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Small, Mundane Things

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The San Juan airport is a low, flat building and one runway, squatting on a dusty plain. It’s a speck of a thing compared to the behemoth Shoyo landed at when he first arrived in Rio, but that just means that it will be easier to find Oikawa after disembarking. Shoyo’s already gone through customs in Buenos Aires, so it won’t be a long process.

True enough, there Oikawa is: loitering in a sparse crowd of people by the terminal, sunglasses nestled in his fluffy hair. He probably thinks they make him look devastatingly handsome, and he might not be wrong. He’s also wearing an egg-blue t-shirt that pulls just right across his chest. Shoyo stops himself ogling too much, because they haven’t yet talked about continuing their thing from Rio six months ago (although given their regular texts and video chats, he figures he’s got a pretty good chance).

When Oikawa spots him, he grins, and Shoyo runs. Oikawa catches him in a gracious hug, giving Shoyo no choice but to lay his head against Oikawa’s clavicle and cuddle into his warmth. There are far worse fates.

“I missed you,” he says, muffled by t-shirt cotton.

He expects a smart-alec reply, meant to sound dismissive while doing nothing to hide its fondness (because Oikawa isn’t as slick as he thinks). But instead:

“Heh,” Oikawa says, and Shoyo can feel the hiccupped laugh. “Yeah, I missed you, too.”

 


 

Actually, all of San Juan is smaller than Rio; it even feels smaller than Sendai. Oikawa confirms this as they merge onto the freeway that rings the bulk of the city, when Shoyo cranes his neck but can only catch flashes of low buildings past the trees.

“Yup, San Juan’s population is half of Sendai’s.” Oikawa’s hair flies in the wind from his open window and is tinged the color of a blood orange by the setting sun. He got his international driver’s license a few months back, and he already seems pretty comfortable behind the wheel, despite having never learned to drive back in Japan. He picked it up fast, unsurprisingly.

Shoyo gives him a shit-eating grin. “Oikawa-san, were you bored when you first moved here?”

“Bored? How could I be? I was learning a new language and starting with a new team! Nothing about that is—okay, maybe a little.” He nibbles his lip. “Well, I felt exposed more than anything. It’s a very open city.”

“Huh?”

Oikawa swats Shoyo’s knee. “You’ll see, you’ll see!”

And Shoyo understands as soon as they pull off the ring road, moseying down wide streets lined with leafy trees and single- to two-storey buildings, shops interspersed with homes. The occasional taller structure juts from the landscape, but Shoyo doesn’t spot anything higher than ten floors, at least not in this part of the city. And since the terrain is flat like a cracker, the whole effect is one of wide open space, nowhere to hide from the vast blue sky and burning sun. (Shoyo thinks he understands Argentina’s flag now.) It’s breathable, something Shoyo appreciates, but it’s no wonder Oikawa, having grown up so close to the claustrophobic bustle of Sendai, felt exposed when he moved here.

Oikawa swerves halfway into a driveway and jumps out of the car to open the gate. While Shoyo waits, he takes the opportunity to gawk at the house the driveway belongs to, a modest two-storey with a flat roof. The exterior is plaster painted yellow, neutral and pale like many of the other houses they’ve passed, and there’s a second-floor balcony, adorned with potted plants, that overlooks the yard. All in all, it’s really nice. It seems like a home, something that Shoyo has yet to fully feel for his apartment in Rio, and he’s the teensiest bit jealous. In the beginning, he’d been acutely aware that he was living in borrowed space—Pedro’s apartment, not his own—and that someone had occupied this room before him, that other people had occupied the whole apartment before Pedro, and that it would be passed on to strangers long after he and Pedro left. Their marks were everywhere: dark lines scraped across the bedroom wall behind the bed, a cracked tile on the kitchen floor, a splatter of dark teal paint on the edge of the bathroom mirror that didn’t match the cream-painted walls.

These marks have since become a part of the scenery, and he’s left his own marks, too. There’s a faint pink stain splashed on the kitchen ceiling from the time he and Pedro attempted to open a bottle of red without a corkscrew, forcing the cork down into the belly and flinching as their wine exploded upwards. His belongings are strewn around his room, he knows all the lumps in the mattress, he’s become accustomed to tuning out the music and chatter that bubbles up from the street, and he’s no longer surprised when people kiss his cheek in greeting. (He’d considered himself a touchy person before coming to Brazil, only to find out how relative that term is.) After eight months, it’s growing familiar, which brings a sense of ease with it. It may not be home yet, but it isn’t not home, either. He thinks he’ll be a little sad to leave when it comes time to return to Japan.

“You’re renting a house?” he asks when Oikawa climbs back in the car.

“Just the top floor.” Oikawa pulls into the driveway and puts the car in park. “Although I could totally afford to rent a house if I wanted. But, ah, I like knowing there are people close by.”

Shoyo nods, understanding even though he doesn’t quite feel the same.

“Come on,” Oikawa says. “Let’s get your stuff inside, and then we can go get dinner.”

Inside is just as homey, with more plants on the windowsills. Shoyo loses his shoes in the entryway and skates across the tiled kitchen floor in his socks. On the counter beside the fridge is homemade milk bread, and Shoyo remembers when Oikawa was learning to bake it himself, lamenting over video call about how Argentina’s high importation taxes meant his family couldn’t send him many care packages. The fridge itself boasts a few pictures and a menu for an Italian restaurant, pinned in place by a couple of magnets: a Mikasa volleyball, and a little flying saucer. In the pictures, Shoyo recognizes a few former Seijoh members and Oikawa’s nephew. Shoyo himself isn’t in any of them, but Oikawa does have on display a postcard Shoyo sent him, featuring Ipanema beach where they ran into each other all those months ago.

“We can put your stuff in the guest bedroom for now,” Oikawa says, coming up behind him. “As for where you’ll sleep…” He gaze slides down Shoyo’s body before he gives an easy shrug. “Up to you.”

Shoyo rests his chin in the crook between thumb and forefinger, pretending to think hard. “Hmm, well, I’ll have to think about it. Although I could be persuaded one way or another.”

“Is that so?”

“Mhm.”

Oikawa crowds him against the counter, arms braced against the linoleum and bracketing Shoyo’s body, and ducks his head. They are eye to gleaming eye, tilted into each other’s space, giddy heat churning in Shoyo’s belly. A smile threatens to expose itself on Oikawa’s lips.

“Can I persuade you, then?” he asks.

Shoyo feels a smile of his own tug at his cheeks. “Go ahead and try, if you can.”

“I think I’ll manage.”

Shoyo’s eyes slip shut as they crane towards each other, but when their noses brush is the exact moment his stomach decides voice its emptiness, declaring with a growl that it’s been about eight hours since he last ate and it wants food now, damn it. Oikawa lets out a hideous snort and throws his head back to cackle.

“I see you’re just as hungry as ever,” he says, and Shoyo’s face flushes.

“Shut up.”

“Well, I did promise you dinner.” Oikawa leans in once more, ghosts a kiss across the corner of Shoyo’s mouth, and whispers, “Later.”

Mollified, Shoyo follows him to the door. At least he knows they’re on the same page. He’s waited this long already; a little longer won’t kill him.

 


 

A memory:

Morning in Rio, and it’s raining. Shoyo can see the grey sheet of it, and he can smell it, warm and humid, but he can’t hear it drumming on the roof that is too many floors above him. That’s one of many things he didn’t realize he’d miss when he left home, which he’s learned is only partly about the place and people; it’s also an accumulation of small, mundane things that you don’t notice until they’re gone. Two months into his two-year stay, everything is still too new to have become mundane.

But here is a piece of home, someone who straddles the divide in Shoyo’s life of before Brazil and after: Oikawa, half-asleep in bed with him, tracing tiny patterns into Shoyo’s back. They are naked, sharing the warmth of as much bare skin as they can press together; and it is ease, it is comfort, it is innocent in a way the same embrace last night was most definitely not.

They’ve already confessed their loneliness, their homesickness for a place and time where they knew exactly who they were and where they fit, but this morning is a respite from that longing, because they both understand. They are learning themselves and each other in ways they couldn’t have, had they stayed in Japan. And it’s a little bit terrifying but—

They aren’t doing it alone.

And it feels so good to be back together again, here in San Juan. The evening is warm, but the breeze through the restaurant window is cool and raises the hairs on Shoyo’s bare arms. Still, his weather app says it’ll be super duper hot here in just a couple days, maybe with dust, so he’s grateful for this weather while it lasts.

“So,” Oikawa says after ordering for them, “how’s my second best friend doing?”

Shoyo groans. It’s become a running joke between them: they’d grown close so fast that it would’ve been easy to call themselves ‘best friends’ except, according to Oikawa—“Iwa-chan has seniority, and he’d kill me if I let you usurp him, so I guess you’ll just have to settle for being my second best friend!”

Laughing, Oikawa says, “But seriously, how’s Rio?”

“Hot. Very, very hot. And crowded.” Shoyo sips his water. Rio is a riot of sound and smells and movement, and it’s great, really, but it’s also a lot. “It’s nice to get away to someplace quieter. But I’m liking it more every day!”

Oikawa rests his chin on his fist, giving Shoyo a coy smile. “Oh, that’s right. I forgot you used to be a country bumpkin.”

Shoyo won’t stand for defamation, so he kicks Oikawa in the shin, and Oikawa kicks back, and then they’re at war. Discreetly, of course, keeping their upper bodies looking cool and collected. There are only two other patrons sitting several tables over—despite the horizon bruising purple and blue-black, it’s early for dinner—but still. They shouldn’t act in ways that are unseemly, for the sake of Oikawa’s professional reputation. Oikawa puts and end to it when he reaches down and catches Shoyo’s ankle, pulling his foot into his lap with a grin that says, I win.

Little zings zip across Shoyo’s skin as Oikawa starts to massage up and down his calf and shin, expression going pensive.

“Well, I’m glad you’re settling in well. And the roommate?”

“He’s great!” Even though they’d had trouble connecting at first, Pedro’s turned out to be the best roommate Shoyo could ask for, and now they watch anime together nearly every night when Shoyo gets back from the beach. “But what about you? You seem to be really comfortable here now.”

Before Oikawa can answer, he stiffens, dropping Shoyo’s leg. Not a moment later, their waiter returns, sliding plates of steak in front of them, and it’s all Shoyo can do to keep from digging in before the waiter leaves. So what? He had a seven and a half hour flight, and he refuses to eat airplane food if he can help it.

Oikawa is also pretty ravenous; they spend the next several minutes chowing down in silence. Then Oikawa sets down his knife and fork and stretches his arms out in front of him, faux-casual, his smile smug. “So, not to brag, but next season, I’m going to be CA San Juan’s starting setter.”

Shoyo’s got a mouthful of meat at the moment, so he says “Hmm!!” and gives the most enthusiastic double thumbs up he can muster, fumbling his fork in the process.

Once he’s gulped down his food, he says, “That’s awesome!”

“And that’s not all. I was talking to José just after I got back from Brazil, and he thinks that in a few years, I could be a serious contender for the national team, if I’m willing to make the commitment.”

“Commitment? Wait, you mean, like, citizenship?”

Oikawa nods. “I think…I want to go for it.”

His nonchalant demeanor as he leans back in his chair would scream confidence to anyone who knows him less, but Shoyo picks up on the slight clench of his jaw, the calculating wariness behind his eyes—like he’s afraid Shoyo will be disappointed, somehow. But Shoyo thinks about the car, and the plants and pictures all around Oikawa’s apartment, and the Spanish that rolls off his tongue, and how could Shoyo be disappointed? Citizenship feels like a natural step forward for Oikawa, because he’s carved out a place for himself. Shoyo is so, so proud he thinks his feelings are going to kabam and whoosh right out of his chest.

“That sounds perfect!” he says. “Then I’ll have a better chance of facing you on the court someday!”

And Oikawa’s face splits into a stupid grin.

“I can’t think of anything better.”

 


 

Evening finds them on Oikawa’s couch and passionately preoccupied with each other’s mouths, two glasses of wine forgotten on the coffee table. All it had taken was a lull in the conversation, a smirk and an eyebrow waggle from Oikawa, and that was that; Shoyo had crawled into his lap, lips eagerly met.

He can’t get enough of running his finger through Oikawa’s soft hair or feeling up his chest, which—ugh, it’s so good. Oikawa is so hot it’s ridiculous. Muscle beneath Shoyo’s palm, nearly frantic as he pets from his shoulders to his waist and back. A very large hand squeezes his ass, and Shoyo licks into Oikawa’s mouth for all he’s worth.

Maybe he overdoes it, just a tiny bit, because Oikawa pulls away, chuckling and nuzzling Shoyo’s cheek.

“What’s the rush?” he whispers right in Shoyo’s ear. “I want us to take our time tonight.”

The rush is that Shoyo is insanely turned on right now, and he’s really, really missed this, so he retaliates by mouthing at Oikawa’s neck and sucking just above his collarbone. Oikawa’s breath hitches, and he gasps an “Ohhh, fuck” that makes Shoyo lightheaded.

“Or,” he says against the reddening bruise, “we could fuck now and have time for more later.”

Oikawa pulls him up, dark, hooded eyes boring into his own. “When did I say we were only going one round? We’ve got all night. But first, I want to kiss you some more.”

And how can Shoyo say no, when Oikawa’s lips are back on his, and he’s being kissed, slow and relentless and deep, like an incoming tide? He responds in kind, devouring Oikawa with a determination to convey all the emotions twirling around in his chest and wanting out. He tunes out the faint voices from the street and the neighbors downstairs, ignores the cloth burn from his knees on the couch, and focuses instead on where their bodies are connected: Oikawa’s thighs beneath Shoyo’s own and their arms wound tight around each other and the hand palming the back of his head to hold him in place and the barely-there patch of prickly stubble just under Oikawa’s bottom lip. They are making out for making out’s sake, not just as a prelude to sex, and that’s a great feeling all on its own. Shoyo almost can’t imagine anything better. Well, except for one thing.

“Oikawa-san,” he breathes when they break apart, then almost forgets to finish his thought with how beautiful Oikawa looks, disheveled hair and glazed-over eyes and pink cheeks. Shoyo can’t resist one more peck before continuing: “I don’t want to be your second best friend anymore.”

Oikawa scowls. The furrow in his brow doesn’t ruin his attractiveness in the slightest. “I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt given the current situation, so you’d better have a damn good reason. Spill it.”

“Well, I kinda want to be your boyfriend instead.”

There’s a moment of silence in which Oikawa’s mouth falls open, and an airplane hums high overhead, and someone squeals with laughter across the street.

“You—” he chokes. “What do you mean, ‘kinda’? I’m offended you’re anything less than wholly enthusiastic!”

He snakes a hand beneath Shoyo’s shirt and jabs his side. Shoyo flinches away with a shout, but Oikawa is sadistic and holds him in place, grinning, and jabs him again.

“No, Oikawa-san! I’m enthusiastic! I’m enthusiastic!” Shoyo cries out between fits of gasped laughter. “Great King, have mercy!”

Oikawa relents, soothing his hand along Shoyo’s ribs while he catches his breath.

“That’s better.” He nudges Shoyo’s chin up and offers a fond smile. Shoyo knows he was just teasing.

“I mean it,” he says. “I’m just really proud of you, and being around you makes me super happy!”

Oikawa’s cheeks turn pink, and then he’s crushing them together and ravishing Shoyo’s mouth, ferocious in the ways he nips and eats up all his groans. Their breaths come hard and loud through their noses, and Oikawa’s fingers slip beneath Shoyo's waistband.

This is prelude-to-sex kissing. Finally.

“Thought you wanted to take it slow,” he teases when Oikawa hoists him by his thighs and walks them to the bedroom, pausing once to pin him to the doorframe and bite a bruise into his throat.

“This is your fault, brat,” is the panted reply, accompanied by a smack to his ass. “You got me worked up.”

“I guess you did say we had all night.”

And Oikawa’s desperate groan tells Shoyo all he needs to know.

 


 

Shoyo’s already been up a couple hours by the time his boyfriend—wow—trudges from the bedroom in an old Seijoh t-shirt, worn thin.

“Morning,” Oikawa mumbles, dropping a kiss to Shoyo’s hair, and Shoyo pours him a mug of coffee from the ready-brewed pot, adds sugar just how he likes it.

After a few slow sips, Oikawa says, “I see you’re still a disgustingly early riser.”

“But, that means I can make you breakfast!”

“Never said it was a bad thing.” Oikawa places his mug on the counter and then reaches for Shoyo with grabby hands. “C’mere.”

Shoyo lets himself get pulled into a coffee-flavored (bleh) kiss, but he’ll tolerate it because it’s Oikawa, and Oikawa always knows how to kiss him just right. This morning, that means a few open-mouthed presses; Shoyo sighs and melts.

When they pull apart, Oikawa hums. “I like having you in my home.”

There’s that word again: home. Standing in the kitchen, Shoyo knows it to be true of this place Oikawa’s claimed so far from Japan. Shoyo himself still plans on going back—he misses a lot of people, and all the food he just can’t get in Rio, and snow in the winter—but it’s mostly because he has things to prove. He’d always assumed that going back to Japan would mean going home, but now he’s not sure it’s that simple. Japan will always be his home in that it’s the place where he grew up, and its informed so much of who he is, but he’s getting rather attached to Brazil, too. Now that he’s seen Oikawa make a home for himself in another country, the possibilities for Shoyo are blown wide open.

He just hopes that someday, wherever in the world he ends up, Oikawa will still be a part of his life, so Shoyo will be able to echo his words back to him and say:

“I like having you in my home, too.”