"Iwa-chan, I like you," Oikawa says. "Do you like me?"
It's not a new statement. Oikawa has been saying variations of this both verbally and nonverbally since they were young children. Following Iwaizumi home, or glancing over his shoulder to make sure Iwaizumi is following him. Bringing Iwaizumi presents when he goes on vacation, or needling him for gifts when Iwaizumi is away. Waiting at his doorstep to walk to school with him in the mornings; covering for Iwaizumi sometimes when they buy snacks on the way home at night. I like you, I like you. Do you like me?
Iwaizumi is a man of few words, by contrast. Sometimes his only answer is a nudge of their shoulders together, Iwaizumi's willingness to share Oikawa's personal space. Sometimes it's Iwaizumi texting him to go to bed, a small gesture that Oikawa treasures even if he can't take the advice.
At Oikawa's question, Iwaizumi's eyes slide over, considering him.
Oikawa gives him one of his well-practiced smiles, aiming for a bland one this time, something closed-mouthed that won't give him away. すき です can be taken a variety of ways depending on who's saying it and in what context, and historically Oikawa has only meant it one way, the most innocent way. He still does mean it that way, so it is not entirely a lie.
Iwaizumi is his opposite in this area. Iwaizumi is an impatient man who prefers conciseness; he has no time for lies. He is always honest, even when it hurts him and those around him, even when it comes at great cost.
Oikawa does not know if he wants to hear the truth this time. Instead he turns away, still smiling, allowing Iwaizumi to scrutinize his profile. He can feel the gaze as it sweeps over him and reads his body for cues. He tries to hide whatever he can, regulating his breathing, keeping his shoulders relaxed, willing himself not to blush.
"You like me, huh," Iwaizumi replies. He sounds unimpressed, but more than that he hears the kind of temper that rises within Iwaizumi whenever there is uncertainty.
Oikawa is a strategist and the best strategies are underpinned by facts. He knows everything about his teammates, every strength and weakness, so he can account for them on the court. Iwaizumi is his best friend because he's what a strategist loves best: a known quantity, understood from every angle. Iwaizumi is like this because doesn't just tell the truth, but also hunts for it. He does not like unknown ground.
Neither does Oikawa, so in this way they are quite alike.
They're in their second year. It's the middle of the day, and the sky is that high brilliant blue that appears in the middle of winter when it's very cold. Oikawa dragged Iwaizumi outside for lunch, The fresh air is good for you, Iwa-chan, it'll stop your head from being so cloudy in the afternoon, maybe you'll learn something in class then, but really he wanted the two of them to be alone.
The courtyard is shielded from the wind, but Oikawa is glad for his scarf. His fingers hurt where they clench around his chopsticks, reddened from the cold. Iwaizumi is still watching him. Oikawa can tell the moment he makes up his mind.
"I like you, too," he says. The words are fragile but his voice is gruff, like a bear in a china shop trying not to break anything. "It shouldn't be a question. I've told you so many times."
There's a pause.
"Oh," Oikawa replies, and his voice sounds thin. "That's good."
Oikawa can't bring himself to be more specific—Iwaizumi would tell him the truth and he is afraid that it will not be what he wants to hear. But he still wants to know the truth somehow. This leaves Iwaizumi's preferred method of nonverbal communication, an area Oikawa traverses only because he cannot avoid it.
Oikawa sets his chopsticks down and then moves the convenience store bento to the side. He turns his upper body towards Iwaizumi's on the bench, one hand settling behind them as he moves. His fingers twitch. He sways forward a little. Iwaizumi continues to stare at him, his brow furrowing.
His hands reach for Iwaizumi, an aborted half-gesture that hesitates in the space between them, and Iwaizumi's expression clears.
He sighs, a forceful short exhale, and then pulls Oikawa into a hug.
"Yes," he says, voice hoarse. "Oikawa, I like you. Don't be stupid."
Oikawa's eyes widen. His hands clutch at Iwaizumi's waist, fisting in his coat, pinning him there.
Don't take it back, Oikawa thinks. But Iwaizumi always tells the truth, and the knowledge of that—this fact that he's built a decade of his life upon—is what makes him relax his weight into Iwaizumi's waiting hold.