He didn't even know when exactly everything started falling down like leaves in Fall.
He was just a child when he heard the first fist hit the wall, when his mom started screaming so hard he thought she wouldn't be able to talk anymore. When his dad became so angry and out of control nobody knew how to act.
Five years old, he was.
And two years later, his dad slammed the door behind himself one night and never came back. The following day, his mom received a call and started crying. Then she bent down to him and said something that's been carved into his heart ever since.
"Daddy isn't coming back, love."
Ten years late, he now knows the whole truth. His dad went away that night, drunk as hell, and got run over by a car.
"What a cliché and stupid way to die", he always thought when something happened that reminded him of his deceased dad.
That sentence still haunted him and somehow made him feel guilty.
"Is it my fault?" he often wondered. He was far into deep to care anyways.
Coming back from volleyball practice, he kissed his mother's lined cheek and then locked himself in his dark room in the basement. Every curtain was closed to block out the sunlight. He put up the same old song he had been listening basically everyday for a year now. Only then, he let himself fall apart.
It was hard trying to mask his feelings at practice every day, so he only allowed himself to collapse in the dark of his room.
And as he lay there, with an enormous hole in his heart like all the times since that day, he listened to the lyrics and mumbled along the words.
"How did you get here and when did it start?
An innocent child with a thorn in his heart."
He closed his eyes and let the song sing him to sleep.
The next day he couldn't bring himself to get up from bed. He just didn't see the point of it anyway.
He sent a text to Tsukishima to let him know he wasn't going to school with him that morning. He didn't even care about skipping practice, it's not like he was important anyways, was he?
Yamaguchi sighed and dragged himself out of the bed, turning the stereo down a little and going to the bathroom. He told his mom he wasn't feeling good and she allowed him to stay home for the day.
He then went back in his completely dark room, forgetting to lock the door, and brought his blankets over his head. It was almost Dicember and outside the city was covered in white.
But the cold weather was nothing compared to the cold in Tadashi's chest.
SIlent tears started to stream down his cheeks out of nowhere and Yamaguchi cursed himself for being so weak. He then fell back asleep.
Tsukishima, who knew the other's every secret, (just like Yamaguchi did, they were friends since they were born after all), he knew something was obviously off with his best friend. He had been acting weird lately.
Yamaguchi wasn't exacty the happy child you'd expect of a 10 years old. He was often bullied by guys older than him when Tsukishima took him under his wings. And even though he looked a little happier, Yamaguchi was still pretty off. His friend knew why but he didn't exactly know what to do.
There had been a time, in middle school, when Yamaguchi suddenly stopped talking to anyone. He'd move around like a machine, perpetual bloodshot eyes (due to crying) glued to his feet and the most fake smile on his lips Tsukishima had ever seen. But with so much patience, he dragged Yamaguchi out of that state and made him take it all out on him.
He sighed and went to school, planning on going to Yamaguchi's soon after.
It was surprisingly boring not to have someone constantly calling that obnoxious nickname in fear you might leave him behind, Tsukishima found out.
When the day ended, he went to the gym just to approach Daichi-san to tell him he was taking a day off. Daichi nodded, having noticed the absence of Yamaguchi and how bad he had been doing lately.
Daichi was unexpectedly perceptive when it came to his friend, he noticed every slight change in them. That was why, Tsukishima thought, he always knew what to say.
When Yamaguchi woke up, everything around him appeared exactly how he had left it that morning. He sighed, feeling exausted.
He then noticed the music had stopped and the curtain was slighlty open. He thought his mom had been in his room again and snorted a little under his blankets.
Then he turned around to adjust his position on the bed and almost screamed when his body touched something warm and soft.
Yamaguchi turned on the lamp on his night table, a little freaked out, and blurted out a not so silent "shit" when the light blinded him.
The "thing" next to him laughed hard and only then Yamaguchi let himself look to an amused Tsukishima, who had his phone over his chest.
-The hell are you doing in my room in the dark, you scared me.- he said, his voice still drowsy.
-I was just checking on my best friend.- he casually said.
-How long have you been here for?-
Tsukishima looked at the phone to check the clock.
-You've been here three hours in the dark doing nothing?- Yamaguchi asked surprised and a little annoyed for wasting his friend's time.
-Why are you acting so surprised? I always do it when you're like this.- Tsukishima abruptly said and Yamaguchi fell silent.
"He has every right to be angry" he thought, sighing silently, lying back on his side, far enough to make sure not to annoy his friend and shutting his eyes closed again.
He wished he could disappear.
-I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that.- Tsukishima said immediately but his friend shook his head wearily.
-It's okay.- he whispered.
"I'm an idiot" Tsukishima thought then closed the distance between their bodies, hugging his friend like he always did when Yamaguchi wasn't okay, since they were children.
-You know you can talk to me Tadashi, I'm here to support you no matter what.-
Yamaguchi smiled a little.
It had always been that way. Tsukishima would have done anything and everything to protect his fragile friend. And so would have done Yamaguchi.
-Aren't you tired?- Yamaguchi asked after a while they had stayed in silence.
Yamaguchi hesitated a little. That was a question he had always asked himself but never had the guts to say out loud.
After a short while, he took a breath and said -Of me.-
Tsukishima snorted so loud Yamaguchi sweared his mom heard it from upstairs.
-I'll kill you, I swear. Why the hell would I be here in the dark with you if I was? Tadashi. Whatever your brain is telling you, don't believe it. Instead talk to me so that we can find a way out. Together. Like we always do.-
Yamaguchi nodded, soothed by his friend's caring voice.
-So, what's been going on in that little head of yours lately?-
Yamaguchi went deadly quiet and Tsukishima was a little scared about that.
-It's always the same voice in my head telling me I'm a burden, a failure, that I'm unimportant and that he went away because of me. It tells me I deserve nothing but pain. There's always this big hole in my chest making it hard to breath.- Yamaguchi whispered. Tsukishima kept quiet to let him continue.
-I feel tired.. I feel dead. There's always the same voice in my head telling me I'm better off dead, Tsukki, that I should kill myself.-
Tsukishima's heart started beating very fast.
-Don't you ever.- he said hardly. -Don't you ever try to listen to that voice, do you hear me? Don't you ever try to take your life away from me, Yamaguchi.- Tsukishima's voice quivered a little by the end on the line. Yamaguchi nodded sadly.
-I've been wanting to hurt myself in a while too but I'd never do that to you.- he added. -I'm scared, Tsukki. Sometimes the voices won't shut up. They keep telling me I must die. This is tearing me apart. Help me Tsukki, I really can't take it anymore.- Tsukishima felt his friend's body tremble hard and he knew he was crying. He tried his best to soothe him, hugging him tightly. It made him sick how much his friend had been going through all this time.
-Yamaguchi, I know this is scaring but I promise I will be there every single time you need me. But I think you should seek for professional help.- Yamaguchi jumped at his friend's words, feeling his stomach tighten and panic rise. Many thoughts were racing through his mind but Tsukishima's reasuring voice calmed him down a little.
-Let me finish please. Don't be afraid. I know this seems the worst thing to do but let me tell you something. I will be there no matter what and I will help you any time you need but you also have to help yourself.- he said.
-I-I d-don't want anyone t-to know.-
-We'll keep it a secret, I promise. And please, don't ever push me away again. Just talk to me.- Tsukishima's pleading voice made Yamaguchi feel like his heart was being ripped over and over.
-I'm sorry Tsukki. I really am. I promise I will scream for your help if I need to.- Tsukishima nodded.
-I only want you to be safe. We all want it. When I went to the gym to tell Daichi I wasn't going to stay today and when he didn't see you with me, he gave me a so worried look I felt sick thinking you were alone.- His arms held him so tight and that made Yamaguchi feel safer than every word his friend had said before.
-I am sorry. I promise I will get better. I don't want you to worry so much about me.-
-Idiot, how could I not? It's not just because of the current situation. You are my best friend and I would die if anything happened to you. We all need our little crow with freckles to cheer for us during matches and to give our opponents a tough time as a pinch server.- Yamaguchi laughed and it felt like a weight had lifted up from his chest.
-I feel better now. Thank you Tsukki.-
-I won't leave you alone Yamaguchi. You know I'm usually not good with words and I may seem cold or distant, but you know I care about you.-
-I do and I won't let you down. Yes, I know I will fall on my knees many times again but that will be just because I got up on my feet in the first place, right?-
Tsukishima nodded and whispered slightly -You're an idiot- and Yamaguchi giggled, before the both fell asleep in that warm, dark room that was their safe haven.