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I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.

—Tomaž Šalamun

 

 

The ocean is a thing of wonder, waves lapping on shores with a gentle rhythm that ebbs and flows, like slow music. Iwaizumi isn’t really a beach guy — Sendai is a shore city and Miyagi did have its beaches, but Iwaizumi had only gone on a few outings with his family on things like birthdays and lazy summer days ever so often. Summer in Sendai was scorching hot, unbearably humid, and Iwaizumi did always hate the feeling of having sand stuck in weird places.

But Sendai is Sendai, and when in California, do as the Californians do.

“Haji,” Serena, his bio lab partner, calls out. She’s standing in the waves, water reaching mid-calf as she waded in the water. “Stop sitting around and come to the water, you big baby.”

“Let the man rest,” his roommate, Kevin, shouts from next to him, lying down on the egregiously hot pink bath towel that Irina brought with them. “Relax. We’re at the beach. You can stop being a pushy bitch for one second.”

“Pussies,” Serena snaps loudly, irrespective of the toddlers no less than ten feet away from her.

Iwaizumi sighs exasperatedly, reaching for his half-empty drink. The can is cold, thanks to the cooler that Kevin brought, and it’s icy in his throat as he gulps it down in three large swigs.

“I don’t know why she’s like that,” Kevin grumbles. “Sometimes I regret asking her out.”

“Your grave to lie in,” Iwaizumi says. Serena’s a bit of a firecracker woman, all legs and curves and bite. “You’ve yet to break up with her and you’re a year out.”

Kevin smirks, tipping his own can of beer in a gesture of acknowledgement as he raises his eyebrows. “Well, she is hot.”

That she is. Iwaizumi could admire her beautifully tan, brown skin and the curly mane that reached her shoulders, the slim curve of her waist widening out to round hips. Serena’s sharp tongue and crass words belie her incredibly bright intelligence — she’s often been the one to write up the lab reports and actually make them sound coherent. Iwaizumi still struggles with academic English from time to time, so he just provides the research and data. Even then, Serena does it all faster and better than he does.

“How about you?” Kevin asks, breaking Iwaizumi’s train of thought. “You and Tooru are coming up on what… two years officially at this point, right?”

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says. He crushes the empty can in his fist and tosses it into the plastic bag they brought for trash, and reaches for another beer.

“How’s that going?”

“Fine,” Iwaizumi mumbles. He drinks. “You know, I’ve known him for so long.”

“Yeah,” Kevin replies, the edges of his lips quirking up into a smile. “I can’t imagine it, getting together with your childhood best friend. You’ve known him forever. ‘M sure you’re happy to see him when he visits in a few weeks. We’ll leave you two alone, yeah?”

Kevin winks. Iwaizumi finishes his beer.

“Yeah,” he says numbly, limply dropping the empty can into the trash bag. “I appreciate that.”

The ocean suddenly roars, like a war song, unapologetic in its mourning. Iwaizumi looks out to the water and sighs.

 

 

Iwaizumi tells Oikawa I love you on a sleepy Sunday morning in December, filtered with cold winter sunlight and the breaths of songbirds. They’re in their last year of high school, about a month after they lost to Karasuno in the semifinals. It’s snowing lightly, the kind that’s barely there, the snowflakes melting as soon as they hit the glass of the windowpane.

Oikawa’s eyelids fluttered, gently, eyelashes fanning out on the tops of his cheeks like ghost whispers. “I know, Iwa-chan.”

“Yeah?” Iwaizumi asks, breathless. Oikawa’s beautiful right now: hair mussed against his pillow, eyes like molten honey. Iwaizumi wants to reach out, to stroke his face with the barest of touches, to know what it feels like to hold the world in the palm of his hands. Maybe he finally can.

“Yeah. I love you also. Hajime. Of course I do.”

Hajime. His name is soft in Oikawa’s mouth. It’s not the first time Oikawa’s called him by his first name, but it’s the first time it’s sounded like this: brimming with the ichor of love, threatening to spill over. Iwaizumi wants to hear it again. And again. And again. Hajime.

“Say it again,” he murmurs. “Say it again.”

“I love you, Hajime. Hajime. I love you.”

Iwaizumi reaches out with one hand, gingerly, slowly, and cradles Oikawa’s cheek with his palm. There’s a beautiful boy in his bed and Iwaizumi has never felt so lucky, loving like this, like breathing.

 

 

Summer in Irvine is dry, the kind where you can’t breathe properly so you resort to things like taro bubble tea and shaved ice to quench your dry throat in the thrumming heat. Iwaizumi is spending his summer vacation here — UC Irvine is done for the academic year but he took up a research assistant position with his biochem professor for two months before fall quarter started up again. It’s the perfect time to get some work experience in and improve his English at the same time — God knows he needs both.

He feels a little guilty about it, really. His mother says nothing of wishing for him back in Sendai for the summer but she sends him pictures of the inane things: the koi fish, watercolor splotches of orange and white, in the pond ten minutes away from their house, or the mitarashi dango that’s best enjoyed warm during the nights when the unrelenting sun of summer has dipped below the horizon and the night air is cool and crisp.

Sendai misses you, the pictures say. We miss you too, back home.

Iwaizumi sends back pictures of palm trees and the forever blue of Newport Beach’s shores.

He breaks the news to Oikawa during their weekly Facetime calls. Iwaizumi has a habit of postponing and moving the calls around to try to work them around his schedule of classes and study groups and labs, so it’s three weeks after Iwaizumi receives the offer from his professor when he mentions it to Oikawa.

“I’m staying here, for the summer,” Iwaizumi says. “Working at Professor Chang’s lab.”

“The one who gives you the weekly presentations and pop quizzes and the two midterms per quarter? Iwa-chan, you don’t even like her class.”

“She’s a good professor,” Iwaizumi protests. “And it’ll be a good experience for me. I need to get as much out as I can studying here.”

Oikawa smiles gently, the kind that’s never without at least a bit of sadness. “I know. It’s just… I was excited to see you back home. In Sendai.”

Iwaizumi’s heart seized in his ribcage. He knows — Oikawa’s been talking about going back to Miyagi for the summer, dreaming about the summer festival in their hometown and the fireworks and soft yellow glow lantern lights that he misses so much. Argentina’s been great for Oikawa; he’s been receiving the best training of his life, pushing his limits and learning from his childhood idol, Jose Blanco. Still, Oikawa’s homesickness is obvious how often he bemoans the lack of konbini buns with a three-in-the-morning text, or in the way he seeks out the atrociously mediocre tempura udon from the dingy half-Chinese, half-Japanese, fully unauthentic restaurant near his gym. Oikawa doesn’t even like tempura udon.

“Hey,” Oikawa continues softly. “Hajime. It’s okay. I’ll visit you, alright? In Irvine. You’ve gotta show me the Californian beaches. Need to see if they compare up to the Argentinian ones.”

“Sure,” Iwaizumi says, unable to say anything otherwise. He stares at his phone screen, the glitchy pixels of the video chat marring Oikawa’s face. “Sure, Tooru. I’ll show you.”

 

 

When does Iwaizumi fall in love? It’s hard to say, really. Maybe it snuck up on him — or maybe it happened all at once when he wasn’t looking, subtly rushing in like the slow waves of the sea inside of his chest. When Iwaizumi thinks of love, he thinks of being nine years old, wading through the snow, Oikawa’s cheeks flushed and an olive green scarf wrapped around his neck. He thinks of feeling so lucky. He thinks of the volleyball practices, he thinks of wrapping Oikawa’s knee with his brace and placing a kiss right on Oikawa’s thigh. Most of all, he thinks of the years spent together, quietly existing next to each other, always a breath away and never more. How easy it was, the unthinking simplicity of it all. How fresh the snow was, falling onto Oikawa’s hair like laurels sent from the sky and cradling his head gently, as if to say here he is, the beautiful boy.

In Iwaizumi’s heart of hearts, untouched by time, they are young and alive, burning with the hearth of home and bright as winter light. Unbreakable. Invincible.

 

 

Iwaizumi picks up Oikawa at LAX in a silver Subaru he rented from the local Enterprise. Oikawa’s tanned from the Argentinian sun, wearing a sleeveless shirt that left his triceps bare for the world to see. His hair is mussed, his eyes are bright, and he’s wheeling the same suitcase that he’s had for the past decade, scratched with overuse and plastered with gaudy alien stickers that have faded with time.

“Nice car,” Oikawa says, his grin wrinkling his eyes as he dragged his suitcase to the car.

Iwaizumi lets himself smile in return. “Hey, asshole.”

Oikawa holds his arms out, and Iwaizumi steps forward and nestles his face in the crook of Oikawa’s neck, wrapping his own arms around Oikawa’s torso and closing his eyes. He breathes in, and— Oikawa doesn’t really smell the same anymore, not like the fresh cotton and salt in his memories. It’s strange, and it throws Iwaizumi off for a second as he searches for some sort of familiarity in Oikawa’s touch.

“Hajime,” Oikawa breathes. He presses his nose into Iwaizumi’s hair, and hugs tighter, the muscles of his arms tensing around Iwaizumi’s torso. “I’ve missed you.”

Oikawa smells like eucalyptus and dried sunlight, now. Iwaizumi lets go. “I know,” he says simply, smiling as gently as he could as he broke away. He turns his attention to Oikawa’s suitcase, and reaches for it to haul it into the trunk of his car. “Let’s go, yeah?”

The grin stays on Oikawa’s face. “Take me home.”

 

 

Iwaizumi receives his acceptance into UC Irvine in April. By then, Oikawa’s already half-way done packing his bags to lug his life from Sendai to San Juan, Argentina, where the sun beats down on the land year round. So in a sense, they both already knew what’s coming — countries of distance and vast oceans separating them. Only now, Iwaizumi’s leaving Sendai, too.

“We’ll be closer to each other, at least,” Oikawa says, bittersweet. “Now we’ll be four hours apart instead of twelve.”

Iwaizumi has nothing to say. He’s gripping his acceptance letter, emboldened with gold and navy. It’s everything he’s worked so hard for the past year to achieve, and yet he thinks about all the things he’s leaving behind here, in Sendai, in Japan. Volleyball, for one; there’s no way Iwaizumi could play in the American collegiate leagues, with how they draft talented players around the country. His family. His friends. No more trips to the koi pond, no more light snows where the frost feels like an embrace, gentle and reassuring — Argentina and California both were unforgiving in its blistering summers. The memories would be all he had.

He wonders if it would be enough.

A hand on his shoulder shakes him out of his thoughts. “You’re going, right?”

Iwaizumi can’t answer that. Not now. It’s all happening so fast. Soon, Oikawa would no longer be able to touch him like this, and he’ll have no way to revisit the places they’ve been, and the moments they shared would be replaced by new ones, made without each other. “I… “

“Iwa-chan. Listen to me.”

Iwaizumi looks up and tries not to let his heart break as Oikawa’s hand travels from his shoulder to his face, cupping his cheek with the gentleness of a feather. Iwaizumi swallows, blinking hard.

“Iwa-chan… Hajime, you’ve always been so supportive of me pursuing my own dreams. Even when I was at my lowest, you were always there to pick me back up.”

Iwaizumi wishes it was December again, where the beautiful boy in front of him is in his bed and they’re thinking about the love here and now and nothing of the love that may not be there. Iwaizumi is lost at sea, in unchartered waters, desperately trying to anchor himself to not drift so far away from the shores where Oikawa is standing, waiting for him to come home. Only there isn’t a home anymore — there’s only forward. There’s no looking back for a sailor on his journey to the west.

“Hajime,” Oikawa whispers, like a dream far away. Iwaizumi wants so badly to reach him, but Oikawa’s already in Argentina, chasing passion, and Iwaizumi’s trying his hardest not to let go. “I’m so, so proud of you. I know you’re proud of me too, so don’t you have any doubts. Go chase your dreams, okay? You told me to, so I’m doing the same for you.”

Oikawa’s hand slips from his face. Iwaizumi grabs his wrist before it can fall back to Oikawa’s side, and holds on to dear life.

“I love you,” Iwaizumi cracks out. “I love you.”

Oikawa smiles, and any last bit of strength in Iwaizumi’s heart crumbles away altogether. “I know.”

 

 

Iwaizumi takes Oikawa to the apartment first to drop off his luggage. Oikawa doesn’t want to waste any time idling around — take me to the beach like you promised, Iwa-chan — so the two of them hop back in his car as they drive the short trip from Irvine to Newport Beach. It’s a July afternoon in the summer, so the sands are packed with families with waddling toddlers and couples splashing each other with ocean water, laughing and squealing.

“There’s a lot of people,” Oikawa observes.

“That’s LA for you,” Iwaizumi says, a little exasperated. That’s one thing he hates about LA — the ungodly crowds.

“Spoken like a true local,” Oikawa says, with eyesmiles like little moons. “Come on, let’s go.”

Iwaizumi lets Oikawa grasp his wrip firmly and tug him forward down to the shore, a laugh on Oikawa’s lips that bubbled warmth in Iwaizumi’s chest. He thinks he can enjoy this much — a carefree beach day with his best friend-lover in a place Iwaizumi’s learned to call home in the past year, saltbreeze in their hair and the ocean lapping around their ankles as they waded in the water.

“Ah,” Oikawa yelps, hopping around. “The water’s cold!”

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi replies, barking out a laugh. Then he reaches down, scooping up some seawater in the cup of his hands, and flings it straight in Oikawa’s face.

Oikawa, predictably, screeches, and then the evil competitive look that he gets before a game flitters over his face. He grins, all teeth and fang. “Oh, you bitch. You’re on.”

Oikawa rears his leg back and kicks and a splash of water slaps Iwaizumi’s T-shirt, soaking it completely. Suddenly the two of them are boys again, yelling and dancing around each other, and Iwaizumi remembers the hot summers in Miyagi that are thick and humid, cicadas chirping and koi fish swimming. For a moment Iwaizumi pretends they’re back home in Sendai. California fades away, and all Iwaizumi sees is Oikawa, laughing, and it’s almost the same. No five thousand miles of separation. Just here, just now, just the two of them, and everything is okay, if only for a moment.

 

 

It works, for a while. Long distance, that is. Iwaizumi hangs on to the little moments that they have that are still clear in his memory: walking home from the gym, ravens crooning at the fall of dawn, the sun kissing the sky goodbye with orange-purple hue. Or the weekend late nights they would spend in Oikawa’s room, huddled under the blanket as close as possible as they searched for each other’s bodies with the pretense of warmth and the intention of touch.

The two of them had hectic schedules both, with Oikawa’s rigorous training schedule and laser-focus on sharpening his claws, eyes set on the Argentinian national team. Iwaizumi’s days were full of labs and classes and trying to find his place in a sea full of incredibly intelligent people and trying to learn English at the same time, scrambling to prove himself in a different way. His family paid a fortune to send Iwaizumi overseas to pursue his own dreams — there’s no way Iwaizumi could let them down.

They keep busy, and it helps with the hurt of separation, distracting from the hole in his chest that widens and throbs whenever he looks to his side and doesn’t see Oikawa there. Soon enough, the hole is filled with things like problem sets and midterms and Kevin and Serena and all the other people Iwaizumi meets, and the pain subsides.

Their twice-daily Facetime calls become daily, then twice a week. Then it becomes once a week. Then it becomes sometimes, and Iwaizumi’s grip, rubbed raw, on the rope of memory loosens.

 

 

“California, huh,” Oikawa muses, lying back in the passenger seat of Iwaizumi’s rented Subaru. “Maybe it’s worth all the songs.”

“It’s a good place to be,” Iwaizumi says. He doesn’t look over at Oikawa; he just keeps his eyes on the road as they cruise back to Iwaizumi’s apartment back in Irvine’s University Park. The sky’s a stretch of vermillion bleeding into the darkening blue as the sun sets. “I’m glad I came here.”

“Yeah? I’m glad, then.” Oikawa’s voice turns wistful, as if thinking of things from another life. “You were too big for Sendai. I’m glad you went, too.”

Iwaizumi grips the steering wheel tighter, and swallows down the knife in his throat. “You know, you are too.” Then, blinking hard, he asks, “How does it compare to Argentina, then?”

“Ah… well, San Juan doesn’t have beaches — I’ve been to Buenos Aires a few times, and they do. Kind of a pity. I love the beach. There’s beach volleyball, too, which I’ve been meaning to try.”

That’s right — Iwaizumi remembers now. Oikawa did love the beach; back in Miyagi, his sister would take him out to hour-long drives to Ishinomaki, where the waves are quiet and the sands are white like fresh sleet on early morning grass. Iwaizumi can’t remember a time they ever went together. Maybe they did, and Iwaizumi has just forgotten, at this point.

“I see,” Iwaizumi says eventually, stepping on the gas and turning right off the highway into University Park. “Wonder what that’s like.”

“Beach? Oh, so much harder. You can’t jump as well on sand, and you only have one other person to play with. Everyone bumps, sets, and hits — though I guess that’s true of indoor, but I mean, you have to be good at everything, right. It’s quite unforgiving in that sense.”

“Sounds like a good fit for you, then,” Iwaizumi murmurs. He stops his car, and turns to Oikawa finally. “We’re here.”

“Alright,” Oikawa says, and his smile— well, it’s the one that’s never without at least a bit of sadness. “Let’s go, then. I think we should talk.”

 

 

When does Iwaizumi fall out of love? It’s hard to say. For Iwaizumi, see, it’s not really about being loved. It’s about loving itself. It’s about being a breath away from the boy he loves, being able to wrap his brace around his knee and place a kiss on his thigh. It’s about feeling so lucky. It’s about huddling under blankets in the winter and finding warmth not in the beautiful boy’s touch but in the way he looks back at him, eyes like molten honey, the sweetest of smiles on his face, and knowing that Iwaizumi’s the one who put that smile there. There’s no beautiful boy in California — he’s in Argentina, and all California has to offer is the beach, stretching on for eternity, a constant reminder of how the space has widened from a breath to continents, oceans, worlds away. Lifetimes away.

When does Iwaizumi fall out of love? Maybe he never truly does. All he knows is that the two of them don’t exist in the same life anymore, and that no matter how desperately he tries to hold on to what’s left, he can’t help but feel like he’s drowning, at mercy of the ruthless tides of the sea, no anchor to keep him from drifting away. Disappearing into the horizon, never to be seen again.

 

 

“Nice place you got here,” Oikawa remarks after shucking off his shoes. Iwaizumi watches as he makes his way into the apartment, noticing the atrociously vomit green plush sofa that Kevin got for free off Craigslist. Oikawa sits down, patting the space next to him as an invitation. “Didn’t know you liked green, Iwa-chan.”

“I don’t,” Iwaizumi says, heart racing, feet taking him to the couch as well. He doesn’t want to do this. He already knows what’s coming. “My roommate got it.”

“Oh, Kevin? I see. I wanted to meet him. He seems like a good friend of yours.”

Not as good as you are. Were. Fuck. “You still can meet him.”

Oikawa smiles ruefully. “You know I booked a flight back for tonight.”

Fuck, yes, Iwaizumi knows, he’s known this was coming when Oikawa said he would only visit for a day. Maybe he didn’t want to admit it, didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to acknowledge the possibility of it. “Tooru—”

“Hajime,” Oikawa interrupts. Iwaizumi shuts his mouth, staring. “Please don’t think I came here only to break up with you. I really did want to see your new home. Wanted to see it before I didn’t have the chance to, I guess.”

Iwaizumi doesn’t say anything. He can’t — the words, whatever they are, are caught in his throat, and he feels like he’s choking, drowning, suffocating, and Oikawa’s eyes are bright and all he wants to do is reach out to touch Oikawa’s face and feel like he’s holding the world in the palm of his hands again, but he can’t. He can’t.

So he doesn’t, and Oikawa continues.

“And I really did have fun at the beach today, so please don’t be sad. It was nice.”

“Tooru, please—” The words crumble in Iwaizumi’s throat, and Iwaizumi’s heart lurches, as if wanting to break out of his chest and go back to the beautiful boy, the boy he loves, loved.

“I love you, Hajime. I always have, and I always will. Don’t forget it, okay?”

Tooru.” Iwaizumi’s begging now, for what, he doesn’t know, but his chest hurts and the reality of it all is crashing down on him, and he’s in the clutches of the sea and they’re dragging him down, down. It’s all he can say, his name. It’s keeping him here, and keeping him from letting everything go.

“But you don’t, anymore. I know you. I can tell,” Oikawa says, and his honey eyes are welling up, but he blinks the tears away, and smiles. “So I’m letting you go.”

“I didn’t want this,” Iwaizumi whispers. “I don’t want this.”

“I know. I know. It’s why you held on for so long. Even when you didn’t feel the same anymore.”

“I love you,” Iwaizumi pleads. “I love you.”

“I know. But it’s not the same, is it? Tell me it’s the same.”

Iwaizumi crumples, and rubs his eyes, and he can’t. He can’t lie, he knows Oikawa’s right, he always is. Even about this. Especially about this. Somewhere along the way, Iwaizumi’s blind love for Oikawa morphed into something like a past love for the memories, the things they used to share, ugly in its longing. Iwaizumi can’t look at this Oikawa, this boy in front of him, and say that he loves him like he loved the beautiful boy in Sendai. Iwaizumi doesn’t know this Oikawa. He’s half-way to being Argentinian, almost fluent in Spanish, and on his journey to the highest of stages, reaching the heavens.

Iwaizumi says nothing, and Oikawa knows.

“Hajime. I want you to be happy. And if that’s without me, well… that’s okay. It’s worth it.”

“I wanted to be happy with you,” Iwaizumi croaks.

“I know,” Oikawa says gently, and his voice trembles a little. “But you’re not. So I’m doing this. Nothing you can say will change my mind. I’m sorry.”

There are tears running down Oikawa’s face now, and he’s still smiling through it all. Iwaizumi wants to break down — it’s just like Oikawa to try to be strong through all of this, even this, even in letting Iwaizumi go.

“Why are you apologizing,” Iwaizumi says quietly. “I should be the one saying sorry. I… I didn’t love you enough.”

Please,” Oikawa chokes out. “Please don’t say that. You loved me so much. I’m grateful. So, so grateful. I’m sorry that our paths turned out this way. It’s neither of our faults.”

Iwaizumi closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and for one last time, he asks, “Kiss me. Just this once.”

“Hajime…”

“Please.”

“I can’t,” Oikawa whispers, “I can’t do that. I’m sorry.”

“Okay,” Iwaizumi says softly, because he understands. Still, he wants to feel the ghosts of that snowy December morning, where Oikawa’s lips are on his and they’re soft and everything he’s ever wanted.

But ghosts are ghosts, and it’s summer in Irvine. The winters in Sendai are long gone, now.

A few beats pass. Iwaizumi stands up, dusting his pants off, and takes a deep breath. “Come on. You have a flight to catch.”

He reaches a hand out to Oikawa, and Oikawa takes it, one last time.

 

 

The first snow in Sendai is beautiful, light, and effervescent — it only makes sense that it wouldn’t last forever.

 

 

Iwaizumi drops off Oikawa at LAX, numb. He drives back to his apartment, numb. There’s nothing left to feel, nothing left to say.

When he enters his apartment, cold and empty, his feet bring him back to the couch where Oikawa was last. He almost sits down before he notices a small note, folded up, under a mug that he had left half-empty on his coffee table.

Iwaizumi, shaking, takes the note in between his fingers, and unfolds it.

Hajime, the letter started. It’s in English — it’s been a while since Iwaizumi’s seen Oikawa’s handwriting in the language. Oikawa still dots his i’s with little circles like he did in middle school, scribbling in the answers to their homework together. Hajme feels eleven again, irrevocably lost, and his feet are deep in the sand and he can’t move.

He takes a deep breath.

 

Hajime,

I don’t know when you’re going to read this. You’re in the bathroom right now, so I don’t have a lot of time. I’ll make this quick, I promise.

I love you. I always will. It’s okay you don’t feel the same anymore. I’ll be forever grateful for the years you did. If you feel it’s right, you’ll always be welcome back. But we both know it’s not right for us to force this when you don’t love me in the same way anymore. That’s okay. You gave so much to me. I couldn’t have survived high school without you, and I couldn’t have chased my dreams with you and your love. You were always there to support me. I’ll always remember that.

I hope you remember me too, for the good things. Do you remember the bugs we catched that one hot summer? You were so proud of the dung beetle you managed to snatch. I still have the net you used, the one you borrowed. It’s at home, back in Sendai. I’ve always told my mom not to throw it away, even when she protested that it’s just some old raggedy thing. I wanted to keep it, to remember.

I know the distance hurt you, hurt us. It was inevitable, wasn’t it? We don’t even live on the same continent anymore. I hoped… we would make it, despite everything. We did have eighteen years together. But… I guess it wasn’t enough. I guess I wasn’t- That’s okay. Please remember that.

I know you, Hajime, I know you’ll worry about me. I’ll be okay. I always end up being okay. It hurts, but I know the pain will go away one day. I have the memories… they’ll soothe me. They already do, when you’re not around.

You can always come back, okay? I love you. I love you. Never forget it.

 

It’s unsigned. Iwaizumi folds the letter back on its crease, and with trembling fingers, places it back on his coffee table. He sits down on his couch. Lets himself crumple, shoulders sagging, and mourns.

 

 

There’s no winter in California, nor Argentina. There’s no more first snows, the kind where Iwaizumi could look at Oikawa and find the world. There’s only the ocean, ever vast and hungry, empty in its depths. There’s only this: the memories of something softer, when Iwaizumi felt so lucky, and a love far away that Iwaizumi once knew. Somedays, if he closes his eyes and lets the past wash over him, he can still feel what it’s like to be young and alive, and the beautiful boy is there, in his bed, laughing. A breath away, and never more.

It’s all he can do. Iwaizumi looks up, and moves forward.

 

 

Someday, we’ll meet again. It’ll be the happiest day, and I will go to you like the first snow.

—Ailee