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The Divine Right of Kings

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Oikawa isn’t surprised when his phone starts buzzing insistently against the pillow next to his head. He’s expecting it, really.

One.

He lets his eyes slip closed and they sting from being held open so long. He feels them grow heavy almost immediately and remembers why he was holding off from blinking for so long. It’s a fight to keep himself awake.

Two.

He turns his head. The clock reads two-oh-two and he feels as though he’s lived and died every second since four that afternoon.

Three.

The phone keeps ringing.

Four.

It stops after six tones, Oikawa knows. He’s let it ring out enough times in the past.

Five.

He blindly reaches up and drags his finger across the screen, potluck for answer or decline. The buzzing stops. He wonders blandly if it will start up again soon. He doesn’t want to turn to see. Even a whisper is loud against the silence of his bedroom.

“Iwa?”

His bedroom isn’t silent, really, but Iwaizumi’s might as well be for the starkness of his response. 

Oikawa’s ceiling fan churns the stagnant air, caught in a mid-spring heat wave. There are crickets outside his window singing for summer to come quicker. Quieter there is the whir of his computer, asleep as he should be; asleep as the boy one house over should be. Oikawa clears his throat, makes a sound. Maybe he won’t be scared to speak normally that way. His voice is still a whisper when he tries again. “Are you there?”

“Oikawa, I-” 

Iwaizumi’s voice is quiet and not only because Oikawa’s ear isn’t pressed against the tiny speaker. He bites his trembling lip; punishment for treason.

“I can’t sleep.”

Oikawa can see his scowl. He can see the frustration in Iwaizumi’s eyes, and the weakness too. The fragility. “You woke me,” he lies, making his voice scratchy and tired.

The sad huff of air that might be a sigh or might be a laugh is enough to make something snap in Oikawa’s chest. “Liar.”

“Am not,” he returns. There’s no heat to his words, no weight. They’re empty. He’s empty.

Silence stretches across the line and Oikawa wonders if Iwaizumi can hear the way his breath has become short.

The green numbers on the clock flicker. Two-oh-three.

“Sorry I woke you.”

“You didn’t.”

“I know.” His voice is breaking again. He’s crying again. He’s feeling it. Again. He’s feeling what they lost.

A match, yes. Their last match. They were always going to lose their last match, Oikawa tries to reason. It’s not as though they were going to advance to nationals and win.

Oh, but if only they’d been afforded that chance.

They had, Oikawa knows. They’d had the chance to win. They hadn’t taken it, though. They’d lost.

He hadn’t been envious of Iwaizumi on the court, immediately after. He wasn’t envious of Iwaizumi until he realised it should have sunk in. He wasn’t envious of Iwaizumi until he realised he should be.

How come he gets to cry?

“Oikawa?”

“Don’t,” he says and he wishes his voice could break. “I’m fine,” he says and the worst part is that he thinks it might be true. The worst part is that it is true.

“You were awake,” he says like it’s all the proof he needs.

“I’m fine,” Oikawa breaths. “I wish I wasn’t.”

“Why?” Iwaizumi asks and Oikawa would have laughed if there hadn’t been a lump lodged so tightly in his throat.

“Because I shouldn’t be,” he says hoarsely. “I don’t want to be.”

“You don’t have to be, dumbass.” Oikawa wishes he could ignore how hoarse Iwaizumi’s voice is. He wishes he could hear only the insult and not see how empty it is, how weakly it’s spoken.

“I’m,” he chokes out, wondering why it’s happening now. “I’m the captain, I can’t-”

“You’re not the captain anymore.”

You’re not the captain anymore.

Oikawa’s breath shudders out and his chest constricts around his lungs.

You’re not the captain anymore.

“I’m-”

You’re not the captain anymore.

“There’s still-”

You’re not the captain anymore.

“Tomorrow we-”

“We have the day off, remember? You scheduled it, idiot.”

But what he means, what he really means-

You’re not the captain anymore.

You were, once upon a time.

You were, until four o’clock yesterday afternoon.

“I have to… There’s things I still need to do. There’s still - I still have some work.”

“If you go to the match tomorrow…”

You’re not the captain anymore.

“…I’m going to hit you.” 

But why does he sound so weak?

Oikawa forces out a laugh but it sounds far too much like a sob. His eyes sting. He’s been staring, again, keeping them open again. He’s refusing to blink. He’s refusing to sleep.

Oikawa doesn’t say he isn’t going and Iwaizumi doesn’t repeat himself. Oikawa tries to breath quietly into the silence but he can’t seem to. He imagines Iwaizumi laying on his bed, phone wedged between his cheek and the pillow. He imagines his strong posture crumbling and it hurts.

The hiccup that wrenches its way out of his throat isn’t anything less than a sob, straight and ugly. He presses the crook of his elbow over his eyes and wonders why it’s happening now.

“I can’t,” he chokes out, voice hiding a high-pitched whine. “I’m meant to be-”

“Shut up.”

“But I’m-”

“I, I, I,” Iwaizumi bites out, voice thick. It takes a moment for Oikawa to realise that Iwaizumi is angry with him. That he’s mad. “Why does it always have to be about you?”

“Because I’m-”

“You’re not though. Not anymore. So what’s the point?”

You’re not the captain anymore.

Another sob pulls from his chest, followed by two more; aftershocks. It’s not about how he failed.

“It’s not about how you think you wasted your chance.”

It’s about how he was allowed to break. He’s allowed to crumple and lie down and cryfor a while because, really, he’s earned it.

“It’s a really asshole thing, to think you’re the reason we didn’t win.”

“Are you trying to comfort me, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa tries to taunt. The sentiment doesn’t really translate when the strength in his voice wavers and it ends up sounding like a plead.

“Fuck off.”

He hopes Iwaizumi knows to interpret the barrage of sobs as laughter but he knows he shouldn’t doubt Iwaizumi. He’s more an expert on Oikawa than Oikawa is and maybe they would always pretend otherwise but it really is nice to not have to be in control of everything.

Or of anything, really.

He sniffs loudly and rubs his sweater sleeve over his face, trying to clear away the tears and snot.

“You’re such a gross crier, Tooru; I can hear your snotty nose from here.”

“I hate you,” he whines, hiccupping on the hate because they both know it’s a lie as gross as Oikawa’s crying. They also both knew that what he means is the exact opposite.

“Me too.”

They both know.

“I’m gonna hang up on you, Iwa-chan,” he complains and sniffs again. There are no tissues near his bed; he’ll have to wash his shirt in the morning.

“Not if I do it first, Assikawa.”

“Why do you hate me?” he demands petulantly. They both know what it means.

“Because you’re a snotty little brat and your face goes gross and red when you cry.”

“Does not,” he refutes and sniffs again despite his insistence.

“Why do you hate me?” he asks back, irritated.

Oikawa pauses. They both know what it means. “Because,” he says and doesn’t know what to say next. He has nothing to back it up with.

“Just because?” Iwaizumi snorts. “That’s dumb.”

It’s not like there aren’t any reasons. “There are too many to choose from,” Oikawa defends.

They both know what it means.

“What makes you think you can just say whatever you want and get away with it, smartass?”

“The divine right of kings,” Oikawa says. His arm has found its way back over his eyes and the enforced darkness makes his body lethargic.

“No such thing,” Iwaizumi snaps.

“Open a book, Iwa-chan.”

“Fuck off,” he says again.

Oikawa hums tired acknowledgement at the phone followed by a yawn he doesn’t bother covering. “Why did you call so late?” he complains weakly.

“Because I knew you’d be freaking out over dumb shit and not sleeping.”

“Like you weren’t,” he snaps but there was no reply. Oikawa rolls his eyes under his lids. “Well I’m done freaking out now,” he huffs. “Let me go to sleep.”

“I’m not stopping you.”

Oikawa wants to roll his eyes again. He wants to sigh. He doesn’t do either. He wants to comment on how sweet it is, for Iwaizumi to be looking out for him. He wants to comment on how lame it is that Iwaizumi wants to hear with his own ears the moment Oikawa drops off to sleep. He chooses not to do either of those too. He doesn’t threaten to hang up and he doesn’t tell Iwaizumi to.

Without opening his eyes he lets his head turn to the side until his mouth is pressed against the cool glass of his phone, almost like a kiss. “Sweet dreams, Iwa-chan,” he sing-songs quietly.

“Whatever,” he hears, muttered right against his ear.

He feels himself drifting off and lets it happen.

It was Iwaizumi’s phone bill anyway.