A/N: This is the first in -hopefully- a series of Haikyuu works, based off prompts that I found lying around the internet. Enjoy!
A long, loud yawn echoed in the still, night air -curling around the hand that had risen to stifle it then rising up and away in a wisp of snake-like vapour.
It continued upwards for a time, tumbling over itself and twisting around on an invisible axis, whilst the street lamps -passing over-head- played with it. Throwing it into various contrasts against the night sky and creating faux clouds. Occasionally, the light would hit the steam just so and it would disappear completely -only to reappear again moments later like a lingering spirit.
Still, they led the lonesome figure, from which the yawn had originated, through the night -illuminating his steps and warding off the smothering darkness. A bit like the guardians from the children's stories, strong, silent, and dependable. Keeping all the bad spirits away so the good people could live happy lives, safe from ill omens and hard luck. This time, they were keeping away the natural cycle of night and day -along with whatever force it was that was trying very hard to make Daichi's eyes close.
Tiredness, probably -because it was late.
Horribly, horribly late.
So late -in fact- that most would call it early, as it had passed midnight a considerable number of hours ago.
Thankfully -and somewhat luckily- for all involved, it was Sunday. Meaning that he wouldn't have to extricate himself from the comforting confines of his duvet again in a few hours to get into school. Which would have really been the final straw. Also, this meant that everyone involved in this fiasco wouldn't have to face his wrath first thing in the morning, when he was far from his most tolerant on the best of days. Of which tomorrow would not be one.
Judging by all that, you might be somewhat inclined to suggest that Daichi was a little bit bitter about being out at this time of night.
You'd be right.
Not because it wasn't entirely necessary for him to be schlepping out at a quarter-past-ridiculous in the morning to sort all this out (because it was). No, he was bitter because this entire fiasco was so easily preventable that the fact it had occurred at all was almost laughable.
Daichi expected that, with hindsight, it would become somewhat amusing. A humorous anecdote to bring out at High-School reunions, so they could all laugh about 'that one time' and poke fun at all the parties concerned. It just didn't -even remotely- resemble one of those right now, when it was three in the morning. The scowl that rested heavily upon his features was a testament to that. As was the way his feat dragged with every third (or so) step and created an awful, screeching-scraping noise that made all the parts of his ears that shouldn't ache, ache.
Each time it happened, he would firmly resolve to pick his feet up, and would promptly forget that resolution a few seconds later -meaning that the sound would ring out again.
He winced, emitting an irritated sort of sound half-way between a hum and a growl, and drove his hands further into the pockets of his jacket.
He wouldn't usually get so wound-up about this sort of thing, and the fact that he was only served to aggravate him further; which certainly didn't help. That he had been irritated to start with did nothing to aid the issue, either. If this had happened at midday, perhaps, this would have been an entirely different matter.
Still, he soldiered on -walking around frozen puddles and occasionally being forced to brace himself against the chilly, winter winds.
He couldn't believe these few months had passed so quickly, it seemed to him that he'd only met the vibrant crop of first-year additions a few days ago. That it was, in fact, a few months baffled him immeasurably. Even more so when one considered the staggering growth-rate those first-years were showcasing. Daichi wished he could improve his skills half as fast.
Of course, they were still a little rough around the edges -but that was to be expected. They were all -bar one- relatively new to the sport, with even the notable exception being well on the road to, yet still far from, the peak of his growth. The rest of them were still more-or-less learning their strengths and weaknesses, and had a long way to go before they realised their full potential. Yet, despite that, they rounded out Daichi's team nicely. It was just a shame that he and Coach Ukai had to bench a good number of their long-standing members to get the best performances out of the team.
Daichi ran a hand through his hair, frustrated at having to make these selection choices -as well as being confronted by such thoughts so late at night. Over the course of the qualifiers, he and Coach had managed to get everyone some time on court, just nowhere near as much as he'd have liked to have given them.
They were all good players. Some of them were very good at certain things.
But Daichi couldn't deny the fact that their current, starting line-up was something exceptional. Something special. He hadn't felt a thrill like the one he got on court with those guys in a very, very long time. They just clicked, as lame as that sounded. It was the best way he'd been able to describe it.
He could only hope that this connection of theirs lasted, and continue to last past the point at which he'd be forced to step aside.
He wished he didn't have to.
His, suddenly melancholic, reverie was broken by an insistent, demanding vibration from his right-trouser pocket; signalling an incoming call. He'd long since put his phone on silent. The noise irritated his sensitive, sleep-deprived ears.
He reluctantly removed a hand from his jacket pocket -lamenting the loss of warmth- and retrieved the device, answering the call and placing the phone against his ear without even checking the caller-ID. He already knew who it was.
"I'm coming, Hinata. Just stay where you are." The line promptly fell into silence, but Daichi could imagine steady breathing on the other end.
Then, Hinata's strained voice managed to squeak out "It's dark", as if that were a perfectly adequate explanation -and made everything crystal clear. Unfortunately, it achieved neither of those things.
Thankfully, after nearly a minute of prolonged quiet, Daichi had pretty-much figured that out for himself anyway. Hinata had been so quiet that Daichi had been forced to strain his ears in order to hear him, which had been his second clue. He sounded as if he were trying to fade into the background, the white noise that lingered on the edges of the call like a buffer against the outside world.
"It's the gym. Our gym. Nothing's going to be in there."
"I know that! It's just…" Hinata trailed off, seeming to struggle in articulating a reason for -Daichi assumed- his phobia. "…I don't like the dark." He finished, sounding embarrassed and somewhat petulant.
Daichi struggled not to laugh at how lame of an explanation that was, because -sadly- this wasn't the time to be laughing at Hinata. "I'd gathered as much by myself, thanks."
Hinata groaned quietly. "It's not that I think there's something in here. I know that there isn't. It just…it just feels as if there might be…"
Daichi looked up at the sky, 'Ah'ing quietly and using the stars to occupy his view in lieu of Hinata's face. "I see. Well, try and focus on the fact that you know there's nothing there. I'll be there soon."
There was another pause, during which Hinata was probably trying to isolate that thought and hold onto it. "Okay…okay. I can do that."
"Good. I'll see you in a few minutes."
With that said, Daichi ended the call -this time keeping it in his hand when it dove back into his jacket pocket. Less chance of him missing a call, that way. To do so now would be a serious failing, and a betrayal of trust. Not that many other people would see it as such. Daichi just liked to hold himself to a higher standard than most, because doing all that he could for his peers was the least he could do.
He glanced up at the school building, which dominated the skyline to his immediate front. It would take him five minutes to get there, at his current pace, and that was probably a couple minutes more than Hinata could hold out; without calling him again for reassurance that Daichi was coming, and had not decided it wasn't worth the bother after-all. With that in mind, Daichi broke into a gentle jog. This way, he'd be there in three minutes -maybe less.
Far more acceptable.
With his increased pace, however, he had to operate on a slightly increased level of caution. There was ice covering the pavement at regular intervals, often covering a near-metre of surface area at a time. If he put his foot down on one of these patches, he could potentially do himself a serious injury -which, at current, was simply not an option.
He'd already been injured once, recently, and that was more than enough for him. So, he trod carefully. Often having to jump his way over large patches of icy lethality, or otherwise swerve around them.
Anything other than stopping.
He didn't have time to stop.
Three minutes later, he arrived at the front of the school and began navigating his way around to the gym -avoiding the doors and gates that would be locked at this time of night. He was surprised that the front of the school compound itself wasn't gated, at the very least, but then reasoned that this was a good sort of neighbourhood. Perhaps they didn't feel as if a gate was needed.
Not that he minded it much, because he could access the gym a lot more easily this way -which he could appreciate right now.
He arrived at the big, iron sliding doors a scant minute after he'd gotten onto the campus, and immediately reached around in his left-hand trouser pocket for the keys.
Even though he completed this rather simple task in a few seconds, it still took far too long for his liking. It didn't help that the key he needed, a little silver number on its own ring, snagged on the lip of the pocket on its way out.
Once it had come free, he set to opening the lock on the gym door -a far trickier operation in the dark than it had any right to be.
He groped around the bottom of the lock with his fingers, clasping the key in his other hand. Then, once he'd found the keyhole, he covered it with one of his fingers -using it as a marker to guide the key home. He quickly turned the key, without a second thought,and once the heavy padlock had clicked open and fallen away he practically hurled the door open and...
…the next thing he knew, he was looking up at the stars.
He registered that he was on his back, first. The hard, unforgiving cement beneath him making its presence felt through his thick, winter coat was quite a feat unto itself. Above him, the stars twinkled jovially -a miasma of glittering balls of light in the far beyond expressing their amusement at his predicament through a medium only they could manage. Then, all around him, he registered the gentle whispering of the wind -murmuring to itself whilst it twisted and twirled its way around him in a ceaseless dance of frigidity.
The last thing that Daichi registered was the warm thing, pressing itself to his chest and wrapping spindly, strong arms around his midsection with a frightening strength. Occasionally, the arms would tremble, and the warm thing would shudder -accompanied by a quiet sniff from somewhere just below his chin.
If he strained his eyes downwards, he could just make out a tuft of orange rebelliously standing against the dark.
Daichi huffed, more in amusement than anything else.
That would be Hinata, then.
He let his younger remain where he was for a few moments more, waiting for the trembling to stop, then gently pried Hinata off his chest and set the little decoy down before him once he'd sat up. There they stayed, regarding each other. Hinata with relief, Daichi with concern.
There weren't any words exchanged for some time, just a quiet sigh of relief once Daichi had established that Hinata hadn't managed to trip over his own feet in the dark and do himself an injury.
"I couldn't do it." Said Hinata, breaking eye-contact and inspecting the ground between his knees. Daichi, not quite comprehending, made a noise to air his confusion. "I…it…it felt like there was something in there, again." Hinata explained, not looking up from the floor.
Daichi made another noise, somewhere between realisation and understanding, then stood up. "That's alright." Said he, smiling when Hinata's slightly baffled gaze rose to meet his own. "You're allowed to be scared of things, it's only natural. That you tried at all is pretty impressive."
He smiled down at the younger boy, offering him a hand up -taken after a moment's consideration. Hinata still looked a bit scared, wary of the encroaching darkness that surrounded them in the -otherwise- deserted courtyard, but he looked markedly better than he must have done when he tackled Daichi a few minutes earlier. Still, Daichi decided it would be best to make themselves scarce before that wariness started to build.
Or before someone happened to see them hanging around a school in the middle of the night -as unlikely as that was.
So, he relocked the gym -pocketing the keys when he was done- then beckoned for Hinata to follow him.
"It'd probably be best if you stayed with me," said he, "I've got a spare futon you can use."
He dispelled any notion of objection with one of his special glares, finding the very idea of Hinata making his way back over the mountain in the dark, by himself unthinkable -he would be failing in his role as the eldest considerably if he permitted such foolishness.
Hinata was worried enough about the dark. Having to concern himself with a mountain, including the icy roads and the pitch black of the very, very small hours of the morning would almost certainly lead to some-kind of melt-down.
He led the way in silence for about five minutes, Hinata trailing along behind him nervously. The atmosphere between them was…odd. Hinata was fretting, and Daichi wanted to help -but wasn't entirely sure what the best course of action would be. Eventually, he just decided to satiate his curiosity.
"How did you manage to get yourself locked in the gym, anyway?" He asked, turning his head slightly to regard his younger.
There was a beat, a pause just long enough for Hinata to register the question, and then the little crow was rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly, offering up a little grin and a shrug by way of explanation.
Again, it was such a lame response that Daichi couldn't help but laugh, letting his mirth ring out into the open air and dispel the lingering cold surrounding them.