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“Congratulations, Iwa-chan! You’re a dad!” Iwaizumi hears as soon as the door opens. He’s dealt with Oikawa for all of his twenty-one years of age now, but this declaration is still sufficiently disturbing that he turns from his place on the couch and braces himself for whatever Oikawa has done this time.

“What?” Iwaizumi says and immediately looks for whatever animal Oikawa may or may not have dragged home. “We are not adopting anything,” he says. “You would kill it within a day.”

He sees nothing but Oikawa putting down his mobile phone on the counter as he strips himself of his scarf and coat, glasses fogging up as he comes into the warm heat of their shared apartment.

“Rude, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa says, polishing his glasses on the loose shirt he’s wearing underneath. “Anyway, I’m not the one who has to stop and pet every dog he sees.”

Iwaizumi relaxes incrementally. “Good,” he says and turns back to the laptop balanced on his thighs.

Oikawa drops next to him and props his feet up on the couch arm. He leans against Iwaizumi’s shoulder as a backrest, and it’s through sheer upper arm strength that Iwaizumi gives himself enough elbow room that he can still type. “You’re not going to ask why you’re now a dad?” he says, pilfering the pack of chips Iwaizumi had bought from the convenience store.

“Nope, I don’t want to know,” Iwaizumi answers.

Oikawa pouts. “Well I’m telling you anyway,” he declares, tilting his chin up so he’s looking at Iwaizumi upside down in a position that makes Iwaizumi uncomfortable just watching. “You know how my sister wanted to get our parents’ a cruise for their anniversary?” he says. “Well, she just found a really good deal for couples so she wants to go with the brother-in-law too…”

“Okay?” Iwaizumi says, snagging a chip from Oikawa’s hand.

Oikawa squawks indignantly and stuffs three at once in his mouth for retaliation. “So the cruise leaves this weekend,” he says through a mouthful of chips. “They can’t find anyone on such short notice to watch Takeru, and since I know you love him and you love my family and would do anything to help them out, I said we’d be happy to watch him for five days.”

“Five days,” Iwaizumi repeats.

“Just from Monday night through Friday morning,” Oikawa says.

“Monday as in two days from now.”

Oikawa smiles at him, wide-eyed and hopeful. “It was a really good deal.”

Iwaizumi crunches the chip slowly, mostly to make Oikawa sweat, because he’s right and the Oikawas are like a second family to him. “Well,” he says. “Better watching Takeru for a week than dealing with you cry for a month after you kill an adopted turtle.”

“Rude,” Oikawa sniffs. “If I adopted a turtle, it would be the most well cared for, fat turtle ever,” he says.

“And you’re in charge of cleaning the apartment,” Iwaizumi tells him. “Before  and  after he leaves.”

“Fine,” Oikawa agrees, leaning back more fully on Iwaizumi’s arm and wiggling until he’s comfortable.

“And you’re treating us both to ramen at least once,” Iwaizumi says, flicking Oikawa on the forehead.

“Now you’re just taking advantage, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa complains.

“The last part’s for stealing my chips,” Iwaizumi says, reaching for the bag, which Oikawa holds away from him.

“No way,” he says, rolling over while hugging the chips to his chest. “If I have to treat, these chips are mine.” He turns his head to stick his tongue out at Iwaizumi.

“I can’t believe you’re twenty-one,” Iwaizumi tells him.

 


  

Iwaizumi must have done something horrifically wrong in his last life, because it’s the only explanation he can think of to being subjected to Oikawa, Hanamaki, and Matsukawa as his best friends.

“We are not all best friends, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa protests on Sunday night when they all meet up for dinner and drinks the way they have every other week since moving to Tokyo. “ I  am your best friend." 

“Wow, the betrayal. Then what are we?” Hanamaki says, crossing his arms.

“Fine, you can be best friends with us, but I’m Iwa-chan’s best  best friend,” Oikawa whines. “You guys are already best best friends with each other! We’re like your secondary best friends.”

“I am hurt!” Hanamaki says, throwing a hand across his forehead. “After coming all this way to visit our best friends, we find we’ve been downgraded to secondary  best friends.”

“You live fifteen minutes away from this restaurant,” Iwaizumi says. “That’s closer than me and Oikawa.”

Hanamaki shoves his hand in Iwaizumi’s face. “Secondary best friends don’t get to add comments.”

“I was gonna buy drinks this round, but I guess I would only do that for my best best friend,” Matsukawa says.

“That’s why we’re best  best friends,” Hanamaki declares.

“It’s okay, Iwa-chan is my best best friend and he’ll buy my drink,” Oikawa answers, leaning into Iwaizumi’s arm.

Iwaizumi shifts so Oikawa loses his balance and squawks. “I’m not a part of this,” he denies.

The four of them had all ended up in Tokyo by coincidence, though they also all attended different universities. When Oikawa found out that Matsukawa and Hanamaki had decided to share an apartment, he pestered Iwaizumi for weeks until he caved and agreed to rent a flat with Oikawa, even if it meant an hour commute for the both of them. Still, the rent was cheaper, and Iwaizumi had long ago gotten used to Oikawa’s terrible taste in interior decoration and how his beauty products took up all the counter space, so it isn’t the worst arrangement. Hanamaki and Matsukawa have a flat about a thirty minute train ride away, so it’s easy to meet up on days off.

“Well, I’m not buying a secondary best friend drinks,” Hanamaki says.

“I’m still your best friend even if we’re not best best friends, Makki,” Oikawa says. “Please? Pretty please? Me and Iwa-chan are taking care of my adorable baby nephew—”

“Isn’t Takeru like 11 now?” Matsukawa says.

“Yes. Your point?” Oikawa says. “Anyway, so we have to pay for our child, and we can’t afford drinks this week.”

“Takeru is not our child,” Iwaizumi says. “Also, we’re not staying for drinks because this idiot still has to clean the apartment before his nephew gets here tomorrow.” He looks down at his watch. “Actually we better get going soon.”

“Have fun raising your new child together,” Matsukawa says as Iwaizumi throws Oikawa’s coat at him and gets to his feet.

“Pictures! Send pictures so we know he’s still alive,” Hanamaki adds.

“Um, excuse you. I am the best parent!” Oikawa protests as he wraps his scarf around his neck.

“Oh, not the best best parent?” Matsukawa asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Of course not,” Iwaizumi says in his most serious tone of voice and poker face. “ I’m  the best best parent.”

Oikawa’s mouth drops open, speechless, as he tries to come up with a retort. Hanamaki and Matsukawa collapse against each other laughing.

 


 

Iwaizumi spends all of Monday morning studying for his upcoming o-chem exam, because he hates himself and enrolled in the pre-med program. Oikawa vacuums around him, dusts on top of their television, and spends the better part of the afternoon cleaning the bathroom—all while complaining that Iwaizumi is a cruel slavedriver who leaves all the chores for other people, and he’ll never find a wife in the 21st century that way.

“By the way, don’t forget to get groceries,” Iwaizumi says, glancing up at the time. “We’re out of milk and your bread, and you need to get something for Takeru’s breakfast tomorrow too.”

Oikawa comes out of the bathroom complete with a handkerchief tied around his hair, a smudge of dust on his nose, and a hand cocked at his hip. “Iwaizumi Hajime, you could lift a finger to help me out here,” he says.

Iwaizumi is ready with his phone and snaps a picture.

Oikawa lets out an indignant squawk when the flash goes off. “Delete it!” He runs to grab Iwaizumi’s phone.

Iwaizumi shoves Oikawa’s head away with one hand and types as fast as he can to send the picture to Matsukawa and Hanamaki. “Too late,” he says, grinning as Oikawa glares at him. “Also don’t forget to air out the guest futon.”

Oikawa groans and drops into the chair across from him. “I’m never going to finish in time before I have to go pick him up.”

“And don’t forget to get whatever you two want for dinner tonight,” Iwaizumi says. “I have work so I won’t be back until late.”

Oikawa sighs and shakes his head. “You are a terrible father,” he says.

“But still the best best parent,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa pouts and throws a couch pillow at him.

 


  

Iwaizumi has been waiting tables at Blue Leaf Cafe for a half hour when the door tinkles open, and he looks up to see Oikawa and Takeru coming in. The cafe is close by their apartment, and since Iwaizumi still has to pay his way through med school, he applied for the position when they put up a help wanted ad a few months ago. Ever since, Oikawa has started frequenting the cafe where he always orders one overpriced drink and studies for the next six hours. It’s gotten so that all the other staff recognize Oikawa on sight and don’t even bother serving him when Iwaizumi is on duty.

Oikawa waves as soon as he sees Iwaizumi looking at him. He and Takeru help themselves to the table closest to the hot air vent overhead, because Oikawa is a princess who gets cold almost as easily as he gets hot and refuses to deal with anything outside of a one degree change from 25°C. Judging by the rolling suitcase Oikawa drags in, they haven’t even stopped by the apartment first.

Iwaizumi sighs and heads over. “Hey Takeru,” he says, grinning at Oikawa’s nephew and holding his hand out for a fistbump.

“Hi Iwa-chan!” Takeru bumps his knuckles and grins at him as Iwaizumi hands him a menu. Iwaizumi has long since given up getting anyone in Oikawa’s family to call him anything other than Iwa-chan, so he just ruffles Takeru’s hair.

Iwaizumi turns to Oikawa and drops the smile. “What are you doing here?”

“That’s no way to greet a paying customer, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says and beams at him. “One peppermint mocha for me, and a hot chocolate for Takeru,” he orders, and then gestures at the menu. “Do you want karaage, Takeru? Or how about an omurice? Or the spaghetti?”

“You didn’t even take him home to get settled first?” Iwaizumi ignores his order.

“Tooru said he was hungry and wanted dinner,” Takeru tells him. “He’s not a great host.” Then he adds, “Nice uniform, Iwa-chan.”

“Thanks,” Iwaizumi says. It’s a fairly standard cafe uniform—white collar shirt, trousers, and a black, short-waist apron—although it’s also probably the first time Takeru has seen him in something this formal. “What do you want, kiddo?”

“I recommend the mentaiko pasta,” Oikawa says. “Iwa-chan likes the garlic and pepperoncini pasta more, but that’s not even a real sauce.”

“Still more Italian than mentaiko,” Iwaizumi says.

“Iwa-chan, if I wanted authentic Italian pasta, I would not be eating at your cafe,” Oikawa sniffs as though it’s something to be proud of.

“I’ll try the pepperoncini pasta,” Takeru says and grins. “Thanks for letting me stay. My mom said to give you this.” He rummages in his backpack to pull out a box of gift mochi that’s slightly dented in the corners.

“You brought gifts for Iwa-chan and not me?” Oikawa demands.

“Mom said Iwa-chan can give you one mochi, and the rest is for him,” Takeru says cheerfully. “She says you’ll get fat if you eat too many sweets.”

“I am not fat!” Oikawa gasps loudly enough that he attracts a few odd looks from other studying customers.

“Only cause mom won’t let you eat all the mochi by yourself,” Takeru says.

Iwaizumi laughs as Oikawa sputters. “I’ll get you both pasta,” he says. “I’m working until ten tonight, so you two can head back after you eat. Make sure your uncle doesn’t get distracted on the way home,” he tells Takeru. 

“Got it!” Takeru salutes him.

“You guys are ganging up on me!” Oikawa says, betrayed.

Iwaizumi grins and winks at Takeru. “You bet we are,” he says.

 


 

By the time Iwaizumi gets home, Oikawa and Takeru have set up camp in front of the television, and Takeru is kicking Oikawa’s ass at the video game they’re playing.

“I’m home,” Iwaizumi calls.

“Welcome back,” Oikawa mumbles, still riveted to the television. Their entire 2LDK is warm with the space heater Oikawa has turned up. It smells like tangerines, and Iwaizumi sees the small mound of orange peels on the table in front of Oikawa.

Iwaizumi sheds his shoes and coat, and goes to the couch, shoving Oikawa over until he can sit next to him. “Stop, Iwa-chan! You’re making me lose!” Oikawa protests.

“You’re already losing,” Iwaizumi says, just in time as Oikawa’s character dies and Takeru raises his arms in triumph.

“I win!” Takeru cheers. “You owe me ice cream!”

“And you’re betting with your nephew,” Iwaizumi says, raising an eyebrow. “I’m telling your sister as soon as she gets back.”

“Traitor,” Oikawa says. “Takeru, it’s time for bed.”

“It’s only 10:30,” Takeru protests. “That’s revenge.”

“I would never stoop so low,” Oikawa says, grinning as he unfolds himself from the couch. “Sis said your bedtime is 10 so this is already a half hour late, which is a treat since you said you wanted to stay up and see Iwa-chan, whom you have now seen. Say goodnight.”

Takeru gives Iwaizumi the exact exasperated look Oikawa does when he’s being dramatic. It takes all of Iwaizumi’s willpower not to start laughing, as Takeru scowls and fetches his toothbrush. 

“See? I’m the best best parent,” Oikawa mouths as he gets up to putter around the kitchen. “Did you already eat, Iwa-chan?” he asks.

“I ate at the cafe,” Iwaizumi says. “Can you hand me water?” he asks and reaches his hand out as Oikawa comes back.

Oikawa freezes halfway to handing Iwaizumi the water bottle and turns a look of horror on him.

“What?” Iwaizumi asks, grabbing the bottle and twisting it open.

“I put the spare sheets in the washer this morning and forgot to take them out,” Oikawa says. “Where is Takeru going to sleep?”

Iwaizumi laughs. “I put them out for you to dry before work because I’m the best best parent,” he says. “Go get them.”

Oikawa’s shoulders slump. “You could have told me earlier, Iwa-chan,” he says, but goes out to their balcony to collect the sheets.

Iwaizumi helps Oikawa set up Takeru’s futon in Oikawa’s bedroom, and then gets out his schoolwork and begins studying to the quiet murmurs coming from the bedroom.

 


 

Having Takeru added to the rhythm of Iwaizumi’s life is surprisingly easy. He’s grown up with the kid, though, and he’s used to keeping Oikawa company while he babysits or going along to Takeru’s volleyball club when Oikawa helps out. So the next morning, he doesn’t blink twice when he wakes up to Takeru complaining loudly outside the bathroom door because Oikawa has already been in there for a half hour. He pounds on the door until Oikawa comes out, looking both perfectly polished and also very offended that his beauty routine is being cut short.

“I have class until 3, so I can be at your school by 5 if you take Takeru with you, and we can hang out while you finish practice,” Iwaizumi says.

“Thanks, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says.

They’re both in their last year of undergrad studies, but Iwaizumi still has at least another four years of med school, two years of residency, and then specialization. Oikawa is in marketing, and the only one of the four former third-years who still plays volleyball seriously. Although Iwaizumi and Oikawa have managed to stay together for this long—part by chance, and partly by persistence, it’s likely that Oikawa will get a job soon—whether it’s playing professional volleyball or working his way up the corporate ladder at some advertising firm.

Oikawa starts a new groupchat with Iwaizumi, Hanamaki, and Matsukawa just to say “Oikawa-san is the best best parent” and then spams it with about twenty snapchat selfies of himself and Takeru throughout the day. Iwaizumi gets a picture of the two of them eating breakfast while he’s on the train. He gets another one of them doing the dishes together captioned: “Happy now, Mom-chan?” About ten of them come while he’s in his first class of Oikawa and Takeru at a park close by to their neighborhood. There’s another couple at the restaurant Oikawa takes Takeru to for lunch, and finally a text saying they’re on their way to Oikawa’s university during Iwaizumi’s last class of the afternoon.

Iwaizumi rejects two separate invitations to hang out and study, and leaves as soon as his last class finishes. By the time he gets to Oikawa’s school, practice has been going on for some time, and he spots Takeru sitting by the sidelines in the company of about half a dozen girls who seem to be Oikawa’s unofficial cheerleaders. Some things haven’t changed since high school.

Takeru perks up as soon as Iwaizumi comes through the doors, and moves toward him, clearly eager to get away from the women surrounding him. Unlike Oikawa, Takeru has inherited the looks from his father and isn’t nearly the sort of boyband beauty that Oikawa is. He clearly isn’t used to so much attention by anyone from the opposite gender.

“Iwa-chan!” Takeru says as soon as he gets near, and it’s loud enough that Oikawa gets distracted and a ball nails him in the face.

Iwaizumi ignores the girls who rush over to check on Oikawa’s bloody nose, and goes to join Takeru on the bench. “What have you been up to all day?” he asks, taking a seat next to him.

Takeru holds out his Nintendo and sighs. “ So bored,” he says. “We’ve been here for hours.”

“And Oikawa didn’t let you play at all?” Iwaizumi asks.

Takeru shook his head. “He said maybe after practice. Can we go eat yet? I’m starving.”

Iwaizumi grins. “After he’s done with practice, or he’ll end up staying until who knows what time,” he says. “We’ll go together. Want to pick what to eat?”

“Yes!” Takeru says. “Milkbread!”

“For dinner? I don’t think so,” Iwaizumi says.

Takeru sighs. “Fine, then...nabe?” he says.

“Well, if Oikawa finishes practice early enough for us to get ingredients,” Iwaizumi says. “If we don’t make it, there’s an oden shop we can go to. Deal?”

“Deal,” Takeru says.

“Iwa-chan!” Iwaizumi turns at the sound of Oikawa’s voice. “Come play with us!”

When they’d first gotten into their respective universities and Oikawa found out that Iwaizumi’s school didn’t have an official volleyball team, they’d had an actual fight about Iwaizumi’s decision to quit volleyball and concentrate on school. It wasn’t as though Iwaizumi didn’t enjoy volleyball, but it was a more practical move to choose a school based on academic programs than sports. Oikawa had been inexplicably upset about it, though, and it had taken Iwaizumi treating him out to ramen and agreeing to share an apartment with him, before he would stop making passive-aggressive comments about it. Even so, every time Iwaizumi stopped by Oikawa’s school, he tried to drag Iwaizumi into playing with the team out of some half-baked scheme that it would convince him to suddenly take up professional volleyball.

After the last few years, although Iwaizumi doesn’t visit all that often, all of Oikawa’s teammates know him.

“And what are you going to do about Takeru?” Iwaizumi asks as Oikawa comes jogging over, his left cheek still bright red from the impact of the ball.

Oikawa turns a bright smile on Takeru. “You don’t mind watching Iwa-chan do some awesome spikes, do you?” he says.

“I do so,” Takeru says. “I am so bored, and I want to eat.”

“If you let Iwa-chan play one set—just one—we’ll go to dinner right after,” Oikawa bargains. “And if you don’t, I’m practicing another three sets.”

Takeru sighs. “You’re so immature, Tooru.”

Iwaizumi laughs and Oikawa looks even more offended.

“Don’t encourage him, Iwa-chan,” he scolds as Iwaizumi sheds his jacket, leaving it and his bag by Takeru. “You’re the worst worst parent,” he says as he drags Iwaizumi onto the court.

“You’re lucky I’m wearing tennis shoes today,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa rolls his eyes. “I have literally never seen you not wear tennis shoes ever, Iwa-chan,” he says. “I don’t think you even know what other types of shoes are. You wore tennis shoes to graduation.”

Iwaizumi grins and throws a volleyball at Oikawa, nailing him in the back with a satisfying yelp.

“You are such a brute,” Oikawa says, rubbing the spot.

Iwaizumi picks up the ball again and tosses it in the air a few times. “You asked me to be here,” he says. “You did this to yourself.”

“I regret it,” Oikawa says.

“Oi, are you two going to stop flirting and play or what?” one of Oikawa’s teammates calls.

“That is called domestic abuse, Sacchan! Domestic abuse!” Oikawa shouts back, but they get back in position.

It feels familiar to be back on the court as Oikawa sets the ball. Familiar to hear Oikawa shout “Iwa-chan” and be ready even before he’s heard his name. Familiar to spike the ball, tearing through the defensive block of the other team, and when he’s turning, Oikawa is there to high-five him, beaming.

“Nice, Iwaizumi!” one of Oikawa’s teammates says, clapping him on the back. “You could totally join the team.”

“Iwa-chan is my star ace,” Oikawa says, glowing with pride. “The best best ace!”

“Nice to know how you really feel,” the actual team ace says. Iwaizumi has only met him a handful of times and is just glad that he seems to be an easy-going guy who doesn’t stress out Oikawa.

“It’s not you,” Oikawa says beatifically, tossing the ball up in the air a few times as they spread out in position around the court. “No one is as good as Iwa-chan!”

“Hurtful, Oikawa. I can’t believe you’d replace me in a minute,” the ace says, sounding entirely amused and not at all hurt.

“In a second,” Oikawa corrects him. “Less than a second!” He gives Iwaizumi a sidelong glance. “So if we can just convince Iwa-chan to transfer universities and join the team…”

“Quit while you’re ahead, Shittykawa,” Iwaizumi says. “Are we gonna play or not?”

He feels the thrill of adrenaline when Oikawa’s carefree expression shifts into one of dead serious intensity. “Oh, we’re going to play,” he says, and readies his serve.

Their team wins the set, and by the time they’re done, Iwaizumi is sweating in his street clothes and wishing he’d borrowed Oikawa’s spare gym clothes because now he has to go out like this.

“So, isn’t your uncle cool, Takeru?” Oikawa says as soon as he comes out from a shower—quicker than usual because Takeru is waiting.

“I think the ace is cooler,” Takeru answers and Iwaizumi does burst out laughing at that, high-fiving him. “I’d rather be wing spiker like Iwa-chan."

“The disrespect!” Oikawa whines as they head out of the gym together. "Setters are the best!"

 


 

The rest of the week continues like this. Iwaizumi spends less time with his school friends and gives himself permission to slack on schoolwork for a few days since he’s relegated to secondary parent duty.

So whereas Iwaizumi would normally stay at school, grab a sandwich from the Family Mart by campus and study for a few hours, he goes home early the next day and makes fried rice for lunch—ready by the time Takeru and Oikawa come back.

“This is so good!” Takeru says as he digs in.

Oikawa pouts. “I’m a better cook than Iwa-chan, you know,” he says.

“Do you have to be competitive about everything?” Iwaizumi says, rolling his eyes.

“Do you?” Oikawa says childishly.

“Takeru, the only reason your uncle says he’s a better cook is because he made really good cupcakes last time.”

Takeru gives Iwaizumi an hilariously skeptical face. “Really?” he says. “Tooru?”

“Oh yeah, best cupcakes I ever had and I don’t even really like cupcakes,” Iwaizumi tells him. “Perfectly decorated. Fit to be sold in a bakery and everything.” Takeru looks a bit alarmed at the exaggerated praise until Iwaizumi grins. “You want to know how?”

“How?” Takeru looks intrigued.

“No, Iwa-chan! You’re ruining my reputation!” Oikawa’s preening turns to whining when he realizes the direction this conversation is going.

“You really want to know?” Iwaizumi says.

“Yes! Tell me!”

“No, Iwa-chan! I’m just the best cook!” Oikawa insists.

“You’re the worst cook,” Iwaizumi corrects and turns back to Takeru. “It’s because Oikawa was so bad at it that he made six different batches until he got a couple of them right,” he says. “He had to pick out the nicest cupcakes out of six batches, Takeru. There were cupcakes everywhere. After that one perfect cupcake he gave me, I was stuck eating deformed burnt or undercooked cupcakes for two weeks after.”

Takeru bursts out laughing and Oikawa turns to Iwaizumi, betrayed.

“How could you ruin my reputation in front of Takeru like that, Iwa-chan?” Oikawa says.

“Oh please, Takeru’s known you since he was born,” Iwaizumi says.

“Yeah, I’d be more surprised if you actually were good at cooking,” Takeru pipes up. “Seconds?” He holds out his plate.

Oikawa crinkles up his nose, grabs Takeru’s plate, and huffs to the kitchen to get him seconds.

 


 

Neither of them have classes on Wednesday afternoon. Usually, Iwaizumi works at the cafe, and Oikawa does some kind of extra volleyball practice. But since Takeru is with them this week, they both cancel afternoon plans and let Takeru decide on one tourist thing to do while he’s visiting the city. And because Takeru still shares some of the same genes as Oikawa, he chooses the Tokyo Skytree because they both have a fascination for space, which apparently translates to anything with a high enough altitude.

“Oh it’s been so long since we went to the Skytree!” Oikawa says, looking more excited than Takeru. “We should go at night!”

“Hell no, I have early classes tomorrow and work in the afternoon. You can stay out all night with Takeru on your own if you want to do that,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa pouts. “But the night view is prettier,” he says.

“Then go without me,” Iwaizumi says.

“Ugh, fine, we’ll go during the day but it’s so not worth the ticket price,” Oikawa says.

It takes another half hour before they can leave because Oikawa has to select the perfect outfit and fuss over how heavy of a jacket Takeru should wear. He also forgets his wallet until Iwaizumi asks if he has his Suica card, and has to run back upstairs to grab it.

They barely make it on time to the train station, and Oikawa spends the first several minutes in the train checking that he has everything.

“You’re so airheaded, Tooru,” Takeru says.

“Rude! And anyway, that’s what I have Iwa-chan for,” Oikawa says, satisfied that he has keys, phone, wallet, and chapstick.

Iwaizumi reaches over Takeru’s seat to smack Oikawa in the shoulder.

“You should be happy you’re appreciated, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa complains.

“Takeru, don’t grow up to be like this,” Iwaizumi says and grins when Takeru starts laughing.

Since it’s a Wednesday afternoon, Tokyo Skytree isn’t as crowded as it might be but because Oikawa and Takeru are both nerds, they insist on getting the combo 350m and 450m deck tickets. Oikawa snaps about a hundred pictures—a few selfies which he drags Iwaizumi into, and a whole lot of scenery and Takeru.

At the Tembo Deck, Iwaizumi takes Takeru out onto the glass floor and Takeru stomps gleefully while asking Iwaizumi where their schools and apartment are. Oikawa whines that he also wants to go, takes two steps, and decides he can’t look down before backing off the glass floor while clutching Iwaizumi’s arm. Because it cost ¥4000 to get in, Iwaizumi also takes the time to browse the giftshop and look at the Edo Hitomezu Byobu folding screen although he has absolutely no interest in fine art and refuses to spend money on tacky souvenirs.

Then they head up to the Tembo Galleria and stroll up the galleria sloping gently upward toward the Sorakora Point. Takeru has run on ahead but Oikawa walks leisurely next to Iwaizumi, chatting as they take in the view.

“Remember the last time we were here?” Oikawa asks.

“Spring break before university started with Matsukawa and Hanamaki,” Iwaizumi answers. The four of them had decided to take a short trip to Tokyo—partly as a graduation trip, and partly to apartment-hunt. Most of it had been spent in cheap capsule hotels, and trying different ramen shops, although they had spent some of it sight-seeing like the country tourists they were. In retrospect, it was a good idea because they rarely had free time now. “Hanamaki bet you couldn’t stand on the glass floor for a full minute, and he won that bet. I can’t believe you still can’t stand on it without crying. What kind of a space nerd are you if you’re afraid of heights?”

“First of all, I didn’t cry. Second of all, I’m not afraid of heights—I’m afraid of falling which is a perfectly normal fear that all human beings ought to have,” Oikawa says, elbowing Iwaizumi in the arm. “And third of all, there’s no gravity in outer space and therefore no falling, which even a caveman like you should know—ow, you brute!” he complains when Iwaizumi elbows him back harder.

“So you’re not scared looking out of here right now?” Iwaizumi asks, gesturing to the glass panes around them.

“It doesn’t feel like I’ll fall so no,” Oikawa says and grins, winding a hand around Iwaizumi’s arm again. “Did you want me to be scared?”

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says, keeping an eye out for Takeru as he runs on ahead. “You’re hilarious when you look like you’re gonna piss yourself—but also annoying, so on second thought, maybe not.”

“So rude,” Oikawa says and falls silent, a happy, contented smile coming over his face as he looks out of the glass panes. His fingers stay, loosely tucked into Iwaizumi’s elbow as they walk. “We should come here again.”

“Tickets cost ¥4000,” Iwaizumi says.

“I didn’t say we should come all the time—just sometime again,” Oikawa says and then leans, pressing his shoulder against Iwaizumi’s so that Iwaizumi veers a little to the left and has to push back to keep Oikawa upright. Oikawa smells like the lavender-and-mint scented shampoo he spends too much money on, and it’s nice to see him look so relaxed and happy.

“Yeah, sure,” Iwaizumi says. “This might be the best view in all of Japan.” He grins, feeling indulgent. “Maybe even the best best.”

Oikawa smiles at him—his real smile which is warm and gentle and make his eyes light up like honey. He really is beautiful sometimes, Iwaizumi thinks, entirely objectively.

“Maybe just the secondary best,” Oikawa says softly, staring back at him. Then he ducks his chin. Iwaizumi isn’t sure if Oikawa’s face looks red because of the sun or if he’s blushing. “The best best view would be from outer space, obviously, Iwa-chan,” he says.

“Of course.” Iwaizumi laughs and they settle into a comfortable silence as they continue walking.

 


 

After Tokyo Skytree, they head for the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner. After a round of jankenpon, which they let Takeru win, he chooses hamburger steak. So Iwaizumi finds himself holding a basket as Oikawa picks the ground beef.

“We should have agedashi tofu and cucumber salad for sides,” Oikawa comments absently as he looks over the deals. “Let’s get snacks too,” he says. “We’re out of chips.”

He also ends up getting two extra heads of lettuce because it’s on sale, and a new packet of dashi because they’re running low. Iwaizumi adds an additional bottle of melon cream soda that he knows both Takeru and Oikawa love, because it’s been a good day and it’s okay to occasionally spoil them as long as it isn’t too often.

As soon as they walk out of store, Oikawa stops in the middle of the street. “We forgot green onions!” he says. 

“I asked if we got everything right before we checked out, Trashkawa,” Iwaizumi says, but he’s also not surprised. Every other time they go shopping, Oikawa forgets at least one item he’d been determined to get.

Oikawa makes Iwaizumi carry all the groceries home because he claims Iwaizumi needs to keep up his arm strength now that he no longer has volleyball to keep him fit.

“Just because I’m not playing volleyball, doesn’t mean I’m not going to the gym,” Iwaizumi says. “I’ll wrestle you if you need proof.”

“You’ll crush the groceries, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa sighs and shakes his head. “Don’t grow up to be a savage like this, Takeru.”

“I want to see Iwa-chan wrestle Tooru,” Takeru says cheerfully.

“All you do is gang up on me!” Oikawa complains.

When they get home, Takeru is put in charge of washing the vegetables as Iwaizumi shapes up the hamburger, and Oikawa works on the agedashi tofu which Iwaizumi can never make properly. It’s one of the few dishes Oikawa has mastered to perfection, and definitely one of the perks that comes with living with him, although Iwaizumi has to make sure not to praise his tofu too much or too often or it’ll go to his head. 

“Don’t make the meat too dry,” Oikawa says as he deftly cuts the silken tofu into perfect square pieces, making it look effortless. Tofu that soft seems to fall apart as soon as Iwaizumi touches it.

“It’s not dry,” Iwaizumi says.

“You’re patting them too hard. Make them fluffier,” Oikawa criticizes.

“There’s no such thing as fluffy meat, you idiot,” Iwaizumi says.

“You know what I mean,” Oikawa says, backseat cooking as he peers over Iwaizumi’s shoulder. “Don’t press down so much.”

“You burnt hamburger the last time you tried to make it. Don’t tell me what to do,” Iwaizumi says and tries to smack Oikawa with the spatula. 

“Tooru, is this okay?” Takeru interrupts thankfully and Oikawa gets distracted.

“Good job!” Oikawa says although Takeru’s cucumber pieces are huge and uneven. “Now can you make the rice? Three cups should do it—unless you want bento tomorrow for lunch?” He nudges Iwaizumi with his elbow, hands still wet and occupied with the tofu.

“Sure,” Iwaizumi says.

“Four cups, Takeru,” Oikawa tells him. “Iwa-chan, do we still have any eel left in the freezer? We should make that too if you want bento.”

“Check,” Iwaizumi tells him.

Later, when they sit down to eat and there are three place settings and Oikawa has taken out his favorite (and their only real) set of matching dishware, Iwaizumi thinks things are good just like this. He’s happy watching Takeru roll his eyes at Oikawa’s alien-shaped chopstick holders, and Oikawa stealing a piece of Iwaizumi’s hamburger while ordering Takeru to praise his agedashi tofu. It’s ordinary—the same sort of comfortable ordinary that he feels every time he goes home to visit his family, the sort of ordinary he feels when they meet up with Hanamai and Matsukawa and slide into highschool bantering, the sort of ordinary he feels when he comes home to Oikawa peeling tangerines in front of the television and he smiles and asks if Iwaizumi’s eaten yet. It’s a nice sort of ordinary.

 


 

They pull up a movie after they’ve cleaned up—a mindless action flick that Iwaizumi has been meaning to watch for some time now. Both Oikawa and Takeru pass out within the first thirty minutes of the movie. Oikawa is sleeping with his mouth open and leaning over one side of the couch in a position that will definitely be uncomfortable once he wakes up. Takeru is sprawled half on his uncle and drooling on his thigh. They’re both terrible sleepers, Iwaizumi thinks, enjoying the movie alone with the bowl of popcorn they’d made.

Once the movie ends, Iwaizumi tries to wake them up only to get a protesting whine from Takeru. For once, Oikawa cooperates and cracks his eyes open, yawning and wincing as he stretches.

“Is the movie over?” he asks, voice scratchy and soft from sleep.

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says. “Takeru, wake up. You need to brush your teeth.” 

Takeru whines in the exact same way Oikawa does when he’s sleepy, but he lets Iwaizumi pull him to his feet and stumbles into the bathroom.

Iwaizumi straightens the futon for him, and hands Takeru his pajamas once he comes back out. Takeru struggles with his pajama shirt until Iwaizumi helps pull his hand out of the sleeve, and then collapses face-down on the futon. Iwaizumi sighs and tucks his feet under the blanket. He remembers doing this when they were younger too. Throughout highschool, he would end up babysitting with Oikawa and they’d fall asleep on the couch watching movies just like this, except back then, Iwaizumi had carried a much smaller Takeru to bed.

When Iwaizumi turns to leave, he finds Oikawa leaning against the door jamb with a soft smile on his face, totally unguarded.

“What?” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa shakes his head but continues to smile. “You really would be a good parent, Iwa-chan,” he says and interrupts himself with a yawn. “But I’m still the best best parent.”

“Go to sleep, idiot,” Iwaizumi says, walking past him.

He feels a tug on his sleeve when he passes Oikawa and turns to look at him, raising an eyebrow.

Oikawa tilts toward him a little as though he’s losing his balance, and Iwaizumi readies himself to steady Oikawa. 

“What?” Iwaizumi whispers because Takeru is still asleep just behind them.

Oikawa looks like he’s going to say something, but then lets out a long exhale. “Good night, Iwa-chan,” he says.

“Good night?” Iwaizumi’s answer sounds like a question because it didn’t sound like those were the words Oikawa meant to say, but Oikawa has already let go of him and is stepping over Takeru on the floor to his own bed.

Iwaizumi shuts the door behind them.

 


 

Iwaizumi has known Oikawa literally since birth. They have probably spent more time with each other than they have with their own families because as both next-door-neighbors and best friends into the same sort of hobbies and going to the same school, nearly all of their time growing up was spent together. So Iwaizumi is fairly certain that he may be able to read Oikawa at least as well as—if not better than—his biological family, and he is absolutely certain that there’s something off about him the next morning.

It’s subtle—not enough for Takeru to pick up on as he tells Iwaizumi about some new movie he’s excited about. “And Kuro and Shiro have to go find Gin, and Shiro is really funny when he goes like—” Takeru contorts his face and Iwaizumi grins, ruffling his hair.

Oikawa would normally be indulging his nephew, asking follow up questions, but today he’s staring off into space and doing that thing with his hands where he presses his thumbs and pinkies together and sort of bounces the rest of his knuckles off each other.

“Oi, you have late practice today right?” Iwaizumi says to Oikawa.

Oikawa nods and hums an agreement.

“Well, we’ll both be busy today so Takeru can choose—do you want to go to school with Oikawa and stay for late practice, or do you want to go to school with me and come to my part-time job after,” Iwaizumi asks.

“I want to go with Iwa-chan,” Takeru says immediately. “Tooru’s fanclub is annoying.”

Iwaizumi laughs and high-fives Takeru.

Oikawa gives them an indignant look but there’s none of his usual, vocal complaining.

“Oh and guess what, Takeru?” Iwaizumi says. “Your uncle promised to treat us both to ramen while you’re here,” he says. “It’s your last night so I think it’s time to make good on that promise.”

“Iwa-chan,” Oikawa whines finally. “I don’t have a part-time job. You should be treating us!”

“Mom gave Tooru money to treat us,” Takeru says.

“Takeru!” Oikawa says, betrayed.

“Oh, so when were you going to tell me about this extra income?” Iwaizumi says, raising an eyebrow. “You’re not even secondary best—you’re the worst.”

“I am not! Iwa-chan, you know I am so broke right now—”

“Our parents pay rent for us,” Iwaizumi says.

“Yeah but my allowance barely covers groceries!” Oikawa protests.

“You bought ten packs of milk bread just last week.”

“Groceries, like I said,” Oikawa answers, folding his arms.

“The worst. Yeah, you’re paying tonight,” Iwaizumi tells him. “Takeru, finish up and get ready to go.”

“Okay, Iwa-chan,” Takeru says, and unlike Oikawa who leaves his dishes out half the time, Takeru takes his to the sink and washes up before packing up his Nintendo, phone, and some school books into his backpack.

The rest of the morning passes normally. Takeru amuses himself by doing some homework and then playing games on his Nintendo next to Iwaizumi in class. He gets an inordinate amount of attention and a crowd of girls who come up to Iwaizumi at the end of class to ask about Takeru.

Takeru looks vaguely annoyed by the attention Iwaizumi can imagine the same thing happening when Oikawa brought him to school, but probably worse given his popularity with girls.

“Is this your little brother, Iwaizumi-kun?” one girl asks.

“No, he’s my roommate’s nephew,” Iwaizumi answers. “He’s staying with us for the week.”

“That’s so nice of you to take care of him,” another girl says followed by a burst of giggles from several of the girls.

Iwaizumi can’t help the heat creeping up his neck. It’s not as though he hasn’t had his fair share of attention by girls, although it’s certainly gone up since entering to university—probably due to not having Oikawa around to soak up all the attention. Iwaizumi hasn’t had a serious girlfriend yet, though, just girls he’s had “a thing” with that never end up going anywhere. Between his busy schedule and Oikawa, he just hasn’t felt any sort of urgent need to find a significant other yet.

“Sorry, we have to go or I’ll be late for my part-time,” Iwaizumi says.

The girls titter and wave goodbye, telling Takeru to come back and visit.

The rest of the day passes normally as well—Iwaizumi takes Takeru to a nearby park where they eat their bentos and then head to his part-time where he gets Takeru a large juice and tells him to work on his homework. The hours tick by, and Iwaizumi waits tables, until a little after 7pm when the bell tinkles.

Iwaizumi is just coming out of the kitchen with an order when he hears one of his co-workers call for him.

“Oi, Iwaizumi, your wife is here,” he says.

“Who the hell would want a wife like Oikawa,” Iwaizumi answers.

“You are so rude, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa complains, and Iwaizumi sees he’s wearing one of Iwaizumi’s sweatshirts under a peacoat, cheeks flushed from the cold outside.

“Stop stealing my clothes without asking,” he says, smacking Oikawa upside the head while taking the tray to the customer.

“You never let me borrow them when I do ask.” Oikawa sulks.

“The boyfriend sweater,” his coworker stage-whispers to him.

Iwaizumi subtly flips him off before approaching the table where Oikawa has joined Takeru. “I’ll be done in a few minutes. Just let me get my stuff and we can go.”

Oikawa puffs up his cheeks. “Hurry up,” he whines.

“You’re such a child, Tooru,” Takeru says.

Rude,” Oikawa gasps.

“Today is ramen, right?” Takeru says. “I want the all-meat deluxe one!”

“Takeru, I am an unemployed student,” Oikawa says. “Have pity on my wallet.”

“Iwa-chan said you’re treating and we can choose what we want,” Takeru answers. “I want an egg too.”

No!”

Iwaizumi smiles at their bickering as he wipes his hands, and then heads to the back to change and grab his things. He’s glad that whatever happened with Oikawa in the morning seems to have passed, and he’s back to normal.

Between the two of them, although Oikawa is undeniably better at volleyball and aiming to go pro, part of the reason he is better is because he lives half in his own head all the time. Although Iwaizumi may be stronger physically and is naturally tactile, Oikawa has the strategy and analytical skills that Iwaizumi just doesn’t have. At the same time, it’s a weakness when it comes to his day-to-day life because Oikawa can get too absorbed in his own mind—when the thoughts are positive, it helps build him up, but all too often, the thoughts are negative and it’s up to Iwaizumi to drag him out of whatever funk he’s thought himself into. He’s glad that at least for today, Oikawa’s gotten himself out of whatever odd mood he was in in the morning, and he doesn’t have to worry about Oikawa and watch Takeru at the same time.

By the time he comes out, Takeru is back on his Nintendo, backpack packed up, and Oikawa is taking and then deleting selfies on his phone, apparently unsatisfied with his pictures.

“Let’s go,” Iwaizumi says, grabbing Takeru’s bag for him, and they head outside.

“You each get one add-on and no deluxe meat ramen,” Oikawa says.

“You ordered deluxe meat the last time you made me treat you,” Iwaizumi answers. “You sure as hell are going to treat us to the deluxe meat this time.”

“That was for your first paycheck, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa complains. “The point was so you could show off your money!”

“You are spoiled as hell,” Iwaizumi answers. “Takeru, definitely order the deluxe meat ramen.”

Out of pity, though, Iwaizumi just lets Takeru order the deluxe meat ramen, and he orders a regular beef one, although Oikawa complains all the same. When Takeru can’t finish his giant bowl, Iwaizumi ends up finishing it for him anyway.

Takeru, having eaten himself into food coma, falls asleep on the train ride back, leaning on Oikawa’s arm. Iwaizumi finds himself watching them in the reflection of the window opposite them, Oikawa’s soft smile as he looks down at his nephew, and the hood of Iwaizumi’s sweatshirt bunched up around his neck.

 


 

Iwaizumi has to leave for an early shift at work the next day, and by the time he gets home in the afternoon, Oikawa has already taken Takeru to meet up with his parents. The apartment seems a little empty without the extra futon and Takeru’s things taking up space. At the same time, a lot of schoolwork has piled up in the last few days, and as much as he enjoyed having Takeru there, it’s also a relief to go back to his normal schedule. Iwaizumi takes the time to do the laundry he’s neglected for a few days before he settles down to catch up on studying.

Neither of them particularly enjoys cleaning, but Oikawa can’t think with too much clutter lying around so he tends to tidy the apartment fairly often—usually when he’s particularly stressed because of a big game or exam coming up.

As most Friday nights go, Oikawa comes home tired after volleyball practice, and he flops onto the couch. Iwaizumi is sitting on the ground with his back to the couch, all his books and notes spread out on the table.

“Iwa-chan, I’m so tired,” Oikawa whines. “I’m hungry.”

“Then make something to eat,” Iwaizumi tells him.

“But Iwa-chan, I’m too tired to cook,” Oikawa says. “Let’s go out and get dinner.”

“Hell no, I have a ton of work to catch up on and I already ate,” Iwaizumi answers, spinning his pen between his fingers as he glares down at the formulas he’s supposed to memorize. “You can go by yourself.”

“But Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says. “You are my best best friend. Take me out!” 

“We ate out too much the last couple of days anyway,” Iwaizumi says.

“Then make me dinner,” Oikawa says.

“Make yourself dinner,” Iwaizumi says and flicks him in the forehead with his pen. “You’re a capable adult.”

Oikawa whines again and moves a little closer, pushing his wounded forehead to the back of Iwaizumi’s neck. “You’re so mean to me when Takeru’s not here.”

“I’m mean to you when Takeru’s here too.” Iwaizumi throws his head back with a satisfying thunk and Oikawa lets out a loud whine and curls a little tighter against his back. The hem of his henley slips down enough that he can feel Oikawa’s breath warm against his skin.

“Go eat something,” Iwaizumi tells him. “Did Takeru get home okay?”

“Yeah, sis met up with us at school and picked him up,” Oikawa says. “Oh, they brought us souvenirs.”

He hooks his backpack with one foot and slings it over to Iwaizumi who unzips it to take two packages of omiyage out of his bag.

“Oi, this one is supposed to be frozen. Go put it away,” Iwaizumi says, looking at the packages.

Oikawa whines again, pushing tighter against Iwaizumi clearly with no intention of moving. Iwaizumi rolls his eyes but gets up to do it, shoving things inside their freezer to make room for it.

Oikawa is still curled up on the couch when Iwaizumi comes back. His eyes closed, and his breathing is even. Iwaizumi forgets he’s there after awhile, concentrating on going over his notes. It’s some time later when he stretches and hears a mumble behind him that he realizes Oikawa is still there but has apparently fallen asleep now.

“Get up and go to bed if you’re so tired,” Iwaizumi says, nudging him with an elbow.

“No,” Oikawa says.

“You’re going to catch cold sleeping out here,” Iwaizumi tells him.

Oikawa just gropes for his discarded coat and pulls it over, covering his upper half from head to stomach, but leaving a small gap so he can still breathe.

Iwaizumi sighs and turns up the heat on the space heater before going back to study.

It’s been an unusual day, so he doesn’t notice that Oikawa’s odd mood has come back until the next morning when Oikawa mopes around the kitchen, listlessly picking pieces off his milkbread until it looks like a beehive.

“Stop torturing your breakfast and eat it,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa sighs and picks off another piece of his bread.

Iwaizumi gives up on reasoning with him when he’s in one of his moods. He figures Oikawa just misses having his nephew around, and he has a tendency toward dramatics anyway, so he’ll probably bounce back after a few days.

It doesn’t get better.

Now that they attend different universities, they both have separate friend circles. While they still spend the majority of their free time together because they’re roommates, it’s not unusual for Oikawa to go out with his new teammates for dinner or a group date after practice, or for Iwaizumi to go out with his own friends on a day off. Usually this happens an average of two or three times a week. However, things don’t go back to normal after Takeru leaves. In fact, Oikawa doesn’t go out once with his teammates at all the next week. Instead, he starts coming home early or pestering Iwaizumi at work. The one time Iwaizumi makes plans to go out with a few classmates for karaoke on a Friday night, Oikawa insists on tagging along and inflicts Iwaizumi’s friends with his horrifying, tune-deaf singing before getting drunk and falling asleep clinging to Iwaizumi’s arm so he can’t move at all.

The girls in the group who had started out giving Oikawa star-struck looks have turned doe-eyed and motherly as they whisper and coo over how he’s a giant, adorable baby. Oikawa tends to have that effect on people—either annoying them out of their minds, or making them feel like they have to take care of him.

Over the next week, Oikawa is mopier than ever. At least in the first week of Takeru’s absence, Oikawa is just clingy. By the second week, he’s no longer stuck to Iwaizumi like a limpet, but channel-surfing in the most annoying way (where he sits and switches channels every ten seconds for hours at a time) and taking obnoxiously long baths. He refuses to go out completely, but gives Iwaizumi pleading eyes when he tries to go out with his own friends. Iwaizumi refuses to spoil him by giving in, but the entire time he’s out, he worries about Oikawa until he goes home anyway.

By the end of two weeks, Iwaizumi has had enough.

“If you miss Takeru so much, just go home and visit,” Iwaizumi tells him on the third Saturday of Oikawa’s sulk streak. It’s never lasted this long before—not even the last time Takeru visited with Oikawa’s sister for a day trip. Oikawa’s sighing is getting on his nerves, but mostly, Iwaizumi just doesn’t like the constant, unhappy downward pull of his mouth.

“No,” Oikawa says where he’s curled up on the couch, knees pulled up to his chin. He’s dragged out one of his heavy winter blankets and tucked himself into a burrow, and also has the space heater blasting hot air at him.

“Seriously, you don’t have anything important this weekend,” Iwaizumi says. “No exams next week, no big games. Just go home and visit.”

“I don’t want to,” Oikawa says, stubborn, and buries himself a little more securely in his blanket cocoon.

He’s taken to watching Japanese-subtitled old X-Files episodes, which saves him the obnoxious channel-surfing but this is Oikawa’s nostalgia series which means he’s deep in one of his moods.

“Is Iwa-chan trying to get rid of me?” Oikawa says, his voice going light in the most obnoxious way.

Iwaizumi rolls his eyes and shoves at his blanketed head. “You know that’s not true. Stop being an asshole and just go.”

“It’s not that, okay?” Oikawa says, voice serious now. He twists himself tighter in his cocoon. “Just drop it.”

Iwaizumi stiffens. “Fine,” he says, grabbing his jacket from the closet. He closes it a little harder than necessary and Oikawa flinches.

“Wait, Iwa-chan,” he says, head struggling out from his blanket cocoon.

“I’m going out. If you want to sulk alone, then sulk alone,” Iwaizumi says and leaves.

He’s still mad as he takes the stairs two at a time, but the anger has cooled by the time he gets to the metro station. If Oikawa won’t snap out of his mood, that’s his problem—Iwaizumi’s life doesn’t revolve around him. That night, Iwaizumi meets up with some friends and ends up in a Roppongi nightclub.

It’s rare for Iwaizumi to go clubbing mostly because both cover charges and drinks are expensive. The few times he has gone, he’s felt obligated to enjoy himself if only because it’s the only way it would be worth it. But tonight, even though there’s a particularly cute girl who seems to have taken a liking to him and keeps giggling and dancing up against him, he can’t stop thinking about Oikawa miserable in his blanket cocoon at home.

It’s not Oikawa’s usual type of misery. He most often gets into his moods when there’s something bothering him about volleyball or school, and he spends hours overworking himself to make up for whatever he’s decided is his perceived inadequacy. It’s always done in dead silence and intensity, and Iwaizumi has dragged Oikawa off his pedestal of isolation enough times that he can recognize it.

This is entirely different—Oikawa is doing nothing to try and fix whatever is bothering him. Instead, it’s like he’s decided to entirely give up, and that maybe worries Iwaizumi more than the overworking because it’s so unlike Oikawa.

But even if they’ve ventured into new territory, Iwaizumi can’t bring himself to leave Oikawa alone even when he’s being the worst, miserable, little terror. He ends up leaving the club before it’s even 10, and glares at his reflection in the harsh lighting of the train all the way back to their apartment, cursing himself for giving in.

When he finally gets back to the apartment, Oikawa is curled up on the couch. He’s now regressed to watching a horrifyingly gory alien movie and eating what looks like his fifth pack of milkbread judging by the wrappers left on the table.

Iwaizumi assesses the situation between a nauseous amount of milk bread that Oikawa has consumed while watching disgusting B-rated alien movies with terrible special effects, and decides extreme measures have to be taken if Oikawa has decided to wallow. His eyes are red-rimmed and he’s switched to wearing glasses, which are smudged and slightly crooked on his nose.

Iwaizumi stands in front of the television. “Oikawa, go home,” he says.

He frowns and tilts his head, trying to peer around Iwaizumi. “Move, you’re blocking the television, Iwa-chan.”

“How long have you been watching movies?” Iwaizumi crosses his arms and plants his feet.

“Not as long as you’ve been out partying,” Oikawa says, petulant. Some character on screen dies with a bloodcurdling scream. “Iwa-chan! You’re making me miss the movie!”

“This is a crap movie and you know it,” Iwaizumi says and sighs when Oikawa sets his mouth in the way that means he’s about to start protesting in a truly stubborn way.

“Are you my mom?” Oikawa says in his most obnoxious tone of voice.

Iwaizumi doesn’t even answer him before he reaches out to grab Oikawa by the head.

“No, Iwa-chan, you savage!” Oikawa ties to struggle, but between the blankets entangling him, it’s easier than usual for Iwaizumi to wrestle him into a headlock. “Let go! Ow!”

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong then?” Iwaizumi shouts.

“There’s nothing—” Iwaizumi tightens his grip. “Ow!” Oikawa protests.

“Spill,” Iwaizumi orders, locking his elbow around Oikawa’s neck so that no matter how hard he pulls, he can’t struggle free.

“No—”

Oikawa,” Iwaizumi threatens and tugs at his head.

“I like you!” Oikawa gasps finally.

Iwaizumi tightens his grip and then quickly loosens it when he hears Oikawa’s hiss of pain. He backs up and turns around.

Oikawa’s face is very red, hair entirely disheveled, and his shirt collar has been stretched over one shoulder, totally deformed. He’s looking anywhere but at Iwaizumi.

“What?” Iwaizumi says.

He waits for Oikawa to take it back, but he doesn’t, instead just turning a deeper shade of red that begins to spread down his pale neck. “When Takeru was here, it just...we were together all the time, and the way you acted sometimes, it was just...I realized I liked it, okay? I liked being a team with you and taking care of Takeru together and eating breakfast together and buying groceries together and eating out together and just—it felt like we were really together sometimes.”

Iwaizumi has a hard time believing what he’s hearing. “Together?”

“Together like—like a couple.” Oikawa wrings his hands together the way he does when he’s really distressed. “And now it’s back to normal, but I...I don’t want things to go back to normal,” he says, barely above a raspy whisper. “I’m still in love with you.”

Iwaizumi licks his dry lips. “Are you…” He wants to ask him if he really thought this through—if this is just some kind of odd turn of Oikawa’s thoughts because they spent so much time with each other and Takeru. But he also knows Oikawa would never say something like this unless he was sure. He didn’t mope for two weeks because he wasn’t sure. “Are you sure?” he repeats.

Oikawa looks like he might be sick. He’s graduated from twisting his fingers to hugging his own arms. “I’m sure,” he says. “I might not have realized before this, but I’ve been in love with you for a long time”

Iwaizumi believes him.

“Okay,” he says finally. The tension bleeds thick in the room, and he feels the sudden need to go running and clear his head. “Okay. I...let me think about this.”

Oikawa’s head snaps up. “Iwa—”

“I’m going to go for a run,” Iwaizumi says and grabs his keys.

Oikawa jolts up, unfolding from the couch entirely ungracefully and reaching for him. “Iwa-chan, can we—”

“Not now,” Iwaizumi says, clipped.

Oikawa flinches back and Iwaizumi exhales, taking a deep breath. “I need to clear my head. We’ll talk later,” he promises.

Oikawa looks like he still wants to reach out for him, but he doesn’t, allowing Iwaizumi to pull on his tennis shoes and head out into the night without protest.

The cold night air immediately clear his head when he steps outside and Iwaizumi begins running at a jog to warm up. He’s uncomfortable in his jeans and coat, but it’s better than staying in the apartment for a moment longer. Of all the things Oikawa could have possibly told him, he hadn’t expected this. It never even crossed his mind as a possibility—of course, apparently it also hadn’t crossed Oikawa’s mind until sometime during Takeru’s visit.

It’s late enough that in the residential neighborhood where they are, that there aren’t too many people around to give Iwaizumi strange looks as he jogs past them.

But as much as he wants to think about it, all that’s running around in his head is Oikawa’s face when Iwaizumi told him he was going to leave. He looked like he was going to die, maybe cry, the way his shoulders hunched and his mouth started to wobble. He keeps running, trying to forget the way Oikawa looked and focus on his words—the forced confession, and how Iwaizumi’s supposed to respond to this. But his mind just keeps circling back to Oikawa’s face.

Iwaizumi is an asshole. He’s the worst—the worst worst. He knows exactly what Oikawa’s ugly crying face looks like. He knows the way it can build up and how his nose gets red and runny, and he’s been subjected to Oikawa’s loud sobbing more times than he can count. Worse, though, are Oikawa’s silent tears when he’s trying not to be upset and trying to hold it in, but he can’t.

Ah shit, it doesn’t matter if Iwaizumi can’t have the luxury of figuring this out on his own—he can’t leave when Oikawa looks like that.

Iwaizumi groans and stops, running both hands through his hair and utterly annoyed at both himself and Oikawa. He turns around and jogs home.

 


 

Oikawa isn’t there when Iwaizumi comes back. The lights are off and his bedroom door is open.

It’s been, at most, twenty minutes since Iwaizumi left, but judging by the pile of clothes on the ground, the missing backpack and keys, Oikawa has definitely gone off somewhere.

There are really only two places Oikawa is likely to have gone. He texts Matsukawa and Hanamaki and make them promise to let him know if Oikawa shows up there. But Iwaizumi’s gut says Oikawa’s done exactly what Iwaizumi ordered him to do earlier and he’s gone home.

It’s already late, and when Iwaizumi checks the train schedule, he’s annoyed that the last one left ten minutes ago, and there won’t be another heading to Miyagi until the morning.

 


 

Iwaizumi takes an early train to Miyagi. He’s been thinking about things all night and even exhausted from the restlessness, he can only doze off every once in awhile before he wakes up still thinking about it. Oikawa’s the only one who can give Iwaizumi a sleepless night worrying over him. 

Iwaizumi doesn’t stop by his own house first, but heads straight next door to the Oikawas’ where Oikawa’s mother gives him a knowing look as soon as she opens the door.

“Iwa-chan! What a surprise,” she says, not at all looking surprised. “Tooru just took Takeru to the park.”

Iwaizumi does his best to ignore how she seems to know exactly what he’s come home for. “Thanks, Auntie,” he says, ears burning. “I’ll, uh, I’ll go find them.”

“Thank you for watching over my boys,” she says and smiles. “Good luck.”

Iwaizumi gives her an awkward half bow, and heads back down the street. He and Oikawa have been going to the same park all throughout their youth—one of those ordinary, neighborhood parks with a playground, grass field, and a sports court. As he rounds the corner, the park comes in view. At just mid-morning, there are some people leisurely strolling their dogs, and a handful of joggers. He immediately spots Oikawa sitting on a swingset facing the sports court where he’s watching Takeru toss a volleyball.

Oikawa’s leaning against one of the chains of the swing, swaying with his toes dug into the sand.

It isn’t until Iwaizumi sees him and knows he’s okay, that Iwaizumi feels the tension leave his shoulders. Rage takes its place as he strides forward.

“Oikawa!” he shouts and sees him visibly jump in his seat.

Oikawa whirls around and his brown eyes widen when he sees Iwaizumi. He jumps to his feet as Iwaizumi gets closer, and to Iwaizumi’s utter annoyance, he starts sprinting away down the length of the field, forcing Iwaizumi to chase after him.

“Oikawa you fucking asshole, stop running away!” Iwaizumi bellows, sprinting after him.

“Hell no! Who would stop running when they’ve got a mad gorilla chasing them?” Oikawa shrieks and runs faster. “Why are you even chasing me?”

“Cause you’re running away!” Iwaizumi shouts and forces his legs to pump faster. He feels more tired than usual thanks to the sleepless night, but he still manages to close the distance. “Stop running or so help me—” He doesn’t wait for Oikawa to stop. As soon as he’s close enough, he launches himself forward and tackles Oikawa to the ground.

Oikawa lands with a yelp. “Iwa-chan, you savage,” he complains, muffled in the grass.

“That’s what you get for running away from me,” Iwaizumi says and gets to his knees. “Do you know how fucking worried I was?”

Oikawa slowly sits up, still looking wary, but clearly not trying to move away from Iwaizumi anymore. He’s wearing glasses and there are dark smudges beneath his eyes that probably mirror Iwaizumi’s own. “I didn’t think...I didn’t think you’d want me around,” he mumbles after a moment. He’s looking down at his hands.

Iwaizumi has always had his own interests, his own goals, his own life, but Oikawa’s presence seeps into them all. He can’t remember a time when he didn’t have Oikawa demanding that he wants to go bug-catching with Iwaizumi despite being terrified of large insects, dragging Iwaizumi to the park to practice volleyball with him, whining until Iwaizumi agrees to get an apartment with him. Oikawa is overly sensitive and takes too much responsibility and is insecure about the stupidest things, but he’s also a hard worker, loyal to a fault, and has the biggest heart of anyone Iwaizumi knows.

Oikawa is strong, and he can survive without Iwaizumi, just like Iwaizumi can live fine without Oikawa. But he doesn’t want to. He wants to put up with Oikawa’s demands to watch terrible movies, he wants to get roped into babysitting Takeru with him, he wants to wake up to the six batches of deformed cupcakes Oikawa has made. It all comes down to this—he would rather put up with all of this and have Oikawa, than not. And that’s the point, isn’t it?

He exhales. “Even when I don’t want you around, I want you around.” He takes Oikawa’s hands in his own, covered with grass stains like when they were kids playing out in this very field. Oikawa’s fingers tremble. “I guess that means I love you too. You’re the best best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

He sees Oikawa’s eyes flicker up to meet his own, his fingers clenching around Iwaizumi’s. “Iwa-chan,” he breathes, voice wobbly. “You’re the best—”

“I know. Stop being cheesy. You’re so embarrassing,” Iwaizumi says, heat creeping up his face. He’s never been good at this, but so help him, Oikawa is worth the effort.

Oikawa inhales sharply. “What—you can’t just—I’m trying to be romantic!”

“And don’t you dare cry,” Iwaizumi adds. “I hate it when you cry.”

Oikawa lets out a watery laugh and starts tearing up anyway. “I can’t help it. I’m just so happy.”

Iwaizumi gently pulls off Oikawa’s glasses where his tears are making a mess on the lenses, and wipes them on his shirt. Oikawa clutches his other hand, sniffling and beaming at him at the same time. Iwaizumi carefully sets his glasses back on his face and wipes away some of the tears, feeling Oikawa lean into the touch.

He hears a loud sigh behind them. “Are you guys going to kiss or what? I’m bored and I want to go home." 

Iwaizumi jumps and turns to see Takeru watching them a little distance away, volleyball tucked under his arm, and looking very unimpressed. Iwaizumi tries to get to his feet, only to have Oikawa tighten his grip.

“You heard him, Iwa-chan,” Oikawa says, voice going smooth and soft, and clearly trying to sound seductive. “Kiss me.”

Iwaizumi lets out his most put-upon sigh and rolls his eyes. He sees Oikawa’s brows wrinkle, indignant, right before he swoops in and kisses him. He pulls back just as quickly and gets to his feet, pulling Oikawa up with him. Oikawa still looks dazed and touches his lips like he can’t believe it happened.

“Wait, that was too short!” Oikawa protests as Iwaizumi pulls him toward Takeru.

“You want your nephew to watch us making out?” Iwaizumi answers and adjusts his grip so he can lace their fingers together.

“Takeru doesn’t mind—”

“Ew! I definitely mind!” Takeru says. “You’re the worst, Tooru!”

Iwaizumi laughs and ruffles Takeru’s hair. “Let’s go home,” he says.

 


 

When Iwaizumi and Oikawa walk into the restaurant, Hanamaki and Matsukawa are already waiting at a booth.

Oikawa takes off his coat and scarf and slides into the inside end of the booth before holding his hand out for Iwaizumi’s coat so he can stack the two coats next to him against the wall.

“Wow,” Matsukawa says.

“Disgusting,” Hanamaki answers.

“What?” Iwaizumi says, sitting down next to Oikawa, and handing one of the stacked menus to him.

Oikawa immediately begins looking through the menu options. “Iwa-chan, let’s get an appetizer, okay? I just want one gyoza.”

“Fine,” Iwaizumi says.

Oikawa picks up the white order menu and begins checking boxes. “I’m getting the shio ramen. Iwa-chan, you want tonkotsu, right?” he asks.

“Yeah, and—”

“Extra beef, I know,” Oikawa says, checking it for him.

“Wow,” Hanamaki says.

“Disgusting,” Matsukawa answers.

“What?” Oikawa says, looking up to raise an eyebrow at their friends. “What’s wrong with you guys?”

“What’s wrong with us?” Matsukawa says.

“What’s wrong with you,” Hanamaki finishes. “Have you no shame? We’re in public. Nobody wants to see that PDA!”

“Excuse you! What part of that was PDA? I only asked Iwa-chan what he wants to eat,” Oikawa says, indignant.

“You’ve memorized his order!”

“You probably all know it too. Iwa-chan gets the same thing every time,” Oikawa protests.

“But we’re not trying ordering for him,” Matsukawa points out.

Iwaizumi grins. “Oh that wasn’t PDA,” he says. “This is PDA.” Then he slides deeper into the booth, wrapping an arm around Oikawa’s shoulders and brings him in.

Oikawa’s face goes a bright red, eyes wide. “Iwa—”

Iwaizumi kisses him to the outraged gasps from their secondary best friends, enjoying the little whoosh of air that comes out of Oikawa mouth, the soft press of his lips, the way his eyelashes flutter open again, dazed, when Iwaizumi pulls back.

“I veto this!” Hanamaki says. “Think of the children!”

“Takeru’s already seen us kiss,” Iwaizumi says, leaning back in his seat, keeping his arm loose around Oikawa’s shoulders still because he can.

“You two are the worst parents,” Matsukawa says. “The worst worst.”

Oikawa leans into Iwaizumi’s side and beams at them. “But the best best boyfriends,” he says.