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That conversation was already over, and he’d probably gone back to class, leaving this list of names with me. Probably moving on towards whatever was next. That was fair.

Yet, as I held my head and stared out of the window, I just couldn’t shake that image from my head.

The two of us, sitting next to each other. Laughing quietly after narrowly escaping trouble.

Being born a year later, getting to skip a grade, growing up again in some alternate universe…no offense to Taiki, but none of it could happen.

Reality can’t be changed so easily. I doubt there’s even a way to get to a different universe, either.

I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, thinking seriously about silly stuff like that.

Still…still…

If there was one out there, I wish we could be there, even for a bit…

Before I moved in with him, we saw each other at the gym every day. I didn’t know anything about that guy, but just that showed a lot of dedication to his club. 

Even if we didn’t talk, it felt like…we were somehow so comfortable with each other, working on shots or smashes like any other day. Even making small talk, sometimes. 

When I felt my loneliest, those times really helped.

Maybe, if we knew each other then, we could walk to class together after. After all that exercise, a trip to the vending machine first would be nice.

If there was a pop quiz coming up that day, I bet it’d be a pretty awkward conversation. 

It’d be nice to give him my notes every once in a while if he needed them, but learning to balance sports and studying is something we high schoolers have to learn! 

Regardless of the answer, the look on his face would make my heart soar, and I’d laugh, no doubt. I know, it’s mean, but I wouldn't be able to help it!

Well, it’s not like I’m perfect either, we did get our clothes swapped before. There could be a day when I forget one of my books. 

If that happened, would we have to put our desks together, and sit even closer?

No doubt he’d be flustered. And yet, he’d still do his absolute best to help me. Someone like him can be surprisingly cool at times…

It’d be hard not to get flustered too, about both of those things…

Being that close to someone…it’s not something I’m used to.

But that Chinatsu, deep down, would be very, very happy.

I’ve never had an experience like this before. Experienced feelings like this.

Thinking a guy’s cute or handsome, getting so happy whenever he’s around, or sad when he’s with someone else…

All that used to be on my mind were basketball, winning, and my team.

It’s caused me so much trouble, this warm and odd feeling, but I still can’t hate it. Not with how it’s made me feel amazing at the best of times, when we’re together.

Love’s made me think such strange things…

“I wonder what we could do after school…”

I lowly muttered to nobody in particular.

All sorts of things, for sure…

Even though I stay after school, being in sports clubs does mean knowing people from other clubs, it’s our very own circle. Occasionally, just chilling out after a hard day of practice is great.

Karaokes, window shopping, the arcade…there are all sorts of fun things to do as a group! 

I wonder if he’d come too…

We wouldn’t be alone, but I wouldn’t really mind as long as he was there.

I’ve managed to do it once, but I don’t know if first-year me would have the courage to ask someone to go with me somewhere…! I’d blush like crazy…he’d have to ask first!!

I’d totally agree then!

If that really happened, it would be the best time ever. Every day would be an adventure, and then, we’d go one more time, with more confidence than before.

Maybe then, with all those days we could spend together, I’d have the courage to tell you how I feel.

But, that’s just proof that I’m lacking in that department. Holding myself back even though it hurts, and wishing for miracles.

Love’s made me think such strange things…

I let out a sigh…

…and a smile began to sprout, without even a thought.

Taiki, someday, I’ll make those happy days real. 

With you, by my side.