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Timeless ( We Have 30 Days )

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+31

-

Iwaizumi doesn't know what's wrong with Oikawa.

It's strange because he's known the asshole his entire life and he's learned every dictionary expression of Oikawa's because that's just how long they've spent together. But this - this is different. New. Foreign.

That's why Iwaizumi is hiding out back in the changing rooms waiting for Oikawa to retire. They're nine days to the spring nationals and Oikawa is working up a storm in the gym, serving one ball after the other. He hears the balls rocket off the floor in a systematic rhythm, a never ending slew of staccato beats.

It's already past 9pm and he isn't sure if this has been Oikawa's daily routine (since when, though?) for the past few days (how many?). At this rate, Iwaizumi thinks bitterly, the idiot is going to break both his knees and he'll be benched for the rest of his life.

He clicks his tongue in irritation. He still has homework and a test to study for, he's quite certain Oikawa has things outside of volleyball that he has to do before the night gives way to day. No matter how brainy Oikawa is, it wouldn't do him good to scrimp on homework and rest.

It takes another ten minutes before the drumming stops and Iwaizumi gets off the bench. He stands by the door to the changing room, ready to tackle Oikawa once he walks through the door. Iwaizumi gives him a 5 minute leeway, because he isn't going to help Oikawa take down the net or return the balls into the carts.

When 20 minutes slip by, Iwaizumi is pissed. 5 minutes had been a leeway, 10 minutes a given, 15 minutes should have been more than enough and after 20 minutes, Iwaizumi is convinced that Oikawa is just testing his patience.

He slams the door open, ready to murder. People tell him all the time that he has this murderous - criminal even - look in his eyes and maybe it's about time he did them some justice.

"Oi-" Iwaizumi starts loud before his voice dwindles to nothing. He finds Oikawa sitting ten or so paces away from the net, knees drawn to his chest and his forehead resting on his knees with a volleyball boxed in.

The first thing Iwaizumi thinks is fuck, he's crying. And it's the kind of crying Oikawa tries to hide - and hides well because Iwaizumi always finds him in the middle of those tearful moments. He's always not there when it matters the most and to be honest, it kind of hurts how closed in Oikawa is to him.

Iwaizumi prods him on the shoulder and Oikawa flinches in surprise. His suspicions are confirmed when he sees the red rimmed eyes and a little snot running. His cheeks have prints of drying rivers and Iwaizumi knows that sadness doesn't look good in those eyes.

"Hey, what's wrong?"

Oikawa blinks at him, mouth pressed into a flat line.

Iwaizumi sighs. He runs through his hair, expectantly dry. He's been out of the showers for more than two hours waiting for the bastard to come around.

"Wanna talk about it?"

Oikawa shakes his head. "Not really."

He stands around as Oikawa inspects his palms. They're red and throbbing with a blistering pulse, but it's a good kind of pain. At least it isn't permanent like Oikawa's hurt knee. Or that time he twisted his ankle.

"I have to win, Iwa-chan," Oikawa says after a heartbeat. He chews his lower lip as his eyes start to water again. Iwaizumi smacks his head from behind and he snorts when Oikawa lets out a yelp and a pout.

"We have to win," Iwaizumi corrects. He scoffs when Oikawa gives him this bleary and forlorn look. "Don't cry over something like that, dumbass. There's still University. And Olympics if you want to go that far."

Oikawa's eyes narrow slightly. Then he shrugs and stands up. "Maybe," he says simply. But Iwaizumi has a niggling sensation at the back of his mind, call it his sixth Oikawa senses tingling, that everything isn't as simple as that and Oikawa is still hiding something.

"Get in the showers before I drag you there and give you a good scrubbing down myself," Iwaizumi threatens. He picks up a stray ball and tosses it into the cart. He half expects Oikawa to jibe at him, provoking him with that same 'are you my mother' joke that has started circulating around the team. But Oikawa only tosses the ball he'd been holding (clinging) onto into the cart.

"It's okay Iwa-chan, I can manage. I know I'm bodily beautiful but I have modesty." Oikawa flashes one of those killer grins, the kind that make your legs jelly because it's just that charming. It's also the fake kind of smile Iwaizumi has learned to pick out. "Can you help me take down the net? I'll pack up the balls when I'm done."

Iwaizumi ends up doing everything alone.

-

+30.05

-

It's 11.30pm. Iwaizumi knows because the neon green numbers of his alarm clock is staring brightly (and mockingly) at him from across the room as the rapping on his windows get louder and louder. Iwaizumi buries his head deeper into his pillow, trying his best to ignore it but the rhythm of the rapping echoes that of the balls in the gymnasiums and he knows there's only one idiot stupid enough to disturb him at 11.30pm. From the windows, no less.

The stupid things he does for one very annoying Oikawa Tooru.

Iwaizumi pulls the window glass open to find Oikawa sitting on a branch just outside the window. They've been neighbours for so long to the point that Oikawa had finally mastered the art of clambering out of his own window onto the tree that steeples between their houses. Iwaizumi has had his fair share of climbing though admittedly, he's been doing it less often as they grew older.

"Iwa-chan~ Are you awake?" Oikawa grins. There's a leaf stuck in his hair and a twig on his sleeve. Iwaizumi briefly calculates the amount of damage he'll cause if he jostles the branch and sends Oikawa careening for the ground. He stops himself when he remembers that directly below the branch is his mother's prized poppy garden and if he ruined that, he'll probably end up in the hospital ward next door to Oikawa's.

"No, I'm asleep. Good night," Iwaizumi grits before he pulls the glass close and draws the curtains again.

Iwaizumi stands there, waiting for the knocking to start again because knowing Oikawa, he's a persistent little bugger. But the LED lights on his alarm shows 11.32pm and he realizes that this must be one of those times where Oikawa is too afraid to call for help. Oikawa has always had that stupid mentality where he bothered people mercilessly with irrelevant things (Iwa-chan, that alien keychain! I want it, I want it. I want itttttt) and is too scared to bother people with the relevant things.

He pulls the curtains open again and he's a bit mystified when he sees Oikawa, sitting on the branch, illuminated silver in the moon. His head is tilted upwards, and his features are outlined in lights with the wind breezing through his hair. It's a beautiful image and Iwaizumi thinks miserably that Oikawa would probably be very pretty if he kept his mouth shut at all times.

"Oi," Iwaizumi says, after he pulls open the glass panel. Oikawa doesn't turn to look at him.

"Iwa-chan. I changed my mind. I want to talk about it. About what's wrong."

Iwaizumi doesn't say anything but just offers his hand, waiting for Oikawa to take the invitation.

-

+30.02

-

Oikawa doesn't really say anything for the best part of the 20 minutes he's holed up in Iwaizumi's room. He hogs the bed and pulls the blankets tight around his shoulders, nuzzling in the little fort he's made for himself. Iwaizumi sits cross legged across, not sure what to do. He's only aware that he's very sleepy and he needs to get enough rest if he's going to do decently on the test tomorrow.

"Hey-"

"Iwa-chan, can I make a selfish request?"

The words die in Iwaizumi's throat. It's one thing for Iwaizumi to call Oikawa selfish, but for his friend to acknowledge it as something 'selfish', it's a little worrying.

"Depends how selfish your 'selfish request' is."

Oikawa takes a deep breath and covers his face with the blanket. "Bwefenfuweinlubwihm."

Iwaizumi huffs, annoyed. He pulls the blanket off in one flourished movement to find Oikawa with a scarlet face. "I can't hear you, stupid. Repeat."

"Arghhhh. Pretendtobeinlovewithme," Oikawa gushes, his face turning a hue darker than it was just seconds ago.

Iwaizumi frowns before he throws the blanket on top of Oikawa. He's not sure if he's being mocked or if Oikawa's being serious, but it's silly and they're not in love(not really) and-

"Iwa-chan, please?"

"No. Go home."

The silence hangs between them before Oikawa sighs. He pulls off the blanket and starts to take off his shirt. Iwaizumi balks. "Why are you stripping?"

He struggles with Oikawa for a second, trying to stop his friend from becoming half naked right there and then. But Oikawa accidentally connects the heel of his palm with Iwaizumi's left eye and he flinches backwards, giving Oikawa ample time to pull off the piece of fabric.

"I've been numbered," Oikawa says simply once the shirt is off and Iwaizumi feels his chest stopper.

It happens to everyone, really. 50 days before you die, a number appears on your chest, about 3 centimeters below the left collar bone. A number print that times your remaining days, dwindling one by one until it hits zero.

Iwaizumi frowns because the number isn't even at 50 anymore, it's slipped passed the 40s and is now resting on 31.

"Don't shit on me, Oikawa," Iwaizumi hisses. "I know you've been spending time with that Art Club girl. She could've painted it on you."

"First of all, Mr. Smarty, I haven't been spending time with Satomi-chan. She's my lab partner and I was just returning her a pen I borrowed in lab. My 0.38 did a three sixty and fell flat on the nib when i was spinning it in class. It was my only pen."

"I care because?"

"Ugh, Iwa-chan. She's a nice girl, a little sad but very nice. Anyway the point is, I'm going to die. Will you grant me my dying wish or not?"

Iwaizumi identifies the childish whine in Oikawa's voice, feeling familiarity flood in. He feels more at ease though the 'I'm going to die part' still bothers him.

"Why me? You have the entire female population at your feet, why not go for one of them?"

Oikawa covers his face in distress, makes a loud keening noise.

"I won't be greedy," Oikawa pleads, quietly. "I won't ask for kisses, or sex, or flowers. I just... I only want to hold your hand. And to be with you. You just have to be you."

Iwaizumi knows he should say something but behind Oikawa, the neon numbers turn to 12:00 and the number on Oikawa's chest shifts. The 30 emblazoned is written in thick bands of black and it really hits Iwaizumi that Oikawa is going to die.

"Why?"

"B-Because I liked you since forever, in the romantic sense-"

"No, not that. Why? Why you? What did you do?"

Oikawa shrugs. "I dunno."

-

+30

-

Oikawa goes home that night, a little after 1am. The pact is simple, they don't have to do things that would make Iwaizumi too uncomfortable. There's only the occasional hand holding and cuddling - nothing too straining, nothing he can't handle.

In all honesty, the idea is foreign to Iwaizumi. He, who has never had a girlfriend, doesn't know how to deal with being romantic. He's aware of his sweaty palms and he's too much hard muscle and bones to be an ideal cuddling partner. But Oikawa's emotions had been so raw, his face burning crimson with shame and want , it isn't in Iwaizumi's heart to hurt him.

Saying yes had been too easy. It's always 'yes' when it comes to Oikawa. He's not sure why, but it just is.

Iwaizumi sighs into the blankets pulled around him. He smells Oikawa on the fabric; faintly cinnamon and apples. He curls into himself before shifting three times, body suddenly restless. In the end, he opts on face planting in his pillow and letting out a strangled yell. Sheer hours ago, he had been tired and sleepy, ready to wake up and take on a test.

Right now, he's convinced he wouldn't get a wink of sleep and he'll probably end up looking something akin to a panda the following day.

He's half part correct and half part wrong - he does get some sleep but he also still looks something like a panda.

-

+29.7

-

Oikawa is waiting outside the gates when Iwaizumi wakes up, hair disheveled and eye bags so huge, he's sure they could substitute for a cosmetics pouch.

When he leaves the house, Oikawa waves enthusiastically at him and Iwaizumi punches him in the arm.

Iwaizumi, who has not a single romantic bone in his body, doesn't know how to play the boyfriend role. So he embarrasses himself by extending his hand wordlessly.

"Yes, Iwa-chan?" Oikawa says behind a snicker.

"Your hand," Iwaizumi grunts. "Give me your hand."

He's swimming in three hours of sleep and his mind is hazy. He's spent all night thinking about how to go about this and this had been the best he could come up with. He sees Oikawa trying his best not to laugh, worrying his lips raw under his teeth.

"Stop laughing. I'm doing you a favour," he grumbles. He runs his other hand down his face. He can't do this, he's not made for this and-

He jumps when Oikawa's cold fingers settle against the flat of his palm. His heart does a dip and swing and he yanks his hand away from his face to look at Oikawa.

He's red. At this point, they're both red and Iwaizumi lets out an awkward laugh. He closes his fingers around Oikawa's.

"Thank you," Oikawa says quietly and Iwaizumi waves it off.

He can do this. For Oikawa, he can do it.

The entire walk to school, Iwaizumi's head is swimming on three hours of sleep and now a little drunk with the cold in his hands.

-

Iwaizumi knows he failed that paper. He just knows it because he's half dead from lack of sleep and there's the constant CLANK CLANK CLANK from the construction site next door. And then he's thinking about Oikawa's sunny smile and contrastingly cold fingers.

He's never thought about his best friend like that before but now that he has, his heart starts up this odd waltz in his chest and it's stuck somewhere between a pleasant feeling (something like home) and something high strung.

He just wants to go home so badly.

-

+28.8

-

Oikawa comes over with an extra duffel bag and reading glasses perched askew on his nose.

"What's that," Iwaizumi asks, apprehensively. Bringing his school bag is one thing, there's always homework to tear through and tests to study for but Oikawa has never, in the span of their entire 17 years of existence, brought an extra duffel bag to a stay over.

"This Iwa-chan," Oikawa smiles, saccharine sweet and honey coated. "is my collection of favourite DVD blu-rays which we are going to wholesomely sit through all night."

"No," Iwaizumi states. He peers at the odd rectangular shapes fitted tightly against the material of the duffel. It feels like one of those games where they stuff a bunch of jelly beans in a jar and they get you to guess how many there are inside. The duffel bag looks fit to bursting and he makes a sound in his throat." No."

"You said that twice," Oikawa pouts. The pout slips on so naturally as he pushes out his lower lip.

"Just- no." Iwaizumi rubs at his temples as a headache starts to bleed.

"Whyyyyyy."

"Do you know how much electricity that will burn?"

Oikawa makes a face before sniffling dramatically. "We could do it at my house but somebody was too lazy to come over even though we're just. Next. Door."

Iwaizumi reaches out and Oikawa tilts backwards, scrunching his eyes shut as he anticipates a smack to the head.

Iwaizumi sighs. The foyer offers some leverage and he's at just the right height to reach out and pinch Oikawa's cheeks, bruising them a soft pink.

He turns around and stalks off, picking up his work along the way before calling out to Oikawa," Are you just going to stand there all day?"

"Eh?" He hears Oikawa scrambling to pull his shoes off before slipping into the house slippers."Does that mean we're movie marathoning?"

-

Oikawa is more distracted than he usually is, doodling in the margins of his lined paper and folding paper boxes out of the scrap papers. He would have kept up the mindlessness had Iwaizumi not smacked him.

"But Iwa-chan, it's not like it matters anymore," Oikawa bemoans. He attacks Iwaizumi with the sharp tip of the paper crane he folded with one of the rough papers. "Since I'm going to kick the bucket soo-"

Iwaizumi hits him once more; this time harder. "Shut up or we're not watching anything tonight."

Oikawa shuts up for real.

-

There are too many DVDs and one night isn't going to be enough to steam engine through the entire selection. Iwaizumi reaches up and feels his eye bags - wonders if there's a chance they'll grow bigger and darker.

"Choose five," Iwaizumi says flatly. His family isn't in at the moment, so they get to hog the living room television instead of cramming up in his own room. Oikawa makes a mess already, with a blanket (Iwaizumi's) fort , pillows (also Iwaizumi's), popcorn (not really Iwaizumi's but definitely not Oikawa's) and a plush alien toy.

"Whattttt," Oikawa whines. There are five stacks of fives sitting around Oikawa, almost like a prayer circle. He looks at each stack in turn, chewing his lower lip in deep thought.

"Seven," Oikawa bargains.

"That's fourteen hours, dumbass. Do you want us to die?"

"Well, I-"

"Five," Iwaizumi reinstates, abruptly cutting him off. He grabs a fistful of popcorn and glares at Oikawa, trying to be intimidating while eating popcorn. A stray popcorn falls through the gaps in his fingers and Oikawa snorts.

"C'mon Iwa-chan, sevennnn."

"Five."

"Six?"

"Five."

"Pleaseeeeeeee."

"Five."

"Six and I'll let you have the popcorn."

"It's not even yours!"

Oikawa crawls into Iwaizumi's lap, hands supporting him as he peers up real close to Iwaizumi's face. Iwaizumi feels heat crawl up his face and he sees the slightly spit glistened lips of Oikawa's. It registers that he's staring, when Oikawa's lips curl around the word 'pleaseeeeeee'.

He pushes Oikawa down using his hands, until Oikawa's head falls onto his lap.

"Okay, okay. Some people don't know when to stop," Iwaizumi snorts. There's no bite in his voice and his words come out a little shaky and a little airy. It's fine because Oikawa doesn't notice as he whoops and starts sorting through the films.

"Okay, first of all, this is classic and we have to watch this. And then there's this one. Oh! This too," Oikawa prattles as he starts dividing his disk sets and mumbling to himself. It's almost endearing how much thought Oikawa puts into choosing his films. "and this- oh but this is a trilogy. It's good on its own but even better if you watch all three together. Hmm. What do you think, Hajime?"

Iwaizumi jerks out of his daydream trance and blinks as his name registers. Oikawa is smiling shyly, the kind he reserves for only those he keeps close. He feels his heart flare.

"A trilogy's good," he mumbles, before grabbing another fistful of popcorn and scoffing it down. He chokes on a flake and Oikawa laughs at him.

-

It's almost ridiculous how Oikawa is fast asleep after 4 films. He curls up into himself, head resting on Iwaizumi's lap, breathing slow and deep. Iwaizumi bites his lower lip and cards his fingers through soft locks that smell like his shampoo. Even in his sleep, Oikawa makes soft sighs of content. He looks so peaceful with hair framing his face in all the right places, Iwaizumi feels his heart squeeze.

The ending credits roll on the screen and Iwaizumi thinks it's probably the best idea to skip ahead and go to bed. Strangely enough, he doesn't feel sleepy. He knows he's going to regret it when he wakes up for morning practice, but that doesn't stop him as he reaches for the remote and rotates the player, loading up the next DVD.

The storyline is shit, but he tears through them in the next four hours, right hand constantly playing with Oikawa's hair and sighing every few minutes. He feels a bit sad and his chest hurts a lot.

-

+25.6

-

The spring tournament is near, so near but even then, Seijou does not practice on Mondays.

He follows Oikawa around after school, keeping him entertained while they wait for Takeru to end his volleyball classes.

"Iwa-chan," Oikawa says noncommittally. He swipes around his phone. "I've never tried potage before, have you? It looks so good."

He flashes his screen at Iwaizumi and Iwaizumi furrows his eyes. It looks like soup.

"You can get a tin of Campbell's at half the price," Iwaizumi says.

"Great, I knew you'd like it. Let's go get some later," Oikawa smiles. He completely disregards everything Iwaizumi had said. "I'm going to ask my sister if I can take Takeru out for a treat."

-

That's how they end up in a family diner, with Takeru helping himself to a huge glass of mango parfait while Oikawa excitedly bobs in his seat for his potage. Iwaizumi has to keep in his laughter when Takeru tells Oikawa off for jostling the table too much.

The potage finally comes and Oikawa peers into the bowl. He pulls at the bowl and then flinches in pain as the heat burns itself onto his fingertips.

He plucks a spoon out of the cutlery holder and dips it in, scooping out half a spoonful with steam billowing. He brings it to his lips and taste tests it before making a face.

"Tastes like potatoes."

-

There's half the potage left and Oikawa stirs it thoughtfully. Iwaizumi doesn't know what kind of super product the diner uses, but the potage is still hot. He's also a bit wary of Oikawa, because as all of Oikawa's requests go, they are usually unreasonable or really stupid. When Oikawa opens his mouth to speak, Iwaizumi's gut feeling does a twist and he is not disappointed.

"Can I feed you?" Oikawa grins. It's his signature shit eating grin, and Iwaizumi knows Oikawa is doing it to spite him. He's had years of training to know what comes with that all too knowing smile.

"No." Iwaizumi grunts. The routine is getting repetitive in the last few days. He feels his face heat up in embarrassment, he regrets all that this is already.

"Come onnnnnn."

There's the whiny insistence that he knows so well. He lifts his hands up and shoves at the right moment, palm meeting Oikawa's face at the perfect angle and Oikawa lets out a splutter of surprise. He's given the illusion that he's winning, when he sees Oikawa pouts and then he releases the spoon into the potage. He almost wins. If not for Takeru.

The boy stares at them from over his mango parfait with big beseeching eyes.

Iwaizumi curses inwardly; there's a problem with Oikawas and big brown eyes that look deplorable and also half threatening. Takeru licks at the spoon, smearing mango all over his lips.

"You're making Tooru sad, Uncle Hajime."

"He's a meanie," Oikawa pouts as he reaches for the napkin and gently dabs at his nephew's mouth. The action is tender and gentle and that's probably what does him in.

For the first time, the notion that Oikawa is dying hits him full force, sucking the breath out of him. He looks at Takeru who has no idea, and at Oikawa who has every inkling in the world. Right there and then, Iwaizumi's resolve cracks at the core and he caves in.

"Fine," he says. He knows he'll regret but seeing the vivacious light burst into life in the irises of Oikawa's eyes makes it worth it. Or at least Iwaizumi's convinced he's doing the right thing.

Oikawa is too enthusiastic when he picks up the spoon ladled with too much potage. The steam wafts out thickly and Iwaizumi cringes. The spoon is clearly overflowing but Oikawa doesn't seem to realize it because he drags the spoon away from the bowl, leaving a trail of splotches in its wake. Iwaizumi's ears are a fantastic shade of red at this point. He wants nothing more than the floor to swallow him up to oblivion.

His only saving grace is that things can't get any worse than it already has. So he downs his pride along with the complimentary cup of water and leans in for it.

As mentioned, Oikawa is too enthusiastic. And Iwaizumi is, for the best part, highly distressed and unwilling. So he's not so surprised when he has his teeth clenched all the way and Oikawa drives the spoon right against his pearly whites. There's a resounding 'clack' and the potage spills off the angled spoon and falls in thick, white dollops onto his school pants.

The three of them sit in stunned silence for awhile. Until Oikawa happens.

Oikawa makes a gagging noise as he tries not to laugh and Iwaizumi feels heat emanating from his groin. He doesn't want to look at the mess; he knows what it'll look like and he's not willing to let go of his last wisps of dignity.

He's ten shades darker than when it had started. He knows because he hears Takeru ask if he's still breathing. While it's probably not the brightest thing to do in Oikawa's book, the last string of resistance snaps and paroxysms of laughter erupts from his cherry mouth. Iwaizumi wants him dead (actually, maybe he'd rather be the dead one right now).

"Oikawa," he growls. He covers his face with his hands. It was a simple task. So simple to the point he managed to royally fuck it up. He doesn't know how he's going home or how he's going to continue living with this memory.

He's so grounded in his misery, he is taken by surprise when he feels something dabbing at his crotch. Iwaizumi rears back so fast, leaping off of his seat, heart beating up an erratic rhythm in his ribs. His self control all but flies out the window when he stutters out in a strangled yelp," OKAY, NO MORE TOUCHING PLEASE."

This time Oikawa makes an 'o' shape with his mouth and his eyes are wide with surprise.

The entire diner population has their eyes on him. There's a tap on his shoulder as he turns around to come face to face with a waitress.

Her face is red as she takes a glance over at his groin before shifting her eyes away. She clears her throat and says," Sir, this is a family restaurant. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave for your inappropriate displays in front of children."

Whatever remaining shreds of dignity is effectively whisked away from him and vapourizes into thin air.

-

He changes into his sports attire in the public restrooms in the nearby park, silently cursing his existence and not sure how much of Oikawa's silly games he can handle.

He exits the toilet with his soiled pants in a plastic bag, ready to beat the crap out of Oikawa when he stumbles onto what is probably supposed to be a private scene. Oikawa, bathed in orange hue from the setting sun, pulls his nephew into a tight hug. Iwaizumi sees the faint tremors that courses through Oikawa's body, a quake so silent he can't suppress it.

"Tooru, you're acting weird," Takeru says. He struggles out of Oikawa's hold but Oikawa only grips harder.

"Yeah," Oikawa hums in reply. "I am."

-

Oikawa holds Takeru's hand on the way home and doesn't let go. The sky is darkening, turning shades of red to purple and then navy and Iwaizumi thinks of the timer. That's one day less. He bumps shoulders with Oikawa, fingers gently brushing before he reaches out and twines their fingers.

Iwaizumi sees the surprise in Oikawa's eyes before he ducks his head and smiles shyly. His fingers curl against Iwaizumi's and Iwaizumi doesn't know if his heart has always been beating this strangely or if it's just the situation of things. He doesn't know when he got bold enough to take Oikawa's hand in his. It's only been, what, five days?

But at that very moment, Iwaizumi knows two things: 1. Oikawa is beautiful when bathed in moonlight and 2. For Oikawa, he would do anything.

-

+21.3

-

Training finishes a little earlier than usual and everyone has left except for the third year regulars. Hanamaki sits on the benches and fans himself with a hand. Iwaizumi tugs his shirt over his head, wiping down with a hand towel before reaching for his uniform.

"It's tomorrow, huh?" Matsukawa says. He sounds nonchalant about it, but everyone knows he's not planning on losing. None of them are. Iwaizumi swallows a lump in his throat - he knows Karasuno and he knows how they had to fight for their win the last time. He doesn't want to lose this time either, most of all, he wants Oikawa to go as far as he can before the timer hits zero.

He mentally slaps himself for that thought as Oikawa enters the room, plopping down right next to Hanamaki.

"Don't jinx it, Issei - ughhh, don'ttt."

Iwaizumi turns around to see Oikawa pulling Hanamaki in for a bear hug.

"Oikawaaaaa," Hanamaki chides," I'm sweaty and gross. You're sweaty and gross."

Oikawa laughs, chiming in the changing room and Matsukawa grins at them affectionately.

"I'm never gross, Makki!" Oikawa giggles, burrowing his face into the crook where Hanamaki's neck meets shoulder.

"Please don't wipe your sweat on my shirt," Hanamaki groans.

"I love you and I really appreciate you," comes Oikawa's unexpected reply. He unlatches from Hanamaki and the latter blinks, stunned. Oikawa turns around and makes grabby hands at Matsukawa. "I want a hug from Mattsun next."

Matsukawa indulges him. Matsukawa indulges everyone but they know he has a soft spot for their team meme and when Oikawa hugs him while seated, arms wrapped tightly around his waist, face buried against his stomach, Matsukawa pats him affectionately on the back. Oikawa tells him the same thing and Matsukawa replies with, " You've done well, captain."

Oikawa laughs. Loud and rambunctious. And also very broken. Trust Matsukawa to break something in him.

Iwaizumi knows he's not the only one who hears the unnatural strain in Oikawa's voice because Hanamaki ruffles Oikawa's hair and asks if he's okay. It's not like him to be this affectionate. And it's true; Oikawa may crave hugs and tackle people whenever he pleases, but it's not in his nature to just fling the word 'love' around so carelessly. They know he means it when he says it. Which makes the situation all the more perplexing, because it's a given - they didn't really have to spell it out for each other, did they?

Lost in thought, Iwaizumi doesn't anticipate what comes next. The contact makes him jump, startled.

The arms sling over his shoulder and crosses over his neck, Oikawa's chest pressed against his back. His heartbeat ramps up impossibly hard, and he can feel the pulse in his wrists. He doesn't remember when the room got so hot and he can feel the tips of his ears burning.

"I love you, Iwa-chan. And of course, I appreciate you too," Oikawa declares. That sing-song lilt and impossibly cheery tone is too close to his ear, and he feels Oikawa turn and nuzzle the back of his neck. He feels the smile pressed against his skin and he also feels his hands go clammy - he doesn't know what to do. He is too unskilled to handle the situation and this isn't something that had been part of the pact. He flounders a bit before opting for a 'shut up, dumbass'.

Oikawa stiffens visibly, but then he feels the smile plastered against his neck before Oikawa pulls away slowly.

His lips brush lightly against the shell of Iwaizumi's ear and he whispers a deft apology ("Sorry") before pulling away completely and declaring loudly, "As expected of Iwa-chan. Always such a brute."

And then he clicks his tongue before excusing himself to the toilet.

Only when the door swings shut behind him, do the others start to move.

"Is he really okay," Hanamaki asks quietly.

Iwaizumi shrugs. He doesn't trust his voice at the moment but he knows one thing: he's falling in love with a dead man if he hasn't already in the last 17 years.

-

+20.7

-

They win against Datekou. Everyone is euphoric and Oikawa tells them how proud he is.

Iwaizumi finds him in the changing room later, head buried into his hands. Off podium, Oikawa is just another student. He looks frightened but then there's also a fierce determination in his eyes. Iwaizumi presses a cold bottle of isotonic water against Oikawa's cheek.

"Don't worry," he says. "We got this."

Oikawa cracks a smile.

"Yeah," he says. It comes out in an airy whisper.

-

+19.4

-

They lose the match. Oikawa doesn't really cry. There are sniffles but his face is dead set and staring out the bus windows. Their fingers are loosely entwined.

Iwaizumi, on the other hand, weeps dreadfully. The tears come like a waterfall and he can't find the right taps to turn it off. Oikawa squeezes his hand occasionally; an act of comfort. It's almost ironic how Iwaizumi is supposed to be the one salvaging Oikawa's last few days but Oikawa seems to be doing all the saving.

-

+18.8

-

Oikawa doesn't go to school the following day.

He doesn't answer texts nor answer calls. Iwaizumi misses him.

-

+17.8

-

They don't talk about it the day after; where Oikawa's been or what he's been doing or about their loss. Hanamaki tackles him in the doorway and tells him off for being absent.

Oikawa laughs.

Everything is the same.

-

+15.6

-

He doesn't know what makes him so masochistic these days, but Iwaizumi thinks 'what the hell' as he sends in his text. He has an exam tomorrow and a class quiz. There's also some homework stashed somewhere in the bottom of his bag that's due sometime next week. He doesn't really care.

He tosses his phone onto his bed and waits.

Just as he predicts, the doorbell rings within ten minutes. He hears his mother open the door and the casual greeting between his mother and Oikawa. The exchange is short, Iwaizumi is timing it as he sits at the edge of his bed and stares at the clock. The stupid neon numbers.

He hears the telltale sound of Oikawa climbing the stairs and then the abrupt knock on his door before the door knob twists.

Oikawa's face pops in, split wide with a grin.

"Iwa-channnn~"

He pulls out his duffel bag proudly and then plops down on the floor next to Iwaizumi's legs.

"I thought you'd never ask!" Oikawa beams proudly. He undoes the draw string and starts pulling out the DVDs one after another. When was the first time he had seen that bag? Thirteen days ago? It feels like months already.

"I didn't think I'd ever ask either," Iwaizumi admits. He slides off the bed and sits down next to Oikawa. He picks up one the DVD cases and squints at it. "We watched this already."

It was stupid, but for some reason, Iwaizumi wants to see the rest of the movie collection that Oikawa has. He wants to memorise everything about the boy before he disappears into ashes. It hurts so much and he just wants to salvage everything. Time is slipping and he doesn't even get a say in this.

"Did we?" Oikawa frowns. "Strange... "

"Sorry, I made a mistake," Iwaizumi sighs. Keeping up the pretence is taking its toll and his own heart is in danger of stopping too. Life is so unfair. "I watched it. You, on the other hand, were too busy sleeping."

He reaches out and flicks Oikawa's forehead lightly.

"Ah, then-"

"I'm not watching it again," Iwaizumi intercepts. "It was bad. I don't know why I even finished it."

"You were hooked," Oikawa corrects, looking up from his array to childishly poke a tongue out at Iwaizumi.

"Was not. Stop arguing and start choosing."

There's a bit of silence and Iwaizumi lets his eyes fall shut. He basks under the soft sunlight that filters into his room and the familiar presence of Oikawa sitting next to him. His heart is lulled into a comfortable beat, but he knows it's ephemeral. He's falling in love a little too late (or maybe he's always been in love); everything is ten times more painful than it should be.

"Do you have homework to do, Iwa-chan?" Oikawa asks quietly. The silence shakes a little but the mood is still tender.

"No," he lies.

The sound of plastic knocking against each other stop. Iwaizumi cracks open an eyelid and looks at him.

"What."

"You don't have to do this," Oikawa smiles. His eyes are a bit glassy and his fingers are trembling. "Or I could come back another time. You look tired."

Iwaizumi wants to shake him so hard. He wants to yell at him, tell him there is no 'other time', they are fifteen days away from his death and that doesn't give them enough time to do anything. He bites back his emotions and swats at Oikawa's head without any force.

"Nah, I want this," Iwaizumi says. His voice is gentler than usual, Oikawa looks at him in awe. He mentally slaps himself - he doesn't need Oikawa to know it's affecting him too badly. He stands up and stretches. "I'm going to record every movie you watch and then write a memoir for all your fan girls. I'm going to let them know what shitty taste you have. And you know what else I'm going to do? I'm going to pee. I expect you to finish choosing by the time I get back."

He taps Oikawa on the head gently as he maneuvers around the idiot.

-

They manage all six movies in almost a single sitting and by the time they're done, it's a little past 2am. Oikawa stretches out and yawns, wide mouthed.

Iwaizumi pulls out the extra futon.

"Hey, Iwa-chan," Oikawa whispers. It's not like anyone can hear them but maybe it's just the magic of night time that makes everything quieter; makes even the noisy want to be quiet.

"Hmm? Help me with this, will you."

"Can I sleep with you in your bed tonight?"

The futon slips out of his grip and flops onto the floor with a graceless thud. Oikawa flinches at the sound. He's glad the lights are off because the his face is heating up and he knows he's only a few shades lighter than a beetroot.

"It's 2am Iwa-chan," Oikawa whines, " keep it down."

"If you would stop catching me off guard," Iwaizumi rasps. He is on the verge of losing his mind. He can feel it. The metaphorical cheese is sliding off the cracker and he's not going to be able to prevent it from falling over in time.

"Is that a no?"

He knows what face Oikawa is making even without looking. The kicked puppy look is something he has had to grow up with over years. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), it still has its effect on Iwaizumi.

"No."

He swipes a hand down his face.

"No no or no yes?"

He takes a deep breath. He knows Oikawa wants it - it's there in the hope that's brimming in his voice. But he'd be lying if he said he didn't want it too. "No yes."

-

He is too stiff in bed and Oikawa is laughing at him.

"Shut up," he hisses. There's no bite in his words.

"Don't worry," Oikawa says.

He's not worried though, he's just awkward. They haven't shared a bed since they were seven and he isn't even joking when he thinks that the bed is too small for two grown teenage boys to be sharing.

"I promised I won't ask for sex," Oikawa breathes softly against his collar bone. Iwaizumi's heart skips. He's not worried about that (he's not even worried at all - at least not worried about this matter) and he doesn't want Oikawa to misunderstand.

He curls his arms around Oikawa and pulls him in. They're pressed flat against each other, chest to chest, and he can feel Oikawa's heart beat skipping in his ribcage. He wonders if Oikawa can feel his too, and he wonders if Oikawa can figure it out.

Neither of them falls asleep immediately. At 3am, Iwaizumi is still awake. He knows because the neon numbers on his desk are laughing back at him.

He also knows Oikawa isn't asleep when he feels him tremble in his arms. There's a dampness that spreads out across the front of his shirt and Iwaizumi just holds on tighter. He doesn't want to let go, and he doesn't want the world to take this away.

-

+12.5

-

"I want to go to Karasuno," Oikawa declares and Matsukawa stares at him, eyebrows shooting up while Hanamaki's jaw drops in shock.

Iwaizumi smacks him.

"Okay first of all," Hanamaki says, " you can't just go around saying that. Second of all, I didn't know you were such a salty baby."

"Am not," Oikawa shoots back.

"Why go to Karasuno when you can go to Shiratorizawa?" Matsukawa jokes lightly but Oikawa huffs.

"Yeah, let's go there too," Oikawa says and this time everyone is speechless.

"Are you sick?" Hanamaki asks and on cue, Matsukawa tackles Oikawa into a vice hug from behind and then plants his hands firmly over Oikawa's forehead. After awhile, Matsukawa lets out periodic, static beeping noises and intones his diagnosis.

"No fever," Matsukawa says gravely.

"Concussion?" Hanamaki quips, panic rising in his voice. He raises three fingers in front of Oikawa. "How many?"

"Two," Oikawa plays along and Hanamaki pulls Oikawa into a hug, arms flying out to wrap around Oikawa's head as he cries crocodile tears.

"Oh my goodness, my poor baby," Hanamaki weeps. Oikawa giggles. Matsukawa ruffles his hair, and Hanamaki swings Oikawa out of Matsukawa's reach, sobbing a 'don't touch my fragile boy' before burrowing his face into Oikawa's tufts.

Iwaizumi swallows the lump in his throat. His mouth is sticky with emotion and he doesn't say a thing. How many more days until this cheap banter becomes nothing? He forgot to count.

-

They all make the trip to Karasuno together. The four of them get on the train, together and Oikawa is abuzz with excitement.

"Why are you guys here?" Iwaizumi asks bluntly, as Oikawa accidentally ribs him for the fifth time while Hanamaki tickles Oikawa from the other side.

"Someone doesn't want us invading in quality time," Matsukawa jibes and Iwaizumi feels his face heat again.

Oikawa ribs him again.

And Iwaizumi, annoyed, reaches out and takes Oikawa's hand (the one with the elbow that keeps ribbing him damn it) and openly slides their fingers together before closing around Oikawa's. He sticks out his tongue at Matsukawa.

Hanamaki gasps. "This is the most outrageous public display of affection ever. I'm calling the cops."

"Whatever," he says and then squeezes Oikawa's hand before tugging the boy over.

Oikawa laughs. "It's okay Makki, you know I still love you."

"Wow, that hurts," Matsukawa says.

"You too!" Oikawa chimes. He's too happy.

"Why does this guy get an "I love you" when I get a "you too"," Matsukawa grumbles good naturedly. He digs a finger into Hanamaki's side and the latter squawks.

Oikawa is shining and Iwaizumi knows that being surrounded by friends has made him very happy. In the end, he is as simple as it comes.

They all fall asleep on the way there, with Oikawa's head on Iwaizumi's shoulders. It's heavy with dreams.

-

Slipping into Karasuno is easy enough. Well, to be fair, they just walked through the gates and with the help of (a lot of) girls, they find their way stealthily to the gymnasium.

True enough, they find the one person Oikawa is looking for.

Kageyama is practicing serves alone, rallying one ball after the other across the net. Most balls stay in bounds with the minority of them going out bound. Occasionally, a ball flies with alarming speed and slices through the air in a swift motion and hits with a satisfying thud.

Oikawa claps his hands and Kageyama jerks backwards. His eyes go wider when he takes Oikawa in and the other three third years.

"Hiiiii," Hanamaki calls and Iwaizumi smacks him. He's doing a lot of smacking recently and he admits it's good practice for his spiking hand.

"We're not here to take you out, if you're worried about that," Matsukawa supplies.

Kageyama is not convinced.

"Don't worry," Iwaizumi says quietly and Kageyama's shoulders visibly slacken. They all look at Oikawa who had spent the last few minutes walking around the gym and inspecting the cart of balls.

"Uhm, Oikawa-san...?"

Oikawa deftly picks up a ball. He hits it against the floor to test the firmness before nodding to himself. Glancing at Kageyama, Oikawa smiles kindly. It's not the shit eating grin or the kind that comes together with snarky, sarcastic comments that Oikawa can dredge up from some dark core inside. It's the honest kind that betrays no second motive. "Let me teach you how to do a killer jump serve."

Kageyama's mouth hangs, he's surprised. To be fair, everyone is surprised. But none of the third years question him and neither does Kageyama, who is eager to learn and who was denied the chance back in his junior high days.

-

The other three sit around while Oikawa busies himself with Kageyama. It's all very strange, but no one talks about it. They wait for awhile, waiting for more people to show up. When they do, their reactions are more than amusing.

The bald guy asks for a fight first. Then the two short fries.

Iwaizumi picks up a stray ball and weights it in his hands.

They end up playing a three on three with the rest of the Karasuno team until Oikawa is finished. It's a little past 5.30pm when they decide to leave and everyone's worked up a healthy sweat since their loss. It feels like weeks ago, but they all know otherwise.

-

When they're about to leave, Kageyama stops Oikawa.

"Why come all the way here to help me?" he asks, and everyone crowds around (in a poor attempt to be discrete) because they're curious too. Oikawa laughs it off. "Why are you helping me instead of your own team?"

Oikawa clicks his tongue. "Wow. Rude, Tobio. "

He mulls over his answer for awhile and then he says," I'm not really worried about them. They'll pull through."

"You're worried for him?" The orange small fry pipes from the back, voice incredulous. His eyebrows are furrowed and confused.

"No," Oikawa says as he picks up his things by the door and joins them. "I'm just doing something that's been long overdue."

He waves them off and they leave the gymnasium.

"That was very noble of you," Iwaizumi compliments. The sky is turning orange; another day down.

"Eh? It's rare for Iwa-chan to compliment," Oikawa hums. He reaches out and gently nudges Iwaizumi's hand and Iwaizumi knows what to do. He closes his over Oikawa's.

His fingers are warm for the first time, a blistering remnant of their earlier training.

-

At the train station, they part.

Oikawa had spent a great deal of time looking at his phone and pursing his lips in deep thought.

"I think I'm going to Shiratorizawa after all," Oikawa says.

"Great lets go," Hanamaki says. Both he and Matsukawa had been strangely quiet ever since they had left Karasuno. There's a faint line of concern drawn across their features but Oikawa pretends not to notice.

"It's fine, I can handle this. It's, apparently, not too far from here," Oikawa says. He stands there and ponders for a bit before he pulls them in for a group hug.

"Thanks for coming today," he whispers.

They stay like that for a few minutes.

-

The train is too crowded and there are no seats. Iwaizumi loses his balance two times and steps on a woman's shoes three times. He's tired and the passing scenery is a bit lonely. His limbs feel heavy - everything is heavy. He just wants to sleep.

"Hey," Hanamaki says. His eyes are trained on the darkness outside and Iwaizumi swallows. "I know I asked this before, but is he okay?"

"Yeah," he lies. His voice comes out in a soft whisper. With so few days left, he can't pretend he, himself is okay anymore and he feels his eyes prick.

"It's not in his nature to do that on impulse," Matsukawa says. He's not implying that Oikawa is a terrible person, but it is common knowledge that Oikawa and Kageyama have issues between them.

"I know," Iwaizumi chokes. He's losing his composure, the strings unraveling. He worries his lower lip, trying to contain all his emotions inside. But half of him needs this respite - to spill out and come undone and to share the burden with someone.

"He's not okay, is he?" Hanamaki says.

He hates them for asking (but loves them for realizing) because everything turns mute and white then; the commuters' buzz turns into blind noise and he can't hear anything or see anything except for the scenery that keeps trundling past in quick colours. The tears come out.

"I'm sorry," he squeaks between contained sobs, and the tears are flowing so fast, dripping down his face and falling off the point of his chin. Matsukawa offers a tissue and he rubs at his eyes desperately.

-

+9.7

-

They go shopping because Oikawa whines, for over 200 minutes collectively, about Satomi-chan.

"She's sad and I want to give her something because I can't be there for her anymore" is what Oikawa says. And then he repeats it over and over and over and over until it's ringing in Iwaizumi's head and he knows there is no escaping this recording until they actually get something for her.

-

"Ohhh," Oikawa says, absolutely delighted. He picks up the sweet pink egg. "New flavour. Bubblegum!"

Iwaizumi peers over his shoulders and looks at the tray of eggs - or eos lipbalm. He points at the baby blue one. "That one has a nice colour."

"I already own that though," Oikawa says. He eyes longingly at the bubblegum, pursing his lips, weighting the lipbalm between his hands. It takes a while before he slides it back into place. "Nahhh."

Iwaizumi raises his eyebrows."Aren't you going to get it?"

Oikawa inclines his head to the side. "Why? There's no point."

"Yes there is. You should do whatever you want, what with all this." He makes a vague gesture with his hands and when Oikawa's expression remains the same, Iwaizumi gets even more exasperated.

"More like you shouldn't waste money on a dead man. Takeru could benefit from the amount I'd be saving," Oikawa says disinterestedly. He turns to go and wanders into the charms section and Iwaizumi feels irritation flare in the pit of his stomach. Even at this stage, Oikawa is still trying to be difficult (he's not, really, but Iwaizumi is just so desperate).

When Oikawa isn't looking and has wandered far enough, he swipes the bubblegum flavoured lip balm off the shelf and slides over to the cashier. He pulls out a wad of bills and pays appropriately as the cashier rings it up for him.

When he has it scanned and packed, receipt handed over, Iwaizumi leans over the counter.

"What's the criteria for a return or an exchange?"

The cashier smiles at him brilliantly, a practiced smile no doubt.

"You'll need the receipt and the product must be in perfect condition."

"Oh," he says.

When he leaves, he tears up the receipt and peels of the sticker seal. He pops it open and suppresses a laughter - the lipbalm looks like a lychee. It smells so sweet, something Oikawa would definitely like.

At this rate, Oikawa definitely can't return it but just for good measures, Iwaizumi swipes his thumb around the base of the lip balm, ensuring that there's a decent sized indent. It's gross and Oikawa would never put that near his mouth (probably) but it's okay because Oikawa wouldn't be able to wear it down to that level in the next few days.

Iwaizumi hates Oikawa for doing this to him. Or actually, he just really loves Oikawa. He's not even surprised at how easy the thought comes to him and how comfortable it settles in his mind. It makes his stomach upset.

-

He finds Oikawa waiting for him outside, face pulled into a pout.

"Where did you go," Oikawa whines. "I was looking for you. I called you seven times!"

That's a lie, though; Iwaizumi pulls out his phone from his back pocket and sees he has seventeen missed calls from Oikawa. He grimaces and stuffs his phone back into his pocket before shoving the lip balm to Oikawa.

At first, there's only confusion on his face and then realization dawns on him and his brown eyes widen.

"Iwa-chan," Oikawa stutters. He's exasperated and visibly upset. " Iwa-chan, no. Why. Oh my goodness, no. Iwa-chan."

"You have nine days to use it," he says. His voice is barely audible over the erratic beating of his heart.

"We have to return this-"

"You can't, I tore up the receipt."

Oikawa's left eye twitches and his breathing starts up a quicker pace. It's an internal battle Oikawa can't win because something hot and fiery flares in his eyes. It's burning and angry and Iwaizumi knows he's upset the boy because Oikawa opens his mouth and flat out yells. "I said I didn't want it!"

"I wanted to give it to you!" Iwaizumi counters. It's unintentional but his voice pitches and he's hissing in a pinched voice.

They glare at each other and Iwaizumi is so scared that he'll be the first to crack. He can feel the telltale pricks in his eyes and he knows - oh he knows - what's coming.

Lucky for him, Oikawa cries first. His eyes glaze over and suddenly they're dripping. Oikawa whips around and declares angrily (and loudly) , "Iwa-chan is so stupid. I want ice cream."

He watches as Oikawa wipes angrily at his eyes and storms off, and he also watches as Oikawa's hand clenches around the lip balm even more tightly. He has to stop and rub at his own eyes before he follows behind.

-

Oikawa buys ice cream but doesn't eat it. It melts in the cup and Iwaizumi sits there, just watching his feet.

"Sorry," Oikawa says. "Thank you."

-

Oikawa settles for a four leaf clover charm in the end.

They act like nothing happened, and this time Iwaizumi keeps their hands linked throughout the rest of their shopping trip. Oikawa's hand is cold and clammy, and for the first time ever, Iwaizumi wonders if he's scared.

The thing is, it's impossible not to be scared. Knowing you're going to die and knowing there's only a slim margin around it, it's impossible for people to sit there and just take it as it is.

He gives Oikawa's hand a squeeze. Oikawa looks at him, questions in his eyes. Iwaizumi wants to say something, but words fail him when he needs them the most and all he can manage is a reassuring smile.

I'm here, he wants to say. He doesn't.

-

+8.4

-

Iwaizumi waits around the corner listening to Oikawa as he hands over the clover charm to Satomi.

She isn't as gracious when it comes to accepting it. In fact, she rejects and tries to leave.

"Oikawa-san," Satomi snaps. "Please don't hit on me just because I'm an easy target!"

Iwaizumi feels pissed just listening, and he already knows he doesn't like Satomi. Even worse, he knows she's hurt Oikawa by saying that. He struggles to stay in his place.

"That's really not it." He hears Oikawa try to salvage the situation. "I just want to give you something to keep you going. No strings attached. I promise."

He hears a loud sound, and then the charm skitters down the hallway and lands by his feet. He can't contain himself anymore and he picks it up and rounds the corner.

They both turn to look at him.

"Ah! Iwa-chan you should've stayed-"

"He's harassing me!" Satomi cuts. Her accusation is sharp and Oikawa flinches.

"He's my boyfriend," Iwaizumi says. He's not so embarrassed about this now. His ears still turn pink and his heart does flip - but not in a bad way. "And he was whining all weekend about how he wanted to get something to help you. "

He dangles the charm in front of her. She looks like she's about to cry.

Iwaizumi still remembers the first thing Oikawa had said about her; she's nice but a little sad. And he can see it in the way her eyes droop a little at the corners and how she's constantly looking down and away.

The electricity in the atmosphere is tense when it shouldn't be. The charm is supposed to be a gift, not a harbinger of pain. Iwaizumi wants to shake her but for Oikawa's sake, he does not.

"It's okay if you don't want it," Oikawa says finally. "Let's go home, Iwa-chan."

They made as if to leave but she reaches out and takes it anyway.

"I'm sorry," she says to Iwaizumi and he blinks in surprise.

Oh.

"I know he's faithful," he replies. Oikawa is beaming next to him.

-

+3.9

-

Tooru: Iwa-chan~
Tooru: Hmm you're probably sleeping
Tooru: Iwa-chan, I didn't tell my parents. I don't think I will.

-

+0.2

-

Iwaizumi doesn't hear from Oikawa on the second last day of his life. Almost. He gets a text around 10.30pm, and from his bedroom window, he can see the lights in Oikawa's room.

Tooru: Iwa-chan~!
Hajime: What were you up to? You're strangely quiet today
Tooru: Hmmm
Tooru: I spent the day with my family :) We went to the aquarium today~
Tooru: My sister and Takeru were with us too ^^
Tooru: There's also this fish that looked a lot like you in the aquarium.
Tooru: [picture attached]

Iwaizumi downloads the file and he stares at this small puffer fish that is staring angrily back at him, black spots over its eyes working as makeshift eyebrows. He snorts. Only Oikawa would do something as stupid (endearing) as this. The reality of the situation is so obscure, anyone would have passed it off as a normal day.

The train of thoughts catch up again and he feels his chest constrict. Lately, it's all he can feel these days; pain and anguish. He breaths heavily through his mouth, trying to ease the knots inside him and settle his beating heart. But there's not enough oxygen in his lungs; it feels like suffocation.

His phone pings again.

Tooru: Hey, Iwa-chan
Hajime: ?
Tooru: I left something in your Physics textbook. Don't open it till I'm gone okay?

Iwaizumi glances to his desk. His Physics textbook sitting atop all his worksheets. Something like dread drops to the pit of his churning stomach. He's feeling all kinds of queasiness and illnesses, maybe he should just take the day off of school. The lump in his throat climbs up and he may or may not be close to hurling (he is very close).

Hajime: Yeah okay... Everything okay?
Tooru: I feel fine :) If not for the numbers, I wouldn't know I'd be dead by tomorrow :p
Hajime: Stop that. Go to bed early.
Hajime: It's going to be a tough day tomorrow.
Tooru: Okay~ I'll go to bed now then~
Hajime: Good night
Tooru: Night~ (。’▽’。)♡

Hajime chucks his phone to the side and watches as the lights go off in Oikawa's room. He's not trying to deceive himself anymore - he's aware that he's in long gone in love and he wishes he told Oikawa ahead of time. He wants to kick himself, break something; anything. The air is leaving his lungs and he feels so hopeless. He flings himself onto the bed and yells into the pillow, legs kicking at the air and arms thrashing in what probably looks like the most childish tantrum to ever come from someone his age.

Before he knows it though, he's sobbing - loud and gross. His only saving grace is the pillow that's muffling the sounds, and he half wishes the pillow could smother him to death.

He lies there for what feels like forever until his phone vibrates.

It's the group chat.

Takahiro: Good night~
Issei: Good night Oikawa v

Iwaizumi feels his gut clench. They probably guessed it at this point.

-

+0

-

Iwaizumi's phone vibrates once more at 3am.

Tooru: Thank you for everything! ੭•̀ω•́)੭̸*✩⁺˚

-

He doesn't get much sleep that night. He wakes up so tired, he has half the mind to stay home and sulk.

His mother comes in when he doesn't get out of bed after ten minutes and pulls the blanket off of him. She drags him bodily off the bed until he stumbles out in defeat.

-

Oikawa isn't at the front gates in the morning. His mother hasn't said anything. He can only assume he's okay.

He drags himself to school, feet listless and bag slung over his shoulders, one strap on, the other off. He doesn't want to live today. Or tomorrow. Everything feels heavy and it's probably worse for Oikawa.

-

It's 1pm and he's dying in math class. He feels sick and he just wants to douse himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. He's never felt so tired in life.

He's drifting in and out of sleep when a thunderous sound echoes through the school and Iwaizumi lifts his head, rudely awoken from his own despair. The first thing he thinks is that the construction from next door dropped another steel bar from the crane. But then the school fire alarm comes alive and shrieks bloody murder making Iwaizumi jerk in his seat. Because, this is it. This is probably it.

The announcement comes on.

The voice is infuriatingly calm as the order is issued. An explosion in Chemistry Lab 3, avoid the science block. Evacuate in a calm and orderly manner.

Iwaizumi's mind frays as the class scrambles out the door. The evacuation is anything but orderly and against his better judgment, he takes advantage of the turmoil to bolt out the door and head straight to the chemistry lab. His heart stutters and ricochets against his ribs and Iwaizumi feels the stinging in his eyes, a lump in his throat. Despite his many assurances, he's not ready for this.

He's not, he's not, he's not.

-

The chemistry lab is smoldering. Half the lab has caved in on itself, there's so much dust and smoke but no fire.

Iwaizumi trips over rubble, stumbling over his own feet even, in his frantic search. His heart is already in his mouth and the frustration makes him tear. It is unbidden, but an ugly whimper tears itself from his throat and he feels his limbs tremor as he picks apart small bits of rubble.

That's when he sees it, under a collapsed table - a small tuft of brown hair he's known so well - got to know even better over the last month. He scrambles forward, lurching over uneven ground and getting his feet stuck in between fallen concrete and plaster. There is glass everywhere; shattered test tubes and burettes - and if you look even closer, maybe a shattered heart.

Iwaizumi hooks his fingers under the table and heaves. The tears flow evenly now, and Iwaizumi doesn't hold back when he gasps and cries. He doesn't care for image anymore, and the veins in his muscles bulge as he overexerts them. Oikawa had always teased him about the strength of his arms, the amount of toned muscles he packed without really trying, and Iwaizumi is sorely disgusted with himself for not being able to pull off a single table when it matters the most.

It takes a while, but the table finally shifts an inch and Oikawa's face is finally in view.

Iwaizumi swallows when he takes in the sight. Oikawa's face is blackened from soot maybe, and there's blood everywhere. A deep gash stretching from his temple across his forehead but he looks so peaceful.

"Oikawa," Iwaizumi gasps. His voice wobbles; wet with tears and choked full of overflowing emotions. His chest constricts painfully again. "Oikawa, wake up."

Oikawa remains unmoving, and Iwaizumi nudges him gently. He shakes the small bit of shoulder in view, desperation clawing at him from inside.

"Tooru, please."

The tears rain and his vision blurs. He scrambles with the table, and heaves it further, red colouring his vision and tainting it with thick lenses of frustration. His arms throb with white pain and Iwaizumi is just so angry with himself. He lets out a roar before he heaves again, his sanity disappearing with the seconds.

"Iwa-chan, stop."

Iwaizumi freezes, his muscles slackening immediately and he looks at Oikawa, heart stopping in his chest. He abandons the table on Oikawa before he scrambles onto his hands and legs, and crawls closer to Oikawa. The glass dig into his skin and he's adding more blood to all the mix on the floor but it doesn't dampen the relief fluttering in his chest.

"Oikawa, don't leave me," Iwaizumi starts. There's snot running down his nose and he knows he's never had the right to call Oikawa an ugly crier because he isn't any better looking when it comes down to it. He reaches for Oikawa's hand and Oikawa hums faintly when their fingers brush.

"Do you think heaven is pretty Iwa-chan?"

"Don't. Don't say that."

"I'd like to think I'd be one of the best volleyball players in heaven, considering that neither Tobio or Ushiwaka would be there."

"Shut up," Iwaizumi says forcefully. His voice is gross and it wobbles pathetically. He grips Oikawa's fingers tightly, and Oikawa squeezes back slightly - probably all the energy he can muster. There's only soft breathing and Oikawa's eyes flutter open briefly.

"Iwa-chan, you can stop now. You don't have to pretend to be in love with me anymore. Thank you for playing along," his voice stutters at the end and Oikawa draws up a watery smile. " Even if we didn't win the Spring tournament and even if I have to go to the grave never beating Ushiwaka, you've made me very happy for the last 30 days of my life."

He coughs once and blood specks fly out of his mouth. The light in his eyes dim a little and he flutters them closed. Iwaizumi, can't find the words to say, feels his mouth go dry and throat so full of unsaid words, he doesn't know where to start.

"Hey Iwa,chan~"

Iwaizumi nods, incapable of forming coherent words. Instead, he makes this weird keening noise and the tears fall harder.

Oikawa sniffles. "Can-Can I make a last selfish request?"

Iwaizumi squeezes his hand. Yes, you can.

Oikawa understands.

"Can... Can you say 'I love you'?"

Iwaizumi's heart breaks then. It cracks and shatters and flakes around the corner as remorse grips him by the core and tightens it's hold. "Tooru, I love you, I love you, I love you. Please don't leave me. I'll hold your hand in public, I'll buy you flowers, kiss you every day - I-I- please don't leave me."

Iwaizumi's tongue grows lose and the words tumble out over and uncontrollably, chest heaving with the effort of trying to breathe, cry and talk at the same time. He hopes Oikawa knows he's being sincere, that this isn't the final act of a selfish request, because Iwaizumi only just realized how much he can't live without his troublesome neighbour; childhood friend; 'lover'.

"Oikawa, be my real boyfriend, so that I don't have to pretend to be in love anymore. Let's go to that university you've always wanted to go to. Let's join the varsity team, share a dorm, have sex, go to the Olympics ohmygod Oikawa, don't do this to me."

Oikawa laughs. His breathing is erratic and he sighs. "I'm glad Iwa-chan. This isn't such a bad way to go."

"Don't say that!"

"Okay~," Oikawa wheezes. His voice is airy, faint. Disappearing. "I'll just rest a bit until the paramedics come. I'm a little sleepy. I expect roses when I wake up."

Oikawa squeezes Iwaizumi's hand once more before he slackens his grip. He takes his last breath as his eyes shutter close for the last time and Iwaizumi starts bawling. The tears and snot are everywhere and Iwaizumi presses his lips against Oikawa's slack, cold ones. He tastes the bubblegum lip balm on them and he cries harder and harder until the paramedics arrive.

-

-??

-

The newspapers talk about the loss of a prodigy volleyball player.

It had been a suicide attempt. A girl named Satomi Hikaru. The situation is simple: she gets her hands on something reactive and illegal; and then blows it up in the labs.

It's ironic because she doesn't die. But Oikawa does, along with the two students who work at the lab bench behind her and the other two in front. Iwaizumi remembers Oikawa picking out the four leaf charm for her and this anger bubbles right from the bottom of his stomach and engulfs him whole.

He remembers her apology and he knows that she knew and that the 'sorry' had nothing to do with Oikawa being faithful to him or not.

Iwaizumi hates her with a passion. Nobody talks about it though. Not Hanamaki nor Matsukawa nor his family or Oikawa's family. Oikawa's sister moves to Tokyo after the funeral and the rest of the family becomes a bit of a recluse. Some mornings he finds Oikawa's mother in his kitchen along with his own mother.

No one feels more pain than a mother, so he retreats to his room and hides there until the sun sets.

In retrospect, it is a little strange. Iwaizumi is 90% sure that the five of them could've avoided their deaths had they actually spoke about it to each other. 5 people suddenly branded with a timer; it would have been easy enough to pick out a common foot hold for them and work their way to the fault and the eventual cause of their deaths.

Maybe.

Maybe not. The reality of things is that no one likes to talk about death.

Kageyama and Ushijima came to pay their respects.

-

-192

-

The letter falls out of his Physics textbook in his haste to leave the house. Staring up at him was a folded piece of white paper with neat handwriting. He recognizes that anywhere and can't believe he's forgotten. His breath catches in his throat as he picks it up with shaking hands.

He flips it open and a photograph falls out. There's young Oikawa crying and young Iwaizumi holding his hand. The tears are unbidden.

To Iwa-chan!

I don't really know how to write a letter... I didn't think I lived in an era where I needed to... But plans change I guess. It's okay. I'm okay.

I don't think there's much to tell you because you know everything about me. (It's almost stalker-level creepy, but I'll let it slide because you're my precious Iwa-chan ( ◞・౪・)) To be honest, I didn't think you'd really pretend to be my boyfriend for me, and I'm really happy you did ^^ Hmm, there's still about 15 days left but I'm confident you'll make me very happy.

Ahh. I don't really know what to say after all. Haha. It feels so surreal. I'm scared of dying. I really am. Ahh, hmm. But I guess some things you just can't change.

Thank you Iwa-chan :D I know I wasn't the easiest person to handle and I know I gave you more problems to add onto on top of your own. Thank you for being there for me all the time. I don't want it to get to your head so I'll just say it once: I'm glad you became my first ever friend; my best friend. (≖ ‿ ≖) Life had its disappointments, but with you by my side, I knew everything would be okay eventually :)

I'll just leave my favourite picture of us from when we were kids. Iwa-chan's always so strong and never cries :p It's okay to cry sometimes, you know? Well, that is all. Tata~ ( ̄▽ ̄)ノ

Iwaizumi folds the letter carefully and peers at the photo. His tears land big and heavy onto the film. Trust Oikawa to hurt him even after he's gone.

-

-365

-

Iwaizumi visits the grave with Hanamaki and Matsukawa. It's chilly for this time of the year, and Iwaizumi pulls his jacket tighter around him.

He lays the red roses on the grave.

"Hey," he says.