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From the Ashes

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“She asked if I wanted to move in.”

Iwaizumi’s stomach sinks at the news despite all his best efforts. The rocks swallowed down in his youth churn in the acid, still present after all these years. Suffocating. Toxic.

He rests a hand against his chest, digging his fingers into his shirt, as if the pressure will keep the bile from climbing up his throat. The fire burns hot in his esophagus, fed on the air he takes in after forgetting to breathe for too long.

“Iwa-chan?”

“Sorry,” he says quickly, squeezing the fabric of his shirt, “It’s hard to think CasanovaKawa is finally settling down.”

“Mean!” Oikawa cries into the receiver, “And it’s just, it’s just an idea . She only suggested it and well, it makes sense, but I’m not gonna decide anything yet.”

Iwaizumi wants to hang up the phone, as his best friend talks around his true feelings. Talking in circles when it’s obvious how smitten he’s been with this girl for the past three years. He doesn’t, though. He takes in a deep breath instead.

“When do you need to decide?”

“Not for a bit. She’s gonna check with her friends first too, in case they want to take the spot. But her roommate moves out in like, a month,” Oikawa continues.

“A month?” Iwaizumi repeats, and he must have sounded especially shocked. He hopes the rocks haven’t torn through his skin and seeped out for the whole world to see his hurt.

“Don’t worry, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa quickly replies, “If it’s about money I would pay my half of the rent until you found someone! I’m not a bad person.”

Iwaizumi bites his bottom lip, bringing a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose, “So you are moving in with her?”

“Nothing’s set in stone yet,” Oikawa quickly says, but his tone seems distracted, and Iwaizumi knows Oikawa is lying to him. “If you don’t want me to I won’t.”

Iwaizumi knows Oikawa is telling the truth then, because despite what the world may think Oikawa really is a good person, a kind person, a wonderful, smart, capable, thoughtful--

Ugh.

“Why the hell would I pass up the chance to finally get rid of you?” Iwaizumi snaps back. Oikawa’s laugh rings through the receiver and it punctures Iwaizumi’s ear drum leaving him deaf to whatever else the man starts prattling on about.

Iwaizumi wonders what would happen if he just said it. If he just regurgitated the disgusting stew of emotions fermenting within him for over a decade. But what good would it do? Why go through the pain of throwing up just to end up with a mess on the floor? Just because it might alleviate the pressure in your chest or the fog in your head?

No one wants to kiss vomit stained lips.

“Iwa-chan! Are you listening to me?”

“No,” Iwaizumi says, and it’s the most honest thing he’s uttered since his phone rang.

Oikawa huffs, the puff of air coming out as fuzzy static, “I said, let’s get dinner! Miki-chan and I wanted to try the new Korean Barbeque pla—“

“Can’t,” Iwaizumi interrupts. Having dinner is the last thing he wants to think about with nausea swirling around him. Having dinner across from Oikawa and Kobayashi, forced to be captive audience to their sweet coupledom. He can’t do it. He can’t. Because everytime Oikawa even just mentions her name it’s like the the rocks scrape hard enough to catch fire, and the flame burns at whatever pieces of his heart are left within his ribcage, coating the bone with fine patches of ash.

“Why not?”

“Huge midterm. Not all of us can get away with slacking.” Another lie. Iwaizumi doesn’t have anymore midterms. Oikawa doesn’t need to know that. It’s easier this way.

Oikawa sighs, “Not all of God’s creatures are as blessed as me.”

“Creature’s a good word to call you.”

“Iwa-chan! Mean!”

“I gotta study, Oikawa,” Iwaizumi says.

“Okay,” Oikawa replies.

Iwaizumi puts his phone down and stares at the wall ahead of him. He brings his hands up to rub tiredly at his face. He presses the heels of his palms into his eye sockets, urging the damned faucet to keep shut.

He takes in another breath as if it will keep him from drowning. It won’t. Not with the imminent monsoon about to flood his shores.

He needs a lifeline.

Does he even deserve one?

He picks up the phone and makes the call.


Ushijima lives further from campus than they do, but he does live right next to a seedy little bar where people don’t ask questions and don’t care what you do, as long as you pay your tab. Ushijima is already there, sitting by the bar, two bottles of beer on hand.

Iwaizumi doesn’t say anything as he takes the stool one off from him. Ushijma is silent too, handing off the one bottle. That’s the one good thing about Ushijima--he doesn’t like talking either.

Iwaizumi downs the whole bottle, hoping the river flowing through his esophagus will smooth the rocks in his gut down to painless pebbles. He wipes a drop from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand and slams the bottle back down. He motions for the bartender to send him another, something smooth that he can just swallow down without trying.

Ushijima squints at him almost as if he’s concerned.

Iwaizumi knows better. He wants to know what this has to do with Oikawa. Oikawa. Always Oikawa. Everything’s been about Oikawa no matter how hard he tries to get away. To get over it. He is over it.

(Who is he kidding?)

He gulps down half his second bottle before speaking, “He’s moving out.”

Ushijima’s golden eyes widen fractionally.

“He moving in with Kobayashi.”

Ushijima looks away, taking a swig of his own drink.

Iwaizumi looks over at him, green eyes piercing, the fire burning in his throat engulfing them, engulfing every part of him, as he says--no, as he orders , “Distract me.”

Iwaizumi’s not sure how it all ended up like this. That’s the thing with habits. They’re small little things that pick up momentum until it feels like you’ve always done them, forever. That it’s just the way it is.

But Iwaizumi knows, for a fact, that this a terrible habit, a vice if anything, that his crutch when he’s down is demanding his best friend’s worst enemy to fuck him until he can’t question his poor coping skills any longer.

He can’t remember when it started, or how it started. It just is, and if he thinks about it too long he gets a headache, and enough things in his life give him headaches already.

He rests his head against the pillow, legs hiked up to his shoulders. The pillow is new. A comfort on his aging neck he’s not used to when they meet up like this. Usually the alcohol is too thick in their veins to think that far ahead. Their movements too desperate and needy by the time they end up in either of their apartments.

It’s a welcomed inclusion, especially as it provides a buffer between the crown of his head and the wooden headboard. Especially as a second finger joins the first, deep inside him and he can’t help letting out a grunt and snapping his head back. He doesn’t crack his head open. Though maybe that would have been better.

Maybe then the thoughts would finally leave him.

The hand gripping his thigh squeezes his flesh, thumb making smooth circles. Iwaizumi isn’t amused, kicking his foot at the broader man’s chest, not hard enough to hurt, but enough to make a statement. He’s not here for comfort. He’s never been here for that nonsense.

“Hurry up,” he snaps, nudging Ushijima with his toes. He has too many senses still. He can still think properly, and all his thoughts circle back to Oikawa, Oikawa, Oikawa . And he doesn’t want to think about god damn Oikawa, “Have you gotten soft, Ushiwaka?”

There’s a third finger in his ass, suddenly, and it’s startling enough to force his back to arch. He groans, loud and guttural. His foot climbs up Ushijima’s chest to rest on his shoulder, twisting his ankle to hook it behind the man’s neck.

Ushijima leans forward without interrupting the motions of his fingers, teeth bared as he bites at Iwaizumi’s stomach. Ushijima’s a biter. Iwaizumi figured it out the hard way all the way back in high school and it lead to a very embarrassing conversation with Oikawa’s sister to borrow her makeup. It’s more funny than anything now, and part of him wants to laugh, but the other part of him is way too focused on Ushijima mouthing toward his trembling cock to think of anything else.

(Except, maybe, Oikawa.)

“Ushi--” Iwaizumi’s breath hitches, fingers moving to dig into the man’s short black hair. It’s rough against his palm and he tightens his grip. He uses every last bit of self control to tug the man away rather than push him down, “Don’t,”

Ushijima stares at him, gold eyes hungry and fierce. Iwaizumi’s hips give an aborted thrust despite his best efforts, especially as Ushijma keeps fucking him with his fingers. Curse that left hand of his. It’s too powerful. It’s got a mind of its own.

Iwaizumi tips his head back again, “Fuck me already,” he snaps, grinding his hips down impatiently.

Ushijima pulls his fingers out. Iwaizumi is about complain, readying his heel to slam into the taller man’s shoulder blade, but almost immediately he can feel the pressure of something so much bigger brushing up against him. He bites his lip, foot tugging Ushijima impossibly closer. Finally, the man pushes in, hard, fast and in one clean thrust.

Ushijima has always been one for efficiency.

Iwaizumi’s arms shoot up, clutching at Ushijima’s shoulders, nails biting into skin. Ushjima’s mouth presses dangerously against his neck. Iwaizumi’s heart beats faster, and it’s nice to know it can beat at all despite it existing only in pieces. His pulse quickens, thumping against Ushijima’s teeth, playing the melody of an enticing drum beat.

Ushijima bites down, the temptation too strong to resist. He times it with a powerful thrust which hurtles Iwaizumi into the beginnings of oblivion. It’s a hard and a fast kind of fuck, the kind Iwaizumi expects and looks for with Ushijima. The kind devoid of anything but the carnal distraction of pleasure and pain.

Ushijima fucks like a warrior. A man conquering land, marking each new territorial acquisition by planting his teeth marks in expanses of virgin skin. Swallowing each cry with his insatiable hunger for more, for all. Breaking through each and every defense and laying his claim for the world to know.

Iwaizumi doesn’t mind the treatment. Of surrendering a piece of himself to a man with such a fierce hunger for him. In fact, he loves it. Ushijima’s face holds the same intensity as the face Oikawa makes at any opponent on the other side of the volleyball net, the pure desire to utterly destroy and revel in the destruction. Iwaizumi has always wanted Oikawa to destroy him, and he has, but not in the way that ends with stars shooting in the sky, but with hidden tears smudged on a pillowcase.

The carnage of the battlefield is gruesome in the aftermath.

Iwaizumi’s body is ransacked in red blotches, his joints ache and his head rattles with the effects of the alcohol leaving his system. The pain is good. It’s distracting. He can’t think about anything but the dull incessant throb of his backside. It’s the only time Iwaizumi can just be Iwaizumi. Just Iwaizumi.

Iwaizumi leaves in the middle of the night. Ushijima is dead asleep in the bed, mouth open and snoring. Iwaizumi dresses quietly, wincing every once and a while when he has to lift his legs up high to get his pants on.

He walks home, enjoying the brisk night air on his skin. He feels disgusting, but he’s never showered at Ushijima’s and he’s not about to start. He looks up at the starless sky of the city and wonders how light can hide more than it shows.

He rubs his head.

When he gets home the apartment is empty. Oikawa isn’t here. Which is to be expected. The disappointment of not seeing Oikawa here, concerned, and asking him where he was is undeserved and stupid. But it’s still crushing. Iwaizumi thinks of walking all the way back to Ushijima’s and waking him up for another session but that would be ridiculous. He walks over to his bedroom and falls onto his bed, shoving his face directly into his pillow. Maybe he can just suffocate the feeling to death.

It doesn’t work.

But he does fall asleep.


“Iwa-chan, you look like trash,” Oikawa says, crossing his arms over his chest.

Iwaizumi squints at him, “Pot meet kettle.” He pushes past him to get to their dinky little kitchen and make some coffee.

Oikawa huffs, pursing his lips and watching him lumber around, “When did you go to sleep last night? Did you pull an all nighter?”

Iwaizumi stares at him, synapses firing slowly as he tries to figure out what the hell Oikawa is talking about. And then he remembers, “Look, some of us have to study to get good grades.”

Oikawa frowns, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the counter, “Hajime, are you ok?”

Iwaizumi swallows thickly, stomach rolling at the use of his first name, in that soft concerned voice Iwaizumi’s only ever heard Oikawa use for him. Mine . He quickly turns away, digging through the cabinet for a mug, “I’m fine.”

“You’ve been studying a lot lately,” Oikawa continues, unconvinced, index finger out and drawing circles on the countertop, “Aren’t I the one who’s supposed to be overworking himself?”

Iwaizumi snorts, a smile tugging on his lips, “Exactly. Stay in your lane. My job is to worry about you.

“Iwa-chaaaaaaaaan,” Oikawa whines, letting his arms stretch out against the countertop until he’s bent in half, and the tips of his fingers can brush against Iwaizumi’s loose pajama shirt. Iwaizumi side steps out of his reach and Oikawa lets out an even louder whine.

“How was dinner?” Iwaizumi deflects running his hands under the tap water.

Oikawa frowns, but acquiesces, “Delicious. You should have come! It was too much for both of us to eat. Plus,” he continues, grin stretching, “The waiter was a cute guy!”

Iwaizumi flicks cold water at him, “You don’t know shit.”

“Iwa-chan, why are you so set on dying a virgin?” Oikawa cries out when Iwaizumi pinches the top of his hand. He wrentched it back, cradling the limp hand to his chest, “I’m trying to help! You brute!”

“Stop setting me up with randos, Shittykawa,” Iwaizumi sighs, watching the coffee finally start to drip into his mug, “I know you just want to use your groupon for four.”

“It’s such a good deal,” Oikawa laments, resting his head on the countertop. Iwaizumi snorts again, smile slipping onto his face without his permission. Oikawa catches it, unfortunately, and grins, “Let’s do something tonight,then!”

“Yeah?” Iwaizumi humors, “Like what?”

“Movie marathon!”

“With Kobayashi?” Iwaizumi can’t help but ask.

Oikawa shakes his head, “She doesn’t like sci-fi movies.”

So, why are you dating her? Iwaizumi can’t help but think, and he smacks himself mentally for it. No need to be a dick. Kobayashi’s a really nice girl.

That’s the problem.

It’s not like all the other girls that entered through the revolving door of Oikawa’s love life. She just slipped in, somehow, and stuck around. And Iwaizumi should have expected this, that this would happen eventually, and that he needed to just get over it. And he thought he was over it. Sometimes he thinks he’s over it. And then Oikawa will say something, will look at him, will wrap his arms around him and he’s not over it. He’s not over it at all.

“I don’t know, Oikawa,” he says, skin itchy all over. Ushijima’s marks burn beneath the fabric of his clothes, but it’s a dull ache, and it’s not enough to overwhelm Oikawa’s hopeful stare, “Depends if I get everything done.”

Oikawa squints at him, and Iwaizumi knows he doesn’t believe him. Oikawa knows somethings up, there’s no way he doesn’t. Oikawa’s too perceptive, too keen, too god damn curious for his own good. Too concerned. Too handsome. Too--

Ugh.

He turns away to grab his coffee mug and take a sip of it. Black and bitter and bringing him back to his senses.

“I’ll do my best,” Iwaizumi relents after another sip.

It satisfies Oikawa enough not to probe further, thankfully. Although, he doubts Oikawa could ever guess what he does when he can’t take his own shitty thoughts and needs to escape.

Why would he ever think his best friend would fuck the guy he hates most in this world, behind his back?

It doesn’t make any sense.

Iwaizumi’s life stopped making sense a long time ago.