The six of them are exchanging words before the match, which is typical, but the way it's going is notably different. It's competitive, yes, but it's more blatantly flirty than it had any right to be. The remaining members of both teams left it alone, because they either knew too well what was going on and wanted nothing to do with it or had no idea what was happening and wanted nothing to do with it. In any case, it was five against one and Oikawa thought at least one of his teammates could do him a favor and come back him up.
No one cared what he thought, though.
"Alright! So if we win, you have to come cheer for us at the next match!" Nishinoya exclaimed, pointing to Oikawa as if there was any question as to who he was talking about.
"And when we win, you'll have to do the same, I'm assuming?" Oikawa prompted, because of course he'd take that, he'd never hear the end of it if he didn't, but he had to work out the details here.
Nishinoya nodded vigorously and Tsukishima said something along the lines of "Huh? You're really going to go ahead and claim the victory?" and Yamaguchi pointed out to him that that's definitely what Karasuno was doing, too, and Tsukishima was insisting that it was different, somehow. But Oikawa was mainly focused on Hinata, who looked at him with a face far more serious than the situation required and said, "Of course we will! We'd do it even without the bet; we have to cheer on our Great King! It doesn't matter which one of us it is, we're going to beat Shiratorizawa!" Hinata's face changed into a bright grin before adding, "It's going to be Karasuno, though."
Oikawa was struck, not for the first time, by how real this was. He may be working against them on the court, but this was more real than volleyball. Maybe not more important; volleyball was incredibly important to all of them, even if Tsukishima would never admit it. But these were things that could coincide, their relationship and their separate teams. Oikawa may have felt left out, at times, but this reminded him of how real it was, despite how new. If they lost, they'd mourn it, regret it, think about what they'd done, then go and cheer for Oikawa despite that, because he was important to them, too.
"Hey, don't zone out," Kageyama said, snapping him out of his thoughts. Hinata and Nishinoya had begun hyping each other up at some point, but the remaining three had their eyes on him. Sometimes, he felt like they could all read him like an open book [even Hinata and Nishinoya, when they were watching] and he still wasn't sure if he liked that or not. "We have to get back to our teams and practice."
Oikawa nodded and smiled at the three first years, hoping it was enough to get those serious looks off their faces, or at least directed somewhere else, or maybe just directed at him for a different reason. "Of course! Good luck!" As if he'd ever told another team good luck when he thought they were something that couldn't be destroyed in an instant.
"Good luck to you too!" Yamaguchi said, and Kageyama added, "You're going to need it," while Tsukishima and Nishinoya gave him looks that backed up the sentiment. As cute as they were, Oikawa needed them to stop this talking-as-a-unit thing they did when they tried to be threatening, because it was kind of creepy. It wasn't just them, either, it was the whole team and Oikawa knew that his team never did that. He didn't dwell on it for long, though, as they all really did need to go practice, so they dispersed. As much as a group could disperse when the majority of the group was going to the same place.
"So, you were serious about that, huh?" Iwaizumi prompted when he returned, throwing a ball at him.
"When have I ever lied about such a thing, Iwa-chan?" Oikawa answered with a question.
Iwaizumi paused, as if he swore Oikawa had lied about this before and he couldn't remember it, and Oikawa almost felt hurt. "I guess you haven't. Don't go easy on 'em because of it."
"Don't worry about that! I've never went easy on anyone when it comes to volleyball," Oikawa said, and went to work on practicing for the match.
In the end, it didn't matter that Oikawa didn't go easy on them. He didn't need to. Karasuno won entirely in their own right. Oikawa knew he was playing as hard as he could; he hated nothing more than losing and it didn't matter who it was to. He watched the opposing team cheer and knew he should feel more joy for the absolute happiness on their faces, but he felt tears running down his cheeks and knew he could deal with it later.
None of them approached him afterwards, which was good by him. They had a right to celebrate, but he couldn't do anything but sorrow right now. There was no reason for them to try to appear differently to make the others happy; they could do without for now. He went out and ate food with his team, and if most of them cried during that it was no matter, and it was fine if he went home and cried himself to sleep.
Maybe all the crying was why he woke up the next day feeling good. He had full intentions of going and cheering for Karasuno like he'd said he would, but now he felt undeniably good about it. He was going to cheer for Karasuno and they would win, because if they didn't it'd make it worse, somehow, and he'd have to try to console five whole people and that wasn't something he was talented enough to do. He could barely console one person. He put on some casual clothes, throwing on his volleyball club jacket as well, before heading out. It may not have been explictly said, but he figured this was an unspoken rule of the bet. People should know who he was and, not that he was famous, but the cameras would recognize him if he had that jacket on. The local sports news did seem to have a bizarre interest in him, after all. He swore he knew nothing about how or why, not that anyone believed him.
When Oikawa showed up at the gym, he was surprised. Karasuno had gotten a cheer club, huh? He looked down at the club itself and it looked like they didn't know about it either. He was kind of impressed that someone had managed to throw such a group together this quickly without the club even knowing, but this just meant it was harder for him to find somewhere to sit that was acceptably solitary while not being off in the middle of nowhere.
He watched the two clubs doing their practices, mainly focusing on Shiratorizawa. He knew what both clubs would try to do to show off: Ushijima would spike with enough force to send the ball into the crowd, Hinata and Kageyama would do their quick, Nishinoya would do the most impressive receive he could do with however the balls were thrown. He knew that Karasuno was taking this seriously. He knew that Shiratorizawa was taking it seriously, as well. How seriously they were taking Karasuno, however, was a different question.
"Aren't you from the team that Karasuno beat yesterday?"
Oikawa had to put all his strength into stopping himself from jumping. He looked down at the owner of the voice, the asker of the questions, the master of startling the shit out of the Great King himself. A boy with dark brown hair, probably a first year in high school, standing beside another boy with lighter hair of the same age in the seats two down from him. He was giving Oikawa a look that could only be described as distrusting, as if he could only be here for evil deeds, but that wasn't what had the setter looking at him so hard. These two looked familiar, like he'd seen them before, but he could not think of when.
"I'm from Seijoh, yes," Oikawa replied, looking at them with a much less fierce curiosity. "I'm the captain and setter, Oikawa Tooru."
He expected introductions from the younger boys in turn, or at least the light-haired one. He looked nicer. What he got instead is a mean look and an open mouth, then nothing, because there was a familiar voice yelling right at them.
"You guys found each other!" Hinata yelled. Oikawa should be used to it, by now, but he's still not sure how something so small can be so loud and it feels like half the people in the gym turn and look to see what the little Karasuno kid is yelling about. "Oikawa, please explain to Kouji and Izumin what's going on if they're confused! I'm not sure how much they remember from middle school!"
"Of course I'll take care of your little friends for you, Chibi-chan!" Oikawa called back, climbing over the back of the seat in front of them so he's right behind where the two plan on sitting, as if to prove it.
"Thank you!" Hinata yelled and went back to practicing, as if he didn't just yell so loud he shouldn't, legally, have enough air in his lungs to do anything volleyball related. All the people in the stands stared for a moment, before deciding there's more important things to look at and it appeared Karasuno's third years gave Hinata a stern talking to because he didn't have to yell so loud, really, Oikawa could have easily heard him if he'd been half that loud.
"You're friends with Sho-chan?" the light-haired one asked.
"Of a sort. He must have showed me a picture of you two before; you looked familiar. Are you the ones that played volleyball with him in middle school?"
"If you could call it volleyball," the dark-haired one said. "Name's Sekimukai."
"Yukitaka," the light-haired one provided.
"Pleasure to meet you," Oikawa said. "I was serious when I told Hinata I'd take care of you, so don't be afraid to ask me questions throughout the game if you want."
"I think we could kind of figure it out," Yukitaka said. "But it'll be good to have someone who actually knows what's happening with us, so thank you."
"Shouyou's never mentioned being friends with the captain of another team," Sekimukai said, the darkness from earlier gone, but now it was just replaced with complete curiosity.
"He's never mentioned me at all?" Oikawa asked, a bit hurt.
"Nope," Sekimukai shook his head. "He never really talks about himself. We didn't even know Kageyama was on his team, much less that there were okay with each other."
"Does he not talk about volleyball at all?" Oikawa asked. He wasn't hurt anymore, if Hinata didn't mention that of course he didn't mention Oikawa. Not that Oikawa was less than Kageyama, just that Kageyama was a sort of . . . step one. Now he was just confused. Why wouldn't he tell his friends something like that?
"He does, tells us he's playing and how the team's doing," Yukitaka said. "He just doesn't give specifics."
"I didn't think much of it before, but you're making a face like it's a big deal," Sekimukai said, looking down at the court and at Hinata like he'd turn and explain himself. "I don't like things like this. I hope we find out why soon."
Oikawa couldn't say he liked it either. He couldn't think of any reason why Hinata wouldn't mention it. Did he never say who his teammates were? Talk about them? These two seemed to think they were close with Hinata, so they had to be basing it off something. At this point, Karasuno was such a part of Hinata's life that he had to be hiding it, didn't he?
He didn't have long to think about it, because soon the game started and he was quite busy, in between cheering for his boys and explaining to Sekimukai and Yukitaka what was going on. In the beginning, he only cheered for the first years and Nishinoya, because that was all the agreement entailed. He couldn't help it, though, when time went on and he found himself cheering for the other members of Karasuno. He was getting into it and, for better or worse, Karasuno was his team right now.
It's halfway through the third set [if there's not a deuce, anyway] when Oikawa realizes that Yukitaka is giving him this look. It's not a bad look, like the ones Sekimukai had given him, but certainly a look. Like he'd just figured out something.
"I'm being blatant, aren't I?" Oikawa asked.
"You're certainly playing favorites," Yukitaka laughed. "I don't think anyone else would notice unless they weren't already suspicious."
"What made you suspicious?"
"You're giving off an attitude like you're not usually this nice."
Oikawa opened his mouth to protest, then closed it, because it was probably true. Nothing he could do about that, then. It was inevitable.
It probably didn't help that the next time Nishinoya pulled off a particularly amazing receive and Oikawa cheered far louder than the rest of the crowd, Nishinoya turned and blew him a kiss, which he caught and cherished. Tanaka started laughing so loud Oikawa was sure that he'd get in trouble, but thankfully he was stopped by Daichi.
"You're so incredibly embarrassing," Sekimukai said, leaning further away as if to unassociate himself with Oikawa. Ah. Time for his own punishment. No one could appreciate love, could they?
"I thought it was awfully romantic," Oikawa defended, but Sekimukai didn't seem like he wanted to argue with him. Good. He would defend the incredibly cheesy moment until his death.
The rest of the game went by with no real remarkable actions for Oikawa, other than being dragged along the absolute emotional roller coaster ride that it was. He did get some glares from quite a lot of people when Yamaguchi went to serve and his words of encouragement dissolved into "Destroy them, Yamaguchi! Slaughter them! Fuck it all up! Get 'em, Tadashi, get 'em!" which seemed to work well for the pinch server, who gave him a grin afterwords. So who cared what other people thought about it.
When the game was over and the players started filing off the court, Oikawa thought he was going to have a moment to rest from that absolute trip. He didn't think he had any more tears to shed, but it seemed he had about ten to spare in solidarity with Karasuno. They'd done it, they'd beat Shiratorizawa, and he was so incredibly happy for them. He was excited to celebrate with them, but he could walk at a normal pace to find them.
Sekimukai and Yukitaka had other ideas, though. They needed to talk to Hinata right now, immediately, and they needed Oikawa, too, apparently, because one of them grabbed his wrist [he's not entirely sure which] and started running, leaving him to focus on doing his best not to fall. It was not at all a rest or a normal pace. They bumped into a few people, but Yukitaka apologized for them, so there was no worries about that. Oikawa properly found his footing right before they reached their destination.
Oikawa had no idea how they'd found him that quickly, really.
"Why didn't you tell us!" Sekimukai demanded, before they'd even stopped all the way. He finally let go of Oikawa's wrist [so that was who had it? he had a mighty strong grip] so he could point, which he did with vigor. "You didn't tell us Kageyama was your teammate, you didn't tell us anything about any of your other teammates, you sure as hell didn't tell us about all this-" he gestured wildly at Oikawa, Nishinoya, and the Karasuno first years, all of which were kind of awkwardly standing there "-not even without saying who they were! We've told you about our teammates, maybe not in detail, but at least in passing!"
Hinata stared at Sekimukai, before looking at Yukitaka, as if for confirmation that this was something that had mattered, where he found a similiar expression. He cocked his head to the side, looking geniunely confused. "I didn't think that it mattered?"
"Of course it matters! They're all important to you, Sho-chan. You've got some . . . thing going on with that certain lot, but the rest are still obviously important to you. We're your friends, we want to know about things that are important to you," Yukitaka insisted.
"But it's all entrenched in volleyball," Hinata said, as if that made sense to anyone other than him. Apparently, he got from the expressions of his friends that it didn't, because he explained: "I know I bugged you a lot about volleyball in middle school, but now I have my own team, so I can talk to them about it, so you don't have to hear. And my teammates, I can't separate them from volleyball, so I know I'd talk about them in those terms and I didn't want to make you have to hear about it anymore."
"You think we don't want to know about them because you'd tell us their positions! How well they played! That doesn't take up an ounce of conversation, Sho-chan!" Yukitaka said. "I'd love to hear a bit of volleyball information about them if it meant you told us about people who are clearly the most important in your life right now."
"We don't hate volleyball, Shouyou. Just because we're glad you have an actual team you can play with instead of having to practice with us doesn't mean we never want to hear anything about it," Sekimukai added.
This seemed to get the idea into Hinata's head, because he stared at his friends for a moment before saying, far too loudly, "Thank you so much! You guys are so nice!" which caused both boys to blush and look away, mumbling stuff no one could hear, and Hinata grabbed their hands and just went to rambling.
"They're so cute," Oikawa decided.
"And so stupid," Tsukishima added.
"It shouldn't be charming," Kageyama said, shaking his head.
Yamaguchi seemed too distracted to add something about how cute they were, instead muttering about how it seemed like such a nonissue.
"You followed through on the bet, huh?" Nishinoya said, slapping Oikawa on the back and effectively making him jump into the air. It just made the smaller boy laugh [and the other three laughed, too, they just pretended not to] and Oikawa knew he had to get better in terms of noticing shorter people. Today was bringing out a lot of his flaws, so it seemed.
"I always do. My word is a sacred thing," Oikawa said. The three first years started laughed even harder. How insulting!
Nishinoya jumped just high enough to plant a kiss on Oikawa's cheek. "I know it is! Now we have some celebrating to do, let's go!"
There was nothing he could do, then. The battle had been lost. Oikawa had to go along with whatever they were doing, which he did. No one questioned it, though he did get some glares from Daichi and a stern talking to from Sugawara about not letting a certain five Karasuno volleyball club members do anything stupid in their excitement.
It wasn't until late that night that the team [and Oikawa, still, unable to escape. or maybe he didn't want to, because his boyfriends were very cute this hyped up] finally watched the news segment on the game of that day, in a rerun. Everyone hovered around the TV, excitement practically cracking through the air, as the woman talked about how Karasuno, the team nobody really thought had a chance of winning, had come through and won. This time, they actually focused more on the winning team than the losing team, an absolute shock. It must have been strange having to direct their cameras somewhere else.
Most of the team dispersed, happy with their segment, but Kageyama and Yamaguchi stayed around. Oikawa was about to wander off, as well, but Kageyama said: "Oh, I didn't think they'd actually care enough to mention Oikawa being there" and of course Oikawa had to look. When he did, he saw a clip of him shouting his lungs off in support of . . . someone, honestly he couldn't remember who and he wasn't naming any names at the moment. The news lady was mentioning something about how much good sportsmanship he had to have to be there for Karasuno, a higher praise than he deserved. He would never have done it if he hadn't found himself in this relationship.
"You're not even playing and they still find a way to talk about how," Yamaguchi teased, to which Oikawa gave a showy shrug.
"What can I say? I'm charming and the ladies love me," Oikawa said.
"It's only because that woman has a thing for you, which gives me the creeps," Kageyama said, as if that would shut Oikawa down.
"What can I say? I'm charming and the ladies love me," Oikawa repeated, making Yamaguchi snort in laughter and Kageyama roll his eyes. "It won't be long before far more people know your names than mine, so I have to enjoy it while I can, right? It'll be more than just the local news talking about you soon. I bet some of the more intense fans are already talking about you right now in some online circles."
"Do people really pay that much attention to high school volleyball?" Kageyama asked. "I don't know why anyone other than the people playing and family and friends would care, really."
"Some people just like it, I guess," Yamaguchi said. "Like that old guy that was there today, that the third years had seen before. Some people do better watching than playing."
Kageyama still had a look on his face like he didn't really believe it, and Oikawa wasn't sure if he was struggling to comprehend that people could like things in ways different from him or if he couldn't imagine himself being something to talk about to people outside the immediate realm. Oikawa opted for the former, if only because it was a more fun way to think about it. "There's people who like things you don't, Tobio, don't act like that's so bizarre."
"Yea, I don't get everything everybody likes, like watersports!" And Christ, when had Hinata showed up? Oikawa had just had the thought today that he needed to get better at noticing when people shorter than him approached. It wasn't like Hinata could be sneaky or anything, the boy probably didn't know what the word stealth even meant.
Wait, why was that his immediate go to for things he didn't understand. Had Hinata secretly been antagonizing over how much he didn't get watersports. Oikawa didn't even think Hinata knew about watersports. He had to assume the middle blocker knew about kinks, he wasn't dumb, but he didn't think those two words would ever come up in a sentence together.
"What's watersports?" Kageyama asked, looking almost offended with confusion. "Like, water skiing? What's not to understand about that?"
Oikawa and Yamaguchi both absolutely lost it, clutching their stomachs and leaning over, laughing from deep inside. If they made a few kind of gross snorts and maybe a few hacks when they lost their breath, that wasn't to be acknowledged. Hinata had apparently ran off after shocking the three, like that was something he dropped down every day, his inability to understand certain kinks, so there was no one to answer Kageyama.
"What's so funny? What'd I say?" Kageyama asked, looking between his two boyfriends, which didn't help either of them in fighting off their laughter. "You're going to make yourself pass out if you keep laughing so hard, idiots! You need air and I need you to tell me what the hell just happened!"
Finally, Yamaguchi stood straighter so he could look at Kageyama when he said: "He means - he means pee, Kageyama."
Kageyama stared at Yamaguchi, making the freckled one snort out a few more bits of residual laughter at the utter confusion on the other's face, before saying, "What the fuck is there to understand about pissing? You're telling me he doesn't piss? He doesn't know how to piss? He doesn't know the science behind pissing?"
"No, no, no, no, like during sex and stuff. Like, for arousal," Yamaguchi corrected, having to hold himself back from laughing in his boyfriend's face. Oikawa had no inhibitions against that, though, so he was still losing it beside them, probably laughing more than he did when they started this conversation.
Kageyama stared, saying nothing. He stared some more. His mouth dropped open a little bit and his face adopted a look of absolute horror. No words came out. He was too busy trying to figure out what to do with this new information handed to him. He was antagonizing over not being able to understand watersports.
He didn't stop, either. Kageyama spent the rest of the night like that [to be fair, it wasn't that long before everyone went home]. The only person who questioned it was Tsukishima, who just asked "What's wrong with him?" and nodded solemnly when Oikawa said he was trying to understand watersports, as if that was a part of life that every teenage boy must work through.
The next time Oikawa went to school, he spent a lot more time engaging in their group text than usual. A group text that was an absolute mess, one couldn't expect six people to hold a single conversation so usually there was two, three, sometimes four going on at once with wildly different topics and if you jumped in late, there was no figuring out what was happening. He may have been smiling at his phone like a sap for most of it, but that couldn't be helped. His boys were still excited and he couldn't help but be excited with him.
No one mentioned it, anyway, until practice.
There wasn't really a reason for the third years to go to practice, but they all showed up and no one said anything to them. A few people gave Oikawa a certain look, but there was third years that did that, too, so he figured it had nothing to do with going to practice. He grabbed a ball, planning to practice his serves. He'd lost the team points in the last game because he couldn't control his emotions and his serves went out of control. He wasn't sure how he could fix the whole emotion thing, but practicing the serve itself wouldn't do any harm, anyway. Maybe he could ask Yamaguchi to teach him the jump float serve so he'd have something new to do.
"I haven't done anything yet," Oikawa whined, turning to look at Iwaizumi. "What is it?"
"You've always done something," Iwaizumi dismissed. "Did they give you money? Promise to teach you some of their tricks? You might do it if they gave you enough praise."
"What, that? I was just cheering them on like a good boyfriend would do," Oikawa said, and the room went silent and he realized everyone had kind of been listening. It wasn't a secret, but he hadn't told anyone [but Iwaizumi, of course, but he didn't count] and he wouldn't have thrown it out there if he'd thought everyone was going to stop and look at him like that. There was a moment where he thought he'd really fucked up, but then everyone went back to whatever they were doing and Oikawa was reminded that it was just volleyball. It was important, yea, but it was still just volleyball.
"You would never do such a thing and we both know that," Iwaizumi said, shaking his head. "What'd they do?"
"Maybe I've just matured when you weren't looking."
"I'm always watching to see if you've matured and I've only ever been disappointed."
"It was a bet."
Iwaizumi breathed out a laugh and nodded. "Yea, that makes more sense." He started to turn and Oikawa thought he was actually going to get to practice his serves, but Iwaizumi stopped again. "You really do care about them, don't you?"
It was nearly insulting, but Oikawa was too self aware for it to be. He knew there'd been people he'd dated for months and not gave a shit about, not really. They were fun, on some level, sure, but he just didn't care enough to leave. But it was different with them. He really did care about them, each of them. So he nodded. "Yea, I do."
Iwaizumi finished his turn now, heading off to do whatever it was he was planning on doing. "Maybe you did mature a little when I wasn't looking," he said as he walked away, just loud enough for Oikawa to hear.
He stared after him for a moment, watching him start talking to a group of second years, telling them what they should be working on. Oikawa grinned, big and wide and genuine. Maybe Iwaizumi was right about that.