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Fragile Hearts

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He stood three feet behind the back line, dribbled the ball two times, inhaled, exhaled. His eyes wandered to the opposing side, and analysed where he should aim the ball to. He threw the ball high up into the air, made a slow left step, and then two fast steps. He jumped with both feet, and hit the ball with his right hand. It was a good and powerful serve, if not his best and most powerful jump serve he has ever done. The audience shouted his name, the name of his country, the name of his team. Everyone was impressed by this serve.

It was a perfect service ace.

Yet, once he landed he wasn’t able to hear anything anymore. Everything faded away. He was sure everyone spoke, whispered and screamed (or was it his own scream?) at this moment. He was sure, everyone was curious about what had happened down there on the court, at this moment. He was sure, everyone was aware of what exactly happened, at this moment.

This was the moment where he knew that he wouldn’t be able to play volleyball professionally ever again. This was the moment where he knew that this was the end of his volleyball career. This was the moment where Oikawa Tooru, 29, setter and captain of Japan’s national men’s volleyball team, knew that he was forced to retire.

 

________________

 

Iwaizumi Hajime, better known as Dr. Iwaizumi Hajime is 29 years old. He is one of the best and youngest doctors for sports injuries and is a very busy man. Almost every professional athlete with a sports injury comes to him, no matter how far away they live. Whether that be the USA, Europe or Australia, everyone wants to be treated by him.

About two years ago he built up his own hospital, specialised in sports injuries. Since then, he doesn’t even have time to watch TV, catch up on a series, or read some newspapers to see what’s going on in this world. It feels like he doesn’t have a personal life anymore, but that doesn’t bother him a lot, because he loves his job. Since he was in his second year of high school, he knew that he couldn’t imagine himself becoming anything else other than a physiotherapist.

He should be grateful that his ambition to become a doctor lead him to go to university, and there find the love of his life - whom he has lived with for five years now. She is 27, has long, brown, curly hair and beautiful blue eyes. She studied medicine, and now she’s working at a big hospital in Tokyo. They aren’t able to see each other as many times as they would like to, because both of them have hard jobs, but they try to spend every free minute together. 

One day after his shift had ended, Iwaizumi drove to the grocery shop to get something to eat before he headed home. On his way there, he passed a newspaper shop, which caught his attention. On the window there was a big poster, almost as big as the window itself, which read “NATIONAL MEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM  JAPAN - OIKAWA TOORU HAS TO RETIRE” with a picture of the team on it.

He parked, got out of his car and went into the shop. Iwaizumi searched for the sport magazine, which he loved to read as he still had time for something like this. After he had found the magazine with the same cover as the poster on the window, he began reading the article about the national team of his country.Involuntarily he smiled a little while he was reading it, but then as he read further ahead, his smile started to disappear from word to word. “Starsetter Oikawa Tooru, 29, has torn his ACL a third time during the last match on 25th April. According to his doctors, he won’t be able to play volleyball professionally anymore. Oikawa Tooru’s volleyball career as a starsetter and captain of the national men’s volleyball team has officially come to an end.”, Iwaizumi wasn’t aware he was reading it out loud. He couldn’t even believe what he was reading there. He was speechless. He bought the magazine, and drove home as soon as possible. He still hadn’t realized what he just had read. After Iwaizumi had arrived home, he went into his home office to turn on the TV and his notebook in order to look up whether the news were true or not. While he was waiting for his notebook to turn on, he read the article multiple times. 

25th April he repeated to himself a few more times. Today it's the 22nd May. 

“Ugh, this happened like one month ago, why did it reach Japan so late?”, he asked himself. He had hardly finished saying this when he checked the magazine to see what the release date was.

30th April? What have I been doing for the whole month to not notice anything?? Oh. Right. I was working.

“Hey, babe. I am home!”, a female voice shouted.

Iwaizumi just said a quiet “Hey, Kaori” and put all focus back into the magazine again.

Kaori walked over to Iwaizumi and immediately noticed something was off. She came closer to him and carefully put her hand on his shoulder.

"What's wrong?", she asked worryingly.

Iwaizumi looked up, shook his head and smiled at her. "Nothing, nevermind", he just said, "What do you want for dinner? It's been a while since we ate together."

She returned his smile and said: "I brought us some ramen already."

While she was saying this, she stood up and went into the kitchen to set the table. Of course, Iwaizumi followed her and wanted to help her. They prepared everything for the meal and started eating.

Kaori was telling him about her day. About how she was able to assist during an important surgery, how she was able to hold the sucker and how her hand wasn't shaking at all during the surgery.

Iwaizumi barely heard anything she said, but he nodded anyways. Albeit he loved his girlfriend more than anything else, he couldn't stop himself thinking about Oikawa.

How is he feeling right now? Where is he? Is he at the hospital? Does he need a surgery again? Would he come here, so I can treat him? Most likely not, because of the thing that happened between us. Why am I even thinking about him?

He shook his head and tried to think about something else. He began listening to Kaori's stories, even though he didn't pay attention at first.

 

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Oikawa's car parked in front of a big building. The driver got out of the car and opened the  back right door for Oikawa. The brunette gave the driver his crutches and then tried to slowly get out - taking his crutches back from the driver he looked around, inhaling and then exhaling.

"Long time no see, Tokyo.", he whispered to himself.

It has been one month since the whole incident. It's the 1st June, his surgery went well, however he wont be able to play professionally anymore. Until today he has been in the USA, where the injury occurred. His team won anyway, albeit it was very close. He feels terrible for letting them down now, but he knows that his vice-captain will do a great job and that his team will be alright even though he isn't their setter anymore. 

The driver took Oikawa's two suitcases and went into the building, waiting for the elevator. Oikawa exhaled one more time before turning around and following the man with his suitcases. Oikawa had almost forgotten how the building looked from the inside. It was big. Not everyone could afford to live here.

It's a ten floor building, on each floor there are two big apartments. Oikawa lives on the tenth floor. The elevator made a sound, which let him know that he reached his floor and the doors opened. He pulled out his key for the door and unlocked it. After he had opened the door a lot of flashbacks hit him. How he and a few teammates always came here after practice just to relax, the parties he threw when he still was younger, the men he hooked up with. But it is all over now.

Oikawa showed the driver where he can put down the suitcases, thanked him and wished him a good night. He noticed the driver forgot to close his door, so he somehow managed to go back to his door with his crutches to close it. He was just about to shut the door as the one in front of him opened.

He couldn't believe what he saw. Was he hallucinating?

"Oikawa?", the voice asked slowly.

"Iwaizumi..", the brunette managed to say somehow.

The two of them just stood there, heavily breathing, no one dared to say anything. After some time, Oikawa closed his door without saying anything else.

 

 __________________

 

It has been a week since the strange door-incident, they haven't seen each other since then. Iwaizumi is still very busy with his work and Oikawa, well, who knows what Oikawa is up to nowadays.

Iwaizumi is definitely not admitting that he has been avoiding Oikawa during the whole week. Actually, there is nothing to admit, because it isn't true. It's not like he has been looking through the door's spyhole every time before he gets out of the apartment just to make sure Oikawa wasn't in the hallway. Not at all. No way. Okay, once. Maybe twice. Or was it six times? But definitely not more than ten times.

Iwaizumi was sitting on the balcony, going through some patient documents and trying to figure out how he could help one of the best European tennis players. He was reading and researching in internet - completely lost in thoughts - and didn't even notice that Kaori came back from work.

"Did you know we have a neighbour?", she asked him.

Iwaizumi looked up to her and immediately felt a little bit guilty for not noticing her being home.

She's been home for a bit now. She has taken a shower and changed her clothes.

"Yes, I knew. I saw him a week ago, but we didn't say anything to each other. Why are you asking?", he answered her.

"Well," she began speaking after she had sat down, "I met him  in the elevator just now. His name is Oikawa Tooru and I invited him for dinner to us."

Iwaizumi's heart just skipped one beat only to start pounding faster by mentioning his name. "What do you mean by invited him for dinner?"

The woman narrowed her eyebrows and said: "I mean what I just have said. I invited him for dinner. You know what dinner is? Food, a nice conversation, getting to know each other." She laughed a little bit at the end.

"When?", was Iwaizumi's only question.

"I asked him if he could do today, but he said he has a lot of work to do, although it was clearly just an excuse, because maybe he is shy.", he started telling him.

Oh, believe me. Oikawa isn't shy. Oikawa doesn't even know what this word means. This word doesn't exist in his dictionary.

"…and that's why he is coming tomorrow at 6:30pm.", she ended the story, however Iwaizumi was barely listening.

"What? Tomorrow?", he asked surprised.

"I have tomorrow off, so I can prepare everything, going to the grocery shop, cook something nice. You just have to be on time please", Kaori tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled at him innocently.

Iwaizumi sighed and his girlfriend knew that means victory for her.

Iwaizumi was screwed. So screwed.

 

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Oikawa went to buy food. Milkbread, to be exact. He can't cook, so he has been ordering something to eat for a week now and finally decided to go somewhere. To be around real people, although some of his old friends who live in Tokyo did come to visit him, from time to time.

It was kind of hard to walk three kilometres with crutches but he got used to them because he was ordered to use them for a month and a half. There are still two weeks to go. After the two weeks, he is allowed to use a walking stick and has to go to physiotherapy.

He decided he had walked enough for today and headed back home. Entering the building and stepping into the elevator, he heard a female voice screaming to wait for her. The doors were about to close, but Oikawa put one of his crutches between the doors and they opened again. The woman managed to get into the elevator, she thankfully smiled at the brunette.

"Which floor?", Oikawa asked nicely and offered her his best fake smile.

"The tenth, please.", she answered him politely.

Tooru felt something strange happening in his stomach. He felt anger. He felt sadness.

"Oh, tenth?", he said like the world didn't shatter for him right now, "Me too."

The woman looked up to him with a confused smile: "You live on the tenth floor? Then we live across from each other. I live there with my boyfriend."

"That's nice", was the only thing Oikawa managed to say.

"How about you come for dinner today. So we can get to know each other?", she asked him with excitement.

Oikawa wished he didn't say anything. "Eh, I don't even know your name."

The woman was surprised, but then noticed she hasn't introduced herself yet: "Oh my God, I am so sorry. My name is Hyu Kaori. Nice to meet you…"

"Oikawa. Oikawa Tooru. Nice to meet you, Hyu-Chan.", he gave her his best fake smile again.

"How about we get to know each other? You can come to us and we all can have dinner together. Maybe today?", she asked him and looked at Tooru hopefully.

Oh, please no.

"Eh, I don't have time today, I have a lot of work, sorry Hyu-chan.", he answered with an apologetic look.

"Hm..", she began speaking again, "Then tomorrow at half past six? No excuses young man!", she laughed.

Oikawa sighed and accepted the invitation.

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. They stepped out of the elevator, gave each other one last smile and disappeared behind their own doors.

Oikawa closed the door. He felt like vomiting, he did not want to see Iwaizumi again. 

Chapter Text

Iwaizumi went to work the following day with an uneasy feeling. He stepped into his office and the first thing he saw were the piles of paper on his desk. He sighed. Hajime wasn't sure if he was ready for today's work, not speaking about today's dinner. To hear Oikawa's voice again, to see him, to see his chocolate brown eyes and his chocolate brown, curly hair. He wasn't ready to be in the same room as Oikawa, his childhood friend, his best friend, his partner, his setter, and his ex-lover.
 
Hajime sat down at his desk and started working. At least he tried to work. He had to sign a lot of papers, had to read through a lot of documents, and at 2pm he has a surgery to perform. It is going to be a rough day for him.
 
"Good morning, chief" a well-known voice said while knocking on Iwaizumi's office door.
 
The addressed chief looked up, smiled a little after he saw the familiar bright pink-haired man in front of him and answered: "Good morning, Makki. Are you here to give me more papers of hell to sign?"
 
Makki, Hanamaki Takahiro to be exact, laughed: "You chose to be the head of the hospital. You have to live with the disadvantages, which come with the job."
 
Iwaizumi couldn't stop himself from laughing: "So, what do you want?"
 
"What do you mean with what do you want? Ain't I be allowed to come into your office to just speak to you? About God and the world?" Makki asked while acting insulted. 
 
"I met him." Iwaizumi said out of nowhere.
 
Hanamaki clearly seemed confused, his smile gone. "You met who?"
 
"Oikawa. I met him about a week ago." he said quietly.
 
The pink-haired man blinked a few times. "Do you know about-"
 
"His retirement? Yes. I found out a week ago. Yes, I know it had happened a month ago, but I was working, okay? Anyway, long story short, he is my neighbour."
 
"I know" Makki said quietly.
 
The surprising answer from Hanamaki earned an eyebrow raise from Iwaizumi: "You know?"
 
"Yes. I have visited him a couple of times now. He is searching for a physiotherapist. I told him you were the best one here, but you know him better than I do. He is stubborn as fuck. So, that's why I visit him a couple of times to check on his knee and how he’s doing. You know, Oikawa without volleyball isn't Oikawa. That's why I am worried and visit him quite often." he said, "And I know you wouldn't do it even though you are worried, that's why I try to look after him a little bit.. For you."
 
There was silence for a few seconds.
 
"He is coming over for dinner today. Kaori met him in the elevator and managed to force him to have dinner with us. Today at half past six. Do you think I am screwed or do you think I am screwed?" Iwaizumi asked with a sarcastic tone in his voice.
 
"Are you going to tell her that you know each other? Have known each other your whole life long?"
 
Hajime didn't say anything, Hanamaki knew what this meant.
 
 

__________________


 
 
"Let me get this right, Tooru" Kuroo Tetsurou said nonplussed, "You've got invited by Iwaizumi Hajime's girlfriend named Hyu Kaori for dinner today at half past six? And they both live together across from you? And by Iwaizumi Hajime you mean your childhood friend, your best friend during school, your ace, and your ex-lover?"
 
"You don't have to tell me who Iwaizumi Hajime is. I have been there." Oikawa said dryly.
 
"I am just trying to understand the situation!" the raven-haired guy answered dramatically.
 
"Then try do understand it quietly,“ Oikawa said with an obvious annoyed roll of his eyes.
 
While Kuroo seemed to be mumbling to himself about the whole situation, Oikawa was getting nervous because of this dinner. It was six o'clock already and he wasn't sure if he will be able to handle this alone. He bought wine for the couple, Iwaizumi's favourite wine to be exact, just to not show up empty-handed. Of course, Oikawa looked perfect like always. He wore a turquoise shirt with a black vest over it, black suit trousers and a black suit jacket. 
 
"Tetsu-chan?" Oikawa said.
 
The addressed person looked up to meet chocolate brown eyes starring at him.
 
"Would you like to come with me to this dinner? I don't want to be alone there." Tooru admitted.
 
Kuroo smiled at him and answered: "Of course. So, let's go I guess?"
 
The brunette took his crutches and stood up from the chair. One last look at the clock told him that it was almost half past six. He said to Kuroo to take the bottle of wine and to open the door. Oikawa went out as first and knocked on the door across from him while Kuroo was closing his own.
 
Kaori opened the door and was clearly surprised seeing Kuroo standing in front of her.
 
"Good evening, Hyu-chan." Oikawa said with a smile, "I hope it's okay that I brought a friend of mine with me? We had plans today and I forgot to cancel them, so I asked him, if he wanted to come with me."
 
"No, it's not a problem at all!" she answered with a bright smile, "I have cooked so much, it's enough for a whole army."
 
The three of them laughed. The woman asked them to come in after she introduced herself to Kuroo and vice versa. She held up the door for Oikawa and he smiled at her thankfully. Tooru's heart was going to explode. It was pounding so fast and loud, he thought everyone could hear it. In a few seconds he is going to see the person he has loved the most. They haven't seen each other for six years now. What should he say?
 
All of them headed to the dining room where Iwaizumi was sitting.
 
"Honey, they’re here." Kaori said with excitement.
 
First Iwaizumi was confused about the they, but immediately understood after his look met Kuroo's. They shook hands and smiled at each other. Behind Kuroo there was Tooru waiting for his turn. He was nervous, but who is Oikawa Tooru without his pokerface? Tetsurou stepped to the side so Oikawa could introduce himself to Iwaizumi, even though it wasn't necessary because they have known each other for 29 years now. 
 
The memories flooded back as brown met green and green met brown.
 
Iwaizumi swallowed and repressed all memory of the past. "Iwaizumi Hajime, nice to meet you, Oikawa-k-"
 
"Oikawa is enough, no need for formalities. Oikawa Tooru, nice to meet you, too, Iwaizumi." Oikawa smiled at him, it was fake as almost always. Hajime knew it was fake. He knew every smile of Tooru by heart. He could tell every smile apart, something that no one else could, or so he thought. Everything could have changed during those six years.
 
The four of them sat down. Kuroo helped Tooru with his crutches while Iwaizumi was watching them out of the corner of his eye. He couldn't deny that he was worried.
 
"Oikawa-san, thank you for the wine. It's Hajime's favourite,“ she smiled at him while opening the bottle and filling the liquid into the glasses.
 
Oikawa flinched a little bit after hearing someone else saying his first name. Iwaizumi's family and Oikawa himself were the only people who were allowed to call him by his first name. Things have changed.
 
"So, Oikawa-san. Tell us something about yourself." Kaori asked with curiosity.
 
Oikawa smiled and began speaking about himself: "I was a pro volleyball player until this happened," he knocked on his crutches twice and laughed lightly even though everyone in this room could hear the sadness in his voice "I played setter and was the captain, but now I retired. So, at the moment I am doing literally nothing."
 
"Wow, you were a pro? That means that Hajime knows you for sure, he also played volleyball during high school and university." Kaori mentioned.
 
Tooru turned his gaze to Iwaizumi: "Really? Which position did you play?"
 
It hurt Hajime how casually Oikawa was able to ask him about this. Like he had no clue, like Hajime has never been his ace: "Wing spiker." After saying this, he turned to Kuroo and asked: "You were also in the national men's volleyball team, right? A year ago you retired without really stating any reason."
 
"That's right. I played middle blocker, but as you said, I retired. Meanwhile, I play just for fun." he answered grinning.
 
"How long do you know each other?" Kaori asked the two ex-pro-volleyball players.
 
"Hm, let me think" Oikawa began speaking, "I think for about seven years now? Maybe eight. I met him before we got called to play for the national team."

"And you have become very close over the years, I guess?" the blue-eyed woman asked.
 
Kuroo smiled gently at her: "Yes, we have. Especially now, where he needs help because of his knee. And I have to watch over him, so Tooru won't hurt himsel- ouch!"
 
Iwaizumi frowned just for a moment by hearing Oikawa's first name. He didn't have the right to feel upset, but it came out so casually from Kuroo's mouth, as if he had always called him by his first name. Hajime should have expected this, he should have known this. He should have been prepared for this to happen. For not being the only one allowed to call him Tooru anymore.
 
But he was not prepared. Time stopped for him and everything became silent. He could not hear anyone speaking, the only thing he could hear was Kuroo saying his name over and over again in his head. The words drill into him, just a normal name, a normal way two boyfriends call each other yet so crushing.
 
Tooru.
 
Time came rushing back, the quiet music in the background resumed and Iwaizumi settles back in his chair and turned his attention back to his guests, arms folded.
 
"Do you know," Tetsurou began speaking, "any good physiotherapists? Tooru needs one, but he is too proud of himself asking."
 
"Oh god, yes, we know one. Actually the best one" Kaori smiled, "He is sitting on this table."
 
Six eyes look up to Iwaizumi.
 
"Oh, eh. Yes, I am one, but you do not have to take me as your physiotherapist" Hajime was speaking to Oikawa, while he was looking at him, "But, if you want, you can make an appointment for tomorrow and e-"
 
"Thank you, it would be nice to be treated by the best one." Oikawa said. Of course, he noticed Iwaizumi was a little bit shy and unsure about offering him this, "So, tomorrow at…"
 
"Ten o'clock?" he said like a grenade.
 
Oikawa nodded and continued eating and speaking to Kaori.
 
One look at the clock told everyone that it has got pretty late already, and Tetsurou suggested to end this for today.
 
"Thank you for coming Kuroo-san, Oikawa-san." Kaori said while she was leading them to the door.
 
Oikawa was behind them, because he needed a little bit longer with his crutches.
 
"Do you need any help?" Iwaizumi asked politely.
 
Oikawa turned his gaze to him for a second, then looked away and answered quietly: "Not from you."
 
They all said goodbye with a smile and Kaori closed the door. Then the two friends wished each other a good night and Kuroo headed back home. Yet barely the door to Oikawa's apartment was closed he dropped the facade. He went into his bedroom, changed clothes and just started crying. Crying without really knowing why. He had a good life up until now. He was captain. He was a starsetter. He was popular. He was a good lover to many women and men. He was everything everyone wanted to be. However, he was fake. Almost every smile, almost every laugh, almost everything he did during the past years wasn't real. His life fell apart just because of one dumb mistake he made during the match. On his nightstand laid a book, he took it and just threw it against his bedroom door. He wanted to scream, scream in anger, scream in despair, scream in pain and to break something, anything.
 
He knew he was screwed because of this dinner, he knew what the reunion with Iwaizumi would do to him. He felt like he was drowning. He felt like he couldn't breathe. He felt like his body was about to collapse. He was in a lot of pain, because of one person.
 
Hajime. 
 
He cried a lot tonight until he cried himself to sleep.