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The First Sip of Beer

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As soon as they told him, he was filled with panic. With just one year left of school, to up and move to a place he'd never been, starting life over surrounded by people he'd never met, and attempting to do it all while trying to speak a language he didn't understand. There was no way he could do it.

Completely ready to put up a fight, his mind went over everything he would say, every argument he could make, and in the end he'd been the one to stand there speechless again. He literally couldn't believe that any of this was happening.

They didn't expect him to leave with them. They'd give him the choice of course, but when he took a moment to really analyze their expressions and reactions to what his decision was, they'd seemed almost relieved that he wasn't coming. After all, they'd only purchased two plane tickets.

His father had shook his hand, telling him that he was already a man and that while this may be a hard transition for him, it would make him stronger... more ready for what life had to throw at him.

It was no secret that they'd been relieved after receiving the letter from his guidance counselor either. He was an average student. Average. The man had basically told him that college was not in his future. Not in those exact words of course, but that's what it'd meant.

With his scores, the best he'd do was community college. Where he could rack up a bunch of debt, to probably flunk out of some classes that taught him nothing that he would need, for whatever manual labor job that he would be lucky to find.

And that's pretty much what the letter had said that was dropped into their mailbox just several days ago. Again, his parents hadn't been surprised. And they weren't upset that they didn't have to worry over helping him with the cost of said community college either.

He liked school. He didn't mind the work, but had never over excelled in it. He'd loved Volleyball. Loved, as in past tense. Before he'd basically lost the match for them. Now he didn't even have that.

He couldn't face Yuu. He couldn't face any of them. Two years together and now this! He couldn't remember a single day that he hadn't spent time with one or all of them, and they'd barely spoken since the match. And it was his fault!

He hadn't spoken to Yuu at all since their argument in the hallway, and that was killing him! All of it was.

He missed them, but every time he thought of picking up his phone, or tracking one of them down between classes, it would all replay in his mind all over again. Every minute of that horrible match. Right down to him turning his back on one of his best friends and walking away.

He hadn't even told his parents that he hadn't been going to practice. He just didn't come home until he figured it was his normal time to walk through the door, and then he'd go straight to his room. They were so busy, neither of them had noticed. At first it'd seemed easier on him, but now just getting through each day had become like a weight around his neck that he couldn't shake off.

He hated keeping secrets. He hated not feeling like he could talk to his friends... like he didn't have anyone to turn to. He just couldn't face the loss that he'd caused them, and even though they kept telling him that it hadn't been his fault, he knew better. He'd seen with his own eyes what'd happened.

His mom and dad had come home with boxes and rushed around the house packing everything that they absolutely couldn't do without, their plane left first thing tomorrow morning. The shipping company would be by in two days to collect the boxes they would have packed and ready by the door. The rest of the furniture would stay at the house for him.

His mom kept telling him he'd have everything he needed. There was no need for her to go over the use of the laundry machines, as he'd been doing his own wash since middle school, literally because she'd demanded it.

Both having high level careers, there was maybe one night a week that a home cooked meal was made. The rest of the time he ate store bought, microwaveable, or was eating at Suga's or Daichi's house. But most of the time it was Suga's.

There were many times that Suga's mom had prepared him extra food along with her own son's, to take to him when they'd had late practices or games. Neither of them could stand the idea of him going home and having to prepare his own dinner after being that exhausted.

Looked like that wouldn't be a problem anymore.

His father kept pointing to the papers on the table. The landlord had been paid in full for two years. He would have the last year of school that was just now starting, and the year after. At that point, he would have the choice to continue here on his own, which he already knew he wouldn't be able to afford, or move elsewhere.

The more he heard, the more he felt he would suffocate under the pressure that was steadily mounting up in his chest! The utility bills were on the table, along with postage and directions that had been written out for him to follow.

They'd paid the school for any extra uniforms he may need, and money was in his student account for lunches and school supplies. There was his first and second month's grocery money in an envelope. The cupboards were stocked with things that he could easily make.

His eyes shifted between them, their voices growing distant as his ears began to ring. He stood there watching them in a daze as they laughed, going from room to room packing suitcases, talking about where they might search for apartments once they got there till they found a house they wanted.

They'd planned all of this without his knowledge... all of it. They were ready. It was like they were free. They were free of him and were planning out the rest of their lives.

Turning from the sight, he walked into his room, grabbed his phone, his uniform jacket and walked to the front door. As soon as his hand hit the handle, his dad's voice rang out from the back bedroom. "Don't be out too late! I want to go over the details with you again before bed!"

Closing the door behind him, relieved to be free from their happiness, he flipped open his phone and tried to look at the numbers through the tears that were flooding his vision. Bringing up his free hand to wipe away the wetness just in case he happened across anyone, the first button he hit was Suga's.

He'd be able to talk to him about this without the match or the team even being brought up. Suga wouldn't pressure him, he'd listen.

The phone rang just once. Then that familiar voice on the other end sounding so relieved to hear from him. So relieved. "Asahi! I'm so gla- "

Just hearing that voice compounded the pain in his chest to the point of agony. The flood gates opened and he sobbed out! "Suga! I need to... can I come over?"

Standing in the middle of the street, his hand plastered to his face, shielding his eyes! He cried into the phone! His friend's voice coming through the other end, concerned and worried, telling him to hurry! Asking him if he wanted him to meet half way.

That soft, melodic voice stayed with him on the phone the entire time he was walking, almost as if Suga was afraid he'd get lost. He sounded lost.

By the time he'd gotten to the end of the gate that surrounded their small farm house, how he'd even gotten there was gone from his mind. Not that it was a long walk by any means, it usually only took about ten minutes if he was moving at a good pace. It had to have taken him longer than that though, his feet felt as if they weighed a ton.

He'd cried the entire time, barely able to get a word out. The worry over someone seeing him this way was long gone. The longer he heard his friend's voice and the closer that he got to his house, the more the hurt he was feeling broke free. Almost as if his ailing heart knew that he was heading toward his only place of solace.

Suga was waiting for him out front. As soon as he saw him, he rushed through the gate out to greet him, already consoling him and not even knowing what for yet. Hearing his voice in person, and now seeing him, knowing that he was right there just made it worse. It was like all of his stress was culminating into one horrible painful moment of release.

Sobbing as he was led into their house, Suga's mother rushed to him. A tiny woman that was so delicate and beautiful. Every time he saw her it never ceased to amaze him how much Suga looked like her. They were so much alike in personality. Both so gentle and caring, always thinking of others before themselves. Always thinking of him.

Her voice so soft, "Asahi! What is wrong? What happened to you? Come... come, sit down."

Bowing to her, he apologized for his appearance and lack of notice before arriving. Waving him off, she led him to their table leaving Suga with him, and went into the kitchen to warm the kettle on a small hotplate that sat in the corner of the counter.

Sitting down, he could smell that their dinner was already in process. He was interrupting. He felt like an idiot! His head bowed, Suga's smaller hand reached out to take his and he could barely look him in the face. His heart felt like it was breaking and this was the only place... these were the only people he felt he could turn to.

Suga's mother and father both, were genuinely wonderful people. He'd spent a lot of time here and was used to seeing more of them than his own parents. His father worked in the city and had a decent commute each night, so he wasn't home yet and probably wouldn't be for awhile. He didn't want to disrupt their evening, but he had to talk to someone before he exploded.

A box of tissues and a cup of tea were both set before him. The kindness in just that simple thing sent more tears rolling and he reached for the tissues, wiping his running nose so he could speak. "They're... they're leaving!"

The hitching in his chest was getting to the point that he could barely speak.

Suga grasped his hand harder, staring at him in amazement. Here was a boy... a teenager, but in many ways still just a boy.

Here at his table, sat his friend, that looked about twenty five or even older at times. Strands of his long hair had come loose and now hung in his face, getting caught in the wet mess that had run down his cheeks into his mouth. Partial goatee, and at this point in the evening he had shadow from the beard that he was constantly attempting to keep at bay. If the truth were known, he had more body hair than even some of their teachers. Large in stature and even larger in heart.

It was true. Regardless of how old and mature he looked, he had the most tender heart of anyone he'd ever known. Often being insecure, gentle and timid. Until he was on the court. Then he was a force to be reckoned with.

That was actually what he'd thought Asahi had called him about. That perhaps he wanted to talk about what had happened and was going to come back. But upon hearing this and seeing him so distraught, there was no way that he could bring it up now. It would just have to wait.

His large body shook the small table as he fought to get himself under control. And each time his mother would attempt to console him, more tears fell.

Raising a hand to his friend's face, Suga pulled some of the dark hair sticking to his jaw away and tucked it behind his ear, speaking softly to him. "Asahi... it's going to be alright."

"I... I thought... that I'd be... alright with it!" His fists clenched up as he sucked in a deep breath, trying to quell the tremors that rocked him. He needed to speak! To get it out!

Suga pushed the cup towards him, urging him to drink, knowing it would calm him down some. Finally he reached out wth shaking hands and took it, sipping for a few minutes before setting it back down. Wiping his face, he held the sodden tissues. "I thought I'd be alright with it... I mean I am... I don't want to leave!"

Red rimmed, swollen eyes now looked up at him, "I can't leave everything that I know! I just can't... Suga... "

Seemingly endless tears rolled down his cheeks, "I don't know what to do! There's a pile of papers on the table. I've never dealt with any of that stuff!"

Both hands now clutching onto his friend's arm, he glanced up at his mother. Her face was pinched in a way that he couldn't remember ever seeing before. Her dark eyes were watering up, "Koshi, you should stay with him tonight. He shouldn't be alone there with what is taking place!"

Asahi looked up at her, his face pulled into a painful grimace, "I don't want to be any trouble for you... I'm so sorry!"

Standing up from the table, she nodded at her son, then turned to him. "Asahi, you will always be a part of this family! It is no trouble."

Pulling him up from the table, Suga led him into his room so he could pack for the night while Asahi cleaned up in the mirror that was over his dresser. "My father's away for the night on business, so she'll want you to eat here at least... you know, give you a decent meal."

The pained look that came across his big friend's face at those last words were what pulled him in. They were finally alone and so it was alright.

Taking hold of his arms, Suga turned him so they were facing one another and stepped into his embrace. Speaking muffled against his large chest, "You don't have to worry about being alone... I'm here."