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it's bad enough we get along so well

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---

 

There is an inevitability in their relationship.

 

Despite being best friends, despite the very real and very serious feelings that Oikawa is certain are mutual between him and Iwaizumi, they’ve arrived at a branching point in their lives. This has never happened before; there is no precedent in Oikawa’s lived memory of not having Iwaizumi at his side for literally everything.

 

But Iwaizumi has made it clear that his path going forward doesn’t rest on volleyball, not the way that Oikawa’s does, which means that a choice is unavoidable. Iwaizumi or volleyball.

 

It isn’t even a choice that Oikawa can understand.

 

---

 

Two days after graduation, Oikawa goes to Tokyo with Hanamaki, Matsukawa, and Iwaizumi for their grad trip. There isn’t anyone else in the universe that Oikawa would want to do this with. As much as he adores his entire team, it’s these three who’ve held him up with their stubborn belief and steady hands against his back, there to carry him forward when his legs got too tired to walk and his heart got too tired to try. The third years, one, two, three, four, now technically about to be first years in different universities, scattered too far for Oikawa’s personal comfort.

 

It’s a time that’s impossible to enjoy without melancholy. Even on the shinkansen, with rich bentos to dig into and plush seats to stretch out in, Oikawa can’t quite relax.

 

“You’re being way too nice to me lately, Iwa-chan,” he teases, watching Iwaizumi transfer more pickles away from Oikawa’s bento and into his own. “You know I don’t hate them, you can just leave them.”

 

“And listen to you bitch about it the entire time?” Iwaizumi shoots back, face relaxed and not nearly as annoyed as his words would indicate.

 

Oikawa leans on their shared armrest, chin propped in his hand. “What am I going to do when you’re not around all the time to spoil me?”

 

“Maybe learn some life skills and not be shitty?” Iwaizumi grins at him and settles back into his seat, their faces really not very far apart. Oikawa huffs a soft breath of laughter, helplessly leaning in.

 

“What if I fall into a deep depression and die?”

 

“Then we’ll all have suffered a great loss of someone barely functional as a contributing member of society.”

 

“Oh my god, so mean, don’t pretend like you wouldn’t cry at my funeral. You better ugly-cry, Iwa-chan!!”

 

“You guys flirt so weird,” Hanamaki points out flatly, looking at a nodding Matsukawa beside him. “It’s totally gotten worse ever since we lost to Karasuno all those months ago, right?”

 

They’re seated in a set of four, facing each other. Oikawa had gotten his way for the window seat without having had to ask. Like he said, Iwaizumi’s been stupid good to him lately, and it actually sets his teeth on edge.

 

“Nope, can’t talk about it,” Oikawa objects immediately, “eyes to the future, boys!” As much as Oikawa dwells, and he does, he doesn’t like it when he actually witnesses it in others. It reminds him of his own weaknesses too much. In the end, it’s always just a battle with yourself.

 

Iwaizumi reaches over and bops him on the head, but it’s too gentle to be called getting hit. It definitely feels more like Iwaizumi pulling his fingers through the curling strands of hair at the base of his neck. Oikawa sighs, sinks deeper into his seat, bento mostly untouched.

 

---

 

They stay in two separate rooms at Hanamaki and Matsukawa’s grinning insistence, though Oikawa doesn’t actually care. It’s meant to be teasing but there’s too much fond knowing and painful encouragement even in their teasing. Oikawa wishes sharing a hotel room with Iwaizumi could actually be the way everyone around them apparently wants them to be, but there’s some sort of unspoken understanding between them that an inch would immediately become a mile, and they don’t have that much runway in their lives to mindlessly fly down.

 

Well, maybe that’s just Oikawa. He has too much ambition to contain in a small life in a small town in a small country. He loves Japan, of course he does! But his dreams are bigger than that, he has places to go. The world is a big place with big places to see, and he’s going to be the best in the world at volleyball; it is only a consideration of time, and the sacrifices he’s willing to make during.

 

Oikawa stares at Iwaizumi’s turned back, in the bed just a few steps away. A part of him had hoped with shameful desperation that the hotel would tell them at check-in about a mix-up, some sort of computer error, and the only free room was a single queen bed, you’ll have to share, sorry about that. And then Oikawa could’ve magnanimously waved away their apologies as he led Iwaizumi to their shared room, and they would be sleeping together now, like they were 14 again, those uncomfortably intimate winter nights stretching so long and far into Oikawa’s memory.

 

Four days, three nights of sleeping at Iwaizumi’s side. Wouldn’t that be as good an ending as any?

 

---

 

At the top observation deck in Skytree, Oikawa looks out over Tokyo’s tight urban sprawl and remembers the open, green mountains that his and Iwaizumi’s families went to hide away in for a ryokan retreat.

 

Oikawa’s knee had been acting up two years ago, it was winter, everyone was stressed from work, so it had been a good escape. He doesn’t remember the last time they had a family trip without Iwaizumi’s family or at least Iwaizumi with him. The ryokan had been beautiful, vast and new, but polished with history. They went to the onsen so many times that Iwaizumi had gotten lightheaded and had to lie down for a while in the rest lounge, but Oikawa remembers how they’d talked about nothing all night, Iwaizumi’s head pillowed on his thighs, and his knee hadn’t hurt the entire trip.

 

“Want a cheesy photo?” Iwaizumi asks, breaking into his thoughts.

 

“You want a memento of me, hmm?” Oikawa drawls, turning away from the cityscape to lean against the railing, taking his best friend in. He’s not particularly thirsty but seeing Iwaizumi is like finding ice water after a week in the desert. Oh, how Oikawa wishes he could stop feeling like that.

 

Iwaizumi doesn’t scowl at him like he usually would, instead rolling his eyes, no protest at his lips. His eyes are heavy and assessing, dark with affection that makes Oikawa swallow, throat dry and tight. “Hey Hanamaki, come help us take a picture!”

 

Oikawa looks at him. He doesn’t know how not to look at him, the situation exacerbated so much more by his personal decision for this to be the end. He’ll never not have Iwaizumi in his life, that much is certain, but it’s also not fair to ask him to wait or live on maybes, and who knows, maybe they’ll both meet new people and this will just seem like a fond childhood memory one day. Oikawa doesn’t quite believe that, he’s never known anything else, but he has to hope for his own sake that there is another life for him to learn and breathe and love, even if Iwaizumi will always live in the warmest part of his heart.

 

Iwaizumi pulls him close with an arm around his waist and Oikawa tips his head over onto Iwaizumi’s shoulder, lazily smiling into the phone camera.

 

“Try looking more like a couple, I just dare you,” Hanamaki teases, laughing at the blush that crawls across Oikawa’s unmoving expression. “Yeah, yeah, this is how you guys always are, I know already!”

 

---

 

They pack their schedules with landmarks they usually only see on TV, distantly hopeful they’ll catch a celebrity somewhere.

 

Oikawa can barely contain himself in Disneyland, surrounded by toys and candy that pretty much express his soul on an existential level, and Iwaizumi takes another whole catalog of photos with him.

 

In the claustrophobic bustle of Tsukiji market, Oikawa stuffs his face with steaming, saucy squid, and Iwaizumi thumbs away the sauce smeared on the corner of his mouth with a smile that makes him ache.

 

Between two nightclubs in the back streets of Shibuya, dirtier than any place that Oikawa has ever seen in Japan, Hanamaki points out all the love hotels and cracks up, amused by the gaudy signage and cheesy names. Oikawa’s laughter dies in his throat when he looks at Iwaizumi, who’s looking at him, and he suddenly wants to be anywhere else, or just alone with Iwaizumi.

 

Squished into the back corner of a doujin store in Ikebukuro, Oikawa covers his face, blushing and giggling deliriously at all of the suggestive books around them. He keeps peeking between his fingers at the vast selection of boys love stacked row on row for aisles and aisles, muffling his embarrassed laughter into Iwaizumi’s shoulder as girls mill past them with appraising curiosity. “Sports anime, not even once,” Iwaizumi chokes out, red to the roots of his hair, and Oikawa can’t help that he hugs him from behind, not minding so much that Matsukawa has found a rather explicit doujin cover of two characters in the exact same pose as them and is waving it in their direction from across the store.

 

Wandering the streets of Roppongi at night, Oikawa gets scouted by yet another modeling agency to come work for them, and rather than wait for the pitch to finish like every other time, Iwaizumi grabs his hand and drags him away. Hanamaki snickers and teases Oikawa the rest of the night for being so attractive and Oikawa bickers with him gamely, but most of his attention is focused on Iwaizumi holding his hand with no indication of letting go.

 

He’s going to live here soon for school. He’ll be on the volleyball team at Chuo, in the company of international-level giants like Ishikawa Yuuki, maybe even set to him and pick up a few pointers on how to balance taking care of his knees while still ruling the court. Tokyo will eventually be just another city, just another home. But for now, a city has never felt more special, because it’s still all fresh memories, full of sweetness and warmth.

 

On their last day, Hanamaki and Matsukawa split off to do their own thing, something about a stage play they had to ballot for tickets for nearly six months ahead of time. Oikawa happily spends the day with Iwaizumi, circling the base of Tokyo Tower, getting despairingly lost in Shinjuku station, eating unhealthy street food in front of Sensoji Temple. Iwaizumi’s been more talkative the last few months, just talking about nothing of his own volition. It’s usually the opposite but Oikawa has been growing quieter and quieter, so it’s necessary to keep balance. That’s just how it is when Oikawa’s upset--he retreats inward and Iwaizumi reaches out to pull him back.

 

They watch sunset on a bridge overlooking the Sumida River, elbows rested against the railing, side by side. The sky is a bright canvas of pink and orange; helplessly romantic.

 

“I hear the summer fireworks here are incredible,” Iwaizumi says, watching a boat slowly drifting past them below.

 

“Hm,” Oikawa replies, just a hum of acknowledgment.

 

“I can’t remember the last time we had the time to watch a sunset.”

 

“Maybe a few summers ago?”

 

“It’s really cold for March, isn’t it?” Iwaizumi says, turning to face him. “You should zip up your jacket.”

 

“I’m not that cold.”

 

“Your mom will yell at me if you go home sick.”

 

Oikawa wordlessly straightens to zip up his jacket. “You’re so doting, Iwa-chan.”

 

“I love you.”

 

Oikawa’s hands freeze. He thinks he must have hallucinated it, he begs and pleads to all the deities in the universe that it was just a hallucination, because he can’t bear to face this. He didn’t think Iwaizumi would ever actually say anything, it’s not fair for him to put it out in the open, they had an unspoken agreement, and Oikawa isn’t strong enough to be the bad guy in this fairytale. He wants happy endings! He only cares for happy endings!

 

Eyes round, mouth set in an uneven line, Oikawa slowly lifts his face, all the breath punched from his chest when he sees the expression Iwaizumi is wearing.

 

He knows what I’m going to say already, he already knew.

 

“I’m in love with you,” Iwaizumi says, a kind, unbothered smile on his face. It’s rare to see anything that gentle coming from Iwaizumi and it burns the back of his throat to see it now, given to him so freely, without expectation of anything.

 

But maybe that’s what love really means.

 

Oikawa opens his mouth, wanting to say his name, but nothing comes out. The backs of his eyes sting and he blinks furiously, refusing to cry. It doesn’t make it any easier to breathe or think but Oikawa thinks he owes Iwaizumi at least this much.

 

“It’s okay, Oikawa,” Iwaizumi says, speaking to him so gently. Maybe he thinks Oikawa will get spooked and run away. He normally wouldn’t be wrong, but after these past few months, after facing the reality of this part of their lives coming to an end, after envisioning over and over and going through every possible combination of choices he could make where he and Iwaizumi could be together, Oikawa already knew this was inevitable. He just never expected, he just never thought that Iwaizumi would really say it out loud, make it permanent and solid between them. It’s less an open secret and more of a glaring fact now, isn’t it?

 

“Mm,” Oikawa utters uncertainly, throat clicking. He swallows, the dry stick only adding to his misery.

 

“I wanted to say it, tell you properly,” Iwaizumi continues. Oikawa can’t look away from him. “And I hoped you could reject me cleanly, let me finish this and get it out of my system and get over you.”

 

Oikawa closes his eyes, something inside of him shrivelling. No, absolutely not! There is no getting over him, not for Iwaizumi! He absolutely will allow no such thing, Iwaizumi really ought to know better. Oikawa does not let go of the things he cares about, he never, ever gives a single inch, and his ace should know that best about him!

 

Taking a deep, deep breath, Oikawa makes an attempt at a smile, hoping Iwaizumi can’t tell how much he’s struggling. “Mm,” he manages to say again, closer to a whimper, and by Iwaizumi’s minute flinch, he can tell they both heard the way his voice is shaking. “Okay. Alright.”

 

A light breeze passes silently between them and Oikawa hugs himself tighter, willing the words to come. Minutes tick by. Maybe it’s kindness, maybe it’s cruelty that keeps Iwaizumi patiently waiting for him. A world away, the sun dips below the horizon, and the pinks and oranges fade to deep, dark bruises.

 

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa chokes out, clawing for each syllable to drag them out of his mouth. His entire body is resisting this, the urge to turn and run suddenly overwhelming, but Oikawa steels himself and takes another breath. “I can’t be with you.”

 

Iwaizumi exhales, his warm breath a white puff that quickly dissipates into the night air. Oikawa wants to disappear, exactly like that.

 

“Okay. Alright, okay,” Iwaizumi says, streetlights illuminating the understanding smile on his face. “That was pretty refreshing, actually!” He sighs, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Thank you, Tooru. But we’re always going to be friends, alright?” He doesn’t wait for Oikawa to reply, not that Oikawa could. “I’m gonna head back to the hotel first so just take your time.”

 

He turns and walks away, a carefree wave in the air, like he hasn’t just yanked the rug out from under Oikawa’s feet, upending his entire life. Oikawa watches him with helplessness, desperate to go after him, tell him what he really wants, but there’s no point. Iwaizumi did that for Oikawa’s sake. He hadn’t asked for anything except a broken heart, so Oikawa wouldn’t have to choose. Iwaizumi Hajime, his Iwa-chan, always looking out for him, always so warm, always so there, now freely choosing instead to be away.

 

In the distance, Oikawa watches Hajime’s back grow smaller, fists clenched tight at his sides.

 

---

 

Ten past midnight, Oikawa slips back into their hotel room, so heartsore he can no longer believe that anyone could have the courage to choose to fall in love. It’s dark and Iwaizumi is already in bed but Oikawa doesn’t believe for a second that he’s asleep.

 

This exhaustion is on a deeper level he can’t reach, something self-inflicted he’s never dealt with before. Not with Kageyama, not with Shiratorizawa, not even with his own limitations. He silently changes into his fuzzy fleece pajamas and slips into Iwaizumi’s bed, in some measure of denial and needfulness.

 

Pressed up against him, arms snaked around Iwaizumi’s middle, Oikawa buries his face in the back of Iwaizumi’s shirt and soundlessly finds out he isn’t all cried out after all. It’s unfair and cruel of him, he knows that, but Iwaizumi is rooted down to the marrow of his bones.

 

Gently, Iwaizumi lays a warm hand on the back of his wrist, thumb brushing his skin in comforting rhythm until Oikawa falls asleep.

 

---

 

“Something happened,” Hanamaki says, not even a question of what. Oikawa’s eyes are so red-rimmed, slightly swollen. The last time Hanamaki remembers him like this was probably...probably Shiratorizawa.

 

Oikawa smiles, lowering his eyes. “It’s the end of an era,” he says quietly, looking past his friend to where Iwaizumi and Matsukawa are once again debating which bentos to get for their shinkansen ride home. “I guess it feels like giving everything up for the future.”

 

Hanamaki sighs. Looks like staying in separate rooms did work, even though the results weren’t what he expected.

 

“Hey Shittykawa, they only had ones with a bunch of pickles,” Iwaizumi announces, returning with an armful of food. “I don’t want to hear any complaining so just eat them, okay?”

 

Hanamaki silently regards the puffiness of Iwaizumi’s eyes as well, worry niggling at him.

 

“Iwa-chan!! Are you bullying me!?” Oikawa whines, without any real heat, and when Hanamaki looks at him, he immediately looks away, unable to stand the desperate, miserable longing he sees on his ex-captain’s face.

 

---

 

Just because he can be selfless, doesn’t mean Iwaizumi isn’t impatient, demanding, and selfish. He’s gone over every possible pattern of choices where he could imagine being with Oikawa but none of them had been fair.

 

He knows all he has to do is ask. All he really has to do is tell Oikawa that he wants to stay together, that he wants to have a life with him, and Oikawa would singlemindedly oblige him at the cost of his own ambition, of his own fulfillment outside of Iwaizumi. What kind of love is that, to cage a bird that’s meant to fly? Iwaizumi has nothing more to offer Oikawa in potential, or opportunity, or talent, or even location. He’s staying in Miyagi for school and he doesn’t need Oikawa crippling his own future for the sake of having him around.

 

It’s going to be weird, flicking on the TV and seeing Oikawa’s face. It will be terrible and Iwaizumi will be so proud. Iwaizumi wonders how jilted ex-lovers of celebrities must feel. That is also inevitability; Iwaizumi has never believed in anything but greatness in Oikawa, and won’t be the one that holds him back.

 

---

 

Once a week, Oikawa and Iwaizumi talk on the phone, typically on a Friday night, nothing perfunctory about it. He needs it as much as he wants it, the little updates, the sound of Iwaizumi’s voice, the rare, fleeting snatches of his laughter that fill Oikawa’s chest until he is sure his ribs will crack.

 

Although it had predictably been awkward at first, Oikawa is too stubborn to let that sort of thing get in the way. Heartbreak may be new but it’s not like he and Iwaizumi haven’t fought and been awkward before, and even in the midst of cold wars, like that time they were 12 and hadn’t spoken for nearly four days over a dispute about aliens, Oikawa had still seen him every day, happily and angrily sharing popsicles in total silence in Iwaizumi’s kitchen. Needs don’t go away when they’re left unfulfilled so Oikawa doesn’t even try lying to himself about it.

 

“I got your package today, by the way,” Oikawa says, wincing as he stretches out his legs on his living room floor. His apartment is modest and tidy, furnished very lightly in order to leave space for stretching and the occasional yoga routine. “Was it you or my mom that put in that bottle of soy sauce?”

 

Iwaizumi laughs over the line and Oikawa closes his eyes, his grip tightening on his phone. Iwaizumi sounds near, his voice so clear, and Oikawa shivers, almost able to feel the heat of his laughter against the side of his neck. “Do you think I’d be packing bottles of soy sauce for you, Trashkawa? Like you actually cook for yourself?”

 

“I’ll have you know I’m actually perfectly decent at cooking, but I just--”

 

“Yeah, yeah, choose not to in the interest of time,” Iwaizumi finishes for him. “You haven’t been training too hard, right?”

 

“No,” Oikawa lies, massaging his knee.

 

“Liar.” Iwaizumi doesn’t push, though, and that’s a new development that Oikawa will never get used to or come to not hate. Maybe Iwaizumi thinks there’s a line between them now, something like distance, but Oikawa hates that.

 

“What about you, Iwa-chan? How’s school and everything now that you’re more settled in?” Oikawa doesn’t want them to lapse into awkward silence again. “Actually, are you even able to make new friends with that terrible personality of yours? I mean, here you are, calling me on a Friday night, clearly with nothing better to do!”

 

“Look who’s talking, Mr. I’m Going to Marry a Volleyball and Have Babies that are also Volleyballs!”

 

“That was so lame, oh my god!! Iwa-chan, please read a book and expand your vocabulary!?”

 

Iwaizumi groans into the phone and Oikawa flops onto his back, smiling up at the ceiling. “Well, actually,” Iwaizumi says, and something halting in his voice makes Oikawa freeze. “Can we reschedule our call next Friday? I um...a couple of classmates have asked me to come to a dinner with them.”

 

“A dinner,” Oikawa repeats, voice flat.

 

“A mixer,” Iwaizumi amends, though there should be no reason for him to sound guilty. Why would there be? He asked Oikawa to reject him so they could both move on with their lives and that’s exactly what they’re doing. It’s almost seven months out from that, there’s no reason for him to not meet new people, and he’s such a catch, it would be such a damn shame for all that vibrant youth to go to waste and be unappreciated just because of Oikawa’s inability to really let him go.

 

“Oh,” Oikawa says, hating himself for not making it sound brighter. It’s a damn phone call, he doesn’t even need to look happy. “Are you going with a lot of people?”

 

Iwaizumi hesitates over the phone and Oikawa sits straight up, his fingers twisted in his hoodie. “Just Naoya and Hiroshi and three of Hiroshi’s friends from another school,” Iwaizumi eventually says, and Oikawa hums, hoping it sounds genuinely neutral. Friends? He means girls.

 

“It’s no worries, Iwa-chan! I hope they’re pretty~ but you know no one will be prettier than me, right?”

 

Iwaizumi pauses again and Oikawa hugs his knees to his chest, hiding his face away. How shameful. It’s not a joke if no one’s laughing, it isn’t funny if he’s being serious.

 

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi concedes quietly, “I guess you set the bar pretty high.”

 

“Iwa-chan, I’m sorry,” Oikawa forces himself to say, shaky, embarrassed laugh following. “I hope you have a great time, really. Um, I have to go, gotta put away that soy sauce you sent me! Don’t make that angry face with the girls, you’re best when you smile!”

 

---

 

On Friday night, bones aching and legs trembling from overexertion from practice, Oikawa sits out on his balcony with phone in hand, wrapped up in the thickest blanket he owns. It’s getting cold at night these days but the stars are wonderful this time of year, when it gets dark earlier and earlier.

 

Half past nine, his phone rings, Iwa-chan lit up on his screen.

 

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa answers, breathless with regret and unabashed relief.

 

“I had to step out for a bit,” Iwaizumi offers, like Oikawa even needed an excuse, “just wanted to see how you’re doing.”

 

“It’s a really nice night in Tokyo,” he says, “can you see the stars in Miyagi?”

 

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi replies, as talkative as ever.

 

For a while, they just breathe, almost like they’re sharing the same space again. It occurs to Oikawa how unhealthy this is, to hang on despite promising to let go, demanding so much patience from Iwaizumi when Oikawa himself can’t offer up enough of his time. “You should get back to dinner, they must be waiting,” he says. He wonders if it sounds convincing.

 

“That’s alright. I wanted to talk to you.” Iwaizumi’s voice is steady and warm and Oikawa doesn’t try to convince him a second time. He isn’t that generous.

 

They don’t hang up until closer to eleven and Oikawa drops into bed immediately after. He falls asleep almost instantly and remembers none of his dreams, but it’s the best sleep he’s had this past week.

 

He also doesn’t hear about mixers ever again after that.

 

---

 

Halfway into his second year in university, Iwaizumi comes over to visit for a week of summer holidays. They’ve obviously seen each other during new year’s at home and they occasionally even skype each other, but it’s the first time they’ll be spending the night together since high school, and since it’ll be in Oikawa’s apartment, he can’t help that he’s nervous.

 

He thinks he might be having a panic attack as he waits at the train station, he thinks he might throw up, he thinks Iwaizumi might incomprehensibly show up with a girlfriend on his arm, but none of those things stay with him the second he actually sees his best friend.

 

“Iwa-chan!!” Oikawa nearly screams, and Iwaizumi scowls at him as much as he’s trying not to smile, half-jogging in his direction. They weave around a sweaty throng of commuters packed in Tokyo station, cranky from all the inconvenient detours due to construction for the 2020 Olympic games. Oikawa nearly kicks a small child in the face as he slams into Iwaizumi for a hug and he lets Iwaizumi struggle-bow to the poor kid’s mother in apology, just laughing and relieved and completely helpless to how loud his heart is pounding in his ears.

 

Do people fall out of love just because they wish for it? Because if so, Oikawa could use a lot of help with following through on wishes he doesn’t mean.

 

---

 

“And that’s your toothbrush,” Oikawa finishes in a flourish in the bathroom, hands proudly settled on his hips. It only took 23 minutes to show Iwaizumi everything and he doesn’t even mind that Iwaizumi has his face buried in his palm, clearly not listening anymore.

 

“Shittykawa, I swear to god, have you not had human contact in two years?”

 

“Rude, I just haven’t had any guests stay over. Be proud you’re the first.”

 

Iwaizumi looks at him, surprise written all over his face. “You’ve never had anyone over? Are you serious?”

 

Oikawa defensively crosses his arms, pouting. “What, I can’t value my personal space?”

 

“No, I just thought--” Iwaizumi stops, and Oikawa suddenly understands what he means.

 

He shifts immediately, awkwardly grabbing onto an elbow. He doesn’t know why but it makes him feel awful to think that Iwaizumi thinks he would. Why wouldn’t he, though? He’s a young, red-blooded man, he lives alone, he’s attractive, he’s available in all the ways he could be on paper.

 

Does this mean that Iwaizumi has been over to other people’s places to spend the night? Oikawa cautiously approaches the idea in his mind, afraid of his own reaction. He’s never actually given it any thought.

 

“It’s okay that you haven’t had any guests,” Iwaizumi says cleanly, almost insistent. His face is open and bright, surprised. He lays a hand on Oikawa’s arm and the heat of it turns Oikawa’s stomach into knots.

 

“I wanted you to be first,” Oikawa says quietly, eyes on his toes, and Iwaizumi helplessly pulls him into a hug. Like you have been for everything else.

 

Oikawa doesn’t even know what he means by that anymore.

 

---

 

Contrary to Oikawa’s assumptions and half-baked plans about what they should do together, Iwaizumi insists on going to the local supermarket to get some groceries and make dinner at home. Oikawa has no problem with it, he just can’t understand why Iwaizumi is so set on the idea.

 

He ends up doing most of the cooking, probably punishment for boasting over the phone that he’s not so bad at it.

 

Iwaizumi keeps looking at him over dinner. Oikawa doesn’t check, he can hardly look Iwaizumi in the face considering they’re sitting side by side on the couch, but he can sense it, he can feel the weight of Iwaizumi’s gaze on him. Oikawa manages to choke down enough food for Iwaizumi to deem that it’s enough, and then he spends the rest of the night loitering around the living room, sitting on top of the futon he’s laid out for Iwaizumi.

 

“Not tired?” Iwaizumi asks him. He reaches out and brushes Oikawa’s stubborn fringe to the side, a futile effort since they immediately bounce back into place.

 

Oikawa makes an embarrassing noise in the back of his throat. “Just happy that you’re here,” he admits, face burning.

 

This is no good. As unfair as Oikawa knows he’s been, Iwaizumi isn’t exactly pulling punches to make this easy. Surely, Iwaizumi knows full well how Oikawa feels about him, always has since they were children. So why is he being so kind still, so affectionate in a way that Iwaizumi never used to be? Hope is the worst delusion to have burning in his chest.

 

“Are you tired, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa poses, “are you still hungry? I hope dinner was alright.” He couldn’t actually taste anything except cardboard.

 

“It was good,” Iwaizumi replies, that trademark refreshing honesty. He’s thankfully rearranging his pillow so doesn’t see Oikawa’s face flush with pleasure and embarrassment. “I do think I’ll go to bed though, I know Miyagi’s not too far but I’m a bit tired from the ride.” Iwaizumi opens up the light blanket that Oikawa has set out for him, then finally looks at him, that dark, assessing look again.

 

“Okay,” Oikawa says, more of a high-pitched squeak.

 

“You can stay here, if you want,” Iwaizumi offers. His gaze doesn’t waver despite the blush that fills his cheeks.

 

“Mm,” Oikawa squeaks again, eyes wide and entire body thrumming with tension. He stiffly crawls over to the side and waits for Iwaizumi to settle in before he squishes in against him, the single-person futon entirely too small for two full-grown volleyball players to share. The light’s still on and it’s distractingly bright, but Oikawa is afraid to move. His heart is pounding so loud, can’t Iwaizumi hear it? If he moves now, it’ll certainly burst from his chest and roll wildly across the living room floor, leaving a bloody mess of unspoken affection to permanently stain his carpet.

 

---

 

The rest of the week is much easier, devoid of most of the tension that frustratingly seems to surround them as if things have always been this way. Being in love with Iwaizumi is probably as old as the baby blankets Oikawa used to roll around on, but with Iwaizumi’s confession, Oikawa can no longer claim willful ignorance or plausible deniability.

 

How maddening, that Iwaizumi seems to be able to carry on with life as usual. If anything, he’s bolder about the way he interacts with Oikawa when they’re alone, brushes of fingers through his hair, a casual hand against his tailbone to guide him as they walk, intimate, knowing smiles over dinner in Oikawa’s tiny apartment, far too small to contain the enormity of feelings Oikawa so desperately tries to hide.

 

He does go to sleep with Iwaizumi every night, though, so maybe the enormity of his feelings isn’t all that contained. Iwaizumi apparently has no complaints about sharing his tiny futon with Oikawa despite the bed being just in the other room. Oikawa indulges himself at night with not so far-flung fantasies.

 

“So this is the famous Iwa-chan!” Mariko cries, elbowing their entire group of friends with embarrassing curiosity. It had been Iwaizumi’s idea for all of them to meet for dinner before he leaves and Oikawa had been too eager to show him off to think far ahead enough about consequences.

 

“Hey, nice to meet you,” Iwaizumi says, a casual smile on his face and a tilt of the head, and Oikawa sees the exact moment that all of his university friends fall in love. Iwaizumi is relaxed, weight leaned on one foot, dark jeans hugging his strong, muscular thighs, nothing more than a soft tshirt on top that clings to the powerful width of his chest. His eyes are warm and dark and Oikawa’s mouth goes dry with wanting. Paranoid, protective, Oikawa loops his arm around Iwaizumi’s, locking him in by the elbow. “I imagine Trashkawa here talks about me a fair bit so I hope you’ve heard good things.”

 

“Tra- Trashkawa,” Seiya chokes.

 

“Iwa-chan!!” Oikawa gasps, aghast.

 

“Only the best things,” Mariko crows, eyes glittering like knife-points as they dart between Iwaizumi’s easy smile and Oikawa’s infatuated stare.

 

“Trashkawa,” Seiya repeats, wheezing, and Ayano hits him, sending hearts at Iwaizumi with her eyes.

 

“Iwaizumi-kun is very handsome,” Taka says, like the entire world isn’t already aware.

 

“Oh yes, Tooru-chan tells us that all the time.” Mariko nods enthusiastically at Iwaizumi, willing him to trust her.

 

Mariko-chan!” Oikawa gasps, growing shriller.

 

“Was that supposed to be a secret?” Taka asks, “surely Iwaizumi-kun must know how much you gush about him.”

 

“Actually,” Iwaizumi says.

 

“Oikawa keeps a picture of the two of you in his gym locker at school,” Seiya tattles.

 

“If you guys ever divorce, please call me, Iwaizumi-kun!!” Ayano offers brightly.

 

We’re going to dinner now!” Oikawa half-screams, painfully sweaty and trembling all over. Even his eyeballs are trembling. Perhaps that’s why the entire world seems to be spinning around him.

 

Iwaizumi levels him with a look that Oikawa stubbornly refuses to meet, breathing heavily and staring out into traffic instead. He hears Iwaizumi sigh at him and then Iwaizumi is extracting himself from Oikawa’s grip. For a second, he thinks Iwaizumi will walk away, all of his worst nightmares flashing through his brain, but Iwaizumi’s hand clasps around his wrist instead, over a decade of familiarity in it.

 

“Shittykawa here seems to be hungry,” Iwaizumi says, pulling a stiff Oikawa with him.

 

“Shi- Shittykawa,” Seiya chokes louder, grasping onto Mariko for the strength to remain standing.

 

“He’s my soulmate,” Ayano declares, following a few paces behind Iwaizumi, with Mariko’s hand dragging her away again by the back of her shirt.

 

“Iwaizumi-kun, you must’ve been very popular in high school,” Taka suggests.

 

“Not really, Oikawa’s the good looking one of the two of us.”

 

“Ummm,” Oikawa wheezes in disagreement.

 

“Tooru-chan is more boyband pop idol you’d want to go to bed with,” Mariko partially agrees, “but Iwaizumi-kun, you’re like...you’re like that guy that any of us would bring home to our moms.”

 

“I’m not sure your moms would agree...” Iwaizumi points out, laughing it off.

 

“You’re definitely the kind of guy anyone would be happy to wake up beside,” Ayano supplies.

 

“I bet Oikawa-kun would be happy to wake up beside you,” Seiya snickers, and Oikawa’s eyes slide to meet Iwaizumi’s, because that’s exactly what he’s been doing this past week. His entire chest seems hollowed out, some awful, obvious truth clattering between his ribs.

 

“They’re worse than Hanamaki and Matsukawa combined,” Iwaizumi tells Oikawa. He’s smiling, nothing but fondness in his voice.

 

There isn’t any winning to this battle, Oikawa realizes. He’s evidently been leaking his feelings all over the place and no one saw fit to tell him. Helplessly, he tugs his wrist from Iwaizumi’s grip and holds his hand instead.

 

---

 

Throwing himself into volleyball used to be the only thing Oikawa could find to do that would make him stop thinking about Iwaizumi for a while. Ever since the visit, even volleyball is filled with memories of Iwaizumi that Oikawa has tried so hard to keep away.

 

It’s hard for him to think about him, but it’s also impossible not to. Every memory he has, good or bad, inevitably stars Iwaizumi at his side. What use is there in trying to pretend they exist in extricable spaces anymore, or ever did?

 

Right after Oikawa starts his third year of university, his coach pulls him aside and tells him that he can’t play on the starting lineup for Tokyo 2020. But he can play, because he’s good enough to be on the court. Oikawa waits for disappointment to hit him all night but it doesn’t come.

 

It could be a mix of age and maturity, but truthfully, he doesn’t have a personality that grows out of kneejerk reactions fueled by emotion. Rather, he imagines it’s because he’s played with the national team so many times that his awe has given way to determined respect, and it’s difficult for him to imagine himself among them in just another year and a half’s time. Captain Shimizu, with his gentle demeanor but roaring shouts of encouragement on the court, Ishikawa-senpai who’s only grown taller and stronger since graduation, Yanagida-senpai with his handsome looks and killer spikes. The national team is made of aces and the country is hungry for redemption.

 

“Your serve might be better than Yanagida’s,” Coach tells him, and Oikawa braces himself with a hand against the wall, not wanting to embarrass himself by crying. Yanagida, famous for his service aces. Yanagida, who has legions of fans who scream for him, prince on the court, like news outlets like to say. Oikawa hasn’t hurt and cried and bled for this moment in particular but he doesn’t mind the validation.“Give it another four years, Tooru-kun. Get better, because you’re good enough, but I know you only know what it means to be the best.”

 

Oikawa and Iwaizumi still call each other once a week on Fridays, but Oikawa usually calls him twice more on top of that whenever he feels like. He supposes that means they call each other three times a week whenever they want, but Mariko would never let him hear the end of it if he admitted that so openly.

 

“Iwa-chan,” he half-whispers into the phone, sitting out on the balcony again. When he’s unable to focus on anything, the city lights stretching into the distance look just like a sea of stars.

 

“How was your day, Oikawa?” Iwaizumi asks. The sound of running water and clinking glasses places Iwaizumi in the kitchen, and Oikawa can see exactly where he would be standing, suddenly very homesick.

 

“I didn’t make the starting lineup,” he says, “but I’m going to play next year.”

 

Iwaizumi sucks in a deep, audible breath. Oikawa laughs, eyes prickling with tears.

 

“Don’t worry. I’m really relieved, Iwa-chan. Although I think being a pinch server’s probably the biggest stress there ever could be.”

 

“You’re okay?” Iwaizumi asks, and all sound in the background has stopped. Wow, Oikawa thinks. Has he always taken it so for granted that he’s the main character in Iwaizumi’s life? How has he just mindlessly let this carry on this entire time?

 

“There’s always the Olympics after that. Watch me be captain by then.”

 

“You’re so shitty,” Iwaizumi says, but then he laughs, a bit breathless. Happy. “I’m proud of you, Oikawa. I know this is what you always wanted.”

 

“Mm,” Oikawa hums. But no, that isn’t really right. It’s almost right. He plays with the heavy gudetama blanket on his lap, yet another present shipped to him from Miyagi even though Oikawa is sure Iwaizumi must’ve ordered it from some store in Tokyo, yet another memory from Iwaizumi that Oikawa will never let go of. “Actually, Iwa-chan, I’m going to go back to Miyagi for a visit, okay?”

 

“What? Sure, yeah,” Iwaizumi replies, taken aback, “when?”

 

“Can you pick me up in about two and a half hours?”

 

“You’re- what!? Oikawa--”

 

Oikawa hangs up on him, dropping the blankets where he stands, and heads for home.

 

---

 

Iwaizumi can’t stop scowling, dread and excitement a volatile mix in his gut. Oikawa can be impulsive but he’s never done anything like this before and the thought makes Iwaizumi groan out loud all over again, startling a sleepy salaryman by the ticket gate. He paces restlessly, checking his smartphone every ten seconds just to confirm that Oikawa still hasn’t arrived.

 

He’s so caught up with glaring at an innocent ramen advertisement nearby that Oikawa nearly bowls him over when he tackles him in a suffocating hug.

 

“Shittykawa, I swear to fuck,” Iwaizumi lectures, circling his arms around Oikawa so tight that despite being shorter, he almost picks Oikawa up. “You’re so shitty, I can’t believe we’re even friends! Jesus freaking shit, you little--”

 

“I know, I know!” Oikawa cries, muffling all his words in Iwaizumi’s neck.

 

“Are you okay?” Iwaizumi demands. He sounds as cranky as ever but his embrace is so warm, all the support that Oikawa’s ever needed through the ups and downs of his life. He’s really never known anything else.

 

Oikawa makes a show of sniffling a bunch but he’s grinning when Iwaizumi pulls back to check on him. “I missed you, Iwa-chan.”

 

“Why are you a dumbass?” Iwaizumi sighs, rolling his eyes.

 

He is so painfully handsome. It isn’t just bias; familiarity will go a long way, and there’s nothing more familiar than literally growing up beside Iwaizumi as best friends, but Oikawa has functional eyes. There is nothing about Iwaizumi that he would change because Iwaizumi makes him want to be the best version of himself there is, even better than what Oikawa originally had thought himself capable. Again and again, all that he strives for, all that he attains--how much of it was a solitary effort, and how much of it was everyone else around him holding him up, especially Iwaizumi, making sure he gets back up again?

 

“I really needed to see you,” Oikawa says. Something in his demeanor must be different because Iwaizumi’s expression softens into something much warmer, none of the usual scowl or annoyance.

 

Wordlessly, Iwaizumi takes him by the wrist and pulls him outside. Oikawa isn’t resisting but he understands a bit better now, that it’s still considered okay for Iwaizumi to hold his wrist, just vague enough for it to mean whatever anyone thinks it should mean. Frustrated by the thought, Oikawa pulls himself free to properly hold Iwaizumi’s hand instead. It’s dark enough for him to be brave.

 

“So?” Iwaizumi asks. It’s a chilly Spring night and Oikawa can see sakura buds growing on all the trees.

 

He sure wishes they were in full bloom already, like they are in Tokyo. It would make this so much better, like a shojo manga, holding Iwaizumi’s hand and walking in a downpour of sakura snow.

 

“I think,” Oikawa starts uncertainly. Two hours spent thinking in circles on the shinkansen has apparently netted him nothing more articulate than wanting to scream. It’s taken him two years to get here though, there’s no backing out of this anymore. “Iwa-chan,” he starts over, “I never wanted to ask you to wait for me.” He swallows around the rock in his throat, a tight ball of guilt and dishonesty. “Well, I guess I did, but I didn’t because I didn’t think it was very fair.”

 

Iwaizumi sighs but his expression doesn’t change much. “I already knew that,” he answers, giving Oikawa’s hand a squeeze.

 

Oikawa frowns. “But I still feel like you’ve been waiting this whole time, right? I- I thought I could be mature and let you go, but I don’t think it worked because you’ve still been waiting.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“I’m- Iwa-chan! This makes me a bad person! Why didn’t you try to move on?”

 

Iwaizumi does roll his eyes now, coming to a stop. He doesn’t let go of Oikawa’s hand though, just stands there and looks at him with their hands held between them. How nostalgic, to hold Iwaizumi’s hand in the middle of the street, like they’re seven again.

 

“I already told you,” Iwaizumi says, such incomprehensible calm and honesty.

 

Oikawa is so frustrated he wants to cry. He could start, his eyes are stinging enough. “Even now?”

 

“I don’t know when you expected me to stop.”

 

Oikawa knows that Iwaizumi isn’t trying to hurt him. He’s not, which makes it worse that this feels so terrible. “Did you even try to get over me?” he asks, “I thought that was why you wanted me to- to tell you- that time--” Oikawa presses his lips into a thin line, unable to even stutter it out. It was mean of Iwaizumi to have done that to him on their grad trip. Deserved, but so, so mean, and Oikawa doesn’t want to talk about it again.

 

“It’s not like you actually told me to stop,” Iwaizumi answers, shrugging. “I thought you would say something about never being able to return my feelings because other things mattered more to you, in which case I would’ve probably actually tried harder to meet someone else, or that you didn’t see me that way, in which case I would’ve had to stop talking to you for a while.” Iwaizumi looks at him, a faint blush on his cheeks. Speaking candidly is only difficult in courage, not because Iwaizumi actually has difficulty putting these feelings into words. He’s had two years to find these words. “All you told me was that you couldn’t be with me. So now, I mean- does this mean that you can?”

 

To both their absolute horror, Oikawa’s face scrunches up and he bursts into tears. He tries to hide it immediately but it’s with the hand Iwaizumi is still holding onto so Oikawa ends up smearing a mess of tears and snot onto the back of Iwaizumi’s hand instead, laughing and crying and then crying harder when Iwaizumi hits him on the head, fond and familiar.

 

“Crybaby, such an ugly crier, like a particularly ugly alien,” Iwaizumi mutters, gently trying to dry his face.

 

Something about actually going to the Olympics has reset Oikawa’s ability to go it alone. His ambitions haven’t changed but he no longer thinks it’s altruism to keep Iwaizumi away, especially by dishonestly and half-heartedly telling him that he’s okay with Iwaizumi pursuing someone else.

 

It’s Oikawa who should’ve known better. He had thought it was kindness since so much of his time would’ve been taken up by volleyball, but now with so many other Olympics open to him down the line, he can no longer see the joy in walking that path without Iwaizumi at his side. How was he to know, though? He’s never done anything without Iwaizumi before, he couldn’t have known it was going to be like this.

 

“I think I might not be a great partner,” Oikawa warns unsteadily. There’s no dissuading Iwaizumi and he doesn’t want to but he needs to try to be fair.

 

“Yeah, I already knew that, too,” Iwaizumi teases, punching him on the arm. “But I’ve told you before, you’re the partner that I’m proud of.”

 

“Oh god, Iwa-chan, stop,” Oikawa whispers, reeling in place. He’ll never forget that day after school, the conviction on Iwaizumi’s face when he’d said that to him. If you’re going to hit it, hit it until it breaks, that’s what he’s always said, but Oikawa is really about to shatter into fine dust if Iwaizumi keeps going. How did he never know that Iwaizumi was such a romantic?

 

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi says, the hope in his voice too obvious to mask now. Oikawa is gripping Iwaizumi’s hand so tight that his knuckles are turning white. “I’m really not that mature. I’m not asking you to give up volleyball or something, fuck if I know how to contain all your useless energy, but I do want to still be important to you. I know high school was--”

 

“Wait, wait wait wait,” Oikawa cuts in, grabbing Iwaizumi’s shoulder. “What exactly do you think has changed since high school?”

 

“I...thought maybe, with meeting new people...” For the first time all night, Iwaizumi looks uncertain, and Oikawa grins.

 

“Iwa-chan is soooo stupid,” Oikawa sings, “I know your brain is just a large, flexing bicep--”

 

“What the fuck--”

 

“But try using it once in a while and tell me a single moment where you might’ve even thought a tiny little teensy bit that I’m not stupid about you. Go ahead.”

 

Iwaizumi flushes deep red, embarrassed and pleased. “Well, it’s not like I thought otherwise--

 

“Soooooo stupid!”

 

Iwaizumi whacks him on the arm. He just needs to make sure, though. Two years is a long time to wait for someone, even if neither of them really meant for it, or even really tried to make it mean something. “So, this is okay, then?” he asks, stepping closer into Oikawa’s space, until Oikawa’s got his forehead pressed to his shoulder, breath hot against his throat. “This is what you want?”

 

“Well, it must be” Oikawa reasons, looping his arms around Iwaizumi’s waist, fisting his hands into the back of Iwaizumi’s jacket, “I’ve never wanted anything else.”

 

---

 

It’s good to be in love; it really does suit them.

Iwaizumi didn’t always think that things were going to work out, even though he had clung on with stubborn hope that they would. Sometimes, when someone is so far out of reach, living in a different dimension of life, all you can do is walk with them for as long as you can before watching their back as they go. As much as Seijou agreed with them, their paths were divergent from the start.

 

It’s not like it was easy to hear Oikawa turn him down. It’s not like Iwaizumi had an easy time of things by himself in Miyagi, desperately in love with someone also in love with him, but unable to be together because of circumstance. It’s not like he hadn’t wanted to lash out a countless number of times, assign blame, cut to the bone with harsh words, shut the door on this painfully enduring childhood love and call it a mishap of youth.

 

Oikawa’s built of greatness, some genius combination where the stars aligned just right, a cosmic fluke of wonder. He’s flawed as anyone and difficult to love, but Iwaizumi finds it incredibly easy. That could partially be owed to growing up beside him and knowing how to read Oikawa’s pouty whines and uncertain smiles, but Iwaizumi likes to think that the universe was also kind enough to give him a place beside Oikawa for life. He’ll walk with him for as long as he can, and Iwaizumi feels no shame in admitting he’ll crawl if he has to. Two years was a long time to fully understand the weight of absence. Who knew it could be that heavy?

 

“Earth to Iwa-chan~” Oikawa sings, waving a hand in front of his face. “Where’d you go off to, space cadet?”

 

“Nn,” Iwaizumi grunts, looking down and away. He got lost in his thoughts again. Sometimes, he still can’t quite believe where he is, but Oikawa tightens the hug he’s got around Iwaizumi’s left arm and Iwaizumi looks back at him with a smile. “I was thinking about all the presents I didn’t buy you for Christmas.”

 

Oikawa skipped out on his last week of classes and came home early for winter holidays. Iwaizumi had truly tried to convince him not to, it’s not as if there was anything to do in Miyagi, but Oikawa had listened to 0% of it, as usual with any good advice that runs contrary to Oikawa’s personal plans. Iwaizumi can’t say that he isn’t happy, though. There’s never quite enough time to be with Oikawa and this constant long distance is making him too soft, too eager to spoil.

 

“Naoya, Hiroshi!” Iwaizumi calls, waving his friends over to their table, and Oikawa sits up straighter, eying them with territorial curiosity.

 

He needs to chill out. Iwaizumi had come to Tokyo ages ago to meet his friends and he had been so cool, so friendly, so utterly Iwa-chan that Ayano sometimes still pesters Oikawa to invite him around more often despite being in a serious relationship herself. In fact, all of his friends insist on seeing Iwaizumi more often, and Oikawa supposes that’s how he knows he’s made a good circle of new friends, because they welcome and understand what Oikawa loves most. He wants to do that for Iwaizumi, too! He’s heard a lot about Naoya and Hiroshi but this is only their first time meeting to get dinner, and he doesn’t want to mess it up.

 

Iwaizumi is Oikawa’s best friend, though. Before even the love thing, Oikawa’s got dibs!

 

“Oh, the mighty Oikawa!” Naoya grins, settling in across from him. “Wow, you really are more handsome in person!”

 

“Oh,” Oikawa says, blinking rapidly. That was blunt. “Th- Thanks!”

 

“Don’t stroke his ego,” Iwaizumi warns.

 

“I’m sure you do that enough for all of us,” Hiroshi points out, kicking Iwaizumi under the table. “Hey Oikawa-kun, did you know this loser has doubled down on gushing about you this year? God he just won’t shut up.

 

Oikawa hasn’t even formally introduced himself yet. Someone press rewind, someone slow shit down, someone make him regain control of his own face, because all he can do is stare at the blushing, pissy glare on Iwaizumi’s face, slack-jawed and taken aback.

 

Iwa-chan?” he asks, going back to hugging Iwaizumi’s left arm. He’s never known Iwaizumi to be gushy. At all.

 

“It’s good to finally be able to talk to you directly,” Naoya adds, “this way I can lodge a formal complaint and request for your boyfriend to shut the fuck up about you. It’s been two years! Please, baby Jesus!”

 

“He- I--” Oikawa stammers.

 

“Maybe we can talk about something that isn’t my relationship with Oikawa?” Iwaizumi suggests, a napkin crushed in his hand.

 

“Maybe you shouldn’t talk about Oikawa all the time then!!” Naoya shoots back, throwing small, balled-up pieces of napkin at Iwaizumi’s head. “We want him to know how terribad it is to be friends with someone so attractive but who refuses to help wingman for his single and pathetic friends!”

 

“Oh, don’t get me started on that one and only mixer of doom we went on in first year,” Hiroshi groans, deftly avoiding the way Iwaizumi is trying to break his shins under the table, “we knew you guys were already together but girls seem inexplicably drawn to him so we just wanted him to wingman for us, yeah?” Oikawa nods vigorously. “So he gets to dinner and is all brooding and the girls are getting the vapors, and then he starts telling them about you, and then like, leaves in the middle to call you for twenty years, and the next week, I find out one of the cute girls I was maybe gonna ask out decided to take a break from dating because she fell into a deep hole of boys love. I mean what is that about.”

 

“I’m going to fucking murder you while you’re awake, so you can watch,” Iwaizumi says calmly.

 

Oikawa is blushing so hard he’s feeling dizzy. Or maybe that’s just because he’s happy, because he’s over the fucking moon, and he’s worried he might cry again. He’s been doing a lot of crying, internally and occasionally externally.

 

“I think we’re all going to be best friends,” Oikawa notes.

 

“We weren’t together then,” Iwaizumi adds, just for the record.

 

“Really?” Naoya and Hiroshi say together, looking at the two of them doubtfully.

 

“Iwa-chan, don’t be silly,” Oikawa dismisses, stubbornly defensive of his relationship at all times, official status then or not, “we’ve been together since you’ve known what love was.”

 

“Throwing up now,” Naoya complains.

 

“Nice milk bread charm,” Hiroshi points out, looking at Oikawa’s bag on the booth. He shares a knowing look with Naoya and both of them break into grins, full of evil.

 

“You guys,” Iwaizumi starts.

 

“Hajime-chan,” Hiroshi coos, “is Oikawa-kun the reason you insist on buying milk bread for lunch every Friday?”

 

“Oh my god,” Oikawa says on a noisy inhale, happy to die.

 

---

 

The closer they get to the Olympics, the more Iwaizumi finds himself becoming something like a manager slash personal assistant. It’s certainly validating to have Oikawa turn to him for everything but it’s really exhausting going with him from one appearance to another practice and back to Miyagi so he can maybe finish the last year of university without failing out.

 

He’s happy to do it, though. What’s a few dozen shinkansen trips and sleepless nights and overpriced coffees when it’s Oikawa who calls him every night he’s not there in person and begs him to spend just a little longer in bed every night he is?

 

“Iwa-chan...I’m nervous,” Oikawa says blankly, tightening his arms around Iwaizumi’s middle.

 

They’re reclined in Oikawa’s tiny bed in the Olympic Village, a much needed, rare moment of solitude in the chaos that has been the past few months of preparation and interviews and countless offers for Oikawa to take up some advertisement gigs on the side. Oikawa has been walking the line with over-training again but it’s the Olympics, his first one, and Iwaizumi understands that fire too well to try and disapprove of it. He’ll be on that court with Oikawa in spirit--Iwaizumi doesn’t love volleyball any less just because he didn’t go pro.

 

Sighing in sympathy and helplessness, Iwaizumi ducks to press a warm kiss to Oikawa’s temple, offering a smile when Oikawa looks up at him. “If me being there will make you more nervous, I’m happy to go check out some other events,” he teases.

 

Oikawa wails in annoyance and flops over onto Iwaizumi’s chest instead, giving him a wet, noisy kiss. “You have to come!” He kisses Iwazumi again before Iwaizumi can answer. “Can we get ramen after?” Kiss. “Put on my knee supporter for me.” Kiss. “Don’t wear those black skinny jeans or someone will hit on you.”

 

This is the inevitability of their relationship. Iwaizumi or volleyball? Please, life wasn’t meant for such limiting choices to be made. All roads lead to the future; Oikawa just went on the scenic route for a while, with Iwaizumi never really far away.

 

Iwaizumi laughs at Oikawa’s ridiculous puppy antics, comfortingly running his fingers through Oikawa’s hair. He can’t believe how soft it is, how fluffy--maybe that overpriced, fruity shampoo really does make a difference.

 

Humming with happiness, Oikawa curls himself around the feeling of Iwaizumi’s laughter thrumming through his body. “Who knows, I may not even get to play today,” he sighs, but they both know that’s just nervous, forced modesty. Oikawa isn’t quite there yet, not quite able to conduct to his liking on an international level. But there’s another four years, and maybe another four after that, and even if today him can’t do it, he can certainly make it so that tomorrow him is a little bit closer.

 

“We’ll get you there,” Iwaizumi says simply, and Oikawa looks at him, the fire in his eyes, his ace and partner and best friend and the only person he’s ever loved, and grins.

 

---