#tendouweek day 2 - teammates/family
“Again!” A tired but motivated cry rebounds throughout the large and open gym, and the duo that is practising their favourite sport works together to hone their craft of it. The setter, which is said to be the control tower of every volleyball team, hoists the ball towards his partner, who slams it down with lesser force than when they first started spiking practice. The more enthusiastic of the two has sweat rolling off of him in buckets, and he gazes towards his friend concerningly.
“One more!” The shorter of the two calls out again and prepares to set the ball to his teammate, but when the ball falls short of the spiker’s hand, all practice ceases immediately and the taller boy cocks his head to the side in amazement and worry.
“Oh? Eita, don’t you think that’s enough spiking practice? My arms are going to fall off, you know.” The usual smug tone is gone and is replaced by a questioning and provocative background, which sets off the ash blonde who begins to seethe and increase his tight grip on the ball.
“...One more.” This time, Eita’s voice carries less weight, and there is an unmistakable fire in his eyes that reminds Satori of a newborn phoenix. However, the middle blocker knows his friend better than that, and so crosses his arms in a fashion that spells ‘We’re going to stop now’.
“I called you here to practice spiking, not to be a nagging asshole.” The setter snaps at his friend and drops the ball. Satori watches it bounce on the gym floor and then gradually lose its power, which he thinks can accurately describe how Eita is feeling right now.
Full of determination, then slowly but surely giving up.
Without the support of Satori, Eita goes off to practice serving by himself. He paints a picture of loneliness and desolation, as the sun’s rays filtering in through the window cast long, hanging shadows over the gym and onto Eita’s solitude figure. The first ball hits out of bounds, and Satori hears a cry of desperation come from his long-standing friend.
“...You’re angry that Shirabu-kun took your position, aren’t you?” He raises the most important yet redundant question that day, and the setter freezes in his soft footfalls at this statement. He whips his head around with a glare that could kill, and he forgets the notion of serving altogether.
“No, I’m not.” Eita counters with more force than necessary, which makes Satori flinch as the ball is nearly chucked at the direction of his head. He knows better than to provoke his friend when he loses his temper, so the red-haired spiker settles for stretching out his muscles and quenching his thirst instead.
“Alright then. Do you still want to go for dinner with us?” The ‘us’ in Satori’s speech refers to the soon-to-be graduating third years, who still have the fire and determination to clinch that sweet gold in nationals, but unfortunately, their only chance is at Spring High, and the team needs to get their act together if they want to win at all. The normally sardonic Satori hands Eita a water bottle in place of smirking at him, and shuffles out the gym with a hum placed between his lips.
“...Yeah. Let’s go.” For a momentary moment, Eita forgets the bittersweet feeling of setting for Shiratorizawa and battling against his equally competitive junior for a petty position, and promptly gives a playful punch against Satori’s shoulder.
In the quaint yet comfortable alcoves of the ramen place, Satori feels most at ease with his friends and teammates, almost to the point that they are family. The five of them are huddled inside a single booth, with their chopsticks hovering over steaming bowls of their favourite types of ramen, and once again, Hayato is swallowing bowls of ramen with ease, and Jin is cheering him on by the limits of his voice. Eita has finally cracked a smile and is shaking his head despite himself, his own bowl long forgotten. Wakatoshi, in lieu of his assumed stoic nature, has his eyes sparkling in view of his teammates having fun.
Satori thinks that he won’t get this kind of camaraderie in a very long time.
“Ha-ya-to! Ha-ya-to! Ha-ya-to!” Their vice-captain is screaming at the top of his lungs, which attracts dirty glares from the ramen shop patrons. The poor uncle owning the stall has long given up on the idea of keeping them sated, and only serves up the bowls of ramen to a too-determined Hayato. Reon has the patience of a thousand men, and shushes Jin whenever he makes too much noise.
They now have a reputation in the shop.
‘Those noisy Shiratorizawa volleyball boys’, people call them. Satori feels that it is a fitting name, as all five of them love volleyball to death and would sacrifice a piece of their flesh to be able to play it.
“I can’t go on anymore.” Hayato pats his stomach with a satisfied sigh and picks his teeth with a toothpick, while leaning into the cushioned seat behind him. With the adrenaline of the night gone, the rest of them settle down to finish their meal, easy conversation passing between them.
“Wakatoshi-kun~How did you find the new issue of Jump?” Satori pulls on the ace’s arm, his face stretched out in a frenzied elation. He waits until his friend has finished his mouthful of ramen.
“It was intriguing, to say the least. There was an advertisement for an ice-cream machine, though.” At this, the middle blocker perks up from his seat, his eyes shining with excitement.
“Ice-cream machine?! How much was it?” Satori all but screams in Wakatoshi’s ear, earning a nip in his arm from Eita.
“Idiot, don’t scream in other people’s ears!” Even though his words are meant to chide, Satori feels relieved that his best friend is alive and well, and no longer harping on the fact that his main starter position was snatched away from him.
He reminds himself not to bring it up from on.
“Sorry, Wakatoshi.” He answers ruefully, but Wakatoshi shrugs. If there is one thing a local Shiratorizawa student should know about their volleyball team’s ace, it is that he is quick to forgive other people.
Well, quick to forgive Satori, anyway.
“The ice cream machine isn’t that cheap, but it provides many flavours,” Wakatoshi continues, but then stops as a new train of thought enters his mind. “Satori, didn’t you just eat chocolate ice cream yesterday?” At the realization that the middle blocker’s obsession with his favourite food may harm him instead of help him, Wakatoshi furrows his eyebrows worriedly and the initial excitement Satori felt disappears completely.
“Well, yes, but chocolate ice cream is nice…” He trails off, looking down in his lap and smiles embarrassingly. The bandaged fingers at his sides unconsciously come together and Satori wrings them together, which does not go unnoticed by Wakatoshi. Despite the ace’s social incompetence, he has a mental record of all of his friend’s nervous habits, and with the arrival of one, he merely nods.
“Well, we could hide the machine somewhere in the locker room.” Hayato suggests, and is immediately shot down by both Reon and Eita.
“If Coach finds it, we’ll be dead meat.” Jin ushers the four of his friends out into the cooling autumn wind after all of them are satisfied with their dinner fill for the night, and they walk briskly back to the Shiratorizawa dormitories. Satori recalls a few sheets of homework left unattended on his desk, and shoves his hands into his pockets due to the biting weather. Ever since he became a third year, the workload imposed on all five of them have been increased, and the red-haired boy feels as if the education system in Japan stresses academics too seriously.
He was planning to set up a small business anyway, so why would he need Literature or Chemistry for? The subjects were redundant, and yet people like Kenjirou studied deep into the night. Honestly, all of was so overrated, and Satori wishes he could be back in his home just sipping hot chocolate with his mother and nuzzling up to the comforts of a raging fire in the fireplace.
Just one more year, and he could be free to do whatever he wanted. The Shiratorizawa regimen was too taxing anyway.
Satori falls into step with Eita and they send a knowing glance each other’s way, and the middle blocker feels blessed for having such an understanding friend outside of family.
“Hm?” Eita adjusts the scarf around his neck more securely, and Satori wonders about the scarf’s true origin. It seems much too small for him, and does not emit the familiar scent of faint strawberries.
“You know we’re graduating right? What are you gonna do after graduation?” The topic that has been in all of their minds for the past month finally makes its entrance, and Eita gets this wistful look in his eyes that Satori feels is too out-of-character for his fiery spirit.
“Well, I was planning to go to college, for starters, but I don’t really know about my future.” The ash blonde looks towards the sky as he explains his thoughts, but then his knowledge of his best friend gets the better of him and he stares at Satori with an accusing look in his eyes.
“What? What did I do?” Satori nearly bursts out into peals of laughter, but manages to stop himself by slapping a hand over his mouth.
“...You’re gonna tease me about something, I just know it.” Eita narrows his eyes, but instead of disapproval written all over his face, he eventually breaks into a nostalgic smile.
This isn’t right. Eita was supposed to hit me or something.
This doesn’t feel good.
“Damn it.” Satori curses under his breath, and feels a pang of something piercing through his chest. It was never supposed to be like this; they were supposed to be on a banter-like basis, not an emotional roller coaster. How was he going to face Eita at graduation now?
He was supposed to be the jovial one. He was the token optimistic guy who cheered up their juniors and teased his friends, not some hormonal teenager whose tear ducts opened up without warning.
“Satori? Are you okay?” Eita stops walking and forces his best friend to look at him dead between his eyes, but his fingers quiver on his friend’s shoulders when he sees the damp and rapidly crumbling face of Satori. “Satori?”
“...I...I’m sorry.” He apologises even though he did nothing wrong, and crumples to the ground in a squatting position, clutching his stomach and his mouth with both hands to muffle the whimpers that spill out of his mouth. The large tears won’t stop rolling down his cheeks in waves, and Satori feels a pair of strong arms envelop him in an embrace that blocks out everything in the world.
“...You’re afraid, aren’t you? Afraid of graduation?” Satori nods vigorously, and lets his tears fall freely in the bosom of his best friend. Since young, he has been fearful of change, and Eita comprehends this better than anyone else. The taller boy’s head is starting to swim, and he allows himself to collapse into the setter’s arms.
“Look. I know it sounds scary and all, going to college and meeting new people. But you need to remember that we’ll all be here to support you if you need it, alright? Stop hurting yourself, you goof.” Eita pulls his best friend’s hands away from him and encases them in thick, warm gloves, and Satori feels the blood rushing to his hands.
“You got us, too.” Hayato strides over to the pair, his arms on his waist and a triumphant grin spread from one cheek to the other. “We still got Spring High Prelims, ya know.” With the reassurance of the team’s trusted libero hanging tightly to his heartstrings, Satori is reminded of every miraculous save that Hayato has ever accomplished and is emboldened; he suddenly feels like anything is possible in the face of setbacks.
Warm smiles are plastered to the faces of Reon, Jin and even Wakatoshi, and with newfound strength, Satori sprints down the street, shouting at the peak of his lungs’ limits.
“I’m gonna block all of their spikes!”
“You idiot, the ramen! You’re gonna hurl!” Eita follows close behind with a speed that could rival even Wakatoshi’s normal morning runs and the two of them run together, the endeavors of their future in front of them and newborn wings growing on their backs.