Disclaimer: I do not own Haikyuu! or any of its characters. I only own my OCs.
A/N: This has been simmering for...quite some time. Let's see how it goes, yeah?
Note: Everyone, except for my main OC, will be referred to by their surnames.
Chapter 1: Fate and Volleyball
The new school year is beginning. I didn't get your regular good luck text message, so I'll be expecting that along with a prompt apology anytime now.
Sorry, sorry! Good luck on your first week of 2nd year! Try not to piss anyone off. Excited to start writing in the paper again?
I can't help if people are stupid and their own lack of comprehension angers them. But yes, I'm very excited to work on the paper again. I have plans for the Creative Corner this year. I hope we got good feedback from it from last year…
You know, for a "Creative Corner", that's not a very creative name. But anyway, I'm sure people loved the column! Just as much as I love it when you don't give out backhanded compliments as graduation gifts.
I will ignore that previous quip. And it's not my fault you're so sensitive.
'Building character' is a lousy way to congratulate your brother on his accolades of conquering the public school system.
Conquering is putting it kindly. Hence backhanded compliments, leading to introspection and the eventual building of character. I'm only looking out for you, baka-nii.
You're the actual worst.
I'll take it. I have to go now. We have to stop making our texts so long. Meeting with the editor about my column.
"I'm sorry, but we have to cut your column from the paper."
Sonozaki Minako had to consciously keep her breath steady to avoid having a raging fit. Of all the things she had to hear…
"I'm sorry, Sonozaki-san, but the Creative Corner just wasn't garnering that much attention." The new, fellow 2nd year assistant editor-in-chief, Asana Tsuyo, looked at her sympathetically, but Minako doubted there was much sincerity in her demeanor.
"But… the people that read it loved it!" she protested, hands balling into fists angrily.
Asana sighed, "Yes, but the demand for it was rather small according to last year's year-end polls. We must cater to the students, and unfortunately the students want to see something else."
Minako stood speechless, her faith in the collective student body of Aoba Johsai diminishing with every breath, and the collective faith in her own writing ability slowly crumbling.
Asana gave the girl a doleful look at the dejected look on her face. "This is by no means an indication of your talent as a storyteller, Sonozaki-san," she pointed out, as if reading the girl's mind. "Pleasing high school students is difficult, and sometimes means focusing on more on…simpler things."
Minako glowered, feeling her face heat up lividly, "That is an insult to my finesse as a writer, and frankly an insult to the base intelligence of the student body. Have they no shame?!"
Asana stared at the girl, eying her warily. "I'm sorry, Sonozaki-san. Maybe next year."
She didn't know whether to be mad at the student population for being a no-good bunch of brainless knobs, or to her assistant editor-in-chief for simply allowing it to be so. But the anger soon dissipated into something more akin to panic, as Minako suddenly felt as if her identity had come into crisis.
"So…" Minako breathed, "what I am to do this year, then? Quit the paper?"
"No, no, absolutely not!" Asana held up her hands in protest. "You're still a valuable member of the team, Sonozaki-san. We'll just have you relocated to another column."
"What column could I possibly undertake as a creative writer?"
"Uh," the young assistant chuckled nervously to herself. "Well, we need a new writer for the sports column. Specifically…the boys volleyball team."
Minako gaped at the fellow second year in front of her through the mess of her ebony fringe. She brushed it out of her face aggressively, as if making the fire in her dark eyes more visible would better help convey the depth of her incredulity.
It didn't. Asana merely looked expectantly at the girl whose form seemed to slump in defeat.
"I…don't know a thing about volleyball!"
"Eheh, it's okay, Sonozaki-san," Asana gave the girl an understanding smile. "There's plenty of time to get used to it before official matches start."
"So, what am I supposed to do till then? What am I supposed to write about?" Minako felt as if her entire existence was being put into question. What was she supposed to do with volleyball? Boys playing volleyball? The embarrassing thought of having to explain to her older brother that she was now merely a glorified high-school-events-regurgitator sent a chilling jolt throughout her body. She could practically hear his mocking chortle.
"Go to practices, learn about the game and the players, interviews—we can organize and publish them accordingly. Maybe even have a player spotlight for each week? There's plenty to do!" Asana grinned wide in encouragement, but Minako didn't register the sentiment.
The dark-haired girl stared ahead, dejected. "I have no choice, do I?"
"Well, you do…" Asana reached over and placed a gentle hand on Minako's shoulder. "But we'd really like it if you stayed…"
Minako stared at the assistant editor, desperately hoping for some spark of light that would ignite a change in mind, and in seeing none she merely sighed and gave a slow, thwarted nod. "Yes, ma'am."
"Thank you, Sonozaki-san! I'll be here to help if you need it!" Asana gave the girl a jubilant pat on the back before Minako started making her way out the door.
Minako stared ahead. Giving herself a moment, and pausing in her shock, she couldn't help but think of this strange phenomenon called fate, and how it was she ended up in this moment, feeling these emotions, and thinking these thoughts. If fate wanted to challenge her as such then there were other ways to do it, she thought angrily. She was once a firm believer that fate was in the hands of the subject itself; your actions dictated it, and then this fate nonsense played out accordingly. However, she felt at that moment that fate itself was challenging that very ideology. 'Why volleyball? At least give me something I can work with.'
"Oh, woe," Minako muttered, staring up at the ceiling dismally as she exited the room. "How fearsome, the will of Fate, for inflicting such wrath upon thee."
"That's the spirit!"
"Ahhhh, Sonozaki-chan! You're so luckyyyy!"
"You get to write for the boys volleyball team!"
"I fail to see the luck in that."
"Do you know who's on the team?"
"Oh my gosh, none other than Oikawa-kun~!"
Minako looked up from her papers to see her copper-haired friend fall onto her desk dramatically, throwing the back of her hand onto her forehead.
"Only the most handsome, talented, and wonderful boy ever!"
"Oi, Matsui, don't say such undignified things out loud."
Minako sighed at the usual flamboyant theatrics exhibited by her long-time classmate and friend. People often questioned why the two were even friends, considering their vastly opposing personalities. Unbeknownst to most, however, is that Minako had to admit that she and Matsui Suzume were actually more similar than people noticed; simply in different ways.
Matsui looked at Minako, stricken with disbelief. "Eh?! Don't tell me you've never heard of Oikawa-kun?! He's in our year!"
Minako shrugged, turning her eyes back to the papers in her hands; it was the starter roster for the boys volleyball team, as well as their positions and statistics. Diddly squat that did for her. Everything either looked like geometric equations or menu items from a restaurant; wing spiker, middle blocker, libero—what was that even supposed to mean?!
"Ehhh, Sonozaki-chan, you've gotten one of the most envious jobs in the entire prefecture! You should at least learn something of the team you're writing for." Matsui shuffled over to Minako's seat and planted herself on it, lightly shoving Minako to the edge. She pointed at the roster.
Minako's eyes followed Matsui's finger as it landed on the middle of the player list onto the picture of a boy with dark, chocolate brown hair, brown eyes, and a seemingly gentle smile.
"That's—" Matsui's eyes searched Minako's excitedly, "—Oikawa-kun! Isn't he dreamy~?"
"Erm," The dark-haired girl looked at the picture, uninterested. Oikawa Tooru, typical pretty-boy, she noted sourly. She recalled girls—so, so many girls, including Matsui herself—screaming his name at random intervals throughout the day during her 1st year, though she never paid any mind to it. Her jaw suddenly tightened and she visibly grimaced at the thought that this was why her creative writing column was cut from the paper; people wanted to read about him. Minako didn't know whether she wanted to throw herself off a cliff, or throw this Oikawa fellow off the cliff.
"I was sad when I found out I wasn't in his class again this year…" Matsui pouted, "but I guess it's okay because his best friend is." Her finger shifted downward to the picture just below Oikawa's, to a boy with spiky, dark-brown hair. Iwaizumi Hajime, she read, and Minako immediately recognized him as the boy who sat in front of and diagonally from her this year.
"They're a killer pair; Iwaizumi-san is already regarded as Seijoh's ace, and Oikawa-kun is of course one of the strongest setters in the prefecture—he's already set to be captain next year!" Matsui slumped against Minako's desk and sighed dreamily, "Aish, you're so lucky, Sonozaki-chan."
"No, I'm really not," Minako pushed Matsui off her desk and shooed her away. "I have no interest in volleyball or sports or…Oikawa-kun—this is a waste of my ability."
Matsui chuckled as she made her way back to her own desk. "Maybe you can utilize your ability for the column? Spice things up a bit?"
The bell rung at that moment and the rest of the students began shuffling in. Minako took note of this Iwaizumi Hajime as he made his way to his own desk, looking nonchalant. He seemed normal enough—no girls fawned obsessively over him, at least. She glanced back down at the paper as the teacher walked into the room and harried everyone to settle down; her eyes finally drifted back to the boy with light brown hair and a sweet-natured smile—aesthetically pleasing, yes, but that's what the worst of them usually were.
Why did Minako get the sudden feeling that her problems were going to start and end with this Oikawa guy?
The end of the day had approached, and Minako made her way to the gymnasium currently used by the volleyball team for their regular practices. It was noisy, humid, and smelly already and it had only been half an hour into practice. Minako's nose wrinkled distastefully, pushing through throngs of squealing fangirls gathered by the doors, and hesitantly made her way inside.
The team was considerably large. Aoba Johsai was known for their exceptionally strong—and vastly popular—sports teams, and apparently volleyball was no exception. The large gymnasium shook with the rhythmic movements of the players, alongside their grunts and enthusiastic yells. This was an entirely different world for the young writer, she thought as she stood inside, close to the doors, completely dumbfounded.
Cheers and squeals erupted from the group of girls behind her, as well as the many that had accumulated above at the upper-level stands. Minako turned her gaze to the side and saw the infamous Oikawa Tooru making his way to the center of the gym for practice drills, smiling amiably and waving to his swooning admirers. Oikawa's smiling form trailed to Minako for a brief second and he gave a small wave. Minako grimaced.
"Uh, excuse me, may we help you?"
Minako turned to the voice—an older man with dirty blond hair wearing a track suit. "Uh, sorry. Um, my name is Sonozaki Minako, sir. I will be the new writer for the boys volleyball team. For the school paper. Uh, please take care of me." She bowed hastily.
"Oh," the man rubbed his head sheepishly, "of course. Uh, welcome Sonozaki-san. I'm Mizoguchi Sadayuki, coach. Uh, okay follow me, I guess."
Minako followed the man to the side lines where another, much older, man stood sternly with his arms crossed over his chest. He regarded the girl warily as she approached.
"Uh, head coach, this is Sonozaki Minako—the new sports columnist for the volleyball team. Sonozaki-san, this is the head coach, Irihata Nobutera."
Head coach Irihata grunted and nodded at the girl, "Welcome. Whatever you need or any questions you may have, just ask. Otherwise, feel free to watch from the upper-level stands or on the side here." His tone was gruff and blunt, but Minako found that she appreciated the straightforwardness.
"Yes, sir. Thank you very much," she bowed again before turning her eyes towards the chaos of the gym where the practice drills were undergoing. "Uh, I'm sorry, but I'm very new to volleyball. I'm afraid I still am not used to the rules and positions…"
"What year are you in?" Coach Mizoguchi asked suddenly.
"Second year, sir."
"Volleyball isn't a complicated sport," the head coach interjected. "Watch the practices often and you'll understand quick enough."
"Um, yes, but we also have many players—most of whom are starters, actually—that are in your year. Feel free to go to them if you need any assistance," Coach Mizoguchi added lightly.
'I'd rather not.'
Minako treaded back a few steps and made herself comfortable against the wall, ignoring the curious stares given to her by few of the players passing by. She pulled out a notebook and pen and made herself look presentable and professional as she poised, ready to take notes on everything she could.
The drills were a convoluted mess of players hitting balls overhead, underhanded, across the room, straight towards the ground. Players themselves were dashing all over the court, jumping at indescribable heights, and throwing themselves on the ground. Minako felt dizzy just trying to follow along. The mixed sounds of players yelling, grunting, and screaming out words that meant nothing to the confused writer integrated together with the cheers and yells from the spectators, and Minako was left thinking the entire situation felt more like a battlefield from a wartime scene rather than a sports spectacle.
The drills took the better half of practice. Minako sighed, bored and annoyed. Her interest peaked as the players were suddenly gathered and split off into teams for practice games. The writer stood up and made her way closer to the court, hoping that observing a mock match would help her better understand what the heck actually happened in this game. But as the matches started, she realized she was more confused than when she first entered.
Volleyball was not as straightforward as throwing a ball into a hoop, or kicking a ball into a goal. Though the primary principle remained largely the same, the formations the players took, the patterns at which they positioned themselves to attack the ball, the random words and phrases being thrown out by people were completely foreign to Minako, and she found herself tapping her pen against the page of her notebook, irritably; nothing made sense.
The games went on for a while, Minako zoning in and out periodically. She took a seat and jotted down a few notes that she was sure would mean nothing to her when she looked at them again the next day. She was beginning to think that maybe this new writing position simply wasn't for her, and deliberated how to break it to Asana that she would no longer be continuing with the school paper. The thought saddened her, but she figured she'd rather spend her time working on her own writing—even if it were independently—than waste it watching boys run around a court hitting a ball over each other.
Minako's gaze rested meaninglessly on one side of the court, where a practice game involving most of the starter players took place. Though this game meant nothing to her, she had to impressively note the strength and prowess of the players; the sheer athleticism demonstrated by these boys who were the same age as her was admirable. Even this Oikawa Tooru, despite his annoyingly sweet and cheery attitude, had a remarkable level of skill—she had to agree with Matsui's statement of him being one of the strongest in the prefecture.
Minako continued staring aimlessly at the game, drowning out the sounds of the players yelling.
"Don't mind, don't mind!"
"Nice receive, Watari-san!"
"Keep it in play, everyone!"
"Hit it hard, Hanamaki!"
"Oi, I got this!"
"Oikawa, one more!"
"O-Oi, watch out!"
Minako eyes focused slowly, as she turned her head towards the voices that all of a sudden got louder. It all seemed to happen in slow motion.
As the vision of a ball came flying towards Minako, she couldn't help but think back to that strange thing called fate. Was it fate that made her a writer in the first place? Was it fate that encouraged her to delve into a world of creative analysis and fiction? Was it fate that compelled her to join the school newspaper, in order to help cultivate the creative minds of her fellow students? Was it fate that canceled her creative writing column, and subsequently threw her into the life of sweaty boys hitting balls? Was it fate that got her here, like a sitting duck, staring with her mouth agape as a volleyball came crashing at her face with the full force of a titanium wrecking ball?
As an acute, thunderous pain surged throughout Minako's face and head, vision blurring, sending her sprawling unceremoniously to the ground, she was only left with only one, achingly aggravated thought.
'I hate volleyball.'
A/N: So...yeah. I love Oikawa. And he'll be coming, don't worry.
Reviews and great, friends. Please let me know what you think!