Out of all of their friends, everyone in the school knows that Iwaizumi is the responsible, morally upright, dependable ace of Aoba Johsai. He’s the one who pounds on Oikawa’s bathroom door in the mornings so they can get to practice on time, the one who makes sure all the underclassmen are being treated right, the one who people ask to pick up homework for them when they’re out sick.
So he doesn’t think his entire volleyball team would betray him on the one afternoon he comes in late to practice, because a teacher asked him to help carry some textbooks to her office.
Iwaizumi takes a deep breath. He lets it out again and says very calmly, “What do you mean I have to take Oikawa out on a date.”
“Not take him out on a date,” Hanamaki says, grinning. “Date him.”
Mizoguchi grimaces in the exact way Iwaizumi wants to, and waves a hand at him. “I don’t care what you do—just take care of it, Iwaizumi,” the coach says and walks off to his office, rubbing his temples. “I’m too old for this.”
Iwaizumi glares at his team from where they’re perched on the bleachers, and apparently in deep discussion before he came into the gym. “What the hell.”
“Well, you know how out of control Oikawa’s fangirls get around volleyball season, and our first game is in three weeks,” Hanamaki says from where he’s sitting next to Matsukawa. “So they got excited and were being a little...disruptive.”
“Understatement of the year,” Kyoutani mutters. He shifts in his crouch by the floor, looking more like a delinquent than a volleyball player.
“My fangirls are wonderful, supportive people,” Oikawa protests from the side of the bleachers where he leans against a support bar. His face flushes pink, which could be because he’s embarrassed, upset, or both.
“It took fifteen minutes to get them all out,” Kyoutani says.
“Mad Dog-chan is just jealous!”
“So how the fuck did you go from getting rid of Oikawa’s fangirls to this?” Iwaizumi interrupts. He folds his arms across his chest and gives his best disapproving look at the rest of the team.
Most of the underclassmen have the shame to look away. Oikawa continues pouting. Matsukawa and Hanamaki do not look in the least repentant.
“Coach told us to find a solution,” Matsukawa says, leaning back far enough in his seat that he can prop his elbows onto the bench in the row behind him.
“So we started thinking, and well, the only time Oikawa has ever not trailed fangirls was that time he dated that one girl—what’s her name—for like three days back in spring,” Hanamaki says.
“It was five days,” Oikawa protests.
“That’s not something to brag about,” Iwaizumi tells him. Despite his hoard of fangirls, Oikawa has only ever said yes to one confession, and that relationship didn’t last past a school week—apparently he had refused to go on any dates with her, refused to hold her hand, refused to walk her home, refused to initiate any texts or phonecalls, and generally refused to do any of the normal boyfriend duties that any guy should be more than happy to do for his girlfriend. She had gotten so mad that she dumped him publicly. Oikawa’s popularity suffered for a blissful, peaceful week before the girls came back in droves.
Oikawa pouts harder.
“Point is, his fangirls know to back off if he’s taken, so we decided Oikawa has to date someone,” Hanamaki says.
“Which is not cool cause I can’t just date a poor girl for a few weeks and dump her after the match,” Oikawa says. “See how heartless they are, Iwa-chan!”
“You shut up,” Iwaizumi tells him. “This is all your fault.”
Oikawa crosses his arms and pouts.
“Yeah, so our hopeless captain brought that up, and we’re not cruel. We wouldn’t inflict Oikawa on a girl who actually likes him and shatter all of her dreams about the male race,” Hanamaki says and grins, wide and and mischievous. “So obviously Oikawa has to fake date someone who knows how awful he is. Preferably someone who already spends a ton of time with him so innocent bystanders don’t have to suffer. Someone who would sacrifice his own health and well-being for the good of the team—”
Oikawa screeches in protest.
“Someone like our dependable vice-captain,” Matsukawa finishes.
“I reject this decision,” Iwaizumi says immediately. “I already have to put up with him enough as is.”
“You’re all so mean to Oikawa-san!” Oikawa complains, red-faced and pouting. He’s starting to go from fake offended and actually hurt.
“Too bad. We voted and it’s unanimous. Practice time, everyone!” Hanamaki claps and gets up, striding down the bleacher seats and putting a hand on Iwaizumi’s shoulder. “Congrats on your fake boyfriend.”
“Thank you for your sacrifice,” Matsukawa adds and does the same, patting him twice on the shoulder.
Yahaba shrugs as he gets to his feet. “Coach’s orders,” he says.
“Someone’s gotta do it,” Watari says and jogs off to stretch with Yahaba. “Sorry, senpai.”
“Your funeral,” Kyoutani mutters.
Kindaichi is the only one who has enough common human decency to look guilty about it. “S-Sorry, Iwaizumi-senpai,” he says. “They said it was the only way, and coach was really angry.”
Iwaizumi can’t stay mad at that puppy-dog face. “Don’t worry about it, Kindaichi,” he says, patting him on the back. “I’ve been dealing with Oikawa’s crap our whole lives.”
Kindaichi goes scarlet and opens his mouth just as Oikawa suddenly throws himself off the bleachers so Iwaizumi has to scramble and catch him. “What the hell, Shittykawa?” he shouts.
Oikawa pouts. “You can’t call your boyfriend names,” he says. “Don’t worry, I don’t expect much from someone as unromantic as you, Iwa-chan.” He waves a hand dismissively. “For our first date, dinner and a movie will be fine.”
Iwaizumi throws Oikawa off of him. “I blame you for this,” he tells him and ignores Oikawa’s sputtering protests behind him.
Iwaizumi has no intention of actually going along with his team’s hare-brained schemes to enforce Oikawa’s pre-game celibacy. He rethinks his options when they exit the gym after practice and are promptly mobbed by a group of twenty-some girls all fighting for Oikawa’s attention as though he might pick one of them at random to be his girlfriend.
“There’s your cue, Boyfriend-san,” Hanamaki says which is all the warning Iwaizumi gets before he’s shoved onto Oikawa.
He doesn’t even have time to debate whether or not to do this before Oikawa’s already lacing their fingers together and waving at the girls. “Sorry girls, I’m dating Iwa-chan now and he’ll get jealous if you’re here all the time,” he says apologetically. “But the team appreciates your support so come out to our match, okay?” He waves at them as Iwaizumi drags him away by their joined hands.
“What the hell,” Iwaizumi says.
“Coach’s orders,” Oikawa says when they’re far enough away from the crowd and heading outside the school gates. He swings their hands as they walk.
“Aren’t you upset about this?” Iwaizumi asks. Oikawa is nothing if not vain, and he loves having an entourage of fangirls around to fan his fragile ego.
“Hm?” Oikawa hums. “Not really. It’s just until we win the match!” he says cheerfully and swings their hands a little higher. “Meanwhile you get all my attention just for yourself, Iwa-chan!”
“Ugh, what a curse,” Iwaizumi says.
“Rude!” Oikawa says, and then his hand-swinging slows. They’re far enough from the school and close enough to the train station, that they don’t see many people wearing their school uniform. Oikawa’s grip starts to slack although he doesn’t let go of Iwaizumi’s hand entirely. “Are you...if you’re really not okay with this, I’ll talk to the team,” he says after a moment. He gnaws on his bottom lip and looks away to the side, his steps slowing.
Oikawa likes to act dramatic and arrogant, but underneath it all, he’s a sensitive baby prone to overthinking, so Iwaizumi tightens his grip around Oikawa’s fingers and pulls him along down the road. “Like you said, it’s just until the match,” he says.
“Okay.” Oikawa smiles at him, cheeks tinged pink, and involuntarily, Iwaizumi tightens his hand around Oikawa’s in a squeeze. He lets go once they enter the train station because there’s no one around for them to pretend in front of anymore.
The one time Oikawa said yes to a confession back in the spring, it had taken most of the week they were dating for the fangirls to accept the fact that Oikawa was taken and give up. Iwaizumi expects at least that long if not longer before the rumors sufficiently spread for Oikawa’s fangirl crowd to thin.
So he’s surprised when he walks into the gym the next day, and not a fangirl is in sight. “Where are they all? Rumors can’t have spread that quickly,” Iwaizumi says.
“You must have been very convincing,” Matsukawa says, grinning.
“Even with Oikawa’s one-week real girlfriend, it took awhile for most of the fangirls to believe they were really dating,” Hanamaki says.
“That’s cause Oikawa refused to even hold her hand,” Matsukawa says.
“True. You must have really convinced them, Boyfriend-san,” Hanamaki says.
“Who the hell—”
“Warm up!” Mizoguchi blows the whistle. He gives a short nod to Iwaizumi. “Keep up the good work,” he says.
It’s the first time no screaming fangirls have interrupted practice all quarter long.
Iwaizumi knows he’s a terrible liar, so he’s somewhat concerned whether or not the team thinks this is a good idea, they won’t be able to pull it off. He’s not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that it’s surprisingly easy, because they really don’t do too much differently. They live next door to one another so in the mornings, Iwaizumi already picks Oikawa up so they can go to school together. Holding hands when they enter the school gate is kind of embarrassing, but not much of an inconvenience otherwise.
Iwaizumi, Matsukawa, and Hanamaki are in the same class, so instead of staying in his own classroom, Oikawa already invades their classroom at lunchtime. So it’s nothing out of the ordinary for them to eat lunch together, for Iwaizumi to stick his tomatoes into Oikawa’s bento, and for Oikawa to give Iwaizumi his carrots. Apart from allowing Oikawa to use his shoulder as a pillow every so often, everything is the same except that girls stop calling Oikawa out into the corridor to confess.
Volleyball practice also goes smoother without the distractions. He and Oikawa are as in sync as ever, and without the interruptions, progress goes much faster than usual as the team improves their timing, strength, and strategy. The coaches look happy, their team looks happy, and Oikawa looks happy too. In fact, he seems more cheerful than ever when he swings their joined hands or leans into Iwaizumi’s chest when they’re sitting on the bleachers for a breather.
Nothing much changes at home either. He and Oikawa continue to spend their afternoons doing homework at one anothers’ houses, beating each other at video games, and generally doing all the things they normally do when they hang out. Iwaizumi hadn’t really been worried things might be awkward when they’re alone and back to being just Iwaizumi and Oikawa, but it’s nice to know he’s right. There’s barely a transition between their fake-dating school day to their real-friendship home life.
The only deviation from normalcy is on Sunday night when Iwaizumi invites Oikawa out for their usual once-a-week outside hang-out. It started back in junior high, when Oikawa chronically overworked himself, so to help enforce at least one rest day a week, Iwaizumi started dragging him out to make sure he got a break. Usually, this means treating themselves out to a restaurant, or spending a few hours at an arcade when there’s some toy Oikawa really wants to win. Sometimes, they’ll invite other friends and go to an amusement park, or take a day trip to the beach or city. When Iwaizumi can convince him, they’ll play with other sports clubs, although it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth. Oikawa, despite being athletic too, always needs cajoling and bribing before he’ll play any sport that isn’t volleyball, and even then, spends the whole game negatively comparing everything to his favorite sport until Iwaizumi wants to throttle him.
It’s chilly this Sunday and Iwaizumi still has a lot of schoolwork, so Iwaizumi opts for the easy option and invites Oikawa to try out a new korean soondubu place. He thinks nothing of their plans until he goes to pick up his best friend next door and finds him abnormally dressed up—nice slacks, collar shirt, clean peacoat, and scarf.
Oikawa greets him at the door, rosy-cheeked and happy. “Bye! I’m going out with Iwa-chan!” he announces.
“Have a good time,” his mother calls back.
“Why are you so dressed up?” Iwaizumi asks as they walk down the street. He’s thumbing through google maps on his phone to find the location of the restaurant.
Oikawa is undeniably vain and spends a gross amount of time primping in the morning, but his beauty routine stops at personal grooming. On days he doesn’t have to go out, nothing anyone says can convince Oikawa to change out of ratty old T-shirts and sweatpants that his mom keeps trying to throw out. The only reason Oikawa has a wardrobe at all, is because both his mother and older sister constantly buy him nice clothes that he ungratefully leaves to gather dust in his closet. So that he went out of his way to dress up is highly suspicious.
Oikawa tucks his hand into the crook of Iwaizumi’s elbow and he has that pure, sweet smile on his face that’s both extremely rare and extremely beautiful. “It’s our first date, isn’t it?” he says.
Iwaizumi gives him a sideways glance. “What.”
Oikawa beams at him but looks a little uncertain now. “Our first date,” he says. He raises one gloved finger. “We’re dating now—”
“Fake dating for your fangirls,” Iwaizumi corrects.
“And we’re going out just the two of us.” Oikawa holds up a second finger. “And if we run into anyone we know—which we probably will because I am beloved and my fans are everywhere—”
“Shut up,” Iwaizumi says.
“We’re on a date!” Oikawa says, triumphant, and snuggles closer. “Be nice to me. I’m your fake boyfriend.”
Iwaizumi rolls his eyes but lets him hang off his arm. “You’re a menace,” he says.
“Your menace.” Oikawa beams at him, genuine and happy again. “Iwa-chan is the best boyfriend to pay for our first date.”
“Oi, I never said—”
“The best boyfriend.” Oikawa laughs and leans into him. He smells sweet like cologne.
To Iwaizumi’s annoyance, they really do run into a gaggle of Oikawa’s fangirls at the soondubu restaurant who start eyeing them as soon as they walk through the doors. Oikawa waves at them and snuggles closer to Iwaizumi.
“They’re really going to think we’re a couple of you keep acting like this,” Iwaizumi says as they weave their way through the restaurant. It’s a new shop with hip, cafe-style of decor all in a warm walnut and red color scheme. They’ve decorated for ambience with white lights and fresh flowers at every table, so it’s not a surprise that they’ve managed to attract crowds of girls and couples in. In fact, apart from one family with young kids, almost all the other tables seat groups of girls or couples.
“Isn’t that the point?” Oikawa says. He stays standing by the table and raises an eyebrow at Iwaizumi when he sits down.
“What?” Iwaizumi says. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Aren’t you going to pull my seat out for me?” Oikawa asks. The smirk on his face is pissing Iwaizumi off, but the fangirls are watching, so Iwaizumi has no choice but to get up and pull Oikawa’s seat out for him. “What a gentleman,” Oikawa says. He primly spreads a napkin on his lap.
“You’re an asshole,” Iwaizumi mutters. “If those girls weren’t here—”
“Iwa-chan, I’m helping you become less of a heathen,” Oikawa says. “Be grateful for Oikawa-sensei.”
Iwaizumi kicks him under the table and gets a satisfying yelp.
Oikawa pouts at him. “I was going to pay for dessert, but I changed my mind,” he sniffs.
Apart from Oikawa’s annoying antics, the rest of the “date” progresses exactly like their normal rest-day hang out. They eat, talk about a series of random topics, and Oikawa bitches for a full fifteen minutes about how they’re going to make Ushijima cry this upcoming season. It’s so normal that Iwaizumi completely forgets that they’re still being watched by a group of fangirls until he gets up to use the restroom.
On his way back, he sees three girls crowded around Oikawa.
“Sorry girls, no selfies or Iwa-chan might get jealous,” Oikawa is saying.
One of the girls sighs. “Well, it was inevitable, I guess.”
“It was only a matter of time before you two got together,” the second says and giggles. “You’re really cute. Congratulations, Oikawa-san.”
Iwaizumi strides up to the table before they can say anymore, and the girls smile and wave at Iwaizumi before leaving. “What did they want?” he asks.
Oikawa’s go half-lidded and sly, and he grins in the way that has Iwaizumi telling himself that he can’t smack Oikawa in the face, because they’re technically supposed to be on a date. The girls will probably take that as domestic abuse even if it’s entirely justified and any court of law would undoubtedly exonerate him. “Were you jealous, Iwa-chan?”
Iwaizumi gives him his most done look. “Of what?”
Oikawa pouts. “So unromantic,” he complains and shrugs. “They wanted to take a last selfie with me,” he says. “But I told them I’m all Iwa-chan’s now.”
Iwaizumi expects him to go on some more about how the girls love him, and how Iwaizumi is lucky to have him, but instead, Oikawa trails off and just smiles at him. He has a look on his face that’s soft and open, and usually only there when he’s particularly sleepy and in a very good mood.
Having that look directed at him is making Iwaizumi uncomfortable so he clears his throat and shoves the menu at his friend. “You wanted dessert, right?” he says.
“Are we doing anything after this?” Oikawa asks as he takes the menu, flipping it over until he finds the dessert page.
“I didn’t have anything planned,” Iwaizumi says, leaning back in his chair. “Why? Did you want to do something?”
“Let’s go watch a movie.” Oikawa looks up from the menu. “There’s this new alien one that came out last week—”
“No, we watched that shitty alien movie you wanted to see last time—”
“No, last time we watched that super cliche action flick you wanted to see,” Oikawa says. “The one I literally can’t remember the plot to cause there was no plot—just explosions.”
“There was a plot,” Iwaizumi argues. “The team had to go save that main guy’s family.”
“The point is, you have crap taste in movies, and it’s my turn to choose,” Oikawa says.
“That’s rich coming from you.” Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. “Fine. Maybe next time,” he says. “It’s late enough today and we have a full week of extra practices next week. I want to finish my homework and sleep at a reasonable hour.”
“You are such an old man,” Oikawa says and yelps when Iwaizumi kicks him under the table again. “And a brute too,” he says. “Use your words, Iwa-chan.”
“I will leave you here to pay the bill,” Iwaizumi tells him.
Oikawa pouts. “Fine, but I expect a better real date next time,” he says.
Iwaizumi gives his most exasperated sigh. “The things I put up with for the good for the team,” he says, ignoring Oikawa’s outraged squeal.
But he ends up paying for dinner, and he lets Oikawa swing their joined hands as they walk home afterwards. If this is what all dates are like, Iwaizumi has no idea why people get so worked up over them—this is easy and comfortable, and if that’s all it is, Iwaizumi thinks he might have no problem keeping up this charade.
Iwaizumi’s not sure if the fake date counts as a success or a failure, because Oikawa gets about a thousand times worse after that. He hadn’t realized that Oikawa was holding back that first week—either because he was uncomfortable with it or for some other reason, but come Monday, he has no problem acting like the world’s most high maintenance boyfriend.
Iwaizumi picks him up for school in the morning, but as soon as they leave the house, Oikawa laces their fingers together all the way to the station and ignores all of Iwaizumi’s attempts to shake him off. On the train, Oikawa insists that it’s boyfriend duty for Iwaizumi to shield him from potential perverts and the general crowd. He ignores all of Iwaizumi’s arguments that Oikawa has defended himself just fine for the last eighteen years, and anyway, Oikawa is a tall, athletic, young man and any pervert would think twice before trying to grope him, and whines until Iwaizumi gives in and stands as a human shield. They enter the school holding hands, go to practice where Iwaizumi throws at least five volleyballs at Oikawa’s stupid head before practice ends, and Oikawa insists Iwaizumi has to wait for him to shower and then walk him to his first class. He tops off the worst morning Iwaizumi has had in awhile by pressing a kiss to Iwaizumi’s cheek before darting into his classroom. The horrifyingly loud shrieks of the girls watching really does give Iwaizumi a headache.
The only saving grace is the volleyball captain meeting that Oikawa has with the coaches during lunch, so at least Iwaizumi doesn’t have to deal with his clinging and whining there.
“What the hell is wrong with him,” Iwaizumi says, digging his bento out as Matsukawa and Hanamaki arrange their chairs around his desk like they always do. “He’s being even more annoying than usual.”
“What do you mean? It’s so relaxing not having Oikawa’s fangirls around,” Hanamaki comments as he arranges the food in his bento to spread all the elements out. He takes out the cucumbers to pile in one corner of his bento lid, the hot dog octopuses in another corner, and the karaage in a third. Then he methodically mixes all the rice and furikake together in the bento.
“That’s a fucking weird habit,” Iwaizumi says, watching him.
“No, eating everything all together is weird and unnatural,” Hanamaki says. “‘And it’s not like there’re any girls around to judge me.”
“Me and Matsukawa are judging you,” Iwaizumi tells him.
“Neither of you is cute or a girl, so judge all you want,” Hanamaki says dismissively. “I dread the day Oikawa’s fangirls come back.”
Iwaizumi nods. “Not having to track him down for practice is the only good thing in all of this.”
Matsukawa grins and claps Iwaizumi on the shoulder. “That’s right. You don’t have to fight for Oikawa’s attention anymore,” he says, poking a straw through his milk carton.
Hanamaki laughs. “His Iwa-chan’s never had to fight for Oikawa’s attention.”
“What does that mean?” Iwaizumi says absently poking at his own bento that has at least two tomatos that he can see, and unfortunately, Oikawa isn’t here to eat them for him. He picks them out and puts them in the unoccupied corner of Hanamaki’s bento lid.
“You’re enjoying this,” Matsukawa says.
“Enjoying what?” Iwaizumi raises an eyebrow.
“Dating Oikawa,” Matsukawa says.
“No I’m not,” Iwaizumi says and groans. “You don’t know how fucking annoying he was this morning. He kissed me right before class.”
“Wow, that progressed fast,” Matsukawa says, raising an eyebrow. “From fake dating to real dating. Congrats—can’t say I agree with your taste in men, but you do you, Iwaizumi. You do you.” He takes a long slurp from the milk carton.
“Hilarious.” Iwaizumi punches him in the arm so Matsukawa chokes and sputters.
Hanamaki shuffles the tomatoes into a formation apparently more pleasing to him. “Well, sucks for Oikawa then.” He picks up a piece of tomato and pops it in his mouth. “Can’t say he hasn’t tried, though.”
Iwaizumi frowns. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Hanamaki pauses, holding another piece of tomato between his chopsticks. “You’re joking, right?” he says.
Iwaizumi just looks at him.
“You’re joking,” Hanamaki repeats. “Right?” he asks. “Seriously? Even after he kissed you?”
Matsukawa breaks into a wide grin. “I told you he really hasn’t noticed.” He waves a hand at Hanamaki. “Pay up.”
“Damnit,” Hanamaki says, but digs out his wallet to drop 500 yen in Matsukawa’s hand. “I didn’t think he’d seriously be this stupid even after Oikawa kissed him.”
“What the hell,” Iwaizumi says.
“I told you Iwaizumi’s denseness would be stronger than Oikawa’s obvious flirting,” Matsukawa says. “But did you believe me?”
“Sorry, sensei, I will never doubt you or Iwaizumi’s caveman brain ever again,” Hanamaki says, rolling his eyes.
Iwaizumi crosses his arms and waits until they’ve finished their exchange.
Hanamaki turns to him and exhales loudly. “What the hell, Iwaizumi, Oikawa has been in love with you for years,” he says point blank.
Iwaizumi snorts, amused. “No he hasn’t,” he says.
“Yes he has,” Hanamaki insists. “For at least as long as we’ve known you guys.”
Iwaizumi can’t help laughing. “We met at the beginning of highschool,” he says. “Are you forgetting Oikawa’s girlfriend last spring?”
“You mean his super obvious and pathetic attempt to get over you that didn’t even last for a full week?” Hanamaki says.
“He liked her.” Though now that he thinks about it, Iwaizumi can’t even remember the girl’s name—come to think of it, he’s not sure Oikawa has ever told them. For the whole Oikawa had been dating her, he still spent most of his time with the three of them as usual. Still, it makes no sense for Oikawa to accept the confession after years of rejecting girls if he didn’t like her—for all of his faults, Oikawa isn’t mean. He would never intentionally do something he knew would really hurt someone else.
Matsukawa grins and leans back in his chair. “This is why you should never doubt me, Makki,” he says and takes a long sip from his carton.
Hanamaki narrows his eyes at Iwaizumi. “Are you seriously still denying it even after he kissed you this morning?” he says. “He kissed you! Friends don’t just do that!”
“It was just on the cheek,” Iwaizumi says. “A bunch of girls were watching from his class, and Oikawa likes being annoying.”
“You went on a date,” Hanamaki says.
“No we didn’t,” Iwaizumi answers.
“Then what do you call what you did last night?” Hanamaki demands.
“We hung out as usual like we do every weekend,” Iwaizumi says. “We’ve been doing that since junior high. You can hang out with people and not be dating them, Hanamaki.”
Hanamaki massages the bridge of his nose. “Has he even once not tried to hold hands with you on the way home from school then?”
“All of this is fake dating,” Iwaizumi says very slowly because he seems to have trouble getting the concept through his head. “Because you guys made me.”
“Even when there’re no classmates around?” Hanamaki says.
“We even ran into his fangirls at that random restaurant last night,” Iwaizumi points out. “They’re everywhere.”
“Augh, he’s impossible! I give up!” Hanamaki says, throwing his hands up in the air, and then flopping back in his chair as though boneless. “Feed me karaage, Mattsun,” he says.
Matsukawa obediently picks up a piece of karaage from Hanamaki’s bento and drops it into his mouth. “New wager—I bet you 500 yen Oikawa confesses before Iwaizumi realizes we’re right,” he says.
“No way I’m betting against Iwaizumi’s denseness again,” Hanamaki says. “I’m in despair.”
“Fine, I’ll let you win. I bet you 500 yen Iwaizumi realizes we’re right before Oikawa confesses,” Matsukawa says, reversing the terms.
Hanamaki perks up and sits straight, narrow his eyes at Matsukawa. “Deal,” he says and holds out his palm for a handshake.
Matsukawa gives Iwaizumi a slow side-eye, grin, and lazy wink. “Don’t let me down, Hajime,” he says.
Iwaizumi flips him off.
Oikawa comes to their classroom almost as soon as the bell rings, but he doesn’t do anything more annoying than usual but tangle their fingers together as they head to afternoon practice. He chats about how his lunch meeting went and new drills he wants to try all the way to the locker rooms, which is why Iwaizumi lets his guard down.
“Iwa-chan, can we stop by the conbini on the way back? My mom wants me to get some barley tea,” Oikawa says, checking his texts as he drops his bag by his locker.
“Sure,” Iwaizumi says. “Do you also want to go to the bakery? You need to get more milkbread for breakfast, right?”
Oikawa turns and absolutely beams at him. “You remembered!” he says.
“How the hell did you forget? You wouldn’t shut up about it the whole time we were on the train this morning,” Iwaizumi says, frowning, and pulls his shirt over his head, shoving it into his locker.
He expects Oikawa to say something stupid about how delicious milk bread is, but he’s silent for just a beat too long. “What? You’re not going to argue with that?” Iwaizumi turns to look at him and catches it just as Oikawa whips his eyes away, gaze darting up to the ceiling as though he’d just been caught looking at something he shouldn’t.
Oikawa turns to face his locker, face flushed red to the tips of his ears. “Milk bread is the best food that Iwa-chan’s heathen tastebuds just don’t appreciate,” he says.
Normally, Iwaizumi would dismiss the behavior as Oikawa being airheaded, but thanks to his earlier conversation and the whole weird morning, he wonders if it has anything to do with him. He almost immediately writes that off as stupid and vain, both of which are Oikawa’s areas of expertise.
Still, he notices that Oikawa doesn’t look at him again until he’s put his shirt on.
And it doesn’t stop. It’s like once Iwaizumi starts looking for it, it’s everywhere.
Oikawa constantly glances at and touches him even when there’s no real reason for it like when Iwaizumi is helping some of the first years work on their serves, and he turns to call Oikawa to demonstrate his killer serve and finds he’s already staring right at him. Or when Mizoguchi gathers everyone to talk about strategy at the end of practice and Oikawa leans against Iwaizumi on the bleachers and stays with his chin balanced on Iwaizumi’s shoulder the whole time even though he complained about how bad Iwaizumi smells right before. Or when Kyoutani challenges Iwaizumi to another arm wrestling match as they’re finishing up practice, and Oikawa both accepts for him and then massages his shoulders as they sit down to play.
On the way home, Oikawa automatically reaches for Iwaizumi’s hand. At the bakery, he grabs Iwaizumi’s sleeve to show him a particularly cute bread Oikawa wants to try. As they come out of the conbini, Oikawa hands Iwaizumi one of the sports drinks he bought and says Iwa-chan should be grateful for such a good boyfriend.
Oikawa invites himself over to do homework, but falls asleep where he’s sprawled out on the bed until Iwaizumi’s mother calls them down for dinner. Then Oikawa helps her put out all the place settings and spends the whole dinner sucking up to her. He tops it all off by blushing when she says she wishes she had Tooru as a son.
It’s the same thing again the next day—the glances, the touches, the looking pleased anytime someone calls them a couple—and the thing is, it’s not new. It has maybe escalated a bit thanks to Oikawa’s shameless flirting, but really, it’s been like this for years so Iwaizumi never thought to question it until now. But it could, he realizes, also be indications of a crush. He’s seen girls act like this to him, to Oikawa, to their other friends sometimes, if never quite to this extent. But this is also Oikawa who he’s known literally his entire life, and Oikawa used to be so clingy and possessive that he would cry until he threw up if they tried to put him in a different preschool class from Iwaizumi. This could just as easily be Oikawa being stupid for some insecurity or other.
Iwaizumi has never had trouble reading Oikawa and his intentions before, but this time, he really doesn’t know whether it’s just Matsukawa and Hanamaki’s bullshit, or if Oikawa really does have a thing for him.
There’s nothing else to do but put it to the test, Iwaizumi decides.
So he takes Oikawa on a date.
“I’ll take you to dinner and a movie tomorrow night, okay?” Iwaizumi asks Oikawa on their commute to school on Saturday morning. He means for it sounds like a date, and Oikawa picks up on it. “You wanted to watch that awful alien movie, didn’t you?”
“Dinner and a movie?” Oikawa repeats. He flutters his eyelashes. “Why, Iwa-chan, are you asking me on a date?”
Iwaizumi tries to go for nonchalant as he says, “Call it what you want.” He’s not sure if he succeeds, but Oikawa’s eyes widen and his hand tightens where he’s holding Iwaizumi’s arm.
“Where are we going for dinner?” Oikawa asks. He sounds breathless, voice pitched a little higher than usual, the way it does when he’s surprised or excited.
“Ramen,” Iwaizumi says.
“Boo, that’s not romantic at all,” Oikawa says, voice dropping back down to normal cadence. He pouts.
“You love ramen,” Iwaizumi tells him.
“Well yeah, but atmosphere, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says, gesturing with his free hand. “Ramen is where you stop by for a quick dinner. Dates should be to nice restaurants where you dress up and there’s multiple courses and everything.”
Iwaizumi snorts. “You hate dressing up and waiting for food.”
“That’s not true,” Oikawa says.
“I should record your lies so your mom can play it back to you every time you whine about her making you change out of pajamas,” Iwaizumi says.
“Maybe that’s because no one ever gives me an occasion to dress up,” Oikawa says, sniffing. “Maybe if you were nice and invited me on a romantic date, I’d dress up. I dressed up last weekend,” he adds. He’s blushing.
“You can dress up for ramen if you want,” Iwaizumi tells him. “But if you look stupid, that’s your problem.”
“You’re so mean and unappreciative,” Oikawa complains.
He doesn’t think Oikawa will—not for something as normal as ramen and an alien movie—but when he picks him up on Saturday night, Oikawa really does dress up wearing slacks that emphasize his long legs, and a coat Iwaizumi has never seen before. He’s not the only one who notices either, because people’s heads keep turning as they get onto the train. Oikawa preens at the attention, but also sticks close by Iwaizumi, tucking his hand into the crook of Iwaizumi’s elbow “in case of fangirls.” He looks warm and soft and pretty even though he spends the entire ride complaining about how Iwaizumi made him dress up for ramen.
“You didn’t even dress up,” Oikawa says, pouting.
Iwaizumi is wearing a warm jean jacket over a clean sweatshirt and newly washed jeans with no holes in them, which is more effort than he normally puts in if not nearly as much trouble as Oikawa went to. “It’s ramen and a movie, Oikawa,” he says, rolling his eyes. “Why the hell would I dress up.”
“No one will believe we’re dating,” Oikawa says.
“They already all do,” Iwaizumi points out. “Now shut up and choose your ramen,” he tells him, shoving the menu at him. “I’ll pay.”
Iwaizumi chose a ramen restaurant they’ve been frequenting ever since they were kids, and despite his complaints, Oikawa clearly does enjoy his food by the rate he’s eating it. He keeps looking at Iwaizumi with big, round eyes like he’s not quite sure what to make of all of this—especially when Iwaizumi pays for the meal without complaint.
Oikawa’s eyes go even wider when Iwaizumi voluntarily threads their fingers together as they head outside again, and ducks his face into his scarf, mumbling something incoherent. His fingers warm up quickly in Iwaizumi’s grip.
By the time they’re sitting in the theater, though, Oikawa has apparently recovered and is telling Iwaizumi enough trivia about this particular movie to fill several Wikipedia articles. It’s extremely nerdy, and if any of Oikawa’s fangirls saw this particular side of him, Iwaizumi has no doubt they would immediately lose all interest.
“Did you know the lead actor is actually super short?” Oikawa says. “He’s like 163cm. That’s even shorter than you, Iwa-chan—ow!” he protests when Iwaizumi elbows him in the side.
“I’m not that short,” Iwaizumi says.
“Shorter than me,” Oikawa says gleefully.
“I will not hesitate to throw your fat ass out,” Iwaizumi says mildly.
“I am not fat.” Oikawa pouts.
“And I’m not short,” Iwaizumi answers, grinning when Oikawa pouts harder. Then, in a particularly daring move, he puts his arm around the back of Oikawa’s seat rest—partially to see Oikawa’s reaction and partially just to get comfortable. It’s not a new move either. When they’re watching movies at home, Iwaizumi likes spreading out and using the back of the couch as an armrest. But combined with everything else he’s insinuated that night, Iwaizumi is pretty sure that Oikawa will take it the way he’s supposed to take it, and here’s the moment of truth—if Oikawa stiffens up and leans away, he’s not into it, but if he leans back...
Oikawa completely freezes up and goes so red that Iwaizumi can see it even in the dark of the theater. He makes no comment, though, and instead slowly settles back until his head is cushioned on Iwaizumi’s shoulder. He’s biting his lip the way he does when he’s truly pleased and doesn’t want the whole world to know so he has to keep in his smile.
Oikawa leans into Iwaizumi’s shoulder for the entire movie.
Shit, Iwaizumi thinks. Matsukawa and Hanamaki are right.
Over the last eighteen years, Iwaizumi has managed to cultivate the reputation of being iron-willed and undefeatable in both physical and mental willpower. He does, however, have one weakness—his utter inability to see Oikawa miserable, which, thanks to Oikawa’s personality, happens far too often.
Over the years, he’s been subjected to a number of things Oikawa has been truly upset about including:
- That time in Preschool when a girl cut in front of Oikawa in the line to go up the slide and Oikawa had cried until Iwaizumi yelled at the girl and then let Oikawa cut in line before him to use the slide.
- That time in 3rd grade when Iwaizumi got invited to a classmate’s 8th birthday party and Oikawa didn’t. Oikawa locked himself in his own closet and no one could talk him out of it until Iwaizumi pounded on the door and promised Oikawa that he wouldn’t go to the party if Oikawa couldn’t.
- That time in 8th grade when Kageyama Tobio took Oikawa’s place as setter on the volleyball team, and Oikawa almost hit him before Iwaizumi headbutted some sense into him.
- That time in 11th grade when Oikawa really took whatever Ushijima said to him hard, and practiced so much that he ended up in the hospital from a torn tendon and dehydration. That was really when they started going to school and back together every day instead of just most of the time, because Iwaizumi wasn’t going to let that happen again.
Iwaizumi isn’t sure what to do with his newfound discovery of Oikawa’s feelings for him. He’s never thought of Oikawa that way—Oikawa is his undeniable best friend and they’re as close as family. The right thing to do would probably be to turn him down, but given how Oikawa can get, Iwaizumi can easily imagine this leading to Oikawa overworking himself into the hospital again—particularly this close to volleyball season. Whatever Iwaizumi does, he cannot let it hurt Oikawa. He’s just not sure how to do this so Oikawa stays happy. So he procrastinates.
They’re busy preparing for their upcoming game and school, and meanwhile their pretend-dating is only a step up from their usual routine anyway, so Iwaizumi just lets it continue on as it has. He lets Oikawa steal his left earphone on the train after school so he can listen to Iwaizumi’s playlist with him. He lets Oikawa cuddle up to him when they’re watching movies on the couch. He’s aware of how giddy Oikawa gets when Iwaizumi lets him pick the carrots out of his bento and feed them to Iwaizumi one by one.
There has also been an increase in their weekly outings. It starts off small at first—just Oikawa wanting to stop by the Mizuno sports store after school to look at a new knee brace, and both he and Iwaizumi end up trying on new shoes for an hour and looking at the different types. Two afternoons later, Oikawa wants to try out a new restaurant some classmate tells him about, and they end up having dinner at an American-style hamburger joint. Oikawa also starts giving Iwaizumi things like a Godzilla keychain he found at a 7-Eleven, a volleyball eraser he bought while shopping for new pens at a stationary store, and, a few days before their first match, he tops it off with a homemade bento wrapped in volleyball-patterned furoshiki.
“Incredible. Oikawa-sama’s legendary homemade lunch,” Hanamaki says when Oikawa sets it in the middle of Iwaizumi’s desk.
Iwaizumi, Hanamaki, and Matsukawa all stare at the homemade bento in grave silence until Oikawa punches Iwaizumi in the shoulder.
“Well open it at least, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says.
Iwaizumi exhales loudly but does as he’s told, unwrapping the lunchbox from the cloth. Earlier that morning, when Oikawa bounced into their house and told Iwaizumi’s mother he’d made Iwa-chan’s lunch, she thought it was the most adorable thing she’d ever seen. She was all too happy to shoo Iwaizumi out the door without his usual lunch, despite all of Iwaizumi’s protests that he has seen Oikawa’s cooking before and he is going to die of food poisoning.
“I want my tombstone to say I went out facing death like a man,” Iwaizumi says, bracing himself.
“I have 119 on speed dial,” Matsukawa says. “The ambulance will probably get here in time to save your life.”
“RIP Iwaizumi. It was good knowing you these last three years,” Hanamaki says. “A real honor.”
“I hate you all!” Oikawa screeches and cross his arms.
Iwaizumi undoes the lid of the bento, not entirely sure what sort of radioactive mess he might see. He encounters eel. Tons of eel. A massive amount of eel—literally the most eel he has ever seen outside of fish markets piled in the shape of a heart. There is nothing else in the bento aside from white rice and eel.
Matsukawa and Hanamaki look just as stunned.
“Isn’t eel supposed to be an aphrodisiac?” Hanamaki says after a moment and grins. “Ooh, naughty. Just what are you implying about Iwaizumi?”
Matsukawa lets out a low whistle. “Looks like someone wants you to have energy for your night time activities,” he says.
“Makki, Mattsun, don’t be so vulgar!” Oikawa protests. “It’s for strength! My ace has to have energy for volleyball practice!” He flashes them a victory sign with both hands.
“But not anyone else on your team,” Matsukawa says.
“What a loving aisai bento,” Hanamaki says.
“How much did you fucking spend on unagi?” Iwaizumi says because eel is not cheap.
“Be grateful, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa brags, looking pleased with himself at their reaction. “Aren’t you going to try it?”
Iwaizumi tentatively picks up some rice and a piece of eel and brings it to his mouth. Hanamaki and Matsukawa look vaguely worried. Oikawa’s eyes are huge and shining as he leans forward in his chair.
It is honestly just as terrible as Iwaizumi expected it to be. He can feel his tastebuds shriveling up and dying. “Just how much...salt did you put in here? And why is it sour?” he gasps, eyes watering. He takes several a large gulps of water from his bottle.
Oikawa’s face goes from excited anticipation to disappointment. “Don’t exaggerate, Iwa-chan, it doesn’t really taste that bad does it?” he says and grabs Iwaizumi’s chopsticks out of his hand without waiting, grabbing a piece for himself. He makes the same face and spits the mouthful back out onto a napkin. “Oh that’s gross,” he says, grabbing Iwaizumi’s water bottle from him to rinse out his mouth.
Hanamaki laughs so hard he starts wheezing and collapses onto Matsukawa. “I wish I took a video of his face,” he says.
Oikawa bites his lip, red-faced, and shoulders slumped. “I knew I should have tried it before I packed it,” he says. “But this batch didn’t look that bad. Sorry, Iwa-chan.” Knowing Oikawa and his perfectionism, Iwaizumi can guess just how many times he’d attempted cooking to get it to at least a visual state of edibility.
Iwaizumi takes a deep breath and prays his stomach will make it through this. He picks up the bento and starts shoveling it in his mouth as fast as he can.
“Wait, no, Iwa-chan, you’ll get sick,” Oikawa says, wide-eyed. “You can share my mom’s bento or I’ll buy you something from the cafeteria.”
“Ugh, shut up, you’re making me taste this,” Iwaizumi says through a mouthful of food and continues eating as fast as he can.
It is, by far, the worst meal he has ever stomached.
When he finishes, there is a short, stunned silence, before Matsukawa holds his hand out for a high-five.
“I don’t think I will ever love someone as much as Iwaizumi loves Oikawa,” Hanamaki declares. “You probably just lost five years of your life.” He prods Iwaizumi with a finger. “Oi, you need me to call 119?”
“Just give me more water,” Iwaizumi groans.
Oikawa hands him the water bottle, and then abruptly buries his face in Iwaizumi’s back, clutching the back of his shirt. “Iwa-chan…” he mumbles, and Iwaizumi can feel the heat seeping into the back of his shirt from Oikawa’s red face.
“More water,” Iwaizumi says, taking Matsukawa’s water bottle without permission and chugs that too.
He may never taste anything ever again, but for as long as he can do something about it, he’s never going to let Oikawa’s hard work go to waste. If he can’t return Oikawa’s feelings and make him happy, he can at least do this.
It continues this way right up to the game itself. That morning, Oikawa is more fidgety than normal, and all the way to school, he keeps pausing halfway through his sentences like he wants to say something. Iwaizumi has an idea what, and he’s relieved when they get to school and Oikawa still hasn’t gotten the words out. By the time they’re on the bus headed to the rival school, Oikawa seems to have given up and is dead concentrated and plotting strategy like nobody’s business.
Once they step off the bus, it’s all volleyball from there on out. Oikawa and Iwaizumi help the others start warm-up drills and then join in themselves, a captain and vice-captain who have been together for so long and know each other so well that no other team in the league can compare.
Incredibly enough, Oikawa’s fangirls have not lessened despite his inaccessibility. While they may have stopped turning up to practices as request, they come out in their normal hoards to the game, waving banners and cheering. Oikawa flashes them a sunny smile and then gets down to business as the game starts.
Iwaizumi, likewise, feels his entire world narrow down to the court and that ball. Nothing else matters except his team, Oikawa, and scoring that next point.
The weeks of practice have paid off. Oikawa is in top form thanks to the rest he’s been able to get. With so much time spent together with Iwaizumi lately, Oikawa hasn’t been able to panic and overwork himself the way he does. Possibly also thanks to the last three weeks of pretend dating, whatever’s been added to their chemistry—fake or otherwise—it’s made them better. They’ve always been in sync, but now it’s as though Oikawa can read the future. He seems to know what Iwaizumi is going to do, where he’s going to move before Iwaizumi has thought it himself. The ball comes right to his palm like a magnet every time, and he slams it onto the other side of the court. Over and over and over again.
The thrill of a good game and the rush of adrenaline pumps through Iwaizumi’s veins. This is exactly where he’s supposed to be, and he’s doing exactly what he’s meant to do, he thinks, as Oikawa gives him yet another perfect ball.
Everyone knows that when Oikawa’s feeling cornered or insecure, he always entrusts the next ball to Iwaizumi. Despite the coaches telling him he’s predictable and other teams trying to use it to their advantage, Oikawa refuses to stop because out of all his bets, that’s the one that makes him feel safest. Oikawa may not trust himself to score that needed point, but he trusts that if he gets the ball to Iwaizumi, Iwaizumi will do it. Iwaizumi has always been proud to be that person for Oikawa.
Not as many people know that when Oikawa feels particularly confident, his balls also all go to Iwaizumi for no other reason than he wants to share the victory with him.
And that’s what happens this time. The last ball—the winning point—goes straight to Iwaizumi like he knows it will, and he slams it over the net.
The whistle blows and Iwaizumi turns just in time to catch both of Oikawa’s palms outstretched in a high-five. Hanamaki and Matsukawa rush to ruffle his hair and cheer him on, as does the entire rest of the team.
The first game of the season is theirs.
The whole team is in high spirits when they pile back onto the bus, clapping each other on the back.
“Oikawa-senpai’s killer serve scored us five points in the first set!” Watari says.
“And Matsukawa-senpai’s receive in the second half—”
“Wait, wait.” Hanamaki holds up a hand. “Let’s not forget the real MVP here,” he says and claps Iwaizumi on the shoulder from the seat behind him and Oikawa.
“Oh, Iwaizumi-senpai’s final spike,” Kindaichi says.
“Nope, even before that,” Hanamaki says and places a hand over his heart. “The sacrifice he made for all of us by dating Oikawa,” he says. “For the good of the team.”
The rest of the team all nod solemnly.
“I am a blessing,” Oikawa screeches from his seat next to Iwaizumi. “Iwa-chan, they are so mean to me! Scold them!”
“Yeah, yeah, listen to your mother,” Iwaizumi says, feeling high off endorphins and victory and happy to play along. They won the first game of the season. They’re going to go all the way to nationals this time. He’s sure of it.
“Yeah, listen to—I am not their mother!” Oikawa says, pouting.
“Yes, mother,” Hanamaki says. “So we vote that you and father don’t divorce,” he says. “In fact, the whole team thinks you should keep it up. For the rest of the season.”
That highly suspicious comment brings Iwaizumi down from the high to narrow his eyes at Hanamaki. “The deal was until this game,” he says. He realizes he’d been hoping that once the game is over, maybe everyone including Oikawa will just forget about the fake dating, and they can go back to normal without discussing anything. “I already put up with enough bullshit for this team.”
Hanamaki turns the most obnoxious pleading face on him that makes Iwaizumi want to punch it off him even more than he normally wants to punch Oikawa when he’s being annoying. “But father, you can’t just abandon mother,” he says, grabbing Oikawa by the head.
Oikawa has apparently decided to go along with it because he, too, turns big puppy eyes on Iwaizumi. “You can’t leave me to raise these kids alone,” he says. “Me, Oikawa-san, a single mother at the tender young age of 18,” he says and fake weeps into Hanamaki’s shoulder.
“There, there, mother,” Hanamaki says, patting him on the head.
“I disown you all,” Iwaizumi says, shoving both their heads away.
“Come on,” Hanamaki says. “Just put off the divorce until the end of the season,” he says. “For the good of the team.” He grins. “For the good of the children. For the good of your own sanity—Oikawa is way less annoying when you don’t have to drag him out of crowds of fangirls.”
From the way Oikawa is pointedly not looking at him and Hanamaki is, he feels like they’re plotting something. But pretend dating Oikawa has really been almost exactly the same as not dating him, and Hanamaki has a point—it actually is less troublesome to just be dealing with Oikawa, than dealing with Oikawa and his hoards of fangirls.
Iwaizumi pinches the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache coming on, and exhales. “Fine,” he says. He feels like he just signed his life away.
“You hear that, mother,” Hanamaki roars, clapping Oikawa on the back. “Father won’t leave us!”
“I knew Iwa-chan loved me!”
Then it happens. Iwaizumi turns to tell off Oikawa just as Oikawa leans to kiss his cheek in that half-sweet, half-obnoxious way he’s insisted on doing constantly now. They bump noses and then Iwaizumi feels Oikawa’s lips, warm and dry, brush his own. It’s just a brief touch that’s over almost before it happens.
Oikawa backs up and turns such a deep shade of scarlet, Iwaizumi vaguely wonders if it’s possible for a head to explode from too much blood rush. He should say something, he thinks. Oikawa looks like a deer in headlights and if he turns any redder, he really might be at risk of passing out. But for the life of him, he can’t think of anything to say.
“I-Iwa—” Oikawa starts to stutter.
“Mother, Father, you may be our parents, but no one wants to see that,” Matsukawa says with a grin. “Please keep your private activities to your own bedroom.”
Iwaizumi is all too happy to turn and punch Matsukawa.
But later on the bus, when everyone else has fallen asleep, Iwaizumi sees Oikawa leaning against the window instead of Iwaizumi’s shoulder, and staring off into space—not a trace of a smile on him.
He really does hate seeing Oikawa unhappy, damnit.
Iwaizumi exhales and stretches out his limbs. He puts his arm over the back of the seat like he had at the movie theater and watches in the window reflection as Oikawa’s eyes widen.
“Idiot, don’t think too much,” Iwaizumi says, low and quiet so he won’t wake the others. “Your tiny brain will explode.”
“Iwa-chan, everyone knows I’m both beauty and brains in this relationship,” Oikawa says, but he relaxes until he’s leaning into Iwaizumi.
It isn’t until Oikawa sighs that Iwaizumi feels the stress leave both their bodies. Oikawa’s weight on his shoulder is exactly where it’s supposed to be.
So they continue to go on weekly dates and take turns choosing the restaurants and movies. Sometimes, when they’re hanging out like this and Oikawa’s eyes are shining as he talks about volleyball, or he gets that smile that warms his whole face when he’s looking at Iwaizumi from across the table, or he’s complaining he’s cold until Iwaizumi puts an arm around him and pulls him closer, Iwaizumi finds himself enjoying it. That becomes normal too.
After so long, even their volleyball teammates seem to have forgotten that they’re technically not actually dating, and start referring to them in tandem outside of the club too. Underclassmen stop Iwaizumi in the halls to ask where Oikawa is, and he almost always knows. Classmates give Oikawa school books Iwaizumi lent them to return to him. People ask him how Oikawa is doing when he stays home for a day due to a 24-hour stomach bug. People tell them to have a good weekend on Saturday afternoons when they’re heading home like it’s a given they’re spending it together.
Volleyball season for them comes and goes. They lose the game to Karasuno, and Iwaizumi doesn’t say a word after—just holds tight to Oikawa’s hand all the way home until they’re inside Oikawa’s room behind closed doors, and then he pulls Oikawa into his arms and lets Oikawa cry and lets himself cry.
Oikawa’s mother doesn’t disturb them until the sun has gone down and they’re lying in bed, Oikawa fast asleep still curled into Iwaizumi’s chest.
Oikawa’s mother knocks on the door and opens it.
“Are you hungry, Iwa-chan?” she asks because their whole family calls him his childhood nickname.
“I’m fine. I’ll wait until Tooru wakes up,” Iwaizumi whispers to her.
She smiles at him and closes the door behind her.
Oikawa is grouchy and sensitive for a week after, and Iwaizumi is so busy making sure Oikawa doesn't do anything stupid like set fire to Kageyama or Ushijima’s houses or practice himself into the hospital, that he completely forgets that with the season over, fangirls are no longer a problem, and the time limit has come up on their fake dating.
The thing is, no one else seems to remember either. The team mourns the end of their season, and then they’re back to practice as usual if even more determined than before. No one brings up the fake dating, and no one comments when Oikawa absently tangles their hands together when the third years are huddled up on the bleachers and discussing areas they need to strengthen as a team. None of Oikawa’s classmates look twice when he kisses Iwaizumi goodbye in the morning as usual. Hanamaki and Matsukawa don’t comment when he climbs into Iwaizumi’s lap during lunch and complains about how he had such a bad morning in class.
Iwaizumi starts to forget that they’re fake dating too, and he has an idea why.
It’s been months now, and just like he got used to taking Oikawa out on Sundays in junior high, and how he got used to walking him to and from Aoba Jousai in high school, he’s used to a whole new set of things without ever realizing it. He’s used to pulling Oikawa close when they’re lounging on his bed and watching cartoons on his shitty laptop screen. He’s used to putting his hand on Oikawa’s waist like it’s natural when they’re at the bakery and Oikawa is sparkly-eyed over some new milk bread variety that’s come out. He’s used to kissing Oikawa back when Oikawa pecks him goodbye in the mornings. He’s not surprised when Oikawa throws a pile of university acceptance letters at his head, and he finds out Oikawa only applied to the same universities he did, and apparently fully plans on following him into the future the same way he did high school, junior high, and elementary school before that.
Then, one winter day not long after the holidays, the inevitable finally happens. They’re walking out of the school gates together as usual, when they see a group of girls in unfamiliar school uniforms.
One of them calls out to Oikawa as they walk by.
“C-Can I speak to you?” she asks, blushing and looking down at the ground.
Iwaizumi has been used to seeing this ever since the confessions started happening in junior high. Oikawa gets confessed to on a near daily basis, so it’s weird that this feels so out of place now. In the periphery of his vision, he sees other classmates openly gawk at the scene, because no girls have confessed to either of them in months now.
Oikawa’s eyes dart to Iwaizumi’s face and then slide away. His fingers loosen around Iwaizumi’s hand, and it takes Iwaizumi a moment to remember they’re not actually dating. Oikawa isn’t actually his boyfriend.
Oikawa clears his throat. “Ah, yeah,” he says. “Sure.”
He leaves Iwaizumi by the gate and walks off with the girl in the direction of the soccer field for privacy.
Iwaizumi, on the other hand, is left with three unfamiliar girls who stare after their friend and whisper to each other. It’s extremely awkward, and Iwaizumi debates whether or not he can just leave without Oikawa. But it’s been months now that they have unfailingly gone home together. He’s used to holding Oikawa’s hands in his own and warming up his long fingers when it’s cold.
Oikawa and the girl stop under a snow-covered tree. They look good, Iwaizumi thinks. Oikawa is tall and pretty in that magazine model way that’s gotten him scouted in public twice now. The girl is cute and has nice long, legs that must be freezing in this weather with the uniform skirt she’s wearing. Iwaizumi wonders where she saw Oikawa, and whether it was at one of their volleyball games earlier in the season. Iwaizumi wonders if Oikawa will accept.
Then, he would have someone who loves him the way he deserves to be loved. Of course that girl would have to take care of Oikawa when he’s moody, make sure he takes care of himself and doesn’t overwork, but she would also see Oikawa when he’s most alive and doing what he loves on the court. She would have to put up with all of his petty little demands, but she would also get all of his attention and his gaze on her like she’s his whole universe. She would have to listen to his constant whining and watch awful movies, but she’d also get to hear his animated talking and gesturing when he’s telling her about the things he loves. She would get to support him at his worst, and be buoyed up by him at his very best.
Iwaizumi’s skin prickles and his stomach drops. For the first time in his life, he feels restless and irritated and wants to throw something at Oikawa so he’ll come running and they can go home together like they always do. All those months ago, Hanamaki was right—Iwaizumi’s not used to sharing Oikawa’s attention. He doesn’t want Oikawa to share those things with other people. All of that—every part of it—has been Iwaizumi’s for their whole lives, and he doesn’t know what it’s like not to have it. He doesn’t want to know what it’s like not to have it.
Oikawa says something to the girl that makes her bow, and then they’re both coming back toward the gates. The girl’s friends rush to her, and Oikawa looks relieved to see Iwaizumi still standing there.
“Iwa-chan, you waited for me,” he says. He’s twisting his fingers together in his hands, and Iwaizumi knows Oikawa also remembers how they have no obligation to one another. Not yet.
Iwaizumi starts leading the way down the street toward the station—the same route they’ve walked hundreds of times over these last few years. He feels a tug on his elbow and finds Oikawa holding onto his coat sleeve. It’s tentative—just a small point of contact like Oikawa isn’t sure whether or not he’s allowed to hold Iwaizumi’s hand anymore. It’s been months of living in this pretend relationship—weeks since they were supposed to and not just doing it because of habit or any of the other excuses they could have come up with.
Iwaizumi pulls his arm loose and turns in time to see Oikawa’s whole face fall. He’s staring down at the ground and his nose is going red the way it does when he’s going to start crying.
“You are so troublesome,” Iwaizumi says and grabs Oikawa’s hand tight in his own, feeling his fingers go lax in his grip. “Did you accept?” he asks and continues walking.
“No,” Oikawa says, hushed. He’s darting looks up at Iwaizumi’s face, still stumbling behind him, like he doesn’t know what’s happening.
“That’s what I thought,” Iwaizumi says.
“Hey! I could have—”
“Shut up, Oikawa,” Iwaizumi says and takes a deep breath. If the past few months have proven without a doubt where Oikawa’s affections lie, it’s also proved where Iwaizumi’s heart is. He stops walking.
“Let’s go out tonight,” he says.
Oikawa blinks, round-eyed. “Tonight?” he echoes. He worries his bottom lip. “But it’s not Sunday?” That comes out a question too.
Iwaizumi exhales loudly and turns toward him. “Yeah, tonight,” he says. “What? You haven’t waited long enough yet?”
“Where are we going?” Oikawa asks like he can’t quite believe what he’s hearing.
“Dinner and a movie,” Iwaizumi says, the same way Oikawa suggested months ago when this first started.
Oikawa begins to blush, and Iwaizumi knows he remembers it too. “Dinner and a movie?” he asks. He bites his lip, but this time in the way he does when he’s trying not to smile and can’t stop himself. His eyes flicker up to meet Iwaizumi’s. “Are you asking me on a date, Iwa-chan?”
Iwaizumi pulls him closer and threads their fingers together. He smiles at Oikawa. “Yeah, Tooru. I’m asking you on a date.”