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At the Pool, During Questionable Hours

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It’s getting late, that much Tsumugi can tell. The windows are no longer blinding to look at, nor are they letting sunshine into the ever so cramped library he volunteers for. He’s graduating in a few days, sure, but he really doesn’t want to let go of this place; it feels like he’s leaving his family behind, walking one step ahead of his unit mates when in reality they’re supposed to be on equal ground.

No matter how much he cleans up, no matter how many hours he spends on bettering the library, it still ends up looking a bit shabby. Cramped. He’s spent the past three years in this room, he thinks he owes it at least this much care.

And then he trips.

It’s better than falling off a ladder, Tsumugi tries to convince himself. But it hurt… He prays no one heard that atrocious yelp he just let out. How he manages to trip on air, it’s beyond him.

He steadily tries to get back on his feet, brushing off the dust on his clothes. Maybe that’s enough work for the day.

Tsumugi gently picks up a few more books that lay on the table in the middle of the room, placing them on the registry desk which does not serve its purpose anymore– the library has been devoid of much liveliness for two years now. He puts the books next to each other one by one, taking into account their sizes.

Sighing, he closes the library’s wide doors, and locks them with the staff key Akiomi gave him. He should probably return it now, he supposes.

As he makes his way through the dimly lit, almost pitch black corridors, he hums himself a tune. Ryuseitai has been a lot more active recently, holding shows with impressive sets and energetic songs. The unit is mostly made up of first years, now to be second years, but Tsumugi understands the sentiment behind their increase in lives. He finds it endearing, even.

If Switch is a family of three, then Ryuseitai is a family of five. He can easily tell by one glance at his classmate, Kanata, who talks about his juniors with such enthusiasm.

The underclassmen of the hero unit practicing more often to polish their performance is inspiring in a way, as well as bittersweet. They want their seniors to see them shine while they can still spend time together on school grounds.

“…Bluebird-san?” A voice calls out. Tsumugi keeps walking, way too lost in thought.

“Nn… if you ‘ignore’ me, I will get ‘sad’, you know.”

“Ah..!” Tsumugi identifies the mellow voice as Kanata’s. He comes to a halt, feeling that it would be rude if he were to pass by without greeting him.

“I’m sorry Kanata.. I was so caught up in my thoughts I didn’t notice you.”

The summer breeze moves along with strands of his hair, shaded a darker blue than the boy in front of him. He really ought to tie his hair. Tsumugi doesn’t like the cold, but after hours of mindless labor all day in humid weather, he welcomes the wind.

“The sun’s already set, shouldn’t you be on your way home?” He asks. He’s prying into business he knows he has no particular right to know; but he can’t help it, Kanata is someone he owes so much to.

If he’s troubled, Tsumugi would go to lengths unknown for him.

Perhaps it’s another way of him selfishly trying to feel better about his worthless self. He thinks that may be the truth to it, but maybe he still can’t accept the fact that he genuinely cares for people— it almost doesn’t feel real.

Kanata was the first to forgive him after the events that led to the Five Eccentrics’ demise. Though, rather than forgive, it was as if he never harbored any ill will towards Tsumugi— none of the eccentrics did, in fact. If anything they were sad, grieving their losses at being idols, at being human.

He knew he had betrayed everyone’s trust, treating them just like the crumpled up paper in the President’s trash can of countless propositions. Natsume couldn’t leave him alone, Shu did not want to see Tsumugi anywhere near his sight during the rare days he went outside. He had trouble looking Rei in the eyes, too ashamed to be near him after all that he did. He couldn’t even think of what to make out of Wataru.

But on the day of his fated loss, Kanata got on the stage and sang his heart out. It ended up leaving an impression on Tsumugi, a feeling he just couldn’t shake off. Kanata looked happy, he looked free. It really was a wondrous thing, to be able to give that performance of predetermined destiny so much of his soul and being.

Kanata is someone strong in Tsumugi’s eyes, he’s someone Tsumugi can never be like.

“It has been a ‘while’ since it was just the two of us.” Kanata giggles, taking a few steps towards Tsumugi as to greet him properly.

“Would you want to ‘soak’ your feet in the ‘pool’, Tsumugi?”

He asks, gesturing towards the body of water. Is this even allowed, the older wants to ask, but refrains himself by instead focusing on the fact that Kanata just called him by his first name. A cute, subtle pink taints his ears.

Kanata simply feigns ignorance, smiling coyly. He does take pleasure in teasing Tsumugi every now and then, though he has no plans of admitting so anytime soon.

“Uh, is it really ok for me to do so?“ he asks, “To use the pool at this hour, I mean.“

Kanata only nods– more than happy to have a partner with him at such an odd time of day, and to be able to enjoy the refreshing, chill water with Tsumugi. He doesn’t bother to fold the hem of his clothes, unlike the glasses boy, who’s doing a rather shoddy job at it.

“Would you like some ‘assistance’ with that..?” He means to say, but it turns out sounding like a question instead.

Tsumugi awkwardly laughs, “Uu… Even you’re teasing me now, Kanata.”

Kanata pays it no mind, plopping himself to the ground. He gestures at Tsumugi to do the same, patting the empty space next to him.

Tsumugi follows Kanata’s lead, embedding his legs into water, and himself next to the blue haired boy.

“…We are ‘graduating’ soon.” Kanata muses, seeming a lot more at ease after being in some sort of contact with the water.

“Mm, that is true. We’ve come a long way.” Tsumugi admits, proud of himself for being there.

“I do feel a bit guilty about leaving my juniors, though.”

Kanata closes his eyes, “They are ‘strong’ and ‘cute’, are they not?” A fond smile forming as he reminisces all the moments he’s spent with his precious little unit mates.

“Nacchan too, I am ‘sure’ he will be ‘fine’.” He leans on Tsumugi, using his shoulder as a comfortable headrest.

“Yes.. Yes, they’re all very strong,” The wind is firm, as Tsumugi can barely hear himself. But it’s comfortable like this, with Kanata.

“…I almost envy them.” He whispers; half hoping that the boy leaning on him for support hears him, and half hoping he does not. Kanata doesn’t say anything in response, and continues to hum. He kicks his legs in the water akin to a child.

Tsumugi looks at him for a moment, wondering whether or not he’s fallen asleep. Kanata is still, lulling both himself and Tsumugi. His hair is all messed up now, brushing against Tsumugi's neck. It’s ticklish, but Tsumugi doesn’t mind.

They stay like that until they lose track of time, forgetting– or claiming to forget having checked their watches. It’s awfully warm in the other person’s presence.

“…Aah, I really do wish to keep in contact with you after graduation, Kanata.”