Work Header

no room for pretend

Work Text:

Iwaizumi is a generally humble guy. He doesn’t like going out of his way to flaunt what he has and he’s typically pretty modest about his accomplishments. He prides himself on being patient though and he thinks it’s with good reason because not everyone can survive childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood with people like Oikawa Tooru. Iwaizumi Hajime is one in a million—

Which is exactly why he thinks he’s being reasonable when he stares Oikawa down in the entryway of their apartment, wordless, motionless.

Oikawa’s been out the whole day, visiting his parents in Miyagi in honor of their anniversary. It’s been a grand total of three and a half minutes since he’s been back and already, Iwaizumi is getting ready to pray for sweet relief from a god he hardly knows the name of.

The expression on Oikawa’s face is deceivingly innocent as he asks, “So you’ll do it, right?”

What?” Iwaizumi manages to spit out.

With a sigh that is completely unwarranted given the situation, Oikawa shuffles into his house slippers and walks right past Iwaizumi with ease. “You aren’t even listening, Iwa-chan. I was saying very important things, you know!”

“No,” Iwaizumi says stiffly, turning around to grab at the back of Oikawa’s shirt before he has the chance to make his escape. “I heard you very clearly, Shittykawa. Say it again.”

“Iwa-chan, this is a nice shirt! Don’t ruin my nice shirt!”

Iwaizumi releases Oikawa from his grasp and crosses his arms, expectant. “Say it again,” he repeats.

When Oikawa meets his eyes, he looks a mix of petulant, indignant, and totally thoroughly guilty. “Well,” he begins with a huff, lower lip jutting out in a defensive manner, “the story begins when I arrive at my parents’ house. My parents lovingly greet me, because I am, well, very loved. We have dinner…talk about Iwa-chan…talk about Iwa-chan’s scary sleeping habits…talk about work…”


“Can we sit down? Can we talk like civilized adults?”

“Since when were you a civilized adult?”

Oikawa pointedly ignores Iwaizumi, choosing instead to toss his jacket on the floor while making his way to the couch. He flops onto it, repositions himself so he’s sitting upside down with his legs pressed against the part where his back is typically supposed to go. His face is already a faint red from the blood rush and his glasses are slipping off slowly but surely. This is Oikawa’s thinking pose and Iwaizumi thinks it’s kind of stupid considering how red Oikawa’s face gets after fifteen minutes, but he tactfully avoids commenting on that for now.

“Oi,” Iwaizumi says gruffly. Now that Oikawa’s seated like a civilized adult, he’s ready to get answers. “Finish your story.”

“Ugh, Iwa-chaaaaan…” Oikawa is staring at Iwaizumi intently, like he’s trying to gauge how this situation might play out. “You already heard me the first time.”

“I need you to repeat what you asked me to do so you know how ridiculous it is.”

Oikawa hoists himself up and twists back into an upright position. He fixes his glasses so they’re perched comfortably on his nose, shifting again so he’s sitting cross-legged on the couch. He looks at Iwaizumi, a pout on his lips.

“So we’re having dinner and we’re talking about things in my life…and theeeen my mom was like, ‘Oh! But Tooru! You are getting to that age where you must be settling down with someone…’” Oikawa clasps his hands together while imitating his mother. “And my dad was like, ‘Yes, Tooru. Now is a fine age to start preparing for a family. I want sixty grandchildren, you know.’

“You know I’m busy though. You know why I don’t have anyone yet! And I don’t have time! I don’t have any time to be dating or looking for my future family or preparing to provide for sixty children… Iwa-chaaaaaaaaaaaan—mmmff!”

Iwaizumi takes the time to shove a sofa cushion into Oikawa’s face. It’s a preemptive measure: maybe if he doesn’t have to look at Oikawa, he won’t feel compelled to headlock him.

See, Iwaizumi’s a pretty humble guy. He’s modest, simple, patient to a fault. He deals with a lot of things that he shouldn’t have to. He deals with Oikawa when he pulls public tantrums at the bakery when they’re out of milk bread. He deals with Hanamaki and Matsukawa when they’re both spamming their group chat with in bed jokes. He deals with all of this and that’s precisely why he shouldn’t have to deal with—

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says quietly, pulling the cushion from his face and hugging it to his chest. He looks up at Iwaizumi, looks positively pitiful as he purses his lips together like he’s trying to think this through. “Please?”

Iwaizumi grits his teeth and looks away. “Shut up, dumbass.”

“I know you hate me now but I also know you know that I really have been busy and I love my parents but I really can’t deal with them trying to set me up with people when I don’t even have time to—”

“Shut up.”

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says again, quieter. When Iwaizumi turns his head back around, Oikawa isn’t even looking at him anymore, fixated on the frayed threads of their cushion. He looks up after a moment and smiles faintly. “Please be my fake boyfriend.”


“That’s tragic,” Hanamaki says empathetically, though the smile on his face is contrary to his words. “So whose last name’s being taken?”

It’s Friday. Friday evenings are usually reserved for quiet get-togethers at their favorite bar. It’s at the bar that Hanamaki and Matsukawa talk about the interns they’ve been tormenting at their glitzy financial services firm. Iwaizumi bides his time by low-key ranting about the infuriatingly smart and infuriatingly friendly guy named Sugawara in the same training group as him at the hospital. Oikawa complains about virtually everything there is to complain about because he’s Oikawa.

Today, however, all of that is put on hold because Hanamaki and Matsukawa are much more interested in the most recent development in Iwaizumi’s life.

“We’re not getting married,” Iwaizumi says sternly, narrowing his eyes.

“Well,” Hanamaki begins, stroking a nonexistent beard thoughtfully, “it only makes sense that after fake dating comes fake marriage. Then the fake honeymoon. If this is a stunning caricature of the futility of romance depicted in those weird foreign soaps Oikawa’s into these days, it’d be followed by the fake divorce threats—”

“And the fake custody battle over the fake kid,” Matsukawa chimes in.

“Yeah, all before the fake reconciliation.” Hanamaki pauses, eyeing Iwaizumi. “Unless you’re fake not into commitment… Ah. Iwaizumi’s a fake heartbreaker.”

“Just stop talking,” Iwaizumi groans.

“Where is your fake boyfriend anyway?” Matsukawa asks, glancing up from his drink to peer at the unoccupied entryway. “He’s usually here by now, ready to complain about that guy he hates from work.”

“Wakawaka-chan,” Hanamaki posits.

Ushiwaka,” Iwaizumi corrects. “And it’s just in front of his parents—stop calling him my boyfriend.”

“You’re so cold,” Hanamaki says airily. “Are you playing fake hard to get?”

Right as Iwaizumi contemplates pulling Hanamaki into a headlock, the door to the bar opens and Oikawa enters, looking out-of-breath. He immediately brightens upon spotting them, unraveling his scarf to bounce over cheerfully.

“Speak of the devil,” comments Matsukawa.

“The only devil in me is my devilishly handsome—”

“Spare me, please,” Hanamaki interjects, tearing his gaze away from Oikawa to down the rest of the drink in front of him.

Iwaizumi stifles a small sigh, rolling his eyes at the antics of his friends. Despite how professional the three of them look—Matsukawa and Hanamaki in their perfectly fitted suits and Oikawa sporting his generic button-down with his sleeves rolled up—he has no qualms with noting that he’s still the most mature. He’s still a little behind, compared to the rest of them. He has five years of schooling under his belt. He has one more year of university hospital training, two more years of specialization, and then he can be a practicing doctor. He can’t help feeling a little jealous sometimes, watching as his friends go in and out of their nine-to-five work days while he works on clinical reports and things like that, but Friday nights are always humbling. They’re a great reminder of how little’s actually changed.

“Where were you?” Iwaizumi finally asks, sliding over an untouched glass of Oikawa’s favorite drink as the other man settles into his seat.

“Did you miss me, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa swoops in, leans in, face dangerously close to Iwaizumi’s as he grins.

Hanamaki, as mature as he is, opts to make a retching noise as Iwaizumi shoves Oikawa’s face away.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Iwaizumi retorts.

“It isn’t ridiculous to miss me,” Oikawa says sagely. “Lots of people miss me. I’m very miss-able.”

“Lots of people don’t know that you still believe in aliens and that you cry at the end of E.T.,” Hanamaki replies with a thoughtful hum. “If a miss-able Oikawa is abducted by his beloved aliens, is he truly able to be missed? A proverb by Aristotle, I think.”

“I don’t know how he got hired either,” Matsukawa says clearly before Iwaizumi has the chance to comment.

Oikawa looks offended, tutting in disapproval at Hanamaki, who looks thoroughly unaffected and entirely used to this situation. “You’re so mean when you’re jealous,” he says with a pout. “Plus, extraterrestrial life is a totally valid belief to have. Right, Iwa-chan?”

He stifles a sigh and glances up from his glass. “Sure, whatever,” Iwaizumi replies, if only to mandatorily defend Oikawa’s tarnished honor.

Hanamaki coughs out the word whipped and Iwaizumi calmly refrains from kicking him.

“Anyway,” Oikawa says loudly, with gusto, “I got caught up preparing something. I didn’t mean to keep you guys waiting.”

“We weren’t waiting.”

“Mattsun, don’t say things you don’t mean!”

“Good thing I meant it then, huh.” The grin on Matsukawa’s face is teasing but Oikawa pouts nonetheless.

“Tell us, Oikawa-sama, what is it you were preparing?” Hanamaki inquires dryly.

Oikawa beams, taking a huge gulp of his drink before laying out a black folder before them all. “As you know, I have appointed Iwa-chan to do a very serious task for me…”

“Well, it’d be hard for us not to know considering you group messaged us at three in the morning.”

“Mattsun, please raise your hand to speak.” Oikawa clicks his tongue in disapproval before continuing. “To make sure that this plan goes as smoothly as possible and my parents stop trying to set me up with strangers I have negative time to invest in, I made a list of things Iwa-chan has to do to be a convincing boyfriend!”

“Let’s see…” Hanamaki leans over, picking up the folder to flip through the contents.

Iwaizumi resignedly chooses not to look. He’s smart enough to know by now that it’ll probably piss him off more than anything because, well, it’s Oikawa.

“’Iwa-chan should stop calling me Crappykawa,’” Hanamaki reads from the list aloud.

“That’s not happening,” Matsukawa determines.

“’Iwa-chan should start giving me compliments.’”

“That’s not happening.”

“’Iwa-chan should—’”

“I quit,” Iwaizumi announces. “I quit this job. Get Hanamaki or Matsukawa to be your fake boyfriend.” He lets out a withering sigh, leaning forward and letting his shoulders slump as Oikawa huffs. Hanamaki and Matsukawa are both wearing the same evil grins on their faces and Iwaizumi is just about to call it quits for the night.

“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa whines.

“You’re an idiot,” Iwaizumi says in response.

“Why am I an idiot!”

“Why are you an idiot? Seriously? Really?”

“Don’t be mean! I put a lot of thought into this plan.”

“Maybe an important step in that plan should have been talking through it with me, you dumbass.”

“It’s not the easiest topic to bring up, you know…besides! This is all normal boyfriend stuff. Right, Makki?”

“Well, well, my watch says it’s time for me to not get involved in this lover’s spat…”

Shut up,” Iwaizumi grumbles. “You’re still an idiot, Shittykawa.”

“I’m sorry,” Oikawa says after a long pause. “I only picked you because if I name-drop some random girl, my parents would want to meet her and if I picked Mattsun or Makki—I mean, do I really want to fake date them? Honestly?”

“That’s fine, Oikawa,” Matsukawa says, wiping away a fake tear. “I’m okay. My feelings aren’t hurt.”

“We’ll recover someday,” Hanamaki agrees, jutting his lower lip out.

Iwaizumi groans. Every time he thinks about last night, he’s filled to the brim with regret. He knows why Oikawa asked him even though Iwaizumi’s positive he has a long list of admirers he could have asked instead. He knows Oikawa’s looking for someone his parents won’t question, someone who won’t have to go out of their way to act. And that’s fine—the reasoning is all fine, but that doesn’t mean Iwaizumi isn’t annoyed that it has to be him.

Oikawa is hardly the only busy one in their apartment and Iwaizumi had been keen to point that out last night. In the midst of it all, however, he’d ultimately succumbed. Oikawa isn’t as convincing as he makes himself out to be; Iwaizumi’s just a sucker.

“Whatever,” Iwaizumi says conclusively, sighing once more as he takes a defeated sip of his drink. “I’m already babysitting you anyway.”

“So it begins,” Hanamaki muses.

“Is that an official ‘yes,’ Iwa-chan?” Oikawa inquires, eyes wide as he practically burns holes into the side of Iwaizumi’s head. “I knew you were secretly thrilled, Iwa-cha—ow! Let go of me! Iwa-chan, you monster!”

There are a lot more things to think about, ask about, talk through. He isn’t sure just what being Oikawa’s fake boyfriend entails and Iwaizumi isn’t sure if he wants to know (though he figures he needs to know). His concerns, for now, are pushed away as he dutifully ruins Oikawa’s meticulously styled hair, pinning him in a headlock while Hanamaki and Matsukawa spectate innocently.

“Someone likes it rough,” Matsukawa notes with a wise bob of his head.

And really—it’s hard to think about how horribly this could possibly go when Iwaizumi’s already got his hands full giving all of his friends tender, loving, attention.


Matsukawa: see you guys next friday
Matsukawa: maybe you'll be married by then
Matsukawa: maybe if iwaizumi isn't difficult
Hanamaki: in bed
Matsukawa: well
Hanamaki: make good choices
Matsukawa: in bed
Hanamaki: ;)
Oikawa: you guys are childish!
Iwaizumi: See you next friday
Iwaizumi: Get ready to die
Hanamaki: in bed lol


Oikawa tells his parents on Sunday.

Iwaizumi's out of the apartment for the larger part of the day, busy running errands that he can't bring Oikawa along on because they're bound to last two times longer if he does. Usually, when he comes home, Oikawa's on the couch, ready to greet him—typically in pursuit of his favorite candy (which Iwaizumi should seriously stop buying because Oikawa hardly deserves it, even on his good days). Today, Oikawa is motionless, eyes glued to the unlit television screen as Iwaizumi enters, balancing multiple bags of groceries on both of his arms.

"Oi," Iwaizumi calls out gruffly. "Are you just going to sit there or what?

Oikawa is quiet before rising from his cross-legged position and sweeping a handful of bags from Iwaizumi's left arm. He does this quickly, all while avoiding direct eye contact with Iwaizumi.

Any other day and Iwaizumi wouldn't have pressed it. Oikawa's a private person in an abstract sense and Iwaizumi knows him too well to expect him to speak when prompted when he's in one of his moods. The past few days, today included, have been a little weirder than most though. Oikawa's been more careful, tentative, like he's still caught up thinking about the whole fake boyfriend thing that Iwaizumi's still low-key pissed about.

"What's wrong with you?" Iwaizumi finally asks as he's settling the bread on the counter.

Oikawa purses his lips and Iwaizumi's reminded of early childhood days when Oikawa spent more time pouting and crying than he did speaking. He rolls his eyes and continues to put away their groceries.

"Iwa-chan," Oikawa finally begins, hoisting himself up onto the counter next to the eggs and the milk.


"Are you busy this weekend?"

His plans for the weekend are usually scarce. He never knows when he's going to have a report or a lecture to deal with. His schedule is erratic; Year 6 is as annoying as his seniors said it would it be. But he's already knocked two big reports out of the way and there was a conference two weeks ago so there's no reason for another one to be happening so soon.

"Probably not," Iwaizumi replies after a short pause. "Why?"

Oikawa brightens visibly. "Let's go to the onsen."

"Why do you want to go to the hot springs all of a sudden?"


The way Oikawa trails off is telling. Even when iwaizumi's back is turned, he can practically feel Oikawa's eyes on him. This is hardly a good sign.

"... What do you want," Iwaizumi rephrases, suddenly cautious. The purposeful silence is foreboding and he has a feeling that Oikawa's about to make another ridiculous request at the expense of Iwaizumi's remaining sanity.

"Well," Oikawa repeats again, swinging his legs idly and staring at the linoleum tiles of their kitchen as soon as Iwaizumi turns around. "I was talking to my mom today and I told her that we were... dating."

The gravity of this decision to play along with Oikawa's desperate plan is finally starting to sink in. In the heat of the moment, Iwaizumi had forgotten that OIkawa's parents are practically his second family. He stifles a pained groan.


Oikawa grins. "She was happy! She was surprised... but she was happy! My own parents like you better than me. She was all, 'Oh! Hajime is a good boy with a steady head on his shoulders! It'd do you some good to let him influence you, Tooru...'"

"She's not wrong."

"Anyway, she was happy... In fact, she was so happy that—"


"She invited us to go to the hot springs with her and my dad?"


"And I might have said yes?"


"But Iwa-chan! I couldn't say no! She was so excited and she wants to see us so badly..."

"I'm not going to go out of my way to pretend to be in love with you in front of your own parents! Are you hearing yourself talk right now?"

There it is, the onset of a terrible headache that's bound to follow him for the rest of the day. It's one thing agreeing to be Oikawa's fake boyfriend, some distant, disconnected idea of a person in a faraway world. It's an entirely different story having to act the part in front of people he's grown up with. Just the mere thought of lying through his teeth to Oikawa's parents is making him nervous. He's a pretty decent guy and lying to his second parents has never been high on his to-do list.

He wants to back out (again). He wants to tell Oikawa to figure it out on his own because Iwaizumi shouldn't have to get involved for no damn reason. He wants to do a lot of things but he finds himself losing the energy to protest.

"Fine," Iwaizumi says resignedly. Because he told Oikawa he'd do this, told Oikawa he'd help him and it isn't (entirely) Oikawa's fault that the help he needs is outside of Iwaizumi's general comfort zone.

Oikawa is smiling but Iwaizumi can tell he's troubled too. For all of his false bravado, Oikawa's a sensitive baby and it's plain as day that he's worried he's asking for too much.

"For the record, I'm not holding your damn hand," Iwaizumi says quickly, shoving the toilet paper and shampoo into Oikawa's arms. "And I'm not going to stop calling you dumbass if you're being a dumbass."

The lingering tendrils of tension ebb away and Oikawa hops off of the counter.

"You're a terrible fake-boyfriend, Iwa-chan."

"Yeah, well, you're stuck with me."

Oikawa shrugs his shoulders as he makes his way out of the kitchen toward the hall closet. "Hm," he murmurs distantly. "I guess I am."


The week passes by relatively quickly. Oikawa's busy with a new project. He's a project leader at the marketing firm he works at and he never wastes time when it comes to complaining about the incompetent employees he has to work with ("Well, I can't abandon them, Iwa-chan! They need me!") but everyone knows it's his niche. He's always been a leader and he's always felt that compelling urge to bring out the best in people, to enforce chemistry.

Iwaizumi's busy too. His research is starting to branch out from Tokyo University's hospital to local hospitals in the city itself. It's a good thing. Soon, he'll have to take his graduation exams and he wants all of the experience he can get.

Oikawa's mom calls frequently throughout the work week and confirms their short trip for the weekend. Iwaizumi and Oikawa will meet them in at the springs in Onsen and they'll go from there. It isn't much to be worried about (or at least, that's what Iwaizumi's been telling himself) and Iwaizumi doesn't think he'll have to be too out of character to convince Oikawa's parents of their false truth. Still, the lingering concerns remain; he's only hoping that they leave with minimal battle scars. According to Oikawa, his parents are still doubtful. They're partially under the impression that Oikawa's just roping Iwaizumi along on one of his tricks to avoid meeting with the "lovely lady we had in mind." It isn't far from the truth but he tactfully refrains from pointing that much out.

By the time Saturday morning comes and they're making their slow trek to Naruko, where the springs are, Iwaizumi's more concerned with how sleepy he is than what he's going to say to Oikawa's parents when he sees them.

"Have you ever been to the onsen, Iwa-chan?" Oikawa asks while they're waiting outside of the inn for his parents. He looks serene, expression bright as he surveys their surroundings.

"Yeah, once. I came with my dad when I was in elementary school," Iwaizumi replies.

"How could we forget? Tooru wouldn't stop crying because he thought his Iwa-chan had gone missing!"

Iwaizumi flinches as soon as he processes Oikawa's mother's voice from behind. It's unmistakable; her voice has the same lilt that Oikawa's has. He's hit almost immediately with the lingering dread he'd been avoiding acknowledging. Quickly, all at once, he's at a loss for words.

Oikawa fills in the blatant gaps that Iwaizumi leaves behind, going forward to hug his parents as greeting and tugging Iwaizumi along by the wrist, silently urging him to follow suit. Iwaizumi has to remind himself that he’s supposed to act normal. Technically, nothing has to be weird. Oikawa’s parents are the same as always and they’ve yet to even point out that he and Oikawa are supposed to be dating.

He hugs them one by one and lets them ask questions about his education, about his hospital work, about his graduation plans, whether his parents are doing well (though he’s sure they probably know more than he does considering the proximity of their houses).

“We have two rooms booked at the inn,” Oikawa’s mother announces cheerfully, linking her arms with Iwaizumi and Oikawa. “I’m so glad you boys are joining us! It’s been so long and I’m dying to know how you’ve been.”

“She’s been excited about this trip since you called, Tooru,” Oikawa’s father says, laughing heartily as he carries in a couple of bags behind them.

“Oh—let me grab some,” Iwaizumi offers, reaching out to take one of the duffels from Oikawa’s father.

The older man laughs again, shaking his head. “There’s no need to impress us, Hajime. We already know you’re a good guy for Tooru.”

Iwaizumi falters before remembering he is most definitely supposed to be a good guy for Tooru. “Haha,” he says unconvincingly, “yeah…” He scratches his cheek sheepishly and tries to ignore the fact that Oikawa is very obviously trying to suppress a laugh.

Getting situated isn’t too cumbersome. Oikawa’s parents leave them be in their separate room to put aside their bags and get ready to hit the showers before entering the hot springs. If he’s being entirely honest, Iwaizumi isn’t absolutely thrilled about spending the formative part of his day in a very hot environment without clothing but he figures the water will be good for the knots in his muscle. The water will be good for Oikawa’s knee, which still acts up every now and then.

“You’re a terrible actor, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says wryly while rummaging through his bag.

“Shut up.”

“It’s a good thing my parents know you’re awkward!”

“I’m not awkward.”

“Well, Iwa-chan! Maybe you should prove me wrong the—don’t throw your shoe at me, you monster!” Oikawa huffs, petulantly picking up the stray shoe to toss it to the side of the room. “You are truly a heathen.”

“You’re dating a heathen,” Iwaizumi replies nonchalantly. He busies himself with setting up the futon. He figures that the hot springs will be relaxing enough that after soaking in there and grabbing dinner, he’ll be far too lazy to neatly set up his bed for the night. It’s a preemptive measure because Iwaizumi likes to be prepared.

However, as soon as he finishes assembling his futon, Oikawa flops onto it carelessly. He peers up at Iwaizumi innocently before flashing a peace sign, tongue sticking out at the corner of his mouth.

“Thank you for setting up my bed, Iwa-chan!”

Iwaizumi is hardly forgiving. He decides now is as good a time as any to remind Oikawa that he still has no qualms with ruining Oikawa’s hair or wrestling him until he throws in the white flag of surrender. It’s just unfortunate—because right as Iwaizumi’s flipping Oikawa over to pin his arms to his back while Iwaizumi sits there, on his back, the door to their room slides open and of course.

Oikawa’s mother is standing there, a vacant smile on her face as she looks from Iwaizumi’s mildly bewildered expression to the pained expression of her son pinned to the futon.

“I’m so sorry,” she says quickly. “I’m so sorry!”

The door slides shut quickly and Iwaizumi is left to mourn the departure of his remaining pride. He rolls over and off of Oikawa, onto the floor beside the futon.

“She’s seen us wrestling all the time,” Oikawa says huffily, trying in vain to right his shirt and his hair.

“It’s different when she thinks we’re dating, Crappykawa!”

Oikawa is pensive. “Oh.” He bites his lower lip to try to suppress the pure amusement threatening to slip out in the form of a laugh. “Well, Iwa-chan. Very aggressive, aren’t you?”

Oikawa,” he says warningly, “do not forget who’s doing you this favor.”

The smile on Oikawa’s face is not erased so easily and Iwaizumi is too horrified, too humiliated, to even bother with further empty threats on Oikawa’s honor. He’s about to bury himself in the sheets, maybe scream into a pillow, when there’s a faint rapping against their door.

“Hello, boys!” Oikawa’s mother days from the other side. “Whenever you’re ready…but take your time! But…whenever you’re ready, the springs are waiting! Take your time though! Take all of the time you need. Any time at all!”

Iwaizumi covers his face with his hands and lets out a defeated groan. “I quit.”

“You can’t quit true love, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says brightly.

(The pillow to his head is well-deserved.)


After they wash themselves thoroughly, they head to the actual hot spring. It’s indoors so the area is a little more private than it would be if it were outdoors. The towel around Iwaizumi’s waist feels very limiting but he’s more preoccupied with the fact that the floor is kind of slippery. He reaches out instinctively, wrapping his hand around Oikawa’s waist to steady him because certain people are too air-headed to notice things like slippery floors.

“Be careful or you’ll crack your head open,” Iwaizumi says mildly.

Oikawa makes a face. “Can’t you say it nicely?”

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi replies, “but I won’t.”

The hot spring is fairly empty. Oikawa’s father is supposed to join them soon but otherwise, it’s just Iwaizumi and Oikawa. The steam from the water is enticing and Iwaizumi is almost convinced that he might sleep while standing in the warm room. Carefully, he tugs the larger towel off of his waist and slips in, trying in vain to suppress his tiny instinctive winces when he slowly submerges himself in the water.

Oikawa joins him a second after, whining about how hot it is for a solid thirty seconds after seating himself. There’s a comfortable distance between them considering the extra space that they have in the bath. It’s quiet for the most part, once they’re both settled.

“Should we move closer?” Oikawa asks suddenly. “Or would that be weirder for my dad to see?”

“Uh,” Iwaizumi says intelligibly, because he honestly isn’t sure. There’s a good two or three feet between them already and he can’t help but think it’d be weird to bathe with one’s son and his boyfriend when they’re sitting inches away from each other while almost entirely naked. “I think this should be fine.”

Oikawa snickers. When Iwaizumi glances over, he can sees that Oikawa’s cheeks are already flushed from the heat. They’re a nice pink—it almost makes it seem as though Oikawa is blushing, which is a ridiculous but funny thought in itself. The spring, honestly, isn’t that bad. The warm waters are loosening his lingering muscle aches and he can only hope it’s doing the same for Oikawa’s knee.

“What are you smiling about, Iwa-chan? In an onsen too? What a pervert!”

“… Do you want to die, Shittyk—”

The door to the spring opens right then, successfully cutting Iwaizumi off. Oikawa’s father enters, towel wrapped around his waist. His cheeks are already pink too and his gaze flickers from Oikawa to Iwaizumi to the gap between them. There is a knowing smile on his face as he tears his own towel off and clambers into the spring, sitting on the opposite side of Oikawa and Iwaizumi.

“Alright,” Oikawa’s father says calmly, “it’s time for a talk between men. Let’s talk about love, boys.”

Iwaizumi stares, mouth slightly agape. Oikawa looks caught between amused and horrified.

“Let me tell you about when I met my wife—”

“Ah, dad—”

“—you see, I saw her across the room while I was slacking off in my second year mathematics class…”


“I think it’s important to know how to distinguish love from infatuation, infatuation from friendship. My wife and I were good friends up until the middle of my third year—”


“—when I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her—”

Oikawa clears his throat loudly. “You’ve already told us this story.”

“Multiple times,” Iwaizumi adds politely, thinking back to summer park visits with Oikawa and his father and having to listen to this exact same story when all he wanted to do at that age was catch bugs to scare Oikawa with.

“Oh,” Oikawa’s father replies, thoroughly unaffected by the realization. “Well, then we can jump right to the important stuff.”

Iwaizumi has a strong feeling that the important stuff is not going to be his cup of tea.

“For starters, I give you permission to wash each other’s backs.”

“…Sorry?” Iwaizumi blurts out instinctively.

“I’m an accepting man, Hajime. You may wash my son’s back.”

“Oh, uh—no…it’s fine. It’s….it’s really fine.”

“Is there something wrong about Tooru’s back, Hajime?”

“What? No, that’s not—”

“You don’t have to be so meek! I’m sure you boys have done much worse.”

Iwaizumi’s prepared to melt into the water to escape this entire situation. His cheeks are burning and it’s certainly not because of the temperatures. He’s at a loss for words at this point; at least Oikawa’s mother had been careful in stepping around them. He’s about to stammer out an explanation, a vehement denial, when Oikawa’s punctuated laugh clears his mind of its muddled thoughts.

Oikawa is doubled over, laughing into his fist. There are tears forming at the corners of his eyes and Iwaizumi is murderous and incredibly relieved all at once.

“Tooru, are you okay?” Oikawa’s father asks good-naturedly.

Another laugh slips out and it’s more like a hiccup, interjecting Oikawa’s gasps for breath. “Yes,” he says, voice uneven as he looks at Iwaizumi, expression absolutely shining. “I’m just—happy.”

Iwaizumi wants to be angry, wants to be absolutely pissed that he has to deal with these awkward as shit interactions. But. He can’t bring himself to be mad when he’s watching Oikawa struggle to neutralize his face so desperately. A tiny smile slips onto Iwaizumi’s lips as he rolls his eyes, shakes his head (and it might be out of endearment), and lets out an exasperated sigh.

“I have to babysit your son even when he’s like this,” he says jokingly, feeling much more comfortable in his own skin. In his own panic he’d forgotten that the man sitting across from him wasn’t just Oikawa’s father but someone he remembers growing up with too.

Oikawa’s father smiles proudly. “Well, I couldn’t have asked for a better babysitter then.”


Oikawa ends up taking the bed Iwaizumi took the time to prepare before their visit to the hot springs. Iwaizumi makes a big deal out of it just to make a point of how annoying Oikawa is but he doesn’t actually mind by the end of the night because Oikawa knocks out within seconds and he has a hilarious photo of him drooling on his phone now (that he sends to the group chat, of course).

He’s quiet about setting up his own bed, quiet about begrudgingly tucking Oikawa in because he’s a child, as always. The room’s kind of cramped and there’s barely enough room for two futons but he ignores how everything seems to be too close for comfort today. He can’t be bothered.

The entire room is silent as Iwaizumi situates himself in his own bed, turning his body so his back’s facing Oikawa’s back. He closes his eyes, tries not to think too hard so he can fall asleep as quickly as possible but his mind lingers on Oikawa in the hot spring, how he barely managed to stammer out in between peals of laughter that he was happy. Iwaizumi is hardly sure of what that’s supposed to mean, but he figures if this is all it takes to make his best friend happy, he might as well try to keep whatever he’s doing up for a little longer.


The entryway to the onsen inn has a nice little waiting area where visitors can sit and dawdle. It’s where he runs into Oikawa’s mother while he contemplates whether or not he should be productive and go for a morning jog before they head back to Tokyo.

“Good morning, Hajime!” she greets brightly, patting the seat next to her on the wooden bench she’s chosen to occupy.

“Good morning,” he replies before taking the seat. It’s quiet. There aren’t many people awake save for the owner of the inn, who’s just barely holding on to tendrils of consciousness behind the front desk.

“Did you enjoy the springs?”

“They were nice. It’s been awhile since I came.”

Oikawa’s mother beams and Iwaizumi notes for the nth time that their smiles are practically identical. She leans back, crosses her arms against her chest and looks forward purposefully.

“My husband told me that he gave you quite the hard time yesterday,” she says wryly. “I can assure you we’re both very confident in your ability to take care of Tooru though. We know that both of you have made the right decision.”

Iwaizumi nods slowly, carefully, trying not to be too obvious about the very poignant guilt gnawing at the back of his mind.

“Tell me, Hajime. What do you like about Tooru?”

The question should catch him off-guard, but it doesn’t. Any other day and it might have, but he’s been spending a lot more time than necessary wondering what it is about Oikawa that makes it hard to leave. He doesn’t respond immediately because as aware as he is of what compels him to stay, Iwaizumi’s never been great with articulating his thoughts.

“He’s annoying,” Iwaizumi says abruptly. He purses his lips into a firm line, brows furrowed as though he’s deep in contemplation about whether there’s anything beyond just that. “He’s annoying… but in an endearing way. He’s kind of an idiot, your son. He—isn’t actually stupid, but he says this stuff sometimes and I know it’s just to make people laugh. He’s ridiculous. But Oikawa…is a good guy. He’s good at talking to people, connecting people…not just with himself, but connecting people to other people too. It’s kind of hard to see it because he’s so bent on playing this role but he cares a lot more than you’d expect about what others say or think about him.

“Sometimes, he pisses me off. He teases a lot, jokes around, and I’m okay with that. It’s annoying, yeah, but I’m okay with it. It really pisses me off when he’s sad though, or upset. He just kind of…withdraws into himself. And it’s annoying because he shuts everyone out because he doesn’t want people to care. But…”


“But he lets me help him. He knows when to be humble. He’s an idiot most of the time but I guess I’m used to it? I’m used to him, he’s used to me. I can’t imagine not liking him.”

“Ah,” Oikawa’s mother says slowly. There’s a faint smile on her lips, like she’s uncovered a secret that Iwaizumi isn’t aware of. “I’m happy, Hajime. You haven’t mentioned a single thing aside from what’s on the inside!”

Iwaizumi flushes. He’s kind of embarrassed that he just spewed all of that crap about why he’s friends with Oikawa. But he’s kind of happy too—happy that Oikawa’s mother is so visibly pleased.

“You care a lot about Tooru,” she continues. “You’ve cared a lot about him from the start. I’m happy and I know he’s very happy too. I hope you can continue to love and care about him.”

When they were younger, Iwaizumi once saved Oikawa from a single cicada. In retrospect, the act isn’t as a heroic as Iwaizumi recalls, but that’s kind of where it all started. Even after Oikawa grew taller, grew stronger, grew brighter, it was always Iwaizumi who did the protecting.

But if he thinks about it, he can remember moments spent curled up against his own body in their high school locker room, cursing inadequacies, cursing split-second mistakes—he can remember Oikawa protecting him too.

It’s never really been a one-way street for them. Iwaizumi doesn’t think it ever will be.

“Yeah,” he replies quietly. “Yeah, I’ll always care about him. I’ll…always love him.”


Hanamaki: cute pic of your boyf sleeping last night
Matsukawa: the drool was very candid
Oikawa: IWA-CHAN
Oikawa: IWA-CHAN
Hanamaki: he trusted you iwaizumi
Oikawa: I AM SO HURT
Matsukawa: he’s very hurt
Iwaizumi: I’m not the one who uploaded it onto facebook
Oikawa: ….what…
Matsukawa: he’s right
Hanamaki: i did tho

(Twenty minutes later)

Hanamaki: let’s talk about how iwaizumi didn’t deny oikawa being the boyf
Matsukawa: let’s
Iwaizumi: I’ll kill you both


It’s not that difficult faking dates. All they do is disguise their usual dinner outings as romantic rendezvous when Oikawa’s mother calls and asks how they’re doing. Sometimes when glances seem especially doubtful, Iwaizumi sucks it up and laces his fingers with Oikawa’s, all while trying to seem as purposeful as he possible.

He figures it’s because it’s Oikawa, but the initial awkwardness is hardly a hurdle. Their dynamics remain the same, except for the fact that they have more secrets to keep now and Iwaizumi is forced to come to terms with how soft Oikawa’s hands are.

It’s kind of effortless, actually. They’ve always been adapting to each other’s schedules; they’ve always split the chores, alternated covering checks…it’s honestly nothing out of the ordinary and Iwaizumi can’t even remember why he was so worried in the first place. Save for a little extra affection, some minding of his sharp tongue, nothing changes drastically.

An entire month rolls by and Iwaizumi gets home from a hospital run to Oikawa congratulating him on their one-month anniversary and suggesting eating dinner at their favorite donburi place down the street.

“They haven’t bothered me about any of their suitable bachelorettes for a week and a half now,” Oikawa says lackadaisically, taking a sip of his water.

Iwaizumi blinks, clearing his thoughts so he can respond. “So they’re probably over it then?”

“Yeah,” says Oikawa with a nonchalant shrug. He beams. “I guess so!”

“What the hell, stupid?” Iwaizumi groans. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? We can finally drop this act now, geez.”

It’s not that difficult faking dates and pretending to be emotionally tolerant (read: smitten) with Oikawa—but Iwaizumi realizes all too quickly that he’s taken advantage of their ease of interaction because suddenly, Oikawa isn’t smiling. He isn’t laughing or pouting. He’s just, he’s just staring at his bowl of half-eaten food before he finally looks up a second later, brandishing that terrible, guarded smile Iwaizumi has worked so incredibly hard to get rid of over the years.

“Huh,” Oikawa says dully, quietly. He laughs, but it’s fractured—and Iwaizumi knows Oikawa’s upset now. “I guess you’re right, Iwa-chan.”

“It’s fine,” Iwaizumi grumbles, mostly to fill in the gap of wordless silence left behind. “I guess we’re fake-breaking-up now, huh? You won’t have to be embarrassed about dating me anymore.” His tone is teasing, but Oikawa’s laugh is far from receptive.

“I guess you’re right,” Oikawa echoes.

What Iwaizumi learns days later is that it’s not fine. It’s the furthest thing from fine, honestly, because the way Oikawa’s acting—weird, distant, like he’s trying to avoid Iwaizumi with every fiber of his being—isn’t natural. And maybe it’s pompous for Iwaizumi to assume that normalcy entails their interactions falling into a particular rhythm but… It’s annoying, for one; it pisses him off, secondly; and finally, it just kind of bothers Iwaizumi that there’s a huge rift, an unfathomable canyon suddenly standing between them.

He tries to corner Oikawa after he gets back from work when a couple of days stretches into a lot of days of irregular behavior. Oikawa, to Iwaizumi’s relief, doesn’t try to flee when they nearly crash into each other at the kitchen entryway. He stares blankly at Iwaizumi before trying to sidestep him but Iwaizumi grips his arm hastily.

“You okay?” he finds himself asking aloud, expression resigned as he attempts to search for answers in Oikawa’s expression.

But—Oikawa is wearing one of those expressions. He’s placid, disconnected, staring at Iwaizumi dully, like he isn’t looking at him but at a distant spot on the wall behind him.

“It’s nothing,” says Oikawa. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not your job to…” and the rest of the words are jumbled as Iwaizumi narrows his eyes and suppresses an aggravated sigh.

“Hey,” Iwaizumi says roughly, tactlessly, because his patience is running thin too and he’s in need of some type of explanation so he knows what he’s supposed to be apologizing for. “What the hell is wrong with you? You been acting off…weird…these days—”

“I have work to do,” Oikawa says abruptly. There’s a perfectly constructed, practiced smile on his face, apologetic in all of the right ways (superficially, at least) as he jostles past Iwaizumi hastily into the hallway. “Big project. I’ll be in my room, sorry.”

Iwaizumi stares at Oikawa’s retreating back.

Oikawa has walked away from a handful of things: one-sided relationships and overly fanatical extraterrestrial documentaries just to name a few. He’s pushed away plenty of people and it stings the same every time it feels like Iwaizumi might be clumped into that group.

He knows better than to think this is the end of their conversation though. If it were anyone else, he might have admitted defeat—but it’s fucking Oikawa and Iwaizumi’s spent too many years walking beside him to tolerate watching him walk away.

He tries not to think too hard about it; he tries not to linger on Oikawa’s expression; he tries not to repeat Oikawa’s words in his mind—“Don’t worry about it. It’s not your job to worry about me, Iwa-chan.”

Oikawa has walked away from a handful of things but he has never walked away from Iwaizumi before.


He tries not to worry about it too much but it keeps him up at night and has him tossing and turning until sunrise. It’s hard not to linger on the fact that something went wrong yesterday and Iwaizumi is most likely responsible for a good chunk of it. It’s hard not to linger on the fact that Oikawa was smiling yesterday but also not smiling at the same time—which only goes to show that Iwaizumi really fucked up in one way or another.

Oikawa goes to visit his parents in Miyagi in the morning before Iwaizumi wakes up. He does the only reasonable thing he can think of: he goes to Miyagi too.

It’s hard not to linger on the fact that he upset Oikawa so somehow, he ends up at Oikawa’s front door. Saturdays are meant to be spent sleeping in, Iwaizumi figures, but he can only assume that if he was kept up all night thinking about this, Oikawa probably was and still is too.

So he ends up ringing the doorbell even though he’s used to letting himself in unannounced. He goes through the regular greetings when Oikawa’s mom opens the door and smiles at him warmly, obviously feigns shock, before patting him on the shoulder affectionately.

“Uh, so.” He’s avoiding eye contact and he’s aware that this act in itself is probably telling. “Is…Tooru home?”

There’s a knowing glint in her eye when Iwaizumi manages to lift his head back up. It’s probably something terrifyingly beyond his reach—something like a woman’s, no, a mother’s intuition. She ushers him inside and smiles again.

“Trouble in paradise?” she inquires casually.

Iwaizumi nearly chokes and wonders if his face is as red as it feels.

“He’s in his room,” she says simply. “He’s been in his room since he got here.”

He sighs at that, in no mood to try and hide his exasperation. “Thank you,” he says with a bob of his head. Iwaizumi wants to add more; he wants to explain that this joke really has gone far too long and really he’s just here to knock some sense into Oikawa’s head. Instead, he turns on his heel and marches straight to Oikawa’s room. Instead, he thinks about how terrible he feels because he fucking cares about Oikawa and friends who care about each other don’t royally fuck up and have to embark on a wild goose chase to distant prefectures. His explanation, his excuses die on his tongue.

He considers barging in, maybe kicking the door open and announcing that it’s time to talk whether Oikawa wants to or not—but the hesitation, the lingering tension from their strained interactions steers him away. He knocks instead.

There’s a groan on the other side of the door and some indistinct scuffling noises.

“Mom,” Oikawa says mildly, voice muffled, “I’m fine—”

“For the last time, I’m not your mom, Crappykawa.” Iwaizumi rolls his eyes and reaches out to wrap his fingers around the doorknob but almost immediately, he hears Oikawa running to the door and soon after that, the unfamiliar click of the lock. He stares at the doorknob, dumbfounded. “Are you serious?”

“Go away!” Oikawa practically whines.

“God,” Iwaizumi mutters to himself. “Come on. Open the door.”

“I already told my parents that it was a joke so you can leave now. Go away.”

Iwaizumi frowns. He’s positive that Oikawa’s mother was under the impression that this was a lovers’ quarrel, but now is probably not the best time to bring it up. He raps a fist against the door. “…Please open the door.”

“Not even a pretty please could get me to open this door and you’re not very pretty, Iwa-chan!”

The verdict is declared and Iwaizumi figures he should admit defeat, but he lingers, downright glowering at the wood paneling of Oikawa’s door as though it’s to blame for the extra effort he’s being forced to put forth. He turns, contemplating leaving.

“Oi,” Iwaizumi says roughly, leaning his head back against the outside of Oikawa’s bedroom door. He’s feeling a little defeated himself, regretting coming all the way on here on the crowded as fuck train. He exhales deeply before sliding down against the door and onto the ground, seating himself in the hall with his legs spread out before him.

He can hear Oikawa shifting on the other side of the door, maybe pacing, or burrowing himself in his sheets like he always does when he needs to be in his own little world. But Iwaizumi swears he can feel Oikawa’s weight pressing against his back. It might just be wishful thinking.

“Listen,” Iwaizumi starts, staring at a blank spot on the wall in front of him, “I don’t know why you’re so weird these days or what I did wrong but—whatever it was, I’m sorry, okay?”

There’s a punctuated silence as Iwaizumi picks at the frayed edges of his blazer sleeve.

“I’m sorry,” he repeats firmly. “My apology would be a lot more sincere if you told me what’s wrong but…” he trails off purposefully, rolling his eyes to himself.

The barely there noises on the other side of the door stop altogether and Iwaizumi sucks in a breath sharply.

“We can cross that bridge when we get there. Fifty years from now, I’ll be sure to tell your kids about how terrible you are at talking sometimes…so can you just forgive me already? Or at least talk to me, you idiot.” A pause, and Iwaizumi tries not to linger on how hopeless this feels. “Let me in before I make you regret it back home,” he warns, though the threat hardly amounts to anything. At this point, Iwaizumi just wants things to be normal again.

The long pauses, the excruciating lulls in their conversation are starting to feel normal—which is annoying in its own respect. He’s about to get up, about to leave because Iwaizumi knows when people need their space and he’s come to know Oikawa better than he’ll ever know himself. Right as the thought crosses his mind, however, there’s a clicking of the lock and the door flies open.

It catches Iwaizumi off-guard and he ends up landing on his back, head making contact with the floor of Oikawa’s room, right next to Oikawa’s ankles. Iwaizumi looks up as Oikawa looks down at him, thoughtful, pensive, like he’s about to say something.

Instead, he frowns. He pouts.

“You’re so mean, Iwa-chan! Honestly, what kind of a friend threatens someone instead of comforting them?” Oikawa huffs, prodding Iwaizumi’s shoulder with his bare foot.

Iwaizumi shoves Oikawa’s leg away, relishing the manner in which he gracelessly hops around to regain balance afterward. The smile on Oikawa’s face is telling, but Iwaizumi doesn’t push it. For now, he figures if Oikawa’s going to feign normalcy, Iwaizumi might as well play along.

“It got you to open the door, didn’t it?” Iwaizumi replies gruffly, propping himself up on his elbows. “Oi—OI! Don’t close the door on my head, Shittykawa!”

Oikawa smiles wickedly when Iwaizumi removes his arm, raised for defense, from his face.

“Annoying,” Iwaizumi grumbles. He sits up properly and frowns. He hopes his hesitation isn’t noticeable. “You good now?”

“I’m over it,” Oikawa says primly.

“Over what?”

“Over what I need to be over.”

It’s all the explanation Iwaizumi’s going to get so he takes it. “Alright, then help me up,” he says, outstretching a hand to Oikawa.

Oikawa stares at him before smiling wide again. “Are you trying to hold my hand, Iwa-chan? I mean, honestly, your hands are so calloused they might bruise mine…”


Hanamaki: um excuse me?
Hanamaki: i don’t think you guys had my permission to fake break up?
Hanamaki: firstably, how dare you
Matsukawa: now you’ve done it
Hanamaki: i invested in your fake relationship
Hanamaki: i wanted to see its ups and downs!
Hanamaki: we were ALL rooting for you
Hanamaki: frankly i am...disgusted by this lack of commitment…
Iwaizumi: What the fuck are you saying
Hanamaki: be QUIET iwaizumi! i can’t talk to you right now i am so upset
Matsukawa: lol same


It’s normal for a little while. Oikawa bounces back to being his annoying self again and Iwaizumi finds himself okay with that for the most part. They fall back into their original rhythm, the one before fake relationships and fake break-ups that felt too real for Iwaizumi’s tastes.

It’s normal for a little while but Oikawa starts to slip again. It’s unnoticeable at first—he just kind of stays an extra hour or two at work. But then he starts leaving home earlier too, starts holing himself up in his room to do projects when he is home. And Iwaizumi recognizes this pattern all too well; he knows that Oikawa will put up walls and Iwaizumi will have to knock them down, one-by-one, until he can get to Oikawa and just Oikawa.

(Oikawa always compares Iwaizumi to a teddy bear—grizzly on the outside but warm on the inside. Iwaizumi thinks Oikawa’s a crab—hard on the outside and vulnerable on the inside.)

By the time Oikawa gets home from work, it’s already well past seven in the evening. He mumbles a greeting before taking off his shoes and shuffling into his house slippers. He’s unbuttoning his jacket as he makes his way to his room and Iwaizumi takes this as an opportunity to latch onto Oikawa’s arm.

“We need to talk,” he says clearly, succinctly, guiding Oikawa to the couch without much resistance.

He looks tired, in all honesty. The bags beneath Oikawa’s eyes are darker than they usually are and he’s wearing his glasses again, which he only really does when he hasn’t gotten enough sleep. His face is paler, tighter. Iwaizumi can practically feel the tangible aura of exhaustion that Oikawa’s emanating. He hasn’t been sleeping well.

“You’re doing it again, Shittykawa,” Iwaizumi says gruffly, aggravation seeping through every dip of his voice.

Oikawa is quiet, gaze strategically pointed at the wall right behind Iwaizumi’s head.

“Oikawa.” The frown on Iwaizumi’s face deepens as he reaches out and pinches Oikawa’s cheek, watching as Oikawa’s eyes widen in shock and he recoils almost immediately, looking like a wounded puppy.

“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa complains instinctively, rubbing forlornly at his cheek. He’s out of his trance now but he’s aware of it too because he falls quiet again. “You’re such a bully,” he murmurs.

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong or not, dumbass?”

He’s known Oikawa for years, longer than he’s known some of his friends combined. He’s grown accustomed to the way Oikawa fidgets when he doesn’t want to talk, the way he smiles differently when he’s lying through his damn teeth. So this, this is terrifying. This—Oikawa looking at him carefully, gaze filled with apprehension, with complete and total defeat—is reminiscent of worse days spent hunched over Oikawa’s trembling figure after volleyball games, after doctor’s appointments, after every time something unfairly heavy landed on Oikawa’s shoulders.

“I like you, stupid.” Oikawa is quiet, withdrawn. His voice is barely above a whisper as he tears his gaze away from Iwaizumi and looks at his own hands. “I’m in love with you.”

A part of Iwaizumi wants to smack him upside the head and tell him to stop joking. The better half of Iwaizumi knows this is the furthest thing from a joke. Oikawa is stupid, obnoxious, and sometimes he’s too air-headed for his own good, but he’s startlingly genuine when it counts the most.

This—right now. It counts the most.

“I know I’m a dumbass,” Oikawa continues, clenching his hands into fists, “but it’s getting so tiring trying to ignore all of this—everything. I’m in love with you, Iwa-chan. I’ve been in love with you since high school. It… probably wasn’t fair of me though, huh? It wasn’t fair of me to ask you to be my fake boyfriend and everything because I probably enjoyed it more than anything. You know, it felt real sometimes…like when you’d look at me and sort of forget I was watching and just—just smile at me?

“I wanted you to keep looking at me like that. I wanted you to kiss me so badly. I wanted so many things, and I know I’m selfish, Iwa-chan but—I wanted to be selfish. Don’t hate me. Please don’t hate me. I’m terrible at pretending around you.”

He isn’t really sure how to respond. Iwaizumi’s always been like this, a little thick-headed when it comes to confessions and romance and everything in between. This isn’t just a face he barely recognizes from high school or university though. This is his best friend. This is Oikawa Tooru confessing to him.

He needs to respond, to say something comforting, to get rid of this preconceived notion Oikawa has that Iwaizumi will hate him. They’ve been together for years—something like this can’t tear them apart.

Or at least, it shouldn’t be able to.

“Thanks,” Iwaizumi finally manages to force off of his tongue, “for telling me. It was probably hard and you are a dumbass but at least you’re a brave one.”

Oikawa hazards a glance at Iwaizumi’s face.

“I can’t—I can’t give you the response you want,” says Iwaizumi slowly, and he can feel pinpricks on the back of his neck, some sort of burning sensation like his body’s telling him this is wrong, “but I wouldn’t hate you over something like this, idiot. Yeah, so let’s just keep it at that. Thanks for telling me but it isn’t going to push me away.”

Relief floods onto Oikawa’s face and he smiles. Iwaizumi smiles too. He tries to ignore the lingering hurt in Oikawa’s eyes.

This is how it’s supposed to go, Iwaizumi tells himself. This is what he’s supposed to do.


Oikawa’s workload picks up again and Iwaizumi’s busy preparing for his graduation exams come November. The normalcy settles in their apartment again and Iwaizumi is grateful for it—grateful for a return to simpler days. He isn’t sure if it’s because of their talk or because Oikawa’s stellar at acting, but everything feels effortlessly normal, like no confrontations happened at all.

He isn’t complaining. He doesn’t really have the right to.

The apartment is empty save for him and his stack of medical books. He’s been studying since eight in the morning, early enough to say bye to Oikawa as he left for work. It’s noon now and four straight hours of studying merits a break in Iwaizumi’s book.

He forces himself away from the dining room table and hurls himself onto the couch, flopping onto it unceremoniously, face buried into one of the cushions. Iwaizumi’s luck is stellar because as soon as he lies down, the landline starts ringing. Most people don’t call their home phone though so he lets himself assume that it’s a telemarketer trying to sell their soul for twenty dollars plus shipping and handling.

There’s a long beep and voicemail clicks on.

“Tooru?” It’s Oikawa’s mother. “I tried calling you back on your cell phone but you wouldn’t pick up! A son too busy for his mother? I’m heartbroken!”

Iwaizumi snickers.

“Anyway… I wanted to let you know that if you are absolutely positive about meeting this girl, I will call her parents. She’s a very sweet lady—daughter of one of my book club friends. But…” Oikawa’s mother trails off thoughtfully. “Just think it through, Tooru. I know you’re busy. Why else would you have asked Hajime to…ah. Call me back when you can and we’ll talk more! Love you, sweetie!”

He stills. Iwaizumi lifts his head from the cushion and stares at the phone from where he’s sprawled out. Huh. So Oikawa’s trying it out, trying out the whole blind dates thing even though he’d gone out of his way to avoid it.

Iwaizumi purses his lips, digging his elbows into the couch so his torso is upright.

This isn’t. This isn’t really his concern. He kind of feels like he accidentally eavesdropped on a conversation that was intended to be private. He shouldn’t be thinking about this, shouldn’t be wondering why Oikawa suddenly had a change of heart (though, he feels like he knows why and that makes it worse). He shouldn’t be wondering if the girl is pretty, if she’s kind, if she’ll know how to deal with Oikawa when he’s at his absolute shittiest.

He shouldn’t care.

And it pisses him off that he does.


“Hello, Matsukawa Issei speaking. I’d like to order a—”

Oi,” Iwaizumi says tersely, “what kind of an idiot picks up a call and tries to order food?”

“This is terrible service,” Matsukawa says solemnly in response. “I would like to speak to your manager.”

“This is the manager speaking,” Hanamaki interjects, evidently by taking Matsukawa’s phone.

Iwaizumi already regrets this. He regrets this so much that he’s considering just hanging up right then and there—but as the thought comes to mind, his friends’ laughter floats through the receiver and he can only sigh.

“This was a mistake,” he says.

“On the contrary, Iwaizumi. This is a phone call.”


“Okay, we’re kidding.” Matsukawa reclaims the phone. “What do you need?”

He doesn’t actually know what he wanted to ask, just that he was annoyed and needed some sort of explanation as to why he was annoyed. In retrospect, Iwaizumi probably should have thought this through. His silence must be telling because Matsukawa clicks his tongue disapprovingly.

“You missed us that much?”

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi replies.

Matsukawa hums thoughtfully. “Is this about your fake boyfriend?”

“Fake ex-boyfriend,” Hanamaki says in the background. “Ex-fake-boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says instead of humoring Hanamaki, “it is.”

There’s a long silence on both ends of the conversation. Iwaizumi distracts himself by picking at the edges of his notebook cover. He still doesn’t know how to word it. He still isn’t sure how to ask for some insight, for an explanation. He shouldn’t be annoyed, pissed—he has no reason to be. Oikawa is Oikawa and it’s perfectly reasonable for him to go off and dive headfirst into his own love life even if he’d been so vehement about it just a month and a half ago. It’s not Iwaizumi’s problem.

“You’ve always been a little slow about this kind of stuff, Iwaizumi,” Matsukawa finally says.

“It’s not your fault though. You were always busy babysitting His Highness,” Hanamaki adds. He laughs lightly. “I guess it’s different now though, huh? Since it’s not some poor stranger in question but Oikawa himself.”

“What are you guys talking about?” The aggravation in his voice must be blatantly obvious because all Iwaizumi gets is a series of snickers. “God damn it.”

“This is what you’re going to have to do,” Hanamaki begins. “Picture yourself in five years at a wedding.”

“Oikawa’s wedding,” Matsukawa cuts in. “Think about where you’d like to be.”

“Where I’d like to be?” Iwaizumi repeats.

“Yeah, like—where are you standing in this wedding?”

“What does that even—”

“Don’t complain until you try it,” Hanamaki chastises. “Well! Our lunch break’s over so we wish you the best of luck. Drinks are on you once you figure your life out.”

“Have a good time,” says Matsukawa, and Iwaizumi can hear Hanamaki’s faint “in bed” in the background before the dial tone hits him.

Iwaizumi stares at his phone and then at his notes before him. With a sigh, he tosses his phone aside on the dining room table and picks up his pencil again, bent on getting back into studying instead of humoring the idea of his less-than-helpful friends.

It’s a ridiculous thought in itself. Where would he be standing in Oikawa’s wedding? Probably behind him as one of his groomsmen, maybe even the best man. Hanamaki and Matsukawa would be right beside him. They’d be on their best behavior even though they’re usually not—because it’s Oikawa. Yeah, he’s the butt of their jokes, but they care about Oikawa. Iwaizumi cares about Oikawa too. He thinks his wedding would be nice. Oikawa would look picture perfect in his tux as always and the bride, she’d probably be beautiful too.

There’s a lurch in his stomach and Iwaizumi grips his pencil tighter.

He’d be happy for him. Iwaizumi would be beyond happy for him. What more could a guy ask for? Watching his best friend get married to the love of his life—yeah. He’d be happy. But it’s so hard putting a face to the bride. It’s so hard trying to imagine who Oikawa might ultimately end up with. They’d have to learn through trial and error how to deal with him when he’s sad, when he’s angry—at himself, at the world. They’d have to go through a lot, condense an entire lifetime of learning into a couple of years just so Oikawa can be happy. Because that’s the most important part, yeah.

Where is Iwaizumi standing in this wedding?

He stares at his notebook. The notes are from one of the earlier chapters, back during Year 4 of his degree. He remembers hating Year 4; a lot of his classmates chose to repeat it and he almost considered it too, but right at the last minute his competitive urge kicked in because he wanted to keep up with Sugawara and his genius self. Year 4 was a hard time and Iwaizumi spent the latter half of it being coaxed into taking breaks by Oikawa.

He turns the page. In the margin, there’s a cartoon drawing of an angry man with a big forehead. Iwaizumi thinks it’s supposed to be him but he doesn’t remember drawing it. Beneath it, there’s a blurb of text he recognizes as Oikawa’s handwriting.

iwa-chan is the most capable guy i know!!! you can do this, you big bully!!!

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes but a smile slips out before he can stop himself. Oikawa’s future partner would have to be receptive too—they’d have to learn to love him, but they’d realize just as quickly that Oikawa’s giant heart is reserved entirely for them. They’d have to be patient, but it’d all be worth it in the end. Oikawa would make them happy. He’d make them happy beyond belief.

He drops his pencil against his notebook and stares at the doodle, at the note.


He knows where he’s standing in this wedding. Oikawa doesn’t have many close friends despite how openly he approaches people. Iwaizumi would be a groomsman; he’d be the best man, without a doubt.


But that isn’t where he wants to be standing. He knows where he wants to be standing—he can’t fucking believe where he wants to be standing because if he thinks about it, if he puts everything his mind and heart are trying to tell him together, piece-by-piece, he’s always known where he wants to be standing.

Iwaizumi jolts up from his seat and walks briskly to the front door, grabbing his jacket while he’s slipping on his shoes. He’s out of the door in ten seconds flat, skipping every other step as he sprints down six flights of stairs. The marketing firm Oikawa works at is a five minute walk from their building. If Iwaizumi sprints, he can probably make it in two and a half.

So he sprints. He sprints like his whole entire life depends on it. He sprints past people and ignores the way they stare at him—him, in his tattered Tokyo University sweatshirt and sweats that he’s pretty sure aren’t even his; him, in his goddamn slippers because he put on the wrong shoes.

It’s no trouble at all getting past the security. Virtually everyone on the first floor recognizes him for the number of times he’s had to drop off Oikawa’s forgotten folders for presentations or even his lunch. He’s horribly out of place here in his sweats and slippers and any other day he might have felt humanly self-conscious about it.

Today is a little different though. Today, he ignores the lingering stares and practically jumps out of the elevator as soon as it hits the fourteenth floor. The receptionist nearly flinches out of her seat from the shock but relaxes upon seeing Iwaizumi.

“O-Oh! Iwaizumi-san!” She smiles brightly before gesturing behind Iwaizumi. “Oikawa-san is taking his lunch break in the break room! You can find him there.”

“Thank you,” he replies, trying his best not to sound as out of breath as he feels. The break room’s right behind him and he wastes no time trying to gather the remnants of his composure before he enters, unannounced.

Oikawa’s the only one in the room. He’s flipping idly through a packet of paperwork while munching on a carrot stick. He doesn’t even lift his head, gaze glued to the documents in front of him.

“Oi,” Iwaizumi calls out.

It’s then that Oikawa lifts his head. Recognition colors his face and he blinks, eyes wide. “Iwa-chan? What are you doing here? Why are you dressed like such a slob!”

“Shut up,” Iwaizumi says instinctively—and he kind of regrets it since he was hoping to be nicer about this. “We need to talk.”

Oikawa purses his lips together, obviously still critical of Iwaizumi’s less than savory fashion choice. “Okay? What do we need to talk about?”

This is a weird set-up. Oikawa’s sitting at a corner table by himself and Iwaizumi’s standing there, just three or four feet away from him. Suddenly, he feels wary of his surroundings—wary about what he has to say. Iwaizumi mutters choice words under his breath before jamming his hands into the front pocket of his sweatshirt. He looks away.

“Alright, I thought about it,” he starts slowly. “I thought about it while I should been studying for my exams so I can finally beat Sugawara in ranking but that’s not the point. I thought about it. That’s the point. I thought about you of all people and I tried picturing it: you, in the future with a pretty girl by your side. You’d probably be happy, you know? And I think I would have tried to be happy for you too. But I thought about it and I wasn’t happy.

“I—fuck. I can’t do this cheesy shit but let me be upfront about it. I wasn’t happy because I want it, your future, to be us. I know it should be us. In the future, I want to be next to you. In the future, I want you next to me. Oikawa—Tooru. I want us.”

The silence is terrifying and he wonders if this is how Oikawa felt when Iwaizumi couldn’t figure out how to speak, how to respond. Oikawa is staring at him, lips parted and eyes round even behind the thick lenses of his glasses. He looks disheveled, lost, terribly confused.

“Iwa-chan…” he begins, gaze fixated on Iwaizumi with earnest. “That was…so cheesy.”

He’s about to respond, maybe tell Oikawa to shut the fuck up because he just sacrificed the remainder of his pride to execute this ridiculous confession but it’s right then that Oikawa starts laughing again. Iwaizumi is reminiscent of the onsen, watching as Oikawa tries in vain to quiet himself. He can’t help but sigh. It might be out of exasperation, might be out of relief. But Iwaizumi sighs and rolls his eyes to cover up the fact that his cheeks feel warm.

“Why are you laughing?”

Oikawa purses his lips together in a futile attempt at suppressing his smile. “I’m just…happy.”

And Iwaizumi’s glad. He’s glad because he thinks this is how it was supposed to end—or begin—in the first place. He’s glad because he thinks this is what he wanted from the start.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says again after his laughter subsides, snapping Iwaizumi out of his brief reverie. The smile on his face is blindingly bright and Iwaizumi feels his heart skip a beat or five hundred all at once. “You forgot to say something.”

“What now?” Iwaizumi grumbles, wondering if the flush on his cheeks is still there or gone by now. He stares at the ground, feigns interest in the tiling pattern so he doesn’t have to look Oikawa in the eyes just yet.

Oikawa’s in front of him before he knows it. When Iwaizumi glances up, Oikawa is beaming, smiling, so damn happy. His arms come to circle around Iwaizumi’s waist and he’s pulling him close, resting his head on Iwaizumi’s shoulder. He can feel Oikawa’s heartbeat against his chest and it’s kind of hard to breathe but not…in a bad way.

“Thank you,” Oikawa mumbles against Iwaizumi’s neck. “I love you.”

Iwaizumi can feel his knees wobble, his legs grow weak. He smiles. He smiles and lets himself enjoy this, this hard-earned happy ending. This is where he thinks things will start to get easier. He’s relieved, in all honesty; he’s incredibly grateful too. He’s spent so much of his life with Oikawa by his side, he isn’t sure how he ever imagined life without.

“Yeah,” he replies quietly, softly, bringing his hand up to gently brush Oikawa’s cheek, “I love you too.”

Oikawa lifts his head then, straightens up so he can look Iwaizumi right in the eye. He can read everything on Oikawa’s face: the happiness, the pure relief. This is the kind of expression he wants Oikawa to wear at all times.

“You took so long,” Oikawa whines childishly.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Iwaizumi says, and he gives Oikawa no time to respond, pulling him down to kiss him, sure and confident.

When he pulls away, Oikawa looks misty-eyed before cupping Iwaizumi’s cheeks and kissing him back again, and again, and again—

(Later, when Iwaizumi has to leave and Oikawa has to get back to work, they exit the break room together, hands bumping. The receptionist looks up from behind her computer, a faint blush on her cheeks. She ducks her head as soon as Iwaizumi and Oikawa look over before mumbling out what might be a congratulations. Iwaizumi flusters and Oikawa grins.

“Yachi-chan has been rooting for us from the start!”)


Hanamaki: how are you guys doing
Matsukawa: in bed
Matsukawa: are you guys happy now
Hanamaki: in bed
Oikawa: well
Iwaizumi: Actually yeah
Hanamaki: wat
Iwaizumi: We’re happy in bed
Oikawa: we’re doing great in bed
Oikawa: ;-)
Hanamaki: no
Matsukawa: oh my god
Hanamaki: NO STOP
Hanamaki: I AM SO….. DISGUSTED
Matsukawa: this is terrible i need to go pray