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“Where?” starts Iwaizumi.

“My parent’s old lakehouse, silly, didn’t you hear me the first time?”

“I heard you, but-” he trails off. This is a little- well, a little over the top, even for Oikawa. He can tell by the strain of his voice, the too-wide way he is smiling, that something is deeply wrong. Iwaizumi feels out of place and clumsy, unsure how to handle him. “-But, are your parents alright with it?”

Oikawa rolls his eyes. “Iwa-chan, please! They love you, they think you’re the most responsible guy, like, ever. Probably ‘cause you have such a boring look on your face all the time- ow, don’t pinch me! But yes, they wouldn’t let me go with anyone else. It has to be you.”

Against his own will, Iwaizumi feels slighted. “Someone else?”

Oikawa’s beguiling smile falters for a split moment, a fleeting incalculable look lying underneath.  Then it comes back at full, false force. “Jealousy’s not a pretty look on you, Iwa-chan! It would’ve been interesting to take a girl back there, huh. But I guess I’m stuck with you.”

Iwaizumi realizes that for the first time, Oikawa’s room, untidy and smelling slightly of familiar sweat, feels too cramped. There are matters to discuss, including how Oikawa had gotten the idea in his head that an unbidden trip to a lakehouse with Iwaizumi only is a good idea. No matter how responsible he is, Iwaizumi thinks, it doesn’t change the fact that he can’t cook for shit. One week, in the middle of nowhere, with Oikawa? It’s as good as leaving him to fend for himself in the forest.

He shifts on the bed, uncomfortably. Oikawa had felt off for a few weeks, now- he had an air that was forced, and even though this is usually par for the course, it was almost never up around Iwaizumi. This is new territory.

“It’s almost midnight,” Iwaizumi eventually offers, glancing first at the analog clock besides Oikawa’s bed, then to the window on the wall adjacent. The sky is a sheet of dark blue. He can’t see the moon from here, but there are a few stars out.

Oikawa stares at him. “Uh… I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”

And again, this isn’t right at all; here is where Oikawa would flippantly ask Iwaizumi to sleep over, and Iwaizumi would pretend to be annoyed and say no, once or twice, before settling into the bed in a manner that made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere. Instead, Oikawa is looking up at him with a strange expression on his face, massaging his bad knee from his place on the carpet.

Perhaps it was this off-canter Oikawa that made Iwaizumi feel compelled to leave anyhow. He nods, gathers his stuff, and tries not to visibly frown over how Oikawa isn’t offering to walk him home, or even downstairs.

“Text me what I need to pack,” he says faintly, from the door.

Oikawa glances up, surprised, and then vaguely pleased. “Ah, I knew you’d give in.”

“Shut up. Just text me.”

The walk home is not lonely, he tells himself, even if he still can’t see the moon.

**

From: Asskawa, To: You

enough clothing for two weeks, one outfit for a fancy night out, swimsuits, a LOT of snacks, cash (enough for gas, some groceries, and a lil extra), whatever toiletries you need to get, and a healthy respect for me!!!!

To: Asskawa, From: You

i have most of that, but i don’t think i’ll ever find the last thing

From: Asskawa, To: You

 ( Ծε Ծ|||)

**

To: Seijou GM, From: Asskawa

right everyone so me and iwa-chan are honeymooning at my old lakehouse for the next two weeks. just a heads up if you try to text us and we don’t reply!! Theres like no signal there haha

To: Seijou GM, From: Hanamaki

sickening

To: Seijou GM, From: Matsukawa

use protection

To: Seijou GM, From: You

shittykawa stop adding me back to this chat after i leave ill kill you

**

They manage to stuff both of their luggage into Oikawa’s sedan; Iwaizumi notes that Oikawa seems to have packed a lot more than what he texted him to bring.

“It’s ‘cause I’m covering the extra stuff we don’t both need to bring,” he explains at Iwaizumi’s confusion. “Like sunscreen, bug spray, that stuff.”

Iwaizumi feels that phantom, alien feeling in his chest. “Idiot, you could’ve just split it with me, I would’ve gotten half of the stuff.”

“Too late now for that, Iwa-chan!”

He makes a half-hearted grumbling sound, and adjusts his cap on his head. The drive is supposed to be ten hours long, and he makes his way to the driver’s seat, only to get suddenly and viciously blocked by Oikawa.

“Ah ah ah! Who’s car is this?”

“Yours,” says Iwaizumi, so startled that he forgets to sound irritated. In retrospect, it was odd that Oikawa had insisted on taking his car, when he had a clear preference for Iwaizumi’s. “But you always make me drive-”

“That’s ‘cause it’s your car, silly. I’ll drive most of this trip.”

But you hate driving, thinks Iwaizumi. “Yeah, sure,” he says instead. He takes out his iPod and headphones while walking to the opposite side of the car.

“You’re gonna listen to that?” asks Oikawa once he settles inside. He glances up- Oikawa isn’t looking at him, but rather behind as he backs out. It still feels like he’s actively avoiding eye contact.

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it,” Oikawa says smoothly. “I was just wondering if I could play my own music or not.”

Iwaizumi shrugs, puts his earphones in, and lays his head back as the car starts rolling forward. Twenty minutes in, he dozes off.

He wakes up about three hours later, his earphones lying in his lap. He hadn’t taken them out before he had fallen asleep- that must have been Oikawa. He blearily rubs at his eyes, takes in the scenery- they’re on the highway, but the trees have increased on either side.

“You’re finally awake, Sleeping Beauty?” Oikawa teases, sparing him a glance.

Iwaizumi, in all his infinite wisdom, grunts, “Huh?”

“Or not,” Oikawa grins. It’s the first real smile Iwaizumi has seen on him for the last few days, and the fact that his head is in front of a cyan window makes him look like he’s a framed photograph. “It’s a couple of more hours. You wanna go to the bathroom or anything?”

Iwaizumi itches his chin. “No… I’m good.” He swallows a few times. “You want me to drive?”

Oikawa waves him off. The windows must have been open recently, Iwaizumi reasons, as Oikawa’s hair is ruffled and windswept in a way that seems different from his usual style.

“I didn’t use gel today,” Oikawa mutters at his look. “Jeez, can’t I have a break sometimes?”

“No,” responds Iwaizumi, not missing a beat. “Pretty boys don’t get to have breaks, or flaws.”

“And your face gets to take a break every single day?”

 I’m not a pretty boy. In fact, your disgusting personality is already a big enough flaw.”

Oikawa pouts. “You are mean, Iwa-chan.” 

They stare at the road for a few beats of silence, smiling. This felt like familiar ground again. Perhaps on this trip Iwaizumi could actually ask him what was- happening with him, why he’s been behaving so unusually the past month.

Oikawa reaches out to fiddle with the radio station, finds a vague one playing pop hits from five years ago. “This ok?”

Truth be told, Iwaizumi had intended to go back to listening to his iPod, but instinct tells him to humor Oikawa for a little while. There had been an impossible-to-place quality to him since the idea for the trip had started, and it made Iwaizumi nervous. “Yeah, yeah.”

An hour later, when Oikawa still insists on driving, and buys him a chocolate bar at the gas station with a shy smile (such a thing had probably transpired on Oikawa’s face only twice in his life before), Iwaizumi realizes with a start that the quality is, beyond all means of comprehension, earnestness.

**

“S’this it?” Iwaizumi groans as they pull up. The last hour or so had taken place in the middle of a forest, with winding roads. It is nearly evening now, and though the house seems to be quite secluded, it’s in an open enough space that they don’t have to walk on dirt.

“Don’t sound so grumpy about it,” mutters Oikawa. He parks the car outside, climbs out, and stretches. His shorts hang low, Iwaizumi notes, watching as his striped shirt rides up. Maybe he’ll buy him new shorts for his birthday, or something.

Iwaizumi also gets out, trying to glance around the back of the cabin- there seemed to be more open space there. The front is pretty, as architecture went. Homely and rustic- perhaps a little too much, as if it was built purposely to satisfy an aesthetic- about two stories tall (one of the levels seemed to be on the short side), a small stone path leading up to a large oak door. There were stray cobwebs decorating two wooden supports on the patio.

“Haven’t been here in a while?” he asks.

“Nope!” chirps Oikawa. He goes to open the trunk and gather the suitcases. “Actually, it’s going to be sold soon, so that’s why I wanted one last vacation here. My parents never let me bring a friend, and they had always said they would, so… I insisted, I guess.”

Iwaizumi nods silently, helps him get out the stuff. They get inside after minimal scrabbling with the keys.

The inside is spacious enough, and done entirely in honey colored wood. After the foyer is a small entertainment room to the left, and the kitchen and dining room to the right, separated by a fireplace. Iwaizumi sets down his bags, begins to walk further.

Near the back is another sitting room, and behind that, a half-outdoor sunroom. Iwaizumi had not realized that the house stood on a steep slope; from the front what had looked like the first floor is actually quite high up once viewed from the back of the house. There is a tiny patio- completely drowned in dead bugs and cobwebs, Iwaizumi notes- that connects just to the left of the sunroom, which has a flight of wooden stairs leading down to the ground.

Iwaizumi backs back around and goes to the dining area of the kitchen, which is tucked into the back of the house as well- a large window is placed on the far wall, and he can see that the stairs from the patio open up into a moderate patch of clear land, a garden nestled into the right corner, and a swing set placed closer to the house itself. There’s a wooden fence encircling the clearing, with a gate directly across the window; beyond the gate is a small dirt path and thorny-looking vegetation on either side.

He looks even farther, and sees that the gate stops at a small dock in a large lake, spreading farther than Iwaizumi could possibly see, with the trees further along blocking the view. In the arriving sunset, it looked almost completely white with illumination.

“Holy shit,” he says, out of surprise.

Oikawa appears by his shoulder, smirking. “It’s nice, isn’t it?”  

“Dude.”

Oikawa smiles, sincerely this time. “Yeah, I love it too.” He rests his chin, lightly, on Iwaizumi’s shoulder, and they stare at the lake for a few more moments. “We should unpack, Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi shrugs him off- more gently than usual- and goes to grab his stuff. “Where am I sleeping?” he asks.

“Well,” says Oikawa, “there are, hmm, six beds in this cabin- two are for, like, kids, so that’s out, one’s in the basement and it’s alright but it’s not really a furbished room, so not that either… That leaves two guest rooms, one master room. The guest rooms are queens, the master is a king.”

“I’m guessing you want the master.”

“Whose house it again, Iwa-chan?”

“Just show me the two guest rooms!”

Oikawa hesitates. “The master room is really big, we could both fit in there. And it’ll be less of a cleanup if we both stay in one room… plus, it has the best bathroom. The guest rooms don’t have their own bathrooms.”

Iwaizumi, despite himself, feels embarrassed by the intimation that they share beds even when there are others to spare. He forces himself to groan, “I hate sharing rooms with you. You’re messier than I am, and I can never find my stuff. And you kick in your sleep. Hard.”

Oikawa shrugs, and- oh no- that awful, weird smile comes on his face again. Iwaizumi kicks himself, mentally. “That’s fine. I thought I would just suggest it, in case… I think you should take the guest room on the first floor, across the master’s, so I don’t have to climb upstairs if I wanna get to you.”

Iwaizumi nods, still feeling odd, and gets into the room directed by Oikawa. It’s small, but it has a bed, a desk, and an armoire. A window to the right shows the forest outside.

He unpacks quickly, dumping his bottoms in one drawer, his shirts in another, and his undergarments in the last. He makes a face at the hangers sitting above the drawers. As if he has time to hang all of his shit. He ends up hanging his formal clothing, though, to avoid later ironing, and tosses his swim trunks under them. The rest could be dealt with whenever.

He comes out and feels a bit too warm; he adjusts the temperature on a monitor to something more reasonable, and turns to see Oikawa lying on the couch in the entertainment room, reading a magazine. He’s changed into his swim trunks, and has an unbuttoned shirt on over it.  

“Oh, come on!” he moans, when he spots Iwaizumi, still in his hoodie and shorts. “Don’t you wanna swim?”

Iwaizumi wordlessly walks into the kitchen, opens the refrigerator, and finds nothing there. He steps right to the adjacent pantry, and finds it is almost empty, save for the bag of chips they had brought for the car and a number of spices.

“Right,” he says, with a dead voice. Oikawa peeks behind the fireplace, and quickly realizes the predicament.

“Please please please can you do it-” he starts.

“We’re going grocery shopping, and we’re going together, and you’re going to help me, and we’re gonna come back home and unpack the snacks we brought, and we’re gonna make dinner.”

“You’re ruining my life, Iwa-chan.”

“Good.”

**

“No,” says Iwaizumi. “No, a million times no. Why would- why would we even need this shit?”

Oikawa stares dolefully at the bag of dehydrated space food in his hand. “If aliens take us, and we have no food left…?”

“You’re weird as fuck already for even liking this garbage. And we’re not gonna get abducted.”

He can hear Oikawa’s muttered “Not with that attitude,” as he wanders off to deposit the food back in the aisle he got it from. Why on Earth a tiny grocery store in a tiny town has any business carrying space food, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t care to find out.

He scans what they’ve gathered already. Milk, eggs, bread, rice, steak, cheese, yogurt, pasta, pasta sauce, assorted meats and fish, a bunch of vegetables and fruits, condiments, curry powders, and some microwavable meals. He wishes that this place had an obscure pizza delivery business, too. That would simplify his life some.

Oikawa comes back and deposits some terribly sugary cereal into the cart. They make eye contact, silently arguing, until Iwaizumi breaks first; he doesn’t have the energy to combat all of Oikawa’s whims.

“Thank you, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa sing-songs. He comes and walks behind Iwaizumi as they go down the canned goods aisle, wraps his arms around him and hums.

Iwaizumi cannot begin to understand what he’s trying to do. There’s no one around to impress, or to embarrass Iwaizumi to, or to- well, whatever Oikawa intends to achieve when he gets handsy with Iwaizumi in public. He doesn’t not not like it, he just- doesn’t know what to make of it.

Oikawa leans forward so that his cheek is brushing Iwaizumi’s. “Can we get ice cream, too?”

“No,” says Iwaizumi, feeling Oikawa’s smooth skin brush across his. They must have both shaved this morning. He inspects a set of canned soups, and figures the price is fair.

Oikawa huffs and detaches from Iwaizumi as he grabs the soups and puts it into the cart. “No fun, Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes, and continues down the aisle. He tries to not think too deeply about how Oikawa latches onto his back again. “We can have ice cream when we make pie, and right now we don’t have the ingredients for pie, so until we come back here for that, we won’t get ice cream, because I know you’ll eat it all by the time we buy the pie shit.”

“You know me more than I’m comfortable with,” Oikawa sniffs. “Shove off.”

“I’ve been grocery shopping on my own for the last few months for when I go to uni,” Iwaizumi says offhandedly.

He feels Oikawa slump further onto him. “How… adult, of you. You’re so responsible.” Although it is a joke, Iwaizumi hears a hint of wistfulness in this.

Without thinking, he reaches up and squeezes the arm folded across his neck; a comforting gesture but he realizes a second after that is perhaps too intimate for a passing comment- he tends to reserve outright affection with Oikawa for private and rare moments- and Oikawa stiffens, which concerns Iwaizumi even more, but he ends up relaxing back into Iwaizumi, and turning his head to nuzzle Iwaizumi’s hood. Which ends up being where Iwaizumi’s neck is. He finds that he doesn’t mind.

“Let’s go check out,” he says eventually, breaking the tension.

“Hmmph,” agrees Oikawa into his neck.

Wearily, Iwaizumi approached the sole open register in the store. He’s tired enough that he reasons that no one here will recognize him, or care, so he lets Oikawa continue his koala act as he checks out. Besides, the girl behind the register looked half-dead. He doubts she’ll mind.

She’s nearly done scanning their items when Oikawa sneaks in marshmallows, chocolates, graham crackers, and space food. The cashier looks between the two of them, clearly confused as to whether she should scan those, too.

“Live a little, Iwa-chan!” begs Oikawa. Iwaizumi gives Oikawa a hard look, and takes out the space food, but lets the other items go through. Even he is weak to s’mores.

Once they reach the lakehouse again, they set to stocking up the pantry, fridge, and cabinets. Oikawa finds a rice-cooker in one of the cabinets, and gladly brings it out.

“I’ll cook curry?” he suggests.

Iwaizumi snorts. “You can do that?” Oikawa gave off the air that he was far too much of a pampered prince to use his delicate hands in the house.

“Uh, yes! We brought a ready to make packet!”

“Whatever you say. Don’t kill anyone.”

Oikawa scowls. “I’m going to poison your plate.”

“Worth it, if I can get away from you.”

Oikawa lets out a tiny sound of faux anger, but gets out a pot to handle the food. Iwaizumi smiles privately at this- it’s not a new sight to see Oikawa work, by any definition, but it’s a new thing to see around the house. He looks domestic, slipping on a hairband to hold his whispery bangs back, squinting at the directions of the back of the packet, mouthing things silently to himself by the stove.

Iwaizumi puts away the last of the perishables into the fridge and freezer, and goes to wash his hands behind Oikawa before starting on the pantry.

He glances back. “If you had an apron on right now, you’d look like the perfect housewife.”

Oikawa twists around, waving the wooden spoon he’s been stirring the curry with. Tufts of his hair stick out wildly from the headband. “If I’m a housewife,” he says, threateningly, “then Iwa-chan is the asshole husband who never helps with the chores and buys too many porno mags.”

“It’s because you don’t satisfy me in bed, Tooru-chan.”

Oikawa stares at him, disgust on his face. “That’s… That’s the perviest, grossest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“Really? I thought I sounded like you.”

Oikawa opens his mouth at this to retort, and Iwaizumi enjoys watching him realize that he’s not strictly wrong.

“Never do that again,” Oikawa eventually says. Iwaizumi laughs quietly, and sets back to his own work. The savory smell of the curry- garlic, cloves, tomato- starts to warm the air. By now, it’s night, proper- maybe eight PM, Iwaizumi guesses. He’s starved.

He sets the table after he’s done with the pantry; the curry’s nearly done, and the rice is set up at the table. He goes to stand by the large window again. In the dark, the outside looks far more frightening; the trees seem to be all-consuming explosions of black, and the lake is a dark pool further on. The clearing, however, is yet well-lit; he glances up, and frowns.

“What’s wrong?” Oikawa asks, walking from the island to the table, curry pot in hand. He’s focusing on not spilling it, a precarious bend to his arms.

Iwaizumi shrugs. “Can’t see the moon,” he says casually. “Pass the curry.”

“Iwa-chan is so mysterious,” says Oikawa, without much thought as he hands over the pot. Iwaizumi finds he doesn’t mind Oikawa calling him that when they’re alone, and it’s no longer a device to prove something. He still has not conceived what Oikawa has been trying to prove for the past few years, but he hopes he’ll prove it soon and get it over with.

“Are we gonna swim tomorrow, then?” Iwaizumi asks as he serves himself.

“Of course,” says Oikawa. “There are some nice diners nearby for breakfast, though…”

“Though?”

“I kinda like having breakfast here for a while? Even if it’s boring. It’s actually nice to just stay here all day.”

Iwaizumi nods. “Then we won’t leave other than for groceries for a few days, yeah?”

Oikawa smiles, looking down at his food. “Yeah.”

**

The next day, Iwaizumi brushes his teeth, puts on his swim trunks, and goes into the kitchen. Oikawa isn’t up yet. He searches through the cabinets till he finds a pan, sets it on the stove, and goes into making scrambled eggs.

Oikawa walks in sometime around this, still in his pajamas. They’re slightly too big for him. His hair is the messiest Iwaizumi has seen it in a while- even counting the times he’d woken up before Oikawa during sleepovers.  

Iwaizumi barks a laugh at the sight of it, stuck flat in some places and sticking out riotously in others. “What happened?”

Oikawa rolls his eyes, sits down on the small chair behind the island. “I took a shower before I went to sleep, and didn’t wait for my hair to dry, smartass.”

“I like this look on you. Keep it forever.”

Oikawa chooses not to respond this, instead eyeing the eggs with melted cheese Iwaizumi is shuffling onto two plates. He hands one to Oikawa, and turns around to fetch toast.

“Nowh whfoo’s domefdic?” Oikawa says around a huge bite of scrambled eggs as Iwaizumi spreads jam on Oikawa’s toast.

“I don’t know what you’re saying, but you sound smug about it, so I don’t care.”

Oikawa swallows. “Now who’s domestic,” he repeats, raising his eyebrows.

Iwaizumi thinks about how he must look, now- making breakfast for a pajama-clad Oikawa- and silently agrees that this entire situation is a little domestic. He hands over Oikawa’s toast.

“Whatever,” he says. “The weather’s amazing today, so go get in your trunks after this. Where’s the sunscreen and bugspray?”

Oikawa points to a duffel bag by the fireplace, and digs happily into his breakfast. Iwaizumi applies the necessary sprays and finishes his own food, wondering if the water would be warm by now, if there are fish in the lake, the like.

They set out downstairs through the patio once they plates are put in the sink. Oikawa trails behind Iwaizumi as he uses a broom to smash away the cobwebs, shuddering whenever a spider turns out to be alive still.

“You aren’t scared of bugs,” Iwaizumi says, more of a question than a statement.

“No, but there are a lot, and they’re spiders, and a little gross.” Oikawa adjusts his open shirt. “There’s a difference between getting a few beetles or a frog in a jar, and a ton of spiders, some of which may be venomous.”

Iwaizumi clicks his tongue. “Scaredy- cat.”

Oikawa scowls, but they’ve reached the bottom of the steps by now. He chooses to stick his tongue out at Iwaizumi before running through the clearing, opening the gate, and starting to trek through the patch of trees himself.

“Hold it!” Iwaizumi calls, carrying his towel and bag of other necessities. The clearing is yielding grass, but beyond the gate the path is packed dirt. Bushes flank the path, and on closer inspection, they turn out to be blueberry. A few steps down the trail becomes gravel, before finally opening up back into moss and dirt into the dock area.

He sets his towel down on the dock; Oikawa is already squatting by water, staring at something, tapping his knee with his finger. For a second time, Iwaizumi feels like he’s looking at a photograph.

“Pretty, huh?” says Iwaizumi as he walks up behind Oikawa. He realizes Oikawa is staring at a little school of minnows, silver against the brown-green of the lakebed.

“The fish?”

“The view, idiot.”

Oikawa snickers and turns to Iwaizumi, puts a finger to his cheek. “I know I’m nice to look at, but you’re being awfully forward-”

He finishes his sentence after an interlude of a kick and a dramatic splash.  “Oh, fuck you,” Oikawa sputters once he emerges, wiping away soaked hair from his eyes. He’s clearly trying to look murderous, but failing through teeth chattering. “It’s cold as shit.”

 Iwaizumi stands on the dock, laughing openly. “This makes up for the last twenty times you’ve ditched me for a date.”

Oikawa clumsily pulls himself back up on the dock, pouting. “It is not my fault that you’re terrible at talking to girls.” The water sluices off his body in torrents. He peels off his waterlogged shirt and sets it down, his bedhead hair plastered down against his skull. “Also, I bruised my knee, so screw you.”

Iwaizumi eyes Oikawa’s legs, which are toned, and long, and also mottled with a bruises in various stages of healing, courtesy of extensive practices and tumbling. “Like you can prove that.”

“I’ve seen you try talking to Kaori-san, and that was a bit of a disaster last time I checked-”

Iwaizumi feels his neck get red. “I was talking about the bruises.” He hadn’t even known Oikawa had seen the Kaori debacle. He knows it should be near impossible to be humiliated when around Oikawa- and yet.  

“Oh,” goes Oikawa, closing his mouth. “Ah…”

And now even Oikawa is awkward, yet again. Iwaizumi feels that uneasiness that urges him to just ask, just ask what’s wrong, it’s not that hard-

“Well, they should be more or less gone by the time we leave, so…” Oikawa finishes, rubbing his shin and getting up. He casually brushes a hand over his chest, over the mostly healed scar, and Iwaizumi averts his eyes, unsure if he’s allowed to look, but calm otherwise, knowing that to act disquieted would make the situation unnecessarily worse.

“Let’s swim?” Oikawa asks eventually, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah.”

They both drop themselves in slowly and swim to the floating dock. For the next few hours they push each other off of it, they float, they race, they sun. By the time they’re done, it’s afternoon, and it’s merely for want of food.

“I’ll make udon,” Oikawa insists as he stretches, the muscles of his abdomen clear and dappled in drops.

“What?” says Iwaizumi.

Oikawa gives him a strange look while drying himself off, the towel now obstructing the view of his navel. “Udon.”

“Good idea,” Iwaizumi agrees.

**

They cook and eat while still damp and dressed in their swimtrunks, which isn’t so bad, as the cabin is warm. He feels cool and sore, smells a little like earth. He likes it.

After eating, they take showers in their separate bathrooms, and Iwaizumi warms under the heat of the water (even if the pressure is shit). He lingers longer than he needs to, thinking of how Oikawa must have practiced a lot to get those abs. Not that he doesn’t have abs, too, but Oikawa’s always been a little slender next to him.

When he comes out, it’s about four, and Oikawa’s lazing in the sunroom, wearing shorts and a loose tank top.  He’s also wearing sunglasses, Iwaizumi realizes when he comes up beside him. He looks at Oikawa’s precious, pompous face, and wants to laugh. Instead, he violently pushes the glasses up his nose.

“Ah!” yelps Oikawa, scrambling to keep the glasses on his face. “Rude! Jealous! Iwa-chan is a jealous asshole!”

“Stop sunning like a millionaire’s trophy wife on vacation.”

Oikawa scowls. “I’m not. I’m relaxing like a normal person.”

He looks considering, and then tips his glasses down so that he can look at Iwaizumi. “If I’m the wife, are you the husband?” he jokes, smiling. “Sounds like someone’s a little obsessed with marrying me.”

“If I were your husband,” Iwaizumi says, “I’d die from the amount of attention you need.”

“In bed,” Oikawa snickers.

“Right,” says Iwaizumi, rolling his eyes. “I’m going to read a book now, and pretend you didn’t say that.”

By the time the sun’s gone down and they have dinner- leftovers from lunch- Oikawa looks outside and decides that they should stargaze. Iwaizumi feels relief at the thought that Oikawa is getting a chance to relax and get back into the things he liked before volleyball, like space.  He knows he should feel weird for worrying in the worst place, but it was just how he was with Oikawa. Worried.

“I’m setting the sleeping bags outside,” Oikawa hollers from the porch as Iwaizumi goes back to his room. “Just get into your pajamas!”

“The shit I put up with for you,” Iwaizumi grunts when he does finally get outside, worming into the bag. It’s cool outside, but fine inside the sleeping bag. The air smells smoky (he figures it’s because of his head’s proximity to a grille), but through it he gets whiffs of pine.

“You like stargazing too,” Oikawa says, petulant. Iwaizumi turns to watch him and finds that their faces are all too close, but Oikawa seems to not mind, or notice. He’s steadfastly staring up at the dark sky, his nose straight, the rest of his features muted and nondescript because of the lack of lighting. Iwaizumi shudders at a chill that overcomes him momentarily and turns to look up, letting his eyes adjust to the view.

Well, Oikawa is not wrong that tonight is a good night for stargazing, though Iwaizumi suspects many of the ideal conditions simply consist of being rurally based. The sight of so many stars is overwhelming, difficult to put to words. Every time his gaze shifts, there seems to be more, multiplying across the field of blue-black. Across the middle is a streak, a navy wash lighter than the rest of the sky.

“The Milky Way,” Oikawa murmurs, straight into his ear before biting the edge of it.

“Augh!” goes Iwaizumi, flinching hard, his face heating as he hears Oikawa cackle. “Fuck, you useless piece of shit!”

“You just looked so-”Oikawa takes a break here to inhale, “-concentrated and serious, I just- like, wow, all five of your brain cells were being used at once-”

Iwaizumi pops his arms out of the sleeping bag and tries his best to strangle Oikawa.

“No!” Oikawa shrieks. “No, violence is not the answer! This is why we can’t have nice things, Iwa-chan!”

“Violence is a question, and with you the answer’s always yes,” says Iwaizumi, having successfully trapped Oikawa under his weight. “Do your shitty stargazing in quiet or I’ll throw you down the stairs into all those gross poisonous spiders.”

Oikawa hums and surprisingly does settle down fine, even with Iwaizumi lying half across him. Iwaizumi’s ears burn, especially where Oikawa had bit it. He’d felt Oikawa bite him in the past, but not somewhere so… delicate, and not so quietly, either. He feels like he got goosebumps, which would be a peculiar thing to get.

He turns to look back up at the sky too, and he realizes he can’t see the moon- really can’t see it, no matter how much he twists, and only is calmed by Oikawa’s reassurance that tonight is a new moon. He stills a little, remembering that someone once told him that concentrating too much on one star makes the others seem to disappear. He does this trick six or seven times until feels drowsy, the latent exhaustion that comes with swimming all day slipping over him.

Oikawa shifts to get him to slide off gently to the side, and then sidles up next to him. “Iwa-chan.”

“Hmmgh?”

“Iwa-chan, let’s tell scary stories.”

“Too tired.”

“Then I’ll tell one.” He gently slaps Iwaizumi’s face. “Stay awake, okay?”

“Don’t slap me.”

“You’ve done worse to me.”

“You deserve it.”

Oikawa mopes, jutting out his lower lip. Iwaizumi stares at it sleepily.

“Whatever. Here’s a story. But guess what?”

Iwaizumi lets out a sound somewhere between questioning and suicidal.

“It happened to my friend.”

“You don’t have any friends.”

“Then what are we?”

“Married couple that hates each other,” Iwaizumi says muzzily. “I thought we went over this already.”

Oikawa smiles, delighted. “You’re lively when you’re tired.”

“Oxymoron.”

Oikawa waves this away with the arm he’s not leaning on. “Well, whatever. It happened to my friend when he was younger. A lot younger.”

“Mm.” Iwaizumi lets his eyes close, listening to the sound of himself breathing deeply, feels the hard wood of the deck from underneath the pillowy sleeping bag.

“So… he was in the car with his family, it’s night, they’re driving back from a party they went to… the road’s pretty empty, where they live is a bit secluded, near the forest, so there are a lot of forest roads. It’s very dark. My friend’s like, eleven at this time, his dad’s driving, his mom’s there, his sister’s there.”

The sound of Oikawa talking is peaceful, for the first time. Iwaizumi nods a bit to let him know he’s still listening.

“They’re used to the dark roads, really curvy, but as they’re going- they’re going slow because it’s dark- they see a woman on the side of the road. Oh, don’t snort.”

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes, although they’re still closed. “You never pick up ladies from the side of the road. Awful idea.”

“I’ve done it before!” Oikawa says, affronted. “Do you want them to die?!”

“You pick up women on the side of the road?” Iwaizumi asks. “The fuck? Really? Do you want to die?”

“My mom’s always with me when I do so it’s safe and not weird,” Oikawa says defensively.  “Whatever! It doesn’t matter! Listen to the story!”

“They see a lady.”

“Yes. They see a lady on the side of the road, she has long hair and she’s walking away from them, but my friend’s dad stops because he’s- ahem- nice and cares about women being safe. She looks at them and she’s gorgeous, really gorgeous.”

Iwaizumi can see it. A tall girl, long straight black hair, an indulgent smile, small lips. She’s wearing white.

“She smiles a little, and comes closer, and the mom rolls down the side window. The lady asks if she can hitch a ride. The father says of course, come in, where do you live? She gets in the car, and the only seat open is the one next to my friend. She says she lives on the far side of their town, and that actually she was coming back from a party too.”

Oikawa pauses. “Anyways, the dad laughs and asks her if she’d been partying too much, and she says something like, no, she’s actually very safe about that sort of thing, it’s just that her designated driver left with another girl and so she got some other guy to get her home, but he dropped her on the side of the road. Awful thing to do. The dad and mom are just appalled thinking about it.”

Iwaizumi grunts.

“Anyways, they’re silent for a while, the dad tries to find where her house is- it’s near the older part of the town, more forest. And my friend- he told me this- the lady was so cold, he touched her on accident and it was like ice. Her skin was super pale and he could tell where her veins were on the back of her hand. Well, the hand closest to him. She’s hiding the other hand, like she’s tucking it into her side. So he starts feeling weird, worried she has a gun. She doesn’t look at him except once, and when she does she smiles a bit and asks how old he is, so he tells her. She smiles- he said it was a pretty smile but it freaked him out, her eyes were really light and didn’t look like color contact lenses- and says that’s how old her brother is.”

“They finally are getting close to where the house should be, and it’s dark as ever. And the sister starts crying a bit. She’s three. Her parents think she’s throwing a tantrum because it’s late but she’s shaking all over, screaming and wailing… the woman looks upset by this and says that maybe it’d be better if she were let out here, it’s a short walk to her house. The dad says no, he’d rather take her home, but he can already tell it’s super dark and the roads are small and winding and complicated so he gets worried that if he does drive all the way to her house it’ll be hard to find his way out.”

Oikawa’s voice is low, nearly a whisper, and ominous. “He eventually decides it’s fine and she gets out of the car, thanks them for the ride and walks into the forest, where they assume her house should be. But as she’s walking away they see this patch of red on her dress, near the middle of her back, and they only see if for half a second but it freaks them out. The mom says it’s probably a period stain, but it was too high up for it. They get home safe about thirty minutes later, and the next day the dad feels like he needs to check up on the house again to make sure she got home safe.”

“My friend was just sitting around so he takes him too, and it’s much lighter so he isn’t worried about getting lost. He drives there and in the daytime he can see the roads, he drives to where the house is supposed to be and it’s this old house, taking a lot of wear and tear. He gets out of the car, my friend does too, and they ring the doorbell. An old woman- not their woman- opens the door, but she looks a lot like the other woman. They think she’s her mother. She looks kind of senile. They tell her they found a woman by the side of the road last night, she was wearing a white dress, had dark hair. And they tried to return her here but it was hard to find the house, is this the house? And is she okay?”

Iwaizumi squirms in place, trying to get comfy. “The mom gets pale in the face, looks like she’s going to get angry. She says, she does have a daughter, but she died ten years ago.” A long pause, savored.  “She’d been killed by this man, stabbed in her back and cut up into pieces. The police could only find her right hand. The rest of her was missing, though it was suspected to be rape and murder case. She had just been trying to get home. Yesterday was the day she was killed.”

Iwaizumi tries to say, “I saw that coming,” or, “That’s not even scary, no one died,” but isn’t able to because he is frightened out of his wits. It was scarier because it apparently happened to Oikawa’s friend, who was either not real or very fucked in the head and good at lying, but just the ephemeral thought that it could be real freezes him in place.

“So, you scared?” Oikawa asks. Iwaizumi finally opens his eyes and sees that Oikawa appears smug in the barely-there light, and yet-

“You’re scared too,” he says blankly.

“Am not!”

“Are too. You scared yourself with your own story.”

“Not as scared as you,” Oikawa concedes.

Iwaizumi fixates his glare into the corner of the cabin. It’s completely dark inside, because they had made the stupid, stupid decision to shut off all the lights so that they could see the stars better. “I feel like she’s going to come floating out of the side of the wall and kill us, and no one will know.”

Oikawa squawks, jumping closer to Iwaizumi. “Why would she kill us? We didn’t do anything to her!”

“She hates all men now.”

“No! That’s not fair! I’m gorgeous like her too, and I have people who want to murder me, so we have a lot in common!” He laughs, maniacally. “She’d never kill me! I’m like, her best friend!”

“We should go inside,” Iwaizumi says, trying to keep his voice and pulse even.

From below, the lights turn on.

“What the fuck,” whispers Iwaizumi.

Oikawa has his arms wrapped around Iwaizumi, tight as a vice. His cheek is pressed against Iwaizumi’s. “The downstairs deck lights, they’re motion activated,” he eventually recalls, whispering back.

“Did you hear anything move?”

“No. But it was. Probably a squirrel. Or something.” The unspoken or her hangs heavy in the air between them.

“Please we should go inside now,” Oikawa says quickly.

“Yes.”

Slowly, they get up, trying not to make any noise. Iwaizumi had a thumb-wrestling match with the door, trying to get it to open, and it eventually does after he shakes it violently. The two of them fall in, but Oikawa has enough sense to shut the door with his foot.

“We’re safe!” he whoops.

“Not necessarily,” says Iwaizumi, getting up to lock the door, switch on a light. “She’s a fucking ghost. She can come through walls, probably.”

They stare at each other. Oikawa looks diffident for what he’s about to say. “Maybe you should sleep in my room tonight?” He sticks out his lower lip again, like before. “Please?”

“Yeah,” he says, trying to make it sound like it’s a great obligation. It comes out like a plea. “Let’s go to sleep right now and stop thinking about this.”

Oikawa’s bed is a king after all, so getting in isn’t so awkward. In fact, it feels familiar and comforting to know that another person is just an arm’s span away. The room smells like Oikawa’s cologne and the potpourri scattered across the room.

“Did you really have that friend? The one that met her?” Iwaizumi asks.

“Yes,” says Oikawa, “But I’m dead certain he was lying.” Nonetheless, he inches closer to Iwaizumi until he’s pretty much nuzzling Iwaizumi’s chest, his nose nudging Iwaizumi’s sternum, his light breathing close enough to hear. Iwaizumi has not the heart to tell him to shove off (and thinks, privately, that it is more comforting this way) and falls asleep quickly after, thinking of black hair and ear bites.

***

He wakes up the next day with Oikawa nestled into the crease of his arm, warm and soft. He stares at him for a few seconds- it’s rare that he wakes up before him when they sleep together- and then wiggles his way out, cracking his neck and looking outside. Another beautiful day. The sun spills in through the windows, plays on Oikawa’s back, which is bare for some reason.

With the fear of last night forcibly tucked away as an embarrassing memory, Iwaizumi nudges Oikawa awake. “Wake up, Asskawa. Morning.”

Oikawa frowns with his eyes closed, somnolent, and reaches out his arms. “Come back. You’re warm.”

“Breakfast,” insists Iwaizumi, feeling very warm indeed. “How about breakfast first.”

They have peach wedges and bacon and yogurt, looking at the branches sway outside.

“I’m thinking we should make pie,” says Oikawa, through cleaning the crevices of his teeth with his pinky nail (ew). “The bushes outside are practically drooping with blueberries.”

“You know how to make pie?”

“Well, most of it. We might need to buy the crust.”

They set out a bit later in their shorts and sandals and Tupperware. Oikawa had been right; the bushes are fit to burst. Oikawa takes the left side of the path, while Iwaizumi traverses into the right portion, plucking plump blueberries and dropping them into his box. It’s wonderfully quiet for a bit, both of them picking faithfully. From Iwaizumi’s left, he can hear the slight sloshing of the lake touching the shore. The air smells clean and moist and loamy.

“So,” says Oikawa, his box half-full, “Erm, if it’s too personal, then don’t worry about it, but-”

Iwaizumi stares at him, trying to assess if this is the same Oikawa who told everyone about his fish-patterned underwear in junior high. Too personal was a phrase not usually in Oikawa’s vocabulary.

“But I was wondering about Kaori.”

Oh. Well that had been uncomfortable. “Actually,” says Iwaizumi, “I was wondering what you heard about it. And how.”

Oikawa smiles hesitantly, a flicker of incongruous resentment passing over him like a cloud in an otherwise clear sky. “Hanamaki told me, mostly. But I also saw her and you… talking. Afterschool, that day we practiced receives.”

“And what did you hear?” asks Iwaizumi, making polite eye contact with an especially fat purple blueberry.

“I’d rather just hear it from you, first.”

Iwaizumi picks the blueberry. “She said no, because she thought you were interested.”

“What?!” says Oikawa, boggled. Iwaizumi is not fooled. “Wait, what? Why?”

Iwaizumi shrugs, ignoring the throb in his face that meant he is blushing. “You tell me.”

The silence stretches between them, looming and then-

“I didn’t mean to,” Oikawa says, rushing. “It’s just that-we had a match that week, and I didn’t want you to get distracted, so I told her that if you went on a date with her, it’d ruin the game, so, she shouldn’t do it.”

Iwaizumi scoffs. “And that’s all you said?”

A silence. The birds are chirping. “Well, Iwa-chan, I didn’t want her to get jilted, you know? So I told her if she really wanted a date, she could ask me-”

“Enough,” says Iwaizumi.

Oikawa’s voice falters, and his face, surprisingly, assumes genuine contrition. “I’m sorry. I thought it was best for the game, and we never actually went out. I had just said it to get her off of you.”

Iwaizumi takes this all in while surveying the prickly underbrush by his feet. That could be poison ivy, he thinks. “Okay,” he says.

“I knew you liked her, but I didn’t… I really didn’t do anything. You have to believe me.”

Iwaizumi isn’t so staggered by Oikawa’s confession, because he has known for a while that Oikawa, beyond it all, is a rather dreadful person. He has known it growing up next to him, and he stuck around anyhow. He isn’t sure if he believes Oikawa, about not doing anything, but he’s already forgiven him regardless. That’s what happens when get attached to people. You excuse their awfulness. Sometimes.

“Shittykawa,” he says, resigned. “It’s fine. It’s behind us, alright?”

Oikawa nods intently. “I know. It’s just that if you thought…” he trails off, looking distraught, runs a hand through his again ungelled hair (it makes him look rumpled and adorably young). “That I’d purposely hurt you, I’d hate that. I know I’m an awful person.” He barks a short laugh. “But I wouldn’t do that to you, you know? It’s different with you.”

Iwaizumi wants to ask how it’s different. “Right,” he agrees, instead. His voice is slightly hoarse. When he looks up, he sees Oikawa smiling at him, open. The sunlight streaming through the trees filters green and yellow splotches all over him, illuminating little patches of his face- the light stubble on his chin, the corner of his cheekbone, the glint in his eye.

It makes him look nothing like what he claims to be. A bad person. He looks like a teenager. Like a friend.

“Why do you do that,” says Iwaizumi, frowning.

Oikawa makes a face of confusion. “Huh?”

“Look like a stupid model all the time,” says Iwaizumi, waving his arm tiredly towards all of Oikawa. “It’s revolting.”

Oikawa smiles wider, but looks vaguely self-conscious. “Haha,” he laughs gracelessly, ducking his face into his shoulder. “Superior genes,” he adds with a semblance of confidence, even though the back of his neck is pink.

“You’re embarrassed?” asks Iwaizumi, stunned. “After all the bragging you do?”

“I’m not embarrassed, I’m just not used to you saying anything!” he says, trying to seem vexed. “Also, I look like shit right now, so I feel like you’re teasing.”

“I’m not,” says Iwaizumi. “I don’t say anything because your ego is big enough. And you look fine. What are you even talking about?”

This flusters Oikawa even more. “Alright!” he squeaks. “Well, looks like my bin is full-” –it isn’t- “So I’m going to go inside and get the pie crust from the store now!”

“Okay,” Iwaizumi says slowly. “Uh, drive safe.”

Oikawa all but sprints away, stumbling over the few steps up to the porch. He pauses, and turns around at the top. “Iwaizumi!” he shouts.

“What?” Iwaizumi shouts back.

“You’re good looking too!”

“…Thanks,” Iwaizumi eventually forces out, vaguely endeared and confused at once.

Oikawa nods from the distance and then disappears into the house. Iwaizumi spends the next hour picking to make up for Oikawa’s abandonment, enjoying the mild breeze, the sour-sweet taste of blueberries, and wondering what the fuck is wrong with Oikawa now.

***

Hours later, when he takes the pie out of the oven, Oikawa appears to have calmed down some, though he’s jumpier than usual.

“Shit, this is really good,” Iwaizumi says after he downs the first bite. Oikawa nods sagely, cutting into the pie for himself.

“So,” Iwaizumi says, eyeing Oikawa take his own first bite, “Are you really that insecure about how you look?”

Oikawa chokes, and then coughs, eyes watering. When the coughing subsides, he’s just as breathless as before. “No. I’ve never…”

Iwaizumi clucks his tongue. “You know you don’t need to hide that sort of stuff from me. I’m pretty sure you can’t hide a lot of stuff. I know you’re insecure over Kageyama, and captaincy, but you’ve always known your face… that you look good. I’m just curious.” He punctuates the sentence with another bite, the flaky crust melting into his mouth, the filling just this side of burning and sweet.

“I know I look good,” says Oikawa. “I mean, obviously. Even if I couldn’t look into a mirror, I’d know.”

“Everyone knows, you pretentious dumbass,” says Iwaizumi, rolling his eyes.

Oikawa smiles tightly. “Right. I mean, I have my own fanclub over how good I look. So there’s that.”

“That’s not gone to your head or anything,” Iwaizumi says dryly. Oikawa laughs.

“It’s just that this week I decided not to try all that much,” Oikawa admits. “And I’ve also never heard talk about how I look. So.”

“You seriously look good either way,” says Iwaizumi sincerely. “I think you’re good-looking.” Oh. That sounded like a come-on. “Everyone thinks you’re good-looking,” he nervously adds.

Oikawa’s gaze is scrutinizing, before he breaks out in a smile. “Iwa-chan thinks I’m hot!” he announces proudly.

“I did not say that,” growls Iwaizumi.

“Iwa-chan thinks I’m sexy.”

“I think it’s sexy when you’re not a piece of shit. Which is never.”

Oikawa guffaws at this and goes back to eating his pie, and Iwaizumi chooses not to think about how Oikawa’s gusto is usually a cover-up for honest chagrin.

***

They sleep in the same bed again that night, because neither of them says anything against it and Iwaizumi shamefully does feel phantom anxiety over the ghost woman. Not that he’d admit to that when the sun is out.

The next morning they wake the same way, and Iwaizumi lingers in the comfort of another body pressed against his longer than he did before. Oikawa stirs on his own, digging the crown of his head into Iwaizumi’s chin, his mouth yawning against Iwaizumi’s collarbones. Iwaizumi feels a flash of vindictiveness. 

“Fishing,” decides Oikawa as he brushes his teeth. “Today we’ll do fishing.”

It’s hot out, Iwaizumi realizes when they’re sitting in the still motorboat, life-vests on. Especially when he can’t douse himself in the cool, glimmering water right by his side.

“Shit,” says Oikawa under his breath. “I forgot to put on sunscreen.”

And it’s beginning to show. His shoulders are bright pink, and a small patch from one cheekbone to another are similarly shiny-pink. On closer inspection, Iwaizumi can even see a few freckles begin to accumulate on his chin and cheeks.

Oikawa frowns, scrunching his nose. “I hate this. It’s taking too long. Why won’t the fish bite?”

“Impatient,” chides Iwaizumi. He looks at the horizon, where more trees stand. “Doesn’t help that it’s hot as shit.”

Oikawa mopes some more, steadily hunching over further and further in his seat. He looks positively disgruntled, the redness of his shoulders beginning to travel down his back.

“So,” says Oikawa, glaring at the emerald water. “Waseda.”

“…Yes,” replies Iwaizumi. He taps his foot. “What about it?”

Oikawa turns away, shrugs as if his shoulders hurt. “Why do you want to go there?”

“Not everyone can get into UT,” says Iwaizumi, squinting at him. “If that’s what this is about.”

Oikawa’s posture tightens. “Oh, I know that, Iwa-chan,” he says lightly. “I wasn’t expecting you to get in, obviously! What a stupid idea.”

Iwaizumi stares at the back of his head, openly scowling. “What?”

Oikawa shrugs again, turns away some more. “Nothing. I don’t care. Why would I care?”

“Stop getting like this!” Iwaizumi says irately, frustrated that even this get-away cannot be void of arguments. “Just tell me what’s wrong, for fuck’s sake.”

Oikawa turns back to him, beaming in the way that makes Iwaizumi nauseous. “You’re so emotional, Iwa-chan, calm down.”

“Stop acting like- that. To me.” Iwaizumi feels a burn at the base of his stomach. “You know I’m not stupid, I know you’ve been upset for the last month. Just tell me what’s wrong.”

Oikawa inhales and exhales slowly, looking at where his little orange ball floats over the water.

“You said it was different between us,” says Iwaizumi.

Oikawa’s smile drops. “You didn’t even try to get in.”

“I knew I couldn’t.”

“And so you left me?!”

Even Oikawa looks shocked that the words left his mouth. “Erm,” he says, rattled. “Wait.”

In his own way, Iwaizumi knew this had been the underlying worry. But it’s good to hear for sure. He itches his head, watches Oikawa try to gather himself.

“University is about making new friends,” he tells Oikawa, slowly. “I’m not leaving you. I probably won’t ever leave you, you’ve been my best friend since I was six. You’re popular, you’ll make friends without me. We’ll still be friends.”

“But what if we aren’t,” says Oikawa, distressed. “What if you make better friends? What if you-” he cuts himself off, seemingly too overwhelmed to voice his fear.

“I won’t. I don’t know how to get this into your head, but I won’t. You’re my best friend.”

Oikawa nods, not making eye contact. The crease in his brow screams that he’s still worried over something, but this is as far as Iwaizumi can help for now.

“Iwaizumi,” says Oikawa, turning to look him in the eye. His bangs are getting a bit too long, almost falling into his face. “I need to tell you-”

“Huh?” is all Iwaizumi is able to get out, before his fishing rod is almost ripped from his hands. Just ten feet from them, something is violently thrashing in the water, twisting and turning, spraying water into the air.

“A fish!” he yelps.

“A fish?!” bemoans Oikawa.

By the time they manage to reel it in and go back to shore, Iwaizumi feels like the moment has passed. If it’s important to Oikawa, he’ll bring it up. Eventually.

He spends a while gutting the bass, during which Oikawa makes disagreeable faces and sounds of disgust. He is sorely tempted to throw the fish head at him, but restrains himself after Oikawa walks away.

“Put on a shirt,” he says wryly, watching Oikawa flex and generally admire himself in the reflection of the mirror. The house is just the right temperature all the time, humid and warm enough to encourage semi-nudity. “You’re embarrassing to watch.”

Oikawa winks at him, twists to watch his own spine. “Do you want me to be… entertaining, instead?”

“You made it worse,” says Iwaizumi, washing his hands of the fish goop.

Oikawa considers his triceps. “What are you into, anyways?” he asks casually.

“What,” says Iwaizumi.

“Not like, kinks or anything!” reassures Oikawa, coloring. “I just mean, in general. Things you like.”

“As in…?”

“Sexually, sure, but, romance too.” Oikawa itches his head casually. “If you want.”

The conversation had taken a turn for bizarre from the moment Oikawa looked ruffled. What were they talking about?

“I don’t really know,” says Iwaizumi, leaning against the counter. “Isn’t this a weird thing to talk about?”

Oikawa rolls his eyes, shifts his weight on one leg. “Now you’re being unreasonable. Guys talk about the porn they watch all the time.”

Iwaizumi pauses, suddenly hit by the image of Oikawa looking at porn, which was something that had never traversed his mind’s eye. “What do you like, then?”

Oikawa stills, and very pointedly leans against the wall. “Iwa-chan would be interested to know the details of my sex life, but I must give fair warning that there are things that cannot be unheard. Things that, if the cause of a sexual, kinky awakening, I cannot legally account for.”

“Have you had sex? Before?” asks Iwaizumi before he can stop himself, bypassing all the glamour. “You always talk about it like you have, but-”

“I have,” says Oikawa, cutting him off. He tips himself back up, and smiles ruefully. “Though probably less than I make it out to be.”

They leave it at that, but Iwaizumi tries to remember all the times Oikawa has spoken suggestively of his dates. If he were an outsider, he probably would assume that Oikawa had a flourishing sex life. But here, in the privacy of just two of them, Oikawa’s stilted demeanor gave away what he had claimed. Probably less than I make it out to be.

Iwaizumi wanders off to the entertainment room, sitting down on the couch to read the lone book he brought along on this trip. It’s going fine, for a while, until Oikawa comes and sits next to him too, reading over his shoulder, his hair tickling Iwaizumi’s neck. Iwaizumi tries to concentrate, but the letters become tally marks on the paper.  What is Oikawa trying to prove this time? To whom?

“Hey,” says Iwaizumi. “Look. It’s hard to read when you’re touching me.”

“What do you mean?”

Why are you touching me when no one’s around? “You’re not usually so touchy with me. When it’s just us.”

“Oh,” says Oikawa, leaning back, viewing him at length. His voice is cautious. “Do you not like it?”

“No, I’m fine with it. I’m just-”

“So you like it?”

Iwaizumi doesn’t know why he’s blushing, but he is. He tries not to squirm under Oikawa’s gaze. “I said it’s fine. You’re just not usually like this. Are you trying to get me to do something?”

Oikawa’s face is guarded. “No,” he mutters sullenly. “I do it because I like it. If you hate it just tell me.”

Iwaizumi grunts. “I don’t hate it.”

“Do you like it?”

Iwaizumi scowls. “Shut up. I already said how I feel about it.”

Oikawa’s face begins to fall before Iwaizumi latches an arm around his neck, bringing him closer in a side-hug of sorts. He can feel Oikawa’s body pressing into his side at every point. “I told you, it’s fine,” he says.

“You do like it!” announces Oikawa with glee. He spends a few moments with his face buried into Iwaizumi’s chest. “So is this a headlock, or are we cuddling?”

***

After that, Oikawa is more affectionate, which Iwaizumi doesn’t know what to say to, so he doesn’t. He finds himself reciprocating, more often than not- not so forwardly, like Oikawa, but willing to pet Oikawa’s hair when he settles in his lap, willing to lean against him when they watch TV. He isn’t used to this degree of touchiness, but he realizes he perhaps does like it. It feels comfortable, and makes him giddy, at times.

It had been several years since Oikawa had seemed fully himself, really, around Iwaizumi, but he seemed to have been granted a rare opportunity to see this side of Oikawa, blown open, for days on end. Here he was, snorting milk through his nose during dinner, here he was, laughing at an old cartoon. It’s an uncanny experience, for Iwaizumi, who stares at Oikawa and mistakes him for his twelve year old self, before the smugness set in. Not that that wasn’t still there, but it wasn’t a cover for something festering, at least.

“You think you’re so cute,” says Iwaizumi, trailing behind him up a hill, watching him sing loudly.

Oikawa turns around, smiles widely. “I think that you think I’m cute,” he says.

“You’re repulsive,” states Iwaizumi sternly.

Oikawa doesn’t seem to care, going back to singing- terribly, absolutely terribly- and kicking stones along their path. Iwaizumi feels the sweat gathering at this brow, the strain in his shoulders that tells him he’s getting a workout, and smiles to himself. It feels like last practice- let alone last match- was too long ago.

 Speaking of. “So, have you been in contact with Sawamura-san?”

Oikawa’s shoulders fall. “You are harshing my vibes, Iwa-chan. That is generally considered rude.”

“Oikawa.”

Oikawa lets out a long groan. “For your information, I have contacted Captain-chan, and him and stupid Refreshing-kun agreed. So yes, we’ll still be having joint practices with them.” Iwaizumi can’t see his face, but he’s sure Oikawa’s biting his lip. “By we I mean Aoba Jousai and Karasuno. Not we, we.”

They reach the peak of the hill with few words exchanged between them. Spread out before them is more and more forest, with the lake spanning much of the view further on.

“You were a good captain,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa’s fingers clench the fence at the edge of their viewpoint. “Right.”

“I mean it.”

Oikawa shakes his head, staring at the dirt below them. “I know. It’s just frustrating, right? That my best wasn’t good enough.”

“You know that it isn’t just on you,” says Iwaizumi, frowning. “You’re still one of the top five setters in Japan.”

Oikawa laughs without much mirth. “I know. I know. I sound like a broken record, don’t I? Oh no, Tobio-chan’s better than me. Oh no, Shiratorizawa’s better than me. I can only ever talk about who’s better than me…” He digs his foot into the ground, dirtying his shoe. “I think it’s because I was told I was perfect, and then I wasn’t. And then I thought, if I’m not perfect, I’m not me.”

“Oikawa,” starts Iwaizumi. He stops at the hysterical grin on his face.

“But you know I’m not perfect, right? You know I’m probably the opposite of perfect.” He lets out a pained laugh. “I can’t stop thinking of how it hurts, now that we’ve lost, except before, when we were winners, I’d make sure that the losers knew it. I wanted to hurt them, to make sure they hurted. And now it’s karma!”

Well, this is true. Iwaizumi knows this. Oikawa likes to hurt people, and step on them. Iwaizumi hasn’t been sure how to feel about this for a long time.

“Hey,” says Iwaizumi. “Fucking stop.” He holds the back of Oikawa’s shirt, pulls him towards him. “You’re not perfect. No one’s perfect. Get that out of your head.”

“I don’t even know if I feel guilty,” adds Oikawa, facing Iwaizumi but not really looking at him. “Isn’t that fucked?”

Iwaizumi screws up his face in irritation. “Idiot. I know that. You think I don’t know that?”

“Huh?”

“I know you aren’t…” He purses his lips. “The best person. But I’m still your friend, okay? Stop worrying that I’m going to leave you, that I’m going to throw you away. I know you’re mean. You think I haven’t seen you? How you talk?” He shakes Oikawa by the arms. “You think you haven’t hurt me?”

“Oh,” says Oikawa, emptily. “Well, then.”

Iwaizumi watches him, and it’s a bit like watching a pathetic animal try to regain its bearings. He is struck by anger, but with Oikawa, it’s always accompanied by some sort of- well, pity. He wonders if he’s really a grumpy person, like everyone says, or if Oikawa’s such a burden that all his goodwill gets spent on handling him.

“I don’t know,” he says, delicately, “Why you are the way you are. Because I’m not you, and I don’t know what the hell you’ve gone through. But I know that I’m still your friend. Even when you ditch me for dates, even when you publically ridicule me, even when you flirt with the girls I like, even when you tell everyone that I have fish-patterned underwear.”

Oikawa, who has teared up very slightly, lets out a tiny, coughed giggle. Iwaizumi continues. “Because I know half the time you don’t even know how fucked you are, and I know that you’re not a complete piece of shit. You know how to be nice, when you want to be. I know you’re insecure, and I can’t always blame you for that.”

Iwaizumi purses his lips again, watches Oikawa’s red face, red eyes. Oikawa crying is a trial of everyday life, and at the best of times, it is insufferable and a pain. “And please. No guilt? You have to stop trying to lie to me. You’re literally crying over it, idiot.” He reaches up, wipes Oikawa’s eyes with his arm. “I know you, you asshole. Calm down.”

“I’m only guilty about you,” Oikawa confesses. His voice is shit.

Iwaizumi grimaces. “I know. But that’s the part that counts for now, anyways.”

***

“So how do you think Kindaichi and Kunimi will shape up?” asks Oikawa, licking the remains of steak juice from his fingers at dinner. “I think there’s a lot of potential. Plus, they hate Tobio-chan. That counts for something.”

Iwaizumi furrows his brow. “I’d rather not have our team legacy be hating Kageyama. I like Kageyama.”

“Oh, right, you always had that soft spot for Tobio-chan.” Oikawa makes a face as if he’s sucked on a lemon. “Ew. Why?”

“He was our kouhai for a year, and he’s not an awful person, you know. He’s just. Awkward, and socially inept.”

Oikawa’s face scrunches up more. “Birds of a feather.  He had a crush on you, you know,” he says bitterly.

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. “You have a whole lot of conspiracy theories in your head. Maybe worry about that instead of volleyball.”

“Kageyama liked you,” says Oikawa, insistently, “And aliens are real, and they are among us!”

Iwaizumi gives him a look, takes the last bite of his steak. “You’re wonderfully sure of yourself.”

“Just because you don’t realize when a weird kid is hitting on you doesn’t mean I can’t,” maintains Oikawa, going back to Kageyama. “You don’t even know what flirting is.”

Iwaizumi watches Oikawa balance a spoon on his nose with barely veiled contempt. “Oh, right, I’m nothing next to you, you smooth bastard, you.”

“I can’t help it,” says Oikawa wisely, spoon still on his nose. “I was born this smooth.”

“Like a naked mole rat.”

“Why are you always so rude and jealous of my animal magnetism?”

Iwaizumi picks up both of their plates to go drop them in the dishwasher, enjoying the heady smell of sweet wood and cooked meat. “I can flirt, Oikawa. Just because I don’t flirt with you, doesn’t mean I can’t.”

Oikawa takes the spoon off his nose and stares at his reflection, apparently unfazed. “Well, why not?”

“Flirt with you?”

“Yeah.”

Iwaizumi makes an incredulous face. “Because you’re my friend.”

“But I’m good at flirting. I could be good practice, if you needed it.” Oikawa flashes him an unimpressed look. “And I think you need it if you’re going to university all by your lonesome self.”

Iwaizumi looks at the painted tiles framing the sink, the dark window across him, the jagged branches criss-crossing over the view. “Fine, then. Let’s practice.” It’s a joke.

Oikawa doesn’t offer anything in response other than a cryptic smile. Iwaizumi loiters longer by the sink, looking outside silently, and doesn’t notice Oikawa walk up behind him.

“How,” says Oikawa, “are you this buff?” He punctuates the statement with a squeeze to Iwaizumi’s upper arm.

“Is this your idea of flirting?” says Iwaizumi, entertained, ignoring Oikawa’s grip sliding down his arm. “I can get that from anyone.”

Oikawa huffs as Iwaizumi turns around to face him, realizing belatedly that they are standing especially close. “I don’t know what you’re used to; I’m getting a read for it.” He looks thoughtful. “But also, you’re ridiculously swole. How, Iwa-chan.”

“You’re not too bad yourself,” says Iwaizumi, mockingly playing along. He trails a hand over Oikawa’s torso, and stops at his abs, poking at them through his shirt. “Where’d this come from, huh?”

Oikawa’s face goes through a somersault of emotions before settling on pleased. “Oh? Oh?” he says, grabbing Iwaizumi’s face between his hands, pinching his cheeks. “You’re one to talk. Always calling me pretty boy when you have this face. How about that?”

“You’re stupid,” says Iwaizumi, trying not to smile. Despite himself, he feels sportive.

“I mean it!” Oikawa reasserts. He stares at Iwaizumi’s face, studying. Iwaizumi watches his expression give way to pensiveness, and feels suddenly lost until Oikawa grins again. “You’re good looking, I already told you so.”

Iwaizumi lets out a breathless sound and forgets to censor his thoughts. “It’s hard to believe that when you look like how you do.” The sink’s edge is digging into his butt. He didn’t realize he was leaning back, that Oikawa was sloping over him.

He waits for Oikawa to make some joke about jealousy that doesn’t come. Instead, he stares alarmedly at Iwaizumi for a few seconds straight, before saying anticlimactically, “Huh?”

Iwaizumi becomes bashful, but treks on. “Who believes it when a model tells them they’re attractive? Doesn’t it feel far-fetched?”

“Wow,” says Oikawa, blinking. He looks sheepish. “Okay, you’re not awful at flirting.”

The power surge hits Iwaizumi a few minutes later, when he’s lying in bed, watching Oikawa brush his teeth in the bathroom across. He could make Oikawa embarrassed, shy, ruffled. He- of course- had seen such things through the course of his time with Oikawa at school, but not for such long stretches, and not so often.

And it isn’t like it’s difficult, either. All he has to do is tell Oikawa about the kinder things he thinks of him. Or talk like Oikawa. Well. It is somewhat challenging, going against his natural instincts to hide such thoughts from Oikawa, but he can certainly try.

“I like your hair ungelled,” he says to Oikawa as he walks towards to bed to sleep.

Oikawa, as theorized, does not have an intelligible reply to this. “What?” he asks. He’s wearing boxers and Iwaizumi’s old shirt as pajamas, his hair is a mess. There’s a bit of toothpaste on the corner of his mouth. His hand is currently stuck inside the t-shirt, itching at this stomach.

“I like when you don’t style your hair. I like it when it’s styled, too, but I haven’t seen it ungelled for a long time. It’s…” Iwaizumi searches for a word. “Interesting.” No, too vague. “Cute.”

Oikawa gapes at him.

“I like your hair,” Iwaizumi offers, for the sake of simplicity.

 “Who are you?!” exclaims Oikawa worriedly. “Did I break you? Why are you saying all these things Iwa-chan would not say, no matter how true they are?”

“Har, har,” says Iwaizumi. “I thought we were going to practice.”

“Oh,” says Oikawa. “We aren’t done yet?”

“I was expecting something more.”

Oikawa smirks, climbing into bed. “Iwa-chan wants the big guns from me.”

Iwaizumi makes a sound of exasperation. “Don’t say that when you’re getting into bed with me, you perverted freak.”

“Oh, Iwa-chan,” says Oikawa in a comically low voice. “You can’t get my big guns… when you have all the big guns yourself!” He latches onto Iwaizumi’s biceps, and begins to laugh gracelessly.

“You flatter me,” says Iwaizumi without humor, ignoring the momentary wave of heat his touch brings. He listens to Oikawa snicker, and tries again with something bolder. “I like it when you’re touchy.”

Oikawa’s laughter trails off, and he gets up, balancing his weight on his two arms. “Really?” he asks, looking down at Iwaizumi. His face is intense, painted with that earnestness Iwaizumi had seen before, but embarrassed, too. Deeply embarrassed. “Are you serious?”

“Yes,” states Iwaizumi simply. He watches Oikawa’s face jump between arrogance and more baffling mortification.

“Right,” says Oikawa, settling back down into the bed. He’s still facing Iwaizumi, as if waiting for the other shoe to drop. “I knew that. It’s hard to resist all this.”

Iwaizumi may laugh in victory with how much he likes to see this Oikawa- disoriented, sincerely confused. He wonders briefly if this is how Oikawa feels all the time, when he talks to his fans. The joyous thrill of seeing someone feel flustered because of you.

He reasons that this can’t be the case. He wouldn’t feel the same kind of pleasure if it was some stranger, even if it was a stranger who was obsessed with him. No, it was exhilarating because he knew Oikawa, and Oikawa knew him. It made the reaction more pronounced. How had Oikawa put it? It’s different with you.

He smiles at Oikawa (he has been doing a lot of that lately). “So who’s spooning who?”

Oikawa blubbers something unfathomable, though he turns around, which Iwaizumi takes as a cue. He shifts forward, drapes a hand over Oikawa’s midsection, and tucks the other one underneath his pillow. Oikawa’s body shakes for a moment, as if he’s laughing silently, though this too eventually stops.

“Goodnight, Asskawa,” Iwaizumi says plainly.

“You’re very dedicated to this,” says Oikawa carefully. He lets out a tiny sigh, a small shred of sound, before his tone is spirited again. “I guess we’ll see how you are tomorrow. Night, Iwa-chan.”

***

The next day is a bit chilly in the morning. In their sleep, they had somehow reversed, with Iwaizumi digging his face into Oikawa’s chest. He feels the natural urge to move away and shrug off, but it’s far more comfy inside the bed, under the covers with someone else’s warmth. And, he realizes, he’s allowed to do this as of last night. So he doesn’t flinch when Oikawa sleepily runs a (thankfully warm) foot over his calf, or when Oikawa shivers and brings Iwaizumi closer, sighing into his hair.

He cannot stop himself from giving a full body shudder, however, when Oikawa brushes a hand near his armpit. He isn’t excessively ticklish, but he has limits. Oikawa wakes from this, his eyes blearily opening before becoming comically wide and he takes in their position.

“Huah!” he yelps, giving Iwaizumi whiplash by how quickly he shoots up. “Hah?”

Iwaizumi lets out a laugh. “You’re jumpy.”

He watches Oikawa recall the night before, his confused expression replaced by annoyed realization. “You like freaking me out,” he sniffs. His voice is broken by the gravel of morning. “Well, whatever. It’s just because you’re a creepy weirdo who likes to watch gorgeous Oikawa-san sleep.”

Iwaizumi stretches and watches Oikawa. “I think referring to yourself in the third person is a little creepier.”

“Oikawa-san can’t hear you,” Oikawa says, a bit louder, climbing out of bed. Iwaizumi’s shirt is laughably loose on him. He heads the bathroom, his voice echoing. “Oikawa-san thinks Iwa-chan is full of shit and has secretly been taking pictures of him on his cellphone while he sleeps, to sell online to his fanclub!”

Iwaizumi had taken a picture, just once, and that was a year ago when he woke up to find Oikawa drooling in his sleep. But he had not shared it with anyone.

He gets out of bed a few minutes later, cracking his neck, wiggling his toes in the giving rug underneath the bed. Though it’s not raining, it is overcast, and the room is bathed in muted white-grey. He treads outside to turn the thermostat up; by the time he comes back to the bathroom to brush his own teeth, Oikawa is taking a shower.

It isn’t a problem, he thinks. Because the shower has a glass iced door, so he can’t even see Oikawa’s form except for a blurry outline. Though for propriety, he does ask before entering.

“Can I come in?” he says wearily by the door.

“Into the shower?!” Oikawa asks in disbelief.

Iwaizumi resists the urge to smack his forehead into the door, to distract from the image of that happening. “Oh my fucking god, no, I mean to brush my teeth. You idiot.”

“Oh,” says Oikawa. “Yeah, go ahead.”

A wall of steam and the smell of damp soap hits him when he does chance to open the door. He closes the door behind him, happy to be somewhere temporarily warmer. In the corner, he sees the shapeless impression of Oikawa lathering his hair.

He thinks of what lechy thing Oikawa would say. “Unless you want me to join you?” he says, fighting to keep the amusement out of his voice.

Oikawa does not respond to this, though his form freezes. Finally, he says in a low, cross voice, “This comes too easily to you. I can’t even tell if you’re joking for the first few seconds, that’s how weird it is.”

“I’m just pretending to be you,” Iwaizumi discloses, picking up his toothbrush.

He looks at himself in the mirror, beginning to brush. His body is all brown, tan from before but darker after their time swimming. He looks… not exhausted, unlike how he looks for most of the year. He doesn’t get freckles when he spends time outside, but he does get small, tiny moles, the color of dark chocolate, the size of strawberry seeds. Right now, he has three on his face. One, right under his left ear; one, on the edge of his jaw, only visible when he smiles; and one above his right eyebrow. They are the evidence of summer, though in this instant, they make him feel like he’s eleven. Behind him, he sees the white of Oikawa’s head melt into auburn as he washes out the soap.

He ducks to spit and wash out his mouth. While he’s washing his face, he hears the water stop, and then the gentle drip of Oikawa moving around, reaching over the door for the towel on the hook.

“I needed that towel,” he says, wiping the water out of his eyes as he turns around. “My face is wet.”

He opens his eyes to see Oikawa before him, the towel wrapped around his waist. His dark bangs, when damp, definitely flop into his eyes.

“Come and get it,” says Oikawa in that pseudo-seductive voice, jiggling the towel where he holds it, laughing at himself as he brushes his hair out of his face.

Iwaizumi is not discomfited by any measure when he looks at Oikawa, half naked. He appreciates his muscles, the gesture of his arms, but he can’t will himself to feel the excitement that Oikawa’s fans tend to devolve into when in his presence. Even in the locker room, he had seen Hanamaki look and get pink in the face, from the intimate sight of Oikawa, or Matsukawa frown tiredly in some watered down form of jealousy. But the sight of Oikawa naked to Iwaizumi is nothing novel, although striking as it is between fellow athletes.

“You’re staring,” states Oikawa. He looks unsure. “Why are you staring?” He moves his towel up, to cover his midsection.

Well. Even Iwaizumi is prone to forgetting Oikawa’s apprehensions, especially given how implausible they seem to everyone looking on. “You’re more fit than you were last year,” he says honestly. “I’m surprised that you got so much muscle so quick.”

“Oh…” says Oikawa, letting the towel fall back to its previous level. He glances at his own abdomen. “I think it’s because I made a harder practice regimen with coach for the last year. I have my pride as a captain, of course.” He clears his throat, contemplative. “Though the T probably kicked in harder. I upped my dosage.”

Iwaizumi nods, and then scrounges for another towel, because now he wants to shower. Oikawa leaves to change in the other room, with a “I’m making fish and miso for breakfast.” By the time he’s done, the house has warmed to something more reasonable.

“We can’t go outside,” he notes as he finishes the last of his grilled fish. “To swim, at least.”

“The forecast says it’ll be warmer by four,” Oikawa says through food in his mouth. He swallows. “We should watch a movie!”

Iwaizumi shrugs, by which he means, alright.

“Can we not watch some weird alien movie?” he requests as he settles on the couch (which is positively sinking in).

 “We’re watching Hauru’s Moving Castle,” Oikawa, plucking the DVD out of the chest under the TV. “I haven’t seen it in forever.” He pushes the DVD in before Iwaizumi can protest, although he doesn’t think to. He does like the movie. And it evokes something nostalgic inside him, to be watching it on a dreary day.

Oikawa jumps onto the space next to him, closer than usual, and pulls a blanket over them. Iwaizumi isn’t bothered by the immediacy.

Well, no. That isn’t the right way to say it. It isn’t that it ever bothered him, but it’s just that now- after days isolated with Oikawa, getting to see his skin brown under the sun and start to smile a little more genuinely and without the overwhelming, confusing politics of public appearance in high school- Iwaizumi feels soft all over. I like it when you’re touchy.  

Oikawa sighs as the film opens, and tilts his head to lie on Iwaizumi’s shoulder.

“Is this the kind of guy who you base yourself off?” Iwaizumi asks, watching Hauru hold the girl’s wrists carefully as they walk through air. “Mysterious lady’s man who acts like a tool?”

“Howl is a man of wonder,” Oikawa says gravely. “It is an honor to be compared to him.”

Watching the film, Iwaizumi gets the sense that Oikawa must rather seem like Hauru to strangers. Charming, calm, and indubitably closed off.

Though the comparison runs deeper than that. He doesn’t say anything when Hauru screams, “What’s the point of living if I don’t look beautiful?”, when Hauru has no heart, when Sophie exclaims, “You are right in a way, that he's cowardly and selfish.” He wants to laugh- he’s reading too much into it, a side-effect of only seeing Oikawa for the last week, but it makes him feel forlorn, too. Oikawa chews his lip next to him, seemingly ignorant to the similarities, enraptured in the movie.

Oikawa lets out a strangled sound at Howl’s bird form (the sound goes directly into Iwaizumi’s ear, but, whatever), not quite a sob but not quite a shriek. He goes a bit limp, ostensibly overcome with emotion, and slides his head down into Iwaizumi’s lap.

“No,” he moans into Iwaizumi’s thigh, “no, it isn’t fair! She just found out she loves him!”

“Shut up, you big baby,” says Iwaizumi. Oikawa shoots him a teary death glare, from by his crotch. It is not the most appealing thing Iwaizumi has ever seen.

He eventually shifts so that the back of his head faces Iwaizumi’s front, so he can watch the movie again. Iwaizumi reaches out and pets Oikawa’s hair (because he can) but Oikawa doesn’t seem to notice, or mind, entirely focused on the movie, so Iwaizumi keeps carding it, scratching as his scalp.

“I am not a cat,” Oikawa says dryly, after a few moments, leaning into Iwaizumi’s hand.

Iwaizumi snorts. “You’re practically a member of Nekoma.”

“Meow,” says Oikawa. He shifts, then shifts some more, and then gets up, which Iwaizumi takes to mean that he can start feeling normal again, but then Oikawa is planting his butt on Iwaizumi’s knee, his thigh, and finally settling in the space between his legs.

“I can’t see anything,” Iwaizumi states. Not that he’s keeping up what the movie, but, still. He feels warm. Which is normal, when Oikawa’s back is pressed up against his front, science of body heat, all of that. It’s fine.

“You’re not even watching, at least cuddle right!” Oikawa exclaims.

He’s joking, Iwaizumi knows, but at the same time, he’s not. There was something outré about this entire situation, this entire trip, the excessive touching and affection and being shy, shy around a childhood friend, around Oikawa, of all people.

His head is reeling. He can see them both now, as if looking on- the blue dark of the shadows in the room, the illumination of the TV lighting up Oikawa, who’s nestled between Iwaizumi’s legs, the hesitant and yet firm touches of Oikawa’s hands on his thigh, the way Iwaizumi is struggling to not bury his nose into Oikawa’s shoulder which smells like him because Iwaizumi brought the washing detergent.

It’s untraversed territory. It begins to dawn on Iwaizumi that the frail outlines of a game may not stand to explain the situation they find themselves in.

“Iwaizumi,” starts Oikawa, coyly, “Do you really think I look good?” (“Sophie! Sophie, you’re beautiful!”).

Iwaizumi digs his chin into Oikawa’s back. He feels unsteady, off-balance. It’s normal to want to hug your friend, he tells himself. It’s normal to want to see your friend flustered. “You fish for compliments too much.”

“Iwa-chan, that’s not smooth!” Oikawa says, turning around, smiling teasingly. “And you were doing so well, too.”

But this isn’t normal to them, Iwaizumi thinks. The touching, the playful seducing, the awkward closeness. They had been a little too close before, at least as the team had previously shared- so what is this? This, with the- the indulgent honesty? The uncharacteristic tenderness?

“Tooru-chan,” says Iwaizumi flatly, “Your hair looks just like starlight. It’s beautiful.”

Oikawa lets out an affronted squeal, throwing the blanket off of them. “Oh, awful! Awful, Iwa-chan! Everyone knows copying movie pick-up lines is un-cool!”

Oikawa’s holding a hand to his face, as if exasperated, but Iwaizumi can tell it’s to hide his face, which is stained a brilliant shade of rose. This is agonizingly endearing.

“Even if Hauru says them, Tooru-chan?”

Oikawa glowers. “That sounds so…”

“Like you?” Iwaizumi supplies. He smiles. “And you’ve been calling me Iwa-chan for, what, 12 years?”

“It’s different when I say it,” says Oikawa. “I have the charm and flair to make it cute.”

“No one finds it cute,” reassures Iwaizumi. “Except for your fanclub, which I still think may be paid actors on your part.”

“Iwa-chan proves yet again how deep his jealousy runs,” says Oikawa solemnly. He shifts- the movie is over- and gets up, padding towards the window. “Still too cold to swim,” he sighs. He considers the dock, bobbing in the distance. “I’m gonna go collect minnows.”

Iwaizumi shrugs and reaches for his book, intent to go back to reading and stop- whatever is happening inside of his head. “I’ll join you,” he says. “But I won’t get in the water.”

Oikawa dons his flip flops, and grabs a bucket and tiny net from the shed. Iwaizumi stands by, holding his book and two wrapped sandwiches (for later). He peeks inside the glass doors nearby, that seem to lead to basement. Inside, he can see the edge of a bed, a couch, a TV. An old-fashioned console hooked up to the TV, lying outside.

“Why haven’t we been in there before?” he asks.

Oikawa studies the net for spiders. “We can if you want,” he says. “Later. Haven’t had any need to.”

Iwaizumi nods, and they both set down the dirt path towards the lake, the moist mud just touching the tip of his toes in sandals. It’s cool enough that Iwaizumi decides to wear a hoodie, but not terrible. The clouds are clearing at a snail’s pace. Under the diffused, diluted light, the lake looks grey.

Oikawa clambers into the shallow part of the lake. His shorts are rolled up. “Cold cold cold,” he hisses, wincing as the water laps at his knees.

Iwaizumi sits down in the springy bed of moss a few feet from the shore. It’s startlingly thick, feels like a thick towel underneath his fingertips. He flips open to where he last left in the book. “But she persevered, overcome by the growing anxiety, and little by little she was getting back her ancestral appetite, the taste of primary minerals, the unbridled satisfaction of what was the original food…”

On occasion he glances up to watch Oikawa stare with an arresting ferocity at the water, the disquieting sort of concentration that he’d maintain between sets. Oikawa is many bad things, but it cannot be denied that he pursues all his activities with a vicious intent.   

Oikawa lunges at the water with his net, splashing himself in the face.

“You’re going to fall,” Iwaizumi chides. Oikawa ignores him, victoriously viewing the tiny silver minnows whip around like coins in the net. He slowly walks back to the dock, dumps them gently into the filled bucket, and then draws back to admire them.

Iwaizumi comes forward to peek a few of Oikawa’s raids later. They are quaintly captivating; he dips his fingers into the bucket once or twice to corral them.

Later- he supposes an hour or so has passed- Oikawa makes a noise of approval. “The water’s not so bad, now,” he says.

Iwaizumi hadn’t realized, but a look up confirms that the sky has cleared out, and probably has been so for the last hour. The sun hangs just this side of the center of the sky, but as happens in summer, will spend the next two hours considering setting.

Iwaizumi nods. “Let’s eat first,” he says, bringing back the sandwiches from where they lay on the moss. They eat silently on the dock- Iwaizumi, with his legs over the edge, and Oikawa, leaning over the balance his upper body on the wood.

“I want to swim there,” Oikawa says, when he’s done eating. He points to an island- barely that, really- a little less than a half mile away. It’s covered in looming trees, and shows no signs of anyone being on it at all. Half-way between it and their dock floats a delicate sheet of lilypads.

“That’s far,” Iwaizumi says unsurely. They could definitely make it one way, but he isn’t sure if they could loiter on the island that long (or if it were even fit to safely stand on).

“I’m not going to wear a life-jacket,” says Oikawa. “I can do it, I’ve swam there once before. The lily-pad part is shallow, you can stand on that part and rest if you need to.” He scrunches his nose. “But it’s all muddy and disgusting and I always feel like a gross big fish will eat my feet.”

Iwaizumi considers this. “I’ll come with you, but wait. We just ate.”

“I’ll go in an hour, anyways,” hums Oikawa. “I wanna rest my legs.” He pops himself onto the dock, turns around, and lets himself lay back. He closes his eyes, a small smile drawn on his lips.

“Tch,” says Iwaizumi, to drive off the awful doughy feelings settling around the cavity of his chest. He goes back to his book, though it’s beginning to feel too complex. “Both looked back then on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude…”

Oikawa is out within ten minutes and lays very still with his feet dipping into the water. Iwaizumi wonders if this is uncomfortable, and decides it probably is; he cautiously brings Oikawa’s legs out of the water and settles them by his side. Oikawa turns with the move, seemingly still asleep, or at least not-awake enough to notice.

His hand is curled towards his chest, pressed right under his chin. The sky is now nearing antimony. Irksomely enough, this lighting works well for Oikawa’s features, dramatizes them, carving each of them out deeply. Iwaizumi glares, and wills the image away, but when he closes and opens his eyes it’s the same. He’s stupidly stunning. Oikawa’s eyelids, his upper lip, the jut of his throat are all caught under the aging sunlight. His eyelashes and straight nose cast a sharp shadow (brown-violet) over his forehead and the right side of his face, emphasizing his age. Before him, Oikawa appears enigmatic, mature, untouchable.

“You’re an idiot,” Iwaizumi sighs at his prone form.

An hour later, it’s become warmer too, a muggy heat settling over the water.

He says, “Wake up,” while touching Oikawa by the shoulder. “It’s going to get dark soon.”

Oikawa stirs, and the illusion is broken in the clumsiness of his waking moments. “Whazzat?”

Iwaizumi grins, reaching over the grab what little lakewater he can in his cupped hands before releasing it on Oikawa’s face. Oikawa screams shrilly. “Cruel beast! Ugly monster!”

Iwaizumi leans over him. “Are you going to swim or not, Shittykawa?”

Oikawa scowls, slowly gets up, and shakes the sleep from his shoulders. They have twenty minutes before the sun sets.

“Oh,” goes Oikawa. “I left my trunks back at the house.” He chews on his lip. “But by the time I get it, change into it, and come back, there won’t be enough time…”

“Well,” he says to Iwaizumi. “I guess I will be going au-naturel.”

And then he begins to do the most bizarre thing, which is taking off his hoodie, and then his shirt, and then his shorts.

“Wait,” says Iwaizumi.

“Don’t look,” Oikawa warns, dipping himself back into the lake. The water comes up until his waist at this part. The water, which Iwaizumi had so admired for being so clear, does little to obstruct the view. He can see the wavy outline of Oikawa’s legs bright against the rocky carob underbed. Oikawa begins to hold the edge of his briefs, and Iwaizumi turns away with vigor.

Wait,” repeats Iwaizumi.

“Live a little, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa says cheerily. He places soggy underwear into Iwaizumi’s line of vision. Iwaizumi feels as if four fuses have exploded in quick succession in his head. His underwear.

Oikawa places his wet hand against Iwaizumi’s knee. His naked hand, which is connected to his naked body. “Are you coming?”

“Oikawa,” he says, head clear of intelligent thought.

“Iwa-chan is scared to skinny dip with me?”

Iwaizumi knows the voice is an off-brand, placebo sultry, but it does the job of rendering him incapable of reasoning skills anyhow. “Okay.” It comes out of mouth unbidden, but when Iwaizumi takes off his shirt he sees Oikawa’s delighted, surprised expression through his collar hole.

“Wow, Iwa-chan wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted the big guns!”

“Look away,” Iwaizumi says instead of answering, inching out of his boxers and shorts at the same time. He gets into the water quickly, ducking down to his shoulders so that- not too much is bared. It’s not freezing, but it still lights a wave of goosebumps across his body, especially when he feels the contrast of the prickling warmth of the air.

Oikawa has started walking out further, till where the water laps at his shoulders. “I’m going to go, now,” he calls back to Iwaizumi, before pushing himself forward and swimming towards the island. Iwaizumi’s mind, still blank, wills him to follow. For a while it is fine; he adjusts to the water, and it becomes comfortably temperate and he pushes himself, following Oikawa’s bobbing head, his nape, glistening with water.

“I like swimming naked!” Oikawa announces happily after a few minutes, once they make it to the halfway point. His declaration echoes across the span of the lake, fading into nothingness.

Iwaizumi frowns. “I feel exposed,” he says, disgruntled. They stand in the lilypads, both crouching just enough. The mud squelches uncomfortably into the space between his toes, and slimy roots brush against him when he tries to move. “This is disgusting.”

“You’ll offend the fish,” Oikawa threatens. “Don’t offend the feet-eating fish.”

Iwaizumi splashes him weakly. They move back towards the island, swimming for some more five minutes, which Iwaizumi relishes after the stillness of the rest of the day.

The lakebed levels out about fifty feet from the shore of the island, and they catch their footing. The water crawls slowly down Iwaizumi’s body as they get closer, climbing carefully over rocks and submerged branches, but around the time it hits his bellybutton he realizes the problem.

“Ah, whatever, I don’t care,” decides Oikawa. He keeps walking, the edge of his ass peeking out. Iwaizumi turns his gaze away on instinct.

“Don’t be squeamish, Iwa-chan, it’ll be too dark to see in a few minutes anyways.”

This is easy for Oikawa to say, who is confident and a closet exhibitionist. Iwaizumi has qualms. A whole host of them.

He ignores them, and the distressing heat overtaking his body as he climbs on. Oikawa staggers clumsily onto the island, which is littered with rocks and sticks all over the shore. He is close to follow, careful to avert his eyes from anything below the chest.

Oikawa lingers by the edge of where the trees begin. “There’s too much underbrush to explore,” he explains, looking gloomily between his bare feet and the thorny plants. Iwaizumi agrees- just walking on the shore made his feet sting from tiny scratches. “Well, whatever. I just wanted to be able to get here.”

He sits, delicately, on a large rock and pats the space next to him, smiling up at Iwaizumi. Iwaizumi notes the similar dedication to not look too far down.

“S’nice,” he says, sitting next to him at an angle. The rock is dusty, and when he shifts he feels the dust cling to his wet skin. “The sunset.”

“Romantic,” Oikawa sing-songs. They watch in silence as the light gold turns to a burning orange, a dark blue creeping in in the apex of the sky. And, in the corner-

 “Wow,” says Oikawa. “You can already see the moon!”

It’s a sliver of silver glowing above them, out of place- the sky is still bright at the horizon- but Iwaizumi watches it wearily, unsure.

“Iwa-chan,” says Oikawa, and it grates on Iwaizumi’s skin, the nasal lilting, the smooth sound he’s heard for years and years. It hadn’t started maliciously. Six year old Oikawa had just known to be cute like that. But it had overstayed its welcome. He hates it. He doesn’t mind it anymore. He hates it.

“What,” he says, dully.

“When you go to Waseda, are you planning on getting a girlfriend?”

He stills. “Maybe.”

Oikawa’s voice is still casual. “Or maybe something other than a girlfriend?”

Iwaizumi, uncertain as to how to respond, lets out a noncommittal sound. He doesn’t know why his veins feel filled with boiling water. He doesn’t know what game Oikawa is playing now. He’s always playing one, or another, though Iwaizumi is never told the rules, the stakes, when one begins, when one ends.

Oikawa holds his arm, gently. “We should go back. It’s going to get cold.”

“Right,” he says, and draws his arm out of Oikawa’s grasp. It must already be cold despite the warmth in his face; his body aches all over, and he feels goosebumps erupt again, although now from where Oikawa grabbed him.

They begin the swim back, the sky more indigo than orange now, and Iwaizumi thinks that maybe he had been part of one game, where he was the one calling the rules. The stupid flirting game they had for the last few days, from before they even gave it a name.

He had felt so powerful, so pleased with himself- and suddenly, as he hitches himself up on the dock some ten minutes later, because Oikawa had asked he climb first while giggling “I already bared myself first on the island, Iwa-chan, besides, what’s got you embarrassed,” - Suddenly, he knows the game they’re playing right now.

His elbows nearly buckle with the momentum of the thought. He clambers on and turns around to find Oikawa has given up pretenses of privacy, looking rather clearly at his body, though his expression betrays nothing (and he remains courteous enough to avoid looking directly at certain bits).

“Help me up,” Oikawa says, raising his arms, smiling so slightly. Oh, God, it was so obvious. Iwaizumi’s insides are aching. He notices every single stupid hair on Oikawa’s forearms, the trail of a drop down the side of his face, the passage of water down his outstretched arms and body.

“You’re an idiot,” he says, his voice somehow not wavering.

He leans down to heave Oikawa up, wrenching him by his upper arm, careful to not hurt him. Oikawa clambers on, but once he stands his legs are still weak, and he bumps into Iwaizumi, and they are touching- their sopping chests, one of their hipbones, and Oikawa laughs, a sweet sound, a grating sound, his teeth caught in the light of the awful moon as the water drips down both of them. Iwaizumi realizes he’s freezing, they forgot towels and they’re standing naked on the dock, drenched, and it’s fucking cold.

 “Iwaizumi,” says Oikawa, playfully, dangerously, wiping his too-long bangs out of his eyes.

Iwaizumi only has time to nod before he’s being kissed, and only enough time to place a hand on Oikawa’s waist before he’s kissing back. Oh. Oh. He had never kissed Kaori but he has kissed before, very briefly, and this is universes away from that. Before, he had felt the interesting sensation of lip contact, the edge of seduction, but now he feels his entire body, his skin too tight for his bones, feeling heat in his chest and get aware of the cold in his fingers, his toes.

The ache is worse. He can feel it inside, a rheumatism, and he thinks about how the same Oikawa whom he wrestled with throughout elementary school and the same Oikawa whom he pushed into a river in middle school and the same Oikawa whom he drove to the physical therapist last year is the one kissing him right now. The thought makes him want to cry and throw a tantrum, and he has not done either in years.

He feels Oikawa’s fingers cup his face and he makes a small noise into the other’s mouth, a precedent to a whimper, which may have been spurred by the above thought or the gentleness of the touch. Oikawa draws away. He’s smiling still, his face earnest, just like at the gas station.

“I was hoping that would happen,” he says.

Iwaizumi doesn’t know if nodding will suffice, so instead, he says, “It’s cold.”

“Let’s go inside then,” Oikawa drawls, and then they are kissing again.

They stumble back the whole trip, alternating between kissing and laughing nervously. Oikawa continues to hold Iwaizumi’s face, and the kissing makes mortifying sucking sounds. Iwaizumi does his best not to dwell on this. He holds Oikawa’s elbows, sharp edges that dig into his palms, the pressure keeping him grounded.

By the time they get to the house he doesn’t think he can handle walking up the flight of stairs to get inside, get dry, and resume doing – whatever they’re doing. Whatever they’re going to do.

“Basement,” snaps Oikawa impatiently, peeved by the break in their kissing. “Go in the basement. Door’s unlocked.”

Iwaizumi slides the door open, prays that none of the spiders hidden in the crack between the house and the yard don’t crawl up his body, and pulls Oikawa inside. Oikawa manages to slide the door back closed as behind him as Iwaizumi presses into him, not quite kissing but waiting desperately to know what the next step is. It’s very dim.

“Hold up,” says Oikawa, and he slips away into a door that Iwaizumi had not seen from outside. He comes back ten seconds later, holding two towels. Iwaizumi dries himself quickly, scrubbing his head and body, afraid that too long of a break between kissing will destroy the mood.

The door Oikawa came from is left open, and lights left on (Iwaizumi sees later that it is a bathroom). This is enough illumination. Oikawa throws his towel to the ground, and pulls Iwaizumi close, drawing him towards the bed. The crawl on while trying to remain connected, but Iwaizumi loses his grip on the sheets and falls on top of Oikawa.

“Oof,” laughs Oikawa. Indoors, in this proximity, Iwaizumi smells how they both still reek of lakewater and sweat. It mingles strangely with the clean laundry smell of the sheets.

“Shut up,” says Iwaizumi, embarrassed.

Oikawa lets out a smaller, quieter laugh. “I don’t care. It’s cute.”

Iwaizumi blushes upon hearing this, and ducks down to kiss him again. Oikawa smiles into this one, still laughing a bit, dragging his fingertips up and down Iwaizumi’s back, wrapping his legs around Iwaizumi’s bottom half. Everywhere they touch, their skin is still chilled, but rapidly warming up. Oikawa cants his hips into Iwaizumi’s.

Iwaizumi’s body reacts sanguinely to this- there is no way to avoid it, he knew from the moment they began kissing he’d get hard eventually- and before he can start feeling too ashamed he feels Oikawa straining against him too, smaller but definitely there.

“Shit.” He pulls away, looks down. “Can I-?”

“Just rub against me,” Oikawa says, his voice low, and they kiss again, although it’s messier now. He grinds against him, his dick slotting in the slick folds below Oikawa’s cock, rubbing against both. A moan is punched out of his body. The same Oikawa. The same Oikawa is reaching down his own hand to tug at his own cock, and Iwaizumi aches more than ever watching this, the hypnotic movement of his fingers, the strain in his abdomen, the sighing and twisting.

“I can help,” he asks, and Oikawa laughs breathily. He reaches down. Oikawa guides his fingers, and he watches the play of expressions flit across his face- pleasure, desperation, exhaustion, pleasure, hopefulness, pleasure. He looks up directly at Iwaizumi with his dark eyes, biting his lip, and Iwaizumi can’t look away. It fills him with a light sort of feeling, a good contrast to the heavy, nearly angry heat settling in his navel that tells him he’s close.

Oikawa starts to kiss and bite at his neck, which does Iwaizumi in. He chokes out a “Coming, coming,” and it’s all over, rushing over him like a wave. It splatters across Oikawa’s torso. Oikawa does not notice, or doesn’t care, because he begins whining for Iwaizumi to just touch him, please, I’m going to-

Iwaizumi does his best to do as he’s told in the overwhelming dizziness following orgasm and watches as Oikawa bucks into his hand.

“I’ve got you,” he says, and Oikawa lets out a little sob and arches the slightest bit, the spasm of his abs indicating his orgasm. Iwaizumi works him through it until Oikawa’s moans become hisses of overstimulation, and his hand retreats.

He flops over to the side. Oikawa is still panting.

“Er,” he says, to the ceiling.

Oikawa hums pleasantly. “That was good. Really good.” He tugs the blanket over both of them, and kisses Iwaizumi briefly. “Let’s go to sleep. Too tired to think.” Iwaizumi wants to say something like “Disgusting,” at the sight of Oikawa wiping off his come with the blanket, but is too drained to.

Oikawa touches his arms, and he falls asleep.

***

He does not immediately realize the incongruity of his sleeping arrangement with Oikawa once he wakes. Oikawa is not pressed into his chest, but they are still very close. And Oikawa tends to take his shirt off in the middle of the night, so that isn’t unusual, either. It’s only after looking around that he realizes that this is not the room they usually sleep in. That, and the fact his private bits were in direct contact with the blanket, make the memories of last night rush back in.

His face feels hot. Right. Well. He can’t say he saw it coming by any means, and yet… he felt as if he had been waiting for it. For something. To say it aloud would be ridiculous- he slept with his best friend and worst enemy, the boy he grew up with, and again the thought makes him feel a rush of livid feelings, sad feelings.

 It was sudden, but calculated, too. Once Iwaizumi had realized where their game had been going, he had accepted it so quickly, so well, with such fervor that he fears he had known all along. He turns towards Oikawa to distract himself, studying his features.

With the light streaming over Oikawa’s face, his expression calm and open, Iwaizumi realizes that Oikawa is ugly.

Or, at least, ugly in the way that all people are, in the way that makes a face comforting and real. He had never seen it in the during the school year- probably because of concealer- or during daylight- because he never had an urge to look too closely- but Oikawa had dark circles under his eyes. He also had a nick on his jaw from shaving, a small red patch of about-to-erupt acne by his forehead (shiny with oil), a little tiny wrinkle across his cheek from where it had been pressed against the sheets, hair untidy and bent wrong and assuaged with cowlicks. If Iwaizumi squints, he can even tell one of his eyes is slightly higher on his face than the other.

“Hey, wake up,” he mutters, nudging Oikawa. Oikawa stirs, eyebrows furrowing the slightest bit. His mouth twitches.

Iwaizumi stares at him from above, overwhelmed with this morning Oikawa, one that he had never bothered to look at during sleepovers, one that is making his chest feel heavy and big. Propelled by the grandness of the feeling, Iwaizumi leans over to kiss him quickly and gently over the mouth. “Oikawa.”

“Mmnh?” goes Oikawa, a little more awake now, blinking confusedly at Iwaizumi, his chin tilted up and mouth the slightest bit open, as if he were following the kiss. His face is no longer calm, but it’s still open, if even confused and bleary. The feeling that possessed Iwaizumi to kiss him grows only bigger. “Iwaizumi..?”

“Hey.”

Oikawa blinks some more, looks around, and then back at Iwaizumi’s bare chest. It begins to dawn on him. “Oh,” he starts, looking up into Iwaizumi’s eyes. “Whoa.” A smile slowly spreads on his face, and it’s horribly handsome.

He wraps a hand around Iwaizumi’s face, pulling him down, and they kiss again.

“Wait,” says Iwaizumi. His face is red. “I’m really hungry. We didn’t have dinner last night… and if we keep doing this I’m going to…”

“Hohoho,” says Oikawa smugly. “Iwa-chan’s dick loves me.”

Iwaizumi grimaces. “Probably because it’s made friends with your huge dick of a personality.”

“What a sweet-talker,” Oikawa laughs, and he gets out of bed, still naked. “Let’s go out for breakfast!”

They make their way upstairs and Iwaizumi’s protests go for waste, because they end up taking a shower together anyways. Afterwards, they both smell much sweeter, and Oikawa looks happy and self-satisfied with his face all flushed (from the heat of the water, among other things).

The diner is not too far away.  Iwaizumi orders something greasy and filling for the both of them, relishing something heavy after the lighter food they had been eating at home. Oikawa kicks his feet a bit under the booth, and he gives him his usual irritated response. Oikawa laughs and looks outside, smiling- really smiling, not a fake one- while eating a french fry. Iwaizumi wonders if now he’s just doomed to look at Oikawa doing mundane things and finding the overtaking beauty in them.

When they get back home they save the leftovers in the fridge and Oikawa kisses him against the kitchen island. They decide to go swimming (clothed appropriately, this time) and it’s wonderfully warm under the sun, hearing all the bugs and the rustling of leaves from the warm breeze and the sound of water. The air smells dry and maple-sweet.

Oikawa slaps his butt as they walk down the path, which angers Iwaizumi as much as it flusters him. But he cannot deny the musical quality of Oikawa’s subsequent laugh floating down the path.

They swim for some hours, mindlessly, stopping intermittently to stand before each other, or lay on the dock side by side, or most of all kiss, which Iwaizumi worries will stop being novel at the rate they’ve been doing it. The thought brings the taste of bitterness, enough to let him open his eyes on the dock, for just a moment.

“Oikawa,” he says.

“Yes?” Oikawa smiles, lips pressed into Iwaizumi’s hot shoulder. He is sporting yet more light sunburn on his own shoulders, a strawberry stain flush. His eyes are closed.

He doesn’t know how to say it, so he puts it bluntly. “What are we doing?”

“Lying in the sun,” hums Oikawa, though his smile has taken on an upset quality, so Iwaizumi knows.

“I’m serious.”

Oikawa opens his eyes. His smile is not completely counterfeit, which Iwaizumi takes as a good sign. “Can’t believe Iwa-chan is the one to ask ‘What are we?’ first. We’re friends, silly.”

Iwaizumi feels a bit cold inside. “This is a fling then, right?” Offhandedly, he considers Oikawa’s history with flings.

“What do you want it to be?” asks Oikawa, shifty.

Iwaizumi says the next few words very carefully. “I don’t want to ruin our friendship.”

“Alright,” says Oikawa. He smiles. “So it’s a fling. Obviously, a little different, given that you’re my best friend.” So Oikawa had realized his worries. “But this relationship,” and here he pauses to lean over and kiss Iwaizumi deeply, so deeply he is momentarily taken aback and forgets the conversation, “This we can keep purely… carnal!”

Iwaizumi grunts once he gathers his wits, staring at Oikawa sticking his tongue out in the obnoxious way he does. “You use the worst words. You make it perverted and weird.”

“You like it,” says Oikawa, giving him a look that makes his gut drop. He turns back to lie against the Iwaizumi’s shoulder again, and they cease chatter.

Iwaizumi wills his eyes shut once more. The sun is so bright that all he really sees is the orange of his eyelids, but the warmth of Oikawa and the sunlight is pleasant enough to make up for this. He feels- weird. About the apparent status of… this. But he was sincere in asking for the pardon of their friendship; He values nothing more than that, fragile as it is. So to keep it something casual and meaningless is ideal.

He thinks that it is a bit strange that they hadn’t talked about it until now. It was as if Oikawa was happy to accept it into his life without question, so quickly that Iwaizumi wonders if Oikawa had just been eager for physical contact, did not care if it were Iwaizumi or someone else.

Iwaizumi scrunches his eyes, making the orange view turn momentarily black. No. It didn’t matter, to dwell on such things. He pushes the matter out of his head, opens his eyes to the brightness of the day, and goes back to swimming.

***

The next few days possess a new quality of excitement.

First in that they give up the guise of propriety and clothing becomes largely optional. They are dressed haphazardly, and usually in very little, the unique result of living alone, spending the majority of the time swimming, it being summer, and their newfound shared activities. It is simply impractical to wear more than swim trunks most of the time.

But there’s more. Iwaizumi marvels in the fact that he is now allowed to fall prey to Oikawa’s gravitation; instead of loitering in his orbit, he can crash towards him, touch, kiss, bite, hold, and act on generally any caprice that passes him. He does so when they cook dinner together; when they watch another movie; when they canoe (although this was perilous); before bed; after waking up; under the spray of the shower; while on another hike; while doing another run to the grocery shop; when they sun, when they swim, during every other hour of the day not taken up by other endeavors or eating or sleeping.

It gets to a point where it feels strange to not touch him.

It’s not addictive. But the sheer surprise of it is something Iwaizumi revels in, which is enough to start each motion. The follow through is mostly fueled by the same recurrent thought: The same Oikawa. The same Oikawa.

He wonders why he never thought of it before. He wonders if he did think of it before, and forgot, or if he had been feeling it for so long he never realized.

“You’re staring at me,” Oikawa notices, sitting beside him as they watch another movie. Iwaizumi forgets the name. The movie looks fine, and all, but he can’t help but think about-

“No I’m not,” he says gruffly, turning away.

Oikawa lets out a laugh. “We just did it,” he reminds. And they had. Two hours ago, in the guest room. “Keep it in your pants for a second.”

“That’s not what I was thinking about!”

“Then what? I’m missing the movie, you know.”

 Iwaizumi looks at the screen. A dead man with bugs- or something- crawling underneath his skin lies in the middle of some carnival park.

“What the fuck,” he says. “Why do you like this?”

“What were you thinking about?” Oikawa asks again, somewhat seriously this time.

Iwaizumi considers the trees outside, the warmth of the blanket they share. “We have to leave in three days.”

“So?”

“So…” Iwaizumi trails off. Isn’t it obvious, what he’s asking?

“Are you worried about the last team reunion?” Oikawa says, frowning. “Don’t be! Everyone probably already misses us.” He taps his own nose. “And misses me, their dutiful captain.”

“You are a worthless garbage heap that is chemically unmissable,” says Iwaizumi, massaging his forehead.

Oikawa flicks him in the head for this, and they watch the rest of the movie quietly. Iwaizumi doesn’t want to ask again, but he knows he’ll have to, sooner or later.

When the movie finishes- and Iwaizumi gives it some credit for the colors and idea, even if it is creepy as fuck- he and Oikawa prepare to have sukiyaki, set the table, and (inexplicably) peck each other before digging in. Iwaizumi wonders if this sort of domesticity will stay with them once they go back.

They decide to camp out tonight, grabbing a rudimentary tent from the shed.

“Don’t worry,” says Oikawa. “We won’t camp out too far. Just by the dock.”

Iwaizumi nods and hefts the tent equipment there, while Oikawa does what he always does, which is coo over his arms flexing. Iwaizumi would say something, but it does do favors for his ego on occasion.

He sets up the tent as Oikawa goes back to retrieve the sleeping bags. He is careful to place it over the bed of moss, such that their backs won’t ache too much the next morning. At night here, again, it’s a bit cooler, slightly misty, and very quiet. He’s in the middle of a shiver when he hears the slow crunch of Oikawa’s footsteps behind him.

“We’ll have to stop, when we get back,” Oikawa says. He sounds weary.

“I know,” says Iwaizumi. Oikawa sits down next to him, twisting around to get the sleeping bags in.

“But that doesn’t need to ruin what we’re doing right now, does it?”

“I don’t know,” admits Iwaizumi. He feels the cool tap of Oikawa’s fingers against his jaw, turning his face gently. They kiss gently, too. Everything is still.

“Alright,” says Oikawa. “Let’s get inside.”

They zip up their sleeping bags together, but forgo getting inside as they are too busy going down the usual path of dalliance. It’s easy to get undressed, and the inside of the tent gets warm quickly between their shared heat.

Iwaizumi pulls back. “What are we… What are we going to do?” Oikawa had always been clear on his intentions at every previous encounter.

Oikawa has the decency to color at this, but still looks perfectly seductive at the same time. “Whatever you want.”

“I don’t,” Iwaizumi says, “I don’t. Um. I think you should…” Oh, God, his stomach is dropping, he’s so embarrassed. He never really thought to fantasize about particular situations. It doesn’t exactly help that Oikawa is naked, underneath him, lithe and- stupidly coy, but excited, too- as images flip quickly through his mind like a spilt deck of cards.

“Okay,” murmurs Oikawa. “It’s fine. Do you want to fuck me?”

Iwaizumi nearly gapes. Is that rhetorical? He wordlessly nods, hoping this is appropriate.

Oikawa grins. “Great.” He squints at Iwaizumi, considering. “Have you ever…?”

Iwaizumi groans. “Are you trying to make fun of me? Obviously not, Crappykawa.”

“Such pillowtalk, Iwa-chan,” hums Oikawa. “Well, since you’re hopelessly lacking in experience, I’ll tell you what to do, okay?” He reaches a hand down his body, holding his cock between his finger and thumb. Iwaizumi is hit with the urge to look away, but realizes he doesn’t have to, so he takes in the image, heart rushing. “This is my dick. You know this part. It feels good when you touch it, but not too hard, okay? It’s still sensitive.” He reaches a little further down. “And this is my vagina, which is where you will be putting your dick.”

“Okay,” says Iwaizumi dumbly.

Oikawa puts up a finger. “But you should probably finger me before, so I’m wet enough to accept Iwa-chan’s member, because I left the lube in the house.” He frowns. “Also, I don’t have condoms, so you should probably pull out.” He waggles his eyebrows. “Unless you’re not into that.”

What,” sputters Iwaizumi.

Oikawa rolls his eyes, pointing to small pale scars on either side of his belly. “I had a hysterectomy. So there’s not a whole lot to worry about cooking in the oven, if that’s the concern.”

Iwaizumi squeezes his eyes shut to just. Clear his head. For a moment.

Oikawa cups his cheek from beneath him. “If you’re overwhelmed,” he says, “we don’t have to do anything.” He smiles, a little goofy at the edges. “I like spooning too.”

“Now who’s the adult?” asks Iwaizumi, gruffly, curbing a smile. He ducks down to kiss Oikawa on the cheek, on the neck, on the chin, on the mouth. “I want to do it.” Here he pauses thoughtfully. “Since done everything else under the sun.”

“We haven’t even started to cover half the bases,” Oikawa says dryly, but they resume the kissing and touching and stroking. Oikawa seems more ticklish than before, laughing when Iwaizumi goes to kiss his body, but he realizes belatedly this is probably because he hasn’t shaved his face in a while.

“Okay,” laughs Oikawa, later. “I’m definitely wet enough.” His voice twists into breathless at the end. Okay,” he repeats, much more strained, when Iwaizumi curiously thrusts his fingers in again. “Shit. Alright. I’m ready. I’m ready.”

Iwaizumi draws his fingers back, wiping them on Oikawa’s thigh and then leaning over him.

“Are you… stretched?” he asks, wincing at the phrasing.

“Iwaizumi,” says Oikawa, chagrin all over his face. “Your fingers are… pretty bulky, you know that, right? And you had like, three in me-”

“Alright,” interrupts  Iwaizumi. “Okay. I got it.”

Oikawa gets smug. “Not a fan of dirty talk?”

“I can dropkick you into the lake in five seconds flat from here.”

Oikawa doesn’t stop looking smug, instead choosing to tilt his hips up invitingly. This is painfully embarrassing to see, to feel, but in a way that Iwaizumi secretly doesn’t mind.

He enters slowly, and waits for Oikawa to nod. When he does he follows the instincts that seem to reside in his pelvis, the want to buck and to buck quickly.

He feels a giddiness, a cyclonic force swirling in the center of his belly, so supernaturally powerful that he can appreciate every single facet of the moment that he could not fully realize before. He tucks his face into Oikawa’s neck, panting and reveling all at once at Oikawa’s sounds, the near pain of his nails on his arms, the softness of all of it despite the intensity of the act.

He kisses Oikawa on the mouth messily- Oikawa, who is taut and very much enjoying himself, eyes closed- and pulls back, a confession threatening to spill over from his stomach. He waits for Oikawa to open his eyes.

“You’re my best friend,” he says, voice pained.

Oikawa stares at him, still panting, his arms now wrapped around Iwaizumi’s neck.  

Oikawa swallows. “You’re my best friend too,” he says quietly, his voice hitching.

“Fuck,” says Iwaizumi, and increases the pace. Oikawa startles but takes to it well, murmuring incomprehensible things and pulling Iwaizumi back to kiss him, kiss him. Iwaizumi reaches down and pumps him in the way he knows he likes, the way he knows because of their recent accustoming, but still, it feels familiar, more familiar than it should be.

Oikawa comes quickly after that, squeezing around Iwaizumi. Iwaizumi follows soon after, although pulling out at the critical moment.

“What?” says Oikawa, amused and winded. “Scared that I’m lying?”

“I thought it’d be uncomfortable for you,” Iwaizumi mutters, already embarrassed.

“I wouldn’t mind,” purrs Oikawa lowly. He grins wickedly.

Iwaizumi furiously does not respond to this, or think about the twitch in his dick at the suggestion. “You’re disgusting.”

“I know you like it,” Oikawa sighs. He stretches, then holds Iwaizumi above him by the small of his back. “Let’s cuddle now.”

“Predictable,” says Iwaizumi, but he does as he’s told.

***

The next day Iwaizumi cuts Oikawa’s hair for him- carefully, over the kitchen sink. Just the bangs, really, as they were becoming a nuisance. The cut isn’t completely even, but Oikawa doesn’t mind.

“It’ll be fine once I style it,” he explains, tussling it in the mirror. “Plus I’ll go get a real cut for the rest of my head when I get back.”

Iwaizumi stands behind Oikawa in the mirror and finds himself blinking comically. Styled hair. Right. He had gotten used to Oikawa’s messy hair. He sets the scissors aside in the drawer, cleans up the mess in the sink. When he turns, he catches Oikawa watching him.

“You want me to cut your hair?” Oikawa asks thoughtfully.

“No,” says Iwaizumi. He hopes he sounds emphatic enough. “I don’t trust you with scissors around my hair. Or with scissors, period.”

“Aw, don’t worry, Iwa-chan, I won’t expose anymore of your jumbo forehead,” Oikawa says happily, stepping forward to push Iwaizumi’s already short hair back. “So cute and big. Like a baby hippo!”

“I hate you,” says Iwaizumi.

“I mean it in a nice way,” Oikawa says as kindly as he can. As if to prove his point, he leans down and kisses Iwaizumi’s forehead. “I love Iwa-chan’s jumbo forehead.”

Iwaizumi shoves his hands into Oikawa’s armpits and grabs, pulling a spasm out of Oikawa as he laughs. He falls to the ground and Iwaizumi follows him, still tickling, and finds himself laughing a bit too. “What, you think you can say that kind of shit to me and get away with it? Huh?”

When Oikawa stops thrashing he smiles up at Iwaizumi brightly. His hair looks wild and unkempt splayed out behind him on the honey colored hardwood. Iwaizumi kneels and pecks him on the lips, something that feels natural in the moment.

Oikawa makes a surprised face, but doesn’t say anything.

“Have you packed?” Iwaizumi asks.

Oikawa nods. “I’ve started.”

They both extricate themselves, and get dressed for the day. Today they’re visiting the town nearby, just to waste time. It takes some thirty minutes to drive there, and they wander down between the streets.

“There’s a really nice onsen near here,” says Oikawa.

“I know,” says Iwaizumi. “You’ve been trying to sell it to me for the last week.”

“I’m just saying…”

Iwaizumi scoffs. “We have a literal lake in our backyard, and a bathtub Jacuzzi you soak in every night. Between those two, haven’t you had enough sitting in water?”

“An onsen is different,” insists Oikawa. “Not that uncultured swine like you would know!”

“So said the biggest pig in Japan.” He pinches Oikawa’s nose. “Oink, oink.”

Oikawa bats his hand away. They end up hanging about in a few shops, staring at little trinkets and old products that indicate that the town doesn’t have much of a bustling economy. For lunch, they have simple ramen, and Oikawa steals from Iwaizumi’s bowl.

This usually bothers Iwaizumi, and yet...  Well, this still bothers Iwaizumi. But he lets it go. Oikawa is Oikawa.

They get a picture taken against a lake- not their lake, but at least it’s a nice gimmicky tourist picture. Oikawa has a big smile on, and Iwaizumi is smiling too, though it appears to have been taken luckily right before Oikawa slipped his cold hand up Iwaizumi’s back.

“Aw, they took it too soon!” Oikawa wails when he sees it. He studies it some more, then shrugs. “I’m very cute, though. I guess it’s okay if you are too.”

“You’re cute like a Venus flytrap,” says Iwaizumi, ignoring Oikawa’s later comment. Here, in public, it feels a bit reaching to take it seriously. “I’ll keep the photo for now. You’ll lose it.”

Oikawa gives him a look. “Alright, Iwa-chan.” Some girls passing by look at Oikawa and giggle at the name. Iwaizumi bristles, and suddenly everything feels wrong.

“That better not be your fanclub,” he starts. “Because if you got them to stalk us to Hokkaido, then-”

“That’s not them,” says Oikawa, baffled. “Why would you- How could I even get them?” For a moment Iwaizumi senses offence, which is different. “What, you think I’d want to bring other people here?”

Distantly, Iwaizumi remembers But I guess I’m stuck with you. And then the most terrible thought strikes him, a cold punch to the stomach, the feeling of icy rain. Is- what is between them, what they had been doing- would Oikawa had done that with just anyone he had taken along?

No, he wouldn’t have- You’re my best friend too. Probably less than I make it out to be. I was hoping that would happen. No, the entire… it, had been reserved for Iwaizumi.  

And yet that thought alone seemed to be one picked from the minds of Oikawa’s previous flings. Iwaizumi feels decidedly sick, a flash of antipathy running through him.

 “It sounded like you did,” says Iwaizumi.

“What,” says Oikawa, calmly. “Right, okay. When you’re done doing this, tell me so we can talk like normal instead of cryptic bullshit.”

It’s the last phrase that gets Iwaizumi’s mind to stop rushing. “Aren’t you into that?”

Oikawa gestures wildly at nothing. “What?! What are we even talking about right now?!”

“Cryptic bullshit.” Iwaizumi knows that’s not the right word, but it’s close. He searches furiously for it.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” starts Oikawa, edging on angry, but then-

“Cryptids,” he says. “You’re into that, right?”

It is one of those rare moments where Oikawa is speechless. “Uh,” he says, and then, “Ah?”

“Sorry,” says Iwaizumi. “Sorry. I just remembered.”

Oikawa stares at him some more, smiles unsurely. “Iwaizumi, are you okay?” he asks carefully, pressing the back of his hand against Iwaizumi’s forehead. “You’re warm.”

“No,” Iwaizumi says, feeling strangely light and out of his body. It feels a bit awful and a bit wonderful at once.

“Right,” says Oikawa. “Well, I think we should go home now.”

Oikawa drives on the way back, glancing nervously at Iwaizumi every few minutes. The ride is silent. Iwaizumi feels nauseous. There he’d been, acting silly and squashy like all of the people Oikawa hit on, kissing him and touching him and…

They reach home, and Oikawa takes him to the guest room. Iwaizumi hasn’t slept here after the first night.

“I think you should sleep,” Oikawa says seriously. “Did you bump your head recently?”

“No,” says Iwaizumi, but he climbs into bed regardless. He wants to lay alone for a while.

Oikawa tucks him in, which is- unfamiliar. He leaves the room and comes back after five minutes with hot chocolate, and places it on the nightstand.

“For my Iwa-chan,” he says jokingly, squatting next to the bed. Iwaizumi looks at him.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

Oikawa’s blows his cheeks out comically. “Well, Iwa-chan always takes-”

“First person, please.”

Oikawa groans, and puts his face into the mattress. He lifts back up. “You always… take care of me when I’m in one of my moods. So.”

Iwaizumi considers this, and doesn’t know how to react, but leans forward and brushes his lips against Oikawa’s anyways. Oikawa smiles; he presses the warm cup into Iwaizumi’s hands.

Iwaizumi drinks it slowly, wearily watching Oikawa play with the edge of the duvet with his finger.

“Just come in,” he says after the last sip, opening the duvet and wriggling back. Oikawa crawls in wordlessly, takes his cup and puts it away behind him.

“Hello, Iwa-chan,” he says pleasantly once he’s turned back and tucked the blanket up to his chin.

“Hey yourself,” grunts Iwaizumi. Their faces are close. Iwaizumi’s mouth tastes acidic after the sweetness of the hot chocolate. “Wanna nap?”

“Yes,” agrees Oikawa. He squirms closer, letting his hand touch the skin of Iwaizumi’s hip, holding it lightly. Iwaizumi finds that his hand feels familiar and comforting, warm and solid. It feels foretold.

He realizes briefly and painfully what he has been realizing consistently for the last week: he doesn’t want the hand to go. For this to stop. They had always been touchy, and it will be terrible after to feel this hand and possess the knowledge of what it once led to.

He kisses Oikawa again for good measure, and he worries, is it really alright to be kissing if it’s not for sex? But they’ve been doing that since this started. Kissing for kissing. Touching for touching. It feels like it should be raining right now, but it’s not. Instead it’s sunny outside, and just this side of warm enough, and without his agreement, Iwaizumi’s insides ache again.

“Relax,” says Oikawa, yawning. His eyes are already closed. “I can feel you tensing up.”

Iwaizumi purses his lips. “Quiet,” he mutters, and shuts his own eyes.

***

When he wakes up Oikawa is already up, looking at his phone. Right. Those. He himself had basically forgotten about his phone- there’s very weak signal here- and only used it sparingly to take a photo once in a while.

“What’re you looking at?” he asks by way of indicating his wakefulness. Oikawa doesn’t start, instead turning the screen in Iwaizumi’s directions. It’s a page on “Electroejaculation.”

“Why,” he says. “Why do you look at these things?”

“Hm,” says Oikawa musingly, as if this is a real question. “Well, I clicked on the link by mistake a before we took the drive, and I was just now trying to navigate away, but the signal’s shit so it was taking forever for the page to change. So I figured I’d read it since it’s already here.”

“Right,” says Iwaizumi. “Anyways. What time is it?”

“Six,” says Oikawa offhandedly, his eyes back on his screen. His eyebrows raise. “This is really something.” He chews his lips, then turns to Iwaizumi, considering. “Do you want to try something?”

“What,” says Iwaizumi, because he knows Oikawa couldn’t have snuck a fucking- electric ass probe here, or whatever, unless he really is an alien like he keeps saying. “I don’t want to be electrocuted in my ass, no.”

Oikawa lets out a theatrical sigh. “Not that, Iwa-chan! You’re so thick-headed.” Oikawa’s gaze drops momentarily to his crotch. “Which is fine by me.” Then he laughs, somehow pleased with his awful self.

“Die,” says Iwaizumi, ready to get out of bed and start on dinner.

Oikawa grabs him by the crook of his elbow. “Wait!”

“What?!”

“Can I…” Oikawa trails off, and laughs embarrassedly. He tugs on Iwaizumi’s arm. “Just come over here for a second.”

Iwaizumi does, and Oikawa captures him in a kiss; he raises his eyebrows but returns it, settling slowly back into the bed.

“Is this what we’re doing now?” he asks.

“Well,” says Oikawa, still embarrassed, but less so. “I was thinking. I could finger you?”

Iwaizumi’s mouth drops the slightest bit. “Huh.”

“Do you hate it?”

“No.” That isn’t it. “I just never thought about it.”

Oikawa smiles hopefully. “Do you want to try it? With me?”

“Have you done it before?”

“With someone else, yes.”

Iwaizumi isn’t a jealous person, but the reference to someone else captures him momentarily by surprise. It accompanies a helpless sort of feeling. “Oh.”

“So I know how to do it.” Oikawa places a hand on Iwaizumi’s hip, again. “If you want to…”

Iwaizumi was being honest when he said he had never really thought about it. Though in all truthfulness, he had never given intense thought about doing much anything, with anyone. He considered it momentarily- It supposedly felt good, and Oikawa is practiced.

“Alright,” he says eventually, looking away to hide his blushing.

Oikawa laughs in dulcet tones- still embarrassed himself, but also pushing him gently back on the bed, removing his own and Iwaizumi’s shirt, kissing up his stomach. Iwaizumi strains forward to kiss him, but stops short when he notices Oikawa’s intense stare, flitting all over his face, as if trying to memorize. He feels like the minnows all at once.

Then Oikawa ducks and kisses him, and the moment is over. His shorts and boxers and gradually pulled off, the feeling of air on his body chilly and yet arousing; the feeling of exposure, the openness to it, now sensitivity familiar and warm. Oikawa takes a minute to stroke him, his own hand disappearing underneath him, and Iwaizumi makes a frustrated sort of huffing noise, at the unfairness of it all. Whoever had given Oikawa the right, the jurisdiction to be so disgustingly perfect- well. They had made a big mistake.

“One sec,” Oikawa pants after a perfunctory suck to his cock. “I need to get-”

“Go,” groans Iwaizumi. “For the love of God, quick.”

“Eager!” says Oikawa as he scrambles into the room over. A minute later he is back, holding a tube of what Iwaizumi must assume is lube.

Oikawa goes back to stroking him as Iwaizumi asks, “Why did you bring that here in the first place?”

“For myself,” says Oikawa, coloring. He twists his hand and Iwaizumi’s hips buck into his fist.

“Really?” asks Iwaizumi, the idea stupefying him. “Really?”

Oikawa scowls, removing his hand to squeeze some lube onto his fingers. “Yes! Stop being weird about it.”

“I didn’t mean…” And here again Iwaizumi considers boundaries and what he is and isn’t allowed to say to his best friend. He takes a chance. “It’s just… um, hot.” There are better words for it- arousing, amazing, beautiful- but Iwaizumi can only take so many chances in one day.

“Really?” echoes Oikawa, stilling for a moment. His flush spreads to his collarbones, and he focuses his gaze solely on Iwaizumi’s bottom half. “Ha. Okay.” He pushes his bangs away from his forehead for a moment, as if to ground himself, and presses his other hand towards Iwaizumi.

“Pull your knees up,” he says quietly, nudging at Iwaizumi’s calves. Iwaizumi complies, although not without his fair share of embarrassment- it’s alright, though, it’s just Oikawa, who has embarrassed himself enough to Iwaizumi. Oikawa, who cried just last year over water on Mars. The same Oikawa.

Iwaizumi shakes his head. That is a bad route to think down, sometimes, it made things all too overwhelming.

“I’m going to put one finger in,” says Oikawa carefully. “It might feel weird at first.”

Iwaizumi nods and Oikawa presses in. It isn’t much of a stretch, but it is peculiar. Oikawa goes back to jerking him off at the same time using more lube on his other hand; this makes it better, and he nods, accepting another finger, grunting. Here is where it begins to sting, but Oikawa is slow, and gentle, and languid, which would have felt uncharacteristic a week ago and yet is expected now.

Oikawa smiles unsurely at him, though the glazed look on his face indicates his own pleasure with the scene before him. Iwaizumi gets on his elbows and bites his lip, no longer uncomfortable but waiting for something to feel besides-

And then Oikawa shifts his fingers, and hits something that feels bizarre. Iwaizumi yelps; Oikawa keeps touching it, a triumphant look on his face, and Iwaizumi tries to understand what is happening to his body.

At first it makes him leak profusely, an odd sensation in itself- although interesting- and then it begins to feel heated, bursts of sensation bordering pain. Iwaizumi realizes he’s moaning, something he doesn’t really do- but the sudden jerks of feeling raise the pitch of his voice without warning.

“Shit,” he says, and Oikawa goes, “Well, don’t do that right now!”

“Shut up, shut up,” he moans, and by now he’s thrusting gently into Oikawa’s hand. The thought makes his stomach drop, his cock twitch, and he lets out another moan. “Just-”

Oikawa then makes matter worse, by leaning down and swallowing the first few inches of Iwaizumi’s dick. Iwaizumi swears loudly again, and tries to not buck up. He has no standard to compare to other than the other blowjobs he had received from Oikawa this past week, but it feels amazing as far as he’s concerned- the warmth, the softness, the slick suction. He looks down and his heart beats faster because Oikawa is looking at him doggedly, one hand pumping inside of him, the other guiding his dick into his mouth, and it’s all too much.

“Coming,” he squeaks, and he does.

Oikawa pulls off once he’s done, and swallows, although not without a look of distaste. He draws his fingers out cautiously, and Iwaizumi winces, shifting as he adjusts to the empty feeling.

“Come here,” he beckons drowsily to Oikawa, who is visibly still aroused. Oikawa straddles his midsection, and Iwaizumi drags him closer by the waist. Oikawa holds himself up by the wall behind the head of the bed, and Iwaizumi sucks at him while dipping two fingers in and pistoning. Oikawa lets out a strangled moan, pushing into Iwaizumi’s face and hand as Iwaizumi increases the pace, looking up at Oikawa.

His eyes are screwed up in pleasure, his arm clearly strained, and he’s practically bouncing on Iwaizumi’s face as his thighs tighten around his head. At this moment- at least to Iwaizumi, though he assumes the same can be said for many people in his place- Oikawa is very hot. He reaches one hand down, to hold the back of Iwaizumi’s head, to pull at his hair, and he comes with a low, loud noise.

He slides off Iwaizumi’s face, boneless. Iwaizumi himself is glassy-eyed post orgasm, and the area from his cupid’s bow to the tip of his chin is wet with his slick. Oikawa wipes some of it away with his thumb. He kisses Iwaizumi, and it’s somewhere between chaste and pornographic.

“We need to make dinner,” Iwaizumi eventually says, pushing Oikawa away.

“That’s weird,” says Oikawa happily. He traces a finger down Iwaizumi’s collarbone. “You just ate.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Iwaizumi grunts hotly, and pushes Oikawa off for real.

***

The next day is spent packing slowly, on and off. They go for a swim during the afternoon, but otherwise it is generally quiet between them, something not quite awkward, not quite mournful, but heavy.

“So we’ll be doing the going-off when we get back, right,” Iwaizumi states more than asks while they dry in the sunroom.

Oikawa spins a volleyball on his finger, not looking away. “Yes, yes, I know. I have to go over captain duties with Shigeru-chan, then we go out to dinner, talk about all the fun times we had, blah blah blah, we hug and it’s very touching.” He drops the ball into his palm and sighs, closing his eyes. “How depressing.”

Iwaizumi snorts. “Kyoutani wanted to be captain so badly.”

“Making Mad Dog-chan captain would have been an excellent prank, but unfortunately ultimately an awful idea. He’d tear my face off once if I took it away… and that’s the money maker.”

“You’re so full of shit.”

Oikawa smiles wryly. “You seem to like the money maker just fine.”

“It’s like an avant-garde piece of art. So ugly, you just can’t look away. And then you get attached to it.”

“I hope your romantic life in university goes well,” Oikawa says dryly. “With all these lines that you already have. I can’t imagine someone not begging for a taste.”

Iwaizumi laughs and says, “You seem to like begging for a taste.”

Oikawa, embarrassed, lets out a squawk and attempts to smother his face with a volleyball, but this quickly devolves into wrestling on the ground, which in turn becomes kissing.

Iwaizumi realizes swiftly this is counterproductive, as it will make the… after, more difficult. Although they had never discussed that very much, either. He pulls away and Oikawa smiles, although the childishness fades rapidly from his expression, giving way to something shut off and poised at the sight of Iwaizumi’s graveness.

“What’s up,” Oikawa asks, cautiously.

“I like doing this,” Iwaizumi says, and then immediately swearing in his head. It is so stiff, so awkward. “But I don’t know if we should keep doing it, once we…”

Oikawa sits up, his back turned to Iwaizumi. It’s littered with freckles. “Once we get home, you mean.”

“Yeah. It’s a bad idea.” He searches for the right phrase- It’s too confusing. Or I don’t want other people to see it. Or Let’s not get attached, we’re going to different universities anyways. “I don’t want it to ruin our friendship.”

Oikawa is silent, and he breathes deeply once or twice, before saying very seriously, “I agree.” He cracks his neck and stretches, and Iwaizumi watches the muscles in his back flex. Something he had seen in the locker room, fleetingly. And this Oikawa is that same Oikawa. “Starting tomorrow, none of this.”

Oikawa helps him up and they go back to packing. Iwaizumi drops out of the house to grab snacks and supplies for the long drive back, and remembers on his way home that they never had the stupid s’mores.

“We need to finish these,” he declares when he goes to the kitchen, pulling out the bag of jumbo marshmallows from the now mostly-empty pantry. Oikawa had cleared the kitchen out and swept the general mess up in the last few hours. “They’re all we have left.”

Oikawa lights up at the prospect. “Yes! Great idea! I’ll start the fire!” He scrambles outside and onto the porch before Iwaizumi can so much as blink; and he’s down in the grass and fiddling with a tin of lighter fluid from the shed before Iwaizumi can really discuss the plethora of problems that usually arise when Oikawa mentions “fire” excitedly.

Iwaizumi mostly tends to the grille on the porch, readying the steak they were having for dinner. It’s nearing seven when he’s done and taken the food down on plates to Oikawa, whose fire is now rather huge (but thankfully protected by a mesh cover).

“I’m going to miss dressing like this,” he admits, sitting down on the bench next to Oikawa. “Not having to give a shit.”

Oikawa himself is decked in swim shorts and an open hoodie. “Me too,” he says, playing with the bottom of his zipper. Iwaizumi realizes belatedly that that is his jacket. And just when he thought he was done packing.

They eat, again in quiet, and a chill’s set over by the time they’re done. Oikawa gets out a throw and wraps it around their middles before grabbing the skewers and the marshmallows.

“The chocolate and crackers are next to me,” he informs. “So I’ll make them once you’re done toasting the marshmallows.”

It’s well into night by now, and if he pauses, Iwaizumi can hear everything. The lake, in the distance, the creak of the wooden bench, the sizzle of the fire, the crumpling of the plastic bag of marshmallows, the bit of wind in the tops of the trees. Oikawa is frowning down into his own chest, opening the bag, his silhouette- straight nose, unkempt hair, the freckles on his chin- lit by the glow of the fire. He’s strikingly orange and amber against the dark blue of the backdrop. 

“Whah ah oo’ ooking ah?” asks Oikawa stuffily a few moments later, through what Iwaizumi assumes is at least four marshmallows in his mouth.

“A catastrophe,” sighs Iwaizumi.

They roast the marshmallows, once Oikawa manages to swallow down his mouthful. It’s still quiet, but relaxed; Oikawa’s leaning his head against Iwaizumi’s shoulder, and it’s a tender weight, such a little nothing, and yet something that makes Iwaizumi hurt in his belly, the same ache that followed that haunting thought: The same Oikawa.

Well. It doesn’t stop until tomorrow. Iwaizumi turns and noses Oikawa’s ear, his cheekbone, and Oikawa turns into him and they kiss. It’s slow, slow like how Oikawa is rubbing his feet against Iwaizumi’s calves, slow and soft, and something else that Iwaizumi doesn’t want to think about too much, but it remarks that perhaps Oikawa has been feeling that phantom pain too.

Oikawa pulls away, dropping one last kiss on the corner of Iwaizumi’s mouth, before tsk-ing. “My marshmallow’s on fire,” he chastises, as if that is somehow Iwaizumi’s fault.

He pulls it close , blows it off, and peels off the crispy layer, popping the rest of it in his mouth. Iwaizumi takes the time to construct his into a s’more. They go through the rest of the bag in a similar manner, and after Oikawa douses the fire with water from the lake.

“I’m going to need this back,” Iwaizumi says, tugging at the hem of Oikawa’s jacket. Oikawa smiles and nods, distracted. He is distracted for the rest of the night, until they fall into bed together, but even there an agreement passes wordlessly between them to eschew all other activities but sleep.

“Goodnight,” says Oikawa, placing his hand over Iwaizumi’s, a cursory clasp quickly drawn away.

“Night,” Iwaizumi grunts. He waits, but Oikawa fails to settle his back into Iwaizumi’s chest.

Probably for the better, Iwaizumi thinks.

**

They wake up early the next day, and Iwaizumi opts to drive, this time. Oikawa says little to this. In fact, he rather seems rather averted to speech, choosing to sleep through the majority of the Iwaizumi’s turn at the wheel.

Iwaizumi would be perfectly fine with this, if it weren’t for the inopportune return of that earlier, nearly-forgotten stiffness around Oikawa. The sense that something was just this bit off.

They stop at a gas station mid-way to switch off, and Oikawa wakes up, dazed and unfocused. Iwaizumi leans in, to hold muss Oikawa’s hair, but when he does he finds his hand lingering on his face. It feels so familiar. Oikawa, blinking into comprehension, shifts away.

“Sorry,” smiles Oikawa. “But you’ll ruin my hair, Iwa-chan.”

“Right.” Oikawa had taken the care to style it this morning. Your turn,” Iwaizumi says, unsurely. “Um. Driving.”

Oikawa stretches, his shirt pulling up, and Iwaizumi remembers looking at that sliver of skin a whole two weeks ago and not- not really understanding, and now he is more than well-acquainted with that part of Oikawa.

It strikes him, suddenly, that they’re going to have to stand in front of their kouhais and pray that no one will realize what transpired during their trip. He worries if it’s obvious, a florescent marker on his skin. This is a ridiculous thought, but he suspects Kunimi will catch on, marker or not.

They get back to Iwaizumi’s house by five, and both of them are exhausted. Iwaizumi’s mother crowds both of them, asking about the drive, and my, how dark both of you have gotten, have you been using sunscreen? Oikawa smiles kindly at her, praising her highlights and expressing sadness that he’d miss her cooking once he went off to college. Iwaizumi pauses, confused, and then snorts. Right. Brown-nosing was Oikawa’s thing.

“You can sleep over,” Iwaizumi tells him, once they get his share of the bags into the house. Oikawa has the telltale purple underneath his eyes that say he hasn’t slept as much as Iwaizumi thought during the ride back, or perhaps even the night before.

“I’m fine,” says Oikawa, looking embarrassed. “I don’t want to be a burden.”

“When have you ever cared about that?” Iwaizumi asks, frowning.

Oikawa blanches. “Sorry. I just think we should spend some time apart, you know?”

Iwaizumi is not expecting this. “Alright,” he says, slowly, turning the idea over in his head. That made sense. Time to adjust to space without each other. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Sure,” says Oikawa. He winks at Iwaizumi. “Don’t miss me too much!”

And with that, he leaves, hugging Iwaizumi’s mother and promising to visit later.

“Is something going on with him?” asks Iwaizumi-san worriedly, turning back to her son. “He seems sad. Did you fight?”

“No,” says Iwaizumi. “He’s just being weird, like he always is.”

Iwaizumi-san purses her lips. “Hajime…”

“We just spent too much time together,” insists Iwaizumi. “Don’t worry about it.”

***

Too little time is Oikawa’s excuse over text the next day, when he realizes he has a lot of packing left to do with respect to moving off to university.  Iwaizumi doesn’t respond, because he knows he isn’t meant to. He handles his own packing, watches TV, and goes through the orientation mail Waseda has left for him.

And then the next day Oikawa has to babysit Takeru, which he usually invites Iwaizumi over to help with.  But apparently Takeru is particularly impertinent today. So Oikawa spares Iwaizumi the effort. Iwaizumi helps his mother with errands and considers texting Hanamaki and Mastukawa, but decides against it at the last moment. He needs a few days to put up a believable front.

The next day Oikawa and him do meet, albeit accidentally, at the gym. This is the first time Iwaizumi has ever accidentally met his best friend somewhere. Oikawa exclaims pleased surprise, but at Iwaizumi’s prolonged stare, has the decency to assume chagrin.

“Sorry, Iwa-chan,” says Oikawa. “I didn’t think you’d be free today, and I wanted some time alone…”

Iwaizumi can respect that much. “Don’t go too hard,” he reminds. “And do your stretches before. And after. If your knee starts hurting-”

“Okay, Iwa-Kaa-chan,” says Oikawa, rolling his eyes.

“Call me your mother again, and I’ll tell your real mom about what really happened to her perfume.”

“Iwa-chan wouldn’t,” Oikawa says. Though he looks just irresolute enough.

Iwaizumi cracks his neck, and ignores the tightness in his stomach, reflected in Oikawa’s stance. “I’m going to go do strength training now. Call me if you need me.”

Oikawa nods and heads towards the treadmills, and Iwaizumi doesn’t see him for the rest of the time there. At one point, he considers asking Oikawa to spot him, but dismisses the thought. If Oikawa wants to be alone, Iwaizumi has little business to interfere.

Iwaizumi texts him the next afternoon, after spending an hour moping on his bed. Which is odd, because he decidedly doesn’t mope.

To: Asskawa, From: You

are you free tonight?

From: Asskawa, To: You

 umm i guess.. for what though?

 

Iwaizumi did not think he would get this far. He doesn’t even have a good answer.

 

To: Asskawa, From: You

no reason. i thought you had a documentary you wanted to show me

From: Asskawa, To: You

Lol dw abt it. i know you hate them ill find someone else!!

To: Asskawa, From: You

ok

From: Asskawa, To: You

? Iwa-chan?

To: Asskawa, From: You

Ill see you at the last reunion tomorrow then?

From: Asskawa, To: You

yea

 

He shuts his phone. Coward. He is a coward. It’s been nearly three weeks and Iwaizumi cannot muster the strength to ask Oikawa what’s wrong. He usually never backs away from such things, but it was because it was in relation to him that he drew away. And now he’ll spend tonight feeling like he’s ill, or that the bed’s too cold, or something terribly disgusting and pathetic along those lines. All because he can’t talk to Oikawa.

He certainly had had no problem talking to Oikawa at the lakehouse. Or even before that. Here, in this moment, he is plagued by the sick realization that he had been quite fine having sex with his best friend, all the while refusing to acknowledge the degree of wrongness with the entire affair.

He turns into his side and punches the pillow. That isn’t fair; if he is at fault, so is Oikawa, who skirts around discussion just the same. As if Iwaizumi can always be the bigger one. That isn’t fair. That isn’t fair. If Iwaizumi is the weak one, Oikawa is a feeble bug. Fitting, because of how much of a pest he is.

Iwaizumi considers that maybe he’s getting played for a fool. He knows well by now how fond Oikawa is of jilting by now, and he’s been witness to enough aftermaths to know the basic outline. Oikawa will approach, Oikawa will attain interest, Oikawa will lose interest, and out of the sick combination of pusillanimity and what one would hope is sympathy, Oikawa will avoid, flee, and abscond until said jilt-victim forgets about him.

Downstairs, he hears his mother bustling in the kitchen. He turns back, and stares at the ceiling.

In these situations Iwaizumi had always been the thing Oikawa had hung behind. Him and the act of volleyball. But if Iwaizumi is to assume he is now the victim, well, Oikawa has another thing coming.

First in that he now has little to hide behind. Second in that Iwaizumi doubts even Oikawa is thick enough to believe that Iwaizumi would forget him, given their friendship; and third in that Iwaizumi is certain- rather certain- that Oikawa never attained his interest in the way he thought. There are no feelings beyond a friendly affection and mutual, solely physical attraction.

So there is nothing to worry about.

***

Even though this means there is nothing to worry about, Iwaizumi cannot rid himself of the sickness he felt earlier, in the town. It is one thing to realize that Oikawa had other partners- something Iwaizumi knows very well- but another to realize that he, as his best friend, could be just as disposable as those others.

It disturbs Iwaizumi enough that he decides it cannot be true. He doesn’t want to think too much about why it cannot be true, but he feels as if- it can’t.

At noon his door rings. His mom is out, so he trudges downstairs to open the door.

“Did you miss us?” asks Hanamaki, walking in with Matsukawa, who flicks Iwaizumi in the ear.

“Okay,” says Iwaizumi, into the empty doorway. He processes what is happening, and closes the door. “No.”

“What’s this?” says Matsukawa, snickering. He settles into the couch as Hanamaki drops down too. “Iwaizumi-san is denying he has feelings yet again inside that rock-hard exterior?”

“Stop referring to me in the third person.”

“Speaking of that,” says Hanamaki, “Where is he?”

 “Who?” he asks. He winces before it’s even out of his mouth; how unbelievable it sounds.

A silence stretches. “Why are you guys here?” Iwaizumi eventually gets out. He ignores the look Hanamaki and Matsukawa share.

“As you know,” starts Hanamaki.

“-We have our last reunion tonight-” Matsukawa picks up.

“-And we haven’t seen you, dearest, for almost the last month-”

“-So we thought we’d catch up before we go to Tsukasa Higashiguchi for dinner-”

“-But unfortunately, it seems like Oikawa-san is mysteriously absent from your abode-”

“-Which leads us to question why that would be,” finishes Matsukawa.

Iwaizumi stares at them, his mouth a hard line. “You guys are an awful duo.”

Matsukawa and Hanamaki share another look. “That’s rich, from you, Iwaizumi-san,” says Hanamaki.

Iwaizumi accepts defeat and goes to the kitchen to fetch snacks. They’ve always been weird about him and Oikawa. Before, it had simply been a menace, one that Oikawa liked to capitalize on, to tease Iwaizumi in public as was his wont. He gnaws at his lip, worrying if they knew something, if- Oikawa had been telling them things that Iwaizumi wasn’t privy to.

“Are you okay?” Matsukawa asks, frowning at Iwaizumi as he places the bowls of chips down. “We were joking. Is something wrong?”

Iwaizumi stands very still. “I don’t know,” he says. It’s the closest he comes to a verbal admission of the problem between him and Oikawa. “Oikawa’s been distant.”

“He’s always like that,” says Hanamaki, puzzled. “What’s his deal now?”

“Don’t you always go in and save him out of his funk?” adds Matsukawa.

So one would think. Iwaizumi sits on the chair opposite them, staring into the grain of the table. “We’re going to college soon,” he says by way of explanation.

 “Oh,” says Hanamaki. “Right. You guys still haven’t worked that out?”

“We grew up together,” growls Iwaizumi. “How’re we supposed to work out- living more than ten miles from each other?”

“Woah, tiger,” says Matsukawa, raising his hands protectively. He shares a brief look with Hanamaki, and nods.

“Iwaizumi-san,” Hanamaki says. He’s a tad more serious.  “You realize that you and Oikawa might be too close?” He gives Iwaizumi a look. “Maybe too close for you to understand…”

“Understand what,” he says flatly.

“Understand that maybe you give him too much credit.”

“He’s our friend too,” reassures Matsukawa. “But you let him get away with too much. You do too much for him.”

“That’s…” says Iwaizumi. “He’s like that.”

“It’s not right for you to have to fix every little thing wrong with him. To fix all of your fights.”

That isn’t fair. That isn’t fair. “I don’t mind.”

“Yes, you do,” says Hanamaki. “He needs to learn to stand on his own. How will he grow with you always helicoptering?”

Iwaizumi falls silent.

“He’s not going to stop being your friend if you let him be,” Mastukawa says gently. “He has to figure things out himself.” He smiles and reaches over, clasping Iwaizumi on his shoulder, smiling reassuringly. “And maybe you’ll have time to figure things out yourself.”

Iwaizumi feels his eyes water. “Thanks,” he says, but it sounds so inadequate.

“Oh my god,” says Hanamaki, breathless.  “Matsukawa, you broke him.”

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi barks, but it comes out wobbly. He wipes his eyes. He just appreciates his friends, who he will be leaving behind.

“You’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen,” coos Hanamaki. He and Matsukawa both get up and hug-wrestle him to the ground, and Iwaizumi fails to hold back a laugh. 

“It’s going to be okay,” Matsukawa says, giving him a noogie. “Trust us.”

Hanamaki and Mastukawa are both dressed well, which reminds Iwaizumi of his need to change himself. He goes upstairs to dress, choosing something a bit more formal than usual- a button up and jeans. He looks for a jacket to wear, and can’t find it. It dawns on him that it’s the one Oikawa was wearing the night before they left. He probably forgot to return it.

As he comes out, he can hear Matsukawa and Hanamaki speaking lowly downstairs. He pauses to eavesdrop.

“I’ve never seen him so lost,” says Hanamaki, sotto voce. “Do you think…”

“Do you?” replies Matsukawa. “That’d make things more complicated between them.”

A long pause. “I don’t know anymore. I just want him to be okay.”

“Which one?”

“Both. But Iwaizumi, if I have to choose.”

Iwaizumi resumes walking downstairs, and Matsukawa and Hanamaki are both looking at their phones casually. 

They all play video games for a few hours, and discuss their plans for another before it’s time to leave. Iwaizumi feels slightly better, knowing that he still has other people besides Oikawa. Matsukawa is going to Yokohama, and Hanamaki is going to Ochanomizu, so they’re all going to be in Tokyo, at least.

“Hey,” says Mastukawa, once they’re in the car and on the way to pick up Kunimi and Kindaichi (Oikawa is chaperoning Kentarou, Yahaba, and Watari instead). “Just a quick question. What’s the status of Oikawa’s virginity?”

Iwaizumi nearly slams the break. “What?”

“Just wondering,” says Matsukawa. “Can’t a boy wonder these days?”

“You’re all freaks,” Iwaizumi seethes. He hopes his face is red from apparent anger, and not panic. “And as far as I’ve heard, he’s- he’s had partners, in the past.”

“What kind of partners?” goads Hanamaki from the back.

“Sexual partners,” Iwaizumi gets out between clenched teeth. “Ask me anymore inane questions and I’ll throw you out.”

“Tch,” goes Matsukawa. “I suppose you won’t tell us of your status, then?”

“You supposed right,” says Iwaizumi.

“Chicken,” sniffs Hanamaki from the back.

“If you’re so eager to talk about it, what about you two?” Iwaizumi asks, glaring at the road. “I don’t hear anyone else eager to discuss.”

This shuts both of them up very quickly.

“Did I hit a nerve?” Iwaizumi says, smirking. He gets silence as a response. “Good. Keep this up when we get the first years in.”

Kunimi and Kindaichi join their little party five minutes later. Kindaichi appears awkward and nervous, while Kunimi holds his signature calm.

“How are you?” asks Iwaizumi for politeness’s sake. Kunimi smiles mildly and responds something along the lines of good, but Kindaichi squeaks something unintelligible before sinking further into his seat. Kunimi rolls his eyes.

They reach the restaurant as it starts to get dark inside. Oikawa is out by the front, loitering with Kentarou, Yahaba, and Watari. He’s also in a button up, the arms rolled up. His hair is gelled.

“Iwa-chan!” he says happily, at the sight of everyone approaching. “And crew,” he adds, looking back at the rest of them. “We’ve been waiting for ages. You’re all so dreadfully slow, but Iwa-chan’s driving leaves much to be desired, I expect.”

“We’ve been here for only two minutes,” Kentarou says, frowning and confused.

“ANY-ways,” Oikawa says over him, still smiling. “Let’s go inside.”

They sit by year, generally, with all the third years on one end, and all the second and first years on the other.

“I’m ordering steak, rice, and udon for everyone,” Oikawa announces. He beckons a waitress and relays this quickly. Iwaizumi tries to study him, to see if he’s in the same state as himself. Oikawa’s still a tad freckled, his smile perfectly charming and charismatic towards the waitress, his shirt fitting him well. His hair is shorter from the back- he probably got the full cut, like he wanted.

Iwaizumi looks away. Oikawa seems completely fine.

“How’s everyone been?” Oikawa asks, turning back to the table. “Any big developments?”

“I worked on my spikes,” offers Kindaichi clumsily. He glances across the table. “Kunimi-san helped me.”

“That’s good,” says Iwaizumi. Kindaichi nods quickly, looking into his empty plate.

“I got a puppy,” Kentarou mutters. He’s slouched in his seat with his arms crossed. He also looks a bit discomfited.

Oikawa gasps. “Mad Dog-chan got a baby!”

“His name is Mako. He’s really stronger. Stronger than any other dog.” Kentarou pauses, and itches his cheek with one finger. “And… he’s cuddly too.”

Yahaba reaches over and nudges him playfully in the shoulder, and Kentarou smiles at him. Ah. So that had luckily not developed into any animosity.

They eventually divide into talking quietly among their years.

“So,” says Hanamaki. “How was the big honeymoon? Lots of boinking?”

“Lots,” laughs Oikawa vaguely, arranging his cutlery. “I thought Iwaizumi would have told you all about it by now,” He glances at Iwaizumi. “You didn’t mention anything?”

“I told them whatever, they’re just nosy,” Iwaizumi says. He forgot how obnoxious Oikawa can be, when he plays dumb. 

“It was nice,” Oikawa says, shrugging. “I got a lot of bug bites.”

“And freckles,” notes Matsukawa.

Oikawa sticks out his tongue. “That too. But it was decent… got some use out of that place, before we sold it for good.”

“That’s all?” Hanamaki says, disappointed. “Between you and Iwaizumi, it sounds like the two of you drove for ten hours just to sit in a house and swim all day, for two weeks.”

“Sounds about right,” says Oikawa. “Ah, look, our food is coming.”

They dig in and discuss irrelevant things for a while- Love Live, that new K-Pop group Matsukawa is growing obsessed with, Hanamaki’s brush with a rabid squirrel. The usual.

All the while Iwaizumi must try and not squirm obviously in his seat. He knows he needs to have a talk with Oikawa- a Talk, with a capital T- tonight, or, in the next few days, because after they’ll be too busy with moving to Tokyo and university.

“Any new flames?” Matsukawa eventually asks Oikawa.

Oikawa dabs his face with a napkin. “No point,” he says. “With university and everything. I have to keep myself free for that ride.”

“Gross,” says Iwaizumi.

“I agree with Iwaizumi-san,” says Hanamaki. “Why do you phrase things so… pervert-y?”

“Forgive me for offending your delicate sensibilities,” Oikawa breezes. “Once you two start getting ass, then we can talk like adults.”

Mastukawa grimaces. “That sentence is a contradiction.”

“So Iwaizumi is a virgin,” says Hanamaki.

Oikawa raises his eyebrows. “Is he?”

“Well, he wouldn’t tell us in the car when we asked. But you implied he’s never, ahem, gotten ass. So, by deduction-”

“Yes, yes,” says Oikawa, waving his hand. “I get it.” He reaches over one hand to pinch Iwaizumi on his cheek, the first time they’ve touched since the gas station. “Iwa-chan’s plight is quite evident to anyone who cares to look!”

“Get off of me,” Iwaizumi mutters, irritated.

“Shy, Iwa-chan?” wheedles Oikawa. “Iwa-chan is always so afraid of the limelight. I can’t understand why.”

“You seriously piss me off,” Iwaizumi growls, slapping Oikawa’s hand away. A hand that’s lain on his hip. “We aren’t all built for attention, like you.”

Oikawa retracts his hand and smiles tightly. “I guess that’s true.”

“How’s Kaori?” asks Matsukawa asks slowly, looking between them, but addressing Iwaizumi. Iwaizumi is not lucky enough to miss seeing Hanamaki shaking his head desperately.

 “I don’t know,” he forces out.

“That didn’t pan out?”

Oikawa whistles a downward note. “Something of a disaster for Iwa-chan.”

“Stop calling me that,” Iwaizumi snaps. That I’d purposely hurt you, I’d hate that. “And that was your fault.”

Hanamaki clears his throat. “Guys,” he starts.

“Was not!” insists Oikawa, like he’s ignorant. He’s exceptional at playing a part. “Iwa-chan’s just jealous.”

Guys.”

“You’ve always been jealous of me,” Oikawa says lightly, but something heavy lies beneath. “Right, Iwa-chan?”

You think I haven’t seen you? How you talk? You think you haven’t hurt me? “What’s there to be jealous of?” Iwaizumi says, staring straight at him. “Remind me.”

Oikawa smiles, a sign that he’s about to delve into new levels of cruelty, but Hanamaki grips him by the wrist. “Stop,” he says with an air of finality. “This is a restaurant.”

“A holy place,” adds Matsukawa.

“Right,” amends Oikawa, smoothing out his shirt. “I have an announcement to make, anyways. Yahaba-chan!”

The table quiets. “Yahaba-chan,” says Oikawa. “I have been graced this past year with the position of being a captain. It has been difficult but rewarding. And now, it is your turn to take on this role for Seijou. Can you handle it?”

“Yes, Oikawa-san,” says Yahaba seriously. “I will do my best to continue your hard work.”

Oikawa smiles, and this time, it’s something not so obviously plastic. “That’s all I ask for.” He picks up his glass. “Cheers.”

They finish their meal in relative peace, and as is tradition, the third years cover this one. Iwaizumi is happy, happy for his kouhais, but still feeling something akin to embarrassment for being duped. It had been easy to believe Oikawa was new and soft during the trip, and now it is rapidly becoming easier to remember what he is like the majority of their relationship prior.

Iwaizumi feels tired when they get back out to the parking lot, which Hanamaki notices immediately. “I’ll drive,” he says. “You go in Oikawa’s car.”

“Why would I do that?” asks Iwaizumi. “Why would I leave my own car?”

“Because your car seats five and we need to take Yahaba this time since he technically lives closer to you. Don’t worry, I’ll drive everyone home safe, and then leave your car in your driveway. Then I drive home. Okay?”

Iwaizumi squints at this. “No. What?”

“I’m glad that’s settled,” says Hanamaki. He plucks the keys from Iwaizumi’s hand. He leans in quickly and says, under his breath, “Talk to him. But don’t just give in to what he wants. Okay?”

Iwaizumi has no time to protest, and before he knows it he’s in the front seat next to a poker-faced Oikawa. Yabaha and Kentarou, sensing the tension, speak in hushed tones in the back.

“Iwa-chan, you are my eternal burden,” Oikawa sighs, starting up the car. This is an ironic thing to say. The ride back is the same degree of stiff all the way through.

When Yahaba leaves, he bows slightly towards Oikawa from outside the window. “Thank you for working as hard as you have, Captain,” he says gravely. “I know I speak for the team when I say we all admire what you have done.”

“Thank you,” says Oikawa in return. He looks ambiguously pained. “I appreciate that. Good luck with third year and…” he struggles with what he wants to say. “Text me, if you need any help.”

Yahaba nods, and with that, he is gone.

Next is Kentarou. When he leaves the car a dog is there to greet him, a fluffy little thing jumping on his knees. “Mako,” he says, clearly pleased. He picks the puppy up, placing him on his chest. “Mako-chan always waits for me before going to bed.”

He turns, now, to Oikawa. “I was angry,” he says, “When you made Yahaba captain and not me. I thought, I’m stronger than him. And I score more points than him. Why is he captain?” He scratches the back of Mako’s ear. “So I got Makoto to distract me. The strongest dog always wins, right?

“But… I realize why Yahaba is captain. He’s a better leader. He understands the game more than me, and he’s always calm. I’m not calm.” He furrows his brow, thoughtful. “So now I’m training Mako-chan to be smart and calm. If he can be trained to be like that, then I can also be like that. Even if I’m not captain. If it’s for the team, then that is good enough.”

“Kentarou-san,” says Oikawa. Iwaizumi cannot read much into his tone, but sense some awe. “I’m proud of you.”

Kentarou nods, and looks behind, at Iwaizumi, waiting.

“Kyoutani,” Iwaizumi says. “You have grown a lot this year. In volleyball- in many things, actually- what matters is strength, and skills, and sense, yes. But what also matters is the ability to work with a team. You can do that now. I know it was difficult for you to learn how to do it, but you did it anyways. Don’t doubt yourself. I believe in you.”

Kentarou nods at this too, although quicker, and somewhat pink in the face. “Thank you, Iwaizumi-senpai.” He, too, then leaves.

“Why does every kouhai on our team have a crush on you?” Oikawa grumbles, backing out of Kentarou’s driveway. Iwaizumi lets out a noncommittal sound.

He closes his eyes for the rest of the trip, truly tired, but when the car shudders to a stop he realizes they’re at Oikawa’s.

“Shittykawa,” he says. “We’re at your house. You need to drop me to my house.”

“Oh,” says Oikawa. “I forgot.” He scratches his forehead, considering something on the dashboard. “I suppose you wouldn’t mind walking? I only have enough gas left to get to a gas station.”

“Idiot,” says Iwaizumi. He has already finished composing a text to his mother confirming a sleepover at Oikawa’s.  He could technically walk- it’s a little less than a mile- but he senses Hanamaki will beat him bloody if he doesn’t attempt a talk. “I’ll just sleep over.”

They get into the house and Oikawa’s room without much spoken between them. Iwaizumi wears the pajamas he leaves over for occasions such as these, and spots his jacket in a pile by Oikawa’s desk.

“Were you planning on giving this back?” Iwaizumi complains, grabbing it to take tomorrow. Oikawa shuts off the lights, but the moonlight is strong enough that Iwaizumi can still see the silhouettes of everything in the room.

Oikawa doesn’t spare him a look, changing into his own shirt. “What, that ugly thing?”

“You’re the one who took it from me to wear.”

“Out of little choice,” Oikawa says. “Shit, I forget where we keep the extra futon.”

This isn’t right. “We never use the extra futon,” says Iwaizumi.

Oikawa, still not looking at him, says, “I don’t think sharing is a good idea.”

This is as good a time as any. “We need to talk.”

He watches Oikawa shift his weight from one foot to another, before finally turning around to look him in the eye. Iwaizumi hates that look in his eyes- cut off, bored, unimpressed. “Talk about what?”

“You’ve been avoiding me. You were avoiding me before the trip, and then you stopped avoiding me, but now you’re doing it again. I can’t keep doing this- being the one who comes back to figure out your newest problem. You need to fucking talk to me.”

“Am I just a problem to you?” Oikawa says softly. In the darkness, his features are nondescript.

Iwaizumi clicks his tongue. “Don’t try that. You know I don’t think that.” He crosses his arms. “If we aren’t going to the same school anymore, you need to learn how to reach out to me. And stop being so -”

“So what?”

“Fucking rude. In public. All to try to take out some anger on me, which I don’t even understand in the first place. You always act immature. And fake.”

“That’s sort of my thing,” Oikawa comments. “If you haven’t noticed by now.”

“You have to stop it. You can’t be like that, all the time. You need to learn how to control yourself, or you’ll have no one to look out for you.”

“Fuck off,” Oikawa says. Finally, a real reaction. Iwaizumi treks on.

“It’s bad for you, too, to be like this. I want you to be able to survive on your own. I don’t want to worry about you all the time, when I’m in class. I can’t do that anymore.”

“Fine.”

“You’ll try to stop?”

“No.” Oikawa lets out a scoff. “Who said I need you to look after me? Who said I need you at all?”

Iwaizumi finds this hardly compelling as an argument, as Oikawa is the one who clings like no other, not him. He usually isn’t deeply wounded by this behavior from Oikawa, but he had gotten soft, and let his defenses down as of late, and for a moment it does twist violently in his gut. How easily Oikawa speaks of leaving their friendship whenever it serves his argument.

He considers his next words very carefully, because he can be Oikawa too. He stands up.

“Oikawa,” he says, slowly. “Think for a second. Besides your parents, your sister- besides your family. If something happens to you, think about who’s going to care. Count them.”

Oikawa ducks his head and is stock still. He can’t even hear him breathe.

“How many?” asks Iwaizumi. “How many people are waiting for you?”

“Unlike you, I’m liked,” Oikawa says smoothly, quietly. “Unlike you, I’m charming. So Iwa-chan will have to try harder than that.”

Iwaizumi laughs, a short thing. “You think because you can fake being cute for- what- eight hours at school, you can get away with being a shit every other hour of the day?” He turns towards the door. “The people you’ve hurt are the people who know you best. You can genuinely be liked by people who don’t know you, Oikawa.”

He leaves in the wake of Oikawa’s silence. The walk home is long, and a gust blows through, a sprinkle of the fall approaching, before settling back into the muggy heat.

Iwaizumi does not look at the sky, but the sidewalk is just bright enough that he knows the moon is out.

**

He supposes the playing field is now somewhat level.

He had been waiting to say something along those lines for a while; he assumes that most people who know  Oikawa, who aren’t fawning over him, and aren’t his direct family, have also wanted to say that. He knows it’s generally bad form to tell your best friend he’s repulsive, and actually mean it, but Iwaizumi’s continued relationship with said friend is bad form as well.

He considers the boxes sitting by the base of his bed. Inside are sundry items for his dorm- a lamp, books, sheets, posters. There are numerous pictures of him and Oikawa- one where he’s pushing Oikawa into the public pool, one where Oikawa is eating Iwaizumi’s ice-cream out of the cone in his hand, and three of Seijou through the three years they’ve been on the team. In the last one, Oikawa stands tall, smiling perfectly. From the distance, his eyes look even. He has no dark circles.

Iwaizumi is still under the conviction that they will remain friends after this, because they will. He can’t consider a reality without Oikawa there, in some way or another. Being annoying. Being soft.

Later he goes back to hanging out with Matsukawa and Hanamaki. By the guilty look on their faces, he can tell they have also been avoiding Oikawa.

“He needs to sort himself out,” Hanamaki explains over a milkshake. “He’s amazing. You know he’s talented, and good-looking, and likable, and all that. But his personality’s something out of the gutter. He can’t behave like a child, anymore.”

Matsukawa nods, pertinacious. “Sometimes the best wake-up call is a fallout.”

Iwaizumi does not want a fallout.

He runs into Kaori at the park the next day, while he’s jogging. They- him and Oikawa, as in- have been home for officially a week, and have scarcely met besides yesterday night and at the gym. It’s a far cry from the week before this one. Feeling somewhat lonely, he waves at Kaori.

She waves back and signals him over. Her hair is wheat-colored near the tips, fading into brown the closer to her scalp. He always liked the- what is it called, ombré. And she’s wearing short, pink, dolphin shorts. His weakness.

 “You look healthy,” she mentions, at the sight of his dark skin. “Where did you go?”

“You know Oikawa?” he asks, partly to see her reaction. “He has a lakehouse. We were there for a few weeks. How’ve you been?”

“A lakehouse!” she exclaims, ignoring the second half. He doesn’t see anything tell-tale on her face. “With Oikawa-san!”

“Yes. He’s a handful, but the swimming was great.”

She laughs. “I can only imagine. How is he?”

Iwaizumi pretends to think. “Unbearable.”

She snorts, bending down to pet her own dog. Her legs are cream-colored and long underneath the shorts. “You know, he asked me out?”

“No,” he lies. “Really?”

“It’s a funny story.” She self-consciously tugs her hair, and glances up. “I was going to ask you out, and he came out of nowhere and asked me out instead. He’s a bit of a creep.”

“Preaching to the choir.”

“You’d think different, right? He’s so confident, and talks so well, but I saw him at a game the other day… he tried to step on a first-year’s fingers from the other team. ” She stands back up. “I don’t meant to put you in an awkward situation, but I really don’t understand how you can be friends with such a stuck-up guy.”

“He has his moments,” Iwaizumi says. He shrugs. “But I don’t know sometimes, either.”

“He certainly makes you two sound close, with that Iwa-chan thing.” She mimics his nasality perfectly. Iwaizumi doesn’t mind it the same way, when she says it. “But you two aren’t on first name bases?”

She’s wearing light lip gloss that smells like strawberry. He shakes his head. “Oikawa and I, we grew up together. He’s my best friend. But that’s never come up. He’d probably call me something like Ha-chan… I’d hate that. He’s already ruined my last name.”

Kaori giggles. “Ha-chan doesn’t really suit you, no.”

Iwaizumi says, “If you’re free, though- and still interested- maybe you’d want to hang out?” Kaori has a good head on her shoulders, and she’s funny, and not a nuisance. He’s still a bit fascinated by her.

However, upon hearing this, Kaori sobers up some. “I don’t know- if that’s what’s best, now. For a lot of reasons- don’t get me wrong, you’re handsome-” and here she sweeps her gaze up and down his body, and he feels terribly exposed, warmth in the tips of his ears- “-and sweet, but you know, university. And I don’t think that’s what you want, either. A date, as in.”

“Don’t I?” he wonders aloud. He sounds confused to himself.

“Well, maybe not yet. Tell you what- we can hang out sometime next week, if you want, and if you still want it to be a date, it’ll be a date. Sound good?”

He nods, still puzzled, but flashes her what he hopes is a friendly smile. “I need to get back to my jog, then. See you, Kaori-san.”

“Bye!” she says as he begins to run away. “Send Oikawa-san my regards!”

This is a weird thing to say, because he doesn’t think he mentioned talking to Oikawa soon, but after his shower at home his phone buzzes. It’s a text from Oikawa reading, “You should come over. I’m ready to talk.”

**

He isn’t prepared for Oikawa when he visits him again, during twilight. His mother is in the foyer, and she pinches his cheeks like her son does, and sends him up to see Oikawa sprawled on the bed, shirtless and glossing through a magazine.

Iwaizumi clears his throat. “Oikawa.”

Oikawa glances up. He scrutinizes Iwaizumi’s expression. “Oh. You’re here.” He pats the space next to him. “Sit.”

Oikawa’s body is the same degree of lithe and golden brown as it was when Iwaizumi last saw him shirtless. “Okay,” he says, and sets himself down awkwardly, his back ramrod straight. “What do you need to say?”

Oikawa sits up and leans his entire side against Iwaizumi, their arms pressed up against each other. The skin to skin contact is warm and electric, and Iwaizumi feels a familiar heat that he rushes to repress. He wants to touch Oikawa and be touched, to feel the sinew of his skin underneath his fingers, to be pressed into the bed. These feelings are foreign to his current distaste for Oikawa. It makes the heat gather in his forehead.

“I was thinking about what you said,” Oikawa says evenly. He trails his hand down Iwaizumi’s arm. “I think…”

“You think?” asks Iwaizumi, turning to study him. Their faces are close.

“I think you’re right,” he says, smiling with eyes lidded, and, in the proximity of their faces, Iwaizumi isn’t sure who lunges first to kiss, although he is conscious of Oikawa throwing his arms around his shoulders, a tight embrace.

He cannot tell what is happening, or what purpose, but is grounded by the amalgam of sensations Oikawa always incites in him. Oikawa is laughing and moaning into the kiss, shifting and pulling so that he lies underneath Iwaizumi. Iwaizumi pulls away to survey him and Oikawa’s hair is splayed across the pillow, his lips slightly swollen, his smirk plastered triumphantly across his face. He looks positively debauched, a reprobate unhinged.

Iwaizumi pulls away, turns, and squeezes his eyes. This is all wrong. “Oikawa, stop.”

“What’s wrong?” Oikawa asks.  Iwaizumi opens his eyes to see Oikawa’s face is completely neutral, blank, but his voice transgresses. “Is that not what you wanted? For me to want you?”

Iwaizumi makes a strangled noise. “In what world was what I said that!?”

“But you do want me,” says Oikawa. He looks indifferent and superior, dragging a finger down his collarbone, down his chest. “Why don’t you just take what you can get?”

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi pleads. He wishes, for the umpteenth time, that they could stop playing games. “That’s not the point. I didn’t want that. I don’t want- this.”

For the first time, steel enters Oikawa’s voice. “So what do you want, Iwaizumi?” He, too, wrenches himself up, sneering. “You want me to need you, you want me to be happy you’re leaving, you want me to not care about you, you want me to be perfect and nice when you know that’s not me.” He gets off the bed, a vicious expression on his face. “So I’m sorry, if I don’t care anymore about what you want.”

For a moment, Iwaizumi is transported back to the beginning of all of this, when he was starting to feel surely the awkwardness that followed Oikawa. How had they gotten here?

“I want you to stop making excuses for hurting others,” Iwaizumi says quietly. “I want you to stop pretending to be someone, and then someone else, and then someone else. You always come running to me whenever you want, whatever, genuine interaction, and I can’t be there for you now, like how I have been. That’s what I want.” He rubs his nose. “For you to be fucking healthy, and safe, because you’re my best friend.”

Oikawa stares at him, a salvo of emotions flying through his face- anger, disbelief, melancholy, frustration, anger. “Stop,” he says, crossly, but it has the cadence of a plea.

“Tell me what’s wrong. For real, this time.”

Oikawa is quiet for a long stretch, the tension fading from his shoulders. He seems to have given up. “I don’t think I can tell you this one,” he says, plaintive.

“It has to do with me, then.”

“Yes.”

“Then why can’t you tell me?”

“You’ll hate me.”

Iwaizumi frowns. “I’ll never seriously hate you.” He reaches out and squeezes Oikawa’s hand, drawing him close. “Like I said. You’re my best friend.”

Oikawa sniffles pathetically, and, to Iwaizumi’s horror, is now tearing up- genuinely tearing up- in front of him. “You’re my best friend too,” he returns tearily.

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi says, astonished. He stands to wipe the tears from his cheeks, and Oikawa laughs brokenly, still caught somewhere between furious and upset. He pulls him closer, and hugs him. It’s a nearly painful thing, with Oikawa’s hand clawing his shirt, and Iwaizumi feels the full force of that ache, sitting in his stomach, his ligaments, his joints, as if arthritic, even when they’re not joining mouths. He wishes it would stop.

Oikawa’s cold hand skims the surface of his stomach, his head shifting to gain access to Iwaizumi’s lips, and here he pulls away to gather his senses. “Oikawa,” he says, shaking his head, watching Oikawa withdraw his hand, his eyes still red-rimmed. He is one of the ugliest criers known to man. “We said this is a bad idea.”

“I know,” insists Oikawa, frustrated. “I know. It’s still a bad idea.”

“So why are you- Oikawa, you can have so many other-”

“It’s not about just sex,” Oikawa says. He rubs his own eyes, and tries for kingly. “I’m sorry. It was unfair of me to not tell you that before, but I thought I would take what I could get.” He smiles. “I guess I’m a hypocrite for what I said earlier, aren’t I?”

“What?” Iwaizumi says. “Huh?”

“I like you,” Oikawa blurts, breaking the regality. “I’ve liked you for the last two years. I wanted to tell you on the trip, and I thought- I thought you had felt the same, but then you wanted to stay friends. So I thought we could just be like that, for that trip, and that would be enough, but it made it worse. I’m pretty sure I like you more.” He sounds utterly miserable. “I’m sorry.”

Iwaizumi doesn’t know how to take this in, or really respond to it. “Don’t be sorry,” he says. “You can’t control how you feel.” Even to him, this is weak. But it isn’t in his capabilities to produce anything else; his head is swimming with the confession. Oikawa likes him. Oikawa wants to keep doing what they were doing for that week.

“I thought I could make it better if we spent time apart,” Oikawa explains. “Then I could focus on my university. But then I felt like you were trying to leave me, and I didn’t want… I got angry. And then you said all that terrible stuff. I hated you.”

“I still stand by what I said,” says Iwaizumi, although in a daze. Oikawa is still excruciatingly horrible. Though Iwaizumi is stuck on Oikawa liking him. It is an absurd thought. Like something he contrived from a dream.

He imagines dating Oikawa- taking him out (he’s already done this), kissing him (he’s already done this), handling him at his worst (he’s already done this), talking late at night to reassure him (he’s already done this).

He strains to find something unique to dating that he hasn’t already done with Oikawa. Not that it would be completely the same-perhaps Oikawa would be sweeter to him, and be more honest, and—maybe he would be willing to take care of Iwaizumi, for a change of pace- domestic things, like that, that convey that suppleness of his affection for Oikawa.

Being open about that affection. That would be slightly different- he had only briefly experienced it, at the lakehouse.

“We’re still friends, right?” Oikawa asks. “You said you wouldn’t hate me.”

“Of course I don’t hate you,” he snaps. “I like you.”

“You like me?” Oikawa says, disbelieving.  It is dim in the room, now, a pain to distinguish Oikawa’s features from the background.

Iwaizumi closes his eyes, tight. “I don’t know, if it’s the same for me as it is for you. I think I like you. It doesn’t feel like how I’ve felt before when I liked someone, but I think…”He swallows. “I’m not sure.” He sinks back down on the bed, feeling it give underneath him.

Oikawa laughs humorlessly. “So then how do you know?”

“I don’t,” he says. “How do you know?”

“How embarrassing,” Oikawa sputters, laughing for real this time. “Are you asking for an ego-stroking?”

“I’m serious,” Iwaizumi says. He blushes. “I think I do. But I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it long enough.”

“Well,” says Oikawa. He gazes down at Iwaizumi, looking at his nose, and mouth, and neck. “I don’t know the day I knew-knew. I just remembering wanting to be around you, more than I already was, which was a lot. I thought that had been weird. I could feel myself being clingy. I knew that meant something.”

“That was it?”

“Well, that among other things. I felt different around you. Sometimes-” he clears his throat. “I wanted to take care of you, which I don’t want to do to anyone, even Take-chan. And then later I wanted to touch you all the time. And then- whatever. Kissing. Iwa-chan, you’re trying to humiliate me.”

Iwaizumi stares at him. He has felt, and is feeling, all of those things. Instead of saying that, he says, “You can kiss me.”

Oikawa blinks, bends down, and brushes his mouth against Iwaizumi’s. He pulls back. “Like that?”

Iwaizumi breathes slowly, through his nose. “I feel weird,” he says. “Every time we do that, I like it, but I also feel like I can’t breathe.” He frowns to himself.

“Disgust?” suggests Oikawa calmly.

Iwaizumi shakes his head. “It’s not that. I don’t know what it’s like.”

“Is it good?” asks Oikawa instead.

“Sometimes. I don’t know.” It makes him want to throw up with the confusion of it all. It makes him feel alight.

 Oikawa regards him for some more moments, and then nudges him, getting into bed himself.

“I don’t want to…” Iwaizumi starts awkwardly.

“I didn’t mean it like that. I just think standing is uncomfortable. We should sleep.”

They both manage to squeeze into the bed. Oikawa runs his feet up and down his calves, like he did before. Iwaizumi cups his head, tries to look at him in the dimness, to discern his face, but he sees very little beside a glint of light in Oikawa’s eyes.

“I don’t want to come off as conceited,” Oikawa says. Iwaizumi suppresses a bark of a laugh, because Oikawa sounds serious. “But I think you do like me.”

Iwaizumi brushes Oikawa’s bangs out of his forehead. “Do I?”

“I think you haven’t realized it yet because you haven’t thought about it yet. But I think you do.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

Oikawa digs his chin into Iwaizumi’s chest. “Would to cuddle with other people like this?”

“Probably not,” admits Iwaizumi.

“If we were dating, would you want me to call you Hajime? Or Ha-chan? Would you want me to make you breakfast? And all that lovey-dovey stuff?” Oikawa begins laughing at his own suggestion.

“You can call me whatever,” says Iwaizumi. He wants to add, As long as it’s sincere. “Do you want me to call you Tooru?”

Oikawa pauses and pulls away. “That would be weird.”

“Bad weird?”

“I’m not sure.”

They are silent for some time. Then, in a more somber tenor:

“I think I know what you’re talking about,” Oikawa says. “With the whole nausea thing. That’s how you feel when you don’t think that you have enough time.” He wraps his arms around Iwaizumi’s neck, although gentle this time.

“Enough time for what?” Iwaizumi yawns.

“I don’t know. Whatever. Enough time to kiss, or fuck, or whatever. Stop asking me all the embarrassing questions.”

“You embarrass yourself with very little help.”

“Ugly monster,” murmurs Oikawa. His hand, now warm, touches the small of Iwaizumi’s back from under his shirt. “Cruel beast.”

“We’ll discuss this tomorrow,” he tells Oikawa. He cannot see him, but he still tries to imagine what his face looks like- covered in sunlight and green, like when they were picking blueberries; or subdued from the sunset, before they went skinny dipping; or wet and washed out and mysterious, before they kissed for the first time; or the violent, dim orange of the firelight flickering across the planes of his face, the night before they left.

Oikawa has many faces, the ones Iwaizumi likes being the most vulnerable. Iwaizumi does not object to seeing more of these sorts of faces.

“It’s not really fair,” Oikawa breathes. Iwaizumi places his hand on the angle of his jaw, and feels Oikawa smile against his thumb. Yes. He could get used to this. He is surer of himself by the second.

Oikawa shifts, leaning into Iwaizumi’s cupped hand. His hair sticks to Iwaizumi’s palm. There’s a feeling, so huge in his chest, he can’t stand it- an ache, an ecstasy, a grand propelling force that he’s felt and felt and felt. The sensation of convalescence. Yes. He knows.

Oikawa sighs. “It’s not fair, that you get to see me be all in love with you, and I don’t get to see you be- like that.”

Iwaizumi quirks a grin himself. “Don’t you?”