They have been practicing non-stop since then, even Daichi. Not only on her "skills" and concentration, she has been trying to balance between the club and her study as well. With her part-time job to cover so to add, her days have become busier and busier. She starts bringing her own lunch box to school, making use of all the time she has to practice the recipe that Kiyoko has taught her. Even though she refuses to tell anyone this but truly, Daichi feels happier. She is becoming happier.
She has less time to think now but probably that's for the best at the moment. She likes this fast-paced life. It reminds her of the old days back in New Zealand.
Hanging the bag of sport drinks and Salonsip on the door knob of the club room, Daichi walks downstair to head home. She doesn't stay until after all the practice since she's got to cook tomorrow's meal but even if it's just refreshment and first aid, she would like to help the team.
"Chicchan", she hears someone call.
"Sugawara-san", Daichi greets.
"I knew it was you leaving this stuff for us", he chortles making her blush. Busted sooner than she originally thought. "Thank you... for always looking after us from the dark."
She pulls a lock of hair behind her right ear, happy. Sugawara has, for the last few weeks, becoming more of a brother figure to her. Always watching over her at practice, and making sure that she's not exhausted by the training regimen. Thanks to that, Daichi has also been able to assess his skills also. Though she did feel quite guilty about making him doing extra practice with her at the river bank, so she usually invites him for dinner, and ended up feeling guiltier when he kept paying the bills.
He's helping her so much lately, or maybe from the moment she stepped through that metal door to the court.
"You're going home?" Sugawara asks
"Yeah, well… There isn't really any other reason for me to be here so…"
"I see…" the setter says, seemingly sad. "It's fun to have you around though I guess."
Daichi laughs, tilting her head, "You're actually the first one to tell me that, Sugawara-san"
"Nope", the girl shakes her head, "No one ever actually tell me that. They just kinda accepted that I'm here and put up with my presence."
She hears the third year becomes quiet, and starts to feel bad. There she goes again with the unnecessary straightforwardness… Mom used to say that it was one of her worst traits beside her tendency to snap. Did she perhaps offended the senior in some way? If that's the case then...
"Chicchan! We don't have any practice this Saturday, so do you want to do something fun for a change?", asks the kind boy and Daichi begins to ponder if this is really a good idea.
Sure she can use a little break from all the tension and frankly, her head condition isn't getting any better. It's starting to really tick her off how she is feeling stuck at the phase, where she knows she can use more of her skill but can't. Yesterday was pretty bad, considering how she practically yelled at Hinata to work on his serves rather than fooling around. The kid seems really down and angry at her too… quite sure she pissed Yuu off too with how negative her attitude was. To think they just got along well just a few days ago. Though knowing Yuu, he'll let it go soon enough. That doesn't mean she shouldn't think about her temper though.
Sugawara's offer would have been really tempting had she not started to think that he should work harder for the Inter high rather than going out having fu-
Wh-, the girl's eye brows furrowed, I cannot be thinking that! Sugawara-san works just as hard as everyone else!
"-nh I mean if you have plans with friends beforehand or anything", her ears awkwardly pick up the words from the setter, apparently he has been speaking for a while, though she wasn't really paying attention.
"Let's go." Daichi answers smiling, "You're kind of my only friend aside from Keishin," she shrugs, "sooo where are we going?"
"It's a secret." he replies.
"As long as it's not for illegal organ transport, I'm game."
A chuckle comes from Sugawara as the response to her joke and Daichi makes a silly face, (or at least she hopes it comes out to be so, for all she knows she could be staring intently at him with killing intention… Who knows right?)
"I'll pick you up around 10 a.m and we'll get breakfast together." Sugawara offers but she instantly wards it off.
"No way," she clicks her tongue, "how about you come over at 9 and I'll make us some breakfast? As thanks for taking me out?"
"9 is it then."
And so Daichi bids him adieu before rushing out of the yard. Tomorrow they have tests and for once, she knows that if she can't get a 90 on this one, her score will be in trouble. Silently she prays that her memory wouldn't fail her on the test but truth be told, the girl already knows that her wish ain't gonna happen. Mentally noting to buy aspirin, she huffs. 5 pages of history for the end of Edo period… Life just has to be cruel doesn't it?
Well, at least Saturday is just one day away and this might very well be her first time out with a friend. Daichi drops her smile, and her mind strays to what she and Sugawara can do on that day.
Maybe go see a circus?
Her thoughts go on.
And before she knew it, she was already home.
Sugawara kept looking at his watch restlessly. He wonders if he should ring the doorbell or not. Questions flood his head and the boy turns on the camera on his phone to check his clothes. Just a simple green, blue, and purple check shirt and grey jeans. The setter is quite confident in his own style but still… This is the first time he is seriously hanging out with a girl, so it would be better that he doesn't embarrass both of them with how he dresses.
The door next to him suddenly opens and Sugawara flinches. His head snaps to the girl standing merely steps away from him.
"Sugawara-san? Whatcha doing here and not ringing the bell?", the girl asks just in time for him to calm himself down. The heck was he so nervous about anyway? It's just a trip outside with Chicchan that's all, no other intention. "Well, come in!"
Following the girl inside, he mutters "Excuse me for intruding!" before taking off his shoes and letting himself into the small room.
And when he says small, he means small.
There isn't really much space to this place even though it's an apartment. His is so much larger… The room is so plain too. Just a bed with four small drawers underneath (his guess is she puts most of her clothes there considering he can't seem to find a proper closet anywhere). Everything is compact. Not even a kotatsu is in here and Sugawara cringes at the lack of furniture in the place. It seems that everything is arranged with the mixture of red and white only. Frankly said, it looks really adorable how the two colors mix but this can hardly be enough for daily life usage. How is she gonna warm herself during the winter? There isn't really a closet and those drawers aren't that big either, where does Chicchan actually hang her coats for the coldest months of the year? All he can see hanging is her usual school uniform. Sugawara did conclude that a study table wouldn't be necessary for her but at least she could call out for help if she ever needed it. How did she survive all these years alone under this kind of condition?
The kitchen seems to be the most fully equipped place though. He wonders if she actually cooks.
"Wait for me a bit and I'll make breakfast." Chicchan says, and the third year can't help but feel obligated to offer his assistance.
"Your place is nice," he compliments, not sure if it's his true thought, "a bit smaller than I imagined though."
"Really?" she replies, "Ah-The plates are up there." her fingers point exactly to the cupboard. Did she remembers this house by heart or something?
"I've got it." Sugawara smiles.
"Thanks. I'll get the eggs ready in a few minutes. Just sit down and wait for me ok, Sugawara-san?" the girl chirps making him suddenly feel flustered.
The smell of miso hits his nose and the boy bites his lower lip, wondering if the places he is going to show her will cut it for how much work she's putting into making the food.
He sits, fidgety. His eyes stray to all the corners of the room. Above the bed is one white counter that has a volleyball and a few books with no title on them. Next to the foot of the bed is a little stick-on red box that holds a remote controller which he assumes is for the light. A single key is on the counter with a large bell on it. He can imagine how Chicchan can just pack all of this up into that one bed of her and move into other places quickly as well as lightly.
Now that he really thinks about it, it actually make sense how the furniture is arranged. A clear path from the door to the kitchen to the bed. It's so simple that it pains him how she has to live without anyone's help and adjust everything to fit her condition. Doesn't she have parents? He knows she and Coach Ukai are close but he certainly isn't her father, so how does she even pay for school? Also speaking of school, she's in University prep class isn't she?! Without seeing and she is-
"Breakfast is up, Sugawara-san!", her voices come out of the blue and he looks up towards the girl holding two trays of separate meal portions. "Can you get me the folding table on the other side of the bed?"
"Sure", the boy nods silently (and grimly) carving the word "folding table" into his brain.
Opening up the object, he helps her put down the trays. Rolled eggs, miso soup, pickles and onigiri (hideously shaped onigiri to add).
"Sorry, it doesn't look really good does it-"
"That's the best Japanese breakfast I've ever seen." he cuts in, "Thank you for the food!"
"Thank you for the food!" he hears her say and they start eating breakfast in a happy silence.
That was when he realize how stupid he was minutes ago for checking his outfit. She is blind, Koushi, he thinks, The heck are you thinking?! Worrying about how you look!
Quickly he finishes the soup and expresses his thanks to her by offering to do the dishes while she gets changed. Once again, he goes over everything inside his head. Where he is going to take her, what they are going to do, will she have fun or not, everything. Those hideous onigiri, they were the most delicious ones he has ever eaten. And for a second he feels more stuffed than all the big breakfasts that he used to eat.
"I see," Sugawara says nodding her head, "So you two got along huh? That's good to hear."
"Well, thanks to you I suppose?" Daichi laughs, "Don't deny the fact that you helped him... Thank you, Sugawara-san-"
"Since I'm calling you Chicchan anyway, how about you just call me Koushi?" the setter offers.
"Okay" she smirks, "Tell me then, Koushi-san. Is it really okay for you to buy me lunch like this?"
She hears the third-year chuckle before sipping on his water. She's happy, having him showing her around places like this. Clothing stores, a park, and now this. Truly she never thought the town she lives in could be this large and beautiful. Sugawara seriously is a blessing to her life.
"You made me breakfast, it's natural that I treat you to some lunch." he claims, "We have one last place to go before I walk you home."
"Let's hit the street then!" she cheers, grabbing his hand to dash out of the restaurant.
This day has been wonderful for her and the boy is the kindest she can think of. Daichi is grateful. Things really do seem to be getting better, And it terrifies her that this might just be preparation for something bad that is coming. It has been like that since her childhood and it hasn't changed even now. It's like life always want to lessen the burden that is to come by giving some kind of reward first. Like giving a child candy before telling it that the apocalypse is coming.
The sudden grip at her palms pulls Daichi back to reality. Her face heats up at the touch, surprised. "Come on." she hears Sugawara say, "You'll fall behind and get lost if you aren't careful."
She smiles, tightening her fingers around his. Apocalypse huh? Her whole life has been apocalyptic enough already. What's the worst that can happen anyway, huh? Maybe it's time she just enjoys the moment, enjoys the reward. Not just today, but the days to come as well. Maybe, late as it is, it's time to open her heart as well. It'll be fine wouldn't it? Just a slight bit. If anything turns out badly, she can just revert back instantly and pretend that nothing happened.
That sounds like a plan, Daichi tells herself, Yeah...