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The first sight Iwaizumi has of Oikawa is neither small nor intimate, painted across a canvas as wide as the skyline itself. It is the December after Iwaizumi’s last year in university when Tokyo welcomes him with an ad campaign for Bright Days toothpaste, and Oikawa Tooru—fresh off a run at the 2016 Summer Olympics—has decided to grace the city with his signature grin, a flip of his wayfarer sunglasses, and the most irrepressible tag line for the signboard above. ‘Are you in love with me?’ it reads, Oikawa taunts, and Iwaizumi can only find the whole thing a pointless exercise in the usual flirtations. When he stares down at the address Oikawa’s texted him, he mourns the thought of a quiet lunch at a quiet coffee shop this afternoon, remembers that he should definitely, absolutely know better by now, and takes his phone out to give an answer—i would never fall for you in a million years, he types out in harshest reply, before deciding against it.

Oikawa calls a few seconds after that anyway, because he's always had a penchant for disturbing the peace. Iwaizumi lets it ring a few times before picking up, curses made before answering him. “What do you want?” he says, no matter how much he's thought about not picking up at all. “Did you make me come all the way to see up your nostrils?” 

Don't be vulgar, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa insists on the other end of the line. It sounds like he's somewhere crowded. “That's the last time I show you any of my commercials!”

“Sounds good. Could you put that in writing?” Iwaizumi stares up at the billboard again, clicking his tongue along the way. Tch. He blinks when he feels the snow hit his face, and he realizes he's forgotten to check the weather today. Still, despite the incoming flurry, Oikawa’s billboard still shines through the season’s first snow; a gaggle of schoolgirls (and boys) praise the Olympic star and snap pictures, disregarding anything about a potentially white Christmas, or any proper winter in the city. The only whispers that circulate are about Oikawa's recent rise in popularity, his perfectly disheveled hair, that dreamy smile, and the theories that he could be a drama idol when he retires. A shiver crawls up Iwaizumi's spine at the thought, past any propensity to swoon or fall under his spell, and he rolls his eyes until they sting from the non-blink.

“Iwa-chan, are you even listening to me?” he asks, and Iwaizumi tears himself away from the poster above.

“Sorry, no.”

“Did you get caught staring?” Oikawa laughs over the line.

Iwaizumi scowls into his phone.

“No, but did you hear about the story about the boy who bought a train ticket going back the way he came?” he asks, tempted to leave altogether. When he watches another stream of people invade the crosswalk, salarymen and students alike, he remembers why Tokyo’s never been something of an ideal for him. Oikawa Tooru would only be a bullet point on an endless list of reasons, with too much noise and too many people rounding out the rest, so he has to wonder why he's even gone through the trouble of coming here in the first place.

I’m kidding, I'm kidding,” says Oikawa. “But really! I'm on my way to meet you right now,” he sounds like he's in a rush, “and you might not recognize me right away, but please stay where you are and I'll come get you.”

“What? Come get me? I don't need you to, just tell me where you actually are and I'll find it.”

“Too late!”

Iwaizumi feels a tap on his shoulder, and hears his phone blip in a hang-up on the other end of the line. He turns and immediately recognizes Oikawa Tooru in the shoddiest disguise, complete in a black beanie with a pom pom on top, a plain flu mask, and the horn rimmed glasses he's worn since high school. “Oh,” Iwaizumi says, thinking he looks more like a mess than a master of deception, and Oikawa just slumps his shoulders over the non-reaction.

“You recognized me.”

What?” Iwaizumi asks. “Course I did. You think something like that could fool me?”

Iwaizumi comes closer. They don't meet to hug or high five or make any big deal about their long-awaited reunion, but when Oikawa squints in what Iwaizumi assumes is a smile, he immediately remembers why he's made the trek out here in the first place. He reaches into his duffle bag for Oikawa’s Christmas present, thinking this’ll make up for that stupid fight they had two weeks ago, and tells himself there won't be any harm in giving it to him early, anyway. He thinks of saving himself the unnecessary sentimentalities, and that maybe that was another reason to dodge Tokyo for the winter season; things always felt gentler for some reason around this time, closer like hitting an old bruise on a coffee table corner he thought he knew how to avoid by now. Iwaizumi decides he could do without this insignificant twinge (because twinge might be the word at this point), and wonders how much flack he'd get for staying less time than he's already promised.

“Hey, isn’t that Oikawa Tooru?”

“What? No way!”

“Well, get a better look! It's definitely him!”

But no chance comes to propose the idea, or deliver any presents. One of his fans in the flock points Oikawa out in no time, no thanks to his shitty excuse of a ruse, and a crowd starts to emerge at the edge of the crosswalk.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa whispers, yanking his flu mask down with the hook of his finger. Iwaizumi gets to see the smile curl across his face this time, the clever sort not unlike the one plastered to the sky, and lets the old senses kick in.

Ready?

Ready. 

“One...two...” counts Oikawa, like Iwaizumi might know what he’s up to, and sets off running before he even gets to three. The both of them set off across the street, dashing off like their days of yore at Seijou, and run until they're out of breath and laughing. Iwaizumi pretends not to notice how big Tokyo is, and how conquered he feels by the depths of it. Still, street after street, avenue after avenue, they go until they make it to a narrow alleyway on the outskirts of Shibuya, snow still blanketing over the city, and Iwaizumi comes up close to greet Oikawa. Iwaizumi takes the liberty of sling-shotting the flu mask against Oikawa’s face, and notices how his hands make the most minute contact across his best friend's cheek before parting.

When Oikawa takes it with the utmost grace, head turning to side, glasses just the slightest bit fogged from the cold, Iwaizumi feels the need to step back from it all. He lets himself lean back on the opposite wall, sights set at his scuffed up sneakers, the gathering snow at his feet, the visible breath he'd like to have back. Still, he doesn't run away from it, whatever he knows is coming, and just braces himself for the oncoming season.

“Hi, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa finally gets to say, and Iwaizumi stares back up to see him. He grins.

“Hey, Oikawa.”

The smile across Oikawa’s face is small, but legible, and Iwaizumi thinks it looks better than any he's shown the city.

 

 

 


 

 

THE GRAND KING FAN CAFE
Celebrating everything about our favorite Olympic star~ Remember to read the forum rules and keep things clean!

 

anonymous [10:15AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…
Hi, does anyone know what's up with him lately? He hasn't made a public appearance in weeks and I haven't seen him post here...he left us a very cute holiday message last year and I'm worried he has the blues...T^T

 

mimi [10:17AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
Maybe his girlfriend dumped him? It's no fun being alone on the holidays hehe…it’s okay, Tooru-kun! I'll sing Christmas songs with you this year! Keep fighting on!

 

knee-chan [10:18AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
I hope his knee isn't acting up again (because it really could just be his knee. Nothing else. He complains about it on twitter sometimes...so why must we all assume he's dating a girl?)

 

MTSUOI [10:19AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
Are you suggesting he could be seeing someone else...I mean, he's always been fairly close to his friend, that blogger...oh what's his name? Matsukawa-kun?

 

knee-chan [10:19AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
You again? You conspiracy theorists always know how to push your agenda, don't you? I’m saying it could be anyone else. I heard he's been running around the city, going into weirdo shops you'd never see him go to in a million years. Rumor has it he's been eating a large amount of agedashi tofu…some kind of new diet?

 

anonymous [10:21AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
I heard that, too! Plus some music shop he saved from bankruptcy a week ago...and that old comic shop outside Akihabara? Wah! Is Tooru-kun having a hard time lately? Please cheer up, grand king, don’t be so sad...

 

no name [10:37AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
You know, all this behavior started when that billboard went up two weeks ago...it must be cursed, or something. I hope nothing else bad happens…

 

what? [10:38AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
no way...


Not Hanamaki [10:38AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
spooky 

 

Mattsun [10:39AM JST] | Subject: the melancholy of oikawa tooru-kun…(cont.)
tell me about it. totally gives me the chills

 

anonymous [11:57AM JST] | Subject: WAIT!
You might be wrong about it being cursed! A bunch of my friends just spotted him right across the street from his toothpaste ad in Shibuya, in some really weird disguise (I thought it looked cute though, hehe). Apparently he seemed to be in high spirits...he met up with another guy...and he looks kinda familiar, but I can’t remember why. Anyway, please see the picture attached. And be careful out in that snow, everyone!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

“You’re going to have to explain it one more time, this whole billboard nonsense.”

“Oh, why don't we eat first? You must be hungry, right?”

“I'll give you that.”

With a sigh, Iwaizumi mulls over a menu he still hasn't looked over quite yet for lunch, some small sit-down place in the city where the two of them can finally talk. Oikawa’s taken the both of them to a restuarant he swears is famous for their karaage, and had insisted he was going to get himself two orders and a beer for some long awaited holiday eating. He doesn't though, keeping to himself with a standard cup of tea and an order for a meager cod, and Iwaizumi briefly wonders why Oikawa’s picked such a humble abode for their first meal together. Thoughts of that subside when Iwaizumi orders his favorite—the agedashi tofu, extra silky and golden—and the waitress tells him it's actually their specialty.

"Oh?" Satisfied, Iwaizumi puts in an extra order, notes the commemorative plaque on their wall for Tokyo’s Best Agedashi Tofu, 2017, and looks to Oikawa, who's too busy staring out at the building snow to notice.

“Did you know about this?” asks Iwaizumi, pointing to the other end of the room.

Hm?” Oikawa casually glances over. “Oh, no. Must be your lucky day, Iwa-chan. Sad about the karaage, though. I must've gotten the streets confused.”

Iwaizumi shrugs. “All right, then.” He remembers his previous questions, making sure not to let Oikawa distract him from them. “Wait, no. Enough about the tofu—”

“Keep talking about it, if you need to. I know nothing can keep you from your one true love, agedashi—

“Oh, shut up,” Iwaizumi says. “Just—I don't know, explain it to me one more time. How did your face end up on a billboard?”

Oikawa hums, leaning his head over a propped palm, his fingers drumming along a cheek. "I mean, it's not a very interesting story."

"I don't care. I want to hear it."

"Fine." Oikawa looks for a place to start, eyes rolling up to the ceiling. “Well, it was two weeks ago, after our fight, and I was looking for a way to kill time in between practices," he says, taking a sip of his tea and shrugging. “I was also eyeing a new pair of shoes, and some nets for the court behind my place, so I figured why not to the extra income. They had been trying to recruit me for months, anyway. You should've heard how happy they were to hear that I finally said yes.”

“Our fight, huh?" 

“Yep.”

Iwaizumi scoffs. The fight. He remembers the fight. He had found it the insubstantial sort, one that he'd never sort as memorable like the great shared blanket debacle of ‘98, or the clash at Kitagawa Daiichi—but all fights made for the slightest simmers during their truces, even if it was just a debacle over staying one day versus three in Tokyo. Oikawa had wanted three, citing that he had too much of the city he wanted to show off, and that they couldn't possibly get it all done in one day, all with the claim that Iwaizumi never visited enough anyway. Iwaizumi had thought he had all wars settled when he relented for two days and one night, right in the middle; but he observes the way Oikawa’s kept silent, eyes glazed out the window, and notes that he might have some work to do.

“I can't believe I'm the reason all of the metropolitan area has to see your face every morning,” Iwaizumi remarks, tries to joke, and Oikawa shoots him a dirty look, more a pout than anything.

“Don't be so conceited, Iwa-chan, or I'll get sick before I even get to my food,” he warns. Iwaizumi stifles somethind resembling a laugh, when the two of them relent almost-smiles, maybe well meant. He notices that there's been more of those ever since they finished their time at Seijou, even if they never really lasted more than a second or so—even if they hardly get to see each other in the first place—and Iwaizumi surmises if this is a part of growing up.

"Snow's really building up out there," Oikawa observes. "Mind if we speed things up today, then? I have a few errands to run."

"I don't mind." 

Iwaizumi keeps a close watch on him. He thinks that Oikawa can feel it too—he probably does, because it’s Oikawa, and he notices everything much in the same way Iwaizumi’s learned to observe Oikawa over the years. He notices the way he fidgets with the chopstick wrapper on his side of the table, and the excessive way he presses those glasses back up his face. Iwaizumi thinks about scolding him about it (‘you're gonna leave dents in the bridge of your nose’) before deciding that Oikawa can probably live without his pestering.

“Hey, can you turn the TV on? " an elderly patron calls with the clap of his hands. "I wanna hear about the weather. Heard the city might get a big storm this year.”

Oikawa looks over his shoulder to watch one of the cooks flip through channels on an old television set in the corner.

“Speaking of TV, there's talk about commercials for the spring,” he lilts, trying not to seem too proud about it. “They say I'm the perfect candidate for this new toothpaste called sweet mint,” comes the most pronounced English Oikawa can muster, and Iwaizumi can't help but give up a frown. A few onlookers shake their heads on the side, too. Secondhand embarrassment is the devil, Iwaizumi thinks, and he's met the devil one too many times.

“Are you going to do it?” he asks in turn anyway, sipping at his tea. It doesn't take long for the food to arrive after, and the two of them make small prayers before breaking their chopsticks. Oikawa hums out in turn, noncommittal, flipping his utensils with the twirl of his fingers. He always does this when he's not hungry—finicking endlessly at the placemats and ripping up wrappers—and Iwaizumi can only wonder how many table settings Oikawa's destroyed over the years.

“It's already booked for the day after Christmas, so yeah, but...hm. I don't know,” he answers in something resembling a dream, like he might still be pondering about it in that wild head of his. “I mean, I guess they're not very hard to do, and it's not like anyone really gets to see me.”

Iwaizumi stops himself from taking the first bite of his tofu, as much as he'd like to savor it. “All of Tokyo gets to see you, though. If you do that commercial, it'll be all of the country, if you're not careful,” comes his rebuttal, when he reminds himself, again, that it's not a good look to dote. 

“Everyone likes a good show,” it doesn't take long for Oikawa to counter, as pleasant as ever, “and a winning smile, which I’ve got. That's all. It's really not that hard, Iwa-chan. I just show them what I want to show them.”

When Iwaizumi loses his natural tendency to scold, Oikawa just claps his hands together in another prayer, ends the conversation right there, and blesses his meal again for good measure. “Itadakimasu,” he says, all singsong, and a little too loud once again. He doesn't touch his food afterwards, leaving a slice of fish right between dropped chopsticks.

“Maybe there are just some things I'll never understand about the city,” Iwaizumi concludes, not completely at ease, but he thinks to let it go for the moment. “But I guess I should get used to it. Big cities and all.”

“Used to it?” Oikawa asks.

“Used to it," Iwaizumi repeats.

Oikawa freezes for a moment, looking down momentarily at his sad little cod before proclaiming, let's not talk about that. Moving all your stuff must've been busy, and you must be tired of all that.” He says this like a hotel receptionist, chirpy and ever-courteous, hospitable yet quietly hostileand Iwaizumi can only agree to the idea.

Partly, however, Iwaizumi must feel inclined to agree with Oikawa. It had been a couple of busy months packing for him in Fukuoka, devoid of his closest friends, and he'd rather spend the time with them now. Time to dig in, at least, and he tells himself the funny feeling in his stomach is hunger. Oikawa keeps his sights close for Iwaizumi’s first bite of his favorite, and lights up when he inevitably must admit, “this is the best agedashi tofu I've ever had in my life.”

Oikawa smiles wide into his glass of tea, swallowing it down with all his sips.

"Sometimes the best things in life are accidents." 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

THE GRAND KING FAN CAFE
Celebrating everything about our favorite Olympic star~ Remember to read the forum rules and keep things clean!

 

neko atsume ruined my life [2:01PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked
Guys. The guy Oikawa Tooru’s with is Iwa-chan. A former high school teammate, I think? You can find old videos about them online if you look up stuff about the Miyagi prefecture local news. I also remember Tooru-kun bringing him up in a few interviews...he always talks about him when he needs an embarrassing story to tell, like ‘Iwa-chan used to eat bugs when he was a kid,’ and ‘he was obsessed with science textbooks with fish diagrams in them.’ I never thought I’d get to see him in person! He's also very cute...

 

mega fan @ osaka [2:05PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
Have you ever seen Tooru-kun’s tweets in the past month? Sometimes he writes them when he’s had too much to drink, like… ‘sometimes i wonder how that high forehead guy is doing…stupid iwa-chan’ and ‘i will always take pride in those extra cm, no matter how far you move, iwa-chan…’ That must be Iwa-chan he’s talking about, judging from the picture! Tooru-kun has a cute mean streak, hehe...

 

mega fan @ osaka [2:05PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
Oh, but then he also drunk tweets super vague stuff like, 'it has to be perfect.' What has to be perfect, Tooru-kun? Your jump serves? Because I'm not sure how much more perfect they can get...

 

Mattsun [2:06PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
a perfect love confession? kiss kiss fall in love (´ε` )♡

 

Mattsun [2:06PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
i'm just kidding. oh, but on the topic of that classic high forehead iwa-chan joke...that's a good one. I haven't used that in a long time



Not Hanamaki [2:06PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
that's definitely a keeper. save it for next time

 

mega fan @ osaka [2:06PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
Who are you two? Why do you two always comment with the most random things...

 


Not Hanamaki [2:07PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
we're the grand king's closest friends hehe

 

no [2:07PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
yeah right

 

come on [2:07PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
liars

 

anonymous [2:06PM JST] | Subject: iwa-chan, unmasked (cont.)
Guys, stop fighting! Back to this whole Iwa-chan business. Maybe it’s a matter of that saying in English, you know...keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Maybe Iwa-chan has wronged Tooru-kun in some way? And he’s exacting his ultimate revenge?

 

no. go outside [2:08PM JST] | Subject: so wrong
This is when you can tell this forum is getting bored...oh, Tooru-kun, please come back soon.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

For a season of all things dead, of sleep and rest and feeling your joints ache when you climb out of the covers in the morning, Oikawa’s never seemed to feel the burden of stopping. Winters with him have always been a lively affair; from first snows to trying hot chocolate for the first time, or sledding trips and snowball fights with Seijou, or the perilous attempts at ice skating (they were always both so god awful at it), Iwaizumi has never failed to spot a extra kind of frenzy from his best friend at this time of year, from the way he taps his feet against the cement, to how his fingers curl up from his sides and reach for the snow. 

“Where are we even going?” Iwaizumi asks, and Oikawa presses an index finger against his flu mask to say that's a secret, so be patient, Iwa-chan.

The two of them crawl out of their post-meal haze by wandering around Tokyo during the day. Iwaizumi can't complain about it, even though he knows the firm difference between athletic prowess and city stamina; it doesn't matter how much he’s kept in shape since retirement, or how much he’s revered the ever-constant flow of cardio, because walking around the metro area had always been more exhausting than anything. Oikawa takes in the marathon with infinitely light steps, like maybe he has always been meant for the hustle and bustle of urban life. Maybe he should be the one to move to New York.

But then again, Iwaizumi can't pretend and say it has been all bad, because Oikawa’s gone and weaved them a Tokyo that Iwaizumi might like, intentionally or not. It starts when he shows him a more low key version of the Akihabara after lunch, a small store rife with rare western comic books and vintage action figure sets (but Oikawa swears he meant to stop by the post office, but this was okay too, maybe). They go to listen to CDs at a music shop, when the owner informs them of a back room filled with old cassettes and records (and Iwaizumi can only perk up because 80s J-rock had been his favorite genre for as long as he could remember). They even go a temple, not one of the terribly large ones, and they make modest prayers in silence (because Oikawa had casually remembered that Iwaizumi’s father had that nasty case of bronchitis a month ago). By the end of the day, Iwaizumi’s warmed up just a tad to Tokyo, toes cold over the seeping snow, the howling sky overhead, and Oikawa just stays as neutral as ever. He just muses something about Tokyo Tower, a modern classic right in their view, and suggests that maybe they should go to see such perfect heights.

“No way! Isn’t that Oikawa Tooru? Who is that with him?”

“Do you think he’ll take a picture with us?”

"Damn it," comes Oikawa's mutters, scathing. Iwaizumi wonders if he's misheard.

It’s not long after that when Oikawa pulls Iwaizumi in a yank, away from crowded streets and prying fans. Iwaizumi can only catch his breath after they’ve run for god knows how long, and they’ve found themselves in an alley of various purikura machines outside storefronts. They know they haven’t quite escaped when they hear voices call Tooru-kun, Tooru-kun from down the block, and they’re forced to duck behind a line of unwitting tourists, past the curtains, and into a photo booth for themselves.

Iwaizumi’s mortified when he falls on top of Oikawa. “What in the hell—

“Shh!” Oikawa puts a finger to his lips, trying not to laugh with his flu mask falling down his face, and Iwaizumi wonders just when he started avoiding his fans altogether. From at least half the girls at Aoba Johsai high school to the monthly fan-signings for Oikawa Tooru, Olympic Star, he’s always been the kind to accept all their gawking, for better or worse and all the passing girlfriends in between, and it doesn’t take long for Iwaizumi to remember all the times he’s held up a practice or dwelled too long in the courtyard to receive love letters and various other tokens of affection.

“Aren’t you going to see them?” Iwaizumi asks. “You’ve always been willing to meet your fans.”

Oikawa blinks into awareness, like this is the strangest thing he’s heard all day. He seems insulted, even, from the way his eyes widen behind his horn-rimmed glasses, the lopsided frown ( a smile?) coming across his lips. Then comes the signature, an upward turn of the nose, and Iwaizumi knows he’s about to get all the shit in the world for it.

“Aw? Are you jealous, Iwa-chan?” he says, predictable enough, and the two of them remain close, anyway. “Do you want me all to yourself?” 

“I’ll fucking kill you,” Iwaizumi insists, pushing himself off Oikawa. When he accidentally kicks the machine too hard in an effort to maneuver, the screen blinks awake instead, prompting them for a series of free photos. You have two minutes to take your pictures, a funny little squirrel mascot squeaks out on the screen, and Iwaizumi swears he hasn’t seen anything more terrifying in his life.

“Iwa-chan...” comes Oikawa, singing the devil's song.

“No.” Iwaizumi is firm in his decision. “There is no way I’m going to do this.”

“But it’ll be so fun!”

“No, absolutely not—” The first camera flash goes off mid-scowl, and their picture ends up being a terrible joke of a holiday portrait: Oikawa’s got this fake crying face on, honestly the most petulant pout Iwaizumi’s ever seen on a person, and Iwaizumi just looks into the camera like he’s just signed someone’s goddamned death warrant. The squirrel mascot blinks to life on the screen again, too chirpy in announcing ‘ten seconds until the next photo!’ and Oikawa drags Iwaizumi to sit down next to him. He lets go in the next instant, but keeps close, already prepared for the likes of the camera. 

“Smile, Iwa-chan!”

“Keep your voice down, unless you want those fans to hear you outside.”

“Okay, we have a deal. I’ll whisper, if you smile.”

“I hate you.” He doesn't. Either way, Iwaizumi complies with a smile of his own, fake and barely there at all, and the camera flash goes off in a dazzle. The next picture is definitely better, but obviously forced, and Iwaizumi looks like he might die from the strain of it. Oikawa’s mastered the art of his pose in the meanwhile, face stretched into a photo-ready smile, perfect, and Iwaizumi has to remember he’s got a billboard over Tokyo for a reason.

“A funny face for the next one, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa keeps his promise, voice low. “It’d look nice.”

What? For your wallet? So you can show your nephew and be like, oh, look, doesn’t Iwa-chan still have the highest forehead you’ve ever seen in your life?" 

“No,” Oikawa answers. Fifteen seconds until the next picture. “And no need to put yourself down so much, Iwa-chan. I like your high forehead.” 

Iwaizumi turns to look at Oikawa. “Then what? We’ve had pictures before together, haven’t we? Why do you need these?”

Oikawa doesn’t answer reply this time. “Just smile for the camera, Iwa-chan. Five seconds…”

“Oikawa.”

I-wa-chan,”he singsongs by the syllables, impatient. The flash goes off again. Iwaizumi knows this picture’s just going to end up a giant mess, and he's right—dissatisfied, even the photo booth mascot cries, ‘ha! We haven’t detected anyone in the frame this time! Please cozy up!’ and says to get ready for the fourth and final picture. 

One glance meets another at the end of the booth.

‘You’ve got thirty seconds, so please make it count! We believe in you!’ the voiceover urges them once more, and Iwaizumi sincerely thinks about burning the booth down.

“Iwa-chan?”

Oikawa takes one look from across the seat, wide-eyed and not sure where to go, before Iwaizumi just drags him closer by a one-armed hug, muttering obscenities the entire way.

Shit, shit, shit.

Oikawa says nothing the entire time, but doesn’t go anywhere either, head smushed against Iwaizumi’s shoulder like he might be complacent enough to lean against him. From there, the smallest movements arise, and Iwaizumi notes their closeness—legs touching, the shift of Oikawa's head—and Iwaizumi registers these seconds as the longest he's ever had to live through.

From there they just wait for the time to run out, three, two, one, smile! and Iwaizumi can’t help but feel something terrible stir inside him.

Like having the weight of Oikawa on him is something he'd like to keep.

Shit, shit, shit.

Too distracted to peer at the screen, Iwaizumi is not even sure if he’s even mustered anything like a smile for the last photo—but he doesn’t get the chance to see when Oikawa tears himself away to collect the picture set, hot off the press.

“I…” Iwaizumi starts, even though he’s not sure what to say. Oikawa just turns around, commercial-ready once more, and tucks the picture back into his pocket.

“Oh, well, we can’t have anyone else see that, can we?” he asks, giggling. It’s a falsity, and Iwaizumi knows it. 

“What?”

“I mean, I certainly didn’t look my best, and if any of these saw the light of day, I’d lose all my sponsorships!” Oikawa readjusts his flu mask, pressing it on over his face again. He pushes at the bridge of his glasses before scoping out the crowd outside, and beckons Iwaizumi to leave without another word. He doesn’t face him, and walks faster up the block than before. Fists clench at his sides, and his head keeps at the ground. He sloshes through the snow at his feet. The storm falls heavier by the second, and Iwaizumi feels the need to say something before it really, really obscures.

For this he opens his mouth, offers the first syllable of his sentence, a question, and is greeted with a finger to the sky instead. Iwaizumi stops. To Tokyo Tower, Oikawa points, and he tosses his head back, as if to say, come indulge me in my whims.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 THE GRAND KING FAN CAFE 
Celebrating everything about our favorite Olympic star~ Remember to read the forum rules and keep things clean!

 

guys. you'll never believe this [5:47PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING 
Okay so...I was on my way to the Tokyo Tower tonight with my boyfriend (I know, I know, typical couple stuff, sue me) when they turned us away at the entrance because they said a special guest was supposed to arrive any time now. I was really mad at the time, because we had never gone (heck, we came all the way from Sendai for this!) and I was about to throw a fit...but lo and behold, you'll never believe who comes by out of absolutely no where. Oikawa Tooru just showed up with his friend - oh what are they calling him? Iwa-chan? And walked in no problem! It was so surreal.

 

knee-chan [5:48PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.)
Did he rent it out the whole place? Can you even do that?

 

green hoodie [5:48PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.)
It seems so. Maybe he did it with all the endorsement money he got recently. But isn't the storm getting too bad to let people get on the observation deck? A state of warning has been called for the metropolitan area because of the storm...hope there's no problem there.

 

Mattsun [5:49PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
Seriously? That's why he wouldn't go out with us for karaoke? Are you hearing this, Makki? I really thought he was just being cheap.

 

Not Hanamaki [5:50PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
Loud and clear. I'm offended. Down with Oikawa Tooru.

 

Mattsun [5:51PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
I feel the same. Look at him, ruining the season of love for so many of Tokyo's young couples...horrible! 

 

stop [5:51PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
You guys are honestly so creepy! What are you even doing on this forum? I bet you're just two old guys sitting behind their computer screens. I'm going to report you to the moderators if you don't stop.

 

Not Hanamaki [5:52PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
Biggest apologies. We mean no harm~

 

Mattsun [5:53PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
We're just joking! We are truly Oikawa Tooru's biggest fans. Please don't turn us away...

 

Not Hanamaki [5:53PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
Well, maybe not the biggest hehe. That might be someone else~

 

Mattsun [5:53PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
Hehehe \( ̄▽ ̄)/

 

knee-chan [5:54PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
Okay, whatever. Enough about that. So, any new developments with our friends at Tokyo Tower? What's going on? 

 

kurimi-san [5:54PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
All right, so I'm at the scene now and apparently Tooru-kun is trying to play it off like he's won the lottery or something. 'Oh, what a huge surprise!' he's told one of the guards. He's looking at them like he's telling them to go along with it. I think they get it, though I'm not sure what a few grunts and a nod signify...I think the Iwa-chan guy is buying it, though. Either that, or he doesn't really care. He seems like the real simple type, you know? Like he doesn't care about all that stuff - oh, wait! They're going in! I guess it's time to wait and see...

 

green hoodie [5:56PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.)
I pray to the gods that the high winds won't knock them off the tower...it's really getting bad out here, guys.

 

green hoodie [5:56PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.)
Eh?  That's strange. The guards are escorting the two of them out? Did they get in trouble? I'm going to have to listen.

 

green hoodie [5:58PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.)
Hm. It appears that they're apologizing profusely to Tooru-kun now...they're not letting anyone else on tonight because the winds have gotten super bad and they don't want to risk it. It was weird, though, because he insisted that Iwaizumi check out the gift shop anyway (he did), and while he was doing that, he went to talk to one of the workers about it. I guess they weren't really arguing, exactly, but Tooru-kun did look kind of upset.

 

kurimi-san [6:00PM JST] | Subject: AN OIKAWA TOORU SPOTTING (cont.) 
'It has to be perfect.' That's what I'm hearing. What does? What has to be perfect, Tooru-kun?

 

 

 


 

 

 




 

“Hey, Oikawa,” Iwaizumi calls, when they make their way to Ginza instead of Tokyo Tower, illuminations coming on for the night overhead, wrapped around branches and strung across the corners of storefronts. Past the heavy artillery of snow, Iwaizumi squints past it and all the natural senses that say, ‘it's time to get inside,’ and finds Oikawa already up the block, back straight and peerless.

When his hat flies off his head, Iwaizumi is the one to catch it. Oikawa doesn't notice, even when Iwaizumi goes to stuff the hat into his pocket, and knows something's up.

"Are you okay?" he asks, and Oikawa turns around.

"Hm?" he just counters with another question. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"I don't know. You seemed kind of annoyed at Tokyo Tower," answers Iwaizumi. "I'm sure we can just go some other time," he offers, even if the thought of going to Tokyo Tower with Oikawa alone feels odd to him. He's heard of the classroom stories and the night time idol dramas—about how couples usually dominate the area—and thinks about inviting Hanamaki and Matsukawa for next time; but when even that seems wrong, and decides he'd be better off handling Oikawa on his own. He'd really be the only to appreciate anyway, as that annoying kid who used to say, 'I wanna see the top of the world someday.' Iwaizumi thinks that the top of Tokyo Tower would be good enough to see his eyes light up again, past the perfect trees they could never climb, the honorable mentions, and third place Olympic finishes. 

That settles it. Regardless of couple-dom or not—because he's not even sure why he's thinking of couple-dom in the first place—Iwaizumi makes a mental note to go with him next time. 

"It makes no difference to me," Oikawa says, all flippant. "It's a tourist trap, anyway. Didn't you see all those people?"

"Yeah, because after a while, they were all there for you."

"Aw, Iwa-chan, you noticed. Jealous?"

"Oh, shut up."

Past that, Iwaizumi feels the prickle of an almost-hail, a fast falling snow from an unkind winter, and hands the hat back from to Oikawa. He thinks about the best agedashi tofu he's ever eaten, and the limited edition comics, a whole back room full of the music he likes, and the prayers for his father. The photo booth pictures. Their failed trip to Tokyo Tower.

“Hey, but reallydid you plan all of this? All of today?” he asks, like he expects Oikawa to know what he's talking about, because he probably does, most likely does. Maybe, probably, definitely, so.

But Oikawa stares on, blank for a moment, finicking with his flu mask without an answer. He laughs, feet already on the move, and continues down the lit streets. “You've gotten sillier in Fukuoka,” he muses. “Everyone knows you can't conjure up snowstorms! It must all be in your head. I can't even imagine what New York is going to make you.”

Iwaizumi just takes a deep breath, a current of breath to match the high winds. “Something good, I hope,” he says, not satisfied with the answer, but some sentimentalities are not to be touched. So what, if I might miss you? It wouldn't be right, to make a big fuss. So I’ll say I won't miss you.

He keeps his duffle bag closer to his side, remembers the present tucked under his clothes, the most important he might ever give, and knows this isn't a good time, either.

So Iwaizumi just walks on, with Oikawa leading the way. He doesn't for long, though, because they've always found a way to stand on equal ground. Setter and an ace, from Tokyo to Fukuoka to the next place, past national stages and informal retirements and the tiniest photo booths, and Iwaizumi finds himself at enough ease to put the rest of the city away. In a world of their own, always to some fleeting place, too finicky to stay still or pinpoint, Iwaizumi lets himself catch reprieve anyway. 

“Hey, Iwa-chan.”

“Yeah?”

“Looks like the snow is picking up pretty badly,” Oikawa finally concedes, shoulders slumping like he's lost a match at finals. “The trains might stop if we don't get on soon. Wanna go back?”

“Sure, but only if you promise there won't be ten boxes of toothpaste at your doorstep waiting for us.”

“Oh, don't be silly, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa just tells him. “They already delivered those to me a week ago.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GRAND KING FAN CAFE
Celebrating everything about our favorite Olympic star~ Remember to read the forum rules and keep things clean!

 

MODERATOR [5:47PM JST] | Subject: To Tokyo fans (Be careful out there!)
Hey all - as much as we’d like to keep talking about Oikawa and his hijinks with Iwa-chan (and I’m aware some of you saw them running around the city today), please refrain from posting if it means you won’t be watching where you’re going! The snow is getting really heavy out there, and you’ll be sorry if you don’t get the last train...hopefully there are no power outages, because that means no posting (and Tooru-kun giving us his x-mas message!!)

Anyway, stay safe out there (◕‿◕✿)!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Oikawa couldn't be any more wrong about the boxes. When the two of them arrive at his house in the Tokyo suburbs, a high walled place that's a decent walk from the train station, a tower of packages from Bright Days Incorporated looms tall to greet them, each of them presumably filled to the brim with godforsaken dental products and whatever else they need Oikawa promoting in the future. Iwaizumi stares on, incredulous, as Oikawa goes over to fetch the letter wedged between two boxes: he reads, "for your commercial in a few days. We hope you'll find our sweet mint toothpaste refreshing, yet captivating. We thank you for all your hard work."

Oikawa flips the letter into the snow bank building in his yard. With a shrug, he just goes over to start lugging his fare in, brushing off a coat of snow on the topmost box. Iwaizumi doesn't hesitate in helping too, but he can't say that he's ever expected Oikawa to live in a place like this.

“What happened to the high rise apartment in Shibuya?” Iwaizumi asks, knowing that Oikawa had made a recent move, but never any other specifics. “I thought you loved that place,” he remembers, expecting Oikawa to have moved somewhere, well, more in the middle of everything, because he was always, well, in the middle of everything.

Oikawa flips the lights on, holding the box over his head. “I did, but it gets tiring when you have a bunch of people trying to take pictures of you when you're trying to finish your coffee, or you've just got a bad haircut.”

Iwaizumi gets that (well, maybe not the haircut thing). “Yeah? But what about the neighborhood grannies?” he asks. "Don't they bother you?"

“I guess I prefer the neighborhood grannies, because they don't know how to put embarrassing pictures of me on the internet,” Oikawa jokes, when he decides he doesn't care about the rest of the shipment, satisfied with the six or so boxes they've already brought into the hall. “Anyway, enough about the house! It's comfortable, and that's enough! Crash here anytime, I guess. The real question is, what should we do for dinner? Should I order something, or maybe we can have nabe? I also got an ice cream cake for later, because tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, and all…”

Nabe’s more than fine,” Iwaizumi says, thinking of a specific kind he's accustomed to having in Fukuoka. “Maybe we can do Motsu—”

Motsunabe?” Oikawa finishes for him, practically floating into the kitchen. “Because I just so happen to have the stuff for that!”

“Really?”

“Yep,” Oikawa says. “There was a sale on tripe at the supermarket, so I figured it'd be a good idea.”

“But you hate tripe.”

“I don't...hate tripe.”

“Well, you used to,” Iwaizumi remarks, still unconvinced.

“That's the circle of life. Things change, Iwa-chan.” The way he says this runs slow and halting, like a train coming a stop at its station. A decrescendo, if Iwaizumi's ever heard one spoken. 

At this, Iwaizumi leans against the doorway, fingers drumming along the wooden trim. “Do they?” he asks, softer than he'd like, and he almost laughs when he sees Oikawa burrow into his fridge excitedly, coat still on, pom pommed hat still on his head, flu mask on because he must've forgotten about it. He's even taken to crouching in front of the vegetable compartment, like he might be the daikon whisperer, because Iwaizumi’s never seen anyone deliver such sweet nothings to produce before.

“Say, why don't you get settled down, first?” Iwaizumi asks, shaking himself from the haze. “You haven't even taken your coat off yet, antsykawa.”

But Oikawa doesn't budge. He digs his head further into the fridge like he's trying to crawl in altogether, and Iwaizumi attempts calling him again. “Hey. Oikawa Tooru,” he tries once more, but he doesn't answer, and Iwaizumi can only get closer to sling the elastic of his flu mask once more. “What's wrong?” he inquires. When he ends up in a crouch next to Oikawa, closer to him than he has been all day, he realizes the trouble he has lifting the back of his hand from his best friend’s face, the warmth of his cheek; but Oikawa doesn't flinch, eyes lowering like he can't bear to keep staring at the fridge light. He turns his head, barely an inch, and Iwaizumi feels his hand graze the surface of his heated skin.

“I realized I don't have kombu stock,” Oikawa says simply, voice low. “That's your favorite, right? How could I not have kombu?”

Iwaizumi folds his face into a frown. He takes his hand off of Oikawa's face. “Kombu? I don't care what base you're going to use. When have I ever been picky?” He latches onto one of his sleeves, grip making a light tug. “Now, get your head out of that fridge, you idiot, before you get yourself sick—”

No, not until I figure a way to make this nabe work, because it's your favorite kind and it has to be perfect—”

“Oikawa.” 

Oikawa shoves his arm out of the way. “Iwa-chan.” The name is said like a staccato.

Iwaizumi backs away, but not enough to not to be close, and Oikawa peels back the layers of his disguise. A flu mask meets an untimely end on the ground, and his hat loses its place on his head. Oikawa even yanks off his glasses, because it's not like he even needs them all the time, and hangs them by the v-neck of his collar.

“What's up with you? What's up with all this talk about favorites?” Iwaizumi asks, because it's clear. It's clear Oikawa’s upset about something. He watches the way his lip trembles, the rapid way he blinks, like he's trying to shoo something away, that smile because he can't believe he's worked up over whatever he's worked up over. A lopsided, ugly mess.

Swallowing down something dry, Iwaizumi prepares himself for whatever this is, and reminds himself that he can handle this. He can handle him. At this point, he knows it's more than just handling him.

“What's wrong with being nice? You're my oldest friend, aren't you?” Oikawa feigns, voice all controlled, chilly. It stings in something Iwaizumi can't place.

“You're still mad at me about the two days thing, aren't you? And this is some weird game you're playing—” 

Mad? Iwa-chan, no, I—”

“Because you've been really nice to me all day, and I know it just hasn't been an accident, and I don't want to go to New York without knowing what's wrong and—

“Stop.”

“How am I going to know, though? How am I going to know, when I'm all the way in New York and—”

“Stop saying New York!”

Iwaizumi feels the burn in his exhale. “What?” he breathes out.

“You know." 

“I don’t,” Iwaizumi insists, half a lie. He might know. He might know, but god knows how tired he gets of guessing. From there, a beat of silence emerges, as clean as snow falling in the dead of night, and he resigns himself to wait for it, for better or worse. 

“You're leaving for New York, Iwa-chan.” 

Iwaizumi swallows down, dry. Oikawa takes a deep breath.

"Oikawa."

"Don't. It's fine. It's fine, Iwa-chan—"

A sympathetic god sends his regards when the power goes off not long after that, and the fridge flickers off and robs them of the only light in the room. Iwaizumi feels the odd urge to come closer again, because now would be the time, please put your weight on me again, but he doesn't dare this time. 

“You knew this was happening for a year. You cheered me on. You told me to go," Iwaizumi says, nothing but silhouettes in front of him. On the ground, he feels Oikawa’s hand come over his in the darkness, and his heart leap up into his throat. 

“I never said anything about not wanting you to go.” 

“Then, what?”

There’s silence, followed by an audible gulp, but Oikawa says nothing else. Their hands come off each other’s when a rapid knock comes at the door. A few laughs ring out about the stacked boxes of toothpaste outside. Shit. He forgets Hanamaki and Matsukawa were supposed to come over this evening.

“Coming!” yells Oikawa, avoiding all other talk about New York. He feels his way to the counter by the wall, guided by the small moonlight from the window, and shakily goes after the flashlight he keeps in one of the drawers. It doesn’t take long for Iwaizumi to pick himself off the ground too, and to find a candle to light the way. When he feels his knees shake under him down the hall, like he might just collapse right there on the spot, because god he’s fucking dizzy, he shouldn’t be this dizzy, he just thanks his lucky stars for the cool darkness. He collects himself well enough by the time he reaches the front door, and welcomes Hanamaki and Matsukawa like nothing could possibly be wrong.

“We're here with the beer delivery, and the American kind for a proper send-off,” Matsukawa proclaims, and Hanamaki holds up the shadow of a peace sign. "Is there an Iwaizumi Hajime at this residence?" he asks, the two of them pretend to look around.

In turn, Iwaizumi just waves like an idiot, but his hand crumples into a fist when it still feels hot from a certain touch. "Hey," he says, but it's a dull hello, and Matsukawa comes closer to tap him against the forehead for any signs of fever. Iwaizumi just waves him away, but mostly on the off chance that he might have one at this point.

“Perfect,” Oikawa, beside himself, pretends to laugh and yanks the two of them in for the festivities. "Just right." With a twitch into something pleasant, that Oikawa-brand composure, he ushers them up the hall, voice light in complaining that they shouldn't have bought another Christmas cake for the occasion. He rises up on the balls of his feet, back tensed and ready to pounce. Pleasant. Perfect. Everything is just fine! Iwaizumi hates the look of it, but keeps on, and waits for him to meet him in the eye.

From behind the blockade of two old friends, their well-meant teases and endless jaunts, Oikawa peeks over his shoulder, finds Iwaizumi with something sobered, gentle, restrained, and lets it linger. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You’re going to love it there,” Matsukawa says with his mouth full over a freshly opened box of seasoned karaage, chicken fried to a perfectly (AKA slightly burned) crisp. It’s eight o'clock when four of them, that good old Seijou crew, gather around a kotatsu in the candle-lit dark, play old Christmas music from a phone they should saving for emergencies, and relive that old tradition of fried chicken and soft drinks (now imported beers). Matsukawa talks about his job at the music blog he’s been at for the past two years, and Hanamaki complains about the hell—and high heaven—that is being a sushi chef’s apprentice. Oikawa laughs along with the both of them, but never directly at Iwaizumi, and makes the smallest commentary to save face. He says things like ‘oh, I’ve heard the worst things about their pigeons,’ and ‘I’ve always wanted to try a hot dog with mustard on it,’ and Iwaizumi can only count it as the most vapid sort of conversation, used in times of disguised peril.

"Hey, aren't you two gonna eat?" Matsukawa asks. "I paid a good amount for this chicken, you know."

When their hands touch under the kotatsu, all by the god-honest excuse of blackout darkness, they dare not to recoil, but don’t stay too long, either. This happens over and over, both of them conveniently not hungry (they even say it in unison), but it’s true, how could they be, and Matsukawa can only eye them in utmost suspicion before going onto other things.

“I mean, maybe not the city itself all the time because it’s you, Iwaizumi, but it gets real nice to hike in the state if you do a little exploring," Matsukawa continues on. "You can’t tell me you’re going to die over your books every weekend in school, because that’s just no way to live."  Hanamaki nods in vague agreement, munching on a piece of chicken.

Iwaizumi shrugs. “That’s the plan, I guess.”

“It’s interesting, sports medicine and all,” Matsukawa muses. “I just thought you’d go all the way with volleyball.” At this, Iwaizumi feels Oikawa’s hand tense up over his before letting go. He’s hidden his face behind the froth of a beer glass, and only Iwaizumi can see the frown come over his face on the other side. Definitely not billboard ready, he thinks, part of him trying  too hard to joke, before feeling his own chest sink into the depths.

“Tell that to a bunch of torn ligaments and botched surgery,” Iwaizumi says all a matter-of-fact, when everyone else around the table has a moment of silence for something he’s mostly made peace with. It had taken a good year after that fateful match and airborne crash to able to even look at a volleyball net again, but he had been mostly content since then, helping out at Seijou practices whenever he was back in Miyagi and playing in the neighborhood associations in Fukuoka.

“What do you think, Oikawa?” Matsukawa asks, maybe a little bit past the point of tipsy. Hanamaki flicks him on the side of the head, and Matsukawa mouths back, “ow, what the hell was that for?

Oikawa just smiles though, putting his beer glass down, and shows no signs of strain. He holds his head up high, eyes dead on before flipping his sights to Iwaizumi. It looks easy for him to hold this time, but Iwaizumi can hardly breathe any easier.

"I know exactly what would've happened."

Matsukawa raises an eyebrow. "Yeah?"

“We would’ve gone together,” Oikawa admits calmly, without wavering. Matsukawa and Hanamaki nearly spit out their beers. A hand comes over Iwaizumi’s again under the kotatsu, in need of strength with a grip already firm enough on it's own. “And you know what? Japan wouldn’t have won third place at the 2016 Olympics. We would’ve won first.”

In the next instant, Oikawa loses the will to keep eye contact. The room goes silent again, and it's the last thing that should happen at someone’s going away party, but Iwaizumi’s too wound up to put an end to it. Instead, he just watches Oikawa drag himself out from under the kotatsu, insist that he should probably make sure the house is still in one piece outside, and venture down the hall in nothing but his socks and a pullover he had been wearing all day. Iwaizumi even thinks about going after him, to tell him to at least put a damn jacket on, but feels himself pulled by a vexing thing called eavesdropping.

“Ah, I really messed up, huh?” says Matsukawa to Hanamaki, leaning back and taking another swig of his beer.

Hanamaki looks out to the hallway. “That's why I hit you before, asshole.”

“I blame this American beer. It fogs the mind and makes it impure.”

“Oh, hush.”

Matsukawa sighs. “But really, I thought he was over it already.” He turns, all heavy-lidded to Iwaizumi. “I mean, you know how hard it is to tell with him sometimes. I thought he'd be kinda sad about this when you first told him a year ago, but he was really...fine with it. Oh, Iwa-chan is going to New York, I’ll finally be rid of him! And then all of a sudden, he wasn't. I don't know how to pinpoint where things changed, to be honest.” 

Hanamaki leans over the kotatsu, walking fingers across the surface. “Mm...maybe after he got that billboard in Shibuya?”

Matsukawa shakes his head. “I think it started before that, but I can't be sure.”

Outside, the wind howls in booming crescendo and seeps through the cracks of a house’s horrible draft. Hanamaki shivers against the cold, and looks at his beer like he's made a grave mistake in drinking it.

“But anyway,” Matsukawa holds a closed fist up over the table. Hanamaki does the same. “It'll be sad to see you go.”

“Don’t make it sound like I'm dying,” Iwaizumi says, and he bumps fists with them, anyway. “I'll be back before you know it, and we'll all get to play on some neighborhood association and kick everyone's asses.”

Hanamaki scoffs. “Only if Oikawa Tooru, Olympic medalist, will have us.”

“He will,” Iwaizumi knows for sure, and the other two do, as well. “And then he’ll give us nothing but shit for it one day. Look at my ten gold medals! I just polished them! It's gonna be hell.”

"Gold, huh?" Matsukawa sees right through him.

Iwaizumi nods, trying to disregard the rising heat on his face.

“You seem sure he's gonna get there in the first place."

Iwaizumi lowers himself from the momentary rowdiness, sights downcast once more, and wipes the perspiration off the side of his beer glass. Don't gotta be sentimental about this. He answers honestly, anyway.

“I am. When have I not been?”

Matsukawa and Hanamaki exchange glances once more, something sly they've perfected since their days at Seijou, but Iwaizumi notices anyway. He has to, because it's always code for you'll never believe what Oikawa did this time or you two are so goddamned ridiculous. In this particular instance, Iwaizumi will settle for a mix of both, and waits for Matsukawa to say something about the matter.

“I think he spent a lot of time preparing for your visit, you know,” Matsukawa says in the lowest tones, all in the formation of the newest urban legends about Oikawa Tooru. “I mean, of course he'll never admit it, but we haven't seen him for the past two weeks because I know he's just been combing every part of this city, looking for things you might like.”

Hanamaki nods along. “I believe that. Do you know how many times he asked me about finding the best agedashi tofu in Tokyo? He said, oh I need a chef’s keen eye…

“Well, do you know how many tastings I went to with him?” Matsukawa asks with a high scoff. “Now that's a special sort of hell, if I've ever seen one.” 

Iwaizumi is about to say something before the winds batter the walls.

Oikawa still must be outside, and Iwaizumi gets the bright idea that maybe he shouldn't freeze to death outside tonight, no matter how much he might want to sulk about things.

"Oh, go already." Matsukawa and Hanamaki beckon him to go by he flit of waving hands and damned kissy faces, and Iwaizumi thinks he'll back at them later for it, because it's not like he'd kiss Oikawa Tooru in a hundred years. Not in a thousand, and a thousand more after that.

And that's when he thinks, well, maybe he might in a million, but that's besides the point. Iwaizumi tries to shake the thought of that away on his way out down the hall, determined to exhale the redness off his face, and feints practiced behind the door. I'm not going to miss you. You don't have to miss me. When he realizes he has no disguises worth using, something that's always, always been the case, he decides that maybe he's never really had the sheen of a face ready to fool.

And so Iwaizumi carries this with him. He does what he does best. He will let himself be ruddy, unpretty, all to frown too easily, with a face that might scare a whole prefecture’s worth of children when he's angry. He knows he’ll never get to book towering billboards or prime time commercials because he might have the gall to admit, ‘I hate sweet mint, and I'd never use your toothpaste,’ all said without the pretense of a false smile. He might have the gall to say other things, too, god willing, maybe in another million years, maybe less, but for now he'd really be content with just one thing. 

“Come back inside,” he says to Oikawa in the doorway, with arms wider than usual at his sides, motions honest and willing and too wild to pose. Come back. He waits for Oikawa to turn around, to give him shit in the way he always does, with all the world’s charm, nothing a skim and a ripple on some pleasant surface. Above it all and never into open arms. ‘Was the party no fun without me, Iwa-chan?’ or ‘Aw, did you miss me that much?’ he can picture Oikawa saying, because it's what he does, and what he will do. 

But he doesn't.

He doesn't, not this time, because if Oikawa has ever been right about anything, it's this. Things change, Iwa-chan, and he's proven it time and time again. From the biggest waves, to the smallest steps (and oh, how his steps are small, coming over to Iwaizumi), Oikawa has always proven that he could never be the type to keep still. When he leans against Iwaizumi’s shoulder, his fingers a dance against accompanying hands, not quite held, Iwaizumi knows not to be afraid of it, no matter how great or small these shifts might be. Because things change, Iwa-chan, Oikawa says without a word at all, and Iwaizumi thinks the sentiment’s reached him anyway.

“Hi, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa calls, hoarse but true.

“Hi, Oikawa,” Iwaizumi just says right back for now, because doesn't dare to move. Neither does Oikawa. When the snow continues to fall and the cold hits, he thinks he might be fine out here just the same; because he knows that quiet is hard to get out in the city in the first place, and not to take any of it for granted. 

“Hey, Iwaizumi! The power’s back on! Have you collected him from the doorstep yet?"  

“Coming,” Oikawa answers for the both of them. He is the one to part first, but he lets hands linger for a little while longer. Fingertips graze the softest part of Iwaizumi’s palm before keeping away completely, and Iwaizumi pretends not to notice the separation in the slightest bit; but he does, of course he does, and at this he just wishes he had another million years with him. It's a silly thought, ridiculous, because they're just friends, but it's also not, of course it's not, because he knows it's been more than that for the longest while.

“Come on, guys!”

The lights come back on in the hallway, and Oikawa resigns himself to the house again. Iwaizumi takes his hand behind him, surer than anything as of late, like he should've fucking known, and Oikawa exchanges the grip of it with his own before slipping back into the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Are you in love with me?’ the billboard back in Shibuya says to him, and Iwaizumi can only think, “well, maybe I am,” this time around.

 

 

 

 


 

 

  

 

Matsukawa Issei has always had a penchant for dirty jokes. Tonight is no exception, after a few more beers and loose limbs: under the blaring sound of Christmas music and stomping feet, Iwaizumi just watches him dip Oikawa low in an amateur attempt at ballroom dance, whisper one in his ear, much too close for comfort, and swing him back upright. When Oikawa laughs a second after, it is the sort that breaks across his face, like a chirp of someone failing to keep composure. Not cute at all. Iwaizumi just watches from his spot at the table, the way Oikawa pounds a light fist against Matsukawa's chest, the nonchalant way they're holding hands to dance, the semi-drunken stepping of feet, and he tells himself he is just as content with his card games with Hanamaki (because it's not like he wanted to dance, anyway). The latter just throws his cards down in surrender, hands in the air, when Iwaizumi zones out for the millionth time in a span of an hour, and sighs up to the ceiling that he is absolutely, definitely, and unforgivably bored.

"I want to go outside," Hanamaki complains. "Enough of this getting all cozy stuff. What are we, old couples?" Without meaning to, like a newly formed bad habit, Iwaizumi flicks a glance towards Oikawa. They meet for a moment, before the both of them turn away in the utmost violence. At this, Matsukawa turns the music down and pats Oikawa on the head for a decent dance, letting go just as easily, and leans over the kotatsu to get another swig of beer. 

"Says the same guy who stayed in all weekend to marathon all the Tikachu specials. I couldn't even get you to come find the cat outside," Matsukawa spits out, waving his glass around.

"Manzoku was just fine!"

"Nonsense! He was stealing food from other people's yards. I got beat with a broom that day, trying to rescue him!"

Iwaizumi takes the liberty of prying the drink out of Matsukawa's hand. "Maybe Hanamaki's got a point," he says. "I think our friend here can use a little bit of fresh air."

"Glad we can agree," Hanamaki answers in the most faux gratitude he can muster, yanking Matsukawa by the hood to go get their jackets by the hall. On their way out, Matsukawa just leans on him to whisper (what Iwaizumi presumes to be) more dirty jokes in his ear, and the two of them just hold in their laughter all the way to the door. Iwaizumi sighs, feeling the knots form in his back already, and takes a gander towards Oikawa. Eyes on Iwaizumi, he inhales like the air's made of heavy steam, mouth agape to say something. But he doesn't, and the two of them leave to get ready together. Hands skim in the sway of the walk, almost held, so nearly held, but ultimately settle for the graze of pinky fingers. 

Outside, the snow's lightened up by the most marginal amounts. Some of the streetlights are working, some blinking, some steady, some out altogether, and the other houses up ahead can only say the same. The four of them, two-by-two, keep close on their way to the neighborhood riverbank, and trudge on past unplowed streets, breath heavy and clouded in the storm. 

"This almost feels like Miyagi, doesn't it?" Oikawa asks out of silence, peering up at the snowfall. In wisps, Iwaizumi watches him blink away the snow, resolute to defy the sky itself. 

"Huh?" Matsukawa asks, still languid, and hot enough from the alcohol to keep a jacket slung over his shoulder. "Getting all nostalgic, now? If that's the case, shouldn't we start one of our world-class snowball fights?" 

"No, because Iwa-chan nearly lost an eye one year," Oikawa says, and Iwaizumi remembers the story well. "Do you know how terrible it was, bringing him home to his mother with a black eye? I've never seen anyone more worried, and then Iwa-chan looked like he wanted to cry because she was so worried, and then I wanted to cry because I thought I'd get in trouble, and—"

"Fine, fine," Hanamaki answers on Matsukawa's behalf. "What about the other thing, then?"

Iwaizumi perks up. "the other thing?" he asks.

Matsukawa hums out. "Oh, I know what you're talking about. But that's a game older than Seijou, right? What was it again? Grade school? Right before we split up in the spring for other schools? We spent a lot of time doing that during lunch breaks."

"Sounds about right," Oikawa's the the one to pipe up this time. All four of them come to the edge of an overpass, a neighborhood low-hanging bridge over the riverbank, and line up against the side, four boys—still boys—floating into adulthood together, to watch the snow pepper across the region. It's a quiet affair, but that might be the phenomena of a little something called nostalgia, and Iwaizumi can only take it in and hope to shake off its doldrums later.

"What was the game again?" Iwaizumi asks, knowing full well what they're about to play.

Hanamaki raises his hand to answer. "Well, there were never any rules to go by. We just had to say what we wanted until one of us couldn't think of anything anymore. I want this, and I want that."

"It's easier when you're a kid, because all you have on your mind is candy and all the toys you want for your birthday."

"Speak for yourself," Hanamaki tells Matsukawa. "How is that any different from now?" he asks with a jab, getting his best friend with a soft elbow to the ribs. The four of them laugh, clap for a passing cars that still have the nerve to drive in this weather, and throw their heads back to the wind. Matsukawa even suggests a round just for old times' sake, and start their game accordingly.

They take turns, going from the end of the line to the other—Matsukawa, Hanamaki, Iwaizumi, and Oikawa, in that order—and start small. A new record player. Woolly socks for below-zero days. A dumbbell rack. Kneepads that won't slip. It's a bunch of random items at first, some expected, some not, and Iwaizumi just throws the first thing out that comes to his head. He even makes a mental note to remember them for next year, and wonders if this was Matsukawa's elaborate way of hinting for his birthday (or Hanamaki's, since his was about a month from now). Still, they go on like this for a few rounds, content to let the cars pass them by and the snow fall.

Matsukawa says he'd like a mo-ped at some point, and Hanamaki requests a ride on the back of it. Bored, Iwaizumi drones on about a new game console, and a new pair of shoes, and Oikawa just says, "same," since he's always wearing his down on the courts. 

No one dares to break the chain. The rounds start to take on themes of their own, and they all start listing things off like it's second nature.

Vanilla soft serve. Chocolate soft serve. One of those artificially-colored Tikachu lemon ice pops. A cup of hazelnut gelato, perfectly scooped.

To take a trip to Hawaii. To master the certain cut of a certain sashimi fish. To sleep well on the flight and pass all his classes. To get that jump-serve just right.

("Hey, stop cheating with those and's, Iwaizumi. Don't think I don't hear you.")

("Make me.")

A new cat bed for Manzoku. Daisies, for his mother. Minty cough drops for an phlegm-filled father. A catcher's glove, because a certain nephew just didn't understand the finer parts of volleyball (yet).

To laugh in the new year. To eat well in the new year. To try his best in the new year. To do better, much better, in the new year. At this, because people tend to get lost in their own thoughts, Oikawa more than anyone, he adds one more thing, bewitched like he might not realize what he's saying. (But Iwaizumi knows. Oikawa looms quiet because he knows exactly what he's saying.) 

"To be able to tell him, in the new year."  This comes under Oikawa's breath, so low that Matsukawa and Hanamaki can't hear, and the game continues.

Matsukawa asks for "a safe trip for his dearest friend, Iwaizumi-kun."

"An auspicious love life for their dearest friend, Iwaizumi-kun," Hanamaki follows.

Iwaizumi doesn't answer this round. He's not even listening at this point. 

("God, they're so done for.")

("Just get married already.")

"Why does it have to be next year?" he asks, in response to Oikawa's last want, and the two of them face off like they're the only ones left on this good and honest earth. In the haughtiest non-reply, because he's not ready to make a real reply, Iwaizumi watches Oikawa pick off some snow off the ledge, form it haphazardly into a snowball, and throw it clean onto Iwaizumi's jacket. With a shout, Oikawa quickly declares Iwaizumi the loser of their game, charges off to the other side of the overpass in favor of a new one, and waits the other three chase after him.

Despite Iwaizumi's reservations, the ruse is successful this time around, because Matsukawa and Hanamaki pick up snowballs of their own and pelt Oikawa in retribution for that first sucker punch. They make it to the top of the riverbank in hot pursuit, because they're Seijou kids born and bred, and the hot pursuit is all they've ever known, and it doesn't take long for Iwaizumi to join them, too. Even then, he mostly goes after their former captain—as if a snowball to the face might say, "hey, come on, we need to talk, I know you want to talk"—but he ducks it, nimble, and reminds Iwaizumi that he's played in the olympic games. It goes on like this, this chase across the top of the riverbank, until Iwaizumi remembers he's got a voice of his own, too:

"I'm not leaving Tokyo until I tell you!"

Oikawa just looks over his shoulder, still running, eyes wide in finding Iwaizumi. But momentum does the former no favors, because as much as he'd like to stop, he can't, and what follows is the most spectacular fall Iwaizumi's seen from Oikawa in a long, long while.

"Oikawa!"

When Matsukawa and Hanamaki don't realize what's happened, and Iwaizumi's barely got his footing down on the incline anyway, they send a barrage of snowballs their way, sending him down an untimely end, too. After a tumble down the hill, falling short of the water, Iwaizumi curses out at the both of them with a face of snow, and gets up to find Oikawa; he hasn't been so lucky in avoiding the river, partially soaked by the wade of a half-frozen surface. 

"Oh shit, Oikawa, are you okay—" he doesn't have the time to finish when Oikawa, more shaken than anything, pulls him down by accident, too, sending up a splash and breaking the thin ice of the surface. Iwaizumi has to find everything in himself to yank Oikawa up, to make sure he's not hurt anywhere, and skips the part about scolding. When Oikawa hugs him closer, arms wrangled around his neck, he lets himself shiver, and Iwaizumi, eyes closing, just lets himself shiver back.

"Are you okay?" Iwaizumi asks. He feels a nod motion against him.

"This whole trip has been one big mess, right?" asks Oikawa, barely a murmur, like he's afraid of the answer, and Iwaizumi can't help but be honest.

"Yeah," he says with a laugh, but it doesn't matter, because it's not like things ever really go to plan. "Yeah." While they wait for Matsukawa and Hanamaki to make their way down the hillside, Iwaizumi helps Oikawa to somewhere drier and proposes another round of their previous game.

Oikawa obliges, still against Iwaizumi's shoulder, and starts off with something small. "I want a hot cup of tea," he says, because he's still trembling like no one's business, and Iwaizumi can only say he wants the very same.

"A blanket," Oikawa says next.

"Heating pads," Iwaizumi replies.

"Ten hours of sleep."

"My mother's soup."

Oikawa doesn't answer at first, and Iwaizumi feels the drag of his lips against the bare part of his neck. It's soft, he thinks, especially for a season so harsh, and he hates that he has to pretend not to feel it. When Oikawa answers next, those halted syllables right up on his skin, that sudden change of direction, because who knows what's going on in that head of hishe hears Oikawa say it, out of nowhere. "For you to have the time of your life, in New York," comes his answer.

Iwaizumi doesn't say anything to this in the meanwhile. He parses through Oikawa's words faster than anyone he knows, rounding up the inflections and the annunciations and the way he says New York, tries to understand if what he means is sincere or condescending or a mix of both. Worst of all, Iwaizumi hates that he can't tell this time, chalks it up to his senses going haywire since the fall, the dunk, and the hug, and just goes back to finding his next answer for the game. Shit. Lying in the snow, his mind races with the things he doesn't need (a few new Ultraman figures, a new jacket, a six pack of boxer briefs), the things he might like (that motsunabe Oikawa was talking about before, not for his toes to feel like they're about to fall off, not to feel this way at all), and the things he knows he wants (a good GPA, to make it on the Olympic staff in 2020, to see Oikawa play live, Oikawa). Oikawa. Past all reason, he says it, because it's too fucking cold to dance around it anymore, and if he's going to die Titanic style, he might as well now: "You," Iwaizumi says, because he's tired of not saying it. "You," he says, because Oikawa's close enough to hear. 

"You," he says, because it's not like he expects an answer, anyway—he just hates keeping away from the good and honest truth. It's something he's never been good at.

To this, Oikawa says nothing. Matsukawa and Hanamaki come running to the riverbank, hands raised and waving. They're obviously trying not to laugh. Iwaizumi feels a cheek smush against his shoulder, a certain weight, one pressed more than usual.

 

  

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GRAND KING FAN CAFE
Celebrating everything about our favorite Olympic star~ Remember to read the forum rules and keep things clean!

 

tooru [10:19PM JST] | Subject: It’s almost Christmas Eve, isn't it?
Hello, it's me. I figured there wouldn’t be a lot of you, because there are still some areas without power right now, and it’s easier to write these sort of things when you know there aren’t many eyes reading. I've got nothing to do anyway, because my friend's finished blow-drying me off in an empty bathtub in my house and everyone else is fixing up tea and blankets and all that good stuff. Besides, I’ve promised you all a holiday post every year, and I don’t want to break that tradition. So I’m here now, even if I do feel a little blue. (But I guess blue isn’t the word for it. It’s strange. Ah, I’ll probably delete this after posting. My thoughts are all over the place.)

Anyway, this year I wanted to tell you all a story. It’s honestly not a very good one, because I just found a way to put it into words, and now I'm writing it out on my phone, but I figured it was worth telling either way, because this is always the type of season for these sorts of things. I'll call it The Liar, because I can't find it in me to come up with anything more creative. I would appreciate it if you kept this thread free of comments (or at least an abundance of them), because I'm already at my limits in collecting all these ideas in my head.

Well, I hope you all like it. 

 

tooru [10:21PM JST] | Subject: The Liar
Once upon a time, there was a liar. One could say he was the best liar anyone had ever seen, keeping a sort of magic so good that he could trick whole countries with a single smile, a wave of his hand, and a few strung sentences. He had built himself a life like this, from the false tears he cried as a child, to the people he wooed as he got older, and it was clear that he could probably go on like this forever. That was what he told himself every day before getting up and every night before bed, and it was a happy life. He could tell people that it had always been a happy life. No one needed to know otherwise.

But there was this boy named #4. He always knew the difference between the fake crying and the real, always told the liar to stop leading on the people that courted him, always asked for how he really, really felt about things. In turn, #4 was always, always honest with him, even when it hurt, and this scared the liar more than anything. ‘This boy can read my mind! How did he know I was thinking that?’ It was a terrifying thing. At first, he wondered if he could run from it.

 

tooru [10:25PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
So the liar was relieved when #4 said he'd be going to a different town, to try his hand at living away from the neighborhood they had always known. They had never been apart up until that point, and the liar had to admit he was excited to try new things, too. So off they went, because their world had become too small, with no more room left to grow up and out.

In the next few years, the liar would become a star in a new city, and #4 would become one in his. It was a fine balance, getting to see him on random weekends, holidays back in their hometown. He was content with this, but not, at the same time. Because #4 was always on his mind, shifting from the back to the front of it, every bit of him ingrained in the back of his head. Had he grown from those 179 centimeters? Did he still keep a bristly head? Did he still enjoy agedashi tofu? What kind of nabe did he like to eat now? Still, the liar did not say a word about it. He continued to bury it all away, and it continued to grow into the most terrible itch. In the meanwhile, he’d put on his best face and keep going.

 

tooru [10:28PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
#4’s world changed not long after that. On track to compete with the liar on the international stage, he collided with a teammate mid-air during a practice game (a damn practice game!) and ruined his leg for any chance at the games. It was a hard year after that, but he never told the liar to back down. ‘You better come back with a gold,’ he told the liar, right before his flight. 

 

tooru [10:28PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
The liar came back a month later with a bronze instead. It was certainly a bittersweet time.

 

tooru [10:30PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Still, the country began to take notice of the liar after that and for the next couple of months to come, adorning him with all the attention he could ever want. Soon whole forums sprang up his honor, and people came rushing to him for endorsements for cough drops and mint toothpaste and instant coffee mix. He smiled for variety shows and public appearances, waves angled better than royalty.

Because it was a happy life. He could tell people that it had always been a happy life. No one needed to know otherwise.

 

tooru [10:31PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
And in the rush of everything, #4 still came to visit from time to time, for summer festivals and afterparties and weekend reunions. But winter had come with different intentions. It was a December when he announced that he had wanted to go into sports medicine (physical therapy, to be exact) because, and I quote, 'there's no use in sitting around and mourning the things you can no longer have.' The liar then heard the name come out of #4’s mouth. New York. It was a place that seemed a million miles away.

 

tooru [10:32PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
(And in a year’s time, it would be long distance, made longer.)

 

tooru [10:36PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
But the liar did not worry about it much at first. He said to himself, ‘well, we haven't lived in the same town for a long while, so what difference would it make?’ This was his mantra for the next couple of months. With it, he'd let himself flirt with girls and go to fan-signings and sign up for public appearances. He'd practice his smiles and lie to the entire world. He'd lie to #4. He'd lie to himself.

 

tooru [10:38PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
For those fifty-two weeks of that year, he would pretend for fifty of them. But in the last two weeks, the beginning of this very month, he got a call from #4 over the phone. ‘I’m going to visit you for a day. Do you have time for a meal? I was thinking karaage.’

 

tooru [10:38PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Just one day. It was then that the liar knew. He could no longer fool himself any longer. This was happening. #4 was moving to New York, and there was nothing he could do about it.

 

tooru [10:41PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
All the liar could do was ask for three days, instead of one. He demanded it, really. They even got into a fight about it, because #4 still had to sign a ton of paperwork and meet his family and get things settled overseas, and the liar insisted there was still so much of Tokyo #4 hadn’t seen. One versus three, one versus three, one versus three. It had been a really stupid argument, one that ended up in #4 hanging up altogether. The liar did not understand something of himself: why he had gotten so worked up about things? Why did he care? Why did it matter if #4 was going to New York or the moon or even Mars? Let him! Let him go! The liar needed to take his mind off it all. 

 

tooru [10:42PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
The liar almost threw his phone into the river that day, but ended up calling a few suitors that had been after his tail instead. ‘Hello, are you the advertising director for Bright Days toothpaste? It’s me, saying yes.’ He figured he could smile for a camera, show the city and the world and #4 that everything was just fine, and move on from this. He’d get his first signboard in the sky, big as a god himself, and be rid of all his feelings.

 

tooru [10:44PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
(Too bad it didn’t solve a thing.)

 

tooru [10:44PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
(Too bad he had to wear sunglasses for the shoot, because his eyes were so red and puffy that he was almost sent home altogether.)

 

tooru [10:47PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
This had nothing to do with letting or not letting him go to New York. There was no ‘let’ in any of this, because they both grown into their own people, with their own goals and dreams and those little wants in between, and it wouldn’t be right for the liar to say, ‘no, you can’t go to New York.’ Because he was going to New York. Because it didn’t matter if he was going to miss him, because #4 was going to go great things in a great city, and it wasn’t fair to hold him back. It was now just a matter of preparing the perfect send-off, of making Tokyo into a city #4 might want to come back to.

 

tooru [10:49PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
In a stroke of unparalleled luck, #4 called him back the next day. ‘I’ll be there for two days and one night,’ he said, quiet in making a truce. Nothing else. The liar could hardly contain himself. He then swore to make Tokyo a city #4 might like, looking for the island’s best agedashi tofu and comic shops, his favorite music and the best view of string lights. He even swore to himself that he wouldn’t stop for any fans during that time, something he always did out of courtesy, because he’d have to make the most of two days, and he couldn’t afford to waste any of it. He kept himself busy, hurrying all his selfish thoughts out of his head, and waited for the day to come. The day to say a good and honest truth:

 

tooru [10:51PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
I love you, I think.

 

tooru [10:51PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
I love you a lot.

 

tooru [10:51PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
I think I always have.


tooru [10:53PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
And so the day came. If he was going to say it, it had to be perfect. The liar prepared himself accordingly: a clever disguise, so that the fans might not recognize him, a secret reservation to a place for agedashi tofu, ingredients for a specific kind of nabe, directions to comic shops and music stores. He even cleaned his new and empty house, just so #4 might know he’d have a place to stay, whenever he wanted to come back to Japan. He took countless deep breaths, forced breakfast down his throat, and texted #4 the directions to his new billboard in the city, to that false and smiling face. ‘Let that be the last time he sees me hide the truth,’ the liar thought, and he had really, really meant it. Everything was going to be perfect.

 

tooru [10:55PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
But that was the thing about disguising himself for so long. At some point, it had become second nature (the worst kind of nature if you leave it unchecked), and the words would not leave his mouth. No matter how many times he told himself ‘I'm going to tell him when he gets here,’ he just bit his tongue and let it rest without saying. From #4’s scold on the phone, to the restaurant, to the photo booth, he would just pretend there was nothing. He'd tell a funny anecdote or make a joke. He could flirt with the best of them. Even past the times #4 would ask, ‘what's wrong? Is there something you'd like to tell me?’ he'd give no answer, even though he was dying to.

 

tooru [10:57PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
And so the day stretched on like this, into the type of storm that left people more silent than ever (because snow has a funny way of falling, a muting quality, that makes you type out things like this instead of speaking them out loud). The liar continued to show him the city, to waste the hours he had because he was a coward. Because keeping his mouth shut was always the easier option, no matter how much he liked #4 in middle school and high school and all the years past that.

 

tooru [10:58PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
But into the night he started thinking that he really should have said something. He really should have said something instead of just typing it all out here like an idiot, waiting for Christmas Eve to think ‘well he's going to be gone in the morning and all you'll have left is a bad photo booth picture and the beer he didn't finish.’

 

tooru [10:59PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
By know, the liar must know this.

 

tooru [10:59PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
You know this.

 

tooru [11:02PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Because you're probably going to miss all of his 179cm, or the way he's had the same haircut since he was five. The way he says hi to you when you're all alone, like he's taking an extra breath to gather it. Because you're going to miss the way he smiles at you when you say you've done something good today, like bring home Olympic medals or when you show him the best agedashi tofu in town. Because it's #4. It’s Iwa-chan.

 

tooru [11:03PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
It has always been Iwa-chan. How are you going to keep Iwa-chan waiting? How could you have waited so long?

 

tooru [11:06PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Shit. 


anon [11:07PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
YOU CAN DO IT, TOORU-KUN



YES [11:07PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
We believe in you!!

 

no way!!! [11:07PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
I KNOW YOU SAID NOT TO COMMENT BUT I’M SCREAMING

 

a skeptic [11:07PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
I don't know if this is real...but best of luck to you!!

 

tooru [11:08PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Shit. Shit. Shit.

 

tooru [11:08PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
How do I even do this? How do I even tell him? It has to be perfect, doesn't it?

 

knee-chan [11:09PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
You just do! Just say it! Ahhhhh I can't believe I'm giving the grand king love advice!

 

tooru [11:09PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Do I get him something? I was so excited to plan this whole trip that I forgot to get him a present!

 

not saying [11:10PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
You don’t need to get him a gift! And it doesn't have to be perfect! All you need is yourself. Now go! Don't you want someone for Christmas Eve?

 

tooru [11:11PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
But it’s not just anyone. It’s Iwa-chan. And I want him past Christmas Eve!

 

Not Hanamaki [11:11PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Then just do it, already, you asshole.

 

Mattsun [11:11PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
How long are you going to keep it a secret? We’ve known for fucking years.

 

tooru [11:11PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Wait, what

 

tooru [11:11PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Really

 

Mattsun [11:12PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Truly idiots in love.

 

Not Hanamaki [11:12PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Hey...Mattsun~ Why don’t we conveniently leave, hm?~

 


Mattsun [11:12PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Great idea~ See ya, later, Tooru-kun~

 


tooru [11:13PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Wait! Wait, guys, no



tooru [11:13PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Stop

 

tooru [11:13PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Please come back. Save me


 
Not Hanamaki [11:14PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
Nope! It’s all on you, now, Oikawa.

 

Mattsun [11:14PM JST] | Subject: The Liar (Cont.)
And we have the utmost faith in you.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

It’s barely a quarter past eleven when Hanamaki and Matsukawa announce, quite solemnly, that it’s time to leave for the night, all by the fault of a storm, the treacherous walk back, and a spoiled tabby cat they surely need to feed back at home. They tell Iwaizumi that they are only about a few streets down, and not to be a stranger to Tokyo, because that would be an absolute travesty, and depart as rowdy as they came in; with a wink and a pound on the back, they say bye to him like he’s just gotten married, or won a nobel peace prize (“we are so, so proud of you, Iwaizumi”), and step out the house trying not to laugh.

To the tide of better judgement, Iwaizumi decides not to chase after them, because he’s already had a hell of a day, prodding around the city and entertaining two old friends, and just settles for waving at them by the door. He screams out that he’ll buy the next round, and they just hold their thumbs up in approval.

“You worry about yourself now, Iwa-chan!” they yell out from the street, and Iwaizumi just scoffs over the things that stay the same. Matsukawa Issei. Hanamaki Takahiro. Cheers to the those Seijou days. He thinks he wouldn’t have them any other way, joking together and as light as some unbothered breeze. He even hopes their cat hasn’t gotten too lonely back at home, and quietly shuts the door behind him in some sort of finality.

Iwaizumi leans against the door until it’s completely closed, not sure where to go next. It feels like being lost in the city again. That is when Oikawa’s voice wafts in, small, but insistent, always insistent, like the old telepathy of their days on the court.

Ready?

Ready. 

With a heavy stare back into a blinking house, blackouts still rolling across the city, Iwaizumi knows it’s time to get a move on, past the things that stay the same, and to the things that dare to be.

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi tries calling. No answer. Iwaizumi assumes that he’s still cooped himself up somewhere, and it’d be wrong to let him sulk away this Christmas Eve. Deep breath hardly soothing him, and hands shaking all the way, Iwaizumi digs into the duffle bag he’s left in the hallway, finds the gift box he’s kept hidden away all this time, and tucks it under his arm for safekeeping. “Oikawa,” he tries again, softer than he’s ever been, and he’s amazed at how gentle it can be. 

“Oikawa.

Iwaizumi’s phone rings in the next instant, before he even gets the chance to look for him. He answers it with a smile stretched across his face, the nerve to be wry, because there’s no use in hiding it anymore. He realizes there never has been.

“What do you want?” he answers. “Did you want to spend the rest of today hiding somewhere?”

Oikawa laughs on the other end, and it sounds like he might break into a cry. “No. I mean, not anymore,” he answers.

“How honest of you,” Iwaizumi says. “Why did you even call? Did you run away? Do you need me to pick you up somewhere?” When he realizes he’s doting, fucking doting over the likes of Oikawa Tooru, he steadies himself against the wall to catch his breath. He bites down on his bottom lip, right before the point of breaking the skin, and waits for Oikawa to tell him.

I’m still in the house. I didn’t go anywhere.”

“Then why don’t you show yourself?”

“Because I’m afraid if I move, I’ll scare myself out of things. So I’m staying where I am.

“You’re ridiculous,” Iwaizumi answers.

“I know.”

Silence hits them after that, and Iwaizumi looks out to the room ahead. He feels the draft come from a crack in the slid-open door, barely open but surely noticed. “Do you want me to meet you, then?” he asks.

“Sure—and I understand getting lost in the city, but I hope you won’t get lost in the house, too, Iwa-chan.

“You’re such a brat.”

Oikawa doesn’t say anything to counter this, but he doesn’t hang up, either. It takes a good couple of seconds for Iwaizumi to peel himself off the wall after that, because he might be just as scared as Oikawa. ‘Things change, Iwa-chan,’ he repeats in his head, over and over until it feels like heat in a hand unheld and a warmth in a house during a winter blackout, and he can only think of keeping on despite it. The house stretches on for miles after that, hallway to den to the high wall of the door between them, and he remembers that distance is only what you make of it. 

“Iwa-chan?” 

Iwaizumi hangs up. When he slides open the door, he finds Oikawa sitting at the edge of a low terrace edge, wrapped in an old blanket and dusted all over from the snow. He hasn't dared disturbed any of the frost, with eyes fixed to the remnants of a winter storm, the single string of yellow string lights he's hung from the hanging roof, and the busy sky above. Disregarding anything about a definite white Christmas, or any proper winter in the city, Iwaizumi watches the way Oikawa’s has been caught unaware, head delicate in tipping to the side, just the brush of an apple-red cheek to be seen from behind, and instantly remembers, knows, why Oikawa Tooru’s the last thing he had wanted to see in this city. 

“You know,” Oikawa starts, making Iwaizumi flinch (and damn those senses of his). “I cursed the storm at first. I scheduled a whole day, and the weather said it'd be clear, but then the snow came. No Tokyo Tower, no time to get kombu stock—all my plans were ruined!" He says this with a shake of a head. "But then at some point during the night, I started to welcome it, I guess. Because that would mean you'd have to stay a little longer. It'd be a better chance to get my send-off, well, perfect.”

Iwaizumi shakes his head, understanding at once.

“Is that so?” he asks. Iwaizumi takes a seat next to Oikawa, keeping enough centimeters between them to place his gift in their gulf. “Well, you might get your wish, with all this snow. Watch you get a week out of me. Maybe I'll never get to leave.” 

Oikawa laughs, slightly insincere. Maybe sad. “No,” comes the whisper, definitely sad, definitely something else, too, and Iwaizumi cannot decipher it for the life of him.

No?”

“I want you to go,” Oikawa says, more a matter-of-fact than shaky, eyes still kept out on the lightened snow. “I really do,” he says with a nod, like he's still trying to convince himself.

No.

Iwaizumi's sure Oikawa already has, from the way he’s carrying himself this time around. They’re all in the minute details that no one else would think to look for, not on billboards or thirty-second TV spots, but Iwaizumi knows them all by heart by now. In Oikawa’s lap, a pair of hands don't try to keep themselves occupied by finicky motions. Shoulders stay level, because they've not nothing to carry. Eyes, clear as day and just the right amount of heavy, stay a dream instead of maddening.

When Oikawa finally turns to face Iwaizumi, it is one smooth exhalation, and a smile into a grown kind of ease. He twitches into the smallest laugh, neither giddy or shy, but relieved. 

“I love you, Iwa-chan,” he says, and Iwaizumi watches him bloom into something more beautiful than the biggest billboard in Japan, a city’s skyline, and the very sky above it.

Iwaizumi just shakes his head, all in the biggest disbelief, and takes a giant, gulping breath to keep himself from completely passing out on the spot. So much for avoiding sentimentalities. 

“Open your present,” Iwaizumi tells him before the air really does leave him, and Oikawa just notices the box on the floor between them. He takes it gingerly into his hands, undoing the blue-green ribbon before lifting the lid altogether.

“There's nothing inside,” Oikawa answers, breath held and head dipped low, and Iwaizumi shuffles closer to him across the ledge, a reassurance.

"Do you want to hear a story?" he asks, even though he knows it's a boring one. Oikawa nods yes.

“Well, to be honest, I didn't know what to get you this year,” Iwaizumi starts. “I was just going to go with the usual pair of knee pads, or a gift card to a place you might like. Because you know I'm shit at this kind of stuff.” At this, Oikawa laughs. “But I knew it was different this year. I couldn't really explain it, because I think it's something that I've had all along, and I don't even know if you get what I mean—”

Oikawa nods. “I do.” He nods again, trying to catch himself. "I do."

“Okay,” Iwaizumi says, trying not to swallow too hard. “Okay, then.” Another deep breath. “Wow, this is hard to put into words.”

“Take your time,” Oikawa actually has the nerve to say, and Iwaizumi feels like tackling him. Kissing him. Nonetheless, he finds the will to continue, brave but smaller than he's ever felt, all humbled by the ebb and flow of his first confession. 

“My gift to you this year is a promise."

Oikawa perks up, face the strangest mix of gaunt and hopeful, mouth trying to form words but failing.

"It's a promise to be with you," Iwaizumi continues. "No matter where I am, or what I'm doing, or how annoying you're being, I can promise you this. We're gonna fill that box with memories, pictures, whatever you want, and we’ll be together. We can even put that photo booth picture in there, no matter how shitty it is, because I don't care that it's shitty. I don't care that's not perfect. Because all I care about is that it's with you.”

Overhead, a snow officially stops over Tokyo. Oikawa finds it in himself to take out their photograph from earlier in the day, thumbs hidden over that perilous fourth panel, and finally lets Iwaizumi uncover it. In the picture, Iwaizumi 's smiling, hard, red in the face even past the flash, and Oikawa's not even looking into the camera. Certainly not his good side, and nothing feigned or posed, only Oikawa remains, eyes on Iwaizumi, close enough to kiss him. Close enough to stay.

So much for avoiding sentimentalities. 

Iwaizumi can't help but laugh because it really is the worst picture in the world, but that's fine, more than fine, because they'll just take a million more like it.

“Well, I guess in other words, if I had to say it—I love you, too, Oikawa.”

The photo is the first thing to go into the box. Oikawa is the one to put it there, all mint condition. Perfectly imperfect.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

THE GRAND KING FAN CAFE
Celebrating everything about our favorite Olympic star~ Remember to read the forum rules and keep things clean!

 

#4 [12:10AM JST] | Subject: (Untitled)
One last thing.

 

#4 [12:10AM JST] | Subject: (Untitled)
Because you're asleep right now and I'm not sure I'll remember to say it in the morning before my flight. The snow’s already begun to melt, I think, like some kinda miracle, and I don't think there will be any problems getting to New York. Looks like your wish won't come true, after all.

 

#4 [12:11M JST] | Subject: (Untitled)
Anyway. I’ll keep this short. I hate being on the internet, and I've already wasted too much time here.

 

#4 [12:12AM JST] | Subject: (Untitled)
You know what you said to Matsukawa and Hanamaki before? About winning gold if I had been there?



#4 [12:12AM JST] | Subject: (Untitled)
Well, we will next time. No matter the roads I’ll have to take to get there. 

 

#4 [12:10AM JST] | Subject: (Untitled)
We absolutely, definitely will.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 








 

The first sight Iwaizumi has of Oikawa is neither small nor intimate, painted across a canvas as wide as the universe itself. It is a new December when Tokyo welcomes him back with another new ad campaign for Bright Days toothpaste, and Oikawa Tooru—two years out from the 2016 Summer Olympics—has decided to grace the city with his signature grin, hand dealt over a blushing cheek, and the most irrepressible tag line for an already annoying advertisement. ‘Are you in love with me?’ it reads again, and Iwaizumi can only find the whole thing a pointless exercise in things he already knows. When he stares down at the address Oikawa’s texted him, he mourns the thought of knowing the city well enough this year, remembers that he should definitely, absolutely know better by now, and taps his phone to make a reply. so what if i am, he types out in the smallest defiance, making no hesitations in sending it out this time.

Oikawa calls not long after, laughing. “Did you see me?” he asks, as if he hasn't dominated the most ad space Shibuya’s got to offer, with other endorsements rolling in from everything like instant coffee mix to new blends of imported beer. Iwaizumi remembers Oikawa’s musings about how in-awe his casting agents were as of late, and their claims that he seemed really, really happy (and how he had just become a delight to photograph these days—"Oh, Oikawa Tooru, you're practically glowing!"). At every claim, Oikawa chalks it up to a new face care regimen, frequent spa visits, and the promise of another Olympics.

Iwaizumi, in turn, only lets himself take some of the credit.

“Of course I can see you,” Iwaizumi answers, staring up at his face. “How wouldn’t I be able to see you?”

“No, I mean...do you see me?” 

Iwaizumi turns around. As if on cue, and because he's probably waited for this day as much as Iwaizumi, Oikawa shows up without the need for a disguise, already on the verge of running from the building crowds that always seek a piece of him.

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa whispers, getting his attention. Iwaizumi gets to see another kind of smile come across his face this time, the sweet sort all hidden to the rest, and lets the old senses kick in. 

Ready?

Iwaizumi laughs.

Always have been.

“One...two...” counts Oikawa, and Iwaizumi already knows what he’s up to. Before that count of three, he takes off, faster than anyone will be able to catch them, and it doesn’t take long for them to link hands. Across the street and through a conquered city, they hold on, past the people and the traffic and the pull of an ever-changing metropolis. He thinks, maybe they’d take another photo booth picture this year. Maybe we’ll eat agedashi tofu again and finally get into Tokyo Tower. Maybe we’ll do the things Oikawa likes this time, because I’ve got surprises up my sleeve, too. Maybe we’ll just end up doing something completely new. 

But never mind about that for now. Iwaizumi will deal with that later. Thoughts looming, they just go and go until they make it to a familiar alleyway on the outskirts of Shibuya, and let themselves settle with the peace of being together.

When a new snow begins to fall across the city, light in its descent, Oikawa takes it with the utmost grace, head on and with no signs of hiding. Catching his breath, Iwaizumi just lets himself lean back on the opposite wall, sights set on the gathering snow at his feet, and remembers to keep a certain, infinite promise: that he’d be with Oikawa for every season to come, and every season after that.

“Hi, Iwa-chan.”

Iwaizumi stares back up to see him. He comes closer without abandon.

“Hey, Oikawa.”

And just like that, Oikawa dares to surprise Iwaizumi with a kiss, small and brushed against his lips. The smile that comes across his face is beaming, bright, and Iwaizumi thinks it looks better than any he's ever, ever shown the city.