Tooru receives a terrarium from Iwaizumi when he is four. It's the first time he's seen or heard anything about the family next door since they moved in about three days ago.
“Actually, it’s from my mom,” The muddy little boy wearing a dirty tank top says, shuffling his feet nervously in front of Tooru’s doorsteps in the dreadful heat of summer. Tooru eyes the little glass container resting in the boy's small sweaty palms, filled with lush greens and dirt and life and thinks how it is so incredibly beautiful.
Tooru grins, twisting his head towards the inside of his house and shouting a sharp "Mom! Iwa... Iwachumi... Iwa-chan is here!!"
Then, they play.
They play until they drop, and every night Tooru would gaze into
his his mother's little glass box.
And once a week, he would watch with intense curiosity as his mother tends to the terrarium.
It seems like it belongs in its own time, Tooru thinks, a place where I can grow things and keep things and hide things.
A world that he received from Iwaizumi, something he can call his own.
It is during the last year of elementary school when his mother lets him move the terrarium (his terrarium now) into his room and assigns him the task of caring for it.
He is surprised that the terrarium had even lasted that long, really, especially since his sister had just given birth to Takeru. Of course, convincing her to give him the terrarium was no easy task either. But after the fifth rather vocal dispute about how "Iwa-chan is going to be so sad if it dies" and pointing out the mould that was starting to grow along the seams of the glass, she finally conceded.
"Terrariums are fickle things, Tooru. Be careful with it, okay?" She says sternly, placing the glass box gently into his waiting hands. He rolls his eyes because obviously he knows better than his mom.
But still, he ends up spending a lot of time at the library reading about terrariums and gathering pretty rocks for it in between playing volleyball with Iwaizumi, swimming with Iwaizumi, and generally doing anything plus everything with Iwaizumi.
And at the end of the summer, he decides to introduce his first rock into the little garden from his collection.
"What are you doing?"
Tooru looks up, wiping his arm across his forehead before grinning up at his friend. "Trying to pick the best rock."
Iwaizumi makes a face, the one where his nose is all scrunched up and and his brows are all knitted and... Somehow, it only makes Tooru grin wider. "That's stupid, they're just rocks."
"No, it's not." They aren't stupid and they aren't just rocks. But Iwa-chan wouldn't understand, Tooru decides. Because Iwa-chan is stupid.
Tooru turns back to the small line up of rocks that he had laid out in his back yard. The summer sun is beating relentlessly down on his back and the cicadas are nosier than he'd remembered from last year. Tooru takes a few seconds to chastise himself because he could have been doing this inside if his mother hadn't demanded him to take his rock collection out when she found the dirty pile hiding inside his bedside drawer. Granted, he could've washed the rocks first before bringing them inside but who would ever want to wash rocks?
After a few beats of silence and listening Iwaizumi shift on his feet behind him, Tooru doesn't expect to hear his friend's voice so close to his ear the next time he speaks. "If I help you pick one, can we hurry up go play? You promised we'd go catch bugs and play volleyball today."
Tooru glances sideways at his best friend, who is crouching on the ground next to him now, wearing a concentrated expression on his face that isn't too different from his unimpressed look just moments ago. Tooru snickers in reply when he deciphers the underlying guilt laced with that comment, and wriggles his nose at Iwaizumi in that very precise way he knows Iwaziumi would think is ridiculous and laugh at.
As expected, Iwaizumi barks out a laugh before reaching forward to pick up a rock.
They spend about half an hour baking in the sun before Iwaziumi picks the flattest, roundest, and smoothest rock out of his collection, raising it towards the sky like the biggest beetle he'd ever caught a few summers back, a triumphant look on his face.
Naturally, Tooru doesn't disagree, because the perfect marble of black, white, and grey seems to fit perfectly into his little tropical paradise (but mostly because he had picked up this rock on their first day of vacation this year when they had been playing by the creek where Iwaizumi had caught his first fish of the year. Iwaizumi's laughter had been so contagious and his smile so blindingly bright that it had left Tooru breathless for a moment with his heart racing for no apparent reason).
He places the rock in the center of his terrarium at the end of the week when he is meticulously cleaning the container, grinning all the way into his dreams while basking under the dim green of his glow-in-the-dark stickers.
Steady and sturdy, Iwa-chan Number One.
Tooru celebrates Christmas with another rock that Iwaizumi had picked out. It is smaller, but it looks like it belonged right amongst the mosses in his container (the mosses he'd named Iwazumi-chan, as they had this prickly resemblance to Iwazumi's hair).
It is amazing.
But what is more amazing though, Tooru tells himself, is how this rock had taken them all the way home when they were kicking it back from the park just a few months earlier.
Iwaizumi had claimed that it was fate, since no other rock had managed to last that long with them.
Tooru believes him and places it into his little world.
Iwa-chan Number Two.
At some point he realizes that if he puts too many Iwa-chans in his little planet, it'll be filled up really quickly.
He decides to be a little pickier with the ones he puts into his terrarium and keeps the rest in a clean pile inside a box in his closet (he doesn’t really want to keep them outside to be weathered by the temperamental winds and rain).
"You've still got that thing?" Iwaizumi drops his bag by Tooru's futon before walking to Tooru's desk and squatting down to squint at the terrarium.
“It’s resilient, Iwa-chan! Be awed by its life force!” This is a routine that Tooru has gotten used to since the last year of elementary school. It always starts with Iwaizumi making a comment about Tooru’s terrarium followed up by an insult of some sort which then results in Tooru spluttering in indignity— wash, rinse, repeat. Tooru doesn't know why he expected anything different—
Iwaizumi cocks his head up at Tooru with a quizzical look on his face. "... Were there that many rocks in this thing before?" Tooru holds his breath (Iwa-chan Number Twelve and Number Fifteen are currently under scrutiny), unsure about how to reply. This isn’t the usual banter they engage in. "Don't you have too many rocks in here?"
Tooru performs his flawless indignant splutter at Iwaizumi’s ridiculous suggestion from where he is shrugging off his blazer before striding over to shove Iwaizumi aside, picking up the glass container with a sparkle in his eyes. "I'll have you know that each rock is precisely where it belongs."
Iwaizumi snorts from his spot on the ground and Tooru feels a small painful twinge in his chest. He isn't too sure why.
"Whatever," Iwaizumi mumbles as he stretches across the floor, rolling onto his back to stare up at Tooru's ceiling of glow-in-the-dark stickers.
Tooru has to tear his attention away from the way how Iwaizumi's shirt rides up his abdomen, and how the shadow of Iwaizumi’s bellybutton is peeking out for the world's eyes to feast on. Tooru swallows before gently placing his tiny blooming and rocky world back on his desk, fingers stroking the glass container absent-mindedly.
"...Are we going to go over those Shiratorizawa DVDs or are you going to have eye sex with your plants all day?"
Tooru swivels on his heel and crosses his arms, pouting down at Iwaizumi who merely raises an eyebrow at him. "You're the epitome of charm, Iwa-chan. Did you know that?"
He hates geniuses.
His terrarium suffers a little when he meets Kageyama. His late nights often means he wouldn't get home in time to move his terrarium out of the sunlight and he would barely remember moving it back in the morning before he heads out for practice.
He still cleans it though, albeit less meticulously than usual because he is so distracted and so wrapped up in not losing.
He will not let that boy catch up. He can't.
"Your thing looks a little off."
Tooru freezes in the middle of taking his tie off, a weird sense of deja vu crawling over him when he almost bowls over Iwaizumi by rushing to him and dropping onto his knees. "What?" His voice is breathless.
"Yeah." Iwaizumi is frowning at him. "Don't forget that it needs you more than you need it. It'll die at this rate." Tooru's lower lip wibbles. Iwaizumi's right— there's a little bit of brown on Iwaizumi-chan, and the green crowning the moss seems a little less luscious than before. "I already told you that there are six people on the court for a damn reason. Stop overworking yourself. You love this thing, right? Take some more time to care for it or something."
"Yeah. Okay." Tooru's voice barely comes out as a whisper before he presses his forehead against the glass terrarium. "Okay."
He hates talent.
It is a dirty word on his tongue— one that tastes like ash with the texture of sand that no matter how much he rinses his mouth after, it still lingers stubbornly on his tongue.
Tooru breathes heavily through his nose, blinking out tears of frustration before clutching his pillow closer and curling further in on himself.
He isn't good enough. He isn't even there yet.
He lays in his futon for the rest of the night, sweaty and gross from a game he spends the rest of his night reliving, forgetting about how that day is the day for his regular terrarium maintenance.
It doesn't matter that he'd won the Best Setter Award.
Well. Not nothing, he supposes. He'd almost forgotten about this.
Tooru scrubs his little world very thoroughly the next day after apologizing profusely to his lush mosses and artistically arranged rocks ("Iwaizumi-chan, I'm sorry! And all my little precious Iwa-chans, I'm sorry!" he cooes in the safety of his locked bedroom).
And well, he grudgingly will admit that he only remembered after his eyes had caught on a rock (Iwa-chan Number Seventeen) resting on his desk that morning— one that Iwaizumi had picked up yesterday along their usual route from the Sendai Gymnasium, trudging in heavy silence with his teammates. Iwaizumi had silently pressed it into Tooru's hand before slinging an arm around Tooru's shoulders and knocking their foreheads together. Thinking about that thought alone almost sends Tooru into another round of sniffles that could not possibly be any good for his complexion.
Tooru takes a deep breath.
Although his heart is still hurting from defeat, his hands are ever so gentle when cradling the terrarium that carries his heart and soul and everything that represents Iwaizumi. He carefully lowers the smooth grey rock among its brothers and sisters, its flat surface littered in cracks and scars, and it is absolutely perfect.
They are in high school when Iwaizumi brings up the topic again.
"There are definitely way too many rocks in there. You can do with a few extra plants."
Tooru glances over at Iwaizumi who is currently rubbing an absent finger along the glass of his terrarium. "What's it to you, Iwa-chan?"
Iwaizumi makes a complicated face at Tooru who tilts his head in response and places his textbook down into his lap. "What's the whole point of collecting these rocks anyway?"
He opens his mouth to respond.
A: Iwa-chan, you idiot. You picked most of them! or
B: The mosses seem to like them as much as they like me! or
C: Something about collecting Iwa-chans make me feel ridiculously happy!
These thoughts all briefly pass through Tooru’s mind, but he disregards all three before settling with: "I just like them, Iwa-chan. I really don't feel like I need a better reason for that."
Seemingly startled at Tooru's rather honest response, Iwaizumi merely hums and settles back into his seat. "It still seems a little too crowded though..."
Tooru nudges Iwaizumi with a toe. "Don't worry your pretty little head about that, Iwa-chan! You might hurt yourself!"
He ends up with a bright bruise blossoming on his left arm.
One week later, Tooru discovers a little plant resting in a brand-new dome-shaped glass terrarium inside his locker.
He could barely contain his giddiness when he arrives home. Gingerly placing the dome next to his currently very occupied glass container (the lid of the container could barely stay on with all his mosses, tiny leaves, dirt, and rocks), Tooru props open his terrarium book onto to find a very distinct smudge on the page about the rex begonia (Hajime-chan!, his mind immediately supplies), smelling vaguely like the sauce his mom had made for the agedashi tofu a few days ago.
Of course, Tooru already knew who it was from, from the moment he laid eyes on the glass dome, but it doesn't stop him from humming cheerfully like an idiot throughout the whole night while transferring his terrarium into the new container (excited, just like the night he placed his first Iwa-chan into his terrarium).
It is a snug fit for all his mosses, leaves, dirt, and rocks, but Tooru wouldn't have it any other way, since nothing can really quite contain all these things he feels for Iwaizumi— all the years of sorry's, thank you's, tears, and laughter— Tooru stuffs them all in this glass dome; transparent, full, and fragile.
They get too busy to go rock hunting now.
In turn, Tooru begins to keep a terrarium journal and catalogues all the Iwa-chans he's gathered thus far. He's afraid of forgetting all of them (especially the ones in his shoe box), but the more rational part of him tells him that it's stupid because how could he ever forget anything about Iwa-chan.
But... just in case...
And with less rocks come with less memories with Iwaizumi to fill his terrarium with.
So instead, Tooru jots these memories down along with his terrarium journal log.
He's fucking brilliant, Tooru praises himself with pride, ever so sneakily slipping the (already) seventh notebook filled with Iwaizumi-shaped experiences beside the box of rocks in his closet. Even without collecting physical Iwa-chans, he can be collecting abstract forms of Iwa-chans too.
This discovery leads him to filling out about nine more notebooks before the end of the school year.
And then they lose again.
The loss doesn't hurt any less than it did the previous years, but Tooru is not the same Tooru from back then. This Tooru is craftier, smarter, stronger.
This Tooru understands the strength in numbers because the one with the strongest six will win the game and he just didn't have the strongest six this time.
But still, somehow, he cannot shake the guilt from his bones.
What-if's, could have's, and should have's poison his mind at night and he trains until ridiculous hours again, replaying strategies in his mind as he serves ball after ball over the net, pretending that it is Ushiwaka's face that's eating every slap of the ball instead of the squeaky gymnasium floor.
Some days, Iwaizumi manages to find him and wrestle him back home. Some days, he's left to his own devices and he doesn't realize it's already past midnight until the security guard passes by a fifth time, telling him to pack up and go home.
Every night though, Tooru returns home and sits in front of his glass dome for a good half an hour or so, counting all twenty Iwa-chans and admiring his Iwaizumi-chan and Hajime-chan.
Something about this calms him down and all his insecurities don't quite find their ways into his dreams because all he dreams about are familiar mosses, trees, and rocks that anchor him and keep him steady, sturdy, and strong.
Losing to Karasuno was just as bad as losing to Shiratorizawa.
Even if he's the partner that Iwaizumi claimed he can boast about, the end of his high school volleyball career is marred with the bitter taste of ash, and sand, and irrational anger towards Kageyama.
It's not how he imagined it all to end and he cannot help but to be downright petty about this because he was supposed to go to nationals with his team following behind him (Iwaizumi supporting him the whole way).
He was supposed to rule the court.
"As expected of your disciple." Iwaizumi's deep voice cuts across his musings and Tooru jerks his head up.
"He's not my disciple!" Tooru crosses his arms, pouting down at the court. "Ugh, let's go home. I can't stand to watch either of them in that stupid award ceremony."
"You're such a crappy person." Tooru doesn't deny it, merely shoving Iwaizumi harder in reply towards the exit of the gymnasium.
Iwaizumi does, however, bless his big beautiful heart, manage to pick up a rather beautiful rock on their way home from the gymnasium, down the street that's crowned with rich red autumn leaves and filled with so many memories.
Tooru tries not to cry when he pockets the rock that feels hot to the touch, shouting replies to a shoddy game of shiritori and fervently claiming his glasses are definitely fashionable (because they are).
He sears the memory of Iwaizumi laughing and demanding to be treated to ramen again if he wins into his mind because Tooru knows.
Tooru knows their time is running out and he wants to make the best of it.
As if echoing his thought, Tooru imagines a pulse of heat from Iwa-chan Number Twenty One. He slips his hand into his pocket and grips tightly onto the rock.
"Oh." It is way too soon.
"... We're not going to be very far from each other, right? Wherever you're going." Tooru glances up at Iwaizumi. He feels like a cauldron full of boiling potion on the verge of exploding, his insides are swirling within him, and his world seems to dim just a little. His eyes slide over to where his terrarium sits. "We'll still be..." Friends? More than that? Tooru doesn't know what to ask. They've always just been Tooru and Hajime. Hajime and Tooru. Nothing more, nothing less.
Iwaizumi leans back against Tooru's pillows, rolling onto his side and staring straight at Tooru. Tooru stares straight back, willing himself not to shiver under Iwaizumi's intense gaze, his fingers clenching around his book so tightly that his knuckles have turned white.
Sometimes, he feels that Iwaizumi can somehow see right through him— all the way to his core. As if Iwaizumi has the key that unlocks his whole person; his crappy personality and nerdy obsessions, his insecurities and his secrets... Well, that may or may not be completely untrue, Tooru thinks to himself, because Iwaizumi has always been the one and only that he's bared his soul to.
After a round of tense silence, Iwaizumi cracks a grin. "Idiot. I made it into the University of Tokyo. We're still going to be together in Tokyo, loser." The affection in his voice makes it hard for Tooru to breathe.
Tooru feels tears prick at his eyes as colours bleed back into his world, and he lets out a giant breath of relief. "... stupid Iwa-chan."
Iwaizumi sits up in alarm, blinking wildly at Tooru. "Oh, fuck. I didn't mean to— I just. I just wanted to see your reaction and—"
Iwaizumi's always been bad with him crying and Tooru knows that. He always tries his best not to cry in front of Iwaizumi, like the last match they had with Shiratorizawa (he managed to hold it all in until he got into the shower at home, his wails bouncing off the awful acoustics of his bathroom, barely muffled by the sound of water thundering onto the tiles).
"I was going to ask if you wanna find a place together or something. And like, I don't know. You can bring your plant thing and everything and. Ugh." Iwaizumi rubs at the back of his neck, reeking of guilt. Tooru does everything in his power to not burst into nervous giggles or into tears because either would suck at this point. He does, however, end up moving into Iwaizumi's arms for a snug embrace when Iwaizumi silently spreads his arms grumpily and grunts at Tooru like the caveman he is.
It's a soundless apology that Tooru accepts ever so graciously.
Tooru supposes that this moment is probably the moment he realizes how madly and deeply in love with Iwaizumi Hajime he is.
So in love that he is constantly drowning.
So in love that he is somehow going to be so full of love that he'd inflate and fly off into the atmosphere.
So in love that he is constantly collecting, upgrading, and growing his museum of Iwaizumi-filled memories that lives in a glass dome on a small bookshelf in his room.
So in love that he is so fucked without Iwaizumi in his life.
He breathes in the earthy musky scent of Iwaizumi and manages to not cry while trying to think about nothing in particular.
Their move to Tokyo is rather uneventful.
Iwaizumi manages to find a part-time job almost immediately after they've moved-- something about being recruited by the moving company that helped them with their move from Miyagi into Kichijouji. Tooru had picked this location because it was somewhat right between their schools.
Okay, that was a lie, it takes about an hour for Iwaizumi to get to the University of Tokyo and it takes him about an hour and a half to get to Chuou University but Iwaizumi had only figured it out after their parents signed for the place. Iwaizumi had refused to talk to him for a day or two before grudgingly coming to him with a pack of milk bread from Lawson as a sign of apology and thanks.
"Hajime-chan is looking a little glum recently," Tooru muses mostly to himself, tapping at his glass dome with a pout. "Shall I get you some nice fresh fertilizer?"
Their apartment is empty asides from Tooru and his terrarium. The window is wide open and the spring breeze is warmer in Tokyo than Miyagi, though just as promising as the wind that carried him here. Beside his glass dome is a rock that Iwaizumi had picked up outside of their apartment while moving in. Iwa-chan Number Twenty Six.
Tooru supposes he should feel a lot more lonely or nervous being in a strange town, about to start a new chapter of his life. But when he takes a good long look around the apartment, a modest 2DK they managed to snag through family connections, a weird sort of warmth spread through his limbs. He takes note of the way the rays of sun seem to highlight speckles of dust floating in the room. He eyes all the scruff marks along the baseboards of the walls, and the boxes of half unpacked kitchenware sitting on the dining table. He drinks in the image of Iwaizumi's worn throw, left carelessly in a pile on the ground along with Iwaizumi's grey sweatpants and sweater from this morning's rush out to his part-time job. He breathes in the lingering scent of Iwaizumi's deodorant mingled in with the earthy and musky smell that is so uniquely Iwaizumi.
Tooru grins and rubs the surface of Iwa-chan Number Twenty Six.
Tooru crawls over to a box labelled my planet right by the boxes of kitchenware before diving right into it and pulls out a fresh bag of fertilizer.
Of course, his good mood is soured when Iwaizumi returns a few hours later, wondering aloud why their apartment smells like shit.
They settle in nicely into their lives in Tokyo. Tooru is an exceptionally good cook and surprisingly not a slob. In fact, Iwaizumi is the one who brings home the crappy take-outs on the days Tooru is too tired to cook. He is also the one who leaves his dirty sock (only one!) draped over the arm of their couch on a daily basis, preferring to walk around with only one socked foot because "it's too hot if I wear both and taking them both off makes me cold."
Tokyo is filled with instances that Tooru cannot collect rocks for (Tokyo also seems to have much fewer rocky opportunities than Miyagi), much like the last leg of high school. So, he loyally jots them down in his terrarium journal— a habit he has managed to keep a secret from Iwaizumi; a feat that he thought he'd be completely incapable of. Granted, it is not that hard because they are not sharing a room together and Iwaizumi is a respectful, earnest, honest, lovable, amazing, and fantastic person who does not sneak around Tooru's stuff. However, Tooru often thinks that he’s giving something away when he gets too jittery from Iwaizumi watching him ever so intently during the weekly maintenance of his terrarium.
"I'm surprised you seriously kept up with this."
Tooru hums softly in reply, not really paying much attention to Iwaizumi in favour of rubbing a soft cloth along the inside of the dome to remove the excess moisture sticking to the glass.
"It's beautiful," Tooru hears Iwazumi begin begrudgingly with a hint of pride in his voice. Tooru swells at the compliment and is about to turn around to thank his best friend when— "even though it's got too many rocks in it."
Iwaizumi seems confused as to why the shape of his agedashi tofu resembles a pile of shit that night (because Tooru knows that Iwaizumi knows he is all about perfection) but wisely does not complain.
Tooru fills about three pages in his terrarium journal about Iwaizumi singing praises about his terrarium and only writes in tiny barely legible script that Iwaizumi made another comment about the amount of rocks in his little glass planet.
They don't fight.
Not really, at least.
... Only about whose turn it is to take out the trash or if they should be watching variety shows as opposed to doing a marathon of BBC Earth ("It's got subtitles, Iwa-chan!"). And about if they should be doing their homework together (medicine for Iwaizumi and astrophysics for Tooru) in the kotatsu or in their rooms where they can actually concentrate.
This works out very well for the first year... and sort of the second year... Things get a little rockier at the beginning of their third year when their schedules become so out of sync that they are barely seeing each other more than just a handful of minutes at a time. When they do have a day together, they are always too tired to do anything other than laze in each other's presence (not that that isn't amazing either because Tooru will take what he can get).
It was silly for Tooru to think that it was going to be smooth sailing after that whole "which university are you going to" spiel.
Well, Tooru has always found it a little weird that he becomes just a touch (a lot) grouchier when he goes too long without spending time with Iwaizumi. It's as if he is just... off-balance without Iwaizumi to balance him out... it's as if he's got too much acid and not enough base in his pH... or when he eats too much meat and not enough veggies. But alas, that's what love does to you— you lose all sense of reason and logic, and it throws you off your game. Of course, it's not often that Tooru loses reason and logic during everyday situations.
In fact, the truth is far from that.
Tooru is smart and cunning and an opportunist-- everything that he is not when it comes to one Iwaizumi Hajime.
Iwaizumi makes him stupid (stupidly in love).
A month and a half into their third year of living together marks their first real bump on the road. Tooru really can’t blame himself for acting... rather out-of-character when Iwaizumi brings a girl home one night.
Tooru tries his best, he really does. He tries to be nice to that girl and he tries to make conversation that doesn't involve him being ridiculously petty and trying to one-up the girl on Iwaizumi-related facts (she didn't have much though and didn't seem relatively interested in his plethora of Iwaizumi-related facts for some odd reason). He also tries his best not to embarrass Iwaizumi (and obviously fails, if the amount of bruises on his left shin is an indication of such).
Thankfully, they are adults and Tooru knows that Iwaizumi is waiting until their guest leaves.
On the upside though, by the time the girl leaves (Tooru doesn't remember her name), Tooru is sure that if Iwaizumi Hajime Facts is a subject that you can take in university, she'd ace it for sure.
"What the fuck is your problem?" Iwaizumi spits, dropping himself down heavily onto a cushion on the ground. It's a reaction Tooru expected, but it still manages to surprise him when he feels Iwaizumi's anger in earnest. In all the years they have been together, Tooru has never really been a regular recipient of Iwaizumi's anger (only Iwaizumi's annoyance).
"Nothing." Tooru pouts, pulling his left leg up to rest his chin on the knee, rubbing his bruised shin with a hand while flicking through the channels on the television until he's decided on a random variety show. The laughter that bubbles from the speakers almost drowns out Iwaizumi's tangible displeasure, but not enough for Tooru to forget the bitter taste of it in his mouth.
Iwaizumi merely sighs and runs a hand through his hair and leans back on his elbows. Tooru can see the moment all the fight flies from Iwaizumi's body. "... Does it hurt?"
Tooru doesn't stop sulking. "Not really."
"For the record, we're not dating." He hears Iwaizumi mumble softly under his breath. "She... she is a girl from class who I was studying with and she wanted to... meet you after she found out I am rooming with you." Iwaizumi shuffles a little closer and puts a hand on Tooru's abused shin. "I said 'no' her so many times, but this time we were studying near our place and she insisted and then I thought if I showed her you weren't home but then you were and like— ugh. And on top of that, you were such a little bitch about the whole thing."
"Oh." Tooru feels so incredibly stupid.
Iwaizumi spends the rest of the evening rubbing Tooru's left shin apologetically while simultaneously pressing on all the pressure points on Tooru's foot as punishment for being a dick to his classmate.
Tooru does wakes up the next day to a rock sitting beside his pillow and a little note about how Iwaizumi had picked it up on his way back from the library last night and how the white lines streaking across the rock's gray surface reminded him of lined paper.
Iwa-chan Number Twenty Nine.
This event enters Tooru's terrarium journal in a web of self-justified proclamations as to why he was being an asshole, and every reason he gives, he's sure, doesn't make sense to anyone else other than himself.
It is shortly after the whole incident with the girl that Tooru decided that it might be for the best if he does something with all these feelings he has for Iwaizumi.
This revelation occurs when Tooru performs his weekly rituals on his precious terrarium and admiring his Iwa-chans. And… well, the revelation may or may not have been inspired after seven or eight more outbursts where he publicly humiliates Iwaizumi whenever he deigns that someone, whoever it may be, is threatening his position as Iwaizumi's best friend.
He is at risk of an overflow. There is only so much space he has for every journal he fills with words about Iwaizumi and only so much room in his terrarium (and the Tokyo rock box-- he's started collecting again, dammit Iwaizumi!) for his extra Iwa-chans that are hiding in his dresser.
Really, Tooru prides himself to be a man of action.
Not good enough to win? He'll practice.
Not good enough for everyone's attention? He'll consult fashion magazines.
He's practically a professional at being proactive (lies, lies, and lies when it comes to Iwaizumi).
At this point, is he really happy with just staying best friends forever? Will he be writing journals and collecting rocks forever (he will, he knows, but that is aside from the point)?
Can he really tag his Instagram photos with #YOLO if he doesn't actually put that phrase into practice?
Tooru sighs into his hands and gently nudges Hajime-chan with a fingertip. "What do you think?" The plant seems to dip its leafy greens in agreement. "Are you sure about that?" Silence. Well, what does he really expect from a plant? With a sigh, Tooru sits up and stretches. He’ll sleep on the whole ordeal until he can forget it because he's really not that brave when it comes to Iwaizumi.
He's only brave when he's with Iwaizumi.
But still, he tries to do something. It's in his name to keep moving— like a river. Stagnant is something that he cannot ever imagine himself being.
He starts by regularly packing lunches for Iwaizumi.
Tooru does receive a few weird looks from Iwaizumi at first but the med student comes to graciously accepting these lunches with a wide smile. What's worse is that Iwaizumi returns the lunch box squeaky clean every day, without a single speck of rice leftover, and it makes Tooru warm all over when he is doing the dishes, filling him with a strange sort of excitement of looking forward to packing Iwaizumi's lunch the next day.
Then, Tooru begins to do Iwaizumi's laundry.
This only started because there was a week where Iwaizumi was so engulfed in his exams and labs that Tooru had caught him pulling on the same shirt for the third time that week. There had been a squabble and then Iwaizumi's thundering out of the apartment with a fresh outfit to a class that seemed sort of important. Tooru had broken the rule of No Trespassing During Hell Week that day and really couldn't help himself when he pulled on a pair of kitchen gloves before marching into Iwaizumi's room. A clean room reflects a calm mind, Tooru told Iwaizumi when his best friend returned to find his laundry all done and his room swept and tidied that night.
Tooru doesn't try cleaning Iwaizumi's room again though, upon finding out that Iwaizumi had a system of an organized mess going on, but he does take it upon himself to take care of Iwaizumi's closet after that.
And there was this one time where Iwaizumi had tried to return the favour by cleaning Tooru's terrarium for him and Tooru had been so touched by the gesture that he didn't have the heart to tell Iwaizumi that he might have crushed a bit of Iwaizumi-chan while cleaning and that Iwaizumi should really keep his hands off his little glass planet.
So, by doing small things like that, Tooru hopes that his feelings may come across one day without really saying it out loud.
But he is Oikawa Tooru.
Other than good looks, wits, and his naturally charming personality... nothing else really comes that easily to him.
Their second bump on the road in Tokyo reveals itself in the form of an accidental confession, and things sort of spiral out of control from there (because Tooru isn't exactly well-known for making good decisions when it involves Iwaizumi Hajime and volleyball).
"You don't have to keep doing these things for me, you know," Iwaizumi grouches around a mouthful of rice, his chopsticks fishing for the largest chicken wing in the dish between them.
Tooru takes a sip of water before picking at his rice. "It's fine. You've been so busy for the past few months anyway."
Iwaizumi pins him down with a glare and Tooru feels slightly warmer than he did before. But before he could move, Iwaizumi is pressing a hand against his forehead and clicking his tongue in irritation. "You're obviously coming down with something. You're working too hard."
"I'm fine." Tooru repeats, swatting Iwaizumi's hand out of the way and frowning at the television. The television is playing some mindless variety show and the crowd laughs at something Tooru does not really understand.
"I don't know why you bother with doing those things anyway— like making my lunch and shit. It's like you're my mother or something." Iwaizumi settles back in his seat and continues to power through Tooru's homemade dinner.
"That's my line!"
Iwaizumi rolls his eyes and continues to inhale his dinner with such gusto that it warms Tooru to the tips of his toes.
And Tooru drinks it all in shamelessly— the way Iwaizumi that is sitting in the kotatsu, layered in shirts and sweaters and a hoodie to help preserve the electricity bill by avoiding the heater and the way he’s shoveling Tooru's cooking into his mouth while complaining about his day...
Something about this whole scene is so ridiculously domestic that it is somehow the exact unadulterated image of happiness that Tooru's imagined since he was in grade school. It makes Tooru want to run home every day, whooping and screaming and cartwheeling down the street towards their shared apartment.
This is why he is still collecting rocks and filling up his terrarium.
This is why he wants to get up at 4am every morning to make lunch for Iwaizumi.
This is why he loves Iwaizumi so much that if he loved Iwaizumi anymore, Tooru would very likely explode from all the feelings he cannot contain.
Tooru looks up from the grain of rice stuck on the corner of Iwaizumi's mouth to see stunned green eyes staring back at him. "What did you say?"
"... What did I say?" Tooru blinks and swallows hard, laying down his chopsticks and is unsure of what exactly had happened just moments before Iwaizumi putting down his chopsticks onto the table.
"That you lo—"
Tooru jumps up so fast that he bangs his knee against the kotatsu, hissing out in pain before looking at his bare wrist for the time. "WHOA!! Would you look at the time, Iwa-chan! It's almost time for me to clean my plants! Can't let my rocks and stuff get all gross and mouldy!"
"AND it's also time for Hajime-chan to get some fresh fertilizer—" Tooru is making a beeline towards his room, pushing the door open so fast that it nearly slams into the wall behind it. "I'm sorry, Iwa-chan, this is very important and I won't have any time to do anything else tonight despite us making plans three weeks prior to now about watching that movie I've been trying not to spoil! Maybe you can enjoy it yourself because it's so good that it’ll definitely become a classic!"
"Just leave the dishes in the sink and I'll do them in the morning because," Tooru yawns extra loud and stretches to make sure his point gets across, even for someone as dense as Iwaizumi. "I'm just so tired today."
"Goodnight!" He clicks the door shut (it takes everything for him not to slam it) and locks it for good measure, the image of Iwaizumi's stunned and mildly annoyed expression seared to the back of his eyelids. His heart is clawing its way up into his throat and his stomach is doing some massive high dives as he leans against the door. He hears Iwaizumi turn up the volume of the television (the laughter from the television is now as loud as the heartbeat in his ears, pounding inside his head).
He fucked up.
He'd done himself in for good.
He looks up at his terrarium, winking innocently in the dim glow from the streetlights below, and slides down against the door, putting his face into his hands.
Tooru avoids Iwaizumi for a good two weeks because he is very good at running away from his problems.
In fact, he is so efficient that he still manages to make lunches for Iwaizumi and clean the house and take care of his blooming terrarium. Of course, Iwaizumi still returns his lunches scraped clean of scraps with a thank you note posted by the sink every evening when Tooru returns home from university.
However, living in an enclosed space with someone that you are trying to avoid means that it is nearly impossible to keep avoiding them, and Tooru is smarter than thinking that this avoiding thing can go on for longer than it has already.
"We need to talk."
"No, we don’t," Tooru chirps back, reaching over the mess of homework and terrarium maintenance tools on dining table for Iwa-chan Number Fifteen and places it into the glass bowl cradled in his lap before closing the lid. He then sets his sparkling clean terrarium near the edge of the table, away from the clutter, refusing to look over at the hallway where Iwaizumi is standing while pretending to go back to his homework. He can, however, see Iwaizumi’s long shadow that spills into the dining room.
"Oikawa…" Iwaizumi’s voice is slow and steady. "Look—"
"No, Iwa-chan," Tooru finally looks up, against every fibre in his consciousness, eyes greedily gliding over every detail of his best friend’s ever-so handsome face after two weeks’ worth of absence. "Just give me some time and I’ll grow out of it." Which… is highly unlikely due to Tooru’s sort of
obsessive devoted personality, the length of time Tooru has spent being in love with his best friend, and the amount of emotional investment he’s put into Iwaizumi. But! Iwaizumi doesn’t need to know any of this. Tooru gives Iwaizumi a hopefully convincing enough smile. "Nothing has to change between us."
The chair across from him scrapes against the floor and squeaks when Iwaizumi seats himself on it with a heavy sigh, setting his keys next to Tooru’s terrarium on the table. "We need to talk about this, Oikawa. You’ve been running away from me for weeks." Iwaizumi says with more heat than he obviously feels. Tooru isn’t sure if Iwaizumi is trying to convince him or himself. "It’s obviously eating you up on the inside—"
"It’s only been two weeks," Tooru mutters softly under his breath.
Iwaizumi’s eyes narrow. "Can you stop being a smartass and cutting me off? I’m trying to talk here."
Tooru shifts his gaze, unable to meet his best friend’s. There’s no beating around the bush anymore, Tooru tells himself. "What’s there to say? I’ve already ruined it all. Just give it a rest, Iwa-chan."
Iwaizumi snorts. "You don't mean that."
"I do." Tooru would be lying if he says that Iwaizumi’s words don't sting like a slap across his face. He is clearly hurting here and how dare Iwaizumi make light of his angsty feelings. And Tooru knows that Iwaizumi knows he doesn't joke about things like love (okay, maybe only sometimes). Because who the fuck, in their right state of mind, would ever confess to their best friend (in the whole wide world) the way he did? He didn’t even manage to grab a bottle of champagne and a bouquet of roses and… Tooru clenches his hands together under the table.
From across the table, his best friend is staring at him with an unreadable expression on his face. "When have you ever meant anything you said?"
Ouch. Tooru catches the moment the words leave his best friend’s lips and the moment where he looks as if he wants to take them all back, as if they weren’t the words he’d meant to say.
He breathes out a long shuddering breath, eyes flickering to his terrarium, the glass winking innocently under the dining room light.
"You can't just do this to me." Iwaizumi ploughs on, despite the guilt rolling off him in waves, glaring at a spot next to Tooru stubbornly, refusing to look at him. "I didn’t even get a chance to say anything and you’re already making me say these things that— ugh. I need to regroup. I can’t think with you around. You make me so—"
Then, it happens in slow motion.
Tooru watches helplessly as Iwaizumi sweeps his arm out for his keys, fingers just catching on the edge of his dome of glass— his little world filled to the brim with years of memories, love, and Iwaizumi— sending it hurtling towards the ground at a speed that Tooru might describe as the fastest and the slowest five seconds he’s ever experienced in his life.
His terrarium shatters upon impact, and the sound of breaking glass rings in his ears for another few long seconds before Tooru falls from his chair onto his knees in front of the mess. He begins to sweep silently (desperately) at whatever hasn't been destroyed, gathering it into a pile of dirt, glass, plants, and rocks (Iwa-chans).
Above him, Iwaizumi stirs. "Oikawa." He stops before trying again. "Tooru, I didn’t mean to—"
"That’s okay." Tooru knows. He knows it's an accident even when he picks up the flattest, roundest, and smoothest rock from his messy pile of debris (Iwa-chan Number One) and holds it close to his chest. Knowing that is it an accident doesn't stop his hands from shaking as he folds in on himself with deep breaths, trying to calm himself before his eyes start to leak. "It’s just some silly plants and crap anyway. Aren’t you always complaining about it?" He laughs and it sounds contorted and foreign in his own ears. He doesn’t mean any of the words that are coming out of his mouth, but the lost look on Iwaizumi’s face makes him do things that he really can’t explain even if it hurts himself some more.
He should've kept his mouth shut and lied until his dying breath.
He should've kept a lid on his feelings even though they were growing uncontrollably like the plants and rock collection within his terrarium, almost bursting at the seams.
Everything he's built, grown, and loved with all his heart— all scattered across the worn hardwood floor of their apartment.
Iwaizumi is quiet behind him and for the first time in his life, Tooru isn’t sure if he can handle any words from his best friend right now. A few more beats of silence pass in Iwaizumi’s tense hesitance before Tooru hears the decisive jingle of keys echoing throughout the apartment.
Soon after, the door gently clicks shut behind him and he finally lets himself cry.
It takes about a good ten minutes after Iwaizumi’s departure for Tooru to calm down enough to pick himself up and gather all the drinking glasses in the apartment. He saves Hajime-chan first. Then, he quickly sorts through the salvageable Iwaizumi-chans and dirt before placing his Iwa-chans off to the side until he can find another container for them.
An hour and a half of meticulous and efficient work later, Tooru takes a look around the room. Other than his coffee table, littered with about a dozen drinking glasses filled with relocated portions of his terrarium, nothing seems terribly out of place. Feeling a little better, he begins to clean up the rest of the mess Iwaizumi left in his accidental destructive wake with a soft sigh under his breath.
Tooru doesn't see Iwaizumi for a whole week.
The coffee table is still covered with drinking glasses filled with dirt, plants, and a small mountain of rocks he’s scrubbed clean from the debacle a week ago since he hadn’t the time to buy another terrarium.
Hajime-chan doesn't live through the whole ordeal, but his Iwaizumi-chans do (thank god).
Does he still make lunches for Iwaizumi? Of course, he’s the one who suggested that nothing should change between them.
Does Iwaizumi still clean the containers after scraping the whole thing clean? You bet.
But something about their relationship has fundamentally changed, and Tooru is not sure if he will ever able to repair it to its original state (is it even repairable?). In fact, the change is so tangible that it affects every inch of their apartment that Tooru sometimes can’t bear to be alone sometimes. The change somehow makes their shared space colder than before and more impersonal. It also somehow makes the shadows darker and the silence louder.
Tooru burrows himself further into his blankets and screams wordlessly into his pillows.
He really didn’t mean to mess this all up.
Can he really fix it?
Several options play out in his head. He can either apologize and laugh it off as a joke even though it’s probably too late. Or, he can just pretend nothing happened. Or, he can even pick up a girlfriend to convince Iwaizumi that he’s no longer interested (okay, that’s a shitty thing to do but he will do shitty things for Iwaizumi). Oh, or he can even move to a different country and change his name and—
Tooru grinds the heels of his palms into his eyes, kicking his feet in frustration before flopping back onto his bed, emotionally exhausted from thinking so much. This must be how Iwaizumi feels all the time. But out of all those options, Tooru very consciously knows that none of them involve Iwaizumi’s flat out rejection and potential discontinuation of their friendship because that is the single scenario he cannot seem to pan out in his mind (he can, but he really isn’t that much of a masochist).
Rolling his eyes skyward, he blinks at the bare ceiling for a moment before throwing off his blankets and pulling on his coat and socks. After a solid week of sulking around and pampering himself to make himself feel better about ruining the only good thing in his life, Tooru doesn’t plan on wrecking it by refusing himself some late-night milk bread even if it means he must finally leave his room for the first time that day.
The sky is already dark by the time Tooru leaves his room. The moonlight peeking through the clouds and seeping into the dining room is only dim enough to outline the glasses on his coffee table and light a barely visible path towards the entrance door (when did he push all the glasses to one side of the table?). Beside his neatly lined up pair of Converse, Iwaizumi’s Nikes are missing.
He must still be at school, Tooru decides as he laces up his shoes. He’s not sure if he should be too concerned (does he even have this right to be concerned anymore?) about Iwaizumi’s studying habits for the past few months (he’s thankful that the busy-ness isn’t because of his confession… is it?). But who is he to say when he’s the one who worked himself silly back in middle school?
Well, he had (maybe still has? He doesn’t know.) Iwaizumi to pull him back from that cliff.
Who does Iwaizumi have?
Tooru grabs his keys off the table and closes the door gently behind him as he makes his way towards the convenience store just a few blocks away.
The convenience store is as quiet as it always is around this time at night.
There are a few people milling about, tiredly glancing at the discounted lunch boxes and sandwiches displayed neatly in the open cooler. Tooru watches a bespectacled young woman maybe in her mid-twenties or so, who picks up a bottle of hot tea and a sandwich before making her way to the ice cream, her iPhone screen pink with hundreds of pictures of the cherry blossom that just started blooming just recently. He smiles as her when she passes by him and she nods back politely with a smile before going back to her selection of pink photos, seemingly deep in thought about which ones are the most social media worthy.
He makes his way to the bread aisle in a few strides, eyes gleaning through the assortment of bread. Chocolate… kabocha… purple yam… He picks through them all until he finds the milk bread, examining the packet as he meanders towards the cashier. He mindlessly checks his phone as places his item on the counter, rifling through his pocket for the 500 yen coin he knows is somewhere in his pocket when—
"The total comes to 120 yen, plea— Oikawa?"
He’d recognize that voice anywhere. Tooru’s head shoots up and he blinks. "Iwa-chan?"
Iwaizumi looks just as surprised to see him despite working only about ten minutes away from their apartment. Before either of them could say another word, the employee door swings open to reveal one Kuroo Tetsurou moonwalking onto his shift, spinning around while doing the robot.
"Yo, Iwaizumi. You’re done for the night, right? Go home and study with your boyfrie…" Kuroo blinks at Tooru before blinking at Iwaizumi. And in a flash, his surprised expression melts into one reeking of sleaziness. "Have a great night, Iwa-chan~"
"You never told me you worked there."
"Well, I don’t have to tell you anything." Iwaizumi grumbles half-heartedly, kicking at the ground before readjusting the giant shopping bag on his shoulder.
Tooru frowns. "I didn’t know you worked with Kuroo Tetsurou, either."
Iwaizumi stops in his tracks, running a hand through his spiky hair with a growl. "I wasn’t trying to hide it or anything. He actually lives pretty close to us and I keep bumping into him on the train to school and he told me they were hiring."
Tooru stops as well, turning around to face his best friend. Even under the dim lighting of Tokyo street lamps, Iwaizumi Hajime is a sight to behold. The shadows seem to accentuate his strong (and scowly) features, bringing out his green eyes. His eyebrows are bunched in just the way that tickles Tooru’s fancy and that frown. Oh, that frown.
"I didn’t even know how he got into Tokyo University with that dumb expression he’s always wearing. Well, it’s not like I have anything against him anyway."
"Yeah, right," Iwaizumi snorts. "You always cry about his blocking all your moves during practice matches against my school."
They stand still for a moment and Tooru shifts on his feet. His fingers tingle from the cold and he wriggles them for a few seconds before stuffing his hands into his coat pockets.
This feeling. This banter.
It comes so easily, and it’s so familiar, that it makes Tooru ache with want. However, his heart is still a bit sore from the fight, much like how his hands are still marred by the many cuts from cleaning up the broken pieces of his glass terrarium a week earlier. "Iwa-chan… Let’s just go home, okay? I don’t really want to start talking about Kuroo and his stupid blocks."
Another few seconds tick by before Iwaizumi licks his lips. It's something that he always does when he is nervous, although Tooru isn't sure why Iwaizumi is nervous because there's no reason for him to be. "I don’t want to go home yet." He watches as Iwaizumi contemplates, observing the way his best friend gapes like a fish out of water in a few aborted attempts to say something else.
Finally, Iwaizumi sets the giant shopping bag down onto the ground and crouches over it, back towards Tooru. Then slowly but surely— like everything he does— Iwaizumi pulls out the item in the bag, holding it in his hands for a beat before turning around with a whirl of determination.
There, in Iwaizumi’s hands, sits a beautiful glass bowl with a circular lid, one much larger than the little glass container he'd received in high school (and Iwaizumi had just broken) so many years ago; one that is currently storing all of his dirt and sticks and rocks (all his memories and feelings and love) that Tooru's collected over the years.
Iwaizumi must’ve been the one who moved the glasses on the table.
Tooru holds his breath, pulling a hand out from his pocket before gently cupping the side of the terrarium, his world rebuilt and put back together in the most breath-taking way possible. The gentle slope of the moss and the artistic arrangement of all his rocks… And oh, the center piece, a begonia that resembles so much to Hajime-chan and… an orchid (is it?) right beside the flattest, roundest, and smoothest rock inside his little planet.
... and perching on the little orchid, is a delicate silver band glinting in the dark from the dim street lamp.
Tooru slowly raises his gaze, locking eyes with Iwaizumi. and is startled by the intensity of Iwaizumi’s green gaze boring into his own.
Then, out of nowhere, "Marry me," Iwaizumi blurts, as graceful as a newborn giraffe stumbling on its wobbling legs.
"What?" Tooru has never been known as tactful off the court.
"Wait, wait. How? What? Why?"
"If you’re serious about this, then so am I." Tooru watches as Iwaizumi shoves the bowl under his nose, green eyes glittering with embarrassment and resolve as strong as titanium. "So, marry me. If you don’t have the guts to see this until the end, then we’re not going to start."
For some reason, Tooru’s vision begins to blur as something crawls up his throat and sits there. "What…?"
"You never gave me a chance to say anything," Iwaizumi says, rolling his shoulders before cracking his neck. "And then after the whole thing with me breaking your plant thing… I thought that… well, maybe action speaks louder than words. If you’re just going to deny and reject everything I say, then I’m going to fucking show you so hard that you won’t be able to run away from me anymore."
"But…" Tooru continues to be choked up by his own feelings, unable to articulate his rampaging thoughts while his heart kickboxes wildly in his ribcage. This can’t be happening. He never played it out in his head. This wasn’t one of the options…!
Iwaizumi continues, oblivious to Tooru’s inner turmoil. "Seriously, did you really think that someone who doesn’t love you would ever be able to put up with your crap for the last twenty-some-odd years of their life?"
Tooru keeps staring. In fact, he stares for so long that he swears that his eyeballs are stretching like the neck of a giraffe reaching for the greenest leaves on a tree.
This can’t be happening.
"It’s always just been us. Me and you. Hajime and Tooru. I don’t think we could be any other way." And Tooru drinks it all in. The way Iwaizumi cheekily grins as his own comment, pushing the terrarium against Tooru’s face, and barking out a laugh while flushing to the tips of his ears. Iwaizumi licks his lips again, gaze shifting onto the ground before shifting back to Tooru. "Sorry it took so long for me to come up with an adequate answer but… if you’ll still have me… Marry me."
Tooru brings up his other hand to cradle the cool glass, gently pulling the terrarium towards him, off Iwaizumi’s hands, and pressing a kiss to the lid of the dome, eyes glassing over before spilling down his cheeks. "I’m really hard to deal with."
"Yeah, I know."
"I have a really shitty personality even though I’m a try-hard, and I get jealous easily."
"Sometimes I’m needlessly harsh on myself and get sort of obsessive."
"I like aliens, and I’m really really really in love with you."
"I know," Iwaizumi replies, pulling Tooru and his terrarium into his arms, mindlessly carding his fingers through Tooru’s hair. "I’ve known for a long time now, but I didn’t expect you to actually say something about it. It sort of threw me off the loop since I was going to do something about it, you know? You always call me dumb, but I must be blind to not realize how you feel all these years. And you must be even dumber to not realize how I feel about you."
Iwaizumi chuckles and Tooru feels it all the way into his bones. "No, you."
Tokyo life continues as always.
Tooru continues to play volleyball and
Iwaizumi Hajime continues to study (usually until he drops).
Tooru continues to make lunches and Hajime continues to clean the containers before bringing them home.
They do make sure to make time for each other at least two or three times a week to do menial things like watch movies together, cleaning the terrarium together, or taking walks and picking up rocks together.
Tooru continues to keep up with his journal and Hajime leaves him alone when he's writing it (most of the time).
Nothing really changes (other than the fact that they are now free to over-indulge in displays of affection), and that’s the beauty of it all.
"Okay, tell me the truth. How did you even find out how I felt?"
"Hmm?" Hajime tilts his head back thoughtfully, sinking into the couch. "To be honest, I think I always sort of knew… but it didn’t really hit home until I found those journals you keep."
Pausing in the midst of trying to stuff his face into Hajime’s armpit, Tooru pulls back and looks at Hajime, face blanching. "You… what?"
Hajime shrugs, trying to act nonchalant even though there is a blush slowly crawling up his neck. "Remember that one time I tried to clean your terrarium for you? Well, I had to find out how to clean it and replant it after I accidentally mushed a few mosses. So, I went through your books and stuff while you were out. I didn’t know you were still keeping rocks here though." He scratches behind his neck and throws an embarrassed grin at Tooru. "The journals were definitely creepy… in this sort of endearing way. I didn’t know you think about me that much."
"Oh my fucking God. Don’t."
"When did you even get the ring?"
Hajime rubs the back of his neck, a flush crawling up his chest steadily. "I… uh… uhm… actually saved quite a bit through that moving job."
Tooru shifts closer, pressing his face into Hajime’s bare chest. "Then what about the convenience store job?"
"Ahh… That was just to buy the new terrarium and to replace the begonia and to buy that orchid… You know, you’re asking a lot of questions tonight." Hajime raises an eyebrow. "Okay, my turn. About those notebooks and those rocks…"
"OH! WILL YOU LOOK AT THE TIME," Tooru exclaims, stretching dramatically and languidly, glancing at his bare wrist for the time. "Gosh golly, I have a six am practice session tomorrow and if I don’t sleep—"
"I don’t think the world can handle panda eyes on a beautiful creature like me!"
Tooru pulls the blankets up to his eyes, peering up at Hajime through his bangs, hoping that this angle will make him cute enough to distract Hajime from questioning any further.
"Iwaizumi! Congratulations on your engagement," Kuroo grins as he steps past Hajime and into the threshold of the apartment, pulling off his baseball cap and fanning himself with it. "God, this summer is going to be disgusting isn’t it? It’s mid-spring and it’s already like this… Ohh! Is that the Shittykawa that you’ve been talking about at work?" Kuroo makes a beeline towards the dining room table, face pressing up again a glass container with a rather giant dung beetle hanging out.
"It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure." Matsukawa yawns from the dining room, tossing a can of Asahi beer towards Kuroo before lazily flicking through the channels on the television.
Hanamaki emerges from the kitchen, balancing a bowl of chips and a bowl of gummy candies in each hand. "Mattsun, they’ve been married since we met them. This is just a formality thing, I’m sure. Yanno, the if you like it, put a ring on it thing."
Tooru pouts from the feet of the couch, pulling his knees up to his chest. "You guys are all so rude. See if I’m inviting you to my wedding!"
"You don’t have to. Iwaizumi’s already done it." Matsukawa picks his ear with his pinky finger and wipes the earwax onto Tooru’s hair.
"That's gross!! Iwa-chan, I can't believe you invited these heathens!"
Hajime shrugs. "Well, they helped me orchestrate this whole thing. Matsukawa was the one who told me to check your plant book for that begonia, Hanamaki was the one who came with me to the plant store for that glass bowl, and Kuroo was the one who came with me to pick out the ring."
Tooru covers his face with his hands, ears red with embarrassment. "Fuck off you guys. I’m going to treat you all to yakiniku tonight and force you all to eat until you puke."
"What do you think our parents will say about this?"
"Nothing. Because I told them already."
Tooru shoots up in their new wide double bed, glaring down at Hajime, who stubbornly remains in his big spoon position. "What the fuck, Iwaizumi Hajime."
"Do you really think I’d propose without taking the proper measures first?"
Tooru leans down, coming face-to-face with Hajime’s sleepy expression. "This means that this," he gestures between them, "is real."
"Seriously. What the fuck are you going off about now?" Hajime growls, his eyes peeling open to glare back at Tooru. "Of course it's real."
Struck with a sudden inspiration of appreciation, Tooru leans down to Hajime's ear. "I love you, Hajime," Tooru huffs, pulling at a stray strand of dark hair by Hajime's earlobe before leaning back with a Cheshire Cat grin. Hajime blinks in surprise, his temper fizzling out from him in an instance.
"I love you too."
"No take-backs, ok? There's not going to be a return policy on this relationship, not even with a receipt. You're going to be stuck with me, and I'm going to write all about it in my journal." Tooru chirps, pressing a kiss to Hajime’s temple before snuggling close again.
Hajime rolls his eyes. "Even if there is a return policy, what are you going to give back to me? All you've got are those rocks I've given you."
Tooru mock gasps. "You've been buying me out with rocks all these years?"
"It worked, didn't it?" Hajime replies easily with a shrug, smirking at Tooru. "Low risk, high payback. You've got to be really stupid to not invest in that."
Tooru is snarked into silence for a moment (he really doesn't know what to say to that underhanded compliment, but wow) before he begins to speak again. "What are we going to do once we graduate?"
Hajime flops onto his back, snaking an arm under Tooru's neck and pulling him close. "Marry. You’ll go play volleyball, and I’ll go find a job. Maybe adopt kids. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out."
Out of the corner of Tooru’s eye, he catches a glimpse of his terrarium resting on the table— filled with dirt, rocks, mosses, and plants— finally large enough to contain all the years of his feelings (of appreciation, thank-you's, sorry's, laughter, and love), all packed into a little tiny world that he can call his own. It's so incredibly beautiful.
"… Hey, do you think we should serve pizza instead of cake at our wedding?"
"I don’t know. I mean, I’d like to, but I don’t think our parental units would be impressed by it. Maybe we can have pizza for dessert instead? Like I said, we’ll figure it out. We always do."