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The Unsettling Uncertainty of Death

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Being dead feels weird. It’s not quite as terrifying as one might think, at least in Takahiro’s opinion it’s not very terrifying, but it is lonely. Sure, over the years, he’d occasionally latch onto different people, but they could only ever see the effects of his presence. No one had ever been able to see him until now. Until Iwaizumi.

It was after about a week of following him around, not really doing much, that he had simply knocked something over. Iwaizumi had picked it up, put it back in place, turned around to look Takahiro in the eyes and, in his most Disappointed voice, said, “Are you fucking kidding me.” Takahiro would love to say that he kept his cool when Iwaizumi first acknowledged him. In reality, he had kinda sorta unsettled himself for a month. Being around living humans was lonely, but at least he could do something to make them react. Being unsettled was far worse. He existed, but he couldn’t do anything. He was just alone with his mind and his memories.

He’s finally been able to crawl out of that weird state, though, and he’s back among the humans. He wants to search out Iwaizumi again, find his way to him and demand he explain what the fuck was going on, but he knows it’s probably a bad idea. He should really just let it go and find someone else to latch onto.

Takahiro’s bad luck, however, seems to have followed him through life and into the afterlife and he meets Iwaizumi almost immediately after deciding that he doesn’t want to see him ever again. This time, though, he’s not alone. Takahiro recognizes the guy walking next to him as Oikawa. (Or Shittykawa, Trashykawa, Crappikawa, Lazykawa, or Loserkawa to name only a few variations of the name Takahiro had heard in the week that he had been following Iwaizumi around.) Maybe he can just fuck right off before Iwaizumi notices him. Surely he’s not going to try to talk to Takahiro in front of someone else.

But no. Of course he can’t be right. Why would he be? Iwaizumi looks him straight in the eyes when he says, “Where’ve you been?”

Takahiro nearly unsettles again. Nearly. Instead, he fucks right off and stays away from Iwaizumi for a little longer than a few hours this time. He starts following around someone called Matsukawa who, he learns, is almost perpetually stressed out despite his neutral demeanor. Usually, Takahiro would fuck with whoever he follows, but he feels like Matsukawa has enough stressors in his life without adding one more.

Instead, he tries to help out, just a little bit. Not enough that Matsukawa would suspect anything or freak out because weird shit is happening.

Takahiro’s whole plan goes to shit when Iwaizumi fucking Hajime shows up at Matsukawa’s door.

Shows up is actually a little light for what actually happens. Iwaizumi fucking Hajime unlocks Matsukawa’s door while he isn’t there like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Takahiro had been waiting for Matsukawa, so there’s really no avoiding the part where Iwaizumi sees him. “So this is where you ran off to this time.”

He’s about to run again when he feels something heavy settle over him. Iwaizumi steps into the apartment calmly, shutting the door and locking it again behind him.

“Don’t freak out, it’s just a spell to make sure you don’t leave before I can talk to you.”

“You want… you want to talk to me?” Takahiro’s voice sounds strange to him when he speaks. He hasn’t had a need to in so long that he almost forgot what it sounds like. “Why?”

Iwaizumi shrugs. His entire posture says nonchalance, but it looks far too practiced. Maybe he’s as uncomfortable with this situation as Takahiro is. “I just feel like I should. Obviously as much as you and I both want to not see each other, we keep meeting.”

He feels… strangely reluctant to let Iwaizumi go again. Sure, it’s fucking weird that Iwaizumi can talk to him and he might be a little bit afraid of him, but at the same time he hasn’t been able to talk to anyone in at least a hundred years. It might nice to maybe have a friend for a while. Then again, Iwaizumi had just said that he doesn’t really want to see Takahiro. “How would we… What should we talk about?”

Iwaizumi rubs the back of his neck. “Uh, well… maybe like… how did you die?” Takahiro resists the urge to roll his eyes. Of course that’s what Iwaizumi would pick. He’s tried to figure out how he died before, but something blocks him whenever he tries to think about it.

“Do you want the long version or the short version?”

“Uh… the long version I suppose.”

Takahiro nods. “You’d better sit down, then. Get comfortable. Who knows how long it’ll take me to tell the whole story.”

Iwaizumi looks a little taken aback by the statement, but moves to the living room and gets settled on the couch. Takahiro stands before him, hands on his hips and waits for Iwaizumi to prompt him to actually speak. He takes a deep breath in preparation, trying not to smile. “I have no fucking clue.”

Iwaizumi stares at him, unblinking. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he asks, once more in his most Disappointed voice. “Seriously?”

Takahiro lets out a small laugh. Iwaizumi is very clearly getting angry, but he must not have very good control of his magic like that and the weight slips off of Takahiro. He takes his chance and, once more, fucks right off.

This time, he follows the absolute wreck of a human being that is Oikawa. He knows that he’ll have to talk to Iwaizumi again eventually, so it doesn’t pay to go very far, but he wants to give a little time for Iwaizumi to… cool off.

Takahiro likes to think that he improves Oikawa’s quality of life a little. Oikawa seems to view him as a nuisance for the most part, which, fair. Maybe he’s a little too obvious, but Oikawa obviously knows about ghosts. There’s no way he doesn’t, if Iwaizumi was so willing to talk directly to him in Oikawa’s presence.

The benefits of living with Oikawa are honestly not very numerous. (Of Iwaizumi, Oikawa, and Matsukawa, only Iwaizumi seems to have some sort of balance to his life.) Most of the time he’s not even at his apartment, instead out at the university’s library studying or at the gym practicing with the volleyball team. Takahiro tags along occasionally, when he’s sure Iwaizumi won’t be there, mostly just to make sure Oikawa leaves at a reasonable time.

Avoiding Iwaizumi while he’s following Oikawa is surprisingly easy. Oikawa is always so… vocal. About everything. Especially Iwaizumi. All Takahiro had to do was make sure he listened in on Oikawa’s conversations regarding Iwaizumi.

Once more, though, Iwaizumi fucking Hajime has to ruin his plans of avoidance. To be fair, Takahiro had been planning to maybe consider talking to Iwaizumi again. Just. Not this soon. He’s really, really tempted to run away again. He wants to talk to Iwaizumi, really he does. It’s just too much after such a long time not being noticed by anyone.

The same heavy feeling settles on him once more as Iwaizumi and Oikawa enter the apartment and he sighs. “I’m not going to run away this time.”

Iwaizumi narrows his eyes. “Are you sure?”

Oikawa tilts his head and glances towards Iwaizumi before shrugging and heading into the kitchen. Takahiro really wishes he would stay. “Yeah, I guess. I was planning on letting you see me again at some point, why not now.” If he had a heart, he’s sure it would be beating out of his chest by now. The weight disappears and he’s sorely tempted to just leave, but lying seems like a bad idea with Iwaizumi. “Do you… do you want to finish that conversation now?”

Iwaizumi walks past him into Oikawa’s room, jerking his head to indicate that Takahiro should follow him. “You’re supposed to be able to remember your death,” he mutters, flopping down onto Oikawa’s bed. Takahiro hovers above Oikawa’s desk, not entirely sure what to say to that. “Have you ever tried to remember?”

“I have, but…” Takahiro thinks back to the few times he had tried and how he had managed to unsettle himself every time. “It doesn’t really… work. What does it even matter anyway? It’s not like it’s important.”

“If you don’t know how you died, you can’t pass on. I’m supposed to help with that, I think. It’s what I’ve done before.”

“How many times have you…”

Iwaizumi sits back, leaning on his hands. “I think around five other times before. All of them could remember how they died or what they needed to do in order to pass on.”

Oikawa startles Takahiro a little bit when he enters the room with two steaming hot cups of tea. He’s not used to Oikawa being so loud, though to be fair Oikawa had always thought he was alone. “So what’s his name?” he asks, settling down next to Iwaizumi on the bed and handing him one of the cups.

Iwaizumi pauses before taking it, glancing back and forth between Oikawa and Takahiro. “Uh, well-”

“You forgot again, didn’t you?”

“To be fair, I-”

“How many times to I have to remind you-”

“It’s not like I-”

“Honestly, it’s just-”

Takahiro watches their small argument before laughing softly. “You two make a cute couple.”

Iwaizumi’s head snaps up to look at him, face turning red. His eyes are wide and, though it looks like he tries his best not to, he glances at Oikawa before hiding his face with his free hand. “We’re not…”

Oikawa leans over to whisper in Iwaizumi’s ear. “What’d he say, Iwa-chan?”

“Don’t worry about it, it’s not important,” he mutters, taking his hand away from his face. “Anyway, what’s your name? Maybe we can look you up and figure out how you died.”

“It’s Takahiro.” He really, really hopes they won’t ask for a family name. He could have probably looked up how he died a lot earlier in his death, but he just… felt like it was a bad idea.

“Do you know what time period you’re from?” Takahiro shakes his head. Technically, no he doesn’t. But that’s only because he doesn’t know what the modern term for it is. He knows exactly which year he was born in and he knows that he made it to at least 20. “No idea whatsoever?” He shakes his head again.

“What’s your last memory?” Oikawa chimes in.

He thinks about it for a few seconds before feeling the same dread as whenever he thinks about his death. He knows it was a ceremony, but beyond that there’s nothing and he doesn’t want to know more. “I don’t want to think about it,” he finally answers quietly.

“Can you just try for us?”

Takahiro shakes his head, not willing to give any other response to Iwaizumi. He shouldn’t try to think about it.

“Why not? We just want to help-”

“Iwa-chan, maybe we should drop it for now.”

“I just wanna know why.”

Oikawa sighs in frustration and grabs Iwaizumi’s face, forcing him to turn towards him. “Don’t be stubborn. If he doesn’t want to answer, don’t push it. Have some of your tea before you ask him anything more.”

Takahiro wants to ask Iwaizumi if he’s sure that he and Oikawa aren’t in a relationship, but figures now is not the time.

Iwaizumi scowls when he takes a sip of his tea. “It’s cold, why-” he glances at Takahiro- “oh. Fuck, I’m… I’m sorry, Takahiro. You don’t have to answer, we’ll figure it out some other way if you don’t want to think of whatever it was.”

Takahiro is, in general, confused. “I don’t… Can Oikawa see me?”

Iwaizumi shakes his head. “Oikawa knows that you’re here and he can get a general sense of what you’re feeling-”

“Which is why I knew to stop before you got freaked out!” Oikawa chimes in.

“Right, but he can’t hear you or see you.”

Takahiro stops to think about that for a second. Then he smiles. This might actually be fun. And gods has it been a long time since he’s had fun.

Well, it’ll be fun until he has to leave or whatever they’re working towards accomplishing.

“So he doesn’t know that I thought you were together, right?”

“Oh fuck me,” Iwaizumi mutters.

--

Researching is very fucking boring. Takahiro can’t do anything to help, so he’s reduced to just watching Iwaizumi try to look up his name for what felt like the hundredth time that month.

“Are you sure this is the best way to do this?” he asks, sighing and leaning back so that he could see over Iwaizumi’s shoulder. He might do more, but he doesn’t want to know how he died and he isn’t too keen on change. “It seems like it takes a really long time.”

“If I had any information other than your name, this would be easier,” Iwaizumi mutters. “Anything at all. Is this one you?”

Takahiro looks at the newest website that Iwaizumi’s pulled up. Born: 1904. Died: 1927. He scoffs. “Definitely not. Does the picture even look like me?”

“I’ve told you before,” Iwaizumi groans, rolling his eyes, “you look different in life and in death. You might not look anything like the picture. Do you know if you’re older or younger than this?”

“Older. Definitely older.”

“Any idea how much older?”

Takahiro just winks and sticks his tongue out. “Let’s talk about something else for now. I’m bored and I haven’t been able to talk to anyone for a really long time. Just entertain me for a little bit,” he adds the last part when Iwaizumi looks like he’s about to say no.

Iwaizumi pushes his chair back from his desk. “Fine. But we should probably-”

“I know you’re avoiding studying. Just talk to me,” he whines. “Answer some of my questions for a change.” He waits for Iwaizumi to nod before asking his first question. “So are you sure that you and Oikawa aren’t together.”

“This again?” Iwaizumi asks and Takahiro nods. He groans in defeat. “Fine. Fine! We’re not dating, we’ve been friends since forever. I have a crush on him that I would really like to go away. Are you happy?”

“I’ve never… I don’t… what does that mean? You have a crush on him?”

Iwaizumi stares at him. “You’re kidding, right? Like. Everyone knows what having a crush on someone means. The phrase has been around for a long time. Even if you had lived before it was an expression, wouldn’t you have learned it by being around people?”

Takahiro shakes his head. “It’s been a while since I’ve really followed anyone around. And it’s not like I’ve ever been able to talk to anyone before now.”

Iwaizumi turns back to his computer and fuck that’s not what Takahiro wanted. “A crush is when you’re attracted to someone, like, romantically,” Iwaizumi tells him offhandedly. Takahiro looks over his shoulder to see that he’s looking up the history of the word crush. “So you were probably alive and died before 1884. We’ve been way off.”

“So you want to be in a relationship with Oikawa, right?” Takahiro clarifies, a little bit desperate to not talk about himself. (He is also interested in teasing Iwaizumi, but that’s beside the point.)

Iwaizumi nods. “I don’t want to talk about it. Maybe if I ignore it for long enough it’ll go away. It’s not like he feels the same way. I’d have better luck with probably literally anyone else.”

Takahiro stops to think for a second. Maybe he’s out of touch and he doesn’t know much about human interactions anymore - which is entirely possible, it’s been around 100 years since he had followed someone - but he’s pretty sure that Oikawa also has a crush on Iwaizumi. “So what about like Matsukawa?” he asks because Matsukawa is literally the only other person he knows that Iwaizumi knows well.

“I wouldn’t stand a chance with him either,” Iwaizumi answers immediately.

“Is it because you have a crush on him, too?”

Iwaizumi’s gaze snaps up to him. “How did you-”

Huh. He hadn’t expected that to actually be true. “That was absolutely a guess. Do you just think that anyone you’re interested in isn’t interested in you?”

“I don’t want to talk about my love life with a ghost. And Matsukawa isn’t even an option because he doesn’t know about magic.”

“So you’re still single?” Takahiro asks, a little bit surprised. He’s pretty sure he had been married before his death. “How old are you?”

“I’m 21,” Iwaizumi sighs. “And yes, I am still single. It’s fine though. I’d rather be single and still friends with both of them than fuck something up.”

“What are the odds of that?” Takahiro asks, partly to be somewhat encouraging but also because he honestly has no idea. “I don’t know much about Matsukawa, but Oikawa seems attached to you at the hip most of the time.”

“It’s… more likely than you think. Oikawa and I have gone through rough patches where we didn’t talk for 6 months and I don’t… I don’t want that to happen again. I don’t want to be the cause of that happening with him or Matsukawa. And I’ve confessed to a friend before and he… didn’t feel the same.”

“What-”

Iwaizumi interrupts him. “I would rather not talk about it.”

Takahiro drops it because he knows that this kind of ‘rather not talk about it’ is the same kind of ‘rather not talk about it’ that he feels about his death.

--

Takahiro goes back to following Matsukawa for a while, mostly because he really doesn’t want to help Iwaizumi research his death anymore but also because he wants to figure out if Iwaizumi has any chance at a relationship with Matsukawa. Is he meddling probably more than he should? Absolutely. Will he stop? Almost definitely not.

Matsukawa looks like he’s in the middle of cooking something, but when Takahiro looks at the recipe, he doesn’t even know what language he’s trying to read in. It’s nothing he’s ever seen before, though to be fair it took him a long time to get used to the modern language, so maybe it’s all just things he hadn’t ever seen before.

When Matsukawa takes out a knife and it doesn’t look like there’s anything to cut up, Takahiro is forced to maybe reconsider.

When he uses said knife to cut into his hand a bit, Takahiro thinks that maybe something weird is going on.

When Matsukawa deliberately lets some of his blood drip into the pot on the stove, Takahiro leaves to find Iwaizumi, understandably a little bit shaken up.

“I have a question,” he starts, enjoying the little yelp that Iwaizumi lets out at his sudden presence.

“Don’t do that!”

Takahiro shrugs, absolutely planning on doing that again. “We’ll see. Anyway, my question. Why would someone put blood in something they’re cooking?”

Iwaizumi stares at him, unresponsive. “Was it an accident?”

Takahiro shakes his head.

“A witch maybe? I don’t know, who-”

Takahiro doesn’t wait for Iwaizumi to finish before going back to Matsukawa and what he’s making. His hand has been bandaged up and he’s pouring whatever he was making into a cup. The liquid is light blue and steaming.

Matsukawa sighs and drinks the whole thing, nearly falling down after. Takahiro wants to help, but when he reaches out for Matsukawa, his hand just goes right through and his form is shaken. When he pulls his hand out, it’s blurry and won’t come back into focus. He shakes his hand, trying to bring it back.

“Holy shit,” Matsukawa breathes out. “It worked. I didn’t think it would…”

Takahiro looks up from his hand at him. Matsukawa is staring straight at him. “Wait, can you see me?”

He nods. “I have no idea how long this will last. I didn’t even know you were going to be here, but-”

“What the fuck? Ok, so, you- you- what did you do?”

Matsukawa braces himself on the counter. “It’s a potion with, apparently some weird side effects, but it lets me see and talk to you for a little while.”

Takahiro stares at him in confusion. “Why would you- Why would you want to see me?”

“I wanted to know why you were helping and who you are. I wanted to thank you. It took me a while because I haven’t been using magic very often, but I’m glad it worked.”

“I’m Takahiro and, well, you just… seemed stressed,” Takahiro says. He really hadn’t ever been expecting to have to explain his reasoning for helping out. It felt like the right thing to do, rather than the little tricks and things that he usually does. “I never thought-”

He feels himself being pulled away, torn away from Matsukawa’s apartment. Takahiro crash lands - as much as a ghost can crash land - in Iwaizumi’s apartment.

“Why did you leave while I was in the middle of talking to you?” Iwaizumi asks, using the same weird and almost panicky tone he uses when he learns that Oikawa stayed late at practice, even if he was being careful. “I was about to tell you that you should avoid witches if it is one.”

“I don’t think Matsukawa is going to try and hurt me.”

Iwaizumi tilts his head and squints his eyes. “Matsukawa doesn’t know anything about magic.”

Takahiro laughs. “You’re joking, right? I just talked to him. There’s no way.”

“I’m positive that he knows nothing. Oikawa would have known.”

“Yeah, but-” He feels the same pulling sensation as before, and he tries to fight it because he’s pretty sure Iwaizumi needs to know about Matsukawa, but he’s helpless to it.

“Where did you go?”

Takahiro sighs. “Do you know that Iwaizumi can talk to ghosts.”

“No he can’t. He-”

“Do you know that Oikawa is a psychic.”

“Oikawa’s not-”

Takahiro groans. He hadn’t anticipated how difficult this would be. “Do not finish that sentence with ‘a psychic.’”

“But he’s-”

“Oh, fuck me,” he groans, the pulling sensation returning. “I’ll be-”

“Quit leaving!” Iwaizumi nearly yells. Takahiro is tired of going back and forth between Iwaizumi’s and Matsukawa’s apartments.

“To be fair, last time wasn’t my fault. But listen-” Takahiro tries to gesture with his right hand, but the blurriness from before has spread and he doesn’t know how to fix it.

“Wait what’s that, what’s happening to you?” Iwaizumi asks, temporarily distracted.

“I don’t know. It just- Is this not something that’s happened to any other ghosts before?”

Iwaizumi shakes his head. “I don’t know what’s happening to you.”

“I don’t know either, it’s just… happening and I don’t… I don’t know how to fix it.”

“What the fuck,” Iwaizumi whispers. “Okay, don’t go anywhere, I’m going to call Oikawa. Just. Don’t leave.”

“Right.” The pulling sensation is back. “Can’t do it.”

“What Taka-” And he’s gone. Back in Matsukawa’s apartment.

“I don’t think I can take much more of this back and forth,” he complains.

Matsukawa looks a little bit disheveled as he responds. “I don’t think I can use much more of my magic, honestly. It’s been such a long time. I’m glad I did get to talk to you, though. Even if you’ve been in and out the whole time.”

“Sorry, I’ve been- I’ve been going back and forth between here and Iwaizumi’s apartment.”

“It’s fine, I swear!” Matsukawa insists. Takahiro is about to respond, but Matsukawa frowns. “Are you gone again or did the potion wear off?”

He’s about to respond before he remembers that if Matsukawa can’t see him anymore, he likely can’t hear him either. Instead, he rolls a pencil off the counter.

“Could you write with that?” Matsukawa asks.

Takahiro hasn’t ever tried anything like that, but he’s pretty sure that currently it would be impossible. He’s not left handed and his right hand seems fairly out of commission. He tries to pick up the pencil to write, but he can only hold onto it for a second or two before it slips through his hand.

“That’s a no, I assume. We can figure something out.”

The pulling is back, but this time it feels like something is different. Instead of ending up at Iwaizumi’s apartment, he’s unsettled. He sighs, knowing he’ll just have to wait it out.

--

Takahiro isn’t sure how long he stays unsettled, but at least when he comes back he’s intact once more. The seasons seem to have changed; there’s snow everywhere and Iwaizumi wears a long red scarf every day but no hat.

Iwaizumi has a list of Takahiros who had died in the 19th century, and some moving into the 18th, but none of them are right yet. Not even close.

“You’re sure you don’t remember anything?” Iwaizumi asks him after a long day of Takahiro saying no to names. He looks worn down and Takahiro worries that he hasn’t been getting enough sleep in however long he’s been gone. Iwaizumi opens his mouth to respond, but a yawn is the only thing that comes out.

“Get some sleep,” Takahiro insists instead of answering and pulls at Iwaizumi’s shirt carefully so as not to touch his skin. “Anything about me can wait until tomorrow at least. I’m not going anywhere.”

“But you did,” Iwaizumi mutters, letting his guard fall for a second. He looks surprised at himself for saying it.

Takahiro ignores the burning questions inside of him as to why Iwaizumi seems to care and focuses instead on getting Iwaizumi into bed. He doesn’t want- He doesn’t need to know why. “I didn’t want to. It just… happens sometimes.”

“You know we should-”

“We can talk about it later,” he says quietly. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

Takahiro puts a second blanket over Iwaizumi after he’s fallen asleep. He always complains about being too cold, so now maybe he’ll be warm enough.

In the morning, Takahiro lets Iwaizumi sleep in for a while, figuring he needs the rest. Iwaizumi usually seems to be an early morning riser, but it’s almost noon and he still hasn’t woken up and honestly Takahiro is nervous. He’s almost grateful for the knock on the door because it makes Iwaizumi stir. He still doesn’t wake up, though.

Oikawa takes it upon himself to unlock the door and let himself in. “Iwa-chan! I brought movies for us to watch!”

Takahiro moves to the entryway, finally letting Iwaizumi out of his sights for the first time that morning. Oikawa tilts his head as Takahiro gets close.

“Taka-chan? Where’s Iwa-chan?” Oikawa takes his hat and coat off before snapping his head up and practically running into Iwaizumi’s room. Takahiro follows, wondering if maybe he should have gone to find Oikawa sooner.

He hovers nervously nearby as Oikawa shakes Iwaizumi awake. Iwaizumi looks deathly pale, but he groans and sits up, leaning heavily on Oikawa. “I’m cold,” he groans, trying to lay back down on the bed.

Oikawa stops him with a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve gotta stay up right now. Stay awake, you know that. Why didn’t you set an alarm?”

“Thought I would just wake up,” Iwaizumi murmurs. “‘M sorry.”

“It’s alright, you’re alright,” Oikawa responds, voice soft. “Now come on, you should eat something and take your pills and explain to Takahiro what happened because he’s worried sick.”

Takahiro follows them into the kitchen, careful not to accidentally step on the blanket Iwaizumi had wrapped around himself. (Though, that’s really easy, he just floats above the floor.) After Iwaizumi has eaten a granola bar and taken some sort of medicine (and after prompting from Oikawa), he finally starts to explain.

“So remember when I was telling you about confessing to someone who didn’t really feel the same way?” Iwaizumi starts. “Well, I… he kind of beat me up after the confession. It was bad and I was… close to death, you could say.”

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says accusingly from the entryway where he’s picking up what he’d dropped earlier.

“I… okay technically I did die. I don’t remember a lot, but Oikawa came and saved me. The only problem is that I’m supposed to still be dead. I’m not sure what you’d call me, but I’m alive and I shouldn’t be. I can talk to ghosts now and I’m really sensitive to the cold. Winter is especially shitty and sometimes I tend to shut down.That’s why I’ve got the pills too, we got them from a witch a few years ago who says they’re supposed to help. ”

“Is that what happened this morning? Your body shut down?” Takahiro asks, already starting to think of ways that he could help Iwaizumi in the future.

“I’ve been exhausting myself a little bit too much recently, so my body kinda gave up on me. It’s fine, though. I’m fine. I won’t let it happen again.”

“Neither will I,” Oikawa chimes in, finally coming back with a bag full of movies. “Now which one are we gonna watch first?”

--

Takahiro has been spending a lot of time with Matsukawa, so he really can’t be blamed for not noticing anything sooner, but Iwaizumi is definitely up to something. He can’t tell yet if Oikawa is in on it or not.

“Why are you so insistent about knowing more about who I was?” he finally asks. “You were fine just trying to figure me out without a lot of knowledge, what’s different?”

“I had an idea, but I need two things. One of them is more knowledge about your life.”

“And the other?”

Iwaizumi sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. “More magic. And I don’t know anyone with enough magic that would be willing to do this.”

“What about Mattsun?”

“I already told you, Oikawa would’ve sensed it if he could use magic.”

Takahiro groans in frustration. “If you get up and go to Matsukawa’s apartment right now, I will tell you literally everything I can remember about my life on the way there.”

Iwaizumi stares at him for a while before sighing and pushing back from his desk. “Fine.”

Takahiro waits until Iwaizumi has locked the door to his apartment before starting to talk. About small memories from his childhood. About when he had snuck out and caused a huge hassle for everyone. About all of the things that he had had to start learning starting when he was really young. About the banquet after his wedding. Finally, when Iwaizumi isn’t in danger of someone thinking he’s talking to air, Takahiro tells him that he had been the son of the Emperor.

Iwaizumi’s steps falter. “You were what?”

“I was one of the sons of the Emperor,” Takahiro repeats. “I was born in 802.”

“Don’t you think that would have been an important thing to tell me earlier?” Iwaizumi asks, once more bringing out his most Disappointed voice. “We could’ve figured out a way to let you pass on before-”

Takahiro waits for Iwaizumi to continue, but it seems as though he’s done talking. “Before what?”

Iwaizumi shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter. Can you go to Oikawa while I’m talking to Mattsun?”

Really, Takahiro should have noticed before now that Iwaizumi was planning something. He narrows his eyes. “Why?”

“I just- I need to know if Matsukawa is willing to help me with this before I tell you what it is, alright?”

Takahiro sighs. “I hope whatever it is works out.”

--

Takahiro doesn’t hear anything more about whatever Iwaizumi is planning until spring is finally moving into summer. Apparently Iwaizumi had managed to keep it a secret from Oikawa, who is understandably furious.

“It’s a bad idea, you don’t know what you’re messing with, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa yells, actually yells. Takahiro hasn’t ever heard him yell apart from during volleyball games. “I know you don’t want him gone, I don’t either, but this isn’t the solution!”

“I just… it’s worked before, why not again,” Iwaizumi replies, but he already seems defeated. “Matsukawa thinks he can do it.”

“I don’t care! We already took a risk with this once, we can’t do it again. Who knows what could happen!”

Takahiro backs up into the wall, making sure that Iwaizumi won’t be able to see him and hoping that Oikawa’s anger will prevent him from sensing him.

“I just don’t want to-”

“I want Takahiro to stay, too, but bringing him back to life is a bad idea. We shouldn’t mess with death any more than we already have. He’s been dead for over a thousand years. You were dead for fifteen minutes.”

Takahiro knows he shouldn’t be listening in on this. He knows he should probably go to Matsukawa’s or something, but Oikawa and Iwaizumi are talking about him and he feels like he’s allowed to know what they’re saying. Especially because apparently Iwaizumi is planning on bringing him back to life. He has no idea how that would work, but apparently it’s… possible.

“I just want to try,” Iwaizumi sighs. “If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work.”

“I’ll… I won’t stop you, but I can’t help you. Make sure you all know what the risks are before you try anything. I don’t… I don’t want to lose you again.”

“You won’t, I promise,” Iwaizumi says quietly. Takahiro decides that it’s maybe time for him to leave.

A few days later, Iwaizumi brings the idea up to him for real. Even though he’s been thinking of it for so long, he still isn’t sure what he wants to say. He doesn’t want Iwaizumi or Matsukawa to get hurt, but he also doesn’t want to watch them get old and die and leave him alone again.

Eventually, though, Takahiro agrees and things are set in motion.

Despite what he said, Oikawa helps out a lot with gathering things that Matsukawa will need and he’s there when the spell starts. It feels strange, but not necessarily unpleasant at first, but that quickly changes.

Takahiro feels like he’s on fire. After so long of not feeling anything, it’s overwhelming. At some point, his vision goes red, then white, then black. And he feels nothing.

Did it fail?

It must have. Takahiro should be alive again, but it really only feels like he’s unsettled. He hopes that Iwaizumi and Oikawa and Matsukawa are alright.

He tries to ignore the weird nudging sensation until he realizes that he shouldn’t be feeling that if he’s unsettled. Instead, Takahiro focuses on it. It grows stronger and stronger and Takahiro can smell something that might be smoke.

It takes a lot of effort, but Takahiro forces his eyes open.

“Takahiro?”

All he manages to get out is “Iwa-” before he starts coughing. There’s a hand in his hair and there’s one on his back holding him up and there’s one in his hand, just holding him.

Iwaizumi is directly in front of him, visibly shocked. But he’s there. Oikawa is to his left. He’s the one holding him up. Matsukawa is to his right with his hand in his hair.

“Good to finally see you,” Oikawa says, breaking the silence.

“Good to- good to see that you changed your mind about helping,” Takahiro smiles.

“Someone had to make sure you three didn’t get hurt. You know we’re probably going to have to deal with a lot of shit now, right?”

Matsukawa shrugs. “It can be us four against the world.”

“You up for that?” Takahiro asks Iwaizumi.

Iwaizumi smiles and pulls him into a hug. “Of course.”