SCoRCHeR

Darkness/闇

XIV.

Images from the past did not stop even though her meeting with Tohru was long over. It is almost like she is living them again. The blurry image and sound of all of it. The "family trip", volleyball training with Tohru, dinners, greetings before bedtime, and even the time when they simply sat in the living room roaring about father's favorite comedy show. She would always sit next to Tohru and hugs his arm while he whispers little comments on how the show sucks that makes her actually laugh rather than the puns they show in the TV. And each morning he would always skip breakfast that was made by his mom and drag her to school carrying both of their lunchboxes. He wanted the milk bread they always sell at school that time. He had always liked milk bread whilst she hates them to the point that she would physically get into a fight with him when he tried to stuff them in her mouth.

What are these?, she cringes, close to tears as the memories attack her composure, When did all these happen?

The images she deemed to be unnecessary fragments from her past now suddenly clear themselves. Images that she deems to be no longer of use and made as if they never happened. Is this the result of the years she spent trying to get the Oikawas out of her head? Did Tohru know of this? No, it's not even questionable anymore. He knows. That's why he called her out. He wanted to nullify her right before the match. "Tohru, you asshole."

"So", a voice greets mid-way, and Daichi jolts. Yuu, realization dawns on her along with fear.

"What did you guys talk about? You and that Oikawa." he continues but his voice seems so much distant than she imagined. Or maybe it was not him. Maybe it was her, Daichi realized. Her body does not feel natural at all. It's like she's only half there and her limbs are so numb that she can barely move them.

The girl falls to her knees, hardly able to sort out her thoughts.

"I-I" she stutters, "Nishinoya, I-" words don't seem to come out of her mouth. Instead it sounds more like someone being gagged, and choked, to which the girl came to understand, it was she herself who was being choked. Daichi feels her chest unusually tightening and gasps. I can't breath, she thinks, petrified. What's happening to me?, Daichi reaches around, trying to find anything to hang onto. This never happened. Not even once before. Her body feels heavy and breathing is becoming a more like a workout than a simple task.

"Hey! Chicchan!" Yuu's loud voice wraps around her as she finally clings onto his shirt, gripping the fiber, frustrated that even the muddy refreshing sense of it isn't calming her down.

"Hey!" he calls again but she can't seem to grasp where he is. He would always emit a warmth that is unique to her. So why, now, is it that she can't feel any warmth at all?!

Daichi closes her eyes. The darkness seems to help. Let out a breath, she relaxes herself, enjoying the moment of silent she has with herself.

"DAICHI!"

The sound of her name startles the girl. She grabs the wrists of the hands that are put around her shoulders. Her lungs burn for some reason and Daichi coughs, struggling for air.

The tint of orange enters her vision and her mind immediately registers who it was that she is looking at.

"N-Nishinoya," she manages to say with after a wheeze.

"My god, are you okay?" his concerned voice rings through her ears as she smiles and along with a strong grip on his shoulder, she pulls herself back up against the wall.

Instantly she feels his hold on her arms and being pushed down at her attempt to stand up.

"Don't." Yuu warns, his grasp seems to have relaxed but in no way loose, "Sit here. I'll get you something to drink or something. Don't go anywhere!"

And as his words completed, the libero runs, quicker than she could protest. Daichi exhales, listening to his disappearing footsteps, doing her best to calm her heart down.


Yuu takes a long look at the girl slumping against the wall just outside the gym, the popsicle cold in his hand. She seems even worse than the time they fought.

He avoided those two for a reason, but it seems that that was not a wise decision. Whatever happened between them, it did a number on her. Chicchan is strong, that came to him as a fact. But seeing her breakdown from just a few moments ago shakes the validity of that fact violently.

The libero walks towards her and pulls off his best grin. He knows she can't see his face but at the very least, he has to convince himself that what happened earlier did not affect him. She just almost fainted, there is no reason for him to show her in anyway that he thought she was about to die on him seconds ago. It'll only freak her out further.

"Here", he presses the ice cream against her cheeks, almost bursting out a laugh when she looks startled. Sure she seems surprised, but her face color is much better now, no longer white as sheet like before.

Chicchan turns to him, smiling. An awkward smile, he notices, but a smile nonetheless.

She takes the ice gratefully, trying to open it. She fails though, most likely due to the fact that her body might not have recovered completely from her little stunt earlier. Quickly, the libero takes the popsicle back, tearing off the wrapper for her before handing it back.

"Thanks." she mumbles, taking the ice cream, face red. Yuu sits down next to her, almost feeling thankful to the high power above that she can't see him and his (very possibly) red face right now. He wonders if maybe, he has been minding her business too much lately. It's almost like he's being pulled towards this girl for some reason. Somehow she seems really familiar, but he just can't pinpoint as to why. It's not the time that he spends walking home with her. Definitely not the small talks or the jokes, or the training. It's something else. Something thats almost nostalgic when she smiles.

"I'm fine, Nishinoya." Chicchan suddenly says, pulling Yuu out of his thoughts.

"You didn't seem like it before." he replies noticing how the atmosphere goes down with a BAM instantaneously.

"I'm fine really." the girl claims, with something like a smile on her lips as she bites on the stick.

"So you won't mind if I ask you what you and that Oikawa talked about?" Yuu says, feeling obligated to ask her. He did see them together, and even though it isn't really his business to ask questions, his instinct tells him that he should. "You almost passed out after returning from a talk with him. What happened?"

"It's nothin-"

"Don't say it's nothing." the libero scowls, more at himself than at the girl. Why am I getting angry? he scolds internally. "Frankly saying, I don't know anything about that guy, never planned to know, 'cept for the fact that he's famous with girls, and I hate him for that. But since this time it has to do with you..."

"You saw us." Daichi sighs, stating the obvious.

"Not intentionally," Yuu adds, "but I do care about how your conversation with him affected you. What happened, Chicchan?"

"I don't want to talk about it." she answers, cutting off all of his attempt.

Yuu isn't happy with it. But he lets the matter slide...for now. He doesn't want to force her. After all the steady and painstaking effort that he (and a big part on Suga-san as well) took to get her to start fitting into the team, the boy isn't ready yet to risk it all and create distrust by pushing her.

A sudden gesture comes from Chicchan and he freezes. Her warm breath slips through his shirt with a rush of camellia scent, and the libero almost shivers. His head buzzes at her touch, not giving him enough power to resist the hug.

"Thank you." he hears her say as her hold on him hardens for a flash and disappear as she stands. "You were like this even back then," she continues, "Soda gari gari kun is still your favorite, and you are still here when I needed someone most. That's enough for me. Truly, Nishinoya, thank you."

His eyebrows rise at her words, and Yuu pushes himself of the ground as soon as the girl walks past him. Something clicks in his brain but as always he can't seem to know just what.

She knows him.

And supposedly, he knows her too.

"Nishinoya!" Suga-san's voice jerks him back to reality and he turns towards the third-year. "The match is about to start. Let's g- You okay? You kind of seem out of it."

"Sorry," he replies, slapping senses into himself, "I'm fine. Let's go Suga-san!"

A nod from the setter and he follows, step by step hurrying back to the court.

That's right.

They're up against Dateko next.

This is the moment they have all been waiting for: their revenge. What Chicchan said bothers him a lot but at least for now, what he should do, what he is going to do is focus on the match ahead. After this, he'll have another chance to ask her what she meant.

"Let's win this." he says, grinning at the third-year who, is at the same time, grinning back.


Daichi keeps a firm wrap around the ball, hugging it to herself. Her body hasn't stop trembling yet, and she knows that she has got to keep it together now if she wants to be able to assess the game thats just a few minutes away from starting. Evidently, she didn't expect the time she spent at the Oikawas to affect her this much but, if she has to give it validity, it is understandable. After all, it feels so long ago that they become almost foreign. Probably that's why when the memories come back, the emotions packed in them came back as well. And those emotions hit her hard.

"Chicchan," she hears Koushi-san calls, "Are you ok? You have been holding that ball for so long. Do you need some rest? Tokonami must have been tough on you."

"I'm fine," Daichi smiles in return, handing him the ball, "Are you okay though? It's Dateko after all, I don't think staying here is what you want to do."

A laughter comes from the third year, a tad unexpected, "It's so strange to hear you say that", he says, "Maybe you've changed a little, Chicchan."

"Meaning?" she tilts her head.

"If it was the you who just joined Karasuno a few months ago, then you wouldn't even ask something like that." he answers, "You were always fixed on the regulars."

"Still am now." the girl shrugs, "Anyone can be a regular, I see more of that everyday practicing with all of you than anyone assumes. Especially you, Koushi-san. You are Karasuno's setter, like it or not." she laughs and continues, "There is no such thing as ex-regular. We, Keishin and I, choose the people who have the best percentage to win and have the will to do so as well. This match means a lot to the Cap, Asahi-san and you. I take that into consideration too when I do my analysis."

"Damn right." a sudden voice appears behind her and Daichi quickly notices the source.

"Captain." she greets, face hot from being embarrassed.

"Match is about to start. Time to gather." He orders and, before she can even protest, takes her right hand as his setter friend takes her left.

Presence of almost ten people surrounds her instantly and it takes a moment for Daichi to grasp all of this. The way they are standing, together, hands unite. Something warm sparks inside her chest as the girl feels her body calms down a little. They certainly are shouting and cheering for sure but for this one moment, all seems to her, quiet.

It feels magical. The quiet that all of their hearts bestow on each other. The sensation of standing with so many people in one circle, where everyone's hearts are aiming together towards Dateko's defeat. This is a team. And she is a part of it.

"A word from our coach advisor." the captain loudly announces.

And Daichi snickers. "Alright," she starts, "I wasn't there for you guys when you were fighting against Tokonami-"

"'s alright!", Yuu and Hinata adds.

"-but I'm here now." Daichi continues ignoring the fighting sound from the first-year couple, "It's Dateko. So what if they are an iron wall? Let's tear that Iron wall down and kick their ass."

"YEAH!" the whole team roars and breaks off with a fist-bump.

Her blood boils as she returns to the non-regular section, hand clenched still frozen with the excitement of the team's moral boost. The starting whistle blares as Daichi pulls her hair back, and takes her shoes off, setting them neatly to her side.

"Koushi-san," she inhales before requesting the third-year attention, "whenever I ask for who it was that moved on opponent side, give me a number, okay?"

"Got it." he replies.

Alright, Dateko, she smirks.

Match starts.


"Libero?" the girl asks for the second time.

"13." he answers instantly.

"The Captain is moving just right, so is Kageyama." Chicchan says, almost like she's in a complete trance. Sugawara stares at her posture, amazed.

"Chicchan…" he's afraid to call, worrying that he might break whatever barrier she just set up for herself to block out all distractions around them.

She looks almost like everything around the gym has nothing to do with her. Hair pulled back, bare feet, body slightly leaning forward but not tensed, her eyes closed, and as he understands from the thousand times observing her, only twitch ever so lightly to show her excitement when there is something worthy of analysis. It is as if she stripped all emotional attachment, as if her soul is on the court and not here standing alongside him anymore. The air around her feels cold, and yet the same time unbearably heated.

"Hinata, too fast. Think carefully." the girl seems to say to no one in general immediately before Hinata's spike scores by a hair, "Tobio, control your aim."

This is the first time, he has seen her like this. Completely into the game like this (sure they have practice games and all but none has had her this focused). And it is almost scary how she's deadly sharp at analyzing.

"Good, Yuu." she continues, instantly changes her head's direction. "No. Don't be stupid, you're not there yet."

Asahi's spike bounces off right away the second she finishes her sentence.

That's right, Sugawara reminds himself, she's doing everything she can to help the others. I also have to do my part.

Redirect his attention to the court, the third year too starts his own analysis of the game. He isn't going to let Dateko beat them again. Not this time. They have everything they would ever need. Asahi, Nishinoya, the freak combo, a coach, and Chicchan. There's no way they'll lose. There's no way they will allow themselves to lose.


Daichi nods at the freak toss-and-spike from the first-years, and inhales a deep breath.

She feels a sudden nausea.

What's going on? The girl questions herself dreadfully, My head hurts, even my eyes hurt. What's happening? It's only the start of the match. What's-

Pain flares inside her eyes and Daichi has to brace herself on the wall for a second. Apparently the act didn't go unnoticed.

"Something wrong?" Koushi-san questions, pulling her up with one hand.

"Nothing." she replies. This ain't no place to get distracted. They're winning against Dateko. They need to keep this head start. Dateko isn't easy as she's seen so far, there is a reason for them to be called the Iron Wall. Karasuno is gonna need all it can get to tear down those walls.

Sure Hinata's jump and Tobio's pin-point attack is powerful, but only that will get them nowhere. They were simply stopped by that Inuoka kid for starter last time with the practice match, relying on those attacks solely would waste the talent of the other players.

Hinata is Karasuno's decoy, not the ace. And his enemy won't fall for the same trick twice. They aren't stupid. Tobio seems to be thinking the same thing. However, in order to push the decoy to best use, they have to be sure that the rest of the members can score whenever chances hit as well.

Tsukishima strikes a score and the girl smirks. That's right. They have that prickly giant too. He can be a chance for them. But his relationship with Tobio will get in the way of the match. Those two need to work on their attitude a lot for sure.

And Mr. Decoy has got to learn how to serve properly. What is wrong with that kid?! Don't kill the momentum, asshole!

The score isn't parting ways either. Daichi bites her lower lip impatiently. The two teams are gaining on each other too much. Karasuno needs some kind of break to skip ahead.

"Ah!" the girl squeals, grabbing her head. The fuck is it now?!

"Kubota." an alarmed whisper comes close and she pushes him away, decisively nods, trying her best to stand up. He is the coach. He ain't got no time to-

The trembling starts again. No, she thinks, terrified.

Their chance might be here. Hinata did two successful spikes with that freak tosses. The enemy is bounded to keep their eyes on him now. The decoy card is finally working. She isn't about to fucking back out now.

A anomaly alerts her. She thought it was a fluke at first when he blocked Hinata but apparently not. "Who just jumped?" she turns to the third-year setter, her head throbs.

"Kid's name is Aone," he answers, "7."

Aone, huh? He just jumped twice. That's some leg muscle. But that's also proof that his eyes are entirely on Hinata. dateko is bounded to. They'll want to stop Hinata. Meaning they won't keep much of an eye on the real ace.

Alright, Keishin, she smirks, Show me the special training you did.

All of the members excluding Yuu rush forwards and she clenches her hands. Go, Daichi cheers internally.

Her heart bounces at the sound of Asahi-san's spike hitting the other side of the court.

"Good job." she whispers, right before her legs give out. Daichi falls, barely saved by the quick reaction of the setter standing close by.

The girl's mind goes blank with white buzzing noises when she realized there is no longer blurry streaks of light in her vision. She blinks. One. Two. Three. Nothing.

"Koushi-san," she grabs the hand that is holding her up, scared, "I can't see."

"Kubota-kun!" even Takeda-sensei rushed to her side. She can hear his footsteps. Everything seems alright. Except it's not.

Everything is nothing but darkness. Not even the kind when she turned off the light in her room. Pitch black. Complete darkness. Suffocating her.

No! a scream echoes inside her head.

And she resonates it, mutters, almost cries, clinging on whatever she could, "Koushi-san, where are you? It's too dark. I can't see anything. Help me. I can't see. Help."



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