At first, it really wasn’t a big deal.
Iwaizumi thinks nothing of it when Oikawa brings home a pack of obnoxiously bright, alien-shaped sticky notes from the corner store. He’s a little proud, even, that Oikawa might finally remember to buy groceries besides milkbread and instant ramen.
He begins finding them scattered all over their tiny apartment. They have bits of Practice with Makki at 6 pm and Pretend to study for biochem with Iwa-chan at 2 pm scribbled on them.
Oikawa, the asshole, pays no mind to the increasingly colorful mess he leaves behind and prances around fluttering his pretty eyelashes whenever Iwaizumi’s grumbling gets too loud.
And despite the fact they have been attached at the hip since they were five, for fifteen entire years now, Iwaizumi is still a sucker for boys with blushing cheeks and beaming smiles.
(Maybe it’s just Oikawa. Maybe it’s always just been Oikawa)
So he swallows his pride and picks the sticky notes up. At least Oikawa isn’t running twenty minutes late everywhere he goes anymore.
And yeah, maybe finding them while cleaning the toilet was a little weird, but Oikawa was nothing if not unconventional.
(“Crappy-kawa, do you need to remind yourself to shit or something?
“Those are not meant for you, Iwa-chan! You shouldn’t go looking through a lady’s belongings like that!”
“I don’t know any ladies who take my pens with them to the bathroom.” )
A lot of them are extremely mundane reminders about his classes or new strategies he wants to try in practice. But some of them make Iwaizumi’s eyes crinkle up in a way that is too embarrassing to think about.
On a neon green alien, he finds Make Kenma-chan give up his agedashi tofu recipe. A week later, he comes home to Oikawa sitting shyly in the kitchen with two bowls of agedashi tofu on the table.
(Because Oikawa is infuriating, but he cares and tries to show Iwaizumi the only ways he knows how. It makes it hard for Iwaizumi to see straight.)
There is a very aggressive drawing of Ushijima and what appears to be Godzilla shooting lasers at him through a forest pasted on the refrigerator.
(“Shitty-kawa, does Ushijima really deserve that? You play on the same team as him now”
“If you’ve decided to abandon me and join the enemy, Iwa-chan, just say that. You will live on in my memory.” )
Sometimes the sticky notes are sweet. Iwaizumi thoughtfully traces over a pale yellow alien that reads Call Mom more often. You miss her and Takeru-kun too much these days.
The most threatening note is glittery and blue. It has Tobio-kun written on it with a single line through his name. Distantly, Iwaizumi thinks he can feel Kageyama shudder, even though they’re miles away from Miyagi.
Iwaizumi would never admit this, but he likes reading them. It’s some kind of comfort that Oikawa’s nervous, untameable energy is going towards something. And as much as Iwaizumi likes to pretend he doesn’t care, he worries when Oikawa comes home late and his smile stops lighting up his stupidly brown eyes.
On those nights, Iwaizumi waits on the couch with his laptop open and his schoolwork unattended to.
He hears the lock clicking and pretends he doesn’t feel twisting in his chest.
Casually, not making eye contact, Iwaizumi calls out, “food’s on the stove if you’re hungry.”
On those nights, Oikawa drags himself to the couch with a steaming bowl and sits entirely too close to Iwaizumi. Neither of them say anything, but they revel in the way that they sit with their thighs and arms touching. A warm, comfortable silence between them.
Some things have always been unspoken for them. Iwaizumi drapes his arm around Oikawa and it says I hope you’re okay. Oikawa puts down his food and buries himself into Iwaizumi’s broad chest and it means I’m better now.
He doesn’t remember when, but he starts to keep his favorites of the sticky notes. It’s not really on purpose, but it would be a shame to throw out all of the sketches and ramblings. And it’s not like Iwaizumi has a shrine or anything, okay?
Iwaizumi pauses before he adds a dark blue note that says Practice English so I can impress everybody at the Olympics one day with a doodle of a gold medal to the growing pile. It’s not a shrine. Those would require candles or something, he thinks.
Oikawa crawls into his bed one night, ignoring Iwaizumi’s half-hearted protests. Iwaizumi throws a leg over his hip and buries his nose in fluffy hair, ignoring how fast his stubborn heart is beating. And just as sleep is about to overtake him, a bony finger is pinching under his chin and there’s annoying giggling in his ear.
Oikawa flips over and sticks his stupid head too close to him. His eyes sparkle with mirth and a shit-eating grin spreads across his face. “Iwa-chan, what are my reminders doing on your nightstand?”
Panic rises in Iwaizumi’s throat. Of course Oikawa was going to notice. (He knows, he knows, how can he not)
“I just haven’t thrown those away yet. Go to sleep before I knock you unconscious, Shitty-Kawa.” Iwaizumi means to glare at him, but the effect is lost when his voice cracks like he’s sixteen again and there's a blush high on his cheeks.
Oikawa’s smile just widens and he presses closer. “This one says ‘tell Iwa-chan to get more sleep because he’s getting grumpy’ and it’s from a whole month ago.”
Oikawa coos and he squeezes Iwaizumi’s cheeks. “Does Iwa-chan like when I take care of him? Iwa-chan only deserves the best!”
“I just think they’re nice, okay? Shut the fuck up and go to sleep, idiot.” Iwaizumi rolls over and squeezes his eyes tight, hoping that Oikawa would just drop it. What was he thinking anyways, keeping those sticky notes? What kind of lovestruck loser is he?
But Oikawa just laughs softly and pulls Iwaizumi close to him. “If Iwa-chan wants me to write him love letters, I can do a much better job.”
Iwaizumi pushes him off the bed.
They don’t talk about it, but the notes multiply. And now, instead of just being reminders, Oikawa has actually started leaving him personalized notes.
When he’s pulling himself out of bed to go take an exam that is absolutely about to destroy his GPA, he finds a polka dotted alien with Remember to smile today, Iwa-chan! Girls don’t like scary porcupines. (Girls, Iwaizumi, scoffs. As if there wasn’t just one person he wanted to like him.)
Suddenly, there’s a bento box waiting for him in the kitchen most days with a kissy face and a note that says something like Make sure you eat, so you can become big and strong like Oikawa-san! or How are your biceps going to stay big without a good lunch?
Iwaizumi drags himself home after a late night of studying at the library and finds a purple alien sticky note on his pillow with a boy holding a porcupine and kissing the top of its head. I’m sure your brain hurts today, Iwa-chan! I’m here to make it better. The porcupine does not make him tear up. It doesn’t.
When Oikawa draws his favorite stars and constellations that he sticks everywhere on his special glittery gold sticky notes, Iwaizumi picks one up with shaking hands. It says I shine brighter with you.
And really, Iwaizumi is only human.
Somehow, he becomes softer around Oikawa. Not enough to stop smacking him up the head when he’s flirting with an unsuspecting waitress or being too whiny about washing the dishes. But there’s a tenderness that surprises both of them.
Now, Iwaizumi thumbs a finger over Oikawa’s cheekbone when he says goodbye and asks Oikawa to call him if needs anything. (tell him, tell him)
Now, Iwaizumi doesn’t push Oikawa away when he climbs on top of him while they watch whatever dumb alien movie Oikawa has chosen.
Now, Iwaizumi pulls Oikawa closer to his chest and holds, just holds him when everything is too overwhelming, when Oikawa’s body hurts and he’s so exhausted he can’t carry himself. (does he know, he has to know, say something )
It’s not so different from how they were before. And maybe it’s not enough yet. But Oikawa’s eyes widen with surprise and settle into something like understanding.
Oikawa leans his head into Iwaizumi’s hand in the morning. One day, he turns a fierce red color that goes past his collar and kisses Iwaizumi’s cheek quickly before running out the door.
He keeps doing it.
Oikawa climbs into his bed every night with a teasing grin and “I wouldn’t want to keep Iwa-chan waiting”. Iwaizumi ignores how it makes it easier to breathe.
Oikawa tells him he misses him, that he’s thinking of him, that he hopes he’s having a good day.
(Iwaizumi blushes. Over and over. “I miss you too,” he says. “I think about you all the time you idiot.” ).
And they’re stumbling and racing to find themselves in whatever this is. This is new, this could be wonderful. If only Iwaizumi could just ask him.
If he could just open his mouth and say, “Hey Shittykawa, I’ve been in love with you since we were fifteen and you asked if you could be my setter no matter where we ended up.”
“Hey Oikawa, you were my childhood and my teenage years. I thought I could let go one day. I didn’t.”
“Hey Tooru, all of my favorite memories are with you. Are yours with me?”
The sticky notes don’t stop, but they lessen.
They’re studying together in the library today but Iwaizumi can’t tear his eyes off the fidgeting boy in front of him. Things haven’t changed between them, but Iwaizumi can’t shake the feeling that something has gone disastrously wrong. Iwaizumi furrows his brows, “Is everything alright, Oikawa?”
Oikawa, who has been sitting deep in thought, lightly says, “More than you know, Iwa-chan.”
And Iwaizumi knows it must mean something. But as his pile of notes stays stagnant, panic starts to set in.
He’s cleaning the living room when he finds a single indigo alien that just says 5. 5 what?
The next day, there’s a pastel blue alien with four milkbreads drawn.
The day after, a lime green alien with three volleyballs. A countdown, Iwaizumi thinks. A countdown, but for what?
And the day after that, two stars on a mustard yellow alien. Iwaizumi clutches it and begs himself not to get carried away.
Finally, there’s just an orange alien with the number one written.
Iwaizumi walks into their apartment and sees red. Red roses and red sticky notes all over their apartment. And Oikawa standing there, nervous but so, so hopeful.
Iwaizumi sees the scarlet alien sticky note sticking out of Oikawa’s right hand.
Oikawa takes the note and boldly puts it across Iwaizumi’s forehead. What. But before Iwaizumi can grab him, Oikawa is peeling the note and carefully placing it in Iwaizumi’s hands. He looks away while Iwaizumi reads it.
It reads in neat scrawl Ask Iwa-chan to be mine.
Iwaizumi looks up and feels his heart swell. This might be his favorite yet.