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play stupid games

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It’s ten in the morning, and Oikawa is vibrating with so much excitement that Iwaizumi is forced to hold his hand to keep him tethered to the earth. Not that it’s a difficult undertaking; he’s grown fairly addicted to the feeling of Oikawa’s skin against his.

After three years of cram sessions and all-nighters and memories, now is the moment when it sinks in for Iwaizumi that they’re almost done. They’ve almost made it. No one could be prouder than Oikawa to be here, witnessing the hard work of the school festival planning committee come to life.

Iwaizumi squeezes his hand; Oikawa looks at him, smiles, and squeezes back. He hasn’t been able to stop touching Oikawa for the past week, keenly aware of the ticking clock in the back of his mind, counting down the seconds until Hanamaki’s deadline. As a consequence, he’s learned that Oikawa’s fingers fit perfectly in the spaces between his, that Oikawa’s collarbones are sharp and sensitive, that Oikawa tastes the sweetest when Iwaizumi cuts him off in the middle of a bout of laughter to kiss him. It will be so much harder, Iwaizumi thinks, having to let him go with the knowledge of all these new things fresh in his mind.

“Iwa-chan?” Oikawa asks, waving his free hand in front of Iwaizumi’s face. His eyes are shining, curved into happy, crinkly crescents, and Iwaizumi pushes his thoughts away in favor of being in the present. Here, and now, with a boy he wishes he’d noticed earlier.

“Yeah.” Iwaizumi clears his throat, trying to smile back. “Big day, huh? You ready? Nervous?”

Oikawa winks at him and flashes a victory sign. “You should know better by now. I’m never nervous.”

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. “Right. Silly me, how could I have forgotten how big your ego is?”

“It’s not ego if it’s true,” Oikawa says with a haughty sniff. Then one of the teachers calls his name, and he perks up. “Oh, that’s my cue. See you in a few minutes?”

“I’ll be right here,” Iwaizumi promises, and he can’t resist leaning in and kissing Oikawa on the cheek before letting him leave.

He waits and watches some distance away Oikawa give the opening speech of the festival. They’ve set up a raised platform in front of the outdoor track field for the occasion, complete with a podium and mic. Oikawa looks tall and self-assured standing behind it, every bit the charming, unshakeable class president. Iwaizumi’s heart twists in his chest.

“Good morning, everyone!” Oikawa chirps. “I know you’re all excited to kick things off, so I’ll keep this short. First, I want to thank the Aoba Johsai administration for cooperating with us to make this possible, and our principal, Irihata-san, for his enthusiastic support of the festival.”

He aims a sunny smile in Irihata’s direction, like he hadn’t been responsible for going against the man’s express wishes to break Iwaizumi out of detention. Luckily, Takeda couldn’t find another teacher to cover the supervision, so they were never caught, and luckily, Oikawa hadn’t tried to pull the same stunt for the remainder of Iwaizumi’s punishment.

“I also want to make it clear that I can’t take credit for any of this.” In a grand gesture, Oikawa sweeps an arm out behind him toward the booths and tents set up for the festival. “All of it is the work of your incredibly hardworking planning committee, and you, yourselves: the club members who designed, built, and will run each attraction. To you, thank you, and to the third-years leaving this year, please take the time to enjoy this last worry-free day before entering the real world.”

Oikawa pauses dramatically before launching into his closing statement. “With that, I, Oikawa Tooru, class president, declare that this year’s end-of-year festival has begun!” He dings the small silver bell on the podium, bows, and the audience breaks into loud cheers as if on cue. Naturally, Oikawa preens under the attention, which makes Iwaizumi shake his head in fond amusement.

The crowd disperses in the direction of the festival grounds, loud laughter and chatter filling the air. People split into groups of two, three, or more. Iwaizumi watches them, couples and friends strolling around without a care in the world, with no little envy.

But it dispels quickly, because Oikawa hops off the makeshift stage to invade Iwaizumi’s personal space again. With a characteristic lack of propriety, he clings onto Iwaizumi’s arm and drags him toward the festivities. “Where to first, Iwa-chan?” he asks. His head swivels from side to side, surveying their colorful surroundings as they walk, obviously pleased with how everything turned out. It’s horribly endearing, and it makes him resemble an owl, and Iwaizumi stifles a bark of laughter behind his hand.

“I dunno, Shittykawa. You’re the one who has every exhibit memorized, not me.”

“Hmm, good point. Are you hungry? We could get food—but it’s still pretty early, so maybe we’ll save that for later. They have facepainting, there’s a poetry contest, you’ve got your run-of-the-mill amusement park games…”

Iwaizumi is content to be led by him and listen to him ramble. If it were up to him, he would be satisfied walking around the school with Oikawa, talking about nothing at all.

“... and the choir has karaoke set up, but we’ve already done that— oh.” Oikawa stops dead in his tracks, and it’s so sudden that Iwaizumi stumbles forward a little before correcting himself.

“Huh?” He looks around, trying to figure out which pastime caught Oikawa’s attention, but any one of the exhibits his eyes land on could be a contender for that title.

Oikawa points straight ahead, to where a group of boys is busy setting up a volleyball net. Iwaizumi quirks a brow. “You play volleyball?”

“I used to.” Oikawa shrugs, trying and failing to achieve indifference. “I was on a team in middle school, but my parents figured I should spend my time on something more productive.” A small frown flickers across his features, gone in an instant. “Let’s play, Iwa-chan!”

“Okay,” Iwaizumi says. He’s unwilling to say no to Oikawa under normal circumstances, much less when it seems like it means this much to him. “You’ll have to show me how, though.”

“You just have to hit the ball to the other side of the net when I send it over to you,” Oikawa says. He starts to lead them over to the group, and Iwaizumi follows. “Easy.”

As they approach, they recognize several familiar faces in the crowd. Kageyama and Hinata are there; Iwaizumi recalls vaguely that they’re regulars on the volleyball team. Joining the mix is an eclectic mix of first, second, and third-years that they all seem familiar with. Iwaizumi has seen some of them around before, but he’d be hard-pressed to remember all their names.

Hinata is the first to spot them walking over, and he lights up. “Oikawa!” he calls, waving to them. “Just in time, we were looking for another setter!”

Oikawa laughs. “I don’t know if I can keep up with you guys these days,” he says, but there’s a low, rumbling hunger lining the words.

Iwaizumi smiles and nods through the introductions that come next, a series of names and faces he’ll probably forget again as soon as the day is over. He does make an effort to remember the names of the players on their team, though. Aside from him and Oikawa, there’s another hitter named Asahi, two blockers named Tsukishima and Matsukawa, and a libero who does a flashy somersault that almost gives Iwaizumi a heart attack. He introduces himself as Nishinoya.

“What’s a libero?” Iwaizumi asks.

“Don’t worry about it,” Oikawa tells him. “Just hit the ball, remember?”

“I feel like you’re just using me for my muscles,” Iwaizumi complains.

Oikawa pretends to gasp. “Oh, no, you finally figured it out.” At Iwaizumi’s glare, the fake surprise transforms into a cheeky grin. “Don’t take it personally, Iwa-chan. I just want to win. And—they are very nice muscles.”

Iwaizumi turns away before Oikawa can see his face grow hot. He busies himself fiddling with a loose string dangling from the net, grumbling under his breath.

After they finish setting up, Oikawa is pulled away by the other players to talk strategy, and Iwaizumi finds himself standing aimlessly in front of the net. Kageyama catches his eye from the other side, extricates himself from his own huddle, and walks over. “Iwaizumi-san.”

Cracking a grin, Iwaizumi returns the greeting. “Kageyama,” he says. “Good to see you.”

“You, too.” He directs a questioning glance behind Iwaizumi’s shoulder. “Are you and Oikawa-san… okay now?”

“Um.” Iwaizumi rubs the back of his neck, sheepish. “Yeah, we’re good. Thanks.”

Kageyama breaks into a small smile, and Iwaizumi feels awful for lying to him. “That’s great. You must be very relieved.”

“Iwa-chan, what are you doing fraternizing with the enemy?” Oikawa shouts, saving Iwaizumi from having to formulate a reply. “Get over here, we’re going over plays!”

“Be right there, Crappykawa!” Iwaizumi yells back, to some incredulous laughter from the rest of their team. He turns back to Kageyama. “Talk to you after we win.”

“You won’t win,” Kageyama says, eyes narrowing. A chill runs down Iwaizumi’s spine as the first-year spins on his heel and stalks away.

Minutes later, the twelve players take their positions on either side of the net. Other students have gathered on the sides to spectate. Iwaizumi glances over his shoulder at Oikawa to make some snarky comment, but it dies in his throat at the sheer determination in those brown eyes. He swallows, hard, and Oikawa serves.

There’s no referee, no whistle, and Iwaizumi can’t even tell that the game has started until the first serve flies over his head and the net. One of their opponents in the back row bumps it up into the air; the other players clear the way for Kageyama to get under the ball. He lifts his hands above his head in cradlelike fashion, and the ball seems to barely brush against his fingertips before flying off to the side, where Hinata is waiting. He hits it with a loud smack, and Iwaizumi can only stare as it whooshes past him.

Luckily, Nishinoya manages to receive it. He must be on the school team, Iwaizumi thinks, because there’s no way he could have pulled that off otherwise. He sends the ball sailing unsteadily toward Oikawa, who locks eyes with Iwaizumi the second before he tosses it toward him.

On instinct, Iwaizumi jumps, raising his right hand to spike the ball. His heart pounds in his ears, and he takes a quick breath— just hit it.

He hits the ball, and by some miracle, it lands exactly the right distance in between two players so that neither of them know who should receive it. Iwaizumi lands on his feet and stares at his hand, flexing his fingers. The first point of the game.

Someone claps him on the back, and Iwaizumi doesn’t have to look to know it’s Oikawa. He does anyway. Oikawa is beaming but clearly trying not to show it. “That was a little low on my part, Iwa-chan,” he says. “I guess I’m out of practice after all.”

“Shut up.” Iwaizumi digs his elbow into Oikawa’s ribs, earning an offended squeak. “That was great, and you know it.”

A sharp smile, all teeth, breaks through Oikawa’s veneer of nonchalance, and it’s radiant. “Yeah, I do. Let’s do it again, all right?”

He holds his hand out for a fist bump, and Iwaizumi obliges. “All right.”



Naturally, they lose. That first spike was probably a fluke; Hinata and Kageyama have been practicing together for ages, and it shows. They lose, but by a respectable margin, and everyone is having too much fun to care about keeping score.

Hinata scores the final point of the final set by spiking through Matsukawa’s block, and then he immediately jumps into Kageyama’s arms.

“Nauseating,” Oikawa says from behind him.

Without bothering to look at him, Iwaizumi reaches over and smacks him in the shoulder. “They’re good together,” he says.

Just for that comment, Iwaizumi hauls Oikawa to the dynamic duo on the other side of the court and forces him to be a good sport and congratulate them. Somehow that turns into the four of them talking, which somehow turns into them agreeing to stick together for the duration of the festival.

It’s nice. Hinata’s energy is infectious, and not even Oikawa and Kageyama’s bickering can dampen the mood. They test out the cooking club-sponsored pop-up ramen stall, which serves decent food even if the noodles are of uneven thickness. They get group and then couple pictures taken by the photography club. At the baseball team’s booth, Iwaizumi crushes Kyoutani in arm wrestling, winning Oikawa a plush hedgehog.

“It looks like you, Iwa-chan! Prickly on the outside and squishy on the inside,” Oikawa says, heedless of Iwaizumi’s threats to his person.

Bokuto is also among the baseball team members, and Iwaizumi challenges him as well, but he loses after a stalemate that lasts nearly five minutes. Oikawa and Kageyama pull him away before he can demand a rematch.

All in all, it’s a thoroughly successful day, and Iwaizumi feels closer to Oikawa for having experienced it. It’s obvious how much he adores his cousin, despite the numerous jabs he makes regarding Hinata’s poor choice in romantic partners, and it’s equally obvious how much Kageyama looks up to him. After exhausting all the booths that pique their interest, they end up seated at a picnic table a ways away from the festival itself, quieter and less crowded.

“This was fun!” Hinata says. “We should do it again sometime.”

“Iwaizumi-san and Oikawa-san aren’t going to be here after this year,” Kageyama points out. Hinata droops, and Kageyama looks like he regrets the words. He reaches under the table to, presumably, grab his boyfriend’s hand.

“Well, of course we’ll come back to visit. Don’t think you can get rid of me so easily, Tobio,” Oikawa says. He pauses, watching gleefully as Kageyama turns red and splutters a half-hearted protest. “Why haven’t we done this before, anyway?”

Iwaizumi gets a bad feeling seeing the meaningful glance that passes between Hinata and Kageyama.

“I think it’s good that we’re only all meeting up now,” Hinata says. “Since everything’s been cleared up, finally.”

“What?” Oikawa asks.

“Wait, Hinata—” Iwaizumi starts to say at the same time. Oikawa frowns at him, and he snaps his mouth shut.

Kageyama’s eyes dart between the two of them with poorly-concealed panic. “Iwaizumi-san?” He gulps. “I thought you said you were good?”

“I…” Iwaizumi wants to fall through the ground and be swallowed whole. “It’s complicated.”

“What’s complicated?” Oikawa bites his bottom lip, gaze darkened with suspicion. “Iwa-chan, what’s going on?”

Belatedly, Hinata covers his mouth with one hand. His other has Kageyama’s sleeve locked in a stranglehold under the table, and he wears an expression that can only be described as horrified. “Sorry,” he says, muffled. “Sorry, sorry. Iwaizumi-san, I thought you— sorry.”

“Sorry for what?” Oikawa demands, crossing his arms.

“I think we should go.” Kageyama stands, pulling Hinata with him, and they flee the scene. Neither of them bother to hide their relief as they leave.

“Iwa-chan?” Oikawa asks.

Against his will, Iwaizumi lifts his head to look at him. His arms are wrapped around himself like a shield, and a combination of worry and confusion play out across his features. Iwaizumi takes a deep breath. “I haven’t been completely honest with you,” he admits. Best to rip the band-aid off.

Something hardens in Oikawa’s expression. “Okay,” he says. “Explain.”

“You remember last week?” Iwaizumi asks. Maintaining eye contact is starting to become painful, but he forces himself to keep going; he owes Oikawa that much, at least. “When you asked me why I changed my mind about dating you?”

Oikawa nods. His jaw is set in a hard line.

“I didn’t tell you the whole truth then,” Iwaizumi says. He sucks an unsteady breath into his lungs. “Three weeks after you—after I turned you down that first time, Kageyama came to me. He said… he said he wanted to date Hinata, but Hinata’s parents didn’t approve.”

“Ah, they didn’t think he was mature enough,” Oikawa says. His tone is so devoid of feeling it’s scary, his mouth a neutral slant. “They never do give him enough credit.”

“Right.” Iwaizumi’s mouth is dry, and he licks his lips to wet them. He traces unconscious patterns into the wood table with his fingers. An action to ground himself with. “Well. The only way to get around it was—they agreed that if you were dating someone—if you could be a good role model for him, they’d allow it. At least, that’s what Kageyama told me.”

“Me?” Oikawa’s head tilts in faint surprise. He purses his lips, and Iwaizumi can all but see the wheels turning in his brain, putting the pieces together.

Iwaizumi knows the exact moment he figures it out, sees it in the sudden stiffening of his shoulders and the paling of his cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m so fucking sorry, Oikawa.”

“So.” Oikawa speaks slow and even, but Iwaizumi flinches anyway. “You lied to me, you made me think you actually cared about me, and the whole time you were only dating me as some sort of sick favor to Tobio?”

“I do care about you,” Iwaizumi insists. He can’t exactly deny the other accusations. “I know it’s fucked up how it started, but I got to know you, and I—I really do like you,” he finishes lamely. Even now, he can’t say the words he actually wants to say. Even now, he’s a coward.

“When you like someone,” Oikawa says, “you don’t keep them in the dark about things like this. Either you’re still lying to me, and your feelings toward me haven’t changed, or they changed weeks ago but not enough to tell me the truth. You see how neither is a good look for you?”

“...Yes,” Iwaizumi says. “I know. I’m sorry, Oikawa.”

Oikawa shakes his head. The mask of impassivity falls from his face, and the crestfallen look that replaces it is worse to see. “Honestly, when you asked me out, I thought it was too good to be true,” he says. “I guess I was right.”


“Just… stay away from me from now on.” He swings his legs out from under the table and gets to his feet. “And figure yourself out, Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi has never felt as wretched as he does watching Oikawa walk away.



He isn’t sure how long he sits there, mind running circles around nothing, but after some time passes, he registers another presence behind him. There could not be a worse moment for someone to approach him, and he makes no move to acknowledge the other person.

Despite the general hostility in his body language, though, Hanamaki walks around the table and sits down across from him with a sigh.

Iwaizumi’s shoulders hunch. “Fuck off, Hanamaki,” he growls. “I don’t want to talk.”

“Kageyama and Hinata told me what happened,” Hanamaki begins. “Iwaizumi—” He doesn’t get to finish.

“He broke up with me, okay?” Iwaizumi snaps. “Or—I don’t fucking know, we weren’t dating to begin with. He said he didn’t want to see me again. Happy?”

Hearing that, the sympathy melts away from Hanamaki’s face, into anger. “You think I wanted this?” he asks, leaning forward. “You think I wanted to—to sabotage your relationship or something? Newsflash, Iwaizumi, you did that part all on your own.”

“Thank you, I’m aware.” Iwaizumi groans, tugging at his spiky hair in frustration. “I thought I had a little longer, but then Hinata had to go and run his mouth—“

“Stop blaming Hinata!” Hanamaki shouts. Then he reconsiders. “Okay, well, he isn’t off the hook either, but come on! You made your own decisions, and they landed you here. I’ve been telling you for weeks to own up to your shit.”

“Just drop it already,” Iwaizumi says. “I get it, I fucked up, and there’s nothing you can say to me that’ll make me feel worse than I already do.”

Hanamaki opens his mouth to form a response, but yet another voice pipes up and interrupts before he can speak.

“Excuse me, are you Iwaizumi Hajime, by any chance?”

Iwaizumi tenses, every fiber of his being screaming at him to get up and get out as soon as possible, before he takes his anger out on some innocent kid who doesn’t deserve to be pulled into his problems.

“Iwaizumi Hajime?” the voice asks again.

Slowly, Iwaizumi turns around. In front of him stands a short blonde girl he doesn’t recognize, looking apologetic. He plasters a smile onto his face, but if the way the girl’s concerned expression morphs into a faintly terrified one is any indication, it isn’t a convincing one. “I’m Iwaizumi,” he says gruffly. “How can I help you?” Hanamaki’s eyes sear into his back, a burning reminder of their unfinished business, and he’s so exhausted of everything.

“Uh—um,” the girl stammers. “I-Iwaizumi-san. I’m Yachi Hitoka, and… on behalf of the baking club, I would like to deliver this to you.” She bows her head, shoving a slim rectangular box at him.

With a frown, Iwaizumi takes it. The baking club… he thinks back. They were the ones delivering secret admirer chocolate, right? But who could possibly want to give Iwaizumi—


Oh, fuck.

Dizzy, Iwaizumi nods his head in vague thanks, and Yachi scampers off. When she’s gone, he turns the chocolates over in his hands. The packaging is sleek and elegant, a single red ribbon wrapped diagonally around the black box and tied in a bow.

Best to get it over with, he decides. He’s not proud of it, but his hands shake as he slides off the top cover. A sheet of paper, folded in half one time, flutters out onto the dirt, and his heart sinks when he bends down to pick it up.

Oikawa’s handwriting is neat, slanted forward just so, messy enough to be endearing but not enough to be illegible. Iwaizumi wonders if he’ll ever stop learning all these new details about Oikawa, or if he’s doomed to spend the rest of his life falling harder and harder for someone now impossibly out of reach.




Dear Iwa-chan, it reads.

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, it means that I, the great Oikawa-san, have deemed you fit to be my boyfriend.

That’s right: even though you were a big meanie at first, you’ve proven that you are, in fact, worthy of the immense privilege of dating me. Responsibilities of the position include buying me milk bread at least once a week, telling me I’m pretty, and bragging to everyone you know about what a catch I am.

But jokes aside, Iwa-chan, I really like you, and I’m really happy that you decided to give me a chance. Hinata likes you, and so do Kuroo and Bokuto, and I think I like the person I am when I’m around you. I know we don’t have long until graduation, and maybe the timing is all wrong, but please say we can see where this thing goes. Together.

So what are you waiting for? Ask me out already!!

- Oikawa




Iwaizumi doesn’t realize he’s crying until a teardrop falls on the paper, smudging the ink where it lands. He swipes at the water with his thumb, which only serves to smear the writing further, before wiping his eyes against the back of his wrist instead.

Hanamaki inhales sharply, and then a gentle hand comes to rest on Iwaizumi’s shoulder. “Iwaizumi?” he asks. His voice is soft, a voice typically reserved for wounded animals and small children.

Too drained to fight, Iwaizumi shrugs him off. “Leave me alone,” he says.

Hanamaki hesitates, apparently uncertain whether that’s the best idea with Iwaizumi in the state he’s in. Refolding the letter and slipping it into his back pocket, Iwaizumi adds, “Please. I need to be by myself.”

At last, Hanamaki acquiesces. Iwaizumi gives it a full minute after he leaves, counting the seconds down in his head, and then he pops the lid of the box open again. The shapes of most of the chocolates are generic, hearts and squares and swirly circles, but there are a few that Oikawa must have had custom made. He sees a couple of baseballs and one round lump that he assumes is supposed to be a motorcycle helmet.

That’s the one Iwaizumi settles on. He plucks it out of its niche and places it on his tongue. It’s rich and dark, coating his tongue and the hollows of his cheeks with bitterness.

He closes his eyes and lets it melt.






The faucet doesn’t turn off all the way. Iwaizumi twists both knobs to their highest settings, watches as the cascade of water splashes out of the sink and onto the marble countertop. Then he turns them in the opposite direction to shut them, presses his palms against the ridges of the glass until they start to sting. But it’s no use; droplets continue to leak out of the nozzle at uneven intervals, swelling until they’re too heavy to hang onto the metal, and then plunking straight down into the drain.


Iwaizumi stares at it. As annoying as it is, it’s not enough to distract him from memories of the cold resignation Oikawa’s face when he learned the truth. The numb silence as Iwaizumi stumbled over his words to explain, and the tight press of his lips together when he finally walked away.

It’s funny: a few weeks ago, Iwaizumi would have given anything to fast forward to graduation and leave, and now he would give anything to go back in time. Back to before he agreed to this stupid charade, or to before he turned Oikawa down. Better yet, back to their chemistry lab first year when he could have stopped himself from making assumptions in the first place.

The door squeaks on its rusty hinges as it’s pushed open. Iwaizumi doesn’t bother to look up. He keeps his head down, and another drop of water forms and falls. Plink, plonk.


Iwaizumi lets his eyes fall shut, exhales a long breath through his nose. “Kageyama,” he says. “Why are you here?”

“Hanamaki chewed me out,” the younger boy says. “Oikawa-san probably doesn’t want anything to do with me, either. He already didn’t like me to begin with. He even ignored Hinata.”

“I don’t blame him,” Iwaizumi says. He opens his eyes, and they immediately land on Kageyama’s reflection in the mirror. He’s standing a few feet behind Iwaizumi, staring down at the ground and absently smoothing his thumbs over the rest of his fingers.

“I thought… both of us thought you already told him. That’s the only reason Hinata said it. He didn’t mean to.”

Even now, Iwaizumi marvels, Kageyama’s first instinct is to defend Hinata. “It’s fine,” he says. “I’m not mad at him.”

“And… we should never have asked you to date him,” Kageyama admits. “It wasn’t fair.”

Iwaizumi figures it’s as much of an apology as Kageyama is capable of giving, but the thought brings him little comfort. “It was my fault more than anyone’s,” he says. “I threw away something I care about because I was too scared to tell the truth. God, he deserved—deserves—so much better.”

Kageyama hums. “Do you think he would have forgiven you if you told him earlier?”

“Maybe.” Iwaizumi grimaces. “Who knows. It was always going to be a mess, wasn’t it?”


“What are you going to do now?” Kageyama asks.

“What can I do?” Iwaizumi lifts a shoulder and drops it in a helpless shrug. “Give him space, go to college, and try to date new people even though I don’t want anyone else. I don’t fucking know.”

A crease forms on Kageyama’s forehead. “You’re not going to try to get him back? At all?”

Iwaizumi barks out a scathing laugh and finally turns around to face Kageyama. “Hell no. All I’ve ever done is hurt him.”

The crease deepens. “That’s not true.”

“Yeah, it is. You really think the cutesy dates and flirting and what-the-fuck-ever make up for the fact that I lied to him for weeks? He’s better off without me.” Shaking his head, Iwaizumi grips the edge of the sink to either side of him and leans back against it. “Kuroo told me that Oikawa gives too many second chances, and he’s right. I’m not going to go to him and ask for another one when I can’t promise I won’t screw it up again.”

“I see,” Kageyama says. There’s disapproval in his voice.

Iwaizumi huffs another humorless laugh. “Don’t worry, I’ll get over it. Everyone’s gotta get their heart broken at least once, right?”

Kageyama blinks at him. “Is it?” he asks. “Broken? I didn’t think you felt that strongly.”

Iwaizumi pauses to consider that. “I think,” he says, “that if we met in some different way, in a different life, he could have been it for me.” He pauses. “I think that’s the sappiest thing I’ve ever said.”

“Oh,” Kageyama intones.

“Yeah, ‘oh,’ ” Iwaizumi repeats.

They lapse into silence, and Kageyama looks troubled for several seconds before he breaks it. “I’m going to go find Hinata,” he says. “Feel better, Iwaizumi-san.”

“Sure,” Iwaizumi says, though he doubts he will. Kageyama gives him a jerky nod, turns, and pulls the door open with too much force on his way out. Iwaizumi watches as the heel of his sneaker disappears, then as the heavy door slides shut with a slow thud.

Turning back to the sink, he washes and dries his hands, ignoring the faint tremors that run through them. Then, reaching into his back pocket, he pulls out Oikawa’s letter and the accompanying package of chocolates.

He stares at the kanji until they no longer look like words. By the time he snaps out of it and folds the note back up, he has every word memorized. Congratulations

I, the great Oikawa-san

Worthy of the immense privilege

Iwaizumi doesn’t feel worthy of anything. He considers tossing the note in the trash, but the thought is fleeting and passes as quickly as it came. Oikawa may never want to speak to him again, and the note may be more painful than heartwarming to read in the context of all his mistakes, but he can’t bring himself to throw away the last good memory he has of Oikawa. A souvenir from the last moment he was blameless in Oikawa’s eyes.

So the note goes back in his pocket, and Iwaizumi fishes his cell phone out of his other one.

He dials, it rings three times, and then she picks up. “Mom?” Iwaizumi says.

“Hajime? What do you need?”

“Can you come pick me up?”

There’s a small shuffling sound on the other end, and Iwaizumi imagines his mother stacking and restacking the files on her desk. “Didn’t you drive today?”

“I… don’t think I can do that right now,” Iwaizumi admits.

His mom must pick up on how subdued he sounds, because she softens. “Leave the motorcycle, then. We can get it tomorrow.” She says: “I’ll be right there.

Iwaizumi breathes out a word of thanks and hangs up. He slumps, exhaustion coiling into him down to his bones, and tries to hold off on breaking down until he gets home.