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darlin', your head's not right

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Since moving away from home for university, and consequently leasing an apartment with his best friend, Iwaizumi had come to learn a different level of tolerance for Oikawa-related annoyances. It wasn’t so much that he was more forgiving, but rather he had adjusted his temperament to accept that as long as he allowed that idiot in his life and to live fifty feet away from him, he had to be prepared to deal with the consequences.

But, still-- soul-crushing humiliation was the last thing Iwaizumi expected to meet head first when they came home for a long weekend to visit their parents.

“This is the best day of my entire life,” Oikawa says.

“I’m having an aneurysm.”

“I’m gonna write a book about today-- no, a movie, and a television series spin off, and--”

“Oh, my god. I’m serious, my brain is bleeding.”

“No, Iwa-chan, you can’t die! You have to play yourself in my movie!”

“Tooru, enough, he’s embarrassed,” Oikawa’s mother scolds her son, and for a brief moment Iwaizumi almost thinks he has an ally, until she smirks, and continues to giggle quietly into her hands. He feels heat crawl above his collar. He’s utterly alone in this.

“I mean, it is rather cute. It’s just so hard to imagine you saying something so sweet, Hajime-kun! You’re such a serious college student, now!” Oikawa’s mother tries to sound like this is a good thing, like it isn’t the lowest point of his entire life, and it almost works, until Iwaizumi’s own mother returns to deliver the fatal blow.

“You should have seen his face, though! He was so serious!” his mother guffaws, her entire face red and brimming with glee. “After he said he would marry Tooru-kun when they were older--” and just hearing her repeat it was enough to send Iwaizumi into cardiac arrest, again, “-- I went, ‘oh, Hajime, you’re gonna make Tooru-kun you’re bride’, you know, just playing around, and he just stared at me with that really serious, grumpy expression he makes, oh, you know which one, Tooru-kun,” she points to Oikawa for confirmation, and he nods his head happily, eyes sparkling with something bordering on elation that sends chills down Iwaizumi’s spine, “and he goes, ‘no, mom. Oikawa is a boy. He would be my husband, obviously!’”

The entire room erupts into another raucous round of laughter, which transform into screams of horror in Iwaizumi’s mind.

He doesn’t hear the end of it the entire train ride back to their apartment.

----

“I think you’re really milking this.”

“No way. This is going to be funny forever. We’re going to be ninety years old one day, and I’m still going to laugh about this.”

Iwaizumi kicks Oikawa in the leg, grips his controller and leans forward on the couch, tries to focus on wiping the floor with him in Mario Kart.

“But jeez,” Oikawa says, voice feigning nostalgia. Iwaizumi can hear the smirk in his tone. “Imagine, little, tiny Iwa-chan, dreaming of someday marrying me. Did you write my name in the margins of your notebooks? Did you kiss your pillow at night, pretending it was me?”

“You’re gross,” Iwaizumi says, and very narrowly avoids swerving off-lane and crashing into Yoshi. “I was five. Five, okay? I barely even understood what marriage was. I probably thought it meant we could go off and do whatever we wanted without our parents nagging at us.”

“You knew enough to know it meant I would be your husband.”

“Gah! Just shut up, I’m trying to play here!”

Oikawa laughs so hard he cries, and Iwaizumi stomps out of the room, their game forgotten.

\\

“Iwa-chan, what color scheme should we use?”

Iwaizumi frowns, pulls his eyes from his textbook for the first time in hours. He squints at the couch across the room, where he’s pretty sure Oikawa lounges, flipping through … magazines? Fuck, he’s seriously going to be blind by the time he graduates University. He grunts in response, hopefully relaying to the Oikawa-shaped-blur that he has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

“Our wedding,” Oikawa says by way of explanation, tapping his finger against his magazine more emphatically. “What colors should we use? Color scheme is important, apparently.”

Iwaizumi feels his lifespan shortening.

“I was thinking our Aoba johsai colors to go for more, you know, softer tones? Besides, I’ve always looked great in that sea foam green color. Oh, and I guess you look decent in it, too.” He grins, saccharine sweet, and Iwaizumi has never been so tempted to knock one of his perfect pearly white teeth right out of his stupid mouth.

“I need a drink,” Iwaizumi says, burying his face in his hands, elbows digging into the table.

“Hm? Is your class that hard, Iwa-chan?”

He doesn’t look up, but he feels Oikawa suddenly hovering by him, peering over his shoulder.

“Is that for your Bio lab?”

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says through his fingers. He smells the cologne Oikawa wears sometimes, still clinging to his clothes, even this late in the day. He sits up abruptly, shouldering Oikawa to lean back.

“Go away, you smell like garbage. It’s distracting.”

Oikawa gasps, affronted. “Take that back! I smell like a field of turkish roses-- with just a hint of sandalwood!”

“I don’t have time for your shitty jokes, half a credit depends on me passing this stupid lab, so just--”

“It’s a beta-lactam ring.”

Iwaizumi freezes, eyes darting down to his lab, then back up to Oikawa, thinning suspiciously. “What.”

Oikawa huffs and takes the chair next to his friend, scooting close to him so he can properly peer at his homework. He smiles, nodding and pointing a bony finger at his write-up. “It’s a beta-lactam ring, right here, see? You’re misidentifying the structure. That’s why the number of monobactams doesn’t make sense, stuuuupid.”

Iwaizumi opens his mouth, because what the fuck, and then immediately closes it, because he doesn’t actually want to give Oikawa the satisfaction of having dumbfounded him. Oikawa looks satisfied enough as it is, anyway. He smirks, scooting closer so he can balance his big dumb head on Iwaizumi’s shoulder.

“Iwa-chan thinks I’m so dumb. How do you think I got into Keio? Bet you were stressing over that detail for at least twenty minutes.”

“Shut up! I was just-- I’ve been doing this for hours, it’s a simple mistake to make when your eyes are tired.”

“Hmm,” Oikawa hums, eyes closed, and a glance down at his phone tells Iwaizumi that it’s a quarter past one. He nudges at Oikawa.

“Hey, go to bed. You’re not even doing anything. It’s late.”

“How dare you say I’m not doing anything. I’m saving your grade… oh,” he lifts his head for a second to turn and look back at the couch, and Iwaizumi takes the opportunity to roll and stretch his shoulder, because Oikawa really does have a heavy head. “And planning our wedding.” He points at his abandoned pile. “Let me get my materials so I can be productive while you work hard, okay, sweetpea?”

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes so hard he nearly induces a seizure, but he doesn’t push Oikawa away when he comes back to their tiny living room table and leans against his shoulder, interrupting Iwaizumi every ten minutes to ask about location, how many guests they’ll have, and if Iwaizumi will take his name or vice versa. He just sighs, longsuffering, and flicks his friend in the forehead when he suggests they have the ceremony in France, because that’s just the stupidest thing he’s ever heard.

\\\

“Iwa-chaaaan, pleeeaaase,” Oikawa whines, pawing at his shoulder and pouting.

“What the hell do you want from me.” Iwaizumi throws a bag of protein powder into their shopping cart, eyeing the bananas for the most ripe bunch. “I have an exam on Monday, I’m not going to spend my entire weekend around a bunch of snot-nosed brats playing, like, pin the tail on the donkey, or whatever.”

Oikawa squawks in offense.

“How could you say that about Takeru?! He loves you!”

Iwaizumi flinches at that, because it’s actually true, and he might have developed a soft spot for the kid somewhere along the way of watching him grow up and start bossing around Oikawa in a way only those who really know him know how to do. He remembers the last time him and Oikawa played a game of volleyball in the park with Takeru and his friends, how much he had laughed that day, and doesn’t quite manage to dispel the warmth that comes with the thought.

“Hmm, what’s this? Iwa-chan’s mouth is doing something funny? Is that supposed to be a smile?” Oikawa says, grinning and leaning close into Iwaizumi’s space, their noses nearly touching.

Iwaizumi immediately shoves him back, glances around the empty aisle. His pulse sits in his throat as he says, “I’ll consider going if it means we buy the brand of toilet paper I want.”

Oikawa’s smile vanishes in an instant. He looks horrified. “No way! You-- you only ever wanna buy that cheap knock-off brand!”

Iwaizumi smirks, rolling their cart towards the toiletries. “Is your ass that delicate, princess?”

Oikawa, oddly, flushes red and kicks Iwaizumi in the shin, something he hasn’t done since they were maybe twelve, and stomps off in the opposite direction, mumbling to himself. Iwaizumi still counts it as a win.

…….

Iwaizumi sighs, stretches his arms out, fingers the slightly dewy blades of grass around him. His back itches, and he’s pretty sure the light blue henley he’s wearing is going to be covered in grass stains when he stands back up, but he doesn’t care. He lets the light breeze wash over him, settle his bones. He feels the adrenaline settling down, his body’s buzz quieting with his heartbeat. He squints at the cloudless sky overhead, bare sun beating down on his exposed skin and lightening his windswept hair. He’s happy he wore shorts, today.

“Hey,” a breathless voice says suddenly, right in his ear, and he barely has the energy to react as Oikawa collapses next to him.

He’s smiling, the kind where his lips are just barely parted and his cheeks are pink from exertion and the air around him is just softer, his eyes crinkling at the corners. He exhales slowly as he gets comfortable in the grass, laying on his side to face Iwaizumi, body close to his but not touching. Their fingertips nearly graze as he flexes his hands.

“Takeru never gets tired, huh?” he says, voice uncharacteristically gentle, smile still intact.

“His friends are demons,” Iwaizumi says, matching his tone unintentionally. He stares back up at the sky.

“Eleven year olds are scary. Never-ending energy… were we like that at that age?”

Iwaizumi laughs, despite himself. “Worse, definitely. You never shut up. I climbed every tree I could find. You were always falling and hurting yourself when you tried to follow me.”

“You always climbed back down and helped me up,” Oikawa says.

“Well, yeah. We both know you can’t climb a tree on your own with those twiggy arms of yours.”

“Shut up. I was a kid.”

“My point being, you haven’t gotten any stronger.”

“I hate you,” Oikawa says. “And just because I’m not a gym rat like you doesn’t mean I’m weak. I’m lean. Like a sleek jungle cat.”

“Please never refer to yourself as a fucking jungle cat ever again.”

“You’re just jealous. You don’t have my agility or gentle prowess.”

“Oh, my god. Shut up.”

“Only if you admit you helped me climb trees because you wanted to.”

“I helped you because I had no choice. You were such a crybaby.”

“Maybe. But you wanted to marry me, anyway.”

Iwaizumi whips his head sideways, ready to snap at Oikawa that he knew better by that age, but he loses all his breath when they meet eyes. Oikawa is smiling, but it’s different, there’s a flicker of something nebulous in his gaze that keeps Iwaizumi silent but unable to look away; his nose is red, because he’s made of porcelain and a few minutes outside without sunscreen leaves him sunkissed and freckled, and his hands are splayed out in front of him, no more than a few centimeters from Iwaizumi’s face. His hair is longer than it was a few months ago, ends curlier, thicker, sliding over his cheeks while he lays down. He looks older than Iwaizumi is used to seeing him look, but then again, maybe he’s just never looked away long enough to realize they’ve been at each other’s sides for eighteen years and they’ve grown, really changed in that time, in ways he’s never properly thought about. Somehow, the realization sends shivers trailing down his spine.

Oikawa shifts his gaze down after a few long seconds, and Iwaizumi is alarmed, honestly gutted, by how much he wants to reach out and touch his friends’ eyelashes, brush his thumb across his flushed cheek, cup his jaw in his palm.

He feels sick.

Oikawa lifts his eyes back up to meet his, expression vulnerable and anxious in a way Iwaizumi is positive he has never seen Oikawa look before.

The sick feeling increases twofold.

He’s just about to sit up, make up some lame excuse about getting water or food, possibly never look at Oikawa ever again, when the moment is broken by a cold spray of water hitting him square in the face, instead.

“What the fuck,” he sputters, shooting up, heart racing, although he’s not sure why anymore.

Takeru sticks his tongue out at him, expression smug. He’s standing over them, huge water guns in each hand, and beyond him, Iwaizumi can see his friends running out of the house and out to join them in the backyard, equipped with similar weaponry.

“Stop flirting in the grass. This is my birthday and I’m declaring war,” he says, eyes shimmering with excitement. Iwaizumi’s stomach drops.

“Not a very fair war, we didn’t even get any warning,” Oikawa says easily, brushing his shirt off as he stands up. “I’m calling the UN. You walked into enemy waters and attacked a weaponless civilian. That’s a war crime, you know.”

Takeru wrinkles his nose, lowering his water gun by a fraction. “You go to college for one year Tooru and suddenly you think you know crap.”

Oikawa sputters in anger, pointing a petulant finger at his nephew. “I’m the adult! You--you have to respect me! Or I’m telling my sister!”

They bicker back and forth for a minute or so, until Takeru finally shoots Oikawa in the face, and even Iwaizumi is laughing at the mortified state of paralysis he’s left in.

“Traitor,” Oikawa says, patting down his hair. He looks miserable.

Iwaizumi bites his lip, reaches out and wipes a lock of hair out his friends’ face, pretends he doesn’t notice Oikawa freeze at the contact. Oikawa looks back up at him, eyes questioning yet fond.

“Come on,” he says, motioning towards the house. “Let’s get some water guns and kick these little kid’s asses.”

Oikawa slowly nods his head, lips curling up into a lopsided smirk.

“Yeah. Let’s make these kids cry!”

“You guys are horrible adults.”

\\\

A week later marks the beginning of spring, and Iwaizumi has never been so grateful for the rush of tourism it brings to Tokyo.

“I can’t believe this,” Oikawa pants, breath visible in the early morning weather. They’re out for a run, since neither of them start classes today until the afternoon. “Why do you get a cool job in Shibuya while I’m stuck tutoring gross high school students?”

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. “Why are they gross?”

“Because they smell, Iwa-chan. These kids don’t wear deodorant or have, like, a basic sense of hygiene.”

“Hm.” They jog in place at a stop walk, wait for the light to change. “It’s only for a few weeks, anyway. Just until the tourist boom dies down a bit. Uncle can’t handle the restaurant on his own anymore, you know. He’s getting old.”

Oikawa sighs dramatically, takes off in a sprint as they cross the street. Iwaizumi struggles to keep up with him, which is somewhat embarrassing, though he’s never had the speed Oikawa had, even when they were in high school.

They finish their last mile earlier than anticipated, which Oikawa probably planned on purpose, because it meant more time to harass Iwaizumi. They always finish at the park across the street from their apartment complex, take turns slurping at the water fountain.

“So,” Oikawa says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. His face is shiny with a thin sheen of sweat. “Do you start work this weekend?”

“Yeah.” Iwaizumi coughs, struggles to swallow down water and catch his breath at the same time. “Uncle wants me to do training and stuff this Saturday, and then my first real shift is Sunday night.”

Oikawa frowns. “We were supposed to clean the apartment out this weekend. It’s spring already, Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi lifts a brow, unimpressed. “We can do that Friday. I really need to take the job, Oikawa. Uncle’s just too old and I… I mean, I kind of really need the money.”

Oikawa purses his lips, nodding his head stiffly, and it’s the first time Iwaizumi’s ever seen him genuinely try to bite back his brattiness. He can’t help but find it a little bit endearing, and also Iwaizumi disgusts himself.

“Hey,” he says, and he’s always known it was an option, but he didn’t want to get ahead of himself unless-- well, until he knew for sure it was something Oikawa would be interested in. “Why don’t you come and work at the shop, too?”

Oikawa’s turns to him in surprise, light spiraling in the eddies of his eyes. “Could-- would that be okay?”

Iwaizumi shrugs, as if he hasn’t already asked. “Uncle said he’s going to spend this week hiring newbies. I’ll just tell him you’re interested.”

“Hmm. That could work. I don’t get that many hours tutoring and as long as it’s only for a few weeks.”

“I’ll call him later today, then,” Iwaizumi says.

They walk back to their apartment mostly in silence, though Oikawa knocks his shoulder against his once, twice, until Iwaizumi does it back. Their fingers brush as they jostle around, and it makes the tips of Oikawa’s ears go pink.

Iwaizumi commits the exact shade to memory and spends the rest of the day trying to bite back a stupid smile.

`````
As it turns out, Oikawa is a natural at waitering. Iwaizumi tries not to be bitter about it.

“He’s bringing in so many young people,” his uncle murmurs excitedly to him, patting him on the arm as if this is a victory for both of them.

It’s rush hour, and Iwaizumi is horrified by how many customers they can anticipate seating during this time. It’s their third weekend in a row working and despite the pay being good, and the perk of free food, Iwaizumi is exhausted. When he agreed to work part-time, he hadn’t anticipated his school workload coincidently doubling at the same time, and he certainly didn’t think he would be working weekdays as well. His uncle is flexible with him, and it’s not necessarily affecting his studies yet, but--

“Iwa-chan! These beautiful ladies here need more tea!”

Iwaizumi grits his teeth, straightens his back and stalks off to the kitchen without even a backward glance, slamming the door behind him. He faintly hears the table of women giggling elatedly from the dining room, and wonders how thrilled they would be if he returned to their table only to throw the boiling hot tea right on Oikawa’s stupid, grinning face.

\\\

“You know, I was skeptical about working such a messy job, and the uniforms were so tacky, thank god your uncle let me make adjustments to the wardrobe and eighty-six that awful vest, but I’m actually amazing at customer service! Which, I mean, is kind of expected, but still! And I can’t believe how much we make in tips. Remember that table of girls with all the overdone makeup? The ones who kept ordering drinks? They left me a 5000 yen tip! Can you believe it? I mean I did work for it, after all, but it was a pleasant surprise, you know--”

“I will pay you 5000 yen to shut the hell up for the rest of this train ride.”

“Oh, come on, Iwa-chan, there’s no need to be bitter. I saw that business woman you were serving giving you eyes all night. I’m sure she gave you a good tip, too.”

“What? What the hell are you even talking about?”

“The one by the window who kept asking for sake bombs! She waved you over every time you weren’t busy. She was definitely trying to monopolize you.”

“Hmm. I hadn’t noticed.”

“Don’t lie. She looked older, too. Maybe thirty. And before she paid her bill at the cash register she left a business card at her table, too. Probably to give you her number.”

“Are you sure you weren’t the one being creepy?”

“What? No. I just-- I cleaned her table after she left because you were busy ringing her up and I saw it, so.”

“Wait, so where’s the card? Do you have it?”

“I-- Well, yeah, I mean I was going to give it to you. I forgot until right now, but-- I mean if you want it it’s in the pocket of my work slacks, so I can, like, give it to you when we get home. If you want.”

“Nah, it’s fine. She wasn’t my type.”

“Iwa-chan is so shallow.”

“Just don’t clean my tables anymore, okay, dumbass?”

“Then don’t spend forever talking to women at the register who are trying to get in your pants.”

“How about you stop throwing yourself at every gaggle of girls oblivious enough to think you’re charming, just for tips?”

“Fine. Fair enough.”

“Wh-- Wait, what?”

“I won’t flirt with the customers. You’re right, it’s unprofessional. I wouldn’t want to demean your uncle’s restaurant.”

“Right. Okay. Uh, thanks.”

“Mhm. You have to do the same.”

“I don’t flirt with customers, idiot.”

“Well, maybe not intentionally!”

“God, fine, whatever. I’ll-- I don’t know, look meaner.”

“Well, we don’t want the police called on you either, Iwa-chan.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“Hey, let’s go to that ramen shop downtown tomorrow! I’ll pay. Since I’m the one bringing home the bacon now, and all.”

“You get a few nights of good tips and already wanna blow it all on food.”

“Hey, I deserve it. I support you like a good husband and this is the thanks I get!”

“I’ve changed my mind, I’ll pay you one million yen to shut up for the rest of this train ride.”

///

A few days later during a particularly slow shift, Oikawa waves off a table of girls, regulars, who are begging him to drink with them after his shift ends.

“Sorry, ladies! I'm a married man!” he says, and winks at Iwaizumi, who had been trying his best not to look like he was eavesdropping as he cleaned tables.

He feels his face turn a mortifying shade of pink, and stalks off angrily to the kitchen, ignoring the shrill giggles of excitement he hears behind him.

\\\

“I can’t believe this is the first time you’ve invited us over,” Hanamaki says the minute he walks into their apartment, stumbling slightly at the genkan. He knocks his knuckles against the back of Oikawa’s head, lightly. Matsukawa does the same to Iwaizumi, laughing when he scowls threateningly back at him.

“Huh,” Matsukawa says. “I thought your place would be more… flamboyant. Like, I imagined lots of colorful throw pillows and exotic pets.”

“Iwa-chan won’t let me have any pets.”

“You wanted the grossest looking animal they had, of course I said no.”

“Axolotls aren’t gross they are unique. And translucent. They’re like little lizard-aliens.”

“Yeah,” Hanamaki says, eyes squinting. “This place definitely needs some of those.”

They end up ordering in instead of going out for drinks like they had planned, and Matsukawa takes it upon himself to scavenge for booze at the local convenience store down the block.

“I’ll go with you, I wanna make sure you get the good stuff,” Oikawa says cheerily. He hasn’t stopped smiling, his real, genuine smile, since their friends came over, Iwaizumi notes.

“Makki-kun, make sure to listen for when the delivery guy gets here. Iwa-chan has old man ears.”

Iwaizumi flips him the bird as they both leave, and Hanamaki turns from the television to grin at him. He kicks him fondly in the leg.

“You know, me and Mattsun see Yuutaro more often than you two, and he’s still in high school.” He folds both of his legs up on the couch to get more comfortable. “Why so cloak and dagger?”

“We’ve just been busy,” Iwaizumi says. He feels bad; he knows he’s neglected to keep in contact with their old friends and it scares him how quickly the time has gone by. “Uncle has us working his restaurant most nights a week. It’s pretty exhausting.” Iwaizumi frowns and folds his arms. “You could have invited us out too, you know. Two to tango, and all that.”

“You know me, I’m too tsundere to make the first move.”

“Idiot.”

They both laugh, and Iwaizumi is reminded of late nights at Seijoh, being seventeen and shoving his teammates around and fighting the urge to suckerpunch Oikawa every time he opened his mouth and reveling in the syncopated trust he’d developed with his best friends on the court. He’s missed this, he realizes.

“I think that idiot is really happy to see you guys,” he says instead. He hopes the ‘me too’ is implied.

“Tooru seems like his usual self,” Hanamaki says, and he looks like he wants to say more but he doesn’t. They’re quiet for a few seconds before he lifts his gaze to meet Iwaizumi’s. “Actually, that’s a lie. He’s different… you both are. But it’s a good different, I think.”

Iwaizumi widens his eyes incredulously. “Huh. You think so? I don’t think we’re any different.” He contemplates that for a second, ignores the confusing emotion tugging at his chest. “I mean, he is less… insufferable. He’s more mature, I guess, or as mature as he’s mentally capable of being. He’s still a self-obsessed idiot, though, don’t let him fool you. And maybe I’m better at handling him. I don’t know, things have become more relaxed between us, I guess. If that’s what you mean. We’re kinda, um, settled. Or something.”

Hanamaki smiles slowly as he talks, and something about it makes Iwaizumi feel anxious, the same way he did that day him and Oikawa laid in the grass and tried very hard not to touch.

“Yeah,” Hanamaki says. “It’s definitely a good different.”

Once Oikawa and Matsukawa come back from the store, bottles of whiskey and beer clinking delightfully in their bags, the night becomes a fast-paced blur of laughter and nostalgia.

“--And suddenly, Iwa-chan was down to only his boxers! And they had these, these little volleyballs all over them, and all the girls started giggling and I swear, I have never seen Iwa-chan blush so red before.” Oikawa is nearly in tears from laughter.

“I just can’t believe you guys convinced him to play strip poker,” Matsukawa says. “I’m jealous I wasn’t there.”

“Oh, it was no easy feat getting him to play. I think the little crush Hajime had on Mutsuki-san is what really sealed the deal,” Hanamaki says. Iwaizumi sighs.

“Oh, I remember her,” Matsukawa says, eyes distant with wistfulness. “She had the best tits in class, it was distracting. I nearly failed subjects because of those things.”

“No, you’re just stupid,” Iwaizumi says, and they all laugh.

Normally he’d smack Oikawa around a little for bringing up the Poker Incident but the mood is too lighthearted for that. Instead, he rolls his eyes and ignores Matsukawa nudging his sides, teasing him about his high school crush. He makes a mental note to get his revenge after their friends leave.

“Hey, I’m surprised, though-- you didn’t date Mutsuki-san, Tooru?” Hanamaki says.

Oikawa looks surprised at the question. “Hm? Oh, no.”

“That’s a shocker. I thought you dated every girl in Class 1. Was it because Hajime liked her?”

Oikawa’s expression becomes pinched in annoyance. “I didn’t date every girl in the class, I just. Didn’t ignore them. They liked me, so I got along with them. I was nice.”

“Oh,” Hanamaki says. “I didn’t mean it like that, Tooru. We know the real you, you’re not a jerk.”

“Yeah, you’re like, the biggest loser I know,” Matsukawa adds, and at that Oikawa gives a small smile.

“Gee, thanks,” he says, and Iwaizumi puts a hand on his arm for no reason other than he wants to. Oikawa gives him a confused look, eyes glossed over from the alcohol, but turns back to nursing his beer in lieu of asking him why. Iwaizumi’s glad he doesn’t.

“Besides, your days of being a carefree bachelor are over now, anyway, right?” Matsukawa says, suddenly mischievous, eyes darting to Iwaizumi. “Since you and Hajime are tying the knot, and whatnot.”

Iwaizumi whines at the back of his throat.

“You told him,” he says.

“Wait, what,” Hanamaki says.

Oikawa at least has the decency to look sheepish as he grins. “Come on, it’s a funny story, Iwa-chan. We had to talk about something while we were buying booze.”

“I can’t believe you were Hajime’s first love,” Matsukawa says, sounding in awe. “That’s a treasure trove of joke material. I’m probably going to mention that in your eulogy. No, both of your eulogies.”

“Why are we dying before you,” Oikawa says.

“I don’t understand what anyone is talking about,” Hanamaki says.

Matsukawa leans over from where he’s seated on the couch to grab onto Hanamaki’s arm, obvious excitement in his movement despite his serious expression. “Hajime here is making good on a fifteen-year old promise to marry our precious Tooru. He’s going to be the most dashing bride and Tooru will be the most gorgeous groom.”

“Oh,” Hanamaki says.

“I hate you so fucking much,” Iwaizumi says, face red to his hairline, and they all laugh.

\\\\

On the train ride to work a few days later, Oikawa says, “Mattsun texted me saying that if we help move him and Makki-kun into their new apartment, they’ll forgive us for ignoring them for so long. Also, they will buy us dinner.”

Iwaizumi frowns. “I thought Mattsun was waiting to move in with his girlfriend when she moved to Tokyo? The long-distance one?”

Oikawa gives him a solemn look. “He got the Dear John letter a few weeks ago. Or, Dear John text. Either way, don’t bring her up.”

“Got it,” Iwaizumi says. “Tell them we’ll help. But it has to be a nice dinner somewhere fancy. Preferably with a menu the exact opposite of Uncle’s.”

Oikawa grins. “What, tired of okonomiyaki already? It’s only been a few weeks, Iwa-chan. Uncle would be hurt if he heard you say that.”

“Whatever,” Iwaizumi says. He could comfortably live the rest of his life never eating cabbage ever again. “Tell them it has to be that udon shop you like, the expensive one in Shinjuku.”

Oikawa blinks up at him, fingers frozen mid-text. “We don’t have to eat there. We can go somewhere you like.”

“Nah, that’s fine. Besides, kamaboko udon sounds amazing right now.”

“Hmm,” Oikawa hums, turning to lean against Iwaizumi’s shoulder. He types deftly into his phone, face pressing into Iwaizumi’s shoulder, hair tickling his throat.

“You’re heavy,” Iwaizumi says.

“How dare you,” Oikawa says.

They sit in comfortable silence for the rest of the ride, Oikawa a reassuring pressure against his side, echoing the hum of the train from every point of contact between their bodies until Iwaizumi can't tell where he ends and Oikawa begins.

////

An hour or so into moving Matsukawa and Hanamaki into their new apartment, Oikawa has already been banned from the bedroom. He wanders into the large living room area, which is connected to the kitchen, and slumps against the island pathetically.

Hanamaki raises an eyebrow at him, putting away the last of the dishes in the cupboards. “I thought you were helping Hajime and Mattsun put together his bed frame?”

“Iwa-chan told me to leave because all I’m good for is looking pretty,” Oikawa says.

“He’s right,” Hanamaki says.

“You’re all working against me.” Oikawa throws himself on the couch. It’s still covered in a plastic protective wrap. “All I want to to do is help people, but you guys won’t let me. I’m so unappreciated.”

“Uh-huh. Hey, isn’t it immoral for you and Hajime to live together before marriage?”

Oikawa squints his eyes. “I didn’t think you were a stickler about such things, Makki-kun.”

“I’m not, but like, what if other people are? People are still really conservative about stuff like that. Like, Mattsun’s parents were super weird about us having female roommates. They think this apartment is going to become a den of sin.”

“It kind of already is,” Oikawa says, reaching into one of the boxes of clothes they started to unpack. He pulls out a denim vest and makes a face. “Sinful.”

“Says the guy who wore a neckerchief to move somebody.”

“Well, I couldn’t wear a normal scarf, Makki-kun. It could have snagged on something.”

“Right,” Hanamaki says. “Well, you’re not wrong about it already being depraved. I found a huge stack of magnum condoms in one of the boxes we unpacked earlier. Mattsun’s planning on getting lucky, I guess.”

“Um,” Oikawa says, because he’s not sure if he wants to know about his friends’ sex life or not. Also: magnum? Woah.

“Ugh, I would hate to unpack your apartment,” Hanamaki says, wrinkling his nose. “God knows what kind of weird sexual paraphernalia you guys have at your place.”

“Um,” Oikawa says.

“I can handle seeing Mattsun’s condoms because I don’t know who the girl is, but if I saw stuff at your guys’ place I would actually know that you both--” he shivers. “Imagining my friends having sex is so weird.”

Oikawa stares at him. The ‘um’ is implied.

“I’m gonna go see if they need help in there. You can, uh. Actually yeah, just sit there. That’s probably for the best.” Hanamaki leaves the room and in the blink of an eye Oikawa is alone.

He smothers his burning face in the awful denim vest and tries very hard not to think.

\\\

A week later, Oikawa says, “We should move into a house after we’re married.”

Iwaizumi shuts his laptop with a mournful groan, scowling. “As if we could afford that, dumbass.”

He glances at the clock and wishes he hadn’t. It’s already 3 AM, and he has class at 9. It took him nearly seven hours to finish his paper, and he hasn’t even proofread it or done citations. Beside him, Oikawa puts down his gameboy and turns to face him.

“Yeah, but. It’s just seems proper. Like a new, pure beginning for our lives. A fresh start. We could move to the country, become simple farmers.”

Iwaizumi snorts, leaning back into their couch. Around a yawn, he says, “Okay, cityboy.”

“And what are you, a bumpkin? Glass houses, Iwa-chan.”

“You wouldn’t last two days without MacDonalds.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I only put the purest of nutrients inside my body,” Oikawa says loftily. He’s managed to curl into Iwaizumi’s side, shoulders tucked under his arm and head leaning on his chest, pinning him down to the couch. It’s mostly comfortable, though, so Iwaizumi doesn’t complain.

“Remember when we went camping that summer during middle school and you refused to eat the fish we caught in the river because they still had scales on them?”

“Hmm. I don’t recall.”

“And you couldn’t pitch a tent to save your life. You kept missing the tent stakes and hammering the ground. You’re useless outdoors.”

“That’s a lie! I made some really pretty fishing flies!”

Iwaizumi pauses, considering. “Yeah, that’s true. You were good at that.”

Half a minute of silence passes, Iwaizumi fighting the pull of sleep, until Oikawa says, “Fine, we won’t live in the countryside immediately after we get married, then. We can save that for when we retire and we’re old and boring.”

“So we’re literally going out to pasture?”

“Yep. After we’ve lived a long, fulfilling life together. It’ll just be us, some rocking chairs, and cows.”

Iwaizumi bites the inside of his cheek, ignores the way his chest has gone fluttery. He stares down at Oikawa’s hand, wonders what it would cost to lace their fingers together.

Fifteen minutes later, they’re both asleep on the couch.

…….

Oikawa’s callused, swollen palm slams powerfully against the serve, shooting the ball straight across the court-- no more than a few millimeters above the height of the net, just missing the in-court boundary.

Fuck!

The air is thick and humid, amplifying every heavy heave and choking pant that escapes their exhausted bodies.

“You’re getting frustrated too quickly, it’s making you sloppy,” Iwaizumi says, taking the chance to catch his breath and wipe the sweat running down his face and falling into his eyes. “You’re overexerting yourself to compensate for your lack of precision. There’s no way your knees aren’t suffering.”

Oikawa’s head is bowed, his chest heaving. His hands are on his thighs, tightly gripping his knee pads. He locks eyes with Iwaizumi as he looks up and doesn’t say anything in response, but he says it very loudly.

There’s complete silence in the extravagant Keio gymnasium, tall bleachers surrounding them ominously, empty at this late hour. The building is an echo chamber for their harsh breaths with enough floor space and height to be a hangar. It’s startlingly unfamiliar to Iwaizumi, all this space, so intricately designed to intimidate and build greatness, weed out the weak and provoke the stubborn. It’s somewhere Oikawa belongs and it’s completely destroying him.

“Let’s head home. It’s late and you're only hurting yourself at this point,” Iwaizumi says.

“One more,” Oikawa says, already walking back to position.

“No more, Oikawa. Enough.”

“You don’t get to tell me that anymore, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says. Something in his voice is trying to be cruel. “You’re not my teammate anymore. You gave up on this but I didn’t. And now I am the ace of this team, and I’m telling you, one more.”

Iwaizumi clenches his jaw. He wants to feel angry but he just feels exhausted.

“I didn’t give up on volleyball, it’s just not what I want to do with my life--”

“That’s giving up!” Oikawa shouts, rounding on him. “You stopped playing, that’s called giving up!”

“I can’t afford to gamble my college career on something that might not pan out, Oikawa! How could I devote all my time to a sport I’m not planning on going pro for, and still have time to invest in my future?! There are-- I had to think about other options, ones that are more practical for me!”

“You mean safe,” Oikawa says, laughing humorlessly. “You were afraid to take a risk for something you love and gave up. Now you don’t even play anymore. You don’t even miss it.”

He’s trying to sound mean, as if the hurt in his voice doesn’t bleed through every cut in his speech, doesn’t punctuate every word. It sets Iwaizumi’s teeth on edge, how hard he’s trying not to sound heartbroken.

“Listen, you idiot," Iwaizumi says. "You asked me to help you with your spikes for a reason. Because you trust in my abilities, and in my opinion, and I know you as a player better than anyone else. And I’m telling you right now: if you really want to be Keio’s ace, you’re not going to get there by torturing yourself and overworking your knees. Being an ace means knowing your limits, and respecting them for the sake of the team.” He deflates slightly, palming the ball in his hands, refusing to admit to himself how much he’s scared Oikawa is right about him. “And of course I miss the game, you selfish piece of shit. It’s been a part of me since we were kids. A part of us. It’s not-- I could never let it go, not completely. To me we’ll always be partners.”

The moment waits on tenterhooks, fraught with unsure pause, and it isn’t until he hears Oikawa sigh that Iwaizumi looks up again. Oikawa is smiling dryly, eyes apologetic.

“Show me your cross-court slide attack spike, and we can go home.”

“Oikawa--”

“Please, Iwa-chan. I just-- I need to see it one last time.”

Iwaizumi swallows thickly, not missing the desperate edge of Oikawa’s tone. Reluctantly, he takes position on the left side of the court. He inhales deeply until his lungs are full, hyper aware of Oikawa studying his every movement as he prepares to serve.

He starts his momentum with a few fast, broad steps before throwing himself into the one-leg takeoff-- and he’s not sure if it’s the fatigue from the past few hours of spiking exercises taking their toll or if he really is too out of practice to be demonstrating such advanced form, but he feels his ankle twist on the layup and a high-temperature jolt of pain fires right up his leg to his thigh.

He collapses, hard, on the gymnasium floor and lands right on his knee. He grits his teeth to keep from swearing, but before he can access the damage there are hands all around him, on his knee and his ankle, sweeping him for injuries.

“Fuck,” Oikawa is saying, kneeling by his side, but he sounds different. His voice is high and loud-- terrified. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he says as he examines Iwaizumi’s ankle with careful fingers. “Do-- how bad does it hurt? Can you put any pressure on it? Are you--”

“I think it's okay,” Iwaizumi says.

“Idiot! You fucking-- I saw you fall, it was awful. There's no way it doesn't hurt, we should take you to emergency--”

“Absolutely not.”

“Don't fuck around, Hajime!”

The echo stutters around the empty space.

The thing is, Iwaizumi absolutely cannot stand it when Oikawa cries. It’s the one thing he can admit to himself after all these years that maybe sets his feelings for Oikawa apart from his other friends. The second Oikawa starts to cry, he just feels every raw, basic instinct to protect in his body magnify and erupt. It’s absolutely ridiculous and completely embarrassing, as are most things having to do with Oikawa.

As soon as he realizes what’s happening, that Oikawa is blinking back tears and shouting as a mask for his fear, pain be damned he knows he has to be okay.

He shifts his weight onto the leg he didn't fall on, and slowly starts to stand, shooting out a hand to grip onto Oikawa’s shoulder for more support. They both hold their breath as he tests out his leg by taking a baby step forward, until Oikawa’s breathing right into the crown of his head. Iwaizumi shifts in place for a few seconds, testing out the feeling.

The pain, honestly, is already subsiding which immediately lets him know he didn't even sprain his ankle, and most likely just rolled it on a tendon he’s hurt before, a relic of his more rigorous past. He’s subdued with relief.

“I’m fine,” he says, voice soft. “I’ll probably be able to walk normal in a few minutes.”

Oikawa’s eyes are glassy and distant as he stares at him, working his bottom lip between his teeth. Without responding, he pulls Iwaizumi into a tight hug, bracing his legs so that Iwaizumi can still lean most of his weight on him, and bows his head to sniff into his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Iwa-chan,” he says, and Iwaizumi thinks, if you don’t stop crying I’m going to do something stupid.

They both take a step back from each other and stare at their feet between them.

“Jump on my back, I’ll carry you to the bench and wrap your ankle,” Oikawa says.

“I am not piggybacking you.”

“Would you rather crawl?”

“I can walk, dufus. Seriously, stop worrying. And stop feeling guilty. Geez, it’s not all about you, y’know.”

“Sorry.”

“And stop saying sorry, it’s weird. I haven’t heard you apologize since we were sixteen and you got so scared during that horror movie you punched me in the face.”

Oikawa barks out a startled laugh, his hand coming up to circle around Iwaizumi’s wrist then sliding down to hold onto his fingertips. “Sorry,” he says.

Iwaizumi feels a nervous heat flush around his neck.

“I said stop, dumbass.”

Oikawa doesn't say anything, and when Iwaizumi manages to get past the anxious ricocheting searing across his solar plexus to look at him, he sees him biting his lip, eyes brimming with tears, his ears the same shade of pink they were that day in the park.

Here goes something stupid, Iwaizumi thinks, and uses his empty hand to grab the back of Oikawa’s neck and pull him into a kiss.

They both breathe in deeply through their nostrils, tense, paralyzed by the sudden closeness. After a few seconds of them slowly breathing against each other’s mouths, adjusting, Iwaizumi relaxes the hand he has at the nape of Oikawa’s neck, gently grazing his fingers through the curls there and opening his mouth to take Oikawa’s lower lip between his own. Oikawa makes a sound that kind of sounds like a sob, and Iwaizumi squeezes his eyes shut even tighter, terrified he might do something unforgivably embarrassing like cry.

He shifts his head so their noses aren't pressed together, and almost immediately Oikawa brings up his free hand to cradle Iwaizumi’s face, slides his body closer against his. He’s kissing him back now, though every give and take of pressure makes him sigh like it hurts.

Iwaizumi feels heat travel right up the line of where their bodies meet, and shifts their hands so their fingers are laced together. Oikawa is moving his mouth furiously against Iwaizumi’s, making soft noises every time Iwaizumi meets his eagerness with a matching reaction. Oikawa drops his hand to Iwaizumi’s chest, gripping on to the soft material of his shirt, pulling him closer even though there's no more space to occupy. He’s stretching the collar of Iwaizumi’s jersey, fingers brushing the cord of muscle at his throat, and Iwaizumi is chilled to the bone by the urges that beckon deep inside of him.

It all feels-- desperate is the only word that comes to Iwaizumi’s mind, desperate in the kind of way that feels fidgety, unstable, panicked. He doesn't know what’s going to happen the second their lips stop gliding against each other, when their bodies are no longer pressed impossibly close or their hands clutched onto the other in an effort to keep them from pulling away. On some distant plane of thought, Iwaizumi thinks, my ankle doesn’t hurt at all anymore.

It takes a few more minutes before all the lights in the gymnasium flicker off above them and Oikawa jumps back with a wet gasp, scrambling to untangle their fingers. Iwaizumi is left blinking at the inky blackness around them.

“Um,” he says.

“The gym has motion sensor lights,” Oikawa says. “They turn off when you don’t move.”

“I know what motion sensor lights are,” Iwaizumi says.

“I know. I just wanted something to say.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“Yeah.”

They shuffle silently around each other, feeling around for where their belongings are, meeting at the back door when they’re finished composing themselves and stumbling in the dark. They change in the Kieo gym locker room adjacent to the exit, never once saying a word. They meet eyes briefly before setting off for home, and then they don’t speak until they slip through the automatic doors of the last southbound train, settling into two empty seats, side by side.

It’s only a ten minute ride, but the silence is too conspicuous. Oikawa licks his lips.

“How’s your ankle? Sorry we had to rush at the ticket gate.”

“It’s fine. I’ll soak it in the bath when we get back.”

“Hmm. I guess I’ll let you have the bath first then. Because I’m so gracious.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“No problem. Remember this act of compassion when you’re deciding whether or not to pull the plug on my ventilator in seventy years.”

Iwaizumi bites his lip on a smile. “I think I’ll be too busy thinking about that time you tied my shoelaces together when I fell asleep in class and when I woke up for lunch I slipped and hit my head on the edge of the desk and suffered minor head trauma for the rest of the term and had to wear a stupid bike helmet every time I engaged in any physical activity for months.”

“Bad memories stick better than good ones, I guess.”

By the time they reach their apartment Oikawa has managed to turn the conversation into how Iwaizumi needs the bath more than him anyway because “Iwa-chan’s a swamp of sweat and B.O. from being out of shape and not playing volleyball anymore,” and Iwaizumi has verbally repented to god twice for wishing bodily harm on him.

“The next time we’re in Miyagi, I’m telling coach you nearly killed yourself trying to do a single leg takeoff. He’s gonna laugh at you and then punch you in the head.”

“Are you threatening to tell on me to coach?”

“Yes,” Oikawa says, and shuts the door behind them, wriggling out of his parka and hanging it on the lamp they use as a makeshift coat rack.

Iwaizumi kicks off his shoes, rolling his eyes at Oikawa’s back. “Well, if you do, I hope your plan backfires and coach yells at you for overdoing your spiking practices. Also, screw you for trying to tell on me, you snitch.”

“Never said I played fair,” Oikawa says, turning back around. He lowers his gaze, expression rueful. “Besides, I’m willing to do anything to play volleyball with you again, Iwa-chan. Even if I act mad about it. You know that.”

“You’re such a dumbass,” Iwaizumi says, knocking his fist in a mock punch against Oikawa’s head, before opening his palm and sliding his fingers through his hair instead, pulling him forward until they are almost nose to nose.

“I’ll beat you up if you hurt yourself.”

“Iwa-chan would never hurt me. You wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you ruined my beautiful face.”

“Maybe,” Iwaizumi says, and he’s rewarded with Oikawa sputtering, face ruddy and nonplussed, before he slides their mouths together again.

They fall asleep in Iwaizumi’s bed, half of Oikawa’s limbs draped over him, crushing his vital organs, and it’s the best either of them have slept in weeks.

``````
“Are you really skipping class again,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa’s eyes shoot open, and he’s sitting up straight as a reed, hands flying around his head defensively. Iwaizumi stares at him from where he stands at the foot of the couch, unimpressed.

“Why are you home so early?! I thought-- um.”

“You thought you could get away with skipping class again because I wouldn’t be here to kick your ass. Also, my Bio lab got cancelled.” Iwaizumi sighs, glancing at the television in exasperation, where a bride is crying because her mother hates the wedding dress of her dreams. “Why do you always watch this crap?”

Oikawa deflates, collapsing backwards on the couch again, effectively taking up all the space.

“It’s weird,” Oikawa says, looking back up to meet Iwaizumi’s vaguely amused stare. “Every time I turn on the tv it’s on this channel, and this show is on, and I am simultaneously unable to find the remote to change it.”

“Huh. You poor thing.”

“My life is a black abyss.”

Iwaizumi scoots onto the couch, shooing away Oikawa’s feet from settling on his lap, but Oikawa’s gangly limbs find their way into his space like invasive vines, anyway. By the time the next episode starts, Oikawa is seated contently in his lap, his arms wrapped around Iwaizumi’s shoulders.

“Iwa-chan,” he sing-songs, cheek pressed into his clavicle. Iwaizumi can feel the way he smiles into his skin, his lips brushing him as he speaks, sending tiny electroshocks of shivers darting across his body; splintering off between every vertebra of his spine and spreading its fingers over his pulse.

“What.”

“Do you think I’ll be a brat on our wedding day, too? Like the brides on the show?”

And it’s-- it’s something he’s been joking about for months now, it hardly even makes Iwaizumi blink whenever Oikawa brings it up anymore, but he’s incapable of hiding the way it makes him stiffen with ambivalence, now; makes him think, how far is too far?

He knows instantly that Oikawa felt the visceral reaction from him, the indicative delay, because he unwinds his arms from around his neck and stutters around, “Sorry.”

Iwaizumi knows Oikawa doesn't get it, not really, and is probably imagining something wildly different from the truth. He leans forward to press a kiss to his temple, not daring to say anything out loud, not yet.

Oikawa sighs, leaning into the touch. He doesn't circle his arms around Iwaizumi again, but he stays curled up on his chest and plays with the strings hanging around the neck of Iwaizumi’s hoodie.

They watch the rest of the episode mostly in silence, aside from Oikawa’s occasional chittering when one of the brides ugly-cries, and then when he smacks Iwaizumi’s arm after he says nobody is an uglier cryer than Oikawa.

“I’m surprised my sister was so calm on her wedding day,” Oikawa says.

“She broke a vase and threatened to run away,” Iwaizumi says.

“Yeah, boring.”

“The dramatics in your family astound me.” Iwaizumi shifts his arm, brings it down to curl around Oikawa’s waist. “And you’re going to be so fucking annoying on the big day.”

Oikawa perks up at that, tilts his head so he can meet Iwaizumi’s gaze. His ears are pink, have been for the past thirty minutes or so, and when Iwaizumi leans forward to mouth at the flushed outer shell, Oikawa yelps, bringing up a hand to cover the side of his face, blushing wildly.

“Stupid!” he hisses, but his lips wobble, breaking on a goofy, happy smile. “And I am going to be so classy! The most classy groom to ever be wed!”

“You're gonna freak out about your hair right before the ceremony and refuse to go out until it’s perfect and I’m gonna have to go in and personally drag you out myself.”

Oikawa’s lips twitch. “That’s bad luck. You seeing me before the ceremony.”

“Yeah, well, I’m the only one allowed to kick your ass.”

Oikawa scrunches his face up, makes a vague whining sound before burying his face in Iwaizumi’s shoulder. “Stop saying cool things so calmly. You’re pissing me off.”

“Why?”

“Because. I wanna be the cool one.”

“Oh, well, you’ve never been cool and never will be and I don’t expect that to change, so.”

“But. How am I supposed to woo you if you keep making me so nervous?”

Iwaizumi’s heart trips on a beat. Oikawa has been saying things like that recently, with no warning whatsoever, and it’s probably what is going to be responsible for Iwaizumi developing heart arrhythmia at the early age of twenty.

“Your heart is beating really fast,” Oikawa says.

“Yeah, I think it’s septic shock, don’t worry about it.”

Oikawa looks up at him, the corners of his eyes crinkled as he smiles. Iwaizumi swallows, watches Oikawa’s gaze follow the rise and fall of his adam’s apple, before darting up to his lips.

Iwaizumi frowns. “That’s not fair,” he says.

“What?” Oikawa says, distracted.

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes and captures Oikawa’s lips with his own, swallows the annoyingly happy sound of surprise Oikawa murmurs against his mouth. Oikawa climbs around until he’s kneeling over Iwaizumi’s lap, thighs on either side of his hips.

They kiss lazily for a bit, Oikawa melting against him, fingers weaving through Iwaizumi’s hair and massaging circles into his head, brushing against an old scar hidden at the base of his skull. Iwaizumi remembers, faintly, the time he fell of his bike when he was ten and Oikawa cried and cried, snot falling down his face, as he bled on the ground. He remembers Oikawa poking at the bandaged wound, and then at the scab, and then brushing delicate fingers over the silvery scar months later, until Iwaizumi’s hair got so long he couldn’t find it anymore. There’s still ghosts of pain that sting there sometimes, and it reminds Iwaizumi of those curious fingertips every time.

Oikawa nips at his lip suddenly, hard enough to draw blood, and he jolts back, wincing.

“Dude, what the fuck,” he says.

“You were the one zoning out while a handsome guy was making out with you,” Oikawa says. He’s kidding, but there’s something troubled in his eyes.

“I was thinking about how gross it is when you drool on my chin.”

“That was one time!” Oikawa says, warmth flooding his cheeks. Iwaizumi feels smug, even though he knows he’s done the same thing to him once before.

“It was like three times, but okay.”

Oikawa doesn’t say anything for a minute, eyes trained to the hollow of Iwaizumi’s throat. Iwaizumi takes the time to appreciate the moment, how it feels for Oikawa to sit in his lap with their bodies slotted together so tightly, chest to chest. Oikawa sighs against his throat, and Iwaizumi resists trembling at the sensation. Slowly, to Iwaizumi’s surprise, Oikawa presses a feathery kiss to his collarbone. It’s sweet, kind of lo-fi, and makes Iwaizumi squirm.

“What’s that about,” he says.

“Nothing.” Oikawa shrugs, not meeting his eyes. “I just wanted to.”

Iwaizumi lifts his forefinger to Oikawa’s chin, tilts his face up so they are level with each other. Oikawa’s mouth is twisted up anxiously.

“Stop worrying.”

Oikawa frowns. “I’m not.”

“I always know when you’re worrying about things that have to do with me,” Iwaizumi says.

“That is a very self-involved superpower,” Oikawa says.

Iwaizumi makes a face, but drops it. They watch the rest of the episode like that, and when it ends, Oikawa gets up to go for a run.

He’s gone for four hours, without his cellphone, and Iwaizumi refuses to let himself think about it. He works on some research for a paper he has to write and then goes to sleep.

He’s awakened later that night when Oikawa crawls into his bed, his hair damp from the shower and smelling too sweet. Iwaizumi feels the warmth he emanates against his back; he’s still running hot from pushing himself for too many miles. Iwaizumi rolls over to wrap his arms around him anyway, chin on the crown of Oikawa’s head. He feels him relax, slowly, at the gesture and even out his breathing, tension bleeding out from his overworked muscles.

“So manly,” Oikawa jokes.

“Shut up. Sleep.”

He does.

------

“Hajime, you can’t survive off of nothing but protein drinks and french fries.”

“Okaasan, you’re giving me an ulcer.”

“Oh, don’t be dramatic. I just want to make sure you’re eating alright. The last time I saw you, you both looked a bit thin--”

Iwaizumi takes a breath, and sits down on a nearby bench, realizing this isn’t going to be a short phone call. He’s just finished his longest lecture of the day and just wants to get the hell off campus.

“-- and are you sleeping any better? Those bags under your eyes nearly gave me a heart attack last time I saw you, Hajime. You looked like the walking dead. Tooru, too, he has to rest a lot because of how taxing volleyball is on his body! Oh, you poor things.”

Iwaizumi smiles. “We’re doing okay, Okaasan.”

“I know, I know! I just worry. Tokyo is such a big, scary place. And you’re always traveling back and forth because of that old man and his restaurant--”

“I’m really grateful for Uncle giving us jobs. It’s fun, and I’ve learned a lot. Besides, our last day is next weekend, so no need to worry.”

“Oh, thank goodness. I’m so happy you have Tooru there with you, it’s such a relief for me,” she says. Iwaizumi frowns.

“Why? He’s the one who needs to be taken care of. It’s just more work for me.”

His mother laughs warmly. “Maybe, but you sound happy. So it’s a relief for me.”

Iwaizumi wipes a hand over his face, embarrassed. “Yeah, yeah.”

“Hey, where is my adorable son-in-law, anyway? I wanna thank him for putting up with my stubborn child. He’s made a fine man out of you.”

Iwaizumi freezes.

“Hajime?”

“Uh,” Iwaizumi stutters, and it’s stupid, she’s joking, everyone is, they’re all humoring them, but right now he can’t help but think this is what it would be like, if it could be that way, if it were possible, and he’s choked on emotions he doesn’t allow close enough to identify, but they leave staccato bursts of misery in their wake.

“He’s-- still in class. It’s Thursday. We don’t see each other until late tonight.” He tries not to sound like he’s choking, but he is, and he does.

His mother doesn’t say anything for awhile, and it’s just Iwaizumi and his heartbeat.

Her voice is tinny and level when she finally says, “You know, there’s this new place downtown I think Tooru would really love. It’s some kind of hip cafe, I think? It looks quite sweet, and they serve all these French delicacies, so I think he would really love it. I’ll take you both there the next time you come and visit. It’ll be fun, just the three of us.”

Iwaizumi rubs the heel of his palm into his eyes.

“That sounds great, Okaasan. He would love that.”

They finish talking soon after that, and Iwaizumi stays sitting on the campus bench a while longer, students running to and fro around him. He tries to stay calm, not think, but it proves difficult to do when all of his thoughts trip over themselves in a mad dash to run from the fact that this is something he actually wants so badly it hurts, he can’t let it slip away because this is Oikawa, not a fling or a no-strings-attached set-up, this is real, could never be anything except real, and how the hell is he supposed to pretend that it isn’t?

“Iwa-chan?”

Oikawa is in front of him, peering down into his face like a harbinger of chaos. He grins widely, laughing.

“You look so mopey and miserable, Iwa-chan. Did you fail an exam or something?”

“Why are you here,” Iwaizumi says without thinking at all.

Oikawa’s smile dims slightly, and he leans back a little. “I just got out of class. I should be asking you why you’re here.” He folds his arms. “Didn’t you miss the next train out?”

“I was on the phone with Okaasan.”

“Oh!” Oikawa sits down beside him, suddenly excited. “Dammit, I missed her then, huh? I wish I could have said hi. I mean, we both know she likes me more than you, anyway.”

Iwaizumi huffs a laugh. “Yeah, you’re probably right.”

“Iwa-chan, are you okay? I wasn’t kidding earlier, you don’t look so great,” Oikawa says, fingers brushing his arm gingerly.

Iwaizumi turns to look at him. They haven’t so much as touched the last few days or so, let alone kissed, and he’s tried not to notice, not to focus on how discernibly distant they’ve been, because it’s not as if they’ve talked about any of this. They’re traipsing the boundaries of something vague, brushing the peripheries of it, never quite managing to get the timing right. He probably doesn’t have the right to ask for more.

“Can I kiss you?” he asks.

All the blood drains from Oikawa’s face, and a complicated array of emotions pass over him quickly. “Ah, Iwa-chan, we’re in public, so--”

“So?”

Oikawa looks stunned. “Um. People will see us. Your classmates will see us, Iwa-chan.”

“I don’t actually care.”

Oikawa looks irritated. “Maybe not right now, in this moment, but eventually, yeah, you will. Don’t be naive, Iwa-chan. You’re not actually stupid.”

“You’re the one being stupid,” Iwaizumi says.

“I’m being realistic.”

“You mean safe?” Iwaizumi echoes, the words familiar and foreboding, and the look on Oikawa’s face tells him he won, and also maybe he lost.

Oikawa stands up swiftly, grabbing his bag and stalking off without another word.

///

The next weekend is their last shift at the restaurant, and they’ve barely spoken all week. It’s not as if things have been constantly tense or uncomfortable; they still play video games after dinner and go for runs in the morning. It’s just that whenever Iwaizumi braces himself to open his mouth and talk, really say something, he takes one look at the tired, resigned expression on Oikawa’s face and promptly shuts up. Iwaizumi thinks maybe neither of them has any idea what to say.

The shift is short and aside from Iwaizumi knocking into another waiter and spilling piping hot tea all over himself, it’s uneventful. His uncle only gives a hearty laugh, threatening to cut his paycheck to teach him a lesson.

Afterwards, their coworkers insist on taking them out for drinks as a proper goodbye. They all got along fairly well during their short time working there, and neither Iwaizumi nor Oikawa is really capable of turning down free anything at this point.

They all walk companionably down to the nearest bar, filled with lots of hip young people and fancy cocktails they’ve never heard of before. They take up the five empty bar seats, and the bartender jerks her head at them in question.

“I’ll just have an Asahi on tap, thanks,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa raise three fingers. “Black single malt, neat.”

Iwaizumi shoots him a look, but Oikawa pretends he doesn’t see.

“Oh, Oikawa-san is letting loose tonight!” one of their coworkers, Jun, says, and everyone laughs.

They all get their drinks and Jun does a dramatic toast to the end of an era, whatever that means, it’s not like they knew each other all that well, and maybe Iwaizumi is in a worse mood than when the night began.

Oikawa keeps downing shots, and hasn’t said a word to him. He’s flirting with their coworker Rini, making her laugh and fluster. Iwaizumi has had enough.

“Hey, maybe you should slow down, Oikawa,” he says. “You have practice tomorrow afternoon, remember?”

Oikawa shrugs him off, turning away from all of them. “We’re having fun, Iwa-chan. Don’t be a buzzkill.”

“I’m not. You’re being reckless, is all.”

“Uh oh, trouble in paradise,” Jun says. They all get a good laugh out of that, Rini included. “I guess it’s normal for couples to fight once they’re married, though!”

“Why don’t you mind your own business, Jun-kun?” Oikawa says, and the laughter quiets down awkwardly.

“Ah, it’s just a joke, Oikawa-san.”

“Yeah, you’re right, it is a dumb joke. We’re not married, and we’re not getting married, so just. Just shut the hell up and stop talking about it.”

“Tooru,” Iwaizumi says, voice low in his ear. “You’re drunk. We’re leaving now.”

Oikawa throws back a shot of whiskey and flips him off.

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says. “We’re going home.”

Before Oikawa can fight him any further, Iwaizumi grabs his arm and pulls him off his stool, causing him to stumble sideways, crashing into the bar.

“Fuck, Iwa-chan,” he says. “You-- don’t manhandle me! Let go, I can walk on my own.”

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi says, dragging his friend along as they weave around people in the dimly lit bar, making a beeline outside. Behind them, he can hear their coworkers worriedly talking to each other. Once they exit, Iwaizumi still doesn’t let go, quickening his pace so they don’t miss the next train out.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa pants, “Stop pulling, dammit!”

Iwaizumi lets go, reluctantly, and Oikawa doubles over with hands on his knees.

“Are you going to throw up?”

“No, stupid. I’m out of, out of breath. You totally just--... you weren’t considerate of me at all, running and pulling me like that. You jackass.”

“Oh. Sorry,” Iwaizumi says, rubs circles on Oikawa’s back as he heaves and sways. He wants to say more, he wants to ask Oikawa what’s wrong, why is he so upset, what did he do wrong and how can he fix it, but instead he bites his lip and swallows down the anxieties, tangled and knotted inside of him.

After a few moments of hesitation, he presses a light kiss to Oikawa’s temple, just because. It’s not like there’s a lot of people around, and also they haven’t been intimate in a week and Iwaizumi kind of feels desperate.

Oikawa jerks away from the gesture, which. Which kind of makes Iwaizumi’s vision pulse and shake. It hurts, but mostly it makes fear pierce sharply through his chest. He knew Oikawa would react like that.

“What’s going on, Tooru,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa shivers and shakes his head, doesn’t make eye contact.

“You should have let me stay at the bar.”

“You’re belligerent. I’m asking you why.”

Oikawa begins, words shaky, “I don’t want to talk about this right now--”

“Then when!” Iwaizumi doesn’t mean to shout. “When, huh?! When are we finally gonna get this over with and talk.”

Oikawa’s eyes go wide and afraid as he stares at the ground, chest still heaving. “I don’t want to get this over with. Please.”

Iwaizumi stops short at his tone. “What?”

Oikawa covers his face with his hands. “I don’t want this to end!”

Iwaizumi feels his heart drop to his feet. “Woah, wait, what are you talking about? Tooru, you’re really drunk right now, I need you to calm down--”

“Don’t tell me I’m overreacting, Hajime!”

Around them, people pass by, pretending not to stare and dissect the scene they’re witnessing. Iwaizumi feels himself shaking and he’s not sure why.

“Tooru, let’s go home,” he says quietly, trying to grab on to his arm gently. Oikawa lets him.

They make it as far as the train station platform, waiting in silence for their line, before Oikawa speaks again.

“We can never get married,” Oikawa says.

Iwaizumi closes his eyes. When he opens them, everything is the same.

“What does that matter,” he says.

“We can never get married,” Oikawa repeats softly. “You probably… I mean this can’t go anywhere, right? And you… someday, you’re gonna wanna build a family. A real one. One you can go out in public with. But still… I just can’t let go. And that’s scary,” Oikawa loses his breath, suddenly, and Iwaizumi does too, his vision spinning. “Just, don’t-- don’t leave me, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa sobs, face crumpling, and he’s crying, which is so many things at once, none of which are okay. “I can never-- we can never-- not really, you know, but I just don’t want you to--”

There’s a break inside of Iwaizumi then, a moment of electric desperation so palpable he could feel it’s visceral chokehold around his heart.

He pulls Oikawa to his chest without so much as a second thought, lets out a shaky breath of relief when Oikawa wraps his arms around his waist and buries his blubbering face in his chest.

“I’m not going anywhere, it’s okay,” Iwaizumi says, petting his hand over Oikawa’s hair. He’s grateful the platform is empty.

“Please don't marry anyone else,” Oikawa sobs against his chest, and he’s so drunk he’s not making any sense, and Iwaizumi is fighting back tears.

“I won't,” he says, vehemently.

They make it to their apartment after what feels like hours. Oikawa had ended up throwing up all over the street when they made it back to Minato, which had been a pain to explain to the officer who saw the whole thing happen.

Once they both showered and got into bed, Iwaizumi was more awake than before. Oikawa passed out the minute his head hit the pillow, but Iwaizumi stayed up nearly the whole night, trying not to think too hard and failing.

///

“You know pissing and moaning won’t actually do anything, right? Like, this is what you get for being so stupid.”

“Iwa-chan, have mercy on me, okay? My head's splitting open and my brains are falling out.”

“I hope this hangover teaches you a lesson,” Iwaizumi says, sitting down at the edge of his bed. He hands Oikawa an ice pack and watches him squirm and wince as he applies it, rolling over onto his side.

“Hey, about what you were saying last night,” Iwaizumi begins, and Oikawa immediately puts a hand up.

“I’m experiencing short term memory loss, try again another day.”

“Tooru.”

“Also, since when did you start using my name so casually? It kind of pisses me off.”

“You call me Hajime when you’re angry.”

Oikawa looks surprised. “I do?”

“You do.”

“Huh.” Oikawa takes the ice pack off his forehead, stares up at the ceiling blankly. “Weird.”

“Tooru, I want to be with you. Not just hooking up. I want you to understand that I’m serious about you, and I don’t give a shit what other people think.”

Oikawa groans, smothering his face in a pillow. “Have some tact, Iwa-chan. Don’t just… say things like that out of nowhere.”

“It’s not out of nowhere. You brought it up last night,” Iwaizumi says defensively.

A few minutes of silence pass clumsily between them, until Oikawa lowers the pillow from his face. He stares at Iwaizumi with something akin to optimism.

“We’re not kids, anymore, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says. “If you tell me you want me, it’s gonna mean something to me. Something real.”

“This isn’t a game to me, dumbass. I don’t want to date you-- I want to have you.”

Oikawa swallows audibly. “That’s scary.”

“Not like that. You have me, too.”

“Still scary.”

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says, sighing. “It is.”

Oikawa plays with the loose threads of the pillow he still clutches, suddenly shy. “I mean. I guess we can, you know. Be boyfriends.”

“That sounds so fucking weird.”

“I know,” Oikawa says, cringing.“Fiancés?”

“Well. Not yet.”

Oikawa huffs. “Tact, Iwa-chan.”

“Sorry.”

“But anyway, yeah.” Oikawa rolls over on his other side, his back to Iwaizumi. “I guess we’ll like, you know. Be together from now on. But just so you know, if you break my heart I’ll never fucking forgive you.”

“That won’t happen,” Iwaizumi says.

“Hmm.” Oikawa stays faced away from him, curls his legs up to his chest. “Anyway, you’re not allowed to watch porn anymore.”

“Is that a part of being together?”

“You have me, Iwa-chan.”

“Oh,” Iwaizumi says, and he actually blushes. “Okay. I just, uh. I wasn’t sure if you wanted to… I just wasn’t sure about that part yet.”

Oikawa flips back over angrily. “Well not right now! I’m not ready! Besides, I already know neither of us is gonna wanna be bottom which is already a huge problem!”

“I don’t mind being bottom,” Iwaizumi blurts, and immediately feels like setting himself on fire.

Oikawa looks like he feels the same and throws the pillow at Iwaizumi’s face.

“Ugh! Shut up! I’m never having sex with you! Jerk off alone for the rest of your life!”

“Okay, okay, sorry,” Iwaizumi says. He suddenly, inexplicably starts laughing.

“Why are you laughing?! I’m serious, Iwa-chan!”

“I know,” Iwaizumi says, biting his lip to stop his chuckling. “That’s fine. We don’t need to have sex.”

Oikawa eyes him warily. “Are you saying you don’t want to have sex with me?”

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. “I’m saying let’s take our time. There’s no rush if we have the rest of our lives.”

Oikawa’s face slowly breaks out in a broad mega-watt smile, his cheeks dipped in a rosy red. “You’re so cheesy, Iwa-chan. I’m dating a cornball.”

“Shut up.”

“My boyfriend is a huge dork. I can’t believe this. My parents are going to be shocked.”

“You watched all seasons of the X-files on Netflix in like, five days. You’re the dork.”

“Nope, my boyfriend is worse,” Oikawa says, and he’s laughing, head thrown back, cheeks dimpling. Iwaizumi crawls over him, grabbing his waist.

“Actually, I think I like ‘boyfriend’,” Iwaizumi says. “I like it when you say it.”

Oikawa bites his lip shyly. He brings his hands up to Iwaizumi’s shoulders, looks up at him through his eyelashes. “Mm. I think I like saying it.”

Iwaizumi dips down to kiss him, and it’s simultaneously the most relieved and overworked his heart has felt all week.

“You’re my boyfriend,” Oikawa says softly against his lips, peppering his mouth with closed mouth kisses. His hands are greedy and frantic, running up and down Iwaizumi’s arms to his face. He pulls back, eyes watery, and whispers, “I’m so happy, Iwa-chan.”

And Iwaizumi wishes he was better with words, because he knows Oikawa deserves to hear it all, every overly sentimental detail of what he feels towards him. Instead, he grabs Oikawa’s hand and places it over where his heart gallops wildly, laces their fingers together.

Oikawa stares, dazed, back up at him. Lips parted, pupils blown wide, hair feathered out around him. Iwaizumi matches his gaze evenly, long seconds stretching on between them until Oikawa bites his lip, tilts his flushed face sideways. The tips of his ears are absolutely burning.

“Kiss me more, Iwa-chan,” he mumbles into his shoulder.

Iwaizumi obliges.

////

“You didn’t tell me how expensive this place is, Tooru,” Matsukawa mumbles, flipping through the menu dejectedly.

“Did you really expect anything cheaper,” Iwaizumi says. “This is the idiot’s favorite restaurant.”

“Sorry I have good taste,” Oikawa says. “Also, I want the Nabeyaki udon with all the works, please!”

Matsukawa deadpans, “No.”

“Pick something a little cheaper, Tooru, c’mon,” Iwaizumi says.

“That’s what I want!”

“Why are you such an expensive date,” Matsukawa says.

“Because I deserve the best,” Oikawa says. “Iwa-chan, tell Mattsun I deserve the best.”

“You deserve whatever they can afford, idiot.”

“Hey! They offered to treat us, they can’t skimp out now! I want Nabeyaki udon with all the works, Iwa-chan!”

Iwaizumi looks up and meets Oikawa’s petulant expression evenly. “I’ll pay for your meal then, so get whatever you want.”

Oikawa pumps his fists in the air.

“You two are disgusting,” Hanamaki says, smirking.

“Yeah, yeah,” Iwaizumi says, because it’s true.

After their meal, when they’re mostly just sitting around their table drinking and harassing each other with embarrassing stories, Iwaizumi gets up to go to the bathroom.

“He’s been gone for like, twenty minutes,” Oikawa says.

“Leave your boyfriend alone,” Matsukawa says. “He’s probably taking a shit.”

“Yeah, you’re boyfriend isn’t perfect, Tooru. He poops, just like the rest of us.”

“Why do you guys keep saying boyfriend over and over,” Oikawa says, fighting down a blush. “Stop, it’s embarrassing.”

“Tooru, you literally never stop calling him your boyfriend.”

“Yeah, it’s sickening.”

“Shut up,” Oikawa says, pouting. “You two are so mean to me. You just hate us being happy while you’re both single.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Oh, you’re boyfriend’s back.”

Oikawa turns around just in time to see Iwaizumi sink to his knee, his face pinched in discomfort and flushed red to the roots of his hair. He’s holding a silver ring out in front of him.

“Oh, fuck,” Oikawa says.

“Don’t make this harder than it already is,” Iwaizumi warns, but his hands are shaking, and he’s sweating, and everyone in the restaurant is staring at him. Oikawa tries his hardest not to cry.

“Tooru, I--”

“Yes!” Oikawa shouts, and their friends burst out in laughter.

“Dumbass! Let me finish!” Iwaizumi says, even more flustered. “Um. Well, I just want you to know that even though we might not be able to get married here, and things will definitely be difficult for us, I want to be with you for the rest of my life. I don’t care about all that other stuff, it doesn’t matter to me. You matter to me. And you know, uh, I’m not always good with… words, but you always understand what I’m trying to say anyway, so. Yeah, I think you get it, will you marry me? For real?”

Oikawa sits very still, eyes wide. “Can I say yes now?”

Iwaizumi barks out a laugh. “Yeah, you can.”

“YES!”

Hanamaki and Matsukawa wolf whistle and clap and hoot behind them, generally making a scene, until the rest of the restaurant catches up and does the same. Neither of them really notice, Oikawa opting to throw himself into Iwaizumi’s arms.

“Thank you,” Oikawa says, and he’s crying all over the place again, but this time Iwaizumi isn’t worried. He hugs Oikawa close and presses his hands into his back, every inch of him familiar and safe and home.

Iwaizumi presses their foreheads together, tries to memorize every nuance of this moment, because nothing will ever come close to it again.

The tips of Oikawa’s eyelashes are wet as they brush Iwaizumi’s cheek, and it reminds him of all the times he’s been there to hold Oikawa while he’s cried and how he can’t imagine a life without those tears plucking at his heartstrings, punctuating every memorable moment, wrecking him time and time again in the best and worst ways.

“Crybaby,” he says, instead of, I love you.

Oikawa gives a watery smile, leans back a little to meet Iwaizumi’s gaze, and his eyes are bright, his lips swollen from biting them.

“Yeah,” he says. “And you wanna marry me anyway.”

Iwaizumi smiles, easy and genuine.

“Yeah. I do.”