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Sunset Talk

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UNDEAD practice had finally reached its end. Kaoru hadn’t even intended to attend the practice today. He hadn’t really been in the mood, something that had been passed on from his class this morning. 

Thinking back, their morning lesson had been especially boring. Kaoru could say that with confidence, because it seemed everyone shared his perspective. Izumi wasn’t listening to the teacher in the slightest, more concentrated in whatever had caught his attention from the other side of the window. Chiaki was doodling what seemed like heroes from those shows that he loves so much, and even Keito’s expression held poorly disguised boredom. Shu was writing something in his notebook, but Kaoru was pretty sure that it wasn’t anything related to the lesson. Eichi’s gaze was apparently fixed to some point on the floor; that guy looked totally lost in his own thoughts.

Maybe they weren’t the most enthusiastic students despite their grades, but Keito had always been attentive, always taking notes. Almost like a robot, or something similar. Always, but not today. He was trying to hide it and pretend the lesson was as normal as usual, but he was failing spectacularly. If it were not for the fact that everyone there was suffering too, Keito’s situation would be hilarious.

And Madara... Well, he just wasn’t there. Actually, his seat has been empty for a few days. His absence was starting to get a bit annoying, that thought crossed Kaoru’s mind every time he looked at the free seat that morning. He had only just gotten used to Madara’s more constant presence in class, so that guy suddenly going abroad this time of the year… Why was he thinking that much about that?

...Coming back to the real matter, today even Keito seemed lacking in concentration. So it’s fine for Kaoru to be this tired, right?

For that reason, he wanted to… relax a bit. Going to the Marine Bio clubroom sounded like a good idea, but the serenity of the beach was way more tempting. Kaoru wasn't sure about how he was feeling today, although his desire to let his legs carry him to the seaside was pretty clarifying. There was only one thing totally clear: he didn’t want to go home, not yet.

The class period had ended, but Kaoru was still caught up in his own mind, trying to decide where to go. Unfortunately for him, Adonis’ presence in front of 3-A classroom door forced him out of his thoughts. In that exact moment, he realised that any plan he could have done was going to be delayed. If he had sent Adonis to come pick Kaoru up, Rei must have really wanted him to go to practice today. Kaoru knew a live was around the corner, but…

He reprimanded himself. It couldn’t be that bad. Maybe hanging out with his unit mates was just what he needed to keep himself entertained for a few hours, even if practice wasn’t exactly hanging out .

Now that it had ended, Kaoru could say that he was partially right but also partially wrong. Going to practice was a complete pain, despite being a useful way to kill time. Or at least, it was supposed to be. Several hours had passed, but now that he’d left the building, he noticed that he felt as he did in class. That awkward feeling was still there, even more annoying than before.

He doesn’t want to go home yet. That hasn’t changed.

Maybe he can go to his clubroom now. It shouldn’t be that late. If he’s lucky, he may find Kanata there, or at the fountain. With that in mind, he grabs his phone to look at the time on the screen.

To his surprise, he sees three messages from Madara, sent less than an hour ago. It’s not like it was a totally new thing or anything like that. Sometimes Madara messaged him and, a few times, they end up talking for a while. Kaoru doesn’t remember when or how Madara got his number, but probably he just asked Rei for it. 

To be honest, at first he wasn’t his favorite person to talk with at all. Not many months ago, Kaoru even tended to not reply to his messages. But time passed, and Kaoru was trying to be more open.

He feels like Madara isn’t a bad person, despite how Kanata treats him sometimes. Sometimes he thinks about asking Madara about it, before dismissing the thought from his mind. They’re not that close, for him to ask about something like that.

Despite this, Kaoru still considers them classmates, even friends. 

He lingers on the thought for a moment. Are they friends? Madara acts friendly with everyone, sometimes overbearingly so. The affection is one-sided, most of the time. Lately though, he’s been especially friendly towards Kaoru of all people. While he had initially shrugged off Madara’s attempts at what seemed like friendship, eventually he couldn’t help but reciprocate, so maybe they really were friends.

Before long, Kaoru had begun walking out of Yumenosaki, all while looking at his phone.

Mikejima-kun: Kaoru-san!!! it seems like i’ll be back in japan in a few days!! i’ll compensate you for going abroad when we had plans together this week (5:16 pm)

Mikejima-kun: also, look at this!! he reminded me of you (5:17 pm)

The third message is a photo of a white duck. He can see Madara’s hand feeding it with a lettuce leaf, and his lips quirk.

You: How cute (6:02 pm)

You: And did we have plans? You talked about going to play pool this week but we didn’t really choose a day for it yet or anything (6:02 pm)

Madara replies quickly, surprisingly enough. Probably means he isn’t busy right now.

Mikejima-kun: thanks!! (6:04 pm)

You: The duck, I mean. Not you (6:04 pm)

Mikejima-kun: oh (6:05 pm)

Kaoru rolls his eyes. He’s sure that Madara knew he meant the duck was cute.

Mikejima-kun: Kaoru-san (6:05 pm)

Mikejima-kun: can i call you? (6:05 pm)

You: Um? I guess, but why? (6:06 pm)

Kaoru waits, but there’s no reply to his last message. Instead, the phone starts to vibrate with an incoming call. From Madara, of course. The blond frowns, a little confused, but it doesn’t take long for him to answer the phone. After all, it’s easier to talk than to type, especially while walking.

“Mikejima-kun?”, he whispers inquiringly.

“Kaoru-san!” Madara sounds clear on the other end, and Kaoru sighed with relief when he hears that the other guy’s voice is as cheerful as usual. Then again, that seemed to just be Madara’s default tone, so perhaps it wasn’t proof that there wasn’t a problem. Before he could ask the reason behind the sudden call, however, Madara keeps on going. “How are you? Long time without talking!”

“We literally chatted two days ago, Mikejima-kun.” Kaoru closes his eyes with resignation in his face and voice, after which he can hear the brunette laughing softly.

“I know, I know. It’s just that I’ve already gotten used to talking to you everyday, so…”

“Does that mean you missed me ~?” Kaoru says, with a slight smile and a teasing tone.

“Maaaaybe~. Didn’t you miss me too, Kaoru-san? I’m sure lessons are quite boring these days. Did you attend class today?”

Madara’s comeback reminds him of this morning, and all the times Kaoru had looked over at his empty seat. He muffled the sound of embarrassment that escapes him, despite Madara not being there to see it. For a moment it feels like he would find out regardless, even though Kaoru knows it’s impossible.

“Geez, obviously I went. I don’t skip class that much, you know.” With that answer, Kaoru brushes by the first question. He’s glad they aren’t face-to-face, or his adamant avoidance would be obvious. “But I’m tired. Sakuma-san made me go to practice after class…”

“I’m happy to hear that! Work yourself to the bone , Kaoru-san, and Mama will reward your effort once I’m back~. I know a café that has really good pancakes.”

Truth be told, Kaoru did miss him. No, he does miss him, even now. And probably, he knows that if Madara wasn’t abroad, those plans with him would be what he was doing, rather than going to the Marine Bio Club or even the beach.

...The beach.

Kaoru suddenly stops walking when the briny scent makes him realize where his feet have taken him. Focused on the call, he didn’t pay attention to where he had been going, but he ended up here anyway... From the promenade, he can see there’s nobody at this part of the beach. So, even if he has his shoes on, Kaoru doesn’t hesitate about walking in the sand to get close to the seashore.

“I guess I can’t say no to pancakes.” After a little silence, he finally answers.

“...Uhm, Kaoru-san’s voice feels a bit different all of a sudden. Is everything okay?”

The sun is already starting to hide behind the faraway line of the horizon. The lighting turns red bit by bit, and the blonde’s shadow grows in the sand slowly. The sea breeze is cool and nice, even if it’s just tangling his hair. The sight is dazzling and, for a moment, Kaoru regrets being all alone there. Well, he isn’t truly alone, right?

“Everything’s okay, Mikejima-kun.”

Even if Madara is miles away and he’s not able to see this landscape, his voice sounds so close to him thanks to the phone. The proximity makes him feel less alone, yet Kaoru lets out a sigh anyway.

“I’m watching the sunset right now… Isn’t it, like, pretty late in the night where you are, Mikejima-kun?”

“Yup! ...In fact, it’s almost half past 4 am,” He follows it up with a yawn, something that Kaoru isn’t sure he was supposed to hear. 

“Then why did you call me? You should be sleeping. Did something happen?”

A pause.

“I just wanted to hear your voice.”

The tone in which Madara says it makes the statement sound extremely sincere, and Kaoru can’t help how his face begins to burn. He’s lucky there’s nobody there and the brunette can’t see him either, he thinks. Seconds of silence follow Madara’s words, but Kaoru finally manages to unstick a reply from his throat. 

“That’s nice and all, but it’s way too late for you to be up right now.” Kaoru scolds him quietly. He still sounds a bit embarrassed though, as if it were difficult for him to complain. “...You can call me again tomorrow, if you want. I guess it’s… good to hear you too.”

“If it's okay for you, I will!” He could swear that Madara seems way more sleepy than before, unable to hide the drowsiness in his voice anymore. “Let’s talk tomorrow, then~!”

“Yeah, yeah. Go to sleep, Mikejima-kun. Good night~...”

And, with a happy ‘good night’, Madara hangs up. All that Kaoru can hear now is the sound of the waves, and he figures he should go home already, the sun now barely visible.

Somehow, that heavy feeling that accompanied him the whole day was finally gone. It feels like coming here helped him to lift that abstract worry off his shoulders. Or… maybe it was that call.

A slight smile on his face, Kaoru feels like he can finally turn around and eventually head home now.