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Here's to the Sixth Time

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The first time you sleep with your best friend, it’s an accident.

You’re both drunk and both sad, though looking back that’s the least unusual thing about that night. At least for that period in your lives, when the two of you had your own demons clinging to your shoulders and an array of ways in which to deal with them that all happened to be destructive. We were kids back then is how you’ll wave it off later. He’ll agree.

He always does.

But the first time, he didn’t. The first time, he corners you in some stranger’s bedroom, his eyes a little bloodshot and his tongue tasting like vodka and your hands are on his chest and you tell him no, that you can’t, that you’re both drunk, Tōru, there’s people outside who could hear you—

“I don’t care.” He says. Simple, like you asked him what his favorite color is. There’s conviction behind the words and in hindsight, that should have been warning enough that he’s already thought about this too much to be willing to let it go.

And so the first time is the first time. It’s awkward and a little uncomfortable but you’re too eager to be bent under his hands, like you’re desperate to be molded into something worth loving, and maybe he sees that because he tells you, with his lips against the shell of your ear, that you’re everything he’s ever wanted.

He falls asleep soon after. You think it’s rather conceited of him to expect you to be there when he wakes up.

So you aren’t.

__

The second time you sleep with him, it’s a coincidence.

He’s alone, and so are you. In the romantic sense, at least, because he’s just broken up with his sixth girlfriend that year and you’ve been stood up at a fancy restaurant. So you drive to his apartment across the city, still in your dress and heels and your makeup running horribly despite your best efforts not to cry.

He answers immediately, as he always does, and he’s got that mask on. The one that he adapted after the first time, the one that’s almost forcefully platonic and concerned and so stupidly believable that you almost want him to keep it on, but you’re not in the mood that night and so you blurt, rather stupidly,

“Have sex with me.”

And the argument he puts up is almost laughable, that you’re just upset and that it won’t make you feel better, but he eats his own words when he’s fucking you not ten minutes later on his couch, his hair soft and wavy in your fingers and his heart in his throat while he pants, while he tries to act like this is just what friends do.

He doesn’t fall asleep after this. He’s startlingly sober and so are you, and you’re subjected to one of those Oikawa Tōru stares that make you feel like his eyes can see to your bones.

You stay a while, as if you alleviate your guilt. You make a few jokes that he laughs at while he slips his mask back on, though his mouth is a little wobbly at the corner and you’re genuinely concerned that he might cry. He tells you about his ex-girlfriend. You get the feeling that he barely even remembers her name. You don’t want to know what that means for you.

You tell him that you and he ought to hang out with Iwaizumi again. That it’ll be like university again. Before the three of you became adults.

Oikawa laughs. It sounds pained.

“Yeah,” he says, “the three of us.”

__

The third time, it’s a mistake.

It’s a mistake because it was your suggestion that the three of you catch up and it’s a mistake because you didn’t leave when Iwaizumi did. Because the third time, you’re staring at Oikawa from across the living room— you were adamant about not sitting on the couch with the two of them— and you’re frowning.

“It’s nothing.” He tells you. “Just a stupid high school rivalry.”

But it’s not nothing to you, it can never be nothing when it involves Oikawa Tōru.

“You’re turning down the offer of a lifetime.” You remind him, as if he isn’t aware. Iwaizumi buys the unbothered act a lot faster than you do, but maybe it’s because he just doesn’t like trying to change Oikawa’s mind.

That’s your job, you suppose.

“You sound a lot like him right now.” Oikawa shrugs with one shoulder, and it almost makes you furious at how little he tries to hide the bitterness in his voice. “He always said that in high school.”

“Last time I checked, I wasn’t the best volleyball player in Japan!” You point out, and you can tell he sees how you’re grinding your teeth, how you’re trying to keep your composure.

That mask of his slips off. He’s dangerous tonight but so are you, armed with grudges and exasperation. He’s stepping closer to you and his downstairs neighbor is yelling at you, telling the both of you to keep it down because you’re absolutely screaming—

Oikawa makes sure you’re quiet when he fucks you against the floor, leaving small rug burns on your back that you’ll ignore as much as possible in the days following, his voice dark and his eyes even darker while he stares at you. Desperate. Lost.

You tell him later, when you’re getting dressed, that he needs to stop being a baby. That playing on the same team as someone he hates can't be that bad.

“You don’t know him like I do.” Oikawa snaps back. You suppose that’s true. You’ve only known Oikawa for three out of his twenty-four years on Earth, even though sometimes it feels like the only thing you’ve ever known is the times where he’s present.

“Just keep an open mind,” you remind him.

Oikawa Tōru agrees to do so. You’ve asked him to, after all.

__

The fourth time is a death sentence.

He has color high in his cheeks and he’s smiling, so you take it that he has something important to tell you.

“I need a date.”

You blink at him slowly, taking in his words but not actually computing them. “What?”

“There’s this,” he rakes a hand through his hair, “stupid dinner party that someone on the team is throwing tomorrow night and I need to bring someone.”

“You don’t need to bring anyone.”

“Yeah, well. He doesn’t have a date, so I wanted to bring one.”

“I thought you were above pissing contests, Tōru.” You say, and although you try your best to stay amused with his reasoning, you can’t help but feel a little bitter at it as well. He wants to use you as some sort of trophy, as an object with bragging rights attached. You don’t know what Ushijima Wakatoshi did to Oikawa back in high school, but you assume it must be nothing short of scarring to have the setter still hung up on it to this day.

“I was, but he’s been really annoying this week!” He says. Like that makes it any better.

“He’s your teammate, Tōru. Don’t try to rub him the wrong way.” You point out.

You still end up going.

It’s busy and loud and there’s banners and ridiculous themed food. It’s less of a dinner party than it is a celebration of the impending olympics. You try to grin when people ask your name and how long you’ve been dating Oikawa— we’re just friends, thanks— but Oikawa is gripping your arm and steering you around and you want to break away from him, ask what’s wrong with him—

“He’s not here.” He grumbles. “Figure’s he’s fashionably late. He’ll have some half-assed excuse when he gets here, I’ll bet.”

And you can’t help it. You pull Oikawa away from all the chatter, all the watchful eyes, and you pin him to a wall in a quiet hallway with your interrogating gaze.

“What’s gotten into you?” You hiss. “You’re going to the Olympics, for fuck’s sake, and you know part of the reason is him! You’re a team, this isn’t like you!”

“Because you’re the expert when it comes to who I am, right?” He snaps back. Some laughter bleeds out from the living room, warm and jovial. You don’t belong here, surrounded by an element that you barely have a passing knowledge of. Your heart clenches and he sees it, sees the vulnerability in your eyes, that need to be accepted and loved and wanted, and it’s the same look that you gave him the First Time. So he tries the same remedy.

Getting fucked on a stranger’s bathroom counter isn’t something that you ever wanted for yourself but you don’t protest, not when his hips and his hands know exactly what you want and his mouth swallows every noise you make. He fucks you like you’re the last thing he has— and maybe you are, with how busy Iwaizumi has been lately— but not like he treasures you.

“Thanks,” he says when you're finished, “I needed that.”

Needed that. Not needed you. You use tissues to wipe away the proof that he was ever inside of you from your stomach. He apologizes. You tell him not to worry about it.

You exit from the bathroom as stealthily as you can and it’s not moments later that another teammate of Oikawa’s sticks his head into the hallway.

“Ushijima’s here.” He says. He looks slightly happy, so Oikawa mimics the expression until he’s no longer being scrutinized. It drops the second the two of you are alone again.

“You’ll see.” He says as he fixes the cuff of his shirt. “You’ll meet him and you’ll see. He’s the worst, and I mean that.”

But you don’t see. You don’t see. Because you go out there and you meet Ushijima Wakatoshi and you like him.

You like him a lot.

__

The fifth time is a lost opportunity.

He finally gets you in a bed that doesn’t belong to a stranger. It only takes him a few moments of touching you, of getting lost in any and every thing about you, to realize that this is the place you should be, caged under his body and your nails running down his back. He hopes that you leave marks, prays that you leave scratches visible enough for his teammates to see, because while Oikawa Tōru is many things, stupid is not one of them.

He sees something in your eyes that he covets for himself when you come to his practices, something that blooms only when you look at Ushijima. It’s soft and serene and patient and everything that love should be, and it’s almost painfully obvious that you’re unaware of it. But Oikawa doesn’t have the luxury to turn away from what’s happening right in front of him, not after coming to terms with the own feelings that he’s been battling down for nearly four years.

I love you. I love you. His mouth forms the words against your neck in silence and you’re too caught up in the casual carnality that the two of you share in to notice it. It’s enraging, almost, that he knows this is a goodbye, that he’s been indulging in you for so long only to know that you’ll soon be yanked out of his grasp. Because for every long glance you spare Ushijima Wakatoshi, you are rewarded with an almost-smile and twitching hands that seem like they want nothing more than to touch you.

The thought that you’d share a moment like this— with you grasping the sheets and your lips forming a prayer entirely composed of Oikawa’s name— with anyone else is enough to make him want to break down, want to ask you over and over why you can’t just love him, why he always has to lose

He tries to hold you afterwards. You give him a pained smile, a pitying smile, when you push him away.

“Sorry.” You say. Your voice is hoarse. “I told a friend I’d meet them later. I have to go get ready.”

The fifth time is a lost opportunity. Lost because he knows where you’re going after this. Lost because you’re lying to him, and he doesn’t have the guts to call you on it. Lost because there’s a confession on the tip of his tongue that’s begging to be said, if not to change fate than to just relieve the pressure in his chest. Lost because he just swallows it down and watches you go.
__

There is no sixth time.

You’re being driven off down the road in a stupid limousine, with a stupid sign on the back of it that says ‘Just Married!’, as if you’re expecting the rest of the world to want to join you in your happiness. Oikawa Tōru, for one, thinks that such an expectation is thoroughly selfish of you.

“I can’t believe they actually got married.” Iwaizumi says, but what Oikawa knows that he means is ‘I can’t believe she didn’t end up with you, Tōru, because you were so obviously in love with her that it hurt’.

And Oikawa says “He’s not good enough for her,” in that bitter tone of his, but what he really means is ‘Ushijima Wakatoshi is five times the man I will ever be, because he realized what he wanted before it was too late and he made sure not to take advantage of it’.

“I’m sorry.” Iwaizumi says. Oikawa looks over at him and just shakes his head, slow and deliberate.

A cherry blossom falls from the tree they’re standing under. A beautiful, perfect day for a wedding, Oikawa thinks. The blossom lands on his shoulder, and he brushes it off.

Later that night, he’ll return to his apartment— quiet, so quiet— and walk past the couch that he had you on, on the carpet that burned your back, and into his bedroom where the only source of light is his alarm clock.

He has no alcohol in his system to blame for his inner turmoil. There was no reception at your wedding; you and Ushijima had put the money towards your honeymoon instead.

And so that’s what he thinks about. How there will be another man with you tonight, consummating a relationship that should have been his, large hands all over your body and those sounds you make, those sounds

This time, Oikawa Tōru is alone in his room, sitting on his bed with his head in his hands as he weeps. There’s no way to escape the thought of you, not when his brain so desperately resists his desire to love anyone else, anyone who isn’t the new wife of his captain. That should be him with you, telling you that he loves you while the two of you are connected in some lavish hotel room. That should be him getting to see the glimmer of your wedding ring in the low light of a bedside lamp. That should be him laying next to you, wondering what the future will be like, picturing children running around the home that he gets to return to after matches.

He wonders, briefly, if this is what it’s like to lose. To really lose, not just have the hope of nationals taken away from you in high school or having to suck up your pride. If loss isn’t just a bitter thought at night but an open chasm in your heart, desperately trying to fill itself with memories and what-ifs.

But then again, a small part of him chimes in, it was rather conceited of him to expect you to be there after every time, when he never offered you that love and attention that you so needed. It was conceited of him to expect you to pick him over Ushijima when he hasn’t even made himself a contender.

It was conceited of him to want you to pick the lesser of two men.

He should be glad that you didn’t.