It was the subtle things that caught Bokutos attention.
The way he fiddled with his fingers, the way he glanced at a spot on court to throw off the other team.
Akaashi Keji was a very subtle human being. Much unlike his upperclassmen, Bokuto Koutarou.
Bokuto watched the way the corners of Akaashis lips lifted in a way to show his amusement, the way the sides of his eyes crinkled just a tad bit.
He took note of the quiet, barely there laughs when Akaashi really felt happy and content.
Bokuto was exuberant, loud. Everyone knew that, and Akaashi couldn't be more fond of that aspect.
Akaashi loved that he could hide his subtle self behind Bokutos fun personality.
He loved that Bokuto brought out a different side of him too.
Every "Bokuto-san!" and every toss sent to said person was filled with passion. Every time he heard the way the ball hit the ground on the other side of the net with a loud slap, he felt successful.
Bokuto could never be more grateful for Akaashi. He was happy that Akaashi could handle him, didn't mind his emotional outbursts.
Akaashi knew him and Bokuto thought he knew Akaashi.
He really thought he did, especially during the two years he had known Akaashi.
But he never noticed how during the end of his third year, Akaashi was louder. He never noticed how Akaashi was laughing loudly, talking almost too happily. Bokuto never noticed how Akaashi was acting as energetic as himself.
Or maybe he did notice and he didn't think much of it.
And on graduation day, Akaashi surprised Bokuto, which wasn't an unusual occurrence.
Though Akaashi surprised himself too when he suddenly hugged his upperclassmen with such strong force, it nearly made them fall.
"Bokuto-san, please don't forget me." And that's when his quiet nature came back, the words barely making it past his lips; they tumbled out in a soft mumble.
"I would never forget you! Akaashi, you're making me emotional!" Was Bokutos response, the biggest smile on his face as the sound of the sewn on button tearing off his uniform filled the air, making Akaashi look at him with widened eyes.
Said person could only stare as the button was handed to him.
"Akaashi.. I'm sorry for not telling you any sooner, but please accept this.. alright?"
The mentioned could only laugh, loud and sounding free as he clutched the button in his hands, tears rolling down his face. The overpowering happiness almost drowned out the twinge in his heart, the burning pain engulfing his chest.
"Bokuto-san, of course I'll accept this. It couldn't have been more you." And with a bright smile, the tears still streaming, he bowed down to his waist.
"Thank you for the past three years!"
Akaashi was still crying as he saw Bokuto slowly walk away, his back turning smaller and smaller until it disappeared into the horizon.
Akaashi wasn't very subtle on that day, or the following year in fact.
His teammates noticed how Akaashi was almost acting like a duplicate Bokuto, only a little bit more and he would've been just that.
They were confused, but happy that Akaashi was acting so happy.
Akaashi talked to Bokuto whenever he could and Bokuto visited Akaashi every single time he had the chance to.
Akaashi was grateful.
His teammates noticed how Akaashi was slowly returning to normal, the only difference being how he talked about Bokuto more and more, a fond smile always on his face whenever he did.
Until Bokuto stopped showing up. Until he stopped talking to Akaashi.
Akaashi wasn't sure what to think when it took days, maybe even weeks for Bokuto to answer, his disappointment only growing when the response was a mere OK.
Truth be told, Bokuto was busy. He had a lot of work to do at his university and the trip to Fukurodani Academy to see their games or anything of the sort always took a lot of money and time out of him. The texts he sent to Akaashi was something he barely typed in before collapsing into his bed and falling asleep after long hours of studying in order to not ruin his scholarship.
The only problem? Akaashi didn't know that. And every second that ticked by with Bokuto not responding back made his emotions spike, his mind hazy as he yelled out his former upperclassmens name while tossing to someone, then nearly breaking down internally in an emotional ball when he realized.
But don't worry. Akaashi is a very subtle person.
He'll be able to mask his heightened negative emotions with his equally heightened positive ones.
Whether they were fake or not didn't matter.
Bokuto stared in amazement when he watched his former volleyball team play, finally noticing how much more Akaashi was showing his emotions, seeing him jump and yell and brood and high five everyone.
Though something, far in the back of his mind because he didn't want to believe it, told him that maybe, just maybe, he was the reason why Akaashi was always so held back.
Akaashi would've laughed at him, had he known that Bokuto thought of something obscene, something so incredibly stupid.
He would've, had Bokuto come by more often. But then again, he always returned to his usual self when Bokuto was around.
"Bokuto-san." Akaashi had an ever so slight smile across his face, walking up to the other.
"You played really good out there Akaashi! Makes me wanna play with you again! I really wanna play with you again!" Bokutos voice had gone from being overly happy to a whine in those mere seconds, now pouting at the fact that he couldn't play with his favorite setter.
Akaashi just listened to him, content.
This was nice.
"Bokuto-san, you'll be attending and watching our matches in the spring interhigh, right?"
"Of course Akaashi! That's a promise!"
This was really nice.
But it was gone too soon when he was dragged away, having to watch Bokuto wave at him and leave, his back turning smaller and smaller until it disappeared once more.
Akaashi felt laughter bubble in his throat.
He'll be fine, as long as Bokuto comes by for the spring interhigh. And for the nationals that Akaashi is determined to get to in order for Bokuto to see.
He didn't come.
Akaashi couldn't believe it.
Then again, Bokuto didn't respond to any of his text messages in the past three weeks either. Maybe he shouldn't have set his expectations so high.
"Great job out there captain! I could hit every toss you sent me!" He turned his attention to a kouhai of his, smile big as he patted his back.
"I'm glad you could!" He laughed, pushing down the negative emotions threatening to bubble over.
Bokuto didn't come.
He promised he would.
It was a promise.
"Akaashi-san should all treat us for ice cream!"
That brought Akaashi back, nodding as he took his team out for the ice cream. The team that he barely knew, considering most of his former teammates were third years.
He was laughing and joking around all the way, ignoring the painful burn in his chest.
He didn't come.
It was all that Akaashi could think about when he was laughing. It was all he could think about when he was smiling a bit too widely. The thought clouded Akaashis mind.
And while he forcefully shoved away the tears that wanted to come, the screams of agony..
Bokuto had it all planned. He was going to surprise Akaashi by visiting his school.
He couldn't wait until graduation day, he had to see him now.
And after talking with his former teachers, who he didn't remember being so sad and glum, he was allowed to go to the Academy early in the morning, just so he could surprise Akaashi.
He was humming quietly to himself as he sat in the train, looking at his phone and shifting around giddily in his seat, ignoring the attention that was rousing up beside him and the glances he got for moving around so much.
He couldn't wait to see Akaashi.
As he sat and waited for the right stop to come, he wondered. Why wasn't Akaashi texting him? Even if he couldn't respond so quickly, Akaashi would usually leave behind a message every day, telling Bokuto how his day was and how the team was doing. That hadn't happened for a while now, almost two weeks and Bokuto couldn't help but be sad, frowning.
Maybe Akaashi finally gave up on messaging him because of his lack of an answer?
Bokutos frown only deepened at the thought, shaking his head. Akaashi wouldn't do that to him.
He then thought about how the teachers sounded so sad. He chuckled softly at that. Did they finally realize they're teachers and that it's difficult to be one? He hummed, though the thought wouldn't leave him alone.
He was just excited to meet Akaashi again. He hadn't heard from him for a while and he missed him.
Speaking of missing, Bokuto almost missed his stop while thinking, nearly getting a pant leg caught between the doors as he rushed out last moment, breathing deeply as he stood at the stop.
Then he broke into a wide smile. He gets to see Akaashi in a matter of minutes.
Sure, the walk to their old school Fukurodani Academy would take about half an hour but he didn't mind that. He woke up early to be there before the bell rings since he knew that Akaashi always was there much earlier than the rest.
He skipped along the sidewalk happily, thinking about how happy Akaashi would be when he saw him.
Bokuto then stopped abruptly.
What if Akaashi wouldn't be happy? What if he got mad? Bokuto furrowed his eyebrows at the thought, trying not to slip into that negative mindset as he walked, slower this time.
By the time Bokuto made it to the front gates, the sun was already shining, though not brightly as he walked into the building, looking around an feeling each wave of nostalgia hit him.
He smiled when he saw his former locker being used by someone he didn't know. He walked down halls he remembered sprinting through to get to the gym, the steps he took while he talked to Akaashi.
He remembered faintly which classroom Akaashi was in, now that he was a third year.
Excited to see his former kouhai and surprise him by sitting at his desk, he skipped past the other memories, some teachers looking at him in confusion though he didn't mind. He'd be gone before classes started. He just wanted to visit Akaashi.
He stopped in front of the sliding door, looking at it in wonder as he pushed it open, bright smile still plastered on his face.
And then it was gone.
Bokuto stared and stared at the vase on Akaashis desk, stared at the flower in it as if it would disappear into thin air if he stared hard enough.
He felt his heart breaking.
He couldn't bring himself to say a word as he walked over to the desk that once belonged to Akaashi, bottom lip trembling as he held back tears.
Bokuto allowed his finger to lightly tap at a flower petal before his shoulders started trembling, drops of crystal tears falling on to the desk, the sunlight illuminating them further.
He knew. Akaashi was loved by the entire school so he knew what had happened.
So he broke down.
It was a pitiful sight to see as the students slowly walked in. Seeing someone they knew and cheered for breaking down and sobbing had never been a pretty sight to see.
But Bokuto couldn't have done anything else. He cared so much about Akaashi, every part of his body ached and he didn't want to leave anymore.
His emotions were conflicted, not knowing whether to be mad at Akaashi for doing this to himself but the overpowering sadness was what clouded his mind.
Eventually, Bokuto had to leave since classes were starting. He couldn't stay with where Akaashi once was.
The walk back to the train station was silent.
The ride in the train was only filled with soft mutters and hushed whispers from the people around him.
It was at his dorm room where Bokuto lashed out, anger and grief mixing together to create a whirlwind of negative emotions.
Bokuto wanted to see Akaashi graduate. Bokuto wanted to see Akaashi smiling for the camera as he stood there, clothed in his suit and holding up his diploma proudly.
Bokuto wanted to see Akaashi join him in the college he too wanted to apply for.
Bokuto wanted to see Akaashi for the rest of his life and beyond but he couldn't.
Wails of pain and anguish brought attention to other dorm attendees, ones which Bokuto yelled at so they'd leave him alone.
He spent the rest of the day in the room, ignoring every knock, anything that made him move from the ball he had curled himself into.
The day turned into two, two into four and four into a week later when Bokuto was finally able to move, finally able to numb down the ever so present burn in his chest.
He wanted to see Akaashi be happy with him.
Bokuto laughed, the laugh hollow and lifeless.
He wanted to see Akaashi with him.
Akaashi was always a very subtle human being. Right down to his death.
It was the subtle things that caught Bokutos attention.
Or so he had thought.
How could he have missed this much?
Bokuto didn't know when he moved around his dorm, didn't know when he dragged himself to his classes, didn't know when he stayed up all night thinking.
He didn't know when he walked outside, didn't know when he stood in front of Fukurodani Academys front gates to attend this year's graduation.
Bokuto didn't know when he stood underneath the cherry blossom tree he had been under when he graduated.
But maybe he did know when he felt the pressure of a hug crushing him, smiling just a little bit.
Akaashis presence would never leave him, would it?
It would just be a very subtle thing.
One that Bokuto would always notice.