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Something Borrowed

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Iwaizumi Hajime was born just a month before Tooru, sudden screaming arrivals next door to each other in their cluttered little residential street. For their families, it had made sense to pool childcare, and so since they were the littlest of babies, they've been tucked into cradles and playpens together, fallen asleep with their tiny hands clutched together. "So sweet," Iwa-chan's mother used to say, and Tooru's mom used to tease, "Maybe one day Hajime-kun will have Tooru for his bride." Growing up Tooru used to hear this teasing all the time, but it made perfect sense to him: of course one day when Iwa-chan was older, and Tooru was older, they would put on nice kimonos and get married so that they'd never be apart again, and their parents couldn't separate them just because it was getting dark and it was time for dinner.

Iwa-chan's campus and Tokyo Medical University Hospital are both in Shinjuku, so when they'd gone apartment-hunting in the city, Iwa-chan had said, "Don't make the commute too awful for me, Shittykawa," and disappeared back into his books. If Tooru had left it to Iwa-chan, they'd probably have ended up in some terrible spot halfway between Shinjuku and Koto, where FC Tokyo practices, and they'd both be miserable.

It's much better this way, with their cute little third-floor walk-up in Takadanobaba on a quiet residential street. There's a row of bicycles out front, and it's a six-minute walk to the station, just a few hops way from Iwa-chan's campus, and a 40 minute ride to Tooru's gym. There's a balcony for their laundry — because Iwa-chan's an old man, and thinks all their clothing smells weird unless it's dried in fresh air — and plenty of sun in for the little greenhouse Tooru's cultivating in the tatami room: a droopy English ivy and a voluble philodendron, a jade plant with chubby fingers and a wispy spider plant, the green cloud of an asparagus fern. Tooru never thought he'd picked up his Okaa-chan's green thumb, but he loves the sight of them: bright green and thriving.

Sunday mornings are Tooru's favorite: he doesn't have practice, and Iwa-chan takes the morning off from studying. They go to the grocery stores early, and after they get home, Iwa-chan cooks lunch and Tooru fusses over their little garden. They have just enough time to watch a dumb movie and fall asleep under the kotastu before the alarm goes off telling Iwa-chan to go meet his study group at the library.

It's not the easy everyday togetherness of their childhood, but it's not the awful loneliness of Tooru's first year in Tokyo, either, when he'd been on the development team and Iwa-chan had been back in Sendai taking a ronin year to study for his entrance exams. Tooru had lived in a dismal little studio apartment with a leaking sink and lied about eating combini food all the time, and he used to cry on the walk home from the gym because he missed his house and his mom and his Iwa-chan so badly.

"Oi, Trash-kawa, you're probably scaring the locals," Iwa-chan used to yell at him over the phone, but his voice had sounded as awful and tired as Tooru felt.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he had lied, and scrubbed at his face with the cuffs of his team jacket on the street, at the Family Mart, walking into his shabby little building with its dark and dusty hallways. "Oikawa-san is as sparkling as ever."

The day Iwa-chan had texted, Tokyo Medical, and followed up with, do you wanna be roommates or are you attached to that shithole I had to drive you back to last month? Tooru had screamed in dizzying, embarrassing joy at the combini checkout line and been forced to abandon all his purchases to run out — immediately — into the night and call Iwa-chan to scream in dizzying, embarrassing joy right into his ear.

And even though the days are still tough and the nights are still long, Tooru gets to come home to the sound of the TV chattering on low, Iwa-chan moving around their apartment, the green bobbing leaves of their plants.

 Sometimes Tooru forgets how strange it must be, on the outside looking in on them.

Even now, it's still rare to see an alpha and an omega living together without wedding rings and family registries getting involved, and Iwa-chan gets a lot of dirty looks from old biddies in the neighborhood when they realize that nice young married couple in the building next door isn't married at all. (Another reason it was lucky Tooru had done the apartment hunting: there was no way Iwa-chan would have been brazen enough to ignore the landlady's poorly concealed disapproval when she'd seen the application papers for her new tenants.) People must think, "oh, those young people, where are their morals? living in sin before marriage?" and, "how irresponsible, they'll just get carried away during a heat or a rut, and have to make it official anyway — why delay?"

But the truth isn't anything like that at all: they sleep in separate rooms, and they've only ever kissed once. They were 8, and Tooru had a meltdown because he'd seen a cute omega boy from the other side of the neighborhood hold Iwa-chan's hand for almost 15 seconds before Iwa-chan had pulled away. Even now, a full two decades later, Tooru can remember his panicked fury, the way he'd felt his tiny heart going nuclear in his chest until Iwa-chan had said, "Ugh," and kissed him, rough and impatient and with a loud smack, right on the lips. He'd demanded, "Are you happy now?" but he'd been blushing as he'd said it, and Tooru had been so shocked he'd gone mute, been quiet all afternoon, holding Iwa-chan's hand and feeling unaccountably shy, trailing him home.

Tooru remembers overhearing one of his mother's friends laughing, "Gosh, Tooru-kun and Hajime-kun are just a foregone conclusion, aren't they?" and his mother answering:

"A little, but it's so sweet — and it's good to know someone will be taking care of him."

For years, Tooru had clutched that close to the heart, waiting for the foregone conclusion to arrive. But his first heat came and went — leaving behind all kinds of horrible new rules: no more sleepovers, no visiting during his time of the month — and then high school came and went, and there were no conclusions to be had. After a while even Tooru had to admit that maybe everybody had been wrong; he tried not to think about it too much because it hurt the way his knee does: a chronic ache, something they can't fix, that he's learned to cope with since there aren't any other options.

But sometimes, when he's out and about, someone they know only a little will say, "How's your husband doing?" and Tooru will flash them his biggest, brightest smile and say, "Still busy — first-year interns, you know!"

It's sort of pathetic and exactly the kind of underhanded thing Iwa-chan would give him grief over, but that's why it's staying Tooru's secret, and not Iwa-chan's business at all.

Anyway, the point is they were fine, just fine, until Iwa-chan's dad got involved.

Tooru doesn't like it, but Iwa-chan's family likes to call during Sunday morning grocery runs. He knows it's mean, because obviously Auntie Iwaizumi misses her son, too, but honestly Tooru has Iwa-chan all to himself for maybe 12 waking hours a week. But sometimes, it's nice, too, hearing Iwa-chan's side of the conversation as they buy cabbage and carrots, pick through the shitake mushrooms and try to remember if there's any red miso left.

"Ah," Iwa-chan says, when they're buying negi.

"No," Iwa-chan says, when they're looking at all the fruit, so expensive it makes Tooru's toes curl, even though the strawberries look amazing: dark red like rubies and gleaming.

"It's fine," Iwa-chan says, and it takes Tooru a minute to realize it's directed at him, and then Iwa-chan's grabbing a box of strawberries and putting it in their basket, even though it's going to cost an arm and a leg. "Ah — nothing. Just Oikawa was looking at fruit — no, we're fine. Mom, we have enough money."

Tooru leans over Iwa-chan's shoulder so he can sing-song, "Don't worry, Auntie! I'm a very reliable breadwinner!"

Iwa-chan puts a hand in Tooru's face in shoves him away — rude — and says, "Ah? Dad? What is it?"

Tooru touches Iwa-chan on the hip, points down the aisle, and Iwa-chan nods before turning back to the phone call, mumbling, "Um — I think so, why?" Tooru goes to buy milk bread and Iwa-chan's awful dried fish strips, in the orange plastic bag, more dish detergent, and Iwa-chan's drying, horrible bar soap he likes. He buys more houjicha, a new thermos to replace the one that's been leaking all over Iwa-chan's books for a week, and he elbows past a bunch of neighborhood homemakers to grab two dozen vitamin jelly packs on buy two get two free sale. By the time he meets Iwa-chan in the dairy aisle, his arms are full, and normally this would be when Iwa-chan would sigh and say, "You always get too much stuff in one trip," except today he's just holding a carton of milk staring like an idiot into the refrigeration case, slack-jawed.

"But — Dad," Iwa-chan is saying, and Tooru stops at the end of the aisle, worried.

In Iwa-chan's second year of medical school Uncle Iwaizumi had gone to the hospital with chest pains. It had turned out all right, but he still remembers getting that awful phone call at 2 a.m. from Auntie because Iwa-chan was so tired he'd slept through six calls from home, having to wake him, the awful drive back to Miyagi, the dingy yellow tiles of the hospital hallway. He'd missed practice for two days, running errands and helping his Okaa-chan cook. Iwa-chan doesn't cry — he always says that's Tooru's job because he's the worst like that — but he'd cried that first night in the hospital: from relief that it was just a small heart attack, from worry, and Tooru remembers sitting hand in hand with Iwa-chan in the hospital hallway, pretending not to see anything.

"I just — ! It's completely — ! Fine," Iwa-chan snarls and hangs up the phone, and Tooru snaps into action when he sees the way Iwa-chan's gorilla-fist is squeezing the carton in a way that means imminent milk explosion on aisle seven.

"Iwa-chan," Tooru hisses, dumping his armful into their shopping basket and peeling Iwa-chan's fingers off of the milk. "Let go!"

The milk actually has cartoonish finger wrinkles on it, and Tooru puts it in their cart because there's brazen and then there's being rude to people who aren't Iwa-chan, and starts steering them out of the grocery store.

"Well?" he asks, once they're in line to and pay and the vein in Iwa-chan's forehead looks less like it's going to explode. "What was that about? Is Uncle okay?"

The vein throbs again. "He's fine," Iwa-chan growls, and mumbles, "Sorry," to the poor checkout boy — a tiny omega probably no older than 18 — who'd visibly flinched.

"Ignore him, he's just cranky," Tooru sweeps in to say, flashing the kid a million-watt grin and nudging Iwa-chan out of the way.

Iwa-chan had had one last growth spurt at the very end of high school, and closed the height difference between them, which was firstly infuriating for Tooru, and secondly problematic for the poor people who had to interact with Iwa-chan regularly, since now he was even taller, built like a brick house, and had the kind of face that left you instantly afraid you were going to get your ass kicked. One day, he was going to be a terrifying doctor.

They manage to make it out of the grocery store, their breath clouding and a shiver stealing through him, and Tooru trots up next to Iwa-chan, their arms pressed together. Tooru can feel how tense Iwa-chan's muscles are, through his jacket, the hunch of his shoulders, and he wonders what Uncle said, if Auntie's okay. If Iwa-chan says Tooru talks too much, then Tooru thinks it's fair to say that Iwa-chan talks too little: everything he thinks and feels compressed into some angry fist in his throat — and then it's Tooru's job to dig and dig and dig until he figures it out so he can fix it.

"So Uncle is okay?" Tooru presses, waving at a little alpha girl who lives nearby: she has two long braids and a transparently adorable crush on Tooru, based on the blushing. "Is Auntie okay?"

"Leave it alone, Shittykawa," Iwa-chan grunts, hangs a left down their little street.

Tooru shakes his head. "No, nope," he declares. "It would be irresponsible — you almost went Incredible Hulk on our grocery store dairy aisle."

"Fine," Iwa-chan mutters. "They're both dead. They called me from beyond the grave."

"You're awful," Tooru says, stomping his foot, leaning against Iwa-chan's shoulder hard as he checks the mailbox: bills, magazines, a letter from the bank. Tooru presses his forehead into the familiar broadness of Iwa-chan's back and says, quiet, "I care about them, too, you know."

Iwa-chan freezes for a beat at the mailbox, his entire body tensed, and it's a long time before he lets out a sigh — exhausted, and says, "Yeah — come on. Let's go inside first."

Iwa-chan's never just been Tooru's childhood friend; it's easier to explain it that way, but it's never been completely honest. They were always too close; they didn't split off for their own interests, their own more-appropriate friends as they grew older. They had clung, stubbornly and against all odds, to one another through three different schools and multiple decades.

"Don't you ever wonder if there's someone you're missing out on?" Tooru's sister used to ask him, when she'd bring Takeru home and their parents were off spoiling their first grandchild.

"No," Tooru had told her, unshakeable then and unshakeable now with certainty. "There's no one better in this world than Iwa-chan."

She'd flushed, despairing, embarrassed for him, and said, "I can't believe you two."

"I believe us," Tooru had said, stubborn, and he meant it then as he means it now.

Maybe he's being an idiot; maybe the whispers in high school had been right. Tooru's not immune to doubt. But somewhere deep down, he doesn't think he's wrong — to believe, to wait, to trust that Iwa-chan understands.

Except evidently Iwa-chan did not understand.

"God, don't cry," Iwa-chan groans.

"I'm not crying!" Tooru cries, dragging the cuffs of his hoodie — of Iwa-chan's hoodie up to scrub at his face.

"It's just coffee," Iwa-chan says, and to be fair he looks almost as upset about it as Tooru feels, which solves exactly zero problems and makes Tooru feel no better at all. Iwa-chan sighs and reaches over, saying, "Come on, Oikawa — "

"No!" Tooru yells, twisting away because if Iwa-chan gets one of his massive, heavy paws on him Tooru knows he's weak and pathetic and will just let himself get dragged into Iwa-chan's annoyingly chiseled chest and be petted into consolation. "No way! Don't you dare, you — you — you person who goes on omiais."

It's genuinely upsetting that Tooru is 184 cm and a professional athlete and Iwa-chan studies 25 hours a day, and somehow is still strong enough to grab Tooru by the elbow and haul him close, across the length of the sofa until Tooru's pressed up against Iwa-chan, tip to toes.

"God damn it, Shittykawa," Iwa-chan snaps, angry and embarrassed and a little upset the way he always gets a little upset when he makes Tooru cry. "It's not an omiai."

Tooru's not strong enough to break the grip of Iwa-chan's gorilla hands, so he doesn't bother trying, just pushes to keep as much space between them as possible because his stupid lizard brain has been trained since birth to roll over at the smell of Iwa-chan's skin, and right now, he wants to be angry.

"You're going out with some slutty, stupid, husband-hunting omega — "

"If anybody said that about you I'd punch them," Iwa-chan cuts in.

" — extra slutty, extra stupid, extra husband-hunting omega," Tooru says, getting shriller with every syllable, "and you are probably going to wear a suit, and it's the suit I made you buy and you are absolutely the worst and — "

"It's just coffee," Iwa-chan yells. "And I'm only going because Dad's boss asked, okay? It doesn't mean anything!"

Tooru had spent days picking out the single tie he has managed to compel Iwa-chan into owning; he cannot believe someone else is going to reap the fruits of his tender labor. He can't believe Uncle Iwaizumi would betray him this way, after how when they were 12 Uncle Iwaizumi said, "Tooru-kun, you'll have to be patient with our Hajime, he's not very affectionate," and Tooru had said, "Don't worry, I'll wear him down." The traitor.

"What do you mean it means nothing?" Tooru says, and he's crying again, Iwa-chan's angry face going blurry and his contacts feeling weird in his eyes. "This skank — "

"Oh my God," Iwa-chan sighs.

" — probably saw that picture of you Makki took without your shirt on and decided she was going to become some hunky doctor's wife," Tooru wails, and he is completely aware of how crazy he sounds and how ridiculous this is but he's so upset because this is Sunday, and Sunday's are supposed to be nice, and instead this Sunday is the worst. This Sunday will leave a psychic scar on all other Sundays, because probably Iwa-chan will meet this shitty omega girl and decide, "this is fine," and marry her after spending 25 years scent-bonded to Tooru and what if Tooru gets suicidally drunk at their wedding and sleeps with Ushijima.

Iwa-chan sighs again, like he's the one hard done by here, unbelievable, and tugs and tugs at Tooru until he gives in, until Tooru is pressing his face into Iwa-chan's collarbone and fisting his hands into Iwa-chan's shirt. Iwa-chan smells like clean, dark earth on a summer night, a little bit like the ocean, the green bass notes of grass — like something that belongs to Tooru.

"It really is just coffee," Iwa-chan says, gruff and low into Tooru's hair, running a hand down his back. "And Dad already knows that — he knows, okay? He only asked me to go because his boss asked for a favor. Nothing's going to happen, okay?"

Tooru squeezes his eyes shut, curls in more closely to the reassuring, familiar shape of Iwa-chan's body. "I hope she's ugly."

"Such an asshole," Iwa-chan mutters.

"I hope you hate every second of it," Tooru goes on. He sounds muffled and nasal from crying and he means it, every word. "I hope it ruins coffee for you forever."

They spend the rest of the afternoon on the couch watching endless episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. Iwa-chan falls asleep an hour in, and Tooru lets himself press an ear to his chest, listen to the steady, reassuring thud of Iwa-chan's heartbeat, fists his hand in Iwa-chan's shirt.

You're mine, Tooru thinks, his eyes hot and his throat aching and something wild and instinctive sharpening its claws in his belly. I'm not giving you up to anybody.

The next four days are a complete whirlwind, and Tooru may as well live alone.

Iwa-chan's residents are all monsters, so of course he's signed up for ridiculous shifts that have him ghosting into and out of the apartment at weird hours to grab clean clothes and eat things standing in the pale light of the opened refrigerator door, and then vanish again with a go bag for the crash room at the hospital. He leaves notes for Tooru in his increasingly terrible doctor's handwriting saying things like, "hey don't stay up too much" and "whats your practice schedule?" and "when's your next game we have to plan schedules for the next rotation soon." Tooru answers them all on the same Post It note in different-colored pen, with lots of hearts and stars, but it's not the same was saying it into Iwa-chan's shoulder, of telling him over dinner.

And then there's the looming threat of That Homewrecker, too, on the horizon.

Iwa-chan's not home enough for Tooru to grind it out of him, and Uncle Iwaizumi works in corporate auditing so neither he nor his boss are listed on the company website so that route for discovery is right out. Auntie Iwaizumi just said, I don't support this so please don't worry this is his father's madness, which Tooru guesses is comforting in case it comes down to ruining a wedding, but not immediately helpful. His own mother is being shockingly uncooperative about using her city council job to do any digging on behalf of her precious only omega son's behalf, and his father had texted him back, Tooru, don't you think Hajime-kun has suffered enough already.

Tooru's impatient, and this is worse than impatient — this is stagnancy. Any moment now, some random harlot could be aiming to steal his man, and Tooru doesn't have any means to stop this inevitable trainwreck.

He takes it out on his team.

Tooru had been moved from FC Tokyo's development team to the up to the first string by his third year with the club, midway through the second year of Iwa-chan's six years of medical school. It meant more practices and the new addition of away-games, a whole new team of people to figure out and figure out how to charm — so that he could seize a leadership position and subsequently terrorize them into submission.

"Oikawa-san," Morita begs, two hours into practice, "please."

"Mo-ri-chan, you need to be tougher," Tooru sings, and lines up another jump serve at his head, because Morita had the misfortune of being the first teammate who'd asked how Tooru's weekend had gone. Honestly, if Mori-chan's this weak now, he'll never survive Tooru's captaincy when he seizes it by violent force next year.

Tendou-san and Ichikawa-kun, huddled together by the net, raise a fist in solidarity.

"Be strong, Morita!" Ichikawa says.

"Die honorably like a warrior," Tendou suggests.

"You people are the worst!" Morita roars, and shrieks like a child at the serve Tooru's just torpedoed at his face. In Morita's defense, he does manage to connect; to his detriment, the force is such that it bounces immediately into his face.

Leaving a wake of trauma among his teammates only helps manage his anger, not the sickening fear Tooru doesn't want to admit to feeling.

Tooru knows people think he's gaudy, that he's flashy and ridiculous and loud, and he likes basking in the attention from everybody, but Tooru knows — however embarrassing it is — that he needs attention from Iwaizumi Hajime. Iwa-chan doesn't ever want to take pictures together or tell Tooru how cute his hair is, but Iwa-chan buys Tooru strawberries and fixes things around their apartment, helps massage out the awful cramps in Tooru's back pre-heat, runs him hot baths for after. Iwa-chan always knows exactly what to say, or when not to say anything at all. He's been the period at the end of every one of Tooru's sentences, the comforting certainty that lets Tooru try terrifying new things — always knowing how to find his way home.

When they were younger, toward the end of high school, something almost happened.

It was after losing to Karasuno, after handing off the team and all of his high hopes to Yahaba and their other sundry wretched kouhai. It was one of the only other times Tooru had ever seen Iwa-chan cry, and it was so strange and profound the strange profundity of it had carried him through the trip home — through his final rousing speech at their gym. Tooru remembers Coach Irihata telling them he was proud of them all, but by then, a heavy hurt had started to bloom in his chest, the feeling of a massive weight crushing a deepening bruise into his ribs.

His sister had asked if he and Iwa-chan wanted a ride home, and Iwa-chan had texted her back, no, it's okay, and laced their fingers together in the twilight blue of the school courtyard. "You okay with walking?" he'd asked, and Tooru had squeezed Iwa-chan's fingers and said, "Yes," because he was too shy to ask what was happening.

The walk from Aoba Johsai to their street is 40 minutes at a brisk trot, an hour taking your time — that night, it took them almost two to get home.

They stopped by Tooru's favorite bakery, paused at Iwa-chan's preferred vending machine, and they'd poked their heads into two different bookstores looking for new manga releases. Halfway home, in the middle of a bustling shopping district fairly flooded with happy young couples and people hurrying home for dinner, the dam breaks and they end up sitting on a bench in front of a combini while Tooru sobs his heart out. At least six people tell Iwa-chan how rude it is to dump someone in public, which had been Tooru's only consolation. Iwa-chan didn't say anything but he ignored everybody's frowns and just waited, patient, until Tooru had mumbled, "Give me a tissue at least," before giving him a handkerchief and wrapping him into a hug, which got Iwa-chan an entirely different collection of disapproving looks. It was a long time later, after Tooru had cried himself empty of all of his anger and his hurt and was feeling strangely light and a little lightheaded, that Iwa-chan had taken his hand again and asked, "You okay to keep going?" and Tooru realized he was — that somehow, after all, he was.

They stopped at every crossing, unhurried, and talked about everything: how strange it would be not to go to volleyball club anymore, their individual and combined plans to torture Yahaba during the infancy of his tenure as captain, when they'd first started playing, a story Iwa-chan heard off one of their neighbors, Takeru's latest romantic disasters, Auntie Iwaizumi's age-inappropriate crush on the latest Johnny's boy band.

It had been at the little park at the corner of their street, all shaded over from a canopy of leaves, the stars overhead, the streetlights coloring everything sepia yellow and orange — elongating shadows. And standing in the stark lights in dark jeans and a gray hoodie, Iwa-chan had been as handsome as he always was, so quiet and thoughtful, and he'd said, "Hey, Oikawa, wait," before Tooru had turned into their street.

"Hm?" he'd asked, and stepped back toward him, closed the space between them, and Tooru remembers thinking how crazy it was that he was already so used to holding Iwa-chan's hand that he wondered if it would feel strange to let go.

And Iwa-chan had asked, "You — what do you want? After school?"

Tooru remembered thinking, for you to kiss me, and saying, "To keep playing, as well as I can, for as long as I can," instead, because he meant that, too, and it wasn't a dangerous secret like the other one.

Wind had sent the leaves overhead rattling, noisy, and Iwa-chan had smiled at him, all soft-eyed and so strangely patient, and he'd said, "Okay — okay then. I'll support you."

"You — you'll keep playing with me?" Tooru had asked, and like the spoiled child he's always been, he'd tugged on Iwa-chan's hand, pulled him in like Takeru used to, when he was littler and worse-behaved.

Iwa-chan had laughed, a little tired but a lot sweet, and he'd looped one of his stupidly massive muscly arms around Tooru's shoulder. "Idiot-kawa, even if I don't play with you, I'll be with you, okay?" he'd promised, the way only Iwa-chan can make promises, with such certainty it makes Tooru's eyes hot and blurry. "I meant it: you're my partner I'm proud of — "

Tooru had gasped, "Iwa-chan."

" — Shittykawa," he'd finished, deliberate and horrible, and Tooru remembers yelling that at him all the way down their street.

And it wasn't until later that night, after the hot soak and as Tooru had been tucked up in the comfort of his bed, wrapped in the battered-soft cotton of one of Iwa-chan's t-shirts, that he'd realized maybe he'd missed something — that maybe he'd misstepped — but by then, he was already so close to the deep, absolving drop of sleep that he could barely hold onto the thought before he slipped away, towed under the curl of a wave.

The fifth day begins when Iwa-chan sends Tooru a text message saying, sorry too tired to try the train crashing @ hospital can you bring some clothes? and concludes with Tooru making his rounds at Iwa-chan's hospital after practice finishes.

Iwa-chan's a diligent, tireless intern and one day he will be a diligent, tireless doctor, but he's absolutely garbage at relationship management, knowing who to butter up and how to cultivate his professional connections. It's Tooru who forced him to bring 'thank you' presents to his professors, who harangues Iwa-chan into going for drinks with the other interns and offering to pay.

Today, Tooru makes sure to visit all the nurses, pretending to be lost looking for Iwa-chan, and takes the chance to thank them all for taking such good care of such a surly intern. "Oh my goodness, Iwaizumi-sensei didn't say anything about having such a cute bride at home," says one of the nurses, and Tooru does what he always does when people say things like this: he lets himself go pink and pleased at it, ducks his head away shyly, and doesn't say anything otherwise. He's been marking this territory since he was old enough to head butt little kids at preschool; if anything he's more shameless about it now than when they were children.

Once he's conscripted the nurses on the first floor, it's only obvious they want to introduce him to the rest of the hospital staff that Iwaizumi-sensei works with day in and out. And if Tooru just happens to have snacks to share with everyone and stories to tell about how Iwa-chan always talks about how great the radiologists and how smart the nurses are, that's just a wonderful coincidence, isn't it.

"Oh, I don't want to take up too much of your time," he says, and shows everyone the rest of his bag: filled with neatly folded shirts and jeans and underthings, a bento tied up in a Godzilla furoshiki because what's the point of meeting Iwa-chan's coworkers if Tooru can't embarrass him a little. "I just needed to get these to Iwa-chan."

He gets walked up to one of the doctor's lounges, where he snoops through the staff refrigerator and is looking through all the cupboards when he hears someone come into the room and Iwa-chan say, "Hey, Oikawa."

Iwa-chan looks terrible: dark bruises under his eyes, shockingly pale after a whole childhood of being sun-brown from running around outside. He looks thin, and it makes something in Tooru's stomach twist unhappily; he wants to make Iwa-chan eat three dinners and tuck him into bed, perch there watchfully beside him.

He forces himself to smile, brightly beaming, and hold up the shopping bag instead.

"I brought you clothes — and lunch," he chirps, and waves for Iwa-chan to sit. "Oh, and I met all your nice coworkers."

"Of course you did," Iwa-chan muttered, but he says it slumping into the saggy couch nearest to Tooru, gone boneless, eyes drooping. The way Tooru reaches for him is automatic: too many years of sharing space and secrets and volleyball teams. He smoothes a hand over Iwa-chan's hair, still sticking up in all directions, slides his palm down to cup his face, his jaw rough with whiskers and too tense.

"Poor Iwa-chan," Tooru whispers, and he tries to rub out the tension he can feel at the base of Iwa-chan's ear, where Tooru can tell he's gritting his teeth and how it'll make his head and neck hurt later. "When can you come home?"

Iwa-chan only opens one eye to answer him, a little bloodshot and watery, but at least his grin is real. "Tomorrow afternoon," he croaks, leans into Tooru's touch the way a lazy dog would, seeking. "Thanks for coming."

Tooru smiles back. "Of course," he says, quiet and secret, just for Iwa-chan, and because he's sure there will soon be a hundred new rumors about handsome Iwaizumi-sensei zinging around all over the place, Tooru forces himself to pull away and say, "Now! Iwa-chan! Wake up: I made a special bento for you!"

Tooru makes Iwa-chan change and gives him his tea, first, piping hot in the new thermos he'd bought during their Sunday shopping trip, and while Iwa-chan stays crumpled on the sofa and tries to absorb it as quickly as possible without burning out his throat, Tooru heats up lunch. It's nothing fancy, but all good things in large quantities that Iwa-chan's old man stomach likes best: stewed kabocha, green beans with miso and sesame, rice with flaked salmon and little squares of fried tofu with shaved bonito and sauce. None of it does great in the microwave, but Iwa-chan hates cold food and Tooru hates Iwa-chan's unhappiness.

"Eat up!" Tooru orders, and Iwa-chan says, "Uss," compliant like he's some imaginary kouhai they never actually had at the Seijoh VBC. Upon reflection, it was almost like they recruited for openly combative personalities — well, except for Yahaba, of course, who was all polite agreement until he knifed you between the ribs.

"'S good — thanks," Iwa-chan manages, in between making a staggering amount of food vanish, and it makes Tooru warm all over with an embarrassing kind of happiness that sends him off to the vending machine.

In all, Iwa-chan eats the bento, two milk breads Tooru had bought for himself, drinks the thermos of tea, and another bottle of houjicha from the vending machine — all in less than 30 minutes. And as soon as he's done, while Tooru's packing away the chopsticks and tying the furoshiki again, Iwa-chan's slumped over on the couch, halfway asleep already.

Everybody in this hospital thinks that Tooru is Iwa-chan's doting spouse, so it makes sense not to undermine this assumption, he decides. Tooru unfolds the fleece zip-up he brought from home over Iwa-chan like a blanket and sits watch, takes a half-dozen pictures for Auntie Iwaizumi as proof of life for her precious son.

Inevitably, Iwa-chan's pager goes off, and Tooru sighs and strokes a hand over Iwa-chan's temple, says quietly, "Iwa-chan? Iwa-chan — time to wake up," and he does, groggy and groaning while Tooru says, "I know, I'm sorry, but your pager's going

In the end, it's only 25 minutes of sleep on a lumpy staff room couch, but when Iwa-chan says, "Hey, sorry I can't walk out with you," Tooru thinks he looks better, a little.

"Tomorrow afternoon, okay," Tooru confirms.

"Ah, yeah," Iwa-chan says, looking already longing.

"Don't worry about dinner, just come home and sleep," Tooru says, but he gets quieter on every word, struck suddenly with shyness. It's Iwa-chan, after all, who Tooru has known so long that nothing should be embarrassing, but it's also Iwa-chan, who Tooru has loved so well that everything is embarrassing.

So the touch of Iwa-chan's hand on his wrist feels exactly like an electrical pulse, a sharp hum like the stim his physical therapists run through his knee once a week. Tooru doesn't dare to look up, just watches Iwa-chan's thick brown fingers curl around his hand — just closes his own hand over top, trying to keep Iwa-chan close a little longer.

"I'd say don't worry about me, but we both know you will," Iwa-chan says, and this time it's not tiredness that makes his voice gruff. "Just — go home and get some rest, okay? I'll be there before you know it." A pause. "Stop torturing your teammates."

Tooru's head shoots up; he's pouting, he knows it. "I wouldn't have to if you — "

"It's just coffee and work advice," Iwa-chan laughs, and he gives Tooru's hand a squeeze. "I'm meeting her down in the hospital cafeteria."

" — weren't…oh," Tooru says, hamstrung and annoyed for it. "I — well. Still."

Iwa-chan pulls away, his hands taking the longest to leave, and he waves and says, "Go home, okay? Soak. I know you probably overdid it at practice today, Shittykawa."

"Rude," Tooru yells after him, bright red. "And after I was so nice to you, too!"

Tooru gets himself together enough to go, despite the way all the older nurses and hospital staff keep favoring him with tenderly indulging looks — and all the younger ones keep staring daggers.

That's right, be jealous, he thinks, head high, nose in the air, and sails out the hospital doors into the rapidly gathering dusk without giving an inch.

Saturday morning is laundry and the physical therapist, so ordinary a part of Tooru's life it's strange to think that not everybody on the street spends 3 hours a week getting worked over. He has good and bad weeks, better and worse sessions, and this one is particularly terrible. Tooru grits his teeth through the muscle work out, as Nakatomi-sensei runs him through horrible sets. Getting to lie back on the table, getting his knee elevated and iced and stimmed feels like a delirious luxury at the end of the session, and Tooru puts his forearm over his eyes and listens to a volleyball podcast to drown out the nerves, the angry voice in his head that says if he can't at least do this, how will he make the national team? will his stupid knee last until the Olympics? These are questions that Iwa-chan always says are unknowable, that are beyond the reach of even Tooru's worry. And Tooru knows, too, that Iwa-chan is right, but without him right there to say it, it's hard to hold onto the steadiness of it.

He gets home to late afternoon sun, already an aging yellow, but Iwa-chan's shoes are in the genkan and the apartment is immediately, wonderfully more alive with his presence. Tooru peeks into Iwa-chan's room where he's sacked out, so tired it makes Tooru tired to look at him, makes Tooru wants to crawl into bed and curl up with him. But that's a near-constant thing, the lazy tug at the base of his spine all the time, and Tooru just pulls the blankets up around Iwa-chan's wide shoulders and goes off to make dinner.

Tooru's not a natural cook, not the way Iwa-chan is, but he had watched his mom carefully growing up and he still watches Iwa-chan carefully now. He can wash rice and roll tamagoyaki, grill fish and fry tofu, but his nikujagu is grainy because he never remembers to pare off the sharp edges of the potato and he's no good at any Western dishes at all. He still loves eating more than cooking, likes perching at Iwa-chan's shoulder to watch him chop vegetables into neat little strips or pieces, take little sips in tasting dishes to check if the soup needs salt.

The rice cooker is singing at Tooru when he hears the shuffle of Iwa-chan toeing into his slippers, dragging himself around the apartment. There's the fsh-fsh-fsh of him going to the toilet, then the sound of water running and the fsh-fsh-fsh-clack of him stepping into the kitchen. Iwa-chan's hair is even more ridiculous than usual, and he has pillow creases all over his cheek. He's tucked his left hand up underneath his black t-shirt to scratch at — well, Tooru thinks, and whirls around to stare at the cutting board again so he doesn't chop off any of his fingers staring at the dark trail of hair leading into Iwa-chan's sweatpants.

"What time is it?" Iwa-chan says around a massive yawn.

"A little after 6," Tooru tells him, and scrapes the eggplant into the miso soup before asking, "How many hours of sleep did you get?"

Iwa-chan mumbles something incoherent — which means less than he needed or Tooru wants him to get — and comes over nose first like a badly behaved puppy. "Hey, that smells good," he says.

Tooru twists around so he can grin and ask, "Me, or dinner?" and see Iwa-chan get all adorably irritated, except Iwa-chan just looks half asleep and completely out of fucks to give and says, bold as brass:

"I meant dinner — you always smell good."

Tooru drops the ladle. "What?"

"I'm gonna set the table," Iwa-chan says, like he hasn't just — just —

"What?" Tooru repeats.

"Dish up the rice and I'll bring the rest out," Iwa-chan goes on, either oblivious or — or — or he's been replaced by a pod person or he's having a stroke from overwork or — or he's just going to take a big step closer, right into Tooru's space. "Hey, Shittykawa, did you hear what I said?"

"Did you hear what you said?" Tooru screeches.

"Yep," Iwa-chan says, and goes off for the table like this is nothing, like this is normal, and all of this is really upsetting because Iwa-chan's so young and has such a wonderful future ahead of him and this stroke is really going to wreck Tooru's 15 year plan.

Tooru lets himself gape and gasp and mouth, what the fuck? in the safety of the kitchen for another few minutes before Iwa-chan yells, "What the hell, Trash-kawa, the food's getting cold!" and it feels like two cogs in a clock slipping back into place, seamlessly and soundlessly. It's reflex for Tooru to yell back, "You're so ungrateful, Iwa-chan!" and to hustle out with the rice, as if the moment in the kitchen hadn't happened at all, as if no tiny earthquake had cracked the foundations of their modest house and home.

That night, Tooru stares at the darkest corner of his room and lets it act as a theater for his imagination run amok, his heart a constant drumbeat in his chest.

It feels like that night in high school all over again, the barely banked sense of possibility, something balanced on the edge — but it's stretched out now, bigger and more comprehensive, not the silverfish minute that had slipped out of Tooru's hands while he hadn't been paying the right kind of attention.

"Okay," Tooru tells the shadows, the gathering night, feeling his cheeks flush and something in his body go hot, go embarrassingly eager. "Okay."

The next morning it's grocery day again, and that same delicate anticipation winds its way around the hours like a red thread. Everything feels sweeter, brighter, more wonderful: buying tea and tofu, picking up the mail, stopping at the bakery, the way their neighbors wave — indulging.

Tooru feels the sort of lazy, cat-in-sun good. It makes him quiet and happy in a way that has Iwa-chan asking, "Oh my God, who the hell are you and what did you do to Shittykawa?" which only deserves Tooru wrapping himself around one of Iwa-chan's ridiculously beefy arms as an answer, honestly.

They decide to eat out for lunch, a tempura place near the station, and Tooru eats fried eggplant and traps one of Iwa-chan's feet in between the ankles of his own, bratty and elated and almost incandescently happy. Iwa-chan is telling Tooru a story about a series of escalating stupidities that ensued at the hospital that's so over the top it belongs in a bad dorama except Iwa-chan is the worst fabulist in all of Japan so — horrifyingly — every part of it, even the part with the panty thief, must be true.

"But anyway, I promised the nurses if I saw him again, I'd catch him and beat him up," Iwa-chan says, and Tooru just drops his chin into his hands grinning.

"Who would have thought all that time you spent wrangling Mad Dog-chan was just future job training," Tooru says philosophically.

"Fuckin' Kyoutani," Iwa-chan mutters.

This is how Iwa-chan expresses his affection, Tooru knows, which is nice except where Iwa-chan's affection should be for Tooru exclusively, and is thus unacceptable.

"Don't think about other people when you're with me, Iwa-chan," Tooru whines.

"Who did I kill in a past life to get stuck with you," is Iwa-chan's answer.


When they get home, Tooru meticulously waters and chats with all of their plants while Iwa-chan makes tea. They converge on the sofa, a horrifying deep sea creature documentary playing quietly in the background, and it's the slope of spacetime, the gravity well of Iwa-chan's good and reassuring steadiness that has Tooru sliding and sliding until he's curled up against Iwa-chan's chest again — their legs tangled together and Iwa-chan's fingers in his hair. Like this, with the afternoon sun warm in the room, the universe feels truly eternal, perfectly in balance. Everything makes sense.

"It's coming up soon," Iwa-chan says, his voice rough and quiet, just a physical rumble into the top of Tooru's head and under his ear in Iwa-chan's wonderful chest.

Tooru hums, hiding his face in Iwa-chan's t-shirt. It's still embarrassing, just a little, that Iwa-chan is so familiar with the shape and rhythm of his heats when, well, they haven't shared one. But it's safe, too, to know that Iwa-chan is keeping a close eye on the calendar even when Tooru isn't, and that he'll always buy Tooru snacks and supplies and set bathwater to heat — do all the things Tooru's family can't do for him from all the way back in Miyagi. Tooru's only ever spent a year of heats truly alone, and they were each worse than the last, all the chemical instincts of his body in riotous protest. He'd ordered pizza and fried chicken and watched every episode of Naruto, crying because Kakashi was probably so handsome.

"I checked the calendar," Iwa-chan goes on. "I'm on call, but I should be around in case you need anything."

Tooru doesn't say, what if I need you to take care of me through it? He'd said that when he was 15 and a mess and Iwa-chan had gone white as a sheet, vowed to do his best, and then broken into Tooru's bedroom with snacks and muscle cream and nobody had even gotten naked. Tooru's sister had laughed at him for a year.

Tooru's been putting up with his heats since he was 13. He knows the entire song and dance. He knows the first three days will be his body chemistry fighting his suppressants, leaving him a little horny and a lot melancholy, and that the last two he'll be ravenous and too sharp, will have to swaddle himself in all his most comfortable clothes to get through it without stabbing anybody in the face. He's not like Mad Dog-chan from high school, thank God, whose heats left him on the verge of a crying fit 100 percent of the time — which meant Mad Dog-chan was on the verge of handing out a beat down 100 percent of the time as soon as someone noticed or commented.

"It's fine," Tooru says, curls his hands a little more tightly in Iwa-chan's shirt. "I'm not a baby, you know. It's just a heat. If you need me, you can still call me."

Iwa-chan snorts. "If you show up at the hospital in heat all you're going to do is convince yourself random strangers are throwing themselves at me and threaten to scratch their eyes out."

Tooru pushes himself up so he can scowl into Iwa-chan's infuriating, smiling face.

"They are throwing themselves at you," Tooru argues.

"That's just your weird heat brain talking," Iwa-chan argues.

"That's insulting," Tooru squawks. "I'm telling your senpais!"

"God, spare me," Iwa-chan groans, and he throws a heavy arm around Tooru's back and pulls him down and close again, so that there's no space between them. "My ears are still ringing from Mizuki-sensei's lectures about muscle responses to heat cycles."

Tooru mutters, "Don't talk about other peoples' muscle responses," and Iwa-chan smacks him upside the back of the head for it before they lapse into comfortable silence, staring in shared horror as they learn about the mating habits of angler fish.

That night, Tooru dreams that Ushijima starts chewing on his arm before dissolving into just a pair of distended, volleyball testicles hanging off of Tooru's elbow, and that Iwa-chan calls him a harlot and leaves Tooru for Kageyama. He wakes up existentially horrified and furious.

"Holy shit, what the fuck!" Iwa-chan yells, when Tooru slams his bedroom door open.

Iwa-chan's only half-dressed, pulling on jeans and still shirtless: all the gorgeous lean lines of his hard stomach and beautiful shoulders in shadow from the morning light. For once, Tooru is unmoved.

He raises a trembling finger at Iwa-chan. "How dare you — Kageyama! Balls!"

Iwa-chan stares at Tooru for a beat before sighing and pulling his pants all the way up.

"Are you having weird pre-heat dreams?" Iwa-chan asks.

"You're stuck with me for life," Tooru informs him, blurts out in a panic. "You got it?"

Instead of looking annoyed or shocked or anything else that Tooru's been scared was coming all this time, Iwa-chan just looks warmly patient.

"Crystal clear," he promises, and arches an eyebrow. "Now am I allowed to get dressed?"

No, Tooru thinks, looking at Iwa-chan's chest.

"Ugh — yes," he says, and bangs out of the room again for the shower.

The dream turns out to be an omen for the day.

Tooru's shoelace rips on the train, the bakery near the training center is out of milk bread, and practice is a disaster.

Tooru jumps up for a serve and goes suddenly weak with the nauseating agony of a full-body cramp: pain so immediate and intense it starts near his pubic bone and radiates upward fast enough his muscles all give up on him. He manages not to turn his ankle or jar his knee when he drops down, but eats it on the gym floor hard along his left side, curls up like a pillbug gritting his teeth until its over. Coach — who expresses his love by yelling threats and assigning burpees — loses his mind, banishes Tooru to medical, and then stands over his bed barking about how could Tooru be so stupid with nationals selection so close, and what would Iwaizumi-sensei say, and if Tooru tries that again, he'll be scrubbing down the gym floor with a toothbrush.

"I didn't do it on purpose," Tooru mumbles.

"Half a toothbrush," Coach roars, and then the doctor comes in and throws him out.

Minako-sensei is the kind of doctor Iwa-chan will grow up to be, Tooru thinks. She's brisk and matter-of-fact and absolutely fearless in the face of yelling, threats or tears. She jams a thermometer in Tooru's mouth and asks him a bunch of 'yes' or 'no' questions about his knees as she checks him over. She frowns at the thermometer, but she frowns at everything, though, so it's no use as an indicator of medical concern.

"Did that young man of yours break you last night?" she asks.

Tooru chokes elaborately for a long time, long enough that Minako-sensei is clearly gearing up to say, "If that's the case, off with your pants and bend over the exam table so I can check for tearing" — High School Tooru had lived this particular nightmare before — before he manages to shriek, "No!" with absolutely zero dignity but a lot of conviction.

She arches on disbelieving eyebrow at him.

"It was just a cramp," Tooru squeaks. He doesn't even know how he's speaking, there's no blood anywhere in his body other than his face. His extremities feel cold. Iwa-chan is going to have to rub the warmth back into his toes and fingers lest they fall off.

"Sure it was," she humors him, but reaches for her prescription pad. She gives him a mild muscle relaxant, a hot pack, and sends him home with strict instructions about how rough he's allowed to let Iwa-chan get in the bedroom.

"Oh my God," Tooru wails into a pillow, rolling onto his side and hoping for death.

"I'll let the coach know you're on medical leave for the rest of the week," she says, completely unmoved by Tooru's suffering. "You'll probably progress from pre- to active heat sometime in the next 48 hours, so make the appropriate preparations."

Tooru has always known exactly who he is and what he wants, the person he wants to be. Ever since his parents probably put his hand in Iwa-chan's when they were just babies, some part of Tooru must have realigned itself like a metronome, so they could tick together in time — it's that same sense of easy certainty that Tooru feels on a volleyball court, when he's kicking off gravity for a jump serve.

No matter what Tooru's sister says, he's a fully functional adult, more than capable of getting a few days worth of supplies and making some phone calls. Before Iwa-chan had gotten to Tokyo, Tooru had suffered heats all alone, swaddled in blankets on his futon eating room temperature combini food. He's gritted his teeth through years of physical therapy, captained one of the nation's strongest high school boy's volleyballs teams, and gone immediately pro after graduating. He's on the shortlist for nationals, pays his bills, knows how to do his laundry, and is an excellent mommy to any number of plants.

But the truth is that Tooru would never call himself independent or particularly strong. He knows that he's too soft sometimes, spoiled always, and that even though Tooru can cope on his own he doesn't like to — doesn't want to. He can endure for lack of any other alternatives, but Tooru's always had so many people to look after him, to bring him cups of cold barley tea, always remember to buy him milk bread, and fuss when he's sick. Tooru's happiest when he's surrounded by his family, when he knows at the end of everything frightening and hard about every day, he can go home to Iwa-chan's nagging and grouching, to curl up safe against him, Iwa-chan's fingers in Tooru's hair.

So it only makes sense that instead of going to the market and then shuffling off to the apartment, Tooru ends up in Shinjuku feeling bruised all over and moving slow. He wants to go home — and none of the rooms will feel right, the apartment will feel too big and too empty unless Iwa-chan is there, too.

Because of his good planning, willingness to lie, and skilled emotional manipulation, when Tooru staggers to the nurses station looking pale and whimpering, "Is Iwaizumi-sensei around?" of course everyone remembers him and his snacks and Iwa-chan's Godzilla furoshiki and exclaims, "Oikawa-san! Of course! Come with us!"

Tooru doesn't elaborate on why he's come to the hospital, just says quietly, "I'm — not feeling well," which serves nicely to imply the exact reality of the situation.

"Oh," Nurse Hijikata says knowingly. "Of course."

It's apparently inappropriate to use the paging system to find Iwa-chan even though Tooru is clearly suffering a medical emergency, so instead he endures and experiences first hand the staggering chain of hearsay and rumor that comprises the hospital's unofficial communications network. Nurse Hijikata hears from Hiwamari-san in radiology that the Sato-sensei saw Iwaizumi-sensei headed for the canteen 15 minutes ago when he was hiding from Nishigori-san, who is on the warpath.

"Why is Nishigori-san on the warpath?" Tooru asks as Nurse Hijikata hustles him into the elevator, all overwhelming post-menopausal omega protectiveness.

"They've been fighting for a year — we can't tell if it's about a parking space or a woman," Nurse Hijikata says baldly, and then the elevator dumps them out into a bustling corridor heaving with hospital staff and families, and they wend toward the smell of hot food and weekday curry lunch. "Now don't worry your sweet head, once Iwaizumi-sensei fills in his emergency leave paperwork you'll be right as rain."

Except when they locate Iwaizumi-sensei, he's tucked away in a quiet corner of the canteen in green scrubs over a gray long-sleeved shirt that strains on his biceps — and he's sitting across the neat little laminate table from a cute omega girl who's fairly expiring under the oppression of Iwa-chan's handsomeness.

And Tooru sees the scene through two different and distinct filters.

There's a patient, rational voice that says it's exactly as it appears, Iwa-chan having coffee with a colleague, mentoring a junior, and then there's the real Tooru, the one who wears socks to bed, bursting into miserable, overwhelmed tears. He hurts, literally, inside and out; he's exhausted; he hates being in this crowded room with so many people and smells. He wants to go home, and he wants Iwa-chan to take him, and it's all he can do to stand here and bear down against the instinct to scream.

It's playing through deuces, more determined self control than anything else holding him together, that has Tooru saying to Nurse Hijikata, "Um — could you…"

"Poor thing, of course you wouldn't want to risk the crowd in your state," she coos, pressing a papery-warm hand over his own. "Be right back."

Across the room, Iwa-chan laughs at something the girl says, and Tooru's eyes hurt and his throat feels raw. He squeezes his hands into fists, presses himself along the alcove of the canteen entrance, to use it as a ballast and because rooms are starting to feel too big, too unguarded. It's been millennia since his brain had needed to look out for apex predators during the incapacitation of heat, but the vapor traces are there: he wants his bed, a closed door, the warmth and smell of his partner.

He can see Nurse Hijikata weaving her way through the tables and loiterers, and the exact moment Iwa-chan notices her and looks up. She must say something as soon as she's near enough to say it discreetly — or maybe she didn't bother, Tooru's been utterly shameless toward the hospital staff after all — because Iwa-chan's immediately pushing away from the table, eyes searching the crowd.

Tooru thinks about hiding away entirely, making Iwa-chan worry the way Tooru worries, but he's too sore and too shivery now, needs too badly, and when Iwa-chan catches his eye, Tooru just nods "hi" and feels his lower lip trembling. He's not crying because he is only a crybaby in private, but it's a near thing.

Iwa-chan turns back to the girl at the table, says something Tooru can't hear, and then he's jogging over, his hospital ID badge flapping as he barks, "Oi, Oikawa — what's with that face?"

Tooru means to say, "Iwa-chan, I don't feel good, please take me home and buy me milk bread and run me a bath and can you wash my hair, if you love me at all."

Instead, he says, "Who was she."

By now, Nurse Hijikata's caught up, and sounding chiding, indulgent, she laughs, "Really, Oikawa-san," because Tooru bets her husband's (a) married her and (b) doesn't take cute omega girls for lunch when she's on the sharp end of pre-heat, when once upon a time omegas weren't able to be held legally responsible for a murder, because they were so hysterical.

"You look like shit," Iwa-chan says, because he's an obtuse moron who would just try to arm wrestle death when it came for him. "What the hell — why are you here? Why didn't you just text me and go straight home?"

Tooru doesn't want to be chided or indulged or lectured out of Iwa-chan's misguided protective instincts and complete inability to express an appropriate emotional response. He wants to serve spikes into Iwa-chan's stupid face — his ridiculous eyebrows are knitting up now as if he has any right to be the angry party here — until he begs for forgiveness. Tooru has his entire training bag with him. He could do that. He has pinpoint accuracy and  a lot of barely controlled rage.

"Is she that girl?" Tooru hisses. "The one your father set you up with — you — you cheater?"

Nurse Hijikata looks rapturous. "Oh my," she whispers.

"Hijikata-san," Iwa-chan says, long-suffering. "Please don't misunderstand."

"No, of course not," she assures him, and stays rooted to her spot.

Iwa-chan grinds the heel of his hand into an eye. "Fuck's sake, Oikawa — "

"Well she's very pretty," Tooru hears himself say, even though he can't remember what she looks like at all, and now he's definitely crying and he hates himself for it. "I'm sure that you — that you two will have very cute kids. Forgive if me I don't go to the wedding, I'm sure my sister will send something, now if you'll excuse me — "

He doesn't get any further before Iwa-chan's closed the foot between them, dragged Tooru in close and tight to his chest.

"Okay, that's enough," Iwa-chan says, and this close, Tooru can feel the words run through him, the auditory equivalent of fingers sliding down his back. Tooru doesn't even want to stay mad, he just wants to press his face into Iwa-chan's neck and fist both his hands in the back of Iwa-chan's scrubs, to cry silently into his shoulder and feel all the jittering, unhappy nerves of the day shake out of him in a cascade. And all the while, Iwa-chan is closing one of his giant hands around the back of Tooru's neck, rubbing a thumb behind Tooru's ear, whispering, "It's okay — it's okay now. I've got you."

"I want to go home," Tooru cries, mumbling through a mouthful of Iwa-chan's shirt. "I don't feel good and I'm cold and I want to go home, okay?"

"Yeah, I know," Iwa-chan says, and squeezes him a little tighter. "Let's go home."

They go home in a taxi. It speaks more of how awful Tooru must look than anything else, since Iwa-chan once limped home on a busted ankle during a snowstorm because he's so cheap. Tooru just sits quietly in the back, wrapped up in Iwa-chan's coat and watery-eyed, his face hidden away in Iwa-chan's shoulder and their arms looped together. He's clingingwithout dignity or embarrassment because this is Iwa-chan, who says frankly and in complete truth that Tooru has the worst personality in all of Miyagi Prefecture and likes him best, anyway.

"Almost there, all right, Oikawa?" Iwa-chan says, hushing it into Tooru's temple, and Tooru just nods, because his desperate, jealous, angry lizard brain is saying how if he tries hard enough, he can smell that girl on Iwa-chan's clothes, and he knows better than to open his mouth and let the words fall out.

The trip from the taxi up the stairs to their apartment feels awful, that overheated swaying sick uncertainty Tooru remembers from fevers and flus, and he's docile and quiet the whole time as Iwa-chan chivvies him inside and shuts the door.

"How did you let it get this bad?" Iwa-chan snaps, as soon as there's the illusion of privacy, as if the housewife next door isn't listening to every word so she can report it back to their landlady, who will look at Tooru with a combination of pity and disapproval the next time he goes to drop off their burnable trash.

Tooru sniffs and rubs at his eyes. "It's not," he lies.

Iwa-chan snarls, "You're running hot and you smell like — " before cutting himself off and muttering, "Fuck it, forget it," and dropping down to tug at Tooru's trainers: left then right, always cupping a careful hand into the soft well of skin behind Tooru's right knee before he pulls at the shoe.

It's stupid that's what finally makes Tooru start to cry in earnest, or maybe it isn't dumb at all. Iwa-chan has a horrible temper and neanderthal social skills. His EQ is best represented by an imaginary number, and he generally expresses affection by yelling, unless he's completely overwhelmed and then he'll lapse into gruff, awkward silence: around babies, around dogs, around Tooru after bad physical therapy appointments. But Iwa-chan is also the still surface of a fathomless well. He remembers everything, everything about Tooru: his favorite color and food and that one time he fell down, why Tooru isn't allowed to eat natto and that sometimes he twinges his knee kicking off his shoes carelessly. Iwa-chan is a lumbering monster with ridiculously soft hands, and Tooru feels like that thing, that something that's been burning in the back of his throat is finally caught, like he can't stand living in this undeclared limbo anymore, where he can see Iwa-chan with a cute girl in a totally public place and panic because he doesn't have any assurances, has never wanted to push.

"Was that her?" Tooru hears himself ask, his voice wet and raspy. "The one you promised your dad you would meet?"

Still kneeling in the genkan, Iwa-chan lets of a groan, but he looks up at Tooru with a frowning, determined face, and says, "Yeah, Oikawa, that was her."

Tooru wishes he was a beautiful crier, that his tear-streaked face was filling Iwa-chan with equal parts crushing longing and guilt. "Are — did you like her?"

"Who cares," Iwa-chan mutters, unfolding himself, and grabs Tooru by the elbow to steer him past the toilet room, through the door and into the hall, toward the cozy spaces of their apartment and their plants, all their green leaves glossy in the late afternoon light. "Seriously, Oikawa, it doesn't matter."

"Of course it matters!" Tooru blubbers, hearing his voice crack. "If — if you like her then you should date her, right? And your dad will be so happy, and get a promotion, and you'll be rich, because you'll be the son-in-law of a company president, and you'll have to move, because I'm not giving up this apartment, and you can't live with me anymore, and — "

Throughout Tooru's completely rational recitation of probable events, Iwa-chan's horrible grumpy expression just gets more and more confused, and by the time Tooru's trying to figure out what he would even put in a roommate want ad, Iwa-chan says:

"Oi, Shittykawa! What the hell! What kind of asshole do you think I am?"

"Every kind!" Tooru yells back. "You hate Christmas! You made Kyoutani cry once!"

Iwa-chan completely ignores those extremely good points, because he does hate Christmas and he did make Kyoutani cry once, and hollers, "You and me, Asskawa, we're a done deal, all right? It doesn't matter how many coffees I have to have with other people or omiais my mom gets invited to — "

"Excuse me?" Tooru hears himself shriek.

" — you're stuck with me, all right?" Iwa-chan just barrels on. "Today, tomorrow, next year, a decade from now, two minutes after death! Am I clear? Who cares who that girl was? You're a fucking mess right now! Why is there a bruise on your face?"

Tooru slaps a hand over his cheek, self-conscious in a flash, and then his brain finishes processing everything Iwa-chan just yelled and he feels all the blood in his body rush his face, his skin going sun-hot in a flash.

"Iwa-chan," he says, struggling around the syllables, and the question he can't figure out how to ask and is too shy to say must be loud enough in his eyes anyway, because Iwa-chan growls:

"I told you, dickhead, all the way back when we graduated: you're my partner I'm proud of. I'll support you."

"As friends?" Tooru asks, hysterical. "As teammates — ex-teammates? As what?"

"As whatever you need, however long you need it," Iwa-chan tells him, all the fight gone out of him, calm and sure the way Iwa-chan sometimes is: immovable, certain. "You're it for me, okay? I'm in no rush. However long it takes, I know where you're headed, and one day, when you want, whenever you want, I'm here, all right?"

Tooru stares and stares at him, at Iwa-chan's familiar, wonderful face, at the way his hair sticks up and his clothes, all wrinkled and tearstained from the ride home. Tooru thinks about the boy next door and the ace in his pocket, his best friend and true love, the most poorly concealed secret of his heart for all of these years. Iwa-chan's always been there, as solid as a stone planted deep into the earth, and Tooru doesn't know what to do with this, feels tossed in a storm.

"You never said anything," Tooru manages, faint.

"I moved in with you," Iwa-chan points out.

"To your own room," Tooru argues, before flushing all over and tugging at the hem of Iwa-chan's jacket: huge on him, too long and wide and therefore perfect. "W-why didn't you say anything?"

Iwa-chan sighs again, like he's exhausted, like he can't believe Tooru somehow didn't read his inscrutable crazy caveman mind all of these years, and psychically know.

"Oikawa, you're honestly one of the worst people I know," Iwa-chan starts.

Tooru feels his eyes round out, murderous. "Are you kidding me right now?"

"You're childish, petty, so insecure it's annoying," Iwa-chan keeps going. "You buy ¥6000 shampoo and you like to scare the shit out of me when I'm studying by wandering around this God damn apartment in your serial killer face masks."

"They're hydrating," Tooru says, hurt.

"But you were also recruited to a professional volleyball team right out of high school, with open offers to join a half-dozen university teams," Iwa-chan presses on, grim. "You're better than a genius setter, you're a tactical one: you know how you got good and you know how to stay good. You're amazing."

Somehow, this is worse than Iwa-chan saying mean things about him, Tooru realizes, feeling dizzy, and he murmurs, "Oh, no," softly and under the breath.

"You're going to make the national team, and you're going to go to the Olympics," Iwa-chan says. "I hope you win. Who knows. I know you'll do your best, and that you'll deserve to win. You have an amazing career ahead: you'll play until you don't want to, or can't, and then maybe you'll coach, so you can torture everybody on a team full time, instead of only when you're in rotation or actively mentoring someone in practice."

Tooru feels his lip start to tremble again. "Iwa-chan."

And this time, Iwa-chan actually cracks a smile. "You're not gonna be any quiet doctor's husband, you know? You've got all this amazing stuff ahead of you and — " and at this, Iwa-chan looks down, at his toes, at the floor, at his fists tight at his sides " — whatever happens, it has to make sense for you."

Tooru's never felt this before, like his heart's cracking, breaking wide open. It feels like the good hurt in his muscles after practice, the adrenaline hum during a match. It's that night again, on the corner of their street, the sodium-yellow light overhead humming with possibility. He feels the swoop of falling from a great height, the thrill of the drop, heart thudding and run through with the electrical shock of finally making the connection.

"I'm not going to be the one to hold you back," Iwa-chan says finally, rough and rasping. "All right? I don't want you to worry about this, or me, if you want — "

"Yes," Tooru cuts in.

Iwa-chan frowns. "What?"

"Yes," Tooru repeats, and it's still hard to say, even now, even like this. He doesn't know how Iwa-chan's doing this, so it's the least Tooru can do to say, "Yes — I want. I don't know about the other stuff — "

"Liar," Iwa-chan mutters, but his eyes are bright, shining.

" — But I want you," Tooru manages, shaky. "I want to be a doctor's husband. I want you to run me baths and wash my hair and cook me dinner. I want to take care of you, because you work too hard and you're no good at sucking up to your bosses."

Iwa-chan looks awful, like he's ravenous and still holding back, and he says, "And I will, it's okay, it doesn't have to be right away, Oikawa — "

"Why not?" Tooru argues. "Why can't it?"

Iwa-chan's squeezing his eyes closed now, breathing in and out. "Oikawa, come on."

"Tell me," Tooru demands, all his hurt run through him and leaving anger hot and dizzy in his veins now. "Why not? What's so important? What's your great reasoning here, Iwaizumi-sensei?"

And then Tooru's head's thudding against the flimsy wall of their living room, Iwa-chan pressed along his chest, their faces close together, Iwa-chan breathing hot against Tooru's mouth. Tooru's heart is immolating in his chest, his ears ringing, and it takes a long time before he processes all the details: the way Iwa-chan smells like hospital air and sweat, a little angry, how Tooru's wrists are pinned in Iwa-chan's hands, fisted tight to the point of hurting — and how much Tooru likes that sting — the way he can feel Iwa-chan hot and half-hard through his jeans they're so close.

"What do you think would happen if I kissed you?" Iwa-chan growls. It rolls of his tongue in an animal noise, bristling, and Tooru shivers and shivers, feels it like the suggestion of claws down his spine. "Would we hold hands, be sweet, stay carefully out of each other's beds?"

"No," Tooru whispers.

Iwa-chan's eyes go darker, the pupils widening. "Yeah," he agrees. "I'd have to fuck you. I couldn't stop myself. And you — you'd just fucking egg me on. You'd be fucking unbearable. You're probably going to be unbearable after this anyway. You'd probably never let me sleep again, just drain me dry like some porn star."

Tooru feels his eyes widen, his face burn. "Iwa-chan."

"I'd never let you out of bed. You'd cry anytime you had to go away for a game," Iwa-chan goes on, his voice getting rougher and rougher. "I'd marry you — I'll marry you tomorrow. I'd leave bite marks all over your neck. Your coach would think I was a monster. You'd write threatening, crazy jealous letters to all of my coworkers."

Tooru lifts his chin, buoyed by self-righteousness. "That's provoked."

"You're a fucking psycho. Basic Instinct was not a relationship manual," Iwa-chan laughs, sounding as nuts as he's accusing Tooru of being. "You and I — we don't do normal, okay? It's always been too much, all of it, everything."

"It's not everything," Tooru says, and softer, hushed, he tilts his head forward, so he can feel the way Iwa-chan's mouth's turned down at the corners as he says, "You won't even kiss me. You've kept me waiting so long."

Iwa-chan lets out an animal noise, an animal shudder, presses his forehead into Tooru's collarbone, and says to the floor:

"You're 100 percent commitment and intensity, Shittykawa. If we start, we won't stop. I'll skip a week of work. You'll limp through a month of practice. I'll file the marriage paperwork next week — you'll spend a year making your mother insane planning a wedding. You'll want a baby two months ago. It's not — how will any of it work with volleyball? The World's are next September, nationals selection is in a month."

And now Iwa-chan looks up at him again, looking disciplined with sadness and forgiving, already forgiving.

"You work harder than anyone I know," he says to Tooru. It's so earnest it's a shock of sweet water after dying of thirst. "I want you to make nationals, to go to the Olympics. I want everyone to know how amazing you are, the way I know how amazing you are. I want you to have everything you deserve."

"Then I deserve you," Tooru retorts, and he feels like crying again: because he's so frustrated, because Iwa-chan's felt this way for so long, because they're fighting instead of everything else they could be doing right now. "I've put up with your horrible hair and your bad attitude and I've had to kiss ass for two since we were in day care — I've more than earned the rights to you."

"You have me," Iwa-chan croaks. "I just — Oikawa, if you ever looked back, 20 years from now, and thought, 'I could have gone so much further, if it weren't for this,' I don't know. I'd go crazy. I'd drive off a bridge."

And that's what makes Oikawa shove Iwa-chan's hands away, so he can free his wrists and cup Iwa-chan's worried, wonderful face in his palms, so he can say, tenderly, "Iwa-chan — that's the dumbest thing you've ever said," and kiss him.

Later, Iwa-chan will say, "This is insane — it's fucking impossible to have everything at the same time, Oikawa," and Tooru will just purr, shameless, and chirp, "I don't care. I'm spoiled. I want it all," and that's that.

Iwa-chan tastes like hospital Nescafe and 25 years of being Tooru's best friend: familiar and startling and skin-sweet. He bites. He's rough. Like always, he ignores Tooru's half-hearted complaining noises in this like he does everywhere else, and he scrapes his teeth over Tooru's bottom lip so hard Tooru lets out a pitchy, needy little whine, reflexive.

"Are you sure?" Iwa-chan huffs out, between gasps, licking into Tooru's mouth, his hands sliding up underneath Tooru's t-shirt and gripping at the pinch of his waistline.

Tooru claws at Iwa-chan's scrubs, his long-sleeved shirt. He wants to get at the hard plane of Iwa-chan's stomach, the dark trail of hair he'd seen earlier. He wants to scratch through it with his stubby nails and to press his face into the cut of Iwa-chan's hip, press open-mouthed kisses to his knees and his sternum and the insides of his biceps, where he'll smell like sweat and himself and and be all soft skin and muscle.

"God, you're the worst," Tooru complains. "Yes. Extra yes."

Iwa-chan walks him backward toward the bedrooms, saying, "Fucking unbelievable," strips Tooru out of his jacket and trips him backward onto the mattress.

Tooru's thought about this for an accumulated million hours, one hundred thousand nights he couldn't sleep, or when his bed felt cold and he felt lonely. He always thought that he'd want so badly he wouldn't be nervous if this moment ever came, that he'd be too busy begging shamelessly, and it's both true and not. Tooru does want — he's all covetous hands running along Iwa-chan's shoulders, down his arms, as Iwa-chan crawls into bed, too. But Tooru's more than a little scared, jittery and jumpy, and he has to keep touching Iwa-chan to hold onto his nerve.

Maybe that's the point of having sex with people you love, Tooru thinks, dragging Iwa-chan down by the collar, so his weight is the comforting breathlessness of a long-kept promise. So you can be overwhelmed by everything you might end up feeling in bed with someone and feel safe anyway. Tooru can't imagine being here with anyone else, the heat of anybody else's hand pressed between his shoulder blades, their mouth on his throat and their teeth on his collar bones.

Tooru's grabbier and greedier, so Iwa-chan loses his scrub top first, then his shirt, the buttons on his jeans go. His whole body is heavy and fiery hot, and when Iwa-chan says, "Fuck — watch the nails, Shittykawa," Tooru just digs them in harder, drags them down the chiseled line of Iwa-chan's belly, until Tooru can slip his thumb into Iwa-chan's naval. Iwa-chan feels good: all his skin, all the muscle and good bones underneath, like everything Tooru's always wanted to deserve, delivered finally into his arms.

"Why am I the only one naked here?" Iwa-chan complains.

"You still have pants on," Tooru complains in reply, but lets Iwa-chan pull off his sweater anyway, though he hisses when knuckles rub into his left side, where the bruise is settling in and the hurt is deep.

Iwa-chan freezes. "Oikawa?"

"That's the side I landed on when I fell today," Tooru says, dismissive. "Come on — hurry up."

Hesitating, Iwa-chan asks, "Should — we wait? Until you feel better?"

"If we put off sex until I'm medically cleared of all sports injuries I'll be menopausal before you get your dick out of your pants," Tooru says, and starts tugging the loops of Iwa-chan's jeans down over his infuriatingly skinny hips. "How big is your knot?"

Iwa-chan lets out a wheeze, like someone punched all the air out of his lungs. "Oikawa."

"There's no point in being coy," Tooru says reasonably, as if his heart wasn't beating out of his chest, trying to thrash out of his throat. He's equal parts terrified and thrilled. "I'm going to find out soon whether or not you tell me."

"I regret this already," Iwa-chan tells him, and then brutally, with the efficiency of a doctor who probably spends all his days stripping hapless omega boys out of their clothes, rips Tooru's jeans and shorts off like a savage.

Tooru would complain about the rough handling — for form's sake if not out of any earnest protest — except Iwa-chan's kissing him again, all deep tenderness, slick and sweet and unhurried. Iwa-chan's body feels like the reassuring frame of a house: solid and warm and unmovable as a storm bears down around them outside. Tooru curls a leg over Iwa-chan's gorgeous, glass-sharp hip, so he can rub their cocks together, so he can feel the rough scratch of hair and petal soft skin, be sure all of this is real and really happening.

They've lived out of each other's pockets their entire lives, so Tooru's seen glimpses before of the hard lines of Iwa-chan's body as he'd grown out of chubby cheeks and into his enormous arms. Tooru's looked — only a little guilty — at the shape of Iwa-chan's dick in the early morning, half-hard in his sleep pants, and he's left Iwa-chan keep his awful, threadbare sweats because he always wore them without underwear and when he bent over it was worth seeing that horrible mustard stain to keep staring at his ass.

But those were only ever stolen moments and this is wide-open permission. Tooru wants to touch Iwa-chan all over, to know every inch of him, to map him with every one of his fingertips, to press his mouth everywhere and know him, to be able to recognize Iwa-chan when Tooru's blind and deaf from the feel of Iwa-chan's skin alone, the smell of his throat, the way Iwa-chan's voice feels — like the roll of a motorcycle engine between his thighs — when he says, "Oikawa," into Tooru's shoulder, up the inside of his arms, when he snags Tooru's wrist into a biting kiss.

"What do you want?" Iwa-chan asks, low and so quiet Tooru wouldn't hear except Iwa-chan comes back to say it against Tooru's mouth. Starting now, Iwa-chan should have to say everything and anything to Tooru into his mouth, tucked away inside a kiss.

"Everything," Tooru tells him, unvarnished and unembarrassed, looping his arms around Iwa-chan's wide shoulders, because the hugeness of his wanting, the giddy happiness of his trust, is starting to eclipse all of his fears. "I want everything with you, Iwa-chan."

Sometimes, Tooru will catch Iwa-chan looking at him, solemn and quietly thoughtful in a way that's always made Tooru nervous. And now, watching Iwa-chan stare down at him in the late afternoon light — in the mess of his bedroom, in their little home in this little corner of Tokyo — Tooru thinks Iwa-chan's solemn and quietly thoughtful expression looks so much like all of the promises Tooru has always hoped for and been too shy to say. How had Tooru missed it all along?

"Okay?" Tooru asks, sweet in a way he's almost never sweet, because Iwa-chan is probably scared, too. This is standing at the edge of a cliff, the roiling water of the sea below. This is the breathless indecision: fantastic and horribly frightening all at once.

And Iwa-chan, because he has a quietly devastating courage, says, "It's always been 'yes,' Oikawa," and kisses Tooru until he's starry, blown apart like interstellar dust.

It's too good, too deep, and it feels like being dragged under the by the blue arms of the ocean, to somewhere the light doesn't filter in, makes Tooru shake a little, so he has to say, "Iwa-chan, are you trying to buy time because you're having difficulties," just to break the surface of the moment, to get some desperate air.

"I should have stayed at that shitty hospital date," Iwa-chan says, but he doesn't sound mad enough to mean it. And also he lets Tooru roll them over, so that all of Iwa-chan's gorgeous body is spread out underneath Tooru's hands, so that Tooru can perch on Iwa-chan's thighs and touch whatever he wants.

Iwa-chan's cock is hot and hard and heavy inside the curl of Tooru's fist, when he wraps his palm around it — Iwa-chan hissing — and Tooru thinks he can feel the throb of blood under the soft skin, when he presses his thumb just under the head. Iwa-chan's thicker than Tooru is, he doesn't get so wet at the tip, and Tooru slides back and arches over until he can exhale a hot, teasing breath over the head of Iwa-chan's dick, see the little bubble of pre-cum in the slit — touch his mouth to the fire-hot skin and glance up at Iwa-chan's stricken face from underneath his lashes.

Tooru wants to lick up the length of him, taste him, see if he can't make Iwa-chan beg. He wants to be like those omegas in the dirty movies he doesn't watch, the ones who can swallow around a cock until it bulges in their throats, until their alphas are sobbing and their hips are hitching. Tooru wants Iwa-chan to fuck his face, to come in his mouth, on his swollen red lips, across his belly; he wants Iwa-chan to pull his hair and slap his ass, fuck him bent over kitchen tables and slow on their living room sofa, in the bathtub, with a hand pressed over Tooru's whimpering, pleading mouth in their childhood bedrooms, while their future babies are asleep in the next room. Tooru didn't know you could want someone like this, abjectly, reaching through a cross-section of all potential futures with them.

"Can I suck you?" he asks, and it can't be Tooru's voice — he's not so husky, and no matter what Iwa-chan likes to say, he would never be so brazen.

Iwa-chan looks like he's dying. "Not if you want me to fuck you," he growls, and because he's been reading Tooru's mind for two and a half decades, he knows to fist a hand in Tooru's hair and drag him back up.

Tooru likes it here, his body pressed fully across Iwa-chan's body, Iwa-chan's cock hard against his own, and Iwa-chan's mouth close enough to kiss.

"Hi," he says, softly, lipping across Iwa-chan's jawline.

"Hey," Iwa-chan says back, pressing a hand to the small of Tooru's back, thumb stroking the divot of his spine. "Can I — "

"Yes," Tooru says, because the answer to everything is 'yes.' Like Iwa-chan said earlier, it always has been. "Yes — I trust you."

Iwa-chan's determined face hasn't changed at all since he was 15, only now Tooru gets to see it while Iwa-chan rolls him onto his unbruised side, while Iwa-chan presses his knee between Tooru's thighs, says, "Here, hitch up," and slots them together like interlocking pieces, meant for each other, a perfect clockwork movement.

Tooru's so slick he can feel it halfway down the inside of his thighs, and he'd be embarrassed if it wasn't Iwa-chan, who just snags his teeth into the back of Tooru's neck and rubs a thumb over the slick-soft opening of him, patient and unhurried.

It's good — frictionlessly sweet, and Tooru rolls his hips into it, loves the deeper and slowly deeper press of Iwa-chan's thumb, just inside, his whole body buzzing and alive with anticipation. He wraps a hand around Iwa-chan's wrist — feels the steady motion of Iwa-chan's fingers rubbing against him — runs his other down to his own cock, red and wet where it's stiff against his belly, leaving a sticky streak against his stomach.

Iwa-chan doesn't warn him or ask him to relax, he's a beast, so he just bites down harder along Tooru's neck — until Tooru hears himself gasping, a sharp whine that comes out of him on reflex — and slicks a thick finger inside, and then another. He rubs deep and deeper, until Tooru feels the sharp curve of Iwa-chan's knuckles, the heavy whorls of Iwa-chan's fingertips rubbing him inside out, and it's so good he has to grit his teeth, has to fist a hand at the base of his cock, clenches his thighs, curls his toes. He cries a little, whimpers, "Iwa-chan, please," and rubs his ass back, wants more and deeper right now.

"I'm not hurting you, you impatient little shit," Iwa-chan mutters, but he's breathless muttering it, and it gets Tooru another finger, the satisfying ache and stretch of it starting to fill the gape of him. "Come on — rock back on me, show me you can take it."

Tooru can take it, whatever Iwa-chan can dish out, and honestly that's as good as a dare, so it's only Iwa-chan's fault when Tooru slides a hand down so he can press a finger in between Iwa-chan's where they're pressing inside him. It's intense; it feels amazing; and over the sound of Iwa-chan swearing, Tooru hears himself wailing — head tossed back on Iwa-chan's shoulder, his whole body shaking — and he's gushing, slick pouring over their intertwined fingers, leaving a mess on the bed.

Then Iwa-chan's pulling his fingers away, and Tooru doesn't even get to complain, because they're suddenly wet against his face, turning him into a kiss, as Iwa-chan slicks the head of his cock against Tooru's fucked-soft opening and tilts in and in and in.

It hurts, but it's a good hurt, the stretched out tension of being pushed to a new and fantastic limit, the burn in his muscles and the flutter in his chest. Tooru feels like his whole body's the fist of his heart, a steady, greedy little pulse, grabbing at the hot, thick length of Iwa-chan, stroking deeper and deeper inside him, until Tooru can feel the tight press of Iwa-chan's hips against his ass and the sharp burn as the beginning of his knot slips in. Tooru feels split open, cleaved in two, like he'll never be the same, that he'll always feel the particular, intimate soreness of the heavy weight of Iwa-chan's cock fucking a new space into Tooru's body.

Tooru grabs at everything he can reach: the sheets, the pillows, Iwa-chan's hip. He scrapes his fingernails over his nipples, presses his thumbs across them hard enough to bruise, chokes out pitchy little noises at the thud of Iwa-chan's hips against his ass, feels like Iwa-chan's turning him inside out. Whatever secrets Tooru's ever managed to keep from Iwa-chan, they're all spilling outward now, his body giving him away, and when Iwa-chan wraps a hand around Tooru's dick and starts rubbing at him, all lazy softness, Tooru hears himself begging, "please please please."

Because that soft burn's faded to something else now, the persistent under-the-skin urgency of pleasure, good in a way that defies words, and the swell at the root of Iwa-chan's cock that had hurt the first time now feels like the worst tease. Like if Tooru doesn't get it inside himself, bruising big and fat like a fist, he'll die, but all he has left is the dry click of his throat and the same "please, please," the nuclear reactor of his body starting to go into meltdown, everything shaking, the edges blurring.

But Iwa-chan's always understood Tooru, especially when it mattered, thank God, so Iwa-chan doesn't need anything else — he just knows — and when he grabs Tooru by the hip to hold him in place, when he bites down on his shoulder hard enough to break skin, when he shoves his knot in, Tooru knows Iwa-chan knows, too, what it means that Tooru goes mute, that his whole body goes stiff until it shatters.

Tooru stays oversensitized for ages, maybe days, his body rolling from one orgasm into another, a lazy sine wave, trembling around the weight and unforgiving mass of Iwa-chan's knot. It's too much to touch his cock, so Iwa-chan just rolls Tooru halfway onto his belly, sucks kisses into his throat, murmurs, "Oikawa," and rubs roughly over Tooru's nipples until his body hiccups into another orgasm — held safely down by Iwa-chan's weight. Tooru doesn't know how long they stay like that, tied together, or when his lashes grew heavy with tears, how long his face has been wet; he just knows that at some point Iwa-chan laced their fingers together, that he whispered into the shell of Tooru's ear, "I'm yours — I'll always be yours," and that in that moment, Tooru had everything he's ever wanted, is as freed from desire as someone tripping into nirvana.

Tooru goes back to practice after four days of Iwa-chan not letting him leave the bed feeling sharper, meaner, and utterly savage. He has Morita and Ichikawa begging Coach for intervention within 15 minutes, and their undisguised and mortal fear is just the sort of satisfying kick Tooru needed to propel him into nationals selections.

"I heard you finally wore Iwaizumi down," Makki says, when Tooru meets him for lunch one week when Iwa-chan's pulling back to back doubles. "Congratulations."

Tooru preens. "Even Iwa-chan's thickheadedness couldn't stand in the way of true love."

"Sure," Makki allows, and adds, "Hey, so when you go for that 'accidental' pregnancy, can you aim for like, next year? I got a bet going with Yahaba."

"Rude," Tooru shouts, because Japan qualified for the 2020 Olympics and there's no time to take off between now and then, so any accidents will need to happen in 2021.

After the Situation with his sister, Tooru's mother had forced him to swear on their ancestors he'd be married before provoking Iwa-chan into impregnating him, so there's that entire logistical nightmare to be managed. Tooru has a Google calendar with all his regular season obligations, potential tournament runs and major holidays and significant events marked in. Nothing and no one is getting out of his wedding; he wants Kageyama — absolutely murderous with abortive longing for his tiny idiot high school team mate — in the front row.

He and Iwa-chan celebrate nationals selections by taking the weekend to go back to Sendai, where Iwa-chan gets overly solemn and takes himself off to have a completely unnecessary closed-door conversation with Tooru's father.

Still, it'd be wasteful not to take advantage of the opportunity, Tooru decides, so he goes over to Iwa-chan's house, tosses his room until he finds a stash of dusty, unopened omiai booklets, and starts systematically destroying them.

"You're such a fucking monster, Shittykawa," Iwa-chan complains later, when they're all on their way out to a family dinner marking Tooru being named to the men's national team, the Oikawas officially offloading him onto Iwa-chan, and most importantly, Kageyama making only the alternates list.

Tooru, who still has gilded thread and bits of ribbon in his sweater from gleefully shredding the books, just snuggles in more closely to Iwa-chan's side. They're trailing the rowdy herd of both their families, Tooru's sister and his brother-in-law leading the charge, with Takeru complaining loudly about not being allowed to have an iPhone like his classmates, and the parents on both sides humoring his tale of woe. The air is sharp and getting sharply colder, winter settling in, and this year Tooru thinks giddily that he and Iwa-chan will just get a bigger bed and cling to each other for warmth, curl up together under the kotastu, that spring will come too soon.

"Iwa-chan, let's go register tomorrow," he says, tugging on Iwa-chan's arm.

"Idiot," Iwa-chan retorts, because he's the worst, and adds gruffly, slowly, "It's a weekend, the registry office is closed."

Up ahead, the restaurant is all orange warmth in the blue evening, the hostess already caroling out her hellos and congratulations, because Tooru and Iwa-chan have always been a foregone conclusion and the bright and sprawling messes of their families have always been better together than apart.

"We'll go on Monday, first thing," Iwa-chan promises, and grinning, he says, "Come on," before taking Tooru's hand, and pulling him into the restaurant — from cold to blazing warmth.