In the outskirts of town, there was a soccer team. They were returning home from a match when their van had broken down, leaving them all stranded. Worse, their friend Tenma had fallen ill as well.
While everyone was outside, some telling each other stories while others were scolding a mischievous Kariya for his disturbing tale, the ill Tenma was forced to remain inside the bus at the very back where the seat was the biggest; big enough to be a small bed and offered a proper place for him to rest for the night. Tenma still hated it though.
With his fevered body was burning up so high, he could barely see a thing that stood just an inch from him and the massive chaos going on inside of him was excruciating. The room felt so hot that he could barely breathe in the dry air but he didn't dare leave the covers. As dry as it was, the stagnant air in the room was still too cold to bear for the sickly child and he was already wrapped up snuggly within a thick, wool blanket. For Tenma, it was like getting trapped in a boiling pot of lava with a blizzard just waiting for you if you left its safety, basically a sick game of having to choose between being boiled alive or frozen to death.
Of course, none of that was actually true. Everything was at a perfectly reasonable temperature; not that cold but not that hot. But with a scorching fever of over a hundred, your senses do get muddled and blurry.
Tenma groaned as the world around him began spinning again in the form of a painful migrane. "Coach… someone….." wept Tenma as his head began to hurt. By chance, someone had heard and peered in through the bus' window to see Tenma shifting over inside in tears as he pulled whatever more cover he could grab a hold of untto himself.
But this someone was not one of his teammates or the coach Tenma was calling out to. The 'someone' went over to the bus' side to see if anyone was close by. Luckily, everyone was still busily talking with each other without a care in the world. With everyone so engrossed with the other, the 'someone' slunk back and returned to the window. It peeked through the window quietly again.
Now Tenma had calmed down a bit but he was still shivering vigorously. As Tenma did what he could to fall into slumber to sleep away the agonizing pain, he couldn't see that just across him, the very tiny hook that held the bus window down began to move ever so silently by itself until it fell completely in opposite way.
With nothing holding it down, the window began to move itself up without a creak…
*Yawn!* went the smallest of them with his mouth wide open. He tried to cover it of course but his hands were just too small to.
"Where on Earth is Coach Endou?"
"I think he's still contacting our parents that we're going to be stuck here for the night, Shinsuke." A white haired boy with dark skin answered. Even though he was sitting the farthest from the group, leaning by on a tree, he was still loud enough to hear.
"Really, Kurama? I thought he had already told them." He said.
"We're still pretty far from home and it is really late." Shindou pointed out. "Maybe some of our parents might not even be at home because they're working late so he's probably doing what he can to inform everyone. He has to inform the school about this too."
"Speaking of late, maybe we should all go to bed. It's very late and we might have to wake up early tomorrow." said a girl with short blue hair who was still in her uniform as she had no other change. This wasn't meant to be a whole day thing. At most, it would have taken about as long as a normal field trip so no one was prepared to camp out overnight and it was guaranteed to be a very uncomfortable night- for the boys at least.
The redhead from before came out with another meek girl whose brown hair had been tied to pigtails with a round thing at hand. She pulled the string and threw it over for it to burst into a tent that could very well house them all comfortably.
"A tent? No fair! Why do you guys have to sleep somewhere else?" Kariya muttered out loud.
The fiery one threw a rock at him and yelled, "What did you say, you pervert!?"
"What!? No! I didn't mean it that way!" Kariya yelled, realizing the other interpretations of his words. But the pink-haired just wagged his fingers at him.
"Kariya! You should know better than that!" He scolded with a laugh.
"Oh, I'm sorry Miss Kirino, maybe you can- oh right, you're a guy." Kariya snapped back, popping a vein in Kirino's head because his gender had always been an object of annoyance to him. He was a boy! Why was it so hard for people to get that!? His best friend Shindou was very well aware of his friend's feelings and quickly pulled him down to calm him. It didn't help to see Kariya smirking victoriously just across them.
"Come on, you two, don't start." He said. "Tenma's just asleep inside the bus. We wouldn't want to make his fever worse."
"Fine, fine, Captain." Kariya said, "and Missy." Kirino snapped but knew better than to react and start disarray that would disturb their teammate so he grabbed his jacket and stormed inside the bus to sleep early. Shindou tried to calm his friend again before glaring at Kariya who looked like he was having a good laugh inside.
He frowned and was about to go and scold him when Kirino came outside again, saying out loud, "Hey, guys, where's Tenma?"
"What?" Shindou said as he went inside to check. There were nothing but empty seats and a window wide open. "Didn't Coach Endou put him inside?" The two went around to check if Tenma had just decided to hide under the seats or something, but the bus was completely empty inside. The others outside had begun to grow worried and Shindou went out the door again and asked if Sangoku could open the luggage hold. Sangoku was the goalkeeper and the oldest of them all, but he still had a lot of respect for the younger captain and obeyed. But when they did, it was also empty.
"Maybe he got better and decided to take a walk?" A tanned boy wearing goggles on his head suggested but Shindou shook his head.
"But the door and the window were open. Also, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have gotten far with his fever, Hamano." Shindou explained. "Anyway, we all would've noticed."
"But still, it wouldn't hurt to go look around for him." A burly boy suggested. "He isn't here so he has to be somewhere else."
"Okay, Kuramada. Just in case, let's look around, but two people stay behind in case he's here somewhere." Shindou consented. "Hikaru, Amagi, can you two stay here and watch the bus?" Hikaru and the big Amagi nodded their heads. Shindou looked to the rest of them. "Let's split into groups of two." He said.
"I swear, he really does know to make a mess of things." Kurama sighed but no one paid attention to him. After the groupings were set, they separated in search for their sickly friend. It was around eleven twenty when they started. Four hours later at three in the morning, they returned to the bus and when Hikaru and Amagi shook their heads sadly to them, they had realized that their friend Tenma had vanished.
Just as the situation dawned on them, Hikaru remembered something and spoke up, "Oh yeah, coach came back while you guys were out." Hikaru said with an embarrassed laugh. "He went off to look for him. He said to tell you guys to wait and rest here once you came back." Everyone looked at each other, realizing there wasn't much they could do now and it was so late, too.
"Let's call the police before we sleep." Nishiki suggested. He was among the older ones as well. He had tanned skin and a long ponytail. He had an easy going attitude. But in situations like this, he would become a little more serious and it showed.
"There's no need for that." Amagi said. "Coach already did. He had to run up and find a good signal before he could though."
"Wait, really?" Kariya said before checking his own phone, and it was only then that he noticed there was absolutely no reception where they were. No wonder coach was gone for so long earlier.
"Let's do as coach said and rest here then." Shindou said with a frown.
"What? No, we have to keep looking for Tenma!" Shinsuke protested, but everyone gave each other a sympathetic glance.
"Shinsuke, I know how you feel," Shindou said. "Believe me, if I could I'd search the town over and over again until we've found Tenma but we're too tired to keep on searching and it's too dark to find anything. Like it or not, there's really not much we can do now but wait." Shinsuke was disheartened. Not just by the fact that they weren't going to keep on searching but because he knew that the captain was right. He was pretty tired and so was everyone else. It didn't help that they played an exhausting match earlier with extra time to break their tied points which only ended with another tie resulting with a penalty shoot-out.
"Don't worry. If he isn't back by tomorrow, we can try looking for him again." Sangoku assured, which was enough to make an anxious Shinsuke smile. They all knew how close friends he was with Tenma, you'd never see them apart. Everyone smiled, feeling a little better themselves, and they all decided to turn in for the night. They said no words except for, 'Good night', or something like that and went back to their respective sleeping quarters and laid out their sleeping bags to rest in, where they lied until one by one, they soon fell asleep.
"Shindou, you still awake?" Kirino asked tiredly to his friend.
"Yes, Kirino. I can't sleep." Shindou said.
"Are you worried about him?" Kirino asked with a yawn. "You know how Tenma is. Maybe we're all worried about nothing. Maybe he did feel better and decided to just wander off on his own or something. He's fine."
"Yeah… you're probably right." Shindou said with a frown, but he couldn't stop being worried for some reason even though he knew Tenma must be all right. Wherever he was.