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in defense of our overgrown garden

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From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

Congratulations on moving into this neighbourhood with Iwaizumi. I hope you will enjoy your stay here, and I apologise for not being able to greet you in person, as I am a very busy man.

As you might have noticed, I have also placed a pot of flowers next to your doorstep as a housewarming gift. It is a rue plant, traditionally meant to symbolise ‘regret’. I have expended great effort to procure this plant for you, as this is not a common flower you can find in your neighbourhood florist. The symbolism is entirely intentional.

I look forward to seeing you (and your boyfriend) around.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

Thank you for the cactus you have so generously placed right on my doorstep. No doubt it was simply an unintentionally poor decision you made on your part, if history is of any guide; rest assured that I noticed it in time, and stopped myself from stepping on it and injuring my foot. Thank you also for your kind compliments; I am pleased that you, too, are well acquainted with the delicate (and unfortunately, dying) art that is the flower-language. I am honoured that you think that ‘the damn cactus is an accurate reflection of (my) personality’; not unlike the cactus, I do take pride in being hardy and tenacious despite unfavourable external circumstances.

I see that you began the letter with ‘Ushiwaka-chan’. No doubt it was another unintentional oversight on your part.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

Apologies for the peculiar nature of my enquiry, but I am wondering if you too have been hearing strange, high pitched noises, accompanied by vigorous thumping sounds, every night. This baffling phenomena seems to have started around the period you and Iwaizumi moved next door, although I might be imagining things. Have you also been hearing these noises? Perhaps we should talk to the landlady about this.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

Thank you for the clarifications regarding the nightly noises. I have been duly enlightened, and will make no similar enquiries in the future.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

I am happy that your juniors have started to drop by for frequent visits; it is heartening to see that their loyalty towards their senpai is the sole consolation that came out of your unfortunate decision to go to Seijou. However, I am less enamoured by the chaotic nature of their visits; such unruliness is not only disruptive and inconsiderate, but also reflective of your disciplinary shortcomings as their ex-captain. You would not have witnessed such disgraceful behaviour from my Shiratorizawa juniors.

Two of them - your successor with light brown hair and the antagonistic-looking boy with bleached hair - have been particularly problematic, since they are almost always arguing very loudly whenever they come by to visit you. The resultant negative energy from their scuffles have already caused indirect damage to my begonia plant, which has began to wilt. I had to talk to it for an extra two hours yesterday to return it to its former vigour. They have also directly damaged my pansies after a particularly violent brawl, which took a significant amount of time and energy and money to remedy. I apologise for such a tedious recount and for mentioning something as vulgar as money, but I hope you will understand and take the necessary courses of action to rectify this situation.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

The two aforementioned juniors of yours have taken to alternately arguing noisily and making out obscenely whenever they’re waiting outside your door. This is not what I meant when I told you to rectify the situation.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

The funeral for my begonia plant will be held this Saturday afternoon at 2pm. Do drop by if you are free. The attire is smart casual.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

I am very sorry to hear that Iwaizumi has come down with ‘a very unfortunate and embarrassing case of the hernias’, although the graphic and extremely detailed anatomical description following that statement was not entirely necessary. Regardless, I completely understand your predicament, and would definitely not hold a grudge against you for not attending the funeral. Rest assured that I will also not mention Iwaizumi’s medical condition in his presence; I agree with you that it ‘would not do to hurt his manly pride’.

I see that you began the letter with ‘Ushiwaka-chan’ again. No doubt it was yet another unintentional oversight on your part.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

I am pleased to learn that both of you have recently adopted a dog, and I congratulate you on the newest addition to your family.

As sorry as I am to hear that ‘Iwa-chan is spending more time with the (omitted adjective) dog than he is with (you)’, I do not think it would be a prudent idea for me to ‘just kidnap the (omitted adjective) dog for two weeks so Iwa-chan can direct his loving attention back to (you)’. I am grateful that you ‘even bothered to spell (my) name properly this time’ and for your offer to water my begonia plants, although I must remind you that they have died three weeks ago under highly unfortunate circumstances.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

I am sorry to hear that you accidentally triggered a mass building evacuation while attempting to bake a cake for your three-year anniversary with Iwaizumi, although I am sure Iwaizumi is not going to ‘hate (you) forever and ever and ever’ even if both of you do not have a kitchen any more, neither will he ‘leave (you) behind and elope with the (omitted adjective) dog of his’.

Regarding your request to use my kitchen to bake another cake for Iwaizumi as a ‘make up gift’: please go ahead, I am glad to be of neighbourly assistance. I have slipped the keys to my apartment underneath the third pot from my door, the one with the red orchids.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

I am pleased to hear that you are on ‘talking (and fucking) terms with Iwa-chan again’. Thank you for the cheque for seven hundred thousand yen you slipped underneath my door. I believe that it would be adequate to cover the expenses required to rebuild my kitchen.

As a friend and neighbour I would urge you to lay off your culinary escapades for a while. The landlady came by today and told me that you are, I quote her verbatim, ‘one mass building evacuation away from being evicted out of the building forever’.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 


 

It’s a rainy Friday night when Ushijima opens the door to a rather forlorn looking Oikawa Tooru standing at his doorstep, his entire form emanating a manner of mixed signals: his shoulders are slumped, as if in defeat, but his arms are crossed defensively across his chest; his expression is carefully neutral, features almost hardening into mild hostility, but there is palpable worry lining the edges of his oddly reddish eyes.

‘Hello, Oikawa,’ Ushijima says, too surprised to say anything else. In response, Oikawa merely gives a stiff nod and says, ‘Ushiwaka-chan.’

Ushijima contemplates correcting Oikawa’s blatant desecration of his name - not like he hasn’t already done it at least five times on paper, but maybe saying it aloud might change things -  but stops himself. The fact that Oikawa hasn’t followed up his greeting with a scathing remark about Ushijima’s fascination with plants and their symbolisms, or his fashion sense (lack thereof), or his single status, as he is wont to do whenever the two of them happen to meet in the lobby, tells Ushijima that something is definitely wrong.

There’s a pregnant pause. The pregnant pause gives birth to many baby pauses, each more excruciating than the last. Finally, Oikawa looks up at him and says, ‘aren’t you going to let me in?’

Ushijima raises his eyebrows at the request, but dutifully opens the door and lets Oikawa in. Oikawa walks straight to the sofa and plops himself down into a boneless heap, looking all sad and defeated like a petulant child after a huge scolding. Ushijima, suddenly feeling somewhat out of place in his own home, trails behind slowly, and sits down onto the sofa opposite to Oikawa.

They stay in silence for a while, until Ushijima realises that Oikawa is not making any concerted effort to talk or move or do anything at all. He considers asking Oikawa what’s wrong, but empirical evidence has shown that Oikawa either finds a way to tell (or show) you what he wants you to know, or, if he doesn’t want you to know, skirts around a topic and talks in puzzles and riddles, effectively leaving you even more confused than before.

Ushijima makes his way to the window ledge, where most of his plants are, picks up the violin next placed next to the ledge, and starts to play.

Oikawa does react to that. ‘What the fuck are you doing, Ushiwaka-chan?’

‘Playing the violin,’ Ushijima replies simply. He’s been playing it every night ever since the… nightly noises started a few months ago, to drown the racket out, and it’s become a habit by now. Although he doesn’t suppose Oikawa should know that. ‘It’s good for the plants.’

Oikawa looks at him incredulously for a brief moment. Then he has the sheer audacity to roll his eyes at Ushijima. ‘Fine, whatever. I’m going to get food.’ He walks over to Ushijima’s kitchen and Ushijima hears the sound of his fridge being opened. Ushijima shrugs, and goes back to playing the violin. Oikawa makes his way back to the living room a while later with a pack of rice crackers and a jar of peanut butter.

‘What,’ he says defensively to Ushijima’s glare, while spooning peanut butter straight out of the jar with a cracker and stuffing everything in his mouth. ‘It was the only vaguely rebellious thing I could find in your pantry. Are you seriously going to eat those sacks of brown rice and dried mushrooms by yourself? Are you a horse?’

For a moment Ushijima contemplates throwing the insolent man sitting on his sofa out of his house, but because he was brought up to be better than people like Oikawa Tooru, he merely narrows his eyes and says, ‘what are you even doing here, in my house? Why aren’t you - ’ he stops because there is no delicate way to phrase the question ‘why aren’t you having your usual obscenely noisy Friday night sex with your boyfriend’.

Oikawa seems to have picked up on the unspoken question, however, because he freezes for a moment, before slowly setting the food back onto the table. He rubs his eyes tiredly.

‘Iwa-chan left for a business trip to New York two weeks ago,’ Oikawa says, and his expression is blank and his tone is uncharacteristically subdued.

‘Oh,’ Ushijima says. No wonder Oikawa’s been acting like a jilted lover grumpily eating his sorrows away.

‘He’s not coming back till two months later,’ Oikawa continues monotonously. ‘And it’s not like I can call him more than once a day because he’s so busy, and, well.’ Oikawa shrugs, but his voice cracks a little towards the end. ‘I guess I’m just gonna stay here and wait till he comes back.’

Oikawa looks up, and for a terrifying moment Ushijima realises that this is his cue to say something comforting and/ or profound. He racks his brain and runs through all the possible phrases - ‘I am sorry for your loss’ (no, he is not an insurance company and Iwaizumi isn’t dead yet); ‘I’m sure Iwaizumi misses you very much’ (too cheesy); ‘he’ll come back in two months’ time’ (not like Oikawa doesn’t already know) - and comes up with - nothing.

In a fit of semi-desperation, Ushijima walks over to his television set, and starts to dig around his stash of DVDs.

‘What are you doing?’ Oikawa asks. He sounds annoyed that his heartfelt problem isn’t being respectfully addressed.

‘Finding something to watch,’ Ushijima says, trying to stall for time as he rummages through a bunch of old DVDs.

‘Are we watching movies together?’ Oikawa says disbelievingly. ‘What are we going to do next? Have a pillow fight? Spill our deepest secrets to each other while binging on comfort food?’ (Ushijima is far too polite to point out that Oikawa has just confessed his problems to Ushijima while stuffing his face with rice crackers and peanut butter.)

Eventually he produces a few old DVDs, and inserts them into the DVD player. Miraculously, everything is still in working order - the screen flickers into life and buzzes a few times, and within a few seconds Ushijima finds himself looking at one of his high school matches against Seijou.

‘You kept all these DVDs?’ Oikawa says, looking at him incredulously, and Ushijima finds himself staring resolutely back at Oikawa, as if to say, what, like you mean you didn’t? Oikawa seems to get the message, because he follows his statement with a shrug. ‘Whatever. I guess there are worse ways to spend Friday night.’

Ten minutes into the match, Oikawa has already pointed out three mistakes of Ushijima’s and blown them entirely out of proportion. On another day Ushijima might reply in kind - only to help Oikawa improve, of course, because unlike Oikawa, Ushijima is a true sportsman - but it doesn’t escape him that every time Iwaizumi manages a good spike - and Ushijima has to admit, his spikes are good - or a nice block, Oikawa’s shoulders will momentarily stiffen, and his expression will freeze somewhere between pride and longing. Ushijima knows better than to disturb that.

For the most part, though, Oikawa seems to have forgotten all about his lovesick woes, and instead stares at the screen in rapt attention, as if trying to analyse each and every player to the death. Some habits are hard to break, after all.

 


 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

Thank you for the new pot of begonia plant you have placed next to my doorstep as a gift, even if you ‘only bought it because the cactus seemed lonely’. I appreciate the sentiment very much, although the worry is mostly unfounded on your part; I am very fond of Akemi-chan (the name of your cactus), and spend no less than thirty minutes every other day playing the harmonica to it.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi

 

From: Ushijima Wakatoshi
To: Oikawa Tooru

Dear neighbour,

Firstly, thank you for the wedding invitation; my heartiest congratulations on your engagement to Iwaizumi. As per your request, I would be happy to be one of your groomsmen for your big day. Do tell me if you would require my assistance with your wedding planning, other than ‘convincing Iwa-chan to make the dog the ring-bearer’; I am sure that my expertise with plants and flowers from my farming background would be of help when you are choosing your bouquets.

I have also placed a pot of flowers next to your door, as a congratulatory gift. It is a holly plant, meant to represent ‘domestic happiness’. The symbolism is entirely intentional. I wish you both all the happiness in the world.

Sincerely,
Ushijima Wakatoshi