“Hello, ma’am! Is Keiji home?” Bokuto asked, nervous but polite. “We’re in the volleyball club together! I just have a quick question for him if that’s okay?”
“Oh, yes, just one moment.” There was an audible clack as she placed the phone on the table.
Some time later, Akaashi picked up the phone and answered, “hello?”
“Hey, hey, hey, ‘Kaashi!” Bokuto beamed.
“Oh, hello, Bokuto-san,” he sounded surprised. “And it’s A-kaashi.”
“Sorry, Akaashi!” Bokuto twirled the landline cord on his finger nervously, “uh, hey! Did you know snails have teeth?!”
“I didn’t know that. That’s...kind of unnerving.”
“Isn’t it creepy?! They can bite!”
“Yeah, it’s weird.” There was a pause in the conversation. “So...did you...need something?”
“Yeah, umm,” Bokuto fiddled with the landline cord, which had become tangled due to all the twirling, “do you happen to be free this weekend? I could use a volleyball buddy! I know it’s a lot to ask since it’s the weekend and you’re probably busy, but you’re the first person I thought about asking! I totally get it if you don’t want to.”
“I’m free this weekend. I’d like to practice with you.”
“Yuss!” Bokuto raised his free arm excitedly, almost pulling the cord off the phone, “that would be awesome!”
“Hey, hey, hey, ‘Kaashi!” Bokuto greeted him excitedly. “Did you know echidnas have four penises?”
“That...must be really weird to see in real life.”
“Did you call for a particular reason?”
“No...Well, yes.” He smiled sheepishly, “I just wanted to say hi.”
“Oh.” There was a brief pause. “Hi.”
“Are you having a nice time with your grandparents?” He added, suddenly feeling self-conscious for having called. “I hope I’m not interrupting you!”
“No, it’s fine, I’d like to chat.” Akaashi paused and lowered his voice, “it’s nice to see them, but two weeks is a long time to spend in the middle of nowhere. Also, there’s no one to practice volleyball with. I’ve gotten pretty good at chess though.”
Bokuto laughed, loud as always. “Well, you can practice volleyball with me when you come back! I’ll whip you back into shape in no time!”
Akaashi’s smile could be heard over the phone, “thank you, I would appreciate a refresher before break ends and we resume club activities.”
“Hey, hey, hey, ‘Kaashi!” Bokuto greeted him cheerfully. “Kuroo and Kenma are coming over this weekend to play videogames, wanna come too?”
“I get motion sickness from playing video games.”
“Oh,” Bokuto could not help but sound crestfallen, “that sounds awful.”
“I can still hang out with you while you play, if it doesn’t bother you?”
“Yes!” Bokuto cheered up immediately. “I’ll let them know you’re coming!”
“Okay.” Akaashi paused for a moment. “So...what happened to the animal facts?”
“Oh yeah,” Bokuto laughed nervously, “a classmate told me that most people probably didn’t care and did not want to hear me blabber on and on about that.”
“Bokuto-san, please continue telling me animal facts.” Akaashi said, his voice as impassive as always. “I like them. I like to hear you talk about that. I think it’s interesting.”
Bokuto brightened up, “really? You sure?”
“Yeah. Tell me one right now.”
Bokuto thought about it for a second. “Oh! Did you know Australia once had a war against emus?”
“That one’s not real.”
“It is! I wouldn’t lie to you. You can look it up!”
“...So who won?”
“Not even lying - the emus.”
Bokuto’s chest fluttered when he heard Akaashi chuckling on the other side of the line.
In my head, it is a fact that Bokuto likes watching animal documentaries.
Chapter 2: Ghost
Early update! Can you tell my job was affected by COVID-19?
For clarity's sake - the chapters take place with plenty of time in between them *unless otherwise stated.* Like, weeks or months. Ditto for the time passing in between phone calls.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Akaashi glanced around Bokuto’s bedroom, genuinely impressed. “Your room is tidy today, Bokuto-san.”
“Isn’t it?” Bokuto beamed proudly. “Last time you came over, you said that having a clean room might help me concentrate! So I made sure to clean it up!” He took off his backpack and set it at the foot of his bed.
Akaashi did not remember saying that. Maybe he had mentioned it as a passing comment.
He was surprised Bokuto had picked up on it - and even more surprised that he had actually acted upon it. “Well, did it help?”
Bokuto nodded vehemently, looking at Akaashi with wide, intense eyes. “ SO much - it’s crazy! I’m even playing better volleyball now!” He flopped onto his bed, arms outstretched. “I feel like I could take over the world!!”
“Let’s settle for finishing our math homework first.” Akaashi said, pulling out a textbook and notebook from his own bag and setting them on the table.
It took Bokuto about fifteen minutes to settle down and actually concentrate on completing his homework. Math was Akaashi’s worst subject, and the only subject Bokuto was at risk of failing. If they were going to be miserable looking at numbers all afternoon, at least they could be miserable together. They made a pretty lousy study group, but at least they got their assignments done.
“Oh, right! Akashi, did I tell you someone confessed to me after English class today?” Bokuto mentioned in a cheerful but casual tone, interrupting the comfortable silence that had fallen between them.
“Oh,” Akaashi lifted his eyes from his notebook. “...Congratulations, Bokuto-san.”
Bokuto did not respond. He was either being bashful, or was concentrating too hard on the math problem in front of him.
Based on his resolute expression, it was probably the latter.
Akaashi glanced back at his notebook, then at the shapes and numbers in his textbook.
So...Bokuto had a girlfriend now.
Akaashi suddenly felt like he had forgotten all his lessons on probability and statistics.
...Was she nice? Bokuto could be sensitive sometimes - Akaashi assumed the entire school knew that by now, so she was probably okay with him being moody. He could also be a bit tone-deaf - hopefully she had a good sense of humour too.
“Who, uh...who is it?” Akaashi glanced back up at Bokuto. He was curious, but was trying hard to appear indifferent.
Honestly, he wasn’t sure why he had even asked - he knew none of the third years, other than those who were in the volleyball club.
“Huh? Oh - one of Yukippe’s friends,” Bokuto replied in a lighthearted manner, writing down something in his notebook.
Akaashi nodded, focusing his eyes back on the math problem in front of him.
...Was she pretty? Was she smart? She probably was both. Akaashi could not imagine himself confessing to anyone, let alone to the school’s big volleyball star. She probably had to be fairly content with herself to do that, then.
Pretty. Smart. Confident.
“That’s nice.” Akaashi said as casually as possible.
Akaashi tried to concentrate on his homework again, but it was fruitless; none of the numbers and words in front of him made sense anymore. He put his pencil down and bit the inside of his cheek, acknowledging he probably was not going to get any more homework done until he confronted the thoughts in his head.
That was fine. He knew he tended to overthink things when he was worried. At least it was more interesting than statistics.
Akaashi wasn’t upset. He wasn’t confused. He was definitely not jealous - Akaashi was pretty sure he didn’t even like girls.
He was...surprised, maybe. It was just so…sudden?
Well. He supposed it had only been a matter of time. Bokuto was fit, and funny, and objectively good-looking. And he was a genuinely nice person. He was a catch, despite his weird hair and his general...loudness. At some point someone was gonna show an interest in him.
But...couldn’t she have confessed later?
As it was, Akaashi and Bokuto had limited time together. They had nationals coming up right before Bokuto graduated. And Bokuto was being scouted by a couple of division one volleyball teams, meaning he was probably going to play professionally if he got offered a contract. Next year he’d be really busy with practice, and Akaashi would be crazy busy with school, club activities, and his entry exams.
And sure, Bokuto had promised to come and visit often, but...well, now that this was happening, he’d probably want to spend that time with his new girlfriend.
He’d probably want to spend time with her before nationals too.
It felt a little bit like...like a loss. Like Akaashi was being left behind.
Ah. That was it. He felt nostalgic. Felt her presence heavily in the room. A ghost of things to come.
“I’m guessing you’ll want to cut down on practice?” Akaashi asked, mostly to interrupt his own train of thought.
Bokuto’s head snapped up immediately. “Whaaat? Why? Oh, her? I told her I wasn’t interested!”
Akaashi felt a bit like an idiot.
“Oh,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant. “How come?”
Bokuto shrugged. “I’m busy with club activities. And I need to keep my grades up, or they won’t let me go to nationals.” He glanced upwards in a contemplative manner. “And I’m just not really into her?”
And just like that, her ghost vanished, and the air was lighter.
Akaashi hummed, feeling a quiet rush of relief spreading in his chest. He returned to his homework, and the numbers began making a little more sense again. “...Maybe when you graduate, then.”
“Eh, I don’t know.” Bokuto shrugged. “Maybe.”
Clean your room when you're stressed out or sad. It'll change your life.