Iwaizumi rolled over in bed, his arm reaching out to pull Oikawa closer to him. When his hand was met by cool sheets, he cracked an eye open to look at the clock. It was just past two. They both had work early… Iwaizumi sighed and got out of bed to find Oikawa. Most likely, he had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room and would complain about the kink in his neck in the morning.
He was surprised to find Oikawa not in their living room but in the bathroom. He didn’t hear the shower running… The door was ajar so Iwaizumi pushed it open.
“Come to bed.” Iwaizumi grunted. “What’re you even doing up this late…?” He trailed off once he took in the scene in front of him. Oikawa’s eyes were wide, staring at him in evident surprise and shame.
His lips were a shade redder than usual. His eyes were decorated with a bold line of black, the eyeliner topped off with an elegant flick. His cheeks were red but Iwaizumi knew it was from embarrassment rather than any artificial product.
“I-Iwa-chan… I, um.” Oikawa stuttered, reaching for a towel to wipe off his makeup. “My sister gave me a bunch of stuff and I figured I’d try it! It looks silly, right? Doesn’t suit me at all!” His teasing voice would’ve fooled anyone else but Iwaizumi could read Oikawa like a book.
“You don’t look bad.” He stepped closer, taking the towel out of Oikawa’s grasp. He set it aside and cupped Oikawa’s cheek. Upon closer inspection, he could see that he had put on mascara as well.
Oikawa chuckled a little. “Just not bad? Really Iwa-chan, you need to work on your compliments.” He teased, sincerity and relief evident in his voice.
Iwaizumi rolled his eyes. “Shut up. Fine then, you look so ugly that no amount of makeup will cover it up.”
“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa shoved his arm, pouting. With the lipstick making his lips look fuller, it made Iwaizumi want to kiss him more.
There was a pause, Oikawa hesitating once more. “You… don’t think it’s weird…?”
Iwaizumi shrugged. “You can wear whatever you want. If it makes you happy then that’s what matters.”
“It’s not… too girly? It doesn’t… You’re… I mean… Like. Fuck.” Oikawa sighed, frustrated by his inability to explain what he meant.
Luckily, being an Oikawa translator was Iwaizumi’s job since he was a kid. “You can be a guy and wear makeup. It’s not too girly. It doesn’t invalidate your transition or anything.” He kissed Oikawa’s cheek. “I’m gay. You’re my boyfriend. That doesn’t change.”
Oikawa relaxed and kissed Iwaizumi’s cheek, leaving a faint red lip mark. “Thank you Iwa-chan.”
“You do look nice though… Makes your eyes stand out more. Lipstick is a pain in the ass though.” He huffed as he rubbed his cheek to make the lipstick mark go away.
Oikawa took the towel and wiped his lips against it, much to Iwaizumi’s protests. He looked at his reflection and nodded. “Lipstick made me feel a little weird actually. But just the eye stuff is fun.” He smiled, lighthearted and easygoing in the way that made Iwaizumi relax instantly.
“I’m glad to hear it. C’mon. Bed.”
Oikawa washed his face a few times to get the makeup off before following his boyfriend back to their bed. They got into their respective sides of the bed, facing away from each other. Oikawa scooted back a little so their backs were pressed against one another. “I love you Hajime.”
“I love you Tooru.”
After that, Oikawa got a little more confident in playing with his presentation. He’d wear highlighter sometimes when they went out shopping, causing his cheeks to shimmer when the light hit it. Other times, he’d wear eyeliner or a bold eyeshadow which usually made people stare. It was evident that Oikawa was uncomfortable with the stares, his posture rigid and his words came faster and more boisterous. When it happened, Iwaizumi would take his hand, lace their fingers together, and trace his thumb over Oikawa’s knuckles. It’s okay. I’m here. You’re safe. You’re okay. Actions spoke louder than words and Iwaizumi had taken that to heart.
It was a test of will, perseverance, to go out to meet Matsukawa and Hanamaki for coffee with Oikawa wearing eyeliner. It was the first time he’d gone out to meet people who knew him. What if they laughed at him? Or said something that genuinely upset him? The two of them didn’t know he was trans, so it was possible they’d say something insensitive without knowing…
When they saw Oikawa, they stared at him for a long moment, making Oikawa shift nervously in his seat. Before the silence could drag on too long, they both cracked a smile.
“You know, your right wing is a little uneven.” Hanamaki pointed out. This prompted Oikawa to take his phone out to check. This only resulted in the pair laughing at his expense.
“Nah he’s just fucking with you. It looks good.” Matsukawa reassured. And just like that, the conversation was done. They proceeded to order their drinks and chat. Like usual, the conversation flowed naturally and Oikawa was put at ease.
Iwaizumi was in the middle of telling an embarrassing Oikawa story (“the only stories I have of you”, Iwaizumi always said). “So Oikawa felt so bad about accidentally breaking my mom’s nose that she, ah, he,” he corrected, “basically assumed a different identity. For two weeks, he went by a different name because ‘Tooru was the one who broke Iwa-chan’s mom’s nose, but I’m not Tooru!’.” He quoted, pitching his voice in a nasally whine. “Kept it up for a couple weeks.”
Matsukawa laughed. “How the hell does a four year old have that kind of attention span?”
“Not to mention, why does a kid that young know to change your name and to deny you did something wrong? That’s some long con shit right there.” Hanamaki joked along.
Oikawa puffed his chest out in pride. “What can I say? I was a brilliant child who grew up to be an even more brilliant adult~”
All joking aside, Oikawa caught Iwaizumi’s slip up. It was a slight thing, instantly corrected and just as quickly forgotten by everyone, but it… nagged at him anyway. He could count on one hand the number of times Iwaizumi had ever messed up his name or pronouns and all of them had been when they were kids… Now though… it felt weird and it made him hyper aware of the makeup on his face, the binder on his chest, and the people around them. He wanted to go home now…
Their coffee break last for a little longer before Iwaizumi glanced at his phone. “I think I’m tapping out for now guys. I have an early shift tomorrow and I still have shit I gotta do.” He took a minute to collect their table’s empty cups and plates, bringing them over to the designated area. They all decided to part ways, gathering their coats.
Once outside and on their way back home, Oikawa tilted his head. “I thought you had tomorrow off Iwa-chan.”
“I do.” He replied simply. “Are you okay?” Iwaizumi asked instead of elaborating.
Oikawa hesitated before taking Iwaizumi’s hand as they walked. “I’ll explain at home.” He promised. The answer was enough, causing Iwaizumi to squeeze Oikawa’s hand gently. The walk back gave Oikawa time to sort out his thoughts and find the best words to explain what was going on, even if they sounded stupid.
After getting back to their apartment, Iwaizumi made a beeline for the kitchen and started boiling water for tea. They both knew that Oikawa liked drinking tea when he was stressed or upset, especially when they had to talk something out. It gave him a buffer, an opportunity to pause when he needed. Iwaizumi understood it and Oikawa appreciated it.
While the tea steeped, Oikawa excused himself to the bathroom. He grabbed a towel and rubbed his face to get the makeup off. He’d properly wash it off later but he felt a little better now that it was gone.
With their mugs of tea in hand, they moved to the couch in the living room. Iwaizumi waited, letting Oikawa get comfortable. They settled with facing one another, their legs entangled together.
“Thank you… for telling Makki and Mattsun that you had to leave.” He started.
Iwaizumi just smiled. “Of course. I was getting tired anyway and I knew you wanted to leave.”
Oikawa sipped his tea. “I guess I haven’t been sleeping all that well lately… It’s stupid.” He deflected, a chance to let Iwaizumi to drop the whole thing.
Of course, his boyfriend knew better. “It’s not stupid. What’s up?”
He sighed softly and averted his gaze to the floor. He had to sweep the floors soon. It’d been a while since he’d done so. Iwa-chan was probably going to yell at him for not doing it sooner… “I felt weird… after a while, it felt weird to… dress up like that.”
Iwaizumi remained quiet, waiting for Oikawa to continue. Realizing that Oikawa was either waiting for a response or at a loss for words, he spoke gently. “Why? I mean. I’m sorry you felt uncomfortable but… no one said anything to you, right?”
Oikawa shook his head. “No, Matsun and Makki were fine. I kind of expected them to make a joke about it honestly.” The following pause made Oikawa huff. “Iwa-chan, did you yell at them beforehand?”
Iwaizumi scowled. “I didn’t want them to say anything stupid! You’re already shy about it. I didn’t want them to make you feel weird about doing it or make some, I dunno, crossdressing joke or something.”
Oikawa leaned over and pecked his cheek. “Such a knight in shining armor.” He cooed before adjusting his position. He moved to sit in Iwaizumi’s lap, his back against his boyfriend’s chest. He tilted his head back to rest on Iwaizumi’s shoulder while Iwaizumi’s arm wrapped around Oikawa’s waist. “But no, no one said anything. People looked at me funny though…” He paused. “You… called me ‘she’. Telling them that story.” He could feel Iwaizumi tense against him.
“It was a slip of the tongue. I’m sorry.” It was a genuine apology, if a little awkward. It wasn’t too unlike his past apologies when he messed up Tooru’s name or pronouns in the beginning. He hadn’t really had to apologize since then, so it made sense.
Oikawa tilted his head and kissed Iwaizumi’s cheek again. “It’s okay. I know… But it did make me… aware. Or well, more aware, of what I looked like. My makeup, how my binder showed under my clothes, my hips… even how I move my hands. It just made me hyper aware of everything and….”
Iwaizumi held Oikawa closer and kissed his temple. “There is nothing wrong with how you look and how you choose to look.”
Oikawa gave a vague hum. “I… I know that objectively. And I believe it most days. But sometimes… it’s just hard, Hajime.”
The use of Iwaizumi’s first name made him hug Oikawa tighter, as though he could somehow fix whatever Oikawa perceived as broken.
“I just… I’m better than I used to be. I’m very lucky, honestly. I have you. I have my family. Our friends. I’m working hard to play volleyball professionally. I… I’m not as sad as I used to be. But I still have days where I wonder.” He nuzzles further into Iwaizumi’s shoulder. “If I was a girl, would I be happier? Would things be easier for me? I’d probably still have issues with my body. Like thinking I’m too tall or something. But it’d be different… I wouldn’t have to justify everything I did. I wouldn’t have to worry about how I looked or sounded. I could just exist and I could be a tomboy or a girly girl or both or neither but no one would care. Boys can’t do that. Boys get weird looks when they wear makeup or wear skirts. They get slurs thrown at them, they get hurt… I’m lucky that I’m safe, Hajime. But sometimes it’s so tiring to be scared all the time…”
Iwaizumi rubbed Oikawa’s back as he spoke, sighing softly. “I’m sorry, love.” He didn’t know what else to say. Society was dumb, wrong, too old fashioned, too comfortable with its perceived norms. That was a given. He didn’t know what to tell Oikawa to make him feel better, to make him comfortable, to make him okay in his own skin and however he chose to decorate it. “If it’s any consolation… I’m glad you’re not a girl. Otherwise I’d have to have a straight-panic.” He joked, trying to lighten the mood. It worked; Oikawa scoffed and kissed his cheek.
“Iwa-chan would fall for me no matter what gender I was.”
Iwaizumi couldn’t disagree. Instead he said, “Don’t flatter yourself.” They both knew though. He pulled back just enough to look Oikawa in the eye. “But I do love you. And I know that what you’re going through sucks. And I know I can’t relate to it but I can try my best to understand it and do what I can to make it easier for you to be you. If that takes telling all of our friends and families to shut their mouths about what you wear or how you dress, then so be it. I’m on your side. Always have, always will. I’m your ace.” He gave a sheepish smile and Oikawa rubbed his eyes to hide his tears.
“You’re my ace.”
Even if Iwaizumi couldn’t relate exactly, he was willing to listen and work with him. That was more than enough.