After knowing Oikawa for thirteen unfortunate years of his life, Iwaizumi can recognize an Oikawa-related trainwreck when he sees one. Sometimes it’s a text along the lines of ‘Iwa-chan, I threw a glitter bomb in Makki-chan’s shoe locker today! I hope he’s not too angry~!’ or ‘Did you know Ushiwaka-chan has an anonymous Q&A today? I think that’s very interesting.’ Sometimes it’s the hollowness of a laugh or the favoring of one leg over the other. Sometimes there’s nothing physical that alerts Iwaizumi to a problem; sometimes it’s just his instinctual understanding of Oikawa, born and bred of a bond thicker than blood, which alerted him to a disturbance in Oikawa’s demeanor that foretold of a bigger problem.
This, however, was new.
‘Let’s do something different this Friday!’ Oikawa’s text cheerfully suggests.
Iwaizumi doesn’t understand. What was wrong with their Friday night tradition? He had thought Oikawa liked their movie nights and take-out food. It wasn’t anything terribly exciting, but after a long week of volleyball—especially come championship time—it was a great way to unwind and relax. Or rather, it was Iwaizumi’s way of ensuring that Oikawa laid down, calmed down, and actually got a good night’s sleep for once. Talking about volleyball or watching videos about volleyball was strictly prohibited, despite Oikawa’s whining. Iwaizumi’s phone buzzes.
‘I want to make a home-cooked meal!’ Oikawa elaborates.
Iwaizumi wishes that once, just once, his instincts wouldn’t be so on point. This was going to be a disaster. ‘You can’t cook,’ he replies, because he knows it’s true. Oikawa gets too distracted from his cooking and never has all the necessary ingredients, which leads to substitutions in the recipe, which leads to an end result that is almost always terrible and inedible. (Iwaizumi knows—he’s been the unwilling guinea pig in all of Oikawa’s kitchen experiments since middle school.)
‘How cruel of you to crush my hopes and dreams of being a star chef, Iwa-chan :’(’ Iwaizumi snorts and rolls his eyes. ‘Besides, I only want to make pork skewers. How hard can that be?’ Oh lord.
‘We’re not hanging out at my place,’ Iwaizumi asserts. ‘You can perform your hell cooking in your own damn kitchen.’
‘Fine, but that means I get to pick the movie,’ Oikawa replies. ‘It was your turn to host!’
Iwaizumi knows for a fact that Oikawa doesn’t care whose house they spend their Friday nights at, nor would he be this petty over something like having Iwaizumi over. However, Iwaizumi also knows that Oikawa had been eyeing up the color release of an old American alien film. “This one actually has Japanese subtitles!” Oikawa had exclaimed excitedly. “We don’t have to look for a fan-subbed stream this time!”
“We? This is your weird hobby,” Iwaizumi had groused. “Don’t drag me into it.”
(But it’s not like he didn’t enjoy having Oikawa warm in his arms, squirming like a kid at the tense parts and laughing at the protagonists’ misfortunes when the aliens attacked. As boring as watching supernatural film after supernatural film could be, seeing Oikawa shining bright with genuine cheer, free from the weight of school and his sport, never got old.)
‘Fine, fine, you pick the movie,’ Iwaizumi concedes without much of a fight. It was hard to deny Oikawa these kinds of harmless victories.
‘Yes!! Come over soon, Iwa-chan! And bring your appetite, too!’ Oikawa responds enthusiastically.
Iwaizumi struggles to fight down the smile that stretches across his face. “Dork,” he mutters aloud to no one.
His good mood evaporates slightly when—as he lets himself into Oikawa’s house, murmuring an “excuse the intrusion” under his breath—the first thing he notices is the scent of burning. Scowling, Iwaizumi kicks off his shoes and marches into the kitchen.
Thankfully, nothing actually appears to be on fire. Yet. Oikawa is fanning the fire alarm with a dish towel, a cooking sheet of very sad and very charred pork skewers resting on the stovetop. He looks dejected. “Oi,” Iwaizumi says. “What’d you do this time?”
Oikawa jumps a foot. “I-Iwa-chan, hello! I didn’t hear you come in,” he stutters, hiding the dish towel behind his back. He glances from Iwaizumi to the sheet and back, and his shoulders slump. “I, ah, got distracted again.”
“Unsurprising,” Iwaizumi snorts, stepping closer. He picks up one of the skewers and examines one of the pieces of meat. It resembles a chunk of charcoal rather than pork, but Iwaizumi sucks it up and takes a bite anyway. Oikawa looks hopeful.
Iwaizumi chokes. “Horrible,” he groans. “They’re completely inedible.” Sighing, he carefully lifts the cooking sheet and dumps the remaining skewers in the trash.
Behind him, Oikawa squawks indignantly. “Iwa-chan, how can you be so mean? I made those with love!”
“I told you, didn’t I?” Iwaizumi repeats. “You can’t cook.” When he turns around, though, he sees that Oikawa has migrated to a chair and draped himself forlornly over it, looking miserable and defeated in his mom’s pink apron. ‘Kiss The Cook,’ the apron declares, and Iwaizumi feels suddenly and unreasonably fond of him.
“Hey,” Iwaizumi says, nudging Oikawa’s knee gently and crouching to meet his eyes. “It’s always more fun when we do things together, isn’t it? Why would cooking be any different?” Oikawa sniffles.
“I wanted to do something nice for you for once…” he explains in a small voice. He headbutts Iwaizumi softly. “You’re always looking after me, but I never get to look after you. How’s that fair at all?”
Iwaizumi may not be a Grinch, but he feels his heart grow three sizes in that moment. “You…” he starts, then pulls Oikawa into a tight hug, nearly knocking him off-balance. “You’re fine just as you are,” he murmurs into Oikawa’s hair.
“Stoooppp,” Oikawa protests. “I feel all warm and tender inside when you say stuff like that; it’s gross!” He giggles and pushes Iwaizumi off, revived from his moment of sadness. “If you know so much about cooking, then show me how it’s done, Iwa-chan.”
Iwaizumi rolls his eyes, but moves to the counter. At the very least, Oikawa seems to have gathered all the necessary ingredients and even chopped the meat correctly and made the glaze. Perhaps he can learn after all, Iwaizumi thinks, amused. Pulling out new skewers, he threads the pork slices along the skewer’s length while Oikawa catcalls his arm muscles and watches. He looks poised and content, one leg crossed over the other, still in his ridiculous apron. The shine in his eyes is a hungry one, and not just for the dinner Iwaizumi was making them. Well, maybe not.
“If you could pay attention to your cooking like you paid attention to rival volleyball teams and my arms, this wouldn’t even be a problem,” Iwaizumi sighs after the pork has been in the oven for a while. “Just set a timer next time.”
“Mhmm,” Oikawa replies, not listening at all. He gets up to fiddle with the radio station his phone is playing, swaying his hips in time to the music. Iwaizumi makes a point to roll his eyes and ignore Oikawa’s antics, pulling the skewers out of the oven.
“You know, you could always help me,” Iwaizumi says pointedly.
“I am!” Oikawa says, too close. Iwaizumi feels the press of warm hands to his hips. “I’m putting on music to set the mood.” Iwaizumi can feel the warmth of Oikawa’s chest, close to his back, and movement of his body as he dances.
“I’d rather you pay attention to how I glaze the pork,” Iwaizumi grumbles, but doesn’t complain further when Oikawa tucks his head over Iwaizumi’s shoulder, singing softly in his ear. It’s little more than a gentle hum and the puff of breath, but it’s enough to get Iwaizumi to sway with Oikawa in time to the music, a smile playing at the corner of his lips. “Honestly, Oikawa,” he sighs. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Love me, feed me, never leave me,” Oikawa croons in his ear, pecking him on the cheek before skipping back as Iwaizumi opens the oven to put the pork in one last time. “I’ll go put the movie on!”
“Yeah, yeah, as soon as there’s real work to be done you get going,” Iwaizumi scoffs. Oikawa makes some noise of protest, but Iwaizumi ignores him, changing the radio station to his kind of music. Humming, he gets the dishes started since (predictably) Oikawa hadn’t cleaned up his mess of an attempt to cook. He throws in some of the other dishes lying around out of pity for the Oikawas, having to deal with a troublesome child like Tooru.
The warm water feels good on his hands, and it’s not like Iwaizumi hates cleaning. It could be annoying at times, but he likes organizing and tidying when he isn’t busy with something else. He’s so involved in his task that he doesn’t notice Oikawa’s return.
“You’re so handy, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa scoffs. “You should just marry me already.” Iwaizumi flicks him with soapy water and he squeaks.
“Who would want to marry a man-child like you?” Iwaizumi counters. “Make yourself useful and take the skewers out of the oven.”
“I take it all back,” Oikawa mutters under his breath, but obeys. He’s only able to hold a grumpy face for a moment, though, because as soon as the smell of the pork hits his nose, he’s drooling with joy. “Nevermind, nevermind! Iwa-chan has to marry me now!” He immediately dives to pick one up and cries out when it’s hot on his fingers.
“Careful!” Iwaizumi snaps, finishing up with the dishes. He wipes his hands on a dish towel and walks over to Oikawa. Taking Oikawa’s hand carefully in his own, Iwaizumi examines his fingers for burns, gently brushing the pads of his fingers over Oikawa’s. He finds the red ones and sticks them in his mouth, running his tongue over them to soothe the burn. When he removes them, the red has migrated to Oikawa’s cheeks and he’s looking at Iwaizumi with huge eyes. “Better?” Iwaizumi asks, raising an eyebrow.
“Um,” Oikawa replies.
“If you’re okay, go back to the couch,” Iwaizumi shoos him. “I’ll bring the food in a moment—I have to put a little seasoning on it.” Oikawa stumbles back out of the kitchen in a daze. Weirdo, Iwaizumi thinks.
He follows Oikawa a few minutes later, balancing two plates of food. When he looks up, Oikawa has recovered, sprawling across the length of the couch in a ridiculous pose Iwaizumi thinks is supposed to be ‘sexy.’ He waggles his eyebrows at Iwaizumi.
“Netflix and chill? Ow, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa protests when Iwaizumi kicks his feet off the sofa.
“Eat the food you whined so much over and stop being gross,” Iwaizumi orders. Oikawa sits up and scoots closer to Iwaizumi so he can eye the plates. Rolling his eyes fondly, Iwaizumi lifts up one of the skewers for Oikawa to bite off of. Making a pleased noise, Oikawa takes a bite, then makes an even more pleased noise at the taste.
“They’re delicious! Oh, wow, the best ones I’ve ever had,” Oikawa exclaims. He sounds so genuine that all Iwaizumi can do is shove the plate into his hands and duck his head, embarrassed.
“’S nothing,” he mumbles. Clearing his throat, Iwaizumi asks: “So what are we watching tonight?”
Oikawa pokes the remote with his foot and the TV flickers to life. Iwaizumi, expecting the silly alien movie Oikawa had wanted to see, nearly drops his food when he sees the actual movie queued up. “…Godzilla?” He says in a small voice.
Oikawa nods. “It’s the new one. You wanted to see it, didn’t you? Since you couldn’t see it in theaters.” Iwaizumi gapes, but Oikawa isn’t looking at him at all, focusing intently on his pork, a pink tint to his ears. It wasn’t like Iwaizumi made an effort to hide that he was a big fan of the Godzilla movies, but he hadn’t thought—and Oikawa had been so insistent that he pick the movie—
“Did you do this for me?” Iwaizumi asks softly.
“W-Well, it’s not like I’m especially opposed to it,” Oikawa sniffs. “Godzilla’s pretty cool, I guess. He looks kind of like you.”
Iwaizumi looks from the screen, to Oikawa, and back. “You think so?” He asks, awed.
“I wish you’d look at me that starry eyed!” Oikawa whines. “I can’t believe I’m losing to a giant lizard!”
He takes another breath to complain, but Iwaizumi’s hand is on his cheek, guiding Oikawa’s lips to his, and the words fly out of his brain as the air flies out of his lungs. Iwaizumi only kisses him briefly, but it’s full and warm against Oikawa’s mouth, and the callouses on his hand feel rough against Oikawa’s skin.
“Thank you,” Iwaizumi says, and Oikawa sinks into his lap, burying his face in Iwaizumi’s leg and making pathetic noises of embarrassment into his jeans. Iwaizumi laughs and starts the movie, tearing into his own skewers.
At some point, Oikawa emerges from his safe haven buried in Iwaizumi’s leg and turns to watch the movie. And at some point, Iwaizumi’s hand drops into Oikawa’s hair and he starts to stroke it, fingers running through the strands and scratching at his scalp. The sensation of Iwaizumi’s warm fingers slowly carding through his hair makes Oikawa sink boneless against him. He doesn’t really want to fall asleep on their special night together, but if Iwaizumi keeps doing this…
“The image of you drooling on my leg is a lot more suitable to you as a person than that stupid peace sign pose you always do,” Iwaizumi says, struggling to keep down a laugh.
Oikawa jerks upright, in an instant, wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand and sputtering at Iwaizumi. “I can’t believe—! And you just let me—! Oh god, what an ugly face,” Oikawa moans, covering his face with his hands.
“Oh, come on,” Iwaizumi teases. “As far as your face goes, I think it’s an improvement.”
Oikawa punches him hard in the arm, and Iwaizumi laughs louder. He pauses the movie and holds his arms open. “Hey now—kiss and make up?” Oikawa glares. Iwaizumi makes a beckoning motion with his hands and Oikawa scoots a little closer, scrunching up his nose. Iwaizumi slides down so that he’s lying on the couch with Oikawa. He pulls his still-wounded setter on top of him and kisses his nose. “It really was kind of cute,” he insists.
“I hate you,” Oikawa says vehemently.
“I know.” A kiss on his forehead.
“You tease me way too much, you hear?”
“I do.” A kiss on one cheek.
“And…and I don’t like it at all!”
“I believe you.” A kiss on the other cheek.
“Really, I don’t get why I put up with you.”
“Hmm.” A kiss on the mouth.
“Iwa-chan, you can’t just…cuddle your way out of trouble.” And another.
“I know.” Another.
“So you…should just…” Another.
Oikawa’s hands frame Iwaizumi’s jaw, fingers splayed across either side of his face, and he tilts Iwaizumi’s jaw to kiss him better. Iwaizumi’s hands are pressed to the small of Oikawa’s back protectively, legs twined together. Oikawa feels warm. So, so warm.
“So I should…what?” Iwaizumi asks softly when they break apart.
“…Put the movie back on so I can watch and pretend to be mad at you some more,” Oikawa decides on, and Iwaizumi unpauses it obediently.
Iwaizumi doesn’t go back to stroking Oikawa’s hair, but he does occasionally run his hands up and down Oikawa’s back soothingly—maybe subconsciously—but it makes Oikawa feel safe and loved. In return, Oikawa draws pictures all over Iwaizumi’s skin. Images of their hometown over his bicep; Aoba Johsai’s court across his collarbone. The names of their friends in scattered patches. The kanji of Oikawa Tooru and Iwaizumi Hajime under an umbrella over his heart.
“Oi,” Iwaizumi says after a while, drawing Oikawa’s attention to his face. “What’re you doing?” He asks, bemused.
Oikawa smiles. “I’m making you into an art piece with all my finger drawings,” he replies proudly, snuggling closer into Iwaizumi’s chest and wiggling his fingers.
“No, I mean,” Iwaizumi sighs, stroking a thumb across Oikawa’s cheek. “I mean, what have you been doing this entire night? Trying to make me dinner, picking a movie you knew I’d love…it’s selfless and quite unlike you.”
“Oh! The slander!” Oikawa protests. “I’ll have you know I can be very—”
“Tooru,” Iwaizumi stops him, and Oikawa deflates.
For a moment, he doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t meet Iwaizumi’s eyes. He lies there, stiff and still as a board. Then, unfurling gently, he relaxes into Iwaizumi again, smothering his face in Iwaizumi’s shirt and mumbling something incoherent. This burrowing seems to be a recurring theme, tonight, Iwaizumi thinks, but he doesn’t understand just what is driving Oikawa to recede so far into himself when usually he was exuberant, filling the space around him. That’s the Oikawa Iwaizumi knew—the one who was larger than life and inhabited every space he entered, like light filtering through an open window.
This Oikawa wasn’t a shell of the Oikawa Iwaizumi knew, but rather…he appeared to be in hibernation. Hiding away from something, running away from something. Iwaizumi sighs and tweaks his ear. Oikawa was so unreasonable when he wasn’t being straightforward (so all the time, basically). “Come on, you can tell me,” Iwaizumi coaxes him. “Something’s clearly wrong for you to be acting so thoughtful, and I want to help.”
“Don’t taunt me, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa snaps. “You know exactly what’s going on; how can you blame me for wanting to do something nice for you?”
Now Iwaizumi really is confused. “What’s going on?” He asks. “I don’t understand.”
Oikawa sighs noisily. “You got into Tohoku University, didn’t you? I saw the letter.” Iwaizumi sucks in a breath. So that’s what all the fuss was about. “I know it’s your first choice school,” Oikawa continues, voice dropping to a mumble. “And I was already set on Todai, anyway, so…”
“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi says.
“I guess I just wanted to make the most of our time together,” Oikawa whispers.
“Tooru, stop,” Iwaizumi says gently, taking Oikawa’s face in his hands. He swipes at the tears building in the corners of Oikawa’s eyes. “You sure are an idiot, aren’t you?”
“Hajime—” Oikawa chokes, shocked.
“No, you really are,” Iwaizumi asserts. “I mean, yeah, sure, I got into Tohoku. And yes, that’s where I’ll be going to college. But why does that mean anything has to change?”
“Statistically speaking, long-distance relationships—”
“Fuck statistics,” Iwaizumi says with feeling. “The odds have always been against you and against us. The odds of us winning against Shiratorizawa, the odds of your knee healing fully, the odds of you going pro—aren’t you tired of always having your chances taken away from you?”
“I love you, Tooru,” Iwaizumi whispers. “I love you, and I’m willing to fight tooth and nail to make any future situation that comes our way work. I love you, and I’m tired of watching you get torn down over and over because the likelihood of happiness wasn’t in your favor. So fuck statistics. Won’t you try and make this work, too?”
“God, Hajime—yes, of course I never want to give you up,” Oikawa blubbers, tears pooling and falling from his eyes in fat drops.
“Good,” Iwaizumi says warmly. “So stop talking all that doomsday shit and get back to just us, alright? You’ve always been such an ugly crier, anyway.”
“And you’ve always been such a jerk,” Oikawa counters. “Can I just—can I—?”
Iwaizumi answers by kissing him.
Oikawa leans into him, leans hard, as if Iwaizumi were about to disappear. Iwaizumi nips his bottom lip in warning, but Oikawa only whimpers. So Iwaizumi allows the wandering hands, dragging along his scalp to tug at his hair and tracing down his neck to touch as much of Iwaizumi as he could. Oikawa kisses hard and Iwaizumi kisses soft, fingertips skimming over the the nape of Oikawa’s neck. He sucks on Oikawa’s lip and Oikawa licks at him, sliding his tongue into Iwaizumi’s mouth so he can fuse them further together. As if he kissed Iwaizumi deeply enough, they would never have to separate.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Iwaizumi assures him. “Even when we’re in different cities, we’ll never be truly alone. Even if it feels like it. Even if you feel like giving up. I’m still with you.”
Oikawa kisses him softer after that. Affectionate pecks and growing half-smiles—signs of healing. Oikawa unfolds like a flower come morning light, bigger and stronger but just as delicate. Despite his words, Iwaizumi tries to memorize how snugly Oikawa fits atop him, how neatly their lips meet, like a prophecy or fate. Iwaizumi tries to picture this moment and this person meaning nothing to him in the future. He can’t.
Well, that’s just fine then, Iwaizumi thinks. I was already resigned to having to look after him for the rest of my life.
“Wow, Iwa-chan sure is thinking hard,” Oikawa chirps. “Don’t overexert yourself or anything.”
“Funny that you would dare to say that, when you’re in an ideal position to be put in a headlock.”
“I’d be doing the world one hell of a favor.”
“If you do that, you’ll miss the end of your movie,” Oikawa reminds him. Swearing, Iwaizumi’s head whips back to the television. Unfortunately, it’s obvious that the climax of the movie is over. There’s some touching moment going on with the protagonists, but Godzilla is nowhere to be found.
“Damn!” Iwaizumi curses again for good measure.
“Oh well, that’s just too bad,” Oikawa sighs. “I guess that means you’ll have to come over again, and again, and again…”
“How many times do you expect me to watch this movie?” Iwaizumi scoffs.
“The movie’s okay I guess, but the company is even better,” Oikawa purrs, fluttering his eyelashes.
Iwaizumi regards him blankly for a moment. “Yeah, it is,” he decides finally, and Oikawa sputters.
“D-Don’t be so honest, Iwa-chan!” He protests. “You’ve gone and made me flustered!”
“Your flustered face is a good one, though, so I don’t see how that’s a problem,” Iwaizumi points out.
Oikawa makes some more strangled noises of embarrassment, headbutting Iwaizumi in the shoulder and nuzzling. For once, Iwaizumi can’t bring himself to be annoyed at the action. This was something not everyone knew about Oikawa. On the outside, he appeared composed and fearless, strong and prideful to a fault. And yes, he was that, but underneath the air of a “Grand King” as Hinata had put it, was an infant who worked himself to the bone and continually pushed his limits because he was starving for a taste of success, for a taste of the comfort that came with being the best—be it in volleyball or in school.
But underneath even that, there was a final layer, the core of what made Oikawa, Oikawa. There was something a little awkward, a little incomplete; a little shy and way too honest for someone as facetious as Oikawa. He had a pure heart underneath all the bullshit, although very few were able to see it. It took years of learning his moods and his body language, years of sifting through the crap to find the treasure, years of being a best friend and a teammate and a shoulder to cry on to see Oikawa for what he truly was when he loved something.
Oikawa peers up at Iwaizumi, eyes wide and innocent, looking at him without any ulterior motive. This part of Oikawa was still growing, still needed to be fostered into the adult Iwaizumi could see him becoming. A kindly person, an understanding person—someone who could smile at everyone with a smile as genuine as the one on his lips right now. It would take a lot of work to foster, yes, but—
But Iwaizumi thinks that smile is worth it.