Chapter 1: Chapter One
They’re walking home from the convenience store after evening practice, meat buns in hand, when something flashes across the sky and Oikawa’s face lights up.
“Look, Iwa-chan, meteors!” he squeals, stilling in his tracks and pointing at the sky as two more flashes streak by. “I can’t believe it, this is incredible, there weren’t supposed to be any more showers for months—“
He grabs Hajime’s hand and pulls him off the road onto the grassy hill on one side, then shoves him down—“Ow, you ASSHOLE, you just slammed my knee into a rock, are you trying to kill me?”—and lays down beside him to stare avidly up at the sky.
The meteors fly thick and fast, lighting up the sky, easily seen even among the last greenish remnants of the sunset. Even Hajime, whose only knowledge of meteor showers is whatever he’s gleaned from Oikawa’s excited babbling when he’s dragged out to the lawn behind their houses in the middle of the night, can tell that this shower is special. Oikawa can’t take his eyes off it; Hajime can’t take his eyes off Oikawa, who seems almost luminescent against the dusk.
Oikawa, who’s been practically vibrating with excitement, suddenly stills. “Iwa-chan, do you know what this is?” he breathes in a voice verging on reverent.
Hajime rolls his eyes, suddenly knowing exactly what Oikawa thinks this is. “Aliens,” he chants in bored unison with Oikawa. “Seriously, you think it’s aliens every freaking time, and it’s never once been—“
“First off, you can’t prove that any of them WEREN’T aliens just because they didn’t do anything alien-y, and second, I only say they’re aliens when there’s no scientific explanation—“
“That you can come up with after three seconds of thinking from that tiny brain of yours—“
“—and there’s no good explanation for a surprise meteor shower. Scientists know about these things beforehand, Iwa-chan, and I pay attention to the scientists, and no one’s said anything about a meteor shower happening tonight. This doesn’t just happen. Aliens are clearly the only explanation,” he concludes stubbornly.
Hajime sees the hope in his gaze and can’t bring himself to argue for once. They’ve been having this argument on and off for ten years and he’s sure they’ll have it again, so he can let this one go. He wrenches his eyes away from Oikawa’s face in case the other boy catches him staring and looks back up at the sky.
“We should make a wish, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says, breaking the spreading silence.
“Wishing? On aliens? That doesn’t even make sense, idiot,” Hajime scoffs. “Are aliens magic now?”
Oikawa shrugs, his cool hand shifting in Hajime’s as his shoulder moves. “I’m hedging my bets. It could be magic instead of aliens, or maybe the aliens can hear us. Are you really passing up the chance for a free wish? Come on, it’d be funnnnnnn…”
“Do you hear yourself right now, idiot? How old are you, five?”
“You are absolutely no fun, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa huffs. “Come on, what are you afraid of? Can big strong Iwaizumi Hajime-san’s masculinity not stand up to a little wishing on a star? Haven’t you heard that—“ to Hajime’s eternal horror, he suddenly bursts into ear-splittingly loud and off-key singing in heavily accented English—“when you wish upon a staaaaaaaaar—“
“FINE, you absolute child. I’ll make a stupid wish if you promise never to sing that song again.”
Oikawa giggles, which somehow manages to simultaneously be the most annoying sound in the world and make the dusk blaze with sunshine. The corners of Hajime’s lips turn up. “Hooray, Iwa-chan is rediscovering the magic of childhood!”
Hajime reacts by shoving their clasped hands into Oikawa’s side, hard.
“Okay, okay, ow—do you have your wish ready?”
Hajime grunts in assent.
“Wish on three, okay? On the brightest one in the sky. One- two-“
On three, the largest meteor yet streaks across the sky. This one is vivid yellow instead of white, and Hajime swears he can feel a faint crackle as it passes. He stares up at the stars like he’s trying to imprint their pattern on his retinas and wishes. He firmly shoves away the faint picture of Oikawa’s lips on his that’s the first thing that comes to mind when he hears the word “wish”, instead choosing the first non-romantic thing he can think of. Five more centimeters, please… Just let me be as tall as Oikawa, at least. It’s not like Hajime thinks of himself as particularly short; it’s just that he can’t stand the fact that he has to tilt his head back to look straight into that asshole’s eyes, and he feels like it diminishes the impact of his rants just a little. And five centimeters would be invaluable for volleyball; if he can blast through blockers at 180 cm (well, 179.3, but that’s close enough), imagine what he could do with 185 cm… He’s also tired of being the second-shortest member of his team, only ahead of Watari. It would be a nice change to look down on his kouhai instead of up for once. All in all, it’s a much more practical wish than kissing Shittykawa.
“Did you see that? That was AMAZING,” whispers Oikawa, seemingly stunned.
Hajime has to admit that it kind of was.
“What did you wish for?” he asks after a little while. He’s almost sure he already knows the answer—what does Oikawa want more than to beat Shiratorizawa and finally bring down Ushijima?—but he’s still curious. Even after more than ten years of friendship, although he’s usually able to read Oikawa like a book, there are still moments where the other boy will say something completely unexpected and Hajime’s perception of him will shift just a little. He doesn’t know why, but he gets the feeling that this is one of these times.
Oikawa sighs, faux-exasperated. “Have I never taught you anything, Iwa-chan? You can’t tell anyone else what your wish is or it will never come true!”
“Oh, in that case, I wished that you’d be able to keep a girlfriend for more than a week.”
“Iwa-chan, that’s rude and unfair. I went out with Hana for three weeks, not one!”
“Yeah, and? She dumped you because you forgot her birthday and then when she reminded you you said you couldn’t go out with her because you had practice.”
“It was still three weeks, and it wasn’t just practice, it was a practice match! I was completely justified!”
“You were a shitty boyfriend.” Hajime wonders to himself why he’d even want Oikawa for a boyfriend if this is how Oikawa treats his significant others, then remembers that his massive crush on his horrible best friend has never answered and will never answer to logic.
“At least I managed to get a girlfriend, unlike my poor brutish bachelor of a best friend.”
Hajime feels his face heat up as he protests. “Hey, I could have had a girlfriend if I wanted one. I’ve had confessions!”
Oikawa sighs dramatically and throws his free hand onto his forehead in a mock swoon. “My poor Iwa-chan, forever alone,” he proclaims. Hajime kicks him in the leg—making sure to avoid the knee. Even if his own success didn’t hinge on Oikawa’s healthy knee, he could never be that much of a monster.
“I’m not forever alone, I just actually recognize that I don’t have time for a girlfriend what with volleyball and exams and constantly babysitting my idiot captain.”
“Keep telling yourself that, Iwa-chan.”
“Shut up, Shittykawa. Just because you’ve kissed, like, two girls doesn’t mean you’re any better at this than I would be if I decided I wanted a girlfriend.”
Oikawa snorts. “Yeah, right. You would terrorize any poor girl who was charitable enough to want to go out with you.”
“I only terrorize you, and it’s because you’re an asshole who deserves it. If I went out with a girl, I’d be the perfect gentleman.”
“You’re not a gentleman, you’re a caveman. Face it, Iwa-chan, you could never treat a girl as delicately and kindly as she deserves.”
“At least I’d remember that she existed. When you were dating poor Sayuri-chan she couldn’t even get in one date because you thought it was more important to go see a horror movie with me, remember?”
“I invited her, too! Is it my fault that she thought it was too scary?”
“Oikawa, it made you cry. I think it was too scary for a date night.”
“Yeah, well.” Oikawa sighs, and something in the sigh makes Hajime turn his head to look at his best friend. To his surprise, Oikawa’s eyes are trained on his face too, rather than on the meteors still streaking above them. His brows are furrowed, like he’s thinking deeply, but the rest of his expression is unreadable. Then, suddenly, the clouds clear from his face and he grins. “If I tied myself down to one girlfriend, that would be a tragedy, really. I could never stand to disappoint my other fans. Maybe I’m better off single.”
Hajime instinctively echoes Maybe you’re better off with me in his head, stiffens, and kicks Oikawa again to cover it up. “Is it possible to be any more full of yourself, you dumbass?”
“I’m not full of myself, I’m realistic. Everyone loves me, it’s just a fact.”
“No one who’s actually talked to you for more than thirty seconds loves you…” Hajime mutters. That happens to be a total lie, but by all rights it should be true, so he doesn’t feel too guilty.
“You’re so cruel to me, Iwa-chan.” Oikawa lets out the fakest sob Hajime’s ever heard.
“Go find a fangirl to cry on.”
Oikawa laughs a little and turns his head back to the stars. The meteor shower is ending now, with long pauses between one flash of light and the next. Oikawa has started to shiver a little—it’s really not that cold just after sunset in early May, but Oikawa’s circulation must be insanely bad, because he claims to be freezing whenever the temperature dips below 16 or 17 degrees. “Let’s head home, Iwa-chan,” he says, pulling Hajime up.
Hajime lurches to his feet and stumbles for a few steps, trying to work the pins-and-needles feeling out of his legs. “Good idea. We have so much homework to do.”
Oikawa raises a finger and his eyebrows. “We could do homework. Or.”
“I happen to know that Channel 4 is showing a Godzilla movie marathon tonight.”
Oikawa doesn’t need to say any more. Hajime thinks that Godzilla movies are ridiculous, with nonsensical plots, horrible special effects, and enough cheese to feed Switzerland for a year. He absolutely loves them. “Fine,” he grumbles, “but if I fail that modern lit test it’s your fault. My house or yours?”
“My TV is bigger. More high-definition horrible Godzilla puppet action.”
“Sounds good to me. We’re doing homework while we watch, though.”
“Come on, Iwa-chan, aren’t kaiju movies way more important than schoolwork?”
“I have no idea how you would survive school if I weren’t here.”
“I would be perfectly fine, don’t overestimate yourself.”
Their hands are still joined, swinging between them as they stroll down the road. Hajime reflects that even though they’ll never be anything more than friends, he’s really lucky. He has the chance to be with Oikawa like this, and for now, that’ll have to be enough.
The next morning, Hajime wakes up in Oikawa’s bed, which isn’t unusual in and of itself. They sleep at each others’ houses once a week at minimum. By now, Oikawa’s room is almost as familiar as his own. What’s strange is that he wakes up in Oikawa’s bed without Oikawa clinging to him like some sort of heat-seeking leech. When they’d first begun sleeping over at each other’s houses ten years ago, the host had always set up a futon, but Hajime would invariably wake up in the middle of the night to find that Oikawa had migrated into his bed. He’d first reacted by trying to kick the intruder out, but it had turned out that Oikawa could whine loudly and prolifically enough about this subject to make it easier to just let the other boy sleep next to him. It does feel nice, he’ll admit, even though all of the body contact kind of makes him feel like he’s taking advantage of Oikawa’s obliviousness to Hajime’s feelings. And even though Oikawa clings, and kicks, and snores, and drools, and steals all the covers (“I can’t help it if I get cold at night, Iwa-chan! Do you want me to freeze to death? You can’t possibly need all of these blankets, you’re like a furnace!”), and is generally the most unattractive bed partner anyone could possibly have. Hajime has wondered numerous times if showing a video of sleeping Oikawa to the other boy’s unofficial fan club would be enough to drive them away for good.
But one of Oikawa’s horrible sleeping habits is his refusal to get up until Hajime drags him out of bed. It’s not surprising, since he stays up hours later than he should watching game tape or crappy alien documentaries. But Hajime can count on one hand the number of times Oikawa has woken up before him, and on all of these occasions Oikawa decides that if he’s awake it’s time for the rest of the world to be awake and drags Hajime out of bed (“Come on, Iwa-chan, you could never get enough beauty sleep to make you beautiful, so you might as well get up!”). The bed isn’t even warm next to him, Hajime notes, so Oikawa probably hasn’t just gone to the bathroom or something. Come to think of it, Hajime’s back is against the wall, and Oikawa never lets him take the wall position. Something is wrong here.
He’s definitely in Oikawa’s room, though. He can tell with his eyes closed—the room smells like Oikawa’s fancy cologne and coconut hair gel as well as sweat and laundry detergent, and the alarm is blaring some irritating pop song instead of Hajime’s default beeps. He opens his eyes blearily to confirm, and yes, there are Oikawa’s posters of volleyball idols on the wall opposite him. He lurches to prop himself up on his elbow and reaches across Oikawa’s alien-patterned sheets to slam the power button on the alarm clock.
Wait a second. Something is even more wrong than he thought. He freezes and stares at the hand that still rests on top of the clock, with its long, elegant fingers. He knows it like the back of his hand. Unfortunately, it’s not the back of his hand.
It’s Oikawa’s hand.
“What. The. Fuck.” Hajime says, and hears the words echo back to his ears in Oikawa’s tenor voice, shrill with shock. This can’t be happening. There is no way that at some point when he was sleeping he wandered into some horrible 1980s American movie. He pinches the back of his hand in the vain hope that he’s dreaming, feeling the terror mount. It hurts. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.”
Hajime levers himself out of the bed. The angles are subtly different than he’s used to. Oikawa’s arms are longer than his, so he has to push himself farther away from the bed to get the room to stand up fully. When his feet meet the cold hardwood floor and he stands, everything seems slightly lower than usual. Five centimeters makes a visible difference, apparently. He looks down at himself in a hopeless confirmation that nothing has changed in the past thirty seconds. But no, that’s still Oikawa’s chest, lean and pale but still impeccably muscled, with a trail of fine hair leading down into his volleyball-patterned boxers…
Hajime thanks his wave of incredulous amusement at the fact that Oikawa seriously still wears volleyball boxers for distracting his train of thought from falling off that dangerous little cliff. He has better things to think about right now than how hot his best friend’s naked chest is considering that he’s currently inhabiting that friend’s naked chest, somehow.
He feels panic rushing up through said chest again. Hajime is usually good at going with the flow and adapting to the situation, but this is a situation that he could never have possibly pictured. His brain isn’t really forming full sentences and thoughts anymore, lapsing back into fragmentary what-the-hells and how-the-fucks and what-will-Is, his mind spinning until he can’t think.
He’s pacing and he can’t stop. This body seems to have an excess of nervous energy, or maybe that’s just the terror talking. Without realizing it, he ends up in the bathroom, staring at his own reflection in the mirror. He’s seen Oikawa’s face in a lot of expressions, but he’s never seen his eyes this wide or his face this pale. His hair, unmanageable as it usually is in the mornings, stands out like a dark cloud framing the face sallow with shock.
Hajime rakes his hands through the mop a few more times, making flyaway pieces stick out even more. The slight pain in his scalp as he tugs too hard grounds him in reality, making him feel a little more connected to this body. The panic fades a little; in its place is left a familiar and somehow comforting overwhelming rage. Hajime has no idea how this could possibly have happened, or even if this is real or a vivid dream; what he does know is that there’s only one person whose fault this could be. And he’s going to find him and make him pay.
“SHITTYKAWA!” he shouts at the top of his lungs.
From the next house over, he can faintly hear an answering terrified shriek at a volume and pitch much higher than his lungs were ever meant to create. “IWA-CHAAAAAAN!”
Well, that answers one question. Whatever happened, happened to both of them. Hajime squares his shoulders and marches out of the bathroom. He’s going to find Oikawa, and when he does, there will be hell to pay.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 2: in which there is a lot of bickering and not a whole lot gets done.
Sorry this took so long, guys! College happened to me! I hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“This cannot be happening,” Hajime mutters for the tenth time, running his too-delicate fingers through his too-long (and soft, wow, how the hell did he even get it this soft?) hair. “I cannot deal with this right now.”
“Why are you even upset, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa says mournfully, staring at his reflection in Iwaizumi’s mirror. The two of them are set up in Hajime’s bedroom right now. Neither Hajime’s nor Oikawa’s mother was particularly surprised to see what was seemingly Oikawa running to Iwaizumi’s house clad only in his boxers, although Oikawa’s sister Tomiko dropped her newspaper and stared as Hajime dashed by and Hajime’s mother looked disconcerted when he nearly called her “Okaa-san” instead of “Iwaizumi-san”. Hajime was intending on putting Oikawa in a headlock until he explained what was going on, but the instant he arrived it became clear that Oikawa knew just as little as he did. “At least you get to be pretty now,” Oikawa continues, glumly pulling at stray strands of Hajime’s hair. “I may work miracles when it comes to appearance, but I don’t know if even I can do anything with-” he gestures at Hajime’s entire body- “this.” Oikawa’s look of refined disgust looks bizarre on Hajime’s face, and Hajime is simultaneously struck by the urge to laugh, horror that he still finds Oikawa’s little nose wrinkle kind of cute even though it’s so far from home, and burning rage.
As usual, the rage wins. “Are you serious, you utter asshole,” Hajime says flatly, not even bothering to yell. “THAT is the biggest problem you think we have right now. We are- somehow- each other all of a sudden and your first priority is insulting my looks, you self-absorbed- narcissistic- pretty boy-” he jabs Oikawa in the side with each word.
“Ow, ow, okay, sorry, you’re gorgeous, now stop it!” Oikawa slaps his fingers away. “That’s gonna hurt when we switch back, Iwa-chan.”
“As long as it hurts you more, I’m willing to live with it,” Hajime growls, choosing to ignore Oikawa’s near-silent whisper of “brute”. “And besides, who even knows if we are going to switch back? We don’t even know what did this, how are we supposed to know how to fix it?”
Oikawa gasps. “I know who did this,” he suddenly proclaims, and the eyes that are usually Hajime’s light up in a way that Hajime’s seen enough to know the only thing it’s associated with.
“Oh my God, not the fucking aliens again,” Hajime groans long and loud over Oikawa’s triumphant exclamation.
“It was the aliens- no, seriously, Iwa-chan, I actually mean it, listen to me,” Oikawa continues, waving his hands. Oikawa can’t stop glancing at his reflection in the mirror, Hajime notices. He’s probably still drawn by the way the movements he’s making are being responded to by Hajime’s body. Hajime can’t blame him, because he can’t stop staring at Oikawa either. Watching Oikawa’s grace transferred to his own limbs is fascinating. “If we woke up like this today,” Oikawa continues, “then the cause has to be something that happened yesterday, right?”
He pauses expectantly, and Hajime realizes with a sense of resignation that he’s going to have to participate in this conversation. “Okay, fine…” he says cautiously.
“So think back to yesterday. What did we do that was out of the ordinary? We had morning practice, school, afternoon practice, went to the convenience store, saw the meteor shower, went home, did homework, and went to bed. Right?”
Hajime rolls his eyes and mutters “If watching three Godzilla movies counts as homework…”, but nods.
“It was a totally normal day, except for the aliens. Right?” When Hajime doesn’t move to respond Oikawa crosses his arms in front of his chest and starts tapping his foot. “Riiiiiiight?” His tone, while gruffer and lower, is still recognizable as his “I-can-do-this-all-day-Iwa-chan-so-don’t-even-try-to-resist” voice.
“They weren’t aliens, Shittykawa,” Hajime grumbles stubbornly, because okay, this definitely is the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to him and Oikawa has more of a point than usual with his bizarre alien speculations, but he’s also been having this argument with Oikawa since they were seven and he refuses to lose just because Oikawa has a marginally greater chance of being right than usual. He will admit that Oikawa is right about the rest of it, though- yesterday was almost excruciatingly normal, except for the meteors.
“Right, so logically it follows that it must have been the aliens. Whatever you wished on that star, the aliens must have granted your wish. It’s the only explanation.”
Hajime sits down heavily on the bed and rakes his hands through Oikawa’s hair again, rolling his eyes. “What? How is this my fault now?”
“You probably wished to be prettier or something and the aliens took it the wrong way, right?”
Hajime huffs out a sigh of disbelief and buries his head in his hands to give himself a moment to process Oikawa’s colossal ego before raising it again. “Don’t be ridiculous, dumbass Oikawa, I didn’t wish for anything like that-” he pauses as the memory of exactly what he did wish for comes crashing into his head like a sledgehammer. “Just let me be as tall as Oikawa…”
No. No, no, no, no, no. There is absolutely no way that the aliens could have taken it like that, if the aliens even existed, which they don’t, because only Oikawa could actually believe that something as childish as wish-granting extraterrestrials are behind this, so there’s clearly some other explanation for this that just isn’t coming to mind right now, and Hajime can’t believe that he actually has to be thinking about this. He realizes that the silence has been dragging on for just a beat too long. Also that his jaw may have dropped open, and that judging from the heat he feels blazing from his cheeks he’s probably blushing like crazy. Curse Oikawa’s fair complexion. All right, fine, he can work with this. Time to redirect blame. “First off, it wasn’t my wish that did this, but even if it was, it would have been your fault because you’re the one who forced me to wish on a star like a six-year-old. Second, why are we just assuming that it was my wish? How am I supposed to know that you didn’t wish for this?”
“Oh no, my wish was-” Oikawa pauses for a fraction of a second- “completely different.” He widens his eyes in a way that probably would have made his own face look earnest but just makes Hajime’s face look startled. “Why would I want to look like a gorilla?”
Hajime stands up so abruptly that the bed creaks in protest.
“Iwa-chan, where are you going?”
“I’m going to the bathroom so I can get my razor.”
Oikawa looks completely lost. “I shaved yesterday, Iwa-chan, you probably won’t have to again until at least Tuesday.”
“No, I’m getting a razor so the next time you make a crack about my appearance I can shave all your beautiful hair off.”
Oikawa’s eyes widen for real this time. “Iwa-chan, you wouldn’t dare.”
“You think so? Then call me a gorilla one more time.”
“Iwa-chan, you’re such a brute, threatening me like th- AAGH!” Oikawa cuts himself off as Hajime decides that “brute” is close enough and sprints for the bathroom. Oikawa launches himself across the room and manages to grab onto Hajime’s ankles; the two of them go down with a loud thump.
“Are you boys okay up there?” Iwaizumi’s mother calls from downstairs. The boys freeze in mid-tussle.
“We’re fine, Okaa-san,” calls Oikawa, having the presence of mind to actually use the name his voice should be using. “We just, um, knocked something over.”
“All right! Well, you boys better hurry up or you’ll be late for morning practice! And Tooru should probably put some clothes on before the two of you leave!”
“Sorry, Iwaizumi-san,” Hajime yells, belatedly recalling that his mother probably wasn’t interested in seeing as much of Oikawa as she’d seen on his mad dash over here. In retrospect, he really should have put something on before he left Oikawa’s house.
“Oh no, morning practice,” Oikawa moans, letting go of Hajime’s ankles and sitting up on his heels. “Volleyball, Iwa-chan. What are we going to do?”
Hajime lurches to his feet, amazed that that thought hasn’t crossed his mind yet during the interminable fifteen minutes in which he’s been awake and aware of their situation. He has no idea if he’ll be able to set like Oikawa in this body- he’s made a few embarrassing attempts at tossing to Oikawa in some of their late-night practice sessions just to see if he can and the ball has always sailed off into a random corner of the gym long before or after Oikawa’s hand has made its unsuccessful swing. Oikawa is better at spiking than Hajime is at setting, of course, since he’s practiced spiking Watari’s tosses plenty of times, but he’s still nowhere near Hajime’s level. For a spiraling second, Hajime can feel the dream that he and Oikawa have been working towards for five years start to crumble.
“How can we play like this? How can we beat Ushijima like this? How can we even beat Tobio-chan like this?” Oikawa continues, his eyes going worryingly wide and his voice worryingly high-pitched. Hajime’s never heard his own voice sound this distressed before.
Hajime takes a deep breath, forcing down his own burgeoning worries. Oikawa doesn’t need him to add his own voice to the chorus of distress. He opens his mouth to try to speak, but Oikawa’s speaking again before he can, voice shaking as hard as his hands.
“This is our last year, it’s our last chance! What do we do if we can’t switch back? What if- what if we never switch back? Neither of us can play professionally like this! We’ll never win again! What if-”
Hajime kneels down, grabs Oikawa roughly by the shoulders and holds him still, trying to stop the shaking. “Hey, hey, Oikawa, listen to me. Don’t panic. And don’t cry, you’ll destroy my reputation,” he adds as a halfhearted joke, noting the sparkle of too many unshed tears in Oikawa’s eyes. “We still have the strongest six, right? Even if we’re a little mixed up right now, we still have all the right parts to win. The first-years are great this year, and everyone is developing perfectly. Even with this, we’ll figure something out. I’ll learn to set and you’ll learn to spike, or we’ll just switch places on the court and confuse the hell out of Kageyama and Ushiwaka. We’ll think of something. We’re in this together, so we’re not going to let each other fail.”
Oikawa’s breathing more regularly now. “I know,” he says, “I know.” Hajime can still feel Oikawa’s shoulders trembling, but the shaking is slowing. He thinks it’s safe to let go now.
“And anyway,” Hajime continues, “we’ll probably fix this long before we have to worry about beating Kageyama and Ushiwaka. We’re probably just switched so we can learn some bullshit lesson about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes or something.”
This time Oikawa actually laughs, a sound that startles Hajime, who’s never heard himself giggle before. “Iwa-chan’s been watching too many cheesy American movies,” he laughs, only a little watery.
Hajime instinctively defends himself. “No I haven’t, dumbass.” Oikawa never has to know about the massive pile of American family comedies hidden in Hajime’s closet. “Anyway, that’s not the point of what I was saying. This probably isn’t permanent. We’ll figure out a way to fix it.”
Oikawa stands up and wipes his eyes with Hajime’s undershirt, exposing the bottom half of his chest. Hajime stares at his own muscles with a sort of clinical interest- yeah, it’s easier to tell that his training regimen is coming along well from here than from in the mirror. His muscles are even more prominent than he’d thought. Oikawa follows the track of Hajime’s eyes as he lifts his own and lets the undershirt fall. “Are you checking yourself out? What a narcissist, Iwa-chan.” He laughs again, even more mockery in his tone than last time. Apparently the less emotionally distraught he gets the more annoying he gets. Hajime’s not sure if the tradeoff was worth it.
“Oh please, like you haven’t been riveted by the sight of yourself just wearing boxers,” Hajime scoffs, standing up as well.
“Actually, I’ve mainly just been fascinated by my hair. How did you even get it to stand up in that many directions? You’re turning it into hedgehog hair like yours usually is.”
Hajime cups his ear theatrically, his expression darkening. “Did I just hear you insult my appearance?”
Oikawa backtracks. “Don’t be ridiculous, Iwa-chan. I like hedgehogs. They’re so bristly and angry at first, but they’re really cuddly deep down. Just like you!”
“Like hell I’m cuddly,” Hajime mutters, but lets it drop. He glances at his clock- they’re probably late for morning practice by now- but instead of flashing numbers he’s greeted with a blank screen. “What did you do to my clock, Assikawa?” he asks.
“I couldn’t figure out how to turn your alarm off, so I unplugged it,” Oikawa shrugs.
“Was pressing the snooze button really too much for you to get your head around?”
“It doesn’t matter anyway, I have the time.” Oikawa moves back a few steps and grabs Hajime’s phone from his desk. “Oh crap, we’re late… And it’s going to take me forever to look presentable, too.”
“How are we going to handle this in front of other people?” Hajime asks. He hasn’t really thought too much about the logistics yet. “Are we just going to tell them that we switched bodies?”
Hajime thinks that Oikawa is probably attempting to arch one eyebrow condescendingly. Hajime’s eyebrows can’t move separately from each other, though, so the expression just turns into a hopeless mess of scrunching brows and squinted eyes. Oikawa perseveres anyway, with his tone just as scathing as it would have been had he been able to pull off the face he was going for. “Do you seriously think anyone is going to believe us if we tell them that? I thought maybe using my brain would have given you a little more sense, Iwa-chan.”
“Shut up, Shittykawa,” Hajime grumbles, but Oikawa does have a point. “So what, we’re just going to imitate each other?”
“I think that’s the best plan,” Oikawa says seriously. His brows furrow naturally this time and his forehead wrinkles; he must be thinking deeply. Hajime reminds himself that he’s not allowed to think it’s cute because that actually is a little narcissistic. “We’ve known each other long enough, we should be able to pull it off.”
“Hmmm…” Hajime tries to think of another way around the problem. He’s not entirely sure he trusts Oikawa to walk around pretending to be him all day without doing something ridiculous that destroys his reputation. He would trust Oikawa with his life, but trusting him not to make a complete fool out of Hajime just because he can is a different matter.
“Okay, watch.” Oikawa takes a deep breath, schools his expression into a scowl, and says, in a voice that’s about half an octave deeper than Hajime’s usual tone, “Hi, I’m Iwaizumi Hajime and I hate everything and have no hygiene skills or culture. Screw you, Shittykawa.” Hajime knew he was right not to trust Oikawa.
“Yeah, well, I can do a perfect Oikawa impression.” Hajime pitches his voice higher and tries to sound as annoying as humanly possible. “Blah blah, volleyball, Iwa-chan, volleyball, I’m the best person ever, volleyball.” He finishes off by attempting Oikawa’s signature face- wink (only he’s never winked in his life before… it’s sort of like a one-eyed blink, right?), peace sign, cheesy grin with tongue slightly sticking out (how does he do that without biting his tongue off?).
Oikawa gives him a look. Hajime thinks that, completely by accident, Oikawa has managed to discover Hajime’s signature “fuck-you” face. He pulls it off surprisingly well for about two seconds, at which point he bursts out laughing. “Iwa-chan...” he gasps through his giggles. “You look like you’re… being tortured… please… never make... that face… again…”
Hajime tries to hold back his own chuckle, but it’s no use. The boys double over, the room filling with peals of laughter that’s only slightly hysteria-induced. The laughter feels freeing for Hajime- he can feel some of his worries fly into the air and dissipate as he chokes out, “It’s not like you were any better. What was that voice?”
Oikawa sighs. “We’re not gonna last five minutes, are we?”
“Probably not,” Hajime concurs. But a few minutes later as he runs over to Oikawa’s house to get ready, now wearing one of his own sweaters as well as Oikawa’s amazingly childlike boxers, he reflects that maybe this won’t be so bad after all. Like he told Oikawa earlier, at least they’re in this together.
I was going to write another scene for this chapter and then I realized that this scene on its own was about as long as the first chapter was so I thought I should probably stop here. I don't know how to write short scenes, sorry... But next chapter you can look forward to Iwaizumi attempting to style Oikawa's hair, as well as a guest appearance by Hanamaki, and possibly even more than that depending on how long the scenes end up being! I'm still in midterms season so I'm not quite sure when the next chapter will come out but hopefully it won't take much more than a week. My spring break starts March 20th so if I haven't managed to write any before then it'll almost definitely be out within a few days of that. See you guys then!
In which Iwaizumi Hajime should never attempt to style anyone's hair ever again.
Alt. title: Welcome to Hair Hell
Welcome to chapter three! This chapter is dedicated to the-smallest-state for her help with hair products- my hair is way too long to style so I know about as much as Iwa does about this kind of thing. You're the best! I hope everyone enjoys this chapter; other characters are starting to show up, so get excited!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hajime’s confidence that this won’t be so bad lasts maybe five minutes. That’s the amount of time it takes to throw on Oikawa’s school uniform, search around the room for his tie (Hajime will never understand why it was hanging from a lampshade), and head into the bathroom, where he’s confronted by a million hair products he’s never even heard of before. Well, that’s not quite true; he’s seen Oikawa use some of them before when they share the bathroom getting ready for school. But it’s not like he’s actually paid attention, other than to roll his eyes at Oikawa’s vanity. He stares at the various bottles and tubes like a kindergartener presented with a calculus problem. Why does Oikawa’s hair have to be so complicated?
He sighs and leans heavily on the counter, staring into Oikawa’s wide brown eyes and trying to figure out where he should even start. He has to admit that Oikawa was right about the hedgehog-hair thing- his hair floats around his head like a disgruntled brown cloud. It looks nothing like Oikawa’s regular perfect waves. He runs his fingers through the hair again in frustration, succeeding only in disarranging it even more. He should really stop doing that.
Hajime grabs a jar at random and reads the label. Oikawa’s eyes are better than his by a little, he thinks- he doesn’t have to hold the jar quite as close to his face as usual. All-Natural Pomade Styling Wax, he reads. He tries to remember if he’s ever seen Oikawa use this jar but comes up completely blank. Well, it can’t hurt to try, can it?
He unscrews the jar gingerly and dips his fingers into the white waxy goop inside. He scoops some out, coating his fingers thoroughly. How is this supposed to work? Does he just slap it on top of his head? He raises his fingers gingerly and rubs some of the wax through the mess that Oikawa’s hair has become. It’s difficult to work through the strands- Hajime grimaces at the texture, which is unpleasantly reminiscent of rolling a stick of chalk around in his fingers. Maybe he just needs more wax. He dips his hand into the jar several more times and spreads the contents haphazardly around his head. It’s not spreading evenly, and it feels almost chunky. He can see some smears of wax on his forehead too, from where his swipes missed the hair a little. He tries to rub the wax off with his free left hand, but only succeeds in spreading it more across his forehead, giving it an oily sheen. Oikawa’s really going to love it when Hajime steps out of the house looking like he’s about to break out in a huge crop of acne.
He sighs and returns his attention to the problem of the hair. He’s pretty sure the wax has just made the problem worse- the hair is now sticking up in straggly clumps instead of like one solid mass. It reminds him of a preschooler’s drawing of the sun with its chunky triangular rays. Maybe if he tries to move the clumps around so they’re in roughly the same place as Oikawa’s usual smooth waves… Hajime thanks his crush for at least giving him an encyclopedic knowledge of exactly where every hair on Oikawa’s head should be. God knows he’s stared longingly at that hair enough times when Oikawa wasn’t looking, wondering what it would be like to run his hands through it as Oikawa gasped and panted against his lips. Well, now he knows that it’s as soft as he always thought it would be. At least, when it doesn’t have this fucking wax shit in it it is. Now it’s just sort of… greasy and gritty and unpleasant overall.
Hajime tugs futilely at each lock of hair, trying to get it to follow the easy contours that Oikawa’s hair usually does. The clumps he’s grabbing refuse to hold together, though- the wax is distributed so unevenly that when he takes his fingers off each individual clump after trying to move it, half of it slowly puffs out again. This isn’t working at all. With increasing frustration, Hajime yanks at the chunks, trying to get them to stay in an alignment that makes sense, dammit, he used like half the jar of wax, how could this not be working? He gives up altogether when he realizes that some dark brown threads of hair are coming away in his hands. If he keeps doing this, he’ll probably end up hurting Oikawa’s look as much as the razor would have, and then Oikawa will decide he has carte blanche to completely ruin Iwaizumi’s life in retaliation. Not that he doesn’t attempt to do that every day anyway.
Hajime realizes he’s been raking his hands through his hair in frustration again- he really needs to stop doing that. He’s undone most of what he managed to do with the wax. Now half of his hair is in a rough approximation of Oikawa’s usual waves, or at least going the direction in which Oikawa’s hair usually lays, but the rest of it is still sticking up crazily. Hajime’s reminded of the way characters in cartoons stereotypically look right after they’ve been electrocuted. The only thing missing is the smoke pouring out of his ears, although Hajime’s pretty sure that he’ll have that in a minute too if this hairstyling odyssey gets any worse.
“You know what? Fuck it,” he says out loud to his disgruntled reflection. “This is what hats are for.” He’s not entirely sure if hats are within Seijou dress code, but he’d rather get written up for a violation than have to deal with this mess for another second. He feels his grudging respect for Oikawa tick up another notch. Anyone who has the patience to turn this bird’s nest into something attractive every day is stronger than he is, to be sure.
When Oikawa meets Hajime on the sidewalk outside their houses for the walk to school, the first thing he says is “Why the hell are you wearing that hat?”
“What, can’t I be cold?” Hajime grumbles.
“It’s May, Iwa-chan. It’s almost 20 degrees, the sun is shining, and that hat is fleece. I know my circulation is bad, but it’s not that bad.”
“Shut up, let’s just get to school, Shittykawa,” says Hajime, and starts off down the road.
Oikawa follows after him, clearly unwilling to just let the goddamn hat thing go already. “And out of all the hats in my room, why did you have to pick that one?”
Hajime tugs self-consciously at the hat- it’s electric blue with orange and purple flower appliques and a pink bobble. It didn’t look like much to him when he saw it in Oikawa’s room, but he figured that if Oikawa had it then it had to be fashionable, right? “It was the first one I saw,” he answers.
Oikawa sighs theatrically in an Iwa-chan-let-me-explain-to-you-why-you’re-an-idiot sort of way. “Iwa-chan, Tomiko gave me that hat as a joke. You realize that, right? We have a competition where we try to buy each other the ugliest possible item of clothing, and that was her newest entry, and I honestly think she might have me beat this time, and you are wearing it to school. It’s literally the worst thing I own, Iwa-chan. See the problem?”
Oops. Hajime can freely admit that he thinks it’s an ugly hat, but he thought it was one of those things that he thinks is ugly but the rest of the world thinks is gorgeous. It suddenly makes a lot more sense that when he passed Tomiko at the breakfast table on his way out of the house the second time, she stared at him blankly before bursting into laughter.
“Give it here,” Oikawa says, a respectable imitation of Hajime’s habitual scowl fixed on his face. He holds out his hand.
Hajime doesn’t respond; he breaks into a run instead. He sort of knows how Oikawa must feel when running from him a lot of the time now, because he’s pretty sure that if Oikawa manages to get the hat off and sees what Hajime’s done to his beautiful hair Hajime won’t survive the rest of the day.
Hajime’s usually faster than Oikawa, so he would normally have no trouble outrunning him, but that’s when the world is as it should be. In this world, after only a couple seconds Oikawa’s hand is coming up triumphantly and snatching the hat off his head. He didn’t even last a block. Sometimes the world is truly unfair, Hajime thinks.
“Iwa-chan, what did you DO?” Oikawa roars.
Hajime shrugs, holding his arms out to try to copy Oikawa’s signature pose. He’s pretty sure that the hat mashed down some of the spikes that had managed to form, so he’s sure the hair looks even worse. “Sorry, I tried,” he says.
“What did you even put on it? I don’t understand how you work. What kind of hair black magic do you have?” Hajime thought that Oikawa would be angrier than this. Honestly, he just looks like he’s fighting back tears of laughter. Which, granted, does have a superficial resemblance to anger on a face like Hajime’s, but he’s pretty sure he can tell the difference.
“Just some sort of wax,” he says, reflexively running his hand through his hair and getting it covered with wax again.
Oikawa’s jaw drops. “You used my sister’s hair wax, didn’t you,” he says flatly.
“You actually used Tomiko’s hair wax to- wow, Iwa-chan, I knew your head was empty, but I never thought you could be this bad.”
“It’s not my fault I don’t understand your stupid hair care products. It was on your counter, how was I supposed to know?”
“Iwa-chan, Tomiko uses this to spike her hair.”
Hajime thinks about Oikawa Tomiko’s usual punk hairstyle, with a halo of spikes sticking out from her head. The results he’s been getting suddenly make sense. “...Oh.”
Oikawa grabs his hand suddenly again and drags him forward. “Come on. We’re going to school and we’re skipping the back half of morning practice and instead you’re going to take a shower and I’m going to do your hair right.”
“You’re suggesting we skip a practice?” Hajime looks at him incredulously. “Oikawa Tooru would rather fix his hair than play volleyball?”
“I don’t think you realize just how terrible you look, Iwa-chan. This is an emergency situation. Now come on, hurry up, and stop slouching. Your posture is awful.”
“Well, you need to actually start slouching,” Hajime replies.
“You should really try standing up straight for once once we’re back to normal,” Oikawa replies. “It’ll do wonders for your Napoleon complex. Maybe the extra few centimeters will stop you from being so short and nasty all the time.”
Hajime snaps, “I’m not short, I’m completely average! And maybe if you weren’t such a provocative asshole I wouldn’t be so nasty all the time, did you ever think about that?”
“Awww, but Iwa-chan, that wouldn’t be any fun!” Oikawa whines as he skips ahead of Hajime.
“Stop skipping, you look like you’re seven. That is the fastest way to ruin our cover that I could possibly think of.”
“If we don’t fix your hair, even glancing at us is gonna be enough to blow our cover. And please tuck in your shirt and tie. I’m not a heathen like you are, Iwa-chan.”
“I’m not a heathen, I’m just not prissy. There’s a big difference, shithead.”
They argue all the way to school, but by the time they get there they’ve gotten certain things worked out. The outfits are correct, and Hajime thinks he’s captured the slight spring in his step that Oikawa gets when he’s happy. His whistling is a little more off-key than Oikawa’s, but it’s acceptable. And Oikawa is somehow managing to pull off an almost perfect Iwaizumi Hajime impression- he’s a natural actor, Hajime thinks.
They sneak around the side of the building to get into the locker room showers the back way, not wanting to explain to their team why they’re skipping morning practice for their hair care regime. Once they’re in, Oikawa shoves Hajime in the direction of the showers. “Go. Strip,” he says.
“You seem awfully eager to get me naked,” Hajime can’t resist cracking, although he regrets it when he feels a sharp stab of longing for that to actually be true.
“You’re in my body, I’ve seen it before,” Oikawa responds. “There’s shampoo in your gym bag, it should wash out the wax just fine. Make sure to use conditioner afterwards, though.”
Hajime stares at him blankly. “Conditioner?”
“You… Oh, I give up. You probably don’t even use shampoo, you probably just scrub soap all over your head like some kind of savage.” It’s true, but Hajime doesn’t feel the need to confirm that and pitch in any more to his ongoing humiliation. Oikawa rummages through the bag that Hajime just put down and pulls out two bottles. “Use the transparent bottle first, then the opaque one. I’ll wait outside for you to finish. Don’t do anything pervy, Iwa-chan!” He winks, an expression that looks rather sinister on Hajime’s face, and retreats.
Hajime doesn’t do anything pervy in the shower, although it takes a lot of effort and a few drops in water temperature. He may have been great at repressing his crush up to this point, but he never really expected the universe to test him like this. He can’t resist looking, and ends up with enough to fuel his late-night fantasies for months, but he firmly resists doing anything else. That would be a breach of trust, he thinks. At least the shampoo and conditioner are relatively easy to figure out, and the wax washes right out.
He gets out of the shower and back into his clothes- actually putting them on correctly this time- and returns to the bathroom proper to find Oikawa setting up some bizarre contraption that resembles a hair dryer with a meat tenderizer attached to the end of it. “What the fuck is that?” he asks, wondering vaguely if Oikawa has snapped at last from the stress of the morning and is planning to murder him.
“It’s a diffuser, Iwa-chan,” answers Oikawa, swinging it around in a manner that he probably doesn’t intend to be threatening. “It makes sure my hair doesn’t frizz. Come here in front of the mirror and sit down.” He gestures to a chair that he apparently dragged out of the locker room while Hajime was showering. “I’m going to show you how to deal with my hair.”
Hajime sits down warily. “Do you just carry that with you everywhere?”
Oikawa shrugs. “I keep a backup one in my locker. If I need to go somewhere after practice then I have to fix my hair again so I can look like a decent human being instead of like Iwa-chan.”
“Could you please just turn off your inner asshole for five minutes and not make this worse than it already is for me?” Hajime asks, burying his head in his hands in frustration.
“Towel your hair off first,” Oikawa says, ignoring him, “and then we’re gonna brush it-”
“Oh, brushes,” Hajime says. “I knew I was forgetting something.”
“You didn’t even BRUSH IT?” Oikawa squeals, sounding honestly offended.
“I never brush my hair, so I forgot it was an option,” Hajime responds.
Oikawa chooses to drop the subject, apparently, possibly because he looks like he’s about to start crying from frustration. “After you towel it off, you spray this in,” he says, holding up a bottle. “It’s a texturizing sea salt spray. It’s how I get my hair to shine, and it holds the waves in place just a little. And the smell is just gorgeous. Then you just blow-dry it for a few minutes and you’re good to go- please pay attention, Iwa-chan, these are exclusive beauty secrets!”
Hajime’s eyes glazed over about thirty seconds ago. He blinks and comes back to the real world. “No, I was paying attention. You like smelling like the beach and you think you’re beautiful. Can we just get started?” (Hajime also likes that Oikawa smells like the beach, actually. It’s a carefree smell that fits him well. But that wasn’t his point.)
Oikawa sighs and complies.
They’re yelling over the sound of the hairdryer about their Japanese Lit test and how if either of them scores lower than the other the person who gets the lower score is going to have to treat the other one to dinner for a week when Hajime happens to glance at the mirror and realizes that they’re not alone. Hanamaki is standing in the doorway, his face breaking into a grin, like he can’t believe what he’s seeing. Hajime tugs on Oikawa’s sleeve and points into the mirror and the hair dryer whirrs sadly to a halt.
“Morning, guys,” Hanamaki says. “I was wondering where you two were instead of practice. I should have realized that Iwaizumi would be training for his newfound career as a hairdresser.”
“Morning, Makki,” Hajime says hurriedly, realizing exactly what this looks like and trying to figure out some explanation that would be less strange than the truth. “I was just… showing Iwa-chan how to… style my hair… so maybe one day he can look as beautiful as me!... Hehehe,” he adds a giggle to the end of the sentence.
“This idiot insisted,” says Oikawa, rolling his eyes. “I have no idea why, but sometimes it’s just easier to let him have his way. Like giving a toddler candy to make them stop crying.” Hajime could practically kiss him for how fluid and Hajime-like that sounded; that is, until Oikawa just can’t resist and adds, “Besides, I could never look as pretty as Oikawa, anyway.”
“Umm, sure,” says Hanamaki, raising one eyebrow to stratospheric levels.
Hajime is going to kill Oikawa. It was going so well, and then he just had to add in that dig. “Aww, Iwa-chan, don’t sell yourself short like that!” he responds with a pointed glare at Oikawa in the mirror. “You’re plenty beautiful already! There’s just always room to improve, you know?”
“Shut up, Assikawa,” Oikawa says, and flicks him on the back of the head. It stings a surprising amount. “Thanks for the compliment, though.” That tone rings so surprisingly genuine- sounds so exactly like Hajime does when he grudgingly gives thanks to Oikawa for something that he really doesn’t want to admit made him happy- that Hajime jerks in surprise and meets Oikawa’s eyes in the mirror. Sometimes he forgets that for as long as he’s been with Oikawa, learning his secrets and his moods and every little quirk of his personality, Oikawa has done exactly the same thing for him. It warms his heart, just a little, to know that Oikawa likes his tone of gratitude well enough to remember and mimic it down to the last note.
“Well!” says Hanamaki brightly- oh, right, Hanamaki is still here, Hajime remembers belatedly. “I’m gonna head back to practice right now! You two have fun with your… beauty salon… or whatever this is! Oh, and Iwaizumi, if you decide to go farther with this career, let me know, I could use a haircut.” With that, he’s gone, retreating from the bathroom door and back into the locker room. Oikawa and Hajime sit in shocked silence for a minute before Hajime breaks it.
“We are so fucked.”
And that's it for this chapter! I hope you guys liked it! As always, I'm at oikawatooruinedmylife over on tumblr if you want to chat! And spring break just started so hopefully you won't have to wait 9 days for the next installment :D
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
In which Iwaizumi Hajime fucks up big-time.
Yes, I know it's been... forever... On the bright side, I did write 50k words or so in the last few weeks, they were just all for other fics. I'm so sorry for keeping you guys waiting and I hope this was worth the wait!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Aside from the complete disaster that is The Great Hair Debacle, the morning goes almost startlingly well. Hajime is surprised to find that being Oikawa is actually easier than it appears. He guesses that seeing someone nearly every day for more than a decade is the best dress rehearsal for being them. From ten years of osmosis (and a lot of staring in the past few months), he knows every one of Oikawa’s mannerisms- from the exact angle at which he props his head on his hand when he’s bored in class, to the slight twist of his lip when someone says something he disagrees with but he doesn’t want to let it show, to the pattern in which he taps his pencil against his desk to let off an excess of energy. Imitating them doesn’t come nearly as easily to him as it does to Oikawa, but he doesn’t think he’s doing half-badly.
Overall, he’s surprisingly prepared for this. He’s prepared to walk to class, tugging on Oikawa’s shoulder and calling him “Iwa-chan” approximately five times a second. (It makes a little part of his soul die, true, but he does what he has to.) He’s prepared to slide into Oikawa’s seat and arrange his materials just the way Oikawa likes them, with a row of different-colored pens lined up on the right side (“Why the hell do you need all of these out at once?” “I like to have options, Iwa-chan…”) and notebooks stacked neatly on top of folders. He’s even prepared for the Japanese literature test, or as prepared as he can be considering that he spent most of last night watching various monsters attempt to destroy Tokyo. At first his handwriting comes out as a bizarre mix of Oikawa’s and his own, but he manages to school it into something resembling Oikawa’s impeccable script. He’s lucky the two of them are approximately equally good at literary analysis.
What he’s not prepared for is getting accosted by a group of Oikawa’s fangirls the second they step into the hallway for their lunch break.
Hajime freezes when he sees them. There are around half a dozen of them, all short and high-pitched and giggly, and he sees the lead girl’s head snap around and her gaze latch onto him like a shark closing in for the kill, and oh shit, there’s a piece of paper in her hands, is that a confession letter, and he’s sorry, Oikawa, but he never signed up for this-
He doesn’t realize that he’s wheeled around and started to bolt until he feels a grip like iron on his upper arm, halting his progress. “You can’t just run away, you idiot,’ hisses Oikawa, sporting a scowl that Hajime would be proud to call his own. “They’re just girls, honestly-” he firmly turns Hajime around again. Hajime can’t help but be a little satisfied at the strength of his usual body’s grip, as much as he wishes that his futile arm-wriggling would be enough to break him out of it.
“You owe me big-time for this,” he whispers back as he faces the girls, pulling himself up to his full height and trying to act like he’s only just noticed them and totally didn’t try to run away just now.
“Ya-ho, ladies,” he says as they get closer to him, raising a hand in a wave and trying to make his tone sparkle like it does when Oikawa’s talking to people who are attracted to him. It falls a little flat, he can tell- he mostly just sounds strained. Better than sounding terrified, which is how he actually feels. At least he doesn’t try to wink this time. Oikawa puffs out air from between clenched teeth. “What can I help you with?” Hajime continues, realizing belatedly that he sort of sounds like a waiter taking the girls’ order at a diner.
The girl in the lead steps up to him. Hajime thinks he recognizes her- he’s pretty sure he’s seen her in Watari’s class. She wears her hair in twin high, curling ponytails tied up with pink ribbons and her lips are turned up in a self-confident smile. She’s pretty, Hajime has to admit. Not that he’s really into that sort of aesthetic. His type is taller, with lighter, shorter hair, better at volleyball, stronger, named Oikawa Tooru… Was he going somewhere with this?
The girl is definitely holding a confession letter; it’s as pink as her hair ribbons. “Hello, Oikawa-san,” she says- her tone is bold, but her left hand is nervously twirling one of her ponytails. She holds out the letter with her other hand. Hajime takes it and unfolds it nervously.
The letter itself is fairly standard- I’ve noticed you for a long time, I like you, we should get to know each other better, will you go out with me? It’s signed with the name “Sakura Keiko” in cute, bubbly kanji and a bright red lipstick kiss. Hajime feels his heart sink a little- Sakura-san really is very pretty, and the lipstick kiss is just the sort of bold, flirty touch that would appeal to Oikawa. If he actually has to accept this confession as Oikawa he thinks his heart might break where he stands.
He takes his time going over the letter, rereading it twice, trying to stall and give himself time to plan out his next move. Oikawa pokes him in the side, and when he turns his head to look, Oikawa shakes his head infinitesimally. Hajime feels himself relax a little. He has the go-ahead to turn the girl down.
That only makes things a little easier, really. Hajime is terrible at turning people down. He’s been confessed to three times, and each time, no matter how gentle and complimentary he’s tried to be, he’s somehow managed to make the girl cry. He’s pretty sure reducing someone to tears is not in-character for Oikawa. What can he say?
How does Oikawa usually turn girls down? Hajime thinks back on all the times he’s stood a few paces behind Oikawa as the other boy turned down a confession from a blushing girl. He remembers a charming but regretful smile, a gentle voice, and protestations that she’s really a very lovely girl, but he’s just too busy to have a girlfriend right now, what with sports and exams. Not that he doesn’t have enough time to come bother Hajime to play video games with him practically every night, and drag him out to dinner after practice, and spend countless hours with him sort-of doing homework, and now that Hajime thinks of it, that excuse is probably full of shit. Huh, why is Oikawa turning all these girls down, then? He feels something niggling at the edge of his mind, the uneasy feeling that he’s missing something, but he sets it aside for now. This is the excuse Oikawa uses, anyway, so Hajime can use it without feeling guilty.
How to phrase it, though? Hajime takes a detour to the part of his brain that’s memorized Oikawa’s speech patterns (and has been really overworked today) and comes up with “my heart belongs to volleyball.” It sounds just overdramatic enough to be something that Oikawa would think up and use in half-sincerity. Hajime feels a powerful stab of longing as he thinks about Oikawa’s heart- it’s hardly ever sincere, really, and it hates sincerely as often as it loves sincerely, but it’s big enough to love the whole world if its owner lets it. Hajime wishes…
He starts speaking without really thinking. “I’m sorry-” he pauses and checks the signature again- “Keiko-chan, you’re really cute, and I’m sure there’s a guy out there who’s just right for you, but my heart belongs to Iwa-chan.”
The world freezes.
Everything is silent and still, as if the universe is kindly putting itself on pause to give Hajime a moment or two to fully contemplate exactly how much he just fucked up.
Why didn’t he say volleyball? He meant to say volleyball, the word was queued up on the way out of his mouth, so how did Iwa-chan suddenly cut the line and jump in on its own? He feels hot and cold all over, like his body’s homeostasis has given up in disgust and quit trying to regulate his temperature.
Everything starts moving again, but excruciatingly slowly. He turns to Oikawa automatically and watches the other boy’s jaw drop in slow motion, naked shock showing on his face. Hajime’s own face is mirroring the motion, he can feel it, although he can’t control it.
Iwaizumi Hajime has lived a good life, but not a charmed life. He’s had his share of awful moments- watching Ushiwaka’s spike blast through his block for the final point of the game, falling out of a tree and breaking his arm when he was nine and then having to comfort Oikawa about it because for some reason Oikawa was the one out of the two of them who wouldn’t stop crying, waking up in his best friend’s body for no discernable reason. You know, the usual things. But out of all the terrible moments of his life, Hajime thinks that this has to be the worst.
It’s also probably the last, because in about five seconds, when he recovers from the shock, Oikawa is going to kill him.
Okay, okay. Hajime can salvage this. He’s not going to just sit back and calmly accept death. There has to be a way out of this. They can’t have been paused here for more than half a second. He can pretend his sentence wasn’t finished and keep going, if he can think of a suitable ending. Suddenly one hits him- it’s incredibly lame, but it’s better than accidentally confessing to Oikawa while being Oikawa. Does this even count as confessing to Oikawa? Is it making Oikawa confess to him? All of this is way too confusing. Hajime wishes he had some calculus or something to do instead. He’d take derivatives over this any day.
He turns back to Keiko, whose face shows the same developing shock as the rest of them- including the other girls behind her, shit- and continues the sentence like nothing happened. “And Mattsun, and Makki, and the rest of the Seijou volleyball team!” His voice, apparently trying to imitate Oikawa’s gentle confession-response tone, his usual bright cheeriness, and his nonchalant and breezy everything-is-going-exactly-to-plan manner that he uses every time nothing is going to plan, has bypassed them all and settled on manic instead. He continues anyway, trying to moderate his voice, keep it calmer and less high from strain. “We have a tournament coming up in less than a month- maybe you’ll come to support us in the stands?” he asks. It would be typical of Oikawa to try to keep his fangirls liking him, even while crushing their dreams. Oikawa hates being disliked off the court. “But since I have a team to captain, I really don’t have time for a girlfriend right now, I’m sorry.”
Keiko worries her lip between her teeth. “Are you sure you can’t just give it a try, Oikawa-san?” she asks hopefully.
Oh no, she’s one of the persistent ones. Hajime thinks The longer this goes on, the bigger a chance I have of fucking up, and then remembers that he probably can’t actually make this any worse than it already is short of kissing Oikawa in the middle of the hallway. He takes a deep breath and replies, trying to let the little voice in the back of his mind that always sounds like Oikawa have control of his tongue. “I’m sorry, Keiko-chan, but I really can’t. My team is counting on me to lead them to victory. If I tried to be your boyfriend and their captain, I’d be a terrible captain and a terrible boyfriend. There’s just not enough of me to give both of you the attention you deserve.” He shrugs in what he hopes is an endearing way, but as he’s lowering his shoulders again he’s thrown off-balance by a palm slamming into the back of his head. The squawk he makes as he stumbles forward a few steps luckily sounds exactly like one of Oikawa’s.
“Hey, asshole, don’t say silly shit like that,” says Oikawa, glaring at him pointedly. “You wouldn’t be terrible. You’d make a great boyfriend. Much better than me, anyway. You actually know how to treat a lady. I’m just uncultured and dense.”
Those are fighting words. Hajime remembers that he may have just made half a dozen fangirls believe that Oikawa is in love with him and then compounded the error by calling Oikawa a terrible boyfriend (it isn’t like he meant that Oikawa would be a terrible boyfriend in general, just if he tried to be one when he was busy, which is demonstrably true, but maybe he shouldn’t have used those words in that order), but that doesn’t mean Oikawa has to respond by insulting Hajime’s dating abilities. Also, he’s slipping out of character- Hajime is fairly certain he’s never used the word “silly” in his entire life thus far. And it turns out that being hit in the back of the head hurts a lot more than Hajime thinks it does when he does it to Oikawa. Maybe Oikawa just doesn’t know Hajime’s own strength yet. Still, he’s in pain and pissed off, and that means it’s time to fight back.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Iwa-chan,” he responds, clapping Oikawa on the back in what looks like a friendly manner but is actually calculated to knock the wind out of him. Unfortunately, it barely budges Oikawa- he just rocks forward and back a little on his feet and raises a bushy eyebrow at Hajime. Hajime misses his own biceps, goddammit. “You’d be a wonderful boyfriend. I’m sure you’d give your girlfriend all the attention and love in the world, unlike me. I pretty much ignore all my girlfriends because volleyball is way more interesting to me than human affection.” He’s aware that he doesn’t sound much like Oikawa at this point, but who even cares? Oikawa broke character first, so that means he can’t get mad at Hajime for doing it too. Or, well, he can’t get any madder at Hajime than he already is.
Oikawa gasps a little in outraged horror. “Oikawa, no, don’t say things like that about yourself!” He puts a little vicious emphasis on the yourself, but Oikawa started it, so Hajime thinks he can safely ignore the reprimand. “You’re always so kind to your huge and well-deserved fanclub, I’m sure you’d be just as kind to any girlfriend you had!”
“Oh, the fanclub’s not that well-deserved, they just don’t know what a jerk I am to the people who actually know me… now you, on the other hand, Iwa-chan, you don’t get nearly enough attention from anyone, considering how beautiful you are inside and out!” Hajime’s totally not saying these things just so he can have the mental imprint of Oikawa’s voice praising him. What an insane accusation.
“We both know you’re the beautiful one here, and so does everyone else with eyes, dumbass,” says Oikawa, gesturing at Hajime’s current body. “Keiko-chan would be lucky to have you.”
“Too bad you got there first, ‘Iwa-chan’,” says Keiko, who is… still here. Right. Shit. Hajime really needs to stop getting so into it with Oikawa that he completely forgets anyone else is in the room, no matter how magnetic the other boy happens to be. He turns back to face Keiko, noticing that somehow he’d managed to turn toward Oikawa and lean in towards him at some point during their argument. Keiko’s lips have gone thin and her voice is like ice.
“W- what?” Oikawa stammers, seemingly actually taken by surprise. “N-no, I… that’s not what I… we’re…” His silver tongue has entirely deserted him. Watching this happen in literally any other situation would be one of the funniest moments of Hajime’s life. In this one, sadly, it just compounds his embarrassment. He’s pretty sure that both of them are cherry red by this point.
“Whatever,” says Keiko, and rolls her eyes. Her face is stony, but Hajime thinks he can see tears beading at the corners of her eyes- goddammit, every single time. “Thanks anyway, Oikawa-san,” she says, directing her gaze to Hajime’s face. “I’ll just let you and ‘Iwa-chan’ get on with it, then, shall I?” She plucks the confession letter delicately out of his grasp, turns, and walks away, her shoulders beginning to shake as soon as she’s more than a few feet away from the two of them.
“Awww, Keiko-chan, I did warn you,” says another girl as the group moves down the hallway, voices fading away.
“I know,” Keiko says, her voice already losing some of its bitter facade and sounding choked with tears. “I just didn’t think they were going to rub it in like that…”
Someone throws a reassuring arm around Keiko’s shoulders and someone else hands her a tissue as the group proceeds out of sight. Oikawa and Hajime watch them go for a few seconds until they turn a corner and disappear. Then Oikawa looks at Hajime and raises an eyebrow higher than Hajime has ever seen one of his eyebrows go.
“Um,” Hajime says, eloquently.
“Iwa-chan, what the fuck was that.” It’s not even a question.
“I’m sorry,” he says desperately. He feels weird doing it, because apologizing isn’t something he does to Oikawa, but he’s pretty sure that this is something Oikawa could never accept his brushing off like he usually does on the rare occasions Hajime makes mistakes. (Well, rarer than the dozens of times a day that Oikawa makes mistakes, anyway.)
“‘My heart belongs to Iwa-chan,’” Oikawa says, in a mockery of his own voice, and his eyes narrow. “Why would you say something like that?”
“I don’t know,” Hajime moans desperately. “I’m terrible at responding to confessions, and I was just trying to talk like you, and you say ‘Iwa-chan’ like thirty times a second so the words just came out! I meant to say volleyball, which would have actually made sense because you’re obsessed with it!”
Oikawa doesn’t look convinced for some reason. His green eyes are radiating suspicion, with a core of something else behind it. “Are you sure there wasn’t any other reason for it, Iwa-chan?” he asks, his voice dropping in volume.
Hajime feels fear send a lightning bolt through his entire body, leaving behind an unpleasant tingling and a ringing in his ears. Shit, shit, shitshitshitshitshit. How could he have been such an idiot? He’s suddenly very conscious of how quiet and empty the hallway is- everyone has cleared out for lunch, apparently. The only things in the world are him, Oikawa, and the question spiraling out in the air that he’s been trying to keep Oikawa from asking for months. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, dumbass,” he denies on reflex, but it doesn’t sound all that convincing.
Oikawa’s eyes are still boring straight into his with a piercing question at their center. Hajime looks down, his eyes focusing on Oikawa’s shoulder- he can’t take this, he’s sure the truth is written in his eyes as plainly as if he’d scrawled it there himself. He was never good at facades. That’s Oikawa’s job. Hajime tears down Oikawa’s walls, he doesn’t know how to put any up.
“You know,” Oikawa says, in a tone that aims for casual and misses by a hundred miles. “Feelings. For… me.” Hajime doesn’t remember the last time Oikawa sounded this awkward. Is he really that disgusted by the very idea of Hajime liking him? Is this what would happen to their friendship if he said yes? If so, Hajime’s glad he’s been hiding from Oikawa for all this time.
“You are so full of yourself, thinking everyone likes you,” he blusters. “When are you going to learn that you’re not that irresistible? Maybe it works on people who just see you and don’t understand how shitty you are on the inside, but I know you.” He didn’t technically lie, he comforts himself. He didn’t say yes, but he also didn’t say no.
Hajime darts a glance back at Oikawa’s face. His brow contorts for a second, like he’s thinking, but then the wrinkles smooth away. “Oh, okay,” he says, still quiet. Then, so suddenly that Hajime has no time to react, Oikawa’s fist goes flying, thumping Hajime in the chest. He huffs out a startled breath. Oikawa actually smiles at that, and lets out an honest-to-god giggle. “You really are dense, Iwa-chan.”
Hajime can’t actually deny that this time. He just shrugs.
Oikawa punches him one more time, lighter this time. “That’s for being an idiot. And you’re buying me milk bread for a week. All the milk bread I want.”
“I can already feel my wallet crying,” says Hajime, but he doesn’t decline. “I’m not buying you all the milk bread you want, though. I think if you ate that much you’d have to roll yourself down the corridor.”
“Iwa-chan, you’re cruel,” pouts Oikawa. “I’m making you buy double for that. Now come on, let’s eat, I’m starving.”
Hajime follows him, rolling his eyes. Oikawa’s probably going to completely deplete his cash supply, but if it means they can move on and forget this ever happened… Well, he’d do just about anything for that.
I hope you enjoyed! I SWEAR the next chapter won't take 3 weeks to come out, either! I have a couple links to share with you this time around:
First, my tumblr, as always, is oikawatooruinedmylife for questions, comments, yelling at me about my update schedule, whatever you want.
Second, to celebrate my most recent follower milestone I'm doing a fic giveaway! Basically, if you want to give me any prompt you want and have me write 1000+ words about it, now is your chance!
Finally, I changed the name of my Twitter so it's not horrendously embarrassing so I'm now letting people follow it- you can find me at @iwachansbiceps now!
All right, I think that's all for today- thank you so much for reading, you guys are amazing!
P. S. My favorite comment about this chapter this far has been Theresa's comment on the ending scene: "iwa’s like nAH I DON’T LIKE YOU NOP EEE I DO NOT AT ALL BYE"
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
In which Hajime and Oikawa each try a new thing.
LOOK IT IS I I HAVE RETURNED FROM THE DEAD (no actually I've returned from college and finals and now have time to write)
Sorry this took so long, everyone, but at least I have 5k for you all! I hope you enjoy!
Hajime knows he said he’d do just about anything to get Oikawa to forget his accidental almost-confession, but he didn’t expect Oikawa to pull Hajime’s wallet out of his bag when they got to the window at the lunch counter and proceed to order every single milk bread that the cafeteria had remaining. He didn’t even know that one student was allowed to buy out all the milk bread, honestly. He’s sorry he ever had to learn.
“You have to carry some, Iwa-chan,” says Oikawa, poking him.
“I’m not carrying your food for you, dumbass,” snaps Hajime. He’s not in the mood for this crap- he’s still mourning the almost three thousand yen that Oikawa just handed over to the astonished cafeteria worker and that was going to help buy him new volleyball shoes.
“Everyone knows I’m the one who likes milk bread, not you,” Oikawa replies smoothly. “If you didn’t have at least some of it, it’d look suspicious… Of course, you’d be the last person to ever make us look suspicious, wouldn’t you?” He narrows his eyes at Hajime and Hajime feels a chill go down his spine. He can almost see the thought bubble over Oikawa’s head containing the words “My heart belongs to Iwa-chan”. He reaches over and grabs a few milk breads from the top of Oikawa’s enormous pile. Oikawa grins smugly.
When they reach their usual lunch spot on the roof, it’s empty; that's unsurprising, as the two of them have more or less claimed this spot as their own over the years. The wind is blowing fairly hard today- Hajime can feel it ruffling his hair’s still-perfect waves, moving them out of formation a little. He relishes in the sensation; his hair has always been too short to really feel the wind. He catches Oikawa looking at him with a slightly worried glance, though; maybe he’s irritated by the fact that the breeze is messing up his hair. He wouldn’t put it past Oikawa to worry about that, honestly.
He dumps his load of milk breads on Oikawa’s lap and rummages in his bag for his bento. “Hey, can I have yours too?” he asks, after opening the lid of the lunch Oikawa put together last night and seeing altogether too many tomatoes. The box Hajime was actually supposed to have for lunch today seems much more appetizing.
“If you eat too much you’ll get fat, Iwa-chan,” says Oikawa idly, ripping open the wrapper of the first milk bread. (Their cafeteria sells the packaged kind with custard inside, Oikawa’s ultimate favorite.) He hands over the bento anyway.
“Says the guy who bought thirty packages’ worth of pure starch and sugar,” retorts Hajime. He opens his own bento and is much more pleased with the contents. “You better take care of my body right for however long you have it, dumbass. My metabolism isn’t as fast as yours.”
“Don’t worry, Iwa-chan,” says Oikawa, waving his hand elegantly in the air. Hajime thinks it’s probably the first time that a gesture his own body made could ever have been classified as elegant. There’s some sort of magic in Oikawa, something that can take the most mundane gestures and make them look special simply by performing them. Hajime guesses that that magic is somewhere in his soul instead of just his body, judging by recent events. He’s pretty sure that he couldn’t make any of his own hand gestures look anywhere near that pretty even with the aid of Oikawa’s long, delicate fingers. He stares for a minute at said fingers- he’s touched them so many times, clasped them in his own, watched them as Oikawa sets a ball perfectly. He knows them as well as his own. But the observation is different when he can manipulate them, clenching them into a fist and watching the knuckles bulge. He takes time to observe them, stretching and wiggling the fingers idly, cataloguing every new bruise and scrape that’s collected since the last time he looked- Oikawa isn’t nearly as careful with his hands as he should be. He can feel a few of the joints protesting weakly, and he wonders if Oikawa strained one of his fingers without telling anyone, again, because for some reason he seems to think that he’s indestructible and all pain is just an illusion meant to discourage lesser men-
He’s thrown out of his reverie by an outraged squawk by Oikawa. Hajime never uses his voice in that high a register, so Oikawa’s voice cracks in the middle of the squawk. Hajime snorts and then looks up to see what the trouble is. Oikawa is holding a piece of milk bread with a bite taken out of it and looking at it like it’s done him a great personal wrong.
“What’s wrong?” Hajime asks.
“It tastes wrong, Iwa-chan! It doesn’t taste like milk bread! It’s all sweet and gross!” Oikawa pouts, an expression that was never meant for Hajime’s face. It somehow just makes him look murderous.
“Milk bread is always sweet and gross,” says Hajime. He’s never understood the appeal of its overabundance of sugar and the cloying custard in the middle. He’s always just assumed Oikawa can handle it because it seems like a perfect match for his personality.
Oikawa’s face falls even farther. “We must have switched taste buds… This is a tragedy! How am I going to enjoy all this-” he gestures at the piles of milk bread still covering his lap- “if I don’t even want it anymore?”
Something occurs to Hajime. “Let me try one, then.” He reaches over to the pile and snatches one from the top.
“Hey, those are mine!” Oikawa protests.
“Shut up, you just said you didn’t want them. I paid for them, anyway.” Hajime pulls off the wrapper and takes a bite.
It’s utter bliss. Somehow everything that tasted cloying to him is just right, light and sweet, with the thick custard balancing the fluffy bread perfectly. He gasps in surprise, because how could cheap, shitty, pre-packaged food taste this good? He’s never tasted anything like this before in his life. “Oh my god,” he says, and his voice trembles just a little. “Holy shit. This is so good.”
He takes another bite, thinking it must have been a fluke, but no. This new bite has even more custard in it, since he’s past the edge, and the ratio is even more divine this time. Hajime moans, and it’s honestly the most sexual sound he’s made in his life when not actively turned on. (He thinks briefly that Oikawa’s voice was made for moaning, but even the thought of his insanely attractive best friend can’t compete with what he’s tasting right now. It’s that good, okay?)
He closes his eyes in pure rapture for a minute while he takes his third bite, and when he opens them again he expects for a second to see the painfully blue skies and fluffy white clouds of everyone’s generic conception of heaven. Instead, what he sees is just the view of the rest of the roof, and when he turns his head, Oikawa looking determinedly away from him. He appears to be stacking the remaining packages of milk bread in some pyramid formation on his lap, and he’s biting his tongue in evident concentration. Hajime notices a deep red flush creeping onto Oikawa’s cheeks and his neck and wonders what that’s about, but he has bigger concerns. Like this insanely delicious food. He takes a fourth bite, and with his mouth still full, asks “Does this taste like this to you all the time?”
Oikawa glances over at him, and Hajime can see the blush even more clearly. Hajime had thought his skin was too dark for a blush to show up too brightly, but he’s being proven wrong. “Probably?” he says, sounding slightly strangled. “I mean, I don’t know what it tastes like to you…”
“I will never mock you for eating one of these again. I apologize for everything mean I ever said about them,” Hajime says fervently. It may be the most sincere he’s ever sounded when apologizing to Oikawa. He takes a fifth bite and groans again in pure pleasure. He swears he sees Oikawa wince out of the corner of his eye. The sixth bite is the final one- why are these things so small, why couldn’t they be the size of his head, he’s pretty sure he’d never get tired of eating them- and he pops it into his mouth whole, chewing a few times to make sure his entire mouth gets the pleasure of this experience.
“Wow, Iwa-chan apologizing for once,” Oikawa says, oddly breathy, and starts reshuffling the milk bread packages on his lap again, apparently trying to form a pyramid over his crotch. “I told you I wasn’t overreacting and they really were that delicious.”
“Shut up,” Hajime says on autopilot. There’s still some of the custard left on his fingers- he licks it off finger by finger, humming contentedly at the sweetness. He turns his head when Oikawa doesn’t reply after a little while to find Oikawa staring at Hajime's mouth, his eyes wide. “What, are you jealous or something?” he asks. “We can go out for agedashi tofu tonight if you want.”
Oikawa sticks his tongue out a little at the thought. “Eww.” For some reason Oikawa has never been a fan of Hajime’s favorite food. “It’s so bland, it’s gross! It has no flavor… I guess it fits you and your tasteless personality.”
“Seriously? I’m trying to do you a favor, asshole! I probably won’t even like it in this body! Don’t just ‘ew’ me!”
Oikawa wrinkles his nose, considering. “So gallant, Iwa-chan,” he says mockingly. “Yeah, sure, we can go. But you’re paying. You still owe me.”
“I just bought you like three thousand yen of milk bread, Assikawa. Are you serious?”
“You’re eating all of it, so it doesn’t count,” Oikawa retorts. Hajime rolls his eyes. He can already tell he’s not going to win this battle. Oh well, at least he can use the promise of dinner as an excuse to take back the rest of the milk bread.
“Speaking of that, give me yours,” he says, snatching Oikawa’s half-eaten milk bread from the top of his pyramid.
“Hey, I was eating that,” Oikawa whines.
“It’d be a waste if I let you finish it when you don’t even like it,” argues Hajime. “I’ll finish it for you.”
“You say that like I should be grateful,” grumbles Oikawa as Hajime bites into it.
“Awwww, look, an indirect kiss, how romantic,” says another voice. Hajime looks up to see Hanamaki and Matsukawa sitting down next to them and starting to unwrap their bentos. He feels a stab of panic- he and Oikawa were using their real names, what if Hanamaki and Matsukawa heard, how long have they been here?- but fights it down.
“Shut up, M-Hanamaki,” says Oikawa from next to him.
“And hello to you too,” replies Hanamaki.
“Nice hair, Tooru,” says Matsukawa slyly.
“Makki, you told him about that?” Hajime says in his best whine. What he really wants to do is punch Hanamaki in the face- if he told Matsukawa, he probably told the entire team, and Hajime is not in the mood to be teased about this for the rest of his natural life. But he feels like whining is more of an Oikawa response. Whining is an Oikawa response to everything, really.
“It was the best thing I’ve seen all day, you can’t expect me to keep it to myself,” says Hanamaki. Hajime wants to scream. “Anyway, where have you been, Iwaizumi? I’ve been looking for you for like fifteen minutes. Did you forget?”
Oikawa looks completely blank. “Forget what?” he asks.
“You promised me an arm-wrestling rematch today!”
Hajime feels his heart sink down through his chest, out of his body, through the roof, and down through the school, where it comes to rest somewhere around the sub-basement level. He remembers now, Hanamaki has been bugging him for a rematch ever since their last match three weeks ago, where Hajime won in a fairly humiliating four seconds flat. Hajime has had to put up with a barrage of “come on, it was an off day” and “even the best have to fall sometime” for far too long for him to be able to stand it. Sometimes he wonders if Oikawa has been giving Hanamaki lessons on how to be persistently annoying in the worst possible way or if Hanamaki learned through observation and this is a calculated tactic that he knows will piss Hajime off. He eventually gave in and promised a rematch just so Hanamaki could finally learn his place and stop attempting to beat the unbeatable, but he completely forgot that that was scheduled for today.
He sees a smirk start growing on Oikawa’s face, and he’s terrified, because the memory of “my heart belongs to Iwa-chan” is now burning fresh in his mind and it probably is in Oikawa’s too. He knows how Oikawa thinks, and he’s pretty sure that making Hajime lose at arm-wrestling would be a better revenge for him than all the milk bread in the world. His fears are confirmed when Oikawa says “yeah, sure, but I don’t know, I’m not feeling too strong today… You might actually win, Hanamaki…”
Hajime takes a deep breath, trying to capture the tone Oikawa uses to address the team before a match; it’s a reassurance and a reaffirmation on the surface, but you can hear the threat underneath like a velvet-sheathed blade. It’s not as if the threat is ever carried out when they do lose, but hearing a voice as scary as that (not that Hajime finds it scary, no way, he could never find anything that idiot does to be in any way intimidating) is definitely a motivating factor. He finds the tone seared into his memory and does his best to match it. “You’ll win, Iwa-chan. I believe in you.”
For once, his imitation is dead-on. Oikawa’s eyes widen a little, and he honest-to-god raises his hand to his face and salutes. “Will do, captain.”
“Come on, let’s go back to your classroom,” says Matsukawa. “We need to use the desks.”
Hajime closes his and Oikawa’s uneaten bentos (life is short, eat dessert first, he justifies to himself, sounding like a motivational poster for middle-aged women) and stands up, reaching out a hand automatically to help Oikawa up. The other boy doesn’t take it, instead turning to face the wall while he stands up and adjusts his pants. The milk bread packages shower to the ground, seemingly forgotten- Hajime wonders how much he intimidated Oikawa if it made him forget about what was in his lap. “Iwa-chan, you dropped my milk bread,” he whines. “It’s gonna get contaminated.”
“It’s still packaged, Idiotkawa,” Oikawa answers as he leans down to pick some of it up again. Hajime doesn’t actually remember using that particular insult before on Oikawa- he’ll have to add it to his repertoire, it’s not half-bad. “That’s what you get for making me carry your shit, anyway.”
“Any real friend would carry anything I asked them to…” Hajime mutters. “You’re so cruel, Iwa-chan.” He’s actually getting pretty satisfied with his Oikawa impersonation- the stock phrases are flowing out of his mouth even more naturally than they were.
“And you’re a self-absorbed asshole, what else is new?” Hajime suddenly feels just a tiny stab of guilt, hearing Oikawa say things like that about himself. Maybe Oikawa’s not entirely a self-absorbed asshole, Hajime admits. Not that he’d ever say that to Oikawa; the other boy would take that as a license to be even more self-absorbed than ever.
He presses his hand to his heart theatrically and proclaims “Iwa-chan, you wound me.”
“Stop flirting and hurry up,” says Hanamaki. “Lunch period isn’t that long, you know.”
“It’s not a problem, we’ll have time,” says Oikawa confidently. “How long did you last last time? Six seconds, right?”
“Four,” mutters Hanamaki sullenly. “But I’ve changed since then, all right? You’re going down this time, I swear.”
“We’ll see,” says Oikawa, a cocky smirk on his face. It’s not quite a Hajime expression, but it’s so brilliantly calculated to irritate his opponent that Hajime’s willing to let it slide. He wants Hanamaki fired up for this- it’s when he loses his usual composure that he makes less of a challenge.
Hanamaki and Matsukawa disappear into the stairwell after that, calling over their shoulders that they’ll meet Hajime and Oikawa in the classroom. Hajime stays behind to help Oikawa pick up the milk bread, because a) he’s pretty much a pushover and b) he’s probably going to end up eating most of this milk bread anyway. Also, c) he has something he needs to communicate to Oikawa and make expressly clear.
“Oh, by the way,” he says casually.
Oikawa turns to him. “Hmm?”
“If you lose…” the casual tone vanishes, replaced by pure ice. “I will completely give up trying to switch back and you can be me forever and see how you like it.” The words fire out low and rapid like bullets.
Oikawa pales, the blood rushing from his extremities. “Iwa-chan, you would never…” he says in a voice filled with pure horror.
Hajime raises an eyebrow. “You don’t believe me? Lose and find out.”
Oikawa nods and doesn’t say anything more. Hajime doesn’t think he’s ever seen himself that pale before. He can’t help smirking a little. Oikawa won’t dare to lose now.
Well, he won’t lose on purpose, Hajime amends to himself as the two of them meet Matsukawa and Hanamaki in their classroom, dropping their milk bread haul on a random desk. But will he lose by accident? Arm-wrestling takes strategy, as much as Oikawa rolls his eyes and claims that it’s just a contest of brute force made for cavemen and that someone as refined and intelligent as he is should stick to contests in which he has a chance to show off his true talents, which are much more blah blah blah and by this point Hajime has usually completely stopped listening. Oikawa has no idea how to actually win an arm-wrestling match- he probably just thinks you push really hard, the idiot. There are techniques that make it easier, techniques that Hajime bets Oikawa has never heard of. And besides that, there’s the whole mental game that he and Hanamaki are both pros at.
Hajime pulls Oikawa aside as Matsukawa and Hanamaki drag a desk out into the front of the room. “Hey, listen,” he hisses roughly into his ear. “As soon as you start, pull his hand towards you and try to move your grip up as much as you can. It’ll give you more leverage. When you’re ready to finish him off, rotate your body so you’re facing the direction you want your arm to go. And don’t talk like you’re gonna lose, dumbass. It’ll just make him cockier. Put everything you’ve got into this.”
Oikawa blinks a few times, trying to absorb the information. “Iwa-chan, I-” he says, sounding oddly… nervous. Hajime wonders if he maybe went a little overboard by threatening not to let them switch back. But, well, Oikawa’s never folded under pressure before. And a lot of Hajime’s pride is riding on this match, so no threat is too great.
Hajime claps Oikawa sharply on the shoulder, using only a little less force than he would usually use to punch him. “When have you ever lost before?” he says, in case Hanamaki and Matsukawa are listening in. Oikawa’s lost at arm wrestling pretty much every time he’s tried, but the sentiment still holds. When the stakes are high, Oikawa comes through. “I’ve never seen you back down from a challenge, Iwa-chan,” he continues. “You’ll win, just like you always do.” He smiles a little, trying to reassure Oikawa.
“Yeah, I’ve got this,” says Oikawa, sounding not quite as confident as his words would indicate. His tone gets steadier as he goes along, though. “I’ll kick Hanamaki’s ass, just like usual. What else would you think is gonna happen, Shittykawa?”
“Heyyy, I was just trying to give you encouraging words before your match,” Hajime pouts. “Doesn’t it boost your morale?”
“Not even a little bit,” says Oikawa as he walks toward the table, but Hajime knows that’s as much of a lie as half the things they’ve said in public today have been. He can tell from the much straighter line of Oikawa’s back as he takes his position across from Hanamaki and shakes hands with him, their eyes locking in a staring match. Hajime bets Oikawa won’t be the one to blink first.
The two grab each others’ hands and lean forward across the desk, eyes still glued to each other. Oikawa’s posture isn’t that bad, Hajime decides- he himself would be a lot better, obviously, but Oikawa doesn’t look like as much of an amateur as he actually is. Matsukawa, the referee as usual, positions himself on one of the sides of the desk, where he can watch both of them. Hajime stands across from Matsukawa; he wants a good view of the action. He realizes, as Matsukawa counts down, that he’s unconsciously crossing his fingers, and feels briefly six years old. The tension in the room is so thick that Hajime can almost taste it.
“Go!” Matsukawa shouts, and the match begins. For a heartstopping second, Hajime thinks it’s about to end instantly- Hanamaki begins with a shove that pushes Oikawa’s arm almost halfway down before Oikawa manages to stop it and push back.
“Come on, Iwa-chan,” Hajime mutters from between clenched teeth. “Come on, you can do it…” Oikawa is trying to follow his instructions, yanking his and Hanamaki’s clenched hands closer to him as he tries to force their arms back up. He hasn’t lost eye contact with Hanamaki, either, and his glare is as fierce as any Hajime has ever been able to produce. Hajime can feel his heart beating somewhere in his throat- he guesses it returned from the sub-basement just in time. There’s a chance, he thinks wildly. There’s still a chance that Oikawa’s going to win this.
Slowly, in short jerks, their arms creep back up until they’re vertical again. Oikawa narrows his eyes as he keeps staring at Hanamaki, clearly fighting the urge to blink. Hanamaki looks steady, and Hajime wonders if Oikawa’s going to lose this secondary contest. It’s not like the staring match actually affects the outcome of the arm-wrestling match, but winning that would give Hanamaki an extra burst of confidence and shake Oikawa’s even more. This is a game of mental dominance as much as it is physical dominance. “You can do it, Iwa-chan,” says Hajime almost desperately, somehow managing to clench his fists while still crossing his fingers. He’s bouncing on his toes now, his whole body one nervous fidget.
Oikawa looks like he’s about to blink, and Hajime is ready to groan in defeat and watch Hanamaki’s victory surge of strength force Oikawa’s hand down to the table, but then Oikawa suddenly purses his lips and blows a puff of air across the table at Hanamaki. Hanamaki flinches and blinks as the rush of air hits his face, and Oikawa crows in victory. Hajime can’t help letting out a soft “yesss!”
“Hey, that’s not fair,” complains Hanamaki.
“Just because you didn’t think of it doesn’t mean it’s not fair,” responds Oikawa, voice sounding a little strained as he begins to force Hanamaki’s hand down.
“Back me up here, Issei!” Hanamaki protests, looking at the other boy’s face and finally breaking eye contact for good. Oikawa looks away too, down at his own bicep, which is flexing impressively. Hajime guesses it must be fun for Oikawa to be able to see that obvious a physical reaction from his own efforts and that’s why he’s looking- it’s not that Oikawa’s not muscled, but he isn’t ripped like Hajime is.
Matsukawa just shrugs. “It’s not like it’s affecting the actual arm-wrestling,” he says. “You can blow air back at him if you want to.” Hanamaki does, not that it helps, since Oikawa’s gaze is fixed on his straining muscles at the moment. Hajime snorts. He’s pretty sure that that was an unfair move, but it gave them the advantage, so he doesn’t actually give a shit right now.
The two struggle for another minute more, gaining and losing a few degrees at a time, with Hajime chanting a litany of “come on come on Iwa-chan let’s go you can do it come on” half-under his breath and shaking his clenched fists nervously. But then, all at once, Oikawa swivels his body, putting all his shoulder strength into the battle, and shoves Hanamaki’s arm down on the desk so hard that the whole desk vibrates. It’s over. They’ve won.
Oikawa’s roar of victory is matched in volume by Hajime’s excited shout. Out of the corner of his eye he thinks he sees some classmates back early from lunch jump and hastily back out of the classroom, but he doesn’t really care. They really did it, they really won, and victory tastes sweeter than milk bread. Practically without knowing what he’s doing, he grabs Oikawa in a bear hug around the waist, lifts him up, and spins him around. Oikawa’s arms are raised in pure exhilaration, but he wraps his legs around Hajime’s waist to make sure he doesn’t fall. They’re spinning and laughing, awash in the glow of victory, and for a minute everything is perfect. Well, almost perfect- Hajime just wishes he could kiss Oikawa right now…
“You don’t have to rub it in that much,” says Hanamaki bitterly from his position at the desk. Hajime abruptly stops their spin, reality sinking in a little. Maybe it’s not quite fair play to brag this much. Oikawa disentangles his legs from around Hajime and Hajime sets him down gently.
“That was probably the gayest thing I’ve ever seen you two do,” says Matsukawa, on the verge of laughter.
“‘Gay’ isn’t an insult, Mattsun,” says Hajime lightly, still too high on success to be really concerned by the teasing. Next to him, though, he sees Oikawa stiffen suddenly.
“It’s not an insult, it’s a descriptor,” responds Matsukawa. “That spin just now was objectively extremely gay. He practically jumped into your arms.”
“We’re not judging, it was really romantic,” says Hanamaki. “Are we invited to the wedding?”
“There isn’t going to be a wedding, assholes,” snaps Oikawa, tone full of rage and something else Hajime can’t figure out. “We’re not together! I’m straight, okay? Really, really straight,” he adds, and is that bitterness in his voice? He must have been affected by the scene in the hallway earlier more than Hajime had thought, if the very idea of the two of them being together disgusts him enough for him to be this vehement. Hajime guesses he made the right decision by not telling Oikawa the truth. He never wants this bitterness directed at him. He resolves again to keep this stupid crush under wraps and stay content with friendship, no matter how much it burns.
This is also really awkward, he realizes, because Oikawa just told their two best friends that Hajime is straight, and even if he weren’t so attracted to Oikawa that still would not be the truth. Hanamaki and Matsukawa are probably going to mock him to hell and back for this vehement defense of his nonexistent heterosexuality when he comes out to them. Oh well, it’s not like they don’t already mock him for literally everything he ever does. What’s going to be even more awkward is coming out to Oikawa and then dodging the minefield of are-you-attracted-to-me that he’s pretty sure will spring up in his path a second time as soon as he tells him. Maybe that can wait.
“Whoa, okay,” says Matsukawa, raising his hands in a placating gesture. “If you really want us to stop pointing out the obvious homoerotic tension between you and your setter, we can stop.”
“You better,” says Oikawa, that undertone of rage and bitterness and something else still prominent; Hajime thinks the other thing might be frustration. “Nothing is ever going to happen between us, okay?” Hajime flinches just the tiniest bit at that. It’s not like he seriously thought Oikawa would react a different way to any confession, but it still hurts to hear his hopes ripped apart so roughly.
“Whatever you say, ace,” shrugs Hanamaki. He holds out his hand for Oikawa to shake, and Oikawa jerks it up and down stiffly a few times. “Good match, even with that open and disgusting cheating.”
“Oh, shut up,” says Oikawa. “Just go back to your classrooms. Lunch is going to end soon.”
Matsukawa and Hanamaki head back to their own classes with a wave as Oikawa and Hajime shove the desk back into place.
“Thanks for, you know, winning,” says Hajime softly over the screeching of the desk’s legs on the floor.
“Did you ever seriously doubt me, Iwa-chan? I'm hurt,” says Oikawa, sounding almost like his usual overdramatic self.
“Of course I did. You almost sabotaged me,” returns Hajime.
“I would never really do that. I couldn’t hurt your stupid manly pride. You might not survive it.”
Hajime snorts. “I would survive it, but you might not.”
“Iwa-chan, so violent…”
By the time class starts, Oikawa is almost back to normal, but as Hajime sneaks glances at him, he can see that there’s still something dark in his expression. As he takes notes, he presses so roughly that the pen almost rips through the paper. He looks like he wants to punch something- Hajime wonders what, or who. He briefly considers bringing it up again before practice, trying to figure out exactly why Oikawa is still so furious about the very idea of the two of them dating. But no, he decides as he watches Oikawa grip his pen, knuckles white. Maybe some things should stay buried.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
In which volleyball happens, much to Hajime's extreme distress.
*shows up three months late with Starbucks*
*obligatory 8 million apologies for having terrible writer's block and being terrible with deadlines*
*drops chapter on ground*
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hajime spends a lot of his time worrying about Oikawa that afternoon- he still doesn’t seem to have recovered after his vehement denial that anything could ever happen between the two of them, and Hajime still doesn’t really understand what’s wrong. It makes him nervous, because he’s supposed to understand Oikawa. He’s the one who peels off Oikawa’s masks and looks under them, seeing to the heart of the problem. But he just can’t fucking see- it’s like Oikawa, who’s so easily readable most of the time, is suddenly written in a different language, like Russian or something. It’s frustrating, because this isn’t how they’re supposed to work.
Luckily, around half an hour he abruptly stops worrying about Oikawa’s mood. Unluckily, this is because he’s suddenly remembered a way bigger thing to worry about. Namely, practice. It’s rushing towards them along with the end of the day, at a seemingly unfair speed, and as far as Hajime can tell he hasn’t magically manifested the ability to set like Oikawa while sitting at his desk worrying. It’s not like he’s never set the ball before in his life, but he specialized very early on- by the time he entered middle school he already knew he wanted to be a spiker, and his coaches agreed and had him stop bothering with setting practice before the end of his first year, even. Now, he did do a lot of setting practice before then, but he’s pretty sure that the intervening five years during which Oikawa has lived, breathed, eaten, and slept tossing while he’s barely thought about it has left a slight gap in their abilities. ...He’s pretty fucked.
Okay, he’s not going to panic over this. It’s not the end of the world. They can fake their way through practice, probably, right? Setting can’t be that hard. (That’s a lie and he knows it, he’s seen Oikawa struggle over setting for years, he knows exactly how hard it is, but lying to himself is probably healthy in a situation like this.) Despite his rationalizations, though, the panic bubbles up higher and higher in his stomach the closer they get to practice time, and by the time class ends he feels like that orange-haired kid from Karasuno who kept having to go to the bathroom before their practice match. He can only hope that today’s practice won’t be as much of a disaster as the first set of that match was for the orange kid.
Considering Oikawa’s mood during class, Hajime doesn’t expect him to lay a comforting hand on his shoulder as the two of them head out to help clean up the school before practice. Of course, the words he actually says are a bit more in line with what Hajime would expect- “What’s wrong, Iwa-chan? Scared you can’t fill my shoes?”
He is, obviously, but there’s no way he’s gonna admit it when Oikawa phrases it like that.
“You wish, dumbass,” he shoots back. “I’ve got this.”
Weirdly, saying that makes it feel slightly more true. He wonders for a second if Oikawa’s actually antagonizing him to make him deny it and feel better. Does Oikawa’s annoying, scheming little brain actually think things through that well? When Oikawa pats him on the shoulder and says “I know you do,” he starts to suspect that it does. Then Oikawa continues, “Of course, there’s no way you can think through your sets as well as me, seeing as you don’t have a brain and all, but you can borrow a couple of my brain cells and fake it for long enough.”
Hajime changes his mind. Oikawa’s not trying to help him- Oikawa, just like always, is his own personal demon sent to be as annoying as physically possible at all times. He shoves Oikawa hard in the side, leading to a stumble, a distinctly un-Hajime-like squeal, and an “Ow, Iwa-chan, I’m sorry you can’t handle the truth, but do you have to take it out on me, you big meanie?”
“Shut up,” he growls in response. “Would it kill you to stop insulting my intelligence?”
Oikawa puts his finger on his chin in a thinking pose, like he’s actually considering it, that bastard. “It’s not like you have any to insult…”
Hajime glowers at him. “Okay, fine. Let me phrase it better. I will kill you if you don’t stop insulting my intelligence.”
“I was complimenting you anyway,” Oikawa pouts. “I said you could fake it, remember?”
“Don’t try to pretend that’s a compliment, Assikawa.” Hajime would usually add something here like “Is that how you compliment all your admirers? No wonder you’re so popular,” but he is not touching the subject of fangirls with a ten-meter pole right now. Possibly ever again. Instead, he cuts himself off and waits for Oikawa’s bound-to-be-annoying reply.
Oikawa smiles cheekily and goddammit Hajime it’s your own face your heart should NOT be skipping a beat right now. “If you can even act like you’re as good as me, then you must be pretty good yourself, right?”
Hajime thinks there might be something sweet in that compliment, behind about seven tons of self-serving bullshit. Still, it’s not like he’s gonna actually say that. “I swear, Assikawa, the only thing you’re good at is somehow finding ways to make be even more full of yourself than you already were.”
“You’re so hurtful, Iwa-chan. I need a healthy sense of self-esteem to survive your constant meanness, you jerk.”
By the time they get to the gym, Hajime’s practically forgotten he was worried in the first place. He got so caught up in Oikawa being, well, Oikawa, that he entirely neglected to worry about himself having to be Oikawa. And the tide of feelings that Oikawa inspires him- annoyance, frustration, and underneath it a fluttering, soft sort of fondness- distract him from his fears all the way through changing into their practice clothes. (Well. So does the chance to stare at Oikawa’s abs from this perspective while changing. No one can blame him for looking. He just hopes that Oikawa didn’t notice the twenty seconds or so where Hajime just sat with his shirt off staring slightly downwards, because Oikawa actually might blame him for looking.)
Stretching feels relatively normal, too. He notes a slight tenderness in Oikawa’s knee- the idiot’s still overworking himself, goddammit, he’ll have to go easy today in practice to try to mitigate the damage his best friend insists on doing to himself- but other than that, stretching is stretching, really.
He loses himself in the exercises- it’s a ritual he’s gone through almost every morning and afternoon since he was old enough to hit a ball over the net, and it feels simple and normal like nothing else has today. He stands, balancing on one leg, and pulls his other knee up to his chest, feeling the muscles complain vaguely, tuning out the background noise of his teammates chattering and the coach yelling for Oikawa to lead warm-ups. He tunes everything out so well, actually, that he’s taken completely by surprise when something comes slamming into the back of his head at high velocity.
He pitches forward in shock, letting go of his leg to pinwheel his arms in search of his balance, but he doesn’t find it, and he lands heavily on all fours, limbs smacking heavily into the ground. “Ow, what the fuc-” he gasps on impulse, and then he sees the volleyball rolling to a stop next to his face and he realizes what just happened.
“Oi, Shittykawa,” Oikawa barks from behind him. “Get your head out of the clouds! Coach said to lead warmups!”
Oh, right. “Iwa-chan, that really hurt!” he whines, rubbing the back of his head- it’s not even for show, that hurt like a bitch. “You could have just said something, you know!”
"Irihata-san already said something, dumbass!" Oikawa returns. "You were probably too busy thinking about yourself to notice. You deserved to get hit." When Hajime turns to look at him as he picks himself up again, there's a pleased smirk on Oikawa's face- his voice may be playing the part, but when you look at him it's clear that he couldn't be happier to get the chance to hit Hajime for once. Hajime wants nothing more than to punch that vindictive pleasure off his face.
"Iwa-chan, that's an unfair accusation," he says, whining, although an edge of irritation can't help but shine through. "I was just thinking about the best way to lead practice and be the best captain I can be!"
"Bullshit," Oikawa scoffs. "Stop making yourself look good and actually start leading practice, then."
"Fine," Hajime grumbles. He projects his voice. "Let's start with laps today!"
He maneuvers himself so he's running next to Oikawa- he can keep up easily, even with a slight twinge in his knee that was made even worse by his fall. Once he's there, he turns and hisses under his breath. "Seriously, you asshole, what the fuck?"
"Don't dish it out if you can't take it, Iwa-chan," Oikawa sing-songs quietly.
Hajime bites his lip, because maybe Oikawa has a tiny semblance of a point there. Still, though... "There's no way I throw that hard," he argues back.
"Oh no, Iwa-chan, I'm pretty sure you throw exactly that hard," Oikawa says in a sweet tone. "I should know."
"You think everything hurts, though. You probably don't know your own strength. Well, my strength."
"Maybe my pain sensors are more delicate and refined, not like an unfeeling brute like you."
Hajime rolls his eyes at that one. "Well, whatever. Just don't throw shit on me when I'm balancing on one leg if you don't want those delicate and refined pain sensors in your knee to take a hit. I think I landed weird on it."
Oikawa's face pales a little at that, even under Hajime's tan, but he makes an effort to hide it, saying airily, "It's probably fine, you're just more used to causing pain than feeling it." He doesn't say anything for a minute, the only sound the harsh slap of their sneakers against the floor and the gasping chatter of their teammates. When he does speak again, his voice is slightly more subdued, and Hajime can hear the anxiety. "How bad is it?" he asks.
Hajime feels a stab of guilt for worrying him, and for not being able to catch himself before he fell. The last thing he wants is to hurt Oikawa for good- he thinks the idea of the knee giving out scares him nearly as much as it scares Oikawa. Before he answers he focuses on the sensation of the strain in the knee as his feet hit the floor. The tenderness he felt while stretching has turned into a slight throbbing, but he thinks a lot of that was just from the impact of the knee on the floor. There's no permanent damage. He hopes. "It's gonna be fine," he answers. "Don't worry about it, dumbass. I'll take care of it, okay?" I’ll take care of you, he thinks.
"You better," says Oikawa, recovering his usual attitude. "If I end up in a wheelchair or something because of your clumsiness, I'm making you push me around for the rest of my life."
"You're not going to end up in a wheelchair, idiot. Seriously, if it gets worse I'll sit out, okay?" He sees Oikawa wrinkle his nose at the thought of sitting out of practice and huffs out an annoyed breath. "Just because you're an idiot who feels like sitting out is a personal failure doesn't mean it isn't good for you. You should do it more often when you're actually using your body instead of overworking yourself all the time."
"Yes, mom," Oikawa says, a small smirk on his face. When Hajime automatically raises a fist to hit him, rage washing over him, Oikawa raises an eyebrow. "Iwa-chan, you wouldn't hit me in front of all these people, would you? That would look awfully suspicious."
"I'm going to kill you," Hajime says, voice almost as loud as his usual speaking voice. "As soon as we're back to normal, you are absolutely dead. I'm not your fucking mom-"
Suddenly a new voice cuts in. "Fancy seeing you two here, of all places." Matsukawa falls into step beside them. "Sounds like you're enjoying yourselves." Hajime curses the fact that he evidently has no indoor voice.
“Being nosy as usual, Mattsun?” Hajime asks lightly. The act falls back into place, more easily than he might have thought. For the rest of warmups, it would be hard for anyone not in the know to tell that anything is out of the ordinary. But Hajime can’t shake the dread that that’s going to change as soon as practice itself starts.
The worst thing about this stupid fucking situation, he thinks to himself viciously, the dog-shit icing on the cake, is the timing. Of course it would happen on a Friday, the day the Seijou team always has practice three-on-threes. Of course it couldn’t just be a day for drills or individual practice or something like that. No, it has to be the day when Hajime has to actually show off his nonexistent setting skills in a real-life game. He’s probably going to die. Or Oikawa’s going to kill him. Or, alternately, Oikawa will turn out to be such a bad spiker that Hajime has to kill him first. There are a lot of possibilities, but he doesn’t think he likes any of them.
Luckily, he manages to get himself placed on the same team as Oikawa for the three-on-three- having all of the pieces to make up their usual combo on the same side of the court, even if they’re hopefully dislocated, comforts him a little. Rounding out their team is Kindaichi; they’re up against Matsukawa, Hanamaki, and Yahaba. As he shakes hands with Yahaba, who smiles confidently at him and says “Good luck, senpai,” Hajime has the vivid thought that he’ll need that luck. His palms are starting to go clammy. As much as he reassured Oikawa this morning that they’d be fine, they’d figure it out, the fact remains that he doesn’t know how to set, not even at a high-school level, much less Oikawa’s level. He's starting to doubt at this point that bravado and "we'll figure it out later" can count for much now that later has become now.
And then it really is now- he's handed the ball, since he's serving first, and the game begins. He takes a deep breath. Okay, he can do this. Serving has never been a problem for him. His serve can't match Oikawa's in its ruthless control, but its power lets him blast through opponents just as well. He tries to picture Oikawa's serve in his head as he serves, tossing the ball up and jumping to meet it, and he can feel that his movements are different from Oikawa's usual, but at this point as long as his hand makes contact with the ball he's not complaining. It does, and he manages to aim between Matsukawa and Hanamaki; both players dive for the ball but nearly hit each other instead as it drops neatly between them. Well, that's a good start, Hajime thinks to himself, surprised but satisfied. A service ace is always an encouraging start to any match, and here, it seems like proof that he can really pilot Oikawa's body.
"Nice one, I- Oikawa!" says Oikawa, patting him hard on the back- seriously, Oikawa needs to learn how to pilot Hajime's body better, Hajime swears he does not hit as hard as that. It's interesting, he notes, that Oikawa almost slipped and used his real name. He's been really good about that all day; Hajime wonders if it's the excessive familiarity of the volleyball court that led him to fall back into their usual pattern. He guesses he'll have to watch himself too, then.
"Thanks," he responds to Oikawa. "Time to do it again." Maybe if he can score twenty-five consecutive service aces the match will end and he won't have to set.
Not surprisingly, he doesn't. The next serve is all right, but he wobbles a little in his approach because he's trying to mimic Oikawa's stride and the ball ends up flying directly to Matsukawa, who receives it smoothly. Hanamaki's spike is received by Kindaichi, and now the ball is coming at Hajime, the fucking setter, who has to set this ball and get it to Oikawa and oh god he can't do this- get it together, Hajime, he tells himself firmly. This isn't the time for him to fall apart, it's just a practice match. The worst thing that can possibly happen is they lose the match because he's completely incapable, he gets interrogated by the coach, benched, messes up their chances of winning the upcoming tournament, possibly messes up Oikawa's volleyball career, and okay, he should not have started thinking of the worst-case scenario, and oh, the ball has just completely sailed by him and off the side of the court, hasn't it?
Hajime's had that cliche nightmare a number of times before, the one where you come to class and then stand up in front of your classmates and realize that you completely forgot your homework, oh, and you're also naked. His brain loves tormenting him with it, but he's pretty sure that in the future, when it requires a moment of complete and total humiliation, it'll provide him with nightmares about this moment instead. Everyone in the match is staring at him with varying levels of amusement (the other team) and concern (his own team), and he can barely even bring himself to move, to deliver a sign to them that he's actually still alive and hasn't turned into the world's most realistic statue. This moment is turning from a completely unremarkable, if inexplicable, mistake to something much outwardly bigger and more worrying, and the longer he stands here, the worse it gets.
Luckily, and he can't believe he's thinking this is lucky, the next thing he feels is a harsh cuff to the back of the head, accompanied by a "What the hell, dumbass? Get off your ass and start setting!"
Despite the instinctive annoyance that that sparks in him, he also feels a wave of gratitude; it's like he's been shocked awake by the blow, and suddenly he can move again. "Iwa-chan, I'm sorry, don't be mean," he whines.
"Just pay attention next time, idiot", Oikawa responds. In a much quieter tone, he hisses, "Don't panic, Iwa-chan! Just push the ball off your fingers and get it to me and I can handle the rest! Are you gonna be okay?"
Hajime takes a deep breath. It's kind of sweet to see Oikawa's concern, actually, even if it's embarrassing and irritating as hell that he needs it in the first place, and it's even more irritating that hearing this stuff actually helps. "Yeah," he responds under his breath, "I'll be fine, I just- started thinking too much."
"I guess suddenly having brain cells after this long without them is dangerous after all, hmm?" Oikawa teases, and Hajime reminds himself that he's not allowed to hit Oikawa until they're off the court and alone. He can wait.
"Shut up and get back in position, idiot," he whispers, and the match resumes. It's Hanamaki's serve, and Hajime has to resist the urge to receive it, but Kindaichi executes a perfect receive, and now they're back where they were, with the ball flying toward his fingers and practically no idea what to do with it. He takes a deep breath and consciously turns off his brain- he can do this all on instinct. All he has to do is jump, touch the ball, and push it off his fingers-
He feels the leathery smack of the ball against his fingertips and pushes as hard as he can. It's only after the ball leaves his fingers and he's relishing the satisfaction of a job well done that he realizes he sort of forgot to aim. As his feet hit the floor again he sees Oikawa's arm slice wildly through the air, attempting to make contact with a ball that's at least 40 cm too high for him to hit. As the ball hits the floor halfway across the gym, Hajime gets the distinct feeling that it's laughing at him.
Hajime kicks the floor in frustration, breathing hard. Why is setting so goddamn difficult? He looks at Oikawa and feels a sullen heat rising to his cheeks- he's letting both of them down. What kind of teammate is he, if he can't even adapt to this? But Oikawa, exhibiting a surprising amount of patience- definitely much more than Hajime is showing- merely claps him on the back, saying "Don't mind, we'll get the next one!" Hajime finds that he minds slightly less after that.
They don't get the next one, though. Or the one after that, or the one after that. Hajime's tosses get slightly better in accuracy, but his and Oikawa's timing is still horribly off- Oikawa keeps starting his runup a little too late, or Hajime tosses too early, or something, they can't quite figure it out. And the tosses to Kindaichi... Well. He doesn't really want to think about the tosses to Kindaichi. Twice, when the score is 5-1 and again when it's 8-2, the coaches come over to ask if something's wrong and if they should stop the match, but Hajime and Oikawa have somehow managed to bullshit their way through that, claiming that "Oikawa" is "just trying a new setting technique". On the positive side, they have managed to get the ball over the net a non-zero number of times (three) and they have managed to score a non-zero number of points (two, due to a bad serve by Yahaba and a net touch by Matsukawa) by the time the other team has scored ten. Also, they've probably managed to provide Matsukawa and Hanamaki with enough material for jokes for the rest of their lives. Poor Kindaichi looks like he's about to cry, and Hajime would just pull him aside and tell him that it's not his fault if not for the fact that he has no idea how to even make up a fake explanation for why both of his senpais are suddenly so pathetic.
With the score at 10-3, they finally score their first honest point- Hajime's shaky toss and Oikawa's flailing arm somehow manage to connect perfectly, and the ball slams to the floor on the other team's side of the court. Of course, it probably only made it because by this point the other team has basically given up blocking them and everyone is too shocked that a ball actually made it over the net to try to receive. However, a point is a point, and the fact that their score is only slightly less than a third of their opponents' actually feels like a cause for celebration. Hajime's actually grinning as he high-fives Oikawa and Kindaichi, and "Let's get the next one!" sounds like a promise.
Not a promise he can keep, evidently. The point margin only widens, despite some scattered sets getting through- the score is 20-8 before Oikawa pokes Hajime in the side and hisses "Call a time-out."
They move to the sidelines and huddle up. "What is it, Iwa-chan?" asks Hajime, glancing at Kindaichi. He doesn't really know what Oikawa's going to be able to say with Kindaichi right there...
Oikawa reads his mind, apparently. "Kindaichi, would you mind letting the two of us talk alone?" he asks.
Kindaichi's wide eyes widen further. "Okay, senpai," he says, a little confused, but obediently wanders off to the side of the court, leaving Oikawa and Hajime alone.
"Hey, Iwa-chan," Oikawa says under his breath. "This isn't working, is it?"
"Well..." Hajime murmurs. "I'm getting better. If we keep practicing I might be able to pull it off soon, but..." He doesn't really want to admit out loud just how very much this is not working.
"Listen, I have an idea. Let's just... do this the way we always do, hmm?" Oikawa tilts his head a little, eyes shining. "Me to you. I toss, you spike."
"But the rest of the team-"
"Can't possibly think we're any weirder than they already do. We already made sure of that. Come on, Iwa-chan, let's at least try it."
Oikawa's convincing as always, but really, Hajime doesn't need much to agree. Oikawa's toss has been a constant in his life ever since the moment the other boy picked up a volleyball. Even if it'll technically be his own muscles sending the ball over, he'd like that constant back. "Yeah, I guess we can try it," he agrees. "This can't actually get worse, can it?"
They beckon Kindaichi over and tell him the plan, much to his further confusion; Hajime swears he's gonna buy the kid some ice cream like a good senpai when this is all over to reward him for suffering through this bullshit. When the game resumes, Hajime waits patiently for Yahaba's serve to come sailing across the net. He's in the zone now- instead of feeling a rising sense of panic, all he feels is clarity and calm. Kindaichi tentatively sends the ball over to Oikawa, and instead of worrying, Hajime just jumps, the way he always does. He feels the world slow down and shrink to just him, Oikawa, and the ball connecting them- nothing else matters right now, not the situation, not any of his worries. The ball flies to his hand like it's magnetically attracted to it, like it’s meant to be there, and he spikes it with all his strength, missing any blockers by a mile.
It's perfect. Absolutely perfect. Just the way it's supposed to be.
Well, technically, Hanamaki manages to receive it and Matsukawa spikes past Oikawa's block to win the point, so maybe it's not exactly perfect. But still. It's good enough.
They lose the set by the embarrassing score of 25-14, but considering how badly they'd been outclassed at the beginning, it's better than Hajime had dared to hope. Oikawa acts as the setter for the rest of the set, much to the shock of the rest of the gym- half of the other players are staring at them by the time their three-on-three ends. It worries Hajime, because while the muscles are Hajime's the motions and the lines of the set are still distinctly Oikawa's, and what if someone figures them out? But he can't bring himself to complain or insist that they switch back. Spiking Oikawa's toss feels as simple and clean as it always has, even in the middle of chaos. He feels annoyed and helpless for having to resort to this, but he can't deny that this is the way to succeed. And he can't deny the rush of joy that he gets after driving one of Oikawa's tosses past the opponent's block. It's never felt like just his joy- it feels like the two of them are somehow feeling together, experiencing the other's emotions as strongly as their own. Maybe that's why it's his favorite feeling in the world. And it's still here, no matter how much else is different today. He can feel secure in that.
The three-on-three ends after one set, mercifully. Even though they got more and more successful towards the end, Hajime doesn't think he could have made it through another set of that without punching something out of frustration. Even though it's just a stupid practice match which fate had pretty much guaranteed them to lose already, losing still sits bitter in his stomach. When he shakes hands with Yahaba at the end, he looks him in the eye, but with difficulty. He never wants to go through a match like that again, and he resolves to go home and do extra practice tonight. If they're going to be stuck like this for a while, he's going to have to train hard, both as a setter and a spiker. He'll be damned if they lose in an official match because of him.
...Or maybe he won't practice tonight, actually, he thinks as he feels an alarmingly strong twinge in his knee. He'd thought he was going easy on it, trying not to make any damage from his fall any worse, but as he walks off the court he can feel it complaining loudly. Maybe he wasn't as careful with it as he thought he was.
"Irihata-san, is it all right if I sit out the rest of practice?" he says- loudly, for Oikawa's benefit. "My knee's starting to hurt, and I want to be careful with it. It'd be really silly of me to keep playing through the pain for no reason and end up wrecking our chances in the tournament and my chances of a career just so I can have a few more minutes on the court now!" He can almost hear Oikawa rolling his eyes in the background.
"All right," says Irihata-san, blinking a bit in surprise. "You've seemed off today, I think it's a good idea to rest. Iwaizumi, you should take a break too."
Oikawa shakes his head firmly. "I'm fine, Irihata-san, I can keep going!" Hajime laughs under his breath- of course Oikawa's not gonna spend any time off the court he doesn't have to, especially not after the speech Hajime just gave. He doesn’t always react well to lectures, not that that usually stops Hajime.
So Hajime sits on the bench alone- well, next to the coaches- and watches the next round of three-on-threes. Oikawa's spiking Yahaba's tosses now, and doing surprisingly well. Hajime thinks it's unfair how good Oikawa is at spiking considering how absolutely terrible Hajime is at setting, but, well, spiking is a skill Oikawa actually needs. He sighs a little to himself. Despite all the shit that's happened today and all the times Oikawa has purposely tried to piss him off, he can barely believe it, but he's just coming out of this with an even higher opinion of Oikawa than he had already. Oikawa's been willing to put up with Hajime's many mistakes, supporting instead of mocking, and he's guided them both through this. Grudgingly, Hajime admits to himself that without Oikawa he doesn't know what he'd be doing in a situation like this. Grudgingly, he admits that he's probably even more in love with Oikawa than he was when he woke up this morning.
Which makes it even worse that today has also been the final nail in the coffin of his withered hopes that Oikawa would someday like him back. No, that's pretty clearly closed off to him now.
Well, he guesses you can't have everything. And if he's got Oikawa like this, the most irritating but most supportive and overall best friend he could imagine, then he's got a whole hell of a lot.
Thanks to my friends for helping me push through and motivating me- you guys have been amazing! Also, I'm sorry for my complete lack of volleyball knowledge. Also also, I PROMISE the next chapter won't take three months. I don't know how long it will take but it DEFINITELY won't be three months. I will not reach this level of terrible again.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
In which Hajime gets some possibly helpful, possibly completely misaimed advice.
Thank you to everyone who's put up with all the long (long, long, LONG) gaps between updates and to the people who messaged me with support for this fic! I'm really glad people still enjoy this after all this time and I hope you all enjoy this chapter just as much!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hajime leaves practice for the locker room a few minutes early- he’d like to get out of here after that near-disaster of a practice as soon as possible. He and Oikawa had managed to keep the illusion of being each other going, despite their verging-on-horrific combos, but Hajime gets the sinking feeling that the longer they spend in the company of others, the less likely it is that their ruse will hold. He strips almost as soon as the door closes behind him and proceeds to shower for the umpteenth time that day- he’d as soon skip it, but Oikawa doesn’t like walking home with cold sweat drying on his back and in his hair, and Hajime can’t just add another abnormality to today. The shower is probably the quickest one Oikawa’s body has ever taken, both because Hajime wants to get home as soon as possible and because he can only spend so much time in Oikawa’s naked body without being tempted to do morally questionable things with it. As he rinses his hair off- hey, at least he used real shampoo this time, so that prissy little peacock can’t whine at him some more- he wonders how Oikawa handles being Oikawa every day. It must be exhausting. Hajime already needs a rest.
His feelings of general exhaustion and exasperation with the universe only increase when he remembers the fucking meat tenderizer hair dryer. Why does Oikawa have to insist on walking around looking like a celebrity all the time? Why can’t he go home looking like a normal person for once? Does he think the walls of the locker room are filled with hidden cameras? Are paparazzi going to pop out of the bushes at his front doorstep, eager to document The Great Oikawa-san Arriving at His Humble Abode? He rakes the brush through his hair with irritation, trying to combat the urge to give Oikawa a nosebleed and ruin that perfect image of his. Whoever’s nose his impulse actually leads him to break, it’ll somehow be hurting him, he reminds himself. Wait until we’re back to normal.
The hair-brushing goes well, despite his utter rage at Oikawa, his hairbrush, and the entire concept of hair-brushing and possibly hair in general. So does the salt spray. Even for him, it’s hard to fuck something like that up. The terrifying hair dryer… Well, it’s a lot easier for him to fuck something like that up. He doesn’t have a problem with aiming it in the general direction of his head, and he swears he’s doing the exact same thing Oikawa did this morning, but when he pulls back and looks at himself in the mirror, instead of looking movie-star perfect, he looks… Fluffy. Fluffy is a good word. That, or electrocuted.
It’s actually kind of endearing, Hajime finds himself thinking with a certain frustration. He wonders if he could actually fuck up so badly that Oikawa’s appearance stopped being attractive to him. Probably not even if he made good on his threat to use the razor. He sighs heavily. He’s in way too deep in this goddamned crush.
Fuck it, he decides, after making a few feeble attempts with the brush and the salt spray to tame the cloud around his head. The deliciously silky, fluffy cloud that he can’t resist running his fingers through way more times than necessary. He eventually tosses the brush to one side, sighing in disgust. It’s not like they’re going to see anyone but possibly their families after practice. Oikawa will take a quick shower, throw on clothes, and they can dash home without running into anyone important. No one has to know.
Of course, he completely fails to predict that rather than rushing to get out of practice quickly like a sane person in this situation would, Oikawa comes in at the tail end of the pack and then spends what has to be half a goddamn hour in the shower. Hajime doesn’t think he’s ever spent that long in a shower in his entire life. What could Oikawa possibly be doing in there? Scrutinizing his reflection in the puddle near the shower drain? Well, whatever he's doing, he doesn't seem to have any appreciation whatsoever for the fact that they need to get out of here as soon as possible.
Hajime sits on one of the locker room benches, looking resolutely downwards and pretending to go through Oikawa's bag and organize it. (For someone who's usually so neat, it's weird how much disgusting shit is in here. Hajime frowns as he digs through a mound of old, tattered Volleyball Monthlies and empty water bottles. His scowl deepens as he finds a stack of the same kind of pink, grossly over-stylized envelopes that Keiko-chan handed him earlier today. He wonders if Oikawa would notice if all his old confession letters mysteriously disappeared. It's not like he accepted any of them anyway. An impromptu bonfire seems like fun, and this would be the perfect kindling.) His shoulders are tight with tension, but the more people who file out of the locker room, the calmer he gets. Everyone's leaving, one by one; he can outwait them, Oikawa can get his ass out here, and they can go home and try to figure out a solution to this mess. It'll be fine-
"Hey, Oikawa. Nice hair."
He feels Hanamaki's hand clap him on the shoulder and it's all he can do not to groan. Maybe it won't be fine after all. "Be quiet, Makki," he replies, trying his best to sound pouty instead of just pissed off. "I'm trying something new."
"Yeah, the Albert Einstein look, I can tell. Trying to improve your grades by association?" When Hajime levels him with a deeply unimpressed look, Hanamaki shrugs and waves his hands in the air. "Hey, I'm not judging. If trying to look like a dead German genius is your best study strategy, then go right ahead. Or you could always get Iwaizumi to fix you right up again."
Hajime inwardly winces. Bringing up himself- not that Hanamaki knows that’s what they’re doing- is just about the last thing he wants to do right now. He favors Hanamaki's attempts at conversation with a polite murmur of vague agreement. He feels a little like an ostrich right now- maybe if he buries his head very deeply in his hands, Hanamaki will go away and he can go home. Hajime loves Hanamaki, he really does, but he has no idea how to hold a conversation like this.
"Speaking of Iwaizumi..." Hanamaki's hand is back on his shoulder, gentler now, and when Hajime reluctantly turns his head to look at him, he can see that his eyes are gentle too. "Straight, huh?"
Hajime changes his mind. This is the last thing he wants to do right now. His mind fills with wistful visions of jumping off a cliff. It’d probably be a lot more fun than discussing his own fake sexuality while pretending to be the person he has a crush on.
"Is that what's messing you up today?" Hanamaki asks. He sounds sympathetic, caring, and Hajime's brain is just about one step from shutting down.
"I... I don't... I don't think he's actually straight..." He mumbles sort of hopelessly. This wasn't exactly how he'd planned to come out to Hanamaki, but he guesses now is as good a time as any. Actually, scratch that. It's a fucking terrible time, but he doesn't feel like pretending any more than he absolutely has to today. He's already sick of pretending, and he hasn't even been doing it for a full day yet.
"Yeah, I know," says Hanamaki, and Hajime blinks.
"You... you know?" His voice cracks a little from the surprise. It's not like he had expected Hanamaki to respond to that with anger or disgust in the beautiful, worry-free fantasy world where he actually got to be in his own body while coming out- he knows the other boy better than that- but he hadn't expected exactly this level of blase dismissal. It's a little bit disappointing in how anticlimactic it is.
Hanamaki shrugs. "My gaydar is impeccable. But honestly, everyone knows. We all have eyes, Oikawa. And to everyone who pays any attention to him, his gay crisis-"
"I- he- he is not going through a GAY CRISIS!" Hajime defends himself forcibly, barely keeping his voice from squeaking again. This is just unfair. Sure, maybe he's having a little trouble (a lot of trouble) dealing with his crush, but that doesn't automatically equal a gay crisis. He's perfectly comfortable with his actual sexuality, thanks. What he's not comfortable with is the idea that apparently everyone knows about his actual sexuality. Wait, if everyone knows, does that mean Oikawa knows? Not for the first time that day (or the tenth) he feels the strong urge to just melt into the floor and disappear forever. Maybe he'll take a permanent vacation. He's heard the Seychelles are nice this time of year.
Hanamaki snorts. "You're defensive," he observes, making Hajime want to die just that little bit more. "He'd probably think it was sweet. You know him. Under that layer of prickly hedgehog-" he twists his face into a parody of a scowl- “‘Aargh, die, you dumbass Shittykawa,’ he’s actually disgustingly romantic. He just thinks it’d ruin his image.” Hajime changes his mind- he still wants to die, but he’s taking Hanamaki with him. "Look, he'll come around, all right? It's obvious he likes you as much as you like him. Our dear Hajime-kun just doesn’t exactly understand how feelings work. Give him time, all right?"
Hajime actually, physically feels his brain implode. His thought process, instead of being actual coherent sentences, is composed of a jumble of heated fragments, with the phrase he likes you as much as you like him jumping around doing cartwheels in the middle of it. What the fuck is Hanamaki talking about? That doesn't- the idea of reciprocation in their relationship is just- they can't- Hanamaki can't know they- Oikawa doesn't like him back. He’s established this way too much today. It’s just ridiculous. Right?
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Makki," he declares. The fact that his voice is shaking makes it a little less convincing than he wants.
Hanamaki raises an eyebrow, looking depressingly yet unsurprisingly unconvinced. “Yeah, I’m sure. Where are you getting lost, the part where Iwaizumi wants to take you out on a dazzlingly romantic evening and then fuck you senseless every night, or the part where you want to do the same to him?”
Hajime can feel a primal scream gathering in his gut. He actually does bury his head in his hands this time, partially to try to block out Hanamaki and his stupid, hopeful, completely accurate perception of Hajime’s feelings and completely inaccurate perception of Oikawa’s feelings, and partly because if he’s using his hands to cover his face then he isn’t using them to punch Hanamaki until he passes out and then make a run for it, which honestly seems like the easiest escape from this situation. God knows he can’t talk his way out. “I don’t know,” he says, half-annoyed, half-hopeless. “Fuck, I don’t know, can we talk about literally anything else-”
“Ooh, potty mouth,” says Hanamaki, and Hajime bites his lip hard, because of course it’d be more noticeable for Oikawa to start cursing than for him to start cursing, this masquerade is fucking falling apart and it’s all because Hanamaki suddenly decided that right now was the best time to interrogate Oikawa about his goddamn love life. “Did I hit a nerve?” He pats Hajime on the head, ruffling his hair- who does he think he is, Hajime’s grandfather? Well, Oikawa’s grandfather?- and continues. “Look, you can tell me things like this, Oikawa. As a veteran gay currently in a gay relationship and survivor of some gay pining that went on for way longer than it reasonably had to, I feel like I make the perfect gay marriage counselor.” Hajime, peeking cautiously through his fingers, can see that Hanamaki has spread his arms out in an inviting manner. “Come on, talk to Uncle Makki.”
....Well, that was a lot of information at once. Hanamaki, one of his closest friends and one of the people he’s been low-key hiding his sexuality from, is… also gay. Which makes his years of pretending to be straight in front of him even more pointless than the fact that Hanamaki had apparently figured his sexuality out instantly had already made it. Hajime has felt stupid way too much today, but this really takes the cake. And… “Wait, you’re in a relationship? With who?”
Hanamaki actually peels Hajime’s hands away from his face and scrutinizes his expression, which is mostly just confused. Hajime doesn’t think he’s ever seen Hanamaki’s eyebrows go that high before. “Who are you?” For a split second Hajime’s heart stops and his stomach turns to ice, convinced he's been found out, before Hanamaki continues. “Are you telling me Oikawa Tooru, who notices everything except his ace’s big fat gay crush on him-” (Hajime swallows hard)- “didn’t notice that Issei and I are together?”
“You’re- you’re together?” Hajime repeats, a smile growing on his face. Okay, so maybe he’s not that stupid- he’d noticed the way Matsukawa always looked at Hanamaki when Hanamaki wasn’t looking. It was looks like that that had made him decide that Matsukawa would be the first person he came out to when he got up the courage to do it at all- although apparently that’s completely a moot point because he’s fucking obvious about everything, God. But hearing that Matsukawa’s crush has worked out might be the first actual good thing that’s happened today. Well, Oikawa did help him maintain his streak of total victory in arm wrestling, and they did manage at least a few successful kills in practice. So maybe it’s the third good thing. Still.
Hanamaki’s face is almost comically shocked. “So you seriously didn’t notice? We’ve been dating for almost two weeks. I’d expect this of Iwaizumi-”
“Hey-” Hajime interjects without being able to stop himself.
“-but I thought you of all people would notice. Damn, I guess this means Issei wins the bet.”
“What bet?” Hajime’s almost not sure that he and Hanamaki are speaking the same language anymore. Everything Hanamaki says manages to surprise him even more.
“Issei and I like to bet on things, you know, just to keep life interesting. We didn’t tell anyone we were dating because we wanted to see who’d notice before we told them. I put a lot of faith in you guys when I picked my side of the bet.” Hanamaki wrinkles his nose. “Thanks for letting me down. I’m gonna have to treat Issei to cheese-filled steak now.”
Hajime blinks. Well, that explains why Matsukawa and Hanamaki hadn’t told him- he was starting to feel a little hurt by that, he’d thought they were close enough. But of course they would have just treated it as some kind of weird-ass social experiment. He doesn’t know why he expected anything different.
“But anyway, my point is that I’m more than qualified to help you guys through this gay crisis of yours.”
“It’s not a gay crisis,” Hajime mutters sullenly, then throws on a “Makki” at the end in an attempt to sound more Oikawa-ish. He wishes he knew how Oikawa actually would respond to accusations of having a crush on his best friend. He wishes he knew if the accusations are true. Not that they can be… Can they? He remembers the rage in Oikawa’s voice when he’d proclaimed how straight Iwaizumi was back at lunch when Matsukawa and Hanamaki had been teasing them. He was disgusted, he doesn’t want this… Does he?
Hanamaki rolls his eyes and singsongs, “Say it all you want, that doesn’t make it tru-uue.” He sighs. “Look, all of us can see the way you look at each other. Try turning around sometime when he thinks you’re not looking. That look could be on the cover of a romance novel.”
“I…” Hajime knows this part already, this isn’t the part he needs reassurance for. He can feel desperation building up in him, and panic, and horrible, biting, unsustainable hope, and in about point five seconds he’s about to do something very stupid if he can’t rein it in. He bites his lip, hard, trying to think of a way to respond that leaves Oikawa’s feelings vague, manages to be the final word on the subject, and also doesn’t leave him wanting to cry. He fails miserably, of course, but he likes to imagine that he gets points for trying. “It doesn’t even matter whether I like him or not. He doesn’t like me. He said so, we all heard him. He looked disgusted.” He flashes back involuntarily to Oikawa’s expression in the hallway, when he’d asked if Hajime liked him, that unreadable something in his eyes, the awkwardness of his pose. Yeah, now he definitely wants to cry.
Hanamaki rolls his eyes. “Of course he did, he was in front of all of us. Use that Einstein-like brain of yours, Oikawa. If he hasn’t even come out to anyone, do you really think he’s going to start by confessing to you in front of all of us? And it’s not like you’ve told him you like him, or even that you like guys at all, is it? He might think you’d be the disgusted one.”
Hajime thinks, slowly. He remembers the scene in the hallway again, remembers past the point where he usually stops. He remembers his response to Oikawa’s question- “You are so full of yourself, thinking everyone likes you.” He’d comforted himself thinking that it wasn’t technically a lie, he hadn’t technically told Oikawa he didn’t like him, but that’s bullshit, isn’t it? Even if he didn’t say the word no, he calculated that response so Oikawa would believe the answer was no. If he could say something like that, and lie… Then Oikawa could as well, couldn’t he?
“But there’s no proof,” he says stubbornly. “He never said-”
“If you’re waiting for proof, you better get comfortable and settle in,” Hanamaki says. “It’s gonna be a long wait. Think about who you’re crushing on. Iwaizumi… Look, I get why you like him, but he might be the most emotionally constipated guy I’ve ever met.”
Hajime bristles, but stops himself from speaking- he’s probably already doing enough damage to Oikawa’s relationship with Hanamaki, the least he can do is avoid revealing that he’s not actually Oikawa and fucking things up even more. Instead, he resolves to beat Hanamaki even more thoroughly next time they arm-wrestle. Who’ll be emotionally constipated then, asshole? An unhelpful part of his brain chips in, Probably still you, but he tells it firmly to shut up and keeps listening to Hanamaki.
“For whatever reason, he’s terrible at showing how he actually feels,” Hanamaki continues. “Do you really think he’s gonna be the one to confess first?” Hajime resolves to beat him twice next time they wrestle. Maybe even three times.
Hanamaki pats Hajime on the shoulder. “I’m speaking from experience here, okay? I’m just as much of an idiot as both of you are. I held back for months because I thought there was no way Issei’d like me, and now-” the smile on his face is almost disgustingly fond- “we’re married memes.”
“I can’t believe you call yourselves that,” Hajime says.
“What can I say? It’s just the truth.”
Hajime can’t believe he’s about to continue this conversation, instead of grabbing on this seeming change of subject, but all of a sudden he’s too invested. It’s so close to being the real advice he needs, even if the one thing he needs confirmed is something he can’t ask for confirmation of without sounding like he’s suddenly developed amnesia. “But, about me and O- um, Iwa-chan, what if… What if he doesn’t like me after all?” He hates his tone of voice right now- he sounds pathetic, nervous, like a scared puppy. And he hates hearing this tone in Oikawa's voice, because it’s all too easy to imagine the real Oikawa sounding like this, and it’s a feeling he never wants him to experience.
Hanamaki puts both hands on his shoulders- he really does feel like an uncle, Hajime thinks. “How are you gonna know unless you ask?”
“But, if he says no-”
“Do you really think he’d stop being friends with you? Think about it. It’s Iwaizumi, he’s the most dependable and trustworthy guy I know.” Hajime decides that maybe he only needs to beat Hanamaki once the next time they arm-wrestle after all. “And even if there’s, like, a point zero zero one chance that I’m not infallible and he only likes you as a friend, he likes you enough that he won’t let something like this end the friendship.”
“But…” Hajime has no idea where he’s going with this objection, except that Hanamaki’s saying everything he wants to hear, and could he maybe stop that, please, it’s way too easy to believe that there’s hope and his stupid dumbass crush on his stupid dumbass best friend might have a chance to go somewhere.
“Look,” says Hanamaki firmly. “This has been going on for too long. Just tell him, so maybe this team can stop being a K-drama for once.” A wicked grin spreads across his face. “Unless you want me to write a really sappy love letter, sign your name, and put it in his locker.”
“Don’t you dare,” Hajime hisses, briefly forgetting that the letter would be going to him and not Oikawa so he could probably deal with it. However, anger’s probably an in-character reaction to have, so he runs with it. “If you do anything like that, I’m never tossing to you again, you can sit on the bench forever for all I care.”
Hanamaki shrugs. “Tell him, then.” He stands up, seemingly unbothered by Hajime’s wrath, laconic smile still fixed on his face. “I should go home, my family’s waiting on me for dinner. Say goodbye to your nice Uncle Makki.”
Hajime rolls his eyes and obediently mutters “Bye, Uncle Makki,” too emotionally exhausted to think up another retort.
Hanamaki gathers up his bag and proceeds out of the locker room. He pauses at the door, turning to face Hajime one last time. “Think about what I said. Or I’ll start composing that sappy letter.” He salutes him lazily before turning back around with a “See ya tomorrow, captain.”
As soon as he’s gone, Hajime slowly buries his head in his hands again. Hanamaki’s given him too much to think about, and his head kind of hurts now. He wishes more than anything that Hanamaki had been having that conversation with him as himself, or that maybe he really was Oikawa. Hanamaki's completely right about Hajime’s feelings- all his reassurances on that front did nothing, since Hajime already knew he was telling the truth. But can he be right about Oikawa as well? Hajime has no idea, he has no proof, he has the images of Oikawa’s awkwardness in the hallway and bitterness after lunch to contend with- but now, combating them, he has Hanamaki’s quiet voice. “If you’re waiting for proof, it’s gonna be a long wait… He likes you as much as you like him… How are you gonna know unless you ask?”
He sighs quietly. He hadn’t thought there was still room for hope. And he hadn’t remembered that hope was this goddamn stressful.
I THINK THE NEXT CHAPTER'S GONNA BE THE LAST ONE YOU GUYS I THINK WE'RE ACTUALLY AT THAT POINT
Thanks for reading! As always, you can find me on Tumblr at oikawatooruinedmylife and on Twitter at @hajimistletoe, although it's FREAKING JANUARY so I really need to change that (I'm probably gonna go back to @iwachansbiceps for the moment so if that link's dead when you click then look for me there!) I hope everyone enjoyed the chapter and I hope it will not take 5 months for me to actually write the final chapter!
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
In which things finally go right.
Hajime’s thoughts spin around his brain for the next few minutes, knocking painfully against the inside of his head. He wishes a little bit that he could go back in time and un-have that conversation with Hanamaki. It was a lot simpler when he’d thought that he had no chance with Oikawa. It hurt like hell, of course, watching Oikawa with all his cute little disposable girlfriends, wishing to be in their place and knowing Oikawa wouldn’t want him there. But there was a lot less to worry about. Confessing was never an option- why would he, if it was guaranteed to be rejected? He didn’t have to decide whether or not to pour his heart out to an Oikawa who would proceed to stomp on it. He didn’t have to be afraid, or ask himself any hard questions, or take any risks. He didn’t have to do anything except be sad. It was easy.
Maybe, he thinks, that’s why he never bothered to question his own beliefs about whether Oikawa liked him.
Well, he’s sure questioning now.
The more he thinks about Hanamaki’s words, the more he’s sure that the other boy is right, no matter how infuriating his advice is. He might be wrong about how good the chances are that Oikawa likes Hajime, but he’s not wrong that those chances maybe, possibly, might exist. And Hajime’s not going to know the real answer until he asks. But despite that reasoning, there’s a chunk of ice in his stomach and a whispering voice asking him if knowing is worth getting his heart crushed, stomped on, stewed, eaten, shat out-
Luckily, his increasingly defeatist and disgusting train of thought is interrupted by one of the ugliest snorting wheezes he’s ever heard. He’s almost offended that his own vocal cords can produce that sound. The wheeze is followed by words, still distorted by Oikawa’s hideous laughter. Honestly, he sounds like a hyena with a chest cold. “Iwa-chan, what did you do to my hair? You look like a troll doll or something!”
Of course it’s the fucking hair again. Does Oikawa not know how to let things go? God, why does Hajime even like this guy? “Shut up,” he grumbles without looking up, raking his hand through said hair. “I did exactly what you told me to, all right? It’s not my fault your hair dryer’s inhabited by a goddamn demon from another dimension that hates me, or whatever.”
Oikawa’s laughing even louder now, and then suddenly his hand is on Hajime’s head and he’s honest-to-god petting him, running his fingers through Hajime’s hair. Hajime very suddenly has to repress the urge to sigh, or even to purr, just to make a contented little noise that would express how very happy he is that Oikawa’s hand is where it is right now. Oikawa doesn’t mean it like that anyway, it’s not supposed to be affectionate, and god, Hajime can’t even go five seconds without thinking about how romantically screwed he may or may not be. He does sigh this time, but it’s an exasperated one.
“My poor Iwa-chan,” Oikawa responds with a giggle, and Hajime tries very hard not to think about being called my. “You really are hopeless, aren’t you?”
“Will you shut up, dumbass? I go to a college prep school, not a beauty school. And I’m not vain like you, so how the hell should I be expected to know about this shit? And anyway,” Hajime frantically tries to shift the blame, “If you hadn’t been in the shower for seventy-five years no one would have even seen this but you. What were you even doing in there?”
Oikawa’s hand drops from Hajime’s head, and when Hajime looks up he sees a faint sprinkle of pink dusting Oikawa’s cheeks. “Just my famous beauty rituals,” he answers in a tone that probably would have been airy in his own voice but sounds a bit squeaky in Hajime’s. “Not that they made a dent in your ugliness, but you can’t blame me for trying!”
Hajime punches Oikawa in the ribs. “Shut up, you prissy bastard. I’m glad they didn’t work, I don’t ever wanna look like you.” He looks down at himself. “I’ve had more than enough of that already.”
Oikawa pretends to be wounded. “Iwa-chan, so cruel. You should be enjoying your time in my body. It’s like an extreme makeover! Or a vacation!”
“More like a trip to hell,” Hajime mutters as he stands up heavily. “Come on, let’s just go home. The sooner we go home the sooner we can find out how to fix this.”
Oikawa hums, grabs his school bag with one hand, and grabs Hajime’s hand with the other. Hajime feels his heart skip several beats. It’s normal, they did it yesterday for god’s sake, but suddenly Hajime can’t stop thinking about how not-normal it is. Friends don’t do that, or at least not most friends, and not as often as they do. He’s always known that but he’s chalked it up to Oikawa having no sense of boundaries and Hajime being too tolerant (and too smitten, always too smitten) to stop him. But… what if Oikawa’s lack of boundaries comes from the same place that Hajime’s willingness to let him get away with things does? What if…?
Hajime fucking hates Hanamaki for making him think about this shit. Suddenly all he can think about is the radiating warmth of Oikawa’s palm against his as they walk, and the little squeezes that Oikawa unconsciously gives as he swings their hands between them, and maybe he should just confess right here and right now and stop this awful overawareness in its tracks, but if he confesses he might lose all this and he thinks if he does he might actually die, and Oikawa’s been asking him a question for the last ten seconds, hasn’t he? Thanks, Uncle Makki, he thinks sourly.
“What? I wasn’t listening.”
Oikawa pokes his ear lightly. “I said, who saw you with your hair like that? And you didn’t let them take any pictures, did you? I don’t need anyone else to have blackmail on me after everything else that’s happened today.”
Oikawa blows out a long breath through his nose. “Well, he already saw us this morning, so I guess it can’t get worse. You didn’t tell him anything, did you? What did you talk about?”
Hajime feels that goddamn blush approaching again as he remembers exactly what they talked about. He wonders if there’s some kind of makeup product that’s like anti-blush. If it exists, either Oikawa or his sisters probably have it, and he’s not going to be guilty at all about stealing their tube or box or whatever the hell kind of container anti-blush would come in. This is just getting ridiculous. “We just talked about… stuff…” he says vaguely. “Oh, did you know he and Matsukawa are together?”
Oikawa turns to look at him, incredulous. “Did you not know?”
“Well, they didn’t tell anyone, so no.”
Oikawa takes a very deep breath, his stride slowing to a stop. “Iwa-chan, who lives in the house next to me? I thought it was you, but clearly it can’t be, since you live under a rock instead.”
Hajime punches Oikawa in the side with his free hand. “Shut up, Shittykawa. Like I said, they didn’t tell anyone, how was I supposed to know?”
“Didn’t you see the way they looked at each other, or the way they kept touching each other, or how they always came and left together when they didn’t before? It was really obvious, Iwa-chan. Then again, you’ve always been terrible at noticing affection. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”
There’s a note of something in Oikawa’s voice, although he’s clearly trying to keep it light- is it wistful? Downcast? Hajime’s heart is thudding, and he wonders if the affection Oikawa’s talking about is the affection he desperately wants to be there. Either way, Oikawa is right- he’s terrible at this. He feels a sudden rush of courage- maybe he should just get it over with right now, find out if he’s right or not- but before he can do more than open his mouth, Oikawa’s speaking again.
“Wait, so you told Makki you didn’t know that he was with Mattsun? Iwa-chaaaaaan,” Oikawa whines, “you’re ruining my reputation again! You owe me more milk bread for making me look like I’m as dense as you are.”
“No way, asshole, I already spent three thousand yen on you for milk bread you don’t even want! I’m not doing that again. Hanamaki already knew you were a dumbass.”
“Fine, then,” Oikawa huffs. “You’re buying me dinner every night until we fix this.”
“What the fuck? That’s way too much.”
“Don’t be a cheapskate, Iwa-chan…”
“I’m not a cheapskate, you’re a bastard who’s trying to sponge off me!”
By the time they get home, they’ve managed to haggle it down to Hajime paying for the next two dinners. Hajime can feel his wallet screaming in pain, but he figures that he’ll just challenge Oikawa to Mario Kart later and probably win some of the lost meals back. All their bets and paying for each other tend to even out in the end. It occurs to him to wonder whether the people at the places they usually eat think they’re dating, considering one of them is constantly paying for the other, and they often hold hands entering and leaving, and holy shit, they’re practically a couple already, aren’t they? Hajime can’t believe he never noticed any of this before. Maybe his friends aren’t just being assholes when they call him dense.
They decide to camp out at Oikawa’s house for the afternoon and evening- he has a desktop computer in his room while Hajime only has a laptop, and since pretty much their only idea so far to solve their problem has been “Google it”, it’ll be better to have a bigger screen to do it on. Luckily, when they enter the house, their twin “Tadaima”s are met with silence- Oikawa’s mother must be out doing something with his sister. Hajime silently thanks the universe. He doesn’t know if he could stand having to be Oikawa in front of Oikawa’s family on top of everything else he’s done today.
They move quietly through the house, even though they know they’re alone. Hajime feels like a little kid sneaking out at night, somehow, even though he knows he has every right to be here; the fear of getting caught by a random remaining Oikawa family member hangs just as strongly over him.
The house is completely silent until they reach the bottom of the stairs, when they hear a loud thud from upstairs. Hajime actually flinches and has to stifle a gasp; Oikawa clutches his arm. They both look at each other like they’re expecting to be teased, but quickly realize that any teasing would be hypocrisy right now. Oikawa clutches Hajime’s arm tighter as they proceed up the stairs, and even now, in the face of possible death or discovery by the thud, Hajime can’t stop thinking about how fucking nice it feels. This is just unfair.
The thud is followed by a series of increasingly loud meows, and Hajime feels himself relax. It’s just Oikawa’s cats- even if they do figure out what’s going on, it’s not like they can tell anyone. The two cats skid to a halt at the top of the stairs, the chubby Ragdoll Luna followed by the much smaller black Pluto. (Hajime’s always suspected that the two are named after Sailor Moon, but he’s never managed to get Oikawa to admit to it. Well, at least he didn’t name them “Alien-chan” or something characteristically idiotic like that.) Hajime smiles as he reaches the top of the stairs, extending his hand for the cats to sniff. They’ve accepted him as another family member- well, Pluto likes him as much as she ever likes anyone, at a level that never quite stretches past “tolerance”. Luna adores him, but Luna adores everything, including random crumpled candy wrappers.
Luna sniffs Hajime’s hand and sneezes. She pads over to Oikawa, sniffs his hand, sneezes again, and flops over onto her back, as she habitually does when confronted with anything more confusing than a plate of food. Pluto sniffs each of their hands, looks up at them with an expression of utter betrayal, and then bites Hajime.
“Ow, what the fuck,” he says eloquently, shaking his hand out. The bite didn’t break the skin, he sees, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell.
“Do you think they can tell?” Oikawa asks quietly, trying to avoid drawing Pluto’s attention. “Do we smell different?” In the background, Luna sneezes again.
Hajime shrugs, still preoccupied by the small circles of pain on his hand. “Maybe… Or maybe it’s just normal Friday behavior for them. Your cats are weird.”
“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa hisses. “My cats are perfect!”
Hajime looks darkly down at the bite mark. “Keep telling yourself that.”
“No wonder Pluto bit you when you talk about her like that- ow, bad cat, bad cat.” Oikawa shakes his own freshly-bitten hand. Hajime bites back a snort as Pluto stalks off, point made.
Luna’s been sniffing the air; now, she gets up decisively and jumps at Hajime, landing to his shirt and clinging there. She meows loudly as he grabs her, one hand supporting her body and the other gently petting her head and ears. Oikawa huffs. “Why does she always like you better?”
“Because I’m better than you, obviously,” Hajime says, pretending to be serious.
“Hmph. It’s just because you spoil her and give her too many treats.”
Luna hears the word “treats” and an even louder meow splits the air. Her enormous blue eyes look at Hajime, begging him, and he feels his heart melt. Maybe one of Oikawa’s cats is perfect. “Hey, do you have any of those treats-” “MEOW”- “she likes?”
Oikawa rolls his eyes. “Iwa-chan, you’re the reason she’s going to weigh twelve kilos someday.”
“Look at her, she’s hungry.” Hajime turns the cat so that Oikawa can see her pathetic face- surely even he can’t fail to be moved by a cat who’s this clearly starving. Poor Luna, all alone and so, so hungry…
“My mom fed her less than an hour ago. She’s just greedy.”
Hajime covers Luna’s ears. “Don’t say stuff like that about her, asshole!”
Oikawa snorts. “Do you really think she can understand words more complicated than ‘treats’?”
“Just go get her the treats, Assikawa. She deserves them after having to hear this shit.”
“I’m sending her next vet bill to you.”
Several treats later, they’ve finally made it into Oikawa’s room. They sit down in front of the computer, and as it boots up, there’s nothing for Hajime to do but stare at Oikawa’s face. Or, well, his own face. He’s started to give up on defining the difference. It’s so fucking frustrating, he thinks, that even when Oikawa looks exactly like him he’s still attracted to him; Oikawa’s personality, egotism and pettiness and idiocy included, is just so fucking beautiful that Hajime could never not be attracted to him, even if he looked like Deadpool does under his mask. He’s hit by a wave of longing as intense as any he’s ever known, and then, with an electric shock that tingles down his spine, he realizes that now could be the time. Oikawa’s staring intensely at the screen, not talking for once, so he can’t get interrupted like last time. He opens his mouth and takes a deep breath- and then shuts it again as the enormity of what he’s about to do hits him. He bites his lip hard, feeling like his breath is stuck in his lungs. No matter what the answer is, they’re about to change- their relationship won’t ever be exactly the same again. And maybe he’s not ready for the way they are to end yet, so maybe it’s better to just…
No. He feels a phantom hand on his back, pushing him forwards. These are pre-match jitters, he tells himself- no matter what excuses he comes up with, the only real way to get rid of them is to walk out onto the court and play his best. He’s going to win this, and even if he doesn’t, he and Oikawa will still be on the same team. He opens his mouth just as Oikawa opens his own to break the silence, and fuck that, he’s been waiting too long, so he goes ahead anyway-
“So Iwa-chan, what should we search fo-”
“Do you like me?”
Oikawa’s voice dies in his throat as he makes a rather unpleasant choking sound. His eyes widen in an expression Hajime doesn’t think he’s ever seen on his own face before- part fear, part guilt. It only lasts for a few seconds before it’s covered up with a plasticky smile, but that’s all that Hajime needs to remember with a jolt that when Oikawa had asked Hajime if he liked him, Hajime had answered with something close enough to no that anyone who wasn’t reading his mind would think he actually had said no. He’s doing this all wrong, fuck- he can briefly see the future laid out in front of him, or at least the next few minutes of it. Even if Oikawa does like him, he’ll breezily deny any feelings- “Haha, don’t be silly, Iwa-chan, who would ever like you?”-, Hajime will feel his heart breaking, they’ll patch over the awkwardness somehow, and absolutely nothing will change. Hajime realizes with a start that he doesn’t want that after all. They need to change, one way or the other. He has to fix this.
“Because… When I told you I didn’t like you earlier, that was… kind of… not the truth,” he continues before Oikawa gets a chance to respond, purposely avoiding the other boy’s eyes. He’s excruciatingly aware of the fact that he’s never sounded stupider or had a harder time finding words in his entire life. He plows through anyway, because this confession probably can’t get more awkward-sounding from a starting point like that, and it definitely can’t be worse than “my heart belongs to Iwa-chan”, so really, he’s already hit rock bottom today. “I do. Um. Like you. Romantically.” It’s getting hard to speak- he thinks his windpipe has decided to go on strike to prevent him from sounding any more awkward than he already does. He should have written a letter like Sakura-san from earlier, goddammit, he thinks wildly. Maybe without the lipstick kiss, though.
He looks back up at Oikawa very slowly after a few seconds of dead silence, feeling the same vague sense of dread that he gets right before a jump scare in horror movies. What he finds isn’t quite as bad as whatever the worst parts of his brain was expecting- it’s not disgust or horror, at least. It’s almost pensive, actually. Hajime would say that it looks like Oikawa’s gone so far into shock that he’s come out the other side. Hajime has to ball his hands into fists to help him withstand the urge to run. As the silence stretches out longer and longer, Hajime starts thinking wildly- maybe if he joins the yakuza and then gets caught by the police and cooperates fully with them, he’ll be put in the witness protection program and he won’t ever have to think about this life again and how badly he maybe just fucked up. Sure, being in the yakuza might involve murder and cutting parts of his own fingers off, but the longer Oikawa goes without fucking answering him, the more that starts to feel like an appropriate option-
“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says suddenly, voice hoarse, “you’re a dumbass.”
“I know,” Hajime answers whole-heartedly. Usually he’d fight, but he’s done nothing but fuck up this entire day, and the term has never seemed more applicable. “...Um, why?”
Oikawa’s voice gets much gruffer than usual in what’s evidently a Hajime impersonation, apparently forgetting that everything he says comes out in Hajime’s voice anyway. “‘You are so full of yourself, thinking everyone likes you’... You made me go through the whole afternoon thinking you’d never like me back. I was broken-hearted, Iwa-chan, and now you’re telling me all that was for nothing?”
All Hajime can think to say for a second is “Oh.” Oikawa’s eyes are shining with unshed tears but the rest of his face is shining with incredulous happiness. It’s so bright that Hajime has to duck his head again, the worst blush yet appearing on his cheeks- he might actually be luminescent as well. “Sorry,” he mutters, the pieces falling into place in his head at long last. “I was scared… I thought you would hate me.”
“Dumbass,” Oikawa says again, sounding possibly more like Hajime than he’s sounded all day. “I never would. I like you too much.”
Hajime can’t feel his heartbeat anymore; he wonders deliriously if maybe he’s ascended onto another plane where heartbeats aren’t needed and he’s sustained by the fluttering force of happiness alone. “Oh,” he says again, his vocabulary temporarily reduced to the bare minimum. “So… does this mean we’re together now?”
“If you want to be,” says Oikawa, suddenly sounding a bit shy.
It’s Hajime’s turn now to say “dumbass. I’ve liked you for almost a year, of course I want to be together.”
“I’ve liked you for two years,” Oikawa says, sounding half-desperate and half-smug about his seniority.
“God, we’re both dumbasses.” Hajime buries his face in his hands. “We could have had this for so long…”
Suddenly there are strong hands on his own, pulling them away from his face and tilting his chin up. “Let’s make up for lost time?” Oikawa suggests, warmth glinting in his eyes as he leans in to kiss Hajime. Hajime surges up to meet him.
Hajime has always thought that descriptions of first kisses were overly-flowery metaphors- of course there aren’t really fireworks, or choirs of angels singing, or whatever the hell too-romantic idiots say. But he’s discovering to his surprise that maybe he didn’t give the idiots enough credit. As Oikawa’s slightly-chapped lips press softly against his, he can see bright sparks of golden light against the inside of his closed eyelids, and even though he knows he’s still kneeling on the ground, he could swear that he’s floating up off the ground along with Oikawa. He can even hear a choir of angelic voices somewhere in the background, not that he’s paying much attention to them- the way Oikawa’s lips move against his, the fact that he’s kissing Oikawa, is much more salient right now than any of the magical fireworks or background music or anything else. He can’t remember ever being this happy.
The sounds and the lights die away as he opens his eyes, although shimmers of gold dust linger in the room- it’s a surprisingly persistent metaphor, he thinks- and he feels himself return to the ground. He grins at Oikawa, a shaky “that was amazing” falling from his lips.
Oikawa’s grinning back like a million-watt lightbulb, looking just as pleased as Hajime is himself. “You need kissing lessons, Iwa-chan,” he says, his voice trembling a little as well. “You made me do all the work. I have a lot to teach you.”
“Don’t criticize me after our first kiss, asshole,” says Hajime, fighting down the urge to stick out his tongue. “The only reason I don’t have experience is that I didn’t wanna kiss someone who wasn’t you.”
“Iwa-chan is so sweet,” says Oikawa, sounding honestly shocked, and it takes Hajime seeing Oikawa’s blush turn his pale cheeks fiery red for the four hundredth time today to realize that he’s looking at Oikawa’s cheeks again, not his own with Oikawa somehow inside them. He looks down at his hands and sees the stubby, bitten-down nails he’s used to, with no sign of Oikawa’s long and delicate hands. Somehow, they’re back to normal. Hajime wonders if maybe this was what all the fireworks were about after all.
“Hey, we’re us again,” he says, causing Oikawa’s eyes to widen. Hajime guesses the other boy had been too wrapped up in the kiss to notice anything either. Oikawa raises his hand up to his eyes, examining it theatrically, before he grins. “Ah, I’m pretty again! And tall! I feel so free...”
“I’m breaking up with you,” Hajime says flatly.
“No you’re not,” Oikawa grins, utterly radiant. “You liiiiiiiiiike me.”
“You’re a shithead,” Hajime responds, not actually denying it.
Oikawa chooses not to deny that either, moving on. “Wait, so why are we ourselves again? Did we just have to kiss?”
“I guess so?” Hajime responds. “Don’t ask me, I still don’t get why the fuck any of this happened.”
“I told you, it was the ali-” Oikawa cuts himself off mid-sentence with a dramatic gasp. “Iwa-chan, it was the aliens, this proves it!”
Hajime gives him a blank stare. “How does this prove anything?”
Oikawa looks away, slightly embarrassed. “Well, last night… I wished for Iwa-chan to confess to me. And now you did, and we’re back, so there’s no other explanation!”
Hajime bristles. “Hey, I confessed myself, I didn’t need some shitty alien’s help. That took a lot of effort, you know!” He doesn’t quite want to admit exactly how hard it was to get those simple words out, or how much time he spent overthinking it, but it still stings for Oikawa to act like it was the aliens who did everything- not that aliens even exist, of course.
“I know, Iwa-chan,” says Oikawa, quickly and soothingly. “That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that maybe if this hadn’t happened the way it did, you wouldn’t have confessed today. Maybe it would have taken longer, and we’d still just be wishing on stars.”
Hajime’s about to protest that too, but then he thinks about everything that today made him see in a whole new light. He thinks he would have gotten there in the end- the signs were too big for even him to miss out on forever- but… he doesn’t think they’d be right here right now without this. And suddenly, he remembers his own wish, and the picture of Oikawa’s lips on his that had flashed into his mind the second before he’d decided to wish to be taller. Maybe… Maybe Oikawa has a little bit more of a point than usual.
Still, it’s not like he’ll let him know that. He scoffs instead, saying “I still think alien matchmakers might be the craziest theory I’ve ever heard. It’s worse than that bullshit Ancient Aliens show.”
“Ancient Aliens is an intellectual masterpiece.”
“Holy shit, I’m dating an idiot.”
Oikawa grins. “You’re dating me,” he replies, saying it like he still can't believe it.
“That’s what I said,” Hajime replies, grinning too.
“Hey, do you think if we kiss again we’ll switch bodies again?”
Hajime thinks it over for about a tenth of a second before deciding that he doesn’t give a shit. “I’ll risk it.”
Their second kiss has none of the fireworks, or the floating feeling, or the angelic choir of the first- okay, maybe those weren’t actually supposed to be there in the first place and the poets are full of bullshit after all. Both of them agree that it’s just as good without all the extras, though.
They spend the rest of the day together, just like they were planning. Instead of spending it glued to Google, trying to figure out what would make two people minding their own business suddenly swap bodies, though, they spend it in a delirious cloud of euphoria, kissing each other out of the blue at least every five minutes. Oikawa’s missed out on his chance to try agedashi tofu with Hajime’s tastebuds, so instead they go to a ramen shop, where Oikawa insists on trying to feed Hajime ramen and then having Hajime feed him ramen because he thinks it’s something couples should do. Hajime’s sure that no one in the whole shop doubts that they’re together by the time they walk out an hour later, somewhat stained with ramen broth from dripping noodles. (Hajime pays- he keeps his promises.) They then move to Oikawa’s couch, where Hajime discovers that it’s just as much fun to beat your boyfriend at Mario Kart as it is to beat your best friend at Mario Kart, especially when said boyfriend demands kisses as a consolation prize. And Hajime sleeps over at Oikawa’s house, spending his second consecutive night in Oikawa’s bed. It’s much nicer with Oikawa clinging to him, he reflects, as they lie awake that night, neither quite ready to go to sleep and leave this day behind despite how tired they are.
“Hey, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa says through a yawn.
Hajime hums softly in response.
“You know you were right, with what you said earlier. Even though you made me look ridiculous in front of half my fans.”
Hajime’s not facing Oikawa, but he can almost hear Oikawa’s smile. “My heart does belong to Iwa-chan.”
Hajime buries his face in the pillow, unable to cope with having an exasperating, infuriating, wonderful boyfriend who can do things like this to his heart with just a few words. “Shut up,” he mutters into the pillow. “You’re sappy and embarrassing.”
Oikawa kisses the back of his neck, laughing. “You’re the one who said it in the first place. You’re sappy and embarrassing, Iwa-chan. Just accept it.”
“...You’re still worse, though.”
“Ha, you can’t even deny it,” Oikawa says triumphantly. “My dumb sappy boyfriend.”
“Shut up and go to sleep,” Hajime mumbles, feeling an irrepressible smile spread across his face despite his words. He might have to deny it for the sake of deflating Oikawa’s ego, or for the sake of not actually exploding in embarrassment, but maybe he is a little sappy. He can’t stop having fleeting thoughts cross his mind, things like how Oikawa might just be the best thing that ever happened to him, how he’s his other half, how he’s never been luckier than the day that a little boy with fluffy brown hair and a volleyball approached him in the park and asked him to play. As Oikawa’s breathing evens out, his arms wrapped around Hajime’s middle creating a warm ring of comfort and safety, Hajime thinks that he wouldn’t trade all the mortification and awkwardness of today for the world. It brought him the best thing he’s ever had, after all.
And if later that night he stares up at the countless, unknowable stars and silently thanks the aliens…
Well. No one has to know.
Wow, this is finally the end of the final chapter... It took me something like 13 months but I actually wrote a completed chapter fic, I can't believe it! I wanted to thank everyone who stuck with me on this long ride- I hope you all have had as much fun as I had and I hope the long breaks in between updates didn't hurt you as much as they hurt me. This fic has meant so much to me and helped me meet a lot of my amazing fandom friends and I feel really privileged as a writer to be able to get the love and support that I have from this beautiful fandom!
Finally, I want to dedicate this fic to my amazing and beautiful QP Theresa, who started reading this fic before she even met me- I hope you enjoy the ending as much as you enjoyed the beginning and maybe a fraction as much as I enjoy talking to you every single day and having the privilege of knowing you and being your QP. I also want to dedicate it to my beautiful meme Alice, who loves and supports this fic even though their OTP isn't Iwaoi anymore (I hope you enjoyed the Matsuhana, you meme) and is an amazingly supportive and loving person who makes life so much more bearable. I love you guys and now the whole world knows how gay I am for you <3
Thank you so much, everyone! I hope I'll see you again in the end notes of another fic someday!