Actions

Work Header

this isn't exactly how i thought i'd be spending my adult years

Work Text:

It’s raining, naturally, when Hanamaki steps outside.

“Fuck,” he mutters, because of course he didn’t bring an umbrella and of course he’s wearing the thinnest shoes he owns.

“What is it?” Iwaizumi asks, miles away, through Hanamaki’s cell.

Hanamaki peers up at the sky from beyond the overhang of the engineering building, where he’s pressed himself against the wall. He sighs, deeply, deeply. His backpack is so thin, Jesus fuck. Everything will be ruined. He’s silently, viciously, cursing himself for buying the cheapest bag on the shelf when he remembers that Iwaizumi’s still on the line. “Nothing,” he says mournfully, because he’s a tortured, sad, broke , soul.

“I just think that the plot sucks,” Hanamaki says, returning to their conversation. “All the animation in the world doesn’t mean shit if I want to throw my laptop across the room everytime I see an ad for the damn game.”

“You know how Oikawa gets about these things,” Iwaizumi says. From his side of the call, there’s the muffled sound of the game that will not be named, clearly playing from the flat screen TV that dominates Oikawa and Iwaizumi’s small apartment (a gift from Oikawa’s aunt, and which, Hanamaki might frankly add, neither of them deserve). “I swear he has awful taste in everything because he’s drawn to it. Like magnets.”

“That’s opposites attract, not likes,” Hanamaki points out, before deciding, fuck it , and striding forward. He regrets it immediately because his hair is drenched almost instantaneously and he can feel all of his notes getting practically waterboarded.

“Whatever,” Iwaizumi says flippantly. “He’s also shit at it, which somehow makes it even worse.”

Why are there so many puddles? Hanamaki swears that he’s stepping in every single one on this campus just from trying to cross the street. The bus stop is literally a hundred feet away but he’s not sure he’ll get there without drowning. “I mean, I’m not surprised,” Hanamaki says, finally reaching the plastic overhang of the cover at the bus stop. He’d sit down but the seats are flooded to hell, and he’s pretty sure the bus’ll be here in a minute or two, if karma decides to stop fucking him over. “I just can’t believe you bought it for him.”

Iwaizumi replies with the air of someone who has had to answer this question many, many , times. Because he has–because Hanamaki can’t help but go off everytime he hears that shitty–and annoyingly catchy–theme song playing in the background of his phone calls with Iwaizumi. “It was the only thing he put on his Christmas list. He might have actually killed me if I didn’t get him anything. And then he didn’t even play it for three months.”

“I’ll consider us both lucky,” Hanamaki says. “If he had actually played it when you got it for him, we would have been having this conversation a long time ago.” He’s a big believer in putting off til tomorrow what he could do today, and saving his past self from a painful reality in which one of of his best friends from highschool plays the worst game known to mankind is included in that.

Squinting against the water dripping from his eyelashes, Hanamaki spies the headlights from the bus cutting through the premature darkness that this storm from hell has caused. “Hold on. My bus is here.”

“Alright,” Iwaizumi says, and then, “Wait, don’t forget to text me the recipe for that soup you made the last time we visited.”

“Of course,” Hanamaki says, already reaching around to the side pocket of his cheap, cheap, backpack and fumbling with the zipper for his wallet. There’s being able to cook well , and being able to cook on a budget , and Hanamaki prides himself on both. There’s no point in bringing up Oikawa’s clear lack of finesse in the kitchen, and Iwaizumi tends to eat copious amounts of pasta with little else in between when he gets lazy, so Hanamaki is the provider of soup recipes. Obviously.

“Plus, I think I’m getting sick,” Iwaizumi says.

“Tell me about it,” Hanamaki groans. The bus pulls in front of the curb, splashing some poor passerby that had somehow remained mostly dry up until this point. The doors open with a squeal, and Hanamaki steps on, swiping his bus pass. A cursory glance around the bus reveals that there aren't any seats open, which is probably for the best–Hanamaki’s pretty sure that the shitty carpet covering on the seats would be soaked immediately if he sat down. So. His options are to stand next to someone, or stand alone. Obviously standing alone is his first choice, but there’s limited space as it is on the bus and he’s forced to stand next to a tall guy who somehow looks more like a drowned rat than he does. Admittedly, a very nice looking drowned rat, but Hanamaki’s attention is quickly directed to the small pool of water gathering around their feet, and subsequently not slipping and braining himself against a stray pole.

“I swear there’s a flood of like, Biblical proportions going on here,” Hanamaki continues. “If I die, make Oikawa throw that piece of Satan incarnate away. In a fire. Or the ocean. I’m not picky.”

“If you dying would be what it took, I might kill you myself.” Iwaizumi sounds almost thoughtful, considering the idea.

“Please do. I’d be dying for a worthy cause.”

“I’ll think about it.” The background music from Iwaizumi’s side abruptly cuts off. “Shit.”

The bus jerks to a stop at a red light, and Hanamaki is knocked forward a pace abruptly, his grip tightening on the hanging strap so thoughtfully provided to prevent passengers such as himself from flying through the windshield. “What is it?”

“Power’s out. I think I gotta go.” There’s a note of relief somewhere in Iwaizumi’s exasperated tone, and Hanamaki chalks it up to Oikawa being forced, by nature herself, to finally stop playing.

“Good luck,” Hanamaki says. “Bye.”

“Bye,” says Iwaizumi, and the call ends.

Hanamaki’s about to pocket his phone when he remembers the state of his clothes and his backpack. So. Not doing that. He’s left holding it, and his wallet, in one hand, the other hanging on for dear life as the bus makes what seems like hairpin turns in the rain, and really, should anyone be driving like this in this weather, much less a driver with thirty plus people’s lives in his hands? Everyone on the bus looks at least a little nervous (aside from the students who look so dead inside that they have nothing to lose at this point) and on top of that, the humidity in the bus is building. Hanamaki thinks that he can actually see it, tangible and only a few minutes away from pressing people against the wall for all its oppressiveness.

The bus finally screeches to a stop relatively close to Hanamaki’s apartment building, and he pushes his way to the exit with a certain amount of relish; rain sucks, but being crammed in a bus with forty other soaked, unfortunate souls is worse. The doors hiss open and a gust of freezing wind carrying rain assaults the passengers crowded around the door. They exit in one push, a wave of people spilling onto the borderline flooding sidewalk, and the bus pulls away as quickly as it had pulled up.

Hanamaki takes his backpack off so that he can put it on facing the front, wrapping his jacket around it the best he can and clutching it to his chest, because midterms are coming up and like hell he’s going to fail because the weather has a particular vendetta against him. Sprinting down the sidewalk, Hanamaki books it all the way across the street, around the corner, and straight up to the doors of his apartment building. Then he’s putting his backpack on the right way and crossing the shitty, tiled lobby and up the stairs, two at a time, to the third floor.  

In the catalogs, this apartment had been described as “cozy” and “shabby-chic.” Hanamaki knows now what he didn't a year ago, when he was a youth, and therefore less jaded–that that's just code for "cramped as hell" and "shabby-shit."

Hanamaki isn’t about to spout some bullshit about how there’s a weird stain on the carpet (he hates carpet) or about how the bathroom door doesn’t really lock (it’s good he doesn’t have people over much) but it’s home anyway–because that’s bullshit. What it is is cheap. He’s sure that when he drops his backpack on the floor by the door that the person below can hear it, and that if his room was any smaller it’d just be a walk in closet, but at least there’s a fridge and a stovetop and a laundry facility in the basement.

Hanamaki isn’t dumb enough to believe that tomorrow will be better than today was, but he hopes , he hopes.

-----

He was right not to, of course–he wakes up with the worst cough he's ever had in his life. It figures, really, that this would happen to him. It's a sign, maybe, to just never leave the solitude of his dubiously safe apartment, or the warmth of his dubiously clean covers.

But the universe continues to fuck him over, because he's got a paper due today and anyway, the last time he stayed home sick and asked a classmate to take notes for him, she took them like someone was holding a gun to her head and telling her to make them as shitty as possible.

So. Not doing that again. Hanamaki’s learned now that if he wants to do a half ass job, he'd better do it himself, because anyone else will do it even worse.
So it's out of bed, pulling on his boots and winding the scarf that Iwaizumi equates to a blanket around his neck. There's so much to the it that it kind of hides how red his nose is. It doesn’t really muffle his hacking every forty five seconds, but. He’s tried.

If he had to describe the way he’s shuffling down the cold and poorly lit hallway towards the elevator (because fuck stairs, especially today) Hanamaki might equate himself to a man who has lost everything, yet still continues in pursuit of some meaningless goal.

(Hanamaki’s true goal is to become rich so he can buy every copy of that game, and burn it. Or maybe shoot it off into space, or crush it into a cube, Monsters Inc or WALL-E style. He's creative. He's not an engineering major for nothing.)

Today his goal is ensuring that he's the only one in the elevator (which can really only fit three people in it, on a good day). So when he sees another man turn into the hallway, similarly bundled up in an impressively large scarf, Hanamaki not quite so surreptitiously presses the button to close the doors with a near frantic viciousness.

The doors remain open. I expect nothing , Hanamaki thinks, staring at the traitorous button with dull yet ever present fury while the man shuffles into the elevator, the bulk of his coat not quite hiding his lanky frame. Yet I am still disappointed.

The elevator in this building is probably the slowest elevator in the world, which gives Hanamaki time to eye the stranger next to him. He looks sort of familiar, and after a moment, Hanamaki recognizes him as the guy from the bus. He looks different when his hair's not plastered to his skull–now that it's dry it's sort of...fluffy, almost. Messy, really.

He's also got plugs, which is. Well.

None of this, though, rivals how tired the guy looks. He's practically tipping back and crushing his backpack between himself and the hideously orange carpeted walls of the elevator. Hanamaki is a little worried that he'll fall, for the sole reason that there's really only one way to fall, which is on him. He's too young to die, and anyway, if anything is going to get him, it's this cold.

When Hanamaki coughs–hacks–the guy, who's been near comatose this entire time, opens his eyes and looks over a little, seemingly with the least amount of effort possible. "Bless you," he says, but his eyes are still sleepy.

Hanamaki turns his head and stares at him. "I didn't sneeze."

The guy looks a bit surprised. "What?"

"I coughed."

"So?"

"Who the fuck says bless you when someone coughs?"

The guy shrugs. "It's always awkward to just say nothing. So. Bless you."

“No, that’s–” Hanamaki’s ready to argue with this guy about how stupid that is, how he’s rather he just said nothing at all but the elevator doors are opening. The guy gives one last shrug and strides out, leaving Hanamaki standing alone in the elevator.

The encounter doesn’t ruin Hanamaki’s day, per se (because his day is already ruined), but it’s like he can’t stop turning the conversation over and over and over again in his head. It’s just–so stupid–but he’s personally offended.

I should get a sign, he thinks, that says “ No Bless You”.

Which. Wouldn’t make sense, at all , but Hanamaki isn’t below it, because he’s determined , now, he has a mission, a purpose, a person of interest. Negative interest. He has no idea who the guy is, has never seen him, (would have noticed him, really, if he’d seen him before) but he lives on Hanamaki’s floor, which means that there are probably elevator encounters to come.

It’s kind of weird, though, because all of a sudden, he’s everywhere. They take the same bus to get to campus, and he’s there , or they happen to eat lunch in the cafeteria at the same time, or he’s waving jauntily, infuriatingly, from down the hall when their schedules happen to intersect. Hanamaki figures that he must have just moved in, because any other explanation would involve that he’s following Hanamaki or something.

(Hanamaki would be the first to admit that following him would be incredibly time consuming and boring. He mostly sits in his apartment or goes to class or calls Iwaizumi or meets up with his best friend, the vending machine in the first floor lobby.)

It’s through a series of almost encounters that Hanamaki somehow gets the guy’s name. Up until they bump into each other–literally–on the stairs, and he introduces himself, Hanamaki had just been calling him Eyebrows in his head, because damn.

But anyway. Matsukawa Issei . Is. Everywhere.

(It would be a lot less annoying if he was a lot less attractive.)  

And so obviously he’s there when Hanamaki gets home from class one day. It’s raining again, but Hanamaki’s learned his lesson and is carrying an umbrella. (There’s nothing he can do about his shoes, unless someone wants to donate to his cause.)

Matsukawa Issei is crouched next to the gate in front of their apartment building, the bush he’s huddled next to doing nothing to keep him dry. His hood is up and he’s got his backpack tucked under his jacket, but he doesn’t seem too bothered. He’s got his phone out and is tapping away at it, but Hanamaki stops in front of him anyway because even his eyebrows are dripping water at this point.

Matsukawa looks up when Hanamaki stops, and his phone droops a little in his hand so that Hanamaki can see that he’s been playing Candy Crush. Typical.

“Enjoy the rain, do you?” Hanamaki says, as pleasantly as he can muster, while tipping the umbrella a little towards Matsukawa. Never mind that the guy annoys Hanamaki to no end, but looks like he did when they first met, which is somewhere between “soaking wet” and “drowned”.

“Not particularly,” Matsukawa says, as if they’re standing in the middle of a park path on a sunny day, but he stands, long legs extending, and takes Hanamaki’s unspoken offer to get under the umbrella.

Matsukawa’s a bit taller than him, and it results in Hanamaki’s shoulder getting sort of wet, but he fishes his key out of his pocket and unlocks the gate.

“Did you forget your keys?” Hanamaki asks, a bit too innocently, as he swings the gate open.

Matsukawa closes it behind them once they’re through. “Oh, I don’t have an apartment here,” he says, once the gate is latched. “I just sleep in the stairwell. Scrounge for leftovers in the trash chutes.”

“I wondered why you dress like you pick through garbage,” Hanamaki muses, playing along. Matsukawa has this weird way of flirting-not-flirting when he’s talking, and Hanamaki’s been conditioned to it because Matsukawa can never seem to shut up when they catch each other in the hallways. Hanamaki can’t think of a time they ran into each other and Matsukawa didn’t say anything, besides that first time on the bus.

It’s easy to slip into. It’s kind of fun.

(Except fuck that guy. Really. Honestly. Truly.)

“Ah, so you’ve been looking at the way I dress? Forward of you, Hanamaki-san.”

“It’s a little hard not to notice,” Hanamaki says dryly, counting the steps until they get inside and he can escape.

“But it’s cause I’m a student. It’s not like you dress any better.”

He doesn’t even bother denying it. “That’s cause I’m broke.”

“Same thing.” They’ve entered the building by now. Matsukawa pushes the hood off his head and Hanamaki folds his umbrella up, shaking water from it (more than a few drops land on Matsukawa) before shoving it in one of the side pockets of his shitty backpack.

“This is where I leave you,” Matsukawa says, eyes still sleepy but almost smiling. He jerks a thumb towards the front desk. “Gotta get someone to open my door.”

“I can’t believe you lied to me about being a squatter,” Hanamaki says in false betrayal.

“I’m afraid ‘heart-breaker’ is my character type,” Matsukawa says, and then he’s doing that little wave he does, and Hanamaki makes his way to the stairs.

It’s only funny because he says it with such a deadpan expression, Hanamaki rationalizes as he takes the stairs two at a time. It’s not because he’s an especially pleasant person. It’s not like Hanamaki doesn’t know that he keeps flowers on his balcony or that he’s nice enough to speak to a stranger in an elevator because he had a cough.

Matsukawa Issei is still a little bit of an asshole, Hanamaki thinks, but like, a nice asshole. If such a thing exists.

---

Hanamaki’s lights blink out just as he’s turning the page of his textbook. He sets his pencil down, thinking for a moment that maybe the light bulb’s just gone dead, but then he realizes that the apartment is unnaturally quiet, because the heater’s out, too.

It must be a scheduled black out, or something, but the thunder outside Hanamaki’s windows suddenly seems so much louder. It’s going to be cold, freezing , soon, so Hanamaki shuffles over to where his slippers are sitting by the door and slips into them.

He doesn’t know exactly what makes him do it–maybe to check that this isn’t only happening to his apartment–but he’s unlocking his door and peering into the hallway after a moment’s hesitation. The corridor is cold already, and so dark that Hanamaki wouldn’t be able to see more than a few feet away from his face, if not for the fact that someone else is shining a light into the hallway.

A few doors down, Matsukawa Issei is leaning out his door, using the flashlight function on his phone and sweeping the light up and down the length of the corridor. The beam catches Hanamaki in the eyes, and he jerks back. Motherfucker .

“Power’s out,” Matsukawa whispers loudly, averting his phone and slipping out of his apartment, making his way over to Hanamaki.

Hanamaki blinks against the white spots dotting the corners of his vision. “No shit.”

“Sorry about that.” Matsukawa comes to a stop in front of him, and Hanamaki steps back a bit so that he doesn’t have to incline his head, no matter how slightly, to look him in the eyes. Asshole , Hanamaki thinks vindictively. He’s used to being taller than everyone.

There’s an awkward pause– why did he even come over here? –before Matsukawa asks, seemingly randomly, “Were you studying?”

Hanamaki notices that Matsukawa’s wearing a blanket over his sweats, draped over his shoulders and pooling at his feet. It’s got little bears dotted over it. He crosses his arms over his chest. “Trying to.”

Matsukawa takes a moment in which he seems to be considering something–he’s got his head tilted slightly to the side–before he says, “You could come to my apartment. I just made tea.”

Hanamaki squints at him. “For two people?”

“I thought we could share a cup,” Matsukawa says, lips quirking up at the corners.

“Only if it’s mouth to mouth,” Hanamaki says, resigning himself to his fate. Matsukawa laughs , and it’s probably the first time he’s done it around Hanamaki because it’s a little startling. In an unfortunately nice way.

He closes his apartment door behind him and follows Matsukawa down the hallway and into the darkness of his living room. The layout is basically the same as Hanamaki’s–counter separating the miniscule kitchen and the living room/dining area, windows facing the door–but instead of a couch, he’s got a futon facing a TV that’s perched on a rickety looking entertainment center. No table, but there are mismatched dining room chairs.

Matsukawa hands Hanamaki a cup of tea that steaming slightly in the increasingly cold air of the apartment. Hanamaki warms his hands around the mug that’s advertising for a diner joint somewhere outside the city. Matsukawa’s mug is plain blue.

“I’m a little disappointed that we’re not sharing a mug,” Hanamaki says, taking a careful sip and trying not to burn his mouth. He doesn’t really like tea–he runs on coffee, primarily–so it doesn’t taste like more than hot water to him.

“Maybe next time,” Matsukawa says. “I was planning on asking you over anyway,” he says, answering Hanamaki’s unspoken question of why do you have two mugs of tea prepared were you going to drink them both yourself are you one of those people?

“Inviting a youth such as myself over at this hour,” Hanamaki tuts, curling his legs under him in the stool to try and keep his feet warm.

“What will the neighbors say?”

It should feel awkward, considering that they barely know each other and haven’t really spoken to each other for more than five minutes, and because Matsukawa Issei is Hanamaki’s nemesis .

But. It’s not, because Matsukawa starts talking again. Hanamaki feels a little like he’s being interviewed for a position he’s never heard of, for a job he never applied to, because Matsukawa is just rattling off questions like he’s reading off a notecard, except he’s not. Hanamaki finds himself giving away prized points of information, such as his favorite color and his favorite food and where he grew up. Matsukawa answers in turn, even though Hanamaki didn’t exactly ask.

The topics shift to school, as all things inevitably do. “What’s your major?”

Hanamaki sighs. “This is starting to feel like a family reunion. Mechanical engineering. You?”

“Accounting.” Hanamaki’s a little surprised, because it’s not really what he’d expected, but then again, he doesn’t know what he did expect. “I’m going to be an accounting artiste,” Matsukawa says, eyelashes lowering in mock-seduction.

“What are your pet peeves?” Matsukawa asks later, changing the subject from cats or dogs (cats, always cats) abruptly.

Hanamaki hums, pretends to think. “Hm, I don’t know. Maybe people who say bless you when other individuals are coughing.”

“What an oddly specific thing to say,” Matsukawa says, but his mouth quirks. Hanamaki doesn’t think about how that makes him feel, because he’s too broke to afford a therapist and he doesn’t have the time to psychoanalyse himself. “Your turn.”

Hanamaki takes a moment to think, tucking his knees into his chest. “What’s your favorite game?”

“Like video games?” Nod. Matsukawa frowns in thought. “There is that one game that just came out. With the knights?”

It’s the game that Hanamaki hates more than anything, the game that he would invent time travel to erase. He’s once again struck with the sudden urge just walk away, or maybe commit murder. “And here I was just starting to warm up to you,” Hanamaki says, already planning out his defense for when he inevitably faces a life sentence. It was an act of passion, he’ll argue. Completely unplanned. “That game is disgusting.”

“Oh, it’s my favorite ,” Matsukawa says, leaning close to Hanamaki and laying it on thick. “I have a poster in my room.”

“You do not ,” Hanamaki says, more upset than he ought to be.

Matsukawa grins, an odd expression on his normally neutral face. “You’ll never find out. It’s like Schrodinger's poster.”

“I guess I never will, because you’d have to hold a gun to my head to get me to willingly enter your room.”

“I’m going to remember that,” Matsukawa says, leaning back. Hanamaki starts breathing again. “I might just write it down.”

“Please do,” Hanamaki says, lifting his chin. “I’ll even sign it.”

“But you’re not curious? At all?”

He might be, a little. “Not at all. I’d rather just live in blissful ignorance.”

“Nothing about you really screams blissful to me,” Matsukawa says into his tea cup.

“I’m hurt, Mattsun. Wounded.”

“Are we on to nicknames yet?”

“Now that you’ve insulted me, my pride, my family, it might be time.”

“I want rights to the nickname I give you. Like a patent.”

Hanamaki doesn’t bother pointing out that patents are for inventions, because, whatever. Accounting. “Whatever it is, it can’t be that much of an invention.”

“Is Makki too basic?”

Hanamaki snorts. “It’s only what everyone else calls me.”

Matsukawa sighs. “Damn. It really suits you.”

“Are you calling me basic?” Hanamaki asks, ignoring the warmth in his chest that is definitely, positively, the tea. Yeah. The tea.

“Of course–” Matsukawa is interrupted by the lights coming on, as suddenly as they had cut out. There’s a low whirring sound somewhere in the building that Hanamaki assumes is the heating coming back on. “Oh,” Matsukawa says, instead of his earlier sentence, looking up at the light.”

Hanamaki sets his mug on the counter with a soft tap. Matsukawa looks back to him. “It’s late,” he says, feeling suddenly awkward in the light. The shadows under Matsukawa’s eyes are more pronounced in the harsh overhead light, and Hanamaki is sure he looks the same.

“Of course,” Matsukawa says, leaning back in his stool. “Stay safe on the road. I hear it’s snowing out there.”

“Four wheel drive,” Hanamaki says, standing and hovering before turning for the door. “Goodnight,” he says when he reaches it.

“Bless you,” Matsukawa says, and Hanamaki groans as the door swings shut.

-----

From: Mattsun >:0

(8:52) SOS

(8:52) SOS

(8:54) seriously im dying pls help

 

To: Mattsun >:0

(8:57) jesus fuck  

(8:57) what

(8:58) wait when did you put your number in my phone

 

From: Mattsun >:0

(8:58) sos sos sos sos sos sos sos sos sos

 

"I'm dying," Matsukawa says, lifting his hand and then dropping it back to the duvet dramatically. "Say goodbye to our children for me."

“There aren’t any children to say goodbye to," Hanamaki says, dropping his backpack to the floor with a thud. That was probably his laptop. Fuck . He picks his way across the tissue strewn floor to where Matsukawa is a bundled up on his futon. "Ever heard of a trash can?"

“No, what's that," Matsukawa says, his voice slightly muffled–he'd receded back into the covers. Hanamaki had just assumed Matsukawa wanted him to go to his apartment at nine in the morning , and the door had been unlocked. He’s lucky he doesn’t have class, because he has the feeling that he’s going to get roped into an all day commitment.

“It’s where you get your clothes,” Hanamaki says, perching on the edge of the futon, ignoring that he’s sitting on one of Matsukawa’s legs and probably cutting off his circulation. He could be studying right now–or, not studying, but certainly doing something else.

“How could I forget.” Only his is nose visible at this point. Hanamaki rolls his eyes and pulls the covers away from his face.

“You look like shit,” he says.

“Thanks,” Matsukawa rasps, and Hanamaki has just enough time to jerk back before he coughs into the blankets.

“That was gross ,” Hanamaki says from his spot on the floor, once Matsukawa has stopped trying to cough up both of his lungs.

“Aren’t you going to say something?” Matsukawa asks, pointedly, deliberately.

No,” Hanamaki says, standing, and Matsukawa laughs a little.

“You have to make me cocoa,” Matsukawa says later, like it’s a simple fact of life. “But I don’t think you’ll be able to make anything else.” He’s managed to haul himself up, and is watching Hanamaki intently he shuffles around the kitchenette.

“I’m going to. And I am positive that I’m a better cook than you,” Hanamaki says, setting a pan on the two burner stovetop that the apartment has so graciously provided.

“I never argued with you on that,” Matsukawa points out. He’s sitting at the counter, across from Hanamaki, and he’s bundled up in three blankets. The topmost blanket is the one with bears, that he wore the night of the power outage. “I’m only saying I don’t think there’s anything but pickle juice in my fridge.”

“I checked. There’s also milk.”

“Of course there’s milk,” Matsukawa says. He sounds offended, but it’s somewhat diminished by the nasal tone of his voice. “I need it for cocoa.”

“I already said I would make you some,” Hanamaki says, exasperated. “And I brought stuff.”

“Oh.” Matsukawa says. Then, “You’re wife material.”

“You’re dead body material,” Hanamaki says. “You don’t deserve the soup I’m about to make for you. And cocoa ,” he adds, as Matsukawa opens his mouth. He shuts it, and then he just– watches as Hanamaki makes the broth, and then cooks pasta for the soup, and then adds celery because he’s feeling fancy today. He watches him up to the point where Hanamaki sets the bowl in front of him, a little roughly, along with his hot cocoa.

Matsukawa eats it like he’s never eaten anything in his life. Hanamaki chalks it up to the fact that he probably hasn’t eaten since last night, but still. It’s a little weird. He’s got his own bowl, so he tries to focus on eating that instead of watching another guy eat. Because that would be weird.

“I give my compliments to the chef,” Matsukawa says, once the bowl is empty. “ Many compliments.”

“The chef says thanks,” Hanamaki says, taking another bite of his soup.

“Cool. This customer is going to lie down.”

Hanamaki watches as he shuffles his way back to the couch, still bundled up in his blankets. He can tell that Matsukawa is one of those people who can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, because he starts snoring softly almost immediately.

Hanamaki cleans up from lunch and stores the leftover soup in tupperware for Matsukawa to have later. On his way out, he collects the blankets strewn on the floor that Matsukawa had shed on his way to the counter, and dumps them on his sleeping form.

“This is bullshit,” he says to his empty apartment after sitting on the couch, staring into

space for no apparent reason for way too long. Absolute bullshit .  

-----

“Hey, do you remember the guy I was telling you about? Elevator guy?”

“How could I forget,” Iwaizumi says dryly. Hanamaki can’t see his face, but he’s probably smiling.

“Yeah, well. We’re kind of friends now.”

“What? Hold on, let me get Oikawa, he’ll want to hear this.” There’s a rustling sound, like he’s putting the phone down, and then indistinct calling between rooms. Hanamaki hears thumping–the sound of someone running across wood floors–and then the phone is lifted up and he hears Oikawa’s breathless, “Who’s this boy you’re telling me about?”

“For the record, I didn’t tell you any–”

“Oh, come on, Makki,” Oikawa whines. “I’m just interested in your burgeoning love life, is all. All I’ve had to talk to today is stupid Iwa-chan–ow!”

“My love life is not burgeoning,” Hanamaki says, disregarding the scuffle that’s clearly happening on the other end of the line. “Because I don’t have one.”

“Pshaw,” Oikawa scoffs, and then: “Iwa-chan, let go . Sorry Makki. Anyway, tell me about him.”

“There’s nothing to tell. He’s just this guy who lives on my floor.”

“You’re no fun,” Oikawa pouts. “Is he tall, dark, and handsome?”

Hanamaki doesn’t allow himself to hesitate. “I thought you liked shorter guys.”

Oikawa’s silent for a second, and then: “Well, gotta go, lovely talking to you!” and the phone is passed back to Iwaizumi.

“What’d you say to him?” Iwaizumi says.

“Nothing. Anway. He was an asshole, I saved him from the rain, he saved me from a power outage, I saved him from a cold–all very romantic.”

There’s a pensive silence, and then: “You like him,” Iwaizumi says with obvious relish, and Hanamaki inwardly groans.  

Everyone always goes on and on about how intuitive Oikawa is, but Iwaizumi can be just as annoyingly perceptive. Hanamaki pretends that he doesn’t want to throw himself off a cliff and hums. “It’s disgusting. He dresses worse than I do, and he genuinely enjoys playing that game .”

“Ha. Maybe he and Oikawa would get along.”

“Oh, no . My dear Mattsun and I have sworn an oath against you two. We’re determined to be the better power couple.”

“I have a hard time believing that he’d swear anything like that. He seems a lot more chill.”

“Compared to Oikawa, anyone is chill,” Hanamaki points out.

“And speaking of him, I’d like to point out that Oikawa and I aren’t dating–

“All in good time, Hajime–”

“–and I’m sure you don’t need me to point out that you and Matsukawa aren’t dating either.”

“Oh, I did , actually,” Hanamaki says, voice laced with sarcasm. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t said something.”

Iwaizumi huffs in half hearted annoyance over the phone, then, “Anyway, invite him to one of our calls.”

He’s referring to the twice monthly skype calls that Iwaizumi, Oikawa and Hanamaki do in order to stay in touch after high school. Hanamaki rolls his eyes, even though Iwaizumi can’t see him. “See, it’s hard to take you seriously when you say you’re not dating Oikawa when you tell me you want to meet my future beau like you’re my parents. Next you’ll be wanting Father’s Day cards.”

“We’re not, ” Iwaizumi says, and hangs up.

---

“My friends want to meet you,” Hanamaki says, as they make the slow descent to the lobby. Hanamaki hadn’t tried to close the elevator this morning when he saw Matsukawa rounding the corner–he’d even held it open, a little–but he still leans against the wall so that their shoulders don’t brush.

Matsukawa lifts an eyebrow. “You have friends?”

Hanamaki suddenly wishes that he had closed the elevator, after all. “I’m going to forget you said that.”

“Aw.” Matsukawa pulls his gloved hands out of his pockets to waggle his fingers at Hanamaki. “I was wanting to ask your father for permission. What a perfect coincidence. ”

“Asking one’s father for permission to marry them is archaic,” Hanamaki says, batting Matsukawa’s hands away from his face.

“That’s me, archaic,” Matsukawa says, stuffing his hands back in his pockets.

“Your clothes are archaic,” Hanamaki says. The door dings open. “I think Iwaizumi and Oikawa think they’re my parents,” he mutters, as they step out into the lobby. Hanamaki pulls his massive scarf up over his nose in preparation for arctic wind that blasts through the room every time the door opens. (It is March , why is the world like this–)

“Ah yes, the famed Oikawa,” Matsukawa muses, voice slightly muffled by his own scarf. Hanamaki’s brought him up (and his terrible taste in video games) too many times for Matsukawa to not know who he is.

“You’ll get to meet someone with the same trash tastes as you.”

“Finally,” Matsukawa says, and Hanamaki laughs. He can’t see much of the look Matsukawa shoots him, but his eyes are sort of crinkled, so. That’s a good thing. Probably.

Hanamaki coughs–not a death rattle, just to clear his head from traitorous thoughts . “Anyway, we usually do a Skype call. So. You’re invited.”

“I’d be delighted to attend,” Matsukawa says with a flourish, only he doesn’t take his hands out of his pockets because they’ve stepped outside at this point, so it’s more of an elbow jerk towards the gate than anything. “Send my regards.”

-----

“What do I need to know about these people?” Matsukawa asks, a few days later, the both of them seated on the floor in front of Hanamaki’s laptop. Hanamaki’s learned at this point that Matsukawa is freezing, like all the time , so he’s bundled with blankets and has slippers over his fuzzy socks.

(Because his hands are always cold he has this annoying–frustrating– confusing –habit of sticking them on Hanamaki’s cheeks or his neck or once, under his shirt, just to laugh at him when he jumps. He’s got hands like ice , but Hanamaki’s neck flushes every time anyway. Stupid blood. Stupid skin. Stupid Matsukawa.)

The little noise is playing from the laptop, indicating a call from Iwaizumi, so Hanamaki gives him the streamlined version, hand hovering over the mouse: “Friends from high school volleyball. Both are playing volleyball in college and might go pro afterwards. They’re almost as good as I was, back in the day. And I’ve never met two people who want to date each other more and completely oblivious about it.”

“Oblivious about the other’s feelings, or their own?” Matsukawa asks, pulling his blankets a little tighter around himself and yawning.

“Both,” Hanamaki says, clicking “Accept Call” and bracing himself.

Oikawa’s face is dangerously close to the webcam, obstructing their view of anything else and treating Hanamaki and Matsukawa to the individual hairs in his eyebrow.

“Oikawa,” Hanamaki says, irritated, and then he’s yanked back and Iwaizumi and the rest of their apartment comes into view. There’s the TV that plays the worst game ever played by man, but it’s mercifully turned off.  

“Sorry, I just wanted to see your new friend ,” Oikawa simpers, and Hanamaki shoots a look at Iwaizumi, looking tired (at best) in a gray sweatshirt, because of course he told him. Iwaizumi has the decency to look sheepish as Matsukawa introduces himself.

The call devolves from that point, OIkawa chattering about his day and the girls he met at the corner store. At one point he manages to have a conversation with Matsukawa about what items they have in their inventory, but for the most part, it’s a one sided conversation. Every time Hanamaki glances over at Matsukawa, he’s receded further into his blanket. Hanamaki can’t tell anymore if he’s awake or not.

“So anyway,” Hanamaki says, interrupting a long tirade about the importance of how important hair dryers are–“but Iwa-chan just doesn’t understand , and he won’t let me get a new one even though mine is broken ”– “Do you still hate Ushijima?”

Oikawa sniffs and presses his lips together in what he must think is a prim expression. “I don’t hate Ushiwaka-chan. My feelings have faded to a casual indifference with flares of annoyance.”

Iwaizumi snorts. “Just last week you said you wanted to staple his mouth shut.”

Hanamaki tuts disapprovingly and Oikawa shoots a betrayed look at Iwaizumi. “Like I said, flares.

When Hanamaki glances over at Matsukawa, he’s wearing a bemused expression. His hair is fluffed around his head and he looks sleepy and soft and warm, and Hanamaki wants to bundle him in blankets and tuck him into bed even though he has terrible taste in games and says bless you when people cough.

This is a problem, Hanamaki thinks, turning back to his computer where Oikawa and Iwaizumi are bickering about the thermostat.

“Well. That was something,” Matsukawa says, as Hanamaki closes the screen to his laptop. The call had ended after an hour and Oikawa making–and burning–ramen. Iwaizumi had hung up when the smoke alarm started to go off.

“Twice a month,” Hanamaki says grimly. “Twenty four times a year. Probably like a year of my life, by the time I’m dead.”

Matsukawa laughs. “That makes two of us, then.”

-----

“Why do I call you so much?” Hanamaki asks, digging his free hand in his hair.

“Cause you’re having a crisis,” Iwaizumi points out helpfully. “A Matsukawa related crisis.”

“A crisis,” Hanamaki repeats.

“Yes. And by the way, you’re so lucky I picked up and not Oikawa. He gives terrible advice.”

“I know exactly how Oikawa’s love life is going, so believe me, I know,” Hanamaki gripes. He hesitates. “Do you, though? Have better advice?”

He’s reached this point, he realizes, leaning his head against the fridge, which he’s been pacing in front of for the last five minutes because he wants to cook but not just cook , cook Matsukawa’s favorite foods . He never wants to cook for anyone but himself, and now–he just wants to make him soup, or something.

He’s reached the point where he’s asking Iwaizumi , of all people. But it’s not like he has many other options–he can’t ask the vending machine downstairs how to manage his non-existent love life.  

“Not really,” Iwaizumi says. “I say just do it, though.”

“This isn’t fucking Nike , Iwaizumi,” Hanamaki says, exasperated. “This is my life. My future. This could change everything.”

“I will personally come down and inflict bodily harm if you don’t bitch up,” Iwaizumi says. “If you couldn’t ever beat me at arm wrestling when you played volleyball, I doubt you’d be able to put up a fight now.”

“Okay first of all , that’s a really touchy subject and I don’t want to talk about it. And second of all, I don’t think that’s gonna–”

“Just think of how much stronger I am now than I was in highschool,” Iwaizumi says simply. Before Hanamaki can say anything else, he’s hung up.

---

"What do you even hate about it so much?"  Matsukawa asks, looking amused.

They’re walking to class, and somehow they’ve wound up discussing the game. Hanamaki could go on and on about it, but for some reason, lately, he wants to talk about different, stupid things with Matuskawa instead. Like date spots. Or his favorite movies. Or how to throw yourself off a cliff because no crush is worth it.

"I don't hate it," Hanamaki lies. "It's just a game for thirteen year olds." He looks pointedly at Matsukawa. 

"You are such a liar.” He shakes his head sadly. “So much rage and spite in such a tiny body.”

"Okay, fine, fuck you," Hanamaki says.

"Only if you ask really nicely."

Hanamaki’s going to reply to that, something witty, but he remembers what Iwaizumi had told him and stops on the sidewalk instead, almost slips on ice. Matsukawa stops a few steps in front of him, turns back, but Hanamaki can't see what kind of expression he's making because of his massive scarf.

Damn that scarf, he thinks suddenly. Fuck that scarf.

"Do you really mean that?" He asks, picturing Iwaizumi threatening him to give him strength.

"Well. It's a little fast, Makki, but–"

"No, obviously not that," Hanamaki interrupts. "But would you..." He can’t find the words all of a sudden. "I don't know, would you want to–"

"Get dinner?" Matsukawa says, and he pulls down the edge of this scarf and smiles. "Only if you're paying."

"Okay," Hanamaki says, feeling a bit warm and forgetting his bank balance for a second.

------

“So when’s the wedding?” Oikawa croons on their next skype call, leaning way too close  to the webcam. “I can’t wait to see my dear Makki in a dress.”

“Excuse you, I wear the pants in this relationship,” Hanamaki says, crossing his arms.

“Unless they’re on my bedroom floor,” Matsukawa chimes in, swooping in to leer at the webcam over Hanamaki shoulder. They high five while Iwaizumi groans and Oikawa wrinkles his nose.

Ew. As much as we’d like to stay for your disgusting display of PDA, we have to go,” OIkawa says, voice nasal because his face is still scrunched up. He clicks out and Hanamaki and Matsukawa are left staring at the little icon that declares that the call is over, at a record breaking 15 minutes and 25 seconds.

“PDA, huh?” Matsukawa says, still draped over Hanamaki’s shoulder.  

“Only if you ask really nicely,” Hanamaki says, turning his head to look at Matsukawa.

Matsukawa hums. He doesn’t ask when he leans in, but Hanamaki can’t say he minds.