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summer came like cinnamon

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It feels like he’s two seconds away from his atoms dissociating, from his body fully melting until he loses his corporeal form completely. A blob of goop on the floor, doomed to a life of forever schmoop-ing along, getting stepped on and carried around on the undersides of people’s shoes. A truly sad existence.

“Iwa-chan,” he breathes. There’s an unintelligible grunt of misery, coming from somewhere to his left. The windchime on the back porch tinkles the littlest bit, and he inwardly curses the breeze for failing to reach his damp forehead. The laziness of nature is sometimes truly appalling. “As I am most certainly going to perish any moment now, at my funeral, d’you think that it would be in poor taste for me to ban specific people from attending?”

“Yeah.”

“I disagree. You can’t let Ushiwaka come. No matter what.”

Hajime sighs. “If the poor guy wants to ruin his image of you by paying homage to your sweaty corpse, then let him. You’re already dead. It won’t kill you.”

Tooru pretends like he doesn’t hear him, staring up at the plain white ceiling. “And you gotta promise not to let Tobio-chan come. Even if he really really wants to.”

Hajime lolls his head to the side, his eyes unfocused and half-dead. “You are a petty human being, Oikawa.”

There’s a harsh chirping of insects coming from outside, and the heat bearing down on them is thick and covers like a woolen blanket. It makes time peter down to a slow, sluggish trickle, not that Tooru wholly minds. Lying on the floor, stagnant air undisturbed save for the stirring of breath from lungs, it’s comfortable. They are perpendicular from each other; Tooru parallel to the couch, Hajime lying so that his legs are propped up on the cushions. They’ve been lying here for an indefinable amount of time—it’s too hot to even think of physical exertion, not that Hajime would even play volleyball with Tooru if he asked. We’re on break for a reason, Crappykawa, he would say, for once too lethargic to smack him over the head for the idiotic suggestion. 

"Why do people even like summer so much?" Tooru muses, “It’d be much less boring if I could play volleyball, but it’s so hot I’d definitely die if I tried. And what would this world do without me?"

"It'd be a better place, for one."

"What would you do without me?" 

Hajime takes too long to reply as he contemplates this. 

"The correct answer is: 'live the rest of my life wallowing in misery, yearning for my other half'." 

"I think the correct answer is that I'd finally have normal blood pressure."

"Not my fault you take life too seriously!" Tooru flings his arms out, his spread fingers just barely grazing Hajime's shoulder. "I want something sweet!" he whines. "Aren't sweet things supposed to help cool you down?"

"Where the fuck did you hear that."

"I don't know! Scientists!" 

"You seriously made that up. I've never heard that before. Idiot." 

Tooru makes a wordless cry of hurt. He wiggles, making noise and kicking his heels into the floor.

Hajime growls. "Don't you have a shitton of milk bread stashed somewhere? Go get one of those." 

He kicks harder. "No! Those need to be saved for a special occasion!"

"Oikawa. Either you shut up, or we find out today what the world is gonna be like without you in it. Pipe. Down." 

He stills. "Hmph." 

It's not that he's even really bored, per say—he's putting a lot of focus into not-dying, after all. But a part of Tooru is beginning to feel restless regardless of the heat, a little itch that rises up underneath his skin like a swarm of particularly brutish ants. He wants to move, to do something, something that doesn’t involve giving into the urge of rolling over and taking Hajime’s hand, doesn’t involve resting his head on Hajime’s belly and letting himself be gently moved with each inhale, each exhale.  

The kicker is that that he always wants these things, even when it’s not quite as comfortable as this.

(Tooru is so in love.)

He sits up suddenly, his hair feeling strangely heavy and stuck to his skull with sweat. Not nearly in the pristine condition it was this morning, when it was relatively cooler and his hair was still clean from his evening bath. “What we need is popsicles,” he declares. His shirt is sticking to his back, and he reaches behind himself to peel it away.

Hajime groans. “What we need is to not move.”

“Iwa-chan,” Tooru sighs, clucking his tongue. “You’re a healthy young man. If I wanted to hear that kind of thing I’d be hanging out with my grandpa. Now stop being a boring old fart and come with me the corner shop for popsicles.”

There’s a beat of silence, and Tooru watches with a smile as Hajime’s head slowly turns to stare at him, the promise of death in his eyes. “I really think you should reconsider that.”

Tooru hums, pulls his legs under himself into a low crouch. He puts his chin in his palm, still smiling. “Okay. You’re an ugly old fart. Now, normally I wouldn’t be so honest, but, well,” he shrugs. “You’re so lazy I don’t have to worry about you trying to hit me, now do I? Oh, my, what’s this? Is the old man gonna try and catch me? Oooh, too slow, too slow! You’ll have to try harder than that! Grandpa Oikawa needs a cane but even he—ow, Iwa-chan, throwing things is cheating! Gah! Get back, demon, get away!”

He runs, making sure he swipes his wallet off the kitchen counter on his way out the back door. He slams through the garden gate into the street, making sure he can hear the telltale signs of pursuit before he really starts booking it. He’s not as fast as he’d like, little bits of gravel getting into his sandals and messing up his stride, but his legs are strong and his feet fly across the concrete, the neighborhood houses passing by in a blur. It’s so ridiculously humid that it feels like he’s sucking up a mouthful of water into his lungs with each inhale, but the rush of adrenaline is so much better than the jittery stillness, so much better than fighting his body against the insatiable desire to just touch.

But as fast as he is, Hajime has thicker thighs to make up for his shorter legs, and he’s fueled by righteous fury—it seems like no time at all before Tooru imagines he can feel the puff of breath on the back of his neck, and he forces himself to go faster still. Yet for all his effort, he ends up getting caught one block from the corner shop, the veins in Hajime’s forehead bulging and his mouth twisted into a ferocious snarl. For how angry he looks, he lets Tooru off easy—a couple soft jabs to his kidneys, a few good noogies and quick pinches to his flushed cheeks; one extremely enthusiastic wet-willy that leaves Tooru shrieking. But for Hajime, it’s damn near gentle, and for the most part Tooru laughs throughout his punishment, even swats Hajime a few times in retaliation. Then the both of them straighten, and they walk the rest of the way to the shop exchanging easy banter, Tooru lifting the collar of his shirt to wipe away the sweat above his lip, his forehead.

He notices how Hajime’s skin has already gotten so dark in the few weeks that summer’s truly started; it’s brown, a lighter tan higher up on his arms where the transition into tank tops has yet to tend to his spring-pale skin. He’s just so beautiful. Tooru forces himself to look away, towards the trees and telephone poles bordering the lane. This isn’t volleyball practice—he has no reason to press a hand to broad expanse of Hajime’s back after a resounding spike, praise for a job well done. He has even less of a reason to brush away the droplet of sweat trickling behind Hajime’s ear. He wishes there didn’t have to be a reason.

(It’s hard, sometimes, being in love with your best friend.)

The neighborhood convenience store isn't all that nice a building—it had been built in the 60's, and there had been very little technological advancements made since then. But it's quaint, with flower pots lined up out front, and when the door is opened a tiny bell above the eaves jingle. But neither of them have gone inside, because after a few moments of mindlessly tugging at the handle, the door has been determined to be locked. There's a tauntingly bright sheet of yellow paper plastered to the glass, and with a growing sinking feeling Tooru peers forward to read it—

“What kind of sick joke is this,” he whispers.

 

 

Dear valued customers,

We will be away for summer vacation from July 24th-August 5th. We apologize for the late notice! Enjoy your summer!

 

Tooru recoils with a wounded sound, shaking his head in denial. “This is unacceptable. This is supposed to be a convenience store. And here I am, being inconvenienced.”

Hajime frowns, absently flapping his shirt to let air reach his belly. “Oikawa, chill. It’s not that big of a deal.”

It’s not that big of a deal, except it really kind of is, because now how is he supposed to distract himself? There’s no volleyball, and now he doesn’t even get to lose himself in the flavor of high-fructose corn syrup? Some deity is definitely getting their kicks out of pissing all over his life, and he is going to be sharing some strong words with them later. 

Tooru leans his forehead against the uncooperative door, dragging with it a long smear of sweat and oil. “But Iwa-chan, I wanted popsicles!” he whines, punctuating this with a hard thwack of his head against the glass, hard enough for him to whimper in pain, and Hajime yanks him away by the back of his collar.

“How is that my fault? You can just suck on some ice cubes or something.” 

“But…but…popsicles!”

“Get over it, you giant pissbaby. C’mon, my house is closer than yours. Let’s just go there and hose off in the backyard.”

Tooru refuses to admit that he’s sulking. He’s just being a little quiet, relative to how he usually is. Hajime keeps sending him dirty looks as they walk, as if he knows what he’s thinking, but Tooru steadfastly won’t meet his eyes. Until he gets something palpable and distracting in his hands, he can’t trust himself to not be rash and do something dangerous, like act on any his thoughts from the past few hours. It just keeps getting worse and worse.

They enter Hajime’s backyard by edging between the side of the house and a row of thorny bushes, Hajime kicking aluminum cans and the odd ancient toy out of their path as they go. They pass by a window and Tooru can hear the sound of a washing machine running, but both Hajime’s parents must be out by now—the driveway had been empty of cars, and his little sister’s bicycle wasn’t propped up by the front door as they passed. She loves Tooru like she would if he had been a second big brother, and he had been planning on inviting her to sit with them (to be nice, of course, not because he doesn’t want to be alone with Hajime—) but it looks like that idea’s out the window now as well. At this point it’s nearly laughable how little things are working out for him today, and maybe he would laugh if he weren’t in such a terribly grim mood. Worse and worse.

He stifles a sigh as he follows Hajime around the back, wrinkling his nose as the loose, powdery dirt of the worn path sticks between his toes, and he shucks off his sandals as soon as his feet hit grass. It’s dry and brittle and not at all pleasant on the feet, but when he was younger he had been able to run across a bed of gravel full-speed without flinching; a little bit of pokey grass is nothing. Hajime mimics him, setting his flip-flops on the porch and heading over to the hose attached to the back of the house. He turns the pressure knob and adjusts the setting of the nozzle, tests the temperature of the water on his palm—he has to wait for a moment, as the hose had been sitting in the sun all day, but eventually he seems pleased by the water’s coolness as he passes the hose off to Tooru. “Do me first, then I’ll do you.”

If only.

Wonderful, now there’s an embarrassed flush on his cheeks, burning up his ears. Tooru frowns at his own vulgarity, and he aims the hose at Hajime—he starts at his feet, to give him a second to get used to it, and then he works his way up. He soaks Hajime’s cargo shorts and tank top, the fabric immediately clinging to his chest and stomach, and—

“Dammit—Iwa-chan, please, hurry and do me, I’m burning up.”

“You gotta do my hair first. It's darker than yours; it's like having the fuckin’ sun on my head.”

Tooru quickly complies, letting the shower soak through Hajime’s hair until it’s plastered to his skull, the spikes losing all volume. Rivulets run down his face and he blinks water out of his eyes. Passing the hose back to Hajime, Tooru is careful not to let their fingers brush—he’s already at the precipice of something dangerous, and he really doesn’t need to deal with that too, on top of everything else.

“Hurry, hurry Iwa-chan, I’m shriveling up. I’m wilting.”

“Give me a second—“

“I’m dying, dying, dying—“

Hajime shoots him point-blank in the face, Tooru slamming his eyes shut and flinching back with a strangled gasp. The water feels so much colder than the outside air even though the temperature difference isn’t all that much, and he shrinks in on himself, especially once his head is soaked to Hajime’s standards and the stream is lowered to his torso. He hugs himself around the middle, scowling.

“Iwa-chan, that’s cold!”

“That’s the point, dumbass.”

“You should have given me a little warning first!” His shirt now properly dripping, his legs are next, and he can already feel himself come back a little bit from the land of the dead.

“Maybe I would have, if you had just shut up for two seconds.”

Once the both of them are adequately wet and more-or-less cool, they sprawl out on the long, open-air porch, drip-drying on the old wood that’s getting the late-afternoon sun full-force. Tooru thinks hazily that if he fell asleep here, he’d turn sunny side-up.

But there’s nothing about the arrangement that makes him happy. They’re basically back to the way they were earlier, lying on their backs, Hajime’s hand right there. A swap in scenery hasn’t changed how awful it is—if anything, it’s keeping with today's theme and it’s worse, because now Hajime is wet and the hairs of his eyebrows are doing something crazy and it’s cute. Tooru barely keeps in an agonized moan. Today is not a good day, he thinks. He crosses his arm over his eyes, the bloody orange glow burning into them reduced to a more bearable dimness. It’s one of the days where it just sucks, everything sucks, even being with Hajime sucks (except it doesn’t, because it never does, but that’s beside the point). He just wants for it to be nighttime, for the sun to stop leeching the life out of him, for the slightly dropped temperatures and the quiet reprieve he’ll get in the solitude of his bedroom. Maybe he'll go stargazing later tonight and his problems will seem just that much more insignificant under the infinite expanse of space.

“Hey, Oikawa. You okay? You feeling sun-sick?” Hajime’s hand rests gently on his shoulder, the other pressing against his forehead; first his palm, then the back of his hand. Fat lot of good that'll do, Tooru thinks. It would be impossible to tell if he’s running a fever in his current state.

“I don’t know.”

His arm gets lifted away from his face, and he blearily opens his eyes. At this point, he doesn't even have the strength to be startled to find Hajime's face suddenly so much closer, just lets the breath quietly catch in his throat. Hajime is filling up his entire world, crease between his eyebrows in concern, looking so stupidly endearing and it’s painful. Tooru lies still, chagrined, but allowing Hajime to bend over him—then he’s pressing their foreheads together, comparing their body heat, and Tooru closes his eyes again. Something burns behind them, the want so strong he can hardly stand it.

After a few heavy moments he can finally breathe again when Hajime leans back, and he returns his arm to cover his eyes, feeling like he might start crying if he doesn’t.

“You don’t have a temperature, but you still look kinda shitty.”

“I definitely…don’t feel so good.”

“Wanna go lie down inside?”

“Mm.”

“C’mon, then. Up you go.” Hajime fits his hands under Tooru’s damp armpits, dragging him into a sitting position. “Damn, you’re fucking heavy—did you gain weight?”

“What you’re feeling there is muscle mass. Maybe you’ve heard of it?” Tooru jabs weakly—obviously, Hajime knew a thing or two about muscle. More so than most people. Tooru looks skyward before his eyes can start misbehaving.

Hajime helps him to his feet and keeps a sturdy arm around his waist as they head inside, even though he definitely doesn’t need it—he should tell him it’s not necessary, but he’s a miserable creature who is apparently also a masochist, because he doesn’t want to.

The Iwaizumis don’t have air conditioning, because like the Oikawas they live in an old house. The only saving grace is that at least they’re in the shade now, and there are several oscillating fans providing some means of circulation. Hajime deposits Tooru in front of one such fans on the living room couch, and he heads first thing into the kitchen, presumably to transition into his mother-hen mode. Tooru leans his head against the armrest, listening to the cupboards opening and being slammed shut, the pouring of liquid into a cup. The washing machine’s still going, and the load must be unbalanced because every second is met with a muted thud thud thud from the other room.

The whole house smells like him. 

Feet making soft sticking noises as he walks back across the hardwood floor, Hajime firstly offers Tooru a glass of cold strawberry lemonade, his other hand holding up a group of thick ice cubes, already melting into a shallow puddle in the warmth of his palm. “Here. Suck on these.”

"Thanks, Iwa-chan. You know, you would make such a good wife." 

"Like I'd ever marry you." 

“A pity, really." Tooru accepts the glass, chugs half of it in several huge gulps, and he pops two of the ice cubes into his mouth right after. Maybe, if he’s lucky, he’ll get brain freeze and forget all about the burning ache in his chest.

“Sorry that we couldn’t get you popsicles.”

“It’s okay.” He shifts the ice around in his mouth with his tongue, listening to the soft click clicks as they bump into his teeth. Once they melt enough, he crunches them the rest of the way before dumping the leftovers into his half-full glass of lemonade. Hajime sits down on the couch beside him, so close their thighs squish together, side-against-side. Tooru stiffens, just a little, because it was like he was trying to be cruel.  

“Anything else you need?”

Tooru shakes his head, setting his glass down on the coffee table. The Iwaizumis had never invested in coasters, so the wood is washed out by an infinite number of water rings. “No.”

“You sure? I don’t want you whining later on that I didn’t take care of you. What do you want?”

“For you to kiss it better,” Tooru jokes, his eyes immediately widening at how...not joke-y he had sounded just now. Sad. Pitiful. Desperate. He smiles to make up for it, his eyes flickering to the analog clock on the wall—too early to go home. It would look extremely suspicious to make an escape, especially now. He's getting sloppy—his brain-to-mouth filter is suffering, but there's little he can do to fix that without actually leaving. 

When Hajime doesn’t reply, Tooru braves a quick side-glance—his look is unreadable. He’s staring at Tooru like he’s trying to figure him out, which is the exact opposite of what Tooru wants him to be doing. Tooru laughs, reaching out to take a sip from the lemonade, not tasting a thing. "Kidding, kidding." 

Hajime still doesn't say anything.

Tooru is sweating in places he didn’t even know he could sweat. “I was kidding?” he tries again.

“No, you weren’t.” It’s said as a fact, a statement, tinged with disbelief. 

Tooru smiles, a little bitterly. “You have no proof.” 

“I don’t need any.”

His stomach is twisting in on itself in panic, his eyelashes dampening, and he curls his hands into his lap with mounting frustration—at Hajime for refusing to just let it be, at himself, for letting his desperation build up into something so insufferable in the first place. “Well, now you’re just being arrogant—"

Hajime fists his hands in the neckline of Tooru’s t-shirt, dragging him forward, and their lips meet in a slightly painful smack. It softens nearly immediately, and the contrast is startling—the tingly cold of Tooru’s lips against Hajime’s heated skin, sweet mixed with the savory saltiness of sweat, a soft gasp of surprise and an exhale of satisfaction. Suddenly Tooru could have been on the surface of the sun and not have noticed—he doesn’t need to be, not with the way he has his own miniature stars glowing in either cheek, ruddy and burning, on fire.

They part again a moment later with a sticky little pop, Tooru noticing in a state of sluggishness the bright pink tips of Hajime’s ears, how utterly pleased he looks with himself. He’s staring at Tooru sleepily, eyes heavy lidded, and he licks his bottom lip in a slow roll. Tooru feels like he’s been electrocuted. Like maybe he’ll never be sad again. Like he'll never have a reason to be. 

“Do you feel better?” Hajime’s voice is hypnotic, low and raspy, and Tooru nods, dazed.

“Significantly.”

“Good.”

It's really as simple as that. Hajime leans forward to adjust the fan on the coffee table, pushing the button to keep it from moving back and forth. Then he sinks back into his seat, still close enough to share his unneeded body heat. Tooru can feel Hajime's sweat on his upper lip, cooling from the air of the fan. He licks it—salty. He looks at the hand resting in Hajime's lap—at the backs of his knuckles, at the thick callouses on the pads of his fingers. Hajime had never put as much effort into keeping himself smooth like Tooru does; his skin is rough and his eyebrows suggest that he's never even heard of a tweezer, and he's mean and he's rude and caring and perfect. He makes Tooru want to kiss him stupid. And if he’s reading this right, if the unadulterated joy swooping around in his chest is warranted, then maybe…

Maybe I don't need a reason. 

Hajime growls, and Tooru glances up quickly in time to see him roll his eyes. “God, you can be so dumb sometimes,” he grumbles—he reaches over and laces their fingers together. His hand is hot and dry.

Tooru grins, giving it a gentle squeeze. “And they say romance is dead.”

“Shut up. I’m already holding your hand. What else to do you need?”

Tooru leans his head against Hajime’s shoulder, feeling the still-damp fabric press against his cheek, and he breathes in—the smell of salt and earth and outside air, so very comforting, so very Hajime.

“Absolutely nothing.”