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Hajime never knows why thinking that “just let Oikawa do his thing” ever sounded like a good idea.

Oikawa, on the other hand, glows incandescent while he’s giving their graduation speech, bathing in the applause of their classmates for a moment before rushing off the podium and right into Hajime’s arms. Hajime tries to push him off because his cheeks are blooming just as red as his dad’s tie, but Oikawa has never cared about what other people may think about him, about Hajime, or about both of them being seen together.

“Iwa, I have a wonderful surprise for you! It’s my graduation gift to both of us.” Hajime freezes in terror, mentally preparing himself for a lot of things, but Oikawa still manages to hit him right in his stupid, fast-beating heart. “I’m going to the same university as you! I got accepted yesterday. And guess what – we’ll be roommates, Iwa! Isn’t that great?”

There’s no force on this earth that could keep Oikawa from what he wants, so, just like always, he ricochets back to Hajime.

“You – what the fuck?”

“Yeah! I just couldn’t let you go alone, you wouldn’t survive a month without me, Iwa-chan.”

Hajime takes the impact of Oikawa’s bullet with open arms. He should have known. A dumb smile seethes on his lips, warmth curling down his spine. How does he do it? How is Oikawa all of that and more, more than anyone but Hajime could ever hold?

He breathes. Oikawa is close, smelling of lavender and mint.

“You goddamn idiot.” He takes a deep breath, ignoring the wild flare of foolish, stupid happiness twitching through his stomach.

The crinkles of laughter around Oikawa’s eyes flatten. “Iwa, I only wanted to-”

Hajime throws his arm around Oikawa’s shoulders and gently headbutts him. “You won’t be sleeping in my bed. Ever.” His forehead rests against Oikawa’s temple for a moment. Yes. Okay. I want this.

Oikawa stares at him, beautiful eyes wide, his hair a soft dark mess. When he smiles, it’s light all over his cheeks. Hajime’s heart hurts.

“You’re the best, Iwa-chan!”

He takes Hajime’s hand and pulls him through the crowd towards their parents, waving big as he takes long strides forward.

Hajime follows.

---

When a guy from his class asks Hajime if that’s his boyfriend waiting outside the lecture hall, Hajime throws him a strange glare. “Hell no.” How’d he get that idea? Hajime slaps Oikawa’s shoulder when he tries to pull Hajime into a full-body hug. Friends, that’s what they are.

Not boyfriends, not lovers, oh God. It’s Oikawa. It would be strange, Hajime tells himself. Impossible.

---

‘Iwa-chan’ fades into a forgotten ghost sometime between their first evening in the dorm and Oikawa’s soft breath on Hajime’s neck in the morning. The couch around them is littered with empty ice cream cartons, and Hajime is pretty sure that he’s going to find a garden of broken chips planted in the cushions. His back hurts from sleeping with Oikawa draped over him, face resting somewhere on the armrest with Hajime slightly below him, arms wrapped around each other.

He can’t bring himself to care, not when Oikawa shifts in a way where sunlight catch on his lashes and illuminate them like fairy-spun gold. Hajime reaches out, his fingers brushing over Oikawa’s cheek, the pale line of his jaw, that soft spot under the shell of his ear.

“Hajime?”

His fingers go rigid, ice-cold. Oikawa’s eyes open, the darkness inside catching spots of light, tiny suns orbiting around the universe of his pupils.

“I just.” Hajime sucks in a breath, drops his forehead against Oikawa’s shoulder. “Morning,” he says, a bit too weak, his words cracking at their frail edges. It’s been a decade since Oikawa called him that.

“It’s okay,” Oikawa says. “Did you sleep well, Hajime?”

God, his first name sounds like it belongs on those lips, sleep-drunk and rough and warm, and Hajime is so, so utterly and completely lost in the force of nature that is Oikawa – with his fire and gold, and the brush of his legs against Hajime’s, entangled from a night of pressing against each other.

“Yeah. Just kinda hungover, I think.” His head does hurt a bit. Hajime tries to remember what exactly accompanied their orgy of ice cream and chips. Oh, right. Wine. His stomach does a weird twist and churn.

Oikawa seems entirely unaffected, merely wiggling around and pulling Hajime closer. “Me too. Let’s just stay in bed.” Hajime is a bit worried that Oikawa can intake so much alcohol without as much as the trace of a headache – but maybe he’s always left the volleyball club’s parties too early.

He closes his eyes and groans, “That’s the best idea you’ve had all week.”

Oikawa yawns and chuckles, stretching his arms over his head before throwing them over Hajime. “You’re comfy. I think I’ll cast you as the main role in a movie called ‘Me, My Bed, and Hajime’. You in?”

“Oh my God, shut up and let me go back to sleep.”

Somewhere between re-waking to the scent of coffee and toast, between a warm body sliding against the curve of Hajime’s chest, fitting there smooth and fluid like water, ‘Iwa-chan’ vanishes forever.

‘Hajime’ is what stays behind afterwards, indestructible, melting back onto Oikawa’s sweet mouth as if it had never been gone. It’s like finding their old friendship necklaces that Oikawa had made from colourful plastic strings. Hajime had grown out of his, but he found out that it fits perfectly around his older wrist.

It’s not quite the same, but it’s good. It’s enough.

---

Fine, maybe Oikawa is kind of beautiful. Maybe he’s gorgeous. Maybe Hajime catches himself staring out of the window before falling asleep, connecting the stars outside after the constellation of freckles on Oikawa’s cheeks that he has memorized.

He’s not in love with him.

---

Oikawa has always worked hard, but never like this.

It’s been three months since they moved in together, and the coach of their new volleyball team has started to put their abilities to the test.

Hajime knows he can’t win against spikers with years of experience over him. Not yet. He still tries, works his ass off with extra practices and research, learns the team’s unspoken rules of not kicking out against senior players. He’s good, in his own way – not yet overwhelming, but the praise starts to come more frequent now, and one evening the coach sends him a short e-mail that says “I expect you to be at your best in the next game, you’re a starter.”

But all of his efforts look small compared to the exhaustions that Oikawa puts himself through.

When Oikawa spends yet another evening on the couch, tactics and statistics spread across the coffee table, Hajime decides that he has to do something.

“Hey.” Oikawa barely moves, only giving a distracted hum to acknowledge Hajime’s presence. Oh, he hates being ignored so much more than Oikawa does, but he doesn’t show it. “Have you eaten anything today? Like, anything at all?”

Oikawa turns a page in his notebook, scribbles something in a long row of his neat, tiny-lettered handwriting. Then he leans back and gives Hajime a weak smile. “Are you worrying about me, Hajime? How cute.”

He doesn’t buy Oikawa’s act for a second. “Don’t call me that. Did you or did you not?”

The silence that lasts for a heartbeat too long is all Hajime needs to know. “Hmm,” Oikawa says, ducking his head. “I think I had a couple of Monsters? A protein bar?”

“Are you fucking – Jesus, you wouldn’t survive without me.”

Hajime is already on his way to the kitchen when Oikawa moves behind him, the sound of stumbling feet raining down.

“It’s fine, really! You don’t have to – I just had a long day.”

Hajime opens the fridge to scoop out some Chinese takeout leftovers and a bell pepper that Oikawa loves. “Don’t even try to shit me like that. You’re gonna eat, or I’ll make you.”

“So fierce, Hajime,” Oikawa says. “You could make me do a lot of things, I bet.” He doesn’t protest against Hajime’s complaints, though, and that’s not good. Hajime can feel the exhaustion radiating without even turning around, and he hurries to flick on the stove and warm up that junk food. It’s not much, but Oikawa has to eat something.

“You gotta stop with the energy drinks,” Hajime says when the silence gets too thick. Oikawa still doesn’t say anything. He’s usually got a presence that demands attention, but when they’re alone, it softens into playful bickering with Hajime, into far-too-affectionate cuddling that isn’t supposed to be like that with friends, not even friends who know each other’s souls like they do –

He jolts at the sudden grip of trembling arms around his waist. Hajime freezes. The takeout sizzles in the pan, and he still has to chop the bell pepper, but Oikawa’s head falls onto his shoulder and the world stops, quiets, everything soft and warm for a second.

“You okay?” Hajime’s voice shakes a bit too much. He doesn’t dare to look at Oikawa, how he’s pushing his face into Hajime’s shoulder and leaves his skin burning, even through fabric and God – he has to get a hold of himself, because this is his best friend.

Oikawa laughs, soft. “Yes. Don’t worry, Hajime.”

“Someone’s gotta take care of you. ‘specially when you’re treating yourself like shit again.”

“Aww, so mean.” Oikawa’s mouth shifts against his shoulder, and Hajime imagines what those lips would – fuck. Inappropriate. For all he knows, Oikawa doesn’t take any interest in people past flirting, and even that’s more of just another game he always wins.

Hajime tries to remember what air tastes inside his lungs. He stirs the takeout, flicks the stove off. “Food’s ready.”

“Watch a movie with me, Hajime. I get to pick.”

“Hell no.”

Oikawa pouts, props his chin up on Hajime’s shoulder with a dissatisfied mewl. “Come on! You said you’d take care of me. I’m so weak from hunger, I’m totally gonna explode into a thousand cute little pieces if you don’t keep me company and massage my feet while complimenting my excellent taste in movies.”

“I will absolutely not touch your feet. Not even after bathing in disinfectant.”

Oikawa grins, sharp and wonderful against his shoulder. His hands shift, drawing circles onto Hajime’s stomach, making his muscles twitch from the radiating heat. “You didn’t say no to a movie, though.”

Hajime stretches to fetch a plate from the cupboard. “Let go of me, or I’ll spice up your food with green smoothie powder.”

Ack! Oh God, please don’t, I have no idea how you can drink that stuff.” The warm hands vanish from his stomach, and Hajime can finally breathe again. He turns around and pushes the plate into Oikawa’s hands, trying to keep the dark glare on his face.

“Fine,” he sighs, and the way Oikawa’s stupidly gorgeous face lights up is all he ever needs, all he’s ever going to want and could never have. “Get your ass on the couch. But I swear, if you’re gonna pick the whole Alien trilogy again, I’m gonna-”

“You’re the best, Hajime! God, I could kiss you right now!” And just like that, Oikawa takes the plate, beaming at him like a newborn sunrise, and sashays into the living room. Hajime follows, slow, watches Oikawa curl into his famous blanket nest, legs pulled close and plate balanced on his knees.

Hajime ends up giving in and they watch the whole Alien trilogy. He falls asleep a few times only to be woken up by Oikawa’s impatient elbow-jabs in his ribs at a particularly disgusting array of slime and alien intestines. Gross. He doesn’t know why he does it, really. But when the last movie’s credits glow on the TV screen and Oikawa nuzzles into Hajime’s collarbone, he gently, carefully, curls his hand behind Oikawa’s neck, brushing his thumb along the warmth of his pulse. Oikawa smiles, and his breath evens into a quiescent rhythm, burning an invisible mark into the skin of Hajime’s collar.

Tooru, his heart whispers.

He realizes that it’s never really been gone, that he hasn’t forgotten it. The name tastes as it always has. Lavender, mint, and a warm voice whispering “Hajime” into his poor, hopelessly lost heart.

---

The other people in his class have started to giggle whenever Tooru shows up in front of his classroom with a glowing smile and a far too obnoxious wave. Hajime ignores their chatter and picks a leaf out of Tooru’s hair. It’s softer than he remembers from middle school. It smells nice, too, when he gets closer – like lavender again and, stupid as it is, a bit like home.

---

An evening in November comes, and Hajime finds the dorm room in silence when he returns from a day of school, work, and grocery shopping.

There are no footsteps when he enters. There’s no soft patting of naked toes on the old parquet of their tiny corridor. The kitchen is empty and spotless, the bathroom white, shining and polished, all pillows from the couch gone. The last time Tooru had cleaned the whole apartment was after they lost a match on an errant toss in the third set.

Hajime had found him in the shower then, blood meandering down his pale arms, and Tooru hadn’t even seen him through the tears, through the way his breath came in broken hiccups, his sobs echoing off the walls and the deafening silence. He hadn’t heard Hajime suck in a horrified breath at the sight of his rubbed sore fingers that kept scratching at the one tile with the black indent that had been there ever since they moved in. His fingers were bleeding, and Hajime had felt his mind go blank, empty, only the roaring voice of fear left inside his head.

I can’t stand seeing you hurt.

“I’ll make it perfect again,” Tooru said when Hajime dropped to his knees and pulled him to the panicked beating of his heart, to the thunder of his ribcage and the trembling warmth of his arms.

“You already did,” Hajime told him after he dragged Tooru onto the couch, wrapping bandages over his fingers and cracked palms. “You were perfect, idiot.” You always are

Now, the whole flat is as clean and tidy as then, again, fucking again, and Hajime’s stomach does a terrifying stumble over a cliff and into a dark, dark abyss.

“Tooru.”

His voice thunders in the silence, the heavy plastic bags dropping from his hands, and Hajime crosses the living room in a few huge steps. The balcony’s door gapes, the curtains wafting into the living room like ghosts.

He slams it open, hears the glass panel sing as it hits the wall. The sky is black overhead, billions and billions of stars, but none of that matters if, if

There he is, curled up in a corner. Hajime stops, breathes again, lets the oxygen flood his screaming lungs. Tooru, he thinks, oh God.

He doesn’t know what he would’ve done if – but it’ll be okay. He’s here. He’s here.

“You idiot. You – shit, I thought something happened.”

Hajime stands there, his chest tight and cold, staring down at the nook against the wall where a cocoon of blankets shivers in the night air.

Tooru’s head lifts from where it was pressed against the crowns of his pulled-close knees. Wet shines on his cheeks, and his eyes are red around their rims, dark lashes heavy under his swollen lids.

“Hajime,” he says, and his mouth stretches thin and pale around Hajime’s name. “You… you’re here.” The worst thing is that he’s still beautiful, even when he’s hurting so terribly, deeply inside his soul. Hajime bites his lip before he comes closer. Tooru’s arms are wrapped around himself, but the fingers that peek out from under the blanket are pale and pure, unhurt. Hajime breathes out, slow.

“You’re here,” Tooru repeats, a shiver of surprise in his voice. “Oh.”

“Of course I am. What the fuck are you doing out here?”

Tooru smiles, the wrong piece to the only puzzle that Hajime’s ever sat down with and rested his fingertips on. “Sorry. I’m sorry.” Tooru blinks, looks down. He’s small like that, and a trace of saltwater trickles from between his lashes, falls from his chin. “Haji – I’m – sorry.”

I know, Hajime thinks, and then, I could never be as brave as you are, every day, as if you breathe courage through your lungs and into your cracked, broken skin, just to stay whole.

He doesn’t say it out loud. Instead, he says:

“It’s okay.” It’s not. “Move over.”

Tooru does. The blanket isn’t big enough for them to share, so Hajime drapes it over Tooru’s shoulders and pulls him between his legs, letting him curl up and bury his face into Hajime’s neck, right where his heart beats wild enough for the both of them.

---

They don’t talk.

Tooru buries his trembling fingers in Hajime’s shirt, building a nest of blankets and pillows inside his hug. He lets Tooru do whatever and watches him fall asleep after hours, after an eternity.

There’s a thin veil of tears left on his face. Hajime wipes them with his thumb, careful, and rests his hand on Tooru’s jaw. It’s as natural as breathing – like he’s meant to be the bones that Tooru sleeps against, meant to be the skin to warm his cold soul back into its native brightness.

When the horizon dawns in purple and gold, crimson bleeding over the city, he carries Tooru back inside.

He gets two hours of sleep that night. When he wakes up, Tooru’s singing a trashy pop song in the kitchen, and it smells like coffee and pancakes.

Hajime is late to his early morning class and falls asleep on his desk. It’s worth it, he finds, when Tooru sends him a text with a little alien smiley, and

cute idiot, 11:13am:
[ look its u :)
]

During Hajime’s last class, he sends another text.

cute idiot, 1:34pm:
[ thank you. ]

Hajime bites back the wild jolt of warmth spiraling down his spine, nub by nub, curling into a comfortable heat in his stomach.

to: cute idiot, 1:36pm:
[ don’t mention it. we’re outta milk and you’re on cooking duty. ]

The answer is immediate.

cute idiot, 1:37pm:
[ im gonna make hajime-style curry. cause im in the mood for something hot ;) ]

Hajime stares until the screen of his phone darkens, then pockets it before the blush on his face starts to resemble a cherry even more. 

--

When he returns home, the kitchen is a mess and Tooru’s curry is far too spicy. Hajime gets seconds and burns his tongue, but it’s worth it when Tooru grins at him and rests his head on Hajime’s shoulder as they cuddle into the couch-pillow-nest he’s built.

Later, Hajime takes a shower and finds a bit of Tooru’s lavender shampoo sticking to the dark indent on that one tile. He doesn’t wipe it off.

---

He’s on cleaning duty after practice the next day. When the coach and his assistant pass by, Hajime hears the coach say, “Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard on him.” His mind stills, and a sharp, silver pain twitches through his veins. The two men are walking away from Hajime, towards the exit, but he hears their words louder than a hurricane, louder than his own war-drum heartbeat.

The assistant shakes his head. “No, you were right. At this rate he’ll be our leading player in a week.”

“Maybe. Or he’s going to break.”

“Let’s hope he doesn’t. He’s just a natural on the court, I’ve never seen anything like it. With some more practice, he’ll be brilliant.”

Their quiet chatter cuts out as the gym doors slam shut behind them.

Hajime stands, fingers tight and cold around the broom he uses to wipe the floor. It takes him another hour to clean the gym before he’s walking home, his chest roaring, screaming, wild animal claws of his heart digging into his skin.

Tooru sleeps on the couch at home, curled into Hajime’s blanket. The shadows under his eyes have faded from black to a pale violet, and his fingers cling to the pillow underneath his head like he’s reaching for something.

“You idiot,” Hajime says. “You goddamn fucking idiot.”

He falls asleep next to him, the hollow of his hands curved around Tooru’s neck in a helpless attempt to protect him from something, from everything. Hajime catches himself staring at him, again, when he wakes up at three in the morning, because Tooru shifted the slightest bit and kneed him in the stomach. Hajime searches for a trace of anger inside his chest. He doesn’t find it. All that’s left is the urge to brush Tooru’s soft hair back and kiss his forehead, and whisper, “You’ve always been brilliant” into the vulnerable arch of his neck.

---

A week later, Tooru delivers seven service aces in the first set of a game against a supposedly stronger university. The crowd howls like wolves, and heat floods Hajime’s chest when the team captain claps Tooru’s shoulder and says, “Good job.” 

By the third set and the twelfth time the ball hit the enemy’s court without touching another player’s hand, the other team’s libero tenses with something like fear as Tooru gets in position to serve.

They don’t just win. It’s more.

Tooru guides them through the match like a dance, a symphony of thrills and staccatos engulfing the gym in breathless applause. But Hajime sees the way Tooru’s eyes gleam, and his own skin starts to crawl in reverence. He’s already brilliant, has never been anything else.

Tooru’s cold precision has all the blockers in place, their own libero receiving spikes like they’re nothing, their defense immortal against their enemy’s increasingly desperate attempts to break through. And Hajime spikes Tooru’s tosses, all of them, slashing the ball so hard that his hand stings a hot red.

They don’t just win.

It’s Tooru who leads his army, and he conquers.

---

Hajime has just finished cooking dinner when the radio announcer says ‘Oikawa’. His fingers scrabble for the radio, and he flicks the volume switch up to full blast.

Hajime listens, a swell of warm pride in the ivory of his ribs, as the moderator reports on “a volleyball match that will go down in the university’s history, with a setter’s performance so formidable and polished to cruel perfection that the other team could do nothing but admit defeat.”

Tooru comes home a few minutes later, flying into Hajime’s arms with a loud yell of “Hajime, guess who’s the new starting setter!”

He hugs him back and buries his face in Tooru’s hair for a second longer than necessary.

The soft scent of lavender floods his senses.

‘Boyfriend’ is a stupid word, Hajime thinks.

---

A coffee shop during student rush hour is probably the worst choice for meeting old friends, considering the unbelievable volume of voices that Hajime has to drown out with his own, but he doesn’t mind.

“I’m glad you could make it,” Sawamura says when Hajime slumps down in one of the comfortable armchairs, an over-priced chai latte in his hands. “I’m sorry I only messaged you an hour before we arrived. It was a real last-minute decision to come to Tokyo.”

“Nah, it’s fine,” Hajime says. “Good to see you two. How are things?”

He doesn’t really have to ask. It’s translucent as glass, the way Sawamura’s eyes light up when Sugawara returns with their coffee, smiling under the soft grey scarf wrapped around his neck.

“Iwaizumi,” Sugawara says and takes a seat next to Sawamura, handing over the coffee and lacing their hands together. “Things are good – as good as they could be, I’d dare to say.”

“Mhm. I can see that.” Hajime grins, and Sawamura blushes a deep crimson. Sugawara only laughs and pulls his legs close, nuzzling against his boyfriend’s side in a fluid motion.

They talk a bit, and it feels easy enough for Hajime to relax. It seems like hours passed when Sugawara looks over to Sawamura and makes the tiniest noise in the back of his throat accompanied by a soft nod of his head. Sawamura replies with a slight arch of his brow, then runs his fingers through Sugawara’s hair, smiling, before turning back to Hajime. 

(It’s fascinating, this silent language between lovers. Hajime might be jealous – but sometimes he discusses the right movie choice with Tooru entirely throughout a hums and head tilts. Oh.)

“So,” Sawamura says, clearing his throat and rubbing a nervous hand along his red-stained cheeks, “how’s it going with your boyf-”

Sugawara‘s hand gently closes over Sawamura’s mouth. “What he means is, how’s Oikawa doing?”

“Ugh, don’t get me started on that idiot,” Hajime says. “He hasn’t changed one bit. He’s stubborn and drives me insane, and just yesterday, he-”

Sugawara arches his brows and exchanges a quick glance with Sawamura. “Well – why’d you move in with him, if he’s so annoying?”

Hajime takes a sip of his chai latte. Too much sugar. He licks it off his lips and gives an unmelodic hum. “I really don’t know. Probably ‘cause I’d feel guilty if he overworked himself and starved without me.”

“That’s not a valid reason,” Sawamura says. “He’s a grown-up, just like you.”

Hajime twists the cup in his hands. “I just couldn’t – leave him, I guess.”

“Iwaizumi.” Sugawara sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “Really?”

“What?” Hajime stares back at him, then flicks his eyes over to Sawamura, but Sawamura just raises his hands in defense. “I’m not saying anything else. We gave you a push, but really, Iwaizumi – just think for a moment. It’s always Oikawa, isn’t it?”

“Don’t tell him!” Sugawara says, trying to get his hand over Sawamura’s mouth again, but his attack is countered by Sawamura’s big arms wrapping around his body.

“Relax, Koushi. I think he’s almost there.”

“I – what?” Hajime hasn’t listened to anything past “it’s always Oikawa”. Sugawara stares at him.

Sawamura lets go of his boyfriend and downs the rest of his coffee in one gulp. “Jesus, it’s about time. It physically hurts me to watch you, y’know.”

“Shhh,” Sugawara whispers, awestruck. “Just – let him.”

Hajime has no idea what they expect of him, but it stops mattering when his mind wanders around those particular words that keep echoing through his veins, surging, shivering down the curve of his spine. It’s always Oikawa.

“Are you guys saying – no. You’re not implying that I’m – that we are…”

Sawamura blinks, silent. Sugawara’s eyes are wide and shining, and he squeezes his boyfriend’s hand. “What do you think we’re trying to say? About Oikawa – and about you?”

Something clicks into place. Hajime opens his mouth. He closes it again. There are no words. His fingers slide off the cup, and Sugawara lunges to catch it before the rim slips out of Hajime’s weak grip.

“Jesus, careful! It’s not like it’s a surprise, really, you’re just too damn stubborn and blind-”

“Koushi, he’s got it. Look at him,” Sawamura says. “Finally.” Hajime stares at both of them, his jaw falling.

The universe of Tooru’s freckles dances through his mind, warm breath flooding over his neck –the scent of coffee, high school gyms, all outshined by a soft note of lavender, sweet and intense lavender.

Oh. Holy fuck.

He’s so fucking stupid. He’s literally the fucking densest guy alive.

“I gotta go. We’re gonna meet sometime again, okay? Just – I forgot something.”

Sugawara’s grin could illuminate the whole coffee shop from wall to wall. Sawamura sinks back in his armchair, watching Hajime as he snatches his bag and devours the last bit of his chai latte in one gulp. “Don’t burn your tongue.”

“And good luck!” Sugawara calls before Hajime is out of the door, running and running until his feet start to hurt. And then, some more, until he’s home and huffing with heavy, exhausted breath stinging in his lungs.

Tooru’s not at home, and Hajime’s glad about that. He drops everything and wanders into the living room, and it’s only a little bit embarrassing when he curls up on the couch, bringing Tooru’s favourite blanket to his nose.

Lavender. It smells like stupid, sweet, perfect lavender. 

---

“Move over.”

Tooru doesn’t take his eyes off the TV for a second, but he shuffles aside. “Shh, Hajime, don’t talk. It’s the best scene in the whole movie, the one where-”

“Don’t blabber if you want to watch it, idiot.” Hajime falls down beside him and stuffs a pillow behind his back. Tooru wears his famous blanket with big yellow cartoon stars around his shoulders as he’s staring at the TV with wide, alien-fascinated eyes. Nerd. Hajime watches him. He’s got golden spots on his cheeks, old remains of freckles from the summer, their last summer before college had started. They run all the way up to his dark lashes, scattering over the bridge of his nose, the gentle bow above his lips.

“Wanna watch with me?”

“I already am. ‘s that the one about cowboys and aliens?”

Tooru beams at him, smile alight. “Yeah! You actually remember?”

Hajime rolls his eyes and nudges Tooru’s ribcage with his elbow. “I remember more than you think. Now shut up, maybe I actually wanna get the plot this time.”

“Aye, sir.” Tooru nuzzles deeper into the blanket and cocoons himself into it. His excitement flares over his cheeks, scarlet and golden freckles.

Hajime scoots closer.

It’s been a week since he met Sawamura and Sugawara. Aren’t things supposed to be easier when you know? Hajime doesn’t believe that shit. He doesn’t believe anything anymore, nothing but the reflection of a whole galaxy in Tooru’s eyes when he marvels at the dumb movie – and Hajime marvels at him.

He’s going to make it easy.

It’s always been Tooru who initiates the cuddling. He’s so damn physical and touchy, throwing himself all over Hajime, laughing into his ear and draping his warm setter hands around his waist. It’s driving him insane, it’s endearing and cute and rises a swell of pride in Hajime’s chest. Because it’s only with him that Tooru’s so affectionate. It’s only for him that Tooru stretches over his lap like an elegant cat, lazy and stubborn and with a spark flying from his grin. Hajime’s never been in the position where he had to start something like this. It’s – fuck. Tooru, always Tooru. But it can’t be that hard, Hajime thinks, and roughly throws his arm around Tooru’s shoulder.

For a second, nothing happens. Hajime swallows. That’s not as bad as he thought. He pulls Tooru closer, as tender as his trembling arms can, curling his fingers around the edge of his best friend’s shoulder.

“Hajime?” Tooru says, and finally looks up at him. “What are you doing?” The galaxies in his eyes reflect the strange scene on TV, something with extraterrestrial energies and a band of outlaws trying to stop them, but Hajime ignores it. His blood radiates heat, and his skin crawls with thousands of small meteors crashing down.

“Nothing. Keep watching.”

“But-”

“You smell like lavender.”

Tooru blinks. “Huh? I – yeah, I guess? That’s my shampoo.”

Hajime closes his eyes. He doesn’t know what to say. There’s a question for this moment, but he can’t find the right words. Maybe he won’t need them.

Tooru makes a soft, surprised noise when Hajime pulls him against his chest, and buries both hands in his hair, resting him right above the thrumming echo of his heart. A shiver runs through Tooru’s body, and he stills. Hajime lets go, lets his muscles relax, and his mouth meets the crown of Tooru’s head.

“I like it. I really, really like lavender.”

“I don’t understand-”

“And you. Lavender… and you.”

“Oh.” Tooru goes quiet. Harrison Ford growls something at Daniel Craig on the TV. Hajime can’t hear a word.

“Me too.”

Hajime forgets how to breathe. “What?”

And then, his mouth is shut by soft, soft warmth, and Tooru steals the poor remains of his air with a tiny sigh. It lasts a second, a year, an eternity.

“Will you remember this?” Tooru asks, a myriad of moments later, when Hajime’s fingers slide to his cheekbones and adorn them with holy reverence, like he’s something fragile.

“Yeah,” Hajime says. “More than you could ever think.”

The scent of lavender doesn’t fade, not when Tooru’s tears and whispers and “yes, God, finally – finally”s rumble on his lips like a storm.

And somehow, Hajime finds that letting Tooru do his thing isn’t all that bad.