“So…” says Iwaizumi. “This is how you make girls fall in love with you. Take them to out-of-the-way backstreet coffee shops and-”
“Then, if I kill them, no one will hear them scream.” Oikawa winks, poking his tongue out. “It’d be a crime to let anyone prettier than me go on living.”
“Idiot.” Iwaizumi laughs.
They’re crammed together in an independent café that can only be described as ‘poky’, and Oikawa’s knees keep knocking against Iwaizumi’s beneath the table. The table itself is low and wooden, with endless stories dried up across its surface and disguised as coffee rim-stains. Despite himself, Oikawa feels comfortable in this place, or maybe that’s just because Iwaizumi is with him.
Iwaizumi nods across the cafe. “Just because I’m Nao-chan’s stand-in doesn’t mean you’re going to make me hold your hand though, right?”
Oikawa laughs and pretends to be hurt. “People would pay to hold my hand, you realise? You’d be privileged!”
And then he sees who Iwaizumi was looking at. There’s a gay couple – two guys, probably somewhere in their thirties – sitting holding hands at the other end of the shop, and Oikawa keeps finding himself staring no matter how many times he tells himself it’s rude. It’s rare to see people so outwardly gay in Tokyo, let alone somewhere as banally mundane as Miyagi prefecture.
Seeing them together– one small with glasses, the other with dyed blonde hair and a sneery expression- it makes Oikawa wonder how they met or whether they’ve known each other all their lives and how they ever became anything more than friends when being in a same sex relationship is still mostly just something you read about in books imported from America.
Oikawa wonders, fleetingly, what it’d be like if he was really going out with Iwaizumi. He imagines ruffling his fingers through dark, spiky hair, kissing each other in secret before volleyball practice and not really caring whether the team found out as long as they had each other. He imagines sweet perfume and soft lips and smooth skin… And that’s not right, that’s not right because Iwaizumi doesn’t wear perfume and hasn’t shaved in at least a week and Iwaizumi is not a girl.
Oikawa shouldn’t even be thinking about this. This date is just a joke, after all. Just something crazy, silly, funny- something that they can joke about in years to come, when they’re married with wives and three kids each.
And yet, here he is, wondering what it feels like to kiss his best friend.
“Is kissing a guy the same as kissing a girl?”
Iwaizumi looks at him with raised eyebrows, shrugging his shoulders. “How the hell would I know, Crappykawa?”
Shit, thinks Oikawa. I said that out loud. He swallows his blush and tosses his hair nonchalantly, gesturing at nothing. “Well, I mean, you’ve kissed a volleyball before. It’s hardly out of the question to assume you’ve kissed a guy.”
Iwaizumi looks around furtively. “Keep your voice down!” he hisses, and then he kicks Oikawa underneath the table. Hard. “I was drunk, all right? Can you stop bringing that up, already?”
“Honestly,” pouts Oikawa, his heart still pounding beneath his sweater. “Don’t go in a mood with me, Iwa-chan. Just because I’m prettier than you doesn’t mean you have to be so mean all the time.” He twirls his spoon between his fingers, pausing as it points at Iwaizumi. “I was just wondering.”
“Well, don’t.” Iwaizumi rolls his eyes, following Oikawa’s gaze back to the couple at the other end of the coffee shop. They’re leaning into one another, obviously in love. “I’m straight.”
There’s a silence. It’s awkward, more awkward than Oikawa’s felt with Iwaizumi in… Shit, in forever.
Oikawa sips his caramel latte and starts to wish that he’d never invited his best friend to be his stand-in date. He waits too long for the conversation to seem in any way coherent, and then sniffs. “Of course you’re straight, Iwa-chan. Otherwise you wouldn’t get so frustrated every time you broke up with a girl.”
“Yeah,” says Iwaizumi. He claps Oikawa across the back, who doesn’t try to hide his wince of pain.
Across the shop, a waiter’s approached the couple, leaning back against their table as if he intends to stay there a while. Oikawa frowns, and when Iwaizumi starts to say something, he cuts him off. “Shhh. The gay couple. Listen to what the waiter’s saying.”
Iwaizumi is quiet for a moment, then shakes his head in irritation. “I can’t. What’s he saying?”
Oikawa scrunches his face up into an imitation of the waiter’s disgusted expression. “’Next thing you know, people will want to be dating their dog. Or are you two gentlemen just good friends?’”
The waiter bows to the couple, but it’s mocking and almost scrapes the floor. When he raises his head, he smiles at them, as if he’s telling a funny joke. “People like you are disgusting creatures.” He proclaims this so loudly that even Iwaizumi can hear, who widens his eyes slightly as the couple get up and leave without a word.
Oikawa feels something more potent than anger bubble up from the pit of his stomach, and he feels his lip curling in distaste. “Wonderful customer service,” he mutters under his breath. “That bow was… something.”
Iwaizumi nods. “What an asshole. I should spike a volleyball at his head.”
Slowly, Oikawa’s scowl smooths into a cruel grin. “Or…” He shrugs delicately, purposely not looking at the boy sitting opposite him. “We could do something that would really piss that waiter off.”
“No,” says Iwaizumi immediately, folding his arms. “Absolutely not.”
“You’ve not even heard what I’m going to say yet!” Oikawa pulls a face. “Don’t be so mean, Iwa-chan.”
“Fine,” Iwaizumi sighs, rolling his eyes. “What? But your ideas are always stupid.”
“I’m going to ignore that last comment, Iwa-chan, because this idea is stupendous. You’re my stand-in date, right? Right. So what do people on dates do? Hold hands, sit way too close together, etc, etc. And what does that waiter hate? Guys who do all that together. Especially if we don’t leave the restaurant like that couple did, and-”
“Like I said,” Iwaizumi cuts in, “it’s a stupid idea. I told you before, we are not holding hands.”
But Oikawa looks at him and Iwaizumi gives in, because Iwaizumi can never really say no to Oikawa.
“Let’s get this over with,” says Iwaizumi, his voice so gruff that it’s barely distinguishable. Quickly, his hand darts out and closes around Oikawa’s above the table. Iwaizumi looks away, blush seeping up to kiss at the tips of his ears.
It’s just as well, really, because that way he doesn’t see Oikawa catch his breath despite himself. He doesn’t see the way Oikawa’s mouth parts just slightly in a breathy kind of unspoken wonder, and he doesn’t see the glance Oikawa gives him from beneath his eyelashes that conveys so much more affection than Iwaizumi thinks him capable of.
He isn’t sure why he feels like this, because he’s sure he’s never felt like this with Iwaizumi before.
Or maybe he just hasn’t noticed.
Oikawa swallows. “My, Iwa-chan, you’re going all red. Is it that hot in here, or do you really just like me that much?” His voice is shaky and not quite all there, but Iwaizumi doesn’t seem to notice.
He practically growls, his hand shaking around Oikawa’s. “Shut up, Shittykawa.”
“I don’t feel like punching you quite so much when you’re not speaking.”
“Ouch. If I was any less self-confident, that might have wounded me.”
But in truth, even Oikawa is feeling nervous about holding onto his best friend’s hand like this. Even if they’re the only customers in a very out of the way coffee shop, because the one other person in said café apart from them is an increasingly scary-looking homophobic waiter.
Oikawa wiggles his fingers up and down nervously, trapped in Iwaizumi’s grip. He edges his thumb around and around Iwaizumi’s palm in a circle, brushing skin against skin and trying not to think about how firm Iwaizumi’s grip is, and how much Oikawa likes that.
“Stop that.” Iwaizumi kicks at him under the table almost at once, scowling.
“That… whatever you’re doing with your hand. Against mine. It’s…” Iwaizumi trails off. “It’s… Distracting.”
“Oh.” Oikawa does it again, and laughs to make it a joke. Iwaizumi doesn’t stop him, this time.
They sit together for what feels like minutes stacked on minutes stacked on minutes until the waiter comes over to take their order. He raises his eyebrow and stares pointedly at their locked hands.
“It seems,” drawls the waiter, his eyebrow sliding up and under the greasy locks of hair that fall into his face, “it seems that you’re everywhere, today. I swear I just saw you leave here a few seconds ago.” He stops and grimaces in cold disgust, tilting his head to study Oikawa and Iwaizumi.
Oikawa gives the waiter his sweetest smile, the one he usually reserves for psyching out idiot first years like Kageyama before a match. “If we’d seen each other before, I hardly think we’d be seeing each other again in a hurry. Your face is putting me off my coffee.”
Opposite him, Iwaizumi has gone totally stiff, his hand clamped around Oikawa’s so hard that his knuckles are bleeding white. He’s too strong for his own good, and always has been.
“Oh, sorry,” says the waiter, who is not sorry at all. “My mistake. You’re different people after all. All you faggots look the same to me.”
“That’s funny,” says Oikawa, leaning back in his chair, “because I’m sure there’d have been riots by now if there were multiple people as pretty as I am.” He squeezes Iwaizumi’s hand imperceptibly, because it’s all he can manage right now as an apology for such a stupid idea.
Oikawa isn’t used to explaining himself to people.
He isn’t quite sure why he was so eager to piss the waiter off in quite this manner, but for some reason, the thought of Iwaizumi’s hand in his had-
Oikawa shakes his head. No. He’s pretending to be in love with Iwaizumi because he wants to annoy the asshole waiter, and that. Is. All.
He tilts his head backwards, sizing the waiter up. “Wait, hang on, maybe I recognise you after all. Sorry, you just look exactly like this gay porn star I saw online the other day. So, is being a dumbass waiter just your part-time job, or-”
The waiter steps closer intimidatingly, his jaw tight. “Say that again, you piece of shit.”
“What? The bit about you being a gay porn star, or-”
“Say that again!” And suddenly the waiter is up in Oikawa’s face, his fingers curling into fists. Oikawa’s hand doesn’t leave Iwaizumi’s, and he ducks as the waiter makes as if to punch him.
Oikawa coughs, ignoring his thumping heart and rolling his eyes. He tuts across the table at Iwaizumi. “Savages. Everywhere, aren’t they?”
“Get out of this shop,” says the waiter. “Get out.”
“Not until I get compensation for you almost ruining my face,” says Oikawa, but he knows he’s pushing it too far when the waiter balls his fists up once more, his face splotchy and purple and shaded in with every type of rage. Oikawa winces and braces himself and knows that he does not have time to move out of the way, trapped in his tiny corner seat.
So he holds onto Iwaizumi’s hand and waits for the inevitable impact. That’s what he does.
And then he isn’t holding Iwaizumi’s hand anymore.
Oikawa looks up at his best friend, who’s stayed silent throughout this. Oikawa looks up at his best friend and sees his face contorted with anger and hate as he smacks the waiter with the same spike he’s used against so many rival teams in the past. He looks up and hears the guttural ferocity that forces its way up Iwaizumi’s throat, the vehemence with which he defends Oikawa.
And it’s strange, but Iwaizumi, fighting like this for Oikawa’s sake: it’s so beautiful.
Funny. All these years, Oikawa’s been the pillar of the volleyball team without really thinking about who he’s been leaning on.
But it’s Iwaizumi. Of course, it’s Iwaizumi. It’s always been Iwaizumi.
They catch each other’s eye, and Oikawa looks away.
The waiter roars in an ugly fury, thrusting Iwaizumi aside and coming back with the manager- who, really, should have been the person that Oikawa went to see in the first place, instead of pressuring Iwaizumi into holding his hand. (But despite it all, really deep down, he knows that he doesn’t regret it.)
“Your waiter needs to be fired,” Oikawa tells the manager, before thrusting money for their coffees down on the table. “And we’re sorry for the mess.”
Iwaizumi’s bright red again as they bow their way out of the door, and he takes Oikawa by the collar of his shirt once they’re halfway down the street. “I told you,” he says, his voice monotonous. “Your ideas are always stupid.”
“Generally, my dates are less eventful,” Oikawa concedes, biting his lip before hurriedly correcting himself. “Fake dates. I mean, generally my fake, stand-in dates are less eventful. Not that I have many of those. Or, really, any. Before this, I mean.”
“Yeah,” says Iwaizumi, and Oikawa thinks he’s going to hit him or be mad or something, but then he laughs. “Man, though, did you see that guy’s face when you answered him back? He went fucking purple! I didn’t even realise that was possible.”
Oikawa laughs alongside him, the sound breaking from his mouth like stained glass, shattering itself across the horizon. “Well, Iwa-chan…”
“I think you were purple that time you were kissing the volleyball, though. You were very drunk.”
And Iwaizumi bashes Oikawa over the head, but it’s friendly, and it’s normal, and Oikawa can almost pretend that he never felt like he felt when Iwaizumi held his hand. He never felt that rush of pure elation and he never felt that embarrassing guilt that should never have existed because holding hands with Iwaizumi doesn’t. Mean. Anything.
Oikawa can almost ignore it all. Almost. Almost.
But then Iwaizumi asks him, “So, what else were you planning on doing on your date with Nao-chan apart from attacking an idiot waiter, Shittykawa?” and Oikawa can’t help but imagine them ice skating and watching movies and having snowball fights and sharing food and kissing and kissing and kissing and kissing and-
Stop. He has to stop.
“Oh,” says Oikawa, shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t know.” He smirks at Iwaizumi. “I’m a gentleman, Iwa-chan, and usually I let the girl decide.”
Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. “As long as we’re not holding hands again.”
If only, thinks Oikawa. If only.