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A drop of Tears, a Ticking Clock, and a Pair of Beating Hearts

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2013年 3月 1日

 

This is the last month of the academic year. My classmates are dreading the final exam that is coming up in two weeks and anticipating spring break at the same time. I don't care much about any of those. I make sure to study for a short time everyday, so there is no need to fret about an overnight study session. Spring break is always the same: lazy breeze and hazy days that stretch on endlessly until it abruptly ends at the start of the new school year, so I'm not particularly keen about it either.

 

One thing is different this year. Bokuto-san is graduating in two weeks.

 

He still comes to the club even though the other third years took their time off after the national tournament ended to focus on getting into a university. Bokuto-san has been recruited into a professional volleyball team in V League Division 1, the MSBY Black Jackal, as a full-time professional volleyball player, so he doesn't plan to further his education path.

 

It is weird. The atmosphere in the gym, the way I focus more than usual when tossing to Bokuto-san, the heavy feeling in my chest when he said Fukurodani is in my care now, and the way his eyes linger on me a bit longer each day after the club is dismissed.

 

It's almost as if he has something to say.




2013年 3月 17日

 

Today is the last day of school. I went to greet Bokuto-san at the graduation ceremony with a bouquet of flowers. All the first and second year club members were there.

 

We took a group photo at the gym with a polaroid camera and distributed them to everyone. I chose the one that didn't have the best composition, but everyone seemed less down because it was taken right after Sarukui-senpai got a tease out of Bokuto-san.

 

"Let's keep in touch," was what Bokuto-san told me before we went separate ways. Why did he say it like I was going anywhere? It is him who is going away.




2013年 4月 7日

 

Spring break has been as I thought. It is uneventful.




2013年 4月 28日

 

I haven't heard from Bokuto-san for a while. The last time I got a short message from him was five days ago. He said he was in the physical evaluation phase at the training facilities. The doctors and staff there were recording his statistics and health-related numbers for future reference. I’m tempted to go and give them my note on Bokuto-san’s weakness. Their setter will want to know what to do when Bokuto-san gets into one of his swinging moods.




2013年 5月 3日

 

It seems like I haven't written as often as I used to. It's probably because there is nothing to write about. Everyday is the same. There is nothing interesting going on.

 

Yesterday, I sat at my desk and tried to think of something to write. All I could squeeze out was how mom bought chestnuts from the morning market, so I erased it because it wasn't exciting. If Bokuto-san read it, he'll probably say it's "uncool."




2013年 5月 17日

 

The club alumni and I went to Osaka to see Bokuto-san. He finally got a weekend off. At first he said he would come visit us, but Komi-senpai said it was his dream to go to the Universal Studios theme park, so we were the ones who went there.

 

The park was fun. We rode a lot of brain-shattering attractions. There was a drop tower that everyone wanted to try. It looked dangerous and intimidating. I mean, that tower dropped people's seats from so high I had to tilt my head up until my chin was parallel to the ground. Just the height of it made me question the sanity of people who invented it. In the end, I refused to get on. The senpais teased me, but I didn't bulge. There was no way I was going on that thing.

 

The rest rode it and came back like their souls had left their bodies. Konoha-senpai needed to lay down and was unable to walk straight for a while. Sarukui-senpai looked like he was contemplating his entire life. Komi-senpai and Washio-senpai seemed fine. As for Bokuto-san, he emptied out his stomach.

 

After that ride, we walked around and played some easy games at the stalls for a while. Bokuto-san threw darts and missed all of them, but then he redeemed himself at the rubber balls throwing stall. He got all the balls through the hoop, earning the highest score and a cowboy hat as a reward.

 

He asked me if his throws looked cool. I thought it was nothing much. He's a professional volleyball player, so that much precision is a given. It would be a genuine concern if he didn't get them in. I complimented him anyway, and he lit up like a sparkler.

 

I also found Bokuto-san's weakness number 74. He is afraid of one-eyed ghosts. Not two-eyed ghosts, not bloody fake corpses. It's specifically one-eyed ghosts.

 

He was shrieking in the haunted house and stuck to me like a koala the whole time. I think he accidentally spiked some poor vampire in the head too. I hope the person's skull is doing alright.

 

I don't know how it happened, but when we finally came out of the haunted house, Washio-senpai pointed out that Bokuto-san and I were holding hands.




2013年 5月 22日

 

I feel a bit more at ease after coming back from Osaka three days ago.

 

Bokuto-san sent us off at the shinkansen station, wailing and pouting, saying that he hadn't gotten his fill of spending time with us yet. But the weekend was over, and he needed to get back to training.

 

I had a good time in Osaka, but good times always come to an end. Even so, I wonder why I feel better. Everyday seems less repetitive and a bit brighter, if that is possible on an already dazzling day of summer. Maybe it's because of Bokuto-san's behavior. More specifically, the meaning of that behavior.

 

We spent time together after two whole months of no face-to-face conversation, but Bokuto-san is still the same Bokuto-san that I know. He went away, but he didn't change, and that's a lot more important to me than I realized.

 

After two months, I finally understand the cause of the strange tightness in my chest at our last volleyball practice and the heavy atmosphere that lingered in the gym every day after the nationals. I was seeing Bokuto-san drifting away, from a third year in the same school to an adult in another place. The lump in my throat when I talked to him was because I thought he would become someone else while I was unable to witness his change.




2013年 6月 5日

 

Being a captain is exhausting. Since I'm the only third year, the kouhais come to me for everything even though we have a vice captain. Sometimes, the problems that they need help with are entirely unrelated to the club. Yesterday, a first year and a second year had a fight, and it was interfering with the practices. The other asked me to do something about it, which I did because I am the captain. The day before yesterday, a first year asked me for dating advice , which made me question myself if I look like a qualified person to come to for a love life talk. And three days before that, the new manager asked me if the members preferred violet or orange scent detergent for their sweat towels. I wasn’t sure if she needed to get into that much detail just for towels.

 

I don’t recall Bokuto-san having to deal with any of these questions last year. But then again, not many people would ask for advice from him.




2013年 6月 12日

 

The graduated senpais came to watch our first interhigh game of the year. They were loud, and they scared the new first years too.

 

I knew Bokuto-san couldn't come because he texted me a twenty-line apology message yesterday. I saw Komi-senpai recording the match though, he’s probably going to send it to Bokuto-san.

 

I feel like a kid whose parents came to watch his game on a Sport's Day and then boast it to the aunt next door.




2013年 7月 1日

 

I got an "I miss you, Akaashi T^T" text from Bokuto-san in the morning, so we called for a couple minutes before I had to go to class.




2013年 7月 26日

 

We had a joint training camp again this year. Karasuno also came. They lost their previous third years' powerful spikes and solid receives, but the libero was a persistent one. They also got a tall first year who had good enough receiving techniques to be a libero. Together, they made it very difficult just to make the ball touch the court floor.

 

I don't have to talk about Kageyama and Hinata. They are as impossible as last year. I will have to text Bokuto-san about Tsukishima's improvement, though. He didn't really keep in contact with Bokuto-san much, which I did expect because Hinata said he didn't even read the texts from other Karasuno second years aside from Yamaguchi. Bokuto-san really likes him. He will want to know how Tsukishima is doing.




2013年 7月 27日

 

I texted Bokuto-san yesterday, "Our first years are afraid of Tsukishima."

 

The reply I got was, "As expected of our Tsukki!"

 

"He kill-blocked most of our first years' spikes and touched a lot of our second years'. I think they have trauma now."

 

Bokuto-san texted back, "Our Tsukki has a great teacher like me!"

 

I don't know how many times I have to correct him that Tsukishima is not ours, and he won't appreciate being called that.




2013年 8月 22日

 

I bought an owl keychain strap without realizing it. I was looking at it at the accessories store on the way home, and the next I know, I'm already at home with it staring at me from the zipper of my bag.

 

It looked a bit like Bokuto-san.




2013年 9月 15日

 

Bokuto-san appeared on a night TV program while we were having dinner. My little brother pointed at him and wouldn't stop yelling about ‘the loud white hair onii-chan’ that he had seen in my matches.

 

It was a variety show to let viewers know the team and its members better, so there were many personal questions. Not the ones that came up as rude, but definitely personal enough to make some players uncomfortable.

 

The entertainment industry is like this. Always exploiting other people's weakness and embarrassment just for some fun elements. But I guess MSBY is in desperate need of some publicity if they came on a TV show like this.

 

Those questions didn't seem to bother Bokuto-san in the slightest, though. He grinned at the camera and answered them with so much enthusiasm, like he was talking about his favorite hair gel brand.

 

There was one question that almost made me spit out the food in my mouth. The MC asked if Bokuto-san had a girlfriend. And when he declined, the guy asked if he had anyone he liked. It wasn't a question that anyone would ask someone whom they are not close to, much less someone they would most likely meet only once in their lifetime. But Bokuto-san lit up like he had been waiting for it and said with confidence, "I do have a person I like!"




2013年 9月 27日

 

I wonder who that person is, that someone whom Bokuto-san likes.




2013年 10月 11日

 

If I have to guess, Bokuto-san probably likes a curvy girl who is outspoken. He also likes someone who will get hype up with him, but I think he'll need someone who can calm him down when needed.

 

If Bokuto-san said he had a crush, then that means they haven’t dated yet. Maybe he was still trying to get to know them better. But his behavior is strange. Why didn’t he say anything? Bokuto-san used to share with me even information that is too trivial, like how coke at McDonald's tasted better than bottled coke from a convenient store. It is unusual that he didn’t mention something as big as his crush when we text or call.

 

I still believe that Bokuto-san and I are close. But maybe, just maybe, we are becoming further apart. Perhaps Bokuto-san doesn't feel comfortable sharing things about his personal relationship with me anymore.

 

I feel like I’m losing something valuable.



2013年 10月 20日

 

It's Bokuto-san's birthday. We have always celebrated together, but that's not the case this year. I sent him a happy birthday message and talked to him until late.

 

He is getting along well with his new teammates. Apparently there is a stroger spiker on the team, and Bokuto-san has been trying to challenge him to see who can hit the fastest spike. He has lost every challenge so far, but that is good. Bokuto-san needs a visible goal, or else he will wilt away and get depressed. (I heard the setter for the Jackal is Miya Atsumu from Inarizaki. I’ll need to give him Bokuto-san’s weakness notebook so that he’ll know how to keep Bokuto-san motivated.)

 

Before we hung up, I told him happy birthday again, and he sounded like he was crying. He was mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like, "I love you, Akaashiiiiii" but really, it could be anything.

 

He said that all the time.




2013年 11月 5日

 

It's decided. We are going to the nationals. The graduated senpai bombarded me with congratulation messages. I got a ton of texts from Bokuto-san too. He is even more excited than I am.




2013年 11月 21日

 

I didn't realize it at first, but now that I looked back, more than half of my diary had Bokuto-san or at least something concerning him in it. Even though he wasn't here anymore, he still occupied as much space on the page as he used to.

 

Reading back the entries from my first year until a couple weeks ago, I come to a conclusion that I like Bokuto-san, and not as a friend or a respectable senpai. I am close to don’t Washio-senpai and Komi-senpai, but I don’t write about them as much as I write about Bokuto-san. I don’t think of them as often either.

 

I like Bokuto-san.

 

There is this fluttering feeling in my chest. The more I write, the clearer I feel it. The sentence is like an affirmation of the existence of something that had always been there but was too obscured by my oblivion to take shape.

 

Yes, I like Bokuto-san.




2013年 12月 5日

 

A package with my name on it was delivered today. Turned out it was Bokuto-san's present for my birthday. There was a card with his name inside. I didn't know what I was expecting, but it surely wasn't the owl plush the size of my head that I got.

 

I called him after we finished a family meal and cake (our family’s tradition for a birthday). When I asked him why he got me an owl, he said it was because I use an owl strap. How did he know I have it? I didn't get to ask because Bokuto-san had to go soon after.




2014年 1月 2日

 

Bokuto-san came visit us in Tokyo. Everyone was surprised because he didn't tell us anything beforehand. When I asked, he only said that he wanted to make a heartfelt comeback.

 

I think he succeeded. Sakurui-sanpai fainted when Bokuto-san jumped him.

 

We went to a shrine together, and Bokuto-san gave me a victory omamori. I tied it on my duffle bag for good luck.




2014年 1月 14日

 

We lost at the nationals. The first years and second years cried hard. They kept apologizing to me. It took the whole bus ride back to school to calm them down. I know this is my last chance at the nationals. Of course I’m also disappointed that we got eliminated this early in the tournament, but I felt like everyone already cried in my stead. I don’t feel like crying too.

 

The graduated senpais were waiting for me in front of the gym. I went with them after the coach told us we did a good job and dismissed us to go home. They bought me matcha ice cream.

 

I like matcha, I really do. But this time, it tasted like defeat.

 

Bokuto-san called. He was wailing harder than all the first years combined. Seeing someone being more upset at the result more than I am makes me feel a lot better. We somehow got to the point where he blamed the shrine for selling a fake omamori, but I stopped him right there.

 

His gameplay and mood is already fifty percent luck as it is. We can't have the gods hating his gut too.




2014年 2月 3日

 

Bokuto-san asked me if there is anyone I like or if anyone had confessed to me. I told him I was single, and the voice on the other side sounded like a scream muffled by a pillow.

 

I know it might be just my imagination, but am I the crush that Bokuto-san talked about on the TV show? Was that why he felt like screaming his heart out after hearing that I’m single? I hope I’m right, but there are so many possibilities. That person might not be me. Maybe Bokuto-san met someone in Tokyo. Maybe his crush is his current teammates.

 

I’m afraid to hope because if I’m wrong, I don’t know if I will be able to look at Bokuto-san again without revealing too much of my feelings.




2014年 2月 19日

 

I’m leaving the club. I'm not planning to pursue a volleyball career. I had my fill of youth, so now it's time for a serious dream. As a third year, I need to focus on studying and getting into a university. 

 

I'm going to get into an art major.




2014年 2月 23日

 

Bokuto-san heard about my choice of career. He sounded like he had been expecting it. He knows I like volleyball, but I don't like it enough to carve my life out of it. Just being able to play with a great team like Fukurodani is good enough for me.

 

Bokuto-san said I will do great with art.




2014年 3月 1日

 

It's the last month of high school. The sakura tree in front of the train station bloomed yesterday. For some reason, this year's spring leaves me with a weightless feeling, like I'm floating through my days at a very fast pace. Mom said it must be a third year crisis. It's the feeling of anticipation at the different environments that seniors will be in once they graduate in less than a month.

 

I stayed after school for a while to look at people walking past the school's front gate. The whole scene played out very clearly from my desk’s vantage point. I watched underclassmen joking and playing with each other for a while before they headed home, just like the kouhais at the club after practice.

 

The bicycle parking at my school is bright pink. Some of the hallway tiles are cracked here and there, but daily care makes it look decent enough. There is an ugly astronomy club sponsor poster on my row of shoe cabinets. The details of the high school's front gate is flowery.

 

I have never noticed or paid attention to these little things until today. How come everything is so vivid recently?

 

Perhaps this was how Bokuto-san felt before he graduated. Suddenly the place we think we know becomes somewhere else. The three years that we spend in this place makes us careless about our surroundings, taking it for granted.

 

As this place transforms into something foreign, the path into the future suddenly becomes terrifying and uncertain. But time can't be turned back. I guess this is what being an adult is like. It is the regret and the nostalgia of the past, but nothing can be done except going forward.




2014年 3月 14日

 

The graduation ceremony was today. The existing club members and the graduated senpais came to congratulate me. And just like last year, we took a group picture at the gym. It was volleyball that brought us together, so it would be volleyball that we would remember each other by.

 

To be honest, at the beginning, I was feeling down. Bokuto-san and I had talked two days ago, but I didn't explicitly mention my graduation because it was a rushed call. I knew Bokuto-san could figure it out if he wanted to. He always finds out things about me through the other senpais, like how he knew about my owl strap from Sarukui-senpai, but he was probably busy.

 

After we took the picture, with me in the middle because there was no other third year, everyone was trying to coerce me to go somewhere. They led me to a big tree that was behind the gym and made themselves scarce within seconds. I was about to ask what they were playing at when someone walked over.

 

It was Bokuto-san. He came.

 

He gave me a bright yellow bouquet and congratulated me with a grin. He also said some other things, but I can't remember much because the next sentence that he said had me in shock.

 

"Akaashi, if you are not dating anyone, do you want to go out with me?" was what he said.

 

I hadn’t expected to be asked that, but somehow, it felt right. It felt like I had been waiting for this question from Bokuto-san all along, since the time I played my first match as his teammate, but didn't dare to think of it.

 

So I smiled, there were probably tears, too, and told him, "Yes, let's date."