The first time Mizusawa saw Kiyama, it was during the opening ceremony when they were first years. His eyes found a green bracelet, glinting from the morning sun's rays. His gaze traveled upwards, finding a face with the bracelet and for a second, all air left his lungs.
His vision grew hazy and he willed himself to calm down. Looking down at his feet, he slowly began to regain his composure. Mizusawa finally looked up.
Kiyama was gone.
The next time was during their second year. Stuck in the same class, Mizusawa inwardly cringed every time Azuma yelled out Kiyama's name. When Takenaka came to him about the boys' rhythmic gymnastics team, he instantly agreed.
Part of him was eager to participate in the sport; another part of him was glad he could do something and not have to worry about Kiyama joining. Students already thought the sport was for girls to begin with. He was safe.
Mizusawa held his yearbook open in his hands. He could feel something swelling deep inside him as he looked at the page.
The next day, he slipped a picture of Kiyama in his school ID, only opening to look at it when no one was around.
With the introduction of Azuma, more and more members began to join their club. Mostly delinquents, but they each brought their own unique style to the mats. Incidents occurred for a while, and Kiyama always found a way to show up and say or do the right thing.
And then Tsuchiya's heart condition came to the surface. At the same time, rumors flew around about Kiyama's past, and Mizusawa felt something clench his heart as Tsuchiya defended the other man.
Kiyama was part of the team.
Tsuchiya and Azuma backed him up completely, leaving Mizusawa with no choice but to go with the flow.
As time went by, Mizusawa found it harder and harder to focus on anything that wasn't Kiyama. The clenching in his stomach only intensified, leaving him struggling for breath. He could feel Tsuchiya's gaze on him, but didn't dare return the gesture. One person knowing was more than enough.
Takenaka turned to him, asking his opinion about going to Teito University. The churning in his stomach kept him from responding, but the others were already talking amongst themselves. Mizusawa forced himself to speak.
Takenaka looked up from his omelet, "Eh?"
"Is..." Unable to take his friend's stare, he looked down at the table, "it okay if I don't go to the training camp?"
Tsuchiya watched from across the table, a worried expression on his face.
"What?" Takenaka's voice dripped with disbelief, "What are you saying? This is a rare chance, you know. What's wrong?"
Mizusawa kept his eyes focused on the Captain, thoughts racing through his mind as he tried and failed to come up with an answer, "Uh, well..."
Takenaka patted him on the shoulder, coming to the conclusion that whatever was bothering him was purely competition-related. Considering the topic closed, he faced forward, leaving Mizusawa to his own devices.
The clenching grew until almost unbearable.
Mizusawa stopped only to take a short breath, a bead of sweat falling next to his brow. Tsukimori not stopping as he yelled out, "Hey, Mizusawa! Keep it up!"
He nodded, getting a firm grip on his box as he lifted it. He started off, stopping just as soon as he began to ran, a solid body connecting with his. The box flew from his arms, landing a few feet away.
Kiyama glanced back, slowing down as he turned around, "Sorry!" He pitched forward, already on his knees as he started to put things back in the box.
Mizusawa began to walk forward, the words slipping out of his mouth before he realized it, "Don't do anything unnecessary." He let his eyes focus on anything that wasn't the man before him, finally making a move as he went to pick up the box, "Don't worry about me." He quickly set the box on the table, the churning in his stomach suddenly returning with a vengeance.
Azuma's yell rang through the atmosphere, but he stayed rooted to the spot, even after the others ran off.
Finally admitting his crush, to Tsuchiya no less, left him off balance. It was only when his stomach started to growl did he realize it was time to eat. But going to the cafeteria meant facing his teammates. Facing Kiyama.
His stomach let out another growl before Mizusawa decided to brace whatever would come his way.
As soon as he entered the cafeteria, questions where thrown at him left and right, and he gave the answer he had been mulling over during the entire walk. He took the empty seat next to Kaneko, picking up his chopsticks, ready to eat.
He paused, daring to look only through the corner of his eye.
"Sorry about earlier."
Mizusawa concentrated on his soup, bringing it up to his lips instead of responding. He could feel everyone's eyes on him, but he couldn't bring himself to answer back.
Nippori's voice broke through the silence. "Hey, what are you sulking about?"
"I-I'm sure he just feels sick!" Tsuchiya's high pitched voice rang out, quick to defend.
"You know, man-" Tsukimori started, only to get cut off by Takenaka.
"Mizusawa! Enough of this crap already. You didn't want to come to this training camp, and now you're ditching our chores." He paused, as if to put some effect on what he said next, "Does it really piss you off so much that Kiyama joined us?"
Mizusawa dipped his head, his mouth remained shut.
Azuma sighed, "What the hell is this about?"
Instead of answering, Takenaka gave his own sigh, "Thanks to you, our team is starting to fall apart."
Mizusawa lifted his head, not letting the sharp pang he felt visible.
"Takenaka-kun..." Kashiwagi-sensei began, only to be cut off by Tsuchiya.
"Yuta-senpai, aren't you saying too much?"
Takenaka poked his food with finality, "There's nothing more to say. Put an end to this crap so all the tension in our team will subside."
Mizusawa gulped, his hunger pains suddenly gone.
Everyone knew. Kiyama knew. Everyone distanced themselves just as he predicted. Mizusawa gripped his picture of Kiyama in his hands. No, Tsuchiya was the same.
From behind him Azuma called out his name. They retreated to the cafeteria and Mizusawa found it was easier to tell Azuma everything than if he tried to talk to Takenaka.
With training camp over and Mizusawa regained the team's trust, it seemed as though everything was slowly going back to normal.
They set off to practice. Kiyama slowed his pacing, letting the last of their team walk beside him, "Mizusawa," he slipped his bracelet off his wrist and started to play with it, "teach me the deer handstand today." He glanced back, bracelet still in hand.
Mizusawa nodded, "Sure." A smile slipped onto his face as he stopped, Kiyama fastened his pace, catching up with Azuma.
Time went on, and while other things happened towards Azuma and Hino, Kiyama slowly started to learn gymnastics from both Mizusawa and Tsuchiya.
With the arrival of the new transfer, Kaneko stayed after to try and persuade his childhood friend to join their gymnastics team. Nippori took off to their usual hang out spot alongside his Aniki and Tsukimori. They ran into Takenaka and Hino and continued the journey together.
Nippori ran on ahead, telling Azuma he was going to tell Natsuko-san to put on some orders for omelet rice. Azuma laughed as he let him. As soon as the boy entered the restaurant, he instantly spotted three familiar heads at their usual tables. "Oi! Kiyama! You're here early!"
The guy looked up, "Oh, Nippori. We were just talking. Is Wataru here?"
Nippori sat down next to Kiyama, waving at Natsuko, "Aniki's on his way. Did you guys order? Natsuko-san! Nine orders of omelet rice!"
He leaned forward, looking at the three, "So when did you guys get so close?"
Mizusawa shrugged, while Tsuchiya grinned, "We've been helping out Kiyama-san. He's a lot of fun to talk to." The boy next to him nodded, letting their eyes meet.
"Oh," Nippori nodded. "That's cool."
He was about to say more when the door to the restaurant opened and Azuma and his teammates walked in.