Oikawa never thought himself to be religious. Religion wasn’t important to his parents so they didn’t teach him much about it. He was free to form his own thoughts and opinions. He’d go to shrines for New Years, but that was more of a festivity. After all, who wouldn’t want a little extra luck or guidance or whatever during exam season or when the spring tournaments were coming up?
That didn’t stop him from contemplating about god, the universe, and his place in it. After all, if aliens existed, maybe god did too. When he looked up at the night sky on a clear night, he felt small and empowered at the same time. Like he was the part of something more. Better. Maybe that’s how people felt about god.
He told that to Iwaizumi once during one of their stargazing sessions in high school. Iwaizumi’s parents had a similar view as Oikawa’s so it left Iwaizumi to determine his own faith. He settled on agnostic, where he believed in god, sure, but at the same time, who was to say. It made their theological discussions fun since neither of them were particularly attached so they could debate without fear of accidentally upsetting the other.
When Oikawa told Iwaizumi how he felt after looking at the stars, Iwaizumi thought for a long moment. “That makes sense. I mean. I get it. That’s surprisingly insightful of you.”
Cue Oikawa squawking on offense and Iwaizumi ruffling his hair in half-apology, their usual routine. Then the moment was over and they went back to talking about school and volleyball and whatever else was on their mind.
The conversation wasn’t brought up again until the summer after their senior year. Iwaizumi’s parents rented out a beach house for a week and, naturally, invited the Oikawa’s. It was a beautiful house with an open floor plan, most of the doors and walls had windows so there was a lot of natural light. It even had a walkway from the back of the house onto the beach itself.
There were three rooms, so it was a given that Iwaizumi’s parents would take one, Oikawa’s the other, leaving the two new grads to share the remaining room. It was great, honestly. The two families spent the days cooking and drinking, playing games, and going swimming. They built campfires and just enjoyed the shared time and company. Oikawa and Iwaizumi frequently had races along the sands or in the water or competitions of who could build a better sandcastle. It was childish and exactly what they needed as the promise of university hovered over their shoulders.
After the day’s festivities were done, Iwaizumi and Oikawa would retreat to their room. Often, they’d lay out on their futons and talk for hours. Some serious, mostly not. The comfort of being in the dark made talking easier. They talked about their fears, some unfounded and others not. The fears of growing up, growing apart, growing in a way that was for the better but incompatible with the other. They were all put to rest, the gentle sound of waves acting like a lullaby.
It was their last night at the beach house. Their parents had already turned in for the night but the duo wanted to make the most of their time. Oikawa broke their usual habit of talking until they both fell asleep by getting out of bed and holding his hand out to Iwaizumi. “Come on.”
Iwaizumi took his hand and got up despite scowling. “What do you mean? Where are we going?”
Oikawa just smiled. “The beach.”
Iwaizumi rolled his eyes. “We’re not going for a swim this late.” End of discussion.
Oikawa shook his head. “No, no. I just… want to go. You’ll come with me, right?”
How could Iwaizumi say no to that? So the two of them slipped out of the house and went down to the beach, the moon bright enough to light the way with ease. They stood at the ocean’s edge, the waves passing over their feet as they stood. Oikawa looked out to the sea, seemingly black and endless. And then he looked up to the infinite stars above them.
“It makes you feel small. Alone.” He murmured, mostly speaking aloud.
Iwaizumi’s gaze followed Oikawa’s. “Not insignificant though.” He could see from the corner of his eye that Oikawa nodded. “And you’re not alone, stupid.”
It makes Oikawa smile but doesn’t comment further. Instead, he just continues. “It’s probably how most people feel about god.” Oikawa muses. “Feeling helpless but part of something bigger… I told you that's how I see the stars... But this is different. This is more, with a capital 'M'." He smiled a little. "I guess this is what people would call 'holy'. I kind of get it now.”
Iwaizumi looked over to Oikawa properly now. “That’s an interesting way of looking at it… But I guess you’re right.” He smiled.
Oikawa lowered his gaze to look at Iwaizumi. “We should do this again, Iwa-chan. Next summer.”
Iwaizumi heard the silent pleas that accompanied the statement. Promise that we’ll still be close enough to do this next year. Promise me that you’ll be by my side this time next year. Promise that neither of us will be alone.
So Iwaizumi answered, because of course he does, “Every summer.”
And that was that.
Every summer after that, regardless of how busy they were or where they were, they scheduled to set aside time to go to the beach at night. While they were both in university, it was easy to coordinate their schedules during their break. Once Oikawa went to school and Iwaizumi started working, it became a little harder to plan. Oikawa was going to different summer camps, networking with the right people to continue his career after he graduated. Iwaizumi had work, which made things difficult to schedule because most people wanted time off during the summer so they were short handed.
During Oikawa’s senior year, things were… hard. They both didn’t have as much time as they’d both like to dedicate to each other. Oikawa was feeling the pressure to leave a distinct mark, to get himself scouted by the time he graduated. His own studies, of course, were also coming to a head. He took courses over the summer in addition to tutoring, beefing up his resume where he could. It left him on campus for the first time, a significant point in their relationship. Even if their schedules didn’t line up, there was always the assumption they’d be much closer once summer came.
Meanwhile, Iwaizumi’s work got increasingly busy and he was also somehow in charge of training the new technicians who came along. Their schedules differed most of the time, and when they didn’t, they were both too exhausted to do more than their routine phone call. And even those were relatively short and anemic. Needless to say, time passed quicker than they both anticipated. Before they both knew it, it was the weekend before classes were due to start.
Iwaizumi finished his shift and had just enough time to shower and change out of his uniform before it was time for his and Oikawa’s scheduled phone call. They chatted about their day before Oikawa mentioned his classes on Monday in passing.
“Wait, you start the 1st? I thought you started the 8th?” Iwaizumi interrupted Oikawa’s story of how he had charmed his way into the last spot in one of his classes.
He could feel Oikawa shaking his head. “Practices start the 8th but classes start the 1st.” He clarified.
They didn’t get to go to the beach this year… He glanced at the clock and his schedule as Oikawa continued talking. He could switch his shifts around… the drive time and the gas money… yeah, it’d work out. As he made arrangements in his head, he waited until Oikawa finished his story before speaking. “Hey babe, I love you, but I have to go.”
Oikawa, even if he did suspect something was up, didn’t say anything. They exchanged their usual sentiments and goodbyes before hanging up. Then Iwaizumi texted his coworkers and boss, arranging his schedule around. Once that was done, he packed an overnight bag before he went to his mom to tell her that he was taking the car and he’d be back by Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Of course, this prompted her to ask what he was planning to do and go. Upon explaining himself, she just smiled and gave him a little money for gas. By the time he got in the car, it was a little after six. It was a five hour drive, possibly a little longer according to his GPS because of traffic… But he’d make it.
Oikawa noticed that Iwaizumi had more or less stopped listening as he talked. He hummed in acknowledgement but didn’t seem that engaged. And then he had to go suddenly… He was probably just tired. Anxiety settled in his gut and he thought back to the last several days, wondering if he had done something to accidentally offend his boyfriend. He’d mention it tomorrow if Iwaizumi was still acting weird.
For now, it was best to keep himself busy until it was time for bed. He spontaneously started cleaning his room, playing music loudly and singing along. It never failed to lift his mood. The combination of goofing off while being productive was an effective combination. Then he moved into the kitchen, keeping his energy up by starting to make dinner.
He wasn’t as good as a cook as Iwaizumi but university had him learn the basics. The fact that he lived in a small apartment helped a lot. No one was around to smell his burnt eggs and he only set off the fire alarm twice.
After he ate, he cleaned up and showered before lazing on the couch. He put on re-runs of some cartoons, mostly using it for background noise as he played on his phone. It was a very relaxed Saturday all things considered but it was probably what he needed before the semester started.
He texted Iwaizumi as he made dinner and after his shower but there was no response. There was that little itch in the back of his head, making him worry Iwaizumi was mad at him. But then he remembered this was his Iwa-chan. He wasn’t the type to avoid a problem, if he had one. If he was mad, he’d say so. He had to trust him.
Over the years, especially with the distance, Oikawa was learning to at least be self-aware of his anxieties and their roots. If Iwaizumi didn’t text him, it was always because he was busy or relaxing or something. He didn’t ignore his texts out of spite. If he was angry, at the very least, he’d text him and let him know he was mad, what about, and that they’d talk about it once he cooled off. He was always clear so Oikawa didn’t wind up making himself ill with worry. If anything, it was Oikawa who had to learn to be more honest about how he was feeling. If he felt neglected or lonely, he had to voice it even if he was afraid of upsetting Iwaizumi. They'd talked about it before; it was better to talk about it than hoping it would go away on its own, since it would probably only get worse and upset them both more...
But more often than not, they texted when they had time and didn’t stress when they didn’t. They were two independent people and they could go a couple days without talking much. Sure, they had their usual good morning texts and good night texts, but sometimes that’s all they needed. Just to know they had someone in their corner, if they were hours apart.
It was nearly eleven, Oikawa lounging on the couch in his boxers and one of Iwaizumi’s t-shirts, when his phone rang. He picked up after he read the caller ID.
“Are you dressed?”
Oikawa laughed. “Trying to dirty talk me so quickly, Iwa-chan? You usually have more finesse!” He could practically hear Iwaizumi’s face flush.
“Shut up! No, you fucking moron. Just answer the question.”
“I mean. I have a shirt and boxers on so. Yeah?”
“Great. Open the door.”
Before Iwaizumi could answer, there was a knock at Oikawa’s door. “Iwa-chan?”
The response could be heard through the door and phone. “Open the door.”
Oikawa hung up before practically sprinting to his door and flinging it open. Lo and behold, Iwaizumi was standing on his doorstep. He was wearing sweatpants and one of Oikawa’s hoodies. Dressed down, sure, but Oikawa never saw a more beautiful sight.
“Iwa-chan… what’re you doing here?” He panicked. “Wait, did something happen? Is everything okay? Is your mom okay?” Worst case scenarios raced through his head as he tried to reason why Iwaizumi had driven five hours to see him.
Iwaizumi stepped into the apartment, closing the door behind him and kissing Oikawa’s cheek. “Relax, everything’s fine. Everyone’s okay. My mom says hi actually.”
Oikawa relaxed as Iwaizumi soothed his nerves and kissed his cheek. “Okay good, good…. Then why are you here? Not that I’m not happy to see you but…”
Iwaizumi just smiled. “Just go get dressed. I’ll explain soon.” He promised.
Oikawa eyed Iwaizumi warily. “Is Iwa-chan going to be ultra-romantic? Try to sweep me off my feet?” He gasped. “Is Iwa-chan proposing?” He put a hand to his forehead, making a fainting noise. “I’m far too young, Iwa-chan!”
Iwaizumi flushed and whacked Oikawa’s arm. “Dumbass! Don’t start saying weird shit! Just go get fucking dressed!”
Oikawa laughed before going to his room to throw on a pair of shorts. Once he was dressed and had his phone and keys, he rejoined Iwaizumi by the door.
The two of them went back to Iwaizumi’s car where Oikawa hooked up his phone and played music as Iwaizumi drove. They fell into comfortable silence, only breaking the peace to sing along with whatever song came on.
Twenty minutes later, Iwaizumi pulled into the parking lot. It was then that Oikawa’s silence turned from relaxed to awe.
Iwaizumi killed the engine and got out of the car to open Oikawa’s door for him.
“Iwa-chan…” Oikawa got out, staring out to the view in front of him to Iwaizumi and back.
The beach. Iwaizumi took them to the beach. They walked hand in hand to the shoreline, breathing in the salty air. The stars were harder to see given all the light pollution but the moon was bright and nearly full.
“You came all this way… for this?” Oikawa asked, his voice soft and reverent.
Iwaizumi squeezed Oikawa’s hand. “Yeah.”
“Because I promised.” Iwaizumi responded simply. And he didn’t say more, didn’t elaborate. He didn’t need to.
“Hajime.” Oikawa took his hand from Iwaizumi’s grasp and cupped his face in both his hands. He smiled softly, his eyes wet with unshed tears.
They spent the next couple of hours there, talking and walking along the shore. Once they both were satisfied, they went back to Oikawa’s apartment. Iwaizumi fell asleep when his head hit the pillow, thoroughly exhausted from work and the drive. Oikawa crawled into bed beside him, feeling warm and filled with love.
The next morning, Oikawa woke up first. It took him a moment to realize that Iwaizumi was in his bed and why. He couldn’t help but smile and kiss his boyfriend’s shoulder before slipping out of bed. The least he could do was make breakfast. Oikawa was more of a baker than he was a cook but pancakes were definitely something he could manage on his own. He made blueberry pancakes and bacon and poured some coffee into Iwaizumi’s favorite mug. He carefully balanced the plates and mugs in his arms and went back into the bedroom.
He arranged everything on the nightstand before lying back down beside Iwaizumi. Oikawa glanced at the time, double checking that Iwaizumi had slept a full night’s rest, before leaning in to pepper his face with kisses.
Iwaizumi stirred under the onslaught of affection, blindly batting at Oikawa’s shoulder. “Mmm, I’m up, I’m up.” He mumbled sleepily, cracking one eye open. Any irritation of being woken up melted off his face upon seeing his love’s smile. He was so weak to that smile. “Morning.”
Oikawa pressed one more kiss to Iwaizumi’s cheek. “Morning. Made breakfast for us, when you’re ready.”
Iwaizumi nudged Oikawa off of him so he could use the bathroom and brush his teeth. Oikawa lounged on the bed and sipped his coffee, significantly lighter and sweeter than Iwaizumi’s. When his boyfriend came back, they sat and ate in comfortable silence. They occasionally nudged each other’s leg, knee, or shoulder, appreciating the closeness. There was a special intimacy of being in silence with someone you could talk for hours, days, years with. The option was there, of course, to fill the silence but the need to feel it was never present.
With their food devoured and coffee consumed, Oikawa grabbed their plates and brought them to the sink. Iwaizumi followed and insisted on cleaning up since Oikawa had cooked. It was a routine they had and it worked out. As Iwaizumi cleaned, Oikawa wrapped his arms around his waist and pressed against his back. He hummed whatever jingle that was stuck in his head. Oikawa felt the rumble of Iwaizumi’s quiet chuckle.
“We’re awfully domestic. You ever think that?”
Oikawa kissed Iwaizumi’s cheek. “Sometimes. Is that a complaint?” He pouted.
Iwaizumi leaned back into Oikawa more. “You know it’s not, dumbass.” He finished washing up and turned around in Oikawa’s hold, resting his hands on his boyfriend’s hips. “I’m just saying that it’s… nice.”
Oikawa smiled, tilting his head. “Just nice?” He prompted.
Iwaizumi flushed a little and rolled his eyes. He looked off to the side, having trouble meeting Oikawa’s eyes. “It’s… I dunno. It’s nice . It just makes me think… that if I had this every day for the rest of my life…with you... it wouldn’t be bad.”
When Oikawa didn’t respond right away, Iwaizumi looked at his face properly. He was met with the softest smile, Oikawa’s eyes endlessly warm and fond.
“You know, Iwa-chan, that sounds an awful lot like a proposal.”
If Iwaizumi was flushed before, his face was probably a tomato now. “I- No! That wasn’t- Not that I don’t want that- But- you- Fuck!” He sputtered, finally just giving up and hiding his face against Oikawa’s shoulder.
Oikawa’s laughter drowned out Iwaizumi’s grumbles. Had they not been so close together, Oikawa would’ve missed it entirely.
“What was that Iwa-chan?” He teased as he rubbed his back soothingly.
“I said,” Iwaizumi huffed, his face still hidden, “that I want to at least finish school before I actually propose.”
Then it was Oikawa’s turn to blush fiercely. He held Iwaizumi tighter, his heart pounding in his chest. “I guess I’ll have to be patient then.” He murmured.
Cue more blushing, more hugging, more disbelieved laughter. It was awkward and wonderful and both of them were so filled with love and hope for their future that it bubbled over like champagne. The whole room even seemed to have a golden hue from the light coming in through the windows.
When they both calmed down, Iwaizumi sadly had to start getting ready for his drive back home. He still had work the next morning and Oikawa had classes the next day too. It again hit Oikawa that Iwaizumi had driven five hours just to take him to the beach. That a promise he made from their last summer in high school held such weight that Iwaizumi dropped everything just to spend not even twelve hours with Oikawa…
Oikawa sent Iwaizumi back home with lots of snacks from his cupboards and a couple of his t-shirts. They both were suckers for sharing clothing, especially with the distance and their busy schedules. They really were domestic…
Iwaizumi was in the car, his window rolled down. Oikawa was standing by the door, just talking, not wanting his boyfriend to leave just yet but knowing he couldn’t exactly stop him.
“Text me when you get home. Tell your mom I say hi.” Oikawa reminded.
Iwaizumi smiled. “I will, I will. Get some sleep tonight, okay? And don’t give me that look,” he said before Oikawa had time to pout fully. “We both know that you’re always nervous the night before classes. You’ll do great so just relax.”
“Yes, yes, thank you mom.” Oikawa rolled his eyes. Iwaizumi flipped him off, laughing nonetheless. He rolled up his window and waved before backing up into the street. He gave Oikawa another smile before he drove off, taking the familiar route back home.
He was driving for less than five minutes before his phone rang. Iwaizumi picked up on the second ring. “Oikawa? Did I forget something?”
There was some rustling and static over the phone, probably meaning that Oikawa was still in the stairwell of his apartment complex. “No. I just. I love you Hajime.”
Despite them saying it to each other several times over the last couple hours, and dozens upon dozens of times during their time together, the words still felt fresh and warm. “Love you too Tooru.”
“That was all… Drive safe.”
The drive home felt easier after that.