vir·ga –noun, Meteorology, streaks of water drops or ice particles falling out of a cloud and evaporating before reaching the ground.
One day, three years ago, without cause and without warning, a trophy had appeared on his front doorstep. It had been an otherwise quite unremarkable day, a little blustery, fairly overcast, it had looked a little bit like rain. That was why he'd had a folded umbrella in his hand when he'd opened the door to leave for school, and had found the shiny brass cup sat there as if waiting for him.
Bemused, he'd picked it up. Medium sized, simple but elegant in design, two handles and a cute little cap lip topped with a small but perfected formed shiny golden basketball.
He'd recognised it, of course. He'd been lusting after it just two weeks before. But in the end it hadn't been awarded to him, though that didn't stop him from tilting the base curiously to read the plaque just in case the organisation had decided to give it to him after all.
But no. No, that was not the case.
He'd wondered then what to do with it, and how it had even got there, and why, and whether it was meant to be some kind of insult. But he hadn't known and besides, it had looked like rain. So he'd set the cup down on the floor just inside the door, assuming that its wayward owner would show up to reclaim it sooner or later in his usual casual fashion, and kicking the door closed with a foot had headed off to school, umbrella swinging as he walked.
The trophy remained where he had put it for half a year until, at his mother's insistence, he relocated it with some reluctance to his bedroom floor where it sat out its days among laundry and basketball magazines. Initially his eyes had had a tendency to alight on it and he might be seen to slow in his actions or pause in his stride momentarily as if reminded of something, but then he would shake his head and carry on, dismissing the recollections from his mind.
Then, as time passed, it became so much a part of the general clutter of his possessions that he barely even saw it anymore.
It wasn't until six months later that he was reminded again. Whilst unpacking his suitcase in his new San Francisco University dorm, he'd pulled that very same trophy out from amongst the folded cottons with considerable surprise. He stared at it in his hand for a moment, bemused, brows furrowed. He couldn't remember having packed it at all. How silly of him, he mused, to have brought all this way a trophy that didn't even belong to him.
He felt the smooth and cool surface of the brass for a moment. He ran his fingers thoughtfully over the elegantly engraved name. Then, with something that resembled a regretful sigh and a shake of his head, he put it down again and carried on unpacking. Later he would place it into the dark storage hollow under his mattress and not entirely forget about it all over again.
Life in his new home kept him busy, which thankfully kept him from thinking too much. He applied himself to studies and to basketball. He didn't bother to socialise outside of the team, in part due to his habit and in part due to the language barrier which, in his first year, he felt keenly. Though he could cope well enough with the structured, standard English of the textbooks, his ears struggled with the lilting cheerful slang of his American classmates.
On the rare occasions when he ventured out with the team on their organised nights out he found the experiences more unsettling than enjoyable. He quickly learnt that women in America were a lot more forward, almost shameless, in expressing their admiration. It gave him a bad feeling, as if he were a toy, a piece of meat, something that existed solely for their pleasure and which they had a right to touch, to tease or to mock as they wished.
To put it simply, he had never had the experience of having his arse grabbed and squeezed by unruly women until he arrived in America. He had also never felt his isolation quite so keenly.
But that was just one of so many things to which he needed to adjust. And, as was his way, adjust he did. By the time his second year rolled around, his command of the language had caught up, his understanding of the cultural differences was developing well and his basketball was better than ever.
Indeed, it almost seemed as if everything was finally going perfectly for him.
Perfectly right up until one drizzly morning in April when he opened his dorm door to find a trophy sitting outside on the hall carpet. He rubbed his eyes groggily, for it was early in the morning, and stared at it beadily, feeling that nasty sense of déjà vu and momentarily unable to understand what he was seeing.
Very slowly, as if thinking it might all be a weird dream, he took a careful step backwards and closed the door again on the offending object, leaving the hallway empty and silent.
Unfortunately it was still there when he opened the door again some half hour later, after having convinced himself he must have been imagining it. With utmost reluctance he picked it up to examine. The description engraved carefully onto the base explained that it had been awarded to this season's highest points scorer in the Florida Interstate University leagues. He looked left and right down the corridor in case someone was there, but it was deserted. There was no sign of the bizarre trophy fiend.
Florida he mouthed to himself, feeling an odd and painful pang in the region of his stomach. He placed the trophy back down where he'd found it and stepped carefully around it, closing the door and heading off to class, hands inexplicably trembling. He shook them vigorously as if to shake the feeling out.
A third cup was awaiting him upon his return. Not on the floor this time, but in the hands of the man to whom it belonged. He was sitting in his usual wayward fashion on the carpet, back resting against the solid wooden door, eyes closed.
At the sight of the unwelcomed visitor, Rukawa froze in the middle of the corridor. As if sensing the bubbling wave of animosity directed his way, Sendoh Akira opened his eyes thoughtfully. He face broke out into a hopeful, weakened smile.
Rukawa stared and said nothing.
With an easy stretch and a yawn Sendoh got to his feet, elongated limbs moving elegantly for all their length, giving as always the impression of a greatly controlled agile form. Rukawa was reminded all over again that nothing about Sendoh Akira was ever accidental.
That same boy now scratched his head thoughtfully and, in the face of Rukawa's simmering outrage, offered half an explanation.
"We're playing your team next week. I saw your name on the rooster. That's how I found you."
Rukawa's expression did not change.
"It was a five hour flight to get here," Sendoh offered, as if hoping to get sympathy for effort.
Rukawa, however, was unmoved. "Fuck off" he told him simply, folding his arms.
Sendoh visibly winced. "Look… Kaede I…"
Rukawa's enraged expression silenced him. Sendoh sighed unhappily and, bending down placed the third trophy down beside the second one. "They've got a nice design these," he said ramblingly, mostly to himself, eying the trophies miserably. "See…" he quite deliberately removed the fine brass cap and placed it on the floor. "You can even store stuff inside, if you like."
Sendoh straightened and pushed his hands deep into his pockets with an unhappy sigh. "I guess I'll see you at the game next week then."
Rukawa's only reaction was to move to the side, leaving space for Sendoh to pass by on his way out of the corridor. A brief brush of air, of cloth, the quiet sound of his breath, his heart beating, and all that was left to be seen was his broad back disappearing. Rukawa clenched his fists by his sides in a bid to control his rising temper.
He kicked the two trophies into the door with such fury that they left a mark. And then, as he stood there panting with his own thumping rage in the corridor, an odd thought came to him. His lips twisted. His brows creased in adrenaline fuelled annoyance and he entered his room, slamming the door behind him and went rummaging angrily through his collected clutter for the MVP trophy that had been left in his care so many years before. The object that had been both his torment and his only precious goodbye.
Sendoh's face was a picture of astonishment as a slim piece of card was hurled into his face.
"What the fuck is this?"
He had the cheek to act ignorant. "I don't know…" he picked it up off the floor, looking down at it curiously "…it looks like an old airline ticket."
Rukawa was breathing heavily through his nose in the hotel corridor. He had found Sendoh's temporary address from a folded note which Sendoh had left inside the second trophy earlier that morning.
Incensed at Sendoh's casual flippantry he pulled another paper from his pocket, a very old leaf, one that had accompanied the airline ticket, and read it aloud angrily.
Kaede, please come with me. Akira.
Finally Sendoh had enough shame to be embarrassed, chewing his lips, shifting his feet. Rukawa's anger did not relent.
"Why the fuck did you decide to leave this on my doorstep instead of just fucking asking me?"
"I thought you would open the lid" Sendoh replied meekly.
Rukawa ground his teeth together. "How can you be so stupid? Three years. Three fucking years you just disappeared. I thought... I thought…" he stopped. Sendoh looked up hopefully and Rukawa looked away. His unspoken words hung in the air.
Tentatively Sendoh reached out and took a comforting hold of his forearm.
"I put in a request for a transfer" he said softly, "as soon as I heard you were here in San Fan. I'll be moving as soon as its approved, if you don't mind, of course."
Rukawa chewed irresolutely on his lip for a moment before visibly deflating. It was all so surreal, like he was pulling pins out of his brain. So many doubts and fears and tears traced into his psyche. "Aa" he finally replied awkwardly, not shaking off Sendoh's hand but not meeting his eyes either, "I suppose that's for the best."
Sendoh beamed. With a soft hand he drew Rukawa gently closer. With a grateful rush of breath he leaned his head on the familiar shoulder. Rukawa shifted his weight uncomfortably, frowning slightly at the wall. Sendoh smiled contentedly into his neck.
"Why didn't you contact me?" Rukawa asked in a voice of warm defeat.
There was no reply.
You thought I'd decided not to go with you he realised, along with another case of trembling fingers. He tried to shake them again but it didn't seem to work.
Two hesitant hands lifted nervously, taking an uncertain grasp on the back of his jacket. Rukawa sighed and returned the embrace with a roll of his eyes.
The long outdated airline ticket was left forgotten on the carpet.
The door closed. The rain passed.
What? Yeah I derno.
Heavily inspired by awintea's PoT fic, waxing poetic. Go check it out. She did it first, and she did it way better than me.
I'm in a slump! Can't write anything that isn't completely crap. Ugh.