It was three in the morning and the night was as quiet as could be. Not even the sounds of owls or early birds were heard in the halls of the student’s dorms of Shiratorizawa Academy.
He was usually described as sneaky by his classmates, who never seemed to realize that he was standing right next to them until he started to speak, in spite of being one of the tallest persons in the entire school.
In the dead of night and with no sound to distract him, he finally understood them, as his footsteps were light enough to not be heard by his own ears.
I am sneaky, who’d have thought?
This was at least a weekly occurrence, his insomnia keeping him awake and bored enough to go roaming the dorms’ halls. He liked better when the weather cooperated and he could go roaming the school grounds but alas, the heat wave that had begun three days prior and had gotten worse day after day didn’t give three craps about his insomnia. No going to roam school grounds tonight, no sir. He’d rather roam the dorms’ halls; they at least had central air conditioning.
He didn’t even feel like singing -a preferred hobby of his-, because of the quietness. It made him feel a little uncomfortable. He was definitely not used to this kind of calm. Living in the dorms of your high school and being in the volleyball team doesn’t exactly provide opportunities to be calm.
If he was completely honest with himself, he felt better when there was noise around. He liked noise. It drowned the bad thoughts. Or at least they were harder to hear than in quietness.
Recently, all of his bad thoughts surrounded his volleyball teammates. He had failed them. He knows and understands very clearly that a team wins and loses as a team. He knows this. It was engraved on his brain his first match as a starter in Shiratorizawa. They had won back then and he had been over the moon with happiness.
This time, however, they had lost. And to him, it had never felt as harrowing as it did after the match against Karasuno. Not because of himself. He had known that the tournament would be the last one of his volleyball career. He had already decided it before it had even begun. What he never imagined, was that they wouldn’t make it to Nationals. What he never imagined, was that his best friend -his rock, the person he most admired in the world, and the one he would never get enough of-, would have to cut his high school career short. Why him? He was the prodigy, the hope everybody relied on. He’d had a too heavy weight resting on his shoulders.
The bad thoughts are usually about himself. How weird he is, how he should have done this instead of that, how he is never going to amount to anything. After that match, all of the bad thoughts are about his teammates. They didn’t deserve what happened. He could have done something else to help. He was a starting member, after all. He was the middle blocker. He was the monster. And he knows. He knows that teams win and lose as one, but he also knows that he hadn’t been enough. And he had cut his best friend’s high school career short.
Thinking back on it, he was grateful for the calm and quietness. If it hadn’t been as quiet as it was, he would’ve never heard it. The sniffles, the soft and almost muted whimpers. He would bow in thanks to any god he didn’t believe in for that moment. The sounds, the only sounds in the night, came from his best friend’s room.
He didn’t hesitate. He went for the door. It was unlocked. He pushed it open. He stood in the threshold. And he felt his heart constrict inside his chest.
His best friend, practically the only one in the school that was taller than himself, was sitting on the floor with his arms folded on top of his knees and his forehead on his arms. He had never seen him look so small.
His best friend was the only person who had never described him as sneaky. He always noticed him. That moment was no exception. He lifted his head and it took a few seconds before his eyes adjusted enough to recognize who it was.
“Tendou.” The deep, strong voice that always carried him forward was husky and weak. A little piece broke off from his heart. He had never heard such a sound. It was sad, to say the least.
“Wakatoshi-kun,” he said and quietly closed the door after entering. He crossed the room and sat down right beside his best friend. His shoulders and hips were touching. “Cry all you need to, just know that you don’t have to do it alone.”
The sniffles and soft whimpers resumed. It turns out Wakatoshi-kun was not trying to be quiet, that is just the way he cries. Tendou found it somehow endearing. It was weird. He was sure he never wanted to hear his best friend crying ever again.
“How do you do it?” It was what felt like hours later when Wakatoshi-kun finally stopped crying and asked him this question.
“People always think I’m strange. I know they think that about you too. You don’t seem to care and I wanted to know how you did that.”
Tendou had never seen his best friend looking as vulnerable as he was right now. And he was not thinking about volleyball. He was not thinking about something that he couldn’t change. He was not focusing on the past. It was true; people had always thought Ushijima Wakatoshi was a bit weird. Maybe it was the way he spoke. Maybe it was the fact that he was always honest and transparent. Maybe it was the fact that he was one of the best volleyball players in Japan and he still blushed every time somebody praised his skills. Or maybe it was because he couldn’t understand why people found him attractive.
All of those qualities did not make Tendou think that he was weird at all. In fact, all of those qualities made Tendou think that Wakatoshi would always deserve the good things that happen to him. They made Tendou feel like he couldn’t have found someone better to become best friends with. They made Tendou feel like he never wanted to be apart from him.
“I don’t do anything. I know people think I’m weird and I’m terrified everyday of being alone like I was when I was little. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t like the quiet.” He looks to the wall in front of them. “But then I remember I have the team. And I remember that I have you.” He meets Wakatoshi’s eyes. They are shining. “And you’re the quietest person I know. And then I think that maybe the quiet isn’t so bad.”
“And I don’t think you’re weird. I think you are straightforward and always honest. I think you are the best person I know and the greatest friend I could ever have. I don’t think you’re weird at all, ‘Toshi-kun.”
His best friend’s smile was worth it. He was worth everything Tendou had to go through to get to this point.
“You’re the loudest person I know. You talk all the time, and sing. And I usually don’t like loud people. But you are my best friend. And when it’s you that is being loud, I don’t mind.” And if there had been a mess inside his chest while Wakatoshi-kun was crying, it was now a fully functioning heart, beating loudly through his shirt.
“Then I’ll be the loudest person at all your games in college, ‘Toshi-kun. You’re gonna hear me all the way from the court.” The smile in Wakatoshi-kun’s face had not yet vanished. It was the longest time he’d seen him smile.
“I’ll always save you a ticket, even if you can’t come. I mean, I know you’re not going to college in Tokyo. I can’t expect you to be at every game.” He broke eye contact and focused on the wall in front of them. Tendou bumped his shoulder against his.
“C’mon, Toshi-kun. Give me some credit! Of course I’m going to college in Tokyo!” Wakatoshi whipped his head to look at him so fast that Tendou thought he’d break his neck. “I may not be going to Waseda like you, but I got into Chuo. So we’ll be like, an hour away from each other.” He started to blush. It was probably not the best time to ask, but whatever. “And I had thought… maybe we could get an apartment together? Maybe in Komae or Choufu, so we could both be halfway to our campuses? Only if you want to, of course…”
Wakatoshi’s smile was back. This time, it spread to his whole face and his eyes shone with intensity. Tendou returned the smile and gave in to his impulses, pulling his best friend in for a hug.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t see you every day. I did not want that to happen.” Wakatoshi squeezed his body a little tighter and Tendou felt, for the first time in his life, like he didn’t need to say anything else.