Aim for the Sky!, Night Practice

Title: Night Practice [Seigaku]
Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for drinking?
Summary: On the third Tuesday of every month, like clockwork, the three of them meet at the same bar.
AN: I’m not sure how this happened? Somehow this all came together in my head on the way home from marksykins‘s place the other night. I wasn’t away that I had any AftS! future fic in me, but here you go.

Night Practice

On the third Tuesday of every month, like clockwork, the three of them meet at the same bar. Misaki calls it ‘Night Practice’ and then chuckles like it’s a joke, even though Sato and Asakawa never understand what’s funny about it.

They take the same table every time, and Sato always buys the first round of drinks, as retired vice-captain. Asakawa always demands that Sato get his phone out to show Misaki pictures while they’re waiting, and Misaki makes all the appropriate noises about how big the girls are getting. If the drinks don’t arrive fast enough, Asakawa will also demand to see pictures of whatever new girl Misaki is dating this month, and then casually inquire whether she makes him bentos in the morning while Sato grins smugly.

“And just who do you have pictures of?” Misaki will demand when he’s tired of being nettled, and Asakawa always tells him that he doesn’t have any pictures that he can flash around in a public place.

Sometimes Kobayashi will come out as well. Usually he has to make apologies for Kazuhiro, who has to work late a lot, but he almost always brings a bag of cookies along to give to Sato from Kazuhiro, for the girls.

Later in the evening, after Kobayashi has had a few drinks, he’ll complain that Kazuhiro is like both the man and the woman in their relationship at the same time, and he isn’t sure what his job is even supposed to be. Asakawa will say that he ought to ask Sato about that, while Misaki will whine that he just wishes somebody would bake for him once in a while.

Kobayashi also brings news of the Kichida, since they go to university together and he’s the only one who sees them regularly. They try to meet up for lunch once a week, although rarely both of the twins come out together and it’s always a toss-up which one will show. Kobayashi passes on what news he has of either of them, if they’ve had any job offers and if they’re dating anyone seriously, and whether they’ll have to do another semester because they’re short the credits to graduate.

“This is too confusing!” Misaki always ends up protesting after several rounds of asking for clarification about which twin said what about who. “We should just call them by their first names!” Everyone agrees that it’s a good idea, but they never do it.

Talk usually turns to Tsukada-captain at that point, because Kichida’s the only one who has any success getting Tsukada to come out with them, and even he hasn’t had any success lately, since Tsukada had to leave university to take over his father’s shop. He would have made a great teacher, they all agree, but it’s the family business and his father’s health has been poor, so it can’t be helped.

Harada comes out with them often, but this summer he’s out of the country, helping out at Marty’s lacrosse summer camp, or maybe just teaching Canadian school boys to swear in Japanese. Asakawa sends him a mail when they think of it; Sato laughs and calls him a cute little moron when the mail bounces, because obviously Harada’s phone won’t work outside of Japan and they have to mail Marty instead.

Kazuhiro finally does show up this time, with circles under his eyes and his tie already loosened, but grinning because he made it in time for once. When Kobayashi raises an eyebrow, Kazuhiro sheepishly admits that he snuck out early. After checking to make sure that Kobayashi handed over the cookies properly and without eating any of them (“That only happened ONCE,” Kobayashi snaps), Kazuhiro demands that pictures be pulled out all over again.

Soon enough, Sato claims that he has to get home, and when everybody groans and calls him an old man, he reminds them that none of them are lucky enough to have cute ladies waiting at home for them.

“He said cute ladies,” Asakawa says when Misaki protests, and everyone laughs at his expense.

After another round, Kobayashi grudgingly admits that he and Kazuhiro ought to go as well; he has an exam the next day, and Kazuhiro will have to go in to the office early to make up the time he skipped to meet them. They offer a ride home to Asakawa, whose job of the moment is of questionable hours, if reasonable pay.

“Same time next month?” Misaki asks as they get up to leave him. Sato nods and Kobayashi shrugs; Asakawa hugs Misaki quickly and says he’ll call him on his off-day later this week.

Just before last call, another member of their old team saunters in and orders enough shots that the bartender eyes the clock on the wall pointedly.

“You could show up earlier and drink with them, for once,” Misaki says mildly, picking up one of the tiny glasses and admiring the way the light glints through it before downing it. “They always ask about you.”

“What do you tell them?” Tachiki asks. He’s sitting close enough that Misaki can smell the leather of his jacket and the menthol of his cigarettes, and Misaki closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

“That I don’t see as much of you as I want,” he answers, and Tachiki laughs.

When they’ve finished the shots, Tachiki says, “Let’s go to your place.”

“My girlfriend’s at my place,” Misaki points out, although he’s already sliding off his chair, legs unsteady from hours of drinks.

“She can stay if she wants,” Tachiki shrugs.

Outside, it’s pouring down warm rain, and Misaki curses because he’s left his umbrella somewhere again. Tachiki calls him a girl and drops his jacket on Misaki’s shoulders. Misaki draws in another breath of leather and smoke and wet summer air.

On the third Tuesday of every month, like clockwork, Misaki breaks up with his girlfriend, and then sleeps better than he has all month, even if on the third Wednesday of every month he always wakes up alone.

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