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Iwaizumi, contrary to popular belief, likes to think of himself as an easygoing guy.

The rest of Seijoh wouldn’t exactly agree with him; somewhere along the way, he’s accidentally earned a reputation for being a bit of a troublemaker. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. He works hard, gets good grades, and has never thrown a punch in his life.

So maybe he misses more school than the majority of his classmates, but that’s only because his immune system is unnaturally weak and he gets sick far more often than should be allowed by the laws of nature. And sure, he’s not the most outgoing of people, but he’s friendly enough once you get to know him. It’s just that, thanks to the aforementioned reputation, no one bothers to get to know him.

Iwaizumi is fine with that. He has Hanamaki, who he’s known since middle school, and a few other friends he talks to regularly, and his teachers like him. He doesn’t need to meet new people. There are only a couple of months before he leaves for college, and he can work on expanding his social circle once he gets there. On his own. If he wants to.

On the other hand, though, he’ll go to extreme lengths to ensure that the friends he does have are happy. Which is how he’s gotten himself into his current predicament.

“Iwaizumi-san,” Kageyama says, dipping his head in a formal, if slightly stiff, bow. On the first day of school, Iwaizumi had encountered the first-year wandering around campus, looking lost, and helped him figure out where his class was located. He hasn’t been able to rid himself of the kid ever since. “Can I talk to you alone?”

Iwaizumi glances up from his food. He and Hanamaki are eating lunch in their usual spot: an abandoned corner of the school roof. The jury’s still out on whether students are actually allowed up here, but no one’s complained about them so far.

He climbs to his feet, dusting off the pants of his school uniform. “Sure thing,” he says. “Hanamaki, you better not steal any of my food.”

“Uh huh,” Hanamaki mumbles, in a way that means he’s definitely going to. Iwaizumi rolls his eyes and follows Kageyama inside.

The door clicks closed behind them, and Iwaizumi crosses his arms as he waits for Kageyama to speak up. He looks… well, he doesn’t look nervous, exactly, because it’s Kageyama and Iwaizumi isn’t even sure whether he’s capable of showing that much emotion, but still. He’s more jittery than Iwaizumi has ever known him to be, and that’s enough to be concerning.

“So,” Iwaizumi prompts, when it becomes clear that Kageyama is having trouble figuring out how to spit it out on his own. “What did you need?”

“I,” Kageyama says, “I want to ask Hinata on a date.”

Iwaizumi furrows his brow. “Hinata?” The name conjures the mental image of a short, orange-haired boy with an ever-present smile and seemingly boundless energy. Iwaizumi’s noticed him hovering around Kageyama once or twice. Kageyama, for his part, tends to look more annoyed than anything when Hinata’s around, but what does Iwaizumi know? Considering he’s never been in a serious relationship, he’s hardly an expert on romance.

“Alright,” Iwaizumi says slowly. “Are you asking for advice? Because I don’t know if I can help you there.”

“If I wanted advice I would ask Suga-san,” Kageyama says. Then: “No offense.”

“None taken.”

Kageyama sighs. “Hinata’s parents won’t let him date because of Oikawa.”

“Oikawa?” Oikawa Tooru? A bad feeling starts to pool in Iwaizumi’s gut. Any situation Oikawa is involved in can mean nothing but trouble for Iwaizumi. “What does he have to do with any of this?”

“They’re cousins,” Kageyama says. “Hinata told me that his parents want to make sure Oikawa sets a good example for him, so he has to be in a relationship before Hinata is allowed to date.”

“That’s a stupid idea,” Iwaizumi says. Kageyama just shrugs. “I mean, that can’t be too hard, right?” Iwaizumi asks. “Oikawa literally has a fan club. He gets a dozen confessions a week.”

“But he doesn’t take any of them,” Kageyama says, beginning to get visibly frustrated. And it’s true. Iwaizumi may not run in the same circles as Oikawa and his friends, but he knows that much. It’s a source of infinite consternation for all the girls in their grade that Oikawa, who flirts like he breathes, has never been interested in dating any of them. The only person he’s shown the remotest interest in is—

“No,” Iwaizumi says immediately. “Absolutely not.”

“You’re the only person he’s ever asked out,” Kageyama insists. Iwaizumi is reminded of how stubborn his underclassman can get when he’s determined to get something, and he doesn’t appreciate it.

“Cornering me in a stairwell and telling me I should feel lucky I caught his eye is not asking me out,” Iwaizumi says.

“It’s Oikawa-san,” Kageyama says. “No one understands how his mind works.” Which, fair.

“I understand enough to know I want no part of it,” Iwaizumi says. He and Oikawa hate each other, or at least he had thought they hated each other until three weeks ago, when Oikawa had decided out of the blue that Iwaizumi was worth bestowing his affections upon.

Iwaizumi still hasn’t gotten around to processing it. Right now, he’s sticking to his previous motto of keeping his head down and coasting until graduation.

“Besides,” Iwaizumi says, “I turned him down, so if he didn’t hate me already, he does now. You’re wasting your time.”

“Please, Iwaizumi-san,” Kageyama says, looking like he’s just bitten into a lemon. Iwaizumi winces. In the first place, he’s bad at saying no to people he cares about, and Kageyama never says please, so this must mean a lot to him.

“It would mean a lot to me,” Kageyama adds, and Iwaizumi can feel himself crumbling. “And Hinata.”

“Look, Kageyama, I like you,” Iwaizumi says. “But not enough to fake-date Oikawa just so you can for-real-date Hinata.”

“Why not? Oikawa-san is…” Kageyama’s nose scrunches as he mulls it over. “… very dateable.”

Iwaizumi scoffs. “You can’t even say it with a straight face.”

“He’s charismatic,” Kageyama insists.

“Loud and annoying,” Iwaizumi rebuts.

“Confident.”

“Arrogant.”

“Smart.”

“Know-it-all.”

“He’s… handsome?” Kageyama tries.

Iwaizumi has no response to that because he might dislike the guy with a burning passion, but he still has eyes. Kageyama, seeing an opening in his moment of hesitation, pounces. “Will you at least think about it?” he asks.

Damn it. A kid as overgrown and stoic and emotionally constipated as Kageyama should not be able to have such expressive puppy-dog eyes. “...I’ll think about it,” Iwaizumi says at last.

Kageyama lights up—again, as much as Kageyama is capable of lighting up, which isn’t a lot—and bows again. “Thank you, Iwaizumi-san!” He turns and heads down the stairs, presumably to find Hinata and update him.

“Oi!” Iwaizumi calls after him. “I haven’t agreed to anything yet!”

He listens for a second, but there’s no response. Kageyama is gone.

With a groan, Iwaizumi returns to his spot on the roof. He notices, as he sits down, that two tempura shrimp are missing from his bento, but he opts not to call Hanamaki out on it.

“What was that all about?” Hanamaki asks, trying and failing to hide his curiosity.

“Nothing,” Iwaizumi says. He takes a bite of his last remaining shrimp, chews meditatively, and swallows. “Actually, I don’t even know. I’ll tell you later.”

Hanamaki shrugs, turning to his own meal. “Oh, mysterious. Fine, have it your way.”

“Mhm.”

“We still on for movie night next Friday?”

Preoccupied as he is, it takes a moment for the question to register. “Hm? Oh, yeah. For sure.”

Hanamaki raises his eyebrows at that but mercifully says nothing.

 


 

Thanks to Kageyama’s distraction, Iwaizumi has to eat quickly to ensure that he makes it back to the classroom on time. Not that it matters, in the end, because even as he ducks into his desk in the last row half a minute after he’s supposed to be seated, their class president is nowhere to be found.

He’s late. Again.

Iwaizumi sighs and, like everyone else in the class, watches as the second hand on the clock above the doorway ticks away. It makes one full circle, then another, and it’s five minutes after the bell rings before the door swings open and Oikawa Tooru steps inside, as unbothered as usual. He’s flanked by his equally unabashed friends, two guys who seem to be competing to win first prize for the worst hair Iwaizumi has ever seen.

“You’re late, Oikawa,” their teacher mutters from her desk.

As usual, Oikawa flashes a grin at her. “Sorry, sensei. Won’t happen again.” And as usual, she lets him off easy with little more than an impatient wave.

Kuroo and Bokuto take their seats, and Oikawa takes his own position in front of the white board in front of everyone. “Good afternoon, class,” he says, picking up a marker. “Here are today’s announcements. Preparations for the end-of-year school festival will begin soon, and I’m looking for one girl and one guy to volunteer to lead the planning committee…”

From that point on, Iwaizumi tunes out the words Oikawa’s saying. There’s no particular reason that the two of them don’t get along. Iwaizumi assumes it’s just a matter of contradictory personalities. Since the day they were paired up to complete a lab in their first year and ended up fighting and failing the assignment, Iwaizumi has gone out of his way to avoid interacting with the younger man. He’s always thought that Oikawa felt the same way.

Oikawa is good-looking, but he’s also cocky and flashy, with a blatant aura of self-importance that Iwaizumi finds difficult to stomach. He’s always late, and he doesn’t seem to take anything seriously, and—

—And he’s looking right at Iwaizumi.

Upon realizing that he’s been caught staring, Iwaizumi stiffens. Oikawa raises an eyebrow, a motion so miniscule you’d have to be looking for it to catch it. To any other onlooker, he would appear to be completely focused in reading out his guidelines for the festival. It is, however, the first time he’s acknowledged Iwaizumi since his impromptu confession-slash-disaster three weeks ago.

Iwaizumi, who’s never been one to back down from a challenge, stares back, doing his best to keep his expression impassive. The corner of Oikawa’s lips curl up into a small smile, and he shoots Iwaizumi a quick wink before turning to scribble something on the board.

The spell breaks, and Iwaizumi scowls. The tips of his ears burn strangely hot. Part of him is annoyed that Oikawa doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed in the face of someone who just rejected him. No way, Iwaizumi thinks. Sorry, Kageyama. This is not happening. Nope.

Oikawa claps his hands together once, which snaps Iwaizumi out of his reverie. “And that does it for today’s announcements!” He says. “Does anyone have anything they’d like to add?” He scans the crowd, his eyes lingering on Iwaizumi for two seconds too long. But finding no takers, he shrugs and finally—thankfully—makes his way to his own desk.

Iwaizumi zones out for the rest of the class. It doesn’t help that Oikawa sits in the same row as he does, four spots forward, and because he’s so tall Iwaizumi has a direct line of vision to the back of his head and the soft-looking brown curls that sway when he raises his hand to answer a question, and oh my god Hajime, shut the fuck up now.

Whatever. He’ll make sure to ask Hanamaki for his notes later.

Soon enough they’re dismissed, and Iwaizumi shakes himself free of the unwelcome thoughts he’s having. He stuffs his pencils and books back into his backpack, then stands and slings it over one shoulder. In fact, he’s so distracted trying to leave the room as soon as possible that he doesn’t realize that Oikawa and his friends are blocking his path until he almost collides with him.

“Sorry, excuse me,” Iwaizumi says, stumbling backward. Oikawa turns around, giving him a once-over, and Iwaizumi’s fingers tighten on the strap of his backpack. It frustrates Iwaizumi to no end that Oikawa is slightly taller and that he never ceases to use it to his advantage.

“Oops,” Oikawa says, too cheerfully. “My bad, Iwaizumi-kun. Bo-chan, you big lug, be a dear and get out of the way?” He slaps Bokuto Koutarou on the back, and Bokuto chuckles good-naturedly as he ambles out of the way.

Iwaizumi maneuvers past them without further comment, but he can feel Oikawa’s eyes, hawklike, trained on him as he passes by. The hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Kuroo Tetsurou jabs Oikawa in the side and whispers something in his ear, whispering something, which Iwaizumi ignores, before breaking out into his trademark hyena laughter.

Iwaizumi grimaces. No, definitely not his scene.

Hanamaki follows after him, catching up once they’re out of the classroom. They walk side by side down the hallway, and Hanamaki has the grace to wait until they get down to the first floor before breaking the silence.

“So,” he says, casual, “what’s wrong with you?”

Iwaizumi groans, passing a hand through his hair. “I don’t know,” he says. He does his best to explain the favor Kageyama asked of him. It only sounds more ridiculous when he says it out loud.

Hanamaki starts laughing at him before he’s finished explaining, and Iwaizumi glares at him and waits for him to shut up. “It’s not funny,” he says.

“It’s kind of funny,” Hanamaki disagrees. “From where I’m standing. Anyway, I think it’ll be good for you.”

“Not you too,” Iwaizumi says. “I am not going to fake-date Oikawa. He’s not even my type.”

“All due respect,” Hanamaki says, “but you’ve never dated anyone, unless we count that time in middle school when you kissed a girl and made her cry because you said you hated it. You don’t  know what your type is.”

“Thanks for the reminder.” Iwaizumi shudders at the memory. It wasn’t his fault she’d used so much tongue he thought he was going to drown. “And whatever my type is, it wouldn’t be him, I can tell you that much.”

“What’s wrong with Oikawa?” Hanamaki asks. “He can be intense, maybe, but he seems like a cool guy. Smart. Funny. Pretty, too. I know you have a thing for the pretty ones, Iwaizumi. Don’t lie.”

“I don’t—” Hanamaki shoots him a look, and Iwaizumi decides to change the topic. “I just… we’ve never gotten along. And isn’t it kind of weird, dating someone who doesn’t know you don’t actually like them?”

They make their way out of the school building and into the courtyard, taking a moment to enjoy the gentle spring breeze before starting toward the parking lot. “Look,” Hanamaki says, “all I’m saying is that you could do worse. And meeting new people isn’t always a bad thing—”

“Not this again,” Iwaizumi says. “I don’t need to make new friends. I’m fine.”

“You might learn something new about him, or yourself,” Hanamaki continues, undeterred. “Seriously, man, all I’m saying is it might be a good way to start putting yourself out there more.”

“Hmm,” Iwaizumi says noncommittally. He steps out onto the asphalt of the student parking lot and reaches into his pocket to fish out his keys.

“You know what I think?” Hanamaki asks. “I think you’re scared of being a cliche.”

That gets Iwaizumi’s attention. He looks up, frowning, and meets Hanamaki’s eyes. “What?”

“You know. The whole golden boy-and-rebel stereotype.” Iwaizumi doesn’t choke on his spit, but it’s a near thing. Hanamaki barrels forward despite his spluttered protests. “It’s overdone, yeah, but stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, you know? Maybe you just don’t want to find out you actually like Oikawa and feed into the trope.”

“That’s—that’s not—you’re so full of shit,” Iwaizumi says.

Hanamaki grins at him. “Whoops, this is me,” he says, jerking his head toward the beat-up white Mitsubishi beside him. “Looks like you’re on your own, buddy. Let me know what you decide ‘kay?”

Iwaizumi resists the very strong urge to flip Hanamaki off as he walks away. “Whatever,” he says. “See you tomorrow, man.”

His motorcycle—dear god, he has a motorcycle, maybe Hanamaki is right, maybe he is a stereotype—is parked further from the building than Hanamaki’s car. He’s always enjoyed the rush of exhilaration he gets when he drives it, but this time, the ride home gives him far too much alone time with his thoughts.

Oikawa is… too talkative. Difficult to read. High-maintenance. Iwaizumi gets a headache just thinking about dating him. And he’s not pretty, thank you very much… okay, well, he is, Iwaizumi’s not going to lie to himself. But he’s attractive in an objective way, in a frame-and-put-in-a-museum way, not an attainable-as-a-romantic-prospect-for-normal-people way. And most of all, Oikawa is no longer interested in Iwaizumi, not after Iwaizumi made it explicitly clear where they stand, and that’s the only part that really matters.

He pulls into his garage and parks and removes his helmet. Taking out his phone, he’s fully prepared to text Kageyama and inform him that he’s not playing along with his plans.

 

You: hey kageyama

You: i’ll do it.

 

Iwaizumi stares at his traitorous fingers in disbelief. “What the fuck,” he hisses out loud.

He tugs at his hair, trying to come up with a way to take it back, but it’s too late. Read appears under the messages less than two seconds after he sends them, and soon a gray typing bubble shows up on the other side of the screen.

 

Kageyama: wahhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Kageyama: iwaizumi-san to the rescue!!!!!!! so cool!!!!!!!!!!!

Kageyama: sorry, that was Hinata. idiot.

Kageyama: but thank you, Iwaizumi-senpai.

 

Damn it. Not for the first or last time, Iwaizumi curses his aversion to seeing his friends unhappy. He can’t just back out now in the face of Kageyama and Hinata’s obvious gratitude.

Well. How hard can this be, right?