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The day after their graduation ceremony, they drive to the beach at Shirahama. Iwaizumi drives, because it’s his car, and as he has told Oikawa on multiple occasions, he’d rather die than let him touch the wheel.

Oikawa had been the one to suggest the trip, of course. Oikawa is always the one to suggest unnecessary, expensive trips. In fact, Oikawa is the one to make unnecessary suggestions in all spheres. Iwaizumi remembers the time he’d suggested they try and make a human pyramid with the rest of the team. He remembers how that one had turned out.

As a token protest, he’d said, ‘We live like, fifteen minutes from the beach.’

Oikawa had said - distantly, like he’d been thinking, or something, ‘It’s not the same.’

‘No shit, it’s a different beach.’

‘It’s a road trip. It’s symbolic.’

Iwaizumi splutters. ‘Are you hearing yourself?!’

But Oikawa had had that faraway gleam in his eye meaning he’d bitten into an idea that he wasn’t going to spit out, and, well, Iwaizumi does enjoy driving, and the thought a symbolic goodbye to their childhoods isn't the worst idea Oikawa's ever had. It certainly isn't as bad as the time he’d tried to mix wine with milk to make a wine smoothie.

Inevitably, Oikawa wins the not-argument. So it ends up that on a cold, clear March morning, Iwaizumi is in the driving seat with Oikawa next to him humming happily. They’re only ten minutes into the twelve hour drive, and through the corner of his eye he can see Oikawa’s eyelids are already drooping, as they do whenever he’s in a car for longer than approximately thirty seconds.

‘No sleeping!’ he barks immediately.

Oikawa jerks up in his seat. ‘But Iwa-chan!’ he wails.

‘You can’t just sleep for twelve hours,’ Iwaizumi tell him firmly. ‘You were the one who went on and on about a journey.’

Oikawa squints at him. ‘The journey is metaphorical, Iwa-chan.’

‘It’s also a literal twelve hour journey,’ Iwaizumi says. ‘In a literal vehicle.’

Oikawa mutters, ‘You’re so boring, it’s exhausting,’ and Iwaizumi takes one hand off the wheel to poke him in the leg.

Oikawa shrieks, pressing himself into the car door. ‘Don’t crash! Eyes on the road!’

‘I won’t crash my baby,’ Iwaizumi says, fondly stroking the dashboard.

‘Do you need some time alone,’ Oikawa mutters under his breath.

‘That would be lovely,’ Iwaizumi says pointedly. Oikawa laughs, and the sound is sweet like a windchime. Iwaizumi feels his shoulders release a little tension. The past few months have been strange and dream-like, as though they've been happening to someone else. It’s been an endless typhoon of activity; they’ve not had much opportunity to be alone, together. It’s been team activities, family time, school assemblies. It's been everything at once, but not enough of the things that are really important to him. They've been planning for their real lives, but Iwaizumi has the uncanny sense that he's preparing to leave his real life behind.

Now it’s just them, alone, with the engine humming around them like a friendly insect.

‘Open the glovebox,’ Iwaizumi tells him.

Oikawa dutifully clicks it open, and gasps in delight. ‘Iwa-chan! My hero!’

‘That’s right, I know, I’m the best,’ Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa pulls out a bag of snacks with the pure, unadulterated joy of a simple, simple man. ‘Milk bread! Chupa chups! Oh my God, Iwa-chan, I could kiss you!’ He immediately starts unwrapping a lollipop.

‘Not while I’m driving,’ Iwaizumi says loftily. ‘Hey - don’t just do one for you, give me one too -’

As requested, Oikawa unwraps him one in cherry flavour, and waves it near Iwaizumi’s face. Iwaizumi opens his mouth. Oikawa pokes it inside. ‘Thanks,’ he says, muffled through the cherry taste.

‘We’re not going to drive the whole twelve hours today, are we?’ Oikawa says, frowning. ‘You’ll get tired, and then you’ll crash, and you’ll kill me and everyone will be really sad that I’m dead.’

‘Shut up,’ Iwaizumi says automatically, ‘I’ll see how I feel. There’s tents in the back. We can stop anywhere.’

‘Do we have real food for when we stop?’ Oikawa asks suspiciously.

‘No,’ Iwaizumi says cheerfully, ‘it’s lollipops and milk bread all the way down.’

Oikawa sighs, but doesn’t complain further. He turns to gaze out of the window, fingers tapping out a rhythm on his jeans. When Oikawa breathes out a big sigh, fogging up the glass a little, Iwaizumi smells the sharp, nail-polish scent of coca-cola flavoured sugar. It's something he smelled a lot, as a child. 

‘Can we stop for lunch?’ Oikawa asks hopefully.

‘We’ve only just left,’ Iwaizumi says.

‘But when it’s lunch!’

‘We’ll see,’ Iwaizumi says generously. He feels indulgent; the gentle mechanical monotony of driving always soothes his rougher edges for a while.

Oikawa makes a mildly mutinous noise, but makes no comment. He looks like he might be falling asleep again. When, out of the corner of his eye, he sees Oikawa’s eyelashes tremble, softly fluttering down onto his cheekbones, Iwaizumi thinks, okay, fine. He rolls up his window so that the roaring air doesn’t wake him up.

Iwaizumi doesn’t realise Oikawa’s not asleep until he hears a plaintive noise. ‘I’m thirsty, Iwa-chan,’ Oikawa tells him sadly. He’s still leaning back against the headrest; his eyes are still closed. He looks tired.

Iwaizumi clears his throat, directing his gaze back to more neutral territories. ‘There’s water in the glovebox somewhere,’ he says.

Oikawa drinks half a bottle in one go.

‘Ugh,’ Iwaizumi says, ‘we’re gonna have to do a pee break soon now, why can’t you ever just take sips?’

‘Hydration is important,’ Oikawa informs him, which is true, but Iwaizumi doesn’t think that sitting in a car is the kind of situation that demands Oikawa be dewy and waterlogged. ‘Anyway, it’s good to stretch your legs every few hours.’

Iwaizumi makes a noise of assent. He says, ‘Give me another chupa chup.’

Oikawa unwraps another. Iwaizumi opens his mouth, and Oikawa places it decorously on his tongue. It’s coca-cola flavour - Oikawa’s favourite. ‘Coke, huh?’ Iwaizumi says.

‘What can I say? I’m generous and perfect,’ Oikawa says.

Iwaizumi snorts.

‘What do you want to do at Shirahama?’ Oikawa asks, unwrapping a second lollipop for himself, too. Strawberry.

‘I dunno,’ Iwaizumi says, ‘it’s your thing. What do you want to do?’

‘Well, I don’t know,’ Oikawa says testily. ‘Just look at the sea, I guess, think about stuff. Look at the cool birds. It’s not important. It’s the journey.’

Iwaizumi can’t help the laughter. ‘That’s - we could have just done that at home - I literally said -’

‘I already told you, it’s not the same!’ Oikawa says, sitting up and glowering across the gap between them. ‘It’s a coming of age thing. The trip when you graduate. They do it in the movies.’

‘Why drive to a different beach though,’ Iwaizumi wonders aloud. He just doesn’t get it.

Oikawa groans, and thumps him.

The next few hours pass in relative quiet. Oikawa sucks at the occasional lollipop, but he appears to be lost in his own thoughts. The sky is a blank, milky white - Iwaizumi thinks it might rain. The blue glass is reflecting onto Oikawa’s hands, making them look delicate and breakable - as though Iwaizumi could break them in two, if he wanted.

Iwaizumi glances at the clock. It’s nearly three in the afternoon - definitely past lunchtime. He asks Oikawa, ‘Want to stop for some real food?’

Oikawa makes a considering hum, and then says, ‘No, let’s keep going.’ Iwaizumi shrugs a shoulder. It’s Oikawa’s call. He doesn’t much want to bother with the hassle of finding somewhere to eat, parking, spending money that he doesn’t have, that he needs for college. It’s probably silly of him to be spending the money on fuel for the drive, really - let alone all the ice creams he’ll end up buying, and shivering into, for the sake of some beach trip ideal that he doesn’t really believe in anyway. But it doesn’t really matter: he wants Oikawa to enjoy himself, so he’ll buy all the ice creams demanded of him.

It’ll be so cold, he thinks darkly.

He glances over at Oikawa again. His face is turned away, but he can see it clearly in the reflection of the window. Again, Iwaizumi is struck by how indefinably tired he looks. His eyes look okay - not purple, or red, or anything so easily quantifiable. It’s maybe the slope of his shoulders, at a sharper angle than usual, maybe, or the fact that his head’s tilting downwards a little. It’s not surprising: Oikawa has had to deal with the brunt of team decisions for the past year, not to mention the fact that he’s also been juggling his college offers and talking to an indecent amount of scouts. He’s been keeping so many balls in the air that Iwaizumi’s amazed he hasn’t let any of them drop.


They stop driving, finally, after about ten hours. Iwaizumi’s eyes are tired - his back’s going to ache tomorrow, too. It won’t be too long of a drive in the morning, at least - and then they can - well. They can figure out what to do when they get there.

Iwaizumi pulls in at the side of the road, with a public field just behind a fence. It’s been years since he camped anywhere, but he feels excited at the prospect.

When they’re both standing with the tents, at the back of the car, Oikawa says, ‘Can we just share?’ He looks a little skittish.

Iwaizumi says, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ It’s no big deal.

Oikawa says, ‘The moon is really bright tonight.’ He sounds far away, and he’s folded in on himself. He looks - suddenly - sad.

‘It is,’ Iwaizumi agrees. He doesn’t say: this was your idea. He doesn’t say: talk to me. He doesn’t say anything.

It takes less time than Iwaizumi had expected for them both to erect the tent. He wonders if it’s like riding a bike, and you never really forget which pegs go where. After ten minutes, they’re both sitting inside, and the wind is rustling in the cotton. Their eyes meet. Oikawa’s gaze slides off his, like hot butter from a knife. Iwaizumi opens his mouth, but Oikawa says, ‘Night night, Iwa-chan. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.’

Iwaizumi might not be as great at the whole emotions thing as Oikawa is, but he still recognises a brush-off when he hears one - and he’s had years of practice with Oikawa’s specific brand of silky denial. There’s nothing he can do, except be ready to hear Oikawa when he wants to talk. ‘Night,’ he says, and gets inside his sleeping bag. He hears Oikawa do the same - the zip grumbles, as it travels all the way up, like a bodybag.

When he wakes up the next morning, he only realises Oikawa’s not in the tent with him when he rolls over and is greeted by the sight of an empty sleeping bag - half unzipped, folded over. He checks his phone and sees the time: 10:41. It’s later than they wanted to set off - why didn’t Oikawa wake him?

He stretches his torso long, like an elastic, before - as ever - leaving to find out what nonsense Oikawa’s got himself into.

He spots him across the field - a small figure, from so far away, like a toy soldier. He wanders across the grass, watching the sky as he does so. Huge, rolling cotton clouds, today - it looks as though it will be a nice, warm day, although the wind is tussling with his shirt, and it will be even windier next to the sea.

Oikawa smiles up at him as he approaches, and he sees what’s got Oikawa’s attention: a few horses in the field over, one small and dark, another big and grey. ‘Horses!’ Oikawa points out, uncomplicatedly pleased by this small boon. ‘Can we feed them some milk bread?’

‘No,’ Iwaizumi says quickly, even though he’s pretty sure Oikawa is teasing. ‘No food.’

‘Hey, Iwa-chan,’ Oikawa says, ‘that one is you.’ He points at the little black pony. ‘Because it’s disgustingly small.’

Iwaizumi shoves him, enjoying the inherently satisfying sight of Oikawa stumbling a few steps. ‘But disgustingly strong,’ Iwaizumi says, ‘I see.’ Oikawa shoots him a sharp grin that Iwaizumi is more used to being bestowed with when he pulls off a strong spike; it feels strange to see it here, in an empty field, next to some horses.

‘Want to leave?’ he asks.

‘Yeah,’ Oikawa agrees. ‘Two hours, I guess?’

Iwaizumi grunts, running through potential routes in his head. He’s looking forward to reaching Shirahama too, now; it feels good to accomplish a goal, even when the goal has only been such for about a week, and when it’s been set by your irrepressible best friend.

Back in the car, and back on the road, Oikawa seems more cheerful than he had the previous day - he even opens the window, all the way to the bottom, despite Iwaizumi’s yells of protest (‘It’s so cold, Shittykawa! IT’S SO COLD!’). He pokes his head out like a happy dog, shiny hair whipping against the window frame, shirt collar flapping. He must look like such an idiot, Iwaizumi thinks, sighing internally, but he’s glad Oikawa is enjoying himself.

‘Get back inside, asshole,’ Iwaizumi shouts, finally losing patience when the cold air tumbling around the car starts to strip away all of his body heat, and there are goosebumps on his arms.

Oikawa brings his head back inside, eyes watering and cheeks pink. He looks healthy and ripe, like a ready-to-pick plum. Iwaizumi pulls his eyes back to the road, away from Oikawa’s cheeks.

‘Hey,’ Oikawa says a few miles later, ‘is that the sea?’

It absolutely is the sea. It’s a long blue-grey ribbon, trimmed with white lace. It’s a familiar sight for anyone who’s grown up near the coast, but it’s a different sea, and seeing it with Oikawa vibrating beside him - well. It does feel different, and he thinks he kind of gets what Oikawa had meant, after all. The rocks outlining their view are dark and foreboding, almost looking like shipwrecks, but the sky is blue and the air smells fresh and salty.

He says, ‘Yup.’

Oikawa is practically bouncing up and down in his seat, and it’s testing the limits of his seatbelt, as well as Iwaizumi’s patience. ‘Sit down!’ he snaps, pushing at Oikawa’s strong thighs with one hand. ‘Five minutes - please!’

Oikawa sits down, but in lieu of bouncing, he starts tapping his feet in an irritating rhythm. It’s official, Iwaizumi thinks: Oikawa is the absolute worst travel companion.

They park, when Iwaizumi finds a car park that lets him pay with his phone. Getting out of the car feels great: his legs are stiff, and he lets himself stand there for a moment, feeling the wind flicker against his face. He and Oikawa, on opposite sides of his car, watch the sea approaching and receding, kissing the sand gentle and slow.

‘It’s nice,’ Iwaizumi says without thinking.

‘Yeah,’ Oikawa says softly. He’s watching the sea with a quiet, peaceful expression. It takes Iwaizumi back to the times on the volleyball bus when they’d sit together and bicker, and then talk, and then Oikawa’s eyes would droop, and then his head, too, and he’d end up sleeping on Iwaizumi’s shoulder all the way home. Breath coming slow and even. Silently flipping off Hanamaki and Matsukawa as they made kissing faces at him.

Oikawa crosses over to his side of the car. Iwaizumi feels the veil fall between them again, and he doesn’t know how to lift it.

‘Ice cream?’ he asks, instead.

‘Yeah,’ Oikawa says again.

They make their way to the beach, the long pale strip of sand, the soft grey-yellow of blonde hair. Iwaizumi stops to roll his jeans up - he could have planned this better, he thinks, but when he turns to Oikawa, he’s doing the same, pulling his shoes off too. Oikawa swings his shoes on two fingers, and steps onto the sand in his bare feet. He smiles to himself, and wiggles his toes so that he sinks a little. ‘Different sand,’ Oikawa says.

‘I mean, it looks the same,’ Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa rolls his eyes, and pulls him over to an ice cream van. ‘Iwa-chan can pay,’ he says cheerfully.

‘But I drove!’ Iwaizumi says on instinct, and then wearily, ‘oh, fine, what do you want.’

They end up sitting on the sand, shoulder-to-shoulder, licking their respective ice creams. Oikawa’s is strawberry - and the girl in the van had blushed scarlet when he’d ordered, and given him free sprinkles. The Oikawa effect. Iwaizumi has seen it so often that it doesn’t even faze him anymore. Iwaizumi’s is chocolate, and he’d had to pay for his sprinkles, obviously. The Iwaizumi effect is something as of yet unknown to science.

Oikawa looks happy, Iwaizumi thinks, with a squeeze in his chest. He’s poking his toes into the sand, wriggling them in and pulling them out, leaving little indentations. His eyes are fixed on the horizon, and the screeching, tumbling birds peppering the sky.

The ice cream is nice, but not exactly cosy. Sitting there in the gale-force winds in nothing but a shirt and rolled-up jeans wouldn't be Iwaizumi's first choice of setting, but he rarely sees Oikawa so at peace - there’s always something, where it’s a match, or an exam, or the scouts he's had to deal with. Sometimes he finds himself wishing that Oikawa’s life had more stability - some calm parts that all the madness can revolve around. Sometimes, in moments of clarity, he thinks that the calm part in Oikawa’s life is probably him. He thinks he’s okay with being that for Oikawa, even if that’s all he ever is. He glances over at Oikawa. He looks good. He thinks about college, and how they won’t be living in each other’s pockets anymore. He stops thinking about it; he licks the ice cream with a hard, pointed tongue.

‘I’m gonna miss this,’ Oikawa says quietly, still looking towards the sky.

‘This beach we’ve been on for two hours out of our whole lives?’ Iwaizumi asks, snorting. He thinks, me too, me too, you have no idea -

Oikawa doesn’t hit him, so he’s obviously feeling contemplative. ‘No,’ he says, watching the tiny birds, ‘you’re gonna miss it too.’

Iwaizumi hates how Oikawa just knows things, and just says what he knows. ‘Yeah,’ he says, because they’re on a beach, and they’re supposed to be on a metaphorical journey, and they’re supposed to be growing up, and completing rites of passage, so it’s honesty, today - just for today, at least. He owes Oikawa that much, probably.

Oikawa’s gaze shifts to the right, and Iwaizumi can see where it lands: the red Torii gate, on one of the big, shipwreck-esque rocks. Iwaizumi watches it too. It’s strong and red against the cold, blue afternoon air, as though it’s been painted in. It stands high and promising, offering the sacred, but Iwaizumi doesn’t want it. Sitting here next to Oikawa, getting sand on his jeans and in his teeth, is enough. He wishes he could tell Oikawa that, but it’s been years of wishing, and he doesn’t know what he really wants to tell him anyway. There are so many strands to the things they haven’t said. He doesn’t know how to untangle them, and if Oikawa does, he’s not sharing.

‘I want to paddle,’ Oikawa says decisively. He eats the last piece of his cone in one neat bite, and stands up, pulling Iwaizumi up by the hand.

They meander slowly over to the water’s edge, which glitters and waves to them. Oikawa’s barefoot, but Iwaizumi’s still wearing his heavy winter boots. He follows Oikawa’s lead - he bends down to untie them. When he slips his feet out of them, and they are bare against the wet sand, it feels so good he closes his eyes, just briefly.

When he opens his eyes, Oikawa’s watching him guardedly. Iwaizumi shrugs. ‘It feels good,’ he says.

Oikawa laughs. ‘I know,’ he agrees, ‘why don’t we do this all the time?’

Iwaizumi thinks - in a fierce burst of hopelessness that he’ll never admit to - because you’re leaving me. And I never told you -

Iwaizumi says, ‘Dunno.’

Oikawa must hear something off in his response, because he stops watching the horizon and offers Iwaizumi a searching gaze. Iwaizumi avoids it - and then he’s the one staring unseeingly at the edge of the world.

Oikawa pokes a toe into the sea, and draws back with a gasp. ‘Oh my God, Iwa-chan, it’s freezing!’

‘That’s because it’s March,’ Iwaizumi says wearily.

‘Boring-chan,’ Oikawa mutters mutinously, eyes narrowed, slowly putting his toe back into the water while maintaining eye contact. The performance is spoiled by the involuntary grimace he makes when it hits the surf. Iwaizumi stares back, unmoved. He puts a toe in too. It’s certainly cold, but it’s refreshing, too, like an ice cube in Pepsi. He steps further in, so that his whole feet are submerged. Oikawa scowls at him - obviously not planning on being outdone - and steps in too. A wave crashes around their feet; Iwaizumi feels the sands shift as the water pushes and pulls at them.

Oikawa says, ‘Want to swim?’

No,’ says Iwaizumi, horrified, but Oikawa’s already laughing at his reaction, and he can’t keep a straight face either. He pushes weakly at Oikawa’s shoulder, but it’s a solid weight under his hand and Oikawa doesn’t even stumble a little, legs as strong as the gate. 

The coldness is increasing by the second, along with a gentle swirl of grey in the water and the skies: it’s nearly dusk. They should leave soon - they need to find somewhere to sleep. Iwaizumi thinks about the field with the horses next door.

‘You wanna go back to that field tonight?’ Oikawa asks - and Iwaizumi thinks, this is not funny, how do you always -

‘Yeah,’ he says. They walk back to the car in bare feet, their knuckles occasionally softly brushing against each other. It’s nice and companionable, and Iwaizumi hates every second of it, because it’s nearly over, and when it’s over they have to go home, and when they go home, Oikawa will -

It doesn’t matter. They have to go home.

By the time they reach the car, it already feels darker. The sky is less blue and benevolent, and the grey is taking over. Maybe it will rain after all. Iwaizumi turns back to look once more at the sand, the Torii gate, the rocks - and carefully doesn’t think anything about any of it. He bends down into the car, and Oikawa’s already in the passenger seat. They’re both quiet.

They stay quiet for the two hour drive back up the motorway, to their field. Oikawa occasionally unwraps a chupa chup, and sometimes Iwaizumi will open his mouth for one, and there’s the occasional irritable remark - why does Oikawa always have to open his window the whole way down? Is he a spaniel? But for the whole, it’s peaceful, if a little mournful, and the smell of the salty sand permeates everything.

It’s really dark by the time Iwaizumi pulls in to the side of the road. It could be his last night with Oikawa - his last chance, really, to say it. He knows, even as he thinks about final chances, that he’s not going to take it. That it’ll go in the landfill, with all the other opportunities he’s let roll past like tumbleweed. The thought is an endless, roiling punch to his stomach.

He unrolls their tent; pegs it in the same holes from the night before. They both go inside, and Iwaizumi stands the torch on its side, casting the interior in a strange, shadowed light. He feels sick with the heaviness of what’s inside him - what will always be inside him.

Oikawa says, ‘Hey, can you hear that?’

Iwaizumi listens, and he hears it: the first droplets of rain, on top of their private cocoon. It’s raining after all.

‘Sounds like it’s going to be heavy,’ Oikawa says, eyes bright. Iwaizumi smiles, despite himself; Oikawa loves the drama of a storm. In elementary school, he’d be the one pressing his sticky little hands up against the window, while their classmates pretended not to be scared by the thunder.

‘It does,’ Iwaizumi says faintly, watching him, feeling as though the rain’s already falling all around him.

Oikawa snaps round. Iwaizumi knows, suddenly, what he’s going to say before he says it. It must be how Oikawa feels all the time.

‘Iwa-chan, let’s go out!’

Yes. That’s the one.

He thinks of the token protests that he has hanging on hooks in his mouth, always. All the times he’s said no just to keep their spirit level centered. He looks at his best friend in front of him, and unhooks them, lets them fall to the ground. It’s just the two of them: what’s the point, really?

He smiles lopsidedly up at Oikawa. He says, ‘Yeah.’

Oikawa crawls out of the tent and reaches back in with long, cold fingers to grab him by the wrist. ‘I’m coming,’ Iwaizumi snaps, peevish. He always goes along with it in the end; Oikawa knows that. Oikawa pulls him harder.

Iwaizumi crawls out too, and is met with a faceful of rain for his trouble. He gasps at the cold - he feels his shirt sticking wetly to him, already - but he gropes blindly around for Oikawa’s hand.

He can’t find it. He stands up, and - oh, there he is, a few feet away, it’s fine. Oikawa is staring up at the moon, enchanting in his own enchantment, hair a wet swirl on his forehead, until he shakes his head like a dog, and laughs out loud, turning to look back at Iwaizumi all wild and wolfen, mouth open in a feral grin, sharp little canines emerging from underneath his lip. He opens his arms wide and throws his hair back. It was ever thus: Oikawa feels things, and Iwaizumi watches.

Oikawa comes closer to him, and grabs his hand again. ‘Look at the moon,’ he says, breathless, as he had the night before. It’s huge and pale in the sky - a coin, a shaved coconut, an ice cream without the cone. They both stare up at it, as though they might find a map in its shallow grey craters.

‘It’s beautiful,’ Iwaizumi says numbly. He thinks, why can’t I -

‘Yeah,’ Oikawa says, rapturous, and so alive as he drips onto Iwaizumi’s arm, and he doesn’t know how he can tell the difference between sky-rain and all the secondary rain from Oikawa’s hair, but he can; it’s easy.

He grabs Oikawa’s shoulder and spins him round so that he can see right into Oikawa’s saucer-round eyes - says, ‘Tooru, I -’

Oikawa says, voice less steady, all of a sudden, ‘I know -’ and Iwaizumi thinks, how the hell do you know what I’m about to say when I don’t?

They’re very close. Iwaizumi can see all the raindrops sticking to Oikawa’s eyelashes. He can feel the warm breath coming quickly from Oikawa’s open mouth - so close to his own, if they just were a little closer -

Oikawa murmurs, ‘Hajime,’ and Iwaizumi kisses him. On the mouth, like a real kiss, a kiss that leaves a burning tail even after it stops. It’s wet, and freezing cold. Iwaizumi thinks that both of those things should really preclude it from being defined as anything other than a terrible, amateur kiss, and, well, Iwaizumi supposes the amateur part isn’t too far off the mark - he has never kissed anyone, and he has no idea about Oikawa, but he suspects it’s a similar story. He's always kept his admirers at arms' length. 

Oikawa draws back; there’s a wet sound as their lips part. Iwaizumi thinks he’s never been so wet - that even if he takes off all his clothes, he’ll still be wet, down to the muscles and ligaments. It feels cleansing - he feels cleansed, standing in this empty field, kissing his best friend while the huge moon watches. He huffs a sound into the tiny gap between them: it might be a laugh; it might be a sob; it might be both. Oikawa laughs too. They look at each other for a moment, before Iwaizumi takes a deep breath and thinks, okay, enough. That’s enough now. Oikawa is still leaving -

It’s still raining, but remembering Oikawa’s upcoming move has broken the spell over him: he feels very cold suddenly, and very young, and says, ‘Can we -?’

Oikawa smiles and steps back, saying, ‘Yeah, Iwa-chan,’ and Iwaizumi feels the change back from ‘Hajime’ like a small death. But the two of them run back to the little tent - their little safe box, where the rain and the cold won’t touch them.

It won’t touch them once they’re out of their clothes, anyway, and Iwaizumi realises that they’re going to have to get naked at the same moment Oikawa does: their eyes meet, and they’re both flushed and fidgety.

‘Okay,’ Iwaizumi says grimly, ‘don’t look.’

‘You don’t look,’ Oikawa mutters, sounding a little hoarse, and as a rejoinder it’s really not up to par.

They change into dry clothes, and dry their hair on the towels Oikawa had thought to bring with them.

Oikawa says, sounding uncertain, once they’re dry and quiet and chewing on some milk bread, ‘Do you want to go home now?’ They’re sitting side by side in the near darkness, not looking at each other.

Iwaizumi considers it for a moment - he hasn’t thought about his feelings about the kiss. He’s not sure what they are. It’s an old song, and he’s tired of it. ‘No,’ he says truthfully. He wants to stay with Oikawa. He wants Oikawa to stay with him. Maybe that's all that matters - they're his truest feelings, and always have been. 

Oikawa breathes out a sigh so deep it’s as though it’s drying all the parts of him that are still damp. ‘Okay,’ he says, and looks almost normal - as though they didn’t just kiss, frantic and urgent under a dark and heavy sky. But the almost normality makes Iwaizumi feel sad and small, like when he’d been six years old and his cat had been hit by a car, and his father had told him so gently. He had managed to keep the tears in until he’d been in bed, alone. He doesn’t know what he’ll do this time, when he’s alone.

Last night the tent had felt safe, but now it feels suffocatingly small - they are so close, still, aren’t they? He would barely have to move at all to brush against Oikawa’s thigh, hip, sides. He feels on the brink of something akin to panic, but heavier. Despair, perhaps. The last eighteen years can’t boil down to this silence in a small tent at the side of the road, wet and cold and alone, even though they’re still so close.

He thinks - brimming with determination - I won’t let it stop here.

He leans over and says, ‘Okay, look.’ He leans a little further and kisses Oikawa again, gentler, and without so much rain.

Oikawa makes a noise that sounds like the one he made when he sprained his ankle, once - surprised, more than pained, as though the narrative he’s written for himself wasn’t supposed to arrive at this point. Iwaizumi doesn’t feel as though his life was supposed to end up here, either - but, well, it has, and he thinks maybe even though he’d clearly got on the wrong train somewhere, because he must have, to be kissing Oikawa in this humid little egg-like space, that this is the right station - and not the last stop on the line.

Iwaizumi touches his tongue to Oikawa’s lips; it could be a blessing or a curse. Oikawa makes another one of those little surprised noises. His hand tentatively comes up to touch Iwaizumi’s hair - lightly, like the time they were seven, and were allowed to touch some baby rabbits. Oikawa had had such gentle hands for a child. Iwaizumi pulls back slightly so he can assess the look on Oikawa’s face, and adjust his behaviour accordingly, as he always has. But Oikawa looks fine - nervous and shifty, but his eyes are dry and his mouth is a determined line, rather than a sad one.

Oikawa leans in and Iwaizumi wonders if he’s going to kiss him again, but instead, Oikawa throws his arms around his shoulders, so tightly that it’s painful and strangling and everything he’s been pining for since he was thirteen years old. Iwaizumi can feel Oikawa’s chest rising and falling, and the brittle strength in his shaking arms, as he buries his face in Iwaizumi’s shoulder.

He hears Oikawa sigh out, ‘I don’t want this to be the end, I don’t want us to -’

‘We’re not ending,’ Iwaizumi says, and he hadn’t realised how much he’d needed to hear that for himself until he says it. He hadn't realised how much he needed to believe it. ‘We literally just kissed for the first time. That’s the beginning.’

Oikawa laughs. ‘You have no soul,’ he says, but he’s smiling, tiny tributaries at the corners of his eyes. And Iwaizumi thinks, you really have no idea how I feel about you, do you?

Iwaizumi says, ‘I thought you’d be freaking out.’

Oikawa gives him an odd look. ‘Because of the kissing?’

Iwaizumi feels as though he’s missing something. ‘Well. Yes.’

Oikawa looks pensive. ‘No,’ he says slowly, ‘it felt normal.’ He pauses. ‘I can freak out if you want me to, though.’

‘No,’ Iwaizumi says quickly, ‘if you freak out it’s sleeping in the rain for you.’

Oikawa smiles - more sleekly. ‘And if I stay calm - and handsome?’

‘I never said -’ Iwaizumi sputters, but he averts his gaze, because Oikawa is gazing right back at him with that level expression that means he knows something Iwaizumi hasn’t figured out yet, and he’s just waiting. He’s seen it in class for over ten years; it’s unfair he has to see it now, too, when he thinks he’s finally getting it.

He swallows. He says, 'Uh...'

Oikawa raises his eyebrows, and laughs slightly - a little anxious, Iwaizumi thinks, because the laughter is breathy and high-pitched. The script that they’ve been reading from for their whole lives has been left out in the rain, mulchy and torn, and they’re writing a new one as they go. Iwaizumi adds a note in pencil to the side of the page - somewhere he hopes Oikawa can’t read it: I’m in love with you.

They climb inside their separate sleeping bags, but stay face-to-face, as close as they’ve been all evening. They’ve spent nearly every day of their lives together, he thinks - how is it possible he’s still learning new things about Oikawa - how is it that there are still new pieces falling into place? It almost hurts, to think of how many pieces there must still be to fill in, but it feels good, too, not knowing what they are, or where he’ll find them. It feels like - well. It feels like a journey. He thinks, shit, did Oikawa plan this entire thing?

Through narrow eyes, he asks with suspicion, ‘Did you plan this entire thing?’

Oikawa snorts. ‘No,’ he says seriously, ‘I can never factor in your stupidity.’ Iwaizumi kicks him.

‘I kissed you first,’ Iwaizumi points out, smug.

‘I planned this entire thing,’ Oikawa says, even more smug.

‘Ha! Liar.’ Iwaizumi rolls onto his back and gazes up at the cotton ceiling, resting on his hands. He’s smiling. He can feel an ache in his cheeks.

‘You can’t be sure though,’ Oikawa says, grinning widely, and Iwaizumi thinks, ugh, fuck, he’s right. ‘It’s the sort of thing I’d do, isn’t it?’

‘It really is,’ Iwaizumi agrees darkly, privately thanking every deity he’s ever heard of.

Oikawa rolls over and props himself up on his elbows. ‘Iwa-chan,’ he begins, after a deep breath.

‘Oh God, you’ve planned a speech, haven’t you,’ Iwaizumi groans. How’s he ended up hitched to someone with such an endless appetite for the completely unnecessary?

‘Only a small one,’ Oikawa says, who is clearly not sorry at all - and going to get through his speech whether or not Iwaizumi likes it.

‘Go on then,’ Iwaizumi says, resigned to it.

‘I know I’m leaving in a few days,’ Oikawa says, ‘but I’m not leaving you, Iwa-chan - Hajime - I could never. And you can come and stay all the time. And I’ll come back every holiday, I swear. It’s going to be okay. We’ll figure it out.' He pauses, and smirks. 'Well, I’ll figure it out, and you can just stand there and look hot.’

Iwaizumi says, ‘You were doing so well up until the end there.’ But his throat feels scratchy and his eyes are really, really threatening to spill over, if Oikawa doesn’t kill the mood in less than five seconds.

Oikawa ruins any chance he has of keeping the tears in when he says, in that same level, calm voice, ‘I’m serious, Iwa-chan, it’s always gonna be us. I don’t know how much more proof you need.’

Iwaizumi covers his eyes with his hands, scrubbing at them furiously. He thinks, this is fine - this is the proof, thank you. He says, ‘This is fine - this is the proof - thank you.’ He takes a deep, shaky breath, and looks at Oikawa over the top of his trembling fingers. Oikawa looks capable and serene, like he knows where he’s going, and he doesn’t need a map, even if there had been one in the moon. He’s grown up while Iwaizumi was trying not to look at him. He thinks Oikawa is right: it’s always going to be the two of them, in whatever form they end up taking.

A little tremulously, he asks, ‘Can I kiss you again?’ It’s maybe a silly question, but Iwaizumi wants the admission to be made as clear as water.

Oikawa snorts. He clearly thinks it is, in fact, a silly question. ‘Yeah, stupid,’ he says, rolling his big brown eyes, which isn’t the most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to him, except it might be the most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to him. Oikawa adds, ‘Actually, I’m going to kiss you.’

Oikawa is a man of his word: he manoeuvres himself so that he’s half lying on top of Iwaizumi, leaning on his elbow, and still inside his own sleeping bag. Iwaizumi’s blood is singing out at the renewed closeness - the slight frown on Oikawa’s forehead that means he’s trying to calculate the best potential movement, or the most successful angle of trajectory.

‘Do it then,’ Iwaizumi grunts, feeling exposed under Oikawa’s considering gaze.

Oikawa breathes out an amused noise, says, ‘Yeah,’ low and promising, and kisses his mouth, soft and warm. This is more like it, Iwaizumi thinks. He can feel Oikawa’s lips trembling slightly against his own; he’s not as relaxed as he’s pretending to be. Is he ever, though?

Iwaizumi brings his hand up instinctively, to touch Oikawa’s shoulders, his back - which Iwaizumi has always found the hardest part to avert his gaze from - but his hand just grabs at useless swathes of shiny sleeping bag. He makes a mild complaining sound. Oikawa pulls back to laugh at him, and shimmies his shoulders out of the nylon so that it falls around his hips. That’s a safe zone for it to be, Iwaizumi thinks, swallowing guiltily at the sight of how Oikawa’s t-shirt has ridden up around his waist.

‘Happy now?’ Oikawa murmurs, leaning back in. Iwaizumi makes a low noise, because he doesn’t know how to explain all the things he’s feeling that he’s not used to feeling, but Oikawa takes it as the confirmation that it is, and kisses him again, again, again.

Iwaizumi wriggles out of the top half of his sleeping bag, too - wanting to be as close to Oikawa as he can, while he still can. Their impending separation feels very far away right there, in their tiny dark world, as Oikawa licks at Iwaizumi’s mouth like the ice cream he’d eaten earlier. If he’d thought about how this would go - if he’d ever dared - Iwaizumi would have suspected something fast and furious and fierce, with teeth and hands everywhere, but it’s not like that at all: it’s slow and exploratory, one of Iwaizumi’s arms slung over one of Oikawa’s shoulders in uncomplicated partnership. He thinks they’re both afraid to go too fast in case they shatter the snowglobe they’ve found themselves in.

It feels trance-like at the same time that it feels hyperreal - a close-up, megapixel image - and Iwaizumi thinks it’s the best day of his life. He strokes Oikawa’s damp fringe behind his ear, thumbs at his neck - all the places he’s never touched, but that he thinks he’s always wanted to.

They’ve kicked the sleeping bags off entirely, and it’s a little cold without them, but it’s worth it to feel the tension and give in Oikawa’s body on top of him. Iwaizumi scrapes his teeth against Oikawa’s lower lip, and is fiercely delighted to hear Oikawa whimper, quietly, secretly, against his mouth. Iwaizumi thinks, okay, this is getting a bit -

When Oikawa settles his weight more firmly on top of Iwaizumi, he can feel an iron hardness pressing into his hip underneath the cotton, and he knows his own state isn’t any more respectable. He pushes his hips up, in a fit of daring, and Oikawa pulls back to stare at him, open-mouthed, eyes half-lidded and pupils huge. He’s breathing hard; his lips are swollen and wet. I did that, Iwaizumi thinks, with a shiver that goes all the way through him. Oikawa swallows, and says, ‘Um.’

Iwaizumi agrees entirely. ‘Yeah,’ he says, scratchy.

There seems to be an unspoken agreement that tonight isn’t the night - not for more than kissing, anyway. Oikawa sits back on his knees, so that their hips aren’t touching anymore, but all it does is give Iwaizumi a better view of Oikawa’s body - erection and all - so he grimaces and closes his eyes. Oikawa laughs shakily and climbs off him properly - Iwaizumi mourns the warmth immediately. Oikawa has clearly decided to take no chances, because he zips the sleeping bag up to his chin, and stares balefully at Iwaizumi.

‘What,’ Iwaizumi says.

‘Nothing,’ Oikawa says, scowling.

‘I didn’t want to stop either,’ Iwaizumi points out, feeling very reasonable.

‘I know!’ Oikawa says crossly. ‘It’s just hard!’

Iwaizumi sniggers and leers at him. Oikawa flicks his forehead, looking scandalised. It feels normal and good to be able to tease each other like this, even while they’re both tense and unfocused, both obviously thinking about what’s underneath their sweatpants.

‘I just - not here,’ Iwaizumi says. ‘A bed. Nicely. Later.’ He wants to be able to take his time when he takes Oikawa apart, kiss him as much as he wants to, lay him down on a soft, warm surface, to see what his face looks like as - Iwaizumi cuts that thread sharpish, and clears his throat, even though Oikawa won’t know what he’s thinking.

Oikawa actually blushes traffic-stop red, covering his face with scrabbling hands. ‘Oh, God, Iwa-chan, don’t say stuff like that - you caveman - because now I’m thinking about it -’ He rolls away from Iwaizumi like a long, shiny slug, still complaining to himself under his breath. Asshole, Iwaizumi thinks fondly.

Iwaizumi gets back into his own sleeping bag, and zips it up to a more reasonable level: his chest. In the new calm, he suddenly notices how droopy his eyelids are - how tired he might feel, if he’d let himself. He thinks Oikawa is the same, because he’s gone quiet - and not in a sulky way, but his breathing is even, and he’s rolled back to the middle of the tent, nearer to Iwaizumi, where Iwaizumi wants him to be - always.

Iwaizumi shuffles even closer, and throws an arm over Oikawa’s body - they’re not spooning, or snuggling, or anything, but he likes the feel of Oikawa underneath him, and he thinks Oikawa likes it too, because he makes a happy noise and curls up underneath his arm.

Iwaizumi closes his eyes with the smell of rain in the air, and the sound of Oikawa’s slightly snuffly, sleepy breathing in his ears, and he feels like all the pieces he needs are here, after all.



When he wakes up the next morning, he is unceremoniously jerked into full consciousness by the realisation that during the night, they’ve essentially become one two-headed being. Oikawa’s asleep on his chest, one leg thrown over Iwaizumi’s hip, and it’s a good job Oikawa runs boiling, because he’s kicked his sleeping bag off somewhere at the bottom of the tent.

He watches Oikawa sleep - drinks in the sight as much as he can, because he doesn’t know when he’ll see it again, and now the day’s here when they have to drive home again, and the moment feels so much closer than it had the night before, like it’s breathing down his collar. He feels a lump in his throat at how soon the fragile peace is going to be shattered by things like suitcases, college, other people. He takes a deep breath and lets it out again, trying to calm down so that he doesn’t wake Oikawa. Oikawa’s the one who should be panicking; he’s the one who’s moving hours away.

Oikawa wriggles as Iwaizumi’s deep breath dislodges him slightly. He opens one eye. He smiles, and there’s no sadness in it at all. ‘Iwa-chan,’ he breathes. ‘Good morning.’

‘Is it,’ Iwaizumi says, grimly.

Oikawa grins at him, his white milky teeth big and even. ‘It’s a great morning,’ he says, and he still looks cheerful. ‘I mean, you’ve got a boyfriend now, so.’

Iwaizumi squints at him. ‘Is that so,’ he says, not out of disagreement, but because he’s surprised that Oikawa is throwing around the term so easily. He’d assumed they’d both go their separate ways tied up in ifs-and-maybes, with promises to visit, sure, but no promises regarding their relationship. Maybe that’s wrong - maybe he’d underestimated them both.

‘Definitely,’ Oikawa agrees, sitting up and immediately becoming a whirlwind of activity. Oikawa, when he wakes, wakes fully. Iwaizumi watches him change into a t-shirt, and their eyes meet. Oikawa laughs nervously and looks away.

‘Oh now you’re shy,’ Iwaizumi says, ‘after ten years of showing off.’

‘It’s different!’ Oikawa says shrilly, ‘now you’re actually looking!’

Iwaizumi thinks that’s probably fair, and true. He, personally, takes the brave route, leaving his pyjama shirt on entirely. He kicks his sweatpants off under the sleeping bag, wriggling snake-like into his jeans. Oikawa is watching him with an affectionate little half-smirk. ‘You are such a troglodyte,’ he sighs.

Once they’re packed up, and walking back to the car, Iwaizumi can feel tiny particles of sand in his shoes. He wonders how long he’s going to be tipping sand out of them - how long he’s going to be feeling the sand in the jeans he’d worn yesterday, and how much of it is in the footwell of the car. He wonders how long he’ll keep tasting Oikawa’s mouth, and hearing his small, startled sounds. He hopes it never stops.

The rest of the journey back is quiet. They’re both tired, and when Oikawa falls asleep a few hours in, head lolling onto his shoulder, Iwaizumi doesn’t wake him, but steals glances at his open, peaceful face. A thought pops into his head: these glances won’t have to be stolen anymore; he can take them freely, because they’re being offered to him.

He thinks about the word ‘boyfriend’. He likes how easily it bounced from Oikawa's tongue. He likes the idea of belonging to Oikawa, and of Oikawa belonging to him. He thinks it’s always been like that, but the acknowledgement is nice, and new. Oikawa Tooru is my boyfriend, he thinks to himself, and has to tap his fingers on the steering wheel a few times to alleviate some excess energy.

Oikawa’s moving to Tokyo in a few days. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be bad, sometimes. But the red string that’s been loosely wrapped around them for years is tied properly, now, and he feels - believes, knows - that it’s also going to be great, and huge, and that they’re going to grow strong despite the distance. He doesn’t doubt it for a second. He has never doubted Oikawa, ever. And Oikawa’s never doubted him.

He pulls into Oikawa’s street - the street next to his. The sky is a dark, navy blue - it’s not quite night, yet, but it’s close. He knows he can’t put it off any longer. He pushes gently at Oikawa’s shoulder to wake him up. He whispers, ‘Hey - Tooru -’ the name spilling out thoughtlessly.

Oikawa squirms, snaps open his eyes. He says, ‘Already?’

Iwaizumi says, ‘You slept for like, six hours.’

Oikawa groans, pressing the back of his hands into his eyes. ‘I’m going to be awake all night.’

Iwaizumi thinks, I should leave him here - he needs to say goodbye to his family, we’re home now, we need to decompress. It's going to be harder if we spend this time together. He knows that no matter how much time he gets to spend with Oikawa before he leaves, there'll still be that moment - that icicle moment - where Oikawa's room will be empty. 

Iwaizumi says, ‘You wanna come over?’ He extends his hand.

Oikawa smiles, and takes it.


Chapter Text

Oikawa has been in Tokyo for three weeks. Learning to live apart is a little like learning how to walk on broken legs.

He’s memorised Oikawa’s schedule more thoroughly than his own: he knows which evenings Oikawa spends with his new teammates, and which ones are penciled in for classwork, but permanent marker-ed in with Iwaizumi’s name in red ink, with red hearts.

Oikawa’s new apartment is a coffin that’s barely big enough to hold all of him at once, with windows that condense on the inside, and a strange stain on one of the walls that Oikawa had suggested in a ghoulishly delighted whisper looked like blood. (‘It’s obviously not blood,’ Iwaizumi had said, wearily.)

He lives in a loud, grey part of the city that’s crawling with thousands of ant-like students, but there’s a greener, fresher area a few minutes from his house which is crawling with cats, instead. Oikawa has spent the past two weeks and six days sending him blurry photos of the back of his hand half-buried in various shades of fur. They are terrible pictures. Iwaizumi loves them.

Oikawa’s absence is a constant stone in his shoe, but even so, there’s a wistful novelty in having someone to miss. And it’s not as though Iwaizumi has experience, but he thinks Oikawa is a good long-distance partner to have: he receives texts every morning before he’s awake, and late at night after he’s fallen asleep. The time stamps on the messages suggest that Oikawa’s still unable to rest as often as he should, but it’s only been three weeks, and Iwaizumi, ever the weary optimist, still hopes that he’ll settle down soon, before Iwaizumi is forced to settle him down.

When Iwaizumi talks to him boxed in the corner of his laptop, Oikawa is pink and excitable, his arms waving like buoys in the wind - so much is happening, Iwa-chan,Tokyo is crazy! Did he know that Bokuto and Kuroo live nearby - and that Bokuto was one of the top five aces in Japan in high school? And that he’s been practising with them nearly every night? Bokuto likes practice as much as he does, nearly!

Iwaizumi says, ‘Kuroo - the tall one, with the hair?’ He frowns.

Oikawa snorts. He says, ‘That describes most volleyball players. But somehow I know what you mean.’

When they sign off, they say things like ‘See you later,’ and ‘Sleep well’, and ‘Love you, bye,’ and it’s fine, it’s great, but what Iwaizumi really wants is Oikawa’s hair curled around his fingers, slow breathing lulling him into peace, and then into sleep, too. Some nights they fall asleep together on the phone, with Iwaizumi curled up around his phone as closely as he can, as though Oikawa will be able to feel it, somehow. At least on those nights he gets to hear Oikawa’s voice melting into soft, sleepy snuffles and the occasional rustling of his new, stiff sheets. If he closes his eyes, he can almost imagine they’re in the same room - the same bed.

The sad, limping truth of it all is that without Oikawa’s glittering, could-be-a-cult-leader presence, Iwaizumi’s life often feels like wet, grey concrete. He goes to class; he goes to practice. But it’s not the same. The new faces all feel like cardboard cutouts, fleshless and two-dimensional. The gym is big and new, but isn’t the Seijoh gym, and his new teammates are earnest and kind, but he misses the friendly teasing from Matsukawa and Hanamaki. In his quieter, more morose moments, he wonders: does Oikawa miss me this much, or is he fine?

The kettle boils over one evening, while Oikawa is chatting happily about his teammates, his shiny new friends, the culinary experiences he’s being invited to, the girls he’s been studying with. Iwaizumi can feel his breath coming like a bullet train - he’s hearing Oikawa’s words, but he thinks the underlying meaning is this: Oikawa’s life is great without him, and why would he miss Iwaizumi, when his new teammates are superior, and his new ace is better?

Oikawa’s happiness tastes sour in his mouth. He needs air. He can hear a furious whistling in his ears. He needs to breathe - to think. He hangs up. He’s alone, but he scrubs at his eyes, fiercely. He can’t shake the sharp, cold feeling that he’s been replaced with a new, commercial-ready life, while his own existence feels like a bad simulation of someone else’s.

His phone starts vibrating its way across the table. Iwaizumi hesitates before pressing the green tick, but he knows that if he doesn’t pick up now, Oikawa will keep calling.

‘Iwa-chan?’ Oikawa is saying, sounding as tinny as a soup can. It’s not something he always minds, but right now -

‘Yeah,’ Iwaizumi says thickly, through his clenching throat, ‘I’m here, sorry.’

‘What happened?’

Iwaizumi groans. ‘I just - don’t laugh, alright.’

‘I won’t!’

‘I just -’ Iwaizumi swallows, trying to keep himself together, ‘I miss you so much.’ It feels as stupid to say out loud as he thought it would.

Oikawa is quiet, down the line. When he speaks, he sounds confused. ‘I miss you too.’

‘Ugh,’ Iwaizumi says, ‘you don’t get it. I miss you.’

Oikawa does laugh then, but he sounds confused, rather than amused at Iwaizumi’s pain. ‘I know, genius, I miss you too. As we’ve established.’

‘No you don’t,’ Iwaizumi says, knowing that it’s stupid and cruel and petulant, but unable to stop himself. ‘You’ve got your Tokyo life. Tokyo friends. Tokyo team.’

Oikawa is quiet again, but Iwaizumi can hear that his breathing is too slow and level to be genuinely calm. ‘Do you really think that?’ he asks, clipped. ‘That I don’t miss you?’

‘You sound happy,’ he says, and it comes out as grim as he feels. He thinks - with a burst of sudden, surprised clarity - is this turning into a fight? Are we in a fight?

‘Does that bother you?’ Oikawa asks silkily, using a voice Iwaizumi has heard many times before, but never directed towards him. It’s definitely turning into a fight. Shit, he thinks, shit - he didn’t want -

There’s so much at the front of Iwaizumi’s mouth that he doesn’t know what to choose. Yes, it bothers him: he hates that Oikawa can be happy without him when he can’t be happy without Oikawa. Oikawa’s moving on, he’s rising meteorically while Iwaizumi treads water in a smaller, less impressive city. Iwaizumi is a worn-out shirt, too tight across Oikawa’s shoulders. He can get a new one, in Tokyo.

‘Hello?’ Oikawa says, pretty and sweet, like arsenic.

‘I’m sorry,’ Iwaizumi repeats, and clicks the red button. This time, Oikawa doesn’t call back.

Iwaizumi goes to bed that night feeling that dismal grey burrow deeper inside himself than it’s ever reached before. In the morning, he checks his phone, but there are no messages, angry or otherwise. It’s the first time since Oikawa left that there’s been no messages telling him good morning, or about a new cat he’s spotted, or complaining about practice. The grey feeling worsens, blackens like soot on glass. He feels heavy and anchored to the ground. He wanders to the kitchen, and starts to makes himself a cup of tea.

The doorbell rings.

Iwaizumi answers it. His mouth falls open.

Oikawa says, shortly, ‘Iwa-chan.’

Iwaizumi gapes at the boy on his doorstep. He’s dressed in a long grey coat that makes him look even thinner and taller than he is. It’s only been a month, but he looks different - taller, and more imposing. It’s as though he’s been staring at a star for his entire life, and only now is he realising how brightly it shines, after he’s stopped looking for a while.

‘Are your parents here?’ Oikawa asks, arms folded, and still stubbornly standing on the doorstep.

‘No,’ Iwaizumi says faintly. They’re visiting family all week.

Oikawa nods, and says pointedly, ‘Can I come in?’

Iwaizumi steps aside, still gaping. ‘Of - course,’ he says.

Oikawa takes his shoes off, leaving them neatly by the front door in a pair. ‘Okay,’ he says, clapping his hands together breezily. ‘Let’s do it, Iwa-chan.’

Iwaizumi says, nervously, ‘Do what?’

‘Fight, or whatever,’ Oikawa says impatiently. ‘I didn’t want to do it over the phone.’

‘But I don’t want to fight at all,’ Iwaizumi says, feeling pathetic, fiddling with the sleeves of his hoodie.

‘Well I do,’ Oikawa says brightly, ‘because you said some really stupid stuff yesterday, and I hated everything about it!’

‘Uh - okay,’ Iwaizumi says, the nerves increasing tenfold. This are entering uncharted waters; there are definitely monsters here.

Oikawa narrows his eyes. ‘Can we fight in your room? It’s cold.’

Iwaizumi nods mutely, and leads Oikawa down the corridor he’s walked through hundreds - thousands, probably - of times.

Once inside, Oikawa sits down on the bed, arms and legs both crossed. He looks like the photo in an article explaining closed off body language.

‘Shall I start?’ he says politely, as though it’s a job interview. He places his hands neatly on his thigh.

Iwaizumi nods. He doesn’t trust his voice to be as steady as he wants it to be.

‘Okay,’ Oikawa says. ‘Well. Okay. Where do you get off accusing me of not missing you? Are you insane? Where do you get that from? How dare you suggest I’m - what, using you? For what? It’s not like we’ve even had sex! Do you think I like the distance any more than you do? I miss you so much I’ve packed three times!’ The pretty facade has crumbled - his voice is wretched, as non-performative as Iwaizumi has ever seen him.

Iwaizumi’s sense that he’s miscalculated horribly rises along with the decibels. The sourness in him is gone, replaced by the simple need to make Oikawa okay again. He says, ‘I don’t -’

‘I’m not done!’ Oikawa hisses. Iwaizumi shuts his mouth. ‘You have no right to be angry about the fact that I’ve made friends. You live here - with all our friends. With your family. With everyone! I moved alone! I’m on my own there! What do you want me to do - pine for you every day? I can’t do that! I need to make the starter team, I need to make connections! Sometimes it hurts so much I just want to stay in bed all day! But I can’t!’ Oikawa’s actually shouting now, but he doesn’t sound angry - just endlessly unhappy. He’s wringing his hands in his lap.

‘You’ve packed three times?’ Iwaizumi asks shakily.

‘Oh, at least!’ Oikawa says with a desperate little laugh, standing up and pacing the floor, although Iwaizumi’s room is small, and there’s not much room for leggy eighteen-year-olds to move around. ‘It’s awful sometimes! But it’s what it is! And whining about it is only going to make me feel worse!’

Shit, Iwaizumi thinks, I am an idiot. ‘I’m sorry,’ he says, because he is. ‘I’m sorry, Oikawa, it - I should never have - I just get so frustrated, sometimes -’

‘Me too though,’ Oikawa says, almost a wail, ‘me too, I skipped a full day of practice today because I hated that we weren’t speaking.’ He breaks off to look slightly sheepish. ‘Well, I mean, it was only a few hours, and I was the one who wasn’t speaking to you - I don’t know if you noticed? But I wasn’t.’

‘I did notice,’ Iwaizumi admits.

Oikawa looks pleased. ‘Did it make you miss me more?’ he asks.

‘Yes, you awful man,’ Iwaizumi says, but he can’t help laughing at the hopeful expression on Oikawa’s face.

Oikawa smiles at him properly for the first time since he arrived. Iwaizumi feels such a powerful surge of relief that he flops down on the bed next to Oikawa and takes a deep, shaky breath. He feels better as his lungs fill with air.

‘I’m sorry,’ Iwaizumi says hesitantly. ‘I didn’t mean to put it on you like that. I do want you to make new friends. Even Kuroo,’ he adds darkly.

Oikawa’s eyebrows contract in confusion. ‘What’s wrong with him?’ he asks.

‘He’s too…’ Iwaizumi waves his hands around.

Oikawa smirks. ‘I see,’ he says, and his tone says that he absolutely does see.

Iwaizumi scowls, and it’s his turn to fold his arms. ‘You just always sound so happy without me.’ There it is: the bald, bare fact of it all. Oikawa could tear his heart to pieces with that knowledge, if he wanted to.

Of course, Oikawa doesn’t. He wraps his arms around Iwaizumi’s torso and squeezes, hard. It feels so good. ‘Never,’ he says, seriously. ‘You know I’m just - I can’t not do things because I’m sad. So I might as well enjoy them.’

‘I know,’ Iwaizumi says, sighing. ‘It’s just - we’re still so new, we haven’t had time to get used to this, I think, and you left so fast…’

‘I know,’ Oikawa says, sounding a bit guilty, even though it’s not his fault. ‘I know, Iwa-chan. Hajime. It’s okay. I’m sorry if I made you feel like I don’t miss you. It’s obviously not true.’

Iwaizumi groans in relief, and pulls his knees up to his chest for safety. ‘I fucked up,’ he says from behind his hands. ‘Sorry.’

‘Well,’ Oikawa says, ‘just - talk to me, next time. I know you are the worst for that but you have to try.’

‘I know,’ Iwaizumi says, sighing from behind his fingers. ‘I know, I know.’

Oikawa pushes himself up onto his elbows and pulls his hands away from his face. He kisses Iwaizumi slow and sweet. Iwaizumi wraps his own arms around Oikawa, so that he collapses onto Iwaizumi’s chest with a squawk.

‘I missed you,’ Iwaizumi breathes, feeling life rush back into him as Oikawa’s heart beats next to his own - it displaces the concrete as it flows through his veins, blooming and growing, fresh and renewed.

Oikawa laughs, low in his throat. ‘Yeah,’ he says, holding Iwaizumi’s face between his hands as though he’s something loved and precious, kissing him deep and sure - like they’re not new at this at all, like it’s always been this way. Iwaizumi melts into it like butter. He feels as though he could cry at the pleasure of it all - Oikawa, here, in the warm soft flesh, not a version made of pixels, no second’s delay when he speaks. Iwaizumi’s anxieties have all been displaced by Oikawa’s radiating energy.

‘Hey,’ Oikawa says suddenly, looking a little shifty, ‘as I’m here, do you want to -’

Iwaizumi blinks. Oh. ‘Um,’ he says suavely.

‘We don’t have to!’ Oikawa says quickly.

‘I want to,’ Iwaizumi says, ‘idiot, obviously.’

‘Well I mean,’ Oikawa says seriously, ‘yes, obviously, because I’m so beautiful, but at the same time, maybe my beauty scares you. Maybe you’re like, “I don’t know if I can handle Oikawa’s beauty”.’

‘I can handle it just fine,’ Iwaizumi grunts, hoping that’s true.

‘What else can you handle just fine,’ Oikawa says innocently.

‘My own business,’ Iwaizumi says flatly. Oikawa laughs. It’s so good to hear it coming straight from his body, not the speakers.

‘What’s yours is mine!’ Oikawa says, jostling his shoulder with his own. Then, quieter, ‘I miss kissing you most, I think.’

‘Yeah,’ Iwaizumi says, it coming out quiet and rough. The thoughts of Oikawa’s mouth - his soft, quick tongue, and little nipping teeth occupy a significant portion of his waking hours, and practically all of his sleeping ones.

Oikawa gives him a slow smile - one that Iwaizumi’s learned means Oikawa’s thinking about the kissing, too. It makes his head feel swimmy, to know that that expression is for him - about him.

Oikawa climbs onto his lap properly, so that he’s sitting right on Iwaizumi’s hips - pinned, by Oikawa’s pretty thighs, in his pretty jeans. It’s not the worst place to be trapped, looking up at his boyfriend’s slightly flushed face, his lips that he keeps biting.

Oikawa says, ‘So I’ve never done this before.’

Iwaizumi says, ‘Yeah, no shit.’

Oikawa pokes him in the ribs. ‘I’m just saying! We’re supposed to be honest about things!’

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. He has the uncanny feeling that Oikawa’s been researching successful relationships. He says, ‘Fine, fine, me too. Pure as the driven snow.’

Oikawa wrinkles his nose. ‘You don’t have to say it like that.’

‘I’m just being honest,’ Iwaizumi says seriously.

Oikawa obviously decides that the best course of action, now that Iwaizumi is being irritating, is to kiss Iwaizumi stupid - which is a good, efficient plan, as far as he’s concerned. He leans forward on Iwaizumi’s hips - wriggling slightly, in the process, and that feels good. He pauses, watching Iwaizumi lick his lips.

‘Kiss me properly,’ Iwaizumi says, unapologetic in his demand, because he knows it’s going to feel even better, in a minute, when Oikawa gets pink and squirmy and warm on top of him.

Oikawa ends up lying on top of him, their bodies touching from chest to legs. He’s right: it feels debilitatingly good - his whole body like cotton-soft marshmallow under Oikawa’s careful ministrations. He lazily pushes his hips up against Oikawa’s. He doesn’t feel urgently aroused, yet, but the pressure still brings hazy, sweet pleasure, like a slice of watermelon in dry July heat. Oikawa makes a thoughtful hum in his throat, without separating their mouths. Iwaizumi can feel it on his tongue. It ramps the arousal up from ‘non-urgent’ to ‘getting there’.

This is the point they’ve stopped, before - both of them unashamedly hard, and kissing easy and long - their hips undulating against each other. This time, there’s no suggestion that they stop; instead, Oikawa’s tongue is moving more insistently, pressing into Iwaizumi’s mouth, along his lower lip - lightly, then deeper, more suggestive.

When Oikawa’s sharp teeth bite his lower lip, gently, Iwaizumi gasps out loud into Oikawa’s mouth, and his hips stutter upwards in a fast, jerky grind. It’s not entirely new territory, yet, but they’re definitely leaving the safety of the harbour, and at that revelatory motion, Iwaizumi hopes they never go back home. He only wants to move forward, further out - more kisses, more of Oikawa’s body moving against his, hot and restless and both of them aching for each other.

Iwaizumi’s beginning to feel the urgency, now - he makes a quiet pleading noise. He doesn’t want to stop kissing, but he doesn’t want the kissing to be where they stop - now that he sees the promise of more on the horizon, he wants to swim out to meet it. Fuck any more waiting - he’s been waiting for weeks, months, years; it’s got to be now. He pushes his hips up, again, and this time Oikawa is the one who gasps, and he presses down to meet Iwaizumi, grinding hard, and yes, yes, this is what he needs.

Oikawa props himself up, and - God - presses his hips down decisively. Iwaizumi grits his teeth against the scorching stab of sensation that feels as though it flows through his entire body, and whimpers, embarrassingly high-pitched. He meets Oikawa’s eyes - he’s pink cheeked, with half-closed eyes and a lax, open mouth, swollen and wet. Iwaizumi has never been one for prayers, but he would pray a thousand times daily if meant he would be promised more of this ethereal experience: being gently, lovingly devoured.

Their hips move together fluidly, waves lapping at a stern. The long, languid kisses have devolved into staccato nips and passes at each other’s lips; they’re both too breathless for anything more skillful, as they press and rock and rub. Iwaizumi thinks he understands addiction better than he has ever done before; he’d rob a bank before he gave this up.

Oikawa’s hips are losing their grace, jerking against him in poorly-controlled thrusts. Iwaizumi knows what that loss of elegance means; Oikawa’s close. The thought is so scorching hot in his mind that his own hips move a little faster against Oikawa’s, and he hears Oikawa gasp out, ‘Oh fuck, Hajime -’ intimate and whispered against his mouth, and Iwaizumi whimpers in response, because how could he do anything else when Oikawa’s using that voice? He knows he’s going to come soon. He’s pretty sure they both are right there on the precipice.

He’s right: Oikawa makes one more gaspy, keening sound - Iwaizumi can feel Oikawa’s tremulous exhale against his mouth, when it happens - and his whole body stiffens. He rolls his hips hard and fast. He’s breathing hard, and Iwaizumi thinks he’d be making louder noises if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s biting his lip. Oikawa pulls away from Iwaizumi’s lips in order to gasp for breath, and his mouth is a perfect, trembling circle. Oikawa Tooru, his best friend and boyfriend, has just come in his jeans on top of him. A real calender moment.

Iwaizumi allows Oikawa a hot, sweet moment of respite, but only a moment. He needs to come, too - even more urgently now that Oikawa has quivered his way through an orgasm right against him. He makes a slightly piteous noise. Oikawa swallows, and laughs shakily. ‘Sorry,’ he mutters. ‘Hang on, I’ve got you.’

Iwaizumi whimpers again - and then, God, again, when in a series of outrageously deft movements for someone who only a minute previously had been mindless in mid-orgasm, Oikawa pulls his sweatpants and boxers down, and gets a hand around him. Oh God, Iwaizumi thinks - and he is moaning it too, loud and disbelieving, because that’s actually Oikawa’s hand, isn’t it? Right - there, his brain supplies. It only takes a few clumsy, shaky pulls for him to come too - shuddering right into Oikawa’s warm hand.

Well, he thinks. That’s - that, then.

Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Oikawa wiping his hand on Iwaizumi’s sheets in a way that he clearly thinks is sneaky. Iwaizumi feels too floaty to care.

‘We just had sex,’ Oikawa says.

‘Yeah,’ Iwaizumi agrees. ‘I was there.’

‘Weird,’ says Oikawa, contemplative.

Iwaizumi flicks him, but he knows what Oikawa means. It means that the new creases in their relationship can’t ever be smoothed over - it’s changed irrevocably. it’s a new song that they’re still figuring out how to play. Iwaizumi wants to learn it by heart.

Oikawa flops down next to him, resting his head on his hands. He turns his head towards Iwaizumi, and Iwaizumi turns his too, so they’re looking at each other. Oikawa’s face is decorated with a small, shy smile that Iwaizumi’s not sure he’s seen before. He looks honest and happy - hair a disaster spilled out on Iwaizumi’s pillow, shirt creased, jeans - well, the less said there, the better, Iwaizumi thinks. Soon they’ll have to clean up - he’s already feeling cold and sticky - but for now, just the two of them, together. Happy, together. It’s nice. It’s so nice.

Oikawa hooks a leg over Iwaizumi’s hips and curls in close. He says, ‘Love you, Iwa-chan.’ He says it happy and easy.

They’ve said it before, but it feels different hearing it after sex. It feels strange, like a suit that’s too big for him. Iwaizumi can feel himself blushing. ‘I love you too,’ he manages, awkward with it. He hears Oikawa snort beside him.

‘That was convincing,’ he says, but he’s teasing, and even that’s nice. It’s a relief, even, to know that even after taking this step, that not everything has to change.

Not everything, but some things. And that’s okay too.

He says, ‘Tooru. I’m proud of you.’

Oikawa squints over at him, expecting a trick, but there’s no sudden bang, no puff of smoke: it’s just what it is. He says, ‘Uh?’

Iwaizumi says, ‘You’re amazing, I’m proud of you and what you’re doing in Tokyo. I’m sorry if I made it sound like I’m not.’

Oikawa turns pink, and grimaces. ‘Okay, okay, thanks, this is all a bit -’ After all this time and all the victories, he still struggles with genuine compliments. Oikawa sits up and rearranges his mussed shirt, glowering at Iwaizumi. ‘Moment killer,’ he says, but he’s smiling as he says it and he leans over to kiss Iwaizumi, and Iwaizumi knows that Oikawa had needed to hear it even so - that he’d needed to hear that Iwaizumi didn’t resent him for the move. That he’s free to keep rising - with no Icarus fall, because Iwaizumi will be study, strong wings for him, and the two of them will weather all of it, together.