Art by @suncelia on deviantart
“Okay break! Guys we’re done for today! Drink something and assemble!”
The coach’s voice rang through the hall and heavy breathing filled the ranks as practice was finally over.
I felt the exhilarating rush of endorphins in my veins, and my mind slowly went from extremely focused to a little worn out.
This was good practice.
Still, something felt off.
It was probably because one of my spikes didn’t go through. Or that weird set.
Damn it, ugh.
A towel was thrown at me and I shot a look at whoever had thrown it, until I realized it was Iwaizumi.
Nodding towards him I grabbed a water bottle and started to gulp down the drink.
To my utmost dismay, my wrist started to hurt a little, and when I looked at it realised a slight bruise forming on it.
I sighed and flexed it backwards and forwards ro check mobility and was glad to find no significant pain.
“You good Omi?”
My anger suddenly rose when Miya came along, a towel draped on his head.
“Fine”, I gritted out.
Before the setter could make any other comment, the coach waved us all over.
“Okay listen! We’ve had the tryouts and I’ve had my pick of the best, but now after some practice matches we will soon be having real ones. The season is starting, boys.”
Guessing from the fact that most of the players were alphas, they probably didn’t even realise how much their scents said about themselves.
They were reeking.
“Now one thing me and the other trainers have established for this semester, we’ll be having more players and therefore more competition”.
Makes sense. As the last time I made the varsity team players would be replaced in an instant, if they didn’t show what the coach needed to see.
Still, it felt like something was coming.
“As we have more than 16 players with us right now, we will be forming two teams. And these teams will be focusing on different games.”
There it was.
The shoe dropped.
“What does that mean?”, Iwaizumi spoke up.
“That Means, I’ll have an A team and a B team. B team will always be able to jump in for A team members, but the A team will play the big games.”
“Meaning I’ll assign you to the teams. Changes can happen every second. Don’t see yourself as superior for a second. Everyone is replaceable.”
I pressed my fingers together in a fist until I felt a slight burning sensation.
“Give it your best guys. The lists are hung up on the digital bulletin board. See ya next time!”
The crowds dispersed and most of the players scrambled to check their phones in the locker room.
With no rush, I finished my water and went straight to the showers. The cold water was refreshing, and when I came out most of the players that I would call mediocre were gone.
I turned around to look at the person who called me.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m in it too”.
“Yeah, Oikawa too. I think it’s less of a deal than me make it”
With a quick stride I went to my backpack and checked my phone, a couple of taps and I found my name on a list.
SAKUSA KIYOOMI. B TEAM.
This has got to be a joke.
Not after everything I’ve done.
This isn’t right.
This is wrong.
There is a mistake.
“What in the-”, I cut myself off as I realised how horribly uneven my own voice sounded.
With a scoff I threw my phone back into my backpack and leaned my head against the lockers in front of me.
I’m on the B-team?
It’s obvious that the coach is making some kind of distinction between the two teams, trying to focus more on one team than on the other. Or maybe he is just trying to split us up to condition us more?
How is it possible that I am on the B-team?
B team will always be able to jump in for A team members, but the A team will play the big games.
The B-team is obviously less valuable than the A-team.
I am not less than.
I can’t be.
There must be a mistake?
I whipped my head around to find Atsumu keeping his healthy distance but looking at me with something in his eyes I couldn’t pinpoint.
Don’t pity me.
“Without another word, not even a sound, I grabbed my backpack and didn’t bother with the droplets falling down my neck as I trotted out of the locker room.
This is a mistake.
It has to be.
Instead of heading to my dorm, I took a turn to the left to search for the coach. He was normally still in the hall or close to his office, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else before I resolved this.
“I like that you question my choices Tooru, I get it”
My feet skidded to a halt as I heard a conversation a couple of metres in front of me. Not meaning to eavesdrop, I slowly walked closer and stopped again, seeing our coach talk to Oikawa who had his back to me.
“It’s nice to have you be upfront with me, and I know what you think. You’re not B-team material. Especially next to others you shine. It’s nothing new for you. You can handle the pressure, the organization and the publicity. You’re an asset.”
I felt somehow even though I didn’t know the setter in front of me very well, that we shared some sort of perspective. His coffee scent was stale and didn’t clear up even after the coach’s words, and I knew there was a ‘but’ coming.
Here we go.
“I know you’re a premed student. And you’re graduating next year, presuming you finish all of your classes and give your all for the MCATs. You’ve never skipped practice or deliberately did anything to disrupt the flow of the team. But you take absences. Sometimes you’re a little overworked and I can sense it. I believe personally, that this will all be a little too much soon. Because this season will be a hard challenge”
I wasn’t sure what Oikawa was thinking at this point, but I suddenly felt a wave of rage coming up.
Was it my own? Or part of his?
It’s one thing if you just don’t make the cut for the team, but being held out from it because the coach thought one couldn’t do it?
I caught Oikawa’s shoulder clenching and relaxing, before he dipped his head down for a moment and mumbled something I couldn’t distinguish. With a slight jog, he disappeared into the hallway, and his back was the only thing left before that was gone too.
Don’t call me that.
“Yes”, I walked towards the coach and he held his hands behind his back while he looked at me with a smile.
“You seem to have the same question in your mind as Tooru, correct?”
“Why didn’t I make the A-team?”
“I sometimes forget how blunt you are”, he chuckled, but I couldn’t find myself to understand why.
People were often cheerful around me even when I wasn’t, especially people who expressed their emotions way too freely. It led to most of them thinking I was emotionless or stoic, which I can’t blame them for but I truly couldn’t understand how the coach could keep smiling now.
“This is not about ‘making’ the team Kiyoomi.I’m aware that you’re a star player, and I am not blind to your abilities”
“But believe it or not, we have a lot of those this semester, and in the time you were at the camp we built up a very good team with other players who are just as good.This is university level now. There are good players everywhere”.
“But I am better”, I grunted out.
No regrets. It was the truth.
I couldn’t make such a conclusion without proof. I knew it was the truth. This isn’t about arrogance or gloating. I didn’t feel satisfaction in rubbing such things into other people’s faces.
But I am better.
“Hah”,the coach tipped his head back and kept chuckling, “you know the B-team isn’t supposed to be a loser team or something you know that right? There is no place for bad players on my roster. I need a B-team that will be the best undoubtedly. I need you for that”.
“Don’t tell me that stuff. B-team is less than and that’s a fact. And what about Oikawa? Iwaizumi? From what I’ve seen they are high class players. Is Miya going to be the starting setter? Coach, what is this?”, I couldn’t help the sowl on my face, it was infuriating.
A sigh escaped the coach’s mouth, and I felt he was getting tired of this, “You’re being arrogant Kiyoomi. I can change the order any minute. Any second. Keep playing well and I might change something, keep complaining and you’re off the team”
As he turned around and left, I heard his own words repeat inside my head like a mantra.
Anyone is replaceable.
I felt something vibrate inside of my backpack, and I slung it around to fish out my cell phone.
[Messenger: You have been added to ‘B-Team gc’]
Compelling myself not to throw my phone away, I deactivated push notifications for that chat and let my phone slide back into the bag as I made my way back to my dorm room.
All of this is ridiculous.