confidence. Lamela was so sure that going to Catalina Martinez was the right thing to do. That much Oikawa could agree with. There were a lot of things about Iwaizumi that Oikawa wasn’t sure about nowadays, but Oikawa was sure about this; he also wanted to spend the end of the world in the arms of the one he loved.

However, every time Oikawa thought about what it would feel like to be enveloped in his husband’s embrace once again, something tugged at the back of his mind. He shoved it down, repressed it, ignored it. But now, it was hitting him all at once. Oikawa suddenly found himself gripping the armrests of his seat so tightly that his knuckles turned white. What if I can’t go back.

Lamela ran to Buenos Aires because he wanted to be with Catalina. And Catalina wanted to be with him. Oikawa hadn’t heard from Iwaizumi in more than half a year. For the first time in his life, Oikawa didn’t know if Iwaizumi still wanted him. And for the first time, Oikawa was realizing that if Iwaizumi didn’t want him at a time like this, then he might never want him again.

You’re like the sand, Oikawa told Iwaizumi once, what felt like a very long ago. You’re unforgiving. You’ll knock me over, call me mean names, tell me my personality is crap. Iwaizumi had looked at him, eyebrow furrowing in annoyance. If they were younger, Iwaizumi would have hit him already. Instead, Oikawa took Iwaizumi’s hand, turning the shiny new wedding ring on his finger. But like the sand, you always catch me when I fall, and I can’t help but laugh when I fall into you.

Not anymore. For the painful few months before their breakup, Iwaizumi had been the desert dunes under a hot, never-ending sun. Dragging Oikawa down, sapping the energy out of his every movement. Unforgiving in a way that made him want to run away and find more stable ground.

Oikawa thought about how he had left Iwaizumi—standing on the third floor of his apartment block, one hand braced against the railing as if he was going to jump over and fall three stories to chase after him. If Oikawa were to fall now, would Iwaizumi be there catch him softly like the sand? Or would he be as cold and hard as the pavement outside his apartment building?

The plane was making its final descent. Oikawa suddenly he felt himself spiraling, mind racing as he thought about the way he and his husband had parted. All the cruel things he said to him before that. The terrible silence of the past six months that Oikawa now realized could go on forever.

Turbulence jolted the plane. Suddenly, Oikawa couldn’t breathe. His lungs weren’t getting enough air as the walls of the airplane cabin closed in. His heart was seizing up in his chest. Fuzzy spots blotted out his vision. Oikawa faintly registered a flight attendant holding an air sickness bag open for him as he ripped off his mask and vomited into it.

The next thing he knew, Oikawa was stepping out of Galeão in a daze. He squinted his eyes against the sun. A plane roared overhead as it took off. Oikawa checked his watch. It was the plane that was supposed to take him to Los Angeles. The shreds of his boarding pass for that flight were still clutched in his hand as he hailed a cab and asked the driver to take him to Copacabana.