T O R N

Fate can change in a second.

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1. T O R N

 

Hajime isn't expecting it. 

The car wheels screech like they can't hit the right note, and a woman cries out above the cacophony. It's so close, Hajime thinks for a second that it's him who has been hit- but the scream is higher, harsher, and the body that smacks against the tarmac isn't his. 


Hajime blinks, takes a step back.

The car's gone, not even stopping to survey the damage. 

The world moves on, but the body's still lying there.

It's a boy. His hair is the same golden-brown as the chariot that drags the sun, and Hajime figures it must have taken the boy at least an hour to style this morning- not that he'd know. Funny. All that time spent for nothing. The hair is smeared and smattered with blood, now.

Hajime blinks, one more time.

In the middle of the road, the boy's slim hand twitches, pale as bone against the hollow of the tarmac. Maybe this is why Hajime feels his legs scramble forwards, feels the cry wrench from the back of his throat. Maybe this is why Hajime ends up on the floor beside the boy, gravel carving its song into his knees. 

The boy's breathing is scratchy like it's rubbing against sandpaper, but his eyes flutter open as Hajime fumbles for his phone. He needs to call an ambulance because this boy is dying this boy is dying this boy is dying-

"Dropping to your knees? My, I know I'm pretty, but there's no need to be so dramatic about it," says the boy, weakly coughing. His lip is split, blood trailing over his chin, and he can't seem to keep his eyes open. The skin across his cheek bone is slashed and puckered- but Hajime can't help but notice a strange, deathly beauty to it all. It takes guts, after all, to say something so self-confident when looking like this.

The boy splutters, body convulsing, and Hajime realises that he's staring. He turns hurriedly back to his phone, punching in the number for the emergency services. "There's a body..." he gasps down the line, and it seems like he's in almost as much pain as the boy lying crumpled on the floor. "There's a boy, and a car hit him, and-"

"Okay, take a deep breath," replies the operator. "Can you give us the street name? Any medical information?" 

Hajime nods stupidly, before speaking. "We're in Miyagi Prefecture, on the corner of..." He strains to read the street sign; his vision has never been the best. "Agyuki Street. I... I think he's-"

The boy on the tarmac groans, his eyes rolling back into his head. He's rocking slightly, clutching at his knee- and Hajime panics, spluttering out the words more quickly now. "Um, he's- his knee looks twisted-probably broken- and there's blood, lots of blood, blood-"

"Okay, okay, the ambulance is on its way now. Can you stay with him until it arrives?"

Hajime glances at the boy, then down at his watch. He's got an interview for Tohoku University in twenty minutes, but he doesn't know how to leave this boy shattered on the side walk. He'll still be able to make it, right? It's not like Tohoku's all that far from here.

"Yes," Hajime says, slowly. "I can stay with him." He breaks off the call, clumsily sliding his phone back into his pocket. 

"My name's Oikawa Tooru," mumbles the boy on the tarmac blearily, as if it will help. He smiles dazedly at Hajime. "You've probably heard of-"

He breaks off, gasping for air. All of a sudden he's wildly awake- sweat running over his forehead like music on a stave, and his hands are shaking as he clutches at his leg. Hajime doesn't know what to do - he doesn't know what to do - but he leans forwards, steadying Oikawa's hands with his own. 

He doesn't know what to say- what is there to say, in this kind of situation? His chest constricts, heart thumping in harmony to Oikawa's ragged breaths. When he finally speaks, his voice is firmer than it feels. "I'm Iwaizumi. I, er- I've called an ambulance. For you. The ambulance is coming." 

Hajime isn't sure, but it seems like Oikawa's rolling his eyes. "Iwa-chan," he coughs. "My saviour." 

The familiar tone takes Hajime by surprise, but his comment is cut off by the blaring chorus of the ambulance's siren. "My, Iwa-chan," says Oikawa, through heaving breaths. "I didn't know you liked me so much. Is that wedding bells I hea-" 

He breaks off, a scream choking him more effectively than any noose. There are tears glistening on his cheeks like stars, his eyes creased shut. 

"You're not okay," whispers Hajime, "oh my god, oh my god- you're not okay, this isn't okay, this-"

Oikawa pries his eyes open, teeth clamped together. His skin is green, sickly pale. "Stop... Stop worrying, Iwa-chan." His grip around Hajime's hand tightens, his palm slick with sweat. "What are you, my mom?" 

Hajime's about to reply when he hears slamming doors, a pair of paramedics sprinting towards them. "Move aside, please," they tell him- but when he tries to jolt backwards, Oikawa won't let go of his hand, his grip tightening. The paramedics - one dark haired and sturdy-looking, the other slighter, with fine silver hair - seem unfazed. They work around Hajime efficiently, unloading equipment from the ambulance and checking Oikawa isn't dead. 

Which he isn't. Yet. 

Hajime realises that their hands are still folded into one another, like the notes of a chord, mixing and swirling. They stay like that - like little children, hand in hand - as Oikawa is loaded onto the ambulance. 

Hajime remains with him. How could he not? The paramedics don't seem to mind. Hajime wonders if maybe they think that he and Oikawa are... 

He lets the thought trail off wistfully. 

Inside the ambulance he perches at the edge of the only passenger seat, the air clammy and sticking to his skin. It's surprisingly well-lit, in here, and Hajime finds his eyes drawn to the rows of medical instruments cluttering the walls. They're lined up in rows, like the broken lives they failed to fix. 

Hajime glances to the side, and Oikawa's staring at him. It's hard to meet his gaze.

He can't quite believe that this is happening. A small part of him is tempted to pinch himself, but the wheezing pant of Oikawa's breathing is too real, too distinct against the cold thrum of the ambulance engine. He's struggling, Hajime can tell. A distorted groan scrambles out Oikawa's lips, and Hajime leans forward on instinct. Oikawa's trying to speak, he realises. 

Oikawa's trying to tell him something.

The paramedics notice too, moving calmly to quieten him down. "Don't exert yourself, okay?" says the silver-haired man. Hajime sees that his badge reads 'Sugawara'. "We're taking you to hospital- you'll be there soon, alright?"

For a moment, Oikawa pauses- and then suddenly, he's sobbing. The tears are condensing under his oxygen mask, spattering the surface like scratches, or mistakes. His whole body is wreaked with a sort of unknowable pain, and as Sugawara attempts to calm him, Hajime reads the words on Oikawa's lips.

"The team," he says, but without any sound. "The team need me, they need me, they-" And then Hajime doesn't understand any more: doesn't understand anything but the immovable sorrow that drapes across Oikawa's back like a shroud. 

Hajime can't do anything but hold his hand. 

Hajime realises that he doesn't even know this guy- he doesn't know anything about him, he doesn't know who he is, really, except for his name. How did they end up here, together? It's overwhelming, but Hajime feels like the two of them understand each other like musicians in a duet. 

They've pulled up at the hospital, all of a sudden, and it seems like it's been centuries since he was walking along the road and had never heard of a boy called Oikawa Tooru. 

Hajime doesn't know why, but he lets himself be ushered into the waiting room. It's only as he's sitting down, opposite a woman with sleek dark hair and glasses, that he remembers. The interview. University. Tohoku. 

But he's here. Here, instead, waiting for Oikawa.

Hajime isn't sure how he feels about this.

One of the paramedics from before- the broader, dark-haired man; Hajime sees that his name-tag reads 'Daichi' - comes and sits beside him. "Oikawa's being seen to now. He'll be okay, we think," says Daichi kindly. "Hopefully no major internal injuries, though our doctors aren't sure how serious the injury to his knee is yet." He smiles sympathetically. "Sorry to bring this up, but were you a witness to the accident? You might have to talk with the police." 

Hajime clears his throat, his voice stiff with shock that he's still feeling now. "Yes. I mean... It was- It was a hit and run. Oikawa... Um, he..."

"It's okay, it's okay," Daichi comforts him, putting a firm hand on Hajime's shoulder. "Have you and Oikawa been together for a long time?"

Hajime blinks. "Sorry?"

"Have you been going out with Oikawa long? You two seem so... So connected, I guess. Like you're really on each other's level. And the way he looked at you..." He trails off, nodding his head. "You guys obviously have something very special."

Maybe it's just Hajime's imagination, but Daichi's gaze trails across longingly to where Sugawara is standing at the reception desk. 

That's when Hajime realises the full extent of what Daichi has just said to him. He splutters, his face flushing crimson. "I- Er- I'm sorry, we- Oikawa and I aren't... Um, we aren't- I don't even know him. I just saw him get, you know, hit, and... Yeah. He's not my..." He stutters over the word. "B-boyfriend." 

Daichi's mouth parts slightly in surprise. "Oh!" He has the grace to laugh a little, embarrassed. "Oh, god, sorry- I'm so stupid - god. I just assumed."

"Oh, well, we're not. So."

"He just... I think it was the way you guys looked at each other. You just kind of reminded me of when we're helping couples- oh, god, I'll shut up now." He smiles wryly. "Sorry."

Hajime coughs awkwardly. "It's fine." 

But it's not. 

Because Daichi's words are forcing Hajime back to that time on the road- of Oikawa's bloodied smile and hair in his eyes. Of that stupid first chat-up line that obviously came through the haze of pain and fear of dying; of being called 'Iwa-chan'- 'chan', for the first time in his life! Hajime flexes his hand, now, and he can still feel the ghost of Oikawa's fingers entwined through his own. 

Torn. That's how Hajime feels- like his life has been torn in two with the arrival of this stupid, gorgeous, dying boy. 

Oikawa Tooru.

                              ★彡☆彡★

Months ago, maybe. Hajime remembers walking with Makki and Mattsun home from school. They're his best friends but he doesn't know why- all the two of them seem to do is make stupid jokes that aren't even funny. Generally, about sex. Or Hajime. 

Today, it's looking to be the latter.

"Hey, Iwaizumi," says Makki, and Hajime braces himself for the hit. "Did you see that program about guys who've never had girlfriends the other gay- sorry, I meant
day."

Hajime rolls his eyes, but inside he feels his chest tightening. He doesn't really think he's gay- but then again, has he ever thought about it? He's had confessions from girls, sure- but no one ever really expects him to say yes, and he never has. 

He doesn't say anything. 

"Hey," says Mattsun, when it looks like Hajime isn't going to take the bait. "I've not seen that shirt before, Iwaizumi. Did you find it while you were stuck in the closet?" 

"That doesn't even
work, Mattsun," Makki drawls, and Hajime wonders if he's finally going to let off. "Iwaizumi is still in the closet." 

Apparently, Makki doesn't even know what 'let off' means. Hajime sighs heavily, blowing out air through his nose. "For fuck's sake, Makki," he mutters.

Makki squawks in apparent triumph. "Didn't deny it though, did you?" He bumps into Hajime, purposely knocking him to one side. "Oops. Sorry, no-hetero."

Hajime counts to ten, taking bets on how long it'll be before he punches someone. "I swear to god," he growls, "if you guys don't shut up I'll... I'll..."

Makki laughs. "What're you going to do, Iwaizumi? Slam me up against a wall?" 

"Ooh," murmurs Mattsun. "
Kinky. But I suppose you need a boyfriend first." 

"I don't want a boyfriend," says Hajime, struggling to keep his tone calm. Of course, he's never wanted a girlfriend, either. 

"Don't give me that," says Mattsun. "I see the way you look at Kageyama." He high-fives Makki, and Hajime shakes his head at the sky. 

"Why do I even bother?" 

Makki grins, tossing his hair. "Because you love us."

But Hajime doesn't. Hajime doesn't love anyone. 

Mattsun turns, tutting. "I don't know. Maybe you'll find someone at uni, I guess."


                                 ★彡☆彡★

The thought of uni snaps Hajime out of his reverie- because, shit. University. He's got an interview right about- he checks his watch, already panicking. Now. His interview is now- but he's here, and he can't leave, not when he doesn't even know whether Oikawa's really okay or not. Surely the university will understand, right? 

He turns to Daichi, chewing on his lip. "Um, Daichi-san?"

"Hmm?"

"I- er- I've kind of got this university interview. Like- like, now. I don't want to leave Oikawa here without checking that he's okay, but the interview is really important- and I'm already missing it, being here- and-"

"Well," says Daichi, slowly. "It sounds like you might not make it- but if you wanted, we can get written proof that you're here, and that's why you missed it? That would be okay, right?"

Hajime nods. "I think so. Thanks," he adds, almost as an afterthought. He's still thinking about Oikawa. 

They're interrupted by Sugawara approaching them. "The doctors have finished checking Oikawa-san over. He needs surgery but-" A small smile flits across his face like it's trying to take flight. "He's refusing to go on without seeing you first." 

Hajime's mouth trips slightly over his reply. "O-oh." And then suddenly his legs are moving in the direction of Oikawa's ward and now he's not thinking about Tohoku and interviews and goddamn university because his thoughts are all taken up with Oikawa, Oikawa, Oikawa.

Sugawara overtakes him, leading Daichi into Oikawa's room by the hand. Hajime follows, unable to miss the pale flush that colours Daichi's cheeks. 

Oikawa is lying slightly crumpled in his bed, like a doll that's fallen from a shelf of toys. "Iwa-chan," he gasps excitedly as Hajime moves closer. "Did you miss me?"

"Yes," says Hajime, and he realises that it's the truth. "God, yes- are you okay?"

"Everything's better now that you're here," says Oikawa, and Hajime's struck at what lengths he goes to in order to avoid his question. "Although... You know, I've just got one request for you." 

Hajime is horrified at the nature of the unholy options that run through his head like sin. "Er, what?" he gets out, nonchalantly. 

"Milk bread," Oikawa whispers, so that Hajime has to lean forwards to hear. "After this operation, please being me milk bread." 

Hajime doesn't fail to realise that this means they're going to have to meet again. Which, really, could be much, much worse. 

Before he can reply, Oikawa grabs his shirt collar and pulls him closer. His breath is cool, soft like a caress against Hajime's neck. "Oh," he murmurs, "and one more thing, Iwa-chan." He tails off, smirking slightly at Hajime's obvious fluster.

"Thank you."

                                 ★彡☆彡★

Hajime doesn't know how he gets away from the hospital, in the end. He doesn't know why, but talking to Oikawa makes him feels like they've been there forever- like they will be there forever- and Hajime likes that. 

He's not exactly sure what he's going to do about his Tohoku interview, now. Daichi gave him a letter of explanation, and Hajime can get one from the police when he goes to speak to them about the accident. Maybe he can email Tohoku a quick explanation once he's home. 

There's blood on his shirt.

Oikawa's blood, all along the arm and smeared up the side of his collar like a kiss. 

When he gets home, he's going to email Tohoku- and then he's going to change this damn shirt. 

It's a horrible reminder of Oikawa's pain and Hajime suddenly wonders what's going to happen in the long run. Will Oikawa be okay? Where was he supposed to be today?- he seemed so frantic in the ambulance, before the hospital and all the sedatives. 

Hajime's apartment block, just now looking into view, seems so grubby after the pristine cleanliness of the hospital. He stomps up the stairs, each step thumping like the baseline to a song. 

This, today, has been his song. His, and Oikawa's.

His TV's already on as his key clicks in the lock to his room. Hajime must have forgotten to turn it off in his rush to the interview, and now it plays the sports channel softly in the background. As soon as the door is closed, he pulls of his shirt, throwing it to the floor like some sort of discarded dream. 

Out of the corner of his eye, he's only half watching the TV as he struggles to find a passably clean t-shirt from the pile of laundry on his carpet. It's then that he hears it.

The TV is talking about Oikawa. 

"... Everyone's favourite high school volleyball team hopeful for nationals was knocked out today after their team captain and star setter, Oikawa Tooru, did not turn up for the game. It's recently been discovered that he was rushed to hospital after being hit by a car earlier this morning, on his way to the game in Miyagi Prefecture. The owner of the car has not been identified, and we are awaiting updates on Oikawa's recovery progress. However, early reports from doctors state that he will never be able to play volleyball again-"

Hajime's dropped his shirt, and he's not listening to the TV any longer. 

The picture's they're showing are of Oikawa in sports clothes and trainers, surrounded by his team mates- the pictures they're showing of Oikawa hitting jump serves, or at press interviews, or on the goddamn cover of Volleyball Weekly. And he looks gorgeous- and he looks happy- and Hajime cannot believe it.

"The team," Oikawa had said in the ambulance- yelled, but without any sound. "The team need me, they need me, they-" 

Hajime's running. 

He grabs a coat slung over the back of his desk chair, pulling it on as he sprints out the apartment and forgets to lock the door. It doesn't matter- nothing matters, right now, except for Oikawa and the tear through his life that Hajime can't even begin to understand. 

The hospital isn't far, and Hajime clears the distance in rapid strides that send jolts of fire coursing up his legs. His ankle twists, at one point, but he barely feels the stabbing pain. His arms slice through the air, pulled as if with puppet strings by whichever gods of fate brought Oikawa and Hajime together today.

It's only as Hajime sits impatiently in the hospital waiting room, yearning for Oikawa's surgery to finish, that he remembers. Damn.

He's forgotten the milk bread.

Sugawara - the paramedic from before, with the tousled silver hair - approaches him, after giving a surprised smile which rapidly transforms into concern. "I thought you'd left," he says, with what might, perhaps, be a smirk.

"I... Er..." Hajime shakes his head. "He's on the news. Oikawa's on the news. People are saying that... His career's ruined; he'll never play volleyball again. And I- I couldn't leave him." 

He doesn't even know Oikawa. He doesn't know his favourite colour, or his favourite food, or where he lives, or what his ideal date might be. But the thing is, Hajime can't deny that he wants to. Hell, he wants to- he wants to know Oikawa so much, so badly. He wants to know what makes him sing to the stars and what clenches his fists in anger. He wants to know how it feels to play volleyball, and how it feels to be this broken, and how-

Sugawara's speaking to him. "The surgery's almost finished, I think. They'll let you go and see him after that." 

Hajime frowns. "Are you sure? I'm not a relative, I'm-"

"Oh," says Sugawara, "but you're his boyfriend, right?" 

"Well- no- but-" Hajime's about to deny it, but if he's not connected to Oikawa, then will the hospital even let them see each other? He doesn't want to risk it. "Um. Yes. He is my boyfriend. Oikawa... Chan. My boyfriend." The words feel strange, foreign on his tongue. Maybe he should have said they were friends- but everyone already seems so weirdly convinced that they're in love. Hajime supposes that he may as well just go along with it.

Thank god that Makki and Mattsun aren't here.

Sugawara smiles knowingly. "Lucky," he says, with a slight sigh. "Did you speak to Daichi-san? The paramedic that was with me before. Sometimes, I wish we had a relationship as close as yours seems to be with Oikawa."

"You mean, you're not..." Hajime can swear he saw Sugawara leading Daichi by the hand before. And that had definitely been a blush on Daichi's cheeks. "You seem pretty close to me, at least. Not that I know much about this type of thing, but..."

"Oh, you think so? Really?" Sugawara seems unbelievably pleased by the meagre romantic advice that Hajime has offered up. "We're not actually together, but... I was thinking of asking sometime."

"You should," says Hajime, suddenly finding his usual confidence. "I think Daichi would say yes." 

"Are you sure?" asks Sugawara. 

Hajime remembers the smile and longing gazes that Daichi was sending in Sugawara's direction as if they were love letters. "Yeah," Hajime says. "Definitely. Just a hunch."

A crowd of doctors bustle out from the operating room, and Hajime cranes his neck to see Oikawa being wheeled back into the ward on a stretcher. He turns to Sugawara. "Do you think I could go see him now?"

Sugawara pauses for a second, then hurries to follow the doctors. A couple of minutes (that feel like decades) later, he returns and grins. "Come with me." 

                                 ★彡☆彡★


Oikawa's wearing a hospital gown, and his eyes are barely open. Sugawara nudges Hajime and whispers, "He's still a bit out of it." 

Struggling to crane his neck, Oikawa raises a hand to point at Sugawara. "I can hear you," he drawls, blearily falling back down. "Who's with you? Is that my mom?"

Hajime feels stupid, all of a sudden. He shouldn't be here. He doesn't even know this guy- and now he's going to have to pretend they're dating in front of Sugawara. "I- um," he clears his throat. "Actually, it's me. Um. Iwa-chan."

"Same difference," says Oikawa, but grins stupidly. "Except my mom isn't that pretty."

Hajime thinks this is meant to be a compliment. 

Sugawara winks. "I'll leave you guys to it. Press the help button if you need anything. Visiting hours are over in twenty minutes, by the way. But you're welcome to come back tomorrow." 

And the next day, thinks Hajime. And the next. 

Once Sugawara leaves, Oikawa reaches out a hand, beckoning Hajime closer. Hajime kneels down beside him, and suddenly remembers that he never actually found a clean enough shirt to put on under his coat. 

"Aren't you boiling?" asks Oikawa. "You should take your coat off, Iwa-chan. It's so hot in here- but then again, I am in the room." His words are slightly slurred, like the drugs from the operation haven't fully worn off yet. 

Hajime shakes his head awkwardly. "I'd rather keep it on." He doesn’t like to think about the things that might cross his mind if he ended up shirtless in a room with Oikawa.

Maybe he is gay, after all.

They sit in a kind of comfortable silence for a moment, and then Hajime blurts out- "You were on the news. For volleyball. I saw it. I didn't know that you were famous." 

Oikawa laughs but the sound is like crying. "Are you a fan, by any chance, Iwa-chan?"

Hajime can't believe how irritating one invalid can manage to be. Oikawa's almost worse than Makki- except, there's something about Oikawa which means Hajime doesn't mind so much. "Don't be stupid... Trashykawa."

He pulls a face, slightly shocked at himself- the nickname just slips out. Oikawa doesn't seem to mind though, hitting him lightly on the arm. 

"Don't be mean, Iwa-chan. Just because I'm prettier than you."

"I saved your life."

"I know, I know- Iwa-chan, my knight in shining armour." Oikawa's eyes roll up to the ceiling, and Hajime notices the flecks of gold that burn among their hazel-brown. "Did you bring the milk bread?"

"Oh," says Hajime. "Shit. I forgot it. I saw the TV at home and you were on it and the doctors talked about how your injuries might mean you can't play volleyball again but on the TV you just looked so happy playing it, and-"

Oikawa's eyes snap into focus, his lips tightening. His hand reaches out to grip Hajime's. "What did you say?"

"I just-the doctors don't think, with your knee... Volleyball might not be the best..." He trails off, unable to continue as Oikawa's mouth quivers with emotion. "I'm sorry," whispers Hajime. It's pathetic but it's all he has to offer.

"They're lying," Oikawa mutters, almost to himself. "They're lying, they have to be, they-" He breaks off his eyes deadening. He looks like a corpse- and god, how it kills Hajime. "Iwa-chan," says Oikawa, flatly. "Stay with me. Please. I don't want to be alone right now."

"Visiting hours end in ten-"

"I don't care about visiting hours!" Oikawa shouts suddenly, his voice rising and trembling with a shaking vibrato. "I just want-"

Silence. 

"I'm here," says Hajime. "I- However long you want me to stay with you, I'll wait." He pauses. "Oh. And, I'm sorry about the milk bread." 

Oikawa forces a smile. "It's okay, Iwa-chan," he says quietly.

"Hajime." He's not sure what sure what drives him to correct Oikawa, but he does. "Call me Hajime."

"Fine then," says Oikawa. He smiles, and behind all the hurt and pain and grief, it might just be genuine. "It's okay, Hajime.” He pauses. “You brought you."

They sit there, together, hand in hand. Through the narrow hospital window, light shines through the holes in the night sky in the form of stars.

Hajime can't remember a time when he's ever felt more alive.

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