It’s 3:00pm when Iwaizumi gets home from his daily workout at the gym. He’s all about routines, though it’s entirely pointless considering he can rarely stick to them. He still tries though. Sixteen years and he still makes attempts for routine.
When he was seventeen years old, he’d met a girl at a party just after graduating from high school. Nice girl; very pretty with a good head on her shoulders. But they’d drank more than they probably should have and things went further than they had both intended in a single night and two months later, Iwaizumi was informed that he would be a father. That was big news for a seventeen year old to take in. He’d stuck with her though, learned everything he could, told her that he’d do whatever it took to make this work. Her name was Hanamiya Akemi and like him, she was seventeen years old and had just graduated. She intended to go to college, had already passed her admissions test and she voiced that she didn’t know how she could follow her dreams with a baby to raise. When she broke down, Iwaizumi held her as she cried before she asked to be alone. The next day Akemi told him that she could not keep their child--their son, he’d learned--and that she would be giving him up for adoption so that she could live her life the way she’d intended.
Iwaizumi let the news sink in and had gone home and told his mother and father, who in the beginning were quite disappointed with him, but had grown to anticipate a grandchild to love. He told them the news, Akemi’s intentions, surprised to do so with damp eyes and a lump in his throat. That was probably what spurred his parents into action as they went to speak with Akemi and her parents, offered to take their grandson off the ambitious girl’s hands and would raise him themselves until their Hajime was able to do so on his own.
At age twenty three, Iwaizumi had finally saved enough money to move out of his parents home with his son--now six years old. He worked hard daily, sometimes late into the night. On those nights, his parents would pick his son up from school, help him with his schoolwork, and put him to bed if Iwaizumi wasn’t home in time to do so. And when Iwaizumi would return from work most nights, he’d still come home to his son smiling sleepily--always so happy to see his father--and begging for a bedtime story.
“Please otou-san, just one!” He’d beg. Iwaizumi smiles fondly at the memory before rolling his eyes.
That was ten years ago. These days he could hardly get the answer to what his son--now sixteen years old--wanted for dinner, let alone a smile and a request for bedtime stories. As Iwaizumi toes out of his sneakers at the door of his home, he hears faint voices coming from the living area down the hall. He knows exactly who it is, the same kids that have been occupying his space for the last three years of his life. He quietly walks down the hall as not to disturb them.
Of course he’s not eavesdropping.
“Are you going to tell your dad?” A slightly high-pitched voice asks, a teenage boy’s.
“You should absolutely tell him. Iwaizumi-san seems very understanding. He can be scary sometimes but he loves you. I don’t think he’d be mad.” This voice is female and just as familiar as the first. He waits a moment for his son’s response, the only one left in the room.
“I don’t know if I’ll tell him--” there’s a whine from the first boy. “--shut up, dumbass and let me finish. I don’t know if I’m ready to tell him. I just need time. This isn’t easy for me.”
Guilt squeezes tight in Iwaizumi’s chest. It’s times like this when he wonders if he was selfish in wanting to raise him on his own, with no mother around to help in situations that weren’t easy to bring to a father. The teenagers go quiet like they’re reflecting on what was just said and Iwaizumi senses this is a good time to walk in. A decent enough amount of time has passed that he can pretend like he heard nothing.
“Tobio--” Iwazumi starts.
“SORRY FOR THE INTRUSION!”
Iwaizumi resists the urge to drag a hand down in his face in annoyance. For three years, Hinata Shouyou and Yachi Hitoka have made his home their home. He’s never once minded, never will, but every time they come over they yell their apologies in unison. It’s manners, Iwaizumi knows, but that doesn’t make it drive him any less crazy. He can tell it drives his son just as mental when he takes Hinata by the head, squeezing it and making him sit back down with a growl.
“Don’t mind,” Iwaizumi says--always says. He looks back at his son.
Iwaizumi Tobio is a spitting image of his mother and a daily reminder that Iwaizumi has a reason to live, a reason to work as hard as he does. Like his father, he loves volleyball; almost eats, sleeps, and breathes it. Iwaizumi can admit that it’s partially his fault.
“You three are home early,” he says. “Did you not have volleyball practice?”
The three of them are second years at Karasuno High School where Tobio and Hinata-kun are in the volleyball club and Yachi-kun serves as their manager.
“Coach Ukai cancelled practice because his grandfather is sick,” Hinata interjects before Tobio can answer. Iwaizumi has to try very hard not to smirk at the look his son is giving the redhead at being spoken over. “Normally we stick around and practice alone but Yachi said we should come home and do homework, bleghhh.”
Iwaizumi raises his eyebrows at Hinata and then smiles at Yachi.
“Well, it’s a good thing she befriended you two knuckleheads in junior high or you’d never have the grades to play.” He winks at her when Tobio and Hinata splutter indignantly, earning a giggle and a light blush in return.
“I have practice in an hour and it might run late tonight, Tobio. So make sure you clean up after Hinata-kun and you two get Yachi-kun home at a decent time.”
Tobio nods, giving his assent and when Iwaizumi leaves to head for his room, the three teens’ animated whispers return immediately.
Iwaizumi coaches the boys volleyball club at Tohoku University. When he first started five years ago, the team was awful. They’d needed major work and could rarely get any practice games because the school had next to zero connections. Before Iwaizumi had stepped in, the team had never made it past the first round of preliminaries. After a year, he had gotten them to round two. And by his third year as their coach, he’d taken them all the way to semi-finals. Iwaizumi never had to think about it in high school when he played as a wing spiker and ace to his team, but as an adult now making a living from it, he learns that the further he takes the team, the higher his pay. But more importantly, the higher they go, the happier his players are. A lot of them want to go professional with their volleyball careers and Iwaizumi knows that won’t be an easy feat without proper training and dedication. Volleyball wasn’t like baseball and basketball and scores of other sports. There wasn’t a league for it. You could play in grade school and you could play in college, but the next step from there was the National team; one team that represents all of Japan. It’s unrealistic to think that just anyone and everyone could make it.
He showers and dresses for practice, grabbing a quick bite to eat before he’s heading out the door again.
“Don’t forget, Tobio. Get Yachi-kun home at a decent time! Hinata-kun, don’t make a mess!”
He hears Hinata’s “Yes, sir!” more prominently than he hears Tobio’s mumbled “Yes, otou-san.”
Tohoku’s practice goes on for an hour of conditioning before Iwaizumi lets his players practice with volleyballs. Core strength and proper stamina are key fundamentals to winning games with energy to spare when it’s all over. He decides afterwards to let them have a practice game today, letting the captain and vice captain pick two teams from their peers.
When they’re all set up and ready, Iwaizumi stands to the side, watching both teams and mentally picking out the things he sees that need improvement.
Iwaizumi knows he’s hard on his players but he also knows that he has to be. Since most of them intend to play on a national level and Iwaizumi knows there’s only so many spots open every year, even with reserves, he drills them hard and makes them practice until they’re near passing out sometimes. He scowls as he watches his ace, Yuki Junpei, miss an open opportunity for a quick in favor of a kill before blowing his whistling, gaining the attention of everyone in the gym.
“What the hell was that, Yuki?” He asks, all team members’ eyes flying to their ace. “Answer this honestly; do you truly think you’re going to play for Japan if you don’t know how to assess your situation and go for the better scoring option? Yeah, you got lucky this time because Atsushi was weak in his blocking--” Iwaizumi takes this time to glare at his 200cm middle blocker, Sakurai Atsushi, before continuing. “But if this had been a game against Sendai, or even Miyagi, those blockers would have sent that spike right to the ground. Do better. Be better!”
He keeps his eyes firm on Yuki and the younger man nods once before setting up for the next serve. His players know that he never means to belittle or embarrass them. He’s only ever trying to better them, and Iwaizumi thinks he does a pretty decent job of it. He’s been doing this long enough to know if he’s taking it too far; he hasn’t yet. He nods in satisfaction as a new look of determination settles over Yuki’s face.
“You’re awfully hard on them, aren’t you? Especially on your ace,” comes a silky voice from just behind him. When had someone entered the gym? How hadn’t he heard them? He turns around to see who’s interrupting his practicing and telling him how to coach, especially in such a sickeningly sweet voice. He’s annoyed to find that the smile is just as sickening. “If my coach had ever spoken to me in that tone I’m sure I’d have shown him how unacceptable it was.”
Iwaizumi’s eyes deadpan on the man standing before him. He’s got a good two inches on Iwaizumi with brown curls littering around an unnaturally pretty face. His face is smooth with sharp edges that surround two too bright eyes, both eerily piercing. He’s seen this face many times on his TV screen as well as in the paper. He’s heard Hinata-kun gripe on and on in his living room about this man time and time again. For a moment he thinks he’s seeing things--obviously mistaken but he can hear practice coming to a halt behind him as his players gather around, whispering and chattering among each other asking if it’s really him. And then, with the urge to kick the man growing stronger in his heart, Iwazumi knows for sure.
The man standing before him is none other than the National Team of Japan’s first string setter, Oikawa Tooru.