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home, and how we built ours

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This, this tiny, cramped apartment in the middle of the city is theirs and Oikawa’s never felt so proud, so utterly elated to call this barely functional, bare excuse for a home his—theirs.

-

Sometimes, the shower drain refuses to work and he has to spend a good amount of time in the mornings distinguishing a wide array of cleaning agents from one another to try and find the drain cleaner. These could be bad days, Oikawa supposes; these could be terrible days if he focuses on how late he is to work every time the drain decides to ruin his morning, if he lingers on how gross it actually is accidentally pouring liquid detergent into the bathtub. These could be horrible days but Iwaizumi usually swoops in, groggy from sleep and barely conscious, at the right time to pluck the correct bottle from their closet.

“Can you read?” he grumbles, and Oikawa only smiles because Iwaizumi’s always cranky in the morning.

“Don’t be mean, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa scolds him, expression still bright as Iwaizumi shoots him a warning look, a look of I’m not dealing with you before resigning, admitting defeat and mumbling an inaudible “good morning” against Oikawa’s temple.

These could be horrible days, Oikawa supposes, but they hardly ever are.

-

Their towel rack breaks—literally falls off of the wall at one of the ends one morning and they don’t bother fixing it. Maintenance is shoddy about it and the guy who stops by ends up tracking dirt throughout their apartment before gluing the rack back onto the wall. It breaks again the next day and Iwaizumi complains about terrible service and how he has to do everything by himself.

In the end, Iwaizumi can’t fix it either because he’s too lazy to find the right kind of glue after three failed trips to the hardware store. He flops onto the couch, defeated, and only grunts when Oikawa follows suit and unceremoniously uses Iwaizumi’s lap as his pillow.

“I like it better broken,” Iwaizumi says in explanation.

“Okay, sure,” Oikawa says, humoring Iwaizumi. The headlock that comes two seconds after is something he’s half-expecting so he’s laughing for the most part, tiny little gasps of mirth punctuating his weak accusations of Iwaizumi being a bully.

“Fix it yourself, Shittkyawa!” When Iwaizumi’s grip loosens, Oikawa can crane his head to see the red coloring Iwaizumi’s cheeks. Embarrassment—he’s probably planning on sneaking to the hardware store again because Iwaizumi doesn’t want to let a towel rack best him.

“Don’t worry, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa replies brightly, sitting up and facing Iwaizumi so he can clasp his cheeks in his hands, “I like it broken too so stop sulking!”

The crashing that happens afterward, the way a whole fifteen minutes slips away from them as Iwaizumi tackles Oikawa against the couch and tickles him until he’s crying from laughter, apologizing for doubting Iwaizumi’s (questionable) capacity—that, Oikawa thinks, is worth more than a fixed towel rack.

-

Cooking is usually Iwaizumi’s unspoken responsibility. The reason isn’t particularly because Iwaizumi’s an exceptional chef but because Oikawa’s attention span is too short for the kitchen and their apartment is one of many in a single building and to risk that many lives for a bowl of fried rice would be selfish.

Sometimes, though, Oikawa tries to prove the world wrong. It’s usually after a fight—Oikawa wants to apologize nonverbally for stress-induced lashing out and he convinces himself into believing that pancake mixes are made for ages eight and up and he’s definitely capable of that much.

He spends an admirable amount of time focusing on mixing pre-made mix with water and ladling it carefully into the heated fry pan. The hard part is mustering up the courage to wake Iwaizumi up, to smile brightly at him and coax him out of bed even though he’s probably still upset.

The doubt, the uncertainty is hardly remembered by the time Oikawa actually makes it into their bedroom. He doesn’t remember the practiced greeting in his brain, much too occupied with the way Iwaizumi peeks his head out from the blankets he’s burrowed himself into.

“Why are you awake?” he mumbles, voice rough, coated with a layer of sleep.

“I—” and Oikawa purses his lips resolutely.

“Come back to bed,” Iwaizumi says simply, gaze squinted as he reaches out from beneath the layers to grab Oikawa’s wrist, to tug him under the covers where he’s supposed to be. He hugs Oikawa’s waist, pulls him close and curls up against him. “’M not mad.”

Iwaizumi’s words are hardly coherent, barely audible mumbles strung together.

“You’re not?” Oikawa replies, quieter, one daring hand reaching up to sift through Iwaizumi’s disheveled hair.

“No.” Iwaizumi hums softly, a content sigh slipping past his lips as his eyes flutter to a close conclusively. “You’re still stupid though.”

“Okay.” Because Oikawa can take being stupid—he can take being an idiot as long as Iwaizumi’s okay with it. And he is, he always is, even when Oikawa tries to prove himself wrong—

“…Oikawa.” Iwaizumi’s eyes are open now.

“Hm?”

“Something’s…burning.”

Shit.

(Cooking is usually Iwaizumi’s unspoken responsibility. This isn’t because Iwaizumi’s a phenomenal chef by any means, but because Oikawa’s sad attempts are usually cut short by the smoke alarm going off and the entire building being evacuated just so the firemen can solemnly announce that someone forgot to turn their stovetop off.

Iwaizumi sighs. He’s gotten used to greeting his neighbors in nothing but a hoodie and his boxers. Oikawa at least has the decency to look sheepish, greeting the elderly lady who lives above them brightly and gratefully accepting her offers of teaching him how to turn the stovetop off.)

-

When their fights are larger in scale, deeper in impact—lingering, Oikawa finds himself at the bar. Home is small. Home is tiny and cramped and sometimes home is infuriatingly suffocating when he can’t fit all of his papers on their dining room table. Home is something of a constant work in progress that Oikawa’s too tired to actually go out of his way to fix but…

“You’re drinking too much,” Hanamaki says casually, gaze lingering on the side of Oikawa’s head in muted concern. “Again,” he adds, like Oikawa doesn’t know it.

“I’m fine,” Oikawa says stiffly, even though he really isn’t and he’s never been able to hold his alcohol as well as his friends for some cursed reason. The fuzziness has been spreading for the past half hour and Oikawa wants to lie down and sleep.

“Must be tiring being in love with your best friend, huh?” There’s a wry smile on Hanamaki’s face as he props his elbow up on the bar top and leans the side of his head against his hand. “Do your fights end up being like—you know, about actual things and then extending into toddler days and suddenly you’re accusing Iwaizumi of kissing the girl you used to like in preschool?”

“It’s not funny,” grumbles Oikawa, trying with much futility to keep his expression neutral.

“Or maybe you start throwing out all of these threats, like you threaten to tell the world about how Iwaizumi wet his sleeping bag on that camping trip in middle school—”

“That was me,” Oikawa mumbles into his drink.

“What?”

“That was me,” Oikawa repeats, elongating each of his syllables dramatically. “He just—he just said it was him because I started crying.”

And fuck, he’s starting to tear up again for no reason—just thinking about childhood days and Iwaizumi’s stupid self-sacrifices makes him want to throw his drink against the wall. He is sorry, sorry for yelling at Iwaizumi to leave him alone, to just leave if Oikawa was such a handful to deal with. Oikawa sniffles.

“Stop crying, you baby,” Hanamaki says with a click of his tongue. “You know Iwaizumi. He can’t hold anything against you.”

“He hates me,” Oikawa whines, words slurred ever so slightly as he buries his face into his hands.

“Good one.”

“Makki, I’m serious!”

“…Good one.”

Oikawa grumbles incoherently into his hands as Hanamaki idly sips on his drink. The door to the bar opens and closes, the indistinct chatter of a group leaving slowly ebbing away to nothing. There’s a hand on Oikawa’s shoulder, grip firm, squeezing him reassuringly. Oikawa pulls his hands away from his face to turn around, to greet the stranger and apologize that he’s taken by the man in his phone background—

It’s Iwaizumi, brows knitted into an expression of concern, free hand jammed into the pocket of his jacket.

“You’re crying,” he says and Oikawa thinks he might sound exasperated.

“Iwa-chan?”

“C’mon,” Iwaizumi says, hand dropping from Oikawa’s shoulder to grab blindly at his wrist. “Let’s go home.”

No, I’m—I’m still mad at you!”

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes, releasing Oikawa from his grasp only to fish a couple of bills out of his wallet to slide across the counter. He glances at Hanamaki and tips his head briefly in greeting.

“Sorry about this mess,” says Iwaizumi teasingly.

“I’m just here as the comedic third party,” Hanamaki says with a grin. “Have a safe trip home and don’t cause a scene without me there to document it.”

Oikawa huffs, resolutely resisting Iwaizumi as he tugs him out of his chair by the sleeve of his jacket. He wants—he wants Iwaizumi to stop acting like their argument didn’t happen. Most importantly, he doesn’t want Iwaizumi to drag him around by his jacket sleeve; he wants to be holding his hand.

And almost instantly, Iwaizumi’s hand finds Oikawa’s, clasping it firmly without lacing their fingers together. They exit the bar like that, with Oikawa’s cheeks and eyes still red and Iwaizumi’s gaze set forward instead of back.

“I hate you,” Oikawa announces as the door to the bar closes behind them. It’s still a little chilly outside but his pride, even when muddled by the lingering effects of alcohol, knows no limits. He doesn’t make any move to inch closer.

“Yeah?” Iwaizumi replies nonchalantly. “That sucks. I don’t hate you.”

“What?”

“What?”

“S-Stop mimicking me!”

“You good to stand? Want me to carry you on my back?” Iwaizumi’s tone is effortlessly mild, level in every way as he carelessly tangles their fingers together. He squeezes Oikawa’s hand and tugs him forward so they’re walking shoulder-to-shoulder instead of Oikawa trailing behind him half-a-step.

“Stop making fun of me.”

“I’m not,” Iwaizumi replies, still looking forward—still not looking at Oikawa. “I wasn’t kidding.”

They slow to a stop. The sidewalk is empty and the layer of self-induced fog that Oikawa’s been wearing is ebbing away as the chill settles in his bones. There’s hardly any light save for a few flickering street lamps. He doesn’t need that much light to see that Iwaizumi’s finally, finally looking at him.

Iwaizumi stares at him, stares into his eyes resolution, expression set in one of determination.

“I don’t hate you,” he says sternly. “In fact, I love you. And I know sometimes I’m an asshole and I tell you you’re annoying and stupid and I don’t want to deal with your shit—and, okay, well, sometimes I’m not lying about that but…”

He reaches up and cups Oikawa’s cheeks in his hands, smooshing them together without warning. Iwaizumi’s hands are warm though and Oikawa can’t even find himself voicing a complaint.

“You better remember this in the morning but I love you,” Iwaizumi repeats, “and I’m an asshole but I don’t want you to fucking leave or cry by yourself because I’m an asshole. I’m sorry, okay? So let’s go home, now. Let’s go to our shitty apartment and get more noise complaints for blasting your stupid SNSD mixtapes. It’s too damn empty without you.”

Oikawa’s eyes are wide. He thinks he might start crying again. He wants to apologize too, wants to stutter out his own defense, his own explanation—but Iwaizumi’s kissing him then, silencing every one of Oikawa’s thoughts.

When he pulls away, he lets his hands drop from Oikawa’s cheeks. He takes Oikawa’s hands instead. There’s a faint grin on Iwaizumi’s face as he looks up.

“You’re so ugly right now.”

“Iwa-chan, you meanie!”

But Oikawa’s smiling. He’s smiling even though he’s crying again because he really is a fucking idiot sometimes and he isn’t sure when he’s going to learn that people come and go but Iwaizumi’s here to stay.

-

They have to tape the windows during the winter to keep the draft from sneaking in. Normal tape doesn’t work so they have to buy the ugly kind, the shiny brown duct tape that Oikawa thinks is hazardous to their apartment aesthetic.

“What aesthetic?” Iwaizumi asks dully, crouched by their living room balcony window, armed with a roll of duct tape.

“Iwa-chan!” Oikawa huffs. “Our apartment is…minimalist.”

Iwaizumi looks thoroughly unimpressed. “Our apartment is empty. The only aesthetic I’m feeling is something along the lines of the eighth circle of hell—almost the worst, but not quite there yet.” He returns his attention to taping the edges of the glass, dutifully ignoring Oikawa’s noises of discontent.

“Should we move?” Oikawa asks, plopping down on the floor, using the coffee table as his backrest. “To a bigger apartment in a nicer neighborhood. Maybe we should get a puppy, or, you know, an operational towel rack.”

Oi, you said you liked it broken—”

“We could move…” There’s a contemplative expression on Oikawa’s face as he gazes at the wall, at the weird yellowed stains from tape torn off too abruptly. “Our lease is ending soon. We could look.”

“I guess we could.”

“You don’t sound very excited, Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi sighs, stretching his legs out before him and looking up at the ceiling before looking at Oikawa. “Kind of weird imagining living somewhere that isn’t this shithole.” There’s a hint of a smile on his lips as he shrugs. “We could look. But I wouldn’t mind staying here.”

There are a lot of memories associated with this cramped apartment, if Oikawa thinks about it. Fire alarms and hours spent laughing on the couch as Iwaizumi shuffled in and out of the apartment with bags of tools from the hardware store just to name a few.

He hums.

“Maybe another year here wouldn’t hurt.”

“Yeah. What’s another year anyway?”

-

Their bed squeaks. Awfully.

And it’s kind of funny how Iwaizumi always insists on having sex on the couch because he’s been subject to too many encounters with the angry downstairs neighbors about the squeaking. But after a while, neither Iwaizumi nor Oikawa can be bothered with caring and no one has to complain about aching backs after misadventures on the couch. The neighbors below them move out after a while and the new ones are surprisingly tolerant (Oikawa thinks it’s because they’re empathetic, though he’s making quick judgments off of the one with the crazy bed hair).

Oikawa likes the after, the moments spent breathing the same air in the same space beneath the covers, Iwaizumi’s forehead pressed against his. He likes this part the most because this is when Iwaizumi’s too tired to filter his laughs, his smiles—too tired to do anything but nuzzle closer, mumble sleepy responses to Oikawa’s questions, to Oikawa’s stories starting with “remember when…”

Sometimes, when they’re moments away from sleep and just barely hanging on to tendrils of consciousness, Iwaizumi will drowsily admit that he’s always known it’d end up like this.

“I should have known…” he murmurs against Oikawa’s bare shoulder.

“Should have known what?”

“That—” Iwaizumi yawns. “That it’d always be us.”

“Us?”

“You, me—us.”

Oikawa likes their quiet moments shared in the comfort of their room. He likes listening to Iwaizumi reminisce about high school days. He likes feeling Iwaizumi smile against the junction of his jaw, like his mind hasn’t decided whether he wants to kiss Oikawa or just sleep against his shoulder.

“I like it here,” Iwaizumi says quietly, eyes already closed. His lips are still parted even after the sentence slips past and lingers in the air.

“Me too,” Oikawa replies. “I like this city.”

“No, I like it here.” There’s a rustling as Iwaizumi shifts, inching closer. “I like it here, as in this crappy apartment—with you.”

The words stick with Oikawa even after Iwaizumi drifts to sleep, just moments after he complains about how damn cheesy Oikawa is (just moments after Oikawa kisses Iwaizumi on the forehead, on the nose, on each of his eyelids, and once—lingering—on his lips).

He likes it here too. He likes their testy shower drain and their broken towel rack and their faulty windows and their annoying sink faucet.

He likes this, this shitty apartment where everything’s just barely held together by Iwaizumi’s hardy attempts at being resourceful. He likes all of it—he loves all of it.

“Go to sleep,” Iwaizumi mumbles when Oikawa’s fidgeting doesn’t cease.

“Iwa-chan?”

“What?”

“I love you.”

Iwaizumi exhales, eyes still closed as he wraps his arms around Oikawa’s waist and pulls himself closer. “Mm, shut up.” There’s a pause, a beat of unmeasured silence as a yawn escapes. “I love you too, idiot.”

This is home, Oikawa realizes. This, in all of its ragtag, barely visible glory. This will always be home, Oikawa realizes, so long as the left side of the bed is always Iwaizumi’s and Oikawa never has to wake up to anything but his arms around Oikawa’s waist.

-

 

 


we built this home together and watched it grow.
I told you, “I wish I could have made it lovelier.”
you said, “it’s ours and that’s more than enough for me.”