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you don't have to say "i love you" to say "i love you"

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"I feel like he hates me," Oikawa said glumly, touching the leaves of the potted plant that lie in a row on his window sill as he looks outside.

"Don't be stupid," Iwaizumi snorts from Oikawa's study table, laptop keyboard keys clacking and adding to the calm ambience of the room.

Well, it would've been calm, besides the fact that Oikawa is ruining it with his whining.

"But what if he does?" Oikawa groans, turning on the bed where he'd been sitting and flopping around in exaggerated misery. "I mean, look at him! He's smiling all wide and pretty at his mother right now, which means he could be that happy!"

Just to prove it, Oikawa jabs his pointer finger, tapping on the glass of his window, and Iwaizumi sighs, turns to where Oikawa is looking.

They both look as the guy— named Kuroo Tetsurou, as they have learned in the past few months— water the plants in their very impressive garden, if Iwaizumi has anything to say about it.

"Look at him, he actually knows how to keep a garden alive."

"I can too!" Oikawa gasps in offense, looking at Iwaizumi with betrayal. "But that's not the point! Look at him!"

Iwaizumi turns to watch Kuroo smile at his mother as his mother yells out to him, waving her off and going back to tending to the plants with a exasperated shake of a head and a smile.

"He sure is taking his glorious time with those roses, though."

"Iwa-chan," Oikawa groans, flops back until his lying on his back on the bed, the motion making them both bounce on the mattress. Iwaizumi sighs, leaning his back against the window sill, mindful of the succulents that stand on them.

"Shittykawa, just because he can't smile at you like that doesn't mean he hates you."

"Then what else is it supposed to be?" Oikawa mutters, before squawking as Iwaizumi grabs a pillow to shove into his face.

"Stop being dramatic for one second, Tooru. Listen," he says, as Oikawa silently grumbles about his hair becoming messy. "He can't hate you when he barely knows you. Have you even had a full conversation with the guy beyond 'good morning' and 'your plants looks so nice'?"

"We had, actually, remember?" Oikawa points out, rolling his eyes and looking at Iwaizumi in disdain. "We met online before we were neighbors, Hajime."

"Well, true," Iwaizumi mutters, and Oikawa sighs, head lolling back against the pillows once again.

 

Oikawa and Kuroo met on Omegle, of all things.

It's not like Oikawa had high expectations for the site or anything— he was bored, and without anything better to do he began going through different people and multiple conversations that are enough for him to almost wish a coma upon himself until Oikawa decided to drop all the politeness and just... immediately break the ice.

 

You have been matched with a stranger!

Oikawa: i want joe's tits to crush my skull like a watermelon.

 

He presses send, a part of him already regretting it if whoever on the other side of the chat decides to bomb him with a few choice words, but also kind of living for the chaos because, nice.

What's nicer is that the stranger literally did not hesitate.

 

Stranger: cherry is literally right there????

Oikawa: but joe's TITS.

Stranger: cherry's PIERCINGS.

Oikawa: okay then bitch boy just say you like twinks and go :///

 

When the stranger didn't reply, but doesn't disconnect (thank God, because this is easily the most interesting conversation he's had on here after the countless horny straight men and the other freaks using Omegle for clout), Oikawa almost sends another chat to apologize for the rudeness— because he does in fact love Cherry, that pretty son of a bitch— but then the site indicates that the stranger is typing and he pauses, waits.

His jaw drops.

 

Stranger: just say you don't want cherry because there can only be one, amirite? LMAO

 

"Okay, fuck you! I am not a twink," Oikawa says as he clicks on the mic option with lightning speed, and he expects that the stranger would too, but he never does— opting to use the chat option instead.

 

Stranger: LMAOOO YOU EVEN SOUND LIKE ONE

 

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?!"

 

Stranger: that ur a twink??? or r u a himbo too

 

"Motherfucker—"

 

Needless to say, Oikawa was instantly hooked, and he ended up exchanging names, going through the trouble of finding each other for maybe minutes and hours on end until they decide they trust each other enough with their Instagram, and then their number, and the rest was history.

That was, until Oikawa came home from training one afternoon just in time to see the new neighbors move in, and having the shock of his life when the man with raucous black hair and sly eyes is definitely the friend he's made on Omegle.

That was an eventful day, Oikawa would think every time he looked back on that day, because after he stutters through awkward and stilted greetings he proceeds to call up Iwaizumi, Matsukawa, and Takahiro, who get a first-row seat to Oikawa whining about how perfect people ("Attractive, Oikawa, not perfect," Takahiro had interjected then. "You don't even know him enough to know if he's actually perfect.") should be illegal, especially within a ten-mile radius of exhausted people such as him.

 

"But that's different," Iwaizumi retorts, raising an eyebrow at Oikawa, who's brought back to reality as the other huffs. "Online interactions are always going to be different from physical ones, Tooru. Not everyone is as honest or shameless as you on the internet."

Oikawa narrows his eyes, but doesn't speak, knowing full well that Iwaizumi does have a point.

"Fine, but what do I do?" Oikawa sighs, defeated.

"Talk to him? At least, try to stick the awkwardness out a little more?" Iwaizumi suggested, starting to turn back to the laptop. Oikawa mulls it over, in his head, remembering a conversation or two from the past couple of months that Kuroo had been here.

 

"Hey!" Oikawa greets, and even to him it sounds a little too loud, a little too forced.

Kuroo jolts, turning towards Oikawa fast enough that even he feels whiplash, so he scratches at his neck sheepishly.

"I'm sorry, did I startle you? I don't know why I did that," he says awkwardly, and he wants to beat himself up for how lame he sounds.

The other man just looks pinched, going through various emotions that Oikawa wasn't able to read before settling on sheepish as well, shaking his head in reply.

He opens his mouth, then stops, looking constipated as he presses his lips into a thin line before hesitantly raising his hand, waving him off albeit a little jerkily.

Oikawa laughs in parts of confusion and awkwardness.

"Okay," he trails off, laughing nervously, before clearing his throat and then, as his eyes dart around, stares at the plants Kuroo had been tending too, feeling awe at how healthy it looked.

"Those look awesome," Oikawa says, nodding his head towards the plant which he still didn't know the name of. "Don't know what it is, but it looks cool!" He says, actually genuine with his words, before he shifts in his place a little under Kuroo's unreadable gaze.

I know this man, Oikawa thinks. This should be easy.

"Actually, I uh... I just started planting!" Oikawa starts again, panicking as he watches Kuroo almost step away, who now looks a little confused but also mildly interested which, good.

"Well, not really. I'm kind of pathetic when it comes to plants. I have succulents? I guess? Figured that would be easy to handle for beginners, because they're low maintenance, right?" Oikawa rambles which, absolutely bad. "But uh... I guess I started because uh," he trails off, to which Kuroo raises an eyebrow, fingers twitching before he slowly makes a 'go on' motion with his hand. Oikawa slowly talks, following it for lack of better ideas, already wishing that God strike him down in that very moment.

This is nothing near easy.

"Well uh, you mentioned planting, right? Once, I think, when we were... chatting," Oikawa says, and he watches Kuroo's face nervously for his reaction. "And well... I was bored, as all things started-" he laughs, also out of relief when Kuroo's face starts morphing into pleasant surprise- "and I had nothing better to do so I figured... it was worth a shot, you know? Got shit from my sister for not knowing anything, but yeah! So now I have succulents on my window, there," Oikawa points, feeling stupid as soon as he does it but Kuroo follows his finger anyway, spotting the window overviewing the Kuroo's garden, and he smiles, before he could stop it.

Kuroo turns back to him, blinks at the smile on Oikawa's face that he fails to hide fast enough, but he smiles back, genuinely, and Oikawa feels like he honest-to-God has stars in his eyes for the other's small smile.

"Tooru!" His mother shouts, and they both jolt and turn to the woman who stands just outside the Oikawa's front door. "You better not be pestering the neighbors! Is he pestering you, hon? Don't be scared to tell me, I can set him straight for you," Oikawa's mother tells Kuroo jokingly, who grins and shakes his head, waving him off and bowing politely.

Oikawa feels his face burn with embarrassment, turning to Kuroo swiftly to bid him goodbye.

"Uh, I guess that's my cue to go. Nice talk?" He says, only to wince when he sees the pinched look that resurfaces on Kuroo's face, mentally kicking himself. "I mean, nevermind. Bye!" Oikawa scurries away, face flaming with embarrassment.

 

Their other conversations go more or less the same, with Oikawa bumbling his way through as Kuroo shakes or nods his head, and Oikawa never manages to ask him why, nor does he figure it out, so he just sighs, twirls his own hair between his fingers.

"Stop grumbling, I don't know what to tell you," Iwaizumi says, a little apologetic. "Besides, I wouldn't know, I've never had to do any of that for an online friend."

"Guess I'll die," Oikawa sighs, sitting up, almost standing until his eyes flit to the window for a split second and something catches his attention.

He does a double take.

Oh.

Oh my God.

"That makes so much sense," Oikawa mutters under his breath, astonished. "Iwa-chan. Iwa-chan!"

"What?" Iwaizumi hisses, disturbed once again from whatever he's been working on, keyboard keys pausing from their rhythmic sound, and he turns to where Oikawa is looking, outside the window yet again.

They watch as Kuroo greets a friend— Bokuto, if his memory serves him right— as he passes by the Kuroo's fence, and they exchange hand gestures in great speed, with the glorious middle finger here and there.

The pin drops for the both of them, and Iwaizumi reacts first.

He snorts.

"Tooru, you didn't know?"

"How was I supposed to know? He never told me!" Oikawa hisses at him, ducking away from the window, glaring at Iwaizumi who's cackling now, face becoming red due to laughter.

"Well, he's never gonna tell—" Oikawa slams a pillow into Iwaizumi's face, hard, who chokes on his laughter at the force of the impact.

"Don't say that, that's rude!"

"Yeah, my bad, that shouldn't be funny," Iwaizumi says, waving a hand as if it would do wave away the laughter still showing itself in small giggles. "Look, at least you know now, your move."

Oikawa thinks, and then gets a bright idea.

Well, we'll see about bright, but it's definitely an idea.

"Okay, I think I got it," Oikawa says slowly, and Iwaizumi raises his eyebrows, but Oikawa doesn't explain further, so he doesn't ask, turning to the laptop instead.

"Tell me all about it after," Iwaizumi says offhandedly, pressing the enter button twice to wake the screen up again, and Oikawa nods distractedly, already planning how he's going to pursue that line of action.

 

It takes one more month for Oikawa to accomplish at least a part of what he'd been hoping for.

He became busy with training, and with homework, which gives him a reason to not stay around for longer than a quick "hey!" when he sees Kuroo. As soon as Iwaizumi had started the finishing touches on his essay, Oikawa had set things into motion, already determined to at least be on the beginner level of sign language. He watches videos, takes down notes, spends hours just lying on his back, trying to memorize the gestures before realizing he gloriously fucked up when he remembers about the different versions of sign language— so he then resorts to learning both the basics of ASL and JSL, which fucks him up entirely.

Oikawa spends what seems like countless days practicing in the mirror, at the walls, before he deems himself ready, but even then he's hesitant because what if he fucks it up and signs something else? But he figures that it's the thought that counts and maybe, Kuroo will see it as the figurative white flag it is and let him in.

The thought doesn't stop his hands from sweating, however, when he slowly walks over to where the man is gardening, again.

Does he even go to school? Oikawa curiously thinks, before bidding the thought away with a shake of a head.

Not the point, he thinks. I'll figure that out anyway when we actually get to talk more.

"Hey," Oikawa says, more quietly, a little bit more shakily, and he grins nervously as Kuroo turns around, clearly surprised that Oikawa is stopping by this time.

Oikawa doesn't blame him for that.

God he hopes this works.

It's now or never.

"So uh, I found something out," he says, and immediately wants to punch himself in the face when Kuroo narrows his eyes, looking a little cautious and fearful. "Okay, I didn't mean to, but uh. Stay? Because I'm gonna try something, but I'm pathetic at this too, and I kind of need you to stand there while I do it," he rambles, forces himself to snap his mouth shut as he waits for Kuroo's nod, which comes after a few quiet moments spent in anxious waiting, hesitant and jerky.

Oikawa can't help but nod back.

"Okay. Okay," he says, to hype himself up, and he breathes in before looking Kuroo directly in the eyes as he makes clumsy ASL gestures, while vocalizing the words out loud.

"Hi, I'm Oikawa Tooru." Oikawa says slowly, and Kuroo's eyes widen, with surprise and maybe a little emotion, if the slightly unnatural shine in his eyes were anything to go by. "I go by Tooru. I like the color teal, and I like long walks on the beach."

Kuroo snorts, but it's wet, and as Oikawa watches him hastily reach up to wipe under his eyes, he panics a little, before continuing just as clumsily as he started.

"I'm sorry that I didn't... realize," Oikawa winces as he flails, forgetting the right gestures, and Kuroo grins brightly, making Oikawa's heart stutter a beat, "sooner. I hope you can forgive me for being a little dumb."

Oikawa finishes, dropping his hands, now unsure of what to do with them, so he reaches up to scratch at his nape sheepishly as Kuroo continues to stare at him, gobsmacked and emotional.

"I'm sorry, that's all I got," Oikawa apologizes, and Kuroo chuckles a little. "I tried to learn JSL too, but turns out that's completely different from ASL right? Should've known, just like how I should've connected the dots," Oikawa finishes, looking at Kuroo meaningfully. "And, I know it seems a little stupid, and I probably could learn a bit more—"

Kuroo starts motioning in front of him, and it's too fast for Oikawa too understand so he guiltily speaks.

"Uh Kuroo- Kuroo! Slow down, I uh... I can't understand," he says, ashamed. "I only know a little, so–" Kuroo waves him off, the look in his eyes reassuring, and Oikawa calms down a little, wait as Kuroo thinks before doing a simple gesture.

'Why?'

Oikawa furrows his eyebrows.

"Why... I learned ASL?" He asks, unsure, and Kuroo nods, smiling as he shrugs, a little shy. Something within Oikawa melts at the soft sight.

Cute.

"Well, I wanted to understand you, and to be able to talk to you," Oikawa says simply, as if learning ASL for a friend is not a big deal, much less someone you barely knew besides the insistent chatting on the phone.

"I just... you're a great guy, Kuroo. I really love talking to you," Oikawa explains further. "And if you'd let me, I want to know you more, and if I had to learn two different kinds of sign languages I'd do it because... you're worth the effort."

Oikawa pauses, stares at Kuroo, wide-eyed.

Shit.

Was that too much? Was that... a little too presumptuous? Did he come off too strong? Oikawa wants to hit himself, wonders when he'll ever be able to stop shoving his foot in his mouth within Kuroo's presence.

However, to his pleasant surprise, Kuroo smiles, warm as a fireplace, as the color orange in the sky when the sun starts to set, and he raises his hands again, gestures.

'Thank you.'

The words are accompanied with eyes that look so fond, and with the most sincere expression of his face, and Oikawa's heart skips a beat, blood rushing to his cheeks.

God, the tips of his ears are burning.

He hopes Kuroo doesn't notice.

"It's nothing," Oikawa says breezily, grins widely with relief and joy, and it's not nothing, they both know that, but they don't have to talk about it now. They have all the time in the world.

"Not to ruin the mood, but... um," Oikawa says, and Kuroo raises one eyebrow in a teasing manner. Oikawa feels his face getting redder again with embarrassment.

At least Kuroo's smiling at him.

Oh God, he's so whipped. Makki's going to have a field day with this.

"Well uh, I have to go soon, since I told my mom I'll just be quick," and a part of Oikawa feels disappointed, but he doesn't inspect it too closely, "but I was wondering if maybe... I could come over on the weekend? Just to hang out and maybe... you can teach me, sign language."

Kuroo blinks, then grins in excitement, nodding enthusiastically. Oikawa grins, nodding back.

"Okay, cool! See you on Saturday, I guess?" And with Kuroo's confirming nod, grin never leaving his face, Oikawa goes back into his house, bares the endless ribbing from his nosy mother and sister who apparently had been looking from the window beside the front door.

None of it matters though when, as soon as he grabs his phone, he sees a few messages from Kuroo, feeling suddenly sentimental of the use of the chat that has been long abandoned since they found out they were neighbors, when they were too shocked and awkward to even look at it.

Kuroo: hey, i mean it a lot. thanks.

Kuroo: and like, teaching is a bitch. just teaching my friend bokuto (if u still rmbr) took like 20 yrs off my lifespan.

Kuroo: but if it's for u, sure. ur worth the effort too.

 

Oikawa drops the phone, hides his face in his hands, and lets out a dying sound.

Fuck, he's going to be the death of me.

 

But what a good way to go, isn't it?