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i hope you like the stars i stole for you

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2:33 am.

Oikawa Tooru lay awake on the rumpled sheets, his tear-laced eyes sewn to the digital letters of the clock on the nightstand. The numbers were staring right back at him, seeming to tell him over and over, time is running out, it's running out, it's running out.

Oikawa turned his neck slightly, his sight catching onto the sleeping silhouette of the boy beside him.

And his heart stopped all over again.

He was always just as breathless as the first time he saw Iwaizumi Hajime.

Tears pricked behind his eyes, a hot tumor growing in his throat and swallowing his oxygen and leaving him stranded, stranded on an island with nothing but a pair of rubber lungs that wouldn't let him scream.

Iwaizumi's arm was strewn to the side, the back of his hand resting on top of Oikawa's barely moving chest. It was gentle, it was an affectionate subconscious gesture, but god, it felt like it was pinning Oikawa to the bed and he wouldn't ever be able to get up if he tried.

Oikawa turned his head slightly, taking in the figure of the boy whose face was just beside his own.

He never knew exactly what it was about Iwaizumi.

He was everything and nothing at once. He was all the digits on the wall clock mixed in with the sensation that the deadline of something you never knew existed was already far behind you. He was tumultuous waves and he was the painful explosion behind your eyelids when you blinked under the light of the sun. He was forever in the life span of nothing. He was the fast beating of your heart when you missed a step on the stairs, but still, still, he was the whispering of the wind when you had your knees to your chest and your eyelids tightly shut.

He was just... him.

Maybe it was the way his eyelashes fluttered during his sleep and the way his eyebrows weren't furrowed only at this time of night and the way his lips bowed to make the shape that fit Oikawa's just so right but he couldn't help leaning forward and pressing a gentle kiss to the tip of Iwaizumi's nose.

Rolling onto his other side, Oikawa squeezed his eyelids shut as hard as he could. He couldn't cry. He was an ugly crier. A loud one, too. His face crumpled and his eyes brimmed and he was extremely bad at keeping quiet. He couldn't wake Iwaizumi. He needed his rest for tomorrow.

Tomorrow.

The word boomed around his chest, beating against the brittle bones of his rib cage and entangling with his heart and scorching his veins and pushing more tears back to line Oikawa's eyelashes.

Tomorrow.

This was his punishment.

This was Oikawa Tooru's punishment for falling in love with an army boy.

He had almost unraveled the first time Iwaizumi was deployed.

It was like he was a strip of cloth with a bit of string poking from the hem. And the string was picked at, picked at for every single day that Iwaizumi wasn't pressed into his side. And the string was pulled so hard that the cloth was no longer held together, but it was just simply a pile of thread, fraying at the ends and twisting into a pile of what used to be something bigger and stronger but was now destroyed. Oikawa was hardly able to eat. Hardly able to sleep, to read, to talk, to think, to fucking think without the shadow of Iwaizumi hovering in the corner of his mind and the shouting the endless whispers of 'what if?' It was unbearable, if you could belittle it to even call it that, and it was six months of dragging himself through hell. It was six months of wearing Iwaizumi's clothes just to smell the wisps of his cologne and to pathetically wipe his own tears with the sleeves curled over his fingertips. It was six months of crying on shoulders and six months of shaky phone calls and six months of waking up in the middle of the night and scaring thoughts away.

And when Iwaizumi came back time after time, Oikawa threw every fiber in his being into making everything as beautiful as he could. He tugged him to the local coffee shop that had the cookies that Iwa loved so much, he texted him every day at work, he visited him at home during his lunch break. He took him for road trips and he rolled down the windows. Sometimes all he did was lay beside him and forgot about the world and everyone in it except for Iwaizumi, and he would always turn beside him just to see the sunlight framing the dips and curves of every feature of Iwaizumi's face and every single time he couldn't breathe. 

He sometimes wondered why he stayed.

3:01 am.

Oikawa was tearing apart his mind.

It was funny.

Funny in a sick, twisted, dark way.

Funny that the one who wasn't going into war was the one who was scared out of his fucking mind.

But he just couldn't help it.

Losing Iwaizumi would be like watching the light race out of the filament of every single light bulb in the world. It'd be like extinguishing all the candles and all the flames with a whisper and plunging the entire world into nothing but the sensation of disembodiment. It'd be like taking the sun into your palm and launching it far away and being able to do nothing but sit as the coldness started to wrap all around the earth and you lost all feeling in every part of yourself.

Oikawa gently took hold of Iwaizumi's palm, tugging it off of his chest and letting it drop onto the mattress. He rolled to the edge of the bed, letting his feet down to the floor and sitting up, trying his hardest not to dip the bed too quickly. He didn't want to wake up Iwaizumi. He padded to the bathroom quietly, stepping into the dark room and closing the door behind him. Blindly slipping his hands along the wall, he felt for a light switch, his heavy breath falling out as he finally flipped up a plastic notch. His head felt like it was slamming into itself as the brightness flooded the room, pulsing behind his careworn eyes. Oikawa leaned forward, pressing his forearms onto the cool granite of the counter top as his eyes sifted through the mirror in front of him.

His feathery hair was a mess. It stuck up in every direction, like someone had tied a string to each strand and pulled it. Dark circles danced above the cheekbones that usually were lifted from his radiant smiling, hanging just below his eyes like storm clouds. His lips were chapped, rough from how much he'd been biting them out of anticipation. Light stubble was dotted across his jaw, and his usually wide eyes were half-open. Lines were etched into the skin of Oikawa's forehead, pulled together right between his eyebrows as he bit at the inside of his cheeks. Every single part of him showed how much he was dreading tomorrow.

Or rather, today.

It was already the early hours of the morning.

Oikawa felt his heart begin to shake, his vision begin to get blocked by salty tears as he whirled around and slammed the heels of his palms into the wall. His forehead came up to collide with the cool plaster, his eyelids fluttering closed to squeeze tightly shut. Oikawa heard a choked sob fall from his dry lips, heard a soft whimper slip past his teeth, and heard a small piece of his heart fall off and onto the floor and fall through, gone.

Don't cry. Don't cry don't cry don't cry don't-

Something warm slipped around the curve of his cheek, running down and down and tracing a path to hang at the edge of his chin. Another tear fled, and another, and soon they were streaming in glistening rivulets curled around his skin and burning his face. Oikawa brought a fist up to fit just between his teeth, biting down with all he had in him to stop from making noise. His shoulders shook around the silent screams that formed inside of Oikawa, stifling his lungs until he couldn't even breathe or move or think.

Today.

Iwaizumi was leaving today.

Leaving off to a different country, leaving them both apart and out of their minds.

••

"You want to sign up for what?"

"The army."

"Iwa, that's insane. We could-"

"Please. Hear me out. We're out of college and my parents kicked me out for being in love with a boy. A boy who holds me together, mind them. But Oikawa, we don't have anything to support us. We need money."

"I... I could support us. We could get other jobs. P-please."

Iwaizumi stepped forward, his gaze shifting around the blind panic on Oikawa's face. He lifted his hand, cupping Oikawa's cheek gently and gingerly like he was made of glass and shattering him was the last thing he'd ever want.

"There are people who need me. People who need protection."

"IT'S ME," Oikawa had wanted to scream. God, he had wanted to shout it. He needed Iwaizumi. He  needed to feel protected by him and he needed his hand lacing their fingers together and he needed every part of the other boy.

"I-I just..."

"Oikawa. Look at me."

He did.

Bringing in his other hand, Iwaizumi pressed his warm palm into Oikawa's bare cheek. 

"I will always come home."

Oikawa felt himself begin to shiver.

"Always?"

"Always."

••

7:26 am.

They were in the car now.

Iwaizumi was driving, because it was the last time he'd get to drive their shambled pickup truck for three months. Their car had a lot of memories. Drunken sex in the back. The knobs of the radio rolled and rolled until they could sing along to awful pop songs shamelessly. And fuck, fuck, did Oikawa love it when Iwaizumi let loose like that. He loved it when the windows were rolled down and the crook of Iwaizumi's elbow was hanging just from the edge of the windowsill, loved how the wind brought the already-upright strands of Iwaizumi's hair even higher, loved how the sunlight illuminated the entire setting and Iwaizumi's tan skin seemed to fucking glow right in his arms and how in those times, when they felt like they were truly infinite, that Iwaizumi smiled just for him. Just for him to see, and no one else. With the wind running its fingers through their hair and under their noses and pushing them so close that they almost had no choice but to kiss and lock their lips, in a puzzle that couldn't be taken apart. All in the truck.

The one that Iwaizumi wouldn't drive for three months.

Oikawa pursed his lips, glancing down at where they held hands right across the gear shift. He brought his chin back up, looking straight ahead out of the windshield. He couldn't cry now. It'd make everything worse for Iwaizumi. He knew it was already hard for him to leave, and watching Oikawa cry just as he had to go would be like shooting him. And having the bullet self-destruct right between his shoulder blades.

If Iwaizumi was going to be fighting for the next three months, then the least that Oikawa could do was fight for the next half hour.

But what was worse about this time, what hadn't happened before and shot a horrible pain through his veins when the thought crossed through his head, was that Iwa-chan would be gone for something.

Gone for their four year anniversary.

Four fucking years. That's two winter Olympics, one extra day for one of those years, and it was a good number, an even number and Oikawa hadn't regretted a moment but Iwa wasn't going to be here to celebrate it with him and that made him see the world in flames.

Iwa had on his uniform. His military uniform. He was cloaked in thick, camouflage-patterned pants with a matching jacket on top. Each article had what seemed like thousands of pockets on every side. Just above his right breast pocket was his name, embroidered with black thread weaving in and out of the fabric. There were pins and ribbons to show his ranks and achievements, and fuck, his Iwa-chan was so brave. Iwaizumi's identification card was attached to a lanyard, slung around his neck and dangling just in the center of his stomach. It had the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force coat of arms and it had a bar code and god, Oikawa knew it by heart, and above it was his picture. He only smiled in pictures when he was with Oikawa. In this one, he looked absolutely pissed off. But Oikawa still thought he was perfect. Typed underneath it was his name. Iwaizumi Hajime. The uniform was probably hot and heavy as hell, but Iwaizumi could pull it off. He could pull anything off. He was always so beautiful, even at the times when he woke up at five in the morning and he was crying because he'd had another nightmare but it was always okay just when Oikawa had him tucked to his chest and had his lips in his hair and his hand in his and it'd be fine, Iwa-chan, it'd be fine.

Now, it felt like Oikawa was the one who needed reassuring.

The truck slowly started to back into a parking spot outside of the army's airport. It slowed to a stop, Iwaizumi's fingers wound around Oikawa's, suddenly tightening. He had almost forgotten that they were holding hands. It was less of one of those 'sweet couple actions' for Oikawa, and more of one of those instincts. One of those habits.

Because their hands just fit so well.

Oikawa closed his eyes, taking a deep breath as he squeezed Iwaizumi's hand back even harder.

Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry don't cry don't cry don't cry don'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcry...

The two briefly left the grip of each other's hands, parting to turn and open their doors. They got out of their seats, walking sluggishly, like they were inside a slow motion film and they wanted it to just pause as soon as their hands came back together. Once their doors were closed and they laced their fingers back together, Iwaizumi reached over and tucked the car keys into Oikawa's back pocket. 

They began to walk towards the double doors, a duffel bag in Iwaizumi's other hand. They made their way through the parking lot, up to the front doors. Iwaizumi dropped the bag to open the door. He dropped the bag. Not Oikawa's hand. It was a small gesture. A short-spanned action. But fuck, did Oikawa appreciate it. He stuck his foot in the opening and picked his bag back up, letting Oikawa reach forward and push it open for the both of them. They ducked through, a drift of air conditioning slamming into their bodies and knifing through Oikawa's lungs.

Oikawa quietly followed Iwaizumi up to the dull front counter, waiting agonizingly as the other boy checked in. He slid all sorts of identification across, patient as Oikawa played with his fingers in his hand. The entire building was just as Oikawa had remembered it. Gray, gray, gray. The counters, the floor, the walls, the doors, the mood, all of it. It was like the interior designers just had to add to the weight that was immediately clamped to the chests of everyone who walked in. Like they thought leaving loved ones to die wasn't enough.

An inhale froze in Oikawa's nose, his fingers stilling around Iwaizumi's.

He wasn't going to die.

Oikawa leaned forward to drum his fingertips against the drab counter. He winced slightly, the sensitive nubs from where he'd been biting and biting at his nails tapping against the hard plastic. He felt like there was a rubber band looped around his heart, and it was constantly writhing and pulling and digging into him just enough to make him feel like he was a cornered animal.

But it hadn't snapped. Not yet.

He was slowly reeled back to the surface as Iwaizumi gently squeezed his hand. He was done signing in. They made their way to another set of gray double doors, Oikawa's heart twisting with each step.

Oikawa screwed his eyes shut, placing his hand flat on the surface of the cool metal and pushing through, the door swinging open. As soon as he stepped through, the atmosphere seemed to drop, yet rise at the same time. It was deathly quiet beneath all the surface noise. The surface noise was always the same. Crying children, their wails wracking through the air as they clung to their father's and mother's legs. There was the sound of sobbing wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, fiancés and fiancées, family and relatives, all undergoing the pain of the one they were so close to being ripped away. All sorts of crying seared through the air, sniffles and shouts and bellows. That was the surface noise. But Oikawa could detect the achingly silent undertone. It was nothing but an empty current, filled with two words.

Don't go.

Oikawa turned, trying desperately to fight himself for control as he curled into the front of Iwaizumi.

Out, off to the other side of the room over Iwaizumi's shoulder, he could see friends that they'd gone to college with. Sugawara Koushi and Sawamura Daichi. Daichi was an army boy too, and it absolutely tore Suga apart. Suga was like a piece of velvet; he was soft and he was gentle and he was the type of thing you'd hold to your skin when you wanted to be comforted, but it could get destroyed so easily and you had to take care of it. 

Sending Daichi off to was was like cutting up the velvet into pieces.

He could see the gentle gray of Suga's hair over Daichi's shoulder, he could see his arms hook around his body and he could see Suga's hands joining behind Daichi and holding him closely and burying his nose against his cheek and he could see the gentle shaking of Suga's back with small sobs and it was far, far too private-

Oikawa buried his head in Iwaizumi's neck, his eyes still shut as he reached up to trace the curled grooves of 'IWAIZUMIon his uniform. Nose pressed to Iwa's skin, Oikawa took a deep breath, trying his hardest to fill his lungs with the traces of how the other boy smelled, and keep it etched inside him to remember for as long as he could. Fucking hell, he'd miss his smell. He'd miss the way Iwa had a scent of cigarettes and rain and the way they contrasted when one was compared with fire and the other one could extinguish it but it was Iwaizumi and he needed every part of him more than anything.

Oikawa felt a gentle hand curl under his chin, felt it tip his face up and up and slowly, he opened his eyes to meet Iwaizumi's. Iwaizumi's eyes looked like the person behind them was slowly cracking into half. They seemed strong, they seemed stoic, and they looked brave. But Oikawa knew that beneath them was the boy who he'd seen cry after getting hit with a volleyball in the face the first time. Beneath them was the boy who had sat with him on that cliff on one of their early dates, and looked over their town and asked him, "Do you think this is a good place for a first kiss?" Beneath them was Iwaizumi, and even though he was trying not to cry like Oikawa was, he was still scared.

And Oikawa was sure that the afraid expression was evident in his own eyes. 

They both fluttered their eyelashes down and shut them, brushing that off as they leaned in and pressed their lips together. Iwaizumi's hand left Oikawa's chin, slipping further up his face to weave through his feather-soft hair. He almost clutched at his scalp, like it was something he didn't want to let go.

And it was.

Oikawa brought his hands up to clasp around Iwaizumi's wrists, his elbows bent as he pressed himself even closer to Iwa. Their lips began to move in a whirlwind of desperate patterns, a hurricane of flurries and shapes and hiding the shouts of don't go and I don't want to leave you. 

Alone alone alone don't leave me alone.

Oikawa's grip tightened against Iwaizumi's skin. Maybe in another world, there'd be crescent shapes carved into Iwaizumi's skin from Oikawa's fingernails, from how tightly he was clutching him. But he'd torn them off, he'd scratched at himself, he'd bitten and bitten until there was nothing but red skin that was a passport from where he'd been to the worst parts of his mind in the middle of the night.

Oikawa felt Iwaizumi's fingers gently tug at his tousled hair, felt his gentle touch sift through his scalp. He felt lips ghost across his own and the slight pulling back to let a bit of air into both their lungs. He felt the shuddering breath fall from Iwaizumi's lips and fall across his own skin, the warmth curling across his chin and he felt so

fucking

close

to losing all his sanity right then and there. His teeth found the skin of his cheeks, pulled them in between, bit as hard as possible to keep from crying. He felt his chest tighten and he felt his throat start to close in and fuck, he wasn't going to last long now.

7: 58 am.

They're walking to the corridor. There's two big gray doors at the end and it's looming at them and Oikawa can see them reaching out and pulling Iwaizumi in and what if he doesn't come back out what if he's gone forever what if-

"'M gonna miss you so much," Iwaizumi managed out, his face coming forward to nestle right in the crook of Oikawa's neck, right where his shoulder and neck joined and sloped and it seemed to be the perfect place to rest and lay and cry and neither one of them wanted him to move from there.

"'M gonna miss you so much more," Oikawa whispered, barely getting his words past the lump growing bigger and bigger in his throat.

Iwaizumi tilted his head up a bit more, leaning up to press his lips to Oikawa's one more time. 

One more time.

He was soft this time, he was gentle and loving and slow and their lips slotted perfectly and Oikawa could feel himself falling all over again into the dark deep pit that was the comfort of Iwaizimi's lips and arms and just him, and he didn't want it to go.

"Iwaizumi," he gasped between kisses, his hands reaching up to fist at the thick material of his uniform. Oikawa ran a hand down to his own pocket, taking out a small, folded slip of paper. "Don't open until July 17th," was scrawled across the front. He reached up again for Iwa's uniform, ripping open the breast pocket and tucking it in. He closed the flap, patting it firmly as he reattached their lips. "Iwa-chan, Iwa-chan, Iwa-chan," he repeated over and over, the simple syllables just fluttering past his lips like they were made to do it, like if he could just say  the name then somehow when the word was in the air, everything would be different. There'd be more time and they'd be at home and they'd be under the duvet and their ankles would be hooked under the covers with a shitty sitcom on the television and Oikawa would be laughing, laughing, and Iwaizumi wouldn't be watching the television but he'd be watching Oikawa and how the smallest things made him happy and neither of them wanted anything more than that right now.

"I-I have to go now," Iwaizumi rasped, his voice husky and low and gravelly and just so Iwaizumi and Oikawa wouldn't hear that voice in person for three fucking months.

Oikawa whimpered, his skin stretching tight over his knuckles as he clutched Iwa closer, dipping his lips back to his for another quick, hard kiss to the lips. He could feel his eyes getting hot, he could feel the stinging and the prickling and he could barely see through the blur. Oikawa stumbled forward, his knees starting to shake, his feet falling on top of Iwaizumi's combat boots. Iwaizumi reached out to steady him instinctively, his hands immediately going under to grab Oikawa's elbows and just like always, always, he was there to steady him.

The last time for three months.

The double doors were open, the other soldiers beckoning and the cries inside the waiting room growing louder and louder. 

"I love you," Oikawa said, voice small, stripped of the usual bubbling tone and the smile lilting it.

"I love you," Iwaizumi answered, his lip being pulled between his teeth, his nose beginning to turn red with the forecast of tears.

"You better come back," Oikawa laughed weakly, stepping back from Iwaizumi and hitting him on the shoulder with no force.

Iwaizumi forced a smile, his eyes beginning to rim with red as he coughed into his hand. He slid his hand from Oikawa's elbow down to his hand, lacing their fingers together as he began to back away. 

"Always."

And the rubber band around his heart snapped.

••

9:23 pm.

Oikawa is on the floor of his living room, long limbs sprawled in every direction, cheek pressed to the rough material of the carpet. Next to him is Suga, and Suga is curled into a small ball next to a dark brown bottle of beer. The pack had been savagely ripped open, the bottles toppled out, and hands reached forward for them and wrapped around the neck and then they began the ritual that they did every single time their boys had left them.

Spending the first week in a drunken stupor.

"'N so I say, Daichi, I will take the cat to the computer store and I'm gonna buy it the taco, do you get me?" He followed this sentence with a light laugh, toppling over in a fit of smiles and drunken giggles.

At this point, Oikawa has no idea where Suga went with the story, and he isn't sure that Suga knows either. Nevertheless, he laughs too, and he rolls on the floor slightly with his forearm pressed against his stomach. 

"God, what day is it?" he mumbles, a small tsunami pounding against his skull.

"Still damn Tuesday," Suga sighs, sitting up and holding up three fingers. He holds them right up in front of his eyes, the small freckle next to one of them seeming to dance as he crinkles his forehead.

"And it's been about four days."

It hasn't gotten any easier.

Suga tried to roll himself, landing on his hands and knees and swaying slightly as his head spun and the room tilted around him. He let out a soft coo, his eyes widening. 

His alcohol tolerance level wasn't very high.

Suga crawled over to Oikawa slowly, eventually reaching him and collapsing at his side. He rested his forehead on Oikawa's forearm, his breaths coming deeper and deeper as his long eyelashes fluttered shut. His gray hair was a mess, swept this way and that, as if he had just dove into a hurricane and he hadn't even tried to come out.

Though that was close to how it felt in the aftermath of leaving the airport.

"It won't be long now, Oikawa," Suga whispered drowsily, his knees coming up and being pulled to his chest.

Eighty six days left.

••

6:02 am.

And it was Saturday.

Saturday.

It didn't matter that he didn't have work. He'd taken the week off. Oikawa didn't want the other teachers to be looking at him with that 'He must be in an empty bed'  look in their eyes and he hated it, hated their pity, hated their sympathy and their poor attempts at empathy because none of it would pull Iwaizumi back to his arms.

But what mattered was that it was Saturday.

In the army, each soldier was assigned a day.

One day out of the week where they could call home. 

And Iwaizumi's day was Saturday.

It was like a lifeline to Oikawa. It was like the oxygen tank strapped to the backs of people far, far below in the darkness of the sea and they had to battle the onslaught of current after current and they were shoved further and further down but they could survive, they could survive just as long as they had the air pumping into them.

And Iwaizumi was Oikawa's air.

Oikawa basically lived from Saturday to Saturday. Everything in between was a blur. A blur of footsteps he didn't remember and breaths he didn't even know how he'd taken without Iwaizumi holding his hand or pressing kisses to his skin or drawing smiley faces on the fog that was left on the mirrors after he showered or having Iwa-chan push him awake until he'd make his bitter black coffee and then kiss him afterwards just to taste the coffee and it wasn't because he liked black coffee but it was just because he liked Iwa-chan's lips-

Today was Saturday.

Oikawa absolutely refused to do anything but babysit the phone all day. It didn't matter if he looked like he'd just woken up (he had) and it didn't matter if he couldn't stand the taste of his own mouth anymore. 

If he missed the call, he was going to hurl himself off a cliff into a pit of poison.

And so Oikawa padded into the living room, sending a desperate glance towards the land line as he parked himself on the couch. He sat down on it gingerly, sliding himself further back to lean against the cushion. He reached for the remote right next to him, grimacing slightly as he remembered the time he fought over it with Iwa-chan and they ended up making out instead of watching whatever the hell was on the screen. Oikawa slipped his fingers around the hard plastic, bringing it forward as he opened up the guide and flipped through the channels.

He hated this show.

Despised that one.

Entirely loathed this one too.

Watched this one with Iwa.

Laughed at this one with Iwa.

Went in theaters to see this one.

With Iwa-chan.

Oikawa finally settled on a shitty talk show and threw the remote across the room, sighing heavily. He pulled his back from the seat, sitting hunched with his elbows on his knees and his hands in his hair.

It hurt.

Oikawa felt a dull ache in the pit of his stomach, a small rumble coming out as he glanced at the clock. Ever since Iwaizumi left, his entire schedule had been knocked off kilter. He went to sleep around four in the morning because he could never sleep anywhere near as well with the cold empty spot beside him and with no arms around his waist.

And no reason to wake up because Iwa-chan was simply his reason.

He didn't know what that reason was for. But he was just his reason. His reason for everything good and his reason to keep pulling in oxygen and expelling the bad from his body and his reason for living because Iwa-chan was everything to him and he couldn't lose him, couldn't lose Iwa-chan or else he couldn't-

Oikawa's stomach growled at him, like there was an angry animal trapped inside his abdomen.

But he couldn't afford to move.

If he missed this call, he wouldn't be able to live with himself. Hell, he was barely living right now as it was.

And so Oikawa pinned his eyes back to the talk show host, wrinkling his nose at her prosthetic boobs and Dorito-powder hued tan.

He'd made fun of her with Iwa-chan before.

But as long as he sat here, on the couch, there was no way he could miss the call.

••

3:57 pm.

The hours on the clock had slowly rolled by. With every nervous tap of the fingertips, with every impatient and worried breath, Oikawa never failed to glance at the phone.

Despite the gaping hole growing inside his stomach.

He could feel hunger tearing at him and his stomach imitated a dying whale, but no, no, he wasn't moving because Iwa-chan was gonna call and Iwa-chan Iwa-chan Iwa-chan-

3:57 slowly turned to 4:57, and 4:57 slowly turned to 5:30, and by now, Oikawa felt like he was about to throw up air. Standing up, Oikawa teetered on his long, stiff legs, shaking each of them out quickly. He paced to the kitchen quickly, reaching over to the counter for a banana. 

Quick and easy.

But his stomach had to crave more. He'd skipped two of his three meals.

And so Oikawa grabbed peanut butter from the cupboard, sliding a load of bread over to him. He took out two slices, and slathered them both with the peanut butter. He took a knife from the drawer, cutting the banana and laying the pieces on the peanut butter.

It was only when he was laying the second row of banana that he realized that he'd unconsciously made Iwa-chan's favorite snack.

Oikawa's round eyes widened even further, blinking hard to keep the inevitable stinging away. He felt the warm hotness behind his eyelids, felt slow tears start to push past his eyelashes, and he reached for the knife again. Oikawa, with his other hand, finished putting all the banana on the peanut butter and then put the top slice of bread on. He positioned the knife right in the center of the sandwich, and holding it, he pressed down. One half for him, the other half for-

A loud, shrill ring knifed through the air, the phone on the table beside the couch resounding throughout the room. 

-Iwa-chan.

Oikawa jumped, the loud ring of the phone hitting him like a bullet between the shoulder blades. The knife went askew, nicking the side of his fingertip as he clattered to the side. Oikawa, blood beginning to line the cut on his hand, shot forward, abandoning the sandwich. He bolted to the living room, diving forward and reaching for the corded phone on the little table. His finger brushed a speck of blood on the plastic, his heart racing to the beat of IwaIwaIwa and suddenly he was aware that he couldn't breathe well but it didn't matter, it didn't matter, and he picked up the phone and crammed it between his ear and shoulder.

"Hel-"

"You are being contacted by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense base. To reject this call, press 0. To accept this call, press-" 

With an exasperated whimper, Oikawa pulled the speaker away and jabbed the 1 on the keypad. He'd done this enough times to know. Pushing the phone back up to his ear, he caught the automated end of, "Transferring you to the base," and he couldn't breathe, he couldn't think, he needed to hear him.

And just like that, there was a small click.

"Hello?" Oikawa said dumbly, his lower lip being pulled by his teeth as he stood, tapping his foot nervously.

"Asskawa. I miss you."

It was crackly. It was static. It was all rough and Iwa-chan's voice was all frizzy through the speaker but fuck, it was there. The gruffness and the deep tone and he could picture his boy right now and he was sweaty and his hair was sticking up as always and his eyebrows were knitted and his uniform was unbuttoned and he was so beautiful.

Even if he couldn't see him.

"I miss you more, Iwa-chan."

"Oi, stop telling lies, dumbass."

"Do you take joy in calling me an ass in every sentence?"

"I'd punch you if I was there."

"No you wouldn't."

There was a soft, jagged sigh from the other end. He could picture Iwa-chan's lips twitching at the corner and he was running a hand through his hair.

"You're right."

"I'm always right."

"Watch it, idiot."

"You're so mean to me, Iwa-chan."

"Mmm. But I do miss you. I miss your annoying voice pulling me out of bed and I miss the way your hair always bounces. Even after we have sex. I miss hugging you and having you squeal. And I miss how you always make amazing coffee to stop me from being grumpy and I miss your peanut butter banana sandwiches."

Ah. The sandwich. Whoops.

"I know, I know. I'm a culinary master. You can thank me any time."

"You're still an ass."

"You only call me an ass because you like the one I have."

"If thinking that makes you happy, then go on."

Oikawa felt the corners of his lips curl, felt the hard bitterness in his throat start to melt.

"You're so rude."

"This is coming from the creature who calls me dimwitted and short and has shoved me off the mattress intentionally many, many-"

Oikawa quickly squawked, shushing him until his words died down.

"Don't bring that up. You do wrestler moves in your sleep. You're not innocent either. But anyways," Oikawa crooned, wrapped the cord of the phone around the hand that wasn't injured.

"I have a joke for you, Iwa-chan."

"Dear god."

"Knock knock."

There was a dragged out sigh.

"Who's there?"

But Oikawa could hear the smile in his voice.

"Woo."

"Woo who?"

"It's only a joke, Iwa-chan. Why are you so excited?"

There was a slight pause, and for a moment, Oikawa felt his heart drop to his toes in the fear that the connection had dropped out.

But then came the laughter.

Strong and hard, even through the shitty connection, and it was Iwa-chan's laugh and it felt so right in his ears and he'd give anything to hear it in person right now and fuck, it hurt all over again-

"That was absolutely awful," Iwa said, small laughs poking holes in his words with small huffs.

"Hmm. But you love me."

Iwaizumi sighed again, but this time, Oikawa could tell that Iwa wasn't trying to hide the twitch of his lips lilting the sound.

"That's true. I love you very much."

••

11:04 pm.

Oikawa was alone tonight.

It was Wednesday. And Wednesdays for Suga were like Saturdays to Oikawa. The boy spent the entire boy cradling his phone, and Daichi usually ended up calling at night. By the time they were done talking, Suga usually just went to sleep.

So Wednesdays were his lonely days.

Every passing second hurt more and more. It was like someone was throwing lightning bolts into his mind and heart and each cell in his body and it burned, it burned so badly, and these nights were the worst because there was nothing to pull him out when he started to sink into himself.

Oikawa had always found it funny how if you worded things right, the definition of alone could rhyme with the actual word itself.

Alone. To be on your own.

Maybe it wasn't even funny. Maybe it was the darkness seeping onto the corners of his brittle mind like burning parchment, maybe it was how delirious he felt all the time these days, maybe it was how his heart was in Iwaizumi's fucking hand and his chest felt entirely hollow.

Oikawa was laying flat on his stomach on his bed, and it was late at night and he was watching the jagged shadows of the ceiling fan sweep across the barely illuminated ceiling, and he was counting the turns the fan made but it just made his head hurt and all in all he was just aching all over.

Oikawa rolled over to the edge of the mattress, propping himself onto his elbow. He reached for the nightstand by his bed, his fingertips scratching at the handle and tracing the curves, and he pulled it open.

Sitting right in the drawer was a small letter.

"Don't open until July 17th," it read in the block-like letters of Iwa-chan's messy scrawl.

God, he wanted to open it now. He needed someone to reel him back in, to make him feel close to Iwa again and he needed something to close his hands around.

Something Iwa had touched too. 

But he couldn't open it. Not yet. They'd both promised to wait. 

And whether Iwaizumi was here or not, Oikawa wouldn't break any promise.

He slipped the letter back into the drawer and sat up fully, swinging his leg to push the drawer back in with his knee. 

Oikawa slowly stood up from the bed, his stomach tying itself in knots and pushing around inside him and making him feel absolutely sick, and it hurt, but he made his way over to the drawer in the corner of the room anyways. He reached for the top knob, pulling it open.

Pulling Iwa-chan's drawer open.

It hit him hard.

The smell of Iwa-chan slammed right into him, knifing through his chest and throwing his mind into havoc. It was the right mix of cigarettes and rain and some sort of cologne and he remembered the smell so fucking much-

lwaizumi had his arm around the back of the passenger seat beside him where Oikawa sat.

They were in his truck. The one that was probably released a couple decades ago, but despite that, Iwa refused to do anything but drive it until it wouldn't start and there was no way to fix it.

Oikawa had stepped into it for the first time just a minute ago. It smelled just like Iwa-chan, and that was enough to make him as giddy as a junior high school girl. He was smiling, and he couldn't stop, and his cheeks were aching and his entire face was just radiating happiness because he was alone with Iwa. 

Just the two of them.

His heart was beating too fast for his liking, and it was beating against his rib cage like it was being held captive. It probably was being held captive, because it belonged with Iwa-chan anyways.

"This truck is so old," Oikawa had murmured, glancing into the side mirror to make sure he didn't look awful.

Iwaizumi turned to him with one of those grins.

One of the rare ones that he reserved for Oikawa and Oikawa only. It was in place of the gruff expression that everyone saw on the outside, but Oikawa was the lucky one who was graced with this smile. This was the type that stretched Iwa-chan's lips so far and wide that all Oikawa wanted to do was kiss them, and it was the type that tilted and crinkled the corner of his eyes so that they looked happy too. It was the type that slightly tipped his ears up and the type that made his cheeks just sort of glow red, with some cheerful ruddiness, and Oikawa felt like the luckiest thing in existence to see it.

Iwa-chan leaned forward, shifting his weight in the seat slightly as his nose came forward, almost close enough to brush against Oikawa's.

"I know. But I like to think that even though it's old, it's got this new feeling to it every time I step in."

Oikawa's breaths were erratic, his eyes owlishly wide and he found himself agreeing.

He'd never felt this way before.

He saw Iwaizumi take a deep breath, saw his eyes begin to flutter closed, saw him start to lean in more and more and for a moment, all of Oikawa's clairvoyance and quick thinking had deserted him and all the things he'd thought of doing when this moment would come had left his mind so he did the only thing he was capable of.

He sat frozen and let Iwa-chan touch their lips together, soft and slow.

And like a shotgun into the air, all of his senses seemed to flood into his body at once, his nerves malfunctioning and his lungs sputtering and his cheeks getting hotter and hotter until he was sure that he was on fire. Oikawa closed his eyes, feeling his lips start to move back on their own as he melted into the form of Iwaizumi. He felt strong arms wrap around his waist and pull him forward, and he could felt a small smile on the lips attach to his own. A grin started to play on Oikawa's own mouth, small laughs making their way into their kisses as Iwaizumi leaned forward even more, toppling them over onto the seats with Iwa-chan on top of Oikawa. 

And they had stopped their locked lips, just for a moment, to pull away and rest their noses together. 

Oikawa could still see that rare smile on Iwaizumi's lips and he could see his flushed cheeks, and there was no doubt that Oikawa was looking the exact same way.

"Dammit," Oikawa thought giddily, his smile at full brightness as he reached down to clutch at Iwa-chan's hand. "This is so perfect."

••

12:01 am.

It's been a month.

It's been a month since Iwaizumi had left.

I's been a month of tear-stained pillowcases and a month of opening his clothing drawers and being reduced to a heap on the floor, it's been a month of wishing and wishing and it's been a month of racing heart rates and turning stomachs and empty beds and quiet rooms and a month of changing the bandages on his finger where he'd missed cutting the sandwich (it was deeper than he'd thought) and it was a month.

A month of losing himself.

But on top of that, it was their anniversary.

July 17th was here and for shitty forsaken scientific reason, it hadn't fallen on a Saturday.

But Oikawa had stayed up till midnight just so he could read the letter under the terms of their promise.

And so now the time was here and it was time and fuck, he'd already thought that, and he couldn't keep his hands from shaking as he pulled the drawer open, couldn't keep his heart from fluttering as he pulled the envelope out, couldn't keep his teeth from biting the insides of his cheeks as he ripped it open, couldn't keep his eyebrows from furrowing as he unfolded the letter, couldn't help a soft noise of sadness rush from between his lips once he began to read.

Hi, dumbass Oikawa.

I miss you so much.

That's sort of weird right now because I'm writing this while I'm still home (obviously). You're bustling around the kitchen and I can hear you singing the lyrics to one of this god awful songs we heard on the radio the other day.

You're so fucking cute while you do it though.

I'm guessing that you stayed up until midnight just to read this.

Idiot.

I'm not really good with words, Oikawa. Especially not with writing them. But I have to do something because there's no way in hell that I'll not leave you a letter when you give me one.

So. I'll try.

But just for you.

I guess I'll start off with the outside and work my way inside.

I really love you. I'll call you trash and an ass and I can mean it sometimes but through everything, you're all my life revolves around. And you're just so beautiful.

I love your hair. I love the light color, I love how it sticks up in tufts and how it always bounces and I love pulling on it and I love when you squeal right afterwards. I love your forehead and how it's like a corner piece to a puzzle, how it just fits you. And how sometimes there's a small wrinkle but if I kiss it enough then it goes away. I love the slope of your nose, and I love your nose itself. It's like a little fairy nose. A button nose. I don't know. It's cute. I love your high cheeks and the way they lift when you're smiling, and I love the small dip right under your nostrils that bows out your upper lip. Your beautiful, beautiful lips. They're pink and soft and god, they always seemed to be stretched wide in some sort of smile or laugh and it drives me crazy, how you're always so fucking happy, and I love it so much. I love your neck and how it leads down to your broad shoulders, I love your chest and the trail down to your stomach and them being attached to your long long legs. Sometimes I want to slap you for being so much taller. But you honestly are really fucking gorgeous, Oikawa. I love the knocks of your knees and the crooks of your elbows and the swirl on your head that forces you to part your hair justly so. I love the corners of your eyes that rise with your lips and I love your delicate little ears, and I love your knuckles to your fingertips and your feet and all of you that exists and ever has and ever will.

Fuck. If you ever bring any of that up then I'm punching you.

So, I addressed the outside.

Now for the inside.

And I honestly will have no regrets about this one.

You're gorgeous. You're truly beautiful and lovely and all of that but your personality, I guess, is what makes it so infuriatingly hard to be without you. You piss me off a lot, you know. You can be overly pompous and gaudy and an asshole but the fact that I love all of that is what makes me insane. About you. This doesn't sound like a love letter. I'm sorry, I told you I suck with words. But please keep going.

You always seem to have some sort of facade going on as soon as we step into the world. You're grinning, and you've got this designated smile for every situation. You've got this guard up behind your eyes, some sort of wall that you laid personally, brick by brick. You're happy, you're bubbly, but no one seems to realize that they know nothing about you. And I can't overstate that I'm so glad that I stripped down those layers to get to Oikawa Tooru. And only Oikawa Tooru. I love when a smile flashes on your lips, and it's not a practiced one, but it's one you do without thinking. It's genuine and it's surprised and it's fast but god, it's like a fucking miracle. I love when I'm tracing your skin like I'm graphing it, and I tell you over and over just how beautiful you are, and you look modest and embarrassed. There's that quick smile again, and your cheeks are rosy, and you look humble and beautiful and absolutely stripped of everything that the people outside see. They see just some bubbly creature with elf features and yeah, that's out there, but when you're down and open to me is my favorite state of you. I guess I could say you're like a crab. A lobster. An ant? Any creature with an exoskeleton I'd say. You're tough and hard and sculpted on the outside. And you're so, so vulnerable inside. But inside is where you're sweetest. That sounded incredibly weird. I'm sorry. But I can't stress enough how lucky I feel to actually know this inside Oikawa, to know his faults and flaws and to understand how much they complete me, and to have spent years with him to the point where I know how to handle him at every corner and he knows how to handle me. And I like to think that you're like the sun. God, you're like the sun. You shine on everyone and make them grow and you burn so fucking bright, it's like you fuel us, and we'd be nothing but nonexistence without you.

The fact that everything I just described is mine is what keeps me breathing. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, I'm okay as long as you're there to tell me that I am.

i'm sorry if this wasn't enough. Or maybe it was too much. I don't know. I'm really really shitty at these types of things.

But I'll do anything for you.

And I have no doubt that you'd do the same for me.

I guess that's why I plan to sit with you until the backs of my hands are creased and wrinkled and my hair doesn't stand up in spikes anymore, mostly because it fell out. I plan to have you by my side forever. And I'm so happy to say that.

Happy anniversary, Oikawa Tooru.

I love you.

-Iwaizumi/Iwa-chan

 

••

Oikawa didn't feel any closer to Iwaizumi.

He felt like his heart had just been ripped from his chest and tossed into a chasm of flames and now he was light-headed and all his wounds were opened again.

He craved Iwa even more. He needed all of him right then and there and he couldn't take it, he couldn't take it.

Oikawa clamped the edges of Iwaizumi's hoodie over his palms, and brought his covered hands up to push at his face. He rubbed at his cheeks and his eyes, pushing the sweater into his eyelids to keep the tears away.

It didn't work.

Oikawa pulled his long legs up, folded them at the knees and brought them to his chest. Oikawa slipped his arms around his legs and held them there, his chest swelling with inhales and pushing across the skin of his thighs, fighting his lungs back, and his eyes were growing warm. He could tell that his pale nose was starting to turn red, and he could feel his lower lip begin to shake and tremble. Oikawa bit down on it, his fingers curling into fists as he felt tears trace the delicate line of his eyelids. They curled and stayed for a moment in the corner of his eyes, growing heavier and heavier until with a squeeze of his eyes and a flick of his lashes, they were sent streaming down his hot skin, screaming across his white cheeks.

Please come home.

••

10:17 am.

It was Saturday.

Oikawa was sitting on his couch beside the phone, his legs tucked underneath him as his chin rested on the arm of the sofa.

He had his eyes on the television, but not his mind.

He didn't seem to have a mind anymore.

Suga had spent the night on his couch, and had just left. It was Saturday, and Suga let Oikawa keep to himself on these days, like how Oikawa let him be on his own Wednesdays.

Oikawa's fingertips danced across the wood of the table, his nose in the air as his gaze raked across the ceiling. The soft speaking from the television was mere background noise, his patience far past the idea of watching entertainment news. Oikawa turned his head slightly, his cheek falling to the fabric of the couch as his gaze shifted to the floor. He faintly felt and heard the grumbling from his stomach, but he wasn't going to make breakfast. He'd learned not to cook on Saturdays. 

Not until after the call.

His thoughts all around him, yet nowhere at once, Oikawa barely registered the gentle thumping of someone knocking at the door. He frowned to himself, pushing himself up into a sitting position and slowly standing up. No one really visited him, and Suga had driven away hardly a few minutes before. His neighbors just left him to himself, and people who sold stuff at doorsteps barely existed anymore. 

His forehead creasing in curiosity and slight panic (he was afraid to leave the phone's side even for a minute), Oikawa briskly made his way to the door, putting on his best apologetic face. He reached for the doorknob, the cool metal sliding against his palm as he turned it, wrenching the door open.

"I'm really sorry, but I'm expecting an important phone ca-"

And then he got a look at his guest.

Or rather, guests.

In Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force uniforms.

With their hats over their chests.

And one of them with a paper in his gloved white hand.

That was all Oikawa saw before the room went darker and darker, and he fell to the ground.

••

Oikawa woke up, his forehead pulsing, his body feeling like he was on top of a fire. It was scorching his skin, singing his veins, pushing through and igniting flames throughout all of his body, a blazing inferno sparking to life in the hole in his chest.

He sat up slightly, to find a worried looking woman looking at him. She was in uniform and her hair was in an impeccably tight bun, her coworkers at her side.

And then he remembered.

Oikawa scrambled up to a sitting position, his lungs collapsing on themselves as he fought to breathe. He could feel his dinner rise in his throat, and he swallowed desperately, his head pounding as his heart started to stutter.

"N-no,"  was all he could manage to get out, his eyes growing wider and wider as he felt the tears resurface again.

"He isn't dead. He p-promised me always. He always comes back," Oikawa stuttered, the lump in his throat getting bigger and bigger.

The woman parted her lips, but was immediately cut off by the man.

The one with the letter in his hands.

"Are you Oikawa Tooru, the designated proxy of Lieutenant Iwaizumi Hajime?"

Oikawa nodded numbly.

"We, with deep sorrow, regret, and our condolences are here to inform you that Iwaizumi Hajime..."

Oikawa's world froze, the entire atmosphere shattering, the shards falling apart and crumbling around him, his body seeming to attack his thoughts and his thoughts attacking his body. Everything stopped, everything shot into the air and it was all suspended by one thing holding it together.

Iwaizumi.

"...in the intensive care unit. He has critical injuries, and is in a coma. He was under a bridge in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the bridge was bombed halfway to heaven."

Not all the way.

"Thirteen died. Two escaped with major injuries and are currently hospitalized. Lieutenant Hajime was one of them."

He wasn't dead. He wasn't dead. He wasn't dead.

Yet.

A sharp pain shot through Oikawa's heart. His brittle bones shook against the erratic thrashing in his chest, his entire world quaking.

Iwa-chan wasn't dead.

But he was in a coma. And he might not even wake up.

Shaking, Oikawa managed out a question.

"W-was Lieutenant Sawamura Daichi one of the deceased?"

"We are not allowed to divulge information to the public."

"Please. I'm close friends with his... partner. He's going to tear himself apart with worry."

The man regarded Oikawa for a moment, and then brought the list up. He scanned it quickly, and shook his head.

"No. Sawamura Daichi is not on the list."

And for a second, for a moment, Oikawa felt the worst and most horrid feeling that he could have been whipped with.

Anger.

Anger that Suga had it better, anger that Daichi hadn't been on the list when Iwaizumi had, angry that the boy he was in love with was the one who was hurt instead of someone else, anyone else, and he knew it was selfish and wrong and immoral on every single level but god dammit, he couldn't help it.

Because Iwa-chan was all he needed and wanted and he just wanted him and solely him to be okay.

The fury had flowed into him quickly, had pumped through his blood at a mad pace and it had struck a burning inferno in his lungs, and it singed all of him from the inside out.

Just as quickly as it had come, a silent wind whispered through his throat and the fire died, leaving nothing but ashes and ashes and shame at how he'd been so quick to be a self-centered asshole.

But still wanted Iwa-chan to be okay over anyone else.

••

8:32 am.

Oikawa felt a gentle hand run down the length of his back, rubbing small circles into him as he had his nose buried in their shirt. 

He was already crying for the third time that morning.

Oikawa's pale skin was flushed red, his delicate nose pink as it sniffled, his cheeks burning as tears scorched down them.

It hurt.

And now, for the first fucking time, Suga couldn't help.

Suga couldn't understand.

His boyfriend was unharmed. His boyfriend had all body parts functioning properly. His boyfriend was conscious.

Oikawa knew that he shouldn't be thinking this way again, knew that it was wrong of him, knew that he should be happy for Suga because Daichi was okay.

But all he felt was a twisted, mangled shadow in the back of his throat, a horrible pit of envy and bitterness that all Suga could do was hold him and nod sympathetically when he didn't understand, he didn't understand at all, and there was a ghost of a wall between them now and.

It hurt.

And Iwaizumi's doctors had him call every day, every single day, just to try some more. They found that his body, while unconscious, could still react slightly to voices.

Especially Oikawa's.

They'd put him on speaker phone every day and have him speak to Iwa-chan for at least half an hour, have him try to talk him out of sleep and bring him back up to the surface. Sure, having his voice have such an impact on Iwa made him feel special.

But he'd rather him be awake to hear it.

As Suga rocked Oikawa in his arms slowly, Oikawa stained his sleeves with his salty tears, Suga trying to get him to quiet down.

Just as the phone rang.

It was the regular call from the hospital for Oikawa to talk to Iwa-chan. Oikawa wriggled from Suga's arms, diving for the phone and picking it off the set on the second.

"Hello?" he said, a bit too scared, a bit too breathy, but he didn't care because he had a chance at talking to Iwa-chan.

"Hello, Mr. Tooru."

"Hi, Dr. Takeda. How's Iwa-ch... Iwaizumi?"

There was a long silence on the other end, and the static sound of some shuffling papers.

Then a sigh.

"He... His ribs are healing nicely. They were set and stayed that way and it seems they're going to be absolutely fine. The burns on the side of his body are doing pretty well too. They aren't exactly in a good state, but they're definitely better than they were before."

The entire time the doctor talked, he had this air.

This air of but... there's something else.

"Anything else?"

"Well. Ah, we're a bit worried about something."

"What is it?"

"The um..." The doctors voice slowly dropped off into a mumble, a slight cough behind the earpiece. 

"The...?"

"The internal bleeding," he said in a rush, his voice fast and pushed by a nervous breath.

"Internal bleeding," Oikawa repeated numbly, blinking to himself once.

"It was discovered only recently. B-but of course, it's isn't anything we can't fix."

He heard the stutter.

"I'll, ah. I'll set the phone on speaker for you and step out for a bit."

Oikawa was silent.

Internal bleeding.

He waited for a moment until he heard the soft beep of a button being pressed, and the quiet click of a door closing. Oikawa turned in time, just to see his own front door being pulled shut. Suga was going home.

This was too private.

Oikawa ran a hand through his light hair, disheveling it further as he dragged a sigh from his lungs.

"Hi," he said into the phone, biting down on his own lip when he didn't hear a reply. He knew he wouldn't.

But it still hurt.

"I miss you, y'know. I hope you're doing better. Dr. Takeda told me you were. I'm alright I guess." Lie. 

Oikawa glanced out the window, taking a deep breath as his fingers clenched, pulling at his hair.

"It's raining out. I get the feeling that even the sky is crying when you're not okay. Not that I blame it. Probably half the tears coming from the clouds are from the evaporation of my tears."

A weak laugh.

"But I know you're gonna be okay. You're a fighter, Iwa-chan. That's the reason you're over there in the first place."

Oikawa squeezed his eyes shut, thinking and thinking and grasping for something else to talk about.

"Well. I'd talk about work but I don't know what to say. Kuroo told me to take all the time off that I needed and it was fine. So I haven't been in for a while. I can't really seem to do anything except think about you. But it's basically always been like that."

Another weak laugh.

"It's kinda funny, Iwa-chan. I'm usually good at talking. But I feel like my own mouth is attacking me right now. It doesn't matter though. I'll keep going. I'll do anything for you, if you haven't noticed. Remember when you dared me to kiss you for half an hour straight? And I actually did it, considering your breath is always terrible."

This time, the laugh was a little less forced.

"I'm kidding. I'd kiss you all day if I could. But I completed the dare just because you told me to, and my lips buzzed for an entire damn hour afterwards. It felt really weird. Like someone was brushing a feather across my lips for a while. But I liked it. I like everything you cause, and I just-"

He was trying not to disappear into a pile of tears beneath his laughing.

"I just hope you'll be home soon, Iwa-chan."

••

Days dragged by.

The number slowly racked up to seven, the seven piled up to thirteen.

The thirteen grew to be passed weeks.

Weeks of shivering phone calls, weeks of having his fingers and toes crossed all day and weeks of having to wash his sheets from the tears over and over.

Weeks of the false brightness of Takeda, weeks of the voices of sympathetic and pitying people, weeks of Suga's arms around his back and worried glances over his head.

And weeks closer to the doctors getting more and more scared.

Iwa was still asleep, far under the blanket of his own eyes, far under the camouflage of not his uniform this time, but his own body.

There'd been a lot of false alarms. There'd been moments when his heart rate spiked to the roof, when his heart rate fell through the floor, when he almost stopped breathing and when the bleeding couldn't be staunched. There'd been moments when he stirred and a nurse swore up and down, side to side, in and out that he'd been murmuring in his sleep.

But he still wasn't conscious.

There were always god damn gift baskets at his door. "Pity presents" he liked to call them, cellophane wrapped packages of food and stuffed animals and shit movies and other things and fuck, everyone had such good hearts.

But curling up on the couch with the candy and teddy bear he'd been given while watching The Lion King (which he'd also been gifted) wasn't going to wake Iwa up.

And so in the closet loomed a mountain, a gargantuan skyscraper of chucked charity, and it seemed to feed on itself and grow whenever he walked by.

It made him feel guilty on top of everything else.

••

4:12 am.

It's been 94 days.

Ninety-four days of beautifully closed eyelids, ninety-four days of a steadily breathing chest, and Daichi was even home by now.

Iwaizumi was still under.

People always say, "Time heals everything."

For Oikawa, they're wrong.

For Oikawa, time festers. Time seeps into the wound that was brutally ripped open, time tears it open even further, time takes away all the components that fight against the bad, time takes away the merest light that shines and says maybe there's hope, time is a quiet hurricane and it's relishing in the pleasure of taking all the happiness it comes across.

And to use the word 'hurt' was an understatement.

He was jealous of the people who walked down the street holding hands. He was jealous of the people who had that fucking heart emoji by someone's name in their contact book. He was jealous of the people who fell asleep in a different pair of arms. He was jealous of the imprints of soft kisses on skin and he was so fucking jealous that it'd been scraped from the ends of his fingertips so suddenly and cruelly.

He'd still been calling every day. But after a while, even the doctor stopped trying to put up the perky façade, stopped trying to even seem as if there was hope or a sliver of a possibility. When he called Oikawa, he just greeted him hastily, set up the phone, and walked out.

It was like Oikawa was trapped in one side of a dam. It had started off as the empty side. But the wall ruptured, the wall's destruction started with a small pinprick and then it had started to spiral downwards. It was teetering, the foundation was unstable, it was about to fucking collapse, and he was right in the middle of it. Water was slamming through, it was punching past the barriers and sweeping through what had been stopping it. It spun around Oikawa, it devoured Oikawa, it took him into its arms that were caressing him like they were there to help, but under their softness, they were pulling him down and down deep under the water and the breath was being squeezed from his lungs.

Bit by bit.

Breath by breath.

Strand of hope by strand of hope.

••

 

"I love you," Oikawa heard himself saying into the phone as he was cut off from talking to Iwaizumi. The news had been the same this time. It's always the same.

Oikawa usually waited until he heard the click of the other side hang up.

Maybe it was because part of him was still wrapped around the silver lining of a possibility that maybe he'd jerk up just before he ended the call.

It never happened.

But instead of hearing the click this time, Oikawa heard the small shuffling and crinkling of the phone being passed to someone else.

"Mr. Tooru? Are you still there?" came the nervous chatter of the doctor.

Nervous? This was new.

"Yeah, I'm here."

There was the sound of someone releasing a breath.

Or maybe taking one in.

He wasn't sure.

"Hello, Oikawa."

"Hi."

He was blunt. He was short. His emotions had been reduced.

"How are you?"

"I don't know. How about you?"

"Fine, fine."

The doctor hummed into the phone anxiously, the wind whipping through the microphone as he shifted himself.

"Is there anything you wanted to talk to me about?" Oikawa asked, his head beginning to hurt.

"N-no. I mean, yes."

"Go for it."

"Well, I don't know exactly if it's a question..."

"Something's on your mind. If it's regarding Iwa, tell me."

"Right. Well, it's more of an opinion, I'd say."

Oikawa closed his eyes, his forehead falling forward into his palm.

"Tell me."

"Iwaizumi's health hasn't exactly been deteriorating." He coughed nervously. "But it hasn't been the best either," he continued.

"I know."

"You know, there are a lot of people in the army here, Oikawa. And I... They get injured too."

Oikawa was quiet.

"You probably understand first and foremost what it's like to have a loved one that needs medical attention."

Oikawa barked out a laugh. It was short and twisted and bitter and fuck, he was surprised it came from his lips.

"That's extremely true."

"I-I... I just. Oikawa, I can't express to you how sorry I am for your partner."

"I'm sorry too."

"But he's been unresponsive for three months. Three. It's not looking like anything will ascend any time soon, Oikawa."

Silence.

"I know saying this may make me seem like a complete insensitive ignoramus. But I guess what I'm trying to say is... I d-don't... I j-just..."

"Spit it out, Takeda."

"I think it's time to pull the plug."

Oikawa hung up.

••

Oikawa's eyes were tacked back to his bedroom ceiling. He traced the cracks that laced their way around the corners, he breathed in the shadows that used to be the reason he couldn't sleep at night.

The reason was entirely different now.

I think it's time to pull the plug.

The way light bounces off mirrors, those words bounced through the maze of Oikawa's brain.

Pull the plug.

Oikawa rolled to his side, his hip bone pressing into the mattress.

It was time to fucking end this.

He sat up quickly, his fingertips shaking as he pushed off the covers. Oikawa slipped off of the bed that felt too big now, and made his way over to his desk in the corner. He booted up the computer, pressing the button and wiggling the mouse impatiently.

As soon as the screen lit up, Oikawa pulled up a search engine page.

"Plane tickets to Afghanistan."

 

••

4:15 am.

Oikawa was sitting in the cramped space of the economy class seat.

He was a tall person, sometimes too tall, and his legs were bent and folded in about a dozen different angles in the process of trying to actually fit in the seat.

But he didn't notice.

He didn't notice the way his knees knocked the seat in front of him, didn't notice the babies wailing a row over, didn't notice the flight attendants handing him apple juice when he had asked for orange.

He didn't notice anything but the flight tracker in front of him, the plane slowly inching closer and closer to their destination country.

Closer and closer to Iwa-chan.

 

••

12:06 pm.

Oikawa was running.

Running in an airport is always a bad decision. You slam into people, you trip over luggage, you drop whatever the hell you're carrying, and people stare like you're insane.

But Oikawa didn't care.

Oikawa was fucking flying.

He had ran and made it as the first one through the immigration lines, he'd gotten his visa in a few minutes flat, yanked his carry-on after him successfully, and he was running for the double doors now. As soon as he stepped outside of the automatic panes of glass, he was met with the loud hum of street noise. His hair bounced as he brought himself to a slight halt, his nose filling with exhaust from cars that were flying past and Oikawa wondered, just wondered, if any of the rushing people were off to find someone they loved too.

Oikawa dragged his suitcase over to the wall. Attaching himself to the brief break of people, he made his way in the shadows, slowly slipping into the booth of a payphone and tugging the bag in with him. Oikawa reached in his coat pocket, brushing his fingertips across the thick fabric. He fished for a moment, before clenching a small bit of paper between his thumb and forefinger, and pulled it out. The hospital phone number was scrawled across it.

After putting in some change, and punching in the digits, Oikawa stood.

And stood.

Listening to the dial tone, drag across his skin and his mind and etch grooves into his skin and he waited.

And stood some more.

And finally, there was a small click of the other line being received.

"Doctor Ittetsu Takeda."

"Takeda, I'm at the airport."

"Airport?"

"Yes."

"Going on vacation...?"

"Um. Not exactly."

"Where are you going?"

"I just arrived at my destination. Afghanistan."

"You just ar- what?"

"Yeah. Can you send me a taxi so I ca-"

"Hold on, hold on. You can't just tell me you're at the airport a few kilometers away and expect me to take it in stride."

Why the hell not?  ran across Oikawa's thoughts, and he leaned forward heavily, his forearm pressing into the glass of the booth. He dipped his head into his hand, running his fingers through the tufts of upright hair. Oikawa breathed heavily, closing his eyes and feeling his heartbeat shiver inside him.

"Send a cab."

His voice was stripped of emotion, was unnaturally calm.

Takeda was deathly silent for a moment.

"A-alright. It'll be over soon."

Oikawa let a small breath slip from his lips, his chest moving slightly.

"Thank you," he said softly, trying to add sincerity to his voice. "I'm going to wake up Iwa-chan."

"I'm sure you will," Takeda murmured, like he was a mother talking to a child who was pretending to find dinosaurs on an expedition.

"I will."

And he hung up.

••

Oikawa strode into the hospital lobby, long legs pumping and fist still curled around the handle of his suitcase. He tugged it after him as he walked up the to counter briskly, stopping with his body as he opened his mouth. Just as he was about to demand, to fucking demand entry straight away, Takeda came bustling around the corner.

"Oikawa-kun!"

Oikawa turned, his eyes locking onto the smaller figure. He looked young, maybe early thirties. His hair was short and hardly styled, his dark eyes framed by rectangular lenses that were slightly askew over the bridge of his nose. He was a lot shorter than Oikawa. But then again, most everyone was. The man skidded to a stop, extended his hand.

"I'm Ittetsu Takeda. Iwaizumi's doctor. It's nice to finally meet you."

Oikawa took his hand, shaking it, a bit confused.

"It's nice to meet you too. How'd you know it was me?"

Takeda grinned and turned his chin to the side, bringing a shoulder up to push his slipping glasses up his nose.

"I heard you introducing yourself. Not to mention that voice. It's so airy, y'know?"

Okay then.

Oikawa flashed a quick smile, one he hoped was charming, as glanced above Takeda's head.

"Can you..."

Takeda jumped up as if someone had just slapped him, his eyes growing.

"Oh! Iwaizumi! Right, follow me."

Takeda spoke briefly with the receptionist, giving Oikawa clearance and an identification sticker. He led him down a series of halls, the hospital seeming more like a labyrinth than anything. On the way, he chattered with Oikawa.

"Your boyfriend seems like a really good soldier. A good man, too."

"Yeah," Oikawa said softly, eyes skidding to the scratched linoleum of the floor.

"He is."

After soft padding through the hospital, and passing room after room, they came to a stop outside of another closed door. It was made of fake wood, over-exaggerated knots and swirls stuck into the patterning. There was a smooth metal handle that Takeda promptly unlocked, and opened to reveal Iwaizumi on his bed.

And that's when Oikawa felt himself stop breathing.

Maybe it was here that his bottom lip got stuck between his teeth, maybe it was here when he started chewing the inside of his cheek, maybe it as here that he felt his knees start to quiver.

Iwaizumi's form was resting almost pleasantly on the cot, the way he looked so peaceful almost a joke. His chest would climb and climb, and then plunge back down, steady and slow as the air came and left. His eyes were fluttered closed, his black eyelashes fluttering over the tan skin of his cheeks. The crease that always seemed to be etched between his eyebrows was gone, his forehead placid. His lips were a straight line, not smiling, but not scowling either. His face was... calm.

Calm.

"Iwa-chan," Oikawa breathed, his nostrils flaring and his cheeks heating as he felt his chest clench and his heart stutter and his eye prick.

Takeda gingerly placed a tentative hand on Oikawa's shoulder, squeezing it lightly.

"I know," he began to say softly.

"I mean, I don't know. I don't think anyone could fathom what you're even beginning to feel right now. But Oikawa..."

Oikawa turned to face him.

"He's not improving. And resources are desperately needed. Everyone here, in this country, is in need too," Takeda said gently.

Oikawa stared back owlishly.

"Remember what I said. About... About p-pulling the plug."

Takeda let his hand drop once Oikawa stiffly turned away. He took a step back, bowing his head, afraid he overstepped his boundaries.

"I'll leave you to think."

And he walked out, shutting the door behind him with a soft click.

Oikawa slowly shuffled his feet forward, feeling like he was walking underwater. It had the same stinging on his eyes, the same wetness on his face. He felt slow, like he was being pulled back every time he pushed forward. His lungs were being pressured, squeezed until every last drop of air was gone and all he could do was pretend, all he could do was imitate breathing. 

He pulled the chair beside Iwaizumi's bed to him, the rusty metal of the pegs screeching against the hard floor as he angled it just enough for him to sit. Oikawa planted his feet on the ground, pushing himself forward so that his knees were pressed flush into Iwaizumi's mattress. He reached forward, started to extend his arm, and then stopped like his fingertips had found a pane of glass. But then he squeezed his eyes shut, his pale skin flushing as he continued forward, flitting his fingertips across the fabric of Iwaizumi's hospital clothes and over to his arm.

And Iwaizumi's heart monitor started to speed up, the beeping becoming less constant and more erratic under Oikawa's hand.

Oikawa smiled, something like sadness at the back of his throat.

He reacted to their skin touching even when he was asleep.

Oikawa swallowed the bitterness down, allowed his eyes to open ever so slightly just so he could see where Iwa-chan's hand was positioned. He reached for it, his thumb sliding over the ridge of Iwa's fingertips. He felt his own heart shiver inside him, and he clenched Iwa-chan's hand in his. Slowly, slowly, he laced their fingers together, the backs of his fingers brushing over the gentle bumps of Iwaizumi's knuckles. The heart monitor was beeping quickly, unpredictable and fast as Oikawa brought their intertwined hands up to his lips. He pressed them gently into the bronze skin of Iwaizumi's hand, his eyes closing as he kissed up his arm.

••

They were in Iwaizumi's backyard.

It was the summer, and the sun was laughing above their heads, the light branching out in arms to warm everything in sight.

They were just about seven, or eight as Oikawa always insisted, and they were short and wiry. They were proud of the gaps between their teeth and their hair always always always stuck up, like they didn't even know was combs were.

They were still mischievous, still bode that air of playfulness and rebellion.

The wind was pretty that day. It wrapped around them, ironically enough, like a coat, tucking them in and swarming the gaps between their arms and legs and toes.

Oikawa was on his hands and knees, his nose right in the dirt and his eyes big as his sweaty hand cupped together. A small squeal tickled from his throat as it tore out, his back snapping up straight as he sat up to sit on his feet. He brought his hands into the air, his lips exploding into a smile that he'd come to perfect in the mirror years later.

"I caught one. I caught one and you didn't Iwa-chan!" he said almost chidingly, holding up his hands.

"I bet you're lying," Iwa said, standing up to dust off his dirty knees, elbows strapped with band aids.

"I bet I'm not," Oikawa huffed, sticking his tongue out. 

Iwa-chan rolled his eyes, stuck his tongue right back out.

He was jealous.

Oikawa's a gloater- he'd brag and brag and hold up the cicada. And maybe some people would take it as selfishness but Iwa knew that he liked to be proud of himself. He usually deserved it too.

So Iwa ran into the house, tracking dirt across the wooden planks of the floor and trying to remember to clean it up before his parents were home. He bustled into the kitchen and grabbed an empty jar sitting on the counter, working the lid off impatiently as he ran back. He met Oikawa in the backyard and he grabbed some twigs and leaves with his grubby hands. Dumping them into the jar, he held it forward.

"Put him in here."

His tongue swiping across his bottom lip and sticking there as he furrowed his brows, Oikawa slowly slowly dumped his palms down until the cicada slipped from his skin into the jar. Iwaizumi was fast, he was there to slap the lid on top and screw it on. The grooves didn't match up, and the lid was crooked and tilted on top but the jar was sealed, and that was enough for them both as Oikawa held it up.

Two sets of eyes, one pair dark and piercing like a quiet storm, the other lighter and they'd take in the light like they always wanted to dance. They were beside each other, watching the little cicada inside the jar jump at the walls.

"He doesn't look happy in there," Iwa-chan said softly.

Oikawa pouted, his lower lip jutting out.

"Don't say that, Iwa-chan. It'll make me feel bad and I'd feel like I have to let him go. But I like him. I caught him all on my own."

"I know you did. But look at him, Oikawa."

They pressed their noses to the jar, which seemed to terrify the bug. It fluttered its wings, lunging for the glass over and over, fluttering its wings. 

"He can't fly in there," Oikawa whispered.

Iwaizumi slung a sweaty arm across Oikawa's shoulders. 

"I know it was hard to catch him and you're proud that you did, but..."

They both seemed to stop everything, the cicada in front of them jumping and jumping and scuttling under the leaves, just to pop back up and jump again.

"I don't think he likes it in there."

Oikawa took his eyes away from the jar, looking over at Iwaizumi.

"Why are you acting all responsible, Iwa-chan?" he said, reaching over to push his arm. Iwaizumi felt the heat rush to his cheeks, his eyebrows furrowing defensively.

"I'm n-not!"

Oikawa felt himself grin at Iwa, and then he glanced away slightly.

"You know, they always say if you love something to let it go."

They both turned back to the cicada, Oikawa's breaths coming faster and faster. He reached for the top of the crooked lid, his elbow sticking out as he pushed at it. He pinched the lid with his fingers, twisting it until it came off with a soft pop. Oikawa bent at the knees to set the jar down in the grass on its side, the both of them watching as the bug jumped out and and flew away away away.

"You're flying," Oikawa thought to himself.

Iwaizumi, arm still around Oikawa, shrugged lightly as their eyes traced the cicada.

"And they say that if it loves you too, it'll come back."

••

Oikawa's red nose was pressed into the sheet of Iwaizumi's hospital bed, his chest clenching and unclenching. He could feel his ribs growing tighter and tighter, like a corset, and his his heart was right in the middle. He sat up, the sheets following him until they fell off, fluttering back to rest on Iwaizumi's still hip bones. Oikawa's eyes set themselves on Iwa's face, drinking in his nose and his lips and his chin and forehead and eyebrows and eyelids and all that made him him.

He tipped his face back, his eyes readjusting to the cracks running in rivulets through the stark plaster that made up the ceiling. His chest rose and fell, and he could just about swear that he could hear a creaking inside him every time he took a breath.

You know, they always say if you love something to let it go.

Oikawa's eyes snapped shut, his jaw clenching as his hands gripped the plastic of the arms of his chair. His skin pulled taut over his knuckles, turning white and strained as his eyes began to burn.

Let it go.

He shook his head to himself, shook it and shook it and shook it. His hair was bouncing like it always did, the way Iwa-chan said he liked. Tears were fighting past the skin of his eyelids, stepping their way to lace themselves through his lashes. They hung there like old friends, and sat heavily, decorating his cheekbones with salt and wetness and then they began to run down. They raced and raced from both eyes, streaming down his skin and leaving a flash fire in their wake, more following. They all met each other just at the base of Oikawa's chin, joining together until they dripped from his skin down to his shirt. His tears fell like people free falling into a safety net, and they met the fabric of his button down, pushing it down and down until it was sticking to his chest.

"He doesn't look happy in there," Iwa-chan said softly.

Oikawa was still shaking his head, his chest stuttering out of time.

"He can't fly in there," Oikawa whispered.

Oikawa's eyes slowly fluttered open, his body sitting up to rest his sight on the resting form of Iwaizumi.

"You can't fly in here," he said aloud.

"I don't think he likes it in there."

"I'm holding you back."

Oikawa sat up more, fresh waves of tears rolling down his pretty face, locking onto Iwaizumi even more.

"I'm keeping you here and you're trapped, aren't you, Iwa-chan?"

He tasted something like sadness on his tongue, bitter and hot and warm in all the wrong ways.

"I remember the way you'd spike. You always looked like you had fallen from the sky, and you were suspended in that one frame." He shook his head. "That one frame. The one where everything stops when you're in the air and there's two ways to look at things. You're either falling, or..." Oikawa reached forward, taking Iwaiumi's knuckles in his.

"You're flying."

Oikawa dipped his head, his chin tucked flush against his chest that was damp with his own tears, new ones still falling free after clinging to his eyelashes. He stood up, taking Iwaizumi's hand with him out of habit. He slowly, slowly, unlaced their fingers, taking them apart slowly, pulling the puzzle into individual pieces of a picture that used to be put together. He made his way to the door of the room, cracking it open slightly just to catch a nurse by the arm.

"Tell Dr. Takeda that I decided he's right. And I'm ready."

The nurse nodded, ducked her head and carried on briskly, leaving Oikawa to turn back around and close the door.

He went in quick strides back over to Iwaizumi's bedside, his eyes settling down around Iwa-chan's profile.

"God, I love you," he whispered bitterly, trying to bite back a soft onslaught of tears.

If the two had been droplets of rain, then Iwa was a drizzle.

And Oikawa was a hurricane.

Oikawa took Iwaizumi's hand back in his, shifting their palms together and wincing at how right it felt. He brought his hand up to his lips, pressing them to the warm skin of the other boy.

"I always have, and I always will."

With that, their hands still together so tight that Oikawa could just about pretend that Iwa-chan was holding him too, Oikawa leaned down. He fluttered his glassy eyes shut, his lips parting to take a quick breath as he pressed his lips to Iwaizumi's.

He expected it.

He expected the sparks that zipped along his skin, stemming from his mouth all the way to the tips of his toes. He expected his heart to shiver and shake inside him the way it always did when he kissed Iwa-chan.

Oikawa also expected the staleness of his skin. He expected the coldness of his lips, and almost cringed at the way he felt like he was going down a one way street in reverse. He expected himself to feel like he was kissing someone delirious, he expected the emotion of hitting a wall straight and flat and hard in the bitterness of saying a goodbye, saying the goodbye.

But what he didn't expect was for Iwaizumi's lips to push back against his.

Just for a second.