"I'm going to be passing back your exams from last Friday," the teacher tells us as she picks up a large stack of papers. A couple of students groan aloud, probably already knowing they got a bad grade.
I just slouch back in my chair. I'm one of those kids today.
"Groan all you want. It won't make your grades better," the teacher says as she walks around handing papers out. "What will is dedication and consistent studying."
My best friend, Yui, the captain of our volleyball team, turns around in her chair in front of me and flashes me her score with a thumbs up. The paper reads "90%" in the teacher's red pen.
I smile at her. "Congrats," I tell her.
"What did you get?" Yui asks me as the teacher hands me my paper with a "51%" at the top.
"You're usually not like this, Azumane-san," the teacher tells me.
"I know and I'm sorry," I reply with knots twisting in my stomach. "It won't happen again."
As she walks away Yui nudges me. "You know that there was a good reason for this bad grade," she tells me, her eyes sad.
"No there isn't," I say, looking at my desk.
"Just tell her the truth. That your dog had to be-" she starts
"-Please, don't say it," I cut her off. "I don't wanna think about that right now."
"Okay, I understand," she says, putting her hand on top of mine in a supportive way. "Also, it's just one exam grade." She gives me a reassuring smile.
"Yeah, but it will still drag my grade down a lot," I shrug. "I can't have that happening especially now that I'm going to be applying to colleges soon. Also, this is my best class. I'm pulling B's right now in Anatomy and Chemistry."
"You'll pull them back up in no time," she says.
I fake a smile at her, and she grins back.
Class ends and Yui and I walk out heading for the school entrance. The boys reserved the court after school today, so we are heading home. As we head down the stairs I stiffen slightly. At the bottom of the stairs is my crush of over two years, Sawamura Daichi.
"Sawamura!" Yui calls out to him. He turns toward us, and I feel myself blush lightly and avoid his gaze.
"Oh hi, Michimaya-san, Asuga-chan," Daichi says with a smile.
"You heading to practice?" I ask him as we reach the bottom of the stairs and stop in front of him.
"Yeah, I gotta get there quick or I'm afraid Kageyama and Hinata will start fighting again," he says with light laugh.
"What a dad," Yui exclaims with a laugh.
"Sounds like you got your hands full this year with the new kids, captain," I add with a grin.
"Yeah, they are quite the cast of characters, but they have some valuable skills," he tells us. "I don't want to jinx it, but I have a feeling we have a chance against the other teams this year."
"Wow, that's bold," Yui says.
Daichi laughs while his cheeks tint to a pinkish color. "Yeah, guess it is, but I'm hoping for a good year. I gotta run though."
"Yeah, get to practice," Yui tells him. "Do your best," she adds as he walks away. He turns to give her a smile and thumbs up.
As he rounds the corner Yui let's out a little squeal. "Isn't he just so sweet and handsome? And by god those muscles. I'd let him punch me in the face anyday."
"Huh?" I choked out, looking at her as my stomach clenches.
"Sawamura-san," she gushes. "He is so kind and confident and determined. Not to mention he's not bad on the eyes. Don't you agree?"
"I-I guess I n-never thought about it before," I stutter, scratching the back of my neck and tugging on one of my french braids, nervously. Yui doesn't notice as she is too busy daydreaming happily. "D-do you like him?" I ask her, fearing the answer.
Yui blushes, a bit flustered. "Yeah..." she mumbles.
My heart sinks at this new information, but I can't let her know that. She's my best friend. I need to be supportive no matter what. I give her a smile. "You should go for it," I tell her.
"Really?" Yui gasps as we exit the gates.
"Yeah, I mean, why not?" I declare. "Its our last year."
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, I think to myself.
No matter how much I love Yui, I don't know how I'd feel seeing her with Daichi. I know I'm jealous, but I can't help it.
Well, there's a chance Daichi might not even like Yui like that.
"Hey, Asuga!" I hear my brother call to me from down the hallway the next Monday.
Two girls shy away from my hulking brother as he makes his way to me. The girls give us an odd glance and then hurry off. Asahi and I are used to this by now. His looks might make him seem intimidating, but what people don't know is my twin brother is the physical embodiment of the cowardly lion.
"Hi, Asahi," I reply. "What's up?"
"Just wanted to know if you heard that mom got off of work early today. She'll be home when you get home from school," he tells me.
"Oh, I didn't know that thanks," I reply.
"Oh, and one more thing. I almost forgot," he says, offhandedly. "It's about Daichi."
I freeze, waiting for him to continue. Please don't say he knows that I have a crush on his friend.
"He's been mentioning your friend Yui a lot," Asahi continues. "I think he might have a slight crush, it's kinda funny, but he might want to know how she feels about him."
My heart sinks into a dark puddle of despair as I try to keep myself composed under the watchful eyes of my twin.
Calm down, Asuga. Be a good friend. Don't ruin this for Yui.
"I'm not at liberty to disclose such information," I tell my brother, trying to keep my voice light and playful. "As her best friend my lips are sealed. If Diachi-kun wants to know, he should ask her himself."
Asahi raises his eyebrows at me. I just give him a blank stare in return, because that's all I can do to hold back my emotions.
"Alright then," Asahi concludes. "I'll relay that information. Have a safe walk home."
"Practice hard," I tell him in return.
My walk home is quiet, my face blank and mind reeling.
I should call Yui. She'd be so happy to hear what Asahi just told me. I just don't know how I will be able to keep myself together when I get home, especially with my mom home.
I see a playground across the street and decide to stop there. There's no one there besides a boy with what looks like his younger brother by the monkey bars. I sit myself on a swing which is a good distance away from the pair and give Yui a call. Judging by the squeals of delight on the other end of the phone, I can tell my best friend is ecstatic. I fake a few laughs and reply to her when she asks me questions. We finally hang up and I slump on the swing, my head hanging low as all the emotions from the past two weeks come out; from my dog, to my grades, to this ordeal with Daichi. Tears roll down my face as I sit on the swing, gripping the chains tightly. I shouldn't be crying because of something like this. Why can't I just get over this. This shouldn't be that big of a deal, so why am I so upset?
"Hey, are you okay over there?" A voice reaches my ears making me wipe my tears and look up.
I see the boy from before walking up to me. He looks about my age with fluffy, medium brown hair. He's tall and rather attractive, wearing a school uniform from another local school. I can't remember which one at the moment.
"What? Yeah, I'm fine," I tell him quickly, flashing a fake smile, something I've been doing quite a lot recently.
The boy narrows his eyes studying me. "Look, I may not be an expert on women's feelings, but I do know that when a crying girl says she's 'fine,' she's not."
"I wasn't crying," I shoot back.
"You were balling your eyes out, sweetheart. Just admit it," he scoffs with an eye roll. "Even my nephew could tell."
I glance at the young boy pulling himself up on top of the monkey bars and crawling across them.
"Be careful, Takeru!" he calls to the boy, then looks back at me, his hands on his hips as if waiting for me to respond.
"Okay, I was crying," I mutter. "What's it to you?"
"What were you crying about?" He takes a seat on the swing next to me, still keeping an eye on his nephew.
I'm about to spit out another defensive retort when I stop myself. This guy goes to a different school, and I've never seen him before. I could spill everything to him, and nothing would get out. We are perfect strangers, and I'm probably never going to see him again. He could be a good person to vent to.
I take a breath. "A lot of things," I say softly. "It’s stupid really."
"If it made you cry that much it’s not stupid," he comments. "So, what happened, if you mind me asking."
"Well the first thing that's been eating away at me for the past couple weeks is that my family needed to put our dog down two weeks ago," I start.
The boy next to me sighs sadly. "I'm sorry. That must have been difficult."
I just nod. "Well, because of that my grades slipped since I had two big exams a couple days after that." I draw patterns in the dirt with the tip of my shoe as I speak.
"Didn't you talk to the teachers about it?" he asks me. "Surely they would have let you take the exams a day or two later, so you have time to grieve."
I just shake my head. "That's not right. I can't just cry my way out of difficult things to make my life easier," I say.
"Isn't that what you were just doing?" He pushes himself off a bit, making him swing slightly.
"I wasn't doing it to get pity," I retort, hotly. "I just needed to let off some steam."
"I get it," he nods. "You can't keep your emotions bottled up for too long or else it could drag you down."
"Yeah, I need to study a lot more now to pull my grades back up if I want to become a oncologist," I comment.
"You wanna be a oncologist?" The boy looks at me, cocking his head to the side. “That’s rather specific.”
"Yeah, but I won't be if I can't get into a good college," I say.
"Well grades are an easy fix, so don't cry about it anymore," he tells me.
The little boy, Takeru wanders up to us as we sit on the swings.
"Hi, you're really pretty!" Takeru exclaims as he reaches us.
I giggle lightly at the young raven-haired boy in front of me, a blush heating up my cheeks at his blunt statement.
"Well you'll just have to get in line then, champ. I bet this girl has all the guys lining up to take her out," he says playfully with a wink.
Unfortunately, what he says makes me frown as I look at my brown shoes, remembering my previous phone call with Yui.
The boy sees the expression on my face and frowns. "Oh no, please don't tell me your boyfriend recently broke up with you too."
"N-no, it's not like that," I tell him.
"Then boy troubles?"
"Yeah," I mumble, lightly kicking the dirt underneath the swing with my shoe.
"You wanna talk about it?" he asks me as Takeru wanders away towards the fireman's pole, where he attempts to climb up it. "As you can tell, I'm a great listener."
I smile lightly at his words as he shoots me a dazzling smile. He's a really nice guy. I'm glad he's the one I met today, although I can tell he's the pretty-boy, heartbreaker type of guy. I let out a sigh before I explain my situation.
"So, you've liked this guy for three years now and still haven't told him how you feel?" He asks after I finish my explanation.
"Yeah..." I mutter. "It’s too late now anyway. Daichi-kun likes Yui. There's nothing I can do besides support them."
"You could always steal him from your friend," he suggests with a casual shrug.
"What kind of friend would I be if I did that?" I question, glaring at the boy next to me.
"Hey, I was kidding!" he says with a laugh. His playful smile then changes to bittersweet as he stares up at the sky above us. The wispy clouds slightly obscuring the vast ocean of blue. "I get why your so upset about all those things. You're grades and the guy you like, I mean."
"Hm?" I say, egging him to continue his explanation.
"The thing you want more than anything else, is just out of your reach," he states softly. "No matter what you do, how much you try, practice, study, or train, it'll always be something that always slips away right as you think you almost catch it."
"I'm sensing a tragic backstory to those thoughts," I say to him. "I'm all ears. Don't be afraid to cry. Hell, you've already seen me do it."
"I guess," he shrugs. "Although, I'm not really the crying type. I usually just play-"
His sentence is interrupted by his phone ringing in his pocket. He pulls it out and checks the caller ID.
"You want your son back now?" He says as he answers the phone. Takeru hears his uncle's one-sided conversation and runs over.
"Is that mom?" He asks.
"Yeah, buddy here." The boy hands Takeru the phone.
"Hi, Mom!" Takeru exclaims as he holds the phone to his ear. "Yeah, Uncle Tooru brought me to the park!"
"So, the name's Tooru," I comment.
"Oikawa Tooru to be exact, yes," he explains, proudly. His name sounds slightly familiar as if I've heard it somewhere before, but I can't place it. "And can I have yours?"
"Azumane Asuga," I state.
"Well, Asu-chan, it was nice talking to you, but I gotta drop this guy back off at home," he says with a cute grin.
"Yeah, sure, but Uncle Tooru is flirting with a pretty girl right now. I don't think he wants to talk to you now," we both hear Takeru say on the phone.
Oikawa snatches the phone from his nephew. "I think that's enough phone for you today," he tells him. "Asu-chan, I'll see you around." He gives me a little wave.
"Yeah, see you, Oikawa," I tell him. "And thank you for listening."
He gives me a smile and walks off with Takeru, the phone to his ear. "Yes, I was watching him! I happen to be very good at multitasking. No, my girlfriend didn't dump me. We broke up on mutual terms because I need to focus more on volleyball. Oh, come on. You sound just like Iwa-chan!"
So, he plays volleyball as well, huh. Maybe I'll see him around at a tournament or something. That would be kinda nice.
I sling my bag on my shoulder as I make my way home, my spirits a little higher due to my chat with a certain brunette.
My shoes squeak as I quickly change my direction of motion. Leaping through the air, my arms outstretched, I bump the volleyball upward and clumsily put my hands out to cushion my dive, sliding on the ground on my stomach.
"Nice receive!" Yui shouts to me as Mei sets the ball to her. I jump to my feet and prepare myself to dive again, as Yui leaps into the air and spikes the ball over the net. It hits the ground as Haruka dives for it. Yui let's out a cheer and I grin, high fiving her. We then continue on with our three on three practice match since only six of us showed up to practice today.
"Good job, everyone!" Yui says to everyone as we clean up after practice. "We might have a chance to do well at the tournament next week."
"That's what the captains say every year, but it never happens," Mei complains
"Hey, I don't wanna hear any of that negativity!" I tell her. "If Yui-chan says we have a chance, then I believe we do."
"Why don't you two just date already?" Haruka laughs.
"But I thought Asuga-chan and I were already married!" Yui exclaims in shock, her voice brimming with laughter.
"Babe, don't listen to those haters," I tell her, playing along. I then notice the twins standing huddled around something Ito is holding. "What are you guys looking at? You're supposed to be sweeping."
"The newest issue of Monthly Volleyball came out yesterday and there's a whole article on Oikawa Tooru!" Ima explains in an excited voice.
"Who?" I say, recognizing the name.
"Oikawa Tooru! Not only is he extremely hot, but he is the best setter in our region," Ito continues her sister's explanation. "Just look at him!"
I take a look at the magazine and sure enough, grinning back at me is a picture of familiar boy with brown hair and matching brown eyes.
Tooru Oikawa. So that's why I recognized his name. I met the famous captain and setter of the powerhouse school, Aoba Johsai, in the park as I cried my eyes out.
Didn't Asahi tell me that they versed Aoba Johsai in a practice match earlier this week? What if somehow Oikawa put two and two together after hearing Daichi's name and my brother's last name at the match? Would he be able to make that kind of connection? Did he figure out who I am? Please tell me he didn't. Now that I've made this connection, I remember hearing some not so good things about Oikawa. He's known for his looks and to have girls fawning over him all the time. People say he also has a bad personality and is a bit of a narcissist. Oh god, why did that have to be him that I spilled all my emotions to in the park?
"Hey, Asuga-chan, are you okay there?" Mei asks me, snapping me out of my daze.
"I think Asuga-san's in love!" Haruka teases, dragging out the last word.
"Oh, as if I'd fall for someone like that," I scoff. "Pretty boys aren’t my type. I-"
I stop myself. I was about to explain how we met, but that would raise some questions that I don't really want to answer.
"I just think he's nice to look at," I finish.
"Hell yeah, he is!" Ima gushes. I sigh knowing I told them what they wanted to hear and are off my back.
"So, what was up back there?" Yui says to me as we walk out the school gates.
"What do you mean?" I ask her.
"You've never really taken an interest in boys all throughout high school, and even though the girls didn't see that look you had on your face, I could tell you were thinking about something weird when you saw that magazine," my best friend tells me.
Of course she picks up on the slightest actions I make. She's my best friend and is the person that knows me the most. The only thing she doesn't notice is the crush I've had for three years.
And thank the Lord for that.
I can't lie to her. She'd know. So how do I spin the truth slightly, so she doesn't figure it out.
"A couple days ago, after I got back those really bad test scores and the counselor said if I don't work my ass off, there's a large chance I can't get get into one of the schools I want, I stopped at that park that's on my way home from school. I was crying on a swing when Oikawa saw me when he was there with his nephew."
"Oh gosh, that's embarrassing," Yui comments.
"Yeah, tell me about it," I say with an embarrassed laugh. "But he was actually really nice and let me vent to him which made me feel a lot better."
"So, you didn't know who he was? And he didn't recognize your last name?" Yui asks. "The boys have played Aoba Johsai at tournaments in the past."
I shake my head. "When he told me his name, I knew I recognized it from somewhere, but I didn't make the connection until I saw him in the magazine," I tell her. "He didn't seem to recognize my name either when I told him."
"Oh my gosh, the heartthrob of boys’ volleyball comforted you when you were upset!" Yui exclaims, giddily. "That's so cute! You two should meet up during the tournament next week. You guys would be so cute!"
"Woah, woah, woah!" I stop her from continuing her tirade. "I barely know the guy, chill. Plus, I've heard some not so great things about him."
"Like what?" Yui asks as she balances on the edge of the sidewalk like it's a balance beam as she walks alongside me.
"I heard he's a bit of the fuckboy type. Girls are always all over him," I start. "He trash talks a lot during games and is a sore loser."
"Well he's hot. Of course he has girls falling for him, but you should look at yourself in a mirror sometime. I mean look at those legs in that skirt," she laughs, slapping my ass. I squeak and cover my butt with my hands as I glare at her. She just cackles at me. "Also, everyone does their fair share of trash talk on the court and doesn't like to lose."
"I guess," I say. "I'm just embarrassed about how we met. He literally saw me cry over my grades. I don't really think I have the courage to see him again, especially since he's kind of a big deal in our world of volleyball. He's up there with Ushijima Wakatoshi."
"Yeah but Ushijima is more scary than dreamy," she shrugs. "Plus, Oikawa saw you crying and decided to comfort you. He could have just minded his own business."
"Yeah, I guess, but it’s kind of hard to ignore a crying girl," I comment.
"Probably, but it seemed he was really kind to you," she tells me. "You never know. He could have taken an interest to you."
I scoff. "Doubtful," I remark, remembering the picture I saw of him giving a group of girls a dazzling smile. Although thinking back there was something off about him in all those pictures in Monthly Volleyball. Compared to when I talked with him, he seems almost artificial. What am I saying? How should I know? I don't even know the guy. I just had a small chance encounter.
But in the back of my mind as I walked home, I couldn't help but compare his smiles to the ones I give when I don't mean them.
I stare out the bus window, my leg anxiously bouncing up and down as houses pass through my vision. It's the first day of the tournament and the nerves have kept the bus silent during the whole trip. We should have practiced more. We aren't ready for this, but I can't let regrets bother me. It won't help me now regretting my actions.
When we arrive, we wish the boys good luck and head in the direction of where the girls' games are. There are boys and girls from all different schools here all warming up to play volleyball. I feel a bit intimidated, but I try not to let it bother me. The key word "try."
"Oh my gosh! There he is!" Ima exclaims quietly to her sister.
"He looks more like a prince in real life!" Ito responds in the same tone.
Yui nudges me and I look over to see none other than Oikawa Tooru in an Aoba Johsai jacket chatting with a swarm of girls, laughing gleefully. Yup, just as I thought.
"You girls are just the sweetest!" he exclaims. "I'll make sure-"
He stops when his eyes meet mine. I feel my face grow warm as his eyes widen in recognition. Well, there goes my plan of never seeing him again.
"Oi, Trashykawa!" a voice booms, and Oikawa flinches, looking away from me to a dark-haired boy wearing the same jacket as him.
"Oh, hiya Iwa-chan," Oikawa says with a wave and nervous smile. I smirk. It seems he's intimidated a bit by his teammate's glare.
"We have to warm up, come on," his teammate says.
"But-" I see him look over at me again briefly until his teammate grabs him by the collar of his jacket.
"You can talk to your fans after our games," the boy tells Oikawa as he drags him away.
"Iwa-chan! I can walk by myself," Oikawa complains as they disappear around the corner.
Just then Yui punches me in the arm.
"Ow," I complain, rubbing where she hit me.
"See, I told you he has a thing for you!" Yui exclaims. "He kept on staring at you."
"That's probably because he was surprised to see me again, especially at a volleyball tournament," I respond, rolling my eyes.
"I think its fate that you two met," she giggles as we walk through the crowded hallway.
"I think the word you're looking for is coincidence," I mutter.
I wipe the sweat off my forehead as I stand, knees slightly bent, on the court. We are losing badly. No matter how many times I receive the ball, we seem to just barely score, and those are the times I am able to receive them. We have already lost the first set, and the second set is at match point for the other team while we have 21 points. I watch with narrowed eyes as the opponent setter's eyes glance to where they want to hit it. I glance at the spiker coming in for the kill. Judging by where the spiker is spiking from and where my teammates are, I dart across the court. The girl spikes the ball and I dive. Yes! It ricochets off my forearm up into the air.
"Nice recieve!" I hear a few of my teammates yell. I quickly hop to my feet as Yui spikes the ball, and it gets blocked by two girls' wall.
I dive for the ball again, but I'm too slow. I lay on the ground with my arms outstretched as the ball bounces away. I watch the ball roll away just laying there on my stomach, my arms still outstretched. I then slowly get up onto my knees, my head down as I hear cheering from the other team. My teammates are quiet as the realization that we lost sinks in.
If I had only been just a little bit faster, I could have recieved that ball. I could have recieved a lot more. We could have won if only I had done better. My last year playing volleyball and we don't win a single game.
I look up at my team. Haruka and Ito are crying.
Stay strong, Asuga. It will hurt the underclassmen even more if they see the third years cry.
I look over at Yui. My best friend's face is void of emotion. We make eye contact and I nod at her. She nods back and looks at the sullen faces of our team.
"Okay girls, let's grab our stuff and head out. The next teams need to warm up," she tells us. I can hear the slight waver in her voice as she speaks. She's trying to hold in her emotions as well for the benefit of our girls.
We head out and stop in an empty hallway to collect our things.
If only I had practiced more, if I had tried harder.
"I'm gonna head to the bathroom," I tell Yui. She nods, understanding my underlying reason for getting away from the group.
I slowly walk down one of the hallways finally finding a vacant dead end. Leaning against the wall, I slide down and lean my head on my knees.
I made so many mistakes today. Yui was really looking forward to this. She really believed we could do well, and I ruined it. She barely could score because I was unable to receive a lot of the spikes they hit at us.
I feel tears slide down my face as I sit on the ground.
"Why is it that every time I try to talk to you, you're crying?" I hear a voice. Even before I look up, I know who it is. Now for the real question to be answered.
"Oikawa, how did you find me?" I question, looking up at him as I wipe the tears from my eyes.
He's leaning against the wall next to me, his arms crossed. There's a small smile on lips but a hint of sadness and pity in his brown eyes. His brown hair is damp with probably sweat, and he's wearing his school volleyball jacket but has donned a black knee pad with a white knee brace on the other leg, hinting that he's just finished a game.
He just shrugs. "Why are you crying?"
"I'm at a volleyball tournament. What do you think it could be?" I reply.
"From what I saw, you still played remarkably," he comments.
"I could barely receive their spikes," I state. "And how would you know?"
"My game finished early so I thought I'd check how my newest friend was at volleyball," he says, nonchalantly. "Like I said, you did well for how inferior your team was to your opponents, no offense. I heard that team has gotten to at least the semifinals for the past couple of years. Not many players could receive that many of their spikes."
"It still wasn't enough, although I guess I should take that compliment seeming that you’re the famous setter from Aoba Johsai," I mutter.
He laughs uncomfortably. "So, you do know who I am," he affirms.
"I made the connection a few days later when one of my teammates was fawning over you in Monthly Volleyball," I tell him.
"You know when I saw you today and realized you played volleyball as well, it kinda hurt my feelings that you didn't recognize me," he declares.
Well that's kinda egotistical.
"It also kinda made me happy," he admits as he slides down the wall to sit next to me. "People in volleyball and at my school always treat me differently since they think I'm some kind of celebrity. It was nice talking to someone normally for a change."
"I wouldn't really call our conversation at the park normal," I assert. "Neither is this."
He tilts his head back and gives me a side glance, a grin tugging on his lips. "I still like it much more."
My cheeks unintentionally flush at his statement and I stare at the wall in front of me. We sit in silence for a few seconds until Oikawa speaks up again.
"So, you go to Karasuno," he mentions. "I thought the name Azumane sounded familiar. The ace with the long hair, am I right?"
"Yeah, Asahi is my brother," I confirm.
"And Sawamura Daichi?" Oikawa adds, giving that same sideways look at me as my head snaps to look at him in surprise. "The boy's captain. He's the one, isn't he?"
I'm silent as I look away from the brunette next to me, twisting one of my brown French braids in my hand. "Yeah," I mumble. "He's the one."
He nods at my confirmation. "How's that been going?"
I shrug listlessly. "No change."
"They haven't started dating?" Oikawa inquires.
"No, they're both too afraid to make the first move and confess, I guess," I answer.
"Are you doing okay?" He asks. "Are your grades getting better?"
"I'm slowly making progress. I'm studying a lot for it," I tell him, surprised that he remembered and cared enough to ask. "I guess the one good thing about losing today is that I have more time to study. What about you? Your team is favored to go to the finals."
"Oh, I'm gonna make sure we get to the finals and finally win it this year against Shiratorizawa," he declares with a glint in his eyes. "I have to win."
"I'm guessing you trained a lot for this," I say.
He nods. "I trained almost every day. Usually for a few hours."
I finally give him a smile. "Well, I really hope you win then," I tell him. "Unless you’re playing Karasuno cause then I have to root for my brother."
He looks at me with an almost surprised expression on his face, a blush dusting his cheeks. Then, a wide smile forms on his face. "Well if your wishing me luck then I have to win, and just so you know, if I do verse your brother's team, I don't plan on going easy on them." His smile turns in a smirk on that last comment.
"Hey, Shittykawa!" A voice from the other end of the hallway startles both of us as Oikawa springs to his feet. I see the same boy who dragged Oikawa away earlier today walking toward us with a glare on his face.
"Oh, hi Iwa-chan!" Oikawa exclaims.
"So, you ran away to talk to your fans," he accuses. "Just reject their love confessions and come on. Our next game is soon."
This makes me snort with laughter as I stand up and lean against the wall.
"What's so funny?" the boy asks.
"I'm not one of his fans," I say giggling. "And I definitely wouldn't confess my love to him."
"Who are you then?" The boy glances down at my Karasuno uniform in confusion.
"I met her at a park a few weeks ago when she was crying," Oikawa explains.
"Hey!" I exclaim, slapping him in the back of the head. "Don't just go around blabbing that I was crying to everyone or else I'll start calling you 'Shittykawa' as well."
"Ow," Oikawa says, rubbing the back of his head with a pout. "You're just like Iwa-chan."
The boy looks back and forth at the both of us with a hint of a smile on his face. "I kinda already like her," he says to Oikawa, pointing at me. "The name's Iwaizumi Haijime. I'm pretty much this idiot's babysitter since he doesn't know how to stay out of trouble."
"I'm not a child, Iwa-chan!" Oikawa argues.
"Azumane Asuga," I reply, ignoring Oikawa.
"Azumane?" Iwaizumi questions as if recognizing my name.
"Her brother is the ace on the Karasuno boys’ team," Oikawa explains before I can.
"Oh, anyway, Oikawa, say goodbye. We have to go," he states.
"Okay, okay," Oikawa replies then turns to me. "I'll see you around, Asu-chan. I hope you're rooting for me." He gives me a wink and catches up to Iwaizumi.
"You really shouldn't run off like that," I hear Iwaizumi tell Oikawa. "I had to waste my time looking for you."
"You're not my mother, Iwa-chan," Oukawa says, light-heartedly. "I knew when I needed to be back."
Their bickering voices fade as I'm left standing in the hallway alone.
The next day, Yui and some of the other girls on our team decide to miss school to support the boys. And by decided, I mean Yui threatened to burn all of my Bungou Stray Dogs merch that I owned. Also, she stole my flash drive with some important school documents on it and wouldn't give it back until I promised to go. I love the girl and would do anything for her, but she aggravates me sometimes.
So here I was again but this time not in my uniform, but in casual clothes. I was wearing something more dressed down at first, but Yui said I should look cuter for the occasion, and since the boys are playing Aoba Johsai, there was a high chance that I'd see Oikawa again. I agreed, not because I'd see Oikawa, but because I knew I'd get to see Daichi there. I made the mistake of telling her about my encounter with Oikawa the day before, skipping over the parts about Daichi. She believes that Oikawa is into me, although I completely disagree. I do agree that I consider him a friend especially after how kind he has been to me, but looking at the way he flirts with every girl he comes across, I have doubts on the liking part. Plus, there's the part that he's not the one I like, but I couldn't really tell her that.
We wave to the boys when we arrive as they warm up on the court. My eyes immediately dart to Daichi who's talking to Suga as they stretch, he looks up at that moment and we make eye contact. I usually freeze up in fear as my heart races, but this time I just smile in encouragement and wave. Him and Suga grin and wave back clearly delighted that us girls showed up to root for them. This makes the all too familiar butterflies bloom in my stomach. My eyes then drift over to the players from Aoba Johsai as I sit in my chair, waiting for the game to begin. I immediately spot Oikawa as he sets the ball to a player who spikes it over the net effortlessly. So, this is what a powerhouse school looks like. My brother and his teammates look over nervously at them and my gut clenches. Everyone believed Date Tech was going to be versing Aoba Johsai today, not Karasuno, and no one thinks they are going to win today either. So, I have to support and encourage them as much as I can, so they know that people do believe in them.
I look over at Oikawa setting the ball to Iwaizumi now, and falter. The determination hinted with almost desperation in his voice when he told me about wanting to finally beat Shiratorizawa made me frown. I almost don't want to see either team lose today.
"Can't decide to root for your brother or your new boyfriend?" Yui teases me, nudging me with her elbow.
"What? No!" I defend too quickly. "Of course I'm supporting Asahi and the guys. And he's not my boyfriend, Yui-chan."
"Who's not your boyfriend?" Mei pipes up from Yui's other side.
"The one and only Oikawa Tooru," Yui says with a cheeky grin.
"What!" Haruka gasps. "Your dating Oikawa Tooru?"
"No, I am definitely not!" I exclaim. "He's just a friend."
"Why didn't you tell us you are friends with him?" Mei complains.
"It was a recent development," I mutter to them.
"We need details, sweetie. How did this happen?" Mei demands.
I sigh and give them a brief overview, skipping over his and my personal parts. I don't think he would want me sharing his insecurities to the girls.
"Oh, he definitely likes you," Haruka says, giggling. "Ugh, I'm so jealous."
"He barely knows me," I tell them. "We've had two brief interactions. That's not enough time for someone to start having feelings for another person."
I look out at the court again and my eyes subconsciously drift to a certain brunette setter. He's standing in the middle of the court looking up at the people sitting behind his school's banner to support them. He then looks over at our banner and sees me. His eyes widen, and a smile forms on his face as he gives me a wave. I wave back, a small smile forming on my lips. This catches the attention of the girls around me, and squeals fill my ears as Yui shakes my arm.
"See? We told you!" Yui states.
I glare at them all, but I feel my face heating up. "You guys are the worst," I tell them, but they know I don't mean it. No matter how much they tease me they are like sisters to me.
I'm more annoyed at myself for blushing like a crushing schoolgirl. Well I am a crushing schoolgirl, but he's not the one I have a crush on. Stupid Oikawa.
It's been a few weeks since the boys lost to Aoba Johsai. Asahi and the other third year boys decided to stay on the team, much to their guidance counselor's dismay, but I knew that they were happy and determined to get better. I took that as inspiration and studied and worked even harder to pick up my grades.
I also heard that Shiratorizawa won the finals again, signaling that Oikawa lost again. I haven't seen him since his game against Karasuno and I hope he's not taking the loss to hard.
It's a Monday afternoon, and I am walking home from school, reading over my anatomy notes from today, trying to memorize every word on the page and their definitions. I'm about to cross the street when I hear a shout behind me. "Uncle Tooru, look! It's the crying girl!"
I knew immediately who was behind me and quickly spin around, seeing Oikawa walking towards me with Takeru.
"That's very rude, Takeru," Oikawa teases his nephew. "Asu-chan isn't crying right now.
I roll my eyes at the boys and give them a wave. "You guys heading to the park?"
"Yeah!" The young boy exclaims with a hop.
"Would you like to join us?" Oikawa asks me. Something is different about him today. On the bridge of his nose rests a pair of glasses which I didn't know he wore.
Damn that's cute.
Wait, what? Did I just think that?
I shrug off my odd thought and answer his question. "I don't know. I have a quiz tomorrow and I need to study a-"
"Aw, come on Asu-chan!" Takeru whines using his uncle's nickname for me as he grabs my hand. "You can play for a bit can't you, please?"
"Hey, I'm the only one who can call her that," Oikawa pouts at his nephew. "Get your own nickname!"
I look into the young boy's big pleading eyes. Damn, he's got me. How can I say no to that face? "Okay, since you asked so nicely," I sigh. Takeru's face lights up with joy as he keeps a hold on my hand as he drags me to the park.
At the park, we played knights with another young boy and girl who were there. The kids were the knights while Oikawa was the evil wizard who kidnapped the beautiful maiden, A.K.A. me. I never really interacted with young kids besides the few times I had to watch my 7-year-old cousin. It was actually really fun. The kids used sticks to act as swords, and Oikawa made his death scene quite the spectacle. He couldn't stop laughing when the three kids kept on jabbing at him with their swords as he lay on the grass, his glasses slightly askew from the fall.
I smile at the scene. He really knows how to make these kids have fun.
The mother of the two other children comes up to me and thanks us. "You don't know how much it means to me that you and your boyfriend took the time to play with my kids. Rin has always been such a shy boy and I'm so happy to see him this outgoing."
Her story warms my heart, but even though I heard her call Oikawa my boyfriend, I felt it was rude to correct her since she seemed so thankful. "The pleasure is all ours. Your son is a delightful boy."
"Azumane-san! We saved you!" Takeru declares. Oikawa harrassed him until he agreed to not call me "Asu-chan." Apparently Oikawa is the only one allowed to call me that.
"Yes, you guys were so brave!" I tell him. "What do you want your reward to be?"
Takeru thinks about this for a second, then motions for me to get down to his level. I do and he taps his cheek as if signifying that he wants a kiss. I do and he turns bright red.
"Uncle Tooru!" Takeru yells as he runs toward Oikawa. "Did you see? Did you see? Azumane-san gave me a kiss!"
"Did she now?" Oikawa exclaims and then pouts at me. "How come I didn't get one?"
"Because you're the evil wizard who kidnapped me," I tell him, knowingly.
"Aw, no fair!" Oikawa whines like a child.
Oikawa and I are seated on the swings again as Takeru continues to play with the other children. We talk about how school is going and our classes. He asks how my grades have been. This goes on for a bit, but I can tell there's one topic that he's avoiding.
"Oikawa?" I ask him and he hums in response. "How have you really been doing?"
"What do you mean?" Oikawa avoids my eyes as he answers me. "I'm fine, as usual."
"I-I um..." I start, still debating whether I should bring up the sensitive topic. I take a deep breath and continue. "I heard about the game. I'm sorry. Even though I wasn't there, and you destroyed my brother's chances at going to the finals, I was really rooting for you during the finals. I almost got in trouble for watching the livestream on my phone during class," I say with a slight laugh, trying to keep the mood light for his benefit.
"Thank you. That means a lot," he says, softly. "I'm okay though. I just have to work harder, just like you've been doing with your studies. I plan on making it to nationals this next tournament."
I nod, my swing squeaking as I shift uncomfortably. "I kinda wish I could still be in the club like Asahi and the other guys," I say, knowing he doesn't want to talk about the game anymore. "It actually was a good break and stress relief for school."
"All the third-year guys are still in the club?" He asked, surprised.
"Yeah, they're pretty determined about making it to nationals this time around," I tell him. "And I don't know. I feel like they can do it."
"I guess I'm not getting your support then," he pouts, noticeably in higher spirits now that we weren't talking about the finals.
"Well, I gotta support my brother and school, sorry," I say with a cheeky grin.
"But I'm so much more handsome than them," he argues. "Just look at me! How can you not support this face?" He leans closer to me, pointing at himself with a boyish smile. I look at his charming face, his pretty brown eyes sparkling with amusement. His brown hair has a disheveled but sexy look to it, but I'm guessing he spent time in front of the mirror making it look like that.
I mean, even though that was a very egotistical thing to say, he's not wrong.
"Nope. No amount of charm from a pretty face is going to make me betray my brother," I tease.
"Aw, Asu-chan! You think I'm pretty?" Oikawa teases me back, making me blush thinking back to the statement I just said.
I compose myself and settle for rolling my eyes at him. "Can your head get any bigger, you numbskull?" I joke.
"So mean," he replies with his cute pout again. I just laugh at him as Takeru runs up to us.
"Can Azumane-san come with us every Monday that we don't have volleyball lessons?" The young boy's eyes are wide and pleading in his uncle's direction.
Oikawa already explained to me that since he has no practice on Monday's he picks up his nephew from school until his parents get home from work. Every other Monday is volleyball lessons where Oikawa teaches him and a group of other kids how to play, and the other Mondays are spent either at the park, at Oikawa's house, or another place for kids.
"I'm definitely not opposed to the idea as long as Asu-chan agrees," Oikawa says and the boys both look at me. "I know you're busy studying, but you have a lot more free time due to not playing volleyball anymore. Also speaking of which. It's kinda hard to handle a group of hyper elementary school kids to teach them volleyball by yourself. Since you said yourself you wish you could still play, do you want to help me out?"
"Well-" I start.
"Yes!" Takeru exclaims running up to me and grabbing my hands in his small ones. "Please, can you teach me how to play too? It'll be so much fun!"
I look over to Oikawa. "You can say no of you don't want to," he tells me. "I don't want to force you to do something you don't want to do since I know you want to study more, but I will tell you that it will look good on college applications."
I think about the situation logically. I need to get my grades back up and so that means studying. There's also chores back at home to do since Mom is busy at work as well and can't do everything around the house. On the other hand, I do have a lot more free time due to volleyball ending, and it's only Mondays for probably about two to three hours. Plus Oikawa made the argument that it will look good on my college applications.
I look to Oikawa again. I know he wanted to give me complete, unbiased choices, but the look in his big, brown, puppy dog eyes tells me he really wants me to say yes.
"I mean, it's only on Mondays," I say. "I still have a lot of time to study. If you need the help, I'll help you out when I can. Although, I don't know how I'll make as a teacher. Yui was always the more patient one when it came to teaching the underclassmen."
"Seeing how you handled those kids today, I think you'll do just fine," Oikawa tells me with a big smile stretching across his face.
"Yay!" Takeru shouts with joy. "I get to see Azumane-san every week now!" He skips around and runs back to the jungle gym.
"He's in high spirits," I comment with a smile as I watch Takeru climb up a ladder and slide down a slide.
"It's because a pretty girl is gonna help teach him volleyball instead of his weird uncle," Oikawa responds, knowingly.
"What pretty girl?" I say in a sarcastic tone with a laugh.
He laughs at me. "Don't be like that. You're beautiful," he tells me with a brilliant smile.
My eyes widen at his bold statement. I look away from him as I feel my face burning. My stomach churns at his words and I feel my palms getting sweaty as I grip the chains on the swing. "I keep forgetting you're such a ladies' man, Oikawa," I say, still not looking at him, but a can't get the smile off my face.
The minute I told Yui what I'd be doing on Mondays after school, she had a slight fangirl meltdown. "Oh my gosh, he really does like you. Like really really like you. Like oh my god, if I didn't like Sawamura so much, I'd be all over that. You are so lucky. You are gonna date, and get married, and have adorable, volleyball playing babies-"
"Yui-chan, calm down," I tell her, cutting off her rant. "I don't even like him like that. We are just friends, and I'm helping him out."
"How can you not like him?" Yui gasps at me as we eat lunch in our classroom. "From what you've told me, he's been nothing less than a perfect prince charming to you."
"I just..." I trail off, trying to collect my thoughts on the brunette server. I do feel like I feel something for him, but it's always clouded by my feelings for Daichi.
"If you really don't like him like that, you'd better stop leading him on," she reprimands. "He seems like he really does like you and it's not fair to him."
"Yeah, I get it," I sigh.
"Good, now back to what I was saying. You'd better make me the godmother to your first child," she continues.
I sigh again, but smile at my friend, "Yui..."
I make my way down a different street from my normal route home. Oikawa and I agreed to meet at a different park that is closer to the gym before we head over there. It's a fifteen-minute walk from my school since Oikawa and Takeru live a bit farther away.
"Azumane-san!" I hear a young voice yell my name out and turn to see Takeru at the top of a slide. Oikawa is sitting on a bench off to the side, and stands up to greet me, a smile forming on his face.
"Hey," I say to him.
"Yahoo, Asu-chan!" he replies, brightly, walking up to me while slinging an extra bag, apart from his and Takeru's school bags, over his shoulder. I assume it has his volleyball gear in it. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah," I tell him. "Do you want me to take one of those bags? It looks uncomfortable to carry all three."
"No, you're okay," he says as we start to head out of the park, Takeru walking in front of us. "But I know a strong little man who can carry his own backpack." Takeru groans as he walks over, taking his bag from his uncle. "So, Asu-chan, are you gonna be teaching volleyball in your school uniform?" he teases me, eyeing my clothing.
"I have a change of clothes and my knee pads just in case in my bag," I tell him.
"You know, I'm gonna hate to see that uniform go," he tells me nonchalantly, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. A wicked grin makes it's way onto his face. "You look so cute in it."
"Shut up, perv!" I exclaim. My stomach churns again at his compliment, but Yui's words ring in my ears.
"If you really don't like him like that, you'd better stop leading him on."
I really need to figure out my feelings, or I'm going to hurt someone or myself. It's just every time I think about liking someone, my mind instinctively jumps to Daichi. He's always been there. A calm, kind guy with a sweet smile and a good head on his shoulders. He always knows the right things to say when someone needs advice. I've liked him since we were in the same class together in our first year of high school.
I sigh out loud.
"What's wrong?" Oikawa asks from next to me.
"Nothing," I tell him with a weak smile. "Just thinking about stuff."
We arrive at the gym and I head into the women's locker room, changing into some black athletic shorts and and orange Karasuno volleyball shirt. I put on my volleyball shoes as well and head out to find the boys waiting for me. We head into the gym to see a group made up of two boys and a girl all looking around Takeru's age. Two women looking about in their mid-thirties stand with them. Probably the mothers.
Oikawa introduces me to everyone, and the mothers say goodbye to their children. The one girl from the group tugs on the hem of my shirt. "Yes, sweetie?"
"Can you help me with bumping the ball?" The girl stares up at me with big hazel eyes. Her hair is tied up in two pigtails and she wears a shirt with a popular cartoon character on it. "My brother, Ibuki, makes fun of me cause he's better than me."
"Now we can't let him think that," I tell her. "What's your name?"
"Itsumi," she says.
"That's a pretty name," I tell her. "I'll tell you what. By the end of the day, I'll make sure you can show off to your brother." I grin and give her a wink. She smiles back and giggles.
"You'll be in good hands, Itsumi-chan. Asu-chan is a libero so she's the best at receiving on her team" I hear Oikawa say. "You'd better watch out, Ibuki-kun. Your sister might be better than you after today."
"No she won't!" One of the boys, I'm assuming Ibuki, jumps on Oikawa.
"Ack!" The setter is dragged to the floor as the two other boys join in jumping on top of him, laughing.
"Let's leave these crazy boys to whatever they're doing and get started, huh?" I ask Itsumi.
She giggles and nods. As we walk away, she asks, "is Oikawa-san your boyfriend?"
"What? Oh, no he isn't," I tell her, a bit flustered at her question.
"But Takeru-kun said that Oikawa-san and you like each other," she explains making me blush even more.
"We like each other as friends," I correct her quickly.
Damn, what is with grade schoolers these days?
I helped Itsumi and another boy, Kakeru, with bumping, setting, and just keeping the ball up and in control. Oikawa was a bit away helping Takeru and Ibuki with their serves.
"Oikawa-san! Can you show us your fast serve?" Ibuki asks him after a while. "Takeru told me about it when he went to see your game!"
"I don't know. I'm still working on it," he tells them. The whines of protest start, and he sighs. "Okay, fine."
I grin at the opportunity. I saw his serve at the last semifinals. It was crazy, but Nishinoya and Daichi got the hang of it after a few. "Let me see how much better it's gotten. It should be difficult to receive then."
"Don't receive it, Asu-chan, I don't wanna hurt you." His voice has a hint of worry as he starts setting up to serve it at the end of the court.
"Oh, come on. Are you afraid that I'm gonna be able to receive it easily?" I tease him, but he doesn't smile back. "Oikawa, I'm not a weakling. I've practiced with my brother who's an ace. I even took one of his spikes to the head once. Let me tell you, that was not fun." I let out a laugh trying to get him to lighten up.
"I mean if you're sure," he says, bouncing the ball. "But don't say I didn't warn you."
I give him a wicked grin and jog over to the other side of the court. I face him, my knees bent and arms in front of me, ready to receive. "Bring it, Trashykawa," I declare, using his friend's nickname for him.
"Hey, now that's no fair, Asu-chan," he exclaims with a pout. "No trash talking, and only Iwa-chan is allowed to call me that."
I roll my eyes at his childish behavior, a smirk on my face. I then see Oikawa narrow his eyes in concentration as he bounces the ball a few more times. He then tosses it up in the air, leaps, and hits it with a very powerful swing. I leap into action and attempt to receive the ball, but I'm too slow. the ball bounces against my forearms with a stinging pain and flies off to the side of the court, hitting the wall.
"Ouch, damn," I mutter rubbing my arms, trying calm the pain.
"Are you okay?" He jogs over to me, a worried look on his face. "I told you that you shouldn't try. I didn't want to hurt you."
"Oikawa, I'm fine," I tell him with a smile. "I'm used to spikes that powerful, but wow! That was some intense serve. That was like a spike! How in the world did you do that?"
He looks at me in confusion.
"You really thought I get hurt by something like that?" I ask him. I let out a small giggle. "That feels almost insulting."
"Well I- um..." He glances away. "Sorry, I underestimated you."
"I underestimated you too," I tell him. "I could barely touch it, let alone get a good receive. I didn't see you do anything like that during the semifinals. Your serves were pretty scary then, I'm impressed you've progressed this much is so little time."
His cheeks turn a slight pinkish color as he continues not to make eye contact, scratching the back of his head. "I'm actually surprised I got it in bounds on the first try today though. I don't have good control over it yet. It's rare that it's actually that good," he says, modestly.
"Stop it," I tell him poking his cheek playfully. "It’s weird seeing you act humble."
"Hey!" he complains. "Are you and Iwa-chan related or something, because you both are so mean to me."
I giggle at him. "Come on, Trashykawa. Let's continue helping the kids," I say, grabbing his arm and dragging him back to the group of elementary schoolers whose expressions screamed admiration.
Takeru throws the ball to me, I bump it, and Oikawa tosses it to Ibuki. The young brunette boy hits the ball over the elementary level net with pretty good accuracy, but his twin sister is there on the other side. She is able to receive the ball and it flies back over the net. Oikawa catches it easily and give the girl a thumbs up. "Nice one Itsumi-chan. You've gotten so good at receiving!" He praises her. "I think it's due to a very pretty and talented teacher you have."
The flirty setter winks at me and I just reach my hand up and flick his forehead. "Shut up," I mumble to him as I feel my cheeks heating up. I know he doesn't mean any of his constant advances at me. Over the past month of knowing him, I've learned that's just how he is. For some reason though he can always get a good reaction out of me, which encourages him to keep doing it.
"Owie, Asu-chan!" Oikawa whines in a childish way as he holds his forehead. "That was a complement. You are so mean."
"And you are insufferable," I shoot back.
"Then why do you still hang out with me?" Oikawa smirks as he gazes down at me.
"You have your moments," I admit, grinning at him. "Plus, it's always a mystery in your presence. I don't know what you have it store every Monday, and it amuses me."
Taken by my surprisingly honest statement, his face breaks in an ear to ear grin. "Aw, Asu-chan, I forgive you." He pretends to wipe away tears as he tries to pull me into a bear hug.
"Get off!" I complain, pushing him away while laughing. "Let go of me, you dunderhead!"
We get back to practice for another half an hour. We practice different tossing and receiving drills, helping with the kids' form, and making it into a game. All the while we are laughing and having a lot of fun together.
During my time with Oikawa, I've learned some things about him. He's an utter child sometimes when he gets into a mood, but occasionally when he breaks away from us to practice on his own, his eyes are sharp and laser focused. He's actually an amazing and patient volleyball teacher and great with the kids. He helps them up when they fall over, and he even consoled one of them when they started crying about never being able to spike a ball correctly.
"When I was learning volleyball, I needed to practice twice as much as Iwa-chan just to be as good as him. Now I'm the captain of my team," he told them. "It goes to show that although you might not get something in the beginning, the best way to get better is to just keep practicing. Pull yourself off the ground, shake it off, and try again."
Oikawa was a conundrum. His constant mood swings and flippant personality make him difficult to be around him at first, but then you start to see him differently. He's not just the narcissistic setter who the girls go wild for. He's extremely intelligent and scarily good at reading people which probably has helped him turn volleyball games into mind games, toying with his opponents' weaknesses and emotions. He pushes himself beyond the limit during his own training to make himself an even better player, which goes to show his drive for the things he is passionate about. Unfortunately, I've needed to berate him a few times to take it easy especially with his, still not completely healed, knee injury. And although he teases and nags Takeru a lot, I can tell that he is extremely proud and fiercely loves his nephew from the bottom of his heart.
After lessons, Oikawa, Takeru, and I go out for ice cream since we finished earlier than usual. We all get ice cream cones. Takeru, two scoops of cookie dough, Oikawa, a scoop of mint chocolate chip and a scoop of cookies and cream, and I opted for a vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles. I am currently being made fun of because of my choice of ice cream, being called a 5-year-old by Oikawa.
"Who was the one who pouted like a 5-year-old when he lost a race to a girl," I sneer.
Oikawa lips form the same pout that he had that day when I beat him in a running race around the playground when he called me short. "I can't help it that you’re a freak with a weird ability to run fast," he huffs as we sit at a table outside.
"Look who's calling who freak with your freaky spike-serve," I shoot back.
"That's called talent right there, sweetheart," he boasts.
"And me being faster than you is not talent?" I argue.
"It’s called cheating. There's no way you could have beat me in a fair race," he replies as he licks his ice cream.
"Will you two quit bickering already?" Takeru complains. "It’s annoying and I'll leave if you don't stop."
"Well no one's making you stay," Oikawa sasses the 7-year-old.
"Oikawa, shut up. He will actually leave, and you will be the one blamed by your sister when she finds out you let him walk around town by himself," I tell him, knowingly.
Oikawa sinks down in his chair. "I can never win, can I?" he sulks, as he takes another lick of his ice cream.
"Ah! It's Oikawa Tooru!" I hear a high voice squeal behind me.
"Wow! He's hotter in person!" Another voice responds.
Oikawa immediately perks up at the voices and a smile appears on his face. He's such a simpleton sometimes. He waves to the group of girls behind me and they immediately burst into a frenzied buzz as they fangirl together about the boy sitting in front of me.
I shift in my seat, an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Is it the ice cream?
We continue to chat as we continue to eat our ice cream. "So how are classes?" Oikawa asks me. Knowing that this is an important topic to me, he never fails to ask me about my grades and encourage me to get better.
"Well, I'm trying my best, but it's not the grades I really want," I tell him "I'm starting to apply to schools as well so there's not much time for improvement."
"You'll do well. I believe in you," he tells me with a smile.
I feel my face heat up at his kind words. "Thanks," I mumble and then launch into the list of colleges I'm applying to. I'm applying to the three top pre-med schools in Japan as well as one in America and two more local colleges which are my safety schools just in case. I really hope I don't really need the safety net, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Coincidentally, Oikawa also is considering applying to the two local schools as well. Although it would be nice to go to school with him, we both know I'm shooting for the number one school in Japan or the American one.
Afterwards, we both say our goodbyes and walk our separate ways. I walk down the familiar streets that lead to my house, swinging my bag in my hand and humming a song.
Today was a good day.
My life continued on as usual a while. School was a struggle as I slowly attempted to drag up my grades. Most of my time was spent studying, but I still wasn't getting the grades I needed in order to succeed. My friends continued to cheer me on though, especially Yui and Oikawa. Speaking of the latter, I've spent almost every Monday with him and Takeru, besides a day I was sick and another where I had a big exam on that Tuesday. Usually Mondays are everyone's least favorite day of the week, but for me, they quickly became the best. Every Monday turned into a crazy adventure at the park, a debate where to eat at, or teaching the kids more volleyball. The kids were really fun to teach. They were enthusiastic and absolutely hilarious sometimes. Itsumi is now able to hold her own against all the other boys, especially her brother, and Ibuki was giving his all to stay ahead of her. We would play three on three games a lot for fun. Of course Oikawa and I were made to have weird handicaps like needing to play on our knees so we would be on equal playing ground with the kids and for their entertainment to watch us struggle.
The time that I spent on my Monday afternoons was the most fun I've had in a long time.
As the weeks pass, the next volleyball tournament approaches. Now it's only two weeks away, and the Karasuno teams are starting to feel a bit antsy. So antsy and even when I stopped the usually confident libero, Nishinoya, he seemed excited yet nervous.
"You should swing by practice sometime," he tells me. "Knowing that your rooting for us would really boost some of the guys' confidence and not just your brother's."
"Yeah, I might, but I'm busy today," I tell him. "Maybe another day."
"Studying?" he asks me. "Asahi-san mentioned that's all you've been doing after you quit the team."
"Uh... yeah," I lie, weakly.
There's also the fact that I still haven't mentioned who I've been hanging out with on Monday's. My mom gets home from work after I get home, and Asahi not only gets home late as well, but volleyball is the only thing on his mind. No one has really seemed to care what I do after school. I also have just not mentioned it since I know all the boys on the Karasuno team kinda hate Oikawa's guts. At first, I understood why, but these past months getting to know him, I see past the cocky and flirty volleyball star. He still is very narcissistic and flirty some of the time, but he's also very kind to me. He's patient when working with the kids, and he's very passionate about the things he loves, which is mostly just volleyball. Oikawa is also a goofball who never fails to make me laugh, and he has become a very dear friend to me.
As I sit with Yui at lunch at our desks I see my phone buzz and light up on my desk. Both Yui and I look at it to see that I got a text message from "Dorkykawa."
"Ooh, what does your prince charming want?" she asks, reaching for my phone.
"Oh, no you don't," I growl, snatching it up before she could take it. She just grins at me and eats another piece of chicken.
"Well what did he want?" Yui demands, her mouth full.
I open my phone and look at the message
Change of plans today. Takeru and I are going to the gym. You can join us if you want but I'm mostly going to be practicing.
"Guess I'm going to the gym today," I say. "I think Oikawa is in one of his moods and is only thinking about practicing even though he needs to watch Takeru. It's been happening more often since the tournament is almost here."
"You sound like a girlfriend taking care of her high maintenance boyfriend," Yui comments.
I sigh. "He's not my boyfriend," I tell her. "He's just a friend that I'm concerned about since he's been getting worked up a lot over this tournament."
"Uh huh," she says, her eyebrows raised, a smirk stretching across her face.
"Don't you dare look at me like that," I tell her with a glare.
I enter the volleyball courts at the gym, hearing the squeak of shoes on the wood floor. I see a group of adults playing a game on the closer court. On the farther court Oikawa stands at the serving line, Takeru off to the side trying to keep a ball up in the air by bumping and setting it.
Oikawa tosses the ball up, runs up to the line, leaps, and hits the ball with all his might. The ball flies over the net at incredible speed but lands out of bounds. He grits his teeth and serves again. The ball hits the net this time making him more frustrated.
Takeru notices me, and I motion for him to come over to me.
"How long has he been at it?" I ask the boy.
"Since we got here, and that was about an hour ago," he tells me.
I frown and bite the inside of my cheek.
"Why? What's wrong?" Takeru tilts his head to the side in confusion.
"He might hurt himself if he pushes himself too hard," I mumble as I watch the setter retrieve the volleyballs he's already served. Although he is wearing a white knee brace, I can see him slightly limping as he walks across the court. Just as I thought. "This isn't good."
I make my way around the adults’ game in progress and reach Oikawa as he sets up to serve another ball. "What do you think you're doing?" I ask him.
"What do you mean? I'm practicing," he huffs as he serves the ball, finally getting it in bounds.
"You need to take a break," I tell him.
"I can't," he mutters.
"You have to," I respond.
"I don't see any reason to," he says, clearly annoyed that I'm bothering him. I'm not giving up though. He could injure himself worse if he keeps this up.
"You're limping," I deadpan.
"So?" he defends.
"Oikawa, you could get seriously hurt if you keep this up!" I tell him, raising my voice.
"I'm fine, I know my limit!" he seethes in an equally loud tone. "I don't need you telling me what I can and can't do!" Some of the adults from the other court have now started to notice our tense discussion, and Takeru stands behind me, still confused at what's going on. He bounces the ball and sets up to serve again. I step in front of him and take the ball. "Hey!" he exclaims as I grab his arm and start pulling him to the door.
"Takeru-kun, wait here," I tell the boy over my shoulder. "I need to speak with your uncle for a minute." I drag the protesting male out into the vacant hallway.
"What the hell do you want," Oikawa asks, coldly. I look up at him and he stands in front of me, arms crossed and an icy stare across his face. I've never seen him like this. Gone is his cheerful grin, the light in his eyes, and his flippant attitude. Now I have seen him upset a few times in the past and have needed to give him a lot of attention to cheer him up again, but never have I seen him angry.
I sigh. "Look I know you're stressed due to the tournament coming up, but that doesn't give you an excuse to push yourself so much that you hurt yourself," I tell him calmly.
"Like I told you, I'm fine," he huffs. "Can I go back now?" He starts to turn, but I grab his arms.
"Are you seriously going to go back in there and injure your knee, so you won't be able to play at all?" I demand.
"I'm not going to hurt my knee," he replies. "I'm walking fine."
"I know you're not," I tell him. "I know you better than that because you're just like me."
He scoffs. "How so?" he asks with his eyebrows raised in a challenge.
"There's something we want more than anything in the world, and we feel like it's just out of our reach. Every time we think we've got it, it disappears just as we try to grasp it," I tell him. "For you, it's to go to the nationals. For me, it's to get into a pre-med program at one of the top medical schools. I know what it's like to push myself over my limit. I've gotten sick from staying up studying and not getting enough sleep. I overwork myself to exhaustion in attempt to get perfect grades. I've learned that overdoing it makes the problem worse. I don't want to see you hurt yourself now and not being able to play later."
Oikawa isn't looking at me, his jaw clenched. "Oikawa, please don't hurt yourself," I say, softly. "Please. I can help you."
He still doesn't meet my eyes, but his expression turns from anger to sadness. Please tell me I've gotten through to him.
"Oikawa," I whisper.
Still no glance.
"Oikawa, please just look at me," I say.
He continues to ignore me, and I sigh and take a deep breath.
I reach up to touch his cheek to get him to look at me. "Tooru-kun," I say, softly.
The use of his given name makes him turn his head and in turn, press his cheek to my hand. I leave my hand there and hold his face as he looks at me with sadness in his eyes.
"It's my last chance," he tells me, quietly. "My last shot at beating Shiratorizawa and going to the nationals. My last shot at proving myself. I can't- I have to get better."
"And you have been," I reply. "You've been working so hard. You've gotten so much better. I know it."
He sighs as he closes his eyes, pressing his cheek into my hand more. "The things that I want most are always the things that are just out of my reach," he murmurs.
My heart aches for him and I pull him down into an embrace. This shocks him for a second, but he soon wraps his arms around my back, pulling me tighter to him. He lets out a sigh and buries his face into my neck, making my stomach feel like it's doing backflips. We stand there for a minute until he lets out a breathy laugh.
"What's so funny, Tooru-kun?" I ask him, pulling away to look at him.
"I think that's just what I needed," he tells me with a small smile. "How do you always know the perfect thing to say to cheer me up?"
"I don't," I shrug. "I kinda just say what's on my mind."
"Well keep doing that then," he says. "Come on. I think we both deserve some ice cream."
I can tell I got through to him, but there's something artificial about his smile again. It's the smile he puts on to talk to his fans and people he's not close too, and I don't like it.
A week has passed since Oikawa's and my heart to heart in the hallway of the gymnasium. He still hasn't completely gone back to his normal happy-go-lucky self, but he isn't overworking himself at practice like he was earlier. The new main issue is the nerves that have started to show due to the tournament starting later this week. He doesn't outwardly express his insecurities, but when he called me during the weekend after a practice, I could hear it in his voice.
Yui and I chat about our plans to skip school and see the tournament later in the week as we change our shoes to leave for the day.
"When they make it to the semifinals," I tell her. "That's when I'll skip school to go see it. I can't miss too much, or I'll fall behind."
"Yeah, I get it," she replies. "I was thinking the same thing. Also, I like that you said 'when' instead of 'if.'"
"Well I really believe in them," I say. "I feel like they have a good chance. I've seen how hard Asahi has been working and he says the rest of the guys have been the same way. When I visited them at practice, it was crazy how much they've progressed."
"I'll take the complement." I hear a voice behind me and turn around to see my brother, Suga, and Daichi walking towards us. "We're really glad to hear that you two believe in us," Daichi says. "Thanks, Asuga-chan. It means a lot."
My face flushes at the compliment. "Well you guys have gotten really good," I mumble, a little flustered. "You guys should be proud of yourselves."
Suga gives me a big smile, clearly overjoyed that they have our support, and Asahi steps over to me and ruffles my hair since it's not in French braids for once today.
"Hey, watch it," I complain. "I'll cut your hair while you sleep, I swear."
"If you do, I'll do the same to you," my brother teases. I laugh and reach up to push his face to annoy him. Our friends laugh at our sibling squabble as Asahi and I continue to tease and annoy each other.
As our battle ensues, I overhear a conversation between a group of girls. "Aoba Johsai uniform," is all I can hear.
"At the gate."
"Kid with him."
"Aw, he's so hot. Do you think he's waiting for a girl?" One of them speaks louder than the others.
"I hope not," another says. "Didn't Nami say he's a famous volleyball player in the area?"
This draws the attention of everyone in the group. "What are they talking about?" Suga asks, bewildered.
Yui gives me a glance, clearly knowing who the girls are talking about. An uncomfortable knot forms in my stomach. Crap. Please tell me Oikawa isn't waiting at the gate for me.
I quickly put on my other shoe and sling my bag over my shoulder. "Well, gotta get home," I say. I don't want the boys to find out cause, I know I'll get a lot of judging looks from them. I don't want that. What would Daichi think of me then?
I make my way outside with Yui to the gate to see a flock of my fellow female classmates around a certain brunette heartthrob.
"Azumane-san!" I hear a yell as I see Takeru wave to me. This gets the attention of a couple of the girls and said brunette whose smile grows wider, reaching his eyes.
"Yahoo, Asu-chan!" Oikawa says, cheerily as he makes his way over to me.
"Tooru-kun, what are you doing here?" I ask him, as I see the three third-year volleyball players watch my interaction with their rival. Well, I guess the cat's out of the bag.
"Did you hear what Azumane-san called him?" one of the girls say to another.
"Is she his girlfriend?"
"Takeru and I wanted to see you sooner, so we thought we'd meet you here," he tells me, then notices Yui close behind me. "Oh, are you Yui-chan? Asu-chan talks very highly of you a lot."
Yui let's out a laugh. "She'd better," she says. "Asuga-chan also talks a lot about you. Sometimes you're all she can talk about."
I blush bright red and I see Oikawa's cheeks are dusted pink with a slight blush as well. "That's totally not true and you know it!" I exclaim.
"Aw, Asu-chan, that's so cute," Oikawa chuckles, his cool and cheery composure recovered.
"Okay, come on, Trashykawa," I tell him. "I think you've caused enough chaos at my school."
I grab his arm and start to drag him away, Yui and Takeru following behind, amused at my annoyance with the cocky volleyball player. I look back to see confusion on the faces of my brother, Suga, and Daichi as I disappear around the corner.
I'm so going to get a talking to later.
"Azumane-san! Look at me!" Takeru hangs upside down from the monkey bars by his legs.
"Wow, I wish I could do that!" I tell him with a laugh as Oikawa and I sit side by side on the swings just like the day we met. I pump my legs back and forth a bit, making myself swing up and down as the warm breeze flutters through my hair and ruffles my skirt. I watch as Takeru jumps down and runs around with a boy who looks a little younger than him.
Oikawa has been silent for a lot of the time which is understandable. His eyes stare at the mulch in front of him as he lightly swings in the breeze. His red tie is loosed a bit around his neck, and the top button is undone on his shirt. He has a cream-colored sweater vest, like mine, over the ensemble, and his white jacket is discarded on top of his bag. Oikawa scuffs his brown shoes on the dirt in front of him as the wind lightly ruffles his brown hair.
"Tooru-kun, try not to be so nervous about the tournament. I know you'll do great," I say to him.
"I can't help but be nervous," he admits. "It's my last chance."
"I know," I tell him. "Then whenever you feel nervous, just remember that I'm rooting for you." I smile at him and I see the ends of his lips tug upward making me smile even wider.
"Except if I verse Karasuno?" he asks me, a playful grin sneaking it's way onto his face.
"Yup, that's where I draw the line, buddy," I say with a laugh. "I gotta support my brother, and even Yui-chan would get annoyed even though she's been wanting us to get together since day one."
My eyes widen as I realize what I just said. Oh god, why did I just say that. That's so embarrassing. Please tell me he didn't hear that last part. Unfortunately, it seems like Oikawa has as he snaps his head up in surprise. "Huh?" His voice is a little higher than usual as he glances at me.
"Nevermind," I mutter. "Just forget I said that. Yui-chan is a little weird. Sorry."
"Its fine," he sighs as he stands up from the swing, looking up at the sky and then turns to face me. "But what would you say to the idea of us, you know, getting together?"
"Huh?" I respond, my voice almost a squeak. My mind reels at what he meant by that question. "I- what?"
"What would you say to us getting together," he repeats as if it was obvious the first time he said it as he shoves his hands into his khaki pants.
"Well- I... um..." I trail off as my mind spins.
Is he asking me out? Like to be his girlfriend? Wait, does he actually like me? Like romantically like me? Was Yui actually right all along?
I feel my face burning, and I refuse to look at the boy standing in front of me, too embarrassed. "I- wait Tooru-kun... do you like me?"
I hear him sigh as he stands in front of me as if he is fed up with something. "What a dumb question, Asu-chan," he mumbles as he bends down in front of me. His hands grab onto mine which are gripping the chain links of the swing making me look up at him in surprise as he leans forward and presses his lips to mine. My eyes widen as his mouth moves over mine, slowly. I feel a tightness in my chest as if someone is squeezing my heart. His lips are soft and actually feel really nice. He pulls away slowly and opens his eyes which stare directly into mine. "Does that answer your question?" Oikawa whispers, his face still inches from mine.
My body is rigid, my heart pounding so rapidly that I'm afraid it might burst out of my chest. I feel lightheaded and my whole body feels warm. My lips tingle with the shock and my stomach feels like a butterfly garden. I can't move a muscle as I stare into the brown eyes of the brunette I've gotten so close to in the last few months. This is the boy who helped me when I was a crying mess the first time we met. The boy who devotes his one day off to be with his nephew and teaches him and other kids how to play volleyball. He's passionate, caring, kind, a bit childish, but also wicked smart and cunning at times. He's been there for me, and I've been there for him. For months now I've thought of him as a good friend. A friend I can confide in and who will give me honest opinions and advice.
But more than that? I've never thought of Oikawa that way. My heart has been so set on Daichi for so long, I never thought to look for another boy to like. My body is stiff and I'm frozen in shock at what just happened. Oikawa steps back and straightens up, a nervous smile on his lips as he stares back at me.
"Well, what you do say, Asu-chan?" His question is soft and hopeful sounding. It makes my stomach do another flip as I try to form a response.
What do I say to him? What are my feelings toward him?
"Tooru-kun," I start, my voice wavering as I speak. "I-I'm... I'm sorry. I can't..."
The light in his eyes fades immediately and it makes my chest hurt. His lips form a troubled frown as he sighs. "It’s Sawamura, isn't it?"
"Yes," I say, quietly. "Look, I've always been so focused on Daichi that I've never really thought about other guys, but what I do know is that I do really like you and like to spend time with you. You make me really happy, but-" I stop myself with a sigh. "It’s not fair to you. It wouldn't be fair to you if I was with you, but still thought of Daichi. I don't want to do that to you."
"No, I get it," he says, refusing to look at me.
"Tooru-" I start.
"I'm sorry too," he says with a grimace. "I knew your feelings, but still put you in this uncomfortable situation. I just thought maybe, just maybe this once I'll finally be able to have something –-someone—who I want most in the world, but I guess life is unfair to me like that."
I inhale sharply at his words. Who I want most in the world. That's what he said. Does he really want me the most? Out of everyone? What makes me so special? I'm perfectly average. I get decent grades, I played a sport, my height is average and so is my face. Why would a guy like him want me when he has so many other girls who would gladly jump at the chance to be with him?
Oikawa takes a deep breath and turns. "Takeru, it's time to go!" He turns back to me. "I gotta go. Thanks for everything."
"Wait, Tooru-" I jump up off the swing as he grabs his bag and jacket.
"Its fine, Asu-chan," he tells me, a sad smile on his face that makes me want to cry. "I get it. I'm not number one to you."
I have no response to his statement. I just watch him walk away with Takeru loping along next to him. As distance between us grows physically, I can't help but feel the distance emotionally.
I just stand there in the middle of the playground, tears silently sliding down my face.
Just how it all started when we met, it ends the same way.
Dinner is quiet with only Asahi and my mother chatting about school, work and volleyball. I silently eat my chicken, poking it with my chopstick as I stare at my plate, deep in thought.
"Asuga," my mother calls to me. "Asuga!" My head snaps up and I see her and Asahi looking at me in worry. "Are you alright sweetie?" she asks me, concerned. "Is anything wrong?"
"Oh no, I'm fine," I lie. "I'm just not feeling well tonight."
"You're working yourself too hard again," she comments. "I love that you're so driven and dedicated, but you need to take care of yourself."
"I know, mom," I mumble. I stand up and grab my plate, putting it in the sink. "I'm gonna go to bed early tonight."
"Okay," my mom answers. "I hope you feel better tomorrow."
One can only hope.
I sigh and flop on my bed, face down and just lay there. You need to do your calculus homework, Asuga. I sigh again and sit up. I pull my worksheet out of my bag as someone knocks on the door.
"Come in," I say, clicking my mechanical pencil.
The door opens to reveal Asahi. He gives me a worried smile as he shuts the door behind him.
"So, what's really wrong?" he asks me. "You were completely fine earlier today. Does your mood have something to do with Oikawa Tooru?"
I flinch at the name, making Asahi's eyes narrow.
"I swear, if he did something to you-" he starts.
My eyes widen. "No no no," I cut him off, waving my arms. "Tooru—he would never do anything to hurt me."
"Okay," Asahi mutters, not quite convinced. "Honestly though, I probably wouldn't have the guts to do anything to him anyway. How do you even know him? And how do I not know about this?"
"It’s a long story," I tell him.
"I got time," he shrugs as he sits on my bed and leans against the headboard, waiting for me to start explaining myself.
I grimace and lay back, staring at the ceiling as I tell Asahi everything. From the day I met Oikawa to today, and as usual, besides a few personal details like Oikawa's personal problems and my crush on my brother's friend.
"What made you reject him?" Asahi asks when I tell him about Oikawa's proposition from today. "Yeah, the guy is a conniving asshole to me, but to you, from what you've told me, he's actually a pretty decent guy. What's the catch?"
"I-" My face flushes and I try to think of a way to explain it Asahi. "I like someone else."
Asahi's eyebrows shoot up. "And who may that be?" he asks.
"None of your damn business," I retort.
"So, it's someone I know then," he states with a grin, knowing that he's getting to me.
"That's exactly why it's none of your business," I glare. "Why don't you go and bother someone else? Oh right, you're too much of a wimp to talk to any other girls besides me and Kiyoko-san."
"Hey now, that's just mean," he says with an uncomfortable chuckle as he scratches the back of his neck.
"Yeah yeah, you big baby," I reply with a laugh.
"So, he chickened out after you told him, and he ran away?" Asahi asks, changing the subject back to my problem. "That's kind of rude."
"Yeah," I mutter. "Although it might have been awkward at first, I still wanted to be friends with him. I guess he doesn't feel the same."
"That's too bad," he sighs. "I was wondering why you seemed happier than usual recently. I guess he was the reason."
"I guess," I say, twirling my pencil and taking a look at one of my math questions.
"Well, all you can do is just keep pushing forward," he tells me. "If he doesn't want to be around you anymore since you rejected him, then it's not worth you being upset about it."
"Yeah that's easy to say, but he was just-" I sigh and rub my eyes. "He became important to me. He was there for me, and I'm gonna really miss him."
"You have other people who are there for you," he reminds me, softly. "You have Mom and I. Yui has been a constant in your life for years as well and so have some of the other girls on your team. Remember you're not alone."
"I know," I say. "Thank you."
He smiles at me, reaches over, and ruffles my hair.
"Hey!" I complain. "Stop that. You’re so annoying."
"You still love me," he chuckles.
"Unfortunately," I huff. "Now get out of here. I gotta do my homework. I still gotta keep up with everything even though I've already sent all my applications in."
"Speaking of which, I found this in the mailbox when I got home today," he grins, holding up a while envelop.
I gasped. "What the hell? Why didn't you give it to me as soon as you got in?" I snatch it out of his hands and look at it. It's from the American university. "Oh my god! I'm afraid to open it."
"Oh, who's the wimp now?" he says with a grin.
I tear it open and unfold it, skimming over the words. Asahi watches to gauge my reaction. I'm quite for a few moments until I speak up. "I didn't get in," I mumble.
Asahi sighs. "I'm sorry, Asuga," he says.
"It’s alright," I tell him, laying down the paper. "I knew I had a small chance of getting in."
"Don't worry," he tells me, putting a comforting hand on my shoulder. "You still have a lot more chances. With the amount of effort you put into your grades, I'll bet you'll get into the rest of them."
"I hope so," I sigh.
It's the day before the tournament and I can tell none of the boys’ volleyball players are focusing on school. I passed by the hyper ginger first year bothering the tall blonde wearing glasses who looked very annoyed. Even though Ennoshita believed he wasn't going to see any time on the court he was still nervous for his teammates. Asahi has been a mess for the past few days, but I've noticed that for a while now. One who I could tell was extremely nervous was Daichi, but of course he was covering it up with a smile like any good captain would. A few of us could tell including Suga, Asahi, Yui, and me. We knew that he was going to eventually open up to one of us about his nerves since he knows pushing down his emotions would hinder his playing. But it wasn't his two best friends or the girl he likes that he decided to talk to.
I make my way down the hallway during lunchtime. I'm meeting Yui and Mei on the roof for lunch since I had to drop off a few papers at the teacher's lounge.
"Asuga-chan!" I turn around as I hear someone calling my name from behind me.
I immediately flush when I notice who it is. "Oh, Daichi-kun, hello," I reply.
"How have you been?" He asks me. Just the look on his face tells me that he wants to ask about a certain Aoba Johsai student he saw me with yesterday. Suga already asked me about it earlier as well.
"I'm okay. I've been better," I tell him. "But I should be asking you that since tomorrow's the big day."
He smiles nervously. "Yeah," he mumbles. "Although I'm trying to seem confident about it, I can't help but feel really nervous."
"That's understandable," I tell him as I lean against the window. "Just try not to let it get to you. The best way to have a clear mind going onto the court is-"
"To not keep my emotions bottled up, yeah I know," he cuts me off. "That's kinda why I wanted to talk to you."
"What do you mean?" I ask. "I'm surprised you're not talking to Suga about this since he's you're best friend. Plus, I have to admit, he gives the best advice."
"Yeah I know, but Suga isn't the one I've been keeping something from," he tells me.
I give him a perplexed look. "Then what are you keeping from me?" I question.
"I- uh..." he mumbles, glancing away. His cheeks are dusted with a light pink color as he looks up at me. "I kinda like you, Asuga-chan."
"Huh?" is all I can squeak out as my eyes grow wide.
"Yeah, I think I've liked you for a while now, and I thought I had to finally tell you and just get it out there in the open," he tells me, shyly looking away from me.
"B-but Asahi said you liked Yui-chan," I sputter out, utterly confused and flustered.
"Oh that," he says with a nervous chuckle. "Asahi overheard me talking about you with Suga. He asked me what girl I was talking about and since you're his sister, I couldn't exactly tell him the truth. I lied and told him I was talking about Michimiya-san."
"Oh," I mumble.
"Yeah, I guess word spread pretty quickly since the next day she confessed to me and I had to tell her that I liked you," he says, staring out the window. "She actually got over it pretty quickly and wanted to help me out. Although later she informed me that you might like another guy, but wouldn't tell me who. I see now after yesterday that it's Oikawa Tooru."
"What? No!" I tell him, my voice higher than usual. "I rejected Tooru-kun yesterday because I like you." My words come out in a rush, but I guess Daichi could tell what I was saying.
He looks at me, his expression a mixture of surprise and delight. "Wait, really?" He asks.
"Uh, yeah," I mumble, looking anywhere but his eyes as I tug on one of my French braids. Damn everything is out in the open now.
"So then, would you like to go out with me sometime this weekend after tournament?" Daichi asks me.
I look up at him with wide eyes. Is this really happening? He really does like me? He wants to date me? Me?
He wears a small smile on his face as he looks at me expectantly.
Crap, I still have to answer him. Control yourself, Asuga. You've been dreaming of this moment for all of high school. Don't screw this up.
"If you mean after you win the tournament then yes," I tell him, smiling softly. I feel my face burning as I do so. Good, my response was confident. Just calm down and keep smiling.
"Well that gives me a lot more encouragement to win," he grins. "I see you then, Asuga-chan."
"Yeah, see you," I reply. "And good luck!"
He gives me another bright smile and starts to his classroom, a bounce in his step as I give him a wave. Once he's out of sight I slump against the window.
That went much better than expected. I wasn't a stuttering mess. This is amazing! This is the best day of my life!
I look out the window and see the bright blue sky with the mountains in the distance.
I have to tell Yui! Even though she liked Daichi as well, when she heard that he liked me she tried to help us get together. I don't deserve her as a friend, but I am so grateful. I feel like I want to tell everyone. My mom, Asahi, Mei, the rest of the girls, To-
My smile vanishes and the pit in my stomach is back. Oh, right. I guess I won't be telling everything to Tooru anymore.
I can't let that get me down. This is a happy day. Daichi actually likes me and asked me out on a date today! I've wanted this for so long.
But why do I have a feeling that something is wrong?
The rest of the day and the day after that were surprisingly normal. I told Yui and Mei everything and we were kinda screaming for a little bit. Apparently, I was actually pretty good at keeping my crush on Daichi a secret. They were both really surprised to hear how excited I was when I told them.
"But I thought you liked Oik-" Mei starts.
"I'm so happy to hear that you're happy!" Yui exclaims, giving Mei a warning look. I ignore it, knowing what Mei was confused about and why Yui stopped her. I told her about what happened between Oikawa and I the day after it happened.
"Thanks, guys," I mumble, the uneasy feeling pushing on my chest again.
I got three more letters from colleges I applied to. I found out I got rejected from my number one and number three school while being accepted into one of my safety schools. That really hit me hard. I only have one more chance, but since I didn't even get into the third best, I knew I didn't really have a chance to get into the second. There were lots of tears and phone calls to Yui of me just crying while she encouraged me on the other end. I really owe her a lot for being there for me.
I didn't get to see Daichi at all since he was out of school for the tournament but a few of us girls are skipping school today. I'm not too worried about skipping anymore since my applications are already in and I'm getting letters back already. The thing I'm nervous about is the fact that Karasuno is versing Aoba Johsai again, and that means that a certain setter will be there.
I press my cheek on the cool glass of the public bus window and sigh.
Why am I getting so worked up over this? He made it clear he doesn't want anything to do with me. Just get over it.
"Hey," Yui nudges me. "What's wrong? We get to miss school to watch volleyball."
"I just didn't sleep well last night," I tell her which isn't exactly a lie. I did toss and turn a lot last night, but I'm not really tired. Yui gives me a glance. She probably knows why I'm acting this way and decides to not press me further.
I pick at the patterned tights I'm wearing underneath my short jean shorts and scuff my black combat boots on the floor. As we leave the bus Yui, Mei, and I make our way to the gymnasium where the tournament is taking place. I shiver at the cool breeze blowing through my thin t-shirt and zip up my volleyball jacket.
There aren't too many people here since only two games are happening today. There's some parents and other kids our age milling around. I see two boys with white and teal Aoba Johsai jackets, and I bite the inside of my cheek. I do a quick glance around to see no sign of Oikawa. I don't know if I'm relieved or upset by that fact.
"Come on, Asuga-chan," Mei says, tugging on my arm. "We gotta get good seats behind the banner."
"You two go on ahead. I need to use the bathroom," I tell her as my stomach twists uncomfortably.
"Okay," she responds. "Don't get lost!" They head for the stairs chatting as I'm left alone in the middle of the entrance.
In the bathroom, I splash some water on my face and flatten my hair down.
Get a grip, Asuga. Why are you acting weird? So what? The guy became your friend and then ditched after you rejected him. Daichi just confessed to you. You should have forgotten all about that pretty-boy by now.
I sigh and dry my face, combing my fingers through the fringe of my dark brown hair and fixing the bands on the ends of my braids.
I push open the door and start to make my way to the stairs when my path is blocked.
"Well aren't you a cutie," I hear a voice above me say. I look up to see two boys from the team versing Shiratorizawa today. "Wanna come cheer us on today?"
"Excuse me, I have to get back to my friends," I tell them, avoiding eye contact. I don't have the patience for idiot, hormonal boys right now.
"Aw come on. We just wanna talk to you some more," the other one grins.
"Please, just let me through," I tell him, getting annoyed. I try to sidestep them but one of them blocks me and backs me up to the wall.
"Not until you tell me your name, babe," he says with a smirk.
"Leave me alone," I tell them in a louder voice. Unfortunately, my voice wavers due to the close proximity I am with this creep. Dammit. Now I sound like a weak little girl.
"Why? We just wanna ta-" the boy gets cut off by a voice.
"You know, when a girl says to leave her alone, you really should just leave her alone." The voice is confident and almost condescending. It's all too familiar to me.
"Tooru-kun!" The exclamation flies out of my mouth before I can stop myself. The two guys in front of me immediately back off revealing Oikawa standing a few yards down the hallway. His hands are in the pockets of his pants while his bag is slung around his shoulder. He stands there in a relaxed stance, a bright smile on his face, although the fire in his eyes gives away his true emotions right now. His teammate, Iwaizumi, stands next to him, a glare fixed on his face.
"Isn't that Tooru Oikawa?" one of the boys mumbles to the other.
"I don't think Asu-chan wants to watch you be completely crushed by Shiratorizawa," Oikawa continues as he walks towards us. I stand frozen against the wall. He's right in front of me now. Say something. Make a comment. At least move away from these creeps. But I can't move as I watch the setter delightfully picking apart these two guys. "Are you two that desperate for attention that you go and throw yourselves at girls who don't even want you?" Oikawa is standing in front of me now, his back facing me as he faces the two boys.
"Tooru-kun, it's fine-" I finally speak up.
"No, it's not fine," he cuts me off in a sharp tone, then focuses back on the boys. "You think since you're bigger than her, you can disrespect her? Never speak to her again. Now get out of my sight."
The boys scramble away down the hallway and turn the corner going out of our sight. Oikawa is silent for a few seconds and then turns to face me, a worried look in his eyes.
"Are you okay?" he asks me. "They didn't touch you at all, did they?"
"Wha- no!" I exclaim, quickly "No, they didn't. I'm fine... um good luck with the game. I'm just gonna go."
I start for the stairs, but Oikawa stops me, placing a hand on my shoulder. I tense up, the knot in my stomach getting worse. "Wait. Asu-chan, I'm-" He breaks off and I turn around to face him. He isn't looking at me, but at the floor instead.
"I'm gonna head back," Iwaizumi mumbles, turning on his heel and leaving us alone in the empty hallway.
He looks up and his intense gaze meets mine and I feel like I'm trapped by it. "I'm sorry," he murmurs. "It was already bad enough that I made things awkward, but then I left before we could make sure everything was still good between us. I was a coward and I get that. I'm sorry for not responding to any of your messages either."
I bite my lip, but a small feeling of relief washes over me. He still wants to be my friend. I didn't lose him. "It's okay," I tell him. "I get why you were upset."
"That doesn't give me an excuse to make you upset," he replies. "I saw your messages about your college letters. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you when you needed someone to talk to."
"Don't beat yourself up over it," I tell him with a small smile. "You've already seen me cry enough. Let me see you cry for once," I joke.
He lets out a small laugh. "Yeah I definitely have," he says. "But sorry to break it to you. I'm not really much of a crier unless it's really sad dog movies."
I laugh, but quickly fall silent due to a feeling of tension still between us. Its quiet and I lean against the wall behind me as Oikawa stands in front of me. "We're still friends, right?" I ask him, nervously.
"If you'll allow me to be, I'd love to," he responds.
I can't stop a huge grin to split across my face. "Good. You're stuck with me then."
"Oh no, what a tragedy," he remarks, sarcastically, but a smile finds its way to his face making my chest feel heavy. Why do I feel so funny around him? This has never happened before.
"Good luck with the game today," I tell him, changing the subject so I can calm myself down.
"Thanks," he replies, quietly. We lapse into another silence. Should I tell him about Daichi? Would that be cruel to do? But I don't want him hearing it from other people. "I heard about you and Sawamura," he says as if reading my mind. "You must be pretty happy."
"I overheard the bald kid and libero teasing him about it a few minutes ago," he explains. "They talk very loud."
"Oh, Tanaka and Nishinoya," I mumble. "Yeah they do."
"Oh, Asuga-chan!" We both hear someone calling my name. I turn to see Daichi making his way toward us.
"Hi, Daichi-kun," I say.
Oikawa and Daichi share a look and I can't tell what's going through their minds until Oikawa speaks up. "Well, I gotta join my team. I'll see you later, Asu-chan." He gives me one of his signature smiles as he walks off.
"Oh, yeah. See you, Tooru-kun," I tell his retreating figure. As I watch him go I can't help but feel like something is wrong. I don't know what's wrong, but I can't shake the feeling.
"Asu-chan?" Daichi asks, I guess questioning Oikawa's nickname for me.
"That's just what Tooru started to call me when we met and it kinda stuck," I explain.
"How did you two meet?" he asks me.
I laugh nervously. "It’s a long story," I tell him.
"Can I hear it over dinner Sunday night then?" he asks me.
My eyes widen and I feel my face get hot. "Uh y-yeah," I stutter.
He smiles at me. "Great," he exclaims.
I smile back. "Well I gotta find Yui and Mei and you have to go be with your team. I heard they lost you during the end of one game yesterday," I tell him as I reach up to lightly touch the dark bruise on his cheek. "Does it hurt?"
"Not really, no," he admits. "Well it did a lot yesterday, but not anymore."
"Good," I nod with a smile and turn to go. "The team needs their captain. I'll be in the stands cheering for you guys."
Daichi grabs my hand, getting me to turn around to face him. I look up to see our faces are millimeters apart. I draw in a sharp breath, surprised at our close proximity. His gaze flickers down to my lips and mine do as well to his. He then moves forward and kisses me. I close my eyes and rest my palms on the front of his black and orange uniform. His lips feel a little chapped and not as soft as Oikawa's, but it’s nice.
Nice? Is that all I can describe it as? This is Daichi Sawamura you're kissing. You've liked him for years! You have to feel something from it.
But I don't feel anything besides his lips pressed to mine.
I pull back and open my eyes. Diachi wears an almost confused expression as he stares back at me. I guess he sees my troubled frown since he speaks up. "You didn't feel anything either, did you?"
It was the same for him? So, I'm not going crazy. But what does this mean? Why don't I feel anything?
I shake my head at him. "No, I'm sorry," I mumble.
"Don't apologize," he tells me. We stand there in silence before he asks me a question. "Is it because of Oikawa?"
My chest flutters at the mention of his name, and the realization hits me.
All these feelings. Everything I feel around Tooru. Is this why?
I think back to Monday. The feeling in my chest when he kissed me. The tingles throughout my body that lingered even after he pulled away.
These feelings. Do I love Tooru? Was I so focused on Daichi that I completely ignored my own feelings? Do I love him?
No no no. That’s too soon. I don't love him, but I have these feelings for him. I feel like I'm drawn to him. I want to be around him. I want to make him smile and laugh. I want to be with him
I want to be with Tooru.
"Y-yes," I say, my voice cracking. "I'm sorry. I didn't even realize..." I trail off, embarrassed at my admission.
Daichi gives me a small smile. "Like I said, you don't have to apologize. I understand. I think there might be someone else for me as well."
I give him a confused look so he continues.
"I-I think I’m gay," he confesses.
“Wait, really?” I ask, surprised at this new development. “Then, why did you say you like me?”
“I liked you before, but recently I’ve been having these feelings about a guy as well,” he admits.
“Do you mind if I ask who?” I reply.
Daichi hesitates for a bit, shuffling his feet and glancing around the hallway a bit. “…Suga,” he mumbles, a blush dusting his cheeks.
“Do you think he’s gay as well, or,” I ask.
“He’s told me already,” he says. “I’ve just been confused for a while.”
“That’s understandable,” I say with a nod. "Well, I guess good luck to both of us then," I say.
"I guess there's going to be no dinner Sunday?" he asks me.
"You can use that time to celebrate with your team after you win the finals," I tell him with a smile. "Good luck out there today."
His face breaks into a smile. "Thank you," he tells me. I watch him walk away as he heads to the gym entrance.
Did that really just happen?
I lean against the wall, take a deep breath and let out a long sigh.
Well this has certainly been an interesting development.
I really like Tooru. It took me kissing Daichi to realize it. Now what am I gonna do? I rejected Tooru on Monday. Is it wrong to take it back? Would it be cruel? I don't want to hurt him anymore than I already have.
But I have to tell him how I feel. I don't know what he'll say to it, but I should just tell him and let him decide how to go from there.
I start to make my way towards the stairs still deep in thought. I pass by some loud Shiratorizawa players, but I pay them no attention as I walk down the hallway.
Now thinking it is one thing. Actually, confessing everything to him is a whole other ball game.
Oh God, what if he's moved on already?
No, that's way too fast.
But is it?
Stop. You're overthinking all this and making yourself freak out because of it. Just calm down and focus on the game today. Focus on cheering for Asahi, Daichi, Suga, and the rest of the boys. That's what you came here to do.
"Asuga-chan! There you are!" I here a shout as I walk down the bleacher steps. I see Yui waving at me from the front row.
"We really thought you got lost for a minute," Mei tells me.
"Sorry, I ran into a few people so I took longer than I thought," I explain as I sit down. I look out at the court in front of me. My eyes automatically land on the Aoba Johsai captain. I swallow, nervously.
Yui stares at me with her eyebrows knit together. "Did something happen? Who did you run into."
"Just some annoying boys from another team, Tooru, and Daichi," I mumble.
She raises her eyebrows in an expression telling me to further explain so I do. I tell them everything that happened and they eat it up gasping when I tell them that Daichi kissed me and when I confess that I like Oikawa.
"I knew it!" Yui exclaims. "I called it from day one!"
"Weren't you trying to help Daichi get with me?" I ask, confused.
"Well yes, I did tell him that, but I did really ship you and Oikawa," she explains. "You always got this look in you eye when talking about him. He always seemed to be able to cheer you up. You just took forever to finally realize it. Damn woman, you are dense sometimes."
"Ouch," I mutter.
"I'm not wrong,"
"I didn't say you were," I huff.
"So, when are you going to talk to Oikawa?" Mei asks.
That's a good question. I should probably wait until Monday. If Aoba Johsai wins, they'll be busy getting ready for the game against Shiratorizawa tomorrow. If they lose, I don't think Oikawa will be in a talking mood.
"Probably Monday," I say.
"Oh my god, you two are finally getting together! I'm so excited!" Yui squeals. "You guys are gonna be so cute together."
"We don't know how he'll react," I comment.
Yui rolls her eyes. "I was only with you two for a few minutes and he couldn't keep his eyes off you. Plus, there is the fact that he kissed you and told you that he likes you," she tells me. "I hope you actually didn't forget that since that only happened on Monday."
"But I rejected him," I say. "What if he's moved on?"
"Honey, no one gets over something like that that quickly," she laughs. "Trust me. I know."
"So, you do still like Daichi-kun?" I ask her.
"Of course," she admits. "How can I not?"
Well, it’s too bad for her that he will never be into her or any type of girl for that matter. I don’t tell her this though because I don’t want to rub salt in the wound. Also, outing Daichi without his permission would not be right.
I bite the inside of my cheek, doubts still plaguing my thoughts. I look out at the teams getting ready to start and find Oikawa again. I feel that knot in my stomach again even if he's only talking to one of the middle blockers on his team. His hair looks a bit messier than usual, but that might be due to his warm-ups and him running his hands through his hair, nervously. He still looks good. He always looks good. God, I'm such a girl.
As I stare, he looks up at me and our eyes meet. I feel my face grow warm, but he just smiles at me and waves. Wave back, Asuga, I tell myself, forcibly lifting my arm and waving back at him.
Why am I like this?
It's the third set of the game. Both teams look utterly exhausted, but determination is radiating off each and every one of them. They have all put their whole effort into this game. The audience has been on edge since the beginning. No one knows who is going to win and go on to the finals. The Shiratorizawa game already ended in the other gym. They won by a landslide like everyone predicted, but this game is not going how people were predicting. Many of Oikawa's fans who are sitting near by believed that Aoba Johsai was going to easily cinch the spot in the finals, but its turned out much different.
Karasuno has changed. Asahi had told me how hard the team had worked to grow and improve, but this is beyond my expectations. They just keep pulling insane plays from their new bag of tricks. I guess playing dozens of games against top schools from Tokyo changes you.
"Why didn't we ever do that?" Yui exclaims when Nishinoya jumps over the line and sets the ball.
"Because I could never do that," I mutter. "I'm terrible at setting. Nishinoya must have practiced for days to be able to pull that off.
"The rest of them as well," Mei comments.
"Yeah, we could have never pulled off a synchronized play," Yui adds. "These boys really pushed themselves. I just hope it wasn't all for nothing in the end."
I look over at Oikawa. It doesn't look like his knee is hurting him which is good, but exhaustion is clearly written on his face. I bite my lip.
He wants this win just as much as any of the Karasuno boys. He worked so hard for this. He pushed himself to try and get better almost damaging his body while in the process. I know its selfish, but I don't want to see either team lose. The heartbreak on the faces of the boys last time they lost to Aoba Johsai and how torn up Tooru was after he lost in the finals made my chest hurt.
Wow this sucks.
It's now Karasuno's game point. Everything seems like it's going in slow motion as Kageyama sets the ball to Hinata. Yui grabs my hand and grips it tightly. Three blockers jump to stop the orange haired first year as Oikawa stands in the back, ready to receive in the off chance it gets through. Hinata hits it, making the ball tip off one of the blocker's hands. It goes rocketing towards the floor, hitting Oikawa's hands and flying out of bounds.
Its silent in the gym, then suddenly a roar resounds, and the Karasuno players are leaping on top of each other.
Yui and Mei cheer from beside me and I join in as well as my eyes meet with my brother's. I give him a big smile and he puts a hand on his forehead, an astonished look on his face. His attention is then taken by Nishinoya who is jumping up and down in front of him, yelling something probably about the game.
My attention also moves subconsciously to the Aoba Johsai players, and my smile drops. Oikawa stands in the center of the court, his head down. The rest of his team is walking off the court and he follows, giving Iwaizumi, who hasn't moved, a hard pat on the back. I wish I could do something, but I don't know what to do. He's probably blaming their loss all on himself since he touched the ball last. He's probably telling himself that he should have done better as the setter and as the captain. I remember Yui blaming herself when we lost since she was captain and thought it was her responsibility to shoulder it all.
I want to go to him, but I know I shouldn't. He should be with his team now.
There's nothing I can do, and I hate it.
We start to head down to the front entrance and pass by the Aoba Johsai team in different states of grief. Two boys are talking quietly to each other while packing up their things. Iwaizumi is silent as he leans against the wall, arms crossed with his head down. He glares down as if it was the floor's fault for his defeat. I instinctively look around for the usually bubbly captain, but find no trace of him. He's not with his coach or in the midst of his teammates.
Where is he? Is he okay?
"He took a walk," I hear a voice say. Iwaizumi is now looking up from the floor and at me.
I understand what he means and thank him. Telling Yui to wait for me at the entrance, I jog down the hallway, looking for the most vacant area of the building. That's where he's most likely to be, and that's where I find him. Oikawa is leaning against a wall, facing it. His forehead and forearms lean against the white sheet rock as his fists clench and unclench. He seems to hear my footsteps approach and looks up. Our eyes meet, my worried ones to his pained ones. Neither of us say a word as he takes a step toward me and wraps his arms around me, pulling me close and burying his face in my neck. I stay silent as I return the hug, holding him tightly. His hands fist the back of my shirt as I slowly rub circles in the small of his back. He shakes slightly, and that's when I realize he's crying. I've never seen him cry before. He's even told me before he's not really one to cry a lot. I've seen Oikawa upset before and have needed to comfort him, but this is different. I know volleyball is his everything, and it hurts to see him like this. I reach up and lightly run my fingers through his hair. I wish I knew what to say right now. I wish I knew how to make him feel better. He's told me before that I always know the right things to say to cheer him up, but now I'm lost for words.
"Oikawa." A voice calls down the hallway, making the setter step away from me. I look up at him to see a smile plastered on his face already. His signature grin is wide, but his eyes are still red.
The fake smile he always uses to hide his true feelings is back.
I then look over to see who interrupted us to see Iwaizumi standing down the hall.
"I'm sorry, but it's time to go," Iwaizumi tells him.
"Okay," the boy in front of me nods. "I'll see you on Monday, Asu-chan."
The rest of the day passed in a flurry of activity. Mom and I congratulated Asahi with a delicious dinner when he got home, and Mom told him that she was taking the Saturday off to go see his game. That made him extremely flustered, asking her if it was alright taking off work. She told him that she would rather support her favorite son.
"Mom, I'm your only son," he told her.
"Doesn't mean you can't be my favorite still," she replied with the cheeky grin that I inherited from her.
I also got a letter from my second-choice school. My heart broke again to see I didn't make it into that school as well. I fought back my tears as we celebrated Asahi's win. This was a happy day for him. I didn't want to spoil it by being upset. I instead cried in the shower, where no one could hear me. It calmed me down and made me feel a bit better to get my emotions out.
The next morning, Asahi left to meet with his team before the game and Mom and I met up with Yui to head to the gymnasium. Once there, Yui and I parted ways with my mom when she noticed Daichi's and Suga's families. She joined them while Yui and I met up with the rest of our team who all decided to come and support the boys today. The twins thought of the idea to give them a good luck charm, and we made Yui give it to Daichi just to give that couple a little shove in the right direction. A lot of kids from our school actually came to support the boys as well, which is surprising since the school never cared about volleyball until now. The boys really appreciate it though. You could see it on their faces.
The game starts and we see immediately how difficult this team is going to be. Karasuno barely scraped a win from Aoba Johsai, and Shiratorizawa easily beat them a few months ago. I can tell this will be just as nerve wracking a game as yesterday, and I don't like that. Everytime Karasuno seems to get the upper hand during a volley, Shiratorizawa somehow pulls the rug out from under them. The boys are being driven into a corner that seems to have no escape. Coach Ukai calls another time out and the teams jog off the court.
"Do you think he might have figured out a strategy?" Yui asks me.
"I hope so," I sigh. "Cause at this rate, we're not looking too good." I lean forward, propping my head on my hands and elbows on my knees. The students from Shiratorizawa are loud as ever, doing chant after chant to support their team. I gaze out at the other audience members. Some of the players' families are here along with a few others. It's not really crowded at all except in the student sections. In a particularly empty part of the stands there sits one person all by themselves. I squint a bit, lifting my head slightly as my heart skips a beat.
I swear that looks like Tooru.
But it can't be. What would he be doing here?
I sit up straight again, staring at the lone figure. He's far away so it's hard to tell. It could be any high school aged boy with brown hair. I then see a glint as if the figure is wearing glasses that just caught the light.
Tooru wears glasses.
I stand up suddenly, startling Yui.
"Hey, what's wrong?" she asks me.
"Nothing. I just gotta use the bathroom," I lie, heading for the stairs.
I have to know if its him. I don't know why. I have a feeling I just want that person sitting all alone in the stands to be him. I make my way down the hallway, and as I get closer to that particular section of the stands, I hear a voice.
"You said you weren't going to come because it'd piss you off, no matter who won," they say.
There weren't two people when I was looking. Who are they talking to?
"No matter which side wins, I'm going to be able to see the other team's faces when they lose," a familiar voice responds, cockily. I was right. That's Tooru alright for sure.
My stomach churns in result, making me waver. I peak around the corner to see Oikawa sitting down and Iwaizumi standing next to him, both staring down at the court below.
"You really are a piece of crap," Iwaizumi comments as he sits down next to him.
Oikawa doesn't respond to this remark. He just rests his chin on his arms, watching the game. They begin discussing it, and I feel bad eavesdropping. My mouth feels dry all of a sudden, like I just ate a whole sleeve of crackers without water.
"Tooru-kun?" I finally get out in a quiet voice.
Both boys turn quickly, surprised to hear another voice. Oikawa's brown eyes widen behind his glasses. I feel myself flushing, suddenly feeling self-conscious
Damn. Why does he always have to look so good? The glasses are really cute as well. Does he really like someone as plain as me? Oh God, is my hair a mess? Did I miss covering up my stress acne with concealer? Does my outfit look-
"Asu-chan?" Oikawa says, confused. "What are you doing over here?"
I make my way down to them. "I thought I saw you sitting here," I tell him. "I came over here to check. Do you mind?" I gesture to the other seat next to him.
His eyes widen again. "No, not at all," he answers. I smile at him and take a seat.
It’s quiet. It's never quiet around Tooru. We are always conversing, joking and laughing. Why does it suddenly feel so awkward between the two of us? Why am I so nervous to talk to him?
Iwaizumi, probably sensing the tension, stands up. "I gotta use the bathroom. I'll be back it a bit." He vaults over the back of the seats and walks out of sight, leaving us alone.
Its silent for a bit until I speak up. "How are you?" I mumble.
He just sighs as he watches the game. "I've been better," he finally says. "Why aren't you with your team, cheering on your brother and boyfriend?"
"Yeah about that," I start. "The whole date with Daichi kinda fell through."
"What?" My statement grabs his attention and his gaze moves from the court to me. "I'm sorry. I know you really like him."
This comment makes me flinch slightly, remembering Monday at the park. "That's the thing," I shrug. "We decided to mutually cancel it since we both figured out we like other people."
"Well that's-" He stops himself as if finally processing my words. "Wait, both?"
"Yeah he realized he doesn’t see me that way, and me-" I look up at him. His brown eyes are clouded with confusion, his mouth slightly parted. He's so close to me, it takes my breath away. "I- uh... I realized I really like you, Tooru-kun."
I see him swallow, taking in my confession, and I grow nervous.
"I'm sorry it took me this long, and I know I rejected you earlier this week," I begin to ramble, looking away from him and to the game. "It’s okay if you're already over me. I'd understand completely. I took too long and-"
"Asu-chan," he stops me, placing his hand on mine. I look back at him to see his steady gaze on me, a light smile on his face. "You really say the dumbest things sometimes, you know that?"
"Huh?" I blink at him.
He lets out a soft laugh, leaning his head back. "You really think I could just get over someone like you?" He asks me. "I did tell you you're the one I want most, more than anyone else, on Monday, did I not?"
That's right, he did.
My faces flushes again at the memory. "I do remember," I tell him.
"And I stand by that statement still," he continues. I gasp softly. He smiles at me. "Do you really mean it?"
I then notice that his hand is still gripping mine. I move mine and thread my fingers with his, intertwining them, making a slight blush appear across his cheeks. I nod. "Yes," I state, resolutely. "You are who I want more than anyone else. I'm sorry it took me this long."
"I would have waited much longer for you," he tells me.
"Really?" My heart skips a beat.
"Asu-chan, not only are you beautiful and just the most wonderful girl, but you're the first girl that I felt understood me," he explains, pulling our intertwined hands closer to him and placing his other hand over mine. "You encouraged me to do better and try harder because you knew how much volleyball means to me. The past girls I dated just got annoyed that I wasn't paying as much attention to them. Not only that, but you knew when to stop me before I hurt myself. You can always cheer me up, and I always wanted to be around you whether it be at the park, helping the kids at the gym, or other places."
"I feel the same way,” I admit. “You always listen to me when I'm upset, you never fail to make me laugh, and even though you can be quite childish at times, I really like that about you too. I kinda just like everything about you." I look away to try and hide my blush, but he stops me, catching my cheek with his hand. He leans in and my heart starts to race.
Just then, my phone beeps, making me jump. Oikawa removes his hand, but the hand holding mine stays the same. There's a small frown on his face, showing he's annoyed that we got interrupted.
"I'm sorry," I mumble, looking at my phone. Yui texted me.
Where are you? Are you okay??
"Its fine," Oikawa assures me.
I shoot Yui a text back.
Sorry! I found Tooru. I might be sitting with him for a while.
Its’ quiet as both of us focus on the game, but its changed. This is a good quiet. A comfortable quiet where we are both enjoying just being next to each other.
I smile as I look down at the court, a feeling of warmth coming from his hand in mine. This went better than I could have ever dreamed.
When Iwaizumi hops over the seats again and sits down on Oikawa's other side, I can tell that he notices mine and Oikawa's intertwined hands. He doesn't comment on it though. As the game continues, we discuss the game and the strategies that we are witnessing in it. Seeing Oikawa and Iwaizumi interact is actually interesting. They seem like such opposites, but they are more like two sides of the same coin. They can tell what each other are thinking and share such similarities in the way they talk to each other, but their personalities are so different. It kinda reminds me of how Asahi and I are. I guess that's what happens when you grow up with someone.
During one part of the game, Oikawa leans his head on my shoulder as he talks about Tsukishima to Iwaizumi. I freeze up, my face flushing for the hundredth time today.
How can he be so casual about this when I'm a blubbering mess?
I soon calm down and relax and rest my head against his, his soft hair tickling my cheek making me smile. He shifts and I feel his lips brush against my jawline, making me tense up again. I feel him smirk against my neck. He knows exactly what he's doing to me. That little shit.
Luckily Iwaizumi comes to my rescue. "Oikawa, I know you get clingy when you're depressed, and I can tell you two are in some way together now, but I am right here," he states in a monotone voice. "Can you not be all over Azumane-san right now? I know she wants to watch her brother's game, and I just don't want to see it."
Out of spite, Oikawa moves even closer to me, making me let out a gasp. "Iwa-chan, does this make you uncomfortable?" Oikawa teases, his hot breath on my neck, making me shiver.
"Tooru-kun..." I warn.
In response, Iwaizumi reaches over and smacks him on the head. I let out a laugh as Oikawa jumps, sitting up in his seat again.
He rubs the back of his head. "Owie, Iwa-chan. Do you hit all your friends?"
"No, only you," he replies.
I let out a soft snort. "Kinky," I can't help but mumble. Oikawa makes a choking noise while Iwaizumi lets out a laugh.
"Okay, I like her," Iwaizumi says while still laughing.
"Well you're not allowed to like her," Oikawa pouts like a child.
"You can be such a baby sometimes, Tooru-kun," I tease him.
"Well you're the one who said that you like everything about me," he retorts, sticking his tongue out at me. "So, I guess you'll have to deal with it."
"I guess so," I grin, as I turn my attention back to the game.
As time ticks on, we are nearing the end of the last game. I am completely absorbed into it as I watch my brother and friends play with so much intensity.
"Nice kill, Asahi!" I yell as my brother spikes the ball, gaining another point for Karasuno. I'm almost shaking with nervous energy right now as the scores are neck and neck. It could be anyone's game.
"Asu-chan, I love that your supportive of your brother, but can you not draw attention over here? I don't really want to be seen here. It's embarrassing," Oikawa says. He then frowns and averts his eyes. "I'm sorry, that sounded rude."
"No, I completely understand," I assure him, sitting back down, my eyes still on the court. "When I came back the day after I lost during the last tournament to support the boys when they played you, I felt embarrassed and out of place. Since I lost I felt like I didn't deserve to be there."
Oikawa sighs. "I'm sorry I'm being such a downer," he apologizes. "I know this week hasn't been too great for you either. Speaking of which, are you doing okay?"
Now it's my turn to sigh. I glance over at Iwaizumi. I don't wanna say anything too upsetting and start crying in front of him. He seems to be ignoring us as he watches the game. He's slouched in his seat, his hands in the pockets of his coat. Good.
"Actually, it kinda got worse last night," I mumble, quietly as I watch the game.
Oikawa moves his arm from resting on the back of my seat to around my shoulders, pulling me closer to him, comfortingly. He doesn't ask me to continue probably for my sake, but I know he wants to know what happened.
I sigh and lean into his warmth. "My second-choice school rejected me as well. I only made it into the two more local universities which were just supposed to be my safety schools."
"I know this won't help, but I'm sorry," he says, softly. "I know you worked really hard to try and get in those schools."
"Yeah I did, but I guess my best wasn't good enough," I reply. "It seems we both didn't get what we wanted most. You didn't get to go to Nationals and I didn't get accepted into my schools. We both worked so hard..." I trail off, frustrated tears pricking at my eyes.
"I know," he tells me. "We did our best, but this time, it wasn't enough. All we can do is pick ourselves up and keep striving to do our very best. Also, we may not have gotten what we wanted most, but I know I got who I want most, and I'll be there to support you and help you with anything as long as you're there supporting me as well."
A smile tugs at my lips as I blink back tears. "I like the sound of that," I say.
The game ends with Karasuno defeating Shiratorizawa. I am leaping for joy and cheering for my brother as Oikawa stands up.
"What's wrong?" I ask him.
"Nothing. I'm just leaving," he says in a sing-song voice. "I rather die than see the awards ceremony. Let's go, Iwa-chan!" He starts shoving his teammate to his feet.
"You really are a crappy guy," Iwaizumi mutters to him.
I chuckle at his comment, but Oikawa doesn't seem phased at all.
"I'll head back to Yui then," I state as I stand up as well, following the two boys.
Oikawa keeps pushing his friend until we reach the hallway. We reach the stairs where our paths diverge and Oikawa stops, making Iwaizumi look back at him.
"Can you meet me at the entrance?" Oikawa asks him. "I'll just be a minute."
"Yeah, whatever," Iwaizumi grunts as he heads down the steps and out of sight.
Oikawa then looks at me. "You're not busy Monday, right?" he asks me.
When have I ever been busy on Mondays?
"No, sorry," I tell him with a grin which makes his eyes widen in surprise. "You see, I always hang out with this guy and his nephew on Mondays. He'd be very upset if I didn't show up."
He seems to relax after that and grins. "Yeah he definitely would be," he comments, grabbing my arms and pulling me into a hug. "I'll pick you up from school then."
"Thanks for the warning this time," I tease. "You sent some of the girls into to a frenzy on Monday when you showed up. They were pestering me all week about you."
He chuckles as he leans his chin on the top of my head. "Sorry, I can't help that I'm just that good looking."
"I always forget just how inflated your ego is, Tooru," I tell him, pulling away from to look up at him.
He looks down at me, wearing his classic, cheeky grin. "You love it. Don't lie," he teases me.
"Yeah yeah, you dork," I say turning away. "I'll see you Mon-"
I stop as he grabs my arm again. "Asu-chan." Oikawa drags out my name in a lilting voice. "You know, if we are going to be together now, you have to learn how to say goodbye to me properly," he tells me as he pulls me toward him.
"What do you me-"
He cuts me off as he presses his lips to mine, making me gasp a little. I feel those butterflies in my stomach as his soft lips move against my mine, his arms pressing my lower back, pulling me closer to him. I kiss him back and feel him smile as my fingers grasp the collar of his navy coat.
Yes. This feels right. With Tooru, I feel happy even when not everything is going my way. He's always there to let me vent my emotions if I need to or to cheer me up if that's what I need instead. He's not perfect, and he might have a bit of an ego problem, but I'm not perfect either.
I feel him pull away and my eyes flutter open to meet his brown ones behind his glasses. He grins at me. "Now that's more like it," he mumbles, pressing a chaste kiss to my lips again. "I'll see you on Monday, Asu-chan." He gives me one last kiss and then steps away making his way down the stairs.
Uh y-yeah," I stutter out, still feeling dizzy from the kiss. My heart is beating rapidly as I reach up and touch my fingertips to my lips. Oikawa looks back at my flustered state and he smirks.
His smirk then changes to a bright smile. "Bye-bye!" he calls, throwing up a peace sign and disappearing out of sight. I stand there for a few moments, collecting myself until I head back to where my friends are seated.
"Look who's back!" Mei calls with a grin. "Where'd your prince charming go? We could see how cuddly you guys were across the gym."
My face turns bright red. Of course they could see me. I'm so stupid.
"Took you two long enough," Yui huffs.
"We didn't see you kiss at all though, did you?" Haruka presses as I sit down next to Yui.
I'm silent as I stare at the floor. My friends squeal with delight and Yui grabs me shaking me. The girls pester me more as the award ceremony happens and I answer them happily, not being able to contain my happiness.
My brother is going to Nationals. I confessed to Tooru, and we kissed.
Today has been a good day.
Even though I didn't get everything that I wanted, and I'm still upset about that, I don't know. Everything at this moment feels so right.